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Century-old Grand Rapids manufacturer launches new business venture near Old North Boundary



The 134-year-old Bissell Homecare, Inc. has launched a new think tank in Grand Rapids' Old North Boundary building -- a venture focused on leveraging Bissell's core competencies for innovative new business opportunities that will grow the company's global market.

Bissell Business Ventures, a group of about 15 employees, launched in January to build on the momentum begun last August when the group released its first new venture, Bissell Big Green Rental. The group moved into the Old North Boundary building (1140 Monroe NW) last week.

"Bissell entered into the floor cleaning rental industry with a new carpet cleaning machine we developed over the past two years," says Jim Krzeminski, president of Bissell Business Ventures, LLC. "How do we bring an easy-to-use product to a community rental over and over again? How do we make sure the machine is clean and ready to use for the next customer? It required a whole new business model, a whole different infrastructure, a whole new machine."

Krzeminski says Bissell Big Green Rental draws on Bissell's engineering expertise and test laboratories, making it a "first cousin" to the Bissell brand. Big Green Rental is now in about 900 Lowe's stores nationwide with a planned rollout to Canada and other countries later this year.

Krzeminski says the formation of Bissell Business Ventures keeps the brains behind the venture in West Michigan.

"We moved just three miles down the road (from the Walker headquarters)," he says. "The idea isn't to invest in bricks and mortar; the idea is to break out and think differently to foster innovation.

"For a company coming up on its 135th anniversary celebrating the issuance of the first sweeper patent (Sept. 19), we continue to grow and prosper and make investments. We now have a place to bring new ideas, entrepreneurs and new investments so we continue to grow in different ways."

Source: Jim Krzeminski, Bissell Business Ventures
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

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