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Plex Systems Looking To Move, Expand

AUBURN HILLS -- After another year of spectacular growth, the online manufacturing management software provider Plex Systems Inc. is looking at a move.

In an exclusive interview with GLITR, Plex CEO Mark Symonds said that the company is now based in two nearby buildings -- one on Harmon Road, 14,000 square feet in size, where the company has been based since 2003, and another on Giddings Road, 40,000 square feet, which "we will fill up in the first quarter."

What happens then?

"We are negotiating for space in Troy and eventually we want to consolidate everybody into one space, so we are looking at a few buildings there that would offer us 150,000 to 200,000 square feet," Symonds said.

A leap from 54,000 square feet to 150,000 may seem like a big leap, but when you've been growing as fast as Plex Systems, maybe not.

"We've focused on manufacturing, and our goal has been to automate every aspect of a manufacturing company," Symonds said.

As you might expect, that means the waterfront covered by Plex's product is, in Symonds' word, "enormous. If you name an area -- customer service, orders, finance, quality management, preventive maintenance, purchasing, inventory control, HR hiring -- we automate it. We really try to support every aspect of manufacturing -- you can drill down on the dashboard and see everything from how many job openings you've got to what machines are down."

The company is also trying to branch out into other industries.

"Our big growth markets right now are electronics and food," Symonds said. "We're looking to grow another 25 or so percent this year. The software-as-a-service industry overall is growing. It's clear the market is headed our way."

When it comes to the food industry, Symonds said, "we've barely scratched the surface. We're a bit player. But the new food safety modernization act requires that if you have a problem in the field, you have to identify within four hours all the problem materials, and you can only do that with an automated system."

In the electronics industry, Plex software is in use at only "a handful of customers, although some are very big, and we are looking to expand."

And as you might expect, that means the company is hiring. The need is more or less across the board, but Symonds said the majority of the company's hires are software developers fluent in C# and .Net.

"Out of every 10 we hire, five are developers, two are consultants, and three are sales, marketing and administration," Symonds said. "And we're having great success. We beefed up our recruiting capabilities so now we are able to have a bigger presence at more schools." He specifically mentioned Oakland University, Michigan State University, Kettering University, Lawrence Technological University and the University of Michigan.

"We hired 50 new people last year, and the plan is to hire 62 people this year," Symonds said.

Plex's data center is in Auburn Hills, with a disaster recovery site in North Carolina. The company makes use of a content delivery company that takes static data like pages and forms and distributes it to 30,000 servers around the world to make pages load faster for users no matter where they are.

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