Oak Brook executive never lost his passion for Apollo program

 
 
Updated 5/12/2016 10:00 AM
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  • Author and marketing executive Richard Jurek recently lectured at the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation's annual Space Rendezvous event at the Kennedy Space Center.

    Author and marketing executive Richard Jurek recently lectured at the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation's annual Space Rendezvous event at the Kennedy Space Center. Courtesy of Richard Jurek

  • Richard Jurek collects money, many $2 bills, that have flown into space with various astronauts.

    Richard Jurek collects money, many $2 bills, that have flown into space with various astronauts. Courtesy of Richard Jurek

  • After about eight months, Logical Position has expanded its offices in Deer Park.

    After about eight months, Logical Position has expanded its offices in Deer Park.

A strong passion for space might keep the boyish spark in the eye of Richard Jurek, an author and Oak Brook marketing executive.

Jurek considers himself a child in the Apollo Generation, those born between 1961, when former President Kennedy announced plans to send astronauts to the moon, and 1972, the year of the last crewed moon landing. Space missions created extreme excitement, he said.

"I grew up in this age," when live coverage of space assignments, "Star Wars" movies and trips to the moon were the rage. In July 1969, for example, 94 percent of American televisions were tuned into coverage of Apollo 11's mission to the moon.

"Space has been a theme in my life," said Jurek, who graduated from Southern Illinois University and then gained a second master's degree in international management at Schiller International University in Heidelberg, Germany.

Jurek, president of Inland Marketing & Communications Inc. in Oak Brook, has mixed his passion and career expertise in cowriting a book, "Marketing the Moon: The Selling of the Apollo Lunar Program." The book, turned into a documentary, covers the story of what he calls one of the most successful marketing and public relations campaigns in history -- the selling of the Apollo program.

Jurek is working on another book, a biography of George M. Low and his bold, behind-the-scenes decisions that helped the Apollo 8 mission go to the moon.

Jurek, who lives in Dyer, Indiana, admits his passion involves three of his primary interests while growing up -- space and collecting coins and autographs.

About 20 years ago, he became involved in collecting space artifacts, from rare documents to checklists used by astronauts before a mission. A unique part of his collection is currency that has flown to space with the astronauts.

As a collector of space-flown artifacts, Jurek began to notice the appearance of $2 bills in space memorabilia auctions. He began acquiring them from estates, collectors and directly from the astronauts themselves.

Before long, these bills formed a subgenre of his collection worthy of their own focus. He created the Jefferson Space Museum, a virtual place to exhibit the money.

This virtual museum has gained international press attention and was featured in a film, "The $2 Bill Documentary."

Meanwhile, currency collectors, called numismatists, set values based on an item's condition and rarity. Since these bills have traveled millions of miles at great speeds and in varied temperatures, some show a great deal of wear.

Some were folded and tucked into space suit pockets, or wrapped onto spacecraft wiring, or even kept in wallets for good luck.

Jurek keeps some of his collection in a safety deposit box and lends out other pieces to museums.

He says putting a value on his collection, which consists of several hundred pieces, is tough.

"A valuation for the collection is really, really hard -- and I couldn't begin to put a figure on it. I have been offered six-figure sums just for the $2 bill collection and have turned those offers down.

"It is really not about the money for me -- it is the connection with history, and the fact that these items were along for the ride on arguably one of the 20th Century's greatest achievements."

He says it is rewarding mixing his corporate career with his passion.

"I am able to tap into my hobby and hone the language and communication skills that help me perform better in my corporate life," he said, with a sparkle in his eye.

Flooring firm moving in

Andrea Hauger of Schaumburg-based Owen Wagener & Co. sold 1185 Atlantic Drive in West Chicago. The property is a 19,400 square foot free-standing warehouse building, previously home to Ceramo Company Inc. The new owner, Contract Flooring Service of Glendale Heights, chose this location as its new headquarters to expand a growing flooring business. The property will house new offices and a larger warehouse for the company.

Growth in Deer Park

About eight months after opening its office in Deer Park, Logical Position is growing.

The digital marketing agency expanded from 4,100 square feet to 5,200 after a construction project merged the original office with an adjacent office, creating one large space.

The added square footage allows the company to double the number of desks from 16 to 32. With double the capacity, Logical Position will be hiring 15 new employees to fill positions on its SEO and sales team.

"We're happily accommodating the growing demand we're seeing in Chicago, creating more jobs and helping other companies grow through our digital marketing services," said Chris Vale, vice president of SEO and Chicago general manager at LP.

"I predict LP in Deer Park will follow in the footsteps of the other LP offices, growing to more than 100 employees and serving more than 1,000 clients."

Headquartered in Portland, Oregon, Logical Position has expanded rapidly since its start in 2011. Deer Park is home to LP's third office, with the second office in Las Vegas.

Logical Position was named an Inc. 500 Fastest Growing Company in 2014.

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