Though it’s perhaps better known for its beaches, Wauconda is staking a position in its growing industrial corridor, where locally based companies are adding new jobs across many fields.
Around our region, Wauconda is well known for lakeside fun and sun, but this village of 13,000 also is a leader in business and industrial growth. Manufacturing and wholesaling companies make up one of the strongest employment sectors in the community, in terms of both jobs and revenue, according to the U.S. Census.
Here’s a look at four Wauconda companies that are bringing new jobs, charitable work and increased prosperity to the village.
Progressive Components is the only American-owned, independently operated developer and distributor of componentry and software for the injection mold industry. With headquarters in Wauconda, the company maintains locations across the globe.
“Last year, we celebrated our 25th anniversary here in Wauconda,” says Glenn Starkey, co-owner and president. “We love the village, and work to be a good citizen for our town.”
Progressive Components has developed a system that allows engineers, from their computer desktops, to monitor injection molds operating anywhere in the world. On a community level, the company has also formed the nonprofit Star Charities, which raises money for many Wauconda-area causes.
“Events we’ve launched include the Wauconda Turkey Trot, the Wauconda Bunny Hop, Shamrock the Block, the Annual Wauconda Coat Drive, Trivia Night, and an annual golf outing, along with food and clothing drives for our local food pantry,” Starkey says.
Fidelitone was one of the first companies to arrive in Wauconda’s industrial corridor near Rand and Bonner roads. Since 1991, this 87-year-old supply chain management firm has helped leading brands reach new markets with its specialized logistics services.
“We measure ourselves by our clients’ success,” says Joe Giglio, chief marketing officer. “It’s nice that we’re recognized in local markets and we’re also regularly featured as a top private company in our industry.”
In 2012, Fidelitone had 600 employees across the United States. Now, the company has more than 700 employees, more than 250 of whom are in Illinois.
“Wauconda has been a great marketplace for us,” Giglio says. “In today’s world, it’s not enough to get something to the right place at the right time. Now, there’s more to delivering a great customer experience. Supply chain has become more sophisticated – it’s about planning, strategy and data, not just trucks and warehouses. Because technology is playing a larger role, we’re bringing a lot of IT [information technology] jobs and data analyst jobs to the area.”
Synergy Flavors has enhanced foods, beverages and nutritional products for more than 130 years. This company’s flavors, extracts and essences have applications in bakery, confection, dairy and beverage products.
In 2012, Synergy Flavors constructed a new 145,000 square-foot facility in Wauconda, built to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards. The growth followed the acquisition of two companies in late 2011 – Sethness Greenleaf in Chicago and Sensus Flavors in Ohio.
“We’ve purchased and rehabilitated nearly 15 acres of unused land and a building that had been vacant for more than five years,” says Rod Sowders, president and CEO. “We’ve also returned nearly 5 acres to green space.”
The Wauconda community has always been a focus of Synergy’s efforts to stimulate the local economy, create new jobs, and give back. Synergy supports police and fire department fundraisers, donates to the Wauconda Food Bank, hosts an annual blood drive and partners with Jewel in collecting winter jackets for One Warm Coat.
Additionally, more than 100 new employees have joined Synergy Flavors in recent years, including 30 new hires this year.
“The creation of jobs has been positive for the village,” Sowders says.
Menges Roller Company
For the past 50 years, Menges Roller Company has designed and manufactured rubber rollers of all types for industrial application. The Wauconda plant opened in 1993.
“Wauconda has a base of quality people who are good for hiring,” says Matt Menges, owner. “We have only the best people working at Menges – people you would go to bat for, because they go to bat for you.”
This year, the company is undergoing a significant facility expansion that will allow for a more comprehensive range of services, including repairs, groove and serration work and chrome refinishing.
Menges finds that the Village government is easy to work with, which allows his business to operate more efficiently. The village manager and public works director have been reasonable problem solvers, he says.
“Working with the village tax assessor, Pat Oaks, has been an easy-going experience,” Menges says. “The building and zoning department, led by Chris Miller, is especially excellent to deal with. Fire inspections are another trouble area for manufacturers, but long-time inspector Charlie Buschick, led by Chief Mike Wahl, is great at putting safety and regulation on an even playing field with cost. Finally, it’s noticeable that the village trustees and mayor are active in making Wauconda a great place to work.”