IRMA Announces New Vice President of Energy Services

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                

February 1, 2019

CONTACT: Ryan McLaughlin, 312-969-0255,


SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Retail Merchants Association (IRMA), which represents over 23,000 stores across the state including chains and family-owned and operated stores as well as pharmacy, grocery, hardware and restaurants, announced Brian Bowe as the new vice president of energy services.

In this role, Bowe will work directly with IRMA’s members on a number of services such as energy procurement, energy efficiency and sustainability initiatives, communication of important regulatory changes, and assisting with navigating both the regulated and deregulated environments in Illinois. IRMA has long worked with members on important energy legislation and continues to push for more efficient product development, pricing and contract transparency, and buying strategies for retailers across the state.

Bowe, has worked in the energy industry for more than a decade including, most recently with Constellation New Energy, where he managed its government aggregation business efforts across Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey and Ohio. As a manager of a leading energy company, Bowe led a geographically diverse team, coordinated sales efforts and spearheaded financial and operational analysis on an annual basis.

Prior to CNE’s acquisition of Integrys Energy Services (IES), Bowe held a number of positions with IES including serving as the company’s Director of Gas Operations, heading up a geographically diverse team of natural gas forecaster and schedulers. Most recently with IES, Bowe was the Illinois Market Manager, coordinating all sales, pricing and contracting efforts for natural gas and power with both small commercial and residential customers in Illinois.  In this position, Brian interacted with many of IRMA’s members.  Brian holds a BS in Managerial Accounting and is a Certified Public Accountant.

“Brian’s expertise with the energy industry and state and national energy policy as a whole will serve as an invaluable asset for our members. We are very excited to announce Brian as the new vice president of energy services promoting greater transparency and cost savings options to retailers across the state,” said Rob Karr, president & CEO, Illinois Retail Merchants Association.  

About The Illinois Retail Merchants Association (IRMA)

One of the largest state retail organizations in the United States, IRMA serves as the voice of retailing and the business community in state government. Founded in 1957, IRMA represents more than 23,000 stores of all sizes and merchandise lines. From the nation’s largest retailers to independent businesses in every corner of the State, merchants count on IRMA to fight for the best possible environment in which to do business in Illinois.

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IRMA Announces New Executive Vice President of Development

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                

February 1, 2019

CONTACT: Ryan McLaughlin, 312-969-0255,


SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Retail Merchants Association (IRMA), which represents over 20,000 retail stores across the state of all sizes and types including chains and family-owned and operated stores as well as pharmacy, grocery, hardware and restaurants, announced today that Gary Lukovich has joined the association as the new Executive Vice President of Development.

Lukovich most recently served as the corporate vice president for Homeowners Choice insurance company where he orchestrated a company-wide plan to enter nine new state markets. With a background in health/life and property/casualty insurance, as well as financial and banking services, Lukovich has a had a long career of creating business growth through sales, marketing and staffing and he has managed multi-million dollar budgets and workforces with as many as 25,000 professionals.

In this new role, Lukovich will be responsible for driving membership growth and ensuring IRMA’s services reach the widest breadth of retailers in Illinois as the industry continues to expand and change.

“Gary’s wealth of experience in expanding sales operations as well as developing marketing and recruitment systems makes him excellent fit to drive membership and program operations at IRMA. As the leading organization representing retailers of all types and sizes across the state, we touch many different workers and are a driving force in state revenue. Gary brings a unique skill set to reach more retailers as the industry continues to evolve,” said Rob Karr, president & CEO, IRMA.


About The Illinois Retail Merchants Association (IRMA)

One of the largest state retail organizations in the United States, IRMA serves as the voice of retailing and the business community in state government. Founded in 1957, IRMA represents more than 23,000 stores of all sizes and merchandise lines. From the nation’s largest retailers to independent businesses in every corner of the State, merchants count on IRMA to fight for the best possible environment in which to do business in Illinois.

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New Year, New Laws | Top Retail Laws Going into Effect January 1

SB 2577, Main Street Fairness  

SB 2577 requires online retailers to collect sales taxes on purchases made in Illinois.  The bill was modeled after the South Dakota law that was upheld by the United States Supreme Court.  Specifically, SB 2577 provides that if a retailer or serviceman makes a sale to purchaser in Illinois from outside of Illinois, then that retailer or serviceman is considered to be “maintaining a place of business in this State” if (1) the cumulative gross receipts from sales of service to purchasers in Illinois are $150,000 or more; or (2) the retailer or serviceman enters into 200 or more separate transactions for sales of service to purchasers in Illinois.


PA 100-1003, Nursing Mother’s Act

PA 100-1003 (HB 1595) requires an employer to provide for reasonable break time during the first year after the child’s birth each time the employee needs to express milk. The break time may run concurrently with any break time already provided to the employee. An employer may not reduce an employee’s compensation for time used for the purpose of expressing milk or nursing a baby. An employer shall provide reasonable break time as needed by the employee unless to do so would create an undue hardship as defined by the Illinois Human Rights Act.


PA 100-1094, Employee Expenses

PA 100-1094 (SB 2999) requires an employer to reimburse an employee for all necessary expenditures or losses incurred by the employee directly related to services performed for the employer. “Necessary expenses” include all reasonable expenditures or losses including, but not limited to, uniforms, equipment, vehicle expenses, electronic devices such as cell phones, tablets, and computers, and any other expenditures or losses an employer requires an employee to incur in direct consequence of the discharge of employment duties. An employer is not liable under this Section unless the employer knew or had reason to know that the employee incurred the expenditure or loss.


PA 100-0954, Food Service Sanitation Managers Certification (FSSMC)

PA 100-0954 (HB 5011) grandfathers the Food Service Sanitation Manager Certificates (FSSMC) that were approved prior to last year’s passage of the legislation that removed the redundant state certification and fee on food retailers.  Last year, IRMA convinced lawmakers to remove the redundant state food certification and accompanying unnecessary fee on food retailers.  The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) complied but has refused to acknowledge the expiration date of current FSSM certificates. This has required some employees to retake the federal tests before the expiration of the current 5 year certificates.  HB 5011 grandfathers those FSSM certificates approved before the change in the law.

4 Independent Illinois Retailers to Check Out for Thoughtful Gift Ideas

With 19 days until Christmas, many shoppers are feeling the pressure to find the perfect present for everyone on their list. Finding special gifts for each loved one seems to be a more complicated task year-after-year. You purchased the “must have” tech item; got them a sweater; wrapped countless socks and the ties; and suddenly this year, you have run out of ideas. The good news is, you’re not alone! The stress to find “unique” gifts is a shared sentiment among many holiday shoppers. The Illinois Retail Merchants Association is here to suggest four outstanding independent retailers located throughout Illinois who will help find gifts catered to the interests of every person on your list as well as some last minute holiday décor for yourself. Happy shopping!

Good’s Furniture

200 N Main St, Kewanee, IL 61443

Good’s Furniture offers an unforgettable voyage through 12 historic, multi-level buildings spanning three city blocks. A journey that is filled with infinite home improvement ideas stemming from hundreds of inspiring displays that showcase over 50 lines of America’s finest furniture makers. Beyond all the furniture and home decor, Good’s has it’s very own Bavarian Wine Cellar Restaurant where homemade dishes are paired with fine wines and craft beer; a European Style Bed & Breakfast awaits the weary eyed for much needed R&R; an expansive Market Square features clothing, jewelry, handbags, candles and locally made goods. No matter where your gift recipients are in life, Good’s carries an inordinate amount of furniture and home décor to match their style and needs. Not only is Good’s Furniture a retailer who will fit the needs of so many on your shopping list, but the perfect getaway for YOU!


Roselle Ace Hardware

821 E Nerge Rd, Roselle, IL 60172

Roselle Ace Hardware is more than your neighborhood handy store. With a wide variety of products, there is something for everyone on your list. Say goodbye to generic giftcards and socks, Roselle Ace Hardware can help you find gifts that target the passions of your loved ones. The shop’s friendly staff can help you find the perfect gift for the handyman, DIYer, foodies, holiday-lover and even those tough to buy for Grinches. For those that hate the snow, give a gift that is actually practical and adored!  Help them prepare for the weather with a creative “winter prep gift basket” that includes ice melter, a car snow scrapper, windshield wiper fluid, and a brand new shovel. For the foodie, consider a deluxe pizza oven or electric smoker. Roselle Ace has even added some surprise lines like the new Toy Department and women’s winter fashion accessories. If you’re still competing to have the best light display on the block, Roselle Ace Hardware has you covered. Focused on offering season-long, low pricing on the holiday mainstays like trees, wreaths, lights and décor, the shop carries unique product lines like the Griswald Christmas Vacation line of ultra-bright LEDs and Illuminet’s line of wirelessly syncing lights and outdoor décor.

Platt Hill Nursery

222 W Lake St, Bloomingdale, IL 60108 | 2400 Randall Rd, Carpentersville, IL 60110

A well-established nursery, popular in the spring and summer, Platt Hill Nursery continues to flourish during the holiday season. The Nursery turns their plant expertise towards Christmas trees, wreaths, poinsettias and a variety of other fresh cut holiday greenery. Platt Hill Nursery works with its vendors to get the latest harvested trees to ensure freshness through the Christmas season. Customers come from around the Chicagoland area to get custom made wreaths and live evergreen pots. Their talented artisans have been making unique evergreen displays for over 30 years and will customize the design for any individual requests making them the perfect unique gift for family, friends, coworkers, teachers, and more!  Additionally, the inside of Platt Hill Nursery transforms into a Christmas wonderland with a variety of unique holiday gifts including holiday decorations, ornaments and Christmas tree lights, and other home décor. This retailer is a must see during the holiday season!

American Sale

Click here for locations

Originally founded as a toy store in 1959, American Sale has evolved to display a great selection of patio furniture, hot tubs, above ground pools, grills, billiard tables, backyard playsets and of course, Chicagoland’s largest selection of artificial Christmas trees and holiday décor. While summer shoppers visiting an American Sale may be less familiar with this holiday shopping destination, many long-time holiday customers consider American Sale to be a Christmas destination first and foremost.

Looking to “Spruce” up your home in the days ticking till Christmas? Their showroom floor carries over 180 trees on display and thousands of holiday décor items. Plus, their knowledgeable Tree Experts are always on hand to help you bring your holiday vision to life! And with 9 locations around Chicagoland, American Sale surely is the Christmas store just for you! American Sale is also the perfect spot for unforgettable group gifts. Whether you’re splitting a gift for parents, families, or others, American Sale has their interest covered. From game room must-haves, outdoor essentials like fire pits and patio upgrades to big backyard toys, like pools, trampolines and swing sets, all the most unforgettable – and enjoyable– gifts can be found at American Sale.  

This Week in Springfield – 100-01

This Week in Springfield a bipartisan framework for a budget compromise was proposed by the Senate leaders prior to the adjournment of the 99th General Assembly and reintroduced immediately after the 100th General Assembly officially began as starting point for discussions.  The convening of the 100th Assembly also witnessed new members taking their seats and the election of Senate and House leaders.


This week, the Illinois State Commission on Criminal Justice and Sentencing Reform (“Commission”) released a report recommending a series of proposals allegedly designed to decrease the population of state prisons by 25%. One of the Commission’s recommendations is raising the retail theft felony threshold from $300 to $2000—which would give Illinois the second highest felony threshold in the nation. Additionally, the recommendation provides that a retail thief could only be charged with a felony if they had a prior felony theft conviction. This means that an individual can repeatedly steal $1,999 worth of goods and only be charged with a misdemeanor.

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