Small businesses—those with 50 or fewer employees—are the lifeblood of the economy here in Westchester (and indeed, in the nation). In honor of National Small Business Week (May 12- May 16, 2014), we caught up with some of our favorite small businesses, three of the winners from the 2013 914INC Small Business Awards to chat about running a business here in the county. Our first conversation is with Mount Vernon-based American Christmas; look for two other Q&As this week and next.
And this year’s Small Business Awards article is currently in the works—submit your favorite Westchester small businesses today by clicking here.
AMERICAN CHRISTMAS INC, Mount Vernon
Fred Schwam, CEO
What has business been like for American Christmas over the past year?
Schwam: Revenue at American Christmas increased in 2013 by 24%. Some noteworthy new clients were Salvatore Ferragamo, Harry Winston, HBO, Columbia Presbyterian, MasterCard, Empire City Casino, the Citadel Outlets in Los Angeles, and Cartier in Geneva, Switzerland.
Has being chosen as one of 914INC’s Small Business Awards winners had any impact?
Schwam: We were truly honored to be chosen as one of the 2013 Small Business Award winners. We received great feedback after the article appeared in 914INC, and it helped to raise our profile in Westchester.
What are the key challenges facing small businesses like yours here in Westchester?
Schwam: We added 10 new, full time jobs at the beginning of 2014. My biggest challenge is adding people who are good today and have the potential to be great.
Do you feel that Westchester is a supportive community for small businesses?
Schwam: We moved to Westchester in 2010 after spending 22 years in the Bronx and being here has been very positive for my company. The City of Mount Vernon has been very supportive, the Business Council of Westchester has been a fantastic resource and advocate for local business, and the local press has been good to us with its coverage of the company.
What are some of your favorite Westchester small businesses?
Schwam: A few of my favorite Westchester small businesses are: Select Telecom-Valhalla, OLA Consulting Engineers-Hawthorne, Exigent Search Partners-Tarrytown, DataKey Consulting-Mount Kisco and Altium Wealth Management-Purchase. These companies all do quality work and have hands-on owners who are nice, smart people.