Business Profiles

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Walter E. Smithe Furniture & Design
Walter E. Smithe Furniture & Design is a well-known and prolific part of Chicago area life with ten showrooms around the area. But few realize that this venerable family business is based in Itasca and has been for years.

“Itasca is central to the market we serve,” explained Colleen Smithe Parker, Director of Advertising. “Having our warehouse and offices here makes it easy to get to our showrooms and our clients’ homes.”

Colleen and her three sisters are the fourth generation of Smithes to become involved in the family’s furniture business. Their great-grandfather, Walter E. Smithe Sr., opened an appliance business with a partner in 1945 and his son, Walter Jr. convinced them to devote a corner of their appliance store to custom furniture in the mid-1960s.

Before long, Walter Jr. and his brothers, Gary and Tomm, opened a custom sofa and chair store in Park Ridge. But when he wanted to expand further, his brothers declined and they ended up owning and running the appliance store while Walter took over the furniture side of the business, basing it in the suburbs because he understood that they were becoming the place to do business.

In 1982 Walter Jr. sat down with his son, Walt III, and they incorporated Walter E. Smithe Custom Furniture.

“We looked at the map of the Chicago area and realized that it formed a crescent. So, we decided to open stores throughout that crescent, from north to south, so that all the stores were within a half hour of each other,” he said in a 2016 interview.

Today, Colleen and her sisters, Meghan, Maureen and Caitie, are integral to the business, handling advertising, sales strategy, buying and design, respectively. Their father, Walter III, is president and his brother, Mark, is vice president and the firm’s general counsel.

“We work very hard to make sure we can serve all furniture buyers in Chicago, regardless of their style preferences and budgets. We want everyone to come home to a beautiful home and our designers make that happen,” she explained.

Custom Security Electronics

Custom Security Electronics is a custom security system installation contractor and service provider which has been part of the Itasca community for 11 years. Owned by Michael Chelberg, the firm provides fire and security systems, closed circuit cameras, card readers, intercoms and access control, primarily to commercial/office buildings throughout the Chicago area, including parts of Wisconsin and Indiana.

“We primarily work with property managers and building owners who have everything from small storefronts to hi-rise office buildings,” Chelberg said. “We help them determine their needs, sell the electronic systems, install them and then service them, as needed.”

Custom Security Electronics mixes a variety of brands in their installations, choosing the best products from each line and having them work together — like Honeywell security systems, Bosch motion detectors and GRI door contacts.

“We always choose the highest quality, most reliable products for our installations, not the cheapest ones,” Chelberg explained. “We only install for customers products that I would want to use in my own home or business.”

Chelberg started Custom Security Electronics 29 years ago after working in the commercial security systems division of Honeywell and then for a Park Ridge locksmith who wanted to also offer security systems. Soon he opened his own company, working from home at first. Today he has seven employees and does 90 percent of his business with commercial clients. The remaining 10 percent is done with apartment and condominium managers.

“We often work with contractors who are renovating office buildings and occasionally work with general contractors who are building new structures,” Chelberg said. “Other installations are done for those who want updates to an aging system or want a system where none has existed.”

“Most of our business is done through word-of-mouth recommendations from former customers, so we have to do good work and exceed our customers’ expectations if we want to stay in business,” he continued.

They recently joined the Itasca Chamber in order to provide our services and get to know businesses in their own backyard. Custom Security Electronics can be reached at 630-775-1100.

Itasca Foot & Ankle
Drs. Marie Schlund and Alex McKanna at Itasca Foot & Ankle can treat any foot or ankle-related injuries and illnesses you might encounter, from ankle fractures to bunions to diabetes-related issues and beyond. They also offer orthotics and braces customized to fit patients individually.

For over 30 years, Dr. Schlund has served patients from all over the Chicago area, alleviating chronic foot pain and treating conditions to promote healthy feet. She has recently been joined by Dr. Alex McKanna, a Minooka native and graduate of the Dr. William M. Scholl College of Podiatric Medicine. He joined Itasca Foot & Ankle last spring after serving a three-year foot reconstruction surgical residency at Franciscan Health Dyer Hospital in Dyer, IN.

Since joining the Itasca practice, Dr. McKanna has also become a member of the Itasca Chamber of Commerce in an effort to get to know the community and publicize his addition to the popular practice which treats bunions, hammer toes, Charcot Foot and other diabetes-related issues, wounds, nerve problems, sports injuries and more.

He performs surgery at three surgical centers, as well as at four hospitals – AMITA Adventist Glen Oaks Medical Center in Glendale Heights, AMITA Adventist Medical Center Bolingbrook, Northwest Community Hospital in Arlington Heights and Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge. Patients with serious infections and pain are also often admitted for treatment.

“I have wanted to be a podiatrist ever since I was about 12. My uncle was a podiatrist and I spent a lot of summers in his office, observing and helping out,” McKanna explained. “So, I love my job. It has been an honor to join Dr. Schlund’s very well-established practice. She has been doing this longer than I have been alive.”

“I joined the Itasca Chamber to get to know the area and to let people get to know me. I treat every patient as if they were my own family member and I want people to understand that about me. I also want to be able to recommend a local business if I patient asks me. So I need to get to know those local businesspeople.”

Itasca Foot & Ankle is located at 209 N. Walnut Street (next to the train station) in Itasca. To schedule an appointment, call (630) 773-2478.