2018 Annual Awards for Business Excellence Honorees

Updated 3/29/2018 1:18 PM



12five Capital LLC

Chicago and Bolingbrook

2017 was a record setting year for 12five Capital when it comes to growth and activity. 12five is an alternative lender, helping entrepreneurs reach their dreams when unable to obtain traditional bank financing. Last year they were able to reach more businesses and send more dollars out the door, helping businesses to grow and succeed more than ever before.

12five also believes in giving back and encourages all employees to donate time and money to the communities they live and work in.

Buff & Coat


Nominated by: Karen Dix, Big Ideas Writing

Buff & Coat has established a reputation for excellent service and fine craftsmanship in the western suburbs. The mission is to provide customers a positive experience through a quicker, cleaner, more affordable alternative to full re-sanding. The Buff & Coat process is dustless, odorless and done in a single day.

With a team of 5 employees, including owner Ray Horan, and at a rate of approximately 300 floors a year, Buff & Coat brings a deeper level of personal service to both residential and commercial buildings.


CTM -- CPA's Business Advisors


With 40 years in business, 2017 was a huge year for CTM's growth, adding employees, promoting from within and rebranding the company name and logo for a fresh new look.

CTM specializes in accounting and consulting services for small and mid-sized businesses, trusts, estates and other entities.

CTM provides its employee's with the flexibility and responsibility that allow, not only the business to thrive, but also employees. CTM allows its employees the freedom to manage their work schedule on their own, while still maintaining a team oriented environment.

Merrimac Solutions


Nominated by: Marie Lazzara with JJR Marketing

Merrimac Solutions understands the growth of a small business and becomes successful by solving clients' needs by providing optimum IT solutions.

Founder John Quinn created Merrimac Solutions in 2005 with the vision to deliver relevant, effective and cost-effective data management solutions to their clients, reducing a company's business risks.

For Quinn, it's about listening to clients, focusing on the customers' needs, and using that process with multiple customers.


N-Shore Patient Advocates

Chicago and Libertyville

Nominated by: Joanne Levine, Public Relations

The mission of N-Shore Patient Advocates is to provide high quality, professional and individualized advocacy services to clients, who are facing acute or long term health challenges. N-shore serves to be the largest, highest-skilled professional nurse advocacy company in the greater Chicagoland region.

Teri Dreher, a RN who, after 30 years of critical care nursing, founded N-Shore. She noticed the health care system had become so complex and profit driven, patients had become lost in the shuffle. Currently, N-Shore has 9 full-time devoted nurse advocates, each able to assist between 6 and 12 clients at a time, depending upon their acuity.

The zen of slow cooking

Lake Forest

Nominated by: Joanne Levin, Public relations

Like many unique small businesses, the Zen of slow cooking creates gourmet slow cooker spice blends, and began in an effort to solve a problem. How does a busy mother juggle schedules, commitments and homework, yet still serve a delicious, healthy dinner each night? For Meg Barnhart the answer was surprisingly simple and the impact on her family was immediate.

In 2012, she partnered with Jane McKay, a young mom with a background in food science and recipe development. Shortly after, the food blog was born, and what started as a recipe/lifestyle blog quickly grew into a promising business.


Tiemart, Inc.


Nominated by: Marie Lazzara, JJR Marketing

Tiemart has evolved over the years since owner, Mike Martyka began his entrepreneurship selling miscellaneous items on eBay. Mike got into necktie retail when he discovered 99-cent ties at a mall in Kenosha, and found that he could make a large profit reselling them on eBay. Martyka eventually left eBay and started his own online retail page and partnered with a Chinese distributor that now creates 3 trademarked labels for Tiemart.

Not only has Tiemart grown since opening in the early 2000s, but Tiemart has become an active participant in the local community.


Vertex Resource Group

St. Charles

Nominated by: Ashley Mayer, JJR Marketing

Vertex Resource Group is a human resource solutions company, whose focus is uniting the right people with the right career opportunities. The team understands the importance of creating partnerships and developing employment strategies, customized for each client's needs.

Recently celebrating 25 years in business, Vertex Resource Group has seen the changes in the industry and takes time to educate their customers on the evolving trends.



Imperial Surveillance, Inc.

Arlington Heights

Nominated by: Matt Hansen, Anixter, Inc.

Imperial Surveillance is a full service security company servicing landscaping companies, construction sites, government facilities, shopping malls, manufacturing facilities and more. Imperial Systems uses embedded analytics for perimeter protection, which allows security officers to monitor the area more effectively.

Service extends to local residents and is common for new homebuyers and those who have experienced a home intrusion, providing accessible and affordable security that can be monitored on a smartphone.

Imperial Surveillance works with their distributors and an in-house design team to provide innovative and custom security systems for their clients, saving them time, money, and aggravation.


Mowery & Schoenfeld, Inc.


Because of their ability to see the bigger picture and insight for predicting outcomes, clients of Mowery & Schoenfeld value their proactive tax, accounting, and advisory services as being more than just about the numbers; clients know their overall business goals are in mind and appreciate the offered flexibility and multifaceted solutions.

Mowery & Schoenfeld has a long track record of helping local businesses grow and realize their dreams. In an effort to give back to their community, they donate over 400 volunteer hours and thousands of dollars each summer and holiday season to local charities.

Quality Logo Products


Nominated by: Marie Lazzara, JJR Marketing

Quality Logo Products, or QLP, is one of many promotional product companies in the United States. The business originally started in 2003 as a two-person operation in a dingy basement, since then it has become an industry leader with over 110 employees, two locations and a projected $50 million in revenue.

QLP is committed to helping the local community through charitable events and a special initiative, donating to Hesed House, a homeless shelter in Aurora, and also offers free graphic design marketing serviced to Tails Humane Society in DeKalb throughout the year.

Mx Group

Burr Ridge

A company that started more than 25 years ago, The Mx Group has adapted and grown to meet the challenging marketing needs of B2B companies in Chicagoland and throughout the country. At one time, the Mx Group was a direct response agency, specializing in print, brochures, sales materials and other traditional marketing tools. Now in 2018, they are a high-tech company that focuses on demand generation and digital development for B2B companies.

Their work has generated multiple award wins for clients, including: ANA's 2017 B2 Awards; Demand Gen Reports' 2017 B2B Innovator Awards, along with Daily Herald's Best Place to Work in Illinois and Chicago's Best and Brightest.


VHT Studios


Nominated by: Michelle Damico, Michelle Damico Communications

Twenty years ago, when Brian Balduf launched VHT Studios, most real estate listings had only one small, fuzzy exterior photo. Balduf not only created a better way, he has built VHT Studios into the nation's largest real estate photography company.

VHT serves residential, commercial, and other businesses in fifty states, and combines creativity, experience and innovative technologies which offer advanced, yet simple and reliable solutions for sharing and distributing multimedia content.



Cambium Networks

Rolling Meadows

Cambium Networks was founded in 2011 as a spinoff of Motorola Technologies, and has shipped 7 million radios cumulatively, connecting about 100 million people to broadband connectivity across the world.

A core value of Cambium is to serve communities and has endeavored to do so across the globe, by donating equipment and services, assisting the fight against poaching, as well with working with organizations that can use this technology, by providing aide during emergencies, and much more.

Chicago Marriott Lincolnshire Resort


Nominated by: Kelli Hartsock, VagusPR

This Chicago Marriott resort has been a beloved destination of the Chicagoland area for over 40 years, and recently completed a $25 million renovation, transforming nearly every aspect of the resort.

The resort has set a standard of excellence for travelers, dining guests, theater goers and meeting and event destination for business professionals, by providing unprecedented hospitality, comfort and flexibly for everyone that walks through the doors.


Combined Insurance -- A Chubb Company

Chicago and Glenview

Combined Insurance is a leading provider of supplemental accident, disability, health, and life insurance products for individuals.

Assisting with local communities is a core element of the company culture at Combined Insurance. The company's founder, W. Clement Stone, was a philanthropist who donated $275 million to charitable organizations during his lifetime, in an effort to "make the world a better place."

The company continues to honor his legacy through active employee volunteerism and corporate donations

Rose Paving


Nominated by: Ashley Logan, Yakkety Yak Marketing

With over 40 years of experience, Rose Paving is North America's most trusted name in commercial paving and parking lot maintenance. Rose Paving has transformed the national paving industry by instilling accountability and professionalism.

Whether they're providing paving services at no cost or raising funds for charitable organizations, the Rose Paving team is always dedicated to providing quality service and giving back.


Andigo Credit Union


Over the past two years, Andigo has made key strategic decisions to enable growth, by expanding the field of membership, changing their name and headquarters and opening two new locations. Andigo has also completed re-branding while providing new products and great service to the community.

Community involvement is important to Andigo, and one way they give back is awarding $12,500 in college scholarships to high school seniors who maintain impressive academics, while also advocating for a person or cause.

Automated Business Designs


Automated Business Designs, or ABD, has spent the last 35 years at the forefront staffing software industry. Their flagship product, Ultra-Staff, helps thousands in the staffing and recruiting industry do their jobs effectively and efficiently. Innovation is the backbone of ABD, because technology is constantly changing and their products evolve with it.

This past year has been a big year for growth, with the launch of a groundbreaking, new web-based staffing solution. They have also created and filled new positions in the Chicagoland area, with plans to expand more in the next few years.

Lakeshore Recycling Systems

Morton Grove

Lakeshore Recycling Systems, or LRS, was born in 2012 by way of merger between two of Chicago's strongest waste recycling companies: Lakeshore Waste Services and Recycling Systems, Inc., and has become Chicago's leading recycling and waste diversion services provider.

LRS provides recycling and industry-leading waste diversion programs, affordable roll-off container services and comprehensive waste removal to businesses and residential homeowners. LRS operates a growing fleet of natural gas-powered trucks and runs successfully each day, with more than 720 dedicated full-time employees.



Sunset Foods

Highland Park, Lake Forest, Libertyville, Long Grove, Northbrook

Nominated by: Carolyn Hersch, city of Highland Park

Since the company's founding in 1937, Sunset Foods has dedicated support to the communities it serves, and helps nearly 300 local organizations every year by participating in numerous fundraising activities, sponsored events, and providing regular monetary donations to these organizations.

In 1948, Sunset Foods differentiated itself from competitors by committing to its customers, by offering services when other grocers refused to do so.

Sunset Foods experiences substantial and continued growth, and works closely with other local businesses, farms, and suppliers, while maintaining the same values as it did 80 years ago.



Elmhurst Chamber of Commerce & Industry


Celebrating their 100th Anniversary, the Elmhurst Chamber of Commerce & Industry promotes an environment that creates success for local businesses and their community.

Serving the needs of 600 member businesses, not-for-profits and individuals through programs, products, services and events to help the local businesses grow.

As a select United States Chamber of Commerce Federated Membership partner, they are recognized in Illinois and nationally as an organization, committed to excellence in all of its endeavors.


Abbey Farms


Nominated by: Shirley Mott, The Write Word

As a not-for-profit community farm operation, Abbey Farms serves several "masters," and offers a breath of fresh air in a suburban environment.

In its simplest form, the mission of Abbey Farms is to provide a growing and stable source of revenue for the Monks of Marmion Abbey. To do so, Abbey Farms follows a unique nonprofit family focused agritourism business model through events and facility rentals.

Each year, Abbey Farms donates over $10,000 of product and gift certificates to various charities for their galas and fundraisers. Many students get their first taste of volunteering at Abbey Farms under the direction of Adam Voirin and his staff.


Center of Concern

Des Plaines

Nominated by: Kathleen Rolsing, retiree of Park Ridge Library

Celebrating 40 years of service, in a year with political upheaval, natural disasters, economic challenges and divisive rhetoric, we all search for a place of peace, where solutions are present, and where one can develop the ability to meet life challenges with hope and resilience.

For an older adult facing isolation, physical difficulties and a lack of family support, the challenges become overwhelming. Through the efforts of dedicated caseworkers, volunteers and supporters, the Center of Concern have provided a myriad services, connections, and programs to help older adults, the disabled and the homeless overcome life's hardships.


One Hope United


Nominated by: Michelle Damico, Michelle Damico Communications

One Hope United is a private human service organization that has been investing in children and families, and offers a diverse array of early childhood education, prevention, intervention and community-based programs.

With a team of more than 700 professionals, One Hope United serves nearly 10,000 children and families each year in Illinois, Wisconsin, Missouri, and Florida. One Hope United increases opportunities for children and families by providing quality solutions that enhance lives, communities and futures.

Pediatric Oncology Treasure Chest Foundation

Orland Park

The Treasure Chest Foundation is dedicated to supporting pediatric cancer patients and their families, by fully and continuously stocking a decorated treasure chest and large cabinet, located in outpatient areas, within cancer treatment centers.

The Treasure Chest Foundation is the ONLY Foundation providing toys, gifts and gift cards on a regular, ongoing basis. The foundation helps ease the pain of cancer treatment and provides smiles to these brave cancer patients.

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