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Posted on Sun, Mar 28, 2010 : 5:59 a.m.

Adaptive Materials swamped with interest for its alternative energy engineering jobs

By Nathan Bomey

Michelle Crumm.JPG

Michelle Crumm, chief business officer and co-founder of Adaptive Materials, said her company received 7,100 job applications for nine engineering positions.

Lon Horwedel |

Call it a swamp full of resumes.

That’s what Adaptive Materials had to deal with after deciding that it needed to hire nine engineers, both mechanical and electrical, to address an influx in business.

The Pittsfield Township-based fuel cell firm received 7,100 applications, a response reflective of the thirst for jobs in Michigan’s economy.

“The response was overwhelming,” Adaptive Materials chief business officer and co-founder Michelle Crumm said.

Using resume search software and a series of four or five questions distributed to each candidate, that massive pool of applicants was whittled down to 800. Eventually, the list was narrowed to 90 and the candidates visited the office for “an invite-only job fair,” Crumm said.

The pool is finally down to a manageable list of four or five candidates - but that means the company still has a few openings.

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Interest is high, but Crumm said some ex-auto industry engineers are still turned off when she tells them she can offer $60,000 to $90,000 a year, instead of salaries in the six-figure range.

It’s a reality of the startup world, she said, where salaries are lower but employees get stock options that could turn into lucrative payments if the company is eventually sold.

“That’s exactly what entrepreneurs face if you actually want to create a sustainable business model,” Crumm said. “Salary seems to be one of the challenges.”

Adaptive Materials, she said, is seeking engineers who fit into the company’s culture. They must show drive and personal “empowerment,” she said - a willingness to tackle new challenges the company has not faced before.

“We’ve interviewed some amazingly intelligent people, but not just the right attitude or not empowered enough to take on the responsibility,” Crumm said.

Fueling Adaptive Materials’ growth is mounting interest in its portable power systems - which provide low-weight alternatives to batteries for various military and industry applications. The company’s latest contract was a $4.7 million deal to deliver 300-watt units to the U.S. Department of Defense. That followed a similar $3 million deal with the U.S. Air Force.

The growth means Adaptive Materials, which has about 55 employees, will probably have to add six to eight manufacturing jobs this summer, as well.

“We’ve had a very plugged sales funnel for a long time. All of a sudden it let loose and we have all these amazing (contracts) piled on top of each other,” Crumm said. “This year is just one success after another. It’s really just been an outstanding year.”

Contact’s Nathan Bomey at (734) 623-2587 or or follow him on Twitter. You can also subscribe to Business Review's weekly e-newsletter or the upcoming breaking business news e-newsletter.


Lets Get Real

Sun, Mar 28, 2010 : 2:28 p.m.

Big Blue Bus is certainly on the money on this one. This company has lived on millions of dollars of YOUR tax money with SBIR grants and military money since it's inception. It has built its success on the war: YOUR loved ones in harms way defending our nation while they extracted wealth to pay for their country club memberships, flashy organizational affilations, and luxury vacations. So, the give back for YOUR tax dollars and YOUR loved ones' lives? For their one and only charitible effort, they've found an organization with which to align that gives the impression they support the soldiers. They support them alright - right into battle where more will die and where more demand for their product will be created. Let's Get Real, the true nature of the publicity garnered by the perky, young, redheaded CBO has nothing to do with the primary customer for AMI products. To talk about use of their products in RV's and boats is disingenuous at best, but certainly does deflect attention from where the bulk of their sales occur. So where are all those "End the War" Ann Arborites? Let's all get together and congratulate this company for offering jobs to our community by undervaluing, stigmatizing, and prejudging "former auto industry employee" applicants rather than considering them as highly trained engineers with significance experience to contribute? And, after 10 years, still considered a "start-up"? Let's Get Real.


Sun, Mar 28, 2010 : 10:45 a.m.

jcj - how about holding off on the absurd exaggerations. Three points: First, the vast majority of ex-auto industry employees who have been out of work a significant period of time (and I am one of them) would snap up a $60-$90k job in a heartbeat. Second, the story implies that there is a substantial number of prospects who turned down potential jobs at Adaptive due to the salary range. I suspect this is a mischaracterization at best, and far from the first one I've read or heard from Adaptive regarding ex-auto employees. Third, the article implies that employees get stock options in lieu of lower salaries, sharing in the risk/reward of being part of a "start-up". I wonder what kind of ownership stake the subject engineers receive as part of their compensation. I also wonder how long a company can be called a "start-up" - for Adaptive, 10 years and counting.


Sun, Mar 28, 2010 : 7:55 a.m.

"ex-auto industry engineers are still turned off when she tells them she can offer $60,000 to $90,000 a year, instead of salaries in the six-figure range." Let them eat bread and water! Another example of the arrogance of some of those who have been at the top of the food chain too long! Maybe they should sell their 20 room houses and 4 Escalades.