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Members in the Spotlight

Each month, the Chamber shines the spotlight on member businesses in our newsletter and on this page. Get to know your fellow members profiled below. Send your press releases and good news stories to for consideration in our many communication outlets.

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Sylvan Learning | WMCAT | MyWay Mobile Storage

Sylvan Learning Centers of West Michigan

Sylvan Learning Centers of West Michigan is the leading provider of personal learning for students of all ages, grades and skill levels. With over 30 years of experience, Sylvan Learning combines individualized robust digital content along with traditional tutoring and personal engagement programs to help students improve study skills, math, reading, writing—not to mention also ACT and SAT test prep. As the leader in supplemental education, Sylvan Learning prides itself on transforming how students learn and inspiring them to succeed in school and in life.

“I love how innovative and forward-thinking Sylvan is, and how much we make can a difference with students. It is very rewarding to be able to help West Michigan students and families reach their academic goals every day,” said Hillary Malone Tilton, Owner and Executive Director of Malone Management Company which operates Sylvan Learning Centers of West Michigan. 

Originally founded by Tilton’s parents in 1985 as one of the first Sylvan Learning franchisees, Malone Management Company has grown to operate seven Sylvan Learning Centers in West Michigan—one of which is also the first LEED certified Sylvan center in the country. Tilton has also recently expanded the management company’s franchise network with the purchase of six additional Sylvan locations in metro Minneapolis, MN last fall. 

“In today’s technology-driven economy, critical thinking skills are more important than ever. Jobs are evolving and require dynamic learning,” she said. “Sylvan focuses on building those skills and creates life-long learners in the process. Our individualized programs help students meet their immediate educational goals and build a foundation that will benefit them in the future.” 

Involvement in the Chamber remains important for Sylvan Learning. “It is a resource and support that we value as a small business owner,” said Tilton, noting business partnerships and idea/strategy sharing have helped them grow. “Sylvan is a national company; however, its success is dependent on close connections in the local community in which we operate.” 

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Sylvan Learning | WMCAT | MyWay Mobile Storage

West Michigan Center for Arts and Technology (WMCAT)

When the West Michigan Center for Arts and Technology (WMCAT) opened its doors in 2005, it marked the first replication site of the National Center for Arts and Technology (of which there are now seven). Spawned from an inspiring idea imported from Pittsburg, PA program, WMCAT works to create a culture of opportunity for people to make social and economic progress in their lives and community through career skills training and visual arts engagement.

“Education is a driving force in building income security for families. When we create economic stability, we can grow our local economy and include more families into a culture of opportunity,” said Kim Dabbs, WMCAT Executive Director and a member of the Chamber’s Education Committee. “WMCAT is one of the few organizations working directly with a teen population in Grand Rapids through a curriculum-based, high-impact arts program.”

Each year, more than 200 area high school students take advantage of the daytime curriculum and after school programming WMCAT offers for teens. The teens collaborate and explore practical applications through inquiry, problem-solving, and use of arts and technology. In the process, they develop 21st Century work skills and tackle real-world problems and challenges through design thinking, ideation, and empathy. Among their successes, WMCAT teen students chalked up a second place ArtPrize entry in 2011.

WMCAT also works with underemployed adults in providing holistic, intensive training in medical technology—a program that includes comprehensive wrap-around services as well as career support and placement. Designed to remove barriers low-income adults face, the program is offered tuition-free to qualifying participants. More than 75 percent of WMCAT adult graduates find jobs—improving their financial and career opportunities.

WMCAT became a member of the Chamber to support a vibrant business culture that collaborates with the nonprofit sector. “The Chamber provides the avenue to network for a strong West Michigan,” noted Dabbs, who values the strong reputation that comes with Chamber membership.

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Sylvan Learning | | MyWay Mobile Storage

MyWay Mobile Storage

Since its founding in 2006, MyWay Mobile Storage has successfully navigated through the recent economic downturn to emerge as the premier mobile storage and moving company in the area, according to Gary Schuler.

As co-owner of the Grand Rapids franchise market for MyWay Mobile Storage, Schuler and his partner Dale Plowman are just one of seven franchised operations stemming from the parent company that still bases operations and a national call center in Grand Rapids. Advantages of using MyWay Mobile Storage are plenty—including onsite drop off/pick up at a customer’s home or business locations and secure, climate controlled storage facilities.

“We make moving and storage more convenient and affordable for individuals or companies which need to move or store in the Grand Rapids area,” said Schuler. “Our unique service eliminates the need for moving truck rental or making multiple trips to a selfstorage facility.”

MyWay Mobile Storage is now poised for future growth, although Schuler is clearly proud that the company continued to grow and add employees even during the economic downturn. “Building a business in the difficult times like we experienced the last six years sharpens your skills, value offering, and operations,” he said. “If you can stay in the game long enough, when you emerge from the ‘fog’ and the economy starts to gain momentum, you are that much better off to capitalize on the opportunities.”

A Chamber member since 2010, Schuler said MyWay Mobile Storage joined to to support business growth within the city as well as capitalize upon the right connections and customers that enabled MyWay to grow. “I would encourage other companies to engage the Chamber and the resources early in their development and growth stage,” he noted. “We got caught up in ‘critical’ day-to-day operational issues and failed to see the really ‘important’ issues, like long-term growth through developing key business and community relationships.”

“If I had to do it again, I would have embraced the Chamber from Day 1 and really capitalized on the resources they provide,”  he added.

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