Success Stories

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

Small Business Success in the Saddle

Office? Barns, with a laptop on her bed. Workday? 14 hours, every day. Challenges? Constant. But entrepreneur Erika Eckstrom wouldn’t have it any other way. At the age of 5, Eckstrom knew she wanted to spend her life working with horses and wrote her plan to own a stable by 25 in crayon. Today, Painted Bar Stables is the passionate, profitable business that has made her childhood dream a reality.

Eckstrom bought her first horse, Margarita, at 13 and then adopted and rehabilitated rescue horses throughout high school. After completing bachelor’s degrees in anthropology and music and a master’s degree in public communications in Washington, D.C., she returned to the Southern Tier. In 2008, the then 23-year-old Eckstrom purchased Painted Bar Stables, a 22-acre horse property outside Watkins Glen, NY. Her previous education and work experience at the Peace Corps press office and lobbying efforts with Break the Cycle have been invaluable to her business.

“All of the skills... Read More