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Dan Predl is newest member of O-A-K Kalamazoo team

Dan Predl has joined Owen-Ames-Kimball Co. as the project superintendent for its Kalamazoo office. He will be responsible for leadership and direction at building sites. He will work on subcontract management, schedule control, quality assurance, and safety management. His position is newly added in response to the company's growth in the region. 

Predl has six years of construction management experience and earned Bachelor of Applied Arts in Construction Management from Central Michigan University.

Owen-Ames-Kimball Co. (O-A-K) has been in business for 125 years and is the longest-standing Construction Management firm in Michigan. It has been an employee-owned firm since 1891.

Source: Owen-Ames-Kimball

New president and CEO named by United Federal Credit Union

United Federal Credit Union has named Terry O'Rourke as its new President and Chief Executive officer. He replaces outgoing President and CEO Gary Easterling, who announced plans to retire last year.

O'Rourke comes to UFCU with 25 years of leadership experience. He most recently was chief financial officer of Lake Michigan Credit Union in Grand Rapids.

He also has been the CEO of an international manufacturing company with 700 employees. He has experience in both the financial and manufacturing industries, having been in executive positions with Kellogg, Steelcase, Bank of America and National City Bank. 

O’Rourke earned an MBA in Finance and Corporate Strategy from the University of Michigan-Ross School of Business, as well as an undergraduate degree from Western Michigan University. He and his family will relocate to Southwest Michigan this spring and look forward to becoming part of the community.

O’Rourke says he gained respect for UFCU’s staff and operation during a recent due-diligence process, as UFCU and Lake Michigan Credit Union had considered merging. 

“It all starts with people, and I have seen firsthand the strong commitment to members that exists at Team United,” O’Rourke says. “I’m looking forward to working with UFCU’s forward-thinking board of directors and the knowledgeable employees who work with members in the communities we serve every day.”

Source: United Federal Credit Union

Three new employees join AVB

Commercial and residential builders and developer AVB has recently hired a new residential service technician, a receptionist, and a commercial construction intern.

Ron Schauer has joined AVB as a residential service technician. He has more than 10 years experience in the home service industry. He has experience in building, remodeling, and repairing, having previously worked with Westside Home Improvements, W. Pennings and Sons Builders, both in Kalamazoo. Schauer will work with Customer Service Manager Paul Carrol on a variety of home service appointments.

Karleigh Pleyer joins AVB as its new receptionist. She is a currently working toward a degree in Aviation Technology at Kalamazoo Valley Community College with a double minor in Spanish and Business Administration. She previously was an administrative assistant for Berkshire Hathaway Real Estate in Kalamazoo. She will have receptionist duties and support  AVB’s accounting team. 

Paul Hebert has joined the company as a commercial construction intern. Hebert is currently studying to earn a Bachelor of Science in Engineering with a major in Civil Engineering at Western Michigan University to complement his Bachelor of Science with a major in Aviation Flight Science. He has several years of leadership experience as an officer in the United States Navy and Navy Reserve in Battle Creek. He will work with Derek Mathieu and Wendy Lockner to gain experience in project management and project engineering. He will also be work in the commercial project documentation process. 

AVB has been building in Southwest Michigan since 1981. Its commercial division focuses on construction management in the healthcare, education, office and retail markets. AVB’s custom residential building division specializes in single-family homes, condominiums and neighborhoods. AVB’s development group focuses on property development for commercial, residential, and mixed uses. 

Source: AVB


Summer camp to teach kids how business works

There's a better way for kids to learn about the business world than opening their own lemonade stand. 

Two new Western Michigan University summer camps will introduce high school students to what it takes to start a business. How the economy works and how to save are also part of the program. WMU faculty will teach both camps.

Students entering grades 10 through 12 are invited to attend an entrepreneurship camp, June 28 and June 30 where they will develop startup ideas and learn tools to launch a business. The camp--Beyond the Lemonade Stand--takes place at WMU's student business accelerator, Starting Gate, 508 E. Butler Court, Kalamazoo. Camp participants will meet entrepreneurs, take tours of local companies, learn from experts, and pitch business ideas.

The camp will cost is $25 and includes a T-shirt, snacks, and lunch both days. Space is limited to 25 participants. Register at here by Tuesday, June 14. For more information, call Starting Gate at (269) 387-5860. 

From July 18-22 students who have completed grades 8 through 12 will find out how the stock market works, how to pick stocks, when to trade, and what types of investments people can make. The camp also teaches how the economy works and how to save.

Dollars and Sense: A Finance Camp for High School Students is a one-week program that explores more than 10 different finance topics that influence individuals and the world in general, including anything from why a stock market crashes to how to save for college.

WMU faculty member and finance expert Dr. Jim DeMello teaches the class. It will be discussion-based and include two real-world projects plus a trip to Chicago to visit the stock exchanges and meet with brokers and other finance professionals.  Dollars and Sense will be taught in WMU’s Greenleaf Trust Trading Room, housed in the Haworth College of Business.

The fee is $100 and is sponsored by Sanford Advisory Services, so it is offered at less than one-fifth the actual cost of the camp. Registration is available here.

"The entrepreneurial community in Kalamazoo is growing quickly, and we wanted to reach out to local high school students who may be thinking of taking an entrepreneurial path while in college and after college," says Lara Hobson, operations director of Starting Gate.

The Haworth College of Business "has a new entrepreneurship major and minor," she says, "and with the growth in the number of Starting Gate applicants, we feel as though we can attract more students interested in becoming Broncos and pursuing their dreams of starting businesses."

Source: Western Michigan University

Borgess ProMed adds physician assistant

Certified Physician Assistant Barbara Hopps, MS, has joined Borgess ProMed Family Medicine. 

Hopps specializes in family medicine. She most recently was a physician assistant at Bronson Lakeview Outpatient Center in Paw Paw.

She has been a physician assistant and an adjunct faculty member in the Family Residency Program at the Michigan State University/Kalamazoo Center for Medical Studies, (now the Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine). 

Hopps also is a former assistant professor in the Physician Assistant Program at Western Michigan University, and she been a physician at family practice and residential centers in Kalamazoo, Otsego, and Parchment. 

Hopps earned a Master of Science degree in biomedical sciences and a Bachelor of Science degree in the physician assistant program at Western Michigan University. She also earned a Bachelor of Science degree in zoology from the University of Michigan.

Hopps is licensed with the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants. She is also board certified with the American Academy of Physician Assistants, and the Michigan Academy of Physician Assistants.

Source: Borgess

Sirri Bearss joins Borgess Womens' Health

Sirri Bearss, MSN, RN, WHNP, has joined Borgess Women’s Health as a nurse practitioner in the Medical Specialties Building office at Borgess Medical Center in Kalamazoo.

Bears previously served at the Littleton Health Center in Colorado where she was an advance practice clinician, and also served health centers in Colorado and Nevada as a traveling advance practice clinician.

She also has experience as a clinical coordinator and registered nurse at the WeCare Health Facility in Columbus, Ohio. She is affiliated with the National Association of Nurse Practitioners in Women’s Health and the American Society for Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology.

Bearss received a Master of Science in Nursing with a specialization in Women’s Health, from The Ohio State University. She obtained a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Saint Paul’s College in Lawrenceville, Va.

Bearss holds NP and RN licenses in the state of Michigan and is certified in Women’s Health Care Nurse Practitioner by the National Certification Corporation.

Sirri is now accepting new patients. 

Source: Borgess

New sushi restaurant opens in Battle Creek

Ichimi is another way of saying "very, very delicious," and that is what Jongman Kim, owner of Ichimi Sushi, is striving for at his new restaurant.

In December, Ichimi Sushi opened in the Capital Shoppes in Battle Creek. Since then it's added six employees and has been building a following of regular customers. Jongman Kim prides himself on using high-quality ingredients while keeping prices reasonable for them.

The Ichimi Volcano, a sushi roll with eel, fried white tuna, crab, flying fish roe, and various sauces is the house special. Each sauce is made in-house, and each dish is personally decorated by the chef, with no two ever exactly alike.

And every table of customers is given a small, complimentary plate of edamame to share.

When designing the interior of the restaurant, the goal was to create a warm, family-friendly environment. This is seen in the warm yellow walls, simple decor and darker wood grains used in the furniture, some of which Kim and Chef Scott built themselves.

Jongman Kim decided to open a sushi restaurant after his nephew, Chef Scott Kim told him that he wanted to run a sushi bar and kitchen. Scott Kim has 10 years of experience perfecting his skills in various Sushi restaurants--two of those years working in restaurants in Japan.

Jongman Kim says he was drawn to the location at Capital Shoppes by the quality tenants, modern look of the building and its location on one of Battle Creek's busiest streets. 

Capital Shoppes was redeveloped from a former bank drive-thru building   in 2012 by the Hinman Company. Since then, the retail center has been consistently 100 percent leased by tenants such as Advia Credit Union, BC Nails, Express Employment Professionals, Raymond James, and Weight Watchers. 

Ichimi Sushi is open Tuesday through Sunday, from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m,. and is located at 2550 Capital Ave., Battle Creek.

Source: Hinman Company

Son's decision will keep St. Joseph toy store in the family

As a child, Andy Vescolani grew up among the plush figures and kid-powered projectiles of The Toy Company. Now he is will be the manager of the business his parents have owned for 30 years, at 208 State Street in downtown St. Joseph. 

His parents, Bill and Claudia Vescolani, decided it might be time to sell the business when they heard from long-time manager Eliza Kimmerly, that she was retiring. The Vescolanis put the store up for sale last September and received some serious enquiries when Andy offered to take over. 

“We didn’t think we could possibly find a manager who was as devoted to the store and its customers as Liza was, but Andy is committed to keeping the store in the family and ensuring it stays a special place for the next generation of children, parents, and grandparents,” Claudia Vescolani said.

Vescolanis also did not expect that their children would take over the business. "We’ve always wanted them to choose their own paths, but we are thrilled that Andy has decided this is something he’d like to do,” she added.
He earned his bachelor’s degree in business from Sienna Heights University and is a Real Estate agent.

Andy Vescolani says that as the new manager he recognizes that his customers love the Toy Company exactly the way it is. If anything, he says, there will just be more of what they love. “I want to have more demonstrations on the floor and a team of toy lovers who are always willing to play a game or make the perfect gift recommendation,” he says. 

“As a parent you want to bring toys into your home that encourage imagination and bring the family together in fun ways," he says, "that’s the kind of stuff I want on the shelves of the Toy Company.” 

Source: The Toy Company

Youth in crisis to have a new alternative from Family & Children's Services

An initiative designed to reduce long-term residential placements for children facing a mental health crisis has resulted in a $250,000 grant to the Kalamazoo Community Foundation for the opening of a new residential alternative offered by Family & Children Services. 

The grant will also support Family & Children Services' Children’s Trauma Treatment program for children in foster care.

Kalamazoo Community Foundation is one of 29 community foundations in Michigan to receive a Michigan Health Endowment Fund (MHEF) grant during the 2015/2016 funding cycle.

Funding will support two, six-bedroom facilities on Family & Children Services' campus at 1608 Lake Street where children will receive temporary, overnight care. Psychiatric evaluation, nursing care, and coordination of community-based treatments will be available for those from across an eight-county region.

"Families whose child or teen is suffering a mental health crisis will now have a continuum of care from immediate crisis response, through the Mobile Crisis Response program, to short-term crisis residential support focused on stabilization – close to home," says Rosemary Gardiner, CEO of Family & Children Services.

Gardiner says the new residential option is something that has been needed for some time.  "Our human services and medical partners have needed this resource for many years. They encouraged Family & Children Services to step forward and create a local crisis residential solution. Children and youth with more acute needs simply do better in a smaller, home-like setting that can provide psychiatric evaluation, nursing care, and an individualized program for stabilization."

Carrie Pickett-Erway, president/CEO of the Community Foundation, says, "This is a powerful example of collaboration toward a common goal, with creative alignment among state, community foundation and local nonprofit agency resources."

Source: Kalamazoo Community Foundation

Wireless Land expands its operations in St. Joseph

Even though they own a Sprint Store in Benton Harbor the Aquels thought they should expand the family business with one in neighboring St. Joseph, too. So they opened a new location there, Wireless Land, at 3260 Niles Road, Suite D.

"Opening this location, even though it is close to our existing Benton Harbor location, provides a wider range of people with their own Sprint store," says Justin Arthur, Store Manager.  "We are here to take care of St. Joseph and the surrounding area's needs, whether it be account questions and changes, questions about how to use their device, or looking to get something new, we are here to help them and provide excellent customer service."

The St. Joseph location offers sales of new devices and accessories, bill payments, phone assistance, bill reviews, and answers to questions about services, promotions, or a customer's device. It also provides customer service and consultation.

“We chose this location because we felt that this was a market that has been neglected," Arthur says, "and we decided we need to serve the local residents in St Joe, with our best value in wireless. It’s time that St. Joseph had this opportunity.” 

Basel Aqel, company president, started the business in 2000. His son, Moe Aqel is the operations manager, and his son, Noor, is part of the back office workings. 

The company is always looking to move to places where they can help the community with their wireless needs. Now it has six locations: Saint Joseph, Benton Harbor, Niles, Coldwater, Sturgis, and Goshen. 

Arthur says the company has loyal, dedicated team members who are want to grow the company together and serve more people across lower Southwest Michigan. 

Wireless Land St. Joseph is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. For a limited time it is offering to beat any of their competitors' pricing by cutting bills by 50 percent.

"Come on in," Arthur says, "so we can save you some money on your monthly bill." 

Writer: Kathy Jennings, Second Wave Media
Source: Justin Arthur, Wireless Land


Franchising and the American Dream class set for early February

For those who have been thinking of opening a franchise or buying one but are concerned that they need more information, the Michigan Small Business Development Center will be hosting a class on franchising. 

The Franchising and the American Dream class will cover the pros and cons of owning your own business and how franchising provides the support and structure to help business owners succeed. 

It also will provide an overview of the franchise industry and the steps prospective franchisees should take to determine if a franchise is a good fit for their business, lifestyle, and financial goals.

Growth opportunities and funding options for business ownership all are part of the class taught by Audrey Randall, President of Paradigm Franchise Group, a franchise consulting firm.

The Franchising and the American Dream class will take place from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m, Thursday, Feb. 4., at the Haworth College of Business at WMU. The class fee is $15 and is open to the public.

Please register here. Or, for more information please call (269) 387-6004 or email

The class is sponsored by the Michigan Small Business Development Center. It provides counseling, training, and secondary market research for Michigan’s new business ventures, existing small businesses, expanding new businesses and new technology companies.  

The MI-SBDC Southwest Michigan is located at the Western Michigan University Haworth College of Business and serves Branch, Berrien, Calhoun, Kalamazoo, St. Joseph, Berrien and Van Buren counties. 

Source: Lori Puzevic, MI-SBDC Southwest Michigan

Family Health Center Mobile Health Clinic will serve KPS

The Learning Network of the Kalamazoo Community Foundation is working to address a wide range of needs that hold children back from learning. To tackle the need for better health care, a 40-foot-long, 300-square-foot mobile medical unit is ready to serve students and families of Kalamazoo Public Schools.

The mobile unit is the result of a community-wide effort to address a key element to improving access to health care and was funded  through a $683,163 grant from The Learning Network of Greater Kalamazoo.

The mobile medical unit will be going from school to school across the district. It includes three examination rooms and a waiting area, and will be staffed by two teams of three health care professionals with expertise in pediatric and adolescent care. 

Communities in Schools will coordinate student access to the services of the unit. "Parents will need to enroll their children and give their consent,"  Communities in Schools of Kalamazoo Executive Director Pam Kingery says. "Communication with parents will be really important. We want this service to be convenient and easily available and accessible."

In addition to walk-in service for acute conditions like colds and flu, the mobile health unit will offer routine immunizations, well-child exams and support for chronic health conditions.

"Think of it as a rolling outpatient doctor’s office," says Denise Crawford, president and CEO of the Family Health Center. "It delivers comprehensive care such as physicals, immunizations, well-child visits and other services that are vital to protecting young patients from preventable diseases and poor health."

The Family Health Center has recognized for some time that students and youth, especially those who are at-risk because they are uninsured, underinsured, or on Medicaid or Healthy Michigan plans often go without the health care they need, says Bill Mayer, MD, senior vice president for managed care and community health at Bronson Methodist Hospital.

Mayer, a member of The Learning Network’s leadership council who recently served as FHC’s interim chief medical officer, worked with KPS Superintendent Michael Rice and with Communities in Schools of Kalamazoo Executive Director Pam Kingery to discuss ways of addressing health care access for the district’s students. 

Through those discussions they determined a model of health care delivery that was new to the community was needed, so they proposed a way that a mobile clinic would visit the schools.

"The unit’s clinical staff could see more students who don’t traditionally access preventive health care, and have the flexibility to address more significant health issues when and where the need is greatest," Mayer says.

Multiple studies of the local situation have cited more and better access to health care services among Kalamazoo county’s top health needs priorities. A 2013 report by the Kalamazoo County Community Action Agency of the Department of Health and Community Services found that families considered economically disadvantaged were the least likely to receive adequate healthcare. These families were most likely to be families of color.

A study by Bronson Methodist Hospital, also in 2013, found the case for improved access so compelling that it became the priority focus for the hospital through Dec. 1, 2016. The report cited poverty as a significant risk factor for chronic health issues. Among the noteworthy findings from that study: "The need to support youth in understanding health issues and building healthy habits early is paramount to improving the health of the community long term."

While poverty has increased in almost all school districts in Kalamazoo County, the highest concentration of low- and moderate-income families lives and works in the urban core of the City of Kalamazoo and their children attend Kalamazoo Public Schools. 

For the 2015-2016 school year, nearly 70 percent of KPS students qualify for free or reduced-price lunches, a common measure to describe households that have limited incomes, limited purchasing power, and less access to services like healthcare.

"We knew — and the data regularly tell us —that we have extremely high rates of chronic diseases like diabetes, congestive heart failure, and hypertension within our community," says Crawford. "And we know these are far more rampant within our poorest neighborhoods and among populations of color, meaning primarily African American as well as Hispanic. KPS represents for us one of our largest opportunities for change."

Several Kalamazoo organizations came upon the idea for a different approach to health care delivery at about the same time. The Bronson Community Health Needs Assessment identified issues with availability and ease of getting to see a doctor among the common themes of its focus groups. Specifically, the issue of transportation to appointments was cited.

These views were similar to opinions expressed by participants in focus groups conducted by the Kalamazoo Center for Youth and Community (KCYC). Late in 2014, KCYC met with families in the Eastside and Eastwood neighborhoods. Their goal was to try to understand the educational needs of the families living there. Among the challenges parents voiced was transportation for doctor visits.

Meanwhile, FHC was talking to Kalamazoo Public Schools about the same challenge.

"Our goal is to maximize the distribution of learning readiness and learning support resources while minimizing the disruption to core instruction, all in the interests of school achievement and success in life," Kingery says.

Crawford says improved student health and individual education outcomes are just some of the long-term benefits of the mobile clinic, which would not have been possible without the grant from The Learning Network.

"This marks a profound change in the way we view health care delivery," she says. "We are instilling the value of health in our young people. It is a significant positive for our community that will have a lasting impact over the long-term."

The grant money from The Learning Network was part of a W.K. Kellogg Foundation grant that launched The Learning Network in 2011. Criteria for the grant — serving an urban population and meeting a clearly defined need that emerged from community engagement — was a perfect fit for the health unit.

"Health care is fundamental to education," says Amy Slancik, director of The Learning Network. "It isn’t just about being healthy enough to learn though that is crucially important. By delivering health care directly to our schools, we have the potential to transform the long-term health and vitality of a generation of young people. In this way, we can transform our collective future."

Source: Rick Chambers, Rick Chambers Associates

Nonprofit roundup: A run, a party, and funds for scholars

Runners in Battle Creek plan distance event

Battle Creek is getting a half-marathon of its own.

Organizers of the first Battle Creek Half-Marathon and 5K are now accepting registration for the running event that is the first of its kind for the Cereal City.

The course will include the festival grounds at W.K. Kellogg Airport as well as streets in nearby residential areas in west-central Battle Creek.

The BC Half was organized by local runners who began planning in 2014 for a long-distance event in Battle Creek. 

Conversations among runners led to a planning committee and spawned partnerships with initial sponsors, including the Field of Flight organization, Cereal City Athletics, Battle Creek YMCA and Territorial Brewing Co.

The race will be the morning of July 2 and will take place in conjunction with the annual Field of Flight Air Show & Balloon Festival. 

Registration is at for Battle Creek Half Marathon. Cost for the Half Marathon is $65 and $30 for the 5k. Prices increase April 1.

Registration includes T-shirts, medals, two entries to the Field of Flight event and a parking pass for all half marathon participants. 5k participants will receive a T-shirt, one pass to the Field of Flight and a parking pass. 5k participants do not receive a medal. 

Race directors are Nikki Elder and David Tanis, both of whom have organized 5K and 10K races in the area.

Source: Nicole Elder, B.C. Half-Marathon and 5K

Volunteer Kalamazoo’s 11th annual fundraising party almost here

It's time for Eat Drink Give, the annual fundraiser for Volunteer Kalamazoo. 

The Jan. 29 event marks the 11th year for the group that links people who want to volunteer with nonprofits that need them. Typically, more than 350 people show up for the evening of local food, drinks, music, and fun as they give what they can to the community.

"Every year, we add something new to the event," says arrie Vanderbush, executive director of Volunteer Kalamazoo. "It just keeps getting better and better. We are overwhelmed by the support from our friends and the community.” 

The money raised through ticket sales, sponsorships, and donations made at the party itself go to support the work of Volunteer Kalamazoo.

EAT--Participating restaurants include: BOLD, Chocolatea, Crepes by the Lakes, Earthfare, EMA Catering, Food Dance, Gorilla Gourmet, Latitude 42, NONLA Vietnamese Street Food, Old Burdick’s Bar & Grill, Pop City Popcorn, Principle Food & Drink, Rustica, The Sangria Shop, Webster’s Prime, Zazios, and Zebs

DRINK-- There will be a variety of wines from the portfolio of Imperial Beverage and local wineries Tempo Vino Winery, Cody Kresta Vineyard & Winery, Fenn Valley, Lawton Ridge Winery and St. Julian Winery; and beer from Arcadia Ales, and Latitude 42. New Holland Artisan Spirits is working with local chefs to offer our guests a wide variety of Signature Cocktails. For those interested in non-alcoholic sips, Gordon Water Systems will be onsite to have you covered.

GIVE--This year’s Presenting Sponsor is Fifth Third Bank. Forensic Fluids is this year’s Major Sponsor. Supporting Sponsors for this year’s party are: Alpha Omega Events, Big Lyle’s Big Events, Brink, Key & Chludzinski, P.C., Imperial Beverage, MLive Media Group/Kalamazoo Gazette, Sanford Financial Services, Worgess Insurance and the Radisson Plaza Hotel at Kalamazoo Center.

Eat, Drink, Give takes place from 7 to 10 p.m., Friday, Jan. 29 at the Radisson Plaza Hotel, Arcadia Ballroom. Tickets are $70. An after party dance takes place immediately following the main event. Participants can attend both for $80 or $15 for the dance alone. The $15 cover includes DJ, dancing, and cash bar for those 21 and over. Proceeds benefit Volunteer Kalamazoo.

Source: Volunteer Kalamazoo

One Well Brewing offers funds to brewing program scholars

The owners of One Well Brewing in Kalamazoo’s Milwood neighborhood are supporting the sustainable brewing program at Kalamazoo Valley Community College by establishing a scholarship for students in the program. 

T.J. Waldofsky and Chris O’Neill have funded a $500 One Well Brewing Scholarship that will be awarded annually to a student in the sustainable brewing program.

"I’m impressed with the program because it’s not just about making beer. It’s really cool that it covers everything about this industry," Waldorfsky says.

Waldofsky and O’Neill opened One Well Brewing in November 2015. O’Neill, a Western Michigan University graduate, is the head brewer and Waldofsky, a University of Michigan graduate, manages the business at 4213 Portage Street, with easy access off I-94.

“We hope to contribute to the awesome craft beer culture that other local Michigan breweries have helped to build here,” Waldofsky says. And he’s hoping the scholarship can be increased as One Well expands. “We are new and young,” he acknowledged. “Five hundred dollars is not the biggest commitment in the world, but this is what we can do now. We’re hoping to grow the scholarship as our business grows.”

Kalamazoo Valley’s sustainable brewing program is accredited and teaches all aspects of brewing science. Classroom work is reinforced through hands-on experience with the technology used in the operation of a small-scale brewery. Students will participate in a practicum class environment designing a beer recipe, monitoring and analyzing the brew throughout the brewing process, and assessing the final brew using tests and sensory evaluation.

Students have the option of transferring coursework to complete a Bachelor of Science degree is Sustainable Craft Brewing at Western Michigan University.

Source: Kalamazoo Valley Community College

AVB hires commercial project engineer, residential framer, construction assistants

Jenae Kuipers has been hired by AVB as a commercial project engineer. She will coordinate all necessary documents and communications for commercial projects for the company.

She has a background in construction and project management and since joining AVB, she has demonstrated her skills in the communication process for project coordination. 

Kuipers earned her Master's Degree of Business Administration and her Bachelor's Degree of Arts at Michigan State University.

AVB also recently hired Adam Jackson as a residential framer. He will be responsible for the framing of homes anywhere from 2,500 square feet to upwards of 5,500 square feet. He has experience working as a rough framer for Midwest Builders Inc. where he acquired the qualifications for his new role. 

Jackson is a Kalamazoo Valley Community College graduate with an Associates degree in Applied Science. He has also worked with Habitat for Humanity. 

AVB also recently hired Dylan Richards and Andrew Adriance as residential construction assistants. 

Richards was the first person hired at Warehouse Associate in Paw Paw when it opened in 2012. He is a team player who excels at building trusting relationships with colleagues. He will be called on to use this team building mentality at AVB as he assists the residential project teams with building homes.

Adriance is currently attending Kalamazoo Valley Community College pursuing his associate’s degree in Mechanical Engineering. He has extensive experience as an automotive technician from positions at Strictly Import Motorsports in Kalamazoo, FEMA Corporation in Portage and Whalen’s Speed Research and Development in Paw Paw. At AVB, he will be assisting residential project teams with building homes. 

AVB has been building in Southwest Michigan since 1981. AVB’s commercial division focuses on construction management in the healthcare, education, office, industrial, municipal, and retail markets.  AVB’s custom residential building division specializes in single-family homes, condominiums and neighborhoods.  AVB’s development group focuses on property development for commercial, residential, and mixed uses.

Source: AVB

Bjorn Green succeeds Arnie Mikon at TowerPinkster

TowerPinkster has promoted the firm’s senior principal and planner Bjorn Green to be the company’s next president and CEO. Green is succeeding Arnie Mikon, who has held the position for the last 10 years and plans to retire at the end of 2016.

"Bjorn has demonstrated his management abilities and strengthened the firm’s presence as a design leader in architecture and engineering throughout Michigan," says Mikon, who will retain his position on TowerPinkster’s board of directors and continue working with the firm as a consultant.  "He has excelled at leading TowerPinkster’s collaborative team-based approach to design, which has resulted in significant and enhanced growth for the company."
For the past eight years, Green led TowerPinkster’s business development efforts as well as the health care and Kalamazoo-area commercial market efforts.

TowerPinkster is known for its work in architecture and engineering design firm specializing in the K12, higher education, health care, commercial and government sectors. 
Before joining TowerPinkster, Green worked for Walt Disney Imagineering where he designed and developed a range of master planning initiatives for Walt Disney World. Before moving to Michigan, Green worked as a senior associate with The Chicago Consultants Studio, Inc., serving as a member of the firm’s master development collaborative that was created to respond to strategic planning, urban design and development opportunities across the United States and internationally. 

Previously, he had served as a senior designer with Skidmore, Owings & Merrill in Chicago where he worked on several international and domestic projects, including the development of a master plan for property on Detroit’s riverfront adjacent to General Motors’ Renaissance Center.
Green earned his bachelor’s degree in architecture at the University of Miami (Florida).  
Green is a member of the American Institute of Architects, American Planning Association – American Institute of Certified Planners, and is on the board of directors at Kalamazoo Downtown Development Authority, Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, and Southwest Michigan First.
TowerPinkster is an architecture and engineering design firm with offices in Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo, Michigan. Recent work includes projects for Spectrum Health, Western Michigan University, Grand Valley State University, Kalamazoo Public Schools, Grand Rapids Public Schools, Kent County, Kalamazoo County and the Gerald R. Ford International Airport.  

Source: TowerPinkster
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