Some could argue that 1987 was not the best year to start a company. A big manufacturing and automotive epicenter, Michigan was suffering from a weak manufacturing sector after four solid years of growth and the national unemployment rate was at 8.4 percent. But for Lizabeth Ardisana and her partner Greg Rouke being out of work and $350,000 in debt brought out their entrepreneurial spirit and ASG Renaissance was born.
Returning to the experiences they gained as engineers at Ford Motor Company, Beth and Greg formed Automotive Support Group, (ASG) LLC and began knocking on doors. They landed their first assignment when Ford hired them to solve a problem with fires in vehicles built on Econoline and F-Series chassis’. Working around the clock with a team of more than 30 Ford engineers and other consultants, they successfully solved the issues.
Using their hard-won respect for their work on the ambulance program, they were hired to develop Ford’s first Quality Vehicle Modifier (QVM) Program for companies that built ambulances, fire rescue, school buses and recreational vehicles on Ford chassis’. They visited more than 50 vehicle modifiers in the U.S. and Canada to understand how vehicles were being modified and identify potential problems to help modifiers avoid them.
ASG was awarded Ford’s Q1 Quality Award in 1989 for its work on the QVM Program – becoming the first minority service supplier to receive the award. In 1990, ASG moved into its first office on Auto Club Drive in Dearborn, and received its first blanket purchase order from Ford in 1991.
In 1992, ASG expanded its services to include marketing planning and business planning services. ASG’s first project was to develop a five-year product plan for the Ford F-Series Crew Cab.
By 1996 ASG reached $10 million sales with a lot of hard work and a little luck. The company had outgrown its office on Auto Club Drive and moved into the Fairlane Towers adjacent to the Henry Hotel in Dearborn. That year, the company launched its public affairs business.
1996 was a pivotal year in another way as well. ASG also had an opportunity to purchase Renaissance Systems Technologies (RST), a Southfield based information technology staffing firm. The purchase brought several important changes. First, it doubled the firm’s size to $20 million in annual sales. Second, it helped the company diversify from being 100 percent reliant on Ford by adding Chrysler and NBD Bank (formally National Bank of Detroit) as clients. ASG also added information technology staffing as a core business and gained a new office in Southfield where RST was headquartered.
With the purchase of RST, the company also changed its name to ASG Renaissance reflecting howtheacquisition combined the best services of both companies. With its new clients and focus, Automotive Support Group had also outgrown its original name.
In 1999, Ford formed the Premier Automotive Group (PAG), which consisted of the company’s luxury brands Jaguar, Land Rover, Aston Martin, Volvo, Lincoln and Mercury. By 2001 PAG ’s headquarters were moved to Irvine, California joining another Ford brand, TH!NK, on the west coast.
In 2001 ASG, which was providing public relations services to both PAG and TH!NK at the time, purchased a boutique communications agency – Back Bay Communications in Orange County California – to be better positioned to service its California clients.
This acquisition expanded the company’s marketing and creative design capability and helped the company enter the California market. Today, ASG continues to provide PR services to Jaguar Land Rover out of our California office, even though the brands were sold to Tata in 2008.
In 2005, ASG acquired The Collective, a Detroit-based web design and development firm and in 2010, established Blue Force Services to provide technical personnel and support services to U.S. defense and government contractors and federal agencies.
Laurie Bradley joined ASG in 2005 as a consultant and in 2006 became a partner leading the sales efforts for the company and Human Capital division.
In 2014, ASG purchased the assets of Engineering Laboratories, Inc. (ELI), an engineering and technical staffing firm based in Troy, Michigan, strengthening ASG’s core capabilities in engineering and IT while also expanding their client base within the auto sector.
Beth and Greg have successfully guided ASG from a small automotive supplier to its current position as a recognized industry leader by focusing on clients’ needs, recruiting and developing top professionals and giving back to communities it serves. Today, ASG offers a multitude of professional services that no other professional services firm can match.