Alan Kaniarz started working out of the Russell Industrial Center before it was cool...before it was even a destination for artisans and small businesses.
Kaniarz moved into the Russell Industrial Center
in 1988. He and a handful of other woodworkers took over a few thousand square feet of the industrial space and created a wood shop. A few years later he took over his own space (6,000 square feet) and started to build his two business (AK Services
and Mobel Link Modern Furniture
) from there.
"I never thought I would be there this long," Kaniarz says. "When we moved in here the Russell Center was largely utilized by people in the printing business. Everything that had anything to do with printing was done there."
That ended in the early 2000s as many of the printing businesses left. A series of new owners came and went until Greektown-based real-estate investor Dennis Kefallinos
bought the Russell in 2003. He saw a couple of local artisans like Kaniarz making a go of it in a few thousand square feet of cheap commercial space and used that as inspiration to make the Russell Industrial Center the entrepreneurial hub it is today.
"The Russell Center has way more of a neighborhood feel than it used to," Kaniarz says.
AK Services has been working in the Russell Industrial Center since the first day Kaniarz moved in, making custom doors, fixing stain-glass windows, and restoring vintage lights. Kaniarz launched Mobel Link Modern Furniture a few years ago and started selling custom furniture, too.
"The introduction of the furniture line has definitely added to the bottom line," Kaniarz says.
Revenues are up about five percent over the last year, and Kaniarz expects that number to keep growing. Today his two businesses have grown to employ three people and Kaniarz is optimistic that number will grow, too.
Source: Alan Kaniarz, president for life of AK Services and Mobel Link Modern Furniture
Writer: Jon Zemke
Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.