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Terry Berden started Great Lakes Stainless in 1995 as an offshoot of his original refrigeration company, but by 1998, the stainless operation had outgrown the parent company, and in 2012, Berden sold the refrigeration business to allow him to expand the scope of the stainless business and to focus on bigger and bigger stainless clients. Today Great Lakes Stainless operates in four key areas: commercial food service, custom projects, buffing and polishing and airline terminals. From its headquarters near Traverse City, the company has seen remarkable success in landing household-name clients. Great Lakes Stainless worked on stadiums for both the Kansas City Chiefs and Royals, and has worked on high profile airline terminal installations (think stainless ticketing counters and baggage carousels) like London Heathrow Airport. Berden also co-founded a company, Healthy Energy Resources, to produce a device targeted for schoolrooms that heats, cools and purifies room air. Called Aristotle-Air, the unit can reportedly achieve energy savings up to 40 percent while reducing the spread of classroom illnesses.
When the company first purchased its 50,000-square-foot plant near Traverse City, Berden wondered how his crew would ever fill it, but recently the company added 10,000 square feet. Along the way, the company's workforce has grown from 34 in 2005 to 61 today. Looking forward, the company expects growth to derive from the Aristotle-Air rollout and from a new division that focuses on custom millwork for airlines. Hiring will follow suit, with a growing need for cabinetmakers and assemblers.