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Shinola President Jacques Panis: Detroit Is Rich with Talent and People Who Want to Learn

By Nick Mattar

More than 50 attendees gathered at the College for Creative Studies to hear from Shinola President Jacques Panis, the latest executive to participate in the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Inside the CEO Mind series. Panis discussed the breadth of talent in the Detroit region and how it was a driving factor for Shinola’s decision to open a watch factory in the city.

“People always ask, ‘Why would you open a watch factory in Detroit?’ The answer is that Detroit is rich with talent and rich with people who want to learn,” Panis said.

Panis also shared insight on the business decisions guiding Shinola’s portfolio of products including watches, bicycles, jewelry, turntables, notebooks and more.

“You don’t want to be a ‘one trick pony’ or known for selling only one product. Your second product category is as important as your first,” Panis said, referring to Shinola’s bicycles that his team developed after launching the company’s first lines of watches.

In addition to his business acumen, Panis also talked about Shinola’s involvement in the community. He cited Frank Venegas Jr., president of The Ideal Group, as a great example of a leader who improved his community by proactively offering jobs to local residents. Shinola has added 600 jobs to the region’s economy since opening in 2011. Nearly 300 of those jobs are based in the A. Alfred Taubman Center, which also houses a high school and the College for Creative Studies. It is the only building in the world that houses both a factory and a higher education institution.

Following the presentation, Panis took questions from attendees and led a tour of the Shinola facilities in the Taubman Center. View photos from the event and tour here.

Nick Mattar is the director of marketing at the Detroit Regional Chamber.