- people on the move
Denise Kolesar creates crowds at Kohler Expos
Editor’s note: Each issue of the Influential Women enewsletter will feature a profile of one of the Business Journal’s reigning 50 Most Influential Women in West Michigan. The profile first appeared in the event program.
Denise Kolesar keeps two words close at hand: professional excellence.
It’s a laconic business model that has enabled her to build from the ground up the largest events expo for women in two key markets in Michigan: Grand Rapids and Lansing.
In addition, Kohler Expos provides three West Michigan bridal shows annually — in the winter, fall and spring.
Annually, it draws more than 17,000 women and business owners into downtown Grand Rapids for the three-day event, which offers a blend of education, entertainment and enjoyment.
Five years ago, the expo expanded into a second hall, allowing the addition of more booths, activities and more reasons for women to make the Women’s Expo a weekend destination.
Kolesar’s expos are known as incubators for women owned and women-focused businesses, as well as a safe and tested venue for entrepreneurs to introduce new products and services into the market.
She proudly notes that dozens of products have debuted at the shows she produces before they become successful in the larger marketplace.
Kolesar, president and owner, manages a budget of $900,000 and three to five employees, plus seasonal help, all of whom enable Kohler Expos’ shows to become must-attend events.
Kolesar's past and present involvement on boards keeps her busy: Women and Girls Lead, Global to Local, St. Pius Catholic Church’s pastoral, community, social and outreach commissions, Time Out for Women and Hospice of Holland Home’s Watchmen Ministries.