Woodward Auto of Pontiac was named the 2011 Best Small Business by the Southeast Michigan Region Michigan Small Business & Technology Development Center (MI-SBTDC) and 2011 Main Street USA Award Winner, thanks in part to its involvement with the Oakland County Business Center.
Woodward Auto and owner John Mihelich will be honored May 3 at the 8th annual “Michigan Celebrates Small Business” awards dinner in Lansing. Michigan Celebrates Small Business is a premier annual program that recognizes entrepreneurs and small business supporters. The Main Street USA Award recognized Woodward Auto for being the best among all the regional winners.
“What a well-deserved honor for John Mihelich, a seasoned business man who always puts his customer first,” said Lola Aré, supervisor of the Oakland County Business Center. “John’s natural ability to treat all his customers special rubs off on his employees and makes for a very profitable and customer-focused business. I thoroughly enjoy working with John and wish him continued success.”
A former auto mechanic, Mihelich started Woodward Auto in 1989 as a small European car dealership and service center. Woodward Auto services any kind of car including fleet and specialty vehicles while operating a full used-car dealership.
Mihelich found out about the SBTDC office in Oakland County through the Small Business Administration (SBA). Mihelich had prior experience with the county’s SBA 504 loan program and needed assistance with his business expansion. Mihelich worked with Chris Olzem, an Oakland County SBTDC finance and strategy specialist. Olzem compared Woodward Auto’s financials against industry averages, looked for areas of growth, and developed a business plan for the company.
Mihelich also worked with Aré to develop new marketing strategies. Mihelich participated in the Venture Forward program and the Five Keys to Fiscal Fitness workshop with consultant Patricia Salo. Woodward Auto secured more than $350,000 to expand its business, opening a second Oakland County location in February.
Oakland County Venture Forward is an intensive, 11-week program designed for owners, CEOs and top management of businesses operating for at least two years. Focused on issues most important to business health and growth, attendees gain knowledge to make critical decisions about their business and strategy, investigate next-stage growth and opportunity, plan for strategic growth, build and maintain a competitive advantage and maximize cash flow for profitability.
The next Venture Forward session begins April 13 in Waterford. For pre-registration and location specifics, visit www.oakgov.com/peds/calendar or call (248) 858-0783.
For more information about Michigan Celebrates Small Business, see www.michigancelebrates.biz. For more information about the Oakland County Business Center, see GlobalOakland.com.