Tech company founder looks back on two decades in business

As a local web development agency celebrates just over two decades in business, its founder reflects on the growth of the agency while looking to the future.

Luanne Brown started eTool Developers, a Grand Rapids-based provider of Internet-based software solutions for the automotive aftermarket, in 2001.

Brown, who has a background in technology and e-learning, had the idea to start a business in the industry after attending a Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show in Las Vegas.

At the time, she decided to start her business efforts by focusing on marketing resources for the industry – specifically animated training tools.

Brown, however, began to recognize a gap in internet presence within the industry early on in his new venture.

“When I got into this industry, I realized they were about 15 years behind the rest of the world and not even online at all,” Brown said.


She began attending other trade shows, networking, writing articles and positioning herself as an expert in helping companies in the automotive aftermarket industry transition to an online presence. . Her one-woman, hands-on approach began to gain traction, and she expanded her team and scope as the agency began to grow.

“I put together a team and started building websites specifically for the automotive aftermarket and what sets them apart,” she said.

Today, eTool Developers fills the void Brown first witnessed by helping clients with website development, data management, e-commerce implementations, and Internet marketing solutions to grow their businesses.

The company offers a custom content management platform allowing customers to edit and control their own content, as well as a product information manager allowing customers to stay in control of their own data.

Data management, in fact, has been the niche of eTool Developers solution methods. Brown and eTool Developers have worked to develop data standards for the automotive aftermarket industry and create databases to make information accessible and organized for manufacturers and trading partners.

“You have to choose your specialty, and we realized we needed to focus on data because that’s what makes sites work well and that’s what makers understand,” Brown said.

At the same time, data management has come with its unique challenges. Cybersecurity threats are on the rise, especially with a greater shift to online operations in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s an ongoing threat because it’s a moving target,” Brown said, emphasizing his company’s commitment to protecting customers and protecting their data.

With today’s ever-changing times, Brown also sees an unexpected emphasis on vehicle support for used cars.

“People cling to their used cars, and now used cars cost as much as new cars. So people buy parts to support the vehicles they keep. I never would have guessed that. five years ago,” she said.

As for the future of eTools developers, Brown said she expects more exciting mobile app development for her customers.

“Everyone wants to do everything on their phone, including business, and apps allow us to do that better,” Brown said.

She also said that eTool Developers could potentially expand into other industries in the future, although she was fortunate to have chosen the automotive aftermarket sector as her focus. company.

“Everyone drives and everyone works on their car,” Brown said. “People always love their cars. I’m glad I chose this industry.

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