Entrepreneur of year files for Michigan governor run

Jonathan Oosting, Detroit News Lansing Bureau

Lansing — Ann Arbor businessman Shri Thanedar is considering a run for Michigan governor, according to a filing with the state that could add a new wrinkle to the early race for the Democratic nomination in 2018.

Shri Thanedar

Thanedar, former CEO of Avomeen Analytical Services, was named 2016 Entrepreneur of the Year by multinational finance giant Ernst and Young and made local headlines in December for giving his employees a collective $1.5 million in holiday bonuses.

The India native submitted paperwork to the Michigan Secretary of State’s Office on April 5 that would allow him to raise funds for a gubernatorial campaign, but he has not yet announced any formal plans to seek the post.

Thanedar could not be reached Thursday, and the designated record keeper listed in his campaign finance filing said “we have no comment at this time.”

If he runs, Thanedar would join a growing Democratic field that includes former state Sen. Gretchen Whitmer, former Detroit health director Abdul El-Sayed and former Xerox executive Bill Cobbs. U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Flint Township, is also considering a run for governor.

Shri Thanedar meets Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton.

On the Republican side, Attorney General Bill Schuette and Lt. Gov. Brian Calley are contemplating bids. Announced GOP candidates include Jim Hines, an obstetrician-gynecologist in Saginaw and president of the Christian Medical & Dental Associations.

Gov. Rick Snyder cannot seek re-election in 2018 under Michigan’s term-limits law. The race to replace him is shaping up to be a “toss-up” between Democrats and Republicans, according to initial “crystal ball” ratings released Thursday by the University of Virginia Center for Politics.

Thanedar made and lost a fortune in Missouri before moving to Michigan and finding new success. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported he bought and built up a chemical analysis firm there, eventually purchasing a Ferrari and constructing a 13,000-square-foot mansion.

But the Great Recession and financial industry crash hit his company and acquisitions hard, reportedly prompting a lender to take him to court, where a bankruptcy judge appointed a receiver to sell the business.

Thanedar founded Avomeen in 2010 in Ann Arbor, where his son had attended college at the University of Michigan. By 2015, it was pulling in $8.5 million a year in revenue, according to an Inc. Magazine ranking of the country’s fastest-growing private companies.

Thanedar sold a majority share in the company in December to High Street Capital of Chicago. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Michigan native Mark Havrill took over as CEO of Avomeen in March, but High Street said Thanedar would remain on the company’s board of directors.

Michigan’s 2018 primary election, set for Aug. 7, is more than 15 months away.