Jossalyn Rogalski wondered how Lyons Industries decided to produce bath products. Dowagiac Mayor Donald Lyons, addressing Educational Talent Search’s inaugural Entrepreneur Academy July 23 at Southwestern Michigan College, recalled introducing plumbing vents to the mobile home industry. Injection-molded plastic pieces three inches tall by two inches in diameter sold for 49 cents. “We sold 17,000 in 1970 and 19,000 in 1971,” Lyons said. “By 1975, we had sold over a million.” But Lyons knew he needed to identify something he could sell for $49 to sustain growth. “As we developed more products, we found any time we dealt with something plumbing-related made from plastic, that venture was successful. I didn’t start with a product, just the knowledge I couldn’t work for somebody else.” Now, the four-acre Lyons factory on M-62 West run by his son Lance employs 125 people.
Southwestern Michigan College alumnus Steve Vojtko’s July 1 death at 61 left a void in two states. His active life enhanced communities 35 miles apart — New Carlisle, Ind., where he was Town Council vice president, and Eau Claire, where he managed the Fruit Exchange for 16 years. Mr. Vojtko, who had also farmed in the Cassopolis area, completed SMC associate degrees in agriculture management and in business management in the early 1990s. His memorials will help fund additional SMC agricultural scholarships.
Southwestern Michigan College President Dr. David Mathews Friday accepted a $7,000 donation from Fifth Third Bank Financial Center Manager Jeremy Truitt. Fifth Third is the premier sponsor of the 44th Steve’s Run July 28 on SMC’s Dowagiac campus.
Lewis Cass Intermediate School District social worker Michelle Kaminski (left), on behalf of Cass County Youth Council, July 19 delivered 144 adult toothbrushes to Southwestern Michigan College’s Roadrunner Kitchen.
Steve’s Run founder Ron Gunn serves as master of ceremonies for the 44th race Saturday, July 28, in front of the David C. Briegel Building on Southwestern Michigan College’s Dowagiac campus. “A lot of people did not know Steve, but everybody knows somebody touched by cancer who fought the same brave, determined battle,” said Gunn, who knew Steve Briegel very well.