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A Virtual Cup of Coffee with Mach Makuei '04

Mach Makuei was born in Sudan during the deadly Sudanese civil war. After spending time in a UN refugee camp in Kenya, he and is sister and brother reached the United States. Mach graduated from East in 2004 and from Albion College in 2008. An entrepreneur at heart, today Mach runs Big Lake Movers, a residential and commercial moving company with locations in Grand Rapids, Holland, and Kalamazoo.

You can only have one: Rose’s caramel corn, an ice cream cone from Jersey Junction, or a Yesterdog. Which do you choose?
Jersey Junction for sure! I used to have a crush on one of the servers when I was in high school. She tried to give me her phone number and the owner intercepted the note because she wasn’t allowed to give away her phone number at work...bummer.

What was your path from East Grand Rapids to where you are now in life?
I moved back to the Grand Rapids area after graduating from Albion College with a B.A in International Studies during the Great Recession. I bounced around different odd jobs until I decided to go into business for myself. I started a commercial and residential moving company with $0 and 0 experience (Big Lake Movers).

What specific thing did you learn in East that has enabled you to be successful?
Setting high expectations. I feel like I was expected to succeed every day in the classroom, in sports and in life in general at East. 

What were you like in school?
I was a friend for all! I was extremely social. I was co-captain of the wrestling and cross country teams.

Did you have a favorite teacher or class?
This is the hardest question so far because I had a lot of great teachers. I loved Janet Tombre because she was cool and importantly a great teacher. Her classes were never stressful regardless of the assignment because she’s a great communicator.  

If you had to choose one moment in one location to serve as the signature moment of your East school experience, what would it be?
When I was in high school, the wrestling team managers (girls) gave me the first ever Team Flirt award at a team banquet in front of all the parents! I was somewhat embarrassed but everybody thought it was very funny.

What do you know now that you wish you’d known then?
Nobody’s got it better than East. The community and alumni support is second to none.

Do you stay in touch with many people from East Grand Rapids?
Yes, I stay in touch with friends from East. I play flag football with a couple East graduates every Thanksgiving.

What advice do you have for young East alums who are just starting out?
Don’t forget about Jimmy Gerken’s legacy. Empathy, kindness and a loving heart are essential in every profession. Rest In Peace, Jimmy.

Who else would you like us to have a virtual cup of coffee with?
Amy (Demarest) Sweet, Nick Fisher, Kevin Anderson.

Bonus question: What are you glad we didn’t ask you about?
Politics and why I didn’t play football in high school.