Receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award on the 50th anniversary of the Meadowlands Chamber provided many heartfelt comments from Al Paradise, one of the original founders of the organization who — incredibly — remains active today.
“The bottom line for me is this: We don’t hang around for 50 years if there isn’t something of value — we don’t hang around for 50 years if we’re not doing and making a difference,” he told a crowd of approximately 500 at the Venetian last Thursday night.
There was plenty of comedy, too.
Paradise, a successful business leader who has served in just about every capacity at the chamber — including chairman, treasurer and chair or co-chair of seemingly every committee — said he didn’t think he was worth the fuss.
“As George Burns once said, ‘I have arthritis and I don’t think I deserved that, either,’” he said to roars.
He joked that time helps everyone acquire new skills: “You can laugh, cough, sneeze and pee all at the same time,” he said.
Time also has taught him an unmistakable message: “I’ve learned to please everyone is almost impossible, but to piss everyone off is a piece of cake.”
Of course, the hundreds in the room know all of his accomplishments in the business world — he was the founder and president of Argus Construction & Equipment, LTI Inc. and Northeast Mulch. And they know his never-ending efforts at the chamber make him the ideal candidate for its highest honor.
Longtime Meadowlands Chamber CEO Jim Kirkos said Paradise still provides a punch.
“To this day, Al always comes to every board meeting with thoughtful ideas on how we can serve our members better,” he told the crowd.
Four leaders were honored with the 2023 Legacy Awards by the Meadowlands Chamber:
- Gus Milano: President and chief operating officer of Hartz Mountain;
- Anthony Santarelli: CEO of Hudson Regional Hospital;
- Peter Unanue: Executive vice president, Goya Foods
- Jaime Weiss: President, Weiss Realty
“And, so, tonight, we reflect on Al’s dedication, and we honor him with a Lifetime Achievement Award not only for his tenure, but also for his spirit, his supreme dedication and his friendship to our organization.”
Paradise said the pleasure has been all his.
“With the chamber, I have met thousands of people — people who left their mark on me, on each other and on this place called the Meadowlands that we have all become attached to,” he said.
“As I look back at my involvement with this chamber, I am proud to be associated with it, because this chamber is not an institution or a corporation that manufactures a product, but is one that is made up of individuals, such as yourselves, who are willing to give of their time and effort to help the chamber work to improve the quality of life for all the residents in the area.”
Paradise noted some of the chamber’s major accomplishments, including the Meadowlands Commission, the Sports Authority, the New York Jets, the New York Giants, the Meadowlands rail station, the improvements on Route 3 and so many more.
Paradise said he knows more are coming, too.
“Tomorrow will hold even a greater promise of progress and accomplishments in the Meadowlands area — and, in the forefront, I know, will be the Meadowlands regional chamber of commerce, serving you, the business community, the residents and the towns,” he said.