Former Bulls Cartwright takes work ethic behind the scenes

Former Chicago Bulls center Bill Cartwright is known for sharing the court with another Bulls legend, Michael Jordan, during their winning seasons in the 1990s, or his stints as a coach.

Lake Forest resident Cartwright retired as a player following the 1994-95 NBA season, having collected three NBA championship rings and tours with New York Knicks, the Chicago Bulls, and the Seattle SuperSonics. He returned to the Bulls in 1997 as a member of the coaching staff. He then served as interim and head coach of the Bulls 2001-03 and ended his coaching career this past season after stints in New Jersey and Phoenix.

Cartwright, now 55, takes his work ethic behind the scenes now as chairman of Park Ridge-based CartwrightDownes Inc., a private investigations firm that does investigative work and background checks for companies. The company was founded in 1980 but taken over by the Cartwright family about six years ago, he said.

“Our niche is in the nuclear industry, but we're looking to expand,” he said.

The firm includes his wife Sheri Cartwright, who is the CEO, and Sandy Downes, the president. Also on staff are his sons Justin, Jason and James Cartwright.

Being in business with his family reminds him of his younger days, growing up in the Sacramento, Calif., area where he lived on a ranch and everyone pitched in with chores.

“Whether it was picking tomatoes or sugar beets, we all worked together,” he said. “When I was a kid, it was fun. We were all out there and willing to work.”

He credits his parents with his strong work ethic and his six sisters with his values on sharing.

“They were very positive people and I was fortunate to have them,” he said.

Now he's back in business with his own family and aiming to expand the investigative firm beyond its work with the nuclear industry. He'd like to expand further in the educational, financial and medical areas. Staffing ranges from 15 to 26, depending on the projects, and he expects to add more by next year.

The company aims to protect reputations of companies and their executives and to provide background investigations on potential employees. CartwrightDownes uses the latest technology and databases to take its clients beyond a simple screening of an employee or potential board member, he said.

So would he be open to working with any of his former sports colleagues again in some capacity, such as investors?

“No,” he joked. “Unless they want to work as investigators.”

No longer on hold

President David Hearld of Hinsdale-based Profit-Tell International said his company was acquired by Tampa, Fla.-based Spectrio, a provider of audio- and video-based marketing solutions. Profit-Tell, which does those on-hold messages, will lay off two of its three employees. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Law firm a family affair

Henry Phillip Gruss of Park Ridge founded the law firm, Henry Phillip Gruss Ltd. as a sole practitioner in 1994. In 2007, Gena Gruss Romagnoli joined her father at the firm to represent injured persons and their families in medical malpractice, motor vehicle collision, premises liability and other personal injury matters. Last January, Henry's daughter-in-law, Kristin M. Gruss, joined the team. And, not only do the lawyers work side-by-side, they're also neighbors in Park Ridge. Kristin and Gena live right next door to each other. They even tapped Henry as a part-time employee.

Georgio's marks 10 years

Brian Coli, owner of Georgio's Pizza in Crystal Lake and South Barrington, marks the 10th anniversary of his business on Nov. 5. It is named after his father and their shared middle name, George.


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Ÿ 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 Follow Anna Marie Kukec on LinkedIn and Facebook and as AMKukec on Twitter.

Michael Jordan (No. 23) and Bill Cartwright (No. 24) of the Chicago Bulls talk on the court against the Boston Celtics during a game played in 1990 at the Boston Garden in Boston, Mass. File photo by Dick Raphael/NBAE via Getty Images
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