"You've seen us out there, you just didn't know it was us," says Lynn Matson, Pro-Motion's founder, president and CEO. "That's the sort of environment we play in all over North America."
Pro-Motion provides audio, visual and interactive solutions to retailers and restaurants. Founded in Wixom in 2003, it now has 40 employees and estimates $30 million in annual sales revenue for 2005.
"We are on fire," Matson says.
Smart Business spoke with Matson about how she attracts well-known clients and suppliers and how she's grown the company.
How do you grow your company's sales?
We touch several market spaces. (For example,) Foot Locker will utilize our equipment to inform their client, entertain their client, educate their staff members, protect the environment in the loss prevention arena and sell products.
(Our market) is the wave of the future as far as communication in the world, not just North America. In fact ... the North American market space is behind Europe and Asia as to how we communicate this messaging. It all boils down to one word, communication. Our market is so wide and our customer base is so big that we're naturally growing.
I have an incredibly committed group of people that understand the market, our company, our vision and our customers' needs.
How do you get them to understand the vision?
We train the trainer. Very often, as new people are brought on, they'll start in levels where they can learn the internal workings and begin to get comfortable with the needs of the customer base.
Then we promote. It's really the only way in our world to develop personnel.
If I take care of them, then they'll take care of our customer and our customer will take care of us. That's the triangle we have set within the company. There's no rocket science in what we do. We just choose to do it better.
How do you attract big-name customers?
Our brand is a strong brand, even in the short amount of time (since the company began). We cherish customers like Foot Locker, TGI Friday's and Bose Corp., which is a customer but also a supplier. We take very good care of them.
We're looking out to what their needs will be. If they're in one technology now, what will tomorrow look like for them? We forward that (information) to them so they're making keen and smart business decisions. This is not brain surgery; this is about doing business the right way.
One reason we're experiencing growth (is because) the entire package is under one roof -- the design and spec, product and purchasing power, distribution and logistics. We're a stocking distributor so we can pick-and-pull that day.
We have design and engineering, full project management, full customer support and call centers, and we have nationwide installation as well as nationwide service. The whole package makes it easy for them to do business. They don't have to have three different vendors.
How do you create partnerships with audiovisual technology experts?
We are now in a position where they want us; that's very nice. How did we initially? We called them.
Everything we believe with our customers we also believe with our suppliers. It has to be a win-win-win scenario. If suppliers can't supply to us, we don't have a business to provide to our clients, so they're key to the overall connectivity of our business. We treat them very well.
We pay them on time. Our credit rating is outstanding. We reinvest our monies back into our company so we can grow with very little debt. That's attractive to those vendors.
We're not the biggest game out there but we are fairly large for the market space we play in. By having an A-1 credit rating, it helps that much more in dealing with the Panasonics and Toshibas of the world.
What has been your biggest growth challenge, and how did you manage it?
Most Japanese- and Chinese-based manufacturers have gone to just-in-time inventory, and that requires 90, 120, 180 days' projection. Our customers aren't willing to work 120 days out; they need products very quickly.
So the biggest challenge is finding manufacturers that understand our market space and what we bring to the party, and getting the product we need when we need it.
How do you get manufacturers to understand your needs?
This month, we're shipping 10,000 televisions, coming direct from China. We got an order, and within 30 days we had to have them in the United States.
The only way you do that is, No. 1, having tenacity and not saying, No, we can't get the job done.' No. 2, having the credit and financial stability to afford such a thing, and No. 3, having a relationship with the manufacturer so they understand the level of importance and what this does for all of our businesses -- the client's, ours and theirs. Again, it's a perfect triangle.
HOW TO REACH: Pro-Motion Technology Group, (800) 765-5020 or www.pro-motion.us