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posted: 5/28/2012 7:15 AM

Overcomes disability to become award-winning CEO

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  • Michael Alter

      Michael Alter

  • Michael Alter, CEO of SurePayroll, accepts the CEO of the Year Award from the Illinois Technology Association.

      Michael Alter, CEO of SurePayroll, accepts the CEO of the Year Award from the Illinois Technology Association.
    Image courtesy of SurePayroll

  • Greg Brown

      Greg Brown

  • LaGrange Park resident Melanie Furlan, vice president of advancement at the Alexian Brothers Foundation, from left; Hoffman Estates resident Carol Voellinger, senior vice president of TrueCare (one of the sponsors); and Crystal Lake resident Mark Frey, president and CEO of Alexian Brothers Health System.

      LaGrange Park resident Melanie Furlan, vice president of advancement at the Alexian Brothers Foundation, from left; Hoffman Estates resident Carol Voellinger, senior vice president of TrueCare (one of the sponsors); and Crystal Lake resident Mark Frey, president and CEO of Alexian Brothers Health System.
    Image Courtesy of Alexian Brothers Foundation

  • Marisue Fasick

      Marisue Fasick

  • Fred Spitzzeri

      Fred Spitzzeri

  • Tim Stuchl

      Tim Stuchl

  • John Barton

      John Barton

  • Carl Dohn

      Carl Dohn

  • Patricia Rotondo

      Patricia Rotondo

  • Video: SurePayroll CEO talks biz

 
 

As a child, Michael Alter said he was a struggling student, due to dyslexia. His third grade teacher even told his parents that "not every boy will go to Harvard" and "the world needs more garbage men." His parents waited until Alter was in college before they revealed that to him.

Yet with a loving family behind him, Alter overcame his learning disability and earned his bachelor's degree in economics from Northwestern University -- and a MBA from Harvard University. "I had good support from my parents and a good sense of myself and who I am," he said.

Now, he's president and CEO of SurePayroll and recently won CEO of the Year from the Illinois Technology Association's 13th annual CityLights Awards. He's actually been nominated for that award a number of times.

"I'm like the Susan Lucci of the tech world," he joked about the "All My Children" soap star who was nominated several times before finally winning an Emmy.

Alter is co-founder of SurePayroll and has grown the company from a startup with about 10 employees in 2000 to a nationally recognized payroll firm with more than 35,000 small business customers, processing as much as $12 billion in payroll payments annually.

In February 2011, SurePayroll was acquired by another payroll service, Paychex Inc. So the Glencoe resident continues to work in the Glenview office but also travels on business to New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington D.C. Atlanta, San Diego, Boston, Philadelphia, Dallas, Houston, and elsewhere. He was in New York last week speaking at a conference for women entrepreneurs. He wants to encourage others, like his family did for him.

Alter said he learned about entrepreneurship from his family, which had once owned the Harry Alter Co., a heating and air conditioning firm founded in 1929. Earlier in his career, he worked for IBM and at McKinsey and Co., where he was a founder. Then he partnered with three other entrepreneurs to establish SurePayroll.

Unlike most CEOs, who are either sent packing or resign after an acquisition, Alter continues to lead SurePayroll under the new ownership. "As long as I enjoy what I'm doing and continue to be challenged, I'll stay," he said.

Globe trotting for business

Greg Brown, CEO of Schaumburg-based Motorola Solutions, recently returned from a trip to Israel and the United Arab Emirates, traveling with former U.S. secretary of state Condoleezza Rice. They networked with government officials interested in security products made by Solutions. Next week, Brown flies to Washington, D.C. to work with the United States-China Business Council and later as an active member of President Obama's Management Advisory Board.

Expanding business in China

Qian "Ella" Xing joined Volo-basedAtomAMPD as a technical assistant, helping Atom AMPD expand its operations into China. Xing will work on translation, interpretation and as a technical adviser in support of partnership activities in China as well as programing and development projects. AtomAMPD has offices in Miami, Fla.; Fresno and Danville, Calif. that provide networking, security, voice-over Internet and wireless software solutions.

Raising funds for foundation

The Alexian Brothers Ball de Fleur on May 5 raised more than $360,000 for the Alexian Brothers Foundation, headquartered in Arlington Heights. The gala at Chicago's Navy Pier attracted more than 500 guests, including LaGrange Park resident Melanie Furlan, vice president of advancement at the foundation; Hoffman Estates resident Carol Voellinger, senior vice president of TrueCare (one of the sponsors); and Crystal Lake resident Mark Frey, president and CEO of Alexian Brothers Health System.

FastTrack

Palatine resident Marisue Fasick joined Trustmark Companies in Lake Forest as vice president of information technology/enterprise project management office. ... Naperville attorney Fred Spitzzeri has been appointed to the board of the Community Career Center in Naperville. ... Tim Stuchl has joined Schaumburg-based JCF Real Estate as director of construction.

Patrick Shannon is a new director at ML Realty Partners LLC in Itasca. Shannon will oversee the outside brokers who represent the leasing efforts for ML Realty Partners' Midwest properties. ... Libertyville resident John Barton is the new vice president of sales at Receivable Management Services Corp. in Naperville.

MB Real Estate's Senior Vice President Pamela Rose completed a 55,000-square-foot lease transaction on behalf of World Kitchen LLC. The new world headquarters will be relocated to Columbia Centre III in Rosemont. World Kitchen is a housewares company with well-known brands Corelle, Pyrex, CorningWare, Chicago Cutlery, and others.

Lindenhurst resident Tim Wayne, director of sales for the J.M. Smucker Co., has been named Coffee Allied Member of the Year, and Crystal Lake resident Craig Hesch, chief financial officer of A.H. Management Group in Rolling Meadows, has been named Industry Person of the Year by the National Automatic Merchandising Association in Chicago. ... Bryan Emrich is the new vice president of marketing at Old World Industries LLC in Northbrook.

Carl E. Dohn Jr., president of Dohn & Maher Associates insurance agency in Palatine, has been installed as the president of the National Association of Surety Bond Producers, an international trade association in Washington, D.C. serving a membership of firms representing surety agents and brokers.

Plainfield resident Vu Chan is the new collegiate sales manager at Club Colors, a Schaumburg company specializing in distribution of promotional products and branded apparel. ... Patricia Rotondo has been promoted to associate principal at VOA Associates Inc., a global architectural design firm in Chicago.

•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 akukec@dailyherald.com. Follow Anna Marie Kukec on LinkedIn and Facebook and as AMKukec on Twitter.

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