Giving Spotlight: Frank Zanetti

Sitting in an office at his family owned business, Battle Creek Tile & Mosaic Co., Inc., Frank Zanetti smiles as he reminisces. The impact of the business started by his father, Santo, in 1958 is as tangible as the floor coverings that adorn the company’s showroom in Urbandale.

Success hasn’t come solely from sophisticated sales tactics or business strategy. It’s been an illustration of the family’s values — a genuine concern for customers and the community.

Among several organizations with which Battle Creek Tile has developed meaningful relationships, Starr has been special to the Zanetti family for decades.

“A friendship has evolved over time, and I would consider several staff members at Starr as friends,” Zanetti said. “We’ve provided floor coverings through the business to Starr in Albion, Detroit and Van Wert (Ohio), but our family also really believes in what Starr does.”

Zanetti, 60, a lifelong Battle Creek resident and Western Michigan University alumnus, operates the business today with his brother, John, and other members of the family, including Frank’s daughter, Alissa.

But Zanetti’s first experience with Starr came long before continuing the legacy his father left at Battle Creek Tile. He attended St. Philip Catholic Central High School in Battle Creek, where he played junior varsity football and ran track. Zanetti’s teams competed against Starr students from the Albion campus, young people about whom he knew very little.

“There was a stigma surrounding Starr that these were all bad kids,” Zanetti said. “As my exposure to the organization increased, I learned that those kids weren’t much different than we were. Maybe we just had more opportunities. That really gave us a basis on how to help Starr.”

In addition to working with Starr through the family business, Zanetti has interacted with the organization in many ways throughout the years. He served as a youth group director through his church and brought young people to Starr’s Evergreen Building on the Albion campus, where students have the opportunity to participate in adventure education, including ground initiatives and a high-ropes course.

Seeing firsthand some of the activities used by Starr staff in the therapeutic process reaffirmed Zanetti’s passion for supporting the organization.

“Unfortunately our society sees some people as disposable, but Starr does not,” he said. “Starr takes in kids who need an opportunity. They really see that there is value in everyone and direct them to where their talents lie.”

Battle Creek Tile and the Zanetti family have generously provided Starr with significant monetary donations, as well as in-kind services. Friends like the Zanettis make it possible for Starr to continue helping people reach their potential.

“In a humanities class I had at WMU, the professor showed us a quote, ‘All the fruit on the tree doesn’t ripen at the same time,’” Zanetti said. “That quote has stuck with me, and I think that applies to what Starr does on a daily basis. Everyone needs a chance to succeed, and that’s what Starr gives them.”

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