After studying business administration at Winona State University, Mike Loftus founded MLE Merchandising & Sign Solutions in 2002 out of Elk Grove Village, Illinois. MLE now employs more than 100 people in 14 states and generates annual revenue exceeding $25 million. An avid sports fan, Mike Loftus counts the Chicago Bears as his favorite National Football League (NFL) team.
The Bears' offense is improved after the signing of Cordarrelle Patterson. The former New England Patriots wide receiver signed a two-year, $10 million contract with the Bears on March 12 and will join a wide receiver core that includes Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, and Anthony Miller. Patterson was a key cog in the Patriots' attack last season as he registered four touchdowns, 247 receiving yards, and 228 rushing yards.
A two-time All-Pro, Patterson is an incredibly versatile player. In addition to the wide receiver slot, he lined up in the backfield as well as at slot receiver and tight end last season. He's also an accomplished special teams player, having returned six kicks for a touchdown since his rookie season in 2013. Originally selected 29th overall in the 2013 NFL Draft by the Minnesota Vikings, the 27-year-old Rock Hill, South Carolina native has 17 career rushing and receiving touchdowns to go along with 2,554 yards from scrimmage through 95 career regular season games.
As president of MLE Merchandising & Sign Solutions in Elk Grove Village, Illinois, Mike Loftus focuses on building brand identities. Outside of his duties at MLE, Mike Loftus enjoys cooking on his outdoor grill.
Those who cook often on a grill know the importance of cleaning and maintaining their grill. Statistics indicate that unsafe practices led to 9,000 home fires each year. Gas grill accidents caused some 80 percent of these fires, with charcoal grills accounting for the other 20 percent.
The biggest risk when using a gas grill is leaking fuel. To detect hose leaks, wet it with water and light soap; any holes will create bubbles. If you smell gas and the flame is not on, turn off the grill immediately. If the gas smell crops up while you are cooking, call the fire department and leave the area quickly. Avoid moving the grill while you are waiting.
Charcoal-fired grills need the same attention. Keep them at least 10 feet from combustible structures and overhanging trees. As charcoal tends to burn for several hours after cooking, it is necessary to keep flammable material at a safe distance. Moving the grill at this time increases fire risk. Additionally, before loading the charcoal, check the grill for rust holes where charcoal could drop through. Keep starter fluid out of children’s reach and away from flames. Never squirt the fluid on burning coals. If the fire is too low, use fresh kindling and charcoal.
Regardless of type, do not grill on balconies, beneath an overhang, or inside a closed-in space. On cold and windy days, do not wear clothes that may catch fire. Keep the lid down to conserve heat. After cooking, soak charcoal in water and dispose in a metal container. If you want to re-use the coals, shut the lid tight.
Children are particularly at risk for burns. Establish a no-kids zone at least three feet from the grill and hot food. Thirty-seven percent of burns on children under five are related to grills.
Mike Loftus serves as the founder and president of MLE, Inc., an Elk Grove, Illinois-based signage marketing and production business. The sole owner of MLE, Inc. shares and property, Mike Loftus also enjoys spending time with his family and participating in water sports such as wakeboarding.
Wakeboarding is a water sport in which a participant rides a board that is towed behind a boat along the surface of the water. Wakeboards are usually made of a combination of foam, wood, resin, and fiberglass, and can be purchased in a variety of styles depending on the participant’s skill level.
Length is one important consideration when selecting a wakeboard, as the weight of a rider must be adequately accommodated. Longer boards can accommodate heavier participants, while shorter boards are meant for lighter participants. Shorter boards are also easier to maneuver through the air when out of the water, allowing advanced tricks to be performed. However, short boards are more difficult to balance on and maneuver through the water. Alternatively, longer boards are easier to ride in general and are better suited for beginners.