Clark County at Work: Applied Motion Systems Inc.

By Mary Ricks, Columbian news assistant




Each week, The Columbian offers a brief snapshot of an interesting Clark County business. Send ideas to Mary Ricks: mary.ricks@columb...; fax 360-735-4598; phone 360-735-4550.

Business name: Applied Motion Systems Inc.

Owners: Ken Brown and Ken Goheen.

General manager: Paul Johnson.

Address: 12000 N.E. 60th Way.

What the business does: Applied Motion Systems helps manufacturers improve the performance, reliability and operation of their production equipment. General manager Paul Johnson said his company specializes in upgrading the control and drive systems of machinery that require precise coordination of multiple motors. The company also develops complete specialty machines for niche applications. This often involves introducing new technology to companies big and small across industries such as paper, glass, aerospace, wood products and renewable energy.

The company's products involve multi-disciplined engineering (computer science, electrical and mechanical) and both electrical and mechanical manufacturing.

Steps to build your business: The best source of new business is a referral from a successful project. Our largest customers have manufacturing plants throughout North America. We work to leverage solutions from one plant to the next, as well as grow and diversify our customer base. As a result, we have added 16 employees since 2010 and achieved record sales in 2012.

Greatest challenge: As a project-based business with a long sales cycle, it is a challenge to plan for an unpredictable workload and match the right mix of staff and high-level expertise to capitalize on rapidly advancing technology across multiple automation platforms.

What's ahead: Johnson said in the next six to eight months, the company will continue to develop new customers in the Northwest who have an ongoing need for its capabilities.

A favorite part of the job: Johnson said he most enjoys making a positive impact on a customer's operation by improving the performance and reliability of a machine or automating a manufacturing process. An unsolicited note of thanks from a satisfied customer is often the best reward.

Owners' business history: After an early engineering career in tunnel boring equipment and motor controls, Ken Brown ventured out to develop the manufacturing controls for a next-generation can for the Pringles snack food. He persuaded his good friend Ken Goheen to join him from Boeing to pursue opportunities in the glass container industry. The company began in Yacolt and moved to Orchards in 2002.

Year established in Clark County: 1995.

Employees: 49.

Telephone: 360-253-4810.

Fax: 360-253-4818.

Hours: 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday with 24/7 emergency support on call.