One-of-a-kind small and medium business conference to be held in downtown Kalamazoo

Contact: Stacey Anderson

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—The Co. Lab, a new conference focused on small and medium businesses and their unique needs, is being hosted by Western Michigan University’s Haworth College of Business on Sept. 25 and 26. The casual, two-day conference is made possible by the Menard family and offers engaging presentations and interactive sessions led by seasoned leaders who will share their firsthand inspiring experiences and practical advice. Conference attendees will get a fresh perspective on the biggest challenges businesses face. From making the most of limited resources, to creating a healthy and dynamic company culture, to investing in and financing small business, The Co. Lab covers it all.

The event’s innovative, multi-venue format, with sessions held in a variety of offices, historic buildings and iconic downtown spaces—all within a walkable distance—will allow conference participants to explore downtown Kalamazoo and have an immersive experience in the community. Beyond the conference sessions themselves, attendees will have opportunities for fun and connection, with optional activities like yoga, running groups, live music and cocktail hours that are built into each day.

Format and featured speakers

The Co. Lab format enables participants to have full control over their individual agenda selecting from dozens of topics and speakers to build a tailored experience. Hear from leading experts such as:

  • Michael J. McFall, founder and CEO of Biggby Coffee, who grew his business from one location to over 375 locations in 13 states.
  • Claire Lew, CEO of Canopy, who left a disappointing job at a startup before building her leadership development company that serves more than 15,000 people. 
  • Ari Weinzweig, founder of Zingerman’s Community of Businesses, who started with one deli in Ann Arbor and went on to establish the iconic Zingerman’s brand across 10 restaurants.
  • Verne Harnish, founder of Entrepreneurs Organization and CEO of Scaling Up, who is renowned in global executive education and coaching.
  • Dr. Tom Deans, author and thought leader on inter-generational wealth transfer, who goes beyond money and tax plans to give people the confidence and inspiration to transition more than just assets to family and community.

"The Co. Lab reinvents the conference experience for small and medium business leaders,” says Dr. Derrick McIver, WMU associate professor of management and co-founder and managing partner of Sleeping Giant Capital. “Located throughout downtown Kalamazoo, The Co. Lab empowers you with a choice of over 40 gatherings where you can work alongside other growth-focused leaders to elevate yourself and your business."

Visit to learn more and register. Early-bird pricing—a savings of 25% on registration—is in effect until June 30.

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