Paul Van Metre on Manufacturing Happy Hour

Paul Van Metre is a machine shop owner-turned-entrepreneur. After starting Pro CNC in Bellingham, WA in 1997, he recently went on to co-found ProShop, a cloud-based ERP software system that combines elements of an MES (a manufacturing execution system) with a QMS (a quality management system) into a single platform.

Paul Van Metre

Paul Van Metre, Co-Founder of ProShop

In this episode, Paul shares his story about starting a company right out of college some Formula SAE buddies and how the challenges they faced as machine shop owners inspired them to create ProShop. In addition to hearing some of the lessons that Paul has learned throughout his entrepreneurial career, we discuss why systems, documentation, and business processes are the key differentiator for manufacturers – particularly machine shops – in today’s market. We even get into a little car talk before the interview wraps up, so make sure to stick around until the end!


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3 Quick Things from this Episode

  1. How you run your business – i.e., your business processes and systems that ensure quality, on-time delivery, etc. – are what differentiate your business from your competitor that does the exact same thing.
  2. From seeking mentorship to ensuring customer satisfaction, Paul shares lessons from his over 2 decade-long journey as an entrepreneur.
  3. Paul’s 1974 Fiat Spider is just one of the fun toys you’ll get to hear about…

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Tweetable Quotes

  • “My advice to any entrepreneur is: Don’t be afraid to ask for help.” –Paul Van Metre
  • “So many businesses are started by people that are experts in their craft…but they may not know that much about running an actual business.” –Paul Van Metre
  • “Reputation is everything, especially in the software world. A happy customer will tell 2 or 3 people. An unhappy customer will tell 100 people.” –Paul Van Metre

Please Scroll Down for Full Show Notes and Recommended Resources from this Episode

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What We Discuss with Paul

  • Paul tells the story about cofounding his first machine shop – Pro CNC – with his Formula SAE college buddies right after graduating.
  • Reflecting on his experiences as a young founder, Paul shares advice for young entrepreneurs.
  • Paul discusses the differences between running a traditional manufacturing business and running a software company.
  • We discuss ProShop in the context of differentiation. Business processes are a key differentiator in today’s modern manufacturing market.
  • Paul shares lessons in customer service and the importance of reputation.
  • We wrap up our conversation with some car talk!

ProShop LogoRecommended Resources

  • ProShop, a cloud ERP combining aspects of MES, QMS, and more for managing every aspect of a machine shop’s front office and shop floor
  • “Your Competitors Can Do What You Do” by Brent Donaldson, a November 2020 article in Modern Machine Shop describing how ProShop helps machine shops gain a competitive advantage through documentation and digital processes
  • Wander Brewing, a Bellingham, WA-based craft brewery and the 2018 Washington Large Brewery of the Year award winner

Connect with Paul and ProShop ERP

LinkedIn | Twitter | Paul’s LinkedIn