Monday, December 19, 2011

Housewife Turned Entrepreneur Now Runs Global Buisness Empire

Karen Wolters started her own business at a time in life when others might be thinking of slowing down. Not Karen! She invented and patented a kitchen tool which she manufactured in Taiwan and shipped around the world. In 1990—her group became the quality control department for The Pampered Chef for all product shipping out of Asia. Her company supplies quality products to Pampered Chef to this day.

As her company grew Karen explored other ventures including a magnetic induction technology for the modern kitchen and several other very successful ventures.

Karen is an avid supporter of encouraging entrepreneurship among youth. She was co-chair of the first CEO class in Effingham; an outstanding education program teaching entrepreneurship on a high school level. She believes the best part of success is being able to give back to your community which she does in so very many ways.

To view the entire TV interview with Karen Wolters CLICK HERE

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Entrepreneur's Business takes Flight

Bill Giannetti grew up in Chicago and attended Chicago Public Schools before graduating from St. John’s Military Academy in Delafield, WI, eventually landing at the University of Illinois where he studied aviation and marketing.

He began flight instructing at the old Illini Airport in Urbana while still in school. It was there that he met Chip Hussey a flight student he taught. The two became fast friends. At the time the owner of Illini Aviation was trying to sell his business and the two friends made a play to buy the operation. When negotiations fell through they decided to try to open their own business at Willard Airport instead.

They got their first operating agreement with the airport in December 1978 starting as Midstate Aviation Center, primarily a flight training business. From there they gradually expanded and grew the business in size and scope. Flightstar has been profitable for 20 straight years and now employs over 100 people.To view the TV interview with Bill Giannetti CLICK HERE

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Modern Dynasty in Insurance

I have known Don Bartos for quite a few years. He has always impressed me as a dynamic young executive who has a passion for business and for life. He graduated from Eastern Illinois University in 1996 with a Bachelors degree in Management. His career in insurance began shortly thereafter when he joined Country Companies Insurance. After 18 months of learning the business he decided that he wanted to work for himself and started an independent insurance agency. In 1999 the Bartos & Associates Insurance Agency was born. That was the beginning of what we now know as Dimond Bros. Insurance Agency today.

Albert and George Dimond originally founded Dimond Bros. Insurance in 1867. Since assuming the role of CEO of Dimond Bros. in 2000, Dimond Bros. has acquired more than 30 insurance agencies in Illinois and has more than 125 associates. Dimond Bros currently has 20 locations throughout the state and is now one of the largest independent insurance agencies in Illinois with premium sales in excess of $125,000,000. To what is already an impressive resume Don can add the following:

*President of DMB Inc., which is a commercial real estate company. Started business in 2007.

*President of "Homer’s" a package liquor business located in Paris. Purchased this business in 1994.

*President of Eagle Ridge Golf Course located in Paris. The company was purchased in 2011.

Born and raised in Paris, Illinois he still lives there with his family. He and Jessica have been together for 16 years and have two children Drake (5) and Myah (3). 

Towatch my interview with Don CLICK HERE

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The New Face of Film

Chris and Anne have worked in video production in Champaign-Urbana for over 6 years. As Railsplitter Media, they are passionate about using the medium of video to tell the stories of their clients, and strive to make it an option for businesses of every size. As Kill Vampire Lincoln Productions, they focus on creating narrative films that, above all, entertain. Their short films have been featured on VH1, The Big Ten Network, multiple PBS affiliates, and in film festival programs. Their projects have accrued over 250,000 views on YouTube. To watch the entire TV interview with Chris and Anne CLICK HERE

Monday, October 24, 2011

A Passion for Life!

Kristie and Niall Campbell of the Firefly Grill in Effingham are two of the most dynamic people I know. Firefly Grill is a dream that became a journey. Billed as a modern roadhouse situated in America’s Heartland. Their approach to food is simple-source the best ingredients possible and stay out of the way. Besides getting rave reviews from customers across the country the restaurant has a special sense of place all its own.

The menu features seasonal fare including produce from local farmers, foragers and their own garden right out side the restaurant! A visit to the Firefly is more of an experience than just ordering a meal. Weather its a table on the deck a stroll past the koi pond or a show at the professional theatre across the way the Firefly offers so much more than just dinner.

While the Firefly is a dream come true it was a national nightmare that started Kristie Samuels on a path that would lead her away from Wall Street and to her roots in central Illinois. After the events of 9/11 Kristie (who was a young wiz at a Wallstreet type firm) decided to re-evaluate her life and focus on what was really important. After an extended vacation on a tropical island she rediscovered her passion for life. A chance meeting with a brash young chef, Niall Campbell changed her life forever.

Before long the two were planning a life together and a new adventure in the restaurant business. To make a long story short they came to central Illinois with the idea of opening a new restaurant dedicated to creating an atmosphere and a sense of place. Anyone who has been to Firefly Grill would agree they have succeeded!

To watch the TV interview with Niall and Kristie CLICK HERE

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The New Renaissance

Dr. Donna J. Cox is a Professor in the the School of Art and Design, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the first Michael Aiken Chair. She is also the Director of the Advanced Visualization Laboratory (AVL) at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications and the Director of the Illinois Emerging Digital Research and Education in Arts Media (eDream) Institute.

Professor Cox is a recognized pioneer in scientific visualization for public outreach and has published on the importance of interdisciplinary Renaissance Teams and cinematic science. Her NCSA team and scientific collaborators have inspired millions with artistic virtual tours through data in astrophysics, atmospheric, and ocean science. She will tell us about her AVL research group, eDream, and the projects they create for IMAX movies and digital dome museums. To view the TV interview with Dr. Cox CLICK HERE

Monday, September 19, 2011

What Brave New World-Robotic Surgery

Provena Covenant Medical Center has acquired the most advanced da Vinci® Si Surgical System offering patients a less invasive surgical option that results in less pain, less scarring, a shorter recovery time and quicker return to normal activities.

“The new features of the da Vinci Si system will help us provide the best possible outcomes and is proof of our commitment to provide our community access to the latest advancements in minimally invasive surgery,” said Provena Covenant Medical Center President and Chief Executive Officer Mike Brown.

The da Vinci Si Surgical System is designed to provide surgeons with enhanced capabilities, including high-definition 3D vision and a magnified view. The physician controls the da Vinci Si, which translates his or her hand movements into smaller, more precise movements of tiny instruments inside the body. da Vinci Si technology allows the physician to perform complex procedures through just a few tiny openings. As a result, patients may be able to get back to life faster ― without the usual recovery following major surgery.

Often an effective, alternative to open surgery or laparoscopy, the da Vinci Si system is used in procedures that treat a range of conditions, including bladder cancer, coronary artery disease, endometriosis, gynecologic cancer, hysterectomies, kidney disorders, obesity, prostate cancer, throat cancer and uterine fibroids. Dr. Michael Smith has already begun using the da Vinci Si at Provena Covenant Medical Center for gynecologic surgeries.

“The da Vinci Si technology is truly remarkable because it allows the physician such precise accuracy during procedures and allows us as surgeons to avoid a large abdominal incision in almost every case,” said Dr. Michael Smith, Christie Clinic Obstetrician/Gynecologist and President of the Medical Staff at Provena Covenant. “My goal is for all patients to have the option of da Vinci Si assisted hysterectomies, if hysterectomy is indicated, because of the immense benefits it provides the patients.”

Hysterectomies are the second most common surgical procedure for women in the United States, and an estimated one third of all U.S. women will have a hysterectomy by age 60. Traditionally, abdominal hysterectomies are performed with open surgery, which requires a wide incision below the navel. This procedure can be painful, involving heavy pain medications, risk of infection and significant blood loss. After surgery, a long recovery (often six weeks) is necessary. In addition, many patients are not happy with the scar left by the incision.

For most women, da Vinci Si Hysterectomy offers numerous potential benefits over traditional surgical approaches, including:

  • Significantly less pain
  • Less blood loss and need for transfusion
  • Less risk of infection
  • Shorter hospital stay
  • Quicker recovery and return to normal activities
  • Small incisions for minimal scarring
  • Better outcomes and patient satisfaction, in many cases

The da Vinci Si surgical system at Provena Covenant also features a Skills Simulator only compatible with the most advanced da Vinci Si. This simulator allows physicians interested in training on the da Vinci Si the ability to practice their skills in a virtual environment at Provena Covenant instead of having to travel to a major metropolitan area to do so. Several physicians from the southern Illinois market have already inquired about training on the da Vinci Si at Provena Covenant Medical Center.

To watch the TV interview with Dr.s Huag and Smith CLICK HERE

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

To Watch the Cazoodle Interview: CLICK HERE

Cazoodle was established in August 2006, as a startup company from the University of Illinois (UIUC). The goal of the company is to make web-search broader and deeper, by accessing data beyond the reach of current search engines. The company was co-founded by Prof. Kevin C. Chang and it is supported by the University of Illinois with transfer of technology from the MetaQuerier projects.

The company’s mission is to help users make their decisions more efficiently such as when they're looking for apartments for rent, or deciding on which products to buy. In such situations, users often end up spending hours and hours checking on possibilities spread across dozens of websites. Cazoodle’s search engines aggregate information from thousands of online sources, creating a one stop-destination for users to quickly navigate through all their possible choices.

Kerris Lee is a great ambassador for Cazoodle and shares his passion for the technology while telling the story of a young start up company that just may soon be a household word to all of us!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A Man For All Seasons

I had the privilege of interviewing the new CEO of Provena Health for the TV show "One on One" Click HERE to Watch the Show.

Mike Brown is President/Chief Executive Officer of Provena Covenant Medical Center and Provena United Samaritans Medical Center.

Mike Brown was recently promoted to Regional President and CEO with oversight responsibility for both PUSMC and PCMC. A key aspect of Mike's new regional duties will be leading PUSMC and PCMC through the opportunities and challenges that will come about with Health Reform, including optimizing the synergies between the Urbana and Danville physician relationships and the clinical offerings. An accomplished healthcare executive, Mike joined Provena in 2005 as Chief Operating Officer and Chief Nurse Executive at PUSMC before being promoted to President and CEO in 2008. Prior to that, he served as the Chief Executive Officer at Hoopeston Regional Health Center, Hoopeston Illinois. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing, and an MBA in Organizational Leadership and Management from Franklin University in Columbus, OH.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Human Face of Business

The mission of Human Kinetics is to produce innovative, informative products in all areas of physical activity that help people worldwide lead healthier, more active lives.

Through an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) the company is largely owned by its employees!

Human Kinetics’ aggressive product output demands a productive staff, but the corporate mission of helping people lead healthier, more active lives also permeates the atmosphere at the Champaign headquarters. Fitness classes and exercise equipment draw employees to the workout room throughout the day, and rain-free days ensure pick-up basketball or tennis games in the courtyard. Other employees frequently join together to walk, and most take advantage of healthy subsidized meals in the acclaimed HK CafĂ©.

Employees are empowered to run committees that address community service, wellness, and social aspects of the company.

Brian Holding is the CEO of Human Kinetics, the world’s leading source of information on physical activity and based here in Champaign. Brian has been the CEO at Human Kinetics for the past 13 years after joining Human Kinetics in 1987. Throughout his career at HK, Brian has been involved with consumer product acquisitions, sales and marketing, and the development of international operations in England, Canada, and Australia. Before joining Human Kinetics, Brian was an acquisitions editor with Prentice Hall based in the New York City area. Brian is a journalism graduate of the University of Illinois and spent 7 years as a journalist before getting involved with book publishing.

To watch the entire TV interview with Brian Holding click here: WATCH TV INTERVIEW

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Father of Invention-Dennis Coleman of IsoTech labs

Dennis Coleman was raised in northern Wisconsin and received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin in Madison. He completed an M.S. degree at the University of Arizona in Tucson and a Ph.D. at the University of Illinois. From 1970 until 1995 he was on the staff at the Illinois State Geological Survey where he held various research and administrative positions. While at the ISGS he established a stable-isotope laboratory and conducted numerous research projects on the geochemistry of natural gas.

Dr. Coleman pioneered the use of stable isotope analysis to identify natural gas that had leaked from underground gas storage reservoirs and in the early 80’s developed an active consulting business applying that technique. To provide analytical support for that business, he and three colleagues founded Isotech Laboratories, Inc. in 1985. Since that time Isotech has grown to a staff of 42 scientists and support personnel. In 1995, Dr. Coleman retired from the Illinois State Geological Survey to devote full time to the operation of Isotech.

Isotech has become the primary laboratory utilized by the oil and gas industry for the isotope analysis of natural gas because of its reputation for high quality data and because of its development of IsoTubes® for collection and shipment of gas samples collected during the drilling of oil and gas wells. IsoTubes®, which are produced exclusively be Isotech, have become an industry standard throughout the world, simplifying the collection of samples and increasing the application of isotope geochemistry to oil and gas exploration.

In 2007 Isotech opened the first of its three Satellite Laboratories in Cairo Egypt, followed by Rio de Janeiro in 2008, and Perth Australia in 2009. The instrumentation installed in these satellite facilities is actually operated via the internet by scientists in Champaign. Isotech has thus been able to export its services without exporting jobs. A fourth Satellite Laboratory is scheduled to open in Oman later this summer, with plans for several more expansions in the near future.

Isotech became the largest privately owned stable isotope laboratory in the world and on June 6 of this year was acquired by Weatherford International, a company with over 50,000 employees in over 100 countries, and the fourth largest service company in the oil and gas industry. Isotech provides Weatherford with unique analytical capabilities not offered by any of its competitors. And Weatherford provides Isotech with a large network for the expansion of its Satellite Laboratory concept.

Dennis Coleman is also the founder of CU Woodshop Supply, Inc., a unique new business that supports his hobby of woodworking. This business offers a retail store that sells woodworking tools, machinery, and supplies as well as both domestic and exotic hardwoods. In addition, half of the 15,000 foot facility on Parkland Court in Champaign is The DreamShop, a state-of-the-art workshop. Working somewhat like a cross between a timeshare and a country club for woodworkers, stockholders in CU Woodshop Supply have access to the DreamShop for their personal use. To watch the entire interview with Dennis Coleman click the following link: WATCH DENNIS

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Local Company Makes a Big Splash With i-Pad Apps

Matt Hutton is the epitome the creative in us all. After graduating from Eastern Illinois University with a BFA in graphic design, Matt spent two years as a freelance graphic designer before working briefly as a designer for an e-commerce company. After that he joined one of the area’s leading advertising agencies. It was while serving as senior designer at the latter that his vision for a new agency was born. In 2000, he launched Spinlight — and never looked back. Since then, he has been the guiding force at the company, working closely with the rest of the Spinlight creative team to provide innovative branding and marketing solutions for a long roster of local, regional and national clients.

Lately Spinlight studios is making headlines with their new line of applications for the i-Pad and i-Phone. With a growing collection of titles such as SWAPSIES, ALPHA TOTS and TALLY TOTS these young entrepreneurs are taking the app world by storm. This interview was one of the most interesting and fun shows that I have done. I think we are watching a young company on the verge of making a national impact. To watch the entire interview with Matt Hutton click the following link. Watch Spinlight interview.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Sound of Music

The Samuel music story is really a story of family.

Lowell Samuel was a man who intended to leave a legacy. Growing up the son of a coal-miner in Southern Illinois during the depression, Mr. Samuel developed a love for music. Despite their poverty, his family somehow scraped together enough money to purchase a clarinet, and that started Lowell’s musical career.

Following his service in World War II he returned to Effingham to continue to teach, and it’s here he discovered an opportunity. With his wife Lucille by his side he decided to seize this opportunity, and borrowed $500 in order to open a music store. In those days almost every school had a band, and yet there was no convenient place to buy instruments and accessories. So in 1946, Samuel Music Company began.

With a degree in Economics and an MBA Dean Samuel taught college for eight years before joining the family business in 1984. To watch the entire TV interview with Dean Samuel click here: WATCH SAMUEL INTERVIEW

Saturday, June 4, 2011

NUVIXA'S Game Changing Technology!

Nuvixa was founded in 2009 at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign by a group of faculty and students who had a common desire to make video more useful in on-line communications. They shared the technical vision of using new sensing devices, advanced algorithms, and new computing power to radically expand what is possible with video.

Nuvixa's core competence is in computer vision and video processing. Supporting our efforts we have a team of world-class researchers and engineers who understand 3D acquisition, computer vision, depth-based video, video codecs and audio processing. Our revolution is only possible because of the excellence of this team.

Sanjay Patel is CEO and co-founder of Nuvixa. Sanjay has over 18 years of experience in cutting edge technology, having designed and architected some of the highest performance chips and processors. Prior to founding Nuvixa, Sanjay was Chief Technology Officer of AGEIA Technologies, which was acquired by Nvidia in 2008. Sanjay is on the faculty of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is a graduate from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. To see the full TV interview with Dr. Sanjay patel click here: WATCH SANJAY PATEL INTERVIEW.

Monday, May 16, 2011

A New Generation of Leaders-Meet Laura Frerichs

Laura Frerichs is Associate Director of Research Park and Incubation Facilities. She is responsible for managing incubation services at EnterpriseWorks, marketing the Research Park and supporting the University’s economic development efforts. The EnterpriseWorks incubator has 35 startup companies and offer labs, offices, and support services for entrepreneurs. Laura manages programming of events and services to support entrepreneurs and businesses in the Research Park.

Prior to her current role, Laura was Vice President of Business Development & Marketing at Fox Development Corporation. Laura was responsible for marketing the Research Park and supervised the leasing and marketing staff. She interacted with University of Illinois faculty and administration to attract companies to the Research Park. Laura worked with company officials to finalize lease terms and establish new research and development operations within the Research Park. Her business development accomplishments in the Research Park include new offices in Champaign for Yahoo, Qualcomm, John Deere, ADM, and Abbott as examples.

Prior to working for FDC, Laura was the Senior Account Manager of the East Central Illinois Region for the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. She worked with small businesses, local economic development organizations, and local government on increasing job opportunities in the region. Prior to joining DCEO, Laura was a Media Supervisor for five years at Starcom, a division of the Leo Burnett Company in Chicago. She was responsible for national media strategy for Allstate and Pilsbury brands while working at Starcom.

Laura is a graduate of the University of Illinois College of Communications and served as Student Body President at the Urbana-Champaign campus. Laura Frerichs was named “Woman of the Year” by Central Illinois Business Magazine for the Forty Under Forty business awards. She is active in the community and serves on the Board of Directors of the Champaign County Economic Development Corporation and Tech Advisory Board, Executive Club of Champaign County, University of Illinois Campus Alumni Advisory Board, Junior League of Champaign-Urbana, Parkland College Foundation Technology Division Head, Korean Culture Center Board of Directors, and volunteers in the community.

Laura and her husband State Senator Mike Frerichs live in Champaign, Illinois. They are proud parents of one year old daughter, Ella Frerichs. To watch the entire interview with Laura click here: WATCH LAURA'S TV INTERVIEW

Friday, May 6, 2011

Bringing His Success Home

Doug Wilson is the quintessential showman of the hit TV show Trading Spaces'. Armed with expertise gleaned from years of working with such luminary clients as Barbara Walters and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Doug's design choices purposefully push the edge of creativity. His engaging television persona has garnered Doug a place in modern media and in the hearts of fans across the country.

Despite living in New York and being on TV, Doug couldn't have come from a less show-biz background. Doug would like to say that he's from a small town in Illinois, but that's an understatement. The Wilson family resides outside the town limits of Broadlands, Illinois, population 350. Doug was raised on a farm that has been in his family for 150 years, giving him a strong foundation for his self-made success. Doug relishes his Midwest upbringing and uses the purity and serenity of his boyhood home as inspiration for his signature design style. To watch the entire interview with Doug click here WATCH DOUG WILSON INTERVIEW

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Lori Patterson-A Profile of One of Today's Top Leaders

Lori Gold Patterson has helped to set the bar for Champaign-Urbana’s growing tech sector. OJC’s success stems from Lori’s ability to identify and nurture top notch talent, challenge clients to expand their vision, and structure a company that can turn on a dime, thriving in the best and worst of economic climates. That’s why in the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, OJC has added new full time staff and is growing again this year.

Lori sees her own success as intrinsically tied to the success of every single OJC employee. She created a flexible, empowering workplace where every employee has a decision-making role in the company and is positioned to grow and thrive. As a result, there has been nearly zero turn-over of staff in 13 years. In 2011, Lori continues to innovate by leading OJC's launch of the "App Center", or Applicable Programming Center. Because the IT economy has again caused a shortage of skilled IT professionals and programmers, OJC is investing in training and skill-building in the C-U community to help people get a jump-start in a real-world high-tech career.

In its 13 years of operation, OJC’s employees have contributed hundreds of thousands of volunteer and civic hours to their community, their country, and the world at large. A winner of the 2011 Athena Award and Innovation Celebrations Excellence in Management Award Lori truly is one of today's top leaders. The see the entire TV interview with this outstanding leader click on the following link: WATCH LORI PATTERSON'S INTERVIEW

Monday, April 4, 2011

Maing A Difference-Gail Glende Rost

Gail moved to Champaign as a young child with her family of 5. After graduating from Central High School, she went on to the U of I and received her Bachelors of Landscape Architecture. After a short stint in the Chicago area, Gail returned to the University of Illinois to complete her MFA in Graphic Design. It was while having small children that she became certified in pre-school education and taught at the Creative Discovery School, moved into the volunteer world and served in the Junior League and did freelance work as a graphic designer. In League, Gail served primarily in the project area where she served as the State SPAC Chair for the Junior Leagues of Illinois, on the Board of Directors for many years and as JLCU President for 2 years. As Gail's children became independent, she went back to work part-time as the Foundation Administrator for the Champaign Urbana Schools Foundation. Today, 11 years later, she serves full-time as the Executive Director of the Foundation and the General Manager of The I.D.E.A. Store. Under her leadership, the Foundation has grown to provide a menu of options for the community to become financially involved with their public schools. From Master and SPLASH Grants, CUScholars, Scholarships, the Basic Emergency Services Fund and The I.D.E.A. Store, the Champaign Urbana Schools Foundation provides support for excellence in education and creative initiatives. Gail currently serves on the Provena Covenant Hospital Foundation Board, the Urbana Rotary Board as Incoming President, the Unit 4 Facilities Committee, the United Way Executive Directors Committee, and the Maker Faire Steering Committee. She is married to Craig Rost, has 3 children: Anna 26, John 24 and Christopher, 18. Gail loves to travel and is passionate about equal access to quality education.

To watch the entire interview with Gail Glende Rost CLICK HERE

Monday, March 28, 2011

Planting Seeds to Grow Businesses-CEO Tim Hoerr

This interview profiles Timothy C. Hoerr of Serra Ventures. Tim is the CEO of Serra Ventures, LLC, a professional services firm offering assistance in business strategy, capital formation, and organization development. He is also the Managing Partner of Serra Capital which provides seed and emerging stage funding to high tech companies in selected sectors. He serves as a transitional CEO for two start-up companies located in the University of Illinois Research Park, Cbana Labs and ImmuVen.

For nearly seven years, through 2008, Tim served as Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of iCyt, a rapidly growing bioscience technology firm which won numerous technology and business awards. The company was acquired by Sony Corporation in 2009. Tim was formerly a partner in the international accounting and consulting firm, RSM McGladrey, and is author of the book Thank God It’s Monday! He won the Entrepreneurial Excellence in Management Award at the Innovation Celebration in 2009.

To watch the entire interview with Tim Hoerr CLICK HERE

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Simply Amish-A Local Start Up With International Sales

Kevin Kauffman is the co-founder and owner of Simply Amish, a furniture company in rural Arcola. Kevin grew up in Douglas County, the second son of an Amish furniture maker. At age 20, Kevin left his father’s Amish workshop behind to help start what has become an international enterprise. It all started in 1979, when Kevin Kauffman and his brothers joined their dad, learning the finer points of furniture construction on the family farm. Putting his experience to good use, Kevin soon joined forces with his uncle, John Mast, to start a company that would pursue a much larger vision. Together, the two partners eventually linked an entire network of traditional Amish workshops with a modern distribution system. And furniture lovers everywhere rejoiced. Joined later by John's brother, Butch, and a fourth partner, Kent Patterson, they soon found their stride, transforming an innovative furniture distribution system into a great American brand. And Simply Amish was born.

Twenty-two years later, Simply Amish is a vibrant and thriving business in Central Illinois that connects Amish craftsmen and their furniture to international customers. Having grown the company from two to 45 employees, Kevin keeps his finger on the pulse on all aspects of the operation – from furniture design and product development, to sales and customer service. To watch the TV interview with Kevin Kauffman CLICK HERE

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Watch Paul Tatman's Interview on One on One With Alex Ruggieri

“Paul Tatman is and has been a mover and shaker in the business world, throughout the Midwest, radiating from his base in east central Illinois. Many have been the times when others believed an effort by Paul Tatman to be hopeless or useless, but he has managed to make it successful with apparent ease. Paul is a consummate entrepreneur - conceiving, creating, developing, and birthing business ventures, solo, as well as in concert with others. I can't count the number of successful start-ups he has kicked off, many times turning them over to, or selling them to others to administer, and most of these are still successfully in operation. He has started and operated a variety of business plans starting with his very successful multi-location collision repair business, a construction company focusing on commercial properties, a towing and recovery operation, several real estate ventures, and other endeavors. Paul Tatman is painfully honest, works tirelessly, has an extremely logical, creative, and analytical mind, and is comfortable in settings with persons of all stations in life. His most outstanding character trait, by far, is his faultless integrity. He is also a wisely generous man, with many individuals and entities owing him a debt of gratitude for his financial and personal help.” To view my interview with Mr. Paul Tatman in its entirety CLICK HERE

Thursday, February 17, 2011

A Word From Peter Colvin-Nation NNN Team Leader For Sperry Van Ness

2010 Sperry Van Ness Year End Summary

Single Tenant Investments

By Peter Colvin

National Director of Single Tenant Investments

Sperry Van Ness

Many owners of strip centers and office buildings got their first taste of single tenant investments in 2010, and they liked it…a lot. No vacancies, little or no management and no phone calls from tenants that could no pay their rent. What a refreshing change!

As a result, many buyers focused on finding and purchasing quality single tenant assets, leased long term to credit companies, with little or no landlord responsibilities. This shift increased the demand and the supply of good properties was gobbled up quickly. Prices increased as cap rates lowered across the board, rivaling 2007 rates. Low interest fueled the demand.

For investors in the $4,000,000 + range, the stars of the show were Walgreen’s and CVS. Cap rates dropped nearly ½ point in the last quarter as REITS, trusts and families outbid each other to win the assets. The average drug store cap rate was approx 7.7% at year end. Sperry Van Ness had several successful drug store transactions. Some listings drew as many as 10 offers, driving up the price for our listing clients. One offer in Miami secured a purchase price $500,000 higher than the other nine offers on the same property. We found the best buyer.

In the $2-$4M range, restaurants like Applebee’s and Macaroni Grill were gobbled up. Over 100 Applebee’s were bought by investors as the Dine Equities sale/leaseback of Applebee’s and the Mac Acquisitions LLC sale/leaseback of Macaroni Grill units were placed with individual investors. Cap rates dropped nearly ½ point in the last quarter as the supply tightened. Average cap rates ended the year at approx 8.25%. Sperry Van Ness sold a large share of these properties.

In the $1-$2M range (the most active price range) bank deals, especially ground leases, were sought after. Advance Auto and O’Reilly’s topped the discount auto parts arena. Small portfolios of Burger Kings, Pizza Huts and other brand name QSR’s were sold one-off as investors hunted for well located sites leased to popular brands. Average cap rates ended the year at approx 7.7%. Sperry Van Ness advisors were major players in this arena, selling numerous portfolios.

In the under $1M range, dollar stores became more and more attractive to investors seeking strong credit at an affordable price point. Family Dollar and Dollar General were the most active in that niche. Dollar General adjusted to investors’ needs and introduced the Triple Net 15 year lease. This brought first time dollar store buyers off the sidelines. Average cap rates were higher on dollar stores than other types, mainly due to many being in smaller town locations with less land value. The cap rates ended 2010 at 9.2%. Sperry Van Ness was a market dominator in Dollar Stores.

What to expect in 2011: The key word will be “Sale/Leaseback”. The pent-up demand for growth and remodels by companies and growing multi-unit franchisees is strong. Instead of taking on more debt, many will fund their growth and remodels by using their real estate equity, especially since it has increased due to rising values. Many institutional buyers that would not buy franchise backed credit in the past are now more than happy to do so.

Sperry Van Ness has anticipated this explosion and has formed “Easy Leasebacks”. ( This innovative group of single tenant specialists is matching portfolios of single tenant properties with the best buyers. It is helping growing companies sell their assets in the fastest, most affordable and confidential way possible to fund their growth without taking on additional debt. Easy Leasebacks is having great results.

Reverse sale/leasebacks caught on as fast growing trend in 2010. Sperry Van Ness Advisors helped many developers build new single tenant properties by bringing in investors to buy the land and fund the construction. This kept things going while banks stopped lending or required too much cash from the developer. This trend should continue for a long time. Investors get a little better cap rate as a bonus for coming in early, so it is a win-win for both investors and builder/developers.

Dollar stores should continue to sell briskly as more and more people make a decision to cash in their low yielding bonds and CD’s for a long term 10% + cash on cash return. Investors continue to seek bank and fast food ground leases, well located restaurants, discount auto parts and drug stores. 2011 should be a continued healthy market for high quality, well located single tenant properties. Banks seem to agree and got more aggressive in lending on these in the 4th quarter of 2010.

Sperry Van Ness gained a much larger market share of Single Tenant transactions in 2010 as sellers realized that to get the best offers, a property needs to get maximum exposure. The buy pool changes often, with new investors coming into the market every day. The platform of exposing properties through new social media networking and unselfishly sharing commissions with the entire brokerage community has worked very well. It helped investors to find their deals and sellers to meet their pricing goals.

Some of the top single tenant specialists from Marcus and Milichap and other national companies joined Sperry Van Ness in 2010 and enjoyed great success in their new-found sharing and team support. Many of the 2010 transactions involved multiple advisors teaming up for the greater good.

As a single tenant specialist and leader of a fantastic team of professionals that put their clients’ needs ahead of their own, I look forward to another great year in 2011!


Peter Colvin

National Director of Single Tenant Investments

Sperry Van Ness

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Tiesta Tea gets Launched!

Dan Klein, Bobby Moynehan and Patrick Tannous of Tiesta Tea are taking the tea industry by storm. Tiesta Tea strives to provide the highest quality custom blended teas in the world, all of which are scientifically formulated to provide a specific health or mood result. The idea for the company started during a study abroad trip to Prague. One night when wandering the streets of Prague, they stumbled upon a traditional Czech tea house and ordered a famous fruit tea called Granny's Garden and were impressed by its full flavor and taste. This experience helped them realized how important coffee and tea shops were to the fabric of European society. They asked why not the U.S? Inspired they returned home to found Tiesta Tea and today are striving to reinvent the world of tea, with style and taste. They first received recognition for their unique company when they enter the ILLINOIS LAUNCH competition at the University of Illinois's Academy of Entrepreneurship. After a successful introduction of their concept people started to get excited! They received recognition from successful business people who then in turn helped nurture the fledgling company. This was one of my most favorite interviews in recent memory. To watch the episode in its entirety CLICK HERE

Effingham's Arts Connection

Effingham is amazing community. When a group of local businessmen decided that the city would benefit by having an arts and performance center they raised the money and built one! Later when the economy and other factors threatened to close the doors the local community stepped up and made the arts center public to ensure is long term feasibility. In this interview I speak with Janie Oldfield, director of the arts center.

Janie came to Effingham, IL in January 2009 to direct the activities of The Rosebud Theatre. Today she is Executive Director of the Arts Connection of Central Illinois, operator of the not-for-profit Effingham Performance Center. Her career spans more than three decades and includes three + years as Director of Manship Theatre in Baton Rouge, LA; seventeen years, including five years as Director of Performing Arts, at the McAninch Arts Center at College of Du Page, a suburban Chicago public community college; five years coordinating arts and lectures programs at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory and four years in student activities programming at Northern Illinois and Illinois State Universities. She earned a Bachelor’s degree at De Pauw University in Greencastle, IN and a Masters Degree at the University of Missouri-Columbia. This is truly an amazing city and the story of the arts center is more proof that Effingham is a can do community. To watch the entire interview with Janie Oldfield CLICK HERE.