Category Archives: INTERVIEWS

Smith Haughey Rice & Roegge’s Media Open House & Ribbon-Cutting

Established in 1941 in the McKay Tower in Grand RapidsSmith Haughey Rice & Roegge owes its success to the character, integrity, and ability of its lawyers and staff, beginning with founders Clifford MittsA.B. Smith, Jr.,David Haughey, and Bud Roegge. The firm’s early reputation stemmed from the core belief that, first and foremost, the firm should always hire the best and brightest people.


The firm expanded on this foundation throughout the last seven decades. It now includes a multitude of practice areas and three strategically located offices throughout Michigan. While Smith Haughey is recognized for the size and scope of its services, it is known for delivering superior value through outstanding expertise and exceptional efficiency.

They decided to make a strong commitment to downtown Grand Rapids, historic preservation and sustainability through their participation in the renovation of the Flat Iron Building. The firm’s office build-out combines contemporary, modern design, furnishings and lighting, with the exposed brick and timbers of the old building resulting in a modern loft-style workspace. The firm is proud to be part of the renovation of this highly visible, once vacant building in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids. Renovating the building is important to attracting economic development and to making downtown even more walkable and inviting.

Smith Haughey Rice & Roegge was established in 1941 as a litigation defense firm. Their offices are strategically located in three major growth areas of Michigan:Ann ArborGrand Rapids, and Traverse CitySmith Haughey employs 172 in all three locations, including 54 attorneys in Grand Rapids, 29 in Traverse City, and 9 in Ann Arbor.

The firm will add additional attorneys in 2012 in all three offices to accommodate its growth in Grand Rapids. The firm is exploring the option to expand by extending into the Ledyard Building.

They are the only law firm in the nation to renovate a 150-year-old building certified by LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) They previously occupied the Calder Plaza Building for 30 years.

They partnered with Wolverine Building Group, Design +, and Locus Development, on the interior renovation.

 

They are the Law Firm of the Future. 

A great deal has changed in the 30 years the firm occupied its space at Calder Plaza and Smith Haughey has kept up with the times.

Clients are pushing for lower costs and law firms like Smith Haughey are answering with streamlined processes and efficient uses of resources.

Technology has transformed the practice of law. Library books and paper files have largely been replaced with electronic equivalents. A generational and legal industry cultural shift away from large corner offices and towards uniform office sizes. Utilizing hoteling for part-time and visiting attorneys has further reduced space requirements. Emphasis is on effectiveness versus space. Out-of-office time is encouraged. Less support staff relative to the number of attorneys. Client meetings in conference rooms and at clients’ offices versus in attorneys’ private offices.

The Ledyard Block consists of a triangular shaped city block located in the heart of downtown, and is bounded by Ottawa and Monroe Center. The landmark site includes the Flat Iron Building. The buildings’ Civil War Italiente architectural style, age, and integrity of historic fabric have been recognized as historically significant.

The Ledyard Block is significant for its contribution to the commercial activity in the history of Grand Rapids commerce. The Flat Iron Building was originally constructed in 1860 to house a bank. The adjacent buildings to the west, 112 and 114 Monroe Center, were also constructed circa 1860 to encourage retail in downtown. Since the buildings were constructed, numerous retail businesses have occupied the main floors, while the upper floors have housed primarily professional practices.

It was built in 1860 by Moses Aldrich and his father-in-law William B. Ledyard. It is the second oldest building in Grand Rapids.

During the Civil War the building housed retail stores and a bank on the first floor, and offices and a boarding house upstairs.

The upper floors have not been used since the 1940’s.

The building is owned by Locus Development. The initial anticipated private investment was approximately $4.5 million.

In 1983, the “Ledyard Block” was placed on the National Registry of Historic Places.

The windows at the prow of the building are original and were restored during construction.

An artifact rescued from the building is a “Notice to Employes” with instructions on how to report a work related injury. The Notice is affixed to an old door that now stands in Bill Hondorp, CEO and workers compensation attorney’s, office. The Notice is dated May 5, 1913—the year after the first workers compensation act was passed.

Other artifacts include a newspaper clipping of an article in the Grand Rapids Press, dated June 28, 1915, which recapped the previous year’s fighting in what eventually was known as WWI. There was also an interesting cartoon, written in German, which depicted a caricature of a storekeeper as well as a sign which read “We speak German here”. There was also a small article about a car that burned on Commerce St. in Grand Rapids.

To learn more about Smith Haughey Rice & Roegge, visit their website: http://www.shrr.com
Find them on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/smithhaughey?sk=info

photography: Tim Motley

 

 

Curtain Up: Mike Lloyd Putting Broadway Grand Rapids In the Spotlight

In a journalism career that spanned the better part of four decades — most of it as editor in chief of the Grand Rapids PressMike Lloyd met with world leaders, business moguls, politicians, celebrities — and got invited to parties even the Salahis couldn’t crash. He managed a staff of editors, writers, photographers, and artists that numbered over 150 by the time he retired from the paper in mid 2009.

Fast forward to late 2011. Lloyd has a new job, a staff of four, often has to answer the phone, and has to make do with a budget that never seems to stretch far enough. But that’s just fine with him. As executive director of Broadway Grand Rapids he understands this is how a local arts organization survives.

“You have to nurture your customers,” Lloyd explains.” If it’s after 5 and someone calls, you pick up the phone. You answer it and ask how you can help.” Help, he adds, is whatever it takes. “If you paid $50 for a ticket and can’t go, we’ll arrange for a ticket for another time…we’re on your side.”

Conceding a side may seem out of character from a man with a reputation for a hard-nosed approach to conflict and a personality many politely described as gruff. But give and take are part of any business and even if there needs to be a little more give, Lloyd suggests the work isn’t far removed from his old job. There’s still drama, especially with tight budgets. Still deadlines. Still an audience to engage.

“You cannot expect people to pay double the price of Civic (Theatre) tickets unless you demonstrate it is justified,” Lloyd maintains. “We have to demonstrate we’re worth the money.” After all, he adds:

“Isn’t news theater? Every person is a story…and a potential customer.”

Joining Broadway Grand Rapids in early 2010 was just the type of challenge Lloyd was looking for when he left the Press. Even though he served on numerous local boards he was ready for something more. Broadway Grand Rapids had been in business since 1989 but it was suffering through some lean years at the box office, and had an image in need of redefining.

“I was looking for something where I could make a difference,” Lloyd explains. “This was the perfect spot. I’ve not necessarily been a participant but always a supporter of the arts. If you’re going to push Grand Rapids as a destination city you have to have this base.”

The arts have long been a passion of Lloyd’s. Among his many roles at the Press before he became its editor was a stint as music critic. He was also a season ticket holder for many of the city’s performing arts organizations, including Broadway Grand Rapids from its opening season. During this time Lloyd witnessed the evolution of the arts in the community. The symphony became a fully paid, full-time orchestra. Civic Theatre renovated and moved into its new space. The ballet expanded its schedule and developed an ambitious series of classes and programs. The opera opened new headquarters.

The centerpiece of this growth was its new performance venue: DeVos Performance Hall. The Hall changed the game for the arts community. It comfortably accommodated close to 2,500 patrons and was equipped to handle most any type of performance.

It also leads to a scramble for prime dates. And when it came time for the venue’s governing body, the Grand Rapids-Kent County Convention/Arena Authority (CAA), to award performance dates, Broadway Grand Rapids was typically on the outside looking in.

It was a problem Lloyd intended to solve. “Dates are critical,” Lloyd maintains. “For some groups their entire year depends on one date. Until this year it had been the ballet, the opera, and the symphony,” Lloyd added. “We weren’t really part of the process.”

This changed with Lloyd’s presentation to the CAA.

“Look at ArtPrize,” he said. “No rooms to be had. No reservations available. Everything jammed. Yet how many local people won major awards? It’s the same with us. People say we don’t use local talent, but the money isn’t going out of town. And we hire locally. We had 35 local stage hands at our last production.

“It’s all about bringing vitality to downtown,” Lloyd concludes, and sees the community’s organizations as complementary rather than contentious. The ballet, for example, traded early December dates with Broadway Grand Rapids, a move Lloyd says will be reciprocated.

With that, Lloyd is quick to point out that there is enough audience to go around.

“I’m not here to bash any other group…there’s room for everybody,” he says. “We had “Grease” here and went head to head with Lady Gaga at Van Andel. Both venues were full.”

Getting the right shows helps, too. Earlier this year Broadway Grand Rapids formed a partnership with Michigan State University’s Wharton Center for the Performing Arts. Its executive director, Mike Brand earns high praise from Lloyd for his ability to bring in shows that can also play in Grand Rapids.

What shows would Lloyd like to see? “ “Wicked”…“The Lion King”…“Phantom Of the Opera”…“Jersey Boys”…I’d do “Le Miz” every week if I could.”

Lloyd’s dedication to seeing the arts succeed in the city goes back to his earliest days at the Press. He came to Grand Rapids in 1967, just two years removed from earning a degree in journalism from the University of Missouri. Grand Rapids bashing was in vogue then, particularly among young professionals, but Lloyd took the negativity as a challenge.

“Around ’69 a lot of people were leaving, he recalls.” They were saying ‘there’s nothing here.’ I told myself ‘I’m not a consolation prize.’ I was going to work to give them a reason to regret their decision.”

He’s still working at it. And the spotlight is shining on Broadway Grand Rapids just a little brighter these days.

Lloyd’s personal life has brightened as well. He remarried in 2009 and is enjoying life with his extended family. His first wife, Judy, was killed in an auto accident in 2005 and Lloyd still thinks about her. He says one of the many things he learned from her was the importance of the people in your life.

“I used to tell her I loved her every morning,” Lloyd says, “I do this with Kathy now, even if I have to wake her up to tell her.”

And that plays well anywhere.

Broadway Grand Rapids is featuring “Les Miserables” beginning November 29. For ticket information and a season schedule, visit: www.broadwaygrandrapids.com

— GF, contributing writer : Photography: Tim Motley

Full Moon Supper Club — Grand Rapids’ Underground

On my short walk to The Urban Ranch I overheard a woman say to her boyfriend, “I have no idea what to expect at this dinner, but I sure am glad we were invited.” I know how she felt. The Urban Ranch, which is the home of Lisa Rose Starner and her family, hosted the Full Moon Supper Club’s one year anniversary party: “Paris, France, circa 1950” last Sunday evening. To grossly simplify, the FMSC is Grand Rapids’ first community-focused, slow food underground supper club. The underground part is no joke. Their event was sold out, capped at 30 people who all paid $45 to eat and drink a four-course gourmet meal. The kicker is that you must be invited.

In talking with a very exited and animated Torrence O’Haire, I learned that his goal in cooking for the FMSC is simple and elegant. O’Haire is a personal chef and operates under the name, The Starving Artist (the-starving-artist.net). He is an official slow food certified chef and likes to use the monthly dinners as a way to experiment with new dishes and techniques. The theme Sunday was “Fancy Things,” and everyone was dressed to the nines with gowns, gloves, champagne and good manners. Torrence went so far as to call it “theme-centric,” with geographic nights from Morocco, Saigon, Ireland, Rome, Bavaria, Argentina, plus “Foraging in Michigan” where everything was found within 50 miles.

The Full Moon Supper Club is a non-profit organization created with the idea that the money that guests pay goes directly back into the cost of the food and drink. “It makes it a sort of community event instead of a fine dining one,” said O’Haire smiling, “It’s a way to get people all sitting at a table together.”

I couldn’t pronounce a single dish that was served, so to give you an idea of exactly how fancy this dinner really was, here’s the menu…

THE MENU:

First Course:
Boeuf a l’americane
Champignons marinieres

Second Course:
Filets of sole meuniere
Duck a l’Orange
Petit pois a la parisienne
Pommes puree
Soufflés aux verts

Third Course:
Savarin

Fourth Course:
Mendiants
Pate de fruits de mangue et canneberge
Cheese
Vin Petillant
Vin Blanc de Macon
Vin Rouge de Chateuneuf-du-Pape
Cognac

To learn more about the Full Moon Supper Clubhttp://www.the-starving-artist.net
On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/fullmoonsupperclub

— Story and Photography by: Katy Batdorff

 

 

 

Look Who’s Talking: On the Run With WGVU’s Shelley Irwin

Shelley Irwin is the Swiss Army Knife of talk show hosts.

She does morning radio and weeknight TV for WGVU, hosting a variety of interview and informational programs. She does her own research, books her own guests, and produces her own shows. She says yes to virtually any community organization asking for a mention, a board member, an emcee, or a keynote speaker. And just for fun…she runs triathlons and marathons.

“There aren’t a lot of lulls,” she admits. “But I’m single with no kids. I’m healthy. I have good energy…I have parents with pretty good genes (her mom’s a nurse, her dad a biologist).”

It’s a full life for the 51-year-old Irwin, who is still relatively new to broadcasting. She spent her first career as a physical therapist — she holds a master’s degree in the discipline — working in Georgia and North Carolina. The work was fulfilling but some off-hours work in community theatre gave her a taste for performing that stayed with her. As she neared 40, Irwin was looking for new horizons.

“I had the house with the white picket fence…two dogs…money in the bank,” she recalls.

“But there was something missing.”

What was missing, she believed, was the opportunity to make more of an impact with her talent and in her community. One of her friends was an anchor at a local TV station and Irwin was intrigued with the idea of doing this herself.

A personal disappointment led to her departure from North Carolina in the late ‘90s. She moved to Rochester, Michigan to be near family. The urge to express herself beyond her PT license came with her, and she enrolled in an eight-month broadcast training program. She later got an internship with WJR/WXYZ in Detroit, performing well enough to earn some unique assignments, including work as a field producer.

After paying her dues in Detroit, Irwin came to Grand Rapids and WGVU. It didn’t take her long to make a name for herself. Her work consistently won her a yearly Gracie Award, an honor given to female broadcasters for outstanding performance on a local level, as well as shared honors for local TV and radio feature productions.

Her new hometown took notice. Her goal of contributing to her community was embraced by a number of organizations happy to have a visible, engaged board member. Groups such as the Chamber Board, the Rapid Advisory Board, the Epilepsy Foundation, the Girl Scouts, and many others fill out her calendar. She also shares her days with over 4,000 facebook friends, a link she says keeps her in touch with her growing audience.

And she has no trouble finding guests. More often than not, she gets e-mails and calls requests from people and groups asking to be on the show. To accommodate this growing list, Irwin has expanded their opportunities. She used to conduct four 20-minute interviews during the show’s two-hour run. She now produces eight 10-minute segments.

“I can get a lot in 10 minutes,” she says. And no one doubts her.

Fitting in more interviews demands a lot more work and the thought of asking for help has crossed Irwin’s mind more than once. But she confesses she would miss it if someone else stepped in, not to mention that it  might change how she approaches her work.

“I’ve come to find my own niche instead of copying somebody else,” she says.

Her radio work is complemented by WGVU-TV appearances on programs such as Community Connection and Ask The…, a weekly program featuring a panel of experts from a given field. She’s introduced special features, such as Business Happens in Heels, a monthly spotlight promoting local women in business.

 

Her interview history — from WJR to NPR — has put her in touch with a number of memorable personalities. “I’ve been very lucky,” Irwin says. “I’ve interviewed Diane Rehm, Terry Gross, Neal Conan. I’ve had John-Boy Walton on, Peter Brady, Timmy from Lassie, Regis Philbin  — all the people I grew up watching…so I got that out of my system.

“My bucket list has gotten shorter,” she suggests. “But I still think there’s something big out there.”

So, is there ever time for time off to look for that next big thing? Not likely. Irwin relishes being involved and says she wouldn’t know what to do with a long vacation.

“If I take a vacation day just to take one, I’d probably be here checking my e-mail,” She laughs. “I just need three days and I’m fine.”

Next question, then. What’s next for Shelley Irwin?

She likes where she is and hopes to stay a while longer. Her adrenalin still flows when she faces a new week. “I’m still looking to do my best on Monday morning,” she says, and it’s clear she means it.

But Irwin is also aware that time is finite. “I’m a little afraid of it,” she admits. “I’ve got a lot to do before that time…and then, yes, I’ll be sitting on a cloud with my wings and my little dogs.”

Until then, it’s full speed ahead…and forget the speed bumps. Work is life.

“I can see myself being a greeter in a store when I’m 80 years old,” Irwin muses.

And when that happens, there seems little doubt that people will still be lining up to talk to her.

Catch Shelley Irwin every morning from 9-11 on WGVU-FM radio (88.5); every first Thursday of the month at 6 p.m. for Community Connection; and the remaining Thursday evenings at 6 p.m. for Ask The… on WGVU-TV (35).

Story by: GF Korreck; Photography: Michael Cook

The Doctor Is In… With Grand Rapids

 

When he came to Grand Rapids as a medical student in 1984, Khan Nedd was a long way from home. Twenty-seven years later…he’s right at home.

He’s Doctor Khan Nedd now, and he’s lived more than half his life in Grand Rapids, a place far from his childhood home in Grenada. He’s OK with that. He’s become part of the fabric of Grand Rapids and continually looks for ways to get involved.

When he does, it’s hard not to notice him — at well over six feet tall he’s an imposing physical presence. But up close he’s reflective and soft spoken, even when talking about topics he cares about the most. He’s a man of faith, a father of three, an active (when possible) soccer player, and a guy who enjoys the city’s increasingly varied social life.

So what does he do with his day?

He’s an internist who co-owns a healthcare business, a member of, or volunteer for, numerous community boards, and a passionate advocate for quality, accessible healthcare. Why so busy? It’s simple, he says:

“Wherever you go, you’ve got to make it your home. And if you want to make changes, you have to be part of it. You have to get involved at the core…from within.”

He is.

Nedd’s healthcare business, which he co-founded 12 years ago, is Infusion Associates, a medical group practice that provides IV therapies for patients. This option allows people to avoid a more expensive hospital visit for these services.

“Wherever you go, you’ve got to make it your home.”

After hours, or sometimes during, he’s on the board at Spectrum Hospital; he’s chair of a committee that evaluates the cost and efficacy of drugs covered by Medicare; he’s involved in the Hope Network; he has a long volunteer relationship with Pilgrim Manor; and he’s the founder of the Grand Rapids African-American Health Institute, an organization that focuses on resolving disparities in the healthcare system..

It’s not quite all healthcare all the time, but it’s close. Nedd believes there are daunting challenges that can be met by taking a closer look at the issues from the patient’s point of view..

“The issue is so highly politicized right now,” he says. “It’s blinding; it’s like walking into a blizzard. We can’t really solve anything unless we have a good understanding of what really happens. It’s more important to know how people operate — do I know who to call, do I know who to talk to…”

Nedd discovered close-hand how well the system works. He was a patient himself.

“Two years ago I had a cardiac arrest,” he remembers. “I also had cancer the same year. I got to understand what patients felt. I always viewed myself as pretty empathic and this put me in a position to experience what other people to through.”

He believes the experience gave him a better sense of what can work and what does not. It isn’t always about money, but what is most effective, most efficient. The money, he reasons, will follow.

“Sometimes, treatment costs rise and you’ve lost all the ground you gained,” he says. “For us to restructure healthcare we would have something like 30 million people becoming participants. Since when aren’t 30 million people a business opportunity?”

“Modernization doesn’t have to have negatives. Negatives come when people aren’t able to participate.”

Not solving the problem within the industry is worse, he suggests. “We don’t want government or the insurance companies to reflexively decide for us. We can work together to optimize what we do. I’m always amazed at how much you can learn when you take the time to sit down and talk to somebody.”

Communication is important to Nedd, including social media, which he believes will play a key role in the future of healthcare.

“The reality for us in healthcare is that people are going to want to interface using the machinery of social networking.” he maintains. “That’s where people are going to get their information. Some people don’t like this but modernization doesn’t have to have negatives. Negatives come when people aren’t able to participate.”

It is this aspect of inclusiveness that Nedd views as a fundamental part of what makes a city work. He saw the opposite of it in his early days in Grand Rapids, and while he is grateful now for the friendships and opportunities he has, he believes there’s always room for growth.

“When it come to African-American issues, a good measure of where you are as a city
is when people can reflexively see and react to an issue,” he says. “That’s when you know you have arrived as a city.”

Nedd adds that inclusiveness ultimately extends to everyone:

“Energy is created in a city by how many people you can keep here, and how welcome people feel when they come here…when they step out of their car and have that sense of Nirvana…of arriving at a great place.”

Getting there takes some work but the basics are right in front of us, every day, Nedd believes:

“The fundamental definition of Christianity is the God-man relationship, but the only expression of it is man to man…how do you treat your fellow man?”

As a doctor..and a citizen, Dr. Khan Nedd treats them pretty well.

— GF