Story courtesy of BizCon
Not many businesses in Sturgis can claim continuous operation since 1898, but HaasCaywood PC can. A local law firm originally established by Theo Jacobs just before the turn of the 20th century, the firm has seen several "eras" as prominent partners have come and gone, each leaving their mark not only on the firm, but also the Sturgis community. With recent changes and a new name, HaasCaywood PC is poised to keep the tradition going forward and do the same.
Today the firm is owned by two partners, Joseph Haas and Michael Caywood. Both are long- time members of the Sturgis community. Both live in Sturgis, raised their families in Sturgis and saw their children graduate from Sturgis High School.
The firm, too, is embedded in the Sturgis community. Over the years and under the leadership of various partners, it has played a prominent role in a number of community projects and programs like the Sturges-Young Auditorium, Doyle Community Center and Sturgis Area Community Foundation. This is a legacy the firm continues to uphold, with its current partners and staff being heavily involved in community boards and volunteer efforts.
"(Volunteerism) has always been a key aspect of our firm and Mike (Caywood) and I are committed to that, and proud to say our staff is as well" said Joseph Haas. Both partners see this community focus as a mutually beneficial relationship — "As professionals, not only working in the community, but living and participating in the community is a key aspect not only for the success of our firm, but the success of our community" Haas said. Michael Caywood agrees.
"With our kids here and our families here...its helping the community obviously, but it helps ourselves by helping the community as well."
While community participation has been a constant with the firm, recently much has changed. Following a reorganization in 2016, the firm took a fresh look at itself with changes to their name, logo and website. "We are ... taking the firm to a new era, and a new excitement in regards to the areas (of law) that we practice" says Haas.
This new era is more than just a new name and logo however. The firm has expanded both its business and its staff, hiring two new attorneys, David Hughes and Zachary Stempien. They will also be adding a second location in Coldwater, further expanding a footprint that already sees them handling cases in southwest Michigan and northern Indiana.
Although the new branch is rightfully getting attention, their Sturgis location has also undergone a significant facelift. The entire first floor of the building has been reworked, as has landscaping and general organization. Designed with input of the entire staff, it is representative of the new era for the firm; "we wanted to make the building more like us" says Caywood.
While the cosmetic changes are nice, they are part of an effort to help better serve their customers and handle new business better. For example, the changes included reworking their conference rooms so they are now both on the first floor and larger. This not only makes for a more comfortable experience for customers using the room, but allows the firm to be better set up to hold mediations, an expanding area of HaasCaywood's business.
The firm's practice has long been business-focused, another element of the firm that isn't changing in this new era.
"We consider ourselves a general practice firm, with an emphasis in helping small businesses" says Haas. "We can assist any small business owner in anything they need from ... getting their business initially started, but then assisting them in real estate acquisitions, business acquisitions, assisting them in their employment issues, tax issues, for the business owner their estate planning issues."
As with any area of law, this business-focus is constantly evolving, from a new emphasis on mediation and alternative dispute resolution, to expanded areas such as marijuana law and the business implications thereof. Oftentimes, the nature of business itself keeps things interesting according to Caywood: "The way businesses operate; that constantly changes, whether it be a tax issue that alters it or other factors, and so dealing with business owners is always fun."
Business has been good for HaasCaywood, and Joe Haas once again sees the link between the firm and community in that success. "We've seen that in Sturgis over the last few years; I don't think it's a coincidence that our firm has kind of taken off in regards to successes, new types of businesses and new clients, based on the success Sturgis has seen, the revitalization of Sturgis the last couple of years — we hope we played a part in it."