Supporting small businesses has long been important to Michael Levy, 52, of Roslyn, he said while sitting with Richie Krug Jr., 31, of East Meadow, last week at Garden Social, a beer garden and restaurant on East Meadow Avenue.
Shortly after it opened in November, Garden Social was given a ribbon cutting by the East Meadow Chamber of Commerce, of which Levy was recently elected president. Since then, he and Krug, who became the chamber secretary, have both spent quality time there.
“I enjoy coming out to all of the events we host — I really look forward to them,” Levy said. “These people aren’t just chamber members to me. They’re close friends. They do business with me, and I trust them.”
Levy has been a chamber member since 2013, the year he bought Levittown’s Minuteman Press. At the time it was owned by Steve Haller, a past president of the chamber who will be honored as its Person of the Year at its installation dinner on Jan. 25.
“He was 100 percent honest about the business, and he’s just a cool dude,” Levy said, noting that Haller has recently retired. “He’s happy, I’m happy.”
“And [Mich-ael] lets us know how happy he is,” Krug added with a laugh.
Levy graduated from Syracuse University in 1988 with a degree in speech communications. Afterward, he worked for his family printing supplies business, Nation-Wide Plastics, for 15 years.
When his father, Milton, sold the business in 2003, Michael and his brother, Norm, modernized its model for the digital world and created a new business, which they sold in 2008. Michael then started an independent consulting business for small business owners. He still works with some clients today.
“As business owners, we’re always moving,” Levy said. “We don’t get the time to pause and look outside our day-to-day operations.”
Consulting offered him a reprieve from that daily whirlwind, he said, but he didn’t like having to look constantly for new work, and sought a more stable career. He mentioned this to a client, who suggested that he look into buying a franchise. After attending a franchise trade show at the Javits Center in Manhattan in 2013, he met representatives from Minuteman Press. “It was love at first sight,” he said with a laugh. Six months later, Levy bought the company’s Levittown location from Haller.
He became a member of the chamber board of directors in 2015, two years after he joined. In 2017 and 2018, he served as the chamber’s secretary — and was also vice president of the Levittown chamber. “For him to be able to do both,” Krug said, “is astonishing to me.”
In his new role at the East Meadow chamber, Levy said he is motivated by the success that the organization saw under his predecessor, Frank Camarano Jr., the first member to serve as president two years in a row. “Frank made it very difficult for me,” Levy said. “Frank expanded the bandwidth of the chamber. He put us in places we’ve never gone before; he’s reached people we haven’t reached before. Following that up will be a challenge, for sure.”
Camarano said he trusted that Levy would be an excellent leader. “He’s a really nice guy and a good friend of mine, and comes from a wonderful family,” Camarano said.
“The chamber is a very large organization that has many components, and you have to be willing to put the time in during your year, or two, to work with everyone to get the job done.”
Levy said that one of his goals is to continue finding ways to expand the chamber’s outreach in East Meadow — for instance, its enhanced presence on social media platforms like Facebook, which Krug has been coordinating to promote events and fundraising efforts.
“It’s impossible to do this all by yourself,” Levy said of the chamber’s operations, adding that, in addition to Camarano, many past presidents and other members have reached out to offer advice or lend a hand. With a laugh, he said, “I get by with a little help from my friends, as they say.”