40 Under 40 – Alex Riley

One of three co-founders of MeritHall, Alex also serves as the Chairman of the Board for Detroit Training Center and the President of the Xi Alumni Association. Alex and his business partners, many of whom are Zetes themselves, have built their businesses from the ground up and now serve the Metro Detroit area and surrounding regions/states. In 2015, Merit Hall Staffing ranked 165 on Inc 500’s list of fastest growing privately held companies.

“MeritHall, Detroit Training Center, and Ringo Services provide a livelihood for hundreds of people in the community. We value execution above experience and education and as a result have given our employees career opportunities that they likely would not have had elsewhere. My greatest achievement has been creating an environment of competency, capacity, and culture, allowing people from all backgrounds to thrive.”

Alex’s undergraduate experience as a Zete has continued to impact his life in multiple avenues well beyond his college years:

“I was introduced to Zeta Psi before I had even attended my first class at Michigan. Two of my friends brought me to 719 Packard – the Xi Chapter’s Senior House – during Welcome Week, and within a few days the fraternity’s Recruitment Chair, brought me to the Xi Chapter’s House for an official rush event. Before coming to college I had never thought of joining a fraternity but as I got to know the Brothers it became clear that the organization was a cultural fit.

Before I finished pledging I made it a goal to contribute as much as I could to the Chapter. In my first semester as a Brother I attended every event and participated in both the social and rush committees. In my second semester I was elected Recruitment Chairman and in my third I was elected Chapter President. That same weekend I met Sarah Barjum at a Zeta Psi party – we got married in Roatan, Honduras nearly 8 years later with many Xi Zetes in attendance.

Three days after my graduation in 2011, Paul Kaser (Xi ‘10) and I started MeritHall with support from fellow Zetes Andy Balan (Xi ‘10) and Jason Hollingsworth (Xi ‘10). We have successfully launched two other business ventures – Detroit Training Center and Ringo Services – and employ hundreds of people between the three.

In addition to this I have served as the President of the Xi Alumni Association since 2013 and am a member of the Young Entrepreneurs Council (YEC) and Entrepreneurs Organization (EO). My participation in Zeta Psi has been a positive influence on many aspects of my life, and I believe that the lessons I learned as an Active Brother were instrumental in shaping me into the person I am today. ”

Alex also holds roles in other leadership roles in Detroit based companies but continues his role as President of the Xi Alumni Association and mentoring the active Xi Chapter members.

Alex has been selected to Crain’s “20 in Their 20s” list (2013) and “Young Entrepreneur of the Year” (2015).

Read more about Alex and his various projects here:

  • https://icic.org/4th-fastest-growing-inner-city-business-merithall-detroit/
  • https://www.inc.com/elaine-godfrey/2015-inc5000-the-6-fastest-growing-private-companies-in-detroit.html
  • https://www.crainsdetroit.com/article/20130428/AWARDS20/304289994/alex-riley-25
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