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Doors to Opportunity

Amy Royal

When she started her law career with a firm in Springfield, Amy Royal didn’t consider herself an entrepreneur. But that quality emerged quickly, and she would go on to start her own firm. She soon realized, though, that she was a actually a serial entrepreneur with an appetite for developing and growing companies, the latest of which is a door manufacturer in Ludlow.

Amy Royal says she was given the small ‘Lenox’ sign, complete with that recognizable wolf logo, by officials at that East Longmeadow-based manufacturer soon after it became the first official client of the law firm that bore her last name.

And for years, it was prominently displayed on a wall in her office in Northampton, much like that ceremonial ‘first dollar’ you see under glass or in a frame at small businesses across the region.

Today, it has a new home, and that’s because Royal has one as well, professionally speaking, anyway. That would be 190 Moody St. in Ludlow, the address for West Side Metal Door Corp., a 60-year-old enterprise Royal acquired several months ago, because…

Well, there are many elements that go into that answer, and one of them is that Lenox sign. Sort of. That iconic Western Mass. company is just one of many manufacturers that have become clients of Royal, P.C., an employment-law firm. And over time, while representing many of them, Royal developed more than insight into that sector and much more than a passing interest in someday working within it.

Indeed, when she began a search for a small company to buy a few years ago, manufacturing morphed from one of several sectors being considered to the preferred sector.

“Because of the relationships I’ve had with manufacturers through my law firm, I felt that I had at least a basic understanding of workflow, operations … what it takes to run a manufacturing company,” she explained. “While I certainly explored a number of options, I really wanted to be in manufacturing.”

As she carried out her search, Royal told BusinessWest, the focus was on acquiring an established company, but one with considerable upside potential. And WSMD, as it’s called, certainly fits that description.

Launched in Holyoke in 1958, it has a diverse portfolio of products for commercial customers — diverse enough for Royal to make rebranding a top priority because the ‘MD’ in WSMD doesn’t really work anymore and hasn’t for a while now — and a lengthy list of clients as well.

Indeed, recent deliveries have been made to the Hampden County Sheriff’s Office — the county correctional facility is only a few blocks away — as well as Holyoke Medical Center, the Ludlow Police Department, a casino in Las Vegas, and Wrigley Field in Chicago, among many others.

“We make a lot more than metal doors,” said Royal, also listing custom wooden doors, door frames, distribution of door hardware, and other products, especially tin-clad doors, typically seen in warehouses but now gaining traction in a variety of locations as a retro look.

As evidence, Royal gathered up her phone and scrolled to pictures of tin-clad doors the company recently supplied to an art studio in Hollywood and a condominium tower in Boston. “They look really cool and have a lot of ‘wow’ to them,” she pointed out.

Getting back to that upside potential she saw, Royal said that, unlike her predecessor, an owner who did a little bit of everything for this company, she will focus her efforts on business development, relationship building, and, overall, positioning WSMD (for however long that acronym’s still in use) for continued growth and that proverbial next level.

Amy Royal, seen here with many of the team members at WSMD, says she was drawn by the company’s rich history and strong growth potential.

Amy Royal, seen here with many of the team members at WSMD, says she was drawn by the company’s rich history and strong growth potential.

Borrowing that increasingly popular phrase, she said she’s focused on working on the company, not in it.

“I saw a lot of areas we could build upon, including business development, marketing, and sales,” she explained. “There is brand awareness with this company, but I think we can take that to a higher level.”

As she goes about that assignment, she will borrow at least few pages from the script she wrote with Royal, P.C., which she is still a big part of, even if she and her Lenox sign now consider Ludlow home.

One page in particular involves becoming a certified woman-owned company, a designation that has opened a number of doors (no pun intended) for the law firm, and one she believes can do the same for WSMD.

Elaborating, she said Royal, P.C. is a member of the National Society of Minority and Women Owned Law Firms, an organization that forges relationships with large corporations that want to do business with such firms. Corporations like the Macy’s department-store chain, which became a client of the Royal firm just last month.

Institutional clients of that ilk also need metal doors — and wooden doors and tin-clad doors — and Royal’s goal moving forward is to forge such relationships and take the WSMD brand to new heights.

For this issue and its focus on manufacturing, BusinessWest talked with Royal about her new venture and how and why she walked through that particular door.

Open to Suggestions

Getting back to that question of why Royal acquired WSMD, as noted there are many components to that answer.

Perhaps the main one is Royal’s realization that she is not merely an entrepreneur — something she really didn’t believe she was when she started practicing law with the Springfield-based firm Skoler, Abbott & Presser in the 1990s — but a serial entrepreneur.

“I sort of caught the bug of developing and building businesses after starting the law firm,” she told BusinessWest. “I knew that, even though I’ve had a lot of different business ideas over the years, I was looking for a company that had an existing structure and wouldn’t have to be built entirely from the ground up, like I did with the law firm.

“I wanted to branch out, diversify, and own another business,” she went on, “and really focus my energies and efforts on strategic planning and growing a company.”

Royal said she started her search for a company to buy probably two years ago, and approached that exercise with patience, an open mind, and a determination to find the proper fit.

She looked at everything from a spice-making outfit in Western Mass. (she didn’t identify which one) to a small cruise-ship line operating out of Boston (again, no specifics). But mostly, she looked at manufacturers, again because she liked that environment and understood a good deal about how such ventures operate.

WSMD came onto her radar screen because it was listed for sale. She was working with an area broker on her search, but essentially found WSMD on her own.

And what she found was a solid enterprise and brand with its owner looking to retire — a scenario being played out all across the region within companies in every sector as business-owning Baby Boomers become sexagenarians and septuagenarians.

She started looking at WSMD in late 2015, and kept on looking, undertaking that proverbial deep dive to determine if the company had the growth potential she desired.

And she goes about taking WSMD to a higher level, Royal said she will borrow lessons from her first experience with developing a growing a company, something she did without any formal training (like most all entrepreneurs) and in a fashion that could be described as ‘learning while doing.’

“When I decided I wanted to grow the law firm, I really didn’t know what I was doing,” she conceded. “I went out on my own and built the firm, and figured out how to network, market, develop, and grow the brand. And that’s when I realized that that’s really my passion — growing a business, creating jobs, creating opportunities.”

There will be many aspects to doing all that at WSMD, including that aforementioned rebranding effort.

“We have a really established presence within our customer base, and they know that we do more than metal doors,” she explained. “But the name doesn’t really capture what we do, so we need to change it.”

Also on her to-do list is obtaining status as a woman-owned manufacturing business, a process already underway.

“That will be a huge lift for us,” she said, adding that the company’s application is currently being reviewed, and certification may come in the next few months. “There is a lot of competition in this field, so I do think the certification will help.

“One of the things that made me interested in this company is that it’s been very successful,” she went on. “But I think, I hope, I can take it to the next level.”

And by ‘next level,’ she meant more partnerships and opportunities with institutional clients, again similar to what’s she done at the law firm — opportunities that will hopefully enable her to grow sales and the workforce, currently at nine.

Closing the Deal

Royal told BusinessWest that she’s still involved with her law firm, obviously, and on a number of levels.

But when she leaves her home in Deerfield now, she keeps going past that exit off I-91 that spills onto downtown Northampton and goes another 20 miles down the interstate.

Like her Lenox sign, she’s taken up residence in a new office, this one just off a manufacturing floor, not a conference room filled lined with law books.

But as disparate as those settings may be, they have many things in common, said Royal, adding that, instead of building a strong case for her clients, she’ll now be building one for her doors.

And to borrow a phrase sometimes used in law, this will be — wait for it — an open-and-shut case.

George O’Brien can be reached at [email protected]

Manufacturing Sections

Showing Their Metal

Bob LeDuc, seen here with sons Kurt, left, and Eric, started in a chicken coop and has recorded steady growth ever since.

Bob LeDuc, seen here with sons Kurt, left, and Eric, started in a chicken coop and has recorded steady growth ever since.

Bob Leduc says that, in many respects, there’s been a world of change since he affixed his last name to a sheet-metal fabrication company a half-century or so ago.

After all, he got his start in a 20-by-40-foot chicken coop in his backyard, taking some odd jobs and essentially moonlighting to help feed his growing family. Today, the venture he launched, RR LeDuc Corp., is in a state-of-the-art facility on Bobala Road in Holyoke near the West Springfield, and he has established clients ranging from Lockheed Martin to IBM to Whalley Computer Associates. He also has about 50 people working for him, including two of his sons, Eric and Kurt, both serving in vice presidents’ roles.

But looking at things another way, things really haven’t changed a whole lot since the photo on display in the company’s conference room was taken, the one with Bob sporting decidedly early ’70s clothing and a hairstyle to match, an image he finds almost cringeworthy today.

For starters, the 81-year-old not only comes to work every day, he is remarkably hands-on and involved in seemingly everything taking place at the plant — just as he did when he was by himself in the chicken coop, when that assignment was much easier.

More importantly, he noted, business is still being done just like it was back then, with a laser focus on the customer, on being flexible and responsive, and on not only meeting but exceeding expectations, an operating mindset that has created a steady growth curve over five decades.

“One of the keys to staying in business this long is really knowing your customer and partnering with them to meet their needs,” he said while summing up what amounts to his success formula.

Overall, the past 50 years have been marked by evolution and expansion. Indeed, the company that started by fabricating and installing HVAC ductwork and catwalks in Holyoke’s paper and textile mills — usually on weekends when the machines were quiet — now produces a wide range of metal enclosures and other products from a host of business sectors, including defense, communications, medical, electronics, and many others.

“All the cool stuff is on the inside, but we make the skin,” said Eric LeDuc, adding that the company fabricates this skin (enclosures) for everything from computers to ATM machines to portable generators.

For this issue and its focus on manufacturing, BusinessWest talked with the LeDucs on the occasion of their silver anniversary about where this company’s been, and where these two generations of leaders want it to go.

Manufacturing Milestone

The LeDuc company celebrated 50 years in style late last fall.

There was a party on the front lawn featuring a jazz band and catering by the Log Cabin. The invitation list included customers, vendors, a few elected officials, and employees past and present.

Those gathered were marking a half-century in business, a considerable feat in its own right, but they were really celebrating all it took to reach that milestone — entrepreneurship, evolution, persistence, innovation, and teamwork.

Those qualities came through clearly as the LeDucs collectively — one would often pick up where the other left off and fill in needed information — related the story of their first half-century in business.

The chicken coop gets brought up often, because it provides a colorful, down-to-earth start to the story. But it is only the first chapter.

Actually, we probably need to go back a little further, to the Holyoke Trade School, where LeDuc, concentrating on sheet metal, graduated in 1954. He served a four-year apprenticeship with the E.H. Friedrich Co., worked there for a few years, and then worked for a few other firms, including one in New Haven, which he served as supervisor, that specialized in HVAC ductwork.

He built a house in Chicopee, and on the lot was a World War II chicken coop, he told BusinessWest, adding that soon thereafter he began that aforementioned moonlighting.

“I bought some sheet-metal-bending equipment and shearing and welding equipment as well,” he recalled. “After eight hours of work, I’d come home, eat supper, and work until Jack Parr came on.” (That would be 11:30 p.m., for those too young to know that Parr preceded Johnny Carson as host of the Tonight Show).

In that chicken coop, the elder LeDuc mostly handled the HVAC ductwork he had become versed in, and as his workload became more steady, he eventually quit his day job — and soon flew the chicken coop — and moved into a sub-basement in a building on Sargeant Street.

His client list was dominated by the paper and textile mills surrounding him, and for those companies, LeDuc fabricated ductwork and also handled so-called trim work on the paper machines. He soon gained a reputation for quality work and flexibility that enabled him to stay busy.

“I would work for a couple of hours, change clothes, and go out and make sales calls,” he told BusinessWest. “I remember one customer saying, ‘what can you do for us that the people working for us now can’t do?’ I said ‘I can work for straight time on Saturdays and Sundays.’ That raised some eyebrows, but most of their machines were down on the weekend, so that’s when they needed someone.”

The work would evolve over time, involving a shift to working with stainless steel, which required investments in new equipment, and new assignments such as catwalks, guards for machinery, and exhaust hoods.

As the mills closed down or moved south in the ’70s and ’80s, the LeDuc company had to reinvent itself, said Eric, who, like Kurt, essentially grew up in the company, starting on the shop floor and working his way up. And it did, becoming a precision sheet-metal fabricator, essentially a contract manufacturer serving a wide range of clients.

There would be a move from Sargeant Street to Samosett Street in the Flats area, several expansions of the location there, and then a major investment in a new, 60,000-square-foot building on Bobala Road.

In the early ’90s, the company was approached by Atlas Copco about adding powder coating of the casings (skin) LeDuc was manufacturing for its portable generators to its roster of services.

“There was no one in this country that was doing it at that time,” Bob LeDuc recalled, adding that powder coating has become a strong component of the company’s overall roster of services.

Today, the company has a diverse portfolio of clients and an equally diverse portfolio of products it produces for them. And one of the keys to both is a tradition of continually investing in state-of-the-art technology, said Eric, noting that the company has made great strides in automated, or lights-out, manufacturing, as it’s called, because it can be done 24/7, or when the lights are out, at least for employees.

Recent additions to the shop floor, complete with many letters and numbers in their names, include:

• An EMK3610NT CNC punch press with ASR multi-shelf sheet loader, which enables multiple programs to run unassisted 24/7;

• The Astro 100NT automated bending robot, which, as name suggests, is the answer for forming parts unassisted (automated tool changing allows the sequencing of multiple programs);

• The FO 3015NT 4,000-watt laser, capable of cutting steel and aluminum in a wide range of thicknesses; and

• The EM3610NT CNC punch press, which, along with lights-out manufacturing, allows mass production of high-quality parts.

There are many other pieces of equipment on the floor, said Eric, adding that all those numbers and letters add up to flexibility and responsiveness, qualities that have enabled the company to continue to grow its client list over the years.

Shining Examples

There are a few other artifacts in the company’s conference room, including the time-worn ‘RR LeDuc’ sign that hung on the property on Sargeant Street.

It stands as another indicator of just how much things have changed for this company since Bob LeDuc would come back in from the chicken coop in time to watch Jack Parr.

But equally important is what hasn’t changed in all that time — the focus on the customer and forming a partnership with it to meet goals and needs.

That focus has enabled the company to shape opportunities in the same way that it has shaped metal.

George O’Brien can be reached at [email protected]

Court Dockets Departments

The following is a compilation of recent lawsuits involving area businesses and organizations. These are strictly allegations that have yet to be proven in a court of law. Readers are advised to contact the parties listed, or the court, for more information concerning the individual claims.

CHICOPEE DISTRICT COURT

Ronald J. Grandbois v. Bailey J. Jones and Alert Ambulance Service Inc.

Allegation: Negligence; vehicle owned by Alert Ambulance Service collided with plaintiff’s vehicle, causing injury: $8,694.57

Filed: 4/20/18

HAMPDEN DISTRICT COURT

American Builders & Construction Supply Co. Inc. d/b/a ABC Supply Co. Inc. v. David Kimball a/k/a David L. Kimball d/b/a Coastal Custom Remodeling

Allegation: Money owed for goods sold and delivered: $13,396.48

Filed: 4/6/18

Brandon Prior, a minor, by his father and next friend, Dennis Prior, v. Shawn McEwen, a minor, by his father and next friend, Brandon McEwen, and New England Fitness & Wellness, LLC

Allegation: Negligence; plaintiff struck by yoga ball at Healthtrax facility during hockey camp, causing injury: $4,120.95

Filed: 4/12/18

HAMPDEN SUPERIOR COURT

Carol Burns v. Medcare Emergency Health

Allegation: Negligence causing injury: $2 million

Filed: 3/23/18

US LBM Holdings, LLC d/b/a East Haven Builders Supply v. Whitman Restoration Inc. and Claude Whitman

Allegation: Breach of contract; money owed for construction materials sold and delivered: $22,914.23

Filed: 3/29/18

Gregory Heffernan v. Automatic Equipment Manufacturing Co. d/b/a Blue Ox, Diamond RV Centre Inc., and Keller Marine Service Inc.

Allegation: Product liability; plaintiff injured while unhooking trailer hitch from RV: $1 million

Filed: 3/30/18

Herman P. Cumby v. 110 Island Pond Road, LLC d/b/a Nathan Bill’s EFP Bar and Restaurant, et al

Allegation: Negligence causing injury: $1.1 million

Filed: 4/6/18

Jackie Ligon v. Nathan Bill’s Bar & Restaurant and John Robert Sullivan

Allegation: Negligence causing injury: $101,000

Filed: 4/6/18

Jozelle Ligon v. Nathan Bill’s Bar & Restaurant and John Robert Sullivan

Allegation: Negligence causing injury: $101,650

Filed: 4/6/18

Michael Cintron v. Nathan Bill’s Bar & Restaurant and John Robert Sullivan

Allegation: Negligence causing injury: $101,000

Filed: 4/6/18

Ryan P. McConnell p/p/a Paul R. McConnell v. Town of Wilbraham and Hampden-Wilbraham County Regional School District

Allegation: Negligence; loose concrete capstone on brick support at Mile Tree Elementary School fell and struck plaintiff, causing injury: $150,000

Filed: 4/6/18

Paula Click v. Walmart

Allegation: Negligence; slip and fall causing injury: $32,945

Filed: 4/6/18

HAMPSHIRE DISTRICT COURT

W.B. Mason Co. Inc. v. Veracruz Foods Inc. d/b/a La Veracruzana

Allegation: Money owed for goods sold and delivered: $11,552.13

Filed: 4/16/18

HAMPSHIRE SUPERIOR COURT

DAS Property Group, LLC v. The Antiquarian, LLC

Allegation: Breach of lease: $73,965

Filed: 4/10/18

Country Bank for Savings v. Big Y Foods Inc.

Allegation: Breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, breach of contract: $25,000+

Filed: 4/19/18

WESTFIELD DISTRICT COURT

John Nadolski v. Michael J. Bisgrove d/b/a Bisgrove Construction

Allegation: Defendant damaged equipment rented from plaintiff and failed to pay for damage: $7,967

Filed: 3/14/18

Daily News

AMHERST — The winning flavor in this year’s UMass Amherst student ice-cream competition is chili chocolate chip, as selected by judges in the fourth annual food-science event held on campus April 30. It will become the latest UMass student-created ice cream produced by Maple Valley Creamery of Hadley over the coming weeks, said owner Bruce Jenks.

For the event, creamery staff, local chefs, and guest judges sampled original ice creams created by four teams of senior food-science majors vying for the honor of developing a new flavor for the UMass label. “This year we had a pretty clear winner,” Jenks said, but he complimented all four teams on their hard work, ambitious goals, and thinking outside the box. “This is the highlight of our spring at Maple Valley Creamery. We really appreciate the students’ enthusiasm and hard work.”

Jenks said a new feature in this year’s competition, the use of Equal Exchange ingredients in the student ice creams, is a valuable marketing point and “very cool.” Equal Exchange, which provided samples to teams throughout the semester, sources ingredients from small-scale farmers around the world and supports their local communities.

The three other entries in this spring’s competition were a butternut squash flavor with lemon zest, ginger, turmeric, and semi-sweet chocolate bits; a chocolate banana graham-cracker flavor; and a strawberry-basil flavor with dark chocolate pieces. The strawberry-basil, dubbed ‘summer blush’ by its creators, won the audience’s vote for best flavor, and Jenks said he may make a seasonal batch of it in the summer.

Members of the winning chili chocolate chip team are Marina Gela, Gina Grimaldi, Rachael Montigny, Joshua Liao, Erica Snyder, and Jozxelle Tongson. In their presentation, they said their flavor, which uses a spicy Mexican chocolate mix from Equal Exchange, plus cinnamon, chili mixture, and churro extract, matches a recent trend in consumer acceptability by using authentic ethnic foods sourced from small farms while meeting the standards of a premium ice cream.

The 24 students in four teams developed the new flavors for their senior capstone project in Assistant Professor Maria Corradini’s food processing class and lab. Their creations must stay under a price-per-pint cost limit while maximizing taste, aroma and texture. The students also identify sources of food allergens and make sure their formulations comply with ingredient-specific food-safety regulations, clean manufacturing standards, and natural-ingredient rules.

40 Under 40 Class of 2018

Director of Marketing, MachineMetrics; Age 30; Education: BA, Wesleyan University

Graham Immerman

Graham Immerman

Immerman is an accomplished leader and experienced startup veteran with an integrated background in digital, social, traditional, and account-based marketing, growth strategies, and business development. After graduating from Wesleyan University with a double major in psychology and music, he spent his early career working on Madison Avenue at global and boutique marketing firms to help craft successful digital-marketing strategies for brands like Adidas, Reebok, H&R Block, and Starbucks. The youngest member of the Forbes Communications Council, Immerman is now director of Marketing for MachineMetrics, and has quickly become an industry expert in digital manufacturing transformation and industrial IoT applications. He currently lives in Northampton with his wife, Jessica Dupuis (a 40 Under Forty honoree in 2017), and their two loving, frisky cats.

Who has been your best mentor, and why? After I outgrew my first career aspiration of becoming the next Superman, I decided I wanted to be a lawyer like my father. He took great pride in helping people when they needed someone to stand up for them. In retrospect, I guess it was a logical next step from my initial superhero ambitions. He was not only my idol, but my inspiration, and I wouldn’t be the man I am today without his mentorship.

How do you define success? Success is a satisfaction with how one answers the following questions: how happy am I with the person I’ve become, the efforts I’ve shared with the world, and the impact I’ve had on others? Thus, success is peace of mind, a self-satisfaction in knowing that you did everything you could do to become the best person you are capable of becoming.

What four words best describe you? Persistent, honest, loving, leader.

What are you passionate about? I’m most passionate about people. More than anything else, I love human interaction, communication, and connection. From the profession I work in to the friends I keep to the technologies I’ve built, it all comes from a desire to bring people together and connect us in some way. It’s what drives me and what I’m most dedicated to.

What will work colleagues say at your funeral? I’ve actually been waiting for someone to ask me this, and I prefer to approach it as my ideal tombstone quote instead. Option 1: “It is not for me to judge another man’s life. I must judge, I must choose, I must spurn, purely for myself. For myself, alone.” —Herman Hesse, Siddhartha. Option 2: “He left this world as he came into it: terrified that there wouldn’t be enough food.” —Me. I like Option 2.


Photography by Leah Martin Photography

Daily News

EAST LONGMEADOW — Griffin Staffing Network, a certified woman- and minority-owned business, has undergone a company rebrand to ManeHire and unveiled its new logo, tagline — “connecting great companies with great talent” — and website, manehire.com, to support its expansion from a local boutique staffing agency to a full-service regional staffing agency serving the Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, and Washington, D.C. markets.

Since 2013, Griffin Staffing Network has served a wide-range of local and regional clients operating in industries such as healthcare, financial services, insurance, manufacturing, and nonprofit, filling roles from entry-level to C-suite and everything in between.

The company is committed to customer service and being the right partner, with the right solutions and the right fit, said Nicole Griffin, owner and chief talent officer. “This approach has played a strategic role, with our client retention rates continuing to be above the industry average.”

ManeHire differentiates itself from competitors by listening to clients, problem solving, and building lasting relationships with service that exceeds the status quo, Griffin added. “ManeHire’s core values will remain the same. Relationships are our bedrock, and we will continue to deliver extraordinary experiences for our clients.”

Departments Incorporations

The following business incorporations were recorded in Hampden, Hampshire, and Franklin counties and are the latest available. They are listed by community.

AMHERST

Democracy Action Inc., 48 North Pleasant St., Suite 304, Amherst, MA 01002. Ben Clements, 256 Park St., Newton, MA 02458. Work to advocate progressive stances on civil rights and liberties, social and economic justice, sensible foreign policy, and sustainable environmental policy.

CHICOPEE

Czar Industries Inc., 1981 Memorial Dr., #256, Chicopee, MA 01020. Curtis P. Duval, Same. Metal door manufacturing.

HOLYOKE

Casa De Restauracion Nuevo Pacto, 384 High St., Third Floor, Holyoke, MA 01040. Luz Merari Torres, 26 Tracy St., Springfield, MA 01104. Restaurant.

PALMER

Aquatic Avengers Inc., 45 French Dr., Palmer, MA 01069. Corey Lomas, Same. Swim coaching.

PITTSFIELD

Bill White Insurance Agency Inc., 82 Wendell Ave., Suite 100, Pittsfield, MA 01201. William White, 710 Rimpau Ave., Suite 203, Corona, CA92879. Insurance producer.

SPRINGFIELD

Colby’s Path to The Cure; Hope. Love. Cure. Inc., 35 Palm St., Springfield, MA 01108. Colette Proctor, 33 Palm St., Springfield, MA 01108. Raising awareness and supporting research to cure synovial sarcoma.

Crowned with Excellence Inc., 1655 Main St., Suite 302, Springfield, MA 01103. Merlly D. Ortiz, 52 Casino Ave., Chicopee, MA 01013. To foster a holistic approach of healing, transformation and empowerment of woman. Crowned with excellence believes through empowerment by education, integrating wellness to the body, mind and spirit.

WEST SPRINGFIELD

Aroma One Inc., 935 Riverdale St., Suite F105-107, West Springfield, MA 01089. Xian-Ming Zheng, same. Restaurant.

Buscoe Inc., 425 Union St., West Springfield, MA 01089. Elmo Coe, Same. Bus transportation.

Carolina Express Tours Inc., 425 Union St., West Springfield, MA 01089. Rheuben Herbert, same. Charter bus company.

Chrzan Founder Holdings Inc., 143 Doty Circle, West Springfield, MA 01089. Jan Chrzan, Same. Shipping and Delivery Service.

Departments People on the Move

Meyers Brothers Kalicka, P.C. announced the promotions of Chelsea Cox, Lyudmila Renkas, Joseph LeMay, Dan Eger, and Francine Murphy.

Chelsea Cox

Chelsea Cox

Cox began as an intern at MBK in 2015 and became a full-time associate the following year. In her new position as senior associate in the Accounting and Audit Department, her primary focus is on nonprofit and commercial audits and employee-benefit plans. She is a member of the Massachusetts Society of Certified Public Accountants and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

Lyudmila Renkas

Lyudmila Renkas

Over the past two years at MBK, Renkas has served as an associate accountant in the Audit and Accounting department at MBK. Having recently completed her MSA, she will turn her attention to new responsibilities as a senior associate. In her new role, she will be responsible for planning and leading client audit engagements, internal control evaluations, and pension audits. In addition, she prepares individual, partnership, and corporate tax returns for clients in the real-estate, construction, healthcare, and nonprofit industries.

Joseph LeMay

Joseph LeMay

Lemay joined MBK in January of 2015 as an associate. In his new role as senior associate, his responsibilities consist of being the lead accountant on review and compilation-level engagements, staff training, and tax-planning strategy for clients in the manufacturing, healthcare, hospitality, and distribution industries. He obtained his CPA license in 2017 and is a member of the Massachusetts Society of Certified Public Accountants and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

Dan Eger

Dan Eger

Eger, who has been with MBK since 2005, has been promoted to senior associate. He focuses on preparing federal and state income-tax forms for corporations, individuals, and nonprofits. He has more than 12 years of tax experience and brings a wealth of knowledge to his role. In addition to serving as a tax preparer, he has developed an expertise in the firm’s specialized tax software, servicing as a resource to the entire Tax Department.

Francine Murphy

Francine Murphy

Murphy, who has served as a paraprofessional in MBK’s Accounting Department since 2013, has been promoted to tax associate. In that new role, her responsibilities include preparing federal and state income-tax forms for corporations, individuals, and nonprofits; preparing city and town tax filings; preparing annual reports; and responding to IRS notices.

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Sofia Nardi

Sofia Nardi

CLICK Workspace, a co-working space located in downtown Northampton, announced the hiring of Sofia Nardi as a new member advocate. Nardi is a recent graduate of Bay Path University, where she double-majored in small business development and marketing, graduating summa cum laude. At CLICK, she manages all administrative functions, including financial accounting, office operations, purchasing, and troubleshooting routine problems with equipment and maintenance. Serving as the first point of contact for all inquiries and visitors, she aims to ensure a welcoming environment. As the member advocate, Nardi manages all communications within the organization and beyond. This includes maintaining website infrastructure, curating monthly e-mail newsletter content, managing the social-media presence of the organization, and actively marketing the firm in the immediate community and beyond.

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Geraldine de Berly

Geraldine de Berly

Geraldine de Berly has been named vice president of Academic Affairs and chief academic officer at Springfield Technical Community College (STCC), President John Cook announced. De Berly’s hiring comes after an extensive search and comprehensive vetting process. Currently vice provost for Continuing and Professional Education at UMass Amherst, de Berly begins her new position at STCC on May 1. De Berly, who holds a Ph.D. in education administration, has worked in higher education for more than three decades, in both faculty and administrative roles. At New Mexico State University, she was an associate English as a second language professor, as well as director of the Center for Intensive Training in English. She also worked for 18 years at Syracuse University, University College, including serving as associate dean for Academic Affairs and senior associate dean. University College offers degree, certificate, and non-credit courses and serves as the gateway across Syracuse University for part-time students. As vice provost at UMass Amherst, de Berly managed a budget with more than $50 million in revenue. During her time, enrollment expanded 6% to exceed 31,000 students. Since 2016, six new programs were launched under her leadership. Born in Cuba, de Berly is fluent in four languages. She began her higher-education journey at Miami Dade Junior College. She went on to earn her bachelor’s degree from Stanford University, a master’s from the University of Essex (England), and her Ph.D. in education administration from New Mexico State University.

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Jesus “Laz” Montano

Jesus “Laz” Montano

Underscoring the importance it places on comprehensive, robust information security and risk-management capabilities, MassMutual named long-time information-technology executive Jesus “Laz” Montano its new head of Enterprise Information Risk Management (EIRM) and chief information security officer. In his new role, Montano will work closely with the company’s executive leadership team, directing a holistic risk-management approach across the company, including managing operational and cybersecurity risks, ensuring all regulatory and compliance requirements are met, and overseeing the safeguarding of MassMutual’s information assets. Montano joins MassMutual from Voya Financial, where he served as chief information security officer for the past four years, responsible for providing leadership, management, and strategy for all aspects of the company’s technology risk and information security. He has also held technology security leadership roles at OpenSky, MetLife, the Travelers Companies, and Lucent Technologies. A graduate of Charter Oak College, Montano earned his MBA in business and technology from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He is also a certified information security manager, certified in the governance of enterprise IT, and serves as a National Technology Security Council board member.

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Elyssa Morgan

Elyssa Morgan

Julie Duffé

Julie Duffé

Florence Bank announced that Elyssa Morgan and Julie Duffé were recently selected as recipients of its President’s Award for 2018. The President’s Award was established by the bank in 1995, affording employees the annual opportunity to nominate their peers for an honor that recognizes outstanding performance, customer service, and overall contribution to Florence Bank. Both Morgan and Duffé were nominated by numerous colleagues. Morgan is the deposit operations manager at the main headquarters in Florence and has worked at the bank for seven years. She holds an associate’s degree in business administration from Bay Path University. Duffé, a customer service representative in Florence Bank’s main office, has been with the bank for seven years. She is a Springfield Technical Community College graduate and holds an associate’s degree in business administration and finance. In addition, she is also certified as an individual retirement account specialist through Ascensus.

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Karrah Smith, owner of Something to Talk About Boutique, was recently named Business Owner of the Year by the Assoc. of Black Business Professionals, and was awarded a certificate by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in Boston last month. Smith, a 24-year-old Springfield native, received her associates degree in criminal justice from Holyoke Community College. However, her passion for fashion took center stage in 2015 when her beloved older cousin, Diane Evans, original owner and founder of Something to Talk About Boutique, passed away from pancreatic cancer, leaving the store, located on the street level of Tower Square, to Smith and her mother, Stephanie. Smith has given back to the community in multiple ways, including donating proceeds from fashion shows to local charities. She also works with other young women, giving them pointers on how to run a business.

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Chris Hakala

Chris Hakala

Springfield College named Chris Hakala director of the Center for Excellence in Teaching, Learning, and Scholarship. The newly created academic-affairs position was developed through the college’s strategic planning process, and the center strives to foster intellectual engagement across the curriculum through evidence-based programs and services that increases collaboration, communication, and community to promote the enhancement of student learning. Hakala brings more than 20 years of experience as a faculty member at various institutions in higher education. Most recently, he served as executive director for the Center for Teaching and Learning at Quinnipiac University. Before joining Quinnipiac, he taught psychology at the University of New Hampshire, Gettysburg College, Lycoming College, American International College, and Western New England University, where he served as director of the Center for Teaching and Learning from 2009 to 2014. Hakala earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Castleton State College, and his master’s degree and Ph.D. in psychology from the University of New Hampshire.

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Nicholas Grimaldi

Nicholas Grimaldi

Nicholas Grimaldi has become a partner at Fierst, Kane & Bloomberg, LLP, while Peter Lane has been named of counsel in the law firm. Grimaldi joined the firm in 2014 and has more than 18 years of experience as a lawyer. His practice will continue to focus on representing individuals, businesses, and financial institutions in corporate transactions, real estate and secured lending, entertainment and interactive media law, creditor’s rights, and commercial matters. He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin at Madison and the Boston University School of Law. Lane has 10 years of experience representing individuals and businesses in civil and criminal litigation, including commercial litigation, landlord-tenant law, criminal defense, and civil rights. He is a graduate of Fordham University and Brooklyn Law School.

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Kayla Drinkwine

Kayla Drinkwine

Kayla Drinkwine has rejoined Phillips Insurance Agency Inc. as a commercial lines account manager. She started in 2012 with Phillips Insurance and left earlier this year for an opportunity at another agency. She will be responsible for managing the insurance programs of businesses throughout New England. Drinkwine has her CRIS (construction risk and insurance specialist) and CISR (certified insurance service representative) designations and is a licensed Massachusetts insurance broker.

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River Valley Counseling Center (RVCC) promoted Michael Chunyk to the position of site manager at its newest location at Liberty Commons on 2 Mechanic St. in Easthampton. Chunyk obtained his master of social work degree from Springfield College School of Social Work. He has been practicing at RVCC for the last three years as a licensed therapist specializing in working with men who have experienced emotional trauma and addressing symptoms that arise from post-traumatic stress disorder, such as anger issues, depression, and relationship difficulties. He is also a 2018 recipient of the UMass Community Salute Plaque for his dedicated commitment and humanitarian spirit, which has made a positive impact in Western Mass. communities. As the former executive director of Lorraine’s Soup Kitchen and Pantry in Chicopee, he brings many years of organizational leadership to River Valley’s Easthampton team. Alexa Mignano has also joined the RVCC team in Easthampton as coordinator of School-Based Mental Health Counseling and works as a child-focused therapist. She received her master’s degree from from Springfield College and has been working at RVCC as a therapist in the Holyoke Public Schools for more than seven years. She specializes in treating trauma, adjustment problems, anxiety, self-regulation difficulties, disruptive behavior, and other challenges. Her goal is to help children engage their mind and body throughout the therapeutic process as they work towards healing; this includes play therapy, movement-based interventions, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and parenting support. She also provides training and consultation to schools in implementing trauma-informed practices.

Community Spotlight Features

Community Spotlight

Deerfield boasts drawing cards like Mount Sugarloaf

While Deerfield boasts drawing cards like Mount Sugarloaf (seen here), Yankee Candle, and others, officials there say this community is much more than a tourist town.

Wendy Foxmyn acknowleged that, when pressed to describe Deerfield with a word or two, most responders would say ‘tourist town,’ or something to that effect.

And, sounding somewhat like the Seinfeld characters in that infamous episode, she said there’s nothing particularly wrong with that.

But she quickly, and repeatedly, stressed that this community that is home to Yankee Candle’s flagship store — one of the most visited attractions in New England — as well as Mount Sugarloaf, Historic Deerfield, and the Magic Wings Butterfly Conservancy and Garden wants to diversify and broaden its commercial portfolio.

“We consider ourselves be more than a tourist town — much more,” said Foxmyn, who has served several area communities in the town administrator role, including Deerfield for the past two years. She noted that the town’s location, roughly halfway between Northampton and Greenfield, could make it ideal as a home from which a business or nonprofit could effectively serve both Hampshire and Franklin counties, something many are trying to do at a time of consolidation.

“We’re becoming more of a hub — a central Hampshire-Franklin hub,” she explained. “I’ve been getting calls from service agencies and others who serve both counties who would like to find a central place because they’ve lost funding or anticipate losing funding.”

Meanwhile, Deerfield, population 5,400 or so, wants to take far more advantage of that bevy of tourist attractions than it has historically, said Foxmyn, noting that, far too often, cars and buses filled with those buying candles and admiring butterflies get back in their vehicles and simply return home.

“We want them to look left and look right,” said Foxmyn, referring specifically to Routes 5 and 10, just two of the major thoroughfares the town is blessed with, with Routes 91 and 116 being the others. “We want them to stay and take in more of Deerfield.”

For this to become reality, the town must give visitors more reasons to look left and right, she acknowledged, adding that, while there is a new restaurant, Gianni Fig’s Ristorante, and a new Cumberland Farms in South Deerfield, more development is desired and needed to both broaden the tax base and lengthen the average stay of those coming to Deerfield for an afternoon.

“We’d like to develop more businesses that would be attractive to the people who come here,” she explained. “Maybe places for them to eat after they’ve gone to Historic Deerfield or they’ve hiked up Mount Sugarloaf or gone to Yankee Candle.”

But town leaders know that to attract new businesses — in hospitality and other sectors as well — they need to make their downtown area more inviting and pedestrian-friendly, and they are eyeing a host of improvements in the Elm Street corridor, the main commercial area in South Deerfield.

Planned improvements include work on sidewalks, lights, and perhaps storefront improvements, and the town is exploring avenues for funding such work.

Selectman Trevor McDaniel, a traveling salesman (windows) by trade, told BusinessWest that his work takes him to communities across the region, many of which have made significant investments in their downtowns, and with recognizable results when it comes to those public expenditures spurring private investments and new business ventures.

He believes the same can happen in Deerfield.

“I travel all over Western Mass. … you go to Pittsfield, the streets look great, Great Barrington, everything’s redone, Lenox is really nice,” he said. “A lot of communities have done extensive work to their downtowns — they’ve put in new brick, some granite, planters, new lighting and light poles, and new cement sidewalks, and it looks fantastic. And then businesses freshen up the front of their building.”

For this, the latest installment in its Community Spotlight series, BusinessWest looks at how a community known for its butterflies, candles, and arrowheads will look to expand that profile and create new ways for people to describe it.

View to the Future

While Deerfield, as noted, is well-known as the home of Yankee Candle, which has both its manufacturing facilities and flagship store within the town and is therefore a very large employer, it has historically been dominated by small businesses.

And they come across a host of sectors — tourism, obviously, but also agriculture, healthcare, retail, manufacturing, and nonprofits.

The goal moving forward, as Foxmyn mentioned, is to simply broaden the portfolio. And the town has many assets to work with as it goes about that task, everything from that attractive location and presence on major highways to a uniform tax rate (several neighboring communities have a higher tax rate for businesses).

The assignment, simply, is to take full advantage of those assets and create still more of them.

Deerfield at a Glance

Year Incorporated: 1677
Population: 5,400
Area: 33.4 square miles
County: Franklin
Residential and commercial Tax Rate: $16.57 (Deerfield), $18.24 (South Deerfield)
Median Household Income: $74,853
Median Family Income: $83,859
Type of Government: Open Town Meeting
Largest Employers: Yankee Candle Co., Pelican Products Inc.
* Latest information available

The town’s location, as well as easy access to highways and ample farmland with space for greenhouses, could make it a potential landing spot for marijuana cultivation and/or retail ventures, for example, said Foxmyn, adding that the town, which has placed zoning restrictions on such businesses, has already fielded some inquiries and will carefully consider any that come its way.

“They are knocking on our doors — the industry is swarming us,” she told BusinessWest. “And they’re approaching people locally to get them involved, whether they’re farmers or people who have buildings that might become a retail site.”

Meanwhile, there have been some momentum-building endeavors over the past several months, with several projects in various stages of development.

A machining company, Dumont, will be relocating into the former Oxford Pickle complex, acquired by the town several years ago, joining New England Natural Bakers and a granola-making outfit on that parcel.

On the retail side, both Foxmyn and McDaniel mentioned Gianni Figs, located on the site of the former Sienna restaurant, which gives the community an intriguing dining attraction after the closing of Chandler’s restaurant on the Yankee Candle campus.

The Cumberland Farms is another important addition; plans are advancing for a small market to replace Savage’s, a small market that operated for decades; a bakery/café is going in the old Savage’s site; and an international market is being opened, among other retail developments.

Meanwhile, on the residential side, a large condominium project is now underway. Called the Condominiums at Sugarloaf because it will be built at the base of the mountain, it will have 70 units, presenting more options for those mulling Deerfield as an attractive place to live, including those working at the nearby Five Colleges.

On the municipal side, plans are emerging for a new senior center, said Foxmyn and McDaniel, noting a replacement is needed for an aging, largely inadequate facility. A church that closed several years ago has been donated to the town, and it may become the focus of efforts to create a new senior center.

But perhaps the most significant development involves plans for comprehensive improvements to improve South Deerfield Center, an initiative that has been long discussed, again with that goal of attracting both more tourism- and hospitality-related ventures and service businesses that would serve both the town and the larger region — and keeping tourists in town for a longer stay, spreading the wealth, if you will.

“With all that traffic that comes to Yankee Candle, and now they’ll be filling up at Cumberland Farms — they’ll pull out onto Elm Street and look left or right,” said McDaniel, imaging a scenario from down the road, literally as well as figuratively. “We want them to take that look and say, ‘what’s downtown? Let’s go take a look.’”

There are other items on what could be called a ‘wish list,’ said McDaniel, including much-needed improvements to the town’s sewer system, built in the ’70s and currently serving only a small percentage of the population, but finding the funding for such an endeavor will be a real challenge.

“We’re in the midst of trying to figure out what’s needed, how much it’s going to cost, and who’s going to pay for it,” he explained. “That’s a big topic we’ve been studying for the past 16 months or so; it’s hard to figure out what to do. There’s not a big base of users, and there’s huge expense involved.”

Scents and Sensibility

The more immediate goal is to undertake those improvements to Elm Street and, hopefully see those public investments inspire private investments in the form of new businesses and additional residential projects.

As Foxmyn noted, Deerfield has the location — and the potential — to become an important hub serving two neighboring but very different counties.

This community is already much more than a tourist town, she explained, but it wants to make that abundantly clear to everyone who might come for a visit.

George O’Brien can be reached at [email protected]

Daily News

HOLYOKE — Meyers Brothers Kalicka, P.C. announced the promotions of Chelsea Cox, Lyudmila Renkas, Joseph LeMay, Dan Eger, and Francine Murphy.

Cox began as an intern at MBK in 2015 and became a full-time associate the following year. In her new position as senior associate in the Accounting and Audit Department, her primary focus is on nonprofit and commercial audits and employee-benefit plans. She holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Westfield State University and is currently pursuing her master of accountancy degree at Bay Path University. She is a member of the Massachusetts Society of Certified Public Accountants and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

Over the past two years at MBK, Renkas has served as an associate accountant in the Audit and Accounting department at MBK. Having recently completed her MSA, she will turn her attention to new responsibilities as a senior associate. In her new role, she will be responsible for planning and leading client audit engagements, internal control evaluations, and pension audits. In addition, she prepares individual, partnership, and corporate tax returns for clients in the real-estate, construction, healthcare, and nonprofit industries. She holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Elms College and a master of acountancy degree from Westfield State University.

Lemay joined MBK in January of 2015 as an associate. In his new role as senior associate, his responsibilities consist of being the lead accountant on review and compilation-level engagements, staff training, and tax-planning strategy for clients in the manufacturing, healthcare, hospitality, and distribution industries. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business, with a concentration in accounting, from Westfield State University, and received his master of accountancy degree there in 2015. He obtained his CPA license in 2017 and is a member of the Massachusetts Society of Certified Public Accountants and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

Eger, who has been with MBK since 2005, has been promoted to senior associate. He focuses on preparing federal and state income-tax forms for corporations, individuals, and nonprofits. He has more than 12 years of tax experience and brings a wealth of knowledge to his role. In addition to serving as a tax preparer, he has developed an expertise in the firm’s specialized tax software, servicing as a resource to the entire Tax Department. Eger holds a bachelor’s degree in accountancy from American International College, where he graduated as a member of the Alpha Sigma Lambda Honor Society.

Murphy, who has served as a paraprofessional in MBK’s Accounting Department since 2013, has been promoted to tax associate. In that new role, her responsibilities include preparing federal and state income-tax forms for corporations, individuals, and nonprofits; preparing city and town tax filings; preparing annual reports; and responding to IRS notices. She holds an associate degree in accounting from Holyoke Community College.

“My partners and I are deeply proud of this group,” said MBK Managing Partner James Barrett. “We have a standing commitment to the next generation here at MBK, and to see such a talented and vital group of young accountants develop and thrive in our firm is not only encouraging, but a testament to the future. Chelsea, Mila, Joseph, Francine, and Dan each offer distinct qualities to warrant their individual promotions, but what they have in common as a group is a strong work ethic, a positive attitude, strong leadership qualities, and dedication to adding value to our clients and the firm as a whole.”