Sterling Heights

Q&A: Young entrepreneur on what really matters in manufacturing

Ed Brabandt's manufacturing company in Sterling Heights was recently recognized as one of the top 100 fastest growing inner city businesses in the country. Systematic Manufacturing Inc., which began in 2011 and now employs 17 people, has seen a five-year growth rate of 380% and its 2018 revenue clocked in at $2.4 million.

Here, Brabandt shares what it's like being a young leader, the challenges he sees, and what changes he hopes for in his industry.

Metromode: What motivated you to start up Systems Manufacturing?

Ed Brabandt: I’ve always been an entrepreneur and have had a passion for machining since I was a young man. My father and high school machine shop teacher inspired me to travel this path.

Why did you choose Sterling Heights for your company?

Many of our customers and vendors are located in the area and it’s a convenient place to do business.

What’s the hardest part of your role as the CEO?

Keeping up with the success, and maintaining the necessary workforce to fulfill our customer’s needs.

What are some of the challenges you face when hiring young employees here in Michigan?

For me, the biggest challenge is relating to the younger generation and understanding what is important to them. It has become clear that this generation yearns to be recognized for their accomplishments. I believe we all like to be recognized for our hard work, but the older generations tend to look at the paycheck as their recognition, while the younger generation is looking for more culture. Ultimately, companies that don’t focus on culture will struggle to find younger minds to help push their companies through the coming years.

What would help meet this challenge?

At SMI, we engage in leadership activities and continuing education to maintain a mindset that embraces change. Spreading the word of leadership and the concept of "People before Profits" would help to create a better American culture that supports our businesses.

What do young leaders bring to your industry?

A new, creative, and innovative way of using the latest technology to make something more efficiently, with better quality.

What would your advice be to young leaders looking to create their own business?

Don’t give up! There will be extremely challenging times and there will be many people who say certain things cannot be done. Avoid these people and find good mentors and like-minded individuals to be around.
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Kate Roff is an award-winning freelance writer and journalism educator, currently based out of Detroit. She is the managing editor of Metromode and Model D. Contact her at