Your employees are the foundation of your organization.
Each day, they complete tasks essential to your day-to-day operations.
Whether they’re on the front lines or behind the scenes, they’re making sure customers are happy or products are perfect.

You don’t always remember what they say, but you always remember how they make you feel.
The people we encounter throughout our day have the ability to improve our lives one interaction at a time. Their jobs are essential to West Michigan. Each day these individuals, whether on the front line or behind the scenes, complete tasks that allow our community to thrive.

Meet This Year's Winners

The Essential Service Awards honor hardworking service workers in our community. Winners were chosen for their passion, integrity and commitment to their job and organization. Award recipients were recognized at the November 12, 2018 meeting of the Economic Club of Grand Rapids.

General Labor

Gordy Bacheller, Custom Furniture Assembler
Bold Furniture

Photo courtesy of John Corriveau

Gordy has been a loyal employee for over 20 years. He has earned perfect attendance almost every year. Something like Perfect Attendance might seem insignificant, but of our 115 team members, we typically only have four employees earn this accolade for the year. Team members from across departments know they can rely on Gordy to help them whenever needed. He views all problems as opportunities to learn and grow, and that attitude is very contagious with such a small production team.


Kelle Bergers, Housekeeper
Ronald McDonald House of Western Michigan

Photo courtesy of John Corriveau

When Kelle is on vacation, a piece of the Ronald McDonald House is missing. Every volunteer, guest and staff member knows who she is. Our guest families love seeing Kelle so much so that they often come back to visit her years later. Recently, a guest left their room a mess. Other staff looked at this room and turned around, but not Kelle. For three hours (instead of the typical 45 minutes) she worked tirelessly to ensure this room would be clean and safe without looking for kudos.


Nick Borgman, Customer Service Representative
Quality Car Wash

Photo courtesy of John Corriveau

Nick is a kingpin on site. He is consistently early, prepared, hardworking and positive. Nick is a familiar face to many in the community and a loved one at that. One morning I opened the store while he was on a well-deserved vacation. Almost every customer who came in between 5-7 am asked where Nick was. We joke that if Nick is on vacation the site will need to plan on having maintenance on standby. Nick pours himself out to help people readily and often without regard to his own well-being.

Health Care

Riley Frens, Nurse Technician
Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital

Photo courtesy of John Corriveau

Riley provides exceptional experiences for our high-risk patients and has a true passion for compassionate care. Riley, who is fluent in Turkish, befriended a young Turkish patient who spoke little English. Following discharge, he experienced difficulty communicating with community providers. Riley offered to attend appointments with him and his mother, bridging the communication gap between him and the caregivers in his home.


Andrea Gafford, Customer Service/Scheduling
Anderson Technologies

Photo courtesy of John Corriveau

Andrea is the main point of contact for all of our customers. She is always positive, quick to respond, and will not hesitate to go above and beyond expectations. She is always developing new ideas for process improvement, from saving money on electricity to implementing new software. Those ideas spark more ideas and motivation in many of her colleagues and brings a new level of engagement within our company.

Food Service

Laurie Trestrail, Dietary Aide

Photo courtesy of John Corriveau

Laurie knows how to do just about anything in the kitchen and frequently steps in to help anywhere it is needed—not because she is asked to, but because she sees the need and wants to help. She knows there is tremendous comfort and connection that can be made over a meal. She starts each day by dropping in on some residents who like early-morning coffee. She also meets with every new resident when they arrive to find out their favorite snack. She is our unofficial “welcome wagon.”


Sam Sandee, Employ. Training Pgm Specialist
Wedgwood Christian Services

Photo courtesy of John Corriveau

Mama Sam, as many of the youth call her, pours herself into the lives of each kid she works with at Wedgwood. They trust her more than any other staff member. She teaches them more than just job skills; she instills confidence that they take with them into the community. Once they have worked with Sam, they leave with the confidence of knowing that she is just a phone call away. She mentors many of the youth who complete our program.