November EO Chicago Member Spotlight: Carly LaMonica
EO Member: Carly LaMonica
Company: LaMonica Beverages, Inc.
Years in Business: 33 years
How long have you been a member of EO Chicago and why did you join the organization?
I’ve been a member of EO Chicago since May 2021.
What was your first job?
Starting at 15 years old, I did odds and ends for the family business, but my first job out of college was as an assistant account executive for an agency called Momentum Worldwide in St. Louis.
Can you describe your entrepreneurial journey? Where did you start and where do you hope to go in the future?
My journey is different from a lot of other entrepreneurs who have built their businesses from the ground up. As a third-generation owner, the foundation of our company was set up decades ago. But I knew from an early age that I wanted to be in the beer business. I always joke that I was born in a Budweiser diaper, because the beer business is in my blood.
Although we’ve been focused only on beverages for the last few years (beer, wine, liquor, energy drinks, coffee, milk, water, tea), my dream is to continue to expand into other avenues—anything that is small can fit on our trucks and we’re already going to accounts, so why not? We recently brought on popcorn and fruit snacks, so I’m excited to explore similar and other opportunities as well.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
The constant changes—no two days are the same. It’s fast paced and really fun. I’m also really enjoying courting new business. Getting a hot new brand for our company and team to sell is a high for me.
What daily challenges do you face at work?
Along with the rest of the world, we’re experiencing a shortage of employees. Another thing is space. We are quickly running out of room here in our warehouse for the new items that we’ve been adding to our portfolio. There’s also concern of consolidation. Larger beer wholesalers are buying smaller ones all over the country and I worry we’ll be approached.
What is the best career advice you ever received?
To work with employees on daily challenges and ask them “What do you think?” This has been a game changer. Including employees in solutions has been one of the best pieces of advice I have ever received because it creates buy-in from all sides.
What are your goals for the future of your business?
My ultimate goal would be to expand by purchasing other beverage wholesalers. Ideally in Illinois, but I am also open to look at other businesses in the Midwest.
What’s the coolest thing you’re working on right now?
Negotiating to get a few new brands that I think have legs.
Who or what inspires you?
Mike LaMonica Sr., my grandfather. The way he treated those around him is how I aspire to be every day. He was a legend in the beer business and those that worked with him idolized him. It makes me proud and motivated to be more like him.
If you could go back in time five years and share advice with your past self, what advice would you share?
Act like an owner. I read a book called Bloom that a fellow EO’er, Matt Dahlstrom from Colorado, wrote. It talks about being an “owner versus a renter” and I wish I had read it five years ago. It has nothing to do with owning an actual business, entity, or other. Instead, it talks about acting like an owner in your career: doing each job as if you own that job. I wish I would have looked at it that way years ago.
What is the greatest challenge you have overcome?
Shortage of employees earlier this year. I’m so proud of my team and the way everyone stepped up to ensure our company could still operate when we could have been in bad shape.
What brought you to Chicago?
Actually, we’re located in Rockford! The family business is what brought me here.
How do you find work-life balance?
By taking plenty of vacations and trips. I think taking time out of your normal routine is so important, especially for mental health.
When you were a kid, what did you say you wanted to be when you grew up?
I have always wanted to be in the beer business, even as a kid. However, I went through a phase where I said I wanted to be in the FBI.
What are your favorite things to do outside of work?
Hang out with my dogs and get my ass kicked by my personal trainer. And travel!
What’s one thing still left on your bucket list?
Travel to Italy.
What are you currently reading?
The Motive by Patrick Lencioni.
Can you recommend one podcast?
I actually love true crime podcasts so anything like that—I love Dateline and Wondery podcasts in particular.
What’s your favorite restaurant?
Nobu in the West Loop.
What is your favorite part about working in the Chicagoland area?
Since I don’t live in the actual Chicago area, I would say being a part of EO Chicago and networking with people in it has been invaluable to me.
What is your top Chicago activity?
Going to Cubs games!
Where’s your favorite place in the world to visit?
The ocean—ANYWHERE by the ocean.
Thank you to Carly LaMonica for sharing her story for our November member spotlight. The Entrepreneurs’ Organization is a global business network of more than 14,000 entrepreneurs in 198 chapters and 61 countries. EO is the catalyst that enables entrepreneurs to learn and grow from each other, leading to greater business success and an enriched personal life. If you’re interested in becoming an EO Chicago member, check our membership requirements and submit an application to join today.