Anniversary Milestones

This month’s iBi tells the stories behind a number of locally-owned businesses, many of which are celebrating landmark anniversaries this year. We congratulate them for achieving these impressive milestones. In today’s rapidly changing business landscape, it’s more challenging than ever to sustain continuity for any period of time, much less decades. 

Founded in 1988, Cullinan Properties is celebrating 30 years of “turning real estate ideas into reality.” From The Shoppes at Grand Prairie to the Levee District in East Peoria, their team has guided pioneering developments to fruition across our region, while establishing a national presence in projects all over the country. If not for their vision, central Illinois would certainly look much different today.

With a footprint now encompassing 11 states, Vonachen Services, Inc. (VSI) celebrates 50 years of business in 2018. Founder Jay Vonachen started the company while working for his father’s supply company; several years ago, his own son, Matt Vonachen, took the reins of the family business, overseeing its growth into the future.

Shamrock Plastics, Inc. was founded the same year as VSI, five decades ago. Likewise, there was a similar passing of the baton from longtime president Mary Cay Westphal to current president Tom Westphal, who remembers visiting his mother in the factory as a kid. “We’re excited about celebrating 50 years,” Tom declares. “It’s not that common in business as it used to be.” 

Another local mainstay, Don’s Music Land, is also celebrating its golden anniversary. Owner Don Middleton found his opportunity when Beatlemania came to the U.S., inspiring kids all over the country to learn to play guitar. He quickly transitioned from music instructor to business owner, and has persevered through dramatic changes in retail to achieve that coveted 50-year mark.

None of this is easy—no matter what kind of business you’re in. Sometimes day-to-day operations are so consuming that we neglect to stay on top of industry trends, opportunities and threats. In this issue, Dr. Aaron Buchko of Bradley University offers a quick checklist of questions that all businesses should ask as they plan for the future, reminding us that “every business is subject to forces outside its control.”

Next year, Peoria Magazines will celebrate our own landmark anniversary, as the first iBi was published in August of 1989. But really—whether you’ve been in business for one year or 100 years—every anniversary is a landmark anniversary. Local businesses are an essential part of the fabric of our community, and we salute you. iBi

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