Secrets to being second-gen business owner come to light at ACG event

As president of IMG Business Advisors in Morristown, Michael Givner said he has seen his share of family business issues.

“Family dynamics can be a very challenging aspect of servicing the middle market,” Givner said while moderating a breakfast meeting hosted by the Association for Corporate Growth’s New Jersey chapter on Tuesday at the Pleasantdale Chateau in West Orange.

The four panelists, however, were all there to discuss how they overcame multiple challenges to take their companies to new heights as next-generation business owners.

“I took every single business and psychology course offered at Baruch College,” said Harvey Wexelman, CEO and president of Alwex Inc., a New York City-based independent insurance agency specializing in high net worth individuals and families. “And, once I could prove to (my father and his partner) that I knew more than them, I was given a nice long leash.”

Wexelman’s father and his business partner founded the company in 1991 after leaving their prior agency. Wexelman joined in 1993 — three years prior to his graduating Baruch College.

“I was 19 years old when I was told I had to take over the business because none of the other kids wanted to be involved,” he said. “So, I went to night school and worked every day for four years to learn the business from the ground up.”

Wexelman said he was at first challenged with taking charge of employees who felt as though he had simply had the business handed to him by his father.

“There’s that initial sort of change, when all the employees hate you because they don’t feel like you’ve earned it,” he said. “But I was told to eat what I killed and that the sky was the limit. I received a $16,000 salary when I took over the company and the only additional money I made was business I brought in.

“And, if I wanted to implement new technology or hire more people, that came directly out of my paycheck.”

Darren Slosberg, CEO of Legacy Converting in Cranbury, said he willingly accepted the challenge to transition his father’s company, Nosaj — a distributor of non-woven and paper disposable wiping products founded in 1971 — into a larger, more lucrative manufacturing company in 2007.

“But my brother and I at first wanted nothing to do with our father’s company,” he said.

Slosberg wanted to open a gym, he added. His brother, Jason Slosberg, wanted to become a surgeon.

However, upon learning that one of their father’s partners was stealing from him, the brothers stepped in to help.

“There was an opportunity for both of us to come into the business and help my father navigate the path in which to get rid of this guy,” Slosberg said.

Though their family bonds never wavered, Slosberg said many heated battles followed.

“We had defined roles, but I thought I was running the company while my brother and my father were also thinking the same thing,” he said. “But we always said, look, I’ll do it the way I want, you do it the way you want and, whichever way works best, that’s what we ultimately will go with.

“My father did a very good job at giving my brother and I the autonomy to make a lot of mistakes.”

After six years working with Nosaj, the brothers transitioned into the manufacturing and private labeling of disposable wiping products when they created Legacy Converting.

“The business has grown 12-fold since,” Slosberg said. “Though my brother and I are still 50/50 partners in the company, I run the day-to-day while he takes a year and a half to live on a sailboat in Croatia, sailing the Mediterranean with his wife and kids.

“He wants to explore and do things outside of the company now, but I still love it. I don’t want to leave. But he, too, is helping me to grow, as I figure out how to incorporate such work-life balance.”

John Conforti Jr., president of Air Group in Hanover, said his family dynamics made business more complicated due to having a third sibling involved.

“When my parents would leave for Florida for a few months, we all tried to run the business without them and ultimately it always came down to pandering for the third vote,” he said.

Conforti Jr.’s grandfather and father started the heating, ventilation, air conditioning, electrical and plumbing company for New Jersey customers in 1965.

However, in 1999 — while Conforti Jr. was working in construction as an engineer — his father merged the company with another family business.

“I called my older brother to ask him why he wasn’t putting his foot in the door and he said, ‘Where have you been?’” he said. “So, I moved back to New Jersey so that my brother, my younger sister and I could battle together with how we were going to move forward.”

The siblings would buy out the shares from the other family in 2012, only to struggle with deciding who ultimately was going to run the business.

“We get along now as well as we ever have, but there were meetings with professional psychiatrists,” Conforti Jr. said. “Aside from our own juggling act behind the scenes, though, we also had to gain the confidence of the employees who we still needed to foster a culture with, like the one that had previously been instilled.”

It was nearly four years ago that the family began to trust in each other and their clearly delineated roles, Conforti Jr. said. Even his brother-in-law has joined the business.

“In the end, the bottom line is what it is and, if the company is profitable, everyone in the family is happy,” he said.

Catherine Choi, president of Bulbrite in Moonachie, said she also quickly realized how a trio of siblings working together in a family business was not harmonious.

“For a very short period of time, my sister, my brother and I all worked in the business — and that was not good,” Choi said. “Working with my sister was great, as well as with my brother, but for whatever reason, having all three of us in the same building at the same time did not work.”

Her younger sister, Choi said, has since happily left the business to pursue other life goals, while her younger brother remains as chief strategist to the leading manufacturer and supplier of innovative light source solutions.

“My father immigrated from Korea to New York City to start this business in 1971,” Choi added. “But, because we have a rule that we must work outside of the family business before we can join, I graduated from college, got my MBA and worked out in Hollywood for eight years.

“Then, when I and the business were turning 30, my dad asked me to coffee and said, ‘No pressure, but I’m turning 60 — if you’re interested in coming into the business, now would be the time. If not, I will plan for the next phase, which may include selling.’

“Then he went on to say how he had come to this country empty-handed, without speaking English and without a dollar in his pocket. So, I joined.”

Choi said that, while she worked her way through the company for eight years before becoming president, she, too, struggled with company culture once her father handed over the baton.

“The success of a second generation and generations beyond that has a lot to do with the first generation, I think, and their willingness to be open minded,” she said. “I think a lot of business owners say they are ready to pass the baton, but they hold on to the other end of it for a really long time. Sometimes, I can tell by the look in my father’s eyes that he might want it back, but he very clearly and truly gave over the business to me when he did.”

When an employee asked her how to address a problem, however, Choi said she was taken aback by Choi’s response.

“I said: ‘I don’t know. You’ve been here longer than me. What do you think?’ And she struggled with that, because my dad had made all of the decisions for 30 years,” Choi said. “But Andrew was not the boss anymore.”

Choi said she then set out to redefine Bulbrite’s culture.

“I hired a culture consultant to help us retain the core values that my father’s business was built on, such as integrity and building relationships with partners, but I also wanted to put my own spin on it, too, to encourage our employees to take ownership, to learn and to grow — just like I had.”

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Canadian company pays $40M for Hackensack video software firm

A Canadian enterprise software company has paid $40 million for Vidyo Inc., a Hackensack-based provider of video software solutions, it announced Wednesday.

Enghouse Systems Ltd. said Vidyo has annual revenue of about $60 million and more than 1,700 customers worldwide. Vidyo offers an infrastructure software platform that supports visual communications across a variety of networks and locations, according to a news release on the deal.

“We’re excited to join Enghouse because of the great product fit and our shared vision,” Vidyo Chairman and CEO Michael Patsalos-Fox said in a prepared statement. “Enghouse gives us the opportunity to amplify our product innovation, service and support, making this a great transaction for Vidyo’s customers and partners.”

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10 New Restaurants at the Jersey Shore

Dining room at Iron Whale in Asbury Park. Photo courtesy of Iron Whale

The Jersey Shore’s restaurant scene is constantly evolving. Here are 10 restaurants that have opened since last season, listed from north to south.

Long Branch

This new craft brewpub, located in a repurposed brick warehouse, is a haven for nano-brews, food, art and music. The rotating menu includes burgers, salads, poutine, clam rolls and—of course—several beers, such as IPAs, pale ales and porters.
15 Second Avenue, Long Branch; 732-963-9218

Photo courtesy of Amici

Asbury Park

 This vintage-style Italian café, opened by Rob Castore and Anthony Russo of Brooklyn, offers good coffee, fresh pastries and handmade gelato. More substantial bites include panini, wraps and salads.
630 Mattison Avenue, Asbury Park; 848-226-3700

Asbury Park 

Set to open any day now, the Iron Whale is a new oceanfront restaurant located on the Boardwalk in Asbury Park. Helmed by chef Michael Dolan, the menu is seafood-forward, with seared scallops, jerk shrimp and Rhode Island calamari, as well as spare ribs, fresh salads and an avocado crab toast. The drinks list includes craft beers, cocktails and oyster shooters.
1200 Ocean Avenue, Asbury Park; 732-361-5185

Photo courtesy of Maeberrie Market.


An American bistro serving breakfast and lunch that opened in January, Maeberrie Market offers salads, sandwiches, grain bowls, waffles and more in a quaint setting. Next to the dining room is a boutique shop with flowers, wooden cutting boards, baskets and more.
504 Main Street, Avon-by-the-Sea; 732-807-3279

Shore Pour

Sea Girt 

At this new coffee shop, opened in March, macarons are the focal point. An assorted colorful variety fills the baked goods case. You can also get biscotti, yogurt parfaits, pour-over coffee and espresso drinks.
519 Washington Boulevard, Sea Girt; 732-359-7606


The DeRosa family ran the former Luna DeRosa restaurant and Savor Lounge in Seaside Heights. La Mondina, their new restaurant, opened this spring in Brielle. Look for brick-oven pizza, pastas and classic Italian entrées in a rustic setting.
110 Union Avenue, Brielle; 732-612-8331

Photo courtesy of Local Smoke BBQ

Seaside Heights 

Located within Jax Garage, this is the fourth output of Local Smoke BBQ (other locations are in Neptune City, Cookstown and Red Bank). Enjoy smoked chicken wings, fried pickles, jalapeño poppers, salads and all sorts of barbecued meats: ribs, brisket, pulled pork and more.
116 Sumner Avenue, Seaside Heights; 732-375-3090


Opened on May 1 in the long-awaited Barnegat 67, Pan Asia offers a fitting menu of spring rolls, gyoza, ahi tuna, fried rice, pad Thai and sushi.
770 Lighthouse Drive, Barnegat; 609-622-2286

Anthony’s Ristorante

Sea Isle City

The owner of Anthony’s Ristorante in Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania is set to open a satellite location in Sea Isle this summer in a new multi-use building. Expect traditional Italian favorites like seafood diavolo and spaghetti and meatballs.
Landis Avenue and 44th Street, Sea Isle City

Sea Isle City

Chef and restaurateur Lucas Manteca brings his farm-to-table flair to Sea Isle City with Beachwood at the Dunes, located where Doc Magrogan’s Oyster House used to be. You’ll find all sorts of seafood dishes, from New England lobster bakes to South American crudos to British-style fish and chips.
8600 Landis Avenue, Sea Isle City; 609-263-3627

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Music Fests Jam into South Jersey

Courtesy of Beardfest

Over the past decade, South Jersey has become fertile ground for a burgeoning music festival scene with a mindful vibe. On weekends throughout the warmer months, music lovers of all ages—plus crafters, artisans, holistic healers and more—join musical performers at these cultural events that are more than just concerts. For many performers and attendees, they’re communal experiences.

“They bring like-minded people together,” says Jeremy Savo, singer/guitarist of the band Out of the Beardspace and co-founder/co-director of Beardfest, an annual festival in Hammonton.

“A lot of bands and different artistic collaborations have been spawned at the festival. Bands meet and put on shows together,” says Savo. “An artist meets a band and ends up doing their cover art. People in the yoga community meet and collaborate outside the festival. It’s a place that stimulates a lot of creative activity.”

The oldest of these gatherings, the Delaware Valley Bluegrass Festival, has grown to more than 5,000 attendees a year since launching five decades ago. Most of the South Jersey festivals are much smaller. Camp Jam in the Pines and the Electric Halloween festivals each host up to 1,000 attendees each year. Two of the festivals—the South Jersey Wine & Music Festival and the Suburban Sensi Family Gathering—are new this year.

The festivals tend to be clustered in South Jersey, in large part because of the availability of affordable, festival-friendly spaces. “We’re in the middle of the Pine Barrens,” says Lori Dean-Gibson, one of the organizers of the 20-year-old Camp Jam in the Pines held at Paradise Lakes Campground in Hammonton. Paradise Lakes is home to three of this year’s festivals; Southwind Vineyard in Millville— which discontinued winery operations last year—will host two. These secluded, rural venues are ideal for some of the festival daytime activities, such as morning yoga or environmental-awareness workshops.

Discovering new artists is another festival perk. The bands, a mix of local South Jersey/Philadelphia artists and national touring acts, perform a variety of genres, including jam music, psychedelic rock, folk, bluegrass, jazz and electro house.

All this creative activity comes at a fraction of the cost of major music festivals. Even with the cost of camping included, none run more than $130 for the weekend, and many permit you to bring your own food and drinks into the festival grounds. You may never choose to leave New Jersey to attend a music festival again.

Here’s a look at this year’s festival lineup:

Camp Jam in the Pines

May 16–19
Paradise Lakes Campground, 500 Paradise Drive, Hammonton

Performers: Philthy, Dynamo, Swift Technique, Phillybloco, Gooch and the Motion and others. Special entertainment: Young-artist workshop, face painting, morning yoga, drum circle, fire spinning, tie-dye workshop. Cost, including camping: adults $60-$130; teens 12-16, $35-95; 11 and under free. For more info and tickets, click here.

Courtesy of Appel Farm Arts & Music Center

Appel Farm presents South Jersey Arts & Music Fest

June 1–2
Appel Farm Arts & Music Campus, 457 Shirley Road, Elmer

Performers: Southern Culture on the Skids, Gina Chavez, Williams Honor, Hymn for Her and others. Special entertainment: Arts Camp Pop-Up for kids, music, visual art, dance, STEAM, art of winemaking and more. Cost: single-day $25; two-day $40; two-day plus camping $60; 13 and under free. For more info and tickets, click here.


June 13–15
Paradise Lakes Campground, 500 Paradise Drive, Hammonton

Performers: Out of the Beardspace, the New Deal, Too Many Zooz, Anomalie, the Main Squeeze and others. Special entertainment: Music, art, movement classes, yoga, environmental awareness and more. Cost: general admission, including camping, $130; 12 and under free. For more info and tickets, including VIP and other packages, click here.

South Jersey Wine & Music Festival

June 29–30
Unexpected Farm, 1394 Piney Hollow Road, Newfield

Performers: Stealing Savannah and No Relation Band. Special entertainment: Pony rides, local wine sampling from Bellview Winery and DiMatteo Vineyards. Cost: single-day $30; two-day, including camping, $45; designated driver $15; 18 and under free. For more info and tickets, click here.

Sensi Family Gathering Music & Arts Festival

July 19–20
Southwind Vineyard, 385 Lebanon Road, Millville

Performers: Suburban Sensi, Mephiskapheles, Karina Rykman Experiment, Cheezy & the Crackers, Jah People and others. Special entertainment: Art installations, games, acoustic performances in the campgrounds and more. Cost: two-day, including camping, $75. For more info and tickets, click here.

The Jugband’s Endless Summer Fest

August 8–11
Paradise Lakes Campground, 500 Paradise Drive, Hammonton

Performers: The Jugband, Kount Funkula and the P-Funk Outlawz, Montoj, Badd Kitt and others. Special entertainment: Live band performance Thursday night during arrivals. Cost: Full festival, including camping, $100; one-day $50; 11 and under free. For more info and tickets, click here.

Delaware Valley Bluegrass Festival

August 30–September 1
Salem County Fairgrounds, Woodstown

Performers: Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder, Travelin’ McCourys, Balsam Range, Becky Buller Band, Appalachian Road Show and others. Special entertainment: children’s stage on Saturday; informal jamming in the campground. Cost: Gate price for weekend, including camping, $125; discounts for early purchases. For more info and tickets, click here.

Electric Halloween Festival

October 18–19
Southwind Vineyard, 385 Lebanon Road, Millville

Performers: Lineup of 40+ bands to be announced in June. Special entertainment: magic show, fire performances, wrestling, awards for costumes, decorations and Hallowgames. Cost: weekend pass, including camping, $90; day pass $50. For more info and tickets, click here.

Additionally, these two festivals, each with a very different vibe, will take place in northern New Jersey:

Michael Arnone’s 30th Annual Crawfish Fest

May 31–June 2
Sussex County Fairgrounds, Augusta

Performers: Aaron Neville, the Marcus King Band and Neville Jacobs headline this annual celebration of the music and cuisine of New Orleans. For more info and tickets, click here.

Rock, Ribs and Ridges

June 29–30
Sussex County Fairgrounds, Augusta

Performers: 38 Special and Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes are the featured performers at this music-and-barbecue extravaganza. For more info and tickets, click here.

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How Christopher Gattelli Makes Broadway Move

Tony-winning choreographer Christopher Gattelli surveys the stage at Broadway’s Neil Simon Theatre, where his latest project, The Cher Show, premiered in December. Photo by Axel Dupeux

It’s a Thursday night performance of The Cher Show on Broadway, and dancer Ashley Blair Fitzgerald is upside down in a split, her legs whipping through the air like helicopter blades.

“I call it pliable partnering,” says Fitzgerald, who is spun around in her whirlybird sequence by another member of the ensemble. “You just have to be like putty.”

In fact, Fitzgerald and her fellow Cher Show dancers are all putty in the hands of their choreographer, Christopher Gattelli, a Broadway veteran and resident of Hope Township, in Warren County. 

Over the past decade, Gattelli has been the man behind the moves for shows like Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, South Pacific and The King and I. Career highs include his exhilarating, Tony-winning sequences for Newsies and his 2018, Tony-nominated work on SpongeBob SquarePants and My Fair Lady. He’s collaborated with Julie Andrews—twice­—and most recently choreographed scenes in the comedy film Isn’t It Romantic starring Pitch Perfect actress Rebel Wilson.

Gattelli is something of a choreographic chameleon, able to adapt to his theatrical surroundings and different media. 

“I wouldn’t say that I have a style per se, like a Fosse,” says Gattelli, 46. “I try to find projects that are varied and that give me challenges.”

The Cher Show is no small challenge. The jukebox musical—which opened in December at Manhattan’s Neil Simon Theatre and is expected to run through October 13—spans the six-decade career of the glamorous music, television and film star. Theatergoers marvel at the jaw-dropping Bob Mackie costumes, clap along to Cher’s hits sung by three different actresses, and sway to Gattelli’s dance interpretations. 

Choreographer Christopher Gattelli, center, embraces The Cher Show dancers Christopher Vo and Ashley Blair Fitzgerald on opening night. Photo courtesy of Jenny Anderson/Getty Images for The Cher Show

“Dance-wise, I get to go from the ’60s all the way up to her current tours and hip-hop and funk,” says Gattelli. There’s even a tango in the second act, set to Dark Lady, a chart-topping single from 1974 about a fortune teller, adultery and murder. In the musical, the piece represents Cher’s breakaway from the men in her life—Sonny Bono and Gregg Allman.

For Dark Lady, seven male dancers join Fitzgerald onstage. Gattelli’s choreography punctuates the traditional tango footwork with lifts and flips. At one point, the male dancers take hold of Fitzgerald’s extremities and heave her through the air, landing her on one of their shoulders. 

“The crowd usually responds really well to it,” says Gattelli about the tango, “but it was the last [number] I figured out.” Gattelli kept asking himself, What’s the metaphor? Who does the Dark Lady represent? The dances that are challenging to develop are usually his favorites. “They have that little extra care,” says Gattelli, “so it ends up being that much more rewarding.”

Before becoming a go-to movement maker for Broadway, Gattelli was a dancer himself. Turning back time, we find Gattelli growing up in Bristol, Pennsylvania, just across the Delaware River from Burlington City. Gattelli started learning dance basics like tap and ballet when he was about eight. As a young teen, he won the TV talent competition Star Search. At 15, he began intensive training at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater school in New York. 

On a whim, Gattelli auditioned for the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. “They weren’t supposed to hire anyone under 5-foot-10 and I’m about 5-foot-7,” he says. He got the job anyway. “The director and choreographer liked what I did and gave me a couple small features in the show.”

Gattelli danced professionally for several years, performing in the Guys and Dolls tour, Fosse on Broadway and Cats on tour and Broadway. During the latter show he met his future husband, Montville native Stephen Bienskie. Gattelli played Mistoffelees and Pouncival; Bienskie was Rum Tum Tugger. They married in December 2013, two months after New Jersey legalized same-sex marriage. Since 2010, they’ve lived in rural Hope. “It’s the antithesis of New York, basically. There’s one crossing in town with a light,” says Gattelli. He loves to keep busy, but appreciates the relief home offers. “When I’m driving home, there’s a certain point where I start seeing the trees and the mountains, and my shoulders just drop.”

Gattelli began to uncover his true passion when he was asked to put a number together with the Cats cast for a benefit. “I was loving the creation part more than the performance part,” he says. 

In 2001, he moved behind the scenes as resident choreographer for The Rosie O’Donnell Show. “She [did] giveaways, and it was like, dun, dunda, dah, and six dancers would come out and she would do a number with them,” says Gattelli. He also worked on a couple of opening numbers for the show on location in Walt Disney World. 

Gattelli’s theatrical debut as a choreographer was the off-Broadway show Bat Boy. A string of choreography and musical-staging gigs followed on Broadway: High Fidelity (2006), The Ritz (2007, revival), Sunday in the Park With George (2008, revival), South Pacific (2008, revival), Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (2010), Godspell (2011, revival) and his favorite production, the musical Newsies in 2011. 

Newsies, adapted from the 1992 Disney film, tells the story of Jack Kelly and his ragtag group of New York City newsboys who go on strike. Disney Theatrical Productions chose Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn for the premiere—and Gattelli as the choreographer.

Paper Mill producing artistic director Mark S. Hoebee was already familiar with Gattelli’s work. “His choreography is incredibly athletic and challenging,” says Hoebee. In Newsies, this athleticism is seen in “King of New York,” a number that had the performers tap dancing on tables and cartwheeling on chairs. 

Gattelli saw a former version of himself in the Newsies cast. “We all were kind of cut from the same cloth,” he says. “When you’re growing up as a male dancer, you’re usually one of the only men in class. So to work hard and get recognized and…to make it on Broadway…and then to also get as far as Newsies got, they had to be even that much more on top of their game.”

Hoebee attests to Gattelli’s special connection with his performers.

“Chris has beautifully held onto a piece of his experience [as a dancer],” says Hoebee, “which is understanding what it means to ask so much of your body eight times a week.”

Most of the Paper Mill cast went to Broadway, where Newsies ran for more than 1,000 performances. Gattelli won the Tony Award for Best Choreography in 2012.

Gattelli hasn’t won a Tony since­—he was nominated in 2015 for The King and I—but says working with Julie Andrews was its own reward.

In 2012, Gattelli and Andrews teamed to bring a children’s book to the stage at the Goodspeed Opera House in Connecticut. Andrews wrote The Great American Mousical with her daughter Emma Walton Hamilton. 

To honor the 60th anniversary of My Fair Lady, Andrews, the original Eliza Doolittle, directed a revival of the Lerner and Loewe classic at the Sydney Opera House in 2016. Andrews called on Gattelli to recreate Hanya Holm’s choreography. The only issue? “A lot of the dancing wasn’t notated or captured on film, so I had to take what I had seen and build outwards from there,” says Gattelli. 

Watching Andrews relive something she did 60 years earlier was incredible for Gattelli. “It was like muscle memory coming back to her,” he says. 

More recently, Gattelli worked on Bartlett Sher’s 2018 Broadway revival of My Fair Lady. When working on a revival, Gattelli says, “it’s [about] trying to honor what has been done.” At the same time, “it’s a really interesting task to create this new version and make it feel fresh and vital now.” Choreographing “Get Me to the Church on Time” for the revival was a particular challenge. Gattelli had recreated that number a year earlier for the Sydney Opera House production. The stages, casts and scripts were different. “I had to do two versions of the same number and try to stop the show with each,” says Gattelli. 

What show will Gattelli lend his talents to next? “There’s one coming up that I’m particularly excited about with Disney,” he says, but remains mum on the details.

Gattelli doesn’t necessarily have a dream project. “A lot of the shows that I love, I love because the work—like Michael Bennett’s work in A Chorus Line or Dreamgirls—is genius, and I wouldn’t want to have to do another version of those. My favorites are things that I’m just a big admirer of. It’s usually the new works like a SpongeBob or a Cher, where I would never know they’re coming down the pike,” he says. “I’m just hoping for more of that. More fun challenges and me continuing to learn, because that’s to me the most fun part.”

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Excel Physical Therapy expands into Essex County

Hackensack-based Excel Orthopedic Physical Therapy, a provider of orthopedic physical therapy, announced Monday it has opened a new office at the former site of the historic Livingston retailer Sams Fine Men’s Clothing.

The 6,500-square-foot office, located at 555 S. Livingston Ave., is Excel’s first in Essex County and its largest of the company’s 15 offices, it said. It will feature functional training and a cardiovascular equipment area as well as an enclosed turf for sports-specific training.

“We’re looking forward to joining the tightknit Livingston community and bringing EXCEL’s years of experience and attention to high quality care and patient satisfaction to Essex County,” Excel CEO Gary Flink said. “What makes this particular clinic even more special is that we’re occupying a building with decades worth of rich New Jersey history.”

Maurice Cohen, co-owner of Sams Fine Men’s Clothing, said: “(My cousin and Sams co-owner) Jeffrey and I would like to welcome the Excel Physical Therapy team to their new home at 555 S Livingston Ave — the former location of Sams Fine Men’s Clothing. We feel that Excel’s entrance into Essex County will mesh with the fabric of the community. Sams always made you look good and now Excel PT will make you feel good.”

Financial and other terms of the deal were not disclosed.

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Celebrate Jersey Wines at the Winemakers Co-Op Spring Portfolio Tasting

Spring Portfolio Tasting at Hawk Haven Winery
Sunday, May 19, 1–5 pm

Hawk Haven is playing host, but there will actually be wines on offer from the five wineries of the Winemakers Co-Op at Sunday’s Spring Portfolio Tasting—over 40 wines total for your Sunday sipping pleasure. Not only will the five wineries present some of their favorite of the spring portfolio, but a winemaker from each winery will present their favorite wine in the new 45-minute “Winemaker’s Showcase” installment. Also new this year, special guest and influential wine consultant Clark Smith will give two wine education presentations. VIP tickets are $70, get you in an hour early, tastes of reserve wines, and a special presentation from the Co-op. Regular admission is $39, $10 for children. Food and music will round out the afternoon. Hawk Haven Vineyard & Winery, 600 South Railroad Avenue, Rio Grande; 609-846-7347

A Taste of Little Silver
Saturday May 18, 2–7 pm

Put on by the Little Silver Charitable Foundation, A Taste of Little Silver is returning this Saturday for its third year in a row. Kind of like a block party for the whole town, it’s taking over a section of Markham Place, with local restaurants lining the street to showcase some specially made bites for the day. There’s no admission fee, but restaurants and businesses might charge depending on what’s on offer. Alcohol, FYI, isn’t on tap for the afternoon’s festivities. Markham Place, Little Silver; 908-675-7646

The Beer BBQ Bacon Showdown
Saturday May 18, 1–5 pm

As much a New Jersey craft beer lover’s event as a food event, Saturday’s “showdown” gathers 30 Garden State breweries and an arsenal of local food and barbecue vendors on Doe Meadow Field in Lewis Morris Park. Each brewery will bring three beers, including one beer that’s either rare or brewed specifically for the day. Food vendors include places like El Lechon Negron, Bearded Pigs BBQ, Ma & Pa’s Tex Mex, and Glazed and Confused (they do doughnuts, FYI). Ticket prices don’t include the cost of food, FYI, but they do include beer samples. VIP tickets are $100 (vs. $70 for General Admission), get you in an hour early, and grant access to brewers, pitmasters, and first tastes of special suds. Lewis Morris Park, 270 Mendham Road, Morristown

Gin Cocktail Class at The Winston
Tuesday, May 21, 7:30–9 pm

The Winston’s cocktail classes tend to sell out quickly, so if you’re a gin lover, or just looking to sharpen your shaken-not-stirred skills, act soon. (If you miss this one, they tend to have a lot, updated regularly on their Instagram.) At Tuesday night’s class you will learn all about Alibi Gin and spring cocktails from none other than The Winston’s Beverage Director and Head Mixologist Hector Noel. Tickets, as long as they last, are $35 and include some light sipping and snacks. The Winston, 72 Hudson Street, Hoboken; 201-683-6188

Lunch & Learn with Wolfgang Puck’s Executive Chef at the Borgata
Saturday, May 25, 11:30 am

Aram Mardigian is the Executive Chef of Wolfgang Puck’s American Grille at the Borgata, and this Saturday he’s hosting a special three-course prix fixe lunch where he’ll share some of his own seasonal recipes with guests while you dine. The timing’s perfect if you consider Memorial Day Weekend a kick-off to summer—Mardigian’s menu includes things like Chilled White Corn Vichyssoise with Marinated Littleneck Clams and Meyer Lemon Tarts (all three courses come with wine). Tickets are $65 per person, including tax and tip. Wolfgang Puck’s American Grille, 1 Borgata Way, Atlantic City; 609-317-1000

Anthony Bourdain Memorial Dinner at Denim American Bistro
Tuesday June 25, 6:30pm

Details are scant so far—it’s a ways away—but keep an eye out for more specifics from Denim American Bistro on its Anthony Bourdain Memorial Dinner on June 25th (the late chef’s birthday). What we do know: the dinner will be five courses with all recipes taken from Bourdain’s Les Halles and Appetites cookbooks, and each course will come with a wine pairing. Tickets are $75 per person, before tax and tip. Call the restaurant for more information. Denim American Bistro, 312 Kresson Road, Cherry Hill; 856-520-8114

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Bihler of America expands with new 103K sq.ft. facility in Phillipsburg

Bihler of America, a provider of complex components manufacturing and machines, announced recently it has opened a new, 103,000-square-foot facility in Phillipsburg.

The multiuse operations building, built in partnership with Iron Hill Construction Management, is adjacent to Bihler’s two existing manufacturing plants.

Construction on the building began in April 2018 and it became fully operational in the first quarter of 2019. All three buildings, Bihler said, total 350,000 square feet.

Bihler said what drove the expansion was an increase in contract manufacturing and automation projects.

“The new building has more than half of its total output capacity committed to already, with plenty of space for the expanded manufacturing needs of our customers,” Max Linder, director of sales and marketing, Bihler of America, said.

The new facility houses assembly areas for Bihler 4 Slide-NC machines, Bihler said, expanding the company’s ability to deliver  products efficiently to its customers. It also has LED lighting throughout for energy efficiency.

“The re-shoring trend that began several years ago remains strong, and general economic indicators predict this ongoing rise in manufacturing will continue,” Linder said. “Bihler’s capabilities for advanced manufacturing, services and equipment have been significantly expanded to accommodate this continuing demand for U.S.-based manufacturing.”

Bihler also said as part of the expansion, it will add more than 50 new workers at the facility to manage and operate it.

“We’re constantly searching for outstanding, talented people, especially experienced machine operators and electricians, as well as people with hands-on manufacturing experience,” Linder said.

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Hispanic chamber adds Rodrigues, Pinzon, Artiles to board

The Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey has added three new members to its board, it announced Friday.

The new members include Ana Rodrigues, a vice president at Banco Popular; Cristina Pinzon, a managing principal at public relations firm Stateside Affairs; and Guillermo Artiles, a partner at law firm McCarter & English.

The new members give the board a more balanced female-to-male ratio and lower the average age, CEO and President Carlos Medina said.

“We are excited that our board has grown to its largest size in my memory — the fact that we have also been able to attract both age- and gender-diverse candidates makes me most proud. I hope more corporations will lean on the SHCCNJ to help diversify their boardroom, as well,” Medina said in a statement.

Chairman Luis De La Hoz said the new members will help continue the chamber’s mission of growing and developing New Jersey businesses.

“All three of our newest board members embody the spirit, expertise and energy needed to be at the table,” De La Hoz said. “Our commitment is to lead by example and that our leadership reflects the best of our talented men and women of our community. We are very fortunate to have them by our side as we continue to strengthen our Chamber #Familia.”

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In Ocean Grove, a Comforting Respite for Women Battling Cancer

Guests, staff and volunteers share stories over a meal at Mary’s Place by the Sea in Ocean Grove. Photo by Bugsmom Photography

Tracey Kurtz was on a mission. The day in 2017 when she first walked through the doors of Mary’s Place by the Sea in Ocean Grove, Kurtz had just been diagnosed with cancer. At Mary’s Place, a respite home for women being treated for cancer, the West Belmar resident found a support group to help her through her ordeal. “I had never known anyone with cancer, and I was desperate to talk to someone like me,” she recalls. Kurtz, now in remission, still goes back to visit, more than one year after completing her treatments.

June 19 will mark the 10th anniversary of Mary’s Place. Cofounders Michele Gannon and Maria McKeon, who now serve as the paid president and vice president, respectively, opened Mary’s Place with two rented bedrooms in an Ocean Grove B&B. Two years later, they moved to a house in town with four beds; three years ago, they relocated to a 10-bedroom house built for the organization on Main Avenue.

To date, Mary’s Place has served close to 10,000 women from all over the country. “We have a paid staff of seven, over 120 volunteers, and a nine-member board,” Gannon says.

Guests can come for the day (Tuesday-Saturday) or settle in for a one- or two-night stay. Reservations are required for all visits (go to Activities include Reiki, yoga, oncology massages, individual and group counseling with trained therapists, guided meditation, nutrition education, expressive writing and jewelry making.

All Mary’s Place services, including meals, are complimentary. “Our budget is $600,000 a year. We raise about $200,000 with our walk-a-thon,” says Gannon. “We also apply for grants, but we couldn’t do this without the extra money we get from the people who throw fundraisers for us,” Gannon says, noting that their combined fundraising efforts generate $1.2 million. Funding beyond the annual budget is reserved for future expansion.

Marilee Celestino, 61, a former cancer patient, volunteers at least two Saturdays a month. She’s also there to support guests who need to talk to someone who has shared their journey. “I spend a lot of time talking to the guests, but more importantly, listening,” she says.

Kurtz, now 53, says that her cancer journey and Mary’s Place gave her a new perspective on cancer and on life. “I see what I’m made of now and how strong I am,” she says. “I know things I didn’t know before. I can ask for what I need, and I love myself.”

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