Finisher medals are a symbol of hard work, dedication and accomplishment, to say the very least for some. That’s why husband and wife, Ken and Nell Posmer of Downers Grove decided to find a better solution to showcase their hard earned Medals rather than store them in a drawer. After completing the Boston Marathon, Ken decided his finisher medal was too precious to toss in the drawer with the rest. Using his engineering skills combined with Nell’s artistic talent, the two created a very unique stainless steel Medal Display to showcase Ken’s accomplishments. Shortly after, Nell was the official artist for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon in Chicago. While she was at the race expo showing off her artistry, runners noticed Ken’s stainless steel Medal Display that was hung among her paintings. “They came up to me, a runner offered $200 for Ken’s display,” Nell said. “They wanted to know where they could purchase it.” A light came on, and a fire was lit, and that is when the couple decided to give the American Dream a shot and get their company off the ground. With a plethora of CAD/CAM and Graphics Software to work with and unsurpassed manufacturing, Blue Diamond has the ability to handle orders ranging from one special customized Display to high volume Medal Displays for larger events. “Our product is unique because it’s designed and manufactured carefully”. Nell goes on to say that, “Our combined creativity, experience and skill sets allow us to produce Medal Displays unlike anything else on the market. We purposely push the limits of design and our machine capabilities.” Blue Diamond Athletic Displays is the true epitome of “small business.” The company, which is run by only two people, is mainly located inside Ken and Nell’s home in Downers Grove. This is where they brainstorm ideas and create prototype designs. In addition, the two business owners utilize space in a Downers Grove warehouse to store and ship their products, and then manufacture and produce the displays in Carol Stream. The couple was able to secure a partnership with the Boston Marathon in 2014. Since then, 13 major sporting organizations has been partner up with Blue Diamond and their resume has been growing ever since. They hope to develop future partnerships with more of the big players, including marathons in London, New York, Chicago and beyond. Metro Chicago Exports Grant Program The goal of the Metro Chicago Exports Grant Program is to help small-to-medium sized enterprises grow in international trade, specifically through export initiatives. The $225,000 program, funded by JPMorgan Chase, awarded grants up to $5,000 to businesses throughout Illinois. Currently, there are three waves of funding available to businesses in DuPage County through the MCE program. Blue Diamond Athletic Displays, along with one other DuPage County business were awarded their grant in Wave 1. There were seven grants awarded to DuPage County businesses in Wave 2 and the application period for Wave 3 will be opening in January 2016. MCE grant program dollars can be used for many types of business services, including but not limited to: Business Management, Tax and Legal help, Supply Chain Analysis, Budgeting, Export Counseling and Planning, Executive Training, website and marketing campaign development and International Tradeshows. Blue Diamond Athletic Displays will use their grant towards translation services on the website. “We distribute our displays all over the world. This grant allows someone in Spain, or Tokyo, to adequately read and purchase off our website without a language barrier,” Nell added. The Metro Chicago Exports Grant Program is an unprecedented collaboration between the seven counties in Northeastern Illinois (Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry and Will) and the City of Chicago to increase exports from SMEs. “We never win anything,” Nell said. “We’re so thankful for this program and the opportunity to spread the word about Blue Diamond Athletic Displays.” Blue Diamond Athletic Displays offers over a dozen different variations of designs, including stainless steel and solid oak products. Visit athleticdisplays.com to learn more. Visit metrochicagoexports.com to learn more.