Pure Michigan Business Success Stories

Dow Chemical

Richard Wells, Vice President for Midland Operations

Deeply rooted in Michigan since its founding in 1897, Dow Chemical Company’s global headquarters in Midland now employs thousands of workers across the state. Their manufacturing and research capabilities touch dozens of industries from farming to pharmaceutical to automotive with much of the work remaining in Michigan. Another facet of their dedication to the state, Dow’s Michigan-based employees volunteered over 20,000 hours in 2015. Plus, Dow annually invests over $4 million into community organizations in the Great Lakes Bay Region helping to make a positive difference in the community.

DTE Energy Foundation

Faye Nelson, President of the DTE Energy Foundation and Vice President of Public Affairs

DTE Energy was established 1903 and is Michigan’s largest energy company. For more than 150 years, DTE has served the homes and businesses of Michigan with reliable and affordable electric and natural gas service. Currently, DTE Energy has more than 2,500 employees and services an area of nearly 7,600 square miles. The company’s operations include about 1 million utility poles, 44,000 miles of power lines, nine fossil fuel generating plants as well as the Fermi 2 nuclear power plant. In addition to relying on Michigan’s abundant supply of natural gas, DTE Energy uses its pipelines to link customers to energy sources in Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, the Rockies, the Gulf of Mexico and Western Canada.


East Jordan Iron Works is now EJ. Founded in 1883, EJ is the global leader in the design, manufacturing and distribution of infrastructure “access” solutions for water, sewer, drainage, telecommunications and utility networks – requiring modern and innovative features. In early 2012, East Jordan Iron Works and its affiliated companies around the world began doing business using the same name and brand, EJ. One identity and brand has unified the company and supported its vision of market leadership. EJ remains a family owned and operated company. It has a commercial presence in several European countries, Canada, Mexico, China and Australia – including sales offices, best-in-class manufacturing facilities, and research and development centers, with product distribution worldwide.

Empirical Biosciences

Empirical Biosciences, LLC, is a company located in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The company, with its focus on the rapidly changing life sciences industry, develops products that are fundamental components of life science activities involving DNA. Empirical Biosciences’ vision is to lower the cost of biological reagents to foster life science research and education to make diagnostics more affordable. The company, which began in an attic in Southeast Michigan, found a home in Grand Rapids at the West Michigan Science and Technology Initiative in 2010. Additionally, the company received a $100,000 investment from the Michigan Pre-Seed Capital Fund in 2011.

Evans Distribution

John A. Evans, President

Established in 1929, Evans Distribution is a family-owned and operated logistics company that offers fully integrated, single-source solutions to companies from a wide variety of industries. They recently launched an order fulfillment service that helped the Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. successfully evolve their traditional door-to-door selling model into a Digital Cookie order program. Evans also started the Detroit Fulfillment Initiative (DeFI) to help Detroit businesses distribute their products worldwide. “DeFI is our initiative to help product-based businesses reach the next level,” said Derek Byrd, Marketing & Inside Sales Manager. “We’re thrilled about the level of excitement and energy our partners and companies have for the initiative.”


Jesse Vollmar, Co-Founder & CEO and Brad Koch, Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer

Michigan company helping farmers increase yield and profitability. After securing $1 million in seed funding, Michigan-based FarmLogs received an additional $4 million in financing that has allowed the company to execute an aggressive product growth plan. By providing growers revolutionary software to predict and optimize crop rotations, as well as automate activity data collection, FarmLogs is taking farming where it’s never been before. “We’ve helped thousands of farmers around the world take advantage of technology,” said FarmLogs CEO and co-founder Jesse Vollmar. Because working hard, and thinking smarter, is Pure Michigan.

Ferris State University - Digital Animation and Game Design Program

Professor David Baker, Program Coordinator, Ferris State University

The Digital Animation and Game Design Program (DAGD) at Ferris State University was once again chosen by the Princeton Review as one of the nation’s top 25 video game development programs. The program is focused on educating students in the latest tools and technology used to create digital and interactive content for everything from 3D animation to simulation to game design. The DAGD Program is now part of the School of Digital Media, which brings together television and digital media production and software engineering.

Grand Traverse Pie Company

Mike Busley, Founder

In 1996, the Busley family quit their jobs and risked everything they had to open the Grand Traverse Pie Company. Now, there are 15 shops across Michigan and Indiana serving gourmet soups, sandwiches, salads, pot pies, quiche, espresso and 40 varieties of pie. The company’s slogan is “Warming Hearts and Community through Pie.” Committed to quality products, warm and friendly service and truly making a positive difference in their customers’ day, the company has just opened its newest GTPie Shop in Portage, Michigan, and its products are available for delivery across the country by Foodydirect.

GrandPapa’s Snacks

Michael Robin, President and Michael Robin Jr., Vice President

Michigan snack manufacturer makes the world his market. Forty-five years ago, H. Michael Robin began his career in Detroit as a driver for a food distribution company. Yet, it was his inner drive that led him to strike out on his own to both manufacture and distribute canister snacks to markets including the Middle East, the Caribbean and South America. The results are a $15-million-a-year business, and with help from the Michigan Small Business Technology and Development Center, a 140,000-square-foot factory that Robin Distributors now calls home. It’s more food for thought for doing business in Pure Michigan.

Hacienda Foods

Lydia Gutierrez, President, Hacienda Mexican Foods

It started over two decades ago, with passion and love. From a small tortilla shop on Vernor Avenue in the heart of Southwest Detroit, making traditional Mexican tortillas and tortilla chips. Since its humble beginnings, Hacienda Mexican Foods has grown into a multimillion dollar food manufacturing business, with products available in five states and Canada. Hacienda prides itself on their deep commitment to quality, community, social responsibility and an endless love of Detroit, all of which was built from family values. Offering a wide array of Mexican foods and other consumer-demanded products, Hacienda continues to grow and expand their business.