Hotel Supplier Makes New Reservation Firm to Move Headquarters to Vernon Hills

Article excerpt

Byline: Mark Spencer Daily Herald Staff Writer

Like Gideon Bibles, its products are found in most every hotel room in the country and thousands around the world.

Now, American Hotel Register Co., the world's largest distributor of hotel supplies, is moving its corporate headquarters from Northbrook to Vernon Hills.

The family-owned company is building a 72-acre corporate campus on Milwaukee Avenue south of Route 60.

American Hotel Register sells beds, furniture, cleaning supplies, ashtrays, soap, towels and thousands of other items to hotel owners big and small around the globe.

Its 1,900-page catalog is considered essential for innkeepers, with the company supplying everything down to "do not disturb" signs and mints for guests' pillows.

"We're a well-kept secret," said Thomas F. Leahy, executive vice president. "But just about everyone buys something from us."

Founded in Chicago in 1865 by his grandfather, Thomas F. Leahy, the company's primary business for many years was printing registry books for guests to sign in at hotel front desks.

After rapid expansion in the mid-1980s, the company now crams 650 employees into its facility on Shermer Road in Northbrook.

The company originally wanted to expand its existing location onto the neighboring Glenview Naval Air Station, which the federal government is closing. …