Businesses that provide cutting-edge products and services to residents and other neighboring businesses transfer their success to their community. Having exciting, successful businesses in our community draws consumers to Arlington Heights, which, in turn, makes the community more attractive to others looking to expand or open new businesses.
Business of the Year
New businesses generally take some time to gain steam and make an impact on a community. But that has not been the case with @properties, a real estate firm that opened an Arlington Heights office in July 2018. It has blasted out of the gate and continued to gallop (to use Arlington Park terminology).
In its first full year, @properties’ 120 Arlington Heights-based agents did $135 million in sales in Arlington Heights alone and interacted with 332 local buyers, earning more market share than any competing firm.
“Previously, I was the managing broker for the Arlington Heights office of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage and when I decided to move to @properties, many of my top agents followed me,” said Stephanie Szigetvari, vice president of Brokerage Services. “@properties focuses on the customer experience by offering top-notch marketing and innovative technology to agents. But, in the end, they stay because of the office culture. They feel respected and it is a fun place to work.”
@properties was founded in Chicago in 2000 by two former real estate agents and it has been growing ever since. In fact, it is currently rated the No. 1 brokerage in the Chicago area with 2800 agents in 32 offices.
“When we won this award from the Arlington Heights Chamber, we felt both honored and surprised,” Szigetvari said. “The other nominees have been around for a while so it was overwhelming to be recognized at this early stage of the game.”
Business Leader of the Year
Until five years ago, Colin Gilbert was a successful real estate attorney who happened to enjoy wine. Then he had the opportunity to purchase the very successful Tuscan Market and Wine Shop in Arlington Heights from its retiring founder and, now, five years later he has been named “Business Leader of the Year” by the Arlington Heights Chamber.
Now Gilbert does law by day and wine by night, he quipped.
Gilbert, an Arlington Heights native and graduate of Hersey High School, has been a Chamber member for many years. In fact, he was serving as Chamber vice president when he purchased the market and became chairman of the board soon thereafter.
During Gilbert’s tenure as chairman of the board in 2015-2016, he oversaw its transition from a “working board” that expected board members to be very hands-on in the running of annual events, to a “governance board” that leaves more of the responsibility for running events to the paid Chamber staff. The Chamber currently has three staff members.
Three years later, Gilbert said, “the new structure seems to be going great!”
Small Business of the Year
Imagineering Studios Inc., which has been based in Arlington Heights since 2011, received the “Small Business of the Year” award. In existence since 2000, Imagineering Studios is owned and run by the Kou family. Services are focused on visual production which includes video production, photography, graphic design and web work, as well as audio recording, primarily for businesses, according to Tim Kou, director of visual production.
“We primarily support businesses that either don’t have a marketing department or have a marketing staff that needs support with producing good visual content for their marketing and advertising efforts. We can also help clients with social media content including videos and almost any type of photography,” Kou said.
In fact, they have produced the video openers at the Arlington Heights Chamber of Commerce’s award dinner for the past four years. They also recently assisted with rebranding the Chamber’s website, logo, materials and promotional videos.
“We felt hugely honored and surprised by the award,” Kou said. “We enjoy partnering with the Chamber, partly because of the added visibility, but it also allows us to share any success that we have with the business community. We offer a variety of services that are unique in this suburban area and it gives us a great opportunity to show businesses
what we can do for them.”
Emerging Business of the Year
Arlington Heights’ beautiful and engaging downtown needs to maintain a plethora of exciting food and entertainment attractions to regularly attract diners, theater lovers and music enthusiasts to its picturesque streets. People generally choose their destinations based on the food and entertainment offered, not just on the beauty of the streetscapes.
Chip Brooks and Chris Dungan got to know each other through their work with the Metropolis Theatre. Brooks had been in law and Dungan owned a pharmaceutical company. Both love music, so they teamed up to open the Hey Nonny music venue and bistro in fall 2018. In January 2020, Hey Nonny was named the “Emerging Business of the Year” by the Arlington Heights Chamber of Commerce.
“Both of us love music and hated that we had to travel so far to hear high quality acts. So, we wanted to open a venue in our own town,” Brooks said.
And that is what they did. Hey Nonny is a flexible two-room operation with a bistro on one side of a retractable wall and a 110-seat music venue on the other side that offers a variety of music concerts, monthly storytelling, cabaret shows, trivia nights and live music weekend brunches. The place is alive with zydeco, blues, jazz, bluegrass, country, rock and even classical/chamber music and “musicians love the acoustics in the space so they are happy to return,” Brooks said.
“Many music lovers buy tickets for their favorite shows well in advance and have dinner in the bistro before the show,” he added. “We wanted to bring a really good restaurant and a great music venue to Arlington Heights and we have done that.”