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Last Update: Thursday July 29, 2021

Key Idea: Do What Others Aren't Doing

Founder Bill Malleris knows from personal experience how to build barrier-free homes.  More...

Key Question:


Find a group of  customers who are not being served.  We could talk about this with every company we study, but, with Bill this it is especially fascinating. The end-user for him is the person with a disability who wants to live alone.  

Q: How did Bill determine that he could fill his 48-unit apartment complex?

A: When he wanted to move from Minnesota back to his hometown of Chicago, he couldn't find a place for himself to live alone.  Bill makes it so clear that the more personal experience you have with your potential customer base, the greater your chances are for success.

Q: What is the difference between  book knowledge and personal experience with a subject?

A: Book knowledge is only that.  Personal experience with a situation gives one insight.  As Bill shows us his structure then his apartment, there are many details that would be overlooked by a person who doesn't live in a scooter or wheelchair.

This insight into the way a person with a disability lives makes Bill's project work for his customers.  It not only works,but also the good word-of-mouth meant he didn't have to work hard to achieve 100% occupancy before he even opened the door.

Think about it

What products or services do you or people you know want but  that they can't find?

Clip from: Maple Court Development

Naperville, Illinois: Bill Malleris builds barrier-free housing for the disabled. When he couldn't find a place in Chicago to live himself, he built Maple Court, a 48-unit residential complex with 20 units designed for people who use wheelchairs or scooters to get around. The happy part of the story is that Bill was sold out before he even finished the construction. Meet an entrepreneur-activist and learn how to do good and make a living, too.

Bill Malleris is an activist turned businessman. Since college he has been preaching about the needs of people with disabilities. His sermon goes something like this: People with disabilities want to work. They don't want to be "taken care of" or felt sorry for. But people with disabilities do need the rest of us to be open to change and to find creative ways to bring them into the workplace.....

Bill's new sermon goes like this: If you have an idea for a business, a disability shouldn't hold you back. Find a need and fill it, get a mentor, access the free and low-cost services from the SBA, start small and network with other small business owners.

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Maple Court Development

Bill Malleris, Founder

1135 West Ogden Avenue
Naperville, IL 60563
630 357 3696

Office: 630 357 3696

Business Classification:

Year Founded: 1996

Do What Others Aren't Doing

HATTIE: Do you mind telling us about your particular illness.

 BILL: I have a neuromuscular disability -- essentially the main motor neurons in the spinal cord are defective which cause slow muscle growth of my four extremities. Years back I used to walk and used a cane ... used to fall all the time. Now, you know, it's been --what?- -11, 12 years using a chair and a scooter.

You don't let it stop you. You have an agenda. You have an objective of some of the things that you want to pursue in your life, whether it's personal, business, professional, whatever, and it's really important.

It's important to have a balanced life.

I knew deep down inside, it was time to move back home to Chicago. But there was no housing - -no accessible housing. By this point in my life, I really knew housing. And when I looked at the things that I really enjoyed the most out of everything that I did, I enjoyed working on housing issues most. When I moved back, I started consulting.

HATTIE: OK, when you moved back, you said you couldn't find any place to live. Now the reason I want to stop on this point a minute is -- most people who can't find a place to live, they don't start a company to build houses. This is a very key entrepreneurial trait. When can't find what we want, we make it ourselves. Is that what happened to you?

BILL: That's essentially what happened.
HATTIE: Bill started in business as a consultant to other developers on barrier-free designs. How did you get your first consulting project?

BILL: First major one would have been with a major developer.

HATTIE: How did they find out about you, or how did you pitch yourself?

BILL: They had developed the complex that I was living in . . . they had asked me, because they knew I had the background to come and give a presentation to all of their managers. From that presentation, one thing led to another as far as people interconnecting and realizing, `We need to do more with this.'

 HATTIE: You did these consulting projects. Who is the man that owned the business?

BILL: David Hubbard. He became a mentor. He's the one who I negotiated my consulting contract with, and then as I was developing my own business, he was assisting and mentoring me. We were helping each other. I was able to help his company with what they were doing, and he was helping me in my business. He became a very good friend and I think that's important. Mentoring is very, very important.


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