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Sauk Valley

Business Journal

Vol. 21, No. 3

Sauk Valley Media

Fall 2018


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Sauk Valley Business Journal

Fall 2018



288-2735 SM-ST1571835

Sauk Valley Business Journal

Fall 2018

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Welcome ... to the Fall 2018 issue of Sauk Valley Business Journal Index of Stories The Shed in Erie...............................................4-5

New local designer, event coordinator......10-11

Cassie’s Dance Academy................................6-7

Kegger’s Tap House in Sterling..................12-13

Gateway Travel and Cruise.............................8-9

Nail boutique joins skin care studio............... 15

The staff of Sauk Valley Business Journal

On the cover At The Shed in Erie, there’s clothing, coffee mugs, purses, a lot of decorations and more. Story, Page 4. – Sauk Valley Business Journal

Publisher: Don T. Bricker General Manager/Advertising Director: Jennifer Heintzelman Advertising Sales: Luke Eisenberg Business Journal Editor: Lucas Pauley

Want to stay informed? Email Diane Bollman at to start receiving your FREE subscription to Sauk Valley Business Journal.

Articles and advertisements are the property of Sauk Valley Media of Dixon and Sterling-Rock Falls. No portion of Sauk Valley Business Journal may be reproduced without written consent of the publisher. Ad content is not the responsibility of Sauk Valley Media. Sauk Valley Media cannot and will not be held liable for the quality or performance of goods and services provided by advertisers listed in any portion of this publication.

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Sauk Valley Business Journal

Page 4

Fall 2018

New shop in Erie has it all BY JESSIE KERN For Sauk Valley Business Journal

Custom furniture, clothing, accessories, candles, coffee and more have made their way to a new business in Erie, and people are pretty excited about it. The Shed, 624 12th St., is a small shop, but it’s filled with a little bit of everything. What was previously a Quality Interiors has transformed into a business for home decor, gifts and more. Owners Nick and Erin Stern and Cal and Becky Bebon had been friends for years before deciding to take on another business together. Cal and Nick opened S & B General Construction in 2012, which The Shed collaborates with to make custom furniture. Erin said it all started when she asked her husband to make her a barn table. Nick really enjoyed making it and he made and sold several more. She said Cal then suggested opening a store to sell

Michael Krabbenhoeft/

The Shed in Erie offers a variety of decor and clothing pieces. custom-made furniture. “It kind of just snowballed from there, that we went from having the custom furniture to, ‘Oh we can do home decor,’” she said. “And then we were like, ‘We should have clothes!’” Erin said it’s been a lot of learning as they go because


none of them have retail experience. She said they went to a vendors market in Atlanta and enjoyed picking things out to sell in the store. “I grew up here so I kind of know price-points that work for people in this area and what they would be interested in buying,” she said. “Right

now, rustic and farmhouse ... is really in, so we’re able to provide a lot of that and it’s fun to shop for it.” Becky said she and Erin were somewhat nervous about opening a business because they both have fulltime jobs, but when Cal and Nick bought the building for their construction business they decided it was too nice to use just for a woodshop. She said it’s been fun getting into something new and learning all the time to run the business. “It’s just exciting to see something new and I’ve kind of always been interested in decorating and the home decor kind of thing, so it’s just exciting to kind of be doing that now,” she said. Becky and Erin are constantly coming up with ideas to hand off to Nick and Cal, because their woodshop is right through the backdoor.

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Page 5

“It’s very convenient,” Becky said. “They can get together on the weekend and build whatever we want them to, so it’s been really great to have that available to us.” She said they have gotten several orders where people have looked things up on Pinterest and asked if Nick and Cal can make it. “I think people are interested in that aspect of it, something different,” Becky said. “They know who to get a hold of now, who can make their furniture. Everyone that comes in seems to be excited that the friends opened the business in Erie, Becky said. “They don’t have to go out of town anymore if they need a little gift or the clothing,” she said. Erin said people can come in and request certain dimensions for furniture and they work with customers on what kind of wood and color stain they want. She said people really enjoy the custom pieces, furniture and decor, and Nick and Cal are constantly building more to keep the shop stocked. The shop also offers jewelry, coffee and tea from Steam Anchor Coffee in Fulton, candles and wax melts from White Meadows Candles in Erie, and clothes and purses from Revive in Dixon, which have been very popular. She said they also have smaller items such as keychains, cosmetic bags, insulated drinking cups, and lotions, hand sanitizers and lip glosses by Naked Bee. “We just wanted to add something new for Erie,” Erin said. “We just really wanted to make it really good, to make people want to come here and make the drive to come here.” TOP AND BOTTOM RIGHT: The shop sells clothes and purses from Revive in Dixon, all types of decorations and much more.

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Page 6

Fall 2018

Cassie’s got a way with kids BY JESSIE KERN For Sauk Valley Business Journal

A growing dance studio in Galt has seen a lot of success over the years and is preparing to take on another competition season. Cassie’s Dance Academy, 13686 Galt Road, has been increasing in size every year since it opened in 2004. Cassie Foster had been involved in dance for several years before getting Cassie’s Dance Academy up and running, having taken over her sister’s dance studio in Geneseo in 2000. “We competed against another studio in Sterling in 2003, and I guess they were just impressed with us and they asked me if I would start a studio over here,” Cassie said. She said initially she wasn’t sure because she was happy at her studio in Geneseo, but after meeting with the inter-

Michael Krabbenhoeft/

Cassie Foster runs Cassie’s Dance Academy, which has been increasing in size every year since it opened in 2004. ested Sterling residents there were about 50 people prepared to take dance lessons from her. She put together a packet and had people hand

them out around town. “It was kind of a cool thing, because I didn’t really know these people but they just had confidence in me I guess,

so it was kind of a cool thing,” she said. “So they got this place for me, the Grange, and I started a studio and it just grew and grew and then I closed my one in Geneseo because the one here just kind of took off.” Every year, more students come to Cassie’s and she currently has about 175 recreational students and 90 competition students. She said recreational students take classes just for fun and are offered ballet, tap, jazz and hip-hop. Competition students compete in ballet, jazz, tap, hip-hop, contemporary, modern and character dances. Cassie said she used to teach everything herself, but has taken on two former students, Kylie Reyes and Kallie Timmons, to teach the younger kids. The academy serves students age 2 and a half to seniors in high school.

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Fall 2018 “They’ll grow up and I’ll see them graduate, so that’s been kind of cool to watch them become a little kid into an amazing dancer,” she said. “It’s kind of a cool thing to watch.” She said her choreography here is more modern than what was being taught at her old studio, and parents appreciated that as well how she is with the kids – nice but direct. Stacey Kested, 40, of Sterling, said she started coming to Cassie’s Dance Academy recitals before her daughter, Ellie, was even born. Her niece danced at Cassie’s, so she’s been to the past 12 recitals. “I remember being pregnant with Ellie and I couldn’t wait for her to be born so she could start dancing,” she said. “She started dancing when she was 2 and a half.” Kested said Ellie, 10, did recreational classes for a few years and started on the competition team when she was 5. She said Ellie loves dancing the theatrical jazz numbers.

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Cassies Dance Academy Address: 13686 Galt Road, Sterling Phone: 815-718-3021 Online: On Facebook Kested’s always amazed at what Cassie is able to come up with. “We’re just blown away, what she comes up with and what the girls are capable of doing,” she said. “I’m amazed at how quickly she pushes them and how much they can do at such an early age.” Kested said there are few teams with girls their age that can do what they can. She said when families from different studios sit near them in the audience it’s always cool to hear them talk about how amazed they are by their kids, because it’s got to be something special. “They seem to win a lot and it’s really, in my opinion, the choreography,” she said. “Every competition we go to, [Cassie] wins multiple choreography awards. So I think

Her second year on the competition team, they competed in a small group theatrical number and won an award out of all age groups and styles to perform. “They were 6 at the time, and at their first competition they won the most outstanding dance of the entire day at the competition,” Kested said. “It was pretty phenomenal.” She said all of the girls are really invested in dance, and it is one big family. She said the older girls are always taking the younger girls under their wings and everybody is always cheering each other on without competitiveness. “It gets better every year,” Kested said. “The dances change and are more amazing. ... I don’t know how she tops herself every year, but she does.”

you can have good dancers, but if you don’t have the choreography it doesn’t stand out as much.” When things don’t come easy or naturally for some kids, Cassie said giving them an extra push and believing in them gives them self-confidence and they bloom. The competition team gets stronger every year and did incredible last season, Cassie said. Last year at competition, she won two choreography awards out of about 200 dances both times and the girls won first overall in most categories. “This is what I love, that we can have a class where we’re wild and fun and everybody’s jumping on each other and having a ball, “ Cassie said. “But then we can be cool, stop and be serious and do ballet and slow it down, and we just kind of go back and forth pretty easily between the two. “I just really like working with the kids; it’s rewarding.”


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Fall 2018

Gateway gets you there Travel company has adapted with changes in industry over the years BY LUCINDA HALL For Sauk Valley Business Journal

CLINTON, Iowa – As a certified travel consultant and accredited cruise counselor for Gateway Travel and Cruise in Clinton, Iowa, Mary Jo Dopson has assisted thousands on their quest for that special personal or business destination. Fresh out of college in 1984 and just 22, Dopson joined Gateway Travel, not knowing that she had landed her dream job.That was 34 years ago and she has been a part of an industry that has undergone significant changes and redefined itself to meet people’s needs in an everchanging travel environment. Gateway Travel and Cruise has an enviable history. Established in 1945, it has been in business for almost

Gateway Travel and Cruise Address: 343 Fourth Ave. South, Clinton, Iowa Phone: 563-242-1025 Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday Online: and Facebook three-quarters of a century. Early on, coordinating train transportation was a primary business focus. Today, the business is owned by father and daughter, Robert and Stacey Schroeder, and the array of services and programs offered is practically endless. The availability of online travel options has been the demise of many travel companies over the past 2 decades, but not so with Gateway Travel.

Michael Krabbenhoeft/

Denise Mangin (left), Stacey Schroeder, Jackie Gerlach and Mary Jo Dopson stand in front of Gateway Travel and Cruise in Clinton. “Travel agents might seem like relics from another era,” Dopson said. “I believe Gateway has survived because we keep reinventing ourselves to fit the travel needs of our area.” The most defining event

happened Sept. 11, 2001. “The world and Gateway Travel really did stop spinning on Sept. 11,” she said. “We did out best to find rental cars, hotels or return flight for stranded passengers.”

Sauk Valley Business Journal

Fall 2018 In the aftermath, unimagined changes and regulations changed the dynamics of travel and threatened the viability of the agency, resulting in a staff reduction and significant profit loses. “But America is resilient and America got moving again,” she said. The company differentiates itself by helping clients navigate the complex travel and internet jargon with a team approach. In addition to the Schroeders and Dopson, Jackie Gerlach supports clients as a travel concierge to answer questions, helping to ensure travelers are comfortable with all their travel specificsm while and Denise Mangin handles the bookkeeping and accounting details. So, what can a travel professional provide? “There are some things technology can’t replicate and the personal touch is one of them,” Dopson said. “I love the internet and couldn’t live without it. But a travel agent can give you advice and personal attention. We’re there to answer your questions and we really do

Tips and advice As a seasoned traveler herself, Mary Jo Dopson offers some professional tips and advice. • It’s not an urban myth: mid-week travel is always less expensive than weekends. • Prevent sprinting to a connecting gate; any layover under 45 minutes is probably a bad idea. • 24-hour secret: Legally, a person has 24 hours to cancel a flight after booking, but not a second more. • Hotel heads up: While it’s relatively new, some hotels are taking a concept from the airlines. Be sure to make certain a hotel hasn’t instituted a non-refundable cancelation penalty fee. • Dopson’s best travel advice: “Never stand when you can sit. Never sit when you can lie down. And never pass up the chance to use the bathroom!” care. We want to have a relationship with our customers.” Novices beware. “The internet can cause illusions and confusions. On travel sites, every cruise and resort looks like paradise. With a travel agent, you’ll know who you are booking through and just where your money is going.” she said. “We want all our trips to add up to a great experience at a great price.” What’s more, agents can save clients money in the long run, find exactly what they’re looking for and keep travel dollars

in the local economy. Agencies, as professionals, have access to perks and resources that allow them to enhance clients’ travel not found on online sites. Perhaps most important, should travelers encounter any difficulties, Gateway Travel is the go-to resource to help resolve any issues, regardless of the destination. Today, the agency offers everything from day trips to Chicago Cubs games, to group foreign travel. A quick visit to the website shows trips into 2019, including Navy Pier and

Page 9 Mall of America. How about a spring trip to Savannah and Charleston? There are also group trips planned to Ireland, London and Scotland. The ever-growing requests for both domestic and international destination weddings has become increasingly trendy. Gateway Travel can coordinate just about every detail except cutting the cake. And don’t forget the honeymoon and special anniversary get-a-ways. Also popular are bachelor and bachelorette destination parties. Cruises are a specialty of the agency. Whether travelers want to stay close to home or venture internationally, Gateway Travel offers expert planning for luxury, river and ocean cruises. Current popular destinations are Cancun and Alaska. Quebec City is also a favorite suggestion as it has the charm of France without the long plane travel. Dopson’s picks for new places to see are Cuba and Iceland. “They are both secret gems, alive with history,” she said. “People should see them now before they get too busy. Tourism has a way of changing a country.”

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Fall 2018

Keeping busy at Deer Valley BY PHILLIP HARTMAN For Sauk Valley Business Journal

For Holly Davis, there aren’t many breaks between home and work. She’s constantly on the go as Deer Valley Country Club’s venue coordinator and graphic designer. Davis started in February, and helps schedule weddings, reunions, proms, and other events while working with future brides and grooms on getting their big day perfect with invitations and more. When Davis goes back home to Milledgeville, she’s got a new son, Koster, born June 19, and daughter, Breanna, 3, to keep her and husband, Clint, on the go. “I love time with family. My daughter loves the zoo,� Davis, 35, said. Davis, a Milledgeville High School graduate, said she taught herself how to do graphic design. She also honed her celebration planning skills by starting out in wedding invitation design at SBM in Sterling, where she worked from 2012 to 2017. “I designed more than 125 invitation sets my first year at SBM, both invitations and envelopes,� Davis said. Once she started at Deer Valley, Davis found the facility doesn’t have a slow season either.

Michael Krabbenhoeft/

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Fall 2018 Davis also can create custom invitations for wedding parties, with no geographic limits. Most of the clients come from the Sauk Valley, with some from Princeton and Mendota. She also helps with decorations for receptions. Davis said many brides are going with rustic themes, using wood crates, burlap, lace and other materials. “I’ve got one in a couple of weeks going all modern. One bride did a bookthemed wedding with library cards as save-the-date items,” Davis said. Often, engaged couples will bring their own materials or go to decorators, such as Selmi’s or Behrz Bloomz in Rock Falls. Davis’ work on invitations can be done with a quick turnaround. She has a number of printers and paper cutters in her office, and can create seating charts as easily as she can make signs. “They tell me what they like and don’t like, and I give them a sample. It can be done in 1 to 3 business days,” Davis said. Wedding ceremonies also can be held at Deer Valley, as well as receptions. About 25 percent of weddings at the club involve ceremonies as well as receptions. The facility can seat up to 450 people, and isn’t just for weddings. “We also do reunions, fundraisers, proms, business meetings, birthday events, graduations, and anniversary parties,” Davis said. Planning ahead is key for wedding and

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The banquet room at Deer Valley Country Club in Deer Grove. other reservations. Davis showed copies of an invitation she’s already done for Christmas. “You want to book at least 6 months out, and get invites in the mail 8 weeks before the wedding,” Davis said. She can do invitations for people who aren’t having functions at Deer Valley. One bride who contacted Davis is from Haywood, Wisconsin.

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Fall 2018

Take a cruise out to Kegger’s BY JESSIE KERN For Sauk Valley Business Journal

Alex T. Paschal/

Heath and Beth Warner have renovated and reopened a Sterling pub as Keggers’s Tap House. ™

Kegger’s Tap House has just opened in Sterling and its owners want people to know it’s more than just a bar. Heath and Beth Warner, who also own Warner’s MVP Lounge, 3 E. Third St., and The Boulevard Pub and Grill, 2501 Ave. E, wanted their newest business to offer an environment that all ages could enjoy. The name Kegger’s Tap House, 13464 Galt Road, was coined from the bar’s 36 taps and 24 different beers, as well as the whiskey barrel theme. Dan Winstead, owner of Winstead Pallet Salvage right behind the bar, helped the Warners with design ideas and renovations. “I can’t take all the credit,” Heath said. Winstead helped transform genuine whiskey barrels from Wis-

consin into tables. “He’s really good with designing and making things like that so we ordered the table tops and he built the bottoms,” Heath said. “He made the tables himself up at his shop and they turned out wonderful.” Heath said they considered naming the place “The Barrel House,” but ultimately decided against it because there are so many across the country. He said Kegger’s is simple, catchy, and easy for people to remember. Kegger’s Tap House has the Tap Room, Barrel Room, a banquet room, and a outdoor space called The Beer Garden. “The Barrel Room is what we consider our high-end restaurant,” Heath said. “We serve really, really good food.” He said there is a “really great atmosphere” and it’s “family friendly.”


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Fall 2018 The space also features TVs so customers won’t miss a minute of the big game. Beth said they will also be building a tiki bar for the Beer Garden. “It’s a destination,” she said of the revamped bar that previously housed The Tin Roof Tavern and Cochran’s Pub before that. “You can be outside at the tiki bar, you could be at the bar, you can be in here golfing, you could have a benefit, and you can have the dining room. I mean there’s so many different things going and it’s for all ages.” Heath said he always felt the need for another restaurant to serve steaks and seafood, because the town didn’t really have that. “We want to be known for the best steaks in town, really good seafood, good wings, good burgers, great cold beer on tap,” he said. The tap system is the same one used at The Boulevard, and Heath said it’s the best tap system available. Beth said the size of the location is what drew them to

Kegger’s Tap House Address: 13464 Galt Road, Sterling Phone: 815-716-8915 Online: Facebook open another bar. The Boulevard is not large enough to host bigger groups. “Sometimes people want to have private parties and stuff,” she said. “They love the food, but ... we just don’t have the space [at The Boulevard],” she said. She said they really wanted to change the atmosphere of the business and make it more family friendly. “That’s why we changed it,” Beth said. “We added a hood in the back so we could have a grill, so it’s a full fledged kitchen now where it wasn’t before.” The possibilities the new bar offered was a huge draw. “We could do everything that we wanted to do here,” Heath said. “We could have weddings, we could have banquets, we could have

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graduation parties, we could have benefits for fundraisers, we could have school functions.” Along with the addition of more high end food, Kegger’s Tap House also has slot machines and a golf and hunting simulator. Heath said he’s always wanted a golf simulator, having been a golf pro for 13 years, and Winstead also hoped they could add it to the business. The simulator has 76 courses and people can choose to play 9 or 18 holes at $30 for the hour. Heath plans to have tournaments in the winter. He also said he plans to teach lessons using the simulator. “And we live in the country with a lot of hunters, so we had the hunting feature added to it,” Beth said. Heath said people can do target or skeet shooting and hunt bears, deer and other animals on the hunting simulator. There are multiple TVs in both the Tap and Barrel rooms for people to watch sports on and the Barrel Room also has

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a smaller version of the main bar built inside. “We could have just turned key and opened it when we got it in March but we’re like, ‘No,’ you know, we wanted to add the floor, we added the drywall, we built that whole new bar that wasn’t there, the bathrooms weren’t there,” Beth said. She said previously the Barrel Room was metal with a concrete floor so they wanted to make the atmosphere more comfortable and welcoming. Serenia Law, general manager, said people can reach out to her for inquires about renting the space out. She said people can rent any of the rooms, or the entire building if they’d like. Law said it’s been amazing to see the overall transformation of the building. We want the bar to be “the place that people want to drive out to because it has something that nobody else has,” Heath said. “We really pride ourselves on hacving something for everybody.”

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Sauk Valley Business Journal

Fall 2018

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Nail boutique joins skin care studio BY JESSIE KERN For Sauk Valley Business Journal

DIXON – When it comes to their body of work, a pair of Dixon business owners share the same philosophy: to not only help customers feel more comfortable in their own skin, but healthier in it too. Kate’s Skin Care Studio and Plum Nail Boutique each focus on different parts of the beauty experience – one’s about skin care and one’s about nail care – but the owners approach their work much the same way, each aiming to help their customers look good and feel good. And they don’t have to go far to share beauty tips; they’re in the same space. Kate Tobias, 44, of Dixon, opened Kate’s Skin Care Studio at 92 S. Hennepin Ave. 2 years ago and Dana Ryan, 42, joined her in March, opening Plum Nail Boutique. Tobias focuses on skin treatment, customized facials and eyebrow work, while Ryan uses

Treat yourself

Michael Krabbenhoeft/

Kate Tobias (left) of Kate’s Skin Care Studio and Dana Ryan of Plum Nail Boutique share a space at 92 South Hennepin Ave. nontoxic polishes and focuses products on their customers. on all-natural nail care for her “People really do appreciate manicures and pedicures. She that we’re not pushy, about makes her own scrubs, butters, anything really,” Ryan said. cuticle and massage oils and “We trust what we do is at soaks in her Plum Spa Apothsuch a good level that they’re ecary, using organic oils and going to come back in, and other natural products. that’s what we want.” “It’s a cleaner, it’s a healthier Both women strive to go beauty experience,” Ryan beyond traditional customer said.“It’s more mindful about service, encouraging their what you’re putting on your clients to not just treat thembody.” selves, but to take care of Neither woman pushes their themselves.

Plum Nail Boutique is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday; from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday; from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday; from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday; and by appointment. Call 815-590-0215 or find it on Facebook. Kate’s Skin Care Studio is open by appointment. Call 773-936-1596 or find it on Facebook. “It’s really like a relationship,” Tobias said. “You get to know your clients and think of them more as friends than clients.” Ryan agrees. Because their work is so client-focused, sometimes it feels more like hanging out with girlfriends, she said. “I’m just so blessed that this is my job.” Tobias feels the same way. “Sometimes I’m at work and I think, ‘I can’t believe this is my job.’”


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116 E. First Street, Dixon Each Tuesday & Thursday from 5:30 - 6:30 pm 1104 N. Brinton Avenue, Dixon Wednesdays from 6:00 - 7:00 pm Providing healthy meals for those in need

Yoga KSB Lovett Center | 101 W. Second Street Every Wednesday from 6 - 7 am and 12 - 1 pm For all skill levels! $5 per class, no RSVP needed

KSB Community Wellness - (815)284-5719

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SVN_Business Journal_090718