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Diversified Legal Staffing helps 50 legal pros find jobs

Finding a job in the legal world is far from as easy as it used to be. There is no shortage of news stories about too many attorneys graduating from law school for too few jobs. That’s why the team at Diversified Legal Staffing was happy to help 50 people find work in the legal world in 2013.

"We are flat-out overlawyered," says Mark Grobbel, owner of Diversified Legal Staffing. "We have too many attorneys to meet the demand."

The Bingham Farms-based company, an affiliate of D Diversified Services, helps professionals in the legal world find work. Those jobs range from attorneys to paralegals to legal administrative assistants.

Grobbel has been an attorney for 30 years and worked in legal staffing for 18 of those years. He started Diversified Legal Staffing in 2007 after being encouraged by a friend who owns D Diversified Services. Diversified Legal Staffing now employs a staff of six people.

Grobbel is pivoting his business plan by moving to a fixed-price hourly model for routine attorney document reviews. D Diversified Services will supply licensed attorneys at $30 per hour while carrying the cost of employing the attorneys. Grobbel hopes cost-effective pricing like this will lead to even more for the legal workers in Metro Detroit.

"If there is anyway to expand the pie, this is the way to do it," Grobbel says.

Source: Mark Grobbel, owner of Diversified Legal Staffing
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Company Folders recalibrates biz model, aims to add 5 jobs

Company Folders is one of those Internet firms that lives and dies by Google searches. The Keego Harbor-based company recently had a near-death experience but came back stronger than ever.

The 10-year-old company creates software that helps make presentation folder selection easier to understand and use. You can check out its folder design gallery here and the freebies it offers here. Company Folders enjoyed a lot of success because it leveraged good search engine optimization, often appearing at the top of a number of Google searches.

Then Google, which accounts for a vast majority of Internet searches, changed its algorithm in 2012. The new algorithm penalized firms that raised their ranking by linking to websites that Google deemed as low-quality, a practice Company Folders used often.

"When they rolled out this new algorithm all of the websites took a hit," says Vladimir Gendelman, founder & CEO of Company Folders. "Company Folders was one of those websites."

That meant the Company Folders' revenue plunged. Gendelman retooled its business model to restore its SEO that included getting rid of the bad links, adding a blog, writing stories for other publications, and instituting a loyalty marketing program. He then jumped through the hoops Google put up to get back in its good graces. The end product was a higher conversion rate from searches, more tools available to its customers and a stronger overall business.

"For the whole year we are up about 15 percent," Gendelman says.

The company has also grown its staff to a dozen people. It is currently looking to hire five people for jobs like account manager, UIX design, social media manager and SEO manager.

Source: Vladimir Gendelman, founder & CEO of Company Folders
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Trent Design grows staff thanks to manufacturing website work

There is no denying that Trent Design is a new economy company. The marketing firm specializes in design, specifically website design. So it’s a little amusing that the biggest driver of its recent growth is an old economy sector, manufacturing.

Trent Design has handled the website designs/redesigns of a number of big-name manufacturers over the last year, including Brasco International. Trent Design is currently working on new websites for Pennsylvania Steel and Jac Products. The trend started when Eaton Steel first reached out to Trent Design to redesign its website a couple of years ago. That led to a number of Eaton Steel's sister firms and manufacturers it works with following suit.

"We have done several manufacturing sites, which has helped us get even more manufacturing website work," says Marilyn Trent, principal of Trent Design. "I feel manufacturing can use our help."

That has allowed the Rochester-based company to hire a new brand strategist over the last year. It now employs five full-time employees, three part-timers and the occasional intern. Many of these employees have stayed with the firm for many years after they hired in. "When I hire them, they stay with me," Trent says.

Trent Design also opened an office in Detroit's Midtown neighborhood a couple of years ago. Trent thinks she could add another person or two to her staff in the next year but still wants to keep her company small.

"I want to keep a boutique-size agency that does great work and provides great customer service," Trent says.

Source: Marilyn Trent, principal of Trent Design
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Compass Commercial Real Estate awarded bid to manage real estate in Michigan

The State of Michigan, Department of Technology Management & Budget recently announced Compass Commercial/ITRA Global as one of the four firms selected to manage real estate for the state for the western and southeastern areas of Michigan’s lower peninsula. As the State leases many commercial properties, within this three-year contract, Compass/ITRA will help the state find new locations within the assigned regions.

In addition to their expertise in the western and southeastern regions, Compass Commercial was selected based on their staff experience and their complete and well-organized marketing and financial analyses samples. Regional management will be headed by Compass President and Co-founder Lynn Drake, along with Marilyn Nix, Compass senior vice president of Corporate Services; and Chris Atwater, ITRA Global-Grand Rapids president and owner.

“We are pleased to have been chosen by the State of Michigan to manage real estate for the western and southeastern regions of the lower peninsula,” Drake said. “The consideration and selection process was thorough and engaging -- now, we’re anxious to get to work!”

Well known in the real estate industry, Lynn Drake became a commercial realtor in 2001 after 15 years in corporate real estate during which she initially managed and leased industrial real estate across North America for Central Transport, then directed real estate and facilities for 1,000 Kelly Services branches in the United States and Canada. Thus far in her career, Drake has successfully completed more than 2,000 real estate transactions ranging from small business tenant leases to the sale and purchase of industrial complexes.  She also served as a City of Troy Planning Commissioner. She was featured on Florine Mark's "Remarkable Women" show, and received Crain's Detroit Business 2007 Real Estate Excellence Award.

Marilyn Nix is a real estate veteran, having primarily represented corporations for more than 35 years. She spent more than 30 years with General Motors Worldwide Real Estate, where she was responsible for many significant leasing and acquisition projects earning her an impressive reputation in the corporate real estate field. Most recently, she was the principal and broker in her own consulting firm, Marilyn P. Nix and Associates, which provided consulting services on economic development projects to local and state governments.  Nix is a past president of CREW Detroit, and is a delegate to the national organization, CREW Network. She has been active in CORENET, where she recently sat on the board of the Michigan chapter as the Vice President of Membership. Nix previously sat on the board of the Southfield, Michigan Planning Commission and the Downtown Development Partnership in Pontiac, Mich.

Getting his start in the industry as an appraiser for commercial real estate, Chris Atwater has worked in several real estate disciplines including asset management, property management, tenant representation and brokering. In addition to being a licensed Real Estate Broker in the State of Michigan, Atwater earned the following designations: Certified Commercial Investment Member; Member, Appraisal Institute. He also serves as Education, Appraisal and Tech/MLS Subcommittee chairs for the Grand Rapids Association of Realtors.

Under the state contract, Compass Commercial/ITRA Global will share responsibilities in the western region with CBRE, Inc., NAI Global, and Plante Moran Cresa, LLC; and with CBRE, Inc., Friedman Real Estate, and Plante Moran Cresa, LLC, in the southeastern region.

Compass Commercial, LLC/ITRA Global is a Troy, Michigan based company specializing in all phases of tenant representation for local and national clients. Its founder has 20-plus years of corporate real estate experience which allows them to help entrepreneurs and executives identify the right space at the right cost. www.compass-commercial.com

Oakland County Economic Development and Community Affairs returns to Dubai to promote life sciences

Business development representatives from Oakland County will return to Dubai next week to promote Medical Main Street, the county's health care and life science initiative, and October’s INNO-VENTION 2014 Conference at Arab Health, one of the largest medical conferences in the world.

Few counties in the United States can claim the international diversity of Oakland County's business community - more than 900 firms from 38 countries call Oakland County home. County Executive L. Brooks Patterson frequently cites the diversity as a critical part of Oakland County’s economic signature.

"Medical Main Street and health care have generated more than $900 million of investment in the past decade while creating or retaining more than 6,500 jobs in Oakland County," Patterson said. "We are telling Oakland County’s story around the world. It makes perfect sense for us to pitch Medical Main Street to a global audience."

Business development representatives Nicole Thomson and Alan Weber will represent the county at the conference, which is expected to attract over 112,000 health care professionals and 3,500 exhibitors from 142 countries. The conference runs Jan. 27 - 30.

Last year, the county was invited to participate by the Michigan Economic Development Corp. (MEDC) because the recognition the Medical Main Street name is getting nationally and internationally. Oakland County will once again join the MEDC in the U.S. Pavilion.

Six Michigan companies will make the trip, including three from Oakland County: MAKS, Inc. (Rochester Hills) - design, development and manufacturing of electronic products and components; Clinton River Medical Products (Auburn Hills) - power assist wheelchair technology; and Oxus (Rochester Hills) - portable oxygen concentrator manufacturer. The companies look forward to increasing export sales.

Last year, Deputy County Executive Matthew Gibb made a connection with his equivalent in the Polish government who was looking for a Midwest market in North America for Polish technology companies. Poland has one of the fastest growing technology sectors in the world, Gibb said. A similar connection was made with a South Korean official.

"We need to make sure our life science companies know the export markets available to them," Gibb said. "This is a unique opportunity to use our strengths to attract companies from a country like Poland. If we can do that, this is worth 10 trips, and I think we will."

Thomson and Weber will also be touring Dubai Healthcare City to assist existing companies increase export sales, attract new companies, as well as promote Medical Main Street and INNO-VENTION 2014.

Oakland University's School of Business Administration receives dual AACSB accreditation

The School of Business Administration at Oakland University successfully maintained its business and accounting accreditations from AACSB International—The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.

AACSB accreditation is the hallmark of excellence in business and accounting education. Every five years AACSB-accredited institutions must complete a thorough review that is strategic and focused on the delivery of high-quality education, continuous improvement, market relevance and currency.  Founded in 1916, AACSB International is the longest serving global accrediting body for business schools that offer undergraduate, master's and doctoral degrees in business and accounting.

Oakland University's business school has been a member of the AACSB since 1988, and fully accredited in both its business and accounting programs since 1994.

Less than five percent of the world's business programs hold this elite accreditation. Today, there are more than 687 business schools in 45 countries and territories that have earned AACSB Accreditation. Only 182 institutions hold an additional specialized AACSB Accreditation for their accounting programs.

"It takes a great deal of commitment and determination to earn and maintain AACSB accreditation," says Robert D. Reid, executive vice president and chief accreditation officer of AACSB International. "Business schools must not only meet specific standards of excellence, but their deans, faculty, and professional staff must make a commitment to ongoing continuous improvement to ensure that the institution will continue to deliver the highest quality of education to students."

"Maintaining dual accreditation in Oakland University's business and accounting programs is an external validation of the excellence and relevancy of our curriculum," says OU School of Business Administration Dean Michael A. Mazzeo. "The successful maintenance of our accreditation is a testament to Oakland University's dedicated faculty and staff in the business school.

"From our AACSB-accredited programs and top-notch faculty to the experiential learning opportunities, we are intensely focused on giving Oakland business students the tools to succeed," Mazzeo says.

Oakland University's School of Business Administration enrolls more than 2,500 undergraduate and graduate students in its business and accounting programs. The business school offers eight business majors – accounting, finance, business economics, operations management, human resources management, marketing, general management, and management information sciences as well as 12 minors at the undergraduate level. The school offers a Master of Business Administration, Master of Accounting, Master of Science in Information Technology Management and an Executive MBA with a focus on health care management and information systems leadership.

Established in 1959, Oakland University's School of Business Administration has evolved from a small liberal arts business program in the College of Arts and Sciences to an AACSB-accredited business school offering undergraduate and graduate business degrees. Over the last four decades, OU's business school has experienced tremendous growth in its reputation in the business and research community. Today, more than 15,000 Oakland University business school alumni at work at all levels of organizations through Michigan and around the world.

Yottabyte adds 5 to staff as it hits double-digit growth

Yottabyte is a 3-year-old software startup in transition, the type of transition it has been planning since its start.

"Now we're shifting from development to go-to-market," says Duane Tursi, principal of Yottabyte.

Yottabyte focuses on creating software that simplifies and automates IT infrastructure. Its two principal products, yStor and yCenter, specialize in different aspects of data storage. The yStor software creates an elastic and distributed storage platform that automatically adjusts when new resources are added. The system helps consolidate data storage functions.

The yCenter product creates a software-defined datacenter that enables the deployment of applications, the provision of virtual data center environments, and reconfiguring IT infrastructure in minutes. Yottabyte promotes it as an advanced software product for data centers. It is optimistic both of these systems will gain traction quickly in 2014.

"There is a readiness in the marketplace," Tursi says. "There is a consolidation going on in our space, so the rate at which our customers would adopt a non-name-brand product is pretty high."

To accommodate that, the Bloomfield Township-based firm has hired five people over the last year, including software programers and IT engineers. It currently employs a staff of 25 employees and one intern.

Source: Duane Tursi, principal of Yottabyte
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

FIRSTsense Medical aims to launch product next summer

It's been a long time coming, but FIRSTsense Medical is getting ready to begin selling its new breast cancer screening platform.

The Pontiac-based firm's breast cancer test uses robotics and software that emulates a manual test. FIRSTsense Medical claims that its technology achieves a 95-percent detection rate and has been validated in a 2,000-person trial.

"We hope to be in the market in June," says Paul Angott, president and founder of FIRSTsense Medical.

The 5-year-old firm has hired four people (software and mechanical engineers) over the last year to help get the technology to this point. The team of a dozen people helped FIRSTsense Medical make the semifinals of last month's Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition.

FIRSTsense Medical has raised $5 million in seed capital and is in the midst of raising another $5 million in a Series B round. It is also working with a contract sales company to make sales directly to hospitals and medical centers.

Source: Paul Angott, president & founder of FIRSTsense Medical
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

VioPoint doubles space and adds jobs in Auburn Hills

If timing is everything, then the leadership team at VioPoint thinks it has the right ingredients for a significant growth spurt.

"We have the right people and the right services and we're going at the market at the right time," says Wolfgang Goerlich, vice president of consulting at VioPoint.

The 7-year-old firm creates cyber security solutions and provides IT security consulting for other businesses. Its team monitor activity for potential cyber attacks. They also identify and close vulnerabilities in IT systems.

VioPoint has built up its headquarters in Auburn Hills to accommodate the growing demand for its services. Its staff of a dozen employees now has double the square footage after hiring six people over the last year. The company has attracted a number of new clients in a variety of industries, such as healthcare and finance.

"There has been a growing awareness of the importance of cyber security," Goerlich says.

Source: Wolfgang Goerlich, vice president of consulting at VioPoint
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Corrigan Moving Systems continues growth for 4th generation

Most new businesses use awards as a way to validate their business plans. Corrigan Moving Systems can point to four generations of family ownership for that. For the Farmington Hills-based company, awards are more a point of pride.

That's the case with its recent winning of the United Van Lines' 2013 President's Quality Award, which recognizes the top company in the United Van Lines system. The 85-year-old company won the initial offering of this award in 1995 and has been aiming to repeat that success ever since.

"It has been something we have been striving for for a long time," says Kevin Corrigan, general manager of Corrigan Moving Systems. "It's great to reach this peak."

It also recognizes the company's growth. The firm now has 12 locations in four states across the Midwest, including nine in Michigan. Corrigan Moving Systems has grown its revenue by 5 percent this year, including a 10 percent jump in revenue in southeast Michigan. It has also hired 200 people over the last year, including 30 full-time employees.

Corrigan Moving Systems has achieved that growth by incorporating more technology into its traditional business model. For instance, the firm has enabled its drivers and other workers to use iPads to handle deliveries and inventory.

"People see moving as an old business," Corrigan says. "We have been using technology to help streamline our business."

Source: Kevin Corrigan, general manager of Corrigan Moving Systems.
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Oakland University names Executive MBA program director

Oakland University's School of Business Administration Dean Michael A. Mazzeo has announced that Janell D. Townsend, Ph.D., has been named director of the university's Executive MBA program.

In this role, Townsend will be responsible for all aspects of Oakland's Executive MBA education programming, consistent with an Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business accredited institution.

"Dr. Townsend is an outstanding professor and researcher, and we are pleased she is taking on the added responsibility of leading our executive MBA program," said Dr. Mazzeo. "Her leadership will help ensure the program continues to deliver a high-quality, relevant education to our current and future students."

In addition to her new role, Townsend will continue teaching at Oakland as an associate professor of marketing and international business. She is also a visiting associate professor at Michigan State University and a member of the faculty of the MSc in Engineering Management program at Vienna University of Technology (TU Wien). 

Townsend earned her Ph.D. in Marking and International Business from Michigan State University in 2005. Professionally, her research interests are broadly defined by strategic and international marketing issues, and fall within the nexus of branding, innovation, and globalization of the firm, helping to extend understanding of complex phenomena in an ever more global marketplace. Much of her work is conducted in the context of the global automotive industry.

Townsend's research has appeared in top tier business journals such as the Journal of International Business StudiesJournal of Product Innovation ManagementJournal of International Marketing, International Marketing Review, and Thunderbird International Business Review.

In addition to her research and teaching, Townsend regularly consults on research projects for industry, lends her expertise through executive coaching, and has a number of collaborations with automotive OEM's, suppliers, and global market research firms. 

About Oakland University's Executive MBA program:
Oakland's Executive MBA program is designed for professionals who are already engaged in successful careers and want to build a strong business foundation while enhancing their leadership and management skills. The program offers the schedule flexibility required for a full-time executive. The average age of an Executive MBA student is 37 years with 15 years of work experience. Learn more about the program here.

Program focuses on post-high school training

Oakland Community College is partnering with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and a network of Michigan community colleges to educate high school students about training opportunities in high demand careers.
 
The Career Jump Start Program is intended to address the critical talent gap facing Michigan employers promoting high-demand career paths to students. The program was created as a response to feedback from the Governor’s Economic and Education Summits, which took place earlier this year. OCC was a host site for one of the summits this fall.
 
The initiative will educate students about associate degree programs, apprenticeships and other training opportunities in these occupations through a network of Michigan community colleges, Michigan Works! agencies, employers, trade unions and chambers of commerce.
 
“OCC’s strengths lie in evaluating and meeting the training needs of employers in our community,” said OCC Chancellor Dr. Timothy R. Meyer. “We want to do everything we can help students achieve their goals while strengthening our local community.”
 
OCC will house “career liaison specialists” who will provide resources to high school counselors, administrators, parents and teachers about post-high school training programs in high-demand occupations.
 
“Today, too few workers have the skills needed to meet the demands of employers in the new economy. One of the most common issues is around the lack of knowledge that high school students have about in-demand careers and training programs,” said Gov. Rick Snyder. “Through the Career Jump Start Program, we will encourage students to consider training opportunities that will provide them with critical work skills for those high-demand careers.”
 
“Talent is the new currency in economic development. By making Michigan students aware of today’s high-demand jobs and the training programs that will prepare them for those jobs, we are ensuring the continued growth of Michigan’s economy,” said Michael A. Finney, president and CEO of the MEDC. “Career Jump Start is focused on meeting employer needs and will support ways to connect employers, educators and students, building Michigan's workforce together.”
 
Career liaisons will be housed at OCC, Alpena Community College, Bay de Noc Community College, Delta College, Grand Rapids Community College, Jackson College, Kalamazoo Valley Community College, Lansing Community College, Mott Community College, North Central Michigan College and The Workforce Intelligence Network.
 
To learn more about the Career Jump Start program, visit http://www.mitalent.org/career-jump-start/ or www.oaklandcc.edu.
 
Pure Michigan is a brand representing business, talent and tourism initiatives across Michigan. These efforts are driven by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, which serves as the state’s marketing arm and lead advocate for business growth, jobs and opportunity with a focus on helping grow Michigan’s economy. 
 
For more on the MEDC and its initiatives, visit: MichiganBusiness.org. For Michigan travel news, updates and information, visit michigan.org.
 
With five campuses throughout Oakland County, OCC is Michigan’s largest community colleges and the 23rd largest in the nation.  OCC offers degrees and certificates in more than 160 fields, including university transfer degrees in business, science and the liberal arts.  Approximately 78,000 undergraduates attend OCC each year.

Brooks Kushman adds staff to keep up with IP work spike

Brooks Kushman has experienced a hiring spike over the last year as the economy has rebounded.

The Southfield-based intellectual-property law firm has hired 17 people over the last year, including 12 new attorneys and five support staff. It has expanded its office space by 7,000 square feet to accommodate the growth. It now has a staff of 177 people, a vast majority of which are housed in 2.5 floors in 1000 Town Center, overlooking the Lodge Freeway.

"As the economy is getting a little better our clients are sending us more work and we need to hire more people to handle it," says Mark Cantor, president of Brooks Kushman.

What makes that statement unique is that intellectual property is pretty steady regardless of the ups and downs of the economy. Cantor says local companies are looking to expand on more intellectual property. While a majority of that work is automotive, it is not just new designs for brakes or gears. Since so much of a vehicle is dependent on software, a lot of that work revolves around new technology, which is making Cantor optimistic for next year.

"I think 2014 will be our best year," Cantor says. "The stars seems to be aligning for us."

Source: Mark Cantor, president of Brooks Kushman
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

TerraYebo aims to license technology to larger clients

Phase 1 for TerraYebo consisted of getting its fundraising software on the market. The second phase is about licensing it.

"We are in Phase 2," says Michele Favoretto, founder & CEO of TerraYebo. "We have launched the technology and we are preparing to license it to larger-scale clients."

The Madison Heights-based startup's principal product is MyInchofTheEarth.com, a micro-funding platform for nonprofits. Users of the software can claim a virtual inch of the earth or ocean. The platform allows the user to share why that place is important and choose a nonprofit that supports the preservation or enhancement of that place. That way the giver's life experience at a certain place, like a university or park, inspires them to give to that institution.

TerraYebo has landed a number of larger nonprofits on its client roster, including Autism Speaks, the National Park Foundation, and The Pink Fund, among others. The startup and its team of five, up one from earlier this year, has steadily been enhancing the software to make it more dynamic for users.

"That allowed us to bring on these larger nonprofits this year," Favoretto says. "We are rolling out new features every two weeks."

TerraYebo has also received another investment from Automation Alley worth $75,000. The startup has raised $650,000 in seed capital, with half of that coming from the Troy-based business accelerator.

Source: Michele Favoretto, founder & CEO of TerraYebo
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

New Billhighway CEO aims to flatten tech firm's structure

When Doug Gregory came on as the new CEO of Billhighway last summer, he had a simple plan: flatten the technology so it can grow faster.

The Troy-based company makes software that helps organizations allocate expenses for everything from dues to dinner costs. It got its start in Vince Thomas’ dorm room at Eastern Michigan University in the 1990s and has hit second stage through his leadership.

But that can only go so far sometimes. Gregory is now working to flatten the company’s leadership structure so employees can be empowered to improve Billhighway and come up with new ideas for the firm.

"We want to be a team-oriented organization," Gregory says. He explains this helps everyone employed at Billhighway determine the company’s direction and motivates them to give their jobs their best performance. "Play fearless," Gregory says. "Don't be afraid to make a mistake."

And that team is growing. Billhighway has hired eight people over the last year, mainly in sales and client services. The company has also developed a career-path program for its employees so their careers can evolve with the company. The firm now employs close to 50 people and two interns. It is also looking to add more interns soon.

Gregory adds that Billhighway has been notching double-digit revenue growth for several years now. It has grown about 200 percent cumulatively over the last five years.

Source: Doug Gregory, CEO of Billhighway
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.
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