Elite 40 Under 40 2015 – Forum 3


This morning, Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson chatted with members of the 2015 Elite 40 Under 40, including one from the 2014 class, at the third Elite 40 Forum. The County Executive enjoys hosting smaller groups so the members can get to know one another, and the county as well, on a less formal and more intimate scale. In attendance were: Andrew Chmielewski, Mitten Crate & Dave’s Sweet Tooth; Brandon Curry, Federal-Mogul Holdings Corporation; Gregg Garrett, CGS Advisors, LLC; Paul Mersino, Butzel Long; Mike Roth, National Technology Management; and Susan Kruger, Soar Learning, Inc.


L. Brooks Patterson welcomed the Elite 40 members and said, “I want to know more about the Elite 40. I truly believe you are going to be the movers and shakers that will drive the future of Oakland County.” Patterson asked each member to share a little bit about themselves and the work that they do.

Andrew Chmielewski, Food Artisan and Founder of Mitten Crate and Dave’s Sweet Tooth, shared that Mitten Crate has been able to donate over 60,000 meals to Gleaners Food Bank through the sales of their great tasting and ‘unique to Michigan’ products. Andrew said that social entrepreneurship is a huge part of what he does and having a good product is an added bonus.

Gregg Garrett, CEO and Managing Director at CGS Advisors, LLC, is responsible for advising corporate advisors on how to strategically transform through enterprise innovation. Gregg has spoken at over 50 global conferences on the topics of ‘the internet of things’ and innovation. He enjoys giving back to his alma mater, Oakland University by being a mentor at the school’s innovation programs.

Mike Roth is President of National Technology Management where his goal is to help those that are experts in their craft. His company provides a complete took kit of IT and business process related services for IT managers and executives. Mike’s focus is on investing in small businesses and maintaining a relationship that leads to a life long partnership. In addition, Mike is a volunteer firefighter at the Franklin Bingham Fire Department and also serves on Oakland County’s Hazmat team.

Susan Kruger struggled as a school student and came to realize that she was missing something vital to her success: a strategy. Having a passion for teaching and wanting to help students learn to use strategies that work for them, Susan founded SOAR Learning, Inc. Her curriculum is based on study skills and soft skills. Susan shared that 95% of the top skills that make students successful in school are the same skills that are needed in the work place. Susan is a member, and winner, of the 2014 Elite 40 Under 40 class who was excited to meet with members of 2015 class today.

Paul Mersino grew up in Oakland County and works as an attorney at Butzel Long. Paul specializes in business litigation and represents all types of businesses, from mom-and-pop shops to Fortune 500 companies. Paul gives back to the community and is active in his children’s school and church. He especially enjoys working with startups and incubators through Automation Alley.

Brandon Curry is Director, Global Talent Management at Federal-Mogul Holdings Corporation. Brandon helps companies build more effective and engaged talent by giving them the skills to work at scale, leverage strengths and find what causes both success and failures. Brandon is also a member of the Oakland County Workforce Development board. He said, “My personal mission is to help build more engaged and effective organizations, talents and lives.”


The group was also joined by CIO/Deputy County Executive, Phil Bertolini; Deputy Oakland County Executive, Matt Gibb; and Elite 40 Program Coordinator, Kristie Everett Zamora. Bertolini discussed changes and shifts in technology. He also addressed public infrastructure and how to find value in information that’s being created. Gibb invited the group to take advantage of Oakland County workshops and services. He shared that the Oakland County Small Business Center created capital of over $100M in SBA spending last year. Zamora shared examples of the many ways that the Elite 40 class members can connect with one another via social media. Everyone in the room took time to take a look at Oakland County Prosper magazine as well.

Patterson let the group know that he was pleased to have them and thanked everyone for coming. He posed for a picture with members of the forum and shared that he’s excited for the future of Oakland County, especially after seeing what this group has to offer.


After the forum ended, several of the Elite 40 members stuck around to continue learning more about one another and the county. Valuable connections were made and we are excited to see what will be on the horizon for members of this extraordinary group.

Learn more about the Oakland County Executive’s Elite 40 Under 40 program at AdvantageOakland.com and view the entire class of 2015 HERE. You can stay connected with the program on Advantage Oakland’s Twitter & Facebook accounts using #Elite40.

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