Business

By Mary MedrumB

MANY PEOPLE KNOW ANDY DIDOROSI AS THE PERSON WHO FOUNDED THE DETROIT BUS COMPANY, AFTER THE M-1 LIGHT RAIL PROJECT WAS PRONOUNCED DEAD IN 2012. About six months later, the Detroit Bus Company was borne out of a collection of used buses, a lot of spare parts and tinkering.

The Detroit Bus Company is available for tours, rentals, and people can purchase rides for school children and youth programs.

Although he has sparked quite a few small businesses, the Detroit Bus Company was Andy’s first well­ known entrepreneurial venture in Detroit. He has conceived of many dozens since, and executed several of those concepts.

These days you can catch Andy on social media hunting down electric “bird” scooters. His adventures with this technology and the citizens of Detroit led to some interesting revelations. The scooter businesses were not really addressing the population in Detroit that needed the scooters the most. So, he decided to obtain, assemble, charge and deliver at least 100 scooters with helmets lo neighborhood kids in Detroit at no cost to them. You can help. Go to his web site, www.playfreebird.com to find out how lo help with this project.

ANDY’S NEWEST VENTURE IS CALLED POOL. THE NAME DESCRIBES THE SHARING OF RESOURCES, CAPITAL, AND PHYSICAL REAL ESTA TE SPACES FOR THE BENEFIT OF EVERYONE INVOLVED. The particulars of the project can be found at www.hopinthepool.com. He will be launching an experiment in real community development where anybody in Michigan can invest small amounts of money and receive a real return back on their investment throughout the year. When you buy into a project, you own a real share in a house or building and gel your portion of the rent. If they ever decide lo sell the house as a group, investors/shareholders receive a portion of the sale. It’s true wealth-building.

Pool is a project where investors gel actual equity in the real estate project that they choose. Investors own shares in a house the way you would own shares in a company. Each piece of real estate is a different project with different shareholders, based on their interest in the project.

It’s a simple concept that is growing. Traditionally, if you want to invest in real estate, you need lo have the ability to buy a whole house. If you are lucky enough lo have a rich friend or family willing to invest with you, that’s great. Real estate is one of those things that people use to build generational wealth.

For most of us, the realization of wealth through property ownership is impossible or a long shot at best. So, if we can band together and make the projects work in the long term, everyone can benefit. This is radical wealth building. Pool is a way for anyone lo participate in the real estate market; it is a structural system that can result in large return.

This investment is in your own backyard. You can see the house and meet the renters. Unlike a REIT (Real Estate Investment Trust), which is a fund that investors put money into and hope that the fund manager chooses profitable properties, investors in Pool have full control over the direction of the funds they contribute and can choose the real estate in which they want to participate. As part of a REIT, you might own part of a strip mall in Vegas or a coffee shop in Lexington, Kentucky. Pool invests locally only, and you know intimately what your portfolio holdings are. Individuals in Pool only invest in distinct projects.

The first house was purchased by Didorosi and will be renovated by him. This iteration of the process will help him organize the entire enterprise.

‘We haven’t formally launched it yet because we are wailing for approval from the state,” explains Didorosi. They can’t share in financial arrangements or promise any kind of a return because of the rules of security law.

Pool believes investors should be able to see where every dollar goes, so Andy has taken care of that. Investors will get a dashboard where they can see every dollar in and out of the organization.

‘We’re proud of what we’re building and aren’t shy about showing off.”

DIDOROSI CAME UP WITH THE IDEA OF POOL WHEN LOOKING AT PROPERTIES that he was interested in buying. He tried to get buildings and ii was difficult. If you don’t have enough money or a bank or investors to help you secure the property, you have no access to the incredible wealth-building opportunity that is right in your own back yard.

Didorosi believes that the reason this hasn’t been accomplished by anyone up lo this point is because people might be afraid of running up against securities law, which is daunting. He is hoping he can reduce some of that friction and level the playing field so everyone can participate.

The dream is to be able to invest in commercial property and the businesses within it. The businesses within those commercial properties might also have the chance lo become partial owners in that project. As partial owners, they can help make decisions about the property and capture some of the value created, instead of just getting booted out when the owners decide to sell.

There is a lot of interest in the small amount of information that Didorosi has been able to share so far. ‘We are very strictly not soliciting or asking people lo invest yet. I personally know someone who has gotten in trouble with those laws, and it cost him $30,000.”

“I would love to see a large number of people invest into the real estate in their own communities directly. I think that will have a huge number of ripple effects. If people are the investors in the properties around them, ii will ensure that the businesses will thrive.”

He has a point. Investment in one’s own neighborhood is an investment in the outcome of those properties. There is elevation of human capital and social capital that follows in the wake of renovated property and infrastructure that is cared for and maintained. Public parks, schools, recreation centers, businesses, and cultural centers all prosper under the care of local ownership; good neighborhoods attracts good neighbors.

“We are in a crisis of ownership right now.”

Hong Kong owns a lot of property in Detroit. Large investment groups that don’t have any footprint in the city own much of the city.

“Local ownership will change the fabric of the city forever. We, as the people, have to be the next billionaire at the table. We have to make this a choice. We are a system of capitalism, which means that those with the capital get to make all the decisions. Until we assemble capital into an efficient structure that can go out and do the work, we’re not going to have any power in our own communities.”

Story by: Sara Teller
Photos by: Bernie Laframboise

THE SOFE DISTRICT – A CATCHY NAME FOR ‘SOUTH FERNDALE’ – is made up of various Ferndale businesses, including Green Daffodil, The Dana Keaton Collection, 700 Livernois Fashion House, Olive’s Bloombox, Christopher George Creations, The Kulick Center, Schramm’s Mead, The Anand Center, Purple Door Tea House, DK Dental, Imax Printing, Joe’s Party Store, Axle Brewery and Margaux & Max. Green Daffodil, a bath-and-body shop, coined the name eight years ago, and it officially took off during the beginning of the construction stage on Livernois earlier this year.

“We wanted to give this area its own identity because of the rebirth of the Avenue of Fashion in Detroit,” said Dana Keaton. “It is another enclave for eclectic business in keeping with the Ferndale vibe. It’s funky, eclectic, and diverse. We want the SoFe District to be the new hot thing!”

Keaton’s business, The Dana Keaton Collection, was established in 2000 and operates as a retail space, an education center, and a place to hold events. Keaton has been in the fashion business all her life. “I sell one-of-a-kind clothing and accessories,” she said. “No two items are alike.”

Keaton is well-known for her award-winning youth fashion programs, and has taught al various schools and centers all over the Detroit metropolitan area. She started The Fashion Atelier, which provides a wide variety of classes to residents. Current classes include Sewing 101, Fashion Illustration, Alterations, Jewelry Design, Modeling, Painting, Drawing, and others. ”You can learn how to design your own skirts, handbags, or yoga pants,” she said. “And yes, men can take the classes, also!”

RECENTLY, A MEETING WAS HELD REGARDING THE SOFE DISTRICT AT FERNDALE’S CITY HALL. ‘This meeting was with the County of Oakland and Ferndale. There were representatives from the County, Ferndale Chamber of Commerce, The DDA, and myself who represented the SoFe District,” Dana explained. She said its purpose ·was to spearhead the annual upcoming Small Business Saturday events. I wanted to be there to make sure the SoFe District was included.”

The group discussed what will take place on Small Business Saturday in November and how the SoFe District will be involved, plans for marketing and promotion, and what can be done to help generate business for the District. Those who were present on behalf of SoFe wanted to ensure this area of Ferndale received just as much attention as any other. “Our concerns were well-received, and they assured us they will include us in all upcoming events held in Ferndale,” Keaton said. ‘We are going to hold them to this!”

The City of Ferndale has also rolled out a series of “SoFe Strolls” in an effort to generate some publicity for the area. During these strolls, customers can stop by the places of business to receive special offers and participate in activities. “The City provided advertising materials for the first event,” Keaton explained. “The businesses of the SoFe District also use the Strolls as a way to help promote our other businesses in the area.”

According to Keaton, internal changes within the City offices have caused the owners lo take up the initiative themselves. ·we do plan to promote the dates ourselves to continue to drive business to our area,” she said, adding, ‘The Livernois businesses are hoping everyone will come to the new SoFe District and ‘Shop Small.'”

The final Strolls will take place on Saturday, October 13, 2018, 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM, and on Small Business Saturday, November 24, 2018, 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM. Green Daffodil will be having a Holiday Artist Markel, Saturday, November 3, 2018 10:00 AM- 5:00 PM, and Keaton will be hosting the Tres Chic Runway Fashion Show from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM on Small Business Saturday at 700 Livernois Ave.

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By Maggie Boleyn

RECENTLY, SHOPPING EVENTS HAVE BEGUN POPPING UP IN SUPPORT OF LOCAL BUSINESSES: “Small Business Saturday,” which encourages shoppers to buy local at  small shops, is celebrated on the  Saturday after Thanksgiving, and “Buy Nearby,” held the first weekend  in October, is devoted to finding,  celebrating, and shopping at  businesses in your own city.

Shoppers familiar with Western Market on West Nine Mile Road practice “Buy Nearby” all year round.

Tony Selvaggio, his brother Steve Selvaggio, and Steve’s wife Virginia Selvaggio opened the market back in 1983. Ferndale residents, as well as shoppers from north Detroit, Oak Park, Hazel Park, and Pleasant Ridge have been coming to Western Market forever including some of Southeast Michigan’s premier chefs. While Western Market’s appeal transcends the borders of Ferndale, the owners remain dedicated to the neighborhood.

“Western Market is a true community business that serves its neighbors by meeting an essential need – to eat well – 362 days of the year,” said Steve. “We work hard every day to enrich the lives of our customers and the producers who make and grow the products we offer.”

Shopping at nearby small markets spurs the local economy. According to the National Grocers Association, independent supermarkets in Michigan generate $3.11 billion in annual revenue statewide, and employ nearly 30,000 people. Shoppers at Western Market can consistently expect to find unique local and artisan foods, carefully selected wines, craft beer and cheeses. Western Market is also a very reliable source for fresh flowers, potted herbs, and seasonal plants.

CUSTOMERS CREDIT WESTERN MARKET’S STAFF with providing a superior shopping experience. “While I love going to Western Market for the amazing high-quality selections, the people that work there are the reason I keep coming back,” said Paul Fradeneck, bar manager at Mabel Gray in Hazel Park and a Ferndale resident.

Employees come from the surrounding cities, and you might find a student from Ferndale High School working in the store.

“We work with a program at Ferndale High School that brings high school students here to work at the market,” Tony explains. “We have participated for the last three year, and once hired a student who first came to us through this program.”

Western Market also has longtime employees. Fahdel Alameer has worked at Western Market for 21 years, ever since he came to the United States. “This was my first job,” he said. “I try to always make everything beautiful and nice for our customers here in the produce department.” One thing he remembers from his early days is the price of produce. “Oranges used to be ten for a dollar, now they are a dollar or more,” he noted.

Albert Garcia, Western Market’s nut and candy buyer, is in his first year with Western Market. “First, I was a customer here, and I became an employee,” he said. “My first day happened to be my birthday. Tony took the time to come over and talk to me, wish me a happy birthday. I thought it was such a good indication of what it would be like to work here.”

Executive Chef Keri Winne oversees all in-house food preparation and catering offered at Western Market. Over the past decade, the addition of beverage experts like Jarred Gild, product development director, and Putnam Weekley, wine director, further expanded this footprint for the market.

“We’ve changed as the community and its needs have changed,” said Steven. “We’re proud to have great employees and they make up a big part of our success as a business.”

Western Market is located in Ferndale at 447 W. Nine Mile Road. Learn more by connecting with Western Market online at @westernmkt on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook.

By Sara Teller

MEGH HOLLOWELL IS LIVING PROOF THAT SUCCESS IS BORN OUT OF STRUGGLE. In April of this year, she received a Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree with a concentration in Nonprofit Management. “I’ve been working in the nonprofit sector for over ten years and had been trying to climb the ladder,” she says of her decision to go to graduate school, although a job title far from defines her. While proud of her achievement, she adds, “I don’t worry so much anymore about climbing the professional ladder. I go at my own pace and hope that I evoke change along the way.” After all, it’s the fact that she’s persevered through life’s ebbs and flows that really matters.

In looking back on her life, Hollowell recalls, “I dropped out of high school my junior year to work full time. I had left my dysfunctional relationship with my mother and started a journey I called, ‘Who am I without my mother?’ I moved around a lot – playing music, writing poetry, womanizing, and living in complete manic highs and lows.”

She eventually decided to enroll at a local community college. “It wasn’t until an instructor told me I should apply to undergrad that I ever felt I would get an education,” she says. “I applied to the one college she recommended and finished my undergrad in two years, receiving a BA in Journalism and English.”

But she didn’t stop there. “I decided to go to grad school in 2009 after I did some campaign work in Arizona,” she explains. “Working towards my MPA degree meant that I could accomplish something. That I could fit in a normal world; a box. I had been living life so hard outside of the box I just wanted to fit in.”

And, she did it at her own pace. “After nine years in-and-out of school, I’ve come to realize that I received my education through my experiences, not a textbook or lectures,” Hollowell says. “I’m grateful I was able to start and finish something.”

HOLLOWELL EXPERIENCED FOUR TRAUMATIC LOSSES in less than two years while struggling to complete her degree – the passing of her grandfather, nana, and mom, and her beloved dog. She said, “Graduating with my MPA degree was very much for my grandpa, my nana, and my mom. I felt I needed to honor them by taking the last few steps towards completion.”

She was also diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2013 shortly after her first marriage had just ended. “I remember feeling like I had failed at life. I couldn’t function – at work or at home. I was stuck inside myself. And I just wanted it to end,” she says. Now, she adds, “Medication has helped manage my psychosis and mood disorder. But I’m still in survival mode. I’m learning how I can be in the now and move from surviving to thriving.”

Hollowell’s mom took her own life. “As I sorted through her things, it became clear to me how hard she tried to live. To love and be loved. She wanted to find the joy of living. I fight for my own life every day. I fight it in honor of my mom, because I know she lived for me,” she says.

Hollowell has since remarried, and calls Naomi “the love of my life,” adding, “She has been my greatest support system these last three years.” The couple lives in Hazel Park, although Hollowell has strong ties to Ferndale, she explains, “I lived and worked in downtown Ferndale for many years previously and loved being part of the LGBTQ community.”

She works for a nonprofit as a development associate, where she loves serving underrepresented communities. “It’s really important to me to serve communities that helped shape who I try to be. A kind, compassionate, truthful person,” she says.

Of how she views life, Hollowell says, “I do see beauty in the world. Sometimes unbearable, unspeakable beauty. Looking from the outside in, it might be natural to assume that the difficult things I’ve experienced would blind me to what’s amazing in my life. That is simply not the case.”

By Jill Lorie Hurst

WHEN I WALKED INTO INCUBIZIO (a shared office space on Burdette Street) to get an update on the Chamber of Commerce’s upcoming events, I was surprised to “meet” Chamber Board Chair Dale Vigliarolo, someone I’ve known from various events over the past few years. You never know who you know in Ferndale! We joined Director of Operations Kimberly Spencer in the building’s glossy white conference room to talk about “The Best of the Best” gala on November 7th, which is the annual celebration of and for the Ferndale Area Chamber of Commerce members.

Most towns have a Chamber of Commerce. I wonder if many of us think about them or know what they do. The Ferndale Chamber of Commerce, founded in 1936, is a non-profit that provides ways for business owners to collaborate and connect with other community leaders. And guess what? You can join up. Yes, you. Residents can become members of the “guardian of the business community.”

Spencer and Vigliarolo both take their roles very seriously. Vigliarolo, a Ferndale resident and owner of Lake Pointe Construction, was involved with the Royal Oak Chamber for several years, then brought his experience and knowledge to his hometown. Kimberly Spencer has held her job for a little over a year. She comes to us from Chicago. Her background is in project management and operations. She left Chicago to get involved in nonprofit work and was recruited by Michigan Works to head up the Ferndale Chamber. Spencer loves the collaborative spirit she sees here.

“The business owners are very involved. They attend each other’s events.” She also mentions Ferndale’s diversity and acceptance. “You don’t have to fit in, but you do.” Joining the Chamber has business and personal benefits. “People become better speakers, less shy. The communication changes you.”

Vigliarolo talks about the time and energy it takes to do justice to the job. No complaints. “I love being a part of our city. We’re in a good place and we’re going to keep building.” Regarding Chamber membership? New folks are welcome, veterans are valued. It’s all about the mix. Spencer – “We’re looking for a good representation of Ferndale so we can make good decisions for Ferndale.”

Put “The Best of The Best” (November 7th) on your calendar, to be held at Boogie Fever. Tickets are available through the Chamber web site. While you’re there, check out the calendar: “Coffee Connections,” “The Lunch Club,” “After Fives.” I love the ribbon cuttings. There was something wonderful about seeing James Tailoring, Ferndale Family Pharmacy and 3 Winks proudly become a part of the family. Find an event that appeals to you. There’s something for everyone. This is Ferndale.

www.ferndaleareachamber.com | 248-542-2160

By Ingrid Sjostrand

IT’S NOT UNCOMMON FOR CITIES TO HAVE A FARMERS MARKET. EVEN SOME OF THE SMALLEST NEIGHBOR-HOODS MEET REGULARLY to exchange homegrown goods and handmade crafts. As of 2016, Hazel Park is no exception, thanks to Jennifer Jackson and a small team of Hazel Park residents.

The Hazel Park Growers & Makers Market began their third season on Sunday, July 8th and will run every Sunday through October 14th. Jackson started the market, along with a governing board, when they noticed a lack of affordable, healthy foods for residents.

“Myself and other volunteers started the market to bring a family-friendly weekly event to our community,” Jackson says. “We live here, and Hazel Park needs family-friendly places where we can gather and purchase locally-grown and made food.”

Jackson and Leigh McLaughlin (another member of the market board) attended training through the Michigan Farmers Markets Association – thanks to assistance from the City of Hazel Park – to learn more about proper practices and how to run a successful farmers market.

The Growers and Makers Market has anywhere from six to ten vendors on a given weekend, and it has grown to be about more than just food. These merchants vary from artistic endeavors to fresh produce.

“We have two farmers, Jentzen Farms and Mulberry Hill Farm and Garden. Detroit Kombucha Company serves fresh Kombucha by the cup or growler, and Sinfully Sweet offers cake pops and various confections. And Pink Robin Bake Shop has cookies and other baked goods,” Jackson says. “A variety of crafts, jewelry, signs, yard games, pottery, home decor, purses, and children’s clothing, have all been at the market throughout the season. We are looking to add coffee and personal care products as well.”

THERE ARE ALSO KID-FRIENDLY ACTIVITIES at the Growers and Makers Market, thanks to the Hazel Park Arts Council. The organization hosts their Art in the Park program during the market to teach creative arts to kids.

“Art in the Park is a free event hosted during the Growers and Makers Market where kids can engage in arts and crafts,” Amy Aubry, Treasurer of the Arts Council, says. “We use items that are easy to find around the home or in nature to show just how easy and accessible art is for the family.”

Another important element of the Growers and Makers Market is that all residents are able to reap its benefits regardless of income, which is why they participate in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and other food assistance programs.

“Our market is a SNAP-approved market, and we are able to accept Bridge Cards at the market manager booth,” Jackson says. “We are also participants in the Double Up Food Bucks Program, where Bridge Card holders may double their produce purchasing power up to $20.”

ESSENTIALLY, THE GROWERS AND MAKERS MARKET is about bringing residents together and building up the City of Hazel Park and its residents.

“Hazel Park is our home. We are tightly-knit, and always jumping in to help one another,” Jackson says. “We want to see Hazel Park grow and be-come a destination for people to visit, and a farmers market is a small piece of joy that invites our families to gather, and surrounding communities to visit.”

By Mary Meldrum

IT IS ONE OF THE LARGEST REDEVELOPMENT PROJECTS IN OAKLAND COUNTY,” said City Manager Ed Klobucher, referring to the Tri-County Commerce Center. “This is the largest building in Hazel Park, and overnight became the biggest taxpayer in the city.”

Ashley Capital partnered with the owners of the Hazel Park Raceway in 2015 to develop a 575,000 square foot building in the west parking lot of Hazel Park Raceway at 10 Mile and Dequindre. Ashley is one of the largest property holders that primarily markets to tier-one auto suppliers, and they planned and developed this property to be a light manufacturing center. The site is ideal for light industrial, manufacturing and distribution businesses.

The building is situated on the northwest corner of a 120-acre site located near the intersection of I-75 and I-696. The 36-acre site is surplus land for the thoroughbred horse race track that was in operation until April of 2018. This is a perfect location within the Detroit Metropolitan area, and is considered “ground zero” for any business needing to quickly access major expressways heading north, south, east, and west. The building was completed in the spring of 2017 and is roughly 80 percent leased.

The Tri-County Commerce Center currently houses three tenants: an Amazon distribution center, LG Electronics, and Bridgewater Interiors, which is a logistics company related to Adient, formerly Johnson Controls Automotive. There are two spaces left to lease out in the center; one is 55,000 square feet and the other space is 68,000 square feet.

THE CENTER SITS ON HAZEL PARK’S FORMER DISPOSAL SITE, which means the developer is cleaning the site to meet environmental standards and guaranteeing the $2.1 million loan through the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ). The Tri-County Commerce Center will help to add between 200 and 300 jobs and $300,000 to the city’s tax revenue.

Ashley Capital has purchased the rest of the remain-ing raceway land, and will be breaking ground on their second building within the next year. The third development is undetermined at the time of this writ-ing. Both of these proposed sites are speculative as of right now and no tenants are in place. According to Kevin Hegg, VP of Acquisitions and Leasing for Ashley Capital, they are investigating and research-ing what types of commercial real estate is in demand for these sites.

The location is the primary factor that attracted Ashley to develop here. Hazel Park offers fantastic ac-cess to highways and all quadrants to Metro area markets.

“Hazel Park has been very supportive of our endeavors,” Hegg explains. “The city is progressive, pro business, and easy to work with. I want to commend them for their efforts and recommend other companies to take a hard look at Hazel Park. They have the right people in place right now in City Hall, a great location and a great story.”

Hegg emphasized that, “We are very confident in the location, and plan to continue to develop the area with a second 650,000 square foot building as well as additional building thereafter. We plan to be there for the next couple of years developing.”

When asked about working with the MDEQ, Hegg added, “Michigan has been at the forefront of brown-field redevelopment as far as protecting new buyers from past polluters. [The racetrack property] is a brownfield site and a great example of how to take blighted areas, improve them, provide economic impact to an area and provide a protected environment that helps to separate any toxins from the area. It’s a win-win for everyone.”

While the Tri-County Commerce Center is growing and supporting Hazel Park’s economic turnaround, the plans for further development on the site are steadily progressing, too. Evolution of the site from historical racetrack to economic catalyst for the city marks a very tangible and persuasive shift in Hazel Park’s renaissance.

Sara E. Teller

THE HAZEL PARK LIBRARY HAS BEEN IN BUSINESS FOR OVER 80 years, and has a rich history. It occupied two different locations before the City of Hazel Park constructed the current building on 9 Mile and
John R in 1970.

In May 1936, the Hazel Park Parent Teacher Association Council invited representatives from all religious, fraternal, business, social, and community groups to meet at the High School and discuss establishing a public library in Hazel Park. On November 4 of that year, a permanent library organization was established, a constitution adopted, and officers elected. The Library was formally opened on December 12, 1936, in a room loaned by the Board of Education in the basement of the Lacey School.

The Library operated in the basement until two lots were eventually purchased at the corner of Pearl and Rhodes in 1937, at a net cost of $368.89, for the purpose of providing a permanent site for the building. Current Hazel Park Library Director Corrine Stocker said, “As a true community project, more than 1,000 Hazel Park residents contributed either money or labor toward the building and equipment. Hazel Park pioneered in this field and proved that no community need be without a library.” The official opening of the new building was January 6, 1941, and that site is currently the home of the Hazel Park Historical Museum.

The Library’s present location was designed by Machida and Associates, who also designed the Hazel Park City Hall and Fire Station. The new building was constructed to replace the former Erickson Library, which was overcrowded.

“As the years passed, the Library took on a greater role, not only as a source for reading material but also as a center of the Hazel Park community,” said Stocker. “Services increased and changed with our increasingly technological times. Computers were installed in the 1980s, and WI-Fl access was installed in 2010, so patrons could bring their own computers and connected devices to the library to access the Internet as well. We now have 19 computers available for our patrons to use.”

The Hazel Park Library subscribes to Overdrive and RBDigital to offer its visitors access to thousands of books, audio books, and magazines. A whole host of programming is also offered, including regular book clubs, children’s story hours, Fun Fridays for Teens, movie nights, craft programs, Detroit Institute of Arts programs, and outreach services to senior citizens in the area.

“Every day, we generally offer one or more free programs to the public,” said Stocker. “For adults, regular monthly programs include stitch & Knit Night, a Make & Take Craft Club, and Book Club. For children, regular monthly programs include Family Fun Night with free pizza from Nick’s and Lego Club. We also offer weekly baby and preschool story times, weekly yoga, and computer tutoring. Once a month, we hold a Pop-Up Farmer’s Market with locally-sourced food.”

HAZEL PARK LIBRARY FRIENDS
THE HAZEL PARK LIBRARY FRIENDS (HPLF) is a charitable organization serving the Hazel Park District Library, and helping provide many programs and services. The HPLF organizes and runs fundraisers to benefit the Library, including selling snacks, candy, baked goods, plants, books and other items. Occasionally, the HPLF also raffles off gift baskets. Much of the money raised by the HPLF also gets donated back to the Library to pay for things that ii could not otherwise afford, such as perform­ers throughout the year, summer reading prizes, promotional banners, new folding tables, a scanner, and professional development conferences for Library staff.

“The organization donates thousands of service hours to the Library every year,” Stocker said. ‘Volunteer activities include cleaning and painting the windows, seasonal decorating, organizing the library’s storage areas, sorting donations, grooming the grounds, shelving materials, and assisting with programs. The Friends also promote Library programs and services via social media and represent the Library at community engagement events.”

The HPLF stocks the Library’s Little Free Libraries (LFL). LFL is an international program in which communities put out boxes, usually with the help of volunteers, and fill them with free books for residents to borrow and return. ‘We offer four,” Stocker said. “They’re located at Tuski Park, Scout Park (soon lo be moved near the fire department), the Rec Center, and the art park. These are full of donated books.”

“Thanks to the support of our tireless volunteers, our elected Library Board, as well as the help and assistance of the Hazel Park Library Friends, the Hazel Park District Library continues to grow and develop its resources to adapt to the needs of its patrons,” Stocker said.

CORRINE STOCKER, LIBRARY DIRECTOR
CORRINE STOCKER HAS BEEN EMPLOYED at the Hazel Park Library for 14 years. She assumed her current role after Hazel Park’s former Director, Jessica Keyser, left her position to take on the directorship role at the Ferndale Library.

Leading up to that point, Stocker explained, “I started as a half-time adult services librarian in March of 2004. Then they created a full-time position for me, and I worked in that capacity until I was promoted to Library Director in 2013.”

Stocker earned a four-year degree in English from Michigan State University and took a position at Gale Research following graduation, where she was employed for several years. The company paid for her to return to obtain a post­graduate degree in library sciences from Wayne State University. She eventually left Gale to be a corporate librarian for Arthur Anderson before heading to Hazel Park’s library.

She said to be successful in her position, “you have to like helping people.” She added, “I love being able to help people in a meaningful way.” She also enjoys the ability to be constantly learning. ”You learn something new every day. When someone comes to the reference desk to ask a question, you may not always have a ready answer, so you have to try a bunch of things and learn together.”

Stocker loves to read but doesn’t necessarily have a favorite book or author. “It’s constantly changing,” she explained. “It just depends on the day. I love to read, of course. I read every night and prefer this to watching television. I also love to garden, go hiking, and just be outdoors.”

The Hazel Park Library offers a unique opportunity for her to provide a variety of resources and activities to patrons while getting to know each and every one of them. “Our library has a reputation as the little library that does a lot,” said Stocker. “And, everyone knows everyone – it’s kind of like Cheers!’

NEIGHBORHOOD ENRICHMENT BRINGS LITTLE FREE LIBRARIES TO KIDS
LITTLE FREE LIBRARIES ARE A TREND, AND POP­PING UP IN YARDS ALL OVER THE COUNTRY. And, thanks to Neighborhood Enrichment, Hazel Park has a few LFLs of our own to promote reading and access to books for kids.

Started in 2009 by Wisconsin resident Todd Bol, Little Free Libraries are small wooden containers mounted on a post in a public place and filled with books. Bobby McDermott, a member of Neighborhood Enrichment, spearheaded the Hazel Park initiative, and already they have helped create four Little Free Librar­ies around the city.

“The goal is to encourage kids to read. And adults too, with children, and to have conversations about books with kids. That conversation may be more important than the number of words a child knows entering school,” McDermott says. “Let kids experience the joy and adventure of reading, the book you ‘don’t want to put down’ with a flashlight under the blanket!”

The containers used for the project are recycled newspaper stands built by resi­dent artist Richard Gage, and books for the libraries have been donated by Neighborhood Enrichment President, Lois Reithel.

“Richard Gage built the structure designed to look like a library that sits on top. He donated his time, materials and creativity,” McDermott says. “Susan Fried­man, now a retired art teacher who taught here in Hazel Park, did the artwork to transform Richard’s wonderful construction into a library.”

Friedman describes how she dressed up the newsstands, using inspiration from a Beverly Cleary book for the one located in front of Hoover Elementary School.

“I used the images of her childhood experiences as inspiration for the four sides of the little library form. The roof is patterned with a quaint shingle design. Each side represents a season and three of the sides are painted with windows that reveal the activity inside the library,” she says. “There are shelves of books with children, a dog, a librarian helping a little girl, and a cat in an upper window. Hand imprints of kindergartners cover the old newspaper base.”

These libraries have added creativi­ty to the landscape of Hazel Park, and are seeing interest among chil­dren.

“I was pleased to be a part of something that supports reading and the experience of holding books rather than electronic devices,” Friedman says. “I thought it unlikely that they would get much use, but have since learned that they are visited fre­quently, and children love the idea.”

McDermott says the groups plan to add another Little Free Library to the city in the future, and that the benefits of the project are endless.

“They improve literacy, strengthen our neighborhoods and schools, bring families and kids together, build trust and community,” he says.

By Mary Meldrum

EXLTERRA IS AN INTERNATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE COMPANY located on 10 Mile Road in Hazel Park with strong business contacts in Switzerland, India and Japan.

They are mostly known for their HAZL drill rig, but they are a little bit of a mystery since their web site doesn’t give viewers a clear understanding of exactly what they are doing.

That’s sort of intentional.

In short, Exlterra uses innovation, technology and experience to create reliable, long-lasting solutions to environmental industry problems.

Frank Muller, CEO of Exlterra, explains that maintaining some mystery to their business is necessary right now. They are in the process of completing two new technologies that they will announce later in 2018. These are just the first two in a substantial pipeline of currently classified revolutionary environmental technologies that will come online in the near future. For now, the two new technologies as well as the pipeline must remain a secret for a little longer, but Muller is extremely excited about the direction of their innovation and the future of Exlterra.

Muller is very quick to give credit for Exlterra’s innovations to Chairman, CTO, and inventor Andrew Niemczyk.

“Andrew was born in Poland in 1960 under communism,” Muller explains. “He has a gift for understanding the systems of the world, the environment. It was a prison for him growing up in communism. There, you are capped and your knowledge is not valued.” Niemczyk eventually escaped, and came to the United States where his long-stifled creativity has been erupting into breakout discoveries.

An established businessman searching for more meaning in his life, Muller moved to the U.S. in 2011 from Switzerland. He was introduced to Niemczyk, and it was the beginning of their close relationship. Muller sees it as his purpose and duty to protect Niemczyk and help him bring his remarkable products to market. Niemczyk develops the technologies, and Muller – with his understanding of business and professional connections — brings them to market.

“The more time I spend with Andrew, I realize how much this man went through,” Muller says. “We have not seen even one percent of what he can achieve.” By all of Muller’s accounts, Andrew Niemczyk is a gifted creator, a renaissance man, someone to watch.

THE SMALL TEAM AT EXLTERRA INCLUDES NIEMCZYK’S TWO SONS – both engineers – Robert and Patrick Niemczyk. Together, they are working on building more technology that will equip humans with the tools to prosper and help the earth to heal.

Explosive growth of modern civilization has put tremendous pressure on the environment causing imbalances. Exlterra recognizes that many standard systems used today that address environmental issues lack sustainability and often result in unintended consequences and unnecessary costs.

Exlterra’s mission is to invent better ways to combat major challenges affecting the environment and civilization. Their focus is on developing technologies that generate significant economic, environmental, and social value.

In 2010, Exlterra invented and patented a passive groundwater recharging system. This product revolutionized the way to address certain water issues.

In 2017, HAZL was born; a versatile drilling machine to accelerate the installation of their soil moisture management system, and for other drilling applications.

Exlterra realizes that nature works in systems. Awareness, appreciation and deep knowledge of how to work within natural systems is the key to Exlterra’s success. The concept of a circular economy presents a unique opportunity to build greater value through our world’s abundant yet finite resources.

TODAY, EXLTERRA IS WORKING ON IMPROVING ITS EXISTING DRILL TECHNOLOGY while continuing to pursue new projects and ideas. It is in the DNA of Exlterra to invent and market powerful technologies that will benefit humans and improve the way we treat the earth.

“The only way people will adopt a new way of doing something is if they experience a benefit,” Muller says. “Find a way that people will see the benefit, and they will adopt it.”

As a business professional, Muller clarifies, “If you try to impose change through sanctions or in a way that is inefficient, that will never succeed. If you want to achieve things on this planet for the environment, you have to do it in a way that there will be a benefit and a profit. And it is my job to make sure that message is heard for Exlterra.”

Muller values Exlterra’s strong relationship with Hazel Park.

“Exlterra came to the city in 2013, and we identified this place as a great area to start manufacturing,” Muller says. “We got a good price with our building and solid support and understanding from the city. We have a happy and harmonious relationship with the city of Hazel Park.”

Stay tuned to Exlterra to discover what new technology they will be unveiling in Hazel Park in the coming months!

By Ingrid Sjostrand

WHEN ICE THAWS AND THE SNOW MELTS, Metro Detroit streets start to fill with the dusted-off motorcycles previously hibernating all winter. Oftentimes after a harsh season, these bikes could use a little love – or maybe an extreme makeover – and that’s where Bad Pig Customs takes pride.

“We service and build motorcycles; we do anything from A to Z as far as customization goes. And we’ve got a storeroom that has parts, so we can do part sales,” co-owner Dave Foster says. “We can’t sell motorcycles because we don’t have a dealer’s license, but we do everything that needs to be done on American motorcycles only.”

Located at 1806 E. Nine Mile, Foster and his partner Mark Zagacki opened their Hazel Park shop in 2012 when they saw a growth in the industry and a lack of shops like theirs.

“There was a need – not just in the city, but in the motorcycle industry. It is getting larger because of gas mileage and stuff,” Foster says. “It’s a shame that in Michigan it’s not a necessity to have a motorcycle because of our weather – real short season – and the state considers it a recreational vehicle.” Foster says.

ONE THING THAT MAKES BAD PIG CUSTOMS unique is that they have an in house parts shop, so there’s no waiting for parts to be ordered and shipped in. Zagacki is actually well-known in the community for his parts knowledge and accessibility.

“We’re actually two businesses in one. We have Oak Park Mark — he sells parts — and then Bad Pig Customs is about service and custom builds,” Foster says. “We’re partners but I try to run this side and he tries to run that side. He’s been known as Oak Park Mark for many years, so we threw the second business in there.”

Being located in Hazel Park has served the business fairly well too, and they are hoping to add a local bike night but are still searching for the right location.

“It’s actually a really good location, we’re right on the edge of Macomb County, Wayne County and the Southeast corner of Oakland,” Zagacki says. “We’re kind of positioned in between the little four corners, and we’re far enough away from Harley dealers that we shouldn’t really take away from any of their business.” “There aren’t too many bike shops in our ten-mile radius,” Foster adds.