GARDEN STATE VISIONARIES SHARE BUSINESS STRENGTHS, THEIR IDEA OF A DREAM HOME, AND ALL TIME FAVE FLICKS

BY SAMANTHA FARAGALLI YOUNGHANS, JESSICA JONES GORMAN AND LAURA D.C. KOLNOSKI PHOTOS BY PATTY PIXELS, TOM ZAPCIC, AND AMESSÉ PHOTOGRAPHY

Eddie Mattioli
Owner, IBO Construction @iboconstructiongroup

This Brooklyn native came from a family of painters, and has been the owner of IBO Construction for 30 years. The company, which won an American Institute of Architects Award for building Armani Exchange’s new corporate offices in New York City, is primarily focused on projects in Monmouth and Ocean Counties today.
Now a New Jersey resident, Mattioli specializes in restaurants and homes, having built local establishments like Gabriella’s Italian Steakhouse in Red Bank and Patricia’s of Holmdel.

“I love having such quality work so close to home,” he revealed, while explaining how he takes pride in being close to clients. “[My goal for the future] is to continue to keep growing and do what I’m doing.”

WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST BUSINESS STRENGTH? My attention to detail maintaining the highest level of professionalism and integrity with clients and having great client relationships.

WHAT IS YOUR IDEA OF THE ULTIMATE DREAM HOME? A waterfront home, obviously built by me, in Taormina, Sicily.

Cellini Spread

WHAT’S YOUR ALL TIME FAVORITE MOVIE? The Shawshank Redemption. If I’m watching TV and it comes on, no matter where it is in the movie, I have to watch it until the end. It’s been my favorite for 20 plus years now.

EDA KALKAY
Founder and Owner, EKPR, Eda Kalkay Public Relations & Talent Management, LLC / edakalkay.com

“My mission is to work until you’re famous,” candidly states this publicist. Her high profile clients include HGTV’s Tarek El Moussa, television expert and author, Dr. Mike Dow, the Dale Earnhardt family, Chef Emeril Lagasse, Gold Medal Olympian, Oksana Baiul, and skateboard legend, Tony Hawk.

During her internship at The Walt Disney Company’s Movie Promotions department, on the same floor as its PR department, she set her sights on working in the entertainment industry. Her first job was in literary PR, working with authors and publishing houses, her second at a PR firm that specialized in entertainment. She then struck out on her own, founding Eda Kalkay Public Relations & Talent Management in 2004. She has worked with TV hosts Je Corwin and David Tutera, author/producer, Melissa Rivers, and fashion model, Emme. Her newest client is Christine Quinn, of Netflix’s Selling Sunset.

“I think outside the box and always beyond the project at hand, providing customized publicity programs, stylish campaigns, and personal attention to build brands,” Kalkay explained. “Focusing on clients’ visions and emerging trends, EKPR heightens awareness in an ever changing media. There is no substitute for quality.”

WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST BUSINESS STRENGTH? Being a master multitasker. My organizational skills, assertiveness, and ability to think ahead allow me to thrive in this high pressure industry.

YOUR IDEA OF THE ULTIMATE DREAM HOME? A painstakingly restored and modernized farmhouse in Tuscany.

YOUR ALL TIME FAVORITE MOVIE? Home Alone. I love that movie, no matter what time of year.

Angelo Mendola
President and COO, Priority Payments / prioritypaymentslocal.com

“We are a merchant service provider that provides products and services that allow businesses to accept and deliver payments,” noted Mendola of his company. “From local restaurants to national manufacturers, if you present a credit card, we’re helping process it.”

After heading the New Jersey division of AT&T’s online marketing, Mendola founded the business in 2013 with his longtime friend, Sal DiDonato.

“Because of that background, I knew that the best way to launch this business was to build a strong infrastructure and demand nothing less than the best customer service,” he said. “Our company culture is the air we breathe in, and service is the by product we breathe out. I try to keep everyone with skin in the game and their names in front of their work. As a result, clients enjoy working with our team. at has truly been the secret to our success.”

Success indeed. Over the past seven years, Mendola’s company has grown rapidly to become one of the largest non-bank merchant acquirers in the United States, processing close to $50 billion in electronic payments annually.

But the young entrepreneur lists his biggest accomplishment as his family
“I have two children and one on the way,” he concluded. “My kids and my wife are truly the most important people in my life.”

WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST BUSINESS STRENGTH? It’s a strength built during my career in sales and management, then fortified in the beginning of business ownership. I wasn’t a co-founder of opening a company, I was a partner in building a brand that delivers great service because of happy employees who believe in the solutions we provide merchants with.

YOUR IDEA OF THE ULTIMATE DREAM HOME? It has a private beach, a dock with a 200 foot yacht tied to it, and sun 365 days a year. It would have top of the line indoor and outdoor kitchens, a fresh fruit and vegetable garden, and of course…my heart and soul, my wife and children.

ALL TIME FAVORITE MOVIE? Oh Adrian! Rocky…all day. It’s the story of a not so smart man with a heart of gold achieving what no one even thought he could do going the distance against the champion in a fight when he was already pronounced the loser. Rocky’s story is one I believe every Power Player relates to.

Ginny Padula
Owner, Town & Country Kitchen and Bath / tckbdesigns.com

Padula has been an interior designer for many years, but it wasn’t until 13 years ago that she opened her very own showroom specializing in kitchen and bath design in Red Bank.

Town & Country Kitchen and Bath, which has won awards from Houzz and has been featured in media from home furnishings and art curator, Dering Hall, offers design services and hard surface specications, including cabinetry, counter tops, tile, plumbing, and lighting.

Padula and her growing team of designers pride themselves on providing a hands on experience to clients during kitchen and bath projects. “At Town & Country Kitchen and Bath, we are dedicated to providing exceptional customer service for our clients from design inspiration to completion,” she said. “We create timeless and classic interiors reflecting each person’s lifestyle.”

As for the future, the company is working to ramp up its own brand, T&C Mercantile a curated collection of specialty kitchen items the parent company uses to complete projects.

WHAT’S YOUR GREATEST BUSINESS STRENGTH? Organization. We’re very organized with the projects we do, because there’s so many pieces that tie it all together.

YOUR IDEA OF THE ULTIMATE DREAM HOME? A big old farmhouse that I can renovate…with a lot of land.

YOUR ALL TIME FAVORITE MOVIE? Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House. It’s so funny because it’s about the building and design business. I just think it’s hysterical.

Biagio Schiano
Owner, Mossuto’s Market / mossutosmarket.com

Biagio “Benny” Schiano said that he learned everything he needed to know about operating one of New Jersey’s most prized Italian markets from his father.

“He started this business in 1979,” Schiano noted. “He was an immigrant who came here from Italy in 1966 and worked his way through the restaurant business before opening a tiny Italian specialty shop in Wall Township on six acres of land. He built this store from scratch.”

Schiano and his sister grew up working in their father’s market, which was called A&S Italian Specialties. In 2003, when the elder Schiano built a strip mall on the property and voiced his intentions of retiring, Benny focused on the family legacy and created Mossuto’s Market, a deli/pizzeria/bar/Italian superstore all in one.

“The business has grown to be ten times the size that it originally was,” Schiano said. “We have become known throughout New Jersey for imported olive oil, cheeses, and meats,” adding that he travels to Italy several times a year to meet with producers sampling the best wine and tomatoes from a variety of regions.
“Mossuto’s reputation for having quality products has led to our success,” he concluded. “And our ability to constantly change and deliver in this marketplace is what keeps customers coming back.”

WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST BUSINESS STRENGTH?
Creating value for customers.

YOUR IDEA OF THE ULTIMATE DREAM HOME?
I’m looking for it as we speak. I want to buy a small property somewhere in Italy between Tuscany and Umbria where I can grow my own tomatoes and grapes, make wine, and live off of the land.

ALL TIME FAVORITE MOVIE?
The Pope of Greenwich Village

Frank DeNigris
Host, Campagnola / campagnola nyc.com

With its old school charm and authentic countryside Italian cuisine, Campagnola, a landmark restaurant on the Upper East Side, has served as home to sports heroes, police commissioners, actors, and everyday New Yorkers from the day it was founded in 1982. Part of the neighborhood institution’s magnetism its attributable to its longtime host, best known to patrons as “Frankie D.”

“Six days a week, this is my second home,” DeNigris noted, defining his role as “the face” of the restaurant, helping both new and returning customers navigate their fine dining experiences.

Born in Bergen County and the son of an Italian restaurateur, DeNigris claims the hospitality business is in his blood. He started working at Campagnola as a waiter in 1983 before becoming captain and then host.
“On a daily basis, we serve a variety of customers ranging from neighborhood residents to international businesspeople,” he said. “The sports figures and movie stars like it here, too, because it’s a quiet atmosphere where they can just be left alone.”

And of course, there’s the food: Old fashioned pots of Osso Bucco are served in abundance, as well as tasty bowls of pasta and an authentic Italian Bouillabaisse. And if you know “Frankie D,” there’s no need for a menu.

“Regulars call me from their Uber, pre order their favorites, and I get them in before the kitchen closes at 11 p.m.,” he said with a smile. “That’s my job.”

WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST BUSINESS STRENGTH? I grew up in the restaurant business, so I’m completely comfortable conversing with customers. I form a connection with each and every person who walks through the door.

YOUR IDEA OF THE ULTIMATE DREAM HOME? I’ve spent the past 49 summers at my family’s home by a lake, and that is truly my dream home. I cherish every moment I get to spend there.

ALL TIME FAVORITE MOVIE? A Star is Born, the remake. I love music. There’s a grand piano at the front entrance of the restaurant, and when the night is done I sit at it and take requests. I love Broadway shows, and the music in that film simply blew me away

Theodora Sergiou
President, Nicholas Pools / nicholaspools.com

Sergiou was just 16 years old when her parents established Nicholas Pools. Many years later in 2004, she and her husband took a leap and purchased the Toms River business from them when they were ready to retire. Fast forward to 2020, and it remains a top leader in the pool industry.

The family owned and operated company has developed an excellent reputation over the past 40 plus years, having won awards from the Northeast Pool & Spa Association, Hayward, and the Best of Ocean and Monmouth Counties. Sergiou was also recently named one of the Best 50 Women in Business by NJBiz.

Nicholas Pools is continuing to grow and expand rapidly. “We set ourselves apart by standing by our products, having great integrity, and caring for our customers,” the businesswoman said, while emphasizing how hands on her stais with every project. “People become part of the family when they purchase a pool, hot tub, or service from us.”

WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST BUSINESS STRENGTH?
Flexibility…being able to adapt to any situation.

YOUR IDEA OF THE ULTIMATE DREAM HOME?
A home on a cliff in Cyprus, with a pool and overlooking the Mediterranean. It is a beautiful island with sunshine, a gorgeous sea, amazing people, food, culture, and history. Going there brings me happiness and peace.

ALL TIME FAVORITE MOVIE? My favorite would have to be Jerry Maguire.

Kerrin “Kerry” O’Brien
Broker/Owner, O’Brien Realty / kerrinobrien.com Kerry@KerrinOBrien.com, app.obrienrealtyllc.com

In only six years, O’Brien Realty has expanded to encompass locations in Rumson, Monmouth Beach, Oceanport, Atlantic Highlands, and Long Branch, plus a New York commercial division and soon, another in Florida. With over 150 agents and close to $1 billion in sales, co-owner O’Brien said that going above and beyond, a love of real estate, and having “a great team, especially my business partner and wife, Tammy O’Brien,” is why the agency excels.

“I believe much of our success comes from loving what we do,” said Tammy. “We are blessed to be surrounded by tremendous clients and amazing agents.” Testimonials from satisfied customers praise the pair’s professionalism, intelligence, honesty, and communication skills. Said one, “This is the fourth home in the past four decades I have put up for sale. Kerry outshines other realtors, is extremely likeable, sincerely caring, and tireless. I couldn’t have asked for a better team to represent me.”

“Being able to work alongside Kerry, both professionally and personally, has taught me the value of how integrity, honesty, and a great sense of humor can produce ultimate success,” Tammy said. “She has raised the bar in the real estate industry, and I am proud to call her my partner.”

WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST BUSINESS STRENGTH? A sense of humor!

YOUR IDEA OF THE ULTIMATE DREAM HOME? On the waterfront in Turks and Caicos.

YOUR ALL TIME FAVORITE MOVIE? Rocky

Joseph A. Panepinto, Sr.
President & CEO, Panepinto Properties panepinto.properties.com

This executive really knows his hometown of Jersey City. He began his career there as an attorney, initially working with the Jersey City Redevelopment Agency and other public and private entities committed to positive and growth oriented social and economic change. His Panepinto Properties, since 1977, has been an independently owned and operated real estate development company and a leader in commercial and residential development. Among its high pro le projects are the city’s 70 Columbus, 90 Columbus, and the new Residence Inn by Marriott. In addition to property and asset management and contemporary fine art services for residential, office, and hotel projects, Panepinto works with local and international clients, financial institutions, city and state agencies, engineers, architects, designers, and community members to foster comprehensive processes.

“This illustrious and diverse city is a treasure trove,” said Panepinto, who cited Alexander Hamilton’s original vision for Jersey City as a major regional port. “In Hamilton’s view, as in mine, this place has it all a convenient location on the Hudson riverfront with easy access to seaports and other avenues of transportation.” Smart growth and the redevelopment of abandoned and neglected areas add to what Panepinto calls, “a modern day Renaissance.”

WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST BUSINESS STRENGTH?
Networking. I enjoy interacting and exchanging information and ideas with people on a personal and professional level.

YOUR IDEA OF THE ULTIMATE DREAM HOME?
A villa on the Amalfi Coast.

YOUR ALL TIME FAVORITE MOVIE?
The Francis Ford Coppola screenplay written, Patton, starring George C. Scott.

Jay Harman
Founder and Owner, Atlantic Architectural Millwork / aamwindows.com

This home project guru started selling windows and doors in 1986 as a wholesale distributor, hawking goods to businesses throughout the tri state and beyond. But in 2005, he changed the focus of Atlantic Architectural Millwork, opening a retail and design center on the Asbury Park property.

“For the past 15 years, we have been selling high end quality window products directly to the consumer,” Harman noted. “When I worked in wholesale, I questioned who would want to be in retail and now that I’m here I never want to go back.”

Marketing brands like Marvin and JELD WEN to homeowners, contractors, and architects, Harman said that he enjoys making a connection with buyers.

“Retail allows me to have a much stronger connection with the decision maker and the end user,” he said.
In 2013, he expanded his business and partnered with Prince Lumber, based in New York City, to create Prince Window & Door, which now serves the NYC metro area and Northern New Jersey.

“We increased our footprint and partnered with one of the oldest lumber yards in the country,” Harman said. “It was a great opportunity and an organic match. Together we have joined forces to better serve clients in the area.”

WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST BUSINESS STRENGTH?
Paying attention to our customers, listening to them and helping them achieve objectives.

YOUR IDEA OF THE ULTIMATE DREAM HOME?
My home is not the most important thing to me. I guess it echoes the story of the shoemaker who wears the worst shoes. I pay more attention to the houses I’m working on than I do to my own.

YOUR ALL TIME FAVORITE MOVIE?
Hard to name one, though comedies are my favorite genre.

Jill Ryan
Owner and Design Director, Jill Ryan Interiors / jillryaninteriors.com

The daughter of a draftsman and a Certified Interior Designer, Ryan took her first mechanical drawing class at 13 and has continued furthering her education since, earning a fine arts degree in interior design from e College of New Jersey and a Master of Arts from Montclair University. Her firm offers a full scope of interior design services, including advising, planning, purchasing, and installation.

“What sets us apart is the ability to service both residential and commercial projects, and to develop the best fit plan for our clients’ design goals,” said Ryan, who has more than 20 years of experience and was selected as the winner of the ASID Design Excellence Silver Award in 2014 and 2018. “We want to create the most creative, comfortable, and functional spaces.”

Ryan recently obtained her ReGreen Certification, is focused on the design of healthy and environmentally friendly spaces, and just completed a project with another INDUSTRY Power Player: Eddie Mattioli, of IBO Construction.

“My greatest satisfactions are the reaction and compliments I get from clients, how much they use their spaces, and how we make their lives easier,” said Ryan. “I try to make things as seamless as possible, go above and beyond what they are asking for, and surprise them with something special.”

WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST BUSINESS STRENGTH?
Listening to clients’ goals to meet or exceed their expectations.

YOUR IDEA OF THE ULTIMATE DREAM HOME?
A beachfront place, anywhere.

YOUR ALL TIME FAVORITE MOVIE?
The Wizard of OZ.

Jim Dunn
Executive Vice President, Warshauer Electric Supply and The Lighting Design Center / warshauerlightingdesign.com

An electrical engineer by education, Dunn was working for an electric manufacturer 26 years ago when his customer, Warshauer Electric Supply, hired him to join its team. Today, he has responsibility for the entire company and all of its employees at five locations, including a wholly owned subsidiary at its Tinton Falls headquarters, The Lighting Designer Center.

The Lighting Design Center, which focuses on custom lighting design in homes, boutique stores, and restaurants in New Jersey, was established in 1988. About 10 years ago, Dunn helped facilitate a renovation of the space as well as the growth of its design team. Since then, the Center has been a Lutron 5 star Showroom every year since 2012 and was also named the National Showroom of the Year by Lighting & Decor magazine in 2017.

The company prides itself on “combining lighting design with an exclusive selection of unique products,” which is why you won’t see what they offer in many other places. “Our selection is very exclusive,” Dunn said.

As for the future, The Lighting Design Center has plans to expand its website sales nationally. He revealed: “We have such great, unique brands we’re going to hit a home run selling across the country.”

WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST BUSINESS STRENGTH?
I value my employees more than I value our products or our operating procedures. I think people are our greatest asset, and I treat them that way. If you value employees and treat them as your most valuable assets, you’ll get a lot of loyalty, hard work, thought, and ideas. I think our success is due to our people. We have very low turnover here, and hopefully that’s one of the reasons why.

YOUR IDEA OF THE ULTIMATE DREAM HOME?
Any place where you can hear or smell the ocean. One of my favorite things to do is run on boardwalks…where I can see and smell the ocean.

YOUR ALL TIME FAVORITE MOVIE?
I have a private pilot’s license, so one of my bucket list things to do is to land a fighter jet on an aircraft carrier. So based on that, my all time favorite movie is Top Gun.

Sean McGeogh
Executive Vice President, Wheels Up / wheelsup.com

Wheels Up, a Manhattan based aviation company, specializes in making private flight a reality for more individuals and companies. A former VP of North American sales at Aerion Corporation where he sold the first feet of supersonic business jets to Flex Jet worth $2 billion dollars McGeough also served as CEO of Nextant Aerospace, where he helped introduce the first remanufactured business jet concept. He started his career at Hawker Beechcraft, living overseas in South Africa, Switzerland, and England before he became its President of the Eastern Hemisphere and returned to the United States. Over this time, McGeough fostered new relationships with General Electric, Garmin, and Jet Aviation to enhance the company’s capabilities and raise its pro le in the industry. He also orchestrated high profile sales with the PGA and NASCAR boosting global PR coverage by 300%, increasing brand awareness in all regions globally.

McGeough holds a master’s degree in business administration from the Florida Institute of Technology, where he wrote his thesis on the commercialization of supersonic technology for business aircraft. He is also a licensed airline transport pilot with 6,000 hours of flying time, and a former board member of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association and the Remanufacturers Industries Council. He is also an active member of the Young Presidents’ Organization.

He lives in Red Bank with his wife, Mary, and their five children, Ava, Lana, Evita, Finn, and Tristan.

WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST BUSINESS STRENGTH?
Finding the best people to win together. I’ve been fortunate to find great talent in some of the most interesting places in the world, and am privileged to see their careers advance.

YOUR IDEA OF THE ULTIMATE DREAM HOME?
Somewhere on a beach where I could park my seaplane in the front yard.

ALL TIME FAVORITE MOVIE?
Quiet Man and Top Gun. I think John Wayne would have made a great Maverick.

Kim Guadagno
CEO and President, Fulfill / Board Director, OceanFirst Bank President, The 200 Club of Monmouth County / fulfillnj.org

New Jersey’s first Lieutenant Governor, and Secretary of State from 2010 to 2018, Guadagno has been a lifelong pioneer and leader, with additional positions including Monmouth County’s first female sheriff, a federal prosecutor with the Organized Crime and Racketeering Strike Force in Brooklyn, a federal corruption prosecutor in New Jersey, as well as a law partner and now head of Fulfill, formerly the FoodBank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties.

“Service is the underlying thread in every role I’ve held,” said Guadagno. “Now, I’m focused on feeding our neighbors the one in ten people who don’t know where their next meal is coming from.” During her tenure as Lieutenant Governor, she worked to bring New Jersey out of the Great Recession cutting unemployment, leading efforts to attract and retain businesses, and keeping jobs here by founding the public/private New Jersey Partnership for Action.

She and her husband, retired judge Michael Guadagno, have three sons, Kevin, a F35 fighter pilot and Captain in the U.S. Air Force; Michael, a Dartmouth College graduate who works in finance, and Anderson, in his first year of study after high school. She currently sits on several public and private boards focused on non profit work.

WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST BUSINESS STRENGTH?
Adaptability. You have to work harder, take risks, and adapt to the environment you are in to survive… or you won’t.

YOUR IDEA OF THE ULTIMATE DREAM HOME?
Other than my home here at the Jersey Shore, of course? A place with a deck and a guest cottage in Key West.

YOUR ALL TIME FAVORITE MOVIE?
Is there any other movie than Casablanca?

Jessica Nelson
Realtor, Liberty Realty / libertyrealty.com

After helping her parents sell their home, this go getter decided to pursue a career in real estate.

“I felt the industry lacked well educated, hardworking professionals,” Nelson noted. “I was a new mother, single and raising twins, and in need of some career reinvention. I knew with my education and Wall Street background that I could do well in this field.”

She became licensed in 2014 and worked with Sotheby’s before moving to Liberty Realty three years ago. During that time, she has served on both its Grievance and Community Service Committees, and is also a member of the young professionals board of the National Association of Realtors and was voted realtor of the year in 2018.The best part of her job?

“I enjoy achieving results that people didn’t think were possible,” she said.

In addition to her work as a realtor, Nelson is the founder and CEO of My Buddyguard Inc., a nonprofit in Hoboken dedicated to enhancing the security of domestic abuse victims.

“A victim of domestic violence is at most risk within 24 hours of leaving their abuser,” she noted. “My work with Buddyguard aims at pairing victims with veterans or those who are retired from law enforcement to provide both physical and emotional protection.”

A survivor of domestic violence herself, Nelson says the cause is close to her heart.

“I escaped a very violent situation and my ‘Buddyguard’ was my fierce 100 pound mother. She saved my life,” she concluded. “Data wise, I am an anomaly; I have been given many blessings and this opportunity, so I am here to help others. I feel as though it is my responsibility to show other victims that you can make it and be successful. Life goes on.”

WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST BUSINESS STRENGTH?
In my opinion, what defines luxury is service. What separates me from my competition is this very concept. I have assisted hundreds of clients, therefore I can anticipate their needs before they even realize what they need.

YOUR IDEA OF THE ULTIMATE DREAM HOME?
Most people would expect me to say something like a mansion along the Champs Élysées or an oceanfront penthouse in South Beach, but actually I’d love a cabin in Minnesota with acres of land, where I can shoot in the woods, have the space to rescue standard poodles, and enjoy the simple comforts of country life.

ALL TIME FAVORITE MOVIE?
A League of Their Own, of course!