Dublin-Based Lightwell Celebrates 20 Years, Looks Back on Evolution of the Business
Any tech-centric company that’s been around for two decades is bound to evolve. For the Dublin-based company Lightwell, that evolution was and continues to be constant. As they look toward a future with an uncertain technological landscape, Lightwell President and Founder Michelle Kerr reflected on the changes that have brought the company to this point, from being partially bought out, to establishing global operations, to going through a rebrand that would reflect the company’s whole direction going forward. Ultimately, she said, their core focus has remained intact: to solve complexity and inefficiency.
Lightwell first launched in 1998 as Oxford Consulting Group, named for Kerr’s alma mater, Miami University of Oxford, OH. Then, the company was largely focused on automotive manufacturing, an industry Kerr found a passion for after her college days of studying finance and accounting.
“I liked seeing the processes and the product coming out at the end of the line,” Kerr said, “seeing the fruits of your labor, so to speak, versus sitting at a desk job.”
Kerr’s newly found interest in manufacturing took her to a job in Indianapolis, where she eventually — at 25 years old — started Oxford Consulting Group. The company’s primary focus for its first six years of business would be providing automotive supply chain solutions to mid-market manufacturing companies: consulting with businesses looking to streamline their operations, better manage inventory, and communicate with consumers and suppliers.
At the turn of the century, Oxford began a partnership with IBM to add B2B integration and omni-channel solutions to their services, a move that would eventually help redefine the business in the decade to come.
The company made the move to Columbus in 2004. That same year, California-based company QAD bought most of Oxford Consulting, looking to acquire the parts of the business that catered to QAD’s target market: mid-market manufacturing.
At that point, under the leadership of Kerr’s business partner Adam Heeter (then Oxford Consulting’s business development director), the company changed direction and began growing as a B2B integration business.
As part of the deal with QAD, Kerr left the states to extend QAD’s operations in Europe. For three years, Heeter managed the Columbus office while Kerr assembled a global team on behalf of QAD.
“It was a really challenging time for the organization, because we lost a lot of our identity in selling to a large, publicly traded company,” Kerr recalled, “and there was just a small group of folks who were left to figure it out.”
When Kerr returned home in 2007, Oxford Consulting had grown exponentially — at least, as far as sales were concerned. Operationally, Kerr said the company wasn’t in a great spot. Upon her return, she worked to develop that operational side of the business to support the growth that had been experienced under Heeter’s leadership. In 2011, they opened up a development center in Belfast, and in 2012 they acquired Chase Consultancy, a former Sterling Commerce partner.
Over the last 10 years, Lightwell has seen an expansion in services and technologies, including the addition of areas such as order management, data analytics, integration and APIs. They provide IT consulting and staffing, as well as cloud solutions. They now serve more than 10 countries with more than 200 associates and three global offices.
All of this growth and evolution necessitated a rebrand, and in 2014, that’s just what Oxford Consulting did. Now Lightwell, Kerr said the company’s name better reflects what it had become — “no longer a heritage based on an individual with ties to Oxford, OH providing consulting services to mid-market manufacturers, but a global organization that has a commitment to bringing clarity to complexity and innovation solutions to light built on talents of an entire organization.”
“Lightwell is actually an architectural term that means bringing light to darkness,” Kerr said, “and in many ways, that’s what we do for our customers. We help to illuminate their best path to success.”
For more information, visit lightwellinc.com.
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