by Sharon Arena –

The weather on Monday was a mix of rain and clouds. I had high hopes of meeting Joe Grushkin (CEO & Founder of MaxExposure Social Media) at his famous backyard Tiki Bar, instead we met at his next favorite spot and client – 323 Main Restaurant and Bar in Westport. Even before I met Joe in person, his online energy and charisma got my attention. No wonder he’s well-known and had an outstanding presence in his community. We connected immediately over that fact that we’re both from New Jersey and share a passion (and suffering) for the New York Jets & Mets. But what really had me excited about meeting this original Gold Coaster, was how he grew his brand, business and reputation, all while being an actively involved family man.

Joe was a natural-born and life-time entrepreneur. His father, who is his biggest role model, taught him from an early start to be a success and never settle. They regularly attended together University of New Haven’s Center for Family Business, where Joe saw first-hand the value of hard work and dedication. Other large family businesses, like Bigelow Tea and Moffly Media, regularly attended the meetings, and displayed the importance of family and how it engages within a thriving business. His father had always said, “You can only trust people in business with your last name,” something Joe still believes today – especially with 2 of his daughters and his future son-in-law involved in his company.

Joe’s story begins in 1983, where he started selling Cutco Knives while attending Stockton College. What started as a summer a gig as a sales rep, resulted in a 14-year career with the company, where he immediately broke all sales records held. After graduation, Joe moved to Boston, and soon became the top Division Manager within New England and the US, leading Cutco’s International markets as the National Sales & General Manager of the Canadian market. After cutting into the knife market, no pun intended, he retired in 1997 with an impressive $60+ million is sales and induction in the Cutco Hall of Fame. His next big adventure was when Joe and his father purchased Unishippers of CT, a shipping services franchise. After successfully growing the franchise to 5 profitable franchise units, they sold them (for an undisclosed 7 figure amount) and Joe retired again.

Working with so many small business, Joe realized that he could share his business knowledge and skills with other small business owners. He soon decided to start some internet marketing initiatives, where he coached entrepreneurs and local business owners in sales, marketing and online strategies. A client of his asked him how he could get more “local” business?  This generated an idea for Joe to develop a network of digital signage to promote local businesses to local consumers. Soon he was able to build and attractive thousands of clients nationwide, who placed ads on their big Screen TV’s in their local market.

As technology changed and evolved, a question crossed every business owner’s mind, “What is a Tweet and how do I use Facebook?” In 2011, Joe gathered together a group of “spikey-haired/unshaven people” (young people who understood technology) to figure out how to create a “turn-key” social media program specifically for small business owners. He focused on comprehensive services with personalized customer care, and offering great value that would be simple yet affordable. One of the key elements to Joe’s success is the development of a patent-pending and trademarked software program called a Social Media Analysis®. This system determines the effectiveness of a business social media presence online. With over 97 data points analyzed, it compares data to industry standards, defined as essential in proper social media management. Joe feels that giving a business owner an easy, understandable and logical way to assess this data, helps them understand the importance of properly managed social media.

Being hyper-focused on helping small businesses, in 2017 Joe has expanded MaxExposure Social Media to Connecticut, Boston, Pittsburgh and Michigan – with over 100 sales reps and interns. He has thousands of clients across North American, including large chains such as ACE Hardware, numerous appliance retailers in New England; and local businesses like Aitoro’s Appliance in Norwalk, Westport Wash & Wax and Sakura Japanese Restaurant. Most recently, MaxExposure Social Media was contracted to work with all Sharkey’s Cuts for Kids franchisees nationwide – who was introduced to them at the last Gold Coast Connect event.

Joe’s philosophy of being “positivity dissatisfied” works for him. He is grateful for his success and is excited to pass along his dream of creating a 2nd generation business to his children. Being married for 30 years – consecutively – Joe has been part of the Westport community for the past 35 years. He is proud to say (jokingly) that they graduated 3 girls from Staples High School and College, and luckily none of them were ever brought home in a cop car, ambulance or shopping cart.

His advice for anyone who wants to achieve their goals and dreams is to find a mentor, get hands on training and guidance. Joe also believes that everyone should work on commission, “the world would be a much better place if everyone had to produce results – from this, one will learn the value of hard work – having a salary is like the ‘golden handcuffs’ and it’s hard to break free.”

Speaking of gold, Joe expressed his appreciation and the value in being part of the Gold Coast Connect community. He knew from the beginning that this group was going to be a success because of the leadership of Cari and Randi. He has attended all the Gold Coast Connect events, and has been able to make many great connections and clients.

Part of giving back to the Gold Coast Connect community, Joe will be giving away a complimentary, new one-of-a-kind product, at their July event. This new proprietary product, Review Manager™ will help clients get more positive reviews and less negative reviews on publicly reviewed websites. While complex to develop, the system is very user friendly. A business’ positive reviews will automatically be posted on all major platforms, such as Facebook, Yelp and Google. Negative reviews will get emailed privately directly to the business owner and not posted online. To enter in the drawing, visit the MaxExposure Social Media table at the Gold Coast Connect event on July 11th, to win one (1) year FREE , valued at $5,000.

Joe was a wonderful person to meet, and the prefect subject our first Golden Business article. He is very inspiring and his positive mindset would rub off on anyone.

To learn more about Joe and the fantastic people behind MaxExposure Social Media, visit their website  or their Facebook page

Be sure to mention to Joe that you saw this article on July 11th at our Gold Coast Connect Mingle & Showcase at the Birchwood County Club.

– A Golden Featured Business

Interview by Sharon Arena, of Salty Red Dog Marketing

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