The Tiger Quotient

October 17, 2006
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Here’s yet another reason to root for the Tigers. As it turns out, whenever the Tigers make the post-season, car and truck sales almost always go up the following year. Sometimes by just a little, but mostly by a lot.

According to Automotive News Executive Editor Edward Latham, who tracked the quotient through the history of the franchise, in each of the past 98 seasons, light-vehicle sales rose in every year following a Tigers postseason bid.

The only anomaly was the Tigers’ first appearance in the World Series in 1907, a loss to the Chicago Clubs. It is worth noting, however, that sales have risen in years the Tigers missed the playoffs, too.

On a related note, the last championship season of the Detroit Lions coincided with the release of the Ford Edsel, arguably the worst marketing disaster in automotive history. A few years later, William Clay Ford got his revenge when he purchased the franchise, and the Lions haven’t held the league’s top spot since.

  • There has also been a CIA-led coup in each of the Lions’ championship seasons since the agency’s inception. Coincidentally, Gayle von Eckartsberg, vice president of the agency’s venture capital firm, In-Q-Tel, will be the featured speaker at tomorrow’s season opener of the World Affairs Council of Western Michigan Global Executive Briefing Series.

In-Q-Tel, founded in 1999, has engaged with more than 90 companies and delivered more than 130 technology solutions to the intelligence community. The program runs from to at the University Club.

  • Say what you want about the automotive industry, but it’s still one of the horses of the West Michigan economy. The Business Journal received its largest response of the year for its list of Top Automotive Related Manufacturers, a full 73 companies. Unfortunately, there was only room for the top 17.

Just missing the cut was Hill Manufacturing Co., Monroe LLC, Middleville Tool & Die Inc. and N-K Manufacturing, along with 52 more of West Michigan manufacturing’s best and brightest.

  • Gaming revenue at Detroit’s three casinos jumped an average 16 percent in September, an unusually high boost that gaming experts attributed to the Ontario smoking ban and spill-off from Detroit Tigers crowds, as reported in The Detroit News.

“With the weather getting colder, smokers that visited Casino Windsor might have decided they don’t want to go outside to smoke anymore and are staying in Detroit,” said Dan Gustafson, executive director of the Michigan Gaming Control Board.

Something for the city of Grand Rapids to consider if it votes on the proposed workplace smoking ban tomorrow, even if the ordinance isn’t supposed to apply to bars and restaurants.

  • Apparently, the construction-worker discount mentioned in the Oct. 9 Street Talk didn’t help MonroeCenter sandwich shop Two Choppers all that much. The restaurant closed its doors for good just after press time last week.
  • Software craftsmanship will be on display next week in Grand Rapids in the first Great Lakes Software Excellence Conference at the PrinceConferenceCenter at CalvinCollege

Organized by local trade association XP West Michigan and the national American Society for Quality, the two-day event is centered on the theme, “Compete Globally, Act Locally.”

Unlike most conferences in the information technology world, this event is inclusive of all aspects of software development. It is not concentrated on a single specialization or platform, instead offering a broad selection of programming on how to improve business practices and engineering.

“The common thing is specialization, the latest in, blah, blah, blah, or something like that,” said Carl Erickson, president of Atomic Object LLC in Grand Rapids, a keynote speaker at the conference and co-founder of XP West Michigan. “This is a broader, more humane view of our profession. As a business owner who does IT work, I want my craftsmen to be going places where they hear the whole width of the spectrum.”

The conference, to be held Oct. 25-26, will begin with a day of small-group tutorials on a wide range of subjects including user requirements, peer programming, testing and customer service, among others.

The day features two keynote speakers and 15 session speakers on three different tracks — development, analysis/process, and quality/testing. Tim Lister, award-winning author and principal of the Atlantic Systems Guild, will join Erickson as a keynote speaker. Priority Health’s Matt Heuser was the event’s principal organizer.

Although not officially connected with the conference, CalvinCollege will host a seminar on the first day of the conference on the potential influence of the Christian faith on software engineers and development. Professor Patrick Bailey recently conducted a study on the subject.

  • At this point in the year, Michigan residents are beginning to have roughly the same reaction to political “campaignery” as they would to California spinach. The coup d’etat was Democratic Party chairman Mark Brewer’sfurther exploration of the difference between a donkey and an ass, as he called a press conference to announce he had found a packet of Amway tissues emblazoned with the “Made in China” label.
  • As reported last week in the Business Journal’s online edition (, the former Comedy Den at 2845 Thornhills Ave. SE will be razed to make room for a new 39,000-square-foot, mixed-use development.

In its heyday, the once-popular West Michigan nightclub hosted such acts as Drew Carey and George Carlin. A large adjoining space served as an ice rink and was later the site of the Maze Craze and the Cadillac Jacks nightclub. The facility shut down under pressure from neighbors and the state Liquor Control Commission. It has been little more than an eyesore for the last several years.

Thornhills Properties LLC, the operating entity led by S.J. Wisinski & Co. Vice President Michael Gantos, broke ground on Thursday.    

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