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Company Notebook

Paragus IT Acquires Applied Software Technologies

HADLEY — Paragus IT has continued its pattern of active growth with its first acquisition: West Springfield-based Applied Software Technologies. Prior to the acquisition, AST provided IT services to businesses in the region and beyond for more than 20 years. “We are very happy to welcome the staff and clients of Applied Software Technologies into the Paragus family,” said Paragus CEO Delcie Bean. “They are a great company, and we’re excited that we will be able to give their clients the opportunity to maintain their relationships with the people they know while also having access to the resources we are able to offer as the largest IT provider in Western Massachusetts.” The acquisition of AST is the latest in a strong trend of growth for Paragus. Since Bean founded the company at age 13, Paragus has grown from a one-man operation to a regional leader in business computer service, consulting, and information-technology support. Inc. Magazine has ranked Paragus as one of the fastest-growing privately held companies in the U.S. for four years running. With a 650% growth rate over seven years, Paragus is the second-fastest-growing outsourced IT firm in New England. “We have every intention of acquiring more businesses as we continue to expand our market and services, but it has to be the right deal,” Bean noted. “What matters to us is that the customers, both our current ones and the ones being acquired, are always benefited by the transaction. We refuse to compromise on quality and service. Second-best just isn’t good enough.”

Dave’s Soda and Pet City Highlighted by National Retail Federation

AGAWAM — The National Retail Federation’s ‘Retail Across America’ team recently stopped by Dave’s Soda and Pet City in Agawam to film for NRF’s Retail Across America campaign. They talked with Dave Ratner, who has been involved with the organization for many years, about his work advocating for Massachusetts retail stores on Capitol Hill. According to the NRF, Bay State retailers support 920,000 jobs, and retail contributes nearly $58 billion to the state’s economy. A film crew spoke with Dave’s employees about their jobs — their favorite part of their job, what their typical day involves, etc. The footage will be used to put together a glimpse into surprising jobs in retail. Retail Across America is part of the NRF’s award-winning “This is Retail” campaign, which brings together retailers, universities, and students with state retail associates, legislators, and opinion leaders. The NRF launched the program to highlight life-long careers, how retailers strengthen communities, and the critical role that retail plays in driving innovation. Dave’s Soda and Pet City is one of two businesses chosen to represent Western Mass. retailers on NRF’s road trip through four New England states. Dave’s Soda and Pet City is a mini-chain of seven superstores with more than 100 employees.

TommyCar Auto Group Donates Used Vehicle for Fire-rescue Training

NORTHAMPTON — Country Hyundai and Northampton Volkswagen recently provided a used vehicle to the Northampton Fire Department for rescue training. Firefighters spend countless hours training and honing their skills to ensure they are prepared for any emergency. The vehicle will be put to work in upcoming training exercises in which firefighters will utilize their extrication equipment on the vehicles, also known as the Hurst Tool or the Jaws of Life. “Ensuring firefighters have the latest training is critical to the safety of this community,” said Carla Cosenzi, president of Country Hyundai and Northampton Volkswagen, two dealerships in the TommyCar Auto Group chain. “We’re proud to be able to help in such a meaningful way, knowing so many people will ultimately benefit.” Added Bill Schuetze, captain and training officer for the Northampton Fire Department, “we really want to thank Country Hyundai and Northampton Volkswagen for the generous contribution. We will get a lot of use out of this car to train our firefighters on rescue efforts.” Country Hyundai and Northampton Volkswagen hope to have an ongoing relationship with the Northampton Fire Department and be able to offer more vehicles in the future.

Monson Savings Bank Announces New ‘Back to Banking’ Program

MONSON — As part of its ongoing efforts to improve financial literacy and capability, Monson Savings Bank (MSB) has introduced Fresh Start Checking accounts. These accounts are designed for people who might not otherwise be able to open a bank account based on their prior banking history. At the same time, MSB understands that life happens, and there are times when maintaining financial soundness may be difficult. Through the use of the Fresh Start Checking account, the “Back to Banking” program is designed to educate customers on money management, how to maintain accounts in good standing, and work toward paying off any unpaid account balances at other banks. As part of the program, free education materials are provided to customers through the National Endowment for Financial Education. The education modules include “Money Management — Control your Cash Flow,” “Borrowing — Use, Don’t Abuse,” “Earning Power — More Than a Paycheck,” Investing — Money Working for You,” “Financial Services — Care for Your Cash,” and “Insurance — Protect What You Have.” Another benefit of this program is a pay-as-you-bank option, which is designed to help customers pay down prior financial debts. With a companion savings account, funds can be set up to automatically transfer from checking to savings on a weekly, biweekly, or monthly basis. According to President and CEO Steve Lowell, “at Monson Savings Bank, we have become increasingly concerned about financial literacy and the fact that many people lack the money-management knowledge and skills they need to ensure long-term stability for themselves. Our new “Back to Banking” program is another way in which we help individuals within our communities become more financially secure.”

GZA GeoEnvironmental Awards Grant to Gardening the Community

SPRINGFIELD — GZA GeoEnvironmental Inc., a leading environmental and geotechnical engineering consulting firm, has awarded a $2,500 Shareholder’s Grant to Gardening the Community (GTC) in Springfield, based on an application from Anja Ryan Duffy, a professional landscape architect in the Springfield office of GZA. GZA bestows four roughly $2,500 grants each year to organizations whose specific programs would best benefit from the award. The Shareholder’s Grant program was established to support employee volunteerism and charity work in the firm’s communities and throughout the world. Duffy proposed Gardening the Community as a recipient of the GZA Shareholder’s Grant to assist in the development of the organization’s new Walnut Street site, a project for which she has volunteered her landscape-architecture services. Gardening the Community is a food-justice organization engaged in youth development, urban agriculture, and sustainable living to build healthy and equitable communities. In her grant application, Duffy said the Walnut Street project location is a 0.6-acre abandoned lot which “for decades has been an eyesore and served as an illegal dumping ground.” GTC purchased the site in July 2014 with the vision of transforming it into a “vibrant, green space which would also help feed the neighborhood and provide service and leadership opportunities for local youth.” The GZA Shareholder’s Grant will help fund the placement of fencing and perimeter plantings along the Walnut Street site. Duffy has been with GZA for nearly eight years. Her areas of specialization include site design, planting design, low-impact development, and graphics. A graduate of UMass Amherst with a bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture, she is an avid gardener and started a community garden in her former apartment complex.

Kingdom Master Jewelers Opens in Holyoke

HOLYOKE — Kingdom Master Jewelers, is a family-run business operated by Gabriel Serrano and Idoel Ortiz Jr., opened its doors today at 2020 Northampton St. in Holyoke. Previously a Hadley-based business since 2012, Serrano and Ortiz have become specialists in buying precious metals such as gold, diamonds, and silver, and have more tham 25 years of experience in custom-making one-of-a-kind pieces of jewelry. Kingdom Master Jewelers formally ran jewelry gallery repair shops for Kay, Hannoush, Jared, and many other jewelers in the area.

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