Verlissa Schrepfer has long been a part of the Wheaton community. Her association with Wheaton began nearly 15 years ago when, after working in retail for more than three decades, she switched careers and was about to earn a bachelor’s degree in interior design from Chicago’s Harrington College of Design.
Needing on-the-job training to finish her degree, one of Schrepfer’s instructors got her a job at Kitchen & Bath Authority (K&BA), a full-service home renovation and remodeling company in Wheaton that specializes in design solutions and installation services. It was a fit, and Schrepfer has been at the company ever since.
Schrepfer’s roll at K&BA greatly shifted in February, when she purchased the company from her former employer and became K&BA’s third owner since its inception in 1975. Those community roots—plus her 14 years working at the company—gave Schrepfer a client base that knew and appreciated K&BA’s work.
“We’ve been here for so long that we have customers who have come back through the years who say, ‘Oh, you did my kitchen 20, 30 years ago,’” Schrepfer said. “That longevity says a lot about this community and I’m proud to be a part of that.”
Purchasing K&BA, however, was initially a struggle. At first, Schrepfer reached out to a national bank for financing information and was talking with a banker in Texas who eventually stopped returning her calls. Looking for banking options closer to home, Schrepfer was referred to the team at Glen Ellyn Bank & Trust and began working with Vice President of Business Banking John Hughes.
The relationship instantly clicked. Hughes not only helped Schrepfer with her financing, but also introduced her to the bank’s certified public accountant and a local attorney to help her draw up contracts. And, it’s a relationship that continues today. In fact, Schrepfer and her Glen Ellyn Bank & Trust team gather quarterly for dinner and drinks.
“It was all new to me, and John just came along, took the reins, and guided me. The documentation, the entire acclimation took so many different turns, but I was in great hands,” Schrepfer said. “I call them my A-Team, because they guided me through the entire process, which got me where I am today. And they’re still guiding me.”
“It was all new to me, and John just came along, took the reins, and guided me, and I was grateful for that,” Schrepfer said. “The documentation, the entire acclimation, it took so many different turns, but I was in great hands. The combination of my team—I call them my A Team, because they guided me through the entire process—got me where I am today. And they’re still guiding me.”
Similar community connections have helped Schrepfer as she learns more about being a business owner. Hughes helped her get into the Wheaton Chamber of Commerce, where Schrepfer met several other business owners who have given her tips on marketing and promoting her business. For Schrepfer, that type of kindness and togetherness is representative of being a small business in a community like Wheaton.
“It’s more personalized when you have strength in numbers and when you have a community come together to help each other. It’s not like we’re against each other; we’re helping each other,” Schrepfer said.
“From joining the chamber, I had people reach out to me and support me by helping me with things in the showroom, like when it needed new flooring, and planning a business. (One owner) promoted my business and I promoted hers, and that’s what it’s all about: the community promoting each other so we can build it up.”
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