April 22, 2014, 12:36 PM

Bullitt Group targets growth in ruggedized mobile phone market

After growing to $50 million in sales in less than five years, the original equipment manufacturer has ambitious plans to grow online as well as through dealers its lines of ruggedized mobile phones under license for companies like construction equipment maker Caterpillar.

Lead Photo

Colin Batt

Bullitt Group, a manufacturer of specialized mobile phones and other consumer electronics products, is targeting fast-growingglobal markets through e-commerce and retail stores.

Launched in 2009, Bullitt has reached annual sales of $50 million across 50 international markets, focusing on designing, manufacturing and distributing specialized electronics products under license from major brands. For Caterpillar Inc., the manufacturer of earth-moving and other types of construction equipment, for example, Bullitt has developed “ruggedized” smartphones, which Bullitt designed to withstand extreme conditions on job sites and in outdoor sporting activity.

“Our ambition is to be No. 1 in the rugged device space by 2015,” Bullitt Group CEO Colin Batt says. “Our strategy to achieve this is to focus on delivering market-leading devices, supported by broad distribution and proactive marketing.”

For example, Bullitt distributes the Cat B15 ruggedized phone, developed for Caterpillar, in 50 markets worldwide, both online and in retail stores. Batt notes that retail outlets include the e-commerce sites and stores operated in Canada by mobile phone services provider Rogers Communications; in South Africa, Bullitt is selling the Cat B15 through Vodacom South Africa, which operates 250 stores and the e-commerce site Vodacom.co.za.  

“We understand that to grow our various brands, for example Cat phones, we need to be able to sell online and to engage regularly with our customers, so growing our online capabilities is a key strategy for us moving forward,” Batt says.

Bullitt helps to drive traffic to retailers on behalf of its clients through custom web sites built on web technology from Microsoft Corp. For Caterpillar, it built CatPhones.com, a site where buyers searching for rugged phones can link to dealers’ e-commerce sites. CatPhone.com was optimized to render on smartphones and tablet computers as well as desktops, Batt says.

Bullitt says the Cat B15 is designed to survive drops from heights of up to 1.8 meters, or just under six feet. The phone can be submerged under water for up to 30 minutes and can withstand temperatures from -20to 55degrees Celsius (-4 to 131 degrees Fahrenheit). It also features a 4-inch multi-touch screen with wet-finger tracking, is dust and scratch resistant, and has a battery that supports up to 16 hours of talk time, the company says.

To provide customer service to end-customers who purchase the phones it develops for Caterpillar and other companies through retailers, Bullitt has retained Munich, Germany-based B2X Care Solutions. B2X, which operates a regional office for the Americas in Atlanta, handles returns of smartphones from end-customers, including pickup, transport and delivery of the mobile devices to Bullitt or another destination, such as a retailer or liquidator.

In addition, B2X will receive and repair damaged devices, and it provides a parts service for delivering parts to repair centers or to mobile carriers and their customers.

“Our customer service experience is critical to the continued growth of our business globally, and B2X provides us with the footprint we need to support our customers as they need help,” Batt says. "We firmly believe that a great customer service experience strengthens the satisfaction of our customers with our products.”

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