Food stays here but airport chief takes off

August 20, 2011
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If you’re hungry Wednesday, you might want to lug your knife and fork over to DeVos Place, where Spartan Stores Inc. is hosting its annual fresh food show. The event will feature food preparation demonstrations, wine and cheese sampling, and — here’s the clincher — more than 1,000 pounds of cheese will be carved.

The event puts a spotlight on the city and highlights fresh new products. Meredith Gremel, who does the marketing and special events for Reds on the River in Rockford and owns Gremel Communications, told the Business Journal that more than 250 food brokers and vendors from throughout the nation will be here, and the event will generate millions of dollars in food sales and related business for hotels and restaurants.

“As the state’s second largest industry, Michigan’s agri-food sector generates $71.3 billion annually, making it a building block for diversifying the state’s economy. Production agriculture, food processing and related business employ more than 1 million people,” she said. “Michigan produces more than 200 commodities, making it second only to California in terms of agricultural diversity. This show is a big deal for our state economy.”

The event opens at 8 a.m. Wednesday. For more information, call Andy Smith at (616) 878-2615.

“When the show is over,” said Gremel, “the food is delivered to local food pantries, and Hospice receives the floral displays.”

A lot of frequent flier miles

After 21 years of directing traffic at the then Kent County and now Gerald R. Ford International Airport, James Koslosky has decided to retire, following 43 years in the airport industry. Koslosky will finish the year at GFIA. When he started, the airport served 1.4 million passengers a year. Today, 2.2 million go through its turnstiles. Koslosky also has been in charge of some major capital projects including the recent terminal renovation, which also added a 4,700-space parking facility.

“We thank Jim for his service to Kent County and the airport, and wish him and his family the best in his well-deserved retirement,” said Joseph Tomaselli, chairman of the county’s aeronautics board.

The awards just keep on coming

The Grand Rapids Griffins recently picked up five American Hockey League honors led by the team’s ticket-sales department being named the league’s best. The franchise also copped a team achievement award for averaging more than 1,500 group tickets sold per game; a unique promotion award for its “Hockey Day in Michigan”; first place for new season-ticket sales; and a second place honor for group ticket sales. The last two awards were Western Conference honors.

According to Randy Cleves, the Griffins’ longtime communications guy, the franchise finished fifth in the AHL’s 30-team attendance race last season with an average of 7,241 at each game, an increase of 3.2 percent from the previous season. In fact, home attendance has grown for four of the past five seasons. The only unanswered question is: How many seasons has it been since the Griffins began offering $1 beer, $1 dog nights at Friday home games?

Good neighbors

For the past 24 months, the boards of directors of the Holland Area and Zeeland chambers of commerce have been reviewing ways to collaborate in order to create greater value for the members of both organizations. The intent was to explore increased regional recognition, create improved access to regional supplier bases and gain “attention and traction in the clutter of the marketplace.”

A total of 1,293 members representing both chambers were invited to complete the survey and nearly 300 responded — a 23 percent response rate that satisfied leaders of the chambers.

“The survey affirmed key insights of the collaboration team which were identified early in our dialogue,” said Jane Clark, Holland chamber president. “Important considerations in moving toward a common organization include representative leadership, local offices in Zeeland and Holland, and market niches.”

According to the survey’s findings, which were collected by the Carl Frost Research Center of Hope College, 41 percent of respondents are aware of the collaborative effort; 79 percent think it should continue; 68 percent are in favor of creating one chamber to serve a broader area; and 67 percent cannot think of a negative impact resulting from the creation of one chamber.

Leaders take that as a pretty strong endorsement.

“Our goal now is to move forward with our evaluation using the insights and data gained by the survey, identify value propositions for each member segment and seek additional outside input on how best to communicate findings and next steps to the respective chamber boards and members,” said Jim Schoettle, president of the Zeeland chamber.

Or, they could act like the One Kent Coalition and just do it, and then let everyone else sort it out.

Welcome, Brit

Trading in bangers and mash for meat and potatoes? Well, if the shoe fits …

Classically trained international shoe designer Roy Hayes, late of Northamptonshire, England (ancient cobbler haven, to be precise), has packed his umbrella and moved to — of all places — Grand Rapids.

In fact, Hayes was sworn in as a naturalized United States citizen last Wednesday, so he’s all in.

“I love my family and I love England, but I would never have the opportunity to launch this brand and build this business if I didn’t come to America,” Hayes said.

His brand, Roy Hayes Studio, debuted Saturday at Austin (Texas) Fashion Week. It’s a collection of casual women’s footwear that captures “a bit of attitude and flair,” he said.

Part of the reason for this British invasion is likely Hayes’ partnership with Grand Rapids-based business and finance attorney Patrick Sughroue. Their “dream” is being capitalized by Anderson-Strudwick Inc., a regional investment banking firm based in Knoxville, Tenn.

Hayes may be based in Grand Rapids, but his reach is still international.

“My longtime friend Mao Xiaokang has been incredibly supportive by opening to us his factory in Nanhai District, Guangdong, China, and believing in the quality of the product we can build together for a worldwide audience,” he said.

So far, the collaboration has paid off.

“We launched this company in January of this year, have produced over 150 style/color samples of women’s casual shoes and sandals which are being shown on six continents, and have already secured our first production order from South America,” Hayes said.

Sounds like a step in the right direction.

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