EPIC Award Finalists - Small Business of the Year

May 17, 2010
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Literacy Center of West Michigan enhances citizens' reading skills

Over the past 23 years, the Literacy Center of West Michigan has grown from a staff of two to an employee base of 19.

The Literacy Center offers a variety services in financial literacy, computer literacy, health literacy and others. Once housed in the Grand Rapids Public Library, the organization is now located in more spacious quarters at 1120 Monroe Ave. SW.

In 2007, the former Kent County Literacy Council unveiled its new name and logo: the Literacy Center of West Michigan.

"Our new name and logo positioned us to take our literacy services to more people, not just here in Kent County but throughout West Michigan, as our resources grow," said Susan K. Ledy, executive director of the center.

The organization's Customized Workplace English Program, which helps companies improve the English language skills of their employees, is now being offered to businesses and organizations throughout Kent and Ottawa counties.

In partnership with organizations such as Grand Rapids Community College, Goodwill, Women's Resource Center and Michigan Works, the council has been awarded a $4 million grant to bring training for "green jobs" to Grand Rapids.

Golf club scores with new approach

The Highlands Golf Club has seen a resurgence since Steve Scheuermann was contacted by the national Elks Club organization to take over operation of the club, which was owned by the Grand Rapids Elks Lodge.

Scheuermann's task when he took the reins Jan. 1, 2008, was to save the Donald Ross-designed course located at 2715 Leonard St. NW. The facility marked its 100th year in operation that year.

Having operated courses in Holland and Muskegon, Scheuermann determined the Highlands new business model would use the private golf concept that was in place at The Highlands for many years and blend it with the public golf offering.

In 2007, the recorded number of rounds played was 14,000. In 2008, that number jumped to 22,000 rounds, and in 2009 was at 26,000. The Highlands has a waiting list of 25 golf leagues that are seeking to play there.

"The Highlands has the same number of private club members that it had in 2007," said Scheuermann, who has been joined by his wife, Lynn, in the operation of the facility.

SecurAlarm Systems Inc. puts security in its place

Pat Van Haren started SecurAlarm Systems Inc. in 1993. It has become one of the most recognizable security integrators in West Michigan. SecurAlarm employs approximately 40 and designs, installs and maintains security, fire alarms and communication systems throughout the Midwest in industrial, institutional, commercial buildings and residential homes.

Van Haren provides strategic planning, marketing and management for the corporation, whose office is at 112 54th St. SW in Grand Rapids.

His hands-on approach to business started in high school at his family's business, Van Haren Electric, which he joined full time after college. Under his leadership, which began in 1972, Van Haren Electric grew to become one of the largest electrical contractors in the area. He gained extensive experience in installation, estimating, purchasing, field leadership and corporate management. He sold Van Haren Electric in 1998.

Van Haren said the strength of SecurAlarm Systems Inc. is its ability to recommend the right combination of systems to achieve a cost-effective customized solution to meet the need. Its services include access control, closed-circuit television, intrusion and fire alarms, network connectivity, photo ID badging, covert video surveillance, asset tracking and evacuation and warning systems.

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