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Northwood honors Class of 2023 Outstanding Business Leaders

April 25, 2023

Northwood University celebrated the 2023 Class of Outstanding Business Leaders during an elegant gala Saturday, April 15, at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn.

The museum is home to the groundbreaking work of multimedia artist Lillian Schwartz, who broke barriers in a field heavily dominated by men.

“Eager to bridge art, science, and technology, Lillian worked when artists were forced to defend computer-based artwork as a viable medium — while actively trying to push its boundaries… just like Northwood pushes boundaries to be a different type of university. One that provides a world-class education while developing free-enterprise leaders who drive global economic and social progress” stated Steve Madincea, a Northwood Board of Trustees member who emceed Saturday’s gala.

Madincea is a member of the 2015 Class of Outstanding Business Leaders. A snapshot of this year’s class shows a diverse and accomplished group of exceptional individuals who have significantly contributed to the business world and communities.

The honorees include:

• Vinnie “The Microwave” Johnson is a former NBA player who presides over the Piston Group LLC, producing nearly $3 billion in annual revenue.

• Michael and Dianne Morey, a couple who risked everything to launch Bandit Industries, a successful business based on an idea for a better wood chipper.

• Andres Lopez, the president, and CEO of O-I Glass Inc., a company that specializes in container glass products and whose net worth exceeds $3.3 billion.

• Fred Bunting, the founder and chairman of Auto-Wares Group of Companies, a group of privately-held companies in the automotive car care industry with sales over $540 million.

• Gina Thorsen, CEO of Jacquart Fabric Products, Home of Stormy Kromer, which is approaching $15 million in annual revenue.

• Grant Baidas, owner of The Exchange Bar & Grill, Northville, and recipient of this year’s Richard DeVos Young Entrepreneur Award.

Northwood students were paired with each honoree to introduce them during the gala and, most importantly, to learn that true success is achievable.

During a keynote reception that was held before the gala, students were asked to choose one word from Northwood University’s Code of Ethics represented by FRESH AIR — which stands for freedom, responsibility, empathy, spirituality, honesty, achievement, integrity, and respect — and place it by their honoree’s name to show which trait they inspire the most.

“It was a wonderful way to kick off an exciting day of celebrations,” Madincea noted.

On Saturday afternoon, students participated in an intimate round-table where they gleaned career insight from these impressive leaders.

“Each honoree truly serves as a mentor and inspiration for our students,” noted Northwood President Kent MacDonald. “By teaching and believing in Liberty and Business for All, Northwood is developing future leaders who will mirror the exceptional individuals we honored Saturday evening.”

The evening was made possible due to generous sponsors, and included a new Detroit-inspired dessert afterglow. At the reception, Northwood University displayed the 1958 Corvette Michael and Dianne Morey donated. The car was part of a historic gift to Northwood University involving 34 vehicles being auctioned and sold to support the university. The auction raised more than $2 million in funding for Northwood University and student scholarships.

Northwood is currently accepting nominations for the 2024 Outstanding Business Leader Awards. Nominations can be made here.

For more information about the Outstanding Business Leader Awards, visit

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