Editor's note: In honor of Labor Day, the H-F Chronicle talked with four local people of whose passion for their work enriches the community and make it a great place to live. This story is the first of four published in the Sept. 1 print edition of the Chronicle.
Gary Novak is passionate about turning mementos into art.
The owner of the Great Frame Up in Homewood has spent 20 years working with his customers to help create something that will bring them joy.
The store is located at 18450 Governors Highway in the Cherry Creek shopping plaza.
“It is not the same as fixing someone’s muffler or a leaky pipe. What I can do for them is help them create something that is going to make them happy,” Novak said.
Taking on his career with the Great Frame Up store was a natural transition as his previous employment was in textiles, another industry that deals in color, textures and fashion.
“I had a friend in the framing business and after talking with him, I decided to try it. I previously had 25 employees and I was looking for something I could manage myself. Now, I do everything; take out the garbage, sweep the floors, etc. And, if anything goes wrong, I have no one to blame but myself,” he said, laughing.
“I truly enjoy it. Every day is something different with a lot of fun projects.”
Novak cited an example of a couple who wanted to frame their dinner menus from where they had celebrated special occasions.
“I have done four sets for them and they hang them in their dining room,” he said.
Novak said many people have misperceptions about the Great Frame Up.
“We work with our customers to give them the best and still remain within their budget. Our goal is not to sell the most expensive, but what looks best and fits their budget. Customer service is my priority and I give a lifetime guarantee on my work. Most of my business is repeat business.”
He said he lives by TV mogul Ted Turner’s theme: “To be successful in business, sell the best for the least.”
While he enjoys what he is doing, he said there are challenges.
“Millennials do not seem to have the same tastes as the older generation and there are more people buying things on-line. This is really impacting brick and mortar stores. Taxes are going up which affects my rental costs and people are moving to Indiana to escape the high taxes.”
Novak said he chose to locate in Homewood for a number of reasons. He wanted to be close to his aging father who lived in Chicago’s Beverly neighborhood, where Novak grew up. He said Homewood is similar to Beverly, with the same values, diversity and financial status.
“It is a nice area. This shopping center has the best of everything in it and I am planning to stay,” he said.