By Lynne R. Zacharias
For the second year running, Corp! magazine asked its readers to name the “Best of the Best Michigan Business,” and our offices were inundated with nominations. Our savvy readers know a good business when they see it and they welcomed the opportunity to voice their opinions. We encourage you to read through the profiles of our winners and learn why they are all proud to be doing business in Michigan.
Architectural and Construction
B.D. Donovan Builders, Inc.
Brian Donovan, president of Brighton-based B.D. Donovan Builders says his company gets a lot of respect because they are based in Michigan. “The great thing about doing business in Michigan is the recognition you get from people who live out of state. It seems that companies based in Michigan get more respect than comparable companies from out of state,” he said. The business was started in 1985 and concentrates on new construction of custom homes. “Our personal touch and commitment to perfection is what makes B.D. Donovan Builders a success.”
Cityscape Architects, Inc.
Cityscape was established in 1999 with a true commitment for the practice of architecture and the desire to provide client-tailored services. The main focus was to integrate hands-on involvement by utilizing expertise to ensure a quality product. “As we begin our tenth year in business, we celebrate all the success we have encountered. We have a wonderful group of employees and our clients are local companies who are among the best in the automotive, banking and retail industry. We salute all the opportunities they have given us,” said Tony Dellicolli, R.A., principal.
Clayco Inc., headquartered in St. Louis, Mo., firm had several clients in Michigan, and as a result, opened a Detroit office in 1997. It began with only a handful of employees; however significant growth enabled the addition of numerous employees in the past 10 years. Clayco maintains a strong commitment and close working relationship with the city of Detroit and surrounding areas in Michigan. Becoming a leader in design-build has enabled Clayco to be selective about projects and proactively encourages companies to develop within the Detroit market, helping them select the best sites in the region to bring more jobs to the community.
Harley Ellis Devereaux
In 1908 Harley Ellis Devereaux was founded to help build the next great city - places that created a vibrant downtown and added to the cultural landscape. Today, the company’s designs still meet the needs of a changing society, and are helping clients innovate and achieve what’s next in their business. The company offers a complete range of planning, architecture, engineering, interior architecture, landscape architecture and construction services. The firm works extensively throughout the Midwest and southern California. The company is committed to sustainability and to design every project to achieve minimum LEED certification.
Inland Pipe Rehabilitation
A burst pipe would be a substantial problem severely impacting a municipality’s budget, resources and residents. Having the number one pipe-bursting repair company in the country located here in Michigan is a benefit to the state. Inland Pipe Rehabilitation, a provider of underground rehabilitation solutions, uses the latest technologies and has patented pipe cleaning tools that provide the U.S. with what the company says is the only environmentally friendly rehabilitation methods. “The foundation of Inland’s success can be attributed to our employees and exceptional client base in Michigan,” says CEO Joseph Cutillo.
J.S. Vig Construction Company
J.S. Vig, commercial general contractor and construction management firm, has been at the forefront of Michigan’s sustainable construction movement. The company’s latest venture, Ann Arbor-based Project Green, will serve as a green building resource library and help move the state’s eco-friendly construction practices forward. The company was founded on the belief that the true bottom line is not measured in dollars, but in people and relationships. President Joseph Vig says, “Michigan is home to customers who value integrity as much as our organization.”
PMA Consultants is an international construction consulting firm, recognized as pioneers and leaders in program, project and construction management and leading experts in dispute avoidance and resolution. PMA was founded in 1971 by CEO and Managing Principal Dr. Gui Ponce de Leon. PMA has embraced a mission to provide client value by building lasting relationships, pursuing innovation and exercising a social conscience. “We continue to develop and maintain long-lasting relationships with clients and vendors who have helped us build our business, and we show our gratitude to these entities by giving back to the community,” says Ponce de Leon.
In 1969 Gino Rossetti branched out to pursue his dream of great design in the building environment. The son of an architect, Rossetti crafted a business that has become international and multi-disciplined, providing a variety of design services under one roof. Southfield-based Rossetti provides architecture, planning, graphics and interiors services. “Being in a locale that thrives on hard work is essential to our success, we also feel that the metro Detroit community appreciates and welcomes great design. As downtown looks to reinvent and rebuild itself, Rossetti constantly seeks opportunities to be a part of this great region that has been our home for 40 years,” says Rossetti.
SHW Group, LLP
Doing business in Michigan today is a challenge, but along with great challenges comes opportunity. “The opportunities may not always be obvious but they do exist. We have found the abundance of talented creative professionals is just one of the advantages to conducting business in Michigan today,” says Marjorie Simmons, managing principal of the SHW Group, LLC, an architectural, planning, interior design and engineering firm that specializes in the planning and design of learning institutions. The firm serves 95 percent of the public universities, nearly 70 percent of the community colleges in Michigan, private institutions and school districts in Michigan.
Banks and Credit Unions
American 1 Federal Credit Union
American 1 began as Jackson Co-Op Federal Credit Union, a service provided to members of the Jackson Co-Op, and was founded in 1950. The Jackson Co-Op Credit Union had 47 members, three full-time employees and $580,000 in assets in its first year. By 1964, Jackson Co-Op Credit Union had acquired over 5,000 members – and even sold “Co-Op appliances” until 1974. The credit union soon established branches in Battle Creek, Hillsdale and in areas outside of Jackson. In 1987 the name was changed to American 1 Federal Credit Union. Today, American 1 provides low-cost financial services to more than 40,000 members and several hundred partner companies.
Bank of America
Kieth Cockrell, Michigan market president for Bank of America and midwest region executive for consumer and small business says, “Michigan has not only a rich past but also a great future and Bank of America is pleased to help play a part. It a great place to have a business - groundbreaking innovation and technology; a strong work ethic among a skilled workforce; culture; tourism and many diverse neighborhoods.” Bank of America is one of the world’s largest financial institutions, serving individual consumers, businesses and large corporations with banking, investing, asset management and other financial services. It offers 250 banking centers and more than 680 ATMs throughout Michigan.
In 1988, co-founders Charles P. Rothstein and David S. Eberly decided to start a company that was able to provide financial advice and transactional expertise to small and medium sized companies. The business expanded internationally and extended into venture capital. Today Beringea is the largest venture capital firm headquartered in Michigan and it is committed to the state’s future. “Michigan has a legacy of innovation. The evolution of a knowledge-based economy has made Michigan optimal grounds for the nurturing of companies in growth industries,” says Rothstein.
Citizens Republic Bancorp
Citizens Bank is a diversified financial services company providing a wide range of commercial, consumer, mortgage banking, trust and financial planning services to a broad client base. Citizens Republic Bancorp is the largest bank holding company headquartered in Michigan with roots dating back to 1871 and is the 41st largest bank holding company headquartered in the United States. “We are very client-focused at Citizens Bank and respond quickly to our clients’ needs. We have all the tools and resources of a large bank - combined with the ability to make decisions locally, which our clients really appreciate,” said Cathleen Nash, president and CEO.
Consumers Credit Union
Established in 1951 to serve Kalamazoo Consumers Power Company personnel, Consumers Credit Union grew to become a community chartered credit union, expanding into 11 west Michigan counties. The community is at the forefront of its future. “At Consumers Credit Union, it’s not about serving shareholders; it’s about serving our community,” says CEO and President Kit Snyder. With assets over $286 million, it continues to experience 20 percent annual growth for the past 20 years.
Co-op Services Credit Union
Co-op Services Credit Union has 11 locations and approximately 165 employees. The institution is in a good position because, throughout Michigan’s economic downturn, it stayed away from negative lending practices. “We put forth an effort to give back to the community, and we’ve maintained business practices that have kept us in a financially strong position. Co-op Services Credit Union remains a safe place to keep your money,” says CEO Anthony Carnarvon. The organization invests in charitable projects that improve local communities including food drives, toy drives and child safety days.
As a subsidiary of the Amway Corporation, Fulton Innovation takes advantage of its relationship with the well-known company and other Michigan businesses. Company management believes that the best thing about doing business in the state is the relationships that Fulton Innovation has with other Michigan companies, the Amway family of companies, and the residents of the greater Grand Rapids area. Fulton Innovation is dedicated to commercializing new and innovative technologies that include the company’s highest-profile technology, eCoupled, an intelligent wireless power technology which boasts efficiency and adaptability.
Ghafari’s core strengths remain the same today as when the company was founded: technology advantage, entrepreneurial spirit and the diversity of team members. Ghafari, an architecture and engineering services firm, is a leader in the use of 3D BIM, along with 4D and 5D CAD, to provide higher levels of service with reduced costs, shorter schedules, higher quality and more sustainable designs. Today, Ghafari has project experience in 28 countries and several diverse markets. Together, these strengths enable its “tailor-made” design philosophy, which is applied to each project to satisfy clients’ needs.
Mason L. Brown & Associates
While the latest business entity of Mason L. Brown & Associates was launched in 2001, the company has roots that date back to 1886 when Mason Brown’s great grandfather started his civil engineering firm in Detroit. Through the years, the company’s name has changed, but the core business has remained the same. The firm provides civil engineering and land surveys for any type of land development. One positive aspect of the recent economic climate that Brown has encountered-his interaction with municipalities. “They are much more receptive and flexible for new development in their communities,” he says.
Pacific Rim Alliance, Ltd.
Pacific Rim Alliance Ltd. has the resources and experience any organization may need to develop and establish Asian business strategies and in-country operations to advance and grow a business, while minimizing risks. The company offers Western clients a full range of Asian business development services, providing access into the region and an immediate team of resources. The company offers contract manufacturing for export world-wide; Asia sales, marketing and engineering support to serve Asia customers or market evaluation, due diligence and ground-up Asian business development to understand and capitalize on all facets of Asia.
Back in 1959, a travel service firm was a new concept. Today, Ann Arbor-based Conlin Travel is still going strong under the guidance of the founder’s son, Chris Conlin. When his father was at the helm, there was no Internet-today it’s an important tool for the business. “We use the Internet every day and couldn’t live without it. We have wonderful Internet tools for our customers that allow the ease of 24/7 bookings backed by our travel professionals,” he says. Much has changed in the industry throughout the years, but what is at the heart of this business is a commitment to its customers.
Coverall Health-Based Cleaning System
Rose Johnson started her Coverall Health-Based Cleaning System franchise 10 years ago because she had always dreamed of owning her own business and found that Coverall offered her the best support. “Despite the economy, I have been blessed and able to stay afloat, by working harder. Michigan offers a lot of business opportunity, but you have to work hard to make it happen.” she says. The company is revolutionizing the commercial cleaning industry with its Health-Based Cleaning System which cleans for health, not just appearances, to reduce the spread of illness, along with its associated costs, in business communities.
Hacienda Mexican Foods
Seeing a demand for a premium tortilla chip product, Lydia Gutierrez and her late husband Richard started Hacienda Mexican Foods in 1994 to meet this need. The company started with only five employees and today employs more than 100 and distributes products in more than 25 states nationwide. Lydia Gutierrez says, “Michigan’s hardworking and talented workforce plays an important role for any growing business. Our cultural diversity continues to have a positive impact on growth and development statewide.” Michigan’s proximity to Canada also creates a greater opportunity for international business development.
A passion for creating hand-crafted jewelry turned into a successful business for the owner of Just So! Jewelry in Brighton. Denise Couling’s inspiration stems from her enthusiastic and supportive customers. “I consider how women really want to wear their jewelry and then build the versatility right in.” Just So! offers a collection of designer pieces that can be mixed and matched. Couling also sells her collections at special trunk shows and events in popular Michigan resort towns. “While on vacation, people are looking for good quality and unique Michigan products,” she says.
Kenwal Steel Corp.
Kenwal Steel Corp. was founded in 1947 to serve local fabrication companies with steel distribution. With four locations and 300 employees, the company prides itself as being lean, well run and market-informed. The company pays special attention to quality issues. Michigan’s location provides key transportation facilities including rail, truck and shipping access. The company also appreciates the well-trained worker pool in the state.
Marshall Sales, Inc.
For automotive, construction and industrial industries in need of a large inventory of standard and metric fasteners, Marshall Sales, Inc. is where they will find what they need. Marshall Sales, Inc. is a second-generation, family-owned business based in Detroit. Since 1956, the company has provided quality products and exceptional service to customers. President and CEO Nancy Marshall credits loyalty and longevity for its success. “In spite of the up and down economy over the past years, Marshall Sales, Inc. has successfully remained in business for 52 years within the city of Detroit, thanks to our loyal customers,” she says.
Morse Moving & Storage
Morse Moving and Storage, an ISO certified company, was established in 1954 by Herb and Vi Morse. Of their 11 children and 42 grandchildren; 26 work full-time in the business today. Morse Moving has eight brothers and three sisters who began working in the business while very young, gaining valuable experience in packing, loading and driving moving vans. Morse Moving has developed a team of drivers with an average of 16 years experience in moving families and corporations. This allows the company to relocate families and businesses across town or around the world. Morse uses Certified Moving Consultants and Certified Relocation Professionals with years of experience.
Variant Partners was founded in 1970. The company is a staffing services firm providing executive search, direct hire and contract placement with specialists in a wide range of disciplines. The company describes itself as a family-style environment with noted longevity in this field. “We pride ourselves on building long lasting relationships with local businesses and providing them with high quality service. We have been here for 38 years and plan to be here for many more. Michigan has and will flourish in a variety of areas in the future,” says CEO Rosemary Sarafa.
Busch’s is a privately held, independent supermarket chain based in Ann Arbor. Joe Busch and Charlie Mattis started the family venture in 1975 by acquiring two stores in Clinton and Saline. When Busch retired in 1986, sons Doug, John and Tim took over, then acquired or built more stores. Ranging in size from 26,000 to 54,000 square feet, Busch’s stores are either freestanding or anchored to major shopping centers. Recognized as an industry leader by Store Equipment and Design Magazine, the newer stores include cafÃÂ© areas to enjoy fresh brewed coffee or sample the array of fresh gourmet foods from Busch’s Kitchen.
“If you’ve never been to an authentic grocery store before, you’ll love Hiller’s,” says Jim Hiller. His grocery stores offer premier products, gourmet selections, healthy choices and lifestyle shopping. The company was created in 1941 by Sidney Hiller, who had a commitment to quality, selection and value. Now, led by Jim Hiller, Hiller’s Markets is Michigan’s home for loyal shoppers. According to the company’s Web site, “We listen to shoppers and we obtain items that you request, no matter how arcane, rare or unusual. The Hiller name is known for quality, variety, great taste and unparalleled customer service.”
For customers, taking a cooking class at their grocery store would be very convenient. Holiday Market in Royal Oak offers cooking classes, as well as all the specialty shops like meat, bakery, wine, cheese, produce, deli, catering, specialty groceries and everyday groceries such as cereal and paper towels. President Gina Mangold starting working at her father’s market when she was 12 years old. “We pride ourselves in providing excellent customer service. Customers return to where they are attended to and appreciated. You have to sweat the details like taking a customer to where an item is located as opposed to telling them what aisle it’s in,” she says.
Seeing an opportunity to meet an untapped niche in Novi, Vincent Nona took advantage of an available location to open his market nearly a year ago. The market caters to wine connoisseurs who are also looking for specialty foods. “We offer superior customer service and extensive knowledge of our products. If our customers are looking for a specific gourmet item, our in-house chef can prepare it for them. We cater to our customers,” Nona says.
Meijer is a family-owned business that has been headquartered in Michigan since it was founded in Greenville in 1934. As the inventor of the “one-stop shopping” concept, Meijer stores have evolved through the years to include expanded fresh produce and meat departments, as well as pharmacies, electronics departments, garden centers and apparel offerings. The retailer operates 185 supercenters throughout Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio and Kentucky. Meijer gives back approximately 6 percent of its net profit to the community through charitable donations, community partnerships and sponsorships.
Nino Salvaggio’s Marketplace
Nino Salvaggio International Marketplace provides high quality food at reasonable prices. The market employs 400 people and has three locations including Troy, Clinton Township and St. Clair Shores. Nino Salvaggio started the business with a philosophy that to this day is the backbone of his success: “Give the customer exactly what they want, whatever it takes, cater to them, and you can bet they will keep coming back for more.” Salvaggio’s has become a very successful name in the produce and food industry. While many things have changed over the years; however, his deep desire to please customers while providing a unique retail presentation has always remained the same.
Randazzo Fresh Market
Randazzo Fresh Market has been owned and operated by the Randazzo family since 1972. The family strives to maintain that “mom and pop” appeal in a “big business” world. According to its Web site customers are like family. “As our family has grown, so have those of our customers. It is not uncommon to see grandmother, daughter and granddaughter shopping together.” Gift baskets are just one of the many specialties offered. The market is a full service food specialty and gourmet marketplace. Randazzo carries fresh fruit and vegetables, butcher meat, baked goods, full service delicatessen, homemade prepared meals and catering, seafood, gourmet grocery and beverages.
Westborn Market is a business rooted in a proud family tradition, striving to offer nothing but the best quality products for customers. “Our stores reflect a unique combination of the freshest produce, choice meats, groceries, beautiful flowers and fine wines,” says Mark Anusbigian, president. The market provides an extensive list of services, including party trays, catering, fruit baskets, floral design and wedding flowers and delivery services. The Market opened its original Dearborn location in 1963. The business is committed to buy from local producers whose fruits and vegetables meet high quality standards.
Barnes & Thornburg
Barnes & Thornburg offers a power packed combination of client-centric philosophy and a commitment to providing outstanding service. Its industry-leading legal professionals has enabled the firm to routinely rank as one of the top firms in Michigan. Tracy T. Larsen, Grand Rapids managing partner says, “Michigan’s globally-recognized companies have helped ensure a robust client base, providing a wide variety of work to challenge and engage the firm’s professionals.”
Brinks Hofer Gilson & Lione
Brinks Hofer Gilson & Lione (BHGL) provides intellectual property legal counseling. The firm seeks to fully understand clients’ business needs and provide them with effective legal services of the highest quality. BHGL is committed to professional and ethical work practices, diversity among employees and to the community through pro bono work and group involvement. BHGL is headquartered in Chicago. The Michigan office opened in 2000 because of the opportunity to serve the many entrepreneurs and technology developers in the state. “We are committed to weathering this difficult economic period and will continue to enhance the cost effectiveness of providing our legal services,” says Steve Oberholtzer, managing partner.
Brooks Kushman P.C.
Brooks Kushman specializes in intellectual property - patents, trademarks and copyrights -technology-related, and commercial counseling and litigation matters around the world. The firm was founded in 1983 by five attorneys to provide cutting edge legal services efficiently and economically. The market demonstrated a strong need for an IP firm with significant depth of talent, which has supported the firm’s success over the years. “Over the past 25 years, we’ve worked diligently to create a law firm that is family-oriented, fosters individual talents and growth and provides an element of fun. These have been key factors in our success,” says Mark Cantor, president.
Dickinson Wright, PLLC
While the geographic footprint of Dickinson Wright PLLC, a full-service law firm, continues to expand, it remains committed to Michigan. Since 1878, Dickinson Wright’s main office in Detroit has not moved more than three blocks. The firm’s attorneys currently practice in eight offices around Michigan, as well as Nashville, Washington D.C. and Toronto. “We continue to be committed to our home state, providing superior service to our clients, the best possible working environment for our employees, and the highest level of involvement in our communities,” says James A. Samborn, member and CEO.
Founded in 1926, Dykema is one of the country’s most respected law firms, offering experience and expertise in a broad range of areas. Since the firm’s inception, its mission has been to provide the best possible legal advice and service to clients. Rex Schlaybaugh, chairman and CEO looks forward to the future. “Michigan offers businesses a competitive business tax structure, top notch educational institutions, a well-established infrastructure and a wonderful quality of life. Dykema looks forward to its next 80 years as a leading Michigan law firm,” he says.
Jaffe Raitt Heuer & Weiss, P.C.
In celebration of its 40th anniversary, Jaffe Raitt Heuer & Weiss, P.C. donated 8,000 hours of community service, a massive undertaking that benefited more than 350 local nonprofit organizations. “It was a challenging goal and an outstanding accomplishment,” says CEO Richard A. Zussman. The law firm doesn’t stop at philanthropic endeavors, its team of 200 employees make up a highly qualified, full-service business law firm providing sophisticated legal services to entrepreneurial-minded businesses, family-owned enterprises and individuals.
Miller, Canfield, Paddock and Stone, PLC
Since 1852, the Miller Canfield law firm has experienced success in Detroit. “Our people have made us a premier law firm, commanding the respect that much larger firms might claim while providing a close-knit collegial environment normally found in smaller companies,” says Michael Hartmann, CEO. With over 370 lawyers representing over 40 law schools and practicing in all major areas of law, Miller Canfield is among the National Law Journal’s 250 largest law firms in the U.S. and is one of Michigan’s largest law firms.
Nemeth Burwell, P.C.
Nemeth Burwell, P.C., has an affinity for Detroit. As president of her law firm that specializes in management labor and employment law, Patricia Nemeth says, “If you want to practice in the area of labor and employment law, there is no better place than Michigan. Wayne State University Law School in particular has afforded us the opportunity to hire local graduates who are committed to remaining in Michigan.” The law firm was founded in 1992 to provide exemplary legal services for employers in the area of traditional labor law and employment litigation. Its aim is to work with employers to prevent, resolve and litigate employment disputes.
Trott & Trott
Farmington Hills-based Trott & Trott, P.C., a loss mitigation law firm, was founded in 1976 to represent banks, lending institutions and mortgage service entities. Managing Shareholder David Trott says, “Being located in Michigan has allowed the firm to find and retain outstanding people. Trott & Trott possesses a great culture and has an outstanding commitment to community service.”
Varnum, a law firm established in 1888, provides counsel in all areas of law including corporate, health care, life sciences, energy, financial, labor, trial, estate planning, environmental, intellectual property, real estate, regulatory and family law. The firm employs 375 attorneys and staff in Grand Haven, Grand Rapids, Lansing, Kalamazoo and Novi.
Acme Manufacturing Company
Acme Manufacturing designs, builds and integrates programmable robotic and dedicated systems that perform buffing, polishing, grinding, deburring and superfinishing operations. The company reduces the cost of metal finishing operations by as much as 65 percent. The company has installed more than 100,000 machines and systems, in more than 35 countries, over the last century. Acme’s diverse applications span many industries: automotive OEM and aftermarket parts, heavy truck, medical implants, aircraft/aerospace components, plumbing and builders’ hardware, cookware, motorcycle parts, off-road and agricultural equipment, hydraulic cylinders, stainless steel and specialty metals.
Amigo Mobility International, Inc.
Amigo Mobility originated with building three-wheeled power operated vehicles for people with disabilities and the elderly, and then expanded to motorized shopping carts for grocery stores and other retail environments. Today, Amigo manufactures a complete line of mobility products at its headquarters in Bridgeport. “You have to keep moving forward and changing before the customer asks for change. It’s hard to do when the business is growing and you are feeling successful. But it is absolutely key to your future,” says CEO Beth Thieme.
Cascade Engineering, Inc.
Cascade Engineering thrives on finding solutions to tough challenges - that’s the vision that drove Fred Keller when he began the company, and it remains an accurate reflection of the organization’s vision today. Cascade Engineering has continued to build on its reputation as a developer and manufacturer of injection-molded products for leading firms in the automotive, solid waste and industrial markets. “For Cascade, Michigan has afforded the right business and human elements to achieve success. Michigan’s rich heritage of innovative manufacturing, combined with its expanding knowledge-based economy, talented employees and growing number of LEED-certified facilities has provided the perfect platform for our growth,” says Keller.
CerMet Lab Co.
Who wouldn’t want to save up to 15 percent on their fuel consumption? Dean Rose, CEO of CerMet Lab Company says, “Our product represents the meeting of nano-technology, green initiatives and the long-term imperative to reduce fuel consumption costs and emissions.” The company develops and manufactures a nanotechnology product called CerMet, an easy-to-apply ceramic treatment that restores metal surfaces in engines and other power transmission equipment which reduces friction and fuel consumption in engines. CerMet Lab relishes its proximity to the Motor City, the technical hub for automotive engine advances and related technology.
Founded in 1958, INCOE Corporation designs and manufactures hot runner systems driven by performance for processing of all injection moldable plastic materials. A pioneer in the plastics industry, its original patented design was the first commercial hot runner nozzle available. The development and use of hot runner systems has led to the advancement of injection molding in productivity and cost savings on a global basis. INCOE systems are available globally and for virtually every injection molding market.
Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet
Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet’s history is rooted in a family owned business dating back to the 1900s. From revolutionary hybrid grills that cook with charcoal, wood and gas, to the most powerful and energy efficient outdoor refrigeration available, Kalamazoo Outdoor today is a leading manufacturer in outdoor cooking and entertaining equipment. “We are committed to supporting the local community and take pride in working with other Michigan companies for quality parts and supplies,” says company President Pete Georgiadis.
Kellogg Company has become more than a bowl of cereal. Not only is Kellogg the world’s leading producer of cereal, the company is also a leading producer of convenience foods, including cookies, crackers, toaster pastries, cereal bars, frozen waffles and meat alternatives. The company was founded in 1906 in Battle Creek by founder, W.K. Kellogg, with the goal of “making quality products for a healthier world.” This idea continues to be at the core of its business today. Kellogg products are manufactured in 19 countries and marketed in 180 countries around the world and employs approximately 32,000 people worldwide.
Link Engineering Company
In 1935, Herbert Link founded Link Engineering Company out of his home basement. His training as a toolmaker and his ability to find innovative solutions allowed him to begin designing and manufacturing test equipment used throughout the automotive industry. As needs for quality and reliability became ever more critical, Link Engineering Company grew. The company designs and manufactures precision test systems and provides comprehensive vehicle and laboratory testing services. “We have developed Link Engineering Company to be an agile organization dealing in a global marketplace while applying advanced technologies to solve ever more complicated issues,” says Roy Link, president and CEO.
Michigan Ladder Company
Michigan Ladder was started in 1901 when three businessmen saw a need for climbing equipment in southeast Michigan. During the turn of the century, transportation of ladders and climbing equipment was almost non-existent and local companies had to fill that need. Michigan Ladder prided itself on never having to lay off workers, not even during the Great Depression of the 1930s. Michigan Ladder still manufactures ladders in its original buildings, while currently supplying the hardware, industrial and commercial trades and industries with ladders, scaffolding, trestles and specialty ladders that enable those businesses to accomplish their tasks.
With over 50 years of experience, the Permawick Company specializes in the reservoir and engineered release of fluids. The Birmingham-based company is an acknowledged world leader in the lubrication of bearing systems for electric motors. Permawick now designs fluid release systems for a variety of other markets and products. Its wicking and gel materials can hold fluids and release them when required, for lubrication systems, printing applications, material cutting machines, polishing, surface preparation, flame regulation or countless other fluid dispersion needs. Common uses for Permawick material are replacements for felt, foam, wax or open reservoir systems.
Media, Marketing and Public Relations
Bloomfield Hills-based Berline was created over 26 years ago as a response to high quality, market driven organizations desiring high levels of service, attention and a marketing partnership. The firm’s objective was to become an indispensable marketing partner to each client, providing comprehensive marketing and communications services that can effectively and efficiently address every marketing challenge. Founded in 1983 by Jim Berline and Michelle Horowitz, the partners have combined their strengths, which have resulted in success. Berline excels in client services and Horowitz is known for her analytical skills.
Bianchi Public Relations, Inc.
Founded as a business-to-business public relations firm, Bianchi Public Relations, Inc. has special expertise in media relations in the automotive supply chain, technology, industrial and professional services sectors. President Jim Bianchi continues to be enthusiastic about doing business in the state. “Michigan is a research and development powerhouse and home to the intellectual capital of the auto industry, offering a talented workforce, exciting new technologies and interesting opportunities for businesses of all sizes.” After being in business for 16 years, his approach has served clients and the company well.
Bright House Networks of Michigan
In April 2003, Bright House Networks was created with the promise to put customers in control and to help make their lives easier. Since then, Bright House Networks has continued to live up to that promise by introducing innovative customer care initiatives, easier to understand billing practices and simple to use products that are available when customers want them. The products - cable, high speed Internet and digital phone - connect homes to entertainment, information and the world. Recently, Bright House Networks ranked highest in customer satisfaction for the third year in a row by J.D. Power and Associates for digital phone and for the delivery of high speed Internet.
Eisbrenner Public Relations
Having fun should be everyone’s goal when they start a company. Ray Eisbrenner, chairman, founded the company in 1985 with the goal of creating a different kind of PR firm: one focused on creating relationships for the long-term, thrilling clients and having fun in the process. “We’ve been fortunate to have clients for more than 20 years - we hope it’s because of the service we provide, though we suspect it may be due to our pool table, wii game and beer fridge,” said Tom Eisbrenner, president. The public relations, marketing and communications firm’s core values include emphasizing the positive; using curiosity to spur innovation and to be motivated to discover what’s next.
Starting with one client and a small workshop, EWI Worldwide has seen success. Boasting nearly 30 years of experience, EWI Worldwide supports a diverse group of clients across multiple industries. From creative development to final product, the company helps customers tell their story and deliver real results. EWI Worldwide consists of four specialty divisions, each offering its own unique capabilities and resources: Studio Creative, Presentation Works, Exhibit Works and Interior Works. “Our philosophy is, ‘It’s handled.’ This is part determination, part confidence-this phrase means an absolute commitment to client service. It guides everything we do,” says Dominic Silvio, chairman and CEO.
Franco Public Relations
“Franco helps its clients communicate who they are, what they do and why it’s important. From a communications perspective, we do it all - branding, reputation management, community outreach, media relations, collateral material and training,” says Maria Leonhauser, president. In 1964, Tony Franco fulfilled his dream when he started the public relations firm in Detroit. The firm provides services for global clients, as well as Michigan-based startups and nonprofits. “Franco excels at having a collaborative approach, complete with talented people with various forms of expertise. In the end, our approach benefits the agency as a whole, and provides great value to our clients,” she says.
Hermanoff Public Relations
Public relations and marketing firm Hermanoff PR was established in 1985. President and CEO Sandy Hermanoff said there is more to life than automotive. “We have everything in Michigan-corporate, retail, health care, banking, nonprofits and more,” she says. “Our economy presents many challenges, but that’s what keeps me and my team on our toes.” The agency offers a full line of creative services for all of its clients.
Identity Marketing & PR
When Identity Marketing & Public Relations was formed in 1998, its objective was to be recognized as an atypical agency that took a unique, innovative and personalized approach to client relationships and the creative process. Founding Partners Paul Kesman and Mark Winter describe their goals as, “not necessarily to be the largest firm in Michigan. Our goal was to be the best.” Identity looks beyond the automotive industry to a number of other industries such as technology and health care, which presents opportunities for future growth. The company has a clear direction and focus for the future, with a solid growth plan through 2017.
Lambert, Edwards & Associates
In just over 10 years, Lambert, Edwards & Associates has posted nine consecutive years of growth, expanding from revenues of $70,000 in 1998 to more than $4 million in 2008. The company was founded in 1998 with the aim of becoming a full-service public relations and investor relations firm. “Michigan’s expanding roster of innovative companies, combined with its strong entrepreneurial spirit and talented workforce has provided a perfect platform for our growth and success,” says Managing Partner and President Jeff Lambert.
Michael Layne, managing partner of Marx Layne & Co., says his company’s success is all about the people. “This company is made up of a great team of people who are highly industrious, creative and have deep industry insight,” he says. The marketing and public relations firm was founded in 1987 to provide highly effective marketing and public relations services to a broad range of clients. Layne says that Michigan is a great state to do business in because of “wonderful clients, large media market and a diversity of industry and people.”
Starting with a computer from a Wal-Mart store in Alaska, Lisa Wehr launched her Web site development business. A few years later she relocated to Traverse City and rebuilt her business from the ground-up. Her company, Oneupweb, provides digital marketing, including search engine optimization, podcast production, social media marketing, online media planning and placement. She is convinced that just about any business can succeed in any environment if you establish and firmly stick to principles. “Going above and beyond to deliver a promise is a given. Our company motto is referred to as the 3-b’s: be humble, be honest and be professional,” she says.
re:group, inc., is a privately held, national brand marketing firm based in Ann Arbor that provides integrated brand management, including marketing, design, advertising, communications, Internet and media services. The company has expertise in franchise, retail, health care, biotech, finance and insurance. Essentially, re:group provides businesses with effective marketing solutions to help them stay profitable and grow. President, CEO and Founder Janet Muhleman has started many successful businesses in the state. She says, “I believes in Michigan and in supporting our state’s economy; it continues to be a great place to live.”
Save on Everything
Save on Everything is a household name because it is delivered to 40 million homes annually. Headquartered in Troy, the company has expanded into Chicago, Minneapolis and Houston. The coupon magazine provides savings to recipients and advertising opportunities for local businesses. President and CEO Michael Gauthier says his company can help boost Michigan’s economy, “Right now we have an opportunity to help our community by saving homeowners time and money on things they use every day.”
Shawne Duperon, CEO of ShawneTV, is keeping the faith in Michigan. “I love what we do. It’s really that simple. When you love what you do, that’s when you really succeed. My belief in what we provide is unshakable regardless of what the economy is doing. There is so much freedom and attraction in unstoppable faith,” she says. Her company provides media training to businesses, entrepreneurs and executives, helping them utilize the media in a positive way. On the production end, the company creates fundraising videos and documentaries that inspire people to action.
It’s all about the name at Shazaaam! PR & Marketing-the firm that turns words into dollars with results-driven, leading edge, creative marketing solutions for brands and businesses who want measurable results. Shazaaam! was founded in 2001 by Adrienne Lenhoff, who is committed to Michigan. “We’ve revitalized our commitment to this region with our recent purchase of a 28,000 square-foot facility that will serve as our headquarters and accommodate our growth and job creation.” The company is a member of Pinnacle Worldwide, the largest global organization of independently-owned PR firms, with partner agencies across the country and around the world.
Real Estate (Commercial/Industrial)
CORE Partners, LLC, offers consulting, brokerage and marketing services for tenants, landlords, developers, investors and lenders of all segments of commercial real estate. CORE provides its clients with professional service, in an effort to foster, grow and maintain long lasting business relationships. “Virtually all of the other top commercial brokerage companies who offer the transactional real estate services we offer will find themselves in a situation where they are directly competing with the very clients they intend to serve; this is because they are similarly in the same business of property development, management, construction and architectural design as many clients,” states partner Eric Banks.
Andrew V. Farbman, president and CEO, believes everything a business owner could want is in Michigan: “From an educated workforce to beautiful architecture and access to cutting edge technology, Michigan has limitless potential.” Founded in 1976 by Burton Farbman and Lee Stein, the company sought to create one of the region’s first full-service real estate firms that offered all of the services their clients could possibly need. The company attributes its success to employees’ resourcefulness and innovation to each and every project and challenge they encounter.
Gibbs Planning Group
Birmingham-based Gibbs Planning Group is considered one of the leading traditional urban planning firms in the country, having consulted on over 100 communities and developments in the state, as well as over 300 town centers and historic cities across North America, the Pacific Rim and the Caribbean. President Robert Gibbs says Michigan’s traditional towns and cities offer a prototype for new urban and smart growth sustainable techniques that have broad applications. He says, “I am pleased to have worked across the state with such forward-thinking clients.”
American Spoon Foods
For American Spoon Foods, there is a lot to love about doing business in the state. Most important is the fact that Michigan is among the finest fruit producing regions in the world, so the company is close to the source of its ingredients. The company was founded in 1982 with the mission of producing the finest fruit preserves in America, if not the world. President and CEO Justin Rashid says, “We are grateful to our loyal customers, who continue to make American Spoon a part of their daily life by using our products at home and giving them as gifts.”
The Fathead brand was formed in September 2006 by Dan Gilbert and a group of investors. Its most popular product line is a life-sized, hi-def, wall-graphic called a Fathead. These life-size wall graphics consist of sports and entertainment stars, with over 500 different Fathead images available in a product line expanding every day. “It’s always great when a dynamic company beyond the automotive industry can flourish in Michigan with a great product and brand that is recognized nationwide. Our products are generated from big ideas that inspire big smiles, big thoughts and big dreams,” says Brock Weatherup, CEO.
Maggie’s Functional Organics
Maggie’s Organics was founded in 1992 on the premise that all workers could be treated ethically and that clothing could be functional, beautiful, affordable and also constructed of environmentally sustainable materials. “Sixteen years later, we are proud to say that our proposition has proven true: our line of organic and fair trade socks, scarves, tights, loungewear, legwarmers, tees, baby clothes, sock monkeys and fashionable tops continues to fulfill and strengthen our founding principles,” said owner Bena Burda. “Maggie’s is blessed with customers who have taken time to get to know and support us, and whose insights constantly challenge us to improve.”
Moosejaw Mountaineering & Backcountry Travel, Inc.
Moosejaw Mountaineering & Backcountry Travel, Inc. is an outdoor clothing and gear retailer founded in 1992. The company has seven shops in Michigan and one in Chicago and approximately 250 employees. The philosophy of the store can be summed up as, “At Moosejaw we want to make shopping as much fun as backpacking the Chilkoot trail, climbing in Yosemite, mountaineering in the Himalayas or playing red rover with the neighbors.”
TWC Surf and Sport
Avoiding a 9 to 5 job may have been the catalyst, but it was a true passion for snow and water sports that inspired Tim Shepard to launch TWC Surf and Sport. The store sells snowboarding, skateboarding, surfing and windsurfing equipment. TWC recently expanded into a 12,000-square-foot building in Sylvan Lake. The new location has a west coast flair and is environmentally friendly. “I began the business in 1991 during an economic slowdown and now, like then, I look at the recent economic problems as opportunities to improve our business with our recent expansion,” he says.
“Beginning with our first store in Ypsilanti, Michigan has been a solid foundation for the evolution of Wireless Toyz and our unique wireless shopping experience,” says Richard Simtob, senior vice president of finance and growth. “Michigan is packed with highly talented and passionate business professionals and, its central location and world-class airport make getting anywhere in the country direct and quick.” Wireless Toyz is a multi-carrier and full-service wireless retailer with 40 locations in Michigan and 155 locations nationwide. As largely a franchise organization, Wireless Toyz is a retail partner of the leading national wireless carriers and has a commitment to customer-focused service in a fun and interactive atmosphere.
Troy-based Accretive Solutions specializes in the industries they know and understand; accounting and finance, enterprise governance, and business and technology. Twenty years ago, the company saw a gap between the old consulting model and the aggressive new companies driving quick change through special projects. Accretive Solutions has integrated consulting and executive search under one roof, creating a powerhouse of professionals. As a privately-held, national professional services firm, Accretive Solutions has made the commitment to serve the community through raising funds for cancer research, feeding the homeless, volunteering with literacy programs and the Special Olympics.
Currently one in six women is looking for help to become pregnant. Michael La Vean realized that the process of trying to conceive a baby can range from wonderfully miraculous to coldly clinical. La Vean knew that over-the-counter products were needed. The Conceivex mission is to provide health care products that will assist with reproductive goals. Conceivex manufactures and distributes the Conception Kit, a safe and effective method to help women overcome infertility in the privacy of their own homes. “We are a small company doing big things for Michigan. Our company’s growth both nationally and internationally is bringing more attention to the impact Michigan businesses have everywhere,” he says.
Emagine Entertainment, Inc., offers a 21st century movie-going experience. Its movie complex shows up to 17 different films in a day. “We are known for providing our guests with an exemplary movie going experience,” says Paul A. Glantz, founder and chairman of the business. With three locations in Novi, Canton and Birch Run, the company employs 250 people who focus on providing guests with a great experience. “It is a tribute to the outstanding team of dedicated Emagine personnel that we have enjoyed such success,” he adds.
Glitz Salons, Inc.
The Glitz Salon is a full service hair salon, with has three locations in Michigan that act as one large unit, not three separate entities. This enables the business to support community outreach programs. If a salon in one city is asked to participate in an event, all salons will be there. The salon team will help local high schools produce high quality prom fashion shows worthy of a New York runway. Retention of staff is high. In fact, the same five women that founded Glitz in 1989 are still working for the company.
Wayne Wudyka and business partner Jeffrey Snyder purchased Huntington Cleaners in 1992 when the business was only a neighborhood dry cleaner. With a progressive approach, the partners broadened services by enhancing the company’s retail component, developing a route service across the metro area and creating an insurance restoration division. Today, the Huntington Cleaners operation has grown substantially, surpassing more than $9 million in sales last year. Michigan is home for the partners. “Like so many other business leaders, we grew up here and chose to build our business in Michigan. The state represents a diverse marketplace and we are able to touch the lives of residents throughout Michigan,” says Wudyka.
Innovative Learning Group, Inc.
“Often, tough times present opportunities for those who are willing to work hard and be accountable,” says Lisa Toenniges, president and founder of Innovative Learning Group, Inc. The business was created in 2004, as a result of the closing of Toenniges’ former employer, a training company serving the Midwest. Undaunted, she set out to do even better. “It was our conviction that we could serve clients with excellent quality at a reasonable cost, while providing incredible customer service.” Today the company creates learning and performance support solutions for medium and large corporations to help employees do their jobs more effectively to support business goals.
Institutional Investment Consulting
Institutional Investment Consulting Inc. (IIC) is an objective, single-source provider of institutional investment consulting services. The company assists small, mid-size and large companies with every aspect of institutional investing, from strategy and structure, to ongoing investment management, as well as a wide range of special projects. While acting as a company’s advocate, the company will assist a committee in proactively managing the multi-faceted plan-related responsibilities and the service providers. The knowledge and experience of IIC provides a valuable timesaving resource that assists in developing and maintaining a solid strategy for an organization.
John W. Felton Law Offices
John W. Felton Law Office based in Gaylord provides personal attention and representation. The firm provides tough, experienced legal representation with the resources and knowledge to successfully resolve even the most difficult cases in a quick and efficient manner. Services include trial practice, business services, wills and living trusts, drunk driving and construction liens. Felton has been licensed since 1980 and has a commitment to providing customers with the highest quality services at affordable rates.
Kalamazoo Custom Kitchens, Inc.
What else would someone do when they grew up in the kitchen business, but start their own? “It was a natural choice for me,” says Kalamazoo Custom Kitchens President and CEO Daryl Ann Letts, who believes in providing enthusiasm and imaginative solutions for any project. The company designs and creates custom kitchens, dens, baths, fireplaces, wet bars, entertainment centers, bedroom furniture and more. What began in her home in 1989 has now led to six national design awards and a satisfied customer base for the last 20 years.
Laurie Sall & Associates
After working as an administrative assistant for an insurance company for three years, Laurie Sall thought it would be great to start her own company. “I enjoyed the insurance business and thought I could be successful,” she says. The Troy business was started in 1980 and provides life and health insurance services. “We put the customer first and try to help them with their personal and business insurance needs,” says Sall.
Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital
From its humble beginnings, Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital has grown to become a leader in rehabilitative care. Mary Free Bed was established with a modest fundraising effort in 1891 to make health care available for individuals who could not afford it. Contributions of 10 cents from every woman and child whose name was Mary was solicited. Today the organization provides comprehensive rehabilitation services to patients who have sustained injuries or who have physical and developmental disabilities.
POCO Labs, LLC
POCO Labs was created at the turn of the millennium as a management consultancy specializing in strategic product, business and service development for Fortune 100 companies and leading industry organizations. POCO Labs’ experience is diverse by industry with a focus on delivering unique consumer and business solutions and at times, by collaboratively engaging strategically complementary organizations. The firm offers a robust range of professional services including: concept development; pilot and prototype development and management; research, financial analysis and business modeling; road mapping and strategic alliance development. Its web site states, “We do all of this in the spirit of creating new products, services and businesses for leading companies, institutions and organizations.”
Scott Publishing, LLC
Serving up politics with a punch, Scott Publishing LLC delivers a smart, colorful and stylish publication that is focused exclusively on Michigan politics. While still very much a startup, Dome magazine is contributing a business model that takes advantage of the Internet to expand traditional magazine publishing. It is a traditional monthly magazine in approach, but takes advantage of technology to offer an even richer reader experience. Editor and Publisher T. Scott says the best part about doing business in Michigan is “being involved with an abundance of smart, talented and energetic people who are devoted to their work and to making Michigan a better place.”
Service Express, Inc.
Service Express began in 1986 as a division of a computer hardware reseller in Grand Rapids. “As our technicians in the field were installing hardware onsite, customers were requesting that we also service the equipment we were installing. An ambitious business plan was created and Service Express engineers began its history of delivering exceptional service,” says Ron Alvesteffer, president. In 1993, Service Express was incorporated and has grown on average 20 percent annually in the past 10 years. Throughout the company’s growth, its has kept its commitment to excellent customer service and maintained a 98 percent customer retention rate.
Sports & Entertainment
What began as a solo performance career blossomed into Hi-Falutin Music when Alexander Zonjic’s popularity and knowledge of the music industry grew. His desire to see all things musical function on a higher level led to his constant sharing of music industry knowledge. That led to Zonjic being asked to be artistic drector for many of this area’s premier jazz events. His influence has spread to festivals in Canada and Ohio. Hi-Falutin Music brings world-class artists to the area to perform, in addition to promoting local artists and employing area musicians and technical help. “We are part of keeping the arts alive in this faltering economy,” says Zonjic.
Joe Dumars’ Fieldhouse
It is not always easy to make the average player feel like a pro, but that is what the founders of Joe Dumars Fieldhouse had in mind when they created their business. Of course, the facilities offers basketball, but volleyball, roller hockey, event venues and casual food restaurants are also part of the mix. President and CEO Brian D. Siegel credits the organization’s success to an “ability to continually reinvent ourselves to meet the changing needs of our loyal patrons.”
Michigan International Speedway
Race fans from Detroit, Chicago, Indianapolis, Cleveland and Canada all swarm to Michigan International Speedway (MIS) in Brooklyn to check out NASCAR racing. For racing fans, MIS is a not-to-miss stop on the NASCAR tour. But for Michigan, the Speedway offers work for 50 full time employees and a boost to the local economy. Even with the economic downturn MIS has advanced the facility and made improvements for the comfort of its fans, based on their feedback. MIS management says Michigan has the most loyal race fans in the country.
Motor City Bowl
In 1997, the Detroit area was a prime prospective location for a college football bowl game. Everything came together for the Motor City Bowl with the Big Ten and Mid-American conferences participating and the combined support of the auto industry as primary partners. The Detroit region and the state of Michigan have a passion for sports, both college and professional. The event is responsible for an average economic impact of approximately $14 million a year. Because of this event, more than 1,000 people are employed for up to three days during the holidays.
Palace Sports & Entertainment
Tom Wilson, president and CEO of Palace Sports & Entertainment, says not only does their success depend upon the entertainment that they provide, but also on the surrounding business community. “As much as we strive to provide a wide variety of the best live entertainment and sports events, and present them in the best venues, we also focus much of our attention on the business community. The support of area businesses has allowed us our success,” he says. The philosophy throughout the organization is to give guests the best experience possible, from the minute they enter the parking lots until they leave. “We never take them for granted,” Wilson adds.
S3 Entertainment Group
The founders of S3 Entertainment Group (S3EG) must have glimpsed Michigan’s future when they created the company in 2005. S3EG is a direct provider of the infrastructure necessary for successful film production in Michigan, including the recently released “Gran Torino,” a Clint Eastwood film. The company helps filmmakers with everything from production services, equipment rental, tax incentive information, funding and processing, location services, music licensing, travel, catering and more. Managing Partner Jeffrey Spilman says, “I am thrilled to play a role in supporting and growing Michigan’s film industry and letting the world know what Michigan has to offer.”
The Fillmore Detroit is located in Detroit’s historical Theater District. Formerly known as the State Theatre, the venue’s history is rich, dating back to the early 1920s. The Fillmore was originally a movie house, hosting a variety of events. Today the venue is part of the Live Nation network, the largest producer of live concerts in the world, annually producing over 16,000 concerts for 1,500 artists in 57 countries. These changes have made the venue stand out. “Our entire staff takes pride in our events and always strives to do the best job we can do for our clients and guests,” says General Manager Ben Doughty.
Allison Personnel Service, Inc.
Tricia Millstead, president of Allison Personnel Service, Inc., credits Michigan’s adaptability as the reason for hers and others’ success. “Michigan is home to some very talented people. The resourcefulness and strategic thinking of our insurance agency clients is impressive. We continue to see innovation and efficiencies being put into place as our client companies rapidly adapt to the current market conditions,” she says. Her company provides staffing services for the insurance industry. The business was started in 1959 in response to a need for recruiters who understood the industry, knew how to qualify candidates and had strong connections within the industry.
“When CareTech Solutions was formed, the idea that hospitals and health systems could leverage technology to boost productivity and improve patient care was fairly new,” says President and CEO Jim Giordano. The Troy-based company serves hospitals and health systems with information technology products and services - everything from IT infrastructure management such as data centers, network and help desk services to Web-based solutions including e-health strategies, content management and document imaging. CareTech Solutions expects continued growth and is ready to provide hospitals and health systems with the products, services and information they need to embrace healthcare IT investment as a priority - especially given the challenged economy.
Located in Auburn Hills, Employees Only is a human resources consulting and benefits management firm that provides companies with cost-effective solutions for non-core business functions such as payroll, insurance, benefits administration, human resources and workers’ compensation. “Michigan is a great place to do business even in this economy, because there is a very strong work ethic and pride of business owners. While the national press counts us out, we have found that business owners are successful because they have a passion about their products and services,” says Mario Apruzzese, CEO and head visionary.
EmploymentGroup is a recognized leader in the staffing industry for its innovative approach to staffing, its customer-centric philosophy and ability to provide “measurably better employees” to its clients. The company was founded in 1958 when temporary staffing was still in its infancy. EmploymentGroup introduced the concept to area businesses and soon grew to become a recognized leader in the regional staffing industry. Mark Lancaster, CEO says, “Doing business in Michigan comes down to the people and their values.”
Lumen Legal manages contract legal professionals to meet defined cost goals for complete document processing projects required by corporate counsel or law firms. The company was founded in 1993 by David Galbenski, who saw the opportunity to create a business that would use contract attorneys to address the need to contain the costs of document review during corporate litigation and business initiatives. “Our value proposition is simple: we bring best practices to the task, with staffing selections accomplished using our proprietary database of several hundred thousand attorneys and paralegals. We routinely deliver savings in the hundreds of thousands of dollars per project,” he says.
Staff Resources, Inc.
Staff Resources Inc. began in 1994 as a provider of primarily engineering and engineering support staff to a few automotive related clients. The company’s reputation for providing quality personnel and exceptional service enabled its to grow and diversify its client base in several different markets. Today the company provides contract, contract-to-direct and direct hire recruiting services to a diversified client base. Mark Yanalunas, company president, gives credit to its efforts at building solid relationships with clients for their success. “We have a vast internal and external network created from long term relationships which enables us to respond to our customers’ needs,” he says.
Adaptive Materials, Inc.
Adaptive Materials is a company that’s leading Michigan’s emerging green collar economy. The company’s fuel cell systems are powered by lightweight and inexpensive propane which are used to power key technologies for the U.S. military as well as commercial opportunities like boating, RVs and medical devices. “With a solid track record of growth, Adaptive Materials is a true Michigan success story,” says Michelle Crumm, chief business officer. “By generating jobs and opportunities in Michigan’s emerging alternative energy industry, we are an example of how the state can grow businesses that retain workers and leverage its automotive past to propel its high tech future.”
ANXeBusiness Corp. is a technology company focused on providing products that enable secure collaboration between its customers and their business partners. Despite the tough economic conditions facing the state, ANX continues to invest in its business and employees and is a growing company in terms of revenue and employment. Michigan’s proximity to the universities provides the company with a great talent pool. “We strive to provide our employees with a great working environment which allows for upward growth and challenging, yet rewarding professional opportunities, and is reflected in our employee retention rate,” says Rich Stanbaugh, president and CEO.
Cybernet Systems Corporation
Cybernet has been committed since its inception to successfully developing technology and bringing its research to market. “Twenty years ago when we started this company from my kitchen table, we were focused on promoting the ability of ingenuity and technical application to amplify what humans can do. It is remarkable to be able to clearly tie Cybernet’s significant contributions to the health, productivity and security of America and the world,” says Heidi Jacobus, chairman and CEO. Cybernet Systems Corporation is an American research and development company that engineers technological solutions to some of the world’s leading defense and medical challenges.
EBIZ Technology, LLC
Wixom-based EBIZ strives to implement systems that help businesses become more successful in the delivery of products and services. By increasing customer service and satisfaction levels, helping businesses remain cost-competitive by identifying and reducing waste, and enabling employees to become more productive, EBIZ can empower a company to become the preferred supplier for customers. Its business philosophy entails: correct ineffective processes and communications with accurate tracking mechanisms to identify key areas for improvement; provide documentation to customers to promote customer intimacy; and implement systems that quickly and effectively provide support for these core fundamentals.
Grand River, LLC
Ann Arbor-based Grand River Interactive, a web and e-commerce design and development firm, was founded in 2007 to offer a mid-market option to design and develop e-commerce solutions for retailers and manufacturers. Partner Scott Robertson credits his employees for the company’s success. “We have great, hard working, family-oriented people. They have a dedication to service and providing expertise that yields results for our clients.”
Open System Technologies, Inc.
Open Systems Technologies, Inc. (OST), an IT consulting services firm serving the health care, finance and manufacturing industries, is expanding globally while remaining true to its local roots. “We take pride in the fact that we are rooted in Michigan’s strong work ethic and values. OST has decided not to participate in the recession; instead we will succeed through innovative ideas, determination and superior effort,” says company president Dan Behm. The Grand Rapids-based business was started in 1997 and now has offices in Minnesota and Ohio.
Osiris Innovations Group, LLC
“Most large companies don’t have a big-picture perspective on where they buy their indirect goods, or a business case to support their spending decisions,” says David Saroli, CEO of Osiris Innovations Group. Osiris has developed technology that leverages existing technology investments and fills the gap between the buyer and supplier. Delivered through a Web-based, on-demand environment, Osiris’ applications are specifically designed to reduce complexity, share data efficiently and allow collaboration throughout the supply chain. “We have made it our mission to help companies streamline their indirect spending and make supply chain management a more transparent and efficient process for both suppliers and buying organizations,” he says.
Plex Systems, Inc.
Born out of the desire to help improve efficiency in the manufacturing process, Enterprise Resource Planning software was developed. The success of the product allowed the project to be spun off as an independent company which today is Plex Systems, Inc. Mark Symonds, president and CEO is proud of his company’s humble beginnings. “From our origins as an IT solution at a single Michigan automotive manufacturer, to a global provider of innovative and leading-edge manufacturer technology to aerospace, medical equipment, food and beverage industries, everyone is aligned in creating a great product.”
RTT USA, Inc.
RTT USA, Inc. is a leading provider of real time 3D visualization software and services for product design and marketing. RTT’s software allows clients to visualize products with precision and accuracy, using only engineering data. The company helps designers experience concepts interactively and allows marketing and sales teams to create materials for Web, print and TV before the actual product is available. RTT’s parent company expanded to Michigan to be closer to the automotive client base. In less than three years, COO Peter Stevenson has grown the company in Michigan from a one-man operation to its current employee count of 27.
Rutherford & Associates
Keeping track of beer and wine became a lot easier when Mike Rutherford developed eoStar, Rutherford & Associates’ flagship product, a next-generation route accounting and management software for food and beverage distributors. The software is designed to integrate sales, delivery, warehouse and office operations automatically through wireless technology. The software manages more than $1.5 billion in consumer packaged goods, predominately beer and wine. “Empowering business owners by making technology available, usable and relevant, is our core purpose,” says Mike Rutherford. “Technology should make the workplace as efficient as possible.”
Springthrough’s core business is integrating technology solutions with business. A certified Microsoft Gold Partner, Springthrough specializes in Web site development, Microsoft dynamics consulting, and custom software development. Michael Williams founded Springthrough in Grand Rapids in 2000, with the mission of delivering and supporting practical, cost-effective IT services and solutions that would allow businesses to focus on their core objectives. “West Michigan is filled with diverse mix of businesses that make the potential for creative technology solutions endless,” says Williams.
Unlike other software development consultants that either build a product or conduct training, SRT Solutions transfers its expert knowledge to the software development teams of its clients. This unique approach means that SRT Solutions is able to deliver long term value to each client. Dianne Marsh and Bill Wagner created SRT Solutions in 2000 to fill a void in the market. “SRT Solutions has enjoyed consistent growth since its inception. Its solid foundation of technical expertise, combined with an enthusiastic client base will drive SRT Solutions forward,” says Dianne Marsh, president and co-founder.
Farmington Hills-based ZenaComp Inc. took quick advantage of an emerging market. “When ZenaComp was started in 1989, computers, software and small business networks were rapidly changing. Businesses needed local expertise to understand and help them take advantage of these new technologies for their own businesses,” says Mark Lichtman, president of ZenaComp Inc. The company provides computer network management and custom database development. The company has found many local businesses that are optimistic and continue to invest in their technology infrastructure, which provides a constant flow of opportunity for ZenaComp.