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Joe Boomgaard

Joe Boomgaard

Managing Editor

[email protected]

Friday, 08 June 2012 19:21

The Zingerman's way

GRAND RAPIDS — When Paul Saginaw and Ari Weinzweig created Zingerman's Deli, all they set out to do was create a tasty sandwich shop in Ann Arbor. Little did they expect that they'd go on to foster one of the most revered customer service models in all of business.

"Really all we wanted was a great corned beef sandwich," Saginaw told MiBiz during an interview in Grand Rapids, where Saginaw was attending the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies annual conference in mid-May. "We didn't grow up in foodie families."

ROTHBURY — Rising customer demand, an ideal location and available capital created an opportunity for a local company to reopen one of West Michigan's idled foundries.

Muskegon-based Michigan Steel Inc. worked with one of its key customers to convert the former Kurdziel Iron foundry in Rothbury, Mich. into a steel foundry to meet a growing demand for railroad castings. The newly formed Rothbury Steel Inc. launched production in late April with hopes of becoming a $50 million operation within two years.

GRAND RAPIDS — Joe Jones wants to change how the Grand Rapids Urban League works with businesses in West Michigan.

When Erhardt Construction Co. set out to celebrate its 50th anniversary, the company's management team wanted to do something other than throw a big party. Instead, what Ben Wickstrom and the team developed was a plan to make a statement of gratitude to the community that has supported the company in its five decades of growth.

"Rather than talk about ourselves, we want to celebrate the community," Wickstrom said.

Corporate clients might be singing the blues when they approach attorney Mark Smith for legal counsel, but they might not know that he can be found on the radio spinning blues tracks as a volunteer programmer on WYCE.

WEST MICHIGAN — For the first time in recent memory, the state of Michigan is actually adding money back to its higher education budget.

HOLLAND — Automobiles of today have been described as computers on wheels.

They have back-up cameras, seat warmers, cylinder deactivation technology, antilock brakes and sophisticated electronic stability control systems.

SOUTH HAVEN — A company that once eschewed becoming a manufacturer now finds itself in the middle of an expansion project to grow its in-house production capabilities and capacity. 

South Haven-based Riveer Environmental sells products that wind up in all corners of the world and help customers keep equipment clean. Wherever the U.S. military goes with its heavy equipment or aircraft, Riveer's products are likely to follow.

MICHIGAN — The announcement of a deal to move forward with the New International Trade Crossing not only opens new doors for Michigan manufacturers, but it also ensures that they are able to remain globally competitive. 

That's the message from a consortium of voices in the state leading up to and in the wake of the announcement in Windsor, Ontario and Detroit on June 15 that Michigan and Canada found a way to move forward with the construction of a second bridge over the Detroit River.

HOLLAND — When customers place an order for office furniture, they expect it to be delivered completely and on-time.

In essence, that sentiment serves as the driving philosophy for Chairman Don Heeringa and the management team at Trendway Corp. As of press time for this story, the company had a streak of 149 days with on-time delivery of every single item on every shipment. That attention to meeting customer expectations functions as the company's differentiator, he said.

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