By Carol Cain
Dan Milstein immigrated to Ann Arbor from Russia as a teenager, along with his family, with 17 cents to his name.
His family didn’t have money and didn’t know many people in Michigan, but they had an incredible work ethic.
Milstein worked hard, very hard. And he created one of the nation’s most successful mortgage lending firms in the country where he serves as founder and CEO.
Gold Star Mortgage Financial Group did $1.5 billion in loans last year with employees in Ann Arbor and other offices across the country.
“It’s about having a dream and working very hard to achieve it,” said Milstein.
He shared some of his the secrets to his success as did entrepreneurs Rick McQueen, Denise Ilitch on a special “Michigan Matters” airing 11:30 a.m. Sunday on CBS62.
McQueen, founder and CEO of Granddad’s Sweet Tea, talked of his dream to market the beverage his grandfather created into one fighting the big boys for shelf space on retail shelves.
“I prayed to God and he lead me to do this,” McQueen said.
Ilitch, founder of Denise Ilitch Designs and co-publisher of Ambassador Magazine, talked about how she turned a jewelry making hobby several years ago into a thriving business that has captured the attention of consumers and major retailers alike.
And Frank Lavin, of Export Now, which is a firm helping Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) — the jobs creating arm of state government — appears with Paul Fu of Alibaba.com (a huge Chinese business to business e-commerce exchange) and Janet Wang, of tmall.com ( a sister division of Alibaba.com).
Export Now is working to offer Michigan small businesses the chance to sell their producers in China via the web at a discounted price to get a toe hold into the world’s most populated country with 1.3 billion people.
They have been holding seminars across the state of Michigan – which is the first in the country to do so – about the truly unique opportunity.
Companies like Nike, L’Oreal, General Motors and other are using the exchange with great success, Wang said.
“There is so much potential for businesses in Michigan in China,” Lavin added.
(Carol Cain is the Emmy winning Senior Producer and Host of “Michigan Matters”airing 11:30 a.m Sundays on CBS62. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org).