Category Archives: New York Business

John K. Castle Named “Happy Warrior” at Annual Alfred E. Smith Dinner

The 72nd annual Alfred E. Smith Dinner was just held in New York City.  Hosting more than 800 guests, including Governor Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Bill de Blasio, NYPD Comissioner James O’Neill, former mayors Michael Bloomberg and David Dinkins and many others, the event honors the former governor’s leadership and ability to maintain a positive approach to solving social issues despite setbacks by naming a modern-day “Happy Warrior”.

This year’s Happy Warrior Award was presented to John K. Castle, chairman and CEO of Castle Harlan Inc, philanthropist and adventurer.  The award is part of The Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation’s efforts to bring hope to all children throughout New York. Keynote speaker at the event was speaker of the house Paul Ryan, and master of ceremonies was Patricia Heaton.

Over the years, the Alfred E. Smith Dinner has raised close to $3.5 million to support children’s charities and educational institutions in New York City.

New York: Funding and Investments

The New York Shipping Exchange (NYSHEX) has just received additional funding commitments from both Hapag-Lloyd and CMA CGM container lines. The NYSHEX already has $13 million in funding from GE Ventures and Goldman Sachs.

With this money, NYSHEX – which offers digital “over-the-counter” freight forwarding contracts – will expand.  It has already been extremely beneficial to the container shipping industry since as CMA CGM CEO Rodolphe Saadé pointed out with digitization, customers have a wider variety of products available to them.  From a more internal standpoint, Saadé said that the partnership set up “an additional step in the digital transformation of CMA CGM, aimed at continuously creating value for its customers.”

WeWork is also to be gaining a large investment.  Tapping into its $93 billion Vision Fund, SoftBank Group will make a $4.4 billion investment into the NY-based startup which will be used by the firm to “connect more people” in its 150,000 member international community, adding more locational offices around the world, most notably in Asia. Furthermore, the proprietary data systems it has are set to “radically transform how people work.”

New York Businesses

Atena (a diversified healthcare company) is to move into New York in the near future.  Rejecting Boston in favor of the Big Apple, in 2018 the company will be making NYC’s 61 Ninth Avenue its new home, relocating 250 employees.  In addition, innovators from the area’s “deep talent pool,” will, according to Mark T. Bertolini, company Chair and CEO, provide for “an invaluable resource as we consider additional investments in the city going forward.”

This will be a fiscally beneficial move since the office of the New York Mayor has stated the company will receive tax breaks worth $24 million from the state over the next 10 years, facilitating the building of its new headquarters in the region.

Atena is not alone in large companies showing their favoritism to New York. Sportswear giant Nike also showed its adoration with its #NewYorkMade campaign, featuring a slew of community collaborations and interventions around NYC.

Recent New York Business Acquisitions

There have been a few interesting business acquisitions (both large corporations and SMEs) in the New York area recently.  Here are three recent examples: Castle Harlan Inc., Verizon Communications and Ascott Residence Trust.

First, in the hedge fund industry, Gold Star Foods (a portfolio company of the NY private equity firm Castle Harlan, Inc.), just acquired A&R Wholesale Distributors. Since its been with Castle Harlan, Gold Star has made two other acquisitions.  The company facilitates how states and local school districts nationwide can comply with complex state and federal regulations covering government funding and nutritional content requirements for school meal programs.

Second, two days ago, in the telecommunications industry, Verizon Communications officially acquired Yahoo! for a $4.5 billion price tag.  This will impact the entire nature of the firm which will be rebranded into Oath – a new subsidiary led by Tim Armstrong, current CEO of AOL.  Armstrong’s public statement included the following:

“We’re building the future of brands using powerful technology, trusted content and differentiated data. Now that the deal is closed, we are excited to set our focus on being the best company for consumer media, and the best partner to our advertising, content and publisher partners.”

Third, in the hospitality industry, Ascott Residence Trust (Ascott Reit) is in the process of purchasing DoubleTree – a luxurious Manhattan hotel near Times Square for $106 million.  If this goes through, this will give Ascott Residence Trust 1,004 hotel rooms spanning three properties (having made two other hotel purchases in the last two years – Sheraton Tribeca New York and the Element New York Times Square West). Other interesting numbers on this are that once completed, 12.3 percent of Ascott Reit’s total asset will be US based, its fourth largest (Singapore, Japan and China taking the first three spots).

The next steps forward for Gold Star Foods, Verizon Communications and Ascott Residence Trust will be interesting to see.

Milk Punch Revival with Eamon Rockey

If you live in New York and haven’t heard of the milk punch revival yet, you may want to take note. Milk punch has been popping up as the hottest new trend in alcoholic beverages. It is a sweet, cold blend of milk and liquor that actually dates back centuries.

The drinks are made with cold ingredients that are combined with hot milk to make the milk curdle. The blend is then filtered repeatedly until the liquid actually becomes clear, which can take hours. It then rests for a day or so until served.

Where can such a dream drink be found? Play, a cocktail bar in Midtown, has a Korovazon Milk Punch that is made with pisco. And Eamon Rockey made a strong push to revive the art of milk punch production at the New York restaurant, Betony.

Eamon Rockey reports to the New York Times that he first encountered milk punch at Bar Pleaiades on the Upper East Side in 2009 and he soon adopted the idea, turning it into quite an art in the process. While the ingredients are typically combined beforehand with milk punch, Eamon Rockey’s creations have a milk punch “base” and then offer the drinker the chance to select the spirit to place into it.

As Rockey explained, “I wanted to have there be a guest-specific evolution. It’s antithetical to what the drink classically is.”

As described on Eater.com, “The whole process takes between one and five days…and exhibits Rockey’s obsession with re-inventing history and personalizing a classic recipe using flavors like Watermelon and Golden Beet & Goat’s Milk.”

Moving Manufacturing Back to NYC

Historically, New York was the place to be when it came to the making of clothing. And given that NYC is still home to one of the world’s most prestigious fashion centers (with the Garment Center at its heart, in Manhattan) wouldn’t it make sense for the garment-making to take place there as well?  Because current figures are suggesting that is not the case.  For example, a Queen’s College Census Data Report found that in 2015, around 23,000 employees over 16 worked making apparel, accessories and finished textile products.  But if you look back to 1950 that figure was 323,669.  By the year 2000 that had dropped to 59,049 but now it’s dropping even more.

Given this, over the last few years, the city of New York has undertaken a variety of initiatives to change the balance. One example of this is the partnership that was formed between the Council of Fashion Designers of America and the NYCEDC (New York’s main City’s main generator for economic development).  Launched in 2013 with $6m, this public-private partnership program was established to bolster local fashion manufacturing and endorse inclusive economic growth throughout the City’s fashion sector which was set up to “support local fashion manufacturing and promote inclusive economic growth.”

And it has done it.  It has given 19 companies grants totaling $1.8 million to pay for technologies that help cut costs and maximize output. Some of the recipients since 2013 have included: Design Incubator, Dye-Namix, Dynotex, New York Embroidery Studio, Oomaru Seisakusho 2, Rainbow Leather, Sunrise Studio, Create-a-Marker, High Production, In Style USA and Martin Greenfield Clothiers.

New York Hedge Funds: Investment Strategies

For investors, to select a hedge fund with which to work, there are a whole slew of varying strategies employed.  Investors should thus figure out which strategy they align with the most and thereafter pick a firm with which to invest.

Meanwhile, there is some good news for dividend investors in the US right now.  As noted in a recent Forbes article by contributor Ky Trang Ho, the S&P  500’s dividend-paying stocks returned 15.6% on average in 2016; this was double of the 7.6% average figure reported for  non-payers, according to CFRA, a global equity and fund research firm.

Kevin Ulrich is co-founder, CEO and Portfolio Manager of Anchorage Capital Group, LLC, a firm that focuses on single fund investors, pooled investment vehicles and making investments in the public equity and fixed income markets throughout the US and Europe.  Long- and short-term strategies are employed with both internal and external data used to make investments.  In the past, Kevin Ulrich has said that “yield compression will lead to short opportunities.”  The company also looks for distressed investment opportunities and, using their strategy has provided clients with success as in the case of TXU Energy, which it helped avoid bankruptcy.  It did this by structuring a transaction which had a substantial upside should the company not default before a set date (which it did not).

Other investment fund companies employ different strategies for their clients.  For example, Och Ziff Capital Management and BlackRock Advisors.  As founder, chairman and CEO of Och Ziff, Daniel Och provide clients with a “multi-strategy approach to investing across multiple strategies and geographies.” As such it seeks to ensure the interests of its fund investors is aligned to the structure of its business.

Raymond Dalio, founder and CEO of Bridgewater Associates, works via what he claims to be a “more practical” understanding of the ebb-and-flow economic structure, using an unconventional management style which avoids focus on supply and demand theories.  He rejects the notion that monetary policymakers have the capacity to control inflation just by controlling the money supply.  He thus developed and employs the MV=PQ Formula (whereby M is money; V is velocity [how many times annually the average dollar is spent]; P is prices of goods and services and Q is quantity of goods and services.)  Using this, the firm works on the theory that if V is constant and M is increasing, there must be an increase in either Q or P.

Therefore, investors would be well advised to seek to understand the firm they have chosen as well as the current economic climate.

A New Yorker’s Dedication to CPR Training

 

Defibrillator, or AED. Photo courtesy of Fmalvarez.

During an ordinary day in August, 2016, New York businessman Jeff Feig was vacationing with his family in the Pine Lake Park bungalow colony in Cortlandt Manor, New York. Suddenly, with no warning, he collapsed, having suffered a massive heart attack. The chances are high, that if it weren’t for his fellow bungalow colony residents training and presence of mind, Jeff Feig would not have survived.  His wife Michelle & their 3 young sons would have been left to cope with this loss.

But Jeff Feig did survive, and this is why: his neighbors at the colony had training in CPR and the use of what is known as an automated external defibrillator, also called an AED. When Feig collapsed the people around him kept cool and helped him so efficiently that not only did Feig survive, he suffered no damage to his heart or to his brain.

Four people came to his aid: one called an ambulance; another administered mouth-to-mouth ventilation to keep oxygen flowing into his body; a third did chest compressions to keep his heart pumping blood throughout his body; and a fourth ran to get the AED to re-boot Feig’s heart. Ten minutes later the ambulance arrived, a length of time that would have been too late for the brain, which cannot survive lack of oxygen for more than four minutes.

Since that fateful day, Feig, who spent over 25 years in the financial sales and trading industry, has been spending much of his time promoting CPR training and purchasing of AED machines to be placed in public places. What is so amazing about Feig’s rescue from death is that the four laypeople who saved him had just had CPR and AED training only two weeks prior to his heart attack. This fact serves to underscore the urgency that more people from all walks of life are trained in this life-saving procedure.

Pet Ventures in NYC

Pet business ventures seem to be making it big in New York these days.  Three examples discussed here are: Doggy Day Care, “cat” therapy robots and Pet Plate.

Doggy Day Care is a big thing these days but one of the initial companies that offered this service in the New York area is now opening another one in the same place.  Pupculture (that originally opened in Soho in 2002) is planning on opening a branch in Northwest Tribeca at the beginning of next year, on the corner of Hudson and Laight.  Offering “pet pampering services” (including: boarding, daycare, grooming, spa treatments and more), New Yorkers can bring their furry friends to the Center for a few hours, a day or even a couple of months.

For those who are more into cats, they are making their way into the entrepreneurial industry as well.  Some of the newer therapy “cats” are being used to help seniors living at old age homes in the Bronx who are suffering from dementia, Alzheimer’s and other cognitive, neurological conditions.  The Robotic therapy pets are able to relieve residents’ agitation that often comes with these conditions.  It saves money at 3am when one might not necessarily have to call in an aide to take care of this situation.

Another pet-based business venture in New York is PetPlate, a company which is humanizing pet food.  Now, instead of just humans being able to get tasty and healthy meals (such as hummus and guacamole), their four-legged loved ones can too. Only clinically-approved ingredients are used to ensure satisfaction of the pet’s palate.  It is the very first pet food delivery service in America that is distributing freshly-cooked, pre-portioned USDA food.  PetPlate uses meals based on recipes that veterinary clinical nutritionists have created.

NYC Businesses: Getting Ahead

loanHow do small businesses start and thrive in NYC?  Bureaucracy and taxes can put quite a strain on even the most established businesses, so what about those that are just starting out?  What makes the people behind them even try because a lot of them do, given that they account for 48 percent of the private workforce, along with, 74% of new private-sector jobs since 2008, and 99.7% of all U.S. businesses.

Some of the issues they have to confront include: challenges getting finance; limited access to credit and bureaucratic time-consuming hurdles.  One idea (posed by an Op-Ed in Crain’s New York Business by Carolyn B. Maloney) is to acquiesce additional funding for the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI), an oft-overlooked federal program that help finance businesses in underserved communities.

This now could become very helpful.  Just three weeks ago, the CDFI committed to giving a large amount of tax credits (known as New Markets Tax Credits – NMTC), to investors that focused on job creation and other economic boosters in regions most susceptible to poverty. The total of this amounted to $7 billion; more than half of that is being earmarked for urban areas.

Furthermore, at the end of last month the United States Department of Treasury CDFI Fund awarded the CDFI $65 million in NMTC which will be used for the financing of a variety of assistances including small business  loans throughout the nation.