Tag Archives: GMRENCEN

10 Reasons Why Franco is Cool

Franco was recently named as one of Crain’s Cool Places to Work so we wanted to let the world know our favorite things about working here. We asked around the office to figure out what makes Franco so cool.

1.Franco is friendly

“I think Franco is cool because we get to work with so many awesome clients and get to see them grow/develop over time! I also think Franco is awesome because of our luncheons and snacks in the kitchen!! The culture of Franco is excellent and I feel like I can ask anybody anything at any time.” James Youness, public relations coordinator

elevator-selfie

2. Franco cares

“The people are what make Franco cool. When I interview potential new employees and interns, we get a lot of questions about the culture here. The first thing I always say is that we all genuinely care about each other – and that’s from the CEO down. What’s more is that we actually spend time with each other outside of work.” Ann Marie Fortunate, account supervisor

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3. We always have food

“Being a new employee can be scary but I know Franco is a cool place because of how warm and welcoming everyone is. Also, you’ll never go hungry here, we’re always getting some good food!” Rachel Burnard, public relations coordinator

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4. We do cool activities

“Franco is a cool place to work because  the agency truly makes an investment into its employees’ success. From small things like snacks to spontaneous group ice cream runs to massages for the floor, it shows that Franco is willing to go above and beyond to keep employees happy and motivated.” Geoff Geist, digital marketing specialist

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5. Our office is in a cool location

“Since the GMRENCEN is one of our clients, our team helped to coordinate food trucks next to the RenCen all summer. I’m not sure why, but ordering and eating food out of a truck makes me so happy! We also planned yoga on the roof of the Beaubien parking garage multiple times this summer, which I was more than happy to participate in.” Jennifer Spears, assistant account executive

js-ad-at-rooftop-yoga

6. Franco gives back

“We have a number of opportunities to give back to the community through service including helping clients like The Salvation Army, TedXDetroit and the Belle Isle Conservancy, serving on organizations like PRSA and IABC, and participating in programs like Grow Detroit Young Talent.” Elizabeth Robbins-Sabourin, account manager

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7. Franco loves Detroit

“Franco is cool because our office is in the GMRENCEN, right off of the water. Our views are beautiful and we’re right in the middle of the hustle and bustle of Detroit. I think it’s great that Franco didn’t just come to Detroit when it started to be recognized as “cool.” We’ve been here since the beginning.” Adriane Davis, digital marketing specialist

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8. Franco = family

“At Franco we function more like a family than just co-workers. Whether it’s a client project or planning a wedding, we are always there to collaborate and help each other out!” Erica Swoish, senior account executive

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9. We value each other

“We are cool because we respect and value our employees and clients.” Tina Sullivan, senior vice president

10. Franco is a team

“I think the team captured the reasons why Franco is cool, but if I had to put it into one word, it would be “team.” I consider our clients and our employees as one big team that makes this place cool. We’re lucky to work with clients that reflect Franco’s values, and with teammates that truly care about one another. We are teammates in every sense of the word. We happily help each other when needed, celebrate our successes together, laugh and cry together, and work together to solve problems. I always say we have the best team in town, and I truly believe it. It’s great to be cool, and it’s awesome to be Franco!” Tina Kozak, president

Franco On The Town – June Edition

The month of June was filled with events in Detroit, a perfect reminder of the commitment Franco has to continue serving this city.

Erica and Stephanie Bowen from the Belle Isle Conservancy lent a helping hand to call and direct the program with the audio / visual crew at this year’s Grand Prixmiere.

ES at Grand Prixmiere

Pat and client Katy Wyerman working Grand Prixmiere.

PAJ at Grand Prixmiere 2

Mary, Sarah, Marie and Lauren gather in front of a Grand Prix Indy Car before the 2016 Belle Isle Grand Prixmiere in support of Franco client, the Belle Isle Conservancy. Other notable guests in attendance at the Grand Prixmiere included General Motors Chairman and CEO Mary Barra, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and Michigan Governor Rick Snyder.

MP, SK, MS, LC at Grand Prixmiere

Elizabeth and Sasha worked the kickoff event of On the Plaza featuring a performance by country artist Matt Gary and Michigan singer-songwriter Audrey Ray, with the help of NASH-FM. On the Plaza is a 17-week summer series of free entertainment, activities, food trucks and more on the GM Plaza from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Tuesday and Thursday through September 29.

ERS, SR at On the Plaza

Marie was onsite for the Travel Channel’s Delicious Destinations shoot at the original Buddy’s Pizza on the corner of Six Mile and Conant.MS at Buddy's for Travel ChannelElizabeth and Sarah were both at Opportunity Detroit for client interviews- Elizabeth with CBRE and Sarah with Buddy’s and HOUR Detroit that day.

ERS and SK at Opportunity Detroit

The month of June brought Franco three new team members. Meet our newest additions!

Rene Cizio, account manager. Rene’s diverse background in news, PR, and social media in both corporate and agency settings with B2B and consumer clients make her a triple threat when you need a great idea and a plan to execute it. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from University of Michigan-Dearborn.  She is also a graduate of the Southern Wayne County Regional Chamber of Commerce Leadership 21 program, which educates and develops a diverse, select group of emerging leaders in southern Wayne County.

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Jennifer Spears, assistant account executive. Jennifer has a professional background in marketing and journalism, and served as an Americorps member with City Year Detroit, working as a tutor in a Detroit public high school and organizing in-school and extracurricular events. Jennifer graduated from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, with a Bachelor of Arts in German and anthropology and a minor in women’s studies.

Jen S Thumb

Geoffrey Geist, digital marketing specialist. Geoffrey comes to Franco from General Motors, where he was a specialist on the social media team, focusing on luxury clients. He is a member of the AdCraft club of Detroit and has held positions at a variety of other Metro Detroit companies, including Quicken Loans, Team Detroit/GTB and Treat Dreams. He graduated from Michigan State University with a Bachelor of Arts in advertising and is a fervent supporter of MSU and the city of Detroit.

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Marie and Sasha were on-site at the unveiling of the newly installed bronze statue of Edsel and Eleanor Ford. One hundred years since Edsel and Eleanor Ford said “I do”, the Edsel & Eleanor Ford House has set out to honor the couple’s life and legacy during ‘A Century of Love’ 100th wedding anniversary celebration.

MS and SR at Ford House

Tina and Joe had the opportunity to paddle the lower stretches of the Rouge River celebrating the 30th anniversary of Friends of the Rouge at its annual Rouge Rescue event.

TK, JF Friends of the Rouge

Mary and her husband, Zac, snapped a picture with Major Jim McDowell at the KEM concert supporting The Salvation Army and their efforts for the Flint Water Crisis.

MP at KEM concert

Team Franco had a wonderful evening celebrating at HOUR Detroit’s Best of Detroit Party at MotorCity Casino Hotel’s Sound Board . Top left clockwise: Intern Brittanie and Sasha checked in all media covering the event, Rene snapped a photo in front of the Franco sponsorship slide inside of Sound Board, Ann Marie and Andrea enjoyed a night out with their handsome dates, Lori took a night off from being the office mom and celebrated the Best of Detroit with her friend, Debbie.

Best of Detroit

Tina and Sasha took a break from working with the media at ‘A Legacy of Love: Vow Renewal and Garden Party’ to take in the beauty of the Ford House grounds. Couples at ‘A Legacy of Love’ gathered for an unforgettable vow renewal ceremony at the picturesque Lakeshore estate officiated by Macomb county executive, Mark Hackel. The ceremony was followed by an elegant strolling dinner and dancing.

TK and SR ford house

Among the couples renewing their vows was Franco’s CEO, Dan Ponder and his wife, Cathy. They celebrated 34 years of marriage in June.

DP and Cathy

Civil rights activist, Reverend Jesse Jackson Sr., made a surprise visit to the office and grabbed a photo with Dan and Brittanie.

DP, BC, Jesse Jackson

Jen and Ashley took time to de-stress at a lunchtime session of yoga atop the Beaubien Place Garage. Rooftop Yoga is a monthly yoga class put on by client, GMRENCEN along with RenCen Fitness.

JS, AD at Rooftop yoga

Brittanie spent an afternoon at the 2016 Conference on Volunteering and Service, the world’s largest gathering of service-related nonprofit, business, government and civic leaders. She represented the nonprofit, 9/11 Day, which encourages people to honor 9/11 victims by participating in service projects around the nation.

BC at Cobo

Franco celebrated June birthdays by taking a trip down to Ashby Ice Cream & Palazzolo’s Gelato in the GM Wintergarden for a sweet treat.

Elevator selfie

Jen welcomed media at the Turning Point Invitational press conference held at Cornerstone Schools. Cornerstone announced that golf icon Jack Nicklaus will play in the annual golf invitational held to raise funds to provide quality educations for Detroit children. Cornerstone also shared their goal to grow and educate 5,000 children in Detroit, almost double their current enrollment.

JS at Cornerstone press confernence

Detroit Design

Detroit is a hard working city, with its own highs and lows; it’s a place with fantastic roots and a true creative energy.  I dove deep in all things Detroit and within just a few months I was moving my life, design studio, and job all into Detroit. Soon after, my design adventures with Franco began just a week after I had relocated my studio and living space to Corktown via Royal Oak.  I knew Franco had a long standing relationship with the city, but little did I know how quickly this PR synergy would affect my life!

My First Design Adventure: NAIAS

I began at Franco in early November; two months shy of the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) yes, the same NAIAS that our president of the United States stopped at to visit, not too bad for my first major project. The amount of work the team put into this event was both staggering and inspiring to watch and also be a part of. Just a few weeks into the project I was creating print ads, numerous graphics for social media, atrium banners, way-finding banners, and a marquee display – a whole 4,800 square feet worth of screen that would be seen on the front of Cobo Center.

During NAIAS Preview Week all of our team’s hard work paid off because as soon as you stepped off the The People Mover you were immediately surrounded by a cloud of green, blue, and steel. It was exciting seeing crowds of auto show goers walk throughout COBO letting our little green way finding banners guide them through the hallways because they stuck out like exclamation points. Our SMDI graphics were everywhere on the walls, pillars, token machines and windows, and it was very cool.

SMDI Atrium Banner Design

SMDI Atrium Banner

SMDI Wayfinding Banner Design

SMDI Wayfinding Banners

But the most rewarding moment of them all was walking outside the GMRENCEN and looking up to see that SMDI green screen I designed, now sixty times the size of the computer screen it was created on displayed on the front of COBO Center.

SMDI COBO Marquee Design

SMDI COBO Marquee

Next Up…Granite City Food & Brewery

The next big event for me was the opening of Granite City Food & Brewery in the GMRENCEN. During this opening I really got a chance to see what Franco does for our clients and how we go above and beyond to make things happen. Before the official opening date, I was given the chance to use my photography skills  to take pictures of the space for the media. Putting on that hard hat and walking through Granite City was so intriguing and just as exciting, if not more, to see those same images in the Detroit Free Press the following week.

Photographing the space was the just the start of my involvement; I was also fortunate enough to create way-finding banners, that were placed throughout the GMRENCEN, door and window graphics, kiosk marquee displays, and The 48243 IPA beer label (appropriately named after GMRENCEN’s own zip code!)

Granite City Flyer Design

Granite City Food & Brewery Beer Label Designs

As time goes on and I continue to work on projects throughout Detroit, whether it is creating social graphics for the Fisher Theatre and the upcoming performances of Matilda the Musicalor a new billboard for the The Salvation Army, I will be reminded of the strong ties that connect Franco and the city of Detroit.

Matilda the Musical Graphic Design

Matilda the Musical Graphics

In-House Designer Ashley Dupuy posing with her 48234 graphic design

Franco In-House Designer, Ashley Dupuy, Posing With Her 48234 Beer Label Graphic

Ashley DuPuy is the in-house designer at Franco Public Relations Group. You can reach her at (313) 567-5093 or dupuy@franco.com. For more pictures of her Franco design journey follow her on Instagram @ashleyydupuy.

Happy National Pet Day

As Franco’s resident crazy dog lady, I had the privilege of interviewing my colleague’s pets for National Pet Day, April 11, to see how they answered some of our toughest job candidate questions.  Here’s what they had to say…

Rocky

Rocky

Name: Rocky

Pet Parent: Account Executive, Erica Swoish

Q: How would you describe yourself?

A: Well, I’m going on something like 108 if memory serves me right, so one of my favorite activities is to take a nap on the small couch in the living room. I also like to take a snooze on the big couch, when my brother Apollo isn’t bugging me to play with him, or sleep off a day’s hard napping in my plushy doggy bed. Oh yeah, and I like car rides too!

Apollo

Apollo

Name: Apollo

Pet Parent: Account Executive, Erica Swoish

Q: What’s your greatest achievement?

A: It is my duty to protect my mom on a daily basis. I protect her from the evil mailman, the sinister salesmen and the neighbor dog… I don’t like him one bit! I’m also an expert digger. I’m currently working on a hole to get under the fence and finally meet my arch nemesis next door. I also dig big holes in the backyard to hide my precious toy collection from those pesky squirrels through the winter. This past winter, I stored my favorite soccer ball, a football and about six Kong toys in the hole on the right side of the yard. I put a few other things in the hole on the other side of the yard too. My mom and dad helped me cover my hiding spots up for the winter, but don’t worry, I still found my toys once the ground thawed!

Oh, yeah, and my mom said to remind you about my cool collar. She bought it at the GMRENCEN’s Holiday Headquarters from 3 Dogs 1 Cat. It even has a shiny seat belt buckle!

Lucy

Lucy

Name: Lucy

Pet Parent: Senior Vice President, Tina Sullivan

Q: If you could have any super power, what would it be?

A: I wish I could talk, so I could tell my mom I don’t really like this outfit.

Fishie

Fishie

Name: Fishie

Pet Parent: Account Supervisor, Ann Marie Fortunate

Q: Tell us about a time you overcame a challenge.

A: My mom always has to remind me I’m not a dog since I like to run around in my tank. Don’t tell her, but I think she may be mistaken. This one time, my parents got me a new tank to replace my old stinky one, except while I was running around I got swallowed up by this wooshing water thing. Thankfully my parents saved me just in time and now I make sure to stay away from that side of the tank.

Shelton

Shelton

Name: Shelton aka Snooter

Pet Parent Name: Senior Account Executive, Marie Stawasz

Q: Tell us about your hobbies. What do you like to do outside of work?

A: I have a rather extravagant toy collection. My mom gets great deals at TJ Maxx & Marshalls so I can have as many as I want. SQUIRREL! On special occasions she’ll take me to Petco to pick out a special toy. I got this guy on my birthday two years ago. It’s one of my favorites…he has a few less legs now. Okay… am I done? Can I have a Buddy’s Pizza Buddy Bone?

Diesel Hunts

Name: Diesel

Pet Parent: Account Manager, Joe Ferlito

Q: What are your greatest strengths?

A: I’m a master escape artist and a pretty darn good hunter too. I like to go find pheasants and other friends to bring back to my dad from the woods. Sometimes I find a turtle that needs a nice home. Dad says mom won’t let us bring any more turtles home, but I think my turtle brothers would like that.

Diesel, Mowgli the Turtle, and Daphne the GeckoDiesel, Mowgli the Turtle, and Daphne the Gecko

Names: Mowgli the Turtle & Daphne the Gecko

Pet Parent: Account Manager, Joe Ferlito

Q: How would your co-workers describe you?

A: Some people think we’re a bit cold blooded, but we are pretty chill.

Sport

Sport

Name: Sport

Pet Parent: Account Manager, Elizabeth Robbins-Sabourin

Q: Tell me about a time you’ve exercised leadership?

A: I exercise every morning! My mommy takes me on long walks so I can do my business. Mommy’s coworker Sasha even collects the newspaper bags from around the office for mommy to take with us. We don’t want the neighbors to get mad at us for not picking up my doodie.

Goatie, Chicken, and Bear

Names: Bear, Chicken & Goatie

Pet Parent: Designer, Ashley Dupuy

Q: What’s your management style?

A: We like to get up in high places and oversee the work that’s being done.

Kali

Kali

Name: Kali

Pet Parent: Office Manger, Lori Cook

Q: What type of work environment do you prefer?

A: I like a quiet, comfy spot to hang out when mom is working at home, but sometimes she makes a lot of racket – click clack click clack – on that thing with all the buttons.

Cleo

Cleo

Name: Cleo

Pet Parent: Assistant Account Executive, Mary Parkinson

Q: How do you stay organized?

A: Well, you see, I have a top-secret file management system. That’s how I found this spoon. My mom had no idea where I got it from and when she asked I just gave her the biggest puppy eyes I could muster.

Sharky & Silver Dollar Fishes

Sharky and Silver Dollar Fishes

Names: Sharky & Silver Dollar Fishes

Pet Parent: Assistant Account Executive, Sarah Kornacki

Q: How to approach new challenges?

A: Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming!

The best way to celebrate Pet Day is to adopt one! Make sure to visit the Michigan Humane Society  (one of our pro bono clients) and check out their new facility in Detroit. It’s open Monday through Saturday, noon to 4 p.m. Have your own pet picture or story to share? Let us know in the comments below!

Erica Swoish is an account executive at Franco Public Relations Group. You can reach her at (313) 567-5014 or swoish@franco.com. For more pictures of her pups, follow her on Instagram @eswoish.

This post is dedicated in loving memory to Franc the Fish, who helped me win Franco’s 2013 Halloween pumpkin carving contest. Thanks Franc – we miss you buddy!

Franc

Franc

October 2013 – December 2015

 

A bittersweet departure from a happy home

We talk a lot in public relations and marketing about “third-party validation,” the idea that what somebody else says about you is more trustworthy than what you say about yourself. You trust the restaurant reviewer more than the restaurant’s advertisements, your friend who hated the movie more than the actor praising it on the talk show couch.

I’m becoming that third party when it comes to Franco. Tomorrow , I’ll be turning in my office key and GMRENCEN tenant ID badge as I follow my passions into policy and politics as the new vice president for marketing and communications at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, Michigan’s leading voice for free-market economic policies.

John Mozena

John Mozena, APR

So, now that the only remaining question for me here at Franco is whether or not there’s cake on my last day, I wanted to share some newly “third-party” thoughts on what makes this place special. Nobody asked me to write this, and whether you’re a potential client, employee or just somebody interested in the agency, I hope you’ll take these as the sincere thoughts of someone who’s going through a bittersweet departure from a happy home.

Values

You probably skimmed over the part of the Franco website that lists mission, vision, values  and the like. I know I usually would, since that’s an area in which companies are all too often noteworthy when they do live up to their statements rather than when they fall short.

But I’ve been working professionally as a reporter and PR/marketing professional for two decades in a variety of different environments, and I’ve never been anywhere that the values are meaningfully engrained in day-to-day operations the way Franco’s “Courage. Integrity. Balance.” are. I don’t want to belabor the point – to paraphrase Chris Rock, “You’re not supposed to do bad things. What do you want, a cookie?”—but I can say that I never for one instant here questioned or doubted what was expected of me when any sort of ethical issue came up. You tell the truth, you do what’s right and you stand by it. You don’t represent or work with people who try to get you to function otherwise, regardless of the consequences. Period.

Too often, “values statements” are aspirational. At Franco, they’re simply descriptive.

People

It’s telling that when I sat down with Franco President Tina Kozak and gave her my notice that I was moving on, her first unfiltered reaction was to be happy for me. My talk with our CEO Dan Ponder was in a similar vein, and evolved into a discussion of civility in political and policy discourse and how I’d have an opportunity in my new role to model polite respect for opposing viewpoints, rather than the ad hominem attacks that have become far too common on our airwaves and in our Facebook feeds. In both cases, their instinctive and genuine reaction was to be happy for me as a friend and someone about whom they cared as a person, rather than an employee whose departure would create inevitable short-term challenges and workload. It’s a rare privilege to work for people like Dan and Tina who so genuinely value their employees rather than mouth the empty HR platitudes common throughout American business, and whose example challenges the rest of their leadership team to follow suit.

When I joined Franco, one of the things that first hinted what kind of place this was going to be was my breakfast with Dan. It wasn’t an “interview” in the traditional sense, but rather a wide-ranging discussion on life, family, philosophy, history and more at the Detroit Athletic Club where we ended up the last table as they cleared breakfast service. Having come to know him better, it no longer surprises me that an agency leader would take hours out of his morning to get to know me well enough to decide whether or not I’d be the kind of person he’d want on his team, leading his people and representing the agency to his clients. Our discussion had very little to do with what I could do, and far more with who I was and what kind of environment I’d be joining. It went beyond due diligence or simple chemistry, and it’s a lesson that I’ll take with me into my new role.

It’s this kind of care that Dan and Tina and the rest of the leadership team takes in finding good people that shows through not only for those of us who’ve had the privilege of working here, but also for the clients they serve and the partners with whom they work.

Joy

No, not Vice President Pat Joy, although she is certainly wonderful and I’d happily talk about how much I’ve enjoyed working with her after having been professional acquaintances for years. The “joy” I experienced at Franco is the all-too-rare professional joy of doing good work for good clients with good people by your side. It’s the culmination of capable and caring people given values-based guidance and then trusted and supported to do great work. It’s knowing that “team” isn’t just an empty word, and that anyone and everyone will pitch in as needed to meet commitments. (I’ll never forget our Senior Vice President Tina Sullivan volunteering shortly after dawn to find balloons somewhere just off Eight Mile Road in Detroit, when we realized that the unexpected pouring rain made our existing event wayfinding signage difficult for attendees to see. I have no idea how she found balloons at that time of the morning in that neighborhood, but she did.)

We hope for and hopefully can even expect joy in our private lives, maybe as a spouse or parent or friend. We seek it out through hobbies, sports, entertainment and more, and can plan and spend huge amounts of money to have that perfect joyful moment at a favorite band’s concert or Disneyland or celebrating stadium. That’s why finding moments of personal and professional joy in work – in doing the things you have to do – is a powerful gift. Franco’s not the only place I’ve had that privilege, and I expect to continue in my new role, but I can’t overstate how much easier it is to have the passion that’s required to truly do this job well when the potential for that personal and professional joy is nurtured by your leaders and colleagues.

Franco Team

Being a part of the team is important at Franco! Team Franco comes together for a little fun to enjoy Greenfield Village Holiday Nights this past December.

Farewell

I told Tina and Dan that I honestly couldn’t picture another job that would have enticed me to leave Franco, but that this role at the Mackinac Center is simply the perfect fit between my professional experience and my personal passions. (I also joked with Tina that it’s slightly disconcerting when your current employer says, “Oh, that’s the perfect job for you” when you tell her about your new job…) It’s bittersweet to have been given the opportunity to move to a “more perfect” role when I’d considered myself to be in a perfect place already, but I wouldn’t have traded my time at Franco for the world.

My thanks and best wishes to everyone here at Franco, all of my clients and the great partners with whom I’ve worked. And if you’re a potential client or employee reading this because you’re wondering if Franco is right for you…well, I can unreservedly give you that third-party validation that it’s worth your while to try to find out.

John C. Mozena, APR is an account director (for the next few moments) at Franco Public Relations Group, after which he will be joining the Mackinac Center for Public Policy as its vice president for marketing and communications. You can connect with him on LinkedIn or Twitter @johnmoz. Connect with Franco PR Group on Facebook and Twitter @FrancoPRGroup.

 

Franco on the Town – January Edition

 

January was all steel, LEGOs and Red Wings Hockey for the Franco team.

Franco ladies Tina K., Tina S., Ann Marie, Erica, Lauren and Elizabeth working it at SMDI’s booth at The North American International Auto Show.

Franco Team at SMDI NAIAS Booth

 

Deanna Lorincz from SMDI, Tina S. and Tina K. before the NAIAS Charity Preview event.

Franco at NAIAS Charity Event

 

Sarah, Andrea and Pat celebrating a partnership between Arbor Hospice and Henry Ford Village.

Franco at Arbor Hospice and Henry Ford Event

 

Elizabeth, Alex, Sasha and Tina K. at the LEGOLAND Lego brick GMRENCEN reveal at NAIAS.

Franco at GMRENCEN LEGOLAND Reveal at COBO Center

 

Andrea and Mary with Motown recording artist, KEM at The Salvation Army water distribution event to assist those affected by the Flint water crisis.

Franco with KEM at Flint Water Distribution Event

 

Dan H., Lori, Tina K. and Sarah cheered on Joe as he and the rest of the Stahls’ team took on the Detroit Red Wing Alumni team.

Red Wings Alumni vs. Detroit Red Wings Alumni

 

 

Coming in February: Opening of Granite City Detroit, Bed & Bread Radiothon, Automation Alley at the DIA, Chicago Auto Show