Proos Manufacturing recently announced that Amy Proos won the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year® 2013 Award in Michigan & Northwest Ohio. The award recognizes outstanding high-growth entrepreneurs who demonstrate excellence and extraordinary success in such areas as innovation, financial performance and personal commitment to their businesses and communities. The finalists and winners were selected by an independent panel of judges and honored at a black-tie gala on June 20, 2013 at the MGM Grand, Detroit.
Amy Proos is a member of the Alliance of Women Entrepreneurs, is on the CEO Roundtable, is a member of the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce and is involved with the Michigan Small Business Technology and Development Center. In 2012, Proos was recognized by MiBiz as one of 50 Michigan Companies to Watch.
So how did Proos reach such heights of success?
She has been working at Proos Manufacturing since 1987, when she was in college. Amy was pursuing studies in the veterinary field but worked for the summer at her grandfather’s business, where she discovered that she wanted to be a part of the manufacturing field. It was 1989 when she received a bachelor’s degree in Production and Inventory Control Management, which was the first major step down her career path. Later Proos bought Proos Manufacturing from her father, and then in 2010, she became the CEO.
Manufacturing has seen its ups and downs in the U.S., and particularly in West Michigan. In the 1980s, Proos was about 80 percent automotive in its manufacturing—and that was to one customer. As the leaders saw the potential for growth and added stability through diversification, they entered the office furniture industry. By seeking out several small customers in various industrial markets, Proos weathered the downturn and was able to stay alive. Proos recalls: “Office furniture and industrial markets carried us through the recession.”
Now that things in most markets have begun moving again, Proos Manufacturing is growing. When asked what the goals are for the company’s future, Proos said that they are operating out of three different locations and are currently looking to centralize the business and gain the many benefits that come from having one comprehensive campus. They’re also working to change the company culture by encouraging a participatory management style where everyone has a say. Leadership development is important to Proos, too, as the company moves into the future with plans to grow by over 60 percent.