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J.D. Power founder's foundation awards SMC $50,000

Southwestern Michigan College’s new nursing building will feature the Dr. Kenneth and Gertrude Pierce Family Hallway of History. The Pierces’ late daughter, Julie, married J.D. “Dave” Power III. They founded a company April 1, 1968, that became a household name in customer satisfaction through independent market research. Power’s Kenrose Kitchen Table Foundation donated $50,000 to SMC’s major gift initiative.

“Our family foundation decided to make this grant to Southwestern Michigan College’s Nursing and Health Education Building to honor the spirit and contributions of Ken and Gertrude (Eckhout) Pierce,” J.D. Power III said. “Ken cared for his patients and was a fixture in the Dowagiac area community. Gertrude also was an educated civic leader. Even though the company started in California, they gave our family support during the early years as we conceived the idea and started J.D. Power and Associates.”

Dr. Pierce graduated from the University of Michigan in 1929.

Gertrude studied nursing at U of M, graduating in 1932. They married in 1934.

“I remember how passionate they both were about the health services world,” Power said. “The experience of being instructors and educators early in their careers had deep meaning and impact on both Ken and Gertrude, and eventually with their daughters, Julie and Bonnie.

“To support Southwestern Michigan College is a natural way to honor them and help provide support to this area of Michigan today.”

The Power family sold the business in 2005.

Dave Power, who married Julie Pierce July 21, 1962, at Sacred Heart of Mary Catholic Church in Silver Creek Township, retired from the company in 2009. No one from the family is involved with the business today. Julie died in April 2002.

Dr. Pierce graduated from the University of Michigan in 1929.

Gertrude studied nursing at U of M in the 1930s. They married in 1934.

First known for serving the automotive industry, the company expanded to provide the voice of the customer to travel, banking, telecom and other industries.

Performing well on these consumer surveys became a noteworthy and important part of marketing campaigns.

Headquartered in Costa Mesa, Calif., its offices serve North/South America, Asia Pacific and Europe.

J.D. Power is a portfolio company of XIO Group, a global alternative investments and private equity firm headquartered in London.

SMC Foundation insures all eligible students have financial access to college education.

This non-profit, tax-exempt corporation established in 1970 bridges the financial gap between students’ needs and resources with scholarships.

This year the foundation embarked on a $2.6 million major gift initiative to provide funding for the Nursing and Health Education expansion on the Dowagiac campus.    

To learn more about the foundation's major gift initiative and support changing lives, visit www.swmich.edu/giving.

Or, contact Toney at: SMC Foundation, 58900 Cherry Grove Road, Dowagiac, MI 49047; (269) 782-1301; or etoney@swmich.edu.