Twenty-three suburban-based companies and business organizations were honored for their achievements Wednesday during the Daily Herald Business Ledger's 25th Annual Awards for Business Excellence.
About 200 people cheered the honorees as they told their success stories during a reception at Medinah Banquets in Addison. The Annual Awards for Business Excellence recognizes a business or organization's achievement, growth and community involvement. The honorees were selected by the Business Ledger editorial staff from a number of nominations submitted by the suburban business community.
2015 Annual Awards for Business Excellence honoreesSmall Companies
• American Combustion Service Inc., Mokena
• American Vending Sales, Elk Grove Village
• JJR Marketing, Naperville
• Red Caffeine Marketing & Technology, Lombard
• Nuestro Queso, Rosemont
• Raging Waves Waterpark, Yorkville
• SWC Technology Partners, Oak Brook
Business Association / Economic Development
• Schaumburg Business Association, Schaumburg
Educational Institution / Entity or Program
• Symbol Training Institute, Addison
Entertainment / Hospitality
• Jazz Perspectives, Aurora
• Glen Prairie, Glen Ellyn
• Alliance Disaster Kleenup, Wheeling
• Bales Mold Service Inc. Downers Grove
Innovation in Business
• Hodgson Consulting & Solutions, Buffalo Grove
• Wheaton Park District, Wheaton
• Belden Universal, Broadview
Minority Owned Business
• Cruz Investments & Wealth Management, Aurora
• Solutions Cleaning Services, Roselle
Notable Not-for-Profit Organizations
• Achieving Independence and Mobility Center, Downers Grove
• Freedom Golf Association, Burr Ridge
• HOPE Fair Housing Center, West Chicago
• Kids Matter, Naperville
• Divine Consign, Oak Park
This year's honorees represent 11 categories of competition.
Keynote speaker William Carroll, president of Benedictine University in Lisle, applauded the honorees for their success, but noted that this achievement was "only one stop in your journey to your destination." Citing a number of points that he said "aren't taught in business school," Carroll noted a business' success is dependent on the leader conveying a clear vision of where the company is going to all employees.
"If you can't sell your vision to those you work with, then all you have is a hallucination," Carroll said.
Successful business leaders must be able to listen "with their ears so their heart understands what's going on," he said, as well as be able "cross the threshold" to resolve conflicts with employees at every level. Above all, he said, employees should have fun while they work.
"When you play together, you learn about traits that you don't get when you work together," Carroll said. "If you can't play together, you're going to fumble terribly when you work together."
That theme of teamwork and employee engagement was echoed by the honorees as they accepted their awards. Many attributed their staff's work to their company's success.
"It's all about our employees," said Frank Lacny, president and founder of American Combustion Service Inc. in Mokena. "I wouldn't be here today if it weren't for them"
Dan Mulka of Raging Waves Waterpark in Yorkville noted his job was "making sure our 550 employees are having fun.
"If they aren't having fun, then our guests aren't having fun," Mulka said.
Stacey Bales, president of Bales Surface Solutions in Downers Grove, added the importance of having your employees engaged in the business' mission.
"Transparency is key," Bales said. "If you want to see other generations and other team members stand out, give them the wings to fly and they will succeed."
All of the honorees will be profiled in a special pullout section in the April 13 issue of the Daily Herald Business Ledger.
Focus Capital Advisors, Northern Illinois University MBA Program and B. Gunther & Co. were presenting sponsors for the awards. Leader board Tournament Systems was a corporate sponsor, and marketing partners include the Valley Industrial Association, the Construction Industries Service Corporation, the Quad County African American Chamber of Commerce and the Small Business Advocacy Council.