Home 2010
Success in His Chosen Field Was No Accident

Rick Recor, owner, Rick’s Auto Body

Rick Recor, owner, Rick’s Auto Body

Rick Recor was recalling his early days as an entrepreneur, more than 35 years ago, when he hung out his shingle in the highly competitive world of auto-body work.
When asked if that venture, like the current operation on Pasco Road, put his first name over the door, he had to pause and think.
“You know … it was so long ago, I don’t even remember,” he told BusinessWest. “It must have, because I don’t recall ever naming it anything else. But when I look back, I don’t think it even had a name; I was doing almost exclusively wholesale at the time.”
So you might say that both Recor and his operation have made names for themselves in this business — and well outside it — over the past four decades. Indeed, by most standards, Rick’s has become one of the more well-known and established brands in the region, an accomplishment made possible by everything from heavy repeat business to a highly orchestrated billboard campaign that continues today, although on a much smaller scale than 10 years ago.
And now, as then, Recor is heavily involved with even the most minute of details involving all facets of this business, something he believes casual observers of his enterprise probably don’t know or understand.
“I’m not out on some island like Tahiti, which is what some people think,” he said. “I’m out there [in the shop] on production, every day. I look at every car before it goes off for delivery, and I look at it during the repair process, as well. I’m in here six days a week, and working hard; I have to — that’s the nature of this business.”
From very humble beginnings — a business with no name and just a few customers — Recor has grown his venture into one of the largest of its kind in the region, one with 40 employees, and maybe 100 cars in the shop at any given time. Rick’s will handle more than 3,000 jobs in a typical year.
Much has changed since those early days. “When I first started, it took two people to take a bumper off a car. That’s how much one weighed, maybe 200 or 300 pounds — they were all chrome; now, you can do it with one finger because everything is so light for fuel economy,” Ricor noted, citing just one example.
But the basics haven’t changed, he continued, listing solid customer service, attention to detail, and the need to generate business volume as just some of the things in that category.
For this, the latest installment in its Profiles in Business series, BusinessWest chronicles the winding road Recor took to this point in his life and career, and in the process gets a crash course in the auto-body business.

Scratching the Surface
As he talked about the ins and outs of his chosen field, Recor made repeated reference to a red Corvette parked in the back corner of the huge garage. Much of the front end had had been stripped off, and the hood was gone, revealing the powerful engine.
“The ‘BP’ written on the windshield stands for ‘blueprint,’” said Recor, referring to the battle plan for returning the car to its pre-mishap condition and the name of the technician who will carry it out — written next to those two letters. The BP follows the disassembly, or tear down, of the damaged portions of a vehicle, a process followed by the cataloguing, ordering, and checking of replacement parts, sequential steps that are carried out methodically to avoid having to do things twice, a very high priority given the low margins shop owners work under in this state (more on that later).
Recor said he gets involved in each of these steps and others that follow, including paint-shop work and final inspection before the car goes back to its owner, a regimen he describes as “orchestrating” each and every job that comes into the shop, including the longest and most expensive project to date — repairs to a Mercedes that totaled $68,000.
“There were more than 300 parts involved with that one job, when you count every nut and clip,” he said, adding that he inspected every step in that endeavor, as he has with every job, right down to a simple fender replacement.
Aside from the six months he was being treated for and recovering from throat cancer in 2005, this is the way it’s been for Recor since he first entered the world of auto body work after dropping out of high school in the early ’70s.
He started with sanding and taping duties for Boston Road Motors in Springfield, for which his father sold used cars. Later, he went to work for Central Chevrolet in West Springfield, where he painted cars and started the progression from employee to employer.
“I mentioned to (owner) Floyd Voke that I could paint a lot more cars if I had some people helping me,” he recalled. “He said that, if I split the ticket, split the compensation, I could hire people. So I did, I hired two people. They prepped the cars and I painted them, and I worked til 10 o’clock at night.”
After painting cars for a few other area dealers, he decided, in 1974, that it was time to go into business for himself.
He set up shop in a one-car garage behind Millie’s Pierogi on Broadway Street in Chicopee, and started doing work for a few auto dealers in the area.
He steadily added customers and, with his name now on the signs and work orders, grew the business into progressively larger garages. In 1997, he moved into a 40,000-square-foot facility on Pasco Road that was formerly home to Grossman’s Lumber. There, he now manages a truly family business.
Indeed, his wife, Mari Tarpinian, a long-time travel-bureau employee who was downsized when that industry shrank, joined Rick’s several years ago. She’s responsible for marketing and human resources, and handled most all of the myriad logistics, including the rugged permitting process, involved with getting the new digital sign now outside the business up and running.
Meanwhile, Recor’s sister-in-law, Susan, is the office manager, and his father-in-law, Leo, now in his 80s, picks up and drops off customers and “chases parts,” among other duties.
Not officially family members, but certainly critical to the organization, are the 40 or so other employees, said Recor, noting that many have been with him for two decades or more.

Framework for Success
As he gave BusinessWest a tour of the many departments within the sprawling shop, Recor would occasionally stop at a car, reach in an open window, pull the work order off the dashboard, and point to the line at the bottom of the page where it lists who referred the customer in question.
In each case, and not coincidentally — remember, he knows practically everything about each car in the garage — the words ‘return customer’ were stamped onto that line.
“Repeat business is very important in this field,” he explained while reaching into another window. “We have to generate volume, and to do that, we have to give people reasons to come back, not look somewhere else the next time.”
Elaborating, Recor said that he and all other players in this sector are continually challenged by the hourly rates that insurance companies are willing to pay for work done. Those rates average perhaps $37 per hour, he continued, and with the highly skilled workers he employs and his considerable overhead, there is literally no margin for error.
“We’re working with the lowest labor rate in the country, which makes it very hard to make a profit,” he explained. “To be profitable you have to be as efficient as possible, and you need to be as thorough as possible, because there’s no time to do anything twice.”
While discussing his business and how he handles its many challenges, Recor had to clear his throat often, and took repeated hits off a bottle of water. The dryness is one of the lingering effects of his throat cancer; another was the loss of roughly half his hearing.
He described his course of treatment and recovery as the most difficult time of his career, when he was left with no choice but to relinquish his orchestration duties and let someone else supervise the shop.
“It was hard, but you seem to forget about work when your health is an issue,” he explained. “It just not that important anymore.”
These days, work is paramount again, and, as always, Recor is singularly focused on the 60 or 70 cars that are in his shop and in various stages of repair. He said he enjoys riding his motorcycle when the weather allows, and likes to get away to New York City with Mari. But his first love appears to be his orchestrating at the shop. Which is good, because he’s at it maybe 60 hours a week.
“The best part of my job is that I still love what I do, and to me, that’s everything,” he said. “I’m usually one of the first people here, and I’m the last one to leave. I like it that way.”
Now 58, Recor said that while at various points in his career he thought about possibly expanding and opening multiple locations, he is content with his one shop.
“It’s too late in the game for me now; it’s always been my dream to be where I’m at, but it just took too long to get there,” he said, adding that the logistical difficulties of major expansion, as well as the problems he would have finding enough qualified help, have stifled those ambitions.
But looking back over 35 years, he can say that he’s certainly enjoyed this ride, and there are many miles still to travel.

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

Sections Supplements
Why Blocking Employee Access to Social Media Won’t Work

Christine Pilch

Christine Pilch

Many employers are fearful of opening up Pandora’s box and allowing employees access to social sites that may cause a distraction and reduce productivity. Well, if your employees carry cell phones, most of them already have access right in their pockets or purses, so your effort to block access is defeated before you even implement it.
Employers should try to understand that, first and foremost, social-media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, and blogs are communication tools. They offer your company a channel to listen, monitor, and engage with customers like never before. They open new sales outlets by introducing your product or service to an expanded group of prospects, and they help to build relationships by creating a human voice and face for your company by empowering employees to listen, care, and resolve issues.
There is a potential dark side, though. Companies risk employees conducting themselves unprofessionally, antagonizing irritable customers, and distributing incorrect information, which may damage your brand. In addition, you may fear that you’re actually providing your employees with toys to play with all day long instead of doing ‘real work.’
So how can an employer cash in on the tremendous potential benefits of social media while mitigating risk? Here are a few suggestions:

Monitor Brand Chatter
The conversations about your product or service are happening on social media whether or not you’re listening, so isn’t it better to know what people are saying about you? This gives you the opportunity to thank loyal customers for their praise, as well as solve problems that often turn unhappy customers into publicly satisfied ones. Ignoring social-media channels is essentially overlooking customer feedback.

Engage in the Conversation
Can you really afford to block access to any place where people are talking about your company? When employees use these communications tools, they ultimately bump into these conversations, whether deliberately or accidentally. This opens up an expanded, albeit perhaps informal brand-monitoring and customer-service channel.

Don’t Worry About Lost Productivity
Do your employees work exclusively 9 to 5, or do they regularly stay late, take work home, and read e-mail off-site? If your employees have the dedication to work outside the traditional box, your concerns about allowing them to check their Facebook page or watch a YouTube video at the office seem a little misdirected.
Remember that social media is a communication channel, and people typically utilize the path of least resistance when reaching out to a company, so social media makes it easy to get to the right person within an organization very quickly. Also, people are migrating to social media to share resources and problem solve, so if you block access, you’re preventing your employees from accessing people who can offer solutions and keeping them at the mercy of time-consuming, paid phone tech support.

Provide Guidelines and Trust Your Employees
Guide your employees in the appropriate use of social media. Remind them that they are representing your company and to refrain from negativity, profanity, and augmentative or confrontational conduct. Encourage them to listen to the chatter and not to be afraid to disclose their identities. Social media is about building relationships, and people don’t build relationships with companies, they build them with people.
You have to trust your employees, and the best way to guide social media efforts is to provide suggestions about how they can help you. Encourage them to report any negativity they bump into, or encourage them to jump in and offer to connect the customer with someone within your organization who can help. This can effectively turn your entire organization into a customer-service team.

The Viral Epidemic
The beauty of social media is that information often spreads virally. Consider the instant celebrity of Susan Boyle from Britain’s Got Talent. Her audition earned her a soft spot across the globe almost overnight because the YouTube video was shared repeatedly across social-media channels. What did that do to viewership? Although few products or services can expect to gain that level of overnight notoriety, people’s choices are affected daily by recommendations made via social-media channels.
People like to share ideas and make recommendations. That’s how things go viral online, and social media provides an ideal vehicle because it’s so easy to share information. If your company is there, you can participate and respond.
Business is done, referrals are made, problems are solved, and chatter about brands happens every day on social media. If you block access, you’re missing out on amazing opportunities to develop relationships with potential customers, those who need help with your products, and people who are your best advocates. Worst of all, you’re handing potential business to your competition if they’re making it easier for customers to communicate than you are. Can you afford that? n

Christine Pilch is a partner with Grow My Company and a social-media marketing strategist. She trains clients to utilize LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, blogging, and other social-media tools to grow their businesses, and she collaborates with professional service firms to get results through innovative positioning and branding strategies; (413) 537-2474; linkedin.com/in/christinepilch; facebook.com/
growmycompany; twitter.com/christinepilch;
youtube/user/christinepilch; growmyco.com

Briefcase Departments

Smith & Wesson to Add 225 Jobs in Springfield; Net Sales Rise Slightly
SPRINGFIELD — In the third quarter, Smith & Wesson made the strategic decision to relocate its Thompson/Center Arms operations from Rochester, N.H. to the company’s facility here. Approximately 225 jobs are expected to be added to the local economy with the Rochester relocation initiative. This relocation is designed to provide the company with increased operational efficiencies through the optimization of the company’s manufacturing footprint and increased synergies generated in fixed, marketing, and administrative costs. The bulk of the $9 million of estimated cash outlays associated with the relocation will occur in the second half of fiscal 2011, and those outlays are expected to be recovered in approximately 24 months. The relocation is scheduled to commence in January and conclude by November 2011. In other news, Smith & Wesson Holding Corp. recently announced that total net sales of $96.3 million for the second quarter decreased $13.4 million, or 12.2%, from net sales of $109.7 million for the comparable quarter last year. Indications are that the consumer firearm market has moderated further following the significant increase that started in the company’s third quarter of fiscal 2009. In the second fiscal quarter of this year, sales in all handgun and tactical rifle product lines, except premium products, were flat or lower than in the prior year quarter due to a more competitive environment and a trend toward more value-oriented products. Hunting products were the exception and increased 26.3% over the prior year’s comparable quarter on improved sales of black-powder products and the company’s new bolt-action rifles.

AIM Index Off in November, Retains Most Gains
BOSTON — The Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM) Business Confidence Index lost 3.2 points in November to 52.1, but held on to most of the gains from its record 7.7-point rise in October. The sub-indices based on selected questions or respondent characteristics all lost ground in November, though most gave back less than half of their October gains. The current index of conditions prevailing at the time of the survey was off 2.6 points at 50.6, while the future index of expected conditions six months ahead dropped 3.5 to 53.5. Andre Mayer Sr., vice president of communications and research for AIM, noted that employers are disappointed by the pace of recovery and are aware of considerable risk in the economy, but see conditions slowly improving and expect improvement to continue over the next six months. The Massachusetts Index of business conditions prevailing within the Commonwealth fell 2.6 points to 47.5, remaining above the U.S. Index of national conditions, which lost 5.8 (after a 12.3-point gain in October) to 43.0. On the year, the state indicator was up 9.0, its national counterpart up 6.3. Mayer added that survey respondents have rated the state’s economic climate better than the nation’s through this downturn and recovery. The monthly Business Confidence Index is based on a survey of AIM member-companies across Massachusetts, asking questions about current and prospective business conditions in the state and nation, as well as for respondents’ own operations. On the index’s 100-point scale, a reading above 50 indicates that the state’s employer community is predominantly optimistic, while a reading below 50 indicates a negative assessment of business conditions.

UMass Trustee Chairman Steps Down
AMHERST — University of Massachusetts Board of Trustees Chairman Robert J. Manning stepped down as the leader of the 22-person UMass governance board on Dec. 8, saying it would be beneficial for the university to have new leadership as it enters a period of transition. Manning noted in a statement that the university is “embarking on a transition phase” that is significant to UMass, and as his term winds down at the end of this academic year, he cannot sign up for another five years. Manning, who has served as chairman of the board for three years, noted of his tenure, “it’s been a remarkable experience for me.” Manning added that he was stepping down from the chairmanship and from the board effective immediately. Gov. Deval Patrick will appoint the next chairman, according to Manning.

Poll: Strong Support for Resort Casino
PALMER — A recent public-opinion poll commissioned by Northeast Realty Associates and conducted by Market Street Research of Northampton shows overwhelming support for the establishment of a resort-style casino destination on acreage across from the Mass. Turnpike entrance on Route 32. The survey, conducted in mid-November, indicates 64.8% of Palmer residents support the development of a resort-style casino on land owned by Northeast Realty, while 30.3% are opposed with 4.9% undecided. Mohegan Sun currently holds a 99-year ground lease with Northeast to develop the property into a destination resort casino should gaming become legalized in Massachusetts. Earlier this year, the state House and Senate passed legislation calling for three resort casinos in the state, stipulating one of the venues for Western Mass. While final agreement on the legislation is stalled, Gov. Deval Patrick has consistently supported the development of three resort-style gaming venues, including a Western Mass. destination.

Spalding Hoophall Classic Teams Named
SPRINGFIELD — Springfield College’s Blake Arena will be setting for the 10th annual Spalding Hoophall Classic Jan. 14-17, representing 46 teams from 17 states. The nation’s premier high school event will showcase its strongest field in its history with elite matchups including Dallas Lincoln High School (Dallas, TX) vs. Findlay College Prep (Henderson, NV), Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, VA) vs. Milton High School (Milton, GA), and St. Patrick High School (Elizabeth, NJ) vs. Bishop Gorman High School (Las Vegas, NV). Numerous games from the 2011 Spalding Hoophall Classic will be televised nationally. Other programs scheduled to participate include DeMatha Catholic High School (Hyattsville, MD), Christ the King High School (Middle Village, NY), St. Thomas More School (Oakdale, CT), and St. Anthony High School (Jersey City, NJ), coached by Bob Hurley, Sr., who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in August. The 2011 event continues its tradition of talented players by featuring more than 20 of the ESPNU’s Top 100 in the class of 2011.

Departments Picture This

Send photos with a caption and contact information to: ‘Picture This’
c/o BusinessWest Magazine, 1441 Main Street, Springfield, MA 01103
or to [email protected]

Art & Soles
Picture This 1Organizers of the Art & Soles project, which brought colorful, five-foot-high sneakers to downtown Springfield, staged the official gallery opening for the celebrated footwear on Dec. 13 at 1351 Main St. Many of the artists were in attendance, as well as project coordinators and friends of the arts. At left, Evan Plotkin, president of NAI Plotkin, and Maryann Lombardi, director of Creative Economy at UMass Amherst and a program organizer, admire the works of art. Picture this 2Below left, Nancy Urbschat, left, owner of TSM Design and a project organizer, admires some of the sneakers along with Sue Bader, a life insurance consultant with Epstein Financial. Picture This 3Below, artist Misha Epstein with her sneaker, a tribute to the historic homes in the McKnight section of Springfield. A resident of that area, she called her sneaker “In My Neighborhood,” and along the bottom, the word ‘home’ appears in 23 languages.

After 5
Picture 4The Affiliated Chambers of Commerce of Greater Springfield staged their annual holiday After 5 event in Tower Square on Dec. 8. The event was held outside the Festival of Trees, giving attendees a chance to see this year’s collection and enter the raffle to win one of the dozens of entries. Picture 5Far left, a visitor admires one of the trees. At left, Courtney Merrill greets visitors to the booth of Robert Charles Photography, one of the event’s sponsors.

Company Notebook Departments

International EC Acquires MacDuffie School
SPRINGFIELD — Representatives of the MacDuffie School recently announced the planned sale of all school operations, not including the school’s city real estate, to International EC LLC, the group that acquired the former St. Hyacinth seminary campus in Granby in June. International EC is establishing an independent school in Granby and will absorb MacDuffie’s curriculum, corporate identity, intellectual property, furnishings, computers and business equipment, and faculty as it establishes a school serving grades 6 through 12 beginning next fall. The school, currently in its 120th year of operation, will continue as a day and boarding school. Massachusetts attorney-general approval is needed since the sale involves a nonprofit entity, the MacDuffie School, being acquired by a privately held company. Michael A. Serafino, chairman of MacDuffie’s Board of Trustees, noted in a statement that the acquisition “represents an exciting new chapter in MacDuffie’s history, offering the student body a larger campus with enhanced classroom space, outstanding boarding facilities, state-of-the-art technology, and athletic fields in a college-preparatory environment with high academic standards.” Serafino added that, in the highly competitive academic marketplace for private middle and secondary schools, “this move represents a chance to expand and promote the MacDuffie mission in a way that our current location, with space and infrastructure limitations, would not allow.” The sale of assets does not include the campus on Ames Hill Drive, and a workgroup has been established to ensure that the campus is maintained and secured after the school’s operations move to Granby. Efforts to prepare the campus for sale have started, according to Serafino. International EC, LLC has three managing partners — Craig Brewer, who currently oversees a large private high-school program for international students in the U.S.; Wayne Brewer, who is currently the CEO of International Student Exchange, and Dal Swain, the owner and president of FLS, which has a network of ESL schools for foreign students.

More Than 3,700 Sack Hunger at Big Y
SPRINGFIELD — In a chain-wide effort to help the hungry within their local communities, all Big Ys have initiated this year’s Sack Hunger program. The program consists of a large, green, reusable grocery bag filled with staple non-perishable food items selected by the food banks. Customers purchase a pre-assembled bag for $10, and Big Y then distributes the bags to that region’s local food bank. In turn, the food banks distribute the filled sacks to area soup kitchens, food pantries, senior food programs, day-care centers, as well as many of their other member agencies. All of the donated sacks will be distributed within the supermarket’s marketing area, so every donation stays within the local community. The Sack Hunger Campaign began Nov. 8 and will run through the rest of this year. So far, almost 4,000 bags have been sold. All five food banks within Big Y’s marketing area will be participating in Sack Hunger. These food banks represent more than 2,100 member agencies throughout the region. They are the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, the Greater Boston Food Bank, the Worcester County Food Bank, Foodshare of Greater Hartford, and the Connecticut Food Bank. The sacks include the following non-perishable Big Y items: corn flakes, long-grain rice, elbow macaroni, kidney beans, peanut butter, cut green beans, sweet peas, whole kernel corn, chunk light tuna, and quick oats. Sacks are available at all Big Y Supermarkets and Fresh Acres. Big Y hopes to provide at least 5,000 bags to area food programs by the end of the program.

WMECo Starts Construction on Reliability Project
SPRINGFIELD — Western Massachusetts Electric Company (WMECo) recently broke ground for the Greater Springfield Reliability Project, a $795 million transmission upgrade designed to strengthen the region’s power grid, meet mandatory reliability standards, and allow power to move more freely around the Greater Springfield and North-Central Conn. area. Construction on the project has started at the new Cadwell Switching Station in Springfield and at the existing Agawam Substation. Construction of the overhead transmission line in Massachusetts is expected to begin on existing rights of way in early 2011. The creation of approximately 1,000 jobs is anticipated at the peak of construction, while adding about $11 million in much-needed tax revenues to towns along the project route. The project includes work along 39 miles of an existing transmission right of way between Ludlow and Bloomfield, Conn. The 27-mile portion in Massachusetts includes new 345-kilovolt (kV) transmission lines, new and reconstructed 115-kV lines, two new switching stations, and several substation upgrades. In Connecticut, construction is expected to begin with a substation upgrade in Bloomfield in mid-2011, and construction of the overhead line is expected to begin in late 2011. The project is expected to be in service in 2013. For more information about the initiative, visit www.neewsprojects.com

LENOX Earns OSHA ‘Star’
EAST LONGMEADOW — LENOX has been recertified for an additional five years in the prestigious ‘Star’ Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) of the U.S. Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). LENOX has maintained this elite health-and-safety certification for more than 10 years. OSHA’s verification for the Star certification includes an application review and a rigorous on-site evaluation by a team of OSHA safety and health experts. In 1997, LENOX became the first cutting-tool company in the country to receive this honor. Since then, LENOX has earned recertification in 2000, 2005, and now in 2010. Sites that make the grade must submit annual self-evaluations and undergo periodic onsite re-evaluations to remain in the programs. The plant, which employs 720 workers, manufactures power-tool accessories and blades including band-saw blades, hack saws, hole saws, utility knives, and reciprocating saw blades. The VPP promotes effective worksite-based safety and health, according to Mike Avery, director of safety and security for LENOX.

Langone’s Florist Opens at Tower Square
SPRINGFIELD — Brent Bertelli, owner of Langone’s Florist, recently signed a lease to take the former Longmeadow Flowers space located on the street level of Tower Square. This new endeavor is the second Langone’s Florist operation. The original store, located at 838 Main St., has been family-owned and operated since 1967. Bertelli said he hopes to expand the business and offer more products and services to the downtown clientele through the new location. Langone’s Florist offers custom florals, tropical plants, silk arrangements, seasonal décor, and a diverse collection of gifts.

Fallon Supports
Hunger-relief Programs
WORCESTER — Fallon Community Health Plan recently distributed more than $170,000 to dozens of designated food pantries and hunger-relief programs throughout Massachusetts. The donations represent the total net proceeds from its annual fund-raising event in September. This year’s record-breaking result is due to the participation of 96 organizations that generously contributed to the effort. Organizations specifically recognized for their donations include Booz & Co., CVS Caremark, the Revere Group, Epstein Becker & Green, Fallon Clinic, Acton Medical Associates, Beacon Health Strategies, Income Research & Management, and Protector Group. Fallon will support the following regional hunger-relief programs: Alliance to Develop Power, Springfield; Amherst Survival Center; Berkshire Community Action Council, Pittsfield; Christian Pentecostal Church, Holyoke; Elder Services of Berkshire County Inc., Pittsfield; Gandara Mental Health Center, West Springfield; Jubilee Cupboard, Ware; Lorraine’s Soup Kitchen & Pantry, Chicopee; Open Pantry Community Services Inc., Springfield; Providence Ministries for the Needy Inc., Holyoke; Western MA Labor Action, Pittsfield; and the Westfield Food Pantry. Founded in 1977, Fallon is a national, not-for-profit health-care-services organization.

Baystate Rug and Flooring Receives Honor
CHICOPEE — Baystate Rug and Flooring was recently awarded the honor of being Mohawk Industries’ North American Flooring Store of the Year. Mohawk Industries awarded the firm the prestigious award based on criteria including sales, growth, marketing techniques, product knowledge, community service, and best practices. Baystate Rug competed regionally, winning the title of Northeast Flooring Store of the Year, before winning the national championship for all of Canada and the U.S. Joseph Montemagni, president of Baystate Rug, noted that, in order to qualify, “Mohawk evaluated our store’s business practices, our employees’ training, their product knowledge, and reviewed our commitment and involvement in our community.” Baystate Rug is a family-owned flooring company that specializes in retail and commercial flooring, installation, and decorating services. A diversified product selection includes carpet, ceramics, hardwoods, resilient, laminate, green flooring products, area rugs, and window treatments.

Bradley’s Paradies Shops Receive Awards
WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. — Bradley International Airport’s prime retailer, the Paradies Shops, was recently honored with several awards recognizing its top-performing managers and first-class associates at the company’s annual management seminar and vendor show in Georgia. The seminar celebrates the accomplishments of managers and both customer-facing and support-level associates who exemplify the company’s mission statement “to exceed the expectations of the customers and business partners we serve.” The Paradies Shops has operated at Bradley for almost 25 years, serves 78,000 customers per month, and runs six retail stores at the airport. Its team at Bradley, led by General Manager Deb Donahue, received numerous awards, including Best Customer Service, Best 401(k) Participation, and the coveted Public Relations Award. These honors are considered qualifying awards and are the basis for the revered awards that recognize the best of the best within the company. Taking home the top honors as one of four Executives of the Year was Judy Heit, a regional merchandise planner based at Bradley. Additionally, Patty Tucker, also of Bradley International, was selected as one of three Assistant Managers of the Year. The Paradies Shops, a family business established in 1960, operates more than 500 stores in more than 70 markets across the U.S. and Canada.

10 Points Departments

You generally must include taxable fringe benefits in an employee’s gross income. Most are subject to income-tax withholding and employment taxes. Here are some of these taxable items to include:
1. Personal use of auto. The value of an employee’s personal use of a company-provided auto should be included as income. There are IRS guidelines to determine the amount of this calculation.
2. Value of life insurance if over $50,000. To the extent that the benefit of the life insurance exceeds $50,000, an amount as determined by IRS tables is a taxable fringe benefit.
3. Memberships in country club dues or other social clubs. If these payments are strictly for personal use by the employee, they are a taxable fringe.
4. Tickets to entertainment or sporting events. The value of the tickets for personal use should be included as taxable to the employee.
5. Discounts on property or services. The taxable portion is the extent to which the discount exceeds the cost of the product (or more than 20% of the price for services charged to customers.)
However, some fringe benefits are not taxable (or are minimally taxable) if certain conditions are met. Some of these items are as follows:
6. Services provided to your employees at no additional cost to you.
7. Certain minimal fringes, including an occasional cab ride if an employee must work overtime, or meals that you provide at eating places that you run for your employees if the meals are not furnished at below cost.
8. Qualified transportation fringes. These are subject to special conditions and dollar limitations, including transportation in a commuter highway vehicle.
9. Qualified moving-expense reimbursements. Reimbursed and employer-paid qualified moving expenses paid under an accountable plan are not includible in an employee’s W-2.
10. Use of on-premisis athletic facilities. If substantially all of the use is by employees, their spouses, or their dependents, this is not a taxable fringe benefit.
You should contact your tax advisor to determine the value of the taxable items to include, or to determine whether or not certain items are taxable.

Cheryl Fitzgerald

Cheryl Fitzgerald

Cheryl Fitzgerald is a senior tax manager with the certified public accounting firm of Meyers Brothers Kalicka, P.C., in Holyoke; (413) 536-8510.

Chamber Corners Departments

Affiliated Chambers of Commerce of Greater Springfield
(413) 787-1555
n Jan. 5: [email protected], 7:15 to 9 a.m., Sheraton Springfield. Cost: members $20, non-members $30. For reservations, contact Diane Swanson, ACCGS events manager, at (413) 787-1555 or [email protected]
n Jan. 19: Professional Women’s Chamber 13th Annual Business Expo, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Max’s Tavern, MassMutual Room. Cost, Table Top: members $60, non-members  $90 (includes one lunch ticket). Cost, lunch only: members $25, non-members $35. For reservations, contact Lynn Johnson PWC liaison, at (413) 755-1310 or [email protected]
n Jan. 22: West of the River Chamber of Commerce Night at the Falcons, 7:30 p.m., MassMutual Center. Cost: $10. For reservations, call Chris Thompson at (413) 739-3344 ext. 109. 
Young Professional Society of Greater Springfield
n Jan. 20: Third Thursday, 5 to 8 p.m., Panana’s Restaurant, Agawam. Cost: free for members, non-members $10. Includes food and cash bar.
Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce
See the chamber’s Web site for information on upcoming events.
Chicopee Chamber of Commerce
(413) 594-2101
n Jan. 19: Salute Breakfast, 7:15 to 9 a.m., MassMutual Learning & Conference Center, 350 Memorial Dr., Chicopee. Cost: members $18, non-members $25. For tickets, call the chamber at (413) 594-2101 or purchase online at www.chicopeechamber.org

Franklin County Chamber of Commerce
(413) 773-5463
 See the chamber’s Web site for information on upcoming events.
Greater Easthampton Chamber of Commerce
(413) 527-9414
n Jan. 13: Networking By Night Business Card Exchange, 5 to 7 p.m., hosted and sponsored by Harley-Davidson of Southampton, 17 College Highway, Southampton. Co-sponsor: Puffer Printing & Copy Center. Door prizes, hors d’ouevres, host bar. Cost: members $5, non-members $15.
n Jan. 27: Greater Easthampton Chamber of Commerce Annual Meeting and 50th Anniversary Dinner, 5 p.m., the Delaney House, 500 Country Club Road, Holyoke. Cranberry chicken and halibut combo luncheon. Cost: members $29.95, non-members $32.95. 
Greater Holyoke Chamber of Commerce
(413) 534-3376
n Jan. 12: Winner Circle, 5 to 7 p.m., Yankee Pedlar, 1866 Northampton St., Holyoke. Sponsored by Holyoke Medical Center; Dowd Insurance; Resnic, Beauregard, Waite & Driscoll; PeoplesBank; Holyoke Community College; and Universal Plastics. 
n Jan. 19: Chamber After Hours, 5 to 7 p.m., hosted and sponsored by Homewood Suites, 375 Whitney Ave., Holyoke. Cost: members $5, non-members $10 cash. 
n Jan. 25: Computer Security Seminar, 8 to 11 a.m., Mass Mutual Conference Center, Chicopee
Greater Northampton Chamber of Commerce
(413) 584-1900
n Jan. 12: January Arrive @ 5, 5 to 7 p.m., Volkswagen of Northampton, 968 Bridge Road, Northampton. Cost: $10 for members.
Northampton Area Young Professional Society
(413) 584-1900
n Jan. 30: Bowl with a Purpose, 12 to 2 p.m., Spare Time, 525 Pleasant St., Northampton. Charity fund-raiser. Teams of four to six players. Registrants can register as a team or be placed on a team. Cost: $20 pre-registered, $25 at the door. Includes unlimited bowling during the event, shoe rental, pizza, and soda. For registration information, visit www.thenayp.com
Quaboag Hills Chamber of Commerce
(413) 283-2418
See the chamber’s Web site for information on upcoming events.
South Hadley/Granby Chamber of Commerce
(413) 532-6451
n Jan. 25: President’s Dinner, cocktails at 5:30 p.m., dinner at 6:30 p. m., Willitts-Hallowell Center, Mount Holyoke College. Sponsors: premier members. Special guest speakers: TBD. Annual business meeting. Cost: $37. Check must be received by Jan. 21.
Three Rivers Chamber of Commerce
See the chamber’s Web site for information on upcoming events.
Greater Westfield Chamber of Commerce
(413) 568-1618
See the chamber’s Web site for information on upcoming events.

Departments People on the Move

Tighe & Bond of Westfield recently promoted Christopher Bone, a Mechanical Process and Environmental Engineer, to Associate in recognition of his exceptional performance. He joined the firm in 1999 and has more than 17 years of project-management and engineering experience in providing municipal clients with innovative solutions for complicated water and wastewater challenges.
Dan Cohn has joined CornerStone Telephone Co. as an in-market Account Executive.
Hatch Mott MacDonald of Holyoke announced that Eliezer Barbosa has joined the firm as a Designer.
Linda Syniec, CPA, has joined S. Reichelt & Co., LLC. Syniec has more than 25 years of public-accounting experience, specializing in tax services for private companies and high-net-worth individuals.
Anne Mostue has joined public radio station WFCR and WNNZ as a reporter. Mostue will be based at WFCR’s Peggy and David Starr Broadcast Center in Springfield.
Massachusetts Five Colleges Inc. announced the following:
• Herbert Bernstein, Professor of Physics at Hampshire College, Amherst, has been named a Five College 40th Anniversary Professor; and
• Debbora Battaglia, Professor of Anthropology at Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley, has been named a Five College 40th Anniversary Professor.
A 40th Anniversary Professorship is an opportunity for veteran faculty members within the five campuses to share their expertise with students at other schools. During the three years of the professorship, each faculty member receives a research stipend, teaches at least three courses on other consortium campuses, and gives a public lecture on his or her work.
Garvey Communication Associates Inc. of Springfield announced the following:

Caroline Scannell

Caroline Scannell

• Caroline Scannell has been appointed Accounts Analyst; and
Laura Chechette

Laura Chechette

• Laura Chechette has been appointed Public Relations Analyst.
Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) announced the following appointments to its Board of Trustees:
• William Dudley, Professor of Philosophy at Williams College. He has served on a range of college committees dealing with issues of educational policy, student and residential life, and diversity, and as an advisor to first-year students. He is a graduate of Williams, and earned his master’s and doctoral degrees from Northwestern University;
• Shirley Edgerton, Residential Program Director for the Department of Developmental Services of Berkshire County. In addition to this work, she is the founder of the Women of Color Giving Circle of the Berkshires, based in Pittsfield, as well as Youth Alive step dance program, which uses the arts as a vehicle to engage young women in educational and mentoring programs. She also serves as a board member for the Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Herbert Lehman College at the City University of New York, and a master of Education from MCLA; and
• Susan Gold, a member of the MCLA Foundation Board of Directors. Gold is an active community volunteer with experience and expertise in development and fund-raising who has worked with a number of organizations in Berkshire County, including Northern Berkshire Health Systems, the REACH Community Health Foundation, and Images Cinema. She serves as a trustee of the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art. She has served as a member and officer of the MCLA Foundation Board of Directors, and co-chair of the Foundation Board’s ad-hoc Fundraising Committee. She earned a bachelor’s degree from American University.
Leslie Lawrence has been named Director of Lending for the Western Massachusetts Enterprise Fund in Holyoke.
David Rittenhouse has joined McCormick-Allum as manager of the electrical contracting division.
Lisa Doherty, Co-founder, President, and CEO of Business Risk Partners of Windsor, Conn. has been named to Business Insurance magazine’s list of “Women to Watch 2010.” Working with producers nationwide and partnering with global specialty carriers, the firm underwrites and administers professional and management liability policies for more than 160 professions in businesses of all sizes. The annual “Women to Watch” issue profiles 25 women executives based on recent professional achievements, influence on the marketplace, and contributions to the advancement of women in business.
Brenda D. Cuoco was recently recognized at Coldwell Banker for being a top producer within the Western Mass.area. She ranked 86th for units sold in Massachusetts and seventh for units sold within Western Mass.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Family Services recently honored several area residents for their community work during its ninth annual business partnership breakfast in Springfield. Honorees were:
• Hampden County Sheriff Michael J. Ashe Jr.;
• George Burtch, Vice President for Global Integration-Games at Hasbro;
• Jim Goodwin, President and Chief Executive Officer of Center for Human Development; and
• Tim Sneed, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Career Development Institute.
Kristina Drzal Houghton, a Partner with Meyers Brothers Kalicka, has been named one of three “Women to Watch” in the 2010 Experienced Leader category by the Massachusetts Society of Certified Public Accountants, in partnership with the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants’ Women’s Initiatives Executive Committee. The annual awards program highlights the achievements of women in the certified public accounting profession in Massachusetts who have made significant contributions to the profession and their community, and who demonstrate leadership within their profession.
Charles Epstein, Founder of The 401(k) Coach Program, was named to Legg Mason Inc.’s Retirement Advisory Council, a new think tank comprised of 14 retirement-industry leaders. The council will convene quarterly and examine the major challenges facing retirement products, service providers, and the best practices observed by the industry. Participants on the council include 401(k) plan providers, brokerage/financial-adviser leaders, retirement-plan advisers, and independent contribution-industry experts. Legg Mason, headquartered in Maryland, is a global asset-management firm with $677 billion in assets under management as of Oct. 31, 2010.
Delania Barbee has been appointed Community Engagement Coordinator and Massachusetts Promise Fellow for the ACCESS Springfield Promise program. The program works to increase college aspirations, access, and success among city students. It also provides free financial-aid advising and scholarships to young people in Springfield.
Sean Capaloff-Jones is the new Manager of Member Outreach for the UMass-Five College Credit Union. He will be responsible for member development and maintaining positive relationships with the credit union’s sponsor groups. He will also guide the credit union’s financial literacy program and community-outreach initiatives.
Rebecca Wylde has joined radio station Rock 102 as host for the 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. shift.
William J. Noonan has been named Director of Security for the Springfield Museums.
Robert P. Ziomek has been named Director of Major and Planned Gifts at Western New England College in Springfield.
Theodora “Teddy” W. Woeppel has joined the Goodman Speakers Bureau as Director of Marketing and Communications. She will develop and implement all online and Web-based marketing efforts and strategies for the bureau. She will oversee print, direct mail, sponsorships, and special-event marketing to increase business opportunities among the company’s national client base.
The Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts announced the election of new members to its Board of Trustees:
• Amy Jamrog, Managing Director of the Jamrog Group in Northampton;
• George C. Keady III, Senior Vice President and Branch Manager of UBS Wealth Management in Springfield;
• Robert L. Pura, President of Greenfield Community College;
• Peter J. Daboul, Executive in Residence at Western New England College, Springfield, who will serve as Chairman of the foundation’s trustees; and
• Sanford A. Belden, retired President of Community Bank System, who will serve as Vice Chair.



 The following building permits were issued during the month of December 2010.


 Pioneer Valley Living Care Center
1 Spencer Dr.
$10,000 — Enclose existing balcony into new sunroom

 Peter Grandonico
41 Boltwood Walk
$3,000 — Pour new concrete floor for restaurant

 WD Cowls Inc.
116 Montague St.
$5,000 — Re-roof


 Mass Mutual
350 Memorial Dr.
$11,600 — Strip exterior wood trim and replace


 AR Sandri Inc.
400 Chapman St.
$268,000 — Construct a 48.6 KW ground-mounted photovoltaic system

 Greenfield Grille
30-44 Federal St.
$3,000 — Installation of a fire-alarm system

 Odyssey Holdings, LLC
1 Fisk Ave.
$60,000 — Replace roof

 Stoneleigh Burnham School
574 Bernardston Road
$9,750 — Re-shingle roof

 The Theodore Leonard House, LLC
116 Federal St.
$72,000 — Replace storm windows and exterior doors


 CBR Realty Corporation
195 Russell St.
$25,000 — Tenant build-out of 1,360 square feet on second floor

 Knights Inn
208 Russell St.
$21,000 — 12’-by-24’ addition


 Eric Suher
541-549 Main St.
$20,000 — Install new roof

 Thomas R. Rohan
329 Hampden St.
$16,500 — Remodel bathroom and new lights in bar area


 Baystate Gas
5 Ravenwood Dr.
$645,000 — Foundation

20-28 East St.
$12,000 — Interior renovations


 Big Y
158 North King St.
$77,000 — Construct interior walls for bathroom and office space

 Cooley Dickinson Hospital Inc.
30 Locust St.
$253,000 — Renovate central registration

 Forty Main Street Inc.
40 Main St.
$22,000 — Frame new wall for suite 206

 Millbank Place
351 Pleasant St.
$30,000 — Shingle roof

 Smith College
178 West St.
$30,000 — Rework roof eve and fascia


 T.J. Welch Inc.
622 College Highway
$35,000 — Construct spray booth for painting cars

 Town of Southwick
454 College Highway
$69,000 — Remodel auditorium stage in town hall


 Chapin Center
200 Kendall St.
$16,000 — Re-roof

 Mercy Medical Center
299 Carew St.
$99,000 — Renovation for Lifepath Partners on the ground floor

 Smith & Wesson Corporation
2100 Roosevelt Ave.
$149,000 — Renovate and create new offices

 TFO Properties, LLC
18 Prescott St.
$10,000 — Re-roof

 WMECO/Northeast Utilities
300 Cadwell St.
$49,000 — Renovate women’s restroom and shower


 Devcon Shops LLC
457 East Main St.
$71,000 — Alteration


 Pearson Daggett Development Company
46 Daggett Dr.
$49,500 — Replace existing roof

 Sullivan Associates Inc.
741 Main St.
$10,000 — Handicap ramp

 Town of West Springfield
26 Central St.
$867,000 — Replace 293 windows in the municipal office building

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