PIRTEK O’Hare celebrates 20 years of thriving in Chicago
One chance meeting leads to a franchising opportunity and business success
Sometimes little encounters add up to huge life changes.
Ken Adair’s brother, Chuck, ran into a former president of PIRTEK USA in an airport back in the late 1990s and they started talking. Chuck Adair was immediately impressed with the PIRTEK business model and talked to his brother about the possibility of opening a franchise in Chicago.
At the time, Ken Adair was a commodities broker at the Chicago Board of Trade, but he was intrigued by PIRTEK. “At the time, technology was disrupting the industry I was in,” Adair said. “I decided I’d better do something different.”
Celebrating year 20
So, Adair did do something different. Fast forward two decades and four of his PIRTEK locations are fanned out across the Windy City, operating as highly successful franchises. PIRTEK O’Hare, his first location, is marking its 20th anniversary in the summer of 2018.
After looking into PIRTEK in the 1990s, Adair was impressed by its global presence and saw an untapped opportunity in the sprawling metroplex. “They had a good track record overseas, and nobody was doing this around here,” he said. “Elk Grove, where we set up PIRTEK O’Hare, has the biggest industrial center in the country. We thought we had a pretty good location by planting ourselves here.”
Chicago locations multiply
After hiring a solid team and pounding the pavement for a while in search of a customer base, things really took off for PIRTEK O’Hare. In six years, Adair was ready to open another location: PIRTEK South Holland.
“People started to become more familiar with what our services are,” Adair said. “We also found out about what industries to go after.”
The economic downturn of 2008 hit PIRTEK O’Hare as it did so many other businesses. But Adair adapted and changed strategies to keep things moving in the right direction. “We had to think of new industries, because construction was way down,” he said. “So, we shifted from the construction to the manufacturing sector.”
Big jobs, major success
During the years, Adair’s Mobile Service Vehicles have been to a wide array of jobsites. His technicians re-hosed equipment at the Peoria Lock and Dam, a historic complex on the Illinois River. They serviced the hydraulics that raise and lower the stage at the famed Lollapalooza concert and did some work at the base of Trump Tower when the pilings were being drilled. His people have been all over Chicagoland – to Wrigley Field, Soldier Field, on a Lake Michigan barge.
“We’ve done a lot, and there’s potential for plenty more growth,” Adair said.
The keys to success for Adair are simple: hiring quality people and establishing a good work culture. “You also have to be looking for new customers, constantly,” he said. “But the main thing is, do what you say you’re going to do.”
That strategy appears to be working: In 2017, PIRTEK O’Hare had the top sales of all PIRTEK’s U.S. franchises. His locations routinely win high honors at the company’s annual awards ceremony for excellent performance.