contentsCity of Des Plaines ILads

Taking Care of Business

It’s not always easy to find the right location to start a business. Even after ground is broken, there are many factors determining whether the business can thrive. In Des Plaines, the proof of a favorable business climate is in the longstanding businesses that have been around for decades and show no signs of going anywhere else.

One of the oldest businesses in Des Plaines is the Square Deal Shoe Store on Miner Street. Owner Jack Capozzolli’s grandfather started the shop in 1921, when Des Plaines was a much smaller place to do business. Originally, Capozzoli’s grandfather lived and worked in the Logan Square neighborhood of Chicago. However, skyrocketing crime and the mob culture of the 1920s made him decide to move his family out to the quieter, more rural area northwest of the city. Settling in Des Plaines, he opened the tiny shoe shop. His family lived in the back of the building that housed the store until the late 1930s, when they bought the building next door and moved in above the new location. In 1947, the family moved the shop to its current location at 1516 Miner Street. Over the years the trends in footware have impacted on the business throughout the years, but the shop has endured for 88 years in the community. When asked why the family business has stayed in Des Plaines, Capozzoli said, “It’s a great place to do business because of the people.”

Just a bit younger than Square Deal is Schimka Auto Wreckers at 132 E. Thacker Street. This Des Plaines landmark business has been in the Schimka family since the early 1930s. Owner Mike Schimka’s grandfather started the business during the Great Depression as a way to bring in more money for the family. It started out as a parts resale shop for early automobiles. By the 1950s, Schimka’s father had taken over the family trade and expanded it into towing and automotive service. Schimka continues his family’s legacy today, offering towing and automotive services to the people of Des Plaines. While Schimka’s offers old-time quality service, the business has changed over the years as cars have developed and the Auto Wreckers have kept up with this evolution. “We’re an old school business with a modern twist,” said Schimka. “This business requires more and more education and professionals in order to keep up.” “Des Plaines is a great location for this business,” added Schimka. “It’s 18 miles from Downtown Chicago, right by the airport and easily accessible from any point in Northern Illinois.” In 78 years of doing business, the Schimka name has become known and trusted in Des Plaines. This family reputation has only helped today’s business. When asked why he stays in Des Plaines, Schimka responded, “We’ve grown up with this community and we love giving back to it.”

Not all of Des Plaines’ longstanding businesses were born here. The American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) started in 1911 following the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire in which 146 garment workers lost their lives because of improper safety protocols. Over the years the society has grown from 25 employees to more than 32,000. Obviously this means they have expanded across the nation. It wasn’t until 1985 that the ASSE came to Des Plaines. Diane Hurns, public relations manager for the ASSE in Des Plaines, cited the location as being the main reason for coming here: “It’s close to Chicago, it’s a transportation hub and it’s right next to O’Hare and all the hotels there. This makes it an ideal location for us.” Indeed, since 1985 the size of the office in Des Plaines has tripled and it now employs 55 workers. “People from all over the country and world come to our office in Des Plaines,” she said. “Additionally, the business climate is great and the companies here have come to realize the importance of workplace safety.” These businesses that have been in Des Plaines for years, and even generations, show no signs of going anywhere. The friendly climate and great location make it the perfect place to continue providing the goods and services around which they have built their reputations.

previous topic
next topic
Town Square Publications