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posted: 10/1/2012 6:00 AM

Volle's owner turns 90

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  • Volle Halthen

    Volle Halthen

  • John Ratkovich

    John Ratkovich

  • Michael Olesen, owner of Stockholm's in Geneva, presents Tiffany King, right, and Shannon Thompson, both of the Northern Illinois Food Bank, a check to support of Action Hunger Month in September.

    Michael Olesen, owner of Stockholm's in Geneva, presents Tiffany King, right, and Shannon Thompson, both of the Northern Illinois Food Bank, a check to support of Action Hunger Month in September.
    Courtesy of Geneva Chamber of Commerce

  • Ray Ruginis

    Ray Ruginis

  • Carrie Finch

    Carrie Finch

  • Heather Larson

    Heather Larson

  • Dan Kaminski

    Dan Kaminski

  • Stephanie Brown

    Stephanie Brown

  • Carlos Pedroza

    Carlos Pedroza

  • Thomas P. McGuinness

    Thomas P. McGuinness

  • Deanna Killackey

    Deanna Killackey

  • Jennifer Nau

    Jennifer Nau

  • Andrew Parkinson

    Andrew Parkinson

  • Jason Blumberg

    Jason Blumberg


Volle Halthen doesn't like birthdays. Still, that didn't stop about 30 employees from celebrating the 90th birthday of the founder of Volle's Bridal & Boutique in Lake Zurich.

After all, if it wasn't for her initiative and entreneurship, the store wouldn't be in business for about 42 years, selling about 1,200 gowns a year, renting tuxes and doing alterations.

"I've learned one thing," Halthen said. "You have to handle your employees with kindness and understanding and I definitely got that in return."

Halthen was born in Germany in 1922, and her parents later arrived in llis Island when she was still a baby. They first settled in Iowa and rented a one-room apartment. When she was 8, she started baby-sitting, earning 10 cents per child. And she saved every penny. So when her mother wanted to buy an insurance policy one day, but didn't have the money, young Volle pulled out the cash and bought the policy for her, she said.

She continued to work throughout her life and used the money to travel around the world. Later, her family moved to Chicago and Palatine. It was then that she started designing and making gowns for people in Barrington and decided to expand the concept. She held fashion shows here and even in Brazil.

When she was driving her parents home one day, she passed a funeral home in Lake Zurich that had just put up a for-sale sign. She quickly returned and arranged to buy the building with a $750 down payment. Then she immediately overhauled it.

She remodeled the building with a new staircase, added rooms and built an elegant shop to feature bridal gowns and other dresses.

Although her business continued to grow, it was hit by a devastating fire in 1995, which forced her and her staff to long hours to make sure brides and their families received their dresses on time. She also had to rebuild the store, which took about two years. Still, the business moved ahead and she continued to serve a variety of brides, grooms and their families. In later years, her son, Kerry, also joined the company.

She never considered opening more locations.

"One store is enough," she joked. "When you do well, you just stay with it."

Besides, she's seen her share of fashions come and go, and has remained up to date with modern brides.

"You have to treat people right," she said. "There's no two ways about it."

How to make a million

North Barrington resident John Ratkovich, a lawyer and owner of Palatine-based American Home Finance Inc., has published a book, "Teenager's Guide To Becoming A Millionaire," about teaching young people the value of making and saving money. It's available on for $13. He started making money as a kid by buying and reselling used grammar school books.

Discussing innovation

Joe Jou, president of Elgin-based HIWIN Corp., was chosen as one of several presenters to discuss Taiwan's machine tool products during a press event sponsored by the Taiwan External Trade Development Council at IMTS 2012, a global manufacturing technology trade show. HIWIN Corp. is the U.S. subsidiary of Taiwan's HIWIN Technologies.

Helping to feed the needy

Michael Olesen, owner of Stockholm's in Geneva, held a fundraiser that donated 10 percent of sales to Northern Illinois Food Bank, which provided 1,800 meals. Members of the Geneva Chamber of Commerce also volunteered their time at the food bank and provided about 10,808 meals.


Raymond Ruginis of HealthSource Chiropractic and Progressive Rehab marked 30 years as a business in downtown Lisle. ... Carrie Finch is a new case manager at Visiting Angels Living Assistance Services of South Elgin. ... Heather Larson, sales manager with Schaumburg-based Woodfield Chicago Northwest Convention Bureau, has earned the certified meeting professional designation. ... Dan Kaminski, general manager of the Wendy's on Rand Road in Mount Prospect, said the restaurant will celebrate 33 years at that location. He'll be handing out free Junior Frosties to mark customer appreciation on Wednesday, Oct. 3.

Stephanie Brown is an account manager at Oakbrook Terrace-based integrated marketing communications firm David James Group. ... Carlos Pedroza of Palatine is managing partner of the new LongHorn Steakhouse, 1901 E. Golf Road, Schaumburg. ... Elmhurst resident Thomas P. McGuinness has been appointed as president of Oak Brook-based Inland American Real Estate Trust Inc. He joined Inland in 1982 and has held several executive positions there. ... Shelly Encher starts today as business developer, and Valentina Tomov starts Oct. 15 as the new economic development director at the Greater Oak Brook Chamber of Commerce.

Robert Cisneros is the new president of Anthony Roofing Tecta America and Michael Ward was promoted to president of Tecta America Illinois Roofing, both in Aurora and owned by Rosemont-based Tecta America Corp., a commercial roofing contractor, ... Paul Lencioni, great-grandson of founder Nancy Lencioni, is the new president of Blue Goose Market in St. Charles. The supermarket has been operated by the Lencioni family since 1928. ... Chris Lok and Kirk McLaurin, workers at Deerfield-based United Stationers, were honored at the Diversity MBA 100 Under 50 Gala on Sept. 21 at the Chicago Hilton Hotel. Lok and McLaurin were selected from a group of more than 300 candidates from public and privately held companies, as well entrepreneurs and not for profit organizations.

Lombard resident Deanna Killackey has been promoted to senior vice president and Wheaton resident Jennifer Nau to senior account supervisor at Oakbrook Terrace-based JSH&A Public Relations, a consumer marketing public relations agency. ... President and co-Founder Andrew Parkinson will join Palatine Mayor Jim Schwantz when the Peapod Pick-Up site opens Tuesday at 790 W. Northwest Highway, Palatine. Another will open later this year in Deerfield. Shoppers can order groceries online for pickup any day of the week. ... Andy Shaw, former ABC 7 reporter and now president of the Better Government Association will moderate a political business forum at the Lake County Chamber of Commerce 2012 legislative luncheon starting at 11 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 11, at the Midlane Golf Resort, 4555 W. Yorkhouse Road, Wadsworth.

Takashi Nakamura is the new vice president of research and development at Wilmette-based Imbibe, a developer of beverage flavors. ... Jason Blumberg is the new CEO and managing director of the Illinois Science & Energy Innovation Foundation, a newly created $72.5 million effort that will invest in electrical grid and energy innovations to accelerate entrepreneurship and innovation, as well as empower consumers to better utilize the smart grid in Illinois.

Chicago-based Telephone and Data Systems Inc. founder and Chairman emeritus LeRoy T. Carlson, 96, was inducted into Junior Achievement's Chicago Business Hall of Fame last week at the Chicago History Museum. Carlson founded TDS in 1969. In 1983, Carlson founded TDS subsidiary U.S. Cellular, now the seventh-largest wireless carrier in the nation.

• 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 Follow Anna Marie Kukec on LinkedIn and Facebook and as AMKukec on Twitter.

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