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Innovation & Job News

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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.

Why hire veterans?

Join Automation Alley’s Education and Workforce Committee as they kick off Season 2 of the “Michigan’s Got Talent” event series with a panel discussion focused on hiring veterans. “Veterans: The Untapped Talent Pool” will educate the business community on the value of hiring veterans, government sponsored incentive programs and how to create a veteran hiring initiative within their companies. Experts will share how their agencies can assist employers as they navigate programs to hire this highly skilled, yet overlooked population.

July 14 - 10:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.

  • David Dunckel, Veterans Initiatives Manager, Roush Industries
  • Mark Meadows, Disables Veterans’ Outreach Program Specialist, Michigan Workforce Development Agency
  • Herbert Thomas, Employment Services Specialist, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Mike St. John, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Expetec Technology Services 
  • Chris Walker, Veteran Recruitment Liaison, Kelly Services
Member Price: $20.00
Non-members Price: $40.00
Foundation Price: Free
Walk-in Member Price: $30.00
Walk-in Non-member Price: $50.00
Pre-registration closes July 10.

Rochester College launches social entrepreneurship center

Rochester College is launching a Center for Social Entrepreneurship, and is drawing from the local talent pool to lead it.

The small liberal arts college will house the center in its School of Business, offering a social entrepreneurship degree that emphasizes both profit and the public good. The degree is expected to dovetail well with the institution for higher learning's ethos.

"I was impressed with the campus's mission, which is to work on solving a lot of the world's problems," says Jaymes Vettraino, director of the Center for Social Entrepreneurship at Rochester College. "It spoke to me in a way that I felt pretty passionate about."

Vettraino worked as the city manager of Rochester until this week, stepping down to take the job at Rochester College. He worked as an adjunct professor at Rochester College over the last year and has an MBA from Lehigh University.

Rochester College students studying in the Center for Social Entrepreneurship will work on both solving societal problems through commerce and contributing to their communities. Internships emphasizing servant leadership and social justice will be a focus of the Center. They will partner with local businesses, other educational institutions, non-profits, and government entities.

"My first six months is really about relationship building," Vettraino says.

Source: Jaymes Vettraino, director of the Center for Social Entrepreneurship at Rochester College
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Applied Technology Systems diversifies clientele to grow

Paul Agosta didn't build his business from scratch, but he has worked long and hard for years to build it into what it is today.

Applied Technology Systems was originally called Lab Corp when Agosta started working there more than two decade ago. At the time it made training programs for K-12 schools. Agosta helped expand it to do the same for more customers, such as industrial firms.

"That created enough work for me to buy it from my predecessor (in 2001)," Agosta says.

The Franklin-based firm and its four employees generate revenue from a variety of of sources. Fifteen percent of the firm's revenue comes from industrial firms, 25 percent from K-12 education, and 60 percent from post-secondary education.

"Everything is skill development," Agosta says. "Everything is developing skills for tomorrow’s workforce. There is a renewed focus on career development."

Agosta expects that trend to continue in the near-term, especially now that major local leaders, such as Gov. Rick Snyder, are emphasizing it.

"We want to be the prominent service provider for skills development," Agosta says. "We're getting there. Our name is pretty well-known, but we still need to go further."

Source: Paul Agosta, owner of Applied Technology Systems
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Sunscreen Mist adds convenience to sunscreen application

Tony Fayne turned an unfortunate turn of events into a growing business.

The metro Detroit resident had a friend develop skin cancer at age 30, catching him and his circle friends and family off guard.

"It was shocking," Fayne says. "I had no idea you could get cancer that early in life."

That played a significant role in Fayne's inspiration to launch Sunscreen Mist, a startup that makes applying sunscreen quick and easy. The Commerce Township-based company created a sunscreen application system that is part sunscreen spray and part booth.

The users can either step into the booth and be sprayed with a mist of sunscreen or use a spray gun to spritz themselves with sunscreen. Sunscreen Mist’s stations are designed for placement in theme parks, beaches, and poolside at hotels.

"I wanted to bring this to the market to make it so people could easily access sunscreen," Fayne says. "Melanoma is so preventable."

Fayne and Sunscreen Mist’s CEO, Josh Kaplan, recently appeared on the entrepreneur show TV show "Shark Tank" to pitch its product. The 1-year-old company and its staff of six people is just getting started deploying its stations, with 25 being used around the world right now.

Source: Tony Fayne, founder & president of Sunscreen Mist; and Josh Kaplan, CEO of Sunscreen Mist
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Oakland University now offers a degree in forensic nursing, the first of its kind in Michigan


Enthusiasts of health care and criminal justice can now bridge the gap by studying forensic nursing at Oakland University.

Read more.

Secret pickle recipe inspires Michigan-made movie, qualifies for $500K incentive


A film created by two former Detroit advertising executives that will be produced by a pair of West Bloomfield natives has qualified for a tax incentive of nearly $500,000 from the Michigan Film Office.

Read more.

Gongos and General Motors recognized for best client-supplier collaboration in mobile market

Gongos, Inc. and General Motors accepted the award for excellence in client-partner collaboration at the first annual Market Research in the Mobile World (MRMW) North America Conference & Awards Gala in New York on May 20th. Celebrating innovation and excellence in the market research industry, MRMW recognizes companies and individuals who have achieved significant breakthroughs in mobile market research.
Gongos and General Motors have collaborated since 2010 on new and emerging approaches to integrate mobile into the consumer research process, including live mobile ethnography, app-based communities, and Google Glass-enabled qualitative research. Joyce Salisbury, General Motors’ Technical Director, Digital Research & New Methods, Global Research shepherds the use and optimization of new technologies within GM’s market research organization.
“For the past five years, we have been leveraging and familiarizing ourselves with smart devices to truly understand the best way to capture the voice of the customer,” said Salisbury. “Our collaborative journey with Gongos really began in 1991, so essentially this feels like a lifetime achievement award.”
“It takes an interdisciplinary team with an experimental mindset to cross the innovation territory together,” adds Bob Yazbeck, Vice President, Digital Methods, Gongos Research. “We constantly push ourselves, while keeping our spirits fresh along the way.”
Salisbury and Yazbeck were present at the Gala in New York to accept the award for their respective companies. To learn more about the MRMW Awards, please visit here.
Gongos, Inc. is a decision intelligence company that partners with Global 1000 corporations to build competency in making great consumer-minded decisions. Gongos brings a consultative mindset in developing synergies among its clients’ analytics, insights and knowledge management groups.
OIntegrated, its data sciences group, extracts value from enterprise data with a relentless focus on solving the business challenge. Gongos Research, the company’s primary research division, acquires proprietary knowledge to deepen strategic insights. Arti¦fact, its insight curation practice, transforms the way organizations preserve and socialize consumer wisdom.
Gongos works with companies such as Mars-Wrigley, Johnson & Johnson, Chase, GM, OnStar and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. In 2007, the company was first named to the Inc. 5000 list of “The Fastest Growing Companies in America” and is among the Gold Top 50 U.S. marketing research organizations. For further insight into the Gongos culture, visit gongos.com or facebook.com.

Michigan's health care industry contributes $33B to economy, adds 580K Jobs


Michigan health care organizations added about 580,000 jobs across the state in 2013, and contributed $33 billion to the state's annual economy, through wages, salaries, and benefits, says a new report released today by the Michigan Health & Hospital Association and the Partnership for Michigan's Health.

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Farmington Hills women turn scone-making into business


Mary Wallace and Julie Tenbusch want their homemade-style scones to smell as good as they taste.

The Farmington Hills residents and food entrepreneurs create, cut, freeze and package dough in seven different flavors, but leave the baking up to their customers.

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Oakland University's med school graduating first class


Oakland's medical school is one of 16 new med schools in the United States since 2007, and the first of three new schools in Michigan.

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Cranbrook Academy of Art graduate awarded artist residency in Berlin


Cranbrook Academy of Art has announced that Aaron Patrick Decker has been awarded the 2015 Mercedes-Benz Financial Services Emerging Artist Award. This is the 10th year Mercedes-Benz Financial Services has given an Academy graduate the award.

Read more

Mentorship program at Pontiac Academy for Excellence focuses on making lifetime impact

Pontiac Academy for Excellence (PAE), the only charter district in Pontiac to offer ninth through twelfth grades, and Winning Futures, a leading mentorship program in Michigan, are working together to change the lives of local students.
At the beginning of the 2014-2015 school year, 66 PAE students were chosen to participate in Winning Futures, a mentorship and scholarship program. Throughout the year, mentees attended an hour-long session once a week with their mentors. During the meetings, students were provided with tools needed to refine character building skills such as goal setting, conflict resolution, professionalism and self-awareness.
“Thanks to Winning Futures I learned how to express myself and have more confidence,” Lizannette, Rivera-Colon, an eleventh grade student at PAE and Winning Futures participant. “I appreciate the opportunity to participate in this program and am honored to be the recipient of the Winning Futures scholarship. While my time in the program has come to an end, I know this is the beginning of a better future.”
Outside of the walls of PAE, the 18 mentors made it a priority to reinforce the skills taught during the sessions and provide emotional support as their mentees faced real-world situations.
Amanda Rymiszewski, Lizannette’s mentor during the past school year, said “Lizannette has only lived in the United States for one year and she already has such a clear vision of her future because of the Winning Futures program. Seeing her and the other young women I mentor succeed is incredibly rewarding and heartwarming. I wouldn’t give up my experiences with Winning Futures for anything.”
Since the partnership between PAE and Winning Futures began in 2013, more than 140 students have participated in the mentorship program. An average of 95 percent of former mentees go on to pursue further education and training beyond high school.
About PAE:
Pontiac Academy for Excellence is a charter school district in Pontiac, Michigan, that supports the whole child, whole family and whole community in the pursuit of educational and life success. Founded by OLHSA, a Community Action Agency, in 1998 to offer a superior educational experience, PAE is the largest charter option in Pontiac, serving students from kindergarten through grade twelve. At PAE children and families are provided with the stability and resources needed to grow both in the classroom and beyond. Safety, respect, learning and community are the pillars of excellence honored by each student and the district. www.pontiacacademy.org
About Winning Futures:
Winning Futures is an award-winning non-profit organization that empowers youth to succeed through mentoring and strategic planning.  We partner with high schools in metro Detroit to facilitate weekly innovative mentoring sessions in the school where we engage youth through trusting relationships with mentors, energizing experiences, and unforgettable life lessons. We focus on character value development, self-exploration, goal setting, job readiness skills, overcoming obstacles, and strategic planning.  Over 95 percent of students continue their education past high school and we have awarded over $1.7M in scholarships to local youth.  Since 1994, 39,000 students have been impacted by Winning Futures.  www.winningfutures.org
1062 Articles | Page: | Show All
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