Whether you turn to the U Club or jot notes at the Pen Club, doing business in Grand Rapids has its privileges.
And, like any other business, exclusive clubs battle for customers — but on a more “behind-the-scenes” basis.
Of course, this year is no ordinary year on the clubbing circuit. The Peninsular Club has garnered some publicity about membership and financial woes. Likewise, the news hounds are sniffing at Charlevoix Club amid rumors of hard times (do these rumors ever stop?).
But now, at least one club is going on the offensive.
Private clubs issue press releases about as often as presidential candidates lose the popular vote but still gain the Oval Office.
Yet the staid University Club, which sits atop the Old Kent (or is it Fifth Third?) Bank Building, believes it’s time to toot its own horn.
The U Club is touting some new programs and, more importantly, crowing about increased membership at a time when the pendulum apparently is swinging the other way for other clubs.
“We just may be the best-kept secret in Grand Rapids,” said Cindi Poll, U Club general manager. “I was exceptionally pleased with the growth we were able to achieve last year, particularly in light of the construction downtown that made it challenging to reach our facility. With that project completed, I look forward to continuing our upward momentum by adding new members and improving the services we are able to offer them.”
Poll said 80 new members joined the U Club last year, bringing total membership to 420 people. The private dining club and athletic facility also reported that revenues approached the $1 million mark in 2000.
“Private clubs were designed to foster exclusivity, but our model of the private club is all about service,” Poll said. “We continue to grow and expand because we offer our members extraordinary service at an exceptional value.”
Oh, and just in case you were wondering about that membership, Poll is glad to tell you that the U Club’s rolls include members from Amway, Warner Norcross & Judd, Irwin Seating, Merrill Lynch, Michigan National Bank, Miller Johnson Snell & Cummiskey, Old Kent Bank, Huntington Bank, Steelcase, and Varnum Riddering Schmidt & Howlett.
Just in case you were wondering, of course.
Welcome to the big city. No, not Detroit or Chicago.
Good old GR!
At least if you plan to travel anywhere by air, it’s sure going to seem that way, according to Bruce Schedlbauer, marketing and communications manager for Gerald R. Ford International Airport.
“(We are) recommending that passengers arrive at the airport 75 to 90 minutes prior to departure,” he said. “Also, those passengers who are able to arrange for alternate means of transportation to the airport are encouraged to do so during this period.”
The period to which Schedlbauer is referring is the onslaught of spring break.
He said passenger traffic at the airport is up 12 percent over the prior year and, coupled with spring break travel, is pushing the long-term parking lots to near capacity.
“Over the course of the next four weeks, long-term parking lots are expected to reach overflow conditions,” Schedlbauer said. “Passengers are advised to allow plenty of additional time to locate a parking space at the airport.”
Travel makes no distinction between business and pleasure. Don’t say you haven’t been warned.
An appearance here last week by Barbara Bolin, director of the Michigan Department of Career Development, captured many of the headlines.
But the reason she was here was the real story.
Bolin was the featured speaker at the 2001 Women in the Workplace Employer Recognition Awards.
A trio of firms — Ernst & Young, PPC Electric and Priority Health — was recognized for their policies and practices that are good for women and good for business, according to Sharon Caldwell-Newton, executive director of the Women’s Resource Center, which sponsored the awards.
Finding a balance between work and personal life can be a challenge for both female and male employees. Creating a healthy work/life balance for employees has proven to not only benefit employees, but increase the business’s productivity and employee retention.
In short, it’s good for both sides.
And that’s why West Michigan is attracting and making use of some top talent.
“My flexible work arrangement at E&Y’s West Michigan practice cemented my relationship with the firm,” said Dot Proux, a tax consulting partner. “It was the key reason I joined E&Y, and without it, I would not have been successful in a consulting career while raising three children.”
Ernst & Young earned its Workplace Award in the category of “progressive workplace strategies.” PPC picked up the “nontraditional occupations” award and Priority Health was honored in the “advancing women in leadership” category.
“Our employees are our best competitive advantage in the workplace,” said DeborahPhillips, vice president of human resources for Priority Health. “Through the years, I’ve learned that when you treat employees as if they make a difference to the company, they will make a difference to the company.”
CEO Kimberly Horn leads a 500-employee company in which 50 percent of the upper management positions are held by women. The Women’s Resource Center claims that only 12.7 percent of the executive, administrative and managerial positions statewide are held by women.
“You can see how important this is to West Michigan,” said DebBloom, business and community liaison for the center. “These are businesses that are making a difference here.”
Women in nontraditional occupations make up 25 percent or less of the employees in the defined occupation. Not only has PPC Electric recruited, retained and helped to advance its female employees in this nontraditional field, but the company’s president also is a woman.
But LynnWolbers doesn’t see anything too remarkable about that.
“We pride ourselves that everyone has respect for one another and that our company is open to everyone,” the PPC president said.
And isn’t that the way it should be?