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Department of State

New Jersey Business Action Center

The Hon. Tahesha Way, Secretary of State

NJ Business Action Center Update

COVID-19/coronavirus information for businesses is available. Please visit Business.NJ.gov/COVID

NJBAC Success Stories

Becoming a B Corporation simply made sense for the team at Stafford-Township based Jetty Life.

Jetty Life

The company is a coastal-lifestyle apparel brand that makes, markets and sells clothing designed for people who appreciate the outdoors and adventure, explained Jeremy DeFilippis, the company’s CEO who is also an operating partner and co-founder.

According to B Lab, “certified B Corporations are businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose. B Corps are accelerating a global culture shift to redefine success in business and build a more inclusive and sustainable economy.”

Since 2007, B Lab has certified some 3,900 B Corps in 70 countries and 150 industries.

DeFilippis said the designation matches the company’s focus on operating a sustainable facility by reducing water usage, using eco-friendly inks, developing a proprietary fabric that incorporates crushed oyster shells and more.

“The next generation of people that buy our goods are concerned (with the environment) and we already had it in our DNA,” he said.

The company was started in 2003 by what DeFilippis said was “a handful of guys, friends, trying to figure out what to do with their lives. We just thought this was a niche that needed to be filled.”

“We grew up surfing and fishing. We grew up around the water and that’s the DNA behind the brand,” DeFilippis added.

Today, the company has 33 employees and screen prints its garments in its 15,000 square foot headquarters in Manahawkin.

About half of the line is produced locally, while the other half is outsourced.

Jetty Life clothing can be found in shops across the Garden State as well as other spots from Maine to Florida along with Texas, California and the Great Lakes.

The firm also exports to Canada and works with the NJBAC’s Office of Export Promotion as it looks to take part in trade shows and other events.

DeFilippis said the company first learned of the New Jersey Business Action Center through the NJ Chamber of Commerce and has also worked with the Office of Business Advocacy.

His advice for entrepreneurs? “Plan, plan, plan,” DeFilippis said. “We really didn’t plan. We jumped in head first and didn’t do our homework. It can be overwhelming.”

Cyber attacks can wreak havoc on our industries, global supply chains and personal security.

Lund’s Fisheries

That’s why Tony Wittock, director/CTO of Mount Laurel-based Cyber Security Consulting Ops, encourages his clients to prepare by training their employees to detect and avoid potential threats.

“You can be one click away from inviting someone into your system,” Wittock said.

His business, which started in 2017, is a risk-management cybersecurity consulting firm focused on helping organizations prevent data loss and system lock-ups before a cyber breach.

Wittock spent years working for Comcast and later Cisco before starting his business. “It’s something I love to do,” he said of his work protecting his clients online.

Wittock’s own experiences are also top of mind as he works to protect others from cyber attacks.

Many years ago, his personal home security system was hacked. “I felt violated,” Wittock said of the breach.

He figured out what happened and realized he could help others avoid the pitfalls of doing business online.

“In 2017, I decided to put a name to it,” he said, explaining his clients are small businesses and “any organization online that is seeking to protect its assets.” During the COVID-19 pandemic, the business suffered as clients’ priorities changed, but Wittock adapted, developing online courses for employers and employees designed to help them recognize and avoid potential threats.

While he enjoys his work, Wittock said starting a business has had its highs and lows. “I thought it would be easier than it turned out to be,” he said. He learned that “the key to business was to generate relationships.”

Now, more established, he has developed those crucial connections and built his client base by engaging with chambers of commerce and using good old-fashioned word of mouth.

He also uses online marketing with a focus on search engine optimization (SEO) and the value of keyword searches.

One of his clients recently found him with a simple Google search.

Wittock had heard of the New Jersey Business Action Center after attending an event hosted by NJBAC at Rowan University a couple of years ago, but it wasn’t until he received an email from the Small Business Administration about exporting that he started to work with the NJBAC’s Office of Export Promotion.

Now, he hopes to expand and serve clients outside the United States with the aid of a NJ State Trade Expansion Program (NJSTEP) grant to help translate his website into multiple languages and reach an international audience.

His advice to new business owners? “Before you start a business, maybe a year or two before, start socializing and building relationships,” Wittock said. Learn more at www.cybersecurityconsultingops.com

Jeff Reichle at Cape May County-based Lund’s Fisheries

Lund’s Fisheries

Next time you’re enjoying your favorite seafood at home or at a restaurant take a moment to consider the source.

“There’s a big disconnect in our state,” said Jeff Reichle, chairman of Cape May County-based Lund’s Fisheries. “They don’t realize the magnitude of the fishing industry in New Jersey.”

According to the Garden State Seafood Association, four of the top six commercial fishing ports in the Mid-Atlantic are found in New Jersey.

Scot Mackey, executive director of the Garden State Seafood Association, said the New Jersey fishing industry sees $2.1 billion in sales each year.

The fishing Industry here is concentrated at five major coastal ports - Belford, Point Pleasant, Barnegat Light, Atlantic City, and Cape May/Wildwood. An additional port is along the Delaware Bay at Port Norris, Cumberland County.

Together the ports harvest a wide range of finfish and shellfish including scallops, monkfish, shortfin and longfin squid, mackerel, tuna, swordfish, black sea bass, summer flounder, Atlantic surf clams, and ocean quahogs.

The association statistics show that In 2018 the port of Cape May/Wildwood, which is the largest commercial fishing port in New Jersey, landed 101 million pounds of seafood worth $66 million.

This port ranked 14th in pounds landed and 10th in value for all ports in the United States and, in the northeast (Maine to Virginia), New Jersey ranked second in pounds harvested.

The numbers are impressive. A total of 190,500,000 pounds of finfish and shellfish were landed by New Jersey’s commercial fishermen in 2018 with a landed value of $170,261,0001.

So why don’t many New Jerseyans know that the seafood on their plates comes from the state’s own fishing industry?

“We’ve never felt the need to and haven’t done a good job of promoting ourselves,” Reichle said.

Reichle recalled getting into the industry in 1974. He later started his business and today his son is the company president and his daughter works at the company’s commercial cold storage facility in Bridgeton.

“It’s a very unique industry. Forty seven years in this business and fishermen never fail to amaze me,” Reichle said.

Monica Lee at Route 66 International

Monica Lee

Monica Lee is always looking for the next opportunity.

As general manager of Route 66 International Inc., a Hackensack-based seaweed company, Lee has helped guide the company as it worked to expand its customer base, its production capacity and its global reach.

The firm, founded in 2016, started with what sounded like an overwhelming task - taking on the Chinese seaweed market. Korean seaweed, Lee said, is known for its good taste, but it wasn’t as well known around the globe.

So, Route 66 started to import Korean seaweed for sale to American restaurants. It was a good start, but Lee soon recognized there was another opportunity here. She wasn’t aware of any seaweed factories operating in the U.S., so Route 66 decided that was the next step.

In 2019, the firm purchased a building. Following extensive renovations and equipment purchase, the factory was ready to open its doors in January 2020. The facility imports A-grade Korean seaweed, which is then roasted and packaged here in New Jersey.

Starting operations the year a global pandemic hit certainly wasn’t ideal, but despite that added challenge sales have been strong and today the company, which has 11 full-time employees, sells its packaged seaweed to more than 800 restaurants in 40 states.

While Lee started her career as a kindergarten teacher in South Korea, her focus today is on business.

“Being a woman, to me, I look at it as an advantage, not a disadvantage,” Lee said as the country celebrates Women’s History Month this March.

“I focus on what I can do better as a woman and I’m not afraid to ask for help,” Lee said. “I don’t have any experience on the business side, so I looked for support and resources. I received help from the state (including the New Jersey Business Action Center’s Office of Export Promotion) and that gave me a lot of insight and strength.”

As she learned more, she pursued new opportunities including exporting. With the help of the NJBAC and the Small Business Administration, Lee has made connections with potential customers in places like Germany and is pursuing those leads.

She encourages women in business to take advantage of the many resources available as they pursue their goals.

“Try to get the support of the state and the advocates here to help. Getting the right advice and working with reliable sources is key,” she said.

Yvonne Cangelosi

Yvonne Cangelosi

Yvonne Cangelosi joined SPEX Industries in 1987 in a sales and marketing role. By the time the company was acquired by Illinois-based Cole-Parmer in February 2020, Cangelosi had worked in the company’s stockroom, shipping and production operations, been named executive vice president and ultimately president of the Metuchen-based chemical manufacturer.

“It has been an amazing, amazing journey,” Cangelosi said as she reflected on her career.

When SPEX first hired her, Cangelosi, who has a background in business and sales, didn’t know what to expect. She was given a position in the chemicals department (though she did not have a background in chemistry) as a sales and marketing representative. The job was a good one, but she would later take a job elsewhere looking for new challenges.

In 1997, SPEX came to her offering Cangelosi a new role. “(They) wrote the offer on a sticky note,” Cangelosi recalled fondly of the unconventional offer letter. She still has the sticky note.

As she took on ever increasing responsibility at SPEX, Cangelosi enjoyed working with her team and helping those around her grow. “I’m big on culture. I’m big on leadership, understanding everyone’s strengths and weaknesses and how you develop a great team.”

She also joined the Monmouth County chapter of the Women President’s Organization (WPO), a group focused on supporting women in business.

“I was in a very male-dominated space. Thankfully the four men I worked with trusted me and gave me a chance,” she said of the SPEX leadership.

That combination of trust from her team and the support of groups like the WPO helped Cangelosi forge her path in business and helped her learn some lessons along the way. “I didn’t ask for more early in my career,” she said of changing she might do differently today. “Sometimes you have to ask.”

After SPEX was acquired by the company now called Antylia Scientific, Cangelosi was given a new role as vice president of SPEX life sciences division.

“It is a good company and I continue to learn from them,” she said.

Cangelosi crossed paths with the New Jersey Business Action Center team as SPEX looked to grow its exporting opportunities. With the help of the New Jersey State Trade Expansion Program grants, SPEX developed relationships with customers across the globe including in Dubai, China and Brazil.

Like SPEX, Cangelosi has evolved in her career and she encourages other women in business to do the same.

“Don’t ever give up,” she said as she urged women to take advantage of all the resources available to them. “Don’t ever give up.”

SpectraSpray founder Janet Ryan

Janet Ryan

Janet Ryan could only watch as her beloved mother coped with early onset Alzheimer’s disease. The experience led her to focus on taking supplements and the basics of good health for herself, but soon she realized she wanted to find ways to help others.

“My passion for anti-aging is probably at the crux of this,” Ryan said as she spoke about her Morris county-based business SpectraSpray Global.

The state registered women-owned business, which started in March 2016, sells spray vitamin supplements that are easier to absorb than pill supplements.

Ryan, a trained classical pianist who had done some work selling supplements, didn’t have a background in business, but she had the drive and desire to keep moving, and with the support of a trusted mentor the company began to grow.

“I had no idea what I was doing,” Ryan said as she reflected on five years in business.

“You start for whatever reason and then you reevaluate why you’re doing this,” Ryan said, noting that there were at least three times along the way that she thought about quitting. “But each time a breakthrough happens.”

One of those breakthrough moments came after she met a representative from the federal International Trade Administration at a women’s entrepreneurial event. That representative first broached the subject of exporting with Ryan.

“You don’t know what you don’t know,” Ryan said. She eagerly listened and soon connected with the New Jersey Business Action Center’s Office of Export Promotion and its NJ State Trade Expansion Program grants, designed to help small businesses reach a global audience.

Now, following participation in a trade show supported by the grant, she has connections with customers or potential customers in Singapore, Ukraine and South Korea along with leads in places like Canada, Turkey and Norway.

The business is growing and her daughter has even joined in, helping develop marketing and graphics for the business. “My kids are grown and this (business) is like a third child,” Ryan said.

Her advice to women in the business world? “Put your seatbelt on,” Ryan said, of the ups and downs of running a business.

Despite those ups and downs, Ryan said she wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I wasn’t looking for a job,” Ryan said. “I was looking to build a company.”

CAREOX

CAREOX

In January 2020, Young Kim, like many around the globe, watched as reported cases of a novel coronavirus started to spread. Kim, who serves as President and CEO of Princeton-based CAREOX, had been in the respiratory industry for some 30 years and he recognized what might be coming.

"We started to prepare in mid-January as we saw the numbers climb," KIm said. He knew the virus, which soon became known as COVID-19, would have devastating effects on the global economy, so he turned to the one weapon he could count on to combat this new challenge.

"The only thing I can do is believe in myself," Kim said.

And that's what he did. The small company, a respiratory care and anesthesia medical device manufacturer and supplier, and its five employees continued operating following CDC guidelines and adjusting when it had to to stay up and running.

"Our rule is we stay 10 feet apart. We sanitize every day. We strictly follow the guidelines," Kim said, adding he washes his hands nearly 50 times a day.

While focused on health and safety, the company continued exporting its products to places like South Korea, Japan, Turkey and the European Union. CAREOX, a recipient of two NJ State Trade Expansion Program grants, used the funds to attend trade shows to reach potential new customers. Advocates from the Office of Export Promotion, part of the New Jersey Business Action Center, assisted CAREOX during the application process. The Office of Export Promotion administers the grants.

During the pandemic, such shows have gone virtual and the in-person contact Kim enjoys has moved to phone calls and virtual meetings. Not ideal, but Kim said, "We talk to our customers often and let them know we worry about them."

His resolve paid off and CAREOX expanded, adding an R&D center near its existing office, and the company has plans to nearly double the number of employees in 2021.

"All business people are faced, time to time, with a crisis of some kind," Kim said, "The only thing we can do is have a strong belief in ourselves."

Tomasello Winery

Tomasello Winery

 

Hammonton’s Tomasello Winery got its start in 1933, capitalizing on the end of Prohibition that was to come in December of that year. The family-owned business, now in its fourth generation, grew and thrived, enduring wartime economies, economic downturns and a changing global marketplace.

Then came 2020.

Like all businesses, the winery was faced with a new uncertainty, wondering what a global pandemic would mean to the company and its employees. Tastings, weddings and other events would be affected the most, but the winery has seen growth and success thanks to its early embrace of the possibilities of e-commerce and its work to pursue exporting with the help of grants received through the Office of Export Promotion New Jersey State Trade Expansion Program.

Owner Jack Tomasello estimated e-commerce sales are up some 37 percent since March, when New Jersey declared a public health emergency. Tomasello attributed the growth to both the circumstances - Americans are staying home more - and word of mouth thanks to wine blogs and wine educators spreading the word. Today, the company is shipping wine across the country, literally, entering the California, Oregon and Washington state markets thanks to its comprehensive website and online sales efforts.

The company already had a large mailing list, but increased website traffic and the availability of e-commerce has sustained the winery at a time when in-store and sales and outlet tastings saw significant reductions thanks to capacity reductions during the pandemic.

“My advice (to businesses) is to get more involved with e-commerce,” Tomasello said, calling e-commerce a "lifeline." “Those that didn’t jump on it, they’re jumping on now. They have to,” Tomasello said.

 

 

Information About...

Countdown to 2022 Ban on Single-Use Plastics Begins

New Jersey's ban on single-use plastic carryout bags and polystyrene foam food service products in stores and food service businesses will take effect on May 4, 2022. The law also bans single-use paper carryout bags in grocery stores over 2,500 square feet, and limits single-use plastic straws to only by request effective November 4, 2021. The New Jersey Business Action Center and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection have launched online resources to help businesses prepare for the move to reusable and recyclable products. A vendor clearinghouse of manufacturers and suppliers will soon be added. Learn more here: Business.NJ.gov/recent/disposable-bag-ban



 


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