How MTD Products shepherded an impossible product to market

roykeatingWhen he took over a new role as Vice President of Business Development in 2012, Roy Keating understood that he was being handed a big mission at Ohio-based MTD Products: to help the privately-held manufacturer accelerate its growth coming out of the recession. “We wanted to do more breakthrough technology, and launch things that were unique to the market — not keep playing a zero-sum, dog-eat-dog game with the competition,” Keating says.

troy-bilt-lgOne of the first products to emerge from MTD’s new emphasis on breakthrough technology is the Troy-Bilt FLEX — a multi-function, all-season engine with attachments that can turn it into a leaf blower, power washer, lawn mower, or snow-thrower. It began showing up in Lowe’s stores this spring.

Here’s how Keating got MTD, founded in 1932, to take on a project that some inside the company thought was impossible.

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• “The business development role I now have hadn’t existed at MTD before,” Keating says. “Because of the downturn in the economy in 2008 and 2009, our industry had been seeing slow growth. My background had been about 18 years in sales. I knew the company, knew the culture, and knew the category, and I had a lot of passion about product.”

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