LHP Software’s growth has been so successful that it has outgrown its name.

The privately held, Columbus-based company has become LHP Engineering Solutions to better reflect its services and aid its strategy of growing in the Midwest and western United States.

“In order to grow, you have got to have good branding, good marketing, a good strategy,” company Chairman Ryan Hou said.

LHP helps companies improve their engineering operations and products, with a focus on embedded electronic control systems. An embedded system is a special-purpose computer that is encapsulated by the device it controls. Embedded systems are found in motor vehicles, farm machinery and medical devices, for example.

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Ninety percent of LHP’s projects are related to engineering, so the original “Software” name was misleading, Hou said. He and other company leaders did not want there to be confusion in the marketplace, with potential customers thinking the company provided website or information technology services.

For example, one of LHP’s products is a remote monitoring system that checks the performance of engines. A new product is a rapid prototyping unit that bridges software with hardware and serves as an engine simulator, which is safer and cheaper than testing real engines, said CEO David Glass, who co-founded LHP with Hou on June 1, 2001.

“That’s very exciting,” Hou said of the new product.

LHP kicked off its rebranding with a luncheon event Thursday at The Commons, attended by about 75 people including employees, customers and community leaders. Employees wore blue or gray golf-style LHP Engineering Solutions shirts, and a trade show-type display of company products and information was set up for guests to check out.

Charting growth

LHP’s business strategy is to keep growing, Hou said.And grow it has.LHP has experienced 15 to 20 percent revenue growth in recent years, Hou said. Glass added that the company is expecting that trend to increase to about 25 percent in the near future.

The company started with five employees and did less than $1 million in sales its first year.

Now LHP has about 250 employees in Columbus and about 350 worldwide, but it has had a need for about 200 more since 2010, Glass said.

The company recorded sales last year of $31 million, said John Greenwell, an LHP marketing specialist.

While most of LHP’s business is with the automotive industry, Glass said LHP’s services also carry over to others such as agriculture, medical devices, consumer electronics and the military.

LHP has two offices in Columbus, plus a building on Washington Street that provides six weeks of dormitory-style housing for new hires to aid with their transition.

The company in 2011 announced plans to build a new $5 million headquarters in the Woodside North Industrial Park. LHP changed course because its Midwest expansion into Michigan became a priority, Glass said, but the company still plans to build a new headquarters in Columbus, although in a different location.

LHP has one other Indiana location, just north of Indianapolis in Westfield. The company has expanded well beyond Indiana, however, with offices in Chicago, Los Angeles, Troy, Michigan, and Fort Collins, Colorado, plus an international office in China and a recruiter in Mexico.

Customer base

LHP’s customers include Cummins Inc., Chrysler, Ford, Honda and John Deere, plus Tier 1 suppliers — companies that supply {span class=”_Tgc”}components directly to the original equipment manufacturer.{/span}In earlier years, LHP’s growth was opportunistic; now it’s a concerted effort, Glass said.He said LHP’s level of growth wasn’t envisioned at the start.

“I didn’t even know what the name should be when we started,” he said.

LHP has accumulated a lot of talent over the years and has a good vision in place, which is aiding growth, Glass said. It provides engineering solutions to help companies optimize their products and processes and does that with engineering skills, technology and products, he said.

“We identify the biggest issues and create a roadmap to move the organization forward,” Glass said.

Cummins, a maker of diesel engines and power systems, has been LHP’s biggest customer and still constitutes about half the company’s business, Glass said. The relationship between the companies is almost symbiotic, said Tim Millwood, vice president of purchasing for Cummins.

“They provide a lot of technical skills to work with our engineering groups to facilitate solutions,” Millwood said.

Usually, LHP either is asked to provide employees to assist Cummins teams or is presented with a project to do in a defined timeframe, said Keith Henry, a systems engineer for Cummins’ Power Generation business. LHP is good at matching talent to Cummins’ needs, he said.

LHP also has been helpful with training in specialized areas for some Cummins employees through LHP University, also known as LHPU, Millwood said.

Because of the close relationship, he said, Cummins is interested in seeing how LHP’s products develop.

‘Entrepreneurial superstars’

LHP’s success is a notable story, said Cindy Frey, executive director of the Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce.“They are one of the city’s entrepreneurial superstars,” she said.LHP has been successful in adding talent and well-paying jobs to the community and does a good job of using its employees’ talents to create new applications for technology, Frey said.

“The future is very bright for this company,” Frey said.

The company’s impact goes further, she said.

Hou has been instrumental in trying to foster foreign investment in Columbus through his numerous economic trade missions to China, and he has been supportive of other entrepreneurs — within LHP and others in the community, Frey said. She noted that Hou helped Dawn Andrews with her garb2Art cosmetics line by providing advice and helping establish connections in Taiwan.

Hou was honored Thursday night by the Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce as its small-business advocate of the year at its Venture Awards banquet.

Frey said the future is bright for Hou, Glass and their LHP ventures.

“I think it will be a lot of fun to see what they do next,” she said.

LHP's meaning

What does LHP mean?

LHP is a nod to the left-hand plane of a Nyquist plot. In a closed-loop transfer function of a control system, if all of the poles are in the left-hand plane, then the control system is stable. So, the acronym LHP represents the company’s goal of creating stable embedded control systems for a variety of engineering applications.

Company structure

Parent company LHP Inc. has three subsidiaries — LHP Engineering Solutions, LHP International and LHP Telematics.

LHP International is the company’s office in Wuhan, China.

LHP Telematics is partially owned by John Deere.

Divisions within LHP Engineering Solutions include Engineering Resources, Software Solutions, Platform Division and LHPU.

About the co-founders

Ryan Hou, 58, LHP chairman, spent 15 years as an independent consultant, doing test cell data acquisition, database design and implementation, and Web data server application. He earned a Bachelor of Law degree from Chinese Culture University and a Master of Public Administration degree from State University of New York.

David Glass, 50, LHP CEO, spent the first part of his career working for Cummins Inc. as an engineer and a technical manager, working with embedded controls applications on diesel engines for 14 years. He is a graduate of Trine University, with degrees in engineering and business.

LHP timeline

June 1, 2001: LHP Software founded by Ryan Hou and David Glass. Company’s first headquarters was at 305 Franklin St. in downtown Columbus.

Early 2005: Opens office in Wuhan, China.

October 2005: LHP moves into new headquarters at 1888 Poshard Drive, in the city’s InfoTech Park.

2008: Opens office in Westfield, north of Indianapolis.

2011 to 2012: Midwest expansion with offices opening in Chicago and Troy, Michigan (outside Detroit)

2015: Opens offices in Los Angeles and Fort Collins, Colorado.

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Kirk Johannesen is assistant managing editor of The Republic. He can be reached at johannesen@therepublic.com or (812) 379-5639.