The Michigan Celebrates Small Business Award Program was launched in 2004 to recognize Michigan’s diverse and dynamic small business sector. More than 600 companies across the state have been recognized and highlighted since its inception.
“The companies selected this year give us an understanding of Michigan’s successful entrepreneurial ecosystem,” said Jennifer Deamound, director of Michigan Celebrates Small Business and associate state director of the Michigan Small Business Development Center. “These companies are significant drivers of our economy. In addition, they play a critical role in their communities as job creators.”
Companies on the Michigan 50 Companies to Watch list all meet these criteria:
• Be a privately held commercial enterprise (not a nonprofit, not publicly traded, not a subsidiary or division of another company)
• Be past the startup stage and facing issues of growth
• Employ 6-99 full-time equivalent W2 employees (including the owner)
• Have between $750,000 and $50M in annual revenue or working capital from investors or grants
• Be headquartered in Michigan
• Demonstrate the intent and capacity to grow based on:
o Employee or sales growth
o Exceptional entrepreneurial leadership
o Sustainable competitive advantage
o Other notable successes
Kalkaska Screw Products is a high-volume precision machining facility that supports the automotive, aerospace, recreational vehicle and other industries with components for their customer’s sub-assemblies. Their components go into air bags, seat belt assemblies, fuel and brake systems, and engine management systems, among others. KSP is an employee-owned company and was the Chamber’s 2013 Hagerty Small Business of the Year. KSP President Kevin Schlueter also serves on the Traverse City Area Chamber’s Board of Directors.
Safety Net is a managed service provider and IT consulting firm with offices in Traverse City and Farmington Hills. Now in its 14th year, it offers technology support for manufacturers, health care companies, retailers, banks and credit unions across Northern Michigan and the Metro Detroit Area. Its principals are Kevin Bozung and Beth Holmes-Bozung; Beth currently serves as a director on the Chamber board.
Image 360’s history dates to 2008 when Andrew and Amy Kohlmann purchased Signs Now in Traverse City. Andrew first joined Signs Now in 1996 as a Traverse City Central High School student, working his way up through the ranks and learning the business from the ground up.
In July 2013 the company relocated to a newly purchased structure at 1702 Barlow Avenue. The 4,800 square foot building underwent a complete renovation, tripling production space and transforming the former transmission shop into a state-of-the-art sign facility. The business became Image 360 on January 1, 2014. Andrew is also a former Traverse City Area Chamber director, and is among the participants in this year’s Small Business Celebration at the Chamber. The Kolhlmanns are also part of the Chamber’s Young Professionals program.
Stone House Bread’s origins date to 1995 in Leelanau County, and the company relocated its wholesale baking operations to Traverse City in 2003. The company’s signature bread products are crafted with organic flour, well water and sea salt, and are baked in a steam-injected oven that comes from Germany. Its products are sold in dozens of grocery and specialty stores and featured in restaurants throughout Northwest Michigan. The company has received national recognition through publications including the New York Times, Chicago Tribune and Bon Appetite magazine among others.
“We’re proud of the work these companies have done in Northwest Michigan, and honored that all of them are part of the Traverse City Area Chamber,” said Chamber Executive Director Max Anderson. “They’re deserving of the recognition from this prestigious awards program and we’re thankful for their involvement in and support of the Chamber.”
These local companies and the other honorees from around Michigan will be recognized at the 13th Annual Michigan Celebrates Small Business event on May 4 at the Lansing Center. Tickets are available at www.michigancelebrates.biz