By Joanne Bailey-Boorsma
It was Bill Hoeneveld , the owner of the former Avon Hotel, who recommended to John VanderWeide that he might want to snap up the name Kentwood Plumbing and Heating.
“I was doing plumbing work for Avon Hotel at the time,” VanderWeide said. “It was 1967 and the city had just incorporated. Bill was like you might want to grab the name before someone else does.”
He did and just a month after the city had its first meeting in February, Kentwood Heating and Plumbing was born.
Almost fifty years from its start, VanderWeide, along with several other business owners and leaders representing around 23 Kentwood companies were recognized at a 50th anniversary breakfast Thursday morning at the KDL Kentwood (Richard L. Root) Library. The breakfast honored local establishments who have been in business since the city incorporated in 1967.
“When you succeed, we all succeed,” said Kentwood Mayor Stephen Kepley, who added that the city never wants to be a hindrance to business growth, but is here to work with its businesses. “I’m an engineer by trade and so I enjoy solving problems. If you see one or feel you have one, please contact me and we’ll sit down and work on it together.”
The 23 businesses that were recognized at the breakfast include Advance Packaging Corporation; Animal Hospital of Kentwood; Born Clinic, PC; Casa Via Motel; Christian Schools International; Consumers Energy; DTE Energy; Henry A. Fox Sales, Inc.; JC Penney Corporation; Kamminga and Roedvoets, Inc.; Kentwood Plumbing and Heating; Kentwood Fun Spot; Knoll, Inc.; Penning Plumbing; Plastic MoldTechnologies; Sears Roebuck & Co.; Siegel Jewelers; Spencer Gifts; Tubergen Saw & Cutter; Turner Industries; Velting Contractors; Woodland Shopping Center; and Zales Jewelry.
“It is an awesome thing you have done here,” said Bob O’Callaghan, president and CEO of Wyoming-Kentwood Area Chamber of Commerce, which along with the Kentwood Economic Development Corporation, sponsored the breakfast. “I just want to say thank you for staying in Kentwood and for helping to make the city what it is today.”
Each business received a special 50th anniversary clock statute featuring the anniversary logo. As part of its Kentwood 50 coverage, WKTV will be featuring each business on its news website, now.wktv.org, during the next several months.
“This is really an honor to be able to see some of the faces who helped shape this area,” said Joey Jacobson, a long time resident to the area who recently started working at Spencer Gifts, located in Woodland Mall. “To be able to start my career by being at this 50th anniversary event is a real honor and a cool transition as one generation starts to take over for the next.”
Specner Gifts Store Manager Megan LaClair said many people do not realize the company has such a long history. Spencer Gifts started in 1947 in Easton, Penn. Its first location in Grand Rapids was at the North Kent Mall and it moved to Woodland Mall shortly after the mall opened.
“We have played musical store fronts at the mall, but have been then since its inception,” LaClair said, adding that she has only been with the company for four years and was pleasantly surprised to learn of Spencer Gifts history with the city and honored to receive the award for the store.