Business Profiles in Barrington

Barrington 220 Educational Foundation Inspires Students’ Passion for Learning
Passion is not only a key word in the mission statement of the Barrington 220 Educational Foundation, but also a critical element in the success of the nonprofit organization that supports the students and staff of the Barrington 220 School District.

“Our mission is to encourage curiosity, inspire students’ passion for learning and career exploration, and provide enriching opportunities through private funding,” said Executive Director Mary Dale. “The foundation has been successful because of its passionate, talented and hard-working trustees, our generous event sponsors, community members and parents, as well the dedicated staff and board members of District 220.”

Founded in 1999 by community members who were passionate about supporting educational efforts in Barrington, the Foundation has since donated over $3.5 million in funds to District 220. “The Foundation has made possible both major innovative projects and smaller teacher grants that benefit all students from our earliest learners in kindergarten to our young adults in high school,” Dale said.

Major 220 Foundation projects have included the Business Incubator – a two-year business entrepreneurial project that teaches teamwork, collaboration, creativity and business skills; BHS-TV; Project Lead the Way, a four-year engineering program at BHS; Health Sciences Lab, which provides the Certified Nursing Assistant curriculum; and the STEM Robotics curriculum for kindergarten through fifth- graders. 

Each year the 220 Foundation also offers financial Helping Hands grants to individual teachers to provide extra resources and supplies, and Projects for Innovation and Enhancement grants to help teachers implement new programming.

Amazingly, all of this work is accomplished by a volunteer board of 15 trustees, a small volunteer pool and two part-time employees including Dale. “Our focus is to encourage, inspire and enrich the students in District 220,” Dale said.

Fusion of Flavors & New Space Draws Community to Big Iron Horse BBQ
A lifelong passion for cooking, a lot of hard work and a love of the Barrington area has led Scott Hansen to create Big Iron Horse BBQ restaurant and bar as a destination for the community. “It has been a lifelong passion of mine to own a restaurant and I really like that each day is always new,” said Hansen, whose initial curiosity with cooking started when he was a young boy.

“My grandmother was an awesome cook. I got my first job as a fry cook and within weeks I knew I wanted to be a chef,” Hansen said. Hansen’s boss encouraged him to explore different types of cuisine and venues such as restaurants, country clubs, banquet halls and hotels.

“I was initially drawn to Italian, French and American cuisine, but as time passed BBQ became one of my favorites,” Hansen said. “In 2012 I purchased a smoker to re-ignite my passion for cooking. I soon realized that BBQ and Caribbean cuisines were closely related and my top two favorites.” This discovery prompted Hansen to combine the two flavors in a fusion-style BBQ with barbacoa as the base.

After determining the focus of his cuisine, Hansen opened Big Iron Horse BBQ at its original location. However, when the space at 205 Park Ave. in downtown Barrington (adjacent to McGonigal’s Pub) went up for sale, he seized it. “I had been patiently waiting for the perfect spot to open up and when this space became available, I immediately knew it was a great opportunity.”

Since then, Hansen and his team have worked toward their goal of creating a destination for the community to gather and enjoy a meal or a relaxing time out. The new décor and custom bar are a focal point of the restaurant, which features items like smoked beef brisket, pulled pork and baby back ribs. Local area distilled spirits are also served, along with whiskeys, bourbons and scotches.

Crème de la Crème Early Learning Center Strives to Set Children Up for Success
A creative, multi-faceted curriculum that sets children up for future success is just one of the many reasons Crème de la Crème Early Learning Center goes beyond basic day care. “Crème de la Crème programs educate the whole child and prepare them to become well-adjusted adults in today’s evolving world,” said Executive Director Erin O’Sullivan.

The early learning center located in the Arboretum of South Barrington provides care for children 6 weeks to 12 years old using a unique program that offers a rotation schedule of enrichment rooms throughout the day. Enrichment rooms consist of Music, Art, Computers, STEAM Lab, Coconut Theater, Second Language Library, KREME TV, Gym and a Creative Movement Studio.

“Our teachers take pride in what they do, the children thrive in our schools because they are engaged with and interacted with throughout the day.” Crème de la Crème also has three playground areas for infants, toddlers & twos, and preschool to school age, which includes a basketball and tennis court, as well as an on-site waterpark during the summer.

“Children’s first years of development are so important. Oftentimes families struggle to find a school with a balance for academics while meeting a child’s needs. Our schools excel in these areas, and more,” O’Sullivan said. In addition to academics and care, Crème de la Crème hosts family-friendly events. “Every year we host an end-of-summer bash and invite current families, past families, and any potential families from the area to attend. We also conduct back-to-school night.”

According to O’Sullivan, knowing her center is providing a safe and secure place for children and families is the drive that keeps her going. She acknowledges that working in this field is challenging, but also very rewarding. “Every day I get to connect with our future leaders and have a chance to make a positive impact in their lives.”

New Day Care Center Dogtopia Caters to Your Furry Children
Kara Ferguson knows she is at her best when she is surrounded by animals. In fact, she will do anything for animals.

“I once ran the Ragnar relay, which is a running relay race from Miami to Key West,” Ferguson said. “It takes place over two days and was quite the adventure!”

Seeking adventure is exactly what led Ferguson to work with dogs and open Dogtopia of Deer Park at 21540 W. Field Pkwy. The new center is the franchises’ 100th doggy day care center in the country, and a place where you can safely leave your furry friend for a good day of work, rest and play.

“At Dogtopia, we believe in safe socialization, exercise and education for your furry child,” Ferguson said. “Our center provides the utmost in quality care.” Ferguson said they group dogs by similarities and size, and watch them in a supervised environment that you can access via their live webcams. “Even our boarding services offer your pup an open-play environment to get them the socialization, exercise and education they deserve,” she said.

Ferguson switched gears in her career because she wanted something more meaningful than her 9 to 5 job. She worked in insurance for 20 years, but always had a passion for dogs.  She has volunteered countless hours with Second City Canine Rescue, Chicago Animal Care and Control and Safe Humane Chicago.

“My love of dogs started at an early age,” Ferguson said. “In fact, when I was in high school, I told my parents that I wanted to start a business where I would watch other people’s dogs.”

Opening Dogtopia is the culmination of her dream and passion. “When you do what you love, the work comes easy.  I am now surrounded by dogs each and every day and it gives me so much joy,” Ferguson said.

Dentistry with Hart Focuses on Compassion
A trip to the dentist is not everyone’s favorite mission; but Drs. Aggie and Iwona Iwaszczyszyn of Hart Dental, 728 Northwest Hwy., Barrington, are on a mission to transform your relationship with your dentist.

Both admittedly super nerds dedicated to a continual cycle of education, the mother-daughter team aim to work differently.  In addition to general dentistry, Dr Iwona also focuses on TMJ, facial pain and headache treatment along with sleep medicine; Dr Aggie is focusing on implants and early orthodontics.

“We are genuine, honest and compassionate in our care,” said daughter Dr. Aggie Iwaszczyszyn. “We do not do gimmicks; we do not sell dentistry.  We acknowledge that dentistry is sometimes an intimate, scary subject and we want everyone to be comfortable, well taken care of and happy. We value customer service – we treat our patients how we want to be treated.” 

Their involvement in mission work lead them to open their own practice and influenced their approach to work. Dr. Iwona has volunteered at the Chicago Dental Society Clinic and brought Dr. Aggie to work Illinois’ first Mission of Mercy, where dental professionals set up a free clinic for needy families.

“We saw people who were scared of the dentist, either due to cost or pain, and wait for hours to be seen. It was inspiring to work with them in such a way that you see people’s fears melt away and their pain or embarrassment dissipate,” Dr. Aggie said.

“Our goal at Hart Dental is to be different. We offer complimentary consultations, we are in network for many insurance providers, we offer online scheduling for those too busy to call, we stay open until 8 p.m. during the week and offer Saturday and Sunday hours and we use quality American-made materials,” Dr. Aggie said.

Their approach is certainly working out. “We love being able to transform someone’s smile and their relationship with their dentist.” Dr. Aggie said. 

Long Grove Confectionery has the  Recipe for Longevity and Sweet Success
After Long Grove Confectionery Company opened a small retail store in the historic district of Long Grove in 1975, demand quickly grew for its delectable homemade chocolate candies, chocolate-dipped strawberries and other “sinful” favorites. “We like to say we sell happiness – that shows when we see the reactions of the people we serve,” said owner Craig Leva.

As the business grew, manufacturing within the small confines of its retail space became extremely challenging, so in the early 1980s the Confectionery opened a 25,000-square-foot manufacturing site in nearby Buffalo Grove. By 2001 an addition was added to the factory, increasing its size to 85,000 square feet.

“I purchased Long Grove Confectionery in the summer of 2013,” Leva said. “At the time, I needed additional space and capacity for another chocolate business I own called Arway Confections. Both businesses are family-owned companies with a mission to offer significantly higher quality confections for wholesalers, retailers and consumers.”

In 2017, the Confectionery moved from its original store and built a flagship site at 114 Old McHenry Rd. in Long Grove, which includes a new confectionery retail store, along with its new apple kitchen and the addition of Long Grove Coffee Company.

Leva, who enjoys travel in his free time and is passionate about giving back through philanthropy, is equally enthusiastic about his work. “I am passionate about the quality of the products we provide, as well as working with our incredible team of people who make what we do possible,” Leva said.

“We provide our customers with quality products delivered with a sense of pride, friendliness, warmth, and outstanding customer service. This formula has been a successful model, and we are proud to have created a combined business that places us among the top 50 confectionery manufacturing companies in the United States.”

‘Doug the Shoe Guy’ Turns Tootsies Into A Unique Barrington Tradition
After 21 years in Barrington, Tootsie’s Owner Doug Pekarek, aka “Doug The Shoe Guy,” is thrilled with his store’s recent move to its premier retail space at 150 S. Cook St. in Barrington.

“Tootsies is now more than a women’s and children’s shoe store. It has become a location for unique shoes for ladies and a stalwart children’s shoe store – one of the last to sell Stride Rite® shoes in Chicagoland,” Pekarek said. He and his team provide personalized service that only a local shop can provide, “We strive to sell happiness and satisfaction in every pair of shoes.”

What first attracted Pekarek to own a shoe business was the ability to fulfill his dream of becoming an entrepreneur:“It was just too exciting to pass up!” As for settling in Barrington, an opportunity arose to learn about a new point-of-sale program especially for shoes, which piqued his desire to know more.

“My past skills in the shoe industry made it easy to be hired as the buyer for Tootsies Shoes in 1998. I purchased part of the business, bought the rest in 2003, and became known as Doug ‘The Shoe Guy,’ owner of Tootsies,” Pekarek said. The title works well for him.

In addition to his enthusiasm for providing the best shoe selection and service in the area, his interests include a passion for car karaoke, and supporting Native American Indians.

Pekarek also champions the cause against those who bully others. “Tootsies carries the WordsCount clothing line, which donates a portion of their profits to programs that support children who have been bullied,” he said. “It’s one of several lines of apparel and accessories we carry that helps make Tootsies a unique brand and store.”

Turning Point Offers Multi-Generational Approach to Wealth Management
Marsha Werner and her son, Financial Advisor Lee Werner, come to work every day to help people make the most of their opportunities and overcome their roadblocks. The mother/son team of Turning Point Wealth Management of Raymond James believes that wealth advisory is not just portfolio management, but life management.

“We are a mother and son partnership that spans a broad range of generational, gender and professional reference points,” said Marsha Werner, Vice President Investments. “We like to tell people we are a baby boomer and a millennial bringing together all the best aspects of both viewpoints.”

Turning Point Wealth Management, 425 Martingale Rd., Ste 760, Schaumburg, specializes in wealth management for individuals and families experiencing turning points in their lives. These points may include death of a spouse or parent leading to an inheritance; retirement leading to the need for detail tax strategies or income replacement; or a divorce/remarriage calling for education and detailed financial planning. “Our wealth advisory is designed to go above and beyond traditional asset management. The goal is to find solutions that meet the needs of each client and their distinctive situation,” Marsha said.

“By nature we are both curious and inquisitive people,” Marsha said. “We are interested in who our clients are and what is important to them.” 

That approach is rewarding, Marsha noted. “My career has spanned over 30 years and I enjoy seeing the plans we put into place for our clients being fulfilled. From putting together college savings plans with the goal to educate young professionals, to retirement plans aimed at funding dream trips around the world, we love being a part of that process for our clients.”

Working with her son, she now has the opportunity to pass on all that knowledge and experience. “Our work is a reflection of who we are and what we believe,” Marsha said. Raymond James & Associates, Inc. is a member of the New York Stock Exchange/SPIC.