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People Make it all Work

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Ben Purrenhage

Ben Purrenhage graduated from WMU in 2005 with a degree in Industrial Design. His career started off with Crown Equipment Corporation located in mid-west Ohio. A native of Lake Orion in eastern Michigan, Purrenhage always hoped he would return to his home state one day. It was a position with Tekna, Inc. as a Lead Industrial Designer that enticed him to move his family back to Kalamazoo.

"Michigan is home, and as we started our family, it became more important to be around family," said Purrenhage.

Most of his wife's family, as well as his own, live in Southwest Michigan. In addition to having lived in Kalamazoo as a college student he was aware of the many cultural and business opportunities living here offered. Being able to pursue a successful career, Purrenhage was eager to come back to the place where his family could have the best of both worlds.

"Kalamazoo has become a center of excellence in the medical device and life science industries, and a large part of my work is research and design of these products," said Purrenhage.

As design leader of a creative group that develops innovative products at Tekna, Purrenhage strives to solve real customer needs. "I work directly with people to understand their business objectives, the end-user needs, and provide a development strategy," he said.

The creative team applies technical and creative know-how to make concepts into reality. It could be a surgical power tool, sports training equipment, or a toaster, among many other things.

"The beauty of the work here is that it is extremely diverse. I can be leading two projects simultaneously, one literally being brain surgery and the other being a new way to package scented markers," said Purrenhage. "Since people are at the center of everything designed, the process remains very similar."

There are many opportunities and amenities that keep the young Purrenhage family thriving in Kalamazoo. And, once again, the people rank among the highest.

"We have built many valuable personal and professional relationships," said Purrenhage.

His wife works at the Portage YMCA meeting interesting people daily and their three children have settled into Mattawan Consolidated Schools. The family lives in Oshtemo, which makes them central to everything they need to do.

"We enjoy camping, movie nights, going to the park, and eating out at local restaurants," said Purrenhage. "We also finally have cousins close enough for family outings and bike rides."

Traditions for the young family include taking in the lights at Christmas time in Bronson Park, and attending festivals downtown in the summer.

"Kalamazoo is the right size city for my family and me," said Purrenhage.
"It's close to everything, including larger cities. We want to raise our kids in Kalamazoo and put them through college. Southwest Michigan is growing and I plan to grow my family and career here."

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