MonoSol to name new leader for first time in more than 30 years – nwitimes.com

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Scott Bening, CEO of MonoSol, The Times Business & Industry Hall of Fame’s Enterprise of the Year.
MonoSol, an innovative Merrillville company that’s had a worldwide impact making the dissolvable film for Tide Pods, laundry detergents and many other products, is passing the torch of leadership for the first time in more than three decades.
The company, a subsidiary of The Kuraray Group in Japan, named Christian Herrmanns as the successor to P. Scott Bening as president and general manager. Herrmanns is currently executive vice president and deputy general manager.
Bening has led MonoSol for more than 30 years, growing it from a company that mainly supplied the agricultural sector to one that revolutionized how people around the world do dishes and laundry. MonoSol supplies Proctor and Gamble and other companies that soluble film that’s used in single-use packets for dishwasher soap, laundry detergent and other household staples. The company has won many accolades, including being inducted into The Times Business & Industry Hall of Fame.
Bening is taking on a new role with Kuraray but will remain on the MonoSol board. Effective Jan 1., Herrmanns will take the reins at MonoSol and Bening will become executive advisor for Kuraray’s Global Innovation Network Center, which aims to accelerate the development of new product innovations.
“Leading MonoSol for the last three decades has been an extraordinary honor, growing it from a single factory into the powerhouse it is today,” Bening said. “This transition is the culmination of years of hard work and excellent partnerships and being surrounded by excellent people. I look forward to supporting MonoSol, Kuraray and the entire team in new ways as they continue to deliver outstanding results for our customers and employees around the world.”
Herrmanns started with MonoSol in 2013, since working his way up the ranks.
“Christian’s strategic acumen and customer-first mindset have been integral to MonoSol’s growth and success for nearly a decade,” Bening said. “He is an excellent leader who will carry on the tradition of excellence with a strong team and a strong business that will continue to benefit from his ongoing leadership. He has my full support and that of Kuraray leadership as well.”
Herrmanns was initially MonoSol’s director of marketing and business development. He was promoted to executive vice president and deputy general manager last year. In that role, he was responsible for overseeing the company’s commercial, R&D and procurement.
“I am humbled and grateful for the opportunity to serve as MonoSol’s next President and General Manager. It will be an honor to follow in Scott’s footsteps,” Hermanns said. “We all stand on the shoulders of those who built this great company and I have the utmost confidence in our people to sustain the highest levels of excellence that have served us well since the beginning and will propel us to new levels of success in the future.”
MonoSol’s headquarters are located in Merrillville and it operates production plants in Portage, LaPorte and at the Ameriplex at the Port business park, as well as in the United Kingdom and central Indiana.
An eagerly anticipated Olive Garden started construction in Highland.
The popular Italian restaurant chain known for its unlimited breadsticks, soups and salads has begun renovation work on the former Old Country Buffet at Main Street and Indianapolis Boulevard in Highland.
The eatery, part of the Darden restaurant group that peppers suburban landscapes across the country with sit-down dining places, had originally been looking at a Schererville location but opted instead to take over the former buffet that fell victim to bankruptcy. It is a 10,179-square-foot restaurant at 10445 Indianapolis Blvd in the Highland Grove Shopping Center, just north of the Schererville border.
Highland Building Commissioner Ken Mika said the construction work was estimated to cost more than $1.8 million.
Olive Garden also has eateries in Hobart, Michigan City and Lansing.
A new quick-service Mediterranean restaurant is coming to Merrillville.
Red Nar Mediterranean Grill is taking over the space previously occupied by Rapid Fired Pizza, which opened around the start of the coronavirus pandemic and did not make it through.
Red Nar recently leased 2,150 square feet at 8180 Mississippi St. in Merrillville, across the street from the Kohl’s at Southlake Mall. It’s located at the north end of a newer three-tenant strip mall along with the sandwich shop Jimmy John’s and the smoothie joint Smoothie King.
It will offer classic Mediterranean cuisine like shawarma, kabobs, falafel, baba ghanoush, hummus and baklava.
Myles Rapchak with Crown Point-based Latitude Commercial worked with both the landlord and Red Nar in the deal.
“This is truly a win-win for both ownership and Red Nar,” Rapchak said. “It’s a fantastic end cap location with heavy mall traffic. This is a unique concept to the area and will provide an excellent on-the-go Mediterranean option. Red Nar ownership is extremely passionate about their product and service. They are going to be a great addition to Merrillville and the surrounding communities.”
Like the song says, Santa Claus is coming to town.
Santa arrived at Southlake Mall Friday and will pose for pictures with kids at the super-regional mall at U.S. 30 and Mississippi Street in Hobart through Christmas Eve.
Kids can meet Jolly Old Kris Kringle and tell him their wish list. He’ll be camped out on the lower level near Forever 21 during mall hours, taking an hour-long break many afternoons.
Reservations are encouraged but not required.
The mall also is hosting a vendor pop-up Sunday with more than 40 vendors from Northwest Indiana and beyond. People will be able to find gourmet baked goods, local arts, children’s books, purses and accessories at the pop-up event on the first floor by Macy’s.
It will return on the weekend of Dec. 18 and Dec. 19.
For more information, including on the exact hours Santa will be available on any given date, visit visitsouthlakemall.com.
Nick & George’s, a longtime staple in downtown Hammond, teased online it might still return after losing its lease during the coronavirus.
The longtime diner, which served Region residents for more than half a century, posted that it’s still searching for a new location after closing at 5850 Hohman Ave. 
“We would like to recommend The Athenian Greek Cuisine while we are currently closed,” Nick & George’s posted on Facebook. “We are still looking for a place. We thank all of our customers who have reached out to show their love and support. We miss you all!”
realSPACE NWI has opened a new co-working space with an art gallery in Merrillville.
People can rent desks, private offices or private event space at realSPACE at 5164 E. 81st Ave. It was founded by entrepreneur Clarence Webb and registered nurse Kirsten Mayhew. Ula Gallery owner Ula Davitt also relocated her art gallery there.
The co-working space caters to entrepreneurs, start-ups, and home office workers who want to network, have a more professional space to meet clients or just get out of the house. People can rent spaces for private offices, meetings, educational seminars, book signings or wedding showers. 
It offers open desks, dedicated desks and presentation spaces. Amenities include high-speed wi-fi, printer services, coffee and a 70-inch television screen. 
Current members include real estate agencies, law firms and marketing agencies. 
The “modern-day workplace” also hosts events such as marketing classes and art exhibits.
For more information, visit www.realspacenwi.com, call 833-732-5773 or email info@realspacenwi.com.
Boundless Retrieval recently celebrated a ribbon-cutting in Crown Point.
The recovery and help center bills itself as “Northwest Indiana’s premier destination for holistic imported specialty retail items and spiritual awareness, along with a second-floor art gallery that will feature up-and-coming artists.”
It offers a variety of health and wellness services that include Reiki, massage therapy, life coaching, nutritionist guidance and hypnotherapy.
Boundless Retrieval employs a variety of specialists in subjects like sound healing, soul therapy, reflexology and rapid transformational therapy. It takes a holistic approach to health and mental health via a variety of alternative health practices.
CEO Danielle Hollingsworth started the recovery and help center at 1122 N Main St in Crown Point. It promises new beginnings and to “bring our community together by providing support and resources to help retrieve your true self.”
For more information, visit boundlessretrieval.net or call 219-226-4395.
Lanmark Realty moved from 619 Ridge Road in Munster to 8450 Wicker Avenue at Jameson Plaza in St. John.
“Sophia Panagakis Broker/Owner knows what it takes to prosper in your real estate investments because that is what she does and has been doing successfully for the last 40 years,” Lanmark Realty said in a news release. “At Lanmark Realty the right advice, support and experience all come together with one good in mind — 100% client satisfaction.”
For more information, call 219-351-5553.
Powell’s Books in Chicago’s South Side Hyde Park neighborhood reopens for in-person shopping on Nov. 27 after being closed for more than a year and a half.
The independent used-book emporium at 1501 E. 57th St., not far from the University of Chicago campus, was only taking online orders during the pandemic. It will require masks when it reopens, continue to offer curbside pickup and do crowd management “as necessary.”
“When Powell’s closed on March 16, 2020, we never could have imagined how the business and staff would be challenged and tested over the following 19 months,” Powell’s Books posted in a letter to customers. “We are extremely grateful to have made it through, what we hope, is the worst of the pandemic. Without our small but dedicated staff and the support of our customers we never would have made it to this point.”
Powell’s once had a few locations in Chicago and is known for its wide selection of used books, many catering to academics and intellectuals.
Texas investors picked Crown Point-based Latitude Commercial to be the property managers of an office building on Ridge Road. The 5,600-square-foot building was being managed remotely but Munster Code Enforcement put mounting pressure on the company to find a local manager to handle maintenance and other issues, leading Latitude Commercial to land the property management agreement.
The commercial real estate firm, one of the largest and most active in the Region, operates a property management division.
“This property fits in well with the rest of our portfolio in the Munster/Hammond/Highland corridor and we look forward to bringing the property up to full compliance,” Latitude Commercial Director of Property Management Ryne Pishkur said.
If you would like your business to be included in a future column, email joseph.pete@nwi.com.  
NWI Business Ins and Outs: Candy store, menswear store, Big Daddy’s BBQ and Culver’s opening; Benedict closes

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Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.
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Scott Bening, CEO of MonoSol, The Times Business & Industry Hall of Fame’s Enterprise of the Year.
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