Energetx Composites

Two people from Michigan will be the guests of First Lady Michelle Obama at tonight's State of the Union address.

Holland resident Bryan Ritterby and Detroiter Alicia Boler-Davis.

Alicia Boler-Davis

Boler-Davis is the plant manager at GM's Orion Assembly and Pontiac Stamping. She oversees the production of the newly released Chevy Sonic - "the first new small car program from GM to be manufactured in the U.S.," according to the White House.

When President Obama and President Lee of South Korea visited GM's facility, Boler-Davis led them on the tour.

Boler-Davis was the first African American woman to be plant manager at a GM vehicle manufacturing plant, according to DiversityCareers.com.

Bryan Ritterby

Ritterby describes himself as an "Average Joe."

Someone who is not all that political, and who normally wouldn't watch a State of the Union address.

Tonight, he'll be watching with Boler-Davis from the balcony in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Garrett Ellison of the Grand Rapids Press writes about Ritterby's invitation from the White House:

Bryan Ritterby’s crazy week started on Saturday with a ring from Energetx Composities, where he works as a lab technician, telling him the White House might be calling.

Thus began a whirlwind adventure that culminates tonight when Ritterby, 58, of Holland, will be Michelle Obama’s guest in the First Lady’s box for the president’s annual State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress.

“For some crazy reason, they liked my story,” said Ritterby, who has spent all day fielding calls from reporters in his hotel room at the luxurious St. Regis Hotel in downtown Washington D.C., a block and a half from the White House.

“I’m so nervous, I’m leaning against the wall so my knees don’t knock.”

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

The recession forced many small manufacturers to find new products to make in an attempt to survive.  That was particularly true throughout the industrial Midwest. One Michigan yacht manufacturer is taking risks in new industries to keep its factory open and employees on the job.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Governor Rick Snyder is honoring a West Michigan company for diversifying its business. Snyder presented Energetx Composites with his first “Reinventing Michigan” award. The award is part of a campaign promise to highlight more business success stories in the state.  

Energetx is a spin-off of Tiara Yachts. Luxury boats sales crashed during the recession.  In 2008 the company realized they could use the same strong but light-weight material used to make yachts to make other things, particularly parts for wind turbines.