Blue Foundry Bank CEO, James Nesci provides insights about the Paycheck Protection Program Phase 2

In the latest episode of GWP’s Constructing Brands podcast, James Nesci shares critical steps business owners must take to be prepared for the next phase of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. James outlines the importance of working with a bank that is the right size for your business, creating a relationship with your bank and ensuring your application is not only complete but accurate. In addition to how businesses can prepare to apply for their loan, James also stresses the importance of allocating funds correctly and keeping diligent records after receiving your loan.

What You Will Learn

  • How to prepare for Phase Two of the Paycheck Protection Program loan process
  • The importance of selecting the right bank for you and having a point of contact
  • Critical tips on how to complete your application
  • Invaluable insights for managing your funds after your loan has been approved

Select the Right Bank for You and Make a Relationship

James explains why working with the right size bank and creating a relationship with your account manager is critical. Small business owners may not have a dedicated CFO, often navigating on their own. This important relationship, offering personalized, one-to-one attention is key and beneficial for your business. In this episode, James dives further into the importance of this valuable relationship.

Make Sure Your Application is Complete and Accurate

As the President & CEO and a Board Member of Blue Foundry Bank, James has first-hand experience from Phase One of the PPP loan process. James stresses the importance of a complete and accurate application. It could be the difference between receiving your loan or experiencing delays with your application. James explains more about this process and what businesses need to know to be prepared.

Keep Records

The process doesn’t end once your loan has been approved. James walks us through critical next steps business owners need to take once receiving their funds.

About James Nesci

James D. Nesci is President & CEO and a Board Member of Blue Foundry Bank, a position he has held since 2018. In addition, he is a Board Member of the New Jersey Bankers Association. During a distinguished career that spans more than 25 years, Jim has demonstrated considerable business acumen and executive-level financial expertise. Prior to his role at Blue Foundry Bank, he served as Head of National Sales for TD Bank. Before joining TD Bank, Jim served as Executive Vice President and Chief Wealth Management Officer of Provident Bank. Additionally, he was President of Beacon Trust, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Provident Bank. Prior to this, Jim was Chief Operating Officer with Wilmington Trust Company, National Wealth Management. Jim earned two separate MBAs from Columbia Business School and the London Business School, respectively, as well as a BBA in Finance from Hofstra University in New York. He lives in Morris County, New Jersey.


Revisiting Your Lease Terms During COVID-19 with Debbie Myers | Building Materials Industry

In the latest episode of GWP’s Constructing Brands podcast, Debbie Myers shares her expertise in real estate to help business owners and business leaders through this challenging time. Businesses that rent space for their company, such as office buildings, warehouses, and showrooms, are struggling and so are landlords. Debbie explains the most effective way to approach your landlord and the importance of having a strategic team of professionals that can guide you.

Don’t Avoid Your Landlord, Start a Conversation

Everyone knows the golden rule; treat others as you want to be treated. This also applies when dealing with your landlord, and helps guide conversations in the right direction. As a result of COVID-19, we know business tenants are struggling, and so are landlords. While it might be your first reaction to avoid your landlord or simply tell them “I can’t pay you,” Debbie explains that there are other, more effective ways to get your point across and reach an agreement between landlord and tenant.

Team Up with Professionals

Business owners and business leaders are dealing with scenarios they have most likely never dealt with before. Not knowing where or who to turn to for answers adds stress to an already uncertain situation. Debbie shares her expertise as a real estate professional and how she is advising her clients at this time. She discusses the importance of consulting with a team of professionals to help navigate through the quickly changing laws and policies. Both legal and financial counsel are crucial during this time and Debbie stresses the value that a real estate professional can bring to your team.

Revisit Your Lease

Debbie expands on the important steps of revisiting your lease in addition to consulting with your real estate professional. Business tenants often overlook key clauses that are critical during extraordinary circumstances such as COVID-19. Knowing these important details can go a long way when talking to your landlord.

About Debbie Myers

Deborah (Debbie) Myers, Managing Director at Newmark Associates, Inc., joined the firm in 1999. Well able to critically identify market opportunities, and creatively structure the economics of business transactions, Debbie brings finesse in strategic planning, marketing, and negotiation skills to her role as Broker-Associate and Managing Director at Newmark Associates. Demonstrating a talent for merging varied business interests towards the desired goal, she offers Buyer/Seller Agency, Tenant/Landlord representation, valuation and consulting services for land assemblage, office, retail and industrial sales and leasing transactions primarily in the Northern New Jersey market, especially in Essex, Morris and Union counties.

What You Will Learn:

  • How to have an effective conversation with your landlord
  • How the CARES Act is influencing the rent factor
  • The importance of teaming up with professionals to guide you
  • The importance of revisiting the terms of your lease with a real estate attorney


Building Materials Industry | Navigating the CARES Act with Stephen Katz

In the latest episode of GWP’s Constructing Brands podcast, we discuss how to approach the CARES Act with Stephen Katz. Stephen is a Partner and Chair of the Corporate Law practice at Peckar & Abramson, P.C. with over 25 years of experience in Corporate Law. In this episode, Stephen is sharing his expertise and support for businesses trying to navigate through the CARES act with very timely advice and information. Stephen will discuss the importance of understanding the CARES Act, teaming up your accountant, submitting your application, loan forgiveness, and staying up to date with the constantly changing policies.

What Do I Need To Know?

As a business leader responsible for making smart decisions, you have many questions: Do I qualify for loan forgiveness? What do I need to be cautious of with The CARES Act? Stephen guides us through the questions to ask to feel confident that your business is getting the assistance it needs. The CARES Act is a loan administered through the SBA, designed to help you keep your employees working. There are certain aspects of the Act that you must be aware of in order to avoid pitfalls. Stephen walks us through the ins and outs of the policy and what a business owner needs to be aware of to protect themselves, their employees, and their business.

What Resources Do I Have?

As a business leader, this may be the first time you are going through a scenario like this, and we hope it is the last. It is difficult to know where to turn for answers and who can help you navigate the application process and policies. Stephen shares his team approach to success and how important it is for both legal and financial experts to join together.

It Is Important To Apply Now

Determining the right time to apply for assistance through The CARES Act is critical. You may need to consider layoffs, reducing staff, and other measures to keep your business running. Should you wait until then to apply? Stephen answers this question that many manufacturers are asking. It is crucial that you apply for your loan as soon as possible. Stephen sheds more light on the importance of applying, when to apply, and why it is in your best interest to do so now.

About Stephen Katz

Stephen Katz graduated from Fordham University School of Law in 1992 and began his career as an Associate with Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel. Stephen then transitioned to his current role as Partner and Chair of the Corporate Law practice at Peckar & Abramson. Stephen has over 25 collective years of experience practicing as a corporate transactional attorney with extensive experience in all areas of corporate law, including mergers and acquisitions, securities, corporate formation, and transaction matters.

What You Will Learn:

  • Defining The CARES Act and how it can help your company.
  • What resources do you have for help and council?
  • What do you need to be cautious of with the Act?
  • What you need to know about loan forgiveness eligibility.
  • The importance of applying as soon as possible.


  • SBA Guide to the CARES Act: SBA Guide to the CARES:
  • U.S. Department of Treasury
  • LinkedIn:

Building Materials Industry | The Importance of Product Development with Jae Pyon

In the latest episode of GWP’s Constructing Brands podcast, we explore how the importance of exceptional product development and a “Focus Strategy” can grow your company. Jae is the President and Co-founder of Durato. Durato has developed superior flooring material that has been gaining popularity with contractors, architects, and developers nationwide. Jae walks us down his path to success, sharing industry insights, tips for identifying your target market, and how to position your product to meet your industry’s needs.

Make product development your priority

Jae’s years of experience have shown him key business insights: developers and contractors are looking for quality, sustainability, and low costs. Jae walks us through creating a “Focus Strategy” that delivers quality materials directly to your target, cutting out the middleman, and mitigating your costs. In this episode, Jae makes it clear that identifying your niche and executing your “Focus Strategy” is crucial to your success in the building materials industry.

Positioning your product for your target

When you make product development your priority, you are free to focus on positioning your product perfectly for your target. In this scenario, Jae’s target is to sell directly to developers and architects. With this in mind, he focused on designing his product to meet a need in their industry. His target audience looks for low cost, sustainability, and quality. Durato offers products that do just that. Oftentimes new construction is more exposed to the elements; UV exposure from uncovered windows, uncontrolled climates due to uninstalled HVAC units, and above-average wear and tear from high traffic areas. In almost all new construction, flooring is the last piece to be installed, with Durato’s product this can now be a thing of the past. Durato offers a product that can stand up to all of the harsh conditions of new construction, allowing flooring to be installed at any point in the process, and at a low price point due to selling directly to contractors and developers. When you focus on product development to specifically answer the pain points in the industry, growth, and success will follow.

About Jae Pyon

Jae graduated from Hofstra University with a degree in Biology. Jae then began a nine-year career with the United States Army. Jae transitioned into corporate leadership roles at AstraZeneca, Target, and Amazon. It was finally in 2014 that Jae came into his current role as the President and Co-founder of Durato International, focusing on developing flooring designed for the heavy commercial new construction segment. During this time, Jae developed both V-EVO and NüWüd brands with Durato.

What You Will Learn:

  • How to make product development a priority
  • How to mitigate costs in development
  • How to narrow focus your product for success


  • LinkedIn:

Building Materials Industry | Prep Your Company for Sale with Don Wharton

While we typically interview business leaders who operate exclusively in the building materials industry, the latest episode of GWP’s Constructing Brands podcast deviates slightly from the norm. Don Wharton joins us to share his experience with selling companies. He provides a president’s perspective on the entire process and lays out invaluable insights for members of the C-suite in building materials companies. Don has served as the Vice President, Finance of Allsteel, President of Gunlocke, and President of Vycom and Scranton Products. While Don may come from a background in finance, Don has a broad scope of the building materials industry as well.

Maximize the Investment

When Don started in the building materials industry with Vycom and Scranton Products the company was owned by a private equity firm. Eventually, it was sold to another private equity firm, but for that to happen, Don and his team had to meet a number of objectives. The goal in this scenario is to maximize the investment before reaching a transaction or a change in ownership. While the existing teams usually operate under a thesis with a set blueprint, changes in the market and other unforeseen events call for decisive action and creativity.

Become More Effective and More Agile

Don’s experience, there are a number of unique factors that must be considered before doing any type of deal in the building materials industry. Aside from meeting the standard metrics and KPIs that serve as a baseline for valuation, Don goes above and beyond to maximize value. He looks for new ways to become more effective to the customer base, and more agile so he can improve the financial results, and those are big picture items. Whether it is marketing, operations, or sales, there are a lot of moving parts to keep an eye on during a merger or acquisition. To learn more about the process, listen to the latest episode of GWP’s Constructing Brands podcast with Don Wharton.

About Don Wharton

Don Wharton comes from a background in finance, beginning with his career at J.P. Morgan Chase. He then transitioned into the building materials industry after taking a position with Moen. Don has also served as the Vice President, Finance at Allsteel, President of Gunlocke, President of Vycom, and President of Scranton Products. During his tenure with Scranton Products, Don successfully oversaw the sale of the company.

What You Will Learn:

  • How to prep your company for sale in the building materials industry
  • How to maximize the valuation of your company leading into a transaction or change in ownership
  • The different functions of marketing, operations, and sales in a merger or acquisition
  • Why you need to maintain your vision, missions, and values throughout the sale process
  • How much of the brand is being sold vs. the books and equipment
  • Don Wharton’s current role as Vice President, Operations for LeafFilter


  • LinkedIn:

Building Materials Companies | Opportunities Through Interesting Times

Eric Lanel explains how even despite an unprecedented pandemic, building materials companies have more opportunities available than ever before. Cutting edge technology allows companies to work remotely from all around the world. Now more than ever we can recognize the value in investing in up-to-date communications technology. He also discusses the crucial significance of having a reliable team to maximize productivity and efficiency, even in times of crisis. It is important for companies to take a moment to reflect on what makes them unique, and how they are positioning their company to their target audience. And finally, it is also a good moment to review online/offline presence. A professional, streamlined website is the first insight a consumer may have into a business.

If you want to see the platforms we use click here

About Eric Lanel

Eric Lanel was born on January 26, 1968, in Queens New York. LANEL an only child and son of Julius a psychotherapist and Barbara a social worker spent many a dinner conversation discussing human behavior. LANEL worked through high school as a mason and started a residential painting company that continued through college. Upon graduating with a degree in marketing from Hartford, Eric worked at CBS Television, Walt Disney Company, and Doubleclick before taking the role of President of GWP Inc., a strategy agency. Today Eric lives in Livingston New Jersey with his wife Francine and daughter Zoe. Eric has two adult sons Adam who works in advertising and Griffin in the building industry. When not working with companies on strategy and developing content he can be found on a golf course or a stream.

What You Will Learn:

  • How to see opportunity in a time of unrest
  • The value in investing in virtual communications technology
  • The value and significance of a reliable team
  • How to consider your image by your target audience
  • The importance of reviewing your online presence


Building Materials Industry | The Transformation of Fire Protection and Fire Safety, with Shane Ray

As president of the NFSA and a former fire marshall in South Carolina, Shane Ray has dedicated his life to fire safety. Prior to coming into his role at the National Fire Sprinkler Association, Shane served as a firefighter for most of his career. He familiarized himself with a handful of different fire protection device and equipment manufacturers that were used both in the field and in the structures themselves. But when it comes to fire protection in the building materials industry, the NFSA is down to just four major players: Tyco, Globe, Reliable, and Viking.

M&As and Consolidation in Fire Safety

Every member of the National Fire Sprinkler Association is devoted to fire protection and saving lives. And while the mergers, acquisitions, and overall consolidation of the equipment manufacturers has resulted in fewer brands, they are leveraging each others strengths to build higher quality components and make the equipment better. We have seen this trend many times in the building materials industry, but in this case, it comes from a combined interest of preventing and suppressing fires.

The Future of Fire Protection and Fire Safety

If you are in the building materials industry, you understand that evolution sparks a grow-or-die mentality. But sometimes it’s a matter of niching down to drive new trends that serve the greater good. The same holds true in fire protection, and tech is another factor that has come into play. Most of the modern sprinkler systems are incorporating more and more electronic components, smart technology, and IoT, so it is creating new opportunities for the NFSA to collect data and determine where they are performing and where they need improvement. To learn more about the transformation of the fire protection industry, listen to the latest episode of GWP’s Constructing Brands.

About Shane Ray

Shane Ray has been a volunteer firefighter since 1984 and a career firefighter since 1994. He has also served as a mayor for six years and the Tennessee Fire Chief’s Legislative Chairman for 12 years. Ray’s love for politics started as fire chief of the Pleasant View Volunteer Fire Department in Tennessee, where he served 13 years. He then served under Governor Nikki Haley in South Carolina as superintendent and state fire marshal. He currently serves as the president of the National Fire Sprinkler Association and is a lifetime member of the Pleasant View Volunteer Fire Department. Throughout his career, he has been committed to public service with a “Do It Different” mentality and that all stakeholders are important.

What You Will Learn:

  • Shane’s role as the president of the National Fire Sprinkler Association
  • What influenced the consolidation of suppliers, contractors, and manufacturers in the fire protection industry
  • How technology has played a role in the evolution of the fire protection industry
  • What the future holds for fire protection equipment based on current trends
  • How the NFSA is utilizing data and analytics to identify new opportunities for improvement


New Trends in Secondary Homes, with Kurt Clason

Building Materials Industry | Evolving with Building Industry Trends

Kurt Clason is the president of K.A. Clason Fine Woodworking, but he has served in many capacities throughout his career. Kurt has been the president of the Maine Homebuilders Association, president of the Lake Region Builders and Remodelers Association, and he spent twenty-four years in the U.S. Coast Guard as well. Kurt is constantly pushing the boundaries of how building materials are used, and he challenges the way the building materials industry operates as a whole. One of the major areas in which Kurt is pushing the envelope is energy efficiency. He is constantly looking for new ways to innovate, increase durability, decrease maintenance, and make his builds more sustainable.

There is Inspiration Everywhere

As we discussed previously, consumers are becoming significantly more educated about the design and construction processes due to the HGTV effect. But contractors are too. While many people take these television shows at face value, professionals in the building materials industry are using them as a source of new ideas and inspiration. Kurt would love to walk around the tradeshow floor gathering information about the latest building products and technologies, but there’s only so much time in a day, and all he has to do is flip on the TV when he gets home from work. These shows fill in the gaps because, for master craftsmen, there is a lot more to them than entertainment.

Technological Proficiency is Key

For Kurt, the HGTV effect also means his team can hold relatively pain-free discussions with their clients because the language barrier that comes with complex technologies and processes is eliminated. Part of the reason for this is because contractors have evolved with technology just as consumers have, so there is a lot more common ground. All of Kurt’s team members operate from a cloud-based system, which is a major opportunity for companies in the building materials industry. Kurt is looking for partners who have the same tenacity for innovation and operating efficiency, not companies who hand them written manuals of stone and chisel. Building materials companies with a strong digital presence have a significant advantage.

About Kurt Clason

Kurt Clason has always been interested in working with wood. Both his Dad and Grandfather had small woodshops in their homes. This love of woodworking continued through high school where he worked with his uncle, while on vacation, building homes. Even while attending the Coast Guard Academy Kurt often did small custom furniture work for customers. The Coast Guard offered him the opportunity of a lifetime by allowing him to specialize in Industrial Management. In this capacity, he oversaw all maintenance, repair, and renovation for the lighthouses off of New England. For 15 years, Kurt managed construction crews doing everything from maintaining the buildings to converting the lights from manual operation to solar control. When he retired from the Coast Guard, he wanted to do something that he was passionate about and would love coming to work every day. Fortunately, he had already been working on the islands part-time, so the decision to go full time was easy.

Today Kurt’s company is a small custom woodworking shop dedicated to working with their clients to turn their dreams into reality. They have a full custom cabinet shop to make any kitchen cabinet or built-in that you want in your home. They also work with you to restore what time has done to your island home. This can range from installing new footings, jacking the house back up to re-level, or renovating rooms for a new use. They have installed closets, built exterior showers, renovated outside porches for use as game rooms, replaced decks and other similar work. They also work with your architect or have partnerships with local architects to design the home of your dreams. As a design/build firm, they can also work with you to take your own design into reality. Kurt’s partnerships with local barge companies, plumbers, electricians, and painters allow them to be a one-stop-shop to build the entire house from the foundation to the Occupancy Permit.

What You Will Learn:

  • Kurt’s perspective on building materials industry trends in the Boston area
  • How the HGTV effect has impacted Kurt’s relationship with building materials companies
  • Why building materials companies need a strong digital presence and technological proficiency
  • How Kurt pulls new ideas and inspiration from television shows
  • How the shift of secondary homes to all-season homes has impacted Kurt’s business
  • How the building materials industry is responding to changes in the secondary homes market


Building Materials Industry | Launching a Building Materials Brand, with Ralph Bruno [Pt. II]

Building Materials Industry | The Launch of Beach House Shake

If you didn’t get a chance to check out Pt. I of this two-part series, listen to the episode here. Ralph Bruno is the CEO of Derby Building Products, where he has helped grow the market with brands that have completely changed the face of the exterior building materials industry. In Part I, Ralph shares advice for building materials companies that are trying to build a presence in the marketplace and strengthen their brands. Now, Ralph joins us again to explore the tiny moving parts and the big picture strategy behind launching a brand in the building materials industry. He walks us through the successful launch of Derby’s Beach House Shake and shares insights about the marketing tactics they used.

Initiate the Right Conversation With Your Buyer

Ralph Bruno says, “If we just had one product to build the whole company around as a consumer-based brand, it would be Beach House Shake.” But Ralph and his team did not always see it that way. After only three years, Beach House Shake has become an iconic consumer-driven brand in the building materials industry. However, Derby initially struggled to move Beach House Shake because the targeting was slightly miscalculated. The product was dished out to channel partners without a clear vision of its consumer appeal in the competitive market of exterior building materials. But three years later, Beach House Shake sales are on the up and up and Derby has shifted the conversation toward consumers. Beach House Shake is for consumers who want something identical to a cedar shingle that maintains its aesthetic with low maintenance. And once Ralph and his team positioned it that way, their sales went through the roof.

Taking Beach House Shake to Market

Derby Building Products has locked-in on a sweet spot in the consumer market. So, Beach House Shake will continue to build momentum with a new tag line, an aspirational consumer experience campaign, new digital collateral, visualizers, and a strong tradeshow presence. It enables them to make a direct consumer play with all of their experts and channel partners lined up. And now that the product has been out for three years, Ralph and his team can show consumers the long-term value and durability of Beach House Shake. In the building materials industry, talk is cheap, so a little bit of show and tell goes a long way. If you are interested in learning more about Ralph’s strategy behind the launch of Beach House Shake, listen to the latest episode of Constructing Brands.

About Ralph Bruno

Ralph Bruno is CEO of Derby Building Products Inc. based in Quebec City, Canada, the manufacturer of innovative brands of exterior cladding products, including TandoStone®, the number one brand of composite stone; Beach House Shake® and TandoShake®. For the DIY/siding industry, Derby manufactures NovikStone and NovikShake exterior cladding. Bruno is best known for helping to lead the conversion from wood decking to composites, with iconic decking brand leaders Trex® and AZEK®.

What You Will Learn:

  • How Ralph identified the market sweet spot for his new building product
  • Why Ralph and his team chose to focus their marketing efforts on consumers instead of channel partners
  • Ralph’s strategy behind the launch of Beach House Shake
  • How Derby is building awareness for their Beach House Shake product
  • How new trends are influencing the future of Derby Building Products


Building Materials Industry | Building a Market Presence, with Ralph Bruno [Pt. I]

Building Materials Industry | Dynamic Trends in the Building Materials Industry

After nearly three decades in the building materials industry, Ralph Bruno is still doing everything he can to push the envelope. From serving as the national sales manager for Trex to launching AZEK Building Products, Ralph has gleaned valuable insights from every corner of the industry and brought them into his role as the CEO of Derby Building Products. He has helped grow the market with brands that have completely changed and shaped the face of the exterior building materials industry. And with more products on the horizon for the Tando and Novik brands, Ralph and the team at Derby continue to extend their reach.

A Long-term Value, Durability, and Innovation

The pursuit of long-term value and durability have driven Ralph Bruno to maintain a standard of excellence for every offering under the Derby Building Products umbrella. Combined with relentless innovation, Ralph and his team toe the line between current and future trends in the building materials industry. These trends are both market and demographic driven, such as the increase in demand for mixed materials, low-maintenance buildings, moisture management systems, and skilled laborers to execute more complex builds. By looking at these four key dynamics, Ralph can determine the best strategy for introducing Derby’s new products based on how well they meet each of those needs.

Building a Market Presence

Since big-box stores play a significant role in the building materials industry, consumers are becoming more involved in the materials selection process. We talked about the HGTV effect in the last episode of Constructing Brands, but if you missed it, the HGTV effect is when consumers watch enough television to become a self-proclaimed G.C. And while the HGTV effect may create a lot of challenges for building materials companies, Derby has capitalized on it. Ralph stresses the importance of brand strength in the DIY culture because it is the key to dominating a product category. Before AZEK there were no brands in the trim category, and after two to three years, AZEK was synonymous with white PVC trim. To hear Ralph’s take on where the building materials industry is headed, listen to the latest episode of Constructing Brands with Ralph Bruno.

About Ralph Bruno

Ralph Bruno is CEO of Derby Building Products Inc. based in Quebec City, Canada, the manufacturer of innovative brands of exterior cladding products, including TandoStone®, the number one brand of composite stone; Beach House Shake® and TandoShake®. For the DIY/siding industry, Derby manufactures NovikStone and NovikShake exterior cladding. Bruno is best known for helping to lead the conversion from wood decking to composites, with iconic decking brand leaders Trex® and AZEK®.

What You Will Learn:

  • Ralph Bruno’s journey into the building materials industry
  • The driving forces behind Derby Building Products’ success
  • How Derby Building Products has played into the DIY culture
  • The importance of brand strength and brand protection in the building materials industry
  • Ralph’s perspective on the future of the building materials industry
  • How Derby gets multiple demographics to buy-in to their new products
  • How Derby educates contractors on the features and benefits of their Tando products
  • The top five ways Derby is marketing their building products