Two entrepreneurs hope to make their mark in the future with a business from the past.
Mark Kominkiewicz and Paul Yeh have left behind their jobs in the world of computers to become milkmen.Last week their Lincoln Park Dairy Service began making deliveries in a square-mile area with about 46,000 apartments and condos near the affluent Lincoln Park neighborhood. They've signed up more than 50 customers to start.
"The decade of the '90s is a service-oriented era," Kominkiewicz said. "And we thought that this was a market that definitely could be tapped.
"People like things delivered to their doors," he added. "You got diapers, you got pizza, you got groceries and now we're bringing back milk."
Kominkiewicz, 25, an account manager at a computer firm, and Yeh, 26, a financial analyst there, quit their jobs and formed the company two months ago.
They began deliveries before dawn Monday. Kominkiewicz' workday now will start at 2:30 a.m., when he picks up the milk. Deliveries are between 4 and 7 a.m. The company also carries juice and other dairy products.
Kominkiewicz said people who responded to their newspaper ads and fliers were lured by nostalgia or concern for the environment.
"People remember how much better milk tastes from a glass bottle," he said. "They don't get that cardboard or plastic taste. They also don't have to worry about what to do with the glass containers because we collect them when they're empty and recycle them."
The era of home milk delivery gradually began to end more than two decades ago, said Bob Garfield, director of technical services for the Washington-based International Dairy Foods Association.
Customers found it cheaper and just as convenient to buy milk at grocery stores, and now less than 1 percent of milk sales are from home deliveries, Garfield said by telephone.
"But there is a small niche of customers who can afford to pay more and like the idea of buying milk in glass, reusable bottles," he said.
Kominkiewicz expects his business to expand quickly and branch out to more Chicago neighborhoods. "It's not like you're dealing with a small town or suburb that only has 10 houses on the block," he said.
By the end of 1991, he and Yeh hope to have 1,600 customers.
"These people will come to rely on me as their milkman," Kominkiewicz said. "They'll see the same face at the door every day. It won't be like it is at the supermarket, where they're only dealing with a name tag."