The Comeback Kid

A consultant reinvents his practice.

An efficiency expert skilled in identifying and managing new business accounts, Murray Sittsamer knew his reputation was on the line when his own automotive consulting business declined sharply following the global economic meltdown in late 2008. “The phone literally stopped ringing,” says Sittsamer, president of The Luminous Group in Novi.

To reverse his fortune, the former IBM executive followed his own advice. First, he enrolled in Oakland County’s FastTrac Venture Forward program, which, in part, helped him diversify his consulting practice. “I started marketing my services to small businesses with between five and 100 employees,” rather than focusing on traditional large-company clients, Sittsamer says.

Then, to help get the word out, Sittsamer, an industrial engineer, mined his BlackBerry contacts, renewed old relationships, and developed stronger ties with local chambers of commerce. As a result, revenue jumped 50 percent in 2010.

One lead proved to be especially fruitful. Dan Mendelson, president of Unitex Direct, a national uniform supplier in Walled Lake, hired Sittsamer. “Our business had been flat for a couple of years, and I needed some outside perspective,” Mendelson says. After meeting with Sittsamer, Mendelson realized the problem. “I wasn’t focused on growing the business,” he says. “We’ve since opened new avenues of business, and 2011 will be a very good year for us.”