People are jazzed up about exercising in The Clem


Jazzercise Mount Clemens is a growing Macomb County business that has made it over the first big hill of surviving a year in a new location. They are celebrating their one-year anniversary on Saturday, Aug. 13 with an open house and free classes.

jazz 3Jazzercise Mount Clemens owner Lisa Michalik started with one instructor (herself) and three classes per week, renting space and holding classes inside the Mount Clemens Ice Arena for 3 1/2 years. But they were growing and needed to move into their own space. Through my role as senior economic development specialist for Macomb County, I helped Michalik locate her current building, a facility that had been left vacant for a number of years due to economic downturn. Michalik moved in and invested in renovations. The current center is conveniently located right across the street from the ice arena.

jazz 2I attended the official grand opening celebration held on Aug. 15, 2015 with Mount Clemens Mayor Barb Dempsey and Pat Marshall from the Macomb County Chamber also in attendance. Over the past year, I have worked to help this business succeed in Macomb County. This has included presenting ideas on how to grow the business, providing referrals for printed materials and window advertising and offering suggestions for problem solving.

Since opening, they have gone from offering five different class formats with six certified Jazzercise instructors teaching 19 classes per week to offering 10 class formats and 10 instructors teaching 32 classes per week! With this being a primarily female-oriented business (although men are welcome), having childcare available so moms with little ones can get one hour of “Me Time” is of utmost importance. Jazzercise Mount Clemens originally had three classes per week with babysitting and now has seven class times with babysitting available.

jazz 1Michalik said she teaches Jazzercise to a diverse group representing all ages and body types. She is a life-long resident of Macomb County and says she opened a franchise because she never was able to commit to fitness until finding Jazzercise. She wanted to bring this fun fitness program to the community so residents could reap the benefits.

So what is Jazzercise? It is a dance-based fitness program. Although it was founded in 1969 by professional dancer Judi Sheppard Missett, no dance experience is needed to successfully complete the classes. Jazzercise has evolved over the years and withstood the test of time as a quality fitness program for students of all ages and fitness levels.

Class formats include:  Dance Mixx, Core, Interval Fusion, Interval Dance Mixx, Flip Fusion, Strike, Strength 60, Strength 45, Express and Lo.

The certified instructors at Jazzercise Mount Clemens face the students and cue the moves during routines that are set to popular music heard on the radio. Modifications are provided to meet all fitness levels.

You can find the Jazzercise Mount Clemens team at events in the community throughout the year such as Bikes, Burgers & Brews, the Mount Clemens Trunk or Treat, Relay for Life, the Mount Clemens Cruise and Let’s Move Festival of Races. They also participate in fundraising for community organizations such as the Macomb County Food Bank, Turning Point Women’s Shelter, Relay for Life, Shoes for Soles and Abigayle Ministries.

To celebrate the one-year anniversary (or “Jazzerversary” as they call it), an open house will be held Aug. 13 with all classes FREE. Join Jazzercise Mount Clemens from 8 a.m. until noon and try out three of the class formats: Strength 60 at 8:20 a.m., Dance Mixx at 9:30 a.m. and Lo at 10:40 a.m. (attend as many as you’d like at no charge). Refreshments will be served and prizes will be given away.

New customers (or those who have not been a member in the past 6 months) can join for $0 with a 6- or 12-month registration (first auto payment Oct. 1). Arrive 15 minutes before the first class you plan to attend, and bring handheld weights if you have them. For the complete class schedule, visit:

While working with this business, I have had a chance to meet some of Michalik’s customers and hear why they love Jazzercise Mount Clemens so much. The one thing you notice right away is how the members enjoy socializing with each other and what a happy environment has been created – it is a gym that is like no other I have been in. Participants laugh while they exercise, forgetting about their tough day. Many friendships have formed in these classes, and members even enjoy spending time together outside of class.

Jazzercise Mount Clemens is a happy place to meet with old friends or meet new ones while achieving your fitness goals. Prize incentives are offered throughout the year to help keep customers motivated and on track. Let’s face it, some days it’s tough to squeeze your workout in, even when it’s as fun as Jazzercise. Hence, the attendance games held throughout the year.

If you can’t make it to the one-year anniversary celebration, you can take advantage of the $0 to join with a 6- or 12-month registration through Sept. 15. Keep in mind, the sooner you get started at Jazzercise Mount Clemens, the more you’ll get for your money, and it will be that much sooner that you make a commitment to your overall well-being by incorporating Jazzercise fitness classes into your life.

Jazzercise Mount Clemens Fitness Center

273 N. Groesbeck

Mount Clemens, MI 48043

(586) 307-5299


Class schedule and more info:

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Johns, Jack IMG_0030Jack Johns is a senior economic development specialist for the Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development. He specializes in working with food, agriculture, energy, robotics, autonomous vehicle and retail businesses. If you are a business owner and would like to contact him, email or call (586) 469-6293.    

Customer service done the “Harder” way

Harder 2When I recently pulled into the Harder Auto Parts store on Groesbeck in Clinton Township, I was reminiscing back to when my father would take me there in his 1970 aqua blue F250, which I could barely see over the dash. I’m going back to the days when the gas tank for the truck was behind your seat, and you had just a lap belt restraint.

Richard Harder owns and runs the store with his son Ryan, and it is the type of place where they greet you as soon as you walk in. They ask you what you need and walk you right to it. They know where every single item is in the store because they put it there. It is a friendly family store where they know what type of oil you prefer and the color of the vehicle you drive. It is the Cheers bar of auto parts, for those who remember that show, where everybody knows your name. What I was not aware of is just how far back the history goes of his family owning local businesses. I had a chance to talk to Richard one day between him helping customers to really get a feel for how important this business is to him and his family.

Harder 1Russell Harder, Richard’s father, back in 1940 owned and operated the Sinclair gas station on Jones and North Avenue in Mount Clemens. I mentioned that little fun fact to my mother, and she responded without hesitation, “They sure did, and they have always been the nicest people.” Nineteen years later, Russell opened up the Harder Oil Company right across the street from today’s Harder Auto Parts on Groesbeck just south of Hall Road (M-59). He ran that store until 1987 and then helped with his son’s store until he was into his 90s.

Richard always wanted a business and knew he was going to own one from age 10 working for his father. His mom wanted him to go to college, so he ended up going to Western Michigan University and took some automotive classes for a year. He liked it so much that he continued on to graduate with an automotive engineering degree. While in college, he joined the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps and was in the reserves for a total of eight years. He opened up the business in 1977 with financial help from his father.

“Personal service is what has kept us around,” said Richard.

Harder 3When they first opened, there was not a lot of competition in the area, and now they are dealing with the big box stores and many other auto parts stores in the area. They used to order all the parts from a book over the phone, and then through the years, they had to learn how to use the computer, which took a little time. He told me there were more than 30 distributors out of Detroit buying from local manufacturers, and many of the parts at that time were made in the USA. Now with the global economy, the distributors have dwindled down to just a couple that buy the parts from other countries, so they had to change with the times.

Richard says that if they don’t have it in the store, they can get pretty much any auto part for foreign or domestic vehicles. They also have a great rapport with Hanks Auto Service next door that works on vehicles, and they will send customers to each other.

Harder Auto Parts is also a FFL dealer of firearms and carries a few products in the store. The son, Ryan, picks up extra business during the warmer Michigan months doing auto detailing in the back of the shop. I asked Richard if he is going to retire, and his response was he will hand the business over to his son one day, and he will be like his father before him, helping around the shop.

Richard says they have known customers their entire lives, and now their kids are having kids. They have a solid group of customers that come in year after year. In my case, like my father before me doing business with Russell and Richard Harder, now I see Richard and his son Ryan when I go there. Maybe someday I will see another Harder family member stepping in to help Ryan. Then hopefully for small business’ sake and good customer service, that lifecycle of proud business ownership will continue on this little slice of land in Macomb County under the Harder name.

Harder Auto Parts
44000 Groesbeck Hwy.
Clinton Township, MI 48036
(586) 468-1511

Jack Johns is a senior economic development specialist with the Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development. He specializes in assisting food and agriculture, automotive, energy and retail companies.


Healthy food just became a lot more convenient

Clean Planet Foods was born from the same food entrepreneurs that created the very successful Garden Fresh Gourmet brand, which most of us know from their salsa, tortilla chips, hummus and dips. When I first tasted the products from Clean Planet Foods, based in Clinton Township, I was amazed how fresh it tasted and how simple it was to prepare. A light bulb immediately went off in my head: This is how I can eat healthy at work and at home with only a minute or two to prepare my meal. The selection keeps growing as well, from chicken to turkey patties, and now I just had some great meatballs.

Cp2One of my favorite parts about Clean Planet Foods is that they want a really healthy, fresh product with the highest food safety that can be delivered. They put each product into a High Pressure Pasteurization machine that seals in the freshness and helps keep your product safe. Another great part about this is you can order online at, and fresh products will show up at the door in a 10- or 30-count box, and you can reorder automatically. Continue reading for what owner Jack Aronson says about his newest product line.

Jack Johns is a senior economic development specialist with the Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development. He specializes in assisting food and agriculture, automotive, energy and retail companies.


Dear Fellow Food and Fitness Lover,

I founded Clean Planet on simple, down-to-earth principles. Make honest and healthy food, make it safe and out-of-this-world good, and make it easy to get and prepare. After all, what’s the point of being healthy if you can’t enjoy life? So, I got together with some of my favorite chefs, and along with nationally-syndicated health and fitness coach Peter Nielsen, we set about creating a line of outrageously tasty, fully-cooked whole proteins using some of my best recipes. As a team, we worked hard to make them delicious, nutritious and quick. When we finished, we knew that we had before us the cleanest, most convenient, most mouth-watering line of proteins the world had ever seen. It seemed only appropriate to name the line something special, so we called it Clean Planet.

Although our principles are modest, our goal is not. Simply put, we’re out to change the way the world eats for the better. It all starts with your visit to another planet, a planet without compromise.

No need to compromise on taste. From our juicy turkey patties to our tender, melt-in-your-mouth, Jamaican-style jerk chicken, these chef-inspired proteins are as good to eat as anything you’ll find in your favorite four-star restaurant.

No need to compromise on nutrition. Our gluten-free, center-of-plate meat products are loaded with delicious, whole protein, as many as 26 grams in a single serving, and contain no artificial additives.

No need to compromise on convenience. Each Clean Planet protein serving comes individually wrapped in a special food-safe pouch designed to steam in all the natural juices. And variety? Trust me, with our wide assortment of flavors, you will never get bored.

Don’t look for us in the grocery store. The only way to enjoy Clean Planet proteins is to order them direct online or purchase them through one of our affiliates.

Looking to build lean muscle? Interested in shedding a few pounds by eating right? Maybe you just want to feel better. Only you can know what’s in your heart. And only you can do what’s best for your heart. It all starts with you.  So make Clean Planet a regular stop as you travel through the galaxy of food choices in this land of abundance. We know your life will change – for the better.

Jack Aronson is the founder and chief protein officer of Clean Planet Foods.


Natural product line gives Choices Natur Kosmetik edge

As an amateur soap maker, I was really excited when Senior Economic Development Specialist Jack Johns and Project Coordinator Camille Silda invited me on a retention visit to Choices Natur Kosmetik. Not only did I learn about the company’s philosophy and incredible growth, but I also got to smell some really delightful aromas in the process.


As is the case with many entrepreneurs, Choices started out in the creator’s basement. This past June, Helga Soave opened a 2,000-square-foot storefront in Shelby Township. Her primary focus was on selling wholesale, but since her boutique has opened, retail sales have doubled her wholesale revenue. Soave credits the uptick to Macomb County consumers’ desire for healthy and natural products.

According to Soave, while the cosmetic industry suffered during the Great Recession, organic body care saw an upward trend, and the market for organic products continues to increase. Choices’ revenue is up an impressive 200 percent from last February. The company is looking to hire more staff and intends to open several other retail locations and a manufacturing site.

Mickie Wolf, the company’s cosmetic chemist, handles product development. Soave found Wolf through Macomb/St. Clair Michigan Works! and is working with them to add another employee. Soave has also been working with the Small Business Development Center to explore franchising opportunities. Our staff at Macomb County Planning & Economic Development has been collaborating with the company for several years, providing site analysis reports when they began their search for a commercial building.

In an effort to create a healthy lifestyle for her family, Soave found that she couldn’t find the type of chemical-free products she was looking for, so she began to make them herself. She uses natural and organic ingredients and essential oils. She adheres to the European Union Cosmetics Regulation, which is more restrictive than the United States’ regulations.

Soave credits her current success to the Beaumont Hospital farmers markets, which gave her the opportunity to interact with customers, gauge her prices and evaluate her packaging. Today Beaumont is one of Soave’s wholesale clients.


Choices is the only bath care company in the United States that enables customers to create their own custom blends. Soave, who previously worked as a chemist and an esthetician, saw that people with many different skin issues were being treated with the same products. This gave her the idea to let customers choose their own essential oils to build a combination that best suits their needs.

“We use exactly what you need, so it fits,” said Soave.

Each customer’s scent combination is stored on file, making it easy to reorder next time. The store also strives to be environmentally friendly. Many of their products come in reusable glass jars. When you run out of product, instead of buying another container that may end up in a landfill, you buy a pouch to take home and refill your jar.


Choices is a very welcoming environment. There are sinks in the middle of the building so customers can try soap scrubs to find which ones they like best. The essential oils are available for smelling and trying new combinations. Soave encourages customers to read the back of each essential oil to learn more about it. The staff is also willing to answer questions and provide guidance.

The natural product line, customized merchandise and environmentally-responsible focus set Choices apart from other bath and body product manufacturers and retailers. This is definitely a Macomb County business to watch.

Caitlin Gerds-Habermas is an associate planner in Business Outreach and Communications for the Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development.

Retaining Macomb County businesses one cup of coffee at a time

I recently tagged along on a retention meeting Senior Economic Development Specialist Jack Johns scheduled with Minha’s Coffee Haus, a new business in Mount Clemens. It is called a retention meeting because one of the Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development’s objectives is to retain existing businesses in the county by connecting them with services and resources that will help them grow and succeed.

Johns, known as the food czar to some due to his extensive work with agricultural and food-processing companies, wanted to check in with Minha’s Coffee Haus to see how he may be able to assist with any needs they may have. Of course, he also wanted to get his hot chocolate fix for the day.

We met with Sora Childress and learned about the business. They are renting a 1,200-square-foot space in the heart of Mount Clemens at 58 Cherry Street. They serve coffee, caramel macchiato, Mexican hot chocolate, espresso, cappuccino, chai lattes, water and pop as well as a rotation of baked items. They had a soft opening on Monday, Dec. 28 and have already met with officials from the city of Mount Clemens, the Downtown Development Authority and other small businesses nearby.

After learning more about Minha’s Coffee Haus, Johns was able to determine a list of needs. They are considering expanding their baked goods selection, so Johns was able to connect her with other Macomb County small businesses that make and package baked goods. He also offered marketing ideas ranging from signage to business cards.

Johns was also able to provide her with information about where to acquire affordable commercial machinery, a list of local packaging suppliers, information about free internship programs and a food-safe cleaning supplies contact.

At the end of the meeting, Johns promised to follow up with additional information and check back in. He also offered his assistance for any future issues that may occur.

If you are a Macomb County business and would like to know more about the services our department offers, contact us at (586) 469-5285 or visit our website at

Click here to read more about Minha’s Coffee Haus on the Make Macomb Your Home Blog.

Caitlin Gerds-Habermas is an associate planner in Business Outreach and Communications for the Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development.