Mendelson's, Mama Mia's garner enhancement awards
Jack Roush started an engine-building operation in Livonia 40 years ago to compete in auto racing.
Over his hall-of-fame career in the sport, his teams won 7 championships in auto racing's leading circuits, but his company's racing innovations expanded into other breakthroughs for all kinds of vehicles.
The company's latest honor is this year's selection as the Livonia Chamber of Commerce's Outstanding Large Business of the Year.
The Chamber also announced that Embassy Title Agency is the 2016 Outstanding Small Business of the Year; Mendelson's Professional Building and Mama Mia's Restaurantwill earn Community Enhancement Awards; and Emily Bauman from AdviCoach of Michigan is the chamber's ambassador of the year. All will be honored at the 12th annual Leadership and Award Celebration to be held at Laurel Manor on Thursday, Feb. 11.
"The companies each have a compelling story of perseverance and growth, while being an important part of the Livonia community," said Chamber President Dan West.
Roush operates 28 facilities in southeast Michigan, others facilities and testing centers around the world, and collectively employs 4,300. Steve Sciatto, the company's executive vice president and long-time Livonia resident, said the company is looking to hire more people as Roush is in need of welders, fabricators, designers, technicians and engineers.
"What you see from Roush is just the tip of the iceberg," said Sciatto, who has worked at Roush for 34 years. "Not many people realize how much more we do below the surface. We take a customer's idea and other technologies, and integrate them into a real product."
Roush has long supported education initiatives in Livonia, including the Livonia Robotics Team. The company's extraordinary efforts to hire more than 200 military veterans over the last two years earned Roush the 2015 large business supplier of the year from Disabled American Veterans.
"I give 100% of myself to all the people we help," McCarty said. "I seem to have an ability to bring out the best in people to grow our company. Our foundation has always been that we should help people the best we can."
McCarty was forced into entrepreneurship in 2005 when she suddenly lost her office manager job at a title company that folded. She had no personal savings but had a book of business that inspired her to start her own operation. With an infectious energy highlighted her favorite catch phrase: "Love baby love," she developed key real estate connections that gradually directed more closings to Embassy Title.
"We had to work hard to build our relationships with people, and then we always took care of them," McCarty said. "We always tried to make it more about relationships than business."
She worked seven days a week most of the time since she opened Embassy Title, taking her first trip in 15 years last year when she joined her daughter and grandchildren in a trip to Disney World.
After overcoming some personal struggles, she always focused on giving back to the community - even when her business was not as successful. She provided financial and mentoring support to domestic violence victims in the First Step program. She also contributes to the Livonia Family YMCA, Toys for Tots, schools and other nonprofit groups.
"I can't believe I was selected for this," McCarty said about earning the small business honor.
Mendelson's Professional Building and Mama Mia's Restaurant will receive this year's Community Enhancement Award, which honors Livonia companies that invest in a construction project that makes a visible difference in the community.
CEO Mike Beaubien said the company needed more room and looked at various sites in and around Livonia for several years before deciding on the spot last occupied by Frank's Nursey and Crafts.
"We needed more space but we really wanted to stay in Livonia because this has been our home for so many years," Beaubien said. "We wanted a first-class building that will serve this community for a long time."
They constructed a two-story, 43,000-square-foot building that complimented the new construction across the street at St. Mary Mercy Hospital. In addition to the Mendelson Kornblum practice, the new building houses outpatient surgery and bariatric care facilities for St. Mary Mercy, MRI center for Instant Imagining, and Lakes Urgent Care.
Dr. Herbert Mendelson's sons, David, Jeffery, Stephen, and daughter-in-law Alice are among the practice's 14 doctors. Beaubien said he needed to add 70 positions to adequately staff the new, larger Livonia location. The practice also has two facilities in Warren and with a total of 225 employees, and plans to add at least three more doctors this year.
Beaubien said the company is honored to be selected for this honor.
"I realized how visible the project is to the community," he said. "It's nice to see the hard work we put in and focus on the details are recognized publicly."
The family also controls the Mama Mia's location on Beech Daly Road near Grand River Avenue in Redford.
The family invested more than $160,000 last year to revamp the restaurant's exterior to provide a uniform look for the 140-seat restaurant and 225-seat banquet hall that were constructed separately. Other renovations last year included new carpeting and appliances for the kitchen and bar area.
"We will continue to work on some other interior projects," said John Vardounoitis, who turned 80 in December. "The family wants to keep it, so I put some money into it so they can keep it going."
He is on a winter break in Florida, but he plans to return to Livonia in the spring and resume working at 7:30 a.m. each day at the restaurant. John's wife, Catherine; daughters Nancy and Margie; and grandchildren Paul, Katerina, Dominic, and Yanni all work at the restaurant.
"I've always told my grandchildren that whatever you do in life, you should be happy doing it," he said. "It makes me proud to see so many from the family who want to stay involved with the restaurant."
He added he attributes the restaurant's success to fair and consistent service and meals, and the Livonia community.
"I'm very proud to be part of Livonia," Vardounoitis said. "It is one of the best cities in Michigan and I enjoy being here."
Madonna University was selected as the second annual recipient of the Livonia Greenleaf Award. Developed by the City of Livonia's Greenleaf Commission on Sustainability, the panel aims to reward those Livonia businesses that implement strategies that place equal importance on environmental quality, economic prosperity, and social equity. Madonna's Franciscan Center, completed in 2009, became the city's first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified building.
As a business coach for AdviCoach of Michigan, Bauman works with business owners, specifically family-owned, to help take them to the next level.
"What we like to do is help the owners really get back to why they started the business and rebuild that passion," said Bauman. "I have met new people and built relationships and having those connections have been great personally and businesswise."
She credits the Livonia Chamber for helping her meet many people when she was still new to the area. Bauman was raised in New York and lived in Colorado most of her professional life.
Bauman and her husband of nearly 20 years, Bill, have three children and they belong to St. Paul's Evangelical Lutheran Church in Livonia. She's also a member of the Livonia Civic Chorus.
The business award winners were nominated by Livonia Chamber of Commerce members and community leaders and selected by an anonymous committee who evaluates the nominations.
Also at the Leadership and Awards Celebration, teachers of the year for the Livonia and Clarenceville school districts will be honored, and The Livonia Observer will present its Outstanding Youth and Livonia First Citizen Awards.
The Leadership and Awards Celebration is sponsored by Bright House Business Solutions, Livonia Chrysler Jeep, AlphaUSA, St. Mary Mercy Hospital and Madonna University. Tickets are available at $25 each. Admission includes a strolling dinner and soft drinks. A cash bar will be available. To reserve tickets, call the Livonia Chamber office at 734.427.2122, or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org