No Boys' Room Smokin'

October 3, 2007
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It’s OK to smoke ’em if you got ’em. But not inside your place of business. Or not outside within 10 feet of a building’s entrance. Or not outside within 10 feet of a window, even if it doesn’t open. The 10-foot rule also goes for a ventilation system. And your “no smoking” signs have to be posted today.

Those decrees apply to businesses and buildings in Grand Rapids, as the city’s new anti-smoking ordinance is supposed to take effect today. Commissioners ratified the policy, known as the Indoor Clean Air Ordinance, a year ago. Compliance officers from the city’s Neighborhood Improvement Group will investigate complaints, even the anonymous ones. Most of those are expected to come from nonsmokers who rat on co-workers who light up. So smokers should probably carry a measuring tape and a piece of yellow chalk with them, just to be safe.

Only restaurants, bars, hotel and motel rooms, private residences and tobacco shops in the city are exempt from the ordinance.

  • DeVos Place will really be hopping in two weeks, with a big crowd, too. The American Rabbit Breeders Association will hold its annual meeting at the convention center beginning Oct. 13, and Convention and Visitors Bureau Vice President of Sales George Helmstead said the tradeshow will feature 22,000 rabbits. The breeders will be here for the entire week, and we’re wondering how many bunnies they’ll leave town with.

  • Speaking of the convention center, the facility continues to impress its guests. A diner at a recent dinner for 2,400 reportedly was pleasantly surprised when the food was served on the building’s finest china. He said he expected Styrofoam. To which Convention and Arena Authority board member Birgit Klohs said, “We don’t do paper plates in Grand Rapids.”

  • Van Andel Arena continues to amaze, too. SMG Marketing Director Lynne Ike said new software the company uses allows her to track ticket sales better than before, and the building’s reach seems to be getting longer.

“It was pretty amazing to see how far we draw from. We had folks from Detroit and Ohio for ‘Dancing with the Stars,’” said CAA board member Lew Chamberlin, who expects he’ll get his fifth Midwest Baseball League championship ring next January.

  • Grand Rapids firm Open Systems Technologies was the best ranking local firm on the Inc. 5000, an expanded version of the Inc. 500 list of the nation’s fastest growing private companies. With sales of $22.9 million in 2006, the technology firm has grown 323.4 percent since 2003 to place it at No. 1,104.

Other firms to watch include Zip Express (Holland, No. 1,182, 301.9 percent, $12.2 million), Facilities Resource Group (Grandville, No. 1450, 248.5 percent, $9.9 million), Regal Financial Group (Kentwood, No. 1,621, 220.8 percent, $8.9 million), Global Forex Trading, (Ada, No. 1,774, 204.1 percent, $87.5 million) Meal Magic (Grand Haven, No. 1,956, 185 percent, $2.5 million).

Local firms ranking in the lower 3,000 were Otterbase, McKeogh Land, Triangle Associates, Praxis, Axios Human Resources, Great Lakes Woods, Agritek Inc., Rockford Construction, Amneon Furniture, White’s Bridge Tooling, Spring Meadow Nursery, Ultrasource, Service Express, DECC Co., Old Orchard Brands, Econoline Abrasive Products, Dynamic Conveyer, Stiles Machinery and Grand Rapids Carvers.

Bringing up the rear for Michigan as a whole was furniture manufacturer Haworth Inc., clocking in at No. 4,984 with 21.2 percent growth since 2003.

No West Michigan firm made the regular Inc. 500 list.

  • Herman Miller has launched a limited-edition pink version of its award-winning Leaf light in support of October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The company will donate a percentage of the proceeds to breast cancer awareness, research and treatment. The lights can be bent to resemble the shape of a pink ribbon, the symbol for breast cancer awareness. Each of the $530 lights will be numbered and carry the signature of designer Yves Behar.

  • Aquinas College President Edward Balog signed the Talloires Declaration last week, a 356-college compact that commits the schools to an extensive 10-point sustainability initiative. Aquinas joins Grand Rapids Community College as the only two participating institutions in the state.

  • The Rapid posted its record 8 millionth ride last Friday, surpassing the record-setting ridership of 7.4 million rides a year ago.

“The ridership growth has truly been phenomenal,” said Peter Varga, CEO of The Rapid transit system. “We celebrated our 4 millionth passenger in 1999. Eight years later, we are celebrating the 8 million mark.”

  • As reported on the Business Journal’s online edition, Baker College of Muskegon announced plans for a state-of-the-art culinary school in downtown Muskegon last week, ending speculation (created entirely by the school) that the project originally proposed to break ground last month had gone sour.

The college’s board approved a plan to relocate the culinary arts program to a 39,000-square-foot stand-alone facility at the former Muskegon Mall site in downtown Muskegon. Groundbreaking on the $11 million project is scheduled for early spring 2008, and the building is expected to be ready for fall 2009 classes.

Muskegon-based Clifford Buck Construction Co. Inc. is the project’s general contractor. Bosma Architects & Associates, also of Muskegon, designed the building. The culinary arts program was launched in 1997 when Baker moved to its present location at 1903 Marquette Ave. Today it has 300 students.

  • Following up on the Business Journal’s Aug. 20 report on eco-friendly marketing and greenwashing, “The Color of Green,” a study announced last month by Ipsos Reid Market Research suggests that U.S. consumers are wary of companies that label their products as being green or environmentally friendly. The report found that seven in 10 Americans believe that when companies call a product “green,” it is usually a “marketing tactic.”

Speaking of, Steelcase President and CEO Jim Hackett recently quantified his concern in a speech to investors, stating that “Steelcase offerings go well beyond the hype and greenwashing that exist today.”    

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