Business Journal names Top Women Owned Businesses


Bridgett Tubbs-Carlon. Photo by Johnny Quirin

The cream of the region’s women-owned businesses rose to the top yesterday during the Business Journal’s Top Women Owned Businesses awards luncheon at the JW Marriott.

The 34 finalists, representing 32 companies, were separated into four categories based on annual company revenues.

The winners were revealed at the event.

Top Women Owned Businesses

$0-$1.49 million in revenue

Lynn Happel, president and veterinarian, Eastown Veterinary Clinic, Grand Rapids

$1.5 million-$3.99 million in revenue

Peaches McCahill, president, McCahill Group, East Grand Rapids

$4 million-$6.99 million in revenue

Jill Batka, president, Dynamic Conveyor Corp., Muskegon

$7 million plus in revenue

Bridgett Tubbs-Carlon, founder and owner, AppleTree Learning Centers, Grand Rapids

Winning remarks

Happel, who started her Eastown business in 2008 “when nobody was lending anything,” said perseverance is key to owning a business.

“It took a community of people who supported my dream,” Happel said, adding that the clinic, which started with three people, now employs 14.

McCahill called on employers in the region to do their part to improve the state's overall health, citing the Business Journal's recent article on the state's low ranking in Gallup-Healthways’ latest "State of American Well-Being."

AppleTree’s Carlon-Tubbs said the award is a culmination of all the hard work she and her staff have put into the business.

“I am incredibly honored just to be in this room with all of you today,” Carlon-Tubbs said.

She added AppleTree’s mission is “educating and nurturing our next generation, so thank you, Grand Rapids, for trusting them to us.”


Mary Cantando, founder of The Woman’s Advantage and a bestselling author, presented the keynote address.

Her motivational speech was directed to the women entrepreneurs and owners in attendance, and she drew plenty of support from the crowd when speaking about “drama drains” — those people who make you cringe when their names show up on caller ID.

“You don’t have to pick up that phone. You do not have to return that call. Don’t let this person take your valuable energy and throw it in the trash,” said Cantando, eliciting hearty applause.


The winners were selected by a three-person judging panel: Carol Kirkland, owner of AVE Office Supplies and president of the National Association of Women Business Owners/Michigan; Michelle Richards, president of the Michigan Center for Empowerment and Economic Development; and Eric Larson, CPA/ABV at Beene Garter.

The judges considered several factors in making their final selections, including the overall health of the business, annual growth, evidence of market leadership and business ethics. Additionally, the nominees’ employee-development programs, mentoring of others and community involvement were taken into account.

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