It’s not often that you hear a quote from Buddha at a business event. But on Tuesday night at the Business Council of Westchester’s (BCW) 2018 Hall of Fame awards dinner, honoree Geri Pell, CEO of Pell Wealth Partners, invoked the famed deity in her explanation of how she handles changes in her business. “I try to remember a great quote from Buddha: ‘Change is not painful. Only resistance to change is painful,” she said in a video message played before the packed house of some 600 attendees at the Glen Island Harbor Club in New Rochelle.
Change — how to respond to it, manage it, and build it into company culture — was the key theme last night at the annual event, which was hosted by News 12 anchor Scott McGee. Each year, the BCW selects several businesses to induct into its Hall of Fame, which it has been doing for 16 years. Notable past winners include Montefiore Health System, KeyBank, MasterCard, Empire City Casino, Leason Ellis LLP, Ginsburg Development, and Westchester Medical Center, among many others.
This year, the focus was on businesses driving change throughout the county. According to Marsha Gordon, BCW President and CEO, “these changemakers have one thing in common: A mission to excel in their respective industries.” Gordon, along with BCW board chairman Anthony Justic of Maier, Markey & Justic LLP, and event co-chair James Giangrande of Altium Wealth, headlined the ceremonies, which included networking, dinner, a speech from County Executive George Latimer, and the awards presentation.
The following awards were presented:
Corporate Citizenship Award: Rye Brook-based real estate firm Houlihan Lawrence, which is celebrating its 130th anniversary this year, has grown to achieve total sales volume of $6.5 billion in 2017. Accepting the award for the firm was CEO Stephen Meyers.
Entrepreneurial Success Award: Real estate developer RXR Realty has made a name for itself with its transformative work in Westchester, including the Larkin Plaza residential project in Yonkers, and 587 Main Street, a 28-story residential tower under construction in New Rochelle. Seth Pinsky, RXR executive vice president, received the award.
Family-Owned Business Award: Focusing on “the most intimate of personal products,” White Plains-based Combe, Inc. is known for brands including Clearasil, Just for Men, and Vagisil. The family-owned firm, founded in 1949, has more than 500 employees around the globe. Co-CEO Akshay Shetty accepted the award.
Small Business Success Award: Founded in 1981, D&D Elevator now services more than 800 customers in Westchester and the surrounding area. It boasts headquarters in Elmsford as well as a branch office in Manhattan and a new training center in Yonkers. President and CEO Robert Schaeffer was presented with the award.
Women in Business Award: Pell Weather Partners, founded by Geri Pell more than 30 years ago, goes beyond the traditional approach to wealth management by focusing on the emotional aspect of finance. It has worked well for Pell, who was on hand to receive her award: the Rye Brook firm manages a total of $1 billion in assets for clients throughout their portfolios.
Chairman’s Recognition Award: Commercial and industrial HVAC firm Atlantic Westchester, based in Bedford Hills, is a leader in environmentally friendly HVAC services, maintenance programs, remediation services, and energy solutions. On hand to accept the award was President Bud Hammer.
Pictured above: Seated, from left, Chris Combe, Chairman, Combe, Inc; Bud Hammer, President, Atlantic Westchester, Inc; Lisa Hammer, CFO, Atlantic Westchester, Inc; Gerri Pell, CEO, Pell Wealth Partners, and Thomas LaPerch, Commercial Group Director, Houlihan Lawrence. Standing, from left, Hall of Fame Dinner Co-Chair James Giangrande, Managing Director & Partner, Altium Wealth; Akshay Shetty, Co-CEO, Combe, Inc; BCW Chairman Anthony Justic, Partner, Maier, Markey & Justic, LLP; BCW President and CEO Marsha Gordon; Robert Schaeffer, President & CEO, D&D Elevator; Nunzio Meccariello, Treasurer, D&D Elevator, and Michael Bonardi, Vice President, D&D Elevator. Not pictured, Seth Pinsky, Executive Vice President and Investment Manager, RXR Realty