Made in the Suburbs

Enclosed in the September 24, 2017 issue of the Aurora Beacon-News was a sixty-page, glossy magazine called “Made in the Suburbs.” Published by the Chicago Tribune, this magazine contains fascinating articles about products made in suburbs of Chicago. Twenty-seven companies are featured.

You may have seen one of these products being carried in a parade or flying over a school or courthouse or even stretched across a football field. That flag was made by FlagSource, 951 Swanson Drive in Batavia. The company has seventy employees and runs two shifts, 24 hours a day, six days a week. According to the website, the company makes U.S. flags, state flags, international flags, historical flags, military flags, boutique flags, boutique garden flags, attraction flags, and ISO flags.

You may have driven past another product made in the suburbs, the walls that line Midway Airport runways along Cicero Avenue. The company, Noise Barriers, was also responsible for the doors and soundproof spaces at broadcasting stations like WGN and CBS television studios in Chicago. Noise Barriers also creates noise barrier designs used to insulate around heating and cooling systems in large buildings such as schools.

If you own a Ford Taurus sedan or a Ford Explorer sport utility vehicle, your vehicle was probably made at the Chicago Assembly Plant, 12600 S. Torrence Avenue. Nearly 5,300 employees work there. Body panels for these vehicles are made at the company’s stamping plant at 1000 E. Lincoln Highway, Chicago Heights. The stamping plant employs about 1,300 people, according to the automaker.

If you are a gardener, you are probably familiar with Ball Horticultural Company. The company was founded in 1905 as a cut-flower field in Chicago. In 1925, the company moved its operation to West Chicago, and the first greenhouses were put in there. The company moved its business offices to the same location. In the 1930s, Ball sent train cars full of flowers to Chicago on lines that ran next to the company’s property. The company now focuses on developing new flowers such as a solid black petunia. Ball Seed Company sells seeds directly to consumers.

If you like Italian Ice, Zarlengo’s Italian Ice in Chicago Heights is the place for you. This family owned business has been making and selling this fruit-flavored ice in Chicago Heights since 1983. The product is now available throughout the Chicago area, including during Chicago White Sox games at Guaranteed Rate Field. Even upscale restaurants such as Au Cheval in Chicago have added Zarlengo’s products to their menus.

Get a copy of this publication and read about these and other interesting products made in the Chicago suburbs.

—By Karen Centowski