DBusiness Daily Update: Rocket Mortgage Classic Nets $1.35M for Area Nonprofits, and More

Our roundup of the latest news from metro Detroit and Michigan businesses as well as announcements from government agencies, including updates about the COVID-19 pandemic. To share a business or nonprofit story, please send us a message.
The Rocket Mortgage Classic at the Detroit Golf Club raised $1.35 million for local nonprofit organizations in 2021. // File photo
The Rocket Mortgage Classic at the Detroit Golf Club raised $1.35 million for local nonprofit organizations in 2021. // File photo

Our roundup of the latest news from metro Detroit and Michigan businesses as well as announcements from government agencies, including updates about the COVID-19 pandemic. To share a business or nonprofit story, please send us a message.

Rocket Mortgage Classic Nets $1.35M for Area Nonprofits

The Rocket Giving Fund (the nonprofit that manages the Rocket Mortgage Classic), in partnership with title sponsor Rocket Mortgage, today announced more than $1.35 million was raised in 2021 through Detroit’s third-annual PGA Tour event to support local nonprofits.

The organizations also announced $805,000 of these funds were directed and invested with community partners supporting the event’s “Changing the Course” initiative, which is working to end Detroit’s digital divide.

At the inception of the Changing the Course initiative, Detroit was rated the least connected large city in America. Through the work of partners Rocket Mortgage, Microsoft, the United Way for Southeastern Michigan, and others, more Detroiters are gaining access to the internet. In 2020, roughly 40 percent of Detroit households were digitally included.  Today that number has grown to 67.5 percent.

A digitally included household means at least one member in the household has a reliable broadband connection, a working non-smartphone computer/tablet and the knowledge of how to use it.

“It is our passion to use the Rocket Giving Fund as a force for change and an opportunity to bridge Detroit’s digital divide,” says Jay Farner, CEO of Rocket Cos. and the chairman of the Rocket Giving Fund. “The success of Changing the Course is measured by the number of Detroit families who are now able to access the internet as well as the brighter future digital inclusion provides. While we’ve already seen a near 70 percent improvement in the number of Detroiters with access to digital tools, we are driven even harder by this success to make an even greater impact through the 2022 event and beyond.”

The following donations were made by the Rocket Giving Fund to organizations in support of its Changing the Course initiative:

Rocket Mortgage invested $400,000 through the Rocket Mortgage Classic’s “AREA 313,” or holes 14-16 at the Detroit Golf Club. On the most charitable three holes in golf, golfers who scored a 3 on Hole 14 (an eagle) or a 3 on Hole 16 (a birdie) triggered a $5,000 donation to Changing the Course and golfers who scored a 1 on Hole 15 (a hole-in-one) generated a $25,000 donation.

“The success of the 2021 Rocket Mortgage is an incredible platform to increase digital inclusion for Detroiters in every neighborhood,” says Laura Grannemann, vice president of the Rocket Community Fund (the philanthropic partner of Rocket Cos.) and a Rocket Giving Fund board member. “Our Changing the Course initiative is driving real change, and we are committed to building on this momentum at this year’s event.”

The Rocket Giving Fund also made the following disbursements:

  • $109,828 to the Greater Palmer Park Community
  • $437,169 to Birdies for Charity

“We’re grateful to work alongside such dedicated partners who all share the same vision and tirelessly work toward achieving it,” says Jason Langwell, executive director of the Rocket Mortgage Classic. “The continued support of the countless individuals and organizations involved in the Rocket Mortgage Classic allows us to continue Changing the Course across Detroit.”

The Changing the Course mission is largely executed by the Connect 313 Fund, which was founded through the 2020 Rocket Mortgage Classic and is rooted in the city of Detroit’s digital inclusion strategy. The Connect 313 Fund is a coordinating mechanism for all digital inclusion stakeholders driving collectively toward the singular vision of bridging the digital divide.

“We are well on our way to realizing the dream of every Detroiter having access to the internet, technology, and digital literacy training within a 10 minute walk of their home,” says Joshua Edmonds, Chief Advocate for Connect 313 and the City of Detroit’s Director of Digital Inclusion. “The Rocket Mortgage Classic is more than just a funding partner, they are a thought partner. Together we work to change lives through digital inclusion every day.”

The PGA Tour and Rocket Mortgage recently announced an extension of the title sponsorship for the Rocket Mortgage Classic through 2027. The fourth-annual Rocket Mortgage Classic will be played July 25-31 at the Detroit Golf Club.

BorgWarner North American Controls Renamed Solero Technologies

BorgWarner’s North American Controls business, acquired by Atar Capital Dec. 31, 2021, has been renamed Solero Technologies, effective immediately.

The business is a leading global supplier of transmission solenoids, engine solenoids, stop-start accumulators, and hydraulic control modules. The Water Valley, Miss. manufacturing site, along with related sales and engineering operations in Detroit, now will operate under the Solero Technologies corporate identity, a name inspired by the company’s products and solutions for a cleaner environment.

“The Solero Technologies name is inspired by our iconic product,” says Board Director Ramzi Hermiz, interim CEO of the company. “Together, the name and brand reinforce the energy and collaboration that Solero Technologies brings to all we do. The logo’s interlocking rings honor the solenoid’s coils and highlight the importance of our communities and partnerships.”

In developing the new name, the Atar Capital team brought together a broad cross-functional team from both Water Valley and Detroit to provide input on the company’s heritage, core values, current market position and future vision. The Water Valley facility has served the automotive industry for more than 50 years, starting as a Ram Tool Plant, later purchased by Holley Carburetor Co. The facility was acquired by BorgWarner in 1996.

“Our new operations, independent of BorgWarner, allow us to have a singular focus on growing our solenoid business across existing and new markets,” Hermiz says. “Our customers trust in our highly skilled team members to provide solenoid solutions for their complex design challenges. We work in partnership with these customers to achieve the highest level of efficiency and product performance.”

Atar Capital is a Los Angeles-based global private investment firm that prioritizes companies that are socially and environmentally conscious.

“Solero Technologies primarily serves the automotive industry today,” says Cyrys Nikou, managing partner of Atar Capital. “Our products and technologies will benefit other systems to operate smoother and more efficiently, expanding the impact of our core offerings, in the future. We look forward to exploring opportunities for our products with electric vehicles, commercial vehicles, industrial applications and other applications related to fluid flow control.”

Solero Technologies employs more than 450 individuals in both Water Valley and Detroit. It is the largest employer in Mississippi’s Yalobusha County, where the Water Valley facility resides.

Detroit City Distillery Triples Pączki Day Vodka Production

Detroit City Distillery (DCD) is continuing to produce its Pączki Day Vodka (PDV) at a record rate, with a goal of tripling production in 2022 for this year’s limited-edition release. Additionally, DCD will make a Pączki Head Seltzer, made from PDV, and bring back popular bottled cocktails, the Polish Bloody and Polish Daisy.

This year, PDV will be hand packaged in a glass bottle from Poland. PDV, seltzer, and bottled cocktails sales begin online at 8 a.m. Feb. 11.

Pączki Day Vodka is distilled with fresh-baked raspberry pączki from Hamtramck’s New Palace Bakery.

“Every year, we try to outdo ourselves and add a surprise or two that gets people fired up for the release,” says Michael Forsyth, co-owner of Detroit City Distillery. “We decided Pączki Day Vodka needed its very own seltzer to make the ultimate Pączki Party pairing.

“Also, this year, despite supply-chain issues involving glass bottles, we were able to source a bottle directly from Poland to make Pączki Day Vodka extra special. It literally arrived just in time, and we are so glad we can offer it this year to our die-hard fans among the Polish community. We know they’ll appreciate this unique touch, just like we do.”

The Pączki Head Seltzer comes in limited-edition four-packs at $14 each.

The Polish Daisy bottled cocktail featuring Pączki Day Vodka, Cocchi, vanilla, and lemon; and The Polish Bloody Mary, featuring Srodek’s freshly ground, homemade horseradish distilled in polish potato vodka.

DCD is hosting a Paczki Day Party at the Detroit City Distillery Tasting Room (2462 Riopelle St. in Eastern Market) from 10 a.m.-11 p.m. on Feb. 26. The events will feature local Polish music, food, and Paczki Day Vodka.

AVL Renames North American Division to Reflect Mobility Leadership

AVL, the independent automotive development, simulation, and testing company in Plymouth Township, has renamed its North American Powertrain Engineering division as AVL Mobility Technologies Inc.

“As a company, we have moved well past traditional powertrains and now our name reflects our strength in new technologies,” says Stephan Tarnutzer, president of AVL Mobility Technologies Inc. “At AVL, we create a better world by driving the trends of tomorrow through our technology leadership in sustainable mobility solutions.”

The division renaming also kicks off an initiative for the company to bring further awareness to the shift in mobility trends.

Gage Growth Corp. Launches Pure Beauty Products in Michigan Stores

Detroit-based Gage Growth Corp. is launching products from Pure Beauty line starting Feb. 11.

Gage previously announced an exclusive five-year partnership agreement in July 2021 with Pure Beauty to produce, process, wholesale and retail the brand’s products in Michigan.

Pure Beauty is a California-based boutique cannabis brand that combines art and culture with sustainable and social justice practices. The launch will include Pure Beauty’s signature product, Babies, a 10 pack of 100 percent whole flower mini joints packaged in a sustainable plant starch mylar bag and will be available in Sativa, Hybrid, and Indica options.

“We are excited to be introducing Pure Beauty products and experiences to Michigan and with Gage, a state and a partner we feel incredibly aligned with,” says Imelda Walavalkar, CEO of Pure Beauty. “Michigan is culturally and artistically thriving, so we feel confident it is a population that will embrace our products and ethos. And we know Gage can consistently execute to our high standards — so the Pure Beauty consumer in Michigan is getting the same experience as the Pure Beauty consumer in California — while also advancing our shared values around the environment and social justice.”

Charter Growth Capital Fund Invests in West Michigan PR Firm

Grand Rapids-based Charter Growth Capital Fund (CGCF) has made an unspecified investment resulting in a minority position in Lambert Global, the holding company for the Lambert public relations, investor relations, and integrated marketing firm and its growing family of companies. Founder and chairman Jeff Lambert retains the majority share.

Lambert says proceeds from the debt and equity investment will be used to fund future growth, including stanring up new practice areas, recruiting leaders to its key talent hubs in Michigan, Arizona, New York, and Texas, and accelerating its active M&A activity.

The company has posted a compound annual growth rate of more than 20 percent over the past five years and made acquisitions or investments in all its talent hubs during that timeframe as well as St. Louis in 2021. Lambert recently completed its fifth total-growth transaction within a three-year period, strengthening its integrated service offerings and expanding its talent bench.

“Our mission is to provide capital to industry-leading companies that will maximize our investment and Lambert is a company on a path to do just that,” says John Kerschen, managing director of CGCF. “The investment thesis was compelling based on their track record of both organic and acquisition growth, as well as industry-first innovation, and we expect to see another 20 percent growth year in 2022.”

Pontiac’s Notre Dame Middle School is ‘Shaking Things Up’

Notre Dame Middle School will be hosting its first Amazing Shake event, a program designed as a fun way to teach young students etiquette and the social competency skills necessary for success both inside and outside the classroom.

One of the first things young professionals learn as they head out from college to the working world is that a firm handshake is essential for success. A firm handshake makes a good first impression and can open doors.

But even though the more than two years of the COVID-19 pandemic have put a serious damper on human-to-human interaction, the idea that we will come out of it sooner than later and return to a more normal way of living is slowly gaining steam.

That is why administrators at Notre Dame Middle School in Pontiac decided to move forward with the school’s first Amazing Shake event on Feb. 11 when eighth graders will spend the day working the room, negotiating business deals, making presentations, and mastering a proper handshake.

The Amazing Shake program was created nearly five years ago at the Ron Clark Academy, a middle school located in Atlanta, Ga., that was founded by its namesake, Ron Clark, and co-founder Kim Bearden. The school has students in the fourth through eighth grades from a wide range of economic backgrounds.

“We are super excited to host this event at our school for the first time,” says Brandon Jezdimir, principal of Notre Dame Middle School. “It’s a huge opportunity for our kids to learn many of the hard and soft skills necessary for success outside of the classroom.”

Jezdimir says the first part of the exercise involves two rounds of The Gauntlet, which include a series of scenario stations manned by adult professionals where points are earned based on charisma, confidence, poise under pressure, common sense, eye contact, and their handshake.

COVID-19 protocols are in place and more than 30 stations will be set up in the gym at Notre Dame for the first round of the event.

Seventy middle-school students begin by running through the stations with scenarios ranging from a corporate job interview and a guest appearance on a TV talk show to a press conference and one where students will be put in charge of a city that has only autonomous cars.

After a break, the top 15 students proceed to round two, called Work the Room, where 11 of the professional volunteers will dive even deeper into interviewing and assessing the students.

Ultimately, after two more rounds, one Notre Dame eighth grader is declared the winner and he or she will be registered to compete in Atlanta, Ga., against the top performers from around the country in March at Ron Clark Academy’s Amazing Shake national competition.

Organizations Partner to Bring Family Support Program to Children’s Hospital

Priority Health is partnering with the March of Dimes to bring the March of Dimes NICU Family Support Program to Children’s Hospital of Michigan. The program helps support more than 50,000 families each year in more than 65 hospital partner sites by increasing families’ knowledge and confidence to care for their baby while in the NICU.

In 2019, the March of Dimes reported that one in seven babies (14.6 percent of live births) was born preterm in Detroit. This is one of the reasons why the NICU Family Support Program is a vital resource to improve the long-term health of NICU graduates of Children’s Hospital of Michigan.

The partnership was made possible through a grant made by the Total Health Care Foundation. Founded through the merger of Priority Health and Total Health Care in 2019, the Total Health Care Foundation provides grants to organizations dedicated to fighting health disparities throughout southeast Michigan.

“Having a newborn in the NICU is something no parent ever wants to go through,” says Shannon Wilson, vice president of state markets, east at Priority Health. “That is why programs like the March of Dimes’ NICU Family Support Program are so critical for families, providers, and the community.”

NICU Family Support services are built around three main areas: parent education, staff education, and improving the patient and family experience. An evaluated parent education curriculum with seven topic choices to meet a variety of NICU parent education needs is provided, and all content is reviewed annually for medical accuracy and health literacy standards.

Additionally, March of Dimes offers complementary resources for families, including the My NICU Baby App that provide answers to common NICU questions and interactive tracking tools, checklists, videos, and community support in English and Spanish. A series of web articles also can help cover the basic of a NICU stay.

Hospital staff education have access to on-demand 13 topic webinar series with free CNEs and NICU Grand Round presentations on trending topics in patient experience, family centered care, quality improvement and NICU best practices. The program provides quality improvement consulting on unit specific goals to impact patient experience and family centered care, including annual Patient Experience Projects and connection to the network of NICU Family Support partner hospitals.

For more information, visit here.

New Day Foundation for Families Receives Children’s Foundation Grant

New Day Foundation for Families in Rochester Hills has received an unspecified a grant from the Children’s Foundation to help fund expanded emotional support services to children facing cancer themselves or in their families.

At a time when hospitals face staffing shortages and offer little or no mental health support for children, New Day provides professional counseling sessions that can lead to improved treatment outcomes for families facing cancer. The nonprofit recently added Program Director Jenny Moeller to its staff and has expanded its network of professional counselors to fill a gap in cancer care.

“Grief happens for the family at the moment of a cancer diagnosis,” Moeller says. “It’s important that we start talking and recognizing it at that point. Our goal is to offer emotional support, guidance, and action steps to help families cope. Our therapists help facilitate challenging conversations that need to happen. The sessions can be an outlet for things that a child needs to discuss but can’t talk about with parents or siblings.”

Pediatric cancer has significant and enduring implications on the financial and emotional well-being of an entire family. Cancer disrupts life, causing patients, caregivers, parents/guardians, and siblings to experience suffering, pain, and emotional trauma. The effects can range from anxiety, fear, and grief to loss of normalcy, financial distress, and post-traumatic stress. For those who do not have adequate resources to process their feelings about what they are experiencing, serious trauma can result.

For more information, visit here.