China may be a long way from the suburbs, but it was the perfect connection for Brian Linden.
He grew up in Arlington Heights, Mount Prospect and Algonquin, but now operates a hotel in China and a high-end gallery in Elliston Bay in Door County, Wis. But the Asian connection has been a central thread in his life for decades, since his parents operated an antique shop in Algonquin.
"I've always had an interest in antiques, from dusting off items to cleaning carpets," he joked.
After earning degrees at Elgin Community College and Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago, Linden served as an intern for the State Department and helped those at the Chinese Embassy find housing in the Washington, D.C. area. His connections helped him to get a scholarship at Beijing University where he took an intensive one-year language program. While in Beijing, he was hired full time at CBS and worked as a sound man and assistant producer during the 1980s. His CBS work also gave him the opportunity to have lunch with then U.S. Secretary of State Alexander Haig, dinner with then President George Bush and meet Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping.
During his years in China, he was arrested several times, mostly while touring areas where foreigners often weren't found with a camera and another time while hitchhiking in a truck that was involved in an accident.
Later, he also worked for an educational firm that promoted foreign exchanges and worked with about 75 countries.
By 1996, he and his wife Jeanee left Taipei when they decided to visit his parents in Algonquin. They took a fateful side trip to Door County. There, they found an old prairie-style Lutheran Church for sale that they immediately loved and decided to make a bid. The offer was accepted and the couple transformed the building into Linden Gallery, featuring high-end paintings, antiques, jewelry and Asian objets d'art. Each year, the Lindens traveled back to Asia and returned with several treasures.
Through his gallery, he also met several people, including some academics, interested in traveling to Asia. So he would round up a group and return to China. That's what led him to establish a hotel located southeast of the Himalayas in the Yunnan Providence of China. It provided a place for them and others to stay, he said.
The Linden Centre is now a top-rated hotel for the region and is managed by the former manager of Chicago's Palmer House, he said.
Linden heads back to China next week and likely will return to Door County in May, just in time for the season to start at his gallery.
"We'll have a meeting at the hotel, maybe in October, to see what our next steps should be there," Linden said.
Giving Rahm a run for his money
Donald Cummings, principal of Blue Haven Capital in Geneva, practices what he preaches when he may tell investors to stay for the long haul. He participated in the Tough Mudder, a 10-mile run with 22 obstacles created by a British Special Forces team. The event benefits wounded service members returning from Afghanistan and Iraq. He also participated in the New York City Triathalon and raised funds for the Challenged Athletes Foundation.
Strengthening their brands
Mary Kay Kaufmann, group vice president and chief marketing officer of Naperville-based Nalco; Brian Krause, vice president of marketing and communications at Lisle-based Molex Inc.; David Polston, vice president of brand marketing for Libertyville-based Motorola Mobility are among those speaking at the 2011 Chief Marketing Officer Leadership Forum on Sept. 27 in Chicago.
Will you have enough?
Susan Templeton of Oak Brook and founder and managing partner of Oak Brook-based Stafford Wells Advisors, will be among the speakers at the seminar, "How Much is Enough?" about retirement savings at 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 22, at The Metropolitan Club, 233 S. Wacker Drive, 67th floor, Chicago.
Jim Oberweis, CEO of Aurora-based Oberweis Dairy, will be rubbing elbows with several state senators, representatives and village presidents at the open house at Patten Caterpillar in Elmhurst. The keynote speaker is Cat CEO Doug Oberhelman. More than 600 people are expected to attend. ... Scott Bryson of Vernon Hills has been promoted to executive vice president of Precious Moments Inc., owner and marketer of the Precious Moments Collection and artwork of inspirational artist Samuel J. Butcher. Precious Moments has offices in Carthage, Mo. and Rolling Meadows.
J. Thomas Futrell of Wheaton will be leading a new mutual fund called Performance Trust Municipal Bond Fund at Performance Trust Investment Advisors LLC. John Wilhelm of Woodridge also joined his team. ... Mark Trevor of Downers Grove is Alliant Credit Union's new vice president of commercial lending. ... Gary Longman of Bolingbrook is the chairman of the board at Lake Forest-based EB Financial Group. He succeeds Willard Bunn III.
Timothy J. Monson of Naperville has been hired as managing director/Midwest of AgileThought LLC's new Chicago office. The company is a provider of custom software solutions. ... Greg Brown, CEO of Schaumburg-based Motorola Solutions Inc., and Timothy J. Wiggins, chief financial officer of Naperville-based Tellabs Inc., will be among those speaking at the Citi Technology Conference in New York on Sept. 7-8.
Electrical engineer David Paton has returned to RedFusion Studios in Downers Grove. He previously worked for the company in 2005-2007, but left to join Otto Communications, where he was electrical project engineer. ... Perry Devaney of Batavia and owner of Geneva-based Gibby's Wine Den has received certification as an executive sommelier from Denver, Colo.-based International Wine Guild. ... Ryan Kralka of Sycamore has joined St. Charles-based AlphaGraphics as the director of business development. ... Dentist Mardi Tingzon marks 15 years at Geneva Dental Ltd. in Geneva.
• There's more to business than just the bottom line. We want to tell you about the people that make business work. Send news about people in business to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow me on LinkedIn and Facebook and AMKukec on Twitter.