William Crane: Helping students and alumni become stars in their industries

William Crane, B.B.A.'06

William CraneWilliam Crane, B.B.A.’06, radiates Bronco pride and expertise in everything he does. Graduating from the Haworth College of Business with a degree in integrated supply management, his alumni volunteer connection with the college began shortly after, when he joined the Integrated Supply Management Executive Council. Throughout the past 13 years, Crane has contributed his expertise to the council and students alike by helping faculty keep the program cutting-edge and students explore all the avenues that exist for supply chain professionals. He hosts students at his company, provides case studies for supply chain courses, recruits students, guest lectures on best practices and collaborates on faculty research.

Crane’s supply chain journey has taken him from leading organizations to founding his own business, IndustryStar, an on-demand supply chain services and software technology company, based in Ann Arbor, Michigan. With an entrepreneurial team passionate about partnering with forward thinking leaders, IndustryStar helps bring innovative and disruptive products to market that will have a positive impact on the world.

And now, student entrepreneurs in Starting Gate, WMU’s student business accelerator, are benefiting from Crane’s expertise as well. Crane has donated $7,600 worth of his company’s services and software to the aspiring entrepreneurs in order to get them ready to launch their products.

Students are provided with a menu of IndustryStar’s offerings for both early-stage companies and those ready to begin manufacturing. The options include everything from cloud collaborative bill of material software, to customized supplier research, to regulatory certification support, to onsite plant assessments and more.

The services and software are meant to help the student companies gain “supply chain muscle” to enable them to get their products to market faster.

“We are very fortunate to receive this gift from William Crane and IndustryStar,” says Lara Hobson, director of Starting Gate. “Students will benefit from the knowledge William and his team have in the development and launch of all-new products. This valuable early-stage venture support helps students move from the prototype stage to volume manufacturing much sooner.”

Megan Gesler, Conor Mulhearn and Anthony Mastro, all industrial and entrepreneurial engineering majors, are the first students who will be working with Crane’s team. Their company, Gel Sleeves, is dedicated to restoring confidence in both the elderly and those on blood thinners who are often at risk of serious bruising as they go about everyday life. The product design incorporates gel pockets into a soft cotton and Lycra material sleeve, strategically placed over high-impact areas. Gel Sleeves prevent bruising before it happens.

“We are looking forward to connecting with IndustryStar’s Solutions team to help build a plan for producing our product,” Gesler says. “This includes researching suppliers, costs, lead time, risk level and more for the sleeve.”

Now that Gel Sleeves has its minimum viable product, its team will work closely with IndustryStar throughout the course of spring semester to scale the business. “We are excited to move production out of my dining room to a validated supplier that can help us produce an item with consistent quality,” says Gesler.

And these students will be learning from the best. IndustryStar’s client roster includes Honda, Thermo Fisher Scientific, BAE Systems, Armstrong, Wenger, Plenty, May Mobility, Xenith and many more.

“William’s fingerprints are on many of the most exciting recent and upcoming new product launches,” says Dr. Sime Curkovic, professor of management. “His company has created a series of innovative offerings and technologies that enable companies to dramatically reduce the cost, time and risk of bringing new products to market. William’s unique blend of practical, real-world experience mixed with cutting-edge innovation has allowed him to partner with companies to bring inventive and sustainable products to market faster.”

For Crane, his involvement with WMU is a way for him to pay forward his experience and give back.

“The IndustryStar team and I are thrilled about our expanding partnership to support WMU’s Starting Gate,” says Crane. “There are world-changing new product ideas being dreamed up by amazing startups, small- and medium-size businesses, and corporate innovators in Michigan that we hope to accelerate toward production in the future. This includes entrepreneurs among WMU student and alumni communities.”

Crane’s thought leadership in the supply chain field results in his being tapped to share his perspective regularly. Further, his deep commitment to the supply chain craft can be found in his podcast and blog.