America’s SBDC New Jersey Sponsors Women Warriors in Business

Joined by Expert Panelists and News12 New Jersey Executive Producer

America’s SBDC New Jersey was joined by event primary sponsors of “Women Warriors in Business,” including M&T Bank and Prudential Financial. Partners who also engaged included the U.S. Small Business Administration, The American Legion, PSE&G and The State of New Jersey’s Business Action Center, a key state funding partner of the NJSBDC network.

Ivy Charmatz, an Emmy Award-winning executive producer for news and special projects at News12 New Jersey, was the featured speaker for America’s SBDC New Jersey Women Warriors in Business program. This high-impact women entrepreneur and leadership symposium and luncheon held on May 11, 2017 at 8:00 am until 2:00 pm, took place at Rutgers Business School in Newark, NJ.

Chamatz is a graduate of Rutgers University and stated that the event offered “an opportunity for women to come together and realize that although our paths may be different, our journeys are similar.” She stated that she enjoyed “spending the morning with so many accomplished professionals to share some of their insight and inspiration.”

The “Women Warriors in Business” program helped women explore leadership challenges and opportunities in business and careers, identify competitive advantages, help with personal and organizational branding, access lenders for financing, and utilize procurement certifications that are necessary when it comes to competing for public/private contracts.

Joining Charmatz at the gathering were Stephanie D. Burroughs, senior procurement consultant for NJSBDC’s Specialty Procurement Program, Tendai Ndoro, Ph.D., regional director of the NJSBDC at Rutgers-Newark, Kate Muldoon, regional director of the NJSBDC at William Paterson University, Pasqualina DeBoer, assistant regional director of the NJSBDC at Brookdale Community College, Stacy Smollin Schwartz, marketing professor, Rutgers Business School, Dominick Belfiore, small business and entrepreneur specialist at the U.S. Small Business Administration, Don Newman, director of small business advocacy at The State of New Jersey’s Business Action Center and representatives from the private sector including Michele Litzky, president of Litzky Public Relations, Cheryl McCants, president and chief executive officer of Impact Consulting Enterprises, Beverly Winkler, director of organizational engagement, learning and development at PSE&G, Dawn Fitch-Mitchell, director of diversity at DDB Worldwide, Maureen Fairfax, vice president of strategic sourcing at Prudential Financial, Lindsey C. Holmes, chief executive officer and lead strategist of Usable Tech and Andaiye Taylor, founder and editor of BrickCityLive.com.

The event attracted more than 75 women from different business careers and paths and highlighted women in the military, veterans and military dependents. Shy Hopkins, NJSBDC’s network Headquarters marketing program coordinator helped organize and plan the event, with Eugene Spillane of the U.S. SBA and Bob Looby of The American Legion. NJTV provided coverage.

NJ Small Business Development Centers’ Clients Invited to Meet and Discuss Small Business Issues with SBA Administrator Linda McMahon

The New Jersey SBA District Office, under the leadership of District Director Al Titone, Deputy Director John Blackstock, and Project Officer and Public Affairs Specialist Harry Menta invited America’s SBDC New Jersey network Headquarters to arrange for four of its SBDC network clients to participate at a Roundtable Session with the newly appointed SBA Administrator, Linda McMahon. The gathering took place on the morning of June 2nd at Gateway Center in Newark, NJ at the offices of the SBA District Office.

“These sessions of engagement are so necessary,” said Brenda B. Hopper, NJSBDC chief executive officer and state director. “We’re encouraged that SBA’s outreach to the small business sector enhances the understanding of key issues they confront. It’s all very helpful in program services and delivery.”

“We’re glad that some of our small business clients were able to join Administrator Linda McMahon and the SBA staff members,” said Deborah Smarth, NJSBDC network chief operating officer and associate state director. “Our clients enjoyed the experience and offered their perspectives about the challenges and needs of small business owners and how SBDC assistance helped them enhance their business operations.”

One of NJSBDC’s clients participating at the SBA Roundtable was glad to have conversed about small business challenges. “The discussion was engaging and provocative ranging from the rising cost and inflexibility of Workers Compensation Insurance to unfair business practices threatening small business. No subject was off the table and all conversation was candid,” stated Paul Steck, president and chief executive officer of Exothermic Molding, Inc. “Every effort was made by the SBA to make this meeting productive and worthwhile, directly in keeping with Linda McMahon’s vision as an advocate for small business.”

NJSBDC clients who participated at the SBA Roundtable included:

BKW Transformation Group, headed by Beverly White, is headquartered in Piscataway and provides end-to-end business process management solutions by integrating strategic planning, process assessment, technology implementation and organizational change. The company has been an SBDC client since 2013. The NJSBDC at Rutgers-New Brunswick assisted the business owner with business planning, global expansion, procurement opportunities and financing. The BKW vision resulted from the owner’s vast experience at both the operational and executive level while employed at multiple major corporations and Big 5 Consulting companies, as well as managing non-profit agencies. BKW has been instrumental in developing business architectural processes and transforming them into operational support system solutions to meet business needs. The company focuses on creating holistic business solutions through its work methodologies that harness the client organizational expertise. Beverly White noted, “We work to formulate solutions that optimize operational efficiencies and the expertise of the company has grown through its valued resource team of technology specialists, business analysts, and experts in program and project management.”

Exothermic Molding, Inc., whose President and CEO is Paul Steck, specializes in the development and manufacture of high quality molded plastic parts often used as electronic enclosures in the medical devices, laboratory instruments and technology markets. As a client of NJSBDC at Kean University, the firm received assistance with trade/export issues, sustainability practices, and issues relating to the hiring of personnel. The company, considered one of the leading RIM manufacturers in the United States, has successfully served these industries for over forty years. Exothermic Molding works with independent industrial designers, and the engineering departments of global OEM’s such as Becton Dickinson, Siemens Medical, Brooks Automation, Honeywell Analytical and Beckman Coulter. The company’s client portfolio also includes noteworthy, smaller technology manufacturers such as SolidScape (3-D printing), Canfield Scientific (medical imaging), and Qfix (patient positioning). Exothermic also serves the Department of Defense and laser driven, automatic guided vehicle markets (AGV). Beginning with design consultation, Exothermic Molding provides complete product manufacturing services that include producing machined aluminum injection molds used to manufacture the molded products. Parts are molded in-house and secondary processing often includes automotive grade paint finishes, silk-screening, and value-added assembly services.

Acrilex, Inc., led by Steve Sullivan, chief executive officer, is a leading distributor of plastics, fabricated components and custom manufactured products in the NYC Tri-State area with branch offices in various national locations. The firm was a previous NJSBDC Success Award Winner. David Grunberg, vice president, represented the company at the SBA roundtable. After 42 years in business in Jersey City, NJ, Acrilex Inc. has grown into a multi-faceted industry player. The firm transitioned from private ownership to an employee stock-owned (ESOP) company. Acrilex received assistance from the NJSBDC at New Jersey City University to gain knowledge and guidance in the areas of marketing, business planning, financial forecasting, government certifications, export analysis, procurement and new market expansion. As a result, Acrilex was able to create an in-house marketing division to increase sales and promote new product lines to target groups. Company-wide sales and profits are up. Acrilex CEO Steve Sullivan believes that “community services like the NJSBDC to assist businesses to grow and be profitable are vital. The mission of Small Business Development Centers is more crucial today than it has ever been: to try and help businesses grow out of this slow economy.”

Lobster Life Systems, Inc. (LLS) is a state-of-the-art design, production, and maintenance provider of marine salt, filters, activated carbon, lobster tanks, fish tanks, shellfish tanks and other marine life systems. The company, located in Lodi, NJ, was a recent past NJSBDC Success Award Winner. LLS provides many major supermarket chains, restaurants, supermarkets, gourmet shops, wholesalers and marine exhibitors throughout North America with equipment and supplies necessary to operating a healthy aquatic system. Founded in 1989, LLS is currently owned by Kristine LaGuardia and Thomas Olsen. Tom and Kristine were employees of LLS and purchased the company from their retiring owner who was a client of the NJSBDC serving Bergen County. Tom and Kristine received guidance from the NJSBDC in key areas: sales and expense budgeting; profit and loss statements (analysis and review); marketing brand building; and development of sales in key profitable areas of the business. LLS gained an increased nationwide share in this industry and experienced sales revenue increases, allowing it to hire additional personnel. Tom Olsen notes, “LLS, Inc. has been actively working with the Bergen Small Business Development Center for several years and has greatly benefited from the relationship with our advisors Vince Vicari and Jim Palumbo. We are happy to have utilized the services of NJSBDC and will continue to look to the SBDC team to help us soar to new heights!”

Annual America’s SBDC Conference and General Meeting Held in Tennessee

The 37th Annual America’s SBDC Conference was held September 4-8 in Nashville, Tennessee, at the Gaylord Opryland Resort. The theme of this year’s conference was “Work Smarter. Live Better.”

Every year the national conference attracts 1,300-plus SBDC professionals from all over the nation. SBDC business advisors, trainers, directors and executives came together for professional development and networking.

SBDC experts and staff attended the 140-plus workshops that overflowed into the hallways, and in the exhibit hall where they eagerly engaged with each other, sharing best practices and experiences at their individual SBDC state networks. SBDC professionals also had the opportunity to engage with tradeshow exhibitors, learning about the latest information on products and services that can ensure the success of SBDC small business clients.

At the Conference, the national association held its General Meeting of State Directors/CEOs and Associate State Directors/COOs to discuss the national strategic plan and how to face the challenges of running statewide programs, including growth initiatives and attracting financial investments.

“The exchange of ideas is always very helpful,” said Brenda B. Hopper, chief executive officer and state director of the NJSBDC network.

“Raising questions on important issues and gaining insights from other SBDC leaders across the nation is always a good learning experience,” stated Deborah Smarth, chief operating officer and associate state director of America’s SBDC New Jersey (NJSBDC).

At the Conference, Dolores Stammer, regional director at NJSBDC of Northwest Jersey (Morris, Sussex and Warren counties) made a presentation on the Business Growth Accelerator Program (B-GAP) that she has pioneered at her Center, and which is being replicated by other centers in the statewide network. The initiative is aimed at high-impact small businesses with sales of $1 million or more and/or 10-plus employees. In addition, Vincent Vicari, regional director of the NJSBDC at Ramapo College of New Jersey (Bergen County), was recognized as NJSBDC network’s “State Star” along with other award winners throughout the national America’s SBDC network.