Entrepreneurial Duo Create New Destinations in Village of Northport
Updated: Mar 28
NORTHPORT, MICHIGAN – Lynden Johncock and Steve Ball have teamed up to ensure the Village of Northport is no stranger to the national surge in entrepreneurial businesses.
With the financial support of 4Front Credit Union and Venture North Funding and Development, Johncock and Ball have acquired a large commercial property in the Village – the Northport Inn – and are moving at warp speed to restore the Inn and scale up operations for 2022. When completed, the “new” Northport Inn will be a Midwest destination with first class accommodations; a pub with locally made brew, wine and liquors; a top-drawer event center that’s already being scheduled for weddings; a restaurant for dining in or taking out; a center for well-being and fitness and even a roof-top bar overlooking the north end of west Grand Traverse Bay and the Northport public marina.
“Work is underway to rehab the buildings” said Ball, only two weeks after completing the acquisition. “We have restoration ahead involving floors, walls, windows and furnishings to make our nine rental accommodations sparkle. And there’s significant work required to rehab the “Union” and restaurant operations in the building, including new equipment. We want to use local suppliers and recapture the vibrance of the property along with modern fixtures and appliances so our workforce has the tools they need to work as a team to succeed.”
“It will be an eclectic jumping off destination to walkable Northport, a treasure of a friendly community that has something for everyone in its downtown district, along with a Great Lakes marina and much more,” says Johncock. “And it’s all a stone skip away from the Northport Inn. Plus, this is a wonderful community to live and raise a family.”
“Entrepreneurism is alive and well in northern Michigan,” said Venture North president Laura Galbraith. “Based on the new census, an estimated 17 million new entrepreneurial business start ups will be formed in the nation in the year ahead, smashing the previous record of 4.3 million start ups in 2020. And we see the same trend in northwest Michigan with the largest percentage ever of start-ups receiving loan capital from Venture North in 2021.”
Johncock and Ball each own 50 percent of the business.
How did they meet? A power lunch? A chamber networking event? A collaborative business deal? Shoestring relatives?
Try an accidental meeting while duck hunting in Nebraska!
An unlikely meeting of two special people.
With a degree in Fire Science from Lake Superior State, Ball is a Captain with the Traverse City Fire Department where he has provided service for twenty years. With a construction background, he acquired Michigan Gutters, a company with 40 employees that covers northern and mid-Michigan. He is a self-proclaimed “serial entrepreneur,” supported by his MBA from Davenport University, who also recently acquired a small garage door business and started a vacation rental business before partnering with Johncock in Northport.
Johncock co-owns Williams and Bay Pumping, a firm covering northwest Michigan with over 20 employees that is involved with septic pumping, furnishing portable restrooms, plumbing and drain cleaning, septic inspections and more. He heralds from Torreon, Mexico where he lived for several years in his youth. Johncock even sports a nickname from his childhood years in Mexico with a translation that is remarkably prophetic of his new Great Lakes environ: Pescadito Blanco or “Little Whitefish.”
Johncock and Ball emphasize the importance of strong family and community values as they partner in the Northport Inn and, perhaps, future collaborations. They have two closely-knit families with extraordinarily talented spouses who collectively provide bookkeeping, human resources, administrative and design services. Many of their children are expected to be among those employed at the Inn. They also talk freely about the importance of giving back to the communities where they live and work and the principles of their faith as the backbone of their family and work foundations.
“This is a text book Venture North deal,” said Laura Galbraith, president of Venture North, a nonprofit offering lending capital and free business services to small businesses in northwest Michigan. “We have a terrific, longtime financial partner in 4Front Credit Union, a two-person team of entrepreneurial big thinkers with an amazing portfolio of business successes and community activism, and an exciting new business that fits perfectly with Northport and their game plan for the future. It simply doesn’t get much better than this. We were so glad to lend a hand.”
“We are grateful to have found this opportunity and new home in Northport,” Johncock says. “We’re planning to create ten to fifteen new jobs and use every bit of local resources that we can to make this enterprise flourish. We want everyone – from the Village fathers to our families near and far to take great pride in the Inn."
For more information, contact:
Laura Galbraith, President, Venture North Funding