Michigan Celebrates the Brilliance of Small Business — 2013

As surely most people know by now, it’s not the behemoth firms that ultimately drive the American economy.

It’s small business.

And that may be reason enough to recognize the state’s increasingly important small business community, which the Michigan Small Business and Technology Center is doing through its ninth annual Michigan Celebrates Small Business awards program, including a VIP reception at the Governor’s Residence on May 1 and a dinner the following evening.

Corp! magazine is pleased to join in the celebration-”highlighting the companies to be recognized this year.

For its part, the U.S. Small Business Administration, Michigan District, has singled out several firms for distinction:

Small Business Person of the Year:
Doug Helkman, Quincy Street Inc.

Holland, Mich.-¨
Doug Helkman, owner of Holland, Mich.-based Quincy Street Inc., is passionate about meat-”providing not only the company’s customers with exceptional cuts but information about how to buy it, cook it and enjoy the experience. Founded in 1994, Quincy Street is excited about the subject of meat, and it shows.

Family Owned Business of the Year:
Teddy’s Transport-¨
Holland, Mich.
Teddy’s Transport, headed by Helen Irene Zeerip and located in Holland, Mich., is a second-generation firm established in 1982.

Recognized last year by Inc. magazine as one of the nation’s 500 fastest-growing privately held companies, Teddy’s has a constantly expanding product line that includes local pick up and delivery, nationwide expediting and specialty trucking that includes the trade show industry.

Teddy’s is passionate in building a future of family entrepreneurs through its involvement in the Family Owned Business Institute of the Seidman College of Business at Grand Valley State University.

Veteran Owned Business of the Year:
The Strike Group-¨
The Strike Group, a global leader in commodity sourcing, sustainment logistics and warehousing solutions, was founded in 1998.

Lane Coleman, president and CEO, has taken the Detroit-based firm from sales of $3.2 million in 2009 to $9.9 million two years later. Some 70 percent of Strike Group employees are former military personnel and the firm counts the U.S. government as well as companies such as Bombardier, Chrysler Group LLC and Otis Elevator among its clients.

Young Entrepreneur of the Year:
Jonathan Julien
Just 24 years old, Jonathan Julien is the remarkably busy head of LJJ Construction, a Houghton, Mich.-based firm he established in 2008.

Do the math and you’ll realize Julien was a teenager at the time. He began the business as a way to build “sweat equity”-” through construction of his first apartment building.

Today his Julien Properties subsidiary has more than 60 employees and manages 126 bedrooms for students at Michigan Technological University in Houghton.

But keeping up with Julien is almost a full time job in itself-”he has started or owned some five businesses, including a firm that sells as many as 40,000 skateboards a month, although through the Internet another new venture, Quincy Woodwrights, expects to manufacture at least some of those in Houghton.

Small Business Exporter of the Year:
Managed Programs-¨
Auburn Hills, Mich.-¨
For those who may think U.S.-based manufacturing can’t compete with off-shore low-cost producers, remember this name: Managed Programs, an Auburn Hills firm that since 1997 has been bringing innovative manufacturing methods that allow small and medium-sized businesses to do just that.

With Donald Carbone at the helm, Managed Programs has developed an innovative 24-hour design philosophy that brings around-the-clock data and technical knowledge transfer between offices in the U.S. and those in Korea and Germany.

Already competing in Korea, Malaysia, Germany and Russia, Managed Programs is now targeting markets in Brazil and sales have quintupled-”from $4 million in 2003 to $20 million in 2012. So has the Managed Programs team as Carbone targets new grads from University of Michigan, Michigan State, Western Michigan, Kettering and Lawrence Tech.

SCORE Counselor of the Year:-¨
Thomas Raymond
Thomas Raymond, who provides counseling services in addition to chairing the marketing committee for the Pontiac chapter of the well-known non-profit business organization, has a high 95 percent client satisfaction when it comes to mentoring performance.

That may well be due to Raymond’s experience as an entrepreneur. An active member of the Pontiac Chamber and Downtown Pontiac Business Association, Raymond is no stranger to the business community, having received both SCORE’s Distinguished Service Award at the chapter level as well as the Outstanding Volunteer award from CEED-”the Center for Economic Power and Development-”in 2012.

SBTDC Counselor of the Year:-¨
Melissa Angel
Melissa Angel, a long-time counselor for the Growth Group of the Michigan Small Business and Technology Development Center in Kalamazoo, has distinguished herself with consistently high ratings from businesses she’s helped.

One of those was a Benton Harbor firm that has shrunk to just 28 employees from its peak of 70.

The story, one that’s still being written, includes a new market diversification strategy that has brought employment back to 40.

Since 2010, she’s helped clients obtain some $8 million in capital formation, retained more than 280 jobs and helped create another 65 jobs.

Main Street USA Award:-¨
Witch’s Hat Brewing Co.
South Lyon, Mich.-¨
The Witch’s Hat Brewing Company, based in South Lyon, Mich., is more than a place to quaff a pint or two of some of the freshest, crispest small batch beer imaginable. Owners Ryan and Erin Cottongim have created an experience with their venture.

They’re also continuing to grow the business, having reached out to restaurants in the southeast Michigan area through a distribution agreement with Rave, also Michigan-based.

Innovation Award:-¨
RealBio Technology Inc.
Kalamazoo, Mich.
Paul Neeb, who heads Kalamazoo-based RealBio Technology Inc., one of the incubator companies at the city’s Southwest Michigan Innovation Center, is providing real hope for cancer patients with its technology that grows culture in a way that mimics the function of normal and diseased tissue.

The distinction between RealBio’s technology and what’s commonly used by researchers becomes obvious when you consider the failure rate to get future cancer treatments through approval by the Food and Drug Administration is 97 percent.

With RealBio’s “disruptive” technology (which it licensed from Aastrom Biosciences), researchers can speed up the process of bringing cancer treatments to those who need it most.

Government Contracting Award:-¨
Northern Wings Repair-¨
Newberry, Mich.-¨
Northern Wings Repair, an Upper Peninsula firm founded by David Goudreau from a pole barn in Engadine, Mich., has grown into a modern manufacturing operation located in a purpose-built 13,000-square-foot facility in nearby Newberry, Mich.

Having grown to be an AS 9100 certified aerospace manufacturer and FAA Certified Repair Station, Northern Wings distributes certified material and parts for commercial and military aircraft and operates satellite offices in Wisconsin, North Carolina and California.

Michigan 50 Companies to Watch
The Michigan 50 Companies to Watch entrepreneurial awards program honors second-stage businesses from a range of industries in the state. The companies are selected for their impressive growth in jobs an revenue as well as strength in leadership, corporate culture, community support and philanthropy, market reach, technology innovations, an other factors that contribute to an outstanding organization.

Between 2009 and 2012, these companies collectively added 728 jobs, generating $937 million in revenue.

Together they represent Michigan’s vibrant entrepreneurial culture.

906 Technologies, Marquette, Mich.: A website development and IT support firm. www.906technologies.com

Air Advantage LLC, Frankenmuth, Mich.: Provides wireless Internet services and computer repair. www.airadvantage.net

Altus Brands LLC, Traverse City, Mich.: Innovative brands for the outdoor enthusiast. www.altusbrands.com

APEC, Lake Odessa, Mich.: Process equipment and control systems. www.apecusa.com

BGL Asset Services LLC, Mt. Pleasant, Mich.: Corrosion engineering and monitoring services. www.bglas.com

Cadillac Culvert Inc., Cadillac, Mich.: Steel underground drainage culverts. www.cadillacculvert.com

Check Corp., Troy, Mich.: Flexible heating products. www.checkcorp.com

Cherry Capital Foods, Traverse City, Mich.: Food distributor. www.cherrycapitalfoods.com

Constructive Eating Inc., Ann Arbor, Mich.: Children’s eating utensils. www.constructiveeating.com

Critter Control, Traverse City, Mich.: Wildlife control. www.crittercontrol.com

Daycare Works, Rochester Hills, Mich. Child care software solutions. www.daycareworks.com

Edibles Rex, Detroit, Mich.: Catering services. www.ediblesrex.com

Embedded Logix Inc., Shelby Township, Mich.: Computer systems designs. www.emlogix.net

Gazelle Sports, Kalamazoo, Mich.: Sports apparel and footwear retailer. www.gazellesports.com

Genemarkers, Kalamazoo, Mich.: Genomics research services. www.genemarkersllc.com

Global Lift Corp., Bad Axe, Mich. Pool lifts. www.globalliftcorp.com

Grand Traverse Distillery, Traverse City, Mich.: Vodka and whiskey distillery. www.grandtraversedistillery.com

Gravity Works Design & Development, Lansing, Mich.: Computer systems design.

H&H Wildlife Design and Fur Dressing Inc., Reed City, Mich.: Commercial tannery.

Ideomed, Grand Rapids, Mich.: Web-based tools for disease management. www.ideomed.com

ITB Packaging LLC, Holland, Mich.: Packaging dividers. www.itbpackaging.com

Jollay Orchards, Coloma, Mich.: Orchard and family destination. www.jollayorchards.com

Kyyba Inc., Farmington Hills, Mich.: Engineering and IT staffing. www.kyyba.com

LinTech Global Inc., Farmington Hills, Mich.: Software developer and IT consultancy. www.lintechglobal.com

M22, Traverse City, Mich.: Logo apparel retailer. www.m22.com

Marshall Plastic Film, Martin, Mich.: Packaging products. www.marshallplastic.com

Marvel Technologies Inc., Novi, Mich.: Information technology. www.marveltechus.com

MatchRX, Royal Oak, Mich.: Online marketplace for pharmacists. www.matchrx.com

Micron Manufacturing, Grand Rapids, Mich.: Precision machining. www.micronmfg.net

Mills Pharmacy & Apothecary, Birmingham, Mich.: Pharmacy. www.millspharmacy.com

Mindscape at Hanon McKendry, Grand Rapids, Mich.: Website development and interactive marketing. www.mindscape-hm.com

Moomers Homemade Ice Cream, Traverse City, Mich.: Ice cream and merchandising. www.moomers.com

Newmind Group Inc., Kalamazoo, Mich.: Information technology. www.newmindgroup.com

NITS Solutions Inc., Farmington Hills, Mich.: Information technology and staffing. www.nitssolutions.com

Nobis Agri Science Inc., Plainwell, Mich.: Nutritional programs to dairy farmers. www.nobisagri.com

Northern Fab & Machine LLC, Menominee, Mich.: Metal parts manufacturing.

OPS Solutions LLC, Northville, Mich.: Industrial automation design. www.ops-solutions.com

Panther Global Technologies, Wixom, Mich.: Precision machined components. www.panthercs.com

Phoenix Environmental Inc., Whitmore Lake, Mich.: Fuel and remediation system design.

Plymouth Technology Inc., Rochester Hills, Mich.: Industrial water treatment systems. www.phoenixenv.com

Preferred Solutions Inc., Northville, Mich.: Electronic medical records software training/support. www.prefsol.com

PRO-VISION Video Systems, Byron Center, Mich.: Vehicle rear vision and video recording systems. www.seeingissafety.com

PROLIM Corp., Farmington Hills, Mich.: Product lifecycle management software. www.prolim.com

QST Consultations Ltd., Allendale, Mich.: Medical research services. www.qstconsultations.com

Resource Recycling Systems Inc., Ann Arbor, Mich.: Environmental consulting and engineering. www.recycle.com

Sentio LLC, Southfield, Mich.: Medical device developer. www.sentiommg.com

Supermercado Mexico, Grand Rapids, Mich.: Specialty grocer. www.supermercadomexico.com

TerraTrike, Grand Rapids, Mich.: Recumbent bicycle manufacturing. www.terratrike.com

Uckele Health & Nutrition Inc., Blissfield, Mich.: Nutritional supplements. www.uckele.com

Vintech Industries Inc., Imlay City, Mich.: Plastic extrusions manufacturing. www.vintechplastics.com