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updated: 6/27/2013 12:28 PM

Book shows the highs and lows of Carpentersville's business district

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  • OTTO Engineering spent millions restoring 10 W. Main St., above, one brick at a time. The restoration involved cleaning the bricks and salvaging bricks from another building that was scheduled for demolition and restoring the original turret that had been removed, above.  At left is the building as shown in "The Historic Business District of Carpentersville" before the family that owns OTTO renovated the three-story structure. The building has been standing since the 1800s and was in disrepair when the Roeser family bought it in 2005. During the restoration, 240 Dumpsters of junk were removed, according to the book.

      OTTO Engineering spent millions restoring 10 W. Main St., above, one brick at a time. The restoration involved cleaning the bricks and salvaging bricks from another building that was scheduled for demolition and restoring the original turret that had been removed, above. At left is the building as shown in "The Historic Business District of Carpentersville" before the family that owns OTTO renovated the three-story structure. The building has been standing since the 1800s and was in disrepair when the Roeser family bought it in 2005. During the restoration, 240 Dumpsters of junk were removed, according to the book.
    Courtesy of Phil Aleo

  • Sleepy Hollow resident Phil Aleo, a Carpentersville native, has written a photographic book called "The Historic Business District of Carpentersville." which primarily focuses on the history of the buildings that now house OTTO Engineering. Aleo, who owns his own publishing company, spent nearly two years doing research on his latest book.

       Sleepy Hollow resident Phil Aleo, a Carpentersville native, has written a photographic book called "The Historic Business District of Carpentersville." which primarily focuses on the history of the buildings that now house OTTO Engineering. Aleo, who owns his own publishing company, spent nearly two years doing research on his latest book.
    Christopher Hankins | Staff Photographer, 2011

  • OTTO Engineering's building at 10 W. Main St., as shown in "The Historic Business District of Carpentersville" before the family that owns OTTO renovated the three-story structure. The building has been standing since the 1800s and was in serious disrepair when the Roeser family bought it in 2005. During the restoration, 240 Dumpsters of junk were removed, according to the book.

      OTTO Engineering's building at 10 W. Main St., as shown in "The Historic Business District of Carpentersville" before the family that owns OTTO renovated the three-story structure. The building has been standing since the 1800s and was in serious disrepair when the Roeser family bought it in 2005. During the restoration, 240 Dumpsters of junk were removed, according to the book.
    Courtesy of Phil Aleo

  • "The Historic Business District of Carpentersville" is available on Amazon.com, at aleopublications.com and at several retail outlets in Elgin, Carpentersville and the Dundees.

       "The Historic Business District of Carpentersville" is available on Amazon.com, at aleopublications.com and at several retail outlets in Elgin, Carpentersville and the Dundees.
    Christopher Hankins | Staff Photographer

  • In this undated photograph, workers from the Illinois Iron & Bolt Company stand in front of the company's machine shop on Main Street. The company's workweek was 10 hours a day and six days a week.

      In this undated photograph, workers from the Illinois Iron & Bolt Company stand in front of the company's machine shop on Main Street. The company's workweek was 10 hours a day and six days a week.
    Courtesy of Phil Aleo

  • Tom Roeser, CEO of OTTO Engineering, in his Carpentersville company.

       Tom Roeser, CEO of OTTO Engineering, in his Carpentersville company.
    John Starks | Staff Photographer, 2011

  • OTTO Engineering is housed in buildings that are more than 100 years old.

       OTTO Engineering is housed in buildings that are more than 100 years old.
    Christopher Hankins | Staff Photographer, 2011

 
 

Phil Aleo's passion for history is contagious.

Aleo, 57, of Sleepy Hollow, has penned a new book called "The Historic Business District of Carpentersville," a photographic history of the buildings that once housed Illinois Iron & Bolt Company, Star Manufacturing Company and that OTTO Engineering occupies today.

The book of 210 pages pays homage to Julius Angelo Carpenter, the founder of Carpentersville who built its business district, managed the Illinois Iron & Bolt Company, and founded Star Manufacturing Company.

Carpenter, an entrepreneur who had other businesses in town, remodeled IIBC in 1868, expanded the company by constructing new buildings and got the company to manufacture pumps, locomotive jacks, lawn vases and other iron products.

Later on in 1873, Carpenter founded Star Manufacturing, which made agricultural equipment. IIBC and Star Manufacturing later merged in 1912.

The book, which Aleo published through his company Aleo Publications, also details the restoration OTTO recently completed on its Carpentersville headquarters -- it's housed inside buildings that are more than 100 years old.

His sources for the book were the Dundee Township Historical Society, OTTO President and Chief Executive Officer Tom Roeser, public records and the Carpenter family's personal journals.

His book project started in 2011 by approaching Tom Roeser with the idea of writing a book that, in part, celebrates the company's contributions to downtown Carpentersville.

"He's done so much good for our communities; he's really changed the face," Aleo said.

In 1968, Jack Roeser, owner of OTTO Engineering, moved his company headquarters to Carpentersville from Morton Grove. Tom Roeser is his son.

The family-owned business in Carpentersville makes two-way radio accessories, joysticks, operator controls and control switches. It's a $100 million company and the largest employer in the village, with more than 500 workers.

OTTO's business comes from the military, aerospace, public safety, industrial and hospitality worlds. Some of its biggest clients are Motorola, Boeing and John Deere.

Several years ago, the business underwent a renovation that cost millions of dollars. As part of the project, the Roesers fixed the roofs, cleaned the buildings' outer bricks and redid the floors.

The buildings were previously run down with overgrown weeds, abandoned property, old train rails and a swamp -- the renovations were completed in 2011. Aleo included photos from those days so people never forget how bad things looked.

"OTTO has done such a remarkable job," Aleo said. "These buildings would have been torn down and demolished if OTTO hadn't come in."

Aleo, a Carpentersville native now living in Sleepy Hollow, sees a correlation between Carpenter and the Roesers because they all took a chance on Carpentersville and made it a better place to live and work.

While Tom Roeser views himself more as a manager than a pioneer, he's proud of the book and everything it represents.

"Phil has really done a good thing here," Tom Roeser said. "It's good for the town, it's good for my employees who always want to know more about what's here. Personally, I think this area was the stigma of Carpentersville and now that it's turned into that beautiful thing, the stigma of Carpentersville is gone. And I think the citizens here feel their team is finally winning. And he has celebrated that in his book."

The book is dedicated to the residents of Carpentersville -- past and present.

Meanwhile, Aleo has several events lined up to promote his book. He's scheduled a slideshow presentation for 1 p.m. July 19 at Sun City, 12980 Meadow View Court in Huntley. He will also be presenting at Heritage Fest in West Dundee inside the corner booth at Washington and Second streets.

The book is available at Main Street Bikes in Carpentersville, State Street Market in Elgin, the East Dundee Visitors Center and the Dundee Township Historical Society. You can also buy it on amazon.com, at www.aleopublications.com by calling Aleo Publications at (847) 507-8311. The book is $49.99, but residents will receive a $10 discount if they call Aleo Publications. You can also reach Aleo or by emailing him at paleo@aleopublications.com.

• Lenore Adkins covers Algonquin, Huntley, Carpentersville, the Dundees, Sleepy Hollow, Hampshire, Grafton Township, Cary and Fox River Grove. To reach her, send an email to ladkins@dailyherald.com or call (847) 608-2725.

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