From head to toe, the building on the corner of Hancock and Railroad Avenue in Bridgeport, Conn. bustles with innovation. Previously the Cosco headquarter, the building was purchased in 1995 by Vic Mulaire, owner of Cricket Hosiery, a sock company that specializes in the fun and playful patterns of children’s socks. Established in 1985, Cricket Hosiery pioneered the creation of non-slip socks and introduced the seamless toe in children’s socks. In the mid-nineties, the business encountered some difficulties, and Mulaire decided to reorganize.
“When I went though that difficult time with the business, I knew I wouldn’t be able to get a bank loan,” said Mulaire. “I had a commitment to the business and the building, so I pursued assistance from Community Capital Fund.” In February of 2006 Community Capital Fund approved Mulaire’s loan, enabling him to increase his inventory and enhance shipping capabilities.
United Staging and Rigging
United Staging and Rigging provides management and staging materials for shows and other venues. In the last two decades, the company has set the stage for an impressive list of clientele and events, from the Republican National Convention to the MTV Music Awards. Owner Larry Morley created United Staging and Rigging based on the need he saw while working as a technical supervisor for Broadway shows: the need for easy access to rentable staging materials.
Previously located in Norwalk, United Staging and Rigging moved to Bridgeport in 2004. Community Capital provided a loan that helped the company move into their new building on Fifth Street, a facility that doubled their warehouse space and gave them an additional 4 loading docks.
Westport Fishing LLC
For more than a decade, Westport Fishing hasdistributed wholesale fish and lobster to restaurants and grocery stores in coastal Connecticut and New York.Recently, as their business increased, the Bridgeport-based Westport Fishing began to look for a bigger facility. “We needed more space, but we didn’t want to give up our location near the water,” said Charles Viens. “Community Capital Fund came to our rescue.” In November of 2005, a CommCap loan helped them purchase a 9,100 square foot building on Knowlton St, a facility that quadrupled their space. The loan also assisted with renovations to the building, which included creating a retail market space, and constructing an impressive 20,000 pound capacity state-of-the-art lobster tank.
Hosanna Ministry, Inc.
Hosanna Ministry, Inc. is a Bridgeport based not for profit organization, which provides residential drug rehabilitation services. Founded in 1981 by Reverend Obie Ponton, Hosanna’s program builds each participant’s self-esteem, while providing vocational training, and has proven to be remarkably successful. Over 76% of the participants in Hosanna’s program remain drug and alcohol free after they graduate.
Hosanna supports its operations through the sale of used clothes from its thrift shops and from the export of clothes overseas to Africa and South America. Hosanna approached GBF (currently Community Capital Fund) when the City of Bridgeport’s redevelopment in the South End neighborhood forced the ministry to relocate its warehouse and shipping operations to the East Side of Bridgeport. Grow Bridgeport provided a mortgage to purchase the building and land at 71-79 Crescent Avenue.
Mr. Kustra is the sole owner of Joseph’s Steakhouse. He was actively recruited to open his highend white tablecloth restaurant in Bridgeport as part of the city’s overall economic development strategy to promote its tourism, arts entertainment sectors. He has over 30 years of experience in every phase of the restaurant business. His bacground includes management positions at the well-known Peter Luger’s Steakhouse in Brooklyn, New York; the restaurant at the Helmsley Hotel, and previous part owner operator of the Mamaroneck Ye Olde Steakhouse. Joseph has been a true success, drawing clients from lower Fairfield County as well as New Haven. The restaurant has become Bridgeport’s special occasion destination place as people come to celebrate in an atmosphere defined by good food, good wine, and warm attentive services.
GBF’s (currently Community Capital Fund) loan combined with personal savings enabled Mr. Kustra to aquire rights of the restaurant lease, purchase equipment and fixtures and provided working capital for the business.
Requa, Inc. and its affiliated company, Flowery Products, manufacture and market over-the-counter pharmaceutical and beauty products such as charcoal capsules, emery boards and styptic pencils. Requa approached GBF (currently Community Capital Fund) for a loan to complete leasehold improvements and provide working capital to support its move from Greenwich to 480 Barnum Avenue in Bridgeport. The company was founded in 1891 and is closely held by two brothers, John and Geoff Geils. The company employs 18 people.
Requa’s move to Bridgeport coincided with a restructuring of the company’s operations and with its need for increased efficiency in its manufacturing operations. Requa now manufactues the firm’s entire product line with the exception of the nail care products. Flowery has entered into a joint venture with a California firm that will manufacture emery boards and nail care products at its plants and then ship those goods to Requa in Bridgeport. Requa then packages the products and sells them back to Flowery at cost who then markets them to its present customer base.