Economic Development and Technology

OST expands to Asia

New divisions expected to help Grand Rapids-based technology company generate $12 million in revenue.

December 9, 2016
| By Pat Evans |
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Faster speed to market for its customers is at the heart of Open Systems Technologies’ recent announcement the firm is expanding operations to Asia.

This month, the Grand Rapids technology company announced it started operating in Hong Kong and Singapore to expand its global reach, which also includes an office in London. In the U.S., OST has offices in Grand Rapids, Detroit, Minneapolis and Chicago.

Together, the two new divisions are expected to help generate $12 million in revenue, mostly in data center and cloud storage, OST President and CEO Meredith Bronk said in an announcement earlier this month.

OST’s expansion mostly helps facilitate the growth of its enterprise technologies work, which helps companies modernize their data centers, said Michael Lomonaco, the firm’s director of marketing and communications.

He said most companies performing similar work don’t have the global reach, so OST leadership is hoping Asian and European exposure can help attract new companies. Lomanco said the new markets are driven largely because of customer need in those regions.

“We’re working very closely with very large global companies, and this is a differentiator in that we are a company that is truly global,” Lomonaco said. “We have proprietary solutions that we offer for these companies that operate globally, and we had an opportunity to open London, and it went well.

“This is an evolution and expansion of that. It just happens there’s a need in those two markets, so we can apply what we’ve learned.”

Hugely important to the company’s growth in Asia will be partners OST works with regularly on a global scale, Lomonaco said, including HPE, Cisco, EMC and Ingram Macro.

OST has developed techniques and systems to quickly help companies modernize their data center equipment and have helped reduce speed to market from several weeks to virtually a day.

“Data center modernization as a service is something OST has mastered,” OST Chief Innovation Officer Jim VanderMey said. “Multinational companies require partners that understand how to provide a continuum of services across the globe, and OST has created solutions which enable that seamless integration.” 

Lomonaco said there currently is no physical office in Singapore or Hong Kong, as there is in London, and the company will contract employees when needed. The openings will have an impact on hiring domestically, he said.

If the offices follow a similar path as London, which generates $12 million in revenue with two full-time employees, then it likely will be a year or so before employees are hired.

The hiring of local support in Grand Rapids and Minneapolis is more exciting to Lomonaco.

“We’re still West Michigan-based, and we’re conservative with the way we hire and grow,” he said. “So, whether we’re hiring in the U.S. or abroad, we’re going to really walk with our customers through that hire as needs arise.”

Lomonaco said it took nearly 12 months to open the two Asian divisions, from demand merits to fruition. Most of the time was looking at the investment it would take to open the markets, which Lomonaco said took a lot of certifications and classifications.

“What do we need for these sensitive data center infrastructure?” Lomonaco said. “It’s a big reason why a lot of companies don’t make this step globally. It’s complicated, it’s an investment. Do you have technical chops to deliver, operational excellence to deliver and financial stability?”

As the fifth and sixth operations to open since 2008, Lomonaco said it’s important OST doesn’t stand flat-footed, and the firm’s leadership is focused on continued growth.

He said there are no specific sights set on any new markets right now but said the company’s 2016 acquisition of the design firm Visualhero could offer expansion opportunities, as well.

“We’re always evaluating in context of our growth and what customers need,” he said. “We’ll continue to evolve and expand our presence, and for us, it gets down to what opportunities do we have to go into new and existing markets and keep what we feel is a great culture and work environment.”

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