Here is the MiBiz People in the news report for March 28, 2022
- Community leaders Christine and Russ Visner joined The Ferris Foundation Board of Directors, marking a return to their alma mater.
Christine Visner was Ferris State University’s first woman to serve as all college student government president, a position she held as she completed a bachelor’s degree in secondary education. In 1972, she was selected as Woman of the Year at the university. After teaching math in the East Grand Rapids Public School District, she committed to full-time parenthood and community volunteer work. In 2011, she was honored as the outstanding volunteer fundraiser by the Association of Fundraising Professionals.
Russ Visner is a graduate of the university’s business college. After graduation, he worked with Etna Supply Co., a plumbing and water system hardware distributor, for 36 years and retired as CEO.
Russ Visner also has served as chairperson of the Mercy Health Saint Mary’s governing board and lead director of the Affiliated Distributors Board.
- The Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity has made several staff changes in the Office of Sixty by 30, including the appointment of a new leader. Sarah Szurpicki was named the new director of the office, which oversees an initiative to have 60 percent of Michigan’s population obtain a college degree or certification. Szurpicki on March 21 began overseeing key workforce development programs such as Futures for Frontliners and Michigan Reconnect. Szurpicki, a Harvard graduate, previously worked with Detroit-based consultancy New Solutions Group LLC as well as Michigan Future Inc., an education and labor policy think tank.
Jayshona Hicks and Tracy Spilker also recently joined Sixty by 30. Hicks will transition from her navigator lead position to a new role as the student success manager, leading the state’s effort to increase college completion as well as addressing barriers to student success and enrollment. Spilker was appointed as the Michigan Reconnect navigator for Mott Community College and Delta College. Spilker has worked for the state since 2007 and has held roles including welfare caseworker, CPS investigator, behavioral health case manager and employment counselor at Thumb Correctional Facility.
- Cornerstone Alliance, the economic development organization for Berrien County, has named Andrew Haan as its vice president of business development.
In this new role, Haan will oversee recruitment and retention strategies, as well as manage economic and business development initiatives.
Haan is the former president of Kalamazoo Downtown Partnership and holds a master’s degree in historic preservation from Eastern Michigan University. He has 12 years of experience in downtown development, community relations, placemaking and economic development.
- Zeeland-based manufacturer ODL Inc. named Dan Volkema as vice president of finance at the company, which produces and supplies decorative and clear door glass and light and privacy control solutions.
Volkema previously worked in commercial reporting, analytics, sales channel finance and financial operations management for six years at Whirlpool Corp.
“Dan’s strong business acumen and wealth of financial experience will be a great asset in leading our global financial functions at ODL,” Chief Financial Officer Ron Woznick said in a statement.
- Grocery retailer and distributor SpartanNash Co. promoted David Sisk, the company’s former military division president, to chief customer officer. The newly created role includes the management of national customer engagement, independent and chain grocers, e-commerce retailers and U.S. military commissaries and exchanges. Sisk first joined SpartanNash in 2020. Since then, the military division improved its gross margin rates and created efficiencies in its network. The division last year delivered 70,000 loads to domestic military families, 7,800 containers and 16 emergency airlifts to troops stationed overseas, according to the company. Sisk is the former president and chief operating officer of Texas-based supplier OSC-WEBco. He also worked as a Procter & Gamble executive for 30 years.
- Holland family-owned investment management firm Coastal Group — which owns Coastal Automotive, Coastal Container and TKP Investments — has appointed two new executives. Shaun Sikora was promoted to president of Coastal Automotive following his role as vice president of engineering and technology at the company. Sikora has worked with Coastal Automotive since it formed under a merger in 2008 and brings more than 25 years of automotive expertise to the new role. Former Coastal Automotive Vice President of Finance Mark McConnell was appointed as Coastal Group’s chief financial officer. McConnell will oversee Coastal Automotive and Coastal Container, both subsidiaries of Coastal Group.
- Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra named Sydney Schless as director of marketing, effective March 7. Schless will oversee the nonprofit organization’s marketing and brand strategy and promote concerts and programs regionally and nationally. Schless previously held a similar role with the Jacksonville Symphony in Florida, and is a graduate of Stetson University in Florida, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in music and a master’s in business administration.
- Grand Rapids-based nonprofit human resources consulting firm The Employers’ Association has named Alyssa Hill as manager of human resources solutions and Renee Looman as manager of membership services. Hill will assist with HR Helpline calls and emails and conduct HR training, among other duties. Looman has several years of sales experience as an account executive and will manage Employers’ Association memberships. Company President Jason Reep said the association is on a multi-year plan to “promote operational excellence within its membership base and make our community a better place to live and work.”
- Reezie DeVet of Portage and Barbara Hohman of Grand Rapids last month joined the board of the UMRC & Porter Hills Foundation, the nonprofit charitable arm of the recently rebranded Brio Living Services, a nonprofit senior living provider. DeVet, who holds degrees in nursing, nursing administration and a doctorate in educational leadership, is the former CEO of Petoskey’s hospital and health system and oversaw its integration into McLaren Healthcare System. Hohman brings nearly two decades of experience in nonprofit fundraising. In addition to leading her own consulting firm since 2014, Hohman also served in a public relations role at Amway Corp. and helped lead a $70 million capital campaign for the Grand Rapids Art Museum.
Revolution Farms VP of sales aims to connect with food service industry
As Revolution Farms LLC’s newly appointed vice president of sales, MJ McDonald will focus on connecting more with Michigan’s food service industry.
The Caledonia-based, 3-acre indoor farm annually produces more than 1.5 million pounds of fresh lettuce for Midwest food retailers. The farm uses a fully automated system to take its non-GMO lettuce from seed to package without human touch. From there, the lettuce goes from farm to store in one to two days and is grown year-round.
McDonald comes to Revolution Farms with corporate food service and sales experience from previous roles at J.R. Simplot Food Group and Acosta Foodservice. She is a graduate of James Madison University in Virginia.
Since joining Revolution Farms in mid-March, McDonald has focused on expanding the company’s retail relationships, specifically in food service settings that prepare foods for consumers.
McDonald hopes to build on Revolution Farms’ sales success at retail grocery stores that include Meijer, D&W, Fresh Thyme and Family Fare, while also educating food service professionals on the benefits of local, longer-lasting greens.
“(Food service professionals) will be throwing less out,” McDonald said. “It’s a premium product compared to the commodities that they’ve been buying.”
Moving forward, salad kits will be one part of the company’s expanded offerings. Though the plan is in the early stages, Revolution Farms is looking to collaborate with other local purveyors to provide toppings for their greens, McDonald said. Once they conceptualize the product, the farm will offer it to their existing retailers and future food service clients.
“They’re going to be creative. It won’t be like your standard salad that you make at home,” McDonald said. “We’re thinking a little more outside the box with something exciting.”
With a background in health science and nutrition, McDonald said she also is passionate about farm to school programs. She hopes to involve Revolution Farms with these programs in the future and to possibly use the farm as a means to educate students about nutrition.
“There’s a lot of passion here at Revolution Farms,” McDonald said. “I think that will show in the product, too.”
— Reported by Hannah Brock