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More office locations, growing client base spur new medical, marketing jobs at Neurocore

With two new offices recently opened in the Detroit area, another one about to open in Bloomfield Hills, and three more planned for later this year in other parts of Michigan, it's safe to say that Neurocore is breaking new ground medically and physically.

Neurocore, founded in Grand Rapids by Dr. Tim Royer, uses brain science (theta/beta analysis) and computer technology to collect brain activity data and create customized neurofeedback training to help people focus, sleep better, and manage stress. One of the company's specialties is helping ADHD-diagnosed kids and adults function at levels where medications are no longer needed.

Neurocore now has nine locations statewide, and has grown from 20 employees in 2010 to 60 employees now. Some 15 employees have come aboard in the last 12 months.

After adding its first marketing position some nine months ago, Neurocore now needs a communications coordinator who will work alongside the marketing director, says President Rick Kuiper.

"We're very intentional about creating advocates for our program," says Kuiper. "It's very important that we have folks who tell our story well; not only our staff, but clients who are comfortable sharing their story, as well."

Kuiper says that part of the rapid growth of the company is due to adding Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Blue Care Network to its list of health insurance companies. Furthermore, last July the Food and Drug Administration approved the marketing of theta/beta analysis as a diagnostic tool for ADHD.

"We have something that can change peoples' lives with a quantifiable brain-based diagnostic tool for ADHD and the tools to treat it and provide best support intervention, as well," Kuiper says. "As we open more locations, we'll look to staff them with clinical staff and that naturally creates the need for administrative members to support those clinicians. I see us looking to add some staff that is very technically competent, and with nine locations and additional expansions planned, facilities management services for acquisition and planning is needed."

To find out more about Neurocore careers or to apply, click here.

Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor
Images courtesy of Neurocore

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Documentary film company one of West Michigan's best-kept secrets

Grand Rapids-based Wolfer Productions is an award-winning documentary film company. It has made films in fifteen countries, focusing on stories about women's rights, humanitarian and religious issues, and the plight of orphans.

One of its documentaries, "Adopting Haiti," released January 2011 on Hulu.com, has been shown at film festivals and humanitarian events around the world, winning the San Diego indie fest "Best Documentary" and a silver "Telly Award."

Interestingly enough, the founder of the production company, Tim Wolfer, says, "I never had a client in Grand Rapids yet."

Wolfer works out of the downtown co-working facility The Factory and has a team of five talented contractors who provide background research, music, graphics and editing.  

Having traveled throughout the United States and various parts of the world to capture film footage of humanitarian efforts, Wolfer says he has learned how to be prepared for unexpected travel. His basement serves as a staging area where everything he needs for a quick get-away is packed up and ready for him to leave on the drop of dime: "I have it set up where we can be anywhere in the world in 24 hours. Everything is pre-packed, all customs information and travel documents are ready."

His most recent adventure took him to the Philippines following the recent typhoon. After unsuccessfully pitching his services to various organizations providing aid, he bought a plane ticket and decided to go on his own. 

After landing in the Philippines he quickly was hired as a freelancer and recouped his expenses. At the same time, he took advantage of the experience and filmed the rescue and aid efforts which he is making into a documentary.

"I shot a film there about the food drops and flew with the helicopter pilots," Wolfer says. He recalls walking up to the pilots with his camera in hand and asking, "Can I hop on the chopper?" He says the pilots flew throughout the Philippines to remote villages to drop bags of rice.

Wolfer started his business five years ago, but it is only the last two years that he has been full-time. Although he has the capability to make any type of documentary, his primary customers are humanitarian and religious organizations. His goal is to accurately represent the lives and the feelings of the people he is filming: "We try to connect with people. Get them comfortable versus scripting it out."

Wolfer's goal is be able to hire 3-4 full time people in the next five years. He feels this would be the perfect size for the business, still allowing him to enjoy the adventures but not be bogged down as a full-time manager. 

To learn more about Wolfer Productions, go here. The link to the trailer for his Haiti documentary is here. 

Writer: John Rumery, Innovation and Jobs News Editor

Hitting the the road: American RV expands, adds jobs

Family owned and operated American RV is expanding. The West Michigan business -- which sells, services and finances travel trailers, fifth wheels, campers, and class A gas or diesel motor homes -- is adding an additional five acres to the new and used RV lot, doubling inventory space to a total of 10 acres at 201 76th Street SW.

As part of the expansion, the business has also been adding jobs. RV General Manager Chad Neff says the organization has added sales and tech positions, too.

Neff says Class B Motor homes have become very popular primarily because of how they drive like a truck or SUV and get relatively good gas mileage at 20 mpg. 

Another trend that Neff identifies is the popularity of bunkhouse trailers. "A bunkhouse trailer has up to four bunks in the back. Families are using these to go north or go to a property. It is a home away from home. Instead of flying a family to Disney, you can go on extended trips. It's an investment up front but a very affordable lifestyle for families," Neff says.

Construction for the expansion is set to begin in early summer 2014 and to be completed around July.

To learn more about American RV you can visit their site here.

Writer: John Rumery, Innovation and Jobs News Editor

Open Systems Technologies (OST) continues to dazzle

When asked, "How's business at OST?" Mike Lomonaco, director of marketing, quickly cites some impressive figures. The tech company:

- hired 40+ people in 2013
- hired 80 new employees since 2011
- reported revenue of $55m in 2011 and anticipates $100m this year
- has 22 current job postings on their site here  http://www.ostusa.com/company/careers

Lomonaco then provides the rest of the story. He points to his firm's diversity of skills, projects and clients as driving much of the growth, including a robust App Dev practice that he says is one of the fastest-growing in the state. 

He adds their firm's work with long-time client Priority Health/Spectrum Health as another key factor for growth: "With the Affordable Care Act in full swing, healthcare organizations, both on the delivery (hospitals) and insurance side are looking for ways to innovate and improve their process."

Other work that Lomonaco mentions includes a new project with Mall of America, their firm's expertise with VDI space (Virtualization) within the healthcare industry, and significant growth in their Managed Services practice.

Keeping up with these projects requires talent. Tamara Iakiri, director of talent acquisition at OST, says they now have a dedicated team of three people focused on finding the right people and are involved on multiple fronts to identify candidates.

Iakiri says OST relies heavily on personal and employee referrals. She says internships are a great way to identify candidates and that they work closely with computer science programs at GVSU, Calvin, the coLearning program and other schools to identify potential employees.

She also says her team is heavily committed to networking through technology advisory boards at colleges, involvement on special projects such as Hello West Michigan, and spending time actively reaching out to the tech community through conferences, user groups and meet-ups.  

To learn more about OST you can view their site here and their job listings here.

Writer: John Rumery, Innovation and Jobs News Editor

MyWay Mobile Storage launches new franchises, opens larger facility, adds jobs

In 2008 when the economy tanked, Grand Rapids-based MyWay Mobile Storage was about to go out of business and leave its franchisees with nothing to show for their $500,000 to $750,000 investments.

Instead, the franchisees -- located in Baltimore, Denver, Grand Rapids, Pittsburgh, and St. Louis -- banded together and formed MyWay Equity under the leadership of CEO Stuart Hill. They stopped selling franchises for five years, stabilized the company, and invested in a new 20,000-square-foot storage warehouse and national call center at 3696 Northridge Avenue NW, Grand Rapids.

This afternoon, the new facility cuts the ribbon to open its doors to the public and MyWay Mobile Storage announces the launch of two new franchises in Salt Lake City, UT and Tyler, TX.

"We believed in the concept we have and if you can emerge from that kind of market as a startup it's a real testament to the band of brothers formed to save the company," says Gary Schuler, Grand Rapids market owner with Dale Plowman. "We are looking to sell more franchises this year and have markets interested and in various stages of development. Now the infrastructure has been built to accommodate that growth, and we have the call center and computer systems in place."

Schuler says MyWay Mobile Storage's Grand Rapids call center will handle all customer calls for all franchises nationwide. The call center has added one job thus far, but will add one person for every two new franchises that come online.

Franchisees do not compete against each other because they purchase the market in an entire metro area. The company targets franchise locations in metro areas with populations of about one million.

Besides individual customers who might rent a storage container, have it delivered to their home, pack it, and have it stored at the central warehouse, MyWay Mobile Storage has expanded its offerings to serve business-to-business clients, including fire and water restoration companies and real estate professionals.

Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Photography by John Wiegand.

Atomic Object creates app to help customer detect damage in oil and gas pipelines

Atomic Object is the final stages of completing a very innovative and challenging project for Inline Devices / Microline Technology Corp. in Traverse City.

AO project lead Jordan Schaenzle explains the genesis of the project. "We were contracted by Microline because they were taking on a project which was very technically challenging and they wanted to complete it in about one year. They only had a small development team and did not have capacity to get it done in the desired timeframe."

Inline and Microline create Pipeline Inspection Gauges (PIGs), which run through oil and gas pipelines and inspect them for defects and weaknesses. These cylindrical devices are 24" in diameter and approximately six feet long. They are inserted into a pipeline and pushed through the pipe by creating pressure behind it. They can travel up to 300 miles, collecting data from dozens of sensors. Managing and storing the data requires over one TeraByte of flash storage.   

Schaenzle explains the importance of this information. "This data is then used to determine the condition of the pipe. It can detect very small cracks, pitting, corrosion or buildup. If a problem is found the data can tell them exactly where the problem area is. This information is crucial to the owners of the pipeline because it allows them to detect a problem before a leak happens. This can save them a great deal of money and bad publicity by allowing them to do a controlled shutdown to replace small sections of pipes that are compromised."

As part of the project, AO created Streamline, an app that controls the launch sequence and runs diagnostics before and after the PIG is used. The data from Streamline is then designed to be displayed in a visual manner, making it more understandable for the users in the field. The Atomic Object team developed the PIG software and the Streamline app simultaneously reducing the risk of development errors miscommuncation between teams.

Schaenzle says the biggest technical hurdle the team had to overcome was the passing of data between over 78 different circuit boards. "A lot of time and effort was spent making sure that these transactions of data happened as efficiently and reliably as possible," says Schaenzle.

Schaenzle says the project began just over a year ago and he had five developers working on the project throughout the process.

To learn more about Atomic Object you can view their site here.

Writer: John Rumery, Innovation and Jobs News Editor.

Iserv announces network expansion and more job growth

The Iserv Co. has announced that it can now offer business customers in the area of 36th St. and Patterson new wireless connectivity options.

Jeff Potter, director of business development, says this recent expansion will greatly enhance wireless services for local businesses and is one of many network expansion projects that will deliver additional Iserv products and services throughout West Michigan. "That particular area, around a two mile radius, had a lot of businesses that were underserved and connectivity was an issue," Potter says.

Potter says that as Iserv grows its network, the need for new jobs also increases. "As we expand our network, we will be adding jobs." He says they just added  positions in engineering and sales in the last two weeks and have several more openings. He adds that the jobs are highly technical and customer service focused, and that a background in telecommunications is preferred.

If interested in working for Iserv, you can review the open positions through their website here.

Iserv is also hosting a lunch-and-learn for businesses interested in additional information on this new wireless option. The seminar will be on January 28 at noon and held at Iserv's headquarters located at 5222 33rd St. SE, Grand Rapids.

Writer: John Rumery, Innovation and Jobs News Editor

Looks good, feels good: New iPhone case invented by collegiate entrepreneur

For 19-year-old college student and entrepreneur Sergio Troiani, a standard  case was not good enough for his new iPhone. He wanted the protection that a case offers but something well-designed, stylish and worthy of the Apple-designed phone. "Last year I got my first iPhone 5," he says. "It's all aluminum. Thin. Looks and feel great in my hand. I went a week without the case, then dropped it. I thought to myself, I need to put a case on the phone."

The problem, from Troiani's perspective, was that "all cases are big and bulky, [and] obstruct the beauty of how Apple designed the phone."

Unable to find the perfect case, he did something about it: he invented his own. "I thought to myself, I'm an innovative guy. Let me tackle this problem on my own."

Beginning the design process, Sergio knew he wanted to use aluminum, mimicking the original Apple design, but his research and own testing showed that aluminum cases resulted in poor reception. After eight rounds of prototypes and a signifiant assist from  GR Makers, Troiani invented KLOQE (patent pending), the first all-aluminum case for the iPhone that doesn't negatively affect the phone's reception and adds only 4mm to the height and width of the iPhone. "When I first came up with idea it was just pencil scratches. I found about GR Makers and went to a meeting. I talked to a ton of of people who helped me move the design forward," says Troiani.

Troiani, a sophomore at Grand Valley State University, is in the second phase of developing his product: raising funds. Troiani has created a $25,000 goal for a Kickstarter project. The first 100 buyers will be able to purchase Kloque for $89, while early adopters (everyone after 100) can purchase it for $99. The case is available in all current iPhone 5 and 5s colors.

After the Kickstarter campaign, Troiani says he will be focusing on production, fulfilling his orders and then begin working through distribution and channel challenges. "I'm  still deciding on distribution," he says. "New opportunities are popping up every day."

To learn more about KLOQE, you can visit its Kickstarter campaign here.

Writer: John Rumery, Innovation and Jobs News Editor

Growing physical therapy firm seeks massage therapist, adds fitness, weight loss programs

Northern Physical Therapy owners Gina Otterbein and Janis Kemper lead by example when it comes to inspiring employees and clients to attain their own goals. Their personal dedication to physical fitness and weight loss has driven the company to continual growth throughout all five of its West Michigan locations.

Now, after recently adding three occupational therapists and a practice manager, bringing the staff count to 46 full-time-equivalent employees, Northern Physical Therapy seeks a massage therapist to work with clients in its Grant, Cedar Springs, and Sparta offices. A certified therapist willing to travel to all three locations would fill the need, or the work could be split between two or three therapists, says Gina Otterbein.

The massage therapists will work with clients needing help recovering from injuries, and clients who are part of the new Personal Fitness Training program. That program provides one-on-one attention to help clients reach weight loss goals, as well as fitness goals that increase cardio capabilities and improve flexibility, strength, and balance. Massage therapists and physical therapists help clients work through obstacles like knee, back, and muscle pain so they can continue on their fitness path.

Otterbein and Kemper are living examples of how to make healthy lifestyle changes. Through improved nutrition and exercise, Kemper has lost 80 pounds and now jumpstarts her energy levels with workouts five days a week.

Otterbein says that, seven years ago, she set a goal for herself to get healthy. She started with the Fifth Third River Bank Run 5K walk and worked up from that. Last year, she completed the Fifth Third River Bank 25K run. This summer she's on track for a triathlon.

"The idea of our personal fitness program is motivated by [Janis's] journey and by my competitiveness as a competitive runner," Otterbein says. "Our practice can treat the high-level athlete, but we can also embrace the person who's just starting out and not sure what to do."

Northern Physical Therapy has offices in Coopersville, Wayland, Cedar Springs, Grant, and Sparta. The company is celebrating 20 years in service through July.

To apply for a position, click here.

Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

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Downtown Grand Rapids welcomes area's first lash and brow bar

Siren and Proper will be Grand Rapids' first lash lounge and brow bar. The business was founded by Cheeky Strut owner Kaite Lyn Christoffersen and Christina Lynn-Perez.

The new venture  will be opening at 217 Grandville Avenue Northwest, directly across the street from the current Cheeky Strut Salon. The business will provide a dedicated space for services such as Novalash eyelash extensions and brow shaping and tinting, as well as sugaring and wax hair removal.

Christoffersen says lash and brow salons have been popping up in larger cities since about 2004. As she noticed these types of services were increasing within Cheeky Strut, she felt it was time to bring the concept to Grand Rapids as a stand alone business. "It is really and truly a unique experience," says  Christoffersen. "To be able to relax. It's a much different pampering experience. The practical luxury makes women feel so good."

Co-owner Lynn-Perez, the national NovaLash Artist of the Year award winner in 2011, will be leading the team at Siren and Proper.

The four-month-long construction and design of Siren and Proper was finished in January and the grand opening is slated for February 1. Cheeky Strut is currently transitioning brow, wax and lash appointments to the new building. When opened, Lynn-Perez says the business will employ 5-6 employees.

To keep up on the progress, please join their Facebook page here.

Writer: John Rumery, Innovation and Jobs News editor

New job openings at Elevator Up and coLearning

Elevator Up, the West Michigan firm that specializes in building websites, apps and mobile experiences, is hiring.

Currently posted is the position for a new business developer. Two more positions, visual designer and product manager, will be posted in the near future. 

Aaron Schaap says the new positions reflect the need to serve the growth of their customers. "Hiring isn't a focus on getting larger but continuing to get better at what we do and putting the right people in place to lead. We continue to enhance our ability to not just help organizations balance business goals with users' needs, but to also help them craft those digital experiences and work with them to launch those products to market."

Besides the positions at Elevator Up, Schaap also has an immediate opening for his coLearning initiative, a learning platform that provides a wide variety of classes in the technical, design and marketing world taught by area professionals. "Now we're ready to develop a dedicated team to take it to the next level," he says. "Our 'admissions recruiter' is the first open position that will be responsible for filling classes and making sure people get into the right courses."

For both coLearning and Elevator Up positions, Schaap stresses the benefits of working for an organization that has a focus on intrinsic rewards. "We let people be part of the whole process. We have a lot of leadership opportunities in Elevator Up. There are specific roles but everyone has a lot of autonomy. We are very open as an organization."

To learn more about Elevator Up and coLearning, you can visit their sites here and here.

Writer: John Rumery, Innovation and Jobs News Editor.

Have a hitch in your golf swing? There's an app for that

Bryce Kaiser had an 'aha moment': "I was on the driving range and I spent a couple of weeks trying to solve a swing problem. The head instructor was there, looked at me and solved my problem within a couple of minutes."

Kaiser says that he had further discussions and found out that it is fairly common for professional golf instructors to be able to diagnose and fix some swing problems quickly, including instruction that can be given over the phone.

As a business development professional, software developer and golf enthusiast, Kaiser thought there had to be way to apply technology to golf lessons and possibly disrupt the business-as-usual approach to the industry.

So Kaiser went to work and developed HC Golf, a mobile application for connecting golfers to golf instructors for immediate swing feedback. Users send in a video of their swing, connect with the coach of their choice, and receive detailed feedback with video analysis - all within minutes.

The app was interesting enough for Start Garden to invest $5,000 and Kaiser is working on validating the hypothesis that golfers will adopt this technology for golf instruction before his March update night.

Moving forward, Kaiser is working with a team of contractors and an advisory board that includes Nathan Owen, who is the founder of technology company Blue Medora, to continue development on the app.

If you are interested in being a beta participant, you can go to hcgolfapp.com.

Writer: John Rumery, Innovation and Jobs News Editor

"Positive momentum on east side of state" spurs growth in Grand Rapids marketing firm

Jeff Lambert says his company is "extremely bullish about where Michigan is headed," and that direction is all about finding Michigan's amazing talent and keeping that talent in the state.

Lambert is president and managing partner of the public relations and investor relations firm Lambert Edwards & Associates, which has recently hired some of that talent to fill three vital positions in the company's fastest-growing practice areas: retail, education, and consumer products; healthcare; and public affairs.

The new hires will operate out of Lambert Edwards' offices in Grand Rapids, Lansing, and downtown Detroit.

Lambert says the firm's use of Michigan-based talent is intentional.

"I think the west side of the state doesn't often understand that there's positive momentum on the east side of the state," says Lambert. "I think there's a big opportunity to export our talent, and by that I mean that we serve clients in 20 states, but all the employees are in Michigan. I think that you ultimately can find the very best talent here in Michigan, and I would encourage other employers to work hard and be intentional about recruiting initiatives here in Michigan."

Lambert notes that the company, founded in 1998, now has 45 employees throughout its three offices and has grown in revenue for 14 consecutive years.

The new hires fill positions associated with media relations, social media, event coordination, and writing. Two of the new hires were interns at Lambert Edwards. Internships have been "a great pipeline" for finding and hiring top talent, Lambert says.

"Whether it's service providers like us, manufacturers, or technology companies, there is opportunity to invest further and be part of the resurgence of the state," says Lambert, "and it's our responsibility to grow."

Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

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Onward and upward! New travel business connects organizations with unique experiences

Onward Travel Co. is a new service that provides customized trips for organizations and their members.

The travel service was started by Molly Crist and her sister Katerina Clauhs, with inspiration firmly rooted in family.

"My mom and grandmother had a cooking school and they did trips every year when I was growing up. Cooking classes all over the world. It was wonderful for the business and I've always been very inspired by that," says Crist.

Crist, who started the Silver Spork food truck when she moved to Grand Rapids a few years ago, says her business model goes beyond satisfying an individual's wanderlust, but is really a marketing platform for organizations to build brand loyalty and engage and retain their customers in a new and unique way. 

The first trip for Onward is a collaboration with AIGA West Michigan, destination Reykjavik, Iceland, where the itinerary includes attending a design festival, multiple tours and networking opportunities, and a stay at Kex Hostel.

"Traveling with a group is amazing," Crist says, adding that, by designing a itinerary with a group, you are able to access events, visit businesses and create unique experiences that an individual typically is not able to do.
After the Iceland trip, Crist is working with Amore Trattoria for a "foodies" trip to Italy tentatively called Amore in Italy. Crist is also working to bring a group from her sister's cooking school, the Cooking Cottage, to Grand Rapids in May during Tulip Time.

To learn more about Onward Travel Co. you can view their site here. 

Writer: John Rumery, Innovation and Jobs News Editor.

Kendall College student design project goes directly from classroom into production

To use a sports metaphor, Kendall College of Art and Design (KCAD) senior Brooke Ruble 'hit it out of the park.'

As a project in her footwear design class, Ruble created and presented her vision of a new footwear collection to a design team from Wolverine Worldwide's Patagonia brand. The result: an offer to put her designs into production.

Ruble says the presentation was a terrific experience. "It surprised me. They all were really receptive. It is very nice to get positive feedback from others in the industry. That class in particular pushed everyone outside of their comfort zone," says Ruble.

In their design programs, KCAD frequently uses industry professionals to critique student work and give students a unique learning experience that develops their talent. However, it is very rare that a class project morphs so quickly into actual production.

According to Kendall officials, the team from Patagonia was stunned by the quality of the presentation, and Les Horne, a senior product manager at Patagonia, said that this was the first time in his 25-plus years that a students design had so much impact and was moved into production.

Ruble says the experience with Patagonia went well beyond a typical classroom project.  "It has a lot of value. The  biggest positive lesson was understanding you might not always know what you are doing. There were times in the class I was thinking 'I can't do it' but I kept pushing."

Besides preparing for graduation in 2014, Ruble hones her design and entrepreneurial skills with her business Woosah Outfitters, an art and apparel brand.

To learn more Kendall College and their design program you can visit their site here.

Writer: John Rumery, Innovation and Jobs News Editor
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