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updated: 11/10/2016 3:22 PM

Executive ends corporate career to launch European specialty store

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  • Mike Aldrich is opening a specialty foods retailer in Naperville.

    Mike Aldrich is opening a specialty foods retailer in Naperville.
    Courtesy of Vom Fass

  • Customers are able to try oils, vinegars and spirits at the new Vom Fass store opening in Naperville. Founded in Germany, Vom Fass translates as "from the cask" or "on tap." Many of the artisanal products are literally dispensed from taps and kegs.

    Customers are able to try oils, vinegars and spirits at the new Vom Fass store opening in Naperville. Founded in Germany, Vom Fass translates as "from the cask" or "on tap." Many of the artisanal products are literally dispensed from taps and kegs.
    photos Courtesy of Vom Fass

  • Amanda D. Howland

    Amanda D. Howland

  • Vince Gumma, president of American Vending Sales in Elk Grove VIllage, announced that his firm purchased H.A. Franz, where Joe Franz is the president.

    Vince Gumma, president of American Vending Sales in Elk Grove VIllage, announced that his firm purchased H.A. Franz, where Joe Franz is the president.

 
 

Vom Fass, a specialty foods retailer catering to foodies seeking out gourmet oils, vinegars, spices and "fine spirits," is opening its first Illinois store this month.

Franchisee Mike Aldrich is launching the European-style store at 121 S. Washington St. in Naperville. The store, which is popular in Germany, offers an array of culinary items as well as brand name wines and exclusive liqueurs, all from artisanal producers, using natural processes, sustainable agriculture and ethical sourcing.

Aldrich, who spent more than three decades in the corporate world, first saw the concept in Madison, Wisconsin, where the U.S. corporate headquarters and a store are located. What sets the retailer apart is that customers are encouraged to taste the products, from the oils and vinegars to the alcohol. In addition, customers can buy the product in different size bottles.

"We have some specialty items," said Aldrich, 57. "For example, we sell single-malt scotches that you can't find anywhere in the U.S."

Founded in Germany, Vom Fass translates as "from the cask" or "on tap." Many of the artisanal products are literally dispensed from taps and kegs.

The Elmhurst resident said there is a "wow factor" when patrons come in. "If you can get to that wow factor on your first taste, you should do pretty well with some added customer service," Aldrich said. "It's a fun shopping experience. It's unlike any other store."

He added that he and his wife, Gerrie, had a great experience at the Madison store, where they attended a wine and chocolate tasting. Aldrich saw that they were looking for franchisees and "the rest was history," he said with a laugh.

Aldrich, who said his first wife passed away 2.5 years ago, left a career in senior management at a U.S. division of an Irish company that develops food products and sports drinks to launch the new business.

He added that he expects the culinary side of his new business to do about 60 to 65 percent of the volume at the store where the spirits, wine and liquor will bring in two-thirds of the revenue because of the price points. "We're offering premium products," Aldrich said.

In his free time, Aldrich enjoys doing triathlons and marathons. And keeping with the German theme, he also enjoys riding his BMW motorcycle.

Visiting Lake County

Visit Lake County announced the addition of two new members to their board of directors: Ray Keller, representing the village of Lake Zurich and Kip Stehling, representing the village of Mundelein.

Keller is the village manager of Lake Zurich, while Stehling is the general manager of the DoubleTree by Hilton Libertyville-Mundelein. Stehling and Keller will be voting board members each serving two-year terms. Mundelein recently joined Visit Lake County as a community partner.

American Vending Sales grows

American Vending Sales is expanding again. The Elk Grove Village-based company recently bought H.A. Franz & Co. located in Texas.

The merger, effective Nov. 1, added offices in Houston and Dallas to AVS' current locations near Milwaukee and Minneapolis, and their headquarters near Chicago. All locations will conduct business together under the name American Vending Sales Inc.

"As the amusement and vending industries become more consolidated and competitive, we thought it was time to make a move," said Joe Franz, president of H.A. Franz.

"H.A. Franz has been a leader in sales, service and integrity for the last 60 years and we are proud to be able to call them friends," added Vince Gumma, president of AVS.

National attention

College of Lake County Trustee Amanda D. Howland of Lake Zurich was elected to the diversity committee of the Association of Community College Trustees for a two-year term. The committee ensures leadership for the involvement of historically underrepresented diverse populations within the governance activities of ACCT and advises the board how to strengthen links with minority membership.

Howland has had an extensive career, first as a teacher of behavior disordered students, then as an elementary school administrator and now as an attorney and mediator practicing in the areas of civil rights and constitutional law. She earned her law degree from Chicago-Kent College of Law, Illinois Institute of Technology.