NEW ROCHELLE – Nearly 700 people were on hand as the BCW celebrated its 15th year of the Business Hall of Fame by honoring six companies for their entrepreneurial spirit and commitment to community. The record-setting event was held April 25 at the Harbor Club at Glen Island in New Rochelle.
The 2017 award winners were:
Corporate Citizenship – Montefiore Health System
Entrepreneurial Success– Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate/Rand Realty
Family Owned Business– Levitt-Fuirst Associates LTD
Small Business Success– Leason Ellis, LLP
Women in Business– Valerie Wilson, Valerie Wilson Travel
Chairman’s Recognition– DeCicco & Sons
The annual awards dinner, which is considered one of the most prestigious business events of the year in Westchester, had a family theme this year as four of the six businesses honored started as small, family-owned companies. Videos presented told the story of companies that started from inspiration and grew through teamwork and family pride.
Valerie Wilson of Valerie Wilson Travel, Inc. and winner of the Women in Business Award, described how her company, now one of the top privately owned travel consulting firms, started with a simple idea to serve the affluent business traveler. Wilson thanked her daughters for believing in her and helping her to realize her dream.
John DeCicco Jr., who accepted the Chairman’s Recognition Award, said family pride had helped Frank DiCicco Sr. open the first supermarket in Pelham 40 years ago and it had also helped the sons build the business over the years, eliciting applauds when he introduced his grandfather who traveled from Italy for the ceremony.
Jason Schiciano of Levitt-Fuirst Associates, Ltd., winners of the Family Owned Business Award said that it was rare to find a third-generation business such as theirs in this day and age. The firm started in 1969, when David Levitt and Ken Fuirst combined their two family-run insurance businesses and opened their first office in Mount Vernon. Today they are one of New York’s most respected middle market independent insurance agencies serving large worldwide manufacturers, as well as local businesses.
While not a family-owned business, Leason Ellis LLP started from humble origins, when partners David Leason and partner Edward Ellis, started as a two-man law firm in White Plains with the idea that intellectual property law would be a burgeoning field. Partner Yuval Marcus who accepted the Small Business Success Award on behalf of the firm, said it was a longshot startup when it opened during the financial crash of 2008, but the partners instinct proved to be right. Leason Ellis is now among the largest intellectual property law firms in New York, managing global patent, trademark and copyright portfolios and litigating intellectual property disputes for clients of all sizes, including Fortune 100 corporations.
Although a titan compared to the small, family-owned businesses honored throughout the evening, Montefiore considers itself a people-and-employee first institution, said CEO Steven Sayfer who accepted the Corporate Citizenship Award on behalf of the healthcare giant, which is affiliated with White Plains Hospital, Sound Shore Medical Center and Burke Rehabilitation Center in Westchester. Safyer said that Montefiore was honored by the award, which he considered recognition of, not only Montefiore’s clinical excellence, but its commitment to patient care and employee satisfaction. He said he accepted the award on behalf of the “35,000 people who make things work day to day, doing it right.”
Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino congratulated the businesses on doing their part to boost the local economy by creating some of the more than 44,000 new private sector jobs created in Westchester over the past seven years. “You don’t just do a great job in your respective businesses. You put food on the table for a lot of people. Thank you,” he said.
Marsha Gordon, BCW President and CEO, congratulated the winners and said that the awards represented the breadth of the Business Council’s membership. “Westchester’s Business Hall of Fame is a much “sought-after” and coveted award that has truly become part of the business fabric of Westchester’s business community,” she said.