MiSpringboard Success Stories
Clean Emission Fluids, Inc.
Oliver Baer launched Detroit-based Clean Emission Fluids, Inc. (CEF) four years ago when he saw an opportunity in new fuel and emissions standards. His company’s patent-pending above-ground FASTTM stations enable fleet operators, truck stops, gas stations and municipal fleets to store and dispense fluids and fuels while eliminating the cost and potential environmental issues associated with underground tanks.
With the help of Varnum’s MiSpringboard® program, Oliver was able to develop a legal roadmap that enabled CEF’s success. After selling 12 stations in 2011, CEF is on track to sell 40 in 2012. This increase in demand has allowed the company to put Detroiters back to work. Through its partnership with Focus: HOPE’s career training programs, CEF expects to create 30 to 50 manufacturing jobs for previously displaced workers within the next three years.
Oliver said Varnum’s work on behalf of CEF has allowed CEF to bring is product to market faster and have a real impact on Michigan’s economy.
Following a June 9, 2006 car accident that left her with a broken back and in need of assisted care for personal hygiene, Deborah Tacoma created the FreedomWand® a sanitary, easy to use, multipurpose, portable, personal toilet tissue aid. It’s specifically designed for personal cleaning and hygiene for anyone with limited mobility. The four fingers easily grasp toilet tissue, a razor, loofah, or ointment applicator.
The three-piece FreedomWand®, is 4 inches in length, with an extension for up to 21 inches. The FreedomWand®, also comes with a carry bag, which is large enough to hold the FreedomWand®, sanitary wipes and a small cleansing gel. Because it’s made from a polypropylene material, the freedom wand is very durable and easy to clean.
Deborah learned about the MiSpringboard program through Grand Rapids Opportunities for Women (GROW). Varnum’s Scott Hill helped Deborah review her business structure, leading the way for her to create a company name and brand her products. Deborah said she feels confident that the business structure and policies that Varnum put in place will help position her company for future growth.
Great Lakes Shutters
After working for 11 years for Sunburst Shutters, one of the nation’s leading quality custom window treatment companies, Steve Hill had the opportunity of a lifetime –the owners of Sunburst asked Steve if he would like to purchase the company’s Michigan region. He jumped at the chance - but not before he did a lot of homework.
Steve had a deep knowledge of the window treatment business and the quality of Sunburst’s products and services. But he had never owned a business. So he sought help from the Oakland County Business Center, where he took classes on how to run a small business. While working with the center, he learned about Varnum’s MiSpringboard program.
Through MiSpringboard, Steve met Varnum’s Richard Hooker and his team of colleagues. They reviewed his purchase agreements and helped Steve to understand the obligations of those agreements. Varnum was able to guide the purchase process and even followed up to make sure everything had been completed to his satisfaction.
Mull It Over
In April 2011, Bruce Burgess took center stage at Rick DeVos’ 5x5 Night vying for the $5,000 top prize to ratchet up his marketing efforts on his new business – Mull-It-Over Products. A year after winning that competition, Mull-It-Over Products is going global, thanks in part to Varnum’s MiSpringboard program.
Mull-It-Over Products created an innovative mullion trim cap that minimizes sound transfer between rooms in buildings with glass facades. The product’s design stems from the company’s understanding of building construction. Glass curtain wall facades are popular for bringing natural light into a room while providing many options for shape and color. However, exterior glass facade systems (curtain wall) and interior partition walls were not designed to interface. The Mull-It-Over mullion trim cap allows for a clean transition detail between the 2 systems to allow both systems to function at their full potential.
After hearing about Varnum’s MiSpringboard program, Bruce sought help through the program to take his business to the next level. Bruce credits Varnum’s Jeff Beswick for helping him and his investors navigate through the red tape that enabled him to expand Mull-It-Over Product sales nationally and internationally.