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.
Kevin Begola, Owner, Bridge Street Exchange
It started with an idea and a $10,000 credit card. When Kevin Begola quit his job in the insurance industry a few years ago, he dove head-first into the world of men’s wedding rings.
If it weren’t for a mishap at her daughter’s wedding 13 years ago, Lorrie Sage may never have found her calling to open Special Occasions, a successful linen rental and event design company with three Michigan locations.
“My daughter wanted chair covers, but we couldn’t find anyone who rented them locally,” Sage says. “We eventually found a vendor in Detroit, but they wouldn’t deliver to Fenton.”
Christie Wong Barrett didn’t plan to run a manufacturing company – but when she looks back at her career steps along the way, she isn’t surprised.
Graduating from MIT with a chemical engineering degree, Hong Kong-born Wong Barrett presumed she’d always work in technical positions, like her first job at an Engineering & Construction company. But she soon discovered she was more fascinated with the company’s business and investment decisions, so she took a job at a global consulting firm in Boston.
When it comes to managing employees at Miller Industries – the Fenton-based holding company behind Performance Fabricating, FlexAir and MiReps – Matt Miller looks no further than his four children for inspiration.
“If I don’t want to miss my kids’ activities, I know my employees don’t want to miss theirs,” says Matt, who co-owns the group of manufacturing businesses with his brothers Chad and Mike, sister Jennifer, and father Tom.