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updated: 4/3/2013 8:03 AM

Nanny firm owner sees Alice, not Mary Poppins, as your best bet

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  • Erin Krex

    Erin Krex

  • Robert Iger

    Robert Iger

  • Bill Kurtis

    Bill Kurtis

  • Ron Kittle

    Ron Kittle

  • Larry Hartwig

    Larry Hartwig

  • Jessica Talbot

    Jessica Talbot

  • Chance Pon, left, and mother Kitty Pon, owner of Pactrans in Addison

    Chance Pon, left, and mother Kitty Pon, owner of Pactrans in Addison


Erin Krex isn't Mary Poppins. And neither are the hundreds of other nannies that she helps train or place in jobs around the suburbs.

Krex, a board member of the International Nanny Association, is president of First Class Care Inc. The Northbrook-based firm is sponsoring the local educational portion of National Nanny Training Day on April 20. The national event helps to train about 2,000 nannies in 40 cities. The local event in Glenview likely will have about 200, Krex said.

"Everybody would love a Mary Poppins, but I just tell people they probably want Alice from the Brady Bunch, someone who can do more than just take care of the kids," Krex said.

Mary Poppins just doesn't exist, but plenty of nannies can do a great job, she said. After all, she found out the hard way.

Soon after her son was born, she and her husband searched for a nanny. They hired someone from a local agency. But the woman didn't have a driver's license, and worse, nearly burned the house down when she left the stove burners on. They also didn't receive any proof of a criminal-background check.

"We found it to be a frustrating and difficult process," she said. "Most of them are illegal and there are some agencies that say they do the screening on their criminal background, but then you may find out they really didn't do any screening at all."

She left behind a graphic design career and started First Class Care in 2006. When it outgrew its Evanston office, the company moved with four employees to an office in Northbrook. It continues to offer nannies, baby sitters, personal assistants and other services.

She has since placed about 4,000 workers in the Chicago and suburban area, mostly with super busy professional couples, including lawyers, doctors and others, she said.

"As a graphic designer, I was mostly sitting at a desk all day and not really interacting with a lot of people and feeling like I was making a difference," she said. "Here, I am making a difference."

Shopping the mall

Garo Kholamian, president of Barrington-based GK Development Inc., a real estate acquisition and development company, said he's snapped up Lakeview Square Mall in Battle Creek, Mich. for $8.8 million. The shopping mall property was in foreclosure. This is the company's first acquisition in Michigan.

Lead florist on hand

Joanne Willing, head designer at the former Angelo Florist's for 20 years, will lead operations since its acquisition last week by Sunset Foods. The store was renamed Sunset Floral Designs and moved into the old site of Romancing the Home, next door to Sunset Food's Lake Forest grocery store. A grand opening is planned for April 17.

Dentists help in DuPage

Dentists Claudio Levato, Sharon Levato, Gilbert Abadilla, and Paul Doodes will provide the first 50 adult patients with a free extraction starting at 8 a.m. on Saturday, June 8 at their practice, Bloomingdale-based Comprehensive Dentistry Ltd., 183 S. Bloomingdale Road, Suite 200. It's part of a free dental care event through Dentistry From The Heart supporting DuPage County residents by providing free dental services to the first 50 people. This is the second event of its kind. Last year, the dentists helped more than 60 adults receive dental care they otherwise would not receive. That came to over $16,000 in free dental care.


Robert A. Iger, chairman & CEO of The Walt Disney Co., leads off The Executives' Club of Chicago luncheon at 11:45 a.m. on April 18 at the Renaissance Schaumburg, 1551 N. Thoreau Drive in Schaumburg. Aylwin Lewis, CEO of Potbelly Sandwich Works, will moderate. ... Veteran TV newsman Bill Kurtis and Six Flags Great America President Charles "Hank" Salemi will kick off the Lake County Chamber of Commerce's 98th annual Awards & Installation Dinner at 6 p.m. on April 17 at the Lake Forest Club, 554 N. Westmoreland Road in Lake Forest.

Former Chicago White Sox left fielder Ron Kittle will discuss lifestyle transformations at 1 p.m. on Wednesday at Adventist GlenOaks Hospital, 701 Winthrop Ave. in Glendale Heights. ... Addison Mayor Larry Hartwig, who is retiring after 30 years of service, will be feted at 4 p.m. on Sunday, April 21, at Medinah Banquets, 550 N. Shriners Drive in Addison.

Jeff Korhan, former owner of Treemendous Landscape Co. in Plainfield that was sold in 2008, has written a book published by New York-based Wiley Publishing. The book, "Built-In Social: Essential Social Marketing Practices for Every Small Business" is expected in April and aims to help small businesses use social media and Internet marketing to help their business growth and marketing. Anderson's Bookshop in Naperville is hosting Korhan for a book signing on April 30. ... Chance Pon, vice president of sales, and his mother Kitty Pon, owner of Pactrans Air & Sea in Bensenville, hosted officials from the Small Business Association recently. They toured the company's facilities since Pactrans received technical assistance from SBA's resource partner, Governor's State University.

Jessica Talbot of Elgin is now the marketing coordinator at Elk Grove Village-based Des Plaines Office Equipment. ... William Yates, a board certified hair restoration surgeon, has opened Dr. Yates Hair Science Group at 230 E. Center Drive in Vernon Hills. It offers various facial and hair restoration services to men and women. ... New employees Dan Rezin and Dave Barton also have become part owners of Savant Capital LLC in Geneva. The ownership group is now up to 18 individuals. ... Tom Kiley, CEO of Great Lakes Advisors LLC, owned by Wintrust Wealth Management Co., has hired Ophelia Barsketis and Steven Wittwer for the Large Cap Value equity group.

Daniel J. Meckstroth, vice president and chief economist of Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity & Innovation, will be the opening day keynote speaker in October for the 2013 Assembly Show at the Rosemont Convention Center in Rosemont. ... Kiera Hynninen has been named senior vice president of marketing and Pamela Smith as its senior vice president of finance, at Oakbrook Terrace-based Redbox, a subsidiary of Coinstar Inc.

Lee Kiser, principal of real estate brokerage firm Kiser Group in Chicago, said his firm has been retained for listings that include a 56-unit building 515-519 S. Milwaukee Ave. in Wheeling, and a 16-unit building with two commercial spots at 15-17 N. Vail Ave. in Arlington Heights. ... John Duntemann has been promoted to senior principal at Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates Inc. in Northbrook. The firm includes structural engineers, architects and materials scientists who specialize in the investigation, analysis, testing, and design of repairs for historic and contemporary structures.

Glenn and Jodie Holmes, owners of FastSigns of Gurnee, and Tom and Deborah Castino, owners of FastSigns of Northbrook, received the Pinnacle Club Award for higher sales volume from the previous year, presented during the FastSigns convention recently held in Dallas.

JoAnn Flynn, vice president and manager of Village Bank and Trust in Park Ridge, was recently elected as a member of the Park Ridge Chamber of Commerce board of directors.

• 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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