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Valeo awarded 2014 top employer certification in the United States

Valeo is proud to announce it has been certified by the Top Employer Institute as a 2014 Top Employer in the United States. The award was presented to Valeo North America President Françoise Colpron and Valeo United States Human Resources Director Dennis Clark, at a special ceremony held on March 20, 2014 at the company’s North American headquarters in Troy, Mich.
“This certification recognizes our human resources management strategy, which supports our objective to be an Employer of Choice in North America”, said Valeo North America President Ms. Françoise Colpron. “We strive to provide our team members with a diverse, inclusive and well-balanced place to work.”
Top Employer certification is awarded to organizations meeting the highest standards in human resources management based on criteria, such as benefits and working conditions, training and skills development, career development and culture management. Valeo United States joins Valeo’s European and Asian operations as 2014 Top Employers.
Valeo's Human Resources policy is based on the Group’s culture, forged around operational excellence and a set of shared values: ethics, transparency, empowerment, professionalism, teamwork and well-being at work.
“Valeo encourages creative thinking and-risk taking to improve our product and business solutions and processes,” said Valeo United States Human Resources Director Dennis Clark. “This approach allows us to continue to innovate and grow.”
With a clear, ambitious strategic vision, Valeo has more than doubled its United States employment between 2010 and 2013 and plans to hire more than 160 engineers in the country this year.
“Valeo has a world-class Human Resources toolbox that allows team members to develop to their full potential”, said Valeo United States Human Resources Director Dennis Clark. “This certification will strengthen our ability to hire and retain a highly qualified and diverse workforce.”
About Top Employer
The Top Employers Institute globally certifies excellence in the conditions that employers create for their people since 1991. The Institute identifies and certifies the companies which ensure optimal employee conditions, where people can develop themselves personally and professionally.
For more information visit: www.top-employers.com/
Valeo is an independent industrial Group fully focused on the design, production and sale of components, integrated systems and modules for the automotive industry, mainly for CO2 emissions reduction and intuitive driving.  Valeo ranks among the world's top automotive suppliers.  The Group has 124 plants, 16 Research centers, 35 Development centers and 12 distribution platforms and employs 74,800 people in 29 countries.  In 2013, Valeo generated revenue of €12.1 billion ($16.09 billion*).
In North America, Valeo’s regional headquarters are located in Troy, Mich., and the company has 16 production sites and seven research and development centers.  The company employs 9,965** people across the United States (3,163) and Mexico (6,802) and was responsible for 19 percent of the Group’s 2013 global annual original equipment sales, contributing €1.949 billion ($2.59 billion*).
The company’s innovative solutions are developed by four business groups - Powertrain Systems, Thermal Systems, Comfort and Driving Assistance Systems and Visibility Systems.  Valeo’s key products support and advance automotive electrical systems; transmission systems; engine management systems; air management systems; hybrid and electric vehicle systems; climate control; powertrain thermal systems; compressors; front-end modules; driving assistance; interior controls; interior electronics; lighting systems; wiper systems; and, wiper motors.
More information about the Valeo Group and its activities can be found on the Internet at www.valeo.com.

IT firm Red Level Networks grows sales 30%, adds 9 jobs in Novi

Last year was one of those years the folks at Red Level Networks will remember for a while, and for all the right reasons.

"We had a great year in 2013," says David King, president of Red Level Networks. "It was one of our biggest growth years in a while."

The Novi-based IT firm grew its revenue by 30 percent and added 48 new clients. Those new customers are in the manufacturing, finance and healthcare industries, among others.

"They're across all industries," King says. "Word gets around when you're good."

Red Level Networks has hired nine people in sales and marketing over the last year. It now has a staff of 32 employees. It is looking to add a few summer interns and hire four more people for data center engineering, help desk and administrative staff.

"We expect to expand our service offerings and staff," King says. "We want to have a staff of 40-50 people within the next 1-2 years."

Source: David King, president of Red Level Networks
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Broder & Sachse expands on strength of multi-family biz

Broder & Sachse Real Estate Services experienced a significant spike in growth in 2013, thanks in large part to company’s growth in multi-family sector.

The downtown Birmingham-based firm has hired 50 people over the last year, taking its staff to 150 employees and a few summer interns.

"We have grown dramatically," says John Hamburger, president of Broder & Sachse Real Estate Services.

The 20-year-old firm, it moved to Birmingham 10 years ago, offers a broad range of real-estate services, including construction and management of commercial, multifamily residential and industrial properties. It has a portfolio of 116 properties and 11 million square feet of space.

Broder & Sachse Real Estate Services’ leadership decided to focus more on multi-family residential projects n 2003. It watched that sector grow the next five years until the bottom fell out of the economy in 2008.

"In 2012 and 2013 the lending channels opened up," Hamburger says. "We started renovating and managing more properties."

The firm now manages 6,000 rental units across the U.S. It expects to expand that number to at least 8,000 and perhaps as high as 10,000 by the end of this year.

Source: John Hamburger, president of Broder & Sachse Real Estate Services
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Oakland Energy & Water Ventures fund launches in Farmington Hills

A new second-stage investment fund is launching in Farmington Hills. Oakland Energy & Water Ventures will specialize in making investments in the clean energy and water spaces.

"We look at opportunities up to $100 million," says Chris Brower, managing director of Oakland Energy & Water Ventures.

Brower adds that the fund, which is made up of three partners, is flexible when it comes to what type of deals it is looking to do. Among them are joint ventures, partnerships, license agreements, and collaborations. The main things Oakland Energy & Water Ventures is looking for are patented technologies that are ready to scale.

"We're a bit more simplistic," Brower says. "We're looking for proof-of-concept technologies. That is our focus."

Brower says there are a couple of potential deals in the works but the firm isn’t ready to make an announcement yet. He adds that the company is focusing on clean energy and water plays because of global macro trends that are spiking demand for both clean energy and water to accommodate the growing world population.

Source: Chris Brower, managing director of Oakland Energy & Water Ventures
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Innovative Learning Group celebrates 10 years this month

Most businesses don't live to see three years. Many more don't make it to five years. Innovative Learning Group is celebrating birthday No. 10 this month.

The downtown Royal Oak-based firm doesn’t dwell on what has changed over the last decade. Its team of 13 people focus on what has stayed the same in that time: "Our great culture and focus on clients," says Lisa Toenniges, CEO of Innovative Learning Group. "What happened over the last 10 years is we managed to keep pace with technology as it changed."

Innovative Learning Group is a business consultancy that specializes in training and human performance improvement for businesses. It develops learning strategies, curriculum architectures, and implements/evaluates these learning solutions. The firm has done this primarily with digital solutions and it is pivoting its services more toward the mobile realm in 2014.

"What we always care about is steady, profitable growth," Toenniges says. "We aim for 15 percent year over year."

That has allowed Innovative Learning Group to hire two people in January. Those new jobs are in performance consulting and media development.

"Over the coming year we will probably hire several people," Toenniges says.

Source: Lisa Toenniges, CEO of Innovative Learning Group
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

DTE, Denso, Valeo among employers seeking talent at upcoming ESD job fair

The Engineering Society of Detroit will hold an Engineering and Technology Job Fair on April 7 at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi.

Read more

Water Works Theatre Company announces auditions

Water Works Theatre Company announces that auditions for its 14th season of Shakespeare In The Park in Royal Oak's Starr Jaycee Park will take place March 24 & 25. This season, Water Works will present Hamlet July 31 - August 10 as the festival's main stage performance. For its popular daylight family show, the theatre company will present The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) (Revised) by Adam Long, Daniel Singer, and Jess Winfield, August 2-10.

Auditions for Hamlet and The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) (Revised) will take place March 24 & 25 at Royal Oak First United Methodist Church 320 W. Seventh Street Royal Oak. Audition times will be scheduled between 6:00 pm and 10:00 pm both days. Interested actors should request an audition appointment by emailing waterworksbackstage@earthlink.net or calling (248) 399-3727. To audition, actors must prepare two contrasting monologues, one Shakespeare, and one comedic contemporary piece, lasting no longer than 4 minutes total. When calling or emailing for an appointment, actors should include their name, the date and time of their preferred slot, and an email address and phone number to be contacted with a confirmed appointment.

Hamlet will be directed by Water Works founder and executive director Ed Nahhat. The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) (Revised) will be directed by Water Works Artistic Director Sara Wolf Molnar. Both shows are open to Actors' Equity and Non Equity performers. All roles are available with the exception of Laertes and Ophelia in Hamlet. Equity members will work under a special appearance contract and non-equity actors will be paid a small stipend.
Since 2001 Water Works has presented Shakespeare in the Park in Royal Oak and other award-winning productions. Water Works enhances the quality of life in the community by offering Michigan's only outdoor professional Shakespeare event in Royal Oak's Starr Jaycee Park. Water Works' mission is to provide a place to call home for local professional actors, designers, directors, teachers, and other artists in a dynamic collaboration with skilled professional volunteers and other community supporters. Learn more at: www.waterworkstheatre.com.

GardenHoard plants future in heirloom seeds

Gardening has been a favorite pastime for Katie Flickinger's family for quite a while, so it's little wonder the fresh Central Michigan University graduate is turning that passion into a business.

Flickinger has recently started GardenHoard, an online company that sells heirloom seeds for a variety of fruits, vegetables, flowers and herbs. It offers more than 800 varieties of vegetation.

"It started out as a hobby but became a business," Flickinger says.

She leveraged the help of Blackstone LaunchPad’s entrepreneurial services at Walsh College's Troy campus. That helped her spike GardenHoard's revenues by 250 percent last year. She has already grown her revenues another 100 percent for this growing season.

"Every year we are improving and getting more sales," Flickinger says.

The Livonia resident now utilizes six community gardens across the region to get her stock. She and her husband are now looking to move to a house with five acres so they can bring all of their business under one roof.

Source: Katie Flickinger, owner of GardenHoard
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Re-Source Partners expands IT biz with 5 new jobs

Re-Source Partners grew its IT business by double digits last year and has high hopes of doubling that growth in 2014.

The Troy-based firm experienced a 10-percent increase in its revenues in 2013. That allowed it to hire five people, and it’s looking to hire a few more right now. It currently employs a staff of 30 people and the occasional intern.

"The growth of the team we have in regards to industry stature gives us the calling card to get in with big customers and make the sweeping changes that need to happen," says Matt Loria, vice president of Re-Source Partners.

Re-Source Partners provides full-service IT asset management and managed IT logistics services. It helps companies smooth out the IT back end of their operations. Financial firms have been utilizing its services more and more in recent months.

"It's in the space where finance meets IT," Loria says. "That has been our biggest growth area."

Which is why Loria is optimistic about 2014. He thinks a spike in revenue of 25 percent is possible for this year.

Source: Matt Loria, vice president of Re-Source Partners
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Basso Design Group doubles work space in Troy

Basso Design Group is moving on up in the world, or at least in Troy.

The 11-year-old digital marketing agency is moving into a new office this week. The 3,000-square-foot space is twice the size of its previous office, which will help accommodate the firm's growing staff.

Basso Design Group has hired three people over the last year: a website developer, sales professional and a creative director. It now employs a staff of 15 people. The agency is looking for summer interns. It is also looking to hire two people now for website development and website design.

"We have landed some pretty significant clients over the last year," says Dan Santonocito, managing partner with Basso Design Group. "Everyone from Michigan State University to Wayne State University to Michigan First Credit Union to Hansons."

The Troy-based firm handles a wide variety of digital marketing services, including website building, social media, search engine optimization and mobile app development. It is looking to get into developing mobile apps and responsive web design this year as it looks to continue growing its revenue at a double-digit clip.

"We steadily grow between 20-30 percent a year," Santonocito says. "Every year has been our best year so far."

Source: Dan Santonocito, managing partner with Basso Design Group
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

RazorThreat makes security software more interactive

RazorThreat recently added a new member to its executive ranks. It's an addition the digital security firm hopes will pay some big dividends in 2014.

The downtown Pontiac-based firm brought on Deane Tierney to serve as vice president of strategic accounts last month. Tierney previously worked as a channel account manager for Symantec Corp (a NASDAQ tech firm) where he grew reseller relationships. RazorThreat hopes its new employees will help connect the firm’s software platform with Symantec's.

"There is a really good alignment between our product and Symantec's product line," says Greg Guidice, president & CEO of RazorThreat.

The 4-year-old firm has also been working on fleshing out its own software platform, which provides digital security assessments and monitoring. Before the platform provided a few pages of reports. Now the firm is offering a more comprehensive package that includes meetings with its professionals and its clients as needed.

"It's so much more interactive," Guidice says. "Everything the product does is about visibility, context and action."

Source: Greg Guidice, president & CEO of RazorThreat
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Automation Alley opens Product Lifecycle Management Center at Oakland University

Automation Alley, Michigan’s largest technology business association, announced the opening of the Automation Alley Product Lifecycle Management Center at Oakland University, Feb. 20, at an exclusive event attended by media and technology business leaders from across the region. 

The center will address the tremendous need in Southeast Michigan for affordable training and certification of local employees, students and individuals in product lifecycle management (PLM).

Located inside OU INC, a SmartZone business accelerator on the campus of Oakland University, the Automation Alley Product Lifecycle Management Center – in partnership with Siemens, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, Geometric Solutions, solidThinking, Inc. and Oakland University's School of Engineering and Computer Science – will offer affordable training and PLM certification using cutting-edge equipment and software, including computer-aided design (CAD), computer aided engineering (CAE) and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM), as well as other state-of-the-art PLM technologies including digital factory simulation, 3-D scanning and 3-D printing. 

In addition, the center will help to grow the talent pipeline for Michigan’s small to medium-sized manufacturers. A consulting and technical services program will help companies move from traditional design and manufacturing methods to the latest in digital processes. And a matching program will create an education pipeline, pairing job seekers and students trained in PLM with local manufacturing companies interested in hiring interns and employees.

PLM is the process of managing the lifecycle of a product from its conception and design, through manufacture, to service and disposal. It integrates people, data, processes and business systems and is a vital process for all digital design and manufacturing of the future. PLM technologies can improve and optimize a company’s productivity and methodologies by making complex processes more cohesive, streamlined and simplified. In doing so, a higher quality product can be brought to market faster and at a less expensive price point, creating less waste and generating higher profits for major manufacturing industries. 

The Automation Alley Product Lifecycle Management Center is located at One Golfview Lane, Rochester, MI 48309. To learn more about the center, contact Automation Alley Product Lifecycle Management Center Director Alex Violassi at (248) 648-4701 or violassia@automationalley.com

About Automation Alley
Automation Alley is a technology business association and business accelerator dedicated to growing the economy of Southeast Michigan and enhancing the region’s reputation around the world. Automation Alley offers talent and business development programs and services to tech-focused businesses of all sizes — from startups to large corporations — to help them grow and prosper. For more information, visit automationalley.com.

About OU INC
OU INC is a SmartZone Business Accelerator, in collaboration with the City of Rochester Hills, Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), and various industry partners. 

OU INC’s focus is in the Energy, Medical Device, and Information Technology sectors. We provide entrepreneurial resources and strategic business solutions for developing business ventures and accelerating ideas to market. OU INC fosters a healthy environment for the growth of new start-up companies, and provides support for existing entities through its facility and business development resources.

LTU team named second fastest in Canadian concrete toboggan race

Lawrence Tech’s first foray into Canada to compete in the Great Northern Concrete Toboggan Race (GNCTR) proved to be memorable as the rookie team brought home three awards and the bragging rights as the world’s second fastest concrete toboggan.

Canadian universities have been competing in the GNCTR since 1975. A few American teams have competed in the past, but LTU was the only entry this year from south of the border. This year’s competition was hosted by Western University in London, Ont., Jan. 29 to Feb. 2.
Teams designed and constructed a safety superstructure, skis entirely composed of concrete, a steering system, and a braking system to safely transport five people. The weight limit was 300 lbs., and LTU’s toboggan, named “Made in Michigan,” was one of the lightest at 220 lbs.

The LTU team faced a major challenge on its first run in the Giant Slalom, a 400-foot Black Diamond run with three gates. “Made in Michigan” passed through each gate without a hitch, finished in 8.55 seconds, and reached a top speed of 40 km/hr or 24.8 mph – the second highest speed of the entire competition behind the University of British Columbia at Okanagan, which reached 42 km/hr.  That performance also earned LTU the award for the Most Spectacular Run.

LTU did well in the Drag Strip, a straight run, with a time of 12.61 seconds. It did well in the King of the Hill Races by beating Royal Military College of Canada, the University of Manitoba, and University of Waterloo, but failed to make it to the finals because of an infraction.

LTU also took home the awards for Best Rookie Team and Best Steering Performance.

The overall winner of the competition was the University of Alberta, which assembled more than 30 people at the podium to accept the trophy.

In contrast, “Made in Michigan” had just nine student team members: Captain Felicia Koch, Jordan Britz, Yat Hui, Ryan Woloszyk, Kimberly Klieber, Jared King, Carlos Penaranda, Chris Bragg and Travis Ferrier.

“Overall, it was an exciting and amazing experience, and we can’t wait for next year,” Koch said. “We got to meet so many amazing engineering students from all across Canada.”

The LTU team was sponsored by Walbridge, Mannik Smith Group, Lafarge, OHM, LTU Dean of Engineering Nabil Grace, and LTU President Emeritus Richard Marburger.

Gongos hires 19 new employees in Auburn Hills

The leadership of a medium-to-large-size firm always says the business will soldier on and continue to grow just as it did before if it loses a key member (think founder or CEO) of its team. Following through on those statements is not easily done. Gongos is getting the job done.

The Auburn Hills-based market research firm lost its founder, John Gongos, suddenly to an illness a little more than a year ago. The company notched more than 20 straight years of steady growth on his watch, and it has continued to do that since. Gongos just booked its 23rd straight year of strong growth in 2013, spiking its revenue by 12 percent. Camille Nicita, president & CEO of Gongos, credits the team John Gongos assembled around him when he built the company.

"He relied heavily on the people around him," Nicita says. "He wasn't the end-all-be-all type of person."

Gongos has also grown its staff by 15 percent over the last year. It has hired 19 people since January of 2013 and now employs 125 full-time staffers and one intern.

"We're really hiring across the board because we're growing so rapidly," Nicita says. "Our goal as a company is not to be big, but to be great."

Nicita oversaw the combining of Gongos Research and O2 Integrated into the singular Gongos brand last year. The company is now working to move from solely market research to what Nicita and her team are coining the "decision intelligence space" that leverages traditional market research and data analytics that come from both Gongos overall research and from each customer.

This evolution is part of what makes Gongos a "living and breathing" thing that bases most of its ability on the combined vision of its workforce.

"We're trying to hire people who believe in the vision of this company as much as we do," Nicita says.

Source: Camille Nicita, president & CEO of Gongos
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

The Dobrusin Law Firm pivots to focus on IP law practice

The Dobrusin Law Firm is growing after pivoting its business plan and focusing solely on intellectual property creation.

The downtown Pontiac-based practice focused on both intellectual property creation and litigation since its creation in 1999. A shakeup in the firm's leadership a year ago allowed it to drop the litigation aspect and focus on helping companies and entrepreneurs patent, trademark and copyright their innovations.

The Dobrusin Law Firm now helps these ventures file for the patent, handle the back-and-forth bureaucracy and land the rights to their intellectual property. That new business strategy has allowed the practice to hire two people over the last year to expand its staff to 20 employees.

The firm services a wide range of clientele. It started out serving primarily automotive and manufacturing firms but it is now handling work for companies across the country working on medical devices, packaging and chemicals.

"We want to broaden our client base in the chemical and medical device areas," says Kristen Pursley, managing partner of The Dobrusin Law Firm. "We think these sectors have a lot of room for growth."

Source: Kristen Pursley, managing partner of The Dobrusin Law Firm
Writer: Jon Zemke

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