GARDEN STATE LEADERS IN BUSINESS, CULTURE, AND THE ARTS SHARE THEIR MOST IMPORTANT BUSINESS LESSONS, ALL TIME FAVORITE HOLIDAY FLICKS, AND MOST TREASURED HOLIDAY TRADITIONS

BY ELIZABETH HAZARD AND AMANDA MCCOY PHOTOS BY TOM ZAPCIC, ALEX BARRETO, AND VIOLET KARYN PHOTOGRAPHY

 

Paul Monteiro
Director of Leonardo Jewelers / leonardojewelers.com
Paul Monteiro has been with Leonardo Jewelers for almost 26 years, and it’s a role he still enjoys today, thanks to happy customers and great colleagues. “I love going to work, and I’m humbled to take a small part in the milestones of our customers,” said Monteiro, adding it’s all about making the customer smile. “We are in the business of making people happy. We always know when someone has found the perfect piece. There is a smile that comes to their face, maybe because they are thinking about the recipient opening the gift or wearing it. But the smile is always telling.” He said it also doesn’t hurt that he loves the people he works with as well. “I work with the best team in the industry, and that always makes for a fun day,” he said. Leonardo Jewelers, with locations in both Red Bank and Metuchen, has been dedicated to providing its customers with personal attention since the beginning, noted Monteiro. “We believe that the feelings and emotions of selecting a perfect piece of jewelry or a watch for a loved one is the customer’s experience, not ours. We are always grateful that the customer has chosen Leonardo Jewelers to help celebrate a special milestone.”

WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT LESSON YOU’VE LEARNED IN BUSINESS?
In business, like in life, never forget where you came from and never ever judge a book by its cover. Treat everyone like they are the most important person in the room.

WHAT IS YOUR MOST TREASURED HOLIDAY TRADITION?
No matter the holiday, the tradition is being with family.

WHAT IS YOUR ALL TIME FAVORITE HOLIDAY MOVIE?
My kids love watching The Polar Express so I would have to say that one.

BK WINDOW SPREAD

 

 

 

 

John Castiglione
Founder, Boost Beverage Consultants
John Castiglione founded Boost Beverage Consultants with a promise to treat clients with three things: honesty, transparency, and loyalty. Described as a results driven company, the consulting firm specializes in marketing and sales for emerging alcohol brands. Founded during the pandemic, Boost Beverage focuses on marketing for smaller brands in a competitive industry dominated by the larger companies. It’s a challenge Castiglione welcomes. “We’ve got to wake up every day and be better than the big boys, and then cut through the noise from the other smaller companies to help our clients rise to the top. The rewards are watching our brands grow in this challenging environment, celebrating wins with my amazing team, and knowing that we’re successfully doing it our way.”

WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT LESSON YOU’VE LEARNED IN BUSINESS?
The most important thing I’ve learned is that the only way to push forward is to constantly find silver linings when things aren’t going your way. Not only does it keep your attitude positive, but you’re able to find bright spots, learn lessons, and constantly improve. It’s also important to stick to your principles. Lots of people “return their shopping carts” when it’s nice out, but it’s about doing it when it’s raining, windy, and cold that shows your true resolve.

WHAT IS YOUR MOST TREASURED HOLIDAY TRADITION?
We’ve done a dirty “potluck pollyanna” with my college friends and friends from my Manasquan shore house for almost 15 years. No matter how old we get, we keep it hilariously weird.

WHAT IS YOUR ALL TIME FAVORITE HOLIDAY MOVIE?
Isn’t everyone’s Elf? “Smiling’s my favorite!”

 

 

 

 

 

Steven Kramer
Founder and Master Portrait Artist, Kramer Portraits kramerportraits.net
Steven Kramer believes every beautiful portrait garners a second look. Inspired by the great portrait artists of the past, the modern day master portrait artist blends cutting edge digital photographic techniques with the old masters’ traditions creating timeless works of family art. Since the inception of Kramer Portraits, this talented artist has had the privilege of working with thousands of families and prominent individuals from many locations, including U.S. presidents to well known celebrities and athletes like George W. Bush, Patti LaBelle, and Yankees icon Paul O’Neill. Today, he operates boutique studios in NYC at the Pierre Hotel, in Philadelphia at the Ritz Carlton, and in Washington D.C. at e St. Regis. “What we do is so much more than a service,” said Kramer. “We build a rapport with our clients and create timeless pieces of family heirloom art for their homes.”

A large component of the corporate culture at Kramer Portrait Studios centers on giving back to the various communities where his clients reside throughout the U.S. is philosophy is ingrained in Kramer and his team, and has been since he opened over 20 years ago. Each year the charitable arm of Kramer Portrait Studios assists charities and organizations in raising over $250,000 for worthy causes through the company’s donation process. In two decades of business, Kramer has donated to over 12,000 charities and organizations in the U.S. and Canada. “I strongly believe that giving back to the communities in which my clients reside is important and necessary,” added Kramer.

WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT LESSON YOU’VE LEARNED IN BUSINESS?
The importance of giving back. From the beginning, I’ve always believed in giving back to the communities where I do business. I’ve had the privilege of creating portraits for interesting and fascinating people throughout the U.S. and Canada, and the charitable arm of my business is responsible for serving over 12,000 charities and raising $250,000 annually for these worthy causes in our partnerships.

WHAT IS YOUR MOST TREASURED HOLIDAY TRADITION?
I am first and foremost a family man! I’ve been married to my wife, Wendy, for over 25 years, and we have four remarkable children, two sons and two daughters (twins!). One of the most time honored traditions in our household is to share Thanksgiving together with the family. We enjoy cooking together and creating amazing traditional Thanksgiving recipes, and we relish the opportunity to take a break from the craziness of life to be together as a family. Now that our children are in college, the circle of family and friends is widening as my kids love welcoming friends who may not be able to make it home from university to be with their families into the Kramer Thanksgiving festivities.

WHAT IS YOUR ALL TIME FAVORITE HOLIDAY MOVIE?
My all time favorite movie is Forrest Gump, a great movie that celebrates the uniqueness of people.

 

 

 

 

 

Shaun Blick
Founder and Managing Member, Blick Law LLC blicklaw.com
For attorney Shaun Blick, winning isn’t everything, but it’s a key driver in his work with Blick Law. “Being a problem solver and getting to the heart of complicated issues is a huge motivator for me,” he said. “I just love it, and it thrills me. When a client walks through the door with a problem, and I can fix it or at least set them on a path to a solution, there is a genuine satisfaction that I feel at that moment. That is the proverbial lightning in the bottle I try to capture every day, and which keeps me determined.” With offices in NJ and NY, Blick said his firm’s accessibility is just one of the elements that sets it apart from other firms.

“Our clients have a direct line of communication with their lawyer,” he said proudly. “There are no administrative hurdles to overcome when you are a client of our firm. We recognize that life happens, and when you want to speak to your attorney, you don’t want to wait. We really do commit ourselves to being conscious of that and we make ourselves as available and accessible as possible.” For Blick, whether securing a victory in court or closing a deal, bringing home a win for his clients is the real reward.

WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT LESSON YOU’VE LEARNED IN BUSINESS?
You really have only one thing in business and that is your reputation. A reputation is built on honesty, trustworthiness, and fairness. I don’t care if you’re selling cars or you’re selling the theory of a case to a jury. Abiding by this lesson has steered clients to my office, given me the skills to be an effective advocate, and given me success in business.

WHAT IS YOUR MOST TREASURED HOLIDAY TRADITION?
My wife and I take our two daughters to Disney World during the holidays. I just love being with my girls, and we have a good time together. They’re probably getting sick of Mickey Mouse at this point, but it’s our tradition!

WHAT IS YOUR ALL TIME FAVORITE HOLIDAY MOVIE?
It’s a tie between Elf and Home Alone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pete Marcolini
Co owner, Aunt Butchie’s / auntbutchiesofbrooklyn.com
After more than two decades in the food distribution business, Pete Marcolini decided to change lanes. Partnering with Frank Santo, the owner of Aunt Butchie’s Bake Shop in Brooklyn, and his longtime pal Joe Pernice, they crafted a small extension of the Brooklyn bakery on a quiet strip of Arthur Kill Road in Staten Island, where they served a light menu of sandwiches, soups, and salads. As the eatery grew in popularity, Marcolini, lovingly referred to as the “unschooled chef” by his partners, expanded the offerings. “When I was delivering Italian specialties, I was always in and out of these kitchens, and I used to watch them cook,” said Marcolini, referring to his daily trips to delis, hotels, and specialty stores. “I had also cooked for years with my grandfather so I’ve always had a passion for food. Customers liked the food and then we started experimenting. Meatballs and pasta were the next natural step, and then as the store expanded, I started making some of my old world family recipes like osso bucco and tripe.”

Marcolini’s recipes were such a hit with Staten Island customers, patrons across the Outerbridge soon began salivating for an outpost of their own. Marcolini and team expanded to a third location in 2018 in Marlboro. The upscale “home away from home” concept serves fresh Italian staples like chicken parmigiana, veal Milanese, artisan pizzas, and a fan favorite softball sized meatball, along with Aunt Butchie’s famed desserts. “I never imagined we’d become this big,” said Marcolini. “I love that my grandfather’s recipes are being shared with so many people. It’s honestly a dream come true.”

WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT LESSON YOU’VE LEARNED IN BUSINESS?
If you are looking to start a business and stay in business, you must know every job it takes in order to keep your business going. For example, in the restaurant industry, you need to know washing dishes, waiting on tables, bartending, cooking, scheduling, bookkeeping, and all of the laws that need to be followed.

WHAT IS YOUR MOST TREASURED HOLIDAY TRADITION?
My favorite holiday is Christmas. The reason why is I love to give and see the joy you can bring to a person’s face. For me, it is the most peaceful time of the year, even though in my line of work it is also the most demanding.

WHAT IS YOUR ALL TIME FAVORITE HOLIDAY MOVIE?
My favorite movie is 29th Street. It is not the most popular movie, but I believe everyone should see it. It is based on a true story and stars Danny Aiello, Anthony LaPaglia, and Lainie Kazan. We watch this movie every Christmas. It is a lesson: just when you think life is at its worst, the best things can come to you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Joe Gulino
President, Gem Limousine Worldwide / gemlimo.com
Gem Limousine Worldwide has been in business since 1976. Company president Joe Gulino, alongside the company’s founder Barbara Chirico and his wife and CEO Deanna Gulino, has helped steer the business to continued success and growth over the years, all while keeping family at the forefront. The NJ based, family run business now offers first class, chauffeured transportation for clients all over the world. For Gulino, providing best in class transportation means making sure the right people are in the right places. He said, “This is a fast paced industry, and there are many moving parts. Without smart, loyal, dedicated staff surrounding your vision and executing 24/7/365, well you know what the result would be. We are blessed to have an amazing staff and family to run this company. They are our branding; a logo is just a logo, it’s the people that make the brand.”

For Gulino, having his children take part in the business is priceless, and he wouldn’t have it any other way. What sets Gem Limousine Worldwide apart from other transportation companies? Gulino said it’s their drive and dedication to the staff and clients. “Our customers are our employers; that’s our mindset and that’s how we run the business,” he proudly claimed. While driving clients, Gulino is himself driven as a business leader by his responsibilities to his staff and clients. “I love what I do and embrace the business challenges that come our way. If the business climate changes, we must change, adapt, and move forward and reach further.”

WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT LESSON YOU’VE LEARNED IN BUSINESS?
The most important lesson that I’ve learned is to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. After COVID, with no travel or business for a year, we look at the financial strategy and decisions in a whole new way. We are back to the old school mentality.

WHAT IS YOUR MOST TREASURED HOLIDAY TRADITION?
My most treasured holiday tradition is Grandma’s Games on Christmas. My mother in law Barbara researches all year and comes up with fun home made games that our family participates in and we have a total blast doing it together. It’s so much fun it’s talked about all year, and we really look forward to it.

WHAT IS YOUR ALL TIME FAVORITE HOLIDAY MOVIE?
My favorite holiday movie is A Christmas Story. I love the youngster Ralphie and his family with all the shenanigans surrounding the holidays. I love the humor; the old school feel of this movie to me is a classic.