Ford Motor Company, Google, Quicken Loans among honorees as Eastern Michigan University business students name Michigan’s Businesses of the Year at annual awards luncheon

Other winners include Plante Moran, Bearclaw Coffee, Brogan & Partners, AccelerateKID and Food Gatherers

by Geoff Larcom, Published March 18, 2016

YPSILANTI – Ford Motor Company, Google and Quicken Loans were among the winners this afternoon as students in Eastern Michigan University’s College of Business named their choices for the best businesses in Michigan during the annual Business of the Year Award Luncheon.

Bernie Swartout (right) of Ford Motor Company accepts the award from EMU student Tracy Lindon for top honors in human resources. Ford also won in the supply chain category.

The students evaluated numerous businesses, and selected 27 finalists across nine categories for the event, attended by about 300 people Friday at the EMU Student Center.

“Selecting the finalists and winners helps students develop important analytical skills,” said Michael Tidwell, dean of EMU’s College of Business. “The students evaluate them based on business strategy, financial performance and other key success factors.”

 The nine award categories, winners and other nominees include:

  • Accounting: Winner: Plante Moran. Other nominees: Doeren Mayhew, Rehmann Group.
  • Alumni-Owned Businesses: Winner: Bearclaw Coffee. Other nominees: Article One, Chelsea Milling Company (Jiffy Mix)
  • Financial Services: Winner: Quicken Loans. Other nominees: Bank of Ann Arbor, United Shore.
  • Human Resources: Winner: Ford Motor Company. Other nominees: Kellogg’s, Stryker.
  • Information Systems: Winner: Google. Other nominees: Altair, Compuware.
  • Marketing: Winner: Brogan & Partners. Other nominees: Doner, The Mars Agency.
  • Social Enterprises: Winner: Food Gatherers. Other nominees: Growing Hope, SOS Community Services.
  • Supply Chain: Winner: Ford Motor Company. Other nominees: IDV Solutions, Ryder.
  • Start-Up: Winner: AccelerateKID. Other nominees: Banza, ContentOro.

The event featured an Academy Awards-style format, with the students announcing each category with its three finalists and opening an envelope to announce the winner.

Aleksandra Efimova, an EMU alumna and founder and CEO of Russian Pointe, recalled how she began her now worldwide business while a student at Eastern.

Following the announcement, a representative of the winning company accepted the award, offering brief remarks and some business advice. Suggestions included to be humble, be bold and to try to make yourself indispensable each day of work.

“This is a unique opportunity for our students,” Tidwell said. “Representatives from businesses of all sizes attended the event.”

Aleksandra Efimova, an EMU alumna and founder and CEO of Russian Pointe, served as the keynote speaker. Russian Pointe is a Chicago-based manufacturer and worldwide seller of ballet shoes and other dance products. Efimova, a Russian-American, graduated from art school at Russia’s State Hermitage Museum in 1993, before founding Russian Pointe five years later during her days at Eastern.

She spoke of how she created her business while a student at Eastern. She recalled a student business conference where she asked a fellow student what the word "entrepreneur" meant, and noted the days where she'd eat at Meijer and weigh the food to ensure the lowest cost. Out of those lean first days she built a worldwide business.

Efimova recalled one of her favorite posters, one of a ship at sea, that epitomizes her approach to life and career. "A ship in a harbor is safe, but that's not what ships are built for," the poster reads. 

The free event was hosted by the College of Business Dean's Board of Student Advisers, and was made possible by sponsors such as Ford Motor Company, Russell Video and Rehmann. This is the third year that the student board has hosted the event.

About Eastern Michigan University

Founded in 1849, Eastern is the second oldest university in Michigan. It currently serves 22,000 students pursuing undergraduate, graduate, specialist, doctoral and certificate degrees in the arts, sciences and professions. In all, more than 300 majors, minors and concentrations are delivered through the University's Colleges of Arts and Sciences; Business; Education; Health and Human Services; Technology, and its graduate school. EMU is regularly recognized by national publications for its excellence, diversity, and commitment to applied education. For more information about Eastern Michigan University, visit the University's website.


Geoff Larcom


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