Elliott Adds To Resume

January 9, 2006
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GRAND RAPIDS — Rob Elliott is a multi-talented and well-rounded guy who has developed quite an impressive résumé.

Elliott has been a teacher, a coach, a business manager, a superintendent of Cedar Springs Public Schools, an assistant superintendent for business in the East Grand Rapids school system, a director of training and development for Wolverine World Wide, a vice president of sales and marketing for Gibson Graphics, and a consultant for the Leadership Capital Group.

Elliott capped his résumé recently when he joined the senior leadership team at Grubb & Ellis/Paramount, one of the region’s most flourishing commercial real estate firms, as the company’s very first chief operating officer.

“What really drew me to them was the culture of the organization and the quality of the people. This is an amazing company from the standpoint that they’ve got 36 independent contractors — real estate advisers who are really each running their own individual business — and yet the spirit and teamwork is just unbelievable in this environment,” he said.

“We have another 25 employees that work here, too, and they help to make it just an incredible place.”

But one of Elliott’s most interesting and unusual accomplishments won’t be found on his résumé, as he has danced the role of Santa Claus in four of the holiday programs the Creative Arts Repertoire Ensemble has put on.

“I love that role. I’ve always enjoyed doing different things with Santa and it was a lot of fun to play that part on stage,” said Elliott, a past president of the ensemble.

“I dressed up as Santa at the office and my wife was gracious enough to come in with me,” he said of the recent holiday. “She and I spent the morning delivering hot chocolate and cookies to everybody. Several of the employees ended up calling their spouses and had them bring their kids down to see Santa. There is something magical about that costume.”

Rob’s Santa-helping wife is Roberta, who is known to her friends and family as Bert. She and her business partner, Jane Meilner, sell the Carlisle Collection locally. Carlisle produces quality clothing and accessories for women that are sold through a nationwide network of associates instead of in stores. Bert sells the line from Elliott’s East Grand Rapids home four times a year, when the seasonal collections are released.

Robert, age 22, and 19-year-old Tony round out the Elliott clan. Robert attends Grand RapidsCommunity College after having worked in construction for three years following his graduation from high school. Tony is a professional dancer who is pursuing a career in entertainment in Los Angeles

“He has been dancing since the age of 3,” said Elliott. “He does tap, jazz, ballet and hip-hop; he does it all. And he sings and acts, as well. He loves it. Music is in his soul and we’re glad he is chasing his dream out there.”

Fans who attend freshman and junior varsity football games at EastGrand RapidsHigh School would likely recognize Elliott’s voice. Elliott has been the press box announcer for the past five seasons. He also has coached lacrosse at the high school since 1999, after he started the program while he was the district’s assistant superintendent for business.

“Robert went to a summer camp in the fifth grade, where he got introduced to lacrosse and just fell in love with it. He was relentless that he had to play in the sixth grade,” he said. 

“I had coached youth football at East for years, and they said they would start a lacrosse program if I would coach it. I didn’t know anything about the game. I hadn’t even seen a game. But I started out as a high school football coach. So I started the program after going to clinics, reading books and watching videos. Here I am 12 years later and I’m still doing it.”

Coaching lacrosse and dancing as Santa are two things that Elliott loves to do but never expected to do before his sons were born. Which goes to prove that the adage “like father, like son” hasn’t necessarily been a truism in the Elliott household.

“Robert turned me on to lacrosse and Tony turned me on to the whole dance community. My kids have been wonderful about showing their dad a few things,” he said.

In his spare time, Elliott likes to hunt for duck, partridge and pheasant. The Elliott family has eight duck ponds on 440 acres of land near TawasCity, his hometown.

“It’s just a wonderful opportunity to spend time with the family. I also do a lot of bird hunting over in Muskegon. I’ve got some buddies that I head up the MuskegonRiver with and go back into the marsh and hunt. So I’d say hunting and lacrosse are my two passions.”

Elliott began his career trek by earning a bachelor’s degree in business, with a minor in teaching and coaching, from MichiganStateUniversity. He then graduated with an MBA from the University of Wisconsin in Whitewater.

As he looked back over his successful career, Elliott felt his biggest break came when East Grand Rapids Public Schools hired him as an assistant superintendent for business in 1992.

“That’s because moving to East has created so many opportunities for me professionally, as well as for my wife and my kids,” he said of the position he held for more than three years.

Elliott said he is going to take a break from coaching lacrosse on a full-time basis this spring in order to reach some of the goals he and the partners at Grubb & Ellis/Paramount have set for themselves this year. But he plans to remain involved with many other athletic programs at the school while he helps direct the firm.

“In this first year, my goal is to develop a good understanding of our business and to work on continuing to grow it,” he said. “Grubb & Ellis/Paramount has been in business for 10 years. They’ve grown annually and I have an expectation that we will continue to grow our business as we’re going forward.”    

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