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Innovation & Job News

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Rochester Hills-based auto supplier, Dow Automotive develop new foam technology


Rochester Hills-based Costal Automotive has reached an agreement with Auburn Hills-based Dow Automotive Systems to license a new foam technology for vehicles capable of filling and sealing three-dimensional cavities.

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Local FASTSIGNS named one of the top centers in the country

Local signs and visual graphics provider FASTSIGNS® of Farmington Hills was named one of the top centers out of more than 570 locations worldwide at the 2015 FASTSIGNS International Convention, which was recently held in Dallas, Texas.
The locally owned and operated business received the Pinnacle Club Award, which is given to the centers ranked 26 to 125 in the U.S. and Canada for sales volume from the previous year.  
“This award commemorates all of the hard work and excellent service our team at FASTSIGNS of Farmington Hills provides every day,” said owner Jay Herning. “We want to thank our customers for their continued support and we look forward to helping them accomplish their business goals for 2015 and beyond.”
Located at 27853 Orchard Lake Road, FASTSIGNS of Farmington Hills has been doing business in the area for over 22 years. The center provides comprehensive visual communications solutions, including wall, window and floor graphics, architectural signs, trade show displays, wayfinding solutions, vehicle wraps, digital signage and more.
“With the evolution of technology and my team’s knowledge and experience, FASTSIGNS of Farmington Hills offers creative solutions for any industry or business challenge,” Herning said. “We’re so much more than just sign makers. We’re visual communications consultants, innovators, designers and marketing specialists dedicated to help local businesses thrive.” 
FASTSIGNS® of Farmington Hills is an independently owned and operated sign, graphics and visual communications company that provides comprehensive visual marketing solutions to customers of all sizes—across all industries—to help them meet their business objectives and increase their business visibility. To learn more, visit fastsigns.com/162 or call (248) 488-9010.

Morpace adds staff as it diversifies client base

Morpace, a Farmington Hills-based market research and consulting firm, is looking to continue growing its revenue, adding staff, and diversifying its clientele in 2015.

"We want to build on our current growth," says Duncan Lawrence, president & CEO of Morpace.

The firm helps its clients figure out and overcome marketing challenges through product development, customer experience, and brand strategy. It has grown its revenue by almost 10 percent over the last year. That has allowed it to hire 30 people, expanding its staff to 220 employees and a handful of interns. It also recently promoted Lawrence, who has been with the company since 1994, to CEO.

"I have hired six people so far this year," Lawrence says.

Morpace has been able to keep growing by diversifying its client base. It has traditionally focused on the automotive industry, but has expanded into a number of other sectors like financial services, retail, and healthcare.

"Healthcare is our fastest growing vertical," Lawrence says. "It has doubled over the last couple of years."

That doesn't mean the 40-year-old firm is ignoring its roots. It is aiming to grow its workload with existing clients and is looking to find more work in overlooked areas in automotive, such as commercial trucks, or power train.

"It's in an area where no one has any deep expertise," Lawrence says. "It's also going through deep change."

Source: Duncan Lawrence, president & CEO of Morpace
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Michigan Israel Business Bridge grows team in Bloomfield Hills

The Michigan Israel Business Bridge is growing its staff and its influence in metro Detroit.

The Bloomfield Hills-based, chamber-of-commerce-like organization has been making connections between the entrepreneurial ecosystems of Michigan and Israel since its launch in 2007. That includes helping companies from both regions do more business with each other and bridging not-so-obvious divides.

"It's also two different cultures you need to bridge," says Pamela Lippitt, executive director of the Michigan Israel Business Bridge. "In Israel a handshake means more than what it means here."

The non-profit, which recently doubled its staff to two people, works with both high-tech and low-tech businesses. For instance, it is hosting a roadshow for four medical device startups from Israel on March 25th. The Michigan Israel Business Bridge also helped organize Gov. Rick Snyder’s recent economic development visit to Israel.

Michigan Israel Business Bridge's members include two Israel-based auto cyber security firms (TowerSec and Argus Cyber Security) open North American offices in Michigan. It's all part of a long effort to further connect the two economies.

"It's a long process that you have to be patient with," Lippitt says.

Source: Pamela Lippitt, executive director of the Michigan Israel Business Bridge
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Hired in Michigan Career Expo on Tuesday, March 31

JobFairGiant.com is hosting the Hired in Michigan Career Expo on Tuesday, March 31, 2015 in Sterling Heights, MI. We expect thousands of candidates to attend the expo event to interview with over 50 companies hiring in several career fields.
Hiring employers include General Motors, Cumulus Broadcasting. Goodwill Industries of Greater Detroit, Onstar, Minacs, Netflix, Dialog Direct, New York Life Insurance, Global Information Technology, Dorsey Schools, Walden University, Phoenix University, Aetna, E.W. Gobble and Sons over 50 public and private sectors employers.
Immediate openings in Engineering, Information Technology, Skilled Trades, Seasonal, Manufacturing, Production, Industrial, General Labor, Customer Services, Retail, Management, Restaurant, Accounting, Banking, Office Support, Clerical, Data Entry, Call Center, Installation, Technical, Machining, Electrical, Mortgage, Financial Planning, Insurance, Education, Truck Driving, Real Estate, Nursing, Rehabilitation, Human Services, and other career fields.

Royal Oak's Vectorform, DTE Energy launch energy saving app


Vectorform, a design and technology firm in downtown Royal Oak, and DTE Energy in Detroit, created and launched a mobile platform that allows residential customers to reduce energy consumption and increase savings. Today’s announcement was made at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

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Rising market for aluminum body vehicles spurs new bonding technology


Henkel Adhesive Technologies, a German-based company with facilities in Madison Heights and Warren, and auto supplier Novelis, with offices in Novi, today announced a partnership to develop advanced bonding technologies for the use of aluminum in vehicles. 

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Troy-based company to produce bulletproof baseball caps


BulletSafe, a Troy-based company specializing in bulletproof vests, has ventured into a new style of protection — bulletproof baseball caps — for police officers and other security personnel.

“This cap gives increased protection without intimidation. It’s a discreet way for officers to be a little bit safer and aligns with community policing practices,” says Tom Nardone, president of BulletSafe.

Read more.

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.

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.

Electro-Matic and Siemens Collaborate on two-day Ford Field technology transfer event

Regional manufacturing technology firm Electro-Matic Ventures, Inc. in collaboration with global engineering and electronics giant, Siemens, once again presents the Midwest’s premiere technology transfer event, Manufacturing In America featuring Technology Tip-Off, March 11-12 at Ford Field in Detroit.

This two-day symposium and technology show brings top decision-makers in automotive and related industries together with the brightest minds and visionaries in manufacturing technology. The genesis and ongoing theme of the event is “Community.  Collaboration. Innovation.” At stake is the transfer of leading edge technology to designers, engineers and executives in manufacturing, operations and facilities management that will leverage America’s growth position.

 “U.S. manufacturing has made a tremendous comeback, and few areas of the country demonstrate this more so than Michigan,” said John Billings, Vice President Head of Automotive, Aerospace and Turnkey Solutions, Siemens Digital Factory, U.S.  “The Detroit area has always played a significant role in the advancement of U.S. industry, which is now being driven by innovation and new technologies such as automation and digitalization. Our Manufacturing in America Symposium provides the venue to explore, discuss and demonstrate these concepts, and how companies are investing in technology to become more competitive.”

To underscore the importance of innovation and new thinking, the keynote address for Day One’s Automotive Manufacturing Summit will be delivered by Jeremy Gutsche, founder of TrendHunter.com and a renowned innovation expert and author. Gutsche and other prominent thought leaders will discuss transformative technologies and concepts, such as the digital factory, technology trends and the future of automotive manufacturing.

Throughout both days, Technology-Tip Off will host more than 100 seminars and over 50 industry vendors presenting successful technology solutions. This year’s seminar schedule has been expanded to four learning tracks: Automation and Controls Engineering; Drives and Motion; Energy and Facilities Management; Plant Engineering and Maintenance. Attendees will learn about advances in digitalization, sensing, controls, wireless networks, and user interfaces that continue to remake the modern manufacturing facility.

“The Holy Grail in manufacturing technology is a factory where human and machine intelligence come together in a fully integrated environment that is efficient, responsive, comfortable, sustainable and profitable,” said Richard Laramee, President/COO of Electro-Matic Ventures. “It’s being done, and Technology Tip-Off is the place to find out who is doing it and how.”

As always, Technology Tip-Off is an energetic exchange of ideas, fascinating product demonstrations, and interactive fun. Take a few swings in the golf simulator or a behind-the-scenes tour of Ford Field. Kick field goals down on the playing surface. Network at the after-show reception on Wednesday. Last year more than 2,200 attended Manufacturing In America featuring Technology Tip-Off. Organizers anticipate a crowd of more than 2,500 for this year’s event. 

There is no charge for admission to Manufacturing In America / Technology Tip-Off, or any of its events, courtesy of Electro-Matic and Siemens, but registration is required.  To register and download full event information click here: techtipoff.com/register

Electro-Matic: Turning innovation into value. Since 1969, Electro-Matic has helped transform American industry by supplying automation components and solutions to leading U. S. manufacturers. Today, Electro-Matic Ventures continues to leverage the value of emerging technologies by developing practical applications for industrial, commercial and retail markets. As a technology company, we help our customers turn innovation into value. As a one-hundred percent employee-owned business, our customers enjoy the benefit of a supplier partner intently focused on delivering strong value-for-value relationships. 

March business workshops offered by the Oakland County One Stop Shop Business Center

Business owners and entrepreneurs who need assistance are encouraged to attend seminars offered by the Oakland County One Stop Shop Business Center. Unless otherwise noted, all programs are held at the Oakland County Executive Office Building Conference Center, 2100 Pontiac Lake Road, west of Telegraph, in Waterford. For pre-registration and a location map, visit www.AdvantageOakland.com/businessworkshops or call (248) 858-0783.

Get a Grip on Your Business
March 5, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
If you are a growth-oriented entrepreneur with revenues between $2 million - $50 million having 10-250 employees who wants to see your business consistently run better and grow faster, this class is for you. You will build a focused action plan using the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) workbook, which contains the tools that will help you to gain more traction in your business. Don’t let the company run you - Get a Grip on Your Business. Presented by: Mike Kotsis, GPS for Small Business
Fee: This workshop is free but pre-registration is required.

Business Research: Feasibility to Expansion
March 10, 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Are you thinking of starting a business and want to research your business idea? Do you want to identify market trends and opportunities to grow your sales? Are you looking for new customers or to diversify your market base? Business Research shows you ways to find your ideal customers, your competitors, perform competitive analysis and more.
Fee: This workshop is free but pre-registration is required. 

CEED® Small Business Loan Orientation    
March 11, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Many small business owners face obstacles when trying to obtain a business loan. If your business is in Oakland County and you need alternative financing, consider the Center for Empowerment and Economic Development (CEED) Small Business Loan Program. Discover the requirements and process necessary to apply and obtain a CEED small business loan.
Fee: This workshop is free but pre-registration is required.

Starting a Business
March 12, 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
This workshop is designed for individuals who are at the beginning stages of starting a business. It will help aspiring entrepreneurs assess their abilities to lead and manage a company, as well as evaluate market and sales potential for their products/services. Start-up costs, financing options, and business planning are introduced along with necessary steps to getting started.
Fee: This workshop is free but pre-registration is required.

Break the Rules, Close More Sales
March 12, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
This is a business development workshop for business owners, company presidents/CEO's and professional service firms and sales people. Consider attending if you or your team are:
  • Worried the slow economy is hurting business
  • Concerned that your marketing and prospecting activities are not putting you before enough
    qualified prospects
  • Experiencing longer and longer sales cycle
In two hours, you'll learn how to establish trust with your prospects, shorten the sales cycle, and eliminate stalls and objections. Presented by Sandler Training President, Erik Meier
Fee: $40 per person.
Capital Raise
March 17, 9:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.
If you are a start-up or early-stage growth-based business looking for funding, come meet and listen to capital expert Mike Brennan. He will detail the various capital sources in Michigan, and talk about how to position your company to qualify for private funding, including private equity, the angel network and venture capital, and/or public funding, including grants, pre-seed, micro-loans and venture match.
Fee: This workshop is free but pre-registration is required. 

WBE Certification Orientation
March 25, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Learn the benefits and process of becoming a Women's Business Enterprise (WBE). Benefits include certification to private sector WBE's and access to procurement opportunities with major national companies. For additional information on WBE or CEED visit www.miceed.org.
Fee: $25 per person.

Introduction to QuickBooks
March 26, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
This introduction class will provide an overview of QuickBooks®. It is designed for a person who is new to QuickBooks® or worked within the software in a limited capacity. ATD Solutions will cover the basic areas within QuickBooks® such as invoicing customers, receiving payments and making deposits, entering and paying vendor bills, generating financial statements, and more.
Fee: $60 per person.

SCORE Loan Workshop
March 26, 9 a.m. to noon.
Getting a business loan can be a challenging process. Learn about the "5 Cs of Credit," including how to develop a winning loan proposal and what you need to position your business to be "bankable" before you meet with a lender.
Fee: $20 per person.

Legal Basics for Small Business
March 31, 9 a.m. to noon
Legal Basics for Small Business provides new and existing Michigan entrepreneurs an understanding of the key legal and financial considerations when starting and operating a business in the state. The program addresses how to select the best legal entity for your business, how to protect your business interests when dealing with customers, suppliers or independent contractors and important information and guidelines for establishing short- and long-term succession plans for your business.
Fee: $25 per person. 
Future Workshops

April 2015
08: CEED Small Business Loan Orientation
08: Business Research: Feasibility to Expansion 09: Starting a Business
30: Create Your Marketing Plan

May 2015
05: Business Research
07: Get a Grip on Your Business
12: QuickBooks for Business Owners
13: CEED Small Business Loan Orientation 14: Starting a Business
14: Break the Rules, Close More Sales
21: Team SBA Financing Roundtable 

Michigan awards $50M for skilled trades training


Eighteen community colleges will receive $50 million in grants toward state-of-the art equipment and training in the technical trades under a new program.

The Community College Skilled Trades Equipment Program is an effort to help close the talent gap and meet demand for good-paying jobs, Gov. Rick Snyder said during a press call.

Read more.

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.
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