The Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce is a membership organization representing more than 1,200 businesses and affiliates. We also work with hundreds more each year through our Economic Development arm. That’s a lot of business. It’s also a lot of people. In recognition of the entrepreneurs and business owners driving our economy forward, we present FACES, a monthly Q&A series featuring our members and clients. If you’ve ever wondered who it is you’re doing business with – or could be doing business with – in Flint and Genesee, here’s your chance to find out.
Grace Peabody, Peabody Insurance, Inc.
In 2013, Grace Peabody graduated from Michigan State University Eli Broad College of Business with a degree in Marketing and Entrepreneurship. It was then that she and her father Jim decided to go into business together.
“I never thought I’d be in insurance,” says Peabody. “It’s something you kind of fall into and then you love it.”
For Nick Wambach, it all started at Warwick Hills Golf & Country Club. At 16 years old, he got a job working in the bag room at the local country club where he was able to meet a variety of people in the area.
“In a job like that, you learn how to communicate with people,” says Wambach. “You learn so many things by just shaking hands and talking.”
Almost four years ago, Daniel Buccilli sold his share of a boutique hair salon in East Lansing so he could move to Genesee County to be closer to his fiancé, David. He did some consulting for other salons in the area, but that wasn’t fostering his passion.
“My main focus is hair, I love the creative aspect,” says Buccilli. “I love building relationships with clientele. I love the fast-paced rush of the days.”
Common Citizen, a cannabis dispensary located in Flint on Averill Avenue, was built four years ago when the owners saw the direction Michigan was headed as it relates to cannabis. They realized they could be at the forefront of the new industry emerging in the state and went to work making their business a reality.
“One of my fondest memories was driving across the state with my partners speaking to municipalities, mayors and people who weren’t ready for the conversation about having cannabis in their city,” says Michael Elias, CEO of Common Citizen. “I didn’t know if we would secure our licenses. So, when we finally did, I cried.”
About 25 years ago, Manal Saab was working for MetroHealth Medical Systems in an impoverished, but familiar, neighborhood when she was jumped by a group of young people.
She made eye contact with one of the men and told him that if he came to her office the next day with his friends and her things, she wouldn’t alert the authorities about the incident.
“Everyone needs a chance,” said Saab. “Some people take it and realize the opportunity, but unfortunately some don’t. It’s unfortunate because when one person makes it, they can uplift an entire community.”
Dwayne & Sonyita Clemons
Ryan Garza & Courtney Simpson
Christie Wong Barrett