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CEOs across region share expert experiences and advice on growth, culture, and finding success in U.P.

lead to succeed - Steve Arwood

UPPER PENINSULA, Mich. (Tues. June 15, 2021) – InvestUP is pleased to announce its new series, Lead to Succeed: Conversations with U.P. Business Leaders. Hosted by Steve Arwood, InvestUP strategic advisor and former CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, the series will explore the opportunities and challenges of leading a business in the U.P. Found at and available on all podcast platforms, Lead to Succeed will introduce successful business leaders from across Michigan’s Upper Peninsula in a variety of industries and sectors.

With extensive experience and vast knowledge of the business landscape across the U.P., Steve Arwood was a clear choice to host the series. His open, engaging personality and thought-provoking questions invite guests to share valuable stories and insights that motivate, encourage, and empower the business community to be successful.

The first interview (found here) features Steve Hicks, CEO of Longyear Corporation. Longyear, headquartered in Marquette, is an entrepreneurial U.P.-based asset management company that has been in business for more than 145 years. Longyear is the parent company of JML Forestry, Northern Hardwoods, and Able Medical Devices, so Steve Hicks’ knowledge spans unique industries. Hicks offers insights on the advantages of leading a business in the Upper Peninsula, how the pandemic has impacted the business landscape, and his advice for business leadership. “Don’t try to be perfect,” he says. “You’ll never get everything right. If you make a mistake, learn from it. If you make a mistake, don’t stop. Keep going.”

In Episode 2 (found here), Gina Thorsen, president of Stormy Kromer, offers a unique perspective of leading a business in the Upper Peninsula as she transitioned into a leadership role that came with the responsibility of upholding the brand—a U.P. legacy. Gina shares insights on how the company overcame the challenges of hiring during the changing landscape of the pandemic. “We try to let our culture be one of the differentiators for why people want to come work here,” she explains. “The pandemic has made people look at their priorities and what they want out of life. I think the U.P. has a tremendous opportunity to attract folks who don’t want to live in a city anymore. They can work where in 15 minutes after work, they can be on the bike trail, they can be on water, they can be skiing.”

“InvestUP and our Board of Directors understand that our greatest opportunity to strengthen the U.P. economy is by strengthening our businesses. The leaders of our businesses play a key role,” says Karyn Olsson, InvestUP board member and CEO of Marketing Department, Inc. “When business owners and CEOs share success stories and struggles, others will learn from that. We hope this series will empower presidents, CEOs, owners, managers, and anyone leading a business to innovate and grow in the Upper Peninsula.”

Lead to Succeed: Conversations with U.P. Business Leaders can be found at and on all podcast platforms, including Apple, Spotify, and Google Podcasts.

About InvestUP
InvestUP is a private sector-led economic development organization keenly focused on driving economic growth across Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Founded by the region’s leading private sector businesses and the region’s universities, its mission is to deliver business and job growth across the peninsula.

About JM Longyear
JM Longyear is a Michigan-based asset management company in Marquette, Michigan. The Longyear family of business includes JML Forestry, Northern Hardwoods, and Able Medical Devices. As a long-term investor and employer, Longyear has, is, and will continue to support prosperity in the region with more than 150 employees, hundreds of contractors, and continued investment. The company’s success is driven by a 150-year track record of long-term investment, ability to manage assets, and opportunistic growth strategy.

About Stormy Kromer
Established in 1903, Stormy Kromer is an outdoor apparel company comprised of genuine, hardworking artisans who strive to provide classic, yet contemporary products with the same passion, purity, and practicality as the first Stormy Kromer cap over a century ago. Located in Michigan’s beautiful Upper Peninsula, today Stormy Kromer proudly continues its tradition of hand-crafting American made products and supporting American made jobs.

As a part of our commitment to the Upper Peninsula, we collaborate with partners to share some of the most compelling stories about business and job growth across the region. Our goal through these stories is to get at the heart of what makes the U.P. unique — and to ensure these stories travel beyond our peninsula and broadly illustrate why the UP is the place to live and work.

If you have an idea for an article, please contact a staff or board member at InvestUP.

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