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Royal Tropical Fish & Bird Haven Celebrates 64th Year

Royal Tropical Fish & Bird Haven Celebrates 64th Year

By Marie Van Tiem

When Ted Overall started raising and selling aquarium fish as a cottage business in the mid-1940s he hedged his bets by keeping his autoworker job. But Overall’s friends—his first customers—liked his fish enough that he was able to eventually quit his job and open a store, the Highland Tropical Fish and Bird Haven, in Highland Park.

The business eventually closed, but before it did, Highland Tropical spawned the Royal Tropical Fish and Bird Haven, in Royal Oak, which today is owned by a third generation of Overalls. People still like to buy Overalls’ fresh-water, tropical fish, birds and reptiles: This year marks the store’s 64th year in business.

Matt & Sue Overall

Matt & Sue Overall

It was Ted’s son, Kenneth, who established the Royal Oak business, after he married and started a family. He and wife, Lois, transformed what was once a house and a floral shop into Royal Tropical. The couple raised eight children: Two of their offspring, Sue and Matt Overall, now run the business, along with Mike Woodcox, who’s worked there for 30 years.

Sue and Matt’s brother, Brett, opened a third store, in the mid-1980s. Ironically, it’s also known as Highland Tropical Fish and Bird Haven—but it’s in Highland Township, not Highland Park.

Sue Overall says she was about 10 when she started working in her dad’s business. Her first duties included picking up cigarette butts that customers ground out on the shop’s then-cement floor. Back then, it was acceptable to light up just about anywhere. That’s changed, and so has the floor; it’s carpeted now.TroyAutoGlassAd

Overall, who has a degree in marketing, worked elsewhere after college, but soon decided to return to the family business and the fish and birds she loves.

On a frigid January day, the Royal Oak shop was warm and humid—like Florida, where its animals originate—from the aquariums that line its walls, and filled with the chatter and calls of birds in cages and on perches a few steps up from the main level. Racks of colorful aquarium accessories and pet toys shared the space with bins of bulk bird seeds that can be mixed to suit the age and health of a bird.

“We can customize your mix for your bird,” Woodcox says.

That emphasis on service has helped grow the business over the years.

Overall says her best advertising comes via word of mouth from satisfied customers, who like the shop’s low-pressure approach, its knowledgeable staff, and its focus on educating pet owners.

350 x 250 - Eton Academy AdWoodcox agrees, and adds: 50-year relationships with fish farmers prompt the suppliers to send their higher-quality animals; Royal Tropical orders smaller quantities, which means their fish are fresher and don’t have a chance to get stressed in a shop environment; and the shop carries a larger variety in each family group of fish.

“Our selection of cichlids is hard to match,” he says, counting 27 tanks of the freshwater vertebrates.

In addition, each aquarium has its own filtration system, unlike at large chains that filter water from many tanks, which gives disease a chance to spread.

Woodcox can even advise customers on which fish live together in harmony: The big chains don’t necessarily offer that service, although a customer can read labels on aquariums to determine suitable aquarium co-habitants.

lbn-ad“Because they’re so big, you don’t get that one-on-one,” Woodcox says.

Overall says she often advises would-be pet parents not to make an impulse buy, but to go home and do some research on the animal they want to add to the family.

“Birds are like a toddler; they need attention,” she says. “We avoid the impulse buy and tell people to research, research, research.”

A good beginner bird might be a parakeet or cockatiel, Overall says.

Sandy Cross, a 23-year customer originally from Ferndale, has purchased both fish and birds at Royal Tropical. Cross shut down her 29-gallon aquarium before she moved to Roscommon 11 years ago because she tired of cleaning it, but she still owns two birds (down from seven): “Pele,” a sun conure, and “Gizmo,” a blue-capped pionus.

royal-tropical-birds“Everything I get from them is just wonderful,” says Cross. “And if I have a question, no question is too stupid.”

The store draws customers from its immediate area, but also from as far away as Detroit and the Northville-Novi area.

In 2017, the Royal Oak Historical Museum included the Royal Tropical in an exhibit of long-time Royal Oak businesses.

“The fact that they’ve been around that long says they’re filling a need for our residents,” says Judy Davids, community engagement specialist for the city. “It’s nice to have the sort of consistency and identity that businesses that have been around a long time add to a city.”

Other independent pet stores haven’t been so fortunate. Two major chains—Petco and PetSmart—accounted for 60 percent of the industry’s revenue in 2016, according to an article in Pet Product News.

“They’ve gone down quite a bit, especially during Great Recession,” Overall says of the independents, citing two nearby stores, The Aquarium Shop and Tropical Fish Pond & Reptiles, that are closed.

 

royaltropicalonline.com
1324 Hartrick Ave, Royal Oak, MI 48067
(248) 541-6600

Highland Tropical Fish and Bird
10655 Highland Road
White Lake, MI 48386
248.698.9090
The Eton Approach: Learning for Life

The Eton Approach: Learning for Life

By M.H. Murray for Local Business News

Soon after Rowan Daugherty began public school, it was evident that it was not a good fit for her.

“Rowan, who is smart and verbal, was given several labels of dysfunction,” says her mom, Stephanie Daugherty, “and her confidence was shot. She was becoming a different kid.…When my second daughter, Daphne, who treasures books, started school, she was dealing with some challenges when it came to reading and executive neurological function.”

“We knew about Eton,” Daugherty continued, “but my husband and I were afraid of the cost – until we went to an Open House, where we learned we were not alone – and we made it happen. Eton Academy and The Eton Approach have done nothing short of changing our lives.”lbn-ad

Eton Academy, on Melton Rd. near W. 14 Mile Rd. in Birmingham, was founded in 1986 as a full-curriculum, independent, private school for students with learning differences and has over 200 students in grades 1-12.

Pete Pullen, Head of School, describes The Eton Approach as “the culmination of 30 years of teaching students who learn differently.”

“It takes the science, the research, and our successful experiences,” Pullen explains, “for a systemized approach to consistently delivering direct, explicit and multi-sensory instruction.”

“I’m a big cheerleader for Eton Academy and The Eton Approach,” says Daugherty. “Now, a couple of years later, Rowan (now ten) and Daphne (now seven) are thriving. In the past year, Daphne has improved from being able to read five words to 130 words: a 5.5th-grade reading level! And Rowan has blossomed. She is confident, meeting her goals and making new ones.”

“The teachers call, they communicate, they talk to outside therapists,” Daugherty continues. “The girls are really comfortable there, and so am I. Learning is no longer a battle. When I pick them up and ask about their day, they now say, ‘Awesome! Amazing!’ They are being taught how to learn and are given tools that will last their lifetimes.”Eton 1 - Copy

Daugherty describes Rowan’s first day at Eton Academy. “Rowan was upset upon arriving and did not want to stay. Mr. Pullen approached and offered to take her for a walk around the school. She took his hand and – though I don’t know what they talked about – when they returned, she was absolutely fine.”

Pullen smiles as he recalls that walk – and his own path to becoming Eton Academy’s Head of School.

“I know it sounds funny,” he says, “but I knew I wanted to be a school principal from the time I was six or seven years old.”
“I was inspired by Dr. Walker, our principal at Mary D. Mitchell School in Ann Arbor,” Pullen says. “He was the kindest, gentlest man I ever met, and he was always helping children.”

After attending Ann Arbor’s Greenhills School, Pullen returned there, while working on his degree at the University of Michigan, to tutor and coach basketball.

“Later,” Pullen says, “the opportunity was presented to teach middle school at Greenhills, so that’s where I began. And when I was there, I thought, ‘This is how schools should teach.’ It left an indelible mark on my philosophy.”

TroyAutoGlassAd“I then took a detour and coached college basketball for two years at Eastern Michigan University and realized that my true passion is teaching. Though,” he adds, grinning, “I love basketball!”

Pullen then taught and became Assistant Head of School at Detroit’s Friends School and was also Head of School at Herlong Cathedral School before coming to Eton, where he has been for fifteen years.

And Pullen, as well as Eton’s teachers (and the specialists who continually teach those teachers), support staff, and board of trustees, sustain a place where children with learning challenges, and their families, find hope.

It’s a place where each student who walks through their doors is seen as a unique, growing child with amazing abilities, unlimited potential and discoverable ways of acquiring skills, knowledge, self-awareness; where science, compassion and dedication create a community where all can thrive, where all can succeed.Eton 3

“We are a resource,” says Pullen, “for a student, a person, your child, who is struggling to learn. Everyone here is incredibly committed and passionate. A call to us may be helpful and, even though the school might not be your child’s ultimate home, we also extend tutoring, our learning center, our summer program. Our goal is to help as many students and families as we can, moving them from frustration to flourishing.”

Information:
etonacademy.org
1755 Melton Rd.
Birmingham, MI 48009
248-642- 1150

Dr. Ryan Corte Creates Health Video Site

Dr. Ryan Corte Creates Health Video Site

By Beth Robinson

One of the most challenging parts of a health care professional’s job is explaining complex information about conditions and treatment to patients and making sure the patient has the right information when they get home.

It is a frustration that optometrist Dr. Ryan Corte faces regularly. Last spring he had a patient come in about blurry vision in his left eye. It turned out that he hadn’t seen a doctor in years and had very advanced diabetic retinopathy and wasn’t even aware he had diabetes.

“As I was explaining to him the likelihood that he had undiagnosed diabetes, I could see the look on his face how perplexed he was that glasses, at that time, were not a likely solution to his problem. I referred him to a see a primary care doctor as well as retinal specialist. But he never went to either appointment,” says Corte. “I felt like in that moment, when I was educating him, it was almost overwhelming. I think of how many doctors are seeing more patients in less time and the amount of time they have to educate their patients is too little. I feel like there’s a lot of opportunity to break things down so the patient understands it, so they can follow up appropriately and they can follow through with success.”

Corte wished that there was a simple, video-based resource that he could send her and other patients to for information, but that resource wasn’t out there. So, he created his own.img_1755

A photography buff, Corte was one of the few people who had a digital camera in college. He says his passion for photography transferred to video when he realized that it was a great way to educate his patients. He did his research on YouTube, watching videos to see what would be the best format for him and how to set up his production.

The result was a website — now defunct — called Introeyes.com. Founded by Corte, who is also the CEO, the site featured 30- to 90-second videos that provided information on terminology, conditions, preventative care, disease management, products and services. The topics ranged from “What is an optician?” to “What is Keratoconus?” In the videos, eye care professionals explain each topic briefly, in clear and simple language, with appropriate photos or diagrams. The videos, which are all hosted on YouTube, are close captioned and each has a transcript below it.

Introeyes has since been replaced with a more broadly based health and wellness site called Introwellness.com.

Because the education level of his patients varies dramatically, Corte’s goal was to write the content at an elementary level.

 Corte believes that video-based content is the wave of the future.

“Our vision and our general viewpoint on where we’re going is big,” Corte said. I think we definitely have a very good start. More and more generations are beginning to shift to wanting info digitally.”

“You have to walk before you can run,” says Corte, who got Introeyes.com up and running in approximately two months. He is a self-taught video producer, developing the scripts with a team of eye care experts, mostly in the Concord area, but now branching out across the country. The simple format makes it easy for the professionals to shoot the video themselves, and Corte edits them, and adds photos and graphics to the footage of the professional explaining the subject.

His goal was a simple, professional-looking presentation.

“I built it into my schedule to learn to use the Adobe tools,” says Corte, who devotes one day each week to developing the site. “It’s like riding a bike, the learning curve is pretty steep, but once you learn how, you know.”

aflac-adAll that work paid off with a recent win in the Skimm email newspaper’s Moving On Up startup competition. From a nation-wide pool of entrepreneurs, Corte lasted into the semi-final round of 10, was flown out to Seattle for the final round of 3 competitors, and ultimately won a $2,500 cash prize, 6 months of financial mentoring from Chase Bank, and 6 months of startup mentoring from the Skimm.

He used the money and the mentoring help to take the site to the next level, ultimately deciding to retire the Introeyes site and integrate all of the content on the Introwellness.com, which already has content on eye care, nutrition, and men’s and women’s health, and is constantly growing.

Corte grew up in Michigan, where teaching may have been coded into his DNA. His mother and one of his three older sisters are high school teachers there, and another sister teaches at the University of Chicago Hospital. His father just retired from Hewlett Packard, where he was a computer consultant. Explaining things, it seems, is a family affair.

Corte attended Michigan State University, went to Ohio State University for optometry school, and then did his residency in Chicago. He had family in South Carolina, so he was familiar with this part of the country. When he was looking for a place to settle down and start a practice, the weather, the economy, and the stringent licensing in North Carolina, which meant more opportunities for those who qualified, sold him on the Charlotte area, where he recently met and married his wife Allison.

One sister has already followed him, and he’s hoping to lure the rest of the family away from the Michigan winters as well.

When he’s not teaching himself video editing or seeing patients, Corte lectures to residents on how to fine tailor their clinical skill sets to adapt to the ever—evolving health care industry. He and Allison are involved in Young Affiliates of the Mint, supporting The Mint Museum, and running, working out, socializing, being outdoors, and carving out time for their 6-month-old marriage.

Plus, Corte loves to run and work out. “I enjoy every sport you can imagine,” he says.

 

aflac-ad

 

 

Eye Doctor Using Videos to Educate Patients

img_1754

By Beth Robinson

One of the most challenging parts of a health care professional’s job is explaining complex information about conditions and treatment to patients and making sure the patient has the right information when they get home.

It is a frustration that Novi-bred optometrist Dr. Ryan Corte faces regularly in his Charlotte, NC practice. Last spring he had a patient come in about blurry vision in his left eye. It turned out that he hadn’t seen a doctor in years and had very advanced diabetic retinopathy and wasn’t even aware he had diabetes.

“As I was explaining to him the likelihood that he had undiagnosed diabetes, I could see the look on his face how perplexed he was that glasses, at that time, were not a likely solution to his problem. I referred him to a see a primary care doctor as well as retinal specialist. But he never went to either appointment,” says Corte. “I felt like in that moment, when I was educating him, it was almost overwhelming. I think of how many doctors are seeing more patients in less time and the amount of time they have to educate their patients is too little. I feel like there’s a lot of opportunity to break things down so the patient understands it, so they can follow up appropriately and they can follow through with success.”img_1755

Corte wished that there was a simple, video-based resource that he could send his and other patients to for information, but that resource wasn’t out there. So, he created his own.

A photography buff, Corte was one of the few people who had a digital camera in college. He says his passion for photography transferred to video when he realized that it was a great way to educate his patients. He did his research on YouTube, watching videos to see what would be the best format for him and how to set up his production.

The result was Introeyes.com. Founded by Corte, who is also the CEO, Introeyes.com features 30 – 90 second videos that provide information on terminology, conditions, preventative care, disease management, products and services. The topics range from “What is an optician?” to “What is Keratoconus?” In the videos, eye care professionals explain each topic briefly, in clear and simple language, with appropriate photos or diagrams. The videos, which are all hosted on YouTube, are close captioned and each has a transcript below it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-0lvo4in-2Q

 

Because the education level of his patients varies dramatically, Corte’s goal was to write the content at an elementary level.

“We’re simplifying the delivery of eye care information for the general public,” says Corte, who believes that video-based content is the wave of the future. “Our vision and our general viewpoint on where we’re going is big. I think we definitely have a very good start. More and more generations are beginning to shift to wanting info digitally.”

Introeyes.com is the first website for Corte, who also owns several other domains, including Introwellness.com, Introtherapy.com, Intromovement.com, Introdiet.com, Intromeds.com, Introsmile.com. His plan is to fill out additional sites with wellness, exercise, diet, medication, and dental content, and have content on all sites by the end of 2018.

“You have to walk before you can run,” says Corte, who got Introeyes.com up and running in approximately two months. He is a self-taught video producer, developing the scripts with a team of eye care experts, mostly in the Concord area, but now branching out across the country. The simple format makes it easy for the professionals to shoot the video themselves, and Corte edits them, and adds photos and graphics to the footage of the professional explaining the subject.

His goal was a simple, professional-looking presentation.aflac-ad

“I built it into my schedule to learn to use the Adobe tools,” says Corte, who devotes one day each week to developing the site. “It’s like riding a bike, the learning curve is pretty steep, but once you learn how, you know.”

All that work paid off with a recent win in the Skimm email newspaper’s Moving On Up startup competition. From a nation-wide pool of entrepreneurs, Corte lasted into the semi-final round of 10, was flown out to Seattle for the final round of 3 competitors, and ultimately won a $2,500 cash prize, 6 months of financial mentoring from Chase Bank, and 6 months of startup mentoring from the Skimm.

Corte grew up in Novi, where his parents still live, and where teaching may have been coded into his DNA. His mother teaches at Mercy High School in Farmington Hills. One of his three older sisters teaches at Saline High School and one teaches at the University of Chicago Hospital. His father just retired from Hewlett Packard, where he was a computer consultant. Explaining things, it seems, is a family affair.


Corte attended Michigan State University, went to Ohio State University for optometry school, and then did his residency in Chicago. He had family in South Carolina, so he was familiar with that part of the country. When he was looking for a place to settle down and start a practice, the weather, the economy, and the stringent licensing in North Carolina, which meant more opportunities for those who qualified, sold him on the Charlotte area, where he recently met and married his wife Alison.
When he’s not teaching himself video editing or seeing patients, Corte lectures to residents on how to fine tailor their clinical skill sets to adapt to the ever—evolving health care industry. He and Alison are involved in Young Affiliates of the Mint, supporting Charlotte cultural institution, the Mint Museum, and running, working out, socializing, being outdoors, and carving out time for their 6-month-old marriage.

Plus, Corte loves to run and work out. “I enjoy every sport you can imagine,” he says.

Dentist’s Old-School Approach Puts Focus On People

Dentist’s Old-School Approach Puts Focus on People

18

JUNE 2016

BY BETH ROBINSON

LBN Community Series
Royal Oak

The décor in Dr. Scott Meldrum’s Birmingham dental office is clean, comfortable, and untouched by a decorator since the practice moved from West McNichols in Detroit in 1973.

There is no television set in the waiting room. The office doesn’t have an internet connection. And eighty-year-old Norma Thurlow, the receptionist since 1957, administers the practice with a huge ledger-style appointment book and an electric typewriter.

This old-school approach is not a musty tradition, but an intentional focus on what is most important and valuable to Meldrum’s patients. This, for Meldrum, is a relationship with his patients that makes them feel safe and comfortable. And it’s about providing highly skilled, state-of-the-art care, without pain, and without unnecessary procedures.

 “The number one thing that makes any dental office successful is the dentist,” Meldrum says. “And the number two thing is the employees. It’s about people liking people.”

This starts at the front desk, where Thurlow greets each one of the practice’s 1,500 regular patients personally, including children who represent the fifth generation of their families to be treated there.

“I’m old school,” she says. “I hang up everyone’s coat and they love that.”

 

Thurlow was a nursing student in 1957 when she became ill and was hospitalized for a month. The break in her studies made returning unfeasible, so she decided to look for work in a dental office. An agency contacted her about the job in Dr. Joseph Champagne’s office, but then told her it was filled. A day later, they called her and said that the person they sent over only lasted one day.

“I could see why,” laughs Thurlow, recalling the elder Dr. Champagne’s temper. But Thurlow was more than a match for it, managing the office, becoming close with Dr. Champagne’s son, Dr. Jack Champagne and his wife, and staying the practice passed to Dr. Jack, and then to his son-in-law, Dr. Meldrum.

Meldrum credits Thurlow with helping to create the continuity that allowed for a successful transition.

“The number one thing that makes any dental office successful is the dentist,” Meldrum says. “And the number two thing is the employees. It’s about people liking people.”

“It’s nice, when you walk through the front door, to know the person behind the front desk,” says Meldrum. “They get their dental work done and they stand and talk to Norma for another 45 minutes.”

 In a recent article for the Oakland County Dental Society’s Dental Review, Meldrum outlined the “Ten P’s for a Successful Practice.” In addition to personality, personnel, and passion, Meldrum outlines the importance of product, price, and painlessness.

“The best thing,” he says, “is to do everything you can to make sure they don’t feel anything, so they gain confidence that they won’t get hurt next time they come.”

Many of his new patients come in with concerns about unnecessary procedures.

 “Overzealous dentistry,” says Meldrum, can be the result of dentists’ large student loans, corporate dental groups focused on profit, and expensive equipment which must be used to be justified.

Meldrum’s cozy sunlit office is not only familiar and comfortable, but it also lets patients know that they’re not getting extra procedures to pay for ritzy furnishings. Ditto the internet connection, which, Meldrum says, “would not have made the business more successful.”

 “It’s the science, the art, and the business of dentistry, and you have to be good at all three,” says Meldrum.

 And if Thurlow has her way, it will stay that way. Asked if she ever thinks about retiring, the feisty octogenarian says: “I don’t know why people stay at home. I’m a widow and I live all alone, so I just have to be here to aggravate Dr. Meldrum. That’s my plan in life.”

Dr. Meldrum’s general dentistry practice is located at:

295 Elm Street
Birmingham, MI 48009
248.645.5055

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