West Michigan produces 10 of state’s 50 Companies to Watch


The Michigan 50 Companies to Watch awards program is produced by several state agencies to help celebrate small businesses. Photo via fb.com

A group of partners have announced the winners of the Michigan Celebrates Small Business awards.

Nearly 60 businesses statewide, including the 2017 Michigan 50 Companies to Watch award recipients, will be honored at a May 4 gala at the Lansing Center in Lansing, which coincides with National Small Business Week from April 30 to May 6.

Michigan Celebrates Small Business is a partnership of the Michigan Small Business Development Center, or MI-SBDC, Michigan Economic Development Corporation, or MEDC, Edward Lowe Foundation, Small Business Association of Michigan, U.S. Small Business Administration and Michigan Business Network.

Nomination criteria

Companies nominated for the Michigan 50 Companies to Watch award must be second-stage companies, defined as having six to 99 full-time-equivalent employees and generating $750,000 to $50 million in annual revenue or working capital from investors or grants. In addition, the companies must be privately held and headquartered in Michigan.

“The companies selected this year give us an understanding of Michigan’s successful entrepreneurial ecosystem,” said Jennifer Deamud, director of Michigan Celebrates Small Business and associate state director of MI-SBDC.

“These companies are significant drivers of our economy. In addition, they play a critical role in their communities as job creators.”

Award criteria

Judges from the banking, economic development, entrepreneurship development and venture capital sectors selected the winners.

The judges evaluated the nominees on intent, capacity to grow based on employee or sales growth, exceptional entrepreneurial leadership, sustainable competitive advantage and other factors tied to company success.

Local growth

Grand Rapids-based marketing agency ManoByte was named one of the Michigan 50 Companies to Watch. Founder and CEO Kevin Dean called it a “great honor.”

“For us, the award represents many years of dedication to the inbound marketing process and how it revolutionizes the marketing efforts of businesses today,” Dean said. “Our team works tirelessly each day to produce measurable results for our clients, so we are very thankful and humbled to be acknowledged for that work with this prestigious award.”

Grand Rapids-based digital signage and media production company Freshwater Digital was also named one of the Michigan 50 Companies to Watch.

“With nearly one million small businesses in Michigan, I am truly honored that Freshwater was recognized for its continued success and growth,” said Matt Downey, president, Freshwater Digital.

New this year

Michigan Celebrates Small Business will present two new awards at the May 4 gala.

Winners of the Strategically Focused Award and Most Engaged Workplace Award will be announced soon.

Michigan Celebrates Small Business

Now in its 13th year, Michigan Celebrates Small Business has a network of more than 600 award recipients to date.

MI-SBDC is the managing partner of Michigan Celebrates Small Business awards in 2017. MI-SBDC has acted as managing partner of the awards program 11 times.


Tickets are available for $135 per person and $900 for a table of eight.

Tickets can be purchased online.

Michigan 50 Companies to Watch winners

Advanced Blending Solutions, Wallace

Advanced Battery Concepts, Clare

Air and Liquid Systems, Rochester Hills

Ambassador Software, Royal Oak

America’s Preferred Home Warranty, Jackson

ASK, Lansing

Brown Iron Brewhouse, Washington

Collective Idea, Holland

Continuity Programs, Walled Lake

Dataspeed, Rochester Hills

Decypher, Berkley

Doberman Technologies, Mason

Downtown Restaurant Investments, Bay City

DROUGHT, Royal Oak

Edify North, Holland

Environmental Testing and Consulting, Romulus

Freshwater Digital, Grand Rapids

Goldner Walsh Garden & Home, Pontiac

Hurley Marine, Escanaba

Image360, Traverse City

IMC – Independent Machine Company, Escanaba

inFORM Studio, Northville

J Keller Properties, Ann Arbor

JetCo Solutions, Grand Rapids

K & M Industrial, Gladstone

Kalkaska Screw Products, Kalkaska

K-Tec Systems, Farmington Hills

Latitude 42 Brewing Company, Portage

Love & Buttercream, Royal Oak

ManoByte, Grand Rapids

McCreadie Group, Ann Arbor

Mixed Staffing & Recruiting, Grand Rapids

Mobile Defenders, Kentwood

Motor City Carpet & Flooring, Warren

MTW Industries, Mount Pleasant

Northern Promotions, Lachine

OneStream Software, Rochester

P.J. Wallbank Springs, Port Huron

RBV Contracting,  Detroit

Safety Net, Traverse City

Sandalwood Engineering & Ergonomics, Livonia

Stone House Bread, Traverse City

Tech Defenders, Grand Rapids

Torrent Consulting, Ann Arbor

Towel Tracker, Grand Rapids

United Technical, Whitmore Lake

Van Straten Brothers, Baraga

Vollwerth & Baroni Companies, Hancock

Xeratec Corporation, Hancock

Youngtronics, Wixom

Other winners

The following companies will also be honored at the Michigan Celebrates Small Business gala:

Main Street USA Award: Sandlot Sports, Saginaw

Innovation of the Year Award: Light Guide Systems, Wixom

Government Contractor of the Year Award: RBV Contracting, Detroit

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