Proos Manufacturing: Going Strong After Nearly One Hundred Years

By Jane Whitttington on February 13th, 2015 / Comments

It was 1919 when Neal Proos started Proos Manufacturing as a maker of casket hardware. Today, close to 100 years later, the third generation is at the helm. Amy Proos is now CEO of a much bigger business than Neal Proos could have imagined. The company has over 100,000 square feet of manufacturing space, employs 100 and is looking ahead to a successful future.

Forbes reports that while family-owned businesses generate over 50 percent of the GDP, less than one third of them survive the transition from first to second generation and another 50 percent don’t survive from the second to the third.

Proos Manufacturing is a notable exception to those grim statistics. It has succeeded and grown into the third generation. And, according to Amy Proos, Brett Kosters, a member of the fourth generation, now serves as Materials Manager.

As the business has grown, it has transitioned and evolved into a provider of manufacturing and engineering solutions for customers in a variety of industries, including automotive, industrial, office furniture, medical, alternative energy and even the Department of Defense. Besides the manufacturing aspect, the company now also offers metal fabrication for a variety of industries. Their capabilities include metal stamping, sheet metal fabrication, engineering and design, assembly and blow molding, all with a keen eye on quality assurance.

Amy Proos was in college when she took a summer job at her father’s company. By the end of the summer, she had decided that this was the place for her. She changed her major from pre-vet to Production and Inventory Control Management and never looked back. In 2004, she purchased the manufacturing operations from her father (the founder’s son) and acquired the rest of the business in 2010.

According to Ms. Proos, “Success comes with a lot of hard work. I believe that having a servant attitude with my staff has contributed to my success. We have a great team at Proos. We strive to develop the skills of our employees by offering on-the-job training and opportunities for advancement.”

Their success is recognized by the larger community. In 2013, Amy Proos was named Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year for Michigan and Northwest Ohio. In 2014, Proos Manufacturing won the Goodwill Industries of Greater Grand Rapids Talent Partner of the Year Award as well as the Celebration of Innovation: Automotive Supplier of the Year Award at the Michigan International Auto Show.

Amy Proos has found success in a typically male-dominated profession. Has that been challenging? Amy says, “I try to look at challenges as opportunities to develop my skills and the skills of my staff. I cannot control the actions of others, but I can control my response. There is more positive in the world than negative. I strive to focus on the positive and surround myself with like-minded people.”

Their vision statement says it all: “We will be our customer’s preferred supplier by always doing what is right and what is best for the customer. We will accomplish what others have said cannot be done.”

As a family and as a company, their high standards and traditions of excellence that have sustained them in the past continue into the future.

For more information on the company, visit their website at www.proos.com.

About the Author

Jane Whitttington

Jane Whitttington

Jane Whitttington is a freelance writer and editor who lives in Grand Rapids. A Michigan native and Michigan State University grad, she enjoys reading, travel, politics and volunteering.