For Grafton firm, it’s all about the in-store experience

Frank Mayer and Associates helps clients throughout the country and beyond compete with online retailers by designing interactive displays and kiosks

Mike Mayer showed off a display of life-size Lego pieces, which was part of a separate project for the Grafton-based company.
By 
JOE POIRIER
Ozaukee Press staff

    Passersby might not think much of what goes on inside the walls of Frank Mayer and Associates when they travel along Wisconsin Avenue in Grafton, but the company has been making a name for itself in the market for interactive displays and kiosks for decades.
    “People usually think our building is a law firm or an accounting firm,” President and Chief Operating Officer Michael Mayer said. “People are surprised our headquarters are based out of Grafton.”
    This year, the company launched a new self-service ordering kiosk called Approach for national retail stores, quick-service restaurants and hotels, which allows consumers to customize their purchases.
    “We partnered with hardware and software companies and have designed an interactive kiosk that will allow consumers to customize their transactions, like online shopping,” Integrated Marketing Manager Cheryl Lesniak said, noting that’s a trend in the industry.
    Consumer data shows restaurants and retailers are experiencing an approximate 20% increase in sales when customers place their own orders as opposed to ordering from the counter, because people typically order more when they are by themselves.
    The company helps its clients compete for consumer loyalty with online stores such as Amazon, and has noticed that more online retailers are opening physical locations for costumers to experience products.
    “Data shows that while consumers like shopping online, they still appreciate the in-store experience,” Lesniak said. “People want to experience the product before they buy it. Retail is still going to be the place to do that.”
    Mayer said it’s critical to listen to clients to help market their products and provide a new experience for consumers. Some of the companies Mayer and Associates has worked with include Nintendo, Lego, Garmin, General Electric and Macy’s.
    “Whether it’s a kiosk or a static display, the brands are competing for that space at retail,” Mayer said. “As a consumer, you are seeing myriad of units and the question becomes, ‘What is the experience the consumer is going to interact with at the kiosk display that will create, in their mind, the decision to buy the product versus the competitive product?’”
    Lesniak said it’s important for the company’s production team to stay at the forefront of new technology, such as virtual and augmented reality and digital facial recognition, in order to incorporate more opportunities for consumers.
    “A lot of that technology is already in this building. Sometimes before our clients can even ask us for it, we’re already showing them that technology,” she said. “We’re not afraid to take a chance by showing a client something they’ve never seen before because we may be the first to take it to market in a display.”
    Several years ago, the company introduced a health-assessment kiosk with SoloHealth, now Pursuant Health, which allows patients to take their blood pressure, monitor their heart rate and weight and check other vital signs.
    “It’s a health assessment prior to making a doctor’s appointment,” Mayer said. “There are many different items and pieces of new technology that have to connect and interact with each other.”
    The company has come a long way since Mayer’s grandfather started it in Milwaukee using silk-screen presses to provide graphic items for local beer producers like Miller Brewing, Schlitz and Pabst.
    In 1964, the company broke ground at its current location at 1975 Wisconsin Ave. in Grafton.
    Mayer credits his father Frank for transitioning the company from a local to national market when he took over in 1980 at the beginning of the electronic-interactive age.
    “It was a challenge at first because it was new to us, but as we looked at it we were able to determine how we could do it and provide quality for our clients,” he said. “When my grandfather started the business, he kept looking to grow and evolve. That has been something we clearly looked at through each generation for this company.”
    Mayer said it’s rewarding to see his grandfather’s business be a prominent player in the industry and believes the future of the company will remain in the family, as his son Michael is a production coordinator.
    Running a family operation is vital for the more than 90 employees to feel comfortable and welcome at work, which lends itself to the company’s name, Mayer said.
    “We call everybody an associate because an employee to me is just another individual. An associate is part of the family,” he said.
    While 98% of their business comes from around the country, Mayer said, it’s part of the company’s mission to give back to Grafton by supporting Little League and charitable organizations like the Grafton Lions Club.
    Although Mayer lives in Mequon, he considers Grafton to be his home.
    “I was born and raised here. It’s very special and humbling to continue having our business thrive in the community,” he said.

 

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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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