The New Jersey Business & Industry Association and New Jersey Business Magazine on Monday announced the 16 recipients of the annual Awards for Excellence, which honor member companies and business leaders whose energy and vision have had a positive impact on their employees, their communities and the state’s economy.
Twelve businesses and organizations, as well as four executives, are being recognized with awards in 2023.
“This year’s Awards for Excellence winners, all valued NJBIA members, have stepped up to do right for their employees, their communities and New Jersey’s economy,” NJBIA CEO and President Michele Siekerka said. “We are truly proud to recognize their notable achievements.”
The winners are listed by category below.
2023 AFE Executives of the Year
- Karimah Hagans, executive director, Turning Point Community Services Inc.: Turning Point Community Services is a nonprofit that provides housing and services to women and their families in northern New Jersey. Thanks to Hagans’ leadership, the lives of nearly 400 women and children have been forever changed through the organization’s support, social services, and life-ready programs.
- Cynthia Hetherington, founder and CEO, Hetherington Group: Hetherington leads national and international investigations into corporate due diligence and fraud, personal asset recovery and background checks. Applying her specialized knowledge of the financial, pharmaceutical and telecommunications industries, her cyberinvestigations have recovered millions of dollars in high profile corruption cases.
- Joseph Mauti, president, M&M Construction: Mauti has fostered a culture of collaboration and empowerment within his organization. He firmly believes in the potential of his team members and invests in their growth and development. Mauti also actively engages in philanthropic endeavors, giving back to the community that has supported M&M Construction’s success.
- Brian Varela, co-founder and CEO, Growing Seeds Learning Academy: As a serial entrepreneur, Varela has founded, owned and scaled numerous businesses, including six child care centers, two marketing companies and two medspas. His ability to not only launch, but also maintain and grow these businesses, even amid challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic, demonstrates his resilience, strategic foresight and adaptable leadership style. His interest in investing in B2B spaces such as information technology and cybersecurity firms, office services and bookkeeping firms signals his dedication to seeking out new challenges.
2023 AFE Members of the Year
- Skalli Events: Skalli Events is a family-owned and -operated audio-visual production company that has been a longtime partner and ambassador of NJBIA, providing membership referrals and being the sound and video behind many association events. From cutting-edge audio-visual technology to stunning lighting design, Skalli — which was founded in 1993 — brings together the elements needed to create unforgettable events. The Lodi-based company’s audio-visual services include: live in-person event production; hybrid and streaming events with multicamera coverage, on screen graphics and live Q&A sessions; and prerecorded video production.
- CGI: Founded in 1976, CGI is a global IT and business consulting firm with more than 400 locations worldwide. CGI opened an 11,500-square-foot office in New Brunswick last year to meet growing client demand in the region and centralize operations in the state. The office includes collaborative space to foster mentorship programs, including work with STEM camps and the New Brunswick PTECH High School program.
- Bergen New Bridge Medical Center: Bergen New Bridge Medical Center is an acute and long-term care hospital in Paramus. It is the largest hospital in the state and fourth-largest publicly owned hospital in the nation. The 1,070-bed institution is also a clinical affiliate of Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences. Founded in 1916 as the Bergen County Isolation Hospital, Bergen New Bridge today provides comprehensive services, including acute and ambulatory care, mental health and substance use disorder treatment, long-term care, a 24/7 emergency department, surgical suites, physical rehabilitation, pharmacy, laboratory and radiologic services.
- Covenant House, New Jersey: Covenant House is the largest, primarily privately funded charity in North and Central America, providing immediate and long-term support for youths ages 12-24 experiencing homelessness and human trafficking. Covenant House New Jersey served approximately 1,248 young people across its core programs and services in Fiscal Year 2022 vs. 801 the prior year. Those services translated to 59,351 nights of housing. Covenant House also has been an integral part of NJBIA’s Not-For-Profit leadership team and council this past year.
2023 AFE Outstanding Employers
- C3 Workplace: Over the last 30 years, C3 Workplace has helped to start and develop thousands of companies that have created tens of thousands of jobs across the state. This Montclair-based company aims to help businesses successfully start and grow by providing workspace, business support services and educational services while connecting businesses with each other and showing them how to harness the power of collaboration with like-minded professionals.
- CW Solutions: CW Solutions is a New Brunswick-based, woman-owned real estate services firm established in 2002, providing assistance for utilities and wireless telecommunications, infrastructure, offshore wind and groundbreaking renewable energy projects throughout the U.S. The team of highly skilled professionals leverages local resources to provide specialized services for each client, which range from small businesses to Fortune 500 firms. The firm is certified as a Women’s Business Enterprise, a Small Business Enterprise and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise.
- CompoSecure: CompoSecure Inc. is an award-winning leader in the design, development and manufacturing of multifactor authentication, payment and digital asset storage technology solutions. With more than 20 years of experience in material science and metal card innovations, CompoSecure is a trusted partner for governments, financial institutions, fintechs and retail, using proprietary production methods that meet the highest quality and security standards.
2023 AFE Excellence in Disability Inclusion
- Spectrum Works: Spectrum Works is a nonprofit social enterprise that, for the past 10 years, has been successfully providing paid internships, on-the-job training, job readiness education and employment support services to young autistic adults by partnering with companies and implementing sustainable and scalable autism employment programs into their workplace. Spectrum Works aims to increase integrated employment opportunities for autistic adults across New Jersey.
2023 AFE Community Service
- ABC Discount Appliances: Over the past 75 years, community initiatives have always been a focus of Pennsauken-based ABC Discount Appliances. Whether it has been its longstanding commitment to youth baseball or Rotary International, the company is a huge believer in giving back. Other community investments include — but are not limited to — the Camden Catholic Drama Club, Pennsauken Merchantville FOP, Winslow High School Football Team, the BBB of NJ and various youth sports programs throughout Southern New Jersey.
- Home Helpers Care Monmouth County: Home Helpers Care in Monmouth County has demonstrated exceptional care for its clients, most notably veterans. The organization has also supported not-for-profits, including the Jake’s Got This Foundation and veterans’ groups like Bridging the Gap and the Association of the United States Army. Further, Home Helpers recently provided Bayshore Hospital with an ice cream truck for National Hospital Week, as well as volunteering for a variety of organizations. Home Helpers President Howard Stein also was active on National Home Care Advocacy Day, speaking to state representatives about the current issues in health care facing our aging populations and veterans.
- Slalom Consulting: Slalom is revered as one of the most impactful business and technology consulting companies in the U.S., but it also strives to positively impact its communities. The company’s hallmark program for employee engagement is its Partners for Good community group. Some notable community efforts by Slalom include professional workshops with the Association of Latino Professionals for America at Rutgers University – Newark, where students are presented with business scenarios, and they present solutions to a Slalom panel.
- South Jersey Industries: Through South Jersey Gas and Elizabethtown Gas, South Jersey Industries provides energy to more than 725,000 homes and businesses across New Jersey. For the communities it serves, SJI strives to make STEM-related educational and professional opportunities accessible to local youth.