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Founders

Company

3-D ETC

2001 Centerpoint Pkwy
Suite #103
Pontiac, MI 48341

David Hodgson

What educational, entrepreneurial or business development programs, if any, have you taken advantage of?
U.S. Small Business Administration, Michigan Economic Development Corp., Detroit Economic Club and Automation Alley.

Who was your first customer and where did you find them?
We initially did some traditional training program work with Ford Motor Company, but our first 3D customer and the real launch of this business came from our work with the Defense Logistics Agency. Shortly before I started the company, one of my personal contacts introduced me to a Senior Executive Serviceperson at the Department of Defense who was very influential. I introduced the concept of our solution and he was intrigued enough to make a commitment to try it and allow us to develop our proof of concept. Shortly after we formed the company, we were under contract to provide one of our safety training programs at a large defense distribution hub in northern California. We successfully reduced accident rates by 68 percent and saved the site over $1million in the first year, (a 500 percent return on investment). The Senior Executive Serviceperson was delighted and has helped us in expanding our program throughout the Department of Defense.

Where did you find your first employee?
My first hire was my wife. She always managed to keep me in check at home, so I figured that would be needed in the business too. My first un-related employee I recruited from the local branch of where we did our business banking. She was the assistant manager of the branch and had a great personality. I told her that she was way under-utilizing her talents and should consider a position that could challenge her. A month later she was working for me.

Have you promoted an intern to employee status, and if so how many times have you done it?
We are just starting an intern program with Oakland University. We haven't had that opportunity as of yet, but I am excited about the potential of brining fresh, new ideas from young talented people into the company.

Where have you turned to find capital to grow your company and which institutions have provided it?
Initially, we worked with a large Troy-based bank until the financial meltdown of 2009. At that time it was obvious that our banking partner was not going to be willing to meet our capital requirements. At that point, we turned to a private equity partner who was willing to invest partially on good faith. That relationship has not only helped us with the capital we needed, but has also helped with business acumen that was lacking in our business prior to the relationship.

What are some of the advantages to doing business here?
Had you asked me this question two years ago, my response would have been that there is no advantage. Due to the impact of the global economy on southeast Michigan, we were very unsuccessful marketing our new innovation locally which drove us to find customers outside of the area and mostly outside of Michigan. Also, and rightly so, there was a doom-and-gloom mentality amongst the local business community and talent pool and it was difficult to convince people that a new product or innovation would ever be successful. What I have learned about the people that live here though is that they are very resilient and now willing to reinvent themselves. I believe that there is more creative and engineering talent here in southeast Michigan than anywhere in the country. Fortunately for someone in my position, many of them are now available and looking for a new opportunity to reinvent themselves. I think that this is a huge advantage for 3-D ETC.

If you could change one thing about this region, what would it be?
Other than the weather, I would like to see it become less automotive dependent and more focused on innovations and fostering new small business. I travel out of the state frequently and I am always amazed when I travel to cities like Atlanta, Dallas, or Charlotte at how diverse the business community is. These communities have been working hard to facilitate entrepreneurship and I think that Southeast Michigan should emulate exactly what they are doing.


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