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It’s an exciting time for Bill Smith, the founder and CEO of Infinity Fuel Cell & Hydrogen, Inc. The company is at the forefront of the hydrogen fuel cell industry, highlighted by their involvement in a NASA program to launch one of their fuel cells into space on an unmanned ship in September. The fuel cell, which has been in the works since 2005, is now being tested to simulate conditions in outer space. The technology has other potential applications as well, drawing interest from the U.S. Navy. “It turns out that the same technology is very useful for use underwater, another air independent application, an application where you don’t have access to outside air,” Smith said.
CBIA’s BizCast team sits down with James Shmerling, the president CEO at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center to discuss his 42 year career, navigating through the pandemic, and the role of children’s hospitals in the community. “We have to understand and appreciate that there is a definite role for children’s hospitals,” Shmerling said. “But we have a much bigger role in trying to promote their health out in the community, engage with families, and work with social service agencies.”
CBIA’s BizCast team sits down with Downes Construction vice president of field operations John Fraioli and apprentice carpenter Michael Feliciano to discuss the company’s apprenticeship program. Fraioli, who was born and raised in New Britain, started as an apprentice carpenter himself with Downes 42 years ago. “I’ve seen our company grow from probably 15 employees to now at 65 employees,” Fraioli said. Feliciano is a recent graduate of New Britain High School, who learned about Downes and the apprenticeship program after the company gave a presentation in his construction class. “It really stood out to me and caught my eye,” Feliciano said. “They explained how construction touches everything. “They were explaining how we don’t start with the walls, but the foundation. I took that not just literally but metaphorically because you have to build that base especially when you’re young right out of high school build that base and work your way up.”
CBIA’s BizCast team speaks with TD Bank’s Mike LaBella about the bank’s history in Connecticut and how it works to help small businesses thrive in today’s economy. LaBella will also open CBIA’s Made in Connecticut 2022 Manufacturing Summit Oct. 27 at the Toyota Oakdale Theater. A year ago when he spoke at the conference, LaBella said we were in a different place—unsure of where the economy was going to go, and with interest rates near zero. “Today we have 8% inflation, the highest in 30 years, interest rates that are rising,” LaBella said. “It just shows what businesses in and of themselves have to go through, and how fast they have to change. We’re really there to support them.” LaBella said he encourages businesses to use the resources that are available to them to help with different needs.
CBIA’s BizCast team speaks with Shipman & Goodwin LLP’s Jaime Welsh and Metropolitan Community Church of Hartford’s Rev. Aaron Miller about ways they support the transgender community and how businesses can support employees. The two organizations partnered with GLAD and other community groups for GLAD’s Transgender ID project, an ID clinic that offers legal name and gender change services to people.
CBIA’s BizCast team speaks with CBIA HR Counsel Diane Mokriski about complaints employers receive by mail and how to respond. Mokriski said there are various types of complaints employers may receive from agencies related to CHRO or EEOC discrimination, an OSHA safety violation, improper tax withholding or a complaint related to a Department of Labor violation. Mokriski breaks down the process after receiving a CHRO discrimination complaint, and advice employers should adhere to throughout the investigation.
CBIA’s BizCast team speaks with Nicholas Gondek and Emily Turcan from Adia about the company’s focus on additive manufacturing. Gondek is the director of additive manufacturing and Turcan is a strategic account manager. Formerly known as ACT 3D Equipment and Services, the team rebranded to Adia earlier this summer. The team helps large and small companies throughout various industries develop 3D printing solutions.
CBIA’s BizCast team speaks with Paul Savas, vice president of Comcast Business for the western New England region about what the company is doing to support small businesses. Savas said they launched Comcast RISE in 2020 as part of a Comcast $100 million commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
CBIA’s BizCast team speaks with Robinson + Cole LLP managing partner Rhonda Tobin about the firm’s plans to move its downtown Hartford office to a new location in the city. The firm announced it would be moving to One State Street, known as the Hartford Steam Boiler building, last month. “Our top mission is to deliver outstanding client service, and the way that we do that is to recruit and retain the best talent,” Tobin said.
CBIA’s BizCast team speaks with Michael Weinstock, M&T Bank’s Hartford regional president about the new initiatives the bank has implemented to support small businesses across Connecticut. “We’re committed to Connecticut because we believe it is a good place to live, to work, and a prime location for businesses to thrive,” Weinstock said.
CBIA's Bizcast team went to Pathways Academy in West Hartford where student interns presented projects to business clients, including Travelers and Hartford Healthcare.
CBIA’s BizCast team speaks with Keith Bishop, a fifth-generation owner and CEO of Bishop’s Orchards in Guilford. Bishop’s family started the farm in 1871, growing vegetables and producing dairy. It has since grown into a destination. The farm offers everything from apple and pumpkin picking, to wine tasting, and other entertainment. Bishop and his three children work full-time to help run the family business. “I’m very proud of the family and where we have come,” Bishop said. He said they have been adapting to the times, including the lingering pandemic challenges. Overall, he said farming in Connecticut is more costly than other areas of the country, especially with the regulations. “There are a lot of good sound policies, but carrying them out as individual businesses costs money,” Bishop said. The CBIA BizCast is made possible through the generous support of Google. Please rate, review, and subscribe to the BizCast wherever you get your podcasts—we appreciate your support! If you have a story to tell, contact Amanda Marlow.
CBIA BizCast host Ali Warshavsky speaks with Sentry Commercial co-founder and president Mark Duclos about post COVID-19 trends in leasing large office and industrial spaces. Duclos said remote and hybrid work environments changed what large corporations needed for space. He said landlords of larger buildings now have to evaluate if they can rent out a full space to a single company, need to divide it up for several, or even knock a building down. However, because of the e-commerce boom during the pandemic, Duclos said he saw large corporations seeking out more land in Connecticut and industrial spaces. “Land rich towns that are well located centrally are going to do well and certainly Windsor was one of those, South Windsor, East Windsor, and Enfield more specifically than East Windsor,” said Duclos. The CBIA BizCast is made possible through the generous support of Google. Please rate, review, and subscribe to the BizCast wherever you get your podcasts—we appreciate your support! If you have a story to tell, contact Ali Warshavsky.
CBIA BizCast host Ali Warshavsky speaks with Oma’s Pride president and CEO Capri Brighenti and her son Adam DeJulius, the company’s COO. Brighenti said her grandmother, an entrepreneurial spirit, started the business in 1950 when she began selling eggs from the family’s Avon farm. Miller’s Food expanded to include the Oma’s Pride pet food brand in 2001. Keeping it in the family, DeJulius took over as COO three years ago. “You know in your heart the work that gives you meaning,” DeJulius said. “I knew in a way that this was always pulling at me. “There were some serendipitous happenings that brought this together. “Mom and I have always worked well together and saw things mostly through the same light and have the same drive which is unique.” The CBIA BizCast is made possible through the generous support of Google. Please rate, review, and subscribe to the BizCast wherever you get your podcasts—we appreciate your support! If you have a story to tell, contact Ali Warshavsky.
CBIA BizCast host Ali Warshavsky speaks with Bead Industries CEO Jill Mayer about the challenges of running a business in the post-pandemic world. Among those challenges is getting women back to the workplace, an issue with particular resonance at family run Bead, where women make up 60% of the workforce. As a mother, Mayer understands how tough it is to return to work after maternity leave and wanted to make it easier for employees at the company's Milford and Cheshire locations. Bead employees bring in their newborns for the first few weeks and are able to designate volunteers to watch their baby when they have a meeting. “It was my sister and I bringing in our babies which made us realize what an important transition it is for women in the workplace, especially first time moms,” Mayer said. The CBIA BizCast is made possible through the generous support of Google. Please rate, review, and subscribe to the BizCast wherever you get your podcasts—we appreciate your support! If you have a story to tell, contact Ali Warshavsky.
CBIA BizCast host Ali Warshavsky speaks with Candace Freedenberg, founder and chair of the woman-owned social enterprise Untapped Potential. Freedenberg says the organization works to remove barriers and create necessary stepping stones for women to get back into the workforce. “I looked at this as an economic opportunity,” said Freedenberg. “Whenever you have stagnated talent, a skilled workforce, and those with education and experience that are not able to add to the labor market, it’s untapped human capital.” Launched in 2015, Untapped Potential was this year named Woman-Owned Business of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration. The CBIA BizCast is made possible through the generous support of Google. Please rate, review, and subscribe to the BizCast wherever you get your podcasts—we appreciate your support! If you have a story to tell, contact Ali Warshavsky.
CBIA BizCast host Ali Warshavsky speaks with AI Engineers’ Kevin Hussain about the need to expand diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. Hussain, who is associate vice president of bridge inspections at the Middletown-based engineering firm, immigrated to the U.S. from the Caribbean. He chose to attend Capital Community College and the University of Hartford because each was affordable and he could get to classes using public transportation. “If I had a seat at the table, the first thing I am going to say is, I took a bus to college and to community college, how are we going to make this project or this university accessible for different people,” Hussain said. “That’s the key part of it; it comes down to this first part of DEI. Having people like us have a seat at the table, having those conversations, how do we improve infrastructure and transportation?” The CBIA BizCast is made possible through the generous support of Google. Please rate, review, and subscribe to the BizCast wherever you get your podcasts—we appreciate your support! If you have a story to tell, contact Ali Warshavsky.
CBIA BizCast host Ali Warshavsky speaks with Travis Christ, chief marketing officer for Avelo Air, about the airline maintaining its low-fare strategy as inflation drives up the cost of fuel and other supplies. Avelo launched in 2021 in Burbank, California, and made its maiden flight from Connecticut’s Tweed New Haven Airport last November. The demand was so high for the flights Avelo offered to six Florida cities, Christ said it expanded to a total of 14 destinations, despite many airlines facing a shortage of pilots. “We do fly 737s, which is a main line big jet which is what pilots want to fly,” said Christ. “For the pilots who want to fly home every night and do not want to be on the road all the time, it's a great option.” The CBIA BizCast is made possible through the generous support of Google. Please rate, review, and subscribe to the BizCast wherever you get your podcasts—we appreciate your support! If you have a story to tell, contact Ali Warshavsky.
CBIA BizCast host Ali Warshavsky speaks with Paul Dunford, co-founder of Green Check Verified in North Haven. Green Check Verified helps provide cannabis banking solutions and expert advisory services for financial institutions. The company began exploring the industry in 2014 and noticed that firms didn’t know how to connect with banks who were willing to work with them. “The biggest thing we had at the beginning was figuring out how we get financial institutions who have been told for years and years you cannot touch this, that you can, and here is how,” said Dunford. Dunford and co-founder Kevin Hart developed software that analyzes in real time the sales and inventory data flowing through each cannabis business in a portfolio and identifies any exceptions to the applicable regulatory requirements for their license type. The two first financial institutions Green Check worked with were in Connecticut. The CBIA BizCast is made possible through the generous support of Google. Please rate, review, and subscribe to the BizCast wherever you get your podcasts—we appreciate your support! If you have a story to tell, contact Ali Warshavsky.
CBIA BizCast host Ali Warshavsky speaks with John Walker, co-founder of Athletic Brewing in Stratford. Walker helped Bill Shuflet brew the original ales in 2017 when the avid athlete decided he wanted to enjoy a beer without worrying about alcohol affecting his performance the next day. Athletic Brewing was recently named to TIME’s list of the most influential companies, with Walker saying that the rapid growth is due to the passion behind the product and the brewery’s mission. Athletic is investing some of the proceeds from its success in philanthropic projects, including donating 2% of sales to protecting and restoring local trails. “It comes down to the team and it comes down to a passionate group of people who want to do this, who love what we do, who are making great products but are also making a huge impact in our environment and our communities,” said Walker. Athletic Brewing will celebrate the grand opening of its new MIlford headquarters in June. The company also has a location in San Diego. Please rate, review, and subscribe to the BizCast wherever you get your podcasts—we appreciate your support! If you have a story to tell, contact Ali Warshavsky.
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