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53 FINALISTS 16 NEWSMAKERS 2016


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Grand Rapids has Newsmakers to thank for economic prosperity

G

RAND RAPIDS BUSINESS JOURNAL editors and reporters reviewed hundreds of stories of local business leaders who caused ripples in 2016 and given scrutiny to those who might especially have long-term effect in the West Michigan regional economy or beyond. The Business Journal published 2,500 unique stories, with 1,222 of them appearing only online at grbj.com. The Business Journal refers to finalists profiled in this supplement as Grand Rapids Business Journal Newsmakers. The business owners, entrepreneurs and corporate CEOs who created a multitude of headlines provided a cumulatively powerful effect in 2016. Chemical Financial Corp. became the largest bank headquartered in Michigan with a $1.4-billion acquisition, agribusiness growth in West Michigan included expansions and new jobs, health care was marked by facility improvements and expansions but also by research and development for cancer and Alzheimer’s. Education impacts included philanthropic injections for the Michigan State University Grand Rapids Research Center, an extension of the MSU Secchia Center, as well as research to stem the number of dying honey bees, responsible for one-third of all food consumed by humans. Real estate developers in 2016 were undeni-

able changemakers to the city scape, most noted in downtown and on the near West Side. Changemakers were aplenty in business startups that include development of an underwater drone with an app, an Alzheimer’s drug innovation and redesign of a clothing item worn by almost every woman. Manufacturing expansions were not just dominated by automotive parts suppliers and furniture makers but also dental care, technology innovators and wood products. In this Business Journal report about those leading economic expansions, there are no losers, but one finalist is each of 16 categories will be named as overall category Newsmaker and one of those 16 will be announced as the Business Journal 2016 Newsmaker of the Year. The announcements will not be made until the breakfast networking event, 7:30-9:30 a.m., Jan. 25, at Frederik Meijer Gardens. The business news of this region continues to grow, as does the region and its economic prosperity. Carole Valade Editor, Grand Rapids Business Journal

Website: www.grbj.com; General Editorial Inquiries: editorial@grbj.com; General Sales Inquiries: advertisingsales@grbj.com

PUBLISHER

John H. Zwarensteyn: jzwarensteyn@geminipub.com EDITOR

Carole Valade:cvalade@grbj.com MANAGING EDITOR

Tim Gortsema: tgortsema@grbj.com COPY EDITOR

Tom Mitsos: tmitsos@grbj.com ONLINE EDITOR

Chris Ehrlich: cehrlich@grbj.com STAFF REPORTERS

Charlsie Dewey: cdewey@grbj.com Pat Evans: pevans@grbj.com Jesse O’Brien: jobrien@grbj.com Rachel Watson: rachelw@geminipub.com

STATE LEGISLATIVE REPORTER

CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS

GENERAL SALES MANAGER

Randy D. Prichard: rprichard@geminipub.com

CIRCULATION & MARKETING ASSISTANT

NEW MEDIA, DESIGN & PRODUCTION MANAGER

ADVERTISING SALES MANAGER

FINANCE & ADMINISTRATION MANAGER

ADVERTISING SALES CONSULTANTS

ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT

Capital News Service: freedma5@msu.edu Jeffrey Gitomer, Paul A. Hense, Brian Long, Bill Rohn, Bill Roth, Ardon Schambers Scott Sommerfeld: ssommerfeld@geminipub.com ART COORDINATOR

Kelly J. Nugent: knugent@geminipub.com DESIGNERS/PRODUCTION ASSISTANTS

Melissa Brooks: mbrooks@geminipub.com Kristen Van Oostenbrugge: kristenv@geminipub.com Robin Vargo: rvargo@geminipub.com

6 GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS JOURNAL 2016 NEWSMAKERS OF THE YEAR

Michael Buck, Jim Gebben, Johnny Quirin

Jenn Maksimowski: jmaksimowski@geminipub.com Jennifer Collins: jcollins@geminipub.com Craig R. Rich: crich@geminipub.com Ben Dakoske: bdakoske@geminipub.com Bri Rodriguez: brodriguez@geminipub.com ADVER. SALES ASSISTANT/COORDINATOR

Karla Jeltema: kjeltema@geminipub.com CIRCULATION & MARKETING MANAGER

Scott T. Miller: smiller@geminipub.com

MARKETING & EVENTS COORDINATOR

Madison Mabin: mmabin@geminipub.com

Katrina Peshka: kpeshka@geminipub.com Pamela Brocato, CPA: pbrocato@geminipub.com

Tina Gillman: tgillman@geminipub.com RECEPTION/CLERICAL SERVICES

General Inquiries: info@grbj.com, recept@geminipub.com TO ORDER REPRINTS

Karla Jeltema: kjeltema@geminipub.com, (616) 459-4545


8 Arts & Entertainment Joseph Calvaruso Gerald R. Ford Foundation/Museum Greg Gilmore 20 Monroe Live Rich MacKeigan SMG

10 Beverages

Dave Engbers and Mike Stevens Founders Brewing Co. John VanTongeren Ferris Coffee & Nut Jon O’Connor and Kyle Van Strien Long Road Distillers

12 Economic Development Craig Hall and Jennifer Owens Holland SmartZone Julius Suchy Village of Sparta Ryan Cotton Downtown Holland

14 Education

Jonathan Engelsma Grand Valley State University Teresa Weatherall Neal Grand Rapids Public Schools John Knapp Hope College

16 Finance

Jason Wenk FormulaFolio Investments David Ramaker Chemical Bank Martin Stein Blackford Capital

18 Food

Phil Grashoff Southwest & West Michigan Agribusiness Alliance Steve Soet Kent Quality Foods Cliff Meeuwsen Zeeland Farm Services

20 Health Care

Greg Loomis Mercy Health Muskegon Kent Riddle Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital Michael Faas and Marschall Runge Metro Health and University of Michigan Health System

22 Law

Mark Miller Cascade Engineering Heidi Washington Richard A. Handlon Correctional Facility Vocational Village Christine Gilman Dispute Resolution Center of West Michigan

24 Manufacturing

Cedric Duclos Hutchinson North American Innovation Center Rich Sorota Ranir Matthew Missad Universal Forest Products Inc.

26 Nonprofits/Philanthropy

Jorge Gonzalez West Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Peter Secchia and Richard DeVos Michigan State University Grand Rapids Research Center Carla Blinkhorn YWCA

28 Real Estate/Construction John Wheeler Orion Construction Sam Cummings CWD Real Estate Investment Mike VanGessel Rockford Construction

30 Retail

Scott Wierda Breton Village Mall Rick Keyes Meijer Inc. Dennis Eidson SpartanNash

32 Sports

Maria Besta Mary Free Bed Wheelchair & Adaptive Sports Program Dan DeVos Edge Ice Arena Lesley Baker Meijer LPGA Classic

34 Startups

Danny Vessells Fathom Sara Moylan Shefit Mark Gurney Tetra Discovery Partners

36 Sustainability

Dan Schoonmaker West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum Kris and Jason Spaulding Brewery Vivant Peter Secchia Millennium Park

38 Technology

Meredith Bronk Open Systems Technologies Adam Kramer Switch Ltd. Garry VonMyhr Genius Phone Repair

2016 NEWSMAKERS OF THE YEAR GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS JOURNAL 7


category: arts & entertainment

Greg Gilmore

Joseph Calvaruso

Rich MacKeigan

THE GILMORE COLLECTION’S $16-million project, 20 Monroe Live, is set to bring in concerts and foot traffic the city otherwise would not be able to snag, Gilmore Collection CEO Greg Gilmore said. The entertainment venue at 20 Monroe Ave. NW, opening Feb. 1, will be operated in partnership with Live Nation’s House of Blues Entertainment. It is connected to Gilmore’s The B.O.B., which opened in 1996 across from the then newly constructed Van Andel Arena and has since tripled its annual revenue. “It will further cement this area as the epicenter for entertainment in Grand Rapids and the region,” Gilmore said. “Van Andel Arena has 25 to 30 concerts a year, and we expect to have 120, on a much smaller scale but with more frequency, so we’ll be bringing people downtown on a regular basis.” Including the 120 shows, the venue will aim to hold more than 200 events each year, including private and corporate events, product launches and festivals. A four-season beer garden and an alleyway will create more space for private parties and festivals for up to 4,000 people, said Ron Bension, president of Live Nation’s House of Blues Entertainment. Gilmore said he thinks the addition of this size of venue will be similar to the Frederik Meijer Gardens summer concert series. “There really hasn’t been the venue for these concerts and flex events, and people have just bypassed Grand Rapids,” he said. “Now that we have the venue for them, we’ll see there’s a big demand.”

THE GERALD R. FORD Presidential Museum completely revamped itself in eight months and reopened in June 2016. The $13-million renovation and expansion project included construction of the two-story DeVos Learning Center, which already is impacting the community through programs like its “Leadership in Times of Crisis” class in partnership with Western Michigan University Cooley Law School. The museum’s exhibition space was stripped down to its cement floors and outside walls and entirely rebuilt, said Joseph Calvaruso, executive director of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation, which funded the project. Visitors to the museum, 303 Pearl St. NW, now see a more vibrant space and several never-before-exhibited objects, plus access to digital archives through interactive exhibits. “What you are looking at is a whole new environment,” Calvaruso said. “You walk around, and it’s bright, airy; it kind of pops.” The renovation is the museum’s second since it opened in 1981, with the most recent in 1996. Don Holloway, Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum curator, said the renovation is an opportunity to present different perspectives on Ford. “His legacy is doing very well,” Holloway said. “He’s being seen in a new light.” The renovated museum also examines the life of first lady Betty Ford in greater detail. The DeVos Learning Center, an 8,000-square-foot addition, has three classrooms and will be used for school field trips, company meetings and workshops.

SMG IS AT THE TOP of its game as it manages entertainment in Grand Rapids, from Van Andel Arena’s record-breaking 20th year in business to a solid turnout for DeVos Place and DeVos Performance Hall events. SMG Regional General Manager Rich MacKeigan recently was named among the top 10 arena managers in the nation by Billboard Magazine for his leadership at Van Andel. MacKeigan was in the Sept. 24 issue of the magazine for arenas with a capacity between 10,001 and 15,000. Van Andel Arena was the No. 1 venue of its size in North America, with $13.4 million in ticket sales from Nov. 10, 2015, to July 18, 2016. MacKeigan can take special pride in the 20th anniversary year of Van Andel Arena, which hosted one of the largest productions ever, with Kanye West’s Saint Pablo Tour in September, a record ticket sales show with Paul McCartney’s One on One tour in August and Garth Brooks’ six-show attendance record behemoth. “We have consistently fought above our weight class when it comes to concerts and their success,” MacKeigan said in Billboard. DeVos Place also can take satisfaction in its accomplishments, hosting events from the bridal show to a big data conference to a fireworks expo to a quilting conference that brought 15,000 visitors downtown in August. DeVos Performance Hall continues to do well as the only venue in the state with four professional arts groups: Grand Rapids Symphony, Broadway Grand Rapids, Grand Rapids Ballet and Opera Grand Rapids.

20 Monroe Live

Gerald R. Ford Foundation/Museum

8 GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS JOURNAL 2016 NEWSMAKERS OF THE YEAR

SMG


THE FOX FAMILY

CONGRATULATES DAN DEVOS AND ALL OF THE 2016 NEWSMAKERS. THANKS EVERYONE FOR TAKING YOUR BEST SHOT TO MAKE OUR COMMUNITY A SUCCESS.


category: beverages

John VanTongeren

Mike Stevens and Dave Engbers

Jon O’Connor and Kyle Van Strien

AFTER MORE THAN 90 years in business in Grand Rapids, Ferris Coffee & Nut has fully transformed its coffee operation. Not an easy task for John VanTongeren, the owner of the company. For most of its history, Ferris competed against commodity coffee companies, such as Maxwell House and Folgers — great for servicing offices, which it still does. Now, however, its cafés can compete with the likes of specialty roasters Madcap and Rowster in terms of quality and drinks. While the flagship café, 227 Winter Ave. NW, provides Grand Valley State University students an intimate place to drink Ferris coffee, the Trust Building café opened this fall, allowing Ferris to reach a new market of the city’s businesspeople, who often passed over Ferris coffee in their offices for the hip coffee shops. “We wanted something that fit within the neighborhood,” Ferris Director of Retail David VanTongeren said. “The building itself is very historic, and we didn’t want to do something here that would take away from that, but we also wanted to feel like whatever we did here was relevant to the customers we’re trying to serve.” The company also announced in December it will consolidate operations in 2017 into the 165,000-square-foot American Seating building, 601 Seventh St. NW, further solidifying the connection between Ferris and the city’s west side. Ferris also roasted ArtPrize’s official coffee and supplied the coffee for Founders Brewing Co.’s ArtPrize beer, Pale Joe, as well as the brewery’s other coffee beers. On the nut side of the business, the company acquired Kalamazoo’s Lush Gourmet Foods.

AS CRAFT BEER SALES slowed overall across the nation, sinking to 6.5 percent, Grand Rapids’ largest brewery, Founders Brewing Co., continued to grow at a nearly unmatched pace. Founders CEO Mike Stevens said the death knell of craft beer is debatable; the growth of Founders isn’t in question, as it grew at a nearly 40 percent clip this year. Brewing 350,000 barrels of beer this year, up from 269,000 last year, should catapult it into the top 15 breweries in the nation. Next year’s target is 465,000 barrels. Founders is using much of the $75 million worth of expansions the past five years to brew All Day IPA, which grew 108 percent year-over-year and makes up 60 percent of the brewery’s volume as the nation’s second-best selling IPA. Stevens told the Business Journal a well-defined business backbone is what’s helping drive the growth of Founders, while many other top breweries are stalling. Still, with an influx of leadership coming from large companies and the major investment from Spanish brewery Mahou San Migeul, Stevens is sure the culture he and Dave Engbers founded the company on still is alive. “I understand the soul of this company so well I can taste it,” Stevens said. “There are some things that just stay in your gut and grow with you. The business success is a result of the product you produce. We know that. We love that. As long as we’re around, I don’t see the foundation going away.”

LONG ROAD DISTILLERS is doing its best to challenge the Beer City title. The city’s first distillery kept making headlines this year, as Jon O’Connor and Kyle Van Strien kept winning awards. The pair’s distillery is making what they’re calling the “world’s highest-rated aquavit” of 2016. Aquavit is a gin-like spirit made with Scandinavian herbs, such as dill and caraway. Long Road Aquavit won Best in Show at the Denver International Spirits Competition, Best Aquavit at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, Best of Division at the Distilled San Diego Competition and Double Gold at the American Distillers Award. The Fifty Best honored Long Road Gin as Best Gin, while Long Road Corn Whisky won Best of Category at the American Distillers Institute Awards. Long Road Cherry Brandy won Top Rated Fruit Brandy at the International Review of Spirits, with 24 pounds of cherries from Belding’s Heffron Farms packed into each bottle. The distillery also released the city’s first bourbon this year and hosted a cocktail competition with the Grand Rapids Bartending Guild to help foster the cocktail culture in the city. O’Connor and Van Strien are doing their best to combat potential mistruth in labeling in the craft distilling industry by being outspoken in their 100 percent grain to bottle operation. “Everyone picks the way they do business,” O’Connor said. “For us, the authenticity thing has been so paramount to what we want to do. Do you want to lie to people to make a fast buck? (If ) that’s your business model, go ahead.”

Ferris Coffee & Nut

Founders Brewing Co.

10 GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS JOURNAL 2016 NEWSMAKERS OF THE YEAR

Long Road Distillers


f t ch . c o m

GROUNDED IN COMMUNITY

F i s h b e ck , T h o m p s o n , C a r r & H u b e r e n g i n e e r s | s c i e n t i s t s | a r ch i t e c t s | c o n s t r u c t o r s


category: economic development

Ryan Cotton

Craig Hall and Jennifer Owens

Julius Suchy

THE CITY OF HOLLAND’S more than 60-year old Civic Center has been in need of a facelift for some time, but it should be coming soon. Approved by the city council this past year, the $16.5-million facelift should further bolster the arena as a major economic catalyst in downtown Holland. “The facility has been a center of recreation, events, shows and the farmers market for decades,” City Manager Ryan Cotton said. “It is tired, and it is time for re-investment.” The project encompasses two full city blocks to the east and north of the Holland Civic Center and is intended to develop a multi-purpose community space, which will support meeting spaces, recreational activities, public events and the Holland Farmers Market. After a thorough public comment period during which the city received input from more than 2,700 citizens, the project is moving forward with the building closing in March 2017 for asbestos treatment, followed by the start of construction in July. Cotton said the public’s participation in “making this building the best it can be for future renovations and for decades to come is most welcomed.” The redeveloped Civic Center will be about 30,000 square feet, and the city is aiming for 2,000 seats in the arena. The city hopes the project will not only renovate Holland’s historic center of recreational and cultural activity but also further strengthen the connection of the downtown area to the Lake Macatawa waterfront and serve as an economic catalyst for the west end of Eighth Street.

COMPLETING A PROCESS that began in August 2014, the city of Holland received final approval to create a satellite of the Grand Rapids SmartZone in April. Approval by the Michigan Economic Development Corp. and the state of Michigan Treasury Department allows the Holland SmartZone to use tax increment financing capture for economic development within its boundaries. “SmartZone is good and well, but it’s about getting resources, networking, coaching and training (for the entrepreneurs),” SmartZone Chairman Craig Hall said. “Without the TIF being passed, we would not have had the resources to do that, so yes, it was a very big deal for us. Without the treasurer’s approval and the MEDC’s before that, it would have all been for naught.” In the coming 15 years, the Holland SmartZone, which is being administered by Lakeshore Advantage, anticipates a tax capture of more than $7.5 million that will be invested back to local entrepreneurs. The Holland SmartZone encompasses about 1,000 parcels of land on 450 acres in Holland or Holland Township, and the plan anticipates the creation of about 180 high-tech businesses within the 15-year timeframe. “I am beyond proud of our regional team that got us to this point,” Lakeshore Advantage President Jennifer Owens said upon the SmartZone’s final approval in April. “We are looking forward to working side-by-side with technology entrepreneurs to help bring their ideas to reality.”

WITH ALL THE investments in Grand Rapids, some of that economic development has started to infiltrate surrounding areas, and the village of Sparta is the latest to see that first hand. Sparta is seeing an injection of about $30 million across a number of projects, including the relocations of Cellar Brewing Co. and Natural Choice Foods into the village. Sparta Village Manager Julius Suchy sees these projects not only as a result of Grand Rapids’ quick growth but also as a shift in demographic thinking that has younger generations looking at communities as a possible destination. “We want to create a Sparta people might want to come to for a weekend afternoon,” Suchy said. “Maybe grab a bite, a beer, walk along the creek and hang out.” The village also has purchased a structure at 228 E. Division with a plan to create a vacant lot on which the community can partner with a developer for a commercial building. Natural Choice Foods is planning its new headquarters on a 122-acre parcel in Sparta purchased from the village last year. Additionally, ChoiceOne Bank is renovating its downtown branch, and the village sold 10 acres of land to Cascade Die Casting. All together, those business projects are expected to generate $30 million in investments and create about 200 jobs. “The village council is looking at long-term investment. What do we want 20 years from now?” Suchy said. “We’ve looked at Cedar Springs, Rockford, even Lowell, and they’re all on different levels. Rockford is a gorgeous community, and we’re not trying to be Rockford, we’re trying to be the best Sparta we can be.”

City of Holland

Holland SmartZone

12 GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS JOURNAL 2016 NEWSMAKERS OF THE YEAR

Sparta Village


category: education

Teresa Weatherall Neal

Jonathan Engelsma

John Knapp

THE GRAND RAPIDS Public Museum High School was chosen from a pool of 700 national applicants as one of 10 XQ Super Schools, an honor that comes with a $10-million grant attached to it. The grant from XQ: The Super School Project will be used to renovate the former Grand Rapids Public Museum building at 54 Jefferson Ave. SE, which will house the Grand Rapid Public Schools high school. “Our museum school truly exemplifies the success of our GRPS Transformation Plan,” GRPS Superintendent Teresa Weatherall Neal said, emphasizing the XQ grant highlights the district’s “innovative, collaborative efforts to provide high-quality public school choices.” Applicants for the XQ Super School grant underwent an 11-month application and evaluation process by XQ. The 10 winning schools were chosen to serve as new models for re-making the high school education experience. Each school was awarded $10 million, to be distributed over the next five years to fund school renovations, as well as facility and technology updates. Grand Rapids Public Museum High School will focus on crafting a learning environment that leverages cultural artifacts, local impact projects and museum studies through place-based and design-thinking education. The existing Grand Rapids Public Museum School, at 272 Pearl St. NW, is a middle school and a member of GRPS. It works with several local businesses and partners to shape curriculum: Grand Rapids Public Museum, Grand Valley State University, Kendall College of Art and Design, city of Grand Rapids and Downtown Grand Rapids Inc.

ONE-THIRD OF THE food people eat is dependent on honeybees. The bees are dying, and researchers don’t know why. But two Grand Valley State University professors and a group of students are determined to find out. Jonathan Engelsma, a professor of computing at GVSU and a hobby beekeeper, is one of the researchers who have been involved in honeybee research at the university. Engelsma received a four-year, $200,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for his work. He began his research in 2012, leading a group of GVSU students in the development of a website tied to electronic scales that are placed under hives in the field. “The scale network that I’ve been working on is now fully operational,” Engelsma said. “There are over 165 scales out in the field around the United States delivering data every 15 minutes.” Two of those scales are located in the apiary at GVSU. The scales capture weight, humidity and temperature at 15-minute intervals. The data collected by the electronic scales is stored at hivescales.beeinformed. org and is used to track how many hives are lost each season and how the bees were kept. The statistics can be used to find beekeeping practices that result in healthier honeybees. Engelsma said his team also is looking at creating mobile apps for entering data and for providing real-time help to beekeepers. He is working on another project with Anne Marie Fauvel, affiliate faculty of liberal studies at GVSU, and a group of students. They are developing a mobile app called PollenCollect, which will help beekeepers track bee forage around the state of Michigan.

AT A TIME WHEN funding for the arts is down for schools throughout the U.S., Hope College landed a $203-million fundraising campaign that resulted in a pair of art and music buildings on campus. The projects, the Jack H. Miller Center for the Musical Arts and the Kruizenga Art Museum, were funded through the institution’s “A Greater Hope” campaign. G.O. Construction, a joint venture between GDK Construction of Holland and Owen-Ames-Kimball of Grand Rapids, completed the work in January. John Knapp, president at Hope, said the two buildings were among a number of transformational projects funded by the campaign, which was announced in 2011 and ended in 2015, exceeding its $175-million goal. “It made it possible not only to provide these new facilities for art and music, but also, we are now in the construction phase of a new student center right in the heart of our campus,” Knapp said. “It is significant that we have been able to provide these additional assets to our students at no cost to the students and without incurring debt.” Construction on the Jim and Martie Bultman Student Center broke ground in 2015 and is anticipated to be completed in February. The roughly 64,000-square-foot Jack H. Miller Center for the Musical Arts was an approximately $35-million project for the construction and an endowment for maintenance. The approximately $7.8-million Kruizenga Art Museum was designed to provide space for Hope’s permanent art collection, a gallery for visiting exhibitions and a multi-purpose area for educational activities and events.

Grand Rapids Public Schools

Grand Valley State University

14 GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS JOURNAL 2016 NEWSMAKERS OF THE YEAR

Hope College


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category: finance

Martin Stein

David Ramaker

Jason Wenk

MARTIN STEIN’S WHEELING and dealing in Grand Rapids continues to pay dividends. In addition to his private equity firm, Blackford Capital, landing on the Inc. magazine list of the top 5,000 fastest growing privately owned companies thanks to its 233 percent three-year growth rate, Stein was named the 2016 Private Equity Professional of the Year by the M&A Advisor. Blackford also was named as a finalist in 10 award categories for its various transactions completed in the past year, including its acquisitions of Quality Aluminum Products and Grand Equipment, and its financing of portfolio company Staging Concepts and acquisition of Architectural Railings & Grilles. “We are proud to be creating significant value for our limited partners, as well as building the legacies for the founders of the companies in which we invest,” Stein said. “These honors encourage us to continue the success we’ve had, as we look to spur economic growth and job creation in the communities and industries that we serve throughout Michigan and the U.S.” Stein also made a personal investment in Spoonlickers, partnering with owner David Darling to facilitate substantial growth at the dessert parlor he and his family frequented. “We’d like to add a few stores in West Michigan and then look to the east side of the state. If that goes well, we’ll broaden beyond that,” Stein said. “It’s a growing, profitable business, and I expect it will be around a long time.”

AS OF SEPT. 1, 2016, Chemical Financial Corp. became the largest bank headquartered in Michigan. The Midland-based bank closed on a $1.4-billion acquisition of Talmer Bancorp, giving Chemical Financial roughly $16 billion in managed assets and about 246 total locations. “I truly believe what we’re creating will generate significant benefits in the markets that we operate in,” Chemical Chairman, President and CEO David Ramaker said. “We’re very confident that in doing this, we’re creating the pre-eminent Midwest community bank.” Chemical has been aggressive in its expansion plans in recent years, acquiring Lake Michigan Financial Corp., Monarch Community Bancorp, Northwestern Bancorp and OAK Financial Corp since 2010. But Chemical’s $1.4-billion acquisition of Talmer, which brings about $6.6 billion in assets, is by far the largest deal in the bank’s history. Ramaker said the deal gives Chemical about 6 percent of the deposit market share in the state of Michigan, and there is “significant upside potential” given the resources the bank will have at its disposal. “It’s very rare that you’ll see a bank of our size be able to provide these types of services and do it in a very personalized approach,” Ramaker said. “But that’s our operating philosophy, and that’s how we’re continuing to organize the company going forward. That creates a niche for ourselves in the market.”

SINCE JASON WENK founded FormulaFolio Investments in 2012, the Grand Rapids investment management firm has seen explosive growth. But last year was unprecedented. FormulaFolio’s revenues of $11.51 million in 2015, a year-over-year growth of about 1,758 percent, shot the firm up to the No. 15 fastest-growing private company in the nation and the quickest budding private company in the state. FormulaFolio’s three-year growth rate, which is the ranking criteria for Inc.’s list, is even more staggering — 9,401 percent. “You don’t see too many $20-, $30-, $50-million companies remaining in the thousand percent growth range,” Wenk said. “At some point, we’ll obviously slow down. But it’s fun.” But while FormulaFolio’s growth might not top the thousand-percent mark for much longer, it has grown to be a highly profitable business in the short time since its founding. Wenk said in June 2016, the firm is expected to generate between $15 million and $16 million in revenues that year. With great financial growth also comes expanded operations, as FormulaFolio also increased its space in its downtown headquarters, 89 Ionia Ave. NW, to take up room on both the fifth and sixth floors, doubling the office’s footprint to 15,000 square feet. “Business is good, and it’s been cool being downtown. And with all the things going on downtown, it kind of makes us look insignificant,” Wenk said. “It’s awfully impressive, and it’s all positive.”

Blackford Capital

Chemical Bank

16 GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS JOURNAL 2016 NEWSMAKERS OF THE YEAR

FormulaFolio Investments


category: food

Phil Grashoff

Steve Soet

Cliff Meeuwsen

PHIL GRASHOFF HAS set out to help the southwest and West Michigan agriculture industry come together. Grashoff, who is an environmental attorney with law firm Kotz Sangster, said he noticed the industry was “splintered” while attending the Michigan Agri-Business Association Outlook Conference a couple of years ago. He decided to do something about it and formed the Southwest & West Michigan Agribusiness Alliance to provide auxiliary services to the agriculture industry’s producers, processors and suppliers. Auxiliary services include: legal services, business services, laboratory services, economic development assistance, engineering and surveying, environmental consulting, insurance, risk management, restructuring, lending and marketing and communications. “There is a role this group can play in assisting agribusinesses with the kind of problems they have, be it at the federal or state level, or selling a farm, or ensuring the waste water is compatible with their permit,” Grashoff said. He said a lot of today’s issues are new to Michigan’s agriculture businesses, and they need help navigating them. “A lot of these issues are some that (didn’t need attention) in the past,” he said. “A lot of what we’re seeing is there are a lot of exemptions, and regulators are becoming very hardnosed on those exemptions where they used to allow some flexibility.” The alliance hosted its first conference in May with a focus on some of the key issues Grashoff identified. Grashoff said he intends for the alliance to “take off ” in the coming years. “We’re out here doing this broad-based approach to representation and solving agribusiness problems,” he said.

A $34.8-MILLION INVESTMENT this year ensured Kent Quality Foods will continue to call Michigan home. The maker of franks, sausages and specialty meats had outgrown its existing Grand Rapids plant and was considering an Ohio facility for expansion. In the end, the company located a site in Jamestown Charter Township for its new plant. The plant is expected to create 140 jobs over three years. Michelle Fare, marketing coordinator and downtown development authority director for the city of Hudsonville, talked about the importance of those jobs. “For us, 140 jobs is a large employer,” she said. “They’ll jump in among the ranks of our area’s largest employers in ensuring we have quality jobs.” Steve Soet, president of Kent Quality Foods, said the opening of a second manufacturing plant “is very exciting for us.” “As our business continues to grow, this expansion will allow us to meet growing demand, as well as provide the opportunity to expand our product lines,” Soet said. Kent Quality Foods was founded in Grand Rapids in 1967. It is a third-generation family-owned company, which distributes to hot dog stands, restaurants, food service companies, broad line distributors and the processing industry. Steve Arwood, CEO of Michigan Economic Development Corp., celebrated the decision, saying, “Kent Quality Foods’ decision to invest and add jobs in West Michigan demonstrates our state’s leadership in agriculture and food production with a business climate that enables the success of growing companies.”

ZEELAND FARM SERVICES celebrated the 20th anniversary of Michigan’s first soybean processing plant this year with an expansion announcement. ZFS Ithaca, the company’s affiliate, announced this past fall plans for a second, larger soybean processing facility, which will be located in Ithaca. The facility will be built on the 435-acre site the company purchased in 2014. The new plant is expected to begin operations in late 2018 or 2019. The Ithaca plant will be capable of processing more than 40 million bushels of soybeans annually. It will increase the total soy processing capacity in Michigan to more than 50 million bushels per year. Cliff Meeuwsen, president of ZFS Ithaca, said the facility is being sized for the future. “We are not building and sizing the facility for today, but for tomorrow,” he said. “This is a long-term, 40- or 50-year investment in Michigan agriculture.” Meeuwsen said the company will be “building a legacy plant” that will “fulfill all of Michigan’s soybean processing needs for decades.” The new facility will initially include grain receiving and storage, soybean processing and feed ingredients transloading. The plant and the necessary infrastructure represent a significant investment in the community by ZFS Ithaca. The project is expected to create approximately 75 full-time jobs and will help bring roadway and utility upgrades to aid in future development in Gratiot County.

Southwest & West Michigan Agribusiness Alliance

Kent Quality Foods

18 GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS JOURNAL 2016 NEWSMAKERS OF THE YEAR

Zeeland Farm Services


Greg Loomis President Mercy Health Muskegon

From your colleagues at Mercy Health,

Congratulations on your nomination as Newsmaker of the Year! Your dedication, enthusiasm and hard work inspire us all. Thank you for your vision and leadership at Mercy Health.

MERCY HEALTH GRAND RAPIDS: Saint Mary’s | Southwest | Rockford | Mercy Health Physician Partners MERCY HEALTH MUSKEGON: Mercy | Hackley | General | Lakeshore | Lakes Village | Ludington Mercy Health Physician Partners


category: health care

Kent Riddle

Greg Loomis

Michael Faas and Marschall Runge

MARY FREE BED Rehabilitation Hospital officially became the fifth-largest independent rehabilitation hospital in the U.S. this year with the grand opening of the $42-million Bernadine Keller and Barbara Hoffius Center. “We are seeing many more patients coming from around the country and even internationally,” Mary Free Bed CEO Kent Riddle said. “We’ve seen significant growth in the patients seeking us out.” The completion of Phase 2 of the hospital’s $66.4-million expansion and facelift brought the total number of private inpatient beds at the Grand Rapids hospital up to 167 and includes specialized therapy gyms and state-of-the-art technology, including ceiling-mounted gait and balance training systems and robot-assisted walking therapy. “We really pushed the envelope on the technology side of what we can do there,” Riddle said. “I don’t know that many hospitals have the degree of technology that we have — some have pieces of what we have, but what we tried to do is rope all of it together.” The building also became home to the Mary Free Bed Orthotics and Prosthetics + Bionics department, OrthoSEAT and its driver rehabilitation program. Mary Free Bed’s Assistive Technology and Augmentative Communication Department also is housed there. The building also underwent significant renovations, with a main welcome center on the first floor, which is mostly dedicated to outpatient services and the special therapy gyms. Phase 3 of the project, which includes renovation to the adjacent Professional Building and Mary Ives Hunting Center, began immediately following the completion of Phase 2 and is expected to be complete in 2017.

IT TOOK NEARLY three years to get off the ground, but the $271-million, ninestory Mercy Health Muskegon Medical Center is well on its way to having a “transformational” impact on patient health on the lakeshore. The medical center, which is expected to open in June 2019, will include 267 private patient rooms, a new emergency department, state-of-the-art surgical and procedural areas and other modern amenities and technologies. Additionally, the campus will become home to all of Mercy Health Muskegon’s medical and surgical hospital services, including cardiovascular, orthopedics, trauma, labor and delivery, and oncology. The project also includes renovations on the existing Mercy campus. Mercy Health also is excited about the new 74-bed Universal Care Unit, which it said will offer a “completely new patient care model.” The UCU will provide personalized care in private rooms for outpatients who do not require inpatient hospitalization but may need care for several hours. “Our new medical center and renovations to our existing Mercy campus have been designed around the way health care should be delivered to our patients, now and into the future,” Mercy Health Muskegon President Greg Loomis said. Construction of the medical center is expected to generate $144 million in added value to the region’s economic performance while providing nearly 1,500 short-term jobs in construction and other industries. Additionally, it will provide $70 million in earnings through short-term increase in demands for goods and services, according to Mercy Health research.

METRO HEALTH’S affiliation agreement with the University of Michigan Health System brought one of the nation’s mostrecognized and innovative medical schools to West Michigan when the deal officially closed in the waning days of 2016. Metro Health President and CEO Michael Faas said the affiliation with U-M will ensure patients will be provided with “the latest, most advanced and most innovative care.” “This is a transformational day for health care in West Michigan,” he said. The affiliation creates a clinical care network building on the individual strengths of both organizations and enables Wyoming-based Metro Health to expand its primary care and specialty services while enhancing its technological offerings. Metro Health and the U-M Health System now are able to collaborate on clinical care models across the system, enhancing patient access to physicians and care providers across both organizations. “We are excited to further expand U-M services in West Michigan and to provide access to the highest quality care available to more Michigan residents,” said Marschall Runge, executive vice president for medical affairs and dean of the U-M Medical School and CEO of the U-M Health System. “Working together, we will improve the health of our patients and our communities.” Faas added the agreement allows for opportunities “to advance the boundaries of clinical practice and medical science through research discoveries and disseminating knowledge.”

Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital

Mercy Health Muskegon

20 GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS JOURNAL 2016 NEWSMAKERS OF THE YEAR

Metro Health and University of Michigan Health System


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category: law

Mark Miller

Christine Gilman

Heidi Washington

FOR MANY EMPLOYERS, a checkmark in the felony box on a job application immediately disqualifies a candidate, regardless of the details of their crime. That leaves people referred to as “returning citizens” in the precarious position of not being able to find a job or getting stuck in entry-level positions that don’t provide a livable wage. That, in turn, can lead to recidivism. National studies show approximately two-thirds of formerly incarcerated persons are re-arrested within three years of release and almost half are re-incarcerated. In Michigan, the current recidivism rate is 30 percent, the lowest the state has ever seen. Cascade Engineering has been a proponent of hiring returning citizens for nearly two decades. Mark Miller, Cascade Engineering’s CEO and president, said the company’s continued efforts this year get at the heart of the “people” part of its triple bottom line: people, planet, profit. “Not only is this the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing,” he said, “not only from a business but also from a community standpoint. “It’s an opportunity for us and helps raise the overall water level with our community.” Joe Gomez, HR administrator at Cascade Engineering, is one of the company’s success stories. Gomez said he knew his options were limited when he was paroled and is grateful for the opportunity he received at Cascade Engineering. “It was ideal for me,” he said. “I started at one of the manufacturing plants. I’d never done that before, but it was a stepping stone to where I wanted to get.”

A 30-YEAR-OLD DISPUTE resolution nonprofit agency is helping students at area schools get along. The Steelcase Foundation recently awarded $50,000 to the nonprofit Dispute Resolution Center of West Michigan, 678 Front Ave. NW. The center will use the money to further develop its restorative justice program in three area schools for the next two years. The center, which celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2016, focuses on solving disputes for individuals and organizations, said Christine Gilman, executive director. “We’re a community dispute resolution center,” she said. “There are 18 centers across the state. We provide conflict resolution services and training.” The grant will focus on the restorative justice program at Lee Middle School in Wyoming, Kelloggsville Middle School and Wyoming High School. “This is the first year we were in Wyoming High School and Kelloggsville and the third year we were at Lee,” Gilman said. “It’s been roughly the same number of student participants. … A lot of them are friendship conflicts.” The program, run by employees of the center, deals with a variety of studentteacher and peer conflicts. These conflicts can involve physical fights, discipline issues, social media disputes or even course work. School conflicts are resolved in what the center calls restorative circles. “Circles are when a facilitator sits down with individuals with a conflict, so it either is those involved or witnesses or others affected,” Gilman said. “They talk about four things: what happened, who was harmed, how do we repair the harm and what can we do to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

AN AREA PRISON is taking a real-world approach to inmate job training. Vocational Village, which is housed at the Richard A. Handlon Correctional Facility in Ionia, offers prisoners the opportunity to learn in-demand job skills in welding, plumbing, electrical trades, building trades, automotive repair and CNC machining. Heidi Washington, director of the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC), was responsible for creating the program. She said the curriculum “simulates the real world as much as possible, where the expectations are high.” “They are putting in full days of work, programming and school in an environment with other offenders who have the same goals for success. They live in a unit with other prisoners, where everyone is focused on the same thing,” Washington said. She said about 140 prisoners with 15 months or less left on their sentences currently are enrolled, and the capacity will be increased to more than 200 in the near future. Washington said the MDOC is working on creating similar experiences in other correctional facilities across the state. “We’re creating a second Vocational Village in Jackson, and the goal is to have that opened in February,” she said. “And then we are planning something for the female population (at the Women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility in Ypsilanti), and we’re still crafting how that will look.” Washington said she is proud of the way the program has changed lives. “If you talk to any of the offenders, they will tell you how this program has given them an opportunity for success,” she said.

Cascade Engineering

Dispute Resolution Center of West Michigan

22 GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS JOURNAL 2016 NEWSMAKERS OF THE YEAR

Richard A. Handlon Correctional Facility Vocational Village


We are honored to be identified individually amongst the nominees in the Grand Rapids Business Journals 2016 Newsmakers of the year — but it should not really be about us. We wish to recognize our Clients, Friends and Community for your inspiration, partnership and collaboration in helping us play a role in making Grand Rapids an outstanding place to live, work and be entertained. We also would like to recognize some of the finest and most talented people in West Michigan ... our co-workers at CWD Real Estate Investment. They are tireless in their pursuit of excellence and service to our customers and clients — and are also a pretty fun bunch of folks to spend time with. We are very blessed ... Sam, Scott and Dan.

#GRBJPodcast is a new, free weekly feature from Grand Rapids Business Journal. Join the Business Journal reporting team and special guests as we discuss the week’s most interesting and impactful stories from the Grand Rapids business community. We’ll also be hosting local newsmakers in the studio for regular, insightful interviews. Visit grbj.com for a new episode each Tuesday! Listen on iTunes, SoundCloud, Stitcher and Google Play! PODCAST SPONSORS

#GRBJPodcast

2016 NEWSMAKERS OF THE YEAR GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS JOURNAL 23


category: manufacturing

Cedric Duclos

Rich Sorota

Matt Missad

FRENCH COMPANY HUTCHINSON is a Michigan comeback story. The company opened its North American Innovation Hub, officially named 616 Fab House, one year ago, after nearly closing the doors to its Grand Rapids plant on Fuller Avenue only a few years prior. Cedric Duclos, Hutchinson North America president and CEO, was dispatched to Grand Rapids and tasked with turning around the facility, which focuses on developing, engineering and manufacturing noise/vibration/harshness systems for the automotive industry. “When I came here, it was in very hard, difficult times because this facility was in very bad shape — losing a lot of money,” Duclos said. The company had a combined 437 employees between its Grand Rapids and Cadillac plants, which work in conjunction with one another. Duclos recognized a talented workforce and was determined to not only save the facility but to invest in it for the long term. When Hutchinson was considering where to locate its North American Innovation Center, Duclos successfully advocated for Grand Rapids’ selection. Now, Grand Rapids is home to a 13,400-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility that serves five of Hutchinson’s global divisions. It brings employees and customers together from around the world. These visitors, in turn, contribute to the Grand Rapids economy. Duclos noted the 616 Fab House is responsible for new jobs, multimillion-dollar investments and a slew of hotel stays, lunches and dinners, and many visits to cultural attractions throughout the city. Specifically, one area hotel said since January, Hutchinson was responsible for $110,000 in room nights.

AFTER 22 YEARS AS a tenant at 4701 E. Paris Ave. SE, Ranir secured the facility as its corporate headquarters this year by purchasing the building. “We felt purchasing our long-time corporate headquarters was an important move to give us complete autonomy and agility in how we operate our business and utilize our space,” Ranir President and CEO Rich Sorota said. The building also supports the company’s R&D and manufacturing and is home to Ranir’s 550 West Michigan employees. Ranir also grew its business with multiple acquisitions in 2016. In July, it acquired teeth-whitening brand Rembrandt from Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc., and in October, it acquired King City, Ontario-based BrushPoint, a maker of store brand manual and power toothbrushes. Sorota, who joined the company in 2015, said the acquisitions are part of Ranir’s strategic plan to focus on product and geographic expansion. Sorota said the Rembrandt brand will provide an opportunity to drive “additional household penetration” in the dental whitening category, while the BrushPoint acquisition will provide “a more robust offering of products and services, enhanced manufacturing capabilities and a broader distribution reach, covering the U.S., Canada and Europe for the company.” Ranir’s Plackers brand, which was acquired in 2009, also celebrated being named the “No. 1 top selling” brand in the flosser category this year. Ranir’s success in 2016 builds on big news the previous year, when the company brought its monthly production of 400,000 power toothbrush heads back to Kentwood from China.

A SLEW OF ACQUISITIONS and record growth helped keep Universal Forest Products Inc. in the headlines this year. The holding company, which provides capital, management and administration to wood-product subsidiaries, in July reported net earnings and net sales that it said were the best of any quarter in the company’s history, and its success continued throughout the rest of the year. Matt Missad, the company’s CEO, has been steering that growth, though he prefers to give the credit to his more than 8,000 employees. Still, Missad is leading the company through acquisitions across the United States, focusing on expansions in the Pacific Northwest and Southeastern parts of the country. He also is focusing on global acquisition opportunities. By July 2016, UFPI announced acquisitions of Idaho Western Inc. of Nampa, Idaho, and Robbins Manufacturing Co. of Tampa, Florida, for instance. Those firms are expected to add $100 million in annual gross sales to UFPI. More recently, it announced it had acquired “all outstanding shares” of The UBEECO Group Pty, Ltd., a $21-million company based in Erskine Park, Australia, that makes industrial wood packaging, growing the company’s Australian business. Missad also is taking on the West Michigan talent shortage by creating UFPI’s own two-year education program, which it launched this past fall. Students of the program receive 10 hours of classroom instruction each week and spend 20-25 hours on the floor as part of an accompanying paid internship. Missad said the goal is to provide program participants with the equivalent of the business administration major upon completion of the program and a job offer.

Hutchinson

Ranir

24 GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS JOURNAL 2016 NEWSMAKERS OF THE YEAR

Universal Forest Products Inc.


VISIT OUR WEST MICHIGAN BLOG AT: MEDIUM.COM/@COLLIERSWESTMICHIGAN

COLLIERS.COM/WESTMICHIGAN GRAND RAPIDS +1 616 774 3500 HOLLAND +1 616 394 4500 KALAMAZOO +1 269 978 0245


category: nonprofits

Jorge Gonzalez

Peter Secchia and Richard DeVos

Carla Blinkhorn

THIS PAST SPRING, the West Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce launched an annual business pitch competition aimed at Hispanic small business owners and entrepreneurs. Jorge Gonzalez, executive director of the chamber, said the organization began to notice a dearth of Hispanic faces at other local pitch events and recognized a language barrier might have something to do with the lack of entries. Gonzalez said the chamber’s Business Pitch Competition offers interpreters for Spanish-speaking entrants, and it also markets directly to Spanish-speaking business owners — something that wasn’t being done aggressively by other competitions. The chamber secured financial support from Fifth Third Bank and an in-kind donation for legal services from Varnum law firm to launch the competition, which was held for the first time this past May. Eighteen local Latino entrepreneurs and small-business owners competed in the event, with 10 making the first cut and five ultimately selected as winners, splitting the $5,750 in prize money. The winners included a private chauffeur business, landscaping company, a women’s clothing and accessories store, a nail salon and a restaurant. With a successful first event, Gonzalez said, “This is just the beginning.” He said he hopes next year’s event will be even bigger. “Hispanic businesses are a major part of the economic system in West Michigan, so it’s a benefit to all of us,” he said.

TWO LOCAL COUPLES provided a $15-million injection this spring to the Michigan State University Grand Rapids Research Center, set to open later this year. The gift from the DeVos and Secchia families contributes “a significant portion” of the private fundraising goal of $40 million for the facility, set through MSU’s Empower Extraordinary campaign. The gift supports construction of the $88.1-million biomedical research center. “We are tremendously grateful for the ongoing generosity of the Secchia and DeVos families and their vision of a better, healthier world,” MSU President Lou Anna Simon said. “They have imagined and made a commitment to invest in the medical discoveries that are yet to come and believe this community will be a driving force in making them happen.” The center will be part of MSU’s College of Human Medicine and will support 44 research teams searching for answers to a variety of illnesses and critical health issues, from autism and Parkinson’s disease to Alzheimer’s disease and reproductive medicine. The facility is expected to generate approximately 400 jobs and increase local annual spending to the region by more than $28 million. Both families previously have supported the expansion of MSU’s medical presence into West Michigan. Peter and Joan Secchia were the primary donors for the Secchia Center - MSU College of Human Medicine’s headquarters in downtown Grand Rapids. Amway co-founder Richard DeVos, who received an honorary MSU degree in 2009, and Helen DeVos also provided lead gifts to support the completion of the Secchia Center.

THE YWCA WEST CENTRAL Michigan serves roughly 5,000 individuals a year in West Michigan who are dealing with the impact of sexual assault, sexual abuse and domestic violence. Many of these women enter the doors of the YWCA at the most dangerous time in their lives: when they are trying to escape violence. Six years ago, the nonprofit began discussing improvements needed to its domestic violence shelter and its headquarters at 25 Sheldon Blvd. SE, where it has been located since 1922. “If you want someone to feel like this is a place where you can start healing, it can’t look like everything around them needs to be healed,” YWCA CEO Carla Blinkhorn said. The YWCA embarked on its Transformation campaign, raising $7.2 million for renovations. Last spring, its revamped domestic violence shelter opened, and this fall, the YWCA reopened the doors to its headquarters. The headquarters renovation included repurposing a “totally useless” basement floor and turning it into a services hub. It now houses interview rooms, crisis offices, waiting rooms, examination rooms, an overnight room for the center’s on-call nurses, a lab and bathroom with a shower for sexual assault survivors. The basement level and YWCA’s therapy floor have been outfitted with a soundmuffling system to give survivors a sense of tranquility and provide an extra layer of privacy. Additionally, the upgrades to the building’s bandwidth capabilities allow for YWCA staff to meet with survivors via Skype or other video communication technologies.

West Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

Michigan State University Grand Rapids Research Center

26 GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS JOURNAL 2016 NEWSMAKERS OF THE YEAR

YWCA West Central Michigan


Thank You

West Michigan for making us a 2016 Newsmaker

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GRPS Superintendent Teresa Weatherall Neal with her grandson (a GRPS student) and his parents, Kerby and Denishea Killingham.

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Be Part of the Energy, Excitement, and Success of the GRPS Transformation! * Support the Grand Rapids Student

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GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS JOURNAL is pleased to announce that Rhonda Kallman will be in Grand Rapids on March 15, 2017, as the keynote speaker for the biennial Top Women Owned Businesses awards luncheon event.

Reserve your seats now at 2017grbjtwob.eventbrite.com Contact sponsor@grbj.com for sponsorship opportunities.

S THE FOUNDING PARTNER and Executive Vice President of Boston Beer Co., brewer of Samuel Adams, for 15 years, Rhonda Kallman helped build the most successful craft beer company in the world — one with a $3 billion market cap. One of Draft Magazine’s “Top 10 Innovators” in the beer industry, Kallman helped build Boston Beer’s innovative infrastructure and create the most-admired and best-trained sales force in the industry. With $200+ million in annual revenues, Kallman utilized unique go-to-market strategies that capitalized on the power of sales, promotion and marketing. With a well coordinated and integrated message, Samuel Adams Boston Lager quickly became regarded as “The Best Beer in America.” Throughout her time with the Boston Beer Company, Kallman was committed to recruiting and promoting women within the company, shattering the proverbial glass ceiling that was once standard in the industry. She now serves as Founder/CEO of the Boston Harbor Distillery and is also a sought-after speaker on the topics of women in business, leading a team, sales/marketing, and overcoming adversity. She is known within the beverage industry as “The Queen of Beer”.

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2016 NEWSMAKERS OF THE YEAR GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS JOURNAL 27


category: real estate

Sam Cummings

John Wheeler

Mike VanGessel

CWD REAL ESTATE Investment continued to stockpile square footage in its downtown office portfolio in 2016. Managing Partner Sam Cummings and the team at CWD made the biggest splash of the year’s real estate transactions, with the acquisition of the 330,000-square-foot Fifth Third Center, 111 Lyon St. NW and 200 Monroe Ave. NE, from Fifth Third Bank. “The opportunity to re-design and revitalize the anchor properties in this area is extraordinary,” Cummings said. “We’re excited to build on Fifth Third’s legacy with these buildings.” The company likely will sit on the building for a period of time but expects to help transform its exterior to help contribute to improved “activation” of downtown Grand Rapids. “It’s going to be a lot of hard work, but we’re not afraid of a lot of work,” Cummings said. “This project and the surrounding area all represent part of a canvas that has the opportunity to fully fulfill itself. It’s going to be a riot.” CWD also finished its renovation of The Rowe, a $28-million project to restore The Hotel Rowe, built in 1923 at 201 Michigan St. NW. The company also began the renovation of the Calder Plaza Building, 250 Monroe Ave. NW. The 160,000-square-foot office building is mostly empty, as the firm updates the building as a Class A space. “If you make the investment, it works,” Cummings said. “Timing is great. It affords us opportunity to attract and accommodate a business of significant scale. “And it’s all that and a bag of chips: urban, improved streetscape and convenient parking.”

ORION CONSTRUCTION is busy building from the ground-up all over Grand Rapids. The firm completed the $45-million Arena Place, complete with the Meritage Hospitality Group restaurant, The Wheelhouse, named after John Wheeler, Orion’s director of development. Nearby, the $22-million Venue Tower is finishing up as part of a development that includes Gilmore Collection’s 20 Monroe Live, which Orion also is building. Venue Tower will include micro units to help diversify housing stock downtown. “We’re diversifying the options within the Arena District and, hopefully, bringing in a new demographic that wants to live a highly social and active lifestyle,” Wheeler said. “It’s about efficiency and the impact of everything from the physical space to the utilities to the lifestyle it encourages.” The company also is nearing the finish of Fulton Square, a $9.6-million, 47unit development at Carlton Avenue and East Fulton Street, as well as Gateway at Belknap on Hastings Street NE, along Coit Avenue NE to Clancy Avenue NE. Orion also started construction on River’s Edge, 1001 Monroe Ave. NW, a 57,103-square-foot building with 32 apartments and ground-floor retail. Scheduled to begin in 2017 is the 150 Ottawa project, a $63.5-million development with two 14-story towers, one residential and one office, and a seven-level parking structure. The development would feature 13,000 square feet of retail, 120,000 square feet of office and 123 one- and twobedroom apartments. Orion also led the renovation efforts of several spaces in Bridgewater Place, 333 Bridge St. NW.

GRAND RAPIDS’ WEST SIDE saw a lot of developments finish up in 2016, which means Rockford Construction and CEO Mike VanGessel were wrapping up some major projects. Perhaps most notably was the opening of New Holland Brewing Co.’s Grand Rapids 40,000-square-foot taproom, The Knickerbocker, on Bridge Street, which was in partnership with Rockford, as well as the Barley Flats, an apartment building next door. The construction firm also finished up work on the nearby 616 Lofts on Alabama, a $20-million, 100,000-square-foot development for 616 Development. On Fulton Street, Rockford completed Fulton Place, featuring 109 apartments for Grand Valley State University students and filled out retail space with Rowster Coffee, Rower’s Club and Spoonlicker’s. The firm also continued its work on Davenport’s W.A. Lettinga Campus, finishing the Donald W. Maine College of Business and continued work on the $88.1-million Michigan State University Grand Rapids Research Center. Rockford also created a lot of discussion when it released plans for a major development on the West Side near its Seward Avenue headquarters. The proposed three-building development would include a Meijer, apartments and office space, as well as a parking garage. To help facilitate the growth of development in neighborhoods, Rockford hired Brad Mathis, a former Mercy Health executive, to be the company’s community development director. “His unique skill set is very complementary to our work, and his ideas enrich not only our team, but our partners and neighbors,” VanGessel said. “As Rockford continues to develop for a changing world, Brad’s perspective is invaluable.”

CWD Real Estate Investment

Orion Construction

28 GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS JOURNAL 2016 NEWSMAKERS OF THE YEAR

Rockford Construction


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category: retail

Scott Wierda

Richard Keyes

Dennis Eidson

BRETON VILLAGE HAS been a hotbed of retail activity the past few years, especially when it comes to stores coming to West Michigan for the first time. CWD Real Estate Investment Managing Partner Scott Wierda bought Breton Village in the early 2000s, along with his Jade Pig Venture partner Brian DeVries, with a promising vision. “We were maybe contrarian for a while,” Wierda said. “Perhaps, the downturn helped us even though it hurt us. Although we lost tenants, 2007 and 2008 helped show retailers that fundamentals do matter.” While stores have been moving to Breton Village since 2011, when Anthropologie started the movement, 2016 was its biggest splash, as it opened Fresh Thyme Farmers Market and welcomed Sur La Table. Free People announced its location at Breton Village in 2016. Other “firsts to West Michigan” at Breton Village include lululemon, West Elm and Evereve. The year also saw the announcement and beginning of Breton Village Mall’s “demalling.” The mall is adding a 14,000-square-foot building on the outskirts of the parking lot to house Talbots and Rx Optical, as well as more retail and restaurants, before the main mall is reconfigured and renovated. Wierda expects to make new announcements on tenants in the near future. “The type of fashion and specialty tenants we’re going after and attracting, they’re not interested in enclosed malls,” he said. “We can do a little more diversity in tenants, more market-unique tenants. Many of the tenants we’ve brought in are the one store the company has in the region.”

MEIJER INVESTED MORE than $400 million into its stores in 2016 and stayed devoted to its hometown. President and CEO Richard Keyes likely looks to build on 2016, with many Meijer stores positioned to serve consumers better thanks to the significant investments in new and old stores. Keyes was named the company’s first nonfamily member to be CEO. The retailer made a commitment to Michigan beer by shipping out six breweries in a display in all six states with locations. Meijer also committed to use all cage-free eggs by 2025. The retailer also opened its Meijer Heritage Center at the corporate campus to pay tribute to the company’s history. In philanthropic endeavors in 2016, Meijer donated up to $500,000 from its holiday season toy sales and donated $5 for every flu shot at its 230 locations to the Simply Give program, Meijer’s program that stocks food pantries in the Midwest. Meijer also sent truckloads of water and $500,000 to support Flint. Perhaps most exciting for the people of Grand Rapids, however, was the announcement with Rockford Construction of the development of a grocery store near downtown. “We are very pleased to be presented with the opportunity to partner with Rockford Construction in this exciting development,” Keyes said. “Rockford has been a strategic partner to Meijer for many years, and while it’s still early in the planning stages, we are confident that we’ll be able to provide a neighborhood grocery store that will complement this project.”

SPARTANNASH FINISHED multiple renovations to West Michigan stores, made a significant acquisition and made several leadership changes to accompany CEO Dennis Eidson. The company finished a $2.8-million renovation at Breton Village Mall and a $4.2-million project in Grand Haven. SpartanNash announced in November that it entered a deal with Indianapolisbased Caito Foods Service and Blue Ribbon Transport for $217.5 million. The two companies have combined revenue of more than $600 million and will help SpartanNash’s push into freshly prepared food categories, including centerplate and side dishes. “We are excited about this opportunity to expand our presence in serving some of the fastest-growing categories in grocery, including fresh produce, value-added fruits and vegetables, and protein-based prepared food,” Eidson said. Wisconsin grocery chain Gordy’s Markets signed SpartanNash to be its wholesaler for a 21-store and 13 fuel station network. SpartanNash also filled multiple leadership positions in 2016. COO Dave Staples added president to his business card; Chris Meyers was named CFO; Kathleen Mahoney was named chief legal officer; Tammy Hurley was announced as chief accounting officer; and Yvonne Trupiano was named chief human resources officer. The publicly-traded company also had two board member named to Savoy Magazine’s “Power 300: 2016 Most Influential Black Corporate Directors” in Yvonne Jackson and Hawthorne “Peet” Proctor.

Breton Village Mall

Meijer Inc.

30 GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS JOURNAL 2016 NEWSMAKERS OF THE YEAR

SpartanNash


category: sports

Dan DeVos

Lesley Baker

Maria Besta

WHEN IT LOOKED like the lone ice arena in Holland was heading for an uncertain future, Grand Rapids Griffins majority owner Dan DeVos stepped in to save hockey in Holland. DeVos purchased the 100,000-squarefoot Edge Ice Arena, 4444 Holland Ave., for an undisclosed amount in September, essentially keeping afloat the home arena for Hope College, West Ottawa High School and the Holland Ice Dogs teams. The previous ownership group, Edge Ice Arena LLC, was approached by several groups looking to transform the 18-yearold arena into a manufacturing facility. But with DeVos stepping in, ice hockey will continue in Holland. “I wanted to see the Edge Ice Arena continue as a viable part of sports and recreation in the Holland area,” DeVos said. Edge Ice Arena has two rinks, locker rooms, concession stands, meeting areas and a private observation area. DeVos said at the time of purchase, he would explore ways to increase the arena’s overall usage. The arena’s new official ownership entity is DV Holland Hockey, which is included as part of DeVos’ sports operations. DeVos’ DP Fox Sports & Entertainment manages the arena, which contributed $4.4 million to the Holland area, according to a Holland Convention & Visitors Bureau study. DP Fox Sports & Entertainment also operates Griff ’s Ice House at Belknap Park in Grand Rapids, which is the practice arena for the Griffins.

IT DIDN’T TAKE LONG for the Meijer LPGA Classic to receive recognition as one of the top events of the tour. Last February, the 2015 tournament was recognized with seven awards at the LPGA Annual Gold Driver Awards, including the top honor — The Dave Goff Series Award, which recognizes the entire body of work from a tournament. “We are thrilled to receive this recognition for the Meijer LPGA Classic — just in its second year,” tournament director Lesley Baker said. “Meijer really goes above and beyond to make this a cannot-miss event in the Grand Rapids community, all while supporting local food pantries through Simply Give.” The 2016 edition of the tournament also is well on its way in adulation, ranking among the top four tournaments on the LPGA Tour in terms of attendance, attracting more than 50,000 spectators during the four-day June tournament at Blythefield Country Club in Belmont. In addition to the tournament, which will return in June, more than 200 children participated in junior clinics, 625 people ran the event’s 5K and more than 10,000 guests visited the Grand Taste event. The Meijer LPGA Classic also raised $850,000 for the Meijer Simply Give Program, the retailer’s hunger-relief program for food pantries. In the three years the tournament has been hosted in the Grand Rapids area, it has generated $2.1 million for Simply Give and had an estimated economic impact of $6 million in West Michigan.

AS MANAGER OF recreational therapy and the Mary Free Bed Wheelchair & Adaptive Sports Program, Maria Besta heads up one of the largest programs of its kind in the country. The program, which serves about 700 athletes each year, was one of the key benefactors of the recently completed second phase of Mary Free Bed’s ongoing $66.4-million expansion and renovation project. The Wheelchair & Adaptive Sports department has a new home on the newly renovated first floor of the Bernedine Keller & Barbara Hoffius Center, enabling inpatients, outpatients and community members to register for adaptive sports clinics and teams, try specialized sports wheelchairs or view the on-display adaptive equipment. The placement of the adaptive sports room and wheelchairs on the first floor of the new facility was very intentional due to the importance of the program and the hope and inspiration provided to patients and their families. In December, the Mary Free Bed YMCA, which celebrated its one-year anniversary and has been instrumental in the growth of the program, hosted the National Wheelchair Basketball Association tournament, bringing more than 100 wheelchair basketball athletes from Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Ontario, Canada. The program encompasses 18 sports and recreational activities in both winter/ fall and spring/summer sessions. Among the sports included are wheelchair basketball, sled hockey, quad rugby, swim lessons, wheelchair tennis, wheelchair softball, kayaking and canoeing, and rock climbing.

Edge Ice Arena

Meijer LPGA Classic

32 GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS JOURNAL 2016 NEWSMAKERS OF THE YEAR

Mary Free Bed Wheelchair & Adaptive Sports Program


CONTRIBUTING TO FUTURE MOBILITY


category: startups

Danny Vessells

Sara Moylan

Mark Gurney

GROWING UP, Danny Vessells heard stories about how a number of logging sleds too heavy to cross Lake Louise in Boyne Falls had fallen through the ice and sunk to the bottom of the lake. But without being scuba certified, Vessells had no way of verifying these claims. When he returned to Hope College for his junior year, he had an idea. Vessells recruited his friends, Matthew Gira and John Boss, also students at Hope, to help him develop an affordable underwater drone system — and Fathom was born. The Fathom team developed a prototype in spring 2016 and began to test the drone in a pool. The most recent iteration of the prototype is called Fathom One. “This one has been really rugged and battle tested,” Vessells said. Fathom One is equipped with a 1080p camera and onboard high-intensity LEDs, in addition to a patent-pending modular thruster attachment system that allows for easy removal. Controlled via a smartphone app, Fathom One is capable of diving 150 feet underwater. Vessells said the biggest draw for Fathom One will be the price — $600, or about $1,000 cheaper than the closest competition. “We’re focused on anybody being to be able to pick it up,” he said. Fathom completed a Kickstarter to fund product development through Edgewater Automation, a St. Joseph-based custom automation manufacturer. It raised $197,943 with an original goal of $150,000. Fathom plans to commit to full production by March 2017. By June, the plan is to begin to fulfill Kickstarter pre-orders and release Fathom One to the public.

IT’S BEEN A banner year for Sara Moylan. Moylan, founder of Jenison-based sports bra-maker Shefit, established in 2013, caught a deal from ABC’s “Shark Tank” investor Daymond John, founder of FUBU, who made an offer of $250,000 in exchange for 33 percent ownership of the company. Moylan’s product, the Shefit sports bra, is designed with an adjustable bust band and shoulder straps for a customized fit to help women who have struggled with back pain or shoulder strain. Moylan and her husband, Bob, accepted the “Shark Tank” deal and are using the funds to improve Shefit’s inventory position and manufacturing capacity. Additionally, Moylan was named as one of the top 10 finalists for the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce’s 2016 ATHENA Young Professional Award, which recognizes emerging leaders for their contributions to the community, professional excellence and commitment to serving as a role model to young women. Shefit also was named one of the country’s “best entrepreneurial companies” in the “Entrepreneur 360” 2016 issue. Honorees on the magazine’s list were selected based on the results of a study that looked at companies’ innovation, growth, leadership and impact. Using those metrics, Shefit ranked No. 293 out of 360. It is the only company in West Michigan on the list. Moylan said the ranking was “truly an honor.” “The simple fact is I started this company to help solve a common problem for women of every size and every age,” she said. “Being recognized for the work our team is doing is incredibly humbling.”

A STARTUP THAT recently closed a $5-million Series A venture financing round and won $5 million in federal grants aims to make a difference in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. Grand Rapids-based Tetra Discovery Partners received funding from Kalamazoobased Apjohn Group and Holland-based Grand Angels, with the participation of previous investors, as well as Dolby Family Ventures, the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation and other private investors. The financing allows Tetra to finalize preparations for a planned Phase 2a study of BPN14770, Tetra’s lead drug candidate in treating Alzheimer’s disease. The study is expected to occur in the second half of 2017. Tetra also received a pair of federal grants from the National Institutes of Health worth $5 million. A $2-million Phase 2b Small Business Innovation Research grant from the National Institute on Aging will support Tetra’s Phase 1 multiple-ascending dose study of its Alzheimer’s drug in healthy volunteers over the age of 60. A $3-million grant from the National Institute of Mental Health will support Tetra’s discovery program in treating depression. “We have made significant progress over the last four years, advancing from initial discovery of BPN14770 through the completion of a sequence of Phase 1 clinical studies in young and elderly volunteers,” Tetra Chairman and CEO Mark Gurney said. Tetra Discovery Partners is a clinicalstage biotechnology company developing products to treat Alzheimer’s and other brain disorders. A potential therapy drug, A33, developed by Tetra to help victims of traumatic brain injury, is being tested by University of Miami researchers and will enter clinical trials in 2017.

Fathom

Shefit

34 GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS JOURNAL 2016 NEWSMAKERS OF THE YEAR

Tetra Discovery Partners


Dennis Eidson, CEO and Chairman 2016 GRBJ Newsmaker of the Year finalist

SpartanNash is taking food places and making headlines ... What a year we’ve had! In 2016, SpartanNash:

• Was selected by the Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) to bring private label products to U.S. military commissaries a first in commissary history! • Acquired Caito Foods Service and Blue Ribbon Transport. • Was named to the National Best and Brightest Companies to Work For list. • Was named the wholesale food distributor for Gordy’s Market, a chain of 26 stores in Wisconsin. • Invested more than $70 million in retail, fleet and IT upgrades to better serve our store guests and independent customers. • Expanded the Family Fare Supermarkets banner to 14 stores in the Omaha, Neb. area. • Diverted more than 235 million pounds of materials from landfills. • Donated $1.5 million and 2.58 million pounds of food to the communities where we live and work. • Through the SpartanNash Foundation, awarded more than $1.8 million to community nonprofits. spartannash.com


category: sustainability

Kris and Jason Spaulding

Peter Secchia

Daniel Schoonmaker

BREWERY VIVANT HAS been a leader not just in West Michigan but across the country in bringing sustainability to brewery operations. Since opening in 2010, sustainability has been a goal of the brewery, but this year, the business has the opportunity to begin putting even more resources toward these efforts. “As the capital flow to brewing equipment and physical build-outs has slowed, the concentration on sustainability can strengthen,” said owners Kris and Jason Spaulding. One way to achieve this is through its commitment to its B Corp certification. Kris Spaulding said Brewery Vivant first earned its B Corp certification in 2014, with a score of 86. In 2016, while going through the recertification process, it was randomly selected for an on-site audit and scored 110. The additional points earned had to do with the brewery’s financial growth, which has allowed it to offer better employee benefits and to better identify and strengthen company policies. “I think we got as much low- and midhanging fruit as possible, so when we recertify again two years from now, the bar will be that much higher,” she said. “It’s nice to have a tool to keep pushing us.” Brewery Vivant also has increased its local sourcing, purchasing 10,000 pounds of beef for its 20,000 hamburgers a year from Wernette Beef Farm in Remus, and the business added 195 solar panels from Copemishbased CBS Solar across the roofs of the taproom and brewery facility. Spaulding said it’s been a goal to provide 10 percent of power by on-site renewable resources, and the new panels will bring onsite renewable power to 20 percent, up from .00001 percent when the brewery opened.

WEST MICHIGAN’S LARGEST urban park grew by 50 acres this summer with the addition of The Meadows. Millennium Park was able to expand thanks in large part to a multimillion-dollar gift from the Secchia Foundation and additional gifts from the Bill Currie family and employees of Grand Rapids-based Universal Forest Products Inc. The Secchia family, which has been a lead contributor and fundraiser since Millennium Park’s inception 17 years ago, financed a majority of The Meadows, including construction of its pavilion, amphitheater and boardwalk. The site features The William F. Grant Pavilion, Currie Family Amphitheater and Employees of Universal Forest Products Boardwalk, as well as links to an existing trail system and an expansive lawn area for public events. The Grant Pavilion was named in honor of William F. Grant Sr., who founded Universal Forest Products in 1955 and was Peter Secchia’s mentor when he was hired in 1962. “William Grant was a wonderful man whom everyone liked, and I am elated to have the opportunity to honor him with this wonderful pavilion that is set among contributions from the entire Universal Forest Products family, including the Currie family and all of its employees,” Secchia said. Jim Saalfeld, chair of the Kent County Board of Commissioners, said Kent County is “incredibly fortunate” to have the Secchia family as a “major benefactor and biggest supporter of Millennium Park, which today stands as one of the largest land reclamation projects in Michigan — and perhaps in the Midwest.” Millennium Park consists of 1,400 acres of “rolling terrain” and six miles of frontage on the Grand River.

DANIEL SCHOONMAKER wants your trash. That’s because a recent study conducted by the West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum (WMSBF), where Schoonmaker serves as executive director, and Grand Valley State University found Michigan residents and businesses are throwing away garbage valued at hundreds of millions of dollars every year. Specifically, the Economic Impact Potential and Characterization of Municipal Solid Waste in Michigan study found Michiganders are throwing away $368 million a year in valuable trash. In many cases, that money is literally going up in smoke at incinerators across the state. The value of that trash is even higher if you consider the jobs that could be created in the process of recycling or reclaiming that trash – up to 2,619 – and a total economic impact on the state of $399 million per year. In West Michigan, specifically — Kent, Ottawa, Muskegon, Allegan, Montcalm, Ionia and Barry counties — the study pegged the economic value of waste in landfills at $52 million, with a potential economic value of diversion to be $56 million and a potential employment impact of 370 jobs. Schoonmaker’s goal is to start capturing that monetary loss by engaging the community in more robust recycling efforts. “A resident or business in a community with a robust recycling program and commercial composting would find it relatively easy to divert 85 percent of their garbage from the landfill,” Schoonmaker said. “Michigan can achieve its 30 percent recycling rate goal without any extraordinary measures. We just need citizens and businesses to take advantage of conventional recycling options.”

Brewery Vivant

Millennium Park

36 GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS JOURNAL 2016 NEWSMAKERS OF THE YEAR

West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum


CONGRATULATIONS MATT MISSAD! Universal Forest Products

Dear Matt: Imagine our excitement one Saturday morning in late December when we received the notice that you were a finalist for Grand Rapids Business Journal’s Newsmaker of the Year. You know us—your friends and co-workers—and you must know that we couldn’t just stand by. So we sent a memo to Carole Valade, singing your praises, and we bought this ad. Why? Because we think you deserve to win—and we want everyone to know why. Some of us were with you when you showed up in 1982 at Universal Forest Products as a 16-year-old Ottawa High School student. You cut grass, did janitorial work—and anything else we asked you to do that summer. We noticed how well you did your job and how hard you worked, and we knew that you were someone special; someone who could help our young (then) business grow. So, we bought this ad to send a giant “THANK YOU” to the judges for nominating you for this award, and to say this: “MATT MISSAD DESERVES TO WIN THIS AWARD!” Who else in Grand Rapids has been recognized by Fortune Magazine as one of the top 50 business CEO’s in the world (selected as number 45), and is the leader of one of the best-managed companies in Michigan (as determined by Forbes Magazine), and that was recently featured in a Barron’s article as the CEO of their best performing stock in their highly successful manufacturing fund? (And that’s just for starters). This all happened without a PR Department at UFP. No one at UFP or SIBSCO knew that you were in the running for this recognition (we found out after the articles were published). But we did learn about Newsmaker of the Year in late December, and we now make our personal effort to tell the city how proud we are of what you have done. From lawn boy to CEO of a $3 Billion company! You surely deserve a little “home-town love” through this award. (Matt: don’t let it go to your head, we have other things we could write, too). Love ya . . . We know you . . . and love you even more because of that! Pete & Bill (Your Proud and Self Appointed Mentors)


category: technology

Garry VonMyhr

Meredith Bronk

Adam Kramer

JUST FIVE YEARS following the set up of its first retail location, Genius Phone Repair has grown with vigor. Garry VonMyhr and his partners, Jordan Notenbaum and Steve Barnes, have kept the company growing by diversifying as technology continues to advance. The bread and butter has been the company’s 17 corporate-owned Genius stores in Michigan and Indiana, which repair more than 10,000 electronic items a month, up from 50 phones a week when it first opened. Today, Genius features three business operations, including a wholesale company for phone parts and a K-12 school business, repairing electronics for educational partners. The company now employs more than 160 people. When Genius first started its retail repair outlets, there were only about 3,000 places doing so in the U.S. Now with more than 15,000 outlets nationwide, it’s less lucrative, but the company’s other endeavors are taking off. The first was Mobile Defenders, as Genius leadership realized companies weren’t good at sourcing products. “Other suppliers didn’t seem to understand the industry,” VonMyhr said. “We were in a unique position in that we were working in it and gaining knowledge. We were able to vet the quality and sell these parts to our competitors.” The third, the education venture, capitalizes on the increase of technology use in schools, which see approximately a 25 percent breakage rate within a school. The company insures more than 60,000 units in the U.S. for $50, with the cost of such repairs generally running between $100 and $150.

OPEN SYSTEMS TECHNOLOGIES proves you don’t have to make a lot of moves to do a lot. OST President and CEO Meredith Bronk and the $160-million company kicked off 2016 with the acquisition of design-consulting firm Visualhero. Visualhero had worked on projects with companies such as Apple, Nest and Amazon Web Services since its founding in 2005. The two companies had paired together the previous few years and will help OST grow into the industry convergence of technology and data. “The changing global business climate is challenging traditional business models,” Bronk said at the time of the acquisition. “This acquisition gives us a greater capacity to drive and internally change how we are leveraging that user-centered perspective.” The next major news from OST didn’t come until December, when the firm announced its expansion into Asia with Singapore and Hong Kong operations in an effort to better help reach its clients and help with speed to market in OST’s data center modernization. Bronk expects the two new markets to add $12 million in revenue annually to start, similar to the revenue the company’s London office contributes. The company also has offices in Grand Rapids, Detroit, Minneapolis and Chicago. “We established a presence in Hong Kong and Singapore, so we can serve our global clients in the most effective and efficient way,” Bronk said. “OST aligns to the cadence of our customers, and for enterprise customers, this means a need for more global-level solutions.”

SWITCH LTD. BARELY IS off the ground with its data center at the former Steelcase Pyramid, but the technology firm’s presence is being felt. In January 2016, the Nevada-based company announced it would power its SuperNAP data center with 100-percent renewable energy by working with Consumers Energy. “We had to find a local utility who could provide a pathway to 100-percent renewable power,” Switch Executive Vice President of Strategy Adam Kramer said. Switch also made a large commitment to the city’s major arts event, ArtPrize, as it hosted STEAM Village at the ArtPrize Hub. The partnership helped exemplify how Switch hopes to have an effect on the region’s science, technology, engineering, arts and math education. “The partnership of Switch and ArtPrize creates the perfect environment for bringing our passion around STEAM educational opportunities to life through hands-on immersive experiences and truly capturing the blend of technology with the creativity of art,” Kramer said. While the full economic impact of Switch has yet to be seen, Las Vegas-based Applied Analysis principal Jeremy Aguero said one just has to look at the company’s impact in Las Vegas. “There’s the initial construction and a constant refresh of the latest, greatest and newest technology going into it,” Aguero said. “If you have $1 billion worth of servers, chances are you’ll have fairly significant human capital that will monitor them.” Switch’s presence already has spurred development in Gaines Township as well, with two hotels, a Marriott brand and Holiday Inn Express, by Grand Hospitality Management off of Broadmoor Avenue SE.

Genius Phone Repair

Open Systems Technologies

38 GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS JOURNAL 2016 NEWSMAKERS OF THE YEAR

Switch Ltd.


Health Care

Greg Loomis, Mercy Health Muskegon Kent Riddle, Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital Michael Faas and Marschall Runge, Metro Health and University of Michigan Health System

Law

Mark Miller, Cascade Engineering Heidi Washington, Richard A. Handlon Correctional Facility Vocational Village Christine Gilman, Dispute Resolution Center of West Michigan

Manufacturing

Cedric Duclos, Hutchinson North American Innovation Center Rich Sorota, Ranir Matthew Missad, Universal Forest Products Inc.

Nonprofits/Philanthropy

Jorge Gonzalez, West Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Peter Secchia and Richard DeVos, Michigan State University Grand Rapids Research Center Carla Blinkhorn, YWCA

Real Estate/Construction

Congratulations

2016 NEWSMAKER OF THE YEAR FINALISTS

Arts & Entertainment

Joseph Calvaruso, Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum Greg Gilmore, 20 Monroe Live Rich MacKeigan, SMG

Beverages

Dave Engbers and Mike Stevens, Founders Brewing Co. John VanTongeren, Ferris Coffee & Nut Jon O’Connor and Kyle Van Strien, Long Road Distillers

Economic Development

Craig Hall and Jennifer Owens, Holland SmartZone Julius Suchy, Village of Sparta Ryan Cotton, Downtown Holland

Education

John Wheeler, Orion Construction Sam Cummings, CWD Real Estate Investment Mike VanGessel, Rockford Construction

Retail

Scott Wierda, CWD Real Estate Investment Rick Keyes, Meijer Inc. Dennis Eidson, SpartanNash Co.

Sports

Maria Besta, Mary Free Bed Wheelchair & Adaptive Sports Program Dan DeVos, Edge Ice Arena Lesley Baker, Meijer LPGA Classic

Jonathan Engelsma, Grand Valley State University Teresa Weatherall Neal, Grand Rapids Public Schools John Knapp, Hope College

Startups

Finance

Sustainability

Jason Wenk, FormulaFolio Investments David Ramaker, Chemical Bank Martin Stein, Blackford Capital

Food

Phil Grashoff, Southwest & West Michigan Agribusiness Alliance Steve Soet, Kent Quality Foods Cliff Meeuwsen, Zeeland Farm Services

THANK YOU TO OUR SPONSORS

Danny Vessells, Fathom Sara Moylan, Shefit Mark Gurney, Tetra Discovery Partners Dan Schoonmaker, West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum Kris and Jason Spaulding, Brewery Vivant Peter Secchia, Millennium Park

Technology

Meredith Bronk, Open Systems Technologies Adam Kramer, Switch Garry VonMyhr, Genius Phone Repair


BUILDERS OF A CHANGING WORLD Mike VanGessel, Rockford’s CEO, is a true business thought leader. His vision is shaping the built environment and reinforcing Rockford’s reputation for leadership and integrity. Congratulations to Mike and to all of West Michigan’s newsmakers on your many accomplishments!

GRBJ - The Newsmakers of the Year - 2016  

Who made news in 2016? The Grand Rapids Business Journal honors finalists in 16 industry categories.

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