Haworth Headlines


Born: Buffalo, Minnesota.

Has lived and worked in: Minnesota, North Dakota, Texas, Iowa, Michigan

Degrees held: Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Winona State University; Master of Business Administration, Minnesota State University Moorhead; Ph.D., Texas Tech University. Family: Married to Jim Palan, with three adult children.

Research interests: Examining teenage girls’ autonomy and competence as shoppers; consumer socialization — how children learn to be consumers and make consumption decisions; decision-making in families, especially on the types of strategies children and parents use when making decisions together.

People would be surprised to know: Palan attended Luther Northwestern Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota.

For fun and relaxation: Palan enjoys reading, cooking and exercising.

The Changing Face of Haworth... Dr. Kay Palan

Moving forward while meeting today's challenges

An educator with impressive experience in business on many different fronts, Dr. Kay Palan is primed to meet the challenges of today and lead the Haworth College of Business to new heights. As both a marketing and business consultant, she has worked on civic, corporate and nonprofit projects. As an entrepreneur, she established and managed a successful home health care business. And on the academic front, she has served as a business educator focused on developing programs in entrepreneurial studies, leadership and experiential learning.

So what drew Palan to the dean position at the Haworth College of Business? She wanted a university that felt like “home,” something comparable to Iowa State University, where she was serving as an associate dean.

“WMU is a research-oriented university that values teaching and is committed to students,” says Palan. “That’s what higher education is all about – and the Midwest was appealing. As I began to meet the people who were so genuinely committed to Western and Kalamazoo, some who have worked here for years—well, that spoke to the kind of place I was seeking.”

"Whether it is a projection model or the latest way to measure brand image, we always have to be on top of our game — to be sure our students are on top of their game." — Dr. Kay Palan

As the college’s sixth dean, Palan is taking on many challenges facing colleges today—such as decreased funding and changes in student demographics—while aiming to meet the needs of globalization and diversity in the rapidly changing world. Business colleges are working to meet the unique challenges of declining enrollment as well as a declining population of business faculty.

Quick to entertain the education challenges as opportunities and to raise the College to new heights, Palan emphasizes the need to know the College’s target markets and the importance of providing education that is accessible in meeting students’ needs. “Today there are increasing numbers of non-traditional students and students transferring in from community colleges. Technology has helped to provide more delivery options, but we also need to create partnerships with community colleges to ensure that we are providing smooth transitions for these students.”

Palan stresses the importance of leveraging business school knowledge within the university, indicating the need to learn how non-business students might benefit from business courses. “There are potential partnering opportunities where business courses can add value to other majors,” says Palan. “We have to be responsive to the needs of business—preparing students with cutting-edge experiences and ensuring that they are poised to be effective critical thinkers, problem solvers and thought leaders in the global business environment, understanding the importance of ethics and sustainable business practices,” says Palan.

Students learn best by doing, and Palan intends for the College to be on the forefront of providing hands-on experiences to fully prepare students for their future careers. She plans to further expand existing experiential learning and service learning components into an array of courses in all disciplines.

Palan values the College’s connection with global partners, noting the critical importance in addressing the global business climate. “We need partners around the world to provide study abroad and internship opportunities – and to ensure that we are ‘heading in the right direction’ in terms of educating students globally.” Furthermore, Palan wants assurance the College is offering relevant global programs. “Any student who has ever studied or interned abroad comes back a different person and better-prepared to enter the business world; they are much more open minded, adaptable, flexible and comfortable with uncertainty, because they’ve had to function in a culture that’s different from their own,” says Palan.

"Any student who has ever studied or interned abroad comes back a different person and better-prepared to enter the business world; they are much more open-minded, adaptable, flexible and comfortable with uncertainty, because they’ve had to function in a culture that’s different from their own," — Dr. Kay Palan

Palan also believes that ethical thinking and sustainability are critically important components of business curricula. “We need to be teaching ethics,” says Palan. “We can’t assume that students have the right set of values and will know how to follow those values when asked to do something that is not right.” She embraces the need to embed ethics in coursework by providing students opportunities to wrestle with case studies and analyze and learn from mistakes made in real-life ethical dilemmas. In terms of sustainability, Palan’s aim is to help students understand the right balance between people, planet and profits. She notes that the concept of sustainability needs to be built into one’s long-term thinking and planning.

With an appreciation for technology, Palan wants today’s students to be grounded not only with the latest technology ‘know how,’ but says students also need to be savvy in terms of the latest tools within the disciplines. “Whether it is a projection model or the latest way to measure brand image, we always have to be on top of our game, to be sure our students are on top of their game.”

As a successful entrepreneur, Palan insists that teaching entrepreneurship is essential. “Most of the wealth in this country is created by individuals who have started their own businesses,” says Palan. “We need to prepare our students to have entrepreneurial skills regardless of major and whether or not they want to start a business. All students benefit from being able to think like an entrepreneur — to be able to recognize an opportunity and take advantage of it, understand feasibility analysis and manage risk. A basic understanding of innovation, ideas, products, brands, processes, services and business leads to success.”

Business partnerships are also key to the success of the College. “Businesses employ our students,” says Palan. “They want students who can speak and write well and can think critically about a situation,” she says. “And on our end, we have to recognize what the business market needs with respect to student preparation and identify where there are gaps in the curriculum. It is our partners who can best provide us with guidance in terms of these needs and how we educate students today.

“Our business partners are alumni, advisory councils, employers and the business community at large,” says Palan. “The College is what it is today because of the collaboration and strong network between our students, faculty, alumni and business partners – it is impressive, and we appreciate the help of so many, in so many different ways.”

Two Alliance Center

Two Alliance Center, Atlanta, is one of the Trainor Glass award-winning projects.

Shared insight from the brothers

Sitting down with the Trainor brothers, Bob, Tom and Ed, is an enlightening experience. The camaraderie of the brothers is infectious and they have a way of "keeping each other honest and giving credit where credit is due." Bob warmly dubs Ed the "quiet superstar" and says that Tom is "the smartest" because he was the only one of them to follow their father's advice to "get all the accounting training that you can."
Many might wonder how three brothers can hold key leadership positions within the company, working with much of their extended family, and still keep the peace with each other. The brothers agree that they leave their differing points of view on business issues within the walls of Trainor Glass Company.

On keeping the family peace …

Bob: "Dad taught us to leave work at work. You can disagree all day but when you are at a family function at night, it is like it never happened. Dad was good at showing us how to disagree with each other and still respect each other."

What do you feel are important traits of successful entrepreneurs?

Bob: "Honesty, a moral compass, and having employees who feel a sense of ownership."
Tom: "Good work ethic."
Ed: "Self-driven motivation."

All three agree that knowing your employees is important.

Can you share some insight about your WMU experience?
Bob: "I had a business writing course that I really liked, where we were taught to take the 'I' out of things and replace it with 'you.' I have tried to incorporate this concept in the business to show customers and employees how they are affected. I also really liked my courses in psychology, particularly the study of motivation and positive reinforcement and use these concepts in the business."
Tom: "I liked the fact that in the College of Business you sampled several different areas: marketing, management, finance, and accounting. I was a marketing major before I realized I wasn't a marketing major. Having a good general business background and experience in all the areas helps one to make better informed decisions. Business Communication was probably one of my most helpful classes because I tended to be more introverted – that class really helped me."
Ed: "I found the supply management and logistics classes most helpful."

How do you balance your life away from work?
Bob: "I enjoy my family, sports and sporting events."
Tom: "I find balancing work and life hard sometimes, but you just have to make time. I like coaching my children in sports. I like spending time in Michigan too. Technology makes it a lot easier to achieve this balance. I have gotten better at it over the years, but I still work at it."
Ed: "I spend time with my family – my wife, kids and grandkids. They are a big part of what I am and who I am. I also like to spend time in Southwest Michigan on the lake. It is very relaxing."

Successful leadership requires vision

Dr. John M. Dunn, third from left, is pictured with the Trainor brothers (from left) Tom, Bob and Ed, who lead Trainor Glass Co.

They are brothers and co-workers, not to mention highly successful business leaders, directing the success of the Chicago-based Trainor Glass Company. The company provides fabrication and installation of glass products and framing systems in architectural applications.

With over 600 team workers and 22 operations, ranging from large, highly-efficient manufacturing sites to satellite offices, the Trainor brothers have more than carried out their father’s vision of the family business.

Started by their father, Robert Trainor Sr., Trainor Glass achieved incredible growth since its beginnings in 1953. Even more impressive is that since taking over the business, at a time when the future of glass was questionable due to the concern for energy conservation in the 1970s, the Trainor brothers have grown sales in excess of $200 million.

Glass roots

The Trainor brothers spent a considerable amount of time helping out in the family business as they were growing up — sweeping floors, cleaning bathrooms and taking excess glass to the dumpster. One would expect that the brothers would someday take over the family business...but in their mind, it was actually quite the contrary. Their father had a rule that his children must work for another company for a period of time before he would consider them for employment.

“During the 70s when the energy crisis hit, there was widespread concern that glass was an inefficient use of energy. Many of the larger glass companies were expected to swallow up the little guys,” says Bob Trainor, BBA ’78, CEO. “Father wasn’t sure the business would survive, so he encouraged us to go to college and work other jobs before we could work for him.”

Western Michigan University’s Haworth College of Business was the college of choice for several family members. Bob studied marketing and accounting, Tom, BBA ’84, studied accounting and Ed, BBA ’82, focused on marketing and finance.

After graduation, they heeded their father’s advice. Bob worked for Hormel Foods, Tom started his own CPA firm and Ed worked in the construction industry.

Today, the Trainor brothers are the leaders of the family business. Bob is CEO, Tom is president and Ed is executive vice president and national purchasing director. The brothers were all on campus last spring as part of the Haworth College of Business’s Distinguished Speaker Series.

Today, the company is best known for quality fabrication, design, engineering and installation of glass products and framing systems in virtually every architectural application, including new construction, green building solutions, building rehabilitation, storefronts and entrances, tenant interiors, and custom specialty work. Their expertise with specialized materials, complex architectural designs, building geometry that pushes the limits of curtain wall, and innovative engineering solutions … or as its Facebook page states …“Anything and everything glass.”

From 2003-08, there was growth in construction and glass building. But, how does a major glass company survive during an economic downturn? “It seems there is a tough year or two in every decade,” says Bob, “This too will end. We’ve seen it again and again, so we prepare for it in a number of ways. We put in systems to lower our production costs, grow and expand our products and differentiate our company from others.”

"We have our eyes set on being the best of class in every market, a feat that we believe we have achieved in the last five years, by using the power of the brand." — Bob Trainor

The brothers had the vision to expand into other markets including solar and modular walls. “This helped our sustainability,” says Bob. The goal was to increase revenue per job. Ultimately, the bottom line goal was to keep American jobs in hopes that the markets would continue to grow in these areas.

The company’s portfolio continues to grow—Major recent building projects include the Legg Mason/Four Seasons Towers in Baltimore, Md., Bank of America Center in Charlotte, N.C., the Austonian in Austin, Texas; Two Alliance Center, in Atlanta, Ga.; the Lindsey-Flanigan Denver Courthouse, in Denver, Colo.; and the Hunt Oil corporate headquarters in Dallas, Texas. In addition to corporate buildings, their portfolio of projects includes work at airport terminals, museums, universities, government facilities and so much more.

Today, the company has a showcase of awards to its credit, which include: Engineering News-Record’s “Best of the Best 2010” for Blue Cross Blue Shield Tower and the Austonian, US Glass Green Design Finalists for both the Lindsey-Flanigan Denver Courthouse & 1 Bank of America Center, “Glass Magazine’s” Crystal Achievement Awards in three categories: Most Innovative Curtain Wall Project (Two Alliance Center, Atlanta); Best Showroom, and Most Innovative Web Site, Large Company (Trainor Glass Design Centers Web Site).

Business issues -- healthy discussions -- identifying solutions

The Haworth College of Business serves as a focal point for sharing information and encouraging discussions on current issues through a number of conferences and through initiatives of the four centers associated with the College.

New center promotes technology in health care

The formation of the new Center for Health Information Technology Advancement (CHITA) is a joint project through WMU’s Bronson School of Nursing and the Department of Business Information Systems. Dr. Bernard Han, professor of business information systems, and Dr. Sharie Falan, assistant professor of nursing, are leading the interdisciplinary partnership.

The center’s focus is to provide solutions to today’s health care information technology needs through a collaborative learning environment among nursing and computer information systems students.

Dr. Bernard Han and Dr. Sharie Falan

Center explores futures of newspapers/health care
Two separate conferences offered insight into the futures of newspapers and health care as part of the focus of the Center for Sustainable Business Practices. The center aims to enlighten educators, business professionals and politicians about how to cope with business and prepare for the new challenges of the 21st century.

From left Dr. Ken Fisher, M.D., internal medicine and nephrology; Dr. Tom George, M.D., anesthesiologist and former Michigan State House representative; Landon Van Dyke, MBA '03, U.S. Dept. of State—Sustainability; and Brian Whitelaw, JD, participate in a panel at the "Sustaining the Business of Health Care in America" conference.

GBC facilitates international efforts

The Global Business Center continues to facilitate internationalization of the curriculum and strengthen interdisciplinary collaboration of international programs. These include efforts to teach abroad, host international guests, promote study abroad programs and pursue partnerships with universities around the world.

Dr. Dong-Dae Lee, business dean, Dong-A University in South Korea, visited with College faculty and staff during a visit to campus to explore and discuss partnerships in areas including the establishment of a dual degree program.

IT Forum explores technology and health care
Information technology and health care professionals explored ways information technology can facilitate better health care through collaboration at the 9th annual WMU IT Forum. The event, hosted by the Department of Business Information Systems and CHITA, was themed "Advancing Health Care with IT: Exploring the Landscape for 2011."

Food Conference draws record crowd
A record crowd of over 500 students, faculty, alumni, guests and leaders in the food industry attended the 46th annual Food Marketing Conference, titled "Leading in a Time of Consumer and Economic Change" in March. At the conference from left are Dr. Ann Veeck, associate professor of marketing; Dan Munson, guest, Dr. JoAnn Atkin, associate professor of marketing and Dr. Tim Greene, WMU provost.

Ethical leadership discussed
"Leadership and Ethics in Business" was the theme of a conference featuring John Allan, partner, Varnum LLP, and Bill Cousineau, BS '78, vice president, corporate operations support, Kohler Co.

Center for Entrepreneurship expands activities
The Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation hosted several events for students, faculty and staff in conjunction with Global Entrepreneurship Week. The center serves as a clearinghouse for ideas on enterprise and innovation. The center has established a student organization dedicated to entrepreneurship.
"Many students have an interest in entrepreneurial careers," says K. C. O'Shaughnessy, professor of management, and advisor to the organization. "We hope to provide them with the knowledge and skills it takes to launch a successful new idea."

Tim Welke (left), major league baseball umpire and crew chief, and Bill Welke (center) BBA '90, major league baseball umpire, spoke on "The Business of Blue (Baseball Umpiring)."

Keystone Community Bank Breakfast Series

The Keystone Community Bank Breakfast Series is underwritten through the generosity of Keystone Community Bank. The series provides an opportunity for the local community to hear prominent business leaders, WMU faculty, alumni and friends of the College discuss current business issues and corporate strategies as well as key information regarding the continuing progress of the College.

Neil Bremer
BS '78 Executive Director, Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo
Tamara Davis
BBA '88, MBA '99
Regional Director, Michigan Small Business & Technology Development Center, WMU
Jason Kehrer, Chief Problem Solver, The Image Group
Jack Luderer Interim Dean, WMU School of Medicine
Michael Newman
BBA '73
President/Managing Director, Michigan Aggregates Association and affiliated MAA Foundation
Kay Palan
WMU Haworth College of Business
Tim Terrentine
BS '04, MA '06
Executive Director, Douglass Community Association
Ron Winter
NFL official, WMU professor emeritus

Distinguished Speaker Series

The Haworth College of Business hosts the Distinguished Speaker Series to provide a forum for the community on topics of importance in today's dynamic world and to bring individuals involved in the shaping of that world to campus.

From left Dr. Thomas Carey, professor of management and Distinguished Speaker Series coordinator, is pictured with Dr. Leslie Braksick, MA '87, Ph.D. '90, author and co-founder of Continuous Learning Group. Braksick spoke on "Leadership in a Changing World: Stand Tall or Tap Dance?"


Arthur Johnson, MBA '80, Chairman and CEO, United Bank of Michigan and President and CEO, United Community Financial Corp., "Changes and Challenges in Community Banking"
Birgit Klohs, BBA '83, President and CEO, Right Place Inc., "Positioning West Michigan for the Global Economy"
Kenneth Miller, BBA '69, MBA '70, CEO/Principal Partner, Millennium Restaurant Group, LLC, "Arcadia Commons West and Event Center — A Vision for a Regional Partnership and Development"
Sheldon Stone, BS '78, MA '79, Partner, Amherst Partners LLC, "What is the New Normal?"
Robert Trainor, BBA '78 and Thomas Trainor, BBA '84, Chief Executive Officer and President, respectively, Trainor Glass, "Entrepreneurship in a Global Economy: A Family Experience"

Haworth College of Business
2100 Schneider Hall
Western Michigan University
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5457 USA
(269) 387-5050 | (269) 387-5710 Fax