Innovation & Job News

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Broadsword Solutions hits 30 percent growth, hires more staff

Broadsword Solutions scored some big wins in 2014, setting the stage for the Waterford-based firm to consolidate a lot of those gains this year.

The technology consulting company grew its revenue by 30 percent in 2014. That enabled it to hire two more people, including a senior consultant and a director of strategic solutions. It is still looking to hire another senior consultant. The 10-year-old firm currently employs 10 people.

"Last year was our biggest year ever," says Jeff Dalton, president of Broadsword Solutions. "We have grown into new states. We're currently in 12 states now."

Broadsword Solutions got its start providing tech consulting to local automotive and manufacturing industries. It has transitioned to doing more work with the federal government. It spent much of last year doing work with the likes of NASA and the U.S. General Accounting Office.

"Now we are focusing on the clients we have, and make what we do with them even better," Dalton says.

Source: Jeff Dalton, president of Broadsword Solutions
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Lighthouse Molding joins Automation Alley's 7Cs program

Lighthouse Molding, a small electronics manufacturer based in Sterling Heights, has become one of the first entrants to Automation Alley's 7Cs program.

The 10-year-old company plans to leverage the program's resources in advanced manufacturing to grow its business in the automotive market.

"The potential for new electronics in automotive has grown," says Scott Lowes, president & CEO of Lighthouse Molding. "We have always done electronics assemblies in consumer applications. In automotive, the electronics have gotten much more complex."

And necessary as the automobiles become more digitally oriented. Lighthouse Molding specializes in low-pressure overmolding to encapsulate and protect electronic assemblies. It has hired two people and is looking to add another three to its staff of eight employees.

The Automation Alley 7Cs program is focused on helping local companies integrate more advanced manufacturing methods to their business model. The idea is to help them accelerate their growth and create more jobs.

"It puts emphasis on the advanced manufacturing aspects of electronics," Dalton says. "They are also helping us become a better-managed company."

Source: Scott Lowes, president & CEO of Lighthouse Molding
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

IT sales pros launch own firm, Prime-IT-Solutions

Pete Kaczmarek worked for someone else for 20 years. He did sales in technology and IT, and it did it well. So well that he decided he could do it better on his own and launched his own company.

"I felt like I was on a remote island, and I am doing everything anyway," Kaczmarek says.

So he started Prime-IT-Solutions. The Troy-based company is value-added reseller of technology. Kaczmarek and his team of eight people are selling equipment for the likes of data centers and other IT applications.

Prime-IT-Solutions is targeting small businesses at first, primarily those with fewer than 50 employees. Kaczmarek sees that section as underserved and have significant growth potential. He is also selling to a few larger businesses, mainly because of his history in that area.

"I knew the people," Kaczmarek says. "It was a smooth transition."

Source: Pete Kaczmarek, president of Prime-IT-Solutions
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Southfield-based Onu preps to launch 3-D mobile app

A Southfield-based startup is getting ready to launch a new mobile app that specializes in showing off products in 3-D.

Onu's principal product will target sales professionals looking to show off product demos and catalogues. The patent-pending technology is a subscription-based platform that utilizes 3D technology for that allows sales professionals to make their pitch on a mobile device.

"Anyone who sells consumer goods in a business-to-business scene," says Sam Sesti, president of Onu.

The four-person team has been working on the product since last August. It is gearing up to launch the app this winter. It is targeting sales forces in automotive aftermarket, sporting gods, medical devices, audio-and-visual equipment, and household devices.

"Some of it was because of the proximity in the area," Sesti says. "Some of it was the size of the items that are difficulty to show in real life."

Source: Sam Sesti, president of Onu
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

365 Retail Markets hires 20 in Troy, looks to add 10 more

365 Retail Markets has acquired AirVend, a Utah-based vending machine technology company

365 Retail Markets is working to reinvent the vending machine industry with its MicroMarket technology, a platform that streamlines the remote food purchasing process. AirVend designs, develops, and distributes interactive touchscreen devices that can be retrofitted to nearly any vending machine.

"We are always looking to grow in this space," says Joe Hessling, CEO of 365 Retail Markets. "It's not often technology becomes available in the food service space, but when it does we look at every opportunity."

The Troy-based company's MicroMarket platform serves the vending, foodservice and hospitality industries with a 24/7 unmanned self-checkout system. That way employee break rooms can continuously serve fresh food and beverages. It pulls this off by harnessing new technologies, like touch screens and electronic payment methods.

"We are a technology company that plays in the vending space," Hessling says.

And 365 Retail Markets is proving to be a growing one. It’s revenue is up 75 percent last year and Hessling expects to hit 50 percent revenue growth this year.

The company has been hiring at a steady clip to keep with that growth. It has added 20 people over the last year, including software developers, technicians, and support staff. It is also looking to hire another 10 people right now, including data architects, software developers and project managers. Check out those job openings here.

"We are always hiring for different positions," Hessling says.

Source: Joe Hessling, CEO of 365 Retail Markets
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Genisys, Tri-Pointe Community credit unions kick off year with merger

Genisys Credit Union and Tri-Pointe Community Credit Union are merging into one financial institution which will continue on under the Genisys Credit Union banner.

Auburn Hills-based Genisys Credit Union is the larger of the two financial institutions, a factor that played into Fenton-based Tri-Pointe Community Credit Union decision to join up.

"Tri-Pointe Community was seeking another strong, larger credit union to combine with so that they could be sure that sufficient resources would be devoted to meeting the ever changing needs of its members," says Tom Alter, chief marketing officer of Genisys Credit Union. "Genisys was interested in expanding into Genesee County and a merger with a credit union as successful and strong as Tri-Pointe makes great sense for the members of both organizations."

TriPointe Community Credit Union has five branches clustered in and around Flint. Those branches, along with the credit union's 63 employees, will be integrated into Genisys Credit Union’s operations. Combined, the credit union will have 29 branches, assets totaling more than $1.8 billion, and nearly 175,000 members.

"The merger becomes official on April 1," Alter says.

Genisys Credit Union has been growing steadily in recent years. It has hired 69 people in 2014 and is looking to add another four right now. Alter expects that hiring to slow a little bit this year as the credit union works to consolidate the merger.

"It's going to be all hands on deck to get our systems combined," Alter says.

Source: Tom Alter, chief marketing officer of Genisys Credit Union
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

LJPR expands staff by 6 on double-digit revenue gains

LJPR is not one of those financial adviser firms that sits idly by and waits for things to turn its way. It goes out and gets what it wants. At least that is what it has done with hiring lately.

The Troy-based firm has hired six people over the last year, including five in the last 100 days. Those new hires include tax professionals, financial advisers, support staff, and marketing professionals. It now has a staff of 23 employees and a handful of interns. It’s also looking to hire a financial adviser or two.

"We are always looking for good people," says Leon LaBrecque, founder & chief strategist of LJPR. "Always. We will warehouse a good person if we can find them."

The 26-year-old firm is centered around independent wealth management and is 100 percent employee owned. It specializes in individual retirement planning, investment management, executive financial counseling, nonprofit investment services, estate planning, and tax planning. The firm is currently managing $691 million in assets.

"A lot of the time when there is turmoil in the market some financial advisers stick their heads in the sand," LaBrecque says. "We look for opportunities."

Which would explain its most recent growth streak. LJPR's revenue is up 14 percent over the last year. It was also up 20 percent the year before that. This year it is shooting for a 15 percent gain.

"We have had record earnings seven years in a row," LaBrecque says.

Source: Leon LaBrecque, founder & chief strategist of LJPR
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

PublicCity PR adds to clientele as company grows

PublicCity PR has come a long ways in its first six years. The boutique public relations firm has literally gone from kitchen table to some of the larger boardrooms in Metro Detroit.

The Southfield-based company has recently expanded its client list with some big names, including the likes of Gardner White, Belle Tire, Affinity Tool, InstaBOOST, Michigan Women’s Foundation, and TVStoreOnline.com.

"I never imagined six years ago that we would be in this position to win business from such big establishments," says Jason Brown, founder & principal of PublicCity PR. "It's all from a lot of hard work."

PublicCity PR started on Brown's kitchen table in Oakland County. At the time he was just a former reporter who had been working in PR for a decade, looking to scratch out a living in the communications world. Now he oversees a growing staff of four employees and an intern in the company's own office.

Part of those gains have come from PublicCity PR joining the PRConsultantsGroup as the new Michigan representative. The nationwide organization is composed of senior-level public relations and marketing consultants in every major market in the U.S. Members often work together on projects with each member acting as the expert for their region. PublicCity PR recently work as part of that conglomerate on campaign for Travelocity where the company’s mascot (a gnome) made appearances across Metro Detroit.

"That was an easy project but there is more work to come," Brown says.

Source: Jason Brown, founder & principal of PublicCity PR
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Reliance One hires 15 as it expands across Midwest

Reliance One has become a staple in the staffing business in Michigan over its 16 years.

The Auburn Hills-based company is now working toward expanding that reputation, opening a new office in Chicago this winter.

"We have clients in that market and clients we currently have locally have offices in Chicago," says Jim Beath, co-founder & chairman of Reliance One. "We need to continue that relationship with our clients."

The company has grown significantly over the last few years, notching a double-digit revenue gain in 2014. It’s on pace to do it again this year. That growth has allowed the company to hire 15 people over the last year, including recruiters, administrative, and back office support staff. It now has a staff of 65 employees and an intern. It is also looking to hire four more recruiters and promote more people internally.

"We added a lot of great people that have learned a lot about our company and our industry," Beath says.

Source: Jim Beath, co-founder & chairman of Reliance One
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.
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