By Joe Connolly and Neil A. Carousso
DEEP RIVER, C.T. (WCBS 880) — The Biden Administration has set an aggressive target of 50% electric vehicle sales by 2030. That has car companies scrambling to meet demand and build the charging infrastructure necessary to handle this rapid adoption.
Viking Equipment of Deep River, C.T. primarily serves car dealerships and repair shops. When it became clear EVs were the future of his industry, owner and president Joe Shomberg shifted his team’s focus to where business is heading.
“Keep up or get out of business,” Shomberg said of his business philosophy on the WCBS Small Business Spotlight, sponsored by Dime Community Bank.
“The same way it’s going to affect my customers’ business and that they’re not going to do oil changes anymore, I can’t sell them the equipment to do oil changes anymore. So, I need to grow where they’re going to grow and that’s my plan.”
He estimates over 100 electric car models on the market by 2025.
Viking Equipment is now installing three levels of EV chargers for homes, dealerships and gas stations across the country. Level one chargers, Shomberg explained, are 10 volt chargers for the home that are adequate for slow charging and local driving, but it could take days to fully charge an EV. Level two chargers are 220 volts and provide a full charge within hours. Level three chargers are D.C. power units for gas stations and rest stops where drivers can get a recharge within 10-20 minutes.
“The vast majority of the charging is going to be at your house,” said Shomberg. “You’re going to come home at the end of the day, you’re going to plug your car in, and in the morning, it’s fully charged and ready to go.”
He said level two chargers cost $400 to $500, but it will cost extra for an electrician to install the unit.
“Depending on what state you live in, there are incentives both from the federal government and from your electric company to put these chargers in that can cover the cost either all of or part of the cost to purchase the charger, and all of or part of the cost to install the charger.”
Shomberg said his company is also redesigning dealerships with new car lifts to accommodate EV chargers.
He even purchased an electric vehicle for himself so he can experience the issues and limitations of EVs first-hand.
“For the month of August, I drove it exclusively,” Shomberg told WCBS 880. “I had exactly one time that I visited a fast charger, a level three charger. Other than that, all of my charging was either at home or I have a charger at work and I charge it at work.”
One week in September, he switched back to his gas-powered car and found himself at a gas station three times within the week.
“A battery electric vehicle actually got (sic) a lot of advantages to your lifestyle,” said Shomberg.
He believes EVs will likely replace hybrid cars in the future.
“The biggest issue is this range anxiety that people need to overcome,” Shomberg said, affirming that a fully charged EV can travel from the New York Metropolitan Area to Maine without needing a boost.
There are also mobile applications such as PlugShare, which has a map of more than 610,000 EV charging stations where you can plug-in. Other apps calculate the distance one can travel before needing a recharge.
See more on the rapid adoption of electric vehicles, EV charging, and how life and business will change on the WCBS Small Business Spotlight video above.
By Joe Connolly and Neil A. Carousso
NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — Traffic volume into Manhattan soared after Labor Day as many companies began requiring employees to be in the office at least three days a week and Wall Street firms, including JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs, nixed remote work altogether. Still, many office buildings remain mostly empty.
Office occupancy in New York City was just 38 percent last week, according to Kastle Systems, which tracks building swipes. That’s a 3.5 percent increase from the last week of August when many white collar workers ditch their business suits for bathing suits down the Shore or out East in the Hamptons.
“This could be a 10 to 20 year painful process where we have vacant buildings that were once assets to our communities, now, will be liabilities unless we put policies in place that streamline the approval process to convert these buildings and provide economic incentives to help facilitate that,” said Scott Rechler, chairman and chief executive officer of RXR, on the WCBS Small Business Spotlight, sponsored by Dime Community Bank.
Rechler, who sits on the boards of the New York Federal Reserve and the MTA, points to New York’s recovery from 9/11 when rezoning enabled many office buildings in Lower Manhattan to be converted to apartments.
“If we can do that, we could take that, you know, 10 to 20 year period and bring it down to a five to 10 year period.”
The real estate developer said those conversions will allow buildings to be competitive in a post-pandemic environment.
“Buildings that can provide the highest level of experience and engagement and what we call ‘third spaces’ where people can collaborate and bond and become parts of broader communities will actually thrive. But, buildings that are more commodity-like – class B buildings, class C buildings that aren’t close to public transit – frankly are going to become obsolete,” said Rechler.
RXR is looking at converting some of their Manhattan office buildings into mixed-use buildings where New Yorkers can work and live, which Rechler calls part of the “post-pandemic playbook” to attract more workers to the city.
“If you look at our multi-family portfolio – and we have 10,000 units of multi-family – we’re 99 percent occupied,” he said. “I’m optimistic because the people is (sic) the fuel that drives the long-term vitality of this economy and they’ve come back.”
He told WCBS 880 the next step is for real estate developers, like himself, to create affordable housing to attract more talent to the five boroughs. A lack of housing inventory has led to an increase in home prices and rents. Rents in RXR buildings, Rechler said, are 10-20 percent higher than they were before the pandemic.
New office buildings now include amenities such as health and wellness spaces to incentivize employees to work in-person.
The firm is also noticing companies headquartered in Manhattan are opening satellite offices in their buildings on Long Island and New Jersey.
“Companies want to have spots that are closer to where people live both for affordability and convenience,” Rechler said. “So you see a number of banks, for example, have opened up offices in New Jersey or some of the pharmaceutical companies and the same thing we’re seeing in Nassau County.”
“That will enable people to live closer to home and have a shorter commute for part of the week or the whole week, depending where they are, but still be able to convene in New York City with all their peers where you can focus on culture building, ideation, collaboration, that you can’t get if everyone’s working independently.”
Rechler sees the city is transitioning from a Manhattan-centric economy to what he calls a “superstar region,” which he believes will be more sustainable post-pandemic.
See more on the future of the office on the Small Business Spotlight video above.
By Joe Connolly and Neil A. Carousso
NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — Kickstarter is experimenting with a four-day, 32-hour workweek, which has gained momentum in parts of Europe as the pandemic shined a light on the need for work-life balance.
The six-month pilot program began in April. Early results are promising, according to the Brooklyn-based crowdsourcing company. It has seen improved efficiencies company-wide.
“The four-day workweek for us has been an exercise that’s allowed us to really improve all of those sort of dynamics in our business so that employees are more engaged,” said Kickstarter chief strategy officer Jon Leland on the WCBS Small Business Spotlight, sponsored by Dime Community Bank.
“When they come to work, they are rested and more focused, they’re all more motivated to get their work done faster,” he said.
Leland said Kickstarter’s operations have already improved after cutting some of the major time sucks.
“Meetings are the number one killer of time,” he said. “There’s a lot of aspects of sort of documentation or just dumb processes that have gotten built up over time that people just continue to do that they know doesn’t really matter and isn’t useful.”
The CSO told WCBS 880 the company has “empowered” middle managers to eliminate redundancies and streamline workflow.
The four-day workweek comes without any reduction in salaries or benefits. The company has also decided to keep its employees remote because of productivity and to save on rent.
“From a real estate perspective, because we had to look at this as well, it’s just very expensive to own or lease and run an office setting if you’re not using it five days a week,” said Leland. “It just didn’t make financial sense.”
Kickstarter will measure the program’s success by revenue and money raised for startups on the platform.
It has recently seen a bump in new investments in e-commerce and gaming businesses.
“Tabletop games has (sic) become just a massive part of the Kickstarter ecosystem because I think people want to spend time with each other, also doing things in real life together, and tabletop board games are a great way of doing that. So, we’ve seen that emerge as just a really massive part of our business.”
Leland said the biggest backing Kickstarter ever hosted on its platform was earlier this year when author Brandon Sanderson raised $41.7 million to publish books he wrote during the pandemic.
See more on the WCBS Small Business Spotlight video above.
Executive Produced by Carousso Enterprises, LLC.
Flushing, NY — Steve Cohen received a hero’s welcome from the Flushing faithful on Mets Old Timers’ Day. It was the first Old Timers’ Day since 1994, which the lifelong Mets fan brought back after buying the team.
“I think the fans just want to know you care and want to know that ownership is listening and that’s all I’m trying to do,” Cohen told Carousso Enterprises and NY2C before the old timers ran out on the Citi Field diamond.
See more with the Mets owner on the video above.
NY2C’s On The Call is executive produced by Carousso Enterprises, LLC.