Oh, were do we begin on this crazy journey of Illini Hardware. Well, let's start at the beginning I guess. As a lad, Roger Rosenthal forever dreamed of becoming a Chief Curator of the America's finest art or a Master Sommelier to serve in the Napa countryside and when that didn't pan out, he realized architectural openings was the next best thing. In 1972, when the earth was born, Roger began his epic architectural opening expedition at the ripe age of 18. "Wars or doors" as they said back then. He worked locally for 12 years, then went away for 5 years and was involved in the international world of doors, frames and hardware. He returned to the Chicago area where he joined Illini Hardware. At that time, Illini Hardware was owned by a Holdings Group. They eventually spun the hardware division off which opened up the door for Roger to acquire Illini Hardware in the mid 90's. He leveraged everything he had and with the support of his wonderful wife Jody, lets just say 'stuff got real'. He then proceeded to bring others in around him and start a grooming process in which he held striving for perfection and taking on challenging applications that others typically shied away from.
With the likes of Jeff Shike and Aaron Anderson joining ranks right out of high school (who work here to this very day) among others, Illini began to take foothold in the Chicago marketplace as a "go to" source for doors, frames and hardware with a sense of urgency and integrity and attention to detail.
Illini Hardware resided in Bensenville, Gurnee and then to Crystal Lake, IL for a larger building to support the staff and warehousing, then to where we are now in Bristol, WI which is a breath of fresh air as we all live within about 15 mins of this 2nd home we call work.
Roger even pulled in the talents of his loving wife Jody where she served as Sales Manager for many years until she finally saw an opportunity to retire and watch some grand kids!
Roger's son Paul decided to hang up the tool belt and try his hand at this passion he saw burning in his father's eyes that is this industry. Who can blame him, long hours, slave wages, what else could one ask, but hey, you get to work with your Mom and Dad and no amount of money can buy that! As Paul studied product and application he then decided to shake things up with business technology advancements; then started to hire his friends that he could take advantage of. That method failed once or twice but did bear fruit of some true talent that resides in these hallowed halls. Paul now serves as Vice President and leans on the team that is Illini to continue what Roger had started.
Yes, we had some people depart.......and then come back, but we are grateful for all who serve here. Every family has growing pains and we are no different. We live, learn, adapt and get better. That's the point of life, isn't it?
The 'Ladies of Illini keep the heart of Illini pumping. Constant support and multitasking abilities separate them from all others. Do they have the ability to stand with the boys?...well, yes, yes they do. Are they funny....duh. Are they the best, of course! Cora, Sarah, Sherretha, Sarah, and Lindsey all feverishly harness the craziness of ridiculous expectations and for that, we thank them.
With office renovations complete, we have a refresh with new stuff and who doesn't like "stuff". What does the future hold for Illini? We don't know; remember we are small business and we don't have teams of people forecasting data we can't wrap our heads around. We know that we appreciate every order that we get and we love building lasting relationships with our general contractors.
So if you are around the Bristol, WI area on a Friday afternoon, stop in. We'd love to see ya and share a laugh!