Street Talk

Street Talk: Building better relationships

Safe sales.

August 14, 2015
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It pays to work well with others because sometimes they hold your fate in their hands.

The American Subcontractors Association of Michigan last week announced the nominees for the sixth annual Michigan Contractor of the Year Award. The MCOY goes to the general contractor that is seen as the most efficient and effective by the subcontractors who work with them day in and day out.

It’s not a popularity contest. The judging criteria include bid ethics and practice, safety, job supervision, communication, schedule coordination, project relations, lien processes, administrative procedures, payment terms and quality workmanship.

“We are fortunate to have so many exemplary construction firms headquartered here in Michigan,” said Steve Alles, president of ASAM. “These nominees represent the best of the best — the companies who are setting the standards for quality and dedication.”

This year’s nominees include: The Christman Co., Dan Vos Construction Co., Elzinga & Volkers, Erhardt Construction, Owen-Ames-Kimball Co., Pioneer Construction, Rockford Construction and Triangle Associates.

Alles said these companies have maintained their high standards even as demand for their services has dramatically increased over the past few years. According to the Associated General Contractors of America, a Washington, D.C.-based trade association, construction jobs are booming at every level in Michigan.

The MCOY Award will be presented during a ceremony at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park scheduled for 6-9 p.m., Oct. 15.

Sounds of silence

When the Business Journal profiled Veronica Kirin in May for an Inside Track piece, she let it be known she’s a bit of a free spirit.

Now she has what she calls a “crazy idea.” She wants to travel the United States to interview people born before 1940. The result will be a book that chronicles the changes technology has made to American society, to be published early in 2016.

“I have been working on a book since February called ‘Untold Stories’ of interviews of people born before 1940 (the Silent Generation) about how technology has changed our society,” she said.

“I am hosting an event at J. Gardella's Tavern next week for the launch of the Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to make this a national project. I've already interviewed people in five states, but there is a lot more to do. I will drive across the nation, and hopefully fly to the territories, as well, to conduct these interviews.”

The launch event is set for 7:30 p.m., Aug. 20, at J. Gardella’s in downtown Grand Rapids. Kirin said she also hopes to use the event to connect with local residents 75 and over to record their stories. But she made it clear her travels will bring her across America, including territories such as Guam, American Samoa and Puerto Rico.

Funds raised through the campaign will go toward transportation, gas, food and shelter, she said.

“Each interview’s audio is recorded for the project archive as well as for use in the digital write-up of the project,” she said.

“The use of the audio in the storytelling gives readers the opportunity to hear the emotion in the participant’s voice, making the history more real.”

Social call

Is social media an important part of your company’s communications strategy?

If so, there is a conference coming to Grand Rapids that might be worth looking into.

Social Mitten, the state’s largest social media conference, is scheduled for Friday, Sept. 25, at Noto’s Old World Italian Dining in Cascade Township.

“There are so many talented people in our state who have a passion for this work and want to share it with us,” said Jeff DeHaven, president, Social Media Club Great Lakes Bay.

“Whether you are new to social media or work with social media every day, Social Mitten has something to offer you.”

The event offers six experts presenting various topics, access to a wide range of vendors, and a chance to network with more than 300 social media enthusiasts from all over the state and beyond.

“Last year’s Social Mitten was sold out,” said DeHaven. “Each year we plan to move the conference to a different city in Michigan, expanding our reach and giving more people the opportunity to join us. This year we expect to triple attendance.”

The speaker lineup includes Nikki Sunstrum, director of social media for the University of Michigan; Jeff Barrett, director of strategy for Helloworld; Michael Yoder, digital media strategist for Spectrum Health; Rebecca Harris Burns, global head of social media for General Motors; Andrew Foxwell, co-founder and CEO of Foxwell Digital; and Sean T. Johnston, marketing program lead for Quicken Loans.

There is a climbing scale for ticket prices from $25 to $200, with earlier registration costing less. Program specifics and ticket prices are posted on socialmitten.com.

Safe haven

With its small geographic footprint and its own public safety department, East Grand Rapids is often considered a safe haven.

The city is now taking that reputation one step further — to the online world.

The EGR Department of Public Safety this month launched a pilot program aimed at providing a safe haven for Craigslist and other sales transactions.

The goal of the program — modeled after a similar one started by the Lowell Police Department last winter — is to help prevent crimes connected to Craigslist transactions by offering people a safe place to conduct these transactions. The public is welcome to conduct a purchase or sale in the lobby or parking lot of the EGR Public Safety Building, 770 Lakeside Drive SE.

“We are happy to provide this public service to our residents as well as to anyone else looking for a safe place to conduct a private sales transaction,” said Public Safety Director Mark Herald. “It’s important that all parties involved in the sale feel safe. By offering a public space where these exchanges can take place, we’re providing an added sense of security to these individuals.”

To participate in the program, both the buyer and the seller must sign a Safe Haven Use Agreement that acknowledges they will conduct the sale in the lobby or parking lot of the Public Safety Department. The agreement also states that neither the department nor the city are responsible for supervising, intervening or facilitating the sales transaction and cannot be held liable for any loss, injury or damage during the exchange.

Herald said the program is offered 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding holidays. Those interested in participating must call the Public Safety Department at 949-7010 between these hours to notify the department of the date and time of the transaction. They then must notify the clerk when they arrive for the transaction and sign the agreement before the exchange takes place.

“While we don’t expect to be inundated with these safe haven requests, we’d like to offer the Public Safety building and parking lot as an option,” Herald said. “It’s just another way that we can be a good community partner.”

The pilot program is being offered for the next six months.

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