In 1973, Karen Madonia’s father purchased Illco, a Chicago-based distributor of parts and supplies for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning as well as refrigeration equipment.

Although the company now has 97 employees in three states and generates $42 million in revenue, Illco was very small when acquired.

That means it was Mr. Madonia’s hard work, time, and investment that enabled the business to grow to its current state. Today, Illco supplies hospitals, grocery stores, nursing homes, and schools in Illinois, Wisconsin, and Indiana with vital pieces of equipment, effectively allowing these institutions to operate smoothly each day. As a result, it is imperative that Illco invests any extra income into improving and expanding its inventory.

Although Karen is not currently dealing with the estate tax, it is a constant burden on her decision-making. She serves as Illco’s chief financial officer, and she knows that if something were to happen to her father, she would need to begin shutting down branches, laying off workers, or liquidating inventory to pay off the bill. This imminent reality has forced Karen’s father to spend an exhaustive amount of time attempting to figure out how he can pass his business on to his kids without dismantling it and laying off employees.