Hometown Heroes 2015

. July 31, 2015.
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We are here to celebrate local heroes of a more ordinary variety—the innovative entrepreneurs, great managers, and caring professionals who live and work in Washtenaw County. Check out their stories and see what they have to offer you.
 

Lupe quetglas
Owner

Tortilla Factory
727 W Ellsworth Rd, Ann Arbor
(734) 973-9824 | www.annarbortortilla.com

What I do:

I make tortillas from scratch and corn chips using Non-GMO ingredients.

How I started:

We had the desire to make fresh, healthy tortillas and went to Mexico to learn how to make them.

Hardest lesson learned:

Business is a different world from that of a stay-at home mom!

I couldn’t be successful without:

The encouragement of my family, friends and customers.

Best part about my job:

Dealing with all kinds of people, most of them really wonderful.

My favorite local establishment:

Too many to pick one 🙂
 


Rob TerBush
Owner, GM

Holiday’s Restaurant
2080 W Stadium Blvd, Ann Arbor
(734) 668-1292 | www.holidaysrestaurant.com

What I do:

From prepping our famous pies and catering items to taking orders and cleaning bathrooms, along with gardening our 150+plants, herbs, and flowers.

How I started:

We moved to A2 after Eastern Michigan University in 1996. Signed a purchase agreement for current location. We had aSoft open of Holiday’s in late February of 1997, with our official opening on St. Patrick’s Day 1997.

Hardest lesson learned:

Never start a business with insufficient capital.

I couldn’t be successful without:

Wonderful, hard working and caring staff.

Best part of my job:

Interacting with the best customers in the world.

Favorite local establishment:

Besides Holiday’s, Stadium Hardware.
 


Mike Flore
Owner

The Arena Sports Bar
203 E Washington St, Ann Arbor
(734) 222-9999 | www.thearenaa2.com

What I do:

I run the best sports bar/restaurant in Ann Arbor. I cook, I bus tables, I bartend, I mop floors, I wait tables, I do everything when it is needed and nothing when I’m not needed.

Hardest lesson learned:

Everything is my fault, whether I did it or not.

I couldn’t be successful without:

My understanding wife and my great employees.

Best part of the job:

The people I meet. Over the years a lot of them have become like family.

My favorite local establishment:

Mine, I think I would be crazy to not say that, right?
 


Keith Largin
Asst. Manager, Custom Jewelry Specialist

Lewis Jewelers
2000 W Stadium Blvd, Ann Arbor
(734) 994-5111 | www.lewisjewlers.com

What I do:

Jewelry sales and design for almost 20 years.

How I started:

I was 19 and switched from selling shoes to jewelry at Briarwood Mall.

Hardest lesson learned:

How to keep employees motivated.

I couldn’t be successful without:

1) A great owner who believes in their people and let’s them do their job. 2) A great team environment, non-commissioned so everyone has the client’s best interest at heart.

Best part of my job:

For me, jewelry is a way of keeping memories alive. I am entrusted with items from our customer’s past, which is an honor to be a part of.

My favorite local establishment:

Knights, both old location and new location.
 


Annette Weathers
Owner

Bona Sera
200 W Michigan Ave, Ypsilanti
(734) 340-6335 | www.eatypsi.com

What I do:

Name it. Everything from dishes to ordering to cooking to maintenance. And wine tasting, of course.

How I started:

We began as an underground supper club in 2009 and found our space here in Ypsi while searching for a venue for an underground dinner party.

Hardest lesson learned:

That you can’t do it all. You need great support from the people around you.

I couldn’t be successful without:

My staff and customers and gracious help of other small business owners in my area.

Best part about my job:

Providing employment is hugely satisfying. And creating specials keep us in touch with the wild side of food!

My favorite local establishment:

Sidetracks, Wolverine, Tap Room, Mix, and many more.
 


Diana “Dina” Sheldon
Owner

A2 Yoga
2030 Commerce Blvd, Ann Arbor
(734) 216-4006 | www.a2yoga.net

What we do:

Over twenty teachers and staff share their passion for yoga and Nia teaching over thirty five weekly classes, including three free community donation based classes that support local non-profits.

How we started:

I was discovered as a yoga model for a local business, YogaPro when I was 17. However, I decided at the time to pursue my college degree, I encouraged my sister to start her practice. She blossomed as a yogini and business entrepreneur, starting A2 Yoga over 15 years ago. When I finished my Masters at Eastern, I took over the helm. As a sister duo, we make a great team.

Hardest lesson learned:

Balancing a business and breast cancer diagnosis. Life got "real" fast and it's awesome to work at the best place to heal.

Advice for local business owners:

Remember to love and support our local community.

We couldn't be successful without:

The phenomenal teachers and dedicated staff encouraging students both on and off the mat.

Best part about owning your own business:

The relationships. It's humbling when the people you support by being in business rally around you when you need it most. With sincerity, thank you for all the wonderful energy.
 


Jess Franklin, D.V.M.

Ann Arbor Animal Hospital
2150 W Liberty St, Ann Arbor
(734) 662-4474 | www.annarboranimalhospital.com

What I do:

I am an Associate Veterinarian at Ann Arbor Animal Hospital. I manage health issues for dogs and cats, seeing both sick animals, and overseeing long term problems and routine care for dogs and cats in the Ann Arbor area.

How I started:

I have been a small animal veterinarian at Ann Arbor Animal Hospital since 1986. I spent my first year after graduating from Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine in a Food Animal Internship at Michigan State University. My first private practice experience, starting in 1979, was a mixed practice in Monroe County, seeing dairy cows, horses, llamas, as well as dogs and cats. I continued a part time farm animal practice of horses and llamas until 2 years ago.

Hardest lesson learned:

The hardest part of working is not working. This spring I took 2 weeks vacation to be with my oldest daughter during the birth of twins. That was the first two weeks off I have taken in many years.

I couldn’t be successful without:

Our Animal Hospital is a 24 hour facility with terrific diagnostic facilities. This means I can take a sick animal in for treatment, or planned surgery at any time of day. Lab work can be done in house, for immediate answers or sent out to a great national laboratory for overnight results.

Best part of my job:

I get to play detective, finding out what’s wrong and fixing it. The tools of physical exam, x-ray, ultrasound, and blood and urine tests can often change a sick cat losing weight into a pet with a treatable medical condition.

My favorite local establishment:

Dunning Toyota, A2 Yoga, and Zahn’s Autobody.
 


Mike Mosser
General Manager, Executive Manager

Suburban Chevrolet Cadillac
3515 Jackson Rd, Ann Arbor
(734) 663-3321

What I do:

I manage two dealerships—184 staff and 17 managers. We are in the people business!

How I started:

I was a manager for Art Van and one of my sales people was a little older than I was and had been a manager in a car dealership and told me I needed to get in the car business. After a few years of hearing that, I took a run at it and the rest is history.

Hardest lesson learned:

I was 19 and left my family to go into the Army.

I couldn’t be successful without:

My wife. She has a background in executive training and development, and through the years I have used her knowledge in my career.

Best part about my job:

I get to take care of people. I also get to be a part of a great community and have the opportunity to give back to the community we live and work in.
 


Marc Taras
(With Jeff Taras, right, Co-Owners)

PJ’s Records and Used CDs
617 Packard St # B, Ann Arbor
(734) 663-3441

What I do:

I try to learn how to love better. I share the world of music. But anyone can do that.

How I got started:

Mom sang to us. My folks had a small LP library—Dylan, Ellington, Lionel Hampton, Nat King Cole, Toscanini Beethoven Symphony cycle.

Hardest lesson learned:

I don’t know. Love and mercy. Faith. It’s not about me. Everybody hurts and gets the blues. You don’t miss your water until your well runs dry.

I couldn’t be successful without:

Support from On High. The love and patience and kind help of brother Jeff, Big Steve, and the good-folk customers who love, support and tolerate me.

Best part of my job:

Oh, man! The music! What could be better, right? How about this? When the customers are excited and moved by the music. Oh yeah!

My favorite local establishment:

Nick’s Pancake House. Wonderful people, great food, large portions, terrific coffee. Did I say beautiful people? Yeah? Good.
 


Anya Siglin
Program Director at The Ark

The Ark
316 S Main St, Ann Arbor
(734) 761-1451 | www.theark.org

What I do:

I book the artists for The Ark and the Ann Arbor Folk Festival.

How I started:

I grew up (literally!) at the first Ark on Hill Street. After working other jobs I came back home to The Ark. 21 years ago and worked in various roles before becoming Program Director in 2007.

Hardest lesson learned:

Every venue’s audience is different. A fabulous artist selling well in one place doesn’t guarantee the same sales in your venue.

I couldn’t be successful without:

My colleagues at The Ark and the booking agents and managers I work with.

Best part about my job:

Meeting wonderful artists, getting to hear the music and sharing it with the community as a nonprofit organization.

My favorite local establishment:

The Ark, of course, and I love so many of our neighbors in the Main Street area.
 


Keith Hafner
Owner

Hafner Karate
214 S Main St, Ann Arbor
(734) 994-0333 | www.karateisgoodforyou.com

What I do:

Find ways to spread our message of happiness, health, and confidence in our community

How I started:

I started as a 16 year old at this school, and bought it from my teacher when I was 22.

Hardest lesson learned:

Going back to the early 1970's, we were a hard core fighting school. It took a long time to move away from that and to develop a friendship based approach.

I couldn’t be successful without:

My family and my team! My wife Renee, my sons, Jason & Ian, our teaching staff, including Terry Brennan and Joel Dornbush.

Best part about my job:

Seeing the joy in the faces of parents as they see their children, as a result of our lessons, grow in self-confidence, focus, and respect.

My favorite local establishment:

Downtown itself. I've worked my entire life right here on this block!
 


Lisa Morden, Rob and Amy Bulszewicz

Aubree’s
8031 Main St #101, Dexter, MI
(734) 424-1400 | www.aubrees.com

What we do:

Provide fresh products and great service to the Dexter community. We not only want to exceed expectations of quality, service, and atmosphere, we also take pride in supporting local schools and charities.

How we started:

This is the first franchise of an amazing faamily owned business. Our goal from the start was to provide top-quality meals at a reasonable price in a casual environment. Our menu began with gourmet pizza, fresh baked breads, salads, pub sandwiches, and burgers. We always take pride in serving our guests like they are family.

Advice for local business:

Get involved with your community and help give back to the local schools.

Best part about owning your own business:

I love that everyday is filled with new challenges and new opportunities to make my business better. I’m able to provide local jobs in a positive and fun atmosphere.

We couldn’t be successful without:

Loyal customers and my wonderful staff.

Favorite local Business:

Dexter Bakery.

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