Business owner left behind Wall Street for Libertyville streets

  • Owner Bill Kaiser cuts the ribbon at Lee Donuts with Mayor Terry Weppler. From left, Bill's wife Francine Kaiser, MainStreet Libertyville Executive Director Pam Hume and GLMV Executive Director Ray Mullen looking on.

    Owner Bill Kaiser cuts the ribbon at Lee Donuts with Mayor Terry Weppler. From left, Bill's wife Francine Kaiser, MainStreet Libertyville Executive Director Pam Hume and GLMV Executive Director Ray Mullen looking on. COURTESY OF LEE DONUTS

  • Bill Kaiser

    Bill Kaiser

  • Jim Ebel, at left, and Jason Ebel

    Jim Ebel, at left, and Jason Ebel

  • Michelle Hand

    Michelle Hand

  • Robert Kernstock

    Robert Kernstock

  • Julie Weldon

    Julie Weldon

  • Carla DeFlorio

    Carla DeFlorio

  • Brian Rener

    Brian Rener

Posted4/14/2014 5:00 AM

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.

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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."

Brothers expand to Arizona

Jim Ebel of North Aurora and Jason Ebel of Geneva, founders of Two Brothers Brewing Co. in Warrenville and Windy City Distribution, along with George Fisher of Cavalier Distributing, said they are launching Cavalier Distributing of Arizona. The partnership is expected to bring some year-round and seasonal brews to Phoenix later this season. Founded in 1999, Windy City Distribution, which the Ebels sold in 2012, grew to become one of the largest craft beer distributor in the Chicago market. They continue to own and operate Two Brothers Brewing Co., which is distributed in seven states.

Starck now in Buffett's house

Andy Starck, longtime CEO of Palatine-based Prudential Starck and other suburban real estate companies, said he hasn't had a chance yet to personally meet financial guru Warren Buffett, but Starck nonetheless re-christened his companies Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Starck Real Estate last week. His company was part of a deal inked last year.


Michelle Hand of Palatine is the new software specialist at Elk Grove Village-based Des Plaines Office Equipment. ... Joan Kaufman, owner of Unique Finds Ltd. and Chicago Feng Sui Ltd. in Naperville, recently spoke with Bill Moller of WGN-AM Radio's Bill Moller Show to talk about design and balance in a space.

Robert Kernstock has been honored as a National Advocacy Champion through the industrywide "We Work for Health" initiative at the PhRMA annual meeting held recently. He was one of 13 individuals recognized nationally. Kernstock, a principal scientist at Astellas' lab in Skokie, began at the company in 2008. He then became involved with Astellas' Science WoRx program where he mentors local high school students, including one to identify potential biomarkers for Alzheimer's disease.

Julie Weldon of Northbrook was selected as executive director of the Incentive Marketing Association in Rosemont. She succeeds Carla R. DeFlorio, who left in mid-February to pursue other opportunities. ... Illinois Tollway Chief Engineer Paul Kovacs in Downers Grove has been named Professional Honoree of the Year by the Chicago Chapter of the March of Dimes Foundation for his contributions to the construction and transportation industries and for his service to the community.

William Hutchinson joins Hoffman Estates-based Sears Holdings as president of Supply Chain. He replaces Raj Penkar, who has led the company's Supply Chain business unit since 2011 and will retire on May 31. ... Sean J. O'Scannlain, president and CEO of Bensenville-based Fortune Fish & Gourmet said his company has completed the acquisition of Chef Martin's Alpine Brand Sausages in Chicago. Chef Martin Wallner, a native of Austria, came to the United States to work at Hilton International and then with Wolfgang Puck.

Jim Bedford, director with West Monroe Partners in Chicago and a Lake Forest resident, received the 2014 Distinguished Pharmacy Alumnus Award based on a nomination by the dean's office at Purdue University's Pharmacy School. ... Karen and Rob Hollis, owners of K. Hollis Jewelers, marked nine years in Batavia. ... Brian J. Crow of Lake in the Hills s a new compliance associate with Thomas Compliance Associates Inc. in Chicago.

Brian Rener of Lake Bluff is a new senior electrical engineer at SmithGroupJJR in Chicago. ... Joyce Sapir of Deerfield has been honored as the 2014 National Runaway Safeline Volunteer of the Year for helping runaway, homeless and at-risk youth and their families.

•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.

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