Rendezvous and Reunion

For this episode of New York State Manufacturing Now, host Steve Melito gathers opinions and insights from attendees and the organizer of the 2024 Québec-New York Transportation Rendezvous held in Plattsburgh, New York.

Ever wondered what it’s like to navigate the tricky waters of US employment laws and immigration, especially if you’re doing business across the Canadian border? Steve’s first guest is Holly Black from Hurdle Group who takes us on a virtual trip to the Québec-New York Transportation Rendezvous in Plattsburgh, to shed light on these challenges. As a seasoned HR consulting and immigration expert, Holly shares her transition from Wabtec to launching her own own consulting firm, offering a treasure trove of advice for Canadian enterprises struggling with the complexities of operating in the United States.

Amidst the hubbub of bankers, insurers, and industry professionals, this episode transcends transportation talk and dives into the importance of face-to-face networking in our digital age. Joel Wood from NAmTrans, the architect behind this vibrant gathering, also stops by to give us his unique perspectives on orchestrating such an impactful event.

And we round out the event and this episode speaking with Marc Gyselinck from Canadian company Elasto Proxy on their work in gaskets and seals and how they find value in collaboration with New York State-based transportation-focused businesses. We hear first-hand how Plattsburgh is considered a suburb of Montreal, even though it sits in a different country.


Steve Melito: Hey, welcome to this live and very special version of New York State Manufacturing Now. We are at the New York State Quebec Transportation Rendezvous in Plattsburgh, new York, and we wish you could be here with us. But since you’re not, we’re gonna bring a little bit of it to you. And today we’re here with our old friend Holly Black. How are you, Holly?

Holly Black: I’m good. I don’t like being called old though.

Steve Melito: Well, you’re not old, I’m old, but you’re an old friend, let’s make sure to get those together. So Holly’s been on our podcast before.

Holly Black: Yes, yeah.

Steve Melito: But things have changed since then?

Holly Black: Yes, yes, originally I was at Wabtec and now I actually started my own company, Hurdle Group. We do HR consulting and immigration.

Steve Melito: That’s fantastic, and so what brings you to this event today? Isn’t this just about transportation? Is there more to it?

Holly Black: A lot more to it. I think you’ll see a lot of different types of suppliers here today. You have different banks, insurance companies and then, yeah, companies like mine, where you know we offer HR services and immigration. The majority of my clients are actually from Quebec, Ontario, all over Canada. So, being Canadian myself, a lot of the times, I think we forget in Canada that in the US we have different employment laws and the US is a lot more litigious than we are up in Canada. So a lot of my clients will use me just to help them navigate the different employment laws, how to get set up properly here. And then, yeah, of course, a large amount of it is immigration services. How can you get your Canadians down here working in the US?

Steve Melito: Right. Right, are things a little less tense than they were a few years ago? I remember crossing the border myself to go to see some friends in Canada and the folks at the border crossing were very insistent with their questioning about whether I was going to do any work there. Things a little more relaxed?

Holly Black: No, actually the opposite yeah we are seeing a lot more now, mostly from the other way, with people from Canada coming into the US. Just, I mean, we have so many Quebec clients here in, like the North Country itself, and, so, they used to come down all the time without needing a visa. They were just coming down for business meetings. That word, “business meetings,” is almost like a derogatory word now at the border. So a lot of these clients that I now have are calling and saying Holly, I was just blocked at the border, we now need a visa.

So it’s actually getting much stricter, but I think, with the different immigration issues that we’re having, trying to find a legal way to do it is the best bet for companies.

Steve Melito: Right Now. I don’t want to keep you longer than I can because I know you have an opportunity to meet with other companies today. What are you hoping to get out of this event? You only get to talk to people face-to-face for 10 to 15 minutes.

Holly Black: Yeah, so I love face-to-face events. I think there you lose a lot through emails or phone calls. A lot of people dismiss you when you send any sort of solicitation. So when you actually get to meet people face-to-face, they’re more interesting to hear your story. Right, it’s just easier to have those conversations. So, yeah, I’m just looking to network, make some great connections. I’ve already done that so far and we’ve only been here for a couple of hours.

Steve Melito: Great. Now, Holly, if somebody wants to get a hold of you and they’re not here today, how do they do it?

Holly Black: You can visit my website, LinkedIn. I’m obviously connected with the Chamber.

Steve Melito: Okay.

Holly Black: And if you want to get connected through Steve, Steve will have my contact information.

Steve Melito: Yes, absolutely. And your website address is?

Holly Black:

Steve Melito:

Holly Black: Yes, very simple.

Steve Melito: Very good, Holly Black, thank you!

Holly Black: Thank you for having me.

Steve Melito: Okay, hey, welcome to another special edition of New York State Manufacturing. Now we are at the New York State Quebec Transportation Rendezvous in Plattsburgh, New York, and we are with the man who has made this happen, Joel Wood from NAmTrans.

Joel Wood: You’re kind, Steve, you’re kind.

Steve Melito: How are you?

Joel Wood: I’m doing great and thank you for having me on the episode. You know, listen. You said I’m the man that made it happen. I have to say our partners made it happen, including FuzeHub and Propulsion Quebec and Aero Montreal. All everyone who came together as part of the organizing committee really made this event possible, so thank you.

Steve Melito: Wonderful and thank you and thanks to everyone who was involved. As Joel said, it was a real team effort, a cross border effort, and that’s what today is about.

Joel Wood: Absolutely yeah, it’s, it’s a cross-border event. This is our third iteration of the Quebec New York Transportation Rendezvous. We hold it every other year, so we did our first iteration in 2019, again in 2022, and then here we are this year, and with each consecutive year it’s grown. We bring more and more companies from across New York State and across Quebec primarily, but Canada as a whole, and the whole purpose is to bring them together for a day of B to B meetings, informative panels, and we really hope that they walk away with new connections, new suppliers, new customers.

Steve Melito: And Joel, how does this event compare to events in the past?

Joel Wood: That’s a great question. So the event has grown every consecutive year that we’ve held it. You know, dating back to 2019, it was our very first year of hosting the event. It was big but modest you know, a decent-sized event for our community and every year it’s grown. I think we had probably 90 to 100 people our first year, 140, I think, or 150 in 2022. And this year we’ve broken the 200 mark. We’re up to 220 people. It’s incredible to see the growth and where people come from. We have companies from across New York State. You know, Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Long Island, New York City. But outside the state too, we have companies here today from Ohio and Pennsylvania, you know, across New England. So it’s really, really incredible.

Steve Melito: That’s great, and so Joel, NAmTrans and North Country Chamber of Commerce have been great partners for FuzeHub. If there’s a New York State manufacturer that couldn’t make it today or is just hearing about this event, can they still work with you? I’m assuming they can join the Chamber.

Joel Wood: Absolutely. Yep, 100%. So NAmTrans is a subsidiary of the North Country Chamber of Commerce. We’re a regional Chamber of Commerce, so it’s probably different than what most people imagine when they think of a Chamber. We do a lot of economic development activity and part of that is our subsidiary, NAmTrans, which I run, and what we’re here to do is specifically serve transportation equipment and aerospace manufacturers across the state. So primarily, we have a lot in upstate New York where we’re located. But if you’re a transportation equipment or aerospace manufacturer in New York State and you’re looking for assistance with new supply chain connections coming to events like this really anything, reach out to the Chamber. We’ll talk to you about what is involved and what that looks like, and we’re happy to have you come on board.

Steve Melito: Joel Wood, thank you.

Joel Wood: Absolutely, Steve. Thank you.

Steve Melito: Take care.

Welcome to New York State Manufacturing Now. We are live in Plattsburgh, New York, at the Quebec New York State Transportation Rendezvous and I am here with Mark Gyselinck from Elasto Proxy, a Canadian company.

Mark Gyselinck: Correct. Exactly.

Steve Melito: How are you?

Mark Gyselinck: I’m fine, and you?

Steve Melito: I’m doing well. So, for starters, tell us a little bit about Elasto Proxy. What do you do?

Mark Gyselinck: Well, so we are based in the Montreal area and we are a gasket manufacturer or solution provider for insulation and seals, gaskets, anti-vibration, a lot of things concerning the vehicle and all the technical things about the gaskets.

Steve Melito: Okay, so gaskets and insulation. Now, we’re not talking about insulation in a construction project?

Mark Gyselinck: No, definitely not. It’s uh, it’s more on the vehicle and mobile equipment, for example, forestry, transportation, aerospace also. So, yeah, really specific insulation and not just like a seal. It’s, we support the company and our customer during their journey to fit well, their technical specification and the requirements for their project.

Steve Melito: Very good. So, Elasto Proxy has experience in the transportation industry by the sounds of it?

Mark Gyselinck: Yes, exactly as I said, in forestry, more in technical side and also in transportation like bus or also in mining equipment also.

Steve Melito: Sure.

Mark Gyselinck: So yeah, all the mobile equipment in general. So we do a little bit of train gaskets and parts for big transportation. Yeah, mass transportation, but not a lot.

Steve Melito: Okay, very good.

Mark Gyselinck: We’re more on the specific solution for medium volume, like so yeah.

Steve Melito: Right, and so you made the trip down from Montreal. How far was it?

Mark Gyselinck: It was not too bad. The weather here is better than in Montreal, so yeah, we appreciate that.

Steve Melito: Okay, good, I think you had a shorter drive to get here than I did, and we’ve heard it said today that. Plattsburgh is the southernmost Montreal suburb, so that makes a lot of sense.

Mark Gyselinck: Correct, and it’s true. It’s really fast and it’s really convenient to come here and the same to do business with Plattsburgh’s area industry. So it’s yeah.

Steve Melito: Good, good. And what are you hoping to get out of the event today? You hoping to make some new connections?

Mark Gyselinck: Yes, correct, we had some B2B rendezvous and also there are some nice conference concerning, for example, transportation and also concerning aerial corridor and everything. So, yeah, really, they are like a nice variety of stuff to discover here.

Steve Melito: Very good. And if somebody wants to get a hold of you, how do they do so? Do they go to a website? Do they send you an email?

Mark Gyselinck: Well, the best way is to go on our website and you have all the contacts for sales and technical resources. Also, we have some nice blog if you want to discover a little bit more than black rubber, right? Because it’s one of most common question, right, what is the rubber? The rubber is not only black, they are different application and you need to better know that. So, yeah, we have a bunch of nice blog and yeah, and we are here to help you if you want, whenever you want.

Steve Melito: Very good, Mark. Thank you.

Mark Gyselinck: With pleasure!

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