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A 115-Year-Old Manufacturing Company and Sundance Filmmaker Reimagine the Corporate Video

CHARLOTTE, N.C. Rather than rely on typical B2B marketing efforts, Charlotte Pipe and Foundry—a 115-year-old family-owned manufacturer—taps into the power of personal narrative and emotion to showcase its history in a short documentary. Working with agency Eric Mower + Associates and Emmy and Sundance Film Festival-winning filmmaker Joris Debeij, the company released the documentary online.

“We could’ve just produced the standard corporate video, but we heard really interesting and powerful anecdotes from employees, and we wanted to tell the bigger story,” said Ruben Lopez, Creative Director at EMA. “We knew we had to capture the emotion of the people who actually work at Charlotte Pipe and whose lives have been impacted by the company in a positive way. It’s a great American story, which led us to the concept of a documentary.”

Debeij—best known for the short film “Making it in America,” which was selected to screen at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival—directed Charlotte Pipe and Foundry’s 10-minute documentary, detailing the stories of eight different employees. Some followed in the footsteps of parents and grandparents working at the Foundry; some are committed to building a better future for their own children; and others have relied on the Foundry in times of peril. The binding tie between their stories: they see each other as family.

Living the American Dream

Brenda Mullis is a 74-year-old part-time employee. She retired in 2012, but returned in 2013 to help train a supervisor. She says she was thrilled to come back because she always enjoyed working at Charlotte Pipe. “I think when you come to a place like this, you see the love that is expressed to you. That can make us better people if we work in the right environment,” said Mullis.

Chase Speights began working at Charlotte Pipe when he was 18 years old. He worked alongside his father, grandfather, and three uncles for four years at the foundry until his father encouraged him to apply for a position in sales. He got the job and now works in Charlotte Pipe’s administrative building. “You’re always told when you’re growing up you can be whatever you want to be. Well, the same applies for Charlotte Pipe,” said Speights.

“Emotional and artistic are not words typically used to describe the standard corporate video,” said Patrick Short, Partner and Creative Director at EMA. “B2B marketing is rarely boiled down to human moments—but they are exactly what make this video cut through the clutter. It’s not about pipe manufacturing or how Charlotte Pipe’s products provide the best ROI; it’s about the people you’d like to do business with,” said Short.

The documentary is being used internally at Charlotte Pipe and Foundry to promote the company’s culture and recruit new employees. It is also on the company’s YouTube page and being shared on social channels.

Charlotte Pipe and Foundry’s loyalty extends beyond its employees. The company has been working with Eric Mower + Associates for 18 years, which is a rarity in the advertising industry. This is just another example of how much the company values relationships.

About Mower

Mower is a digitally-integrated independent marketing, advertising and public relations agency. With 165 professionals in New York, Boston, Atlanta, Charlotte, Cincinnati, Buffalo, Rochester, Albany, and Syracuse, Mower delivers strategic insights, digital solutions, smart creative, and award-winning results to clients. Part of two global agency networks — thenetworkone and IPREX — as well as the 4A’s.