Lake Forest NBA champ faces new competition
Former Chicago Bulls player Bill Cartwrigh, a Lake Forester, is chairman of CartwrightDownes, Inc, a firm providing background investigations of prospective employees for a wide range of companies and organizations. | Brian O'Mahoney~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 15, 2013 1:56PM
LAKE FOREST — In the world of professional basketball, former Chicago Bulls player and coach Bill Cartwright learned the technique of sizing up the competition and pursuing a favorable end result.
As a businessman, he now finds himself applying these same strategies to his company, Park Ridge-based CartwrightDownes Inc., a firm specializing in background investigations of prospective employees of a wide range of companies and organizations.
“You’ve got to be able to identify your competition, you have to be able to identify who you want to be and what you’re going to go after, especially here in the Chicago market and nationwide,” said Cartwright, the chairman of the company and a Lake Forest resident.
“Everybody is going to tell you they have the best team, everybody will tell you they have the best customer service. Our main goal is to team with the company we’re going to provide the services to in an effort to not only get the best quality employee, but an employee who is going to be there for a long time.”
CartwrightDownes largely conducts background checks of employees interested in working within the nuclear and transportation industries, but clients also represent the medical, real estate and academic fields.
Background checks are customized according to the type of company and its needs, Cartwright explained, and may include verification of an applicant’s education, work history and referrals, as well as a credit check and criminal search of local, state, federal records and government watch lists.
“You don’t want the Taliban in your company,” Cartwright said.
Caregivers and adults in leadership roles over children are particularly “sensitive areas” for the company.
“Nobody wants to see their kids abused or see an elderly person injured or having their money stolen from some hooligans,” Cartwright said.
Cartwright initially became involved with the company through his wife, Sheri, who began working there about one year before the couple decided to buy it. Sheri is the chief executive officer of the company, and the couple’s business partner is Sandy Downes who serves as president.
“We really liked the idea and the concept and thought it was something we could really build,” Cartwright said.
The business employs anywhere from 15 to 24 people, including Cartwright’s three sons.
With a basketball career spanning 16 years, Cartwright is perhaps best known for playing center with the Chicago Bulls during the team’s 1991, 1992 and 1993 championship seasons. He retired from the NBA in 1995, returning two years later as a member of the Bulls coaching staff. He had a stint as head coach of the Bulls and was later hired as assistant coach for the New Jersey Nets and then the Phoenix Suns.
With the basketball season starting up, Cartwright is optimistic the Bulls will perform well this year.
“Am I going to be going to any games? I guess at some point I will,” he said with a laugh.