Two Escanaba companies honored at the 20th Annual Michigan Celebrates Awards gala.

ESCANABA — Two long-time Escanaba businesses, Jim’s Music and Enterprises-USA, parent company of Delta Fence and Construction have been recognized as two of the 2024 awardees for the Michigan 50 Companies to Watch Award, presented by Michigan Celebrates Small Business.

Both Escanaba businesses were acknowledged on-stage at the awards ceremony during the 20th annual Michigan Celebrates Small Business Gala Tuesday.

The event was held at the Breslin Events Center on MSU’s campus. Over 800 guests attended and celebrated the 50 Companies to Watch in 2024.

The Escanaba businesses are two of six Upper Peninsula businesses to receive the award in 2024. Previous local awardees include Race Driven (2018), Delta Force PI (2020) and Independent Machine Company (2017).

Together, the 2024 Michigan 50 Companies to Watch have made a substantial collective economic impact, responsible for over $400 million in total annual revenue during 2023, and projected to increase their revenue by 18% in 2024. As a whole, they provide over 1,500 full-time equivalent employees, with the majority living within the state of Michigan, and are projected to create over 330 new jobs in 2024.

Hired in 2013 as a laborer and working his way up to vice president, Kevin Sodermark recounts, “Coming to this company and then seeing a future in it is very encouraging. To be able to be a part of one expansion and then now another expansion. Being a part of bringing people in, training people, and seeing them succeed has been very good,” said Kevin. “We are fortunate to have 15 full-time dedicated staff, most have younger families.” Kevin continues, “This award is great recognition for our staff, an exciting time for all of us.”

To be nominated for the Michigan 50 Companies to Watch Award, companies must be second-stage, defined as having 6 to 99 full-time-equivalent employees while generating between $750,000 to $50 million in annual revenue. Additional requirements include, that the companies must demonstrate the intent and capacity to grow, be privately held and located in Michigan.

Both Upper Peninsula businesses are headquartered in Escanaba. With Jim’s Music opening its first storefront along Escanaba’s downtown corridor. Now with stores in four locations, three in Michigan and one in Green Bay Wisconsin, Jim Dombrowski, Owner of Jim’s Music, highlights his business growth, “We opened the Marquette store (in 2003) because someone from Marquette came to us and said there is not a good band store up there.

Eventually, we found a good spot and opened a store there, kind of the same for Iron Mountain (2007) and Green Bay (2010).” What started in 1986 as a small-town music store, has organically blossomed into the multi-state, multi-location family business it is today.

Jim’s son EJ, who helps with the family business in Green Bay adds, “Growing up in the music retail business and working alongside my family has been incredibly rewarding. Being a part of people’s musical journeys and helping musicians of all ages find their passion for music has always been our goal. Seeing our company’s growth over the last generation has been amazing, and I’m excited about the future of Jim’s Music. We’re grateful to MCSB for this recognition.”

Michigan Celebrates received over 500 nominations for the 2024 Michigan 50 Companies to Watch Award. The businesses who are selected by the judges go through a vetting process prior to the final decision. When asked how he learned about the award, Jim acknowledged, “I’d heard about the award a long time ago, it wasn’t until this past year that we submitted for it.” When asked for advice to new business owners, Jim said, “I think the best thing that I’ve found is to go slow, a lot of times companies try to grow too fast.”


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