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Class of 2009

40 Under 40 Class of 2009

Seth Mias

Age 27: Owner and Executive Chef, Seth Mias Catering

While studying restaurant management at UMass Amherst, Seth Mias never figured he’d one day own a successful, fast-growing catering operation. He assumed he’d gradually forge a solid career in the management side of food service — which he did at first, managing the Northampton Elks Club in Florence about seven years ago.

What happened next was sort of a happy accident in moonlighting.

“They allowed me to do my own catering as well,” said Mias. “I started doing 75 to 100 parties a year — more a side job than anything else. But it took on a life of its own and grew to the point where I stopped managing the Elks and ended up doing catering full-time.”

Nowadays, Leeds-based Seth Mias Catering books about 400 parties a year — weddings, retirement parties, class reunions, corporate events, you name it. Largely by word of mouth, Mias has developed a reputation that placed him second in last year’s Best in the Valley poll in the Valley Advocate.

“It’s been a cool experience,” he said. “I’m able to meet a lot of people, network, and get involved in the community” — efforts that include donating goods and services to many community organizations.

Describing himself as a “hands-on type of guy,” Mias is involved with all facets of catering, from cooking to scheduling to meeting customers. Although he’s not trained as a chef, he’s a constant learner, picking up skills with each new challenge — like the clients who wanted a traditional Chinese buffet for their bar mitzvah.

“I enjoy the cooking most,” he said. “You’re able to learn something every day. But a close second would be meeting the clients and spending time with people. That’s the kind of person I am.”

Mias expects the business to continue growing, and why not? “It kind of started as a hobby, and it turned into a career that I didn’t expect.”

—Joseph Bednar

40 Under 40 Class of 2009

Tara Tetreault

Age 29: Co-owner and Co-founder of Jackson & Connor

Tara Tetreault says she’s flattered by comments from those who applaud her entrepreneurial spirit and her first-year success with the men’s clothing store Jackson & Connor in Northampton — especially with the economic downturn and the negative impact it’s had on all types of retail.

But she’s more proud of the feedback she’s getting for her work within the community, and how it seems to be generating momentum and more energy for causes and organizations ranging from Best Buddies to the Northampton Chamber of Commerce; from Clarke School for the Deaf to Northampton Area Young Professionals.

“I think that my actions have, in some ways, spawned other people to act,” she said. “I’ve seen it amongst my peers, with people saying, ‘I never thought to do that,’ or ‘I never thought to get involved with that.’”

Elaborating, Tetrealt said she and her partner, Candace Connors, have taken the attitude that, if they are going to do business in the Greater Northampton area, they need to be actively involved with that community.

This mindset has translated into actions ranging from hosting a Northampton Chamber ‘Arrive at 5’ event coinciding with their first anniversary in business, to active involvement with Best Buddies, a group that is committed to enhancing the lives of those with intellectual disabilities.

“It’s all about making connections,” said Tetreault, who told BusinessWest she is humbled by those who remark on her success in business to date, but is more energized by the words and actions of those who want to work beside her within the community.

“It’s nice to see other people get motivated by what we do — it gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling,” she explained. “It comes when other people decide to act in kind — to look in the mirror and see not just themselves, but also the larger picture, and how it’s not just about you, it’s about all of us being in this together and supporting each other, making it work, and making the area a better place.”

—George O’Brien


40 Under 40 Class of 2009

Maggie Bergin

Maggie Bergin Age 36: Owner, The Art of Politics

Maggie Bergin is passionate about the future and Holyoke, where she lives and has established her business, The Art of Politics, after serving in Washington, D.C. as the legislative director for the International Economic Development Council.

She was hired for that position after graduating from Smith College with a bachelor’s degree in Government and working for Congressman John W. Olver. The Grand Rapids, Mich. native decided to leave Washington to return to Western Mass., where she felt she could make a great impact working directly with area residents, agencies, and organizations.

“Information is power, and I have valuable information to give people about the political world,” she said. “I know how to move things forward and know where the levers and push points are in the political world.”

She also knows where the money is and how to get it, and is teaching her clients how to navigate political waters and get results. “I love my work and clients. It’s such a pleasure to help them.”

She also loves the urban nature of Holyoke and says it doesn’t take much to make a real difference there.

Bergin serves on the board of directors at Wistariahurst Museum. “It physically sits at an economic crossroads representing different parts of the community and is one of the city’s economic-development resources,” she said.

Bergin also helped create the Friends of Pulaski Park, a group that is working with state and environmental officials to clear the grounds between the park and the Connecticut River to make it as visible as it was during the Victorian era.

She views Wistariahurst and the park as valuable entities in the revitalization of Holyoke.

So, in many ways, Bergin’s passion is for the past, present, and future. “I look forward to helping Holyoke figure out what the next 50 years will look like,” she said.

—Kathy Mitchell

40 Under 40 Class of 2009

Marjory Moore

Age 33: Guidance Counselor, Chicopee Public Schools

Every now and then a fresh-faced kindergartner at Bowie Memorial School in Chicopee looks up to see Marjory Moore walk into the classroom with her puppets: ‘Patient Puppy,’ ‘Be Calm Bunny’ and ‘Slow Down Snail.’

The fuzzy friends are part of a program called Second Step, which Moore, a guidance counselor, uses to coach young children on how to deal with frustrating emotions that can occur in certain situations, such as two kids wanting to play with the same toy at once.

Moore is proactive in seeking out kids who need help. “I like to deliver the program in the classroom so the kids can associate me with someone who can help them solve problems,” she said. It’s just one aspect of the work she does working with kids in kindergarten through grade 5.

Moore was once a kindergarten teacher, so it’s no surprise she has a special fondness for the little ones.

“I realized when I was really young I wanted to work with kids,” said Moore, who demonstrated her organizational skills at an early age, too. “When I was 16, I started a babysitting club. I used to organize all the girls my age and matched them with families I knew.”

Moore puts her empathy, understanding, and boundless energy to work in the community as well. During the holidays, she takes time to serve food to the needy.

In addition, she recently organized a mentor program between students and military personnel at Westover Air Reserve Base, helped organize a citywide fund-raiser for Lorraine’s Soup Kitchen, and also volunteers her time to Faith in Action for the elderly.

“I’m a happy person, and I like to make other people happy,” she said. “So I want to do whatever I can to help other people out, because people have helped me.”

—Amy Castor

40 Under 40 Class of 2009

Chris Thompson

Age 29: Director of Sales & Service, Springfield Falcons Hockey Club

Chris Thompson has a large collection of hockey memorabilia in his office at the MassMutual Center, from assorted pucks and sticks to a framed copy of that famous photo of Bobby Orr flying through the air as he scored the winning goal to cap off the Boston Bruins’ dramatic charge to the Stanley Cup in 1970.

Maybe his favorite, though, is an old hard hat with the Springfield Falcons logo. It’s a leftover from a strange chapter in the team’s history — the renovation and expansion of the old Springfield Civic Center and the resulting hardships for fans. Those season-ticket holders who made a two-year commitment to the team during that trying time five years ago were made members of the so-called Hard Hat Club and given one of the collector’s items.

Thompson found one of the hats while going through some old boxes in Falcons headquarters, kept it, and gave it a place of honor in his office. He says it speaks to his general job description — “building relationships” — better than maybe any words could.

“That’s essentially what I do,” he told BusinessWest, adding that he takes what might be considered an unusual title in sports management (director of sales and service), but this line on his business card says it all. “Service is just as important, if not more important, than sales. I make sure people enjoy the overall experience.”

This service is provided to fans, sponsors, and other types of clients, said Thompson, and constitutes the ideal job for someone who loved sports while growing up, and wanted to make this field his career.

While not working for the Falcons, the energetic Thompson is involved with a number of community activities, especially the Young Professionals Society of Greater Springfield, which he serves as a board member, and the West Springfield Park and Recreation Department.

With those groups, as with the Falcons, his job is to build relationships.

—George O’Brien