Steve Ginsburg of Deerfield never realized what an impact hot chocolate could have -- for him and for tens of thousands of runners nationwide.
Ginsburg, who owns and operates a race production company called RAM Racing in Buffalo Grove, said he used his favorite drink to christen one of the nation's largest races, which started in Chicago and is expected to attract up to 50,000 runners in November.
"Every day I would drink hot chocolate, sometimes twice a day," said Ginsburg, 50. "I didn't realize my favorite drink would turn into a business one day."
Ginsburg was born and raised in Chicago until his family moved to Deerfield. His mother raised the family and worked in his father's medical office. His father, a doctor and now 72, continues to be in good shape and remains an inspiration, he said. That healthy outlook and condition led to Ginsberg's career change.
A certified public accountant, Ginsburg had an established career in the investment banking industry. But with an excessive amount of worldwide travel, which took him to lunch meetings in Australia or short stints in Germany, the Netherlands, Hong Kong and elsewhere, he eventually tired of the job.
He decided to leave behind the banking career and focused on his love of running and sports. He is married and has three children, and he enjoys running, skiing, biking and golfing. He also started distributing sports related items, and buying and selling equipment, which grew into two retail stores. He owns and operates Running Away Multisport stores in Chicago and Deerfield.
The Chicago store got involved with a local Chicago race, the Bucktown 5K, in 2002. It had about 300 participants.
Ginsburg was a casual runner, and knew the importance of having a spot where runners could register and pick up their goody bags and numbered bibs, which they wear during the race.
When the organizer of the race handed over the reins to Ginsburg, he continued to organize it. The next one is Sept. 14. But that race eventually led him to create the Hot Chocolate Race, which has expanded each year and offers a 15K route, about 9.3 miles. He also offers some giveaways, he said, and a tent filled with chocolate treats, including hot chocolate, after the runners finish, he said.
Eventually, word-of-mouth increased the number of participants to about 50,000 runners, making it the sixth largest race in the nation. The next race in Chicago is Nov. 9, Ginsburg said.
"That's when I realized we needed a real race staff," he said. He founded RAM Racing, led by an organizer from the Chicago Marathon, he said.
The Hot Chocolate Race has since expanded to 14 cities nationwide and he's now scouting for host cities internationally.
"I feel responsible for all of these people, the runners, the spectators," he said. "So once the race is over, then that's when I can dip my marshmallow into the chocolate fountain."
Meeting of legends
Rajeev Gautam, president and CEO of UOP Honeywell in Des Plaines, talked with legendary Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin, who in turn met Carbon Dubbs IV and his sister, Joy Dubbs. The Dubbses are great-great grandchildren of Jesse Dubbs, the inventor of modern oil refining and the technology used to establish UOP. They gathered at a company picnic in St. Charles. Gautam has been in China on business recently and is expected to return to Des Plaines this week.
New leaders at Pheasant Run
Rick Remington of Arlington Heights is the new food and beverage director at Pheasant Run Resort & Spa, the 473-room resort and expo center in St. Charles. An at-home chef and certified sommelier, Remington said he enjoys time away from work by photographing wildlife. He is part of a larger initiative to revitalize the property and will be working with new general manager, Charlie Shirk.
Julia Vander Ploeg will start Aug. 25 as the U.S. vice president of digital at Oak Brook-based McDonald's, which said it is accelerating its digital presence to boost business. She reports to McDonald's Global Chief Digital Officer Atif Rafiq. She will work closely with Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of McDonald's USA Deborah Wahl. ... Jeff Turner, owner of In The Neighborhood Meet Market in East Dundee, organized over the weekend an event where farmers traded in their hats and became judges for the Cornified Challenge at the Farmers Market in East Dundee.
Jeff Biegel of Highland Park, owner of Northfield-based Fish Window Cleaning North Shore Chicago, was recognized for top sales at the annual Fish Window Cleaning Convention in St. Louis, Mo. Biegel was recognized for adding about 500 accounts to his customer base in 2013. He also received the Navigator Award for his work with prospective franchisees. Biegel also received the Franchisee of the Year award in 2013.
Babar Ghias is the new vice president of corporate development at Marathon Pharmaceuticals LLC in Northbrook. He was most recently director for Credit Suisse's mergers and acquisitions group in New York. Early in his career, he was an analyst for the Investment Banking Group at UBS Securities in Pakistan. ... Allyson Jacobson, who is board certified in general surgery and is trained in breast surgical oncology, will treat patients at the Northwest Community Healthcare Medical Group office in Arlington Heights.
Joe Pampinella is the new business development director at the DKI, North America disaster restoration contracting organization in Elk Grove Village. ... Northfield-based Kraft Foods Group CEO Tony Vernon, Chief Financial Officer Teri List-Stoll, and Chief Marketing Officer Deanie Elsner will be in Boston on Sept. 3 to present at the Barclays Conference.
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