Bob Conley wasn't much of a motorcycle enthusiast when he was a young man. He admits he loved driving a dune buggy during his honeymoon with his late wife in the 1960s, after he returned from a stint with the Army Corps of Engineers and helped to build the international airport in Vietnam.
When the honeymooners returned home, his cousin introduced him to the Honda Dream 305 motorcycle, and Conley loved it, he said.
"I then bought a 1964 used Honda Dream in 1969 and have loved motorcycles ever since," said Conley, 69.
So it wasn't unusual for him to spend about 42 years, first as a mechanic and then later as a co-owner, at Fox Valley Cycles in Aurora. After he retired in 2010, he retained a smaller ownership with his two partners until recently when the men decided to fully retire and allow the next generation to take over. Bob's son, John, and daughter, Chris Tracy, and partner Jim Cromwell have managed the business since 2010 and are now in a 10-year deal to eventually have full ownership.
A lot happened over those 42 years, Bob Conley said.
He witnessed the business expand to three stores with 35 employees. But as times changed, along with the economy and higher leases, the stores consolidated into one. Also the array of Honda, Kawasaki, Suziki and other brands that were sold were trimmed down to just Honda brands of motorcycles, scooters, ATVs and other motorized equipment, Conley said.
"In the United States, we don't ride motorcycles for basic transportation, it's mostly for recreation," Conley said. "But elsewhere, (overseas), the motorcycle is a basic piece of transportation."
Personally speaking, he and wife Barbara also raised a family in Sugar Grove, where they also housed several foreign exchange students over the years. As the kids grew up and left, the Conleys downsized and returned to Aurora before Barbara passed away in 2000.
"I got all kinds of calls from England, France, New Zealand, Iceland and Japan," Conley said. "They were the foreign exchange students, and their friends, who all came to our house. Our house was like a meeting place for all of them. But to hear from them after all this time really meant something."
In 2009, Bob Conley attended a class reunion and reconnected with a friend, Mary. They eventually started dating and then married about four years ago.
Mary retired recently as an executive assistant at DePaul University and now that Bob Conley is handing over the business, they are thinking about travel. Perhaps they'll reconnect with some of those foreign exchange students who enjoyed their stays with him many years ago, he said.
"We'd like to go to England, yes, we're working on that," he said.
Award winning tech exec
TradeMonster Chief Information Officer Sanjib Sahoo of Naperville won the Constellation SuperNova Award, the top honor in the Matrix Commerce category. The victory is the company's first at the SuperNova Awards. The company was a finalist in three categories last year. Winners were announced as part of Constellation Research's fourth annual Connected Enterprise conference. The Constellation SuperNova Awards honor industry leaders who overcome odds to successfully transform their organizations with innovative technologies. The awards recognize technologists from various industries. We wrote about Sahoo in April, when he talked about living in a remote area in India, where education was a privilege, and then becoming a tech exec at Chicago-based TradeMonster, an online retail options and stock broker.
Zurich IT exec honored
Tom Peach earned a place on Insurance & Technology's Elite 8 for 2014 because of his leadership in effectively managing an information technology network that supports about 10,000 employees nationwide and in Canada for Zurich North American, based in Schaumburg. The magazine annually recognizes the most successful and inspiring IT executives in the insurance industry.
River Forest resident Michelle Durpetti, founder and president of Michelle Durpetti Events and the daughter of Tony and Marion Durpetti who own Gene and Georgetti Restaurant in Chicago, will join the family business full time. Gene and Georgetti was co-founded by Michelle's grandfather, Gene Michelotti in 1941 and it will mark its 75th anniversary in 2016.
John Liacone, founder of the CFO Leadership Group in Lisle, a private networking group of chief financial officers, is marking its fifth year of providing information, education and resources to suburban executives. ... Mary Ann Kenmotsu is the new director of catering & conference services at the Hilton Chicago/Oak Brook Hills Resort & Conference Center in Oak Brook. She will oversee catering sales, event managers, the banquet team and the audio visual department.
Martin "Marty" Koehler of Schaumburg is the new vice president in Assurance's Employee Benefits practice. ... Lake Forest resident Trisha Anderson, credits her 94-year-old mother was the inspiration for her company, Waukegan-based Frontier Soups, which offers 34 soups, stews, chili and chowders. ... Dentist Sonia Gutierrez marks her 20th anniversary as a dentist during a party today at 5:30 p.m. at 106 E. Commerce Drive, Suite 100, Grayslake.
Edward Honesty Jr., president and COO of Best Harvest Bakeries in Woodridge received the 2014 Teamwork Award from Oak Brook-based McDonald's USA during an annual gathering of key McDonald's suppliers and distributors. Best Harvest is one of seven companies under Beavers Holdings. Others include Best Croutons LLC, Best Chicago Meat Co., Best Diamond Plastics, Best Diamond Packaging, Best Packaging Solutions and Beavers Logistics. The retail trademarks are Glenmark Jemm, Moo & Oink and David's kosher.
NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley and the fictional company, Gordon & Taylor, are part of a new ad campaign on Monday Night Football from Vernon Hills-based CDW. ... The Lake Forest home of Nancy L. Hughes, widow of John Hughes, was donated to Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital as a gift toward the development of the new hospital, scheduled to open in 2017. John Hughes was known for Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller's Day Off and the Home Alone films.
Meggan Hill-McQueeney, president and chief operating officer of BraveHearts, said PeakGiving, Peak Construction Corporation's philanthropic arm, worked with BraveHearts Therapeutic Riding & Educational Center along with Darwin Realty & Development Corporation, CommCon of Illinois, Scurto Cement Construction Ltd., and all-American Exterior Solutions with a combined 50 employees helped to build a 20-by-40 shed at BraveHearts' Harvard facility for up to 15 horses.
Richard S. Holson III, chairman, president and CEO of Guarantee Trust Life Insurance Co. in Glenview said the company is undergoing an extensive top-to-bottom makeover of its 80,000-square-foot property and introducing new branding for its products. The renovation and rebranding will create a new style while maintaining the core values of the company's founder, Richard Holson, who started the company in 1936.
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