Street Talk: What’s in a name?


Minor league baseball is rife with colorful team nicknames, ranging from the Savannah Bananas to the Topeka Train Robbers.

Now another Michigan team can be added to the roster.

Traverse City’s baseball team will be known as the Pit Spitters.

The new name was selected from thousands of entries fans submitted last fall. Pit Spitters was submitted by several people, and of that group, Ryan Wright of Traverse City was randomly selected as the winning contestant.

“When we started this process, our goal was to find a name that represents both this region and the core values of our organization,” Pit Spitters CEO Joe Chamberlin said. “Pit Spitters hits it out of the park. Not only do we get to recognize northern Michigan’s, and specifically Traverse City’s, unique agricultural history, we have created a name and a brand that screams fun, which is what we are all about. We hope that the Traverse City Pit Spitters become synonymous with affordable, family-friendly entertainment, strong community connections and a deep appreciation for everything that Traverse City and northern Michigan have to offer as a region.”

The Pit Spitters will open its 2019 Northwoods League season at home May 28 against the Green Bay Booyah. This is the Pit Spitters’ first year as a member of the Northwoods League, a 22-team collegiate summer baseball league that plays through mid-August.

Last fall, a group of investors led by the West Michigan Whitecaps purchased the stadium and started the new franchise.

Plastics pledge

KFC’s latest sustainability pledge is ruffling some feathers.

The global fast-food chain on Jan. 24 committed to eliminating nonrecoverable or nonreusable plastic packaging by 2025.

The company said it will partner with suppliers and franchisees to identify alternatives for plastic straws, bags, cutlery and lids and support franchisees in their efforts to reduce plastic waste while looking at its current system to find ways to be eco-friendlier.

KFC also announced it fulfilled its April 2017 pledge to end the use of medically important antibiotics in its U.S. chicken supply.

“As a global brand that operates more than 22,000 restaurants in over 135 countries, KFC is in a position to have a real impact on how the industry approaches waste and packaging management overall,” said Tony Lowings, CEO of KFC. “With environmental sustainability as a core aspect of how we do business, this commitment represents a public acknowledgment of the obligation we have to address these serious issues.”

But Conrad MacKerron, senior vice president of As You Sow, an environmental and social responsibility advocacy nonprofit, said his organization has been lobbying KFC regarding its plastic pledge and feels the restaurant’s commitment falls short.

“As You Sow has been in dialogue with KFC to develop a comprehensive policy on sustainable packaging, making all packaging recyclable or compostable and ensuring that on-site waste is collected and dealt with responsibly. Today’s announcement from KFC is a weak step in just one of those areas,” he said.

“By only committing to make materials recoverable, not recyclable, it leaves a giant loophole that some of these materials will be incinerated or converted to fuels, which is not part of a circular economy approach. The company is also not committing to collect packaging from front of house in its restaurants. McDonald’s has made a stronger commitment to ensure that all packaging in its stores is recycled by 2025.”

Christy Spees, environmental health program manager of As You Sow, said KFC’s antibiotic use policy satisfied the group’s demands.

“We are happy to see that KFC has successfully implemented its commitment to eliminate the use of medically important antibiotics in its chicken supply chain,” she said. “This keeps the brand in line with competitors and helps reduce the company’s impact on the major public health threat of antibiotic resistance.”

KFC has about 21 West Michigan locations.

No excuses

New York-based GYMGUYZ is beating back the cold and forcing clients out of hibernation by delivering the workout to their homes.

As the only “Gym Guys” of Grand Rapids, franchisee John Benjamin and his team of trainers are braving the ice and snow to travel to clients’ homes in the red GYMGUYZ van stocked with 365 pieces of workout equipment.

Benjamin started the business in September 2018 and has seen steady growth since.

“Normally, the weather doesn’t affect me,” Benjamin said. “People that want to train always make up excuses — it’s too cold outside, it’s raining. We take those excuses away because we go to them.”

The extreme weather can actually play to GYMGUYZ’s advantage, Benjamin said. During the warmer months, people are usually more active outside, walking, running, biking or doing any other means of enjoying the weather.

When winter comes along, people are usually homebound and not motivated to go out to the gym.

“All that work they did during the warmer months, they put aside and put on pounds,” Benjamin said. “That’s where we come in.”

Lack of winter activity also can hurt the wallet when people are paying for gym memberships and not showing up. Benjamin argued about 80 percent of gym memberships across the country go unused.

“People start the year, they make a resolution, they go two or three times, and nobody’s holding them accountable,” he said. “Next thing you know, they’re paying for a gym membership they never use.”

Previous Business Journal reports covered GYMGUYZ’s entry into the Grand Rapids market. Founder and CEO Josh York told the Business Journal the personal training delivery concept can meet clients any time, any place and provides all the necessary equipment.

“We come to you and bring all the equipment — pool, park, place of worship, you name it,” York said. “There’s no brick and mortar, so you don’t have any excuse.”

Benjamin currently employs four personal trainers and owns one van. As business continues to grow, he said he hopes to buy more vehicles and is interviewing three more prospective trainers.

Super hangover

This year’s Super Bowl could cost companies a total of $4.4 billion in lost productivity.

More than 100 million Americans were expected to watch the game Feb. 3.

Those who take the following Monday off work could cost over $2.5 billion in lost productivity, and those who start work one hour late or spend that much time in game-related discussions could cost over $1.7 billion, according to estimates from global outplacement and executive coaching firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

According to a survey from Kronos, an estimated 13.9 million Americans called off work for Super Bowl Monday in 2018, and a similar number will likely call off this year.

Andrew Challenger, the firm’s vice president, predicts many of those unplanned absences will occur in the Los Angeles and New England areas since the game is between the New England Patriots and the Los Angeles Rams.

“Employers should accept that people are going to spend some time discussing big plays or the best commercials on Monday,” Challenger said. “Consider allowing employees to come in a bit later or encourage fans to bring in leftovers from their Super Bowl parties and throw a potluck during lunch. Use this opportunity to increase morale and workplace satisfaction.”

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