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In Down Economy, Man Expands Business With Help of Out-of-Work Tradesmen - New Lenox, IL Patch12/23/12 1:11 AMLikeEditor Ann C. Piasecki [email protected] NewsletterNearbyJoinSign In21 HomeNewsEventsDirectoryPics & ClipsCommuteReal EstateMore StuffBusiness, Patch's House & HomeIn Down Economy, Man Expands Business WithHelp of Out-of-Work TradesmenMark Ritter, who owns Ritter Services in New Lenox, is looking to grow his business and offermore services by taking on people facing hard times.By Michael Sewall Email the author May 12, 2012RecommendEmailSponsored By23TweetPrint28 CommentsRelated Topics: Ritter Services, Unemployment, dispatches, and house & homeWhen Manhattan businessman Mark Ritter was 7, he skipped past a kids' typical lemonade stand and instead carted soda around a construction site,selling it to the workers there.Now, Ritter is making lemonade out of the sour economy by hiring out-of-work tradesmen while expanding the services his own business offers.The business, Ritter Services, provides property maintenance and construction services for homeowners and businesses, including site selection anddevelopment, new construction, remodeling and additions.We have a huge resource of talented people sitting at home here.Growing a business is something Ritter is accustomed to. When he was 9, he started mowing neighbors' lawns, building 15 clients. That continuedthroughout high school."It just kept growing and growing," Ritter said. "That kept me busy."He went on to study horticulture at Joliet Junior College, and at 19 he got a loan from First Bank of Manhattan to start his business. Throughout tradesmenPage 1 of 5

In Down Economy, Man Expands Business With Help of Out-of-Work Tradesmen - New Lenox, IL Patch12/23/12 1:11 AMyears, the business has grown in the number of services it offered. But facing new challenges, Ritter hopes to offer even more."When the economy fell on its face, we had to reinvent ourselves," he said. "It got to the point where we didn’t get a lot of customers to survive. Irealized we have a huge resource of talented people sitting at home here."Since August 2011, Ritter has taken on painting and carpentry specialists to help manage the jobs Ritter Services handles. Most notably is the additionof Matt Kojs, who founded Quality Painting & Remodeling here in 1989 but was forced to close shop in December."Business dropped off completely," Kojs said. "I went almost a year and a half without paying myself.""There isn’t enough painting work for a company to survive," Ritter added. "But if we can cross-market, we can all benefit. Now he feeds us a prettysteady amount of work."Not only does it bring more painting work, but it also allows Ritter to market his business as a one-stop shop to clients who need multiple taskscompleted.Grace Episcopal Church, established in 1868, is a historical landmark and needed a number of remodeling gigs—fresh paint, waterproofing, carpentrywork, new garage doors and more. And the church hired Ritter for the job."That was one of the reasons I used him, because he offers so many different services and reasonable prices," said Joel Powless, who is on thechurch's grounds committee. "I’d have to hire five or six people otherwise."Ritter is a busy guy. He pulled up to Grace Episcopal in his truck, drinking a Red Bull, and said he's constantly on his phone coordinating jobs, checkingin on projects and networking to see if he can keep growing the business. So he appreciates the additional workers he's gotten, and he said theyreciprocate that feeling.For the longest time, he said, many laborers were "just extra hands." But being out of a job has made them learn new trades."People really care about how they do things more than ever now," Ritter said. "The attitude has completely changed. The slowdown in the economy isforcing people to work on their skills."This expansion is just the beginning for Ritter. He's recently added Salt Services and Survival Shelters of Illinois and Wisconsin to his arsenal, and he'salways looking for more out-of-work tradesmen to come aboard. He's posted ads on Craigslist and is communicating by word-of-mouth to find what hecan add.Ritter said he's interested now in adding janitorial/cleaning and street sweeping to the list of services he can provide. He would love to bring on morecarpenters, but said a lot of the guys he knew are now home watching the kids."Unless I can start a babysitting service, I don’t know if I can get more carpenters," he said, half-jokingly. "But the New Lenox area in general isoccupied primarily by different tradesmen," he said. "We’re trying to branch out. We want to do everything you need."Enter your email addressEmail me updates about this story.Recommend23Follow commentsTweet2EmailSubmit tipKeep me postedPrint8 CommentsAVFlag as inappropriate8:30 am on Wednesday, May 9, 2012Nice job Ritter!ReplyBILL WOLFFlag as inappropriate11:57 am on Tuesday, November 13, 2012Mark hired people to do work, and then stiffed k-tradesmenPage 2 of 5

In Down Economy, Man Expands Business With Help of Out-of-Work Tradesmen - New Lenox, IL PatchFrank12/23/12 1:11 AMFlag as inappropriate12:08 pm on Wednesday, May 9, 2012I had work done by Ritter Services in the past and was very pleased with the job, Mark is a very intelligent individual ! Glad to see he is doing well.ReplyBILL WOLFFlag as inappropriate11:56 am on Tuesday, November 13, 2012Did he have gutters on your building, because if he did, he didn't pay us for work we did for him.James MadisonFlag as inappropriate8:08 pm on Wednesday, May 9, 2012And yet Labor still votes for Obama. Guys, vote for your family, not your hall.ReplyMr. TurkFlag as inappropriate11:16 pm on Wednesday, May 9, 2012Give Ritter and his men your business they did a great job for me. He has been doing excellent work in the area for the past 30 years or so.ReplyBILL WOLFFlag as inappropriate11:58 am on Tuesday, November 13, 2012He has not paid his subcontractors, for work he has gotten paid for, we are waiting over 6 months, for even a phone call from Mark Ritter!hazelgreenFlag as inappropriate1:37 pm on Thursday, May 10, 2012Will only get worse if you vote for Romney.ReplyLeave a commentSubmit tradesmenPage 3 of 5

In Down Economy, Man Expands Business With Help of Out-of-Work Tradesmen - New Lenox, IL PatchAdvertiseVolunteerAdvertise on Patch and reach potentialcustomers in your backyard and beyond. ClickIf you want to help local causes, or your causeneeds local help, your next click should be right12/23/12 1:11 AMContributeSend us news tipsPut an event on the work-tradesmenPage 4 of 5

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