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Founders

Company

Powerlink Facilities Management Services

3031 W. Grand Blvd
Ste #640
Detroit, MI 48202

Link Howard

What educational, entrepreneurial or business development programs, if any, have you taken advantage of?
I am actively involved in the UEP, a program of the Kauffman Foundation that was created with the primary goal of fostering entrepreneurship in urban communities. The UEP is a premium business program that employs one-to-one business coaching to help business owners rapidly increase performance and profitability. I have had a tremendous experience with that program and learned a lot about what Powerlink needed to be doing to be successful and continue to expand our client base and service level.

Powerlink takes great pride in our commitment to providing an experience for our clients by offering unparalleled customer service. To really understand how some companies achieve that incredible recognition and respect for level of service, our leadership team has completed programs created by the same service/engagement teams utilized by the Ritz Carlton. While the service we provide may be different from what the Ritz offers its patrons, that outstanding service model is wonderful to understand because it helps our team train, identify and hire employees that understand the desire to go above and beyond in customer service.

Who was your first customer and where did you find them?
Our first customer was Venture Industries. Since I was just employed there, they were very familiar and comfortable with my level of expertise and dedication to client service.

Where did you find your first employee?
My first employee was a relative but outside of that, I am fortunate enough to say that the second employee I hired is also my current CFO and COO Scott Rice. Powerlink has evolved in the past decade but Scott’s role in the organization has always been one of extreme value and continues grow. I had the opportunity to work with Scott at our previous employer, Venture Industries. When I decided to open my own business, I not only had the support of my former employer, but also their understanding of why I felt Scott would be a great asset to my team.

Have you promoted an intern to employee status, and if so how many times have you done it?
At Powerlink, we believe in rewarding hard work so we very often will promote our employees internally and they continue to deliver incredible results for our company. For example, it is common that an outstanding performer will be promoted to a manager, site manager or recruiter, depending on where their skill set can best be utilize While we are actively involved in mentoring students, we have not yet hired interns for full-time positions.

Where have you turned to find capital to grow your company and which institutions have provided it?
My former employer, Venture Industries, had faith in my plan gave us favorable payment terms. The rest was financed with my own capital; we also used receivable based financing (factoring).

What are some of the advantages to doing business here?
I was born and raised in Detroit and in my opinion, the benefits of running a company in this region are endless if you have the right attitude and can respond to what the market needs. Detroit has an incredible pool of talented people with an extremely strong work ethic and that is critical to the success of Powerlink. We have been able to identify and retain employees that not only work hard but also have an outstanding attitude when it comes to providing customer service.

Detroit also has an entrepreneurial spirit in which there is a large network of business leaders in this community that are willing to help others learn from their past experiences. That generosity of knowledge sharing helps you learn from the expertise of others that have succeeded in the market, while also developing a great business network and contacts in the process.

Coinciding with that strong work ethic and entrepreneurial spirit is the opportunity to diversify your own service offerings to meet the changing needs of the Detroit region. This is no longer solely an automotive town. In fact, the majority of our business is in growing sectors here such as health care, education and manufacturing. Being nimble, responsive and aware of the opportunities on the horizon makes it a great time to do business here in Detroit.

If you could change one thing about this region, what would it be?
I strongly believe that the future of Detroit is dependent on our youth. I am proud to be a part of mentoring programs in the area, such as sponsoring the Gregory Kelcer-Winning Futures Basketball and Leadership Camp at Cass Tech High School later this month. The youth in Detroit needs to understand that there are great opportunities waiting for them after they obtain an education.

Unfortunately, almost half of the students attending Detroit Public High Schools will never graduate with a high school diploma. It’s going to take a lot of effort from the schools, but also business owners and the community at large, to influence these children in a positive manner to see that not only do they have choices, but they can be a tremendous success story in Detroit five or 10 years down the road.

The future of the city’s success is dependent on Detroit’s youth and schools and I really hope to see more members of the community working to be mentors and positive role models for these children.

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