‘Recovering accountant’: Invest in yourself
View Vladem’s interview webisode at www.winnetka.suntimes.com
Updated: November 5, 2012 6:57AM
WINNETKA — Bob Vladem, of Winnetka, describes himself as a retired “private equity person who invests for his own accounts.” And he has his own thoughts on the state of the economy.
“We’re living in difficult times, there’s no question. We’re on a 10-year plan,” Vladem said. “It won’t get any worse. It won’t get any better. Unemployment is going to stay right where it is.”
Vladem, a certified public accountant and stakeholder in a portfolio of businesses, encourages people to take a risk – Invest in yourself. “I’m a recovering accountant,” said Vladem, with a laugh. “People are giving up, but everywhere I go these days, I see help wanted signs, they’re everywhere.
“Are we creating an environment where it’s easier to say, ‘I’ll take unemployment and not get a job?’”
As a Pennsylvania auto sales stakeholder, he knows the lowest level position of an auto dealership is a porter. The question is what would make someone take that job in this environment?
“You can’t finish (a goal) if you don’t start,” he said. “It goes right back to that risk and reward, ‘Okay, I’m unemployed, I can take no risk and I can collect unemployment compensation (or) I can take a risk, I can get a job paying the same thing, I might have to work …’ But how are you going to succeed? How are you going to better yourself?
“That (porter) job that you get, how can we create an environment where people are looking at their next job as their pinnacle?”
Vladem, who graduated from the University of Illinois when he was 19, worked for accounting firms before opening his own company.
“I think the Horatio Alger (concept of) starting with nothing, and being able to be lucky and be prepared to make your luck, that is becoming rarer.”
As one who measures risk with reward, Vladem helped clients purchase businesses, then began his own collection.
The Bobby Rahal Automotive Group in Pittsburgh with partner Ron Ferris is one such success story. Vladem’s connections with C&K Trucking and AV Logistics led him to shaking hands with U.S. presidents and racing celebrities.
Fans of Danica Patrick should know she has one firm handshake. Men are warned to cup their hands to circumvent her firm grip. That’s what Bob did, saving his hand so he can grasp that super-heavy meteorite he has on display in his living room.
Speaking of strong women, Bob’s wife Ellen is her husband’s biggest supporter. They have two daughters Corey, 20, and Loren, a Carleton Washburne Middle School 8th grader.
The Vladems also support charitable causes via the fashion scene. The two were seen runway-side at the Sept. 6 Northbrook Neiman Marcus Fashion’s Night Out.