Maryann Piazza (second from right) receiving the Phoenix Award in Washington, DC

Despite a devastating hit to its business, one Staten Island company never lost its majesty and grace. The Staten Island Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at the College of Staten Island is proud to announce that one of its clients, Majestic Vending and Services, Inc., is the winner of the prestigious National Phoenix Award for Small Business Disaster Recovery by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). The Phoenix Award for Small Business Disaster Recovery is given to the business owner whose efforts and contributions have enabled their business to recover successfully and thrive following a disaster. SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet and Associate Administrator for Disaster Assistance James Rivera presented the Award at a ceremony during Small Business Week in Washington, DC on May 3.

Majestic Vending and Services Inc. is owned by Maryann and Stephen Piazza. From its humble beginnings as a simple gumball machine at a construction site, they’ve grown into a company that serves the NYC area with vending machines, coffee and bottled water delivery for offices, and safety gear.

Majestic was victim to significant wind damage suffered during Superstorm Sandy that left the company without inventory or equipment. The severity of the storm caused severe electrical and heating system damage, resulting in losses surpassing $75,000. Although they received some grant support, the Piazzas required assistance not covered by insurance and grants. This advice was sought from the Small Business Development Center at CSI and Senior Certified Business Advisor Edward Piszko. Majestic was first assisted in 2005 and required further assistance as a result of Superstorm Sandy, which nearly destroyed the family-owned business.

As Majestic’s long-term mentor, Business Advisor Piszko indicated, “I have known and worked with Maryann and Steve Piazza for many years. They are two of the most tenacious entrepreneurs that I have met. No matter what the challenge put before them, they come up with a solution and are stronger than when they started. Their success is a result of that drive.”

Dean L. Balsamini, Director of the SI SBDC, added, “Maryann and Stephen Piazza certainly exemplify the resilience and courage that the Phoenix Award represents. The business has not only risen up from the ashes of Superstorm Sandy, but has flourished as a result of their tenacity and determination.”

In the face of tragedy, Maryann and Stephen Piazza rebuilt their now flourishing business and also gave back to the community in the process. Maryann is an active member in various organizations such as the Staten Island Chamber of Commerce, the SIEDC, and the Staten Island Bucks. Maryann has also been recognized for her significant impact upon the community and has been a recipient of numerous prestigious awards, including the Women in Business of the Year Award, the Small Business Success Award, and others. Majestic greatly participates and gives back to their local community.

Maryann Piazza with Mark Cuban from the TV series Shark Tank

Despite many challenges including the devastation from Superstorm Sandy, Maryann and Steven Piazza have been able to overcome and move on to new horizons. These hardships experienced by Majestic have proven that the Piazzas have not only been able to continue their business but have also expanded and diversified it. In 2014, Majestic was chosen by the NY/NJ Super Bowl Host Committee Business Connect as an official participant to prepare and distribute several products and services for the Super Bowl.

NY SBDC State Director James L. King said, “We are extremely proud that a Staten Island SBDC client was recognized from the thousands of small businesses eligible to be the National Phoenix award winner by SBA.  Following a natural disaster such as Superstorm Sandy, it’s often impossible for small businesses to recover and rare to see them emerge as stronger businesses. This recognition displays the commitment and dedication of so many small business owners across New York State and the entire storm track have to succeed, even under the most adverse circumstances.”

SBDC at CSI Director, Balsamini commented, “Our SBDC staff is committed to help businesses in need under any conditions, but especially following a disaster. When a community begins the process of rebuilding, the local small businesses are often at the forefront of recovery, and we appreciate the trust they place in the SBDC to turn to us during these times.”