| Follow Us: Facebook Twitter

News

3043 Articles | Page: | Show All

Massage Mechanics expands footprint, adds five new workers in Depot Town

Make no mistake, Massage Mechanics is not a spa. And that is working for them. The Depot Town business has been operating since 2011, and during that time it has grown from a 225 square foot space employing only the two owners to a 1,000 square foot operation with seven massage therapists. 

"Our big tagline is, 'We are not a spa.' We don't have the extras or do the fluff an buff massage," says Andrea Gruber, who owns Massage Mechanics with partner Becky Smith. "We're here to provide excellent quality therapeutic work to our area. We really want to help people and be a staple, not a luxury item. 

That means they can keep their prices affordable to those they feel need massage the most — working class people who are often on their feet or sitting at desks all day. That attitude has served them well. They moved from their original location more than two years ago into a larger space across Cross St., and this spring, expanded that 700 square foot space to accommodate even more growth. Since that time, they've added five additional massage contractors to their business. 

Smith and Gruber plan to continue the growth of Massage Mechanics with the same philosophy that had led to their current success: listening to the needs of the community. 

"Ultimately we want to keep growing as the customer base allows," Gruber says. "Every so often we look at the world around us to see that it needs."

Source: Andrea Gruber and Becky Smith, Massage Mechanics
Writer: Natalie Burg

Eagle Ottawa invests $10M into Rochester Hills tech center

Eagle Ottawa is investing $10 million in expanding its tech center in Rochester Hills.

The Auburn Hills-based automotive supplier employs 150 at its headquarters and another 160 people at its tech center. That number will rise at its tech center after the expansion project is complete.

"We see growth in the employment there," says Brad Jackson, spokesman for Eagle Ottawa. "We are making room for 50 more employees."

Eagle Ottawa is an automotive supplier that specializes in leather work. It is 150 years old and has grown its revenue by 18 percent over the last year. It has had a 25-percent compounded annual growth rate since 2011.

The firm has invested $75 million in global innovation initiatives and resources including design, R&D and marketing. Its $10 million expansion in Rochester Hills is part of that. The project will expand the building to 16,500 square feet to accommodate more prototyping and validation work. There will also be a new customer co-creation center aimed at empowering customers to ideate, prototype and validate their inspirations.

"Eagle Ottawa is committed to research and development and continually investing in its development," Jackson says.

Source: Brad Jackson, spokesman for Eagle Ottawa
Writer: Jon Zemke

InfoReady hits 800 percent growth in three years

InfoReady recently won one of Ann Arbor SPARK's FastTrack Business Awards, which recognizes local companies with 20 percent annual average growth over three years. Except the Ann Arbor tech startup's growth numbers are much bigger.

The 4-year-old firm has closed 800 percent revenue growth over the last years. Sales of its research grant writing and management software continue to take off as the company grows beyond Michigan.

"Most of that growth has come from more than 50 clients now," says Bhushan Kulkarni, CEO of InfoReady. "We're getting a real national footprint. We have clients in 25 states."

The GDI Infotech spin-off's software platform helps researchers find and apply for the best grant opportunities and then review and track progress of the project. It also had features that matches researchers with other research projects. Most of its client so far have been in the medical sciences and engineering areas of research & development.

InfoReady raised $2 million in seed capital shortly after it launched. It plans to begin raising a Series A round late next year or early 2016. It has hired eight people over the last year, expanding its staff to 25 employees. It also is looking to hire another six people now to help accommodate its growth next year.

"We expect to double in size in 2015," Kulkarni says.

Source: Bhushan Kulkarni, CEO of InfoReady
Writer: Jon Zemke

Ornicept looks to hire 3 as it aims to quintuple in size

Ornicept is on the precipice of a big growth year. The Ann Arbor data-collection startup has already enjoyed a nice growth spurt over the last year but now has it sights set on even bigger things 2015.

Ornicept is projecting to grow four or five times its current size over the next year. The company currently stands at a staff of 10 employees after making two hires in business development and software. It also looking to hire another three people for senior positions right now.

"We're growing really fast," says Russell Conard, CEO of Ornicept. "I'm lucky to work with a really good team."

The 3-year-old company’s software platform that helps field workers log and manage data. That means everyone from wildlife biologists to infrastructure inspectors can input information into a mobile device and have it processed in a central computing source.

The technology was good enough to allow it to take first place in the IT category of last month's Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition in downtown Detroit. The $25,000 in prize money will be put toward Ornicept's Series A round, which will be worth seven figures and close on by next year.

"The round is going really well," Conard says.

Ornicept's current platform is full operational and being used by some large companies across the U.S.

"We have some of the biggest companies in the world relying on our platform," Conard says.

Source: Russell Conard, CEO of Ornicept
Writer: Jon Zemke

Troy's blueRock Technologies makes 5 hires on 30% sales growth

Troy-based blueRock Technologies has earned a couple of nice spikes over the last year.

The first comes from an additional five hires in technical and project management positions, expanding the company’s staff to 19 employees. It is also looking to hire another two technical staff right now.

The second is in its revenue. The IT company enjoyed a 30-percent bump over the last year. Most of those new sales have come from the hospitality industry. The 14-year-old firm has a number of clients that are nightclubs, restaurants, and hotels on the east coast.

"We have really increased our footprint in those areas," says Peter Marsack, vice president of consulting for blueRock Technologies. "We have a lot of clients in this area as well."

The IT firm also provides consulting and cloud-based services for its clients. One of its aims is to help pair clients with the best technology for their business model. The strategy is paying off, and blueRock Technologies is optimistic about its near-future prospects.

"We're going to continue growing the business in the hospitality market," Marsack says. "We're definitely going to be bringing on more people."

Source: Peter Marsack, vice president of consulting for blueRock Technologies
Writer: Jon Zemke

Climate Technologies develops new way of cutting pollution emissions

Climate Technologies has reinvented itself in recent years as a company that works in both the automotive and green-tech sectors.

Today the Farmington Hills-based company is growing at a healthy clip while it continues to develop both ends of its business. Its revenue is up 15 percent in the last year, enabling it to hire another engineer in that time. It now employs six people.

"It's the rebounding of the automotive industry primarily," says Walt Zimmerman, CEO of Climate Technologies.

The 44-year-old company got its start providing temperature and humidity-control services for the automotive suppliers. The rebounding automotive industry has helped beef up that business. It has also gotten work from larger organizations, such as hospitals and universities.

Climate Technologies has also been developing a new way of cutting pollution emissions. The climate-control technology captures toxic gases and concentrates them so they can be used in things like fuel cells. It's now working on a next-generation version that integrates natural gas into the mix to make it more efficient.

"It's a large step forward," Zimmerman says. "It makes the technology appealing to people with pollution-control issues."

Source: Walt Zimmerman, CEO of Climate Technologies
Writer: Jon Zemke

Building Hugger finds opportunity in the historic preservation of Detroit structures

When Amy Swift moved back to Michigan in 2011, the newly minted Ivy Leaguer had a master's degree in historic preservation from Columbia University, but not much else.

"I wasn't sure what was next at that point," Swift says. But it didn't take long for the architect to fall in love with Detroit, so she launched her own business: Building Hugger.

"I was really inspired by the opportunities that were here," Swift says.

Building Hugger specializes in historic preservation. If that seems broad, then know that such a wide focus wasn’t accidental. Today the company specializes in everything from design to renovating distressed properties to refurbishing historic windows.

"I founded Building Hugger before I knew what the focus would be," Swift says. "I found a lot of different projects. Some have been successes. Some have been failures. Some have been both. It’s to the point where I now know exactly what Building Hugger is."

The Detroit resident has participated in a recent auction of tax foreclosed properties and is working on rehabbing a couple of single family homes -- one at the front and the other at the rear of the same lot -- near Clark Park in southwest Detroit. You can check out the business plan for the project here.

Swift also is working in a number of construction trades, taking a special interest in window restoration. She has recently been working on restoring the windows of the Venture For America house in Virginia Park, and is taking on more similar projects.

"There is a lot of room for growth in this area," Swift says.

Source: Amy Swift, founder & principal of Building Hugger
Writer: Jon Zemke

Dragonmead Brewery expands with new brewing system

Dragonmead Microbrewery has expanded its brewing system, filling up the entire 11,000-square foot facility where it brews award-winning beers -- and ales and mead -- in Warren.

The facility at 14600 E. 11 Mile Road includes a 1,000-square-foot tap room that sells dozens of beers on tap and serves food from nearby Lazybones Smokehouse.

By installing a smaller batch brewing system, the expansion allows the brewery to not only keep up with overall demand but to offer the variety Dragonmead faithfuls expect, says Larry Channel, a founding member of the microbrewery, which began in 1997.

“Having the variety system in place and producing again will allow us to once again offer over 40 different styles of beer on tap at our taproom here in Warren,” says Jennifer Locher, pub manager for Dragonmead. “The variety will be in place in time for the holidays.”

The latest expansion follows the addition last year of a 20-barrel brew house. This year the company is introducing a seasonal line of products in both bottles and draught: Oktoberfest, Devil’s Knight Pumpkin Ale, Jul Øl, a Norwegian Spiced Christmas Ale and St. Nicole’s Weizenbock. Sin Eater, a high-gravity Dark Belgian Ale, is soon to be released in bottles as a year-round product. Sin Eater is currently available in the Tap Room in Warren.

Source: Larry Channel, founding member of Dragonmead Microbrewery
Writer: Kim North Shine

MagicBook creates app that makes paper books come alive

Enjoying paper books and participating in the digital revolution doesn't have to be an either/or proposition. That's what the team behind MagicBook is thinking.

The Ann Arbor-based startup is developing a mobile app that helps make reading physical books fun for kids.

"We were thinking of things we could do to connect technology with physical books," says Marjie Knepp, co-founder of MagicBook. "All of us grew up enjoying physical books. That really spoke to us."

The four-person team found that kids are reading less and less for fun, a practice that could potentially negatively impact intellectual development. To counter that, MagicBook is combing 21st Century technology with traditional books. Kids using MagicBook can hold a mobile device using the app to a book they are reading. The app will play music, animations, and even interactive characters to engage the user.

MagicBook won the People's Choice at the most recent Detroit Startup Weekend. The team is currently working on taking off the rough edges of the app so it can be ready for the general public.

"We're hoping to have it ready within the next six months," Knepp says.

Source: Marjie Knepp, co-founder of MagicBook
Writer: Jon Zemke

ShareSpace Rochester revives downtown co-working spot

Plans for a co-working space in downtown Rochester are back on after the investor/owner's decision to return to full-time living in Rochester.

Doug Van Slembrouck, founder of ShareSpace Rochester and owner of digital strategy company Red Pawn Creative, plans to open the shared work space, which would be outfitted with desks, WIFI, conference tables, and other office amenities, at 150 S. Elizabeth St., just a few feet away from the Clinton River Trail and directly behind Rochester Play, an indoor activity center for children and families.

For a fee, ShareSpace will give independents, freelancers, and office-less employees all the perks of an office, including meeting space, people to talk to, and no coffee shop or home office distractions.

"It's perfect for access to downtown, a brief stretch of the legs or bike ride, and great if you need to parent and work at the same time. We're now accepting memberships and visitors," Van Slembrouck says.

The plan was put on hold after Van Slembrouck's work had him commuting to Chicago throughout the week, and "I quickly realized that ShareSpace would require significantly much more attention."

In addition, a Kickstarter fundraising campaign for ShareSpace fell short. Projects that fail to meet their fundraising goal get no money.

"We did learn the community of freelance and mobile professionals in the greater-Rochester area is quite large," he says. "The supporters of our campaign were so interested in bringing co-working to the area that they still offered their original donations, essentially prepaid two-month memberships, regardless of the overall Kickstarter results. In the end however, I didn't feel comfortable accepting funds if I couldn't be there full-time to be involved in the day-to-day operations."

He says he's excited to make it work this time. His own company, Red Pawn Creative, will have its office at ShareSpace.

"I believe Oakland County needs a place for people with the flexibility to work anywhere, anytime to call home."

Source: Doug Van Slembrouck, founder, ShareSpace Rochester
Writer: Kim North Shine

C/D/H grows Detroit office after executing two mergers

C/D/H has been busy since moving its Metro Detroit office to downtown Detroit last spring. The software firm has executed two mergers and, as a result, has expanded its staff.

The Grand Rapids-based company specializes in technology consulting. It moved its metro Detroit office from downtown Royal Oak to downtown Detroit’s Wright Kay Building to be closer to its customers and the region's emerging urban core. Since then, C/D/H has merged with Grand Rapids-based Blue Sphere Solutions and Rochester-based Coil Group.

Jim Brown, partner & director of sales & marketing for C/D/H and the former owner of Coil Group, says the merger made sense because C/D/H provides stability and strength that only comes with experience, which in C/D/H's case totals nearly 25 years.

"It allowed my firm to reach into that base of customers," Brown says. "More importantly, it allows us to leverage the strength and stability of a firm that has been around for 24 years."

He adds that the recent mergers make sense for C/D/H, too, because it allows the larger, more established company to reinvigorate itself with new talent, ideas, and energy.

"You don't last 24 years in technology without constantly reinvigorating yourself and even reinventing yourself," Brown says.

C/D/H provides consulting services that specialize in collaboration, infrastructure, unified communications, mobility, and project management in the software sector. It is a Microsoft-certified Gold Partner, a VMware Professional Partner, and has earned top certification with Novell, Citrix, and Cisco Systems.

The company employs 31 people, including 10 employees at its downtown Detroit post. The firm has added three people at its metro Detroit office over the last six months. Those new jobs are all centered on software development. Brown says the company expects to continue to expand in 2015 but is not eyeing any more acquisitions for at least another year.

"We are open to opportunities beyond that," Brown says. "We don't have anything in our sights at the moment, but it’s certainly on our radar."

Source: Jim Brown, partner & director of sales & marketing for C/D/H
Writer: Jon Zemke

Blaze Medical Devices adds staff, scores $200K SBIR grant

Blaze Medical Devices recently scored a nice boost in funding, adding a Small Business Innovation Research grant to its bottom line. The Phase 1 SBIR grant is worth $200,000 and will be used to pay for a pre-clinical study of 50 patients. The company hopes to go for a Phase 2 grant worth $175,000 next year.

Blaze Medical Devices is developing blood transfusion technology that enables medical professionals to better control and optimize blood banking and transfusions. Its clinical tests assess the quality of stored blood and its laboratory instruments help facilitate blood research.

"We anticipate to get our first revenue from this service before the end of the year," says Michael Tarasev, COO of Blaze Medical Devices.

Blaze Medical Devices currently employs a staff of five people after adding a researcher over the last year. The company hopes to keep expanding its team as it generates its first revenues next year and pushes its core technology closer to commercialization.

Source: Michael Tarasev, COO of Blaze Medical Devices
Writer: Jon Zemke

Pontiac's Mobile Comply adds 4 jobs, clears way for mobile certification

Mobile Comply grew up quite a bit in 2014, mostly by living up to its name.

"We have completely exploded in a great way," says Eliana Farnsworth, CEO of Mobile Comply.

The downtown Pontiac-based company helps educate businesses and institutions (think higher education) on how best to leverage mobile technology. Last year it provided training and wrote the textbook for CompTIA, a Chicago-based non-profit that developed the A+ certification. That bit of work led to Mobile Comply creating the certification for mobile technology.

"We became the only company in the world that provided mobile certification," Farnsworth says.

That led to a 35-percent jump in revenue over the last year. The company has hired four people over the last year, expanding its staff to 20 employees and 100 independent contractors. It is also looking to hire another two people in the first quarter of next year. In 2015 Mobile Comply is looking to expand its mobile certification activities to the automotive market.

"We would like to expand to not only certifying individuals but also supporting the growth of connected vehicles," Farnsworth says.

Source: Eliana Farnsworth, CEO of Mobile Comply
Writer: Jon Zemke

Brinks Gilson & Lione expands Ann Arbor office with new hires

When the name Brinks Gilson & Lione comes up the word Chicago is not far behind. Which makes sense because that is where the intellectual property law firm is headquartered.

What isn't widely known is the firm's Ann Arbor office is its biggest satellite office, and it's growing. Brinks Gilson & Lione recently added another attorney to its Ann Arbor office, bring its number of lawyers to 18 and total staff to 28. All of them are working to keep up with the growing amount of work in the southeast Michigan area.

"There just seems to be a lot of entrepreneurial energy in Ann Arbor," says Steven Oberholtzer, managing partner of the Ann Arbor office for Brinks Gilson & Lione. "We expect that to continue."

Much of the office's work comes from technology spinning out of the University of Michigan. Everything from software to material sciences need patents, trademarks and other intellectual property protection as they grown into startups or parts of larger businesses.

Brinks Gilson & Lione also does a lot of work in the automotive industry, working with new technologies in automotive connectivity to increasing fuel efficiency. The total amount of work from the auto industry is up 20 percent in the last five years. The law firm also does a lot of bio-technology and life sciences work even though Pfizer pulled up stakes years ago.

"The professionals who left Pfizer are now starting their own companies," Oberholtzer says.

Source: Steven Oberholtzer, managing partner of the Ann Arbor office for Brinks Gilson & Lione
Writer: Jon Zemke

LevelEleven doubles staff as it debuts new software

LevelEleven is expanding its technology offerings and expanding its staff in downtown Detroit.

The 2-year-old startup has nearly doubled its staff since January, growing from 16 employees at the beginning of 2014 to 28 staff members today. Currently, the company has eight positions open in sales, software developers, customer service, and business development. Those hires and openings are inline with the tech startup's growing revenue.

"We have been growing at a very rapid pace," says Bob Marsh, CEO of LevelEleven. "We have been growing at a rate of 200 to 300 percent and we plan to continue that."

LevelEleven spun out of HelloWorld to sell an enterprise gamification app (native to the salesforce platform) that helps motivate sales professionals and tracks their progress. The company just added the Scorecard feature, which offers personalized analytics and historical trends for salespeople that allow managers and teams to assess and respond to key pieces of data.

So where LevelEleven’s technology was primarily based on leaderboards to spark competition, Scorecard allows its users to dig into their performance so they can better compete.

"It will give them a simple snapshot on their mobile device," Marsh says. "The individual employee can monitor their performance day to day."

LevelEleven has raised $5.6 million in seed capital since its launch, including an investment from downtown-based Detroit Venture Partners. It recently landed a $2 million convertible note that will be rolled into its coming Series A raise.

Source: Bob Marsh, CEO of LevelEleven
Writer: Jon Zemke
3043 Articles | Page: | Show All
Signup for Email Alerts