John Rakolta Jr. Headlines JVS’s 19th Annual Strictly Business Luncheon

Networking Event Honors Inspirational Leaders, Entrepreneurs

Business leaders who reflect the strength and innovation of Detroit will highlight JVS’s 19th Annual Strictly Business Networking and Awards Luncheon, 11:30 a.m. Thursday, June 23 at the MGM Grand in Detroit.

Headlining the event is Walbridge Chairman and CEO John Rakolta Jr., who will serve as honorary chair and keynote speaker. Rakolta will welcome an anticipated crowd of nearly 800 business and community leaders and talk about rebuilding Detroit. Strictly Business is a fundraiser to support JVS in its efforts to put metro Detroiters back to work.

“This event exemplifies who we are and what we do,” said Joshua Eichenhorn, Strictly Business co-chair. “We will showcase the success stories of three people who JVS helped to overcome obstacles to employment. These individuals will each receive an Employee of the Year Award at the event.”

In addition, event goers will hear from two successful young business owners receiving awards from JVS. Paul Glomski, co-founder and CEO of Detroit Labs, will accept the 2016 JVS Business Leadership Award on behalf of his company, Detroit Labs, and  Zack Sklar, majority owner and chef of Peas & Carrots Hospitality, will receive the 2016 JVS Rising Entrepreneur Award.

“While Sklar and Glomski’s relatively young companies reflect a burgeoning Detroit, Rakolta’s firm symbolizes its strong foundation,” said Eichenhorn. “They are helping to build momentum in Detroit’s comeback.”

Founded in Detroit in 1916, this year marks the centennial for Walbridge, one of America’s largest privately owned construction companies. The Detroit-based firm has built iconic projects such as Olympia Stadium, Orchestra Hall and the Ford Rouge development, and withstood economic highs and lows that have been devastating for the construction industry.

During Rakolta’s tenure, Walbridge has grown from a regional firm with annual sales of $40 million in the mid-1970s to a global entity registering sales of more than $1.5 billion in 2014. The company is ranked among the largest contractors in America and it tops domestic automotive manufacturing construction.

Rakolta has been a leader in both business and the community and is noted for taking on the region’s toughest challenges, including job creation, education, diversity and health care. Especially passionate about transforming the Detroit Public Schools, he currently co-chairs the Coalition for the Future of Detroit School Children. The group issued recommendations in 2015 and continues to advocate for stabilizing the troubled school district to ensure a quality education for all Detroit schoolchildren.

“Through his work with the Detroit Schools coalition and other groups such as the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and New Detroit, John has shown remarkable commitment to rebuilding Michigan and Detroit,” said Leah Rosenbaum, JVS president and CEO.  “We’re thrilled he’ll share his insight with us at Strictly Business.”

Strictly Business is co-chaired by Joshua Eichenhorn and Jeffrey Tischler. Find details about sponsorships and registration at or contact Judy Strongman at or (248) 233-4213.