'Neutral colors combined with bold accents make plain homes look very contemporary'

  • Seated (left) Bernie Halloran, Bob Fortune. Standing (left) Tom Fortune, Pete Fortune

    Seated (left) Bernie Halloran, Bob Fortune. Standing (left) Tom Fortune, Pete Fortune

Posted12/19/2016 1:00 AM

Q: How do you describe the company?

A: Fortune Restoration was founded in 1979 when the three Fortune brothers established a painting company in their parent's basement while in high school. Their goal was to help earn funds for their college educations. One of their first and most memorable jobs was painting the Kaage Newsstand in Chicago's Edison Park neighborhood.


Upon completing college, the brothers remained with the company and built it into one of the largest independent commercial and residential painting contractors in the area.

Bernie Halloran developed the commercial accounts division into a significant percentage of the company's annual sales. Some of those accounts include area universities. Fortune Restoration is one of a few contractors that are approved by the Archdiocese of Chicago's Department of Facilities and Construction to work on their historic structures.

Q: What will your company's main challenges be next year?

A: (Bob) One of our main challenges is to continue to locate and retain additional exceptional tradesmen. We are very particular about the people we hire, and only hire people we would welcome into our own homes. We also plan to increase our online presence because many people refer to the internet when searching for a quality contractor.

Q: What's the hottest trend in the industry?

A: (Bob) Neutral colors combined with bold accents make plain homes look very contemporary. We have found that our customers are willing to try color schemes that are out of the ordinary, and are very pleased with the end result.

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Q: From a business outlook, whom do you look up to?

A: (Bob) I am an admirer of Warren Buffett.

Q: If you had one tip to give to a rookie CEO, what would it be?

A: (Bob) Put the customer before the profit. Customer service is the most important element in a successful company. Make every effort to be certain your customers are satisfied.

Q: Do you have a business mantra?

A: (Bob) I ask our employees every day, "What can we do today to have a better tomorrow?" I believe people get lost in the daily tasks of their jobs, and it's more important to focus on what needs to be accomplished today.

Q: Tell us about a few big projects.

A: In addition to homes, churches, public and commercial buildings, Fortune Restoration is known for its historically accurate restoration services.


Some of these historic projects include: The oldest house in Chicago, the Noble Seymour Crippen House (1833); Yerkes Observatory in Williams Bay, Wisconsin, owned by the University of Chicago (1897); The Grosse Point Lighthouse in Evanston (1873); The Elgin Tower building (1929); The William G. Fricke House in Oak Park, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright (1902); The James Charnley House in Chicago, codesigned by Frank Lloyd Wright and Louis Sullivan (1892).

Q: What book is on your nightstand?

A: (Bob) "The Three Rules" by Michael E. Raynor and Mumtaz Ahmed.

Q: What is one interesting fact about your company?

A: (Pete) We will arrive at a job site, meet with the customer to review the project, and in 20 minutes have a written estimate with a firm quote detailing the scope of the project ready for their review. Tom adds that although we are known for our painting services, we provide restoration services for most anything that relates to the envelope of a structure. These services include painting, masonry, stucco, tuckpointing, custom carpentry, glass repair, and wood refinishing.

Q: What do you do in your free time?

A: (Tom) Every morning before I start the day, I run, bike or swim. I will be entering my 14th marathon next month. (Pete) I enjoy coaching youth sports, especially basketball, football and soccer. Bob is an avid swimmer, and Bernie is a devoted golfer.

Q: What keeps you up at night?

A: (Tom) I worry about meeting deadlines for upcoming jobs. Overpromising can be our greatest fear. We strive to deliver the impossible.

Q: What was your first paying job?

A: All four began working at a very young age doing odd jobs. Tom and Bernie were paperboys in grade school.

Q: If you could put your company name on a sports venue, which one would you choose?

A: The home of the Chicago Bears, Soldier Field.

Q: Tell us about your awards.

A: The owners of Fortune Restoration are proud to have received two Oak Park Historic Preservation Awards; four Chicagoland Painted Lady Awards; 17 Angie's List Super Service Awards; two National "Picture It Painted" Awards; and one National Safety Award from the Painting & Decorating Contractors of America.

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