On Monday, Americans celebrate the last vacation of the summer.
Although it is celebrated as a day of entertainment, basically Labor Day is “an annual celebration of the social and economic achievements of American workers.” according to the US Department of Labor.
Labor Day became a national holiday on the first Monday in September when then-President Grover Cleveland signed it into law on June 28, 1894.
So, in the spirit of honoring local workers, five business owners and leaders briefly discussed entering the workforce and offered their best practical wisdom.
Bill Dimitroulas, president of the Arkas restaurant group in Joliet
Dimitroulas created the Arkas restaurant group in 2019 and currently owns five restaurants in Joliet: Hamburgerseria, CUT 158 Chophouse, Mousa Tapas Bar, Juliet’s Tavern and Rosemary’s Cafe.
DMT Foods, the catering company of the Arkas Restaurant group, is also the event manager at the Renaissance Center in Joliet.
But Dimitroulas first worked as a “sound recorder” in a radio station in Greece between the ages of 17 and 20. He loved sound since the age of 14 and took sound lessons at a private school.
“I got a part-time job that turned into a full-time job because I was so good and I loved what I was doing,” Dimitroulas said.
At 20, Dimitroulas enlisted in the army, since Greece has compulsory military service, he explained. After that, he returned to the station, which was now owned by a company that expanded into television, he said. Thus, Dimitroulas took additional courses in video production.
He came to the United States in 1996, hoping to find a good job as an engineer. Instead, Dimitroulas founded DMT Insurance Service Inc, which he still owns, and began his restaurant career managing the former Georgio’s restaurant inside Town and Country Bowling Alley in Joliet.
Dimitroulas still plays with sound as a hobby. And his tips for success are simple.
“Work is about dedication and loyalty,” Dimitroulas said. “Be the best you can be at what you do. That’s it.”
Christine Nordstrom, co-owner of the Strange and Unusual Gallery in Joliet
Nordstrom, who handles accounting for four construction companies, opened the Strange and Unusual gallery with her husband, Terry Eastham, on February 9, 2020, shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down many businesses.
Nordstrom’s first job, at age 15, with a work permit at Record Swap in Homewood, prepared her to become a gallery owner. By the time she left at the age of 22, she had worked her way up to assistant manager and had designed numerous window displays across the company’s three locations.
“I loved it,” Nordstrom said. “I had the opportunity to view all new posters and album covers and highlight the latest album of the week or month. It was a lot of fun and it definitely brought out my creativity.
Nordstrom said she’s grown from all the jobs she’s had. She finds that working for good people is more satisfying than doing passionate work in an undesirable atmosphere.
“Even if you don’t love what you do, working for good people will be worth it,” Nordstrom said.
Ron Romero, founder and executive director of the Illinois Rock & Roll Museum on Route 66 in Joliet
Summers during his high school years. Ron Romero helped his father, Robert Romero, who worked for an immigration lawyer. Robert Romero, who was bilingual, helped people pay their taxes and acquire citizenship, Romero said.
“I helped pay taxes and take photos for passports, things like that,” Romero said. “I met all kinds of people who had great stories from all over the world. Even though (Robert Romero) catered to the Hispanic community, people came from all over the world for his services.
This experience has helped Romero through his years working in event technology and as owner of Stage Right Events. Now that Romero’s sole focus is the Rock & Roll Museum of Illinois on Route 66, he’s grateful for the varied skills he’s learned over the years, from accounting to managing people, a- he declared.
“I think I’ve taken a bit from every job I’ve had and it culminated in the job I’m currently doing at the museum,” Romero said.
Jim Roolf, senior vice president and head of corporate relations at Old National Bank in Joliet
Roolf’s employment with Old National Bank dates back to 1974when the first Midwest Bank was still the Union National Bank and Trust Co. of Joliet.
But in high school, Roolf did hands-on work for a swimming pool company. And then, in college, Roolf worked for the Allegheny County Highway Crew in Pennsylvania.
Yet it was Roolf’s first job after college as a juvenile social worker with the Division of Youth Services in South Bend, Indiana, that led to his career. banking for decades.
“It was all about working with people and just having a different opportunity to take what I learned in school and apply it to what I do in banking,” said Roolf said. “I see banking as a relational activity and I think my upbringing lends itself to it. »
Roolf believes that employees need to nurture relationships inside and outside the company.
“When you work for someone, you try to do your best every day,” Roolf said. “And if you think you have ideas on how to improve what is entrusted to you, be sure to connect with your manager or your boss and try to see if they have the same point of view. Maybe you can implement something to make the job easier and more efficient.
Ashley York, owner of Realtopia Real Estate Inc., Lockport
York said she received a work permit when she was 15 and got a job in the Tinley Park district through a family friend who worked there. She worked in the concession stand near the miniature golf course for three years, working her way up to manager.
His starting salary was $6 an hour, York said. And she loved this job.
“It was fun. Obviously people are happy when they go and play miniature golf. And it was nice and close, so I could walk to it from my house.
Because York strongly believes in entrepreneurship and engages children in creating and selling their products, York organizes a business fair for children from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on September 17 on the grounds of Lock port City Hall, 222 E 9th St. Lockport.
York said she learned that it’s more important for business owners to stay true to their core values than “trying to please everyone.” She also said people should “find their passion.”
“I know that’s easier said than done,” York said. “But I think that’s the key to making it all worthwhile.”