Arts & Entertainment, Human Resources, and Small Business & Startups

Denise Kohler-Kolesar sets stage for women-owned businesses

September 23, 2013
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Denise Kohler-Kolesar's events are incubators for minority firms
Denise Kohler-Kolesar

Editor’s note: Each issue of the Influential Women enewsletter will feature a profile of one of the Business Journal’s reigning Top Women Owned Businesses finalists. The profile first appeared in the event program.

At first glance, Kohler Expos would appear to be all about fun.

Women-owned businesses

The 15-year-old firm orchestrates the West Michigan Women’s Expo in Grand Rapids, the Mid-Michigan Women’s Expo in Lansing, several bridal shows, the West Michigan Moms Sale and several other lifestyle events, career fairs and industry-specific gatherings.

But the company is about a lot more than just having a good time.

“I have personally given assistance to enable a number of women-owned businesses to get their feet off the ground without increasing their start-up debt,” said President Denise Kohler-Kolesar.

“Our events have also been incubators for women owned and women-focused businesses," Kohler-Kolesar said. "We provide a safe and tested venue for entrepreneurs to introduce new products and services into the market, meeting face-to-face with potential clients and fine-tuning their messages.”

Kohler Expos now employs three full-time and two part-time workers, as well as up to 50 seasonal employees during the shows.

"Thoughtful business"

Additionally, it has donated more than $300,000 to women and family focused nonprofits since its inception.

“I reach for professional excellence,” Kohler-Kolesar said. “Professional excellence to me is when you can run an honest and thoughtful business. We have developed, from the ground up, the largest events for women in two key markets in Michigan.

“We are focused not only on helping businesses, but also bringing the women of the community education on many levels in an entertainment setting.”

Kohler Expos was nominated in the $1.49 million and below annual revenue category. Kohler-Kolesar was named the 2011 Top Woman Owned Business in this revenue category.

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