Bob Sutherland

President and Owner of Cherry Republic in Glen Arbor. Sutherland started the company in 1989 during his last year in college. Cherry Republic currently sells more than 174 cherry products, including dried cherries, chocolate-covered dried cherries, cherry salsa, and jams and jellies. Sutherland started as an entrepreneur, selling a T-shirt printed with a cherry tree and the slogan "Cherry Republic... Life, Liberty, Beaches & Pie: the Michigan Northwest" out of the trunk of his car. He then put the logo on a cherry cookie and bags of dried cherries. The company has grown to include four retail locations in Michigan with more than 80 full-time-equivalent employees, and more than 200 during the holidays. In addition, Cherry Republic sends about 80,000 packages a year from catalog orders. In January, the company received approval from the Michigan Economic Growth Authority for a brownfield redevelopment project for the construction of a new headquarters, retail outlet, food production facility, and residential space in Traverse City. The project is expected to create up to 30 permanent full-time jobs with a capital investment of approximately $13 million. Sutherland sends his Orchard Report email newsletter to more than 50,000 subscribers each week. This summer, Cherry Republic is raising money for the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail, a new family-friendly bike trail, by auctioning items and experiences in the Orchard Report. Under Sutherland's leadership, Cherry Republic has given more than $750,000 to preserve the environment and quality of life in northern Michigan and has enacted a 1 percent tariff on every purchase that goes to agricultural programs in northern Michigan. Another 1 percent of its sales is donated each year to regional causes. Cherry Republic's green practices include dual-flush toilets and a solar-thermal system at its Glen Arbor location. Sutherland received his bachelor's degree in English from Northern Michigan University.

WHERE BORN: “Detroit.”

MOST INFLUENTIAL PERSONS: “My family has been a big positive influence on me. My older brothers, mother, and father really believed in me and encouraged me with 'go for it' and 'follow your intuition.”

LAST BOOK READ:Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv. It makes a strong argument about how important spending time in nature is to our well-being. Of course, I am easy to persuade as the woods and wild are so important to me.”

WORDS THAT DESCRIBE ME: “Creative, imaginative, energetic, and unique.”

WHERE MY FIELD/INDUSTRY IS HEADED: “Our company is headed toward finding more meaning and connection to those things that are most important for our customers, vendors, and staff.”

FAVORITE TECHNOLOGICAL GADGET: “Solar water heaters. I have one at my business and one at my house. It is a slam dunk. We should all be heating water this way. So clean and simple.”

FAVORITE PLACE: “My favorite place right now is Port Oneida Beach. Summertime, there is no better place to walk and be.”

FAVORITE HOBBIES: “Beach combing, swimming, yoga... anything that keeps me in bare feet.”

FAVORITE FOOD: “Garlic – the fresh garlic we are getting from our CSA Meadowlark Farms right now. It is great.”

MY HIDDEN TALENT: “My memory for phone numbers and poetry.”

HOW I WANT TO BE REMEMBERED: “He gave his all to everyone and everything and thus grew so close to God.”