DBA (doing business under an assumed name) certificates filed at the Jefferson County Clerk’s office for the month of February 2014:
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It was business as usual Monday afternoon at Omniafiltra as U.S. Rep. William L. Owens, D-Plattsburgh, toured the industrial paper and fiber manufacturing facility.
So usual, in fact, that Mr. Owens got more than a walking tour.
“This is hands-on management … literally,” Mr. Owens said as he watched mill manager Scott C. Sauer operate one of the large machines.
When one employee was called away unexpectedly for a family matter, Mr. Sauer stepped into his role on the machine line, taking just a few minutes to meet with Mr. Owens before returning to the machines.
“It’s a real collaborative effort here,” Mr. Owens said. “It’s real. It’s impressive.”
He decided to visit the mill after learning employees had recently celebrated 10 years in business. In the struggling paper industry, startups and similar successes are almost unheard of.
“We’re just ending the best week we’ve ever had,” Mr. Sauer said, explaining that with today’s strength of 35 employees and the hope of adding six more, the business is a far cry from where it started 10 years ago.
“We had no power, no transformer,” he said. “We had one customer.”
Mr. Sauer attributes the success to the dedicated employees, hired after the mill was sold and stood empty for several years.
He discussed the challenges of operating the facility with few inexpensive options for shipping and receiving.
“It’s expensive and we’re far from the Thruway,” he said.
Mr. Owens asked about the possibility of the return of railroads to the county, and Lewis County Economic Development Director Eric J. Virkler said there are several other businesses that would be potential rail users.
“It might be worth taking a look into,” Mr. Owens said.
The leaders mentioned that rail-freight operator CSX Corp. is investing $100 million to improve rail lines between Montreal and Syracuse.
Mr. Sauer also explained how his crew’s flexibility has helped Omniafiltra continue to grow.
“Anything the big guys can’t or won’t do … that’s our niche,” he said.
Though offering specialty products many others do not, Mr. Sauer said, it still keeps prices low.
“Our prices are extremely competitive,” he said. “We’ve gotten good at our game.”
A family nurse practitioner, a few engineers, a financial controller, an environmentalist, an insurance agent, business advisors, small business owners, an educator, a grant writer, a real estate broker, a fitness instructor, a pair of nonprofit leaders, two Fort Drum professionals, and a physician. Our third annual 20 Under 40 class was the most competitive field yet, and these individuals represent a snapshot of Northern New York’s most accomplished, dedicated and involved young professionals, across a wide spectrum of industries, and across three counties. All of these young men and women are involved in some shape or form in their community, whether by serving on an organization’s board, coaching a Little League team, teaching Sunday School, or something as simple as helping to organize community 5K runs or making time to donate to food banks. All of these leaders, who are between the ages of 25 and 39, were chosen not only by the editors and staff of NNY Business magazine, but by virtue of glowing recommendations from their peers and employers. And not only do these emerging leaders, who embody the prized north country values of compassion, hard work and selflessness, make time in hectic schedules to volunteer in the community, they give their very best in challenging career fields each and day, all out of an effort to make the place they have chosen to stay in and call home the very best place it can be. NNY Business recognizes these 20 men and women along with their companies at a special luncheon at Watertown’s Hilton Garden Inn. The 2013 20 Under 40 class:
- Jeniffer D. Alberry — River Hospital
- Adam A. Carmon — Bay Brokerage
- Matthew J. Cervini — Fort Drum Mountain Community Homes
- Matthew J. Cooper — Bernier, Carr & Associates
- Mickey Dietrich — N.Y. State Tug Hill Commission
- Adam J. Fuller — Fuller Insurance Agency
- April Halladay — AmeriCU Credit Union
- William D. Hosmer — Hosmer’s Marina
- Wayne A. Latham Jr. — Latham Auto Sales & Service
- Jamie Lee — SUNY Attain Lab
- Diane H. Leonard — DH Leonard Consulting & Grant Writing Services
- Amanda J. Miller — Lake Ontario Realty
- Jessica L. Page — Page Fitness Athetic Club
- Victoria M. Peck — Children’s Home of Jefferson County
- Kristen M. Reed — Credo Community Center
- Michelle M. Roden — Fort Drum Family & MWR
- Brooke E. Rouse — SUNY Canton SBDC
- Edward C. Siebels — Fort Drum Mountain Community Homes
- Junior J. Stefanini — JKA Enterprises
- Dr. Jason F. White — Internal Medicine of NNY
She later found that she didn’t like the money-above-all focus of corporate culture, and found a life, a family and a career in Jefferson County.
Ms. Lee is an instructional technology coordinator at the SUNY Attain Lab at the Roswell P. Flower Memorial Library, an initiative started by the state legislature to provide Internet access and computer training to those who would go without.
Many people over the age of 35 do not understand computer basics, a fact Ms. Lee found surprising when she started the job. Even people who think they have a good understanding of basic programs often find out they have a lot to learn.
“People tell me all the time ‘oh I know Word, I know PowerPoint, I know Excel,” but when they take this class there is so much more to this program than they actually imagined.”
Ms. Lee says working at the lab provides her the human focus she needs to feel fulfilled in her work.
“I want to be an individual who helps people realize their dreams, which I do here at the lab.”
Many of those who come to her have lost their jobs, and need the computer training to have any hope of finding work.
“So many people come into our lab and they’re unemployed. They’ve been working at a company for 30 years and suddenly they have no employment,” she said.
Keeping up with rapidly changing technology proves challenging, and Ms. Lee must keep on top of the trends to be able to provide community members with the training they need.
Where once she dreamed of big cities, now she can’t imagine living anywhere other than her close-knit community in Brownville.
“We’re so closely connected,” she said.
“My family is here, and my family means the world to me,” she said. “Why would I want to go anywhere else?”
Her ties to the community have stirred up her passion for community service.
The Jamie Lee file
Professional position: Instructional Technology Coordinator, SUNY Attain Lab at the Roswell P. Flower Memorial Library, Watertown
Family: Husband Ryan M. Lee; daughter, McKenna R., 7, and son, Brenden M., 5.
Education: Bachelor’s in business administration, SUNY Brockport; bachelor’s in education, SUNY Oswego, master’s in literacy education, SUNY Oswego
Community involvement: Commissioner for the Town of Brownville Joint Fire District, member of the General Brown school board, secretary of the Thousand Islands Young Leaders Association
Last book read: “House of Hades” by Rick Riordan
“We need to be a part of what happens where we live,” she said.
She has been a member of several committees, helping to establish the town of Brownville Fire Department, teaching others about the school budget and joining the General Brown School District Board of Education.
Her ties to the community and happiness in her career have not stopped her from setting her sights higher. She wants to turn her interests in politics and local issues into a spot on a town council, and eventually run for a state or even federal government position.
“I see myself getting there, but at the same time I do have two children, and I need to make their life valuable and direct them where they need to go before I further my direction and my ambition,” she said.
She tells her children to follow their dreams while always looking out for others.
“The advice that I give to them every day is to be a kind individual, and to look to be what you want to be,” she said.
— Jacob Tierney
A former national fitness competitor who now runs a thriving fitness club, Mrs. Page says she struggles with the same thing everyone else does when it comes to working out — finding time. She’s also trying to work off the baby weight from her second child.
“I feel like our clients can relate a little more,” she said.
Mrs. Page is licensed in massage therapy, cosmetology and coaching — a varied background that she says has helped her understand the human body.
She fell in love with fitness after teaching group classes and competing in Fitness America pageants, for which her husband helped her train. A 2009 win at the Model Capitol Championships in Annandale, Va., and a top 10 finish in the International Fitness America Pageant in Miami landed her a feature spread in the November 2009 issue of Oxygen Magazine.
“I really just fell in love with the feeling of working out and I could see what it could really do for someone, she said. “It was just really powerful.”
Mrs. Page taught at CANI Fitness for about five years before she and her husband purchased it in September 2009. It was then a “desolate membership-style gym” and “not a successful business,” she said.
“We had the drive, we loved fitness, but we knew nothing about owning a business or how to run a business,” she said.
They had a three-year vision for their ideal training facility, one where people wouldn’t plug away solo on machines, but get the support and structure needed to succeed. But after competitor Planet Fitness opened in 2011, wiping their membership from 700 to 200 in a year’s time, transitioning to their vision accelerated.
“Then it wasn’t a blessing, but now I look back on that experience and I think that made us the business owners that we are today and it made our vision so much clearer,” she said. “It was a struggle for about a year, but now we are completely evolved into a training facility and we don’t offer memberships.”
The Jessica L. Page file
Professional position: Co-owner, Page Fitness Athletic Club, Watertown
Family: Husband, Christopher; sons, Zachary, 2, and Tyler, 7 months
Education: New York state licenses in massage therapy, hair styling and coaching
Community involvement: Greater Watertown-North Country Chamber of Commerce, AUSA, BNI, Women in Business networking group
Last book read: “Secret Service: Hidden Systems That Deliver” by John Dijulius
The club is home to Crossfit and has three trainers and eight boot camp instructors who offer personalized support to the club’s roughly 200 clients through boot camps, group and private training course.
Page Fitness was named Fitness Business of the Year for North America this October by the coaching company NPE after the Pages presented their story, business model and client results at a national conference. The couple was also selected to author a chapter in the 2012 Amazon bestseller “Bigger Better Faster Stronger” written by leading fitness experts.
Mrs. Page radiates a positive, upbeat enthusiasm, echoed in the club’s bright, cheerful décor, that she uses to inspire and comfort clients who might be down on themselves for getting out of shape.
“I feel like a smile can go a long way,” she said. “We want this to be the best part of someone’s day when they come here.”
Other than helping numerous community members change their lives and get on a path to a healthy lifestyle, Mrs. Page is active in the community through donations that the club makes to various causes, AUSA, Business of Women, the Chamber of Commerce and club fundraisers such as a recent “turkey buster” workout where community members can work out for free with the donation of a canned good for the local food bank.
Outside of work, Mrs. Page enjoys spending time with her two sons — Zachary, 2, and Tyler, seven months — skiing and reading. She credits her parents, who own Hi-Lite Markings in Adams Center, and her uncle as valuable mentors, as well as the Rev. Kirk S. Gilchrist, who provides a “good perspective and balance.”
She believes mentors are vital keys to business success.
“Don’t think you know everything because we’re constantly learning every day and evolving,” she advised potential business owners. “Be open to feedback from the people that do business with you and be involved in the community.”
— Leah Buletti
“Being one of six girls, there’s not any time to think about just you. Everything I did affected seven other people in my home,” said Mrs. Peck, who has worked for the last eight years at the Children’s Home of Jefferson County.
Three of her siblings wound up in social work.
Mrs. Peck started at the Children’s Home during an internship in her last semester of college and that August started as a direct care counselor in the residential cottages. She then worked the midnight to 8 a.m. shift in non-secure detention while tutoring teenagers during the day, before moving to non-secure casework and finally into foster care, which became her passion.
“I’ve always found foster care the rewarding side of child welfare,” Mrs. Peck said. “We get to work diligently for re-unification, and if not, adoption is an alternate route. It’s finding forever families or mending families so children can return.”
In foster care, she started as a recruitment and training coordinator, then became the intake coordinator, a position that drew on her strengths from residential work. While in intake, she traveled throughout the state promoting programs. At the time, the Children’s Home was serving numerous children from St. Lawrence County in the Watertown area, which ultimately led to her spearheading the Children’s Home taking over recruitment and training for all of the St. Lawrence County Department of Social Services’s foster homes in early 2012.
The program has seen astounding expansion under her direction: Initially, it was prepared to serve 30 children with two directors and three staffers, but it’s now been serving more than 100 children for over a year, with nearly 20 full-time and 10 part-time staff members.
“It’s been a rapid growth in a short amount of time,” Mrs. Peck said.
Every position she’s held at the Children’s Home has built on the last, each giving her the knowledge and skills to “mentor and lead fellow colleagues.” She credits many prior supervisors as “amazing mentors” in teaching her professionalism, dedication and commitment to the agency’s work.
Though she didn’t always know she wanted to go into nonprofit work, pursuing a Spanish major for the first half of her college career, she said she loves the “relationship building” aspect of her job; work is now what keeps her going during tough personal events.
“I enjoy being a positive force,” she said.
The Victoria M. Peck file
Professional position: Director of Foster Care, St. Lawrence County, Children’s Hoe of Jefferson County
Family: Husband, Derek M. Peck
Education: Bachelor’s in psychology, Wells College, Aurora
Community involvement: A lot through work, hopes to get involved in Resolution Center of Jefferson and Lewis counties as a mediator.
Last book read: “Season of Life” by Jeffrey Marx. “It’s about a football star and it’s about turning young, adolescent males into men and being men for others, meaning don’t be selfish and give everything you have to others. It was very emotional. I lost my father the last week of July so to read this, I felt like I knew my dad.”
But social work isn’t without its challenges, especially given that “everything is urgent, and requires immediate attention.” In her first two years at the Children’s Home, she struggled with separating out emotions and questioned if it was the right job for her.
“You have to be emotionally sound to be able to desensitize from the day to day, knowing that if I wasn’t strong emotionally I wouldn’t be any good tending the children and families,” she said.
She’s acquired that emotional strength through a strong network of family and close friends — one reason she decided to remain in her north country home, where three of her sisters live.
That support network, she believes, is key to the success of any young professional.
“I think that through working at the Children’s Home, I’ve been exposed to so many organizations and professionals throughout the community and I’m aware of what’s going on,” she said. “I believe that for any emerging professional in the community, you have to get involved.”
So, too, is a certain faith in process.
“Everything happens for a reason, I believe that,” she said when asked what advice she’d give to young leaders. “I believe that every experience builds on the next, and you may not always know the reasons at the time …
I think of all of the lessons to where I am today and had I turned my back then, during trying times, I wouldn’t be where I am today. So not to give up.”
— Leah Buletti
Between the lines of the 25-year-old’s lengthy resume of volunteer board membership and officer positions is a passion for community and the desire to help change the world one idea at a time. Encouraged by relatives and college professors to never quit, Ms. Reed said she embraces new challenges because she knows they are just steps toward success.
“Don’t take no for an answer” is the best advice she said she’s followed from James E. Reagan, communications director for state Sen. Patricia A. Ritchie, R-Heuvelton.
“I think about that constantly, whether I advise someone of healthy life choices or in an organization,” Ms. Reed said.
She has spent the past two years as a vocational/rehabilitation counselor at Credo Community Center for the Treatment of Addictions helping people who struggle, or who have struggled, with addiction to alcohol or other substances obtain life skills and education to help them work toward establishing or re-establishing a career.
“Every day is a new day,” she said. “You’re working with people at some of the lowest points of their life and you’re able to make changes that will uplift them. Seeing success stories of people helps keep you going.”
What also has kept Ms. Reed going for most of her young adult life, she said, is giving people a chance to start over, through work done at Credo.
“When I was 16, my mom got hit by a drunk driver,” she said. “She was semi-paralyzed and I feel like the more people I can help directly, the more families I can save from that experience.”
When not at work, Ms. Reed often helps other people create their own successes, whether it be helping the elderly during a game of bingo, participating in various Jefferson Breakfast Kiwanis events and meetings or helping lay a community service foundation for youth involved with their school’s Key Club.
“Each day is a new chance to help people, even on the weekends,” Ms. Reed said.
She said she is inspired to remain involved in the community because she lives by the Kiwanis motto of ‘serving the children of the world.’ Recognizing it takes multiple volunteers to accomplish that, and more, Ms. Reed said if the north country had more serious economic development more young adults would be attracted to the area. More people of that segment of the population, she said, could then volunteer in their local area.
The Kristen M. Reed file
Professional position: Vocational/rehabilitation counselor at Credo Community Center for the Treatment of Addictions
Family: Parents, Mark Reed and Barbara Remillard, Florence, S.C.; grandparents, Julia and Richard Smith, Dexter
Education: Bachelor’s in communications, SUNY Potsdam, 2010
Community Involvement: Jefferson Breakfast Kiwanis and NY Young Professionals Kiwanis Club
Last Book Read: “A Place of Yes” by Bethenny Frankel
Turning obstacles into opportunities is a challenge that Ms. Reed said she has accepted for many years because obstacles often can be overcome. One hurdle that she said she has jumped over numerous times is the myth that young people are selfish and only want time for them.
“A lot of times people in their 20s are called ‘Generation-Me,’” she said. “There are twenty-somethings who are selfless. You think of clubs like Rotary, Kiwanis and you think of older people. There are young people who care about the world. I think there’s this misconception that young people can’t do (big) jobs.”
Ms. Reed is one of those exceptions. She was the International president for Circle K, the collegiate branch of Kiwanis, and traveled throughout the U.S. and Canada for meetings. Ms. Reed also held the title of national collegiate counselor ambassador for the March of Dimes, and was governor of all state Key Clubs in 2006.
She currently holds the titles of co-coordinator of the Jefferson County Suicide Prevention Coalition and Lt. Governor for 2014-15 of the St. Lawrence Division of Kiwanis, which represents clubs from Malone to Watertown.
— Rebecca Madden
A healthy bit of creativity doesn’t hurt either.
“If you’re not having fun then you’re not doing it right,” she said.
On the day she spoke with the magazine, the head of the post’s Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers program was in the final stages of preparation for a post-apocalyptic zombie-themed 5K that would host more than 600 soldiers and family members.
Mrs. Roden said her preparation for the event had been months in the making, as she attended 5Ks around the area to get a better idea on how to improve areas of the event like pre-race registration.
Mrs. Roden is a face many of Fort Drum’s soldiers see during their day, as her office helps coordinate recreational and community service projects for thousands of 10th Mountain Division soldiers. Without the office, many of the program’s participants would otherwise be socially isolated in their barracks or apartments.
One of her daily challenges is overcoming complaints from soldiers that there is nothing to do.
“There’s stuff to do, you just have to look for it,” Mrs. Roden said.
She would know. Mrs. Roden has lived in Northern New York for her entire life, and now resides in Clayton. Graduating from Thousand Islands High School and taking classes at Jefferson Community College, Mrs. Roden took the job on post after working with the Antique Boat Museum, Clayton.
One of the keys to her development in her work, Mrs. Roden said, has been the mentorship she has received from other leaders on post. The post’s leadership program, she said, pairs people together from different departments.
“It makes you appreciate what you do,” she said.
The Michelle M. Roden file
Hometown: Cape Vincent
Professional position: Senior program adviser, Fort Drum Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers, Fort Drum Family & MWR program
Family: Husband, Matthew Roden
Education: Thousand Island High School, college coursework at
Jefferson Community College
Community involvement: Organizer and volunteer, Thousand Island High School Memorial Volleyball Tournament; volunteer, Clayton Christmas Parade; volunteer for various fundraisers for Save the River, Polar Bear Dip for River Hospital and the Antique Boat Museum.
Last book read: “The Husband’s Secret,” Liane Moriarty
Other leaders on post have taken notice of Mrs. Roden’s work ethic during the seven years she has been on Fort Drum.
“Her logistical skills are above and beyond something I’ve seen from people her age,” said Donna W. Orvis, marketing chief for Fort Drum’s Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation. “She knows what to ask for.”
Mrs. Orvis added that Mrs. Roden’s attitude has made her stand out from others.
“She always has a smile on her face,” she said. “No matter what job she has for herself, I’ve never seen her have a bad attitude about anything.”
Mrs. Roden’s attitude and outreach with soldiers has made an impression on the post’s leadership.
Col. Gary A. Rosenberg, who as garrison commander oversees much of the daily activity on post, praised Mrs. Roden during an October conference about social media at Fort Meade, Md. for reaching out to a soldier whose mother had raised concerns about their social life.
At the end of the day, Mrs. Roden says helping soldiers and their families every day is the favorite part of her job.
“That’s why we’re here, that’s why we have a job, to take care of the soldiers, to make sure they’re active, and not in the barracks twiddling their thumbs,” she said.
— Gordon Block