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Lakeshoring

My friend and past business partner, Salah Boukadoum, runs a company called Soap Hope in Dallas, Texas.  He started it to test some ideas about how business can be a vehicle to improve the human experience worldwide.  Salah was recently at TEDxGrandRapids giving a TEDtalk on his Good Returns model.

Perfect Coffee

The day after TEDxGrandRapids, Salah and I met at Madcap for coffee to talk about doing good and doing well.  By the way, Madcap is the best coffee experience in Michigan by far.  If you love coffee, go there and ask them to serve you something wonderful.   Don’t just order. Collaborate with them in creating your coffee experience.  They will enjoy the opportunity to show you what they do, and you’ll enjoy the outcome.

While drinking our perfect cappuccinos, Salah mentioned that he needed to drastically increase the size of Soap Hope to generate more profit that will be used to fund microloans for women owned business in third world countries.

Good Opportunity

Salah told me he needed to up-level his website and improve the brand design and user experience. He also needs 100,000 square feet of warehouse space to increase the product offering at Soap Hope.  His vision is to carry more products and to become a massive online retailer of “good” products. 

As we talked through the details of his growth needs, Salah also told me that Soap Hope specifically employs individuals who have recently been released from prison and helps train them to integrate back into society.  I couldn’t help thinking that more companies with a social awareness like Salah’s would be great for West Michigan.

I miss spending time with my friend Salah, and thought how much fun it would be to have him working in West Michigan. I knew he had a great experience of Grand Rapids through his participation as a speaker in TEDxGrandRapids and asked if he would consider moving Soap Hope to West Michigan.

“What are the benefits of doing that?”  he asked.

Benefits of Lakeshoring

I rattled off a list that included the following.

  1. Lower cost of living resulting in lower average salaries compared to other cities.
  2. A desire to bring good and growing companies to the area.
  3. High quality of life due to natural beauty and a spirited, caring community.
  4. Access to high quality and locally grown meat, veggies, and fruit.
  5. A large and talented design community interested in meaningful projects.
  6. And of course, the immense fresh water majesty of the lake.

He was impressed and said he would consider it.

That got me thinking.  There should be a name for that list.  There should be a single word that represents all the good stuff West Michigan has to offer and why companies should consider moving jobs and/or people here.  So I created a word.  That word is “Lakeshoring”.

Offshoring, Nearshoring, and Lakeshoring

Lakeshoring is the next step in a paradigm that includes offshoring and nearshoring.  It is an obvious solution to reducing business costs while retaining the benefits that come from a shared national culture. I believe it can be applied to most of the Great Lakes region.

Both offshoring and nearshoring arose as efforts to reduce costs.  There are benefits and drawbacks to taking jobs out of the country. Most of the drawbacks are due to geographic, time zone, and culture separations.   Lakeshoring does not have those drawbacks.  Lakeshore jobs are based in the loyal work ethic of the Midwest and are framed in the American culture, timezone, and English language.  That isn’t to say that Lakeshoring is only for American companies. International firms can also benefit from the salary savings, quality of life, and innovative environment endemic to West Michigan.

I’m going to give all this some more thought, but my instinct is that in the very near future the term “Lakeshoring” will be heard in boardrooms around the world.

Today is my 17,225th day of being a human being.

  • Kristene

    Steve,

    Made my first purchase from Soap Hope, here in Dallas about a month ago. 3 aluminum bottles from Kleen Kanteen; on a super deal. I went to their facility in Dallas to pick them up.

    Love the vibe, the smell (Lavender, OMG!) and their mission. I got connected to them through your recommendation at some point., thank you.

    My comment, spout of a thought on reading your blog post is …Dallas needs more businesses like Salah’s and more people need to know about Soap Hope. Dallas could due to turn it’s self a little toward “lakeshoring”. While I think Michigan is a great place (spent 18 years in the region) – believe it or not, Dallas is just begining to get a groove that can actively support Salah and Soap Hope. I have couple of ideas and connections that direction if you ‘d like to know more and pass on, ping me.

    Meanwhile, I say all this as my family and I are about to move back to the shores of Lake Michigan – to Chicago. My husband (Dave) has landed a great job at IIT/Stuart School of Business. While I’m kind of bummed to leave Dallas (my extended family is here) – I must admit I am excited to return to the aspects of “Lakeshoring” that Chicago and the environs offer. I wonder if it’s just a matter of perspective and choice, though and if “Lakeshoring” isn’t possible anywhere.

    Anyhow. I’d like to get together with you and reintroduce our selves, if you’re open to it. Given the path you’re on and where Dave is headed (entrepreneurship incubator at IIT/Stuart) and your collective experience as economists; I’m confident it could lead to some interesting conversations and a great meal if nothing else.

    We’ll be back in the city in early August.

    Best regards, Kristene “Kris Kinsella” Richardson