By ED SALVAS
OCEAN TOWNSHIP – The rooms of the Jumping Brook Country Club in Neptune were jumping Wed., May 19 afternoon for an annual event that brings businesses and their potential customers together. The annual Greater Ocean Township Chamber of Commerce Business and Consumer Expo was also marking its 25th anniversary this year and the chamber was celebrating.
The Expo has become one of the largest events of its kind in the area, and this year brought in 80 vendors with displays of everything from new cars to financial services, restaurant placemats and bottled water.
Jason Hutzley, President of 140-year old Kepwell Natural Spring Water, said he had been an Expo regular for several years but dropped out of the event. He was back this year and pleased with the number of people walking the floor and the number of exhibitors. Hutzley said the Expo brings the township together, noting that because the township is so large geographically and has grown in population, it’s no longer a “small town.”
“Everybody used to know Kepwel,”he says, “I have to reintroduce myself.”
Bob McEwan is both a new business in town and a new exhibitor. His Fast Signs on the route 35 circle opened last year and he says being on the busy circle has given him good visibility. Fast Signs has installed new digital signs in the lobby of the Neptune Municipal Complex and placed new numbers on Ocean Township’s Wayside and Ocean Townhip Elementary schools.
Jackie Berman, President of NJAWBO Shore Region, the New Jersey Association of Women Business Owners, was hoping to sign up new members. She said the chapter has 80 members and that today more women are becoming business owners. Another group of women, the Shore Women Business Network, meets at the Red Cross building in Tinton Falls and supports its members business goals in exchange for business leads.
First time exhibitor, Riverboat Tours of Toms River, operates the River Lady, an 85-foot authentic reproduction of a Paddle Wheel Riverboat that sails the Toms River and Barnegat Bay for chartered lunch and dinner cruises. Captain Lance Chambeau, Jr. says bookings are strong for the 2013 season from now through October as the River Lady cruises in waters not impacted by Superstorm Sandy.
GOTCC President Kathy King, Vice President of Central Jersey Bank, said the Expo was organized by Kim Somerville and credits her with bringing together a good mix of businesses and with taking charge of the exhibit floor. King says, “she’s very organized and makes sure that competing businesses, especially food vendors, are not placed next to each other.”