Glenview chamber celebrates family businesses
Harry Omartian, owner of AAA Lock and Key, cuts a key at the shop on Friday, December 7, 2012. Omartian started the business in 1970. | Michael Jarecki ~ For Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 13, 2012 8:18AM
GLENVIEW — The Glenview Chamber of Commerce veered from the traditional Business of the Year award at its annual Holiday Party.
Instead of featuring one place of business, the chamber promoted “Family Affair,” an effort that honored more than 30 family businesses in the organization and the area.
Some family businesses have been open for more than 70 years.
“Businesses that have been passed down through generations or are run by multiple members of a single-family are an integral part of Glenview,” said Gregg Goslin, Glenview Chamber of Commerce president and Cook County commissioner (R-14th).
“Not only for providing jobs and services but also for being a name people trust and recognize.”
The holiday party was Dec. 6 at Valley Lo Club in Glenview.
In attendance was AAA Lock & Key that started in 1970 when Harry Omartian and his wife, Shirley, opened it from their east Glenview home.
Forty-two years later, AAA Lock & Key is still in business at 1730 Waukegan Road with three service vans and six employees.
Harry’s son, Darren, is vice president and also runs the Budget Truck Rental service.
“It’s gratifying to help people in security situations when they’re locked out of the house or car,” said Darren, a 1981 graduate of former New Trier West High School in Northfield.
After serving in the U.S. Army from 1955 to 1958, Harry used his GI Bill of Rights to take a one-year correspondence course in locksmithing.
“I was fascinated by it and had no idea it would get this big,” Harry said, recalling going out all hours of the night on emergency calls.
Attendees of the chamber’s Holiday Party received a book about the family business histories.
Also, students at Glenbrook South High School in Glenview created a video on the family businesses that was shown at the event.
Other family-owned businesses participating in the program were Bertog Landscape Company, Cenzina’s Bridal and Boutique, Doetsch Real Estate, Hackney’s restaurants, Abt Electronics, Carlson Heating Cooling and Electric and the Jennings family that operates Chevrolet and Volkswagen dealerships.
When Betsy Baer, executive director of the Glenview Chamber of Commerce, was hired in November 2011, she noticed “an extraordinary number of family businesses who had been here for many generations.”
“Families who began their businesses and families right here in Glenview — it gives a wonderful continuity to the community and makes a strong statement about what is important here,” she said.
“These businesses have been serving Glenview’s families as clients, customers and patrons for generations themselves. We wanted to celebrate that and honor the more than 100 multi-generational businesses here.”