Valley Chamber expo in Shelton offers time for business and fun

For Cathy Verrilli of the Shelton-based Mutual Security Credit Union, it was a chance to spread the message about the many services offered at the financial institution’s three branches.

“We’re meeting lots of different people here, showing them what we have to offer,” Verrilli said at the recent 13th annual Valley of Business Expo and After Hours event.

Many hundreds of people visited the three-hour expo at a Shelton office building, with 60 exhibitors in attendance.

“We have a nice mix of companies here,” said Bill Purcell, president of the Greater Valley Chamber of Business, the group that organizes the expo.

“This is a way to combine education, networking, sampling local restaurants, and enjoying each other’s fellowship,” Purcell said.

The April 10 expo included free seminars on technology trends, marketing strategies and using mobile email, as well as the “Taste of the Valley,” with sample servings from local caterers, restaurants, delis, and bakeries.

Getting to know other people, businesses

Lucy J. Andrade, office manager of Goodman Insurance, said the event is a good way for businesses to help each other.

“We get to meet other people and find out about other businesses,” she said.

For Andrade and her fellow employees, there also was a more personal reason to attend. Their boss, James Goodman, president of the company and a lifelong Huntington resident, died last month at age 53.

“This is a way to keep James’ legacy going,” Andrade said. “The community helped us, and now we’re helping them.”

‘Get the word out’

Mandy Oram of Paws & Kisses, a Shelton-based pet-sitting business, said the expo was a good place “to get the word out to people with pets. We love to talk with people who have animals — to tell them about our business and discuss animal behavior issues.”

This was the third expo for Oram, who noted her business doesn’t just take care of people’s pets while they are away but also will pick up newspapers, water plants and gardens, and make perimeter checks.

Richard J. Coffey of KTT Enterprises, a custom foam manufacturer and supplier, was meeting many friends from when he was on the Valley Chamber board in the past.

Coffey’s father had helped to start Valley-based Latex International, and he worked there for 25 years before purchasing a product line and creating his own business eight years ago.

Based in Hamden, KTT Enterprises sells mattresses, mattress toppers, boat cushions, cosmetic applicators, and other items.

“We market around the United States to businesses, but also do direct to consumer on the Internet,” Coffey said.

Word of mouth

Guy Simpson of Stratford-based KKS Associates was making contacts for his cleaning business, which has contracts with many companies and agencies in the Valley.

“I’m a small guy who gets customers through word of mouth — and this is how we meet people,” Simpson said while interacting at the event.

Many of Simpson’s clients have come through his involvement with the Valley Chamber, he said.

Purcell began the event by donning a black top hat to highlight the event’s “Chamberopoly” theme — a takeoff on the board game Monopoly.

He told attendees the Research Drive building that was hosting the event has a new owner and is being upgraded to attract new tenants.

Purcell also let attendees know the top hat he was wearing was more than a century old, lent to him for the day by Seccombes Men’s Shop in Ansonia. “I’m Mr. Monopoly,” he joked to an admiring crowd.