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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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Rockford Ambulance paramedic wins award 

Kevin Nawrot, a paramedic/FTO with Rockford Ambulance, was named the 2015 Michigan EMS Practitioner of the Year.

Kevin Nawrot, a paramedic/FTO with Rockford Ambulance, was named the 2015 Michigan EMS Practitioner of the Year.

The Michigan EMS Practitioners Association has named Kevin Nawrot, a paramedic/FTO with Rockford Ambulance, the 2015 Michigan EMS Practitioner of the Year.

“Kevin has quickly climbed the ranks to become Lead FTO and has proven to be a great role model to everyone that comes into contact with him,” said Matt McConnon, Operations Manager at Rockford Ambulance.

While Nawrot has a record of achievements during his tenure at Rockford, he is most notably known from a call that came in May 2014, when Nawrot was the lead provider and witnessed a cardiac arrest. He and his team worked on the pulseless patient for over 55 minutes.  Once at the hospital, the patient regained pulses and was treated by the hospital staff.  The patient was able to make a great recovery and was discharged home with minimal deficits.

“To walk out of the hospital after 55 minutes is very unusual,” reported Dr. Todd Chassee during a media interview in May 2014. Chasse had cared for the patient at the hospital.  “Without their efforts, I don’t think the patient would be here today.”

Rockford Ambulance has a cardiac arrest survival rate of 50 percent, higher than the national average of 33 percent.

The EMS Practitioner of the Year award recognizes an individual for his/her excellence and outstanding achievement that they have accomplished in the emergency medical services. Qualifications for the award include:

Hold a current license either as a Medical First Responder, EMT, Specialist, Paramedic, or Instructor-Coordinator

Licensed for a minimum of two years in the State of Michigan

Continually promote the profession of EMS through innovation and leadership

High personal integrity and character on and off the job.

The Michigan EMS Practitioners Association is the state’s largest professional association for licensed EMTs.

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Beware of scam artists offering home or yard services


BUS-BBB-logo-blueFrom the Better Business Bureau

BBB is beginning to receive calls regarding individuals going door-to-door offering a variety of home or yard improvement services at a supposed discounted rate. The Better Business Bureau serving Western Michigan wants to remind homeowners to beware of scam artists and untrustworthy contractors.

Your BBB heard from a West Michigan consumer today who informed our office that he received unsolicited visitors this morning. Two men pulled up to his home in a small, old model unmarked white pick-up. One man knocked on the door and provided his name, but no company name. He said he was working on a neighbor’s house and noticed that bricks had fallen off the chimney. He said he would be able to fix it, plus add a cap to the chimney. The resident stated he would first want to check out his business with the BBB. The man stated he would be able to do it right then. The consumer asked for a business card; however, the man did not provide one and left.

This is a typical scenario; itinerant workers often show up unannounced and offer to re-surface parking lots or driveways, perform roof repair, painting services, brick work, tree trimming or cutting, or other home improvement jobs. Typically, these fly by night companies offer to do the job with leftover materials from a previous job, use high pressure tactics and trick you into thinking they offer a discount price. They have no physical location in the area and use poor quality materials. They do not pay local taxes and take discretionary income that could be better spent on local businesses.

Often these companies claim their prices are lower than any local bid, but a little checking around may prove otherwise. If they do offer you the lowest price, don’t assume it to be the best deal. Keep in mind that there is a lot more to a purchase than the price. No matter how good the price, should you do business with a company that will not be here tomorrow to hear your concerns or honor a warranty?

The BBB’s best advice is to check out all solicitations at the Better Business Bureau before you do business with anyone. Never pay upfront and never sign a contract without reading and understanding it.

Before you deal with a company you don’t know, or are unsure of:

1. Call the BBB for a report on the company, BEFORE opening your wallet. Phones are open 24 hours at 616-774-8236 or 1-800-684-3222 and reports are available online at www.westernmichigan.bbb.org. Get some answers before you do something as personal as opening your wallet to a stranger!

2. Verify that any contractor you are considering doing business with is properly licensed, bonded and insured and registered at the BBB.

3. Obtain bids from several companies. Compare apples to apples. Review the bids and remember the lowest bid is not always the best price.

4. Call the BBB and comparison shop with local, well known, reputable companies. The BBB can provide a list of industry specific businesses that are accredited by the BBB.

5. Don’t fall prey to high pressure tactics such as “this is the only chance you’ll have” or “by tomorrow the extra materials will be gone,” or “I’m only in this area today.” A legitimate company will be here when you’re ready to buy and they will be more than willing to allow you time to check them out. If they don’t, let that be a warning sign.

Before you do business with a company you don’t know, or are unsure of, pay for anything, or sign a contract, call the Better Business Bureau; that’s what we’re here for.

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