In May of 1920, Kroehler Manufacturing put together a baseball team for the Fox Valley Industrial League. The team reads like a “Who’s Who” of Naperville history including:
F.J. Wehrli – lived in the Pre-Emption house and raised 13 children there
Robert Shimp – his family had a local farm and some served in the fire department
Clarence and Albert Stenger – of the brewery family
Louis Germann – his family started with a harness business in the 1890s
Fred Yanke – Naperville firefighter
Henry Stoner – family started blacksmith shop in 1870s
James and Clarence Kroehler – nephews of Peter
Joe Haas – his brother Bert became a pro ball player
Ernest and William Voss – brother Julian ran for Police Magistrate
Elmer Otterpohl – the family had a butcher shop and sausage business
Leo Koppa – served in the fire department
Clarence and Frank Barley – Clarence was involved in building the YMCA
Fred Shupp, Ray Ballman and Jeff Burke are also listed. They were all Kroehler employees, but kept lower profiles, apparently, since there wasn't much to be found about them. Many of these men also served in World War I.
Peter Kroehler was wildly successful, but the company also weathered quite a few storms. Some storms were literal – like the 1913 tornado that destroyed the first 5th Avenue factory – and some were more figurative such as the Great Depression. Kroehler himself spent two months in the early 1900s quarantined with smallpox. But he continued developing new ways to run his business and build employee morale which resulted in enviable success and loyalty.
100 years later, our own businesses in these opening months of 2020 are facing both figurative storms and quarantine. Now it’s our turn to develop new ways to run our businesses and build employee morale so we can also be wildly successful.
By the way, the newly-formed Kroehler team faced the previous year's pennant winners for their very first game. You'll be happy to know that the Kroehler team won!