Family VideoThough Blockbuster has but a few dozen stores left, Glenview-based company Family Video has expanded to 759 locations in 19 states and Canada. Last year the DVD rental company made an estimated $400 million in revenue and has seen significant growth under President Keith Hoogland.

In its heyday, Blockbuster operated over 9,000 stores and made $6 billion in revenue annually. While many have thought that the large movie rental companies faded due to the development of digital technology, Keith Hoogland cites poor business practices and contracts as the reason for the large movie rental companies’ demise.

BlockbusterFamily Video has taken a much different approach than big video chains like Movie Gallery and Blockbuster. The company has chosen to buy movies outright and keep all of the profits rather than accepting deals for discounted movies in exchange for shared revenue. Family Video stores are entirely company-owned and use many items that are made in-house, ranging from software to shelving.

Keith Hoogland has continued to adapt his ventures as the marketplace changes. As the market has changed, he’s reduced the square footage of hisMarcos Pizza stores and leased the space to businesses like Subway, H&R Block and Marco’s Pizza. In fact, Hoogland is the largest Marco’s Pizza franchiser, operating 149 stores. Additionally, Hoogland has opened 11 fitness centers and a chain of electronics-repair stores. The businesses are managed by the parent company Highland Ventures (Hoogland means Highland in Dutch) and video continues to account for about 90 percent of Highland Ventures annual revenue.

The history of Family Video can be traced to 1946, when Keith Hoogland’s grandfather Clarence opened an appliance distribution business. Keith’s father Charlie took over in 1953. In the 1970s, the distribution business started to wane as mom-and-pop shops closed and suppliers choose direct sales over distributors. In 1978, with an overstock of videocassette tapes and a few real estate properties, Charlie Hoogland launched the Video Movie Club of Springfield, one of the very first movie-rental stores in the U.S.

Charlie Hoogland worried that technological advancements would soon render his cassette tapes irrelevant, but he figured that the real estate beneath the stores would remain valuable. He began a policy of paying off mortgages on his locations within five years, a practice that Family Video continues today. Forbes estimates the chain's real estate is worth as much as $750 million today.

In the 1980s, Charlie forged into rural markets, hypothesizing that larger competitors would maintain an advantage in big cities. Now 90 percent of Family Video’s stores are in rural America where customers may have limited access to high-speed internet or be reluctant to use services such as Hulu and Netflix.

Over the years, Family Video has embedded itself within the community. When a new store opens, it’s a community affair with snow cone machines, face painting and giveaways. Hoogland told Forbes that his stores have become gathering places like local coffee shops.

Family Video has in part remained competitive by offering new releases well before streaming sites. The copyright laws on physical discs are much less stringent than for streamed content, allowing Family Video to offer the latest films weeks or months before streaming outlets. This fact has also helped Family Video gain business with a younger crowd.

Though Hoogland realizes that his movie rental enterprise won’t last forever, he will continue to use Family Video to increase his real estate portfolio.

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In celebration of Valentine's Day we caught up with Pease's and toured Peases at Bunn Gourmet to see how they prepare for one of the sweetest days of the year.

 

Shark TankA group of three budding entrepreneurs from Springfield High School won Sangamon County’s version of the hit ABC reality show “Shark Tank” with a business to connect nonprofits with potential donors. Abby Tellez, Joseph Abe-Bell and Julia Gorden created Tomatoes and Blankets, what they described in The State Journal-Register as a cross between Kickstarter and Match.com for local nonprofits.

The idea for Tomatoes and Blankets came from concerns about food waste. The teens initially wanted to connect restaurants with local nonprofits in need of food donations. From there, the idea grew to creating a way for nonprofits and charities to communicate what donations they needed.

The creators of Tomatoes and Blankets participate in Sangamon CEO, a program that teaches high school seniors about business and entrepreneurship. Students learn about the challenges of creating a business, meet with local business owners and are paired with a mentor from the business community.

LighbulbAs part of Sangamon CEO, the program participants proposed different ideas for businesses. The top six proposals were selected to compete in an event like “Shark Tank,” where they pitched their business ideas to five business owners and answered questions about their proposal. Although no cash prizes were awarded, Tomatoes and Blankets was deemed “worth funding” following their presentation.

Sangamon CEO is facilitated by Nabih Elhajj and Richard Johnson. Elhajj is a local entrepreneur who operated The Market on Koke Mill and cofounded Shoutbuddy, a podcast that highlights entrepreneurs, while Johnson was a dean at several universities and previously worked for the U.S. Department of Justice.

Knapheide Manufacturing Co., a western Illinois-based truck bed and body company, announced recently that it will begin constructing an additional facility in Quincy.

Knapheide already has a 480,000-square-foot facility in Quincy with about 1,200 workers, making the company one of the city’s largest employers. The new facility will occupy 188,000 square feet just south of Quincy and create 250 new jobs in manufacturing, installation and support roles.

Knapheide has been manufacturing transportation technologies since 1848, when Herman Heinrich Knapheide arrived in Quincy from Germany and founded the Knapheide Wagon Company. This company primarily sold wagons to farmers, miners and pioneers traveling west.

As the automobile industry came of age in the United States, Knapheide began to build wagon bodies for trucks, specifically those used on farms. The company has since diversified its production,manufacturing truck beds and bodies used by mechanics, miners, ranchers, tradespeople, construction workers and more.

The company has been based out of western Illinois since its founding. Knapheide Manufacturing Company is currently under its sixth generation of family ownership. The company’s continued and consistent investment in Illinois speaks volumes about the state’s industrious workforce and manufacturing potential.

Located in Carroll County alongside the Mississippi River, Mississippi Palisades State Park is an excellent location for outdoor activities during any month of the year, even the winter months.

It is a little known fact that February is an especially good time of year for bird watching in Illinois. Mississippi Palisades State Park is home to about 200 different species of birds. Species include golden eagles, red-tailed hawks and purple finches. In recent years, the Bald Eagle population of Carroll County has climbed, making Mississippi Palisades State Park an ideal place to spot the majestic birds during January and February. The park is also a destination for other popular winter activities such as cross country skiing, sledding and ice fishing.

During the warmer months, Mississippi Palisades State Park attracts visitors with fifteen miles of hiking trails that follow the same paths that have been used for centuries to traverse the steep cliffs that line the river. The park is also known for its first-rate picnic and camping facilities, open May through October, which were constructed with great care by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the 1930s.

Due to natural erosion along the Mississippi River, there are many interesting geological features to explore along the palisades. These formations are visible from the river, where boating and canoeing are popular. Some rock formations along the palisades have been designated as national landmarks by the U.S. Interior Department.

During the fall and spring, Mississippi Palisades State Park is a destination for hunters. The wild turkey archery season in spring and the three-day firearm deer season in November attract hunters to this striking plot of land along the river.

For birding, hunting, fishing, hiking, boating and much more, the natural beauty and diverse, local wildlife of Mississippi Palisades State Park never disappoint.

 

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