Panelists included Kenneth J. Better, president of York Scaffold Equipment Corporation, a family-owned business based in Long Island City; Amparo Connors, a Queens College Alumni of 1982 and current president of Allied Personal Services; Audra Fordin, president, owner and operator of Great Bear Auto Repair and Auto Body Shop in Flushing; and Dominic Valente, president of Valente Yeast Company in Maspeth, a company originally created by Valente’s grandfather in 1909.
The panelists were all brought to Queens College to help educate and inform people on ways they can start their own business and on the challenges and concerns facing small businesses in Queens.
Moderating the forum was Joe Connolly, Wall Street Journal reporter, who spoke vigorously about upgrading one’s professional network, noting that it is key in advancing anyone’s business ventures.
Valente discussed keeping up to date with new trends. As someone in the yeast industry, a few years ago he had to dip his hand in the cupcake craze. According to Valente, Organic food is now considered “in.” And in order to expand his business he has to distribute organic products.
Audra Fordin’s challenge was mainly being a female in a male-dominated industry. She spoke about women being able to fend for themselves in such industries. She offers classes to show both men and women how to fix and maintain their cars.
“Not only is business changing, but so is the number of females in what are considered to be male careers,” she said. “It’s important that people realize this. This is no longer a man’s world.”
The panelists, which attracted a packed room in the college's student union, also discussed the importance of making one’s business known by using social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.