Talmer Bank and Trust, SPARK, BlueWater Technologies among winners in Michigan Business of the Year awards, presented by students in the EMU College of Business

Second annual event features 30 companies nominated by EMU students in 10 categories, with students selecting the winners

YPSILANTI  – Talmer Bank and Trust, SPARK, and BlueWater Technologies are among the best-run businesses in Michigan, according to students in the Eastern Michigan University College of Business.

Those businesses and seven others were honored during an Academy-Award style event Friday, April 10, in the historic and packed McKenny Hall Ballroom on the EMU campus.

Talmer Bank and Trust, led by CEO David Provost, an EMU alumnus, won in the Alumni-Owned Business category, SPARK won in the Social Enterprises category and BlueWater Technologies won in the Information Systems category.

David Provost, CEO of Talmer Bank and Trust and an EMU alumnus, receives a Business of The Year Award from Yu Qiao, a Master of Science in Accounting student at EMU.

The second annual EMU Business of the Year Awards Luncheon selected winners in 10 categories. The event’s distinctive flourish stemmed from the fact that EMU students nominated each of the 30 companies, three in each category, along with selecting the winners.

Businesses were judged on several factors, including profitability, strategic 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 perspective from a representative of the winning company.

“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.”

"We are elated to be recognized by EMU students as a business of the year," said Jeff Day, CEO of BlueWater Technologies. "EMU business students are exceptional, and I'm particularly impressed with their focus on social responsibility. Both the business world and companies like BlueWater look for and need people like EMU business school students."

The event also offered a special opportunity for students to connect and network with members of Michigan’s business community.

Jason Stoicevich, head of the FIAT brand in North America and an EMU alumnus and Detroit native, served as keynote speaker at the event. FIAT is one brand of FIAT-Chrysler Automobiles Company, the product of the merger between FIAT S.p.A. and Chrysler LLC.

Stoicevich showed a variety of videos that underscored FIAT’s extremely edgy and successful marketing campaign, including the wildly popular 2015 Super Bowl Ad that featured an older Italian couple, a familiar blue pill that falls out of a window and careens into a gas tank of a muscular and sexy FIAT.

“For us to be relevant, we have to take risks,” Stoicevich said of FIAT’s conscious decision to appear distinct and not a mere commodity. “We can’t be mainstream, or we lose.”

His question for the EMU business students gathered for the event to ponder: “When you graduate, how will you brand yourself?”

Stoicevich is responsible for FIAT brand’s sales, marketing, dealer network and service. Before his current position, he spent 10 years working in sales, marketing and customer service for Chrysler. He graduated in 2002 with a bachelor’s degree in Marketing.

The 10 categories of awards, the winners and other nominees include:

Small/Medium Enterprise: Zingerman’s (winner), The Taubman Centers, Yeo & Yeo CPAs.

Social Enterprise: SPARK (winner), Beyond Basics, SOS Community Services.

Accounting: Deloitte (winner), Baker Tilly, Rehmann.

Financial Services: Comerica Inc. (winner), Fifth Third Bank, United Shore Financial Services.

Human Resources: Enterprise Car Rental (winner), Impact Management Services, Rapid Global Business Solutions.

Marketing: Team Detroit (winner), Onset Marketing, Lowe Campbell Ewald.

Supply-Chain: Delphi Automotive (winner), Universal Truck Services, RPM Freight Systems.

Information Technology: Bluewater Technologies (winner), Altair Engineering, Tata Technologies.

Manufacturing: General Motors (winner), BorgWarner, MASCO.

Alumni-Owned Business: Talmer Bank and Trust (winner), Menlo Innovations, Technology Solutions

The event’s sponsors included Rehmann and Russell Video (Gold Level Sponsors), Comcast Business and Sesi Lincoln (Silver Level Sponsors) and Zingerman’s, NITS Solutions, Pro-Tech Group Inc. and Belfor Property Restoration (Bronze Level Sponsors).

For more on the EMU College of Business, please visit http://www.emich.edu/cob/

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April 10, 2015

Written by:
Geoff Larcom

Geoff Larcom