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17 Design/Technical Services Articles | Page: | Show All

Detroit entrepreneurs have until July 1 to apply for Motor City Match

The clock is ticking for entrepreneurs thinking about applying to Detroit's Motor City Match program. July 1 is the deadline for the small business competition, which awards grant funding, design and technical support, and landlord-tenant match-making assistance. The quarterly competition offers up to $500,000 in grants each round.

Entrepreneurs ranging from established to nascent are encouraged to apply. The competition offers different levels of prizes to local small businesses, depending on a number of factors. For the new entrepreneurs, Motor City Match offers free business planning programming. More advanced entrepreneurs may be matched with a Detroit landlord seeking to fill a storefront or building. Design services from local architecture firms are also available.

The most advanced applicants are eligible to receive up to $100,000.

Since launching in 2015, Motor City Match has awarded $1.5 million in grant funding, which has been leveraged for nearly $10.5 million in investment.

Lana Rodriguez is the recipient of one of those grants, having received $18,000 from Motor City Match in the most recent round of competition. She's using that money to help start Mama Coo's Boutique in Corktown, an upscale resale and vintage clothing shop.

"I'm a hustler and I knew the store would open, but it would have only been partially realized," says Rodriguez. "This grant money lets me get started and go all in. I know I have a better chance of longevity and success."

According to Motor City Match, the organization has already served over 300 businesses and 180 commercial properties since 2015. Detroit-based businesses make up about two-thirds of the winners and minority-owned businesses make up 70 percent of the successful applicants.

Visit www.motorcitymatch.com to apply.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

First Class Committee provides high fashion without high price

When Terrance Jones went to start a clothing company, he had more than one theme to base it on in mind. To Jones, craftsmanship, music, and affordability all play integral role in the hand-sewn clothes he makes at First Class Committee.

"I want to give people access to high fashion without paying high prices," Jones says.

The Midtown-based clothing label got its start when Jones was studying at Louisiana State University and was in its infancy when he moved to Austin, Texas, after college. First Class Committee started to come into its own when Jones made the move to Detroit a little less than a year ago. He is now a part of the Fashion Incubator at the Detroit Garment Group.

There he is working on developing his label's production and branding. For now, his line is primarily made up of shirts, sweaters, and hoodies. He designs them with an urban aesthetic that draws inspiration from contemporary music, often hip hop, but also from other genres like alternative rock and techno.

Jones hand-makes all of First Class Committee's clothing, cutting and sewing it entirely himself. To him that's a competitive advantage because it lowers the production costs and enhances the craftsmanship.

"It cuts out the middlemen," Jones says. "I can make it more affordably."

Jones currently sells First Class Committee's clothing online and in local retailers like Bob’s Classic Kicks. He wants to spend 2016 establishing the brand in Detroit and pumping up sales, though he doesn't see himself giving up the sewing until his brand success mandates it.

"I like making them myself," Jones says. "It's one on one with me and my clients. It's a unique and personal feeling."

Source: Terrance Jones, founder & CEO of First Class Committee
Writer: Jon Zemke

G2 Consulting Group executes first acquisition, Schleede-Hampton

G2 Consulting Group acquired Schleede-Hampton Associates, a fellow construction engineering firm it has worked with for a few decades.

"I have known Schleede-Hampton forever," says Noel Hargrave-Thomas, principal of G2 Consulting Group. "Jim Berry, who runs the Birmingham office that we purchased, I met him 30 years ago...I am very familiar with that firm."

Troy-based G2 Consulting Group specializes in construction engineering, including environmental and geotechnical engineering services. That work, such as soil testing or tracking vibration next to freeways, usually takes place below the ground. Schleede-Hampton Associates, which is based in Birmingham, provides similar geotechnical engineering services to the construction industry.

G2 Consulting Group has been focusing on integrating more and more technology into its everyday work, such as outfitting its workers with mobile devices. Hargrave-Thomas sees bringing Schleede-Hampton Associates up to speed with its own technology use as a good opportunity for growth.

"It (the merger) is a nice fit," Hargrave-Thomas says.

G2 Consulting Group has been growing rapidly in recent years, hiring 19 people over the last year alone, growing its staff to 63. Schleede-Hampton Associates' staff of eight people will be integrated into G2 Consulting Group's staff this summer.

"We are continuously adding people," Hargrave-Thomas says.

Source: Noel Hargrave-Thomas, principal of G2 Consulting Group
Writer: Jon Zemke

GreenLancer hires new CEO, begins raising Series B financing

GreenLancer is making some big hires and raising some big money this year. The downtown Detroit-based startup has hired its first CEO and is in the midst of raising a significant round of seed capital.

The new CEO is Zac MacVoy, a graduate of Lake Superior State University and most recently a vice president of sales at United Lighting Standards. MacVoy is leading GreenLancer's efforts to raise a multi-million dollar Series B round. It has closed half of its goal and will close on the rest later this spring.

"We feel he will be a key component as we scale to meet demand," says Michael Sharber, executive vice president of GreenLancer.

GreenLancer is a product of the Bizdom accelerator program. It developed a software platform that guides businesses through the process of integrating green technology into their operations, such as solar panels. The platform provides high quality solar system designs needed to build and install solar electric systems, enabling contractors to manage projects, get quotes, order, and receive design services from one centralized place.

"We produce the design that the contractors use to install solar systems," Sharber says.

GreenLancer started by offering these services to commercial clients. It is now looking to expand into the residential market. The Series B will help the company with marketing, product development, and staff expansion. It has hired 14 people over the last year and now employs a staff of 22. It is also looking to hire a handful of web developers.

Source: Michael Sharber, executive vice president of GreenLancer
Writer: Jon Zemke

Q LTD adds new work, such as new website for The Ark

No joke: A longtime Ann Arbor institution and a local business that has been around the block a few times meet in a downtown bar. The result is a brighter 2015 for both.

Q LTD is working with The Ark, the renown performance venue, to redesign and revamp its online presence. The downtown Ann Arbor-based non-profit hasn't updated its website in more than a decade. The new website is now mobile friendly and includes more information about The Ark's well-known events, such as the Folk Festival.

"The Ark is heading into its 50th year this year and it's kicking off a capital campaign," says Christine Golus, managing director of Q LTD.

The 34-year-old firm has been doing more work in recent years and is looking to add to its staff. Q LTD currently has a staff of 12 employees and an intern. It’s looking to hire a software developer, too.

The Ann Arbor-based firm has taken on a wide variety of projects as of late. Those include work for the University of Michigan's Human Resources and SIGGRAPH, which is short for Special Interest Group on GRAPHics and Interactive Techniques.

"We are feeling a definite uptick in projects and work," Golus says. "We are seeing an improvement in the economy."

Source: Christine Golus, managing director of Q LTD
Writer: Jon Zemke

Virtuoso Design + Build expands staff to five, looks for own workspace

Mark Klimkowski graduated with a master's degree in architecture from the University of Detroit Mercy in 2009 and immediately went into one of the worst job markets for new graduates in generations. So instead of waiting or someone to give him a job, he created his own with Virtuoso Design + Build.

The downtown Detroit-based venture specializes in everything from interior design to construction build outs. Choosing the more active end of the built environment work was an easy choice for Klimkowski.

"I didn't want to sit at a desk all day," Klimkowski says. "I wanted to get my hands dirty."

Today Virtuoso Design + Build is keeping Klimkowski and several others busy. The company is an active participant in the building boom in downtown Detroit, handling design and build out work for Bedrock Real Estate Services, Hello Innovation and Crema, a new bakery set to open in Greektown.

"We have grown a lot in the last year," Klimkowski says. "I have four full-time employees now."

To accomodate its growth, the company is looking to find its own home that comes complete with a wood shop and office space. Klimkowski hopes to use it not only as a base for Virtuoso's project work, but also as a place to launch its own furniture line.

"We want to be in our own place with design and building space," Klimkowski says.

Source: Mark Klimkowski, owner of Virtuoso Design + Build
Writer: Jon Zemke

Design firm Elefant Design & Strategy looks to add 3 jobs

Elefant Design & Strategy has got the growth part down. Now it wants to focus on the work.

The Troy-based design firm made a name for itself in design for everything from website development to print. The 1-year-old company has grow by more than 100 percent.

"We are really focused on the design process," says Elena Kapintcheva, partner & designer with Elefant Design & Strategy. "Creating goals, conceptualizing, and execution."

The firm is currently comprised of two partners. However, it plans to hire three designers in January. It needs the extra help to aid in its growing workload coming from a broad range of customers, such as local restaurants and coastal non-profits.

"We definitely want to continue to grow," Kapintcheva says. "By hiring more talent we want to expand our design reach."

Source: Elena Kapintcheva, partner & designer with Elefant Design & Strategy
Writer: Jon Zemke

D:hive design director launches own firm, Good Done Daily


You could say Andy Kopietz is a victim of his own success.

Kopietz has been working as a designer in Detroit for the last several years, most recently as the design director for D:hive, an organization serving as a welcome and help center for all things Detroit. Earlier this fall, D:hive announced it was splitting into two different organizations, which meant neither one could afford its own design person.

"I'm kind of designing my way out of a job," Kopietz says. "I have been a designer for 10 years, and I felt it was a good time to make a change."

That change was founding his own design company, Good Done Daily. The boutique graphic design firm is working with a number of local organizations, including the New Economy Initiative, the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, Midtown Detroit Inc. (the branding work for Dlectricity), and the Hudson-Webber Foundation.

"It's been very challenging because I have a full-time design job (the D:hive split doesn't take place until January) and I have a full-time business," Kopietz says. "I have been trying to straddle that line the best way I can."

He wants to grow Good Done Daily into a business with an employee or two next year. He also wants to open a Good Done Daily studio.

"I have started to look at office space in the Jefferson-Chalmers area," Kopietz says.

Source: Andy Kopietz, principal of Good Done Daily
Writer: Jon Zemke

Grace in Action collectives provide job/skills training in Southwest Detroit

Grace in Action, a church based in southwest Detroit, is making a name for itself not only because of its religious activities, but also through a handful of collectives that are teaching Detroiters workforce and entrepreneurial skills.

The church, which aligns with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, has three collectives that help take both adults and young people to the next stage of their professional lives. The Accion Cleaning Cooperative is working with five adults to create careers in the cleaning industry. The Radical Production and Stitching up Detroit are working with youth to develop skills in a variety of design industries, along with other life skills.

"It's a big focus on the next chapter of life and where they want to go," says Meghan Sobocienski, director of Grace in Action. "Through that we are learning leadership and conflict resolution and time management skills and stuff like that."

The Radical Production collective focuses on teaching young people things like graphic and web design. A dozen teens are learning skills in each industry, along with how to handle the project management and workflow that go with it. The Stitching Up Detroit collective works with t-shirt design through a screen-printing workshop. So far 10 teens are working on it, participating in things like the Detroit Design Festival. One of the students, a 16-year-old, is also learning the basics so he can set up his own screen-printing shop.

"We want to expand each collective to about 15 people," Sobocienski says.

Source: Meghan Sobocienski, director of Grace in Action
Writer: Jon Zemke

Ali Sandifer grows custom furniture biz in Russell Industrial Center

Abir Ali believes a lot of architects end up designing furniture instead of buildings at one point or another in their careers for a simple reason.

"A lot of architects veer toward furniture for instant gratification," Ali says.

It's a significant reason why Ali and her husband Andre Sandifer launched their own custom furniture company, Ali Sandifer. Both are architects who appreciate the scale and size of furniture -- and how creating a piece of furniture can be done in the fraction of the time it takes to design a building.

The Russell Industrial Center-based business specializes in making minimalist furniture with clean, sleek lines that are reminiscent of mid-century moderne. The coffee tables, chairs, and benches are made of domestic hardwoods. Prices range from $1,200 to $5,400. You can check out examples of their furniture here.

"We both design very clean and simple furniture," Ali says.

Ali Sandifer has watched the demand jump for its furniture and its custom furniture commissions over the last year, so much so that the company is looking to streamline its Internet sales process and be more selective with its workload in 2015.

"We're trying to become more intentional about the work and clients we take on," Ali says.

Source: Abir Ali, co-owner & creative director of Ali Sandifer
Writer: Jon Zemke

Husband-and-wife team launches urban design firm, City Form Detroit

About a year ago, James Fidler left his job at a downtown Detroit-based architecture firm to launch his own urban design company, City Form Detroit. This summer, his wife is joining the growing business.

"It was time for us to have new challenges and pursue some projects we are interested in," says Virginia Stanard, co-principal of City Form Detroit. "The timing was just right."

Stanard worked as the director of urban design at the University of Detroit Mercy’s Detroit Collaborative Design Center until this month. Now she is leaving that post to join Fidler, her husband, as co-principal of City Form Detroit. The downtown Detroit-based company specializes in providing urban design services, such as strategic planning and design guidelines, among others.

City Form Detroit's early projects include design and implementation work on Grand Circus Park. Stanard, Fidler, and their one employee are working on other similar projects in both downtown and out in the Detroit’s neighborhoods.

"We want to continue to contribute to the growth of greater downtown and the neighborhoods," Stanard says. "We want to make the city a better place to live and play."

Source: Virginia Stanard, co-principal of City Form Detroit
Writer: Jon Zemke

Kraemer Design Group creates 10 jobs as Detroit work grows

Kraemer Design Group is returning to its core business over the last year by taking on more renovation design work in downtown Detroit.

"We have half a dozen projects in Capitol Park alone that we are working on," says Bob Kraemer, principal of Kraemer Design Group.

Among those projects are the rehabs of the Detroit Savings & Bank Building and the Farwell Building.

The 17-year-old architecture firm has made it mark doing design work for a number of high-profile renovations in downtown Detroit, such as the Broderick Tower and The Lofts at Merchant Row. The downtown Detroit-based firm took a hit during the recession and construction practically ground to a halt, forcing it to take on more out-of-state work in the hospitality industry, including designing hotels.

Kraemer Design Group has rebounded with the economy and taken on an increasing share of work in the Motor City’s center. Among its more recent projects are the David Whitney Building overlooking Grand Circus Park and The Auburn in Midtown.

"We definitely see ourselves incredibly busy for the next couple of years," Kraemer says.

The increase in conctracts has allowed Kraemer Design Group to grow its staff. The firm has hired six people over the last year, expanding its staff to 28 employees and two summer interns. It is also looking to hire four more design professionals right now.

Source: Bob Kraemer, principal of Kraemer Design Group
Writer: Jon Zemke

Arotech hires 11 in Ann Arbor, looks to add another 5

Arotech's staff in Ann Arbor has been on the upswing in recent years and is continuing to trend skyward.

The Ann Arbor-based defense firm has grown its staff from 125 people at the end of 2012 to 136 employees a year later. Today it has a staff of 147 employees and a few interns, adding 11 jobs in engineering and technicians. It's also looking to hire another three engineers and two more technicians.

Arotech has enjoyed 20 percent year-over-year revenue growth since 2010, and the company's sales continue to spike. "We did hit a new high-water mark for revenues," says Kurt Flosky, executive vice president of Arotech's Training & Simulation Division.

Arotech provides simulation software to a number of defense and similar organizations, such as raining and use-of-force simulation for municipal law enforcement agencies. It has also completed 26 of the 28 sets of a suite of simulations for the U.S. Army that helps soldiers train to find and disarm improvised explosive devices. It also has started to deliver its first simulations products for a contract with the U.S. Air Force that trains soldiers how to operate mid-flight refueling booms.

"That is the first of 17 boom arm simulators to be delivered," Flosky says.

Source: Kurt Flosky, executive vice president of Arotech Training & Simulation Division
Writer: Jon Zemke

Hile Creative creates more work, jobs with biz model pivot

Hile Creative made a name for itself as Hile Design up until about nine months ago. That was when the Ann Arbor-based company pivoted its business plan away from project-oriented work and more toward branding, giving itself a new name in the process.

"Now we're more geared toward helping companies establish their brand," says Dave Hile, founder & president of Hile Creative. "That was a good move for us."

The 30-year-old company has hired three people in the last year, expanding its staff to a dozen employees. It is looking at adding interns this summer.

The extra staff has allowed Hile Creative to capitalize on its growth. The firm has watched its animation work spike recently. Hile Creative handles all of its animation work internally so it means more and more work for the Ann Arbor-based creative agency.

"We're becoming increasingly visual as a people," Hile says. "If you can come up with creative concepts visually people will get it."

Source: Dave Hile, founder & president of Hile Creative
Writer: Jon Zemke

Ghostly International leverages partnerships for growth

Ghostly International, the ambient music label, has taken advantage of its growth opportunities this year through a number of partnerships with other creative-based firms.

The Ann Arbor-based firm, it calls the Tech Brewery home, has hired one full-time employee and another part-timer over the last year. It currently has a staff of 11 employees across the company’s five divisions and in other cities, such as New York City and Los Angeles.

Driving the growth for the firm has been partnerships on a variety of projects. For instance, Ghostly International teamed up with Warby Parker to create a Ghostly International brand of sunglasses. You can check out a video about the partnership here.

Ghostly International is also partnering with Honeyslug Games to create the soundtrack for the Hohokum video game for PlayStation. The team at Honeyslug Games approached Ghostly International with a music playlist in mind for the video game and it turned out to be all Ghostly International songs.

"We will have an entire soundtrack for that surrounding the release," says Jeremy Peters, director of creative licensing & business affairs for Ghostly Songs, a division of Ghostly International. "They have been awesome to work with."

Ghostly International is also still releasing electronic music. It is release the new album for Tyco, Awake, this week. You can more information on the new album here, including its first single Spectre.

Source: Jeremy Peters, director of creative licensing & business affairs for Ghostly International
Writer: Jon Zemke
17 Design/Technical Services Articles | Page: | Show All
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