The 1500 business leaders who networked at Trade Brooklyn in Steiner Studios yesterday learned a lot about each other, and even more about what’s happening in Brooklyn – the place to be. The success stories are big and small.
By now most everyone knows that the MTV Awards will be broadcast from Barclays and the ice hockey team is headed to Barclays by 2015. Plans are on the board for a pizza tour. The Navy Yard continues to be a hotbed of activity with thousands of employees and more than 500 tech businesses calling it (and Dumbo) their headquarters. The Brooklyn Army Terminal is active with many businesses on site. Rumors have swirled for some time that the next big frontier for business development is East New York and Brownsville, but we didn’t know that the Democratic National Convention may wend its way to the County of Kings.
All of this is happening, and Borough President Marty Markowitz who was Chief Kindler is overjoyed, but he also knows that the “little guy,” the small businessman is very important to Brooklyn’s rise. “Without small business, you don’t have neighborhoods, without neighborhoods you don’t have a city.”
Markowitz delivered an informal and moving keynote prior to the 5 Borough Business Breakfast panel discussion, moderated by 1010WINS reporter Juliet Papa. On the panel: Jacques Torres, owner, Jacques Torres Chocolates; Howie Glickberg, Vice President, Fairway Market, Robert Walsh, Commissioner, New York City Department of Small Business services and Carlo A. Scissura, President, Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce.
The panel acknowledged the neighborhoods, people, businesses that were impacted by Hurricane Sandy, or as The Brooklyn Progress wrote, “…knocked down, but not for long.”
Brooklynites’ reaction to the devastation wreaked by Sandy Hurricane was given as an example of the potential of the human spirit to rejuvenate and reverse situations, and Glickberg and Torres were, themselves, great examples of that spirit and that “Brooklyn quality.” Glickberg’s large Fairway Market was battered by Sandy, but he decided to rebuild, and keep his employees on the parole. And “Mr. Chocolate”, Jacques Torres, whose small candy business was racked apart, set up hot chocolate stands for the distressed. “I wanted to bring a smile.”
But what about other storms. Is this time to operate a business with everyone in trouble? Papa asked Marty. His honest reply: “Brooklyn is the center of entrepreneurial spirit. But we can’t minimize the fact that small business is hurting.”
Within hours of Sandy’s arrival the Mr. Scissura and Mr. Walsh met to discuss next steps. One idea that came out of that session is being activated right now: the Chamber will help small businesses form merchant associations; there is safety and knowledge in numbers. And there are more ideas for small businesses coming from Team Marty with respect to small business survival in Brooklyn, which is why he was lauded for his direct role in sustaining that “Brooklyn quality.”
“He understands business makes Brooklyn. He is more than a politician, he cares about his job,” said one business owner. Commissioner Walsh agreed using the word so often spoken yesterday. “Marty cares.”
At the event, Rick Zimmerman, Vice President, TD Bank, introduced us to Richard Aviles, son of Victoria and the late Joseph Aviles, owners of the famed Bridge Cleaners.
(As an aside, it’s no secret in our Central Brooklyn neighborhood that when there’s that special something needing delicate dry cleaning, Bridge Street Cleaners is the go-to place. So we were delighted to meet him and hear his story.)
Launched some 45 years ago in a small New Jersey town, the Aviles’ family business has been centralized in Downtown Brooklyn for decades. A Lower Manhattan store is thriving. A new facility is coming to the Terminal. And Mr. Aviles can’t help but tell anyone who likes a little romance about how work-ethic brought together his mom and dad. (Visit www.bridgecleaners.com).
Mr. Aviles summed up their “formula” for success. “We believe in quality, superior service and attention to details. The company spoils its customers. And customers keep coming back for more. And those principles of success are not magic; they can be applied to any small business.” As well as large ones: Mr. Aviles said of his T.D. Bank, “I’m with them because they don’t lose sight of the small businessman. They believe in great service, great solutions, they seem to care about what they do.”
And you need that for any business to survive. Here in Brooklyn there’s a lot of it.
About Trade Brooklyn: As one of the most dynamic business events in the borough, Trade Brooklyn creates opportunities, through seminars and panel discussions, for small business owners to network share success strategies and stories with national corporations, entrepreneurs, non-profits, government agencies, business advocacy groups and the media. It also gives business owners the chance to meet and explore opportunities with the borough’s business leaders and to learn about best business practices from industry experts and share ideas and services. For more information:www.tradebklyn.com (BGreen)