Mike Marks of Naperville was watching a Chicago Bears game when his wife asked him to hang a picture on the wall. Like most sports fans, he was torn between watching his favorite team versus doing a household task. The task won. It took him about 40 minutes to hang the picture, but it was crooked, and he left it that way when he went to bed that night.
"I got up at 2 a.m. and had the idea on how I can do it better," he said.
And that's how he invented the Hang It Perfect device about five years ago. The device looks like a horizontal ruler with three rulers hanging vertically and it aims to help you hang a picture, shelf or art work in about 2 minutes by accurately aligning, leveling and hanging it.
About the time of the invention, he decided to close his homebuilding company in Oswego, which he had for about 15 years before the recession hit.
He's now president of Naperville-based Innovative Tools Inc. and the Hang It Perfect device is sold at Home Depot in Chicago and Naperville, Ace Hardware in Geneva and Downers Grove, as well as on Amazon.com, Ebay.com, The Shopping Channel and other shopping sites, with more deals on the way. It is also sold in Canada, Australia, and South Africa, he said.
"We are on track to triple last year's numbers," he said.
He attended a hardware trade show in 2011, where the product was immediately picked up by Home Depot. The company executives flew him to the headquarters in Atlanta, Ga., and offered the product a spot on their website. It went into some stores last January.
Now, the Hang It Perfect is leading to the development of other household products.
"I'm always thinking about how things work and how to make it better or to change it," he said.
Still, he finds time to work in his wife's business, Henczel's Barber Shop in downtown Naperville, which has been in her family for five generations.
While he keeps busy at Henczel's and Innovative Tools, he has learned that his inventions could also impact his do-it-yourself lifestyle.
"I've been in the shadows now. I'm now becoming obsolete," he joked.
Menu a la farmers market
General Manager Dennis Antoniello and Chef George Garcia of Wickets Bar & Grill in Streets of Woodfield in Schaumburg said they will be working the Schaumburg Farmer's Market regulars, Nichols Farm & Orchard, to create a three-course menu each week. The menus will include an appetizer, salad and entree that also can be ordered a la carte for both lunch and dinner.
Tour de water
Mike Franzen, vice president of operations for Grundfos, said Illinois state representatives Stephanie Kifowit, a Democrat from Aurora; Tom Morrison, a Republican from Palatine; and Ron Sandack, a Republican from Downers Grove, visited Grundfos' campus in Aurora and toured the global pump manufacturer's water utility center, a warehouse and manufacturing facility devoted to the production, service and distribution of technology for the municipal wastewater market.
Franchise owners get 'best pick'
Husband and wife David and Kristen Berryhill own Rolling Meadows-based Archadeck of Chicagoland, a franchise that designs and builds outdoor living spaces since 2004. It has received the 2013 "Best Pick" rating from EBSCO Research, on top of other honors. The showroom features a number of design elements used in actual projects.
Jeffrey Fischer and Patrick Kiefer have each been promoted to executive vice president and shareholder at NAI Hiffman in Oakbrook Terrace. Fischer joined the firm's industrial services group in 2009 and Kiefer join the office services group in 2008. ... Christopher J. Ott of Sugar Grove is the new project engineer at Engineering Enterprises Inc. in Sugar Grove.
Des Plaines Office Equipment had a visit from the newly-named Senior Vice President of Sharp Imaging and Information Co. Laura Blackmer along with DPOE President Chip Miceli and Vice President Vic Miceli, far right. DPOE is a member of the Sharp Dealer Advisory Council, and had a chance to showcase its new Sharp Video Board, a new interactive technology that has touch-screen convenience. Also included were Craig Van Ark, director of dealer development at Sharp and Joe Gucwa, senior regional sales manager.
Sharon Behles has joined the McKay Group at the St. Charles office of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage. ... David Hinrichsen is the new vice president of sales and marketing at Naperville-based Napersoft, a software provider. ... Zocalo Group President and CEO Paul M. Rand of Kenilworth said the marketing agency has launched its new website at ZocaloGroup.com.
Steve Letnich has been appointed chief commercial officer and Ron Knopp is now vice president of operations after serving in the interim role since February at A.M. Castle & Co. in Oak Brook. ... Jason Mallon is the general manager of the new Shoe Carnival at Shops at South Elgin in South Elgin. ... Boris Elisman, president and chief executive officer of Acco Brands Corp., a provider of branded office products in Lake Zurich, said the company was honored by the Made in the USA Foundation with a Hall of Fame Award at a ceremony in Santa Monica, Calif. The company was recognized in the office products category for manufacturing paper clips in the United States.
Jeanne Rogers recently completed a 127,800-square-foot lease renewal for DHL Mail Forwarding in Des Plaines on behalf of Arthur J. Rogers & Co. in Elk Grove Village. Rogers also represented DHL in a 459,000-square-foot lease renewal at the firm's cargo shipping operation in Franklin Park. ... Joe Maguire, project manager for J.C. Anderson Inc. in Elmhurst is heading the 20,000-square-foot office build-out for UBS Financial Services at One North Wacker in Chicago.
Surgical oncologist Ciarán Bradley joined DuPage Medical Group, a multi-specialty physician group in Downers Grove. ... Internal medicine physicians Eladio A. Vargas and Leonardo Vargas have joined Northwestern Memorial Physicians Group and will move their office into the new Northwestern Medicine Glenview Outpatient Center in Glenview. Both physicians have joined the medical staff of Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital. ... Wendy Bartlett is the new mortgage servicing manager and Gene Seliger was named director of collections for Consumers Credit Union in Waukegan.
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