Category Archives: New York Business

Life and Work in New York

What is it like to really live and work in New York?  For those thinking about the move, is this really doable?  And, if so, is it a real challenge or do the benefits outweigh the difficulties?  Here we take a very brief look at some of the factors to be considered.

First off the infamous WeWork phenomenon – that is not news in an of itself – is reaching a new level.  Instead of simply using the space for work one can also kinda live there now too with the Financial District’s WeLive phenomenon.  Spaces up to four bedrooms large can be rented out for a day or even a year!  For those looking for something smaller that is possible too as studios can also be rented for short- and long-term uses.

The advantage of this is that everything comes included – all the silverware, utensils and anything possible that you would ordinarily need to live.  You can make use of the bar, laundry room and swimming pool as well; it really has become a home away from home and for those traveling for work who need the space this is a great option.  It also works for those considering a more permanent move – of themselves or their entire businesses – to the New York area.  It is kind of like a trial to see how working would be in practice.

Another area we looked into was transportation.  Reports show it’s actually not bad at all.  According to Times contributor Jonathan Mahler, “In New York, movement—anywhere, anytime—is a right.”  Unlike some other large cities, there is just one flat fare when it comes to the city’s public transportation – the Metro.  So you “don’t’ get penalized for not being able to live centrally.”  Which is actually very positive considering how pricey that can be. And that also probably accounts for why NYC has become such a hub of culture.

 

 

Bolstering Small Businesses

Developed by Andrew Cuomo, the Innovation Vouchers Bill seeks to facilitate the struggle small businesses and startups undergo.  In trying to raise the money for their R&D work, they need backing.    At the same time, educational institutions have the resources for the development of these ideas but lack the projects in real life.  This venture from Cuomo puts the two groups together.

In other New York tax-related news, members of the city council showed support for retailers in the region with their approval for an action that would decrease the city’s Commercial Rent Tax. With this reduction, around 2,700 Manhattan SMB owners will benefit.  As well, elected officials seeking to assist independent neighborhood retailers will positively impact quality of life in New York City. Once the neighborhoods become more attractive, there is an increase in property values and tax revenues in the region.

 

A Peek Into Success After Rough Waters

Solid leadership and trust may be the most important factors for the success of a company. Take Essex Financial Services, for example, which was rocked by a company-wide crisis when its founder was accused of illegal activity and government investigations ensued. As a result, the firm lost several advisors and many customers.

To cope with the situation, Essex Financial elected Charles “Chuck” R. Cumello, Jr. to fill the role of CEO and president in John Rafal’s stead.

“We handled it the way we should,” Cumello said. “At the end of the day, this is a trust business; there is a right way and a wrong way… We navigated some rough waters, but we did what we had to do.”

Theday.com reported that “many of Cumello’s colleagues agree it was Cumello’s steady hand and insistence on transparency that earned Essex Financial their continuing trust.”

John Patrick, president and CEO if Farmington Banks, has also expressed this sentiment. The companies have a joint marketing arrangement. “Chuck kept me abreast of everything,” he said. “He’s done a terrific job considering the situation that he inherited.”

Despite its history, Essex Financial is one of the largest independent financial services companies in the state today. Patrick believes this has to do with the firm’s personal touch.

“Real people are assigned to accounts, and they require an ongoing dialogue with clients,” he said. “We don’t need somebody selling something just to get a commission… They react to the changing dynamics of clients.”

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.