Success Stories

When Chris Dambach was eight years old, his father’s assignment in the U.S. Army changed and the family was relocated from Syracuse, NY to Virginia. Dambach found he could make money by selling cold cans of soda at nearby construction sites. After his soda-filled summer, Dambach spent the fall catching crawfish in creeks to sell to friends as pets and to fishermen as bait. His third venture was selling candy to other kids on his bus-eventually drawing the ire of the school principal when lunch money was used to buy candy instead. Little did Dambach know that his childhood start as an entrepreneur would come full circle when his life was at a crossroads.

“I was assigned as a scout with the 4th Light Armored Reconnaissance Marine Corps unit in Mattydale, NY. Our unit was activated and deployed to the Syrian border area in northern Iraq in 2009,” recounts Syracuse-native Chris Dambach. “On Mother’s Day, our vehicle rolled over and I suffered several injuries after being ejected... Read More

Often times our families can be our harshest critics. Just ask Sherry DePerno, President and CEO of Advanced Tool Inc., of Marcy, New York: “At 16 years old my parents fired me! Like so many young people I wasn’t ready to be serious about a career or the commitment required to run a business.”

Five years later she returned to the family business with a second chance to prove herself after attending college and experiencing other work opportunities. Her father, Harold “Butch” Lockwood began Advanced Tool in his Sauquoit, New York garage after being laid off from Chicago Pneumatic in 1975. After starting at the bottom, DePerno learned each part of the business including customer service where she began to voice her opinions with her parents that included ideas about possible future opportunities for the company. DePerno transitioned into the leadership role when she and her husband Rob purchased the business from her parents in 2007.

“There’s a misconception that when... Read More

For DeWitt native Michael Brady, coming home turned into an opportunity to own his future. In 2001, Brady was considering leaving his Wall Street career after 10 years and returning to Upstate New York to be closer to family and friends. The 9/11 attacks accelerated his timetable and Brady left with a desire to make a positive difference in his hometown. In Syracuse that winter his father introduced him to the pharmaceutical label market through a long-term client, a local pharmaceutical manufacturer. Brady recognized a need for a nimble label manufacturer to service the pharmaceutical market. In March 2002, Brady set up HP Mile, Inc. to manufacture labels faster, better and cheaper specifically for pharmaceutical and biotech companies.

Brady landed his first customer when one of his father’s contacts took a purchasing job at a medical device company in California and needed help with their labeling issues. After that, HP Mile’s business grew steadily each year. The Syracuse... Read More

For Antonio Civitella, emigrating from Italy at the age of nine with his family meant a new world of opportunities. Civitella’s passion for computers and persistent nature turned a college internship into a career as an innovative entrepreneur. Civitella eventually became the owner of Transfinder Corporation in 2000, developing the Schenectady-based company into an international provider of state-of-the-art software for intelligent transportation systems. 

In 1988, Civitella was a computer science and software engineering student at Siena College and his advisor approached him with an unconventional internship opportunity.  At the time, software development on PCs was uncommon but Forth & Associates in Schenectady needed an intern to assist in developing a PC-based software product. Civitella began the internship during his sophomore year and worked on software that managed schedules and logistics for visiting nurses. The finished product couldn’t find success in the... Read More