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Founders

Company

Greenfield Partners

Ann Arbor, MI 48104

Ben Rye

What educational, entrepreneurial or business development programs, if any, have you taken advantage of?
The Ross School of Business provided me with a sound base of fundamental business knowledge which I have leveraged during my time with Greenfield Partners. Overseeing the operations of four businesses through the recession of 2008 and 2009 has provided invaluable lessons that I will carry with me for the rest of my career.

Who was your first customer and where did you find them?
Great Lakes Die Cast Corporation, located in Muskegon, was a company that I had the opportunity to assist in turning around its business early in my time with Greenfield. The company suffered greatly as a result of the recession. I was able to leverage the Greenfield Partners network to provide new sales connections for the company. These new leads allowed them to diversify their customer base from primarily automotive to include additional lighting and furniture. The combination of an increased focus on cost management and the inflow of new business proved a winning combination. The company is still a Greenfield Partners customer and is profitable.

Where did you find your first employee?
University of Michigan Dearborn. We have since hired a number of U-M Ross School of Business alumni.

Have you promoted an intern to employee status, and if so how many times have you done it?
We have promoted interns to fulltime employees in the past.

Where have you turned to find capital to grow your company and which institutions have provided it?
We have received lines of credit from Wells Fargo, Comerica, Fifth Third, and Private Bank. We have also participated with a number of different private investors over the years in both Private Equity investments and loans within the Greenfield Partners portfolio.

What could local leaders do to help attract and retain more entrepreneurial young people to Metro Detroit?
Better facilitation of fund raising efforts by young entrepreneurs would certainly help. Funding is an essential piece of the equation and often young entrepreneurs do not have the network to raise capital for their business.

If you could change one thing about this region, what would it be?
The state could benefit from a more business friendly tax structure.



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