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Sunday, 29 April 2012 20:00

Michigan 50 Companies to Watch: Proos Manufacturing

Written by  MiBiz Staff
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Founded: 1919
Location: Grand Rapids
Top Executive: Amy Proos, president
Primary Business: Metal fabrication and assembly manufacturing
Employees: 75 in 2011; 80 expected in 2012

The historic 93-year-old company has grown to be a full-service manufacturer of metal fabrications and assemblies. It rallied through the recession and made 2010 and 2011 record years. Proos recently leased an additional 30,000 square feet and partnered with local community colleges for future growth.

How have you managed to grow your company?

Over 10 years ago, we intentionally set a course to diversify into markets other than automotive. We have a successful and strong background in automotive, and we were able to take those successes into other markets such as office furniture and industrial markets. We have also grown our company by providing engineering services to our customers. This is what sets us apart from our competitors. We are able to provide our customers with the technical knowledge that they may not have on staff.

How did you survive the recession?

Proos survived the recession by being financially responsible for the challenges we were facing. We cut staff and benefits to get through those rough times. We increased communication with our existing employees, so that they could have confidence in the decisions that we were making, and know that the decisions were for the best of all.  It was important (for management) to be transparent, as our staff was 50 percent of what it was in 2008.

What is the largest challenge you have at your business?

We look at challenges as opportunities to grow and develop. Every time we are presented with a new challenge from our customer, we know that it is an opportunity to expand our capabilities. We are finding qualified skilled labor is one of our major challenges. It is getting more difficult to find the skilled laborers. We are working on ways on how we can develop people from within, or where we can find qualified people.

How do you innovate in your company?

Every time we are faced with a challenge, we become innovative to find a solution. We have earned the respect of many of our customers in providing innovative solutions to their struggles. When I purchased the company 18 months ago, I dissolved the organizational chart. I believed that the management staff needed time to evolve. We have grown significantly over the last two years, and it is now time to develop a structure. The structure that we now have in place is going to help us continue to grow, and provide a outline for us to follow.

What is your company’s biggest opportunity?

Our biggest opportunity is to continue with our strong growth pattern. We have grown 40 percent over the last two years and although it has presented us with many challenges, it has been a great opportunity to expand beyond our limits. We have learned more about our strengths in the last few years.

What is the best entrepreneurial advice you’ve received?

The best piece of advice that I have received so far is in regards to communication.  I was once told, “Tell them the entire story. They may not like what you have to say, but they will know the truth.” I was told this when we were going through the recession, and I was struggling with how to explain to my employees the whys of the cutbacks. I continue to work on this bit of advice, and how to communicate with others.

Read 2826 times Last modified on Tuesday, 07 August 2012 10:09

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