Elk Grove co-owner advocates for businesses in Springfield, D.C.
Victor Miceli, vice president of Des Plaines Office Equipment, has worked since he was a youngster at the company his father founded 60 years ago. From sweeping the floors to executive positions to co-owner, Miceli knows what it takes to keep a family business viable in today's competitive market.
But you won't always find him behind the counter or in the office at their stores in Elk Grove Village, Loves Park or Chicago. He may be in Springfield or Washington, D.C., advocating for small business owners.
"We need to get small businesses to unite and have a voice," said Miceli of Inverness. "Sure we could all sit and yell at the TV or read a newspaper and say, 'We can't believe they're doing this to us.'"
Miceli, 55, and his brother, Chip Miceli, 67, of Palatine, have owned and operated Des Plaines Office Equipment since their father, Vince Miceli, retired in 1986. Since then, Vic has focused on selling and Chip on strategic planning. The company has two divisions, one selling scanners, printers, faxes and other office machines, while the other division offers IT services that manage offices.
Miceli is one of the early members of the Small Business Advocacy Council, which lobbies in Springfield on behalf of small businesses. A few weeks ago, he and other members talked with Gov. Rauner about new legislation that would allow small businesses to do crowd funding to raise up to $1 million on the Internet.
"All the other states around Illinois have this, but we don't," he said.
He'd also like to see the fees for companies that form limited liability corporations, or LLCs, do so with smaller fees. He said Illinois charges $500, while Wisconsin charges $25 to establish LLCs, he said.
"We are out of line with fees on businesses here," Miceli said. "That's why business leave our state."
Miceli also belongs to the National Small Business Association, and often meets with legislators in Washington, D.C. on issues that affect small businesses, including extra costs associated with Obamacare.
"We always had insurance for our employees, but now we have to report that to the federal government and that reporting has a cost," he said. "It will cost me $12,000 more a year to do these reports on something we've had all along for our employees."
While business has been good, despite competition that also offers office equipment or IT services, the brothers still grapple with the company name: Des Plaines Office Equipment. While the company was founded in Des Plaines, it no longer has a presence there.
"We've debated on changing the name, but after 60 years, we decided to just keep it," said Vic. "It works."
Young leader honored
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Eric Kinkel, the Palatine home-based music teacher who is providing free lessons to a veteran, said that a copy of our May 4 column was included in a letter he received last week from State Rep. Tom Morrison. Kinkel said he almost threw away the congressman's letter unopened, thinking it was just junk mail. But when Kinkel opened it, he read a handwritten letter congratulating him on helping a veteran with the free lessons and a free guitar package from Target.
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