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Auction house celebrates grand opening in Ferndale, looks to make events out of collecting

A Birmingham-based estate sales company has expanded its business with the establishment of a new auction house affiliate complemented by a physical presence in Ferndale.

Aaron’s Estate Sales celebrated its new affiliate Block Auction House with a soft-opening event Sunday, June 3, at its new Ferndale location. A month’s worth of renovations will result in a warehouse sale at the end of the month, followed by an auction specializing in mid-century design items.

Block Auction House is a result of the success of Aaron’s Estate Sales, says owner Aaron Siepierski. But estate sales, he says, have limited markets, namely the people that attend. Auctions, on the other hand, draw on a much wider customer base, allowing Siepierski to list more valuable items at both the auction house and online.

"I always like to say that venue determines value," he says.

Establishing a physical presence allows Siepierski to make events out of the auctions. He plans on offering live entertainment and food trucks at the auctions, a move he believes will attract more young people to the events.

Additional programming will include educational seminars on antique collecting, as well as pop-up flea markets.

The Ferndale location is important, too. The city already has an established reputation for antique and vintage stores, and Siepierski hopes to draw on that customer base. Ferndale’s central location within the metro Detroit region is also viewed as an advantage.

"I named it Block because we’re getting items from the community, and selling them to the community," Siepierski says. "We’re servicing clients from our own neighborhoods."

Block is headquartered in an 8,000 sq. ft. building that includes a 4,500 sq. ft. warehouse showroom and 1,500 sq. ft. in office space.

Block Auction House is located at 2345 Hilton Rd. in Ferndale’s Iron Ridge district.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

Pet Wants in Birmingham: Fresh food and fun for your furry friends


Cindy Morris had a devastating problem. She owned three rescue dogs, and all three had cancer. That seemed like more than a coincidence, and she wanted to find out why.

“I started doing research online, saw what was in our pet’s food, what’s in the supplements they might take — wondering if we are over-vaccinating our dogs,” says Morris. What she found is that most of the packaged pet food on the shelves — even the premium stuff — is often up to 18 months old, thus depleted of the vitamins and minerals animals need to thrive.

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SBA has advice for consumers, entrepreneurs


Local Business News Executive Editor Glenn Gilbert asked Constance Logan to address issues affecting small businesses. Logan is the district director of the Small Business Administration in Michigan. Here are excerpts from her responses. 

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New shops, breweries coming to Oakland County downtowns


Downtowns across southeast Oakland County are welcoming a fresh batch of entrepreneurs to tempt shoppers, diners and the curious with everything from Peruvian food to hair pomade.

Here's a look at some of the new or future storefronts.

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Korean street food restaurant to open in downtown Royal Oak


Gogi Seoul Kitchen, a restaurant serving Korean-inspired street food and traditional Asian beverages, is now open in Royal Oak on Tuesday, Jon Carlson, managing partner of the restaurant announced.

Last winter, Carlson and his team traveled to South Korea to research culinary traditions and flavors of the region.

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Goldman Sachs small business program readies Royal Oak hot sauce maker for next phase of growth

The latest graduating class of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Detroit program let out recently, and among them is a Royal Oak hot sauce maker that is ready to take their business to the next level.

Don Button is the founder of the Royal Oak-based Smashing Empire, LLC, and its flagship brand, Hell Fire Detroit.

The line of fire-roasted artisan hot sauces won multiple Best of Show awards upon its launch at the Making it in Michigan food show and conference in November 2015, taking home the top prize in categories for flavor, quality, branding, and ability to go to market.

Now, with roughly 100 hours of 10,000 Small Businesses classes under his belt, Button is ready to take Hell Fire to the next ring.

"My background is on the creative side of business, so I’ve always made decisions based on theory and trends. While this approach has worked for me, the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program gave me the tools to analyze my business ideas in methodical ways," said Button. "In addition to identifying my leadership style, their process forced me to focus on my next logical step for growth, conduct the research, and apply forecasting models to help determine return on investment.

"The results gave me the confidence to move forward with my next phase of growth."

This is the twelfth graduating cohort of 10,000 Small Businesses Detroit, a program that features experts from several colleges and universities, as well as Goldman Sachs professionals themselves. The Babson College-designed curriculum is taught by Macomb Community College and Oakland Community College faculty on the campus of Wayne State University.

Hell Fire’s Button is one of 30 entrepreneurs to graduate from this most recent cohort.

"Even if I only apply five percent of what I learned in the GS10KSB program, my business is going to be much better for it."

Click here to learn more about the application process.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

Polka on over to this new Polish restaurant in Troy


The Polka Restaurant and Beer Cafe has all of the traditional dishes you would expect to find at a Polish restaurant. It was started by the same people who own the popular Polish market which is right next door. 

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Venerated Clawson sushi shop and market Noble Fish to expand


Listen up sushi fans: One of the area's most venerated sushi spots – Noble Fish in Clawson – is growing.

News that the tiny sushi counter and Japanese market will expand into a former coffee shop next door was announced by the City of Clawson's Downtown Develop Authority on its Facebook page.

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New restaurant boasting Wagyu and Kobe hot dogs coming to Troy


When hot dog café Loaded Links opens this summer in Troy, visitors of the fast-casual concept can try hot dogs with gourmet toppings like tempura avocado and truffle mayo and franks made with Kobe and Wagyu beef. 

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Chicago's Dark Matter Coffee sets up shop in Hazel Park


One of Chicago's most respected coffee roasters is launching a new location outside the Windy City for the first time, and it's not going to a predictable, trendy coastal city or even Detroit's booming downtown.

For its next location, Dark Matter Coffee has instead chosen the reviving stretch of John R between 9 Mile and 10 Mile in what might be called downtown Hazel Park.

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Wixom augmented reality company opens European headquarters in Czech Republic

A Wixom-based augmented reality company is expanding its international presence with the opening of its European headquarters in the Czech Republic. OPS Solutions celebrated the grand opening earlier this month.

OPS Solutions is the maker of Light Guide Systems, an augmented reality tool used to improve manual assembly and manufacturing processes through error reduction. The company’s Light Guide Systems Classic, for example, projects a digital operating canvas onto the work surface and then provides audio and visual prompts, guidance, pacing, and direction in assembling products.

In addition to the Light Guide Systems Classic is the Light Guide Systems Pro, ideal for smaller assemblies.

Founder and president of OPS Solutions Paul Ryznar and company believe that the new European headquarters in Prague will help OPS Solutions branch out and connect with companies throughout Europe, including companies in the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Spain. The anticipated result will be more business partnerships and higher sales.

"In the last several years, we have experienced an increase in the demand for our AR technology for manufacturers across Europe and Asia," Ryznar said.

"The time is right to further expand our global presence and become a permanent part of the manufacturing landscape in Europe. We look forward to growing our partnerships with powerful manufacturers around the world to make factory floors smarter and safer with technology."

OPS Solutions and its Light Guide Systems technology are applicable to any number of industries, including aerospace, agriculture, automotive, energy, heavy equipment, and medical.

OPS Solutions is located at 48443 Alpha Dr. in Wixom. Its new European headquarters is located in Prague, Czech Republic.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

Hazel Park’s Cellarmen's going strong after 3 years, expanding canning operations

If a loyal fan base and strong community support is anything to go on, Cellarmen’s mead, cider, and beer brewery promises to be the sleeper hit of Hazel Park.
What started with humble beginnings has expanded to its first official line of canned products with ambitions to sell outside of Michigan. Co-owner Dominic Calzetta, also a Hazel Park resident, says the company owes its continued success to the support of friends, family, and the Hazel Park community.
“Our regulars are completely diehard, devastatingly committed, and we couldn’t be happier with that,” Calzetta says. “That’s where it all started, and you always want to keep those people happy. You always owe it to those original people.”
Cellarmen’s began as experimentation with home brewing. Calzetta would often partner with co-owner Andy Zelewski on mead making, and later met co-owner Ian Radogast-Gvens while working at B Nektar Meadery. The trio bonded, and after gaining several years of experience working in the industry, decided they wanted to run their own business.
Calzetta says they were able to make this decision because they all shared a vision: they wanted to make mead with a specific emphasis on serving a community.
The three always wanted Cellarmen’s in Hazel Park, but finding the right building was a challenge in the beginning. For this dream project, they needed a building that could house both their production and tap room in one location.
Early in their search, Calzetta found an old lumber office down the street from where he lived that was perfect. At the time, the building was spoken for, but Calzetta was drawn to the location and kept checking back. The original business proposal fell through, and Calzetta and partners wasted no time making an offer.
“We only knew one thing to do, and that was to go make alcohol,” Radogast-Givens says. “We said if you know anybody more talented than us, then give them the building.”

Getting the building ready for business would take another six months of preparation and production. Once they had the setup down, they began to produce their own creations, with the goal of only releasing products with the highest quality.
During production, the individual partners’ strengths became distinctive. While Radogast-Givens and Zelewski excelled in working in the back making the mead, Calzetta was out in the world promoting their products and spreading the word. Radogast-Givens adds that their roles are often shifting so much that everyone is always wearing seven hats, all the time.
Describing the operation of Cellarmen’s as a literal three-man-job would not be exaggerating, especially when they first opened their doors in October 2015. Though now they occasionally hire outside help and have proper bartenders working the tap room, the trio did everything themselves in the beginning. Calzetta said those first few months had some extremely long days, but it was worth it because they quickly established their fan base amongst the Hazel Park residents.
Cellarmen’s products use real fruit and honey and never used refined sugar, concentrates or flavorings. Calzetta said they have put out a total of 120 different meads, ciders and beers within the last few years. Many of these releases were exclusives for special events such as mead day, Kentucky Derby day, tastings, anniversaries and holidays. In total, the company visits around 60 mead festivals a year.
Despite always trying something new, Cellarmen’s has some regular products that have become staples. The current lineup goes as follows: Moscow Miel, Pineapple Cider, Razzgar, Handsome Dan, Coffee Cider, and Le Goose. This lineup, however, is subject to change. While it isn’t likely that Pineapple Cider or Moscow Miel are going anywhere (due to popularity), certain drinks, such as Le Goose, have only been brought into the main lineup by popular demand. Sometimes the lineup also depends on the availability of specific ingredients.
“We like to make not only things that are approachable for everybody, but we like to have fun too,” Calzetta says.
Calzetta knew from the beginning that they wanted to move into canning their product. During their first year anniversary, they started canning in 32-ounce cans called Crowlers. While this proved to be popular in its own right, the larger than normal cans were a tough sell for newcomers or light drinkers. Calzetta knew they would have to start canning in a smaller size to be more marketable and accessible. The following year the Crowlers were replaced by smaller 12-ounce cans, which allowed select products to be canned on the spot and bought straight from the tap room.
With the tap room sustained and the locals happy, the next logical step was to branch out. To start, Cellarmen’s has canned retail versions of Moscow Miel and Pineapple Cider, sold in four-packs.
To date, Cellarmen’s has canned 188 cases of Moscow Miel and 210 cases of Pineapple Cider. These drinks, along with select barrels of their products, are now sold at beer bars, restaurants, craft beer stores, and party stores across Michigan. While this step was huge for the trio, their ambitions go much further.
Calzetta says they have recently purchased a canning line. This means they will no longer have to wait on deals with other companies; now their limited runs will become semi-frequent small runs, with the ability to push more of their main staple products. Their biggest goal, Calzetta says, is to get their products sold out of state.
But that won’t mean Cellarmen’s will ever forget their roots in Hazel Park.
“We always want to be here in this city,” says Radogast-Givens.

Fillmore 13 sets out to manufacture and distribute craft beers from Pontiac with $100,000 grant

Fillmore 13 Brewery was one of several Pontiac businesses receiving funding on March 14 as part of The Pontiac Big Idea Grant Program funded by Flagstar Bank. The grant program aims to offer one award annually to support manufacturing businesses to grow in Pontiac.


The brewery, which opened its doors in downtown Pontiac in March of 2017, was awarded $100,000 to launch manufacturing and distribution of its craft beers under the brand Fillmore 13: Brewed in Pontiac, MI.


Lee Roumaya, the owner of Fillmore 13, says he plans to use the funds to acquire canning and bottling materials as well as hire two new staff to assist with distribution. Funds will also support marketing and promotion of the product line regionally to bars, restaurants, and retailers.


“This will be a huge help for us, and it'll give us the opportunity with the funding to move forward,” says Kourmaya. “It'll help pay for more labor in the brewery, more products, a canning system, and a promotional program to get our name out there, and let people know we exist, and we are making beer in Pontiac.”


Kourmaya expects it will take three to six months before Fillmore 13 products will be available in bars, restaurants, and stores.


Brewer Bo Holcomb recommends Fillmore 13’s Abricot Belgian Ale. “It’s served right to the line between being a traditional Abbey Pale, and then with the addition of the apricot, opens it up to a lot of other beer drinkers that might sort of stay away from a Belgian style.”


This is the second announcement of grants under the Pontiac Big Idea Grant Program. On January 8, 11 grantees were announced in the first round of funding. Today, nine more are being announced in the second round of funding including:

  1. Fillmore 13 - $100k

  2. Your World Electric - $10k

  3. Libby International - $10k

  4. K&R Studios - $10k

  5. Plug N Play - $10k

  6. Upholstery with Class - $4k

  7. E&K Arts and More - $5k

  8. Epiphany Studios - $6k

  9. Max Out Fitness - $10k

The Pontiac Big Idea Grant Program is committed to investing $700,000 per year into Pontiac over five years. Of the total $3.5 million overall planned investment, approximately $500,000 will be allocated in the form of grants and $250,000 in the form of business loans, with an average grant size of $10,000 and an average loan size of $5,000 to $25,000. The disbursement is being leveraged through a partnership with CEED Lending, a Small Business Administration lender.

ArborOakland Group honored as one of the 2018 "Michigan 50 Companies to Watch"

ArborOakland Group will be honored at an awards ceremony during the fourteenth annual Michigan Celebrates Small Business gala event, May 3, 2018 in Lansing, Michigan.

ArborOakland Group, one of Southeast Michigan's leading printing companies since 1967, is proud to call the Motor City its home and with wide-ranging print capability help its clients to Speak Visually!

The company is continuing with a growth and investment strategy that has seen ArborOakland Group invest in the latest print technology, acquire two companies in 2017, and double the company's production square footage when it completed the purchase and build-out of a second location in Royal Oak, Michigan.

Don Kirkland, President of ArborOakland Group said "After completing the most recent pieces of our company's strategic vision, it was humbling to be nominated by one of our valued clients as one of the 2018 'Michigan 50 Companies to Watch'. I can't think of a better way to celebrate this honor as we begin to see the investments paying off for our team and most importantly, our clients."

Companies making it to the "Michigan 50 Companies to Watch" list are a remarkable group of second-stage companies. Defined as having 6 to 99 full-time-equivalent employees and generating $750,000 to $50 million in annual revenue, these companies form the backbone of Michigan's economy. Representing all regions of the state and a diverse range of industries, companies like ArborOakland Group are known for their exceptional entrepreneurial leadership, creation of innovation or use of innovation in creative ways, and their sustainable competitive advantage.

Winners were selected by Michigan-based judges from the banking, economic development, entrepreneurship development, and venture capital communities.

The Michigan Small Business Development Center is the managing partner of Michigan Celebrates Small Business in 2018.  Michigan Celebrates Small Business was founded by the Michigan Small Business Development Center, Michigan Economic Development Corporation, U.S. Small Business Administration - Michigan, Edward Lowe Foundation, Michigan Business Network, and the Small Business Association of Michigan.

Information about Michigan Celebrates Small Business can be found at www.MichiganCelebrates.biz.

Information about ArborOakland Group can be found at www.ArborOakland.com.

Cantoro Italian Trattoria to open in May in former Tre Monti space in Troy


Cantoro Italian Market and Trattoria in Plymouth Township announced it will open a new trattoria at 1695 E. Big Beaver Road in Troy, behind the San Marino Club in the space formerly occupied by Tre Monti. The announcement was made by Cantoro Italian Market and Trattoria owners and brothers John and Michael Fallone.

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