Coleen Felstow has already achieved her dream job. As majority owner and president of Imlay City Molded Products Inc., Felstow has reached her goal as a woman owning her own business, certified as a Women's Business Enterprise.
"I always knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur," Felstow said. "But when I became a chief financial officer in 1999, I wanted to be a role model for girls and other women."
She was, and continues to be, a mentor to girls outside work, too. For the past half-dozen years, she has been a youth leader and mentor for high-school-age girls in her church in Imlay City, Mich., about an hour's drive north of Detroit.
Felstow's business career began shortly after she graduated from Wayne State University in 1990 with a bachelor's degree in accounting. She became a certified public accountant and joined the large professional accounting firm now known as Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Ltd. While there, she gained experience in diverse manufacturing industries, although none was plastics-oriented.
This background was key to her landing a position as CFO of Imlay City Plastics Inc., a large custom injection molder. She soon took equity in the company as a minority shareholder.
Imlay City Plastics was swamped with orders, so Felstow and nine other managers decided to start up Imlay City Molded Products in 2000 to handle overflow from ICP. Then ICP was shocked when its major customer moved a big contract for wire harness covers to Mexico. Felstow and other owners wound ICP down in 2004, avoiding bankruptcy, although Imlay City Molded Products continued.
After several years of freelance accounting work and sitting on corporate boards, Felstow was offered a management position in the firm where she was already a shareholder and director. The general manager of Imlay City Molded Products was retiring, so she stepped into that role.
After five years, Felstow was voted in as president of ICMP and became its majority shareholder. Thus began her serious pursuit of making the company a woman-owned business, an achievement reached in March 2017.
Felstow believes it was worth the six months it took to get the women's enterprise certification. She expects it will help her company land defense contracts and other government work, as well as jobs in the private sector among companies wishing to support minority-owned businesses. In Michigan, automotive companies and their suppliers loom large in these plans.
"[Certification] should help the company grow," Felstow predicted. She is doing her part by getting the word out that ICMP is owned and run by a woman.
And her influence might crystallize plans among the girls she mentors. Her son seems to be on a career path in music, but her 20-year-old daughter might follow her into the business world at ICMP.
"Now she is pursuing business with a different company, but she seems interested in my company," Felstow mused.
With one big goal met, Felstow will put her energy into growing ICMP — and perhaps watch her daughter Samantha grow into the company as well.