Broadview Product Development Corp. had strong business in 2017 with its automotive industry customers and also grew sales to office furniture manufacturers by 25 percent. That growth has President Rick Arnold facing some key challenges at the prototyping and engineering firm. “We’re busier than we have been, and we are busier than our resources can support,” he said. Like most businesses these days, Broadview constantly wrestles with concerns over talent, which remains a key issue for the company heading into 2018.
“I think the (economy) is going to continue to grow as long as something bad globally doesn’t happen that changes everyone’s feelings. The furniture industry certainly seems to tick up from the development side of things. What we do is work on advanced product development stuff with the furniture companies. As we get busy, it means they are developing more products, which means that they’ve got more investments and that they’re (building). It means they are doing well and are planning on bringing new product to the market. It should cause them to grow in the future. I would think the talent issue might be the biggest for West Michigan. Because we live in engineering, we are doing mechanical engineering and manufacturing engineering, and it’s just tough to find the resources. If we could find three or four good people, we could put them to work very quickly. We are 25 people today, so that’d be pretty significant to add three or four. … (Any downturn) is still three or four years out. We’ve had a period of sustained growth, so you’d think there’d be a downturn soon, but the growth has been so slow that a lot of people don’t count it as solid growth. We just hit 3 percent nationally. It seems like we could support that a few years before the downturn hits. Usually downturns hit for some unforeseen reason. Right now, we hope our economy stays strong and all of our customers call tomorrow.”