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The Aquinas College community congratulates our
“40 Under Forty” honorees Amy Marshall of Management Business Solutions ‘08 Elissa Hillary of Local First ‘05 Bridget Clark Whitney of Kid’s Food basket ‘03 Kristin Salerno Revere of the Michigan House Democratic Office M.M. ‘02 Robert McCarty of the Image Shoppe ‘96
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It’s not about followers; it’s about face time Grand Rapids Business Journal is exceedingly grateful for the extensive time commitment given by the judges who toughed out selection of the 40 Under 40 Class of 2010. The West Michigan community made 132 nominations — a new record. Nominations were sent by co-workers, bosses, business partners, nonprofit board members and friends. Each nominee stood to be counted in the process, and each one is leading the community in one way or other, providing business and community leadership and making a difference. As one judge succinctly noted: “It’s not about your followers; it’s about your face time.” Grand Rapids Business Journal in 1995 began to focus more specifically, and very deliberately, on younger community leaders, creating the highlight of 40 Under 40 published profiles. An event to recognize them and their talents was added during the next year. In a state worried about a “brain drain” and the retention of talented young professionals, it is gratifying to witness the soaring numbers. But it is especially gratifying to see so many nominations from work and business peers, company owners and bosses. To each of you who celebrated the talent within: thank you — and congratulations. The Class of 2010 includes 19 women and 21 men. Two have been elected by popular vote to city councils, eight lead nonprofit organizations and 16 are entrepreneurs. Their profiles were written by Business Journal staff writer Tim Gortsema. All will be honored at a reception at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 4, at the Goei Center, 818 Butterworth St. SW. They will be joined by alumni of previous years and their guests. Bridge Street Capital Partners LLC co-founder Mike Jandernoa is the featured speaker. Congratulations to the diverse Class of 2010. —Carole Valade
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P U B L I C A T I O N S
About the judges Grand Rapids Business Journal was assisted by a pair of distinguished judges for this year’s 40 Under 40 selection process. Chris Scharrer brings more than 30 years of experience in training, facilitation and program development. She is the owner of New Paradigm Solutions. She has developed and provided training at the local, state and national levels for a variety of audiences and has been nationally recognized for excellence in outstanding programming. She provides workshop presentations, facilitation of organizational strategic planning and cultural change, and manages projects centered around leadership development. Scharrer also serves as the Scharrer executive director of Leadership Oakland in Oakland County, one of the nation’s leading regional leadership development programs. Bob Thomas is the director of operations for the Michigan Chamber of Commerce and executive director for the Michigan Chamber Foundation. As executive director for the Michigan Chamber Foundation, Thomas manages programs including Great Ideas for Michigan, Future Forum and Leadership Michigan. He is the director for the Michigan Association of Chamber Professionals and the Council of State Chambers of Commerce. Thomas previously served as assistant to the president and managed special projects and research for the Michigan Chamber of Commerce and Michigan Chamber Foundation. He earned a bachelor of arts from Grand Valley State Thomas University.
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Carolyn O’Connor, 33 Title: Executive Assistant Organization: City of Holland
Bridget Clark Whitney, 30 Title: Executive Director Organization: Kids’ Food Basket
Bridget Clark Whitney doesn’t just fight childhood hunger in West Michigan, she attacks it. Her aggressive attitude toward making sure no child goes hungry is one of the reasons she is part of a 12-member group of under-40 nonprofit professionals from around the country who are collaborating to address the critical challenges facing the nonprofit and philanthropic community. Clark Whitney is a fellow with Independent Sector American Express Next Generation; the group’s final report examines how emerging leaders across sectors can contribute to a conversation that generates collaborative solutions to society’s most pressing problems. Clark Whitney’s experience is a perfect fit with those forward-thinkers. As executive director of Kids’ Food Basket, a nonprofit that provides food to school-age children in West Michigan, she has seen the operation evolve from one employee (herself ) and a $35,000 annual budget to a staff of six with a $1.8 million budget that provides sack suppers to 2,600 students each weekday. She collaborated with corporate volunteers to expand services by 57 percent in 2009-2010 and created Kids Helping Kids, with more than 25 percent of hours now volunteered by youth under age 18, and 35 percent of those receiving meals now participating in volunteer projects. Kids’ Food Basket is garnering national attention, including a Presidential Citizen’s Medal for founder Mary K. Hoodhood this year, and Clark Whitney is leveraging that recognition to spread the word. Eleven states have sought startup information and Clark Whitney expects to see pilot projects initiated in the next two to three years.
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Carolyn O’Connor is comfortable making things happen behind the scenes. As an executive assistant to the city of Holland, O’Connor is privy to many of the decisions that help shape the lakeshore town and plays an active role in implementing many of those directives. She has risen from what she terms a “low-level” plant secretary to the second highest assistant in Holland after just five years on the job. Many of her community contributions also come behind the scenes. She has been a Domestic Violence Crisis Counselor/ Sexual Assault Victims Advocate for the Center for Women in Transition for several years. She also has shared her business experience as a Junior Achievement educator in Holland Public Schools, West Ottawa Public Schools and the Muskegon Juvenile Detention Center. Currently, she’s volunteering as an administrative specialist for Overflow Community Church.
O’Connor also has given her time to the Holland Jaycees and the Michigan Jaycees, where she earned Presidential Medallions while serving as training director and state elections chairperson for the state organization. Her professional memberships include the International Association of Administrative Professionals, American Society of Administrative Professionals and National Association of Professional Women. She maintained Certified Professional Secretary status for a number of years and is currently a licensed ministerial student in The Wesleyan Church’s West Michigan District. With all of that going on, O’Connor put her organizational skills to good use and earned her master’s degree from Indiana Wesleyan University in 2009.
Carrie Borchers, 38 Title: Sales Account Manager Company: IT Resource
Carrie Borchers follows a simple mantra in life: Leave it better than when you arrived. That philosophy worked well as a Girl Scout endeavoring to leave the forest in better shape than when she and her troop entered it. And it works well today in what she calls “the ecosystem of work.” Her natural curiosity and propensity for healthy debate serve her well in her position as sales account manager for IT Resource. She also brings to the table a number of attributes she learned from her parents: Play fair, be a valuable member of the team and always make a positive impact. Borchers could add this to her personal list: Be an important part of your community. She is one of the “faces” of Coopersville, serving as chair of the Coopersville Area Chamber of Commerce’s Ambassador Committee, which is charged with increasing membership, and as Coopersville Rotary Club’s youth exchange officer and public relations chair. Borchers is also a member of the Ad Club of West Michigan and serves in leadership positions with Dwelling Place, Holland Home of Grand Rapids and Inforum West Michigan. When she’s not out increasing IT Resource’s sales (up 27 percent last year), Borchers can be found volunteering with the Economic Club of Grand Rapids, Children’s After School Achievement of Holland, local chapters of the American Marketing Association and League of Women Voters, American Cancer Society’s Cattle Barons’ Ball and Hope College.
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40 under 40 2010 | Grand Rapids Business Journal 7
Jason Palmer, 34
Title: Business Development Associate Company: Clark Construction Co.
emily Stoddard Furrow, 26 Title: Partner Company: DVQ Studio
Emily Stoddard Furrow is a do-gooder and proud of it. As a partner in the communications firm DVQ Studio with Gretchen DeVault, Stoddard Furrow has found a platform to forward her social-change agenda while helping numerous nonprofits grow and achieve their mission. She was a member of the small team that planned the inaugural Grand Rapids GiveCamp, a weekend-long event for nonprofits to receive free Web development and technical support from local professionals. More than 100 volunteers participated and nearly 20 organizations were served, resulting in approximately $710,000 in donated services. She also is the youngest member appointed by Gov. Jennifer Granholm to serve on the Michigan Women’s Commission, where she helped spearhead the Young Women, Strong Leaders Conference. The conference focuses on collegeaged women who may not yet consider themselves leaders and features a series of “career conversations” that engage young women and a diverse panel of professional women at various stages in their careers. The conference model, which was honored by the National Association of Women’s Conferences, is now hosted annually at three schools throughout Michigan. Stoddard Furrow found success at a young age. At age 14, she was writing for an international publication, blue jean magazine, and had her own monthly column syndicated through Knight-Ridder Tribune Newswire by the time she was a senior in high school. As she tries to pass that knowledge and experience on to other young women, people are noticing. In 2009 she received the inaugural Do Gooder Award from the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network.
8 Grand Rapids Business Journal | 40 under 40 2010
Jason Palmer learned almost everything he knows about business while at the center of one of Michigan’s most controversial projects. “My biggest professional break came in March 2004 when I accepted the director of development position with the Gun Lake Tribe. At that time, I was leading the development of a nearly half-a-billion dollar project,” he said. “Working for the Tribe, I was exposed to incredibly diverse experiences in law, lobbying and business.” He negotiated significant contracts with management partners, the state of Michigan and the Michigan Building Trades Council, while participating in the federal legal process on a case that went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. “I lobbied elected officials at the local, state and federal levels. I worked with engineers, architects and construction managers on the design of the casino. I spoke to thousands of people about the project, in both public and private settings,” he said. “Most importantly, I was provided an opportunity to build strong relationships with individuals in the community.”
In addition to his current job with nationally respected Clark Construction, Palmer has immersed himself in community projects. He is a member of the Barry County Chamber of Commerce board of directors and worked with the county’s Economic Development Alliance to forge strong ties between the two organizations and maximize the county’s return on investment. Palmer’s community involvement also extends to roles with the Kalamazoo Regional Chamber of Commerce, Ianelli Fountain workgroup, Gun Lake Tribe Land Use Committee and Kalamazoo Poverty Reduction Initiative.
Sean egan, 32
Title: Business Manager/Financial Secretary Organization: International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers 275 The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers offered Sean Egan an opportunity to enroll in, attend and complete an electrical apprenticeship program. Turns out that was a good decision for both parties. Egan is now a journeyman electrician, but he also serves as business manager for IBEW Local 275 and is responsible for all aspects of managing operations, including contract negotiations, finances, grievances and disputes, organizing, marketing, relationship development and management. As Egan has grown in his IBEW duties, he has learned the value of forging relationships in the community. He is a delegate to and a former vice president of the Kent Ionia Labor Council, where he helps implement strategic political and labor issues. He’s also secretary/treasurer of the West Michigan Building and Construction Trades Council, where his efforts center on fostering cooperation and development of labor management relations and inter-trade cooperation. As a delegate to Friends of Labor, his focus is on implementing a strategic progressive political agenda, including candidate support and training. Egan also finds time to tutor elementary school students in reading, conduct Junior Achievement programs, volunteer for Habitat for Humanity, assist with the annual Letter Carriers Food Drive and serve on the board of Heart of West Michigan United Way. Plus, he is currently enrolled in the juris doctor program at Cooley Law School. What does Egan see as his biggest accomplishment? “Being a good husband and father while also maintaining a strong presence in our community, professionally.”
daniel estrada, 26
elissa Hillary, 27
Daniel Estrada learned the value of hard work early in his adolescence when he started his own website development company. “My first client (was) a small trade association in Grand Rapids,” he said. “I presented a proposal to its board of directors when I was 13, and they gave me the opportunity to start my career at a very young age. That made a big difference to a nerdy but ambitious kid who wanted to be a business owner.” By age 17, he was working as a contractor for blue-chipper IBM just outside of New York City, which opened his eyes to the world of corporate America. Estrada hasn’t looked back since. He speaks three languages fluently, has lived and worked all over the world and has founded a number of businesses and organizations — including the local chapter of Association of Litigation Support Professionals — that are filling niches previously not served.
Elissa Hillary thinks locally but participates nationally. The executive director of Local First was chosen as one of four executive directors nationally to lead a Business Alliance for Local Living Economies Regional Hub. She also was one of 10 leaders nationally to participate in BALLE’s Community of Practice program, led by Margaret Wheatley. Hillary was hired four years ago as the local organization’s first full-time director. At that time, she was responsible for all staff duties, from grant writing and event planning to marketing, bookkeeping and volunteer organizing. During her tenure, Local First has grown from 150 to nearly 600 business members, from zero to five full-time staff, and from six to 14 board members. The organization is now the third largest network of local, independent businesses per capita. Designation as a hub network will only
Title: President Company: D.C. Estrada
More importantly, he is sharing that knowledge and experience with entrepreneurs who want to follow in his footsteps. Estrada is beginning his third year as president of aimWest, a local nonprofit that helps bring marketing and technology people together (sort of a tech group for business people). Since becoming president in 2008, Estrada helped the organization double membership that year and increase it another 30 percent from 2009 to 2010. “The effects of this community (aimWest) are constantly visible to me, through new business relationships and a more sophisticated level of dialog around technology and innovation in West Michigan.” That’s a language most businesses in West Michigan can understand.
Title: Executive Director Organization: Local First
darius Quinn, 36
Title: Human Resources Manager Organization: Kent County Darius Quinn is the youngest human resources manager in the 174-year-history of Kent County. That comes as no surprise to those who know him: Quinn has been accepting leadership positions all of his life, beginning with high school and college. He is now responsible for maintaining positive and productive employee/employer relations among 1,800 employees representing 13 bargaining units in Kent County. He also serves as the county’s chief diversity officer, implementing strategies to attract and maintain a wellqualified and diverse work force. Quinn’s community involvement extends outside his job. He serves as a volunteer mentor in Kentwood Public Schools, a mayoral appointee on the Kentwood Parks & Recreation Commission and an active member of the Catholic Charities West Michigan Grand Rapids Regional Board. Most recently, Quinn accepted a board member’s position with Jubilee Jobs, a local organization committed to empowering the economically underdeveloped, and was appointed chair of the Grand Rapids-Kent County Convention Arena Authority’s Community Inclusion Group. The latter is designed to ensure that all members of the community are able to enjoy the three downtown venues. “I was fortunate enough to have excellent mentors to help guide me, but overall you must have the desire to be a self-starter and seek out opportunities,” he said. “When you are placed in a position to be around leaders, you must learn how to stand still and become a sponge.”
help the organization grow, she said. “It’s very gratifying that after just four years, our work in West Michigan is now setting the national standard — a reality that is demonstrated by our recently announced partnership with the city of Grand Rapids to develop a groundbreaking program that will incentivize sustainable urban development.” Hillary was a presenter at three BALLE conferences and at the Michigan Downtown Conference. She also was nominated for the John H. Logie Neighborhood Business Champion, ATHENA Young Professional and Young Nonprofit Professional of the Year awards. Locally, Hillary is a board member with the city’s Brownfield Redevelopment Authority and the West Michigan Strategic Alliance, and participates with the Progressive Women’s Alliance, Blandford Nature Center and Circle Theatre. 40 under 40 2010 | Grand Rapids Business Journal 9
Matthew downey, 37
Title: Director, Nonprofit Services and Development Organization: GVSU’s Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership
Jennifer Maxson, 38
Title: Practice Group Leader, Consultant and Coach Company: Varnum Consulting Jennifer Maxson has a lot to live up to as a member of the first graduating class of Huntington Bank’s Rising Women Leaders program. Fortunately, she is up to the task. Maxson practices what she preaches, which, as a business coach, is a focused balance between work and family while practicing effective communication techniques that produce results. “I understand (clients’) organizational vision and strategies,” she said. “My coaching focuses around helping leaders communicate with impact to influence others,” she said. Maxson also is the marketing and recruiting chair for Leadership West Michigan, a board member with Wolverine World Wide Family YMCA, a J-Board member with Van Andel Institute, and a former member of the executive leadership committee of the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women movement. “I am honored to be in a leadership role with our organization and most importantly with our clients,” she said. “The key to my success is having a leader (Nancy Skinner) who was also a mentor and coach. Nancy saw my potential and passion for the business and gave me stretch assignments that provided new opportunities within the business. Today, 15 years later, I am even more passionate about our business and to be serving in a leadership role.” Maxson is a member of Inforum, the Society of Human Resource Management and the American Society of Training & Development. She also is a speaker and presenter for several networking organizations.
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Matthew Downey is not shy about putting his knowledge of philanthropy and nonprofits to good use. Downey’s influence can be seen at various locations and organizations around the country. He is an accomplished author, researcher and speaker, and many of the programs he helped create are still in existence. For example, in 1998 he was recruited to Queens, N.Y., to design and implement an innovative arts education/arts therapy program for the inpatient population at St. Mary’s Hospital for Children. The introduction of professional artists into the long-term rehabilitation process for children overcoming traumatic brain injuries and other serious ailments greatly accelerated the recovery process. The program remains active today.
Downey also served as director of development for the Child Care Action Campaign in New York City, where he raised funds for and actively participated in developing the program “Talk Reach Read,” a national early literacy training initiative for child-care providers that reached more than 20,000 New York City and Chicago children and child-care providers. When not making his mark nationally, Downey supports the local community through work with Rotary Club of Grand Rapids, Wellspring/Cori Terry and Dancers of Kalamazoo, Indian Trails Camp and Kids’ Food Basket. He also shares his knowledge with upand-coming public policy and nonprofit leaders as a board member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals and the Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action.
Michael Finch, 39
Title: President Company: Grand Valley Ventures Inc. If Michael Finch played poker, he would most likely be the guy going “all in.” As president of Grand Valley Ventures Inc., Finch is essentially a turnaround specialist. He takes troubled companies, infuses cash, management expertise and new ideas, and then makes them profitable. Finch has the experience to back up his turnaround plans. “Through the help of my dad (David) and a financial institution that believed in me, I was able to start my first business, Northern Falls Water Co., in 1994,” he said. “At Northern Falls, I wore every hat in the place. I was the CEO, CFO, director of sales, operations and plant manager, and janitor. All of our money was on the line. I had no choice but to find a way to succeed.” He sold that company in 1998 for what he calls a “handsome return.” “I learned that I was capable of doing it on my own,” he said. “I gained the confidence and knowledge I needed to make my next move.” Finch has since parlayed that experience into acquiring and improving other companies, including Heath Manufacturing, a birdfeeder and suet-cake maker in Coopersville that is now a major player in the lawn and garden category in stores like Home Depot, Meijer and Menards. More recently, Finch’s firm acquired the 112-year-old Chicago Flag Co. and this year secured contracts with the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate for supplying the flags for both institutions. All in, indeed.
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WWW.GRANDVALLEYVENTURES.COM 40 under 40 2010 | Grand Rapids Business Journal 11
Kurt dykstra, 39
Title: Partner Company: Warner Norcross & Judd LLP
Kim Bode, 31
Title: Partner Company: 834 Baba Design & Marketing As a young woman just out of college and beginning her professional career, Kim Bode landed a significant marketing position with the newly minted West Michigan Science and Technology Initiative. At WMSTI, Bode was able to work in several roles, gaining experience in brand development, fundraising programs, event planning, media relations, marketing strategy and more. She’s never forgotten the opening WMSTI executives gave her, and now she repays that confidence every chance she gets. As a partner with 834 Baba Design & Marketing, Bode is passionate about providing mentorship to young professionals and interns as they begin their careers in the marketing and communications field. She also is a sought-after speaker on topics ranging from network building to personal branding, and she uses those opportunities to further the skills of young people just entering the field. Bode credits community involvement as being instrumental in her success, making time to work with such organizations as the American Cancer Society’s Young Leaders Council and Goodwill Industries’ Young Leaders Executive Committee. But the one position that combines her love for mentoring with her diverse marketing skills is her position as president of the American Marketing Association, West Michigan. During the past five years, Bode has helped the local AMA chapter rebrand itself, expand membership, launch social media platforms, expand the size of its governing board and attract national speakers to its meetings. Bode also is a graduate of the Center for Community Leadership’s Inside Grand Rapids program.
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Kurt Dykstra’s last name may be Dutch, but that doesn’t mean he had automatic acceptance in his adopted hometown of Holland. During the last eight years, however, Dykstra proved his worth with community involvement and leadership. He was rewarded for those efforts last year when the people of Holland elected him their 40th mayor. “West Michigan in general and Holland in particular sometimes gets a bad rap as being insular or closed to outsiders,” Dykstra said. “That has not been my experience at all. Receiving the opportunity to serve on the City Council in 2005 and as mayor in 2009 just a few years after moving to Michigan in 2002 is evidence that Holland is a welcoming place.”
As mayor, Dykstra is doing his best to ensure that Holland maintains that reputation. He has represented the Greater Holland Area at Gallup-Healthways 2010 Conference on City Wellbeing in connection with Holland-Grand Haven’s ranking as the “2nd Happiest City in America.” He also addresses numerous business, educational, nonprofit and community organizations regarding Holland’s present position and future possibilities. In that regard, Dykstra has helped attract major alternative energy projects to Holland, thereby solidifying the city’s economic base and expanding its opportunities in emerging energy fields. Dykstra also is a director of the West Michigan Strategic Alliance and a member of the advisory council of the Lakeshore Ethnic Diversity Council, as well as a member of the Holland chamber’s Public Policy Committee.
Latricia Trice, 27
Title: Marketing Communications Director Organization: Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce Latricia Trice’s young age makes her invaluable to the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce. Trice’s prowess in new marketing concepts and emerging social media platforms makes her an important asset to businesses throughout the Grand Rapids area in her position as the chamber’s marketing communications director. During her first year on the job, Trice has helped overhaul the chamber’s marketing plan. She manages and helps maintain the grandrapids.org and map-gr.com websites to ensure content is regularly updated. The sites average more than 7,000 visitors a month and often are prospective businesses’ first look at the city. Her communications skills also help her connect with people in another area that is important to her: diversity. She is involved with Institute for Healing Racism, Multiracial Association of Professionals, Greater Grand Rapids Goodwill, Greater Works Ministries Community Church and the West Michigan Public Relations Society of America, where she is chair of the group’s diversity committee and helped create the organization’s diversity plan. She’s also a trustee of Saint Mary’s Doran Foundation. Trice is a graduate of several programs geared toward leadership and diversity, including the Center for Community Leadership’s Inside Grand Rapids and Huntington Bank’s Rising Women Leaders of West Michigan. Her honors and awards include being the Positive Black Woman Scholarship recipient from Grand Valley State University, Newcomer of the Year from the West Michigan Public Relations Society of America, and “Best Table Topics” honoree from Butter and Toast Toastmasters International.
Milinda Ysasi Castañon, 30
ron Bullis, 28
Title: Human Resources Generalist Company: Cascade Engineering
Milinda Ysasi Castañon caught her first break when she landed an internship at Cascade Engineering. Break No. 2 came about when the company put her on the operational side of human resources, despite having no experience in this role. “I could have stayed in the comfy corporate office, but the operations side has given me a much greater experience in terms of conflict resolution, training and working with all types of people,” she said. Ysasi Castañon is using that same determination to make a difference in the community. She is a graduate of Leadership Grand Rapids and a fellow of the Michigan Political Leadership Program. She also serves on the boards or councils of the Hispanic Center of Western Michigan, Latino Youth Conference, GVSU Alumni, Girls Empowering Together, Multiracial Association of Professionals and the YMCA International Committee.
Despite her message of strength and leadership to girls and women in the community, Ysasi Castañon kept her most significant professional accomplishment under wraps from her coworkers. “I am very proud of receiving my Professional in Human Resources certification,” she said of the achievement others often prepare for over a six-month time period. “I did not tell anyone I was taking the test. Others told me that I was not ready to take the test, that I should get more experience. However, I studied and prepared with work experience and passed the test!”
Title: Financial Representative Company: Northwestern Mutual Financial Network
rachel Hood, 34
Title: Executive Director Organization: West Michigan Environmental Action Council It’s probably a safe bet that Rachel Hood’s favorite color is green. The executive director of the West Michigan Environmental Action Council is also a member of the Green Infrastructure Task Force of the West Michigan Strategic Alliance, Lower Grand River Organization of Watersheds and Michigan Environmental Council. Locally, she works with the Grand Rapids Community College Sustainability Team, Green Grand Rapids Advisory Committee and Grand Rapids Youth Boxing Foundation. Hood got her green going when working with the West Grand Neighborhood Organization, where she parlayed a $75,000 investment from the Meijer Family Foundation for the Turner Gateway Project into a whole lot more. “(This was) my first major community project,” she said. “I turned this initial investment into a little over a million dollars in state and local funding to redevelop the corridor on the city’s West Side.” Hood also has launched such environmental protection programs as Project Light Change, Teach for the Watershed, Save Your Ash! and the Grand Rapids Children’s Environmental Health Initiative. She recently led the reorganization of WMEAC, the West Michigan Rain Gardens and the West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum. Her efforts were recognized when she was asked to participate in the White House Forum on Children’s Environmental Health. Now she’s helping to put like-minded individuals into positions of authority by founding Progressive Women’s Alliance Candidate Committee, which supports the representation of women candidates and thoughtful progressive voices in state and federal government. Her efforts have been successful, with 90 percent of the group’s candidates having won election.
Ron Bullis is a member of the Million Dollar Round Table, meaning he is among the top 1 percent of the world’s most successful life insurance and financial services professionals from 476 companies in 76 nations and territories. So it might seem odd that his biggest professional break stems from the worst time in his life. In 2007, Bullis suffered the death of his daughter and subsequently lost his business. Because of those tragic events, he was challenged to change his focus, values and path in life. He did that in 2008 by founding the Ella Bullis Foundation, a nonprofit that provides financial support to families with babies in Neonatal Intensive Care Units in the hope that others can avoid the trauma he and his family experienced. In addition to financial support, the organization runs a website that offers an online community of support to families in need while increasing awareness of the impact premature birth has on families.
Bullis, who is president of the foundation, also put his financial knowledge to work by creating a unique micro-donation system that enables a large community of supporters to meet the needs of specific families in crisis. Bullis also has expanded on what he has learned through the foundation and from overcoming his personal troubles to launch a venture that focuses on helping business owners and successful professionals anticipate and eliminate the risks they face in reaching their goals. On that topic, he can speak from experience.
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ross Timyan, 22
Title: Owner Company: Crystal Clean Auto Detailing LLC
rosalynn Bliss, 35
Title: Director/Residential Services Organization: D.A. Blodgett/St. John’s Home Rosalynn Bliss represents the 2nd Ward as a member of the Grand Rapids City Commission, but it wouldn’t be surprising if she held a special place in her heart for the children of that district. Much of her work on the commission centers on quality-of-life initiatives, including pools and parks, and her job as director of residential services for D.A. Blodgett/St. John’s Home puts her in a position to help troubled and abused youth. Bliss takes her professional life a step further with the varied organizations and causes to which she lends her time and talents. And most of those opportunities involve children. She serves on the boards of the Children’s Assessment Center, YMCA and Friends of Grand Rapids Parks. Bliss also utilizes her leadership skills helping the Fulton Street Farmers Market, Dyer-Ives Foundation and Grand Rapids Youth Boxing Foundation. In August, Bliss earned the Michigan Junior Chamber’s Tim Pope Memorial Outstanding Young Governmental Leader Award, given annually to one individual for leadership that “makes children’s lives better.” Bliss got an early start helping children during her professional career. She is a former member of the DeVos Children’s Hospital Child Protection Team. As a medical social worker who worked with a forensic pediatrics team, she helped develop and implement the Shaken Baby Program at the hospital. She also works with the Uptown Corridor Improvement District, Kent County Land Bank Authority, Kent County Domestic Violence Community Coordinated Response Team and the Governor’s Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention and Control Commission.
14 Grand Rapids Business Journal | 40 under 40 2010
Innovation drives Ross Timyan’s success. The 22-year-old, a student at Grand Valley State University, is already a successful business owner who employs more than 35 people in his newly renovated and expanded Crystal Clean Auto Detailing venture. Timyan taught himself to detail vehicles, photograph them and then use eBay to sell them—all before the age he could legally drive. Most of his customers allowed him to keep whatever funds he generated above their asking price, which is how Timyan financed his first business. What started as one person with a detailing supply trailer making home visits is now a 35,000-square-foot auto reconditioning facility offering customers dent repair, paint touch-up, windshield replacement, wheel repair, tire replacement and leather repair, in addition to the detailing work that is Crystal Clean’s trademark.
In July, Crystal Clean was named a finalist for the Innovation Michigan Award for its vehicle photography studio and its “airport valet” service, which offers customers the opportunity to have their vehicles worked on while they are traveling. Crystal Clean will take possession of the vehicle from the customer at the airport, then bring it to them curbside when the traveler returns. Timyan figures the money saved in airport parking could almost pay for the detailing for some customers. In addition to the retail business, Crystal Clean also counts several dealerships among its corporate customers. Timyan believes the customer diversification, along with continued innovations, will keep Crystal Clean successful far into the future.
Jeﬀrey Carter, 39 Title: Tax Executive Director Company: Ernst & Young LLP
The fallout from a tough economy isn’t the most difficult experience Jeff Carter has had to deal with — not even close. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that his employer, Ernst & Young LLP, recognized his perseverance and leadership qualities despite the economy’s struggles and last year promoted him to head its West Michigan Business Tax Services (i.e., federal income taxes) group. Carter’s arrival in the world of accounting came by a circuitous route. At age 14, he suffered a tractor accident on the family farm that left him in the hospital for a number of weeks and convalescing at home for a significant portion of his first two years of high school. His high school classes were customized so he could study from home, and one of his teachers at Thornapple-Kellogg High School, Gary McKee, encouraged Carter to try his hand at Introduction to Accounting as a freshman. “It was my first exposure to the profession and set the stage for my passion and pursuit of a career in tax accounting,” Carter said. Despite the hardships of his early high school years, Carter was able to graduate on time — as class valedictorian. His thirst for knowledge didn’t end with his formal education at T-K and the University of Michigan. Just over a decade ago, E&Y tabbed Carter to immerse himself in federal research credit work, establishing his brand in the marketplace and positioning him as a thought leader on the subject in West Michigan.
achievements. Grand Valley State University and the Grand Valley State University Alumni Association congratulate the 14 Grand Valley alumni named to the “40 Under Forty” list. We’re pleased to have offered these individuals a rich educational experience at an affordable cost that pays dividends for a lifetime. That’s a grand value. So is personal attention from outstanding faculty who teach all of our 78 undergraduate and 29 graduate programs. Learn more about how Grand Valley can add value to your life. gvsu.edu/grand | (616) 331-2025 Kim Bode, 834 Baba Design & Marketing Matthew Downey, Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy Daniel Estrada, D.C. Estrada Steve Faber, Friends of Grand Rapids Parks Michael Finch, Grand Valley Ventures, Inc. Jennifer Maxson, Varnum Consulting Mat Nguyen, Worksighted
Jason Paulateer, PNC Bank Joe Pohlen, JTP Management/Medrunners Ryan Slusarzyk, Amway Hotel Corporation Andrea Snyder, Studio3Twenty Stacy Stout, Hispanic Center of Western Michigan Latricia Trice, Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce Milinda Ysasi Castanon, Cascade Engineering
© 2010 Ernst & Young LLP. Ernst & Young refers to the global organization of member ﬁrms of Ernst & Young Global Limited, each of which is a separate legal entity. Ernst & Young LLP is a client-serving member ﬁrm located in the US.
Shining moment? Success comes in many forms. A new business deal. A perfect presentation. Or simply good people doing great work. Please join us in congratulating one of our very best, Tax Executive Director Jeffrey Carter, on his recognition as a “40 Under Forty” honoree. We can’t wait to see more.
What’s next? ey.com
40 under 40 2010 | Grand Rapids Business Journal 15
rachel Mraz, 29
Title: Wealth Management Advisor Company: Merrill Lynch
Tamara VandenBerg, 35
Title: Co-owner Businesses: The Meanwhile Bar, The Pyramid Scheme A bar owner whose overriding goal in life is to help the homeless? Tami VandenBerg makes it work for both her customers seeking entertainment options and those who are less fortunate and need some assistance with the most basic of living skills. VandenBerg and her brother, Jeff, opened The Meanwhile in 2007, and the local watering hole has since become an integral part of the Baxter Neighborhood. In fact, in 2009, it picked up three nominations for the city’s Neighborhood Business Awards, including best new business, best renovation and best promotion. That success on the business side prompted the owners to embark on a new establishment, The Pyramid Scheme, a bar and live music venue at 68 Commerce St. SW. The building is purchased and the renovations are underway, VandenBerg said, with a scheduled opening in spring 2011. VandenBerg is equally passionate about ending homelessness in Grand Rapids and making the city a better place to live. She is a member of the Uptown Corridor Improvement Authority Board and added several “green initiatives” to the project list, including public recycling, bike racks and light rail. She’s also on the board of Well House Community and has organized several benefits for the Encore program, which uses the skills and knowledge of older people in the community to find ways to provide housing to those in need. She’s also a board member of the Grand Rapids Red Project, which fights against HIV/AIDS, hepatitis and other risky choices that spread life-altering medical conditions.
16 Grand Rapids Business Journal | 40 under 40 2010
It’s a good thing Rachel Mraz deals with money for a living, because it gives some teeth to the pitches she makes to the next generation of philanthropists. Mraz, who is a graduate of Leadership Grand Rapids, has spearheaded several efforts to inspire the next generation of philanthropists to become involved, not just in their community, but around the world. She serves on a national speakers bureau for next-generation philanthropists, is an inaugural Youth Trustee (under 30) for the Council of Michigan Foundations board and is the Next Generation Family Foundation liaison for the Council of Michigan Foundations. Internationally, Mraz is organizing an excursion to Costa Rica for a statewide group of next-generation philanthropists in an effort to show the importance of global philanthropy in relation to Michigan’s resources, and co-chairing an independent effort to raise funds to help build infrastructure at an AIDS orphanage in Zimbabwe.
Closer to home, Mraz works with the Van Andel Institute’s J-Board, Davenport University Foundation, Family Business Alliance, Saint Mary’s Doran Foundation, YWCA of West Central Michigan, Equest Center for Therapeutic Riding and the Council of Michigan Foundations. She also has put her fundraising skills to use for Opera Grand Rapids, The Eventing Association of Michigan, DeVos Children’s Hospital, Grand Rapids Art Museum, Michigan Women’s Foundation and the Cornell Alumni Association of West Michigan. Mraz recently earned her master’s degree in financial services from The American College with a concentration in philanthropic and tax planning.
rob McCarty, 37
Title: Jack of All Trades Company: The Image Shoppe Rob McCarty lists his title as “jack of all trades” because he does a little bit of everything for The Image Shoppe, a communications firm in which he is a partner. “We do a lot of pro-bono work out of our office, so I donate time to organizations we support,” he said. McCarty said one of those efforts, beautification of the I-196 corridor called the Turner Gateway Project, gave him his first real glimpse of the power of collaboration. “I think Turner Street was my biggest professional break,” he said. “My friends and colleagues — Rachel Hood was a key risk taker — and others really helped me get introduced to the West Michigan community. I think working with MDOT, state and city officials along with community business leaders really helped me with the foundational work I needed to do to be accepted.” Now McCarty is putting those connections to work. His community involvement includes work with the West Michigan Environmental Action Council, Greening Grand Rapids Subcommittee, Local First, Cool Cities and Friends of Grand Rapids Parks. Whether it’s a massive highway beautification project or something as simple as raising funds to repair the infrastructure at aging inner-city basketball courts, McCarty puts his jack-of-all-trades skills to good use. “I think if more people focused on doing the right thing and making good decisions — not just for themselves but for everyone around them — we would have a heck of a lot better world to live in right now.”
Seth Getz, 34
Steve Faber, 35
Small business owners love Seth Getz. Their families probably love him, too. Getz is president of Business Mastery and serves as a business coach, but he prefers the title “business strategist.” His goal is to assist small business owners in getting their businesses to work the way they always dreamed they would, but without always having to be there to keep then running smoothly. “(Small business owners) are risk takers,” Getz said. “It is my goal to help them be successful and to live a balanced life where they get to enjoy that success.” Getz works closely with owners to help them realize that a more efficient business will result in more time for them to enjoy the fruits of their labors. He regularly teaches classes on this subject and is pleased to have learned more from his students than he taught them.
For most people, taking their work home with them is a recipe for disaster. But not for Steve Faber. Faber’s home is actually an extension of his professional goals and philosophy. Faber is the executive director of the nonprofit Friends of Grand Rapids Parks, and also is the founder and president of Newberry Place Cohousing Community, an innovative $4.2 million project in the city’s Belknap Lookout neighborhood that is leading the area’s revitalization charge. Newberry Place is unique in Michigan. It features a number of common areas for families to be used for cooking, dining and other shared functions, as well as plenty of green space that all members of the housing community are able to enjoy. “This was five years of unpaid work that resulted in a significant positive life change for my family,” Faber said. “It was ultimately what kept us in Grand Rapids and is now part of a larger neighborhood revitalization effort in the Belknap Lookout neighborhood.”
Title: President Company: Business Mastery
“I am most proud of the accomplishments of those that I have worked with and taught,” Getz said. “I am proud of the hundreds of clients taking what they have learned from me, going out, starting and growing their small businesses that are now working successfully.” Getz also spreads his knowledge through working with the Alliance of Business Entrepreneurs. As head of business development, he helped the organization branch out internationally with connections in Australia and New Zealand and is currently working on ties to South Africa, Germany and Turkey. Closer to home, Getz is the founder of the Saugatuck Business Network and co-founder of the South Haven Business Network.
Title: Executive Director Organization: Friends of Grand Rapids Parks
Stacy Stout, 31
Title: Education Director Organization: Hispanic Center of Western Michigan Under the direction of her mother Rosa, Stacy Stout’s spirit of volunteerism bloomed in grade school and continues to this day. “Knowing the importance of diversity and hard work, she had me volunteer with the Special Olympics, nursing homes, community beautification projects and other activities,” Stout said. “When I asked her why she dragged me out of bed all those Saturday mornings and had me do so much, she simply stated, ‘You were too young to work and too old to do nothing.’” Now Stout does plenty in her Southeast Grand Rapids’ Weed and Seed neighborhood. She is a volunteer on the neighborhood’s steering committee, youth committee, development committee, Random Acts of Kindness Day event, Mother’s Day flower distribution and just about anywhere else she is needed, including powwows and other events for Native American children. “For my mom, family includes neighbors and friends. She is by far the biggest influence in my life regarding my work ethic, commitment to serve, to help community and to do all that I can to make my part in the world better,” Stout said. “I hope my daughter will know me as this kind of person, as well.” Stout credits her husband and many mentors at the Hispanic Center with helping her move from working with “at risk” youth to those who are “beyond risk” and involved with gangs. In just the past two years, Stout has helped 20 youth exit gangs and has reached hundreds of others through classroom and parent presentations.
Faber also is active with Gateways Partnership, which spearheaded the I-196 Beautification Project, and is a member of the DDA Strategic Planning Steering Committee, which has oversight of the five-year planning process for downtown Grand Rapids. He also serves on the board of GVSU’s School of Public & Nonprofit Administration and the city’s Service Application Advisory Council. As president from 20072009, Faber led the board at Camp Tall Turf on a $1.2 million capital campaign that eliminated the organization’s debt.
40 under 40 2010 | Grand Rapids Business Journal 17
Mayra Martinez, 28
Title: Entrepreneur/Social Entrepreneur Company: Garibaldi Restaurant
Michael Hill, 33 Title: Managing Partner Company: Edify North
Mike Hill is setting a smooth course toward community involvement. The managing partner of Edify North, a company that delivers health care strategies to corporations, is an avid racer of sailboats who competes in national events. Most recently, he was part of the winning team at the 2010 Melges 32 National Championships. Hill takes that winning attitude into his community endeavors. He is a former president of Holland Young Professionals and helped create the HYP Scholarship for Young Professionals to attend Leadership Holland, of which he is a graduate. Hill also initiated the creation of the HYP Fund, an endowed fund at the Holland Zeeland Community Foundation, and the first HYP annual dinner that partnered young professionals with seasoned community leaders. In 2010, Hill joined the board of the Holland Chamber of Commerce and became master of ceremonies at the Holland Professional Club. His firm also hosted a free community event, “Stretching Your Dollars and Slimming Your Waistline,” that attracted more than 3,000 people who were provided with extensive healthrelated information. Hill recently served on the planning committee for the Ultimate Tribal Challenge, a fundraiser for Pathways of Michigan. He’s also a precinct delegate for the Allegan County Republican Party and has volunteered extensively on a number of political campaigns. As for the future, Hill is the incoming chair of the Holland Chamber of Commerce’s Public Policy/Governmental Affairs Committee and will serve on the Small Business Person of the Year Award Committee.
18 Grand Rapids Business Journal | 40 under 40 2010
You won’t find social change listed as a menu item at Garibaldi Restaurant, but that’s what Mayra Martinez is serving to Grand Rapids. The restaurant owner and Latina businesswoman is an agent for change, which is evident by the list of organizations with which she chooses to work. As president of MI RAZA Association of Commerce, Martinez leads the ethnic business organization in promotion of economic growth and development of Hispanic entrepreneurs and minority emerging businesses in Michigan. MI RAZA provides access and support for economic development and training, and serves as a cohesive voice for Hispanic and all other minority communities with an entrepreneurial spirit. “Serving over 50 Hispanic business owners throughout West Michigan — we like to consider that a great accomplishment for our first year!” she said. Martinez also works with Grand Rapids Opportunities for Women as a liaison to the minority business community.
“I’ve raised much awareness of the needs of Hispanic business owners throughout Grand Rapids,” she said. “From this, classes have been provided in Spanish through GROW programs for Hispanic entrepreneurs, as well as Hispanic established business owners.” Martinez also works with the Alliance of Entrepreneur Latinas, a coalition of established business owners, professionals, consultants and investors that provides support to business owners coming from Latin America and the Caribbean. She also treasures her time with Mujeres, Inteligentes, Sabias En Superacion, a group of Latina women that meets on a monthly basis to discuss the issues that affect women in today’s society.
Lorissa MacAllister, 38 Title: President Company: Enviah
Lorissa MacAllister is the 249th point of light. So said President George H.W. Bush in 1990, when he unveiled his Thousand Points of Light program. For MacAllister, that light has been shining ever since. Her newest venture is Enviah, an architectural consulting firm with expertise in health care she started this year. But her presence in the community has been a bright spot for a long time. She is currently redeveloping the operations sections of Green Guide for Healthcare and working through the pilot portion of the project to establish metrics to help build the baseline of performance for all medical facilities across the world. Closer to home, MacAllister is board chair of the Grand Rapids Child Discovery Center and a board member of Grand Rapids Symphony, Cascade Engineering, Gilda’s Club of Grand Rapids, Alliance for Health’s Healthcare Vision 2020, Keller Foundation and Celebration of the Arts. She’s also on the Awards Review Committee of Clean Med. Of particular interest to MacAllister is her work with the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Center’s advisory council. “I’m most proud of working with three hospitals to help bring a state-of-the-art ALS program to West Michigan,” she said. “Our team was able to bring MSU, Saint Mary’s and Mary Free Bed together to offer services to the community that were much needed. It was something I could do for my uncle when he was diagnosed with ALS.” MacAllister also is an accomplished speaker and presenter with national appearances to her credit regarding sustainable business and health care design, as well as LEED certification.
Ryan Slusarzyk CONGRATULATIONS TO OUR OWN
AND ALL OF THE 40 UNDER FORTY HONOREES!
Calvin grads come prepared for work, and life. Employers appreciate how Calvin’s rigorous liberal arts education shapes the whole person to walk confidently into the marketplace. Educational excellence, experiential learning and strategic relationships with the business community are features of Calvin’s re-envisioned business program. To learn more visit www.calvin.edu/academic/business/ Calvin congratulates our “40 under Forty” alumni leaders: Amy Ruis, Art of the Table Steve Faber, Friends of Grand Rapids Parks Tami Vandenberg, The Meanwhile Ron Bullis, Northwestern Mutual
www.calvin.edu 3201 Burton SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546 (616) 526-6106 or 1-800-688-0122 _CALVIN_GRBJ_40under40(F).indd 1
40 under 40 2010 | Grand Rapids Business Journal 19 10/19/10 4:23 PM
Kristin revere, 36
Title: Communications Analyst Organization: Michigan House Democrats
Mathieu nguyen, 31 Title: President Company: Worksighted
Mat Nguyen is excited to learn as he grows. In the past 10 years, Nguyen’s company, Worksighted, has grown from 2 full-time employees to 16 — without any staff turnover. During that time, Nguyen has come to learn a few things: chiefly, that a work-life balance is essential to productive employees and efficient operations. “Our staff has many opportunities to not only develop professionally but also personally and as community members,” he said. “Besides encouraging our team to go above and beyond when we service our customers, we have developed a mentality of servicing our community and our families.” To do that, Worksighted gives its staff flexibility and autonomy so that they work in a unique culture that mixes high performance and strong results with a solid work-life balance. “Having had the opportunity to witness our staff grow in this environment in the last 10 years and seeing the impact that Worksighted has made on their lives and community is what I’m most proud of,” Nguyen said. The work portion of the equation is succeeding, too. Nguyen said the firm has acquired two companies in the past year that better position Worksighted in the health care market, which he sees as a growth sector. Nguyen is involved with the West Michigan Strategic Alliance, Holland Area Chamber of Commerce, Holland Young Professionals, Holland Area Arts Council and Holland Museum/Historical Trust. Holland Young Professionals honored him with its Philanthropist of the Year Award, and the chamber recognized him with its Bright Spot Award.
20 Grand Rapids Business Journal | 40 under 40 2010
Kristin Revere is a strategist with a finance background, which makes her an attractive ally for political candidates. That includes the President of the United States. Revere has been a board member and fundraiser on the Obama for America Midwest Finance Team since 2007. She’s also a founding member of the White House Project Michigan Cabinet, where she works to provide political leadership education for Michigan women. “The founders of Progressive Women’s Alliance mentored me and showed me that women can raise money politically,” said Revere, who is returning the favor with her work on the White House Project. She’s still involved with the Progressive Women’s Alliance PAC, too, and is currently vice chair of the board. Revere also works with the League of Women Voters, where she is involved in producing the group’s voters guide, and with the Waterfront Film Festival in Saugatuck, where she was entertainment and events co-chair and a member of the steering committee for Oscar Night America.
Her passion, however, remains working on and raising funds for political campaigns. In 2008, as a fellow in the Michigan Political Leadership Program, she had the highest fundraising numbers in her class. Revere’s political finance background includes a stint as finance director for the Michigan Senate Democratic Fund, where she developed strategies for individual and PAC fundraising while managing corporate fundraising on behalf of the Democratic Caucus. More recently, she worked as regional finance director for the Andy Dillon for Governor Campaign.
Joe Pohlen, 23
Title: President Company: JTP Management/Medrunners Joe Pohlen believes that leadership is earned by empowering others. In 2006, Pohlen comprised exactly half of the Grand Valley State University Real Estate Group. As president, he recognized that wouldn’t do. By 2008, the organization had grown to eight members, who set a goal to study real estate in Europe over the summer. Over the next nine months, they worked diligently to solve problems, improvise and raise funds for the trip. Since then, the group has grown and has helped 16 students purchase their first investment properties. Currently, the group’s members own 45 rental properties in the Grand Rapids area with a total investment of more than $4.75 million. Pohlen took what he learned from that experience and applied it to a career in real estate. “My biggest professional break was when my real estate company, JTP Management, launched a new student housing project. I was confident the project would be an instant success. I had a great, experienced team in place; the property I invested in was in a great location; and I had recruited tenants to move in after construction was complete.” The lending world collapsed during the project, however, and once again Pohlen had to improvise. He was able to attract an investor with the necessary capital and decided to push ahead with the venture. “In the end, the project finished ahead of schedule and under budget. The tenants moved in without any problems. I learned that sometimes no matter how hard you work, plan and reorganize, issues can still arise.”
Albert Vincent Y. Yu Chang,
Bradley Taylor, 34
Title: CEO Company: Next Generation Enrollment Inc.
Title: Associate Attorney Company: Warner Norcross & Judd LLP Albert Yu Chang’s success in two countries is a boon to both his native homeland and his adopted one. “As a foreign-trained legal professional, I am proud of being able to establish a career in the highly competitive market for legal services in the U.S. and join a prestigious Michigan law firm,” said Yu Chang, a native of The Philippines. “And as a U.S. attorney, I am proud of serving as legal counsel to Asian companies doing business in North America.” Not only is he proud of those accomplishments, but Yu Chang is making it easier for attorneys in similar situations to follow in his footsteps. He is a collaborator on “A Legal Guide to Doing Business in the Asia-Pacific,” a publication of the American Bar Association, and “Doing Business In Michigan: A Manual For Chinese Business Enterprises,” a bilingual publication done under the auspices of the Michigan Global Partnership.
Yu Chang is co-chair of the Asia Pacific Committee, Section of International Law, of the American Bar Association. During his tenure, the committee received awards for its website and outreach efforts. He also is director of the Asian Professionals Organization, where he helped organize the first Asian Gala Night that he hopes will become an annual event in West Michigan, and the Asian Health Outreach Foundation. His other efforts to connect his two nations include serving as manager for business development in West Michigan for the Detroit Chinese Business Association and ABA liaison to the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association.
Amy Marshall, 24
Title: Managing Partner Company: Management Business Solutions It wasn’t that long ago that Amy Marshall was an unpaid intern, logging more than 1,000 hours with the hope of landing a full-time position in which she could prove her worth. Today, Marshall is managing partner of Management Business Solutions and her internship experience is paying dividends to young people throughout West Michigan. “I started as an intern here and was promoted after three months to a recruiter,” she said. “After another three months, I was promoted to senior recruiter, and six months later, I was a managing partner.” Marshall’s career path may not be typical, but she would like to make sure that other young people are able to follow in her footsteps. She has established an extensive internship program at Management Business Solutions that already has led two interns to full-time positions with the firm. Now she’s working with local colleges, universities and businesses to develop a mentor/job-shadowing program for students to help them decide which career path is right for them. She’s also working with the Mayor’s 50 program, a campaign to identify 50 businesses to partner with the city and provide meaningful jobs for young people ages 15-21 to keep them in Grand Rapids. To complement that effort, Marshall is participating in an on-the-job training program for the Women’s Resource Center that eases women back into the workplace by creating internships that last four to six weeks. She’s also a part of Project Search, sponsored by Fifth Third Bank, which provides opportunities to people with significant employment barriers.
Bradley Taylor doesn’t run away from problems. But he could, if needed. He could probably swim or pedal away from them, too. Taylor, the CEO of Next Generation Enrollment Inc., is an accomplished triathlete who in the past year has completed the Grand Rapids Marathon and Ironman Coeur D’Alene triathlon. He brings that same tenacity to the business world, where his Ada-based, employee benefits eligibility management company and third-party administrator recently cracked Inc. magazine’s list of the top 500 fastest growing companies in America. Taylor has his company on the fast track, hiring another dozen employees in the past year, opening an office in Boca Raton, Fla., to complement the West Michigan headquarters and opening a satellite office recently in Maryland. Next Generation Enrollment now serves customers in 17 states and employs 32 people.
That Taylor has reached this level of achievement in six years is a testament to his perseverance, which any triathlete will say is an essential part of their makeup. At age 28, Taylor was working for insurance giant Unum and bringing home a “very steady income” when he decided to launch his own company. With support from family and friends, Taylor was able to grow Next Generation Enrollment over the next two-plus years without taking a paycheck. Maybe that’s why much of his community involvement includes fundraising for Blink Multisport, an organization dedicated to wellness and fitness, and the Grand Rapids Wheelchair Sports Association.
40 under 40 2010 | Grand Rapids Business Journal 21
Amy ruis, 38
Andrea Snyder, 32
Amy Ruis got her first taste of retail at age 20 when she signed on as a buyer and manager “for just one year” at the former Haymarket Square store in Breton Village Mall. “It lasted five years, and I am still loving retail today,” she said. But retail can be an unforgiving business, and a desire to set up shop in what at the time could be termed a dicey neighborhood presented some unique challenges for a woman opening her own store — especially a specialty store such as Art of the Table. But Ruis and her husband, Steve, persevered and turned a place known in the neighborhood for selling 40-ouncers, cigarettes and “hair color for men” into a unique location that celebrates “a gathering of friends, a cozy night by the fire, a porch party on a hot summer’s eve.”
When Andrea Snyder lost her marketing director’s job during a corporate downsizing, she could have sulked for months or taken another position beneath her skill level. Instead, that very same month, she opened the doors to her own advertising, marketing and design business, Studio3Twenty. “Five years ago, I opened the doors of my own business. Scared, excited, anxious and hopeful, I put all my skills to the test and set off to make a living,” she said. “I am so proud that five years later I can say I have increased sales and profits each year. This year our sales are up by 36 percent from where we were at this point last year. To know that I had such a huge hand in building a successful destiny is a great accomplishment for me.”
Title: Owner Company: Art of the Table
Jason Paulateer, 37
Title: Vice President and Development Advisor Company: PNC Bank Jason Paulateer’s financial expertise comes in handy for the community organizations with which he works. He is involved with Wedgwood Christian Services, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc.-Iota Pi Chapter and Cherry Street Health Services and has assisted each of these organizations in some financial capacity. With Wedgwood, he helped successfully complete a $13 million capital campaign and campus consolidation program. The fraternity chapter, for which his title is Keeper of Finance, moved from a position of loss to profit under his direction. Cherry Street is working toward construction of the Heart of the City Health Center, and Paulateer is a cabinet member on its capital campaign. None of this may have been possible without what he now sees as a valuable opportunity in his professional life. “My position as a small business specialist was eliminated with Old Kent Bank during the conversion to Fifth Third,” he said. “I was able to secure another position within the bank as a commercial credit analyst. That position opened the door to another world of opportunities in business for me.” Now, Paulateer is sharing his financial expertise with others in the community. He is a facilitator for the Foundations of Money Management classes in collaboration with the JET program at Goodwill Industries. He’s also on the advisory board of Art of Leadership, finance committee of Grand Rapids Urban League and the board of the Michigan Magnet Fund. In April, he landed another convention for Grand Rapids when he successfully coordinated a 500-plus member gathering of his fraternity here.
Ruis also is proud that the renovation of the rundown party store into a stylish retail site — at a cost of nearly $500,000 — has put so many local people to work and kept the money with businesses located in West Michigan. Art of the Table and next door neighbor Wealthy Street Bakery currently employ 40 people, most of whom are within walking distance of what she calls their “own little island” of the local economy. Local is obviously important to Ruis. Her community involvement includes work with Local First, Wealthy Street Business Alliance, Uptown Advisory Council, Heritage Hill Neighborhood Association and Eastern Avenue Christian Reformed Church.
22 Grand Rapids Business Journal | 40 under 40 2010
Title: Co-owner/Creative Director Company: Studio3Twenty
ryan Slusarzyk, 25
Title: Marketing Programs Manager Company: Amway Hotel Corp. Ryan Slusarzyk is old beyond his years. Barely two years into his career as marketing programs manager for Amway Hotel Corp., Slusarzyk has immersed himself in the community. He is the youngest board member in Seidman College of Business Alumni Association’s history, and serves on the boards of United Way of West Michigan and Friends and Family of Cystic Fibrosis. He is a member of Grand Rapids Young Professionals, Ronald McDonald House of West Michigan and Kids’ Food Basket. Hired one week after graduating from college during what was said to be the worst time to graduate from college since the Great Depression, Slusarzyk takes nothing for granted. He also takes to heart advice from his mother, Dianna, who taught him that “everyone is equal, from the custodian to the president/CEO of a company.” That’s one of the reasons he volunteers for organizations such as Habitat for Humanity and Kids’ Food Basket. Professionally, Slusarzyk puts his talents to use touting Grand Rapids to the thousands of visitors who come to the Amway Grand Plaza hotel each year. He said he is proud of the continued success of Solace magazine, which he’s been a part of since its inception. The 88page, full-color magazine is given to guests as they arrive in Grand Rapids and is full of stories and pictures telling the story of what makes West Michigan so attractive. Slusarzyk also was nominated for the GVSU Young Alumni Award and the American Hotel and Lodging Association Emerging Leader Award.
But Snyder doesn’t put all of her energy into her own business. She’s also taught classes at Grand Valley State University and Kendall College of Art & Design, where she has spent countless hours outside of the classroom helping students get ahead in their lives. Professionally, Snyder works with Business Network International and recently took a position with the Coopersville Area Chamber of Commerce. She’s also on the communications committee for Great Start of Ottawa County. “I played a major role in significantly upgrading the marketing program, which greatly helped spread the word about the Great Start program,” she said. “Through the website and other marketing pieces, we are working to help families with young children in Ottawa County.”
Nomination forms now available for download at grbj.com and will be accepted through December 8, 2010.
Top Women Owned Businesses a celebration of women entrepreneurs March 2, 2011
Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park 11:30 am - 1:30 pm
For more information about the event, contact Jocelyn Burkett at 616.459.3222 or email firstname.lastname@example.org Guest speaker, Bena Burda Owner, Maggieâ€™s Functional Organics
Thursday, November 4thâ€Ś
Special recognition event & reception
Will you be there?
Attend to be a part of our iPad giveaway! iPads courtesy of
Visit grbj40under40.eventbrite.com for more details and to reserve online.