Category: Guest Posts

Equipment Valuation: More Important Than Ever in the COVID Business Environment

Post: Jun. 30, 2020

Using a Certified Appraiser to Review Your Equipment Can Reduce Your Tax and Insurance Liabilities

By Kevin Brewster, Brewster Machinery Sales, Inc. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has cast a pall over a large segment of the US economy, including the manufacturing sector. While the government had made significant efforts to buoy the economy and support American workers through a variety of business loan programs and stimulus payments, the fact remains that this has required an enormous amount of spending. At some point, the government will be forced to generate revenue by raising taxes. The pandemic has also forced equipment dealers to slash their prices on new equipment by as much as 30% or more.

For manufacturers, this raises the issue of equipment valuation. Assessment records aren’t always accurate, and the pandemic has led to an environment in which municipal and state authorities, as well as the federal government, will be looking to increase revenue. Equipment condition, depreciation and quality ratio have a direct impact on reducing annual tax liability. At the same time, current market prices affect how capital equipment is valued for property tax purposes. Lower prices lead to a lower valuation and tax basis. Moreover, companies that own significant equipment must protect their assets with insurance, and that also necessitates an understanding of the real replacement value. Lower valuations lead to lower insurance costs, and in the pandemic-battered economy, every dollar saved is a boost to businesses.

Every year, manufacturers save millions of dollars by reducing property tax liability through the Value Adjustment Board petition process. A certified machinery appraiser can value your equipment according to the relevant standards for the type of equipment being appraised and ensure that the current market conditions are taken into account.

Certified equipment appraisers must adhere to a body of ethical standards and procedures defined by the Appraisal Standards Board (ASB) of The Appraisal Foundation (TAF). These protocols are laid out in The Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP), the official guidance document published by the TAF. Following the savings & loan debacle in 1989, Congress adopted the USPAP to deal with the wreckage. The USPAP is revised every two years in order to address business and legal changes.

Using a certified appraiser is always a wise course of action, as they are professionals with both high ethical standards and significant expertise in valuing assets across industries ranging from the automotive, metalworking, plastics and injection molding sectors to video and audio production, forestry, woodworking and more. Services such as collateral valuation, verification and inspection for loans can save manufacturing companies from making ill-advised investments.

For example, a Collateral Verification Inspection Report includes photographs, serial number verifications, owner data verification, and observations on general condition. It may be a rare treat to attend a live auction in these difficult times, but fortunately online auctions have become big business over the past few years.

Online auctions are easy to catalogue, set up, advertise and run, but before any of these steps are taken the auction house commissions an appraisal. For both the auction house and the customer, it makes good business sense to understand the condition and value of the equipment. With the quarantine and

travel bans we have endured over the past few months, it’s a challenge to purchase equipment that can’t be inspected in person under power. Sometimes a video of the machine just isn’t enough.

Today more than ever, retaining a certified equipment appraiser to inspect and value a machine on your behalf is the smart thing to do. For small assignments, an appraiser typically submits a report from three to seven days from inspection, with larger assignments taking up to 14 days. It’s a relatively small period of time that can have a big payoff in terms of savings and security. Using a certified equipment appraiser can help companies save money and avoid expensive mistakes, and this is more important than ever in today’s challenging climate.

COVID-19: Taking Action & Gaining Control in Times of Extreme Crisis

Post: Mar. 18, 2020
By Tony Fareed, Managing Partner of 360accel

Our sense of normalcy is out the window and our lives seem to be changing daily, if not hourly. During times like these, business leaders will rightly turn their focus toward the health and safety of their families, friends, employees, partners, and broader communities.

For those of us who regularly watch the financial news networks, we’ve seen a daily onslaught of increasingly bad news that is impacting nearly every industry and the global economy. Organizations of all types and sizes are scrambling to respond to these unprecedented conditions by implementing business continuity plans.

Senior management teams are doing their best to manage through the unknowns and take appropriate steps to stabilize their businesses. Strong relationships with key partners, customers, bankers, and advisors are proving to be invaluable for many businesses as they work through these tough times.  

Unfortunately, none of us have a crystal ball that provides clarity on important questions:

·       How long will this crisis last?

·       What will the “new normal” be on the other side of the crisis?

·       What short, medium, and long-term impacts will this have on my business?

·       Will we have sufficient cash flow and access to capital to sustain the business during the crisis?  

The good news is that, at some point, COVID-19 will eventually be under control and economic activity will begin to improve. Unfortunately, some businesses may not make it through the crisis, but others will stay afloat by effectively reacting to the changing economic conditions.

Given the environment, some business leaders may be lulled into a “wait-and-see” mode, finding it difficult to do anything beyond reacting to daily pressures. But even in these hectic times, there are certain actions that management teams can efficiently undertake to be better equipped to make tough decisions during the likely treacherous road ahead.

Take Action / Gain Control

As you work to keep your business functioning, allocating time and resources to plan for the journey to the “new normal” may not be on your radar screen. However, prioritizing such a plan can help define likely scenarios and identify new strategies and tactics to mitigate risks and pursue potential opportunities.

Here are five actions you can remotely take with your team to formulate flexible planning, which could help navigate challenges during the coming weeks and months. If you haven’t already subscribed to a video collaboration tool, such as GoToMeeting or Zoom, go sign up!

1.       Define Likely Scenarios (Possibilities, Not Predictions): Use a 4-quadrant scenario analysis technique to define four unique scenarios that can be independently analyzed. Plot a pair of the most relevant uncertainties (one included on a horizontal line, the other on an intersecting vertical line). For example, manufacturers may want to apply low and high ranges for each of these two uncertainties: (1) access to goods, resources, and supply chain and (2) demand for their product(s). Another pair might be (1) access to adequate cash flow and capital and (2) access to a healthy workforce. Try different uncertainties to find the most appropriate pair for your business’ current situation.


2.       Ecosystem Analysis: Drill down on how each of the four scenario quadrants might impact your business and key market participants within your business’ ecosystem, such as suppliers, distributors, end-customers, competitors, lenders, regulators, etc. In addition to identifying potential cash flow related issues, this analysis can highlight areas for bolstered risk mitigation, as well as potential opportunities (e.g., new strategic partnerships, M&A, divestment, new products/services, etc.).


3.       Self-Assess / Team Alignment:  Put together a short 360° business self-assessment (i.e., a list of the most relevant aspects related to your business). Have select team members rank each item using a 3-point scale (e.g., weak/stable/strong) and provide short comments. These assessments (and perhaps more importantly, the team discussions around the assessments) should strengthen team alignment and uncover gaps and ideas that you may not be considering.


4.       Cash Flow Analysis: No doubt you have already started this analysis – consider bolstering what you have already done. Organize and analyze your historical performance and financial data as a basis to build a dynamic financial model with a variety of key variables/drivers that can be changed. This type of modeling tool can be used on an ongoing basis to quickly understand potential quantitative impacts under different scenarios and help you make informed decisions.


5.       Phone Early / Phone Often: Keep in touch with your bankers, customers, partners, advisors, and yes, consider reaching out to your competitors and other market participants. Information and the ability to collaborate with others will be invaluable. 

Time and resources are in short supply, so the analyses and planning don’t need to be overly complex – keep it simple and stay focused on what you are trying to accomplish. While this work won’t change the powerful forces that are out of your control, it should empower you with flexible planning and the ability to make quicker, better informed decisions.  Don’t lose time – leverage your team and start laying the groundwork to take action where you can. 

360accel is a specialized consulting platform with deep capabilities to help organizations anticipate and address risks, build stronger businesses, create value, and prepare for executing transaction/exit processes. Please contact us at

Has Your Company Complied with the October 9, 2019 Sexual Harassment Prevention Training Deadline?

Post: Sep. 19, 2019

By: Joel J. Greenwald, Esq., Greenwald Doherty, LLP, Council of Industry Associate Member

A reminder to all employers in New York State, that in addition to updating sexual harassment prevention policies, New York law now (effective this past October 2018) requires all employees working any portion of their time in New York State to be trained on sexual harassment prevention on an annual basis. The first annual deadline is fast approaching on October 9, 2019.

  • The law mandates that the training contains certain specific elements and content.
  • The training must be “interactive.” The training can be (although is not required to be) live. It can also be administered online, but must involve more than simply watching a training video or reading a document without eliciting feedback or interaction.  To be deemed “interactive,” the training can include questions at the end of sections that the employee must answer correctly, can be conducted in-person or live with the presenter “interacting” with the employee by asking and/or answering questions, and/or provide an opportunity for employee feedback.   
  • The training must contain a definition and explanation of “sexual harassment,” consistent with guidance provided by New York’s state agencies.
  • The training must provide examples of unlawful sexual harassment.
  • The training must include specific information concerning federal and New York statutes on sexual harassment, and the legal remedies available to victims of sexual harassment.
  • The training must provide information concerning employees’ rights and all available forums (courts, agencies, etc.) for adjudicating complaints.
  • The training must contain information regarding responsibilities of supervisors and information on how to address conduct by supervisors.

                  With less than a month left until the October 9th deadline, employers should contact counsel to discuss their options and firm up arrangements for their training if not yet already completed. 

Joel J. Greenwald, Esq., is the managing partner of Greenwald Doherty, LLP, an employment and labor law firm, representing management exclusively, and can be reached at (845) 589-9300 or

 DISCLAIMER:  The foregoing is a summary of the laws discussed above for the purpose of providing a general overview of these laws. These materials are not meant, nor should they be construed, to provide information that is specific to any law(s). The above is not legal advice and you should consult with counsel concerning the applicability of any law to your particular situation.

Tompkins Mahopac Bank Creates Scholarship to Support Students Passionate About Manufacturing

Post: Aug. 28, 2019

From left to right: Diana L. Pollard (executive director of the Dutchess Community College Foundation), Olti Begaj (scholarship recipient) and Amy Greiner (vice president, commercial lending at Tompkins Mahopac Bank)

Deeply rooted in manufacturing and innovation, the Hudson Valley has seen significant advancement in this industry over the years, including local companies developing crucial smart phone technology and other cutting-edge digital assets. With so much growth and development, Tompkins Mahopac Bank realizes the importance of training, attracting and retaining top talent to fill the growing need for manufacturing jobs and to incentivize people to build lives in the Hudson Valley. To paraphrase the famous Field of Dreams quote, “If you build it, they will come.” If the talent is here, the businesses who depend on this talent are more likely to stay and grow. The more businesses that stay, the stronger the county is as a whole.

To help address the critical need for workforce development in the communities it serves, Tompkins created the Make and Accelerate Scholarship to support Hudson Valley students who demonstrate exceptional talent, drive and a love for manufacturing. The scholarship, in its second year, is now awarded by the Dutchess Community College and Westchester Community College foundations to outstanding students in their technical programs and covers $1,000 of tuition fees. This year’s Dutchess Community College (DCC) recipient, Olti Begaj, is an aspiring electrical technician who is on track to graduate with his associate’s degree in May 2020.

“The [Make and Accelerate] Scholarship has paid for my tuition expense, allowing me to focus on my academic pursuits,” said Begaj. “Without [Tompkins Mahopac Bank’s] donation, I wouldn’t be able to achieve the grades necessary to fulfill my professional ambition of becoming an electrical technician.”

At the beginning of this initiative, Tompkins partnered with the Council of Industry on a workforce development initiative called “Go Make It,” a program that encourages people to pursue manufacturing careers in the Hudson Valley. Through the Go Make It video series, Tompkins helps tell the story of young people starting out in their careers. Additionally, the bank partnered with the Mid-Hudson Children’s Museum and generously invested $20,000 in its plans to expand the Poughkeepsie campus to encourage children to explore STEM careers and the manufacturing space.

As a community bank, part of Tompkins’ purpose is to help communities thrive and grow. One way it accomplishes this, is by leveraging its influence and resources to safeguard customers and create stability for the future. The Hudson Valley is a thriving community to live and work in, and Tompkins has stepped up to ensure that young people see the area’s potential and opportunities for long-term careers. With a goal of igniting and inspiring young people to pursue careers in manufacturing, Tompkins Mahopac Bank’s investment in education and experiential learning is building the pipeline of innovative talent for many years to come.

If you’d like to learn more about Tompkins Mahopac Bank or find out how you can be involved visit 

About Tompkins Mahopac Bank:

Tompkins Mahopac Bank, part of Tompkins Financial Corporation, has personalized service, local decision-making and a broad range of services for consumers and businesses. Wealth management services are provided through the offices of Tompkins Financial Advisors. Whether you prefer branch or remote mobile banking, we provide the breadth of services and local decision-making to make what’s possible a reality. Locally Focused. A World of Possibilities. More information is available at

Take Your Manufacturing Company from Mediocre to Championship Performance

Post: Jun. 5, 2019

3 Simple Steps That Will Transform Attitudes, Behavior, and Performance in Your Workplace

By Skip Weisman, Weisman Success Resources, Inc., 

After experiencing my keynote speech on creating championship attitudes, behavior, and performance in the workplace, business leaders often ask me, “How can I get my employees to think less about themselves and more about doing their jobs better?”

The implication in the question is that the strategies they just heard won’t work for them because their industry, company makeup, community, employees (or some other factor) is unique and different and needs a custom approach.

In fact, the current conditions in their work environment are not that unique. Even if they were, the fundamentals of human motivation still pertain.

But I can’t say that.

I do agree with them to a point and explain that it is a complicated question because human beings are so different and the conditions in each work environment that impact team members’ attitudes, behavior and performance can vary.

But, if we can start with the premise that team members want to do a good job and that they want the company to succeed then there is a simple process you can apply that has proven to be transformative for my clients.

All it takes is implementing a simple three step process called “The 3 A’s:” 

Step1: Ask

Ask the magic question, “what’s getting in your way of doing an even better job?

Step2: Absorb

Invest some time to absorb the answers beyond just listening. This means evaluating each for value, validity, and the variance between what you believe to be true about your company’s work environment and the team member’s personal experience.

Step3: Act

Take action by chunking what you absorb into the 4 categories below and respond accordingly to each item on each of the 4 lists.

  • Yes, we can do this and this is when we will do it.
  • We agree it’s a good idea and something we should do, it’s just not the right time. Let’s revisit this in x timeframe (and keep me honest – you have my permission to ask about it again), here are the conditions we have to meet first.
  • Tell me more about this and how you see it working, I need more information to evaluate it (sell me on it!)
  • No, we can’t do it and never will and here’s why (provide a specific business case answer). 

This risk of doing this may be:

  1. Hearing things you won’t like, such as “the problem is you.”
  2. People who pass blame and bring nothing constructive to the situation They will externalize and deflect their role and responsibilities in the issue/item they are presenting.
  3. Bringing things to the surface you’d rather keep down.

Counter arguments:

  1. Isn’t it better to know what people think of you and the company than to have hard feelings and grudges be a drag on workplace productivity and company profits?
  2. People blaming and deflecting responsibility gives you insights that can lead to the conversations that need to take place if you want to turn around attitudes, behavior, and performance. This allows you to dig deeper into the comments, learn the source, and then explore the situation through observable behavior and further inquiry.
  3. Do you want your business to be the Titanic and sink because it didn’t know what was below the surface as it was traveling towards its destination? 

The upside benefit of doing this is:

  1. You will know exactly what your people think, and what they need and want in order to do an even better job for you.
  2. You are building greater feelings of ownership in your team of employees by giving them a stake in the environment in which they spend at least 25% of their life. Human beings are autonomous creatures and will thrive in environments where they feel a sense of control. Giving them the opportunity to contribute to their environment is refreshing, freeing, and engaging.
  3. People will bring profitable high value ideas to the fore that you and your leadership may not see because you’re not closer to the action.

Four Essential Ingredients to Ensure Success:

  1. CONSISTENCY: The process must be done consistently – probably no less than 2x per year, and quarterly is probably best.
  2. CAPTURE & REPORT PROGRESS: Create a system for capturing and categorizing all ideas, report back on ALL the items you heard and their source, and show which of the 4 stages each is at. Create a newsletter or some other medium to send out to all team members so everyone knows what’s happening and what’s being reported on progress.

The better you do this, the sooner you will build trust in the process so that you can get to the real ideas and be able to mine the real diamonds your team members have that can build your company even stronger.

  1. PATIENCE: Be patient with the process, as people will be skeptical at first and will only feel safe sharing things they’re comfortable with. It will take time for people to trust that you’re serious about this. Doing it just one or two times will make it a flavor of the month and good ideas will fall into a black hole, thus setting this process up for failure and rendering any future initiative dead on arrival.
  2. REWARDS: Your team members must be able to participate in the value they bring to the company with their specific ideas. If ideas save money or generate revenue, employees should receive bonuses and rewards related to their specific ideas and contributions.

As your company grows. and profits and income increase, you have to share the wealth to those who have made it possible in ways you never could without their input. Create a bonus system based on increased profitability from the time the program began.

Make the investment with this process and I guarantee you will have the most engaged workforce in your industry and community, and your employees will begin to lose the “us” vs. “them” mindset and you will both feel like you’re actually working together.

What To Do About Millennials & Generation Z in the Manufacturing Workplace

Post: Jan. 29, 2019


By Guest Blogger: Skip Weisman 

I continue to hear complaints from business owners about the younger “millennial” generation in the workplace. I find it comical. I really do.

There are a couple of reasons for this:

1) The “younger” generation has always been a problem in the workplace. Even the more senior/veteran generation in the current workplace was the problem in the workplace when they were the younger generation.

2) This “younger” millennial generation is currently leading some of the largest, most highly valued companies in the world, so they can’t be all bad. I’m talking about people like, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, and:

  • Lyft found John Zimmer, 34
  • Spotify founder Daniel Ek, 35
  • Instagram founder, Mike Krieger, 32
  • WordPress founder, Matthew Mullenweg, 34

Before you give me a hard time that it’s all men in that list, check out this list of 15 female millennial and Generation Z (the generation after the Millennials) entrepreneurs you haven’t heard of yet, but you may very soon.

3) A generation is a very long window of time, between 15-20 years. As I have posited to my audiences in my seminars on this topic, “do you think an older Millennial at 35 years of age, has the same needs, desires, and interests as a 21 year old Millennial?” They all agree the answer is “no.”

My point is that there are good and bad people in every generation, there are wide variances in needs, desires, and interests across the timeline of people in each generation. It’s time to stop blasting an entire generation.

Do those in the Millennial generation and Generation Z have different attitudes, habits, work ethics, and interests than those in the older generation? Absolutely! 

Is the younger generation growing up without an interest in working with their hands beyond typing on a keyboard or using their thumbs to communicate? Absolutely!

Is this going to make it harder for manufacturing companies to find qualified, skilled, and already trained workers to step into roles? Absolutely!

Just like every younger generation always has different quirks than the older generation. 

Yes, it may be more acute than ever for manufacturers and other trade industries because of the dearth in fundamental skills required in those work environments, but it’s not impossible to overcome.

It starts with a mindset shift on the part of the leaders of the manufacturing firms. Instead of expecting ready made machinists, welders, and others needed in a manufacturing process, it may require an expectation of finding those who want an opportunity to learn a trade and invest in them first.

This may have some advantages:

  • They come with little or no bad habits in doing your type of work.
  • You can mold them to be what you need them to be and teach them your way from the beginning.
  • They become pretty loyal since you and those at your company gave them a chance and became their mentor.

Every generation comes into the work environment with some deficiencies that cause challenges for those in charge and need to get things done. It’s just our turn now to be on that side.

Some may remember that back in the 1950s and early 60s when the older generation was thinking Elvis Presley and the Beatles were undermining society?

At the beginning of the 1970s the flower children of the late 60s came into the workforce with an attitude to “not trust anyone over 30.”

Not long after I started my small business coaching and consulting,  about 10 years ago, I had a client who complained to me about the work ethic and the focus of his Gen Y employees.

His complaint was that they weren’t motivated enough for advancement. They were too complacent and comfortable and only wanted to focus on their personal life and family. They weren’t ambitious enough for him.

Now, this generation, for some, is too ambitious. They have an “entitlement” mentality, think they know it all and should be advancing before they’re ready.*

You can’t have it both ways.  And, I will argue you should want more of the latter and less of the former. They’re easier to mold and coach to become what they want and what you may need.

I say embrace that latter mentality and use it to your company’s advantage.

Every one of my clients has at least one young millennial who is a superstar at their company, pushing older generation folks to get better, faster, up to speed on technology.

I think that’s a good thing.

Maybe the problem isn’t the younger generation in the workforce but the older generation doing the hiring.

And, remember, if you’re still worried about the Millennial generation in the workplace, it’s too late. You better start learning about Generation Z, which is already starting to infiltrate the workplace.  

*(SIDE NOTE: You may also have the alternative “entitlement” mentality. That’s the other end of the generation scale with veteran employees who expect to have their job and their salary increases without improving their skills, keeping up with technology, not expecting to have to bring any additional value to the company as they wait for the calendar to turn the page to retirement.)

Create Your Championship Company Culture By Modeling a World Series Champion

Post: Jan. 10, 2019


By Guest Blogger Skip Weisman

You would think that creating a championship culture is easy with athletes making multi-millions of dollars each season.

But, in my experience, it is just as hard creating a championship culture in that environment as it is creating it in a small manufacturing company.

Baseball managers have to deal with players that show up with attitudes, behaviors and performance similar to your employees.

I know that’s hard to believe but they have to deal with athletes with…

  • inflated egos,
  • an inability to take feedback and coaching,
  • closed minds to changing how they are doing things because they’ve had a lot of success doing it their way for a long time,  not believing their way will not get their performance to the next level.
  • an attitude focusing more on the position they are asked to play, or their playing time, rather than what is best for the team overall.

All of those issues are just like the complaints I hear from the small business owners and CEOs I speak with. 

Does any of that sound familiar?

If so, you may want to take an approach like Alex Cora used during this baseball World Series championship season for the Boston Red Sox.

First-year manager Alex Cora created a unique culture among his team and led his team to victory in five games over the Los Angeles Dodgers.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the Red Sox beat the Dodgers when you consider that in the midst of the team’s playoff run one of Los Angeles’ key players, Manny Muchado, was quoted as saying, “I’m not the type of player that’s going to be ‘Johnny Hustle’ and run down the line, that’s not my personality, it’s not who I am.”

I’m not sure Muchado would have fit with the Red Sox culture that Cora created.

You don’t win a record 108 games during a 162 game season for a .667 winning percentage, among the best in the history of Major League Baseball, as Cora’s Red Sox did in 2018 with players who have that type of “personality.”

Your company, regardless of the industry its in, be it manufacturing, banking, law, accounting, or any other service company with employees with attitudes like that.

Cora’s was a simple approach.

He treated each of his team members like a human being and not an object, that was simply a means to an end goal.  

That may seem like an obvious strategy, yet I’ve seen too many business leaders do the latter and not the former. As a matter of fact a recent client, the owner of a 20-employee construction restoration company told me, “Skip the biggest thing I’ve come to realize in my six weeks of working with you is that I’ve been objectifying people. I’ve been seeing my employees solely as objects to help me achieve my goals.”

Here are two examples of Cora’s championship culture building approach:

  1. After losing Game #3 of the World Series in a record 18-innings over seven hours… “Cora walked into the clubhouse and called everyone together. He looked at each one of them and said he was grateful for their effort and proud to be part of their team.” “It was emotional,” shortstop Xander Bogaerts said. “By the end of it, we felt like we won the game.” (, Tim McKeown, Oct. 29, 2018)
  2. “Asked whether he ever gets angry with his players — in other words: Is your calm exterior an elaborate lie? — he said, “No, I don’t. I talk to them. If I have something to tell them, I just sit with them. Casual, very casual. I try to have good conversations.” (, Tim McKeown, Oct. 29, 2018)

It’s not rocket science, it’s human science. It all comes down to good championship caliber communication. Which is always prompt, direct, and respectful. It sounds easy, and it’s not. If it were you’d be getting championship performance at your company.

You can create a Championship Company Culture just like Alex Cora did with his Boston Red Sox. All you need is your own game plan and a commitment to championship caliber communication.

Easier said than done, I know. A good place to start is simply looking at your company work environment as if it were an athletic team. If it were, which of the four categories would you place it in:

  • Losing
  • Winning
  • Playoff
  • Champion

In 2017 the Red Sox were a playoff team. They lost in the first round of the playoffs. They changed managers.

The new manager changed the culture and became a champion.

Are you the manager who can create your own championship company culture that will achieve high-performance results like Alex Cora?

If so, where would you start?

Here are two questions you can use to evaluate the best place to start:

  • What is happening in your workplace that MUST stop happening?
  • What is NOT happening in your workplace that MUST start happening?

Your answers will identify things you’ve been tolerating in your work environment that have been preventing your team members from doing an even better job. Start cleaning up those and you’ll be on your way to creating your championship company culture like Alex Cora and the Red Sox.


About the Author:

Skip Weisman is a professional keynote speaker, author, business coach and consultant working with business owners, CEOs, executive teams, and non-profit organization leaders, PLUS their employees to create Championship Company Cultures.

Skip served as President & CEO of the Hudson Valley Renegades between 1994-2001 and was instrumental in relocating the Renegades from Erie, Pennsylvania bringing professional baseball to the region in 1994.

Skip served as CEO of 5 baseball franchises beginning at age 26. Skip’s teams were affiliated with the Boston Red Sox, Cincinnati Reds, New York Mets, Seattle Mariners, Tampa Bay Ray, and Texas Rangers. Over his last eight years in baseball

Skip has been with small businesses since baseball in 2002 and has worked with members of the Council of Industry and others in the manufacturing, insurance, banking, accounting and other technical business services companies, including Micromold Products, Inc., Empire State Bank, Hudson-Greene Federal Credit Union, Ulster Insurance, and RBT CPAs.

To learn more about Skip visit, or email him at .


How to Attract Veterans

Post: Dec. 14, 2018


By Guest Blogger Michaela Ryan 

Did you know that jobs are searchable by MOS codes? MOS codes are a specific code used in the military that identify a particular job. Each MOS code has its own job description. Active members and veterans typically know their MOS code like the back of their hand. Therefore, when a veteran is searching for a civilian job, they know that they have the qualified skills and experience if it aligns with their MOS code. This information is being implemented into various recruitment strategies when trying to attract veterans for job openings.      

Finding information on this is simple. When you search “MOS code job search” in Google, MOS translators for civilian jobs are the first links to pop up. For example, MOS code 44E is the code for a Machinist in the Army. A veteran could type “44E” into the MOS translator and it would present a list of job openings that align with their background as a machinist in the Army. It allows veterans to use their gained experiences and skills from the military and put those skills and experiences to use in civilian jobs. Recruiters can implement MOS code compatibility into their recruitment process by providing applicable MOS codes in their job postings. Multiple MOS codes can align with a single job. You can also find a list of MOS codes categorized by military branch, for example an Army MOS code list and a Marine MOS code list can be found here. There are numerous resources online when trying  to figure out which MOS codes could apply to your job openings. This can help veterans find jobs faster that align with their prior experience and it can help you find qualified candidates by reaching a new market. This could open new doors for access to skilled candidates!

The Council of Industry has started matching the jobs in our Recruiting Initiative to their corresponding MOS codes. As the Council of Industry works with Manufacturing Companies throughout the Hudson Valley, many of the skills and required experience needed for these types of jobs closely aligns with those of veterans. All of the applicable jobs will have a list of corresponding MOS code(s) implemented into the job description/posting. This will allow veterans to know that they qualify for that particular job and it will also make the job searchable by MOS code. Anyone can go to our website (Link Here) and search an MOS code and all applicable jobs will appear for candidates to easily apply. Our hope is to reach a broader candidate base for our members, as well as, assist veterans in their job search.           

Making MOS codes searchable with job openings is a new opportunity for recruiters to attract veterans. By implementing this into your recruiting process, you can increase your likelihood of finding the quality candidate you’ve been looking for. Many companies have already started to implement this into their recruitment process and there are a variety of tools readily available to assist in the implementation of this process. If you would like to attract veterans or find a new market of candidates during your recruitment process, this could be what you are looking for.

*If you’re a veteran looking for a career in manufacturing search your MOS code here, by typing your MOS code into the search bar.*


A Quick Overview of the New Section 199A – 20% Deduction

Post: Dec. 6, 2018

By Steven E. Howell, CPA, DABFA – Client Service Partner, and Davide DiGenova, CPA – Tax Partner
RBT CPAs, LLP, a Council of Industry Associate Member

“A provision of the TCJA might benefit Council of Industry member firms organized as pass through entities.  This provision “199A,” provides for a deduction of as much as 20% for business activates conducted by these firms.”

On December 22, 2017, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) was signed into law by the President of the United States.  Many of these tax law changes will apply to individual and business taxpayers commencing with their 2018 federal income tax filings.  One of the key provisions of the TCJA provides the ability for taxpayers to receive a deduction for Qualified Business Income, which for simplicity purposes can be referred to as “net income”, generated by a trade or business that is conducted within a partnership, S corporation, or sole proprietorship. One might refer to this deduction as the 20% deduction or, more technically, the 199A deduction. 

The amount of the 20% deduction allowed will be based on the taxpayer’s individual taxable income less income which has a preferred federal tax rate such as preferred dividends.  This amount will be referred to as “adjusted taxable income”.  The 20% deduction allowed in a given year will be limited to the lesser of 20% of the adjusted taxable income or 20% of the qualified business income that flows through to the taxpayer.

Determining whether a taxpayer will qualify for the 20% deduction and to what extent this deduction will be allowed is more complicated than its name may suggest.  In order to understand this 20% deduction, one must first understand what types of businesses and income thresholds will disqualify a taxpayer from taking this deduction.  The first threshold that must be reviewed is whether the trade or business being conducted is considered a specified service trade or business (SSTB) or if such trade or business is a business of providing services as an employee (generally, referred to as changing from an employee to an independent contractor in order to benefit from this deduction when the taxpayer is truly an employee).  A SSTB is any trade or business involving the performance of services in the fields of health, law, accounting, actuarial science, performing arts, consulting, athletics, financial or brokerage services, investing and investment management, trading, dealing in securities, and where the principal asset is the reputation or skill of one or more employees or owners (generally referred to as an endorsement).  The second threshold that must be met is that the trade or business being operated is conducted within a partnership, S corporation, or sole proprietorship.  This deduction will not apply to trades or business conducted within a C corporation.  The third threshold is whether taxable income exceeds $157,500 for a single income tax filer ($315,000 married filing joint). 

Once the three basic thresholds have been analyzed, one can begin to determine the amount of the 20% deduction that will be allowed.  If a taxpayer conducts a trade or business which generates net income and a taxpayer’s taxable income does not exceed $157,500 ($315,000 married filing joint), regardless as to whether such trade or business is a SSTB, the taxpayer will be allowed a 20% deduction for that specific trade or business.

If a taxpayer’s taxable income exceeds the $157,500 ($315,000 married filing joint) but doesn’t exceed $207,500 ($415,000 married filing joint), then there needs to be an analysis done as to the type of trade or business that the taxpayer is operating.  A taxpayer who operates a SSTB and exceeds the lower threshold but not the higher threshold, will begin to lose the 20% deduction based on an income limitation and a wage limitation phase-in.  If the taxpayer doesn’t operate a SSTB, the 20% deduction will be reduced by a wage limitation phase-in only. 

When a taxpayer’s taxable income exceeds the $207,500 ($415,000 married filing joint), the taxpayer will be disqualified from taking a 20% deduction on the net income generated by a specific trade or business that is considered a SSTB.  However, if a taxpayer doesn’t operate a SSTB, the 20% deduction will equal the lesser of 20% of the net income generated by the trade or business or the greater of 50% of wages paid by the trade or business or 25% of wages paid plus 2.5% of the unadjusted basis of assets held by the trade or business (excluding land).

As was mentioned earlier, the 20% deduction is a complex area of the TCJA.  It would be worthwhile to consult with your tax advisor as to whether you will qualify for this deduction.  The Internal Revenue Service issued proposed regulations during mid-August of 2018 which has provided additional guidance and has answered many questions for tax practitioners, but there are still areas which need additional clarification. 

State $hortfalls shrinking

Post: Dec. 5, 2018

By E.J. McMahon,  Founder and Research Director, The Empire Center for Public Policy

New York State’s budget outlook for fiscal 2020 is improving, according to the FY 2019 Mid-Year Update issued today by Governor Cuomo’s Division of the Budget (DOB).

The Mid-Year Update—released 10 days past the Oct. 30 statutory deadline—pegs the budget gap at $3.070 billion for the fiscal year that starts next April 1. That’s down from $4.027 billion as of the end of the first fiscal quarter.

Assuming Cuomo sticks by his pledge to hold annual State Operating Funds budget growth to 2 percent, the state’s projected net revenue shortfall has been cut nearly in half, to $402 million from the previously projected $780 million. And if the 2 percent limit is maintained through FY 2022, the remaining gaps for the following two years would fall to $998 million and $316 million, respectively.

The significant partial gap-closing since the First Quarter Update can be traced primarily to two factors: a $303 million increase in projected miscellaneous receipts and federal grants, and a $579 million decrease in projected disbursements, which in turn stems mainly from reduction in projected debt service.

Notably, DOB hasn’t changed any of its first-quarter projections of state tax receipts—although state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli’s office this week estimated that taxes will fall short of Cuomo’s previous projections by $116 million in fiscal 2019 and $383 million in fiscal 2020. If DiNapoli turns out to be correct, the gaps will be larger than Cuomo now expects.

An embarrassment of riches

The new numbers cast more doubt on the need to fully extend the state’s temporary higher “millionaire tax” rate, which now raises about $4.5 billion a year.

That tax, boosting the state’s top personal income tax rate from its permanent-law level of 6.85 percent to 8.82 percent, is Cuomo’s twice-extended version of a slightly higher set of temporary surtaxes first enacted under Governor David Paterson to help close budget shortfalls in 2009-10.

The Mid-Year Update, like all DOB financial plans, assumes no change to current state law—which would mean the higher millionaire tax rate expires as scheduled on Dec. 31, 2019, three-quarters of the way through the 2020 fiscal year.

Based on current revenues, this means the gaps projected on the “Adherence to 2% Spending Benchmark” bottom line of the financial plan could be closed with extended millionaire tax rates of roughly 7 percent to 7.5 percent through Dec. 31, 2021. The natural next step in such a phase-down would be to eliminate the tax entirely and revert to the permanent law top rate of 6.85 percent in 2022.

Balancing the budget with no millionaire tax after 2019 would require holding spending growth to 1.6 percent in FY 2020, and slightly below 2 percent in the following two years.

The only way Cuomo could actually spend the entire $4.5 billion raised by the millionaire tax would be to (a) invent a new category of off-budget disbursement, or (b) cut some other tax. In previous years, he’s chosen “b”—other temporary tax cuts, most recently in the form of a temporary “property tax relief credit.”

Then again, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, Assembly Democrats, and—last but not least—leading members of the newly elected state Senate Democratic Majority favor raising the millionaire tax even higher, in part to to generate more money for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and city subways.

Proponents of boosting the millionaire tax ignore the impact of the new federal tax law capping state and local tax (SALT) deductions, which has boosted New York’s effective marginal income tax rate to an all-time high.

Cuomo’s next financial update is due with the first Executive Budget of his third term, next February 1. In the meantime, he’s approaching another deadline that he has gotten into the habit of casually ignoring: Nov. 15, when representatives of the governor, comptroller and legislative leaders are required to meet publicly “for the purpose of jointly reviewing available financial information to facilitate timely adoption of a budget for the next fiscal year.”

Eric Armenat and Mike McQueeney on Corporate Turnarounds

Post: Nov. 8, 2018


By Guest Bloggers Noa Simons and Luke Stangel, Upstate Capital Association of New York 

Eric Armenat spent decades building a successful career in aerospace manufacturing before he began embarking on corporate turnarounds. After successfully turning around a family-run healthcare business, Armenat took on a large-scale incineration with a dysfunctional management team before landing in his current role as President and CEO of Buffalo-based Multisorb, a leading manufacturer of oxygen and moisture absorption products.

When he started at Multisorb, Eric found a long-running company that was well regarded by customers, despite its high costs and 8-week lead time on orders. From the outside, the company seemed stable, but behind the scenes, Multisorb was struggling financially, with a management team that insisted on building manufacturing plants in Alabama and the U.K., with plans to build a new facility in India.

That didn’t make sense to Armenat, who halted the company’s expansion plans and closed its ancillary plants, focusing instead on improving its manufacturing base in Buffalo.  Within a year, Multisorb trimmed its global workforce from 678 to 470 people, while simultaneously growing its revenue by $14 million, Armenat says. He’s inspired by Amazon’s warehouse operations, which he called a “leaned out, wire-tight, cost-effective process.”

“What’s the gap? What’s preventing you from flowing information, or flowing a production process, so it doesn’t stop from the time it starts to the time it ends?” Armenat says. The company studied “how long it took at each step and why it took so long. So what we’re working on now is a three-day order cycle. If you call today, I’ll get it on my machines later today, and have it on that dock and ready to go on the third day. That’s the vision, and now you work on everything preventing you from achieving that.”

Summer Street Capital brought Eric into the business along with a private equity investment. Mike McQueeney, Managing Partner, shares that Summer Street’s hands-on approach to corporate turnarounds is somewhat unique among its peers, some of whom have earned a reputation for improving a company’s bottom line by slashing budgets and cutting headcount.

“We don’t want to do business with everybody,” McQueeney says. “We’ve learned this over time. There are people who want help and people who don’t want help. People who are open to learning and improving their businesses? Then that’s a great fit. But management teams that give us the Heisman [block]? Not a good fit for us.

“Having a cooperative partnership, which is what we have most of the time, is a great fit for us.”

Both Eric and Mike will talk about their experiences turning companies around on November 15 in Buffalo, NY at Upstate Capital’s “Under the Hood” event.  Everyone is welcome to attend to learn more and network with investors and business leaders across Upstate New York.

Tomorrow’s Technology and Skill Sets: A Perpetual State of Flux

Post: Oct. 25, 2018

By Guest Blogger Elisha Tropper

The World Economic Forum recently released their Future of Jobs 2018 report which simultaneously hailed and warned about the imminence of what it refers to as the Fourth Industrial Revolution.  This revolution refers to the technological advancement across all aspects of society that will substantially disrupt the labor requirements and, by extension, the workforce and its livelihoods, across all industries. The disruption, according to the study, will ultimately net a positive number of new jobs, but will “entail difficult transitions for millions of workers and the need for proactive investment in developing a new surge of agile learners and skilled talent globally.”

Regardless of which sector of the economy you occupy, it is crystal clear that automation is no longer an option. It must be an essential focus of every single business, from manufacturing and medicine to accounting and transportation. Like transformative implementable philosophies such as Lean Manufacturing and Continuous Improvement, the effective design and execution of automated solutions in any organization can only result from a forward-thinking, company-wide cultural shift. As the WEF study so pointedly observes, the rise in robotics and automation will eliminate human tasks, not jobs.

“As has been the case throughout economic history, such augmentation of existing jobs through technology is expected to create wholly new tasks—from app development to piloting drones to remotely monitoring patient health to certified care workers—opening up opportunities for an entirely new range of livelihoods for workers.”  In other words, employees need not fear for their jobs per se; they need to understand that flexibility and continuous training for new tasks will be the new norm – if it’s not already.

For businesses, the challenge is to strike the balance between maximizing current output, investing in new technologies, and preparing its workforce for a future that will require different skill sets and knowledge bases.  Just as machine operators incrementally replaced manual laborers along the production line, so too will the developers, programmers, builders, and installers of smart technologies replace the current machine operators.  The fact is that the implementation of new technologies drives business growth AND both job creation and the altering of existing positions, but only if the business can provide the proper vision and new-skills-based-training to a motivated and adaptable workforce.

Most companies will face significant challenges as they pursue a new equilibrium. It is inevitable that skill gaps and the disruption they carry will emerge at all levels, from the boardroom to the factory floor.  These skill gaps will have the potential to wreak havoc across companies, workforces, and even entire communities.  It is up to the management of every company to anticipate what is coming, embrace its imminence, and develop transformation plans that encompass solutions at both the process and people level.  The successful companies of the future are those who recognize today the requirements of tomorrow, all the while understanding that both technologies and skill sets are permanently in a perpetual state of flux.

Elisha Tropper is the CEO of Cambridge Security Seals, a Pomona, New York-based manufacturer of tamper-evident security devices.

A Value Proposition with an Altruistic Twist

Post: Sep. 19, 2018


By Guest Blogger Stephen Casa 

Last month I wrote about the incredible opportunity businesses have to find and cultivate talent, by partnering with a local BOCES. This month I’d love to tell you what happens at one and how you can benefit. I’ll use Ulster BOCES as an example.

Ulster BOCES provides cost effective solutions to eight component school districts by offering programming for students and adults, professional development for educators, and much more. There are close to thirty, industry specific, programs offered at the Career & Technical Center, Hudson Valley Pathways Academy and Special Education Center.

Instructors and staff in these programs are highly skilled in that area, in fact, many come directly from industry with many still actively engaged. Students are given the opportunity to learn and be trained on the most current and innovative technology using industry vetted curriculum. Students are also offered authentic experiences in the local workforce such as field trips, guest speakers, job shadowing, mentoring, internships, etc. These are all managed by a workplace learning coordinator. Ulster BOCES collaborates with the county workforce development office to ensure our future workforce has the soft skills necessary to be successful in the workplace.

As you can see, a partnership with your local BOCES can be a cost effective, value add for your company.   

In 1948, the New York State legislature created Boards of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) to provide shared educational programs and services to school districts within the state. Today there are 37 BOCES that are partnering with nearly all of the state’s school districts to help meet students’ evolving educational needs through cost-effective and relevant programs. Learn more and find a BOCES program near you here.

     Stephen Casa
     Workplace Learning Coordinator
     Ulster BOCES

There’s Gold in the Hills of the Hudson Valley

Post: Jul. 31, 2018

How Partnering with Education Institutions can Help Identify your Future Workforce

By Guest Blogger Stephen Casa

As I travel around the Hudson Valley meeting with various leaders in industry, I hear the same concern, “We can’t find enough qualified employees to fill the positions that are being left vacant by retirement, innovation, etc.” This is where a value added strategy can benefit employers: developing collaborative partnerships with education.

The value proposition is simple, participate with an educational institution in one of the following ways: content area consulting, curriculum development, field trip provision, guest speaking, mentoring students, job shadowing, providing externship opportunities for educators, providing internships (compensated and non-compensated) for students who demonstrate readiness, sit on advisory boards, etc. All of these opportunities will allow the education institution to provide you with a glimpse of your potential workforce and it will create an opportunity for young people to learn about your business/industry. They will also be trained in your culture. Often these partnerships lead to long term employment, initially they get you what you need, prepared, employable, entry level employees.

Don’t hesitate to act, contact your local BOCES today and ask how you can be a part of the solution.

Stay connected as I will be contributing regularly with more specific instructions for engagement.

How Construction Points to a Strong Hudson Valley Economy

Post: Jul. 12, 2018

By Guest Blogger Amy Greiner

Good news! Economic activity in the lower Hudson Valley continues to flourish and move solidly forward. New multi-family buildings, medical, biotechnology and healthcare projects remain as the primary market-drivers, helping the spur a rate of construction in the region that’s not only out-pacing other industries, but also affecting them.

A look at multi-family construction projects shows they’re focused mainly in commuter transit centers in towns such as Yonkers, New Rochelle, White Plains, Tarrytown, Portchester, Beacon and Poughkeepsie. Other expansive residential projects include Sleepy Hollow’s Edge-On-Hudson development in Westchester County, which is transforming the former GM manufacturing site into a residential community, including a proposed 1,177 units of condominiums, townhouses and apartments; a 140-room hotel; 135,000-square-feet of retail space and 35,000-square-feet of office space. The $1 billion, multi-phase development broke ground in May 2016, and, with most of the site and infrastructure completed, the initial phase of building construction is expected to begin shortly.

As well, large and small medical/healthcare/biotechnology projects are happening throughout the region, including Dutchess County’s new 752,000-square-foot, $545-million patient pavilion on eight floors that currently is underway at the Vassar Brothers Medical Center campus in Poughkeepsie.

There’s more good news. Construction isn’t the only industry on the rise. The region’s housing market is on the upswing, too, with sale prices up and inventory levels, down. Additionally, the jobs market remains strong, with the Dutchess-Putnam unemployment rate of 3.6 percent in May 2018 dropping .5 percent from the 4.1 percent it held in May 2017, and the Westchester unemployment rate down to 3.8 percent from the 4.3 percent it hit in the same period.

The construction of multi-family living spaces and health centers, as well as the strong housing market and decreased unemployment rates not only show that the Hudson Valley is performing economically, but also that the region continues to offer a prime quality of life for young professionals, families and seniors.

Amy Greiner is vice president, business development officer, of Tompkins Mahopac Bank, and a member of the Council of Industry’s Workforce Advisory Committee.

The Value of a Manufacturing 101 Education

Post: Jul. 10, 2018

By Guest Blogger Elisha Tropper

As manufacturers across America seek to recruit a higher-skilled workforce, the messaging to those entering the job market typically runs something along the lines of “this is not your father’s manufacturing anymore.” Certainly, this is accurate, as modern manufacturing no longer stresses the dark and dirty repetitive manual activities along Henry Ford-style production lines but substantially revolves around designing, engineering, implementing, and continuously improving the advancing automation, robotics, and interconnectivity that are its defining features. Across the country, manufacturers and politicians have stressed the need for trade schools and apprenticeship programs to facilitate the education and skills development of those who wish to pursue a career in manufacturing.

However, the industry would do itself a bigger service by introducing manufacturing education earlier and more frequently throughout the educational paths trod by its desired workers, from middle school birds-eye surveys to more detailed high-school and college level courses. Effectively educating the workers of tomorrow about manufacturing prior to their selection of career fields would certainly impact their decisions and grow the pool of potential manufacturing professionals. As important, mainstreaming a substantial overview and understanding of modern manufacturing to those who will ultimately pursue other careers will benefit not only the students but the industry itself.

It is not stretch to state that having a decent understanding of manufacturing is essential for success in many non-manufacturing business and related fields. For example, private equity and venture capital professionals, stock portfolio managers, business reporters, and those who trade or advise on investments in manufacturing companies or industries are far better equipped to effectively analyze their subjects with even a basic understanding of the field. Accountants, lawyers, government workers, and other professions which service the sector would certainly benefit from knowing the fundamentals of manufacturing. And obviously, even a most basic 101-type education would serve any student considering a career in a manufacturing-related field such as:

  • math or the physical sciences (engineering, research, chemistry, etc.)
  • computers (programming, data management, etc.)
  • business (logistics, supply chain management, entrepreneurship, etc.)
  • social sciences (economics, urban planning, industrial psychology, etc.)

The manufacturing sector would itself reap significant rewards from these educational activities. Most obviously, providing an effective introduction of the industry to students at an early stage and continued reinforcement throughout their educational journey will inevitably result in a greater number of students electing to pursue a career in manufacturing. And perhaps of equal significance, even those students who choose other fields will better understand manufacturing, its challenges and issues, and its importance to society. A generation of Americans with such an education would certainly provide improved professional support to the industry and more consistent manufacturing-friendly public policy.

Elisha Tropper is the CEO of Cambridge Security Seals, a Pomona, New York-based manufacturer of tamper-evident security devices.