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Humble Beginnings

March 10, 2010

Current CEO Michael Arkes (left) and his father, Hinda co-founder Ben Arkes (right)

 

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After graduating college, Michael Arkes had a job lined up in Champaign, Illinois as a math teacher. Prior to starting his new teaching job, he “took a weekend off” to go up to Chicago to help his father out some with the family business. Forty years later, Arkes has made “helping with the family business” into a successful career. When asked if at the time he thought he’d be making the family business a career he said “Not at all.” With Hinda seeing a ton of changes and growth over the years under his leadership, it’s safe to say he made the right decision.

Hinda wasn’t always located in the 75,000 square foot facility we occupy today. “Back in the old days” the office and warehouse were located in a three story building, each floor measuring around 4,000 square feet. At the time, Hinda leased out the second floor, so we only occupied two-thirds of that space. There was only one computer and inventory counts and invoices were done physically by hand. Hinda vet Bill Ricketts reflects on those times:

“We used to do quarterly physical inventories…we would come in on a Saturday morning and take the physical counts. One time the physical inventory fell on New Year’s Eve, and we were working late in the office to get the data entry done. Staff disbursed slowly as we worked through the issues until only (four of us) remained. Michael’s wife shows up at 11:45 with a bottle of champagne and we brought in the New Year with champagne and physical inventory.”

The business structure differed slightly too. Michael talked about how Hinda was primarily a business gift operation and didn’t have near as many “structured programs” that we offer today. Despite some of the business changes and massive growth, Arkes talks about how some things never change.

“We have always been focused on stocking product and shipping it promptly. We want to please our customer and provide them the best possible service. That basic principle has stayed the same.”

Arkes also said that even though Hinda has grown from just six employees in the 1970s to around 100 currently, he feels the initial closeness is still there. Hinda feels, and still is, a family-owned company.

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