The plight of the auto industry in America the past few years has been well documented, as have the struggles of the Detroit region. Bankruptcies, near bankruptcies and tight finances have been the norm for most automotive related companies and the cities that those companies call home.
However there are very notable exceptions, like Plex Systems in Auburn Hills.
They have thrived while others in manufacturing are seeking shelter by recognizing upcoming industry trends and creating a pricing model that fits those trends. Specializing in enterprise resource planning (otherwise known as ERP), the company makes the employee on the shop floor a knowledge worker who is responsible for helping improve the bottom line.
According to Mark Symonds, CEO, one key to their success has been offering their software by subscription instead of the more traditional model of selling expensive software licenses. This allows smaller manufacturers to get the software they need at a price that allows them to stay competitive.
Another key has been staying focused on who their core customers are, and that’s automotive manufacturing. They are expanding their reach into German-speaking markets and pursuing opportunities in other manufacturing industries. Symonds acknowledges that expanding into other industries sounds like a great idea, but there are growing pains when moving outside of the automotive sector.
“You want to pursue everything, but you can’t because of limited resources. You really have to decide what’s the best use of your resources,” he noted.
Part of the decision making process of expanding the business into a new sector is learning about different industries. As you learn about them, you need to gauge the actual size of the industry and then figure out what the opportunity for growth is in that industry. After his presentation at the Michigan Emerging Conference in Dearborn, it is clear that he has done that analysis about the Detroit region as well.
At the conference, he noted that while he has run businesses in Boston and San Fransisco, Detroit’s work ethic is second to none. On his list of reasons for keeping the business in Metro Detroit, he also noted the ready supply of competent employees, the excellent university system and the quality of life.
The success of Plex Systems proves that even in a down economy, a well managed company can still come out on top.