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Updated: January 10, 2022 / Best of Business 2022

Best of Business 2022: Office Services

Ryan Gagne (left) and Rachel Adams of Venture X

Slowly but surely, Venture X Marlborough – Apex Center is bouncing back from the coronavirus pandemic, offering a business incubator and coworking space to a diverse range of entrepreneurs. 

At the height of the pandemic, Venture X had 35% capacity as it provided space for several essential businesses, said Owner Ryan Gagne. Now, it’s at an all-time high 86% occupancy with an ambitious goal of 92% by Feb. 1.

The business is adding on an expansion to meet its growing clientele, which will increase the floor space more than 10% with five new offices and 800 square feet.

Gagne described his business as a traditional office space catered toward financial, legal, and human capital management companies.

“We take the property management problem out of the equation for them so they can focus on their business,” he said.

Venture X has served as a disaster recovery site for many businesses. When dealing with an Internet or power outage, which plagued the Greater Worcester region over the summer, businesses were able to quickly get back up and running in the fully furnished offices in Marlborough, Gagne said.

As remote work rises in popularity, this more flexible version of office space offers a good model for hybrid companies. A couple employees will come in each day interchangeably, with an occasional full-employee meeting. The coworking space is a good compromise for businesses not looking to rent out an entire office building full time.

Gagne is no stranger to this life, as he worked for nearly 20 years as a hybrid-remote global banker.

“When I saw this business as an opportunity to buy into the Venture X franchise, I kind of embraced it because I've lived it for 15+ years,” he said.

Venture X is part of a national franchise mainly concentrated in eastern U.S. with locations in Holyoke, Rochester, N.Y., and Parsippany, N.J. Marlborough’s location is nestled in the Apex Center, a massive entertainment and restaurant complex constructed in 2016.

The center includes 42 acres with 12 restaurants, eight bars, three gyms, and two hotels.

“You're not going to find a suburban location with a downtown vibe like the Apex Center anywhere else in the state,” Gagne said.

-- Story written by Katherine Hamilton

* denotes repeat winner

Best Plumber/HVAC Contractor

J.J. Bafaro, Inc.*

Location: Worcester,
Top executives: Joseph Bafaro, Joseph Bafaro Jr., Michael Bafaro
Founded: 1965
Employees: 70

J.J. Bafaro has been in business for nearly 60 years and many of its employees have been with the company for a long time, providing plenty of expertise for customers. For the firm, 2021 was all about survival, having to deal with the coronavirus pandemic’s many restrictions while still servicing customers throughout Central Massachusetts.

Best Hotel for Business Clients

Beechwood Hotel*

Location: Worcester,
Top executive: Sayed Saleh, asset manager and managing director
Founded: 1989
Employees: 100

For more than 30 years, the Beechwood Hotel has exceeded the highest standards of hospitality excellence throughout Central Massachusetts. The Beechwood is the only AAA Four Diamond boutique hotel in the region and has been ranked by U.S. News & World Report as one of the best hotels in Massachusetts. In 2021, on top of its multi-million-dollar renovations, the hotel adapted new standards of sanitization, going above standards set by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

Notable runner-up: AC Hotel by Marriott Worcester

Best Waste Removal

E. L. Harvey & Sons*

Location: Westborough,
Top executive: District Manager B.J. Harvey
Founded: 1911
Employees: 400

E.L. Harvey is a full-service waste-hauling, transfer, and recycling operation, offering both commercial and residential pickup. The company, which prides itself on dedication to both employees and customers, is a family-owned business, originally founded by Emory Larkin Harvey.

Notable runners-up: P. Pellegrino Trucking Company Inc., Tom Berkowitz Trucking, Inc.

Best Office Cleaner

Eagle Cleaning Corp.

Location: Worcester,
Top executive: President & CEO Jeff Johnson
Founded: 2001
Employees: 250+

Eagle provides a consistent quality of service by retaining its employees – the majority of whom are full time – through higher wages and benefits than its competitors. In 2021, Eagle introduced a new software maintenance system to streamline communication between clients and operations teams, improving scheduling, inspections, and special requests.

Notable runner-up: Enterprise Cleaning & Restoration Corp.

Best Logistics Company

Euro-American Worldwide Logistics*

Location: Worcester,
Top executive: President Eric Busenburg
Founded: 1966
Employees: 20

Euro-American’s third-party logistics center consists of professionals specializing in global trade compliance, current good manufacturing practice storage, and international logistics. It is a licensed U.S. Customs brokerage. The company is a collaborative affiliate of the life sciences sector of Massachusetts, helping with international trade, shipping services, and product storage.

Best Commercial Real Estate Brokerage

Kelleher & Sadowsky Associates, Inc.*

Location: Worcester,
Top executives: Principals William Kelleher IV and James Umphrey
Founded: 1981
Employees: 25

For 40 years, Kelleher has built a reputation of honesty, integrity, and unparalleled local knowledge. In 2021, Kelleher had record-breaking performance in both its commercial real estate transactions and its leasing activity. The firm expanded its expertise further into the retail division, with the addition of industry veteran Todd Alexander.

Notable runner-up: NAI Glickman Kovago & Jacobs

Best Limousine Service

Knights Airport Limousine Service*

Location: Shrewsbury,
Top executives: Owner & President Michael Hogan, Owner & General Manager Thomas Hogan
Founded: 1985
Employees: 99

Knights offers a diversified fleet of more than 60 vehicles, including passenger vans, executive vans, town cars, and mini buses, with service to all major airports and locations throughout New England. Turns out, 2021 was a tough year for the limo industry, and Knights counts simply staying in business during COVID as a milestone in itself.

Notable runner-up: Joey's Limousine Service

Best Commercial Landscaper

LEI Corp.

Location: Boylston,
Top executive: President Steven Christy
Founded: 1987
Employees: 100+

LEI seeks to be clients' one-stop shop for outdoor services, including landscape development and management, parking lot management, and snow removal. In 2021, the company implemented a new software system to make its processes more efficient, and this year will celebrate its 35th anniversary.

Notable runner-up: Adams Landscapes, LLC

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