Ambassador of the Year
“Scott Fishkin is truly the Ambassador of the Year!” proclaims Chamber President Adriane Johnson. “He has attended more meetings and events than almost every board member, and he’s a strong supporter and promoter of the Chamber. Scott serves on the BG Days Committee, Ambassadors Committee, Golf Committee, Special Events Committee, Marketing Committee and Financial Partners Committee.”
Calling Buffalo Grove home for both his family and his business for more than 20 years, Fishkin owns Scott R. Fishkin & Associates insurance agency. “I do a lot of long-term-care insurance, Medicare education, long-term care planning and life insurance,” he said. “A lot of agents will do everything on the phone. I’m available for personal consultations, at my office or your house.”
“We moved to Buffalo Grove to take advantage of its excellent education system for our two sons,” Fishkin said.
Board Members of the Year
Ronnis Oher, LifeMaps
Chamber Board Member of the Year Ronnis Oher turned a sense of humor and a talent for drawing into an unusual business called LifeMaps.
“I got the idea in 1980 when I was an elementary school teacher and assigned my students to do a map of their lives,” she recalls. She began creating life-story maps as gifts for grownup friends and colleagues, and they started asking her to create maps for people in their lives. LifeMaps, the business, was born in 2002.
Oher’s diverse career also has included teaching meditation, corporate training and owning a human resources consulting firm. She currently volunteers for a local reading/writing program for those with English as a second language.
“Serving the Chamber is very important to me,” she said. Since joining the board in 2016 she has chaired the Marketing Committee, the Golf Outing and the Ambassadors Program.
Marian Rodriguez, CARSTAR Mundelein
After two years on the board, Marian Rodriguez clearly has made her presence and influence known. She handles all the social media for the Chamber, posting multiple times each day, informing the membership and community at large about events of interest and gaining visibility for the members. She takes photographs at Chamber and member events as well as community events from both villages, often creating and posting videos. Marian serves on six committees and chairs the Marketing Committee.
When not bustling around at Chamber activities, she is marketing manager for CARSTAR Mundelein and also photographs and participates in events all through Chicagoland. She loves spending time with her niece and nephew, her two beloved dogs, and Randy her other half.
Small Business of the Year
Len’s Ace Hardware
Len’s Ace Hardware traces its roots to the early days of the worldwide Ace Hardware co-op. Len and Mary Grimsley started their first hardware store in Addison in 1959, and when it joined the Ace network in 1962, it was just the 426th Ace store. Today the co-op includes 5,300. Len’s Ace now includes six stores and is owned by Len’s grandson, Len Grimsley III.
The Grimsleys expanded into Buffalo Grove in 2017 by purchasing the longstanding Zimmerman Hardware store at 745 S. Buffalo Grove Road. “We offer a more personalized service than the big-box stores,” said Assistant Operations Manager Ken Huff. “We don’t care if you buy one light bulb or 50. We greet everybody and think of ourselves as ‘the helpful place.’”
“Len’s Ace Hardware is a dedicated member who has sponsored several chamber events in 2018 and given back to the community,” said Chamber President Adriane Johnson.
Middle-Sized Business of the Year
Blackdog Speed Shop
“Our passion for racing stems from our pure love of automobiles,” owner Tony Gaples said of the Blackdog Speed Shop and Racing Team of Lincolnshire.
Gaples began racing in 2000 for Lake Forest Sports Cars. In 2002 he formed his own team and ran with SCCA club racing until mid-2003, when he ran two professional races and never looked back.
They got many requests to help other car owners, so in 2006 Tony opened Blackdog Speed Shop to help fund the racing program by working on other people’s street and race cars.
In 2018, Blackdog moved to a new headquarters three times as big (60,000 square feet) and also opened up a performance-car auto dealership. Each year Blackdog hosts the Chamber’s Casino Night, helps operate Buffalo Grove Days and raises funds for several charities.
Large Businesses of the Year
Legacy Healthcare and U.S. Bank
Two firms shared the Chamber’s Large Business of the Year honors in 2019 – US Bank and Legacy Healthcare.
US Bank is a key affinity partner of the Chamber, offering credit-card processing to members. The bank also sponsors Buffalo Grove Days and is active in the Business Referral Network.
Legacy Healthcare has been a “name sponsor” of the Chamber’s golf outing for two years and gives back to the community, as well as supporting many chamber events.
Legacy is a fast-growing provider of residential health care consulting services. It manages 52 nursing, rehab, assisted-living and supported-living facilities in four states. Locally, a campus along Jamestown Lane in Lincolnshire houses the Warren Barr Lincolnshire skilled nursing and rehabilitation facility plus the Wellshire Lincolnshire assisted-living facility. Another campus, along Checker Road in Long Grove, houses the Avantara Long Grove skilled nursing and rehab facility.
Member of the Year
Kenneth Huff, Len’s Ace Hardware
Kenneth Huff, who oversees operations at the Len’s Ace Hardware store in Buffalo Grove and is training coordinator for all six Len’s Ace stores, earned one of two Chamber Member of the Year honors. In the words of Chamber President Adriane Johnson, “Kenneth Huff has consistently sponsored and attended key Chamber events, and he has hosted various community events while promoting the Chamber.”
But Huff said the real credit for the Buffalo Grove store’s success should go to Manager Tom Brinkman, who he said has been a “staple” at the Buffalo Grove store for decades before Len’s bought it from the Zimmerman family in 2017. “Without Tom Brinkman, the store wouldn’t be what it is,” Huff said. “People come in and say, ‘Hi, Tom, how are you?’”
Member of the Year
Ashley Johnson, Vernon Area Public Library
“People think about the library as a place for books and children’s programs and DVDs. But they also should think of the library as a place to grow their business,” said Ashley Johnson, the business outreach librarian at Vernon Area Public Library.
Chamber President Adriane Johnson (no relation) said the librarian earned Chamber Member of the Year honors by “being instrumental in building on the success of the Business Referral Network, developing special educational programs for the business community and actively participating in and supporting Chamber events.” She also helped start a Young Professionals Group that Ashley said “offers young people a path to Chamber membership and gets them involved in what Chamber membership means.”
For entrepreneurs, the librarian leads one-on-one instruction and group programs that teach business people how to develop Google profiles and Facebook pages.
“I’ve always focused on getting to know the people in the community and finding ways to connect them with one another,” she added.