| Follow Us: Facebook RSS Feed

Rochester : Innovation & Job News

207 Rochester Articles | Page: | Show All

Passion for tech, manufacturing drives DELRAY Systems' success

Joe Rocca's career in automotive manufacturing started in the early 1980s, and it didn't take him long to combine his passion for technology with his work.

Most recently, Rocca was doing so at Fisher/Unitech. Today, however, he's launched his own firm, DELRAY Systems. The Rochester-based firm focuses on incorporating the latest in technology with manufacturing processes to create efficiencies.

"I want to make an impact on the industry and then turn it over to some folks who have the same passion," Rocca says.

The 1-year-old firm works to integrate process improvement solutions for automating manufacturing, utilizing techniques like reverse engineering and product development processes. This includes 3D printing, 3D scanning, and 3D modeling solutions.
"We want to provide the technology that will help automate manufacturing," Rocca says.

DELRAY Systems recently opened a training and technology center at Oakland University. The firm recently struck a partnership with ANSYS, a company traded on the NASDAQ. DELRAY Systems will sell its software, ANSYS SpaceClaim, to 3D printer users in the Midwest.

Source: Joe Rocca, president of DELRAY Systems
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Rochester College launches social entrepreneurship center

Rochester College is launching a Center for Social Entrepreneurship, and is drawing from the local talent pool to lead it.

The small liberal arts college will house the center in its School of Business, offering a social entrepreneurship degree that emphasizes both profit and the public good. The degree is expected to dovetail well with the institution for higher learning's ethos.

"I was impressed with the campus's mission, which is to work on solving a lot of the world's problems," says Jaymes Vettraino, director of the Center for Social Entrepreneurship at Rochester College. "It spoke to me in a way that I felt pretty passionate about."

Vettraino worked as the city manager of Rochester until this week, stepping down to take the job at Rochester College. He worked as an adjunct professor at Rochester College over the last year and has an MBA from Lehigh University.

Rochester College students studying in the Center for Social Entrepreneurship will work on both solving societal problems through commerce and contributing to their communities. Internships emphasizing servant leadership and social justice will be a focus of the Center. They will partner with local businesses, other educational institutions, non-profits, and government entities.

"My first six months is really about relationship building," Vettraino says.

Source: Jaymes Vettraino, director of the Center for Social Entrepreneurship at Rochester College
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Oakland University spins out first tech startup, Fulcrum Engineering

The first startup to spin out of Oakland University wants to make your vehicle safer by making its parts disengage during catastrophic accidents.

Fulcrum Engineering is developing technology that enables structural joints in a vehicles to decouple during big accidents. The idea is the force of the accident is displaced to better protect the motorists.

"We have shown we can reduce the force that is felt by the occupants of the vehicle by 60 percent," says Michael Latcha, president of Fulcrum Engineering.

Latcha is also an associate professor at Oakland University. He discovered the idea for the technology when trying to figure out ways to protect military vehicles from IED explosions. He found that if things like the engine or transmission were able to decouple during an explosion, then the force of the blast would also be displaced and better protect the people inside the vehicle.

"All your left with is the shell of the vehicle protecting the occupants," Latcha says.

Fulcrum Engineering is trying to commercialize that technology for use in everyday vehicles like sedans and work trucks. The idea is that only major accidents would enable the decoupling of the structural joints, not fender benders.

The Rochester-based startup launched last November. It made the finals of the Global Automotive Innovation Challenge and is currently working to license its technology to automotive suppliers.

Source: Michael Latcha, president of Fulcrum Engineering
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Insert Catchy Headlines marks 10 years as an independent, woman-owned business

Josephine Dries' life changed 10 years ago. That was the time she started her own public relations firm, Insert Catchy Headlines. In a way, it was her method for declaring her own independence.

Dries worked in a family business for years. It was a situation where the men of the family took leading roles. Dries felt limited. She wanted to be in a situation where she could excel and occupy an equal role to everyone else. That meant striking out on her own.

"I said, 'OK, that’s good for you. Why can't I do it?'" Dries says. "If I can’t do it under your umbrella, then I will stand on my own two feet and do it on my own."

She never looked back. Today her Rochester Hills-based business is not only her full-time job, but Dries has been so successful that she raised her firm's prices. She plans to hire her first employee over the next year, and even attract a major local corporation as a client. Today Insert Catchy Headlines serves primarily small and medium-sized businesses.

"I went from one monthly client (when the business launched) to four monthly clients," Dries says.

Source: Josephine Dries, founder of Insert Catchy Headlines
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

IT firms Expetec Technology Services, BCL Computing merge into Expetec of Michigan

A couple of IT firms are merging together to form a bigger company with services that complement one another.

Expetec Technology Services of Rochester Hills and BCL Computing are combining to become of Expetec of Michigan. The new company will remain an Expetec franchise, expanding staff to 12 people and hiring six over the last year.

"We're probably going to add 2-3 more in the next 1-2 months," says Michael St. John, vice president of sales & marketing for Expetec of Michigan.

The newly formed company will offer a larger variety of IT services, such as managed IT, network development, , IT hardware, telecommunications, and IT security. St. John says the the companies focused on different areas, such as BCL Computing in IT hardware work and Expetec more in IT services. He adds that the new company is looking to launch a training program later this winter.

"We're going to kick off a new (military) veterans training program for IT and business management," St. John says.

Source: Michael St. John, vice president of sales & marketing for Expetec of Michigan
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Rochester's Trent Design rebrands to Trent Creative, grows

Trent Design is in the final stages of rebranding itself as Trent Creative, a move the boutique branding firm will execute later this month.

"We do more than design," says Marilyn Trent, principal of Trent Creative. "Our current clients know that but when we talk to new prospects it can be limiting."

The Rochester-based company, it also has an office in Midtown Detroit, has hired two people in design and client services over the last year. It currently employs six people and the occasional intern. It is also looking to hire two more people in software development and marketing.

Trent launched what will soon become Trent Creative 23 years ago. It has focused on design work for most of its life but recently moved into offering more comprehensive branding services.

The firm's work for Art X Detroit was also recently chosen as one of the 350 best designs in the U.S. in the 2014 Regional Design Annual representing the best in the Midwest. While awards like that may not directly translate into more business it is another feather the company can put in its cap when pitching new clients.

"It gives us credibility and respect," Trent says.

Trent Creative also plans to become more engaged in work in the greater downtown Detroit area. It is currently working with Midtown Detroit Inc and M-1 Rail to help encourage people to continue to do business in the neighborhood while construction of the trolley line is going over the next 18 months.

"We want to continue to help people keep shopping and doing business on Woodward as we keep building this wonderful rail," Trent says.

Source: Marilyn Trent, principal of Trent Creative
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Eagle Ottawa invests $10M into Rochester Hills tech center

Eagle Ottawa is investing $10 million in expanding its tech center in Rochester Hills.

The Auburn Hills-based automotive supplier employs 150 at its headquarters and another 160 people at its tech center. That number will rise at its tech center after the expansion project is complete.

"We see growth in the employment there," says Brad Jackson, spokesman for Eagle Ottawa. "We are making room for 50 more employees."

Eagle Ottawa is an automotive supplier that specializes in leather work. It is 150 years old and has grown its revenue by 18 percent over the last year. It has had a 25-percent compounded annual growth rate since 2011.

The firm has invested $75 million in global innovation initiatives and resources including design, R&D and marketing. Its $10 million expansion in Rochester Hills is part of that. The project will expand the building to 16,500 square feet to accommodate more prototyping and validation work. There will also be a new customer co-creation center aimed at empowering customers to ideate, prototype and validate their inspirations.

"Eagle Ottawa is committed to research and development and continually investing in its development," Jackson says.

Source: Brad Jackson, spokesman for Eagle Ottawa
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Oakland University students build diabetes app, TypeOneTwo

A trio of Oakland University computer science majors placed at the MHacks hackathon in Ann Arbor with its diabetes mobile app.

Andrew Clissold, Steven Wiggins and Brandon Powell are the undergrads behind TypeOneTwo. The mobile app helps people who live with diabetes track and analyze their glucose and insulin levels.

"I have been wanting to make an app to help me better track my stuff," says Powell, who also lives with Type 1 diabetes.

The friends built out the app during the MHacks software programming competition at the University of Michigan earlier this fall. The 2-month-old startup placed in the top 10 after the 36-hour hackathon, and set the stage to further develop the app into a business.

"This was something that was fun for all of us and could help other people," Powell says. "It was really a blast. We had so much fun. We just sat down and programmed for 36 hours."

The trio behind TypeOneTwo plans to keep developing the app over this winter and launch it to the public in early 2015.

Source: Brandon Powell, co-founder of TypeOneTwo
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Expetec grows for 5th straight year, adds data-sharing product

Expetec is growing the old fashioned way, through improved services to its customers and client recommendations.

The Rochester Hills-based IT company has been hiring more staff, including a position in network administration support work, and is in the process of hiring a sales person. It now has 10 employees, with an eye for adding more at its current pace of expansion.

"We're on pace to grow for the fifth straight year at 20 percent," says Michael St. John, vice president of marketing and sales for Expetec. "We have been adding new clients and looking into new products in the market place."

Expetec offers network-managed services, telecommunication systems, servers, firewalls, computers, and a 24/7 help desk. It recently added a new product called E-Lockr. Think of it as a more secure version of Dropbox that enables businesses to share and sync important data anywhere on any device with continuous, real-time backup and comprehensive usage reports. More importantly, St. John believes it’s a more secure option than rival products.

"It allows us to control what's going on with our clients in regards to the user," St. John says, adding their clients can determine who can see what documents, when, and for how long with E-Lockr.

St. John is optimistic that Expetec's current growth streak will continue, and not just because the economy is picking up speed.

"We have been consistently getting a lot of referrals from our clients," St. John says. "They trust us and the work we do."

Source: Michael St. John, vice president of marketing & sales for Expetec
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

EAFocus turns 15 years old, doubles staff

Barbara Fornasiero started EAFocus, a public relations and marketing company, to help take more control of her life. The mother of a young family wanted to stay professionally active and focus on helping raise her young children. Becoming her own boss seemed like a good option to make that happen.

"I wanted the freedom to set my own schedule and pursue the clients that interested me," Fornasiero says.

That was 15 years ago. Today the Rochester-based company has recently hired its first employee and is growing its client list. EAFocus got its start serving professional companies, like consulting and law firms. It now does work for local school districts and municipalities, and a growing variety of clients.

Fornasiero hired Sara Przybylski nearly a year ago. Przybylski had worked as a social media coordinator for an automotive supplier before coming on as a public relations consultant at EAFocus.

"I wanted to expand the business and have a regular schedule," Fornasiero says. "I wanted to grow the business and still be able to take some time off."

Source: Barbara Fornasiero, owner & principal of EAFocus
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Cirrus Group leverages spike in school district customers

Schools are becoming an increasingly important part of Cirrus Group's future.

The Rochester Hills-based company specializes in back-end software for school districts and after-school programs. It has expanded significantly into school districts in the Phoenix area, where it represents six school districts.

"We have grown quite a bit in the school district space," says Michael Garret, COO of Cirrus Group. "We have also experienced growth in all of our segments."

The 11-year-old firm’s software handles operational, financial and customer management functions for child-care facilities, community centers and school districts. The platform manages enrollment, participant payments and communications, scheduling and government compliancy requirements including state and local subsidy payments and food care programs. The subsidy part has proven to be a distinct competitive advantage in recent months.

"We are one of the few companies that offers a subsidy management tool," Garret says.

That has allowed Cirrus Group to hire two people in software development and customer service over the last year. It currently has a staff of 14 employees and three additional openings for software developers.

Source: Michael Garret, COO of Cirrus Group
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Wright & Filippis expands leadership team with 3 new executives

The executive team at Wright & Filippis is shaking up and expanding from its headquarters in Rochester Hills.

The health-care firm, which specializes in prosthetics, has hired a new vice president of operations, a vice president of sales and a director of IT. Its vice president of facility operations is now the executive vice president of mergers & acquisition, and its former COO and CFO is now company president. The new executive team will oversee the company’s 625 employees, of which 500 are based in Metro Detroit.

"We're moving people so we can grow the company in different areas," says A.J. Filippis CEO & chairman of Wright & Filippis.

The 70-year-old firm has left some markets so it can grow into others. It exited several supply-based ventures, such as diabetic supplies. It is now focusing on prosthetics, orthotics, respiratory care services, and home medical equipment and supplies, complex seating rehabilitation and home accessibility systems.

Wright & Filippis is also in the process of acquiring some other business across the U.S. The firm recently acquired Carolina Orthotics & Prosthetics and is targeting a handful of other acquisitions.

"We have two more mergers and acquisitions we plan to execute in the next 60 days," Filippis says. He adds, "We're looking at other opportunities along the east coast to expand our product line."

Source: A.J. Filippis CEO & chairman of Wright & Filippis
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Software firm Coil Group adds 5 jobs in downtown Rochester

Coil Group is walking a tried-and-true line for software firms by trying to make the jump from custom-software development services to selling its own software products.

The downtown Rochester-based company has made a name for itself as a custom-software creation and consulting shop in its first year. During that time it also developed its own software platform that looks to bring analytics to sales forces.

And of course this all required more manpower. Coil Group has hired five people over the last year, mainly for user experience consultants and mobile software developer roles. It currently has a staff of six full-time employees and a handful of independent contractors. It is also looking to add 1-2 interns this summer. The firm also has job openings for one sales professional, one user experience consultant and two software developers.

"We're looking to hire another 10 people in the course of the next 12 months," says Jim Brown, CEO of Coil Group.

That staff is handling a growing workload of custom software and consulting work. Coil Group has continued to expand the number of clients in need of solutions. It is also looking to accelerate the development and sales of its new software platform called Stage.

Stage is a mobile app built for iPads. It enables the user to capture the actionable statistics from its sales staff. "As sales people go out into the field, this captures metrics," Brown says.

Source: Jim Brown, CEO of Coil Group
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Trent Design grows staff thanks to manufacturing website work

There is no denying that Trent Design is a new economy company. The marketing firm specializes in design, specifically website design. So it’s a little amusing that the biggest driver of its recent growth is an old economy sector, manufacturing.

Trent Design has handled the website designs/redesigns of a number of big-name manufacturers over the last year, including Brasco International. Trent Design is currently working on new websites for Pennsylvania Steel and Jac Products. The trend started when Eaton Steel first reached out to Trent Design to redesign its website a couple of years ago. That led to a number of Eaton Steel's sister firms and manufacturers it works with following suit.

"We have done several manufacturing sites, which has helped us get even more manufacturing website work," says Marilyn Trent, principal of Trent Design. "I feel manufacturing can use our help."

That has allowed the Rochester-based company to hire a new brand strategist over the last year. It now employs five full-time employees, three part-timers and the occasional intern. Many of these employees have stayed with the firm for many years after they hired in. "When I hire them, they stay with me," Trent says.

Trent Design also opened an office in Detroit's Midtown neighborhood a couple of years ago. Trent thinks she could add another person or two to her staff in the next year but still wants to keep her company small.

"I want to keep a boutique-size agency that does great work and provides great customer service," Trent says.

Source: Marilyn Trent, principal of Trent Design
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Software startup iziSurvey launches in Metro Detroit

A European-developed software startup is launching its U.S. operations of out Metro Detroit this winter.

Digital survey startup iziSurvey was first developed at Universum College in Kosovo when a political science professor (Ridvan Peshkopia) and a tech entrepreneur (Mergim Cahani) began talking about the cumbersome and error-prone current system of conducting polls and surveys in a largely paper-based world. They created iziSurvey with an idea of streamlining the surveying process by digitizing it.

"It's not only replacing paper and managing it more effectively overall, but it's adding some features," says Cahani, CEO of iziSurvey. "We can do it better and cheaper."

The startup created mobile software that allows companies to collect and analyze data, creating detailed reports on the information and making it easy to export that information to other sources. Check out a video about the technology here. The software has been used in Europe over the last few months.

The company is launching the North American arm of its company this week out of Rochester Hills. The startup has a team of nine people and is eyeing a move to downtown Detroit over the next couple of months. One of iziSurvey’s executives, Edi Demaj, has worked with tech startups in the M@dison Block and sees that as the right environment to grow the venture.

"We want to be part of Detroit and part of its tech community," says Edi Demaj, chief business development of iziSurvey.

Source: Mergim Cahani, CEO of iziSurvey and Edi Demaj, chief business development of iziSurvey
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.
207 Rochester Articles | Page: | Show All
Signup for Email Alerts