@$ID/[No paragraph style]:Business After Hours
By MIKE REILLY | September 17,2013
Wendy Jestings and Eric Audette represented Northwestern Mutual at the July networking event at Heritage Toyota.
A Vermont celebrity, specialized food stations and the chance to win automotive- and advertising-related prizes highlighted the July edition of the Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce’s (LCRCC) monthly business networking event.
Heritage Toyotaplayed host at its recently renovated, state-of-the-art service center in South Burlington. Catering by Dale offered food from a number of themed stations – a veggie/gluten-free station, a Latin station, a taco bar — plus passed appetizers and a fully loaded ice cream bar.
Co-sponsors included The Shed Brewery and SuperSounds Entertainment, and Fluid Bar Service provided beverage services.
Well-known Vermont performer Rusty DeWees, who is featured in a number of commercials with Heritage Automotive, was on hand greeting guests and posing for photos. He also announced winning tickets for raffle prizes that included a full set of tires and a “walk-on” appearance joining DeWees in an upcoming Heritage television commercial.
Annie Grantham, community relations liaison at Heritage Automotive Group, said while the service center opened last September, the networking event presented an opportunity to fully showcase the facilities. “It’s a huge upgrade over our previous facility, and we’re excited to have so many people here to see it.”
The service center is a brand-new building, with more than twice the number of service bays as the one it replaced, Grantham said. “We can service twice as many customers on any given day,” she said. “We also have dedicated oil and lube bays, which is great for folks who may just want to drive in and get a quick oil change.”
While a bigger building, Grantham called the new center far more energy efficient than its predecessor. She said waste oil from serviced vehicles is used to fully heat the building. “We’re about to do the same thing with the Toyota sales center, and the Ford sales and service centers will follow,” she added.
Grantham said customers have benefit from more space to ease vehicle drop-offs and pick-ups, better space to interact with service advisors, and the chance to get a full view of the service bays, including the center’s new alignment rack.
Wait times for appointments have dropped from more than a week to a day or two, Grantham said, and noted more bays means better opportunity to deliver emergency repair services when needed.
The building is home to about 50 employees, according to Grantham.
Michael Adams and his business, Gredio, won this year’s LaunchVT competition, a business pitch competition awarding cash and in-kind prizes, mentoring, and more to young entrepreneurs delivering business plans of exceptional promise.
Gredio is a Web application for food producers. “We help them manage their ingredient inventory, calculate cost of goods sold — all of this happens automatically,” Adams said.
“The idea came from operating my mustard company, Green Mountain Mustard,” Adams said. “I was frustrated there was no tool out there to help me automate some of these functions. I was doing it manually in Excel, or by hand.”
Searching for a tool, he found only expensive products beyond the reach of small businesses. “So I made it for myself, and for other small food companies,” Adams said. “We have 52 users across the nation, and a number of international clients.”
Earning the top prize means $20,000 in cash and $40,000 in in-kind goods and services to Adams and Gredio.
Nick Grimley co-founded LaunchVT with Emily Piper of LCRCC and its affiliate, Burlington Young Professionals (BYP). “It’s been a great opportunity to work with the chamber and promote entrepreneurialism here in Vermont.”
Grimley is a sales executive at Hackett Valine & MacDonald, an insurance and risk-management firm in South Burlington. “We love coming to these events and getting involved with the community,” Grimley said. “It’s an opportunity to network with our clients and potential clients.”
Brian Lalime of G.W. Savage Group, fire, wind and water restoration specialists based in South Burlington, has been busy responding to recent flood damage at residential and commercial structures.
“We’re a one-stop restoration company,” Lalime said. “Lately I’ve been doing a lot of estimates — going out to people’s homes, seeing how much water was in there and how long it was in there.” His company responds with drying equipment and antimicrobial disinfectants or, when mold has caused secondary damage, remediation processes.
Bill Dalton, principal at Kalanges & Dalton Realtors, said the firm recently moved from Main Street to Maple Street in Essex Junction. “We purchased a building and are renovating it right now, with three retail spaces and six apartments. It’s a mixed-use project in a commercial area.”
Jessie Swett said she is a “second-generation” employee of Vermont Trophy & Engraving in Colchester. “We focus primarily on creative solutions to employee recognition or business-to-business recognition,” she said. “Our tagline is ‘recognition is respect made visible,’ and believe it really does have a lasting effect to give someone a physical representation of an achievement they’ve made.”
Abby Brassard represented Perrywinkle’s Fine Jewelry of Burlington at the event. “I come to get Perrywinkle’s name out there so people will come in and experience our jewelry,” she said. “We pride ourselves on personal customer service, and have been in business for more than 20 years.”
Christopher Talbert of Teucrium Trading, LLC was attending his first LCRCC event. “I came because I heard these were great events, and we’re a new company and I’m trying to get our name out there,” he said. Teucrium manages seven funds traded n the New York Stock Exchange.
Wendy Jestings of Northwestern Mutual in Colchester said her company is a financial planning company. “We offer offensive and defensive planning strategies for businesses throughout Vermont and across the country,” she said. “We like coming to these events to meet people and tour businesses such as Heritage.”
Gail Deuso, Vermont coordinator of the Vermont/Upstate New York Chapter of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society was promoting the organization’s Light the Night Walk. “It takes place on Friday, Sept. 20, in downtown Burlington,” she said. “It’s approximately two miles, beginning and ending at Memorial Auditorium.
Laura Bowe of WCAX is Vermont co-chair for the walk. “It’s a really great visual event,” Bowe said. “People carry balloons that are glowing in one of three different colors, each color for a different reason.” Deuso explained red balloons represent friends and supporters, white indicates a patient or survivor, and a gold balloon indicates one is walking in memory of someone lost to cancer.
“We’re looking for individual walkers, or teams and businesses to form teams, to help find a cure for leukemia and lymphoma,” Bowe said.
More information on the event is available online at www.lightthenight.org.
Jennifer Jarecki, events coordinator at LCRCC, said some of the features at Heritage reflected her commitment to make each event unique, and to give host sites the chance to add their personal touch. “What we’re going for is the sense that if you’ve been to one you haven’t been to them all,” she said.
The Champlain Business Journal offers regular coverage of the Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce’s monthly business networking events, with notes on event hosts and sponsors, and snippets from those in attendance. Check the LCRCC Website at www.vermont.org for upcoming events. v