By Lynne R. Zacharias
Feb. 18, 2010
In an economy like this, it is important to remember that there are businesses that are surviving, thriving and growing in the state of Michigan. Corp! magazine set out to honor those companies that are doing just that. Selected by our readers, they are the annual Best of Michigan Business honorees, and we applaud them.
Gordon Advisors, P.C.
Hands-on management is a trademark of this successful company, which currently celebrating 55 years of service to the community. Gordon Advisors, P.C. provides efficient, cost-effective services by selecting team members with appropriate skills and experience to handle a client’s needs. The firm uses a team approach to provide clients with the tools they need to really add value to the businesses they own and manage. Gordon Advisors, P.C. is a full-service certified public accounting and business consulting firm specializing in personal and business income tax, accounting, auditing, strategic planning, business valuations, litigation support, fraud, forensic and risk services, as well as business consulting.
Silberstein Ungar, PLLC
This accounting firm’s dedication to superior client service at fair and reasonable fees has resulted in rapid growth. The staff has a commitment to providing high quality professional services in a timely manner, which is the reason that clients and professional advisors regularly refer friends, customers and associates to the firm. Having a membership in the MSI Global Alliance of Independent Legal and Accounting Firms helps them to service clients no matter where they are located or expand.
Plante & Moran
Size matters when it comes to Plante & Moran. In its more than 85 years in Detroit, the firm has grown and served numerous middle market, owner-operated businesses. It’s among the nation’s largest certified public accounting and business advisory firms, providing clients with tax, audit, risk management, financial, technology, business consulting and wealth management services. Twelve offices and 1,125 staff throughout Michigan, make it the largest certified public accounting and business advisory firm in the state. “Plante & Moran genuinely cares about Michigan and we’re proud to be part of a region that exemplifies entrepreneurship and a strong work ethic,” says Gordon Krater, managing partner. Plante & Moran is committed to helping the region thrive by supporting and partnering with many of the organizations that are creating jobs and opportunities for the state. In addition, staff is committed to serving the communities where they live, and have donated thousands of hours annually to help make Michigan a better place to live and work.
Architectural & Construction
Integrated Architecture (IA) is a full-service professional corporation offering expertise in all aspects of architecture, engineering, planning and interior design. Designs evolve from their employees’ skill at understanding the client’s need and creating an appropriate solution. IA is firmly committed to the belief that each project must grow out of a design solution that can ultimately deliver an exceptional experience to current and future users. The firm employs many strategies to create exciting, attractive and enticing experiences, always striving to maintain a highly efficient process to insure a cost-effective project.
J.S. Vig Construction Company
Founded in 1965, this company has always prioritized responsive, professional, customer-focused service, while creating and maintaining a safe, productive and enjoyable workplace for employees and professional partners. After decades of steady growth, J.S. Vig has emerged as a trusted and reliable construction firm with a strong track record of more than 1,500 successfully completed projects. A combination of professional flexibility, high quality service and outstanding work product has helped J.S. Vig establish not only a trusted reputation, but also a network of strong and enduring professional relationships throughout the region. J.S. Vig offers a comprehensive suite of professional services that includes project feasibility, site selection, zoning, planning approvals and permitting, design/build, construction management, cost estimation/budgeting, project scheduling and cost segregation. The firm ensures that accountability, responsibility and clear, consistent communication are top priorities. This emphasis on teamwork, focus on service over volume and a commitment to ensuring that all parties look at each project from an ownership perspective has helped J.S. Vig to establish a number of long-term client relationships.
Maher Construction has 18 years of experience that includes a team of highly qualified professionals, who can assurethat anyone’s build or remodel project will be a good experience. Maher’s strong reputation has resulted in repeat business from clients. According to Maher’s Web site, “Our dedication to producing a quality product has been built on a foundation of superior resources and our commitment to client satisfaction.”
rizzolo brown + novak
This architecture firm is dedicated to providing the best possible design with the most cost effective solutions. Staff provides sustainable architecture including a mix of used, redevelopment, housing and senior housing and arts organizations. The firm helps clients invest their money wisely rather than simply spend it. Long term costs and savings as well as stylish and creative solutions to project needs set themapart from peers.
Banks & Credit Unions
Fifth Third Bank
Based on its rich history of performance and customer service, this bank has received numerous accolades for the way it operates. Since its beginning, Fifth Third has provided superior customer service and has followed sound banking principles.
Genisys Credit Union
In these tough economic times, Genisys Credit Union has maintained a five-star Bauer Financial rating, a member/owner satisfaction rating of 97 percent. “The Genisys team is highly engaged. It is through their hard work, their commitment to excellence, and their commitment to community that makes Genisys successful,” says Jackie Buchanan, president and CEO. Founded in 1954, Genisys Credit Union is a financial institution that provides a full range of financial services to meet members’ needs. Last year, Genisys provided the community with over 200 community events representing 3,000 volunteer hours.
Michigan First Credit Union
As a full service, high-tech, financial institution its mission is to be the only financial institution members will ever need. MFCU works to provide the highest level of member services and access to industry leading technology and products. Despite the economic hardship Michigan has been facing, Michigan First has managed to balance a strong growth plan with one of the highest employment thresholds in the area. As the company continues to grow and welcome new employees, it consistently strives to keep in mind the best interest of not only the credit union members, but also the needs of its team members and the community. Employees of Michigan First experience a working environment that encourages a healthy work-life balance, higher education and continuous learning, growth, diversity and community involvement. The staff enjoys the luxuries of having full health care coverage, flexible schedules, on-site fitness center, recreation room, cafeteria and quiet room in addition to paid vacation and sick time.
OUR Credit Union
Established in 1959, OUR Credit Union is a full service financial institution, offering products ranging from savings and investments to mortgages and business accounts. Being a not-for-profit financial institution, the credit union’s management and volunteer board of directors has a primary focus: provide member-owners with great products, services and financial resources to help supply a better way of life for consumers. The institution has experienced approximately a 10 percent growth in loans and continues to help members with borrowing needs. OUR Credit Union focuses on providing friendly, face-to-face personalized service in addition to employing the latest high technology programs, such as mobile banking applications. Services are provided to consumers who live, work, attend school or worship in Oakland and Macomb counties. “OUR Credit Union is interested in a long-term relationship with members. We are not interested in making a lot of money off of consumers with loans and products that they can’t afford and don’t need. The direct opposite of how we operate is what has caused so many worldwide problems. There is no substitute for a conservative management,” says CEO Thomas Zamberlan.
United Bank & Trust
Ann Arbor and Tecumseh
Knowing the community and the customer is essential to how this bank does business. Employees still like to greet each person by name and with a smile. United Bank & Trust is a community bank that began in 1860. It is an independent, Michigan-based community bank serving Lenawee and Washtenaw counties, offering a wide range of financial services, the latest technology and a team of experts who believe in what they do. Services include diversified and complementary financial services, which consist of banking, mortgage, small business and wealth management services. “We are more than financial advisors - we become advocates in actively helping you create success and attain your goals. We offer the same kinds of banking products as the big banks, from wealth management to mortgage. But the best part is, when you bank with us, your money stays right here - it doesn’t go to some corporate headquarters in New York or Texas,” says Bob Chapman, chairman and CEO.
As a world class supplier of prototype and low volume metal stampings, trim moldings, specialty items, sub-assemblies and aftermarket sheet metal, eXperi-Metal is committed to providing quality products on time. The company has a vision and goal of superior customer satisfaction and continuous improvement throughout the industry.
Halpin Design has shown it can survive and adapt to the continuous changing business climate. The firm continues to innovate and develop the best CAD data for new products in the industry. “We have had to reach deep into the creativity pockets to come up with a way to survive in this uncertain economic environment. The core team at Halpin Design has shown an amazing commitment and personal sacrifice to business success. The environment and atmosphere in our office is the best in the industry and we are looking forward to the next decade of challenges,” says Sean P. Halpin. The company’s primary product is designing automotive interiors and exteriors. Traditionally, the firm has supported automotive design for the Big Three automakers and Tier One suppliers. It specializes in bringing a manufacturing perspective into the styling environment and being “the eyes and ears for the manufacturing team far before the manufacturing evaluates the design. We prompt manufacturing engineering questions earlier in the development process than any of our competitors. The studio designers appreciate the input and it saves them time and money on re-designing for manufacturing,” says Halpin.
Link Engineering Company
Link Engineering is dedicated to the design and manufacture of precision test equipment and is a provider of comprehensive testing services for a wide variety of vehicle components. Link systems are recognized as an industry standard for many test applications. Link personnel actively participate in many national and international working groups to establish test methodologies on topics including brakes, transmissions and friction materials. Link works closely with customers on a global scale to apply innovative mechanical, electrical and software engineering solutions for emerging industry needs. Through its heavy involvement in industry-led initiatives, Link is able to understand customers’ needs in great depth. With this consistent exposure, along with over 70 years of precision test equipment design and manufacturing experience, Link is able to continually meet its end goal of providing the best test solutions for its customers, and thus allowing its customers to excel in each of their given fields of expertise.
From the beginning, Amistee has done one thing and one thing only: premium and professional air duct cleaning. They constantly strive to be the absolute best and have the most qualified technicians in the industry. Incorporated in 2005, Amistee Air Duct Cleaning has now served thousands of residential and commercial customers in Michigan.
Art Van Furniture
Art Van Furniture is one of the best known furniture retailers in Michigan. Celebrating its 50th year in business, Art Van Furniture donated $1 million to 50 charities throughout the state of Michigan as a way to give back to the communities they serve as well as challenge others to support the many organizations who help make a difference to the people of Michigan.
Communications Professionals, Inc.
Founded in 1992, Communications Professionals is a leading provider of comprehensive technology solutions. With more than 17 years of experience, it offers technology users of all sizes access to more than 750,000 products, includingperipherals, accessories and systems, high-end, complex data center solutions,network design and administration and remote monitoring and management services. The firm can support any technology need, from basic product fulfillment to combining product sales with comprehensive technology services and support.
EEI Global, Inc.
Being committed to employees, customers and the community has been essential to this event marketing firm’s success. “We believe in investing in strong and long-lasting relationships with our local and state communities and look forward to continued success,” says Derek Gentile, president and CEO. The firm uses the power of engagement to connect customers with brands worldwide and create live and virtual experiences through comprehensive strategies and precise implementation to deliver event marketing solutions for customers.
First Preferred Mortgage Company
A belief in personalized service is what has differentiated First Preferred from its competitors during this economic downturn. First Preferred Mortgage Company has been a family owned and operated company serving the Midwest for 20 years. It is a rapidly expanding, full-service residential mortgage bank which provides home loan and refinancing mortgage services while offering personalized customer service. Today, the company employs 145 individuals and closed $1 billion in loans in 2009. The growth and evolution of First Preferred Mortgage Company has been a strategic and steady process. Customers know they will not be placed into an automated system or passed off to another loan officer. The company culture is focused on teamwork and fostering overall professional growth and loyal employees who impact the company’s success daily. First Preferred believes the key to its success has been its outstanding employees. “Our employees are passionate and committed individuals who make it their mission to provide outstanding customer service daily,” says CEO Mark Walker. “We also have a strong commitment to give back to our local communities. We are closely tied to a variety of charities and encourage our employees to engage in activities that ultimately give us a better environment to live, work and grow our business.”
Kaufman Children’s Center for Speech, Language, Sensory-Motor and Social Connections, Inc.
Offering help to children in need has given this business the recipe for success. Realizing that “one therapy approach doesn’t fit all,” the KCC creates an individualized treatment program for each child. The Center houses a staff of talented speech language pathologists, occupational therapists and behavior analysts who have extensive training in many specialized and innovative therapeutic methods. The staff provides children with individual and group speech, language, occupational and sensory integration therapy, as well as specialized social skills and applied verbal behavior programs. The Center offers a warm, playful, family-friendly environment, complete with private observation rooms that permit parents to watch each session, as they follow along with their child’s progress. “Success in a business like ours, where the outcome of our work affects a child’s quality of life, has everything to do with integrity. Though I think most consumers are savvy enough to discriminate between businesses who build relationships based in honesty, respect and quality and those who do not. If those characteristics are at the forefront of any business, clientele will naturally follow,” says Nancy Kaufman, owner/director.
Milliken Millwork, Inc.
Since 1953, Milliken Millwork, Inc. has supplied Midwest home centers and building supply dealers with windows, doors and related millwork products. Family founders instilled a work ethic and customer oriented business plan that continues today. Today, the third generation family members are actively involved. Through their leadership, Milliken employees are customer focused, responsive, reliable and informed.
Morse Moving & Storage, Inc.
Family is the foundation of Morse Moving & Storage, established in 1954. The company provides residential and commercial relocation services for domestic and international moves. Of the founders-11 children and 42 grandchildren-26 work full-time in the business today, ensuring the finest relocation possible in the industry. Morse Moving has developed a team of drivers with an average of 16 years experience in moving families and corporations. The company employs experienced “certified moving consultants” and “certified relocation professionals”.
Simmons & Clark Jewelers
For three generations, this family business has continued to shine, since its opening in 1925. Through boom times and bad, this jeweler succeeds by offering great values, the latest styles and superior service all while giving back to the community through participation in Detroit committees, charitable organizations and events.
Stardock is a PC software company specializing in Windows experience software and PC games. It is one of the world’s leading developers of software that enhances the look, feel, and function of Microsoft Windows.
The Bittinger Team – RE/MAX
Striving to offer the best results, the Bittinger Team’s approach to real estate means that every aspect of a customer’s sale is conducted thoroughly and systematically. Specialists perform more than 400 separate tasks to make sure that a home sells for top dollar and goes all the way to closing.
Michigan’s foremost manufacturer and installer of vinyl replacement windows, Wallside Windows has been in business for more than 60 years. The company is proud that half of all new Wallside customers are referrals from satisfied customers. It serves 25,000 residences a year and each window is made in Michigan.
Dykema Gossett PLLC
Since its founding in Detroit more than a century ago, Dykema has grown with Michigan. The firm employs 450 lawyers and professionals in 10 offices nationwide. With a strong Michigan-based value and heritage Dykema has advised many of the state’s top businesses (including General Motors, Ford and Chrysler), played major roles in the evolution of Michigan law and public policy and served as leaders in the state’s professional and charitable service organizations. Dykema is a strategic partner and the firm choice for retailers, financial corporations, banks, insurers, manufacturers, professional service organizations, telecommunication firms, utilities, transportation companies, contractors and real estate concerns, as well as small businesses, partnerships and individuals. At the core are attorneys and other professionals who are nationally recognized leaders in their areas of practice, giving the firm a full-service capability that delivers results for sophisticated purchasers of legal services.
Kienbaum Opperwall Hardy & Pelton, P.L.C.
This boutique firm specializes in workplace law and represents management in all aspects of labor and employment law representing clients in Michigan and throughout the country. The firm’s attorneys are specialists who provide legal services very efficiently. Eric Pelton, managing partner, says, “As labor and employment law specialists, we are acutely aware of the unprecedented economic challenges faced by all Michigan employers. We are proud to work alongside those employers as they continue to meet these challenges head on with ingenuity, efficiency and dedication.”
Michael Morse, P.C.
In spite of these tough economic times where many law firms have had to downsize, Michael Morse, P.C. has grown at an astonishing rate. This law firm represents victims of auto, truck, motorcycle and pedestrian accidents and specializes in first and third party Michigan No Fault cases. The number of employees has grown from five in 2004 to 45 today. In 2009, the firm obtained more than $30 million in settlements for clients. The firm utilizes progressive techniques in their Auto Accident Claim Center, which was launched in 2005 as Michigan’s first walk-in auto claim center for free legal advice without the necessity of making an appointment. Any victim of an auto, motorcycle, truck or pedestrian accident can simply walk in and have a free and complete consultation with an attorney. Michael Morse says, “The hard work, dedication and loyalty of my employees is what has made my firm the fastest growing auto no fault firm in Michigan. Each of them serves as a shining example of what hiring only the best can do to achieve this kind of success.” Each employee has been tested by an outside expert to ensure the right intelligence, skills and drive to further the firm’s success. Every employee, from file clerks to senior litigation attorneys, is recognized for their contributions and hard work with an incentive plan to reward them when goals are achieved.
Neuman Anderson, P.C.
Having a boutique payment structure allows this law firm to keep costs down and offer alternative fee arrangements, including contingent fees, flat fees and hybrid hourly/contingency fee arrangements. The firm’s focus is on complex commercial litigation, representing small and mid-sized businesses, and their owners, in a wide variety of legal issues, including shareholder oppression/breach of fiduciary duty claims, breach of contract claims, legal and accounting malpractice cases, construction and real estate issues, employment litigation and a wide variety of business torts issues. The firm offers clients top-level legal representation in complex business disputes at a very competitively priced fee structure. At the same time, the staff delivers a level of service expected from a big firm. A majority of clients are referrals from big firms who either have a conflict or can’t offer a fee structure that the client can commit to.
Nichols, Sacks, Slank, Sendelbach & Buiteweg, P.C.
Approximately half of this law firm’s new clients come from referrals from current and former clients. A combination of modern management, advanced technology and current substantive law leads to comprehensive, client driven resolutions for clients that address legal, social, emotional and financial needs. The firm provides comprehensive family law, mediation and collaborative practice services to families as they restructure during divorce, relocation, separation or other crises. The staff provides cutting edge advanced negotiation skills and dispute resolution processes to empower clients to reach the best resolution for their family, whenever possible. The firm also assists senior citizens and their families develop dignified resolutions through Elder Law Mediation. “We are honored to have been selected as a Best Michigan Business and look forward to providing quality, affordable and client-centered family law services to Michigan,” says Monika Holzer Sacks.
Olsman Mueller Wallace & MacKenzie
Since 1969, Olsman, Mueller, Wallace & MacKenzie has been dedicated to vindicating the rights of injured persons. The firm’s partners have a combined 70 years of legal experience. The practice has been built through word-of-mouth by clients and the trusted referrals from other attorneys. The staff is proud of their reputation and is committed to client service.
Warner Norcross & Judd LLP
From antitrust law to zoning codes, this firm has worked on a wide range of legal issues. Founded during the Great Depression, Warner Norcross & Judd LLP initially focused on corporate re-organization and bankruptcy law. But as clients’ needs evolved, so did the firm. Its work now includes mergers and acquisitions, intellectual property, health law, employee benefits, labor and employment, environmental and litigation. The firm welcomes alternative fee structures that allow clients to control their legal costs through retainers, fixed fees and payments based on value and results.
Wolfson Bolton PLLC
Specializing in corporate bankruptcy, creditors’ rights, and commercial litigation, this small but tenacious law firm provides exceptional service at a reasonable cost. “In the current economic environment, we are finding that many companies are looking for a smaller, sophisticated, more economical alternative to the large law firm model, and that is what our firm offers. We have a national practice. We go head-to-head with the country’s largest law firms on a daily basis and consistently deliver outstanding results,” says Scott A. Wolfson. Clients of this firm range from Fortune 100 companies to closely-held businesses.
For four generations of Carlson family ownership, and almost 100 years of dedicated service worldwide, Acme Manufacturing Company has maintained a singular focus: to develop cost-effective systems and solutions to meet complex finishing needs. An exporter of machinery since 1950, Acme strives to maximize their customer’s productivity and quality at the lowest possible cost, which benefits the customers. Continuous improvement of product and services increases customers’ profits and ensures Acme’s long-term success.
Adaptive Materials, Inc.
Adaptive Materials has a unique combination of vision and reality. While others speak of what could be, the staff is busy designing and manufacturing. Their staff understands that innovation is nothing if it cannot solve their customer’s challenge. Team members are driven to deliver in an environment that embraces empowerment, innovation and growth with a positive, passionate and urgent zeal.
Howard Finishing, LLC
The tradition of Howard Finishing, LLC began in 1947. Since that time, the company has developed into one of the 10 largest metal finishing companies in the United States. The company is a leader of providing zinc, zinc/nickel, cathodic electrocoat and phosphate finishes. By offering a wide variety of process specifications, along with the capacity to run small and large volumes simultaneously, it is able to better meet the varying needs of customers. It remains committed to continuing the traditions of their past and meeting the new challenges of the future, while maintaining a leading role in automotive finishes.
A recognized leader for breakfast foods and more, Kellogg recently completed a $40 million expansion of the W.K. Kellogg Institute for Food and Nutrition Research, the epicenter for Kellogg’s global product development, quality, research and innovation.
This state-of-the-art facility plays a key role in the company’s commitment to be the food company of choice. At the same time, Kellogg strives to be the employer of choice in the communities in which it operates by fostering a safe, inclusive, values-driven workplace that develops and rewards employees for ethical behavior and sustainable results. Kellogg is a global company committed to providing high-quality foods that meet a diverse range of consumer needs and tastes. The company is the world’s leading producer of cereal and a leading producer of convenience foods, including cookies, crackers, toaster pastries, cereal bars, fruit-flavored snacks, frozen waffles and veggie foods. Founded in Battle Creek, Michigan in 1906, it has been headquartered in the state for more than a century.
With a laser-like focus, this company develops and manufactures laser systems and components that simplify the use of lasers in commercial, military, medical and research applications. These “smart laser tools” are cost effective, compact, reliable and easy to use. The employees are forward thinkers that are encouraged to create outside the boundaries of convention. The staff is working toward true innovations that span product and process improvement, provide tools for warfare which protect the country, and assist physicians in bringing lifesaving surgical techniques to patients in the operating suite. The company is poised for growth and ready to address the new technology economy emerging in Michigan.
Since 1989, AccuMed has earned the trust, confidence and business of over 100 municipal based EMS and fire services. The firm maintains a single focus of exclusively providing full service EMS claims management and emergency response billing solutions to municipal based providers. As a result, employees devote 100 percent of all available resources to support valued clients. This ensures AccuMed clients gain access to the most comprehensive, feature-rich, full service recovery solutions available in the marketplace.
The vision of this company is to be the leading network of value added graphic communications providers with a primary focus on small to medium size businesses. Allegra Network supports five brands under its print division - Allegra Print & Imaging, American Speedy Printing, Insty-Prints, Speedy Printing and Zippy Print - and the Signs Now brand under its sign division.
In an economy like this, businesses need all the help they can get. Arzika has found a way to make a profit providing that much needed help. Arzika is a leading experiential marketing firm distinguished by excellence and innovation. Staff works to equip clients - chief officers, executives and business leaders - with the strategic insight and experiential marketing implementation critical to accelerating business growth. Employees provide research and analysis, marketing services and communications, imaginative engagement, event management and executive forums helping clients generate leads, build a strong brand and connect with customers. The company’s main focus is to help clients enrich themselves and grow their company by developing content rich programs, such as executive forums, where they can gather for peer-to-peer idea sharing, inspirational keynote presentations and networking. The firm encourages regional associations, non-profits and consortiums to participate in all of the executive programs. Each event has a nonprofit component attached, which includes mentoring, fundraising and volunteering. One key to their success is their team of hard working, innovative, young, passionate and driven individuals.
Asterand is the leading global supplier of high quality, well characterized human tissue samples and human tissue and cell based research services to pharmaceutical, biotech and academic institutions worldwide. Its mission is to provide human tissues and services to accelerate the identification and validation of drug targets and enhance the selection of drug candidates with an increased likelihood of clinical success. In 2006, Asterand, merged with UK-based human tissue drug discovery company, Pharmagene plc, to form Asterand. The combined entity is positioned to provide human tissue and services to pharmaceutical researchers to help advance drug discovery and development programs. Today, Asterand is renowned for its high quality human biospecimens in the pharmaceutical industry and provides its services to a majority of the top 30 biopharmaceutical companies worldwide.
Bellanina Day Spa and Institute
Bellanina Day Spa and Institute is a complete skin and body rejuvenation center. They offer a full line of natural and cutting-edge skin care products. Through diligent research and education it strives to remain on the cutting edge in the skin care and body rejuvenation field.
Berline is a full service marketing communications firm, executing results-driven multi-channel campaigns. The company was formed 26 years ago to provide high levels of service, attention and marketing partnerships to businesses in need of marketing and communications services.
Brogan & Partners
This marketing agency believes in making the client their partner. Brogan & Partners is a marketing agency specializing in health care and minority marketing offering a full range of services including branding, creative development, media planning and buying, non-traditional media, interactive, social media and public relations. “As a partner to our client, we are bottom line focused and also understand that we must continually bring innovative ideas to our clients. We believe in constant self evaluation and are not afraid of change. We are strong believers in the power of technology and constantly look for ways to use it to our client’s advantage,” says Marcie Brogan, CEO. The firm was incorporated in 1984 and employs a diverse group of professionals who are treated well, respected and challenged. The company gives back to the community by serving on boards, committees and providing pro bono services to organizations that serve the community.
CitrinGroup utilizes an efficient, process-oriented business model which has resulted in a high client satisfaction rate. Founded in 2003, this company specializes in portfolio management and advises clients on investment planning and wealth management. It has built three portfolio groups - conservative, moderate and aggressive - based on its unique optimization process. Rooted in statistical analysis and historical data, these investment groups allow the ability to achieve higher returns with lower risk than traditional investment platforms. The company also takes its responsibility to charitable endeavors very seriously and it is something that is at the forefront of their company culture. “We are extremely proud to be a thriving Michigan-based business and we are very proud to be named among the other prestigious businesses honored by Corp! magazine,” says CEO Jonathan Citrin.
Cygnus Systems, Inc.
Being empathetic to the customer’s business challenges keeps this firm in touch with what is important to them. Managing this process and the interaction with the team delivers the personalized attention that is often ignored. Cygnus Systems is a full-service IT support company that started 20 years ago assisting local area businesses with incidental response services. Over the years, Cygnus has focused on three main philosophies, helping to leverage IT to improve business, maintaining and integrating networks, as well as incidental support through a help desk. Cygnus has developed a full-service point of view toward technology for small to medium-sized businesses. Today, a company can call Cygnus for anything related to IT work including Web development, IP telephony, support services and even Internet and telecommunications services. Many companies do not have the financial capability to have a full-time IT staff in place, and Cygnus Systems has made it possible to accomplish their goals without having to take on the expense and responsibility traditionally required.
Design Incentives, Inc.
This company prides itself by providing a high level of service to customers. Design Incentives helps businesses build brands, reward and retain employees and customers, and achieve goals through the strategic use of name-brand merchandise and promotional products. Customers expect to improve productivity and reduce costs through Employee Wellness and Engagement programs, to increase sales and performance through incentive programs and consumer promotions and reinforce or build their brand name and identity with targeted merchandising aids and promotional products. Clients are assured that a certified expert in the incentive marketing world is structuring their promotion, campaign or program. Nearly 100 percent of the firm’s customers are based in Michigan. CEO Barb Hendrickson says, “If it was easy…everyone would be doing it. We sweat the small stuff; it’s all in the details and we are masters of the details.”
Douglas Electric is a second-generation electrical contractor based in metro Detroit and serving customers throughout the Midwest. From new construction, remodeling, to maintenance, it provides design-assist, project management, installation and repair. The employees, highly trained, licensed and certified, stay on top of technology and the latest developments.
Dynamic Advisory Solutions
Dynamic Advisory Solutions offers a team-based approach to providing a third party view of a business including timely and accurate financial information, usingtools to manage a business on an ongoing basis including budgets, company dashboards and employee scorecards. This gives a business an arsenal of experiences and skill sets for a low, fixed monthly fee.
The firm works with entrepreneurial leadership teams of small to mid-size organizations to help them implement EOS, The Entrepreneurial Operating System. EOS is a complete, all encompassing system for helping leaders run a better business and gain tremendous traction toward their vision. A strong focus has helped make this firm a success. “We are a team of people that live by our core values every minute of every day. We are focused on doing nothing but helping people get what they want from their businesses. We love what we do and are marching toward having 10,000 companies running on EOS,” says CEO Gino Wickman.
HYDRA Professionals LLC
HYDRA Professionals provides financial and turnaround management consulting services to rejuvenate mature businesses, to resuscitate ailing businesses and to fortify businesses under attack. “The Michigan economy is facing steep challenges and is in the midst of a significant transition during which many businesses are fighting for survival. HYDRA’s talented restructuring professionals are working hard to fix the difficult situations that our clients face, get their business back on track, and preserve jobs. We have unique skill sets that are in demand, and we’re excited to be in a position to make a positive difference,” says Bill Wildern, CEO. The professional staff employs diverse skills and expertise to obtain a thorough understanding of the difficulties clients are experiencing and the conditions impacting the immediate survival and/or longer-term viability of a business. The staff then works with the company to create and implement recovery plans managing the turnaround process and work with all stakeholders to develop and implement solutions in an efficient and cost effective manner. HYDRA is primarily focused on improving distressed organizations in the manufacturing sector and assisting creditors with exposure within this sector.
Having a love for what they do has made this business the driving force that it is. IMAGE ONE provides printer maintenance and equipment to businesses in Michigan and throughout the United States helping to decrease and control costs, improve productivity and simplify the printing environment. IMAGE ONE gives a portion of all profits to autism. “We love coming to work and our customers love what we do for them. We mix business with purpose and we’re not only growing but have maintained stability and sustainable growth even in a tough economic climate. We believe this business with a purpose philosophy affects all aspects and the decision to give back in a big way has resulted in customer loyalty, increased revenue, low turnover and strong business success,” agree owners Rob Dube and Joel Pearlman. They remain energized and progressive in their ideas and ideals while aligning the goals for company growth with a strong commitment to team, community and the cause of autism.
Providing big ideas and bigger results together with the fundamental belief that there is no such thing as business as usual is the mission of this company. IMPATTO is about straight talk, smart development and getting the job done. It believes every business has a heart and soul and that is what connects most with consumers. The firm creates brand experiences and presents them to the world in a unique and ownable way.
“The health and wellness segment has exploded in the last few years and continues to grow despite the economy. We believe this has translated flawlessly into the ideal franchise opportunity and gives the growing number of Michigan workers that are unemployed a great opportunity to put their skills to work,” says John Hoose, founder of LaVida Massage. Founded in 2007, LaVida Massage is a health and wellness massage center, providing massage, facial and cosmetic services that revitalize and reinvigorate clients’ emotional and physical health. The company is a franchise that was started in Michigan and continues to grow throughout Michigan and nationwide. “I am very dedicated to growing its Michigan base, which not only provides jobs and economic growth in the state, it addresses a growing need among consumers for affordable health and wellness services,” he said.
This online company has fought the recession head on. “We are a global company that is run virtually. We are an Internet company in a very tough industry (manufacturing) that made it through two dot com crashes and two recessions. We changed the way our industry does business back in 1999 by creating a better way for buyers and sellers to connect,” says CEO Stuart Carlin. MachineTools.com is serving customers from over 100 countries. With over 150,000 registered users, over 500,000 monthly visitors and over 75,000 machines, tooling and equipment listings, MachineTools.com is ranked as the number one online machinery and tools Web site in the world by Alexa.com, the industry standard for Web traffic ratings. In addition to connecting those who want to buy and sell machinery and tooling, users can post want ads, view upcoming auctions, events and expos, as well as read up-to-the-minute industry news. Additional features include a job board, access to publications, newsletters and manuals, as well as a comprehensive directory of companies which serve the industry.
Mango Languages is a leading provider of online language-learning services to libraries, government agencies, corporations and the general public. Designed by a team of linguists, teachers, software developers, human interface specialists, writers, voice talents and designers, the company’s award-winning language learning system has drawn acclaim from national and international reference groups, educational resources, Web organizations and travel guides. The flexibility and popularity of the online system has helped the company establish a foothold as the go-to language software resource for libraries and educational centers around the country. “From day one, we had a vision-to separate ourselves from the crowd by defining a unique niche and developing a product that is second-to-none. We are at a point now where we are confident we have built an infrastructure that will propel our growth into next year and well beyond. We will not rest on our laurels but continue to expand into new markets and develop innovative products that set new standards for the language learning industry,” says CEO Jason Teshuba.
Oneida Solutions Group
Establishing long-term relationships built on trust is essential for this company’s success. This trust is earned through proven competency in acting as custodians of the clients’ moves, the relocation services and continuous improvement in the service offerings through joint goal setting and accomplishment. Oneida Solutions Group has the mission of providing clients with a partnership model for services that emphasizes competitive differentiation for clients and performance integrity as demonstrated in total transparency of the financial and service delivery practices.
Being well versed in the business of making sure clients and prospects have an impressive online presence is a point of pride for this business. The firm delivers big agency work and big agency results-without the big agency price tag. Starting as a small, Web site design company, it grew into a larger, search engine marketing and a full-service digital marketing agency. According to the Web site, the firm is still getting bigger. “We’re a conglomerate of more than 40 skilled team members in a state-of-the-art facility working tirelessly. It takes project managers, team leaders, account managers, media coordinators, paid search specialists, SEO gurus, social media mavens, voice talent, design geniuses, crazy-smart programmers, delicately powerful PR masters, eloquent copy writers and a dog or three to get the digital marketing job done. And we’re still growing.”
Project Innovations, Inc.
Project Innovations is passionate about helping Michigan businesses and municipalities shift into a new Michigan economy. The company is involved in some of the most important initiatives for Michigan’s future. Initiatives such as creating a Blue Economy, establishing a State Bank and helping communities plan for the “New Normal.” The firm has created a powerful set of consulting practices to help individuals and organizations work on the toughest problems of our times.
Proud Mary Prosthetics
Using his skills in automotive design, founder Sean Halpin took his innovative design processes and entered the prosthetic market to create the highest quality post-mastectomy product to each individual served. Proud Mary has dedicated its research to help women lead fuller lives after breast surgery. The company is named after Halpin’s mother who passed away from cancer. According to the Web site, “After what his mom endured with her cancer, Sean wanted to make a difference for women going through the same pain. Sean knew his product would give women around the world an exciting choice for themselves.”
Schoolhouse Learning Communities, Inc.
Schools now have access to social networking dedicated to their needs because of the efforts of Schoolhouse Learning Communities. The company provides education services and staffing to public and private secondary schools in southeast Michigan. Most recently it launched a free social network and school fundraisers to schools and child care centers across the country. The product, called Mudpies and Butterflies, brings school communities together in a closed online social environment where parents, families and teachers can share conversations, blogs, videos, posts and pictures among themselves.
SchoolPictures.com is the newest division of a 31-year-old photography firm originally focused on special events. After photographing over 3 million images of students, as well as over 10,000 class panoramic group portraits, the company had the vision to help those very schools which had been patrons during those three decades. In 2005, the firm’s president, Skip Cerier realized that school finance reform issues were very real. He sought out the guidance of four retired principals to help him build a business with the mission to augment funding to those very schools districts that had been his clients for 30 years.
Spartan Motors is focused on building lasting relationships with customers by delivering premium, custom vehicles and services that inspire customer enthusiasm. This has driven long-term profitable growth and personal achievement for all stakeholders. Spartan Motors has the goal to become the most-desired brand and the lowest-total-cost producer of custom motorhome chassis, fire truck cabs and chassis, fire trucks, ambulances, specialty vehicles and other emergency-rescue vehicles. The firm is a leader in the design, engineering and manufacturing of custom chassis and vehicles for the emergency-rescue, recreational vehicle and specialty vehicle markets.
Predicting trends has pushed this firm over the top. Sphere Trending is a unique hybrid of consumer and design trends that bridges the gap between macro and micro trends. Its consumer intelligence team tracks generational insights, consumer trends and shifts in societal, economic, environmental and technology drivers to identify future needs and expectations. The team collects and critiques trends, traveling across the globe to tradeshows, reviewing colors, design, materials, finishes and products to create trend forecasts and product style guides customized to their customer’s industry. The company employs professional colorists, product development specialists, graphic and interior designers who create product and packaging solutions based on consumer and design recommendations. National retailers, major manufacturers and Fortune 500 clients use the company’s publications and services as key product development and strategic path guides for future innovation and success in the marketplace. Sphere Trending also provides onsite presentations, speaking engagements and generational insight panels for increased understanding of the consumer and their lifestyle. Understanding that sharing information is key in today’s economy, the firm publishes daily innovation and product trends on many social networking sites.
The Starfire Financial Group, P.C.
This firm provides clients with advice that is personalized to their unique circumstances. CEO Ron Humenny believes that, “Michigan will emerge from this financial repression.” His firm offers very relative advice, “The best strategy for one’s finances is to assess your unique circumstances, be sure that your biggest financial risks are covered and then pursue a consistent, low-cost, tax-efficient financial strategy to accomplish your goals.”
Storage Pros Management
Having more than 20 years of experience in the operations and marketing of self storage facilities has enabled this company to provide some of the best customer service in the industry. Storage Pros Management is an innovative, customer-oriented company. Every facility that Storage Pros Management associates itself with, aims for the highest quality and customer satisfaction. The company works to provide value, convenience and service. Besides customer service the company’s other primary focus is the acquisition and re-positioning of existing self storage facilities with “value-add” opportunities to improve facility operations and physical condition. Additionally, the company seeks to develop new self-storage facilities on a highly selective basis, limited to exceptional high-traffic locations within underserved submarkets.
The Learning Experience of South Lyon
The Learning Experience of South Lyon opened in 2007 and is committed to giving parents a healthy, fun and educational alternative to standard daycare that works for the whole family. They offer a food program and a professionally developed curriculum. They also offer a wide array of special enrichments to provide a well rounded education, which include Suddenly Science, Start To Art, Marvelous Math, Music 4 Me and Dancing Feet. These enrichments are taught by experts specially educated to cater to the needs of small children. Spanish language lessons and their award winning early reading program, Fun with Phonics are also included in the tuition. For outdoor play, two professionally designed, separate and age appropriate play areas are available. When weather is inclement, children can play indoors at the Make Believe Boulevard, dubbed a “mini- Disneyland,” which offers a dramatic play area for children to express themselves and be active.
YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids
The mission of the YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids is to put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy mind, spirit and body for all. This mission is put into action every day by the many volunteers who spend time making the YMCA the place it is. The overwhelming support of people willing to invest time and talent is a cornerstone of success. Volunteers spend countless hours coaching youth sports, greeting members or nurturing children, while college students lead fun activities for school-aged children. Community members participate on committees to share expertise and board members work to raise funds and set policies that improve the YMCA and community. The dedication and leadership of board and staff members have resulted in financial stability even in these difficult times. According to the Web site, “We want our community to know that we are much more than a place to work out . Volunteers give us the opportunity to help more children build character as well as help more families develop healthy lifestyle habits and find the work/life balance that we all crave.”
Having just celebrated a 20-year anniversary, ZenaComp has thrived because of its ability to adjust and innovate in a quick paced and ever-changing technology services industry. ZenaComp’s clients have come to expect honest, responsive and expert service from all of the individuals who provide services. The core business of the company is providing computer network management services and software/Web/database development to small and medium sized businesses and municipalities. CEO Mark Lichtman says, “Understanding that technology is a mystery to many, ZenaComp’s pledge is to keep its clients fully informed with no surprises when it comes to their technology infrastructure needs.”
Zoup! Fresh Soup Company, LLC
Soup-what a concept. This quick serve restaurant has found its niche in Michigan and is scoring big with customers. According to the company’s Web site, its creators set out to provide the most varieties of the best-tasting soups ever made. Adding, “Our true goal, is to create an oasis in people’s lives. We also know that soup has powerful and intangible qualities that provide comfort and promote a genuine sense of well-being for many people.”
Angott Search Group
Client knowledge is what sets this staffing company apart from the ranks. “We believe that the best way to serve our clients is to learn all we can about their business, their environment and their people. We challenge ourselves to offer a long-term partnership that is innovative, dependable and intensely results-oriented,” says CEO Mark R. Angott. Founded in 1981, Angott Search Group is the partner of choice among top companies seeking search and recruitment guidance and counsel on middle-to-senior management positions. Clients range in size from small businesses to the Fortune 500 and are geographically dispersed from coast-to-coast. The company has conducted in excess of 12,000 searches. ASG strives to create partnerships with candidates and clients through an in-depth understanding of needs, priorities and expectations to assist in achieving business and financial goals.
BAS Technologies is an employment, staffing and recruiting agency that strives to identify the experience and skills client needs, but also to ensure that employees are being placed in an environment that will promote success. Its employees are working in a wide range of industries helping clients exceed their goals.
Diversified Industrial Staffing
“We are a candidate centric organization. It is our candidates, and the skills they bring to our clients, that allow us to be successful. Our candidates are productive day one, not day 31, for our clients,” says CEO Todd Palmer. Diversified Industrial Staffing offers skilled trades staffing for manufacturing, construction and logistics firms. A core company belief is that everything it does should “Improve Lives.”
Preferred Solutions, Inc.
Despite the difficult economic conditions, 2009 has been a banner year for Preferred Solutions. The company provides information technology and training services for health care organizations and Fortune 500 firms. The company began the year with a reassessment of market opportunities, in areas where it knew it had delivery strengths and a historical footprint. Staff selected new types of opportunities to pursue and broadened market focus to include Michigan and non-Michigan clients. But the firm attributes the greatest keys to success in 2009 to “Getting out of the box…opening our minds to needs best addressed with non-traditional services and delivery strategies. We focused on very narrow, niche-based services. Realigning the strengths of our team to support these new areas and investing in our team, where needed, to maintain and guarantee top quality in client service,” says Marie Seipenko, CEO.
Rapid Global Business Solutions, Inc.
This firm specializes in helping businesses hire the market’s top contract, contract-to-hire and direct hire talent as well as competitive payroll services. Started in 1997, it offers full service staffing and engineering design services. Rapid Global Business Solutions, Inc.(RGBSI) has placed a lot of emphasis on creating job opportunities in Michigan and employing local talent for the majority of in-house and client staffing needs. RGBSI endeavors to give business to local Michigan-based suppliers and makes the majority of purchases with local vendors, which in-turn helps to contribute to the Michigan economy. “Our consistent success can be directly attributed to our outstanding staff, loyal clients and the highly-qualified team of candidates and services we provide to our clients,” says CEO Nanua Singh, Ph.D.
Strategic Staffing Solutions
Strategic Staffing Solutions combines continued business success with strong civic involvement at the state and local level. The company is a provider of information technology and business services that includes IT consulting, customized project solutions, vendor management programs and executive search services. Staff continually seeks ways to strengthen business and strengthen the community through forming business partnerships and coalitions that benefit Michigan and its residents. The company is proactively involved in creating initiatives that help improve civic organizations and help improve individuals’ station in life. S3 bridges these efforts with relationships across the globe to bring the beneficial results back to Michigan. “This award is especially gratifying because it recognizes S3 for being successful at what we do while at the same time acknowledging how these successes help build a better Michigan. It exemplifies the fact that, as a corporate citizen, we can build a profitable business and at the same time assume the responsibility of applying our forward-thinking and resource-generating solutions to civic activities and challenges that confront our community,” says CEO Cynthia J. Pasky.
The Townsend Search Group
This company believes in the future of Michigan. “We believe Michigan will prosper in 2010 and we are very excited to be a part of this recovery. Our clients have used this downturn to make necessary changes in their businesses, are running lean and seeking to hire top talent. We are proud to remain a Michigan based company,” says founding partner S. Dianne Freeman. The Townsend Search Group is an executive search firm specializing in the recruitment of senior level executive management and experienced accounting and finance professionals. The firm secures senior-level executives including CEOs, CFOs, COOs and CAOs to focus functionally within the accounting and finance disciplines for a diversified group of businesses ranging from start-up entrepreneurial to financial advisory services and Fortune 1000 companies. Additionally, the company provides accounting and finance professionals on an interim basis for staff augmentation and project work. The partners in the firm are all CPAs and MBAs with a depth of industry experience providing resources and knowledge to assist clients effectively. While many firms have closed their doors or moved headquarters outside of Michigan, the Townsend Search Group has increased its commitment in time and resources to Michigan believing the state continues to have the outstanding talent required for growth.
A2 Hosting, Inc.
Being a socially responsible business makes sense for this company, which provides Web hosting, virtual private server and managed dedicated hosting services. A2 Hosting’s commitment to social causes begins with the selection of professional individuals who are not only dedicated to the support of social causes, but are skilled in the profession. Hard-working and knowledgeable individuals that are aligned with the company’s social commitment are a key aspect to success. A2 Hosting strives to offer an atmosphere where employees are comfortable, valued and are able to participate in constructive communication with management. The management believes in community involvement and offer discounts to nonprofit organizations. “A2 Hosting is more than willing to use available resources to provide a helping hand for our employees’ altruistic initiatives. We understand that providing such aid results in positive returns to our community and society as a whole,” says Bryan Muthig CEO.
Bright House Networks
Bright House Networks offers digital cable, high-speed Internet and home phone services. The company was created with the promise to put customers in control and to help make lives easier. Bright House Networks has introduced innovative customer care initiatives, easier to understand billing practices and simple to use products that are available when customers want them. The company believes in serving the community whether it is through long-term commitments to education and after-school care or supporting employee volunteer projects. Bright House Networks is a company that gives back and a company that gets involved in the community.
eePulse credits its growth to their people. “Our employees are entrepreneurial in nature; they work hard and they share our core values,” says CEO Theresa Welbourne, Ph.D. “In addition, we have excellent partnerships with our clients and other organizations.” eePulse is a human resource management and leadership consulting and software firm in the business of transforming traditionally slow HR tools and processes into fast, high impact systems. Clients include Michigan-based firms as well as other organizations around the nation and the world. Due to the expertise of local employees, combined with Michigan’s infrastructure and airport, eePulse has become a thriving virtual business globally. With over 13 years of experience, eePulse has teamed with customers to improve organization performance and deliver higher strategic impact to internal clients. eePulse’s offering enables Fast HR and Extreme Strategizing, which are new business models designed for organizations that need to move quickly to compete and win in today’s business environment.
First Tech Direct, LLC
With the desire to be more than just a software company, First Tech Direct, a Microsoft Dynamics managed partner, has led the Microsoft Heartland Region in new customer additions, sales revenue and customer satisfaction. First Tech Direct’s vision is to provide industry-leading products and services and to help companies be successful and profitable. This vision is achieved through highly skilled professionals who provide not only real-life accounting and business experience but also technical expertise and strong work ethics. “First Tech Direct’s job is to interpret what our clients’ technology requirements are and what advantages technology can provide them,” says John Silvani, president and CEO. Success, he says, “is a combination of a lot of high-quality employees, good marketing and our outstanding commitment to our customers. When the economy bounces back, we want companies to be ready for it!”
As the leader in online customer satisfaction measurement, ForeSee Results captures and analyzes online Voice of Customer data to help organizations increase sales, loyalty, recommendations and Web site value. ForeSee Results identifies the improvements to Web sites and other online initiatives with the greatest ROI using the methodology of the American Customer Satisfaction Index. With 40 million survey responses collected to date and benchmarks across dozens of industries, ForeSee Results offers unparalleled expertise in customer satisfaction measurement and management. ForeSee Results works with clients across industries, including: retail, financial services, healthcare, hospitality, manufacturing and government.
i3Logic’s growth over the last five years is based upon the ability to consistently help companies accelerate results through learning. The firm focuses on the people side of change. It is unique in Michigan and throughout the industry for innovative learning development methodologies, change acceleration strategies and sophisticated support technology. “We are honored to be recognized for our focus on delighting customers and our innovation in performance improvement solutions. All of our team members bring their strengths and passion for learning to our work, every time,” says CEO Rom LaPointe.
The ability to reach out to the world through the Internet has given this online business a way to achieve its goals. The company offers an e-commerce site where self-published authors are able to sell their books themselves and readers can purchase unique books directly from the writers. Authors are only charged 5 percent of what’s sold each month to list their books.
Scate Technologies, Inc.
Scate Technologies, Inc. is an example of a business that is built for the future. The company is uniquely poised to benefit from the growth trend of social media marketing, online training and search optimization that will continue well in to the next several decades. Scate Technologies, Inc. is a creative technology company founded in 2001 and incorporated in 2003. It provides commercial off-the-shelf software products and custom software development services for desktop, mobile, Web and client/server applications. The firm also provides consulting services for user interface (UI) design, graphics design, story boarding, social media marketing, video production, 3D modeling and animation, eLearning, corporate training and search engine optimization. Additionally, Scate develops world class custom programs, applications and search engine-optimized (SEO) Web sites for its global customer base. It has also created a portfolio of its products and web services which are in use in over 100 countries and by some of the largest companies in the world. A point of pride is the fact that all work performed on its projects is performed in Michigan, and by Michigan residents. Scate is a zero outsourcing company. The company believes that Michigan needs to attract and grow more businesses that can create jobs for the future economy and the company hopes to be a part of the solution, and will continue to grow aggressively in Michigan. “We are very proud of the work we have done for our customers, and we will graciously accept this award on their behalf” says President and CEO Steve Sadler. “We consider it a great honor to be chosen by Corp! magazine as a Best of Michigan Business, and we will continue to do our part to help build a healthy business climate here in our home state,” he added.