The Hruska Group

We believe in entrepreneurship.

Technology & Real Estate
(And a bit more)

Banking

Community Banks are a backbone of this country.

First Community Bank & Trust

Business
First Community Bank & Trust
Location
Beecher, Illinois
Joined Board
2010
Factoids
  • Assets: $150 Million
  • Specializes in Property & Small Business
  • Provides Banking for Suite Properties, LLC



Joining the Board

Okay, I’m no banker. But I have been on the board of directors at 1st Community Bank in Beecher Illinois since 2010. We are a technology savvy medium sized community bank, willing and able to service clients in a wide geographic area. If you are looking for financing, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

I met the President of 1st Community bank, Greg Ohlendorf, at Flossmoor Country Club. He’s a rather type A gentleman, and one of the smartest men I have ever met. This is a guy who, after becoming a golf course rater for Golfweek Magazine, went on a mission to play and rate all 200 of the top golf courses in the country. In a bit over four years he was at 199, with only Augusta National left on the list. Rarely does Greg only play 18 holes, as here’s always room for a bonus nine! And between rounds he’s able to run a healthy 150 million dollar community bank on the very south side of the Chicago suburbs, and be heavily involved in the national trade organizations for community banks as well.

One day on the driving range, after I learned Greg was President of a bank, I first asked him if there was any money in that bank. He laughed, and I then asked if he might be interested in looking at my brother Jeff’s idea for the salon suite business. He was very open to the idea, and from there a relationship was born.

Two years after opening our first InStyle Salon & Spa Suites location, Greg asked me to join the board of directors at 1st Community Bank and Trust. I knew nothing about banking, and even less about being on a board, but I did have a background in both technology and small business. I was actually a bit apprehensive because this was stepping out of my comfort zone, but I accepted the job.

What I’ve Learned

I must say, running a bank is a very complicated business. Through this position I have learned a great deal about corporate governance, detailed budgeting, government regulation, customer relations, and the macro economy in general. This has been very good for my brain, and I imagine I will be doing it for many more years to come.

Projects

Multi-Family

People always need a place to live.

David HruskaI’m very fortunate to have an entrepreneurial family. It has opened many doors for investments. One of the most profitable over the years has been the world of apartment complexes. Frankly, today I wish I had done much less stock market and more multi-family real estate. I would certainly have many more eggs in my basket.

My brother David is a bit of a real estate mogul. Grandpa Glenn always said David had the highest IQ in the family. You would never have known it when he was a small child, walking aimlessly around Flossmoor taking things out of the neighbor’s garages. But the truth is, David has a very analytical finance mind, and I have benefited from that greatly.

After college he went to work for Lloyds Bank in Chicago, and later branched out to start his own investment company called Mid Continental Capital. While helping others find financing for some apartment investments, David was offered a slice of equity in a property in exchange for his investment services. This was the beginning of his career in the Multi-Family real estate world.

David relocated from Chicago to San Antonio in the late 1990’s because you could buy more property for your dollar down there. After Applied Systems I was smart enough to begin investing with him. Over the years we have bought five different properties. Each has been a different kind of battle, but thus far we’ve won most of them.

Current Portfolio

Shark City

A Sports Bar With An Attitude

Billiards Entertainment Corp.

Business
Shark City Billiards & Sports Bar
Partners
Betty Hruska
Jeff & Karen Hruska
Location
Illinois
Founded
1993
Sold
2004
Factoids
  • 17,500 Sq. Feet
  • 30 Pool Tables
  • 45 TVs
  • Outdoor Courtyard
  • Tons of Fun!


Shark City


While at Applied Systems it became increasingly obvious to me that my entrepreneurial itch was not going to be satisfied remaining there forever. At the same time my brother Jeff had been hanging from scaffolding cleaning and restoring buildings in his AmeriClean Power Washing business. After nearly falling off a 15 story building, he was getting quite concerned he couldn’t do that forever as well, so we started to hatch a plan to start a business together.

During this time he and I somehow stumbled into a large billiard hall and sports bar in Naperville, IL called Pockets. This place was HUGE. We loved it. We started counting customers, doing a spreadsheet, and eventually concluded we wanted to open a similar place.

This was really insane. Neither of us had any knowledge of this business, but we plowed ahead anyway. My wife Betty sharpened her design skills and sketched out a fabulous design.  My sister Susan consulted on the food & beverage service, and so between us all we designed from scratch a 17,500 square foot monster on the west side of Chicago called Shark City Billiards & Sports Bar. It had 30 pool tables, 45 televisions, and room for lots of people. Today it might be considered a cross between Dave & Busters and Buffalo Wild Wings.

From the day it opened in 1993 it was a huge success. We were open through the Chicago Bulls repeat-of-the-three-peat. With over 1000 customers in the pace, it was actually better than being at the game! I went up there weekly for our pool league, and often on Sundays for pro football where you could watch all the games at the same time.

Honestly, this place was one of a kind. I got such a buzz (literally) every time I was there. I cried the day I drove home after we had sold it.

Insurance

Hruska InsuranCenter, Inc.

Business
Hruska InsuranCenter
Partners
Chuck & Jodi Hruska
Location
Flossmoor, Illinois
Invested
1986
Sold
2009
Factoids
  • Originally Started by Mom & Dad
  • Property Casualty Insurance



My Parents

My parents were entrepreneurs in the insurance business. While in college at the University of Illinois my father began selling life insurance for Prudential. After graduation, he could find no company willing to pay him as much as he was making selling insurance part time, so that was the direction he set out in.

After working for Prudential for a few years, he broke out and started his own insurance agency in Evergreen Park, IL. This agency was mostly devoted to life insurance in the early years. After my mother Donna finished raising us six children (can you imagine?), she began to work in the agency and started up the Property and Casualty business selling homeowners, auto, and small commercial policies. They managed a nice living running this small insurance agency as I grew up and went to college.

Brother Chuck

After graduation, my brother Chuck began working in the agency in sales. After five years or so my parents decided to sell him the business, and my mother Donna went to work at Applied Systems selling the automation system I had developed. Chuck and his wife Jodi worked in and ran the business, and eventually needed additional capital to survive and grow. I stepped up as an investor, and purchased a portion of the business. I viewed it as a good long term investment, as well as a laboratory for the insurance agency automation product I was building with Applied Systems.

Chuck has taken the business from only a few hundred thousand dollars in premium volume in the 1980s, to many millions today specializing in property insurance. He and his wife Jodi have worked their fingers to the bone, through many lean and now more prosperous years, and today employ dozens of full time people on the south side of Chicago. I sold my interest to them in 2009, and today their entrepreneurial energies run high.

My father would be very proud of the mark they have left in the Chicago area insurance market.

Oh, and if you’re looking for insurance for your commercial property, you would be well advised to contact them. There’s nobody better in the business. As Chuck likes to say, he’s an “insurance god”.

History

SONiVOX

A Digital Audio Company

The Sonic Network, Inc.

Business
SONiVOX – Sound that Rocks
Partners
Jennifer Hruska
Donna Hruska
Location
Somerville, MA
Founded
1999
Sold
  • 2007 – Mobile Technology to Google for Android
  • 2011 – Music Technology to Numark Industries
Product Lines
  • Pro-Audio Digital Music Libraries
  • Downloadable Music Libraries
  • Mobile Ringtone Technology


SONiVOX-Logo-300


Sonic Network was born out of the desire to build an internet business after my time at Applied Systems.  I teamed up with my sister Jennifer Hruska, and my mother Donna Hruska.  Jennifer had cut her teeth in the digital music space, working with Kurzweil Music to create some of the first high-end music synthesizers.  She also had moved out on her own to develop a series of efficient sound libraries for the budding digital music industry.  Donna had previously been national sales manager for Applied Systems during the high growth years in the 1980s.  I had an itch to develop some internet ecommerce technology.  Together we started the adventure in 1999.

Jennifer ran the company as President & CEO. She also led development of all the mobile and sound library products. She is an amazing mixture of left and right brain; having both an astonishing musically creative mind, as well as a keen logical business sense. I built the online ecommerce infrastructure from scratch to suit our unique company’s needs. Donna was Chief Financial Officer as well as a key strategist in all important business decisions.

Mobile Division

Our first great break came with when we convinced Motorola they needed to upgrade their ringtone technology beyond simple “beeps”.  We developed a MIDI synthesizer software engine that Motorola then used in most of its cell phone product line.  This software product went through multiple versions, was sold to dozens of cell phone and chip manufacturers, and was later sold to Google for the open source Android phone platform.  In fact, Sonic Network was a founding member of the Open Handset Alliance started by Google in 2006 to create the Android open source mobile phone platform.

Sound Libraries

Sonic had two different lines of sound libraries; one for professionals and one for hobbyists.  The hobbyist products were sold online as downloads, and also through a vast retail channel; most notably through GuitarCenter retail stores.   Sonic invented the DVI (Downloadable Virtual Instrument), and over the years building a massive library of sound sets that were used in major motion pictures and super bowl commercials alike.  This sound library and technology infrastructure was sold to Numark Industries in 2012.

Web Site

Numark Industries later replaced the web site I developed over the years at Sonic, but I have placed a copy of it on my own server just for posterity purposes.

The ecommerce web site was built from the ground up in the early 2000’s, prior to any off-the-shelf ecommerce solutions being available. Early on in 2008 it utilized the Amazon Web Services S3 storage capability in the cloud to host the very large Downloadable Virtual Instruments. All the shopping cart interface was custom built to allow both downloads and shippable products. I am quite proud of this, as I built it entirely myself.



What I Learned

I must say I learned a great respect for any company that has to sell widgets to meet payroll. We managed to do so, but it was always with great sweat and effort and often without my own paycheck. My entrepreneurial adventure with Sonic Network was a winding road with both ups and downs, but in the end we left a mark on both the music software industry and the world’s largest mobile phone platform; android.  And that’s pretty cool!

I had an exciting time with my mother and sister building, running, and later selling this company. Jennifer joined Numark at the sale of our company, and today runs their entire software division.  My mother Donna finally decided to retire at the age of 76.

Suite Properties

Helping entrepreneurs in the beauty, spa & wellness professions.

Suite Properties, LLC.

Business
InStyle Salon & Spa Suites
Partners
Betty Hruska
Jeff & Karen Hruska
Locations
Algonquin, IL
Bartlett, IL
Elk Grove, IL
Palatine, IL
St. Charles, IL
Founded
2007
Factoids
  • Upscale Salon Suites
  • Five Locations


    
Launch website



Brother Jeff

Suite Properties was my brother Jeff’s idea. He had been looking for a new business after we sold Shark City Billiards & Sports Bar. The sports bar typically had 40 or more employees, so he hoped to simplify his life in a more streamlined business, with less stress and fewer employees. This search lead him to the business of leasing salon suites to professionals in the salon, spa, and wellness space.

The Salon Suite Business Model

The Salon Suite business model is a fascinating one. Essentially it is a real estate play. We typically buy a mid-sized office or retail condo, split it up into a number of individual fully furnished upscale suites, and then lease them to beauty & wellness professionals who want to start their own businesses.

We truly enjoy is the entrepreneurial aspect of this business. First, we feel this is a good business for our own financial wellbeing. Second, each of our tenants has the opportunity to realize their own entrepreneurial dreams by branching out on their own. They have full access to their own suite, set their own schedule, and manage their clients as they see fit. Most importantly, they no longer split their revenue with the salon owner, and this can lead to a doubling of their income!

I was compelled by this business model. It’s an easy sale to make on our end. We even created a Salon Suite Profit Calculator to help them see how leasing a salon suite can increase their income substantially.

Locations

We opened our first location in 2007 in Elk Grove Village, Illinois. Since then we have opened a total of five locations, all branded under the name InStyle Salon & Spa Suites. Our largest location is in Algonquin, IL. We recently opened another location in St. Charles, Illinois.

A Team Effort

Once again Jeff brought a nifty idea to the table, but it took lots of hard work with our wives Betty and Karen to bring it to reality. Betty again pitched in with her keen eye for design, and Karen keeps us all in balance. We have been financed by 1st Community Bank and Trust in Beecher, Illinois. This has truly been a HruskaGroup effort!

Applied Systems

About

About Us

After graduating college in 1981, I distinctly remember asking my grandpa Glenn if I should get a job, or follow my entrepreneurial itch. His response was simple: “You’ve got nothing to lose now son.” From that time forward, my path has been the winding road of the entrepreneur.

My journey has taken me through the land of computer software, insurance, sports bars, and a plate full of real estate deals. The Hruska Group represents represents this menu. At times its been quite spicy, and at others a bit bland. As always, I cannot help but wonder where the next meal and opportunity will come from.

Current Project

I am intensely studying the new crypto-currency market, looking for a business opportunity.  It is my opinion that this represents an unstoppable new concept.

Recent Projects

Betty and I just finished redesigning the Suite Properties web site.

This was a good winter project, and I’m happy report it turned out well.  I’ve also implemented an open source CRM program for Suite Properties.  I choose X2CRM.  We are currently in gorilla marketing mode trying to fill up our suites. 

 

Contact

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bpublic@hruskagroup.com

708 860-0845

9719 Sea Turtle Ter. Unit 102 Bradenton, FL 34212