ADDISON — After 20 years in business, the owner of Pioneer Service Inc. in Addison has a new distinction to add to her name.
The manufacturer is celebrating its recent “Women-Owned Business Enterprise” certification by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council — essentially, obtaining high standards in its diversity program as a women-owned business. The certification will help Pioneer Service, which makes precision metal parts for anything from door hinges to motor shafts, be more attractive to customers who value supplier diversity.
“It certifies we are a women-owned business — operated, managed and run on a national level,” said company owner Aneesa Shehadeh. “We have a local office here we’ve become familiar with, and are going through training and finding government opportunities through them.”
Shehadeh also had a milestone of her own Monday with the anniversary of her 20th year as Pioneer Service’s president and owner. The 43-year-old Oak Lawn resident got her start in the industry early in life, when her father opened a machine shop in Chicago.
“My brothers and I worked as machinists in the shop. We did all the leg work and sales and purchasing, being the receptionist. We pretty much played every role in my dad’s business,” Shehadeh said. “There’s pros and cons to it; we weren’t able to further our education, but we were able to get hands-on experience running a business.”
In 1990, Shehadeh and her uncle decided to start Pioneer Service, and she was offered a partnership after they set up shop in Addison. She became president in 1993.
Once housed in a 5,000-square-foot building, the business now covers 25,000 square feet. Aside from manufacturing metal parts, Pioneer Service also offers expertise in centerless grinding services.
The company has 30 employees total, with just under half of them women, split between working out in the shop and management positions. Most of the staff lives in the Addison area.
“At one point we had about 50 (employees). Obviously the economy, and particularly manufacturing, has been weak in the U.S.,” Shehadeh said. “Just like any machine shop, we’ve suffered because of it and have had to lay off people. We’re hoping this (certification) will reboot the economy and particularly manufacturing.”
Shehadeh plans to attend a seminar later this month in Washington, D.C., on an introduction into getting government jobs. She said the certification opens the possibility of Pioneer Service working with the U.S. Department of Defense or Department of Energy.
This because ironic, Shehadeh said, because one of her two adult sons has been in the U.S. Army since 2009 and will be stationed at Fort Hood next month.
While her sons have considered the family business, she said she won’t force them to take over when it’s time for her to retire. But if they do, they’ll have to learn the ins and outs of both the shop and the office, just like she did when she was younger.
“One day, if they’d like to come run it, they have to start from the ground up,” Shehadeh said. “Those would be my expectations for anyone.”
While she lived in Addison from about 1995 to 2001, she recalled being a single mom, running the business and taking care of her kids. Shehadeh said she was grateful to the village for making it “easy” to run Pioneer Service by being helpful, and she’s stayed in the same spot for years because of the low taxes.
Shehadeh and her husband, Yousef, an engineer with Argonne National Laboratory, now are grandparents to grandchildren ages 5 and 6 — two additional opportunities for Pioneer Service to stay in the family.
“I was very fortunate because I did live in Addison when my children were younger, so I was able to bring them to work,” she said. “It was a huge struggle day to day, looking back on it. It’s always a struggle being able to balance your home and also having a successful career.”