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Business and Industry

With major industries such as Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and manufacturers General Mills, R&D Thiel, Dean Foods, Camcar Textron, Belvedere USA Corp and Ipsen International in the fold, Boone County is committed to bringing commercial business to the area.

“The confidence for Belvidere is very high,” says Jarid Funderburg, executive director of Growth Dimensions. “As our economy recovers from the Great Recession, Belvidere and Boone County have been working tirelessly to create a stronger more accessible infrastructure for its residents and business development.

“We are completing a new interchange access point to the I-90 interstate at the west edge of town this summer,” he adds. “This tollway interchange will open the floodgates of logistical opportunity for our industrial district. We are also focusing on retail and commercial development on Illinois Route 173 in Poplar Grove located in the northern part of Boone County. Illinois Route 173 is a well-traveled route between McHenry and Winnebago counties. Our phones are ringing off the hook for all sorts of business; we are very encouraged.”

Here is a look at three successful businesses who call Boone County home.

Corrugated Metals, Incorporated
Corrugated Metals, Incorporated (CMI), a Belvidere-based company, has come a long way since it was founded in 1887, in a 5,000-square-foot building in Jersey City, NJ. CMI manufactures heavy gauge, extra-wide, corrugated roofing and siding materials for industrial and commercial buildings.

For 80 years, the company operated as a sheet metal shop for companies in the greater New York City area. However, by the 1960s, metal fabricating technologies had advanced, and so did CMI, which invested in state-of-the-art roll forming equipment and constructing a new manufacturing plant, near its original building.

By the 1970s, the company had become a leading manufacturer of metal roofing and siding products, and opened a second manufacturing plant in Chicago. CMI’s product line expanded to more than 30 different metal roofing and siding products, and by 1990, the company moved all its operations to the Midwest.

In 2005, CMI consolidated its two plants and moved to Belvidere. “Our plant was located on the south side of Chicago, and the neighborhood became deteriorated and riddled with crime,” says vice president Ken Carlton. “Belvidere turned out to be the perfect location. It has an excellent industrial base, still close enough to Chicago and the I-90 corridor and a great community for our employees to live.” In fact, many of CMI’s 18 employees rented apartments when the company was located on Chicago’s south side. In Belvidere, they have been able to purchase homes.

CMI supplies a wide-range of industries including manufacturers of horse and livestock trailers, solar energy, handling and storage, furniture, fire protection, fencing, sound proofing, boiler construction, thermal insulation, HVAC systems, and power generation.

In addition, CMI supplies corrugated metal products for industries such as dust collection, parking garage siding, petrochemical processing, heat transfer and steam generation, cement kilns, sugar manufacturing, lime production, water proofing, and coal fired boilers. CMI ships products anywhere in the world.

“Since the recession we have had to take a hard look at our business and product mix,” says Ken. “The biggest change we have made since 2009 is we’ve taken on new markets. We are in the passenger rail market now, and military products remain strong. The freight car industry is busy and we are seeing increased activity from friendly foreign militaries.”

Belvidere has become the right fit for CMI, and Carlton encourages other companies to consider Boone County. “Belvidere is a community that welcomes business,” Ken says. “There is excellent transportation, thanks to the Chicago Rockford International Airport and the cost of living is tremendous. I can’t say enough good things about the area. Moving to Belvidere was the best business decision we ever made.”

Franklin Display Group
For the Muterts, owners of Franklin Display Group (FDG), there’s more to life than working long hours. For 37 years, Franklin Display Group (FDG) has served the point of purchase display industry. Franklin Display Group designs, engineers, manufactures and distributes retail point of purchase displays and fixtures. Their work can be found in a variety of industries including, newspaper, beverages, sports, food, tools and hardware, wine and spirits, and many others.

FDG works with various OEM’s and multi-national consumer product brands in the design, engineering, manufacturing and distribution of their custom display projects; they also maintain a stock display line for beverage and newspaper.

Founded in 1978, this family-owned company began operations in Franklin Park, Ill., under the name Franklin Park Wire, with 13 pieces of used equipment and 5 employees. “My father Don Mutert Sr. worked for another OEM wire component manufacturer named Chicago Wirecraft in sales, until he left to start his own business in 1968,” says owner George Mutert. “After two partnerships with other investors under the name Donel Industries were unsuccessful, Don Sr. finally cut ties with everyone and rounded up his own crew, including children and started FDG.”

Not that it was easy in the beginning. Like with any business, FDG has seen its share of challenges through tough economies; the company has survived four recessions and ever-changing business dynamics. Business remains volatile in a competitive, ever-changing market including tremendous overseas competition. “Like any business it is difficult,” George says. “But we knew if we could build a

strong team we could make a go of it. We saw what others were doing and we knew we could make it faster and better.” FDG now ships its products all over the country and exports to Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom.

It was Fred Bryant, co-owner of Capron Manufacturing, who suggested to Don Sr. that Franklin Park Wire consider moving to Boone County. “We had outgrown our facility in Franklin Park and decided to look for another way of life,” George says. “Dad was a big horse lover and we all had a desire to try a country lifestyle, so we decided to give Boone County a shot.” They arrived in Boone County in 1985 and never looked back.

Today, the company has over 225,000 square feet of space in two facilities and over 100 employees.

“We fell in love with Boone County as soon as we got here,” says George. “It is more affordable and laid back. We look at moving here as one of the real keys to our success; the quality of life and affordability is tremendous. We could live in Chicago but at a much higher cost. Additionally, we have found a good, solid workforce here in Boone County. To us it is a great area to raise a family.”

Meyer’s Tails Up Farm
Kent and Gwen Meyer’s business, Meyer’s Tails Up Farm, 5390 Irene Rd., has gone to the dogs. Literally.

Meyer’s offers overnight lodging and grooming, doggy day care and training. There is also grooming service, obedience training, doggy transportation, agility training, dock diving and retail space, stocked with everything from designer leashes, all-natural pet treats and breed-specific people gifts, to specialty dog shampoos, therapeutic beds and aromatherapy diffusers.

The business was established by Kent’s parents on Shaw Road in 1970, and moved to the current location 16 years later. Kent began managing the business in 1989, and he and Gwen purchased it seven years later.

The facility has grown significantly since then. The main facility has been expanded and remodeled; a second building, to accommodate training, has been constructed; an above-ground pool for aqua-therapy has been installed. The rural setting features fenced-in space for supervised off-leash romps and paths for leashed nature walks. Meyer’s sees 20,000 dogs a year, and recently built a sanctuary for cats.

In addition, Meyer’s has a full-service facility in DeForest, Wis., and a third location, Meyer’s Canine Colony in Roscoe, that provides grooming and a gift shop, and also serves lodging customers who live too far north of the Belvidere location.

“We offer a lot,” says Gwen. “We have lodging for dogs whose owners are away on vacation or business travel. We also work with show dogs from Minnesota, California and Texas, who perform nationally.

A third-generation dog handler, Kent grew up in the business, with grandparents who raised Boxer show dogs and offered training in the community. “His grandmother is 95 and was a boxer breeder for 50 years and an AKC judge,” Gwen says. “She was an incredible trainer.” Kent’s parents, Brian and Cindy, were apprentice handlers when they met.

Gwen, a Wisconsin native, became interested in dog handling at age 9, after attending a dog show in Milwaukee, where she fell in love with an Irish setter. When old enough, she began volunteering for the family pet’s veterinarian; she got her first show dog when she was 13. She and Kent met while participating in junior showmanship competitions at dog shows.

The Meyers also have future plans of developing their 18.5 acres in Belvidere in order to house more activities and events. “Boone County has always been very supportive,” Gwen says. “We love being here. The area is starting to grow and we enjoy the friendliness of the people.”

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