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Published: Monday, 1/3/2005

Software firm inspires solutions

BY JULIE M. McKINNON
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER
Brit Eaton is one of the  managers at Pro-Active Solutions, based in Sylvania Township. Brit Eaton is one of the managers at Pro-Active Solutions, based in Sylvania Township.
DIANE HIRES / BLADE Enlarge

When Dottie Sollman founded a secretarial business out of her home nearly 20 years ago that quickly specialized in accounting software, it took a lot of energy just to get small-business customers to buy computers.

She had sales of $10,000 her first year.

That start-up has evolved into a company with $800,000 in revenues last year, an amount current owner Chris Ashby hopes will reach $1 million this year. Ms. Sollman sold the business, now called Pro-Active Solutions Ltd. and located in Sylvania Township, in 2000 after annual sales reached $118,000.

Pro-Active sells, installs, upgrades, and customizes accounting and other productivity software to small and medium-sized businesses, where computers are commonplace these days. It has 10 employees working in Sylvania Township and elsewhere in Ohio, Michigan, and Indiana.

Training, troubleshooting, and technical support are a big part of Pro-Active s services, just as it was when Ms. Sollman owned the firm, said Mr. Ashby, president.

People buy software and don t know how to use it, he said.

DRS Industries Inc. of Holland started using the firm s services about a half dozen years ago when it wanted to upgrade its accounting software, said Bobbie Sparks, vice president and co-owner. The 45-employee firm designs and builds prototypes for injection molds.

Working with Pro-Active, which helps DRS Industries with annual upgrades of the software it uses, is easier than some suppliers, Ms. Sparks said.

I like it because they re a local company, she said. They know the product inside and out. You don t have to call an 800 number that gets answered by someone over in India.

Pro-Active got its start in 1985 as Sollman Office Services. Ms. Sollman, who had resigned from Toledo s Owens-Illinois Inc. and was laid off from another job, had a secretarial background and wanted to offer such services to fellow entrepreneurs, she said.

Small businesses were popping up everywhere, Ms. Sollman said. I wanted to help small businesses start up.

Resume and accounting services followed, and Ms. Sollman began offering Peachtree software for accounting purposes. Now Pro-Active also has both customer relationship management and billing software to help customers with various aspects of sales.

Ms. Sollman typically worked with businesses that had three to five employees. Pro-Active focuses on those with three to 50 customers, Mr. Ashby said.

We ve just increased the scope, he said.

Contact Julie M. McKinnon at:jmckinnon@theblade.comor 419-724-6087.

Small Business Profile is a weekly feature on local companies. To be considered, send information about your company to Small Business Profiles, Business News, The Blade, P.O. Box 921, Toledo, Ohio 43697-0921.



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