Grand Rapids Business Journal 02.07.22

Page 1

KZOO Station project takes next step.


FEB 7, 2022 VOL. 40, NO. 3

The Business Newspaper of Metro Grand Rapids, Holland, Muskegon & West Michigan


LOWE DISCOVERS HEART TO SERVE Executive director of Emmanuel Hospice describes herself as a ‘glass-half-full’ person. Page 10

Basketball’s return to GR not a slam dunk There were plenty of hoops to jump through while trying to keep a G League team here. Danielle Nelson

Industrious Q4 reports point to a thriving industrial real estate market that needs more space. PAGE 3

Benchmarks Business Leaders for Michigan reworks its standards that measure strategic improvement in the state.

With less than three minutes on the game clock in the fourth quarter, fans erupted in cheers as Grand Rapids Gold shooting guard Davon Reed knocked down a 3-pointer to give the Gold the lead and eventually the win in its home opener against the Motor City Cruise, the NBA G League affiliate of the Detroit Pistons. Those were three of many points that eventually earned Reed a two-way contract with the Denver Nuggets, the NBA parent of the Grand Rapids Gold. But it almost didn’t happen. Reed almost didn’t hit the

Owner Steve Jbara’s face-to-face meeting with Denver Nuggets officials eventually resulted in a new affiliation. Courtesy Kynda

3-pointer at the DeltaPlex Arena. Not that he couldn’t, but he almost didn’t as a player wearing a jersey with the name “Grand Rapids Gold” etched on the front. Fans almost didn’t have a home team to cheer for after the future of the organization was shrouded in uncertainty for years. Grand Rapids Gold President Steve Jbara, who was president of the Grand Rapids Drive, the former

G League affiliate of the Detroit Pistons, said he knew at the beginning of the 2018-19 season (the fifth year of its extended seven-year contract with the Detroit Pistons organization) that the Pistons had a desire to move its G League team to Detroit. “We started considering all of our options,” he said. “Do we relocate the team? Can we try to convince them that Grand Rapids is

the right place? If not, what are our other options? There were a lot of things that were not very clear at the time with us not knowing the entire situation or how we would survive or where we would go. The Pistons stayed very steadfast in their goal to relocate the team.” It became increasingly clear over the next several months that the Pistons organization made CONTINUED ON PAGE 17


BACK TO SCHOOL West Michigan Construction Institute opens with goal to send more people into the skilled trades. Page 4


The area’s top specialty contractors. Page 5 The area’s top general contractors. Page 7

SBAM data reveals small business obstacles Survey shows workforce shortages, inflation, supply chain disruptions plague small businesses. Rachel Watson

Michigan’s small businesses continue to struggle with workforce

shortages, inflation and supply chain disruptions, according to a recent survey published by the Small Business Association of Michigan. The survey also showed small businesses are offering Calley higher wages

to attract workers. “Small business owners continue to face one obstacle after another, nearly two years after the onset of the pandemic,” said Brian Calley, SBAM president and CEO. “After dealing with closures and restrictions, there is a new set of significant challenges small business owners face. Workforce shortages, inflation and supply chain disruptions are prevalent issues that have the ability to jeopardize their success.”

GRBJ.COM Vol. 40, No. 3 $3.00 a copy. $59 a year © Entire contents copyright 2021 by Gemini Media. All rights reserved.

Inside Track ..... 10 Guest Columns.. 14 Road funding

KIDS’ Food Basket celebrates milestone anniversary.

Change-Ups ..... 20 Calendar .......... 20 Public Record .... 21 Street Talk ...... 22


Survey respondents overwhelmingly identified workforce shortages (56%), inflation (56%) and supply chain disruptions (59%) as the biggest problems facing their businesses. Sixty-six percent of small businesses said it’s harder to find and keep staff. To combat that challenge, 70% of businesses are increasing wages to attract and maintain employees. The survey of 600 Michigan CONTINUED ON PAGE 15

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FEBRUARY 7, 2022


Kzoo Station project takes next step Business

Leaders for MI updates benchmarks

Interest form now open for prospective tenants of incubator kitchen and food business space.

Roundtable says Michigan has evolved over the past decade but needs strategic improvements.

Rachel Watson

The partners behind Kzoo Station: A Community Kitchen + Eatery are inviting entrepreneurs in the 49507 ZIP code to explore being a tenant of their new space when it opens this spring or summer. Kzoo Station: A Community Kitchen + Eatery, a partnership of the small business training organization SpringGR and the economic development nonprofit Amplify GR, will be a commercial kitchen and multitenant retail food business space that will provide opportunities for southeast side residents looking to grow or start a food business. The two organizations last fall began renovating the 1,416-square-foot former Good Shepherd Auto Repair building at 1445 Kalamazoo Ave. SE in the Boston Square neighborhood to create Kzoo Station, which is expected to open next summer. It will be the first development in the collective community design known as Boston Square Together, a 10-acre parcel in the center of the Boston Square neighborhood in Grand

Rachel Watson

When completed, Kzoo Station could be home to several neighborhood food entrepreneurs. Courtesy Amplify GR

Rapids that will include affordable housing, an early childhood learning center, a park, a food hall and retail space. The Boston Square Together

project is run by a partnership of local organizations, including Amplify GR, the Boston Square Neighborhood Association and Oakdale Neighbors, as well as

businesses and residents, all of whom are working together to create and execute a shared vision of widening economic pathCONTINUED ON PAGE 16

Industrial 4Q reports show trends High demand, low inventory prompt some new construction. Danielle Nelson

The West Michigan industrial real estate market in the fourth quarter remained busy, continuing the trend of high demand for inventory and low vacancies. As the industrial market tightened further in the fourth quarter, the year-end absorption figures topped 2.1 million square feet, according to JLL, a commercial real estate services company. There were 1.2 million square feet of new inventory in 2021. The vacancy rate fell to 3.2% and the sublease asking rent was $4.32 per square foot. The average asking rent has increased 14.3% since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Alro Steel moved into a 70,000-square-foot space at 4670 60th St. SE in Kentwood, while in Kalamazoo, Polytek signed a lease for a 121,000-square-foot building formerly occupied by FedEx

Ground. It is located at 2612 Kersten Court. JR Automation opened its new 147,000-square-foot facility at the Prince Tech Center in Holland. LaserShip, a delivery company, signed a seven-year lease for a 70,000-square-foot space at the Kentwood Distribution Center in southeast Grand Rapids. Following LaserShip stabilizing the property, Indianapolis-based developer Scannell Properties sold the building to STAG Industrial for an undisclosed price in November. Bob Horn, senior vice president for JLL, said e-commerce has changed the way people shop and, in turn, created the need for more industrial space. “E-commerce has almost tripled since COVID,” he said. “Thirty-six percent of the buying power is e-commerce and for years it was 12%, 13%, 14%. It has almost tripled in the past 18 months. People are not going to large, big-box retailers. They are ordering online. That is just the change. “We did the deal with LaserSpace. They handle those pack-

aged meal products, and they grabbed the 70,000-square-foot warehouse here,” he said. “You are going to see Blue Apron (a meal kit company). You are going to see pharmaceuticals being delivered and people not going to Walgreens and realizing nothing is on the shelf. It is a continuing trend.” More than 3 million square feet of inventory is currently under construction, according to JLL. Robert Grooters Development broke ground on a $14 million, 200,000-square-foot facility in Norton Shores, half of which is preleased to Sea Bond, an adhesive and sealant manufacturer. Large owner-user projects like Pfizer’s 420,000-square-foot facility in Portage, along with Flexco and Speedrack in northwest Grand Rapids highlight the current construction pipeline and are set to deliver in 2022, per the JLL fourth quarter report. Tommy Car Wash Systems, a car wash manufacturer for Tommy’s Express franchisees, is constructing a new $32.6 million, 245,000-square-foot facility at

648 S. Point Ridge in Holland, per NAI Wisinski of West Michigan. Northridge projects are underway, including the Walker View Industrial Park in Walker. The projects range from a 150,000-square-foot space to 300,000 square foot in total with various suite sizes for leasing, according to Colliers. There was 174,763,412 square feet of rentable building space in the region in Q4, which included warehouse, manufacturing and high-tech flex buildings, according to NAI Wisinski. The vacancy rate was 2.7%. Kurt Kunst, partner and industrial specialist for NAI Wisinski, said even with the challenges of finding available inventory for clients, the industrial market will remain the same. “We expect the fundamentals of the West Michigan industrial real estate market to remain strong in 2022,” he said. “Demand will remain high, inventory will remain low, prices will remain high, and new construction will continue to be evident in our market to meet the needs of our local industrial market.”

Business Leaders for Michigan released its updated benchmarking report comparing Michigan’s performance against the top 10 states, and the metrics show the Mitten State is struggling to grow faster than other states. While the state has made significant gains since the Great Recession, moving from 49th to 29th, the report shows the state has a ways to go in removing obstacles to talent and economic development. “Michigan is much better off and has come a long way since 2009. However, despite 10 years of economic growth prior to COVID-19, we’re struggling to grow faster than our competitors,” said Jeff Donofrio, Business Leaders for Michigan president and CEO. “As we continue to see economic disruptions from the pandemic, talent shortages and shifts in our economy, including to vehicle electrification and advanced mobility, it’s even more critical that we examine Michigan’s competitiveness and make sure that, in the decades ahead, we focus on investments and actions that drive growth.” Business Leaders for Michigan’s state-by-state analysis includes an expanded set of benchmark metrics, along with a growth gauge to determine where Michigan sits nationally under these rapidly changing and competitive conditions — and where it might be headed. The Business Leaders’ data includes its traditional output metrics such as GDP, median household income and business climate perception, and adds growth and economic health indicators such as education, labor force participation, net migration, poverty and business creation. These updated metrics provide a more holistic view of how well all Michiganders are succeeding, rather than just a snapshot of the state’s economy. The benchmarking is designed to allow business leaders and policymakers to focus on Michigan’s strengths and weaknesses to develop specific, data-driven solutions that will help Michigan’s people, businesses and communities compete and win for jobs, income and growth. The states currently in the top 10 are Utah, Washington, Colorado, Texas, Massachusetts, Virginia, California, Oregon, Florida and Arizona. “The recent bipartisan economic development legislation is exactly the kind of ongoing action CONTINUED ON PAGE 18


FEBRUARY 7, 2022


Your business moves fast. So do we. Instructor BJ Wells works with students at the West Michigan Construction Institute. Courtesy WMCI

New construction school looks to fill industry needs

We are in the business of earning your trust and keeping it. We won’t just be your lender — we will be your trusted financial partner that helps you get things done and grow your business. We prioritize learning the specifics of your business so we can recommend customized banking, borrowing, investing, and insurance solutions that position you for success.

Students will be exposed to such trades as carpentry, plumbing, masonry and electrical.

It starts with a simple conversation.

Danielle Nelson

Jeff VanderMeulen Vice President Commercial Lending (616) 265-3138

11892 2022 GRBJ Ad.indd 1


1/13/22 9:14 AM

A new school in Grand Rapids is helping to produce more skilled trade workers in the construction industry. The West Michigan Construction Institute (WMCI) officially opened its doors to students on Jan. 12. The school is focused on teaching students who might be interested in pursuing a career as a skilled trade such as a carpenter, plumber, mason or electrician. “Every skill is needed in the industry right now,” said Jen Schottke, president of WMCI. “I don’t know of a construction company or a particular trade contractor that does not have a need for a skilled tradesperson in their craft, whether it is brick masons or HVAC technicians or a sprinkler fitter. Every single trade is in demand right now.” Schottke said statistics show that trend will continue for the foreseeable future. “The statistics (show) that in the commercial construction industry over the past several years nearly 50% of our skilled trade force is going to retire in the next 15 years and we anticipate that that is likely being sped up by the pandemic,” she said. To address the problem, Schottke said construction professionals in the region had been talking about the possibility of starting an institution for a few years. “The idea of having a local comprehensive construction education center that offers trade education really started to get some legs three years ago,” she said. “The Associated Builders and Contractors did some feasibility work to determine if this is the right decision for the West Michigan market and ultimately the construction companies here, and just the community at large, agreed that this would be a valu-

able asset in our community.” Schottke described the first four months as a “pilot semester” in which officials become accustomed to running a new trade school with a new team in a new building, located at 801 Century Ave. SW in Grand Rapids. There currently is a limited number of students enrolled and limited courses that are offered in the classrooms and labs where students can perform hands-on activities at WMCI. WMCI is partnering with three regional public school districts: Grand Rapids, Northview and Jenison. There are currently 11 high school seniors who are enrolled in the program who attend classes five days per week in the mornings. “The courses include a high school program,” Schottke said. “Students are going through our Core Curriculum, which teaches the fundamental skills individuals need to either enter the workforce immediately upon the completion of the certification course or move on into continued trades education. In the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) curriculum, Core is the prerequisite for any one of the trade programs, whether students want to be a carpenter or a wielder, Core is that first class.” The lead instructor for the high school program is BJ Wells, a former teacher at a local career tech center. The other instructors are journeyman or higher in their skilled trade and are trade certified through WMCI’s curriculum provider. Additionally, WMCI provides craft education to construction employers and their employees, including concrete and carpentry programs that have 15 and 16 students enrolled, respectively. WMCI also is providing professional development and certification courses, including a recent full-week specialty electrical training program and an upcoming blueprint class in February. “We have three construction labs, so we are able to simulate the field in a controlled environment,” Schottke said. “Students are going into the lab. In the carpentry proCONTINUED ON PAGE 19



FEBRUARY 7, 2022


Top Area Specialty Contractors (RANKED BY 2021 WEST MICHIGAN REVENUE)

Year established Top W. Mich. executive in W. Mich.

2021 2020 W. Mich. revenue


Types of contracting services provided

No. of W. Mich. Geographic areas employees served

Major W. Mich. projects completed or in process in 2021


Andy J. Egan Co. Inc. 2001 Waldorf St. NW Grand Rapids 49544 p (616) 791-9952 f 791-1037

Tom Jasper Andy Jasper Amy Jones Tracy Siepker


$108.63M $95M

Mechanical contracting, fabrication, HVAC sheet metal, engineering and BIM, controls and 24/7 service


Midwest for large construction, worldwide for fabrication

Graphics Packaging, Mel Trotter Ministries, Grand River Aseptic Manufacturing, GVSU Health & Medical Sciences Building, Holland Aquatic Center, 10 Ionia Residence Inn by Marriott


Buist Electric 2 - 84th St. SW Byron Center 49315 p (616) 878-3315 f 878-3556

Steve Longstreet Brent Brinks


$105M $84M

Electrical construction, 24-hour service, arc flash/electrical testing, voice/data, outdoor utility services, design/build, 3D modeling, automation, audio/visual, building management systems, physical security



Hudsonville Ice Cream expansion, Graphic Packaging Project Bronco, Stryker Medical, Advia Credit Union, TC Energy compressor stations


Kent Companies 130 60th St. SW Grand Rapids 49548 p (616) 534-4909 f 534-4890

Jeffrey VanderLaan


$96.48M $79.38M

Concrete construction, lightweight underlayments and sound control, concrete and masonry restoration, foundation systems and facilities services


Midwest, southeast, 430 Monroe, Flexco Walker, J-Star central and south Motion Controls, Old Dominion, central U.S. Towers on River


DHE Plumbing and Mechanical 4475 Eighth Ave. Grandville 49418 p (616) 896-8414

Nate Heyboer Eric Heyboer Josh Heyboer


$45M $32M

Commercial plumbing and HVAC contractor


Michigan, with specialty projects nationwide

Ferguson Apartments, Lincoln Park Elementary, Junior Achievement Headquarters, 555 Ada Drive, Northview Public Schools

VanLaan Concrete Construction Inc. 6875 Dutton Industrial Drive SE Dutton 49316 p (616) 698-6397 f 698-6317

Scott VanLaan


$45M $36M

Concrete construction, construction supply



Lowell Area Schools, Kent County Road Commission new central complex, Gerald R. Ford International Airport new operations center, GVSU Pew Campus pedestrian mall, Bells Brewing, Inner City Christian Federation Tapestry Square.


Vanguard Fire & Security Systems, Inc. 2101 Martindale Ave. SW Grand Rapids 49525 p (616) 245-8719



Rick Knipp


$38.02M $39.32M

Fire sprinkler systems, fire alarm/security systems, clean agent, foam systems, fire extinguishers


North America

Feyen Zylstra 2396 Hillside Drive NW Grand Rapids 49544 p (616) 224-7707 f 224-7799

Nate Koetje Bill Herington Kevin Wildfong


$29.2M $39.9M

Electrical solutions, systems solutions, AV, electrical engineering, controls and automation, industrial networking, robotics, design/build, IoT solutions, design assist, arc flash studies, outdoor solutions


Michigan, Grand Rapids Biodigester, contract southeastern United amount: $14,108,671; WMU South States student housing, contract amount: $5,268,048; Delivery Distribution facility, contract amount: $3,918,314; Graphic Packaging, contract amount: $2,550,668; and LO Kent Distribution, contract amount: $1,947,553

Burgess Concrete Construction Inc. 1262 Cutting Industrial Drive Moline 49335 p (616) 877-0008 f 877-0073

Carroll Burgess


$25M $25M

Concrete foundations, floors and site work, concrete polishing, concrete pumping and helical foundation support


West Michigan

Van Dyken Mechanical Inc. 4275 Spartan Industrial Drive Grandville 49418 p (616) 224-7030 f 224-7035

Joe Vandenberg Justin Thrun Dave Demann


$25M $24M

HVACR design/build, fabrication, installation, fast-track service and maintenance, including support for controls, energy management, testing, balancing and commissioning services


Michigan and beyond DND

Thomas Vander Hyde Scott Vander Hyde Craig Vander Hyde


$23.5M $25.5M

Mechanical, plumbing, HVAC, process piping, design/build, 24-hour service


West Michigan

Randy Seaman


$22M $19M

HVAC, electrical, refrigeration, plumbing, temperature controls, design/build, engineering, industrial ventilation, process piping, service/repair, energy management, planned maintenance


Michigan and beyond Flexco, Betten Baker Hudsonville, L3 Grand Rapids, Rowe Lofts, West Michigan Aviation

Tony Vermaas Dave Langworthy Joe Osterhout Keith Gillhespy


$17M $20M

Acoustical ceilings, carpet, ceramic tile, stucco, drywall, fireproofing, framing, insulation, plastering, exterior finish systems



MSU Grand Rapids Innovation Park, Studio Park, Acrisure Corporate Office, Beacon Hill Independent Living, Frederik Meijer Gardens Welcome Center, GRCC Finkelstein Hall Renovation, Mercy Health Hospital Muskegon, Hilton Garden Inn/Home Suites Kalmazoo, 415 Franklin mixeduse facility

Doug Irvine Jr.


$15M $15M

Fire protection, automatic sprinklers, extinguishers


Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Colorado, Alabama, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina

Lakeland Hospital, Mercy Hospital, WMU Dining, Flexco, Spectrum Parking


Rite-Way Plumbing & Heating Inc. 2083 Walker Court NW Grand Rapids 49544 p (616) 791-0959 f 791-4600


Seaman's Mechanical 2510 Oak Industrial Drive NE Grand Rapids 49505 p (616) 458-1544 f 458-0605


Sobie Company Inc. 3276 Hanna Lake Ind. Park Drive SE Caledonia 49316 p (616) 698-9800 f 698-0994


Brigade Fire Protection 5701 Safety Drive NE Belmont 49306 p (616) 784-1644


Hudsonville Public Schools, Natural Choice Foods, Request Foods, Hudsonville Ice Cream, Art Mulder freezer, John Ball Zoo

CSPS, Cedar Trails Elementary mechanical improvements, DTMB new Veterans’ Home, Grand Rapids; FHPS, 2021 MECH projects, Muskegon Central Dispatch, renovation and expansion project, Muskegon Convention Center, West Pharma, plant addition

Andy J. Egan promoted Dave Antonowitsch and Dylan Pancoast within the company. Antonowitsch was promoted to director of service and controls. Pancoast was promoted to Grand Rapids service manager.

Board member DHE Plumbing and Mechanical owner Nate Heyboer became an Associated Builders and Contractors, Western Michigan Chapter board member.

Best and brightest Seaman’s Mechanical was named one of Michigan’s Best and Brightest Companies to Work For by the National Association for Business Resources.

Award of excellence Kent Companies was honored with the Award of Excellence for its concrete and paving work on the CD13 Catalyst Development project in Traverse City by the Builders Exchange of Northwest Michigan.



Download this list now at in Excel or PDF format. The Book of Lists and other lists are also available.



FEBRUARY 7, 2022


Top Area Specialty Contractors

16 over 60

(RANKED BY 2021 WEST MICHIGAN REVENUE) Year established Top W. Mich. executive in W. Mich. 14

Fence Consultants of West Michigan 615 11th St. NW Grand Rapids 49504 p (616) 454-1911 f 233-0422

Dan Hickey Tom Bement


2021 2020 W. Mich. revenue

$13M $9.34M

Types of contracting services provided

Ornamental steel and aluminum, polyvinyl, specialty, custom wood and chain-link fences; wire mesh partitions, guardrail, electric gate operators

No. of W. Mich. Geographic areas employees served


West Michigan

Major W. Mich. projects completed or in process in 2021

Kent County Road Commission with Owen Ames Kimball ($420,400.00), Old Dominion Grand Rapids with DF Chase ($287,505.00), Lowell Area Schools BP No 3 Lowell High School North Athletic Complex and High School Technology with Owen Ames Kimball ($274,150.00), Spectrum Health Parking Deck 6 vertical expansion with Christman Company ($252,919.17), Covenant High School Sports Complex with Covenant High School ($252,615.00), Comstock expansion R1 with Farmer Development Inc ($219,739.45)


Double O Inc. 1415 S. Division Ave. Grand Rapids 49507 p (616) 878-3998 f 878-4221

Michael Otis


$7M $8.7M

Commercial glazing, window and door distribution and installation


West and central Michigan

Grandville Middle School, Emerald Flats, Walker KCRC new central complex, Mona Shores, Salvation Army rehab


Dependable Fire Protection Inc. 13360 White Creek Ave. NE Cedar Springs 49319 p (616) 696-8000 f 696-8511

Douglas Scott


$4.43M $2.95M

Fire protection systems: design, install and service



Wyoming HS, Grandville apts, Franklin apts, GRCC Finkelstein Hall, Harrison Circle, Borgess Medical Bldg.

Buist Sheet Metal Co. 615 Webster St. NW Grand Rapids 49504 p (616) 451-0272 f 451-0434

James Buist Don Buist



Architectural sheet metal, copper work, metal roofing, slate and clay tile roofing


100 miles


Pleune Service Co. 750 Himes St. SE Grand Rapids 49548 p (616) 243-6374 f 243-5387

Ken Misiewicz


DND $25.5M

Commercial and industrial HVAC construction and service repair, preventive maintenance and 24/7 service, sheet metal, pipe fitting, HVAC equipment, controls



Godwin Heights Middle School, Bissell, Thornapple Elementary, ODL

Feyen Zylstra co-founder Marlin Feyen was honored at the 16 Over 60 Awards Gala by Senior Neighbors for his continued contributions to West Michigan.

New trade school West Michigan Construction Institute trade school opened in January 2022.



Download this list now at in Excel or PDF format.

The Grand Rapids Business Journal list of top area specialty contractors, ranked by 2021 West Michigan revenue, is the most comprehensive available. The list is based on responses to Business Journal surveys. The Business Journal defines "West Michigan" as Allegan, Kent, Ottawa and Muskegon counties. The Business Journal surveyed 190 companies; 20 returned surveys and 18 are listed. To be considered for future lists, email DND = Did not disclose

The Book of Lists and other lists are also available.

S AY I L O V E YO U L I K E YO U M E A N I T. (616) 949-8888



FEBRUARY 7, 2022


Top Area General Contractors (RANKED BY 2021 WEST MICHIGAN REVENUE) 2021 2020 W. Mich. Top W. Mich. executive revenue

New title

New/ rehabbed No. of W. Mich. square footage employees in 2021 Type of services offered

Major building projects


Rockford Construction 601 First St. NW Grand Rapids 49504 p (616) 285-6933 f 285-8001

Mike VanGessel

$400M $419.38M



Construction management, general Perrigo North American Headquarters, Spectrum contracting, design/build, self-performed Health Center for Transformation, Michigan State trades, real estate development, property University Doug Meijer Medical Innovation management, facilities management Building, MCPc, Degage Ministries, Mel Trotter, Northview Public Schools


Owen-Ames-Kimball Co. 300 Ionia Ave. NW Grand Rapids 49503 p (616) 456-1521 f 458-0770

Frank Stanek

$319M $310M



Construction management, general contracting, facilities planning

Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park expansion, Kent County Road Commission new central complex, Grand Rapids Public Museum, bond programs with over 20 local school districts


Pioneer Construction 550 Kirtland St. SW Grand Rapids 49507 p (616) 247-6966 f 247-0186

Tim Schowalter

$250M $285M




Autocam Medical, McCamly Plaza Hotel renovation, Meijer Aviation Hangar, ICCF Tapestry Square, GRFIA operations center


The Christman Company 634 Front Ave. NW, Suite 500 Grand Rapids 49504-5355 p (616) 454-4454 f 454-1795

Jacob Kulhanek

$212.68M $201.73M



Construction management, general Gerald R. Ford International Airport project elevate contracting, design/build, real estate concourse A expansion, Spectrum Health new development, self-perform skilled trades ambulatory building, Western Michigan University Dunbar Hall renovation, bond programs with 14 local school districts, Blackmer Pump addition and renovation


Wolverine Building Group 4045 Barden Drive SE Grand Rapids 49512 p (616) 949-3360 f 949-6211

Aaron Jonker Curt Mulder

$185M $185M



General contracting, design/build, construction management


Triangle Associates Inc. 3769 Three Mile Road NW Grand Rapids 49534 p (616) 453-3950 f 453-5952

Craig Datema Patrick Cebelak

$95.12M $94.79M



Construction management, general Ferris State University Center for Virtual Learning, contracting, design/build, K-12 pre-bond Fox Subaru, Cascade Township Fire Station, services, facility assessments and capital multiple K-12 bond programs planning


Dan Vos Construction Co. 6160 E. Fulton St. Ada 49301 p (616) 676-9169

Dan Vos

$93M $65M



Design build, general contracting, construction management, architectural engineering, steel services, general trades, facility service department


Visser Brothers Inc. 1946 Turner Ave. NW Grand Rapids 49504 p (616) 363-3825 f 363-6477

Bill Mast

$92.74M $41.5M


890,000 325,000


EV Construction 86 E. Sixth St. Holland 49423 p (616) 392-2383 f 392-3752

Michael Novakoski

$91M $94M



General contracting, construction management, self-perform trades, firestopping, facilities services

Resthaven - The Farmstead, Clark at Keller Lake, Vision Quest/Tommy's Express Headquarters, Mercy Health Muskegon - multiple projects, Caledonia Wastewater Treatment Plant expansion


Davis Construction 4457 40th St. SE Kentwood 49512 p (616) 456-0059 f 456-0383

Rob Kaliniak Peter Elzinga

$71.63M $72.47M



General contracting, concrete, piling, sitework, demo

Holland WWTP-egg shaped digester, Grandville WWTP- solids handling, Greenville WWTP Phase 1 and Phase 2, Wyoming UV disinfection, Grand Rapids WWTP grit improvements, Middleville WWTP SBR expansion


Rohde Construction Co. Inc. 4087 Brockton Ave. SE Kentwood 49512 p (616) 698-0880 f 698-1850

Mark Rohde

$67M DND


570,000 DND

Preconstruction services, multi-family 28w Phase II, Authentix at Quincy, HOM Flats at apartment/condo new construction, Felch multi-family rehab/adaptive reuse/hist. rehab, multi-family student/senior/ assisted living, commercial construction


Erhardt Construction 6060 Fulton St. East Ada 49301 p (616) 676-1222 f 676-1676

Benjamin Wickstrom

$60M $46M



Commercial and high-end residential Special Olympics of Michigan, D.A. Blodgett - St. construction, construction management John's, Lowell YMCA, West Michigan Whitecaps, and general contracting, design-build, Traverse City Whiskey Co. facility solutions, custom cabinetry and millwork


a.j. Veneklasen Inc. 5000 Kendrick St. SE Grand Rapids 49512 p (616) 957-3731 f 957-4085

Chris Veneklasen

$48M $39M



VeneBuilt, design build, construction management, steel erection, general trades

American Family Care, Lofts@128, Aspire Communities, Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, Mobile Defenders


Orion Construction Inc. 32 Market Ave. SW, Suite 200 Grand Rapids 49503 p (616) 464-1740 f 464-1742

Roger Rehkopf DuWayne Johnson Jeff Smigielski Kathleen Ringnalda Brad Walsh

$42M $73M



Construction management, general contracting, design/build, preconstruction services, real estate and financial incentive assistance

The Reserve Flats, Eastern Lofts, Tommy's Boats, BlueSky Vision, Tinney Automotive, Cedar Springs Fire Department, The Holiday Bar, Uptown Church, Gage USA


Pinnacle Construction Group Inc. 1000 Front Ave. NW Grand Rapids 49504 p (616) 451-0500 f 451-0860

Michael Garrett

$41M $36M




World Renew, Samaritas, AGO, Red Water Clubs, Natural Choice Foods, Med Bio, Alpine Fire Station,


Lakewood Construction 11253 James St. Holland 49424 p (616) 392-6923 f 692-7747

Nick Nykerk

$40.1M $33M


299,000 502,000

Granger Construction Company 940 Monroe Ave. NW, Suite 142 Grand Rapids 49503 p (616) 454-2900 f 454-9700

Glenn Simon Jim Johnson Brad Hesche


Cherry Health, Home2Suites Byron Center, John Ball Zoo, Target Stores, Trailer X-press

ABC WMCI, King Milling Flour HQ, Spartan Nash office, Plymouth Road, Animal Clinic, Request Foods, Tesa Tape Inc., Pine Rest 68th St. Campus, Dutton CS South Addition, Moline SC Addition, South Christian school addition, West Michigan Beef, Cornerstone Church Wyoming, Kraft Heinz, J Rettenmaier USA addition, Schreiber Foods addition

General contracting, construction Speedrack Products Group, Walker Manufacturing management, design/build, build to suit, facility, 280,000 s.f. new warehouse & office site development building, 470 Market Avenue Apartments, redevelopment of 180,000 s.f. vacant brick & wood warehouse into 173 new apartments, Fairfield Inn new hotel, Walker, Grand Rapids Aseptic Manufacturing new warehouse & offices, Viking Products new warehouse & offices

Design build, construction management, Holland Aquatic Center, Gentex, Metal Flow, Ivy architecture, carpentry, steel House event center, Hope College housing

Rockford Construction’s Shane Napper was promoted to chief operating officer over all Rockford divisions. He continues to serve as the president of construction.

New addition Owen-Ames-Kimball recently hired Mark Arroyo, project superintendent; Shaun Mays, assistant project superintendent; Doug Paulsen, project superintendent; Gram Price, laborer; Charlie Snow, project superintendent; and Anastasia Wojcik, assistant project manager.

Retirement Pioneer Construction’s Jose Flores recently retired after 23 years with the company.

Design award The Marriott Residence Inn in Grand Rapids received the 2022 Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute Design Award for Best Hotel/Motel Building. Wolverine Building Group served as the general contractor.



$39.74M $40.47M



Design build, contract management, integrated project delivery, general contracting and self-perform concrete/ general trades

Spectrum Health (multiple), Ferris State Center for Athletics Performance, Grand Rapids Community College ATC Piazza, Ottawa County Justice

Download this list now at in Excel or PDF format. The Book of Lists and other lists are also available.



FEBRUARY 7, 2022

Top Area General Contractors

Career ends

(RANKED BY 2021 WEST MICHIGAN REVENUE) 2021 2020 W. Mich. Top W. Mich. executive revenue 18

CD Barnes Construction 3437 Eastern Ave. SE Grand Rapids 49508 p (616) 241-4491 f 241-1177


New/ rehabbed No. of W. Mich. square footage employees in 2021 Type of services offered

Major building projects

Todd Oosting Tom Berry

$36M $32M




Legacies Independent Living, Rivertown Commons Milestones

Beckering Construction Inc. 650 44th St. SE Grand Rapids 49548 p (616) 532-8191 f 532-8193

David Beckering

$22M $10.21M


143,000 123,000

Construction management, general contracting, design/build

Plainwell Community Schools Bond Projects, Ravenna Public Schools Bond Projects, Great Lakes Outpost & Firehouse Guitars


DeJager Construction Inc. 75 60th St. SW Wyoming 49548 p (616) 530-0060 f 530-8619

Dan DeJager

$20.4M $13.1M


12,676 548,149

General contracting focused on retail and DND commercial construction.


Nugent Builders Inc. 11625 Northland Drive NE Rockford 49341 p (616) 866-7663 f 866-7726

Matt McCambridge Aaron Whalen

$18M $18M


70,000 50,000

General contracting, general trades, construction management, new home construction and remodeling


Vander Kodde Construction Co. Inc. 441 - 44th St. SW Grand Rapids 49548 p (616) 538-7470 f 538-9290

Kyle Vander Kodde Tim Vander Kodde

$7.19M DND



General contractor, general trades, pre- Terrytown RV, The Stray, Tri-Unity Chr School, engineered metal buildings Vergennes Township offices, Rockford athletic improvements general trades


Tru Building Concepts 660 Cascade West Pkwy. SE Grand Rapids 49546 p (616)765-2300 f 765-2301

John Madura

$5.37M $4.2M



General contracting

Union Bank, Woodland Mall, Edward Jones, Sunrise Senior Living, Mr+Mrs Crab Restaurant

AIC Insurance Services 7275 Bronson St. SE Ada 49301 p (888) 695-9777 f 676-4010

Mark Vickery Jason McNamara Tom VanderVelde Stacy Higgins Samantha Lamberts Terie Vickery Jacob Vickery




Commercial insurance, personal insurance, group health, life insurance and risk management


Herrington Excavating, Flat River Community Library, Lowell Middle School, Consumers Credit Union, Calvin College



Dan Vos Construction’s Tim Nederhoed recently retired after being a carpenter at the company for over 45 years.

Family business Kyle Vander Kodde recently purchased Vander Kodde Construction from his father, Tim Vander Kodde, and his uncle, Tom Vander Kodde.



Download this list now at in Excel or PDF format.

The Grand Rapids Business Journal list of top area general contractors, ranked by 2021 West Michigan revenue, is the most comprehensive available. The list is based on responses to Business Journal surveys. The Business Journal defines "West Michigan" as Allegan, Kent, Ottawa and Muskegon counties. The Business Journal surveyed 80 companies; 25 returned surveys and 24 are listed. To be considered for future lists, email DND = Did not disclose



The Book of Lists and other lists are also available.

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FEBRUARY 7, 2022

Lowe discovers a heart to serve

Sara Lowe said working with underserved populations in South America and South Africa during her younger years ignited her passion to become a caregiver later in life. Photo courtesy of Emmanuel Hospice.

Executive director of Emmanuel Hospice describes herself as a ‘glass-half-full’ type of person. Chelsea Carter


ow do you want to live? This has become an integral question for someone like Sara Lowe, both in her personal and professional life. A daughter of two public-school teachers, Lowe’s passion for giving back was instilled in her at a young age. Whether volunteering with her parents and sister at church or a local food pantry, her family always made service a priority. “I think like for most people, our story begins with the people who we are surrounded by while we were growing up, and so that’s no different for me,” Lowe said. Her family remains focused on serving others, and she said the role that giving back plays in her family’s life is alive and well to this day. Her parents continue to volunteer in their retired years, she said, and her sister, now living in Nashville, also remains an involved and engaged member of her community. “That has just been a part of who we are as a family unit, (and) that doesn’t happen by accident,” Lowe said. It was in middle school that Lowe was presented with her first opportunity to travel abroad and share her altruistic nature with underserved communities in the rainforest of Peru. She later joined a mission trip to Honduras in high school and continued to pursue international service in a study abroad program in her undergrad years, where she spent time helping women suffering from HIV and AIDS at a clinic in South Africa. Lowe credits these experiences with “changing her lens” and fueling not just her passion, but a lifestyle of serving and being a caregiver to others. She is the executive director of Emmanuel Hospice, a provider of compassionate end-of-life care for patients and their families, which served nearly 700 patients in eight

West Michigan counties in 2021. Since 2012, she has led a team that now consists of 85 individuals to respond to community needs in pursuit of the organization’s mission as an interfaith partnership providing spiritual and physical care and creating a peaceful experience for the dying and their loved ones. Lowe said her work has instilled a profound sense of gratitude and affords her a unique perspective on life. “I think when you do this work, you’re reminded time is limited for each of us here. I think most people would probably describe me as someone who can find joy in most anything and as a glass-half-full type of person, because none of us are guaranteed tomorrow,” she said. “And so, part of the personal gift of the work is the perspective it gives you on life.” Though she obtained her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in social work from Grand Valley State University where she also led the Student Association of Social Workers, she considers herself “lucky” for getting a job in her desired field right out of college and finding herself in the leadership position she’s in today. Lowe recalls walking into her first day as a social worker at the Ingham County Medical Care Facility and wondering how she would ever remember everyone’s name and further, how she would build a relationship with each person. “Then when I went back to grad school and left there about a year and a half later. I knew each of their names and was in a relationship with each of them,” Lowe said. It also was at that same medical care facility where she discovered her passion for working with the elderly and those approaching the end of their lives following her first hospice experience. “I remember sitting at my first bedside of someone who was coming to the end of their life. So, you know, it was the active stage of

SARA LOWE Organization: Emmanuel Hospice Position: Executive Director Age: 41 Birthplace: Holland Residence: Grand Rapids Family: Husband, Elliott; daughter, Avery; son, Hudson; and “fur baby” Bailey Business/community involvement: board member of Home Care and Hospice Association of Michigan; member of Rotary Club of Grand Rapids; president of North Kent Aquatic team Biggest career break: The opportunity to be a part of the formation and growth of a Emmanuel Hospice. “To be a part of really its roots and its growth has given me an incredible number of opportunities to grow and expand my skillset and learn from people that have walked alongside me. This has just been a really incredible opportunity to have this job.”


dying. And I felt just so privileged and honored to be there in that very personal moment in time, and I just knew that part of my next step needed to be hospice,” Lowe said. “I could walk you right to that room I was in at that time, if I walked in that building again today.” With her newly discovered passion for hospice care, Lowe obtained her master’s degree and was hired at In House Hospice, which she refers to as a hospice startup serving Grand Rapids at the time. Although she was hired as a social worker for the company in 2006 without any direct hospice experience, she went on to learn the ins and outs of hospice care, from social work and volunteer coordination to grief support, intake and community outreach. “I really am so grateful for the person who hired me into that job, her name is Brenda Schoenherr. And we continue to work together as colleagues now and she continues to work in the hospice field, as do I. And I’m so grateful for her taking a chance on someone who was a new grad without any direct hospice experience and to give me that opportunity,” Lowe said. She worked for In House Hospice until 2010 and later was hired as the director of social services for St. Ann’s Home in Grand Rapids. Though her heart was still with hospice care, the on-site day care offered by St. Ann’s was optimal with her young children at the time, and she knew she could

remain connected to her passion of making a difference for people approaching the end of their life. Lowe respected that the organization did everything it could to ensure the environment for a person approaching the end of their life was calm, peaceful and a place where they could be compassionately honored for who they are and what they’ve done, as well as a place where the family feels supported. “The sisters (of St. Ann’s) are on-site and their convent is right there, and they live where people receive care from them. Every person there is like an extension of their family, and they really look at death as the beginning and not an end,” Lowe said. “So, when you do that, when you approach death in that way, it feels different. And while there’s definitely an acknowledgment of the sadness and grief of losing someone here, there is also a celebration of the good work they’ve done while they’ve been here.” Shortly after joining the organization, it was made clear to her that part of St. Ann’s organizational plan was to take its special endof-life care and offer it to the larger community beyond its walls. It was then that she moved into a business development role alongside organizational leadership to pursue the expansion of hospice care and other growth initiatives without having obtained any prior experience in executive governance, starting a business, or rais-

ing money. “There’s a lot of times in our lives where we can say we make plans, and then, you know, we make plans and then God laughs,” she said. Derived from the shared vision of how the organization could reach and impact more people, she and the St. Ann’s team pursued partnerships with other senior living communities with the same values. From there, Lowe was entrusted with a startup and a first-time joint venture to launch Emmanuel Hospice as its executive director, which also brought in Clark Retirement, UMRC/Porter Hills and Sunset Retirement Community. She credits the board and leadership of all four organizations past and present for being a large part of the success of Emmanuel Hospice, as well as her development into the leader she is today. Though her path to becoming the leader of an organization centered on her passion may have been unconventional, Lowe said she knows she’s in the right place. “I kind of laugh when I think this is the only job I’ve ever had that I never applied for. … Again, all of this is because of the people inside of St Ann’s. Sister Gabriela (and former executive director) Steve Rolston were willing at that time to take a chance on me and trust their part of the vision for hospice with me, and I’m just so grateful to (them) for trusting me with that,” Lowe said.

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FEBRUARY 7, 2022


Kids’ Food Basket celebrates milestone anniversary Childhood hunger nonprofit strives to be ‘better than the day before.’ Chelsea Carter

A lot has happened at Kids’ Food Basket over the past 20 years. Throughout 2022, Kids’ Food Basket (KFB) welcomes the community to celebrate the organization’s collective impact of providing nutritious meals to local families with the help of countless West Michigan organizations and community members. The Grand Rapids organization began in 2002 when its founder, Mary K. Hoodhood, received a phone call from a local principal who said students were going into the cafeteria after school searchClark Whitney ing for food to take home. With $3,000, a few volunteers and a mission to feed hungry kids in her community, the KFB started with feeding 125 students at two Kent County schools. Today, under the leadership of President and CEO Bridget Clark Whitney, the organization pro-

In fiscal year 2021, Kids’ Food Basket served more than 1.3 million healthy meals through its Sack Supper model, providing up to five days’ worth of food in a decorated brown paper bag to community members. Courtesy Hannah Grant Kids’ Food Basket

vides approximately 9,300 meals every day to kids and families in Kent, Muskegon, Ottawa and Allegan counties. “The whole year of our 20th is really our anniversary date,” Clark Whitney said. “We didn’t become a 501(c)3 until August of 2002, but the program started a few months before then. So, we’re really just using the whole year to celebrate, which is a cool opportunity as well

to engage our West Michigan community — because it’s only been because of the generosity and the real community spirit of the West Michigan community that we’ve been able to grow.” The 20-year celebration will be incorporated into familiar KFB events such as its Brown Bag Decorating Day and Feast for Kids, while also featuring a series of new events that will be held at

varying locations, from the 10acre sustainable farm at its Grand Rapids headquarters, to areas on the lakeshore. Event schedules and information will be released throughout the year on the organization’s website and social media platforms. “So many people in West Michigan have touched the Kids’ Food Basket mission, whether it’s been through giving of their time by

volunteering or decorating sack supper bags or donating funds or really just engaging in the mission of nourishing our children,” Clark Whitney said. “So much of West Michigan has engaged, so we really want to include as many people as possible in these events because it’s really been that West Michigan spirit, which is the catalyst for our growth.” In fiscal year 2021, the organization served more than 1.3 million healthy meals to West Michigan families through its flagship Sack Supper model, providing up to five days’ worth of food in a decorated brown paper bag to community members, and other “nourish” food provisioning programs including Family Food Boxes with ready-to-eat meals for entire families and Homeless Response meals donated to local shelters including Mel Trotter Ministries and Family Promise of Grand Rapids. The organization also launched its Ground Up Learning Lab last year to enhance its “learn” core value, which aims to promote a deeper understanding of racial, economic and systemic barriers to food equity. The learning lab provides a series of interactive lessons for students, teaching them home gardening skills and encouraging community engagement, sustainability and healthy lifestyle habits. In its first year, the program saw more than 3,600 students and already has received CONTINUED ON PAGE 17

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FEBRUARY 7, 2022


Wolverine partnership promotes skilled trades Boot/apparel and speaker series aims to help build next generation of trades workers. Rachel Watson

Rockford-based footwear and apparel manufacturer Wolverine Worldwide is launching a partnership it hopes will educate and inspire young people to learn more about the skilled trades as a potential career path. In partnership with New Orleans-based unCommon Construction — a nonprofit that works with paid and for-credit high school apprentices to build houses and gain technical, professional and personal skills — Wolverine is launching a special collaboration to benefit high school students interested in pursuing careers in the skilled trades. The initiative is part of Wolverine’s Project Bootstrap program, which has celebrated and supported those choosing to pursue a path in the skilled trades through a variety of efforts, including scholarships and awareness initiatives, since 2014. According to a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics fact sheet, marketplace demand for skilled trades will continue growing through 2030, resulting in the creation of nearly 400,000 jobs. However, ac-

New Orleans-based unCommon Construction partners with Wolverine Worldwide to help students interested in pursuing careers in the skilled trades. Courtesy Wolverine Worldwide

cording to a survey conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Wolverine from Dec. 16-21 with a panel of 2,000 American high school students, the pipeline of new trades professionals doesn’t align with the demand. While almost three-quarters (72%) of current high school students believe it’s important to

consider alternative options to a traditional four-year college, just 30% of students have considered vocational/trade schools, the survey found. More than half (51%) say “I don’t know enough about it” as their reason for not considering enrolling. At the same time, four in five

(79%) of students said they believe vocational skills should be taught in high schools, indicating interest in learning more about the skills needed to fulfill careers in the trades. “It’s imperative we reach students in more relevant ways so they can learn more about the skilled trades and consider them as

a potential future path,” said Tom Kennedy, global brand president for Wolverine. “Organizations like unCommon Construction introduce kids to the rich opportunities to be found in the trades that they aren’t learning about in school.” Melanie Dohrmann, brand marketing senior specialist at Wolverine, said Wolverine first learned about unCommon Construction in 2017 after being introduced through a mutual connection. “We crashed a job site and gave all the apprentices boots as a way to recognize and thank them for their hard work,” she said. “Over the past five years, it’s grown into more than just providing boots to apprentices. We’ve shared our aligned purposes on inspiring the next generation of trade workers through education and just overall awareness of the opportunities that skilled trades provide, so together, through this latest campaign, we’re aiming at what unCommon has done for high school students in the New Orleans area and amplifying and replicating that on a larger scale across the nation.” As part of the new initiative, unCommon Construction apprentices collaborated with the bootmaker to develop a new unCommon Construction boot, designed after months spent wearing Wolverine’s boots on the job learning CONTINUED ON PAGE 19

Flexco started a family-owned Flexco started as as a family-owned business in Illinois. Now, a century business in Illinois. Now, overover a century later, Manager of Lean Operations later, Manager of Lean Operations Facilities, Duane Bjork is helping andand Facilities, Duane Bjork is helping lead company in Michigan. lead the the company in Michigan. Duane’s individual stories and experience TrentTrent and and Duane’s individual stories and experience an excellent working relationship. lead lead to anto excellent working relationship. The The wasdisposition the disposition of Flexco’s resultresult was the of Flexco’s prior prior two two Grand Rapids facilities, andacquisition the acquisition Grand Rapids facilities, and the of land in Walker, MI where of land in Walker, MI where they they just just completed the construction of world their world completed the construction of their manufacturing facility. classclass manufacturing facility. brand building allows “Our“Our brand new new building allows us us to have a fully integrated facility to have a fully integrated facility that that brings of resources our resources brings all ofallour underunder one one All while providing our employees roof. roof. All while providing our employees a safe, innovative workplace enabling a safe, innovative workplace enabling to serve our customers worldwide.” us tous serve our customers worldwide.”

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FEBRUARY 7, 2022


GUEST COLUMN Steven Warren

State needs long-term funding solution for roads


ow that the legislature and governor have approved a $1.5 billion program to attract new business to Michigan, one important issue remains: If Michigan wants to entice new economic development, the condition of our county road system must be addressed. Roads under the jurisdiction of county road agencies comprise 75% of Michigan’s public road network; their condition directly correlates to the image of a community and its appeal to potential investors. The County Road Association of Michigan’s 2021 County Road Investment Plan indicates that an additional $1.8 billion annually is needed to restore the county and local roads under its statutory responsibility. One may assume that the recently enacted $1.2 trillion federal surface transportation program, better known as the “Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA),” is the long-awaited answer. While this, indeed, is a large sum, I do not foresee the anticipated increase designated for county road agencies to have the transformational impact that is needed. Most of the funding for roads in the IIJA is, in fact, the reauthorization of funding designated under the traditional federal transportation program. Of the $2 billion per year allocated to Michigan through 2026, the actual annual increase equates to about $330 million. The bulk of the new money will be used on state highways because, by formula, MDOT receives 75% of federal funds and the remaining 25%

is distributed among 83 county road agencies, 276 cities and 257 villages. Furthermore, the use of federal funding for road improvements is restricted to only a portion of Michigan’s public road network. In Kent County, for example, federal funds only can be used on 665 miles of the total 1,975 miles of county roads. That leaves 1,310 miles ineligible to benefit from the increase in federal dollars. CRA’s 2021 County Road Investment Plan indicates that 48% of federal aid-eligible county roads are in poor condition. Of roads not eligible for federal aid, 54% are in poor condition. Adding to the challenge is the loss of revenue to local transportation agencies from the Michigan Transportation Fund (MTF) that has occurred as a side effect of COVID-19. In Kent County, for example, the decreases in vehicle registration fees and gas tax will lead to an estimated 15% revenue decrease over three years compared to pre-pandemic projections. Not surprisingly, this level of revenue decrease is being experienced by other county road agencies throughout the state and negatively impacts the ability to improve county roads and provide essential services to keep them in good condition. As we begin the new year, my hope is that legislative leaders address the issue of county road funding with the same sense of urgency and bipartisanship that they demonstrated with the new

business attraction program. Specifically, I ask them to consider the following: 1. Provide a supplemental allocation of funds during 2022 to replace lost MTF revenue. 2. Oppose efforts to rescind the indexing of the fuel tax enacted in

2015. 3. Develop long-term funding solution that addresses the backlog of county road needs. Steven Warren is managing director of the Kent County Road Commission.





MI VIEW WEST Garth Kriewall

Michigan journalist,

Danielle Nelson: Rachel Watson: Chelsea Carter: STATE LEGISLATIVE REPORTER

Capital News Service: GRAPHIC DESIGNERS


Michael Buck, Johnny Quirin ADVERTISING DIRECTOR


Todd Anderson: Jessica Laidlaw: Renee Looman: Maddy Messerly: DIRECTOR OF AUDIENCE DEVELOPMENT

Michelle VanArman:


Melissa Novak:


Our supply chain issues are pretty localized. Best we can figure, the problem is somewhere between Otsego and Fennville.

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Ahmed Aljanabi Dana MacDonald Maryan Toma


GUEST COLUMN Jonathan Lauderbach

Mediation is win-win option for civil disputes during pandemic


ven before the COVID-19 pandemic gripped the country, trial courts nationwide had struggled for years with civil docket backlogs. These backlogs have only increased during the pandemic, with courts across the state again suspending jury trials due to the omicron surge. Despite the new and innovative technologies Michigan’s trial courts adopted to keep many court functions moving before the latest shutdown, increased backlogs in civil jury trials are inevitable. This leaves litigants and lawyers alike pondering their options for resolution outside the courtroom. One option that has grown in popularity over the past decade or so is mediation, also known as facilitation. This process involves a neutral mediator who can help the parties strike their own settlement on their own terms. The mediator does this by getting people on all sides of the dispute talking and identifying the pros and cons, including the risks of litigation vs. a negotiated settlement. Unlike a civil lawsuit that goes to trial and is decided by a judge or jury, a mediator is a facilitator who has no power to render a resolution to the conflict. The resolution is agreed upon by the parties and something they own vs. handed

down by someone else. While arbitration is the first and best-known option for resolving a civil dispute — it involves a neutral decision-maker or panel and the parties agree the decision is binding — there’s still a winner and a loser. The difference from a civil trial? There’s no appeal process. While it may sound strange, the ideal outcome in any dispute is when everyone walks away with varying degrees of unhappiness. This is exactly what happens in a mediation settlement, which rarely results in one side walking away feeling like it has lost. By striking their own deal, the parties buy in to the process and, while each may feel like they have “left money on the table,” they nonetheless “own” the outcome. Importantly, mediated settlements always yield finality, typically at a fraction of the cost of litigation. Mediation caps the risk for all parties and takes the uncertainty out of the process. Plus, it’s a voluntary process void of any requirement to reach an agreement. If no agreement is reached, the parties still can go to trial. The top 10 benefits of mediation include: 1. Greater control: Each party is directly involved in negotiating its own agreement and no settlement can be imposed, enabling the par-

ties to achieve their strategic objectives. 2. Faster outcome: Mediation often is scheduled and completed much more quickly than court cases, especially amid the previously mentioned backlogs and staffing shortages. 3. Reduced costs: A mediated settlement ends the litigation, significantly reducing the costs to the parties when compared to trying the case in court. While a trial brings finality in a dispute — someone wins and someone loses — the decision can be appealed and tried again, which can result in a lengthy and expensive court battle. 4. Confidentiality: Everything said during mediation is confidential to the parties — unless specifically agreed upon otherwise. 5. Preserved or restored relationships: Misunderstandings can be overcome and communication is improved between the parties. 6. Mutual benefit: Each party walks away more satisfied with the outcome, significantly reducing

the need for additional legal action. 7. Convenience: Mediation takes place at a venue convenient for all parties. 8. Neutral and safe space: Each party gets the opportunity to have its voice heard, which allows the parties to work past the conflict and seek resolution. 9. Voluntary: Any party may withdraw from mediation at any time. 10. Foundation of cooperation: Mediation provides a forum for future problem-solving. Mediation can be a win-win option in civil disputes as parties and the courts continue to navigate the pandemic. Jonathan Lauderbach is executive partner leading the Midland office of Warner Norcross + Judd LLP. A former Midland County Circuit Judge, he concentrates his practice in commercial litigation and also regularly serves as a mediator in civil disputes. He can be reached at jlauderbach@

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FEBRUARY 7, 2022



The small business crisis: better child care SBAM data reveals


t is no secret that for small businesses struggling to staff up, the lack of available and affordable child care has been a leading and persistent barrier, further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Small Business Association of Michigan recognizes that this is both a workforce problem and an early education policy issue. Child care providers play a key role in providing a vital foundation for our children to enter our K-12 system, prepared and ready for success. Those children go on to be our workforce of tomorrow. For parents of young children, the availability of quality, reliable child care is an essential part of planning a consistent work schedule. When faced with a disruption of child care services, parents must pivot to find alternatives, often requiring a parent to stay home until a new solution is in place. For parents who can successfully work remotely, the disruption can be inconvenient, but doable. For those who must go to the workplace, the alternatives can be sparse, or even nonexistent. This continual change is creating significant challenges for small businesses across the state.

I recently heard about these issues firsthand from Tom Mathison, owner of Mathison | Mathison Architects in Grand Rapids. Tom shared with me that his firm must adjust its operations daily due to child care issues. While Mathison | Mathison Architects has been able to provide employees with necessary resources to work at home, child care issues prevent team collaboration and lead to a lack of reliability to plan for their team and clients. In the COVID age, this is especially true, not just for pre-K children, but for all children. Employees continue to experience disruptions as schools and after-school care are in flux. The sudden closing of schools and/or bus routes can change daily plans radically. And in businesses where remote work is not possible, last-minute changes due to child care leave small businesses scrambling to cover shifts. While businesses of all shapes and sizes have felt this strain, this issue truly hits home for our small businesses. Child care and the uncertainty that surrounds the industry, as well as the K-12 system, is felt at a larger scale when you have a small workforce.

That is why we are working with the newly formed Childcare Providers Association of Michigan to advocate for providers and help navigate the complexities of child care for small businesses. Addressing child care issues is critical to the success of both the current workforce and the employees of tomorrow. The good news is that the legislature and governor have made tremendous strides on this issue recently, between innovative programs, additional financial support and legislation to better our regulatory structure. The Small Business Association of Michigan applauds these wins and hopes to be a continued ally as we tackle this bipartisan issue head-on to properly support Michigan small businesses, employees and their families. We have a terrific opportunity to help business owners like Tom Mathison and lead the way in addressing this critical need. Together we can ensure that both employees and small businesses can be successful. Brian Calley is president and CEO of Small Business Association of Michigan.

GUEST COLUMN Diane Durance

small business obstacles CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1

small businesses, conducted Jan. 10-17, also revealed: •35% of small businesses have experienced a decrease in their workforce size, with 12% seeing a decrease of more than 20%. •75% of small businesses have seen the cost of compensation increase in the past year. •67% of small businesses have social distancing protocols in place for employees. •87% of small businesses are experiencing higher costs than before the pandemic, including 43% that report costs are substantially higher. •14% of small businesses still are feeling pessimistic about the long-term survival of their business, slightly down from 16% in September. •33% of small businesses have flexible hybrid systems in place, allowing for a mixture of remote and in-person work. The results of this survey come just a month after SBAM in its fall Entrepreneurship Score Card report found the recovery of Michigan’s small businesses continues to lag behind the national recovery, according to a previous Business Journal story.

Calley told the Business Journal at the time the workforce shortages small businesses are experiencing today have been “20 years in the making.”

“History tells us that a growing economy does not solve the labor force participation rate problem that we find ourselves facing today.” Brian Calley “History tells us that a growing economy does not solve the labor force participation rate problem that we find ourselves facing today,” he said. He said although the market likely will find its equilibrium, there will be “winners and losers” in the process. SBAM strives to serve Michigan’s small business community through advocacy, collaboration and buying power. The Lansing-based organization serves over 28,000 members in all 83 counties of Michigan.

Now is the time for Michigan to fuel more growth in venture funding


here is an axiom about opportunity in the business world — strike when the iron is hot. The point it conveys to most business owners is to seize opportunity when conditions are best, optimizing the chances for success. It’s something state leaders should keep in mind in the days ahead as it relates to supporting Michigan’s angel investing and venture capital industries. In Michigan, key venture capital investment numbers are trending upward, which is great news for the economic strength of our state, but there is a looming cloud. While angel investing and venture capital activity in 2021 is expected to top 2020 levels when final numbers are tallied, the fact is demand is outpacing supply. The 2021 Michigan Venture Capital Association Research Report estimated that $1.2 billion of additional venture capital will be needed over the next two years to adequately fund Michigan’s growing pipeline of innovative startup companies. That level of business growth is virtually unprecedented in Michigan. This assessment comes as Gov. Gretchen Whitmer proposes allocating a portion of the $200 million in the Startup Resiliency Initiative to support angel investing and venture capital activities. In doing so, Michigan residents would effectively become an investment partner with

private investors, benefitting early-stage entrepreneurs. If the plan is eventually approved by the legislature, it would be a powerful show of support that would make our state far more competitive in the future. Since the governor’s plan was introduced in August, some opponents of the plan have questioned the wisdom of using governmental dollars to invest in the angel and venture capital industry. As someone who has worked in the VC sector here in Michigan and in other states, I can tell you the proposed state funding is vital and may actually not go far enough. Investors in California, New York, Texas and many other states stand ready to fill any VC funding shortfalls in Michigan. The conditions are ripe for entrepreneurial growth in Michigan. First, consider the rapid rise in health care advances as a result of the pandemic. Michigan is home to legacy companies like Pfizer, but also startup companies like HistoSonics, a University of Michigan tech spinout, and ADHD Online, a Hudsonville med tech company. These firms are prime examples of the innovation and rapid growth in this sector. Another significant industry undergoing change is the automotive sector. The speed of transition from carbon-burning engines to electric vehicles is driving new investments, innovations and entrepreneurs. The Jan. 25 announcement by General

Motors to invest $7 billion at four Michigan auto plants so that our state is the “hub” of electric vehicle development and manufacturing is a dramatic indicator of what’s to come. A third factor to consider is the exodus of workers leaving jobs to launch their own entrepreneurial venture. In many cases, highly skilled mid-level executives and technology experts are branching out in hopes of delivering new products to the marketplace. It’s hard to know exactly what the future holds for us, but it’s possible we could see exponential growth in the number of Michigan entrepreneurs and tech startups in the next 2-3 years. The recent upward trend in VC and angel investing in Michigan is a terrific sign for our state’s economic success, but we must continue to fuel the entrepreneurial ecosystem. If the public and private sectors don’t work together, there is a good chance future startup funding will come from others outside of Michigan, diminishing the overall economic benefit for our state. We can’t afford to let that happen. While the governor’s plan demands careful review and likely some modifications, our state leaders from both sides of the aisle would be wise to see the value of investing in future tech startups. It’s money well spent. Diane Durance is executive vice president of Michigan Capital Network.


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ways in a neighborhood that has experienced decades of inequity. SpringGR and Amplify GR have started collecting contact information from businesses and entrepreneurs who might be interested in occupying space at the Kzoo Station facility. The tenant interest form is available at kzoo-station. Danielle Williams, director of economic opportunities for Amplify GR, said the partners aren’t quite ready to start signing tenants, but they are conducting conversations and interviews with those who express interest. Amplify GR’s service area includes most of the 49507 ZIP code, and so Williams said she expects the entrepreneurs likely would be based in either Boston Square, Madison Square, Garfield Park, Alger Heights or Franklin/ Eastern. “The impetus for the project really came from neighbor feedback in two different areas,” she said. “One was that we have folks in the community who are existing food businesses, who are either working out of their home or who are working out of other kitchens across the area, and so there was a need for space that was closer to the neighborhood, as well as the space that would offer, in addition to the kitchen space, some technical assistance and resources for food businesses (and) a point-of-sale option for food businesses. “The other thing that really resonated with neighbors was the desire for more diverse food options in the neighborhood. … There were a lot of references to the old Boston House, and how people missed that environment of a neighborhood place where people could gather, could get food, could have good conversation, and so while this building won’t be able to provide all of those things right away or all at once, that was the energy that went into how this project Williams should feel.” With that in mind, there eventually will be a public-facing element of Kzoo Station, offering takeout and/or retail sales. Although Kzoo Station will be a small space, footprint-wise, Williams said the partners estimate they should be able to accommodate about 20 businesses, between those that want to use the kitchen for catering or packaging products for distribution full time and those that are more interested in SpringGR’s part-time technical assistance resources, training, classes or popup events. Williams said the space most-

ly will cater to earlier-stage entrepreneurs. “That’s where that technical assistance piece comes into play, whether it is looking for financing or figuring out how to package a product and distribute your product, or maybe you’re just looking to strengthen your culinary skills — those are all things that we want to be able to offer out of this space for businesses,” she said. Amplify GR and SpringGR are aware this project won’t be able to meet the needs of all the community’s entrepreneurs, so Williams said they will strive to connect the entrepreneurs that can’t operate at Kzoo Station to other underutilized kitchens in the community, such as those at churches or community centers. Williams said as Kzoo Station is an incubator, the hope is that it will constantly be graduating entrepreneurs and adding new ones. “The hope is that we’ll have businesses that will incubate in Kzoo Station that will grow out of that space and maybe grow into their own stall in the food hall, or into packaged goods, or into their own restaurant space,” she said. “We’re really hoping that this is a catalyst to other opportunities for neighbors and for businesses.” While there are other incubator kitchen concepts in West Michigan, such as the Grand Rapids Downtown Market’s incubator kitchen, the Can-Do Kitchen in Kalamazoo and Kitchen 242 in Muskegon (a partnership between the Muskegon Farmers Market and Michigan State University), Williams said Kzoo Station more closely follows a model similar to that of Purpose Built Communities, a national network of 28 communities of which Amplify GR is part, designed to take a place-based approach to community development. “We’ve had conversations with our partners in other cities who have either done something similar or who have experienced similar types of spaces,” she said. “They’re all a little bit different. … I think the real thing about this project that makes it unique is it’s drawing on the feedback and the needs of these residents and these neighbors.” Funding for the Kzoo Station is being provided through Amplify GR, which also received a $100,000 grant from the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) for equipment and services. The MDARD grant also will support the Kzoo Station chefs’ produce and dry good procurement from South East Market, which is across the street, in turn supporting the market’s supply chain of Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) farmers from Michigan. More information on Kzoo Station is at


FEBRUARY 7, 2022


Basketball’s return to GR not a slam dunk CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1

a firm decision to relocate its G League team to Detroit. In rapid succession, the NBA team publicly announced its intentions, unveiled a new home for the G League team at Wayne State University’s new $25 million basketball arena and, finally, acquired the Phoenix Suns’ affiliate, the Northern Arizona Suns, giving the Pistons ownership of an NBA G League team. The team was rebranded as the Motor City Cruise. With only a couple of years remaining in his hybrid agreement with the Pistons, Jbara was weighing his limited options of remaining in the NBA G League, which included finding another affiliate or operating as an independent team. While uncertainty plagued the Grand Rapids basketball organization, there was one thing Jbara knew for sure: The team would remain in Grand Rapids. “This is where the team started,” he said. “This is where people invested in me when I had no background and no experience in this, but I got the community to invest. Not only true investors in the business but obviously businesses spending time and families spending money. People invested in this. I do think (Grand Rapids) is a great city and I wanted to do everything I could to keep it here. All that said, I had no idea what was going to happen.” In addition to being unsure of what the future of the organization would hold, the COVID-19 pandemic became another major issue Jbara had to tackle head-on. “2019-20 season rolls around, and toward the beginning of the pandemic — March of 2020 — our season got canceled,” he said. “At that point, we had signed a twoyear extension with the Pistons, so we got a third of that season done and we went into the offseason. “Now COVID hits and now we have three things up in the air. ‘What is the status with the team?’

‘Are you going to make up the rest of that season?’ and ‘What happens for next season?’ We went into that summer of 2020 still having one more year under our belt not knowing, again, what we were going to do.” The then-Grand Rapids Drive opted out of the 2020-21 G League season, which was being held in an NBA-style bubble in Florida, which Jbara said was not financially beneficial for the organization. His decision to forgo the 202021 NBA G League season effectively ended the organization’s G League affiliation with the Detroit Pistons. Although the partnership ended, Jbara said he still did not know what the future of the organization would be. That level of uncertainty resulted in six investors divesting from the team. There were three NBA teams at the time without a G League affiliate: the Denver Nuggets, Portland Trail Blazers and Phoenix Suns. The first team Jbara reached out to was the Denver Nuggets in early 2021. Despite being more than 1,200 miles away, the Nuggets were the closest NBA organization to Grand Rapids. The Nuggets organization had never had an NBA G League affiliate or owned a G League team. Ben Tenzer, vice president of basketball operations for the Nuggets, said the team would send its players to the Miami Heat’s G League team in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, for development, but always yearned for its own team. Logistics were difficult, however. “We looked at places in Colorado, locally, to put our G League team,” he said. “We looked at other cities not in Colorado and it was just very challenging to find the sweet spot. The building is a big challenge because the league has very specific requirements on where they allow teams to play. We spent several years trying to figure out the best route to get our G League team.” Jbara sent what he described

as a “Hail Mary email” to Tenzer while he was visiting Denver, introducing himself and expressing his desire to become an NBA G League affiliate of the Nuggets. “I remember they were playing the Milwaukee Bucks that night,” he said. “It was a big game for them, and Ben took the time to respond to me and say, ‘Yeah, meet me at the arena tonight.’ I was like ‘Oh, my God!’ I thought the email was going to go to his junk box and if it didn’t, they played that night so there was no way these top-tier NBA guys would take a meeting with me.” Jbara was able to meet with Tenzer; Tim Connelly, president of basketball operations; and Calvin Booth, general manager. “We talked for two hours. Meanwhile, the Bucks game had started and we were still talking,” he said. “I was like, ‘Wow! This is incredible.’ They took this meeting with me, and we started laying the groundwork.” There also were connections. One of Jbara’s cousins was the in-game host for the Colorado Avalanche, an NHL team in Denver, which also is owned by the Nuggets’ owner, Stanley Kroenke. Still, that Nuggets-Bucks game was the first face-to-face meeting for both sides. Tenzer was familiar with the city of Grand Rapids and the Drive and had attended two games at the DeltaPlex for scouting purposes. “I knew that Grand Rapids was a successful minor league market and had successful teams before I met Steve,” he said. “I had always heard that they draw well in the community, but after talking to Steve it was obvious how good of a job they do, and it made it easier to want to work with him.” Because Jbara and his organization had established a basketball presence in Grand Rapids and formed numerous partnerships throughout the city, the logistics of having a team in Grand Rapids already were in place. There was a hotel for visiting teams, a practice

facility at Calvin University, housing for the players at The Grove and direct flights to and from Denver. Most importantly, there was a ready-made fan base. “The partnerships they have in town, I think, make things easier logistically. But honestly, the biggest factor was the attendance at games,” Tenzer said. “Having a game on a Wednesday night in January at an arena that is not empty is valuable for our players. The atmosphere is great, especially for a player that comes from the Nuggets and goes on assignment in Grand Rapids. It is hard. It is cold. It is a different atmosphere, and some players take it like it is a demotion, which isn’t true at all. There are challenges and it is a new situation for the player going, so knowing that the games are going to be exciting and there is going to be people who are going to show up and care, I think, is very important for our players to feel like the atmosphere is good. “A lot of teams, especially in the middle of the week, don’t draw well and I know on the weekends they are close to selling out most of those games. When you can count on a really good atmosphere, you feel like the players are going to work harder, they are just really going to commit to this experience because it is a successful thing in town, especially when they feel the love from the community. I feel like that is a huge benefit.” In April 2021, the Nuggets and the Grand Rapids Drive entered a single affiliation “hybrid” partnership beginning the with 2021-22 season. As a hybrid affiliate, the Nuggets control the basketball operations while Grand Rapids ownership and personnel control the franchise’s business operations and community engagement. “It was a long process to try to find a way to keep the team here,” Jbara said. “It is really good to have a dance partner again.” Jbara said the team has signed a three-year agreement with the

Nuggets that can be revisited every two years. The organization also added two new investors. The team eventually was rebranded as the Grand Rapids Gold and the Nuggets were tasked with establishing a roster of staff, players and coaches to open up the 2021-22 season. After two years without basketball in Grand Rapids, the Gold played six home games in 2021 that drew an average of 3,300 fans to the DeltaPlex. “We’ve had more marquee players than we have ever had total in the last seven years,” Jbara said. The team featured the likes of former NBA players and NBA champions Isaiah Thomas, Mario Chalmers, Nik Stauskas, Davon Reed, Lance Stephenson, Kenneth Faried, Tarik Black, Shabazz Muhammad and head coach Jason Terry. In addition to Reed, multiple players have earned call-ups from NBA teams including Chalmers and Stauskas (Miami Heat), Stephenson (Los Angeles Lakers, Indiana Pacers) and Thomas (Dallas Mavericks), who scored 42 points in his Gold debut. “The driving force behind us wanting to partner with Grand Rapids was the success they have had there and just how passionate they are about bringing a good product to the DeltaPlex, to the fans and to the community,” said Tenzer, who is now the vice president of the Gold in addition to his duties with the Nuggets. “How engaged they are in the community was a huge draw for us and it just seemed like they do things the right way and they really take pride in running things the right way. That was the biggest selling point. “Direct flights were important, and all these other things were important, but if we didn’t believe it was going to be a great partnership and they would be doing an amazing job on the ground there, I don’t know if it would have been easy to say yes.”

Kids’ Food Basket celebrates milestone anniversary CONTINUED FROM PAGE 12

national recognition by the United States Department of Agriculture as a phenomenal curriculum for getting kids engaged in healthy food and growing their own food, according to Clark Whitney. Clark Whitney said the organization doesn’t have an actual meal goal number for 2022 only because one of KFB’s core values is being accountable to the community. Growth in the new year will be focused on enhancing programming based on community needs and surrounding its five strategic focus areas which include nourish and learn programming, as well as its other pillars of grow, engage and advocate. “And so, what the community needs from us is how we respond, and that fluctuates. Oftentimes,

it fluctuates being based on, you know, something like a pandemic, or it fluctuates based on policy at a national level,” Clark Whitney said. “So, 1.3 million meals … we were very grateful to be able to do that. It’s obviously unfortunate that that need is out there, but we were grateful to be able to serve so many healthy meals and every single one of those 1.3 million meals was full of healthy, nourishing food for our kids and community members, for our families as well, that also includes family food boxes. So, our goals are around amplifying these five programs: nourish, grow, learn, engage and advocate.” The organization also has plans to continue to expand its presence in each of the counties it serves, with a particular emphasis on its growing lakeshore presence in Muskegon County. Clark Whit-

ney said that in Muskegon alone, there are 11 schools on KFB’s waitlist, and Muskegon Heights specifically has become a “food desert” with minimal access to fresh food. Currently, KFB’s Muskegon operations are conducted out of a church basement, which has been instrumental in addressing the needs in Muskegon up to this point, but Clark Whitney said a focus on lakeshore operations and program growth will be a key factor in addressing such major food disparities. Due to the ever-increasing community need, the organization itself has an ongoing need for volunteers, which Clark Whitney said are needed at all KFB locations. Volunteer opportunities are available at least six and sometimes seven days a week, and those looking to give back are encouraged to con-

tribute their “time, talent, radical love, and energy” toward providing healthy food for neighboring children and families in need. Clark Whitney said the organization is confident it will continue its trajectory of year-over-year growth that has marked the past 20 years. To ensure it stays on the path of remaining accountable to the community, KFB plans to continue hosting listening sessions to understand exactly what the community needs, and then designing its programming and work around how it can best serve and nourish those in need. “But then I also think that another big part of who we are and our big accomplishments over the 20 years is our value of being better than the day before. So, we are really, as an organization, committed to that every single day — being

better than the day before.” Clark Whitney said KFB’s value of being better than the day before is something she and her team are truly proud of. “And we’ve really held to that from our humble $3,000 beginnings and we have consistently gotten better both for the community that we serve and for the communities that need us, who we have yet to serve. And for our West Michigan community, we’re committed always to being better than the day before, we’re committed to being accountable to community and we are committed to honoring every single resource that comes in these doors.” Additional information regarding volunteer opportunities and the 20th-anniversary celebration of Kids’ Food Basket is available at


FEBRUARY 7, 2022


Business Leaders for Michigan updates benchmarks CONTINUED FROM PAGE 3

we need,” Donofrio said. “We’re in a unique moment in our history. Rarely do we have both economic uncertainty and a once-in-a-generation opportunity to invest in our future. We need smart investments in the coming months and consistent long-term strategies that focus on decades-long growth that won’t fall to the wayside depending on who is in office. Systemic, sustained changes, including in workforce and talent development and

customer service, are necessary to change our trajectory from being an average state to being top 10.” Other states are passing Michigan in several growth metrics. For example, while the nation saw a dip in the labor force participation rate over the past three years, Michigan’s decline was greater than the top 10 states (-2.7% for Michigan compared to -1.1% for the top 10). While the educational attainment rate climbed at a slightly faster pace than the top 10 states (5.4% compared to 5.2%), ad-

ditional work needs to be done to close the gap. Steps taken thus far include strong bipartisan measures to invest in training and degree programs and setting a goal of having 60% of the working-age population with a degree or credential by 2030. Business Leaders for Michigan’s eight key metrics provide a snapshot of what it takes to be a top 10 state and Michigan’s rankings for each (three-year growth rank shows Michigan’s pace of change over the past three years relative to

all other states): •Labor force participation: current rank 41st, three-year growth rank 44th •Educational attainment: rank 35th, three-year growth rank 20th •Net talent migration (same metric used for current rank and three-year percent growth rank due to high year-to-year volatility): rank 19th, three-year growth rank 19th •Net business creation: rank 20th, three-year growth rank 20th

•Business climate perception: 15th, three-year growth rank 2nd •Poverty: rank 34th, three-year growth rank 8th •Gross domestic product per capita: rank 36th, three-year growth rank 37th •Median household income: rank 35th, three-year growth rank 40th The data shows the top 10 states have fundamental strengths in two areas: 1) education and talent, which correlates to higher labor force participation, lower poverty rates and higher median household income; and 2) economic growth, which correlates to higher net migration and new business creation. Based on the benchmarking, Business Leaders for Michigan identified the following areas of opportunity for Michigan: Developing talent •Greatly increase growth in degrees and credentials — Use American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act funding to leapfrog other states in credential growth, attract talent to the state •Remove barriers to work — Drive additional labor force participation by removing barriers to work with investments in child care, broadband access and affordable housing •Improve the education system — Implement systemic improvements to the K-12 system that balance outcomes, resources and accountability. Use ARP funding to drive efficiencies, putting more money into the classroom for years to come, expanding teacher training and recruitment and investing in before/after school support and summer learning programs


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Investing in growth •Implement a long-term economic development strategy that focuses on improvements to Michigan’s competitiveness in four areas: site development, customer service, incentives and talent •Use one-time ARP funds for: a. Regional economic development, site development matching funds, transition to electric vehicles and support for entrepreneurship/innovation/scale-up activities b. Workforce training programs that fill talent gaps preventing business growth, support new job/ sites and provide pathways for career progression When developing additional measures to drive growth, Business Leaders said Michigan should look to other states’ successes. Tennessee has moved from 34th to 16th in the past five years, driven by improvements to its community college system, universal free college tuition programs, decades of investments in economic and site development, and a focus by its leaders on landing more emerging industries. “States have been investing for years to attract businesses, jobs and talent, and many states that aren’t top 10 today are well ahead of Michigan when it comes to investing for future growth. We can learn valuable lessons from them,” Donofrio said. “Unless Michigan urgently addresses our economic and educational challenges, we may fall so far behind that we will never catch up.”


Wolverine partnership promotes skilled trades CONTINUED FROM PAGE 13

practical skills and building houses in New Orleans. “At unCommon Construction, we see firsthand the interest and excitement young people experience learning about the opportunities they have in the skilled trades,” said Aaron Frumin, founder and executive director of unCommon Construction. “It’s rewarding to continue to partner with a brand like Wolverine that also recognizes the value of raising awareness of the trades while giving students the tools and access they need to be successful.” The expanded Project Bootstrap initiative is targeted to high school students who still are trying to decide on post-high school plans, with the idea the only way to close the skills gap is by connecting with future members of the skilled workforce. The program includes: •unCommon collection and funding scholarships: The Wolverine x unCommon Construction boot and apparel collection became available starting Jan. 25 on, and a portion of proceeds from the sale of each pair of boots or full collection kits will go toward funding new apprenticeships for the unCommon Construction program to further trades education for young people. This part of the partnership is at this time limited to the New Orleans area. •unCommon educational speaker series: Frumin will speak to high schools both virtually and in person to highlight the value of the skilled trades and the living-wage opportunities they provide. Students and educators can request information and invite Frumin to speak at their high school by visiting projectbootstrap or by emailing •Digital awareness campaign: Wolverine will launch an awareness campaign targeted toward

high schoolers featuring opportunities within the skilled trades. TikTok and Instagram influencers will post their experiences, and the brand will share content featuring unCommon Construction apprentices further amplified with paid media targeting the high school audience. •Trades education resources: Students, parents and educators can access a virtual toolbox of resources about pursuing a skilled trades career path at wolverine. com/projectbootstrap. Frumin said he is excited for more students around the world to embrace the “college is great, but it can wait” mindset that he adopted as a college dropout who founded a nonprofit and now has met three U.S. presidents. “The trades have shown me the world, and I’ve benefited greatly from that,” he said. “I kind of fell into the trades by happenstance and fell in love with it in the process. The content that I use when I talk with young people … is we want to make sure we’re following our own curiosity and assessing what’s best for us. Construction and the skilled trades (are) what did that for me, but it’s also unlocked opportunities for me to engage with a number of other industries.” Frumin said he believes there is some “snake oil” involved with the idea that success after high school must mean pursuing a four-year degree, and he is excited the students coming out of the unCommon apprenticeships will be sharing a different narrative through this campaign. “These stories of young people who are choosing this pathway are rare today, and because they’re rare, they’re remarkable, and we need to just have more young people see more examples of people who look like them, who represent them, making these decisions so that they can then see themselves following a similar pathway,” he said.

New construction school looks to fill industry needs CONTINUED FROM PAGE 4

gram, this is commercial carpentry. They’ll mock up a steel stud wall and they’ll put up a drywall, and they’ll work on a ceiling grid and those kinds of things. But the construction education way is typically individuals are employed and working in the field and getting those on-the-job training hours, practicing at work and working, and then coming to class one day a week or so to continue their education and furthering their knowledge of the trade so it is an earned-and-learned model.” Once students complete the program, they will receive a

WMCI certification and if they successfully pass the tests in all the modules for a specific level in the NCCER curriculum, students will then be certified at that level. “In the case of our high school program, in the Core program, they’ll receive a NCCER Core certification and that is a national portable certification that is meaningful across the country,” Schottke said. “If they want to go to a trade school that offers NCCER curriculum in Texas or California or anywhere they want to go, they can continue there and just take those credits with them just like a college credit and a transcript.”



FEBRUARY 7, 2022




FEBRUARY 7, 2022


Saginaw-based Andrews Hooper Pavlik PLC announced the promotion of Eric Ryan to partner in its Grand Rapids office.


1 Bold Step hired Caleb Radford as senior account executive and promoted Danielle Fedel to the new position of marketing operations manager.


Progressive AE announced a new partnership with renowned design architect Rand Harder. Harder has 36 years of national and international experience in large-scale planning, design and architecture of retail centers and mixed-use developments. The American Institute of Architects Grand Rapids announced the recent winners of its annual Honor Awards: Lynda Haith, 2021 Gold Award; Pamela Vanderploeg, 2021 Humanitarian Award; and Jenny Waugh, 2021 Honorary Allied Award. Project awards: Lucid Architecture, 2021 Residential Architecture Award; Integrated Architecture, 2021 Residential Architecture Award; GMB, 2021 Interior Architecture Award; Progressive AE, 2021 Interior Architecture Award; Fishbeck, 2021 Sustainability Design Award; Cornerstone Architects, 2021 Building Award; and Sean Guirey, 2021 Student Project Design Award. Benton Harbor-based Wightman announced the additions of Nate Weinberg as a field service technician; Ryan Smith as a field survey technician; Maria Carpita as a civil engineer; Jon Utter as a field service technician; and Matthew Mitchell as a field service Carpita technician.


United Methodist Retirement Communities and Porter Hills announced Lisa Lea was honored by LeadingAge Michigan as a Hometown Hero as community manager at

Fazakerley joins LMCU Molly Fazakerley joined Lake Michigan Credit Union as a loan originator in the Grand Haven area. Fazakerley attended Baker College and studied sign language interpreting before starting her career in finance. She then specialized in mortgages, receiving her Michigan Mortgage Originators License. Fazakerley started as a personal banker, but found her passion was more in lending. LMCU is the largest credit union in Michigan. It employs more than 1,500 people and its assets exceed $10 billion.

UMRC and Porter Hills’ Meadowlark Retirement Village in Sparta; and Lori Potter, chief operating officer for UMRC and Porter Hills, was honored as a Life Member of LeadingAge Michigan.


Arbor Financial Credit Union announced the addition of Heidi Walker as a mortgage loan originator. Sparta-based ChoiceOne Bank was recognized at the annual American Bankers Association Foundation award ceremony as a finalist in the Economic Inclusion category and received honorable mention for the Growers Program. Wyoming-based Honor Credit Union hired Kayleigh DeWitt as the Wyoming member center manager.


Advantage Commercial Real Estate Services announced the consolidation of Midwest Air Filter’s Lansing and Grand Rapids locations. The new 60,000-square-foot facility allows the business to grow and continue its 60-plus-year tradition of serving the local and regional community. Paul Laidler joined JetCo Federal as director of operations, and Matthew Schwallier as an account manager. The Better Business Bureau Serving Western Michigan announced Lisa Frohnapfel as its president and CEO,

FEB 7 World Affairs Council of Western Michigan Great Decisions Series. Topic is The War on Drugs and its Impact on the Environment, by Dr. Jennifer Devine, Texas State University. 6-7:15 p.m. in-person, Grand Rapids Community College Winser-Bottrail Applied Technology Center, 151 Fountain St. NE or virtually. Registration/information: worldmichigan. org/greatdecisions22.

Republican Congressman Fred Upton. Time TBD. Registration/information:

FEB 8 Michigan West Coast Chamber of Commerce Wake Up West Coast. Topic is The DoKnowBeTree: Understanding Your Unique Design for Leading, by Rodger Price, owner/founder, Leading by DESIGN. 8-9 a.m., Haworth Hotel, 2125 College Ave., Holland. Cost: $35/ members, $50/nonmembers. Registration/ information: (616) 928-9101 or colleen@

FEB. 14 World Affairs Council of Western Michigan Great Decisions Series. Topic is Myanmar and ASEAN, by Pratima Narayan, international human rights lawyer. 6-7:15 p.m. virtual only. Registration/ information:

FEB 10 Builders Exchange of Michigan Legal Series Webinar. Topic is Construction Surety Bonds. Noon-1:30 p.m. Cost: free. Registration/information: (616) 949-8650 or FEB 10 Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce Business Exchange Luncheon. Provides members and future members with facilitated networking. 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m., DeVos Center for Interprofessional Health, 333 Michigan St. NE. Cost: $35/members, $50/nonmembers. Registration/information: FEB 14 The Economic Club of Grand Rapids Zoom Webinar. Featuring Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Dingell and

FEB 14 West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum Luncheon. Topic: Sustainable Business Innovations in Holland. Noon1:30 p.m., Holland Civic Center. Cost: $18/ members, $24/nonmembers. Registration/ information:

FEB 14 Wyoming-Kentwood Area Chamber of Commerce Government Matters Zoom Meeting with Elected Officials. 8-9 a.m. Registration/information: (616) 531-5990 or FEB 15 Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce Diversity and Talent Zoom Webinar. Addressing various talent needs in the West Michigan business community. 9-10 a.m. Registration/information: bit. ly/2020ZoomDiveristy. FEB 15 Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce ATHENA Leadership Forum. Celebrating women in leadership with an emphasis on elevating professional women of color. 11:15 a.m.-1 p.m. Cost: $35/ members, $50/nonmembers. Location TBA. Registration/information: FebruaryATHENA.

seven months ahead of its official close. The campaign sits at $117.2 million

ations, homeowners associations and summer resorts throughout Michigan.


Warner Norcross + Judd LLP has been ranked one of the 2022 Best Law Firms by Best Lawyers and U.S. News & World Report.

Grand Rapids-based Crystal Flash Inc. acquired J-M Transports Inc. of Newark, Illinois. JMT, founded in 1983 by Barry Jacobson, is a fuels and propane transport provider serving Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan and other Midwestern states.


Altenergy Inc., a solar contractor with a branch in Grand Rapids, rebranded itself to Tiger Solar.


Calder Capital announced the additions of Jakob Simonds as lead analyst of its central services team and Jonathan Dykstra to its central services team.

replacing retired Phil Catlett. Frohnapfel comes from the financial service industry, where she has experience in sales, communications and community involvement with a focus on servant leadership.




Miller-Davis Co. president Rex Bell was inducted into the Michigan Construction Hall of Fame. The Associated General Contractors of Michigan nominated Bell for his many contributions to the construction industry and his community throughout his career.


Ferris State University’s Operations and Supply Management program has been recognized by as among the top 25 Supply Chain Management degree programs in the country. Ferris State University president David Eisler received the Hispanic Advocate of the Year Award during the 2021 César E. Chávez Hispanic Excellence Scholarship and Community Awards Gala. Ferris State University’s Now and Always Campaign co-chair Jeff Rowe announced his former business partner and fellow Ferris pharmacy alumnus Phil Hagerman has made a $5 million planned gift to Ferris that puts its $115 million comprehensive campaign goal

FEB 16 Hudsonville Area Chamber of Commerce Leads Group. A relationship-building group with the goal of establishing strong inter-business relationships to develop leads for the participating businesses. Noon-1 p.m., Hudsonville City Group. Cost: $50 per year, members only. Registration/information: FEB 22 Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce Chamber 101. Designed for members looking to begin, continue or further involvement with the chamber. 7:309 a.m., Grand Rapids Chamber. Cost: free. Registration/information: 2020Chamber101. FEB 22 Wyoming Business Leaders Meeting. 8-9 a.m., Marge’s Donut Den, 1751 28th St. SW, Wyoming. Registration/information: (616) 261-4500 or d.kuba@instantcashmi. com. FEB 24 AMDG Architects Online Speaker Series. Topic is Transforming The Future By Healing Child Victims of Abuse, Exploitation and Trafficking, by Cassandra Ma, founder/director, Reclaim 13. 12:30-1:30 p.m. Cost: free. Registration/ information: FEB 24 Business+Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Association Workshop. Topic is BIFMA 101 Compliant Overview. Noon-1 p.m. Registration/information: bit. ly/BIFMA101Compliant. FEB 24 Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce


The Center for Physical Rehabilitation and Therapy LP announced acquisition of Crossroads Physical Therapy at 3536 Meridian Crossing Drive, Suite 240, Okemos. The Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association recently honored the following at its Stars of the Industry Awards Dinner: The Women in Hospitality Leadership Award to Christina Post of Anna’s House in Grandville; The Heart of the House Award to chef Carl Clarke of AC Hotel in Grand Rapids; the 2021 Sustainability Recognition Award to Leigh Farrell of Suburban Inns in Grand Rapids; and the 2021 Front of the House Restaurant Star of the Year to Jaslyn Staten of Margaux restaurant in JW Marriott in Grand Rapids.


Plunkett Cooney has been named a Tier 1 National Best Law Firms in 11 practice areas by U.S. News – Best Lawyers in 2022. Bloom Sluggett PC has been selected for the seventh time as a 2022 Best Law Firm by U.S. News – Best Lawyers for its work in municipal law in the Grand Rapids metro region. Hirzel Law PLC opened a third office at 250 Monroe Ave NW, Suite 400. The firm represents condominium associ-

Leadership Lesson Breakfast. 7:30-9 a.m., Grand Rapids Chamber. Cost: $25/ members, $40/nonmembers. Registration/ information: FEB 24 Grand Rapids Public Library/Mercy Health program for people 65-plus. Topic is Ask a Doctor and Ask a Lawyer about Grief, Stress Management and Mood (Mental Health Issues). 11 a.m., Main Library, 111 Library St. NE. Registration/information: FEB 24 Michigan West Coast Chamber of Commerce Power Lunch. Grab your business cards and expand your network. 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m., City Flats Hotel, 61 7th St., Holland. Cost: $35/members, $50/ nonmembers. Registration/information: (616) 928-9101 or FEB 24 The Acton Institute Virtual Conference. Topic is Business Matters 2022, covering a synthesis of business insight and moral grounding. Noon-5 p.m. Cost: $50, scholarships available for those in need. Registration/information: / BusinessMatters2022. FEB. 24 World Affairs Council of Western Michigan Great Decisions Series. Topic is Global Cooperation in Space, by Frans von der Dunk, University of NebraskaLincoln. 6-7:15 p.m. in-person, Grand Rapids Community College Winser-Bottrail Applied Technology Center, 151 Fountain St. NE or virtually. Registration/information:

Automatic Spring Products Corp. announced CFO Scott Zylstra as its president and CFO, allowing longtime president and CEO Steve Moreland to focus exclusively on the strategic future of the company. The U.S. Department of Commerce awarded Comstock Park-based Dr. John’s Healthy Sweets the 2021 President’s “E” Moreland Award for Export Service, the highest recognition any U.S. entity can receive for making a significant contribution to the expansion of U.S. exports.


Cornerstone University announced Alicia Wyant as executive director of the university-owned radio station WCSG.


Advantage Commercial Real Estate Services announced the launch of its property management division, Advantage Commercial Real Estate Management Services LLC. Advantage hired director of property management Shaun Biel and accountant Michelle Mixon, who will work together to manage clients’ portfolios

CHANGE-UPS POLICY: The Business Journal welcomes submissions to the Change-Ups section. Send announcements concerning personnel changes, new businesses, changes of address etc. to Change-Ups Editor, Grand Rapids Business Journal, 401 Hall St. SW, Suite 331, Grand Rapids, MI 49503 or email

FEB 28 World Affairs Council of Western Michigan Great Decisions Series. Topic is Russia and the U.S., by Dr. Fiona Hill, former National Security Council member. 6-7:15 p.m. in-person at Grand Rapids Community College Spectrum Theatre or virtually. Registration/information: MAR 4 Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce Monthly Government Affairs Update Zoom Meeting. A 30-minute virtual meeting to briefly highlight key issues. 10-10:30 a.m. Cost: free. Registration/information: MAR 5,12, 19, 26 Grand Rapids Public Museum Investigation Education Classes. For kids ages 8 and older. Small group, hands-on educational classes investigating science and history. Saturdays, 10:30-11:45 a.m., GRPM. Registration/information: grpm. org/EduClasses.

CALENDAR POLICY: The Business Journal welcomes submissions to the calendar section. Send items to Calendar Editor, Grand Rapids Business Journal, 401 Hall St. SW, Suite 331, Grand Rapids, MI 49503 or email bjcal Submissions must be received at least three weeks prior to the event. The Business Journal calendar posted on the publication’s website ( includes listings for events extended beyond those printed in the weekly publication that are limited by space restrictions.



Selected mortgages filed with Kent County Register of Deeds FERRICK, Karyn, Inlanta Mortgage, Parcel: 411414127020, $377,000 LEE TRUST, Fifth Third Bank, Byron Twp., $360,000 ROENBERRY, Jason, Consumers Credit Union, Walker, $528,000 LJ FARMS LLC, West Michigan Community Bank, Parcel: 411215400001, $2,400,000 ECS REALTY LLC, Bank of Belleville, Parcel: 411306326002, $990,000 JTB HOMES LLC, Huntington National Bank, Parcel: 410635425010, $12,000,000 ROF GRANDVILLE LLC, Fifth Third Bank, Parcel: 411730100073, $14,500,000 665 GRAND RAPIDS LLC, Mercantile Bank, Parcel: 411324311003, $11,600,000 WEC LLC, Ricardo Labra et al, 17-5-11, $630,000 4436 BROADMOOR AVE LLC, First National Bank, Kentwood, $840,000 INH LLC, Live Oak Banking Co., Wyoming, $1,225,000 BSG GROUP LLC, Macatawa Bank, Parcel: 411326483039, $3,300,000 T BOSGRAAF HOMES LLC, RAR Development LLC, Byron Twp., $900,000 2530 E BELTLINE LLC, PCF Landing, Parcel: 411811327015, $1,920,000 EAGLE CREEK HOMES LLC, Macatawa Bank, Gaines Twp., $478,750 BOONSTRA, Richard D. et al, Lake Michigan Credit Union, Cascade Twp., $589,500 GIRARDOT, Thomas C. et al, Team Mortgage Co., Cannon Twp., $356,775 HEINDEL, Jon et al, Freedome Mortgage Co., East Grand Rapids, $409,000 RENER, Andrew et al, Inlanta Mortgage Inc., Ada Twp., $750,000 SCHMIDT TRUST, Independent Bank, Cannon Twp., $548,000 HOPKINS, Ashley et al, Home Point Financial, Plainfield Twp., $372,000 BAAS, Matthew J. et al, Old National Bank, Parcel: 411808303041, $1,755,000 ALLISON, Jack et al, Consumers Credit Union, Parcel: 411432430018, $390,000 PRZYBYSZ, Patricia A., HUD, Parcel: 411403365012, $502,500 JACOBSEN, Jeffrey W. et al, Adventure Credit Union, Walker, $452,000 KARABULUT, Onur, AFI Financial, Ada Twp., $382,500 MCNEELY, Edward J. III, Northpointe Bank, Parcel: 411430452018, $350,750 SHARMA, Munish et al, Consumers Credit Union, Wyoming, $556,500

ROMANO, Oliver Sr. et al, Pennymac Loan Services, Courtland Twp., $553,300 SOMMERDYKE, Joseph et al, Lake Michigan Credit Union, Algoma Twp., $573,497 NAVARRE, Harold W. et al, Wells Fargo Bank, Ada Twp., $803,150 BERGSMA, Johan R. et al, Comerica Bank, Cascade Twp., $1,730,000 TROUT TRUST, New American Funding, Gaines Twp., $472,000 LAWRENCE, Michael et al, Macatawa Bank, Plainfield Twp., $394,351 SCHERMER, Robert E. Jr. et al, Mercantile Bank, Parcel: 411435129006, $1,449,000 GUILES, Andrew et al, Neighborhood Loans, Courtland Twp., $509,500 LESHAN, Derek M., PNC Bank, Cascade Twp., $499,999 TASMAN, Daniel M., Hometown Lenders, Parcel: 411431202007, $455,000 GRANT, Amy L., Lake Michigan Credit Union, Parcel: 411425102037, $548,250 KU, Vachong et al, Huntington National Bank, Parcel: 411425102036, $431,931 KOCHICH, Francis C. et al, Guaranteed Rates, Lowell, $375,000 POSTMA, John et al, Mercantile Bank, Cascade Twp., $700,000 VANDERWOUDE, Jason et al, Neighborhood Loans, Cascade Twp., $440,000 SIDEBOTHAM, Larry et al, Hometown Lenders, Cascade Twp., $1,348,750 STEWART, Keith et al, Horizon Bank, Parcel: 411435353008, $472,000 GRIT, Melissa, Grand River Bank, Byron Twp., $498,523 BROWN, Andrew et al, Neighborhood Loans, Parcel: 411309468021, $368,300 LOVELESS, Mark D. et al, Consumers Credit Union, Courtland Twp., $275,080 SUMNER, Douglas et al, JPMorgan Chase Bank, Cascade Twp., $506,250 HAMMER, Clifton et al, Fifth Third Bank, Bowne Twp., $355,000 FARLEY, Brett W., Heartland Home Mortgage, Rockford, $351,405 CHISUM, Ryan N. et al, West Michigan Community Bank, Vergennes Twp., $990,000 KAMPFSCHULTE, Lisa M. et al, Lake Michigan Credit Union, Parcel: 411810153015, $500,000 DIXON, Joseph, JPMorgan Chase Bank, Byron Twp., $399,200 HATCHER, Gregory et al, Gold Star Mortgage, Parcel: 411430127018, $459,000 RUSSO, Christopher et al, Commercial Bank, Nelson Twp., $365,700 SCHUTT, Andrew et al, Mercantile Bank,

East Grand Rapids, $785,000 MARTIN, Robert T. et al, Adventure Credit Union, Cascade Twp., $527,721 FERGUSON, Jody et al, Fifth Third Bank, Spencer Twp., $377,000 LALONE, Christopher, Fifth Third Bank, Parcel: 411430454049, $354,000 STANFORD VAUGHN DEVELOPMENT LLC et al, Welch Trust, Lowell, $518,701 JTB HOMES LLC, Lima One Capital, Algoma Twp., $412,100 MAY, Tayon S., West Michigan Community Bank, Parcel: 411420380008, $425,000 KAMSTRA, Brian et al, Michigan First Credit Union, Byron Twp., $434,000 BRISTOL, Brett et al, ChoiceOne Bank, Alpine Twp., $728,000 NELSON, Eric et al, Better Mortgage Corp., Parcel: 411419316004, $360,000 FELTON, Andrew F. et al, Lake Michigan Credit Union, Parcel: 411412226013, $1,655,250 QUINN, Eryn C. et al, Huntington National Bank, East Grand Rapids, $700,000 GALLAGHER, Kevin et al, Northern Mortgage Services, Cascade Twp., $520,000 MARTIN, Jeffrey A. et al, Lake Michigan Credit Union, Cannon Twp., $647,200 EMMONS, Andrea K. et al, VanDyk Mortgage Corp., Plainfield Twp., $420,000 BOWMAN, Jermaine et al, MMS Mortgage Services, Plainfield Twp., $420,000 PARRIS, John C. II et al, Neighborhood Loans, Plainfield Twp., $460,750 LOPEZ, Sandra et al, Consumers Credit Union, Byron Twp., $351,920 WHITMORE, Adam et al, Hometown Lenders, Gaines Twp., $423,890 SCHLOZ, Timothy et al, Crosscountry Mortgage, Gaines Twp., $350,400 MOHAMMAD, Istiaq et al, Wells Fargo Bank, East Grand Rapids, $350,000 MEYER, Malinda et al, Grand River Bank, Parcel: 411435353001, $480,000 MUSIC, Jasmin et al, Adventure Credit Union, Byron Twp., $770,000 BYRON INVESTMENETS LLC, Macatawa Bank, Parcel: 411425102025, $427,320 OWEN, Robert et al, Lake Michigan Credit Union, Cascade Twp., $500,000 MCIVOR, Jacob et al, Lake Michigan Credit Union, Plainfield Twp., $362,598 YOUNCE, Brett S., Lake Michigan Credit Union, Gaines Twp., $647,795 HANRAHAN, Michael et al, Home Point Financial, Plainfield Twp., $381,600 KOZLOWSKI, Robert D., Lake Michigan Credit Union, Gaines Twp., $548,250 RUIZ, Jonathan, Better Mortgage Corp.,

FEBRUARY 7, 2022

Parcel: 411416126028, $427,198 SIMONDS, John W. et al, Rocket Mortgage, Alpine Twp., $385,000 CASTILLO, Victor J. Jr. et al, Lake Michigan Credit Union, Byron Twp., $502,552 KLINE, Trevor C., Lake Michigan Credit Union, Cascade Twp., $474,000 ELDRED, Mark R., Rocket Mortgage, Courtland Twp., $363,250 HUMPHRIES TRUST, Huntington National Bank, Cascade Twp., $1,460,500 HAMPSHER, Christopher R. et al, Union Home Mortgage, Tyrone Twp., $444,250 EAGLE CREEK HOMES LLC, Macatawa Bank, Gaines Twp., $484,000 WOOTERS, Mark A. et al, Finance of America Mortgage, Parcel: 411411402012, $480,000 FINN, Michael et al, Lake Michigan Credit Union, $459,000 VANDERARK, Jeffrey J. et al, Independent Bank, Parcel: 411430326004, $720,000 JONES, Julia et al, Northern Mortgage Services, Byron Twp., $624,075 WILKINSON, Aaron et al, Ruoff Mortgage Co., East Grand Rapids, $492,000 CHAFFER, Brett A. et al, Heartland Home Mortgage, Cascade Twp., $1,280,000 KARR, Gregory J., Team Mortgage Co., Plainfield Twp., $496,155 EZE, Chijioke, Home Point Financial, Caledonia, $436,500 MAREK, Brian et al, Lake Michigan Credit Union, Parcel: 411234400028, $376,800 MJP UNO LLC, First Community Bank, Wyoming, $425,000 VANDERWERFF, Joyce W. et al, Change Lending LLC, Alpine Twp., $628,800 PEARCE, Richard C. et al, Independent Bank, Courtland Twp., $375,000 DAHU, Musa I. et al, Lake Michigan Credit Union, Ada Twp., $548,250 ZEIGLER, Joseph W., First United Credit Union, Vergennes Twp., $380,000 POLIZZI, Kerry L. et al, Independent Bank, Cascade Twp., $504,000 DOCKERY, Christopher et al, Guaranteed Rate, East Grand Rapids, $445,000 WEEBER, John N. et al, Mercantile Bank, Cannon Twp., $1,100,000 MCAVOY, Michael J. et al, Michigan First Credit Union, Parcel: 412122323002, $393,600 REYNOLDS, David S. et al, Gold Star Mortgage, Parcel: 411433309029, $625,000 KASTNER, Brian D. et al, Old National Bank, Ada Twp., $500,000 COUSINS, Jeffrey et al, Northpointe Bank,

Plainfield Twp., $392,000 MALSTROM, Kyler et al, Interfirst Mortgage, Cannon Twp., $548,250 GETER, Joshua P. et al, Lake Michigan Credit Union, Vergennes Twp., $522,500 CAHILL, Stephen C. et al, Old National Bank, Parcel: 411427477001, $548,250 MILLMAN, Steven A., ChoiceOne Bank, Courtland Twp., $824,000 MARTIN, Jeffrey A. et al, Lake Michigan Credit Union, Cannon Twp., $352,800 SOUTHWELL, Katherine R., Ruoff Mortgage Co., Cascade Twp., $620,500 FRANSEN, Erik, JPMorgan Chase Bank, Rockford, $400,042 GARGETT, Kami M. et al, First United Credit Union, Cascade Twp., $352,000 VIENNE, Richard P. Jr., Primelending, Parcel: 411411202128, $508,000 DEMAAT, Timothy et al, Horizon Bank, Plainfield Twp., $523,339 BALLEMA, Matt et al, Ruoff Mortgage Co., East Grand Rapids, $396,500 CHADWICK, Peter J. et al, Ally Bank, Gaines Twp., $441,036 EICHBAUER, Steven et al, Grand River Bank, Cannon Twp., $370,000 LOOMBA, Dave et al, Lake Michigan Credit Union, Parcel: 411421127004, $1,306,834 EAPEN, Abraham et al, Millennial Home Lending, Parcel: 412110477014, $465,500 BRADSHAW, Timothy, United Wholesale Lenders, Caledonia, $548,250 BERNARD, Paul H. et al, Huntington National Bank, Gaines Twp., $350,000 RASCHKE, Kyle J. et al, Lake Michigan Credit Union, Bowne Twp., $368,000 VERMEULEN, Derek et al, United Wholesale Mortgage, Parcel: 411210201005, $494,925 HOYER, Jordan et al, Huntington National Bank, East Grand Rapids, $550,000 WILDEY, Eric D. et al, Rocket Mortgage, Parcel: 411411202027, $420,000 WOODS, Angelica M. et al, Ruoff Mortgage Co., Parcel: 411435353017, $378,203 LEFERE, David S. et al, Guaranteed Rate, Cascade Twp., $625,000 FREEMAN, Nicholas et al, Northern Mortgage Services, Walker, $438,750 KOWALEWSKI, Robert M. et al, Union Bank, East Grand Rapids, $429,153

PUBLIC RECORD AVAILABLE ONLINE: For the full version of this week’s Public Record, visit the Grand Rapids Business Journal’s website at

J O I N U S F O R T H E 1 0 TH A N N U A L

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FEBRUARY 7, 2022

Newsmaker notes and laughs Fee fix.


he Business Journal’s annual Newsmakers of the Year breakfast traditionally produces a few surprises, especially since the winners in 16 categories are not informed beforehand. Based on the number of comments afterward, the Jan. 26 live event at Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park proved to be a welcome break from almost two years of COVID-19 lockdown. Adding to the unexpected were moments like Randy Thelen, executive director of The Right Place, deciding to give out his cell phone number while accepting the Newsmaker award in the Economic Development category. His reasoning was that he still was somewhat new to the region and needed more contacts. Afterward, Thelen acknowledged he’s done that before and received “three or four” responses. By the time he left the breakfast, he said he had almost two dozen contacts from the crowd. Poor Steve Jbara. The Grand Rapids Gold president took home the Newsmaker award in the Sports category, but not without first going through a bit of morning angst. Keep in mind the temperature that day was about


3 degrees. First, Jbara said he went to start his car and the key fob fell apart, landing beneath the vehicle. As he scrambled in his search, a button popped off his sport coat. He went inside to change. Now in a rush, he grabbed his computer case, and the handle came off. “You’re probably still having a better morning than I am,” he told the crowd upon accepting his award. Well, that’s debatable. Consider the plight of Carter Pavey, assistant general manager of Gun Lake Casino. His boss, Sal Semola, was up for the Newsmaker in the Arts category, but couldn’t attend, so he sent Pavey in his place. “What do I have to do?” he asked. “Nothing,” Semola replied. “Just sit there.” Not exactly true. Not only did Semola pick up the Arts Newsmaker, he also won the overall Newsmaker of the Year award for GLC’s $300 million expansion and community contributions. The result was Pavey had to come on stage not once but twice to extol the virtues of the casino and its involvement in the West Michigan business community to an audience of more than 260.

Oops! To read about the winners in each of the 16 categories and GLC’s triumph as overall winner, go to The financial services firm Rehmann — which has West Michigan locations — last month said it will join HLB International, a global network of independent accounting and advisory firms. “We are extremely excited to make this move official,” said Rehmann CEO Randy Rupp. “HLB International is a strong global network of firms with strategies that align with Rehmann and talented associates that will add to the depth of solutions that are key to our clients’ success. This move allows us to provide an even higher level of service to our clients.” Founded in 1969, HLB firms currently operate across more than 150 countries, comprising more than 32,000 industry professionals. Combining local expertise and global capabilities through affiliation, HLB firms can better help clients meet organizational growth goals of expanding into new domestic terri-


tories and across borders. “Over the years, we have been fortunate to establish very strong relationships across the HLB network. We’ve known many of the HLB member firms for some time and have always been impressed by the quality of their people and the work they do,” said Chip Hoebeke, Rehmann’s director of consulting and director of the firm’s turnaround, restructuring and insolvency practice. “Their forward-thinking strategies, passion for client service, and strong presence in both the domestic and global markets directly align with our goals. Of course, this means we will be leaving Nexia International, which is an excellent organization about which we continue to have nothing but positive things to say. This decision simply makes the most sense for the direction of our firm.” St. Joseph-based United Federal Credit Union is overhauling its overdraft and nonsufficient funds policy by eliminating overdraft protection and nonsufficient fund fees and reducing courtesy pay fees for all members. “Our motivation for eliminating and reducing fees associated with overdraft is simple — it’s the right thing to do,” said United President and CEO Terry O’Rourke. “These fee changes are consistent with our core value as a credit union of people helping people. Those who rely

STREET TALK on courtesy pay are often the ones least able to afford it. We’re taking a stance to support our members’ financial wellness and provide options that help them avoid fees.” United’s new overdraft policy will take effect April 1, eliminating overdraft protection and nonsufficient funds fees and slashing the courtesy pay fee from $35 to $20. Overdraft protection is a service for members to automatically transfer funds from one account to another to cover an overdraft. United will continue to offer this benefit while eliminating the $10 transfer fee. NSF fees, sometimes referred to as “bounced-check” fees, currently are assessed when a transaction like a check or preauthorized transfer is presented for payment in an amount that exceeds the available balance in an account and the transaction isn’t paid. United will continue to deny payment in these cases, but without charging a $35 fee. Members who choose to overdraw their account using courtesy pay can still use this service for a reduced fee of $20 from $35. “We have the tools to help members avoid overdrawing their accounts,” O’Rourke said. “We also know that life happens, and when it does, we’re here to help with affordable overdraft solutions. We want all of our members to feel welcome and accepted at United with options to meet their unique financial needs.”

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