Made in Chicagoland: Hoohobbers

November 2, 2011 (CHICAGO)

It was an idea that heated up over Thanksgiving dinner.

"It was way back after we had our second child, and we had one booster seat. And we were using a telephone book. Bill thought, 'You know, there's got to be a better booster seat," said Judy Sommerschield, founder, Hoohobbers.

And that's when the junior director chair/booster seat was born. Founder Bill Sommerschield coined the term Hoohobbers when he was trying to think of what to call his "whatchamacallit" design, which has always been made in Chicago.

"I think this country needs all the help it can get," Bill Sommerschield said. "Win-win for everybody."

Everybody includes employees who have been with him for 15-20 years and his own original product testers, daughters Ashley and Courtney, who say they feel just as strongly as their father about having their products made in the U.S. and made in Chicago, where they customize gifts on site.

"We started manufacturing in Chicago in 1981, and its very important that we keep our manufacturing here stateside, not only for the jobs it creates but also for full quality control. We have never had a recall in over 30 years of any of our products," said Courtney Eber, vice president, Hoohobbers.

Those products range from the original director's chair, which stores in California have ordered for directors having babies, to the rocking chair, to dinnerware, to crib bedding and diaper bags. The company keeps up with the same demands parents have requested for years, but one thing that is changing is the way more consumers are learning about Hoohobbers and their sturdy little products.

"Social media has really helped to give us a platform, what was already there," said Ashley Cornelius, website and social media director.

What's there is a family business in Chicago and helping Chicagoans through their steadfast commitment to employing people here, making products here and sharing their good fortune through many philanthropic endeavors, all from an idea that started out as a whatchamacallit on Thanksgiving Day.

1657 N. Elston Ave
773-342-0004 or 800-533-1505

***Hoohobbers is one of the businesses ABC7 has features in our "Made in Chicagoland" series. These businesses employ local workers to make products right here in the Chicago area. And the three businesses we're introducing you to are also helping us with a makeover to the Infant Welfare Society of Chicago has been helping families for a century. But there is one room in their center that needs a little TLC. So we thought, "Why not get the help of some local businesses who take pride in making products here in the Chicago area?" We will show you the results of our makeover Friday morning.

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