Engineering achievement through education
CST alumnus uses degree to run successful business and create more Michigan jobs
When CMU alumnus Jon Cusack, '00, was a child growing up in Ionia, Mich., he never knew his hobby for taking apart electronics could be coupled with an engineering technology degree and grow into a successful business with 22 employees and $1.8 million in sales for 2011.
Westshore Design, founded by Jon in 2003, is based in Holland, Mich. and designs and manufactures various products including musical electronics, industrial controls and heater controls. His passion for electronics drove him to the idea of owning his own business, and his degree from CMU gave him the theoretical foundation to start it.
"Being able to finish my degree helped me realize I could accomplish just about anything if I worked hard enough," says Jon.
He began pursuing his academic career in engineering technology with CMU in 1988. As a nontraditional student working full time, he took classes in engineering technology and general education. Though Jon left CMU in 1992 to pursue a career, he made the decision to come back in 1999.
"I found that having work experience made classes much more enjoyable, as I had something to directly apply my knowledge to," says Jon.
After graduating from CMU, Jon was set to take a higher-level position at his previous job, but realized he wanted to go in a different direction.
"Part of that decision was based on the fact that I took a chance to finish my degree," he says.
Jon originally started Westshore Design as a consulting firm to help other companies design products and solve problems. Over time, Westshore Design evolved into a full-service engineering and manufacturing company. The company works diligently to keep prices competitive with foreign companies to prevent outsourcing and create more Michigan-based jobs.
"Once companies realize the advantages overseas are not greater than the costs, they will need companies like ours to design and manufacture their products locally," he says. "We will be ready for them."
Westshore Design is unique because even though it is small, many of its employees have backgrounds in large corporations. Their experience working with higher volumes gives customers products that are effective, reliable and lower in cost.
As Jon continues to position Westshore Design for more growth and opportunities, he hopes to more than double the number of employees in the next five years.