Paul Spiewak ~ 1927-2014
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By Eileen O. Daday
Daily Herald correspondent
The co-founder of an iconic company in the Northwest suburbs, Century Tile & Supply Company, has died.
Paul Spiewak, who joined his friend, Frank Parks Sr. in 1947 to start the business, passed away Dec. 24. The longtime Mount Prospect resident was 86.
Together, the two friends grew the business from a little store on Austin Avenue in Chicago to operating as many as 12 locations in Chicago and the suburbs.
Dorothy Spiewak said her husband and his friend took the idea for the company after helping to lay tile in Parks' father's home.
"After they finished putting the tile in his kitchen, they decided it was so easy that they should start a business," Dorothy Spiewak said. "They started by selling plastic tile."
Originally, their Austin Avenue store catered to builders and contractors, but once they moved it to the suburbs, they reached out to draw commercial business as well.
Spiewak and Parks chose Mount Prospect for their first expansion site because of its community, said Kathy Boyle, Spiewak's daughter and vice president of the company.
"They were looking for a place to live, and raise their growing families," Boyle said. "Mount Prospect was a growing community, with schools within walking distance."
Plus, it had a hardware store up for sale at Central and Rand roads. Consequently, they purchased the building and built it out to become the second Century Tile location.
Suburban locations now include Bolingbrook, Itasca, Joliet, Lombard, Matteson, Mundelein, Naperville, Woodstock, as well as Mount Prospect, with three locations in Chicago.
As their locations expanded, so did their inventory. Century Tile sells ceramic tile, carpet, wood, vinyl, laminate, marble and stone, as well as all the necessary setting materials, and can provide installation services.
Builders and contractors still make up 50 percent of their business, with commercial business now even and making up the other 50 percent, family members added.
"They grew the business slowly," Boyle says. "Both my father and Frank grew up during the Great Depression and they based their business philosophy on that experience. They worked hard and didn't spend money they didn't have."
She adds that they also built the company on relationships, building loyalty with customers and tradesmen both.
The company celebrated 66 years of business in business in October, and both men's children and grandchildren are now involved. Currently, it is one of the largest floor covering retailers and distributors in the Midwest.
Besides Spiewak's wife and daughter, he is survived by his children Paul (Mary) Spiewak, Debra (Ronald) Beyer and Phillip (Dawn) Spiewak; as well as 11 grandchildren and seven great grandchildren.
Services have been held.