GARDEN STATE LEADERS IN BUSINESS, CULTURE, AND THE ARTS SHARE DEFINING MOMENTS OF 2023, ALL-TIME FAVORITE HOLIDAY SONGS, AND THE TOP ITEM ON THEIR WISH LISTS THIS YEAR BY ZACHARY WEG AND BLUE SULLIVAN PHOTOS

BY TOM ZAPCIC

Gopal Solanki
Style Consultant, Garmany / garmany.com America is a country whose foundation, and future growth, are inextricably built upon the contributions of immigrants, those who, through a combination of courage, hard work, and talent, achieve immense personal success and make their new home greater by their efforts. Gopal Solanki is a real-life example of this principle. Growing up in India, he learned the craft of expert tailoring from his father, LJ Solanki. “I learned so much from him at a young age about the fitting and measuring of clients,” he explained. Upon moving to the U.S., Solanki further refined his gifts under the tutelage of his godfather, Larry Garmany. Today, Solanki is the style consultant at Garmany, which he proudly describes as “the finest luxury fashion clothing store in the USA.”

Looking back on his 25-year career with the luxury boutique, Solanki is careful to give credit to those people whose guidance and generosity have made his success possible. “It’s been a wonderful journey that wouldn’t have been possible without Larry and Johnell Garmany. From them, I learned the recipe for success: hard work, self-confidence, self-discipline, flexibility in working with others, quality service, and importantly, realizing that there are goals just as important as money.”
Through each building block of this American success story, Solanki has learned an ethos that is both simple and profound. “Don’t promise something you can’t deliver, trust in your team, and of course, remember that our loyal customers are a family who believes in and trusts you.”


WHAT WAS THE DEFINING MOMENT OF 2023 FOR YOU?
I can’t control when that moment will arrive, but what I can control is what I can do with this moment. For me, every moment is a defining moment because every moment demonstrates who I am today and defines who I will be tomorrow. Wisdom makes every moment.

WHAT IS THE NUMBER ONE ITEM ON YOUR HOLIDAY WISH LIST?
Peace on Earth, an all-time favorite.
WHAT IS YOUR ALL-TIME FAVORITE HOLIDAY SONG?
“All I Want for Christmas is You.”

Barry Maurillo
Co Owner, The Grand Château Hotel / chateaugrande.com
The story of Barry Maurillo is one of dual traditions. Born into a close-knit Italian-American family, Maurillo has carried on the commitment to nurturing strong family ties, and secondly, he’s continued the longstanding legacy of investing in his New Jersey community. His father, Nicholas Maurillo, was an essential part of the Nutley community, serving as the proprietor of the J&N Amoco on Franklin Avenue for over five decades, and Maurillo and his brother, Joseph, launched their first New Jersey restaurant in 1989. This first venture eventually bred a suite of several restaurants, but Maurillo still harbored an appetite for expansion. In 1995, the Maurillo brothers opened Crystal Caterers and Nightclub in Lyndhurst with their partner (and fellow Nutley-born friend) Vito Cucci. This partnership was just the beginning. The three have since opened Nanina’s in the Park of Belleville, the Park Savoy Estate of Florham Park, and their newest venture, Park Château Estate and Gardens and the Château Grande Hotel (the latter two set in East Brunswick). While most entrepreneurs overseeing such a vast array of thriving businesses would scarcely find time to give back, Maurillo remains equally proud of the many charitable organizations he takes part in. Among the many awards and recognitions he’s received are the 2007 Columbus Day Parade Business Man of the Year, the 2008 Catholic Charities Humanitarian of the Year, the Essex County Chiefs of Police Distinguished Service Award, the Italian Tribune’s La Famiglia Award, the Belleville Italian American Civic Association Award for Leadership, the 2012 Man of the Year from the Italian American Club, and the 2013 John V. Kelly Memorial Foundation Humanitarian of the Year.

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WHAT WAS THE DEFINING MOMENT OF 2023 FOR YOU?
Celebrating my 40th anniversary with the best wife and mother ever, plus welcoming three additional grandchildren, bringing my total to eight wonderful grandchildren.
WHAT IS THE NUMBER ONE ITEM ON YOUR HOLIDAY WISH LIST?
Love and health for the family.
WHAT IS YOUR ALL-TIME FAVORITE HOLIDAY SONG?
“White Christmas” by Bing Crosby

Terence McGouran
General Manager, Rolls Royce Motor Cars of Paramus, Bentley Paramus / rollsroycemotorcarsparamus.com
Terence McGouran already had two decades of automotive experience under his belt when he accepted his current position with Rolls Royce and Bentley in Paramus, though he explained he couldn’t have known then just how different his work would be in this new role. “Our customer experience is unlike any I’ve ever encountered in this line of work,” he explained with pride. “When you make an investment this large in a car, you create a relationship with the people you purchased it from.”
McGouran launched his automotive career in 2002, accepting his first dealership position as a driver/lot attendant. “A lot of people in this business discuss it as their calling, but that wasn’t how I started in this,” he said. “Back then, it was an exciting new opportunity to work for a large auto group locally. I really didn’t know how rewarding and important to my life it would become.”
Today, McGouran explained he’s inspired by his work at the upscale showroom on a daily basis. “My job allows me to do what I love most: building, interacting with, and growing a team. Our customers are more than a transaction to us. In most cases, we are building relationships that will last throughout their lives. Our job is to truly make and foster a genuine human connection with every client we meet and engage with.”
A Bergen County resident since 1985, McGouran and his wife, Lauren, have two children, Isabella (10) and Aiden (6).


WHAT WAS THE DEFINING MOMENT OF 2023 FOR YOU?
The defining moment of 2023 for me was accepting my current position within the Paul Miller Auto Group as general manager of Bentley Paramus and Rolls Royce Motor Cars Paramus.
WHAT IS THE NUMBER ONE ITEM ON YOUR HOLIDAY WISH LIST?
I really don’t have a Christmas list.
WHAT IS YOUR ALL-TIME FAVORITE HOLIDAY SONG?
My kids love to sing and dance to “Jingle Bell Rock,” so I would say this song.

Jeffery P. Casten
Director of Commercial Lending, Manasquan Bank Manasquan. bank
In speaking with Jeffery Casten, one might get the sense he’s “laughed his way to the bank” a few times. Affable and gregarious, the seasoned banker has been with Manasquan Bank for the past 17 years and is, today, its Director of Commercial Lending. For Casten, whose ardor for the fast-moving industry was sparked in a college course, every day in his role is “a little bit different,” but always involves helping businesses (and the people who run those businesses) achieve their goals and dreams.
“To develop and succeed in this business, one must have the ability to cultivate relationships, continue to learn, and realize the importance and benefits of giving back to your community,” he said. “The right culture provides individuals with a sense of identity, purpose, and belonging. I believe we have established such a great culture here.”


WHAT WAS THE DEFINING MOMENT OF 2023 FOR YOU?
After 35 years in commercial banking personally building, managing, advising, and guiding professional relationships, it was time for me to move out of my comfort zone. My focus here is managing our outstanding team of lenders.
WHAT IS THE NUMBER ONE ITEM ON YOUR HOLIDAY WISH LIST?
Well, with everything that is going on today, personally I wish for good health for my family and for myself, and peace and harmony in the world with less divisiveness.
WHAT IS YOUR ALL-TIME FAVORITE HOLIDAY SONG?
An instrumental by the Trans Siberian Orchestra is called, “Christmas Eve Sarajevo.”

Dante Rosania
Partner, Design Firm Inc. / designfirmllc.com
For more than two decades, Dante Rosania has served as the main operator at Design Firm, Inc. in Pinebrook. “I always had an interest in art,” he said. “We call it Design Firm because we have a showroom where we sell a lot of products to the consumer or contractor, and we also have a custom mill workshop where we run a full construction company.” Along with his brother, Rosania took the reins of the company from his father and helped steer its rise as one of the go to design showrooms in the Garden State. “We do custom bars, wine rooms, theaters, and a lot of restaurants,” he explained. “Ultimately, our success is attributed to customer satisfaction. It’s about making sure the customer is happy with the product we provide to them and our relationship to the customer.” Whether that product be a top-end home theater or custom wine wall, Rosania and his team have the tools, and talent, ready


WHAT WAS THE DEFINING MOMENT OF 2023 FOR YOU?
In the year 2023, a profound and life-changing moment unfolded, etching itself deeply into the very core of my being. It was the precise instant when I wholeheartedly embraced and welcomed Jesus back into my life. As I reflect upon that defining moment, a wave of indescribable peace and immense joy washes over me.
WHAT IS THE NUMBER ONE ITEM ON YOUR HOLIDAY WISH LIST?
To bring the true meaning of Christmas back into my family.
WHAT IS YOUR ALL-TIME FAVORITE HOLIDAY SONG?
“Jingle Bell Rock.”

Kayla George
Chief Marketing Officer at JAG Physical Therapy JAG Physical Therapy
For over a decade, Kayla George has served as the public relations mastermind behind JAG Physical Therapy, an award-winning outpatient physical therapy and occupational therapy practice with more than 100 locations across the tri-state area. As JAG’s chief marketing officer, the New Jersey native oversees all of the company’s campaigns and marketing initiatives, a sizable undertaking as the company continues to grow and expand.
“I’ve always had a very strong interest in marketing and PR, and all that goes behind the scenes of building and growing a brand,” noted the former college athlete. “Marketing gives me the flexibility to be creative and always do something new, and that, paired with JAG’s growth over the years, has really given me the outlet to grow and develop as a professional. Our continued growth has afforded me the opportunity to work outside my comfort zone and continue to drive home new projects and initiatives. My day-to-day is always changing, and for me, that is exactly where I want to be.”


WHAT WAS THE DEFINING MOMENT OF 2023 FOR YOU?
2023 has been an incredible year of growth here at JAG Physical Therapy. In the last several months we completed our largest acquisition to date, re-branded our company, and launched a billboard in Times Square. Despite the many moving pieces, the defining moment was to see our team come together and work cohesively to achieve the goals we set forth. There is no one person or one department leading the charge. Our success in 2023 has truly been a team effort and for me, there is nothing more rewarding.
WHAT IS THE NUMBER ONE ITEM ON YOUR HOLIDAY WISH LIST?
Good health.
WHAT IS YOUR ALL-TIME FAVORITE HOLIDAY SONG?
“All I Want for Christmas is You” by Mariah Carey. No matter how many times it gets played on the radio, the song is a classic and never gets old!