Leader2Leader: Alan Smaka and Tara Vandestreek

Tara Vandestreek
Accounting Supervisor at Getman Corporation

Alan Smaka
Kalamazoo Office Director for Wightman and Associates

We sat down with two local leaders to get their insights on success, development, motivation, and more.

Mike Roeder

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.

A Community On The Move

We are so excited to be celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Borgess Run this year. We’ve grown over the past four decades to include even more events.Thiswill be the ninth year for our main attraction, the Kalamazoo Marathon, but we also have 10K and 5K runs, plus a kid’s fun run and motivational mile.

Practical Application

Dream jobs don’t just fall from the sky.More often than not, making them a reality takes a lot of planning, networking, and coordination. For students like Western Michigan University (WMU) senior Katherine Collier, putting in that effort at a young age is paying off.“I’ve grown tremendously since I’ve started work here at Flowserve. Everything from my professional development to my supply chain knowledge has just blossomed,” Collier said.

Choosing A Path

Portage, MI

Michigan State University (MSU)
Marketing Major; Retail Management Minor
Expected Graduation: May 2020

Sales Operations Intern at SalesPage Technologies

Clear Mission Drives Dairy Cooperative Growth

Michigan Milk Producers Association (MMPA) has a simple mission statement: To market MMPA members’ milk to the greatest advantage possible. The succinct directive has proven to be successful.

Founded over 100 years ago, the dairy farmer-owned cooperative has grown to represent nearly 1,600 dairy farmers in Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, and Wisconsin. The cooperative supplies over 1 billion pounds of milk per year to local bottlers who fill the milk jugs found on grocery store shelves. It also produces dairy products such as butter, nonfat dry milk, cream, and condensed skim milk.

The Story Behind the Visual Storyteller

My business partner Tom Brooks and I started this company 20 years ago, in 1999.We were working for Pharmacia & Upjohn, handling its media center here in Kalamazoo. But when the company started moving its jobs to New Jersey [after it was acquired by Pfizer], we were offered new jobs. We had kids in school at the time, and we didn’t want to uproot our lives. So, Tom and I prepared a business plan and decided to buy the company and start ImageStream.

You Down With RTD?

Canned cocktails are exploding on the scene, transforming the category’s reputation.
Ready-to-drink, aka “RTD,” refers to packaged beverages that are sold in a prepared form and are ready for consumption. Unlike traditional beverage mixes or brew-it-yourself products, ready-to-drink beverages can be immediately enjoyed upon purchase.

Get Fired Up!

Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet

To design and build the best outdoor cooking and entertaining equipment in the world.

The company traces its lineage back to 1906, when the Kalamazoo Sheet Metal Company was founded to make stainless steel equipment for the dairy industry. Though heralded for its seamless welds, which reduced bacteria to ensure food safety, the company faced a challenge when the local dairy industry declined in the 1990s.

WMU to break ground on economic-development engine

Published on December 12, 2018
KALAMAZOO, Mich., – The region’s newest job and business development initiative is slated to help kick off 2019. Western Michigan University will begin development of the Business Technology and Research Park 2—BTR 2—in the next few months thanks to a $2.1 million grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration, a division of the U.S. Department of Commerce. The grant will help pay for site development in the form of roads and utilities.

Read more.

2018 Wonderful Workplaces Named by 269 MAGAZINE

Published on December 10, 2018
KALAMAZOO, Mich., – Fifteen companies from throughout Southwest Michigan have been selected by 269 MAGAZINE as 2018 Wonderful Workplaces. This award celebrates the outstanding efforts made by local businesses in the region to make their organizations great places to work. Winners are recognized in the Holiday 2018 issue of 269 MAGAZINE.

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Schupan & Sons expanding in Kalamazoo, investing $10.1 million and creating 80 jobs

Published on November 13, 2018
LANSING, Mich. – Metals and plastics recycling company Schupan & Sons Incorporated is expanding at two locations in Kalamazoo with support from the Michigan Strategic Fund, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation announced today. The project is expected to generate total private investment of $10.1 million and create 80 jobs. Michigan was chosen for the expansion over competing sites in Indiana and Ohio.

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Find Your Dream Job with OUTSIDE’s Best Places to Work

Published on November 1, 2018
Santa Fe, NM (November 1, 2018) —OUTSIDE, America’s preeminent active lifestyle brand, reveals the top 50 best places to work in the U.S. and 50 honorable mentions in 2018. Winning companies provide great workplaces for employees and encourage a balance between work and enjoying life in the great outdoors, while also respecting the environment. Southwest Michigan First, the catalyst driving economic growth in Southwest Michigan, earned top honors.

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Ka-Zoo Angels Contributes to Regional Economy in its First Year

Published on October 19, 2018
KALAMAZOO, Mich., – Ka-Zoo Angels has had an active first year of contributing capital funding to help grow Michigan’s entrepreneur community. In the fourteen months following its inception, Ka-Zoo Angels has seen 19 startup companies pitch for capital and has invested $435,000 in eight companies.

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Kalamazoo Industries Adds Three Jobs in Comstock Charter Township

Published on October 17, 2018
COMSTOCK CHARTER TOWNSHIP, MI — Kalamazoo Industries, Inc., a local manufacturer of industrial saws, grinders and dust extraction equipment is growing in Comstock Charter Township.

The company will add three new job as part of its $150,000 investment in an expansion that will increase space for finished goods warehousing, the number of incoming and outgoing loading docks to improve process flow, and manufacturing capacity. The company was recently awarded a 12-year tax abatement within the township’s Industrial Development District.

Learn more about the company at www.kalamazooind.com.