Glendale Heights business owners rebuild home after fire
Gary Blaski, co-owner of the Allegra Marketing Print and Mail franchise in Glendale Heights, saw his beloved home in Bartlett go up in flames in a matter of minutes. Twenty-five years of memories, comfort and security suddenly filled with smoke after he tried to repair a frozen pipe in the basement.
Luckily, no one was hurt. And total reconstruction of the home is expected to begin next month.
But it was that fated day in January that has since made his heart sink.
His wife, Cindy, and co-owner of their printing and marketing business, saw water in the basement. A pipe had frozen and burst and Gary told her he would fix it. All their relatives had since left after their holiday stays and it was just the two of them.
The next day when Cindy went grocery shopping, Gary started soldering the pipe. After a few attempts, it just wouldn't work. Then Gary had slipped and the torch flew out of his hand. The paper backing of the insulation caught fire. He reached for a hose to turn on the water, but the flames went quickly and shot up to the attic.
"It was a terrifying moment," Gary said. "I just couldn't stop," as fire rolled up the wall.
He called 911 and the fire department arrived. Just then, Cindy was returning from the grocery store and noticed all the emergency vehicles and realized it was for her home.
The first-responders found the family cat, which had some smoke inhalation but was later fine.
The estimated damage to the home and related costs were roughly $500,000, he said.
"It was surreal," Gary said. "There was so much going through my mind at the time."
Some of his thoughts centered on how to retrieve what they could from the home, such as scooping up photos or other items floating in the water. He powered up his PC and discovered his files and data were OK. They logged 1,300 lost items due to the fire and now plan to rebuild their home on the same site, he said.
His other thoughts centered on how to keep his small business going at the same time.
"It's not a 9-to-5 job and it's always on my mind," Gary said. "I was trying to see how we could balance this and what will happen with the house. It was very overwhelming."
Many neighbors, church friends and business colleagues in the community also offered to help in various ways, he said.
The couple juggled the business responsibilities, and handled matters related to the recovery or rebuilding of the home.
"It's been overwhelming to see the amount of support that we have had," he said. "It's been unbelievable. Just overwhelming."
Working on behalf of their kids
Nicole Gross of Naperville and Margaret Storey of Evanston received the Hero Award for Inspirational Commitment from the Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Chicago. Both are parents of children with epilepsy who were seeking relief for their children's seizures through the use of medical marijuana. They were instrumental in the passing of Illinois legislation to add epilepsy and other seizure disorders to the list of conditions that medical marijuana may be used to treat.
Sandra Pinter and Sharon Schneider, sisters and moms who each live in Mount Prospect, founded the used kids clothing website, MoxieJean.com. It recently expanded to include maternity clothes. ... Candase Stewart is a new real estate broker at Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Lombard. ... Chris Samberg of Carpentersville is the new technology consultant at Des Plaines Office Equipment in Elk Grove Village.
Paul Kovacs of Naperville and chief engineer for Downers Grove-based Illinois Tollway was named Person of the Year by the Illinois Asphalt Pavement Association for his contributions to the advancement of the asphalt industry. Kovacs was honored at the association's annual meeting in Springfield last week.
Jeffrey Peterson of Palatine was promoted to senior director of finance and transaction administration for The Marcus Corporation in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He is the former vice president of operations for Marcus Hotels & Resorts. ... Jim McNally of Huntley is the new senior transportation project manager for Baxter & Woodman Inc. in Crystal Lake. ... Keith Kretschmar, a doctor in Fox River Grove, has received board certification in neurofeedback
Jim Haskins of Barrington has been elected to the Junior Achievement Area board of directors. He is the executive vice president of Allstate Brand Distribution. ... Austin Dempsey, vice president of BEI Properties in Batavia, has been named to the Castle Bank community board of directors.
Jill Foucré founded Marcel's Culinary Experience in Glen Ellyn in September 2011. Foucré named the business after her French chef/restaurateur grandfather. She now will be the keynote speaker for Fox Valley SCORE's Small Business Forum on March 31 at Northern Illinois University's Naperville campus, 1120 E. Diehl Road. The event runs from 1 to 5 p.m.
Israel Vasquez, chairman and CEO of WHAM Inc. in Park Ridge, said they have incorporated SEGOT Technologies Inc. as a wholly-owned mobile communication subsidiary. The companies aim to soon launch their consumer and small business product called the SEGOT smartphone app. ... Adam Mitchell of Glenview has been promoted to senior managing director at Savillis Studley, a global commercial real estate services firm in Chicago.
• 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 email@example.com. Follow Anna Marie Kukec on LinkedIn and Facebook and as AMKukec on Twitter.