Lakeshore and Small Business & Startups

Husband and wife win Muskegon entrepreneur award

April 22, 2012
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It was a two-fer at the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce 2012 Outstanding Entrepreneur event last week. Just one business was featured, but two people shared the award and the limelight: Garry and Charlotte Olson, owners of Lakeshore Document Services in Norton Shores.

About 200 members of the business community attended, at which Jon Sorber, one of the original “two men” of Two Men and a Truck, gave the keynote presentation.

The Olsons opened Lakeshore Document Services in 1995, and have expanded services to include document shredding, film conversion and Internet-based file management. They have also developed digital document software for the library and museum market that is now being marketed nationwide.

In the past five years, the Olsons have doubled the size of their work force and increased revenue by 75 percent. In 2011 alone, they recycled 1.5 million pounds of shredded paper and achieved a document storage box count of more than 100,000 containers. The company has clients all over Michigan and is expanding into Indiana, Ohio and Wisconsin.

The Olsons work with companies to become more productive and efficient while using fewer resources. Their “scan-on-demand” services have lowered costs for customers and are environmentally friendly.

Community means a lot to the Olsons. They have served on the boards for Visiting Nurses, Friends of Hackley Library and their church. They have volunteered for Junior Achievement and Love Inc., as well as coached Mona Shores High School’s hockey team and worked with its band and choir programs.

The chamber received nominations from the business community for the 2012 Entrepreneur Award, and a selection committee comprised of past award recipients chose the winner. Other finalists included Jason Piasecki for Revel; and Orville Crain, Matt Jacobs and Jeff Kempker for Klever Innovations. The candidates were evaluated using criteria including growth in sales, innovation, staying power, employee relations, respect for the environment, response to adversity and contributions to the community.

The chamber also announced the winner of the 2012 Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award: Nick Taylor, a senior from Holton High School and a financial management/accounting student at the Muskegon Area Career Tech Center. His business concept is called Heart, a training facility for young athletes looking to enhance their skills in baseball, soccer or wrestling. He will receive a total of $1,000 in scholarship money from Next IT, Klever Innovations and Muskegon Inventors Network.

This is the third Young Entrepreneur Award given to a high school student at the tech center. Each student must develop a credible business plan, meet with a business counselor and present his or her proposed business to community leaders and entrepreneurs. The other 2012 finalists include Oakridge senior Torey Melton and Muskegon Heights senior Damarrius Houston.

Hear, here!

The Michigan Business & Professional Association applauds the state legislature for listening to small businesses and taking the next logical step to boost capital investment in Michigan and ensure long-term growth — by starting Senate Finance Committee hearings on eliminating the Michigan Personal Property Tax on businesses.

This tax, which is assessed on non-permanent business property such as machinery, furniture and computers, costs Michigan businesses approximately $1.2 billion per year in direct collections. However, what is often not considered are the extra costs associated with paperwork and inventory to comply with the tax rules. This is extra money that could otherwise be devoted to truly productive investments such as added employees, increased wages, or further capital improvements, said Jennifer Kluge, MBPA president.

“Many of our neighboring states, including Ohio, Illinois and Wisconsin, have eliminated this outdated tax, having realized the burden it places on businesses both small and large, and without a significant decrease in overall revenues,” she said.

Currently, local governmental units and school districts receive about 80 percent of personal property tax revenue. However, in many cases, the communities themselves have, over the years, given up much of this revenue by granting personal property tax abatements requested by companies wishing to update or expand their facilities, she said.

“In short, the tax is antiquated, cumbersome, and does not provide the desired ‘bang for the buck’ in providing local tax revenue,” said Kluge. “Our association understands that a solution must include a way to help local communities and school districts make up for any lost revenue, which remains a major barrier to seeing the end of this tax. There are a number of alternative solutions which may satisfy all parties.”

Kluge noted that the bills introduced by Michigan senators April 17 would put in place a small business personal property tax exemption beginning Dec. 31, in which all industrial and commercial personal property with a taxable value of less than $40,000 becomes exempt. The $40,000 exemption is applied in each local jurisdiction in which a business taxpayer owns property, so a single firm with multiple small locations, such as a chain restaurant, could receive multiple exemptions. Above $40,000 in taxable value, there is no exemption. She said this will eliminate 75 to 80 percent of the personal property tax returns filed annually and save significant time and money for both small businesses and local governments.

“The discussion on this tax is crucial to hear everyone’s voice and to construct mutually agreed-to tax policies to help businesses, and make Michigan the ‘go-to’ state for investment and jobs,” said Kluge.

PAYGA pays off

The Holland Area Chamber of Commerce recognized Kavy Lenon of Herman Miller and Ed Amaya of Kenowa Industries at a luncheon at the Midtown Center April 18. Approximately 200 were in attendance.

Minority Business of the Year award recipient Amaya started at Kenowa Industries, a custom metal fabrication shop with a 30-year history, in 2003 as a manufacturing engineer, becoming president in 2006 and majority owner in 2009. Amaya’s motto (which is also on his license plate) is “PAYGA”: People Are Your Greatest Assets. His mantra is this: You don’t own your employees, you owe them.

The Outstanding Advocate for Minority-Owned Business award was presented to Lenon, who is an inclusiveness and diversity analyst for Herman Miller. She administers analytical and research projects related to inclusiveness and corporate diversity across Herman Miller’s empire. Lenon also engages with Herman Miller’s eight Inclusiveness Resource Teams (Asian, Black, Disability Advocacy, Women’s Initiatives Network, LGBT, Hispanic, Generational Outreach and Male) in support of implementing initiatives that benefit employees and community outreach. She also works and builds relationships with diverse companies and guides them on how to expand their businesses and procure work from large organizations.

Pizza pizza!

Republicans get a bad rap. They can be funny, too. With President Barack Obama in Michigan Wednesday for a $40,000-per-plate fundraiser, the GOP responded with a money-grabbing event of its own.

“President Obama’s visit reeks of hypocrisy and demonstrates his thirst for wealth, as he dines at a fundraiser costing $40,000 a plate after a weeklong assault on wealthy Americans,” said Matt Frendewey, director of communications for the Michigan Republican Party.

“This week, Obama said the 1 percent needs to pay their fair share; apparently this includes a $40,000 check to his campaign. In response to Obama’s hypocrisy, Republicans are hosting a middle-class ‘People’s Pizza Party’ on paper plates with plastic cups.”

Since the event was in Detroit, let’s hope they took advantage of the $5 deal at Little Caesars.

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