By Paul Adler, Nick Brandi, Amy R. Partridge & Duke Ratliff
The readers have spoken! You voted in droves and selected 37 local businesses that are tops in their categories, from corporate banking, business law, and PR/advertising to commercial real estate brokerage, janitorial services, and both virtual networking and after-work happy-hour spot.
Meet the winners of this year’s Best of Business, as chosen by more than 1,300 of our loyal readers. Plus, see which five organizations the editors chose for special recognition as companies that have thrived in the face of the pandemic and find out what goes into making the perfect magazine cover.
Headquartered in New York City, but with an office in Purchase, Marks Paneth is one of the premier accounting firms in our area, having been named top 10 in the Mid-Atlantic Region by Accounting Today. Offering a full range of audit, accounting, tax and consulting services to the Westchester business community, the company specializes in business continuity, international tax, forensic accounting, litigation support, technology, family office, and financial advisory services.
Launched in 1987 from bucolic Briarcliff Manor, Thompson & Bender — or T&B, as it is commonly known — has evolved into a PR juggernaut that has all but dominated the market with its reach, creative campaigns, and high-profile clientele. Having displayed particular savvy in the areas of government relations, crisis management, and strategic planning, T&B even made City & State New York’s “Westchester Power 50” list.
AFTER-WORK HAPPY HOUR
With after-work happy hours finally being a thing again, tredici North is ready to welcome workers back to revel. With a happy hour stretching from 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., Tuesday through Friday, this Purchase-based four-time Best of Westchester winner offers up inventive bar snacks, like “inside out” meatballs and brick-oven pizzette alongside crowd-pleasing specialty drinks, like its Doc Holliday, featuring Bulleit Bourbon and muddled blood orange, and Poison Apple Martini, with spiced dark rum and homemade apple cider.
Specializing in corporate events for 35 years, Corporate Audio Visual Services pivoted when the pandemic hit to reinvent its products and services to focus on virtual productions. The company is now casting a wider marketing net, with hybrid events combining in-person and online audiences, along with full-on in-person events. No matter the format, the company will apply its award-winning philosophy that every event is unique and that every client has different needs.
“Local” and “personal” are the keywords to apply to The Westchester Bank. Since it opened in 2008, its formula for success has been to offer the same products and services as the bigger banks but to deliver them in a highly personalized manner. Characteristically, TWB’s first response to COVID-19 was outreach to its customers to see how it could help them weather the economic uncertainty.
Led by agency president JoAnne Murray, Allan Block Insurance remains among the vanguard of today’s business insurance needs, with such in-demand services as cyber-insurance. Personal insurance and products geared toward the complexity of high-net-worth individuals are also on offer. Clients cite the company’s attention to detail and its focus on relationships as assets.
Fullerton Beck has earned every ounce of its heavy-hitter status in regional business law, not only for its talented roster of expert legal minds — many of whom are regularly featured on Super Lawyers and Rising Stars lists — but also for its status as a women-owned (partner Katrine Beck, pictured) litigation firm in a sea of male-dominated competitors. Representing clients throughout the Hudson Valley, New York City, and New Jersey, Fullerton Beck handles myriad areas of commercial law, including insurance, real estate, medical malpractice, PL, GL, contracts, and white-collar defense.
Westchester County Association’s mantra to be the region’s leading economic-development and business-advocacy organization was evident during the COVID-19 pandemic. Focusing on workforce development, real estate and housing, healthcare, and energy and sustainability, the WCA launched a series of advocacy and action initiatives designed to drive economic recovery from the pandemic to long-term growth.
As the company name indicates, the team at this commercial photography/videography and marketing/communications firm are an enormously creative bunch! The agency has built a strong reputation for its top-notch creative services, with clients including nationwide CPG and pharma companies, as well as many Westchester businesses and nonprofits. Enormous Creative uses expertly crafted video and other tech to help companies tell their brand stories and build their businesses.
COMMERCIAL PROPERTY MANAGEMENT
Diamond Properties has acquired more than 100 commercial properties since its founding, in 1995. Earlier this year, the Mount Kisco Planning Board approved a new 85,000 sq. ft. ShopRite supermarket for the Diamond Properties complex at 333 N Bedford Rd, along with other improvements to the 38-acre site. The solar power on the roof at the property is one of the largest rooftop solar-power systems in the state.
COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE ARCHITECT
A celebrated professional-consulting-and-design firm with nine offices — including one in Purchase — H2M has been building communities throughout the region since 1933. But the more than 400 people who compose H2M don’t just conceive and erect great structures; they are champions of civic and environmental responsibility who offer mentorship and scholarship programs, donate nearly a quarter-million dollars a year to charity, and have received numerous citations and awards for being among the best places to work.
COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE BROKERAGE
Nabbing numerous awards for the way it does business, Rakow has commercial real estate in its DNA. The company’s impressive portfolio of services includes buyer, owner, and tenant representation services for properties ranging in size from 1,000 to more than 250,000 square feet, accommodating workforces from four to 400. Sure, 30 years’ experience has taught RakowGroup a lot about real estate but also a lot about giving back, which it does regularly to groups like Big Brother Big Sisters and Feeding Westchester.
If you can’t bear the thought of another uninspired chicken dish or a wilted salad at that next business seminar, you may want to take a hard look at White Plains’ Caperberry Events. This wedding-and event-catering company serving NY, CT, and NJ can tailor its menu to virtually any experience, from a large-scale corporate fete to an intimate employee gathering. And with an owner known for helming Sam’s of Gedney Way, as well as the NY Hospitality Group, expect the food and service to be top tier.
CORPORATE MEETING VENUE
Choosing the right spot for an important conclave or confab can mean the difference between closing a deal and missing out, and The Abbey Inn & Spa knows exactly how vital the right setting can be. The Peekskill venue specializes in accommodating small to midsize corporate events, with more than 4,300 square feet of indoor and outdoor spaces overlooking the scenic Hudson River — ranging from a sleek Executive Boardroom to the expansive Highlands Ballroom — as well as comprehensive planning and catering services.
COWORKING FACILITY/SHARED OFFICE SPACE
Enjoying a bump from the pandemic when everyone’s home offices became too crowded, coworking spaces have become super desirable — and Westchester Business Center delivers, with locations in Downtown White Plains and at Chappaqua Crossing. Its mix of affordable pricing and flexible offerings, including office space, virtual services, and fully equipped conference rooms, appeals to businesses of all sizes.
EXECUTIVE LIMO SERVICE
Discerning customers expect impeccable service, immaculate vehicles, and drivers who are always on time. Port Chester’s Red Oak Transportation strives to offer all three, cultivating a rep as a longtime favorite of corporate leaders and business heads with places to go and people to see. Serving the Tristate area, Red Oak handles weddings, long-distance car service, corporate transportation, airport car service, and several other vehicle-based requirements.
EXECUTIVE MBA PROGRAM/CONTINUING-ED PROGRAMS
Iona’s MBA program is appealing for a variety of reasons. Not only does it offer nine diverse areas of concentration, available four terms per year, you can do it completely online if you prefer. This means that with an investment of just 12 to 18 months, you can have a shiny new 36-credit MBA with your name on it, so you’ll be right in line for that high-back C-suite desk chair before you can say “stock options!”
EXECUTIVE WEALTH MANAGEMENT
Led by Ben Soccodato and Chris Kampitsis, Elmsford-based SKG specializes in wealth management for individuals and families, business owners, corporate education, and transition solutions. Soccodato and Kampitsis were recently featured in Forbes and U.S. News & World Report to provide financial insight on self-directed IRAs and post-retirement planning. They’re ready to assist, whether you’re jumpstarting the planning session, considering converting your term life insurance, or growing business value when times are tough.
HOTEL FOR BUSINESS TRAVELERS
The business community is ready to travel, and Westchester Marriott, arguably the county’s best hotel for business travelers, is reintroducing itself with a newly renovated event space for meetings, including smaller corporate hybrid gatherings and large association assemblies. Business-oriented amenities at the hotel include a computer station, express check-in, and express checkout. To entertain others or just yourself, the hotel includes Coopers Mill restaurant, featuring American cuisine, plus a bar/lounge. Buffet breakfasts are served on weekdays.
Acting as a full-time IT department on your behalf, Right Click Solutions offers proactive management of corporate IT services — everything from cloud-based solutions to business continuity backup and disaster recovery to VoIP phone services. Its reputation is based on being a client-focused and cost-effective IT resource for many small businesses in Westchester that don’t want the burden of operating their own IT departments.
Cleanliness has never been so top of mind for businesses as they bring employees back to the office post-pandemic. WOW! Building Maintenance Solutions is heeding the call for dependable janitorial services with its suite of innovative cleaning technologies and its focus on teamwork. One of the fastest-growing minority-owned maintenance companies in the Northeast, WOW! has what it takes to deliver the peace of mind that comes from a sanitary work environment.
As a result of the pandemic, the focus on the supply chain has been elevated throughout the business community, putting third-party logistics providers like Capital Logistics in the spotlight. The White Plains-based company, which specializes in temperature-controlled freight management and transportation, has been providing expert supply-chain services for years, including warehousing, truckload, and less-than-truckload transportation management, as well as international shipping services.
Sure, you can go to some big-box retailer that doesn’t give a rat’s posterior about your posterior, or you can cozy up to White Plains’ Projects in Motion, which represents more than 500 of the industry’s top manufacturers at surprisingly competitive prices. Offering a full array of office furniture, Projects in Motion has earned a rep for being all in when it comes to customer service, comfortable productivity, and state-of-the-art ergonomics.
PLACE TO ENTERTAIN A CLIENT
Dressing for success is great; dining for success is even better — and that’s where Sea Flame comes in. Resplendent with a full redesign last year, Sea Flame shines as a venue of sophisticated dining in the 914. Treat that hot new prospect or cherished longtime client to a bevy of seafood selections or USDA Prime steaks dry-aged for 28 days before sizzling on your table — all perfectly paired by Sea Flame’s veteran sommelier. For many Westchester businesspeople, Sea Flame’s swank is money in the bank.
Start your day – or cap your day – off right at City Limits, which serves its heralded breakfasts all day long. Part of the acclaimed Livanos family of restaurants, City Limits is perfectly perched for serious business at the foot of Central Avenue in White Plains. After soaking up the inviting ambience, prepare to seal the deal with a meal featuring City Limits’ fluffy omelets, mouthwatering griddle cakes, or famous French toast.
PRIVATE AVIATION FIRM
After successfully responding to the coronavirus pandemic with a fleet of retooled operations, including a firm focus on safety, full-service FBO Million Air has risen from the previous year stronger than ever. With a chic, new hangar and terminal space at White Plains’ Westchester County Airport, Million Air is prepared to offer the very best in state-of-the-art luxury travel for corporate, military, and general aviation needs.
PRIVATE COUNTRY CLUB TO ENTERTAIN A CLIENT
Impress clients by taking them to greens that have seen such links luminaries as Byron Nelson, Gene Sarazen, Paul Runyan, and Tommy Armour. In fact, when all-time PGA majors’ winner Jack Nicklaus was asked whether he thought Winged Foot was the greatest golf course in the world, he said, “That may be, but there is quite a golf course down the street,” referring to Quaker Ridge Golf Club.
Rose Press has been at the forefront of the area’s commercial printing business since 1986. With a motto of “You’re not buying our product; we’re selling yours,” the company can strengthen your brand and foster customer loyalty with a wide variety of personally branded materials for any industry. Rose Press is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council in recognition of its use of environmentally sustainable resources.
PUBLIC GOLF COURSE TO ENTERTAIN A CLIENT
Demonstrate to your clients that you have great taste by inviting them to the historic Dunwoodie in Yonkers. Built in 1903, the course is a mix of fairways and rolling landscapes that take advantage of its dramatic topography. The 1st and 15th tees have been expanded, and the lobby has been recently renovated.
RESTAURANT FOR A POWER LUNCH/DINNER
When selecting a spot for the ideal power lunch, Gianna’s is always a smart pick. For nearly a decade, these Italian stalwarts have served up crowd-pleasing lunches, dinners, and catering services, all from its attractive digs in a quiet corner of Yonkers. With a smartly appointed party room and experienced servers, both one-on-ones and larger business repasts are a no-brainer at this long-running Italian gem.
Proper business signage can be make-or-break for a company’s image, as it is often the first impression potential clients get about the business behind it. Conveying a client’s brand in a way that exudes confidence to its customers from the moment they arrive at the front door is exactly what Rose Press strives for and excels at, making it a leader in the area’s commercial printing industry since 1986. The company offers a full suite of signage products, as well as myriad other printing services, and recently expanded to include a 21,000 sq. ft. mailing-and-fulfillment facility.
SOCIAL MEDIA SERVICES
Thompson & Bender continues to be on the front lines with its social media strategies to maximize all online and digital platforms. T&B utilizes its versatile team of in-house social media specialists to create impactful conversations across all platforms, including Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn, to better sell your brand to a diverse audience.
STORE FOR BUSINESS ATTIRE (MEN’S)
Though the ravages of the pandemic compelled it to declare chapter 11 and close upwards of 500 stores nationwide, MW has for decades been a lifeline to the well-dressed man seeking a smart sport coat, chic shirt, stylish shoes, or even a designer tux for that special day. Men’s Wearhouse also boasts an expansive selection of clothing and accessories for virtually any conceivable event — and, if the boss calls you in for a day on the links, MW is ready with a wide selection of activewear, including sporty duds from Awearness Kenneth Cole, Paisley Grey, and PGA Tour.
STORE FOR BUSINESS ATTIRE (WOMEN’S)
Think a store that offers great prices on fashion megabrands, like Burberry, Ralph Lauren, Oscar de la Renta, and Ted Baker, is too good to be true? Think again. Bloomingdale’s in White Plains is a favorite source for female executives, serving up an on-trend selection of clothing, dresses, jewelry, bags, shoes, and even home and beauty accessories, including skincare, makeup, and fragrance lines. Bloomies also boasts convenient services ranging from stylists and personal shoppers to perfectly selected corporate gifts.
Put a whole new spin (pun intended) on watercooler talk with a corporate excursion to Spins Hudson at Charles Point in Peekskill. The action-adventure complex offers numerous activities for teambuilding, highlighted by a 50-foot aerial ropes course. For more grounded groups, there’s a 5,000 sq. ft. laser-tag arena, bowling, arcades — and a brand-new axe-throwing experience.
WEB DEVELOPMENT & GRAPHIC DESIGN
Known as a PR powerhouse, Thomspon & Bender also offers top-notch web development and graphic-design services that the agency says are “grounded in marketing strategy — effectively establishing a brand identity through design that is innovative, eye-catching, and memorable.” A repeat winner in this category, T&B prides itself on having a design-and-digital-services department devoted to keeping area businesses on the cutting-edge of website- and mobile-development trends.
In a post-COVID business landscape, virtual networking is increasingly the norm. Thankfully, the county’s largest business-membership organization, the Business Council of Westchester (BCW), has been offering a fleet of top-tier virtual, live-streamed events since the pandemic began. With the BCW, scores of the county’s biggest power players came to meet and make plans about the future of Westchester. Recent hit events have included the 2021 Hall of Fame Awards in April and June’s 2021 Rising Stars: 40 Under 40 Awards.
While we homeowners splash around in our pools in full relaxation mode, we seldom think about the incredibly hard work required to create and sustain a trusted and highly regarded pool company — yet that is the status Coral Sea Pools has enjoyed since soon after its 1982 founding. As a fully insured contractor, Coral Sea Pools designs and builds pools of all shapes and sizes throughout Westchester and beyond. The company also revitalizes existing pools and provides ongoing pool-maintenance services for its clients. With the increased demand for pools throughout the pandemic showing no sign of letting up, Coral Sea Pools is set up for continued growth in the region.
Founded in 2009, Tarrytown-based Kings Capital Construction has established a strong reputation for its construction management, general contracting, and sitework development services throughout the Tristate area. With projects in the multifamily, industrial, retail, restaurant, and public-works sectors, the firm’s diverse offerings are part of its competitive advantage. One current high-profile job is as the lead construction firm for the $32 million Regency on Hudson luxury-apartment project currently going up in Yonkers. The firm is also committed to giving back as a community supporter and was proactive in making donations to area organizations during the pandemic.
Founded in 1982 in Mount Vernon, Ace Endico embodies the family-business success story, with the hallmarks of hard work and strategic moves leading to success and expansion. Today, the food service and logistics provider operates out of a 200,000 sq. ft. distribution center (equipped 14 temperature zones) in Brewster, delivering food and supplies to restaurants and other commercial kitchens throughout Westchester and the region. Smart pivoting during the pandemic led to the launch of its Ace Endico to Go home-delivery service (no longer operating) to keep revenues strong when its restaurant clientele were struggling. Ace Endico’s focus on partnerships, food safety, and high-tech monitoring of scheduling and deliveries have helped the company thrive.
From his selection as one of 914INC.’s own Westchester Wunderkinds in 2016 to today, VeeKast founder/president/CEO Donvil Collins has been on a rapidly upward trajectory as a business owner. His full-service video-production firm, based in White Plains and founded in 2006, has produced premier video content for both in-person and virtual events for countless clients in Westchester’s business and nonprofit communities. When virtual events became the only option during the pandemic, VeeKast’s broadcast platform quickly became an essential tool for fundraising, networking, and other corporate-event services — producing more than 150 virtual and hybrid events over 14 months. Having solidified its reputation as a go-to source for these services, VeeKast is poised for growth in its market niche.
EXCELLENCE IN NONPROFIT
The United Way of Westchester and Putnam has always been a force for good in the community, and the nonprofit stepped up in a major way throughout the health crisis, with its COVID-19 Response and Recover Efforts helping more than 725,000 families in the region to date. Among other efforts in 2020, UWWP distributed 406,655 pounds of free groceries to 18,925 households in Westchester and Putnam counties and gave $9 million worth of essential goods to its nonprofit, academic, and government partners, to help meet the basic needs of the people it serves.