Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce Honors 4 Local Companies

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Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce Honors 4 Local Companies


Written by: Melissa Anders


The Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce recently honored four Lansing-area companies in its Celebration of Regional Growth. The sixth annual award recognizes businesses for their contributions to the local economy through investment and job creation. Last year the chamber added an international trade award to the program. Here is a look at three of the recipients:


Air Lift Co.


The slow economy hasn’t stopped Air Lift Co. from growing. The 62-year-old company makes air spring suspension products for the automotive aftermarket.


In February, Air Lift completed a $713,000, 20,000-square-foot addition to its facility at 2727 Snow Road in Delta Township.


“We really kind of invested in the recession,” said Kevin Mehigh, company president. “We hired key personnel, we invested in (information technology) and we think we’re getting paid dividends now because of that.”


Air Lift employs about 75 and is in the process of adding more office space within the building.


The chamber honored Air Lift with its International Trade Award.


The company sells its products in 33 countries and was among the first to bring international freight for customs clearance through Port Lansing at Capital Region International Airport.


“We’re looking for logistical advantages, convenience factors of being able to bring that product right into Lansing,” Mehigh said.


Gillespie Group


Pat Gillespie development projects are like children – he loves them all.


But for some reason, the Marshall Street Armory project strikes a chord with him.


Gillespie recently wrapped up renovating the 1920s military facility into a hub for nonprofit organizations.


Seven nonprofits are moving their offices into the building, along with the Gillespie Group headquarters. Some tenants are expected to be settled in by mid-November, while the rest will move in during December.


Gillespie said the $5.2 million armory project is unlike anything he’s done.


“It’s not the biggest, by any means, but it’s probably the most emotionally charged one,” Gillespie said, given the building’s history and community role.


he building served as an armory and training site for the Michigan Army National Guard for decades. The facility also hosted many community events throughout the years.


Gillespie Group started off in 1994 as Gillespie Development, then transitioned to its current form in 2003. The company employs about 65 people, including about 18 at its East Lansing headquarters. The rest work at the company’s properties throughout the state.


In December, the company will move into the Armory at 330 Marshall St. in Lansing.


“Our main focus and our company’s mission is to try to improve the Lansing region, especially downtown Lansing, through our actions and our projects,” Gillespie said.


He plans to take on four or five more local projects in the next five years, including a new mixed-use building at the former site of the Silver Dollar Saloon, later known as the Dollar Nightclub, on Michigan Avenue.


Biggby Coffee


Bob Fish is on the road a lot, but the Lansing area is still home to the Biggby Coffee co-founder.


The Biggby chain started out in 1995 with one shop in East Lansing called Beaner’s. It now has 126 locations in seven states, including about 27 in the Lansing area.


“It’s nice to be recognized by your community,” Fish said of the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce award. “We love doing business in the greater Lansing area.”


The honor comes on the heels of national recognition.


Cable network CNBC in September pegged Biggby as the nation’s fastest-growing coffee retail chain.


And the company was named one of the top 30 food franchises for 2011 by Franchise Business Review, a market research firm based in Portsmouth, N.H.


The company continues to expand. It has 11 stores in development.

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