At the helm of The Parade Company since 2009, Tony Michaels is President & CEO of the iconic Detroit non-profit organization and served on its Board of Directors for over a decade. He leads some of Detroit’s most storied traditions, including the near century-old America’s Thanksgiving Parade presented by Gardner White and the world-class Ford Fireworks, which have both delighted generations of families and resulted in significant economic impact for the region.
He has led major growth of The Parade Company with bringing on Gardner White as presenting sponsor of the parade through 2031, one of the oldest in the nation, and attracting top partners and sponsors of Michigan and global companies. He has expanded the broadcast to 185 television markets in the U.S., and under his leadership, the parade is recognized as the Best Holiday Parade in America by USA TODAY. In addition, The Parade Company produces several other Detroit jewels including the Strategic Staffing Solutions Turkey Trot and Hob Nobble Gobble presented by Ford Motor Company, among other year-round events.
Tony is a distinguished Michigan business leader and has received a multitude of honors for championing initiatives. Most recently, Tony was named 2022 Michiganian of the Year by the Detroit News, received the 2022 Edward H. McNamara Goodfellow of the Year Award and the Spirit of Detroit Award from Detroit City Council.
He is on the Board of Directors for the Detroit Economic Club and Henry Ford Hospital West Bloomfield, and an advisor to non-profit organizations and business and community leaders, including the Community Foundation of Greater Rochester and the Marketing Committee of the Detroit Zoo. He is of counsel to the Woodward Dream Cruise and Brand Advisor to the Detroit Jazz Festival.
Previously, Tony was the CEO of Elias Brothers Restaurants from 1998 to 2000, and held that same position from 2001 to 2008 at the newly formed company, which he worked on developing called Big Boy Restaurants LLC. Tony took over Elias Brothers as the company was headed into financial trouble and successfully structured a deal that allowed for the company’s assets to be purchased under new ownership. This plan resulted in the company experiencing significant growth, including preserving existing jobs and the disciplined creation of new positions that supported the local and national growth of the brand. During this time, a complete rebranding of the company also occurred. Nation’s Restaurant News took notice and named Big Boy Restaurants, LLC as the exclusive winner of the “”Hot Again Concept”” award in 2007. Prior to 1998, he served as Chief Marketing Officer at the company.
Tony is a graduate of Central Michigan University with a degree in Business Administration and Marketing. He and his wife Clarice reside in Rochester Hills and have three grown children.
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