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Elgin Family Businesses

Families are the life blood of the Elgin area. So, family businesses hold a very special place in the fabric of the community. Some are generations old, while others are new ventures. But no matter the age of the business, several family businesses in the area prove that the family that works together, stays together; and that a commitment to providing service to a community can transcend generations.

Herb’s Bakery
(847) 741-0249
www.herbsbakery.com

Elgin residents have been enjoying delicious treats from Herb’s Bakery since Herb Schwartz returned from the Korean War, took a job in a small bakery on the east side of Elgin and, in 1954, purchased it with his mother, Elsie.

Some years later they moved the bakery to its current location at 1020 Larkin Ave. Herb’s stepdaughter, Wendy Wessel, estimates it is four times larger than the original site with a huge production area, separate cake decorating room and office, in addition to the shop itself.

“Before Herb bought it, Ralph Hopp owned it and had his Hopp’s Bakery here,” she recalled.

Herb’s is best-known for their famous thumbprint butter cookies that Herb adapted from an old family recipe. The cookies sell out on a regular basis and have been shipped all over the world, including Iraq, Afghanistan and Japan, according to Wessel. Another favorite are the Bavarian soft pretzels which, like everything else Herb’s sells, are totally made from scratch on-site.

Herb has been gone for 20 years, but the business carries on under the watchful eyes of his wife, Lynn, now 80; their son, Erich; and Wessel. Wessel and her mother have worked in the business for over 40 years while Erich, the baker, has been at Herb’s for more than 20 years. Wendy runs the store and is the cake decorator while Lynn continues to work three hours a day in the office.

“This is a unique business because we don’t specialize in any one thing and if we tried to specialize, there would be a lot of disappointed people who wouldn’t get their particular favorite. The next generation in our family thinks that we are nuts to continue doing this, but we all really enjoy it,” Wessel explained.

Hopp Accounting and Tax Service
(847) 697-1410
www.hoppcpa.com

Hopp Accounting and Tax Service (HATS) has been a fixture in Elgin since 1968 when Vern and Donna Hopp bought the existing Reimer and Whitcomb Accounting and Tax Service and renamed it.

Their son, Don, joined them in 1998 after serving as director of finance for Stewart Associates insurance and today he runs the service.

Under Don’s direction, Hopp Accounting and Tax Service, located at 804 Walnut Ave., has continued to impact lives by helping individuals and small businesses with their tax and financial work, including quarterly payroll taxes.

“Our business is pretty evenly split between businesses and individuals. I would estimate that 40 to 45 percent of our clients are businesses while 55 to 60 percent are individuals and while most of our clients are from the Elgin area, we are also picking up more clients from elsewhere in the Chicago area,” Don explained.

“From the time when my parents were running this business, what has set us apart from other accounting and tax providers has been the trust we have been able to build with our clients. They know that we won’t leave them high and dry. We will see everything through to completion and if they are audited, we will be right there to review the complaint and get it resolved. Integrity is very important to us,” he continued.

“We are very focused on small businesses, so we like to say that we bring big firm benefits to entrepreneurs with their small businesses. For instance, we look at their work flow and make suggestions about how they can improve their techniques to make their firms even more profitable because they need to concentrate on their specialties, not on doing all the necessary accounting that goes along with having a business,” Don stated.

Hopp Accounting and Tax Service is also in the process of carving out a niche in the tax resolution area, helping those who have gotten behind on their tax filings or who have other tax-related problems.

The company recently added an attorney to its staff, whose skills complement Hopp Accounting’s CPAs and enrolled agents.

“We use the acronym of our firm, “HATS,” to tell our clients that they wear many hats as small business owners. Let us help them remove a few and become more profitable by trusting us to handle the accounting and tax issues,” he said.

Klein Farm and Garden Market
(847) 888-4610 or 847-697-4910
www.kleinsqualityproduce.com

The Klein family has been providing fresh-from-the-farm produce since 1966, Christmas trees and seasonal décor since the mid-1980s and garden annuals and perennials, hanging baskets and herbs since 1990. Randy and Judy Klein, who are now retired, started the markets soon after Randy’s father relocated his farm from Hanover Park to Burlington. They needed a nearby outlet for everything they were producing.

Today the farm and greenhouses are still in Burlington where they are run by Randy’s sons, Matt and Dan Klein, and the two markets, located at 1175 Lillian St. and 38W718 U.S. Highway 20, are run by Matt’s wife, Christine. The next generation is also involved. Matt and Christine’s oldest son, Alex, works with them full-time while his two brothers, Sam and Jonathan, work part-time.

“Think of Klein’s as your local farmer’s market that is open seven days a week. We pick our sweet corn, tomatoes, peppers, and all our produce every day so you won’t find it any fresher,” said Matt.

That produce ranges from squash to sweet corn, seedless watermelons to peppers, kale, cauliflower and potatoes. They also sell seed potatoes and onion sets for those who want to grow their own, garden and potted flowers and related items like local honey, fruit baskets, Wisconsin cheese, Sechler’s pickles, Busch Gottenberg sausage and assorted jellies.

In late November and December they are the place to shop for Wisconsin-grown Christmas trees, wreaths, roping and the like. Then they close down until April so they can tend to their greenhouses and get everything started for the next year.

“People have always enjoyed buying and consuming fresh produce, but with today’s sustainable movement, we have even more people interested in buying food from the people who grew it and asking lots of questions,” Matt said.

In addition to selling through their two markets, the Kleins sell their vegetables and other produce to restaurant distributors in Chicago. They also do some grain farming on their 600-acre farm. They grow grain in order to help with crop rotation, according to Matt, and then market it through grain co-operatives.

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