Joe Boomgaard

Joe Boomgaard

Editor, covers craft beverage industry.
Twitter: @jboomgaard
Email: [email protected]

Friday, 24 January 2020 05:00

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GRAND RAPIDS — Atwater Brewery, a Detroit-based brewery with a satellite taproom in Grand Rapids, has been acquired by Chicago-based Molson Coors Beverage Co., one of the largest international brewing conglomerates. 

More than a decade ago, Grand Rapids business leaders lobbied hard to block the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians, known locally as the Gun Lake Tribe, from opening a casino near Wayland. 

Groups like 23 is Enough and MichGO drove the narrative that any casino development south of Grand Rapids would “siphon off” jobs and investment from the city’s then-rebuilding downtown, limiting growth in entertainment options and economic opportunity alike. They cited a study commissioned by the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce in the early 2000s that estimated $880 million of “economic hemorrhaging” in the surrounding counties if Gun Lake Casino were ever allowed to move forward. 

Looking around downtown Grand Rapids today, it’s hard to find evidence that their worst fears were in any way realized. 

Craft brewing industry executives worry that a lack of Pure Michigan advertisements touting the state as a brewery tourism destination could have a chilling effect on attracting out-of-state visitors to their taprooms. 

In his previous role as chairman of Mno-Bmadsen, the non-gaming economic development and investment arm of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, Eugene Magnuson was able to help out the tribe of which he and his mother are citizens. In his new position as CEO of Little River Holdings in Manistee, Magnuson gets to leverage that experience in helping advance the economic security of his father’s tribe, the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians. He spoke with MiBiz about his long-term vision for Little River Holdings and the group’s growth strategy. 

While craft beverage industry insiders expect more deals ahead nationally in 2020, the market in Michigan may be poised to level off. 

Friday, 03 January 2020 10:39

MiBiz.com’s most-read stories of 2019

Readers in 2019 turned to MiBiz.com for myriad exclusive reporting and news scoops. What sets this most-read stories list apart from previous years was the overall diversity in the most popular stories, which ranged from breaking news about M&A, lawsuits, layoffs and expansions to MiBiz exclusive reporting on West Michigan’s real estate, manufacturing, health care and craft beverage industries, among others. 

GRAND RAPIDS — An established West Michigan brewery whose products are available on shelves statewide is taking a novel approach to getting its newest brand out to market. 

Kalamazoo-based Keystone Solutions Group has experienced strong growth in recent years that President Jim Medsker expects to continue in 2020. The company is a product designer for the medical device, aerospace and automotive industries, and also offers contract manufacturing for medical devices. Keystone currently employs 58 people in Oshtemo Township and is targeting $15 million to $20 million in revenue for 2020, coming off a year of 50 percent year-over-year revenue growth. 

As the frenetic pace of projects begins to become more manageable next year, Dan Vos Construction Co. Inc. President and CEO Dan Vos hopes his company will be able to say yes to clients more often. The full-service construction firm has a strong pipeline heading into 2020, even if it is expected to slow down somewhat compared to the last couple of years.

Alcoholic beverage producers that want to market their products beyond their home markets are facing many tough realities as competition continues to ratchet up and as consumers’ preferences shift in often unexpected ways (see: hard seltzer). For its part, regional cider maker Vander Mill LLC continues to expand its markets geographically as it makes sense and with the right wholesale partners, said co-founder Paul Vander Heide. To start the new year, the company is focused on commissioning a new large-scale apple press with the aim of improving product quality and margin.

Bell’s Brewery Inc. founder Larry Bell sees another two years of turmoil ahead for the craft brewing industry, particularly as growth continues to level off and as more owners opt to take “a boatload of money” and sell their companies. As Bell’s Brewery looks ahead to celebrating its 35th year in business in 2020, the company continues to remind customers that it remains a quality and fiercely independent option amid a growing number of products now part of multinational conglomerates. 

The sale comes as JSJ hones its strategy to focus on the high-growth companies within its portfolio, which includes auto supplier GHSP, label maker McLoone, engineered metal solutions provider Hudson Technologies and Sparks Belting Co. Chairman, President and CEO Nelson Jacobson spoke with MiBiz about the drivers behind the sale and how JSJ looks to invest as it begins to bring on board the fourth-generation family members of the company’s founders. 

Order delays and technology glitches for one of the authorized liquor distributors in Michigan have craft distilleries calling for changes to the state’s Prohibition-era distribution system. 

GRAND RAPIDS — Cedar Springs Brewing Co. will join the bustling craft beverage scene on Bridge Street with a new satellite taproom and brewery. 

GRAND RAPIDS — After more than three and a half years in business, Gray Skies Distillery LLC has rebranded as Eastern Kille Distillery, effective immediately, to coincide with the first statewide launch of the company’s bourbon. 

WALKER — Chris Sherrell, a veteran grocery executive who worked with Meijer Inc. to launch the Fresh Thyme Farmers Market concept in 2012, has stepped down from the company.

ZEELAND — The United Auto Workers strike against General Motors has cost Tier 1 automotive supplier Gentex Corp. about $7 million to $8 million per week in lost sales. 

When Fox Motors negotiates deals to buy other dealerships, the Grand Rapids-based company prioritizes treating sellers fairly in the transactions. 

Sunday, 06 October 2019 11:58

Pux Cider plans Grand Rapids tasting room

GRAND RAPIDS — Conklin-based Pux Cider hopes to open its first tasting room in early 2020 in Grand Rapids’ Midtown neighborhood. 

SAWYER — A Southwest Michigan brewery is expanding with a new location in Indiana in partnership with a SpartanNash Co.-owned grocery store. 

GRAND RAPIDS — After five years in operation tucked away in a nondescript office building along U.S. 131, mead maker Arktos LLC plans to move to a new location along Grand Rapids’ bustling Bridge Street corridor. 

KALAMAZOO — In the four years since Kalamazoo Valley Community College launched its sustainable brewing program, it could use student-made beers for tastings and instructional purposes, but not offer it for sale in its on-campus full-service restaurant. 

GRAND RAPIDS — A deepening partnership with a Spain-based minority shareholder provided Founders Brewing Co. Executive Chairman John Green the perfect timing to jump back into an early-stage growth company.

GRAND RAPIDS — Founders Brewing Co. is selling a majority stake in the business to the brewery’s Spain-based minority shareholder, MiBiz has learned. 

Native American tribes that want to participate in Michigan’s fledgling cannabis industry face many bureaucratic hurdles.

WALKER — A federal agency has accused supercenter retailer Meijer Inc. of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act over its treatment of an employee at a store in Oakland County in Southeast Michigan.

new bill would end a time-consuming bonding process needed to get a license for Michigan-based craft beverage producers and certain out-of-state companies that sell alcoholic beverages in Michigan. 

HOLLAND — Reports this month that LG Chem plans to build a second U.S. lithium-ion battery plant underscore how much the automotive industry has evolved in the six years since the company started making advanced batteries in West Michigan.

GRAND RAPIDS — Tensions between Michigan craft beverage producers and the state regulatory agency appear to be ratcheting up with the filing of a new federal lawsuit, MiBiz has learned.