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MOHAWK VALLEY CHAMBERS OF COMMERCE:

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NORMAN POLTENSON/BUSINESS JOURNAL NEWS NETWORK

“Herb” Philipson’s to add two new stores this summer

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People on the Move:

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MARYLANDBASED CYBERSECURITY COMPANY OPENS ROME SATELLITE LAB Covering the Mohawk Valley

n INDEX: BRIEFS

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INSURANCE STORY

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MEATH VIEWPOINT

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NBT BANK STORY

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PEOPLE ON THE MOVE

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PHOTO CREDIT: RSIGNIA, INC.

Gary Philipson, president of “Herb” Philipson’s, stands in the company’s headquarters store in Rome. The eight-store chain is expanding to 10 locations with additions in DeWitt (June) and Oswego (September).

Presorted Standard U.S. Postage Paid Syracuse, N.Y. Permit # 568

NORMAN POLTENSON/BUSINESS JOURNAL NEWS NETWORK

AIS ACQUIRES D.C.AREA CYBER FIRM TO FURTHER ITS GROWTH


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PAR’s Rome Research unit wins $3.7 million Air Force subcontract NEW HARTFORD — Rome Research Corp. (RRC), a subsidiary of PAR Technology Corp. (NYSE: PAR), won a $3.7 million subcontract providing services at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base (WPAFB) in Dayton, Ohio. PAR Technology announced the subcontract in a news release distributed on May 5. Based in New Hartford, PAR provides hardware and software to the hospitality industry. PAR’s government business offers computer-based system design, engineering, and technical services to the U.S. Department of Defense and various federal agencies. Layton, Utah–based Rylex Consulting, LLC awarded the subcontract to provide client systems and server-administrator support services for the 88th communications group at WPAFB, PAR Technology said in the news release. RRC personnel will work as part of a

team of military, civilians, and other contractors supporting WPAFB and other AF and other activities of the U.S. Department of Defense. The work includes technical support in the configuration, implementation, operations, and troubleshooting of information systems and computers connected to the WPAFB network backbone, PAR said. The WPAFB network domains include the non-secure Internet protocol router network (NIPRNet) and secret Internet protocol router network (SIPRNet). RRC will provide technical support to include service-desk support; the receiving, configuration and/or deployment of end-user devices and common-use devices; and functional-systems support of servers/systems connected to the WPAFB network backbone and the AF standardwireless system, according to the PAR news release.

thINCubator appoints Miller as full-time director UTICA — Ryan Miller was recently appointed as full-time director of thINCubator, a business incubator and student accelerator located at 106 Genesee St. in the Bagg Square West district of Utica. As director, Miller will be the primary resource for connecting entrepreneurs with a network of mentors, community members, resources, and programming that will accelerate their business development as well as increase their likelihood of success, according to a news release from the Mohawk Valley Community College (MVCC). He will also help develop business ideas from student and community teams throughout the Mohawk Valley, and help foster a culture of entrepreneurship. “We want our community to be more aware of the resources and connections that thINCubator can provide, and make it the epicenter of creative connections in the Mohawk Valley,” Miller said in the release. “I’m looking forward to working together with our educational institutions and community partners to provide a creative environment for entrepreneurs, and to show that we can build innovative companies right here in upstate New York.” Miller will work with John Liddy, executive director of thINCubator, and Frank DuRoss, executive director of institutional

advancement at MVCC, to develop programs and events for both students and the community-at-large. “We are excited to have a passionate, local innovator representing us in the Mohawk Valley,” Liddy said. “When Frank DuRoss and I discussed ideal candidates, Ryan’s name was at the top of the list. We are excited to have him on board.” Miller was most recently the interactive director at Romanelli Communications. He is also one of the organizers of TEDxUtica and has created various community projects throughout the area, such as the Utica Firefly Storytelling project and YouticaEATS. thINCubator is currently accepting student and community applicants for its summer group. The program seeks to accelerate the process of idea creation, development, and deployment through mentoring and coaching, the release stated. Interested parties may apply at www.thincubator.co. The program begins on Thursday, June 11. thINCubator was launched by the Mohawk Valley Community College Foundation and is supported by partners like the Coleman Foundation, Community Foundation of Herkimer and Oneida Counties, Inc., and the Workforce Development Institute.

New York cheese output rose in 2014, with Italian varieties up the most New York farms produced 785 million pounds of cheese in 2014, excluding cottage cheeses. Production was up 1 percent from 2013 levels, according to the USDA’s New York field office. Italian varieties of cheese totaled 369 million pounds in New York last year, up 3 percent from 2013, and accounted for 47 percent of New York’s total cheese output in 2014. Mozzarella comprised 55 percent of the state’s Italian-cheese production, at 204 million pounds, up 4 percent from the previous year, the field office reported. Lowfat cottage-cheese production was down 6 percent, creamed cottage-cheese production fell 3 percent, and cottage-cheese curd production slipped 10 percent from 2013, according to the field office.

ConMed’s 1st-quarter profit falls, but beats analysts’ estimates UTICA — ConMed Corp. (NASDAQ: CNMD) reported net income of $6.3 million, or 23 cents a share, in the first quarter, down nearly 27 percent from $8.6 million, or 32 cents, in the year-ago period. The Utica–based surgical-device maker’s reported net earnings included restructuring costs in both 2015 and 2014, along with charges for dealing with a patent dispute, activist shareholders, and New York state corporate-tax reform in 2014, the company said in its April 22 earnings release. Excluding the impact of those items, ConMed’s adjusted net income of $11.8 million was down 13 percent and adjusted net earnings per share of 42 cents was off 14 percent from the year-prior period, ConMed said. The 42 cents beat the 41 cents’ consensus estimate of analysts queried by Zacks Equity Research. ConMed’s stock price jumped nearly 10 percent on the first trading day following the earnings report. ConMed manufactures surgical devices and equipment for minimally invasive procedures. The firm says its products are used by surgeons and physicians in a variety of specialties, including orthopedics, general surgery, gynecology, neurosurgery, and gastroenterology. The company has a direct selling presence in 16 countries outside the U.S., and international sales make up more than half of its total sales. ConMed employs 3,400 people total.


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BY NICK KAPTEYN nkapteyn@tmvbj.com ROME — Rsignia, Inc., a Maryland–based cybersecurity technology company, opened a new satellite lab at the Griffiss Institute at 725 Daedalian Drive in Rome in early April. Rsignia established the 240-square-foot lab to gain a foothold in upstate New York, according to Nancy Dillman, Rsignia’s president, CEO, and majority owner, citing the region’s “great talent pool” and business opportunities as decisive factors. One such opportunity is with the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Information Directorate, which is located at the same site — the Griffiss Business and Technology Park — as the institute. The AFRL conducts research for new and affordable cyber technologies, and other technologies, according to its website. The Griffiss Institute is a nonprofit that conducts technology transfer activities. Specifically, it takes “technology that is in the Air Force Research Laboratory portfolio and [tries] to bring it out into the world and commercialize it,” says James Cusack, prin-

cipal engineer at the institute. The Griffiss Institute is providing Rsignia with the lab space for free — for the time being, at least — through its business incubator program, according to Cusack. Apart from the lab space, the institute offers Rsignia high-speed Internet access, gives advice regarding government contracting work, and connects it to parts of the AFRL that are relevant to the company’s field, says Cusack. In return, says Griffiss Institute Director William Wolf, Rsignia shares some of its services. For example, it provides solutions to some of the institute’s IT issues, and has worked to improve both the capabilities and the safety measures of the institute’s large research network, according to Wolf. Cusack says once the company begins to generate profits, the institute will explore charging Rsignia for use of its facilities. Rsignia has four employees — one full time and three part time — staffing the new lab. Eventually, says Dillman, it would like to have about 25 employees working from there. The company as a whole currently has 10 employees — five full time, and five

Accelerate Sports, 82,500 sf Athletic Complex, Whitesboro, NY

PHOTO CREDIT: Rsignia

Maryland–based cybersecurity company opens Rome satellite lab

Joshua S. White, Rsignia Inc.’s chief scientist and VP, left, with William Wolf, director of the Griffiss Institute, right. Rsignia, a Rockville, Maryland–based cyber security technology firm, recently opened a new satellite lab and office in the Griffiss Institute’s building in Rome. Rsignia said it opened this new location to better support its growing relationship with the Air Force Research Laboratory and its close relationship with the Griffiss Institute.

part time. “We think that would be sufficient enough to support various projects that we have in the works,” she says, adding that positions in Rome, at least in the first year, will remain a mix of part and full time, and will ideally be filled by people living in the area. Most new positions would be created

for engineers. Mathematics, telecommunications, big data analysis, and eventually biometrics analysis are areas that will be in demand, says Joshua S. White, Rsignia’s chief scientist and vice president, and the lone full-time employee at the Rome lab. See rsignia, page 10

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MOHAWK VALLEY BUSINESS JOURNAL I MAY 25, 2015

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BY NORMAN POLTENSON npoltenson@tmvbj.com ROME — “Herb” Philipson’s, a Rome–based retailer that brands itself as “Outfitters for the Great Outdoors,” is opening two new stores this summer — expanding the chain from eight to 10. The DeWitt store, to be located at 3179 Erie Blvd. E. in the DeWitt Town Center (the former Hechinger Plaza), has a projected footprint of about 34,000 square feet. The store is scheduled for a June opening. Gary L. Philipson, president, negotiated a 5-year lease (and a 5-year extension) with Grazzi Zazzara, president of the Icon Companies, which owns the property. The second Herb Philipson’s store is scheduled to open in September in a plaza in Oswego. The lease was negotiated with Red Stone Investments and brokered by the Pyramid Companies. Red Stone specializes in development, commercial brokerage, and distressed debt with 75 properties encompassing 4.5 million square feet located in 15 states. Philipson’s Oswego venue is 35,000 square feet. “Both sites serve a stable population and are located in well-trafficked areas,” says Philipson. “We had been looking at oppor-

says Philipson. “We not only compete with the traditional big-box stores like Walmart, Dick’s, Gander Mt., Bass Pro, and Kohl’s, but we also compete with growing online sales. My dad’s approach was to carve out a niche of selling brand names at low, discounted prices. One way to grow the company was to expand our customer base beyond outdoorsmen to include men’s and ladies’ casual wear, work wear, active wear, footwear, and sporting goods. While offering a wider selection to our customers, we still follow the original concept of selecting brand names such as Under Armour, The North Face, Columbia, Timberland, Carolina Boots, and Levi’s. The challenge is to know your markets well and the right price points. There is no substitute for being on the floor listening to customers. In that sense, we still run a mom-and-pop operation. “Other challenges to competing are to create a critical mass so we can buy in volume with discounted pricing: You can’t do that as a small operator,” opines Philipson. “Then there is the need to create ‘multiple revenue streams’ by expanding the chain to blunt the impact of one or two major businesses in an area closing down or laying off a large number of employees. In small towns, it can be devastating when major

tunities for some time, but needed to find the right location at an affordable price. The stores should be a good fit for the area residents who appreciate brand names at a reasonable price.” Philipson’s father Herb opened his first store in Rome 1951. Herb Philipson’s Army & Navy Store, Inc. catered to hunters, anglers, and campers. Philipson opened a second store in Oneida 1970, a third in New Hartford in 1981, and a fourth in Herkimer in 1987. Further growth continued with the opening of stores in Watertown, Liverpool, Syracuse, Newark, and now DeWitt and Oswego. Philipson uses a Goldilocks approach to determining the size of each store: “The size is not too big, not too small; it’s just right.” From its original 800-square-foot location in downtown Rome, the company now owns or leases more than 420,000 square feet, including a new 100,000-square-foot distribution center in Sherrill. When the two new Herb Phillipson’s stores open, total employment should approach 200 full-time employees. The Business Journal estimates annual revenue at $35 million. The corporate stock and real estate are owned by the Philipson family. “Retail is a very competitive business,”

employers downsize or close.” Philipson ascribes much of the company’s success to his staff. “We rely on long-time employees who understand the importance of attracting and retaining customers by being knowledgeable about the products. Add to this the ability to choose staff who are people-friendly and glad to help customers without any high-pressure. The attitude [to be knowledgeable and helpful] starts with the leadership team: Dave Sawdy, senior vice president; Mike Palmer, CFO; Guy Viti, vice president of operations and merchandise; and Sandy Kelsey, vice president of human resources.” Herb Phillipson’s also relies on local partners to ensure its financial success: NBT for banking; Fitzgerald, DePietro & Wojnas CPAs, P.C. of Utica for accounting; and Saunders Kahler, LLP of Utica for legal work. While most retailers stress the phrase “location, location, location,” Philipson adds his own quip: “… promotion, promotion, promotion. To be successful, we use a broad spectrum of advertising [channels] to reach our audience. We still depend on newspapers, radio, and TV as well as in-store promotions and area trade shows to spread the message. But we have also focused on

Gary Philipson, president of “Herb” Philipson’s, stands in the company’s headquarters store in Rome. The eight-store chain is expanding to 10 locations with additions in DeWitt (June) and Oswego (September).

NORMAN POLTENSON/BUSINESS JOURNAL NEWS NETWORK

“Herb” Philipson’s to add two new stores this summer

redeveloping our website to sell gift cards online and to drive traffic to the stores. In addition, we utilize social media, such as Twitter and Facebook. Our Facebook account has more than 6,000 followers, [up

process to that of a tortoise. “My style is to spend a lot of time looking at opportunities to expand [the chain] and then to spend a lot of time evaluating the potential. I guess I am like a tortoise in that respect,” Philipson

nearly 100 percent since just last summer.] We promote our Price-Fighter Club loyalty program, which now has more than 50,000 registered members. Under discussion is creating mobile apps and being able to buy product online.” Another challenge for the growing retail chain is the region’s sluggish economy. “Central New York and the Mohawk Valley are tough markets without a lot of growth,” stresses Philipson, “but we are still bullish. Herb Phillipson’s is looking forward to seeing [economic] growth driven by nanotechnology, unmanned-aerial systems, and cybersecurity. We’re hopeful these and other developments will positively impact the area’s economy.” Philipson, 58, a New Hartford native, joined the family business in 1980, shortly after receiving his bachelor’s degree in history from Union College. He became the company’s president in 2001. He and his wife Lisa, who is a community-education coordinator at Mohawk Valley Community College, live in New Hartford. The couple has three children.

says reflectively. “I certainly have no ambition to be another Walmart, but there are opportunities to grow in the [brand-value, low-cost] niche where we feel comfortable. It just has to be the right fit.” There seems little doubt that Philipson is focused longer-term on future growth. Herb Phillipson’s took 52 years to create a four-store chain; it took just a dozen years to open another six. The pattern of growth reflects an acceleration. The expansion into DeWitt and Oswego followed the move within the last year from a 10,000-squarefoot distribution center to a 100,000-squarefoot replacement. Philipson is also aware that expanding beyond 12 stores requires additional management controls, something he is already considering. In the short term, however, the company president says he is focusing on opening two new stores and integrating them into his growing chain. Still, no one should be surprised by a future announcement that Herb Philipson’s is opening more stores. “We may be a small player,” acknowledges Philipson,” but we know how to compete with the big-box stores. Famous brands at low, price-fighter prices is still a winning formula.” n

Leadership style

Philipson describes his decision-making


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MAY 25, 2015 I MOHAWK VALLEY BUSINESS JOURNAL

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PESO – The New Communications Currency D

epending on which source you consider, the average American adult is subjected to somewhere between 2,000 and 20,000 messages each day. In our digitally enhanced, 24/7 world of instant communication, these images find their way to us through email, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, web browsing, online and traditional news consumption, television, and more. They come at us whether we want them or not. No matter how you slice it, we are overrun with information. Viewpoint So, if your organization is trying to get across an important message about your product or service, utilizing all of these tools becomes a bit overwhelming. Many communications and advertising professionals are now looking at this myriad of choices through a condensed and organized lens — referred to as PESO. What PESO stands for is paid, earned, shared, and owned media. It’s a good way to think about all the information out there, and how to manage it. Most of us have interacted at one time or another with paid media — it’s advertising. It remains one of the most effective — but most expensive — ways of reaching your audience. Just consider the price tag for one 30-second commercial at this year’s Super Bowl: $4.5 million. Earned media, the second named component of this currency, is commonly referred to as traditional public relations. It is a standard that has been around for decades. Earned media involves engaging with news reporters and editors and pitching them to develop a story around a body of information that you provide them. I remember when earned media used to be highly effective. However, the crowded highways of information have reduced the effectiveness of earned media, and it can no longer be relied upon simply on its own. Shared media is now where much of social media resides, and creates hundreds of

opportunities for messages. The challenge with this medium is that it truly is shared. You can put your messages out there via Facebook or Twitter, but you cannot predict where those messages may go, how they may be interpreted, and the kind of response they may get. Finally, there is owned media. Owned media has actually been around a long time. It has taken the form of collateral material produced by an organization, a company website, and now many more digital forms

like blogs, YouTube channels, and others. It basically entails any form of media that we truly own and control. So, should you plan to use all of these forms of communication currency when engaging your audiences on every topic? Probably not. But, you had better know how to recognize, define, and manage each of them — if for no other reason than your competitors are doing so. Gone are the days when marketing and advertising stood separately from public re-

lations, and social media became an intrusion that you could simply avoid. It’s time to think in terms of the new communications currency, which incorporates all of them. Are you being heard? n Michael Meath is a senior consultant at Strategic Communications, LLC, which says it provides trusted counsel for public relations, including media relations, employee relations, and community relations. Contact Meath at mmeath@stratcomllc.com

MICHAEL MEATH

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AIS acquires D.C.â&#x20AC;&#x201C;area cyber firm to further its growth ROME â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Assured Information Security, Inc. (AIS), a growing Mohawk Valley technology company, recently closed on the acquisition of the assets of Information Security Solutions, Inc. (ISS), a tech firm based in the Washington, D.C. area. â&#x20AC;&#x153;This deal (which closed on April 16) doubles our presence in the nationâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s capital region, enhances our technology base, and allows the combined firms to offer a broader array of technology solutions. This is our first acquisition and signals our focus on growing AIS,â&#x20AC;? Steven J. Flint, AISâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s chief operating officer, says. Flint notes his company was approached by Focus Investment Banking, LLC, a broker representing ISS. The negotiations lasted about six months. AIS did not release any financial details of the acquisition, except noting that it was an all-cash deal financed by Oneida Savings Bank. ISS is a provider of consulting services to the public sector. The company, which engages only in classified work, specializes in cybersecurity, information technology, and cyber-intelligence. Its customers include the intelligence community and other departments and agencies of the federal government such as the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD). â&#x20AC;&#x153;ISS complements our existing customer base and brings both new customers and resource strength in the form of reverse engineering and linguistics,â&#x20AC;? notes Flint. ISS was founded by Nolan Clifford, who began his career in the U.S. Navy at the National Security Agency. Later, in private industry, he was a principal (non-CPA partner) at Deloitte Touche LLP, directed the federal-information-assurance program at PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLP, and worked at General Dynamics in the national-assurance practice. Clifford will continue to direct the D.C.â&#x20AC;&#x201C;area office, which is now called ISS, a division of AIS. ISS has 12 employees, all of whom joined AIS. AIS was incorporated in Rome in 2001 by Charles Green and three other partners. Green is currently the companyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s CEO. AIS secures computer-network operating envi-

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ronments, conducts advanced debugging, creates host protection, ensures access to multiple security domains, automates encryption and decryption, analyzes network packet capture, and conducts forensic services. Its headquarters is located in a 46,000-square-foot building at the Griffiss Business & Technology Park in Rome. AIS also has offices in Ohio, Maryland, Oregon, Colorado, Texas, Nebraska, Virginia, Georgia, and Massachusetts.

norman poltenson/business journal news network

BY NORMAN POLTENSON npoltenson@tmvbj.com

Steve Flint, COO of Assured Information Security (AIS) in Rome, displays a recent award from Lockheed Martin recognizing AIS as one of 22 valued business suppliers. On April 16, AIS closed on the acquisition of ISS, a technology firm based in the Washington, D.C. area.

Growth

â&#x20AC;&#x153;Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re experiencing rapid growth,â&#x20AC;? says Flint. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Last summer, the employee count was 121, of whom 105 were located in Central New York. With the addition of ISS, total employment is now 138, and we expect to hire another seven in the next few weeks. By this fall, employment is projected to jump another 10 to 20, depending on our success in hiring. That should put us at 155-165 people. AIS is budgeting for moderate to rapid growth in 2015 with revenues between $35 million and $40 million, depending on our success both in winning contracts and in hiring more staff. Many of the contracts weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re bidding on extend over several years, which should give the company a more even cash flow.â&#x20AC;? AIS is a â&#x20AC;&#x153;C-corpâ&#x20AC;? owned by 13 stockholders. Its headquarters building is owned by the Griffiss Local Development Corporation/Cardinal Griffiss Development Corporation. AIS currently relies on three customers for 95 percent of its revenue. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We built our reputation largely on our capacity to do classified work for the DoD, DOJ (Department of Justice), and Homeland Security,â&#x20AC;? affirms Flint. â&#x20AC;&#x153;This concentration served us well until Congress came up with sequestration as a way to restrain spending. Two years ago, Green authorized the creation of a commercial division to develop a revenue stream from the private sector, which is recognizing the importance of cybersecurity and investing in protection. â&#x20AC;&#x153;While the current revenue stream from the private sector is still small at only $750,000 to $1 million a year,â&#x20AC;? observes Flint, â&#x20AC;&#x153;the pace of growth in little

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more than two years is impressive. We assigned our operations manager, Dan Kalil, to oversee the new commercial division and to develop business partnerships. We think this is the right time to develop business in the private sector, because corporations now recognize the importance of protecting their cyber infrastructure â&#x20AC;Ś AIS holds four patents with another halfdozen pending; our goal is to monetize them. Our focus includes certain industries such as financial institutions, health care, transportation, power companies, and retailers.â&#x20AC;? Prior to assuming his new responsibility, Kalil, who holds a masterâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s degree in cybersecurity, led AISâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s investigativesystems program for seven years.

Competition

How does AIS separate itself from its competitors? In an interview last August, Barry McKinney, Ph.D. and AIS senior

See AIS, page 9

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vice president, opined: â&#x20AC;&#x153;Our bread and butter is R&D. Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s what really distinguishes us from the competition. We have years of experience working on sophisticated projects for DoD and the [Rome] Air Force Lab. This experience allows us to understand a problem, unlike the button-clickers who just push buttons to see what works. We learned early on that one size does not fit all; each project has to be tailored to the customerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s needs. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s our staff that really sets us apart with more than 100 engineers and scientists â&#x20AC;Ś [of whom] 50 percent hold or are pursuing advanced degrees. Also, nearly all of them hold security clearances.â&#x20AC;? Flint adds, â&#x20AC;&#x153;AIS has [also] built very strong industry relationships. We may compete against major companies like Lockheed Martin, Northrop, and Raytheon, but we also team up with them

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BY ERIC REINHARDT ereinhardt@tmvbj.com CAZENOVIA — The START-UP NY program not only “caters” to startup companies but also to those firms that want to expand or grow. Leslie Whatley, executive vice president of START-UP NY, spoke during the May 8 ceremony in which Empire Brewing Company formally started construction on its Empire Farmstead Brewery. “We are trying to harvest empty space, empty land that does not currently have any economic activity on it and we want to bring jobs to that empty space and to that empty land,” said Whatley. Whatley most recently served as global head of corporate real estate at Morgan Stanley. Prior to that, she was the global head of corporate real estate at JPMorgan Chase, and she held several leadership positions in General Motors real-estate staff earlier in her career, according to an Oct. 21, 2013 news release from the governor’s office. Cuomo announced her appointment in that same news release. In more than a year of existence, the START-UP NY program has attracted about 110 companies; 52 of them are new companies, 30 are expansions of existing New York companies, 11 are from out of the country, and 16 are from out of state, she said in her remarks. The space Whatley referred to has to be associated with a college or university. The

affected company and school need to have a “meaningful affiliation” for the company to qualify under the program, she said. Under the START-UP NY program, if a company creates net new jobs and a meaningful affiliation with a university or college, they can locate in the tax-free area and enjoy tax-free status for 10 years. “That means no income taxes for the company or its employees; no sales tax; no property tax; no franchise tax; no transfer tax,” said Whatley. New York graduates about 40,000 students with degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) annually and “export most of them,” she said. “The attempt here is to create the jobs in the community so one… while they’re at school, they can get an experiential learning opportunity, and two when they graduate, they can stay in the community and have employment opportunities at places that have jobs that complement what they studied while they’re in school,” said Whatley.

Program criticism Whatley then acknowledged that people may have read articles about the program that “aren’t so nice.” She made the comment just days before New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli provided the most recent critique of the program. DiNapoli’s office on May 11 released an audit of ESD and concluded that the $211 million spent on advertising the START-

eric reinhardt/business journal news network

START-UP NY exec addresses program criticism in Cazenovia stop

Leslie Whatley, executive vice president of START-UP NY, on May 8 explained the program during the Empire Brewing Company’s formal launch to the construction of its Farmstead Brewery in Cazenovia. Empire Brewing Company is the first START-UP NY company in Central New York to start an expansion project, according to Empire State Development, New York’s primary economicdevelopment agency.

UP NY program had produced “no tangible results.” A month earlier, Assemblyman Christopher Friend (R–Big Flats) in a statement called on Gov. Cuomo to end the START-UP NY program following the release of a government report citing low jobcreation numbers from the program. The report released in early April stated that in 2014, the program’s first year, a total of 30 companies located to and began operating in START-UP NY zones and created 76 jobs. “START-UP NY has been an expensive failure,” Friend said. “This program illustrates everything wrong with the argument that government creates jobs, and that,

somehow, centralized economic planning will work this time. This is a failed ideology. Instead of solving the whole issue of high taxes and burdensome regulations, Gov. Cuomo attempted to pick winners and losers. Instead of helping the small businesses that continue to struggle against an everincreasing stream of regulations and taxes, he spent millions on out-of-state advertisement. Businesses aren’t made in Albany — they’re made in basements and garages and end up on Main Street. We need to get out of their way, and we need to do it now,” Friend said. As she continued her remarks, Whatley addressed the concern. “Thoughtful economic development does not happen overnight. Thoughtful economic development creates a sustainable economic future in the community.” In its first year, Empire State Development had to “do a lot of work to build the foundation” for the program, she said. The work included developing regulations that people could “understand” to learn the processes and procedures for involvement in the program. It also included making sure the colleges and universities were aware of and understood the program. “Because the businesses have to apply to the schools to get in the program, so by definition, we had to have the schools buy in first,” said Whatley. START-UP NY currently has 69 participating colleges and universities. n

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Mohawk valley business journal I May 25, 2015

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BY norman poltenson npoltenson@tmvbj.com

T

  est labs are usually associated with   companies that create food,   pharmaceutical, and high-tech products. It’s time to add banks to the list. NBT Bank has renovated a branch office on Marshall Street, adjacent to the Syracuse University campus and surrounded by a plethora of health-care providers. The 900square-foot office serves as a model for the digital, retail branch of the future. (NBT has also created a new commercial branch model at its office on Wolf Road in Albany.) “The layout [of the space] is an open environment,” says Andrew J. Stockwell, the Marshall Street branch manager. “Unlike banking of the past, where the customer waited in line to conduct a transaction with a teller, this office relies on self-service technology combined with interaction by knowledgeable staff. In the age of mobile banking, when the customer enters the branch, the object is to transact business quickly and easily. NBT’s employees are here to ensure that happens through our high-tech, high-impact equipment. We are also here to engage with the customer to answer financial questions. That means our staff has to be familiar with the broad array of NBT products in order to answer questions and/or direct the customer to the resource person who has the answer. [In short,] Marshall Street is a full-service delivery channel, what we call a ‘knowledge

Increasing consumer demand for mobile banking options and continued competition are just two of the challenges NBT faces.

portal.’ ” The new NBT retail model is an example of “expedited deployment of digital branch delivery,” which ranked number 2 on “The Top 10 Retail Banking Trends in 2015,” listed by Jim Marous, publisher of Digital Banking Report. Marous sees the reshaping of branch networks in this digital, omnichannel world as a response to improve the customer experience. Relying on digital touch-points, branch employees can quickly recognize the customer, understand the reason for the visit, and respond with outstanding service. According to Marous, this is the confluence of the customer-interface and customer-experience platforms, where all banking products, services, and transactions are on a single platform that provides both the customer and staff real-

time access and decision-making. NBT’s Marshall Street test lab is a response to the explosion of consumers’ growing preference for financial and technical innovations such as mobile banking. About 82 percent of 18 to 25-year-olds own a smart phone, and 61 percent engage in mobile banking. The parents of this cohort trail somewhat with 60 percent ownership and 30 percent using a smartphone for banking. With the explosion of mobile banking, 90 percent of bankers surveyed by Celent, a Boston–based research and advisory firm focused on financial services, in 2014 foresaw a 10 percent decline in branch numbers over the next five years. And, 45 percent said they anticipated a decline in excess of 25 percent. Last year, 51 percent of U.S. adults banked online. The reaction of Millennials is a growing concern, where 53 percent don’t view their bank as any different from other banks and 73 percent would be more excited about a new financial-service offering from Google, Amazon, or Apple. “Branch and online banking users represent both a challenge and an opportunity,” observes Lori Verzillo, NBT vice president and retail-territory manager. “We spend a lot of time educating our customers on the benefits of mobile banking. It’s true that most bank customers today still use their mobile devices for checking balances or for recent activity, but a lot of our focus is on helping our customers make deposits and payments, and transfer money on their devices. There is no doubt that those adopting mobile banking … [correlate generally] with age, but there are exceptions: the 55-64-year-old age category is one of the fastest-growing groups in terms of mobile-banking adoption. Anecdotally, I can confirm that mobile banking at NBT is trending upward, and our customers are becoming more aware of the options we offer.”

Banking challenges

Increasing consumer demand for mobilebanking options and continued competition are just two of the challenges NBT faces. Much of the competition comes from other financial-services companies, but a growing challenge comes from outside the industry. Companies such as PayPal, Google, Square, and Apple represent a growing industry of neo-banks that is capturing mobile payments. While the usage level of what are called “mobile wallets” seriously lags the awareness of the products, at some point an industry leader will emerge to standardize the process and get beyond what is today defined as “mobile-payments roulette.” NBT has elected not to sit on the sidelines and has chosen to partner with Apple Pay, which allows users to use their iPhones and Apple Watches to pay in stores and through apps. The banking industry faces a number of other challenges in deciding how to deploy its attention and funds. There are ongoing concerns about cybersecurity, regulators

norman poltenson/business journal news network

NBT banks on creating a knowledge portal

Andrew J. Stockwell, branch manager of NBT Bank’s Marshall Street office, demonstrates the technology that greets customers as they enter. The office serves as a retail test lab for the bank’s digital, retail branch of the future.

are demanding higher capital requirements, the industry has not yet regained its return-on-equity levels since the 2007 recession, and economic growth is less than robust. Add to this, declining fee-based income, impending higher interest rates, the replacement of traditional credit cards with chip-and-PIN cards, and the increasing cost of technology. To remain profitable and competitive, banks need to focus on deepening their existing customer relationships and differentiating themselves from the competitors.

NBT strategy & results

In today’s environment, where differentiation is becoming more difficult, even a slight edge can yield positive results. A quick look at NBT’s “2014 Annual Report” confirms the bank’s savvy strategy of segment targets, product offerings, pricing, customer interfacing, and internal processes. Established in 1856 as the Bank of Norwich with $125,000 in capital — the same year that the Cunard line established a record crossing of the Atlantic by an ironhull, paddle-wheel ship in 9 days and 16 hours; Lawrence, Kansas was captured and burned by pro-slavery forces; and James Buchanan beat Millard Fillmore in the U.S. Presidential Election — NBT now has 158 locations in six states, 192 ATMs, and $7.8 billion in total assets. The bank, headquartered in Norwich, employs more than 1,800 people with more than half working in the circulation area of The Business Journal. Core net income increased 8.5 percent from $69.9 million in 2013 to $75.8 million in 2014, all while improving the Tier-1 capital ratio. During the same period, earnings per share rose from $1.65 to $1.71, wealthmanagement revenue increased 14 percent, and market capitalization improved to $1.153 billion. NBT holds the second highest share of deposits in this region —

9.56 percent. The quality of the loan portfolio has also improved as noted by two benchmarks: a steady decline in net chargeoffs to average loans and total non-performing loans as measured against total loans — both over the last five years. Only the return on average-tangible-equity has shown a slight decline over the same period. The Marshall Street office is an important part of NBT’s strategy to get an edge on the competition by creating a one-stop, shopping experience that helps its customers with everything from daily transactions to planning for retirement. Unlike the “robo-advisor” phenomenon sweeping the investment-advisory industry with automated advice generated by algorithms, NBT puts a strong emphasis on marrying technology with a human interface. Florence Doller, senior vice president and director of marketing at NBT, sums up the bank’s keen interest in the new retail test lab: “As customers’ preferences evolve in response to technology [advances] and [as] communication channels continue to proliferate, NBT Bank is paying close attention to various inputs ranging from transaction data that shows increased use of digital-banking technology to feedback from the direct interactions we are able to initiate with customers in spaces like our Marshall Street office. We’re learning every day and will continue to use that knowledge to educate our customers and create engaging and relevant banking experiences for them.” Perhaps it’s serendipitous that the new Syracuse test lab was formerly occupied by a Baskin-Robbins, a company known for creating more than 1,000 ice-cream flavors in its test lab. Where Baskin-Robbins brought a smile to its customers as they savored their favorite flavor, NBT hopes to bring a similar experience to its retail-banking customers with the new knowledge portal. n


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MAY 25, 2015 I MOHAWK VALLEY BUSINESS JOURNAL

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New York needs tougher ethics laws for elected officials now

T

he distracting turmoil of indicted leaders and convicted legislators has rocked the Capitol many times over. The public’s trust is broken, and the legislature must take a pointed, inward look at itself and adopt meaningful ethics reforms that will deter and more strongly punish corrupt behavior from elected officials. During budget negotiations, the governor Opinion inserted a set of socalled ethics reforms, but they weren’t sweeping or going to create the monumental change needed in our state’s government. The reforms had

MARC W. BUTLER

little teeth. Siena College even polled New Yorkers on the matter and the majority agreed the reforms did not go far enough. This doesn’t mean we in the Assembly Republican Conference are not still trying to change things. Recently, I voted in favor of closing a loophole in campaign finance law that allowed individuals or groups to donate seemingly unlimited money to candidates through multiple limited liability companies, circumventing a very important contribution cap. The law allowed for individuals to have undue influence on elected officials. This is a wonderful first step, however, there is much more to be done to address and eradicate corruption in our state government. Current law doesn’t allow for much recourse for the public when it comes to

convicted-felon politicians and their public pensions. There are dozens of crooked elected officials who are collecting millions of public dollars through their pension and retirement benefits. I believe firmly if elected officials break the public’s trust, they don’t deserve a taxpayer-funded pension. This is why I sponsored A.4643, a pension forfeiture bill that would strip convicted politicians of a publicly funded pension. If they do the crime they shouldn’t collect a dime. I have long been a sponsor and proponent of one of the toughest ethics packages in the nation, the Public Officer’s Accountability Act (A.4617). This measure is a set of solutions that creates tougher rules on campaign-finance abuse, enacts term limits for legislative leaders — including committee chairs, limits the use of

public dollars for political purposes through member-item reform, strengthens oversight on state government, and creates a new crime for failing to report elected official and public official corruption. These issues of corruption and scandal have not only been a disgrace to the people’s house, they’ve also distracted us from the good work New Yorkers voted us in to do. We need tougher ethics laws in order to restore trust and integrity in state government. n Marc W. Butler (R,C,I–Newport) is a New York State Assemblyman for the 118th District, which encompasses parts of Oneida, Herkimer, and St. Lawrence counties, as well as all of Hamilton and Fulton counties. Contact him at butlerm@assembly.state. ny.us

AIS: The company faces strong competition for contracts and

talent.

on many projects. I call this friendly rivalry ‘competiamate.’ ” To emphasize the point, Flint points to an award received from Lockheed Martin during Small Business Week. “Out of thousands of suppliers, Lockheed Martin only recognized 22 small businesses around the country and just three in New York state for providing quality goods and services and outstanding support,” he continues. “That’s strong evidence that they view us as a valued supplier.” Competition is not just limited to winning contracts. “We compete daily for talent,” exclaims Flint. “The industry globally needs to fill 1 million cybersecurity jobs and at least 200,000 to 300,000 jobs here in the U.S. With private-sector companies such as Google and Microsoft looking for cyber specialists, the demand continues to outstrip the supply, a situation that will last at least five years before the country’s training institutions can begin to catch up.” He continues, “At our small firm, we have two employees in the D.C. area and three here in Rome spending 75 percent of their time just recruiting … Even though our compensation-and-benefit package is competitive, it’s not easy to attract talent to this region. For those drawn by the allure of the big city or the need to find a specialized position for a trailing spouse, the fact that AIS has multiple offices around the country and is able to effectively man-

Continued from page 6

age geographically distributed teams has been helpful in attracting and retaining employees. We also rely to a large extent on hiring new university grads who not only bring current technical skills but also haven’t been told they can’t do something … The bottom line is that in order to become a nationally recognized provider of generation-after-next cyber capabilities to the DoD, the intelligence community, and the private sector, we need the right talent.” Green has been part of Rome’s cyber initiatives since 1997, when he joined the Air Force Research Laboratory as a contractor. He earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science from SUNYIT. McKinney earned his bachelor’s degree from SUNY Buffalo and his Ph.D. from the University of Alabama. He is a systems-process-anddesign analyst with a background in statistics. Prior to joining AIS, McKinney served as the basic-research adviser to the AFRL/Information Directorate in Rome and also was assigned to the Air Force Office of Scientific Research in London and the European Office of Aerospace Research and Development. Flint brings 38 years of defense-technology research to his position at AIS. He holds degrees in physics from SUNY Geneseo and in electrical engineering from University at Buffalo. The three constitute the executive leadership team at AIS. n

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People on the Move NEWS advertising, marketing & PR Romanelli Communications has hired JIMMY FELLONE and ZAC WASIELEWSKI. Fellone joins as Romanelli’s media buyer and analytics tech. He is a graduate of Alfred University with a bachelor’s degree in marketing. Fellone worked in a variety of client service roles in Central New York Fellone before joining Romanelli. Wasielewski, the new digital strategist, is a graduate of Rochester Institute of Technology. He was most recently a web developer at SUNY Polytechnic Institute, and Wasielewski previously worked for Quadsimia, LLC.

education & Training Herkimer College has promoted the following employees, effective Sept. 1, 2015. Promoted from instructor to assistant professor were STEPHEN SYDORIW,

physical education, and LINDSEY TAUBE, mathematics. Appointed to the faculty in 2010, Sydoriw holds an associate degree from Mohawk Valley Community College and bachelor’s and master’s degrees from SUNY Cortland. Taube was appointed to the faculty in 2007 and holds a bachelor’s degree from Nazareth College and a master’s degree from Utica College of Syracuse University. DR. KAREN JONES was promoted from assistant professor to associate professor of physical therapy. Appointed to the Herkimer College faculty in 2002, she holds an associate degree from Herkimer County Community College and a bachelor’s degree and D.P.T. from Utica College of Syracuse University. Promoted from associate professor to professor were GALE FARLEY, photographic technology, and ROBERT GASSMANN, radio/TV broadcasting. Farley was appointed to the faculty in 1995. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Sam Houston State University; and an M.F.A. from Southern Illinois University. Gassmann was appointed to the faculty in 1990 and holds a bachelor’s degree from Pennsylvania State University and a master’s degree from the University of Alabama. REBECCAH SOCOLOF has

been appointed research assistant. She was previously employed as digital sales leader at Barnes & Noble Bookstore in Fresh Meadows. Socolof holds an associate degree in fashion buying & merchandising from Herkimer College; a bachelor’s degree in studio art: sculpture from SUNY Binghamton; and a master’s degree in library science advanced certificate in archives and records management from Queens College. ANNE DINNEEN, director of investments since 2004 at the James Irvine Foundation in San Francisco, has been named chief investment officer at Hamilton College. Dinneen worked previously at Barclays Dinneen Global Investors, Thomas Weisel Partners, and Banc of America Securities. She earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from Princeton University and received her MBA from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Hamilton’s new chief investment officer replaces Peter Tonetti, who has served as the college’s CIO since 2008 and is now retiring.

RSIGNIA: The company analyzes social-network data for a variety of purposes Rsignia’s focus

The company’s focus within the cybersecurity realm is in social-network analysis, in which White says he has an extensive background. White is an Ithaca native who earned his doctorate in engineering science from Clarkson University. He teaches at SUNY Polytechnic Institute, near Utica. The company analyzes social-network data for a variety of purposes, according to White. Work at the lab is focused on developing a large, distributed system that can analyze data from different customers with different needs. It is developing several tools for this general purpose, some for commercial use and others for government. One use for analyzing social-network data is to conduct predictive modeling of human behavior, according to White, which he says can be used to detect potential security threats. “You can develop things like psychological profiles of people based on the things that they write and the things that they post,” he says, the purpose being “to do predictive modeling to see whether or not they’re, let’s say, going to become an extremist or launch a cyber attack.” This is done, he says, by looking at a person’s online behavior over longer periods of time. In the hypothetical situation of an underground chat room where participants are discussing hacking into a website, for example, “more than 99 percent of it is just a bunch of hype. It’s just a bunch of people talking,” says White. “The question is, can you single out that one person that truly is the bad guy?” Rsignia develops profiles of very specific types of people who could be a threat, and then sifts through data looking for them, according to White. Rsignia is nearing the release of its first

commercial product of the year, called Cyberscope, which is a suite of services that offers, amongst other things, flexible socialnetwork analysis. White says organizations such as universities or news agencies, for example, may purchase Cyberscope in order to gain a good understanding of the organization’s “state or role in the world of social media.” Other capabilities he listed include situational awareness, content inspection, intelligent monitoring and forensics, and countermeasure, alert, and offensive operations. He says Cyberscope is nearly complete. Pieces like instruction manuals and marketing materials are in the works in preparation for its release.

Strategic partnerships

Dillman says the collective presence, in Rome, of Research Associates of Syracuse (111 Dart Circle), the Cyber Research Institute (725 Daedalian Drive), and the AFRL Information Directorate (26 Electronic Parkway), made the decision to set up shop in the area “strategically” smart. Research Associates of Syracuse (RAS) works in the area of electronic warfare, according to its website, in support of the Pentagon and the U.S. intelligence community. It focuses on electronic support, electronic attack, and signals intelligence. According to White, RAS designs and builds hardware that is able to compute statistics from live data feeds very quickly. Its technology, he adds, can be adapted to work with Rsignia’s algorithms, which would allow Rsignia to compute its type of data much faster than it could before. For example, says White, to analyze live Twitter feeds means processing “tens of millions of messages a day,” and to do Rsignia’s

insurance

technology ConMed Corp. has appointed PETER SHAGORY the company’s executive vice president, strategy, and corporate development. He brings more than 20 years of experience in health-care venture investing and mergers and acquisitions through his previous venture capital, investment banking, and corporate roles. Most recently, he led the strategy and business-development efforts for Cardinal Health’s Medical Products Group. Prior to that, Shagory led the health-care and life sciences investment effort at Baird Venture Partners. He earned an MBA from Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business and a bachelor’s degree in finance from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. n

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type of data analysis, “you would need an entire rack of servers … Research Associates of Syracuse can do all of it on a single, little, tiny card the size of a matchbook.” The Cyber Research Institute (CRI), according to its website, is a collaboration of institutions that largely seeks to promote partnerships in order to protect and improve the cyber-based economy, infrastructure, and workforce in New York. CRI helps confirm Rsignia’s mathematics in some projects, as well as to look over its reports and help with proposals, says White. CRI also has extra space that Rsignia can use when needed. Partnerships between Rsignia and each institution were established in the past few weeks, says White. The process was aided by his past work experience with the vice president of software programs at RAS, John Stacy, as well as CRI’s executive director, John Bay. Rsignia is also working on growing its relationship with the AFRL Information Directorate. “We are working out some agreements with them to, kind of, share our technology and share resources back and forth,” says White. “AFRL has a great internal program for development of different technologies. They have a really great record of passing things, and a lot of those technologies are available for commercial organizations to actually take out, license, and then integrate into their product. So we’re working with them to do that same sort of thing. But they’re also interested in bringing in some of our technology because we do have unique mathematical algorithms and ways of computing data very quickly.”

Rebooting Rsignia

LAURA ZABEK has been named client advocate at Gilroy Kernan & Gilroy Inc. (GKG) of New Hartford. She is a 2012 graduate of SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in environmental science. Zabek had been working at GKG on a temporary basis since January 2014.

Rsignia is part of the Griffiss Institute’s in-

Continued from page 3

cubation program because it is, essentially a start-up. A more accurate description would be to call it a “reboot.” Founded in 2008 by its current chief technology officer, Darrell Covell, it had not been in operation since the end of 2012. That year, says Dillman, the company’s president, “some of [Rsignia’s] assets were acquired by a larger defense contractor who really wanted some of the technology” that Rsignia had developed. Covell, who Dillman describes as a serial entrepreneur, decided to work with the defense contractor for two years in order to help it incubate the technology. During this period, Rsignia lay dormant. After his two-year stint with the contractor, says Dillman, Covell decided to reboot Rsignia, saying that he missed the agility that a small company allows, the ability to get things done quickly and to pursue more innovative technology. Dillman says she and White both joined Rsignia on Feb. 2, in essence restarting the Rsignia engine. White says he has worked with Covell in the past, the first time around 15 years ago when White was a junior engineer. White says he was working for a company that was subcontracted under another that Covell either worked for or owned. Dillman says she spent most of her life in the federal government. “I knew what sort of capabilities, products, and services were out there to help government,” she says. “I knew what we didn’t have, and what we needed.” Rsignia doesn’t have any other products slated to come out this year, according to White, but it does have two in the pipeline: one for early 2016, and one for mid-2016. He would not say what the products are, adding that the firm has dozens on the drawing board that are being explored. n


I 11

May 25, 2015 I mohawk valley business journal

tmvbj.com

THE LIST Research by BJNN Research topranks@tmvbj.com (315) 579-3911 Twitter: @cnybjresearch

ABOUT THE LIST Information was provided by representatives of listed organizations and their websites. Other groups may have been eligible but did not respond to our requests for information. Organizations had to complete the survey by the deadline to be included on the list. While The Business Journal strives to print accurate information, it is not possible to independently verify all data submitted. We reserve the right to edit entries or delete categories for space considerations. Mohawk Valley includes Herkimer and Oneida counties.

Need a copy of a list? Electronic versions of all of our lists, with additional fields of information and survey contacts, are available for purchase at our website: cnybj.com/ ListResearch.aspx

Want to be on the list? If your company would like to be considered for next year’s list, or another list, please email topranks@tmvbj.com

MOHAWK VALLEY CHAMBERS OF COMMERCE Ranked by No. of Members ��"�

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  wo-thirds (67 percent) of New York   independent-insurance agencies   grew their revenue in 2013 compared to 2012, with the average revenue growth at 14 percent. By comparison, 70 percent of independent agencies nationwide grew their revenue in the same time period, with an average revenue growth of 20 percent. That’s according to an analysis of New York agencies that participated in the 2014 Agency Universe Study. Future One sponsored the survey. Future One is a collaboration involving the Alexandria, Virginia–based Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America, Inc. (IIABA) and other insurance companies that do business through the independent-agency system, according to the IIABA website. The DeWitt–based Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of New York, Inc. (IIABNY) released the New York analysis on April 23. IIABNY is a trade association that represents independent-insurance agents throughout New York.

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Study details revenue growth at New York independent agencies BY ERIC REINHARDT ereinhardt@tmvbj.com

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Future One conducts the survey to sample the views of independent agents nationwide and to see how the industry is performing nationally. “It is the definitive study relative to the number of independent insurance agencies in the [U.S.] and the profile of those agencies,” says Richard (Dick) Poppa, president and CEO of IIABNY. Poppa spoke with CNYBJ on May 4. The 2014 Agency Universe Study found New York insurance agencies “achieved greater revenue even while facing a difficult economy,” according to the IIABNY news release. They reported revenue growth “despite the lingering effects of the 2007–09 recession and an economy that has lagged the rest of the country in recovery, particularly in the upstate counties.” Agencies can grow their revenue in two ways, says Poppa. “One is through new client acquisition and then the second is … the clients themselves having growth in their businesses,” he explains. As a business of any kind grows, Poppa says, its insurance needs increase. For example, if a company adds more employees,

it will to need more workers’-compensation insurance and perhaps more health insurance. “For us, it’s a very positive reflection on the productivity of independent-insurance agencies, the resilience of independent-insurance agencies,” says Poppa. The New York analysis also found that the state’s agencies are “fixtures” in their communities. The study found 55 percent of New York agencies have been in business at least 45 years. One-fifth of them started business before World War II. In the rest of the country, 30 percent are 45 years or older and only 13 percent pre-date the war, according to the IIABNY news release. The analysis also found that New York independent agents like to work with New York–based insurers. Compared with their peers outside the state, the percentage of New York agencies representing large national companies, such as Progressive, Travelers, and The Hartford, is “substantially less,” according to the IIABNY news release. Large percentages of New York agencies represent local insurers such as Utica

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National Insurance Group, Buffalo–based Merchants Insurance Group, Dryden Mutual Insurance Company, and Edmeston, New York–based NYCM Insurance, the trade association said.

New York data

IIABNY last June asked IIABA, the national organization, and Zeldis Research Associates, a Pennington, New Jersey– based research firm, if they would extract data specific to New York state agents and compare it to the national study. The information that IIABNY released was based upon a New York sample pulled from the overall national Agency Universe Study, says Poppa. Zeldis started its work with the online survey in the fall of last year and finished gathering data early in 2015, he says. In order to provide as “rich” data on New York agents and brokers as possible, the IIABNY communicated to its membership the importance of responding to the 2014 Agency Universe Study. “We wanted to make sure that we got enough responses that it was going to be statistically valid,” says Poppa. Nearly 280 agents responded, compared to the 111 responses to the 2012 study, the IIABNY said. The organization didn’t take “special steps” to encourage responses to the 2012 study, it added. Researchers have conducted the survey once every two years over the past decade, Poppa believes. Study participants included 22 agencies from New York City, 114 from Long Island, 35 from downstate, and 108 from upstate counties, according to the study. n


12 I

Mohawk valley business journal I May 25, 2015

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Mohawk Valley

LEGACY AWARDS

Brian, Bill and Charles Gaetano accept their award from Chris Papayanakos of Berkshire Bank.

Thank you to our sponsors: Presenting Sponsor:

Awards Sponsor:

Proud Supporter:

Proud Media Partner:

Produced By: Greg Harden accepts his award from Chris Papayanakos.

Congratulations to the 2015 honorees! Honorees accept proclamations from Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente Jr. From left to Right: Chris Papayanakos of presenting sponsor Berkshire Bank, Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente Jr., Fred and Nick Matt, of F.X. Matt Brewing Co./Saranac, Charles, Bill & Brian Gaetano of Charles A. Gaetano Construction Corp., Greg Harden of Harden Furniture, and Norman Poltenson, Business Journal News Network.

Fred and Nick Matt accept their award from Chris Papayanakos.

Special thank you to musician Leonard James for his performance!

Photos courtesy of Melisssa Cavo Photography

Mary LaMacchia, left of the Business Journal News Network, Chris Papayanakos, center, of Berkshire Bank, and Joyl Clance, right, of BizEventz.

Some of the attendees of the Mohawk Valley Legacy Awards network at the event.

Visit bizeventz.com for more event photos and other event information

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Digital Edition of the 5/25/15 Mohawk Valley Business Journal

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