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Lakeview Area Veterans Monument Taking Shape after Lean Management Student Team’s Support

PhotoLean Service Enterprise and Leadership students from Ferris State University have applied their learning to support fundraising for a Lakeview Area Veterans Monument. Its centerpiece is expected to be installed by Memorial Day, May 30. A website, complete with QR codes to facilitate donations to the Montcalm County facility, was developed by the students. (Project renderings are courtesy of Seven Generations A/E)

Lean Service Enterprise and Leadership students in Ferris State University’s College of Business enjoyed a meaningful experiential learning opportunity during the Fall 2021 semester. The students, helping to put key elements in place, moved the Lakeview Area Veterans Monument closer to completion.

John Grawburg, a veteran of the United States Marines who served in Vietnam, was a local organizer. After years of proposing the local memorial, he sought help from the Business Innovation and Lean Center with varied results.

“We brought our ideas to some community leaders, but the proper location and the support we needed came when we started collaborating with Lakeview’s village manager, Darin Dood,” Grawburg said. “It was exciting to be connected with the students in the Ferris course, to advance the project we had hoped for over many years.”

Montcalm County natives Elise Gorby and Kristina Rousseau took part with the project team. Zach Lisman, of Spring Lake, joined them. Gorby said their initiatives included developing an online presence for the Veterans Monument, which accepts donations through the Greenville Area Community Foundation.

“As someone who grew up in the Lakeview area, this project was close to my heart,” Gorby said. “My great grandpas were veterans from the area, and it is so nice to see that the community is working on a monument to honor those who made significant sacrifices for our freedoms. I am so thankful that this class allowed me to use the skills I have been learning about for years and new lean skills to be a part of something bigger than myself. I am glad I could help make a difference in the community.”

The Lakeview Area Veterans Monument website includes a QR code to accept donations; something Grawburg found impressive.

“We loved how they showed real imagination and ambition for our project,” Grawburg said. “Their technical savvy and promotions were far beyond our abilities. We are so glad to have their support and skill with these technologies.

To avoid mistakes, the students used poka-yoke, a lean manufacturing proofing process.

“This was a great opportunity to apply classroom knowledge in a hands-on environment,” Rousseau said. “I am thankful to our sponsors, John and Kathy Grawburg and Bill Helmer, with Robbert Construction for working with us and providing an incredible amount of creative freedom. They have helped me grow my lean and leadership skills, which will stick with me throughout my educational and professional endeavors.”

Grawburg said a 60-foot flagpole for the American flag had been in place, 40-foot poles now bear the state of Michigan flag and a POW-MIA banner on-site, following installation in December 2021.

“Our progress continues, though we have had issues with a monument, which is being developed,” Grawburg said. “The intention is to have that centerpiece for the project in place by Memorial Day this year. With landscaping and other elements, this has turned into a $100,000 project. So, any interest and support we receive are greatly appreciated.”

“I am not from the Lakeview area, but it has been a pleasure working with the Grawburgs hoping to fulfil their dream,” Lisman said. “My groupmates and I implemented various LEAN tools that we learned from Management Professor Lisa Eshbach’s class. After a brief period, we were able to identify the positive impacts of LEAN. I really enjoyed taking the knowledge that I learned in class, and apply it to a real-life situation.”

The Lakeview Area Veterans Monument project has a Spring 2022 semester team continuing support for this appeal. Grawburg was honored to come to the College of Business building and watch his student team make a presentation on their work.

“When we were there, I thought Dr. Eshbach took to what Elise, Kristina and Zach had to say about the process and their results,” Grawburg said. “We will accept in-kind support with as much respect and thanks as the monetary donations since that would allow us to landscape the grounds and present a monument that honors our veterans and their families.”

Grawburg also credited Associate Professor of Management Leslie Sukup, who, through a chance meeting at a community gathering in the summer of 2021, directed the organizers to seek help through Ferris’ Business Innovation and Lean Center.