By Paul Adler, Nick Brandi, Amy R. Partridge, and Gina Valentino
With editorial assistance by Janice King and Maria Labriola
Meet the winners of our second annual Best of Business Awards! These local companies were selected by our readers as the favorites in their fields, spanning a wide range of B2B categories, including accounting, social media, commercial real estate, business insurance, and many more — plus off-the-clock picks like Best Happy Hour and Best Place to Entertain a Client.
From more than 2,000 total votes cast in our online ballot, which ran earlier this year, these are the companies that emerged victorious. Help us celebrate them during our Best of Business Week, starting September 7 through the 11.
In these stressful times, it’s gratifying to know that tucked away in Valhalla is a national top-40 accounting-and-advisory firm ready to help you successfully navigate your business’s future. More than 50 years in operation, MBAF today boasts a team of 600 principals and associates serving a diverse client roster that spans the entire globe. In addition to its time-proven prowess in the areas of assurance, advisory, tax & accounting, tech consulting, and private-wealth management, MBAF is a Best Place to Work honoree four years running.
Thompson & Bender
With an elite client roster that boasts such names as Regeneron, FUJIFILM USA, PepsiCo, and the City of Yonkers, Thompson & Bender remains a juggernaut of advertising and public relations in the region. Led by principals Dean Bender, Geoff Thompson, and Elizabeth Bracken-Thompson, T&B has spent more than 30 years honing the in-depth knowledge of the community it serves, providing not only high-profile PR but also crisis communications, creative and digital services, social media services, and event planning and promotion.
Corporate Audio Visual Services
Thirty-five years is a long time to perfect your craft in an industry as relatively young as audio-visual services. But that’s how long Corporate Audio Visual has been serving its local and even national clientele. A Westchester County Association Apex Award winner and Business Council of Westchester Hall of Fame inductee, Corporate AV, as it is known in the business community, offers an array of live-event services, including AV production, event collaboration and consulting, as well as such tech-oriented services as Webcasting, equipment rental and purchase, system design and installation, video production, and on-site tech support.
A key aspect of Progressive Computing’s success over its 27 years of existence is the company’s flexibility and propensity to adapt quickly to shifting or evolving concerns and needs in the marketplace. Today, serving such prominent clients as the Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts, Progressive Computing specializes in fostering long-term relationships with clients as a managed-service provider, offering capaibilities including IT, cloud computing, vendor management, data backup and recovery, VoIP, and the ever-more-crucial field of cybersecurity.
The competition in this category is stiff, yet tredici NORTH is two for two with 914INC. readers. Part of that popularity no doubt stems from $10-or-less bar snacks, including succulent fried calamari, black truffle-and-mushroom arancini, a brick-oven pizette, and the ever-popular “Inside Out” meatballs. Colleagues can wash it all down with craft cocktails such as the bourbon-/sweet-vermouth-based Doc Holliday, gin-based Foxy Lady, or the Drunk’n Pumpkin, with pumpkin-infused vodka, homemade pumpkin puree, cinnamon, brown sugar, and nutmeg syrup. Less adventurous types can of course rely on free-flowing
cosmos, martinis, wine, and beer — all reasonably priced.
The Westchester Bank
Multiple county locations
Twelve years ago, the founders of The Westchester Bank identified a gap in the marketplace and filled it with a bank that offered the same products and services as larger financial institutions but with a more intimate, community feel. The gambit paid off, because, as president/CEO John Tolomer asserts, The Westchester Bank not only can react more immediately to market trends but also make decisions and implement new initiatives much faster than its more monolithic counterparts. The result is a focused, county-centric institution that has increased its workforce nearly tenfold since inception while augmenting its assets by more than 2,300%.
Lifetime local Weezie Mullaly has rooted herself in the bedrock of the Westchester commercial insurance scene like few others. Not only is her smiling face practically a fixture on local TV, the company she represents, GEICO, celebrated her not long ago as the Local Agent of the Year for leading her Central Avenue office to record-setting sales growth. Fully entrenched in the community, Mullaly supports a staff of more than 20 bilingual sales and service agents; she serves on the Junior Board of Family Services of Westchester and is active in initiatives with Volunteer New York!, among other charities.
Boies Schiller Flexner LLP
Armonk-based Boies Schiller Flexner LLP (BSF) has been called “a national litigation powerhouse” by The Wall Street Journal and “one of America’s most successful and sought-after law firms for cases that matter” by The American Lawyer. Led by founder and eponym, David Boies, and with 14 offices located throughout the U.S. and London, BSF has earned a worldwide reputation for taking on the most groundbreaking cases when the odds are especially long and the stakes especially high.
Business Council of Westchester
More than 1,000 members strong, comprising everything from multinational corporations to solopreneurships, the BCW is the county’s largest business membership organization. It not only hosts myriad networking events and such illustrious keynote speakers as Timothy Cardinal Dolan and Hillary Rodham Clinton, it provides business-friendly resources including the Data Exchange, which stockpiles key demographic data about the region, and the LEAP program, which offers members direct access to lobbying efforts at the local, county, state, and national levels. Meanwhile, its brand-new Westchester EDGE program is an economic-development initiative designed to ensure the county’s economic
prosperity now and in the future.
In the 914’s competitive PR-and-marketing sector, the young upstarts of Enormous Creative have carved a successful niche for themselves in just a few years. This multi-award-winning team prides itself on excellence in visual content packaging, offering a full complement of video production and distribution services, including purchasing commercial airtime and strategic social media placement. Today, their client roster boasts the likes of Sabra, Macy’s, and the Hudson Hospitality Group. Other touted services include traditional marketing & PR campaigns, graphic design, and Web design.
Diamond Properties has earned a reputation for finding viable commercial properties and incisively pinpointing areas where they can be improved, which it then executes through a combination of capital improvement, market repositioning, and hands-on property management. The results of this vision and quality-driven customer service are consistently high tenant satisfaction and lease renewal rates. Throw in behind-the-scenes attributes like computer-controlled climate systems, modern elevators, advanced telecommunications, life-safety and card-access security systems, along with a robust commitment to solar energy production, and it’s easy to see why Diamond is a back-to-back winner in this category.
H2M Architects + Engineers
Ranked on this year’s Engineering News Record’s “500 Top Design Firms” and “Top Starts” lists, H2M has consistently expanded, improved, and fine-tuned its commercial real estate footprint throughout the county. With a host of vital civic-minded projects, sponsorship of the ACE Mentor Program of America, Inc., and a 2018 Newsday “Best Place to Work,” H2M is as focused on community and staff well-being as it is on its architecture and infrastructure design services.
Rakow Commercial Realty Group
When it comes to real estate, you need someone who knows what they’re doing. For more than three decades, White Plains’ Rakow Commercial Realty Group has helped tenants, owners, and buyers negotiate favorable terms for selling, leasing, purchasing, renegotiating, and relocating properties through its deep regional insight and long-term partnerships with thousands of area businesses. Recently hiring six employees and expanding to a new office in Bergen County, NJ, Rakow is a battle-tested brokerage firm on the rise.
National Realty and Development Corp
With a portfolio that includes more than 75 projects throughout the Northeast, ranging from large-scale shopping centers to luxury residential spaces, this Purchase-based real estate developer is a local powerhouse. Beginning the final phase of the $100 million, 14-acre gated community WatermarkPointe in New Rochelle this past April (offering a host of advanced asset management services, to boot), NRDC is considered to be among the elite real estate developers in Westchester today.
A division of the popular New York Hospitality Group, Caperberry Events has earned a reputation for customizing events to meet the demands and specifics of each client’s function. It creates custom menus for any type of event, from formal, sit-down corporate outings to self-service dinner gatherings. Encompassing all aspects of the catering experience, Caperberry Events attends to the staffing, rental needs, event coordination and logistics, venue suggestions, and location flexibility — all of which is overseen by individual event specialists who work with clients to translate their event visions into a meaningful business outcome.
Crowne Plaza White Plains
Meeting event goals efficiently is Crowne Plaza White Plains’ promise. The hotel guarantees a two-hour response time to initial inquiries and will render a personalized event proposal within 24 business hours. The facility boasts 17 distinct meeting spaces, with the largest able to accommodate up to 800. A Crowne Plaza White Plains corporate event includes a personal meeting director, who conducts daily debriefings and is trained to work within budgetary limits. The end result is a hassle-free corporate event that allows your attendees to worry about nothing other than the business at hand.
Collins Brothers Moving Corporation
Founded in Larchmont in 1910, Collins Brothers Moving Corporation began with Mr. William Collins, a horse, and a wagon. Today, the company has more than 275 employees equipped to move corporate clientsanywhere from down the block to around the world. Each Collins project manager has more than 10 years of hands-on experience and is trained to design an efficient plan of relocation — monitoring the entire process while reducing cost. The company also offers special racks for packing file rooms, computers, and other technological equipment.
Since its 2011 genesis, Serendipity Labs has helped redefine the role of shared office space in our region and beyond with full- and part-time coworking stations, team rooms, and private offices, all in clean and contemporary digs. Now with nearly 40 locations, stretching from Los Angeles to Orlando, as well as a network of franchisees, Serendipity has also begun expansion overseas. With workplace services that address a whole host of meeting, network, or A/V needs, it’s easy to see why Serendipity Labs remains a top coworking spot.
Leros Point to Point
Called upon each year to handle transportation needs for Westchester Magazine’s Best of Westchester gala — the county’s biggest single-night event of the year — Leros is equally adept at providing corporate services for Westchester companies. Boasting a network that extends to all 50 states and more than 400 domestic cities, this 30-year-old company provides a pristine, chauffeur-driven fleet that includes Lincoln sedans, Mercedes vans, and buses that can accommodate up to 55 passengers. Leros has also earned a rep for streamlined communications and reservation services.
Transporting perishable freight is a detail-oriented business — and many companies enlist Capital Logistics to handle those details for them. Since 2009, the firm, a full-service third-party logistics provider which specializes in perishable and temperature-controlled freight services, has been dedicated to delivering top-notch customer service for its clients. Capital Logistics’ expertise stretches across truck, rail, ocean, air, and intermodal transportation, for both domestic and international shipping. The firm has served satisfied customers ranging from budding startups all the way up to the Fortune 500.
Strategies for Wealth
For 85 years, Strategies for Wealth has aided many in planning their financial future, with the goal of delivering “protection and prosperity.” What began as a Guardian Life Insurance agency in 1934 that aided property-and-casualty firms on Wall Street during the Great Depression has evolved into one of the county’s most respected financial-services firms. With a Rye Brook HQ (in addition to three other locations), Strategies for Wealth seeks to help Westchesterites build significant wealth not only for themselves but also their progeny. Specialties include life insurance, disability insurance, retirement planning, and wealth management.
Thompson & Bender
www.thompson-bender.comIn addition to its well-known PR and advertising efforts, Thompson & Bender’s graphic design services are equally sought-after. The firm’s in-house design department prides itself on delivering creative solutions grounded in marketing strategy and enabling clients meet to the demands of today’s fast-moving marketplace. Its team promises eye-catching and innovative design, brand identity, and design-production services that cut through the clutter to help companies clearly deliver their message.
With a convenient location off I-287 in White Plains, Hyatt House is ideal for those out-of-county business visitors making Westchester their home for a day or two or longer. In proximity to the corporate offices of Morgan Stanley, PepsiCo, MasterCard, and IBM, as well as such higher-learning institutions as Purchase College, Manhattanville College, and Pace University, among others, the hotel boasts amenities that include free internet access, spacious meeting facilities, a 24-hour exercise room, free parking, and laundry, to appease busy execs.
Arco Cleaning Maintenance Company
Since 1946, Arco Cleaning has been serving Westchester’s offices, retail spaces, medical buildings, and more on a contract or regular (daily, weekly, monthly) basis. Priding itself on timely and courteous service, the company tackles cleaning projects of all scales with exceptional attention to detail. Whether the task is bathroom cleaning and disinfecting, professional window cleaning, furniture and upholstery cleaning, floor maintenance, or something else entirely, Arco is committed to delivering clean, safe, and presentable spaces.
YWCA In the Company of Women
More than 600 of the county’s most prominent women and men gather every spring at YWCA White Plains & Central Westchester’s principal fundraising event — In the Company of Women. Now in its 12th year, the event supports YCWA’s programs benefiting women and children countywide. Attendees share thoughts and inspiration during the luncheon, in the advancement of the organization’s mission: to empower women and eliminate racism. This year’s event was held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic and honored keynote speaker and Westchester Community College president Dr. Belinda Miles.
Waldner’s Business Environments
As a multigenerational, family-operated, woman-owned business founded in 1939, Waldner’s Business Environments has relied on integrity and customer service to establish a long-term and loyal client base. In addition to a robust product line that ranges from seating, furniture, and workspaces to storage, architectural products, and even self-cooled desks, the team at Waldner’s offers a wide variety of workplace design support and space management. The firm also offers financial solutions, including multiple leasing strategies, and in-house financing.
One might not suspect Trattoria 632 as a hotspot for entertaining clients, but its nexus-like location amid such institutions as PepsiCo, Mastercard, General Foods, and the gargantuan 800 Westchester Avenue office complex means this Northern Italian restaurant/pizzeria is sitting pretty. And why not? The restaurant boasts a cozy ambience in concert with a client-pleasing menu including pizzas, rich desserts, and such regional favorites as osso bucco, Chicken parm, and a bone-in filet mignon. A private dining room for corporate get-togethers is also available.
Westchester Country Club
One could easily picture Mad Men’s Don Draper expertly wooing new clients at Westchester Country Club, given its sprawling grandeur and historic patina (it was founded nearly a century ago). Today’s execs name it a great place for entertaining potential business partners thanks to the club’s two 18-hole golf courses, grass tennis courts, and eight-story clubhouse, which boasts four distinct dining venues, hotel accommodations, and two sumptuous ballrooms with an outdoor “terazzo” that can handle up to 1,000 guests. And, you can always name-drop past members, which include the likes of John Mara, Kenneth Cole, and Johnny Carson.
JP Promotional Products
If you need a brand-promoting product but don’t have a lot of time to waste, you may want to give JP Promotional Products a call. In operation for more than 40 years, JP Promotional offers regular rush and 24-hour rush on a wide range of customized items, including apparel, bags, drinkware, awards, and a whole host of desk accessories (check out JP’s line of eco-friendly products). The company ships to customers nationwide, offering free samples on hundreds of differentiated imprinted products, to minimize uncertainty and maximize convenience for clients.
City Limits Diner
Nestled right at the foot of one of Westchester’s busiest main drags, Central Avenue in White Plains, City Limits Diner couldn’t be better situated in terms of location. But it also benefits from being part of the Livanos Restaurant Group (which also owns the popular Moderne Barn in Armonk). The delightfully retro eatery (now a quarter-century old!) boasts clean, bright, wide-open spaces in which you and your clients can enjoy a fresh, well-prepared power breakfast any time of day, including in-house smoked salmon and pure Vermont maple syrup.
Sam’s of Gedney Way
If you’re dining to impress, Sam’s of Gedney Way is a top-tier choice for a power meal. (We recommend booking a table at the elevated dining platform, at the front of the restaurant.) Sam’s serves up a carefully crafted pastiche of tasty — and tasteful — soups, salads and appetizers, along with delectable sandwiches, burgers, and mains that will convince anyone you’re trying to win over that you know the score when it comes to classy yet unpretentious power dining.
First impressions are a key element to attracting new customers and growing a business, so the importance of branding cannot be overstated. For more than 30 years, Westchester companies of all stripes have entrusted their signage needs to Signarama in Hartsdale, which provides a robust array of both interior and exterior three-dimensional stationary signage, digital signage, and even mobile signage (including magnetized) for your company’s trucks, cars, and boats. Signarama Hartsdale is also skilled at sign installation and repair, logo and decal design and production, as well as lighting.
Thompson & Bender
While social media services were once a niche specialty, they’ve become a crucial part of the PR biz, as clients are demanding impactful social media solutions as part of any marketing/PR/advertising campaign. It makes sense then that powerhouse PR firm Thompson & Bender has elevated social media services to become one of their top priorities. The company’s offerings in this arena include social media strategy, audience engagement, content creation, metrics reporting, and influencer cultivation.
Larger than any facility of its kind on the Hudson, the 40K sq. ft. Spins Hudson, at Peekskill’s Charles Point Marina, is well situated to provide an unforgettable teambuilding experience. With an exhaustive repertoire of activities that include a 50-foot-high aerial ropes course, two-story laser tag, VR arcade games, and axe throwing, Spins Hudson will even help you plan your company’s next foray into teambuilding. Catering options run from $16 to $32 per person, with a similar option for beer, wine, and sodas from the on-site River Outpost Brewing Co.
Copy & Art Advertising
Led by founder Elena Rivera-Cheek, with VP/creative director Christina Reyes, Copy & Art Advertising brings no less than 30 years’ global agency experience to its Grand Street office in White Plains. Structured to be a full-service shop that provides individualized attention to its clientele, Copy & Art has had a big impact on the regional web-development scene. Copy & Art’s creative team either builds engaging, efficacious websites from scratch or reimagines existing ones in order to realize overarching branding goals while generating interest and activity among target markets.
“Business as usual” was nowhere to be found once COVID-19 hit Westchester (and the rest of the globe). With a stay-at-home order decimating giant chunks of business revenue, a large swath of the workforce falling ill, put on furlough, or completely phased out as the remainder adjusted to virtual operations, Westchester companies large and small struggled to adapt. Some area businesses, however, rose to the challenge, making strategic pivots to keep the business afloat and/or banding together to lend a helping hand to customers, COVID victims, or frontline employees. We chose to honor seven such companies this year as our Best of Business Editors’ Picks awardees.
Hospitality Resource Group
Social distancing and a strict stay-at-home order shut down the normally buzzing networking and fundraising scene in Westchester — with disastrous economic consequences for event-services businesses like Hospitality Resource Group (HRG) and their respective clients. But HRG developed an innovative way to keep galas and corporate events going virtually.
Teaming up with Elmsford-based Corporate Audio Visual Services, HRG developed a new remote platform that helps businesses and nonprofit organizations hold virtual events to effectively engage sponsors, donors, and partners online.
While HRG partner Robert Sanders notes that “nothing can completely replace the value of live, in-person events,” the platform provided a way for HRG’s clients to remain connected with their customers and business partners — and kept HRG moving its own business forward.
Run by longtime Westchester residents and serial-businessowner brothers Bill and Bob Purdy, Spry Therapeutics develops germ-resistant pillows for hospitals, hotels, and consumers.
In April, with a product seemingly tailor-made to help minimize the spread of COVID-19 germs, the siblings donated 10,000 of their Spry Medical Pillows to area hospitals, including Westchester Medical Center and Northwell Health, along with other facilities in New York and New Jersey. Spry’s pillows utilize a soft-surface filter technology, Pneumapure, which blocks all known viruses (including coronavirus), bacteria, dust mites, and more from entering the pillow and potentially contaminating patients and caregivers.
O Mandarin Chinese Cuisine
Restaurateur Peter Liu, owner of Hartsdale’s popular O Mandarin restaurant, faced a double whammy thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic: Not only was his industry among the hardest hit in terms of lost revenue and workforce reduction, the fact that he shares his ethnicity with the pandemic’s country of origin made his business a target for hostility and discrimination.
Despite the challenges, Liu was determined to carry on, remaining open and taking advantage of social media to let customers know the restaurant was offering takeout and delivery orders, keeping employees on the payroll (“giving them as many hours as possible, letting them do endless cleaning of our space,” he says), and giving back by donating food and helping to raise money to purchase medical supplies for local medical facilities.
Party Line Rentals
With parties of all kinds on hold during the shutdown, event-equipment rental firm Party Line Rentals put its experience assisting with and providing emergency-response solutions and services to good use. The firm, owned by husband-wife team Kenny and Karin Puff, used its inventory to help governments, medical facilities, and others in the region set up coronavirus testing and decontamination sites.
It was Party Line’s tents, in fact, that dotted the landscape at Glen Island in New Rochelle, where the state’s first drive-through testing area was established. Party Line also partnered with Westchester Medical Center, Mid-Hudson Regional Hospital, CINTAS, Con Edison, and NY State Health Department, offering similar services.
DeCicco & Sons
Multiple county locations
While national supermarket chains struggled to figure out how to keep customers and employees safe and shelves stocked during the beginning weeks of the coronavirus pandemic, DeCicco’s led the way as one of the earliest local businesses to effectively promote social distancing and other safety measures at its eight Westchester locations.
The family-run business was quick to enact new policies, such as admitting only 50 customers at a time and reorienting market aisles to allow for proper social distancing, providing hand sanitizer at entry and exit points, supplying employees with masks, and installing plexiglass at checkout lines.
In doing so, DeCicco & Sons provided Westchesterites with a peace-of-mind shopping experience that was much needed during the initial panic of the pandemic — continuing to serve its loyal customer base while garnering itself quite a bit of positive attention and feedback.
Child Care Council of Westchester
The Child Care Council of Westchester’s mission plays a large role in the success of the county’s business scene every day — after all, workers without adequate childcare aren’t able to effectively perform their jobs. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Council stepped up additionally, helping families and childcare providers navigate the crisis by assembling and maintaining a list of open childcare centers and launching a scholarship program (funded by the Westchester Community Foundation) to provide financial assistance for childcare costs to first responders and essential workers.
To assist childcare providers, the Council collected and distributed diapers and hand sanitizer, conducted webinars about potential federal assistance, and hosted weekly Zoom calls to help with timely issues affecting their businesses.
When the county executive’s office received 700 responses to a survey conducted at the height of the pandemic, asking what small-business owners needed the most help with, the overwhelming response was: immediate financial assistance and cash flow.
So, the Westchester County Economic Development Office, led by Bridget Gibbons, teamed up with Volunteer New York! to recruit volunteers to help Westchester businesses accomplish just that. More than 400 volunteers signed up within a week, and the two organizations worked to train them to help small-business owners prepare documentation and applications for Paycheck Protection Program loans.