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Wright & Filippis expands leadership team with 3 new executives

The executive team at Wright & Filippis is shaking up and expanding from its headquarters in Rochester Hills.

The health-care firm, which specializes in prosthetics, has hired a new vice president of operations, a vice president of sales and a director of IT. Its vice president of facility operations is now the executive vice president of mergers & acquisition, and its former COO and CFO is now company president. The new executive team will oversee the company’s 625 employees, of which 500 are based in Metro Detroit.

"We're moving people so we can grow the company in different areas," says A.J. Filippis CEO & chairman of Wright & Filippis.

The 70-year-old firm has left some markets so it can grow into others. It exited several supply-based ventures, such as diabetic supplies. It is now focusing on prosthetics, orthotics, respiratory care services, and home medical equipment and supplies, complex seating rehabilitation and home accessibility systems.

Wright & Filippis is also in the process of acquiring some other business across the U.S. The firm recently acquired Carolina Orthotics & Prosthetics and is targeting a handful of other acquisitions.

"We have two more mergers and acquisitions we plan to execute in the next 60 days," Filippis says. He adds, "We're looking at other opportunities along the east coast to expand our product line."

Source: A.J. Filippis CEO & chairman of Wright & Filippis
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Living Well Primary Care focuses on preventative medicine

A couple of primary care doctors have launched a new practice in the heart of Oakland County focused on preventative medicine and maximizing the benefits of a healthy lifestyle.

Drs. Alissa Citron and Sandra Lerner have been working in primary care for the last decade. They opened Living Well Primary Care in Farmington Hills in January with the idea of focusing on helping their patients live the most healthy lifestyle they can by focusing on preventative care and making smart, incremental decisions.

"It's not about what not to do, but what do you need to do," Dr. Lerner says.

The new practice is currently staffed by Drs. Lerner and Citron, along with three support staff. The doctors plan to continue to expand their medical staff over the rest of this year as they work to establish their practice.

Living Well Primary Care sees patients of all ages from toddlers to senior citizens. The co-founders hope that working with these patients and their families over the long haul will help them make the best decisions about their long-term health, such as getting vaccinated, eating the right food, and maximizing exercise.
 
"I want us to be a medical resource to guide people through disease prevention," Dr. Lerner says.

Source: Dr. Sandra Lerner, co-founder of Living Well Primary Care
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Gordon Chiropractic leverages customer service for growth

Lots of companies like to credit new technology or a pivot in their business plan when they see their revenues rise. Gordon Chiropractic credits sustained and consistent customer service.

The West Bloomfield-based practice has watched its patient volume increase by 10 percent over the last year. That helped it hire four people, rounding out its staff to 10 people. Daniel S. Gordon, the founder of Gordon Chiropractic, expects to grow his business by as much as 20 percent this year.

"We have established a great reputation in the community," Gordon says. "We have a tremendously high patient satisfaction rate."

The bread and butter of that success is consistently emphasizing mundane but critical business basics when it comes to customer service: employing a friendly/helpful staff and keeping an immaculate office. Gordon Chiropractic has also added new equipment and expanded its service offerings to help ensure its success streak continues in 2014.

"We just want to continue to grow," Gordon says.

Source: Daniel S. Gordon, founder of Gordon Chiropractic
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

CORE Partners completes merger, plans to hire in Birmingham

What is now CORE Partners was actually three separate real-estate/construction companies last summer. Today they are setting the stage to become a more dynamic, full-service real-estate firm based out of downtown Birmingham.

"These were three companies that functioned in different silos of the real-estate industry," says Bob Waun, vice president of business development for CORE Partners and recent addition to its team.

CORE Partners functioned as a commercial brokerage before the merger with Burton-Katzman (a construction firm) and ReAlta (a real-estate development firm based in New York City). The new combined company, which employs 85 people and plans to add 3-5 summer interns, has spent the last six months combining and streamlining its operations.

"The growth phase is what happens next," Waun says. "The market can now see that we are a full-service real-estate brokerage firm."

CORE Partners plans to spend the rest of this year acquiring new projects, such as helping reposition bank-owned properties back on the market. It will also continue to evaluate its own portfolio to see what it should keep and what it should sell.

Source: Bob Waun, vice president of business development for CORE Partners
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

BorgWarner expands tech center in Auburn Hills

BorgWarner is expanding its Powertrain Technical Center in Auburn Hills with an investment of up to $11 million.

The Auburn Hills-based automotive supplier is expanding the tech center with the aspiration of improving automotive fuel economy, lowering engine emissions and upping vehicle performance in its products.

The firm expects to create 200 new jobs at the site over the next five years. It currently has 60 open positions for the space, and the company expects to fill the bulk of those jobs within the next three years. The openings can be seen here.

"We believe in the power of collaboration," says Scott Gallett, vice president of marketing & public relations for BorgWarner. "We're going to add new engineers and equipment. It makes sense to put them all under one roof."

BorgWarner already had its Powertrain Technical Center in Auburn Hills, so the expansion of the facility was a logical move, according to Gallett. He says the new space will be able to easily accommodate another 200 employees.

BorgWarner is receiving a $3.2 million grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corp to make this investment in Auburn Hills. The city of Auburn Hills is also offering to provide a property tax abatement.

Source: Scott Gallett, vice president of marketing & public relations for BorgWarner
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

LevelSet Solutions adds 4 jobs, maximizes existing customer base

LevelSet Solutions is growing its bottom line not by focusing on new clients, but making the most of the work it does with its existing clientele.

The downtown Royal Oak-based firm, which specializes in digital marketing and tech consulting, has grown its revenue and staff significantly in the last year by solidly executing for its customers and helping them complete a deep dive to streamline and maximize their own businesses.

"We find clients who are looking for complete solutions instead of one-off projects," says Steve Swanson, president of LevelSet Solutions.

That has allowed the 5-year-old company to hire four people over the past year, expanding its staff to 17 employees, a handful of consultants and one summer intern. The newly created jobs include positions in Internet marketing, software development and business analysis.

"We're always looking (to hire)," Swanson says. "We never stop looking because it takes us a while to find the right candidate with the right skill set."

Source: Steve Swanson, president of LevelSet Solutions
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Electro-Matic Products executes move to employee ownership

Many employees dream of owning a significant chunk of the company they work for. The workers at Electro-Matic Products recently made that dream come true.

The Farmington Hills-based manufacturing technology company executed a move to an employee stock ownership plan, also known as an ESOP, last fall. About 170 people and the occasional intern work there today.

"ESOP is a pretty good thing for all of the employees and the company itself," says David Scaglione, vice president of sales & marketing for Electro-Matic Products. "It gives a solid path forward for ownership in the future."

The 42-year-old firm has handled that transition pretty expertly so far. Its revenue jumped 10 percent last year, allowing it to hire about 10 people. It now has in excess of $100 million in sales, and expectations that such growth will continue for the foreseeable future.

For instance, Electro-Matic Products' connectivity group is expanding into the machine tooling industry. It's also moving into the energy sector by selling LED light retrofits to its customers.

"It (LED light sales) is just getting started," Scaglione says. "The adoption rate in the U.S. is just under 5 percent."

Source: David Scaglione, vice president of sales & marketing for Electro-Matic Products
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

WIT hires 5, moves to bigger offices in Troy

WIT is hiring and recently moved into a bigger office in Troy to accommodate that growth.

The business intelligence consulting firm has hired five people over the last year, expanding its staff to 25 employees. It is looking at adding interns this summer. It also has four open positions right now. WIT moved into a new office last July to accommodate the additional hires.

"It's a little bit bigger place, and nicer," says Quaid Saifee, president of WIT. "It fits our needs nicely."

WIT offers software and professional services focused on managing business intelligence systems. Among those services are data warehouseing, dashboard development, and predictive analytics, among other services. Some of its clients include Ford, Chrysler and Johnson Controls.

"People are relating more and more to big data," Saifee says. "We are doing a lot more work because of that as well."

This has allowed WIT to grow its revenue by 20 percent over the last year. The firm also launched the Great Lakes Business Intelligence and Big Data Summit in Troy last year. The second iteration of the event took place last month and helped bring WIT to the center of its industry.

"That brought the whole business intelligence community into one place," Saifee says.

Source: Quaid Saifee, president of WIT
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Adams Fellowship accepting applications for new class of entrepreneurs

The Adams Entrepreneur Fellowship Program is taking applications for this year's cohort of fellows.

The year-long program, which is run out of Automation Alley, places up-and-coming businesspeople (think recent college grads) with equally promising local start-ups. The aspiring entrepreneurs, four in each class, also receive a $60,000 annual stipend to support themselves while they help grow the startups they are working for.

"We have had some real superstars coming through here," says Terry Cross, executive director of the Adams Entrepreneur Fellowship Program. "I have three right now that are knocking the cover off the ball."

Adams Fellows will become engrained in the local entrepreneurial ecosystem through participating in business development/leadership events and many programs already in existence in Southeast Michigan. Applicants can be Metro Detroit residents or people looking to move back to the region and start a business or work with a startup.

"We have a list of potential companies that are candidates for our fellows," Cross says.

Applications for the program are now being accepted. For information click here.

Source: Terry Cross, executive director of the Adams Entrepreneur Fellowship Program
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Dimensional Control Systems adds more staff, service offerings

Now that domestic manufacturing is on the rise, companies like Dimensional Control Systems are reaping some of the benefits, such as adding service offerings and staff.

The Troy-based quality assurance company has carved out its niche over 20 years helping manufacturers streamline their operations and introduce new technology that makes the building process leaner. The company now has a staff of 75 employees and two interns handling this work. It has hired three people over the last year, including two software developers and one sales professional.

"We like to hire people we know," says Ben Reese, marketing specialist for Dimensional Control Systems. "We hire a lot of people through referrals."

Dimensional Control Systems got its start in consulting for local manufacturers and eventually moved into the tech side of the business. Now it's expanding into more work in end-of-the-line manufacturing and managing big data for local auto suppliers.

"It's a whole new side of our business," Reese says.

Source: Ben Reese, marketing specialist for Dimensional Control Systems
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Carbon Media Group hires 30, expands outdoor-related digital content focus

Carbon Media Group is not trying to keep its growth slow and steady. The digital media firm is in the midst of taking a couple of big steps forward.

The Bingham Farms-based company has hired 30 people since the beginning of 2013, more than doubling its staff to 56 employees. It is looking to add some interns this summer. Many of the new jobs included positions in software development, account management, business development, sales, content writing and editing.

"We're getting ready for a big growth year in 2014," says Hyaat Chaudhary, CEO of Carbon Media Group.

For most of its first seven years, Carbon Media Group focused on digital advertising. Think banner ads, aimed at outdoors enthusiasts. It has since expanded its scope to include agriculture and action sports, like snowboarding or rock climbing. It is now working to become the largest digital content producer for the outdoor sporting world.

"It's really a growth in the breadth of the business," Chaudhary says.

Carbon Media Group now helps coordinate advertising and content creation for more than 600 websites for fans of the outdoors, agriculture and action sports/events/activities. It also has an extensive network of outdoor-related YouTube channels and its own CarbonTV outlet for online videos about the outdoors.

That expansion has allowed Carbon Media Group to grow its revenue by 33 percent in 2013. It is on track to hit its goal of 60-percent revenue growth this year, an expansion that should allow the firm to continuing hiring at a brisk pace.

Source: Hyaat Chaudhary, CEO of Carbon Media Group
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Warner Norcross & Judd staffs up IP practice in Southfield

Intellectual property work is becoming a bigger part of Warner Norcross & Judd's law practice in Southfield.

The Grand Rapids-based law firm, the third-largest in the state, has had a sizable office in Southfield for the last decade. That office has handled mostly business law work, such as contract work.

It is growing the Southfield office with the addition of a handful of new intellectual property attorneys. It has hired three over the last eight months, bringing the Southfield office’s number of attorneys to 35.

"It looks like we will bring two more on board in the next month or so," says Greg DeGrazia, intellectual property attorney for Warner Norcross & Judd. He adds, "We are ramping up our IP services on this side of the state."

Warner Norcross & Judd has a total of 220 attorneys on its payroll, including 25 in its intellectual property practice. Its new hires are taking on more technology work not only in the local automotive industry, but also for companies in other fields, such as Dow-Corning and the band KISS.

"We do all industries," DeGrazia says. "We have a lot of east coast companies."

Source: Greg DeGrazia, intellectual property attorney for Warner Norcross & Judd
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

ALC Hosted Telecommunications adapts to stay competitive

Making a go of it in the telecommunications field is not an easy play these days, which is what’s keeping the team at ALC Hosted Telecommunications on its toes.

"It's a competitive market," says Bettyanne Molitor, president & co-owner of ALC Hosted Telecommunications. "You are competing against services that are free so you have to be clever about what you're offering."

The Chesterfield Township-based company specializes in providing hosted telecommunication services for businesses. Think audio, video, and web conferencing, hosted auto-dialing, and marketing-on-hold services. ALC Hosted Telecommunications recently added a conference call interface with the ability to dial out and invite participants into a conference call.

Molitor started the business with her husband after being a stay-at-home mom for a number of years. She thought about the idea of re-entering the workforce as someone else’s employee but soon talked herself into re-entering as someone’s boss.

"The idea of going to work for someone else after not doing that for years wasn't appealing to me," Molitor says. "So I decided to go into business for myself."

It proved to be a good choice. Molitor and her husband have built ALC Hosted Telecommunications’ team up to four people and have continued to grow the firm's revenue despite the tough competition through client retention.

Source: Bettyanne Molitor, president & co-owner of ALC Hosted Telecommunications
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Rose-A-Lee Technologies spins out of Elmhirst Industries

Rose-A-Lee Technologies isn't your normal spin-out of another firm.

The Sterling Heights-based firm was spun out of Elmhirst Industries last year because Rose-A-Lee Technologies' founder, Patty Lopez, is part of the family that runs Elmhirst Industries, an automotive-manufacturing firm that specializes in everything from design to laser cutting.

Lopez is an engineer and had ambitions of being her own boss when she started Rose-A-Lee Technologies. The company specializes in engineering services and prototype manufacturing, primarily in the automotive and defense sectors. Lopez has built the firm’s staff up to three people as it gained traction.

"Over the last month or so we have been having steady work orders come in," Lopez says. "That's exciting because our customers are passing our information around."

Now that work is becoming a little more steady for Rose-A-Lee Technologies, Lopez would like to continue building on the engineering and prototyping services by diversifying the company's clientele. She would like to add more customers in not only automotive and defense, but also in the appliance and aerospace industries.

Source: Patty Lopez, president of Rose-A-Lee Technologies
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Wheels for Workers creates car-repair career paths

Greg Szczesny knows what it's like to be without a vehicle when you absolutely need one. The Allen Park resident lost his job in 2009 and car trouble didn't do anything but help him in his search for employment.

"I realized how important it was was to have reliable transportation and how difficult it was to maintain it," Szczesny says.

That experience helped inspire him to start Wheels for Workers, a new non-profit focused on helping at-risk youth find careers through car repair. The non-profit, which Szczesny hopes to move to Detroit later this year, teaches teens how to become automotive mechanics while providing hands-on experience in auto repair. Check out a video about the non-profit here.

Szczesny first pitched the idea at last year's Pure Michigan Social Entrepreneurship Challenge, an event focused on triple-bottom-line business creation and growth, and received warm reviews from the judges. He has since worked with Michigan Corps to refine the idea. He also recently finished the BUILD program at downtown Detroit-based D:hive to create a strategic plan.

Wheels for Workers has also received a $2,400 grant from State Farm Insurance. Szczesny plans to re-enter the non-profit in this year’s Pure Michigan Social Entrepreneurship Challenge as a new venture and then in Hatch Detroit to help raise more seed capital, along with other grant money.

"There is a lot of grant money out there for job training," Szczesny says.

Source: Greg Szczesny, managing director & founder of Wheels for Workers
Writer: Jon Zemke

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