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Cedar Springs Brewing Company update

Post photo by J. Reed.

Post photo by J. Reed.

The work at Cedar Springs Brewing Company, at the corner of N. Main and W. Maple Streets, is humming along. Signage on the north side of the building went up in the last week. What many people want to know is, when will they open?

“We’re hoping to have a “sneak peek” opening for Red Flannel with a Grand Opening to be announced shortly thereafter,” said David Ringler, of Cedar Springs Brewing Compnay. “We’re targeting mid-October.”

He said the goal is to have at least one or two beers for people to sample on Red Flannel Day, and a couple of food items. He noted that they are also doing a beer for the Red Flannel Festival’s Grand Lodge.

The business will seat 130 inside, and 90 outside in their biergarten.

They recently introduced details of their mug club. Visit www.csbrew.com for more info, and watch their Facebook page for more updates.

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ChoiceOne Bank supports Cherry Health with $50,000 Donation

Cherry Health Foundation and Cedar Springs Superintendent accept donation check from ChoiceOne Bank. Left to right: Chris Shea, CEO Cherry Health; Sharon Barton, Director of Development Cherry Health; Tasha Blackmon, Chief Clinic Operations Officer Cherry Health; Patricia Brown, Regional Manager ChoiceOne Bank; Jim Bosserd, CEO ChoiceOne Bank; Denise Gates, Cedar Springs Manager ChoiceOne Bank; Laura VanDuyn, Ed.D., Cedar Springs Schools Superintendent.

Cherry Health Foundation and Cedar Springs Superintendent accept donation check from ChoiceOne Bank. Left to right: Chris Shea, CEO Cherry Health; Sharon Barton, Director of Development Cherry Health; Tasha Blackmon, Chief Clinic Operations Officer Cherry Health; Patricia Brown, Regional Manager ChoiceOne Bank; Jim Bosserd, CEO ChoiceOne Bank; Denise Gates, Cedar Springs Manager ChoiceOne Bank; Laura VanDuyn, Ed.D., Cedar Springs Schools Superintendent.

ChoiceOne Bank is providing a donation totaling $50,000 over two years to Cherry Health, an independent nonprofit and comprehensive primary health care provider. Jim Bosserd, Chief Executive Officer of ChoiceOne Bank, said the money is targeted to fund an overall project totaling $1.17 million, and will go toward two projects in Cedar Springs and Grand Rapids and.

“As the local community bank, it’s important for us to support our families and our communities,” said Bosserd. “Cherry Health provides services to all individuals, regardless of their ability to pay. A sliding fee payment scale based on income and family size is available to those with no insurance. Healthy families make for healthy communities. That’s important to us at ChoiceOne Bank.”

The projects in Cedar Springs and Grand Rapids and will develop facilities to expand services at these two sites.

In the Red Hawk Building in Cedar Springs, services are provided to all 3,500 students and their siblings throughout the district ages 3 to 21. The facility offers a wide range of services from medical to behavioral, which allows for accessible care when and where students need it. Students and families are currently being served at the health center through the summer and into the 2015-2016 school year.

Innovation Central High School in Grand Rapids will move its medical facility from City High Middle School to Innovation Central, which serves approximately 800 students in Grand Rapids. The health center will care for all students ages 10 through 21.


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Coldbreak Brewing coming to town


Area residents who like to make their own craft beer will no longer have to drive to Grand Rapids for supplies. Coldbreak Brewing, a home brewing business currently located in Marne, will be moving into 81 N. Main, the former home of Liquor Hut.

The Cedar Springs Brewing Company bought the building earlier this summer, and was looking for a retail tenant that would complement the brewery.

“We are pretty excited about coming to Cedar Springs,” said Chris Musil, who is co-owner of Coldbreak Brewing, with founder Boyd Culver. “There are a lot of good things happening in Cedar, and it will be exciting to be right next to the brewery.”

He noted that a big draw to moving here is that northern Kent County is an untapped market in the home brewing business. “It’s about 25 miles to the closest store, and that’s in Grand Rapids,” he said.

Coldbreak Brewing will feature a large variety of grain, hops, yeast, and equipment, and will focus on classes ranging from introductory brewing to all-grain, as well as wine, cider and many other brewing related topics. They have been manufacturing quality home brewing and dispensing equipment since 2005.

Musil said they will begin moving some of their manufacturing equipment into the store in the next couple of weeks, and will open the store front by the beginning of October, in time for the Red Flannel Festival.

Visit their website at www.coldbreakbrewing.com.

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Advance Auto Parts


Construction is nearing completion on the Advance Auto Parts store on 17 Mile Road. The auto parts store, located on the lot where the Family Fare gas station used to be, is looking to open in late September, according to Laurie Stacy, of Advance Auto’s media relations department.

Employees of CarQuest, located at 70 N. Main, in Cedar Springs, will be moving into the Advance Auto Parts store. Advance Auto acquired CarQuest in January 2014. “We are excited that customers will be able to work with the same team they are used to working with,” said Stacy.

She said the stores usually have 10-12 employees, but it’s based on the size of the store. More info will be coming closer to the date of the opening.

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ASK SCORE: Customer service


Build customer loyalty by exceeding expectations


So much lip service has been paid to customer service that it’s sounding like a tired cliche these days. In today’s business world, it is not enough to simply say that the customer comes first. Customers know the difference between mediocre service, good service and exceptional service. Without question, they will make their decisions about where to buy accordingly. Your response to the call for exceptional service must be more than good intentions and excuses pinned on being a small business. Here are some perspectives on building customer loyalty.

• Hire the best possible staff that your budget allows. Your sales and service staff members are on the front line, whether physically or on the phone. Are they trained and do they receive ongoing training? Are they knowledgeable about the products they represent? Are they empowered to judiciously waive policies without consulting you, when it can be done ethically and without taking an unwarranted  toll on your revenue picture? Maintaining a competent, trained staff costs money. If that gives you heartburn, consider the revenue forgone when indifferent and incompetent employees cause you to lose customers.

• Reward  your best customers. If you can offer your best customers better prices on frequent purchases, an up-front price break on their next project with you, or a discount for their prompt cash payment, you will communicate your awareness that they are important to the success of your business.  Customer reward programs are easy and cost-effective to implement once you know what your customers value.

• Offer referrals. Who do you know who might want to do business with your customers? When it’s appropriate, help your loyal customers by passing along leads you come across that can improve either their business or personal lives.

Exceptional service entails treating a customer’s problems as if they were your own-even if it costs you more money. Occasionally you may even have the opportunity to fix a problem caused by a customer’s use of one of your competitors’ products or services. And it is an opportunity: to switch their allegiance.

Exceeding expectations is the icing on the cake of customer satisfaction-knowing what your customers expect you to provide and then adding another layer of value. What can you do today to create the satisfied customers of tomorrow?

Through surveys, comment cards, and simply talking with your customers, you can learn what considerations make the biggest impression on your best customers.

To learn more about ways to meet and exceed customer expectations, contact SCORE Grand Rapids at (616) 771-0305 and talk to one of our counselors who will provide free and confidential business counseling. Call 1-616/771-0305 to talk to a SCORE counselor, or find a counselor online at www.scoregr.org.


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Women’s group donates to NKCS 

Pictured (L to R): Sharon Stiansen, Linda Southwick, Kathy Florentine, Claire Guisfredi, Taryn Chatel.

Pictured (L to R): Sharon Stiansen, Linda Southwick, Kathy Florentine, Claire Guisfredi, Taryn Chatel.

Women Who Care Kent County, a local philanthropy group, donated $11,900 to North Kent Community Services on June 25. Kathy Florentine and Sharon Stiansen, founders of the group, toured NKCS and presented the generous gift.

NKCS was selected as this quarter’s recipient of funding from Women Who Care Kent County, a group of 100-plus women who collectively pool their money to make one large donation to a nonprofit group in our community. Three charities were given the opportunity to make a pitch at the June 4 event at Blythefield Country Club; afterword each woman in attendance votes and writes a $100 check to the charity that garnered the most votes.

“This gift is significant for North Kent Community Services,” said Executive Director Claire Guisfredi. “The donated money will be a huge help as we gear up for our next round of educational programming this fall. We are trying to move people out of poverty and Women Who Care Kent County is helping us do that.”

North Kent Community Services is the largest food pantry in northern Kent County, serving families and individuals from 5 Mile to 22 Mile Roads and east and west to the county lines. They provide food, clothing, Senior Meals on Wheels, tax preparation and more to those in need. The Thrive Empowerment Program, launched in September, equips women in the area to empower themselves by advancing their education, starting a business or finding livable wage employment.

Since its founding in 2013, Women Who Care Kent County has raised more than $95,000 for local nonprofit organizations. “It’s amazing to see the impact 100 women can make in just one hour,” said Florentine. “All women in Kent County are invited to join and be a part of this incredible group.”

The next gathering is Thursday, September 3 at Blythefield Country Club. For more information, visit their Facebook page by searching Women Who Care Kent County.

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Online moped parts dealer generating complaints to BBB

Better Business Bureau Serving Western Michigan (BBB) is issuing an alert about 1977 Mopeds, LLC, a Kalamazoo-based online moped parts business. 1977 Mopeds LLC has an “F” grade with BBB, the lowest possible.

1977 Mopeds, LLC, which also operates as Dellorto Direct, has generated 10 complaints and 80 inquiries in the past 6 months. Complaints have been received from 18 states in the past 3 years.

Complaints primarily concern delays in shipment and delivery of goods. Consumers also report difficulty in reaching the company to check on the status of an order or refund.

While the company has responded to some complaints, they have failed to resolve the underlying cause and pattern of complaints. At this time, BBB files contain seven unanswered complaints.

“BBB is a non-profit organization that works with businesses and consumers to build a trustworthy marketplace,” said Phil Catlett, BBB President and CEO. “Two keys to building trust are delivering what you promise, and being responsive to customer concerns. “

BBB offers the following tips when buying merchandise online:

*Research the business and owners carefully before paying any fees. Check the company’s BBB Business Review at BBB.org or by calling 616-774-8236.

*Ask for references and contact them.

*Read all terms and conditions carefully before completing a purchase. Make sure to read and understand all warranty information. Know your options in the event you receive an item that was not as advertised.

*Pay by credit card whenever possible in case you need to dispute the purchase.

If consumers have a complaint against this company, they are advised to file a complaint with BBB serving Western Michigan and file a dispute with their credit card company.

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Brewing Company buys Liquor Hut building

Post photo by J. Reed

Post photo by J. Reed

By Judy Reed

The Cedar Springs Brewing Company is taking shape at the southwest corner of Main and Maple Streets, and they now also own the building next door, formerly the home of Liquor Hut.

According to David Ringler, construction is on schedule—the structural masonry is complete and the steel framing is in place this week. “It’s been fun over the past couple of weeks to watch all the activity,” he said. “We should be seeing the walls and complete enclosure shortly and the flooring is scheduled for early July, followed by the start of equipment installation.”

Ringler said their brewhouse is custom designed and currently in fabrication locally in Belding, by Digital Fabrication, in partnership with Psycho Brew. “This is their first large system, but we wanted to work locally if possible, rather than commissioning a system from elsewhere,” he explained.

The company closed on the deal to purchase the neighboring building at 81 N. Main a few weeks ago. Ringler said they had offered to buy the building from Walker Liqours six months ago, but could not come to an agreement. About six weeks ago, those discussions started again.

Walker Liquors maintained their retail package liquor license, but the store is permanently closed. “They are still in the process of removing some of their equipment this week and we will begin further clean up of the building in the coming weeks,” said Ringler. “We don’t have any firm plans in place for the building, as our priority is getting the brewery and restaurant open, but we are seeking a retail tenant for the front space that will complement our project.”

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SCORE: A Quick self-assessment of your business


The beginning of the year is always a great time to pause and ask yourself, “How is my company doing?”  Very often we as business owners are so busy solving day-to-day issues and running the business that we don’t take time to reflect on “Is my business performing the way I want it to?”

The following Self-Assessment can be completed in less than 5 minutes.  If you answer “No” or “I’m not sure” to any of these 11 issues, it may be time to sit down with a SCORE Counselor for a free and confidential session.

SCORE can ask the additional questions that can help identify the improvement opportunities for your firm.  We can then guide you in developing an action plan.

Most of our initial sessions last less than an hour so what do you have to lose besides some problem spots in your business?


Is your firm as profitable as you think it should be?

What are the trends of your profitability over the past 3 years?

In your opinion, why are you not meeting your profit expectations?

Is your firm in a solid position with your cash flow?


What makes your product/service better than your competition?

What is really important to your customers when they consider your product or service?

Are you satisfied with your market share compared to your competition?

Do you have a good handle on your sales trends over the last three years?

Customer Service:

What do your customers say and think about your overall customer service?

How many customers do you lose annually due to service issues?

What portion of your customer’s purchases come from your company?

Your Chamber of Commerce can connect you with a SCORE representative for a free and confidential session to help you improve and grow your business or contact Score at 616 771-0305.

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Complaints Over Bad Auto Parts


Quality Used Transmissions

From the Better Business Bureau

Quality Used Transmissions, a company that claims to operate in a Grand Rapids, MI office building, appears to be part of a multistate auto parts business that has generated hundreds of Better Business Bureau (BBB) complaints nationwide.

BBB advises caution to consumers considering doing business with Quality Used Transmissions, which lists an address at 2525 East Paris Avenue, SE, Suite 100. The building management office told BBB that Quality Used Transmissions never had offices there.

Consumers report similar complaints against all of the businesses, alleging they shipped wrong or broken engines or transmissions, delayed or refused to give refunds, failed to honor warranties and seemed intentionally to frustrate and confuse customers who called with problems. Two weeks ago, BBB serving Western Michigan contacted the business asking it to respond to several questions about its operations and complaint activity. The BBB has not received a response.

The business, under Engine Shopper and its various names, has an «F» grade with BBB, the lowest possible. Customers have filed about 400 complaints against the companies.

Phil Catlett, BBB President and CEO, said Quality Used Transmissions and related businesses don’t deserve the trust of consumers. “People are telling us they are spending hundreds or thousands of dollars for what turns out, in many cases, to be junk,” Catlett said. “These consumers depend on their cars to get them to work, school, the supermarket or doctor’s office. They deserve better.”

BBB has been unable to determine the owners or top managers of the company, but several consumers report dealing with a John Thompson. BBB believes that name is likely a pseudonym.

The company was registered with the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs as Quality Used Transmissions LLC, on June 4, 2012. The only organizer listed for the company was Robert J. deJong, an attorney in Milwaukee. The name of deJong is also on registration paperwork for several related companies. DeJong is listed as an organizer with Quality Used Engines in Kansas, Southwest Engines in Wisconsin and SW Transmissions in Missouri.

Quality Used Transmissions appears to be tied to a company in Cudahy, WI, called Engine Shopper or Engine and Transmission World. The Wisconsin location appears to be the hub of a group of companies claiming to operate in Michigan, Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma. In addition to the Wisconsin and Michigan businesses, related companies include SW Transmissions or Southwest Transmissions of Creve Coeur, MO; Quality Used Engines of Leawood, KS; and Southwest Engines or SW Engines of Tulsa, OK

In addition to the similarities in state registration information, much of the information on the companies’ websites is strikingly similar. All of the websites list virtually identical warranty information and very similar information on the sites’ Frequently Asked Questions page. Most of the sites include an identical contact email and phone number.

Wisconsin BBB issued an alert on Engine and Transmission World in 2011. At that time, BBB had received complaints from 40 states.

Wisconsin BBB’s business review on the company said the company “has failed to correct the underlying reason for complaints.”

Consumers say their dealings with the companies have left them angry and frustrated.

A woman from Delta, Pennsylvania states in her complaint against Quality Used Transmission, “I was sent a 4 cylinder transmission instead of a 6 cylinder transmission. They picked up wrong one and now won’t respond or refund me.”

“They sent me a bad engine and no one will answer the phone,” a Carrollton, Tex., consumer said in a complaint against Southwest Engines.

“They have taken $1,840 from me stating this was a complete and running engine which it is definitely not,” a consumer from Pembroke, N.C., said of Engine Shopper.

A man from Annandale, Va., said he paid Quality Used Engines more than $3,400 for a 2006 Dodge Magnum engine, but instead received a damaged engine for a Dodge 1500 Ram truck.

A couple from St. Clair, Missouri., paid $2,000 to Engine and Transmission World for what was advertised as a working engine. They said the company instead shipped an engine that was inoperable. The wife said company representatives ridiculed them when they phoned the business for help. “Everything was a big joke,” she said. They ultimately were able to recover most of their money, but only after contacting BBB, the Wisconsin attorney general’s office, the local police department in Cudahy and filing a lawsuit in federal court.

Despite numerous recent attempts to obtain answers to questions from the business, BBB has been unable to obtain a response.

BBB offers the following tips when buying merchandise online:

Research the business and owners carefully before signing a contract or paying any money. Check the company’s BBB Business Review at www.bbb.org or by calling 616-774-8236.

Ask for references and contact them.

Read all terms and conditions carefully before completing a purchase. Make sure to read and understand all warranty information. Know your options in the event you receive an item that was not as advertised.

Pay by credit card whenever possible in case you need to challenge the payment.

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