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The Runway debuts talent, fosters fashion growth in Lansing

Even before opening the doors to their highly anticipated retail space, The Runway has been racing to put Lansing on the fast track to becoming a Midwest fashion mecca.
 
With a grand opening slated for Thursday, Oct. 9, The Runway welcomes the fashion-conscious and fashion-curious into a 3,000-square foot storefront filled with quality, Michigan-based apparel. Featured products laid out in flexible 10 x 10 boutique spaces include Trybe, Brightly Twisted, Lionblood and MP Fashion. Others are on the way as the showroom and the related fashion incubator capture attention.
 
"Retail and fashion aren't the first thing many of us think of when we think of downtown Lansing," says Jeff Henry, operator of The Runway. "This is an inspiration for others to follow suit, as well as a motivator for our fashion incubator tenants to reach for."
 
The showroom can accommodate up to 25 brands. In addition to general traffic, the showroom looks to attract buyers from boutiques and other fashion retailers.
 
"It's a great way for buyers to get a visual of what items may look like in a store," he says. "It's also a great way to show the talent that's here in Michigan and why we started The Runway in the first place."
 
Located on the ground floor of the renovated Knapp's Centre, the showroom features all kinds of "wears" from sportswear to swimwear to street wear. A sweeping staircase leads to a 5,500-square-foot incubator on the second floor where up to 12 designers-in-residence and associate designers explore start-up businesses.
 
Anchor tenants enjoy private studio and office space, as well as shared resources to produce products. Associate designers can also access resources that include pressing and cutting tables, dress forms, industrial sewing machines, and the coveted OPTITEX's 2D and 3D software. Business planning and legal services are also available.
 
"We're focused on retaining talent and bringing industry and jobs here," says Henry. "We want to roll off the strength of manufacturing and return the Midwest to its history of making things."
 
Current designers-in-residence include Lawrence Hunt, Freshwater Apparel, LE&O, Allie Su Bridal, Swim Lively, Alex & Jayde Designs, Beauhawk, Lady Aitch, Bad Latitude and North Promontory. Economic development and organization support for The Runway comes through the Lansing Economic Development Corp. and LEAP. Major sponsors include Foster Swift and Peckham.
 
Source: Jeff Henry, Operations Manager, The Runway
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Confectionately Yours sweetens up sidewalk commute for downtown workers

Workers and visitors traversing the busy morning sidewalks of downtown Lansing this fall will find a sweet option for breakfast and snacks on the go.
 
Right after Labor Day, Heather Schmidt rolled out Confectionately Yours on the corner of Capitol and Michigan Avenues and began vending baked goods and coffee to passers-by.
 
Schmidt stocks an assortment of seven different breakfast items including scones, muffins, cinnamon rolls and yogurt parfaits within the 3-foot by 10-foot red canopied push cart. Granolas, cookies and brownies are also part of the inventory for afternoon or late-morning snackers. Hot coffee from Paramount is also on hand for caffeine seekers.
 
"We'll be offering seasonal baked goods and other things here and there," says Schmidt. "We want to keep it interesting so people smile and want to come back."
 
Schmidt worked in bakeries in Michigan and Rhode Island for about 18 years, and launched Confectionately Yours about two years ago from a licensed kitchen within her Dansville home. As demand grew for her cakes and other confections, Schmidt considered opening up a brick and mortar shop, but opted for a mobile option when her carpentry-inclined husband offered to build her a food cart.
 
Downtown Lansing was a logical choice to roll-out her food cart business, Schmidt says, because of the city's ongoing support of small business and street vendors.
 
"There's also nice traffic from downtown workers," says Schmidt. "It's great to be part of helping to liven up the downtown."
 
Schmidt says she bakes everything fresh the night before and then gets help with cleanup and stocking the cart from her three kids, ages 9 through 16. The Confectionately Yours food cart is open Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
 
Source: Heather Schmidt, Owner, Confectionately Yours
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Lou and Harry's responds to customer demand for downtown location

Scott Rolen listened to his mentor in the restaurant business. He also listened to his customers.
 
In late August, Rolen cut the ribbon on Lou and Harry's Downtown and began his long-awaited venture into owning and managing his first restaurant. It's an opportunity, he says, he owes to Harry Saites—a founder of the Lou and Harry's family of restaurants. And it's a chance to answer the call for a Lou and Harry's in Lansing's urban core.
 
"People have been asking us for a while to bring a Lou and Harry's to downtown," says Rolen who has worked for Saites for 10 years and will operate his restaurant under a licensing agreement. "There's a wonderful clientele down here and as long as we continue to be quick and efficient, we're sure they'll love our product."
 
Rolen promises not to disappoint and will offer the original Lou and Harry's menu of freshly made sandwiches, gyros, burgers and salads. To distinguish the downtown location, he is offering his own homemade soups and sandwich specials on a daily basis. Early risers can also stop in for coffee and a simple breakfast, including yogurt parfaits, and pitas with eggs, meat and cheese.
 
The new eatery will seat 48 people in a 1,900-square-foot space that features booths, tables and a blend of old school and modern décor. Colors are deep and earthy, with a mix of blues, oranges and reds to set off the new floors, countertops and lights.
 
"Harry and I are totally like family, and his mom and dad, too," says Rolen. "They've all been hugely supportive. His mama came in and blessed the store. It's great to have them around."
 
Lou and Harry's Downtown employs 16 people, including two cashiers and prep, line and grill cooks. Rolen hopes to branch into catering and delivery once the sit-down restaurant is up and running. Hours are from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. Other Lou and Harry's are located on Chandler Road in Bath Township and on East Saginaw Street in East Lansing.
 
Source: Scott Rolen, General Manager/Owner, Lou and Harry's Downtown
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Beer Grotto on deck in Stadium District with hybrid store and lounge

A combination tasting room and store coming to Lansing's Stadium District complex next spring will help lessen the chance for "buyer's remorse" among lovers of craft beer and wine.
 
With the tagline "Taste It. Love It. Tote It.," the Beer Grotto will offer craft beverage enthusiasts a destination for sampling, experiencing and purchasing up to 48 draft beers and 80 wines—with about 75 percent made in Michigan. The Beer Grotto will also offer a select line of non-alcohol beers, wines and sodas, including the iconic Michigan brand Faygo.
 
"The idea for the Beer Grotto came about when we were thinking of customers who pick up a flavored stout or a wine with a cool label, only to realize they have five left in a six-pack or are stuck with a cooking wine," says Sam Short, one of three owners along with Troy Ontko and Brandon Ansel. "There's no reason for that. We want people to have a chance to taste everything in our store."
 
Beer Grotto patrons will also be able to hang out in full-service lounge, or reserve an event space for parties, meetings or celebrations. Short says the hybridized space will include individual tasting stations where well-trained staff dubbed "beer geeks" or "cork dorks" will assist and educate customers on beer and wine samples.
 
Short plans to hire about 20 part-time and 20 full-time staff for the 4,100-square-foot space. Located on the corner of Michigan Avenue and Cedar Street, the Beer Grotto will seat 200 people inside and 50 people on an outdoor patio.
 
The Beer Grotto, Short says, addresses the booming interest in craft beers and wines, as well as the ongoing resurgence of living and working in the urban core.
 
"We've watched Lansing grow in a wonderful way," says Short, adding that Pat Gillespie's Stadium District and other downtown developments create a perfect setting. "That mix of residential, tourism and visitors to downtown is something you don't see very often. We're happy to become part of it."
 
The Beer Grotto is on deck for early 2015 and will be open seven days a week. The Lansing location is the third Beer Grotto for Short behind Dexter and Ann Arbor.
 
Source: Sam Short, Owner, Beer Grotto
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Sweet Lorraine's serves up classic comfort food in arty setting

Satisfying the insatiable yen for the queen of comfort foods just got possible as a Detroit-based restaurateur opens the doors in downtown East Lansing this fall.
 
At 547 E. Grand River just across from the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, Sweet Lorraine's Fabulous Mac 'n Cheez will offer 14 made-to-order varieties of the famed culinary duo. Hungry or discerning appetites can also dine on salads, grilled sandwiches stuffed with macaroni and cheese, and end with a sweet treat of fresh-baked cookies or a salted caramel rice crispy bar.
 
"We've tried to give people an idea of our brand through our logo," says Lorraine Platman who owns the restaurant with her husband Gary Sussman. "The artwork is like something between The Flintstones and The Jetsons—showing that macaroni and cheese has been around forever, but we can also get it out to you fast and fabulous. In other words, it's not your mama's mac and cheese."
 
Platman and Sussman met at Michigan State University in the mid '70s, and are ecstatic about bringing the concept to East Lansing. The new location becomes the fifth in the Sweet Lorraine family that consists of two full-service deli and café concepts and three mac-and-cheese focused eateries. Other locations are in the works outside Michigan.
 
As an alumna of MSU's fine art program, Platman takes an interest not just in the food, but in the décor of her enterprises. The East Lansing location, she says, will feature industrial-style chairs with flexible backs, eye-popping veneer, and a terrazzo floor. A variety of pop-art posters and sayings will adorn the different colored walls, including a reproduction of a Sweet Lorraine's menu signed by Andy Warhol.
 
"I still get tongue-tied talking about how Andy Warhol came to my restaurant 30 years ago and signed my menu," says Platman of the influential artist who was in Detroit for a book signing. "He loved the different colored walls and had a sandwich."
 
The 2000-square-foot Sweet Lorraine's Fabulous Mac 'n Cheez seats 65 people and will be serviced by 32 staff.
 
Source: Lorraine Platman, Owner, Sweet Lorraine's Fabulous Mac 'n Cheez
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Dublin Jerky offers exotic flavors for the protein-crazed snacker

Once a point-of-sale favorite at party stores, jerky is making inroads as a healthy and satisfying alternative for snackers everywhere.
 
Just ask Bruce Patulski. He's a Michigan pioneer in the jerky renaissance and has been racking up popular and exotic varieties of the carnivorous snack for years. And last summer, Patulski brought a branch of the renowned Dublin Jerky to the Lansing City Market, offering the company's most flavorful varieties plus an eclectic mix of brats, firewood, mopeds and custom-made T-shirts.
 
"The proof's in the product," says Patulski of the booth's staple. "Our jerky is nice and juicy, and it bursts with flavor when you bite into it. It's insanely tender."
 
Patulski learned the jerky business from the Dublin Jerky founder, who is also his brother-in-law. He started as a teen working in the Greenville, Mich., shop, and has continued to smoke, rack and package prime cuts of beef, chicken, turkey, pork, wild boar, rabbit, pheasant, alligator, ostrich and python.
 
"It's definitely not your typical gas station jerky," says Patluski. "We source our meats from all over the country and they all go through FDA inspection."
 
Patulski carries the most popular of Dublin Jerky's 60 varieties in his 100-foot vendor space. The 15 to 20 types of jerky include his go-to items like the "sweet heat beef" and "apple jack beef" and spicy varieties made with hot or ghost peppers.
 
"I'm surprised they don't melt the bag," he laughs.
 
A quarter-pound bag of jerky, Patulski says, provides an option for people looking for a high-protein snack or quick meal. Several popular magazines like Esquire and Muscle & Fitness have mentioned Dublin Jerky by name as a way to curb hunger, help build muscle, and ward off carb cravings.
 
Dublin Jerky also carries a line of loaded brats including garlic and sauerkraut, maple and bacon, and a blue cheese and cherry. Like the jerky, the brats are smoked, fully cooked and made with all natural ingredients.
 
As for the mopeds and screen printing and firewood, Patulski says that's an offshoot of his father's retail business in Manistee.
 
"I'm in the business program at MSU," says Patulski who operates the market with his girlfriend. "I guess you could say that business is in my blood."

Source: Bruce Patulski, Owner, Dublin Jerky Company
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Stilettos and Steel brings pole fitness to Lansing's West Side

Candice Tess always had a passion for fitness and the idea of a fitness-related business. She just didn't know where she fit.  So when Tess happened upon pole fitness, she worked hard to dispel the eyebrow raisers and bring a pole fitness studio to Lansing.
 
"It's the most amazing form of strength training I have ever done and it's awesome," says Tess. "It's closely related to yoga, gymnastics and acrobatics and the only equipment needed is the pole and your own body weight as resistance."
 
In the next few weeks, Tess will open the doors on Stilettos and Steel Fitness at 6400 W. St. Joseph Highway. Tess will teach and hold classes in various levels of pole fitness, applying her expertise as a certified instructor through the Pole Fitness Alliance.
 
Tess worked with friends, family members and her "crafty husband" to gut, move or install walls, put in new floors and ceilings, and paint the 1,100-square foot studio. With purple as a signature color, the studio is cozy, warm and inviting, with a private pole room outfitted with six poles.
 
"It's pretty," says Tess. "We have a chandelier and we dim the lights when we do the dance part of the workout."
 
Tess says the 90-minute classes involve meditation, a yoga-based warm-up, pole tricks and spins, and a dance routine. People unsure of whether pole fitness is right for them can check out a one-time intro class or sign up for a mini-session. Membership options are also available.
 
Tess says she learned pole fitness through studios in Grand Rapids and Detroit since she couldn't find a studio closer to home.  As her confidence and abilities grew, she became a certified trainer so she could share her love of the discipline.
 
"One of my main goals is to take away the stigma attached to pole fitness," says Tess, citing that the American Council on Exercise accepted Pole Fitness as a form of exercise in 2009. "People don't understand that it's not the same as being a pole dancer. It's a workout that's totally for you that helps you feel strong, confident and sexy."
 
Source: Candice Tess, Owner, Stilettos and Steel Fitness
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Front 43 creates friendly gathering place on Lansing-East Lansing border

Frank Cheng noticed something big missing on Lansing's eastern edge and decided to start small. So far, he's begun to fill the need for a gathering place on the busy stretch between East Lansing and Lansing.
 
Since early August, Front 43 Neighborhood Pub has been serving up craft beers and high-end bar food in a cozy, low-key setting. Initially dubbed "The Barrel," the latest in Lansing's growing lineup of gastro pubs rebranded and kicked into gear right around the MSU Spartan's home opener.
 
"Everyone seemed to want a place like this in this area," says Owner and Manager Cheng. "We were always hearing that something like this was missing with all the housing and apartments in the neighborhood. It just seems like a great location."
 
Front 43 is well-poised to draw from the aura left by Jimmy's Pub—a Lansing landmark that relocated to Chandler Road when the site was razed for the Pointe North Retail Center in 2011. Cheng got first-hand insights into customers seeking places to enjoy food, drink and time with friends since he also owns and manages Xiao—Front 43's next-door neighbor.
 
The 1,200-square foot interior seats 45 people, while a small outdoor patio seats 15 more. A long bar and wall-mounted beer taps mingle with pictures of neighborhood and local imagery. Fifteen big-screen TVs (two of which are 80-inchers) provide a panorama of visual entertainment.
 
"It's very cozy and comfortable and warm," says Cheng. "I want it to be a neighborhood place, where everybody will get to know everyone."
 
Front 43 has 20 beers on tap, with 18 brewed in Michigan. Beers include Bell's Oberon and Big Two Hearted Ales, New Holland Dragon's Milk, and Strawberry Brown Ale. Customers can also enjoy wine, with local spirits coming to the mix down the road.
 
In keeping with the gastro-pub concept, Cheng will offer up non-traditional bar foods including mussels, calamari and three-cheese macaroni and cheese. Red meat eaters can satisfy a hearty appetite with a half-pound Angus burger.
 
Cheng spends about 10 to 15 hours a day on-site between Xiao and his newest venture. He hopes to hire up to 15 staff for Front 43, including two full-timers.
 
Source: Frank Cheng, Owner, Front 43 Neighborhood Pub
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Hatch adds square footage to nurture fledging enterprise

Student start-ups at Michigan State University can continue to move from coffee shops into an expanding landscape of co-office and shared spaces as the Hatch nearly doubles its floor space.
 
The popular co-working space and student business incubator at 325 E. Grand River Ave. in East Lansing added 1,135 of floor space and meeting rooms to bring the total square footage to 2,542 square feet over the summer. The expansion was funded by the Lansing Area Economic Partnership, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, Michigan State University, and a three-year gift from the MSU Federal Credit Union.
 
"We needed extra space and extra amenities," says Paul Jaques, director of student and community engagement at Spartan Innovations and a Hatch "superhero" team member. "Space helps with growth. We were able to throw in some new technologies and rooms where people can break off and have meetings."
 
In 2013-14, 156 teams of start-up candidates came to the Hatch to explore and research business ideas, design and create, and collaborate and mentor. In 2014, students also raised more than $210,000 in start-up support through national and international business plan competitions and growth.
 
The expanded Hatch is outfitted with a pair of HD video conference-ready breakout rooms, a multi-media editing suite, new monitors, 24-hour key fob access and video security, WiFi, and a flexible power-charging system.
 
The new floor plan also builds on the idea of an "entrepreneurial ecosystem" by building out an adjacent co-working space for the community. The 1,900-square foot 300 Room, Hatch leaders say, can be used by community members for meetings or networking during open hours or via scheduled reservation.
 
"It's a community-focused space for the general community," says Marketing Director Amber Shinn. "It's ground zero for folks of all experience levels and provides a comfortable environment that encourages them to start and keep their business here."
 
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Source: Paul Jaques, Director of Student and Community Engagement, Spartan Innovations
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Pilates Silver Sensations brings full-service Pilates to East Lansing

It's been described as intelligent exercise that yields profound results.
 
And for Rosemarie Gregg, Pilates became a force that transformed her life and livelihood.
 
In early September, Gregg "cut the ribbon" on Pilates Silver Sensations—the only full-service Pilates studio in the Lansing area. The 1,700-square foot studio at 4964 Northwind Drive in East Lansing offers Pilates classes in various formats, including mat, reformer equipment and total barre. The studio is also among the few licensed vendors of lucy Activewear in mid-Michigan.
 
"I'm calling it Pilates Silver because I work with people 35 to 70 years old," she says. "As we age, we compensate and our postural alignment goes out. Pilates can help realign the spine to its natural state."
 
Gregg's passion for Pilates harkens back to 2010 when she injured her back cross-country skiing. She says she went to seven doctors, including a neurologist, seeking relief from chronic pain and numbness. She found relief through Pilates.
 
"I started in a Pilates class and within six months, all my pain went away," says the 50-something Gregg. "I also got in the best shape I ever had been in my life."
 
Gregg was so convinced of the healing power of Pilates that she underwent nearly 500 hours of training to become a certified instructor of STOTT Pilates. She began teaching and rapidly outgrew the 300-square foot studio she and her husband set up in her Okemos home.
 
Gregg has about 50 active clients and has taught nearly 250 individuals. Her new studio will have four reformer machines and stands, 29-feet of bars, and two full walls of mirrors. Courses run on four- to six-week schedules, with some private instruction available. Gregg teaches most of the classes herself, but recently hired one Pilates and one yoga instructor to help with her growing clientele.
 
"Pilates will totally change the shape of your body and is the best form of exercise you can do to build your core strength," says Gregg. "It will give you the firmest butt, build your core strength, and tone your abs like crazy."
 
Source: Rosemarie Gregg, Owner, Pilates Silver Sensations
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Flat, Black and Circular adds square footage and inventory

Flat, Black and Circular started out in a space about the size of a small walk-in closet. Today, the 37-year-old East Lansing store at 541 E. Grand River is knocking down walls to make room for its fourth expansion in 20 years.
 
"The way we look at it, the more years that go by the more stuff there is in the world," says Jon Howard, FBC manager and buyer. "It's inevitable that we expanded."
 
The iconic music reseller started as a partnership between Dick Rosemont and Dave Bernath to support their vinyl-buying habit. While audio formats have changed and evolved, the store has remained true to vinyl, making it well-poised for the resurgence of all things 33-and-a-1/3 RPM.
 
"Right now, vinyl is trendy with younger kids who want to build a collection," says Howard. "They've gotten hold of their parent's stereos and see it's good to have something tangible in their hands rather than all digital."
 
Howard estimates that the store currently houses 20,000 pieces of vinyl, a few thousand CDs, hundreds of DVDs, and even a few hundred cassettes. The store acquires most of its inventory through items that people bring in to sell. Other inventory comes through "the hunt" of garage and estate sales, liquidations, and through word-of-mouth.
 
Howard says the current expansion will add 300 square feet to the existing 1,300-square-foot store. Plans are to move in a few rolling shelves, fill them with classical selections, and create a quieter space for the classical aficionado. Part of the new space will also be set aside for displaying miscellaneous musical equipment.
 
"We're browsing friendly, and everything is in alphabetical order," says Howard. "We're also not musical snobs at all. We will all admit that we like some horrible music."
 
FBC staff includes Howard, Bernath and one part-time worker. Rosemont, who moved to Santa Fe New Mexico, serves as a consultant.
 
Source: Jon Howard, Manager and Buyer, Flat, Black and Circular
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

For Crepe Sake opens in Lansing City Market, creates six jobs

A little bit of France just came to Lansing.
 
In early-August, Mark and Deborah Owen cut the ribbon on For Crepe Sake in the Lansing City Market. And while steeped in American tradition, the creperie offers a delectable selection of the French cuisine that is sure to please the palette.
 
Mark says he and Deborah decided to open a creperie to offer downtown diners something aside from subs, pizza and traditional sandwich fare. Mark, too, was determined to offer gluten-free options that taste delicious for people like himself who experience Celiac Disease or are gluten-intolerant.
 
"Crepes are very sophisticated and different," say Mark. "We have dessert crepes that are sweet with things like cream cheese and strawberries. And we have savory crepes, too, with meats and cheeses and eggs."
 
Mark says he gave all his crepes French names like "The Louvre," "The Hunchback of Notre Dam," or "Pomme." Visitors can also select the "Laissez-Faire" and build their own crepe from available items. Beverage-wise, diners can pair crepes with a hot beverage like brewed Zingerman's coffee; a latte, espresso or tea; or go for a cool soft drink, gourmet soda or juice.
 
"You can have your lunch and dessert at the same time, depending on what you get," says Mark. "A crepe is a really thin pancake, with the ingredients folded inside. It's kind-of like pancake meets enchilada."
 
Mark says he and Deborah did a year of R&D before opening their restaurant, including visiting other creperies, checking out recipes and menus, and investing in a professional crepe maker. The 450-square-foot space in the Lansing City Market offers the Owens a chance to "start small" and build a following. For Crepe Sake employs four people, in addition to Mark and Deborah.
 
Source: Mark Owen, Owner, For Crepe Sake
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Marco's Pizza brings 24 jobs and authentic Italian cuisine to Okemos

As a high schooler, Donna Sturgis dreamed of running her own business. But it wasn't until after she had built a career and gone through the economic downturn that she struck out on her own.
 
In September, Sturgis will open her second local franchise for Marco's Pizza at 1871 W. Grand River Ave. in Okemos. Running a restaurant, she admits, is a departure from having worked her entire career as a mechanical engineer. But then she laughs and says she enjoys doing something that's just a "little different."
 
"When the automotive business went south, I knew it was time," says Sturgis. "I decided to open a franchise to fulfill my dream of being an entrepreneur."
 
Sturgis opened her first Marco's Pizza at Abbot and Lake Lansing in East Lansing in 2008. Over time, she grew her clientele and hired a staff of 19 people.
 
Sturgis hopes for the same success with her next Marco's Pizza in the Dusty's Cellar retail plaza. She gutted a space in the strip mall to bring it up to the franchise standards, including interior features like slate, tile floors, faux granite tables, and a counter made of cherry wood.
 
"It has an upscale look but you're only paying $20 or so for your pizza," says Sturgis. "You get an authentic Italian look when you come in."
 
That authenticity extends to the menu. Founder Paul Giamaro, Sturgis says, was born and raised in Italy, and brought his culinary talents and family recipe to the franchise.
 
"It's the same traditional dough and sauce recipe that we follow today," says Sturgis. "We make fresh dough and sauce in the store every day; it doesn't come from a freezer or factory. And we get all our vegetables locally from Michigan farmers."
 
Marco's menu features classic and specialty pizzas, fresh-baked subs, salads, and extras such as chicken wings, cheesy bread and cinnamon pastry.
 
Sturgis' new 2,000-square-foot store will employ 24 and seat 32 people. She is planning a grand opening for September 8 beginning at 9:30 a.m., complete with food sampling and kids' activities.
 
Source: Donna Sturgis, Owner, Marco's Pizza
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Painting entrepreneur automates paperwork for general contracting

Michael Henry learned how to scrape by, cut-in and get maximum coverage while in college. Today he's making a business of it.
 
Last May, Henry launched a full-service interior and exterior painting service with four staff—about a year after earning his degree in psychology from Michigan State University. He projects he will have completed about 50 jobs through MDH Painting by the end of the year, and estimates he will more than double his business in 2015.
 
"For the most part, I never saw myself having a 9 to 5 job," says Henry. "I knew the way I felt and operated before then."
 
Henry also owns and operates a second related business from the Lansing NEO Center. CorkCRM provides software expressly designed for construction contracting. Released by Henry and a team of computer scientists in November 2013, CorkCRM streamlines processes like estimating and preparing proposals, scheduling appointments, prospecting and tracking leads, generating contracts, processing time cards and expenses, and other traditional paperwork.
 
Henry's goal, he says, is to make it easier for contractors to do their work by leveraging technology for administrative functions. His company services about 10 contracting companies across the U.S., including Michigan, Florida, Arizona, California and Oregon. He also uses CorkCRM software when he estimates and coordinates jobs for MDH Painting.
 
"When I was working as a college painter, what I saw lacking was an all-in-one software system to run the business," says Henry who supervised crews for East Lansing's College Pro Painters. "We were doing a lot of things on paper and written documents, and it didn't enable the use of technology very well."
 
Henry says he hopes to eventually move from the NEO Center and into a larger office that can accommodate his growing staff. In addition to his four painters who work offsite through MDH Painting, Henry plans to hire an assistant for CorkCRM in the coming year.
 
Source: Michael Henry, Owner, MDH Painting and CorkCRM
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Piper & Gold expands and moves to Old Town

Moving to Lansing's Old Town was never out-of-the-question for Kate Snyder and her evolving public relations company, Piper & Gold.
 
"Coming out of a business incubator, you have that sense of community and that sense of support that surrounds you," says Snyder, principal strategist. "To me, that was important to have in a stand-alone office space. I knew I could get that in Old Town."
 
In mid-July, Snyder moved operations from the NEO Center on Clark Street to a space that used to be the city's "comfort station" near the railroad tracks. Historic and newly renovated, the two narrow rooms on the first floor of 313 ½ E. Grand River are just the right size, she says, for her small, outwardly-focused team.
 
"The move was a big step for us," says Snyder. "It gives us the infrastructure to continue to serve our clients and to enhance the way we do that. I'm very much about sustainable and controlled growth."
 
Snyder started the business in 2012 with the goal of providing traditional public relations with a digital twist. With an emphasis on non-partisan government organizations, nonprofits, associations and small business, Piper & Gold assists clients with communication strategy and planning, media relations, social media and serves as an extension of the clients' teams.
 
"I consider myself an accidental entrepreneur," says Snyder who did some consulting while working a traditional full-time gig. "It continued to grow, and I really enjoyed it. I decided to take the plunge, and am trying to create an environment that I've always wanted to work in."
 
Piper & Gold recently added a new team member, bringing the staff of the boutique PR firm to three full-time and two part-time employees.
 
Source: Kate Snyder, Principal Strategist, Piper & Gold
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor
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