A Summer of Holmdel Chamber of Commerce and an Exciting Fall Ahead

HOLMDEL, NJ - It was a busy summer for the Holmdel Chamber of Commerce. Busy people with busy lives, particularly during a hot July and August, when children are out of school. Even the summer meetings were full at Bell Works, and the September Monthly Meeting is just around the corner, Tuesday, September 25th at 8AM, in the WAVE Room at Bell Works. Special Guests at the September meeting will be SCAN, Caregiver Canines and The Green Leaf Pet Resort. 

Holmdel Chamber members and guests chose to gather in June during the Wednesday Farmer's Market and Cocktail Hour at Bell Works. It was an evening of business networking with regional network groups, while sipping on cocktails.  Holmdel Chamber member Mary Vassilakos made a large batch of her delicious guilt free Arbonne protein bars, which were devoured quickly. Click here to email Mary for the recipe. The group learned all about the third Annual Monmouth Film Festival, and everyone received tips for recharging the mind and body with a few simple yoga exercises for the office, demonstrated by Allison Scaramuzzo of Dragonfly Yoga

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July was a hot one:  Successful CEO of Frutta Bowls, 25 Year Old Brooke Gagliano, was the Holmdel Chamber's Keynote speaker. Brooke graduated from Drew University in 2014 majoring in Business with a minor in Biology and Art. She was a collegiate athlete playing field hockey, softball and lacrosse. She was on the All American and Conference team for field hockey, All Conference team for lacrosse and was named the Athlete of the Year in both high school and college. After college Brooke had a passion for athletic training and nutrition. She started her own personal training business, and was training sports teams and clients until she was introduced to the acai berry, one of the base ingredients for the Frutta Bowls product. Since then, she has worked hard to move forward with that. With the support of her friends and family she opened her first store May 10, 2016 in Howell, NJ at age 23. Shortly after that she opened her second store in Freehold, NJ and franchised Frutta Bowls. Now there are 28 locations open in 9 different states with plans to have 51 locations open in 16 states by the end of the year. "We call ourselves the Frutta Family as 3 of the 4 partners are family members." Gagliano said.  Pat is Brooke’s father,  who has had his own construction business for years . He helped build Brooke’s first few stores and works hard everyday on growing the brand. Chris is Brooke’s brother in law who, in the the beginning, was helping with accounting and has recently joined the team full time. John is another partner who has been a great family friend of Brooke's Dad for years. Brooke comments, "Each of us have a strong relationship, and we are all considered family. For this reason, it is so important to us that our franchisees are treated the same way; as a family. Our hope is that each of our franchises treat their staff and customers as members of the “frutta family.” Colts Neck Frutta Bowl owner Kristine Garland said, "It's great to be a part of the Frutta Family. People love our bowls and that makes it so enjoyable. We meet new customers everyday and our repeat business is solid so we see many of the same people often and our store in the Orchards Plaza has become a great community gathering place. We love hosting!" 

Gagliano, recently interviewed on FOX Business,  highlighted both her inspiration journey from idea phase to a successful company. Frutta Bowls foods have become a favorite with many, and there was a generous abundance of delicious Frutta samplings at the July meeting. The spread went well  with the hot gourmet coffee selections, compliments of Eagle Specialty Coffee, for the Holmdel Chamber members and guests. Gagliano was the perfect speaker for the high school and college students present at the July meeting to identify with.  She was an inspiration to those in business for decades as well as the young students.

Internships and Volunteerism Also Profiled in July

Folks also brought their business minded - forward focused teens to the July meeting because valuable internship and volunteer information was shared by:

  • Vydia's VP of Product Management, the amazing Jenna Gaudio provided quick tips to teens (relevant to anyone really) on how to land that great internship or job and talk about Vydia's internships. Vydia is an Inc 500 video technology company headquartered in Bell Works.
  • New Bell Work's Tenant: Upward.net's  Chief Strategy Officer Donnie Mannino spoke about Upward.net's dynamic mission to 'help both employers grow their business and employees grow their career.' Donnie talked about internship opportunities available.
  • Community Volunteer Manager Debbie Brew provided valuable information on the topic of volunteer opportunities for teens beginning at age 13 and through high school, and possible ways your business or your teen 13 and up, can participate. This includes earning documented volunteer hours needed for many students, as well as possible volunteer experience for college resumes, etc. Debbie Brew manages a large data base as a volunteer liaison, matching volunteers and local businesses and organizations to provide teens from 7th grade-12th grade with valuable volunteer experiences, and businesses and organizations with volunteers who fit their needs. 
  • Holmdel graduate, Founder and President of the International Award Winning Monmouth Film Festival, Nick Marchese spoke about his internship and mentoring programs and opportunities for the next school year. 
  • 2017 Holmdel graduate and current Monmouth University student Joey Signorile spoke about the great opportunities at Monmouth University and the value of internship experiences. She is currently a MU student with a major in interdisciplinary elementary education. Signorile is on the 5 year track to get a masters in special education. She is a student mentor and student ambassador, and is also involved in teacher residency program. Outside of school, she teaches religious education at Saint Catharine's Church in Holmdel. She also represents Monmouth University, giving tours to interested high school students. Many guests in the audience were eager to go on her tour.
  • Future Business Leader of America's President from Holmdel High School and Founder of CompanyRoots,  TAPinto Holmdel and Colts Neck's newest intern; Souris Jasti and his peers discussed  opportunities for high school students to get involved in community projects, etc.

The Holmdel Chamber of Commerce met again over the summer, on August 21st.  As during most meetings, Holmdel insurance broker and Chamber Member Al Aloisi set the tone as he played on the Grand Piano in Bell Work's Atrium space just inside the entrance. Always a treat for members, the professional sound of Aloisi on the grand piano helped set the stage for the members, guests and speakers gathering for coffee, communication and learning.

Notable for each meeting is the niche that has been carved out by non-profits. Each meeting is typically arranged to include room networking as well as ‘speed networking’ where  folks can briefly describe who they are and what they do. Some refer to this as the ‘elevator pitch’. It is more than just  an invitation to do businesses together with this chamber, it is an invitation to a special event or a non-profit endeavor of significance. This is something that sets the group apart.  

During the meeting in August, the speakers included DonnaLynn Geigrich from Kick Cancer Overboard. DonnaLynn who (along with her husband) is a cancer survivor.  DonnaLynn and her partner Ted help families arrange cruises to attempt to distract from the impact of cancer in their lives, while enjoying family time. This topic, which can be so devastating to families, provided insight into programming available to families if they just knew about it. Informing the community about the valued work of non-profits is a key objective of the Holmdel Chamber of Commerce and they are garnering a reputation that you can ‘do well by doing good’.

Next was Teresa Staub from Monmouth Arts. She reviewed the work of their group and shared the news of a major fundraising event they are holding called Stardust, a Futuristic Fundraiser to be held at Bell Works in October. There are still great business sponsorships available and there's a special discount for Bell Works employees and Holmdel Chamber members. You can read more about this exciting October 6, event  here:

The August Holmdel Chamber of Commerce Meeting was planned with an eye on the upcoming September National Cancer Awareness Month. The main speaker for August's event was Sarah Krug, executive director of Cancer 101. Education, empowerment and inspiration were key ingredients for Krug's presentation.

“Powerful and Humbling”. That was the response from one member of the Holmdel Chamber of Commerce to Krug, who is part of an organization dedicated to empowering patients, families and caregivers who must navigate cancer. It is notable that Monmouth County has the highest cancer rate in the State of New Jersey.  Cancer 101 is an organization that is dedicated to enabling you to cut through the clutter of information, so you can focus on the key items that are critical to you – organize them in an effective way and provide methods to do so. In particular, they have an incredible kit that is available at cancer101.org 

“The goal is to ensure that patients have access to this information when they need it. When you go to google and you plug in cancer there are millions of sites that come up…there is a misconception that a .org is a reputable organization, and that is too often not the case."

Krug provided the engaged guests a Top Ten Health Care tips list that everyone needs to know.

  1. Your life expertise is just as important as the doctors expertise.
  2. Find the right partner. We don’t hire the first contractor necessarily so why do we go to the first doctor that we can make an appointment with?
  3. Every orchestra needs a conductor – it is important for us to find that conductor who can guide our care.
  4. In one ear and out the other – 40% is lost soon after so it is critical that take note or record with permission or bring an advocate or teach back to the doctor to understand what was said
  5. Don’t ask don’t tell – a subject of an upcoming book – we sometimes don’t tell the truth to our doctor because of embarrassment etc. it can backfire and haunt us. Do not feel embarrassed.
  6. More care is not always better – do I really need this – will it help me – what are the risks?
  7. Brown bag it – keep a record of you prescriptions and other items such as herb supplements and it is important that your gatekeeper doctor is aware.
  8. Managing costs – costs of care are rising – look at generics – copayment relief programs – ask questions abut such programs and negotiate procedures. "Healthcare blue book provides fair market value numbers to review." Krug said
  9. Dr. Google – validate your searches – first page on google is not necessarily credible.
  10. Follow and understand your data trails. Information is being collected about you – recognize that plugging in this information can and will be used about you – read the terms and conditions about the collection of information and that it may not be in your best interest. 

Krug ended with a poignant commentary on the state of social media and social isolation  that befalls so many. “Meaningful Human Connections Are One of the Most Valuable Currencies in Life" – my favorite one. Technology has been a problem solver for us all but has also led to social isolation. "There is data that proves that loneliness and social isolation is equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day in terms of health risks.” She concluded.  Sarah Krug has a ‘six word story’ that everyone should think about for themselves. Her six word story? ‘relentless advocate, reaching for the stars’.

The guests left the meeting motivated to reach higher.

The Holmdel Chamber of Commerce is a 100% volunteer organization. If you would like to reserve for the meeting, have your business be highlighted as a food or coffee sponsor or have any questions email membership@holmdelchamber.com If you would like to see articles about previous meetings, follow Holmdel Chamber of Commerce on Facebook. You can join online at holmdelchamber.com