Local business relationships symbiotic

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Mayor Bob Mezzo (right) watches Dave Prendergast, CEO of the NEDC, address local business representatives.
Mayor Bob Mezzo (right) watches Dave Prendergast, CEO of the NEDC, address local business representatives.

NAUGATUCK — In ecology, symbiosis is loosely defined as a mutually beneficial relationship between two organisms. Certain species of clownfish, ants and tubeworms enjoy symbiotic (and often necessary) relationships with some anemones, trees, and bacteria, respectively.

But mutual beneficence is not a phenomenon exclusive to the animal kingdom. Local business owners are also familiar with the concept. Take, for example, Ram Welding and Pennsylvania Steel, two constituents of the Naugatuck Industrial Park.

Penn Steel sells its metal to Ram, which in turn fabricates it into storage racks Penn Steel needs to store its wares. And that’s just one example of local businesses engaging their neighbors and enjoying economic symbiosis.

Last Thursday, in a cavernous Pennsylvania Steel warehouse girded by those very Ram-welded racks, local business owners got a chance to buttress their networks and form new relationships to benefit their companies.

Such establishments as Ram Welding, Northeast Communication, Ground Up, and Donham Craft participated in the Naugatuck Economic Development Corporation’s first Business to Business Expo. Like a grown-up version of a high-school science fair, the event hosted about 20 businesses that set up display tables showcasing their products or services. Owners and other representatives milled about, making new contacts and greeting old friends.

“In this economy, if you’re not networking, you get left behind,” said Tom Hill, a commercial real estate practitioner.

“For people who are doing business here and living here,” added Dave Prendergast, the NEDC’s CEO, “it makes sense to do business with neighbors. It’s also a trust issue. You want to do business with people you know.”

Bill Donnelly, sales and marketing manager at Envipco, a manufacturer of reverse recycling machines, said he makes it a point to buy local goods, barring any extraneous issue with price or quality.

“We take care of each other as much as we can,” he said. “We make an effort to buy locally, because it’s important for the local economy.”

Prendergast said about a half-dozen new tenants had recently relocated to the industrial park, and the expo was scheduled with them in mind. Among those new tenants are Northeast Communication and Ground Up, a distributor of muscle car parts.

Randy Bushka of H.J Bushka and Sons, a lumber retailer specializing in doors, windows, molding and sealing, said the company purchased a lot in the park two or three years ago and is hoping to build soon.

Mayor Bob Mezzo found a minute to say a few words at the expo before departing for a Board of Education meeting.

“We could not be the borough of Naugatuck without the industrial park,” he said. “They say manufacturing is dead, but if you tour this park, you know that’s not true. … Your success in this [economic] climate is a testament to your hard work and ingenuity.”

Prendergast said the NEDC might organize the event every few years.

Connecticut Light and Power and Yankee Gas sponsored a caterer, which provided hors dœuvres, and picked up the tab on a selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks for the event.