Tag Archives: Building

West Michigan & The Hardware Store – Take a Walk Down the Aisle

Hardware StoreMaybe you only visit your small local one, or perhaps you prefer the big box one, whichever type of hardware store you choose you’d be able to find an interesting array of West Michigan made products. With West Michigan’s manufacturing footprint, it is only logical that there are many local businesses that are filling the shelves at hardware stores. So lets take a nice virtual trip through a hardware store and see what we can find.

Usually the most brightly lit part of the store is the paint section. Although this company isn’t actually selling consumers anything, they have quite the presence at the paint counter. X-Rite is a company that produces color measurement equipment and software. They manufacture paint matching equipment called spectrophotometers (spectro), allowing hardware stores and paint stores to match the color of anything a consumer brings in, giving you a can of paint in the exact same color of your sample. So next time you are at a paint counter take a look around and see if you can spot the spectro.

Now, the one thing that you always need MITmore of and never have enough of are tools. Hardware stores are the perfect spot to add to your collection or get that one tool you just need to finish your project. Luckily Michigan Industrial Tools based in Grand Rapids produces over 2,000 different types of tools under 3 sub brands  – Tekton, Maxcraft, and Workshop. I will also have to say that I am quite the fan of their logo with how they still worked in an “I” and a “T” in the “M”, very subtle but well done.

Another company with a lot of sub-brands is National Nail Corporation in Wyoming. Although they do offer numerous nails, the company is really staking themselves on the following two sub-brands – CAMO Fasteners and Stinger Cap Systems. The CAMO Fasteners system is a way to screw down lumber decking without having the screws showing, a hidden screw system (the video showcases it quite nicely.) Stinger Caps is a new way of attaching insulation wrap on new construction which seems a lot easier than a nail hammer.

Since we just got done talking about decks and hidden fastening systems, we might as well go to the lumber yard. Universal Forest Products based in Grand Rapids, produces lumber for decking, and almost every other use, in additUniversal-Forest-Products-Inc.ion to a wide range of other wood based products. If you have any more questions you might as well spend some time playing around in their little city program here.

hexarmor-logoPerhaps these two should go hand in hand. We have Grand Rapids based Hexarmor who produces gloves, armbands, and other apparel for personal protection against cuts, punctures, and other injuries. Their technology is a competitor of Kevlar and they have been getting into similar industries, and their focus is on protecting people. Klever Innovations located in Grand Haven developed a new type of box cutter called the Klever Cutter. This box cutter was created in response to 9/11 because the traditional box cutter being used as a weapon. The group that founded Klever Cutter set up to create a product that would open boxes, but would not cut the anyone, or damage the goods inside the box. So with the Klever Cutter you wouldn’t need a pair of Hexarmor gloves now would you?

Shuffling over to the home improvement area, we have some redundancy with the following two products Quick Door Hanger and EZ-Hang, (though if I had been “klever” I would have worked both of these companies into my last post). Both these products allow for quick, easy and plumb door installations. Quick Door Hanger is produced by Express Products located in Grandville. The EZ-Hang door is based in Hesperia. Express Products also produces the Fix-A-Kink product that helps fixed kinked hoses. It seems that they have found quite the niche with home improvement products for consumers.

Alright logograbber75we made it through the store, now its time to checkout. But even the checkout aisle has a few impulse items for us to look at. Especially in the fall and winter season you will be seeing many displays for hand warmers like Grabber (not at all fond of the name) based in Grand Rapids. There is an extensive write up in Rapid Growth about how they are more than just hand warmers and how the company got started.

Lastly, who couldn’t use a pair of new shades, that is where Global Vision of Byron Center comes in. They are a wholesaler of sunglasses, safety glasses, and goggles which are perfect for the hardware store. Interesting side note, apparently both Global Vision and Grabbers have the same marketing person – Matt Pickel. Someone needs to update their website.

We finally got out of the store, except now we have a cart full of stuff that we didn’t come in here to buy. Oh well that is how it usually works anyways.  So what did I miss? Do we need to go to the home and garden section next?

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Update on Scott Bosgraaf

Well its gotten to that point, where Scott Bosgraaf deserves his own post. Oddly enough it seems that he has been following in his former lessee, Brett Flipse’s footsteps.

Scott Bosgraaf in front of what could be a building (at least GR Press knows how to label file photos)

Last time I wrote about Scott Bosgraaf he seemed to be doing quite well, owning several companies and building developments, but as you can see many of these are running into trouble:

Huntington Bank was a major financier for Bosgraaf, had enough, and decided to pursue action against Bosgraaf.  The bank began to take some properties into foreclosure, and initiated some lawsuits to receive payment on loans.  Auto Sports Unlimited (which was used as an umbrella company to Bosgraaf Commercial, and Holland Transmission Service) and Faargsob (Bosgraaf backwards) where used as collateral for some of his developments, and both have filed for bankruptcy.  The legal battles between Huntington Bank and Bosgraaf are ongoing so we will have to wait and see how this will all play out.

The situation between Bosgraaf and his lenders has been brewing for awhile.  Back in January 2011, I noticed lots of visitors to The Ledger were searching for “Scott Bosgraaf foreclosure” or some variation of that.  At the time I could not verify any of that information, but now the press has caught wind of the story.

Read more at Holland Sentinel, Grand Rapids Press, Argus Press, and my original post here.
Though I do love the title for this Scott Bosgraaf photo “Scott Bosgraaf of Baker Lofts stand in the wine cellar at what could be Theodore, the new restaurant at Baker Lofts. ”  At what could be… really?

It’s A Bird, It’s a Plane, No It’s ……

Mumbai, Minneapolis, and Grand Rapids, Oh My – What do they all have in common….. Skywalks!

So Grand Rapids has a Skywalk, which is an elevated enclosed walkway between buildings. The main point of skywalks is to give users a safe way to move between buildings (avoid traffic, congestion on streets) and to protect pedestrians from the weather.

The Grand Rapids Skywalk is 1.4 miles long, covers 7 city blocks, and connects multiple buildings.  The Skywalk starts at Devos Place off of Monroe, and snakes it way down Monroe, and heads East on Fulton and ends at the Van Andel Arena.  Here is a map and here is another map, and here is a confusing map with entrances and exits and non identified buildings.

It is hard to get information on the SkyWalk and so I took it upon myself through visual observation and Bing Maps and their Aerial View (which rocks) to create my own map of the Grand Rapids SkyWalk and identifying what buildings it connects (and the businesses inside those buildings).  But of course soon after I created that map I found this one which is perfect – oh well.  Please click on my map to make me feel better about not wasting my time.

I have been on the Skywalk once after a Griffins hockey game at Van Andel Arena, promptly got lost and exited as quickly as I saw an exit.  But luckily it looks like the City of Grand Rapids is fixing the Skywalk system with a series of wayfaring signs by Corbin Design out of Traverse City (the same company that did the street wayfaring system for the downtown).  Additionally according to this article they are also looking for ways to beautify the Skywalk.

With out further ado here is the path of the Grand Rapids SkyWalk (my map): Also note that the numbers below correspond to the Bing Map I created)

Van Andel Arena (#1)to 25 Ottawa SW Building (#3) to both 32 Market SW Building (#5) and the Parking Lot on Market/Fulton/Monroe (#7) to Courtyard by Marriott (#8) & Plaza Towers (#9) (at 11 Monroe NW) to Campau Square Parking Lot on Campau & Monroe (#11) to Campau Square Plaza Building (#13) (99 Monroe NW) to National City Bank Building (#15) (171 Monroe NW) then splits to JW Marriott (#17) and Amway Grand Hotel (#21) & Plaza.

The JW Marriott Route (#17) goes to Riverfront Plaza Building (#19)(55 Campau, 88 Campau) and ends.

The path to Amway Grand Plaza (#21) goes to Windquest Building (#24 my personal favorite) and  DeVos Place/Performance Hall (#25).

So it seems that this Grand Rapids SkyWalk may still grow in the future.  In fact the city of Grand Rapids as recently as 1/20/2010 in a Economic Development Corporate meeting was asking about viability of a skywalk at the Old Post Office, which it was told that a Skywalk is too expensive and not a part of the plan for the building (here is the link to the notes from that meeting).  But it goes to show that is still on the minds of city leaders and developers.

There  is a photographic slideshow of the Grand Rapids SkyWalk through Flickr.

Please share your SkyWalk stories and thoughts in the comments.  Does Grand Rapids even need a SkyWalk?  How did this all get started in Grand Rapids?

An Anthropologie Study on Grand Rapids Retail Environment

I am somewhat surprised that there isn’t more of a hub-bub surrounding the recent news that Anthropologie, a trendy & popular woman’s apparel, accessories, and home decor retailer, owned by Urban Outfitters is moving to Breton Village in Fall 2011.  The community has always been striving for well known brand names to move into the area, and Grand Rapids is heading in the right direction  look at some of the other current “cool” tenants of Grand Rapids like the Apple Store, and The North Face (which is opening up next weekend in Woodlawn Mall).

Well part of the reason people still do not think Grand Rapids has arrived could be  because we do not have a Trader Joe’s. (though it shouldn’t be) See examples here – read the comments as well 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.
Not to mention Facebook Groups – by the way Trader Joe fans get your act together and consolidate, no wonder why Trade Joe’s doesn’t want a store here, look at this mess below:

So why is it thought that Grand Rapids still hasn’t arrived yet?  The real reason (my hypothesis) is that these stores are not in downtown Grand Rapids.  They are on the outskirts of town, or in the mall (which in many GR proponent view as evil).  Right now when people talk or brag about Grand Rapids they start with downtown, which basically has everything, except for a strong retail shopping presence.  When people talk about other downtown areas that they are found of retail shopping usually comes up, and more often than not the talk leads to international brand name stores, trendy boutiques, and the like.  Perhaps the DeVos family can kick off this initiative as well, after all Pamela DeVos (wife to Dan) is the designer and president of the Pamella Roland brand of designer womans clothes.

So what do you  all think would these type of stores be better off in downtown Grand Rapids and would they be supported and thrive with consumer spending?  Or is the Grand Rapids downtown just not have enough residents and visitors to support a well known retail store yet?

For my other post on Grand Rapids “arriving” click here.

Update:  So did WOOD TV 8 read my blog and get a story idea – click here for text and video .  Very cool of A.K. Rikk’s to use ArtPrize as an opportunity to explore (and exploit the crowds) the feasibility of opening up one of their stores downtown.  The short term leases sound like a great idea, and a good way for a retailer and the city to find a perfect match.  Why wouldn’t the city and property owners be more open to this concept.

S Nightclub & Bosgraaf Family – Trust Me, It All Makes Sense

In early July 2010, Holland’s “premier” nightclub S Nightclub and Sol Lounge closed down (by the way the mlive article gives a much better picture than the Holland Sentinel article).  Bummer right?  So reading the articles about the closure I started noticing some interesting aspects, which I want to explore more, so here comes the shovel because I am about to dig.  Ready?

S Nighclub & Sol Lounge opened in October 2008 was created and owned by Brett Flipse, left, and Brett Flipse Jr. (lovely image available courtesy of the Holland Sentinel).  Brett Flipse is also the former owner of the Ottawa Beach General Store.  He owned the general store for 12 years until the bank foreclosed upon the property in 2009.  I am going to go out on a limb and venture to say that perhaps the reason the Flipse lost the General Store (read about the controversy here & here & here) was because of his $2.4 million investment into the S Nightclub.  What a horrible position to be in leveraging one business to fund a new business and then being left with neither a mere two years later is quite a shame.  I won’t go into speculation on the validity of having a nightclub in Holland, especially in a less than ideal location of Lakewood Avenue (along Lake Macatawa or downtown might have helped out the business more) but I do wonder about the due diligence of this project.

Anyways Flipse gave up ownership of the nightclub back in late 2009 because of financial difficulties, and ended up giving the nightclub to the owner of the building who is Scott Bosgraaf.  According to the former general manager of the nightclub “Scott never wanted to operate the nightclub. He wanted to be a landlord. Instead of closing down, he wanted to continue operating to make sure the liquor license would stay, all the operational  audio-visual equipment would stay …now he can sell it as a nightclub.” According to the Mlive article, they seem pretty confident that someone will buy the nightclub and keep it running. Bosgraaf’s approach makes sense, pool everything together and sell it as a package, and by getting out of the day to day management of the club, he is sticking with what he know and what he does well.  Researching more into Scott Bosgraaf, it seems like he does a lot of things well.

Scott Bosgraaf has the following “projects” and business under his control:

Impressive no?  Well Scott is only one of 4 siblings who were born to Ted & Pat Bosgraaf, and if you start pulling back the peel on the Bosgraaf name, you will find a whole family of business owners.  Luckily a lot of light is shed upon this subject by visiting the Bosgraaf Homes website, where Amy (Bosgraaf) Alderink wrote up a family history  which goes a little something like this.  It all started with Ted and Jack Bosgraaf, who were brothers.  Ted was married to Pat, and they had four children – Mike, Brian, Scott, and Amy.  Ted and Jack were originally sod farmers who got their way into creating communities, such as Shady Pines in Allegan County, by converting their existing sod farms.  They built upon their experience to create Summergreen in Hudsonville, Spring Lane development in Holland, and in Grand Haven they created Sandpiper and redeveloped the Story and Clark Piano Factory, all under the Bosgraaf Sales and Leasing.  Eventually the brothers split and Ted started Bosgraaf Homes with his son Brian.  Soon the whole family was working in some capacity in Bosgraaf Homes.  Right now Bosgraaf homes is owned by Amy and Mike who bought out their father Ted for the business.  Alright so now we have some more Bosgraaf names we need to sort out.

Amy (Bosgraaf) Alderink has her hands in the following:

Then there is Mike Bosgraaf who along with Amy is a co-owner of Bosgraaf Homes.  Mike is married now divorced to Veronica, who is the entrepreneur behind Pure Bars (blog, twitter, facebook) company by creating vegan health bars for her vegetarian daughter.  More stories about her venture here & here.

Lastly, that leaves us with Brian Bosgraaf who owns Cottage Home (facebook & twitter), a custom home builder focused on building million dollar homes on Lake Michigan (feel free to drool over here), and additionally he also owns DwellTech (facebook & twitter), which is an home & commercial energy auditing company based in Holland.  He also worked for ICCF in the past as well.

Yes the Bosgraaf family has many layers as you can see here, maybe one of these days I will tackle the other famous Lakeshore families such as the DeVos or the Princes.  But you guys have probably have heard enough about them.

So are you guys going to miss S Nightclub?  Anyone ever been – thoughts?  Any more Bosgraaf businesses that I missed?

Similar Logos?

It must have been perfect timing.  Driving on the highway I came along side a Jonathan Stevens Mattress truck, and thought nothing of it, until I drove past an Allen Edwin Homes Billboard, and that is when I began to scratch my head.

The Three Word Company Name with the Three Color Row Square logo.  Take a look for yourself (and if you open up both company links in your browser look at their URL icons – Three Color Row Square.)

If you do have a long company name you are somewhat limited with what you can do with your logo, because you do not want it stretching across the whole letterhead, truck or billboard.

Anyone else have any examples of the Three Word Company Name with the Three Color Row Square logo look?

See my previous post about Allen Edwin Homes here.

Showcasing Your Company

This is an image of Lamar Construction’s corporate headquarters in Hudsonville.  You can easily view this on the east side of I-196 just south of the Hudsonville exit.   According to Lamar’s website the building features a “52 ft. x 100 ft. structural steel cantilever–one of the largest of its kind in the United States.”  What I like about this building is the statement that it makes to everyone who looks at this building.  Lamar designed their headquarters with the mind-set that “We are a construction company, we better prove it with this building”.  They could have easily just built the typical rectangular building which would have served them well, but instead they took this as an opportunity to showcase their company’s skill in construction.  They showcased their company’s talent by building a structure that seemingly only an expert in the industry would build.  Appearances are important, and they do play a role in the consumer’s mind, there needs to be alignment between the company, their product, and their appearance, it is the whole brand experience.

It is no different then if you walk into an advertising agency, you expect to see their work displayed, as a visitor you want to experience their brand.  Or if you were to step foot into one of the office furniture manufacturers you expect their best and newest furniture in the front lobby and throughout their building.  It would be a total disconnect for you if you had to sit down on a fold up chair in the lobby, and the company would have failed in showcasing itself.  It is part of the consumer experience to make sure that every message or image received from the company and fits together.  What are some other examples of companies who have their brand, products and appearance aligned in order to showcase themselves?

How many of you would take that corner office at the end of the cantilever at Lamar?