Kyle Van Strien, left, and Jon O'Connor are the co-owners of Long Road Distillers in Grand Rapids. Courtesy Long Road Distillers
West Michigan has doubled its representation on this year’s list of the 50 Companies to Watch in Michigan.
More than 70 businesses statewide, including the 2018 Michigan 50 Companies to Watch, will be honored at the 14th-annual Michigan Celebrates Small Business awards ceremony on May 3 at the Lansing Center in Lansing. The event coincides with National Small Business Week, which is April 29 to May 5.
Twenty of the companies to watch are located in West Michigan, up from 10 last year.
Michigan Celebrates Small Business is a partnership of several organizations: 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.
The MI-SBDC is the managing partner of Michigan Celebrates Small Business in 2018.
The program celebrates small business excellence among second-stage companies, defined as having six to 99 full-time employees and generating $750,000 to $50 million in annual revenue or working capital from investors or grants.
The companies must be privately held and headquartered in Michigan.
“This year, we experienced new records for company nominations and applications, with over 600 nominations submitted. This is a reflection of the vibrancy of the Michigan small business community and statewide economy,” said Jennifer Deamud, board chair of Michigan Celebrates Small Business and associate state director of the MI-SBDC.
Judges from the banking, economic development, entrepreneurship development and venture capital communities selected the winners.
The judges evaluated the nominees on intent and capacity to grow based on employee or sales growth, exceptional entrepreneurial leadership, sustainable competitive advantage and various other factors tied to company success.
Grand Rapids craft spirits maker Long Road Distillers was selected as one of the 50 Companies to Watch. The recognition follows the company’s continued expansion of its distribution footprint and repeated awards for its vodka, whisky, aquavit and gin, including Best of Show honors at competitions in San Francisco, Denver, New York and Berlin.
“It’s a privilege for us to work in such an exciting industry but also to be a part of the small business community that contributes so much to our state,” said Jon O’Connor, co- founder and co-owner, Long Road Distillers. “We look forward to continued innovation and growth as a company and are excited by the challenge of living up the 50 to Watch title.”
Holland-based Volta Power Systems — a provider of lithium-ion energy storage solutions for small and medium businesses — was named one of the honorees in the SmartZone Best Small Business award category.
Companies recognized in this category were selected by their regional SBDC, SmartZone or Procurement Technical Assistance Center, or PTAC.
Honorees were selected based on their demonstration of successful growth and contributions to the economy of Michigan.
“We’re bringing the same advanced technology used in electric vehicles to the RV, marine, furniture and specialty vehicle industries to provide safe energy solutions to some of those industries’ most pressing issues,” said Jack Johnson, co-founder, Volta Power Systems.
Tickets, $145 per person, can be purchased online at MichiganCelebrates.biz. Table discounts are available.
2018 Michigan 50 Companies to Watch
ArborOakland Group, Royal Oak
boldSOCKS, Grand Rapids
Brewery Vivant, Grand Rapids
Bulmann Dock and Lift, Boyne City
Caster Concepts Inc., Albion
Central Industrial Manufacturing Inc., Harbor Springs
Children’s Therapy Corner, Midland
Dave’s Sweet Tooth, Harrison Township
DetailXPerts Franchise Systems LLC, Detroit
E7 Solutions, Troy
Elevator Service Inc., Grand Rapids
Global Clinical Connections, Portage
Global Telecom Solutions (GTS), Detroit
GMB Architecture + Engineering, Holland
Green Giftz, Grand Rapids
Harvest Creative Services, Lansing
High Level Marketing, West Bloomfield
Human Element Inc., Ann Arbor
Iron Fish Distillery, Thompsonville
Jireh Metal Products Inc., Grandville
Jonas Paul Eyewear, Grand Rapids
Joost Vapor LLC, Wyoming
Kunz, Leigh & Associates, Lathrup Village
Long Road Distillers, Grand Rapids
Lucerne International Inc., Auburn Hills
M3 Group, Lansing
Messersmith Manufacturing Inc., Bark River
MOVE Systems International LLC, Walker
One Well Brewing, Kalamazoo
Oxford Recovery Center, South Lyon
Packaging Compliance Labs, Kentwood
Race-Driven Inc., Escanaba
Ringo Services, Detroit
Shefit Apparel, Hudsonville
SimuQuest Inc., Ann Arbor
Sprinkles Donut Shop LLC, Hudsonville
Station 66, Battle Creek
Symplicity Communications, Grand Rapids
Tetra Discovery Partners Inc., Grand Rapids
TGI Direct, Flint
Tumbl Trak, Mount Pleasant
UTEC, Ann Arbor
Utilities Instrumentation Service Inc., Dexter
Vaughan Industries Inc., Detroit
Venturi, Traverse City
Voices For Health Inc., Grand Rapids
Other Michigan Celebrates Small Business honorees
KMS Designs Inc., Portage
Michigan SBDC Best Small Business of the Year Award
Saddleback BBQ, Okemos
Michigan SBDC Best Small Business honorees
Chateau Chantal, Traverse City
Chris’ Canines LLC, Cedar Springs
Diamond Solutions Inc., Midland
Kiss Me Specialty Coffee Shoppe, Prudenville
K-Tec Systems, Farmington Hills
Legacy Metal Services, Imlay City
Mid Michigan Upholstery & Awning, Alma
Our Family Friend, Hillsdale
Texas Corners Brewing Company, Kalamazoo
Trenary Home Bakery Inc., Trenary
Michigan 50 Distinguished Alumni Award – Strategically Focused
Redi-Rock International, Charlevoix
Michigan 50 Distinguished Alumni Award – Most Engaged Workplace
Atomic Object, Grand Rapids
PTAC Best Small Business of the Year
Mistequay Group Ltd., Saginaw
PTAC Best Small Business honorees
Elevator Service Inc., Grand Rapids
Fresh Baby, Petoskey
Grand Strategy LLC, South Haven
Moran Iron Works Inc., Onaway
Precision Control Inc., Commerce Township
RB Construction Company, Mount Clemens
Vetcon Inc., Flint
SmartZone Best Small Business of the Year
Proteos Inc., Kalamazoo
SmartZone Best Small Business honorees
4th-IR MI LLC, Bay City
Aberro Creative, Midland
Cogent Hex, Port Huron
Human Balance and Stability Systems, Warren
K-Tec Systems, Farmington Hills
OXX, Grand Rapids
SU2 Systems Inc., Lansing
Volta Power Systems, Holland
SBA Michigan Small Business Person of the Year
Albert F. Zehnder, CEO, Zehnder’s of Frankenmuth
SBA Michigan Young Entrepreneur of the Year
Paul J. Gallager, Jr., president, Genesis In-Home Care LLC
SBA Michigan Veteran Owned Small Business of the Year
Donald G. Heeringa, chair, Trendway
SBA Michigan Women Owned Small Business of the Year
Radhika Kandikonda, CEO, KBTS Technologies Inc.
SBA Michigan 8(a) Graduate of the Year
Ije Charles Osuagwu, president, Brix Corporation
SBA Michigan Small Business Development Center Excellence and Innovation Award
SBDC Upper Peninsula Region
SBA Michigan Women’s Business Center of Excellence Award
Grand Rapids Opportunities for Women (GROW)
SBA Michigan SCORE Chapter of the Year
SCORE Kalamazoo/Southwest Michigan