Twenty-two suburban businesses and organizations were recognized Wednesday for being extraordinary in what they do during the 2014 Annual Awards for Business Excellence, sponsored by the Daily Herald Business Ledger.
More than 170 people attended the awards ceremony at Medinah Banquets in Addison to hear the stories of how the companies achieved their individual successes. The annual AABE awards are given to to outstanding suburban companies, businesses and nonprofit organizations for its business achievement, growth and community involvement.
2014 Annual Awards for Business ExcellenceSmall Companies
• Design & Promote, Naperville
• Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard, PC, Waukegan
• Sullivan, Taylor & Gumina PC, Wheaton
• Trade Tec Skyline, Lombard
• LaSalle Network, Chicago
• Transportation Solutions Enterprises, Chicago
Architecture and Construction
• Kluber Architects + Engineers, Batavia
• Lamp, Inc, Elgin
• Leopardo Companies, Hoffman Estates
• Wight & Company, Darien
• Village of Elk Grove
• Medieval Times, Schaumburg
• Tinley Park Convention Center, Tinley Park
• Feldco, Des Plaines
Innovation in Business
• AEC Technology, St. Charles
• Kelmsoft Communications, Aurora
• SimplyFLY, Sugar Grove
• Ergoseal, Inc., Carol Stream
Minority Owned Business
• The Virtual Assistant Group, Naperville
• African American Men of Unity, Aurora
• Bridge Communities, Glen Ellyn
• NAMI of DuPage County, Wheaton
Keynote speaker Tom Gimbel, founder and CEO of LaSalle Network of Chicago, noted the companies honored were able to find the key to make themselves rise above the ordinary.
"When you achieve success like the people in this room have, it's extraordinary efforts," Gimbel said.
And while encouraging the businesses to look at how other companies achieve greatness and see how they can adapt it to their needs, Gimbel stressed that success is not a one-size-fits-all formula.
"Building business excellence and building a great company ... there's absolutely no similarities between what any company does," Gimbel said. "Fact of the matter is, when you're trying to replicate what somebody else has done, you're missing the point.
"We're all unique, and what makes us unique is the people we have that work for us," he added. "When I think about business excellence, to me it's about attracting great people, retaining great people, and then rinse and repeat."
At LaSalle Network, which was honored in the mid-sized company category, Gimbel said he's worked hard to hire people who have the same passion for the job that he has, as well as create a work culture that makes them want to stay with the company.
"I love what I what I do, and I've been very fortunate that I've hired the people who have the passion that love what they do," Gimbel said.
He also stressed that you need to cut people who don't share that passion, as they can hurt the company's culture you worked hard to build.
"When you have people who don't have the passion for what you're doing, they are the biggest cancer that can hurt you business, and they sabotage business excellence," he said.
A number of the honorees shared the theme of equating great employees with great business.
"Our business is helping families through one of the most difficult transitions they will ever face, and having an extraordinary staff makes that possible," said Ray Palmer of Sullivan, Taylor and Gumina PC in Wheaton, which was honored in the small business category.
Ken Buckman, CEO of Trade Tec Skyline of Lombard, which was also honored in the small business category, stressed developing your leaders to their full potential, as well as recognizing the importance of employees believing in a purpose for work.
Doug Cook, president of Feldco in Des Plaines, which was honored in the family business category, added the importance to have your employees feel like family so they can best understand their customers.
"You can't understand other people if you don't understand your own family," he said.
Profiles of all the honorees will be featured in the April 16 edition of the Daily Herald Business Ledger. Sponsors of this year's event are B. Gunther and Co., NIU MBA College of Business, AIA Northeast Illinois, Quad County African American Chamber of Commerce, Small Business Advocacy Council, Construction Industry Service Corporation, AM 560 The Answer, and Valley Industrial Association.