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Ann Arbor-based reversible baby bottle launches

After a couple of years of designing, fundraising, and testing, the brothers behind Ann Arbor-based Flipsi Bottle have launched Flipsi Baby, a baby bottle that can be turned inside out for easy cleaning.

The bottle is also designed with a natural nipple shape to help transition babies from breastfeeding to bottles, and it features flexible, food-grade silicone sides that collapse inward while feeding to minimize air intake and help prevent colic. Flipsi cofounder and chief technology officer Jeff Plott and brother, CEO, and co-founder Chris Plott originally conceived their product as a reversible sport bottle, but pivoted to focus on a baby bottle design in 2014.

The Plotts have had an eventful 2016 leading up to the launch. That included winning an Innovation Fund grant from Macomb Community College and a Business Accelerator grant from Ann Arbor SPARK.

"This funding provided the last push we needed to kick off the bottle’s mass production," Jeff Plott says.

Next came extensive quality testing for choking hazards and harmful substances in build materials. The bottle passed all required testing.

Flipsi Baby has been available at Flipsi's website and through Amazon since mid-October, and Plott says user reviews and feedback have been overwhelmingly positive so far.

"One thing that really sticks out from the initial feedback is that babies who had refused other bottles seem to really latch onto the Flipsi Baby right away due to the natural shape," Plott says. "We are extremely pleased to hear how much parents and babies love our bottle."

Video game development incubator to launch in Ypsi

A new business incubator meant to foster video game development in the Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti area will launch Jan. 19, with an introductory meetup at SPARK East in downtown Ypsi.

Organizer Larry Kuperman says the short-term goal for the collaboration between Meetup group A2 Game Designers and SPARK is to offer monthly meetings for developers to network, collaborate, and get advice from industry players working in the area already.

"Initially we're looking to create a shared space with developers, including students, and exchange ideas and practices," Kuperman says.

Local game studios currently include PC game maker Revival Productions and mobile games maker Gaudium in Ann Arbor, as well as PC game producer Stardock in Plymouth. Gaudium cofounder David Cai will speak at next week's meeting.

In the long term, Kuperman hopes to help launch and grow startups that can tap into the region's venture capital resources and make connections with other sectors.

"Whether it's an auto manufacturer saying, 'Hey, we want you guys to design a game-oriented technology we can use for our cars,' or the university says, 'We're looking for people to design educational games,' that's what I see in our future," he says.

Kuperman, an Ann Arbor resident, is director of business development for Nightdive Studios, a Portland, Ore.-based company that specializes in re-releasing and remaking classic video games. He says gaming's low startup and overhead costs make it an attractive industry.

"A games development studio can be one to two guys with a laptop, if you're thinking about mobile games development," Kuperman says. "Some of those monetize really, really well, when you think about the return on investment."

Kuperman's motivation is partly personal. His adult children moved out of state after college to pursue careers in tech and nursing, and he sees no reason students in any of the gaming programs offered at nearby colleges and universities shouldn't be able to find employment or set up shop here after school if they want to.

"These bright graduates come out of school, and there isn't any place for them to go to work in this area, so they gravitate to San Francisco, to Seattle, to New York, and I want to change that," he says.

Flash Delivery partnership to bring Eastern Market's Red Truck Produce to your door

Later this month, Detroiters can go online, select from an array of fresh fruits, vegetables, prepared foods, and made-in-Michigan favorites, and, with a few clicks, have their order delivered directly to their home or workplace, thanks to a partnership between Eastern Market’s Red Truck Fresh Produce and Flash Delivery.
 
With a projected launch date of Nov. 15, Flash Delivery could help customers get turkey, stuffing, and sweet potatoes on the table by Thanksgiving.
 
The exclusive deal is a coup for Flash Delivery, the two-year-old Detroit startup led by entrepreneurs Ericka Billingslea and Tatiana Grant.
 
Better than planned
As a growth objective, the team sought a relationship with a regional chain like Meijer or Kroger, but when negotiations didn't materialize, Billingslea and Grant redoubled their efforts to strike a deal closer to home, and found a partnership that is more in line with their business ethos.
 
"To be honest, we were turned down by Meijer and Kroger, and a couple of years ago we attempted to get this off the ground, and it fizzled out and we never revisited the concept," Grant says of initial hopes with Eastern Market.
 
She re-pitched Eastern Market—this time with success. "We had an impromptu meeting, and they said this is something we might be able to get to work," Grant says.
 
It works for the bottom line too. Red Truck Fresh Produce staff will receive and package the orders for Flash Delivery drivers to collect and deliver, increasing profitability and efficiency over having drivers "shop" the orders on behalf of customers, Grant says.
 
A learning curve
The big picture focused quickly, but finer points required additional work, delaying the launch by a couple of months, Grant says.
 
"From a software perspective, we had issues synching the two systems," she says. Unlike their restaurant meal delivery service, which initiates with customer contact at Flash Delivery’s website, grocery delivery will begin from Red Truck Fresh Produce. This will be seamless to customers, as they will still begin their order at Flash Delivery's site.
 
"At the present we will be sending people to a specific URL," Grant says. "When the order comes in, [Red Truck] will send it to us, which is the reverse of how we started. This process makes it easier from a partnership perspective. We just get a notification, and we send it right over to our driver's phone."
 
Grant and Billingslea also conducted research to outfit their drivers' vehicles to best accommodate groceries.
 
"We settled on a combination of plastic crates and mesh containers, which keep things separated and upright," Grant says. "We also have coolers for things that need to stay cold," Grant says.
 
A wider customer demographic
Red Truck Fresh Produce, owned jointly by Eastern Market Corp. and the Warren-based Community Growth Partnership, accepts Electronic Benefits Transfer, or EBT, payments. Grant says this creates opportunity for Flash Delivery to reach customers happy to save time and taxi fare by having their EBT-qualified purchases delivered.
 
"This will expose us to a further demographic that we couldn’t serve before. It's a win-win for both of us because we have been looking for a grocery partner and Red Truck will increase their sales volume," says Grant, adding that future growth will likely include business-to-business deliveries of fresh produce to area restaurants.
 
Just the right step
With Flash Delivery, Southeast Michigan Eastern Market fans can shop local, even when life gets busy and weather is uncooperative, Grant says.
 
"We are looking forward to giving people an Eastern Market experience direct to their door," Grant says. Customers can even take advantage of fresh, custom-designed meal ingredients, complete with chef-designed recipes already available in the store.
 
"Of course we were bummed when we were unable to move forward with regional and national companies," Grant says. "But the majority of our customers are pro-Michigan and pro-Detroit and for them to be able to get locally sourced fresh foods and Michigan-made products, it made more sense for us. We are looking forward to being able to tout that as well."
 
Claire Charlton is a Metro Detroit freelance writer. Connect with her on FacebookInstagram, or Twitter.

Detroit nonprofit launches footwear line manufactured by local veterans

It's been nearly two years since a chance meeting on the streets of downtown Detroit left Jarret Schlaff inspired and searching for a way to help empower homeless veterans. What resulted is Boots on the Ground, the nonprofit arm of Pingree Manufacturing. The boot-making organization employs and benefits veterans, focusing on worker well-being rather than profit margins.

After months of wrangling designs and logistics, Schlaff and his line of multipurpose urban utility boots, Boots on the Ground, opened its first round of pre-sales on FridayVeterans Day. With only 500 pairs available and around 2,000 orders already pledged, the first round of boots should go fast. Luckily for those interested in purchasing a pair, a successful first round of sales means that Boots on the Ground will be able to keep manufacturing and selling their boots well into the future.

Schlaff started Boots on the Groundand its parent company, Pingree Manufacturing, named after former Detroit Mayor Hazen S. Pingreeout of a desire to address the difficulties many U.S. veterans face in finding employment. Currently in its beginning stages, Boots on the Ground employs two veterans on a part-time basis; more opportunities for employment will open up as the non-profit grows. All of the boot material is made in the United States, including many Detroit-made materials, and the ultimate goal is for all of the materials to be made in Detroit and in a sustainable way.

The idea for Boots on the Ground arose out of a chance encounter. Schlaff was walking around downtown Detroit when he got in a conversation with a veteran seeking employment. Though he may have been homeless, that veteran was more than qualified for employment, possessing a master's degree in engineering. Inspired by their meeting, Schlaff decided he would help that man and others like him.

"We want to create these jobs, we want to create employment for veterans. What can be handmade, what can we make? And I literally said this in a conversation, I said, what can be the boots on the ground in Detroit?" Schlaff says, snapping his fingers as the thought is triggered. "And then I said: boots."

Armed with good intentions but a lack of know-how, Schlaff began to research manufacturing boots. He was told it couldn't be done. Production would have to occur abroad if they were going to keep the boots affordable. But thanks to some helpful partnerships along the way, Schlaff figured out how to make Boots on the Ground happen. He put about $10,000 to $15,000 of his own savings and an additional $15,000 from donations into the project, he says. Schlaff estimates that Boots on the Ground has also received nearly $250,000 in in-kind services.

In starting Boots on the Ground, Schlaff says he's encountered a chicken-and-egg scenario. While there's been plenty of interest in the concept, Schlaff hasn't had the funds to get it off the ground. He's turned away investors because he doesn't want to give away equity and control. Also, investors haven't been incredibly interested in a worker-owned company that puts the emphasis on employee well-being over profit margins.

So Schlaff figured out a way to do it himself. Once the first round of 500 boots sell, Schlaff will take that money and operate Boots on the Ground full time, moving into a manufacturing facility connected to the Avalon Bakery building on Bellevue Street.

Instead of investors, it's been local partnerships that have helped Boots on the Ground get up and running. A storage facility in Pontiac has donated space. A retired engineer from Chrysler with a passion for shoes and a workshop in his basement offered his assistance. Southwest Solutions, Michigan Veterans Foundation, and local VFW halls are among those who have partnered with the organization. Bates Footwear of Rockford has acted as a sort of mentor, and without asking for anything in return.

"How do we find a way? It's allowing for the best kind of collaboration, which is that relationships are our main currency. It's been a lot of volunteers, a lot of people seeing an opportunity to support our work without necessarily a return on funds," says Schlaff.

"We've gotten where we are because of the relationships we've built. It's inspiring."
 
Name and title: Jarret A. Schlaff, co-founder and CEO Pingree Mfg & Project Boots on the Ground

Years business has been open: 2

What is one interesting job you held before owning/running your own biz: In 2009 I worked for Sen. Carl Levin in Detroit supporting veterans with their disability claims. I was introduced to the maze called the VA that veterans have to navigate and fight through to get the support they deserve.   

Favorite book: It's a tie between Ishmael by Daniel Quinn and 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John C. Maxwell 

Advice for new non-profits: Anything is possible. Remind yourself at least once a day what you're committed to and what's possible because of you and your team's unique contribution. Embrace relationships as your primary currency and since we're all in this together, seek out opportunities to amplify the people, groups, and organizations around you doing good work without expecting anything in return.

Build/Create Studios adds staff, sharpens marketing services

With expanded services and staff to support its clients' digital marketing needs, the team at Ann Arbor's Build/Create Studios feels poised to plant a firmer foothold in the web design and development market.
 
The firm has committed itself to beefing up its digital marketing services this year, introducing automation software from SharpSpring and hiring Matthew Perkins as its first director of marketing. According to cofounder Ian Wilson, the investment is paying off.
 
"It’s been an exciting year … and [it] has added the need for additional marketing help that we’re trying to attract to help solidify future growth," Wilson says.
 
Founded as a two-person operation in 2010 by designer/coder Wilson and business/client manager Eric Lynch, the company has grown to a staff of six. It offers web design, web development, digital marketing, and search engine optimization services in the WordPress platform.
 
According to Wilson, SharpSpring's software works along with Build/Create's inbound marketing and SEO efforts to track site visitors, quantify their value, and automate "the lead nurturing process."
 
While other tools like SharpSpring are available—HubSpot and Marketo, to name two—Wilson says SharpSpring offers a few advantages.
 
"First, it is easy to use while also being incredibly robust," he says. "Secondly, the monthly cost is about one quarter the cost of competitors."
 
And SharpSpring is only sold through agencies, which gives Build/Create an additional advantage.
 
"A reasonably priced, competitive product that gives businesses the data they need to make smart sales and marketing decisions is an easy pitch to make," he says.
 
With the new business Perkins has helped generate, Wilson says the company is looking to fill out its marketing team with new hires who can build SharpSpring workflows, execute email marketing campaigns, consult on SEO and paid media, and complement the studio's existing strengths.
 
"Having the development chops to integrate our tracking and marketing automation software into existing website and business processes is a major asset, and something we are very proud of," Wilson says.

Downtown co-working space to double in size, eyes big future

The Bamboo Detroit co-working space downtown is focused on the growth of its tenants, providing facilities, resources, and programming to freelancers and startups alike.

That commitment has resulted in the company's own expansion. Bamboo recently announced a new location twice the size of their current one at 1442 Brush St., growing from 3,000 to 6,000 square feet of co-working facilities and more.

Come January 2017, Bamboo will open its doors on the third floor of the historic Julian C. Madison building at 1420 Washington Blvd. Construction is currently underway.

The new Bamboo location will count 20 dedicated desks, seven private offices, and three conference rooms among its new features. The private offices are in direct response to customers' needs, co-owner Amanda Lewan says. The current location doesn't offer private offices, a fact that Lewan says led to a loss of potential tenants.

The top floor of the new location boasts a loft-style events space, something Bamboo will use for job fairs and other pro-business programs. Also planned is a large cafe area, complete with coffee and snacks. In April, Bamboo won a $30,000 Motor City Match grant to help build the cafe.

"Be really clear about what you need; have a really clear budget," Lewan says to future Motor City Match applicants. "It might not be perfect, you might still be playing around with it as you get close to the end, but if you have a really clear plan, people can get on board with it."

The company believes that the expansion will result in significantly more tenants, with Bamboo expecting the amount to grow from the current count of 120 to 300 tenants. 

Bamboo currently has a pop-up co-working space at MASH Detroit on the city's east side. Lewan says Bamboo may one day have multiple co-working sites throughout the city and its neighborhoods.

Henry Ford Health System chooses Ann Arbor-based software to manage clinical trials

Research pharmacists at Detroit's Henry Ford Health System should soon be able to spend more time supporting clinical trials of cutting-edge drugs and less time pushing paper thanks to automation software from Ann Arbor's McCreadie Group.

The research hospital recently chose McCreadie's Vestigo system to manage its Investigational Drug Service (IDS) for clinical trials as it looks to increase its number of active studies over the next few years.

HFHS spokesperson Brenda Craig says an initiative to expand the hospital pharmacy's offerings, and a new cancer center planned to open in 2018, will drive the uptick in clinical trials.

"Vestigo is a necessary tool for that expansion," Craig says. "[It] will increase efficiency through the use of automation for many of the day-to-day activities in our [IDS], including dispensing, drug accountability, and revenue generation."

While Vestigo had all the functionality the hospital was looking for, not having to look very far for it didn't hurt. Craig says McCreadie's close proximity to Henry Ford made it easier to talk about the project and see the system in action.

"We have also collaborated with the McCreadie Group for other systems in the past and have maintained a great working relationship with them," she says.

Launched in 2005, Vestigo is a web-based software designed specifically for hospital pharmacies that do clinical research trials. By providing a standardized workflow, simple user tools, and accurate data collection, Vestigo automates labor-intensive processes and helps keep pharmacies compliant with regulations. And since Vestigo is a web-based application, there's no hardware or software to maintain.

Henry Ford Health System is McCreadie Group's second Michigan client for Vestigo; the first was the University of Michigan Health System. Vestigo is used by more than 70 clients nationwide.

Michael Schlesselman, McCreadie Group's director of research products, says Vestigo will provide HFHS with flexibility and efficiency as it grows its pharmacy program and involvement with clinical trials.

"It allows the hospital pharmacy to focus on providing great service to the clinical research team and patient rather than manually completing required paperwork," he says.

Grooming company to return to Detroit, open barbershop in Corktown

Detroit Grooming Co. is returning to its namesake city. The company, which outgrew a small production space on Fort Street in Detroit, had since established itself in Ferndale, with both a larger production facility and, most recently, a Woodward Avenue barbershop.

At a private event for friends and family, the team behind Detroit Grooming Co. announced that they would be opening a second barbershop, this one on Michigan Avenue in Detroit's Corktown neighborhood. The owners hope for a late 2016 or early 2017 opening in 2000 Michigan Ave., a building currently undergoing extensive renovations.

Detroit Grooming Co. co-owner and CEO Michael Haddad says a return to Detroit is important for the company. While it's a great business opportunity to open a new barbershop in development-crazed Corktown, Haddad says it's also a goal to re-establish a presence in the city for which it takes its name.

Haddad started the company in 2013, developing his own blend of beard oil. When Detroit Grooming Co. launched, it had four products; today, it has over 200 personal care and beauty products. Though the company started in the beard oil business, it has since expanded to products for both men and women, from mustache wax to hand soap, hair pomade to combs and brushes.

5 tips for growing a startup with Rocket Fiber's Marc Hudson

In the last three years, Rocket Fiber co-founder Marc Hudson has expanded an admittedly precarious and bold pitch for a high-speed internet venture into a successful, rapidly expanding Detroit startup in the face of major, multimillion-dollar competitors.
 
Hudson first pitched the idea for Rocket Fiber in 2013 while working as a software engineer for Quicken Loans. He says he thought of the idea while reading an article on Google Fiber in Kansas City, and the subsequent influx of technology and entrepreneurship following the launch.
 
Hudson says a light bulb went on, thinking it could be a "game changer" for Detroit. He pitched the idea through the Cheese Factory, Quicken Loans' internal ideas website where employees are encouraged to pitch concepts big or small that could improve the company.
 
This idea was definitely big and quickly caught the eye of Dan Gilbert, who backed the project financially.
 
The gigabit internet connection, which launched commercially in January, is 1,000 times faster than the average residential connection. The service is currently being used both homes and businesses in Detroit.
 
"Since January, we've been lighting buildings all over the central business district," Hudson says.
 
So far, Rocket Fiber has put down over 20 miles of fiber optic cable in Detroit. Various residential buildings in downtown and Midtown such as the Willy's Overland Lofts, Cadillac Square Apartments, and the Forest Arms Apartments already have Rocket Fiber connections available.
 
Hudson says Rocket Fiber is actively working to expand farther into Midtown, Brush Park, and New Center. They recently connected their first commercial customer in Corktown, as well.
 
“In 2017, we'll be setting our sights even bigger than just the downtown area," Hudson says. "We've always said that we want to expand, we want to grow, and we think there's a lot of opportunity to continue to build this company and network in the city of Detroit." 
 
Although solid plans aren't in place yet, Hudson says he hopes to eventually bring Rocket Fiber into the suburbs.
 
Beyond physical expansion, the company plans to soon break into the cable market, providing HDTV cable channels and on-demand services.
 
"We're still trying to work the bugs out," Hudson says. "TV is actually pretty hard to do, it's actually harder to do than the internet." Still, he says announcements regarding the new service will be made in the "not too distant future."
 
Hudson will be the keynote speaker at Southeast Michigan Startup's High Growth Happy Hour starting at 6 p.m. at Cafe Con Leche in Detroit. There will be time for networking and drinks, a casual chat and Q&A. The event is free, but advance tickets are required. Hudson will highlight Rocket Fiber's expansions and how the company has scaled an innovative tech startup across the city. To encourage this sort of growth from other ventures, Hudson has shared five of his tips for growing an innovative startup in the city.
 
Have partners
"I've been involved in a bunch of different startups, pretty much since I was in college, high school even," Hudson says. "One of the big difference makers for me in this startup environment was having partners. I tried to do a lot of it alone in the past, and it doesn't matter how well-rounded you are, there's always going to be some skill set that you just don't have."
 
Don't just have partners—have good partners
"For me, having Edi and Randy as my partners has been a huge part of the success of the Rocket Fiber story," Hudson says of Edi Demaj and Randy Foster. "They were the ones that we showing up, and doing things, and following through, and not just saying they were interested but showing they were interested. … So, to me, it's one thing if someone shows interest but if they actually jump in and roll their sleeves up and start building with you, that's a pretty good indicator that they want to be around for a while."
 
Trust the partners you put in place as you grow
"As a founder of a company, you have a vision, you have a dream, you have an idea and you want to do everything," Hudson says. "As you grow, you really have to trust in the people you put in place to pick things up for you because you can't be everywhere at all times. You have to have people you can trust to take and run with things. And you as a founder, a manager of those people, you need to be able to let go sometimes and let them go and build things. It might not be the exact same way that you would have done it, but that's OK."
 
Persevere
"Perseverance is one [tip] that is talked about a lot but is still understated," Hudson says. "There are so many times when this project, this idea, could have died along the way for different reasons. It was all about just rolling up our sleeves and just understanding, in our case, that this project was so important for the city of Detroit and for our organization that we weren't going to let the normal things that get in the way slow us down."
 
Ignore the noise
"We have a saying within our organization which is, 'Ignore the noise.' I think there's a lot of noise out there when you're building a business. It's other people trying to do something similar, it's your competitors dropping press releases, it's the naysayers telling you it can't be done. At the end of the day, it's really about putting the blinders on, focusing straight ahead on you, on your business, your dream, your vision, and shutting everything else out."
 
Lexi Trimpe is a freelance writer living and working in Detroit. You can find her on Twitter @LexiTrimpe or on Instagram @thewestvillageidiot.

Bank of Ann Arbor expands to Oakland County with merger

The Bank of Ann Arbor is acquiring the Bank of Birmingham, a move that will serve as the growing local bank’s expansion into Oakland County.

Bank of Ann Arbor is paying approximately $33.3 million to Bank of Birmingham shareholders as part of the deal. The merged banks will continue under the Bank of Ann Arbor brand with $2.5 billion in assets at eight branches. employees. All of the 225 employees from both banks will be retained during the merger.

"We are working hand-in-hand together," says Tim Marshall, president and CEO of Bank of Ann Arbor.

Marshall expects the banks to spend the next 12-15 months working on assimilating the two workforces together. He adds that it helps that both banks have similar work cultures and that they use the same core processing system.

This represents the Bank of Ann Arbor's third acquisition in the last six years. Bank of Ann Arbor acquired the former New Liberty Bank in Plymouth in 2010 and UniFi Equipment Finance in Ann Arbor in 2013. The Bank of Birmingham, which only has a branch in Birmingham, will serve as Bank of Ann Arbor's introduction to the Oakland County market. Marshall doesn't expect Bank of Ann Arbor to make any other acquisitions in the near future.

"It's really too early to make that sort of decision," Marshall says. "We want to focus on closing this transaction flawlessly."

Bank of Ann Arbor has carved out a niche for itself as a local bank as demand for local banking surged after the financial crisis of 2008. Bank of Ann Arbor moved to fill that void by serving both people and businesses. It had grown its overall assets to $2.2 billion before the new merger with Bank of Birmingham, with 185 employees at seven branches in Washtenaw and western Wayne counties.

Marshall expects that sort of local-first philosophy to drive growth at the bank for the foreseeable future.

"We're just going to continue to emphasize that at every opportunity," Marshall says. "We have enjoyed a lot of success, and there is a lot more success on the horizon for us."

Automation Alley makes investments, adds firms to 7Cs program

Automation Alley added a handful of startups into its fold in the second quarter of this year through both investments and additions to its business-building programs.

The Troy-based technology business association invested $22,000 into QuipzOR, a Bloomfield Hills-based startup that enables pre-surgical collaboration between hospitals, physicians and surgical device company representatives. Its services includes a remote surgical device support platform and a surgery scheduling app that eliminates unnecessary foot traffic in operating rooms, reduces the risk of infections, liabilities and costs associated with onsite support.

This is Automation Alley's second investment in QuipzOR. It originally invested $25,000 in it last December when it joined Automation Alley's 7Cs program. This latest investment will help QuipzOR launch a pilot program at a local surgery center.

Automation Alley also admitted a couple more companies to its 7Cs program, which helps local entrepreneurs accelerate the commercialization of their products, services and technologies. The startups added include ShapeLog and Vanderplaats Research and Development. ShapeLog is based in Ann Arbor and helps bring data analytics to gyms, hospitals, trainers and athletes by offering cloud-connected gym equipment and supporting fitness software.

Vanderplaats Research and Development, which is based in Novi, creates software that enables engineers and scientists to efficiently analyze, design and improve structures and processes in the automotive, aerospace and energy industries.

"We develop optimization software for engineering design," says Juan Pablo Leiva, president and COO of Vanderplaats Research & Development. "We plan to grow the company by following Automation Alley's advice.”

Cambridge Consulting Group moves to downtown Royal Oak

A move from Troy to Royal Oak is part of insurance and financial services consulting firm Cambridge Consulting Group's efforts to develop a company culture that encourages its employees to have a passion for its projects.

The idea is to create an environment where the employees want to make a big difference for the firm’s clients through their work.

"It's something we have pushed for a while," says Dan Cornwell, CEO of Cambridge Consulting Group. "It's really resonating with our team."

Making a move to a dynamic city center like downtown Royal Oak is a significant part of the development of that culture. Cambridge Consulting Group's leadership believes being in a cool environment like downtown Royal Oak will help inspire passion in its employees and be a better work environment overall.

"A walkable, vibrant downtown definitely resonates with our team now," Cornwell says. "It will also help with our recruiting because it’s what the next generation wants."

Cambridge Consulting Group got its start in Troy in 1985. It has since grown to a staff of 60 employees, including 10 new hires over the last year. It has leased 20,000 square feet at 400 W Fourth St. It is creating an open, collaborative office space that is expects to move into in August. The new space also comes with a little room to grow.

"We think we can add 25 additional people to it," Cornwell says.

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

After leading the city through bankruptcy, Jones Day grows its Detroit office

White-shoe law firm Jones Day made a splash in early 2015 when it announced plans to open an office in Detroit after successfully guiding the city through municipal bankruptcy. A year later, the growth of the firm's Detroit business has led Jones Day to lease 25,000 square feet in the 150 W. Jefferson Building in downtown Detroit.
 
"Over the last year we have built the personnel from three lawyers to 10," says Tim Melton, partner in charge of Jones Day Detroit.

In addition to its 10 staff attorneys, Jones Day's Detroit office employs two full-time support staff and hosts a steady rotation of legal personnel from the multinational firm's other offices.

"We have enough space for 25 lawyers," Melton says. "The expectation is we will have that many lawyers by 2018."

Based in Cleveland, Jones Day has 43 offices around the world. The law firm made a name for itself locally when it helped shepherd Detroit through municipal bankruptcy in 2013. One of its partners, Kevin Orr, left the practice to serve as Detroit emergency financial manager during that time. He eventually rejoined Jones Day after the city exited bankruptcy.

The law firm opened a Detroit office last year to help better serve its clients in the area. Melton declined to discuss its current roster of local clientele but did say the firm has been adding new clients and new work from existing clients over the last year.

"We're starting to do work with more companies on the automotive side and other large businesses that are headquartered here or have large operations in Detroit," Melton says.

Source: Tim Melton, partner in charger of Jones Day Detroit
Writer: Jon Zemke

Reliance One hires 15 as it expands across Midwest

Reliance One has become a staple in the staffing business in Michigan over its 16 years.

The Auburn Hills-based company is now working toward expanding that reputation, opening a new office in Chicago this winter.

"We have clients in that market and clients we currently have locally have offices in Chicago," says Jim Beath, co-founder & chairman of Reliance One. "We need to continue that relationship with our clients."

The company has grown significantly over the last few years, notching a double-digit revenue gain in 2014. It’s on pace to do it again this year. That growth has allowed the company to hire 15 people over the last year, including recruiters, administrative, and back office support staff. It now has a staff of 65 employees and an intern. It is also looking to hire four more recruiters and promote more people internally.

"We added a lot of great people that have learned a lot about our company and our industry," Beath says.

Source: Jim Beath, co-founder & chairman of Reliance One
Writer: Jon Zemke

Corrigan Moving Systems looks to hire 200 people this spring

Career opportunities at Corrigan Moving Systems will abound this spring as the moving firm begins to go on a hiring spree.

The Farmington Hills-based company is hiring 200 people this spring to help with the moving season this summer and fall. Most of the hires are for laborers and drivers who work on a part-time basis. Think college students or young people fresh out of high school.

"Every summer we hire a lot of part-time people," says David Corrigan, president of Corrigan Moving Systems. "That's what we’re doing again this summer."

Those part-time positions are often just summer jobs for young people. However, Corrigan says about 10 percent of those people who take the summer jobs parlay those into full-time gigs for the moving company. In years past that meant about a dozen jobs, but the company's recent growth spurt means there are even more opportunities for advancement this year.

"Our business has been growing so we need more than we used to," Corrigan says. "We only needed 100-110 a year ago. This year we need every one of 200 people."

For information on the new positions, click here or email a resume to [email protected]  

Source: David Corrigan, president of Corrigan Moving Systems
Writer: Jon Zemke
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