It seems lately like the same monikers are being credited when you talk about Detroit’s growing business community. Gilbert. Ilitch. Karmanos. Loepp.
They are all significant, and their impact has been immeasurable. But one name mentioned during Mayor Dave Bing’s State of the City address Thursday caught my attention. The mayor highlighted the investments being made at a woman-managed company called Detroit Manufacturing Systems, an automotive component manufacturing and assembly operation.
In particular, Mayor Bing highlighted DMS’ President and CEO Andra Rush, a Native American businesswoman who is investing nearly $30 million and creating more than 400 new jobs in Detroit since opening in July 2012.
I got a chance to talk to Rush this week, and I asked her how it felt to be mentioned in the State of the City address and how she feels about Detroit in general. The longtime leader was feeling good about where the company is, how the city is doing and the support people are giving one another during an otherwise challenging time (budget, emergency manager, et al).
“We’re just a tiny piece of the fiber. There are all these people working together,” said Rush, who was working from DMS offices inside the Gateway Center. DMS now employs more than 400 salaried and hourly workers here, a sprawling factory just off of I-96.
Last month, DMS added a third shift, hiring 180 new workers at the facility, which assembles and manufactures injection molded interior trim components. Some of these workers had been out of work for years. Now, they are receiving training, educational opportunities and the kind of encouragement that changes a job into a career.
Background: DMS is a joint venture between Rush Group Ltd. LLC and French company Faurecia. Rush credits its first customer, Ford Motor Co., for the company’s successful launch since signing the papers on the facility in June 2012.
Rush is the founder of Rush Trucking, which she started in 1984. She also has another joint venture called Dakkota Integrated Systems, which works with Intier Automotive to supply complete auto interiors. This savvy business owner knows the automobile still is a significant contributor to the Motor City, and she wants to be part of the region’s commitment to innovation and the next big “wow” factor in our beloved cars.
Rush, like many of us, senses a shift in the cooperation level within Detroit. This is her first business in the city, and she’s always been a supporter and friend. She hopes to have more than 500 employees at DMS at its one-year anniversary mark, making it one of the largest automotive employers in Detroit. (More than half of its current employees are city residents as well. And they are still hiring!)
“That momentum changes a street, a block, a district and pretty soon we do have the best city in the world again. We will have people who are neighbors to one another and kids playing in parks and we have security,” Rush said.
Rush is an exciting addition to the luminaries including Cynthia J. Paskey (founder, president and CEO of Strategic Staffing Solutions) who serve Detroit, its progress and its potential.
With so many people changing the way Detroit works, you gotta believe in this resurgence. I’m thrilled to have made Rush’s acquaintance, and I’m keeping an eye on Detroit Manufacturing Systems – its commitment to the neighborhood, the block, the city and its residents could be another game changer.