Woodworkers have been an important part of Gorilla Glue’s success since day one. In fact, according to Lauren Connley, Director of Marketing, the company’s original polyurethane glue was created with woodworkers in mind. “That’s who we built the brand around 10 years ago, when the company first began.”
It’s been a successful decade for Gorilla Glue, and that brown, foaming adhesive that launched the company has now grown into a family of five different products for both woodworkers and DIYers: poly glue, PVA woodworking glue, duct tape, fast-setting CA glue and epoxy. All are made in America. While the variety of end users has broadened as the product line has grown, woodworkers continue to be the core of the company’s business.
Now, Gorilla Glue is hoping to give back to the woodworking community through a unique, new initiative they’re calling the Woodworking Panel. Think of it as a chance to turn important end users into company friends.
Lauren explains that Gorilla Glue has been conducting focus groups with general consumers to get feedback about its products for a number of years. It’s a practice that’s pretty common among many companies these days. But, just last September, the idea surfaced to reach out to woodworkers more exclusively and create something different than the usual focus group. The hope was to open a whole new channel of dialogue with woodworkers, supplying them and their woodworking clubs with Gorilla Glue products at no cost while learning more about what we’re all doing and using in our shops.
“We want our new Woodworking Panel to be more of a two-way street. You call us and ask for samples to use in your projects or in the efforts your local woodworking club is making for the larger community. And, in turn, we can call on you to be spokespeople and product liaisons on our behalf to share new product information or give a demonstration,” Lauren says.
So, last fall Gorilla Glue began to recruit woodworkers at the events, woodworking shows and club meetings it was attending. Sign-up sheets for the new Panel were made available; anyone who wanted to fill one out was encouraged to do so. “We took those sign-ups and evaluated them to find participants that would represent a wide range of users. We then sent out a second screening survey to learn more about those folks that seemed a good fit.”
Their efforts have culminated in a panel of around 50 woodworkers ranging in age from 20-somethings up through 84. Lauren says there’s a good blend of both professionals and amateurs in the group. And, while it’s still possible to sign up for the Panel, the company wants to keep it small enough “so we can really get to know one another.” Participation in the Woodworking Panel is voluntary. Aside from offering hats and T-shirts to panelists that do more extensive focus-group work, there is no monetary compensation offered.
Buzz has begun to build about this new group. To date, Gorilla Glue has been contacted by some 50 woodworking clubs to come and conduct product demonstrations or to learn more about the Woodworking Panel program.
I asked Lauren what sorts of things the Panel has been up to over the last six months. Some of their work has consisted of evaluating new products not yet released to the public. She says 15 members of the group are testing a new product right now, trying it out in their shops for a couple of weeks and then providing feedback.
Not long ago, the group also had the opportunity to put Gorilla Epoxy to new use. As it turns out, the company learned that a couple of woodworkers outside the panel were using their epoxy as wood filler instead of conventional adhesive. In order to see how feasible this application might be to other woodworkers, Gorilla Glue sent the panelists epoxy to try it out as wood filler, too.
Lauren reports that the response was quick and enthusiastic. In fact, one panelist requested epoxy samples for all of his woodworking friends so they could conduct the experiment. And, after doing so, he provided feedback from each of them along with his own comments.
The company hopes to begin some product training in the future so that panelists can be become even better liaisons between Gorilla Glue and the broader network of clubs around the country. “We hope our panelists will become product experts who can be there at events and conduct demonstrations when we can’t,” Lauren says.
Panelists also have the potential to be important conduits to the larger non-woodworking community. “We’re happy to provide product samples that they can take to their clubs when working on projects for charities, schools and other forms of outreach. They can open doors for us to help out where we can. That’s the kind of company Gorilla Glue is. We want to supply people what they want, when they need it, and we’re very excited to do that through our Woodworking Panel.”