April 5, 2016

Commercial Banking Spotlight:

Ask Jim Osterhaven of Superior Foods what his favorite food is and he hedges a bit. When pressed he confesses, “Okay, probably a New York Strip. But it’s got to be rare.”

As a wholesale processor and distributor of a seemingly endless menu of “center of plate” meats, seafood and produce, Osterhaven has many favorites. Food aside, count Lake Michigan Credit Union among them.

Jim is the owner of Superior Foods in Grand Rapids. This family-owned and operated business, now in its third generation, was founded in 1956 by Jim’s father, Bruce. In 1998, Jim took the helm of a then $19 million per year enterprise that has since grown to over $84 million. All that growth means a need for robust business banking capabilities.

“Originally, I felt the need to be with a big bank. I wanted the stability and resources. But over time, long distance decision- making and a lack of personalized service had me rethinking my decision. I had known LMCU’s Keane Blaszczynski from years before, and when he approached me on behalf of LMCU Commercial Banking in 2014, I took a close look.

“Keane showed he really understood our needs. He’s always available and frequently attends our Key Executive monthly meetings. I think the word “partnership” is over-used and misapplied these days, but I really feel it with Keane and LMCU.”

Osterhaven continues, “Most business owners don’t expect commercial banking and lending capabilities from a credit union. And I was skeptical, too. I just didn’t think any credit union could be big enough to handle my business. I was wrong – at least when it comes to LMCU.”

“There’s something quite different about this relationship versus other lending relationships we’ve had in the past. Trust. The trust level in both directions just seems higher. We both ‘get’ each other, and know each other’s needs very well. You might think I’m kidding – that I embellish how good this relationship is. I’m not. It’s that good.”

With a staff of 165 and a 22-truck fleet, Superior Foods ships to grocers, restaurants, universities and hospitals throughout the Great Lakes region. Over 800 grocery retail clients include Meijer, Kroger, Spartan Foods, Forest Hills Foods, D&W and Family Fare. Superior supplies over 500 restaurant and food service clients, including Cascade Country Club, Egypt Valley Golf Club, Amway Grand Hotel, Uccello’s, Leo’s, Chop House, West Michigan Whitecaps as well as the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island and Park Place Hotel in Traverse City. Spectrum Health, Michigan State University, Notre Dame, Hope College and Calvin College are all regular stops.

So if you end up with one of Superior Foods’ New York strip steaks at the center of your plate, be sure to order it rare. “Anything beyond that is a crime.”