Nate Checketts, CEO of Rhone, said questioning the way things have always been done can lead to success at Fairfield County Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 Awards Tuesday evening.
“I imagine many of the recipients tonight are here because they have challenged the status quo and they have done things in a new and different and innovative way,” Checketts said in his keynote speech. “I can tell you for Rhone, that was absolutely the case for us.”
The Business Journal honored 40 professionals at the 12th annual event held at the Dolce Norwalk. More than 300 guests attended the event, which included a cocktail reception and a formal award ceremony emceed by Matt Scott, a meteorologist at Fox 61.
Checketts received recognition for his entrepreneurship as an honoree at the 2015 40 Under 40 awards. His most recent venture, Rhone, is a premium active wear company for men based in Darien. The company started when Checketts and his co-founders questioned why brand-name athletic clothing still smelled after being washed.
“If we don’t stop and ask ourselves, ‘why are we doing this a certain way?’ then disruption never happens,” Checketts said.
Marty Schwartz, president of the benefitting nonprofit, The Kennedy Center Inc., said founder Evelyn Kennedy refused to accept advice to give up her special needs child and founded one of the first organizations of its kind 65 years ago. Schwartz said the Kennedy Center now provides services to more than 2,400 individuals in Connecticut per year with intellectual disabilities and special needs.
He thanked the Business Journal for recognizing the contributions of the for-profit and nonprofit community. “We all do a lot, we’re symbiotic, and it’s important that we work together,” Schwartz said.
Norwalk Mayor Harry Rilling welcomed attendees to the city and congratulated winners. “I wish you well as you continue on moving up the corporate ladder, or venturing out and growing your own business or saving humanity.”
Events sponsors were Aquarion Water Co., Beers, Hammerman, Cohen & Burger PC, Charter Oak Insurance and Financial Services Co., Danbury Audi, Deloitte, Fairfield University Dolan School of Business, First County Bank, Heineken, Justworks, Marks Paneth, Nantes Solutions, City of Norwalk, Stamford Health, Val’s Putnam Wines and Liquors and Yale New Haven Health. Supporters included The Bristal Assisted Living, Buzz Creators, Eklectico Café, Gilda Bonanno LLC, Sacred Heart University and Uber.
Representatives from the Bridgeport Regional Business Council, Business Council of Fairfield County, Darien Chamber of Commerce, Fairfield Chamber of Commerce, Greater Norwalk Chamber of Commerce, Greater Valley Chamber of Commerce, Greenwich Chamber of Commerce and Wilton Chamber of Commerce presented the awards to the honorees.
The 40 awardees thanked their colleagues, mentors and loved ones, and called upon the group to bring about change in their respective industries.
The 40 under 40 awardees are:
- Kayleigh Apicerno, marketing coordinator, R.D. Scinto Inc.
- Hunter Arton, community outreach administrator, Norwalk Redevelopment Agency
- Kris Barker, owner, The Gardener’s Center and Florist
- Adam Blank, partner, Wofsey, Rosen, Kweskin & Kuriansky LLP
- Allison Carballo, director of development, Family & Children’s Aid
- Jason Castaldi, managing director, Charter Oak Insurance and Financial Services Co.
- Brian A. Clarke Jr., realtor, William Pitt Sotheby’s International Realty
- Ali Farsun Dembishack, account supervisor, Catapult Marketing
- Marissa Donnelly, director of development, The Center for Family Justice
- Steven Ferguson, assistant vice president — business banking, First County Bank
- James Frommert, sales executive, People’s United Insurance Agency
- Meaghan George, director of camp and family services, Westport Weston Family YMCA
- Andrew Herr, executive director, J.P. Morgan Private Bank
- Michelle Johnson, director, Beers, Hammerman, Cohen & Burger PC
- Nick Khamarji Jr., principal broker, New England Insurance
- Jackie Kosiba, director of sales, Delamar Southport
- Dyan Kozaczka, attorney, Rutkin, Oldham & Griffin LLC
- Enoch Lenge, energy efficiency consultant, Eversource
- Vladmir Mariano, president and co-founder, Fairfield County Maker’s Guild and CT Robotics Academy
- Derrek Metz, managing sales director, Barnum Financial Group
- Lauren Millar, senior director of strategy and client services, Zunda Group LLC
- James Moffat, partner/vice president of sales, The Atlantic Group
- Britta Mulderrig, senior marketing manager, Uber
- Stephen Napier, attorney, Ivey Barnum & O’Mara LLC
- Brandon Oldham, manager, Mutual Security Credit Union
- Kristi Olds, anchor/reporter, News 12 Connecticut
- Staci Peete, high risk navigator, Norwalk Hospital
- Tanya Popolizio, senior campaign manager, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
- Sean Rabinowitz, vice president, ACBI Insurance
- Amy Reina, tax director, Deloitte
- Tim Rorick, senior managing director, Newmark Grubb Knight Frank
- Ryan Santoro, senior account executive, Connect Computer
- Michael Sciamanna, vice president/market manager, Webster Bank
- Michael Sullivan, managing director, chief of staff and head of global external affairs, Point72
- Jon Thomas, CEO/founder, Tap Cancer Out
- Kelly Trahan, attorney, Murtha Cullina LLP
- Daniel Trust, founder and CEO, The Daniel Trust Foundation
- Ken Tuccio, host, Welcome to Connecticut Podcast
- Corinne VanBeek MD, orthopaedic shoulder and elbow surgeon, Orthopaedic and Spine Institute, Stamford Health Medical Group
- Cecilia Zhang Stiber, associate general counsel, Frontier Communications