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Toys 'R' Us to carry Walled Lake-based Zollipops


Toys ‘R’ Us has announced that it will begin carrying Zollipops, a dental health-friendly lollipop manufactured by Walled Lake-based LOL, in its stores nationwide.

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Nonprofit leadership series has begun at Lawrence Tech

Lawrence Technological University’s Center for Nonprofit Management, in cooperation with Plante Moran, announced the start of this year’s “Executive to Executive” speaker series for leaders in the nonprofit sector.
On Tuesday, Nov. 1, Nina Holden, vice president for institutional advancement at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit, spoke on “Fundraising 101 to $101 million: proven approaches to successful development” at Lawrence Tech’s Southfield campus.
The Center for Nonprofit Management is part of LTU’s College of Management.
Executive to Executive is a series of presentations featuring prominent leaders who are making a difference in the social sector. Other partners in sponsoring the series include the United Way for Southeastern Michigan, the Michigan Nonprofit Association, Blender Consulting Group, and the McGregor Fund.
Other presentations in the series are:
  • “Crisis communications: How to prevent and recover from bad news about your organization,” presented by Matt Friedman, co-founder, Tanner Friedman, Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2017
  • “Be the best board member you can be,” presented by Tom Wilson, president and CEO, Olympia Entertainment, Tuesday, March 14, 2017
  • “The community engagement imperative,” presented by Beth Chappell, president and CEO, Detroit Economic Club, Tuesday, April 11, 2017
All sessions in the series are held in the Mary E. Marburger Science and Engineering Auditorium, Room S100, in Lawrence Tech’s Science Building. For directions and location, visit www.ltu.edu/map. Lawrence Tech’s campus is at 21000 W. 10 Mile Road in Southfield. Admission is $30 per session per person. Online registration is available at www.ltu.edu/management/executivetoexecutive.asp.

Lawrence Technological University, www.ltu.edu, is a private university founded in 1932 that offers more than 100 programs through the doctoral level in its Colleges of Architecture and Design, Arts and Sciences, Engineering, and Management. PayScale lists Lawrence Tech among the nation’s top 100 universities for the salaries of its graduates, and U.S. News and World Report lists it in the top tier of best Midwestern universities. Students benefit from small class sizes and a real-world, hands-on, “theory and practice” education with an emphasis on leadership. Activities on Lawrence Tech’s 107-acre campus include more than 60 student organizations and NAIA varsity sports.

Clawson's Junk King spins trash into gold

As the adage goes, one person's junk is another person's treasure. It’s a lesson that the co-owners and employees of Junk King are taking to the bank.

Consider the recent case of a senior woman who had lived in the same house for decades. When she was ready to move out, she called Junk King of Detroit to help her remove some items from her home. Challenged with mobility issues, the woman hadn't even set foot in her basement for about fifteen years. When Joi McQueen, one of the co-owners of Junk King, went to the basement to see what sort of job they had ahead of them, she felt like she was stepping into a time capsule.

"It was like time had stopped in her basement. Cobwebs everywhere. Literally, no one had been down there," says McQueen. "There was stuff down there where I was like, I don't even know what this is."

"Some people get emotional sometimes when you're pulling stuff out of their basements, and they see things they haven't seen in a number of years," adds co-owner David Rzepecki.

McQueen, Rzepecki, and fellow Junk King of Detroit co-owner Kent Garibaldi have found themselves in a lot of interesting situations since first opening the Clawson-based junk removal business in January of 2016. There are the time capsule basements. There was the ghost arcade, a former business with over one hundred water-damaged arcade machines in the back. And then, of course, there are the hoarders. If there's one thing about modern America, it's that there's no shortage of stuff. That’s why McQueen, Rzepecki, a and Garibaldi figured a junk removal service seems like a pretty good bet for business.

It's hard work, removing a house full of stuff. Junk King's employees work three days on and get two days off; a standard five day work week is too physically grueling, says Rzepecki. And it's not like many of the houses are neatly packed up in boxes. Workers are often carrying out loads to the dumpster, a five-gallon bucket or two at a time. Bed bugs, too, are often the reason someone might call Junk King.

N job is too big or small; Junk King moves everything from a single television set to an entire house full of stuff. They recycle 60 to 65 percent of the items they haul away. Other items may go to the dump. Some items, say a nice couch still in good condition or a working piano, get donated to various organizations. Employees are allowed to take certain items that are otherwise destined for the trash heap, a perk of the job. One working hot tub stayed in the Clawson facility for months as the college-aged employees eyed it for the school year.

"I'm utterly amazed at the number of hot tubs we take out. It seems like we take one out close to one a day or every other day. It's amazing," says Rzepecki. "And half of them are in decent shape."

Co-owners McQueen, Garibaldi, and Rzepecki are old friends, having all worked in the medical equipment and pharmaceutical sales fields at various points over the years. Garibaldi, whose idea it was to buy into the Junk King franchise, still owns a medical equipment and pharmaceutical sales company today. Rzepecki works with him there. McQueen left the field to run Junk King full-time.

The transition from sales to entrepreneur was an easy one, says McQueen. Having to work on your own, manage a territory, and deal with customers prepared her for running Junk King. She says it's even more rewarding. She and her partners delight in seeing the joy on customers' faces after all the items have been removed.

Ten months into the business and the Junk King of Detroit crew is enjoying what they started.

"You get to meet so many people and hear their stories. I love it. I think it beats sales," says McQueen. "People are so happy; they're just ecstatic when you're done getting all of their stuff out. It's really enjoyable to see."

Logicdrop expands, set to launch new product

Earlier this year, technology startup LogicDrop was crammed in a tiny space in Berkley, its founders finding every which way to fit up to 15 employees and computers and work desks. 
Things are a little roomier now that Logicdrop has moved into a spacious second-floor space on the same block as popular nightspots Sneakers, the Loving Touch, and Woodward Avenue Brewers in Ferndale. And that's been a boon to the organization.

“We have a very close-knit team. We spend a lot of time working on the culture of our company," says Logicdrop co-founder KimJohn Quin. "We try to bring that startup mentality to our team."

Logicdrop co-founders KimJohn Quinn, John Shuell, and Jared Grabill met each other ten to twelve years ago, each coming from a long history of working at startups. They've been working on some form of their flagship technology product, Logicdrop Studio, for almost two decades now.

The technology has finally caught up to the vision they first shared nearly twenty years ago. It's a business rules platform that allows users to customize data analysis. They say their platform cuts weeks of computing time down to mere minutes.

Logicdrop is gearing up for the release of Logicdrop Studio and the bigger space is a reflection of how the company feels about its future. They've opened up their signature intelligence platform to a round of beta tests and expect to release a final version in the second quarter of 2017. The cofounders say that no matter their future growth, they want to maintain their startup mentality. 

The workplace culture is decidedly loose. There's no dress code, and there are no titles. Employees don't have to punch in and out, don't have to put in for vacation days; all that Logicdrop expects of its employees is that they complete the tasks they've been assigned.

Startups are trial-and-error enterprises, says Shuell, but they've worked it out to where Logicdrop is now growing. The team has discovered that while the Logicdrop Studio product is their goal, maintaining a service-based model to complement the development process of Studio allows them to keep the lights on. 
And it's their reputation that has carried them through; each of their clients have come to them, and not the other way around, says Shuell. Clients have included automotive companies, hospitals, law firms, banks, and Fortune 500 company Nestle.

Another way Logicdrop has kept the lights on is to hire college students. The company believes strongly in this practice; it allows them to keep costs down without having to outsource offshore talent. While it's not an official internship program, the company contends that the students it hires are better prepared for the workforce --  should they decide to leave the company after graduation, which is not often the case.

"We expect everyone to understand why they do something, not to go online and say, I found the solution, place in your code and say I'm done," says Quinn. "We want our developers to understand why they did that. And that's been a huge feather in our cap."

Though they first may be leery of the age of some of the developers, clients recommend and return to Logicdrop because of the team's successes, according to Quinn. With the pending official release of Studio and expected growth, Logicdrop is currently hiring.


Advanced manufacturing workforce training center opening in Madison Heights

A new training center designed to address the advanced manufacturing skills gap throughout the region is opening in Madison Heights. The Michigan Advanced Manufacturing Collaboration is now accepting applications for its first cohort in CNC mill certification training, which it anticipates will start this December. Officials say the first two or three groups to take the class will do so free of charge, a $3,000 to $3,500 value.

As MAMC grows, it will also offer welding and industrial maintenance programs. The cohorts will be available to adults -- especially veterans, officials say -- and will eventually expand to include high school students.

"We want what we're teaching to be life-changing for our students," says Dan Gilbertson, MAMC Director of Innovative Educational Programs and Strategic Partnerships. "These are good careers, good paying jobs."

MAMC got its start at Madison High School in Madison Heights. Gilbertson is a former principal at the high school. He and his partners anticipated an industry demand for a local advanced manufacturing workforce; a suspicion that has since been confirmed, he says.

FANUC, one of the world's largest robotics companies with its North American headquarters in Rochester Hills, brought robotic equipment to the high school to get students interested in careers in advanced manufacturing. MAMC will use equipment from FANUC, along with Rockwell Automation, Lincoln Electric, and Parker Hannifin, to teach its courses.

The MAMC facility is located in the same building as Wilkinson Middle School, having converted 12,000 sq. ft. into instruction space. Gilbertson says large areas are necessary for these types of programs.

While many manufacturing jobs have left the region, Gilbertson says that there is once again a demand for a skilled advanced manufacturing workforce. They are good jobs, he says, and much safer and cleaner than the manufacturing jobs associated with the twentieth century.

Michigan Advanced Manufacturing Collaborative is located 26524 John R Rd. in Madison Heights. People are encouraged to apply online.

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

Oakland County's CISO captures top IT award

Oakland County’s Chief Information Security Officer Chris Burrows is Michigan’s IT Professional of the Year, County Executive L. Brooks Patterson announced today. That’s according to Michigan Government Management Information Sciences (MI-GMIS) who bestowed the award on Burrows. The award recognizes outstanding individuals who advance and support the use of technology within government to improve efficiency and customer service.

“Oakland County is consistently ranked among the most digitally-advanced counties in America by the Center for Digital Government,” Patterson said. “Chris is an integral part of the team that has helped Oakland County stay on the leading edge of developments in IT. He truly deserves this award.”

Burrows joined Oakland County in 2013 bringing more than a quarter century of experience from the private sector including in risk management, information security, and IT operations. In a few short years, he has created Oakland County’s first IT risk and security program. Plus, he helped implement CySAFE, a free IT risk assessment tool Oakland County makes available to other governments and businesses in the cloud. CySAFE has been downloaded in all 50 states.

Burrows also has provided leadership and guidance as a security advocate for other Michigan counties seeking to build or enhance their IT security including Washtenaw, Wayne, Macomb, Livingston and Monroe. He is working with local universities including Oakland University and Walsh College to help them identify relevant content for their cyber security programs. In addition, he is creating his own course called “Current Issues in Cyber Security” which he will begin teaching at Walsh College.

“Chris is an outstanding addition to our IT Department at Oakland County,” said Deputy County Executive and CIO Phil Bertolini. “His innovative thinking, leadership, and willingness to help all those in the government, university and business communities make him worthy of this award.”

Burrows, 45, lives in Commerce Township with his wife Heather and two children. He holds a MBA from Lawrence Technological University, BSBA from Central Michigan University, along with numerous technical certifications including a CISSP (Certified Information System Security Professional).

For more information about MI-GMIS and the IT Professional of the Year award, go to MI-GMIS.org.

Church helps indie businesses thrive with Greenhouse Ferndale co-working space


As the number of entrepreneurs and people able to work from home grows, so does the need for low-cost office space and drop-in shared work-spaces.  Renaissance Vineyard Church in Ferndale (1841 Pinecrest) has come up with a solution that, according to Rev. Jim Pool is intended to help “bless the businesses” with a place of community, privacy if needed, and reliable internet.

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Q3: Automation Alley announces key hires, invests in tech startups

Automation Alley, Michigan’s leading technology business association, today announced its Q3 activities and results, which included attracting an international company to Southeast Michigan and two new investments to support growing technology startups in the region. In addition, Automation Alley saw major staff changes in Q3, including a new executive director and chief operating officer, as well as other key hires and promotions to support its shift towards helping companies navigate the changes involved with Industry 4.0.

Automation Alley international tenant company Cosworth Group, of Northampton, U.K., announced it is investing $30 million in a Shelby Township facility. The high-performance engine technologies firm recently moved on from Automation Alley’s International Business Center. The center, located inside Automation Alley Headquarters in Troy, Mich., provides 90 days of soft-landing space for foreign companies to use as a home base while exploring opportunities to do business in Southeast Michigan. Since 2011, Automation Alley has attracted 18 international companies to the region.

On the entrepreneurship front, Automation Alley made two significant investments in Q3, including $5,000 in TSP Enterprises, the Farmington Hills-based creator of a portable cargo management system, and $32,000 in Blackbourne Worldwide, a Sterling Heights-based hacking intelligence company. To date, Automation Alley has invested $9.09 million in 58 local high-tech companies. Now managing these investments will be Dom Holmes, who was recently promoted to manager of entrepreneurship and innovation. In addition to overseeing Automation Alley’s investment portfolio, Holmes is responsible for managing Automation Alley’s 7Cs™ program.

Automation Alley’s 7Cs™ is open to Southeast Michigan early-stage or second-stage advanced manufacturing companies seeking accelerated commercialization of their products, services or technologies. The program guides entrepreneurs through a customized seven-step process that includes intense coaching and a firm commitment from Automation Alley to invest resources and capital, taking companies from concept to commercialization.

Other key Q3 staff changes include the promotion of Tom Kelly from COO to executive director, replacing Automation Alley’s longtime leader Ken Rogers. Pavan Muzumdar was named as the organization’s new COO. Both moves are in line with the organization’s strategy to help local companies navigate Industry 4.0 technologies. Industry 4.0, also known as the fourth industrial revolution, represents the convergence of digital and physical technologies currently disrupting the manufacturing industry, such as the Industrial Internet of Things, autonomous robotics, additive manufacturing, big data, cybersecurity, cloud computing and modeling, simulation and visualization, among others.

To begin that process, Automation Alley is launching a new committee structure, comprised of
members and regional thought leaders who will develop a strategy to help small and medium-sized manufacturers adopt these technologies.

“By joining one of our Industry 4.0 committees, individuals will have the opportunity to influence our programs, position their companies alongside other key players in our region and potentially shape the future of technology and manufacturing,” Kelly said.

Industry 4.0 and the changes ahead will be the focal point of Automation Alley’s 16th Annual Awards Gala, to be held Oct. 14 at the Detroit Yacht Club. Sheryl Connelly, Global Trends and Futuring, Ford Motor Company, will keynote the event. To register, visit automationalley.com/awardsgala.

Also coming up is Automation Alley’s trade mission to Mexico, Oct. 16-21. Following that mission, Automation Alley will be seeking company participants for its trade mission to the Paris Air Show in June of 2017. For more information or to register, visit automationalley.com or call International Business Services Manager Lisa Lasser at 248-457-3283 or email lasserl@automationalley.com.

About Automation Alley
Automation Alley is Michigan’s leading technology business association, connecting businesses with talent, resources and funding to accelerate innovation and fuel Southeast Michigan’s economy. Since its founding in 1999, the nonprofit has grown to include nearly 1,000 tech-focused members in businesses, education and government. Automation Alley focuses its efforts in five areas: advanced manufacturing, defense, entrepreneurship, international business and talent development. For more information, visit automationalley.com.  

Keego Harbor printing company to expand in Pontiac, add 16 jobs


Company Folders, Inc. of Keego Harbor is planning to expand in Pontiac and add 16 new jobs.

The company’s founder and CEO Vladimir Gendelman announced he recently closed on the purchase of a building in downtown Pontiac with plans to move his printing company there and expand his staff.

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Pontiac businesses win $15,000 in cash, services


At the inaugural Pitch 'N' Pontiac contest, three finalists shared prizes and services valued at $15,000 to help their businesses grow.

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Lawrence Tech to host international industrial engineering conference


More than 300 industrial engineering experts from 40 different countries around the world are expected to gather from Sept. 23-25 at Southfield-based Lawrence Technological University for the Industrial Engineering and Operations Management Society Detroit Conference.

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New center supports careers in advanced manufacturing

Oakland Community College (OCC) recently opened its doors to area businesses, students and the community to learn about high demand, high-paying jobs at the newly renovated Advanced Technology Center in Auburn Hills.

The revamped center supports careers in Advanced Manufacturing and is the first HURCO Lab in Michigan. It is designed to prepare students for successful careers in advanced manufacturing and other growing and innovative industries. With eight state-of-the-art machines for student use, the center will also function as HURCO's southeast Michigan showroom.

"Machinist jobs are in the top 50 in-demand jobs in the country and our region is at the hub of that training need. OCC's revamped Advanced Technology Center further supports our commitment to educate our future workforce and support economic growth," said Chancellor Timothy Meyer. "With the outstanding leadership and generosity from HURCO, we now have some of the finest equipment for student learning in the country."

Incoming OCC students can prepare for entry-level employment in CNC machining and earn four national industry certifications in just one semester. Upon completion, they can move into a CNC machining career and expect to earn $12-$34/hour.

According to Pure Michigan Talent Connect more than 6,700 skilled trades job openings are expected every year in Michigan through 2022.

"This tremendous partnership with HURCO reinvented the idea of bringing industry and education together.  By combining them in this state of the art showroom our students are not only learning, but they are being exposed to great companies that are coming to see them operating the machines," said Interim Dean of Engineering, Manufacturing and Industrial Technologies, Deborah Bayer.

"In addition to the HURCO training lab, OCC's Advanced Training Center robotics lab is second to none and the mechatronics program is leading the way with our fourth cohort starting this fall. We will soon be announcing new transportation, welding and other key training center additions supported through grant and partnership funding," she added.

Interested in mechatronics or information technology? Oakland Community College offers the Michigan Advanced Technician Training (MAT2) program that combines college-level learning with real-world experiences at a company. If you are an employer, student or parent looking for more information on the MAT2 program, please visit http://www.mitalent.org/mat2 or call OCC at (248) 232-4050.

About OCC
With five campuses throughout Oakland County, Oakland Community College offers degrees and certificates in approximately 100 career fields as well as university transfer degrees in business, science and liberal arts. The College provides academic and developmental experiences that allow each student to reach their full potential and enhance the diverse communities they serve. More than 45,000 students annually attend OCC and more than a million students have enrolled in the College since it opened in 1965. To learn more about OCC, visit oaklandcc.edu.

Newly launched Career Tool helps students find majors and careers

A new web-based tool is available to help current and prospective Oakland University students explore majors and careers. 
The Career Tool, which is accessible by clicking the “Majors and Program Requirements” tab on the left side of OU’s advising web page, is the result of a multi-year project initiated by Career Services, the First Year Advising Center, Undergraduate Admissions, and University Communications and Marketing. 
“Conversations about majors and careers go hand in hand. Students want to understand possible careers that align with a major just as much as they want to learn what majors might fit best for a career they are interested in,” said Sara Webb, director of the First Year Advising Center. “The Career Tool was designed to provide comprehensive information about majors and possible careers aligned with them in one place.” 
With the tool, students can select an OU major and find academic information, such as the school/college, department and degree requirements, as well as career-related information, including possible career options, median salaries, education requirements and professional organizations. A section on related academic areas helps students connect to other majors and minors that may be of interest.
The tool will also help OU’s academic advisers guide students in making decisions about majors and careers, according to Senior Academic Adviser Kate Hendershot.
“The wealth of information the Career Tool provides makes it a valuable resource in the advising process,” Hendershot said. “No matter where a student is in their major and career planning, they can benefit from the tool.”
For more information on academic advising at OU, visit oakland.edu/advising.

OUCARES offers pre-employment training for adults with autism, developmental disabilities

The Oakland University Center for Autism's Outreach Services (OUCARES) is offering pre-employment skills training for adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
An information session about the program will take place 6-7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, October 5, at Meadows Learning Center. To attend, RSVP to oucares@oakland.edu.
This new 12-week program, which runs from October 24, 2016 - Feb. 23, 2017, provides knowledge and skills in three key areas:
  • Interpersonal skills – communication, social awareness, networking, team work, accepting criticism, collaboration
  • Understanding employment – career options, resumes, applications, maintaining a job
  • Independent living skills – hygiene, money management, community understanding, goal-setting
OUCARES Director Kristin Rohrbeck said the training is specifically designed to help adults with ASD overcome difficulties they often face in securing competitive, meaningful employment opportunities.
“The employment difficulties often stem from an individual's challenges in communication and social interaction related to their autism diagnosis,” Rohrbeck explained. “OUCARES' goal is to help adults with ASD overcome their social and communicative challenges to learn how and where to find employment opportunities that best fit their needs, how to engage with potential co-workers and clients appropriately in order to maintain employment, and lead successful and independent lives."
The program will be held Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. - 3 p.m., at Meadows Learning Center in Rochester, Mich. The cost is $3,000 for this 25-hour per week training. Limited scholarships are available thanks to generous support from the Ted Lindsay Foundation. Applications are available at oakland.edu/oucares. 
For additional information, email oucares@oakland.edu.

SAE International Conference in Novi to focus on smart mobility technology


The SAE 2016 Convergence conference, to be held Sept. 19-20 at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi, will feature programs and exhibitions on technology that enables smart mobility, including electronics, embedded and off-board software, connectivity, autonomy, alternative propulsion, and modes of transport.

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