Category: Business

How West Michigan Bank Shows ‘Importance of Being Good Neighbor’

Ada Delgado doesn’t have blond hair. Nor does she wear wooden shoes. Yet, the Holland woman of Puerto Rican descent is serving as vice-chairwoman of the annual Tulip Time Festival.

Ada Delgado

Ada Delgado

Her primary role: Make sure the popular event rooted in the community’s Dutch heritage is “inclusive of what Holland is today” by involving a range of community groups.

“I’m a true testament that you don’t have to be Dutch to be part of Tulip Time,” said Delgado, who works as a retail operations consultant for Holland-based Macatawa Bank.

Striving to ensure the entire community gets to participate in Tulip Time is a fitting task for Delgado, given Macatawa Bank’s emphasis on community service. The bank has been recognized for the past eight consecutive years as one of “West Michigan’s 101 Best and Brightest Companies to Work For” due in part to this guiding principle: We believe our responsibility is to support our community with our time, talents and resources.

That principle enables Delgado and hundreds of other Macatawa Bank employees to participate in community events and causes that are important to them. For example, Delgado has been active with Latin Americans United for Progress (LAUP) as a translator, volunteer coordinator and youth mentor, in addition to her work with Tulip Time.

In both cases, Delgado’s community involvement has been nurtured by Macatawa Bank.

“During my 14 years with Macatawa Bank I have not only had the opportunity to serve, but I have received the encouragement and support to get involved and be a part of what I believe in,” Delgado said. “I feel at home working for an organization that truly believes in giving back to the community and in letting our employees volunteer their time and talents for local organizations that matter to them.”

Macatawa Bank employees are active across West Michigan where the bank has 26 locations in Kent, Ottawa and Allegan counties. The bank also runs community events on its own, such as this spring’s annual Recycle Days.

Cars lined up at the bank’s Riley Street branch in Holland shortly after Tax Day when more than 20 bank employees wearing orange T-shirts helped unload boxes of confidential documents and securely destroy them in a Rapid Shred truck. Several other Macatawa Bank branches also made shredding trucks available to both customers and non-customers in April.

“Our annual Recycle Days event is something everyone looks forward to every year – employees and the community alike,” said Jodi Sevigny, chief marketing officer for Macatawa Bank. “Our employees love the chance to serve their community by taking in sensitive documents and shredding them right on site. Our community is so appreciative that we can help them keep their identity secure, while at the same time helping to care for our environment.

“The local leaders that founded Macatawa Bank had a vision of what a true community bank could be. Today, we still live that vision.”

Macatawa Bank’s foundation of community support translates into daily banking operations, too. A full suite of banking services has been built with the needs of customers at the forefront, and decisions are made right here in West Michigan where the bank’s customers live and work.

In fact, wanting to work for a community-based bank with closer ties to customers was a big reason Andy Schmidt came to Macatawa Bank six years ago after more than two decades working for large regional banks. With a local management team making decisions, Macatawa Bank empowers Schmidt to look beyond the numbers and develop more personal relationships with his customers.

Andrew Schmidt

Andrew Schmidt

As printed on the orange shirts worn by Macatawa Bank’s Recycle Days volunteers, “we’re not revolutionizing banking, we’re humanizing it.”

“When you work with smaller, family-owned businesses, you become a much more valuable resource to them,” said Schmidt, a commercial relationship manager. “You become part of their team that helps plan their business. You get to know their kids, their spouse. They think of you as one of their key advisors.

“It’s a much more fulfilling occupation when you know you’re helping someone achieve their goals.”

That opportunity to come alongside West Michigan businesses only comes along if the community itself is thriving and successful. So, it makes sense that Macatawa Bank goes out of its way to support the community through events such as Recycle Days and so many other ways that employees volunteer their time.

Another of Macatawa Bank’s guiding principles states that we believe West Michigan is the best place to live and work. Schmidt believes that, and he’s doing his part to make sure it rings true for as many people as possible.

“In West Michigan, we understand the importance of being a good neighbor,” said Schmidt, who also serves on the board of Grand Rapids Civic Theatre. “We recognize that we’re all connected, and that the health of our businesses, our families and our community all depend on us caring for and helping each other.”

Dining out experiences: Learn about Lansing restaurateurs’ view on food, life

It won’t take long after meeting Sam Short to realize that his effusive personality makes a stranger feel like a long-time friend in minutes.

And his Potent Potables restaurants – Punk Taco, Zoobie’s Old Town Tavern, The Cosmos and The Creole – were created with the same spirit, providing an engaging look at food, people and the life around them.

Sam, who is one of three partners in the Lansing gathering spots with Aaron Matthews and Alan Hooper, recently sat down with MLive’s John Gonzalez and Amy Sherman to talk about what makes the restaurants hum, how they’ve connected with employees and made a difference in the lives of others.

“There’s a movement toward locally owned restaurants, but that only goes so far if you’re not doing something that sets you apart and makes an impact, and that’s what we’re trying to do,” Sam said off-camera.

“If I’m going out and spending my money at a restaurant, I’m going for an experience. It should be a bit nostalgic, fun-filled, a bit geeky. So, our focus is on delivering happiness. We just sell food. The thing that differentiates us is our people. That’s why we focus on them and helping them grow and give the community what it wants.”

The entrepreneurs have created establishments with a neighborhood vibe and a focus on chef-driven, fresh food. The teams at each restaurant curate menus to challenge their skills and extend the palate of guests. The parameters, Sam said, are: “We want (the chefs) to make it interesting.”

Everything at the restaurants is hand-made, Sam said. That includes dressings, cheeses, breads and more.

“We do it because we’re geeked about food,” he said. “To us, it’s important that the food doesn’t come out of a can or a box, that it’s not the same as you get everywhere else. We ask ourselves ‘how can we make this better,’ whether that’s a sausage that goes on a pizza or a tortilla for a taco.”

Sam and his partners want the food to stand-out in the same manner they seek to create a work environment that cultivates and incentivizes employees to be their best. They offer benefits, such as a wellness program, 401k match and flexible spending accounts, not often available in the food industry. There are also opportunities to reward and recognize fellow employees – with financial bonuses – by noting how they’ve pitched in to help their colleagues.

“We try to think as holistically as possible,” Sam said, adding they also have reciprocal discounts at a yoga studio and other local establishments. “We want to motivate and reward people. If you want to learn something and grow as a person, we’ll help you. We have kitchen managers that started as dishwashers, but they wanted to do more than that. That’s exciting, and we encourage that.

“The thing people need is a passion about food. That’s number one. We can teach you other things, but people need to be engaged and interested.”

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