Published in Talent

People in the News: Nov. 7, 2022

BY Sunday, November 06, 2022 06:09pm


  • Hudsonville-based Grand Home Automation Inc., a residential and commercial technology integration firm, has named Brent Simcox as its new president. Simcox has served in various roles at the company for more than 20 years, including most recently as the head of the business development team. Grand Home Automation specializes in smart home technology and luxury lifestyle home integration, designing and installing amenities such as lighting, sound systems, shading systems and outdoor entertainment.


  • The Grand Rapids Community Media Center has named Johannah Jelks as marketing manager of GRTV, the public access television station in Grand Rapids and one of the GRCMC’s services alongside WYCE-FM, The Rapidian and the Wealthy Theatre. In her role, Jelks will oversee the rebranding of GRTV, develop campaigns to attract a new generation of producers and users and build new community relationships through outreach and fundraising. Jelks brings more than a decade of experience in community engagement, marketing and project management. Jelks, a graduate of Calvin University, previously served as a brand ambassador for cannabis company Viola Brands and as a marketing manager for Motu Viget Spirits, which is co-owned by her brother, Jonathan Jelks.
  • In other GRCMC personnel changes, Holly Bechiri and Richard Parrot IV were recently elected to board of directors positions to serve three-year terms each. Bechiri, who will serve as board treasurer, formerly served as the managing editor of The Rapidian and currently teaches visual art theory and practice at Calvin University and provides editing, writing and project management services as an independent contractor. Parrott is CEO of Global Money World, a multi-genre music blog platform where he manages podcasts, reviews, interviews and industry news. He is also a voting member of the Recording Academy, which presents the annual Grammy Awards for excellence in music.
  •  The Lakeshore Art Festival announced last week that Bre McCarthy and Pam Ackley will take over as co-directors of the downtown Muskegon event that takes place annually during the last weekend in June. McCarthy holds a degree in art and design from the University of Michigan and has served on the festival committee since 2017. Ackley recently retired from the Mona Shores School District and has coordinated the event’s craft market since 2018. The Lakeshore Art Festival began as Art in the Park in 1961. In 2013, the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce took over the event as the Lakeshore Art Festival, which is now organized by the city of Muskegon. 



  • Link Mfg. Ltd. — a Sioux Center, Iowa-based automotive manufacturer that opened a 15,000-square-foot engineering center in Kentwood in April — has named Ben Lucas as senior fleet sales and strategic account manager and Dave Shrader as a new account manager with OEM customer Navistar. Link Mfg. specializes in suspensions, suspension controls and air management products for specialty vehicles and is a Tier 1 supplier to major commercial truck manufacturers. Lucas brings more than 20 years of sales experience to the role, where he will be responsible for calling on fleets and maintaining and growing accounts in electric vehicles, fire trucks, terminal tractors and other market segments. Shrader will lead Link’s sales efforts with its customer, Navistar, and brings more than 25 years of experience in the medium- and heavy-duty commercial vehicle markets. Both will be based at the Kentwood location near the intersection of Broadmoor Avenue and 36th Street.
  • West Michigan I.T. provider and consultant InsITe Business Solutions Inc. recently named Tavis Kooi as director of business development. The Zeeland Township-based firm that helps companies adopt Industry 4.0 technologies has seen strong growth over the past year primarily serving manufacturing and distribution companies. A graduate of Cornerstone University, Kooi brings to the position a background in operations, sales and technology and will help align the company’s product and service offerings with manufacturers’ future needs.



  • Corewell Health South, formerly Spectrum Health Lakeland, has named Dr. Stephen Komara as general surgeon. Komara holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from Florida State University and a doctorate in osteopathic medicine from Michigan State University’s College of Osteopathic Medicine. He completed his general surgery residency at McLaren Macomb Hospital in Mount Clemens and later joined McLaren Bay Region in Bay City as general surgeon. 



  • Grandville-based HVAC services provider Van Dyken Mechanical Inc. has named Kevin Mersman as a licensed mechanical engineer. In the role, Mersman will oversee the planning, monitoring and execution of the design and engineering of heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems. He will also provide interpretation of design and application of construction methods. 



  • Privately held wealth management firm Greenleaf Trust has appointed Kalamazoo-based attorney James Liggins to its board of directors. Liggins is a senior attorney at the Kalamazoo office of Warner Norcross + Judd LLP and a member of the national bar and the state bars in Michigan, Ohio and Illinois. A graduate of the University of Michigan and Michigan State University College of Law, Liggins was named the Michigan Super Lawyer Rising Star by Business Litigation.


— Compiled by Andy Balaskovitz.

Longtime employee to oversee operations at Crystal Mountain

Karyn Thorr learned to ski at Crystal Mountain when she was 10 years old. Now she oversees all on-mountain operations — including chairlifts, grooming and other snowsports — as chief operating officer at the Thompsonville ski resort.

Thorr took over the position on Oct. 26 from John Melcher, who was named CEO late last year. She will also continue to serve as the principal broker for the resort’s real estate arm, Crystal Mountain Realty. 

“As an avid skier growing up, part of my charge will be the mountain experience,” Thorr told MiBiz.

Not only did Thorr cut her teeth in winter sports at Crystal Mountain, but she also has been an employee there in various roles for 29 years. That includes serving since 2014 as managing broker with Crystal Mountain Realty, which manages all of the privately-owned housing properties at the resort. She also led several operating departments, including marketing, conference services and skier services, and recently helped oversee the $12 million development of one of the resort’s inns.

Thorr says the real estate brokerage and outdoor recreation components of the business “are all related” and “very complementary.”

“People do not walk into the real estate office to inquire about purchasing unless they’re having a good time in the operations, such as skiing, golfing or dining,” Thorr said. 

After earning a bachelor’s degree in commercial recreation and hospitality from Central Michigan University, Thorr worked at Wintergreen Resort in Virginia before returning to Northern Michigan.

In recent years, Thorr has witnessed a resurgence in outdoor recreation interest driven by the pandemic that has brought people outdoors.

“We’ve certainly benefited in some ways from the surge or renewed interest in outdoor recreation,” Thorr said. “We just have so many opportunities in this corner of Northwest Michigan.”

The family-owned, four-season resort in Benzie County was established in 1956 southwest of Traverse City. The 1,500-acre resort includes downhill and cross-country skiing and other winter and summer outdoor recreation amenities. The resort has been run since 1985 by the husband and wife team of Jim and Chris MacInnes, who have overseen more than $100 million invested into the resort in the past two decades.

“Jim and I have had the joy of seeing Karyn mature as a leader over the last two decades, wearing many hats and excelling in every role she has undertaken,” Chris MacInnes, who serves as president of Crystal Mountain, said in a statement. “We are thrilled she is moving on to this next chapter in her career, and know that it’s a great fit. Her passion for snowsports, powerful vision of a healthy, thriving community and commitment to family, friends and co-workers make her the right person for this position.”


— Reported by Andy Balaskovitz

Read 3143 times Last modified on Sunday, 06 November 2022 20:33