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Zingerman's Cornman Farms illustrates industry diversity of FastTrack Award winners

Ann Arbor SPARK awards high-growth companies each year

The historic farmhouse at Zingerman’s Cornman Farms, is a great site for team building activities such as cooking classes with executive chef and co-managing partner Kieron Hales. (Courtesy: Zingerman’s Cornman Farms)

ANN ARBORAnn Arbor SPARK recognizes fast-growing companies during its annual FastTrack Awards with support from 2019 presenting sponsor Northstar Bank. We recently invited some of last year’s winners to share their story with us. 

In 2018, Zingerman’s Cornman Farms qualified for its first Ann Arbor SPARK FastTrack Award. Managing partners Tabitha Mason and Kieron Hales learned of the award from one of their earliest employees. "Margaret Wyzlic, who was the first official employee here and is now working with our friends at Destination Ann Arbor, forwarded details about the award encouraging us to apply," recalled Tabitha.

FastTrack recognizes companies headquartered in Washtenaw and Livingston counties which have experienced 20 percent year-over-year growth for three consecutive years. Having opened its doors in May 2014, last year was the first time Cornman Farms qualified for the award.

Tabitha Mason accepts the 2018 FastTrack Award on behalf of Cornman Farms from Paul Krutko, Ann Arbor SPARK president and CEO. (Courtesy: Ann Arbor SPARK)

"The FastTrack Award was first created by the Washtenaw Development Council, which by combining forces with the Ann Arbor IT Zone resulted in Ann Arbor SPARK," said Alex West, Ann Arbor SPARK director of research. "When we look back on the history of the award, there are more than 20 years of data representing the full spectrum of industry diversity in our region as well as our efforts to help celebrate economic development."

Initially, Tabitha thought there was a very good chance Cornman Farms would qualify. "We practice open-book management at the farm. Our team meets every week to review the numbers and when I heard of the award, I thought it was another way for us to practice transparency."

The adoption of open-book management actually allowed Tabitha to delegate the application process to a member of her team. "He said the entire process was really easy — that he just had to plug in a few numbers into the application form."

FastTrack award recipients are celebrated at an evening cocktail reception and award ceremony, which was another element Tabitha appreciated. “It was great being able to connect with the region’s business community. While our venue has gained a lot of recognition for big social events such as weddings, our property is also perfect for hosting offsite meetings, board retreats, and team-building activities such as cooking classes with our executive chef and co-managing partner Kieron Hales. We love hosting these types of events because we believe the stronger the business community, the better we all are.”

FastTrack Award applications are open through May 1. Learn more at AnnArborUSA.org.

Award winners will be recognized Monday, June 10, at an evening reception concluding the weeklong a2Tech360 series. 

Ann Arbor SPARK, a non-profit organization, is advancing the region by encouraging and supporting business acceleration, attraction, and retention. The organization identifies and meets the needs of business at every stage, from start-ups to large organizations. Ann Arbor SPARK collaborates with business, academic, government, and community investor partners. 

This story was sponsored by Ann Arbor SPARK.

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