WCBS Virtual Business Breakfast
Business Survival and Recovery from the Coronavirus Pandemic
¬† Monday, June 22
Call-in your questions for Joe Connolly and our expert panel: (877) 987-WCBS
As businesses suffer from unprecedented shutdowns caused by the coronavirus pandemic, WCBS Newsradio 880 presents a special virtual event as part of our WCBS Business Breakfast Series focusing on business survival and recovery. Business reporter Joe Connolly will facilitate a virtual panel discussion with guests Cindi Bigelow, President & CEO of the Fairfield County-based family business Bigelow Tea, Joe Colangelo of the Boxcar app, and Michael Bednark of Bednark Studio at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
Each of our panelists have made essential pivots over the last three months to stay afloat and serve their communities. Bigelow Tea is seeing increased demand for its homemade tea amid the health crisis, but they have had to redesign their factory operations to adjust to the so-called new normal.¬†
Boxcar has created four new services when his convenient commuter parking app usage plummeted 100 percent at the outset of the pandemic as Tri-State commuters transitioned to work from home. Now, Boxcar offers contact-free drive-through pickup and delivery of groceries, hosts drive-in movies, performs car detailing services and is selling out outdoor pools as Americans anticipate being relegated to their backyards for the summer.
And, Bednark Studio went from designing and fabricating parts at its Brooklyn Navy Yard factory to manufacturing face shields for frontline hospital workers in New York City. They moved into a larger factory and beat the large players to market while aiding in the local fight against COVID-19. Now, Bednark Studio is developing and installing plastic dividers for ride-sharing services to prevent its spread while sharing its design blueprint for other companies to hire essential workers and join in the global effort to slow down the deadly virus and get people back on their feet.
Connolly and our panelists will offer strategies for survival, ideas for pivoting to new services and answer pressing concerns from our dedicated listeners as businesses start to reopen with new challenges.
Cindi¬†Bigelow, President & CEO of Bigelow Tea
Cindi Bigelow is the 3rd generation President & CEO of family-owned Bigelow Tea. Before assuming this key role in 2005, Cindi spent 25 years in all areas of the company her grandmother founded in 1945. Headquartered in Fairfield, Bigelow Tea is the national market leader of specialty teas and maker of ‚ÄúConstant Comment‚ÄĚ¬ģ tea. The company remains a family-owned business and employs 350 people across three manufacturing facilities, producing over 1.7 billion tea bags annually.
The socially-minded CEO has led the company‚Äôs greening efforts including the installation of 880 photovoltaic solar panels providing 15% of the electricity for the company‚Äôs Fairfield headquarters.
Cindi‚Äôs community impact is significant. She initiated the Annual Bigelow Tea Community Challenge in 1987 that has donated nearly $1.1 million to local charities since inception and Bigelow‚Äôs Tea for the Troops Project that to date has donated 4 million tea bags to US service men and women. ¬†A passionate advocate for education, Cindi makes frequent classroom appearances speaking to students about business, business ethics and career development. She has been honored by numerous business and civic organizations. She holds a bachelor‚Äôs degree from Boston College, MBA from Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Management and Honorary Doctorate from the University of New Haven.
When she is not working, Cindi enjoys being with her children, skiing, tennis, yoga and, of course, drinking lot and lots of tea.
Joe Colangelo Boxcar, Inc.
Joe Colangelo is the founder and CEO of Boxcar, a suburban mobility startup headquartered in Chatham, NJ.¬† Boxcar began as a parking marketplace for unused parking spots near suburban New Jersey transit hubs, which has expanded to 50+ towns in 6 states.¬† The company has since branched out into commuter bus service, micro-mobility, and office-sharing solutions in suburban areas. Colangelo is a UC Berkeley graduate, Navy veteran, and has worked in consulting, consumer tech policy, and sales.¬† He also co-founded Golden Coast Mead, which is today one of America’s largest mead producers.¬†Colangelo lives in Cranford, NJ with his wife and five children.
Michael Bednark,¬†Founder & CEO, Bednark Studio, Inc.
Michael Bednark is a born entrepreneur with a knack for making products with his own hands. He made custom wood bats for Major League Baseball as an employee of Barnstable Bat Co. as a high school student in the late 1990s. At New York University, where he graduated from in 2005, he designed play sets and made props for NYU productions. He launched Bednark Studio, Inc. upon graduation.
Bednark Studio is a full-service fabrication company. It¬†partners with industry leading Designers, Architects, Agency‚Äôs and Brands to develop unique customer experiences while pushing the limits as to what’s possible. If you have a vivid concept, Bednark Studio will make the blueprint and develop a tangible item.
When the COVID-19 outbreak hit, Bednark Studio workers were sidelined. Michael quickly pivoted to hire¬†160 new workers and move into a larger Brooklyn Navy Yard factory to¬†make face shields for hospital workers in New York City in a partnership he pitched¬†with New York City Health and Hospitals. Bednark beat the largest face shield manufacturer Bauer Hockey to market and had been manufacturing about¬†200,000 face shields a day at the height of the pandemic.¬†
More recently, Bednark designed plastic dividers for ride-sharing company drivers to prevent the spread of COIVID-19. It shared the designs on social media to encourage other¬†companies to join in the fight against the deadly virus. Bednark Studio installs the plastic dividers at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
Follow WCBS 880
Follow Joe on Twitter¬†@JoeConnollyBiz