• Posted: March 23, 2017

    Choose DuPage Panel Discusses Workforce Issues Facing Manufacturers

    Contributed and originally published by: Pioneer Service Inc. | View Original Article

    A number of organizations joined forces to discuss the growing challenge of fueling the manufacturing labor force and making more people aware of the career opportunities uniquely available in this thriving part of our economy. Experts representing manufacturers, educational institutions, non-profit governmental organizations and even a representative from the U.S. Department of Labor joined the discussion and made valuable connections at the DuPage Metals and Machinery Manufacturing event sponsored by the Choose DuPage Economic Development Alliance and the Chicago Metro Metals Consortium. 


    In the opening remarks, Dan Allen the Chairman of Choose DuPage Workforce Committee reminded us of the huge shortage of workers expected in the next 10 years. Millions of jobs in the manufacturing segment could go unfilled unless something is done to nurture the next generation of employees. DuPage and the surrounding Chicagoland area has a benefit of being one of 24 regions in the United States designated for manufacturers, so it qualifies for preferential treatment in the disbursement of grants and other incentives. Manufacturers, associations and educational organizations need to come together to take advantage of these opportunities and fill the gap.


    In this panel discussion, Pioneer Service President, Aneesa Muthana was asked about the challenges and solutions facing manufacturers. Ms. Muthana kicked off the conversation with her story of re-training her entire workforce when she had to change her business model due to overseas competition. Because skilled talent was nearly impossible to find in her new market, she relied heavily on the manufacturers of the CNC equipment for training. It took out-of-the-box thinking and strong employee loyalty to weather the change from making relatively simple parts on older screw machines, to making highly complex medical and automotive parts on new advanced Swiss CNC lathes.


    Aaron Wiegel, President of Wiegel Tool Works agreed that finding skilled labor was so difficult that his company now focused most of their efforts on educating youth about manufacturing careers and funneling them into apprenticeships. Mr. Wiegel emphasized the importance of manufacturers coming together with associations such as the TMA to promote manufacturing careers on the whole, rather than poaching employees from one another, which drives up costs for everyone. "We have to have a pipeline of applicants. This means we need to do things like sponsor high school competitions, involve parents and provide summer jobs." Ms. Muthana discussed the need to engage students younger, and has plans to have plant tours for middle-schoolers in the near future. Jim Jett, President of Chips Manufacturing, agreed and asked the educational institutions to focus on math skills which are a key component of qualifying entry-level applicants at his company. 


    John Bradarich, Affiliate Relations Manager of IMEC, who has provided countless resources to manufacturers in the region, including Pioneer Service, said that with the grants and resources available, employers in manufacturing can "hire for attitude, train for aptitude." 


    This panel discussion, which was followed by very practical advice in the subsequent panel, was a reminder to all manufacturing executives to take time to work not just in their businesses, but on their businesses, to develop tomorrow's workforce today.

    Read More →
  • Posted: March 19, 2017

    Luxury Amenities, Restaurant Planned for Marq on Main Apartment Complex in Downtown Lisle

    Development in Downtown Lisle

    Proximity to the Lisle commuter station is not the only attraction of Marq on Main, the mixed use residential community currently under development on the site what once was the Old Village Hall in Downtown Lisle. The project has a host of luxury amenities to offer residents seeking the vibrancy and convenience of downtown living coupled with the small-town ambience and natural surroundings of the “Arboretum Village.”


    The mixed-use development includes 202  1- and 2-bedroom apartments in five stories on Burlington Avenue and three stories along Main Street, with indoor parking for residents and tenants, as well as 35 new on-street parking spaces. Some 15,000 square-feet of new commercial space will add restaurant and retail uses that will strengthen the commercial district, build foot traffic and enhance the downtown as an attractive dining destination. The development will feature a new public plaza offering outdoor dining at Main and Burlington, as well an additional public plaza at Spencer and Burlington, and two rooftop courtyards providing along Burlington Avenue. An upscale restaurant and craft beer tap room is planned.


    “We are pleased to be adding to the vitality of Downtown Lisle,” says Marquette President and CEO Nick Ryan. “Mayor Broda and the Village have remained committed to economic development and this transit-oriented development is the type of development that has seen great success in surrounding communities. We expect to see the same energy and interest in downtown Lisle.”


    Amenities residents can enjoy include a resort-style pool with cabanas and sun deck, as well as a pergola lounge, fire table and grilling stations. Indoors, residents will have access to a tech lounge and a chill lounge with coffee available 24-hours. An onsite health club is also planned. The development brings an investment of $45M to downtown Lisle, and is now leasing for an expected Fall 2017 opening.


    Read More →
  • Posted: February 7, 2017

    Spotlight on Carol Stream

    Carol Stream, Illinois

    In the last year, Carol Stream economic development has been booming. Several projects (listed below) have resulted in over 1 million square-feet of new or expanded industrial building space. These projects have either been completed, are currently under construction, or under review.


    Mercedes Benz Parts Distribution Center

    Construction has been completed in October 2016 on an 84,000 square-foot addition to the company’s existing 210,000 square-foot Parts Distribution Center. Future plans call for further expansion of the Parts Distribution Center, and possible construction of a Central-US Technical Learning and Performance Training Center. 


    DCT Industrial/CoreCentric Solutions

    In October 2016, DCT Industrial completed the teardown and redevelopment of a 20-acre property on North Avenue (IL-64) with a new 350,000 square-foot build-to-suit for CoreCentric Solutions. The reverse logistics supply chain company, serving the appliance and other industries, consolidated its three previous locations in Carol Stream, Glendale Heights and Hanover Park into this single, modern building. For more information, click here.


    Packaging Personified

    Construction is currently underway on a 33,000 square-foot addition to Packaging Personified’s 81,000 square-foot headquarters facility. Packaging Personified is a flexible packaging manufacturer serving the food service, consumer products, medical, lawn and garden, and pet care industries. Work is scheduled to be completed in July 2017, and the company will add 5 new jobs in the near term, with plans to add 25 jobs over the next few years.



    Antunes, a custom solutions provider of countertop cooking equipment and water filtration systems for restaurants, is expanding their headquarters facility in Carol Stream. Construction is currently underway to bring their existing facility’s footprint to 144,000 square-feet (a 40,000 square-foot addition). Construction will be completed in August 2017, and the company plans to add 30-50 jobs as a result of the expansion. 


    Dermody Properties

    Dermody has demolished a 240,000 square-foot, obsolete building on North Avenue to make way for a modern, 381,000 square foot LogistiCenter, designed specifically to accommodate a future e-commerce tenant. As the largest new construction opportunity in the Central DuPage submarket, this state-of-the-art building is anticipated to be completed in Spring 2017. 


    S&S International

    S&S International, a specialty sheet metal fabricator, is currently in permit review for a 100,000 square-foot addition to its existing facility, located at St. Paul Boulevard in Carol Stream.


    Devanco Foods

    Devanco Foods, a manufacturer of gyros, chicken, Italian beef, Italian sausage, hamburgers and other meat products, moved to Carol Stream from Elk Grove Village in 2016. The company has already started construction of a 30,000 square-foot addition to their new facility.


    Read More →
  • Posted: February 6, 2017

    ComEd Achieves Industry Leading Reliability Results

    ComEd’s improved reliability helps drive economic growth and achieve record customer satisfaction 


    For the last five years, ComEd has updated and modernized its electrical grid to improve the reliability of its service to customers. The work has resulted in record setting performance that is also helping to power economic development and customer satisfaction. 


    In 2016, ComEd customers experienced a 15% reduction in the frequency of outages compared to 2015. This was best among all utilities according to Electric Benchmarking. Since investments began in 2012, frequency of outages has been reduced by nearly 34% and the duration of outages has been reduced by 48%. Additionally ComEd’s customer’s satisfaction ratings are at an all-time high. Market Strategies International, a top market research firm, named ComEd Most Improved Electric Utility of 2016. 


    “Improving the reliability of our system for our customers has always been the fundamental goal of our smart grid work,” said Anne Pramaggiore, president and CEO of ComEd. “Constant, ongoing review of our system allowed us to strategically invest in areas that would benefit the greatest number of customers. Our record setting performance is the result of that work and demonstrates the commitment of our employees to provide our customers with best in class service.” 


    Advanced technology like smart switches that reroute power around potential problem areas, new storm hardening solutions and cable replacement have contributed to more than 7.6 million avoided customer interruptions since 2012 – resulting in $1.4 billion in societal savings. Additionally, more than 3 million ComEd customers experienced zero or only 1 outage last year. 


    “The smart grid investment has vastly improved the infrastructure of our system,” said Terence R. Donnelly, executive vice-president and chief operating officer for ComEd. “On a daily basis and during storms, our customers are seeing less interruption in their lives and their business operations.” 


    Strong power reliability and Illinois’ low power prices are key attributes why businesses continue to commit to building facilities in our northern Illinois service territory. This is evidenced in the collective 2016 results of ComEd’s economic development allies which supported the announcement of 39,234 jobs, 59 million square feet in facilities, and $6.7 billion in capital investment. 


    “ComEd’s continued infrastructure investment aimed at modernizing and bringing innovative digital equipment to the grid is an important component to Illinois’ economic growth efforts,” said Jim Schultz, CEO of Intersect Illinois, a privately funded economic development organization. “We are pleased to see utility industry record setting reliability performance which provides businesses the assurance that Illinois is the right place for their continued growth and investment.” 

    Read More →
  • Posted: January 8, 2017

    Chinese Power Tool Manufacturer Moving its North American HQ to DuPage from Michigan

    Chervon Naperville


    A Chinese power tool manufacturer is moving its North American headquarters to Naperville from Michigan, taking over an empty new building developed for a Swedish manufacturer. 


    Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Chervon North America has subleased a 124,000-square-foot building at 1203 E. Warrenville Road, according to people familiar with the deal. The company is the North American arm of Nanjing, China-based Chervon Holdings. 


    The company plans to bring more than 200 jobs over the next three years. It will relocate 75 workers from Grand Rapids and the Chicago suburbs of South Barrington and Geneva. Also moving there will be 37 employees who were added when Chervon completed its acquisition of Mount Prospect-based Robert Bosch Tools' Skil and Skilsaw brands on January 1. The company also plans to hire 25 new workers this year and another 75 over the next three years.


    The Naperville building along Interstate 88 was developed for Swedish manufacturer SKF Group, which planned to have offices and research and development there. Gothenburg, Sweden-based SKF signed a 15-year lease with suburban developers Daniel Murphy and William Krug but decided not to move there in 2015.


    Instead, SKF sought a tenant to sublease the building. Murphy confirmed that Chervon is taking over the SKF space but otherwise declined to comment.


    The Chervon deal is good news for the west suburban economy, bringing jobs to Naperville and filling one of several big empty spaces in the area. Though the suburban Chicago office market is as strong as it has been in at least 15 years, the former OfficeMax headquarters in Naperville is empty, and ConAgra recently vacated another Naperville office building when it moved its headquarters downtown. In nearby Lisle, Navistar International is seeking a tenant to lease at least half of its campus along Interstate 88.


    It is not known how many people Chervon will employ in the Naperville building, or when it will move in. Chervon is expected to use the facility for offices and product development.


    Chervon representatives did not respond to requests for comment.


    SKF declined to comment through one of its brokers on the sublease, Cushman & Wakefield Senior Director Bruce Hopple. Another Cushman & Wakefield broker, Executive Director Lou Hall, represented Chervon in the deal.


    Workers from several Chicago suburbs and from the current Grand Rapids headquarters are expected to move to the Naperville building, which will become the firm's new North American headquarters, according to the people familiar with the lease.


    Chervon makes power tools such as saws and drills, many of which are battery powered, with brand names including Ego and Hammerhead. It also makes outdoor equipment such as lawn mowers, blowers, trimmers and chain saws. Last year, Chervon bought the Skil tool brand from Mount Prospect-based Robert Bosch Tool.


    Article originally published by: Crain's Chicago Business | Ryan Ori

    Read More →