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RBD Creative moves to larger office in Plymouth

For RBD Creative’s first seven years, it called the carriage house of one of Detroit's oldest structures home. Today the company has matured to a traditional office in a new home in the suburbs.

The marketing company made the move to Plymouth in March. The new home puts it closer to core clients, such as the University of Michigan and Genesis Genetics, which is also based in Plymouth.

"That's part of the reason we moved to Plymouth," says Dorothy Twinney, president & owner of RBD Creative.

Also necessitating the move is RBD Creative's growth making it into a different and bigger company. When it launched it had three people. Today it has a staff of a dozen employees and the occasional intern after making two hires over the last year. The new office in Plymouth is much bigger, measuring out to 2,000 square feet. It also has a conference room.

"Now we have a much bigger conference area," Twinney says.

RBD Creative is looking to add more clients in the food and academic sectors both this year and next.

"For whatever reason these two areas seem to be our thing," Twinney says.

Source: Dorothy Twinney, president & owner of RBD Creative
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Incite Informatics adds 5 jobs as revenue spikes

Culture isn't just a catchphrase for Incite Informatics. It's something worth hiring people for.

The Farmington-based company, formerly Performant Systems Group, has all the requisites for a new tech firm, like an office full of smart young people working in comfortable jobs and periodically playing ping pong to boost productivity. It even hired a culture curator to help sharpen the company’s culture.

"Culture has always been important to us," says Matt Griffin, president & CEO of Incite Informatics. "We have always hired young people. People who have different expectations about what the workplace looks like and acts like."

Griffin and Craig Jackson launched the company four years ago, specializing in business analysis, analytics tools, data management and data visualization. They rebranded it earlier this month to better reflect the company's ability to organize, visualize, and mobilize their clients' data, giving them better visibility into operations so they can make better decisions.

"We grew up building solutions for large companies like KFC and Ingersoll-Rand," Griffin says. "But we're also working with a number of small companies."

Incite Informatics opened a new office in Seattle earlier this year. It has hired five people over the last year and is looking to bring on another three. It currently has a staff 21 employees and two interns. Its revenue spiked over the last year, going from $1.8 million to $4.8 million.

"It's a healthy jump," Griffin says. "I don't know how sustainable it is year to year but we're definitely in growth mode."

Source: Matt Griffin, president & CEO of Incite Informatics
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

TrynEx expands staff with 12 hires in Madison Heights

TrynEx has some humble beginnings. The Madison Heights-based firm got its start in 1977 as a lawn care and snow removal company. It evolved into making lawn care and snow removal equipment in the mid 1990s before it was acquired by Douglas Dynamics last year.

That acquisition doesn’t mean the company stopped investing in Michigan. Since becoming a division of Douglas Dynamics the company has hired staff and improved its facility in Madison Heights.

"The strength of a bigger company helps," says Barry Truan, vice president of marketing & development for TrynEx. "We have more bench strength and ability."

TrynEx has a number of brands in the snow removal (SnowEx), landscaping (TrufEx), and janitorial (SweepEx) equipment areas. It has hired a dozen people over the last year for engineering and production positions, expanding its staff to just more than 50 employees and a couple of interns. It is also looking to hire a salesperson.

TrynEx has also invested in improving its facility in Madison Heights. It turned one of its spare spaces into more work space for its growing staff and a new training center.

"That's where we’re hosting the Salt Summit event next week," Truan says.

The company’s revenue has been propelled by the release of new products and the harsh winter the country just went through. This year is also looking up.

"2013 to 2014 has seen pretty substantial growth as well," Truan says.

Source: Barry Truan, vice president of marketing & development for TrynEx
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Capture Caddie develops technology to analyze golf swing

Lots of people play golf and nearly as many struggle to improve their swing. A new startup based in Canton believes it has come up with technology to help them.

Capture Caddie is developing technology that creates a simple way to record a player's golf swing. The four-person team behind the 1-year-old startup notes the only way to currently capture a player's golf swing and analyze it is to hire a pro, have a friend record it on a mobile device, or set up a tripod and hit record. All of these options tend to be either clumsy or not cost-effective.

"There is just no easy way to do it," says Edward Thai, co-founder & manager of Capture Caddie. "So we made an easy-to-use kiosk."

Capture Caddie provides a kiosk at golf courses that records a players swing and sends that video to the player's computer or mobile device. The kiosk also tracts data, such as carry distance and ball flight. Check out a video on it here.

"It's data most people can't get unless they go through a pro," Thai says.

Capture Caddie is nearly done with the development of this technology and is working to demo it at some local golf courses. It is also working to gamify the technology to add a competitive element between users.

"It makes you hit shots under pressure," Thai says. "That's golf."

Source: Edward Thai, co-founder & manager of Capture Caddie
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Brazilian immigrants launch pastry biz, Doce Brigadeiro

A couple of Brazilian immigrants are making a go of it in entrepreneurship, launching their own pastry business with the help of the Blackstone LaunchPad at Walsh College.

Doce Brigadeiro specializes in Brazilian handmade gourmet sweets. The main pastry is the popular treat called a brigadeiro. The main ingredients consist of condensed milk, cream and chocolate. Twenty-one flavors are on offer, including mint, toffee, lemon zest and sea salt caramel, as well as milk, dark and white chocolate.

"I love to do Brazilian desserts," says Danielle Cecconi, co-founder of Doce Brigadeiro. "It's something I would do every month."

Cecconi recently received her MBA from Walsh College where she leveraged the services of the Blackstone LaunchPad program, which teaches the basics of business to aspiring entrepreneurs. Cecconi and her friend, Marina Kapordelis, started selling brigadeiros to friends and family under the Doce Brigadeiro brand this spring.

The Royal Oak-based business is now looking for its own kitchen space to make its sweets, and eventually wants to open up a storefront in a local downtown like Ann Arbor or Birmingham in the not-too-distant future.

"We're hoping to get a lot of Christmas orders this year," Cecconi says.

Source: Danielle Cecconi, co-founder of Doce Brigadeiro
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Troy-based Seco Tools hires 20 for tech engineering group

Seco Tools is on a bit of a hiring spree as it works to fill out a new custom manufacturing space in Troy.

The Troy-based company specializes in metalcutting work in manufacturing. It recently consolidated an out-of-state facility with a new location in Troy that specializes in specialty manufacturing and testing. The firm has been staffing up the facility for the last year, making 20 hires in its technical engineering group.

"It's really just a skeleton crew. We need to add two more people to bring us up to where we need to be here," says Bob Goulding, tech engineering manager for Seco Tools. "We hope to add another shift next year."

The 35,000-square-foot space near the Automation Alley offices is the result of the company moving some work from a former location in Tennessee last fall. The new facility will do custom manufacturing and testing work when it’s all done.

"We're really just finishing it now," Goulding says.

Source: Bob Goulding, tech engineering manager for Seco Tools
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Global LT lands private equity investment, adds 15 jobs

Global LT is making a big change as it positions itself to grow exponentially over the next few years.

The Troy-based firm specializes in language services, cultural training, expatriate destination services, and workforce training courses for international locales. It recently accepted a significant investment from Growth Equity Fund, an affiliate of the private-equity firm Vicente Capital Partners.

Hortensia Albertini started the company from her kitchen table in Metro Detroit in 1979. Albertini built Global LT into a multi-million-dollar company and eventually handed over control to her daughter, Lisette Poletes, who worked out the deal with Growth Equity Fund.

"It was a necessary step to in our path to get capital resources and technology to help us scale," says Tom Hanson, president of Global LT.

Between 2010 and 2013, Global LT clocked a 31-percent compound growth rate. It is aiming to grow 15 percent annually for the next few years. To accomplish that, Global LT's leadership is looking to expand its work with its existing customer base, land more contracts with the U.S. Dept of Defense, and penetrate the Asia-Pacific markets.

To do that, Global LT has hired 15 people over the last year, creating jobs in sales, operations, recruiters, and project managers. It’s also looking to add another six people to its existing staff of 103 employees, an intern, and several thousand independent contractors.

Source: Tom Hanson, president of Global LT
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Clarkston State Bank grows off increased commercial lending

The financial crisis wasn't a crisis for everyone. For Clarkston State Bank it was an opportunity.

The Clarkston-based bank filled in the vacuum of commercial lending in recent years while larger banks ran scared from the sector. That has allowed the local bank to grow its bottom line and a few other things.

"We've been a very active lender, specifically commercial lending," says Grant Smith, president & CEO of Clarkston State Bank. "It's why we have been hiring a few people this year."

The 15-year-old community bank has hired three people over the last year, including a vice president of credit administration and a treasurer. It now employs a staff of 44 people among four branches in Clarkston, Waterford, and Independence Township. It is currently building a replacement branch near McLaren Hospital.

Clarkston State Bank has watched its revenue grow by 20-30 percent for each of the last few years. Its net income is up 20 percent while retail deposits are up $15 million. The bank also booked $30 million in new lending last year while it reviewed nearly $60 million in deals during that time. It hopes to add a few million more in lending this year.

"That's quite a bit for a small bank," Smith says.

Source: Grant Smith, president & CEO of Clarkston State Bank
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Shelving ponders acquisition, more hiring

Long-term is an important word at Shelving.

The Auburn Hills-based company is a family owned business that aims for strong single-digit revenue growth and steady employee growth. It recently hired an e-commerce/Internet sales professional, expanding its staff to 24 employees.
 
"We have a lot of long-term employees here," says Mike Schodowski, co-owner of Shelving.

Jack Schodowski started Shelving in 1960. The company offers storage products, along with design-build and after-the-sale support services. Among its 15,000 products are wire shelving, rivet shelving, pallet racks, lockers, mezzanines, in-plant offices and security fences.

Shelving grew its revenue by 8 percent over the last year, in line with the family's aim.  Much of that came from extra work from existing clients.

"Slow and steady is our motto," Schodowski says. "You don't want to grow too fast."

With that said, the slow part might not be as slow in the next year or two as Shelving looks to keep expanding.

"We are looking at acquiring another company down the road or hiring some additional sales people," Schodowski says.

Source: Mike Schodowski, co-owner of Shelving
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

STEM aims to reinvent science-based education

Andrew B. Raupp launched a company six years ago looking to reinvent STEM education by creating synergies between science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields. He rebranded the company as STEM last fall after he was able to acquire the URL www.STEM.org.

"Because we got that it made a lot of sense to update the site and the logo," Raupp says.

The Southfield-based company is working to improve STEM education in the school curriculum through better intermingling of the subjects. He points out that subjects like math and science are taught in silos and don't bring things like engineering and technology into the curriculum enough, even though all four things are interdependent. Check out a video of it here.

"Very simply, we help schools, districts, and organizations do STEM better," Raupp says.

The company employs nine employees after making two hires (an education director and a partnerships director) over the last year. It also has a stable of 150 independent contractors.

STEM is also working to open a satellite office in Detroit’s Midtown neighborhood this year. The firm is currently in the process of raising $700,000 to build out the space that will help local schools, teachers and students integrate STEM materials into their everyday lives.

"We want to create an incubator where schools can learn to set up AP programs, career technical education programs, and STEM programs," Raupp says.

Source: Andrew B Raupp, executive director of STEM
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Coupon Wallet racks up customers as it emerges from Beta stage

Lots of software startups make it into Beta, one of the early stages where they get to test out their new idea in the real world. Few make it out.

Coupon Wallet appears to be one of those making it out of Beta and into the world of paying customers. The Sterling Heights-based startup that calls the Macomb-OU INCubator home converted its first users (a couple of bars) into customers earlier this summer.

"We have a couple other businesses in the pilot we’re trying to convert into customers as well," says Christopher Papa, CMO of Coupon Wallet.

Coupon Wallet’s software helps small businesses create digital coupons that in turn aid them in reaching a larger audience. The technology includes managed marketing services and point-of-sale integration. The firm is also looking to marry digital coupons and data analytics as part of its service package.

"Hopefully that will give the customer a rounded offering," Papa says.

Coupon Wallet was spun out of PocketCents Network a year ago. It currently has a team of four employees and two interns.

Source: Christopher Papa, CMO of Coupon Wallet
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Loc Performance scores new military contract, to add 40 jobs

Loc Performance Products has been working to diversify its client base for years, slowly but steadily adding private-sector clients to its long-established military work. That's changing this year after the Plymouth-based firm landed a big defense contract.

The 43-year-old company established itself with defense contracts consisting mainly of manufacturing large CNC machined components and assemblies for military and industrial applications. With cutbacks in military spending in recent years, Loc Performance Products began adding more and more commercial clientele, so much so that private sector customers comprised more than 50 percent of the firm’s revenue.

"This year we will be more than 50 percent commercial," says Wayne Dula, director of business development for Loc Performance Products. "In 2015 we will be more than 50 percent military."

That's thanks to Loc Performance Products landing of a $161 million defense contract to restore lost mobility to the Bradley Fighting Vehicle. The contract calls for Loc Performance Products to install kits for tracks, shock absorbers, vehicle suspension support systems, and heavy weight torsion bars.

As such, Loc Performance Products is looking to hire 40 people right now. The company has added a couple of positions over the last year, bringing its staff to 186 people. That number is going to go up significantly soon.

"Now we have a big push to hire people," Dula says.

The Bradley Fighting Vehicle contract will create more than enough revenue over its four-year span to offset other shrinking military contracts and push its revenue up. Loc Performance Products is still pushing to bring in more private-sector work in the heavy-truck, heavy-equipment, agriculture, rail, and oil-and-gas industries.

"All of these markets are opportunities," Dula says.

Source: Wayne Dula, director of business development for Loc Performance Products
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Carlisle/Wortman Associates opens office in Troy

Carlisle/Wortman Associates opened its first satellite office in Troy last May, bringing three people from its Ann Arbor office to jobs in Oakland County. The planning firm assists local municipalities in Michigan’s wealthiest county in keeping up with demand for new development.

"Oakland County has always been an economic engine in Michigan," says Dick Carlisle, president of Carlisle/Wortman Associates. "As the economy improves those are the communities that see an increase in interest."

Carlisle/Wortman Associates has made a name for itself helping local municipalities overhaul zoning ordinances, create master plans, and complete other civic planning projects. It has seen a jump in business over the last year as the economy improves and developments are coming back to life across Michigan. More and more communities are facilitating new developments in the industrial, commercial and residential sectors.

"We are definitely seeing a resurgence in residential development," Carlisle says.

Source: Dick Carlisle, president of Carlisle/Wortman Associates
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Telemus Capital makes transition to national financial management firm

Telemus Capital is working to turn itself into a national financial management firm, and it’s making a few key hires to pull that off.

The Southfield-based company recently hired Lloyd A. Perlmutter as the firm’s new COO. Perlmutter previously served for seven years as president of Gap, Inc. in Canada. The executive team at Telemus Capital created the COO role for Perlmutter so the experienced manager can oversee the firm's day-to-day management and execution of its strategic initiatives.

"We're evolving it from running it like a practice to running it like a business," Perlmutter says. "We want to make it to the $10 billion mark. It's going to need some more full-time managers doing what they do best."

For Telemus Capital that means letting the firm's partners focus on growing the clientele of high-net-worth individuals and expanding the firm's assets under management. The strategy is paying off. Assets under management are up 25 percent over the last year.

"We need someone to run the day-to-day of the business," says Lyle Wolberg, managing partner of Telemus Capital.

Telemus Capital has offices in Ann Arbor and Los Angeles. The latter is a result of Telemus Capital's acquistion of Concentratic Capital in Los Angeles earlier this year. The firm has hired six people over the last year, expanding its headcount to 38 people. It is currently looking to hire a director of marketing and communications and a high-potential advisor.

Source: Lloyd A. Perlmutter, COO of Telemus Capital, and Lyle Wolberg, managing partner of Telemus Capital
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

3LG Tech Solutions spins out with new database technology

3Leaf Group got its start with audio books 19 years ago in a room full of tapes. This year it's spinning out a tech startup, 3LG Tech Solutions, that specializes in database management. Make sense? Trust us, it will.

The Oak Park-based firm has grown to include more comprehensive DIY education solutions, such as streaming instructional videos and training assets. That meant a bigger immersion in technology and a lot of information to manage. The next thing the company knew, it had what it took to create solutions for next-generation database technologies.

That prompted the spinout of 3LG Tech Solutuons six months ago. Today the company and its team of a dozen people are putting the finishing touches on the software platform and working to establish sales with big clients. It currently is running a pilot with a Big 4 accounting firm and installing its software at a shoe manufacturer in Florida. It is also targeting government contracts, including sales in the defense sector.

"There are so many needs," says Stuart Newman, president of 3LG Tech Solutions. "There are so many exit points. We believe there is a lot of value we can bring to the table."

3LG Tech Solutions is currently working to land a variety of customers across industries, ranging from automotive to professional services. Newman points out his firm is doing the hard work of making the long sell to big clients that take a long time to make decisions. But when he gets them to bite he expects to make a lot of sales progress quickly, as soon as next year.

"I'd like to have four signed deals by December 31st," Newman says.

Source: Stuart Newman, president of 3LG Tech Solutions
Writer: Jon Zemke

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