Development News

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Chin-Azzaro opens Ypsilanti storefront for art and photography

Three years ago, Yen and Nick Azzaro were in Chicago working as an art dealer and photographer, respectively. When they moved back to the Ann Arbor area, the husband and wife University of Michigan grads retargeted their services to the local market, creating Chin Azzaro, an art, design and photography studio. Now, the pair is expanding their operations to a new storefront in downtown Ypsilanti. 

"Part of it was client necessity. People would say, 'Where's your studio?'" says Yen Azzaro. "A lot of things just came together at the same time, and a lot of it was happening in Ypsi. So even though we were located in Ann Arbor, it just made sense to open in Ypsilanti."

In addition to Nick Azzaro's commercial work, he's been partnering with local schools to teach studio photography and taking photos for families in Ypsilanti's Hamilton Crossing. In their new downtown space, Chin Azzaro will offer weekly photography discounts to Ypsilanti residents. Yen Azzaro's services include art consulting, as well as marketing and publicity. 

"As people have learned more about us, our services have expanded, and our partnerships too," Azzaro says. "We are really open to working and collaborating with people in the community."

Chin Azzaro opened their new, 800 square foot studio Tuesday, which includes both studio space and an office. The Azzaros plan to continue to expand their services and find even more ways to work with the community and local students. 

Source: Yen Azzaro, Chin-Azzaro
Writer: Natalie Burg

Yeo & Yeo more than doubles staff, expands into new, 10,000 sq ft location

The Ann Arbor branch of Saginaw-based accounting, audit, tax and business consulting firm Yeo & Yeo is now the company's second largest with about 25 employees and a brand new office that is 2.5 times the size of their original location. 

"We are outgrowing our previous location," says Kimberlee Kelley, director of marketing for Yeo & Yeo. "Last year we merged with a firm in Southgate, Hungerford & Co. We wanted to bring some staff from that office into one office so we could make a stronger foundation of resources for our clients." 

Between the merger with the Southgate company and their own growth, the Ann Arbor staff has more than doubled in size over the past year, even as some Southgate employees remained in a satellite office in the metro Detroit office. Such growth attracted the firm to a 10,000 square foot space less than a mile from their former location on E. Eisenhower. 

"It's not too far from our current office, so it's convenient for our clients," Kelley says. "We're happy to be able to grow and expand in the Ann Arbor area. It's been an ideal location for us."

Construction began on the new space in July and included a complete remodel of the office. The firm moved in on Oct. 31. 

Source: Kimberlee Kelley, Yeo & Yeo
Writer: Natalie Burg

B Young B Fit expands into 4,200 sq. ft location

Ann Arbor native and personal trainer Brian Young's B Young B Fit began in a 900-square foot location in 2006 and has been beefing up ever since. In 2010, the member-focused gym grew into a 3,500 square foot location in Glencoe Crossings, and then continued its growth this year by moving to a 4,200 square foot space on Washtenaw Ave. 

"This new studio is designed with field turf, state of the art equipment, a private yoga studio and all the necessary tools for us to train everyone from the elite athlete to the beginner fitness enthusiast.

A former Snap Fitness, the space was ideally suited to BYBF's needs. It also includes outdoor studio space for boot camp classes and other training classes. The BYBF concept is intended focus on personalized fitness and individual progress. In addition to serving individual members, BYBF also works with local businesses on their corporate wellness programs, an initiative Young plans to expand upon in his new space. 

"We also are growing our Sports Performance programs to work with local high schools for boys and girls in sports," he says. "This is a big passion of mine working directly with athletes as I was once in their shoes."

Source: Brian Young, B Young B Fit
Writer: Natalie Burg

New State St. Area men's barber spa aims for December opening

If men in Ann Arbor's State Street Area start looking a little more dapper in 2015, there's a reason why. Toronto-based men's barber spa Taylor & Colt is bringing its grooming services south of the border, and Ann Arbor will host its first U.S. location. 

"We’re beginning to see men have an appreciation for the precise grooming techniques of their fathers and grandfathers," says Taylor & Colt's Birdie White. "We also want men to enjoy taking a bit of time for themselves in a space exclusively designed for them, rather than in a salon designed for women."

White says Ann Arbor was chosen as the first U.S. Taylor & Colt for its unique, bustling downtown vibe. The shop's buildout is now underway in their 1,100 space on E. Liberty.

"The physical space will be completely renovated, right down to the studs. Ann Arbor will be our flagship location, so we didn’t hold back," says White. 

From here, Taylor & Colt plans to open a shop in Rochester Hills next year, followed by Birmingham, Grand Rapids, Lansing and then on to other states. 

White hopes to finish renovations by mid-December and open in time for the holiday rush. They are currently hiring 7 to 8 barbers, as well as support staff and managers. 

Source: Birdie White, Taylor & Colt
Writer: Natalie Burg

DFCU eyes Carpenter Rd. location for new branch in 2015

Ann Arbor is Dearborn-based DFCU Financial's fastest growing market. To keep up, the credit union is looking at Pittsfield Twp. site to replace an existing branch with a larger location that offers more amenities. 

"It’s a high-traffic intersection, and therefore current and potential members will pass by this corner every day," says DFCU Financial CEO Mark Shobe of the new Carpenter Rd. site. "Its proximity to our current branch is an added bonus for an easy transition for our membership."

The proposed branch would be built in place of the now vacant Great Lake Chinese Seafood Restaurant on Carpenter. The one-acre property would include a new 4,600 square foot branch, drive up window and ATM, and include services "to fit our brand promise," says Shobe. 

DFCU Financial hopes to move forward with the multi-million dollar project in mid- to late-summer next year. Seven to nine full-time employees are expected to work in the new location. 

Source: Mark Shobe, DFCU Financial
Writer: Natalie Burg

Neighborhood oriented Bake Me Crazy brings cookies and pizza to E. Madison

If there's such thing as the perfect resumé for a pizza and cookie bakery entrepreneur, Harold Solomon has it. He began his career working for a French bakery before spending a decade in research and development for Dominos, working for and being a franchisee for Cottage Inn and then bringing the Insomnia Cookie truck to town. Now, he's shed those big business names and has opened his very own twist on all of it: Bake Me Crazy on E. Madison. 

"I liked the Insomnia Cookie concept, but I'm a pizza guy," Solomon says. "We're, in effect, complicating their business model with other items we think people would like delivered." 

Though the menu is still under development, that will include pastries, shakes, lunches, breakfast sandwiches, and, of course, pizza. Both with his full pizzas and the pizza by the slice he sells now, he plans to follow through on the "crazy" part of his company name with such pies as pot roast pizza, spaghetti and meatball pizza, Asian fusion pizza and more. 

Solomon's experience in the food industry has taught him the importance of a good, long slow opening, during which he can perfect his menu and get everything up to snuff. He's been quietly serving to residents and workers in his neighborhood for a couple of months now, but is looking forward to a big roll out soon. 

"We're almost there now, at the final menu stage" he says. "I'm thinking a couple of weeks." 

Bake Me Crazy currently employs a staff of four in the 900 square foot location near the corner of Main and Madison. As his delivery services and grand opening gets underway, Solomon estimates he'll employ between 10 and 20 workers. 

Source: Harold Solomon, Bake Me Crazy
Writer: Natalie Burg

New Milan pharmacy extends a more personal touch

After opening the Saline Pharmacy three years ago, Ziad Ghamraoui started hearing that his brand of customer-focused pharmacy services were in demand elsewhere as well. 

"A lot of doctors and patients were very happy with us, and a lot of Milan residents told us if we moved closer to Milan they'd give us more business," Ghamraoui says, "because we help bridge the gap in healthcare."

Ghamraoui met that demand, opening Little Pharmacy in Milan about two weeks ago. Like the Saline Pharmacy, he plans to serve customers in a variety of ways, including carrying over-the-counter medications as cheaply as possible, helping those who struggle to meet their copays, allowing people to pay with store accounts when their cash flow is short and more. 

"Brand names can be expensive," Ghamraoui he says. "We get them coupons so we can save them on their copays. We want to make sure people get their prescriptions and make sure they're on the road to health with no restrictions whatsoever."

Little Pharmacy currently occupies about 1,600 square feet of a 2,500 square foot space on Dexter Rd. in Milan. Ghamraoui has hired two employees to manage the new business. 

Source: Ziad Ghamraoui, Little Pharmacy
Writer: Natalie Burg

Original Moxie expands haircare business into Ypsi storefront

It all started because Ypsilanti resident and landscape architect Rachel Blistein wasn't satisfied with the hair product options she found in stores. She wanted something natural, but also needed the quality and complexity of the products sold in salons. So she started experimenting with making her own.

"I was doing a no-foam shampoo, and after about a year I was connected with a stylist who was willing to try out my products on her clients," Blistein says. "Then, by word of mouth, I got into Plum Market in Ann Arbor." 

Now, that experiment has grown to a full-scale haircare manufacturing and retail business, Original Moxie. And because it just won't stop growing, Blistein is now moving the business from her home into a downtown Ypsilanti storefront. 

"We found places way out in no man's land, but they had no connections to pedestrian traffic," she says. "I had my eyes on this space, and I didn't even know they had manufacturing space in the back. Then it came up for lease, and everything just sort of came together unexpectedly."

Blistein aims to open the 1,800 square foot retail and manufacturing space by Black Friday. In addition to growing into the new space, Original Moxie has grown in staff as well. First run entirely by Blistein alone when it all started five years ago, she now works with two employees, two freelancers, and, should the retail end of the new storefront demand it, she'll add another employee as well. 

With her proximity to the Ypsilanti Coop and her own business's commitment to sustainability, she hopes to partner on events and initiatives in the future. 

Source: Rachel Blistein, Original Moxie
Writer: Natalie Burg

Groovy Hopster Farm to feed craft brew industry with local, organic hops

Just when it seemed Michigan entrepreneurs had found every way to be involved in the regional craft brew movement, Louis Breskman found another: hops farming. The University of Michigan MBA already runs real estate and manufacturing businesses and was looking for a way to expand into agriculture that would be unique to Michigan. The answer was Groovy Hopster Farm.

"Michigan has one of the most exciting craft brew industries in the nation, and I wanted to find a way to enter this growing market segment in a way that I could support the industry and not just be another competitor," Breskman says. "Ann Arbor itself has a successful micro brewing scene and it made sense for there to be a local source of hops so that the Ann Arbor breweries could produce a product that was truly unique to the area."  

Breskman found that small local brewers have a need for new sources of hops, something his boutique hop farm, slated to produce its first harvest in the summer of 2015, could provide. He plans to grow varieties that are in demand in the local market, and remain flexible to continue to meet local brewers' needs. 

"Our long term plans are to establish ourselves as an integral part of the supply chain to the local brewing industry," he says. "As a local farm we plan to be able to deliver hops to our local customers with a minimal carbon footprint."

Groovy Hopster Farm will soon launch a Indigogo campaign to help with the business' startup costs. Breskman plans to hire two full-time employees to manage the farm and additional employees during their harvest.

Source: Louis Breskman, Groovy Hopster Farm
Writer: Natalie Burg

Dexter gets new Sushi Time restaurant

Until recently, when anyone from Dexter wanted to dine in a fresh sushi restaurant, they had to drive to Ann Arbor. Now, they only have to zip over to Dexter Plaza on Dexter-Ann Arbor Rd. to Sushi Time, which was opened about four weeks ago by long-time sushi chef Min Kang. 

"So many of my friends said Dexter is a nice place where many people like sushi," Kang says. "Then, I found a good place here." 

Sushi Time offers both dine-in seating for about 30 customers, as well as carryout. Kang says the restaurant's specialties are their signature rolls, which include the Dexter roll, Chelsea roll and the Lemon Wedge roll. 

"We have some plans to make more special rolls, and more appetizers," says Kang, "We have a lot of things to do, and it's getting busy." 

Kang has worked as a sushi chef in the area for 14 years, and recently decided it was time to start his own restaurant. Sushi Time is a family business, employing himself and his wife, as well as about three additional employees. 

Source: Min Kang, Sushi Time
Writer: Natalie Burg

Collier Financial opens Ann Arbor office

In January, Collier Financial will celebrate 25 years in business in Fort Wayne, but here in Ann Arbor, they'll be fresh off the heels of another celebration: establishing a new office. Though Caleb Collier has been living in Ann Arbor and serving clients of his family's business here for several years, the new, 1,200 square foot office on E. Eisenhower will give the growing financial services company a permanent presence in the area. 

"The office space is beautiful. The back offices have floor-to-ceiling windows," Collier says. "I was going back and forth between downtown and Eisenhower, but I ended up here, because for those clients in Chelsea, Dexter or even in Novi, this would be easier access for them."

The new Collier Financial office opened on Sept. 22. Collier has already hired one new support staff member and plans to hire another financial adviser and two more support staff employees. 

"My goal is to become a recognizable name in the financial services industry here," says Collier. "What we do is unique to some of the national brokerage houses. We have a different approach, and for some folks, it's really what they're looking for."

The Ann Arbor office comes at a time of growth in general for Collier Financial. The family business has recently purchased and extensively renovated a building in Fort Wayne and will soon be moving their headquarters into the much larger location. 


Source: Caleb Collier, Collier Financial
Writer: Natalie Burg

Manchester mom to inspire others into healthy living with The Distance gym

After having three kids in four years, Sarah Andrews wanted nothing more than to be able to keep up with them. In order to do so, she knew she had to start focusing on her physical fitness. What she learned during her quest to get into better shape, is that getting healthy isn't about reaching a goal weight, but about lifestyle change. That is what she hopes to teach her clients next year when opening her own gym, The Distance, in Manchester. 

"If you have a goal to live a better life, weight loss is going to happen," says Andrews. "If weight loss is your focus, it's so easy to get derailed. My purpose is to give [clients] ta focus on being healthy and training for life, not training for a size or number on the scale."

Andrews will open The Distance in an approximately 1,500 square foot space on Main Street in Manchester. It is a part of the building her husband's business Andrews Family Chiropractic, will soon occupy as well. She will teach bootcamp-style classes and will eventually expand into a variety of fitness courses. 

"They'll get a full body workout, all in one hour with different stations that will be customizable for each person," Andrews says. "You can be standing next to an elite athlete on side of you and a grandma on the other side, and all of you will get the best workout for yourselves."

Andrews hopes to open The Distance as soon after the first of the year as possible to help clients tackle their New Years' fitness goals from the get-go. She plans to grow her business over the next two years, with plans to bring on three to five additional instructors to offer additional fitness classes.

Source: Sarah Andrews, The Distance
Writer: Natalie Burg

Local fitness and tennis coach rallies support for new FitLife gym

Dominika Wozniak has already had a pretty impressive career, including playing tennis both in college and professionally, as well as being a tennis coach and personal trainer. Now, she's planning to add "business owner" to that list of titles with her own gym, FitLife. 

"I did a lot of independent training in the past," she says. "I just rented a gym and ran my class in different locations. Now I feel like I have a pretty good base of clients and want to spread the word to come and joint the studio."

Wozniak plans to open her fitness studio in a 3,500 square foot space near State St. in Ann Arbor, but first, she's planning to raise part of the funds to launch FitLife through the crowdfunding website Indigogo. Because she requires such a large space and commercial property can be difficult to come by locally, she's hoping her campaign will prove her business's viability to her prospective landlord. 

As far as plans for the business itself, she has a clear vision of what she's hoping to create.

"We want to do group classes, and we'll have a separate area for personal training. Or they can do a buddy session where two people share one training session," says Wozniak. "Variety is key. I want to make sure the people who are coming to class, can pick what would make them happy."

Though the campaign will run for 30 more days, Wozniak hopes to move as quickly as possible to open FitLife. She hopes to open in January, and plans to employ a minimum of five trainers at the facility. 

Source: Dominika Wozniak, FitLife
Writer: Natalie Burg

Manchester chiropractic office to double in size with early 2015 move

Though Andrews Family Chiropractic's upcoming move in Manchester won't be a far one, it's been a long time coming — and will be a dramatic jump in size for the clinic. 

"When I first came to town in the beginning of 2007, there was a building across the street from me that I've always looked at and thought, 'That is an awesome building,'" says Andrews Family Chiropractic owner Dr. Dana Andrews. 

Soon, that awesome building will be the new home of his office, doubling his current space, thanks to the current tenant moving out. 

"I'll be able to mange my clients and patients a lot better having more space," says Andrews. "We'll have a nice, big waiting area so people aren't standing and waiting."

Andrews has significant renovations planed for the space, which will include the creation of a private office, exam room, two adjustment rooms, an x-ray room and two massage therapy rooms. In addition to his current massage therapist, he plans to hire another massage therapist, and the increased space will allow him to add an associate to his practice in the future. He plans to complete renovations and open in the new location in February. 

Source: Dana Andrews, Andrews Family Chiropractic
Writer: Natalie Burg

Midwestern Consulting continues growth spurt with four new jobs

The fact that residential and commercial development is on the rise is good news for a lot of folks, but perhaps few more than Midwestern Consulting, an engineering services firm. Though their staff dipped to 32 employees during the recession, that number has risen to 55 over the last 24 months, including four newly added positions. 

"The residential and commercial development is up about 40 percent of what it was last year," says Scott Betzoldt, a partner with Midwest Consulting. "These people we've added are directly involved in residential and commercial development."

Midwestern Consulting has provided engineering services such as civil, environmental and transportation engineering, as well as surveying, planning, information technology and landscape architecture to both private and public clients since 1967. The new positions include  a senior project manager, project engineer, project landscape architect, and engineering and ACAD Technician. Between them the four new employees have more than 60 years of experience in their fields — they don't represent the end of the Ann Arbor firm's growth. 

"We would like to increase our client base in Washtenaw County and Southeast Michigan and try to return to what we were before 2005 and 2006," says Betzoldt, referring to the company's pre-recession staff of 85, "and at that point, we'll then consider branching out into other parts of the state." 

Source: Scott Betzoldt, Midwestern Consulting
Writer: Natalie Burg
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