Made in Michigan: School Zone | News
GRAND HAVEN, Mich. (WZZM) - The local company, School Zone, manufactures many of the schools supplies that are found inside a classroom.
Jonathan Hoffman runs the multi-million dollar company.
"We cover the basics math reading spelling," says Hoffman, President of School Zone.
Hoffman says when making workbooks and flash cards it helps to think like a kid sometimes.
"It certainly helps. Simple is what you want to achieve," says Hoffman.
Hoffman's mother started the Grand Haven-based company more than 30 years ago.
"It was a very small store that sold teacher supplies," says Hoffman.
Soon, her supplies were sold to another up and coming company.
"When the sales person said 'we got Walmart', my mother said 'great who is Walmart?'" says Hoffman.
Since then, School Zone has sold more than 300 million workbooks around the world.
"I'll be on an airplane in Australia and I'll see a kid using our workbook," says Hoffman.
"I could be packing an order and it's going to Abu Dhabi, or it's going to South America, or to Wisconsin," says operator Renee Gauthier.
With a computerized pen and note pad, illustrator Joe Kramer brings the ideas to life.
"I recently visited friends in Pennsylvania and they had purchased the product, without actually knowing it was me that had done the work," says Kramer.
School Zone is also forging ahead with new forms of technology, by adding programs for iPads and iPhones.
"It brings motion and sound to the educational experience," says Hoffman.
However, Hoffman says a pencil and paper isn't going away, especially because of some key advantages in West Michigan.
"We've got some of the best printing machinery in the whole nation, so it's very serendipitous that here we are a publishing company, and we only have to go 40 miles for the best presses in the world," says Hoffman.
Hoffman says all the materials are made within a 35 mile radius and the hiring is done locally as well.
"In the past year we've hired seven people. We currently have 55 employees," says Hoffman.
School Zone products are sold in most major retail stores like Meijer, Walmart, and Target.