After 25 years as one of Chicagoland’s favorite casual eateries, Pilot Pete’s—like countless businesses around the world—hit a bit of turbulence around March 2020.
Shannon Thomas applied to the Next Level Northwest business accelerator program and was accepted in early 2020, less than a year after opening Knockout Prints. Her design, screen printing and embroidery skills attracted a number of customers while her on-time turnaround and standout customer service led to more referrals.
Chris Schiel started Xtra Mile Running in 2018 after working seven years in middle management and earning an MBA. “Xtra Mile Running is a ‘sit-n-fit’ shoe store that takes a complicated buying process and makes it simple for our customers,” Chris described.
With two locations on Chicago’s northside, Apple Villa Pancakes has been a breakfast and brunch destination for two decades. It’s no surprise; Andy Spentzos has this in his DNA. He started working for his dad’s restaurant at age 14.
Curtis Newborn will be the first to tell you he’s a photographer, not a business person. “I’m not a great salesperson; I’m a creative.” With a focus on the food industry, Obscura has enjoyed a client loyalty that is rare in its field
Located in Elk Grove Village, E-M Metal Fabricators is a small local company that specializes in end-to-end sheet metal design, fabrication, finishing, and assembly. As stated on their website, E-M prides itself in crafting high-quality products—100% made in the USA—that cannot be matched from imported products.
Rick Carlberg ACI, IBR has worked as a home inspector for over 21 years, but it was 17 years ago that he and his wife, Paulina, first established their business—The Housedoctors Property Inspections, Inc.
DJ’s Auto Service has been in business since 1993. They offer comprehensive auto repair services that include alignments, brake inspection, car and truck care, electrical services, engine maintenance, and much more. Three years ago its owner, Daniel Origer, also bought a body shop, called Estes Auto Body. Combined, the businesses are a big leap from where Dan first started.
Like many makers, Kyle Kiperman and Kornel Tadeuszuk started their cabinetry business unofficially in a garage. They built coffee tables and bookshelves for friends and family, and made it official in 2014 after people started placing orders. Operating out of Elk Grove Village, CraftedWild has become one of the premiere full-service cabinetry shops in the Chicagoland area, specializing in the design, manufacturing and installation of high-end modern and contemporary kitchens, closets and more.
As a popular maintenance, repair, and operations product supplier, Miller Industrial has served the manufacturing, skilled trades, and municipal departments in the Chicago area for almost a century. After three generations of family ownership, Peter Jackson was recently welcomed as the company’s new owner. Jackson started with the company with the intention of bringing his entrepreneurial spirit and innovative approach to the otherwise mundane world of MRO supplies. Discover how Jackson teamed up with Next Level Northwest business coach Jeff Williams to implement a new approach to market research, expand his network by connecting with like-minded individuals, and retain 100% of his employees during the COVID-19 pandemic.
When you’re looking to satisfy your sweet tooth, look no further than Country Style Donuts in Hanover Park, IL. Country Style Donuts bakes fresh, hand-cut donuts in addition to having a dazzling variety of ice creams, milkshakes, and breakfast sandwiches. Manan Joshi, the company’s founder, was looking to expand his business through the Next Level Northwest (NLNW) Business Accelerator Program. With the help of coach Sybil Ege, Country Style Donuts hired two new employees and projected 23% revenue growth. When the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in shelter-in-place requirements that limited how Country Style Donuts could operate, the company was able to leverage strategies they had developed during their NLNW engagement to stay engaged with the community, and is gearing up for a return to full operations.
Lakeshore Title, established in 1997, provides title insurance for real estate transactions in nearly every county in Illinois, and competes with some of the largest title companies in the Chicago area. CEO Min Bowler saw an opportunity to leverage Next Level Northwest's coaching to help refine and elevate their marketing presence, including redesigning the company's website to make them more attractive in a competitive marketplace. Following the program, Lakeshore Title's revenue is up 120% over the previous year, and the new website is not only engaging potential customers, but also helping attract new employees.
Clothes make the man. It’s a statement that Jeff Staten and Steve Long, co-founders of Hoffman Estates screen printers Blink Tees, have embraced in their business. “Blink Tees doesn’t just print custom t-shirts. We put your logo or idea on anything,” say the founders. Their desire to grow their business and make an impact in the community drove them to apply for Next Level Northwest’s (NLNW) Business Accelerator Program.
Acclaimed chef Julia Child would often remark how no one is born a great cook, but rather that one learns by doing. It’s a sentiment that’s equally applicable to entrepreneurship and led John Eggert, CEO and Executive Chef at Relish Catering Kitchen in Schaumburg to join Next Level Northwest’s (NLNW) Business Accelerator Program.
People don’t always set out to be first. Typically, they set out to do something they love. This was the case for Tom Tkaczyk, owner of Rada Auto in Elk Grove Village and the first graduate of Next Level Northwest’s (NLNW) Business Accelerator Program.