How intrapreneurship has helped New Pig Corporation thrive


by Jodie Dello Stritto

Penn State College of Engineering’s School of Engineering Design and Innovation and the Engineering Entrepreneurship Program presented the second Conference on Intrapreneurship on Thursday, May 9, at Eric J. Barron Innovation Hub. This year’s focus was on Intrapreneurial Leadership.

“Without a company’s leadership acknowledging intrapreneurship, it runs the risk of not capitalizing on the many talents of each employee and creating a culture that may restrict its growth,” said conference organizer Frank Koe, professor of Engineering Entrepreneurship at Penn State, about why the event draws a crowd of business owners. “Ideas come from people, not companies. A company structure that permits all employees to do their best work and has a system in place to welcome and vett ideas may very well stay ahead of the competition.”

Founder of Tipton-based New Pig Corporation Ben Stapelfeld gave the keynote address, sharing how intrapreneurial leadership has played a key role in helping the company become the #1 brand of industrial absorbents worldwide. With more than 700 employees across nine countries, New Pig offers 5,000+ products and has earned 32 Plant Engineering New Product of the Year Awards.

“Intrapreneurship,” Stapelfeld said, “is a mindset and approach that can apply everywhere and benefit all areas of an organization.”

He offered examples of how New Pig enables intrapreneurs to flourish by granting decision-making power to individuals closest to situations. “Customer service representatives, for example, can make decisions on refunds. Analysts and developers can follow opportunities and use their judgment to allocate resources,” he explained.

At the core of New Pig’s intrepreneurial approach is a focus on relationship building among customers and team members. “Seeking discussions creates opportunity,” according to Stapelfeld. Customer insights are key to helping the company expand into new spaces and applications, and a cross-functional team works to identify gaps in the business case early in the process while building broad consensus and alignment on new products.

“Companies have to trust intrapreneurship and have faith they are using their best judgment for the greater good,” he said. “And it starts with making sure everyone is listening to customers. Happy customers will always come back. The best salespeople are those who ask questions and listen. Building authentic relationships will take you far.”

Annually, New Pig’s discussion metrics illustrate its commitment to listening: 10,000+ discussions at trade shows, 1,000+ site visits, and more than 350,000 minutes of customer service dialogue. 96% of all calls to New Pig Customer Service are picked up by a live person in three rings or less.

Stapelfeld also noted that a culture of intrapreneurship also benefits the entrepreneurs and owners by breeding accountability across the team and bringing different points of view to the discussion. “Listening to the team along the journey is paramount,” he said.

At the heart of New Pig’s intrapreneurial approach are its core values, Stapelfeld said. “We have strong core values and simple rules, such as taking care of your customers and going above and beyond. Be better than anyone else can be. We challenge our employees and give them opportunities. We want to offer good products and good services and also have some fun. We share a goal to keep growing and allow for a one percent better mindset for our customers and employees,” he said.


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