Harold DeLucia knows plenty about business.
It’s how the New York City public school teacher founded the most successful Christmas tree delivery service in the city before launching The Farmacy NYC, a program that is bringing healthy food options to the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood.
DeLucia also knows there’s plenty he doesn’t know.
DeLucia, one of five finalists who gave a pitch to six M&T and Jets executives in a “Shark Tank”-like event Thursday night at the Jets’ facility in Florham Park, came away as the winner.
In doing so, he’ll collect a $100,000 sponsorship as well as advice and mentorship from members of both organizations.
DeLucia said you can’t put a price on that type of help.
“They have the blueprint for success,” he said. “Working with these organizations could put us to a different level that we couldn’t do on our own.
“We’re seeing organic growth, but this would help us reach unprecedented levels.”
It also will help The Farmacy NYC get more recognition.
The 2018 sponsorship includes stadium signage for all Jets home games, commercial units in Jets gameday radio broadcasts on 98.7 ESPN, an opportunity to have an on-site presence at Jets Training Camp presented by M&T Bank, an opportunity to have an on-site presence at a Jets home game, and a luxury suite at a home game.
The organizations dreamed up the event while finalizing their partnership last year.
Both groups feel they benefit as much as the finalists.
Eric Feldstein, senior vice president and head of business banking at M&T, said the event fits with the mission of the bank.
“M&T Bank is a community bank that was formed over 160 years ago with the idea of serving the community,” he said. “There is nothing more important to us than to see small businesses in New Jersey grow and prosper.
“I couldn’t be happier to be partnering with the Jets, supporting small businesses, providing advice and finding someone who we feel we can help propel their growth. At the same time, allowing for more job creation in New Jersey.”
Jets President Neil Glat said the showcase fits into the Jets’ efforts to serve the communities that make up their fan base.
“We’re always looking to give back to the community,” he said. “We’re doing a lot of things, whether it’s anti-bullying in schools, youth football initiatives or research in the medical fields.
“Something like this was an idea that came out of working with our partner M&T. They are a community, and we like to do things in the community, and the opportunity to get involved in making some additional resources and assets available to a smaller company who might not have that reach yet — we thought it was a perfect fit for us.”
The showcase had only two requirements for applicants: They needed to be an emerging small business — and the business needed to be doing something that was giving back to the community.
Feldstein said the community connection was key.
“We understand the challenge and the sacrifice a small-business owner needs to make when they’re growing from the ground up,” he said. “But to see small business owners who are not only growing and sacrificing themselves, but at the same time giving back to the community, is inspiring and reflective of the culture of M&T Bank.
“We value giving back. In fact, we have a program where every M&T employee is encouraged to spend 40 hours on the company’s time to go out and do something for their communities.”
All five finalists certainly filled that requirement:
- Bertone Piccini LLP: The woman-owned law firm in Hasbrouck Heights features attorneys who perform pro bono work and are involved in numerous community outreach programs, such as the Wounded Warrior Project, St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, Eva’s Kitchen in Paterson, Oasis-A Haven for Women and Children in Paterson, PETA and the Cooley’s Anemia Foundation. Many attorneys serve on the boards of nonprofits in the area.
- Salty’s Enterprises LLC: The Shore-based family-owned and -operated fishing and tourism business is looking to develop its seafood gleaning program and feed local communities. The business partnered with two of the nation’s largest fishing communities to provide seafood at no cost to local pantries and food banks.
- Step Right Up Studio: This Madison-based business is based on providing creative arts for special needs children. It offers classes in improv for social skills, musical theater, yoga, creative writing, voiceovers, stand-up comedy and more for kids of all strengths and abilities. Their business caters to children with ADD, ADHD, high-functioning autism, Asperger’s, sensory processing disorder, executive functioning disorder, as well as other social disorders, and helps them reach their potential.
- Student Coaching Services: The Woodbridge-based business believes in a holistic approach to tutoring and “Academic Life Coaching.” The educators often offer free seminars, consultations and diagnostic assessments. They are looking to start a fully nonprofit arm of the company, the mission of which would be to reach students in underserved communities.
Then there’s DeLucia. He set up The Farmacy NYC with one goal: Bringing fresh and healthy food options to those in the inner-city who may not have access to such produce.
The Farmacy NYC offers fresh farm produce from local family-owned and -operated farms to New Yorkers seven days a week, through both its Hell’s Kitchen retail store as well as its Harvest to Home online same-day delivery.
DeLucia gives back in other ways, too
The company donates all unsold produce to local food pantries and soup kitchens in Hell’s Kitchen and Midtown, while also partnering with the New York City Department of Education to put on “Farm to Fork” school lessons and provide free field trips.
DeLucia feels winning the event will help him help many more.
“This is unbelievable,” he said.
“It is life-changing to be able to work with organizations like the New York Jets and M&T Bank to take The Farmacy to the next level and offer tens of thousands of more New Yorkers farm-fresh produce by the click of a mouse.”
Both M&T and the Jets said they plan to make the showcase an annual event and are eager to connect with more emerging businesses in the area.
DeLucia said he was thrilled to learn about the competition at the last minute.
“I found out about this from a friend, three days before the application was due,” he said. “I rushed to get it in on time and I’m so glad I did. This is an unbelievable opportunity.”