CRYSTAL LAKE – Passion was on display at the 27th annual McHenry County Economic Development Corp. dinner as local business leaders gathered to honor the 2017 Business Champions.
On Tuesday, more than 400 business leaders from all over the county gathered at the Crystal Lake Holiday Inn, 800 S. Route 31, to celebrate businesses that bolster both the local economy and the local community.
Diane Hendricks, chairwoman and co-founder of ABC Supply Co. Inc., was the keynote speaker. She talked about how core values and passion led her and her late husband, Ken Hendricks, to create the Wisconsin-based business that now has 700 locations in 49 states.
Hendricks said those core values – which include respect, family and philanthropy – guided the couple through the hardest times in her business career, including interest rates being as high as 20 percent in the 1980s, while her main focus was real estate.
“It was hard,” Hendricks said in her address. “But I don’t regret a darn thing, because we made it through.”
Hendricks emphasized the importance of making time for family, such as dinners around a table every night and spending time outside with her children on the weekends. She said that she’s proud of what she accomplished, but that there’s more work to be done in her own business and in the community, particularly in changing education to reflect the constant advances in technology.
She also told the attendees that it’s going to take the involvement of industry and community leaders to actually help that kind of educational advancement and reform for the next generation of business owners.
John Smith, co-owner of Miller Formless in McHenry, said he had an entire acceptance speech prepared for his championship award. But, he said he was inspired by Hendricks’ comments and that he could relate.
Smith said the McHenry-based midsized automated paving systems provider had similar beginnings.
“My mind is all over the place,” Smith said. “What an incredible story.”
Other business leaders honored during the dinner also shared comments about their beginnings in the community. George Richardson, co-owner of Richardson Farm in Spring Grove and one of the winners, said the business started in the 19th century when his family was first drawn to McHenry County, which started as more of a traditional farm.
“It would take us too many years to kind of figure out that we like talking with people a lot more than we like talking with pigs,” Richardson said.
These businesses were named as McHenry County Business Champions for 2017:
• Small Category (fewer than 24 employees): Utility Business Media – Crystal Lake
• New agritourism category: Richardson Farm – Spring Grove
• Medium Category (25 to 100 employees): Miller Formless – McHenry
• Large Category (100 to 300 employees): H.S. Crocker Co. Inc. – Huntley
• More Than 300 Employees: Brake Parts LLC – McHenry
The event also celebrated longtime MCEDC leader Pam Cumpata's tenure at the organization.
McHenry County Economic Development Corp. 2017 Business Champion Finalists
First Division: Small (fewer than 24 employees)
Henderson Products, Inc. – Huntley
*Utility Business Media – Crystal Lake
*Richardson Farm – Spring Grove
Second Division: Medium (25 to 100 employees)
G & M Manufacturing – Crystal Lake
Image Industries – Huntley
*Miller Formless – McHenry
National Gift Card – Crystal Lake
Third Division: Large (100 to 300 employees)
Dean Foods – Huntley
*H.S. Crocker Company, Inc. – Huntley
TEQ – Huntley
More Than 300 Employees
*Brake Parts LLC – McHenry
Follett Solutions – McHenry
Knaack – Crystal Lake
Source: McHenry County Economic Development Corp. Asterisks denote category winners.