ROLLING MEADOWS, IL -- The Chamber of Commerce here took the opportunity of its 50th anniversary celebration to present its Business of the Year Award to A.H. Management Group, which has been operating coin equipment in northern Illinois for more than seven decades. The company today also manages about 40 corporate dining programs in the Chicago area.
"We picked [A.H.] on our 50th anniversary because this company epitomizes what this award is all about," said Linda Liles Ballantine, executive director of the Rolling Meadows Chamber of Commerce.
"Through up-and-down economies, this third-generation, family-owned business continues to grow and change with the times," she said.
Founded in 1939 as a jukebox operation by Anthony and Isabel Hesch, the company relocated from Arlington Heights, IL, to an empty farm field in Rolling Meadows in 1972. That plot, along Rohlwing Road, became a thriving industrial park. Hesch grandchildren Mark, Craig and Chris and their cousin Chris McSwain, currently run the company.
A.H. stocks and services more than 3,000 vending machines. In addition to staffing and managing more than three dozen full-service cafeterias, A.H. also provides coffee and pure water service to business locations. The company remains active in music and games through its A.H. Entertainers division, which operates pool tables, electronic darts and sports simulators, as well as jukeboxes. A.H. Management Group is among the largest employers in Rolling Meadows, with nearly 300 employees.
Last summer, A.H. was the first to introduce barcode-scan technology to lunchrooms in the Chicago area, installing automated self-service convenience stores in offices, plants and factories. The new system, from Avanti Markets, offers employees a wide range of healthy and fresh food selections while on the job, and thus fewer reasons to leave the premises to go shopping for snacks, meals, beverages -- and many other items, including birthday cards, pain-relief medications and lip balm.
"We're an anomaly," said Craig Hesch, chief financial officer of A.H. "We are aware of that. But as big as we get, we try and keep it family. We've kept the communication channels open through each generation and we have remained committed to innovation and investing in new technologies."