Project manager recalls Moto's construction days

  • James Rohleder

    James Rohleder

  • Nurse Pauline Kuebler accepts the honor by Illinois Coalition of Community Blood Centers. Standing behind her are, from left, Bo Duong, LifeSource director of mobile recruitment; Howard Knaizer, LifeSource account manager; Margaret Vaughn, government affairs director, Illinois Coalition of Community Blood Centers; Chad Douglas, LifeSource executive director of blood operations.

    Nurse Pauline Kuebler accepts the honor by Illinois Coalition of Community Blood Centers. Standing behind her are, from left, Bo Duong, LifeSource director of mobile recruitment; Howard Knaizer, LifeSource account manager; Margaret Vaughn, government affairs director, Illinois Coalition of Community Blood Centers; Chad Douglas, LifeSource executive director of blood operations. COURTESY OF LIFESOURCE

  • Lori Fedyk

    Lori Fedyk

Updated 9/8/2014 5:11 AM

Jim Rohleder, owner of McHenry-based J.A. Rohleder & Associates Inc., has been the contracted project manager for such major players as Baxter International, DHL, Cabot Microelectronics and Grainger. That's his so-called second act.

In 1988, he joined then named Motorola Inc. as a staff project manager and later became director of facilities, engineering and construction during the heyday when Motorola built campus after campus around the suburbs.


Now those campuses are either empty in Harvard, sold in Libertyville, or home to another company in Arlington Heights.

Rohleder remembered those fast-paced days, when no sooner was he finished leading the construction of Motorola's Arlington Heights campus, a bigger campus was planned for Libertyville. Cellphones were feeding that construction frenzy and cellphones were hot sellers worldwide with no end in sight. Motorola worked furiously to keep up with construction and hiring more workers, he said.

"No sooner was the budget approved and appropriated, construction was started," Rohleder said of the Libertyville campus. "Everything was fast at that time."

He was able to have designs approved for the buildings, contracts were awarded, and work began at a fast clip. The Libertyville campus was finished in about 16 months, he said. Then he started on Harvard. Each campus was bigger than the last, with more than 1 million square feet in Harvard, he said.

"This company knew the cellular business would grow like crazy and the next 10 years was just bonkers," he said.

He also was tapped to lead projects to build facilities in Brazil and Germany, also fast-paced projects that kept up with the overseas marketplaces.

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"As busy as we were, the days and months would go by fairly fast," he said. "There was never enough time in the day to do all the work. We assembled a good team. Everyone had their job and everyone had their function and it succeeded."

But the bottom fell out around 2001. The tech bubble burst. And Motorola's bleeding bottom line forced wave after wave of thousands of layoff. Those once magnificent campuses soon were vacant.

"It was heartbreaking," he said. "To build something as beautiful as Harvard and not see it used. All of us pretty much felt depressed from that standpoint. That we performed in such a way to build those facilities as fast as we did, and then to see them empty and the workforce drop off was just heartbreaking."

Rohleder said he left Motorola in 2001 and soon started his own project management business in McHenry.

Years after his Motorola days, Motorola Inc. was split into two publicly traded companies, Motorola Solutions in Schaumburg and Motorola Mobility, which consolidated for a time in Libertyville but then moved its headquarters to downtown Chicago.


He felt uplifted when he heard that the Libertyville campus was sold and a technology campus is planned, while the Arlington Heights campus houses Nokia Solutions and Networks.

"That's many new businesses that will come in and that's business for others. I'm glad it was purchased, unlike Harvard, which is gathering dust."

Nurse honored for coordinating blood drives

Nurse Pauline Kuebler has been honored as the 2014 Most Dedicated Coordinator Blood Drive Coordinator, according to Rosemont-based Illinois Coalition of Community Blood Center. For 24 years, the Arlington Heights native has coordinated blood drives on behalf of her employer for Chicagoland blood supplier, LifeSource. The award presentation was timed with Kuebler's 50th employee blood drive since joining the Railroad Retirement Board as an occupational health nurse in 1990. Also, Illinois State Sen. Matt Murphy, a Palatine Republican, presented Kuebler with a congratulatory certificate from the Illinois Senate and a copy of House Resolution 1251 introduced by State Rep. David Harris, an Arlington Heights Republican, honoring her achievements.

Hearing help for residents

Ronna Fisher, audiologist and founder of Hearing Health Center, has negotiated to buy 100 sets of excess inventory hearing aids, that are new but unsold, from their manufacturers for about $150,000. The center offers the devices to local patients who can't afford them and don't qualify for financing. The aids are part of a Sept. 20 Hike 4 Better Hearing event with Naperville area residents walking to raise funds for The Fisher Foundation for Hearing Health Care. Hearing Health Center has offices in Oak Brook, Naperville, Highland Park and Chicago.


Lori Fedyk is the new chief financial officer and vice president of finance at Lutheran Life Communities in Arlington Heights. She will lead financial strategies and solutions for the system of senior living communities that has grown from Lutheran Home in Arlington Heights to six properties in Illinois, Indiana and Florida. ... Frank McClatchey, owner of ProFix in McHenry, has started Computers for the Community, a project intended to enhance both the environment and area residents' futures. McClatchey said he will wipe hard drives clean and refurbish donated computers for distribution to those in need.

Ann Laake, a doctor of infectious diseases and internal medicine; Tobby Mathew, an internal medicine physician; and Radha Chirumamilla, a hospitalist, have joined DuPage Medical Group, a multi-specialty physician group in Naperville. ... Neurosurgeon Patrick A. Sugrue and neurologist Tomi Ashaye joined Northwestern Medicine's Lake Forest Hospital. ... Dentists Melissa Ledwidge and Irene Nosrati opened their new dental office, Dental Care of South Elgin, a new full-service, state-of-the-art family dental practice.

Timothy P. Walbert, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Deerfield-based Horizon Pharma Inc., will give an overview of the company during a program at the Morgan Stanley Global Healthcare Unplugged Conference today in New York. ... Nicki Anderson, president and CEO of the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce, along with some staff members attended the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives Annual Convention in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Deerfield-based agent, Kathleen O'Connell of Frosch Travel in Deerfield was selected for her expertise in affordable travel, part of a list of top 133 advisers by expertise selected by Travel + Leisure publication. ... Steve Besbeas is the owner of the newly opened Chatterbox of Long Grove on Old McHenry Road. ... Jessica Wielondek opened In Motion Dance in downtown Long Grove. ... Steve Scogna, CEO of Northwest Community Healthcare in Arlington Heights, plans to meet local seniors during a Q&A about the health care system at 9:30 a.m. on Sept. 16 at the NCH Auditorium.

•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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