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Innovation & Job News

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Report: Troy one of the best small cities to start a business


Nerwallet.com recently named Troy, Mich. the fourth best small U.S. city to start a business in.

The list looked at 463 cities with populations of 50,000 to 100,000 people.

Read more.

Gerry Weinberg & Associates consolidates growing staff into larger office

Gerry Weinberg & Associates is consolidating its home office in Southfield, going from two suites in the office building at 29201 Telegraph Rd. to one larger one.

"Now we are all in one suite," says Alana Nicol, president of Gerry Weinberg & Associates. "It's a much better layout for our offices."

Gerry Weinberg & Associates, a Sandler Training Business company, provides executive sales, management, and leadership training. The 22-year-old firm employs a staff of five an intern. It is looking to hire a sales associate right now.

The company moved to the larger office because it offered a better layout without making a major move to a new home. It was also a time to refresh its surroundings by investing in its home environment.

"We are positioned for growth over the next few years," Nicol says. "Sometimes you need to make investments like this to make it work."

The company hopes to add to its growth curve over the next few years, expanding its bottom line and adding staff.

"I would like to see us grow 15 percent over the next two years," Nicol says.

Source: Alana Nicol, president of Gerry Weinberg & Associates
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Triune Specialty Trailers grows through client diversity

Triune Speciality Trailers relied on a select number of clients for revenue during most of its first decade in business. More recently, the Madison Heights-based firm made a conscious effort to expand its clientele, which has resulted in it tripling in size over the last three years.
"We have a much more diverse client base that we used to have," says Harry Kurtz, president & CEO of Triune Specialty Trailers. "We also have a lot of business in Canada, which is exciting to us."

The 10-year-old company specializes in making state-of-the-art specialty trailers. It products now include designing and building trailers for mobile marketing, educational outreach, and custom trailers.

Triune Specialty Trailers' growth has allowed it to hire three people over the last year, expanding its staff to 15 employees and an intern. Its new hires include a couple of office administration workers and a welder.

"We would hire more if we could find more welders," Kurtz says.

One of Triune Specialty Trailers’ biggest successes over the last year is its Fab Lab mobile education and training vehicle. The Fab Lab is a mobile training classroom for training students in high-tech machining careers, such as computer numerical controlled programmers. Triune Specialty Trailers designed and created the Fab Lab for the Northern Lakes Economic Alliance and North Central Michigan College to help create more skilled professionals to fill openings for skilled machinist positions.

"It's a big issue, especially in Michigan," Kurtz says.

Source: Harry Kurtz, president & CEO of Triune Specialty Trailers
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

More MSU medical students heading to Southfield


Michigan State University will expand one of its two medical schools to Southfield, teaming up with Providence-Providence Park Hospital to train up to 60 third- and fourth-year students each year, the school announced.

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Wixom's Kiekert AG to produce brake system for car doors


Kiekert AG, a global developer of vehicle locking systems with its U.S. headquarters in Wixom, plans to introduce an innovative brake system that will prevent car doors from bumping into parked cars, garage walls, or other obstacles.

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Marketing firm heading to Southfield, adding 50 jobs


Digital marketing firm, HelloWorld, is moving its headquarters from Pleasant Ridge to Southfield in October -- and plans to hire about 50 new workers.

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How Secure-24 treats employees like royalty, still cashes in


Secure-24 has an impressive 98.85 percent customer-satisfaction rate with the more than 180 clients they serve on a daily basis. But the satisfaction rate the Southfield-based company has with its own employees is even higher.

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Grant will help integrate liberal arts into engineering at LTU

Lawrence Technological University and four other members of the Association of Independent Technological Universities (AITU) have been awarded a three-year, $398,000 grant from the Teagle Foundation in New York City to integrate liberal arts into engineering curricula.

As an outgrowth of a previous planning project, the AITU members will be the first to embark on an implementation strategy under the Teagle Foundation’s “Liberal Arts in the Professions” initiative. 

The grant will be administered by the Rochester Institute of Technology. The other participating AITU members are Harvey Mudd College, the Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering, and the Worchester Polytechnic Institute.

The three-year grant project will develop and implement curricula for a “liberal-arts focused” Grand Challenge Scholars Program (GCSP), which is sponsored by the National Academy of Engineering. The program attempts to focus undergraduate engineer training on 14 of the most important engineering challenges facing contemporary society, such as carbon sequestration, modernizing urban infrastructure, and engineering brain functions. The GCSP was featured by President Barack Obama during the 2015 White House Science Fair in March.

“It is a privilege to work with other leading engineering schools around the country to develop new approaches to engineering education that will better prepare our graduates to take leadership roles in their careers,” said LTU Provost Maria Vaz.

Associate Professor Jason Barrett, chair of LTU’s Department of Humanities, Social Sciences, and Communication, will serve as LTU’s principal investigator on the project. Jerry LeCarpentier, director of Lawrence Tech’s biomedical engineering program, will coordinate the program for LTU’s College of Engineering. Dean of Arts and Sciences Hsiao-Ping Moore also worked with Dean of Engineering Nabil Grace and his department chairs in setting up parameters for the program.

One goal of the GCSP is to produce engineering graduates who are prepared and motivated to address the most challenging problems facing the world and the nation. The National Academy of Engineering also seeks to introduce innovative educational approaches that will eventually become the mainstream educational paradigm for all engineering students.

The New York City-based Teagle Foundation works to support and strengthen higher education, acting as a catalyst for improvements in teaching and learning in the arts and sciences. It was established in 1944 by Walter C. Teagle, longtime president and later chairman of Standard Oil Company (New Jersey), now Exxon Mobil.

For more information about the GCSP program, go to:

Boutique PR firm, Identity, grows thanks to creative vision and streamline operations

Identity, a boutique public relations firm, has always prided itself on its grand creative visions for clients. Now the Bingham Farms-based company can brag about streamline operations that help transform those visions into reality.

"We have put processes in place that help us to be the best agency we can be," says Mark Winter, founder & partner of Identity. "We call it the identity way. It has created a framework that will allow us to get to the next level."

The 17-year-old company has grow its revenue by 20 percent over the last year and is aiming to hit 30 percent growth this year. That has allowed it to hired five people in graphic design, media relations, and social media community management. Identity currently has a staff of 25 employees and an intern.

"We're always looking," Winter says. "We're opportunistic with our hiring."

That growth is coming from a diverse set of revenue streams. About a third of its growth comes from increased work from existing business, a third comes from referrals, and a third from request for proposals. Its clients span a wide variety of industries and region, and no one client supplies a large percentage of the firm’s revenue.

"We are extremely diversified in terms of clients," Winter says.

Source: Mark Winter, founder & partner of Identity
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Great Lakes Angels elects new president to lead investment group

Great Lakes Angels, a metro Detroit angel investor group, has new president in Pietro Sarcina.

David Weaver founded Great Lakes Angels and served as its president for years. He is stepping aside to serve as chairman and founder of the organization. Sarcina has made a career as an international banker and is looking forward to the challenge of running Great Lakes Angels.

"I have always been interested in entrepreneurs and startups,' says Sarcina. "I was a CFO at a fast-growing startup 20 years ago."

Great Lakes Angels is a organization made up of angel investors, high-net-worth individuals who make investments in small businesses that can scale. Often times that means investing tens of thousands of dollars into early stage tech startups with hopes of locking in a exponential return.

Great Lakes Angels looks to do this by recruiting new people with deep pockets into the local investing community. It will offer them training in how to make angel investments, recognize which ones would work best for them, and evaluate real value in these startups. The organization is also looking to make more inroads with local research universities with the idea of helping turn the research they produce into new economy businesses.

"We like to say we’re building Great Lakes Angels 2.0," Sarcina says.

Source: Pietro Sarcina, president of Great Lakes Angels
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

JVS launches eCycle Opportunities to create low-barrier jobs

JVS is launching a electronic recycling department called eCycle Opportunities. The new operation will focus on harvesting recyclable materials from everyday electronics and employing people facing numerous challenges when it comes to entering the everyday workforce.

"These jobs will be filled by people with significant disabilities or face barriers to employment," says Stacey Lareau, director of new business development for JVS.

The Southfield-based nonprofit provides services for workforce development, youth services, affordable housing, and financial education. It will celebrate its 75th birthday next year and currently employs about 300 people.

The eCycle Opportunities department already employs three people and Lareau expects that number to hit 10 by the end of the year. Those workers will be harvesting precious metals and other raw materials from pieces of electronics like mobile devices and laptops. JVS is already talking to 10 different local companies that would supply them with old electronics in need of recycling.

JVS also has a pipeline of people Lareau and her team see as prime candidates for jobs with eCycle Opportunities.

"We want to have a diverse workforce," Lareau says. "JVS has programming that supports these people. We work with this demographic a lot."

Source: Stacey Lareau, director of new business development for JVS
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

OU INC earns international designation for helping companies enter U.S. market

The Oakland University Incubator (OU INC) has been recognized for helping foreign companies do business in the United States. The National Business Incubation Association recently added OU INC to its list of approved Soft Landings programs, a designation held by just 17 business incubators in the United States and 12 business incubators internationally. The NBIA is the world's largest association of business incubation professionals, with more than 900 member organizations. 

OU INC received its designation from the NBIA in April of 2015. As an NBIA member, OU INC met the required qualifications based on its ability to successfully serve foreign business clients. Some of the services OU INC offers to foreign clients include: experienced staff to assist foreign companies both on a technical and business growth basis; a large network of partners that specialize in the types of assistance that are unique to foreign companies establishing a U.S. presence; access to faculty and student resources to assist the companies; access to funding tools as they apply to the companies; and affordable space and logistical support for business and technology development. OU INC Executive Director Amy Butler participates regularly in foreign trade missions with key partners to meet with companies interested in locating in Michigan and those that may want to partner with local companies looking to export. She recently joined Michigan’s Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley and Automation Alley in a trade mission to Chile and Columbia. 

“This designation is a significant achievement for OU INC, the University and its strategic partners, including the State of Michigan, Oakland County and the City of Rochester Hills,” Butler said. “It recognizes the success OU INC has achieved in assisting international companies to successfully establish business in the U.S. and Michigan. Bringing in international companies brings new innovation and supply chain solutions to Michigan business and creates opportunity for our students to learn about the global economy.” 

“As an international organization, we feel passionate about facilitating the connection between companies seeking to do business in another country with organizations that have the right entrepreneurial support programs to help them succeed,” said Kirstie Chadwick, President and CEO of NBIA. “OU INC has demonstrated its ability to service foreign entrepreneurs domestically through a strong offering of international business support programs. We are pleased to award them the Soft Landings designation.”

NBIA’s Soft Landings International Incubator designations are effective for two years.

The National Business Incubation Association (NBIA) is an international non-profit organization and global advocate for incubators, accelerators, educational institutions and regional economic development stakeholders. With more than 2,200 members in over 60 nations, the NBIA provides its members with essential information, education, advocacy and networking resources to bring excellence to the process of assisting early-stage companies succeed. Visit www.nbia.org to learn more.
OU INC is a SmartZone Business Accelerator, in collaboration with the City of Rochester Hills, Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), and various industry partners. With a focus on the energy, medical device, and information technology sectors, OU INC provides entrepreneurial resources and strategic business solutions for developing business ventures and accelerating ideas to market.

Booming craft beer industry means growth for Lake Orion's Craftwerk Brewing Systems

Craftwerk Brewing Systems got its start four years ago with the idea of supplying the equipment for the rapidly growing craft brewing movement in Michigan. Since then, the Lake Orion-based business has grown into a national brand.

"We have equipment in something like 20 states," says Tark Heine, managing director of Craftwerk Brewing Systems.

Heine got his start in craft brewing in mid-Michigan in 1989 when he began working for the Frankenmuth Brewery. He worked in management there until 2006 and struck out on his own in the industry a few years later.

"What really got me into fabrication was building the Frankenmuth Brewery," Heine says.

Craftwerk Brewing Systems manufactures high-quality, Michigan-made brewing equipment that now can be found in breweries throughout the state, including Motor City Brewing Works, Short's Brewing Co, and Founders Brewing Co., as well around the country. The company offers design, engineering, fabrication, and installation services for brewers from coast to coast.

"We can do a turn-key brewery for you," Heine says. Locally, Craftwerk built Birmingham's Griffin Claw Brewing Co. from the ground up.

The company has doubled its revenue over the last year, allowing it to grow its team to 95 people, including eight hires over the last year. Of its current staff, 88 are fabricators.

"The biggest problem we have is finding and training the fabricators," Heine says.

The rapid expansion of craft breweries and similar outfits (distillers and meade makers), both in Michigan and across the U.S., has left Heine bullish about his company’s prospects.

"The market is not slowing down," Heine says.

Source: Tark Heine, managing director of Craftwerk Brewing Systems
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Bmax USA preps to launch new facility in Pontiac

Bmax USA, a subsidiary of a French tech company called I-Pulse, is setting up its North American presence in Pontiac this year.

The global corporation specializes in technology for metal processing that can be utilized by a variety of industries, such as automotive, energy, aerospace, and packaging. It plans to invest $4.3 million into creating a new facility in Pontiac.

"We considered a number of sites, including Columbus, but decided to go with metro Detroit as we have a potential customer base in the region as well as a large catchment area for the engineering, business, and technical staff we will need," says Paul Lester, director of business development for Bmax USA. "We looked at Wayne, Macomb and Oakland counties and decided upon Oakland County, which has been incredibly supportive and given us many resources to help our start up and continues to do so."

The investment, which comes with a $250,000 grant from the state of Michigan, is expected to create 26 jobs. The firm expects to create those jobs, and probably more, over the next three years.

"I expect to get to that number very much quicker," Lester says.

Work on the next facility at 777 Enterprise Dr. is about to begin. Lester expects the work to wrap up later this year and the firm to begin moving into its new home by late July.

"We will be finalizing the legal paperwork in the next couple of weeks and some remodeling will take place immediately," Lester says.

Source: Paul Lester, director of business development for Bmax USA
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Troy-based iDashboards hires 30 on heels of global expansion

Troy-based tech firm iDashboards is enjoying rapid growth as the firm's global expansion gains traction.

IDashboards creates business intelligence dashboard software with real-time results. The interactive computer dashboards for businesses analyze, track, and organize data into easily useable parts that help streamline a company and enable it to grow faster.
The 12-year-old firm spent its first decade establishing its product in North America. In recent years, it has expanded internationally, adding customers in dozens of countries and a recently opening an office in Germany. iDashboards is planning to open another office in the United Kingdom later this year.

"It's a big world out there," says Shadan Malik, president & CEO of iDashboards. "We have software that is pretty unique. We have customers in 40 countries. That speaks for itself."

IDashboards' revenue grew 18 percent last year, and the company is aiming to spike it by as much as 50 percent this year. That's possible because of its diversified customer base and its efforts to grow globally have gone quite well so far this year.

iDashboards has hired 30 people over the last year, expanding its staff to 90 employees and three interns. It is also looking to hire four more people.

"We just hired five people yesterday," Malik says.

Source: Shadan Malik, president & CEO of iDashboards
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.
1104 Articles | Page: | Show All
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