DBusiness Daily Update: Avalon International Breads Closes Willis … – DBusiness

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Avalon International Breads to Close Willis Street Café, Join Forces with Jolly Pumpkin
On Jan. 8, Avalon International Breads is beginning a new chapter by closing its Willis Street Café and moving into a new, collaborative concept with the Jolly Pumpkin restaurant at 411 W. Canfield Street in Detroit’s Midtown district. The new location is around the corner from Avalon’s original store.
The new restaurant, set to open in February, will feature some of Avalon’s menu favorites, additional space to sit and enjoy new food options, and weekend brunch. The concept also will allow for shared resources, new menu options, ample parking, and more.
The founders of Avalon opened their first bakery in Detroit’s Cass Corridor in 1997. The opening helped Midtown attract other small businesses as well as housing and commercial investments, many of which were supported by Midtown Detroit Inc.
“While we leave our first home of more than 25 years with both sadness and gratitude, we look forward to building a sustainable model combining the resources and strengths of both businesses,” says Jackie Victor, co-founder of Avalon.
Sue Mosey, executive director of Midtown Detroit Inc., says: “Although Midtown Detroit Inc. feels the loss of this anchor business at its original location on Willis, we are excited about two Midtown businesses with shared ownership coming together to co-locate. This model is one we are seeing across the district and will accelerate as a going forward model post COVID-19 for a number of other local businesses.
“As the market has changed in all urban districts during COVID-19, our local entrepreneurs who are developing new models in response are much more likely to be profitable long term, which is the most important outcome.”
As part of this new stage, Avalon is replacing the Avalon Bakehouse with a more efficient footprint that will open in the coming weeks. Avalon is working to transition most Willis employees to the new Avalon Midtown location, and all Avalon employees will have the opportunity to apply for positions throughout the family of companies. Avalon’s locations in downtown Detroit, Ann Arbor, and within the Meijer Markets at Rivertown and Royal Oak will not be affected.
The Shyft Group in Novi Completes Acquisition of XL Fleet
Novi specialty vehicle manufacturer The Shyft Group Inc. today announced it has completed the acquisition of XL Fleet as planned and initially announced by Spruce Power last month. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
The acquisition includes the option to extend employment opportunities to XL Fleet technical talent, assume a short-term leased facility including equipment in Wixom, and support the completion of a pilot development agreement with the Department of Defense.
“Blue Arc, which Shyft unveiled at NTEA Work Truck Week last year, brings fleet electrification solutions that leverage our 50 years of experience in last-mile delivery, a noteworthy anniversary which we celebrate this year,” says Daryl Adams, president and CEO of The Shyft Group. “The response to Blue Arc’s commercial-grade offering has been strong. With the ramp up of EV production in 2023, we welcome the opportunity to integrate talent and discrete assets that will help us charge ahead to meet the electrification needs of our customers.”
The incoming team members will be based either in Plymouth or the 24,655-square-foot Wixom Technology Center, which will continue to be used for technical and test work as Shyft evaluates how the facility best complements its footprint going forward.
“We are thrilled to integrate this team, equipment and the facility into our growing EV business,” says Eric Fisher, senior vice president and general manager of Shyft Innovations. “It’s always been part of our plan to expand the team as we move towards production and we feel fortunate that the timing worked out to allow us to bring significant talent in this way. We expect it to help accelerate our build out capability.”
The DOD pilot program Shyft assumed as part of the acquisition supports the completion of an awarded contract by the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) of the Department of Defense and the U.S. Army’s Project Manager Transportation Systems (PMTS) to prototype a fuel-saving technology for military vehicles.
Shyft will help complete the application of sustainable fleet vehicle technologies that can extend the operational range of military tactical vehicles, while supporting troops’ safety and providing significant fuel and operating cost savings and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Lansing’s AF Group Completes its Acquisition of AmeriTrust Group in Southfield
AF Group, a Lansing-based holding company owned by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan whose affiliated brands provide specialty and workers’ compensation insurance solutions across the United States, has acquired AmeriTrust Group in Southfield.
Initially announced in April 2022, the acquisition has earned regulatory approvals and now aligns two Michigan-based insurance organizations in the property and casualty market. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
“Adding a trusted and respected company like AmeriTrust to the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan enterprise is exceptional news for our organization,” said Daniel J. Loepp, president and CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. “We look forward to the expanded capabilities and talented team AmeriTrust will add to AF Group’s industry-leading expertise in the property and casualty space, enabling greater service offerings to agents and customers.”
The acquisition positions AF Group to serve its customers with more diversified products and services and further strengthens their increasingly prominent position and reputation in the market, which has grown significantly over the last decade.
“We could not be more pleased to welcome the AmeriTrust team to our organization,” said Lisa Corless, president and CEO of AF Group. “The work and commitment of AmeriTrust associates has led to a very strong reputation in the industry, and we’re excited to add their expertise and capabilities as we broaden our product offerings to the benefit of our partner agents and shared policyholders nationwide.”
North Carolina PR Firm Acquires Bloomfield Hills’ The Millerschin Group
Bloomfield Hills-based The Millerschin Group (TMG), a mobility and transportation-focused public relations and integrated marketing agency, has been acquired by French/West/Vaughan (FWV), an independently held PR, advertising, and digital marketing agency based in Raleigh, N.C. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
TMG was founded in 2000 by Erin Millerschin, the daughter of famed automotive and business journalist David C. Smith. It presently is an eight-person firm that counts Mitsubishi Electric Automotive America, Eaton, LG Energy Solution and SMAC Corp. among its clients powering mobility and manufacturing around the globe.
“We feel very fortunate to join the FWV family,” says Millerschin, who runs the business along with COO John Millerschin. “The firm has demonstrated top-tier results for organizations across a broad spectrum of industries which will elevate the counsel and services we can provide clients.”
FWV and TMG closed the acquisition on Dec. 30, 2022, and TMG will continue to operate under its existing brand and leadership structure as an FWV agency, joining AMP3 PR (New York City), CGPR (Boston), FWV Fetching (Tampa) and Prix Productions (Los Angeles) under the FWV umbrella.
FWV Chairman and CEO Rick French is a Detroit-area native who spent the early part of his PR career in the city and has stayed active in the region through Detroit Homecoming, an annual gathering of ex-pats who have worked to support the economic and social renaissance of their hometown.
“We are so excited to be partnering with Erin and John and their outstanding team at TMG,” says French. “I’ve been looking for an opportunity to plant the FWV flag in the Motor City for more than a decade, but it had to be the right fit, with like-minded people. TMG has an outstanding reputation in the mobility and B2B sectors, both of which we view as growth opportunities for the agency, especially with so many automotive manufacturers and first-tier suppliers having already established significant operations in the South.”
DBusiness featured Rick French in its January-February 2022 issue. Read the article here.
Lawrence Tech Study Offers Steps to Boost Construction Safety
A new study by the Construction Safety Research Center (CSRC) at Lawrence Technological University in Southfield outlines several steps construction managers can take to increase the proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE).
Research from CSRC Director Ahmed Al-Bayati, assistant professor of civil and architectural engineering at LTU, identified lack of proper use of PPE as being the cause of 85 percent of falls that result in death among Hispanic workers at construction sites. And the issue is far broader in the construction industry.
Other research has found that 70 percent of all fall incidents involved a lack of PPE. Al-Bayati says the evidence shows lack of proper use of PPE also contributes to deaths and injuries among electrical and road workers.
Why don’t workers use PPE properly? The CSRC study identifies poor PPE design, the belief that PPE is cumbersome and too hot in warm climates, the belief that PPE will slow down work, inadequate safety supervision, lack of safety training, and lack of management support, among other factors.
Al-Bayati’s CSRC conducted a national survey and focus group sessions to address these issues. Steps toward greater compliance with using PPE properly included:
The study, titled “PPE Non-Compliance Among Construction Workers,” has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Safety Research, published by the National Safety Council and Elsevier. The study’s white paper can be found here.
“The construction industry in the United States represents 4.1 percent of the workforce, yet accounted for 21.2 percent of U.S. on-the-job fatalities in 2020,” Al-Bayati says. “Construction workers are 5.5 times more likely to get injured than non-construction workers, which shows the importance of the CSRC. The CSRC will continue to conduct studies like this one, to make construction workplaces as safe as they can possibly be.”
The Construction Safety Research Center is a membership-driven collaboration of companies, municipalities, associations, and agencies that aims to reduce work-related fatalities and injuries by providing innovative safety practices derived from groundbreaking research.
The CSRC has a process that helps industry leaders contribute to better safety performance so they can transfer their knowledge and extensive experience into products that save lives and improve overall industry performance.
For more information on the CSRC, the research results, to become a CSRC member, or to participate in future CSRC research projects, visit here.
Gleaners to Collect Food at 93 Southeast Michigan Kroger Stores in January
The Kroger Co. of Michigan and Gleaners Community Food Bank of Southeastern Michigan invite Kroger customers to give back and help feed hungry friends and neighbors during January.
Customers will be able to aid community members in need by contributing non-perishable food items during Gleaners’ food collection weekends at 93 Kroger stores in Wayne, Macomb, Oakland, Monroe, and Livingston counties this month. The food collection events are part of The Kroger Co.’s Zero Hunger | Zero Waste plan to end hunger in local communities and eliminate waste across the company by 2025.
On weekends starting Jan. 7 through Jan. 29, Kroger shoppers will be greeted by Gleaners volunteers distributing lists of needed nutritious foods and personal items for donation. Volunteers will collect customer donations on both Saturdays and Sundays between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Gleaners asks customers to donate items in boxes, cans, or plastic containers to prevent breakage during transport.
Food collection events are scheduled at select Kroger stores in the following counties on the dates listed:
“There are over 1.1 million residents facing hunger in our state, and these food drives are one of the many ways we can all lend a hand and give back,” says Cam Barrett, corporate affairs manager of The Kroger Co. of Michigan. “Each year, our Kroger customers show endless support of our efforts to end hunger in our communities and go above and beyond. We’re excited to see this impact come to life with the food donated to Gleaners, helping our customers and residents who may be in need.”
Gleaners requests nutritious items, along with personal care items, such as:
“We’re proud to be able to partner with Kroger once again to solve hunger and help neighbors across our local communities,” says Gerry Brisson, president and CEO of Gleaners Community Food Bank of Southeastern Michigan. “Every year, this food drive comes at a vital time when many of our partner agencies struggle to keep stock on their shelves to help households in need. It’s empowering that we can come together, help one another and take one worry off the table for families to start 2023 stronger.”
Editor: R.J. King
Associate Editor: Jake Bekemeyer

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