The Best of the Best award was presented to Perrigo Co. of Allegan as part of the 101 Best and Brightest Companies to Work For in West Michigan awards luncheon that drew more than 500 people to the Pinnacle Center in Hudsonville Thursday. Perrigo also was the Grand Rapids Business Journal Newsmaker of the Year announced in January.
The event serves to mark accomplishments of area firms and bring awareness to the latest human resources trends and developments. The program theme, “Energy, Creativity and Innovation,” capitalizes on the opportunity for the business community to gain recognition, showcase their best practices and demonstrate how they provide an ideal place for employees to work.
“West Michigan is rich in heritage and culture. These traits distinguish the Best & Brightest and empower West Michigan companies to excel, while supporting the community at large,” said Jennifer Kluge, executive vice president of the Michigan Business & Professional Association, the main sponsor of the recognition activity.
Perrigo was recognized for its well-rounded commitment to its employees through numerous programs and policies that enable the company to continue its 120-year success path.
“People are a key strategic pillar in Perrigo’s human resources practices that focus on the entire process,” Kluge noted as she presented the award to Perrigo’s Mike Stewart.
Ten other companies were cited as Elite winners. They were: Deloitte LLP, Communication; Elzinga & Volkers, Community Initiatives; Progressive AE, Compensation and Benefits; Spectrum Health Hospitals, Diversity and Multi-Culturalism; Crowe Horwath LLP, Employee Education and Development; Skanska, Employee Engagement and Commitment; Valley Oak Financial PLC, Recognition and Retention; Arrow Strategies, Recruitment and Selection; Herman Miller Inc., Work-Life Balance; Easter Seals West Michigan Therapy Center, Small Business Category.
Hanging out together
In early April Mutually Human Software, a company that writes people-friendly custom Web applications, and People Design, a firm that helps companies develop innovative customer experiences, began sharing a collaborative workspace in Grand Rapids’ Brass Works Building on Monroe Avenue NW. The companies officially became office mates April 7.
“We see this as a chance to keep our knowledge of advances in Web application development sharp,” said Kevin Budelmann, the People Design president who is featured with his wife and business partner Yang Kim in this week’s Inside Track (page 12). “Much of the work we do in developing customer experiences includes online touch points and applications, and we need to keep informed of developments in this area so we can help our customers offer wonderful online experiences. We admire Mutually Human Software’s commitment to agile development methods. And we share a common philosophy about designing using people-centered processes. We know they’re going to make good neighbors.”
“We’ve been looking for a new home,” says John Hwang, CEO of Mutually Human Software. “And we have gotten to know People Design’s work and their people. We know that sharing space with them will give us more exposure to user-centered design research methods. It’s pretty exciting for us to gain more exposure to the design of complete customer experiences. Everybody’s going to learn. We’re happiest when we’re learning.”
Hwang explained that agile software development is a method of rapidly and frequently delivering high-quality software that aligns customer needs and goals with development. It is an iterative, incremental and collaborative process that encourages teamwork, self-organization and accountability. It has roots in lean manufacturing principles.
He said customer experience innovation is a means of differentiating business offerings by studying customer behaviors to discover unmet needs. Through empathic research, strategy and design realization, customer experience innovation helps companies offer products and services that retain loyal customer advocates.
A twittering we will go
Holland-based Web programming company Collective Idea launched its new high-level training series, Idea Foundry, from Twitter.
Daniel Morrison, president of Collective Idea and creator of Idea Foundry, was attracted to launching through Twitter because of its grassroots, viral nature. Collective Idea sent out a teaser through Twitter (say that five times fast) the day before the “true launch” to generate interest.
After the launch March 27, the Idea Foundry Twitter page went from zero to 70 “followers” within a few days. The company was able to get the message out to the multitudes within a very short period of time due to re-tweeting — when one person copies a message and resends it to their network of followers … and so on and so on. It’s like word-of-mouth after slamming 12 Red Bulls.
“In our industry and our market, there are a great number of people that are following Twitter and are Tweeting on a daily basis,” said Morrison. “From this launch we have had numerous questions, inquiries and people signing up for the trainings.”
Idea Foundry will host six training sessions between May and June this year on topics including jQuery, ExpressionEngine, Advanced Rails, Behavior Driven Development and more. For more information go to www.collectiveidea.com or twitter.com/ideafoundry.
Path for women outlined
A one-day Leadership Institute for Women takes place May 21 from 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. at Davenport University in Grand Rapids. The training message is “Tough Times are Temporary, but Tough People are Permanent.” Sponsored by Comerica Bank, the event is presented by the nonprofit Center for Empowerment and Economic Development, a women’s business center sponsored in part by the U.S. Small Business Administration. The curriculum was developed in conjunction with Davenport University, whose faculty are among the scheduled presenters.
“This executive training aims to bolster women’s leadership and business acumen, so that whatever challenges and opportunities are presented, owners will have the skills to advance their businesses,” said CEED Executive Director Michelle Richards.
“The intent is to deliver a crash-course MBA-type program, with all the key concepts and expert, engaging speakers — for a fraction of the time and cost.”
Keynote speaker is Jami Miller of JEM Computers Inc., a Grand Rapids Business Journal Top Women-Owned Business. Professors from Davenport University’s Executive MBA Entrepreneur program will lead sessions, along with several featured speakers.
“All women who are trying to hold on to and grow their businesses in today’s challenging times are encouraged to attend,” emphasizes Richards. “We’ve held the cost to a minimum so as many as possible can benefit.”
The all-inclusive price to attend the one-day Leadership Institute for Women is $90 for members and $110 for nonmembers. The Center for Empowerment and Economic Development works to empower women. Women in Successful Enterprises (WISE) is co-presenting the event.
To register, contact CEED at (734) 677-1400 or go to www.miceed.org
The Leadership Institute for Women also will be offered June 4 at Battle Creek’s Kellogg Center.