Arkad Capital

Nomination from Edna Bird

We decided to put our money into real estate during the pandemic. We were terrified we made a mistake, thankfully we were in good hands.

They not only put our mind at ease but were able to close deals quickly in the Covid world. They adapted their business model quickly and utilized technology to make us feel connected at all times.

Union County Small Business Community Champion’s Story

I am a father of 2, son and husband and devoted catholic. I started and run the ONLY LATINO owned hard money lender in New Jersey. I am also the Chairman of the Downtown Plainfield SID (business owners association) and a Commissioner for the Plainfield Historic and Preservation Commission. Additionally, I am a real estate advisor to the Mayor Mapp.

About 4 years ago we decided to diversify and launch our own private lending company (hard money), Arkad Capital, with the intent to cater to investors of all sizes. Our goal was to bring to the market a product that was affordable, understandable & efficient.

As borrower’s ourselves, we felt that the industry needed some improvement. Fees were high & rates were astronomical! We were able to cut the cost of rates, eliminate junk fees, & open opportunity to entry level investors.

Our already existing branding (Arkad) was another catalyst for rapid growth & success, as we launched the co, a lot of our initial borrowers’ were people whom we had already done business with in NJ. They felt extra comfort because one of their “own” was lending to them. I have been buying and developing real estate in NJ for 15 years.

Covid was a challenge for real estate, especially for a startup like ours. Although we had always been social media progressive, the pandemic forced us to pivot. It was customary for us to set up large gatherings at hotels where real estate investors meet; as it was to meet with clients at our offices face to face.

When Covid came all this had to change so we pivoted to automation, social media presence & marketing. We created a weekly “Virtual Happy Hour” on Facebook Live. Our input & knowledge sharing has allowed us to have a farther & affordable reach than any hotel gathering ever did.

As re went online, so did we. We created protocols to become part of a large amount of online groups all around the nation. With the aide of our marketing & sales team, we expanded our services to people all across the US that never thought they could be qualify for a loan like ours.

We geared up technologically & took all of our meetings to a prescheduled 1 on 1 zoom format. We started to realize that by keeping information organized, sharable & up to date by integrating a CRM, in addition to putting out concise digital marketing, we can continue to grow our audience & scale. We now have the MOST FOLLOWERS on FB and IG vs our local competitors.

I enjoy sharing my hands on experience on the RE investing side as an added value to the financing side when speaking with clients/borrowers. I get to give my input & touch the lives & business decisions of hundreds of real estate investors weekly. I get to handcraft the safest & most affordable loan in hopes of a win-win outcome. They get to grow their investment career, while I get to scale. It’s a beautiful thing to grow together. Secondly, knowing that our hard lending company is the byproduct of our real estate investment story inspires me & others every day.

Parker Interior Plantscape

Nomination from Randle Cullen

My mother is a nurse in a local hospital and came home one day with a beautiful plant. She had just had a rough day and cried when I asked her about the gift.

I was so surprised that a local business would selflessly give such a nice gift. It meant more to her than you would have known. It gave her a nice distraction to keep her mind off of things. She’s not one to have a green thumb but when she called they patiently talked to her.

Thank you Plantscape for giving to those who keep us safe.

Union County Small Business Community Champion’s Story

Parker Interior Plantscape has been a local business in Union County for over 75 years (Scotch Plains, now Plainfield), its 3 generations of family members grew up and reside in Union County, and we employ over 70 people.

During the pandemic, we were hit especially hard since we service live plants in commercial buildings and hospitality venues that were vacated. We were in a fortunate position to retain all of our staff, guarantee hours that were reduced involuntarily, and paid extra to our frontline workers.

We worked with customers to keep their plants alive, and donate plants that were pre-grown for them that they were unable to use to local hospitals to give away to staff that battled on the frontlines. We are thankful to our staff and customers who made this all possible.

Ponche Suizo

Nomination from Antoinette Brevard

Xavier has shown so much resiliency and tenacity in being diligent to keep this business up and running. At great personal expense he remodeled the storefront he now occupies and overcome several obstacles to finally open his business on March 6, 2020 which was only a week before mandatory shut down due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

As he continues to strive to serve the Ecuadorian specialty drink along with tasty sandwiches, he also had to take a full-time job to keep his business afloat. His positive attitude and persistence is what makes him a champion.

StarRehabs Inc.

Nomination from Dara Queen

I’m thankful that StarRehabs was able to help me during a very low point in my life. Covid hurt not only people like myself but businesses.

They were able to help me get back on my feet while I was out of work. They kept me positive about my recovery while making me feel safe to be there!

Union County Small Business Community Champion’s Story

StarRehabs is a Minority Woman owned business in Plainfield, NJ. The Physical Therapy and Occupation Therapy clinic treats geriatrics, adults and pediatric patients suffering with injuries, stroke, balance disorders, autism. Due to lack of jobs most patients in the community cannot afford high insurance costs but we continue to provide treatment for free so that people can get back to their jobs and their active lifestyle.

To maintain costs Dr. Rozario employed 3 single moms and mentored and trained them to make a career in the medical field. Dr. Rozario and her team at StarRehabs have risked their lives and worked fearlessly during the peak of the pandemic to provide medical treatment to patients that have recovered from Covid.

Queen City Coffee Roasters

Nomination from Antoinette Brevard

Queen City Coffee Roasters is a unique coffee shop that celebrated its grand opening on October 31, 2019 just a few months before ordered closed because of the Covid pandemic.

The owner has been very optimistic about the future of Plainfield where he has started this business and generously gives back to the community in several ways including a holiday toy drive for children in need.

He also gives guidance to new business owners that he encounters by walking them through some aspects of the local regulatory process.

This rich advice give them a considerable advantage which is one reason he is a community champion.

Union County Small Business Community Champion’s Story

When we opened Queen City Coffee Roasters, someone once told me that “it doesn’t get easier, you just get better at it.” They were right. We opened four months before a global pandemic, and that experience has given us a lot to be thankful for each day. Our community, teammate’s and vendors were an inspiration for us to continue operating Queen City Coffee Roasters knowing we had become an important part of their daily life and that our team and our suppliers counted on us.

Going into Mach 2020, we were really beginning to hit our stride as a business and had over 15 events planned at the shop! We didn’t realize the gravity of the situation until we had to cancel all events and regroup as a team to figure out what we were going to do. Should we shutter for a few months or take the proper precautions, provide to the community, and give our business a chance? It didn’t take long for us to double-down and decide as a team that we were going to not only survive the pandemic but thrive.

First, it was all about safety for our teammates and our customers. This meant ensuring the team had the proper masks, gloves and ventilation, and that all customer orders were taken via our mobile ordering site which was up and running within days! Curbside pickup became the new normal, and luckily technology made this easier. As a mom of 2, I appreciate the convenience of not having to get out of the car while being able to still maintain my small sense of normalcy by grabbing my daily coffee.

After a few weeks of adjusting to our new normal, the coffee shop was noticeably slow. Many of our wholesale clients were beginning to shutter operations for a few months winding down an important revenue stream for us. It was time to figure out a new game plan.

E-commerce became a major new focus for us after this point. We realized that if our customers can’t come to us, then we need to come to them. We began shipping coffee nationwide and getting really creative with our marketing. It was working! We offered a subscription allowing customers to select whether they wanted to replenish their beans weekly or monthly. We now have a team dedicated to the online business!

Our website even started offering our customers ways for them to feel like they were playing a role in the fight against Covid by sponsoring coffee for frontline workers like nurses, doctors, and other hospital workers. Remember those businesses that were closing? We reached back out and offered flexible payment terms and additional help once they were ready to open their coffee shop or restaurant back up. This goodwill paid dividends and helped bring on new clients!

Through it all, we never stopped serving our customers. They got us through this. Even during such a tough time, our customers showed up every time. We collected over 100 letters for the elderly during Thanksgiving. We collected over 250 gifts for the children of Plainfield during Christmas that were then distributed by the local Plainfield organization, Angels for Action.

We continue to support local artists by featuring their work for sale in our shop. We even started featuring NJ bakeries every week.

We realized how important community support really was, and we want to thank every single customer that has walked through our door.