Bucks Blog

Bucks Blog

Here is the Bucks Blog, used to talk about current events and such.

A nationally recognized tax expert and entrepreneur, Len Green, President of the Green Group, spoke at a recent meeting to engage and discuss with Bucks members philosophies and approaches to building successful businesses.

Admitting that about a third of the companies he has owned have failed, Mr. Green spoke about what he learned from these experiences and how it has helped him grow other businesses into successful ones.

Some of the tips and suggestions offered by Mr. Green included:

- Know why you are going into a certain business. What is the basis for it? Many successful businesses are successful because the owners like what they do.

- Be open to bartering. Mr. Green was involved in creating a T.V. trivia game and he secured some free advertising in certain mediums by offering those mediums a percent of ownership in the company.

- Be smarter than your competition. In responding to a question about operating in a City with heavy regulations, Mr. Green reminded the audience that your competitors are "in the same boat as you." See what they are doing. Do it better. And perhaps create your own niche. Attempt to differentiate your service or profession.

- One of the main keys to success as noted by Mr. Green is to hire smart people and empower them to make decisions. Reward them and give them incentives to help build your company.

- As for preparing an exit strategy for your business, Mr. Green advised that this should be done after determining what your business goal is: keeping the business in the family, going public with it, or perhaps building it up and then selling it.

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James Prendamano of Cassandra Properties spoke recently at the club about the company's newest development, Riverside Galleria, to be located off Arthur Kill Road near the waterfront by the Outerbridge Bridge.

Cassandra Properties is a 30 year old Staten Island company associated with the some of the largest development projects occurring on Staten Island such as Empire Outlets which is adjacent to the NY Wheel being built along the waterfront in St. George; URBY in Stapleton; and The Pointe.

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Stating that Staten Island has 1.2 million dollars of unmet retail demand, Mr. Prendamano discussed the uniqueness of Riverside Galleria and the amenities that will make it a regional attraction including a dine-in luxury movie theater, waterfront dining options, ample parking, retail shops, a high end supermarket, and open space such as walking trails through the nearby wetlands.

Riverside Galleria is a 400,000 square project and one example of how Cassandra Properties is helping, as stated by Mr. Prendamano, "change the way people view Staten Island real estate."


As a decades long attorney in general practice on Staten Island with the Otterbeck Law Firm, Harold Otterbeck spoke before the club recently to talk about issues related to preparing your finances and desires for the inevitable end of life. Saying anyone who has money should have a will, Harold discussed how to leave instructions via a legal document on your assets for distribution, the importance and benefits of having a health care proxy, a power of attorney document, and background on what a trust (and the types available) provides you legally.


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"The Customer is Always Right," "You need to be able to manage cash flow", and "Your employees are your greatest assets" were three examples of business insights longtime member, Bob Cutrona of Project One, shared during a recent Bucks meeting.

Beginning with describing his childhood as an embarrassment of riches, not in personal financial wealth, but wealth of happiness and support from his family, Bob described his upbringing, his degree in accounting and the subsequent positions that resulted from that degree from being the Vice President of Planning for Gulf and Western Industries to the Vice President of Finance for Ralph Lauren. After realizing that corporate America was not where he wanted to continue professionally, Bob become part of the franchise cleaning conglomerate, Maintenance King. From there he opened his own service company which started as a cleaning company and expanded to lawn maintenance, landscape design and installation, and eventually snowplowing services. Bob was also a principal in an adjacent business, Priority One, a court reporting service which was eventually bought by the largest court reporting services company on the East Coast.

Project One is fortunate to have a multitude of clients covering schools, shopping centers, the Richmond County Ball Park, local hotels, and many charitable institutions. 

Bucks member, Nick Asaro of Trade Mart Interiors, recently spoke before the club membership describing the types of services offered by the 45 year old family business he runs.

What started as a firm focusing on upholstery has grown to a company offering a wide range of services to outfit any home or commercial space such as window treatments, drapery, table pads, and design consultation. The company offers a "shop at home" feature where Trade Mart's design staff visits your home or commercial space to take photos and measurements to offer opinions and products that will suit your dwelling.

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Responding to a variety of questions from members, Nick discussed his ability to make drapery and other commercial products meet the fire code, his recommendations on where to purchase quality furniture, and the company's ability to deliver custom products such as furniture and enhancements.

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Bucks member, Gregg Iliceto, CPA, discussed tax tips with the club membership at a recent meeting.

Gregg advised members to look for opportunities to make equipment purchases for your business that can be deducted on your tax filings. Gregg often advises clients to do this before the year's end because a company can save money by purchasing needed equipment such as trucks and heating and air conditioning units that results in an expense that is fully tax deductible.

Additionally, Gregg used his remarks to warn club members to consider getting a PIN number from the IRS to protect from people fraudulently filing on your company's behalf to gain the proceeds from your company's filing. This happens when unscrupulous individuals get someone's social security number. They use the number to make up fax tax filing documents and file them on your behalf.

Lastly, Greg discussed changes to the filing schedule for different corporation structures for next year.




Meagan Devereaux, the Director of Business Development for the Staten Island Chamber of Commerce, spoke to our members this month about the benefits of being a member of the Chamber.

Using several statistics, such as that over 100,000 people are visiting the websites of Chamber members having first visited the Chamber's Consumer Guide, Meagan discussed the value of being a member of the Chamber through promotion of your business through materials such as the Consumer Guide and the Chamber's referral program. Additionally, members have access to a Help Desk to assist in resolving issues with government agencies and other outlets and enjoy a "member to member" discount program that is available to themselves and their employees.

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The Staten Island Chamber of Commerce is proud to also host a variety of community programs such as: a Veterans Discount program in conjunction with Assemblyman Cusick, the Young Entrepreneurs Program that allows high school students to design their own business\market their own product or service, and a program with NYC Small Business Services where they are currently collaborating on an initiative, " Chamber on the GO," which is aimed at SBS coming to business owners with their business support services.

Meagan also reminded the group that the Chamber is 120 years strong and, as a result, has an institutional memory and history on the issues important to local business owners and all Staten Islanders such as transportation, the environment, and economic development. The Chamber spends a good of their time lobbying on the issues of important to our community.

Announcing changes he will be making in his business soon, Butch Galante of Galante Home Improvement, spoke to club members at a recent meeting about the importance of designing an exit plan for your business.

Butch began his career working in the maritime industry on the local docks and then as a deckhand on the Staten Island Ferry. This was followed by his entry into the home improvement industry which also involved operating a wood shop.  Realizing that he still enjoyed managing construction projects, but was not interested in the day-to-day business tasks such as managing payroll, insurance issues, etc., he is building a new relationship with an existing business to enable him to continue his trade. Noting that there comes in a point in your life when it is time to simplify your life he advised members to always look for opportunities to re-design the way you operate your business.

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"Beat the Heart Attack Gene" by Bradley Bale, MD, and Amy Doreen, ARNP, was the topic of discussion at a meeting this month. Bucks member, Dr. Steven Acker of Elite Dental, discussed points in this book and his overall approach to collaborating with primary doctors and cardiologists to collectively assess and treat the signs of coronary disease, stroke, and diabetes.

Beginning with saying there is no better medication than living a health lifestyle, Dr. Acker used his presentation to inform Bucks members that the dental field and medical field can effectively and efficiently work hand-in-hand to assess possible risks patients may have and treat them together. Noting that evidence of gum disease (inflammed gums) has always been a concern to the dental field for some time because it led to loose teeth and bone loss, as the science become more sophisticated, gum disease is now linked to coronary vascular situations. 

Dr. Acker shared some statistics to bear in mind when thinking about your overall health:

- 23 percent of stroker re-occur.

- 1 million people suffer acute coronary events every year.

- For every dollar spent in wellness saves 3.27 million in medical costs.

Reminding our members that you can't be good in your business if you are not good to yourself, Dr. Acker encouraged members to read "Beat the Heart Attack Gene"  and have discussions with primary doctors and cardiologists about additional screenings that can be done to better ascertain coronary risks.

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Dr. Acker is actively looking and very open to forming alliances with Staten Island and regional primary care physicians and cardiologists to treat patients together with a more broad approach.


Bucks member, Dr. Andrew Bienstock, spoke at our meeting recently discussing what led us to his career path and the types of services and products he provides to his patients, as well as his business philosophy.

Dr. Bienstock began his stewardship of Spare Pair Vision Center, a doctor owned and managed facility,  in the year 2000 and worked hard to invest in his new business by hiring new employees, preparing marketing materials and new signage, making courtesy calls to check on his customers, and re-examining his business operations to run the most efficient practice possible.

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Dr. Bienstock is a graduate of both SUNY Binghamton and SUNY College of Optometry and began his career working for eye care businesses but knew that eventually he would want to either buy a practice or build a practice from the ground up.

At Spare Pair, Dr. Bienstock and his staff, provide comprehensive eye care including carefully reviewing and assessing the health of his patients' eyes. His company provides all types of lenses and contacts, including occupational glasses, sports glasses, designer frames, and glasses for petite individuals.



Bucks member, Ed Ellardi of FEMCO, spoke recently about his fire extinguisher business at a weekly meeting.

FEMCO has been family owned since 1950 and provides sales and services for fire extinguishers, smoke detectors and related equipment for a variety of customers including hospitals in the Metropolitan region. A very important service provided by FEMCO is the ability to provide an assessment to both residential customers and commercial customers as to where fire safety equipment such as extinguishers and smoke detectors should be installed. In addition to fire safety equipment, FEMCO provides carbon refilling services.


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Gena Gold attended a weekly meeting of the club this month to discuss the online review platform, Yelp. Her presentation focused on the value of business owners using this site to promote their business.

Genna, an employee of Yelp, shared some interesting facts about Yelp - its users and its value.

For example:

- Yelp has 79 million unique monthly visitors.

- 57 percent of its users are 35 or over; 79 percent have college degrees; and 66 percent earn over 60,000 dollars and up per year.

- 82 percent of people who use Yelp, use it to make purchases.

- 89 percent make purchases within one week of visiting a business on Yelp.

- 80 percent of businesses get 3 star reviews and higher on Yelp.

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As Genna expressed during her remarks, Yelp is a community and a way of life for many consumers therefore it is a good resource for businesses,

Assemblyman Michael Cusick, Assemlyman Joe Borrelli, and Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis, accepted our invitation and visited our club on Wednesday, October 21st to discuss the proposed minimum wage increase to 15 dollars as advocated by Governor Cuomo.

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In a productive exchange with members, the legislators listened to the concerns members had with the increase citing the increase as just another example of how hard it is for some businesses to remain vibrant with escalating costs imposed by the government. Issues such as possible tax credits to offset the wage increase, worker training to improve workers' skills sets, and perhaps a separate wage for teenage workers, were discussed.

The legislators stated that they liked the format of the meeting and the invitation to speak to a pertinent and current issue being discussed that could possibly affect Staten Island businesses. All of the legislators stated they would bring back the groups' concerns and points to Albany when the Governor brings a bill to the Legislature to debate.


Republican candidate for District Attorney, Joan Illuzzi, and Democratic candidate for District Attorney, Michael McMahon, both visited the club this month to share their qualifications for the office they are seeking and outline their vision and plans if elected.

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Candidate Illuzzi has been a prosecutor with the New York County District Attorney's Office for 27 years. Candidate McMahon has been an attorney for decades and is a former Congressman and City Councilman for Staten Island.

Both candidates cited the drug epidemic on Staten Island as one of the most pressing issues facing our community and committed to using all resources available to combat it if elected.

"It's just good business, to do good," were the opening remarks by speaker, Mary Anne Semon, Division Director of the March of Dimes, Staten Island, at a recent Bucks meeting.

Visiting the club to talk about how volunteering, whether it is by the principals of a business or their employees, is a good thing to do to grow and engage your business in the community. Charitable organizations are always looking for individuals and companies to help them conduct programs, raise funds for their organization, and assist them in fulfilling their mission and serving their clients.  Ms. Semon noted that according to the IRS, 85 percent of charitable groups have no paid staff and are all run by volunteers.


Ms. Semon discussed during her remarks that getting involved in community work with charitable groups helped to: enhance skills, win publicity, make new contacts, and bolster employee morale. Several Bucks members noted that their reputation was enhanced by serving on boards and participating in volunteer projects, noting that despite the benefits they enjoyed being involved in the community and giving back.



Offering ways for employees to live a healthy lifestyle was the main topic of Wednesday's meeting with remarks given by Pauline Ferrante of New York City Office of Health and Mental Hygiene.

Ms. Ferrante discussed ideas and asked questions with respect to employing a healthy workforce. Bringing in healthy food for lunch, offering exercise classes during lunch hours, or installing walking stations where both exercise and work can be performed at the same time, were the types of suggestions offered to improve the overall health of employees. Oftentimes, health insurance companies offer wellness programs for their insured individuals.

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The New York City Office of Health and Mental Hygiene is divided into a variety of divisions including Mental Health and a Drug\Alcohol Prevention.


James LaPiedra of Amerishield, a Certified Financial Planner, discussed with the Bucks group this month the now number one crime in the United States - Identity Theft.

Stating there were 13.1 million identity theft victims in the United States in 2014, Mr. LaPiedra warned Bucks members that oftentimes - apathy, ignorance, and inaction - contribute to a person experiencing an identity theft or fraud problem in their everyday life.  Mr. LaPiedra explained that unscrupulous individuals use various ways to steal your identity including burglary, combing through public records, retrieving data from discarded equipment, stealing mail, and going through garbage for example.  Those looking to steal your identity are looking for your social security number, date of birth, driver's license, and other simliar items that will assist in accessing your current financial accounts or even opening up new ones. Mr. LaPiedra also noted that medical identity theft is also on the rise with people accessing your medical providers to obtain services.

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There are ways to be proactive by checking credit reports and other key documents associated with your personal or business affairs that can be monitored to avoid becoming a victim of this crime.

Ed Fucini of Chris Limo described the changing industry he is part of - the car service industry - at a recent meeting. With the advent of UBER, a car service app that you can access on your phone providing you with a car to pick you up, often in 30 seconds, the car service industry is rapidlly changing.

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According to Ed, there are 14,000 UBER vehicles operating in New York City, the first time another taxi type service outnumbered the number of yellow cab medallions. Although recognizing that car service companies are in competition with this new car service trend, Chris Limo prides itself in the line of luxury car service options he provides and his ability to cater to international travelers that arrive at regional airports. Many international travelers don't use the UBER app because it is not set up in a way to accommodate travelers coming from other countries who need car service upon arrival at a NYC airport.

Chris Limo has been in business for 25 years and Ed has been a member of Bucks for about 10 years.



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