Thinking innovative in Benton Harbor


Hundreds of people gathered in Benton Harbor to hear business advice from CEOs of Michigan manufacturers.

The panel discussion at Whirlpool Corporation comes the same day as the Labor Department released new numbers that show Michigan's unemployment numbers dropped from June 2013 to June 2014.

One executive said business innovations can't be a department, it has to start with an idea. The CEO's all shared ideas that became a reality.

Stryker, a medical manufacturer, said they have to create a brand new knee very four years.

Another company is putting radioactive chips in aspirin to see how long it takes for it to dissolve.

Stryker also created a device to stop the number of sponges left in the body after surgery.

The CEO said 4,000 sponges are left in bodies each year after surgery.

Executives created a scanner that counts sponges before and after surgery so that number could hopefully decline.

Fred Bauer is the CEO of Gentex, a company that manufactures photoelectronic smoke detection devices.

"I would say the majority of the products we made today we didn't make five years ago," said Bauer.

Jim Keane is the CEO from Steelecase and he says his company has been around for 100 years.

"What you discover when you look backwards is that I don't think we've really turned 100-years-old," said Keane. "I think we turn 20-years-old 5-times because the founders of the company and people who led the company over the years had to reinvent the company in order to survive."

The panel was made up of U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and CEO's from Whirlpool Corporation, Dow Chemical, La-Z-Boy, Stryker, Steelcase, MPI Research, Gentex, and Business Leaders for Michigan.