We are celebrating our 50th anniversary in business this year! Thanks to all of our great employees, customers, and partners for making it possible.
In 1973, Emil Harley ventured off from a family run business to begin his own company. Originally known as Emil Harley and Associates, the company concentrated on Christmas decorating, grand opening ceremonies for retail stores, and parade floats for holidays like Independence Day and Thanksgiving.
In 1982, Emil was able to purchase a 5000 sq. ft. commercial building in Western Springs and hired his first employee – a seamstress to relieve him of his sewing duties. Emil’s son-in-law, Ken Sitkowski, joined the company in 1983, and took over final banner prep and installation duties. Within a few years, the business had grown so rapidly that 4 more employees were hired. The screen printing of the banners was brought in house.
Ken concentrated on developing new accounts. In 1987, we changed our name to Bannerville USA, which better identified who we were and what we produced. Ken landed our largest out of state job with the City of Nashville. Summer Lights was a street festival in Nashville, centered around food and music. We produced and installed 450 pole banners for this event.
The late 80’s and 90’s were kind to us. We had the opportunity to work with fantastic organizations and historic events both in Chicago and across the country. We helped celebrate the MLB All Star game, Super Bowl victories, Chicago Bulls’ Championships, and the World Cup in 1994.
Nationally, we shipped banners to St. Louis, Detroit, Cleveland, Fresno, Houston, Reno and many other US cities. But of course, Chicago was our home.
In the mid 90’s, designers began submitting 4 color designs for reproduction. Our talented silk screen printing team took on this challenge, and with the help of a new automated press, we produced beautiful four color light pole banners for nearly all of our clients.
This place in time was the start of the digital revolution for the printing industry. Digital printers were beginning to hit the market, making four color reproductions possible for a lower cost than was possible with the silk screen printing method. These printers were not inexpensive, but by 2003 the cost of a printer had come down to the point where Bannerville was able to purchase our first digital printer.
In 2005, Ken purchased the business from his father-in-law. We had 7 employees at this time and we were beginning to outgrow our Western Springs warehouse space. In 2007 Ken relocated the company to its present location in Burr Ridge, Illinois. We now had three digital printers, 3 print department operators, 2 seamstresses, 3 installers, and one graphic designer. Light pole banners were still the majority of our business, but we began to produce other signage as well – we offered posters, yard signs, and window graphics.
The technology behind digital printers continued to evolve. Not only did the machines print faster, but latex inks started to become available to replace the solvent based inks that had been used forever. New forms of printing materials also became available – wall graphics and floor graphics were becoming important media for advertising.
In 2010, Tom Sitkowski joined his father in the family business, which now was entering the most important time in the company’s history. Everything was now being printed digitally, and there seemed to be endless opportunities to print advertising collateral for any use someone could imagine. Tom spearheaded our growth in the digital print world, taking on jobs that were unimaginable back when his grandfather started the business in 1973.
Today, Bannerville’s team consists of 4 graphic designers, 7 installers, 6 production specialists, and 3 seamstresses. Tom handles all of our sales, and Ken handles our accounting duties. We strive to provide all of you with the best of products while treating you with all the respect you all deserve.
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