In this latest installment of the Casandra Properties podcast, CEO James Prendamano is joined by his the very successful local business owner Sean Conaghan, CEO of VAL-PAK for Staten Island and Brooklyn. Interestingly, Sean originally hails from Bay Ridge, but sounds like he was born in Edinburgh, Scotland. That’s because he’s wasn't your typical kid from 74th Street, Bay Ridge Brooklyn. He also lived a great deal in Scotland playing international soccer as a pre-teen, a teen, and spent a great deal of time traveling around the UK because of it. So how did this Scottish-Irish American kid from just over the Verrazzano bridge wind up an international soccer champ and – is now the successful CEO and entrepreneur? Well you see, some children are born to be fiercely competitive and love sales, while other are not. “You either have it or you don’t,” Prendamano and Conaghan agree. Clearly, both James Prendamano and Sean Conaghan were born with it.
The Early Years, A Big Family, His Mother’s Influence
He was born and raised in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, and one of five siblings in a very modest and cramped apartment on 74th Street. Sean Conaghan, however, wouldn’t change a thing about his happy childhood, he says. He credits his success today to his mother, who made sure he was always busy with a little bit of a nudge, “Oh, you’re not going out to do your thing today?” she’d ask. Sean says his mother treated each of her children as individuals and “she had this way of bring out the best in each of us.”
Playing Soccer, Selling Chocolates, Winning Prizes, Selling his Winnings
Sean admits he never did love the structure of school. He made it through, but he struggled. Sean did learn at that time, however, that he was spirited, competitive, and he was excellent at sales. You could say his sales career started at a very early age selling fundraising candy bars and raffles for his school/s growing up in Brooklyn. Of course, it was his mother who had initially said to him in the first grade, “Sean, why don’t you compete this year with the chocolate sales?” That’s was it; that’s all it took for Sean Conaghan to set him on the right path.
Sean Conaghan did a lot more traveling than most kids from Bay Ridge in the 1970s. Of course, that was led by his for passion for soccer. He played tournament after tournament. And unlike America, where everyone (at the time) – had their sports attention divided among baseball, football, hockey, basketball, etc., the UK focused on Soccer. America is definitely a “late adopter” of soccer, both Prendamano and Conaghan joke, “very late to the game.”
Val-Pak, It’s not just a big envelope of coupons, anymore!
James adds, “That is big, especially now, when people need it most during this unprecedented time. It’s one thing to do it when times are good, but to do it when things aren’t easy for anyone – that’s huge.”