Business owner left behind Wall Street for Libertyville streets
Bill Kaiser said he was once known as the Mini Wolf of Wall Street.
He was a broker for 36 years, owning William S. Kaiser Corp. since 1978, which then morphed into Zap Futures Inc. when he introduced electronic trading in 1994. He had 24 brokers and 12 support staff and even did live 5-minute reports daily for CNBC while at the Mercantile Exchange.
"It was the Wild West of the industry back then," Kaiser said. "The whole industry was dealing with high-end, high-profile people, some real characters. It was just a fun industry."
Now, the 64-year-old has left behind that industry for two completely different businesses he considers just as fun. He owns Pampered Pup'z, which offers day care, grooming and boarding for dogs, and Lee Donuts, which sells freshly baked doughnuts, ice cream and other treats. Both are in Libertyville.
So why did he leave a Wall Street industry for a couple of neighborhood shops frequented by families? Because he could.
"They made me an offer I couldn't refuse," Kaiser said about how he and a partner sold Zap Futures in 2004 to R.J. O'Brien & Associates LLC. "After 36 years in futures industry, it was just time."
He said he was having "too much fun" but decided to retire. Yet that didn't last long.
"I sat around the pool for a few months, but got bored with that," he said.
That's when he started Pampered Pup'z, at 1068 E. Park Ave.,
and now employs 18 people. Then earlier this year, he bought Lee Donuts, at 124 Peterson Road, which has 7 employees.
"They seemed like fun businesses," he said.
Just recently, he sat in a booth in Lee Donuts and watched some families come in with their kids. They all sat in booths and played with some low-tech toys, like an Etch-a-Sketch and other games.
"They're playing with this old-fashioned stuff, having fun, and I'm smiling," he said. "I'm having a good time just watching them. That's my motivation."
Kaiser views his latest career move as the third phase in his life. The first, he said was just growing up. The next was going straight into the futures market and being a broker. Now, it's just catering to families and smiling. He and his wife, Francine, live in unincorporated Countryside Lake near Mundelein and they have three children and are awaiting their second grandchild.
"I don't really miss the futures industry," he said. "And I wouldn't change anything in my life."
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