sion Solutions had the client base and a firm grasp of how to satisfy them. Rudd and his partners had worked at various times over the past 15 years for companies that in part served the aerospace market. “We already had the relationships with potential customers.” They also built the company with a number of trained and skilled machinists who were willing to join a start-up, bringing their years of experience with them, as did their quality manager. “I think it is critical with any start-up to have some estab-
lished customer relations, even getting some orders that you can subcontract before your own facilities are ready to do the work,” Rudd advised. “You establish that relationship by de- livering through subcontracting.” He also noted that those few orders helped convince banks when it came time for financing.
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A foundation of lean that emphasized 5S organization was an early focus.
Although he went through a local bank to finance the start-up, there is more to the story than simply applying for a loan in the normal manner. He credited two local government organizations dedicated to building up businesses that helped him with critical resources and advice. One was the Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP) and the other was the Michigan Small Business Technology and Development Cen- ter (MI SBTDC). In fact, LEAP awarded a flat grant of $20,000 to the company to gain AS9100 certification. “Tom Donaldson from MI SBTDC was very influential in providing business and banking advice,” Rudd said. Donald- son advised Apex in structuring the equity and debt of the business and helping the company find outside investment. MI SBTDC is funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the US Small Business Administration (SBA) as well as