Michael Soviak announced his project to refurbish all 20 flag poles at Hart Plaza, install solar lighting and hoist 20 American flags by Memorial Day 2014 during a fundraiser in November. Photo courtesy of Michael Soviak
December 19, 2013Remember this name — Michael Soviak.
The 20-year-old Grosse Pointe Woods man plans to be on Michigan's gubernatorial ballot, date unknown. He is confident in his plans even though he is not in the political arena and has no name recognition Soviak points to Gov. Rick Snyder who was pretty much an unknown until he began running television spots.
Soviak has a history of overcoming obstacles to achieve his goals. He has prevailed over bad grades, a weight problem and started a business at the age of 16 that thrives today.
His mother, Connie Soviak, describes him as persistent, a trait that has rewarded him.
Soviak, a 2011 Grosse Pointe North High School graduate, will earn a bachelor's degree in political science from University of Detroit - Mercy in 2014 and attend law school to be one step closer to the governor's chair. And he will continue his flag business.
With his mother as his partner, and a seasoned part-time crew of six, Soviak sells and maintains either 5-by-8-feet or 15-by-25-feet nylon American, state and custom flags and flag poles in the tri-county area.
Connie Soviak said when her youngest of three sons began the business, Revolution Flag Group, she thought it was just a whim.
Starting with single clients and then securing Wayne County, Grosse Pointe Woods and the Grosse Pointe Public School System as clients, as well as banks and a health system, Connie Soviak was pleasantly surprised at the burgeoning business.
His next project is to refurbish the 20 flag poles in Hart Plaza, install solar lighting and see 20 American flags permanently on display.
"For 13 years there have been no flags," he said of Hart Plaza's empty flag poles. "You can see it (the plaza) from downtown. The size of the poles can be seen from the riverfront. This will help bring Hart Plaza back with big color and patriotism. It won't solve any major problems in the city, but it will help the heart start to beat again. The flag doesn't reflect political views, just freedom for all of us."
The unveiling is scheduled Memorial Day 2014.
During his sophomore year at North, Soviak said he wanted to start a business.
"I thought about landscaping but there wasn't much opportunity," he said. "I saw some tattered flags."
His mother continues the narrative. "I thought OK this is a whim when he came to me. Michael didn't give up. This was something a mother and son can do. I'm amazed. I thought we'd be doing this for a few months."
This seemed to be a pattern for Soviak — an idea takes root and he takes off not letting go until the goal is achieved. And it began with self image.
She said he had always struggled with a weight problem, even before he enrolled in school.
The lack of self confidence due to his weight coupled with bad grades, Soviak said he didn't have a bright future.
"I didn't do bad in elementary school," he said. But, he said, people were surprised he passed middle school and was to enter high school with less than a 1. GPA.
"My freshman year I was 261 pounds and 14 years old. I was very overweight. One day the doctor sat me down. He told me how serious my weight was," he said.
The doctor pointed out Soviak was more prone to heart disease and diabetes and wouldn't live very long. "I was gaining 20 pounds every year. I weighed more than I should be," he said. "It took a couple days. I realized I had to change. I didn't see a future for myself. I gave up drinking pop. I stopped eating fast food and started working out. I ran around the block. I exercised at home. The hardest part was changing my diet. I didn't know what to eat. Mom helped with what I should eat.
"I saw the weight drop off and (was) energized. I didn't get sick as much. I went back to school my sophomore year. The other students didn't recognize me. It was a big change. I had more confidence."
Then he focused on his grades. The end of his sophomore year he had a 3.8 GPA and was 150 pounds. Next was to establish a business. Traveling around the area, Soviak wondered why tattered flags hadn't been replaced. From that question, the Revolution Flag Group was born.
Another part of Soviak's confidence is the way he dresses. Every day, except when doing flag maintenance, Soviak puts on a suit, selecting one of 12 suits in his closet, a no wrinkle Donald Trump shirt with medium starch and one of 30 ties.
"I have to dress up because you don't know what opportunity might come up," he said. Soviak said he began with selling single flags to customers; gaining confidence, he began taking on larger accounts. He said he only buys American-made flags, poles and lighting. Most recently, he installed a flag pole at the house of Sen. Bert Johnson D-Highland Park, and like all his accounts, the nylon flag will be replaced in three months.
"Nylon flies nicer. They fly the best," Connie Soviak said.
While Revolution Flag Group is a for profit business, Soviak said he is giving back to the community by supporting the Wounded Warrior Project, a support program for injured soldiers and their families.
Whether Soviak is giving back to the community, running a business or attending classes, he has a goal in mind — to be Michigan's governor.