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Richard Swift

Richard Swift

Dr. Ira Klein

Dr. Ira Klein

Richard Swift, who has served as Health New England’s (HNE) interim chief financial officer since April, has been appointed president and CEO, effective immediately. HNE also announced the appointment of Dr. Ira Klein to the role of vice president and chief medical officer. Swift is an experienced chief executive officer and chief financial officer for provider- owned health plans, and a senior healthcare executive with over 30 years of leadership with integrated delivery systems, health plans, and provider groups throughout the country. He has served as president of Medwise Partners, a health-insurance consulting company he founded in 1996. In that capacity, he has served in numerous interim executive roles for regional health plans throughout the U.S. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Mercer University and an MBA in healthcare administration from the University of Miami in Florida. In this new position, Klein is responsible for ensuring the quality and cost-effectiveness of healthcare services for Health New England members, and will focus on clinical excellence, innovation, and technology to improve health outcomes. Before joining Health New England, Klein served as senior director and lead, Healthcare Quality Strategy at Janssen for Johnson and Johnson Inc. in New Brunswick, N.J. Previously, he held various positions at Aetna Inc. in Hartford, Conn., including medical director, Patient Management, Northeast Region; senior medical director and analyst, National Accounts; and chief of staff and national medical director, Clinical Thought Leadership. Klein holds an MBA degree from Rutgers University’s Graduate School of Management, a doctor of medicine degree from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey – Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, and a bachelor’s degree from Rutgers University’s College of Pharmacy.

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Lt. John Vanasse

Lt. John Vanasse

American International College (AIC) recently welcomed Lt. John Vanasse to lead the campus police department. Vanasse is an employee of G4S Secure Solutions North America, a leading international security-solutions group and the provider of campus-security services for American International College for more than five years. Vanasse’s background and experience lend well to his new role at the college. Most recently, he was an instructor of Criminal Justice at Westfield High School. He has also served as a corrections officer and deputy sheriff at the Hampshire County Jail and House of Corrections. Additionally, while working in safety and security for the Springfield public schools, he managed a million-dollar budget, supervised security staff at schools throughout the district, developed safety and security training programs, and conducted investigations into major security infractions. Prior to relocating to Western Mass. 15 years ago, he was deputy director for Safety and Security at the Massachusetts State House and other state facilities throughout Government Center in Boston. Vanasse received his undergraduate degree in criminology and law from Suffolk University and a master’s degree in criminal justice from Anna Maria College.

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Michael Bartoszek

Michael Bartoszek

Aegis Energy, EDF Group, a leading provider of co-generation technology, hired experienced energy-sector professional Michael Bartoszek to the role of business development manager. Bartoszek’s hire comes during an extended period of growth; Aegis recently added 12 team members and has plans to add four more. Although new to Aegis, Michael is no stranger to the company or its affiliates, having previously held the position of regional manager for the Eastern U.S. for Citelum North America, a unit of the EDF Group. With his knowledge of EDF offerings and more than two decades of industry experience, he is well-equipped to suggest energy solutions in his current role of business development manager.

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Michael Bartoszek

Florence Bank promoted Shelley Moreau to the position of vice president, mortgage compliance specialist in the Residential Lending department at the main office in Florence. Moreau has been an employee of Florence Bank for 37 years. Prior to her recent promotion, she served as the assistant vice president, mortgage compliance specialist. She is a graduate of the American Bankers’ Assoc. Compliance School for Lending. During her tenure at the bank, she has been the recipient of the President’s Award, which is awarded to employees who demonstrate superior levels of performance, customer service, and overall contribution to the bank. Moreau serves her community as treasurer and board member of the Hilltown Community Development Corp. in Chesterfield.

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Bruce Dixon

Tech Foundry, a nonprofit with a mission to support the region’s growing need for a qualified technology workforce and elevate underrepresented groups into sustainable careers in information technology, has named Bruce Dixon its new CEO. Dixon will work alongside an 11-member board, lead a five-member staff, and drive strategic business partnerships and curriculum development to propel the already-thriving organization forward. Dixon previously served as CEO of the Connecticut Pre-Engineering Program, a social venture that inspires and prepares underrepresented students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. It’s this background that generated interest among Tech Foundry board members, but it’s his well-rounded background and personal philosophy that solidified his candidacy. Dixon is an award-winning innovator, social entrepreneur, adventurer, storyteller, and self-proclaimed “human-performance geek.” He has held a variety of leadership roles with the Hartford Financial Services Group and the Chubb group of insurance companies; was honored with numerous awards, including the Connecticut Science Center Award for Achievement in STEM Innovation and Education and Wesleyan University’s Social Entrepreneurship Award; and was invited as an honored guest to the 2014 inaugural White House Maker Faire.

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Darcy (Fortune) Young

Darcy (Fortune) Young

The Children’s Study Home recently appointed board of directors member Darcy (Fortune) Young to its executive committee. Young has been a member of the board since 2018, serving on the communications committee. She has consulted on everything from fundraising to digital marketing and, most recently, was part of the board effort to transition to a new executive director for the 155-year old agency. One of her first acts as a member of the communications committee was to film and produced a promotional video for the nonprofit agency. In the video, professionals from Baystate Orthopedic Surgery Center; PeoplesBank; Gomes, DaCruz, & Tracy P.C.; and Sullivan, Hayes & Quinn explain not only the critical impact the Children’s Study Home has on youth, but also the community. Founded in 1865, the Children’s Study Home serves children, adolescents, and families with special needs throughout the Pioneer Valley, the Berkshires, and Cape Cod, who are often struggling to cope with behavioral, psychiatric, and cognitive issues related to the experiences they have survived. The staff of the Children’s Study Home assesses their needs and develops individualized service plans that foster recovery, growth, and wellness. As a digital public relations analyst for Garvey Communication Associates Inc. (GCAi), Young has developed and implemented numerous public-relations campaigns for some of the market’s leading brands. She is also one of the only female video producers in the region. In 2018, she produced “Innovation Series,” which won an award from the Advertising Club of Western Massachusetts. Prior to joining GCAi, she was a field producer, assignment desk editor, and production assistant for FOX News and ABC News affiliates. Young is a cum laude graduate of Westfield State University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in communication, journalism, and public & corporate communication.

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Andrea Kunst

Andrea Kunst

CitySpace announced that Andrea Kunst will fill the role of capital campaign manager for the organization, and will guide the Transformation Campaign, a project to restore and create a flexible performing-arts and community space in Easthampton’s Old Town Hall. Kunst brings 20 years of advancement experience, raising close to $30 million in funding for schools and mission-driven nonprofits. After being introduced to the field of development at a Jesuit middle school in Jamaica Plain, Kunst found her calling and has continued to support organizations with strong missions of meeting community needs. Prior to retiring from Boston public schools, she spent a decade as the director of Advancement for a competency-based alternative high school in Roxbury. She has worked extensively in many creative fields, including writing columns for Boston magazine, teaching technical writing at Boston Architectural Center, managing a jazz club in Cambridge, and serving as board chair for Dorchester Arts Collaborative during its successful opening of Dorchester’s first community art gallery. In 2016, Kunst began Cushing Mill, a contracting company for schools and nonprofits in need of advancement services. In that role, she has worked for the Center for Health and Food Law Policy at Harvard University, Fields Corner Main Street in Dorchester, All Dorchester Sports and Leadership; Boston Green Academy in Brighton, and Boston Farms Community Land Trust. She received both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in communications from Emerson College.

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OMG Roofing Products promoted Adam Cincotta to the position of vice president of the company’s Adhesives and Solar Business unit, one of three business units within OMG Roofing Products. In this role, he is responsible for developing and executing the overall business-unit strategy, including product and market development, as well as managing the business unit’s profit and loss. He reports to Peter Coyne, senior vice president and general manager of OMG Roofing Products. Cincotta joined OMG Roofing Products in 2014 as a product manager for the OlyBond Adhesives product line. Most recently, he was director of the Adhesives and Solar Business unit. Under his leadership, the business unit has experienced strong growth driven by several successful new products for which he was responsible, including OlyBond500 Canisters, PaceCarts, and the PowerGrip solar-mount portfolio. Prior to joining OMG, Cincotta served in product-management and marketing roles at Newell Rubbermaid, ITW, and Danaher. He holds a bachelor’s degree in applied economics and management from Cornell University, and an MBA from the University of Massachusetts.

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Aesha Mu’min

Aesha Mu’min, a 2019 American International College (AIC) alumna of the clinical psychology graduate-degree program, and current doctoral student in the mental health counseling program, was recently named a 100 Women of Color class of 2020 award recipient. The gala and awards event recognizes the contributions that women in business, education, entrepreneurship, entertainment, and service have made to impact the lives of people throughout their communities in Connecticut and Massachusetts. Mu’min was selected to the 2020 cohort of awardees because of her dedication to and innovative work as a deputy warden in the Connecticut Department of Corrections. In November 2019, she was integral in piloting the equine-assisted psychotherapy sessions offered by Operation Warrior Horse, a 10-week program housed in the 110-bed unit for military veterans at the Willard-Cybulski Correctional Institution in Enfield, Conn. The program offered inmates an opportunity to meet with therapists and interact with horses in the prison yard for two hours each week. Operating at no cost to the state, the program was sponsored by Healing Hoofbeats of Connecticut. While similar correctional programs utilize equine therapy, this was the first such program to be tailored to the needs of incarcerated military veterans.

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Kyle Sullivan

Kyle Sullivan

Kyle Sullivan, assistant vice president at John M. Glover Insurance Agency, recently celebrated his 10th anniversary at the firm. Sullivan sells home, auto, and business insurance and became assistant vice president in 2016. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Nichols College. To better assist his commercial customers, he also holds a commercial-lines coverage specialist certification through the Hartford School of Insurance. Sullivan previously worked in the restaurant industry for 10 years, which gave him customer-service experience along with a unique perspective on insuring restauranteurs. He works with commercial clients who range from contractors, real-estate investors, and restauranteurs to the owners of car dealerships and auto-body shops.

Alumni Achievement Award Special Coverage

Class Acts

As they came together via Zoom to decide who would take home the coveted Alumni Achievement Award for 2020, the three judges who scored the nominations kept talking about how hard their final assignment was. Indeed, they admitted that all five finalists — Carla Cosenzi, president of TommyCar Auto Group, Peter DePergola, director of Clinical Ethics at Baystate Health; Mike Fenton, attorney with Shatz, Schwartz and Fentin and a Springfield city councilor; Paul Kozub, founder of V-One Vodka; and James Leahy, assistant director of Business Development and Promotion Sales for the Massachusetts State Lottery and a Holyoke city councilor — were more than worthy of the honor, formerly known as the Continued Excellence Award. As they debated the merits of each finalist, the judges had a difficult time settling on one winner of this award, sponsored again this year by Health New England. So they instead decided to honor two.
Carla Cosenzi

Carla Cosenzi, president of TommyCar Auto Group, with her children, Niko and Talia.

• Cosenzi, who adds this honor to two others from BusinessWest (40 Under Forty in 2012 and Women of Impact in 2019), was chosen both for what she’s done in business — expanding the auto group started by her father with several new dealerships — and for what’s she’s done in the community. Chief among her accomplishments in that latter category has been the creation of the Tom Cosenzi Driving for the Cure Charity Golf Tournament, staged each year to raise funds to battle brain cancer, which claimed her father when he was just 52 years old.
Peter DePergola

Peter DePergola, director of Clinical Ethics at Baystate Health.

• DePergola, who has emerged as not only a regional, but national and even international leader in the emerging field of bioethics, also now has three plaques from BusinessWest on his desk. Indeed, in addition to 40 Under Forty (class of 2015), he was also named a Healthcare Hero in the Emerging Leader category in 2018. The first, and still the only, bioethicist in this region, he recently wrote a white paper titled “Ethical Guidelines for the Treatment of Patients with Suspected or Confirmed Novel Coronovirus Disease,” published in the Online Journal of Health Ethics, and also served on the state’s Crisis Standards of Care Advisory Committee. BusinessWest congratulates these two deserving winners, who continue to raise the bar for professional and personal achievement in Western Mass.
Opinion

Editorial

Twenty-three years ago, BusinessWest launched a new recognition initiative called our ‘Top Entrepreneur’ award.

We would have called it ‘Entrepreneur of the Year,’ but that phrase was, and still is, copyrighted. Besides, most of the people we’ve honored over the years weren’t recognized only for accomplishments in a given year, but instead for what they’ve done over a lifetime — or at least to that point in their career. And, in many cases, we also honored their compelling vision for what might be, and their ongoing work to achieve it. Past, present, and future.

Cinda Jones, our Top Entrepreneur for 2019, falls into all three categories.

Indeed, she has already spearheaded a transformation of the North Amherst neighborhood her family business, W.D. Cowls Inc., calls home, moving on from an unprofitable sawmill a decade ago and cultivating a period of both significant land conservation — like the 3,486-acre Paul C. Jones Working Forest in Leverett and Shutesbury and an adjacent, 2,000-acre conservation project in Leverett, Shutesbury, and Pelham — and community-development initiatives.

The latter is best represented these days by North Square at the Mill District, a still-evolving mixed-use project that’s attracting residents, eclectic retailers, eateries, and what she calls ‘experiences’ (fun ones — she’s not soliciting dentists or accountants).

But perhaps the most intriguing element of this project is the vision that sustains it. It’s a vision of how people, especially young people, want to live in the 21st century — their longing for more face-to-face contact, their growing awareness of climate change, and their general desire to live in a hive of activity, not a long drive from it.

Any developer can invest in modern, well-appointed buildings and sign up whatever tenants show interest; Jones and her team aren’t settling for anyone, though. They want North Square to be an economic success, but also a rich way of life for those who choose to live and work there.

Western Mass. has been home to plenty of entrepreneurial vision over the decades and centuries, from legends like Milton Bradley and gunmakers Horace Smith and Daniel Wesson to the names BusinessWest has profiled as Top Entrepreneurs for the past quarter-century. Those range from Pride CEO Bob Bolduc, V-One Vodka President Paul Kozub, and Paragus Strategic IT President Delcie Bean — people who started companies from scratch and brought them to regional prominence — to Big Y’s D’Amour family and Balise Motor Sales President Jeb Balise, who built significantly on the work of multiple generations before them.

Again, Cinda Jones represents both models in some ways, stewarding a nine-generation family business but doing it in completely different ways, and with totally new enterprises, than in the past.

What all 24 years of honorees share, despite their vastly different achievements, is vision — to see opportunities that others had not — as well as the work ethic to act on that vision and a desire to see people’s lives improved in some way by the end result.

That sort of vision and energy is what much of the Pioneer Valley’s economy is built on, and, from our perspective, it’s not in short supply. v

Alumni Achievement Award

Nominate your choice for an outstanding BusinessWest 40 Under Forty Alum!

Click for Past Honorees

When BusinessWest launched its 40 Under Forty program in 2007, it did so to identify rising stars across our region – individuals who were excelling in business and through
involvement within the community –and celebrate their accomplishments. In 2015, BusinessWest announced a new award, one that builds on the foundation upon which 40 Under Forty was created. It’s called the Continued Excellence Award. as the name suggests, will be presented to the 40 Under Forty honoree who, in the eyes of an independent panel of judges,
has most impressively continued and built upon their track record
of accomplishment.

For your convenience, a list of 40 Under Forty Alumni can be found HERE.

About the nomination form:
• Candidates must be from 40 Under Forty classes prior to the year of the award, in this case, classes 2007-2018.
• Only nominations submitted to BusinessWest on this form will be considered.

Deadline is May 3, 2019 at 5 p.m. No exceptions.

Presenting Sponsor:

Continued Excellence Award Past Winners:

2018
Samalid Hogan
Regional Director, Massachusetts Small Business Development Center
Class of 2013

2017
Scott Foster
Attorney, Bulkley Richardson
Class of 2011

Nicole Griffin
Owner, ManeHire
Class of 2014

2016
 Dr. Jonathan Bayuk
President of Allergy and Immunology Associates of Western Mass. &
Chief of Allergy and Immunology at Baystate Medical Center
Class of 2008

2015
Delcie Bean
President, Paragus Strategic IT
Class of 2008

40 Under Forty Alumni Achievement Award Nomination Form

Fill out the nomination form completely.
  • Nominated by (your information):

 

Sales and Marketing

The Art and Science of Story Telling

The team at BRIGADE

The team at BRIGADE shows off the many honors garnered at the recent Ad Club of Western Mass. award show.    Photo by Stephanie Craig Photography

It was just a few weeks after Kirsten Modestow and her husband relocated to Western Mass. from San Francisco that she got the phone call that would ultimately change her life. The person at the other end was looking for someone to do some freelance work for a fledgling vodka brand called Svedka. As many people know, Svedka has gone on to become the top-selling imported vodka in the U.S. What they may not know is that, with that notable first client, Modestow created the marketing firm BRIGADE, one that has certainly built on that solid foundation in every way.

Kirsten Modestow says the branding company she would call BRIGADE (yes, all caps) was started on her kitchen table.

Which doesn’t exactly make it unique; many startups are blueprinted in such a setting. Which makes this one different is what happened after it was conceived.

For starters, that kitchen table would later become an official work station for one of the first hires, and soon other parts of the house were absorbed by additional team members as they came on board.

“The first person was in the living room, the second person was at the dining-room table, the next one was in the spare bedroom … then we all moved into the garage,” she explained. “When there was no room in the refrigerator for people’s lunches, we knew it was time to go.”

By that, she meant move into larger quarters, which the company has done a few times, but we’ll get back to that later.

The other thing that separates BRIGADE from other ventures hatched on the kitchen table is the pace of growth. Indeed, over the past 13 years, the company has expanded to 35 employees, most of them artists and designers who commute to the current home on Route 9 in Hadley from across Western Mass. and well beyond.

And their client list includes a number of prominent national brands, including Svedka vodka, the Wyndham Hotel Group, Black Box Wines, and Vertical Water, as well as some local businesses, such as Esselon Café, just a few hundred yards down Route 9.

Actually, Svedka wasn’t a national brand when Modestow was hired as a freelancer to help with a branding campaign. It was a fledgling vodka label looking to break out — and it did, big time; a few years ago, it surpassed Smirnoff as the top-selling imported vodka in the U.S.

The team at BRIGADE designed packaging for Svedka strawberry seltzer.

The team at BRIGADE designed packaging for Svedka strawberry seltzer.

“We’ve been along for the ride,” Modestow said, noting how the growth of Svedka and BRIGADE have mirrored one another. “Over the past 13 years, we’ve grown with them.”

But BRIGADE hasn’t outgrown Modestow’s kitchen table, then a space on University Drive, and then a totally renovated foreign-car sales and service shop further down Route 9 because of one client — although Svedka certainly has played a huge role in that transformation.

Instead, it’s been the company’s ability to work with clients to create branding that resonates, builds name recognition, and drives sales, Modestow explained, adding that this is what branding, the company’s specialty, is all about.

Elaborating, she said BRIGADE focuses on helping clients tell their story, and to do that, she and her team must first understand what that story is and then develop effective ways to communicate it.

“We get to know a client by doing an audit of their existing brand,” she explained. “We always see it as the client being the expert in what they do in their industry, and we bring in the branding piece, so it’s crucial to work with them as a partner.”

That was certainly the case with the new coffee bags the company created for Esselon Café. Coffee had long been a key ingredient in the restaurant’s recipe for success, said Modestow, but a while back, its leaders decided a new look was needed.

“People are more open to working with remote agencies. Before, it was a case where you went to an agency in one of the larger cities. Around 2006, when we started, there was a willingness to work with people who weren’t down the street, and that had a lot to do with our success.”

“We worked with them to determine how to capture the heart of Esselon and capture who and what Esselon is,” she explained, adding that BRIGADE came up with new packaging that drew on the Western Mass. landscape — specifically the Seven Sisters portion of the Holyoke Range — as well as new language: “All roads, bike paths, and quests for the best cup of coffee lead to Esselon Café.”

Kirsten Modestow

Kirsten Modestow

“The whole idea is that they’re on the bike path and everyone comes to Esselon; the place is packed, and you have to park illegally,” she explained. “We decided to embrace all that — we have these bike paths and roads that wrap around the bag, and we told this café story, and it’s been awesome for them; the bag is loved by Whole Foods, and retail sales have tripled because of it.”

For this issue, BusinessWest takes an in-depth look at how BRIGADE has moved well beyond that kitchen table and grown its own brand by delivering services that tell a story and generate results.

Seeking an Ad-vantage

Modestow told BusinessWest that the BRIGADE story really starts in Boston, where she worked for the acclaimed marketing agency Hill Holiday Advertising and such clients as Dunkin’ Donuts.

When the dot-com sector was at its pinnacle, however, the place to be was San Francisco, and Modestow went there and had the opportunity to join a firm and work with brands such as Electronic Arts Inc. (EA), the video-game maker.

Her firm eventually closed its doors, however, after losing one of its mainstay clients, and Modestow and her husband were at a crossroads.

“I could afford to live in San Francisco for about four and half minutes after that,” she joked. “I think we sold our house within seven days and left.”

The two then made a pact of sorts. They would relocate to wherever one of them found a job first.

“He beat me by a day; he got a job in Western Massachusetts — he’s originally from Worthington — and we came here,” she explained.

And it wasn’t long after they landed that she got that life-altering phone call.

“Someone called and said, ‘I have a freelance opportunity for you on this startup vodka brand called Svedka,’” she recalled. “Over the past 13 years, we’ve grown with them and helped them along the way; they’ve been really wonderful to us.”

As noted earlier, the company quickly outgrew Modestow’s kitchen table, refrigerator, and garage, and settled into that space on University Drive, above the popular Hangar restaurant. It wasn’t exactly a long stay, though, because the company continued to grow at a rapid rate, doubling in size from five to nine employees in a few years.

It then relocated to the foreign-car shop — a site that required a massive renovation effort — but outgrew that in just over a year, as Modestow recalled, adding that the next home is intriguing on many levels.

A portion of the 8,500-square-foot facility was home to a Registry of Motor Vehicles office, and even though it’s been closed for quite some time, people still walk in the front door looking to renew their driver’s licenses, said David Bosch, the company’s operations manager.

Another portion of the facility has home to Zoe’s Fish House, he went on, adding that, while BRIGADE renovated all the spaces into work areas, including a banquet facility that never became reality, it kept the bar intact.

The company doesn’t have a liquor license, obviously, but it does use the bar for company functions, said Bosch. Meanwhile, it’s an unusual decorative touch, and it give the company a chance to showcase many of the brands it has helped develop in what would be described as a natural setting.

The space is wide open, said Modestow, adding that this the desired environment for a marketing firm where people work together to create solutions for clients.

“We work in branding, and a lot of that is people coming together to solve a problem,” she explained. “So being in a very open space, one that’s conducive to gathering, is important.”

BRIGADE should be in this home for quite some time, because there is not only ample room to grow, but plenty of business coming through the door as the company continues to build strong word-of-mouth referrals.

The new coffee bag that BRIGADE created for Esselon Café has helped spark a surge in retail sales.

The new coffee bag that BRIGADE created for Esselon Café has helped spark a surge in retail sales.

Indeed, as noted earlier, Svedka has been a dream first client and solid foundation for BRIGADE. But the company has been able to build on that foundation, said Modestow, and for several reasons.

One is the large number of contacts she made from her previous career stops, and the experience she gained working for national and global clients, a tremendous asset in this business, as in any other.

“Having the exposure in Boston and San Francisco enabled me to work on some high-caliber clients and hone my skill set that I could then pass on to people here,” she explained. “We started off with an ability to work on those high-caliber clients; we’re really good at it, so we’ve attracted through our work the attention of others.”

Another factor is a growing willingness among corporations to work with agencies not based in New York, Boston, or Los Angeles, or whatever major metropolis the corporation was based in or near.

“People are more open to working with remote agencies,” she noted. “Before, it was a case where you went to an agency in one of the larger cities. Around 2006, when we started, there was a willingness to work with people who weren’t down the street, and that had a lot to do with our success.”

Getting the Message Across

But easily the best reason for the company’s success is the results it has garnered for its clients, said Modestow, adding that more important than the awards the company has gained for its work — and it has won many — are the gains registered by the companies looking for help with their brand.

Which bring us back to Esselon Café.

That new packaging has won a number of awards for BRIGADE, said Modestow, but the bigger story is that dramatic rise in retail sales at Whole Foods and other locations.

It came about through that art and science of storytelling and creating a brand that speaks to who they are.

When asked about the methods for gaining such results, Modestow returned to the subject of effectively partnering with the client to solve a problem or revitalize a brand.

The client knows their industry, their product or service, and their story, she went on. BRIGADE essentially takes that insight and uses it to create a brand that conveys the story in a way that resonates.

Steps include the brand audit she described earlier, and also creation of brand strategy.

“We would work through positioning statements with the client, help them figure out their key messages, how they’re different, how they talk about themselves, what their voice is, and more,” she explained. “And once we have that platform, then we would go into the visual component of all this — bringing it all to life visually through some kind of toolkit, which might be a refresh logo or packaging or a new website. We’re helping them see how this language and this new positioning can visually come to life.”

As the company creates these strategies and brings them to life, it does so not with a hard focus on targeting specific demographic groups — a mistake some companies make when marketing and branding — but building a brand that’s “authentic.”

“I don’t think you build a brand to speak to a specific group of people,” she told BusinessWest. “You build a brand that’s true to who the brand should be, and then it resonates with the right people.

“A mistake you see is when companies think the key to their success is going out and capturing the Millennials,” she went on. “Well, the Millennial doesn’t want to be captured — you have to find them because you have something compelling that made them want to believe in you. It’s about consumer experience and storytelling; people want an authentic experience with a company.”

As an example of how the firm partners with its clients, Modestow referenced the Wyndham Hotel Group and some of its specific brands, including one in particular — Travelodge.

“It was kind of an old brand with old, tired signage,” she explained, noting that, at the time, Wyndham hadn’t put much emphasis on branding, but has since changed that attitude. “We helped refresh the Travelodge brand, we helped them with an ad campaign, and we helped them with a new way to talk about themselves.”

Another example is work with Svedka to launch a new line of spiked seltzers. The company designed the cans in a way that were true to the Svedka brand but also resonated within the growing spiked-seltzer product category, said Don Magri, the company’s chief financial officer.

“They came to us with a good amount of research that they had already done on their consumer and who they were really trying to target,” he explained. “You go through iterations, but you’re really trying to creating a design that is true to the brand going into a new category, but also hitting the demographic they’re trying to reach.”

Looking down the road, those at BRIGADE said they look to continue providing clients with what they call ‘responsive branding,’ so that they are ready for the future and their brands are as well.

In short, they aim to do what the company’s done from the beginning — grow with its clients.

“We want to grow and create new opportunities for our employees and then for the people who don’t work here yet,” said Magri. “Growth for the sake of growth is not something we’re interested in, but growth for the sake of growing our skills and growing our client base and securing our client mix is our plan.”

Bottom Line

In other words, the company is going to continue doing what it’s been doing from the start, back when work was being done on Modestow’s kitchen table and her refrigerator was getting filled with employees’ lunches.

The company has come a long way since then — a quick tour of the facilities at 195 Russell St. make that clear — but the guiding principles remain the same.

And those are to tell the client’s story and create an authentic experience that resonates. When you that, it’s a lot easier to do what BRIGADE has done with and for Svedka and all its other clients — be along for the ride.

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

People on the Move
Michele Cabral

Michele Cabral

Michele Cabral, a former accounting professor and interim dean of Business and Technology at Holyoke Community College, has been appointed the new director of Training & Workforce Options, a workforce-development partnership between HCC and Springfield Technical Community College. Cabral succeeds Jeffrey Hayden, who maintains his position as HCC’s vice president of Business and Community Services. As director of TWO, she will also continue in her position as director of the Massachusetts Casino Career Training Institute (MCCTI), the gaming school HCC runs jointly with STCC and MGM Springfield at 95 State St. in Springfield. Before being named director of MCCTI last fall, Cabral served as interim dean of Business and Technology at HCC, where she was a member of the project team that helped bring the HCC MGM Culinary Arts Institute to life. Cabral holds a bachelor’s degree from Westfield State University and an MBA from Elms College. She joined the faculty of HCC in 2014 as a full-time professor of accounting.

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Kevin Bramlett

Kevin Bramlett

Adam Cincotta

Adam Cincotta

As part of the previously announced organizational change to position the company for future growth, OMG Inc. promoted Kevin Bramlett and Adam Cincotta into new business-unit leadership positions for the Roofing Products Division. Each will oversee all facets of their respective business unit, including strategic sales and marketing activities, planning, forecasting, and manufacturing, as well as business-unit profit and loss. Bramlett was named director of the metal accessories business unit, which is predominantly OMG EdgeSystems, the company’s line of fascia, coping, and water-control products. Bramlett has been with the company since July 2012, most recently as the manufacturing manager for the OMG edge business. Before joining OMG, he was a mechanical engineer with Thermo-Fisher Scientific. He holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Cincotta was named director of the adhesives/solar business unit, which includes OlyBond Adhesives, the industry’s popular line of insulation and fleece membrane adhesive, as well as its OMG PowerGrip line of solar anchors. He joined OMG Roofing Products as a product manager in 2014, and was promoted to group product manager in 2017. Before joining OMG, he was with Lenox Tools/Newell Rubbermaid, where he worked as a senior product manager. He holds a bachelor’s degree in applied economics and management from Cornell University and an MBA from UMass.

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Kelly Marcroft

Kelly Marcroft

Kelly Marcroft, Holyoke Medical Center’s director of Emergency Services, has been selected to join an expert panel to improve patient safety in emergency medicine. The panel was convened by the Betsy Lehman Center for Patient Safety, a Massachusetts state agency that catalyzes the efforts of providers, patients, and policymakers working together to advance the safety and quality of healthcare. The goal of this expert panel is to develop, aggregate, and disseminate practical recommendations and tools to support the efforts of Massachusetts acute-care hospitals to advance the safe delivery of emergency care in their facilities. The panel will deliberate on and endorse a set of core safety competencies that all Massachusetts emergency departments should foster, as well as create a set of best-practice standards, tools, and resources to share throughout the greater emergency-medicine community in Massachusetts. The expert panel consists of nurses, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and doctors from several hospitals throughout the state, including Baystate Health, Brigham & Women’s Hospital, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Lowell General Hospital, Sturdy Memorial Hospital, Boston Children’s Hospital, and UMass Memorial Medical Center. The group first met on June 26 in Boston and will continue to meet monthly over the next year.

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Angela Barahona

Angela Barahona

Country Bank announced that Angela Barahona has joined its Commercial Banking division as vice president of Business Development and Cash Management. She brings 17 years of experience in the industry, having held various positions over the years in customer service, management, municipal and government banking, business development, and corporate cash management. She is currently working toward her associate degree from the New England College of Business and Finance with a concentration in business adminstration. Barahona began her financial-services career at Country Bank in 2001 in its retail banking area. A relocation in 2006 to the eastern part of Massachusetts brought her to State Street Bank Corp. in its wire division and later to Century Bank. For the last 13 years at Century, she held various positions working her way through the ranks, where she found her passion in helping business customers.

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Clare Lamontagne

Clare Lamontagne

Holyoke Community College recently welcomed Clare Lamontagne as its new dean of Health Sciences. Lamontagne, a registered nurse who holds a Ph.D. in nursing, brings 40 years of experience to HCC as a nursing educator, administrator, clinician, and consultant. For the past seven years, she has been a member of the full-time nursing faculty at UMass Amherst, having also served there as director of the undergraduate nursing program. She began her career in 1978 as a charge nurse at Ludlow Hospital after earning her associate degree in nursing from Springfield Technical Community College, where she worked as a member of the nursing faculty from 1988 to 2011. Lamontagne holds a bachelor’s degree in nursing from American International College, a master’s degree in nursing from the University of Connecticut, and a Ph.D. in nursing from UMass Amherst. She has also worked as a nurse at Baystate Medical Center and as a volunteer at the Pioneer Valley Free Health Clinic in East Longmeadow, and has taught in the nursing programs at UConn, Elms College, and Baystate Health.

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Alta Stark has been named director of Communications for the Sisters of St. Joseph of Springfield. She is responsible for developing, writing, and producing various printed and electronic publications, providing printed materials and signs, publicity for events, advertising, and technical support. She will also work to cultivate and maintain relationships with local, regional, and national media, as well as Catholic media, and produce content for the Sisters of St. Joseph social-media sites. Stark is a communications professional with more than 30 years of experience in marketing, advertising, public relations, and the news media. Most recently, she taught graduate-level online courses in public relations for Western New England University. Previously, she served as the director of Marketing & Public Relations for JGS Lifecare in Longmeadow, successfully rebranding the 106-year organization and helping launch the Sosin Center for Rehabilitation. Stark has also served as senior Communications specialist for Baystate Health and Communications director for the Affiliated Chambers of Commerce of Greater Springfield (now the Springfield Regional Chamber) and the Western Mass. Economic Development Council. She also spent nearly a decade producing award-winning broadcast news in several markets in the Northeast, including WWLP 22News. Stark holds a master’s degree in television, radio, and film with a concentration in broadcast news from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, and graduated cum laude from Syracuse University’s College of Visual and Performing Arts with a bachelor’s degree in advertising design.

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Claudia Pazmany

Claudia Pazmany

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hampshire County (BBBSHC), a program of CHD, announced the appointment of Claudia Pazmany as its new advisory board president. Pazmany, the new executive director of the Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce, joined BBBSHC as an advisory board member in May 2016. She served on the development committee and led the efforts to celebrate outgoing Executive Director Renee Moss, while simultaneously serving on the search committee to hire her replacement, current Executive Director Jessie Cooley. “Claudia’s successful 17-year history in professional fundraising has made her a true steward of her craft in philanthropy, and this is part of what drew her to us,” said Cooley. “Claudia is also passionate about the mission of Big Brothers Big Sisters, with contagious enthusiasm and innovative ideas, and she will help lead us into the next phase of our program’s growth.”

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Krish Thiagarajan, an expert on marine renewable energy and energy-producing offshore structures, has been appointed to the endowed chair in Renewable Energy in the UMass Amherst College of Engineering. Thiagarajan will collaborate with state Department of Energy Resources staff on renewable-energy research and projects. His studies focus on harvesting energy from waves in marine environments, and his expertise will broaden and strengthen the research program in renewable energy at UMass Amherst, which has long been a national leader in wind energy. Thiagarajan came to UMass Amherst last spring after serving six years as the presidential chair in Energy at the University of Maine, where his research attracted more than $22 million in funding. At Maine, he also led the Marine Ocean and Offshore Research (MOOR) Group, which studied how human-made structures interact with the complex ocean environment. Thiagarajan completed his bachelor’s degree in naval architecture at the Indian Institute of Technology in Madras. He earned a master’s degree in ocean engineering at Memorial University of Newfoundland before pursuing further graduate studies at the University of Michigan, where he was awarded master’s degrees in mechanical engineering, and naval architecture and marine engineering, as well as a Ph.D. in naval architecture and marine engineering.

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Mika Nash has joined American International College (AIC) as executive vice president for Academic Affairs. She comes to AIC from Champlain College in Vermont, where she served as dean of Continuing Professional Studies. Nash has more than 20 years of experience in the field of higher education, with the majority of her career spent in senior leadership. In her most recent role, she was tasked with the development and administration of all academic and operational responsibilities associated with running the Continuing Professional Studies academic unit with management oversight for all curricula, academic programs, academic policies, articulation agreements, eLearning, faculty recruiting, training and development, and building student, family, and academic support services. A particular area of interest and scholarship for Nash continues to be technology innovation to expand the student experience and engagement in course content. Prior to joining Champlain College in 2007, Nash served as dean for the School of Hospitality and Restaurant Management at the New England Culinary Institute. She received her undergraduate and graduate degrees at the University of Vermont. She has a doctorate in higher educational leadership and policy studies.

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Scott Higgins

Scott Higgins

Erin Wilde

Erin Wilde

HUB International New England, LLC, a division of HUB International Limited, a global insurance brokerage, recently announced that Scott Higgins joined the agency as an account executive for Commercial Lines, and Erin Wilde has come on board as a client relationship manager. Both will work in the East Longmeadow office. Higgins will be responsible for servicing medium- to large-sized businesses with a focus on property and casualty products. Having first started his career as a collision repair manager with GM for more than 20 years, he has a vast background in providing settlements for collision repairs. From there, he held various positions with MetLife and MetLife Financial. Wilde will work closely with the HUB New England Employee Benefits team to service existing clients with marketing, benefits communications, regulatory requirements, cost-saving measures, and enrollment, as well as assisting with new prospects. Having worked in the employee-benefits field, including stops at Bank of Tampa and Sullivan Benefits, she has a background servicing nonprofits.

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Springfield Technical Community College announced that Erica Eynouf was named dean of Library, Matthew Gravel was named dean of Academic Initiatives, and Inder Singh was named assistant vice president/chief Information officer. Eynouf joined the college in September 2012 as a reference library, and had served as interim dean of Library Services since August 2017. She holds a master’s degree in library science from Simmons College in Boston. She received her bachelor’s degree in critical social theory from Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley. Gravel was most recently dean of Enrollment Management. He joined STCC in August 2001 as the director of Academic Advising, became registrar in March 2005, and was promoted to dean of Curriculum in January 2012. Among his job responsibilities, he will plan and manage academic initiatives and program review efforts. He earned a master’s degree in education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and a bachelor’s degree in English from UMass Dartmouth. Singh had served as interim AVP/CIO since January. Previously, he served as CIO at Union County College in New Jersey and worked in IT leadership positions for 28 years at the Culinary Institute of America in New York. He holds an MBA from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y., and earned a bachelor’s degree in commerce from Delhi University, India.

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Kathleen Anderson

Kathleen Anderson

Holyoke Medical Center announced the appointment of Kathleen Anderson as the hospital’s director of Community Benefits. She begins her new role on Aug. 27, providing programs and services to improve health in communities and helping to increase access to healthcare. She will succeed Helen Arnold following her retirement after a 42-year career with Holyoke Medical Center. Anderson most recently served as president of the Greater Holyoke Chamber of Commerce and its affiliated Centennial Foundation. Prior to that, she served as Holyoke’s Planning and Economic Development director, as well as chief of staff for two Holyoke mayors. She serves on the state Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development’s Economic Assistance Coordinating Council, and chairs both the Holyoke Salvation Army and Economic Development Partners of the Western Mass. Economic Development Council.

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The duMONT Co. and Hassay Savage Co. announced the promotion of Cynthia Cote to president of both companies. Cote joined duMONT with new ownership in 2016 as the company’s chief financial officer. Both duMONT and Hassay Savage companies are leaders in linear industrial broaching technology. In 2018, the companies will break ground on a new manufacturing facility to prepare for additional growth through research and development as well as acquisition. In addition to her accomplishments in manufacturing, Cote and her husband own and run a construction company and a real-estate management company in Shelburne Falls.

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HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital of Western Massachusetts recently named Kathy Casagrande as director of Case Management and Mary-Anne Schelb as Business Development director. These leadership-team members will support initiatives to uphold high-quality patient care at the 53-bed inpatient rehabilitation hospital located at 222 State St., Ludlow. Casagrande has been a social worker and case manager in a hospital setting for more than 30 years. She received her bachelor’s degree in social work from Western New England College in 1985 and began her career at HealthSouth Western Massachusetts in March 1996 in the capacity of discharge planner. She was promoted to case manager in 1997. Schelb serves as director of Marketing Operations at HealthSouth Western Massachusetts. She began her career with an accounting certification from St. John’s School of Business and found herself drawn to a more health- and wellness-based path as a holistic health practitioner holding master/teacher certifications from the International Center for Reiki Training. In addition, she is a certified cranial sacral therapist in Profound Neutral from the Neurovascular Institute.

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Zoar Outdoor recently trained five new guides to lead its canopy-tour experience in a 40-hour process that covered topics from safety to assessing the guest’s state of mind. All five guide candidates aced written exams and technical drills on June 15, the last day of the training. Hired for the remainder of the season, which ends in November, were Brian Schempf, Matt Drazek, Haley Rode, Abby Schlinger, and Tynan Hewes. All of the trainees had previous experience riding a zipline, and they all also had outdoor experience ranging from hiking to mountain climbing. Zoar currently has 43 guides for its zipline canopy tour, which was the first zip tour in southern New England.