Street Talk

Street Talk: Innovation crosses all industries

Taking credit.

June 9, 2017
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On a recent visit to Steelcase, the current CEO, Jim Keane, chatted a bit about a former CEO, Jim Hackett.

Hackett recently was named CEO of Ford Motor Co. after a brief, but highly publicized, stint as interim athletic director at University of Michigan. At U-M, Hackett is perhaps best remembered for bringing in head football coach Jim Harbaugh.

Keane mentioned how the two companies, Ford and Steelcase, are in similar positions, integrating technology in industries that aren’t known for those applications.

“In both cases, you have industries with a large install base of highly optimized, major companies that can make products very efficiently and iterate and improve each year,” Keane said. “Introduction of technology into automobiles is a relatively new phenomenon just like in office furniture.”

As both industries continue to integrate more technology into their base products, Keane said it’s important to have innovative minds leading the cause. Hackett, of course, helped lead the rebound of Steelcase.

Keane’s recent car choice, a Ford by the way, was made because he can easily interact with his phone. Similar decisions might be made in the future when selecting office furniture.

“I drive a Ford Escape; I picked it because of software and technology,” Keane said. “I can access my phone, my Spotify very easily. The car drives nice, but I did it mostly for the technology.”

Steelcase Director of Global Research Communications Christine Congdon cited a Wall Street Journal report about how CEOs moving forward need to be innovative, lest they might be out of a job sooner rather than later.

The piece ran in late May with the headline “CEOs Must Place Bets on Disruptive Technology,” with a picture of Hackett.

“An executive shake-up must bring in leaders who can build and protect disruptive business models,” the WSJ reads. “The new leaders must be part of a team that can maintain an existing business simultaneously.”

Sustainability star

Grand Valley State University again received gold status after completing a sustainability assessment.

The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS), developed by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, gauges the progress of colleges and universities toward sustainability in all sectors — including education and research, operations, innovation and planning, and administration and engagement.

GVSU joins gold STARS institutions such as Oregon State, Arizona State and Texas A&M University.

“At Grand Valley, sustainability is not an empty buzzword — it is ingrained in every practice,” said Anne Hiskes, dean of GVSU’s Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies, which houses the Office of Sustainability Practices.

“This is a great collective achievement of all colleges and divisions and recognizes Grand Valley’s leadership in sustainability best practices and education — not only among its students, faculty and staff, but among the communities of West Michigan.”

This is the fourth time GVSU has participated in the program. It became the first Michigan university to receive gold status in 2013 and again in 2014, up from silver status in 2011.

This year, GVSU’s score increased from 66.05 to 70.80. The minimum score for a gold rating is 65. Yumi Jakobcic, campus sustainability coordinator, credits the improved score to incremental increases across the board.

“Sustainability is a collective effort,” Jakobcic said. “We continue to offer more classes containing sustainability-related content, and the number of professors engaged in sustainability-related research has increased. Our biggest improvement was in the waste category due to the university’s Surplus Store, and our score for buildings increased, as well.”

Clearer picture

Metro Health University of Michigan Health contracted Pittsburgh-based Foundation Radiology Group to provide its patient imaging services beginning July 1.

Foundation will supply the 208-bed acute care Wyoming hospital with on-site imaging experts supported by a round-the-clock team of radiologists trained across various subspecialties and imaging modalities.

“In our partnership, we are pleased to provide 24/7, 365-day interventional and neurointerventional coverage, as well as on‐site radiologists for our patients,” Metro Health President and CEO Mike Faas said. “As Metro continues to grow, we will be ready to support that growth.”

Foundation Radiology began offering its on-site and remote hybrid radiology model in 2007 and currently provides services to more than three dozen clients across a 10-state region. Foundation Chief Medical Officer James Backstrom said 100 percent of the company’s critical findings can be delivered with accuracy in less than 20 minutes.

Metro Health previously had contracted Grand Rapids Advanced Radiology Services to interpret its imaging needs.

Foundation Radiology CEO Richard Vance recently announced the company had doubled its revenue in the past few years. Foundation said it is the first radiology group to be accredited by medical licensure The Joint Commission.

Trail ride

The Grand Haven Area Community Foundation recently gave a $125,000 grant to the Ottawa County Parks Foundation for its Grand River Explorers Trail – Sterns Bayou Connector. The 26-mile trail will connect Lake Michigan in Grand Haven with the Grand River in Grand Rapids.

“This very generous gift from the Grand Haven Area Community Foundation provides a real boost to our Grand River Greenway Campaign,” said Tom Werkman, president of the Ottawa County Parks Foundation.

The grant from the GHACF will fund a trail on the 2.4-mile gap between Connor Bayou and the Grand Haven Township Mercury Drive Pathway, as part of the growing regional trail system around the Grand River. A pedestrian crossing over the bayou also will be included in the funding. Plans already are in place to connect Connor Bayou, Riverside County Parks and the M-231 Grand River Bridge in Robinson Township.

“West Michigan is poised to become one of the premier metro areas in the Midwest,” Greenway Campaign Co-Chair Peter Secchia said. “To remain competitive and to attract management, leadership and families, healthy ecosystems and iconic recreational experiences are needed. The greenway lands and Explorers Trail will offer this type of experience.”

For whom the bridge tolls

The Upper Peninsula occasionally is referred to as “the land that time forgot,” but at least the gateway to that scenic beauty is enjoying some technological advancements.

For the first time in, well, ever, visitors crossing the Mackinac Bridge now can opt to use a credit card to pay their toll right at the booth.

The Mackinac Bridge Authority began testing acceptance of credit cards in the lanes on May 23. Though toll staff did encounter some brief outages with the system, more than 2,200 transactions were processed through the Memorial Day holiday weekend.

“We’ve been testing the new system and have reached the point we’re comfortable that it is operating reliably and securely,” MBA Executive Secretary Bob Sweeney said. “We’re happy this new feature is available for our customers, and we’re sure they’ll appreciate the additional convenience and option is offers.”

Credit card use at the tollbooths is a feature included as part of a toll software upgrade package at the Mackinac Bridge rolled out in 2015. In the past, customers without cash or a toll card would need to park their vehicle and pay their toll in the MBA office in St. Ignace, Sweeney said.

The credit card system includes financial security checks that require a few more seconds per transaction for verification, he said, compared to the current average of 12 seconds per transaction. Depending on traffic volumes, credit card use may be restricted to designated lanes at times to prevent traffic backups.

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