Best Chicago Contractors of 2010
Garage Door Innovators Inc. | Northbrook, Ill.
To say that Garage Door Innovators owner Brian Kolarik is busy would be an understatement. When Angie's List Magazine called for an interview, he and one helper were in the middle of installing 190 garage doors in a subdivision.
But the two-time Best Chicago Contractor and three-time Super Service Award winner is not about to lighten his load by hiring employees who don't meet his high standards. He's turned away prospective employees who show up for the interview disheveled and unprofessional.
"You are going to look respectable when you go to my customer's house," he says.
That commitment to high standards is reflected in his 14 Page of Happiness nominations last year that praise his honesty, know-how and even pet-friendliness. His estimates are firm.
"We never ask for more money, no matter how many snags we run across," Kolarik says. "The last thing we want to do is hit people with surprises."
Helene Heman of Skokie [Ill.] hired Kolarik to determine why her garage door would open, then slide down a few feet. He diagnosed improper springs, cables and brackets used by another company. He also installed an external keypad.
"I would, without a single doubt in my mind, recommend Brian," she says in her Page of Happiness nomination. "He is an expert and very easy to communicate with."
William Mangold of Deerfield [Ill.] hired Kolarik to rebalance his door. "He gets his work done quickly, very thoroughly and he even used three different kinds of lubricants on three different places on the door," he says. Kolarik gave him more information about maintaining it than the company that sold it to him.
"You would have thought it was an old friend of mine giving me tips," Mangold says. "It's the way all businesses should be, but not many are nowadays." Kolarik, who isn't required to be licensed, offers a 10 to 15 percent discount to senior citizens.
Although Angie's List members get a discount as well, every customer receives the same quality service, he says. "We do a good job regardless of whether you are an Angie's List member or you found us in the phone book," he says.
Domicile Consulting | Chicago
First-time homebuyers Sarah and James Tipple of Chicago relied on Dan Cullen, co-owner of Domicile Consulting, for their inspections. "He was extremely thorough and was never annoyed when I called with questions," Sarah says.
The Tipples' first bid on a condo fell through, she says, and they were out of town when a second condo in the same building became available. They called Cullen and relied solely on his inspection. "We trusted him enough to buy the property sight unseen and have not regretted our decision at all," Sarah says.
Domicile, named a Best Chicago Contractor two years in a row, received 14 Page of Happiness nominations last year. The company donates money to local charities and will "refuse a fee for work if the financial status of a particular client warrants such," says partner Ross Neag, who works full time.
Cullen will soon join him when he retires as a lieutenant this year after 31 years with the Chicago Fire Department. Members use the word "thorough" repeatedly when discussing Domicile's inspections. Cullen says they simply cover the essentials. "If they asked me to pull something out, I wouldn't know what to pull out," he says.
The company and its crew are properly licensed. Rushing through an inspection is not an option for his crew, Cullen says. "Once we show up on an inspection site, we are going to stay there as long as it takes," he says.
But it doesn't stop there. The inspection results must be described in detail and supported by photos, he says. "We don't use a lot of boilerplate. We make sure our comments are specific to that home."
Member Adam Lyons of Deerfield says in his Page of Happiness nomination: "Perhaps the best endorsement for Domicile's services is this: I watched the seller of the house I was purchasing ask Ross for a business card because she would consider using him later."
Nofsinger's Auto Repair Inc. | Lombard, Ill.
Clairmarie Szopa's first trip to Nofsinger's Auto Repair involved fluid dripping from her Volkswagen Jetta. She feared the worst. But a Nofsinger mechanic tightened her oil drain plug and sent her on her way, no charge. Now the Lombard [Ill.] resident says she won't take her car anywhere else.
Nofsinger's is a two-time Best Chicago Contractor. The company, which doesn't require a license, donates to local nonprofits, and it recycles oil and Freon. Owners Mark and Carol Nofsinger say they only hire mechanics with both car and people skills.
"Your business is only as good as your employees, and certainly we have an outstanding crew," Carol says.
A+ Electrical Services Inc. | Des Plaines, Ill.
In their 10 Page of Happiness nominations last year, members praise the quality and thorough work of A+ Electrical Services.
Robert and Carol Hirschtick of Arlington Heights [Ill.] say A+ Electrical owner George Chetrosanu quickly tracked down their flickering light problem. "He did some wonderful detective work and got to the root of the problem," Robert says.
Lynette Ackman thought her 1890s Chicago home needed to be rewired, but Chetrosanu found otherwise. "It wasn't old, it was just poorly done," Ackman says. Chetrosanu, who's properly licensed, brought the house up to code, and kept her cats out of harm's way, she says.
Chetrosanu, who also does volunteer electrical work at his church, says his chosen trade suits his personality. "I enjoy solving problems and I like things that last a long time," he says.