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Forecast 2016: Readers generally upbeat on outlook for next year

Two-thirds of readers who took part in the Rochester Business Journal’s Forecast 2016 survey to gauge local business prospects said the outlook for their company and its industry over the next 12 months is positive.

Of the rest, 20 percent rated the outlook neutral and 14 percent said it was somewhat negative. No one rated the outlook for their business and its industry as very negative.

A narrower majority—59 percent—said they were optimistic about the prospects for the Rochester-area economy over the next 12 months. Fifteen percent were pessimistic, while 27 percent were neutral on the local economy’s prospects.

More than 100 readers took part in the survey, conducted Dec. 1 to 11 as part of the Rochester Business Journal’s Forecast 2016 special section. (The complete Forecast 2016 special section appears in today’s RBJ print edition.)

Survey participants also were asked to describe the outlook for their company and its industry over the next 12 months, including the biggest opportunity and challenge for their business in 2016. And they were asked to detail their views on the prospects for the Rochester-area economy over the next 12 months.

The readers’ responses appear below.

Jim Stefano
Synergy Global Solutions

Outlook for your company and its industry: The IT industry and implementation of technology is changing at a rapid pace. Our customers from enterprise accounts to small businesses and non-profits are applying new technology in a variety of ways. They are seeing improvement in service delivery while reducing costs and risk mitigation.
Biggest opportunity, challenge: The opportunity and the challenge is to anticipate what new technology best serves our customers. Synergy needs to focus our efforts, and to develop the expertise and skills to support the application of technology.
Prospects for local economy: I have not seen as much and varied new business activity in the Rochester area since I moved here in 1980. I am excited about the coordination between our colleges and universities in Upstate New York that is helping create new businesses.

Donald Chesworth
Harris, Chesworth, Johnstone & Welch LLP

Outlook for your company and its industry: Because New York is not a business-friendly state, there are not many new companies being started and some of the old standbys are leaving the state. High taxes and excessive regulation cost businesses too much and there are much more favorable places to do things. Also, as the state continues to pick winners which become losers, the natural order of things is skewed. Lower taxes for all would be a major incentive to business. Biggest opportunity, challenge: We need to try to be more efficient and reduce costs; that is the only way we can survive a contracting economy. The biggest challenge is that there are too many attorneys for the amount of work to be done.   
Prospects for local economy: I think that Rochester is on a downward slide and that it is no longer an attractive place to do business. The crime problem is getting worse with no progress in sight. Costs continue to rise for most businesses while a select few get tax breaks and subsidies, which makes for unfair competition. State government taxes us to death and gives help to companies which often do not need the help. The spiral is ongoing.

Roger Brandt
Rochester’s Cornerstone Group Ltd.

Outlook for your company and its industry: We are very positive about the future. We plan three starts of new apartment communities.
Biggest opportunity: the development of two apartment communities, market rate, in the region.  Biggest challenge: The same.   

Richard Dorschel
Dorschel Auto Group, Upstate Auto Credit and Clearwater Credit Corp.

Outlook for your company and its industry: Volume is steady and tax and regulatory environment is awful!
Biggest opportunity, challenge: The used-car business and parts and service business.
Prospects for local economy: We must reduce personal, corporate income taxes to compete!! We need manufacturing jobs and tech industry growth to create quality jobs and attract youth.

Michael Margarone
DeCarolis Truck Rental Inc.

Outlook for your company and its industry: Our business remains brisk, but I believe interest rates will increase prior to year end.
Biggest opportunity: Companies continue to look to outsource their transportation needs.
Biggest challenge: People will be the biggest challenge. It is difficult to find qualified techs to service and repair trucks.

Sameer Penakalapati
Avani Technology Solutions Inc.

Outlook for your company and its industry: We are a software product development and consulting firm, and we bring solutions to automate business process, increase productivity, and (offer) mobile enabled solutions. For the companies preparing to change the way they operate to be relevant in their industry by investing in technology and software solutions, we are going to take advantage of that trend being a forerunner in providing such solutions.
Biggest opportunity: Continuous change in technology and the way businesses are going to operate in next five to 10 years; everything is going to change, (and) that’s a huge opportunity.
Biggest challenge: Skilled resources, and capital to develop products.
Prospects for local economy: I am very bullish, and hope that local businesses continue to innovate and bring new jobs to the local economy.

Ken Rosenfeld   
eHealth Technologies

Outlook for your company and its industry: As the need to improve the patient experience while reducing the costs of health care (increases), particularly for care transitions, our market opportunity will continue to grow very well through 2016.
Biggest opportunity, challenge: We have a huge opportunity to grow our services in large health care enterprises, and that brings our greatest challenge, and that is to scale cost-effectively while maintaining our high level of customer satisfaction. This takes a lot of hard work and tremendous teamwork to be successful. Any slip-up can have a dramatic effect on our goals for growth.
Prospects for local economy: I see activity in the entrepreneurial and high technology space in Rochester, but not enough. The community needs to continue to support companies that can grow and add technology jobs in Rochester, as that will help create a positive cycle that keeps skilled people here, including graduates from RIT and UR.

Tammy Wilkes
Mirror Show Management

Outlook for your company and its industry: We anticipate our business increasing and adding to staff over the next 12 months.   
Biggest opportunity, challenge: They are one in the same—diversifying our client base.
Prospects for local economy: I believe there are a number of small businesses and startups with great potential in the Rochester area.

Dom Pullano
PCM Associates Ltd.

Outlook for your company and its industry: The financial services industry will see more growth as a change in interest rates develop. Individuals, retirees and small businesses will be looking for more guidance managing the changing financials.
Biggest opportunity: The management of retirement dollars.
Biggest challenge: Government regulation that adds additional costs to smaller businesses. This makes competing more difficult and promotes too big to fail.
Prospects for local economy: Nothing is being done to improve education. Crime is still too high, and the liberal Democrats under David Gantt see the city as their personal domain.

Alan Braun
Genesee Country Village & Museum

Outlook for your company and its industry: As a not-for-profit, it continues to be a challenge annually to meet expectations.
Biggest opportunity: To market GCV&M in 2016 as it is our 40th year anniversary.
Biggest challenge: To meet and exceed expectations for 2016 financially.
Prospects for local economy: With all the recent announcements of financial support to our region, we can only hope it will trickle down to GCV&M.

Elizabeth Thorley
Thorley Wealth Management

Outlook for your company and its industry: (Our) company is growing at a rate greater than 10 percent. Industry is experiencing a double-digit growth rate as baby boomers retire in greater numbers
Biggest opportunity: Providing advice to individuals retiring in greater numbers and wealth transfer that is occurring (from) one generation to the next. 
Biggest challenge: A declining financial adviser population. Many seasoned advisers are retiring, but the growth in new advisers has not kept pace to replace and grow the profession.
Prospects for local economy: Rochester is not creating enough new jobs to support a young population. High cost of living and doing business in New York discourages entrepreneurship.

Peter Pecor
RochesterWorks Inc.

Outlook for your company and its industry: Expect levels of funding to be secure in the workforce development area with the implementation of new legislation.
Biggest opportunity: Opportunity is in preparing future workers for positions that are in demand. Biggest challenge: Identifying willing employers to list openings with us and to hire future workers who need to develop more skills and experience.
Prospects for local economy: I hope that some of the initiatives in the identified careers and industries that were highlighted as having a future start to grow and hire.

Charles Hilbert
Keller Williams Realty Greater Rochester

Outlook for your company and its industry: Our company has adjusted to the new economy and new business principles to survive and thrive in the real estate market that is moving back to a buyers’ market. The Rochester real estate market is shifting as well as you see high-end apartments being built and fewer single-family homes. We are adjusting how we are doing business going forward to continue to grow.
Biggest opportunity: To articulate our defining difference from traditional real estate companies to everyone in the region. When this happens, we will grow by 50 percent and 60 percent in every category.
Biggest challenge: Property taxes, and with current climate, we as a whole region have very little opportunity for appreciation in our homes.
Prospects for local economy: Rochester has an infrastructure to bring companies into our region.  This takes strong leadership and guts to make changes. Once leadership shows itself to the public in a way that we all believe in them, Rochester will come back to prominence. The next 12 months will be the same as 2015—stable (but) little to no growth.

James A. Tacci, M.D.
Outlook for your company and its industry: I am in the health care industry as well as the legal industry; both have tremendous growth potential over the next 12 months.
Biggest opportunity: Helping employers deal with issues of employee health and productivity.  Biggest challenge: Increasing regulatory burdens.
Prospects for local economy: We have the local talent and infrastructure, but the cost of doing business in New York State (and Rochester) remains too high.

G. Joseph Votava Jr.
Seneca Financial Advisors LLC

Outlook for your company and its industry: We anticipate slower growth in the economy, similar to the last couple of years. Our business model in the services sector we are in gives us an advantage over our competitors, so we expect to do a bit better in terms of top- and bottom-line growth versus our peers.
Biggest opportunity: A growing national and local economy, along with lower energy costs and relatively low interest rates, will continue to allow businesses and the individuals who own them to grow.
Biggest challenge: Finding highly skilled employees to build our business, and finding the “right” marketing approaches to generate ideal clients.
Prospects for local economy: I think the real estate development in the downtown core is positive, along with the promise of the photonics investment, etc. And the general base of smaller, closely held companies here in our area should allow them to outperform some of the multinational companies located in other communities. Rochester still has a major issue with poverty and the city schools, which needs continual focus and resources (and) which will tend to hold back our economic growth.

Rob Brown
ESOP Plus: Schatz Brown Glassman LLP

Outlook for your company and its industry: Our business provides exit planning solutions for small business owners on a national basis.
The aging of the baby boomer bulge is a positive demographic trend that will continue to increase the demand for our services.
Biggest opportunity: The aging of small business owners.
Biggest challenge: To educate other trusted advisers about the advantages of employee stock ownership plans.
Prospects for local economy: Rochester continues to work through its transition from a headquarters town to a branch office town. Current initiatives to prop up the economy with vaguely defined government largess are not a promising long-term solution. We need to re-create a business climate that is conducive to the monetization of invention. This will remain a challenge so long as New York continues to subsidize the middle class on an ever-shrinking tax base.

Matthew McDermott
Vittorio Menswear & Tuxedo

Outlook for your company and its industry: We expect an increase in our wedding and special event business in 2016. An improved economy and a shift in consumer interest in supporting locally owned businesses over chain store offerings will help.
Biggest opportunity: Expanding our merchandise selection to suits, accessories and other less formal apparel.
Biggest challenge: Our wedding business (because of) the slowly declining marriage rate.
Prospects for local economy: We’re bullish on Rochester’s economic prospects over the next 12 months. The continued strength among small and midmarket business will continue to buoy things.

John Mechetti
Mechmar Industries Inc.

Biggest opportunity: New customers and new opportunities from existing customers.
Biggest challenge: Finding good, reliable employees that want to have a career in manufacturing.
Prospects for local economy: Rochester still maintains the talent and resources to be a viable area for manufacturing.

Mike Alt
SiGNa Chemistry Inc.

Outlook for your company and its industry: We participate in the enhanced oil recovery business sector. With more than two-thirds of the oil is still in the ground, and with oil prices below $50 a barrel, this is an attractive space to reclaim oil in existing wells.
Biggest opportunity: To gain customer acceptance of our technology. We are doing first trials,  December 2015 to February 2016.
Biggest challenge: To get our brand new plant up to capacity in time to meet customer orders. Prospects for local economy: N.Y. still is not a business-friendly state, and Rochester suffers from being a small city in this state, and not easy access for out-of-state companies. There is still a stigma associated with doing business in N.Y.

Eve Elzenga
Eve Elzenga Design

Outlook for your company and its industry: As consumers at the upper echelons gain confidence in the economy, they are spending more on perceived luxury items. Interior design and home improvement is looked at as luxury.
Biggest opportunity: Tapping into my niche market: older adults ready to downsize. And people in Rochester are reaching that point in greater numbers every day.
Biggest challenge: Convincing people that buying well-made, quality products is going to enhance their life. Instead of buying cheap things three times over, they buy excellent once and enjoy it.
Prospects for local economy: My business is geared to a demographic that is rooted here and has disposable income and savings. So my market is guaranteed. But the general population is still suffering. I keep wondering who are all these people who are going to purchase “luxury condos” in downtown Rochester? That seems a very finite group. Especially if you exclude all the suburbanites who are scared to come into the city. Most importantly, where are the new businesses and how well will they treat young people of diversity?

Bud Phillips
Ridge Road Fire District

Outlook for your company and its industry: The public sector will continue to struggle with finances due to continual increases in health insurance and the state-mandated retirement payments.
Biggest opportunity: For an increase in overall assessment and that (Eastman Business Park) becomes totally viable with new businesses
Prospects for local economy: I am fairly optimistic that we are going to see a period of stability over the next couple of years.

Gene Tonucci
Allen-Bailey Tag & Label Inc.

Outlook for your company and its industry: We compete on a national level for customers. With the increases in minimum wage coming there is no way I can be positive for our outlook because a number of our competitors will not need to pay this rate and raise prices. In addition, we are starting to see and feel some cost increases that will push our prices higher and probably make us less competitive.
Biggest opportunity: For us, (it) would be a resurgence of the manufacturing sector.
Biggest challenge: Finding new customers along with cost escalation (wages, health care, etc.)
Prospects for local economy: The $500 million economic development award from the state should help.

Dresden Engle   
Dresden Public Relations

Outlook for your company and its industry: PR continues to see high growth, as businesses and non-profits focus on storytelling and engagement across many platforms.
Biggest opportunity: Expanding the events side of PR services.
Biggest challenge: Balancing sound financial health while being ethically responsible to not overcharge customers.
Prospects for local economy: I admire the many heroes of Rochester’s downtown revival: Buckingham, Morgan, Gallina, DHD Ventures, Pike, but I am troubled that the tallest city buildings, and former world headquarters of Xerox, B&L and Gannett, are not owned by the parent companies any longer.

Bruce Anderson
Alpha & Omega Parable Christian Stores

Outlook for your company and its industry: Brick-and-mortar retail is on a slow decline with pressure from online retail and increased costs of running a store. The largest cost, labor, is being increased at rates that are unsustainable.
Biggest opportunity: The change in leadership in Washington that may release private spending in response to anticipated relaxing of regulations and decreased taxes.
Biggest challenge: Increased fixed costs, especially labor.
Prospects for local economy: Rochester is not growing and is doing nothing to change that.

Robert Dressler
LSI Solutions

Outlook for your company and its industry: (Our) industry is medical devices. LSI Solutions is rapidly growing, especially on the international front. I would expect another record sales year.
Biggest opportunity: Expand major product lines on the international front.
Biggest challenge: Releasing new products into the marketplace
Prospects for local economy: Much rides on the new technology coming to B&L and Sibley Tower.

Terrence Palis
Corporate Communications Inc.

Outlook for your company and its industry: We’re just treading water. The economy has not been good for over seven years and the government keeps finding more ways to tax and fee us.
Biggest opportunity: Working with colleges, universities and non-profits. They keep getting new government money.
Biggest challenge: Keeping up with more costs (especially health care) while not able to charge more.
Prospects for local economy: Lots of small businesses are being created with former Kodak brainpower and should continue.

Joseph Rulison

Outlook for your company and its industry: three+one works with public entities and their bank(s) to navigate through the changing landscape of banking. Our approach is to help both sides of the relationship, the entity and their bank(s), by defining the data, understanding new federal regulations and using cutting-edge technology to identify and achieve significant sources of new revenue and savings. Given our niche focus and national rollout, we expect annual growth of 50 percent or more, year over year, for the next five years.
Biggest opportunity: As three+one continues to expand and develop a national footprint, we expect significant growth in serving public entities, higher ed and community, regional and national banks as they look to work together in dealing with upcoming changes in banking due to state and federal regulations.
Biggest challenge: The rapid pace of change that is occurring with technology and regulations affecting public entities, higher ed and banks on all levels.
Prospects for local economy: The backbone of the Rochester economy is small business. Given the wealth of talent and resources coming from our colleges and universities, coupled with new innovative technologies and services, our region is primed to breed great economic success. As I travel throughout New York State, you get a renewed sense of growth layered with levels of confidence and excitement throughout upstate, with Rochester right in the middle of it. I expect our local economy to outpace the national average by least 2-to-1 over the next 12 months.

Clay Carpenter
Nichols Construction Team

Outlook for your company and its industry: We see strong construction activity in Rochester, specifically related to the charter school movement. Private education at all levels continues to grow and require construction services.
Biggest opportunity: Private education and increased developer activity.
Biggest challenge: Finding young people who are interested in the construction trades (finding skilled labor).
Prospects for local economy: Prospects are good but not exceptional. Photonics and the charter school movement have resulted in optimism, but only time will tell the extent of their impact on Rochester.

Al Schnucker
Schnucker Packaging Inc.

Outlook for your company and its industry: We are seeing an uptick in orders late this year. It looks like 2016 will follow suit.
Biggest opportunity, challenge: Closing machinery orders in the wine industry. We have a lot of competition.
Prospects for local economy: There are many vibrant small businesses in the Rochester area. Their growth will keep our area moving forward.

Stephen Pasquarella
VA Inc. dba Vincent Associates

Outlook for your company and its industry: We are a part of the photonics industry in Rochester.  With the advent of the AIM Photonics initiative, and what it potentially will bring to our community, I have upgraded my general outlook to somewhat positive.
Biggest opportunity: New customer developments that are bringing opportunities to our business in our sector of the photonics industry.
Biggest challenge: The requirements for these opportunities and what could be required in infrastructure development for a smaller company such as ours.
Prospects for local economy: With the advent of the AIM Photonics initiative, potential new opportunities for this industry in Rochester could produce growth in our local economy.  Considering the time line (5 years) on this program’s results, we should hope to see the effects sooner than later.

Dave Crean
AdvizeX Technologies LLC

Outlook for your company and its industry: We provide computing technologies, IT Services and cloud solutions for businesses. We are very busy with our clients assessing their IT strategies that align with their current and future business drivers. Most of our clients are growing and want to streamline their IT to match and scale to their growth.
Biggest opportunity: Biggest growth is IT services supporting clients’ move to the cloud or acting as a software as a service to their internal or external clients.
Biggest challenge: Shrinking IT budgets and the health of our clients’ business growth, or lack of growth.
Prospects for local economy: Rochester businesses need to stay aggressive with their growth plans. 
Jeff Lennox
Archer Communications

Outlook for your company and its industry: Our company and industry expect growth as strategic marketing communications is an ever-changing challenge for companies.
Biggest opportunity, challenge: Reaching new clients who require services we provide.
Prospects for local economy: High level of educational institutions in the area supports continuous growth despite propensity for many highly trained people to seek larger markets.

Tim Brickle
Ruspak Corp. Inc.  
Outlook for your company and its industry: We are growing sales and profits at 10-20 percent per year. Nutraceuticals and supplements continue to grow and will always need their products to be packaged.
Biggest opportunity, challenge: We need to expand the facility and add more equipment. Next biggest challenge will be hiring people to handle the added growth.   
Prospects for local economy: It’s hard to grow when you can’t hire qualified people. That is one of the constant issues we run into, and we don’t see that improving.

Shaunta Collier-Santos
Epilepsy-Pralid Inc.

Outlook for your company and its industry: Our company is positioned to serve individuals with epilepsy, traumatic brain injury and other developmental disabilities. We are prepared for proposed regulation changes that impact services, programs and/or funding streams that may change our current offerings. Our leadership has a strategic framework that allows us to continue adjusting direction as the regulations, funding and individual needs shift.
Biggest opportunity: To create the best living environment for our individuals and to provide the service(s) they need in each of the areas we serve—community services, residential, health homes, etc.—all while increasing awareness of our agency.
Prospects for local economy: There continues to be a need to have more job opportunities and training for Rochester residents. We cannot forget the child care needs and transportation system supports that must be in place for those re-entering the workforce to escape poverty.

Neal Elli
Empire Precision Plastics

Outlook for your company and its industry: The market for my industry, contract manufacturing, is very strong. Manufacturing is back in America.
Biggest opportunity: The optics market along with larger molding projects with assembly.
Biggest challenge: New York State and the negative business practices. This is especially true of the $15/hour minimum wage.  It will really damage the Upstate New York economy.
Prospects for local economy: The NYS-driven $15/hour minimum wage will hurt the manufacturing economy and drag down the region. This, combined with health care reform and the changes to federal overtime pay rules, will (hurt the) market.

Jim Cronin
Classic Fashion Resources Inc.

Outlook for your company and its industry: Consumers are wary of expending discretionary funds.  Obamacare, taxes at all levels, and anxiety over unknown future events are making them conserve resources and have become extremely price-conscious.
Biggest opportunity: To improve customer service in order to keep existing customers loyal.  Biggest challenge: Combating predatory competition by Internet websites.
Prospects for local economy: Rochester has always been economically resilient, but we are under the thumb of Albany, which treats Western New York like a colony of NYC.

Ted Marks
Atwater Estate Vineyards

Outlook for your company and its industry: The wine industry in New York State has potential to grow exponentially if they get support from our legislators to allow wines to be placed on more shelves. Craft beer has grown immensely in New York the last few years and they are allowed to have their products sold practically anywhere, while wines are very restricted to a few outlets only throughout the state. The answer is to allow liquor stores to sell any product they want, while allowing wine the open market that beer already has. Both wineries and liquor stores need to be allowed to reach the needs of our consumers. Thirty-eight states now allow open marketing and New York should do the same.

Kalman Zsamboky
Advance Circuit Technology Inc.

Outlook for your company and its industry: Opportunity in government contracts. Challenge (is) to engage new customers.

Marc Iacona
Simcona Electronics Corp.

Biggest opportunity: Value add and customer exposure to new opportunities.

Alex Gilchrist
Government regulatory agency
Outlook for your company and its industry: My industry (government) will do fine; the industry we regulate (banks) will face tightening conditions.
Biggest opportunity: Highlighting emerging risks as lending becomes riskier.
Biggest challenge: Having anyone pay attention.
Prospects for local economy: Fewer real estate-related imbalances … therefore, lower risk profile.

Thomas Helfrich
Association Solutions Ltd.

Outlook for your company and its industry: Many sectors slow in coming back; some may never again return to ways of doing business pre-recession.
Biggest opportunity: Tough to see any BIG opportunities that aren’t more asset-consuming than risk warrants.

John Duchesneau
Rochester District Heating Cooperative

Outlook for your company and its industry: Our growth is driven by development in the Rochester area—new construction and redevelopment of existing facilities. We are also benefited by lower energy costs making us more competitive.
Biggest opportunity: New developments.
Biggest challenge: Environmental regulation.
Prospects for local economy: Several areas of development continue (including) 88 Elm, 50 Chestnut, Alliance, Terminal, Alexander Park, and many others.

Samuel Doubleday
Blue Rock Energy Services (Syracuse)

Outlook for your company and its industry: Our parent company, Blue Rock Energy, sees growth in the commodity sale of natural gas and electricity, across four states. Our small division also projects growth. We serve industry and commercial entities and help them run their businesses with less electrical energy, removing their fluorescent light bulbs and installing LED bulbs.
Biggest opportunity: We will be starting a solar division, where we will install solar panels in residential, commercial and industrial facilities.

Lisa Smith
Eagles Wings Consulting

Outlook for your company and its industry: I do health care consulting for smaller providers, who very much need just a little bit of guidance on the changes afoot.
Biggest opportunity: Better care = better health = smarter spending for our community.
Biggest challenge:  Change is happening fast.
Prospects for local economy: RMAPI, DSRIP and other initiatives are foundational to our area’s success.

Bob Scott
Bob Scott Productions Inc.

Outlook for your company and its industry: Accounts of all sizes are in need of services that were not previously as necessary or available. For Bob Scott Productions, this is a great opportunity. Most of the needed services involve the ever-evolving new media and how people are consuming information or entertainment. For the advertising/marketing industry, success is only limited by imagination, dedication to service and the commitment to the return on investment for clients. Those willing to recognize the learning curve and offer affordable services to clients will see growth. The key is to remain honest and humble. Those who insist they know everything that is needed to know about the new media are either delusional or not serving in a client’s best interest. The approach must be serve the client, accept the victories but honestly accept responsibility for failures while being willing to make the necessary changes to achieve success. Overall, the future is very promising and offers great rewards.
Biggest opportunity: Offering affordable online services accessible and functional for clients of all sizes.
Biggest challenge: Designing services that are not a one-size-fits-all approach but capable of serving the different needs of a broad array of clients.
Prospects for local economy: The greatest concern is the over-involvement of government in the affairs of business. The regulatory and committee approach to all projects big and small in association with government officials creates the conditions for the spontaneity or the implementation of solutions to problems to be stifled. Many in appointed positions of government do not have the entrepreneurial experience to judge the actions of those who successfully envision a goal, create a process, gather the resources and then implement the plan efficiently as well as successfully.

Jerry DeLuccio   

Outlook for your company and its industry: We are anticipating doubling revenue in 2016
Biggest opportunity, challenge: Being able to keep up with demand to take fullest advantage of the opportunity.

Damian Kumor
Xerox Corp.

Outlook for your company and its industry: I foresee a consolidation of the industry. The largest companies will likely buy up a few and there may be a merger.
Biggest opportunity: Printing photos will likely see a comeback.

Mike Masiello
Masiello Retirement Solutions

Outlook for your company and its industry: Generally a huge need as 10,000 per day turn age 65 and need retirement planning help.
Biggest opportunity: People retiring and realizing how difficult the decisions are and that they are in fact lifetime and life-impacting decisions. For most people there is no do-over.
Prospects for local economy: With the oppressive regulatory and tax environment that is New York, it is hard to be positive and optimistic!

Joe Sanders
Joseph Sanders Agency Ltd.

Outlook for your company and its industry: Property and casualty insurance has remained stable with slight positive expectations
Biggest opportunity: Making the most of referral business
Prospects for local economy: Medical research and tech research continue to grow, creating jobs.

Jessica Jones
First Niagara

Outlook for your company and its industry: We are being taken over by another bank. Job security is in question.   
Biggest opportunity, challenge: Being taken over. Could be a good thing or a bad thing for me. Prospects for local economy: Rochester overall seems to be doing well. Most people are employed. Quite the change from a few years ago.

Will Condo
Wilcrest Economic Strategies

Outlook for your company and its industry: Being an economic consultant organization, I would say that the need for sustainable economic growth locally will remain a significant goal, but will be difficult to achieve.
Biggest opportunity, challenge: Clients with a realistic economic outlook, solid economic plans, and commitment to success.
Prospects for local economy: We will continue to struggle with competing egos, half-baked or non-existent plans and difficult financing.

Edward Hemminger
Hemminger IT Solutions LLC

Outlook for your company and its industry: I have a strong commitment from a company for more consulting hours.
Biggest opportunity: Consulting with a company doing New York State business.
Biggest challenge: Balancing hours between two clients.
Prospects for local economy: I see business growing in the region.

Scott Osborn
Fox Run Vineyards Inc.

Outlook for your company and its industry: We are expecting strong sales for our products including Canada, the Caribbean and Europe. We expect to be able to raise prices due to increased demand.

Juan Castillo
Alpha Pak

Biggest opportunity, challenge: Online, we need to integrate with the younger generation.   

Kenneth Pamatat
Creative Images Photography   

Outlook for your company and its industry: Bringing out a new product line and feel very positive.
Prospects for local economy: Making sure the new changes for downtown are accepted.

Douglas Sedgwick
Sedgwick Business Interiors

Outlook for your company and its industry: Extremely optimistic going into 2016 to see continued growth in sales. Our company has added staff to help support and to maintain efficiencies. We have remodeled/updated all of our showrooms to display new exciting products for business/education/health care interiors.
Biggest opportunity: We have launched many new products and updated our showrooms to help display the different opportunity for businesses to develop their Living Office.
Prospects for local economy: Continued growth in academia/health care, which has been very strong for us. We have also experienced more activity as of late in the corporate marketplace.

Steven Hogarth
K&H Precision Products Inc.

Outlook for your company and its industry: Yearlong orders have already being placed.
Prospects for local economy: Rochester, so-so. With Internet, email and other media, a lot of our business is outside Rochester

Claire Kaler
K2 Communications Inc.

Outlook for your company and its industry: 2015 was a very good year for us. I don’t have contracts in place for 2016, but things seem to be going in a good direction.
Biggest opportunity: Web, branding, video, illustration.
Biggest challenge: Constantly bringing in new work.
Prospects for local economy: It seems the development going on is fueling a lot of other business.

Joseph DePaolis
Consultative Services

Outlook for your company and its industry: Awful difficult to predict anything without knowing what the Fed is going to do with the interest rate, what is going to happen to the price of oil, and where we are going with the dysfunctional Congress!!
Biggest opportunity: To continue to move forward.
Biggest challenge: To keep all moving forward positively.
Prospects for local economy: Basically, we must quit TALKING a good story and start DOING. Also, let’s NOT blow our opportunities with our newest endeavor—photonics—over greedy political infighting!!

Ronald Rene
Mission Health Concepts Inc.

Outlook for your company and its industry: Health care was already in a fragmented state, but even more so with the enactment of the ACA. In our business we are approaching one point in the health care delivery that is very costly in terms of delivery inefficiencies, patient dissatisfaction and overall economic burden to the economy. Our goal is to build partnerships along the care continuum that reverse the inefficiencies, dissatisfaction and burden in a way that will provide better outcomes. Because health care is so chaotic, it is also ripe for solutions to be provided by companies seeking to combine business principles of limited resources and better value.
Biggest opportunity, challenge: The amalgamation of large health care systems is both our biggest opportunity and challenge.
Prospects for local economy: Over the past several decades with the loss of thousands and thousands of manufacturing jobs, this has been a very steep economic hole to climb out of. It is not necessarily reflected in our unemployment rate but more so in the increase in the poverty rate and overall city decline. There still is no easy or simple answer here, but certainly a better-educated workforce luring private investment and bringing businesses to the area are the main drivers. The issue is the chicken or the egg?

James Toner
Alcott HR

Outlook for your company and its industry: The 2015 growth in hiring, the growth in the complexities of doing business in New York State and nationally generally, much coming from the influences of data sharing programs with the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, commonly referred to as the Stimulus or the Recovery Act, paired with the increases in Department of Labor enforcement and auditors, have all led to 33 percent plus growth year over year for the past five years of our boutique and exclusive platform and solutions—with over 50 percent growth in the Western New York business community alone in FY 2014-2015.
Biggest opportunity: For our clients we can increase the valuation of almost any organization with under 1,000 employees for future VC/angel investments and continued growth. We can support compliance functions throughout our clients’ organizations and prevent liability issues, which are shared with Alcott HR. We can supporting multistate and international growth for our clients, helping them grow their business opportunities locally, nationally and internationally. We can help our clients attract and retain their talent. We are solution for ACA/PPACA/Obamacare in a multitude of ways, even for smaller, under-100-employees businesses. 
Biggest challenge: Gaining the audiences and educating the business community that we’re the best-kept secret and one of the largest employers in Western New York. That “how we do what we do,” for the past 28 years, is intrinsically unique and helpful to so many in Main Street America, small to  medium to larger businesses, under codified law with zero risk to their businesses. Some additional recent federal legal changes are going to make, come 2016, our platform even more viable and valuable for businesses to utilize throughout the entire fiscal year. Yes, education is our largest challenge
Prospects for local economy: The level of sophistication and ingenuity of our Rochester business community, in many areas of the business world, is exceptional. The lacking area, which I believe Rochester is missing opportunities on today, is that many of our support networks for out-of-state businesses evaluating Rochester to set up shop, including our surrounding communities, … are siloed vs. inclusive and are supportive to one another locally. This issue makes it difficult sometimes for the evaluating companies to understand how they’ll directly benefit with a relocation of their businesses and people to Rochester and the surrounding region. I believe Buffalo has provided an example of a more synergistic approach in recruiting international and out-of-state businesses to their region. We don’t need to look any further for the model, which we should attempt to duplicate or at least take a lessons from, whether we copy it exactly or not.

Richard Stankevich
Genesee Country Inn Bed and Breakfast

Outlook for your company and its industry: Our growth in hospitality has been strong through 2015 and (we) expect continued improvement into and through 2016.
Biggest opportunity: Sell more rooms through growth in all areas for our bed and breakfast.
Biggest challenge: To keep the momentum up in offering a great experience at our inn.
Prospects for local economy: Employment is up and all the positive growth with the optic industry.

Daniel Barletta
Daniel P. Barletta DDS

Outlook for your company and its industry: Forecast is for 2 to 3 percent growth compared to current year. This may not compensate for payroll increase.
Biggest challenge: Regulations, whether federal, state or insurance company’s mandates!
Prospects for local economy: Nothing will change. Jobs will be lost but made up somewhere else.

Mike Herrmann
Horizon Solutions LLC

Outlook for your company and its industry: The industrial (manufacturing) market locally and nationally was very soft, particularly in the second half. Dwindling manufacturing in the area and cautious cap-ex spending nationally will impact our customers in 2016. Local commercial contractor business in 2015 was weak and should have a slight uptick in 2016. Energy-efficiency market should continue to grow.
Biggest opportunity: Lighting and mechanical energy efficiency continues to represent a significant opportunity.
Biggest challenge: The soft manufacturing market on our industrial customers and more so our customers who do work for U.S. manufacturers.
Prospects for local economy: In Monroe County, we expect little improvement in the way of manufacturing and limited growth in commercial/industrial-related construction. Fortunately, our larger contractor and machine builder/integrators typically do well outside the area. On the other hand, I see greater prospects in the service, higher education, health care and smaller technology industries.

Chris Modesti
Biomaxx Inc.

Outlook for your company and its industry: We are a company dependent on cold weather. Due to the mild weather, our sales will be impacted.
Biggest opportunity: To make a small acquisition.
Biggest challenge: The milder weather. We sell wood heating pellets.

12/18/15 (c) 2015 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email rbj@rbj.net.


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