May 17, 2011
Bill Zacotinsky: It takes a rocket scientist to lead chamber
New chairman, trained as NASA aerospace engineer, owns East Road Motors
Even before becoming chairman of the Greater Mahopac-Carmel Chamber of Commerce on May 1, small-business owner Bill Zacotinsky had a strong connection to the town.
His family has owned property in Mahopac since 1941, and as a child living in the city, all he wanted was to be in the country, a treat he looked forward to every weekend.
"Living here has always been a dream of mine," Zacotinsky said. "And in 1966, we moved here full-time." Trained as an aerospace engineer, Zacotinsky pursued a successful career at NASA until the Challenger explosion led to budget and division cuts. Never one to give up, he used the opportunity to open his own business, East Road Motors, over 25 years ago, and knew that the Mahopac area was the ideal location.
After opening with only the knowledge his mechanic father passed on to him, the business, which repairs lawn mowers, automobiles and a wide variety of other machines, took off. Zacotinsky cites pride in his work as his favorite aspect of owning a small business.
"We do superior work here, well above normal standards. We have nearly a zero return rate because we take the extra pain to make sure everything is done the right way on every job we do, and customers appreciate that extra care."
His eldest son, William, disagrees on the best aspect of owning a small business. After working the graveyard shift for the past week, William, a project engineer in Manhattan, said, "The best part of owning your own business is not having to work the graveyard shift!"
Zacotinsky and his wife, Pam, who works for Quarterly Magazine, have two other sons, Andrew, 21, and Brad, 14. Andrew is currently studying business and marketing at Westchester Community College, and plans to take over East Road Motors when Zacotinsky is ready to retire.
Zacotinsky began participating in the Chamber of Commerce in 2003. Because East Road Motors, is "a little off the beaten path," he began attending the Chamber meetings, and liked meeting other business owners so much that he became more and more involved, eventually heading the committee for the Chamber's annual street festival for five years. Seeing the success of that event, which draws over 5,000 people each year, the Chamber of Commerce asked Zacotinsky to take on the role of Chairman two years ago, but he declined because of the large amount of work he had.
When they offered it to him again this year, Zacotinsky agreed.
"I still have the same amount of work, but I wanted to give it a shot. I think I can do a lot of good for them."
He hopes that during his tenure, he is able to bring the Chamber's sights more inward, and help to take the best possible care of their members. To that end, he is working with Chamber President Sal Gambino to contact members and find out what will best suit their needs.
"A few years back, we did a big expansion to gain more members, and it was very successful," Zacotinsky said. "Now, we want to build a little more spirit. We're planning some members-only events where we can meet other business owners, relax and have fun."
Did You Know?
• Though the Greater Mahopac-Carmel Chamber of Commerce is meant for small business owners, and provides excellent networking and other resources for over 500 businesses in the area, local residents also benefit from the organization. Each year, the Chamber organizes two public events, a street fair on Columbus Day, and a business expo in the spring, where residents can meet and learn about over 140 different vendors.
• Local businesses don't just provide better service and products than big-box stores; they also help promote economic growth. Chain stores only give back an average of 14 percent of profits to their communities, while local stores give back 66 percent, and the sales tax on items purchased locally can help keep property taxes lower. Learn more about the Chamber at mahopaccarmelonline.com.