Key people in the auto, banking, hospitality and retail fields agreed: 2015 was an improvement over the previous year — and the best year yet for many.
Customer loyalty, community involvement, technological advances and a growing North Fork have made the past 12 months nearly record-setting for numerous local businesses.
“There’s so much more to do up here than other places — the vineyards, the restaurants, the shopping and outdoor sports and all that,” said Colin Keillor, manager of Jedediah Hawkins Inn. “I think that’s why we’re growing so significantly, and a lot of other businesses are.”
Read below to find out what other businesspeople in the area had to say about this past year.
owner, Riverhead Buick GMC in Riverhead
As the national economy continued to pick up this year, so did sales at the Riverhead Buick GMC dealership, Mr. Williams said, describing it as “absolutely wonderful.”
He said there weren’t any specific trends when it came to what cars people were purchasing. He did say the automobile industry as a whole saw a similar increase to what his dealership saw in 2015.
“It was a very, very good year for everybody,” Mr. Williams said.
owner, Green Earth Natural Foods in Riverhead
After a rough few years, Mr. Siegelwaks noticed that people began treating themselves more over the past 12 months, while also buying “little knickknacks” for others. With all this gifting, 2015 has been better than years before for his business.
Another aspect that helped draw people into his store? An emphasis on customer service.
“You have to provide good customer service, pleasantness, consistency, good value — the basics,” he said. “People respond to personal touch. In a time when there’s so much homogenization in the big box realm, people have definitely gotten the message that shopping locally has value — as it always has.”
manager, Jedediah Hawkins Inn and restaurant in Jamesport
Mr. Keillor called 2015 a “fantastic year,” in part because of the weather. With little rain this summer and warm temperatures in the fall, the restaurant’s outside patio was more popular than ever.
Additionally, he said, the recent growing popularity of the North Fork brought more customers to the business.
“I think it’s been better,” he said. “I’ve noticed over the last three years a sort of steady increase in business on the North Fork in general. I think business is just starting to boom up here.”
Because of this, he expects next year to be even better for the inn and restaurant.
executive vice president and chief lending officer, Suffolk County National Bank in Riverhead
Confidence in the overall economy has led to continued improvement at the bank, and for its customers, this year, Mr. Orsino said.
“Our business growth would be limited if our clients, and the market at large, did not feel confident and a willingness to improve and expand their businesses,” he said, which is indicated by a strong loan pipeline and deposit growth at all branches. Medical and health-related industries, as well as commercial real estate, stood out as expanding the most.
Additionally, the bank found success by paying attention to existing customers and simultaneously bringing in new clients, all while focusing on its niche of small to mid-sized businesses and being involved in the community, he said.
Photo: Jedediah Hawkins Inn and restaurant in Jamesport. (Credit: Randee Daddona)