People around suburbs made their mark in 2015
They overcame obstacles, were innovative, or had a mission. In any case, this year was filled again with some impressive, fun and entrepreneurial people from around the suburbs. Here is a sampling of those who attracted your attention as well:
• Daniel Alarik of Elk Grove Village lives and breaths the Army. The Army veteran founded Carol Stream-based Grunt Style LLC. It sells clothing and gear with military and patriotic themes and mostly veterans work on the products. Always love veterans who help veterans.
• Kathy Hopinkah Hannan of Wheaton ran with the bulls in Pamplona, Spain, jumped from an airplane and ran the New York marathon. The KPMG global lead partner also was working on a doctoral degree and named national president and chairwoman of the board of the Girl Scouts. She is also the Girl Scouts' first Native American president. She offers a unique role model for the young women, diversity and adventure all rolled into one.
• Norman N. Li, founder and CEO of Mount Prospect-based NL Chemical Technology Inc., left his native China to go to Taiwan after World War II and now more than 60 years later, earned China's highest honor for scientists. The Arlington Heights resident received the 2014 International Science and Technology Cooperation Award from the Chinese government.
• Gary and Cindy Blaski, co-owners of Allegra Marketing Print and Mail franchise in Schaumburg, saw his beloved home in Bartlett go up in flames, along with 25 years of memories, comfort, security and personal items after he tried to repair a frozen pipe in the basement. While no one was hurt, it took them a long time to rebuild their home and their lives. He and his wife Cindy overcame a terrifying time with the help and love of family and friends.
• Teri Dreher of Libertyville founded Noth Shore Patient Advocates in Libertyville, where she provides guidance and resources for patients and families so they can navigate the medical profession. She also founded two nonprofits, Hands and Hearts International to provide medical orientations, and Aid Africa's Children to help get government aid for African schools.
• Robert Dietsche of Algonquin had been a pharmacist for 45 years, mostly at Jewel-Osco in Hoffman Estates, and retired in June. He was on the front lines of a changing health care industry and watched how pharmaceutical companies changes many lives. He also saw the growth of more insurance. He and his wife also had three children, all in health care professions.
• Parker Krex founded Glenview-based Brick Loot, which provides brick toys and products in a subscription-based service for other kids. This Lego fan was only 10 years old and perhaps the youngest CEOs we've ever interviewed.
• Richard Hofherr, a guitarist since 1985 and co-founder of the popular band, 7th Heaven, may pack 200 shows a year, write and record more music and is a festival favorite ... and he also leads the life of an entrepreneur. He has spun off 14 companies all related in some way to the band.
• Ben Niernberg of Buffalo Grove was diagnosed with colon cancer about two years ago. He went through surgery and treatments and then worked on getting back into shape. He has since done the Chicago Marathon, went skiing, backpacking and even rock climbing, including Devils Tower national monument in Wyoming. The executive vice president of business development and operations at Northbrook-based Proper Title LLC even continues to work and innovate, he said.
• Erica Wiegel of Elk Grove Village owns and operates a metal stamping company, Roselle-based Aro Metal Stamping Inc. And Patricia Miller owns Matrix IV in Woodstock. They both face the same thing, succeeding in what has been considered a male-dominated industry. They both have been carving out their own niches and aim to continue a wave of change in their companies and the industry.
• 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Anna Marie Kukec on LinkedIn and Facebook and as AMKukec on Twitter.