Lou Campanelli, longtime Port Washington resident, devotes a great deal of his time and energy to helping small businesses thrive and grow through his involvement with SCORE: "Counselors to America's Small Business." At a stage in life when many persons are "putting up their feet" after a long career, Campanelli devotes "more hours than I care to count" to these efforts. SCORE, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary year, has as its mission to provide professional guidance and information to maximize the success of America's existing and emerging small businesses. Their motto is "turning possibility into probability." The counseling is provided without charge to the business owners. According to Campanelli, all but about a dozen staff in Washington, DC, are volunteers.
Louis Campanelli, National Director of Strategic Alliances for SCORE and Board Director of the SCORE Foundation
Port's Lou Campanelli is one of the more prominent of these volunteers, who number over 11,000 nationwide, representing every state in the union. Campanelli is National Volunteer Director for Strategic Alliances, making him the highest appointed volunteer leader serving in a strategic alliance capacity for the association. When Campanelli was appointed to this position in 2000, SCORE Executive Director Ken Yancey said "Lou Campanelli is an enthusiastic supporter of entrepreneurship in America. His business acumen and ability to forge alliances to aid the community make Lou an ideal advisor to SCORE and National Volunteer Director for Strategic Alliances for this nonprofit association." Campanelli said, "It is our job to get large corporations like the New York Stock Exchange, Lowe's, and Morgan Chase to work with us. One example he offered of a successful alliance is that the United States Post Office distributes SCORE's literature and has a link on their web site to SCORE's site. Some of the other Alliance Partners are the American Management Association, AOL/Netscape, Bank of America, Ford, Staples, The Wall Street Journal, and VISA.
As if that weren't enough, Lou Campanelli also serves on the board of directors of the SCORE Foundation. The Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising funds to aid the SCORE Association. Its mission is to support and leverage the work of SCORE by soliciting, investing and managing resources for the benefit of SCORE. Founded in 1964 as an arm of the Small Business Administration (SBA), SCORE has been almost entirely dependent on an SBA grant for its operations. About three years ago, the organization decided to actively pursue outside funding for special projects. Campanelli said that one of the main projects that they want to take on is to expand and upgrade the association's ability to do e-mail counseling. SCORE introduced e-mail counseling in 1996, and it has been immensely popular. Campanelli said that, of the approximately 475,000 entrepreneurs counseled last year, about 100,000 were via e-mail. Another project is the creation of a national training program for the counselors (currently the training is done by individual states or chapters). The Foundation also supports the production of The SCORE Chapter Daily Desktop Guide, which provides chapter guidelines and information on training procedures.
As with many such organizations in today's economy, resources are tight, so the Foundation's work is critical. Campanelli said that the SBA grant has remained constant at a mere $5 million for a number of years. He said, "For the last two to three years we had to fight like heck to keep it at $5 million." He added that our local elected officials have been cooperative, and mentioned that Senator Charles Schumer has been particularly helpful.
What SCORE accomplishes with its modest budget is very impressive. This past year it counseled approximately 475,000 people; volunteers committed almost one million and a half hours. Since its inception, SCORE has assisted more than 3.5 million Americans with small business counseling. In addition, their web site, which is rich with information for entrepreneurs, had over 35 million hits in fiscal year 2003. SCORE also runs workshops and seminars for small business owners. It operates out of almost 400 chapters and nearly 1,000 offices (each chapter can have more than one office or "subsidiary"). Nassau County has three chapters: one at Adelphi University, one in Bethpage and one in Melville.
Two local businesses were recently helped by SCORE counselors: Louie's Oyster Bar Grill and Supreme Auto. Campanelli said that SCORE provided counseling and assisted Louie's during their recent renovation and upgrade. (The restaurant secured an SBA loan for some of their renovation costs.) Anyone in Port who has tried to get a table on Saturday night knows how successful Louie's re-do has been. Campanelli is especially proud of Winston Torres, founder and proprietor of Supreme Auto Repair, Inc. (located on Munson off of Bayles). Torres began repairing autos out of his home. Now he owns and operates a very successful business, has married and bought his own home. "We helped him but he did it himself," said Campanelli. Torres, a lifelong Port Washington resident, can't say enough good things about Campanelli and the other SCORE counselors. He said, "We can learn from others' experience. You can make your own mistakes, you can walk into a wall, or you can follow the path that they [the counselors] show you." Torres said that SCORE helped him get minority business status, which was instrumental in getting contracts with the Town of North Hempstead and the state police. They also suggested that he focus on targeting fleet business, which he has successfully done. In addition to the previously mentioned clients, he services vehicles for Port businesses Deluxe and Shields. He said that Shields, previously his landlord, has been "very helpful over the last six years." Torres added that when he was a young boy, he used to hang out at Shields hardware store "starting at the crack of dawn." He said, "I would ask questions about different things and how they work, and he [Mr. Shields] would explain things to me."
Campanelli is very modest about his past and current achievements. "I really don't want this to be about me," he said. "What I do is very rewarding - it's a pleasure."
Campanelli started as a delivery boy at Bohacks in Brooklyn. [For our younger readers, Bohacks was a chain of grocery stores that blanketed Brooklyn, Queens and Long Island from the 1930s until it closed in 1977.] He eventually worked his way up to be president of the company. When Bohacks closed, Campanelli founded Lamm Food Corp., which owned five Key Food supermarkets, including one in Port Washington where North Shore Farms is now located. Soon after he sold that business 15 years go, his daughter, a writer, was doing a story for Entrepreneur magazine about SCORE, and she encouraged her father to look into becoming involved. The way Campanelli tells it, she said, "Daddy, you're playing way too much golf." As they say, the rest was history. Campanelli started as a counselor, became chapter chair, and now has major responsibilities with the organization. In addition to his SCORE involvement, he is on the advisory boards of the Nassau County Economic Development Department, the Long Island Development Corporation, and the First National Bank of Long Island. Incidentally, there is almost no time left for golf. He does enjoy spending time with family and friends and traveling with his wife, Peggy.
Campanelli, like most of the other volunteer counselors, is motivated by a desire to "give back." He said, "I've learned a lot of things in my years in business, made a lot of mistakes. We want to share what we've learned." SCORE, which was originally called the Service Corps for Retired Executives, welcomes persons willing to donate their time to sharing their talents and business expertise to help entrepreneurs reach their dreams of success. The organization's new name reflects its diversity, not only with respect to age and employment status, but also with respect to gender, race and ethnicity. Campanelli said that they are particularly interested in recruiting more African-American counselors and businesses. For information on becoming a counselor or to request assistance from SCORE, contact the Adelphi chapter at 516-887-4645 or the headquarters in Washington DC at 800-634-0245, or visit the web site, www.score.org.
The Nassau and Suffolk County chapters are planning a luncheon on September 22 at Louie's to raise money for the foundation and for the local chapters. For details, contact the Adelphi chapter.