“After I graduated from high school in 1976 I was tired of school and wanted to work,” said Ken Criser, part-owner of Wm. MarKen Jewelers in Bloomington. Ken was trained in the “old school” ways of hand fabricating, diamond setting and repairing jewelry.
“Almost ever since 1984 our Buffalo Wild Wings has been our favorite menu item” said Bob Groetken, owner of Schooner’s at 810 E. Grove St. in Bloomington. In 1983 the restaurant/ bar opened just south of Empire Street on Main Street in a previous Pizza Hut.
In early March, Bill Inks bought the business from Jeff and Lynn McCain, who owned & operated the business since 1978. A.B. Hatchery started as a chick hatching business in the early 1940’s and Homer “Mike” McCain (Jeff and Lynn’s father) started working there in 1953 and became a partner in 1961.
Chris Byers and Michael Salaway founded Advanced Rehab & Sports Medicine in 1997 in Bloomington, IL. When the company was founded they were focused solely on providing physical therapy to the community; now the company has expanded into multiple locations and diversified services.
Brad Barker graduated from Bloomington High School in 1970 and Illinois State University in 1974. In 1975 he joined his father, Bill, and uncle Al at a Honda dealership. “Honda was looking for dealers and we made the right choice. We got 15-20 cars a month and a Civic Hatchback was selling for about $1,995,” Owner and President Brad Barker said.
Clay Dooley started his auto business, Clay Dooley Tire and Auto Service, in July 1917. In 1965, he incorporated the business and several employees owned a percentage of the company. Later, Vernon Trower would gain 100% ownership after Clay Dooley died in 1968. Today, Vernon’s sons, Brian, David, and Steve, and his daughter Ruth all work at the business and share joint ownership.
In January, 1976 Paul Laiming acquired an insurance agency in Gridley, Illinois and began his career as the owner of Laiming Insurance Group. He graduated from Wittenberg University in 1970 and was working at Washington National Insurance Co. His wife, Susan, was from Gridley and Paul saw the opportunity when an insurance agency owner wanted to retire.
Gaye Beck once received a bouquet of balloons while working for Illinois Power at the Clinton Power Plant.“I said to myself that I wanted to go into that business,” said Gaye. “I was working in data entry and accounting, so I had no previous retail experience.”
“Turning visions into reality” is the slogan of local civil engineering firm Lewis, Yockey & Brown, Inc. The company was founded in 1983 when the original three partners bought the assets of the firm where they were employed at the time.
In 2006, Nathan and Rick Masters started Masters Bros., an electrical and heating & cooling (HVAC) contractor business. Today the business employs a staff of 40 people. “About 70% of our business is electrical and 30% is HVAC,” Rick said. Another brother, Jeremy, joined the business in 2009.
Martin’s Home Furniture opened in 1995 on Kays Drive in Normal. In 2004, the business relocated to 501 Chancellor Drive in Bloomington. Vice President Brad Martin co-owns the business with his father Tom, who serves as President. The company currently has ten employees.
Wendy Ives started Artful Designs in 1999. As she says, “I saw a pottery studio in Northern Michigan and said to myself, I can do this!” At the time, it was a home-based hobby but quickly grew into a real business. In 2001, she moved her business to Normandy Village in Normal. Three years later Artful Designs relocated to 502 N. Prospect Road in Bloomington.
Matt Bussan started working at Town & Country Animal Hospital in 1990.“I started cleaning out animal cages,” said Matt. Although he was only in 6th grade at the time, he already knew what he wanted to do when he grew up.