Page 1

May 31, 2014

Made in

deKalb County

Daily Chronicle / • Saturday, May 31, 2014





WHAT’S INSIDE Editor’s Note

Table of Contents


here’s no shortage of industrial ingenuity and creative entrepreneurs in DeKalb County, home of the iconic flying ear of corn and the intellectual prowess of Northern Illinois University. This special section highlights just a few of them, past and present. More Online “Made in DeKalb County” tells the story of Jim Hancock, whose seasoning business started in To see the entrepreneurs highlighted in this special November 2011 when he brought a special mix tell their stories, visit to a beer and pizza night. It tells the story of Auto section Meter, which provides the official gauges of NASCAR and built the video recording system Discovery Channel used to film underwater a giant squid alive in the wild. This special section tells the story of area wineries evolving with the local tourism industry, of disabled clients earning a wage with Opportunity House and of the diversity of packaged foods produced by The Suter Company. Each company and entrepreneur has a unique story – some elicited help from family and friends, while others employ dozens or hundreds of people. How did they do it, and why? What do they plan to do next? Read on, and they will tell you. – Jillian Duchnowski

Auto Meter Products Inc. .............. 4 Basketcases Unlimited .................. 5 The Suter Company ..................... 6 Wineries .................................... 7 NIU Research ........................... 10 DeKalb brand ........................... 12 Twisted Taste Seasonings ........... 14 Seymour of Sycamore ................ 16 Opportunity House .................... 18 Hall Associates Flying Effects ...... 20


MADE IN DEKALB COUNTY | Daily Chronicle / • Saturday, May 31, 2014


Daily Chronicle / • Saturday, May 31, 2014




Car racing instruments designed in Sycamore By STEPHEN HABERKORN

Behind a small sign in a modest building in downtown Sycamore lies the world headquarters of an iconic auto racing brand. Joseph Mills, media relations director for Auto Meter Products, Inc., joked that they keep a low profile because if motor sports enthusiasts knew where they were located, so many would make the pilgrimage there that they wouldn’t be able to get any work done. Auto Meter designs and makes aftermarket sports car instruments. Their tachometers and “data acquisition systems” enable auto racers to know intimate details about their car’s performance, such as the revolutions of both the engine and the drive shaft, the car’s air-fuel mixture and fuel pressure, and acceleration. This information can be played back on either the face of the display or on a laptop computer. “You need those data systems to be able to compete and definitely to be able to win races. It’s become more important over the last decade in motor sport,” said Bruce Mehlenbacher, operations director for the Pro Modified Racing Association (PMRA) and the Quick 32 Sportsman Series. Competitors in their drag races exceed 250 mph over a quarter-mile track. Auto Meter is the official gauge of NASCAR. They work with the race teams of some of the most successful drivers today, such as Matt Powers from Formula Drift racing and Tony Stewart, the only driver in history to win a championship in both IndyCar and NASCAR racing. Auto Meter also has worked with record-breaking NASCAR driver Kyle Busch, who has been a great partner, Mills said. “He plays it up for the cameras a little bit, but [Kyle Busch] is really one of the nicest, most genuine people that you’re likely to run into,” Mills said. Mills is a racer himself, but Sycamore native Matt Martin, with Auto Meter’s technical sales, says you don’t have to be a gearhead to work there. He isn’t, but he is passionate about what Auto Meter does. “There is a huge sense of pride in seeing something so big and national and being a part of that,” said Mar-

Danielle Guerra -

Dana Madsen, a 19-year employee of Auto Meter Products Inc., stamps a tachometer in the Sycamore facility. The company makes many of its parts in-house, such as circuit boards and screening dials. The plant is an ISO/TS Certified manufacturing facility, which allows them to be a first-tier supplier to any of the big three American automakers.

Auto Meter Products Inc. n WHAT THEY MAKE: Aftermarket sports

car instruments n LOCATION: Sycamore n OPERATING SINCE: 1957 n WEBSITE:

tin. “A lot of people are so surprised, even locals, that Auto Meter gauges are made right here in Sycamore.” That pride is evident as Martin pulls a file out of his cabinet with the original information and contract from Universal Studios for the first “Fast and the Furious” movie. They have been involved with that series from the beginning, providing them with instrumentation. In a picture of the inside of the famous orange car driven by Vin Diesel and Paul Walker, you can see the Auto Meter Tach in the dashboard of the vehicle. Auto Meter also makes testing equipment that every AutoZone and O’Reilly Auto Parts store uses exclu-

sively in their retail locations across the country to test their batteries, chargers, and starting systems. And last year, when the Discovery Channel filmed the first giant squid alive in the wild using a submersible, the video recording systems they used were made by Auto Meter. All of their products are handmade and they endure rigorous testing before they reach the consumer. They hook electronic products up to a battery and run them through 48 hours at full throttle before shipping them. “If we can’t blow it up here, it’s not going to blow up out in the field,” said Mills. In the near term, Auto Meter is launching single pane LCD screen for the dash that replaces all of the instruments on a vehicle. It is engineered to eliminate glare reflection. “In Arizona desert, with the top down, you’ll be able to see this thing perfectly,” said Mills. It is sealed against moisture and dust, yet is still a breathable, air permeable barrier that prevents

heat buildup. It will work completely submerged. Like a black box on an airplane, it is built to survive even if everything else on the vehicle doesn’t. Much of this high-speed, high-durability work is done from their operations center at 413 W. Elm St. in Sycamore. They make lots of their parts in house, such as circuit boards and screening dials. They are an ISO/ TS Certified manufacturing facility, which allows them to be a first-tier supplier to any of the big three U.S. automakers. “Auto Meter takes our commitment to building our products in the United States very, very seriously. It’s very important in our industry and it’s very important to our corporate identity,” Mills said. “We work hard, not only to source as many parts as we can in the United States, but we try to source them in the local area as much as possible. The business that we can do within DeKalb County is always a big plus.”


Basketcases Unlimited

n WHAT THEY MAKE: Quilt shop n LOCATION: Clare n OPERATING SINCE: 1995 n WEBSITE: www.basketcasesun- “Some things, I don’t even know what I’d use them for,” Deforest said. “Some of these quilts are gorgeous.” McQuillan also creates quilts for her customers with the help of a machine quilting computer program that speeds the process of creating a quilt pattern. She was recently creating a pinwheel pattern quilt for a client. Basketcases Unlimited has been in business since 1995 and is DeKalb County’s oldest and only quilt shop, according to its website. “The original reason for doing this was to encourage people to do handwork and to create things for their own use,” McQuillan said. Sharon Holmes, who has lived in DeKalb County for about 70 years. She recently came to Basketcases Unlimited to browse the selection of fabrics. Holmes, who served as DeKalb County Clerk from 1990 to 2010, said she has more time for quilting now that she’s retired. In April, Holmes helped start a quilting group in DeKalb that meets at the Senior Service Center, 330 Grove St., No. 3, DeKalb. “I’ve been quilting for 30 years,” Holmes said, “but since I’ve been retired, daily.”

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Danielle Guerra -

Longtime quilter and DeKalb resident Sharon Holmes (left) goes over her handiwork with Basketcases Unlimited owner Carolyn Birch McQuillan in the second floor of McQuillan’s Clare shop. The DeKalb County Clerk from 1990 to 2010, Holmes said she has more time to quilt since she is retired.

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• Saturday, May 31, 2014

CLARE – Carolyn Birch McQuillan was born on the Clare farm where she now works, and she wouldn’t have it any other way. McQuillan, owner of Basketcases Unlimited, says she loves DeKalb County. Her business holds classes that teach sewing, quilting and basket-making, among other things, though quilting is its biggest draw. “This is another way to offer DeKalb County’s agricultural land to its people,” McQuillan said. “Women are the heart and souls of farms, and quilting is part of it.” Basketcases Unlimited is located at a former livestock barn and is surrounded by farmland. McQuillan’s parents bought the 160-acre farm in 1944, and after her father retired in 1977, he sold most of the farmland but kept five acres and the house. Customers come from all over northern Illinois. Some are from farms, but others come from towns such as DeKalb and Sycamore. DeKalb resident Ellen Deforest recently walked into the store to look at a quilt hanging on a wall. Deforest is in the process of creating her own quilt and wanted to see how the displayed quilt looked for help. Deforest, a newbie to quilting, said Basketcases Unlimited sells nice, quality material. The Clare business even buys directly from one manufacturer in Iowa.

MADE IN DEKALB COUNTY | Daily Chronicle /

BASKETCASES UNLIMITED Quilt shop encourages customers to be creative



Business makes chicken salad for the masses By ANDREA AZZO

SYCAMORE – Sarah Richied had no idea that every time she walks through the chip aisle at the Walmart in DeKalb, she passes by hummus made in her hometown of Sycamore. But it’s true: The Suter Company, at 258 May St. in Sycamore, makes the hummus for Great Value, Walmart’s generic brand. Suter is a food-processing plant that makes and labels multiple products to send to major distributors. “I get surprised regularly by the stuff that’s made locally,” Richied said. The Suter Company has been manufacturing prepared food products since 1925, and they’ve been doing it from Sycamore since 1938. Tim Suter, president of The Suter Company, said only between 15 and 20 percent of their products are sold under their brand, Sycamore Farms, while the majority of the food they make goes to grocery store chains such as Walmart, Jewel, Aldi, Meijer and Sam’s Club. The company specializes in lunch foods such as chicken and tuna salads, dips, spreads and deviled eggs. They make enough food for over 100 million servings a year and are inspected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the federal Food and Drug Administration. Their products can be found in the United States and in Canada. “Our focal point is not to build our own brand, but to build customer relationships to last more time,” Suter said. “If that means packaging food under their brands, then so be it.” Company employees follow strict guidelines before they even start their work. Employees are required to wear lab coats, hairnets, gloves, slip-resistant shoes

The Suter Company n WHAT THEY MAKE: Prepared

food products n LOCATION: Sycamore n OPERATING SINCE: 1925 n WEBSITE:

and earplugs. Jewelry is a no-no (no one wants to find an earring in their food) and they must wash their hands before they begin work. The Suter Company has 175 employees and two plants: their main facility is on May Street, but their second plant is located at 1015 Bethany Road in Sycamore, said Alex Guedea, a quality assurance employee who also provides plant tours. The May Street facility includes a room devoted to deviled egg distribution. There is also a room where chicken and tuna salads are made. X-ray machines are used to search for foreign objects in food before they are sent to a distributor. One labeling machine is capable of labeling about 20 to 30 baskets per day. Each basket contains about 3,263 cans of tuna salad. Another labeling machine can label 10,000 cans of tuna salad a day, Guedea said. “Everything needs somebody else to actually work it,” Guedea said. “You would think it would all be generated on its own.” Louella Donovan, the company’s current longest-serving employee with 40 years of service, remembers a time when employees used to boil chicken in what is now the room for egg production. She has seen many employees come through the doors, but she said the Suter family’s kindness has always been a constant. “I’ve had a wonderful experience working with Tim and his dad,” she said. “They really care.”

Danielle Guerra -

The Suter Company employees pack tuna and crackers together into snack packs.

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Daily Chronicle / • Saturday, May 31, 2014





Acquaviva Winery


n WHAT THEY MAKE: Wine n LOCATION: Maple Park n OPERATING SINCE: 2010 n WEBSITE: www.acquavivawin-

Waterman Winery n WHAT THEY MAKE: Wine n LOCATION: Waterman n OPERATING SINCE: 2003 n WEBSITE:

Prairie State Winery n WHAT THEY MAKE: Wine n LOCATION: Genoa n OPERATING SINCE: 1998 n WEBSITE: www.prairiestatewin-

Danielle Guerra -

Acquaviva Winery winemaker Sergio Benavides, of Chile, stands in the barrel room of the Maple Park winery. The winery is celebrating its fourth anniversary. make. Debbie Armstrong, executive director of the bureau, said her Google Analytics statistics put wineries as the second-most

popular thing people search for attractions, second only to dining. “We know people are looking for wineries when

they travel,” Armstrong said. Acquaviva is not the only option for local wine. Prairie State Winery at 217 W.

Main St. in Genoa, is also a short drive away and has a location at 322 West State Street in Sycamore. There’s also Waterman Winery and Vineyards at 11582 Waterman Road, Waterman. Waterman Winery, which has received a DeKalb County Soil and Water Conservation Award and an Illinois Governor’s Sustainability Award, has 12 acres of grapes and 40 varieties including French/ American hybrids. Some grapevines are more than 10 years old, said co-owner Alexa Tuntland. Waterman Winery has been open since 2003 and produces about 8,000 to 10,000 bottles of wine a year. The winery is actually located on a farm that also grows soybeans and corn, something others were leery of because farmers use chemicals in corn and soybeans could have affected the grapes, said co-owner Terrie Tuntland.

See WINERIES, page 8

• Saturday, May 31, 2014

MAPLE PARK – Karen Schmitt enjoys the fact she doesn’t have to venture far from her Sycamore home in order to drink high-quality wine. Schmitt was recently dining with friends at Acquaviva Winery at 47W614 Illinois 38 in Maple Park. They were having a retirement party for her sister-in-law. “Obviously the wine is the draw,” she said. “It’s a very special place. We don’t have a lot of this so local.” Acquaviva Winery is just across the Kane County line. The winery has about 25 employees. Vito Brandonisio has owned the winery for four years and is exploring possibilities of expanding into DeKalb County, including in Sycamore. Acquaviva produces about 55,000 bottles of wine a year. All of the grapes at Acquaviva are grown on site and hand-picked by employees, Brandonisio said. The grapes, which are American hybrids and come from vines as old as 13 years, are then pressed and the juice is fermented to create alcohol. It is then bottled and packaged. Acquaviva’s wines range in price from $16 to $25. According to Acquaviva’s website, three wines have won a gold award in the Illinois Wine Competition in Champaign, and three wines have also won a silver award in the International Wine Competition in Finger Lakes, New York. “Comments are made by the thousands that the wines we produce here are the finest in the Midwest,” Brandonisio said. Data from the DeKalb County Convention and Visitors Bureau show wineries are among the most popular searches tourists

MADE IN DEKALB COUNTY | Daily Chronicle /

Residents have three options for local wine

Daily Chronicle / • Saturday, May 31, 2014



• WINERIES From page 7

“We wanted to be the first ones to do it,” he said. “The goal was to produce grapes and make good wine for DeKalb County.” Rick Mamoser, winemaker and Prairie State Winery co-owner, said his business has a regional reputation as an experience-based winery. Prairie State has been in business for 15 years and plans to move across the street in mid-June, Mamoser said. “There are a variety of reasons for people to come out and experience the whole idea of a winery,” Mamoser said. “Attracting people to DeKalb County for us is showing them what a winery is about: enjoying the whole experience.” Acquaviva plans to add more experiences for its customers, too. In June, they plan to open a bed and breakfast on the property of their Maple Park location. Acquaviva Winery

manager Erin Novotny said business has evolved since she started in July 2010. Nowadays, Acquaviva Winery has become a venue for weddings and parties, she said. People come from as far as Georgia, Iowa and even California to sample the wines, she said. “We provide Maple Park a tourist spot,” Novotny said. “People come here because of us. Sometimes, people want to see the small town. We point them in the direction.” Oswego resident Stephanie Wennmacher recently was enjoyed a small meal and wine with her friends. Wennmacher, who hadn’t had the opportunity yet to explore other destinations Maple Park and the surrounding areas have to offer, said Acquaviva Winery is an unexpected place in the middle of a rural area. “It certainly stands out from the landscape,” she Danielle Guerra - said. “It’s a nice place to sit Acquaviva Winery co-owner Dina Brandonisio stocks shelves in the wine market on the grounds of the and have a glass of wine or winery in Maple Park. nice meal.”



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MADE IN DEKALB COUNTY | Daily Chronicle /

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$30M poured into research at NIU last year By KATIE DAHLSTROM

Lesley Rigg believes that making the world a better place requires learning more about it. Rigg, who was recently promoted to vice president for research at Northern Illinois University, sees people living by that notion daily. Almost $30.7 million was poured into research projects at NIU last year. The money comes from various federal and state agencies such as the National Science Foundation, and the Illinois Department of Public Health, as well as corporations such as Lisle-based truck and enginemaker Navistar. As for what those projects are, Rigg said pick a topic or place and an NIU researcher would likely be found. The university boasts the foremost Antarctic submarine research program, a graduate student

See NIU, page 11

Student engineers present Northern Artificial Intelligence, or N.A.I., an autononous ground robot with artificial vision, at Northern Illinois University’s research and artistry day on April 22. N.A.I. was built to see and pick up objects, specifically practice cones. Monica Maschak - mmaschak@

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“It’s time to love again…” I’ll be honest with you. I loved my home of forty-two years in DeKalb. After all, my husband Royce and I built our home together, raised a family, enjoyed our neighbors and spent time with good friends. The reality is that Marilyn Thompson after my husband died, maintaining a home and living alone wasn’t all that it was cracked up to be. Don’t get me wrong, I like my own company just fine but I also enjoy being with people. Oak Crest provides me with an outlet for my social interests and I have a lovely home, privacy and the security of knowing that all my needs will be met when the time comes. Someone said one day, “I thought you loved your home.” I just looked them in the eye and said, “I did love my home, but honey it’s time to love again.” Come for a visit and fall in love with all that Oak Crest has to offer. Marilyn Thompson, Resident since June 2011 For more information call (815) 756-8461 or visit us on the web at


Daily Chronicle / • Saturday, May 31, 2014




MADE IN DEKALB COUNTY | Daily Chronicle /


From page 10 who discoverd that young triceratops traveled in herds, and renowned poets. Rigg said the value of the projects can be measured by looking at how many undergraduate or graduate students will benefit from the research, either by taking part in it or learning from it. “We are at our heart an educational institution,” Rigg said. “Regardless if it’s fundamental or applied research, it’s broadening our knowledge.” Student research also drives NIU. During the annual Undergrad Research and Artistry Day, weeks, months and years of research led by students and supported by faculty was on display. Among the 350 student

Northern Illinois University n WHAT THEY MAKE: New

knowledge n LOCATION: DeKalb n OPERATING SINCE: 1895 n WEBSITE:


Northern Illinois Agronomy Research Center n WHAT THEY MAKE: Crop

science research n LOCATION: Shabbona n OPERATING SINCE: 1948 n WEBSITE: http://cropsci.illinois.

edu/research/rdc/dekalb researchers on hand was NIU junior Alexis Lamb, who presented her study of the berimbau, a bowed, single-string percussion instrument commonly used in Brazil. She and Gregory Beyer, an associate profes-

Monica Maschak -

An Afro-Brazilian berimbau. sor of percussion, plan to compose 12 pieces of music for the berimbau. Meanwhile, a group of senior students presented their research on a robot that performs tasks based on given instructions but also using visual and sensory information in real-time. Students think the robot could be developed for use

in hospitals in place of nurses. The University of Illinois also has deep roots in agricultural research in DeKalb County, where experimental work has been going on at the Northern Illinois Agronomy Research Center since 1948. Russ Higgins, the extension educator, said scientists

examine plant breeding, soil fertility, soil management, weed science, crop production, pest management and environmental quality. Work is primarily focused on corn and soybeans. The data gathered is then disseminated and used by agronomists for cropping decisions. “I always think there’s some merit if you can get data from someone who’s not buying and selling the product,” Higgins said. About 45 projects are conducted at the research center annually. One of the most important projects, Higgins said, is one focusing on managing corn root worm, a pest that can devastate corn crops. “If you’ve lived anywhere else in the state, you know it’s just different up here,” Higgins said. “It’s nice to have research in your backyard.”

• Saturday, May 31, 2014

Monica Maschak -

Junior percussion/performance major Chris Mrofcza performs a musical piece with Alexis Lamb, a performance education major, on berimbaus at the Northern Illinois University’s research and artistry day on April 22. Lamb’s project was the Projeto Arcomusical: Exploring Traditions and Forging New Paths for the Afro-Brazilian Berimbau.


BOTTOM LEFT: Donna Langford, curator-educator of the DeKalb Area Agricultural Heritage Association in downtown DeKalb, points to the year that is always printed in the DeKalb seed logo, now owned by Monsanto. These are the signs that hang in farmers’ fields denoting which seed is planted.

– Rick Myroup DeKalb Brand marketing manager

Iconic logo represents more than just DeKalb brand seed By KATIE DAHLSTROM


llan Aves’ basement is a shrine to all things DeKalb brand. Thousands of signs, hats and statues tout the national seed brand’s famous winged ear of corn logo synonymous with innovation and its namesake. Farmers across the world use DeKalb brand seeds, but the logo resonates somewhere deeper than a viable agriculture product for locals who grew up with the winged ear in their backyards. “It’s the most recognizeable logo in the world,” said Aves, who farms DeKalb products in Kirkland. “Hybrids are one of the big advancements in the agricultural world, and corn is the biggest crop we got. DeKalb went right to the top and I have a lot of pride in that.” The DeKalb hybrid corn seed was created in 1935 by the DeKalb County Agricultural Assocation following a dozen years of work. In

BOTTOM RIGHT: Monsanto employees Marcela Mendez (left) and Maria Garcia (right) place corn into planting guides while they test certain types of seed at Monsanto’s Waterman laboratory. Every DeKalb brand of seed sold worldwide is tested in the Waterman facility.

1936, the winged ear made its first appearance When Creve Coeur, Missouri-based Monsanas the first full-page color advertisement in to Corp. purchased the brand in 1998, it knew any agricultural publication, telling farmers to the winged-ear was a huge part of the company “Let DeKalb Quality Hybrids be your mortgage being acquired, said DeKalb Brand marketing lifter.” manager Rick Myroup. He said the company DeKalb Area Agricultural sells DeKalb-branded merHeritage Association Museum chandise to more than 120,000 DeKalb brand curator Donna Langford said customers a year. the company was flooded with “Tremendous responsibiln WHAT THEY MAKE: Hybrid corn orders, but had to refuse about ity comes with carrying the seed 70 percent of them because the legacy,” Myroup said. n LOCATION: DeKalb County seed could not survive outside Monsanto hasn’t remained n OPERATING SINCE: 1935 of northern Illinois. stagnant in its DeKalb marn WEBSITE: The winged ear made its keting efforts. The company first farm field appearance unveiled the “electric wing” in around 1940. Over the decades, 2012 to commemorate the 100th there were several tweaks to the color and font anniversary of DeKalb hybrids. The revamped to make the logo stand out. The winged ear logo is a vibrant yellow wing that will be used adorned hats, patches, pens and other items the alongside the classic winged ear to signify the company would give to farmers. continued excitement surrounding the brand. “There’s a strong sense of tradition and a But make no mistake, Myroup said, the strong sense of work ethic, and that logo is winged ear is here to stay. a part of that, so the employees and farmers “I can guarantee you the classic winged ear would be proud,” Langford said. will always be part of DeKalb,” Myroup said.

Danielle Guerra

Winged ear through the years











• Saturday, May 31, 2014

Daily Chronicle / • Saturday, May 31, 2014

TOP: Kirkland farmer Allen Aves stands in front of his DeKalb brand memorabilia collection in the basement of his home. Aves has more than 2,000 items in his varied collection.

MADE IN DEKALB COUNTY | Daily Chronicle /

“I can guarantee you the classic winged ear will always be part of DeKalb.”


Daily Chronicle / • Saturday, May 31, 2014




Spice business started with a pizza night Twisted Taste LLC

By STEPHEN HABERKORN SYCAMORE – Twisted Taste LLC, in Sycamore is a mom-and-pop business. The company’s only two employees are Jim and Barb Hancock, proud parents of four children who serve as unpaid marketing ambassadors. Jim Hancock says that his seasonings are great for non-foodies who want to make flavorful meals themselves. “If you’re just cooking for sustenance, it is a way to enhance the flavor of your food without a lot of effort,” Jim Hancock said. Twisted Taste smoked seasonings come in four blends: Smokin’, FaGhettaGarlic, Butt Rub, and Red Meat. The biggest seller is FaGhettaGarlic (said in a Brooklyn accent), followed closely by Smokin’. Their products are available at Hy-Vee in Sycamore and Riccardi’s Red Hots next to the Sycamore State Theater, as well as other retailers outside DeKalb County. Jim Hancock got started in the seasoning business around Thanksgiving of 2011, when he smoked the peppers from his garden, mixed them with spices, and brought them to the neighbors’ for pizza and beer night. It went over so well that he ended up making 50 bottles for his neighbors, friends and relatives between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. That mixture became his “Smokin’” seasoning. Shortly after that Thanksgiving in 2011, Hancock’s 9-year-old daughter, Maggie, told Suzi Riccardi at Riccardi’s Red Hots in downtown Sycamore about her dad’s seasonings. Riccardi decided to try them on her burgers and tater tots. They were a hit. “We were just starting bison (burgers) at the time, so I thought it would taste really good on that,” said Riccardi. Hancock decided to expand the production of his seasonings and ended up with


seasonings n LOCATION: Sycamore n OPERATING SINCE: 2012 n WEBSITE: www.twisted-taste.


Monica Maschak -

Jim Hancock, of Sycamore, creator of Twisted Taste seasoning mixes, mixes a taco seasoning – not yet brought to market – in his kitchen on May 13. Hancock works with a company in Elmhurst to mass produce his seasonings but develops them in his own kitchen with produce from his own garden. a co-packer in Elmhurst, a small father-and-son business called Sentry Seasonings. As he worked out the flavoring and blending with his co-packer, he learned a lot about everything that goes into creating bottled seasonings. “The biggest thing [was], the first batch I got back I noticed soy oil and silicate,” Jim Hancock said. “I didn’t want any soybean in there, because 95 percent of all the soybeans grown in the US are genetically modified, and I’m very much into keeping everything as close to the earth as possible.” He asked someone from Sentry why the soy oil and silicates had been added and found out that the soy oil keeps everything blended well during shipping, and the silicate keeps the seasoning from caking after you’ve added the soy oil. “‘I got a crazy idea,” Jim Hancock said, “Why don’t we not put either one in and we’ll just put, ‘Shake well before using,’ on the label?” Hancock’s network extends beyond the DeKalb County area. He has several

friends who use Twisted Taste Seasonings in their restaurants, including Lucky’s Bar and Grille in

Madison, Wisconsin. In the near future, Twisted Taste is planning to expand their product line with more

seasonings and is also looking at going away from the bottles and labels and using bulk bags for packaging. The bags also would be biodegradable and better for the environment. Hancock’s product has had a big impact on one local charitable organization, the Feed’em Soup Community Project. They use at least one of Hancock’s seasonings daily, and it helps them provide high quality and consistent food, said Derek Gibbs, Executive Director of Feed’em Soup. “Jim started donating seasonings to us,” Gibbs said, “and the more we used them, the more we liked them.”

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MADE IN DEKALB COUNTY | Daily Chronicle /



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Hours: Monday–Saturday 8am–7pm; Closed Sunday Inboden’s Meats from DeKalb, Illinois was among the attendees at the Illinois Association of Meat Processors Convention and Trade Show that was held at the Hilton Garden Inn, Champaign, IL on February 27-March 1, 2014. The convention was hosted by the Illinois Association of Meat Processors. Inboden’s Meats was awarded the following honors when competing in the Illinois Association of Meat Processors’ Product Show on Friday, February 28, 2014. This year’s competition was comprised of over 200 entries in twenty-two different classes.

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• Saturday, May 31, 2014

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The product show was judged by Dr. Floyd McKeith, Dr. Dustin Boler, Meat Science Doctoral Students, Meat Industry Professionals and Retired Processing Plant Owners. Dr. McKeith and Dr. Boler are Meat Science Faculty at the University of Illinois. The Illinois Association of Meat Processors represent small and mid-sized independent meat industry businesses throughout Illinois, as well as local and nationally known industry suppliers. The 2015 IAMP Convention and Trade Show will be held in Champaign, Illinois on February 26-28, 2015.

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Daily Chronicle / • Saturday, May 31, 2014




Aerosol paint inventor still mass-producing By STEPHEN HABERKORN SYCAMORE – When he was younger, Jon Larson didn’t realize that the company that invented aerosol spray paint and still produced millions of cans a year was located in his small town. But after years of commuting to jobs in the aerospace and packaging industry, Larson started looking for work in manufacturing closer to home and found Seymour of Sycamore, Inc. right in his backyard. “It’s funny that a town this size, something like that was invented here,” said Larson, the company’s vice president of manufacturing. “It’s just like DeKalb with the barbed wire.” Tucked away just off Route 64, Seymour of Sycamore, Inc. has managed to keep a low profile despite being a leader in its industry. Edward Seymour invented aerosol spray paint in 1949 as a way to apply his new aluminum paint to radiators. Nancy Seymour Heatley, the current president and CEO of the company and Edward’s daughter, took over the family business after Edward’s death in 1998. “There is an urban legend that says my mother was using what they called bug bomb and said, ‘Hey, why don’t you put paint in an aerosol can?’ “Heatley said. “I have no idea if that is true.” Apparently, Edward Seymour never refuted that story. “He and someone named Mark [Werthwein] who had a machine shop here in Sycamore actually made the equipment to fill the paint inside an aerosol can.” Seymour’s invention spawned a global industry that produces hundreds of millions of cans of paint every year, making it one of the most significant inventions not only in DeKalb County history, but in the history of manufacturing worldwide. “There have been a couple companies that put on their

Seymour of Sycamore n WHAT THEY MAKE: Spray paint n LOCATION: Sycamore n OPERATING SINCE: 1949 n WEBSITE: www.seymourpaint.

com website that they are inventors of aerosol spray paint, but we’re the first,” Larson said. “Everyone in the industry knows we invented it.” The Seymour paint factory was originally in downtown Sycamore, but moved to its current location at 917 Crosby Ave. in 1964. The current headquarters and manufacturing facilities total 220,000 square feet. At peak production, they employ 150 workers and can produce over 200,000 cans of paint a day. Their products, which are shipped all over the world under a variety of brand names, are all manufactured in their Sycamore facilities. “A lot of engineering and professionals go into making that one can of paint to make sure it’s perfect for when you buy it at the store,” Larson said. Summer is their busy time, because of the demand for field-marking paint for baseball, football and soccer fields around the country. For many people, however, the first things that come to mind when you mention spray paint are graffiti and ozone-destroying CFC’s. Seymour has worked hard to clean up that reputation. They sell graffiti remover and concrete and asphalt repair products, and company officials say they pride themselves on being proactive when it comes to protecting the environment, removing components from products if they are found to be detrimental. “I think people take pride that Seymour Paint is made right here in Sycamore, Illinois, especially for the people who have worked here 25 to 30 years,” Larson said. “The people who stay here are really loyal to Seymour. We’re built on our employees.”

Danielle Guerra -

Seymour employee Patrick Glowacki checks the labels on the inverted tip utility marking aerosol spray paint on the production line in the Seymour facility in Sycamore.

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• Saturday, May 31, 2014

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Daily Chronicle / • Saturday, May 31, 2014




Nonprofit offers jobs for disabled people By KATIE DAHLSTROM

SYCAMORE – Hope Bockman has worked at other places, but nothing really fit like the job she’s held since 1987 at Opportunity House in Sycamore. Bockman, who was blinded shortly after birth, is one of about 280 disabled people served by the DeKalb County nonprofit. “There’s things to think about like are you happy with it,” Bockman said. “I like working here because I feel like I’m learning a lot.” Since it was incorporated in 1963, Opportunity House has grown from a workshop for the disabled to a multifaceted agency boasting nine residential homes, care for people who live on their own, vocational assistance, job placement and other support services. At the agency’s warehouse in Sycamore, about 75 clients assemble packages for various products, including many that come from DeKalb County manufacturers such as Ideal Industries. Clients’ responsibilities vary from placing items in a package to shrink-wrapping or heat-sealing the packages. One of Bockman’s favorite tasks is placing 25 small telephone connectors from Ideal Industries into plastic bags. Opportunity House ships about 5,000 of these packs a week. Bockman said yoga lessons she took at her Opportunity House group home help her to concentrate on putting the correct amount in the bag. The chance to learn and be part of what feels more like a family than a company keeps many more people than Bockman there. Executive Director Robert Shipman has been with the Opportunity House for 21 years, while Operations

Danielle Guerra -

Opportunity House employee Daniel Barnes gets his bag out of his locker before his lunch break. Barnes has worked at the Sycamore-based nonprofit for four years. Manager Don Beckman has 25 years with the agency. “I love to be around the people and work for them,” Beckman said. “It gives you a sense of fulfillment that you’re doing something you should do.” For some, Opportunity House is their only source of employment. Clients can work from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and earn a piece-rate pay commensurate with the prevailing wage of other area companies. Some work elsewhere or only want to work part-time. “I think it would be terrific if everyone could obtain competitive employment, but the fact is they can’t,” Shipman said. “They have a place like this where

Opportunity House n WHAT THEY MAKE: Opportuni-

ties for people with disabilities n LOCATION: Sycamore n OPERATING SINCE: 1963 n WEBSITE:

they can earn a wage and have a life on their own and take pride in working.” Frank Slowoski, who has worked at Opportunity House for 20 years, said he had bad experiences at other jobs in the community, but feels welcome and happy where he is now. He lives on his own and drives his own car to work daily. “This job is very important to me,” Slowinski said.

Danielle Guerra -

Sheila Buchholz, who has been working at Opportunity House for 15 years, sorts parts for another DeKalb County business, Ideal, into groups of 25 parts to be packaged.


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• Saturday, May 31, 2014

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Daily Chronicle / • Saturday, May 31, 2014




Business helps get shows off the ground By STEPHEN HABERKORN

CORTLAND – John Moore has a title that would make Peter Pan jealous: He is the lead flying director at Hall Associates Flying Effects. Working for one of the few companies in the country that provides the equipment and expertise for flying effects for live theatrical productions keeps Moore and his colleagues extremely busy. “We do hundreds of shows a year,” Moore said. “We get contacted when anyone wants to do anything that uses specialized rigging – not just flying people. There is also flying things really fast, really high, really far, or in a creative way.” Moore is currently working on a show at Cedar Point Amusement Park in Ohio, installing a flying rig for one of their outdoor shows. In June, he will go to Norway to install another outdoor flying system for a pirate theme park. “We do this stuff all over the world,” he said. “I’ve been to Singapore, Mexico, Panama, and the other flying directors have been to many other places as well, quite a few countries. Some pretty big things.”


Provided photo

Hall Associates Flying Effects provides flight rigging, training and experience to music venues, theaters and other stage productions around the world. This was a scene from “Peter Pan” during an Asian tour by Faust International Youth Theatre.

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MADE IN DEKALB COUNTY | Daily Chronicle / • Saturday, May 31, 2014

Daily Chronicle / • Saturday, May 31, 2014



Ladies Night Out




Downtown Sycamore Thurs., June 5 • 4-8 p.m.

Silent Auction 4-7:30 p.m.

inside Paulsen's Appliance and Electronics

$2 Chick Flick "The Notebook" 8:30 p.m. at the State Street Theater. Enjoy our film from the first LNO, as we play it again for our 10th Anniversary.

Find us on

338 W. State St., Sycamore

Downtown Sycamore 815-895-3011 •

815.895.8122 • Free food samples, and 50% off pink feathered hair barrettes.

Enter to WIN a Gift Basket by purchasing our Crystal Hope Bracelet, designed & created at Sweet Earth!

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Jill Schneider • Sherry Bouchard 116 1/2 California St., Sycamore 815-991-5100 • Find us on Facebook

Play PINK PLINKO to enter raffles for gift certificates and other great prizes!

Country Roots Salon will donate 15% of proceeds for all appointments that are booked during Ladies Night Out.

Get your 10th Anniversary Ltd. Ed. Tote filled with goodies for $10!! You could be the winner of the Grand Prize!

DeKalb County's Own Flat Track Roller Derby League Join us for some homemade goodies and refresh youself with a glass of our very own "Barbed Bettie." All bake sale proceeds and a portion of merchandise sales will be donated to LNO.

Liz Lundeen and Barb Pennington, Senior Team Leaders 630-518-5501 • Hoot! Hoot! 100% of proceeds from all PINK charms, dangles and link lockets will be donated back to Ladies Night Out!

Allergies, Aches & Pains 130 Fair St., Sycamore 815-895-2059 $1 per minute seated chair massage, and $1 PINK DUCKS!

337 W. State St., Sycamore 815-899-3262 • Purchase a Willow Tree® figure, and we will donate $1 to LNO and enter you into our June drawing to win the new Willow Tree® "Thank You" piece signed by the Artist!

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• Saturday, May 31, 2014

Hall Associates Flying Effects was started in 1991 by Delbert Hall, a professor of theater and dance at East Tennessee State University, who partnered with current owner and president, Tracy Nunnally, who is head of the graduate theater technology program at Northern Illinois University. They have four full-time and two part-time Hall Associates flight inFlying Effects structors, in addition to Nunnal- n WHAT THEY MAKE: Flying systems for theatrical ly. The rest productions of the staff, n LOCATION: Cortland including Nunnally’s n OPERATING SINCE: 1991 wife, Gabe, n WEBSITE: www.flyingfx. com who serves as the company’s vice president, stay mostly at the office and do logistical work. OC Imageworks in DeKalb is a marketing agency that specializes in TV commercials, websites and other creative, high-value jobs. Hall Associates installed a lighting grid on an electric rigging system for their studio that they use for all of their creative productions. “Hall Associates Flight Effects has an expertise that is extremely hard to find,” Brian Oster, creative director for OC Imageworks, said. “There are only two or three companies in the entire country that can do what they do. It truly is a hardto-find niche.” When Hall Associates is contracted to do flying effects for a production, they consult with their client to figure out their needs. Then they ship the gear to the client. The flying director travels to the venue, installs the equipment, and spends a few days training the performers and crew as the flying effects are integrated into the show. It takes years of training to be able to do what Hall Associates’ flying directors do, and finding all of those skills rolled into one person, who also is willing to be on the road all the time is challenging. “You have to have such a wide skill base,” Moore said. “You kind of have to be a rigging savant, knowing all of the technical aspects of all of the riggings. That type of person is not generally the social type of person who gets along well with directors and actors and can control a room, can control a rehearsal, and can do choreography.” Their clients, though, appreciate

MADE IN DEKALB COUNTY | Daily Chronicle /

From page 20

Provided photo

A human castle is formed on stage in Barcelona during a production called “Speculum” in conjunction with Hall Associates Flying Effects’ sister company in Spain, Accialt Flying Effects. working with such talented and professional people. Ben Haines is the musical director for Connellsville Junior High School in Pennsylvania. After deciding to do “Peter Pan Jr.,” an updated version of the show about a boy who can fly, he researched companies who do flying effects. He chose Hall Associates Flying Effects

because of their emphasis on safety and professionalism. “This is only the eighth show I’ve directed and the first time I’ve used flying effects,” Haines said. “I was actually quite nervous coming into it, because there is a certain amount of risk involved. And obviously, student safety is of upmost importance to me.

“But they walked me through the process and set my mind at ease. They had a thick document of all the things they have seen to look out for with the show, as far as the set design and things like that – the preparations on my end. Kind of a list of things that were all spelled out for me. They made the process very simple.”

Daily Chronicle / • Saturday, May 31, 2014



Daily Chronicle Progress 5-31-2014  
Daily Chronicle Progress 5-31-2014