Greater Farmington Area Chamber of Commerce reaches 500 members

By: Sherri Kolade | Farmington Press | Published August 24, 2016

 Focal Point Studio of Photography, 33431 Grand River Ave. in Farmington, is a chamber member.

Focal Point Studio of Photography, 33431 Grand River Ave. in Farmington, is a chamber member.

Photo by Sean Work

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FARMINGTON/FARMINGTON HILLS — Nestled in downtown Farmington, near the corner of Farmington Road and Grand River Avenue, is 156 years of history.

The Heeney-Sundquist Funeral Home, 23720 Farmington Road, has made Farmington home since 1850 — when the city itself was just 26 years old.

Inside his grand, historic office on a balmy summer day Aug. 19, Mark Ziegler, funeral home president, discussed why he considers it a privilege for his family to serve the people of Farmington for the past seven generations.

“I boast to my peers how wonderful my clientele are,” he said. “We are just very blessed to be in this community.”

The Heeney-Sundquist Funeral Home is a member of the Greater Farmington Area Chamber of Commerce, which recently celebrated its 500th member.

Marcia Rodeheffer, director of  membership for the chamber, said that the members are very much engaged in chamber-related activities, and membership is great for business.

“We’re so excited to have more members,” she said, adding that by providing services to members, they are providing opportunities to help them.

From the recent opening of the long-awaited grocery store Fresh Thyme to boutique shops that offer services for women who are dealing with breast cancer, the chamber has a wide range of diverse businesses.  

Ziegler said that his business’s building is registered nationally and at the state level as a historic structure.

While it offers historical charm, it keeps up with the changing trends, which are leaning more toward cremation, he added.

Ziegler said that up to 40 percent of his customers are choosing to be cremated, for economic and other reasons.

“That is the largest change in the evolution of funeral service,” he said, adding that chamber staff are excellent in helping his business.

All About Women’s Health Boutique owner and CEO Mariam Searcy has a different story to tell, with similar undertones, about how the chamber is beneficial to her.

Searcy, who opened up her business at 33104 Grand River Ave. in Farmington in 2014, said she is grateful for the chamber connections and support. She added that during her shop’s grand opening, she was greeted with warmth and a large crowd. Her business opened up originally in Livonia in 2000.

“I thought this was a great location just because of all the traffic,” she said. “I always wanted my business to be right in this little house, and I believe it is all in divine order that I am here.”

Searcy’s business is located in a house that was previously home to elocution classes and a doctor’s office. She said people come into her business all the time and remark on how they used to take classes there or would visit the doctor. They also are interested in tours of her business to see what has changed and what remains the same.

Searcy was diagnosed with breast cancer in August of 2011. As a business owner dedicated to improving the lives of women who have experienced breast cancer, she was in a position to receive the help she needed.

“I am well,” she said of her life after breast cancer.

She said that as far as what the future holds business-wise, she knows it will be good.

“I think my business is awesome on so many levels because of the service we provide to women,” she said.

Kristin Curle Houchins, director of communications and events for the chamber, said that 4D-Bionexus Consulting, a scientific strategic planning business, is the 500th chamber member. The business assists clients in various bio-technical fields such as project management and medical-technical writing.

Farmington Hills Mayor Ken Massey is one of its owners. 

The chamber was reorganized in 2009 after originally being named the Farmington-Farmington Hills Chamber of Commerce.

Curle Houchins said that the chamber members are reaching out to others.

“They’re bringing members themselves to join the chamber,” she said. “They want everyone to be involved in it.”

Rodeheffer added that the purpose of the chamber is to help businesses grow.

“Stay local, buy local, support local to help them meet their real-time business needs,” she said. “We have everyone from our small business that is a startup … to larger corporations. … We’re going to continue to grow.”

Fresh Thyme, a new chamber member, is growing too after celebrating its opening Aug. 17. Fresh Thyme in Farmington is the sixth store in Michigan and the 44th across the United States.

Bruce VanOverloop, director of operations at Fresh Thyme, said that the new store values its partnership with the city and community. 

“Without that, it wouldn’t be as successful,” he said. “From all of my experience from chamber members has been positive and helpful.”

He described the energy in the community as palpable and caring.

“So many customers stopped me and thanked me for opening my store there,” he said. “That is always great to hear.”

For more information, go to www.gfachamber.com.

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