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updated: 8/31/2016 8:32 AM

Naperville catering company founders take the next step

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  • My Chef Catering in Naperville founders Bill and Karen Garlough are retiring and sold the business to three longtime employees.

    My Chef Catering in Naperville founders Bill and Karen Garlough are retiring and sold the business to three longtime employees.
    Daniel White | Staff Photographer, file photo



  • CEO Gary Stern of Stern Pinball, playing his AC-DC machine, is planning a party to mark the 30-year anniversary of his company.

    CEO Gary Stern of Stern Pinball, playing his AC-DC machine, is planning a party to mark the 30-year anniversary of his company.
    Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer, file photo

 
 

After nearly three decades of working side by side growing a Naperville catering company, Bill and Karen Garlough are moving onto the next phase of their lives and may travel a bit or spend the winters somewhere warm.

"We may do the snowbird lifestyle," Bill said, adding that they also want to enjoy time with friends and family. For the past 28 years, the owners have worked just about every weekend, as that's what you do when you operate a thriving catering company.

And as they have organized every aspect of the business over the years, they also spent a great deal of time developing a succession plan for My Chef Catering. In 2005, the couple outlined ways to develop, grow and exit the business. At that time, they thought it might be about 2016 when they thought about selling the business.

They were right on.

The couple do not have children. "But we have a group of dedicated extended family" that have assisted in running the company, said Bill, 64.

The couple recently announced that they sold the business to longtime employees -- Director of Catering Sales Dominick Scafidi, Executive Chef Mark Walter and Accountant Megan Rousonelos.

"This is the ideal ending," said Bill, who added that he and his wife will stay in the wings as consultants for a while.

He said it made sense to have his longtime employees continue to run the business as they know how it's done. "This provides stability for the current staff," he said, adding that the customers will also have a "seamless transition" and receive the same service they always have.

The co-owners met while working in the corporate world. They married nearly 37 years ago and decided to launch a gourmet deli with gift baskets, exported meats an cheeses and catering in Naperville. The couple saw a niche for upscale catering grow.

"During our first 10 years, we saw 40 percent growth a year," Bill said. The catering portion grew 95 percent while retail grew 5 percent," he said. In 1996, they grew the business to a larger location where catering was the focus.

How was it working with your spouse 24/7?

"Tough at times," Bill says with a laugh. He added that they split the responsibilities to help alleviate problems. "Karen handled catering and sales and delivery and I took the financial side," Bill said. "We had our own turf."

The business owners are proud of their accomplishments over the years. They were named The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Small Business of 2007, have been repeatedly recognized by top online wedding industry sites including The Knot and Wedding Wire, and recently won Naperville Magazine's Best Caterers for 2016.

They expect the recognition to continue and that the transition will be smooth. "Our goals when we founded My Chef were to create a quality-minded business, provide a stable and respectful environment for our employees and to be actively involved in our community," Bill said.

"We feel we accomplished a lot and are leaving things in good shape"

Three decades of games

Elk Grove-based Stern Pinball, the oldest and largest producer of arcade-quality pinball games in the world, is celebrating its 30th anniversary with a party on Oct. 14.

The event, to take place at Viper Alley in Lincolnshire, will include a variety of guests and performances including the lead singers of the Barenaked ladies, Ed Robertson, up and coming Chicago rocker, Aly Jaydos, and sword swallower Sally Marvel. Tickets are $35.

Gary Stern is the chairman and CEO of the company that designs, engineers and manufactures a full line of pinball games, merchandise and accessories.

PNC Bank on Pinterest

PNC Bank is turning to Pinterest to expand its financial and early childhood education initiatives in social media. Two new Pinterest boards will provide visual content where consumers, parents and caregivers are likely to search for it.

Many of PNC's financial education materials already are found online. In the second quarter of 2016, approximately 23,000 consumers viewed content related to budgeting, home buying and savings at pnc.com. PNC will use the Pinterest platform as an additional avenue to raise awareness of the content that appeals to consumers' aspirational goals.

Additional PNC Pinterest boards will provide content relevant to the home buying process and long-term financial planning. To view PNC's Pinterest boards, visit pinterest.com/pnc/.

New positions

Local banking professionals Sean Daly of Suburban Bank & Trust and Lori Murray of Inland Bank are filling vacated seats on the Elmhurst Chamber of Commerce & Industry's board of directors.

Their appointments were approved during a recent meeting.

Daly, vice president-business banking at SBT, a branch of Hinsdale Bank & Trust Co., A Wintrust Community Bank, for the past seven years, will serve out the three-year term of Chelle O'Connell expiring in November of 2017. O'Connell, president and founder of Chicagoland Group Inc., was elected as a first-term Director in the 2014 Board elections.