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Forecast 2016: Readers offer views on what 2016 will bring

The Rochester Business Journal’s Forecast 2016 survey to gauge local business prospects found generally upbeat sentiment about the coming year.

The survey results, published Dec. 18, showed two-thirds of readers think the outlook for their company and its industry over the next 12 months is positive. A slightly smaller majority—59 percent—said they were optimistic about the prospects for the Rochester-area economy in 2016.

More than 100 readers took part in the Forecast 2016 survey, conducted Dec. 1 to 11.

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. In addition, they were asked to detail their views on the prospects for the Rochester-area economy over the next 12 months.

A portion of the responses were published in the Dec. 18 print edition; more appear here. To read all of the comments, go to RBJdaily.com.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 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.

Steven Hogarth
K&H Precision Products Inc.

Outlook for your company and its industry: Yearlong orders have already been placed.

Prospects for local economy: Rochester, so-so. With Internet, email and other media, a lot of our business is outside Rochester.

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.

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.

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.

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?

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 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.

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 support 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 a 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 lesson 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.

1/4/2016 (c) 2016 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email rbj@rbj.net.


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