Thursday, July 30, 2015

Joe’s Produce celebrates 70th anniversary

Today, Joe’s Produce has 31,000 square feet to display fruits,
vegetables, baked goods, prepared meals,
 and variety of beverages.
Livonians have visited the same Seven Mile Road location to buy fruit longer than they’ve been going to city hall.

As one of Livonia’s longest-lasting businesses, Joe’s Produce celebrated its 70th anniversary Aug. 1 with a customer appreciation.

“We’ve grown with the community,” said Joe Maiorana Jr., the operation’s third-generation owner. “We’ve always had a great customer base here in Livonia, and we would not have lasted this long without our many loyal customers in this town.”

A young Joe Maiorana Jr. stands with her grandmother,
Frances, in front of the Maiorana Orchards
fruit stand on in the early-1960s
Joe’s grandfather, Gaspare Maiorana purchased a 40-acre farm off Seven Mile in 1945 – five years before Livonia chartered as a city. On this farm, Gaspare built a fruit stand where he sold items he harvested from the farm which was known as Maiorana Orchards.

Gaspare’s son, Joe, built a 6,500-square-foot store on farm property in 1967 and called it Joe’s Produce. The new building enabled the family business to offer more products for its customers, such as vegetables and dairy items. He expanded the store in 1985 with another 12,000 square feet for more refrigerated products and prepared salads.

Owner Joe Maiorana Jr. stands with
Produce Manager George Gjnoaj.
Joe Maiorana Sr. retired in 1997 and turned things over to his son. Joe Jr. oversaw another expansion, completed in spring 2007, which added another 12,500 square feet for larger displays and aisles, new sections for deli, prepared hot and cold meals, specialty baked goods and coffee. The building’s exterior was also renovated. The Livonia Chamber of Commerce recognized Joe’s Produce for this project with a Livonia Community Enhancement Award.

Joe Maiorana Jr. said adding prepared foods enabled the business to branch out and offer more services. A catering operation, Joe’s Gourmet Catering, developed in 2007. Two new food stores emerged in the adjacent strip center in 2012 with Joe’s Meat and Seafood and Art of Bread.

Joe’s Produce expanded its services by adding
 Joe’s Meats and Seafood and Art of Bread in 2012.
“Having the fresh meat and fresh bread available here all the time is good for our customers and our catering operation,” Maiorana said. “Not many catering operations can say everything was made from scratch at one place.”

Dan West, president of the Livonia Chamber of Commerce, said people travel from miles away to shop at any of the Joe’s stores because they know they are buying quality products.

“Joe’s Produce is one of Livonia’s signature businesses,” West said.

Joe Maiorana Jr. stands in front of at the
entrance into Joe’s Produce, featuring an
outdoor display as tribute to the fruit
 stand his grandfather built to
start the family business.
Maiorana credits his staff of 150 employees for the continued success of the store, many of whom are veteran employees such as produce manager George Gjonaj, who has worked at the store for 28 years. He also praises the work of 14 trained culinarians and other conscious managers.

“They are meticulous and take their time to do a good job,” Maiorana said. “They always talk about how they are willing to experiment and try to do things differently, to keep things fresh.”

Seven decades in business is an enormous sense of pride for the Maiorana family, many of whom worked on the farm or in the store. As a boy, Maiorana remembers a poignant comment his father made to him in 1970. He pointed to a Joe’s Produce logo and said: “That’s what you’re going to do.”

Today, Joe Sr. is enjoying retired life in Florida, but visits and embraces the decisions that helped Joe’s Produce evolve from a family farm into one of metro Detroit’s premier food markets. 

“My dad really likes the changes,” Joe Jr. said. “My grandfather would also be impressed.”

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Advanced Satellite Communications Job Opening

Title: Cable TV Systems Operation Manager
Reports to: General Ops
Class: Full-Time

The Operation Manager is responsible for ensuring that all commercial satellite TV projects, DIRECTV & audio video systems are quoted, delivered, and installed on time and on budget, aligning with customer expectations.  In this role, you will provide sales and service, technical support, engineering, and project management in support of the sales team and our customers in markets served by ASC, INCLUDING hotels, senior living, hospitals, and other hospitality and business segments.

Proposal and Estimating Responsibilities:
  • Provide technical and sales support to internal teams
  • Survey, inspect and audit customer / prospect site locations
  • Write and submit installation documents and summaries
  • Application / Engineer solutions – stay current with industry technology and installation requirements
  • Create and approve proposals

Operation Management Responsibilities:
  • Manage installations – technical team and customer requirements
  • Coordinate and direct on-site installation teams
  • Provide training to end-users
  • Inspect and verify quality of installations / work
  • Manage budgets and timelines
  • Support sales in managing customer expectations

General Expectations:
  • Responsible for servicing existing client base and working directly with ASC sales, support staff and employees
  • Provide timely and accurate responses to customer questions and concerns
  • Responsible for on-site training and inspections
  • Track and provide accurate installation information for continuous improvement in our processes
  • Acquire and maintain sound knowledge of all product lines and services offered

  • Two or four-year degree from an accredited college or university
  • Project management experience
  • Broad knowledge of various signal level meters / electronic test equipment
  • Basic working knowledge of data and IP networks required
  • Experience with design, build and installation of commercial DIRECTV or DISH Network head end systems in a commercial environment
  • SBCA or other industry certifications is a plus
  • Experience in the following additional technical areas is a plus – sound systems and video distribution, wireless networking, digital signage, hard line and fiber systems

Additional Skills and Abilities:
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills
  • Must be responsible, self-motivated, self-starter, personable and well-organized
  • Superior customer support service skills
  • Ability to manage multiple tasks and projects simultaneously and meet deadlines
  • Strong interpersonal skills - ability to work with diverse groups including ASC staff
  • Proficiency in the use of personal computers including such programs as MS Word, Excel, Access, PowerPoint and Outlook
  • Must be able to read and effectively interpret general blue prints and site plans

Specific Requirements:
  • Moderate amount of travel to customer and vendor sites is expected
  • Valid and current driver’s license
  • Microsoft Office assessment test required
  • $65,000 to $75,000 annually based on experience
  • Bonus opportunities
  • Company vehicle, travel allowance
  • Earned PTO and holiday pay
  • Office suite and company PDA and cell phone
  • Relocation expense support will be considered for the right candidate
This great job opportunity needs to be filled immediately – No later than July 31st , 2015.

Please submit your resume along with a simple cover letter to

Friday, June 26, 2015

Business Milestones - June 25, 2015 - Livonia Observer

Bill & Rod’s Appliance earns Angie’s List Super Service Award
Bill & Rod’s Appliance Inc. of Livonia has earned the service industry’s coveted Angie’s List Super Service Award, reflecting an exemplary year of service provided to members of the local services marketplace and consumer review site in 2014.
“Our goal is to satisfy every customer we come in contact with. We are constantly working on creating a better experience through prediagnosis of problems to take less time for repair and follow up calls in order to make sure our customers are completely satisfied,” said Joe Legato, general manager.
Only about 5 percent of the appliance repair companies in metro-Detroit have performed so consistently well enough to earn the Super Service Award, according to Angie’s List Founder Angie Hicks. “It’s a really high standard,” she said.
Angie’s List Super Service Award 2014 winners have met strict eligibility requirements, which include an “A” rating in overall grade, recent grade, and review period grade; the company must be in good standing with Angie’s List, pass a background check and abide by Angie’s List operational guidelines.
Service company ratings are updated daily on Angie’s List. Companies are graded on an A through F scale in areas ranging from price to professionalism to punctuality.
Camelot Hall receives Bronze National Quality Award
Livonia-based Camelot Hall Convalescent Center has been recognized as a 2015 recipient of the Bronze – Commitment to Quality Award for its dedication to improving the lives of residents through quality care. The award is the first of three distinctions possible through the National Quality Award Program, presented by the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL).
“It is a great honor to be recognized by AHCA/NCAL with a National Quality Award,” said Jacqueline Davis, administrator, Camelot Hall. “Improving the lives of the residents and families we care for every day is what brings us joy.”
Implemented by AHCA/NCAL in 1996, the National Quality Award Program is centered on the core values and criteria of the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program. The program assists providers of long term and post-acute care services in achieving performance excellence goals.
The program has three levels: Bronze, Silver, and Gold. Centers begin the quality improvement process at the Bronze level, where they develop an organizational profile with essential performance elements such as vision and mission statements and an assessment of customers’ expectations. Bronze applicants must also demonstrate their ability to implement a performance improvement system. Examiners review each Bronze application to determine if the center has met the demands of the criteria. As a recipient of the Bronze - Commitment to Quality Award, Camelot Hall may now move forward in developing approaches and achieving performance levels that meet the criteria required for the Silver - Achievement in Quality Award.
Camelot Hall was one of 545 centers to receive the Bronze level award.
IHOP celebrates anniversary with 57-cent buttermilk pancakes
In celebration of IHOP restaurants’ 57th anniversary, participating IHOP restaurants will offer each guest one short stack of its buttermilk pancakes in restaurant from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on July 7 for 57 cents,three cents less than they cost when Al and Jerry Lapin opened the first International House of Pancakes in Toluca Lake, Calif., in 1958.
Coinciding with the anniversary, IHOP has updated its logo, devoted to the brand’s commitment to keeping guests happy, and has introduced a “Summer of Smiles” program with multiple activities planned to celebrate members of the community and organizations that have devoted countless hours toward philanthropic endeavors that make others smile.
“The great service, delicious food, and wonderful experiences at IHOP restaurants have been making guests smile for 57 years,” said Kirk Thompson, vice president, marketing, IHOP. “And while our beaming new logo perfectly captures our heritage of happiness, our 57th Anniversary celebration takes it a step further celebrating the generosity of others in their endeavors to make those less fortunate smile.”
IHOP now has1,650 restaurants in 11 countries and U.S. territories. The Livonia IHOP is at 14200 Middlebelt Road.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

14-year-old CEO is Livonia's youngest chamber member

David Veselenak, Livonia Observer
Livonia resident Grant Sobczak has no doubts about his goals: He wants to run a successful $100 billion company.
He thinks he's got a pretty good start, becoming the youngest member of the Livonia Chamber of Commerce with his business, Modern Mind Technology.
The 14-year-old, who will be a freshman at Churchill High School this fall, launched his company earlier this year, offering services such as social media management, Web design and app design.
Designing products and websites that are appealing to look at and do the job is a strength of his company, Sobczak said, something he doesn't see with smaller companies like his.
"We want to change that and make something that's beautiful and functional," he said. "I think that's what's going to make us successful against our competitors."
His company, found at, has partnered with several local groups, including Livonia Public Schools and the Livonia Rotary Club, which will induct Sobczak as its youngest youngest member Thursday.
Sobczak's mother, Casandra Sobczak, said she's tried to support him in all his ventures, even signing the paperwork for him when he created his business because, legally, he was too young to do it himself. She said she's gone with the flow and it has seemed to work out well for her son.
"When he would say these things, I would say, 'I don't know, Grant,'" she said. "He's always been one to have really big ideas. It seems like every time he does something, it ends up happening."
His work has even gotten the attention of several Livonia Chamber of Commerce members, said president Dan West. Sobczak came and discussed his business with several chamber members last month and came across as a professional who knows what he's doing, he said.
"Grant came in and really impressed the board with his wit and his intelligence," West said. "You could really tell he was focused on making this work."
The history
It began during his time as a member of the Emerson Middle School Technology Collaboration, a group of friends who did technology work at the school.
"It was like a little group of friends who helped with school and improved it with websites and if a teacher needed some kind of survey done, we'd conduct that," he said. "Then around October, we decided to start this new project."
That project, creating online data binders for the Franklin Covey "The Leader in Me" program, came as a necessity, Sobczak said, as the paper folders would get to be too much.
"That was really a problem, because they were falling apart and they were heavy," he said. "The idea was to take everything in that binder and put it online."
They then began marketing the idea across Emerson, taking some time to find the best way to spread the idea to the group's fellow students. It's grown so much, Franklin Covey became interested and contacted the students. Sobczak and other students continue to remain in touch to find a way to implement their technology in their platforms.
"That's when I realized this product will be worth something," he said. "We're still waiting to see the details."
And he and his friends are looking toward the future in product development. He said they're currently working on a project he was not willing to share the details on, but promises it will impress.
"I'm thinking it's going to be the next big thing," he said.
Ann Owen, principal of Emerson Middle School, is the one who got Grant involved with the Rotary by having him do some Web work for the club. She said he is far more tech savvy than the average eighth-grader.
She said she is impressed with his entrepreneurial skills, saying he researched how to start his own business, including how to form a limited liability corporation.
He recently spoke at a symposium at Schoolcraft College in front of 400 educators and got a standing ovation, she said.
Owen said Grant, who hopes to be the next Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, is one of those few exceptional students an educator runs across in her career.
"I hope his business plan includes me in his retirement sharing," she said.
-Staff Writer Karen Smith contributed to this report. | 734-678-6728 Twitter: @DavidVeselenak

Friday, June 5, 2015

High-tech jobs are in our backyard

Students seek them, local manufacturers have them
Manufacturing Professor Gene Keyes meets with prospective students
to his program during Schoolcraft College open house May 30.
Some 200 parents and their career-exploring children from Livonia, Plymouth, Canton, and Westland gathered at Schoolcraft College’s Technology and Engineering open house May 30.

Professors in advanced manufacturing, electronics, computer-aided design (CAD), welding, and plastics explained the training possibilities to the middle- and high-school students walking through campus. Several local companies, such as Roush, AlphaUSA, and Skyway Precision Inc., introduced themselves, what they make, and future careers to the inquiring young people.

It was the second annual career pathways open house at Schoolcraft, and there was a noticeable increase in the attendance from the inaugural effort in 2014 to connect students interested in learning about skilled-trades careers.

Roush Enterprises Recruiting Manager
Joann Revesz talks to students and parents about
what the Livonia-based company produces to
students at the open house.
Many of the students who walked through the open house were interested in one thing: High-tech jobs.. They quickly learned there are many such opportunities close to where they live.

“So many kids think there are only high-tech jobs at Apple or Google,” said Kelly Sharpe, the human resources manager at Skyway, which operates plants in Plymouth and Livonia. “I hope these kids and their parents are starting to learn that manufacturing is high-tech, too.”

State officials report more than 70,000 jobs go unfilled in Michigan, in most cases, because candidates’ qualifications don’t match the high-tech and skilled experiences employers need. Companies are turning away work because they don’t have enough workers to fill production demands in a timely fashion.

At a deeper level, this is all a part of a culture shift metro Detroit needs to experience to support a viable economy for future generations. We need to change the conventional thinking about manufacturing, where facilities are now incredibly dynamic with technology, and cleaner and brighter than many restaurants. Additionally, young people need to appreciate the pride and accomplishment of building products that touch people’s lives every day.

Professor Bill Schlick discusses his electronics program to students at
Schoolcraft College's technology and engineering open house.
Also, there is a reality that most future jobs require only one or two years of post-secondary education focused on obtaining skills. Harvard University reports that nearly two-thirds of jobs in 2018 will require specific skills available in a certificate or associate’s degree program; only one-third of jobs will require a bachelor’s degree or more.

With this year’s growth in interest in Schoolcraft’s technology and engineering open house, it appears more of our neighbors are getting the message.