Marketsmith Inc.

A Letter from the CEO:
Honored with the Essex
County LGBTQ Star Award

Last Wednesday, Essex County recognized Essex County Prosecutor Tamara Chambers, Educator Ronald Chaluisan and me during their LGBTQ Pride Celebration. The number of New Jersey Leaders and LGBTQ Allies was impressive. The recognition was heartfelt, and the importance of those leaders being there showed that New Jersey recognizes that it takes not just a community but allies to make advancement for segments of the population that do not have the same rights or access as Caucasian men.
Mason Tillman Associates recently released a Disparity study focused on New Jersey State Procurement processes, finding that in the realm of Professional Services, “Woman Business Enterprises received 589, or 10.44% of all formal professional services prime contracts awarded during the study period, representing $280,285,223 or 6.95% of the professional services prime contract dollars.”
For Professional Services, “Woman Business Enterprises” received 9.91% of the dollars while representing 37.75% of the available professional services businesses. There is a statistical disparity for most minority and woman owned businesses as it pertains to available business and the dollars received. Woman Owned Businesses received $76,314,709 against an expected dollar amount of $290,753,544, representing a loss of $214,438,835.
The significance of the month of June is not just Pride, but it also represents the month when I started Marketsmith Inc. 25 years ago out of a bedroom in my home when I had lost my job for coming out. For 25 years I have built my business here in New Jersey, brick by brick. New Jersey has about 950,000 businesses, of which 360,000 are women owned. There are only 150 LGBTQ registered owned and operated businesses in the State of New Jersey. There are about 3.75 million married people in New Jersey, and only 9,100 are same sex women couples. The number of households in New Jersey that have five or more children is about 5%. No matter how you slice it, I have been creating my own path with no playbook…no mentors…brick by brick. There are few of me, even today.
I started Marketsmith, Inc. with the money I had saved from working for 10 years and never taking a vacation. My wife Amy went to work in NYC because it took me five years to turn a profit once I started hiring employees. Today, I have over 50 full time employees; all that are New Jersey residents. These employees are not working for other companies and putting their face on my website. I own my company outright. Marketsmith, Inc. is 100% built in New Jersey by New Jersey residents. That has not been easy to do. My wife and I have been together for 30 years, with five adopted children that we have raised right here in New Jersey.
When New Jersey takes time to recognize me, I feel an immense sense of pride, and feel seen. There are still those in our community who are looking for that chance to be seen, and it highlights the lesson of the moment that disparity does exist. And overcoming disparity means that you have to give more people a chance by opening doors, looking to for ways to be inclusive, and making room for others. It does not mean it needs to be taken away from those who already have had those doors opened, it’s simply widening your circle and taking more chances. It’s sharing the stories of those who are deserving in your greater circles of influence. It’s seeking to understand those who we may not have crossed paths with before.
I applaud and appreciate County Executive Joe DiVincenzo, Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill, Reggie Bledsoe and the Essex County LGBTQ Advisory Board, Essex County Prosecutor Theodore Stephens, Kathy Ahearn-O'Brien, Paul Frene, and the late Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver, whose presence was missed but felt in the room yesterday, for their support and allyship of myself, my company, my family, and for seeing people like me across this State. My story was told by others, and I was graciously honored with this award. There are many others who need the same chance. There is still work to be done, but trying to overcome these disparities, perhaps also brick by brick, is a journey that I will continue.

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