The Construction Allies in Action Steering Committee is made up of successful minority contractors and oversees the Minority Business Strong Foundations Program. Want to get involved?
Director of Social Enterprise at Building Bridges Professional Services
Nate was born and raised in Grand Rapids Michigan. He is one of five siblings all engaged in social enterprise and community development work in Grand Rapids, MI. Nate has been married to his lovely wife for 10 years and has four children ages 13, 7, 4 and 1. As CEO of Building Bridges Professional Services and Rising Grinds Cafe which are two social enterprises apart of the Grand Rapids Center for Community Transformation network– his role is to be the visionary and drive results thru leadership development, key stakeholder engagement and new business development. Nate is passionate about developing and providing opportunities to indeginous entrepreneurs and incubating and operating transformational businesses that seek impact outside of just profits. Nate also serves as co chairman of the West Michigan Minority Contractors Association where he advocates for equity and diversity in the construction industry across West Michigan.
Jodi van Haren
Owner & CEO of Advantage Mechanical-Refrigeration
Jodi van Haren is the owner and CEO of Advantage Mechanical-Refrigeration (AMR), an established, reputable commercial and industrial high touch mechanical contractor headquartered in Comstock Park. For the last 19 years, Jodi has built AMR from a start-up company out of her house to one that employees 25 talented people and serves numerous customers across Michigan. Jodi is on various industry boards and is a member of the Sault Saint Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians. She credits her entrepreneurial spirit to her father’s influence in her life and any and all success to her creator.
Owner of Preferred Construction Group
Troy Yarbrough started Preferred Construction Group (PCG) in the fall of 2011 from his basement. Today, PCG is a respected and recognized Construction Management/General Contracting firm serving the greater Grand Rapids area and is located in the old firehouse building on the Southeast side of Grand Rapids. PCG’s niche is in the specialty construction required to install MRI’s, CT Scanners, and radiology equipment in healthcare renovations and working in occupied spaces of educational facilities. Attention to infection control, containment, safety, and noise reduction is what makes PCG’s projects successful and allows staff, patients, and students continued access to their facilities. Troy always tells his team, “we do not want to be everything to everyone, just great at what we do and who we do it for.”
Managing Partner at R&R Mechanical Services LLC
Ruben Ramos is a Managing Partner at R&R Mechanical Services, based in Grand Rapids, MI. He is a 12-year veteran of the Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) industry and has guided his business to continued and sustainable growth since it opened for business in 2008. The start-up company has evolved from a two-man operation serving residential customers, as its more recent clients include national chain restaurants, Grand Rapids Public Schools, Grand Rapids Community College, The City of Grand Rapids, and numerous Non-Profit organizations. R&R Mechanical has also been successful in establishing lasting working relationships with construction companies such as Rockford Construction, CD Barnes, and Wolverine Building Group among others.
Along with the tasks of overall business management and direction, Ruben has worn multiple hats with the company ranging from fieldwork to estimating and project management, to human resources, as well as business development. Ruben attributes a large part of the success of R&R Mechanical to the good synergy he has created with his business partner (and twin brother) Rolando Ramos.
Ruben was born in Illinois and spent his childhood years living in Mexico, but moved to Grand Rapids, MI in 1991 and has lived there since. He is married to Noemi Carrera and they have three children between the ages of 11 and 15.
Isaac V. Norris
Principal at Isaac V. Norris & Associates P.C.
Isaac V. Norris, AIA, NOMA has successfully owned and operated the architectural firm of Isaac V. Norris & Associates, P.C. for over 25 years. IVNA has served the City of Grand Rapids and the State of Michigan with quality architectural design and planning services on a variety of project types. Some of his most notable projects include; The Ray and Joan Kroc Corp Community Center, The Silverline BRT Stations, and the remodeling and addition to New Hope Baptist Church.
Isaac holds a Masters of Architecture degree from the University of Detroit and a Masters of Science in Construction Management from Western Michigan University.
Isaac has embraced the many opportunities to design and build in the community in which he lives.
Isaac is a native of Grand Rapids. He is married to his wife of 27 years. Together they have three adult children and two very active granddaughters.
Isaac has served on the UPREP board since 2012. And he has recently accepted a board position at New City Kids.
President & CEO of EM Services LLC
Laura Hopson is the President and CEO of EM Services, LLC. As a minority business owner, she is excited to embrace the true meaning of minority business development. Her focus not only is to help her customers streamline their current procurement processes and platforms but to help build a community network of businesses, so they can collaborate on new business ventures and opportunities. In 2019 and 2020, Laura was recognized by receiving the Diverse Business Leader award from Michigan’s Corp! Magazine. She has also been a recipient of the Shape Supplier of the Year Award.
Laura brings to the Michigan business community nearly 30 years of expertise stretching across manufacturing, sales, marketing, and management. Professionally, her focus on transforming brands, marketing, and people, has resulted in a number of great accomplishments over her career. Her background includes various positions at Herman Miller, VanerumStelter, Steelcase, and Kentwood Office Furniture.
For the last 15 years, she has been an active member of numerous West Michigan community and professional boards. While on many of these organizational boards she has assumed a variety of leadership roles and responsibilities. Laura currently serves as Co-Chair of the Metro Health | University of Michigan Health Hospital Board. She has also supported other health-oriented initiatives through her leadership as Board Chair for the American Heart Association Heart Walk and a Board Member of the American Diabetes Association as well.
After graduating from high school in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Laura obtained her bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering from the University of Michigan and her Master of Business Administration in Marketing and Finance from Western Michigan University.
Owner of Nexus IT Systems
Gregory May Jr. is the founder and CEO of Nexus IT Systems, based in Grand Rapids, MI. He has 15 years’ experience in the low-voltage and technology industry with five of the latter years as an owner. Greg has continued to grow his business obtaining national, regional, and local clients and completing notable projects such as Grand Rapids Chambers of Commerce, Big lots, Flex High Charter Schools, Grand Rapids Public Schools, Dutch Treat Foods, and other national and regional chains. Greg has made it a company policy to ensure he gives all willing employees that typically do not get the opportunity to be a part of a fast-growing industry a valued position with his company.
Greg is a Grand Rapids native, enjoys hobbies such as chess, basketball, and tinkering. He has 4 children which are all regularly active in many activities which he loves being a part of.
Greg is a second-generation business owner and attributes a lot of his success to the wisdom passed on from his mother and father.