April 16, 2024
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New Jersey Jewish Business Alliance Resumes Annual Forums

About 65 Jewish business owners finally got to get together to schmooze, share a meal and learn from a panel of experts at the annual forum of the New Jersey Jewish Business Alliance. The March 9 meeting at St. Peter’s University in Jersey City marked the first such gathering since March 4, 2020.

Executive Director David Rosenberg found the timing of the two events to be somewhat ironic since the last meeting was held the same day the first person tested positive for COVID-19 in New Jersey. The shutdown of most normal businesses would come a week later.

“We ended with the start of the pandemic and now we’re restarting with the end of the pandemic,” he told The Jewish Link.

The forum focused on “How to Properly Structure Your Family Business to Succeed in the Modern Era” by meeting current standards of compliance, bringing in the next generation, formulating an exit strategy and mergers and acquisitions.

Rosenberg said that “this year we have great panelists and we are very glad for the opportunity to be together to learn how to run a business properly.” That upbeat attitude was shared by colleagues who hadn’t been able to network with others since life was put on hold by the pandemic.

“In a time of uncertainty businesses need guidance,” said Sheon Karol, managing director of Hilco Corporate Finance in Manhattan. “Most professionals push a particular service rather than looking at what is best for the client. Organizations such as the Jewish Business Alliance provide business owners with the opportunity to become aware of their options.”

Chesky Weinberger and Mendy Oppenheim, vice presidents at Topaz HR Advisory in East Orange, attended because the forum offers valuable topics for small business owners. “Planning and communication are critical,” said Weinberger, while Oppenheim added, “In order to be successful you need to be around smart people who have been there in order to learn from them.”

Ira Robbins, CEO of Valley National Bank and a keynote speaker and panelist, noted technology had caused a shift in the external environment. “I’m thinking you’re all here today to transform your business perspective,” he said.

Ilan Kaufthal, vice chair of Stonecourt Capital and another keynote speaker and panelist, advised developing a personal relationship in business.

Jacob I. Rosenberg, the founder and partner at Bernath Rosenberg in Manhattan, said the biggest concern among family businesses is uncertainty as the pandemic winds down and effects of the Russian invasion of Ukraine remains unclear.

Yet companies can retool and use the example of Meest-America Inc., a freight delivery service in Port Reading that specializes in shipping goods to Ukraine and other Eastern European countries, including Russia. The company ceased shipping to Belarus and Russia, and with much of its parcel delivery service gone, it pivoted to become one of the largest hubs for delivering emergency medical supplies and such necessities as diapers to Ukraine, said Rosenberg.

Avi D. Kelin of Genova Burns in Newark stressed the importance of estate planning, and in the face of changing government regulations, having a line of succession in place for running the business.

Allan C. Bell of Newark-based Sills Cummis and Gross spoke about estate taxes and proper preparation to leave the affairs of a business in order for the next generation.

By Debra Rubin

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