Mike Justice, President and Founder of Grid Connect, was recently honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Daily Herald Business Ledger.
Mike Justice is a serial entrepreneur, industrial networking expert, and has successfully built and sold several technology ventures.
In 2003, Justice started Grid Connect inviting many employees from a previous company in which he was involved to join his new venture.
Grid Connect is a rapidly growing manufacturer and distributor of networking products and wireless sensors with more than $13 million in sales worldwide.
Culture and professional growth are two of Justice’s key elements at Grid Connect. Every Wednesday employees are treated to free lunches, complimentary massages on Thursdays and frequent table tennis matches at lunchtime.
Grid Connect has been named as a “Best Place to Work in Illinois” for the last two years and named a “Top 10 Small Business to Work for in Illinois.”
Justice is also locally involved with Naperville North High School’s Robotics Team, where he helps develop and sponsor young engineers.
Last night was dedicated to risk taking and overcoming failure as 19 local entrepreneurs were honored during the 17th Annual Entrepreneurial Excellence Awards, hosted by the Business Ledger and its sponsoring partners. Mike Justice, founder, president, and CEO of Grid Connect was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award.
Lifetime Achievement: Mike Justice, Grid Connect, Naperville.
Outstanding Service to Entrepreneurs:Kathleen Caldwell, Caldwell Consulting Group, Woodstock; Mike Cavanaugh, Small Business Advocacy Council, Chicago; Leslee Cohen, Hershman-Cohen, Chicago / Deerfield; Joe Micaleff, Grow Up Sales, Libertyville.
Regional Spirit: Sue Cain, Corporate Learning Institute, Wheaton; Claude Gendreau, La Banque Hotel, Homewood;
Young Entrepreneur; Gina Hines, Alder Grove Counseling, Downers Grove; Andre Janus, Cristaux International, Elk Grove Village; Chris Lesner, Project World Impact, LLC, Wheaton.
Cost to attend the reception is $55 per person. You must register online at http://www.dhbusinessledger.com no later than September 9. For additional information call Jim Elsener (firstname.lastname@example.org), at 630-955-3593.
The Business Ledger is the leading provider of business news and information about businesses and the economy in suburban Chicago. The Business Ledger is a sister publication to the Daily Herald and part of the Paddock Publications family.
Successful startups are driven by experience, knowledge, and an overall understanding of respective industries. This type of wisdom enables older founders to be well-equipped to envision the ideal workplace, with its unique office perks that are often associated with startup cultures. While most people picture a youthful individual as the stereotypical startup found, this does not pertain to a lot of startup companies. The average age of founders for successful startup companies is around 40 years old. The Chicagoland area is riddled with successful founders over the age of 40, showing that startup success is not tied to youth.
Grid Connect, a manufacturer and distributer of networking products, has been recognized due to the fact that President Mike Justice is one of the seasoned founders mentioned above. He started his successful company in 2003 as purely a networking company, but as it continued to expand, Grid Connect started to manufacture their own wireless sensors and IoT products. The sensors give users complete control over their home as they are designed to notify the homeowner of any environmental changes in their home. They also manufacture the powerful HomeKit-enabled ConnectSense Smart Outlet, which allows users to control any product with Siri voice controls. The company has been able to create quality products like these and thrive under the control and vision of this successful founder!
Brittney Borowicz has been promoted to vice president of marketing at Grid Connect, a leading manufacturer and distributor of high-quality networking products.
An integrated marketing professional with a strong communications background specializing in journalism, public relations and social media, Borowicz joined Naperville-based Grid Connect two years ago and has helped with the marketing launch of the ConnectSense line of home automation products.
She is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and resides in Naperville.
About 12 years ago, Glenn Rodgers and Mike Justice sat in an empty building and Glenn made a little, paper sign that said “Grid Connect” and hung it on the door. Glenn and several other employees worked for the next four months without a salary until the Grid Connect business got going. It’s clear that Glenn has been extremely dedicated to working for Grid Connect from day one.
Prior to joining the Grid Connect team, Glenn was the product manager for the Quick Panel HMI product line at Total Control. He started with them as the technical writer, then developed the technical support group and training department, and attended trade shows in support of the sales team. Glenn worked there for 14 years until GE bought the company. At Grid Connect, Glenn now concentrates his efforts in support of the production department and some support for engineering. When it comes to working at Grid Connect, Glenn likes the constant stream of new challenges and products… and of course the table tennis. “Grid Connect has grown to become a leader in new technologies. I see a new generation of smart devices and applications that will propel us to become a major player in the Internet of Things (IoT) arena.”
Glenn spends a lot of his spare time fishing and exploring local forest preserves. He likes creating things from wood and metal and designing things on a smaller scale, like fishing lures. Glenn still works with his Arduino microprocessor and sets up different maker projects, like LED strings, GPS readers, and graphic panels. Glenn looks forward to retirement in the next few years and continuing to be part of Grid Connect’s new growth the IoT space.
Jon Allured has been with Grid Connect for a little over a year now as the lead developer. Jon spends most of his day pair programming with Erik as they work on the new ConnectSense app and other client projects. Jon says there are a lot of interesting problems to solve in their various projects.
Prior to working for Grid Connect, Jon worked at a company called Hashrocket where he helped build the ConnectSense Ruby on Rails app. Jon is also one of the organizers of a local OpenHack group which is where he met both Erik and Adam Justice.
Instead of hobbies, Jon is now the proud father of a four month-old son.
Mike Justice is the Founder and President of Grid Connect. Before the Grid Connect, Mike founded Synergetic Micro Systems, which was later acquired by Lantronix in 2001. After working on the Lantronix team for a couple of years, Mike decided it was time to form another company. Grid Connect was founded in 2003 and has been selling and creating great networking products and technologies since.
Other than Mike’s everyday duties to keep Grid Connect running smoothly, he spends a lot of time in different parts of the company helping to create a better and more efficient place to work. If Mike is not in his office, you can find him in an engineering meeting, helping make marketing decisions, or even vacuuming up the warehouse! Mike’s favorite part of Grid Connect is being able to watch his employees grow and have fun. “As a family business, it is important to have great people that treat Grid Connect like part of their family.”
Although you can find Mike dominating the ping-pong table almost daily at Grid Connect, one of his favorite hobbies outside of work is playing ping-pong too.
Jonathan Witthoeft has been working with the Grid Connect team for the past five years. After hearing about Grid Connect from a friend, he applied for a technical support position while finishing up his degree in electrical engineering. After spending three years leading tech support at Grid Connect, Jon has fully transitioned to a software engineering position where he spends much of his time working on various ZigBee and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) projects.
Beyond spending his time working with ZigBee and BLE and taking the occasional tech support call, you can find Jon playing ping-pong with the Grid Connect “A” League or playing (and usually winning at) a game of Bags. Jon says that his favorite part of working for Grid Connect is the people. “Everyone in the Grid Connect family is friendly and easy to work with. It makes a great atmosphere to get work done and keeps us all happy and productive.”
Jon was married less than a month ago to his beautiful wife. In his spare time, he enjoys watching Game of Thrones with his wife and their fur babies as well as attending movies and sporting events, and spending time with friends.
In a very special Employee Spotlight, we have chosen to spotlight Budd Justice for a second week with a very nice blog post, written by his partner-in-crime in the shipping department, Mary Miller.
Clark Kent has met his match. The real “Superman” is alive and well and working at Grid Connect. He’s a behind-the-scenes superhero and his name is Budd Justice.
Budd heads up our shipping department, which, with our growing business is reason enough to be called superman. Budd does this at the impressive age of 82! He puts in a full day, usually standing for most of it. He inspires me every day with his stamina, wit, and attitude. His work ethic is amazing and he rarely complains. Most of his complaints are for more work! It is a demanding, strenuous job at times that Budd handles with care and diligence. Most days he is processing 40-50 shipments a day.
Being of an older generation, technology and innovation is not always welcomed. But, Budd manages to learn and master each new process and system that comes along. This old dog learns new tricks all the time. I think that keeps him young.
I have learned from working with Budd the following keys to staying young:
Always keep moving. Don’t give up on things, learn to adapt to your situation.
Don’t be afraid to learn and try new things.
Don’t sweat the small stuff. Budd says: “The only people who don’t make mistakes are the people who don’t do anything.”
A cheerful tune/whistle is a good work companion.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Next time you receive a shipment from Grid Connect, you can know that is was carefully processed for you by a living, breathing superhero.