Milestones Businesses Celebrate Success



It’s a well-known fact: business ownership is definitely not for the faint of heart! With statistics showing that nearly one in five U.S. start-ups fail within the first year, many owners feel fortunate to make it through 12 months of operation.

This new feature series highlights local businesses that are celebrating anniversaries and want to share their stories – how they started, challenges they faced, and what has contributed to their longevity. It is an opportunity for them to pause and reflect on their journey – past, present and future – and recognize people who played a role in their success. Their stories are all unique, but one constant is their gratitude for the support of the communities where they do business.

These businesses are celebrating milestones:

  •  Bikes on the Bricks
  • Fenton Winery & Brewery
    Matt & Ginny Sherrow, Co-Owners
  • H2A Architects, Inc.
    Jackie Hoist, Sheri Ananich & George Ananich, Co-Owners
  • Jersey Mike’s Subs – Fenton, Flint & Grand Blanc
    Michael Balen, Owner
  • Lasco Real Estate Group
    Jennifer Lasco, Owner
  • My City Magazine
    Vince Lorraine, Publisher
  • Randy Wise Automotive Team
    Randy Wise, Owner
  • Sawyer Jewelers
    Chip Beltinck, Owner
    Heidi McAra, Tiffany Stolzenfeld & Shannon White, Co-Owners

My City Magazine | 10 Years

Founded: 2013

How did My City get its start?

I’ve published several magazines for nearly three decades, one being a nationally-circulated B2B title. Back in the ‘90s, one of my duties was traveling to visit our key advertisers or their ad agencies – I called it my “handshake tour.” My travels took me to L.A., New York, Houston and Chicago, to name a few. I would thank them for their support and discuss their future marketing goals with my publication. Then, we would enjoy a nice “thank you” lunch or dinner. It never failed that during our meal, someone would ask me, “So Flint, Michigan, huh? Why do you live/work in Flint?” In those days, the city’s image was one of murder, corruption, etc. At the time, I held seats on the boards of the Flint Institute of Music, Flint Cultural Center Corporation and others. I saw a very different city than what was portrayed on the national news. I have lived in Greater Flint all my life and always knew how great the city really was, its resilience unmatched. So, I decided to start MCM with a single goal: telling the true stories of our great city and its people. Not a single page would be dedicated to negativity or politics. Ten years later, despite pandemic shutdowns and other obstacles, my staff and I still produce what I believe is one of the country’s best city magazines.


“It’s an honor and pleasure to have this platform for highlighting so many great and inspiring people.”


What has contributed to your longevity?

It’s crazy to be celebrating ten years! Our success is a product of my team’s talent, dedication and love for Flint. We’re all on the same page (pun intended).

What are your plans for 2023 and the future?

I had planned to take my magazine model to other cities; however, the pandemic put that on hold. Similar publications are facing uncontrollable challenges, which is unfortunate in an industry with such potential to benefit both readers and advertisers. Many businesses are focused on social media marketing, and we plan to continue building our significant social media presence – over 40,000 monthly digital page views! We are noticing an increase in ad sales. Why? Our advertisers realize an ROI. I expect 2023 to be one of our best years yet, and an even better 2024.

What obstacles have you overcome?

When our Governor chose to shut down the state mid-pandemic, I owned four businesses – it was the biggest hurdle I have ever encountered. Recovery has been a struggle; however, we made it and will be even stronger going forward.

What advice do you have for new entrepreneurs?

If you don’t have a passion for what you do and are not willing to work 60-70 hours a week for several decades, don’t become a business owner. If you put in the work, there’s nothing better!

Who would you like to thank for your success?

This feels like an “Oscars” speech moment. Since the opportunity to start this magazine was born of my other business success, I would first thank my mother who always believed in me – which was key since I became an entrepreneur at age 19! She was present for all my setbacks and successes, cheering me on. There are many others to thank: the banker who gave me my first business loan back in 1978, the many employees who believed in my vision, and my talented family who has worked alongside and supported me through it all. The list is long and they all have my sincere gratitude.

What is great about doing business in Greater Flint?

It’s an honor and pleasure to have this platform for highlighting so many exceptional and inspiring people. Cheers to ten more years!

SHIFT | 5 Years

Founded: 2018

How did SHIFT get its start?

In 2019, a small but mighty team of she-powered entrepreneurs felt the time was right to reintroduce the “Art of Retail” to Downtown Flint. The Capitol Theatre was renovated, the corner space at 2nd and Harrison Streets was available and … voila! SHIFT was born!

What has contributed to your success?

We credit our loyal SHIFT shoppers, social media presence and the growing strength of our brand both in our store and online. And, it’s the merchandise we bring to the community – locally sourced, globally responsible and distinctive items you truly cannot find anywhere else. We are rejuvenating in-store parties and events and thoughtfully curate a FUN shopping experience at reasonable prices.

What are your plans for 2023 and beyond?

We want to cultivate a greater sense of community and foster a place that is not only a destination, but a place to gather. We will also continue featuring local artisans, providing a venue to create exposure and build their brands.

What obstacles have you faced?

Since SHIFT started, we have been overcoming obstacles! We were the first women’s boutique in Downtown Flint since The Vogue had closed nearly 40 years prior to our grand opening. Downtown was not known for its retail opportunities, especially for women. Then, 18 months after we opened and were finally gaining community awareness, the pandemic shut us down. We ramped up our online presence, but who needed new sneakers, cute dresses and dazzling earrings when everyone was eating popcorn, drinking wine and watching movies at home? Post-COVID, the work-from-home culture has minimized “feet on the street” and lunchtime/daytime shoppers who used to SHIFT in to find an outfit for the weekend, a hostess or birthday gift. Now, we rely on being a destination that people come Downtown to visit.

What has surprised you most about business ownership?

In many ways, it has changed both us and our amazing staff. Our small team has learned the business of retail, the importance of customer service and how to merchandise and advertise; but the friendships, life lessons, camaraderie and tutoring we have experienced with our young team is invaluable. We have all learned so much about life’s turmoils and finding happiness which may seem cliché, but it’s what we are most proud of – SHIFTing mindsets for the better!

Bikes on the Bricks | 16 Years

Founded: 2007

How did this event come to be?

In the fall of 2007, an idea was developed for a motorcycle show to complement the Back to the Bricks® auto show held in August in Downtown Flint since 2004. The community-minded individuals with this great idea were: Don Williamson (former Flint Mayor), Larry Ford (former President of Genesee County Chamber of Commerce), Gary Hagler (former Acting Flint Police Chief) and Ron Lonsway (Sales Executive at then Cummings Vehicle City Harley-Davidson, now Vehicle City Harley-Davidson). Lonsway contacted Kirk Bowles (Owner, Forest City Cycle Works), Ed Henderson (Owner, Top End Cycle) and Jeff Wade (radio personality, WRSR 103.9) to see if they wanted to participate. They all agreed it was a great concept and opportunity for Flint, and the rest is history!

What has contributed to its longevity?

Very dedicated volunteers! Everything we do throughout the year is our Bikes on the Bricks committee and board members volunteering their time. And, the police skills competition – our star attraction and a chance for the community to get up close to the officers and also see great motorcycle skills. Also, the Flint community has a long motorcycle history, from your average rider to local world champion racers like Jared Mees, Scotty Parker and Jay Springsteen.

What has been your “most brilliant idea?”

Many of our ideas came from Co-founder and Board President, the late Ed Henderson. He thought of the police-escorted ride, adding live music, and even our event trophies – motorcycle figures mounted on actual bricks!

Who would you like to thank for your success?

The community! We get bikers from Greater Flint, throughout Michigan and the Midwest. We wouldn’t be here if people didn’t come join us for our event weekend.

What are your plans for 2023 and beyond?

We plan to continue hosting an annual, free family-friendly event in Flint. We’re adding stunt rider CrashTina and more bands in the beer tents. We love that the community supports our event and that we can be a supporter of the local economy.

Jersey Mike’s Subs | 4 Years

Opened: 2019

How did you get your start with Jersey Mike’s?

I was born into the restaurant industry. My parents have owned and operated other restaurant chains for over 30 years, so I spent my entire life growing up in the industry and working with my family. After graduating college, I was working for a corporate restaurant chain when I had the opportunity to get into the Jersey Mike’s franchise. After partnering with my parents in 2019, we opened our first three locations in Fenton, Grand Blanc and Flint.

What has contributed to your success?

As a former college athlete, I learned a lot about teamwork, leadership and dedication toward a larger goal. I am thankful for my previous work experiences that gave me understanding of restaurant ownership and operation in today’s environment. My success as a business owner wouldn’t be possible without my wife Anna who works alongside me, my family and our dedicated restaurant teams.


“We have some of the most passionate and loyal customers, to which we truly owe everything.”


What are your plans for 2023 and beyond?

This year, we plan to open our second Grand Blanc location, as well as five others across the state in the next few years. We are currently preparing for our annual Month of Giving which happens each March, raising money to be donated to the charity of our choice; this year, we chose the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan. To end the Month of Giving with a bang, we will donate all of our March 29 sales to the Food Bank. We are very excited about this year’s Day of Giving and hope it will be our most charitable one yet!

What advice do you have for new entrepreneurs?

Make sure you’re passionate about what you do! Business ownership is a wonderful privilege, but it also comes with a 24/7 level of dedication. Developing a healthy culture in your business is one of the most important things you can do to retain your valuable employees, and to create a positive environment for customers. We have adopted a “developed from within” mentality that allows us to promote leaders in our stores, with each of our existing stores having general managers who worked their way up to their current positions.

What has surprised you most about owning your business?

The most surprising thing has been the number of opportunities we have been given to help the community through the business. Each one of our stores donates over $15,000 per year to local charities. We also support as many local teams, clubs and churches as we can. Our restaurants have also allowed me to give many teenagers their first job, which is a great feeling. We begin hiring at 14 years old, so being able to positively impact our employees’ lives and watch them grow is such a rewarding aspect that I never anticipated.

What is great about doing business in Greater Flint?

I grew up in Mid-Michigan, so being able to serve the communities that we operate in has been very rewarding. I was honored to be recognized last year as a “40 Under 40” nominee by the Flint & Genesee Group for my impact in the community. We are truly the definition of a locally-owned-and-operated family business. I couldn’t imagine doing business in a better community – we have some of the most passionate and loyal customers, to which we truly owe everything. We appreciate the support more than you could ever know and look forward to serving you A Sub Above!

Sawyer Jewelers | 76 Years

Founded: 1947

How did you get your start?

I stumbled into the jewelry business by complete accident when I was 17 years old. At the time, I worked as a manager in a small-town pizzeria and was disappointed about the broken promises made regarding my pay and future with the company. I began asking everyone I met what they did for a living, if they liked their job and how much they made. One day, I met a lady who was in the jewelry business. She told me two jewelers went out on their own after the Diamond Exchange in Flint moved to California. These gentlemen agreed to meet with me and I was in awe of what they could do, they were so talented. From that day on, I would drive to Flint – after attending college in Lansing and working in Durand – just to sit behind them, to watch and learn. Shortly after, I started working on jewelry and worked with them for six or seven months for free, before moving on in the profession. I was fortunate and eager to learn everything I could.

What has contributed to your success?

Being very mechanical, naturally; I can make and design just about anything but most of all, it is a love and passion for the profession.

What are your plans for 2023 and into the future?

To continue expanding the store, our talents, and education. In the jewelry business, adaptability is huge. To keep the business growing, I change every year to reflect the trends and educate all staff about the latest trends.

What has been your most brilliant idea?

Our Trade in-Trade up Diamond Stud program – when someone purchases a pair of any size diamond stud earrings from Sawyer Jewelers, they can trade them in for a larger pair the next day, next month or several years later.

Who would you like to thank for your success?

I am thankful for my staff, the support of the Greater Flint community, and my amazing customers who continue to show their loyalty and commitment to Sawyer Jewelers.

Fenton Winery & Brewery | 16 Years

Founded: 2007

How did FWB come to be?

We are a husband-and-wife team that wanted to start a business in the community where we lived that involved our passion for locally-crafted beverages. The mission was to make the best products, create a place we could see ourselves hanging out in and where the community connects. In 2007 we rented a 2,000-square-foot strip mall space, learned to make wine, built a small production area and a bar and created a lounge for tasting and gathering. By offering tastings, glasses and cheese plates to one or two patrons at a time, we grew a following for the products and the place. After two years, we added a brewery, a kitchen, private event rooms and developed a Mug & Stem Club. In 2012, we made a crazy purchase of the abandoned Creative Wood property on N. Long Lake Road. The build-out took two years and we’ve now been there since 2014.

What has contributed to your longevity?

Our commitment to providing a unique customer experience and building lasting relationships – with taproom guests, local business partners, employees and community organizations we support – have been the cornerstones of our growth. Moving to N. Long Lake Road to expand production, create outdoor seating and a 280-person banquet venue was pivotal. We now hope that the Dream Machine Distillery and, most importantly, investing in our team to help run the show and evolve operations will provide a boost to further success.

What are your plans for 2023 and beyond?

Now that we have realized our two-year goal of opening the Dream Machine Distillery and a craft cocktail bar, we plan to shift our focus to improving our outdoor seating areas and adding covered gathering spaces to host parties in our gardens. We will continue to focus on professional development for our team. Investing in them is an honor for us as we hope to help them advance both professionally and personally.

What has surprised you most about business ownership?

We knew it would be a big part of our daily lives but really had no idea of the energy and focus that was needed to make it and keep it growing. It has been a rollercoaster of struggles and triumphs.

Who would you like to thank for your success?

Many people are part of our story and have helped us make Fenton Winery & Brewery what it is today. It has been a humbling experience having so many hands help us whether it was building and fixing stuff, lending us money, moving things, making decisions, pushing us in the right direction, allowing us to cry on their shoulders, toasting with us time and time again, sitting out in the cold with us, celebrating milestones with us, or even just sharing our social media posts. We truly appreciate all of you out there. Thank you!

Lasco Real Estate Group | 6 Years

Founded: 2017

How did you get your start?

After earning my MBA, I truly got my start running Six Degrees and 944 Magazines. The marketing, technology, digital media, networking and ability to sit on many charity boards provided me with the foundation necessary to do my current job at the highest level.

What has contributed to your success?

I credit my amazing team, my husband Jay and his expertise in much of the back-end technology we use in this business. My clients have also been such great cheerleaders for me; knowing how much I love helping them and sharing their referrals with friends and family means the world to me. People who hire us know that we are not like other brokers and Realtors in the area. We have all had the training and taken the required courses, and many of us have gone on to take many more to build on that foundation. I have had the opportunity and experience to design marketing strategies for national and global companies, understand how to create print-quality photos, and have built national-penetration digital marketing campaigns. This is the unmatched edge that we provide our clients.


“My advice for new entrepreneurs: Be true to yourself; authenticity is very important.”


What are your plans for 2023 and beyond?

2023 is looking big! After the interesting change in the market and economy over the last two years, we have restructured our business. We are consciously growing our team in a very skillful way, deepening our ties to the community through charities, local teams and above all, our local education systems. We plan to remain true to our initial goal – Real Estate Made Simple. We are known for handling some of the most complex transactions, the most niche properties, and all the while keeping the process stress-free for our clients and achieving the highest return for them.

What obstacles have you had to overcome?

I started doing business in a new area where I didn’t know anyone and built it from the ground up. Every dollar that went into building my office and business was my blood, sweat and joy. My wonderful husband was working 60 hours a week, we had two young babies and were saving money to build a house. There were many times when I would have to drop the girls off at the car dealership so I could show a house. Jay would have to run the dealership and watch the babies; we had no family to help us. Most nights, I stayed up until midnight while everyone else slept, shopping for properties for my clients. If you want something, you have to work for it – and that is just what I did!

Do you have advice for new entrepreneurs?

You can do it. You WILL do it. The only obstacle you have is yourself. Your ego is NOT your amigo. Be humble. Move and shift when you need to. Don’t be afraid to really listen to criticisms of your business and see if there may be something you can use to succeed. Do not ever, ever try to be a copy of someone else or another business. Be true to yourself; authenticity is very important. When you walk into a room, don’t let the room change you – YOU change the room. (Thanks for that one, Frankie J.)

What has been your most brilliant idea?

I only hire people I like and want to spend time with. Our whole team is such a treat to be with! In our business and in life, like attracts like. Before opening Lasco Real Estate Group, I looked at several offices – none of them offered the standard, style, technology or vibe that I came to expect while running a national magazine. I built exactly what I felt the standard should be. You know what they say, “if you build it, they will come.” Fast-forward six years: we have created such a beautiful culture in our office – something I have not achieved alone, but something that I am very proud of.

H2A Architects, Inc. | 10 Years

Founded: 2013

How did H2A get its start?

H2A Architects was founded by architects with a passion for creativity, artistry, sustainability and historic preservation. Before starting H2A, the three owners – Jackie Hoist, Sheri Ananich and George Ananich – all worked together under the mentorship and training of Jim Tomblinson and Jerry Harburn for more than 25 years at THA Architects Engineers.

What has contributed to your longevity?

Hard work, perseverance, cultivating new clients, completing projects successfully, and referrals. Our partnership of three provides a strong bond – a cord of three is not easily broken. It provides checks and balances, someone to be the visionary, someone to be the pragmatist and someone to be the tiebreaker, and flexibility to let those roles change on a daily basis. Our sense of responsibility to a project has also been key – we take deep interest in our work and want our clients to have the best experience working with us. H2A’s future business is based on everything we’ve done before, and we are proud of the success of our work.

Who would you like to thank for your success?

We thank our clients who trusted us with their work, participated in the development of their projects, were realistic about the issues they would encounter, and appreciated us for our humanness. Also, we thank our staff and each other as partners. A lot of trust goes into a partnership, and you need that trust and support to find success in life and in business.

What are your plans for 2023 and beyond?

Our focus is always to continue to learn and grow. We are perfectly placed to help in unique projects others may not be interested in. H2A is the right size to provide personal service and bring years of design experience to any project. We will also continue to expand our technical skills and in-house graphic and 3-D capabilities, offering clients a realistic view of their proposed projects before they are constructed. We are very optimistic for 2023! We continue to have strong years, even through the pandemic. We look forward to continuing work with our present clients and are always on the lookout for new and challenging projects.

Randy Wise Automotive | 34 Years

Founded: 1989

How did you get your start?

I have spent my entire professional career in the automotive industry, beginning in May of 1970 when I started working with Al Serra at a Chevrolet dealership in Ferndale, MI.

To what do you owe your success and longevity?

I owe my success to an awful lot of employees I have had over the years, some of the tutelage I have received from the managers working above me and honestly, I just refuse to fail.


“In my decades in business, I have been all over the country looking at different businesses and people, and there are no better people than right there in Genesee County.”


What advice do you have for new entrepreneurs?

Stay the course – don’t let a failure stop you from reaching your goal. There will always be hurdles in your way, but if you have a good plan and a strong work ethic, you will survive.

Did you ever think your business would make it this far?

No – never in my wildest dreams! My grandfather was a butcher, my father was a tool and dye worker for Fisher Body. I thought maybe someday, I could own my own house and live a good life, but I never dreamt that I would be in this position.

What are your plans for 2023 and into the future?

My goal is to make sure the 416 employees we have are still here at the end of the year, and we continue to grow.

What is great about doing business in Greater Flint?

In my decades in business, I have been all over the country looking at different businesses and people, and there are no better people than right there in Genesee County. I say that very sincerely – when they tell you something, they mean it. You need a handshake, not anything in writing, and that is why I love it.


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