It's an Army-themed life for CEO of Grunt Style in Carol Stream

 
 
Updated 4/13/2015 8:07 AM
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  • Grunt Style founder and owner Daniel Alarik.

    Grunt Style founder and owner Daniel Alarik. COURTESY OF GRUNT STYLE

  • Daniel Alarik in his office.

    Daniel Alarik in his office. COURTESY OF GRUNT STYLE

  • Amy Derick

    Amy Derick

  • U.S. Rep. Robert Dold, 10th District, looks at some cables during a visit last week at Fox Lake-based Bruin Brake Cables.

    U.S. Rep. Robert Dold, 10th District, looks at some cables during a visit last week at Fox Lake-based Bruin Brake Cables. COURTESY OF BRUIN BRAKE CABLES

  • Mark Krause

    Mark Krause

  • Charles Talbot

    Charles Talbot

  • Hanspeter Ueltschi

    Hanspeter Ueltschi

  • Tricia Boyer

    Tricia Boyer

Daniel Alarik of Elk Grove Village lives and breathes the Army. The Army veteran even founded Carol Stream-based Grunt Style LLC, which sells clothing and gear with military and patriotic themes.

He also has hired mostly veterans and ensures designs and products are appropriate for veterans and those who just want to honor them.

"We have a very military like culture," said Alarik, 32, Grunt Style's CEO. "It's even structured like an infantry line unit."

Grunt Style has two platoons, one is Maneuvers that includes marketing, sales and design. The other is Support by Fire that includes production and fulfillment.

"I needed something that we could scale easily," he said.

And scale it has. The company has moved four times in the last two years because of growth. It moved into a 50,000-square-foot building last November and he hopes it will hold the company for a while. But it recently launched daily workouts on the website and plans to expand its gear line, so he may need to hire more troops soon.

Even as a kid growing up, Alarik said he was always focused on the Army. After graduating from Barrington High School, he enlisted in the Army in 2000.

When Sept. 11, 2001, happened, he received a call a week later from the sergeant major, telling him to get ready for deployment. He had been deployed to the Balkans for about a year and Kosovo for another year.

Along the way, he earned several medals and honors, including Army Commendation Medal 3rd Award, Army Achievement Medal 6th Award, National Defense Service Medal, Kosovo Campaign Medal, and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, among others.

By 2004, he was discharged from active duty and became a personal trainer while serving in the reserves. But he soon jumped back in, becoming a drill sergeant at Fort Benning in Georgia and later served in the National Guard.

By 2009, he began thinking of what he'd do outside of the military. He also was married and had a baby son, so he wanted to think of how to provide for their future. He thought about how patriotic he was and how wanted to do something that would show pride in one self. He also wanted to include fitness and his comrades.

"How do I take that army culture back to Chicago?" he had thought.

That's when he started a small online T-shirt business. It was Grunt Style and it didn't provide him a paycheck until 2012. By 2013, he added more fitness clothing and 2014 with more gear, he said.

He now employees 85 people, including 67 veterans. His wife, Elizabeth, is the chief financial officer.

"I had zero training going into this, so I read a lot about business and realized there are more similarities with the military," he said.

Besides developing and expanding his business, he is also supportive of other veterans and their families. He is on the board of Active Heroes and has raised funds for Battle in Distress, Stolen Valor and Running with a Cause.

"I would not have it any other way," he said. "I get to work with people I absolutely love and I am very patriotic and very proud."

More distinguished service

Amy Derick has been awarded the 2015 Distinguished Service Award for Early Achievement by the Medical & Biological Sciences Alumni Association of the University of Chicago. Since 2006, she has had a private dermatology practice called Derick Dermatology LLC and has expanded to Barrington and Crystal Lake and Elgin. In 2011, she received the Distinguished Graduate Award from Fremd High School for her achievements in medicine.

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•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 akukec@dailyherald.com. Follow Anna Marie Kukec on LinkedIn and Facebook and as AMKukec on Twitter.

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