Baker Tax & Accounting Services

Nomination from Latoya Wali

Baker Tax & Accounting Service has been a pillar in the community.

Baker Tax went above and beyond during COVID-19 period by assisting local union county business with services to help them to stay open and to apply for the PPP loans during this time.

Baker Tax is our hero.

Union County Small Business Community Champion’s Story

Baker Tax & Accounting Services, a woman-owned business located in Linden, NJ, was forced to shutter its doors in March in the peak period of tax season when the coronavirus pandemic prompted a city mandate requiring all nonessential businesses to close.  “But when we closed our doors, we had to come up with different strategies to keep business going and engage with our customers during tax season,” says Mary Baker, CEO of Baker Tax & Accounting Services. “We did know when we would open up again, but we could not wait, because it was tax season and clients’ taxes had to be filed, which is why we did everything we could to continue to bring in sales.”

Baker Tax & Accounting Services learned quickly on how to be resilience.  To stay afloat, we adapted on the fly and found creative ways to change our operating models.  One of our main concern during COVID is how do we provide the same service to our clients without in-person appointments. 

Because we service, many of the small businesses in the community, we had to adjust to the changes COVID-19 had created for their businesses as well.  “We had to revamp our service strategy to innovate in-store services by including contactless transactions and to go services to address public safety concerns.”

Baker Tax & Accounting Services adjusted quickly and implemented telephone and video meetings for their clients.  Most of the clients love this process to prepare taxes out of the comfort of their homes and appreciated this new service, thanks to the government to allow this service.

During COVID it gave the company a better picture of how the small businesses in the community was surviving or will they survive during this time of pandemic.  So, we decide to assist as many small and mid-size businesses in qualifying for EIDL, PPP and Government grants and loans.  We have help businesses to receive over 1 million dollars in grants, loans, and loans forgiveness.

Baker Tax & Accounting Services is blessed to have the clients they have and without them we would not be in existence for over thirty years.  

Being able to adapt and pivot has helped many small businesses ride out the pandemic. Yet the worry is still there.

TeliApp Corporation

Nomination from Dani Armstead

TeliApp is the webmaster for the City of Linden. During the pandemic, they went above and beyond making sure that pertinent information was on the website to the extent that people started relying on the City’s website as an all-in-one place to access COVID-19 related information. They embedded live content and analytics from the CDC, the NJ Department of Health, John Hopkins University and the COVID-19 Data Explorer.

Josh and his team at TeliApp made the City’s summer camp webpage so interactive and so functional that the City of Linden’s Department of Parks & Recreation won an award from the New Jersey Recreation and Park Association for its Virtual Summer Day Camp Website. We are grateful to Josh and everyone at TeliApp for always going above and beyond, for their deep love of their work and always looking for reasons to say yes. 

Nomination from Rebecca Tattoli

Josh Weiss is the founder and CEO of TeliApp Corporation, a technology solution provider. Josh, his family and his business took the pandemic seriously. They started wearing masks and developing sanitization, contact-distancing protocols and remote working solutions a month before the CDC did. TeliApp scaled back outgoing marketing efforts, and Josh, his family and team stopped attending face-to-face meetings and events. Predicting how the pandemic would affect us all, they turned their focus to technology solutions they predicted the industry would need. During the pandemic, Josh’s firm TeliApp applied for and won various technology contracts with municipalities, including cloud-migration contracts so that municipalities can operate at peak efficiency, even when remote working is required.

In fact, they even went so far as to develop an Internet solution called FetchPro, which enables remote workers to gain fast, stable and secure Internet access. Long story short, it’s essentially a “super hotspot”, completely outpacing conventional hotspots, and even faster than home WiFi. The idea was that remote workers would need fast, stable and secure Internet access from home, and that they wouldn’t be able to obtain this from their home WiFi, because their home WiFi bandwidth is shared with family members remote working and/or remote learning. Also, they realized that nobody’s home WiFi has the security infrastructure that businesses commonly deploy at the business office. While they initially developed the solution for their own internal needs many years ago, they successfully reengineered and commercialized this service so that others could also take advantage of FetchPro. This past May, the United States Patent & Trademark Office issued a patent for the underlying technology that FetchPro uses.

The pandemic hit everyone in this country hard, including Josh, his family and his business team. And in the face of unprecedented adversity, they considered the pandemic a challenge that needed to be met head on. I’m proud of Josh, his family and his team for not giving up, always having a positive attitude and for considering every challenge as an opportunity to excel. 

Union County Small Business Community Champion’s Story

As was the case with so many small business owners in Union County, COVID-19 hit my business and my family hard. My wife had just given birth to the newest member of our family (Nathaniel) in early February. And instead of the usual visits from grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, everyone – just – stayed home. Nathaniel’s two older brothers Andrew and Elliott could no longer see their friends in or after school, and their older sister Daniella, who was “supposed to be” enjoying her senior year in high school instead had to spend half of it indoors. Life did change. On a personal level, we adapted quickly. As a technologist, I set up work stations for all of my children within a few days, quickly converting our dining room into a Montessori style classroom and lounge. I was actually a little envious that my office wasn’t as well “decked out”. I advised my children’s day school, at which I was a board member, how to quickly migrate to Google Classroom and taught many of their teachers and faculty how to create and manage their online classes. I was happy to set up a similar work station for my wife, who returned to work immediately after her maternity leave came to an end. I quickly realized that without asking for it, I became tech-support for my family and my friends who also needed professional help setting up their @home workstations. 

Our business policy regarding COVID-19 safety precautions were fairly straightforward. If you can work from home, then you shall work from home. We set everyone up @home with dual monitors. My company, TeliApp, had just finished a round of successful pitches with large law and accounting firms for our new service, called Fetch Internet, which enables a Mac or Windows computer to use the fast, stable and secure Internet access from one’s iPhone or Android smartphone; kind of a “super hotspot”. And all of a sudden, instead of moving to the contract phase, everything – just – stopped. While the sales process for Fetch Internet came to an unfortunately grinding halt, we did see it as an opportunity to continue its product development. We certainly grasped how timely our service was, given that all of a sudden millions of homes nationwide did not have a fast enough Internet connection to sustain their dual working household with children @home learning. 

Meanwhile, as COVID-19 struck, we had won a contract to provide website design and web hosting management for the City of Linden. COVID-19 created many layers of complication. As any entrepreneurial small business owner in NJ will tell you, “we do the best we can with what we have”. We successfully relaunched the MVP website within two months, and spent the next quarter making substantial improvements. We embedded information from Our World in Data, the Linden Health Department, the NJ Department of Health, the CDC, Union County Township and John Hopkins University. Within a few days, the COVID-19 Confirmed Case Data and World Data Explorer pages were launched so that Linden residents could have immediate access to the most up to date COVID-19 data. We even created a mechanism in which the Board of Health of the City of Linden could provide us with daily case information so that Linden residents could be as informed as we were simply by visiting the City’s website. 

I sit on the Board of Directors of Linden’s Special Improvement District. As a small business owner in the SID District, I knew how restaurants suffered. Together with the Mayor’s Chief of Staff, Alex Lospinoso, we conceived and championed an idea that once deployed, pumped over $10,000 in revenue to our local food establishments. The concept was simple; spend $50 at any restaurant in our SID District, and choose between receiving either a $50 prepaid VISA (to use anywhere), or a $100 gift certificate toward any of the same food establishments. 

As the global health pandemic evolved, we too evolved the way in which we go the extra mile. Most recently I’ve donated my time and the time of my team members to the City of Linden’s many COVID-19 Clinics, developed through the successful partnership between Mayor Derek Armstead and Super Health Pharmacy. At these clinics we assist from a technology perspective, ensuring that the nurses and health care practitioners have fast, stable and secure Internet access using our very own Fetch Internet service. In May 2021, TeliApp was awarded a patent protecting the technology we innovated to produce our Fetch Internet service. The recent patent award has helped us in the sales and marketing department, and we’re excited to be enabled to help remote workers and learners continue to be productive and maintain their health by reducing/eliminating the risk of exposure to COVID-19. With 5G service, Internet access speeds through Fetch Internet exceed that of one’s home or work WiFi; so unless the business vertical requires a physical presence in a conventional office space, both remote workers and learners are armed with the tools they need to succeed. We all recognize that while remote working is certainly different from the formerly conventional norm, and even if everyone wants to be in the office, we must enable productive remote working and learning in case of inclement weather, acts of God and now of course, global health pandemics. We are pleased that over the last year we have assisted multiple municipalities with migrating their legacy infrastructure to the cloud and we have chosen to refocus and expand our efforts in the public sector. We’re looking to be helpful in multiple verticals, and we believe that both our experience and our expertise uniquely qualifies us to do so. 

We’re humbled to have been nominated for this award. While we always help and go beyond our professional requirements because we love and care about what we do and for whom we do it, it is always both personally and professionally satisfying to be recognized. Thank you.

The Linwood Taphouse

Nomination from John Roman

Yosh and Lori stepped up big during the pandemic. They were constantly giving out food and helping people. During the pandemic, a prolific member of our community became homeless. I was able to talk to John, the owner, and we negotiated a deal to have the gentleman stay at the Linwood (apartments above).

This deal was below market rate but the owners understood that he was a great tenant that would help out and not cause any ruckus. In late March 2020, John and Lori offered half trays of food for $20.00…. The trays could feed a family of 5 and were easily worth $50.00- They did this specifically for people who were going out of work. They helped a lot of people conserve their resources with this and for all of this I would like to nominate them as a Community Champion.

Union County Small Business Community Champion’s Story

Just like the rest of the Country, we began hearing about this virus on the news in late February of 2020. We didn’t realize the seriousness of it until March when our daughters were telling us their school was getting them ready to learn at home virtually.

The media has always scared us with bird flu, ebola, but never has the entire country been shut down (not counting essential workers). When we got the executive order from the Governor that we could only sell take-out, we were shocked and baffled. What would happen to our livelihood? One thing that we realized, we weren’t the only ones going through this. Everyone was baffled.

 We began selling half trays that could feed a family of six. Things like Chicken Linwood, Chicken Parmesan, Cajun Jambalaya, and Meatball & Sausage over Linguini all ranging in price from $21.95 to $24.95. Just enough to keep our lights burning and a cash flow going.

We were able to bring most of our full-time employees back when we got Payroll Protection. With the takeout only, we were able to compensate the tips our bartenders were losing by going off their tip average for the year before.

When the payroll protection ran out, we closed for 2 and half months. We began parking lot dining as soon as they started allowing 25% occupancy indoors, and reopened with a limited menu. Since Memorial Day weekend, Restaurants are able to run at full capacity. It feels like things are getting back to normal.

We couldn’t have done it without our amazing staff!! They are the heartbeat of the Linwood Inn Tap House. Reading stories on social media of people offering to bring food to anyone that can’t go out of their house, and the community rallying to support small businesses has been an amazing and uplifting thing to witness.

We say a prayer that depressing lockdowns, face-mask, and social distancing are a thing of the past.