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Success Stories

Columbia County Native Trades Corporate Career for New Role as Costumer President

Erik Johnsen’s love for theater started as a young child. He can still remember his lines and how it felt to perform in his fifth-grade school play, Johnny Tremaine. As a parent, Erik has enjoyed watching the positive impact theater has had on his youngest son’s confidence. After a career in corporate finance, Erik discovered the perfect role that paired his business acumen with performing arts passion: the new owner of The Costumer, the most popular scholastic theater support company in the country.

Erik grew up in Columbia County and studied business at University at  Albany. College days were among Erik’s happiest memories, including  meeting his wife, Bonnie. After graduation in 1987, Erik began his career in foreign exchange markets on Wall Street as a means to an end. Erik’s goal of living abroad was realized a few years later with a job at Standard Chartered Bank in the United Kingdom and Singapore, where he managed a portfolio in Africa, Middle East, and South Asia.... Read More

Saving Face Barber Shop owner Anthony Nappa cuts SBA Syracuse District Director Bernard J. Paprocki's hair.

Anthony Nappa discovered his career at age 12, when he started cutting his own hair and turned his family’s home basement into a makeshift barber shop for family and friends. While still in high school at the age of 17, Anthony apprenticed with a local barber shop for two years to become a licensed barber. Shortly after graduation, Anthony started his own business, Saving Face Barber Shop in Camillus, NY.

“The purpose of Saving Face is to provide clients with unrivaled quality in all of the services we provide. The atmosphere is ideal for men of all ages to escape and enjoy the traditional barbershop experience with a modern makeover,” said Nappa. “The styles are relevant, the products are innovative, and the staff is relaxed and friendly.”

Nappa’s cutting-edge barber shop offers haircuts, hot-towel shaves, facials and more with complimentary beverage stations, flat screen televisions and a full-size pool table for customers to enjoy while waiting for their... Read More

Susan Jablon's mosaics on the set of "HELL'S KITCHEN" television show

Artist Susan Jablon fell in love with glass as a young girl, intrigued by her mother’s vivid blue glass bowl and the way the color interacted with sunlight. After raising her own children and returning to the corporate world, Jablon looked for a creative outlet outside of the office. She started out purchasing small amounts of glass tile to run art classes in Binghamton, NY for adults and children, eventually ordering in bulk. With so much tile on hand, she used the internet to help sell the extra supply. On her 50th birthday, Susan Jablon gave herself the best present of all: focusing full-time on her glass tile startup, Susan Jablon Mosaics, LLC.

Creativity and innovation are more than her company product features- they are the hallmark of Jablon’s leadership. To create simple sheets of mosaics that can be easily installed, Jablon worked with an architect to engineer a prototype resin tray for the individual glass tiles to be placed into face down. The tray mold offered a... Read More

Green Ignite, Inc. owner Viktor Klyachko

Viktor Klyachko always wanted to be an entrepreneur, even as a young boy. Arriving in Utica, NY as a 12-year-old from his native country of Ukraine, Viktor quickly adapted to life in America and set his heart on the pursuit of the America dream: small business success.

Klyachko started his first business while he earned his bachelor degree in business at Babson College. Babson, as #1 Entrepreneurship School in the country, gave a taste to all students for starting and running a business during everyone’s freshman year. The “Babson Magazine” was a joint class effort with other students, and didn’t last past the course, but it gave Klyachko his first real taste for entrepreneurship in action. Viktor’s two attempts to start a business during the senior year and right after graduating failed to last more than a year, yet Klyachko was still determined to persist.

He returned to the Utica area and started a company to distribute high efficiency residential, commercial and... Read More

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