Forging Your Own Path

My family moved to Baltimore, Maryland, when I was too young to remember. I had four brothers and sisters, so there was a lot of sharing. We shared toys, cars, bathrooms—you name it. Growing up, we were always in the street playing some sort of sport, whether it was going to the baseball field or making up our own sport using whatever we had on hand. Nowadays, it seems like everything’s much more structured.

Building the Idea Factory

Imagine the office of the future.

What pops into your mind? Maybe it’s an artificial intelligence system that reminds you of your schedule as soon as you step foot in your workspace. Or virtual reality technology that allows you to be “in” the meeting room while working remotely. Or perhaps it’s something simple, like a coffee maker that always has a fresh cup waiting because it can sense when you’re on your way.

An Economic Cornerstone

Successful urban planning and development depends on partnerships—business and government leaders, commercial and residential developers, and major institutions like hospitals and universities—all of which contribute significantly to the economic vitality of a community and region. A recent study shows that Western Michigan University (WMU) is a big-time player in the regional economy.

The study, commissioned by WMU and regional economic development catalyst Southwest Michigan First, suggests that the university contributed $1.6 billion, directly and indirectly, to the economies of Kalamazoo, Van Buren, and Calhoun counties during fiscal year 2016-17.

Just Like Dad

The Cekola’s are not what you’d call a typical family. And they know it.

“Everyone looks at us like we’re weird,” laughs Bill Cekola.

If you’re from Kalamazoo, you likely know, or know of, the family. In the off chance that you don’t know them, perhaps you’re familiar with their businesses? They include include Imperial Beverage, Jac’s Cekola’s Pizza, and Chocolatea. You see, what makes the Cekolas atypical is their veritable business empire.

Community Partners in a Business Family


It has been said that when a major change occurs within a business’s world—like a change in ownership, leadership, or both—a good three to four years is needed for that change to settle in, settle down, and the company to evolve and thrive. It has been four years since Mno-Bmadsen of Dowagiac acquired Accu-Mold, LLC of Portage, and in that time, both organizations have navigated their set of sea-change the way a small ship tackles oncoming waves. They formulated a plan, sailed confidently forward, and overtook each new swell with all hands on deck. Now the two entities see themselves as family as much as business partners.

Career Lesson Plans

When he was named president of Humphrey Products in April 2016, Dave Maurer inherited the desk of his recently retired predecessor. Within its drawers, Maurer found a sheaf of papers from 1998 describing a group of industry partners trying to solve a labor shortage. To Maurer’s eyes, the problem read painfully familiar.

Investing in family culture yields dividends

With the war for talent raging on, employers are continually reminded about the importance of developing and keeping valuable team members. Turnover interrupts productivity, causing quality and service challenges. It’s also expensive. An independent analysis by the W.E. Upjohn Institute has determined in the cost of turnover in Southwest Michigan is approximately $3,500 per lost employee.

Everyone matters as companies continue to grapple with possible solutions for workforce challenges. In their book, Everybody Matters: The Extraordinary Power of Caring for Your People Like Family, co-authors Bob Chapman and Raj Sisodia detail the experience of Chapman himself, Chairman and CEO of the manufacturing technology and services company Barry-Wehmiller.

The Millennial Mindset

Today’s organizations are in the unique position of having employees who span four generations. Each with its own perspectives, qualities, and traits. Each shaped by the historical and cultural events of their generation.