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Walsh College launches online program for aspiring entrepreneurs

Walsh College has always prided itself on being a friend of small business through education, but now its Troy campus is trying to make that help easier to access.

The Walsh Institute is debuting its new Business Launch program, an online guide focused on helping aspiring entrepreneurs to turn their business dreams into reality.

"We took everything we do and centralized it," says Tara R Miceli, director of Walsh Institute. "We put it online and put it out there."

Business Launch can walk budding businesspersons through the steps of growing their ideas and give them access to Walsh College's resources, mentors and faculty. The idea is to streamline the business-creation process so new entrepreneurs go through less of a learning curve.

It costs $195 per idea to use the program, which includes filling out a questionnaire and receiving customized feedback. Users of the program will have access to a variety of business resources, including articles, blogs and case studies featuring small- and family-owned business success stories.

"It just makes more sense," Miceli says. "We want to give the real-time answers to what a business needs at that time."

Source: Tara R Miceli, director of Walsh Institute
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Carbon Media Group hires 30, expands outdoor-related digital content focus

Carbon Media Group is not trying to keep its growth slow and steady. The digital media firm is in the midst of taking a couple of big steps forward.

The Bingham Farms-based company has hired 30 people since the beginning of 2013, more than doubling its staff to 56 employees. It is looking to add some interns this summer. Many of the new jobs included positions in software development, account management, business development, sales, content writing and editing.

"We're getting ready for a big growth year in 2014," says Hyaat Chaudhary, CEO of Carbon Media Group.

For most of its first seven years, Carbon Media Group focused on digital advertising. Think banner ads, aimed at outdoors enthusiasts. It has since expanded its scope to include agriculture and action sports, like snowboarding or rock climbing. It is now working to become the largest digital content producer for the outdoor sporting world.

"It's really a growth in the breadth of the business," Chaudhary says.

Carbon Media Group now helps coordinate advertising and content creation for more than 600 websites for fans of the outdoors, agriculture and action sports/events/activities. It also has an extensive network of outdoor-related YouTube channels and its own CarbonTV outlet for online videos about the outdoors.

That expansion has allowed Carbon Media Group to grow its revenue by 33 percent in 2013. It is on track to hit its goal of 60-percent revenue growth this year, an expansion that should allow the firm to continuing hiring at a brisk pace.

Source: Hyaat Chaudhary, CEO of Carbon Media Group
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Warner Norcross & Judd staffs up IP practice in Southfield

Intellectual property work is becoming a bigger part of Warner Norcross & Judd's law practice in Southfield.

The Grand Rapids-based law firm, the third-largest in the state, has had a sizable office in Southfield for the last decade. That office has handled mostly business law work, such as contract work.

It is growing the Southfield office with the addition of a handful of new intellectual property attorneys. It has hired three over the last eight months, bringing the Southfield office’s number of attorneys to 35.

"It looks like we will bring two more on board in the next month or so," says Greg DeGrazia, intellectual property attorney for Warner Norcross & Judd. He adds, "We are ramping up our IP services on this side of the state."

Warner Norcross & Judd has a total of 220 attorneys on its payroll, including 25 in its intellectual property practice. Its new hires are taking on more technology work not only in the local automotive industry, but also for companies in other fields, such as Dow-Corning and the band KISS.

"We do all industries," DeGrazia says. "We have a lot of East Coast companies."

Source: Greg DeGrazia, intellectual property attorney for Warner Norcross & Judd
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Dart Appraisal sets stage for growth with 14 new hires

Dart Appraisal began to see some of its business pick up in the last few months. Last month new business for the real-estate appraisal firm consisted of 27 percent of its revenue.

"These were in the works for some time," says Darton Case, president of Dart Appraisal. "These were some big deals." He says those deals were made up primarily of five large clients.

The Troy-based company handles appraisal work for real-estate foreclosures, purchases and refinancing. It employs 43 people and is looking to add summer interns. The firm hired 14 people in the last year (some of whom were replacement hires) and currently has openings for seven positions in operations and sales.

Dart Appraisal, formerly DartAppraisal.com, moved into a larger office in Troy a little more than a year to accommodate its growth. The firm's new space is twice as large as its previous office. It is currently aiming to continue growing in 2014 as it keeps doing large amounts of work with a variety of customers, including homebuilders, modular home companies, wholesale mortgage firms and HUD housing.

"We are in the core business of about a dozen strategic platforms," Case says.

Source: Darton Case, president of Dart Appraisal
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

SME's 3D printing conference to have largest show floor ever

The Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME), says its 2014 Rapid Conference and Exposition shows the rising interest in 3-D printing with the largest exhibit floor in the show’s 24-year history, along with a record number of presentations.

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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.

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.

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.

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.

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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.

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.

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.
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