President’s Welcome

It is my pleasure to present the 2018 GOA Regional Business Association and Elk Grove Chamber Business Resource Directory. The businesses listed in this publication are dedicated to keeping this region one of the most vibrant regions for business in Illinois.

Our mission is to grow & sustain a strong business community by promoting business and personal development through networking, education, marketing and advocacy.

Our professional staff, board members and committee volunteers strive to keep our programs current and relevant to the everchanging needs of business. You can find information on our annual events and monthly programs at

I encourage you to use this directory as a resource when looking for products or services you need in this region. If you don’t see what you’re looking for call our office at (630) 773-2944 and we’ll be happy to help you find what you need.

Shirlanne Lemm
President & CEO

Meet the GOA Team

Char Morris
Financial Administrator

Michele Henry
Director of Membership

Shirlanne Lemm
President & CEO

Jamie Cheesebro
Director of Events & Sponsorship

Laura Goldberg
Member Services

Lexy Bouziotis
Marketing Coordinator

Harper Workforce Solutions

The college is increasingly tuning into the specific needs of the business community that surrounds it and initiating a wide variety of programs that will attract and train students who could eventually be employed by those businesses and fulfill their ongoing needs. In this way they are helping young people find meaningful and lucrative work at the same time that they are contributing to the success of area businesses and the health of local communities.

“In order to meet critical workforce needs in the surrounding community, we know that we have to be connected to area businesses,” said Michelé Smith, associate provost and vice president of workforce solutions for Harper. “We are a comprehensive college where students can be trained to go to work, go back to work in a new field or progress to the next level in their job. That is our promise to the community.”

In addition, students at public high schools in the Harper District (Districts 214, 211 and 220) may qualify for two tuition-free years at Harper, as well as a first shot at job opportunities at local businesses, through the Promise Scholarship program which is supported by over 80 local businesses. To qualify, students must demonstrate solid grades, a good attitude and service hours. In addition to receiving free tuition, they are given the opportunity to participate in mock interviews and job shadowing and are given access to preferential hiring.

Research shows that by the year 2020, two-thirds of jobs will require some sort of education and training beyond high school. To increase access to a college credential and help build a prepared workforce, Harper College launched the Promise Scholarship Program in partnership with local schools and businesses. Students at public high schools in the Harper district (Districts 214, 211 and 220) can earn two tuition-free years at Harper by demonstrating solid grades, good attendance, quality work and service hours. In addition to free tuition, more than 80 local businesses are committed to providing Promise Scholars with opportunities such as mock interviews, job shadowing and preferential hiring.

“We are very fortunate that so many area businesses want to come to the table with us and offer scholarships to our students. We also have many robust advisory committees in our various areas of study, making sure that we prepare our students well for futures in their employ. They have learned that they can trust us to train our students well, so they want to collaborate with us and influence what we teach,” Associate Provost Smith stated.

To that end, Harper College, through its Business Solutions program, provides customized, professional training programs to help employers stay competitive and their employees gain new skills. Harper consultants work with companies and organizations to plan and offer tailored training experiences. Its cost-effective programs deliver value where, when and how businesses want them to be delivered.

Through its “Business EdVantage” program Harper also makes college tuition affordable for all area employees. Taking advantage of Haper’s EdVantage program allows companies to stay competitive and provide a higher education career path for technical, professional, office and management staff members alike. All businesses within the Harper District can have their employees enroll and take college credit courses at the in-district rate, no matter where they happen to live.

Area businesses that are losing skilled workers to retirement may hire apprentices to rebuild their workforces through Harper College’s Registered Apprenticeship programs. These programs currently range from precision machining to supply chain management, industrial maintenance and banking and finance, as well as business insurance. And there are more programs on the horizon.

Apprentices can graduate debt-free and already employed. Harper’s partner employers will hire a student, pay them a salary with benefits and pay for their education. Harper’s Registered Apprenticeship programs effectively meet the needs of employers and job seekers or career changers. A minimum Harper College GPA of 2.0 is required to be eligible for these programs.

Area businesses may also fill job openings by interviewing Harper College students and graduates. They can place their openings on the Harper College online “Hire A Hawk” job board through the Job Placement Resource Center at no cost.

With Hire a Hawk, businesses can post their open positions and have Harper students and alumni apply directly through the site, at no cost to them.

Harper College also helps small area businesses through the Illinois Small Business Development Center at the Harper Professional Center in Schaumburg. Many companies need expert help most when they are still small and can least afford it. The Illinois Small Business Development Center at Harper offers no-cost, confidential, one-on-one guidance and workshops to help small business owners achieve marketing, financial and operational success.

Their talented team of seasoned business advisors will help small business owners identify, understand and overcome the challenges of running a successful business. From someone who has an idea for a home-based business to an established company in need of capital to finance their next stage of growth, they work closely with clients to find solutions that work best for them.

In addition, Harper recently established a “Shark Tank-style” program that awards funds to expanding businesses and seed money for startups. With the help of a generous gift from Barrington-area philanthropist Kim Duchossois, the “Dream Big – Angel Grant” benefits selected recipients from both the community and Harper’s entrepreneur program. The recipients are chosen by the Harper entrepreneur program faculty, college foundation board members, and staff of the school’s Small Business Development Center.

In the first year community recipients included Richard McCaffrey of Inverness who got $10,000 to help launch and patent technology that performs robotic casting of concrete modules that can be used in construction of apartments, hotels, dorms and hospitals; Ana Santos and Mario Vitelo, owners of Brazil Express Grill in Schaumburg, got $10,000 to help market their casual Brazilian steakhouse, start catering and possibly open a second location; and Megan Hastings of Des Plaines got a $5,000 grant for her gluten-free cookie subscription box company, Lush Bites.

In addition, Harper has solicited and received a number of scholarships from area businesses which make higher education or continuing education a possibility for students in the area. For instance, Northrop Grumman and Schneider Electric both offer engineering scholarships and Nation Pizza offers a culinary arts scholarship, as well as one in mechatronics. Other benefactors offering scholarships at Harper College include the Motorola Solutions Foundation, Chicago White Metal Casting Inc., Chicago Prime Steakhouse, First Bank of Highland Park and Wintrust. The Harper College Educational Foundation works with the donors to determine the criteria for each particular scholarship and oftentimes the scholarship providers sponsor events at the College and offer tours of their facilities.

Finally, don’t forget that the Harper College Wojcik Conference Center is available to host local firms’ business meetings. It offers state-of-the-art meeting facilities for groups from five to 250. A multi-tiered auditorium, small meeting rooms and a hotel-class dining room at the Conference Center can serve virtually anyone’s meeting requirements.

Workplace Cyber Security

“Be sure you’re always talking to your IT support provider about the best ways to keep your company’s information secure,” he advised. Use modern hardware and software for starters, Bremner said, be sure to only use modern hardware and software that’s designed for business, and diligently apply patches EVERYTIME the vendor releases them.

People sometimes think that software upgrades are just about money, making things faster or adding features, and that hardware just needs to be replaced before it falls apart. The reality, however, according to Bremner, is that competition is forcing continuous improvement in the capabilities of the hardware and software we use. Makers of these products have to keep improving them, or they’ll be left behind. So, companies must draw a line when it comes to supporting their old products. It doesn’t pay to support the older stuff, and it makes more sense for them and for you, to upgrade to the latest.

Install those security patches

All systems have bugs that the “bad guys” can use to exploit your information. It’s the vendors’ job to patch those bugs and it is your job, as an owner or manager of a system, to install those patches.

One recent Windows patch, for instance, issued by Microsoft in March, 2017, prevents vulnerability to the EternalBlue method of spreading ransomware. But unfortunately, many businesses (and individuals) are slow to install security patches. In May 2017 that slowness had a high cost as the WannaCrypt ranomware outbreak (spread using EternalBlue among unpatched systems) caused up to $1 billion in damages worldwide, according to some estimates.

On your home devices, run updates regularly when they become available. And stop using old, unsupported software like Windows XP and older browsers like Internet Explorer versions 6-10.

“That sounds simple, but it continues to astound me how often this advice is ignored, with disastrous consequences – just think Equifax!” Bremner says.

Only use systems designed for business

Don’t run your business on consumer grade and “home” versions of products.

Business-focused vendors are more on top of fixing the security-related bugs that they become aware of than the consumer-focused ones. They know their customers are protecting valuable information, and rely on these products to meet industry compliance requirements. Better security is one of the reasons such systems cost more.

Hardware and software firewalls and filters are baseline now. It’s expected that if you’re running a business, you’ll have a high quality, up-to-date firewall/security appliance, preferably with web content filtering and in-line malware scanning. And it’s expected that you’ll have some anti-malware software on your computer and a decent spam filter on your inbound email. And if it’s doing its job and being kept up-to-date, it’s likely fine.

Identity is the key to everything

Securityin the modern workplace revolves around your identity, Bremner states. The principle of knowing and proving who you are is the key to granting you access to resources and data for which you have appropriate permissions. Mot times that job falls to a password, which is usually too easy to crack, he says. So make sure you use strong passwords, don’t re-use them on multiple sites and don’t write them down or save them in a document on your PC.

But as we all get more and more accounts to keep track of, it’s nearly impossible to follow these three rules, he cautioned. Our memories just weren’t built for it. The answer is a password manager.

A good password manager will let you follow all the above rules with very little inconvenience. It will generate long, random passwords for you, it will remember them and keep them encrypted, and it will auto-fill them in for you as you browse. You remember only one password, the one for the password manager, and it unlocks the rest.

“For business use, I recommend something like LastPass Enterprise or IPassword for Teams,” Bremner said.

Protect against ransomware

Ransomware typically runs under the user account of the person who accidentally launched it, and has all the same permissions as that person. If the user has access to a mapped drive to a server, then the ransomware can encrypt those server files, too, not just the local PC that got infected. This is one reason Bremner strongly recommends that companies only give employees access to the files and folders they need to do their jobs.

“Opening up permissions to everything for everyone, even if you trust them, increases your vulnerability in the event someone’s PC is compromised,” Bremner said. “Even managers and IT administrators should not have administrative privileges on their regular user accounts. They should run as ‘regular’ users, and have a separate account with escalated privileges that they log into only when needed for a specific task.”

Protecting against malware is a constant effort that requires a multi-layer approach. No “silver bullet” will guarantee absolute protection, but the best defense if you are affected by ransomware is to have a solid backup strategy, he added.

“A strategy that includes onsite and offsite backups, including continuous backups of changed files to the cloud, is best. This two-pronged backup strategy has allowed us to get clients back up and running quickly with little-to-no loss of data, and without paying any ransom,” he said. “It is never recommended to pay a ransom. You’re dealing with anonymous, dishonest criminals, and there’s no guarantee that they’ll give you anything after you pay them.”

Social Engineering

“Today’s reality is that you are more likely to be hacked by social engineering, or by someone guessing or hacking your password. A simple email, a website or maybe even a phone call, could trick you into revealing something, downloading spyware, or granting access to someone. Then your fancy firewall has been rendered useless,” he noted.

Phishing is a specific type of social engineering using an email that appears legitimate, to deceive you into revealing sensitive information. With any email you receive, Bremner suggests you follow these security tips:

  • Beware clicking links in emails – hover over the link to see the ACTUAL destination, which might be different than the hyperlinked text would lead you to believe.
  • Is it really from who it says it’s from? A common tactic is to impersonate someone you know. The email address might be different even if the name is someone familiar. Is your contact referencing an actual conversation you had, or a shared interest you’ve discussed, or is it very generic? If it is generic, don’t click the link.
  • The IRS won’t email you. Delivery companies won’t email PDFs or ZIP files that you’d need to open to get a package delivered to you. Your bank won’t ask for your password through email.
  • Microsoft will never call you to tell you they found a problem on your computer and that they need to connect remotely to fix it.
  • If it seems like it’s from a legitimate business, but you’re not sure, open your browser and go to that business’s site manually instead of clicking the link.
Other tips
  • A significant part of computer security consists of safe computing practices by end-users, i.e. don’t open attachments you don’t recognize or weren’t expecting, don’t visit unsafe websites, etc. Be especially wary of documents sent by email that you weren’t expecting.
  • Purchase a Meraki security appliance to constantly scan all inbound traffic and block any network traffic that appears to be a virus/malware. It is also helpful to block certain web sites that have the potential to spread malware.
  • Use up-to-date antivirus software as an important layer of protection.
  • Enable 2-factor/multi-factor authentication for important accounts whenever available. Most commonly this consists of entering a password, then getting a text or call and entering the code they send you. You’re verified by something you know (password) and something you have (phone). Even if a thief gets your password, without your phone he still doesn’t get access.
  • Lock your screen when you walk away from your computer.
  • Password protect your mobile devices.
  • Don’t email sensitive information unencrypted. Regular email isn’t secure. Unless you are using a secure email system, consider sharing sensitive files through a secure cloud storage platform (like OneDrive for Business), or encrypting the file before sending it.
  • Avoid clicking on ads and if something randomly pops up that says it found 17 urgent problems on your computer, don’t click on it.
  • Install AdBlock Plus or similar ad blocker in your browsers.
  • Update your operating system and software with available patches. With. Software developers, generally speaking, will update their latest versions with old software, you’re vulnerable to known security holes that have already been fixed in the newer updates.
What else can we do?

Security is not an exact science, and there is always more that can be done, according to Bremner. It’s a balancing act between increasing security and avoiding disruptions and frustrations for users.

“Businesses need to strike a good balance between “safe within reason” while still maintaining ease of use on the one hand, and being “locked down” but making things more inconvenient for users on the other,” he explains. “Part of that balance is assessing the likelihood of an attack, and the impact it would have, versus the loss of productivity caused by overly restrictive policies.”

Dan Bremner started Castema Technology Services, Inc. ( in 2002 to provide businesses with information technology advantages previously only available to larger and higher budget organizations. He can be reached at (847) 749-1350.

Managing Online Reviews and Reputation

In fact, according to the Harvard Business Review, businesses receive a nine percent increase in revenue for every star they add to their online rating and a poor Yelp rating can kill a restaurant.

That is why online reputation management has become crucial, according to Thomas Varghese, president of eBizUniverse, a digital marketing agency based in Schaumburg since 2007. Online reputation management is the practice of monitoring the internet reputation of a person, brand or business in order to promote trust and suppress negative mentions entirely – or at the least, push them lower on search engine results pages to decrease their visibility.

In today’s world, virtually everyone is online in some form or fashion including your customers (both happy and unhappy), your prospects and your competitors. Information about you and your company is out there in blogs, forums, social media and customer reviews. Even former employees can be out there commenting.

Bad reviews can hurt the big boys like Walmart – but they can KILL a small operator.

Great reviews, on the other hand, can help a business get new customers, retain existing customers, get more sales and profits, maintain a positive brand image and close more deals.

In order to maintain your online reputation, you have to remain vigilant, Varghese said. He suggests that businesses be proactive, not reactive. So they should respond to and interact with consumers online. They should also monitor online conversations about their business and create and distribute positive content about their business regularly.

For instance, they should actively seek reviews from satisfied customers in order to boost sales and conversions of others who are active online. You can do this by offering coupons, discounts and free samples to those who submit a review. You can refer your customers to your business listings on CitySearch, Yelp, Google Places, etc. You can place a call to action on your product pages and thereby ask for reviews. Or you can link your business listing profiles to your website, Varghese suggested.

But you can’t stop there if you want to succeed.

“Flood the first page of applicable search engines with positive, branded content like a well-ranked website with your brand name as the domain, articles, videos, press releases, photos, blogs, search engine optimization, tips, helpful tutorials and other useful content,” Varghese said. “You should also make sure that you are listed consistently across the many available platforms like Yahoo!, Angie’s List, bing, Google, etc. and that customer testimonials are showcased.”

Also, take advantage of social media. Set up your social profiles. Then post daily and provide users with educational content that will even help them solve problems.

Next, leverage the various video platforms like YouTube, Vimeo and Dailymotion. Publish your videos and optimize them by adding titles, tags and descriptions. Before long, they will start appearing on the first page of applicable Google searches.

And if you are an individual looking to manage your online reputation, don’t forget to create virtual business cards for you (and your employees) using,, or

Once you have all of that working for you, be sure to stay engaged and active, Varghese said. Don’t just sit back and ignore your online presence. Actively monitor online conversations to see what people are saying about your business. Frequently check your blog and website for customer comments. Do a Google search for your business name and see what pops up. Check articles, blogs, forums and customer review sites to see if anyone mentions you or your firm and pay close attention to the social network sites.

Once you hear what people are saying, you can respond to both positive and negative comments. But no matter what you hear, be sure to be respectful and display a helpful, friendly demeanor. It is also important that you quickly offer a solution to any problems that arise.

Doing this builds relationships, shows people that you actually care, allows you to manage and control your brand and gives others the opportunity to see your point of view.

Ignoring what people are saying or responding emotionally to bad reviews, on the other hand, can potentially tank your business … so don’t do it! Promptly address the issues raised by your unhappy customers. But don’t argue with anyone. Know when to walk away if you can’t please an individual. But if you can make them happy, then ask politely if they would reconsider the negative reviews they posted.

If you get sidetracked and don’t check those online comments for a week or a month, only to find that negative comments and reviews popped up while you were otherwise occupied, all is not lost, according to Varghese.

He suggested that you respond by using online reputation management to drive down the negativity, create and submit a flurry of press releases, articles and videos, create a blog and submit fresh, unique content regularly and engage in social media to build a loyal following. Remember that brand optimization needs to be your main focus.

Since everyone also has a business to run and products or services to provide, no business owner can spend hours and hours searching for damaging online comments and monitoring their online reputation. So Varghese suggests relying to some extent, at least, on tools that automate these tasks like

It provides service by finding and amplifying the voices of happy customers, reaches unhappy customers before they bash your business on review sites, gives you the time to handle a negative customer experience and turn it around, automates review request campaigns, uses one dashboard to monitor and manage reviews seamlessly and helps make sure that only the best reviews are projected on your website.

Thomas Varghese and eBizUniverse can be reached at or by phoning (847) 592-6224.