Scott Pauga -- like many young adults starting their careers -- left college deep in debt, but he was determined to find a way out.
As a young entrepreneur, he started out by selling refurbished electronics on eBay and Craigslist. The business started to take off, but he soon began to detect a trend.
"I soon noticed that the demand for refurbished Apple devices was huge and growing," Pauga said. "Apple makes products that really retain their value, so it makes sense that there would be a strong demand for both new and refurbished devices."
With that focus, Pauga created Second Life Mac, a buyback company for Apple products.
Second Life Mac builds its base on partnerships with schools and other enterprises by buying used Apple devices and selling the refurbished products.
Part of the sale goes back to the organizations, which allows them to create sustainable technology budgets, Pauga said.
"The income organizations receive for their aging devices can be used to invest in new technology," he added.
The company has grown steadily since Pauga founded it in 2015, so much so that in January it moved to a new, 42,000-square-foot facility in Skokie, where Pauga and his staff of 55 employees gather, refurbish and resell used iPads, iPhones, Mac laptops and computers, and other devices.
Pauga notes as the business grew, he realized he couldn't do everything on his own.
So he's now focused on finding the right people who can help build the business, which he stresses is at the core to Second Life Mac's success.
"With a fast-growing company, it's tempting to hire people quickly to get a spot filled," he said. "Yet I've learned that it's really important to hire people who fit where your business will be two years from now.
"Those are the people who will help the company grow. It's also important to hire people who understand and share the company's vision and core values. This creates a solid foundation for future growth."
Pauga notes building the team at Second Life Mac is one of the best things of his job.
"I love challenging individuals, providing guidance but giving them space to find a solution, and watching them grow," he said.
"I also enjoy telling the story about our company and what we are doing that's so different. Every time I relay our story to a customer, a peer or while networking I get reinvigorated."
Pauga noted that while the industry itself is new, there are a lot of companies getting into the business because the barrier for entry is so low.
"Our goal now is to be creative in how we add value for our customers that goes beyond writing them a check for their devices," he said. "This includes providing leadership in educating and counseling our customers on how to get the most for their used devices."
You can reach Pauga and Second Life Mac at (847) 376-2757 or secondlifemac.com.
New division chief at Middleby
Congratulations to Scott Heim, who was recently named president of Elgin-based Middleby Ventless Solutions.
He will lead Middleby's commercial brands with ventless cooking solutions and will oversee sales and marketing, new product development and approvals, and the development of training tools.
Heim became a part of Middleby when the company acquired Oregon-based Evo America in 2018. He will continue in his role as president of Evo America. He joined Evo in 2012.
"Since Scott joined Middleby last year through the acquisition of Evo, he has been working with many of our customers on a variety of ventless concepts across all of our brands, while also incorporating QualServ manufacturing for the kitchen build when appropriate," said Middleby CEO Tim FitzGerald. "This is a growing trend in our industry and we are excited Scott will be leading this charge."
Top of their class
More shout-outs to Josh Lerner and Yalitza Brambila, who were recently honored for their work at Northwestern Mutual -- Greater Chicago.
The Skokie-based agency recognized Lerner as Financial Adviser of the Year and Brambila as the New Financial Adviser of the Year.
Lerner, a wealth management adviser, started his career at the Chicago Board of Trade and Chicago Mercantile Exchange, and joined Northwestern Mutual in 2001. He has been recognized with several awards and honors throughout his career including: Million Dollar Round Table nearly every year since 2005; three-time Lives Leader Summit winner; Platinum, Gold, Silver, and Bronze club qualifier; and New Client Bonus qualifier every year since 2004.
Brambila, a financial adviser, started her career in the public sector, working for the Chicago Public School system before joining Northwestern Mutual in 2017.
Brambila has been recognized with several awards and honors throughout her inaugural year as a financial adviser, including: Sapphire club qualifier; two-time Lives Club winner; the Life Impact award; Pacemaker award, and; she ranked 2nd in the central region, and 10th nationally for New Financial Adviser of the Year.
"The people here are what make our office special," says Tom Goris Jr., managing partner. "Our mission is to develop distinguished careers that impact our clients and our communities, and we are proud of Josh and Yali, helping them grow, reach their goals, and enjoy new opportunities that come about through success."