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Posted on Sat, Nov 6, 2010 : 8:03 a.m.

Business Review announces winners of 2010 Deals of the Year awards

By Paula Gardner


Paul Saginaw, co-founder of Zingerman's, which was named Company of the Year by's Business Review on Friday night.

Melanie Maxwell |’s Business Review announced the winners of its 2010 “Deals of the Year” awards at its 6th annual gala Friday night.

The event, held at Eastern Michigan University’s Student Center, featured top awards presented to Zingerman’s Family of Businesses as Company of the Year and Jeff Williams, ex-CEO of HandyLab, as Executive of the Year.

A crowd of 400 people attended the presentation, the area’s largest black-tie business event. Among the attendees was Rick Snyder, Michigan’s governor-elect and Business Review’s 2005 Executive of the Year.


The awards, which were not announced in advance, were chosen by after community members suggested nominees. Three finalists for 7 sector awards were announced on Oct. 1.

The winners:

Company of the Year: Zingerman’s Family of Businesses
Ann Arbor’s iconic deli grew into a family of 8 businesses in 2009 and now is poised for still more growth: Zingerman’s received approvals to build a multi-million dollar expansion of its Detroit Street deli complex that will add 10,430-square-feet of new construction to the Kerrytown property and further cement the business’s place in Ann Arbor.

Executive of the Year: Jeff Williams
As CEO of HandyLab, Williams helped the company develop its technology to the point where New Jersey-based giant Becton, Dickinson and Co. paid $275 million to acquire HandyLab in late 2009.
It was the Ann Arbor region’s second largest acquisition of the last decade, trailing only Esperion Therapeutics’ $1.4 billion sale to Pfizer in 2004.
BD is closing the local facility, but Williams is moving on as CEO of another local company: Accuri Cytometers.

Commercial Real Estate:Masco Cabinetry
The former Flint Ink headquarters in Ann Arbor Township had been listed for sale for years until the multi-billion-dollar Masco Inc. saw the potential to use the showcase building for a division headquarters. Now the nation’s leading cabinet brands - including Merillat and KraftMaid, - will be based in the Ann Arbor region. Masco Cabinetry, after months of customizing the building and the property, is moving existing employees from Ohio and Adrian, and also plans new hires, with the goal of having 450 people working the 150,000-square-foot building within 5 years.

Construction & Development: North Quad/University of Michigan
The first new dormitory on U-M’s campus in decades, North Quad replaced the former Frieze Building on South State Street. The $175 million, 360,000-square-foot structure houses 450 students and classroom space, crating a defining building on the western edge of Central Campus. The construction also effectively extended South State, giving a boost to the property owners and businesses located along the corridor. At the same time, North Quad preserved the historic façade of the small Carnegie Library that had been on the site for more than 100 years.

Health Care: NanoBio
The University of Michigan biotechnology spinoff is adding 4 laboratories and office space to fuel the expansion of its nanotechnology-based drug treatments. The expansion comes after NanoBio struck a major licensing deal with pharmaceutical firm GlaxoSmithKline, which agreed to pay NanoBio up to $40 million for the right to market NanoBio’s cold sore treatment. NanoBio, which is led by global nanotechnology expert and CEO Jim Baker, will use the funding to continue hiring scientists to help develop its other drug technologies.

Nonprofit: Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Regional Chamber of Commerce
The business advocacy groups for the two communities had long operated separately, despite embracing similar missions - and even member overlap. Yet leadership of each group recognized a unique opportunity to set a regional example of cooperation and collaboration by initiating a merger. The deal came as the groups faced challenging budgets, but the true impact comes from erasing the ‘invisible line’ drawn for decades along US-23.

Research: Domino’s Pizza
The Ann Arbor Township-based international chain spent more than 18 months researching and testing a new pizza recipe. Domino’s launched an innovative marketing campaign to promote the overhaul of its centerpiece product, and customers and franchisees embraced it. The new recipe, guided by former CEO David Brandon and new CEO Patrick Doyle, helped same-store sales rise 14.3 percent in the critical first quarter after the recipe was introduced. In an extremely competitive industry, that’s supreme.

Retail: Underground Printing
Co-owners Ryan Gregg and Rishi Narayan lived in the University of Michigan’s West Quad when they decided to start a t-shirt production business. The $8.5 million operation is growing fast, in part due to the team’s other strategy: Opening retail collegiate team apparel stores in select markets. With stores in 8 states, their primary market remains Ann Arbor. Over the past year Underground Printing expanding a store on South University, opened one on Main Street and bought the iconic Moe Sports Shop near the Diag.

Technology: Renaissance Venture Capital Fund
The fund, led by Ann Arbor-based investor Chris Rizik, raised $50 million from corporate partners to provide cash to venture capital firms with a focus on Michigan technology investments. The group, formed in cooperation with Business Leaders for Michigan, is relying exclusively on private funding to help boost Michigan entrepreneurs. Local firms that have already received funding include Ann Arbor-based Arboretum Ventures and RPM

Also presented on Friday night were the 2010 FastTrack awards, given annually to the area's growing companies that fit the criteria set by Ann Arbor SPARK.

For the 2010 FastTrack recipients, companies were required to have revenue of at least $100,000 in 2006, and average growth of 20 percent for the following three years. To qualify, companies reported 2009 revenues greater than 2008 revenues.

First-year winners: Beal Inc., Mayaterials Inc., Pure Visibility Inc., Sensitile Systems.

Second-year winners: Beal Properties LLC, Caelynx LLC, Medhub Inc.

Third-year winners: LLamasoft Inc., SRT Solutions.

Four-year winner: ForeSee Results.



Sun, Nov 7, 2010 : 11:42 a.m.

glacialerratic - Very interesting about Dairy Management. There is another notable paragraph: "But in a series of confidential agreements approved by agriculture secretaries in both the Bush and Obama administrations, Dairy Management has worked with restaurants to expand their menus with cheese-laden products. " Whether it's cheese, HFCS (high fructose corn syrup), hydrogenated fats, GRAS additives 'generally regarded as safe' (until a problem arises), money and policy frequently overlap in ways not always beneficial to the consumer. Relatively few are aware of these connections. Working within the context of existing conditions, optimal or not, Domino's Pizza did something remarkable. They saw a problem, took a huge risk, and succeeded in the marketplace. (Much like 'new' Coke, which, with the benefit of hindsight, was introduced to desensitize consumer taste buds, so that when 'Classic' Coke was re-introduced, using much cheaper HFCS instead of the traditional sugar, most consumers accepted the switch). The issue of nutrition in mass market manufactured foods is huge, but it is a bit beyond the scope of this local event. Good luck.


Sun, Nov 7, 2010 : 9:38 a.m.

Domino's gets an award for PIZZA RESEARCH? Ann Arbor's leading news source apparently missed this news that surfaced in today's NY Times: "Dominos Pizza was hurting early last year. Domestic sales had fallen, and a survey of big pizza chain customers left the company tied for the worst tasting pies. Then help arrived from an organization called Dairy Management. It teamed up with Dominos to develop a new line of pizzas with 40 percent more cheese, and proceeded to devise and pay for a $12 million marketing campaign. Consumers devoured the cheesier pizza, and sales soared by double digits. This partnership is clearly working, Brandon Solano, the Dominos vice president for brand innovation, said in a statement to The New York Times. But as healthy as this pizza has been for Dominos, one slice contains as much as two-thirds of a days maximum recommended amount of saturated fat, which has been linked to heart disease and is high in calories. And Dairy Management, which has made cheese its cause, is not a private business consultant. It is a marketing creation of the United States Department of Agriculture the same agency at the center of a federal anti-obesity drive that discourages over-consumption of some of the very foods Dairy Management is vigorously promoting. Urged on by government warnings about saturated fat, Americans have been moving toward low-fat milk for decades, leaving a surplus of whole milk and milk fat. Yet the government, through Dairy Management, is engaged in an effort to find ways to get dairy back into Americans diets, primarily through cheese." I realize irony's not the strong suit of, but neither is recognizing what research is. Why is this newspaper promoting cheap boosterism that has no part in responsible and credible reporting? This is disgusting.


Sat, Nov 6, 2010 : 9:49 p.m.

"If you find a business/store you like, spend your money there, and then spread the word to your friends, neighbors, relatives, and so on." Well put, Kristine. It's worth adding: if you can do business with a local company, instead of a multinational, do so. There are many fine, locally owned restaurants, retail outlets, book stores, grocery stores, drug stores, etc. from which to choose.


Sat, Nov 6, 2010 : 3:28 p.m.

Nicely said, javajolt1 (your last post). Let's support our local businesses. We live in a great community. If you find a business/store you like, spend your money there, and then spread the word to your friends, neighbors, relatives, and so on. We have to support Michigan. The Republicans are in power, but we have a chance to make our voices heard in other ways.

Joel A. Levitt

Sat, Nov 6, 2010 : 10:11 a.m.

Formerly UM-developed technology migrated to California for want of local funding. The creation of Renaissance Venture Capital Fund is an important step toward curing this situation, and its creators deserve our thanks. I hope that they open participation to our smaller investors.


Sat, Nov 6, 2010 : 9:29 a.m.

I have to agree with the previous post. There are some fantastic companies in Ann Arbor. Zingerman's fully understands theirs is an "experience driven" business. You can get food a lot cheaper...but they provide something you get at few other places: competent, superior, informative and courteous service. Sometimes my kids and I go to Zingernman's on a Friday or Saturday just to listen to the passion of the servers behind the deli counter recommend things we've never had. They get it. It doesn't matter if you're selling real estate, healthcare, retail or technology. Every business could take a page or two out of Zingerman's book. Nanobio: Jim Baker is a driven professional that is at the forefront of many things. He's an amazingly hard worker who has brought nanotechnology out of the shadows and is driving it toward a solid practical science that will not only be commercialized, but will be ubiquitous. Next time people rail on successful entreperneurs remember this: These people took serious risks in a competitive marketplace with no guarantee of return. A great idea and 25 cents gets you a cup of coffee. A great idea properly executed to fruition is what separates real business people from those trying to be business people. No doubt these people lost a lot of sleep and experienced many trials. These awards are a by-product of these efforts. It's nice to see successful business-people receive their due. Unless you've done it yourself, you have no idea the amount of sacrifice it involves.

Somewhat Concerned

Sat, Nov 6, 2010 : 9:09 a.m.

The list of award recipients makes one proud to be in Ann Arbor. Everything from a company like Zingerman's that is well known across the country for its superb management (partner Ari can be found Sunday evening at Zingerman's Roadhouse refilling water glasses, keeping his eyes and ears open to the customer experience) to amazing science-driven companies like Nanobio and executives like Jeff Williams who know how to build technology-driven companies. We have our problems, but think of the towns that would like to have a list of accomplishments like the accomplishments celebrated in Ann Arbor.

Paula Gardner

Sat, Nov 6, 2010 : 8:51 a.m.

Fast Track awards were part of the event! I'm working on adding them, along with some photos from last night, right now. I'll also be editing another story from last night and we'll have more coverage in Sunday's print edition.


Sat, Nov 6, 2010 : 8:41 a.m.

Weren't the Fast Track awards part of this event?? Why no mention?