New member of the year: for Rukmal Fernando, Michigan's struggling economy offered the perfect launching pad for a new, high-end design company.

Author:Stanard, Alexa
Position:Member Outreach
 
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Fernando started Breeze Design Studio in 2007 after a group of six designers approached him with their portfolios and asked the Sri Lankan native to back them financially. He agreed, and decided to head up the new venture.

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It was a change of pace for Fernando, who arrived in the United States in 1986 to earn his degree in finance at Indiana University and has spent the past 15 years working as a financial research analyst, work he continues to do. But the opportunity to work with a bright Learn of creative people in a state that really needs them was too good to pass up.

"I wanted to be part of the Michigan creative hub," he says. "Our whole business is built on making high-end design affordable. We saw an opportunity in the Michigan economy, and we try to develop solutions."

Breeze caters to "anybody and everybody," Fernando says, from small start-ups to multimillion-dollar companies. It offers a broad range of services, from animation, Web development and e-commerce to traditional products like brochures. In addition to its West Bloomfield headquarters, the company has offices in Canada and Sri Lanka.

In order to enable Breeze Design to grow, Fernando built the company on a low-cost model, asking designers to work for little or no salary in exchange for profit-sharing after (he third year.

"We implemented this strategy not only to build Breeze but also to serve...

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