Huisingh Handles Technology

    MUSKEGON — His expertise is in sales, marketing, distribution and business development. He knew little about the technology.

    So when he decided to go into business for himself, Rob Huisingh set out to learn all he could about how Web sites work and what it took to put one together, maintain it and make it work for a client’s e-commerce strategy.

    Three years later, and after the kind of adversity many entrepreneurs experience when they start their own business, Huisingh’s company is evolving into something bigger, moving from a developer of Web sites to a multi-media firm that serves clients in a variety of formats they can use to promote and market their products or service.

    “Business is picking up and we’re heading into new areas that we haven’t before,” said Huisingh, the president of Media Quest, a small Muskegon company that began life in October 1999 as H2ML Inc.

    Beyond Web site development, maintenance and hosting, Media Quest offers customers a range of media services that include marketing, graphic and logo design, brochures, Flash productions for videos on DVD and CD-ROM.

    The transition for the company began as customers asked if H2ML could do more. Customers that hired H2ML to do Web sites, for example, were interested in having a new logo developed with it or having their marketing brochures updated.

    Those kinds of requests opened doors for the company and led to the transition into a multimedia firm and a new name that better reflects its service offerings.

    As an example of the kind of work Media Quest now does, Huisingh shows off a package developed for a real estate firm representing the developers of a Spring Lake condominium project. The package includes a Web site, a logo and graphics, a CD-ROM with a video presentation of the development’s exterior and interior designs, printed marketing materials, and even the booth for an exhibit at a recent trade show.

    The company “is evolving” and offers everything “from pixels to print,” said Huisingh, who had spent most of his business career in international sales.

    Huisingh decided to venture out on his own after becoming wary of the corporate world’s bureaucracy and downsizing. A father of five young children, he wanted to have more control over the decisions that affected his livelihood and family.

    “I decided I had enough of this corporate situation. I was thoroughly disillusioned, giving my heart and soul and not getting anything out of it,” Huisingh said.

    Huisingh launched H2ML after leaving Information Products Inc., a subsidiary of Holland-based Donnelly Corp., where he worked for a year and a half as account sales manager, focusing on Asian markets.

    Huisingh previously spent eight years as regional sales manager for the Asia-Pacific region at Lorin Industries Inc. in Muskegon, a manufacturer of anodized aluminum coil products. The position had him traveling abroad for about 25 weeks of the year. He was the so-called “Marine” of the sales department: the “first guy on the beach” working to establish a beachhead by which to penetrate a new market.

    A Holland native and 1986 graduate of Hope College, where he earned a degree in business administration, Huisingh spent a year in Germany after college, then came home and went to work for X-Rite Inc. in Grandville, where he was international sales manager from 1988 to 1990.

    Now on his own, Huisingh says the allure of running his own business is the variety of clients with which Media Quest works and the assortment of projects they need done. He also enjoys the change of pace. After past jobs where a project typically took two to three years to complete, Huisingh has found to his liking the two- to three-month timeframe involved in completing a project for a Media Quest customer.

    “It’s always something new. There’s that constant changing environment of new clients and new areas that I find very fascinating,” said Huisingh, who’s also driven by the creative process involved.

    Huisingh went through all of the apprehensions and hardships that many entrepreneurs experience when they try to build a small business. And for good reason.

    In his first year, when he ran H2ML from his basement, he went from making “exceptionally good money” to operating a business “without a lot of capital” that struggled to build a customer base.

    “It was terrible. It was absolutely terrible,” Huisingh said of the early going for the company. “There were multiple times during the last few years when I asked ‘What am I doing?’

    “But I was in it for the long haul and I was invested and decided I was going to make it work.”

    Today, with new equity partners coming on board and Media Quest venturing into other media services and building its client roster, Huisingh is feeling more confident about the future and “sleeping much better at night.”

    “The checks are coming in regularly,” he said. “We’re really starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

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