Interview with David Nemmers, Mackinac Center Supporter

In this issue, we hear from David Nemmers, president, CEO and owner of Midstate Security Company, pictured above with his family.

Not everyone thinks of owning a business as an opportunity to positively impact other people, but David Nemmers is one of those people. After working at more than half a dozen companies in his career, Nemmers bought Midstate Security Company in 2007. He says that while he can’t create beautiful paintings or sculptures, he can create jobs. “[It’s] my favorite aspect of this business.”

Born to a World War II veteran and a woman he describes as Rosie the Riveter, Nemmers learned about the value of a job early on, when his father, a journeyman electrician with a ninth-grade education, lost his. Unable to find local work, and with five children to feed – “I was number four,” says Nemmers, “They called me the bonus baby. … Then number five came and he was the extra bonus baby!” – his father bought a one-way ticket to Alaska to work on a pipeline. When he returned months later, he found more local jobs, but the episode taught his son about taking risks and responsibility.

Lessons from his childhood served Nemmers well in the tumultuous economic years shortly after he first took ownership of Midstate Security. In 2009, the business struggled, and his salaried workers had to take five furlough days. By Christmas, though, business had picked back up. “It was an opportunity to pay them back,” he says. “It was the first thing I wanted to do.” He was able to repay the furlough time and add a Christmas bonus, an experience he calls “one of the highlights of my life.”

Nemmers supports the Mackinac Center because it “espouses many of the same values that help me do what I love to do (impact people in a positive way and create jobs) through strong public policy, less regulation and lower taxes.” And Nemmers' business is proof that such policies work: “When Gov. Snyder reduced the double taxation on thousands of state businesses, it was a $60,000 impact to our company. Many criticized the governor for this ‘favor’ to business, but at Midstate Security we created two more jobs. With that additional money and a strong economy, we have almost doubled our workforce in the last eight years.”

Married for 31 years, Nemmers and his wife Susan have two grown daughters: Their oldest is a cancer survivor who works in health care while the youngest works in television in Traverse City. They were empty nesters for only nine months when they ended up with bonus children of their own through tragic circumstances, adopting two nieces and a nephew after they were orphaned. The oldest niece earned a degree from the University of Michigan and moved to work at the Fort Worth Texas Zoo. Their nephew is in college and their youngest niece is still in high school. All told, Nemmers says, “my wife and I have spent 18 years in high school!”

Nemmers believes his story would only be possible in America. “I live in the greatest country in the world,” he says, adding that he wouldn’t have been able to fulfill his dream of becoming a business owner anywhere else. “No Ivy League MBA – actually, no MBA, just a college degree.” But the unique spirit of Michigan is important to him, too: “Even in a diverse state, there is a ‘let’s figure it out’ attitude. Even in the tough times, we as a state overcame, and that is because of the people here. Just a tough bunch of individuals.”