Consulting businesses are often lonely endeavors, constrained by the experience, capacity, and moxie of the owner. When opportunity knocks – in the guise of new technologies, more customers, or economic expansion – many consultants choke, not willing to do what’s necessary to grow.
When Doug Collins, owner of Loveland’s Avid Product Development reached that point, it was the opportunities new 3D Printing technology offered that crystalized the dilemma.
“I had a good clientele, a good mix of projects and in 2013 I brought on the additive piece,” Collins said. “It was small for a while, but then I was getting crushed.”
It was go big or go back. Collins chose to find a partner and grow. He had known Ryan Billson since college and Billson’s Lafayette, CO engineering firm was one of Collins’ clients.
Billson, because he had worked for a firm that grew, went through mergers and took private investment, had a valuable set of skills and experience to bring to Avid. He managed teams, directed, and worked as COO for the company that at some points exceeded 100 employees.
Turning to the business development program in Loveland to help with the transition, Avid “got expertise from people who helped us valuate the business, and advice on the whole pre-nuptial process,” Collins said.
Avid’s current LBDC/Larimer SBDC consultant, Bob Coffey, helps with financials, asks questions, looks at the numbers, gets on them when they don’t have their numbers ready.
“Bob helps us with accountability, looking ahead and finding workarounds – what we should be focusing on. How to grow, how to know when to hire, all those tough challenges,” Collins said.
A major leap in the business took place in 2017 with investment in 3D printing capabilities that dramatically expanded with the company’s purchase of a new HP Multi-Jet 3D printer. The investment was made possible by an SBA loan.
Since then, Collins says, “We’re in a whole new phase, we’ve got a new list of what we don’t know we don’t know.”
Billson agrees: “Within two years we will also have more capability with injection molding—that’s in addition to the engineering, and the additive manufacturing for prototyping. It’s a great niche. Injection molding will give us the capability for higher-volume manufacturing.”
“LBDC/SBDC resources have been great. We go off and do our thing. Then, Bob (Coffey) pops up and reminds us of stuff we should be looking for, and helps us out,” Collins says.
“It (the LBDC/SBDC) really has helped us all along the way as a sounding board,” said Billson. “Being able to talk through everything from putting the business partnership together through the quarterly reports we’re now doing, we’re able to have Bob come in now and let us know ‘yeah you guys are on track, this is fantastic’ or ‘you need to watch out for this here’ it’s been really good, really helpful.”
For more information about Avid Product Development, see the website www.avidpd.com or contact Doug Collins directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Interview conducted November 10, 2017 at Avid’s location at 129 S. Cleveland Ave., in Loveland. Author Lee Porter is a Loveland resident, a long-time SBDC counselor and publisher of InnovatioNews.