A Keystone for Growth
Teamwork and a mission-driven business model unlock opportunities for Keystone Solutions Group

STORY KATHRYN DAVIS | IMAGE HANNAH ZIEGELER

COMPANY
Keystone Solutions Group
LOCAL EXECUTIVES
Jim Medsker, President
Vaughn Gerber, Director of Operations
HEADQUARTERS
6387 Technology Avenue
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
YEAR FOUNDED
1997
REGIONAL FOOTPRINT
48,000 square feet with 31,000 square feet in manufacturing space
INDUSTRIES SERVED
• Medical Device
• Aerospace
• Automotive
• Other
HUMBLE BEGINNINGS
At its inception in the late 1990s, Keystone Solutions Group set off to a glamorous start: growing and thriving in the basement of President Jim Medsker alongside his water heater and boxed-up holiday decorations. Although the company began with the single-tiered mission of product development, Medsker soon began receiving requests from clients that he take things a step further. They asked that Medsker start to manufacture and bring products to life. This kickstarted the evolution that’s made Keystone Solutions Group into the multi-layered company it is now.
DOUBLE TROUBLE
“Keystone Solutions Group actually covers two business entities,” says Director of Operations Vaughn Gerber. “One is Keystone Product Development; [the other] is Keystone Manufacturing. Keystone Product Development is an engineering services firm, where we develop products for other people. We’re medical, automotive, aerospace. We can take any idea or product from a clean sheet of paper all the way through realization of production. Sometimes, when it’s medical, it’ll transition over into Keystone Manufacturing, where we’ll actually manufacture the products for customers.”
PARTNERING WITH KEYSTONE
Although Keystone Solutions Group receives a significant number of requests from potential clients, the company is particular about the types of projects it ultimately pursues. It’s important, according to Gerber, that each of the projects his team accepts is well within its wheelhouse. If a proposed development doesn’t seem like a good fit for its services and capacity, Keystone Solutions Group works with that client to direct them to a company that’s better able to cater to the project. As President Jim Medsker attests, “We prioritize our clients’ success over our desire to take on new business.” In cases where Keystone Solutions Group does decide to move forward with a client’s request, Gerber says, “It’s a process. We don’t create a proposal and kick it over the wall and say, ‘Hey, this is it!’ We’ll create a proposal and say, ‘Hey, this is our initial draft. What do you think? Are we missing something? Should we be focusing on something else?’”
OUTPUT, PRODUCT, AND IMPACT
Keystone focuses on developing, commercializing, and bringing products to market. Products by Keystone Solutions Group range from tiny, behind-the-scenes elements of major technologies to center-stage products that professionals actually put their hands on every day. As Gerber says, following the product development phase, “We come in, we build the product, we package it, we box it, and then it gets shipped out.” He notes that while some projects may take only a couple of months to complete, others might take closer to two or three years from start to finish.
THE KEYSTONE METHOD
Over time, Keystone Solutions Group has developed, strengthened, and refined its process for successfully getting things done. The Keystone Proven Process is as follows:
• The first phase is all about initial contact with the client; it’s about discussion, opportunity, and discovery of goals.
• In the next step, the Keystone team works to form a definition of the product and the path to production. This phase is characterized by research, establishment of marketing claims, and determination of the project’s schedule and budget.
• Closely tied to Jim Medsker’s initial vision for the company many years ago, this third stage includes many steps directly related to product development. Through design, analysis, prototyping, and testing, the concept begins to assume its physical form.
• The final step is equal-parts simplicity and complexity. In this stage, the team translates its final design into a market-ready product, putting it on the path to delivery to the respective client.
Keystone Solutions Group takes great pride in this process, as, time after time, it has yielded results.
WHERE IT ALL HAPPENS
Although Keystone Manufacturing was originally located in a small facility in Grand Rapids, its manufacturing arm joined with the Kalamazoo-based product development team in 2013. With all operations under one roof, the Keystone team now prides itself on the collaborative nature of its workspaces. In what the Keystone team refers to as “war rooms,” three of four walls are covered in dry-erase surfaces to allow for a “floor-to-ceiling canvas for brainstorming and project mapping.” According to the team, Keystone’s facilities are a major driving force behind its productivity and achievement.
THE TEAM AND ITS ENGINERDS
For everyone from Keystone’s set of self-proclaimed “enginerds” to its highly-trained technicians, the only thing more important than the life-changing products they work together to create is the culture among the team. “We’ve been growing over the years, expanding the culture,” says Gerber. “So in the last few years, we’ve really tried to focus on hiring individuals who fit our culture.” When it comes to the sort of work Keystone Solutions Group does, no project can be truly successful without collaboration from a driven and cohesive team. Oh—and in case you were wondering, while Keystone’s cavalry of technicians and enginerds is highly driven and collaborative, none of the team members take themselves too seriously!
CORE VALUES
Keystone Solutions Group prides itself on the fact that its customers trust in the team’s ability to provide “creative solutions to complex problems.” It defines its core values as:
• Ownership
• Collaborative
• Serve with Humility
• Get it Done
• Fun
CAREER OPPORTUNITIES
Keystone Solutions Group is especially interested in working with applicants who have prior industry experience, as well as strong teamwork and communication skills. Motivated and hardworking team players can learn more about careers at keystone-pd.com/career-opportunities.
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