Craig Nielsen of Grayslake, his brother Matt Nielsen of Lake Bluff and their sister Beth Nielsen of Mundelein are leading a 100-year-old Waukegan company to the sweeter smell of success with plans to expand.
This third generation has broken ground at Nielsen-Massey Vanillas to add a testing and demonstration kitchen, an extra 24,000 square feet for manufacturing and warehouse space, and another 4,800 square feet of office space. The construction is expected to be finished later this year. Then, the family might focus on its other facility in Leeuwarden, the Netherlands.
Nielsen-Massey has produced a line of vanilla flavorings for generations of cooks both in restaurants and in the home. It has tapped vanilla beans and extracts from Madagascar, Tahiti, Indonesia, Uganda, India, New Guinea, and Mexico and more recently introduced a line of flavors that include almond and lemon. The products can be found in gourmet food shops and grocery stores.
The company started in 1907 in Sterling and later moved to Chicago, then Lake Forest and finally to Waukegan. The company has about 20 workers and plans to add more by later this year, Craig said.
But it's been grueling work for the siblings, keeping up with tastes and traveling the globe. Craig is CEO, while Matt is chief operations officer and Beth is chief culinary officer.
"We all enjoy working together and we live near each other," said Craig Nielsen. "But we also get some breaks from each other, like when we go on vacations with our own families."
While each joined the company upon coming of age, the siblings are now looking toward the next generation, Craig said.
"It's still early to tell," he said of his own kids. "We weren't forced into the family business by our father, so we won't force them. It should be natural."
After all, flavors like vanilla are comforting. That's something that will likely continue for future generations. And with a tough economy nudging more people to cook at home, Craig is confident the company will continue for years to come.
"The food industry is insulated from the economy," he said. "We all have to eat. If people are happy, they'll eat ice cream and chocolate. But if they're depressed, they likely eat twice as much."
Give me your irons, your woods and your tired wedges
Everett J. Lockenvitz of Oak Brook has joined the staff of Wheaton-based Cantigny Golf Academy. He will serve as master club fitter and master club builder. He previously owned EJL Custom Golf Clubs Inc. for about 15 years and was featured in Golf Digest as one of the Top 100 Club Fitters.
Fitness boot camps R us
Tami Haukendahl of Arlington Heights is the owner and founder of Arlington Heights-based Hauk Fitness. She participated in the Women Fitness Business Owners Mastermind Group that recently met in Louisville, Ky. She's one of 14 women who belong to the group, which formed in June. By the way, the tagline for her business is "Train Like A Trooper boot camps."
Asia specialist now in Roselle
Rob Mueller of Schaumburg has been named president of RIM Logistics LLC, a Roselle-based national and international logistics provider, not to be mistaken for Research in Motion's Blackberry. He's worked in Hong Kong, both for RIM as director of Asia development and for Fritz Companies as sales manager focusing on Hong Kong, South China and the Philippines.
Neil J. Greene of Buffalo Grove has been appointed to the Bolingbrook Hospital Foundation board of directors. Greene is an attorney in private practice in Lincolnshire. He has worked with Adventist Midwest Health for about six years working with patients whose health insurers have denied reimbursement of their medical charges. ... Cindy Lichterman of Crystal Lake now is offering counseling services in Arbor Counseling Center's Crystal Lake office. She is a licensed clinical professional counselor.
Mike Murrill of Hinsdale has been appointed vice president and chief financial officer of Adventist Bolingbrook Hospital. He was finance manager for Adventist LaGrange Memorial Hospital. He replaces Todd Anderson, who left to become chief financial officer of Grandview Medical Center and Southview Medical Center, part of Dayton, Ohio-based Kettering Health Network. ... Louis Cairo has been appointed sales engineer at Addison-based Schreder Lighting US. Before joining Schreder, he was a sales engineer for Melrose Park-based Power Plant Services and senior technician for Argonne National Laboratory near Darien.
William G. Dempsey, who lives in the North suburbs, has been elected to Lake Forest-based Hospira Inc.'s board of directors. He has spent more than 20 years at Libertyville Township-based Abbott Laboratories, including as executive vice president of global pharmaceuticals until he retired in 2007. Hospira is a spinoff of Abbott. ... Jade Burroughs has been hired as associate director of branding for Park Ridge-based Big Ten.
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