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Daily News

NORTHAMPTON — Eight Massachusetts Restaurant Assoc. restaurants across the state will participate in Massachusetts Restaurant Day on Monday, March 27, for No Kid Hungry. Inspired by Chef Andy Husbands of Tremont 647, who has hosted a dinner for this cause for the past 20 years, the MRA announced the program’s expansion across Massachusetts.

Last year, participating Boston restaurants raised more than $60,000 to end childhood hunger in Massachusetts. This year, Hotel Northampton is hosting the Western Mass. branch of the event, a multi-course meal with wine pairings. The hotel’s culinary team is working alongside and co-sponsoring with four well-known restaurants in town, including Sierra Grille, Spoleto’s, Packard’s, and Union Station.

“It’s going to be a fabulous event,” said Ruby Meng, Hotel Northampton’s director of Sales and Marketing. “The local culinary talent is very impressive, and we’re going to bring you an unforgettable menu.”

Attendance at this event will not only help to curb childhood hunger in Massachusetts, but will also help local programs that feed children of all ages at school and in the home. The goal is to ensure all children get the healthy food they need, every day. To purchase tickets or to provide sponsorship, click here.

Class of 2017 Difference Makers

Cut and Dried

In Business and the Community, Denis Gagnon Is a Role Model

Denis Gagnon

Denis Gagnon

Denis Gagnon Sr. was asked about the origins of the signed, framed Tom Brady jersey that dominates one wall of his spacious office at Excel Dryer in East Longmeadow.

Rather than answer that question, he bolted up out of his chair and said, “think that’s nice? I’ve got something better … follow me.”

And with that, he walked briskly down the hall, with BusinessWest in tow, to the conference room, apologized as he ever-so-briefly interrupted a meeting in progress, and proudly pointed to a huge framed, autographed photo of Malcolm Butler, depicting the moment he stepped in front of Russell Wilson’s final pass in the 2015 Super Bowl, sealing a Patriots victory.

“How about that?” Gagnon, the company’s president, said of the photo, a gift from Pats owner Robert Kraft, who is now a valued customer of Excel Dryer, which, according to company literature — not to mention most people who have placed their hands under one of its products — has revolutionized the long-maligned hand-dryer industry.

Later, amid considerable and quite necessary prodding, he grudgingly revealed that signed photos and jerseys are just some of the many benefits that have come through what is now a very solid and multi-faceted marketing relationship between the Patriots and Excel (and donations to the team’s charitable foundation), up to and including the opportunity for Gagnon to actually get on the hallowed turf at Gillette Stadium, practice with the team, and play some catch with TB 12.

As noted, such reflections came reluctantly, because it is simply not in Gagnon’s nature to call attention to his actions or accomplishments. Those who know him well say he basically just goes quietly — and quite efficiently — about his business.

Denis Gagnon with his wife, Nancy, and sons Denis Jr., left, and Bill, right.

Denis Gagnon with his wife, Nancy, and sons Denis Jr., left, and Bill, right.

And by ‘business,’ they aren’t referring specifically to Excel and its signature product, the XLERATOR, although that’s certainly a big part of the conversation — the part referring to his strong entrepreneurial instincts, success in making the company’s products a global phenomenon, and even pride that the dryers are made not only in America (the only ones that can make such a claim), but in the 413 area code.

“I’m in the men’s room at Heathrow Airport … and I see East Longmeadow, Mass. on the XLERATOR,” recalled Gene Cassidy, president of the Big E, who has known Gagnon for years, “and it sends shivers up my spine; I wanted everyone in the lavatory to know that I knew Denis Gagnon.”

No, by ‘business,’ they were mostly referring to Gagnon’s strong track record of service to the community, which is notable for many reasons.

For starters, there’s simply the depth of that service, which includes everything from decades of work with the Boy Scouts and the Children’s Study Home to his multi-layered involvement with Link to Libraries (LTL).

There is also his ability to inspire others to become involved and make a difference in their own way.

He’s a man who not only sees the need, but takes action. He is very empathetic to those people in need and especially the young people of our community.”

Dana Barrows, a financial advisor with Northwestern Mutual, another long-time acquaintance and long-time LTL volunteer, explains.

“I was in Denis’ office four years ago, and I saw a picture of him with Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno,” he recalled. “I said, ‘what are you doing?’ and he replied that he was reading a book to school kids as part of Link to Libraries. And he told me I should check it out.

“I did, I’ve been reading ever since, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it,” he said, adding that this is but a small example of how Gagnon not only gets involved, but gets others to follow suit.

Humbly, Gagnon said simply, “if you have the good fortune of being in a good corporate job or owning your own business, like we’ve been able to do, you have a responsibility to give back to that community.”

And this philosophy was certainly handed down to his children, including those involved with him at Excel, Denis Jr. and Bill, who are both very active in the community (Bill is a member of BusinessWest’s 40 Under Forty class of 2013).

Mike Suzor, assistant to the president at Springfield Technical Community College and a serial entrepreneur himself, was a classmate of Gagnon’s at Cathedral High School, in the class of 1968. He remembers Gagnon as an excellent student, a multi-sport athlete, and someone who knew what it took to succeed on any stage, or playing field.

Mike Suzor

Mike Suzor, a long-time friend and former classmate of Denis Gagnon’s at Cathedral, says Gagnon has always understood what it takes to succeed at any level.

“I never met his parents, but they must have been great people,” he said, “because Denis learned very early on the value of honesty, integrity, and hard work — ‘don’t pass it off to someone else; get it done yourself.’ That attitude was there in high school, and it has stayed with him all through his career.”

“If you measure success financially, then he’s clearly successful,” Suzor went on. “But if you measure success by what kind of human being someone is … he’s one of the most successful people I’ve ever met.”

Rarified Air

Over the past 18 years or so, Gagnon has sat across from interviewers representing all manner of media outlets curious about the XLERATOR, from the small weekly paper that covers Longmeadow and East Longmeadow to the Wall Street Journal; from a host of trade publications, such as Restaurant Daily News, to Inc. magazine.

While the comments vary, obviously, he will undoubtedly tell the inquirer something he told BusinessWest back in 2003 — that, as entrepreneurial gambles go, Excel Dryer was anything but a rock-solid bet.

That’s because the company made a product that, by Gagnon’s own admission, people don’t like or want — electric hand dryers, a product that, historically, didn’t dry people’s hands as much as they would like.

As he explained back then, and has gone on explaining ever since, most businesses and institutions that installed hand dryers in those days did so because satisfying the customer — and that’s a relative term in this case — was not a priority, and saving money was. As examples, he listed airports, train stations, colleges, municipal buildings, sports stadiums, and even correctional facilities.

Today, businesses and institutions like those mentioned above, but also some certainly not on that list, are installing Excel models because they do place a premium on customer service — and also on protecting the environment and saving money.

Changing the hand-dryer landscape wasn’t exactly the stated mission when Gagnon bought a piece of Excel in 1992 and later acquired the entire company, but it quickly became not only a goal, but an obsession — one of those who knew Gagnon well firmly believed he would succeed with, even given the chosen product’s dubious history and uncertain future.

To explain, Suzor went into the wayback machine to Cathedral High, then home to 3,000 students, and memories of Gagnon the student-athlete.

“He was an incredible wrestler and first-team All-Western Mass. placekicker,” Suzor recalled. “In the wintertime, he would go out and kick field goals in the snow to practice; he was absolutely dedicated to excellence and doing whatever it took to be the best he could be. Going back to high school, he showed that.”

This pattern would continue at UMass Amherst and later in business, especially at what was then Milton Bradley, later Hasbro, and now Cartamundi, where Gagnon would rise in the ranks to vice president of International Sales.

This was a rewarding job in a number of ways, but also one that took him away from home quite often (he was responsible for the Pacific Rim region).

Desiring a change, and something closer to home, he and his wife Nancy would both join her family’s business, Springfield-based Bassett Boat, and he would help it achieve dramatic growth in the late ’80s. But the deep and lengthy recession that began at the end of that decade put a serious hurt on discretionary spending and thus the boat business, and Gagnon began searching for an entrepreneurial adventure of his own.

He and a partner thoroughly researched options, and set their sights on Excel Dryer, but the partner got cold feet, leaving Gagnon to pursue plan B, as he called it, which was to acquire a piece of that company and acquire the rest over time as he ran its sales and marketing efforts.

By 1997, when the acquisition was complete, he would begin the process of changing the equation when it came to the product that seemingly no one liked or wanted by partnering with (and essentially bankrolling) some inventors with a revolutionary new concept.

In time, it would come to be called the XLERATOR, which, as that name suggests, was painstakingly designed to reduce the time it took to dry one’s hands, while actually getting the job done.

Gagnon explains the technology, sort of, in one of the many interviews he’s given, this one with Restaurant Daily News.

“If I could describe the new drying system in layman’s terms, I would say that it delivers a focused, high-velocity air stream, which blows off excess water in three to four seconds,” he told that publication, “and evaporates the remaining boundary layer of moisture very rapidly. With a conventional hand dryer, it takes over 20 seconds before effective evaporation takes place, and 30 to 45 seconds overall to completely dry your hands.”

Denis Gagnon

Denis Gagnon stands beside one of the first XLERATORs, the hand dryer that changed perceptions about that product.

He skipped over much of the proprietary science and engineering that would eventually solve a noise problem and enable the XLERATOR to live up to its considerable promise and become the best-selling hand dryer in the world, with more than a million units now in use.

The map outside Gagnon’s office, the one with multi-colored push pins on seemingly every continent (covering more than 70 countries in which the product is now sold), does an effective job of explaining how far this company has come in less than two decades.

Having a Blast

But there are other ways to measure its success, and at Excel, there are many of them, including:

• Evolution of the venture into a true family business. Indeed, while Denis Gagnon is president, his wife, Nancy, who has been involved with the company from the beginning, serves as vice president, while son Bill, who joined after college when Denis was developing the XLERATOR and has since helped grow the company, is vice president of Marketing and Sales, and son Denis Jr. is vice president of International Sales;

• Continued expansion and diversification of the product line, including a new “XLERATOR integrated sink system,” as Gagnon described it (there’s a prototype at the Fort restaurant in Springfield and 168 of them at MGM’s new casino in Maryland). Developed in collaboration with Sloan Valve, it includes an automatic soap dispenser, automatic faucet, and an automatic dryer coming out of what looks like a faucet head. “You never have to leave the sink — you soap, wash, and dry your hands right there,” he explained, adding that the product is being brought to the marketplace by a separate LLC called D13 Group, run by his son Bill and son-in-law Lance;

• Continued expansion of the plant complex in East Longmeadow to accommodate a growing company and staff (the company now employs 49 people). Town officials recently approved plans for 5,000 square feet of additional warehouse, R&D, and engineering space;

• Official designation as an American-made product and being named as the inaugural winner of the ‘Made in the USA Certified Award’ in the ‘medium company’ category in 2013; and

• Continued exposure in the press. Over the years, the company and the XLERATOR has earned all kinds of ink and face time. It was one of Terry Bradshaw’s ‘picks of the week,’ on his CNN Headline News segment, for example, and has also been on the Science Channel’s How It’s Made show, the Discovery Channel’s Things We Love to Hate series (actually, the show was about how the XLERATOR is changing perceptions about hand dryers), and many more.

But, as noted earlier, success in business is really only one chapter in the Denis Gagnon story, and not the most important one, according to those who know him well.

Excel Dryer employees

Excel Dryer employees gather for a shot at the plant in East Longmeadow. The company has registered explosive growth in recent years.

Instead, it’s his work within the community that resonates most.

As he talked about that work — again, something he doesn’t like to do and would rather leave to others — he referenced a more-than-half-century-long relationship with the Boy Scouts of America and the many lessons imparted him through that involvement.

Especially those from his youth. Indeed, Gagnon, a member of Troop 424, which met at the Nativity Church in the Willimansett section of Chicopee, became an Eagle Scout at the age of 12, something that couldn’t be done today (one needs to be at least 14) and was a very rare achievement back then.

He remembers some of the scout credos, or marching orders, if you will, and said they’ve never left him.

“What’s the motto of the Boy Scouts? ‘Do a good turn daily’ — in other words, do something to give back to help other people,” he explained. “They teach you to be self-reliant, but they also teach you to give back, and that stays with you.”

Likewise, he’s never really left the Boy Scouts. He served as board president for eight years, for example, and, during that time, merged the Pioneer Valley Council and the Great Trails Council into the Western Massachusetts Council of the Boy Scouts of America. And he’s still on the board.

In addition, he’s been a long-time supporter of a number of agencies, including the United Way, the American Red Cross, Western New England University (he’s a trustee), and a host of veterans’ organization, including Wounded Warriors.

Also on that list is the Children’s Study Home, the oldest nonprofit in Western Mass., which was created in 1865 as the Springfield Home for Friendless Women and Children, serving mostly the widows of Civil War veterans.

He’s served that agency, which provides a host of innovative and educational programs to strengthen children and families, in a number of roles, including the current one — president emeritus.

“That means that, whenever something big happens, they know who to call,” he joked, adding that his son Bill is now on the board.

Buy the Book

Actually, a number of agencies have called Gagnon’s number over the years, generally because he rarely says ‘no,’ but especially because he does much more than simply write a check.

That was the case with Link to Libraries, which, as that name suggests, places books on school-library shelves, but also brings business leaders into the classroom to read and essentially adopt the school in question.

Excel Dryer now sponsors two schools, and eight people at Excel volunteer to read, he said, adding that this is a company-wide effort that goes beyond read-alouds. Indeed, the company has funded a field trip to Sturbridge Village and other initiatives. And, as noted, Gagnon has encouraged others, including Barrows, to become involved and sponsor schools themselves.

Susan Jaye-Kaplan, founder of Link to Libraries and one of the first Difference Makers brought to the stage at the Log Cabin back in 2009, said Gagnon’s involvement with LTL is a good example of how he immerses himself in a cause and offers support that goes well beyond a cash contribution.

“He’s one of the most humble and caring men that I know,” said Jaye-Kaplan, who was one of many to invoke the phrase ‘role model’ as she talked about Gagnon. “He has never forgotten where he comes from or the people who helped make him the man he is today.

“He’s a man who not only sees the need, but takes action,” she went on. “He is very empathetic to those people in need and especially the young people of our community.”

Cassidy agreed, and put to use some of the same words and phrases others would deploy as they talked about Gagnon: ‘quiet,’ ‘humble,’ ‘generous,’ ‘impressive,’ ‘family man,’ and ‘inspiring,’ to name a few.

“He works quietly and mostly behind the scenes,” he said. “I’ve taken a lot of inspiration from him throughout my career from the way he works with people, the way he deals with adversity, and especially his generosity to the community.”

Barrows, who’s been doing business in Western Mass. for more than 40 years now, went so far as to put Gagnon in the same company (and sentence) as the late Dick Stebbins, the long-time regional president of BayBank whom most credit with setting the standard locally when it comes to community service, and said Gagnon is essentially the standard bearer for his generation.

Stebbins and Gagnon had different platforms in the business community — the former with a large public corporation, and the latter with a much smaller, family-owned company, but both worked in essentially the same way, Barrows explained.

“When I think of the people of that stature in today’s Pioneer Valley business community, I think of John and Steve Davis, and I think of Denis Gagnon,” he explained, adding that there may be others he is less familiar with.

“Denis is a little more private, a little more anonymous with his work in the community,” he went on. “But his actions speak very loudly. He’s a major player, and he inspires others with what he does and how he does it.”

Suzor agreed, noting that, in his philanthropic efforts, as with his business exploits, Gagnon takes a measured, results-driven approach to his giving.

“Even with his generosity, he would want to know the plan — ‘if I’m giving you money, what are you going to do with it? How are you going to use it? And how are you going to measure how successful you are at using it?’” he explained. “He’s a very bright businessman who always says, ‘let’s do what makes sense, and let’s not do what doesn’t make sense,’ and it was the same with his work in the community.”

Cut and Dried

In Business and the Community, Denis Gagnon Is a Role Model
That’s the Ticket

Returning to the subject of the Patriots and the various perks derived from that relationship, Gagnon noted that the company now has several season tickets.

In what should come as no surprise to anyone who knows him, Gagnon doesn’t use them much himself. (In fact, by late December, he had taken in only the Rams game a few weeks earlier, and that very ugly loss to Buffalo in early October, when Brady was still serving his Deflategate ‘vacation,’ as the quarterback called it).

Indeed, as any smart businessperson would, he bestows most of those tickets on very good customers and those who may attain such status. But he also puts them to use within the community — he donates tickets to the Boy Scouts, for example, for one of its fund-raisers, and, through his son Denis Jr., a board member with the United Way, that organization has received a few as well.

That’s a small example, but one of many, of someone who very quietly and humbly goes about his business — or businesses, as the case may be.

There’s the one that makes electric dryers, and then there’s the business of giving back to the community.

He’s, well, very hands-on, as one might say, with both — and certainly making a difference across Western Mass. in every sense of that phrase.

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

Daily News

AMHERST — OrthoLite, a leading provider of comfort and performance insoles, announced three new additions to its marketing and sales team, including Dan Legor as director of Marketing; Andy Downes as sales manager, Key Accounts; and Matt Hennessey as sales manager, Performance East. These new appointments will support OrthoLite’s dedication to strengthening partner relationships across the globe.

In his new role, Legor will manage all aspects of marketing while elevating the brand’s global marketing and branding strategies. As an accomplished senior marketing professional, he brings more than 20 years of experience to OrthoLite. Most recently, he was the director of E-commerce at Lindt & Sprungli, and prior to that he was the head of U.S. Marketing at ECCO Shoes, senior Marketing manager at Timberland, and Retail Marketing manager at the Rockport Co.

Downes brings more than 20 years of product and sales experience to OrthoLite, and was most recently the Key Account sales manager for Inov-8 footwear. During his 13 years at Nike, he held sales and product-related roles in a variety of business units such as Running Specialty, Custom Footwear, and Special Make-up Groups. From Nike, he joined Adidas as category manager, Running Footwear for several years before moving to Innov-8.

Hennessey brings more than 16 years of senior-level sales and development experience to OrthoLite and most recently was the Product Development manager at Sperry. Prior to Sperry, he was a senior Development manager at Under Armour Footwear and a senior developer at New Balance Footwear, along with holding the National Sales manager position at Xterra.

“We’re thrilled to have these dynamic professionals joining our team and helping to drive continued growth within each of the key sales channels,” said Pamela Gelsomini, OrthoLite president. “The number-one priority of the sales and marketing team is to help our footwear partners sell more shoes by delivering the most comfortable product to their consumers. This has fueled our success together over the years, so we will continue to invest in ways to help each of these brands exceed their goals with OrthoLite. Dan’s deep leadership experience in brand strategy will help to shape new marketing initiatives with our footwear partners and with the brand overall. Andy and Matt also share OrthoLite’s unwavering commitment to deliver world-class service and collaborative support.”

Departments Picture This

Email ‘Picture This’ photos with a caption and contact information to [email protected]

Super 60

Super 60

More than 500 guests gathered at Chez Josef in Agawam on Oct. 28 for the Super 60 awards luncheon, presented by the Springfield Regional Chamber to honor the region’s fastest-growing privately owned companies. This year’s top honoree in the Total Revenue category was Stavros Center for Independent Living Inc. in Amherst, while the top honoree in Revenue Growth was Lavishlyhip, LLC in Feeding Hills. The event’s keynote speaker was Tree House Brewing co-founder Dean Rohan.

 

Justin Pelis, board treasurer of Stavros Center for Independent Living

From left, Justin Pelis, board treasurer of Stavros Center for Independent Living; Ashley Allen, vice president of Sales and Marketing for Health New England; Nancy Bazanchuk, board vice president of Stavros; and John Patrick, president and CEO of Farmington Bank

 

Bill Grinnell, president of Webber

Bill Grinnell, president of Webber and Grinnell Insurance (left), and Richard Venne, CEO and president of Community Enterprises

From left, Allen; Jay Ray, president of Detector Technology Inc.; and Patrick

From left, Allen; Jay Ray, president of Detector Technology Inc.; and Patrick

Daily News

EAST LONGMEADOW — HUB International New England, a division of HUB International Limited, announced that, effective Dec. 1, Timm Marini, will lead the Personal Lines Division for HUB International New England. This is in addition to his responsibilities of overseeing the Western Mass. offices and serving on HUB’s executive management team.

Marini will lead the Personal Lines teams, which consist of close to 150 employees in more than 20 offices located throughout Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, and Rhode Island. His areas of focus will be developing and implementing sales and marketing strategies that result in value and pricing options while always meeting the underlying goal of “delighting the customer.”

“Developing an exceptional team is imperative in this fast-paced, technology-driven industry,” said Charles Brophy, CEO and Regional President, Eastern Region of HUB International New England. “The first person that came to mind for this position, without a doubt, was Timm Marini. His vision, leadership abilities, skillful thinking, discipline, and tact for customer service will be a great benefit for HUB New England as we continue to grow and expand into new markets.”

HUB New England was built through partnerships with long-standing, local brokerages housing years of experience in consulting on property and casualty insurance, personal insurance, and employee-benefits programs for New England businesses and individuals. As a full-service brokerage, HUB New England has access to the resources of a large, international company with local service and expertise.

Features

Moving Forward

wmassbusinesslogo2016

Workforce development and entrepreneurship.

Many issues, developments, trends, and concerns have come to the forefront — and dominated the headlines in BusinessWest — in recent years, but none more than these two.

Virtually every business sector and individual company in the region is faced with the considerable challenges of closing the skills gap, replacing the retiring Baby Boomers, and coping with multiple generations in the same office or manufacturing floor.

Meanwhile, the region is seeing a surge in entrepreneurial energy that is helping startups get off the runway, climb to a cruising altitude, or pick up needed speed on their way to a desired destination.

Thus, the floor of the Western Mass. Business Expo on Nov. 3 will, among other things, put these intriguing developments into sharp focus.

Of course, there will be plenty of other things to occupy the time and imagination of Expo-goers, from breakfast and lunch programs to educational programming on sales and marketing, tech trends, Big Data, and other topics; more than 100 exhibitors; and the day-capping Expo social, one of the best networking events of the year.

“This will be a day packed with activity from start to finish,” said Kate Campiti, associate publisher at BusinessWest, which is now in its sixth year of producing the Expo. “Business owners and managers need to circle Nov. 3 on their calendars and clear whatever was on for the date so they can spend the day at the MassMutual Center.”

But now, back to the future — as in the future of the region’s workforce and the future of the area’s business community and some of the companies that may shape it. These will be two of the main focal points of the Expo.

It’s called the Workforce of Tomorrow Hub, and that name speaks volumes about what will take shape on this large segment of the Expo show floor.

The Hub will be, well, a hub, with activity all morning and afternoon. It will include everything from robotics demonstrations and training initiatives involving area vocational and technical high schools to booths featuring businesses and agencies focused on workforce development, to a seminar series focused on today’s multi-generational workforce.

Individual seminars will focus on the art and science of recruiting, training, and retaining top talent; motivating the Millennial generation; methods for getting the four generations at work today to function cohesively, and much more.

“Every business is struggling to attract and retain top talent; the skills gap is a formidable challenge,” said Campiti. “The Expo will bring together experts on the subject of workforce development to offer timely and invaluable insight into how to build, maintain, and maximize a company’s best asset — its workforce.”

Meanwhile, in other corners of the show floor, the focus will be on entrepreneurship and various initiatives taking place across the region.

Programming includes a panel discussion on ongoing efforts to build and refine an entrepreneurial ecosystem, a ‘where are they now’ panel featuring several high-profile participants in Valley Venture Mentors’ accelerator program, and a pitch contest, conducted by SPARK Holyoke, featuring several area startups.

“The efforts to stimulate entrepreneurship and mentor startups is one of the most important components of the region’s economic-development strategy,” said Campiti. “The Expo will shine a light on these efforts, while also providing attendees an opportunity to meet and hear about some of the entrepreneurs they’ve read and heard so much about.”

The Western Mass. Business Expo will again be presented by Comcast Business. Other sponsors include Express Employment Professionals, Health New England, the Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst, Johnson & Hill Staffing Services, MGM Springfield, Wild Apple Design, the Western Mass. Economic Development Council, Savage Arms, the Better Business Bureau, and the Regional Employment Board of Hampden County. The event’s media partners are WMAS, WHMP, and Rock 102/Laser 99.3. Additional sponsorship opportunities are available.

Exhibitor spaces are also available; booth prices start at $725. For more information on sponsorships or booth purchase, call (413) 781-8600, ext. 100. For more details, go HERE

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — White Lion Brewing Co., in collaboration with Williams Distributing and the Student Prince and the Fort, will commemorate the Eastern States Exposition’s 100th anniversary with an exclusive centennial ale.

This limited-quantity Kolsch ale will be featured at one of the newest Big E venues from Sept. 16 through Oct. 2: the Wurst Haus, located near the New England Center and the Coliseum, where the Student Prince and the Fort will feature its German menu.

“We are happy to share our appetite of delivering quality food and beverage to festival goers that have been supporting the Eastern States Exposition for 100 years,” said Andy Yee, the restaurant’s managing partner. “In our inaugural year, it made sense for us to partner with community-committed companies such as White Lion Brewing and Williams Distributing as a way to further enhance the overall experience.”

Heather Gawron, operations and sales manager at White Lion Brewing Co., added that “White Lion is very excited to be part of the centennial celebration and be showcased at New England’s largest fair. To stand with a regional pioneer, the Eastern States Exposition, and two great community partners, Williams Distributing and the Student Prince and Fort restaurant, is a historical moment for our brand. Our brewer, Mike Yates, worked with the Student Prince and Fort restaurant to determine what style would complement the German-themed venue. Fittingly, the beer will be called Eastern States Exposition Centennial Ale: Kolsch. The beer will be a light-bodied and crisp golden ale, brewed with German hops and malts.”

Anthony Frasco, director of sales and marketing for Williams Distributing, noted that, “as a long-standing partner with the Eastern States Exposition, we felt this celebratory occasion was worthy of a commemorative brew, and to see it come to fruition under a Western Mass. collaborative made it all the more special.”

The beer will officially debut at a kick-off party hosted by the Student Prince and the Fort on Thursday, Sept. 1. There will be limited availability to accounts looking to showcase the Eastern States Exposition Centennial Ale: Kolsch in Western Mass.

Features

A Focus on ‘Tomorrow’

WMassBusinessLogo2016

The Western Mass. Business Expo, produced by BusinessWest since 2011, has always put an accent on the future when it comes to programming and exhibits.

But this year, that emphasis will be taken to a still-higher level, said Kate Campiti, the magazine’s associate publisher. And this is out of necessity.

“Anticipating the future and preparing for it have always been stern challenges for all business owners,” she explained. “But now, these assignments take on even more urgency because the business world is changing rapidly and there are many powerful forces that will shape the competitive landscape in the years — and even the weeks — to come.

“These include everything from evolving technology, which presents a host of challenges and opportunities, to the emergence of younger generations, especially the difficult-to-read Millennials, in leadership positions, to a host of new social and employment issues that business owners and managers must face,” she went on.

All these focal points and more will take center stage at the Expo, set for Nov. 3 at the MassMutual Center in downtown Springfield. Details of the day-long event are still being finalized, but the broad themes have been identified, and organizers are now filling in the canvas. Here’s what we know:

• The Expo’s overriding emphasis will be on the future, meaning the short term, long term, and intermediate term, because business owners must keep their focus on all three.
• There will be a special accent on what would have to be called the ‘workforce of tomorrow,’ with emphasis on the issues facing all employers — those of quantity and quality.
• Education will again be one of the main stress points of the Expo, with three stages, or rooms, for informative seminars — one to focus on sales and marketing, another on emerging trends in the workplace, and the third on the younger generation now coming of age in the business community.
• Innovation will also be on display, and in many different forms, from robotics demonstrations to exhibitors on the cutting edge of technology and manufacturing.
• The Expo will again put the region’s business sectors in the spotlight. More than 150 companies of all sizes are expected to exhibit on the show floor, gaining the attention of more than 2,000 visitors.
• Also in the spotlight will be many of the emerging startups across the region — the Expo exhibitors of the future, if you will — that are taking full advantage of the services now available to them through a burgeoning entrepreneurial ecosystem.
• Networking, networking, networking: there will be opportunities for this most important of exercises at the day-opening breakfast, again presented by the Springfield Regional Chamber of Commerce; at a lunch presented by BusinessWest; on the show floor; and at the popular, event-capping Expo Social.

“Since BusinessWest began producing the Expo five years ago, the basic strategy has been the same — to provide a value-laden event that will help business owners and managers gain exposure and also gain insight that will make them ever-more competitive in this increasingly global economy,” said Campiti. “For this year, the mission is the same, and this is shaping up as the biggest, best Expo ever.”

For details on the Expo as they emerge, and for sponsorship and exhibitor opportunities, visit www.wmbexpo.com.

What: The 2016 Western Mass. Business Expo

When: Thursday, Nov. 3

Where: The MassMutual Center, Main Street, Springfield

Features: More than 150 exhibitor booths; educational seminars; breakfast hosted by the Springfield Regional Chamber of Commerce; lunch hosted by BusinessWest; day-capping Expo Social

Sponsors: Comcast Business (presenting sponsor); Express Employment Professionals; Health New England; Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst; Johnson & Hill Staffing Services; MGM Springfield; Wild Apple Design

 

 

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — The Advertising Club of Western Massachusetts will hold a press conference on Friday, Aug. 19 at 10 a.m. at TD Bank Conference Center, located on the first floor of 1441 Main St., Springfield, to officially announce the 101st William Pynchon Award recipients.

The Ad Club confers the Order of William Pynchon and the Pynchon Medal upon citizens of Western Mass. who have rendered distinguished service to the community. Recipients are nominated each year by members of the community, and are chosen by unanimous decision of the Pynchon trustees, who include the current president and five past presidents. The 2016 trustees include Gary Czelusniak, marketing consultant at gczinc.com; Nancy Urbschat, principal at TSM Design; Barbara Perry, vice president of sales and marketing, Envision Marketing Group; Jillian Gould, customer marketing manager, Yankee Candle Co. Inc.; Teresa Utt, director, nonprofit marketing and senior account executive at Andrew Associates Inc.; and David Cecchi, principal, Cecco – the Design Office of David Cecchi.

Recipients have been asked to invite family, friends, and the nominator(s) to share in the official announcement on Aug. 19. Each recipient will have the opportunity say a few words to the gathering of media, guests, Pynchon trustees, and Ad Club board members. This press conference is free and open to the public, although seating is limited.

This year’s 101st William Pynchon Award Celebration is scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 27 at the Log Cabin in Holyoke. Details and ticket information will be posted at www.adclub.org.

Departments People on the Move
Jon Lumbra

Jon Lumbra

The Dowd Insurance Agencies announced the appointment of Chief Financial Officer Jon Lumbra. He will be responsible for directing the fiscal operations of the business and supervising the accounting department. In addition, he will assist in the planning, establishing, and maintaining of current systems and procedures. “We are pleased to welcome Jon to the team,” said David Griffin Sr., executive vice president and treasurer of the Dowd Insurance Agencies. “He is an excellent strategic and cultural fit whose breadth and depth of knowledge will help strengthen our brand and provide the best service to our customers and employees.” Lumbra brings nearly two decades of experience in financial services to the Dowd Insurance Agencies. His past experience includes working for Loomis Communities, the city of Holyoke, and Spectrum Analytical. He is a graduate of Southern Vermont College with a degree in criminal justice and minor in corporate espionage. He is currently working toward his MBA at the University of Southern New Hampshire. “The Dowd Insurance Agencies is one of the oldest insurance agencies in Massachusetts, and its headquarters remain in the city of Holyoke, where the business was started 118 years ago,” said John Dowd Jr., president and CEO of the Dowd Agencies. “Making positive contributions to the success of our community has always been important to us, which is why Jon is a great addition to our business. He has demonstrated these shared values by volunteering his time to support many organizations — many of which are based in Holyoke, Jon’s hometown.” Lumbra is president of the Knights of Columbus Council #90 board of directors, former executive board member of the Massachusetts Government Finance Officers Assoc., a member of the Holyoke Taxpayers Assoc., and a member of the Taxpayer Advocacy Panel Federal Advisory Committee. He is also immediate past chairman of the Holyoke Visiting Nurse Assoc. & Community Health Foundation, immediate past president of the Holyoke Rotary Club, and member of the Holyoke Medical Center board of directors.

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Teresa Spaziani

Teresa Spaziani

The Gray House announced the appointment of Teresa Spaziani as the new Executive Director of the organization. In 2009, while attending Western New England University, Spaziani began volunteering at Kids’ Club, an after-school program for children from low-income families run by the Gray House, and soon after became a staff counselor for the program. In January 2015, she joined the organization’s board of directors. “After arriving in Springfield for college, I immediately immersed myself in the community through volunteer work and was so impressed by the people and services of the Gray House,” she said. “It is a true community program in every sense. I’m proud to be a part of the organization and work alongside our dedicated staff and volunteers to further the mission of the Gray House.” Spaziani’s brings experience in nonprofit fund-raising as former community relations and outreach manager at the Children’s Study Home in Springfield. There, she also gained experience in licensing and compliance as quality assurance manager. Her most recent role was in the field of marketing at Market Mentors in West Springfield. She holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration in marketing/communications and advertising from Western New England University as well as a certificate in professional fund-raising from Boston University. She graduated from Leadership Pioneer Valley with the class of 2015. An open house will be held at the Gray House, 22 Sheldon St., Springfield on Wednesday, Aug. 24. Members of the community are invited to stop by from 8 to 9 a.m. and noon to 2 p.m. to meet the staff and learn more about the services offered, as well as volunteer opportunities.

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The Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce (AACC) board of directors announced the appointment of Timothy O’Brien as Executive Director, effective Aug. 1. He will assume responsibility for representing the chamber’s diverse business interests in the community, directing the organization’s growth, and maintaining the chamber’s financial stability and commitment to providing value to its members. “Tim brings a wealth of experience and the needed energy and commitment to the Amherst area to serve all of our members,” said Julie Marcus, board president. The appointment had the unanimous support of the board’s executive committee. “I am honored to help lead the Amherst Area Chamber team and excited to continue my career in destination marketing as part of this outstanding organization,” O’Brien said. “I look forward to working with the board, staff, and AACC members in writing the next chapter of the chamber’s influential history.” O’Brien has been active in the Western Mass. destination-marketing industry since 1987. He has served as communications director with the Greater Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau as well as serving on that agency’s board of directors. He held top marketing and communications positions with Yankee Candle and Kringle Candle, as well as providing marketing services to the Yankee Candle founder Michael Kittredge and his family, charity, and business interests. O’Brien holds bachelor’s degree in resource economics from UMass Amherst.

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Margo Armstrong

Margo Armstrong

Tighe & Bond recently welcomed Director of Human Resources Margo Armstrong to lead its human-resources functions, as well as strengthen the firm’s staffing growth and employee programs. She brings with her more than 20 years of high-level leadership experience in HR consulting, performance management, succession planning, and employee programs. She will work primarily out of the firm’s Westfield office. “We are delighted to welcome Margo to the Tighe & Bond team at this significant juncture of our accelerated growth. She is an accomplished HR leader who will strengthen employee-related programs across our organization,” said David Pinsky, Tighe & Bond CEO and president. Armstrong has held a variety of senior human-resources and change-leadership roles in several prominent and high-performing businesses. This includes overseeing performance management, employee recognition, talent review, and succession planning; HR planning and analysis; and HR consulting. Known for possessing a strategic business focus and technical expertise, her knowledge base includes influencing and leading in complex and rapidly changing environments. Armstrong holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Alfred University and a master’s degree in industrial/organizational psychology from the University of New Haven. She is a member of the Society for Human Resource Management.

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With the goal of accelerating growth in international markets, OMG Roofing Products has created market manager positions for both Asia and Europe and promoted two executives into these roles. Kingbill Zhao, Asia Market Manager, is based in China and will support the Greater Asian market. Lennard Spirig, Europe Market Manager, is based in Switzerland, servicing the European market. Both are responsible for all OMG sales and marketing activities in their regions, including developing products and services tailored to local market needs. Zhao joined OMG in 2009 as a roofing specialist and was promoted to China sales manager in 2011, where he was responsible for launching the OMG Roofing Products line in China. Since then, he has built a sales and customer-service organization in China to support the company’s rapidly growing business. Prior to joining OMG, he was the international department manager for the China Waterproofing Assoc., where he worked with other international counterparts like National Roofing Contractors Assoc. and the Germany Roofing Contractors Assoc. to market the China Roofing & Waterproofing Show internationally. In addition, he organized Chinese company visits to the U.S. and Europe, and worked with organizations like FM Global and FLL to introduce approvals and standards to China. Spirig joined OMG in 2014 as Europe product marketing manager, responsible for marketing OMG products throughout Europe. Since then, he has been a great resource for helping to expand OMG’s footprint in Europe by assisting system manufacturer partners and developing new distribution in various European countries. Prior to joining OMG, he spent 10 years as product manager for mechanical attachment with SFS Intec. Earlier, he had been an international key account manager based in Mexico. “OMG’s products are designed to enhance rooftop productivity and improve roof-system performance,” said Web Shaffer, vice president of Marketing. “Lennard and Kingbill will be highly focused on developing value-added products and services that meet local market needs in order to accelerate our growth in Europe and Asia respectively, and I look forward to continuing to work with these two outstanding individuals.”

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Chris Jablonski

Chris Jablonski

Mark Melikian

Mark Melikian

HZ Electric Supply (formerly Hampden Zimmerman Electric), a New England electrical distributor, announced the promotion of Chris Jablonski and Mark Melikian to Branch Managers. Jablonski (in the Northampton branch), and Melikian (Pittsfield) will manage the selling and warehousing of company products, as well as planning, administering, and controlling day-to-day operations. “Both Chris and Mark have been instrumental in the growth of business, and we are proud to recognize their contributions with these promotions,” said Regional President Mark Lauria. Jablonski graduated from UMass Dartmouth and John Cabot University in Rome, Italy. He earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing with a minor in international business. He is also a member of Enactus and the National Assoc. of Electrical Distributors. Upon completion of his degree, Jablonski worked for two years as marketing manager of Hampden Zimmerman before entering the USESI 18-month management-trainee program. Melikian is a graduate of Salve Regina University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in English communications. After being employed in the real-estate and retail industries, he interned at HZ in the marketing department the summer after his junior year at Salve Regina. After graduation the following year, he completed the USESI 18-month management-trainee program.

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Monique Matz

Monique Matz

HUB International New England, a division of HUB International Limited, a global insurance-brokerage, risk-advisory, and employee-benefits firm, announced the hiring of two new employees in its East Longmeadow office. Monique Matz has joined as Commercial Lines Service Manager, and Jennifer Robinson as employee Benefits Account Manager. Matz joins HUB International with several years of underwriting and commercial-lines experience. At HUB International, her role is to provide service to medium to large commercial insurance accounts of moderate to high complexity. Acting as the primary liaison between the client and insurance carrier, she coordinates all facets of the clients’ needs from the initial setup procedures to audit processing to policy review. She handles day-to-day client requests while staying focused on meeting the needs of clients, carriers, and client executives. Robinson has been in the insurance industry for many years and has experience in the customer-service and data-management fields. As part of the employee benefits team, she will work to help employers maintain their employee-benefits packages, and acts as a guide and reference tool for their HR managers. She handles client inquiries and works closely in assisting the producers with new business and sales initiatives.

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