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Eastern Michigan University Honors Businesses of the Year

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YPSILANTI  – Ford Motor Company, Crain’s Detroit Business and Bearclaw Coffee are among the best-run businesses in Michigan, according to students in the Eastern Michigan University College of Business.

Those businesses and 11 others were honored during an Academy-Award style event Friday, March 14 at the EMU Student Center. Ford won in the large business category, Crain’s won for medium-sized businesses and Bearclaw Coffee earned top honors for small businesses. Ford also won in the manufacturing category.

Bearclaw, founded in 2002 in Dexter by Ann Arbor Pioneer High School graduate Debi Scroggins and her husband, Doug, was cited for its community service and creative business plan, which features drive-in and sit-down locations in the area along with mobile trailer and van units that appear at various events and fundraisers.

The inaugural EMU Business of the Year Awards Luncheon selected winners in 14 categories. The event’s distinctive flourish stemmed from the fact that EMU students nominated each of the 42 companies, three in each category, along with selecting the winners.

Businesses were judged on profitability, strategy execution and level of social responsibility in the event, which carried on the college’s traditional focus on ethics in business.

Similar to the Oscars, each nominee was introduced with a short video clip, then an EMU College of Business student opened the envelope to announce the winner, followed by a short thank you and some professional advice from a representative of the winning company.

Among those was Rob Casalou, CEO of the St. Joseph Mercy Health System Centers in Ann Arbor and Livingston County.  Casalou urged the future professionals to find a balance in their lives, to play hard along with working hard, to find time to see family and friends, and to turn off that phone while on vacation.

What does he do when he finds his top executives becoming prisoner of their phones or devices when they are away? “I turn off their IT,” Casalou said, and it appeared he was serious.

Donna Inch, chief executive officer of the Ford Land real estate company, a subsidiary of Ford Motor Company, served as the keynote speaker. Inch, an EMU graduate, even showed a picture of herself when she served as a residence hall advisor at Eastern.

Along with tracing Ford’s recent success, Inch said that the auto industry will continue to expand, given the huge and still untapped user capacity in China and India.

Her advice to students? “You must have passion for what you are working on,” said Inch. “And be a leader. Figure out how to add value (to your company) every day.”

“We established the Business of the Year Awards to recognize firms that represent the best elements of our market-based economy while remaining socially responsible,” said Michael Tidwell, dean of the EMU College of Business. “Ceremonies like this are not unique, but what makes this event distinctive is that the award criteria were written by our student organizations, and the nominees and awardees were selected by our business students. This is a wonderful way for our students to recognize the great work and innovation occurring in some of Michigan’s best and brightest companies.”

The other business categories and winners were:

  • Marketing: Valassis Communications
  • EMU alumni-owned business: Pure Visibility
  • Healthcare: St. Joseph Mercy Health System
  • Supply-chain: Con-way
  • Non-Profit: Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan
  • Accounting: Plante Moran
  • Financial services: Quicken Loans
  • Human resources: Kelly Services
  • Information technology: Compuware Corporation
  • Manufacturing: Ford Motor Company
  • Retail: Meijer

The event’s co-sponsors included Russell Video and Bank of Ann Arbor, with student leaders of the College of Business Dean’s Board of Student Advisors serving as hosts. For more on the EMU College of Business, please visit http://www.emich.edu/cob/

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