Merging The Money

May 2, 2002
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Who will they saddle up?

Greenridge Realty's partnership with Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, a division of Wells Fargo & Company, the fifth largest bank in the U.S., may be a bellwether of things to come in Grand Rapids.

In describing the services available to customers of Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, KenEk pointed out that local customers won't be able to open a banking account with its parent company because Michigan is currently a non-banking state for Wells Fargo.

But that could change.

"We don't have a bank in Grand Rapids, but I would venture to guess that's something that's coming in the future," Ek said. "Wells Fargo is big on acquisitions as far as purchasing other banks. I would say in the near future we probably will have bank presence by acquiring another bank in town."

On its Web site, in fact, Wells Fargo boasts of being "the product of 1,500+ mergers in 149 years." The signs of the stagecoach already have been recently established just across the state line.

  • He said nothing of selling any one of the three businesses now incorporating Alticor, but senior community business leaders still believe it is just a matter of time. Alticor President Dick DeVos received high ratings for his Economic Club luncheon speech last week, but the real wow (apparently) was his goatee. During a later conversation with the Business Journal, DeVos advised that any new photos may quickly become dated: He expects to shave it off before summer.

While business community members found the update interesting, those attending determined that the most important aspect of the presentation was DeVos' repeated promise that Alticor will behave more like a public company, often sharing plans and products in West Michigan. In the later conversation he returned to that theme, emphasizing that the company would not continue what has become a traditional West Michigan M.O. to lay a low profile. He said he hoped other businesses would follow suit.

De Vos during a later conversation with the Business Journal was asked to react to a question regarding future funding for community projects, in light of remarks made last year while Grand Rapids City Commissioners debated names for Rosa Parks Circle. De Vos said he had been disappointed, and was not sure all current city commissioners understand that the families who are the large donors in this community have "many, many worthy choices" for future donations in places where it would be appreciated. "I would hope to see city elected officials bring people together rather than making it more divisive" for people who are working to build our community. "But if they really do not want private contributors to be a part of the solution, that would be very unfortunate and a great loss for West Michigan."

  • Small and mid-size privately owned companies with sales ranging from $5 million to $100 million were recently polled by the DAK Group and Rutgers University School of Business in an annual merger and acquisition study. Nearly half those company owners believe there will be fewer businesses within their industry within three years and 60 percent intended to make acquisitions within the same time frame. Thirty percent expected their company would sell within three years, with "outside forces" competition and market change being the most likely reason. Of those who intend to sell, 37 percent would buy another firm and 26 percent would expect to continue with the acquiring firm.

  • One would expect to be paid U.S. dollars for such transactions, but assumptions can hurt the bottom line. Take for example a recent Business Journal payment: The Canadian firm requesting and receiving advertising placement paid promptly — in Canadian monetary units, without regard for the exchange rate. Guess they thought winning the Olympic Gold for hockey entitled 'em, ay?

  • High profiles? Surely readers are aware of the weather ball wars (Grand Rapids Business Journal, Street Talk Jan. 21). We hear WZZM channel 13 has been dragging the guts of its original weather ball to the annual recreational shows around town, inviting all to have their photo taken amidst the reclaimed scrap. Now, however, they can show what really matters: The station was awarded the prestigious Michigan Broadcaster's Association Award as "2002 Station of the Year."

News Director Cheryl Grant also is celebrating seven other awards: Best Hard News (Journey of Faith by Chris Fleaszar; Best Sportscast (August 1, 2001, by Tim Swore); Best Sports Feature (Winning for Beem, by Matt Wright and Ken Ritz); and Honorable Mentions for: Best Natural Sound (Bob Gould); Best Live Sports (Tim Swore and Matt Wright); Best Spot Photojournalism (Bob Gould); Best Individual Photojournalism (Nathan Sharkey).

  • The Better Business Bureau has a few awards of its own that it wants to extend. Nominations for the 2002 annual "Best in Business Awards" are open through the Grand Rapids office for businesses in GR, Kalamazoo, Holland, Battle Creek, Grand Haven, Muskegon and central and northern Michigan. Forms are available online at www.bbb.org

  • Tis the season: Grand Rapids Business Journal free-lance photographer David DeJonge last week won five awards of excellence (first place) in the International Print

    competition during the Wedding and Portrait Photographers International convention held in Las Vegas (which drew more than 1,000 international entries).

Winning images were: the (sister publication) Grand Rapids Magazine Medical Hall of Fame portrait of Ted Thompson, X-Rite chairman of the board; DeJonge's Veterans Education Project Images of the late Russell Spencer, titled "I am American," and Brig. Gen. James Hoerner, titled: "Reflection of Souls"; a portrait of local artist Randy Brown standing on railroad tracks in the snow titled, "American Dreaming"; and a portrait DeJonge took of his son, Ethan.

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