Transplant Tales

A wise ghost once whispered, "If you build it, they will come." Well, the area has long been building a place for business, community and culture to thrive. And true to the prediction, thousands have come and continue to arrive every day in pursuit of their own Up North dream. We asked a few to share what they left behind – and what they found – when they took the big leap to live in northern Michigan.

Diane L. Dupuis

Before: Publishing executive, Metro Detroit

After: Fund-development officer, Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy, Traverse City

In 2001, with children ages 5 and 8, we sought a school that would challenge and fulfill them.And we found the perfect match: Pathfinder School in Traverse City. Perfect…except for the nine-hour round trip from our Detroit-area home.I left a career as a publishing executive to join Up North's nonprofit sector; my husband, Steve Carey, who was an automotive designer downstate, became a sail maker in TC, and now co-owns Essential Canvas. He also plays in several bands regionally.Pathfinder enriched us all – a family priority we continue to celebrate.

Karen Pontius

Before: Co-owner of a not-ideally located spice-blending company in Fort Wayne, Indiana

After: Co-owner of an idyllically located spice-blending company in Suttons Bay

My husband, Kim, and I started our spice blending company in Fort Wayne, Indiana in November of 2000. Stephen Covey once advised people should "begin with the end in mind," so we named it Suttons Bay Trading Company in preparation of our move – someday – to the village of the same name. We opened our shop's doors in Suttons Bay in April of 2011. Our advice to new transplants? Get to know the area by driving, biking or hiking back roads and pathways. Pick the spot that makes you feel euphoric and get to know the folks who are already there and ask them questions about everything. Build relationships!

Geoff Streit

Before: Financial advisor, E. Lansing

After: Commercial Lender, First National Bank of America, Traverse City

I had lived and worked in East Lansing for more than a decade. Then, after losing my job I picked up the phone and called the CEO of a bank I previously had worked for. He asked me to move up to Traverse City and take a job as the commercial lender for their newly opened branch here.Currently I live and work in Traverse City, and I am slowly moving my wife and two daughters here.Everyone is very excited.

Jim Hoffman

Before: Banker, Cheboygan, Muskegon, TC …

After: President, Smart Energy LLC, Traverse City

I was born in West Haven, Connecticut, but when I returned to West Haven after an honorable discharge from the Navy, an incident occurred with my Harley Davidson, causing me to relocate to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. There, I met a girl from Petoskey. We married and moved to TC, but four years later, divorced. To gain job interview experience, I drove to Cheboygan Bank and told them I'm the most productive worker and would outperform anyone else if they'd pay me top dollar. To my surprise, they agreed. So, I stayed with that bank, married a girl from town, and our two boys were born there. After 22 years, many relocations (one to TC) and a layoff, my wife and I listed the pros and cons of other desired places to live. Then we packed up and returned to TC. I'm now a small business owner, selling energy-efficient lighting solutions to industrial and commercial facilities throughout Michigan. Beth and I have been married 28 years.

Karen E. Feahr

Before: Transmission tariff & settlement director, Jackson.

After: Energy supply manager, Traverse City Light & Power, Traverse City

After 38 years with Consumers Energy in Jackson, Michigan, my husband and I were planning for eventual retirement and a move to TC, where we had vacationed since the early 1970s. One Sunday late in the summer of 2008, we spotted an advertisement for the Energy Supply Manager's job at Traverse City Light & Power. It was a perfect match for my utility experience. I applied, interviewed and received an offer. In a few short weeks I retired from Consumers, listed our house, rented a condo and moved to TC – in a blizzard. It's the best move we ever made.

Heidi Jo Wayco-Berden

Before: Recycling coodinator, Southfield

After: Self-employed writer/ editor, Tweak Nut, Traverse City

I loved my career in the recycling field and served on the Michigan and National Recycling Coalition boards. My husband was a superintendent for a construction company that specialized in hospital and school projects. But we wanted our daughter to be able to run fast enough to have the wind blow through her hair, so we made our getaway – five acres in TC – our home. We sold our little house in Livonia and put up our home here. My husband works in TC and I now have a home office. My advice for transplants? You'll need more money for gas and lettuce than you'll predict!

Linda Francomb

Before: Radio sales: Clear Channel, Jackson, Mississippi; Cumulus, Mobile, Alabama.

After: Senior account manager, WCCW-FM, Classic Hits; WCCW-AM, ESPN All Sports Radio; WJZQ-FM, Z93 Hits, Traverse City

In 2005, I met a Traverse City man in Memphis, Tennessee. We fell in love, and I followed my heart to his TC town. We married in 2006, had a baby boy in 2010 – named Memphis! – and I am continuing my 15-year career in radio working for Midwestern Broadcasting. I love it here! When my southern friends ask me, How do you stand all that snow? My answer is, You get accustomed to it – and it's a small price to pay to enjoy paradise on earth. Beaches, snow sports, fall colors and a plethora of activities with incredible year-round beauty – who could ask for more?

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