EPIC finalists earn distinction, honors
When representatives from 20 businesses gather to celebrate West Michigan’s entrepreneurial, progressive, innovative and collaborative efforts, the results should be EPIC.
The Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce will celebrate 20 area businesses and individuals at the sixth annual EPIC Awards from 5:30-8 p.m., June 1, at Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park.
The EPIC Awards (which stands for Entrepreneurial, Progressive, Innovative and Collaborative) recognizes businesses and individuals that support the community, demonstrate growth, are innovative and have worked with others as mentors and collaborators.
Tickets are $60 for chamber members and $75 for nonmembers. More information is available at grandrapids.org/epic-awards.
The nominees come from seven categories. Following nomination, the company or individual was sent an application. Community leaders and past winners comprised a committee that reviewed nominations and selected the finalists. The finalists were then interviewed to determine the winner of each category. Winners will be announced at the June 1 event.
The 2015 EPIC Award finalists are:
EXCELLENCE IN BUSINESS
Serving Grand Rapids since 1892, Holland Home helps more than 4,000 aging men and women by providing a full continuum of care including independent living, assisted living, in-home help and health care, rehabilitation, memory care, skilled nursing and hospice care.
For more than 120 years, Holland Home has evolved, grown and innovated to meet the changing needs of those seeking comfortable and vibrant living environments. Additionally, Holland Home commits to every resident by covering living and health care costs, even if the resident lacks the resources to afford required care.
Holland Home has been recognized for its continuous innovation and dedication to growth, placing the organization as the largest nonprofit senior care organization in Michigan and the 43rd largest in the United States.
Mary Free Bed
Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital originated in 1891 when a small group of Grand Rapids women recognized the need for medical care for patients of limited financial means in the community.
Today, Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital is a nationally recognized hospital complex devoted exclusively to providing comprehensive rehabilitation services for adults and children. Offering care for a variety of conditions including stroke, brain injury and orthopedics, Mary Free Bed is committed to putting the needs of their patients first and advocating for the right level of rehabilitation.
Mary Free Bed continues to add new programs that meet today’s needs and expand research that promises innovative protocols and technology. Additionally, Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Network develops collaborative relationships with other Michigan hospitals making their services available to more patients.
Wolverine Building Group Inc.
With more than 75 years of experience, Wolverine Building Group is a locally owned, full-service contractor dedicated to constructing quality buildings.
Wolverine Building Group stands at the forefront of the construction industry providing quality building solutions through integrity, value and craftsmanship. The unique blend of Wolverine’s specialized teams allows the company to offer expertise in almost any segment of the construction industry, including general contracting and construction management, renovations and remodels, and new construction projects.
Success and expansion has led Wolverine to develop four distinct specialty divisions: Wolverine Building, Wolverine Construction Management, Wolverine Multi-Family and Wolverine North America. Its continued success has placed Wolverine in the “Top Three General Contractors in West Michigan” and in Engineering News Record’s “Top 400 General Contractors” in the nation.
SMALL BUSINESS OF THE YEAR
In 1979, Baker Holtz began as a traditional firm providing accounting, tax and advisory work in West Michigan. At inception, the firm harnessed innovation by offering business valuation services before valuation was at the epicenter of business culture.
In 2004, Ryan Holtz returned to the firm after spending four years with a Denver-based firm that provided accounting and tax services based on the value pricing model. After seven years, a series of foundation-laying events and an internal cultural remodel, Baker Holtz launched its very own value-based pricing model for each client.
Baker Holtz offers services in the following areas: accounting and assurance; advisory; and taxation. The value-based pricing model remains a driving force behind all service offerings.
Founded in 2007, Kennari Consulting offers a fresh approach to fund development that’s grounded in practical expertise. As the most established firm in West Michigan specializing in annual fund development, Kennari Consulting assists nonprofit organizations with fundraising, capital endowment campaigns and planned giving strategies.
Kennari Consulting works with organizations of all sizes and all levels of fundraising expertise to help them find donors who will give and advocate passionately toward an organization’s cause. This fresh approach is the foundation of Kennari Consulting’s services and has played an instrumental role in strengthening nonprofits located in West Michigan by meeting each organization’s unique needs.
Lambert, Edwards & Associates Inc.
Lambert, Edwards & Associates is a top-10 Midwest-based PR firm and a top-15 investor relations firm nationally with clients based in 20 states and six countries.
As Michigan’s largest PR firm — with offices in Grand Rapids, Lansing and Detroit — LE&A serves middle-market companies and national brands across a wide array of industries and is the state’s largest bipartisan public affairs firm. LE&A has posted 15 years of growth, been named PR Weekand PRNewsSmall Firm of the Year, honored as an Edward Lowe “Michigan 50 Companies to Watch,” and earned Crain’s“Michigan’s Healthiest Employers” and “Coolest Places to Work” awards.
LE&A is also a global partner in PROI, the largest partnership of independent PR firms in the world spanning 120 countries on five continents.
MINORITY-OWNED BUSINESS OF THE YEAR
Malamiah Juice Bar LLC
Founded by Jermale and Anissa Eddie in 2013, Malamiah Juice Bar is committed to promoting the pursuit of healthy lifestyles as well as contributing to the holistic wellness of the greater Grand Rapids community.
The Eddies’ vision for Malamiah Juice Bar is to see it function as a vehicle for social change by offering products and opportunities that positively enhance people’s lives. The Eddies’ provide health education in Grand Rapids and beyond while also intentionally addressing health disparities within communities of color.
Additionally, the Eddies’ are passionate about creating youth employment opportunities through Malamiah Juice Bar, designed to employ and prepare young people for life-long success.
River City Metrology LLC
River City Metrology was founded with the goal to provide customers with metrology, calibration, repair service and inspection services.
Offering a level of expertise that is truly unmatched, River City Metrology provides effective solutions, rapid turnaround, and top-notch products and services in precision measurement.
The company also works with a variety of industry leaders including International Metrology Systems, Renishaw, Nikon, Rayco, Tsunami Systems, Meyer Gage and Alamo Gage.
River City Metrology is the only ISO/IEC 17025 Accredited Authorized International Metrology Systems Ltd. Support Center in the United States. Additionally, the company is an Authorized Renishaw CMM Products Distributor and a Renishaw Trained and Accredited Retrofit Partner.
Supermercado Mexico Inc.
Supermercado Mexico Inc. is a grocery store that features Hispanic products including fresh breads, Mexican panecitos and other baked goods.
The Supermercado Mexico family started in 2006 with La Tapatia Supermarket and the goal to provide a comfortable place to shop that offers all the products away from home. Four years later, La Tapatia Supermarket acquired Supermercado Mexico on Chicago Drive in Wyoming and was expanded to twice its original size.
In 2012, Supermercado Mexico received the “Most Promising Business” award from the West Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and in 2013 was awarded with the prestigious Michigan “Top 50 Companies to Watch.” In 2014 and 2015, Supermercado Mexico was a finalist for the West Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce “Business of the Year” award.
Eastown Veterinary Clinic
Eastown Veterinary Clinic founder Dr. Lynn Happel always dreamed of owning her own practice.
Started in 2011, Eastown Veterinary Clinic offers the highest quality of medical, surgical and dental care for its patients in a friendly atmosphere. Since opening four years ago, Eastown Veterinary Clinic has grown from zero clients to more than 4,000, and from four employees to 14.
Eastown Veterinary Clinic is AAHA-accredited and Cat-Friendly Certified, and is active with the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce, Local First and the Eastown and Uptown communities.
Eastown Veterinary Clinic is a physical representation of the dream Happel and the staff have shared from the very beginning: offering the highest quality of medicine in a warm, caring environment for a diverse clientele of enthusiastic and loving pet parents.
OnSite Wellness LLC
OnSite Wellness LLC partners with employers to positively impact employee health and well-being in the workplace.
For more than 20 years, OnSite Wellness has developed customized wellness programs for a variety of organizations, including clients based in Michigan, Ohio and California. The OnSite Wellness team, which consists of registered dietitians, nurses, and exercise science specialists, works with employers to design, develop, implement and administer wellness programs that energize employees and inspire them to maintain active lifestyles. They also provide a robust suite of wellness services including, health and wellness coaching, onsite programming, biometric screenings and an online wellness portal and mobile app.
OnSite Wellness has enjoyed success and growth because of its mission to consistently deliver relevant, fun programming producing high participant engagement.
Serendipity Media LLC
Since opening in 2002, Serendipity Media LLC has evolved into a full service media company and marketing firm that produces six regional and national magazines, five e-newsletters, three custom publications, six websites and a full menu of creative and marketing services.
Serendipity Media prides itself on representing a wide range of values, from being accountable to being service-oriented and team-minded. The media company is committed to presenting information to readers that is relevant, interesting, accurate and newsworthy.
Serendipity Media prides itself on continuous learning that forges into new markets to bring the best possible magazines to any reader. In addition to providing the best publication services, Serendipity stays up-to-date on the latest digital trends by publishing editions that are optimized for the web.
YOUNG ENTREPRENEUR OF THE YEAR
Johnny Brann Jr.
Johnny Brann Jr. is the founder of restaurant Kitchen 67, which was inspired by the Brann family heritage and its proud history of innovation.
The Grand Rapids restaurant features the freshest Michigan ingredients while infusing foods with Michigan spirits. Kitchen 67 was developed by Brann Jr. and has quickly become a well-recognized restaurant in Grand Rapids. Kitchen 67 has been nationally recognized as a "Breakout Brand" by the Nation's Restaurant News for both its food and its unique design.
The Kitchen 67 concept has been a successful addition to Brann's existing restaurant business. Brann believes food is an art, which is reflected through his restaurant’s locally sourced ingredients and classic family recipes.
Chris Andrus and Max Trierweiler
Back in 2012, lifelong friends and home brewers Chris Andrus and Max Trierweiler founded The Mitten Brewing Co., a microbrewery and pizzeria located in the historic Engine House No. 9.
Before opening their brewery, The Mitten’s owners painstakingly restored the Victorian-era firehouse and brought back to life one of Grand Rapids’ treasured but neglected landmarks. Andrus and Trierweiler’s vision is simple: create unique examples of classic beer and pizza styles that aren’t distracted by trends.
This continued focus on quality control and innovation was recognized by MLive, which named The Mitten “Michigan’s Best Newcomer” in 2013.
The Mitten is also proud of its charitable giving program. Since opening in 2012, the company has raised more than $70,000 for local organizations in need.
Steve Jbara and Wes Weir
Steve Jbara and Wes Weir founded the Grand Rapids Drive, a professional basketball team of the NBA Development League, in 2014.
What started as a dream for both of these 20-something entrepreneurs soon turned to reality after becoming part of the SSJ Group as the Detroit Pistons’ first NBA-D League affiliate. As a development team for the Detroit Pistons, the Drive brings unprecedented basketball talent to the region.
Additionally, Otis Smith, the former general manager for the NBA’s Orlando Magic, is the head coach for the Grand Rapids Drive. The team plays its home games at the DeltaPlex Arena and the Drive office is located in downtown Grand Rapids.
NONPROFIT OF THE YEAR
Heart of West Michigan United Way
United Way has been an integral part of Kent County for nearly 100 years.
The organization plays a unique role in connecting community resources to pressing community needs through direct programming, community engagement and partnerships with local nonprofit agencies, companies, donors, volunteers and numerous collaborations.
While United Way continues to support basic needs services (food, housing, utility assistance and transportation), it also works to identify the root causes of instability, specifically in three critical areas: education, income and health. United Way’s goals in these three areas are to increase the high school graduation rate, increase financial stability, improve access to health care and reduce obesity. Last year, Heart of West Michigan United Way connected $10 million in essential resources to local organizations and mobilized nearly 9,000 volunteers.
West Michigan Center for Arts & Technology
West Michigan business and community leaders opened the West Michigan Center for Arts & Technology in 2005 to address pressing community needs around high school graduation rates and adult underemployment.
It is one of the first replication sites of the successful national model pioneered by Bill Strickland at Manchester Bidwell in Pittsburgh. Through Teen Arts + Tech and Adult Career Training programs, WMCAT provides a culture of opportunity for people to create economic and social progress in their lives and community.
WMCAT is an innovative, forward-thinking organization grounded in the symbiotic relationship between space, technology and pedagogy to inspire and empower adult and teen students. The organization’s programs are linked through a common commitment to providing opportunity pathways, while elevating the student voice.
Comprehensive Therapy Center Inc.
Comprehensive Therapy Center began as a supplemental speech and language program for children in 1980. While working as a speech pathologist in public schools, Executive Director Jean Silbar noticed that every fall children with disabilities and special needs were re-learning skills that they had mastered, then lost over the summer.
Silbar implemented a summer therapy program that not only addressed speech-language therapy but as time went on, also added occupational and sensory therapies. The agency became incorporated in 1982 and gained 501(c) 3 status.
Thirty-three years later, Comprehensive Therapy Center offers individual therapies for children and adults, an award-winning summer program, tutoring for children with disabilities, community outreach programs and year-round special educational services for children with developmental, physical and/or genetic disorders.
Phoenix Floor Care
Phoenix Floor Care is a small, veteran-owned business that makes chemicals and equipment for cleaning VCT tile floors.
Phoenix Floor Care also provides floor finish, stripper and related products like mops, floor scrubbing pads and floor scrapers. Some of its customers include NASA, Kroger Corp., Tractor Supply Co., Pet Supplies Plus, Duthler’s, Village Market, Shop and Save, Duxbury Public Schools, Kelloggsville Public Schools, New Branch Public Schools Academy and Allendale Christian School.
Phoenix Floor Care was originally started as Swiss Clean Inc. during the ’70s and was purchased by the current owner in May 2010. The company currently has six full-time employees and a sales force in Michigan. What makes Phoenix Floor Care a competitive business is its innovative equipment that cleans VCT tile floors without using water to scrub the floor.
Started in 2007, JetCo Solutions helps clients sell to government agencies. Through a unique, comprehensive combination of capture services, proposal management, bid writing and research, JetCo serves as the embedded government sales and marketing team for small businesses.
Each JetCo client is sustainable, has a product or service bought by government, and is engaged and committed to increasing revenue by selling to local, state or federal government agencies.
When JetCo first launched, it had a singular goal of giving small companies access to a qualified, capable, complete government sales team. As a result, JetCo clients have won more than $2.9 billion in contract awards from 255 separate government agencies at the local, state and federal levels of government.