A Look Back: >25 Years of EFBC and the Community of Members That Make Us.
As we anticipate our >25th year anniversary Gala, we thought it would be fun to take a trip down memory lane. We want to highlight what was going on in the world, the states, Chicago, and with some of our members who are also celebrating milestones this year in our first year, 1994. What was everyone up to in 1994?
But while the world looks vastly different now, in 2022, than it did in 1994, we are grateful to our humble beginnings, to where we are now. Jim Liautaud was setting the foundation for the Entrepreneur and Family Business Council in Chicago, IL at the University of Illinois at Chicago, under the old name of the UIC Family Business Council. And in a garage in Bellevue, Washington, Jeff Bezos was founding Amazon.com, Inc, which at the time was called Cadabra, Inc (luckily, that name only stuck for a few months). Sounds like it was a pretty good year for entrepreneurs!
Nationwide gas prices averaged at $1.11 at the pump. Schindler’s List won Best Picture. Whitney Houston took home both Record and Album of the year at the 36th annual Grammy Awards. The Cowboys defeated the Bills in the 29th Super Bowl. The Lion King was released, marking Disney’s 32nd animated film release, to critical acclaim and raking in approximately $951M worldwide at the box office, where it quickly became the highest grossing traditionally animated film of all time. And who can forget Nancy Kerrigan being clubbed by the ex-husband of rival competitive figure skater, Tonya Harding.
In Chicago, in 1993, the orange line opened, connecting folks from downtown to Midway airport. And in 1995 Chicago experienced a deadly 5-day heatwave, where temperatures reached up to 110 degrees Fahrenheit.
Meanwhile at UIC, in 1994, then-UIC Chancellor (and later UI President) James Stukel launched the Great Cities Initiative to join UIC teaching and research with community, corporate and government partners in tackling urban challenges. Renamed the Great Cities Commitment at its ten-year mark, the signature program integrates research with genuine community engagement.
While the EFBC did not officially move to DePaul University until 2012, in 1994 the Kellstadt Graduate School of Business announced the creation of an 18-month international MBA program in marketing and finance, the first of its kind in the country. In addition, DePaul saw it largest fall enrollment in university history, with 16,747 students registered.
This year marks some special anniversaries for some of our members, so we reached out to them and asked what they were up to in 1994. The response was overwhelmingly positive, and we received responses in regards to both their professional reflections and well as personal. Some businesses were just getting started while others had been booming for decades. Let’s fire up the DeLorean and read below what our members have shared.
Celebrating 100 Years:
In 1994 I [B.J. Slater] completed my freshman year at Munster High School in Munster, IN. That summer, like most, I worked at Plant Marvel weighing ingredients for fertilizer batches, installing new computers in the office, and running quality samples in the lab.
Established in 1922, Plant Marvel Laboratories pioneered and popularized the use of water-soluble fertilizers. We introduced our original 12-31-14 General Purpose Hi Phosphate formulation over 90 years ago helping to fuel the growth of soilless growing and hydroponics. Some years later we found a way to incorporate soluble forms of minor and trace elements into our expanding line of soluble N-P-K fertilizers. This became the first commercial fertilizer to deliver a total nutrient feed to crops without fear of burning and with unparalleled ease of application.
Founded in 1921, Roscoe provides uniform rental services. In 1994, Roscoe’s President Jim Buik added barcodes to garments and installed an automated garment sorting system. Julia Buik, Jim’s daughter, started Kindergarten that fall. Roscoe joined EFBC in 1998.
Celebrating 50 Years:
In 1994, Cray Kaiser was already 22 years young. Our named partners, Jim Cray and John Kaiser, had put us on the path to serving closely held and family businesses with the same core values that still guide our firm. As we celebrate our own 50th anniversary this year, caring about the people as much as the numbers and striving to educate, not just instruct, clients remain core to who we are at CK today.
In 1994 The Lion King was the #1 movie, Ace of Base the #1 song and NBA Champion Michael Jordan signed a Major League contract to play for the Chicago White Sox. Nuance Solutions, at that time our name was Bullen Midwest, was 22 years young. John J. Flanagan (Founder & Entrepreneur), had been gone for just over 4 years, passing away suddenly from cancer at the young age of 62. The 2nd Generation, led by Jim Flanagan (President) and John Flanagan (Plant Manager) , completed the acquisition of Federal International Chemicals Institutional division from Valspar Industries. This was a feather in the Flanagan Family cap as it was this company that Nuance’s founder left in 1972 to found Nuance Solutions.
We were located in Bridgeport neighborhood of Chicago at 37th & Ashland, a 4 story manufacturing plant we shared with a food spice manufacturer. Not the most efficient for chemical manufacturing, if an elevator went down we were in trouble. We made it work and Bullen was well known in the rust belt for innovative industrial cleaning solutions, janitorial cleaners/floor care products used in schools/universities and contract cleaners in buildings like those of our EFBC friends. We had just started developing adjuvants for the agriculture market. This was the beginning of our NuVation Brand of development/manufacturing chemical solutions.
Neil Houtsma, Executive Vice President and recent 2021 retired owner, was mentoring Matt Ahrens & myself [Sean Hoffman] as we hit the road every week as Regional Salespersons. Twenty-eight years later Matt & I are still selling!
Three years later Jim will join the FBC and we now have 6 persons in Forums! Nuance is honored to be a part of the EFBC.
Celebrating 30 Years:
In 1994, Burke Warren (founded in 1992) was a 25-attorney law firm located in the Loop and adhering to its founding principles: the highest quality of legal services, delivered with a personal touch, at fees that provide real value to our clients. Rachel Bossard started college in the Fall of 1994.
1994, the glory days. Not a care in the world for me [Max Jacobson]. I was coming into my own…as a 6 year old in Mrs. Morris’ kindergarten class at Walden Elementary! At that point in my life, my biggest concerns were making sure my parents didn’t find my explicit copies of Green Day’s Dookie or The Offspring’s Smash (both provided to me by my cooler older cousin). Something about third studio albums by pivotal 90s rock bands seemed to be the key to their success in ‘94. At 6 years-old, I knew and cared little of what was going on in the world outside of the playground.
However, elsewhere in a parallel universe, my father was working his tail off as a lawyer in his father’s law firm while getting his feet wet in various independent business endeavors. Little did he know that one of them, Covenant Services Worldwide, would still be thriving 30 years after its founding (and 13 years after his untimely passing in 2009). I’d like to think I spent those days absorbing his knowledge and business experiences via some strange form of osmosis, but we all know that methodology is flawed.
Just as true in 1994 as it is in 2022, Entrepreneurial and Family businesses continue to be the backbone of the American economy. While a lot has changed since 1994, my mom is still using AOL for her email, my older brother is still giving me noogies, and Green Day is set to headline Lollapalooza 2022…
In 1994 we made it to two years of being in business with only two employees working out of a small fabrication shop that my father [Adriana Osorio] was barely able to purchase. Little did he know then that the very same shop where they took on small fabrication orders for a nearby pizza manufacturing company and where they began building and installing metal fences throughout Chicago, would one day grow to become the go-to place for fabricators to access their metal supplies. My sister remembers being dragged out of college to help my father run the business. She would ride with him all over Chicago in his little pickup truck to the estimate appointments where she needed to translate back and forth from Spanish to English. She explains having a hard time with this as she did not know the industry jargon very well, much less in Spanish. My father would tell her “Didn’t they teach you this in college”?!!!! Those were the days!
ShopWare started in 1992 in the early years of CAM (Computer-aided manufacturing), offline software used to program CNC machines. Mastercam software was only a handful of years old (as was I [Bill Angsten] in 1994 😉) and looking to expand its sales geographically from the east coast and was bringing on resellers for their distribution channel. Greg Sump started ShopWare, covering the states of IL and WI. The business grew year over year and my father, Jeff Angsten acquired the company in 2007. We provide the software, training, and full customer support for the product, as well as some other manufacturing technology products. I joined in 2017 after selling my manufacturing automation startup. ShopWare added the state of IA and acquired the reseller based out of Indianapolis, adding the IN and KY territory and a terrific office of employees. We are also the educational reseller supporting Mastercam in high schools, trade schools, and colleges – trying to grow the skilled workforce! We’re now the third largest value-added reseller in the world. I became the third owner after buying the company in 2020. Greg’s son Matt is celebrating his 15th year of working at ShopWare during our 30th anniversary!
Celebrating 25 Years:
1994, I [Matthew Kaseeska] had been married for 5 years and had two beautiful daughters, Jordan 4 and Madalyn 2. I was working for Canon USA at the time and was building my career. I was a national support sharp shooter for all connected products for Canon across the USA. I traveled a lot and with a young family, it was hard. I kept learning, growing and getting more certifications that led me to a Consulting firm. Here I felt like I was “home” and in my element. I really enjoyed coming in and helping clients figure out tough issues with creative solutions. I ended up leaving the consulting firm a few years later and started Net Works Consulting Resources in 1997. By 1998, I had over 40 people working for me and never looked back😊
We cannot thank our members enough for sharing their past experiences and once again congratulate them on these milestone anniversaries. We are excited to celebrate with everyone on May 7th, 2022 for our Gala. For more information and to register please check out our event page here!