January-February 2011

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Business Features

Fine of the Times

At the 34th District Court on Wayne Road in Romulus, the cash register begins ringing early most weekday mornings as dozens of motorists and lawyers, traffic tickets in hand, line up to play the Downriver court’s version of Let’s Make A Deal.

Magna Force

Frank Stronach has gone home for the holidays. Home as in Austria, that is — the once war-tattered country where he was raised before setting sail as a teenager, bound for a new country and a new life that, six decades later, he admits he couldn’t have imagined.

The Birth of Industry

Detroit in 1850 exhibited little in the way of mechanical ingenuity. The fur trade was fading as the city’s chief export, replaced by salted fish. The population of 21,019 had developed a fairly robust agricultural market, and the timber industry was starting to catch on.

Where Are They Now?

Former Big 3 Executives (2007-10)

Chrysler Group LLC 2011

Chrysler posted better-than-expected financial results from Jan.-Sept. 2010 while raising its forecast. Chrysler says it expects to make a pre-tax profit of $700 million in 2010, up from $200 million previously.

The Brain Gain

The government restructured the auto industry; now it needs to restructure immigration. Why is that important for Michigan?

Ford Motor Co. 2011

In 2010, Ford gained U.S. market share and was able to sell its cars and truck at higher prices. In October, the automaker made a final payment to the UAW’s retiree health care trust fund. The automaker recently introduced the 2011 Ford Explorer.

General Motors Co. 2011

In January, General Motors CEO Dan Akerson is scheduled to be elected chairman, replacing Ed Whitacre. GM remains the No.1 car company in the United States. In 2010, for the first time it sold more vehicles in China than in America.

Engage and Enhance

For years, Habitat for Humanity Oakland County rolled out its affordable home program with little deviation — put out a call for corporate donors, gather volunteers, build or renovate dwellings, and hand the keys over to needy families.

Pop Pop, Fizz Fizz

When a 50-year-old dormitory at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor developed severe plumbing problems — water flow had slowed to a trickle — a school management team budgeted $11 million to replace the entire system.

PDA Q&A: Gary Burkart

Baby, You Can Drive My Virtual Car

Forget expensive prototypes. Realtime Technology in Royal Oak can project a 3-D image of a concept vehicle and make it appear to hug a hairpin turn or accelerate through a straightaway.

Forward Observer

In business or in battle, David T. Maccagnone isn’t afraid to advance. The CEO of Multi-Bank Securities Inc. in Pleasant Ridge, which invests funds on behalf of banks, credit unions, and other institutions, says the success of his firm — it was cited in Inc. magazine’s 2010 list of the 5,000 fastest-growing companies — is due, in large part, to his military experiences.

Auto App

Is it possible to buy a car using an Apple iPad? The answer is yes, thanks to Mercedes-Benz Financial in Farmington Hills, which developed an online sales tool for the German automaker’s 355 dealerships in the United States — an industry first.

Global Speak

Jason and Michael Teshuba are used to navigating different business models. In 2002, the siblings designed and built websites for a variety of clients. Two years later, they began offering language-learning services, although publisher royalties cut into their profits.
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From the Magazine

Cadillac Man

Sailing for England in 1895, William E. Metzger carried letters of introduction from Detroit and New York bankers, but after almost two weeks in London, he remained uninvited to the horseless carriage exhibition he’d traveled so far to see.

The Little Engine That Could

What downtown Detroit has in abundance is potential. Offering one of the nation’s most impressive collections of office structures built prior to 1940, the central business district is an architectural playground ripe for a turnaround.
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