Meet the 2020 Annual Awards for Excellence honorees

Here are the profiles of the 21 honorees in the 2020 Annual Awards for Business Excellence, presented by the Daily Herald Business Ledger and its sponsoring partners.

Interpro Translation Solutions, Inc., Lisle

Nominated by Nicholas & Ralph Strozza

Category: Small Company

Interpro Translation Solutions is a turnkey multilingual solutions provider. Since 1995, they have been delivering unparalleled quality and service using a personalized, consultative approach which is designed to develop and sustain long-term partnerships with clients.

Interpro's scalability allows them to handle complex, high volume projects into any modern world language simultaneously.

Whether you are localizing a one-page document into Spanish for a U.S.-based audience, or launching an international training course to be deployed in over 40 languages, Interpro has the expertise to make it happen on-time, the first time, every time.

With a global reach and a personal touch, they provide the level of quality, service, and attention to detail required to enhance your multilingual communications.

Lurdez Consulting Group, Naperville

Nominated by: Kylie Knur, JJR Marketing

Category: Small Company

Lurdez Consulting Group, Inc. is a boutique information technology project management firm driven by a higher purpose. Their mission is to work with champion organizations by moving their productivity forward with on-point, collaborative IT projects. They are also committed to creating opportunities for young women to advance in information technology. Lurdez Consulting Group supports companies of all sizes and industries expedite IT projects to gain traction on performance and productivity with the project methodology that better fits the needs of the client's organization. They provide project management in the implementation of various areas of information technology but specialize in cybersecurity, network Infrastructure, data Center transformation, data Center migration, cloud computing, enterprise server administration, backup administration. In the category of Small Company

My College Planning, Naperville

Nominated by Joanne Levine, Lekas & Levine Public Relations

Category: Small Company

Jack Schacht founded My College Planning to help parents plan financially to send their children to college, and today offers free workshops almost every weekday at local suburban libraries.

The My College Planning Team is a consortium divided into two groups - educational consultants and a variety of financial aid specialists - who each serve their client families. They collaborate to provide students with the best-fit colleges for the best price.

This team's combined commitment and expertise benefits their clients in numerous ways to help alleviate the stress and confusion associated with college planning. No matter if you begin with MCPT's financial aid planning or educational planning, their goal is to provide students individualized guidance to calm their journey through personalized college planning.

PB Kitchen, Geneva

Nominated by Karen Dix, Big Ideas Writing

Category: Small Company

For more than 20 years, PB Kitchen Design has served West suburban Chicago with luxurious, custom kitchen design that reflect the homeowner's unique tastes, lifestyle and preferences.

The family-owned and operated company has earned international and national awards, including global finalist in the Sub-Zero Wolf Cove 2017-2018 Kitchen Design Contest and the Grand Prize Winner of the 2020 Top Knobs Design Contest.

PB Kitchen's beautiful designs have been seen on a myriad media outlets including HGTV. Clients can view their showroom located in historic downtown Geneva, which showcases fully furnished vignettes featuring the latest trends and their line of semi to fully custom cabinets.

Yakkety Yak Marketing, Chicago

Nominated by Michelle Damico Communications

Category: Small Company

Yakkety Yak is a five-year old, full-service digital marketing agency with content at its core. They fuse brand strategy, content development and digital marketing to craft high-impact brands.

With a client-first mindset and boundless creativity, they make sure your story leaves a lasting impression. They believe in the power of words. Whispered, written, sung, or shouted, words move them to think, to question, and to act. And they believe in using our powers for good, inspiring people to make this world a little bit better.

Passionate about giving back, Yakkety Yak annually donates one year of marketing services to a Chicago-based nonprofit organization that is women-owned or women-benefitted.

Turnaround Management Association, Chicago

Nominated by Michelle Damico Communications

Category: Trade Association

Turnaround Management Association (TMA) is the most professionally diverse organization in the corporate restructuring, renewal and corporate health space. Established in 1988 and headquartered in Chicago, TMA has more than 8,000 members in 54 chapters worldwide, including Chicago, the Midwest and 33 other North American Chapters.

TMA members seek to strengthen the global economy by working to save distressed businesses, assist management to navigate off-plan events and help healthy companies avoid similar pitfalls.

Members include turnaround practitioners, attorneys, accountants, advisors, liquidators, consultants, as well as academic, government employees, and members of the judiciary.

A.S.I. Construction, Burr Ridge

Nominated by Marie Lazzara, JJR Marketing

Category: Architecture and Construction

A.S.I. Construction is a family owned business with over 30 years of experience. They provide residential and commercial exterior remodeling services along with general contracting.

Since opening its doors in 2013, A.S.I. has been committed to their clients and work, and are dedicated to source only the best materials available - attributing to their substantial business growth.

Due to this great success the business expanded their Frankfort location by building a 4,000 square foot location in downtown Burr Ridge, and have plans to expand additional offices in NW Indiana, Barrington, and Colorado.

Their philosophy is simple: Treat everyone's house like it's their mom's

Downers Grove Economic Development Corporation

Nominated by John Luka, Regions Bank

Category: Business Organization & Economic Development

The Downers Grove Economic Development Corporation was launched in 2006 as a 501(c) (6) not-for-profit organization. They are a public/private partnership that serves as the official agency for economic development and tourism for the Village of Downers Grove. The mission of the DGEDC is the retention and attraction of business in Downers Grove. They promote tourism through the Downers Grove Visitors Bureau and have attracted millions of dollars of business investment to Downers Grove. As a result, their efforts have created jobs and brought additional tax revenues to local government agencies.

In addition, the DGEDC has attracted new business investment in all sectors including commercial, industrial, office, medical, hospitality, and downtown redevelopment.

Invest Aurora

Nominated by Cort Carlson, Aurora Area Convention & Visitors Bureau

Category: Business Organization & Economic Development

Invest Aurora is a public/private economic development partnership dedicated to expanding economic opportunities in Aurora. They work to increase Aurora's economic vitality by attracting, retaining and promoting businesses within the city of Aurora. This includes commercial, industrial, retail, and mixed-use development that brings value to residents and reflect the dynamic and diverse nature of the city.

Invest Aurora works to make the city stronger by leveraging partnerships between the public and private sectors. They strive to promote the city of Aurora to businesses, investors, and developers in a way that creates sustainable economic growth. Invest Aurora assists businesses by providing community data, land and building availability, financing resources, and other incentives.

Next Level Northwest, Hoffman Estates

Nominated by Kayla Portillo, Red Caffeine

Category: Business Organization & Economic Development

Next Level Northwest is a nonprofit business accelerator founded by five northwest Chicagoland municipalities (Elk Grove Village, Hanover Park, Hoffman Estates, Rolling Meadows, and Schaumburg). Their accelerator engagement program offers free one-on-one business coaching for qualified businesses within participating communities, and in January 2020, celebrated its first full cohort, with one business served from each community.

Nearly every company to complete their program has reported significant growth, including hiring, facility and location expansion, and revenue growth ranging from 15-70% as a direct result of implementing recommendations from the Next Level Northwest program.

The program aims to support two businesses per community in 2020 and is currently accepting applications for qualified businesses.

Eaglewood Resort & Spa, Itasca

Nominated by Kate Pacholek, Vagus PR

Category: Entertainment/Hospitality Company

Eaglewood Resort & Spa takes pride in being one of the most unique Midwest destinations, recognized for both a world-class meeting facility and a four-diamond getaway. The resort has set a standard of excellence for travelers, dining guests, meeting and event business professionals, by providing unprecedented hospitality, comfort and flexibly for everyone that walks through the doors.

Founded in 2012 and located 12 miles west of O'Hare International Airport and 25 miles from downtown Chicago, Eaglewood Resort & Spa is nestled on 104 acres in Itasca, catering to spa goers, golfers, fun loving couples looking for a romantic getaway, and families seeking a nearby destination with exciting activities.

The Midwest resort is highly inspired by nature, as well as the legendary work of Frank Lloyd Wright, who is known for his Prairie Style architecture throughout the Chicagoland area.

The Marriott Theatre, Lincolnshire

Nominated by Kate Pacholek, Vagus PR

Category: Entertainment/Hospitality Company

Founded in 1975, today the acclaimed theater sells more than 400,000 tickets a year and boasts the largest subscription base of any musical theater. The theater earns lavish praise from critics, receiving a record 500 Joseph Jefferson Award nominations - Chicago's highest theatrical honor for artistic achievement.

Broadway has long considered The Marriott Theatre a prime venue for "launching" Broadway shows into the regional market with premiere productions that include Grand Hotel, The Goodbye Girl, Miss Saigon, Cats, Sunset Boulevard, Beauty and the Beast, The Producers, Mary Poppins and Something Rotten.

In addition to the presentation of classic American musical theater, The Marriott Theatre has become a driving force in the development of original and re-imagined musicals. Marriott's Theatre for Young Audiences presents numerous original works as well as classic fairy tales. Through these works, children experience the joy and magic that is "live" theater.

@properties , Chicago

Nominated by Kelly Maguire

Category: Innovation in Business

Established in 2000, @properties has consistently been one of the fastest-growing brokerage firms in the United States. This growth can be attributed to the company's innovative technology and marketing programs that make the home buying and selling experience more seamless for consumers and real estate agents.

During the past decade, @properties has developed a proprietary suite of integrated technology applications called pl@tform™, which includes marketing, transaction-management, and client-relationship management systems. @properties has over 2,800 agents in more than 30 offices throughout Chicago and surrounding suburbs, Southwest Michigan, Northwest Indiana, and Southeast Wisconsin.

Innovation has fueled the growth and success of @properties, the largest residential real estate brokerage firm in the Chicago metro area by sales volume. A few years ago, @properties embarked on a major expansion initiative in the northwest and western suburbs.

Michelle's Interiors, Grayslake

Nominated by Jennifer Dexter, Signature Bank

Category: Innovation in Business

Award-winning interior designer Michelle Rohrer-Lauer launched Michelle's Interiors more than 30 years ago as a part-time, home-based business. Since then, she has grown the firm into a full-time business, operating out of a bustling studio with offices in Grayslake and Chicago. Since the beginning, Michelle and her team have designed one-of-a-kind luxury homes for hundreds of discerning clients throughout the Chicago area and across the country. Projects range from a complete kitchen and bath renovation to whole house designs.

Her inspiration begins with her clients' personal stories, but she also draws on decades of experience working with the essential tools of design: color, texture, scale, function, and most of all, creativity. Michelle's goal has always been to help her clients live a luxurious lifestyle, in the broadest sense.

In addition, as a certified GREENleader and member of the national Sustainable Furnishings Council, Michelle and her designers know that luxury and sustainability can be combined to create outstanding interior design.

Parts Town, Addison

Nominated by Erik Koenig

Category: Innovation in Business

Founded in 1987, Parts Town has been a leading distributor of genuine OEM food service equipment parts. Starting with a staff of six, Parts Town has surpassed 600 team members in Chicago, along with more than 1,800 worldwide, and supports local, national and international customers.

The company's success is driven by living out five core values: Safety, integrity, passion, courage and innovation. Parts Town believes in providing high touch customer experience and bringing change for the better through its spirit of fast-paced innovation, which is core to the company's growth and is what differentiates them from their competition.

Driven by a culture that promotes courage and team member participation to help set the tone for successful product launches, Parts Town is focused on innovating the supply chain through industry-leading initiatives. The innovations range from Parts In Town, a marketplace which enables customers to pick up parts same day, taking advantage of local parts inventory; techtown, the first and only online meeting place for food service technicians; and their automated distribution goods-to-person system for high-density storage and scalability in their distribution center.

Leeco Steel, Lisle

Nominated by Isabel Hall

Category: Large Companies

Leeco Steel, an O'Neal Industries affiliate company, stocks and sells steel plate and maintains one of the largest inventories of carbon, High Strength Low Alloy (HSLA) and alloy steel plate coming from premier mills worldwide.

Founded in 1882, Leeco has 14 strategically located distribution centers in North America that are stocked with huge quantities of carbon and heat-treated steel plate. Leeco Steel also supplies large-quantity commodity products to companies around the world via its Expert Trading division.

Leeco Steel has been a part of the Chicago-area business community for over 135 years, starting on Chicago's West Side and is now headquartered in Lisle, where their team is proud to continuously support the Chicago-area business community and local communities and not-for-profits through fundraising efforts.

J.C. Restoration, Rolling Meadows

Nominated by Marie Lazzara, JJR Marketing

Category: Minority Owned Businesses

With only a little more than a garage full of equipment, a handful of hardworking laborers, and raw determination, Jose and Martha Cruz ventured out into the highly-competitive restoration industry. Jose's reputation as an honest, reliable contractor preceded him, and referrals for board-ups and contents cleaning jobs soon started to stream in. The growing workload made it possible for Jose Cruz to add staff, expand services, and purchase a private warehouse. J.C. Restoration, Inc. was officially on the disaster restoration map and making quite a name for itself.

In 2000, Cruz's son, Warner joined the team. With a fresh perspective, years of business training, and the same determination of his father, Warner took the established business to new heights and the company has more than doubled in size. JCR has become a pacesetter for the restoration industry - providing the highest quality of service, using leading-edge equipment and technologies, and having the most highly-trained, knowledgeable staff.

The JCR family lives by "Imagen," a Spanish word for persona - we are only as successful as the quality of our people, process and character.

MKH Early Education Center, Aurora

Nominated by Marie Lazzara, JJR Marketing

Category: Minority Owned Businesses

MKH Early Education Center (MKHEEC) is a licensed early-education center in Aurora. They support the whole family in a unique partnership, making sure each child is nurtured and given the best possible start socially, emotionally, and academically.

At their boutique-style learning center with a capacity of 47 students, they care for children from infant through preschool age. They are small, intimate, and passionate about giving each child the best start possible. MKHEEC brings together the best of both worlds; a home setting that is licensed, compliant, and structured.

Their experienced educators pursue kindergarten readiness through the use of small group and one-on-one learning activities, planned programs, and research-based curriculum. Our model incorporates Social, Emotional, Nurturing, Exploration, Cognitive and Academic (SENECA) components.

No one gets lost in the shuffle at MHK Early Education, and everyone is excited because, at its core, this is the ultimate play date. It's like sneaking veggies into pasta sauce - parents know the good stuff is in there, but all the kids know is that it tastes great!

Autism Hero Project, Algonquin

Nominated by Marie Lazzara, JJR Marketing

Category: Not-for-profit

Founder Tamika Lechee Morales kept her son's autism a secret for years until she decided to share her story in the book "Today's Inspired Latina, Volume III - Life Stories of Success in the Face of Adversity," which launched the concept of The Autism Hero Project.

This 501(c) (3) not-for-profit organization is run by a volunteer board of directors and a community of HEROES who are intentional about being a part of the village.

They believe strongly that it is not enough to be aware about autism if it doesn't do anything to activate you, to be an agent of change. With a mission to promote autism awareness, change public policy and the way the world does business with a workforce that is intentional about inclusion.

The Autism Hero Project knows the importance of preparing children with autism for the present and future by helping families in need by sponsoring medical insurance coverage for children to access Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Therapy to attain the life skills they need to be successful.

Believe Project, Kildeer

Nominated by Joanne Levine, Lekas & Levine Public Relations

Category: Not-for-profit

Believe Project is a program intended to brighten the day of someone in need of a helping hand by providing the gift of a small envelope containing inspirational words and a crisp $100 bill. It started out as one woman's spontaneous act of generosity over the holidays and recently expanded to 365 days a year.

The goal of the Believe Project is to pass along an inscribed "Believe" envelope to a deserving individual selected through a nomination process. If the application submitted by the nominator is selected, they become a "Steward of Love" and are responsible for delivering the gift to the individual they nominated.

In addition, the Believe Project teams up with the Daily Herald every December to award 31 or more individuals a "Believe" envelope and a featured spot in the paper.

This beautiful program creates a circle of giving, kindness, and inspiration that is worth so much more than a $100 bill. It encompasses the "Stewards of Love," thankful recipients, and those who contribute to the fund.

Carolyn Gable, the Founder of Believe Project, was once a struggling single mom working as a waitress to make ends meet, and has always believed in abundance. The more you give away, the more you receive. Now, she's living her core beliefs of love, forgiveness and service by giving back to families in need of a helping hand and a bit of hope.

Seniors Alone, Libertyville

Nominated by Joanne Levine, Lekas & Levine Public Relations

Category: Not-for-profit

Formed in 2019 by their parent company, NShore Patient Advocates, Senior's Alone - is a Non-for-Profit - Keeps Senior Orphans from Falling through Cracks in Chicagoland's Healthcare System.

Chances are, you know at least one "senior orphan," an elderly person who is aging alone and on a limited budget. Maybe it's your neighbor, who has no family and can no longer get around. Maybe it's the frail old man at church who probably shouldn't be driving. You worry about them occasionally, but it's really not your problem. Except that it is. It's everyone's problem.

Their team of registered nurses, social workers, attorneys, CSE managers and nonmedical administrators provide the wide spectrum of services needed to aid this most vulnerable population.

Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.