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Oh, where to begin the epic story of Illini…

The Beginning

As a lad, Roger Rosenthal dreamed of becoming a Chief Curator of America's finest art museum or a Master Sommelier to serve in the Napa countryside. When that didn't pan out, he realized architectural openings were the next best thing.  In 1972, when the earth was still cooling, and doors were thought of as a hip gimmick; Roger Rosenthal began his epic expedition into architectural openings at the age of 18. He worked in Chicagoland for 12 years, then went abroad… to Texas (pronounced TE-has) for 5 years to experience and learn the international world of doors, frames, and hardware.  He returned to the Chicago area where he joined Illini Hardware Corporation or IHC. The group that owned IHC eventually spun the hardware division off which opened up the door for Roger to acquire Illini Hardware in the mid-'90s.  He leveraged everything he had and with the support of his wonderful wife Jody; IHC was born into the form we know and love today.

If you could get all the people in an organization rowing in the same direction, you could dominate any industry, in any market, against any competition at any time.

- Patrick Lencioni

The Middle

Roger knew bringing in others around him who would bend to his will and who could learn to share his passion for excellence would yield success. His experience and continuing education (reaching the lofty title of AHC or certified Architectural Hardware Consultant) allowed IHC to take on challenging applications that others typically shied away from.

With the likes of Jeff Shike and Aaron Anderson joining ranks in 1998 (and who are with IHC to this very day) and others, Illini began to take a foothold in the Chicago marketplace as a "go-to" source for doors, frames, and hardware. IHC became known for working with a sense of urgency, integrity, and fanatic attention to detail. Roger also recognized the talents of his loving wife Jody. Jody served as Sales Manager for many years until she finally saw an opportunity to retire and watch some grandkids!

Illini Hardware originally resided in Bensenville, IL but has recently relocated HQ to Bristol, WI which is much closer to home for all staff.

The Future


Paul Rosenthal (Roger's son) decided to hang up his tool belt and try his hand at the industry that stirred the fire in his father’s eyes for so many years. Who can blame him? With long hours, low wages, and countless opportunities to fail; what else could one ask for? But a chance to work with your Mom and Dad in the family business is priceless! Paul first studied products and applications relentlessly and continues to pursue any knowledge regarding the field whenever he can. He then decided to shake things up with business technology advancements; and hired his talented friends whom he could take advantage of.  The neo-nepotism method is validated in the faces that grace the hallowed halls of what is now IHC. Paul serves as President and leans on the team that is Illini to continue what Roger started.

The office renovations are complete and the team is primed and ready. What does the future hold for Illini?  Endless possibilities for a small business that will provide the service and knowledge that our clients expect and deserve.  We can’t stress enough how much we appreciate every order that we are awarded, and the lasting relationships we forge with our general contractors.

Come around the Bristol, WI area on a Friday afternoon and stop in.  We'd love to see your smiling face and share a laugh!

You might even catch a glimpse of Roger himself, who stops in to teach the kids a thing or three…

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