Valentine, Gage & Others Honored by Mayor’s Business Council (video)

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(Crystal A. Proxmire, March 2, 2015)

Go Comedy was full of community spirit as Ferndale Mayor Dave Coulter presented the 2014 Mayor’s Business Council Awards on Feb. 26. The Council focuses on giving business owners and managers an opportunity to network with each other and city administrators in hopes of facilitating growth.

Jeff Denha of Brass Aluminum Forging was honored with Project of the Year for the renovation of 965 Wanda. This was the largest vacant industrial site in the city, and Denha expanded his business into it, as well as invited Valentine Distilling into the space. Mayor Coulter introduced him, stating “a gentleman by the name of Jeff Denha who saw that old, empty building, Rundown, obsolete building, and saw something in it that nobody else saw. And he is in the process of transforming that property.”  The facility is in addition to their current manufacturing facility, where they make firearms and automotive parts, as well  as filling other industrial metal needs.

Denha himself said “The best way I could explain 965 Wanda is you take a city government, and a local business enterprise, you work together as a team, and you produce a good economy. And that’s 965 Wanda.”

chazzano game adFor a tour of 965 Wanda near the beginning of its transformation check out http://oaklandcounty115.com/2014/04/05/forging-ahead-family-business-reviving-large-industrial-site/

Dan Finkiewicz, Chairperson and President of Gage Products Company was honored as Executive of the year. Gage has been in Ferndale for almost 80 years. “This is a company that is really survived and thrived by being innovative and by being creative. When I say thrived, this is now a global company. They have plants in Mexico, and Brazil, The UK, but they call Ferndale their global headquarters and we are excited about that,” Mayor Coulter said. Coulter also recognized Finkiewicz’s wife Virgina for her role in the family-run business. Gage’s mission is “to be the world’s preferred supplier of chemical related products and processes,” according to their website. They are a supplier of high performance solvent blends, custom test blends, calibration sidebar016growfluids, paint line cleaning programs and specialty product solutions for a variety of paint related applications.

Learn more about Gage Products Company.

Progressive Metals is a woman-owned and operated manufacturing company that has managed to grow in an era when manufacturing has been on the decline. “Progressive has managed to be a leader in their field. They have state and federal contracts cause of the quality of work they do,” said Colter. Julie and Eric Borman have worked hard to change with the times, and their success CFSEM-123-OaklandCounty115-digital-ad_v2shows. That’s why they were chosen as the 2014 Company of the Year.

Learn more about Progressive Metal Manufacturing Company.

Valentine Distillery’s founder Rifino Valentine received the 2014 Entrepreneur of the Year Award. Valentine produces award winning vodka, whiskey and gin. “When we started this, around 2010, there were probably only a dozen micro-distilleries around the country. So this was a brand new concept. We were getting shot down by every city we would talk to,” Valentine said. “Ferndale had the foresight or probably more just the openness, the willingness to try new things.”

Now there are a dozen micro-distilleries in SE Michigan alone. “What Ferndale did his lead to an all new industry in the state. Michigan is one of the leaders now in the country for micro Candlewickshop_May2014distilleries, and it started here as far as I am concerned,” Valentine said.

Mayor Coulter gave the award, stating “Rufino has grown his business by doing things the right way. … Locally sourcing whenever he can, making an absolutely outstanding, excellent product, and the quality of his product, And the quality of his craftsmanship, is, I think, what made Valentine distillery a growing company.

Learn more about Valentine Distilling Company.

The Mayor’s Business Council began in late 2012 when industrial vacancy in Ferndale was at over 25%. Now, thanks in part to a strong emphasis on economic development and initiatives like the Mayor’s Business Council, rates are down below 5%.

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