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Sonic Alert in Troy: Keeping You Safe, Entertained, Aware – and Awakened!

Sonic Alert in Troy: Keeping You Safe, Entertained, Aware – and Awakened!

Sonic Alert in Troy: Keeping You Safe, Entertained, Aware – and Awakened


JULY 2019
LBN Community Series

Lois Leoni of Sterling Heights had been looking forward to spending a girls’ getaway weekend this summer with her grown daughter at their family’s favorite vacation spot on Lake Huron.

“But I was worried about my husband, Jim, being home without me,” Leoni said. “Even with hearing aids, when a cold or allergy flares up, he can’t hear the dog barking, the doorbell, the phone, or even the smoke detector.”



“Luckily, a friend of mine had read about Sonic Alert in Troy, and how they donated special, super-strong alarm clocks (with bed shakers!) to high school kids who had a hard time waking up,” she added. “When we contacted Sonic Alert, we learned about lots of awesome products they had for us and our home.”

“Needless to say,” Leoni laughed, “my daughter was happy to get Jim a Sonic Boom alarm clock for Father’s Day, and I am purchasing a HomeAware unit for our house and for up north.”

Thomas Zimmer, Sonic Alert’s sales and marketing coordinator, explained some of HomeAware’s many uses and functions during a demonstration at their office in Troy.

“This system has become so popular with all age groups,” Zimmer said. “Even though it is a multi-tier alerting system, it is simple to set up and operate. HomeAware is the first complete home system to use transmitters and receivers to alert you to baby cries, the doorbell, home alarms, phone calls, carbon monoxide and smoke detector alarms, weather radio announcements, clock alarms, kitchen timers, cellphone notifications and texts – and more.

“They can, virtually, all be linked, and the system’s flashing lights, its alarm (up to 105 decibels), the bed shaker and the scrolling digital word display (which can also show phone caller identification), alert within 1000 feet,” he added.

A mobile phone app provides even more uses and features.

“We offer well-made, really unique specimens in terms of products,” said Zimmer, “that truly help people in their daily lives. That’s what I enjoy about being here.”

Sonic Alert was founded by Adam Kollin, who tried to help his grandmother, in her Pontiac home, be aware of visitors at the door and other safety issues.

“In an age of rotary phones,” Zimmer explained, “Adam used his knowledge as a ham radio operator to create, with wires run throughout the floor, a flashing pattern built on Morse code as an alerting system.”

“And now, over 40 years later, we have so many products, sold all over the world, assisting and alerting  everyone — from those who are physically challenged and those who want to know their home and children are protected, to those who just want to see their wake-up time displayed on their bedroom ceiling, hear a personalized alarm, listen to their favorite music app, or hear white noise while falling asleep.”

“One of the products I use a lot,” shared Zimmer, “is the TV Listener. I can wear it working around here, and listen to a TV show that’s on in another room. Our products are great for so many uses. Like the ‘Transformers’ in the movies, they’re ‘more than meets the eye.’

“It’s very meaningful to work with products that are so cutting-edge, for people that are older or young,” Thomas said

Maryland resident Joan Langan said she “loves” her Sonic Alert alarm clocks.

“I started with the smaller one and liked it so well I got the big one,” Langan said. “My grandson was having trouble waking up for high school, so I gave him my small one.  He turns it to its loudest sound and he has no trouble now waking up and being to school on time. The super shaker that you put under your pillow connecting to the clock is fun, too.

“The clock is stunning-looking,” Langan added, “a beautiful silver with large, two-inch numbers that you can make brighter.  You can easily read them from very far away or in a dark room. How could anyone love an alarm clock? I do. It brings great comfort to know I will always wake up on time.”

“It’s easy to understand why, when our president, Bryan Bartneck, goes to graduation or family parties,” Zimmer said, smiling, “he is swarmed by starry-eyed young people who say, ‘You’re the Sonic Bomb alarm clock guy.’”

Zimmer, who grew up with a family of engineers and innovators, pointed out the company is “continually expanding ideas” and is “extremely conscious of making sure our customers have lifelines to the products and services they need.”

”’What is the customer looking for?’ our founder always asks,” Zimmer said. “We have new and exciting developments, a depth of knowledge and history, and a commitment to changing the lives of people, communities and families. It’s an incredible journey.”

850 Stephenson Highway,
Suite 323
Troy, MI 48084













The UPS Store Helps Local Businesses Grow

The UPS Store Helps Local Businesses Grow

The UPS Store Helps Local Businesses Grow
JULY 2019
LBN Community Series
According to Cody Pietz, the best thing about working at The UPS Store is that you never know who or what will walk through the door.

“You never know what someone’s going to bring in or what you’re going to have to do,” said Pietz. “We’ve shipped car engines and even more than 200 windshields to Poland.”


Pietz is the store manager at the Troy store on Rochester Road. The UPS Store are franchised businesses, and he’s liked working there so much, he’s been with the same owners for more than 10 years. The Troy store is also the inventory store for the other two locations in the franchise. Pietz stocks more than 40 different box sizes as well as packing materials that keep all three locations operating at full throttle.

“We do shipping, packaging, freight, crating large objects with wood, laminating, binding, printing fliers, post cards and banners,” said Pietz. “We also do house account services to small businesses and sort of become their shipping department. We also offer mailboxes and notary services. Out of the 90 stores in our region, we’re fourth in notary. We offer postal services, pick up services from homes if people don’t have a way of getting them here. We usually help people out.”

In addition to Pietz, 28, the store is staffed by one other associate, Austin Kosmatin, 19.

“This job is stepping up for me,” said Kosmatin. “I feel like this is more of a job that could be long-term rather than a job that you don’t know if you’ll have a good future. It’s different being only two people who work here. There’s a lot to learn, so I’m excited for it.”

While the businesses of the store revolve around shipping, Pietz emphasizes that customer service is actually the driving factor.

“We always try to make the customer happy. We always want to get them in and out as quickly as possible. We don’t want to rush people in and out, but we know they don’t want to be here a long time,” said Pietz. “Out of the three stores, we only have eight employees, so everyone is pretty much full time. We want people who have an interest in making the business grow.”

Rochelle DeSmet, business owner of CORE, is proof that Pietz and The UPS Store walk the talk.

“They have been amazing and awesome and a main link in growing my business,” said DeSmet. “They provide excellent customer service. I will stick with that UPS Store for the rest of my life. Cody has seen me from being in a closet to a 10,000-square-foot office. It makes my life easier.”

Co-owner Paula Martinos-Mantay and her husband focus on giving young people, like Pietz and Kosmatin, the opportunity to grow professionally.

“Our business model revolves around treating our customers exceptionally well and offering a variety of services, so they can take care of all of their errands in one stop. And we’ve heard from our customers that we do provide that,” said Martinos-Mantay. “We have a great team of Millennials here. We like to support the young people, that’s why we’ve given them more responsibility.”

Services at The UPS Store aren’t limited to businesses, though. Individuals use the location to drop off cable boxes, retrieve mail, make copies and ship items.

“We never want to gouge people,” said Pietz. “We tell you if it’ll be cheaper at the post office. We’re very straight forward with people. We’re not out to give you bad service.”

The UPS Store
3334 Rochester Rd.
Troy, MI 48083











Mother Earth Products Target Pain Relief

Mother Earth Products Target Pain Relief

Mother Earth Products Target Pain Relief


JUNE 2019


LBN Community Series
Royal Oak

Arianna and Tory Welsh started their business out of passion and a healthy dose of empathy. The sibling team opened Mother Earth in Royal Oak in March. It’s their third CBD store, the first on the West Side.

“We got interested in CBD when we were trying to help our dad with pain management,” said Arianna. “He was getting overmedicated by health care professionals and was hospitalized because of the medications. We got him started on medical cannabis, but he didn’t always want a head high.”

That’s where CBD came in.



Cannabidiol, or CBD as it’s commonly known, is made from the hemp plant. It is different from cannabis because it has a very low THC level—just .3 percent, the level mandated by the state and federal government. THC is the element in cannabis that gives the user a head high.

Medical marijuana, however, has a high THC level and a lower CBD level.

“They all have therapeutic benefits, but I say CBD is the straight-laced cousin,” said Tory.

Arianna, 37, and Tory, 32, were concerned with the way their father’s pain was being managed when he battled septic shock from an unknown infection — twice. He succumbed in February.

During their father’s illness, Arianna worked in real estate and in an office. Tory had followed in his father’s footsteps and became a heavy equipment operator and truck driver. But all that changed for them after their father’s illness.

Tory refers to the Mother Earth stores as a calling to help people.

“We were here before the hype helping people,” he said. “The market is saturated, CBD is available at gas stations and video stores. The difference is we do the leg work, so when people come in here, they have a warm alternative to a drug store. (Drug stores) don’t have the passion to help people, they have the passion to make money.”

The Mother Earth store in Royal Oak is on Woodward just north of 14 Mile Road in an established strip of businesses. When the Welshes first found the place, it needed a complete tear-out.

With his construction background and handy talents, Tory and a friend completely gutted the space and gave it a fresh, holistic look. He made all the shelving and did all the carpentry work himself using mostly locally sourced materials and even some reclaimed pieces. In fact, the large, rustic, wooden table in the center of the store is still seeping sap onto the floor when the weather gets warm.

“The design and color scheme were designed so our grandma would be comfortable coming in,” said Arianna.

Tory also did the demo and remodel for the other two Mother Earth stores in New Haven and Shelby Township.

“There’s definitely a lot of heart and soul in the stores,” he said.

Customers, who often become more like family to the siblings, are greeted by a low-pressure, soothing atmosphere. Free to look at the ample supply of Himalayan salt lamps, essential oils and diffusers, natural vitamins and CBD products, those looking for pain relief or respite from other ailments have only premium, proven products at their fingertips.

“Our goal is to provide quality products and knowledgeable advice on what to do with them to target the relief they’re trying to achieve,” said Arianna.

In addition to oils and supplements, Mother Earth stocks gummies, topical creams, drink blends, CBD tea, bath bombs and even a line of CBD products to help pets with pain and anxiety.

Amanda Ware, 33, of Rochester Hills, discovered Mother Earth when looking for relief from a soccer injury.

“I was looking for something to help with pain in my neck and shoulder from an old soccer injury from high school,” Ware said. “It gets worse when I work out. It gets worse when I sit too long.”

She tried physical therapy and pain medication, but nothing helped for long and she didn’t like some of the side effects. After researching options, she decided to head to Mother Earth.

“When I walked in, it was really nice. There was music playing. The décor is like a spa where you’d buy your face scrubs. It feels very comfortable. It felt like a real easy place to be able to ask questions,” she said. “I talked to Arianna first. She asked me really good questions about my pain. Really personal questions, but she made me feel comfortable. I felt confident in her knowledge. It seemed like there was an expert there walking me through.”

That was April. Today, Ware is sleeping better than she has in years thanks to the pain relief she’s experienced. In fact, she also recommended CBD to her grandmother, who was struggling with osteoporosis and has had great results.

“I would encourage anybody if they are experiencing pain or anxiety to come down and just talk with one of the experts they will give you really great recommendations for your price range,” Ware said.

Mother Earth Natural Health
32206 Woodward Ave.
Royal Oak, MI 48073
(248) 206-7476











La Botana Mexican Grill: Celebrating Nine Years of Being Troy’s Best-Kept Culinary Secret

La Botana Mexican Grill: Celebrating Nine Years of Being Troy’s Best-Kept Culinary Secret

La Botana Mexican Grill: Celebrating Nine Years of Being Troy’s Best-Kept Culinary Secret
JUNE 2019
LBN Community Series Troy

When Elaine Tercel met her mom, Marjorie Odum, at Emerald Lakes Plaza in Troy for dinner outside their favorite Chinese eatery, Marjorie asked, “Would you like to try the Mexican place here, for a change?”

“I said ‘Sure!’” Elaine recalled. “I’d passed by La Botana for years – especially since I’m a Troy resident and live and work close by – but had never been there. Usually my family goes to southwest Detroit for Mexican food.



“When I entered La Botana, I’m afraid my jaw must’ve dropped,” Elaine laughed.  “I haven’t been to Mexico, but somehow, entering this unassuming storefront, I felt I’d just arrived there, with all the bright-orange, hand-painted tiles, the Mexican folk music, the cooks talking to each other in Spanish, the delicious smells!

“Oh!” she added, “and the bottles of Mexican beer and the margarita glasses!”

“I try to come here at least once a week,” said Paul Garwood, who works in Warren. “I just got back from the Mexican Riviera, and the food I had there can’t even compare to here!”

Owner Fernando Segura and the family of his wife, Susan, are from the state and city of Guanajuato, in central Mexico. Fernando and Susan met when her family would return there for vacations.

“It’s such a beautiful place, with mountains and underground tunnels,” said Fernando, holding a photo book about Guanajuato. “It’s sometimes called ‘hilly place of the frogs.’ That’s why we have paintings of frogs on our wall.

“Guanajuato is a very important city,” Fernando continued. “From there came Dolores Hidalgo (who helped win Mexico’s independence in 1610), Diego Rivera, and our university. Our town is also known for mummies, which were preserved because of all the minerals in the ground. The mummies have even been at the D.I.A. for exhibit.”

In Mexico, generations of Fernando’s family owned a butcher shop.

“I’m also a butcher,” Fernando said. “I cut, marinate and cook all our own meats. That is why the meat in all of our dishes is so tender. And we make our own chorizo sausage.”

“All of our food is prepared totally from scratch,” said Susan, who bakes their tres leches cake and also works as a nurse. “We don’t open any cans of tomatoes for salsa or beans for refried beans. We cut fresh tomatoes, de-seed our jalapeno peppers by hand, peel and mash avocado, and cook up hundreds of pounds of dried beans.

“Most people in this area are familiar with the Tex-Mex style of Mexican food,” Susan added. “Our recipes are truly authentic, from our families.

“If you came to our homes, here or in Mexico, we would serve you exactly what we serve – and eat – here,” she added with a smile.

“We make different things all the time,” Fernando said. “For Lent, we made chili rellenos. And we are becoming known for our tamales. Ours are triple-sized: made by hand, not machine.”

Many of the items at La Botana Mexican Grill are vegetarian or vegan.

“There is no lard in anything,” said Fernando, “and no chicken base. So much that we have is vegetarian.”

Five years ago, La Botana received a liquor license.

“Many people still don’t realize that we serve Mexican and domestic beer, as well as Margaritas and special cocktails of all kinds,” Fernando says. “We also do catering and provide food for parties and business meetings.”

La Botana is bustling with customers at the counter who are placing orders to be served to them at tables by friendly, efficient staff or readied for carrying out. Some are sipping Mexican pop or traditional creamy horchata (a cold, refreshing drink Fernando makes from rice, almonds and cinnamon). Some are chatting about places in Mexico they’ve visited. But all are happily looking forward to enjoying their specially made dishes.

“There’s no outside partner here, or large corporation,” said Susan. “It’s just us, working together as family and staff.  We’re a team here, with a little piece of Mexico — the food, the music. I feel like I am in Mexico. We feel like we’re home, sharing our home.”

5947 John R Road (accessible from Square Lake Road)
Troy, MI  48085













AAA a Good Fit for Husband-Wife Team

AAA a Good Fit for Husband-Wife Team

AAA a Good Fit for Husband-Wife Team
MARCH 2019
LBN Community Series

When Marcy Galka asked her husband, Jerry, if he had a good life, his answer was, “No.”

Shocked, Marcy looked at him.

When he continued, he said, “I’ve had a great life because of you.”

The Galkas are the general agents at AAA The Auto Club Group in Troy. Jerry Galka has owned the business since 1990. Marcy joined him in the office in 1991.


They started as field agents in offices filled with people, sharing computers and no windows. Jerry became a general agent after building up clients and chose Troy as the location.

Before joining AAA in 1985, Jerry was a manager in the fast food industry. He was debating a career change, and after calculating the benefits and earning potential, AAA looked good. His grandmother also worked for AAA from the 1950s until 1975 in the emergency road services department. Her love of her job sealed the deal, placing the Galkas on the insurance and membership path.

Married for 35 years and business partners for 28, Marcy and Jerry still love to come to work every day.

“I love the people. I can’t imagine not seeing them all the time,” said Marcy. “I’ve had clients for 30 years. I’ve watched their kids grow up and now their grandkids are coming in and getting insurance from me. It’s like family. I enjoy coming to work every day. If I won the lotto today, I’d be here the next day.”
While they are in the business of selling memberships and insurance, they say they truly are in it for their clients.

“I love meeting with customers, talking with them, finding out about their lives, their culture, how we can help them,” said Marcy. “When you think about it, insurance is pretty important to have. If you don’t have the right coverage, that can be devastating to your family.”

“I love the people. I can’t imagine not seeing them all the time…I’ve had clients for 30 years. I’ve watched their kids grow up and now their grandkids are coming in and getting insurance from me.”
Working together, Jerry and Marcy have complementary personalities; he’s more business, she’s warmer. It works for them.

And while they’re opposites in the personality department, they have a common goal: Provide excellent, 24/7 customer service.

Steve Gottlieb, 64, has been with the Galkas for nearly 40 years. Gottlieb was with another insurance company decades ago when he got a ticket. His agent told his rates would have to go up.

“It was doubling. I said, ‘Oh my gosh that’s crazy. I can’t afford that.’ AAA was the first number in the phone book,” said Gottlieb.

“They were just an insurance agent. What happens is, they take the time to get to know you. In the process, we got to know each other. She was the one who said I should apply to be on the Clawson Chamber of Commerce. It was good fortune that we got to meet each other.”

Gottlieb is a recently retired teacher from Troy schools. He now owns a real estate office franchise.

“They do the job. I own commercial buildings and once they write the commercial insurance, they’re content. Marcy will call me and say, ‘We think you should try this.’ They reduced my costs dramatically on everything,” said Gottlieb.

Marcy tells of a time she spend the night at the office during a big snowstorm, so she could be sure someone was in to answer calls in the morning.

Additionally, the pair gives their cell numbers to members, so they can be reached at all hours.

“They’ll hunt you down,” said Jerry. “We get calls in the middle of the night.”

Overall, Marcy and Jerry love what they do and enjoy the people they work with.

“It’s a good company, good brand, well-recognized, and they stand behind their product,” said Marcy. “We’ve always felt good about getting people their policies.”

AAA The Auto Club Group
125. E Maple Road
Troy, MI 48083















Troy’s Under the Sea Playground Provides a Special Place for Active Play and Fresh, Delicious Food for All

Troy’s Under the Sea Playground Provides a Special Place for Active Play and Fresh, Delicious Food for All

Troy’s Under the Sea Playground
Provides a Special Place for Active Play
and Fresh, Delicious Food for All



LBN Community Series

Tom and Marian Baxter of Troy were excited to be caring for their two young granddaughters on a recent Saturday afternoon.

“The weather was poor, and the girls (ages three and four) had been indoors all day,” Marian says. “We wanted them to be able to climb and run around and to have some fun!”



The Baxters searched online for indoor play spots in Troy and discovered Under the Sea, part of the retail area located at the northwest corner of Maple Road and Livernois.

“Sarah and Shelley were enchanted with all the murals of sea animals,” says Tom. “And I loved the fact that, even though the slide and climbing structure are high, the incline is gradual – and is constructed in a way that a child cannot possibly fall from it. It’s totally protected!”

Owner Harry Zoura, an engineer who moved to Troy four years ago, opened Under the Sea in 2016.

“I’d been to a birthday party at an indoor playground in another town, and it struck me that Troy lacked this kind of place. I’d been wanting to start my own business, so I began doing research on materials and equipment.”

“I knew I didn’t want an arcade environment,” he says, “but pictured a place where kids could be moving and going and have active play.”

Harry found Softplay, an American company specializing in commercial, indoor play structures.

“I didn’t want to use anything made in China,” Harry says. “So, back-and-forth, Softplay and I designed the structure in about three months.”

‘I wanted the design to be open and high,” Harry continues. “And the floor is the best, safest one available.”

There is also a designated area for toddlers, with a small slide, rocking animals, and large blocks and toys.

“The size is perfect. It’s not too hard to chase the kids around, and it’s actually kind of calm during the week – a great place for young kids.”

“Another area here that the kids really enjoy is our interactive projection-screen room,” says Harry. “A projector displays animated, themed groups of pictures on the floor that kids can interact with. For example, there are schools of fish that scatter when the children get near them with their feet. And there’s another game where the kids can jump on balloons projected onto the floor, popping them. There are fifteen games in all.”

“We are fortunate to have this in Troy,” says Tina Chang, who brings her young son Louis (‘Lou-Lou’). “It’s a nice, indoor place for winter days – or when it’s very hot in summer.”

“The size is perfect,” she adds. “It’s not too hard to chase the kids around, and it’s actually kind of calm during the week – a great place for young kids.”

Naomi Gjurashaj, of Royal Oak agrees, as she serves her two youngest children Under the Sea’s fresh, hot, homemade pizza.

“They ask for the food,” she smiles. “We come here about once a month, and we held a birthday party here which went very well.”

“I’m picky with food,” states Harry. “We have an extensive menu here for snacks, meals, and for catering parties. Every recipe uses the best, freshest ingredients. We make our pizza from scratch and our own sauce for our chicken sandwich, as well as our own ranch and salad dressings.”

“Unlike most kid-and-family places, we don’t just heat up frozen pizza or pre-made macaroni-and-cheese in the microwave. We do not use – or even have – a microwave here!”

Harry enjoys offering guests customized salads and sandwiches.

“Our salads are fresh-cut. Our chicken breast is grilled on-the-spot. Our tenders are all-breast meat,” he says. “People come here as much to eat as they do to play! And often, they take menu items to-go when they leave!”

“Currently, our most popular salad is our Michigan salad, made with organic mixed greens, craisins, feta, walnuts, and our balsamic dressing. We had a grandmother who brings her grandkids often and, for Mother’s Day, she told her daughter that all she wanted was one of our Michigan salads – which she did get,” Harry says, chuckling.

Harry and his staff also serve fresh coffee drinks, including latte and espresso, and many specialty waters, juices, and healthy snacks are available.


Under the Sea provides discounts to groups, and gift cards and frequent-visit punch cards are available.

“Our website is simple, but complete with information about our hours, prices, and services,” says Harry. “And we are always doing updates so that we will never be boring.”

“I like to be in business,” Harry shares. “It’s wonderful to be here for families, moms’ groups, pre-schools, clubs, and all types of children for play and celebrations. And I’m looking forward to serving more and more kids and their families.”

78 West Maple Road
Troy, MI  48084