HIA-LI HONORS INNOVATION AND LEADERSHIP
AT THEIR HIGHEST
FOUR LONG ISLAND FIRMS
FOR BUSINESS ACHIEVEMENT
By Steve Vitoff
Distinguishing themselves through their varied and valuable contributions to the regional economy, four Long Island businesses were honored September 20 at the 24th Annual HIA-LI Business Achievement Awards gala luncheon held at Woodbury’s Crest Hollow Country Club.
The four award recipients — all standouts for their business leadership and their commitment to Long Island’s long-term growth and competitiveness — included:
- Lessing’s Hospitality Group of Oakdale, which was named the honoree among businesses employing a workforce of 100 or more. The award was presented to company President Michael Lessing by last year’s honoree in this “Large Business” category, Chris Valsamos of Hauppauge-based Castella Imports.
- Genser Cona Elder Law of Melville was the award recipient in the “Small Business” category, which includes firms with fewer than 100 employees. Firm Partners Jennifer Cona and Melissa Negrin-Wiener accepted the award from last year’s category winner, Karen Frank of Omnicon.
- Scotto & Melchiorre Group, a tax and accounting firm based in Islandia, took honors in the “Rookie of the Year” category comprising firms in operation less than five years. The award was accepted by Managing Partner Gregory Scotto and Partner Wesley Melchiorre. It was presented by HIA-LI Chairman Joseph Campolo, who was standing in for Gregg Schor of Protegrity Advisors, the 2017 category recipient.
- The Family Service League of Huntington, represented by President and CEO Karen Boorshtein, received the award among Not-for-Profit nominees. Michael Stoltz and Paula Fries of the Association for Mental Health and Wellness, 2017’s not-for-profit honoree, served as presenters.
“Through their hard work and their dedication to the community, these four organizations are setting wonderful examples for all Long Island businesses to emulate,” said Terri Alessi-Miceli, President of HIA-LI. “Chosen on the basis of a highly competitive process, they have each established an admirable record of success and innovation.”
The HIA-LI award selection committee evaluated such factors as industry leadership, creativity, successful business operations, corporate vision, and other dynamics contributing to regional growth and development.
Other finalists in the “Large Business” category included: American Diagnostic Corporation of Hauppauge, Flexible Business Systems also of Hauppauge, the Lewis Johs Avallone Aviles law firm of Islandia, and SUNation Solar Systems of Ronkonkoma.
And Not-for-Profit finalists included Commack-based Girl Scouts of Suffolk County, the Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind of Smithtown, Island Harvest in Hauppauge, and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul in Bethpage.
Addressing the luncheon, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone lauded the valuable role that HIA-LI and the Hauppauge Industrial Park play in our area.
“This organization and this industrial park are at the heart of our economy in Suffolk County and this entire region,” he said. “It really is what powers our economy here.”
He noted that five percent of jobs in Suffolk County are estimated to have a connection to the Hauppauge Industrial Park, and affirmed his desire to “continue to do everything we can in government to support this park and to support your efforts.”
“We’ve come together at this award ceremony to celebrate our love of Long Island and our desire to see it prosper and grow,” said HIA-LI Chairman Joe Campolo, managing partner of Campolo, Middleton & McCormick, LLP (CMM).
“CMM is a past recipient of the ‘Rookie of the Year’ award,” Mr. Campolo told attendees, “and I remember sitting here with my partners and finding out we had been selected. To this day, it remains a pinnacle moment for us and our firm.
The HIA-LI Reporter asked recipients for their perspectives on Long Island as a business milieu, and about success drivers within their organizations.
Michael Lessing of Lessing’s Hospitality Group said that Long Island outshines New York City as a place for aspiring business executives to work and advance their professions.
“In a lot of people’s eyes, it’s a better place to raise a family here,” he said, “and to move forward on their career paths. That’s because of the quality of life here and because of all the natural resources that we have. People love the beaches and they love the environment here.”
“Long Island’s a great place to do business,” said Jennifer Cona of Genser Cona Elder Law. “There’s a million opportunities here. We have a great talent pool to pull from, ranging from millennials right on up to people of all ages.
“It’s been an honor to serve this population, and to work with these incredible people who are colleagues, mentors and friends.”
The Scotto & Melchiorre Group’s Gregory Scotto says he takes pride in the company’s team-building ethic, and in its approach to developing a capable and independent workforce.
“We look at our team as adults and professionals,” he says, “so we don’t micromanage. Employees are given responsibilities, and if they don’t get the job done, we see it in the work product. We’re not going sit on top of somebody. This approach gives people the power to grow and to find out who they really are inside.”
Karen Boorshtein of Family Service League — which operates more than 60 social service programs in some 20 locations island-wide – took note of a recent evolution within her client base.
“We’re seeing an increased level of severity with the problems people are presenting,” she said. “People are really very ill who come to us and need our services, whether it is mental health or substance abuse. And lots of people are homeless on Long Island.”
To be successful in the not-for-profit world, Ms. Boorshtein advises organizations to “keep your mind on the mission, don’t have a lot of mission drift, and always look at programs that will enhance your mission and support it.”
Luncheon guests were entertained by the FREE Players Drum & Bugle Corps. The corps is sponsored by Family Residences and Essential Enterprises, a Bethpage-based service organization assisting more than 4,000 individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities, mental illness and traumatic brain injury.
The specific criteria used in determining award recipients included a commitment to improving Long Island’s business community, a firm’s recent accomplishments, and its track record in innovation. The selection team also looked at a firm’s revenue and profitability trends over the past three years, its three to five-year vision for the future, and the quality of employer-employee relations. Finally, the committee took into account the company’s expansion into new markets, its industry leadership, and its ability to overcome adversity.