Baker Cooked

December 15, 2003
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Hey, Holland, don’t you wish FredMeijer grew up in your town?

The Meijer Inc. icon, who grew up in Greenville and started his career in one-stop shopping there, reportedly weighed in last week on the Electrolux situation and the manufacturer’s decision to send 2,600 local jobs to Mexico.

Meijer helped with a task force studying the situation, and one possibility is building a new manufacturing plant for Electrolux.

If only Holland’s Baker Furniture plant had been so lucky.

Last week executives at Baker Knapp & Tubbs Inc. said they would be closing the fine furniture manufacturer’s plant in Holland, idling 166 employees, when the current run of customer contracts finishes about nine months from now.

By all accounts, the Baker plant in Holland is, at best, an aging facility and its condition undoubtedly factored into the decision.

But that doesn’t make it any less painful.

“The furniture industry has been one of the hardest hit by the current economic downturn,” said President DanBradley. “The decision to close our facility in Holland was one of the most difficult we have ever had to make.”

Fortunately, the firm’s Grand Rapids plant will remain viable and continue to produce some of the finest hand-crafted pieces on the planet.

  • It’s a hairless holiday for many employees at The Campbell Group.

Chucking vanity out the window and embracing a good cause, 21 employees from the insurance agency put their support behind fellow employee TimKalkman to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. The insurance company raised $15,864 in quite a unique manner. After Kalkman was diagnosed with lymphoma earlier this year and began losing his hair due to treatment, fellow employees decided to challenge themselves and pay $100 to have their heads shaved. Women had a higher price on their heads — a $2,000 donation from Campbell, which was enough to convince StaceyLyzenga to brave the shears. Campbell matched all donations from the hair-raising event and the check will be presented to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, Dec. 18.

  • OK, it’s time for a quick tour of the Politicians’ Ink Search Dept., referring to the compulsion of office-holders and office-seekers to get their names in print.

In that connection, the Business Journal received news releases from Congressmen VernEhlers, R-Grand Rapids, and PeteHoekstra, R-Holland, thanking President GeorgeBush for his decision to repeal the steel tariffs.

That’s legit. For more than 18 months, both legislators bluntly condemned the Bush tariff policy for exacerbating the recession’s West Michigan impact.

But now comes State Sen. WayneKuipers, R-Holland, who faxed a release about a resolution he introduced for the state senate to recite the pledge of allegiance to the Michigan flag each day. He pledged the action to fourth-graders at Borculo Christian School.

Some statistics (probably from an obscure government office) show that it costs 10 bucks in secretarial time and benefits, transmission charges, paper and toner to send one fax. Now if the Journal received Kuipers’ fax, it’s safe to assume (conservatively) that as many as 20 other West Michigan media outlets did too. Oh, and photos — presumably taken by a staffer — from the class became available on the Web on Dec. 5. No idea of what that cost.

This isn’t deliberately being tough on Kuipers. As they say, all politicians do this. But if legislators’ concern about Michigan’s supposed budget crisis is genuine, they could adopt a bipartisan resolution to stop wasting public money on fluff.

  • How long has it been since you’ve heard of a physician making house calls?

Well, WayneCreelman, M.D., sent us a fax (presumably paid by campaign rather than treasury funds), saying he’s doing just that … but not to dispense medical care or advice.

He’s launching his campaign for the GOP nomination to replace term-limited State Rep. JimKoetje, R-Grand Rapids.

  • Looking back at the grand opening and grand transformation of the Grand Center into awesome DeVos Place, there was one expectation that wasn’t met — though probably most agreeable for everybody involved.

That would be the prediction by KeithEidson, president of TSI Expos, the firm that organized and produced the first convention at The Place.

Eidson said he was certain that his arrival and the beginning of the Midwest Industrial Woodworking Expo would bring snow to town as it has for years — and maybe lots of it, because the industrial woodworkers were convening in Grand Rapids two weeks later in the year than they normally had.

Based on weather reports, however, the snow appeared to arrive in Eidson’s home state of North Carolina shortly after his return there from West Michigan.

Chalk it up to global warming.    

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