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nominees show eye-opening diversity The West Michigan region has no shortage of major business leaders actively involved in the recruitment and retention of young professionals. The creation of GRid70, Talent 2025, local TedX events, and even the work of the youngest DeVos entrepreneur, Rick, to build 5x5 nights and StartGarden all have united West Michigan’s biggest corporate citizens as well as smaller business owners to give thousands of hours and attention to the issue. The Grand Rapids Business Journal and grbj.com annual 40 Under Forty effort to highlight young professionals is testament to such endeavors, one which is extended far past the current class. The ripple effect is one of encouragement throughout the region. GRBJ first began profiling these young leaders in 1995. The classes that have come before are equally rich with talent and depth, now representing some of the area’s most successful businesses. It is a group of eye-opening diversity, not just for gender and ethnicity but in terms of the types of businesses represented. It is a class extended by the 131 nominees who enrich the community. The number of nominations is just slightly less than the record number in 2011, when 140 nominations were received. Grand Rapids Business Journal is exceedingly grateful for the investment of time in this process by nominators and business leaders. The judges welcome the onerous task and annually comment on the strength of the nominees. All leaders in their own right, they have a true passion for the task. Each of the judges makes the drive to Grand Rapids from their easterly offices and spends a very long day considering each nominee. Scoring is based on business acumen and successes and community involvement. We are grateful for the judges’ time and for their enthusiasm, both for the nominees and for the region. Judges this year included: Chris Scharrer, executive director of Leadership Oakland and owner of a business leadership consulting firm; Don Taylor, coordinator of the University of Michigan – Urban Land Institute real estate forum and retired university business development and real estate developer; and Bob Thomas, executive director of Michigan Chamber of Commerce Foundation, which includes Leadership Michigan. Grand Rapids Business Journal will honor the 2012 40 Under Forty Class, the nominees and nominators Oct. 16 with a networking reception from 5:30- 8:30 p.m. at the Goei Center. Each member of the class will be honored during a formal presentation of the award. We will keep readers and subscribers informed with real-time news on Facebook and Twitter. — Carole Valade
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ted titus, 35
Title: Assistant Project Manager Company: Wolverine Building Group
Stacy Stout, 33
Title: Dean of Students Organization: Burton Middle School Volunteering was instilled as a value in Stacy Stout from a young age. “Before ‘positive youth development’ had its name, my mom knew young people were an asset,” Stout said. “She told me, ‘Stacy, you were too young to work, but too old to do nothing.” Stout began volunteering at age 7 for Special Olympics, nursing homes and community beautification projects. The value placed on volunteerism and youth has continued in her work today as dean of students for Burton Middle School, and in her previous position as education director of The Hispanic Center of Western Michigan. Stout has set the academic bar high for her own children with her example. She enrolled in Grand Valley State University’s master’s of public administration program while caring for a 9-month-old to act as a role model to her children and youth in general and to enhance her leadership skills. She is board chair of Grand Rapids Weed and Seed, a founding member of the Center of Latino Studies at Ferris State University, board member of Wyoming Community Youth Coalition, member of the Latino Community Coalition and an Early Learning Neighborhood Collaborative partner member. She volunteers with the annual Community Clean Up and Cookout where Hispanic college students from across the state complete community service while mentoring youth. She and her husband are active in the local Native American community, volunteering and donating to support events such as powwows and a weekly drum gathering to preserve and teach culture.
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Ted Titus combines service for others with business in his position at Wolverine Building Group, working on many projects that benefit disenfranchised populations. One of his current projects is an apartment complex for homeless veterans. The project promotes partnering with contractors who employ residents of low-income housing, and with Titus’ help, 30 percent of the trade contractors and suppliers for the project are from low-income housing, women-owned businesses or disadvantaged business enterprises. Titus is a veteran himself, having served in the Marine Corps for seven years and being deployed several times to Iraq and Africa. He is proud to have returned to Grand Valley State University after eight years away to finish his education despite military-related injuries.
Titus is a giving person, said co-worker and nominator Alexis Macaluso. “He has a passion for volunteering and service and is able to combine this passion with his work in the construction industry,” Macaluso said. Titus is a Sigma Phi Epsilon Balanced Man Steward and vice president of Jenison Wrestling Club. He also volunteers as a baseball coach in Georgetown Little League and is the Lieutenant District Governor for Michigan of the Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity, and an alumni recruiter and advisor for Ferris State University, Grand Valley State University and Western Michigan University.
Jessica Ann tyson, 40
Title: President/Owner Company: Events by Jessica Ann LLC
Jessica Ann Tyson mixes business with giving, as 55 percent of her business is focused on working with nonprofits. She has been part of producing annual multicultural and diversity events such as The Legacy Ball, a scholarship she started for high school/college seniors, The Minority Business and Professionals Tour and The Mixing Pot: A Multicultural Festival. Tyson is most proud of her company’s impact on local students. “I am so proud that our company, under my leadership, has been able to leverage our community relationship to build a scholarship fund that has given $20,000 in the last five years to help students go to college,” she said. Tyson credits her parents, who adopted her and her twin sister from a foster home, with giving her the urge to give back to the community. “They are very generous people who taught us that giving back is not something you just did, but a lifestyle,” she said. Tyson is secretary of the West Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce executive board, a member of the Cesar E. Chavez Scholarship Committee, vice president of Home Repair Services of West Michigan executive board, and board member of Rock the Rapids, River City Scholars and Opera Grand Rapids Diversity Advisory Council. She is also a member of the Adoptive Family Support Network board of directors, diversity council chair for Experience Grand Rapids, and more.
Congratulations to our alumni
Brian Burch and Nichole Smith GRAB THE REINS.
And to all of the 40 under 40
Benjamin Hammond, 36 Title: Attorney/Shareholder Company: Hilger Hammond PC
Jermone Glenn, 39
Title: Senior Pastor Organization: Revolution Christian Ministries Jermone Glenn has a growing congregation of about a thousand members and embraces the responsibility within the walls of his church, but he takes his ministry outside of those four walls, as well. “I have and continue to want to think outside that box,” he said. “Because I serve a multi-cultural people, it requires a multi-faceted approach to reach, teach and develop others to do the same, hoping to make a difference in the community and the lives of others.” His biggest influences are Jesus, his father, Andy Stanley, Myles Monroe, Roy Marshall and Bishop William C. Abney, whom he said gave him his biggest professional break. It was Abney who asked Glenn to plant the church where he now serves as senior pastor — the accomplishment of which he is most proud, along with being a husband and father, and mentoring and developing community leaders and entrepreneurs. Glenn works to be involved in the community so he can see and understand the needs of those in his congregation and make a difference with the help of others. As part of this work, Glenn serves as a board member of CareNet and Red Cross, vice chair of Kall Network, president of River City Scholars and scholarship committee chair of the Legacy Ball. He also works with several community involvement projects, including Operation Love and Angel Food.
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Benjamin Hammond has had many mentors during his law career. From the partners in the firm where he started to his entrepreneurial parents, he has learned about the hard work that goes into owning a business. After becoming partner at his former law firm, Hammond made the leap with a respected colleague to form Hilger Hammond PC. “Over the past three years, we’ve added another partner, an associate lawyer and a handful of full-time and part-time staff to help with the growing needs of the business,” he said. “After a significant build-out of our office space on Monroe Center in downtown Grand Rapids, we are now well positioned for growth and success.” Hammond said he and his partner also started a real estate holding company and are talking about other business opportunities, as well. Being a business owner himself helps him relate to the challenges his clients face every day, he said.
Hammond is a member of the Western Michigan Chapter of the American Subcontractors Association board, professional affiliates director of American Institute of Architects-Grand Valley Chapter and a trustee of Grand Rapids Bar Association. He also is involved in a number of West Michigan volunteer activities including the American Council of Engineering Companies of Michigan, Associated General Contractors of America, State Bar of Michigan Legal Advisory Committee, Habitat for Humanity, Renucci Hospitality House and West Michigan Construction Advancement Forum.
Colin Kraay, 31
Title: Principal, Investment Advisor Company: Colliers International West Michigan Colin Kraay sees the highlight of his job as being an “advocate” for West Michigan. “I have been given the opportunity to ‘sell’ this community and I believe strongly in what a unique place this is to live and raise a family,” he said. “I was born, raised and educated here and I am committed to seeing my family and business grow here.” Kraay’s experience in selling the community includes his involvement in different types of cash-flow properties, as well as assisting clients with management solutions, valuation analysis, exchanges and transaction closing. His biggest professional break was becoming part of a team charged with selling a $30 million portfolio of industrial investment facilities. “It allowed me to solidify my direction in investment real estate sales and opened up a number of national relationships that have allowed me to sell over $400 million of exclusively West Michigan-based real estate,” he said. Kraay is president of Certified Commercial Investment Member of Michigan, active in the Commercial Alliance of Realtors, incoming president and vice president of Inner City Christian Federation and a member of the Genesis Non-Profit Housing Corp. He is also a deacon at Brookside Christian Reformed Church and volunteers with Kids’ Food Basket and Habitat for Humanity.
Janelle LaLonde, 26
Amy Marshall, 26
Title: Senior Producer/Project Manager Company: Cynthia Kay and Co.
Title: Managing Partner Company: Management Business Solutions
A relative newcomer to Grand Rapids, Janelle LaLande has already immersed herself in the culture and activities of her new community. In the two-and-a-half years she has been here, she joined the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce Emerging Leaders Series and became involved in several nonprofit organizations. She is board chair of NextGen United Way and volunteers with the YWCA’s domestic violence support group, HOPE group and Project HEAL. LaLonde works in child care for the YWCA so program attendees can train without worry. Her own parents are the biggest influence in her life and taught her to never limit herself. “Many people are brought up with an apprehension for trying new things and to fly under the radar, afraid to stand out. It causes people to second guess themselves and go for good rather than great because of fear,” she said.
Amy Marshall started part time at Management Business Solutions and soon gained mentors who encouraged her to become involved in the community and work her way up the ladder at the organization. She said she was influenced by Floriza Genautis, owner of the company, and is inspired by her entrepreneurial drive. “She has mentored me from the beginning, and I have always been eager to learn from her to grow and develop as a managing partner,” she said. Genautis sees the value in Marshall, as well. “She has been a role model for new hires, as she streamlined processes internally and for our clients, and her commitment to the community is outstanding,” Genautis said. Marshall lived four years in Singapore and had the opportunity to travel throughout Asia to China, Malaysia and Thailand.
LaLonde put her apprehension aside when she got a job with Cynthia Kay and Co. that was outside her original career plan of broadcasting. Now she incorporates pieces of her broadcast training in her current position, as well as in the business side of production. She has not regretted the move. “I’m challenged every single day and am always learning something new,” she said. “It has been a wonderful growing experience for me.” She is most proud of her personal and financial independence, having purchased her first home in 2010.
david Lund, 38
Title: Senior Vice President, Investment/Wealth Management Advisor Company: Merrill Lynch Not only is David Lund being recognized by the Grand Rapids Business Journal in its list of 40 under 40, but he also has been recognized as one of Wall Street’s Top 40 Advisors under 40. Lund said he is proud of his family, as well as his team at Merrill Lynch, where he has worked for the last 15 years after a friend introduced him to the organization. “Watching our people grow professionally, helping families have their own successes is the most enjoyable thing I do,” he said. Lund is president, treasurer and secretary of Grand Rapids Sunrise Rotary and treasurer of the Swedish American Heritage Society. He also is president and treasurer of Cannon Pool, a swimming pool in the Rockford area, and is involved with his four children’s schools and his family’s church. The Wall Street accolade was his second from Financial Planning magazine, which placed him seventh on last year’s list. Rankings were determined by assets under management, and Merrill Lynch’s Towner Lund Group came in with $1.43 billion. Lund also is active with Mel Trotter, Meals on Wheels, Habitat for Humanity and Big Brothers/Big Sisters.
That experience has made her more culturally aware of what West Michigan has to offer. Her proudest achievements have been interviewing candidates and submitting them to clients after only three months on the job, being voted secretary of the West Michigan Hispanic Center after five months on the board, and her positions on the boards of Grand Rapids Young Professionals, the Red Cross, Hope Network Business Council and Davenport University Employer Advisory Board.
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Kristin revere, 38
Title: President/Owner Company: Revere Consulting LLC
Michael Mraz, 31
Title: Vice President of Real Estate Development Company: Rockford Construction If you look around Grand Rapids, you’ll see several buildings with which Michael Mraz has been involved, including the Blue Cross Blue Shield building (formerly Steketee’s), Cooley Law School, Peck Building, Front Row Condominiums and GRiD70. Mraz calls his experience with these projects his biggest professional break. “Since then I have been lucky enough to serve on the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce board, as well as numerous subcommittees that are focused on making Grand Rapids great,” he said. Mraz is executive committee vice chair of the GR Chamber, on the membership committee of The Economic Club of Grand Rapids, board chair of March of Dimes, board member of Metro Health Hospital Foundation and chair of the advisory council for Grand Rapids Community Foundation. He is most proud of the recently completed MoDiv, Shops@Monroe Center & Division, which took vacant space and created a retail incubator for downtown. “The center is now thriving and has a variety of retail entrepreneurs and international retailers under one roof,” he said. “This has been a catalyst to retail development and the demand is increasing every day.” Mraz is involved with Equest Center for Therapeutic Riding, and recently climbed Mount Kilimanjaro with his wife, Rachel, to raise money for an orphanage in Zimbabwe. He has served on committees for Grand Rapids Public Museum, Boys & Girls Club, Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts, and as a youth group leader for Mayflower Church.
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Though she has been around Michigan’s political circles for the better part of the last five years, Kristin Revere is most proud of being selected for the Michigan Political Leadership Fellowship Program from 2007 to 2008. Revere was one of 24 chosen from throughout the state to participate in the program, which trains future candidates in policy and campaigns and teaches them how to work across political parties to pass legislation. Her biggest professional break was her first job in political fundraising at the Michigan Senate Democratic Caucus. “It opened me up to all kinds of new opportunities,” she said. Her public work varies from women’s advocacy to local businesses and entertainment, but for Revere, the more interests, the more of an impact she can have on the community.
“I am very involved in the community, work hard to make a difference on multiple fronts and feel that the more public my interests and abilities are, the more I am able to help,” she said. Revere is a member of the Women & Girls Lead Advisory Council, Michigan Political Leadership Program West Michigan Regional Council and a board member of the Progressive Women’s Alliance PAC. She is active with Girls on the Run, Midwest Finance Team for Obama for America, East Hills Neighborhood Association Fundraising Committee, Waterfront Film Festival, Healthy Kent Breastfeeding Coalition, Mothering Justice and a member of Inforum and Local First.
Lawrence r. duthler, 39
Title: President Company: Sun Title Agency
As an attorney and co-owner of four companies, including Sun Title, Lawrence R. Duthler values the time he gets to spend with his two best friends — his wife at home and his business partner at work — on a daily basis. “We have built organizations that allow me to do what I am passionate about. I have the ability to innovate and change entire industries and create companies where my employees can depend on me and thrive in a rewarding environment,” Duthler said. His companies, which also include CD Holdings LLC, Docs on the Fly and Vets Title, range from real estate development to title insurance and settlement. Duthler’s biggest professional break was the opportunity to join Warner Norcross & Judd after law school. His time with the law firm helped him become a “true professional” and learn more than just the practice of law: He also learned what a professional organization could be. He has applied the commitment to exceeding expectations, ethics, and support of friends and colleagues to his business life. Of his achievements, Duthler said being a committed husband and father to two children makes him most proud. Duthler is a licensed attorney, CPA, real estate broker and insurance producer. He is a member of the Michigan Bar Association, Grand Rapids Bar Association, Michigan Association of Certified Public Accountants, Grand Rapids Association of Realtors, Turnaround Management Association and Michigan Land Title Association.
Mandee rick, 37
Title: Portfolio Management Team Leader and Vice President Company: Huntington Bank
Michael Hill, 35
Title: Managing Partner Company: Edify North LLC Since founding Edify North, a Holland employee benefits consulting firm, in September 2009, Michael Hill has increased revenue significantly each year and grown the firm to include five employees. Hill said he is committed to encouraging employee awareness, engagement and personal responsibility in the area of insurance. He works to implement this through effective employee meetings. Hill also acts as the lead point of contact for all clients and works to find opportunities for employee education as well as cost reduction. The biggest influences in his life are God and those who have a strong relationship with Him. Hill is media relations chair for the Michigan Association of Underwriters, legislative chair for West Michigan Association of Health Underwriters, an at-large executive committee member of Holland Area Chamber of Commerce, a member of the West Michigan Policy Forum Steering Committee and of the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce Regional Issues Council. He is also a coach for Total Trek Quest, a program for third- to fifth-grade boys to educate them about healthy decisions and prepare them to complete a 5K run.
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What once seemed like the end of the world to Mandee Rick actually turned out to be her biggest professional break: when the company she worked for went out of business and she ended up at Huntington Bank. Eleven years later, Rick is honing her mentoring and leadership skills at the bank. “I have been able to work for some incredible people who were truly impactful in my career development. Losing that job was the best thing that has ever happened to me professionally,” she said. Rick’s proud of her ability to take on new roles and challenges, but when she saw the opportunity to help young professionals determine how they could grow within the business of banking, she found a challenge in which to pour all her energy.
“It was developed by us from the ground up and it is truly rewarding to see people go through that program and get something out of it for themselves,” she said of the mentoring program. “We’ve actually seen most of the participants gain some type of promotion, not as a direct result of the program but it has helped them see opportunities and explore things they may have otherwise never done.” Rick is active with Boys and Girls Club of Grand Rapids/Camp O’Malley, Grand Rapids Young Professionals Advisory Board and Davenport University Alumni board. She also volunteers with the American Heart Association, Saint Mary’s Doran Foundation, Heart of West Michigan United Way and Grand Rapids Relay for Life.
Amanda rogalski, 32
Title: Director of Business Development Company: viastore systems After graduating from Grand Valley State University with a bachelor’s degree in business administration with emphasis on marketing an international business, Amanda Rogalski watched many of her college friends leave the area. She stayed, but she had lost much of the community she had grown to love. Joining Grand Rapids Young Professionals changed that sense of loss when she regained the sense of community she was seeking. She has been helping the organization build upon that feeling ever since. “Every time I meet someone at an event and they tell me that they were new to town and were invited to a GRYP event and that since then they made a great group of friends through GRYP, have gotten involved in the community and consider Grand Rapids home, I become extremely proud of GRYP,” she said. Formerly president of the organization, Rogalski now serves on its advisory committee. “Once I got connected with GRYP, my community involvement snowballed, and I am now as passionate about this city and the people here as I was about GVSU and the students there,” she said. Rogalski is a member of the MHIA Automation Marketing Campaign, Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce CEO Roundtable for Sales and Marketing, Grand Rapids Young Professionals, Grand Valley Young Alumni Council and 21st Century State Government Advisory Council.
tami VandenBerg, 37
Michael Wolﬀ, 37
Title: Co-owner Company: The Meanwhile Bar/The Pyramid Scheme
Title: Clinical Neuropsychologist Company: Behavioral Resources and Institute for Neuropsychological Services
Tami VandenBerg and her business partners have opened two thriving and unique businesses that appeal to the creative class of Grand Rapids and beyond. The Meanwhile Bar and The Pyramid Scheme have revitalized abandoned buildings and contributed to the new culture of their surrounding communities. “Both businesses constantly partner with community organizations working to improve the quality of life for everyone in Grand Rapids,” VandenBerg said. Her biggest influence is the network of creative people in her life: “all of my friends around the world who work daily to make places more interesting, more kind and more just,” she said. With her thriving businesses, VandenBerg is proud of the work she does for the vulnerable in the city, as well as the impact she has had on the local economy.
Shortening the name of the organization where he is co-owning partner and clinical neurologist to BRAINS gets to the center of what Michael Wolff is all about. Following graduation, Wolff started with BRAINS to develop a specialized traumatic brain injury program for patients with severe agitation following discharge from an acute hospital. Since it began in 2007, it has progressed from a loss of $30,000 and billing just over $100,000 in the first year to billing more than $1 million today. Wolff is most proud of the development of the BRAINS Foundation, a training program for pre-doctoral psychology students. In addition to training, the foundation provides neuropsychological evaluations, behavioral consultation, triage assessments and coordination of care and pediatric health psychology through three consortium sites: Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, BRAINS and Ottawa County Mental Health.
“I’m proud that the Red Project has reduced HIV in the community. I’m proud my businesses employ more than 40 people. I’m proud to be a part of the resurgence of Michigan beer, and all things Michigan,” she said. Her biggest professional break was being approached by Mark Sellers, who financed The Pyramid Scheme and allowed VandenBerg and her brother to do the project on a much larger scale. She took over 50 percent ownership in 2012. VandenBerg is chair of The Grand Rapids Red Project, board member and fundraising chair for Well House Community, secretary of Eastown Community Association and vice chairperson of the Uptown Corridor Improvement District Authority.
Gina VanGessel, 32
Title: Owner/Co-Owner Company: Gina’s Boutique and Lia Rose Boutique When Gina VanGessel was downsized from her position as a merchandizing specialist, it made her think about what steps she wanted to take for her future and how she could do so involving things about which she was passionate. “It pushed me to follow my dream of opening a store,” she said. Now the owner and co-owner of two successful boutiques in areas where retail has had a difficult time taking hold, she is proud to be a part of the retail development of downtown. And while she loves Grand Rapids, it’s traveling to Haiti with Rays of Hope for Haiti that brings her the most joy and makes her feel like she is using her gifts. “There is nothing better than seeing the smiles on the children’s faces when I am there,” she said. VanGessel said the most influential person in her life has been Kim Sorrelle, an entrepreneur who runs Rays of Hope for Haiti. “I met Kim on my first trip to Haiti,” VanGessel said. “She has taught me so much about faith, perseverance and living an honorable life.” VanGessel is a member of the Van Andel Institute’s J-Board and Hospice of Michigan Collaborative. She also has done volunteer work with Rays of Hope International, Keystone Community Church and United Way.
“We anticipate expanding the services offered through the foundation for at-risk families as funding permits,” he said. “It has been an incredibly busy five years since opening BRAINS. The company growth, community support and other professional activities have been inspiring.” An executive director was hired in 2010 so Wolff could concentrate on additional clinical growth markets. There is already an extension office in Grand Haven and the organization is looking to find a new property and building to meet its growing needs. Wolff is a diplomat with the American Academy of Pediatric Neuropsychology and assistant director of the training program at the BRAINS Foundation. 40 under forty 2012 | Grand Rapids Business Journal 13
Mark rumsey, 39
Title: Founder Organization: Free Radical Gallery
elissa Hillary, 29
Title: Executive Director Organization: Local First
The face of recycling in the city of Grand Rapids looks much different, in part because of Elissa Hillary. As the executive director of Local First, she has increased membership from 150 to nearly 600 and has encouraged Grand Rapids to create a recycling program that both reduces waste and positively impacts the community. The city of Grand Rapids and Local First worked together to create mygrcitypoints, a program that earns residents points for recycling. In the first year, waste within the city dropped 14 percent, and recycling increased more than 80 percent. “I am proud of the positive economic and environmental impact this program has had on my community — and the impact it will have in years to come,” Hillary said. Hillary also has had an impact outside of West Michigan through Local First, the third largest organization of its kind per capita in the world, after it was chosen as one of four hubs in the United States designated to help others create their own “local first” networks. Hillary is a member of the Downtown Development Authority and its Economy Action Group Committee, and has been involved in the Grand Rapids Downtown Market, the West Michigan Strategic Alliance board, City of Grand Rapids Brownfield/Economic Development Board, Blandford Nature Center board of directors and as a court appointed special advocate. She also has been chosen as the Young Non-Profit Professional of the Year’s Exemplary Executive.
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While the “creative class” is often talked about for its influence on the community and commerce, Mark Rumsey said there still is little recognition for artists who choose to live and work in West Michigan. “New buildings are great, but without feeding the creative energy of the city and region, we can’t expect innovation to sweep in and fill the spaces. The creative community needs to be fed and recognized,” he said. Rumsey is doing his part to help artists become recognized in the community as founder/organizer/curator of Free Radical Gallery. He also has initiated and organized a series of pop-up galleries, mentored young artists and built collaborations to benefit the area’s art community. Rumsey said he has been influenced by strong women such as his mother and five older sisters, who he said, “set a precedent for my interactions with the world.” Always the do-it-yourself type, Rumsey said he has come to where he is through hard work, good luck, supportive friends and kind people around him.
Rumsey has been involved in lectures, talks and exhibitions around the world, and recently was accepted as a guest artist at The Swatch Art Peace Hotel in Shanghai, China. “It’s a prestigious award on the international stage, which gives me a sense of satisfaction,” he said. He is a committee member of the YNPN National Conference Planning Committee, vice president of Grand Rapids Community Media Center, a member of the Wealthy Theatre Centennial Campaign Cabinet and many other local organizations.
Sara Sherry, 24
Title: Owner, President Company: Mixed Staffing and Management LLC Sara Sherry has overcome loss of family and friends over the past few years to help others follow their dream through gainful employment. Though her boutique staffing company in downtown Grand Rapids is only a little more than a year old, Sherry knows her professional break was when she decided to take a chance and open her own business. Sherry said she is proud of who she is becoming and of her heart and her mindset. “My greatest accomplishment is graduating from Grand Valley State University one year ago, setting up a goal to open a business in a year, and doing what I said I was going to do. My accomplishment today is opening up my own business at 24-years-old by myself.” Sherry has been influenced by God, her mother and her late father. “They have all played a vital role in my success story and continue to build me daily,” she said. Sherry is a community leader for Endless Opportunities and has volunteered with Stomp Out Stigma 2012, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Catholic Central High School’s volleyball camp and more. Sherry also is an accomplished volleyball player and serves as the head coach for the junior varsity squad at Ottawa Hills High School.
A celebration of success. Grand Valley State University and the Grand Valley State University Alumni Association congratulate our alumni and faculty named to the Grand Rapids Business Journal’s “40 Under Forty” list. We’re pleased to have given our alumni a rich education experience that prepares them for positions of service and leadership. And we appreciate the opportunity to provide our faculty with a teaching environment that fosters personalized instruction, real-world research, and individual student success. gvsu.edu/GRAND | (616) 331-2025 Amanda Rogalski, viastore systems, Inc.
Matthew downey, Johnson Center for Philanthropy at GVSu
Andrea Snyder, StudIo3tWenty
Milinda ysasi Castanon, Herman Miller Inc.
Lawrence duthler, Sun title Agency, LLC
Rob McCarty, the Image Shoppe
Lindsay Anes, owen-Ames-Kimball
Sara Sherry, Mixed Staffing and Management, LLC
Mandee Rick, Huntington Bank
Stacy Stout, Hispanic Center of Western Michigan
Mark Rumsey, Artist
ted titus, Wolverine Building Group
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40 under forty 2012 | Grand Rapids Business Journal 15
eric Johnson, 30 Title: Principal Company: Gorilla Pictures
ryan Smith, 34
Title: Owner/Partner Company: Argus Financial Consultants Ryan Smith calls himself a “prototype” for the 40 under 40 class. As an Aquinas College student who came to the area from out of state and stayed to start a business, become involved in the community and raise a family, Smith said Grand Rapids wants more of the college students who come to the area to do the same. Smith is proud of his financial advising business, started in 2006. “I get so much job satisfaction out of meeting with generations of families to help them accomplish the goals they are striving for,” he said. “I absolutely love sitting in a room with grandparents, parents and grandkids, so all involved know the family plan.” He then meets with each individual to help plan on a micro level at each decision-making stage of their lives. “This was all made possible by making the jump and starting Argus Financial Consultants in 2006,” he said. Smith is president of National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors Grand Rapids, state membership chair for the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors Michigan and a member of the NAIFA Widowed Persons Services’ annual golf outing committee. He also is director of Grand Rapids Lions Club, vice president of the Aquinas College Alumni board of directors and a member of Our Lady of Consolation’s long-range planning committee. A collegiate athlete at Aquinas, Smith continues to be active in soccer through coaching.
16 Grand Rapids Business Journal | 40 under forty 2012
Eric Johnson believes Grand Rapids’ stock is on the rise. Johnson is growing his film company in Grand Rapids because he feels the community embodies his own leadership values of camaraderie, trust and shared vision, with all relationships being deeply connected. “The diversity of growth happening in all areas of business is very exciting and inspires me to push our local film and artist community to keep pace,” he said. Johnson envisions Grand Rapids creating an environment for film similar to that of Austin, Texas. “This is only possible if we create the infrastructure to keep and employ our most talented artists,” he said. “Gorilla is West Michigan’s largest film production collective to date and is creating a vehicle for filmmakers to stay local while working at a national level.” While Gorilla houses a collective of 20 filmmakers and has created more than $950,000 worth of business in the last year, Johnson also has experience in other areas of the world. He has worked on films in 45 countries and most major U.S. cities. He also spent time in the Democratic Republic of Congo while adopting his two 2-year-old sons.
His father was a major influence, giving a lifelong example of compassion, work ethic and selflessness. “His life is evidence that the best gift you can give your children are the intangibles of moral ethics.” Johnson is active with Kids Hope USA and Burton Elementary Mentorship Program Master Arts Summer Film Camp, and his company facilitates student intern programs for Calvin College and Compass College of Cinematic Arts.
Christina Keller, 31
Title: Business Unit Leader Company: Cascade Engineering Christina Keller’s activity in the Grand Rapids community has given her a greater appreciation for the place where she grew up. “As a part of Leadership Grand Rapids, I had the pleasure and opportunity to learn more about our great location. As a member the Grand Rapids Community Foundation, I think I can make an impact in our community, and as a member of the Family Business Alliance and a local, family-owned company, I know I can make an impact in Grand Rapids,” she said. As the business unit leader of Triple Quest, a joint venture between Cascade Engineering and The Windquest Group, Keller is working with partners such as the U.S. Navy’s Project Handclasp, USAID, Rotary International, World Vision and others to bring products to the developing world. After working in New York City, Washington, D.C., Uganda, Peru, Costa Rica and Chile, Keller came back to Grand Rapids to work with her father, Cascade Engineering CEO Fred Keller, who she described as an innovative thinker who wants to try to address poverty through social business models. Keller is a board member of Cascade Renewable Energy, Solar Light for Africa and CK Technologies. She is a trustee of Grand Rapids Community Foundation and an advisory board member of Keller Futures Center. She is also active with the Transformation Advisors Committee for Grand Rapids and other fundraising causes and charitable events.
nichole Smith, 25
Lindsay Anes, 30
Nichole Smith describes herself as a “social instigator,” and in her position at Start Garden, an organization that gives away $10,000 a week to people with business ideas, that sort of instigation can result in new businesses. “I work with a team of eight who hail from a multitude of different backgrounds, both professionally and personally, which provides an ideal work environment for a young professional,” she said. The team begins each day with a “group conversation” on a variety of subjects. “They are intelligent, bright, creative, and the best role models I could ask for,” she said. “I am grateful to spend each day learning from their experience and knowledge.” Smith is proud of the fact that she earned a bachelor’s degree in communication at Western Michigan University in three years at age 21, and worked three jobs to leave herself debt-free today.
When the real estate downturn left Lindsay Anes looking for new opportunities, she found one while returning renovation plans to Owen-Ames-Kimball. After mentioning she was looking for a new job, the construction firm contacted her about its marketing coordinator position, and Anes was excited to join a company with a long history in the community. She came aboard in 2007. Some of her recent projects include the Van Andel Institute-Phase II, Byron Center Public Schools improvements, the Bissell Tree House at John Ball Zoo, and West Michigan Sports Commission’s planned 12-field baseball/softball complex. Anes, who is a board member of Grand Valley Chapter of American Institute of Architects, Associated Builders and Contractors and Pine Rest Connect, also shares her talents with The Monday Group, The Economic Club and Down Syndrome Association of West Michigan Parent Group.
Title: Director of Business Development Company: Owen-Ames-Kimball
Title: Event Production, Social Media, Physical Spaces Organization: Start Garden
She is active with Bid for Bachelor & Bachelorettes benefiting Friends & Families of Cystic Fibrosis, a board member for GRandwich, and has volunteered for Children’s Miracle Network, Yankee Air Museum, David D. Hunting Golf Outing, Meijer Special Olympics and the Piston Care Telethon benefiting Feed the Children. She is a member of the American Legion, Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce and Kalamazoo Chamber of Commerce, a team leader for ArtPrize Street Teams and a member of the LumberJills. Smith was Miss Pride of the Peninsulas 2011, Miss Shoreline 2010, Miss Kalamazoo 2009 and received the Miss Michigan Non-Finalist Talent Award 2010.
Andrea Snyder, 33
Title: Co-owner/Creative Director Company: Studio3Twenty Change is something Andrea Snyder feared, but 18 months after opening her graphic design, marketing and website development business, she had the opportunity to gain a partner and has never regretted it. Her partner, Matt Snyder, is also her husband and the person who influences her most in her life. “Our styles are very different, and as a result of that we have been able to complement each other very well, which has allowed us both to grow in ways we never imagined,” she said. Though she has moved away from it to pursue her own education, Snyder looks at her time spent teaching at Grand Valley State University and Kendall College of Art and Design as her biggest business break. “I loved every minute of the opportunity,” she said. Showing young people they can achieve anything they set their minds to is one of the reasons Snyder believes she is included in the 40 under 40 class. “I owned my own business, completed my master’s degree and started teaching at a collegiate level by the age of 26. At that time I felt I needed to work harder than those around me to prove myself,” she said. “That work ethic has brought on the opportunities that have made me what I am today.” Snyder is a communications committee member of Great Start of Ottawa County and a marketing and development committee member for Grand Rapids Civic Theatre, and through her company has been an in-kind sponsor to the Del Shannon Car Show.
She is most proud of her contribution to the artwork in Owen-Ames-Kimball’s newly renovated office. The artwork came from Artists Creating Together (formerly Very Special Arts) and was created by children and adults with special needs. “I am so happy to work for a company and with people who celebrate differences,” she said. Her co-workers also are happy she is working with Owen-Ames-Kimball. “Lindsay has the wisdom of someone twice her age and the energy of someone half her age,” co-workers wrote on her nomination form. “She is always smiling, always listening, and she genuinely cares about the people around her. Her ability to connect with other people makes her highly influential.” 40 under forty 2012 | Grand Rapids Business Journal 17
Bridget Clark Whitney, 32
Title: Executive Director Organization: Kids’ Food Basket
rosalynn Bliss, 37
Titles: Grand Rapids City Commissioner; Director of Residential Services Organization: D.A. Blodgett- St. John’s From bike paths and parks to increasing the tree canopy in the city of Grand Rapids, Rosalynn Bliss is one of the city’s champions of outdoor enjoyment. A two-term city commissioner, she is most proud of her work on the Mayor’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Parks and Recreation, assisting in creating Friends of Grand Rapids Parks, and her work with the first GR Bike Summit. She is part of the Urban Forestry Management Planning committee, supporting the goal of achieving a 40 percent tree canopy in the city. She is a member of the Fulton Street Farmers Market Redevelopment Committee and assisted in the fundraising campaign for recent changes to the market. Combine this with her day job at D.A. Blodgett-St. John’s and her volunteer activities as a member of Huntington Bank’s Women’s Advisory Board, Uptown Corridor Business Improvement District, Dyer-Ives Foundation Board and Corporate YMCA Board, among other mentoring opportunities, and Bliss is a busy woman. Bliss said her biggest professional break was being elected to the city commission in 2005 and 2009, which gives her the opportunity to serve the community and work on issues important to her. “I strive to be a mentor and model to young people both professionally and personally and hope that, through my work, I can show others that by getting involved in issues you care about, you can indeed make a difference,” she said. “You can be a part of making our community a better place and having a positive impact on the lives of others.”
18 Grand Rapids Business Journal | 40 under forty 2012
When a student at Aquinas College, Bridget Clark Whitney was an intern for Kids’ Food Basket, then quickly became its executive director. “I knew that we had the opportunity to impact change immediately, and the needs became so immense,” she said of the more than 30,000 children in Kent County living below the poverty level in 2008. “I knew we had the responsibility to achieve significant growth. In fact, it would have been irresponsible not to.” In 10 years, the nonprofit has gone from a staff of one to 13 and from a budget of $35,000 to $3.6 million. “I have established the vision and spearheaded the organizational growth to transition Kids’ Food Basket from startup to a well-respected community organization,” she said, adding that the organization now serves 4,900 children per weekday, and has a satellite location in Muskegon.
One of the lessons Clark Whitney has learned is to empower the people around her. “As a leader, I seek out and cherish talent, skills and abilities of people around me,” she said. “Being a good leader isn’t about me; it’s about the people I surround myself with because we’re all better together.” Clark Whitney is a member of the Gilda’s Club LaughFest cabinet, a board member of Nonprofit Innovations, and fund development co-chair for Indian Trails Camp. She also is fund development co-chair for Young Nonprofit Professionals Network and nonprofit organizations cochair of Heart of West Michigan United Way.
Ashley Cole, 34
Title: Owner/Designer Company: Ashley Cole Design Ashley Cole’s passion for design has benefited many, including Friends of Grand Rapids Parks, Down Syndrome Association of West Michigan, Van Andel Institute and Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital’s pediatric cancer unit. When not running her design business, she is active in using her design talents for causes such as sustainability, funding for cancer research and supporting people with disabilities. Cole said she tries to be present in every moment, whether it is spent helping with a community event or working with her clients at the design company she started when she was 18. She credits her mother with being her biggest influence. Cole’s mother worked as an occupational therapist, exposing her to the needs of handicapped children in the school systems. This experience made Cole appreciate the importance of relating to others and seeing beauty despite differences. “The older I get, the more I want to give back. This is only the beginning. As a single, female entrepreneur, designer, model, dancer, world traveler, yogi, writer, photographer, artist and student of life, I want to encourage everyone to dive in, say yes and make a difference.” Her designs have been featured in several magazines including Women’s Lifestyle Magazine, Grand Rapids Magazine, Cosmopolitan Home, Home Magazine and Better Homes and Gardens Kitchen and Bath Ideas. Cole said her biggest professional break was the redesign of Monte’s bar in Grand Rapids. The nature of the space and media exposure led to other opportunities with unique, boutique-style commercial spaces.
Johnny Brann Jr., 33
Title: Owner Company: Kitchen 67 Brann’s Café
Matthew downey, 39
Title: Nonprofit Services Program Director Organization: Johnson Center for Philanthropy at Grand Valley State University Matthew Downey has seen the upside and downside of the philanthropic world. One accomplishment of which he is most proud was helping an after-school program in Muskegon Heights that had lost funding. During the time it was nonoperational, three students who had participated in the program were shot and killed during the hours the program would have been in service. Downey’s work helped build a board of directors, attract supporters and create a fundraising strategy. “This is just a small but meaningful example of the daily opportunities I have to help vital community organizations succeed,” he said. Downey said he was positively influenced by Kathy Agard, who recently retired from the Johnson Center for Philanthropy. “Kathy took a chance on me when she brought me on the Johnson Center staff to lead the nonprofit services department. This is something I will never forget. Ever since she did that, I have made a point of encouraging and developing GVSU students and young professionals to become future community and nonprofit leaders,” he said. Downey’s work has not gone unnoticed by his peers. He was recognized as the 2011 Young Nonprofit Professional of the Year by the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network of Grand Rapids. He is a member of Rotary Club of Grand Rapids, Association of Fund Raising Professionals-West Michigan Chapter and Alliance for Nonprofit Management. He also volunteers for Wellspring/Cori Terry & Dancers, Indian Trails Camp and LGBT Resource Center.
20 Grand Rapids Business Journal | 40 under forty 2012
Born and raised in a restaurant-owning family, Johnny Brann Jr. worked his way from busboy at 16 to management within six years. Now he is running his own new-concept restaurant — the innovative Kitchen 67 Brann’s Café — where he is offering a “challenge to the entire industry to shake up the restaurant world.” Brann said he has been blessed with the opportunity to be involved in the community through his family’s business. He is president of the West Leonard Business Association and West Grand Neighborhood Association, and a member of the Grand Rapids Transformation Advisory Council. He also is active with the Safe Streets Task Force and Grand Rapids Community Foundation Challenge Scholars Program. Brann volunteers with Remembrance Church’s Feed the Hungry event and Grand Rapids Back to School Kid Parade and Games. “I enjoy speaking at schools to children any chance that I can get,” he said. “I hope to help and inspire kids to find what they love to do. I believe they can do whatever they want to do.”
Brann also is interested in health and overall fitness. He has helped promote and organize a strength and fitness competition for the general public and has participated in four bodybuilding competitions. Of his accomplishments, Brann said he is most proud of marrying his wife, Michelle.
Brian Burch, 34
Title: Public Relations Director Organization: ArtPrize Brian Burch’s biggest professional break not only helped ignite his career, but also set the tone for the kinds of projects that would become his calling card. The public announcement and launch of Millennium Park: Chicago in 2004 had Burch managing and executing message strategy for the largest public/private partnership in the city in 50 years. He worked directly with artists involved in the visual playground, coordinating international interviews and leading media tours through the park. During this time, he became the resident expert on the art and the artists. After the launch, he returned to Michigan and parlayed his experience in Chicago into a position with Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, and with additional projects including working with Grand Rapids Art Museum, Arts Council of Greater Grand Rapids, and now ArtPrize. Burch is proud to have coordinated high-profile pieces in Fast Company, Fortune and GQ magazines, showcasing West Michigan and the use of creativity, innovation and pragmatism in economic recovery. A member of the Holland City Council, Holland Planning Commission, Public Relations Society of AmericaWest Michigan Chapter, Alzheimer’s Association Greater Michigan Chapter, TEDxGrandRapids, GR Collective, Ottawa County Republican Party, Holland Junior Welfare League and a cantor at Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church, Burch is also very active in the West Michigan community. “I am a tireless advocate for West Michigan,” Burch said. “I am constantly eager to serve my community without complaint and with the interest of others first.”
robert Worthington, 38
rob McCarty, 39
Title: Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Risk Management Director Company: Mercantile Bank of Michigan As a young bank teller at Old Kent Bank, Robert Worthington went to the top for career advice. He called John Canepa, then chairman and CEO, who agreed to meet with him and became his first mentor. Canepa gave Worthington the advice: “Don’t run away from challenges in your life; run toward the opportunities you have been given.” While he views this as his biggest professional break, Worthington said it was harder to pinpoint the biggest influence in his life. “I have been so blessed with many positive influences in my life, from family, friends, teachers, coworkers and mentors. To say any one was more influential than the other would be like trying to determine whether your wedding day or the birth of your child is more memorable. You just can’t do it,” he said.
Worthington believes everyone has “the responsibility to use our God-given gifts to help each other” and has spearheaded an effort to have all Mercantile Bank employees involved in community leadership and volunteer activities, resultig in more than 10,000 hours of donated time in 2011. Worthington is chair of the Titan Business Challenge with Junior Achievement of the Michigan Great Lakes, an elected trustee of Grand Haven Charter Township, vice chair of the Grassroots Advocacy Committee of the Michigan Bankers Association, director of MiBankPac and chair of the Banking and Finance Committee for the Michigan Office of Regulatory Reinvention Advisory Rules Committee. He also is involved with the Gerald R. Ford Foundation and planning the William E. Simon Lecture Series luncheon.
Title: Jack of All Company: The Image Shoppe
Milinda ysasi Castanon, 32
Title: Human Resources Consultant Company: Herman Miller Inc.
Milinda Ysasi Castanon has had many successes in nearly a decade of being a human resources professional, including a Grand Valley State University Alumni Service Award, but her proudest accomplishment is one she did not win. Though she was not chosen as a member of the Grand Rapids Community College board of trustees, she said she completed a goal just by running. “I believe that if you want to see change happen in your community, you need to be a part of the action. I plan to run again for office to serve my community.” Ysasi Castanon serves West Michigan as a member of the Association of Human Resource Management, GRACC Center for Community Leadership, GVSU Alumni Board and Hispanic Center of West Michigan. She is active with Aquinas College’s GET Program Advisory Board and was part of GRCC’s Latino Youth Conference planning team, as well as a GVSU Career Services admissions and student life speaker. Ysasi Castanon said her biggest career break came after only a year at Herman Miller, when she was offered her current position. She is grateful for the mentors who helped her and hopes to mentor others, professionally and personally — a trait she attributes to her father. “My father is my biggest influence. He is one of the smartest people I know and has always encouraged me to be independent, to strive for excellence and to help others around me,” she said. Ysasi Castanon was honored in September with the Athena Young Professional Award.
The biggest influence in Rob McCarty’s life has shifted over the years. While once it was his grandfather, he said he now is influenced by his son and imagining what the world will be like in 50-100 years. He said seeing the world from his son’s perspective has made him a better leader. McCarty said his biggest professional break was working for Rachel Hood, executive director of West Michigan Environmental Action Council. “I didn’t know anyone in Grand Rapids outside of my family,” he said. “Our work together really opened some doors for me.” Of his marketing accomplishments, McCarty is very proud of getting the Local First organization off the ground. “I really appreciate all the people who poured themselves into the organization with their time, effort and work,” he said. “West Michigan businesses are best, by a mile.” He serves as point person for The Image Shoppe, managing clients that include Essence Restaurant Group’s Bistro Bella Vita, The Green Well and Grove. He also has worked on mygrcitypoints and Better Buildings for Michigan.
McCarty is a member of the Ehlers Transit Board, a mentor for Cook Leadership Academy at Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies and a project manager for Gateways Group. He also volunteers his time with West Michigan Environmental Action Council’s marketing committee, Local First, BALLE Conference on Local Living Economies, Friends of Grand Rapids Parks and Green Gala Host Committee.
40 under forty 2012 | Grand Rapids Business Journal 21
Christina M. Freese-Decker, 34
Brett Gilbert, 30
Title: Owner/Operator Company: Fatty Lumpkins Sandwich Shack
Title: President Organization: Spectrum Health United and Kelsey Hospitals
Scott Erickson, 24
Title: Founder Company: Diligent Music
Most everyone from West Michigan with access to the Internet has seen Scott Erickson’s work. They just may not know it. Erickson was executive producer of “The Grand Rapids LipDub” video that was featured on national and international television programs and other media, including CBS News, CNN, Daily Mail, ESPN, Fox News, Gawker, Huffington Post, Mashable, “Good Morning America,” “The Today Show” and others. The video also gained acclaim when Grand Rapids was featured as Person of the Week on “ABC World News Tonight.” But while the project garnered media attention, it did not blast Erickson and his team members to levels they had expected. “We won awards and thought ‘success’ was guaranteed. I was ready to make it big with a new company. That path wasn’t true to who I was meant to be. Through adversity, I have pursued my true calling. The entertainment industry needs hungry and talented entrepreneurs to pave the way and represent West Michigan,” he said. That is just what Erickson intends to do. As advisor and community relations director for Rock the Rapids Music Festival, founding member of the Juice Ball initiative and an advisory committee member of Grand Rapids Film Festival, Erickson is already involved with West Michigan entertainment and looks to the impact Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter has made through his charities and urban initiatives as an influence. “I strive to make as much of a positive impact on the world as he has,” Erickson said.
Christina M. Freese-Decker’s time at Spectrum Health has taken her from huge corporate initiatives to close-knit community hospitals. “It’s a different perspective on how to use financial and human capital. We have to be very specific and very detailed about how we prioritize our resources. From capital budgets to our operational budgets, it can probably be compared to a corporate budget and your home budget — every place you can eliminate or cut an expenditure in a smaller budget adds to something you can do somewhere else.” Helping to develop Spectrum Health’s mission, vision and values and see those standardized across the system is a source of pride. “We have this solid philosophy that allows us to provide confident, competent leadership and guide our hospitals to help move the entire organization forward,” she said.
It’s important to her that other women be part of that leadership, and she works to mentor and support women at Spectrum. Freese-Decker has held various positions on the board of the Great Lakes Chapter of the American College of Healthcare Executives, is a member of the organization’s Fund for Innovation and Career Services Board. She is president of the University of Iowa Department of Health Management and Policy, board engagement and development chair for David D. Hunting YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids and a member of Greenville Rotary Club.
22 Grand Rapids Business Journal | 40 UNDER FORTY 2012
Seth Getz, 36
Title: President, Coach, Founder Company: Business Mastery Some of Seth Getz’s proudest accomplishments are not his own. As a small business coach, he takes pride in helping others in their work. “Seeing entreprneurs and business owners that I work with push the boundaries of their industry and succeed in ways they didn’t think that they could is the most fun I have,” he said. After starting several small businesses before the age of 25, Getz read a book that would prove to have a big influence on him. After reading “E-Myth” by Michael Gerber, he studied with the author for several years and became certified as a coach under his training. When not working with small businesses to design business and marketing systems, he mentors with Hope College’s entrepreneurial program and also has worked as a mentor to Start Garden-funded startups. Getz also has taught at schools in Russia, coached small businesses in China and given seminars in Australia. “Business owners have always been an inspiration to me because they are innovators. They are the ones who have a dream worth fighting for and are willing to stretch themselves to accomplish it,” he said. Getz is treasurer of Children’s Bible Hour Ministries, secretary and treasurer of Reformation Heritage Books Publishing Club and a board member for the Alliance for Entrepreneurial Leadership. He is the founder of the Saugatuck Small Biz Meetup and a board member of TEDx Macatawa.
Losing the first professional job he had out of college was the impetus Brett Gilbert needed to start his own business. “I was already working on opening Fatty Lumpkins before losing that job, but knowing that my job was in jeopardy is what drove me to take the risk of opening a restaurant,” he said. Gilbert runs the Muskegon restaurant with his girlfriend of nine years, Jera Cook, which he said makes him proud.
“It’s awesome to share the same passion and to be able to pool our resources to create something out of scratch, minus any outside influence — the fact that we are selfmade and can grow together. “We continue to progress and grow and have also started a successful catering business.” Fatty Lumpkins has been involved with and supported many benefits and fundraisers for various causes in the community, including the Nim’s Neighborhood Association, National Night Out, Harbor Hospice, Rotary Grape Escape, Mona Shores Senior Class of 2012, Motorcycle Gang Tragedy Fund, Muskegon Recreation Club Fundraising, Child Abuse Council, Read! Muskegon and Muskegon Christian Care, as well as individual benefit events. Gilbert has been involved with Muskegon Summer Celebration, Muskegon Air Fair and Muskegon Bike Time. He also is a member of the Muskegon Accommodations Tax Advisory Board and Downtown Muskegon Now promotions committee.
Congratulations, Tina Freese-Decker— one of West Michigan’s 40 Under Forty. Leader, mentor and one of Spectrum Health’s finest. We are proud of you.
Tina Freese-Decker President, Spectrum Health United and Kelsey Hospitals
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