West Side Tractor

West Side Tractor opens new headquarters in Lisle

The Benck family, ownership of West Side Tractor Sales and RCE Equipment Solutions, are thrilled to announce the opening of their new headquarters. After almost 60 years, the Naperville location (1400 W. Ogden Ave) has been relocated to 3300 Ogden Avenue, Lisle, IL 60532. This is a homecoming for the local family business as West Side Tractor Founders Rich and Mary Benck started the dealership in Lisle, Illinois in 1962. The original 1,000-square-foot West Side Tractor branch was located three miles down the road from where the new headquarters stands today.

The Lisle headquarters project was in the works for almost five years from start to finish. Finding land in the Chicago area that would work for a construction dealership in an ideal location is a difficult task. The Benck family finally decided on an 11 acre property that had sat vacant since 2008 when the car dealership closed. The dealership facility was in fairly good condition with a layout that could work so the Benck family, along with Barnes Architects of Elmhurst, chose to do a full renovation of the property and add on a shop.

“We took everything that we had learned from designing heavy equipment facilities and applied that to creating the Lisle headquarters,” said Steve Benck, President of West Side Tractor. “We focused on the needs of our customers and employees to create a space that not only functions with maximum efficiency, but is also comfortable and inviting and showcases the construction industry.”

Celebrating the History of Construction Equipment

The concept for the front of the building was a glass toy box with floor to ceiling glass windows. On the showroom floor, there are ten antique tractors on display. Each machine has a story that is significant to West Side Tractor, John Deere or represents a pivotal moment in the last 100 years of heavy equipment innovation. The Benck family, specifically Rich, Tom and Steve Benck, are passionate about restoring antique tractors and are excited to share their personal collection with the community. The showroom will be used for events and open to fellow tractor enthusiasts and to inspire the next generation to join the construction industry. Visitors can enjoy the stories of the equipment, including:

  • A 100-year-old 1920 Waterloo Boy, just a handful of these are left. The Waterloo marked John Deere’s entrance into the tractor market.
  • A 1959 Model 440 Loader Backhoe, one of the first machines that West Side Tractor Founder Rich Benck ever sold in this territory with a decal from the original Lisle, IL facility. This tractor was found sitting in a farmer’s barn in Joliet, IL in 2019.

Supporting West Side Tractor Customers

The Lisle facility was designed with customer needs on the forefront. With an easily accessible parts counter and curbside parts pickup, customers can get what they need on the go. The new 16 bay shop has six 5-ton and two 10-ton cranes which allow West Side Tractor technicians to perform services and repairs in a timely and efficient manner. Fluids are plumbed throughout the whole shop with reels in each bay. Each bay includes a new tool bench and paperless work station complete with laptops so technicians can easily run diagnostics, search John Deere portals, access records and update work order details as the work is being done. There are also four separate wash racks for cleaning.

The Lisle headquarters will also be West Side Tractor’s first John Deere certified rebuild facility. This includes a designated clean room with craning capabilities to rebuild engines and components for production class equipment.

Upstairs, there is a state-of-the-art training area that will be offered to customers to utilize. The West Side Tractor team can tailor customized presentations – from machine walk-arounds to safety or technology training sessions– all onsite, any time of the year.

A Home Away From Home for Employees

“We wanted to create a space that is representative of the talent and capabilities of our team,” said Diane Benck, VP of Operations. “Our employees spend the majority of their time each day with us so it was important to our family to provide an environment that not only sparks teamwork and creativity, but that employees have all the tools and resources they need to be as successful as possible in their role.”

Collaboration was a key part of the design. Corporate functions that are currently scattered between West Side Tractor branch locations will be transitioned in-house including the positioning division, fleet services, rental and used equipment. Collaboration is integral in creating customer solutions and brainstorm sessions. Employees have several areas throughout the building to meet and converse with customers and co-workers.

A Nod to the Past, Ready for the Future

The Lisle facility was also designed with the future in mind. For example, with the influx of online parts ordering, the facility has areas to adapt to a fulfillment warehouse concept. The Benck family is also continuing their commitment to diversifying the workforce. The Lisle facility has a female technician locker room and a nursing room for new mother’s transitioning back into the workforce.

There is also much more technology implemented throughout the headquarters, including large touchscreens in the service manager office that tracks and schedules all the jobs open in the shop by employee and a live map showing all field service vehicles on the road. There is also an interactive kiosk on the showroom floor that customers can utilize to search used equipment, send new product brochures to their emails, order parts, and explore historical West Side and John Deere content.

“Our previous Naperville store was special because every office, every service bay had a story or memory from our 58 year history. Our employees at the Naperville branch have been an extension of our family for a long time,” said Lauren Coffaro, third generation ownership. “But this new Lisle facility, this is for the future. This is a place where we can innovate and grow, add new products and expand our teams. It is representative of our commitment to our customers and partners to be the best heavy equipment customer service provider in the Midwest. This is an exciting chapter in the West Side Tractor legacy.”

Made in DuPage

Made in DuPage

Manufacturing is a major part of our region’s heritage. As the 5th-largest industry in DuPage County, manufacturing employs more than 57,000 people. This October, we are celebrating Manufacturing Month by sharing the stories of the products, flavors, foods, and more that are Made in DuPage

 

Flavorchem 

Downers Grove | Flavor, Color, and Ingredient Solutions

This DuPage company uses science to make things taste delicious and smell amazing. Founded in 1971 and headquartered in Downers Grove since 1982, Flavorchem creates and manufactures flavor, color and ingredient solutions, including many organic-certified products. Meanwhile, their fragrance division, Orchidia Fragrances, develops inspired creations through the researchers’ knowledge and passion for fragrance. The company’s sweet, savory, sour and spicy creations are produced at manufacturing facilities throughout the world. 

Flavorchem Downers Grove

 

MedGyn

Addison | Medical Products, Devices, and Technologies

This DuPage innovator makes technologies that improve women’s health worldwide, including in remote areas with limited access to healthcare. Headquartered in Addison, MedGyn is present in more than 140 countries, delivering a comprehensive portfolio of OB/GYN products.

MedGyn DuPage

 

Ball Horticultural Company

West Chicago | Ornamental Plant Breeder, Producer, and Wholesale Distributor 

Have a garden? Chances are, your plants are rooted in the work of Ball Horticultural Company, right here in West Chicago, DuPage County. A family-owned business founded in 1905, Ball Horticultural is on a mission to be the world leader in the research, breeding, production and marketing of ornamental crops. Its innovative and award-winning work can be found in gardens across six continents.

<Ball Horticultural Company DuPage County

 

Pioneer Services Inc.

Addison | Precision Parts

This DuPage manufacturer makes custom parts that are used in some of the world’s most important products—including lab equipment where COVID-19 vaccines are being tested, cooling machines used in giant data centers, hydraulic equipment for energy producers, and hundreds more. Headquartered in Addison, Pioneer Service Inc. is a Women-Owned Small Business with 30 years of experience. 

Pioneer Services DuPage County

 

Greenleaf Foods, SPC

Elmhurst | Plant-Based Foods

Some of the North America’s most delicious plant-based protein is made right here in DuPage County! Headquartered in Elmhurst, Greenleaf Foods, SPC, is owner of popular brands Lightlife® and Field Roast, which create nearly 50 plant-based products. Today, the brands have taken a leading market position in the refrigerated, plant-based protein category in the U.S., and they plan to continue enticing new customers who never knew that plant-based protein could taste so good. 

Greenleaf Foods DuPage County

 

Molex

Lisle, Naperville | Connectivity Solutions Provider

This DuPage business is enabling life-saving technologies during COVID-19. Headquartered in Lisle, with a manufacturing facility in Naperville, Molex works with customers in fields like healthcare and data communications to improve lives around the world. Recently, the company collaborated with customers to develop assemblies for thermal camera systems and portable ventilators, technology that’s critical to detecting infections and saving lives. 

Molex DuPage County

 

Fusion OEM

Burr Ridge | Integrated Robot Solutions

This Burr Ridge-based company engineers integrated robot solutions. For decades robotics has been reserved for large manufacturers such as automobile manufacturers, but Fusion’s affordable robotic solutions extended the market to small and medium-sized manufacturing enterprises.

Fusion OEM assembles the machines that produce the air-filled “pillows” that protect Amazon orders, machines that place the plastic “six pack” rings on beer cans, and the Carvey— a unit that small businesses, “makers” and students use to mill untold number of innovative products.

Fusion OEM DuPage County

 

IP Automation 

Downers Grove | Automation and Wire Fabrication Machinery

What do a stove and shopping cart have in common? Hint: The answer does NOT involve food. Still thinking??? Here’s the answer: Both contain BENT WIRES! The wire rack inside your oven is shaped by the same machine that creates your Costco cart. These products are made possible thanks to companies like IP Automation in Downers Grove known for its wireforming machines and automation lines.

IP Automation DuPage County

 

Antunes

Carol Stream | Custom Food Service & Water Treatment Solutions

Family-owned and operated, Antunes is a leading provider of custom countertop cooking equipment and water filtration systems. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Antunes quickly leveraged its in-house design and fabrication capabilities. Stepping into action early, they developed safety and sanitation equipment – countertop shields and hand sanitizer dispenser stands – enabling other businesses to stay open. Read more about them here.

Antunes Carol Stream Facility DuPage County

 

Victor Envelope Company

Bensenville | Commercial Printing

For over 50 years, the Victor Envelope Company has delivered on its brand promise: “Envelopes when you need them.” Residing in a 250,000 square foot, air conditioned, state of the art manufacturing and printing facility in Bensenville, the company produces more than 1 billion envelopes annually!

Its dedicated workforce of Machine Adjusters, Machine Operators, Printers, and Mechanics—just to name a few— blend modern print technology, craftsmanship and engineering to deliver the fastest turnaround times in the industry.

Victor Envelope says it embraces its social responsibility to manufacture a competitive product while minimizing any negative impact on the environment. At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the company was deemed an essential manufacturer. “We dedicated ourselves to keeping our people safe and healthy during the pandemic,” says Susan Ryan, VP of Human Resources. “COVID-19 generated an increased demand for Ballot Envelopes which we were prepared to manufacture.”

Victor Envelope DuPage County

 

For more stories like this, follow Choose DuPage and workNet DuPage on social media. 

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Why is spending at a local business better for your community?

When someone asks, “What do you love about your community?” many of us begin running through a mental list of local businesses: the boutique where you always do your holiday shopping, the amazing ice cream shop you visit after long bike rides, the pizzeria that delivers what has to be the world’s greatest Neapolitan to your front door every Friday.

Local businesses aren’t just “in” your community—they ARE your community. Those storefronts on main street give your town its unique character, making it a place where you love to live and others love to visit. They also play an outsized role in the local economy, employing your neighbors, sourcing products and services from other local businesses and recirculating the money you spend within the town. 

This year has been especially hard on local businesses, which is why we’re reminding everyone to think carefully about where they spend their money. Every time you make a purchase, you have a choice: You can give money to huge corporations, chain restaurants and online retailers. Or, you can support the independent businesses right here, funding jobs and making a big impact on the local economy. It really is up to you.

Here are a few reasons to go local:

The money you spend in your community STAYS in your community.

When you buy an album from the indy vinyl shop down the street—rather than ordering it online—the owner of that shop uses your money to cover operating costs, like utilities, equipment and payroll for employees. Then, the dollars they spent begin to recirculate within the community. The money you spent on that album flows from one local business to the next, funding jobs and stimulating the economy.

Of course, this happens when you spend your money at a chain retailer, too—but not nearly to the same extent. When it comes to the local economy, independent retailers return more than 3X as much money per dollar of sales than chain competitors.

You can see the same trend in your favorite local pizza shop, too. Locally owned independent restaurants return 2X as much to the local economy compared to chain restaurants.

Going local is better for the environment.

This is one of the less obvious perks, but it makes a lot of sense. When you buy a sweatshirt from that local boutique, you conserve the fuel and packaging that would otherwise be consumed if you had ordered from an online retailer. Another reason to feel good about going local!

Local businesses donate to local causes.

Local businesses donate to causes within your community at more than twice the rate of chains! We mentioned above that this has been a hard year for small businesses, and the same is true for nonprofits—shelters, food banks, clinics, etc. Keep them in mind when you’re considering where to spend your money.

Local businesses create local jobs.

This one’s pretty simple: Local independent businesses create higher-paying jobs for your neighbors.

And that’s good for everyone—not only those who are employed, but the entire local economy. When your neighbors have higher incomes, they have more spending power, which means that more money will circulate through your community.

Local sales contribute to local sales tax.

No one LIKES paying taxes. But, when you spend locally instead of online, the sales tax revenue from your purchase is reinvested right here in your community.

Local businesses give your community character.   

Imagine a town with only chain restaurants, big-box stores and online retailers. Would you want to visit there? No, probably not. Would you want to live there? No way!

The things we love about our communities are the things that make them unique: the people, the culture and the character of the place that is just a little bit different—or maybe a LOT different—than any other town on the planet.

But we can’t take that uniqueness for granted. To preserve the distinct character of our communities, we need to choose carefully where we spend our money and what businesses we support.

With that said, we’ll leave you with a simple call to action: If you love the people and culture of your community, show it by supporting local businesses.

This year, support your community by shopping at small retailers, ordering food from independent restaurants, staying at local hotels and visiting nearby attractions. Share this post using #CelebrateLocal to remind your friends to support local businesses.

Small Business Saturday DuPage County

Small Business Saturday is Nov. 28th. Here’s why this is the biggest one ever.

Want to make a big impact on your community?

Start small.

In 2010, that idea inspired American Express to create Small Business Saturday, a holiday that encourages people to spend their money at independently owned local businesses: shops, restaurants, hotels, attractions and more. The event started small—relatively speaking—but the public response was so enthusiastic that it quickly grew.

In 2011, local officials across the nation caught wind of Small Business Saturday and began to promote it. That same year, the Senate unanimously passed a resolution in support of the day, and communities participated in all 50 states.

Over the next decade, the holiday continued to attract more attention from consumers and businesses across the nation. In 2019, the 10th Annual Small Business Saturday hit a record high, as 110 million shoppers spent an estimated $19.6 billion at corner stores, mom ‘n’ pop shops and independent diners. It was a big day for small biz.

Small Business Saturday DuPage

It probably goes without saying that, this year, small businesses need your support more than ever. Shops, restaurants, hotels, attractions—all of them have had a tough year due to COVID-19, and you can support them by shopping for holiday gifts at local stores, ordering takeout from your favorite local restaurants, planning a staycation at a local hotel, and exploring all the fun places in your town.

But here’s the thing: When you spend money at a small business, you’re not only supporting the owner and employees of the business—you’re making an impact on the entire community. For every dollar spent at a small business, about 67 cents STAYS in the local community.

And that’s a big deal for everyone.

How are you planning to support small businesses in DuPage County? Let us know on social media using #CelebrateLocal

Antunes

With Creativity, Innovation and Care, Antunes Grows amid Pandemic

CAROL STREAM, IL – At a time when good stories are hard to find, here’s one from the heart of DuPage County.

Headquartered in Carol Stream, Antunes is both a leading manufacturer of custom foodservice and water treatment solutions and a third-generation, family-owned business—a rare combination of global scope and family values.

Like virtually all businesses, Antunes was put to the test this spring when the pandemic swept across the globe, first affecting their China facility before arriving on the doorstep of their Carol Stream headquarters. The company, which serves the foodservice industry, was forced to briefly halt its operations. However, by adopting innovative technologies, pivoting to new market segments and investing in the well-being of their team members, Antunes has weathered the economic and public health crisis of 2020.

Now, the company is not only back on its feet. It’s hiring.

“Our business needs people, and people need jobs,” says Stephanie Allen, head of HR Operations at Antunes. “Just this week alone, we had four interviews and made three offers. We currently have over 22 openings for direct-hire positions. These are full-time, benefit-eligible positions.”

 Antunes  

Two of the keys to Antunes’ success amid the pandemic are its foresight and flexibility.

Even before COVID-19, Antunes saw that the foodservice industry was on the brink of a major technological evolution. Rather than waiting for the change to come, they made it happen. 

Antunes, which serves many of the world’s largest quick-service and fast-casual restaurants – as well as gas-station convenience stores, among other market segments – began investing in automated technologies well before the rest of the foodservice industry, which has often lagged behind other fields in adopting breakthrough tech. Today, the Antunes team envisions a “connected kitchen,” where everything from food temperature to hygiene is monitored through a network of sensors and analyzed by algorithms to maximize quality, safety and efficiency. To that end, Antunes acquired Storelynk in 2019, a brand that specializes in cloud-based analytics platforms and Internet of Things (IoT) technologies for food vendors.

It’s true that Antunes manufactures equipment like toasters, steamers, grills and water treatment systems. But, with custom solutions that often integrate technology like automation and touchless dispensing (a hot product in 2020), quality toasters are far from the whole story.

“We’re a little different from other manufacturers,” says Anthony Muñoz, Global Marketing Manager of Antunes. “We really partner with our customers to create the right solution that fits their organization. That’s both from a physical standpoint, but also understanding their operations. Do they need the equipment to do certain things to fit their menu? Do they need it to operate at a different speed? What’s the volume of output?

“We have a lot of products, but they’re really custom solutions. The products change depending on who our customers are.”

That emphasis on custom solutions – as opposed to off-the-shelf products – has enabled Antunes to pivot quickly amid the pandemic and serve their clients’ rapidly changing needs. Many of their clients have managed to expand their customer base amid the pandemic by focusing on drive-thru, delivery and pickup capabilities. However, these businesses face a trio of challenges: They need an environment where team members can work safely; they need to minimize contact with food; and, at the same time, they need to produce just as much – or more – product as before. As a solutions provider, Antunes is able to work with companies like McDonald’s and Panera, which have distinct kitchen layouts and products, to design solutions for their unique challenges.

For example: This year, Antunes has ramped up production of its touchless dispensing systems. These devices automatically dispense different types of sauces – with varying viscosities and temperatures – to minimize employee contact with food. This product, like all Antunes products, can be customized to the clients’ unique foodservice environment, whether they need a compact unit, a device that’s integrated with their refrigeration system or another customized solution.

As the company expands their capabilities, Antunes is finding demand for their work in new markets—some of them surprising. Coffee shops, for example, can use the touchless dispensing systems to distribute various types of milk and milk substitutes. Convenience stores that want to do-away with messy condiment packets and hand-pump dispensers can use the touchless system for distributing ketchup and mustard.

Antunes isn’t limiting themselves to a single market, product line or solution. They’re flexible, and that’s allowed them to keep up with the rapidly changing foodservice industry – both before and during the pandemic – and expand into new markets.

Today, their manufacturing facility in Carol Stream – which, along with their innovation center in Crystal Lake, produces every product for Antunes’ domestic clients, including electronic components and even the products’ boxes – has been reconfigured to meet their clients’ new demands. That includes products like translucent shields and stands for universal hand-sanitizer.

Antunes

The other key to Antunes’ success has been the company’s ongoing investment in its people.

That story begins long before the pandemic. In fact, it goes all the way back to the early 20th Century, when the Antunes family immigrated from Portugal to the United States.

At the time, the family didn’t have many resources, but they wanted to provide the best for their son, August J. Antunes. From a young age, August had a passion for building things, and this passion came to define his life. After training in the U.S. Navy as an Aviation Machinist, August started a family in Chicago – in fact, he met his wife, Virginia, on the first night of Basic Training – and, with the support of his growing family, founded the company that would one day become Antunes. The fledgling business had its big break when it partnered with McDonald’s in 1970, just as the fast-food empire began to expand globally. As McDonald’s grew, Antunes grew with it.

But some things never changed. Even as August’s company grew – its products eventually reaching more than 150 countries – it remained a family business committed to treating every team member like one of their own.  

As an employee at Antunes, the company goes above and beyond to care for your well-being. The Carol Stream headquarters has a cafeteria, where you’ll find fresh fruit and healthy snacks throughout the day; a company library filled with books related to professional development; and quiet rooms where employees can unwind. Team members and their families even have access to an on-site health center, created in partnership with Advocate. The center is staffed with a nurse practitioner and a medical assistant, and there is no co-pay and no pharmacy charges for team members enrolled in the company’s health insurance plan. Staff also benefit from an on-site fitness center, open during and after work hours, with treadmills, weights and elliptical machines, as well as on-site trainers and a golf simulator. At the end of the workday, employees will often meet at the fitness center for yoga and Zumba classes (prior to the pandemic).

In 2016, Antunes expanded, adding 55,000-SF to their Carol Stream facility, which is now 170,000-SF. The expansion created a dedicated space for the company’s maintenance apprenticeship program, which offers employees up to 100 hours of foundational coursework and 400 hours of specialized maintenance training, covering topics such as OSHA safety, blueprint reading, precision measurement and asset management. So far, more than 70 team members have completed the program.

“We’re a learning organization and a learning culture,” Stephanie says. “We want to ensure that our team members continue to develop, which is why we offer continued education and opportunities to advance within the organization.

“We invest heavily in our people, because we want the best for them.”

Giving back is baked into the culture of Antunes. Employees are encouraged to take paid time off to volunteer. Many team members donate time and/or money to Splash, a nonprofit organization that brings clean water and other essentials to children throughout the world. In 2011, Antunes named Splash their official corporate charity. So far, the company has raised more than half a million dollars for Splash through various initiatives and events, and they continue to manufacture the organization’s water filters in their Carol Stream facility. Splash, in turn, has installed more than 1,140 Antunes water filtration systems for people in need.

“Our team members are really motivated by our work with Splash, because they’ve seen the video footage and photography that comes back,” Anthony says. “They see the impact that it has on the kids, and they get moved by it.”

For all the reasons described above, Antunes was listed among the Chicago Tribune’s Top Workplaces in 2019 and was named the 2017 Family Business of the Year by Loyola University Chicago.

Antunes

As the COVID-19 epidemic accelerated in the spring of 2020, Antunes, like many businesses, was met with the dual challenges of keeping their employees safe while continuing to run their operation.

By the time the pandemic hit the U.S., Antunes had already experienced an early wave in China, where the company has a facility in Suzhou. The Antunes leadership decided early on to temporarily close their Carol Stream facility, even before the Illinois government effectively shut down the state. Office team members were told that they would temporarily work remote, while assembly and warehouse team members were given one week of paid time off as the company reconfigured production lines and shifted schedules, modelling their decisions based on successful practices of their colleagues in China.

Production lines and the cafeteria were reconfigured to allow for social distancing. PPE was made readily available. Every employee had their temperature taken upon arrival. A new shift was added, allowing employees on the production line to socially distance and team members with children to be home during school hours.

Some employees were temporarily furloughed. However, the company kept their on-site clinic open for all team members, including those furloughed, and provided additional resources and education.

After six weeks, Antunes began inviting furloughed employees to return to work.

“We gave team members an opportunity to return based on a schedule that worked for them and their family, but we were also supportive and understanding of their challenges,” Stephanie says. “Initially, there were people who weren’t ready to return. Jane and Glenn were really sensitive to that, and we put in processes and protocols to make sure people felt good about coming back.”

Some were hesitant to return to work because their children were participating in online learning during the fall, so Antunes worked with these team members to coordinate work schedules around school schedules.

“Our message was: We got this. We’re all going to be okay, and we’re going to get through this together.”

Today, all of the company’s furloughed employees have returned to work. And now, due to the company’s creativity, innovation and genuine care for their people, Antunes is on a path to growth and success.

In DuPage County, our businesses, people and institutions are working together to succeed today and create a better tomorrow. Click or tap here to learn more about DuPage.