People around the world are celebrating Valentine’s Day with gifts of candy – including popular treats created on machines designed and assembled by Grand Rapids Community College graduates Bob Cisler and Mike Sherd.
Start at GRCC and go anywhere. Every former student has a story to tell about how GRCC gave them the education and opportunity to be successful.
Cisler and Sherd, along with fellow GRCC grad Tom Jasper, run Egan Food Technologies in Walker. They design and create customized machinery that makes confections, baked goods and snack foods. Clients include Hershey and Atkins, and products created by their equipment includes the Reese’s peanut butter hearts, Atkins protein bars, and the big cookies in Jimmy John’s sandwich shops.
Cisler earned an Associate of Science degree from what was then Grand Rapids Junior College in 1972, with Jasper earning an Associate of Arts degree three years later. Sherd earned his Associate of Arts from GRCC in 1995.
The company designs and manufactures customized chocolate molding, depositing and extruding equipment that forms products like candy bars, chocolate candies with fillings, and cookie dough.
“I graduated from Union High in 1970 and wasn’t sure what I wanted to do,” Cisler said. “A counselor asked me what I liked, and I was good at math and science. He told me I’d make a good engineer.”
Cisler graduated from the University of Michigan two years later. He said the GRJC classes were more affordable, and he appreciated the smaller class sizes.
“The one thing I liked about engineering is that you can do so many different things with the degree,” Cisler said. “I thought it was valuable. It was a tough degree to get, but once you have that, you have something they just don’t hand out to everyone. I didn’t know exactly what I was going to do with it, but it was a great start. GRJC provided great value and solid academics.”
Sherd, a Kenowa Hills High School graduate, studied at GRCC before finishing at Grand Valley State University.
“GRCC gave me a good foundation,” he said. “The cost was a huge factor, and it allowed me to live at home.”
Sherd planned to be a math teacher. He determined he could take statics and dynamics engineering and advanced physics at GRCC, fulfilling prerequisite classes and taking advantage of the more affordable tuition. He later switched to engineering and transferred to GVSU.
He credits professors Jarrod Johnson and Jeff Stone for being especially helpful on his educational journey.
Cisler started at a Grand Rapids company called Werner Lehara that began in 1904 as the Dutch Cookie Machine Co. and in the 1980s created pretzel-making equipment and chocolate molds. He and Sherd formed a partnership with Jasper to form Egan Food Technologies in 2010.
From their 60,000-square-foot shop on Walker Court NW, they design and assemble machines for clients large and small nationwide.
And, they look at candy a little different than others with a sweet tooth.
“I look at how they did it,” Cisler said. “I look at the sheen and to see if the center filling is leaking out the sides.”
So, when you give your true love some chocolates today, look at it closely before taking a bite, recognize the craftmanship that went into creating it – and know that GRCC might have played a role.
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