D2D Buyer Ready Business: Eagle Specialties, LLC – Taryn Sulkes, President and CEO

Cropped_Eagle.Specialties_Sulkes_headshotEagle Specialties, LLC, is a provider of specialty products to the commercial construction industry, supplying primarily to new building and renovation projects within Michigan, northern Ohio and anywhere within the continental U.S. The company supplies items such as window shades and blinds, toilet partitions and accessories, lockers and wire mesh partitions, fire extinguishers and cabinets and cubicle track and curtains, just to name a few.

Founded in 2014 by President and CEO Taryn Sulkes, along with three other individuals with 30+ years of experience in the commercial construction industry, the company is a certified Native American, woman-owned business based in Detroit.

What is the history and background of Eagle Specialties, LLC?

I love Michigan and all it has to offer. When I was ready to start my own business, I started looking at the opportunities coming into the state and realized that business was booming in the commercial construction industry. I found a specialty niche in providing the things that every building needs, but that most people don’t often think about.

Who are Eagle Specialties, LLC’s notable clients?

For Little Caesars Arena, through the Barton Malow-Hunt-White JV, we furnished 300w_Eagle.Specialties.1temporary fire extinguishers, fire extinguisher stands and certification tags. Working with Walbridge, we provided specialty items for the new Marathon Oil administration building. We’ve also worked with Integrity Developers, Inc., on the U.S. District Courthouse in Hammond, IN., to provide roller window shades.

Why does Eagle Specialties, LLC, have a Detroit headquarters?

The majority of commercial construction activity in southeast Michigan is in Detroit. As a certified Detroit-based business, we find we have greater opportunities to bid on these projects because many contractors are Detroit-based and support the economic development of the community. We are located in the Grandmont neighborhood on the city’s west side.

What are the benefits of connecting with other Detroit businesses?

300w-Eagle.Specialties.MMSDC PhotoWe’ve had a great experience getting to know other minority business executives in the construction industry and have gained knowledge from their experiences. We also like being able to connect with others in the Detroit business community and help other businesses grow. We share referrals with other Detroit businesses because we all have the same goal: to help keep jobs in Detroit and keep Detroit businesses up and running.

Lily Hamburger

Small Business Development Manager

The Vibe in Paradise Valley: Harmonie Club Hotel

Harmony Banquet Center_V02_600x300x120ppiFive developers with strong Detroit roots recently received approval from the Downtown Development Authority of the City of Detroit to redevelop nine properties in the Paradise Valley Cultural & Entertainment District. The project will feature commercial and retail space, residential units, restaurants, entertainment venues and a boutique hotel, all scheduled to be built in the next three years.

Each developer has a great story to tell, and this is the fourth in a series that will run in this newsletter. The developer group 311 E. Grand River, LLC, led by Patricia Cole and Roger Basmajian, plans to transform the first and second floors of the former Harmonie Club building at 311 East Grand River into “a 1920’s boutique hotel,” update the current restaurant and expand it with an outdoor café. Here’s what they had to say.

As a longtime resident and business woman in Detroit, I am proud to be involved in the redevelopment of the Paradise Valley District. I have been investing in Detroit real estate since 1992, beginning with my first commercial property purchase of 139 Cadillac Square, a 10-story, 40,000 sq. ft. office building. I was also the owner of Cole Financial for 28 years and the first woman to serve on the board at The Detroit-Wayne Joint Building Authority. I will have been serving on this board for 21 years come this December.

My partner, Roger Basmajian, is also a Detroiter and an experienced developer of walkable communities, with several ongoing projects in downtown Detroit. Roger Basmajian is the president of the real estate investment and development company Basco, which is based in Detroit. Basco is focused on rehabbing and repurposing older buildings with new and creative uses, and in return, breathing life into once neglected neighborhoods. Basco’s success can be attributed to its creative thinking and close work with the community. Our partnership came together because of these common values, the mutual love for Detroit and the bright future we share for the city.

Our project, the old Harmonie Club building, is the most unique of all the properties in the DDA’s Paradise Valley portfolio that was put out for bid in the RFP.  Built originally as a clubhouse for Detroit Germans, it has many unique features such as the upper two stories being a theatre and a bowling alley in the basement. The architect was Richard Raseman, the same person who designed the Grand Army of the Republic Building on the other side of downtown on West Grand River.

We are proposing a boutique hotel that celebrates local artists and the history of Detroit. Our work begins with the rehabilitation of the theatre space which is currently in dire condition. When done, the space will be used for concert events, family celebrations, wedding banquets and art exhibits. To compliment the theatre space will be hotel rooms for guests to stay in as well as a second restaurant and bar in the basement. The Harmonie Club Hotel will act as the heart of Paradise Valley, welcoming all Detroiters and guests to stay and enjoy all the new businesses, restaurants, galleries, and clubs which will be the new Paradise Valley Cultural & Entertainment District.

In closing, we look forward to working together with the other developers in cooperation so that we may realize the true potential that this district could and should be.

Patricia Cole with

Roger Basmajian

Motor City Match Grant Winners Bring New Services, Arts to Detroit Neighborhoods

MCM winner 161028

Mayor Mike Duggan recently announced six Detroit small businesses that will receive between $10,000 and $80,000 of Motor City Match grant funding to help them start or expand in Detroit’s neighborhood corridors. This round’s grant winners include an arts center, health and wellness businesses, innovative restaurants and even a gluten-free marshmallow company.

“The businesses we’re announcing today are the types of establishments that people expect when they think of a strong community,” said Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan. “These Detroiters are proving that our neighborhoods are great places to do business. If you have an idea for a business, we want to help make it happen in Detroit.”

Motor City Match is Detroit’s signature small business development initiative. The program connects new and expanding businesses with Detroit real estate opportunities and provides them with the funding and technical support needed to help them succeed. Each quarter, up to $500,000 in grant dollars is available in addition to business planning classes and other technical assistance.

The program has helped nearly 500 businesses since its launch last year, two-thirds of which are owned by Detroiters, and more than 70 percent are minority-owned. The $2.3 million in grants awarded over the course of five award rounds have helped leverage a total of $14 million in investment to help grow Detroit neighborhood businesses.

About the Round 5 Grant Winners

The N’Namdi Center for Contemporary Art – $80,000 Grant Winner

The N’Namdi Center for Contemporary Art presents diverse, multi-disciplinary art experiences and serves to promote and perpetuate the cultural legacy of African-American and African diasporic art. Owner George N’Namdi is seeking to open a second location at 4230 Grand River Ave that will include an art incubator, co-working space, gallery and educational platform that connects creatives to business opportunities.

The Wise Decision – $65,000 Grant Winner

The Wise Decision is a full-service health and fitness business that offers customized fitness training, nutrition and weight management counseling including healthy cooking classes, and corrective exercise clinics designed to reduce common injuries. Owner Sterling Wise is a certified personal trainer and fitness professional and his wife Kamelia Wise is a Doctor of Physical Therapy. They have owned The Wise Decision for seven years and are opening a new location at 7640 Kercheval Ave.

Plum Health Direct Primary Care – $50,000 Grant Winner

Plum Health Direct Primary Care is a new Detroit business that will provide an alternative to the traditional fee-for-service model of health care. For a monthly fee, Direct Primary Care members receive primary health care services that are tailored to their individual needs – including annual check-ups, urgent care services as well as direct and unrestricted access to their doctor through call, text, email or in-person visits. The business will locate at 607 Shelby St.

The Kenilworth Club – $50,000 Grant Winner

The Kenilworth Club is a neighborhood restaurant and bar that includes a food incubator and restaurant accelerator, seeking to open at 9425 John R St. The farm-to-table restaurant will serve New Orleans-inspired cuisine with a West African twist, and ingredients will be sourced from a 1.5-acre community urban agriculture garden located directly behind the space.

Social Sushi – $45,000 Grant Winner

In addition to fresh, quality Japanese cuisine, Social Sushi focuses on creating a space for strangers to feel open to connect with other people. By hiring young people, returning citizens, and local creatives, the business wants their combined passion to be an element of the space. The business will locate at 16647 Livernois, next to Live6, in a previous Motor City Match winner’s space and across the street from University of Detroit Mercy.

The Detroit Marshmallow Company. $10,000 Grant Winner.

The Detroit Marshmallow Company produces gluten-free marshmallows currently sold at Eastern Market and other local food markets. They are seeking to open a production facility at 17215 Mack Ave. that aims to be the only dedicated gluten-free kitchen in the city. The kitchen will also be shared with other local small batch producers.

The next application window for building and business owners to apply to Motor City Match will be open from December 1 to January 1. Application details are available at www.MotorCityMatch.com.

Michael Forsyth
Director of Small Business Services


DEGC Hires Two Executives, Launches New Strategic Business Development Initiative

Peter H. Chapman, executive vice president for business development
Peter H. Chapman, executive vice president for business development

Peter H. Chapman has been named executive vice president for business development at DEGC and will lead its newly revamped business development department. Aaron Turk will be the new senior executive for strategy and business development. Chapman is the former deputy city manager for economic development and housing for the city of Norfolk, Virginia. Turk formerly was a project leader at The Boston Consulting Group.

The reconstituted business development department will focus on aggressively selling Detroit as a destination for investment from targeted industries and markets; deepening the capacity of the organization to provide turnkey support to drive investment; and strengthening the existing business retention and expansion program.

As DEGC develops sector-based strategies that target its business development efforts, Chapman and Turk will take a collaborative approach with DEGC’s existing stakeholders and partners. Enhancing DEGC’s business development efforts while maintaining its existing real estate and small business efforts will expand the organization’s ability to deliver jobs for the people of Detroit and investment throughout the city. DEGC is actively securing new revenue sources to fund the increased activity.

“Historically DEGC has focused on real estate development; responding to inquiries from national firms around expansion opportunities in Detroit; and meeting the needs of our existing business base,” said Rodrick Miller, DEGC president and CEO.

“In the past few years, we have increased the emphasis on growing Detroit’s small businesses, both startups and existing businesses. The growing spotlight on Detroit and recent significant investments from around the globe underscore how the time is right to drive the local market’s performance rather than just respond to it. These new executives will lead that effort,” said Miller.

Chapman has more than 20 years’ experience in economic development, having held key leadership roles in Denver, Colorado, and Richmond, Virginia, in addition to his most recent post in Norfolk.

Among his successes include launching a campaign that helped to bring 3,000 financial services jobs to Norfolk. In Richmond, he directed the city’s expansion and retention efforts targeting global health care and pharmaceutical firms.

Chapman holds an undergraduate degree in English Literature from Wesleyan University and earned a master’s degree in public policy and urban economic development from Tufts University.

As a consultant for The Boston Consulting Group, Turk has expertise in industries that have great potential for growth in Detroit, including automotive, financial services, health care and consumer goods.

Prior to management consulting, Turk served nearly 10 years in the U.S. Navy as both a naval aviator – deploying worldwide in support of combat and humanitarian missions – and a foreign liaison officer at the Pentagon.

Turk graduated from the University of Michigan with a BA in Economics and holds an MBA from Harvard Business School.


Tiffini Smith

Director of Human Resources

Michael Forsyth named to Crain’s 40 Under 40

Michael ForsythDEGC’s Director of Small Business Services Michael Forsyth was named to Crain’s 40 Under 40 for his role in opening the expanding Detroit City Distillery.

Detroit City Distillery was started by Forsyth and a group of friends turned business partners in the Eastern Market district two years ago. Since then, the business has expanded to the former Stroh’s Ice Cream factory near Gratiot Avenue. The factory is expected to expand production “tenfold,” said Forsyth.

Forsyth said that his experiences at DEGC have greatly helped the growth of Detroit City Distillery.

“Working at DEGC and starting up the Distillery has helped me see both sides to starting a business,” said Forsyth. “At DEGC we help people start their businesses and I now understand what that is like to open with limited funds and navigating the permitting process.”

At DEGC Forsyth helped launch Revolve, a program focused on pop-up retail, which eventually evolved into Motor City Match. In its first full year, Motor City Match awarded $2 million in grants that contributed to $13 million in investment that helped 385 entrepreneurs across the city.

“There is a great entrepreneurial spirit in Detroit and I am proud to be a part of that,” said Forsyth.