[Front image shows Amy and Keith Augustine in their Ford Street warehouse. Gallery photos show (from left) the Augustines' victory table in Florida; Keith and his playful companion Walter]
BALLSTON SPA — Keith Augustine is surprised whenever someone thinks the company his wife Amy started—one that makes popular dog treats sold in local stores and nationwide—is a hobby.
“It’s been a busy few years for us. We’re really kind of maxed out,” Augustine said, during a recent interview inside the Lazy Dog Cookie Company’s 6,500-square-foot warehouse at the end of Ford Street in Ballston Spa.
The wife and husband team, joined by their faithful dog Walter, were watching over a devoted group of staff members they met several years ago through Saratoga Bridges, who were dutifully packaging fresh products.
Keith Augustine and one other employee make the effort to shrink-wrap the boxes of dog treats and stack them on pallets for distribution.
The Augustines were still getting back into the groove after traveling last week to Florida. They had attended the annual Global Pet Expo, a trade show organized by the American Pet Products Association.
Lazy Dog’s Bake-at-Home Birthday Cake Mix had won First Place in the expo’s Boutique product category. Its ingredients consist of oat and rice flour, rolled oats, vanilla powder, confetti sprinkles, evaporated molasses and whole dried eggs.
At last year’s event, Lazy Dog products won a third place prize, according to Cheryl Clark, a spokeswoman for Saratoga Springs marketing and web design firm Shannon Rose.
“Using only simple beneficial ingredients that are not only delicious, but also naturally nutritious, our products ‘lick’ the competition,” the Augustines boast in their product catalogue. “Our treats are wheat-, corn- and soy-free with grain-free offerings. They are also vegan/vegetarian and we never use any fillers, preservatives or anything artificial. Health benefits paired with unique recipes make them irresistible.”
The Augustines are originally from Pennsylvania, where Amy once worked as a microbiologist and the Heinz Corporation employed Keith. In 2001, Amy started distributing her first dog treats at farmers’ markets.
Then, she says, “I got really competitive.” After spending some time in Chicago, the couple relocated to Ballston Spa to focus on expanding Lazy Dog’s business.
In June, the Augustines will reach their next level of expansion by moving into a brand new warehouse around the corner at 25 Ralph Street. It offers 1,000 more square feet of space, and plenty of room for the couple to purchase pallet racks for storage and even a new forklift.
Also, more employees may be added prior to the move.
“We’re pretty excited about it,” Keith Augustine said. “The majority of our space is taken up by pallets and packaging. We’ll stop lugging around everything by hand.”
The Augustines “have expanded the business to international distribution by introducing innovative and enticing new products that charm dog lovers, such as Original Pup-PIEs and Mutt Mallows,” stated Clark at the Shannon Rose firm.
WAM Commercial Associates in Ballston Spa developed both of Lazy Dog’s buildings, which are located within sight of the Kayaderosseras Creek’s rushing waters.
John Bowen, one of the WAM Commercial partners, had to descend from a construction lift to describe how two old houses beyond repair were demolished to put up the all-metal building on Ralph Street. His company had refurbished the Ford Street warehouse, preserving much of its original construction.
Officials in Ballston Spa have proven themselves to be quite “pro-business,” Bowen said, as WAM Commercial went through the process of fixing up three vacant industrial properties in the village and building three new ones—all over the last 19 years.
In addition to his partnerships with local retailers and large national chains like PetSmart and BarkBox, Keith Augustine said he was grateful for the support provided by Bowen and his WAM Commercial partner, Jim Dalpe.
“They’ve been really good to small businesses in the area,” Augustine said. “If we didn’t get hooked up with them, we would’ve had much more of a struggle.”
Lazy Dog Cookie Co. pet treats are available in these local businesses: Benson's Pet Center (6 locations); Agway (Ballston Spa); Ballston Spa Veterinary Clinic; Curtis Lumber Company (Ballston Spa); The Pampered Pooch & Pals; The Fresh Market (Saratoga & Latham); Whole Foods Albany; Honest Weight Food Co-Op; Head to Tails Pet Wellness Center; Niskayuna COOP; Fountain Square Outfitters; Four Seasons; Healthy Living Market; Impressions of Saratoga; Mini Me Pups Pet Boutique; Roma Foods; Upstate Animal Hospital; Paradise Pet Salon (Glenville); Four Dog Grooming (Wilton); Sutherland's Pet Works.
District Attorney Karen Heggen speaks at last year’s event. Photo provided.
BALLSTON SPA — The Saratoga County District Attorney’s Office will be hosting its 18th annual Crime Victims Candlelight Vigil on Sunday, April 2 as part of National Crime Victims Week.
District Attorney Karen Heggen said this year’s theme is Strength, Resilience and Justice. The theme builds on efforts by many nationally to support crime victims and emphasizes a vision for the future, focusing on victims’ rights and the services available to them.
The vigil will be held at 2 p.m. at St. Peter Lutheran Church, located at 2776 Route 9 in Malta (across from the Malta Drive-In). For more information, call the Saratoga County Crime Victims Unit at 518-885-2263.
Henry Burkert (center) at the Ballston Spa United Methodist church with his parents and brothers. Photo provided.
BALLSTON SPA — At a recent Troop 1 Court of Honor, Henry Burkert received his Eagle Scout Award at the Ballston Spa United Methodist church. Burkert is the son of Amy and Karl Burkert.
To earn the Eagle Scout rank, a scout has to mas- ter numerous scout skills,
demonstrate leadership skills and citizenship. A scout has to earn 21 merit badges of which 12 are required. A scout has to perform many hours of commu- nity service and have held lead- ership positions in the troop.
Finally, a scout has to plan, organize and supervise a major service project that will
benefit a chosen organization. Burkert’s Eagle Scout project was to design a picnic area in Biose Family Park in Rock City Falls. The project coordinated the installation of picnic tables and grills and the clearing of a large area within the park.
Burkert is now attending SUNY Oneonta as an English major.
MALTA — Zulfiqar Zulfi has come a long way since riding a bike to work at a Schenectady County gas station.
The friendly immigrant from Pakistan now owns two stations of his own and is planning an expensive renovation to the one located on Route 9 in Malta.
“I’m a true American dream guy,” Zulfi says. “This is a great country. You get what you work for.”
The father of four settled in Clifton Park in 1993. Four years earlier, he had arrived in California from Pakistan, he says, “with $200 in my pocket.” A friend of his living in Albany at the time then invited Zulfi to the Capital Region.
Soon, he had begun biking to work at a gas station in Rotterdam and saving up his money. Through the years Zulfi did enough of that to spend $1.8 million on a vacant property on Route 29A in Gloversville, where he opened his first official ZZ Mart in 2015.
The former Getty gas station in Malta, though, is where Zulfi’s efforts will be focused for the remainder of this year. He is planning a $2.5 million renovation there to create his second ZZ Mart.
“This is like my oxygen,” he said of the Malta business, which is located a short distance south of the Malta Ambulance building and a New York State Police barracks. “I feel like it’s my birthplace.”
On March 6, Zulfi gave a presentation regarding his proposed project to the Malta Town Board. He was joined by James Ether, general manager of RM Dalrymple Company in Saratoga Springs, which specializes in the construction of gasoline service pumps and canopies.
Town officials in Malta are considering an amendment to zoning rules so that Zulfi can renovate as needed. His current gas station has only 300 square feet of space, so a new building with 5,000 square feet—as planned—will be more than welcome.
Ether told the board that a “raze and rebuild” is necessary at the Route 9 station as a means to create more efficient traffic flow near the gas pumps. He added that Zulfi has managed to create quite a “community” of loyal customers in the many years that he’s owned the Malta business.
Councilman Timothy Dunn informed Zulfi and Ether that he wanted to see “mitigation for the neighbors” in a nearby trailer park. Dunn acknowledged the importance of improving infrastructure, but also said that Malta taxpayers should not be burdened in any way by the project.
Anthony Tozzi, the Town of Malta’s building and planning coordinator, said that current zoning rules for the site do not allow gas sales. But Zulfi was grandfathered in as a “legal non-conforming use,” he added.
“The downtown was supposed to emphasize non-auto related uses,” Tozzi explained, referring to an original plan among town officials to create more sidewalks for pedestrians near Malta’s main retail district a quarter mile to the north.
“We’re trying to fine-tune it,” Tozzi said.
In addition to RM Dalrymple, Zulfi is working with other contractors to plan the project, which is not likely to start until later this year at the earliest. Zulfi said he assumed full ownership of the Malta property only one year ago, after competing against other bidders and winning with a $1 million offer.
He said the Gloversville ZZ Mart is taxed at a rate of $16,000 per year.
There may be electric car charging stations and a Tim Horton’s at the Malta ZZ Mart, he said. He added that most of the trees behind the station would need to be cut down.
“I want to make a ‘Wow,’” Zulfi said.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — With construction of the first building known as Excelsior Park Apartment Homes nearing completion, the Albany firm that manages the property hopes to have new tenants moving in before the end of March.
Peter Rosecrans Jr., president of Burns Management, calls the project “the first ‘Smart Apartment’ community in the country.”
In partnership with Epproach Communications, a North Carolina company, new tenants will be able to download Burns Management Apps on their smartphones in order to remotely operate thermostats, lights and door locks.
Epproach connects such devices through its specialized ZigBee system, utilizing digital deadbolts, a “learning thermostat” and 60-watt LED bulbs in all of the apartments.
Property Manager Rachel McDermott explained how that technology at Excelsior Park will enable tenants who are traveling to make their apartments cozy by the time they return; or to simply extend the courtesy of letting in friends who arrive first.
There are 35 units in each Excelsior Park structure that will range in monthly rents between $1,100 and $2,500, she said.
Construction began in the autumn of 2015 at the end of Excelsior Avenue. At a later date, Burns Management is expected to add a third apartment building across the road from the first two.
According to a statement provided by McDermott, the Excelsior Park apartments will offer “modern kitchens, quartz countertops, porcelain tile, large balconies, custom closet organization, fireplaces...and a variety of unique floor plans ranging from studios to three-bedroom apartment homes.”
Burns Management partnered with another Albany company, First Light Fiber, to offer tenants “unprecedented Internet speed and quality” in the apartment buildings.
“The property’s gigabit capacity will accommodate video streaming, online gaming and Internet browsing across multiple devices,” the statement said.
During a recent showing of several Excelsior Park apartments, McDermott said that military service members often prefer studios—especially in new buildings.
Aside from the barely noticeable wall sensors of the Epproach Zigbee system, all of the apartments had high ceilings and very spacious rooms. Each building also offers large garages with spots for about 30 tenant vehicles.
Rosecrans explained how Burns Management is looking toward a future of apartment living that caters to the “great” technology needs of young professionals. It’s part of a national trend, he said, affecting several urban real-estate markets.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — Wesley Health Care Center, a component of The Wesley Community, announced on March 16 that it received a $14,000 grant from the Arnold Cogswell Health Care Fund of the Community Foundation for the Greater Capital Region.
The grant, which is designed to serve the center’s long-term care residents, sup- ports the purchase of multi- ple EKG machines and stands, two mechanical Insufflation- Exsufflation machines, and an AED device. The new
equipment will assist clinical care teams at Wesley Health Care Center in providing the highest quality of care to their residents.
The Wesley Community, a 36-acre continuum of care campus, provides indepen- dent and enriched living, sub- sidized independent senior housing, short-term rehabili- tation and long-term care, as well as outpatient therapies for individuals of all ages.
For more information, visit the website www.thewes- leycommunity.org.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — On Wednesday, March 15, the Saratoga Convention and Tourism Bureau (SCTB) held its 32nd annual meeting and dinner at the City Center. In addition to highlighting the successes of 2016 and ini- tiatives for 2017, the SCTB welcomed new members of the Board of Directors and Executive Committee. A crowd of over 165 bureau members, government officials and past chairs attended.
Kathy Price, office manager and SCTB executive director, also was recognized for 30 years of service. Elected to serve on the 2017-2018 Executive Committee were: Cindy Hollowood, Chairperson, Holiday Inn Saratoga Springs; Thomas Newkirk, Immediate Past Chairperson, Saratoga National Golf Club; AJ Bodden, Incoming Chairperson, Townsquare Media Group; Marianne Barker, Treasurer, Impressions of Saratoga; and Robert Berrey, At-Large Officer, The Gideon Putnam.
Elected to serve 3-year terms on the Board of Directors are: Amy Smith, Saratoga Arms; Tom Wiedmayer, Saratoga Casino Hotel; Elizabeth Sobol, Saratoga Performing Arts Center; Steve Grasso, GlobalFoundries; Ryan McFadden, Henry St. Taproom; Carmine DeCrescente III, DeCrescente Distributing Co.; Jasper Alexander, Hattie’s Restaurant; and Sean Willcoxon, Mazzone Hospitality.
Continuing to serve on the SCTB Board of Directors are: Megan Hennessey, Courtyard by Marriott; Paul Calhoun, Skidmore College; Joshua Cupp, Thirsty Owl; Matthew D’Abate, Adirondack Trust Company Financial Services, Inc.; Dan Fortier, Embassy Suites by Hilton; Todd Shimkus, Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce; and Ryan McMahon, Saratoga Springs City Center.
In addition to announcing the new board, the SCTB rec- ognized three 2016 Hometown Ambassadors, local people who brought their convention or event to Saratoga. The honorees were Nancy Trimbur, Soroptimist International of the Americas; Cassandra Latour, Association of YMCA Professionals; and Jeff and Becky King, National Holstein Association.
Also honored were SCTB volunteers of the year: Leonard DiLisio and Karen Longobardi for their service at the Saratoga Heritage Area Visitors Center and with the Convention Services team.
The Saratoga Convention and Tourism Bureau’s Annual Report for 2016 can be found on the website http://discover-saratoga.org.
In the photo gallery, Elizabeth Zarecki is on the left and Tressie LaFay on the right. Photos provided.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — Tressie LaFay, a copywriter, and Elizabeth Zarecki, an account director, are the newest hires at the Patient Experience Project (PEP), a full-service, patient- centric communications and marketing agency based in the city.
LaFay is responsible for writing content across various media, including print and digital formats. Before joining PEP, she worked at SUNY Adirondack where she was responsible for writing and securing multi-million dollar grants, coordinating the college’s Title IX program, and assisting the President with numerous strategic, managerial, and com- munity-focused initiatives.
Previously, LaFay led edu- cational seminars at Columbia University for medical, dental,
Elizabeth Zarecki. Photo provided.
nursing and public health students. She earned her master’s degree in narrative medicine from Columbia University in New York City and her bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Vermont in Burlington.
Zarecki works directly with cli- ents on the day-to-day planning and execution of brand strategies and tac- tics. She ensures projects are com- pleted on time, on budget, and with the highest quality.
Previously, Zarecki supported pharmaceutical and healthcare clients through her work at the firms CDM Princeton and Rosetta in New Jersey. Zarecki received a bachelor’s degree in advertising, with honors, from Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.
MALTA — Earlier this week, the Malta Town Board temporarily held up the approval of a bid for seasonal trash hauling over concerns about the town’s trailer parks and apartment complexes.
Those types of properties would have been excluded from participating in the spring pickup program.
According to Malta Comptroller Kevin King, the only bidder was County Waste in Clifton Park. The board voted against paying the company a $29,500 fee for hauling away residents’ unwanted clutter and debris, plus a disposal fee of $65 per ton.
King said the amount of $50,000 had been budgeted previously for that expense.
Councilman John Hartzell was quick to question why County Waste had specified in its bid that trailer parks and apartment complexes were to be excluded this time around.
“I don’t think it’s fair to town residents who pay property taxes. They’re citizens, too,” Hartzell said. “I’m not prepared to say they can’t avail themselves of services.”
County Waste, King informed the board, considers trailer parks and apartment complexes commercial properties, which are free to contract for trash services at any time.
Still, Hartzell made a motion to reject the company’s bid until such details could be arranged.
County Waste officials did not return a request for comment.
Malta Supervisor Vincent DeLucia queried King and other town staff members in the room about how to resolve any differences with County Waste. Then all four board members present approved Hartzell’s motion to reject.
“We can’t force them to do business with us,” DeLucia said. “That’s the bottom line.”
In other business on March 20, the board voted to approve a resolution that officially designates Malta a Purple Heart town for the sake of soldiers wounded in combat. In neighboring Halfmoon and other towns, such resolutions often lead to the installation of honorary road signs and possibly community events.
A U.S. Army veteran, Master Sergeant Scott Kyle, gave a presentation to the board accompanied by two more members of the Military Order of the Purple Heart. Kyle leads the group’s Albany chapter and coordinates local outreach efforts.
Kyle, after describing his run-ins with explosives three times during combat in Afghanistan, spoke about the growing number of New York towns that are thusly honoring soldiers awarded the prestigious Purple Heart medal.
“It’s so that communities are always doing something for our veterans,” Kyle explained to DeLucia, Hartzell and the other board members.
Kyle displayed for all present how each Purple Heart medal is etched with the image of President George Washington. Reportedly, Washington had first begun awarding the nation’s combat medals on August 7, 1782. Memorial ceremonies are being planned on that summer date later this year.
The state of New York and a total of 34 towns and counties, Kyle said, have passed such Purple Heart resolutions. But some communities, he added, have resisted the move.
“There are places that don’t want us there, and it’s pretty disheartening,” Kyle concluded.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — As part of the Advance Saratoga Startup initiative to promote, retain and grow business and jobs in the region, the Saratoga Economic Development Corporation (SEDC) is enlisting community input to develop the permanent name of this business accelerator.
Through Tuesday, March 28, the SEDC invites the public to vote at www.nametheincubator.com for their top three names of this early stage company accelerator and entrepreneur incubator.
The winning name will be unveiled at an event with regional community and business leaders, entrepreneurs and students featuring the regional premiere of the movie “Generation Startup” on April 12 at Bow Tie Cinemas at 5:30 pm.