American Express has nothing on the Queens Chamber when it comes to saying, “membership has its privileges.” The number of quality people and companies that I have been introduced to by the Chamber in the past 12 months plus would make you think we were living in pre-COVID-19 times.
That is because Tom Grech and his great staff realized that their mission “to foster connections, educate for success, develop/implement programs and advocate for members’ interests” was never more vital than during this ongoing pandemic that has had the potential to cripple the economy at times.
Whether through virtual gatherings, Taking Care of Business LIVE!, small business webinars, or Facebook LIVE! Fridays, the Chamber is to be commended for consistently offering relevant and timely online resources for their members and the Queens business community as a whole.
It is hard to believe that it was a year ago that the Chamber hosted one of their last in-person events in the Bulova Building – Knockout Networking with Michael Goldberg. This was set up in large part by member Tommy DiMisa, aka Tommy D, The Non-profit Sector Connector whose Philanthropy in Phocus interviews from the attic of his home are proof of his commitment to helping others.
This ethic of selflessness and genuine concern for others is not unusual for Queens Chamber members as Amir Sobhraj and his team at Zara Realty stepped up in the spring to contribute reusable bags for a Catholic Charities of Brooklyn and Queens pop-up food panty event. Around the same time the Chamber facilitated a huge Easter candy donation to the families of member organization Hour Children. More recently Chamber member Mark Berger of Securitech Group Inc. contributed financially to Marguerite’s Pantry at Our Lady of Fatima in East Elmhurst just a few blocks from the Chamber’s offices.
Just about ten minutes away in Elmhurst is the New Life Community Health Center which was the beneficiary of an ultrasound machine donated by the Father John J. Murray Knights of Columbus Council that I belong to at American Martyrs that we had purchased from Nat and Andrew over at Chamber member Ultrasound Solutions Corp.
Other connections that the Chamber staff have made has had a more direct impact on my family’s business. At the Korea Trade Expo, I met Sanjay Mukhi of member City National Bank which focuses on entrepreneurs and professionals. During one February visit to an event at the Bulova Building I was introduced to member K.Y. Chow of GM Printing and his company printed our 155thanniversary brochures later that year. Rachel Kellner of Aigner Chocolates, after reading my article in a previous issue, was kind enough to send a sample box to her fellow member. The result of that thoughtfulness was JW Hampton making a box of delicious Aigner chocolates the gift of choice this year for all their holiday customer gift giving.
While we are on the subject of food, I had the privilege of meeting Loycent Gordon of the Historic Neir’s Tavern in Woodhaven at one of the members networking events and am thankful to know Mark Boccia of Bourbon Street and Austin Ale House. Of course, there are countless members in the food and beverage industry who continue to need our support as best we can. The Chamber has played an important role in fighting for these businesses and the value of their intervention should not be underestimated.
Another initiative the Chamber undertook to assist local businesses was the QCC Internship Connection program they began last summer that matched Queens residents attending college or recent graduates with businesses that needed improving their online presence including building websites, SEO, etc. I am happy to say that after sharing the opportunity with my network, one of my friend’s daughters was matched with member Richard Lipson’s company Rainbow Leather and is still employed there to this day.
Knowing that JW Hampton is in the logistics industry, I have been introduced to members Larry Zogby at RDS Same Day Delivery Services and John Comack at Green Energy Technology (JGM Construction) who installs charging stations for electric vehicles along with brothers Brad and Tom Caracciola at future member (?) GroundForce Logistics.
When I started to get involved in helping property managers and owners get the free Amazon Key for Business system installed in their buildings, I was quickly introduced to member Victor Hunt who founded The Astorian as well as other industry professionals.
Finally, one of our longtime service providers Bobby Giurintano who does a great job over at TGI Automation is already a member and deserves mention for years of great service.
There are so many great members out there still to meet and I look forward to us connecting in 2021 whether virtually or eventually…fingers crossed…in person. It should not be surprising that the more I have engaged with the Queens Chamber and its membership the more I have gotten out. I would venture to say much more than I put in in fact and that is high praise.
In the end Tom and team at the Chamber are always thinking about new ways to help their members and to contribute to the growth of our economy here in Queens. With a soon-to-be 13th different working committee and virtual events continuing throughout the upcoming months, their willingness to make introductions is invaluable and the reason why Queens Chamber membership truly does have its privileges.
Michael Shoule is Vice President of his family’s 156-year-old logistics company, JW Hampton https://www.jwhampton.com/ co-chair of our newly formed Family-Owned Business Committee and author of the children’s book My Daddy Loves Boston College Football