Digital marketing firm to open new Detroit office, hire 150

Posted on April 24, 2013

A Washington-based company that provides digital marketing services to automakers and dealers, plans to hire 150 technology workers in the next few months as it moves into space in the Renaissance Center in Detroit.

The Michigan Strategic Fund Wednesday approved a $1.5 million performance based Michigan Business Development grant for ADP Dealer Services; the city of Detroit is expected to grant the firm a tax abatement.

ADP Digital Marketing and its Cobalt unit — part of ADP Dealer Services — will open an innovation center in leased space in the RenCen, investing $3.3 million.

The company, part of payroll giant ADP, hopes to begin Detroit operations in May and hire all workers by the end of June, said Chris Reed, chief marketing officer of ADP Digital Marketing, in a telephone interview.

“We felt the need and desire to be closer to our major customers, both dealers and manufacturers, and also have better coverage on the East Coast,” he said.

The company, which generates $400 million in annual revenue, chose to locate in Detroit over locations in suburban Chicago and Seattle, where ADP Digital Marketing is based.

The company, founded in 1995, has about 20 workers now at the Renaissance Center working on the General Motors Co. account, Reed said.

But the new office will serve Ford Motor Co., Chrysler Group LLC and other automakers, plus dealers, Reed said.

Gov. Rick Snyder said ADP will bring “good, well-paying” jobs to Detroit in an expansion. He called the announcement a “positive step in the reinvention of Detroit and Michigan.”

“It was a competitive process we went through and Michigan stood out and Detroit won,” Snyder said in a telephone interview.

ADP Digital Marketing plans to hire for positions such as digital marketing consultants who will work with dealers, account services representatives who will work with dealers to place digital advertising or update dealers’ websites and web technologists to design web and advertising products. Data scientists also will be needed to review consumer behavior and analyze why automotive consumers buy vehicles, Reed said.

“It’s a pretty diverse set of well-paid jobs and we are hiring now,” he said, adding all candidates likely will need a bachelor’s degree and some jobs will require more advanced degrees.

Information on the jobs and how to apply is listed under the Careers and Culture section of

Reed said Detroit was a clear winner in nationwide search.

“A lot of it had to do just with the local talent pool, existing businesses supporting the automotive industry. But also what really impressed us as we evaluated the local population, was … what’s called the automotive DNA of folks in the region,” Reed said. “We service the automotive industry. We’re talking with manufacturers and auto dealers. And if we can find folks with that passion for the industry and a deep knowledge of the industry, that’s a major asset to our business.”

He said ADP Digital Marketing is not worried about Detroit’s financial woes and having an emergency manager.

“We have faith in the business and the state and the industry, and we want to contribute to its future,” Reed said.

Snyder said the business climate in Detroit today is strong, citing efforts by Dan Gilbert to relocate workers into Detroit, the Ilitch family and plans for a new hockey arena. He also touted business efforts to buy police cars and ambulances for the city.

“As we improve the city in terms of its services, that’s just going to improve the environment,” he said. “The good news is we have a lot of good things going on in Detroit and this just reinforces that.”

Melissa Burden, The Detroit News.