On October 10, the Queens Chamber of Commerce will honor four remarkable individuals at its annual Business Person of the Year awards at Terrace on the Park.
This year’s Hall of Fame honoree is John Catsimatidis, president and CEO of Red Apple Group.
“I ran for mayor in 2013, and I don’t know if I’ll run for mayor again, but the one thing I found out when I was running was how many neighborhoods there were and how many great people there are in the outer boroughs,” Catsimatidis said of being honored. “Once in a while, I’ve got to get out of this ivory tower and go to the outer boroughs and hug a few people.”
The other honorees are Sister Tesa Fitzgerald, founder and executive director of Hour Children, Nick Tziazas, president of Lyons Mortgage Services, Inc., and Christopher Horch, associate partner at JB&B.
Fitzgerald said she’s humbled by the recognition, but ultimately, “it’s not about me.”
“It’s for the mission,” she said. “I will stand there representing all of the people here who make life go and work. Especially the women whose lives are serviced, I do it for them.”
Horch said he has a fast-growing relationship with the chamber and fits well with their culture.
“I grew up in the Midwest, so we’re not used to accolades and things of that nature,” Horch said. “To be honest, it’s humbling. It’s very exciting, and I’m very appreciative of it.”
Tziazas credited the support of his family for helping him achieve everything he has for the community.
“It’s not easy,” he said. “My wife, Kalina, and two kids, Nicholas and Kristal, have been great supporters for me.
“It makes me feel good, but I don’t want to make this award all about me,” he said. “I’m a strong believer in teamwork. I owe a lot to my partners George Sophocleous, Edith O’Donnell and the entire staff, many who’ve been with Lyons for a long time.”
BY BENJAMIN FANG
Growing up in Oklahoma City, Chris Horch always worked with his hands. His dad had a woodworking shop, which led Horch to build and tinker with items constantly.
When he went to college at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania, Horch studied mechanical engineering, which he felt was broad enough to enter different fields like aerospace, car design or HVAC.
But the midwestern native also liked being challenged and learning how to think as an engineer.
“It wasn’t that I wanted to build cars or rocket ships,” he said. “I wanted to be driven and challenged everyday. That’s what I saw there.”
During his senior year, Horch applied for dozens of jobs. He ultimately landed with Jaros Baum & Bolles (JB&B), a full-service design engineering firm. Starting as an engineer, Horch worked his way up over 16 years to become an associate partner.
JB&B works on all kinds of development projects, including office buildings, residential towers, hotels, health sciences labs and cultural facilities.
“If you think of the building as a body, we do all of the heart, the lungs, the nervous system, the brain, the digestive system, things of that nature,” Horch said. “We’re doing all the stuff that, if we do our job right, you never see.”
Horch said every building is a different challenge, with unique personalities from owners, contractors and everyone else in between.
One of the most notable projects Horch is overseeing is the transformation of the TWA terminal and hotel at John F. Kennedy International Airport. JB&B actually worked on the original terminal when it was first built 56 years ago.
“To be able to revamp it and make it new again for the 21st century is really an exciting project for us,” he said. “It’s a legacy project. Now, we’re making something new and different with it.”