New Rylee’s Ace Hardware is changing with the times


    The sporting goods department at Rylee’s Ace Hardware should be a lot more visible to customers when they walk into the new $4 million store slated to open in mid-March at 1234 Michigan St. NE. The 25,000-square-foot store is just down the street from the existing 12,000-square-foot Rylee’s at 1121 Michigan St. NE.

    When the new store concept was introduced in 2008, Rylee’s President Lori Terpstra told the Business Journal the sporting goods section would share space with hardware supplies on the main level, rather than downstairs as in the existing store. The signage also would reflect that Rylee’s is both a hardware and sporting goods store, she said.

    The new store features a mezzanine with a winding staircase and elevator; it will have a year-round lawn and garden department and three times the parking space. An Ace Fix-It repair shop also will be incorporated. 

    Terpstra previously had added a housewares department to Rylee’s stores on Michigan Street, 44th Street and Remembrance Road. She said Rylee’s has seen a steady increase in female customers and she wanted to make the store more female friendly. Her husband and co-owner of the third-generation business, Todd Terpstra, jokingly referred to her vision as “Ryakea,” referring to international RTA chain IKEA.

    Rylee’s Ace Hardware was established in 1946 by cousins John Rysdyk Sr. and Ed Leedy, who sold everything they had to buy a small hardware store called Firliks at Eastern Avenue and Michigan Street. They combined their surnames to come up with the name Rylee’s Ace Hardware. The store was unusual at the time because in addition to hardware, it carried toys, sporting goods, marine equipment, auto supplies, and lawn and garden equipment.

    In the early 1980s, Rysdyk’s son, John Rysdyk Jr., and his wife bought the business and expanded its sporting goods lines. Their daughter Lori and her husband, Todd Terpstra, purchased Alger Ace Hardware in 1995, and when Lori’s father retired in 2000, the couple sold the Alger store and bought Rylee’s Ace Hardware.

    Technology drives care

    As tens of thousands of citizens and thousands of physicians leave the state, the Michigan State Medical Society hopes that federal stimulus dollars will increase medical technology in hospitals and improve health care for those who stay.

    The Obama administration has put $19 billion into the push for information technology.

    “Health care is the largest industry that touches everyone,” Gregory Forzley, chair of the MSMS board and a family physician in Grand Rapids, told Capital News Service.

    At the forefront of health care is technology. Hospitals and physicians plan to use stimulus dollars to advance information technology. The money could yield state and federal benefits for medical practices and their patients.

    Technology such as electronic medical records will reduce errors while treating more patients at a faster pace. Only 4 to 10 percent of hospitals in Michigan are using such electronic technology, and the necessary high–speed Internet access isn’t available throughout the state, Forzley said.

    With a push for technology advancement, physicians will have to adopt the technology to help their practices while weighing the costs, he said.

    Forzely said that implementing electronic medical records in a hospital could cost millions of dollars if starting from scratch. Learning how to use a new system and training staff could add more expense into the equation.

    A long way from butterflies

    While the Foremost Insurance name will be missing this year from the butterfly exhibit at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, this will be the first year Foremost is the title sponsor of the 28th Street Metro Cruise. It’s “the icing on the cake for us. We love cars at Foremost,” said Karen Marszalec, a marketing executive at the Caledonia-based insurance company.

    Foremost folks especially love the type of cars that make the 28th Street Metro Cruise so appealing to so many people: collectible cars.

    Foremost is part of Farmers Insurance, which in turn is part of Zurich Financial Services, a global organization based in Switzerland. Somewhere in the ZFS mix is J.C. Taylor, an American insurance firm that has served the antique and classic car market in the U.S. since the mid-1950s.

    So just what is a collectible auto? According to J.C. Taylor, included are antiques, “replicars,” muscle cars, classics, customs, woodies, exotics, hot rods, kit cars, foreign and American sports cars and so on. A vehicle 25 years old or more is considered an antique, while a “classic” car is 19 to 24 years old. J.C. Taylor says that both antique and classic vehicles must be in original or restored condition.

    Premiums are “considerably less” for collectible vehicles than your everyday go-to-work car, according to John W. Todd, an assistant vice president at Foremost, simply because collectors and classic car buffs don’t let their babies get in wrecks.

    So this year’s Metro Cruise, Aug. 27-28, is officially called the 6th Annual Foremost 28th Street Metro Cruise. It’s presented and trademarked by the Wyoming-Kentwood Area Chamber of Commerce. The big swap meet for collectors will be at Woodland Mall.

    New start-up at MAREC

    The name is new at MAREC but the face is familiar.

    A start-up company called Energy Partners LLC is the newest tenant in the Grand Valley State University Michigan Alternative and Renewable Energy Center in Muskegon.

    Energy Partners, which is working on the development and commercialization of power system technologies for buildings, was founded by Jim Wolter, who is no stranger to MAREC.

    Wolter is a recently retired physicist and professor of business and new product market development at GVSU. He was among the faculty members who developed the concept of MAREC back in the late 1990s and who applied for inclusion of the future MAREC building as a SmartZone when the Michigan Economic Development Corp. created 11 such zones around the state in 2001.

    MAREC opened for business in 2003, but by then, said Wolter, the money had run out before they could “execute the original vision of the building.”

    Now, he said, Energy Partners is leasing 1,000 square feet of office and laboratory space at MAREC to take the sophisticated energy storage and generating systems already in place “and apply new technologies that have emerged and evolved in the past eight years.”

    MAREC is a business incubator that has functioning wind and solar generating equipment, a fuel cell that converts natural gas into electricity, a micro-turbine for generating electricity, and a nickel metal hydride battery system to store excess energy.

    Energy Partners will work with Coffman Electrical Equipment in Grand Rapids to bring to market equipment for energy storage and management that will enable all types of buildings to not only generate their own electricity but enough of it to add to the power grid at times of peak demand.

    Wolters, who is totally geeked about battery advancements being made now by the auto industry, noted that the cost of the high-tech electrical storage systems in use in MAREC today would only be about one-third of what it was when the equipment was installed.

    The first employee of Energy Partners is George Jaeger, a Hope College-trained biologist who will bring an “organic” dimension — read bio-based fuels and energy — to complement Wolter’s focus on battery and power systems.

    More power to you, gentlemen.

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