Born and raised in Calcutta, India, Mitul Gandhi was part of a family of jewelers. His parents owned a jewelry business and so did many other relatives.
"But I was the black sheep of the family," he joked.
Instead of jewelry, he gravitated toward technology.
Since he was 12 and had his first computer, he was mesmerized. He loved everything about the computer, how it worked, the information, the Internet and, especially, the video games. It didn't matter that it required a modem for a dial-up connection, a dinosaur compared to today's speeds.
Now at 35, Gandhi takes that love of the computer much further. He is co-founder and chief architect of Des Plaines-based SeoClarity, which offers technology and analysis to help small and large companies alike get to the top of search engine lists. SEO means search engine optimization.
He and business partner, Kalpesh Guard of Indian Head Park, founded SeoClarity about nine years ago. They have since boosted the workforce to 50 and have worked with such heavyweights as Home Depot, Orbitz, Safeway, Zappos.com, Toys R Us and Grainger, among others. They hope to increase their client base and double the size of the workforce by next year, he said.
He attributes a lot of personal support to his wife, Nisha, who traveled a lot with him as they raise their two children.
He then pursued his MBA at Rochester Institute of Technology in New York. While a student in 2001, Gandhi founded his first company, an online portal that helped foreign students settle in the United States and find services, credit cards, apartments, and other necessities. He later sold it.
He wanted to learn more about direct marketing and, in 2002, he landed a job at the Brandford Exchange in Niles and stayed about six years.
By 2004, he started consulting on the side.
"I couldn't do justice to both jobs, so I had to make a decision and I decided to jump ship," Gandhi said.
He and his business partner formed Actonia, an Internet marketing agency in Des Plaines. But the recession hit and some key clients went belly up.
"As long as you are consultants, you will be subjected to the changes n the economy," he said. "It was very unstable."
That's when he and his business partner decided to build out some technology, got more clients and moved ahead with a sister company that offers the search engine technology, SeoClarity.
"We make sure your company is on the top of the list during searches," he said. "There's definitely a science behind it."
And he has found his own gem.
A build-out for Habitat
Geneva's Steve McCormick and Dave McCormick of Batavia autographed timbers at a new Fox Valley Habitat for Humanity home in Aurora. The McCormicks, brothers and members of Habitat's board of directors, were among signers celebrating a six-day building blitz by volunteers who framed, roofed and sided a four-bedroom home and detached garage in Aurora. The McCormicks run First Centennial Mortgage Co. in Aurora. The Illinois Realtors Association contributed volunteers and $80,000 for materials for Montgomery-based Habitat's 52nd project in Aurora, North Aurora and Montgomery.
Advocating for chambers
Jim Uszler, former executive director and president of the Mount Prospect Chamber of Commerce and current government affairs consultant for the GOA Regional Business Association, is also president of Huntley-based Business Advocacy Consultants. The firm helps chambers establish, build and maintain a government affairs program. "We position the chamber to be a powerful advocate for business at all levels of government: local, state and federal," he said.
Bruce Heidlauf, owner of Mill Race Cyclery in Geneva, surprised a 100-year-old GreenFields of Geneva resident with a customized adult tricycle last month. The resident had loved to ride, but had not had the opportunity for 50 years. On the small looped course created by Mill Race Cyclery staff, Heidlauf had to run alongside her to keep up, said a spokeswoman for the Geneva Chamber of Commerce.
General Manager Simon A. Fricker of the Le Méridien Chicago -- Oakbrook Center is expected to be joined by Oak Brook Village President Gopal G. Lalmalani and others at the grand opening of the hotel on Thursday, July 31, at 11:30 a.m. The property opens after a $25 million transformation from the former Renaissance Hotel. ... James A. Brucato and Mark E. Augustyn, owners of Bannockburn-based Principle Construction Corp., have hired Paul A. Cohen as a senior project manager.
Ed Howerton, assistant director of the School of Education at Aurora University, has been named assistant to the president for STEM, or Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. He will lead the development of the John C. Dunham STEM Partnership School on the campus. ... Daniel Rodgers became a board member for Arlington Heights-based HandsOn Suburban Chicago. Rodgers was senior vice president and chief information officer for Skokie-based Forsythe Technology until he retired in May.
Joe Trost is the new media relations director for Comcast in Schaumburg. He did internal communications at United Airlines, and public relations for ComEd and Wheatley & Timmons. ... Aaron Wechter of Geneva is the new training coordinator at Johnson Controls Inc.'s Power Solutions. ... Artist Jim Shore has renewed his agreement with Itasca-based Enesco. In 2002, Shore created and Enesco introduced the Heartwood Creek brand with each product reflecting Shore's roots in American and European folk art.
Paula Bodzioch of Glen Ellyn is the new director of education for the Marklund Day School, where she will oversee all education services provided by Marklund and the Life Skills Program in Bloomingdale. ... Kermit Crawford, president of pharmacy, health and wellness at Deerfield-based Walgreen Co., has decided to retire after 31 years in a variety of advancing roles with the company to take on new opportunities. He will continue to serve as a senior counselor to Walgreen President and CEO Greg Wasson.
Lisa M. Nyuli, a partner in the South Elgin law firm of Ariano Hardy Ritt Nyuli Richmond Lytle & Goettel P.C., has been elected treasurer of the Illinois State Bar Association. ... Euro technician Robert Mazgaj has joined the team at Douglas Automotive, which has locations in Barrington and Crystal Lake. He'll be working for owners Douglas and Janet McAllister.
Laura Brown, senior vice president of communications and investor relations at Grainger will be in Minneapolis on Aug. 6 to speak at the CFA Society of Minnesota Conference. Her colleague Court Carruthers, senior vice president and group president of the Americas at Grainger, will speak at the 2nd Annual Morgan Stanley Conference in Dana Point, California on Sept. 16. ... Financial Advisor Brent Kalka has been promoted to partner and vice president at Elgin-based Mueller Financial Services Inc., the financial planning, investment advisory and insurance solutions division of CPA and management consulting firm Mueller.
Neurologist Alexandru Barboi has joined Evanston-based NorthShore University HealthSystem to lead the new Autonomic Laboratory at Glenbrook Hospital in Glenview. He will also serve as the director of the neuromuscular and peripheral neurophysiology program. ... Donna Hall, owner of Hinsdale-based Savvy Interior Design, is among the "15 Best Interior Designers In Chicago" by BuildDirect.com. ... Christine Janikowski is the new optometrist at Advanced Eyecare Clinic in Lake in the Hills.
• 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Anna Marie Kukec on LinkedIn and Facebook and as AMKukec on Twitter.