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2016 Theresa Maxis Award Recipients

Frank Venegas Jr. and Sylvia Gucken
Frank and Sylvia

Frank Venegas chair and CEO of the Ideal Group, and Sylvia Gucken serves as assistant to the chair. Ideal Group is a family of seven companies with an array of businesses under its umbrella. It is known for community outreach and development focused on education and family, sustaining employment opportunities and clean neighborhoods.

Mr. Venegas, an entrepreneur and the grandson of Mexican immigrants, began his first company with a “little bit of luck.” In 1979, he won a Cadillac in a Home Builders’ Association raffle. He sold the car for $12,000 and used the proceeds to start his first company. In 2000, he opened Ideal Group, headquarters on the same land in Southwest Detroit where General Motors manufactured that lucky 1979 Cadillac.

Mr. Venegas is a member of the General Motors Global Supplier Council; Ideal Group is one of four suppliers worldwide to earn GM’s inaugural Overdrive Award for Sustainability. He also sits on the DTE Energy Supplier Advisory Council and was appointed by Governor Rick Snyder as a member of Michigan’s Governor’s Talent Investment Board.

He currently serves on the boards of Michigan Minority Supplier Development Council; Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce; and Michigan Science Center. Mr. Venegas is a past Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce board member. He serves as chairman of the Board of Directors for the Detroit Hispanic Development Council and is active at Community Health and Social Services and LA SED. The Venegas family facilitates access to educational opportunities, internships and mentoring programs for Detroit Cristo Rey High School and its students, and recently, Mr. Venegas sponsored 58 seniors at Marygrove College.

Ms. Gucken joined Ideal Steel in 1991, marketing the company’s residential building products and the Ideal Shield product launch. She served on the Hispanic Manufacturing Center launch team from 1995 to 1996 and was a senior manager of the Ideal Group’s first Detroit operation. As Human Resource director, she implemented a community-based hiring program. This led to her active involvement with GRACE and, subsequently, the Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation, Community Health and Social Services, Detroit Cristo Rey High School and other Southwest Detroit agencies.

A member of the Ideal Executive Team and assistant to the chairman since 2002, Ms. Gucken coordinated the launch for several new companies. In 2004, she led the General Motors Supplier Diversity Council Admins in developing processes for scheduling meetings, communication, training and planning events.

Ms. Gucken serves on the University of Michigan – Dearborn’s Dean Advisory Council, supporting the mission to develop a community partnership between Southwest Detroit residents and the university. She holds a bachelor’s degree in education from Pennsylvania State University; has completed advanced studies at several Michigan universities; and attended a White House Conference on Building a Sustainable America at Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth. She is a former teacher, elected official and business owner.