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NJSBDC Network Continues Growing New Jersey's Small Business and Entrepreneurs – Making New Jersey Stronger Business by Business

admin | January 13, 2014


New Jersey Businesses Growing Strong – NJSBDC Network Continues Growing New Jersey’s Small Business


Jody Calendar

(973) 353-1927 or (732) 245-9181

Making New Jersey Stronger Business by Business

December 20, 2013 (Newark, NJ) – New Jersey ranks 49th out of 50 states in terms of having the least small business friendly environment, according to a recent study issued by the non-partisan Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council on December 12.

 Still, the New Jersey Small Business Development Centers network, part of a national network of SBDCs, continues to provide comprehensive assistance for small business and entrepreneurs around the state, helping businesses save and create new jobs.

At its December 13 Annual Business Growth Success Awards luncheon, the NJSBDC recognized 14 highest achieving clients statewide. Those successful small business owners and entrepreneurs from diverse industry sectors, with varying revenue ranges and employment levels, each credited the organization with their success in moving and compelling testimonials at the Forsgate Country Club, Monroe Township.

This year’s event was even more poignant than years before because it included small businesses which were impacted by Superstorm Sandy, but, with the help of NJSBDC succeeded in revitalizing business operations to further their success.

David Pillischer, CEP of Electronic Brailler, LLC, River Vale, who has created products to enhance the lives of blind persons and has contracted worldwide now, summed up the comments of the businesses.

“Many years ago, I came to NJSBDC with a prototype that was next to impossible,” he said of the center at Bergen Community College. “They kept me focused and I can tell you, my device would not exist without you,” he said addressing the audience but looking at the directors of the center.

Kathleen Rana, owner of Jersey Girl Café, Hamilton, told the audience that the center at the College of New Jersey “put everything right after an auspicious start and allowed me the training and guidance to open a new location planned for early spring. I am so thankful.”

A victim of Superstorm Sandy and then a business that helped other victims, Bill Lashovitz, president of RBA Homes, Red Bank, credited the assistance he received from the center at Brookdale Community College, for everything it did for his company.

“They really helped us recover, double our staff and our sales revenues by 100 percent over two years and now we are building homes for Sandy victims. I thank the center and the customized counseling and courses I received from the center as well as the social media counseling. It made an incredible difference.”

NJSBDC Chief Executive Officer and State Director Brenda Hopper noted that due to population migration and “funding always being a challenge, we have made a difference!” Hopper personally awarded and thanked each client with enthusiasm and excitement.

“This is my favorite event because we hear all their stories,” she told the audience. “It’s so moving.”

“Post- Superstorm Sandy, the state’s campaign became New Jersey Strong; with the thousands of business owners we’ve served since Sandy hit, we like to say we are making a difference business by business,” said Deborah Smarth, NJSBDC chief operating offer and associate state director. “In 2012, the NJSBDC network counseled more than 5,500 clients with a total of more than 20,000 counseling hours, sponsored more than 900 business training seminars with more than 11,000 attending, facilitated $65 million in financing for our clients and our assistance helped our clients create and save more than 14,000 jobs in New Jersey. This represents all grant activities.”

The keynote speaker, Senator Anthony Bucco, Ranking Budget Officer, Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee, Morris and Somerset Counties, and the owner of a small manufacturing company in Paterson, credited the network with his success and the success of small business owners across the state.

He commented that businesses get frustrated with taxation and bureaucratic red tape even though there are ongoing efforts by the Legislature and the Christie administration allaying those concerns on the part of business owners. He explained how he tapped the services of the NJSBDC to help his business. He also noted the exceptional advocacy that NJSBDC’s chief operating officer, Deborah Smarth, provides for the NJSBDC network in Trenton. He said he would continue his advocacy efforts to provide necessary funding support for the network since it grows jobs for New Jersey’s economy.

According to the most recent national survey of state SBDCs, New Jersey invests far less than the average $1.1 million state funding investment by states nationally. “I’d like to see New Jersey be the leader in funding for this accredited program that helps produce jobs through its small business clients,” said Hopper.

“Turning around NJ’s ranking in small business and entrepreneurship friendly policies should start with the state’s investment level in the NJSBDC program,” added Smarth. “We are boots on the ground for retaining and growing businesses as well as turning around small businesses post-Sandy.”

Al Titone, District Director of the Small Business Administration, who had just arrived from the airport from a business trip, introduced each recipient and told their story of success and how proud he was of each winner.

Glenn Shafer, Dean and Professor, Rutgers Business School, stressed how proud he was to be a partner with the network and referred to the organization as “vital” and is “playing a significant role in the major revitalization happening in the City of Newark, the state’s largest city.”

The Assistant Majority Leader, Senator Linda Greenstein, (parts of Middlesex and Mercer,) praised the network for “its passion” and promised to support its efforts. She received recognition for her efforts this past year.

The NJSBDC network also recognized Assemblyman Craig J. Coughlin (Middlesex County) and Senator Steven V. Oroho (Sussex and parts of Morris and Warren counties) for their support of the network and its mission to assist small businesses statewide.

The 14 small business Success Award Winners include:

  • Optimal Solutions, Inc. (Vijay Hanagandi, Ph.D., CEO) – Delivers customized software applications that model, optimize and simulate complex industrial processes including manufacturing, supply chains, research and development projects to help companies optimize efficiencies and increase profitability; located in Lyndhurst, NJ.
  • Mallory’s Marvelous Muffins (Leslie Nist) – Has attracted new customers and grown her business due to an aggressive Internet marketing/ and website sales campaign for her diversified supply of gift baskets with an array of baked goods selections; located in Basking Ridge, NJ.
  • Electronic Brailler, LLC (David Pillischer) – Developed a classroom friendly Braille device that allows a blind student to quietly imprint Braille on paper without any disruption to others in the classroom; located in River Vale, NJ.
  • RBA Homes (Bill Lashovitz, President) – Specializes in modular home building with custom floor designs; increased the number of employees and sales levels through aggressive social media and marketing strategies in Post-Sandy; located in Red Bank, NJ.
  • Morris Family Medical Center (Elena R. Jauregui, MD) – Has grown her family medical practice since opening the business in 2000, building a practice of more than 3,000 patients; located in Elizabeth, NJ.
  • KVibe Productions, LLC (Khoa Dinh Le) – A former Web and Motion Engineer with Ernst and Young, this entrepreneur – an immigrant from Thailand – has built his film producing/cinematography business from $30,000 to a half a million dollar business in just two years; located in Jersey City, NJ.
  • GIANT Gymnastics (Jennifer Packard & John Skorski) – Focused in the world of gymnastics, the company now has 6 full-time employees and has increased sales to almost a million dollars; located in Hackettstown, NJ.
  • HerbaKraft (Nisha Khanijow, President) – Manufactures dietary supplements, employing 13 individuals and reaching annual sales of more than $4 million; located in Piscataway, NJ.
  • Tuckahoe Brewing Company (Tim Hanna, Matt McDevitt, Chris Konicki, Jim McAfee) – A team of professionals from different careers came together to start their own brewing company; the company has now entered into various distribution agreements to supply its products to restaurants and bars regionally and statewide; located in Oceanview, NJ.
  • Stokes Creative Group, Inc. (Joanne Stokes) – Provides full service marketing services with specialization in the construction and transportation industries; has succeeded in obtaining major contracts in New Jersey and New York; located in Southampton, NJ.
  • WisEngineering, LLC (Cheryl D. Hall) – A defense contractor providing technology solutions and consulting services with 30 employees and several million dollars in sales annually; located in Dover, NJ.
  • The Portuguese Fisherman Restaurant (Mark Silva) – After being severely damaged by Hurricane Sandy, the owner rebuilt the business in South River, NJ; having received an SBA loan, the company’s makeover has further attracted new customers; it is a multi-million dollar operation.
  • Jersey Girl Café (Kathleen Rana) – A corporate catering business and a retail eatery establishment, the business now has 6 full-time employees, known for its culinary experience; located in Hamilton, NJ.
  • Jethwa Management (Ramesh Jethwa) – The company’s fast food establishments had experienced flooding and disruption of services due to past storms, but, was able to obtain SBA financing and additional assistance, allowing the company to add 30 new employees since 2012; located in Paterson, NJ.


Jody Calendar

(973) 353-1927 or (732) 245-9181

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