A Thanksgiving gift

Local pool business gets national small business award

Jamie Gordon and his family thought they were getting a portrait done when they stepped out of their house in Country Village two days before Thanksgiving. The two people who came to the front door with their camera did not let on that there was an even bigger surprise in store.
Gordon found out he had won a $25,000 gift as part of Small Business Revolution, a project by documentary filmmakers who are honoring businesses across America. The documentary is meant to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Deluxe Corporation and use some small businesses to inspire others.
Gordon’s company Hudson Pool Management was one of four small businesses in the nation to receive the $25,000 award.
Gordon, who owns and operates the pool maintenance company in Jersey City, had worked his way up from lifeguard to owner and operator after his father, the founder, died last year.
“Seasonal work is hard,” he said, dressed in a light tan jacket and orange sneakers, getting ready for his off-season job with the Jersey City Recreation Department.
When his father passed away suddenly last year, Gordon took over the family pool business and dedicated himself to growing it in his father’s honor.
His father started Hudson Pool Management in 1999 servicing one pool. Over the last 12 years, business has expanded to about 60 pools, most of which are luxury pools in high-rises in the high end markets along the waterfront in Hoboken, Weehawken, and West New York.

“We were looking for small businesses that make a difference in the community.” – Amanda Brinkman
“We employee about 300 people,” Gordon said. “We give a lot of inner city kids seasonal jobs.”
Gordon operates out of his home in the Country Village section of Jersey City near the Bayonne border. This is historically a blue collar neighborhood with a population that has survived some of the worst recent catastrophes, and was particularly hard hit by Superstorm Sandy in 2012.
Gordon basically runs the day-to-day operations, while others do some of the business paperwork and other tasks.
This combination of providing jobs for the community and helping to continue a small local business made him a perfect candidate for a program run by Deluxe, a national company that started in 1915 by providing banking services such as check printing. Deluxe has since evolved into a company that provides services to small businesses, teaching how to develop a logo, a webpage and other contemporary internet services.

Making a difference

While Gordon, his mother and some others faced the camera shivering during the photo shoot on the sidewalk outside his house, Amanda Brinkman, chief brand and communications officer for Deluxe, snuck up behind him with a giant ceremonial check, springing it upon him while his attention was focused on the camera.
“I didn’t expect this,” Gordon said.
Confused as to just who nominated his company, Gordon called his wife, who was at a doctor’s appointment with one of their kids.
His wife over the speaker phone did not know what he was talking about, and he later learned that it was his mother who had nominated him, although she really hadn’t expected anything to come of it.
Coming so close to the holiday, the check was almost like a Thanksgiving gift.
“We’re putting baskets together for our customers with wine and other things,” Gordon said. “We really appreciate the business. I love what I do, even if running a seasonal business is tough.”
Deluxe, Brinkman said, is in the business of helping small businesses, and searched nationwide for candidates like Gordon to highlight the ability of small businesses to thrive in a competitive market.
“We were looking for small businesses that make a difference in the community,” she said.
While originally Deluxe intended to highlight just one small business, the flood of applications made it clear just how many deserving companies there were.
“So we decided to do four,” she said.

A community-oriented business

Gordon’s business in Jersey City joined others in Minneapolis and Atlanta for the honor.
In addition to maintaining high standards for clean, safe pools, and employing local youth, Hudson Pool Management also works with more than 30 business and economics students from the Czech Republic through an exchange program. The employees all have one thing in common: they’re certified lifeguards.
In video taping the check delivery, Gordon’s story will be part of a documentary that will feature 100 small business stories from around the nation that will be used to inspire other small businesses.
The project is brought to life by award-winning independent photographers and videographers and celebrates the vibrancy, variety, and community impact of small business in the U.S.
“People have a choice where they can do business,” Brinkman said. “We want to spotlight small businesses and show that they make a difference in the communities where they do business. Marketing is expensive, but the internet can level the field. A small business needs to be found on line.”

Al Sullivan may be reached at asullivan@hudsonreporter.com.

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