First Financial Member Spotlight: Susan West Hebert

“I’m treated with dignity and respect. What really speaks to me is the respect they have for the community.”

Welcome to our First Financial member spotlight – a series where we feature some of our personal and business credit union members who we’ve happily worked with over the years. Next up is long-time member, Susan West Hebert.

As a former employee of the Freehold Regional High School District (one of our community partners), Susan became interested in banking with a credit union once she learned about it through her employer. After being warmly welcomed at our Freehold branch, Susan knew First Financial was the place where she wanted to put her money. Over the years, she acquired a mortgage with us and also an auto loan when she decided to buy out her car lease. At First Financial, we take pride in offering loans with low rates, flexible terms, and quick approval decisions.

How to join First Financial

If you live, work, worship, volunteer, or attend school in Monmouth or Ocean Counties in NJ, you’re eligible to become a member. Businesses in Monmouth or Ocean Counties and our community partners are also eligible for membership. To join, all you have to do is open a savings account with $5. It’s that easy! Once you’re a member, your immediate family members can sign up too. To get started, call us at 732.312.1500, email info@firstffcu.com, or stop by any of our local branches.

First Financial Business Member Spotlight: Certified Auto Mall 2022

“I refer first financial to everybody!”

Welcome to our First Financial member spotlight – a series where we feature some of our personal and business credit union members who we’ve worked with over the years. First up is Bill Stahnten, the owner of Certified Auto Mall in Howell, NJ.

Bill has been banking with First Financial for all his business and personal needs for the past 10 years. We helped get him set up with lending, checking accounts, credit card processing, and more. As a business owner, it was important for Bill to work with a credit union that could make managing money seamless – and we provided just that. Our team takes pride in making banking convenient and easy, so you can focus on the many other facets of managing your business.

Certified Auto Mall specializes in sales, service, and towing. Their phenomenal reviews speak for the excellent quality, value, and service that they provide. If you’re in the market for a great pre-owned vehicle, be sure to shop Certified – located at 5499 Rt. 9 in Howell.

How to join First Financial

If you live, work, worship, volunteer, or attend school in Monmouth or Ocean Counties in NJ, you’re eligible to become a member. Businesses in Monmouth or Ocean Counties and our community partners are also eligible for membership. To join, all you have to do is open a savings account with $5. It’s that easy! Once you’re a member, your immediate family members can sign up too. To get started, call us at 732.312.1500, email info@firstffcu.com, or stop by any of our local branches.

Small Business Spotlight: The Revolutionary Lounge Cafe

We are pleased to present a blog post which features one of our current businesses, how they got started, and how First Financial has helped them grow their business. If this inspires you to want to expand your business goals or see how First Financial can assist you further, feel free to reach out to us. Keep reading to learn more about our featured Business of the Month, The Revolutionary Lounge Cafe in Toms River. 

The revolution is here! Peter Perea and Jill Mulligan have teamed up to create The Revolutionary Lounge and Cafe, a coffee house that has adopted a theme based on the United States’ part in the American revolution.

Peter Perea (Builder and Handyman) and Jill Mulligan (General Manager and Chef)

Years in Business: 8 years

What do you love most about the business?

It’s a cliche answer, but it would be the people. We have a really wonderful and loyal following throughout Ocean County and even further. Folks who love real coffee, real tea, and simply just real ingredients and local flavors – are able to appreciate what we do and that’s awesome to see. Beyond that, we are able to take more time with having a creative design inside our space. Certain coffee chains are all the same inside, but our cafe has the love of a lot of people throughout it’s design, and that’s enjoyable to see for a change. Not to mention, we have a continuous flow of coffee and espresso available at all times which doesn’t hurt either!

What has your biggest challenge been in business?

The biggest challenge is simply choosing what you want to do today, tomorrow, next week, and next year. Business is always changing and evolving, and you want to do everything – but when you’re small you’ve got to pick and choose what works best for you. That can be tough when you’re a little impatient and want to give everything a try.

What do you like most about banking with First Financial?

Cliche again, but the people and the cozier atmosphere. Sure, it’s still a financial institution, but FFFCU isn’t some giant too-big-to-fail Wall Street heavyweight…it’s a local place with local people whom we’ve come to know and appreciate. The folks at First Financial know our business, and that’s a lot more than you’ll get out of any big bank. We’re a small business, so we want to support the companies out there that support small businesses too, and that’s First Financial.

What is your key to success?

Most people will occasionally complain that they don’t have enough hours in the day to accomplish everything they want, but we’ve discovered that with a continuous flow of caffeine you can reach hummingbird-like speeds and squeeze about 2 hours out of every 60 minutes. With 48 hours in a day how can you fail?

To learn more about The Revolutionary Lounge Cafe and see their menu, click here, email hi@revlounge.com or call 732.608.7819. You can visit their new location at 1256 Indian Head Road in Toms River.

Ready to grow your business? Call the Business Development Department at 732.312.1500, email business@firstffcu.com or stop by any branch location. Learn more about our Business Account products and services on our website.

Small Business Spotlight: MOCEANS Center for Independent Living

We are pleased to present a blog post which features one of our current businesses, how they got started, and how First Financial has helped them grow their business. If this inspires you to want to expand your business goals or see how First Financial can assist you further, feel free to reach out to us. Keep reading to learn more about our featured Business of the Month, MOCEANS Center for Independent Living in Long Branch and Toms River. 

Judyth Brown: Executive Director of MOCEANS Center for Independent Living

Tell us a bit about MOCEANS. We are the community hub for people who live with disability. We have a Monmouth County office in Long Branch, and an Ocean County office in Toms River. I used to say that we were like the guidance counselor for life after High School, but that metaphor only works if your guidance counselor is also a neighbor who has a disability. We’re the go-to place to find answers, solve problems, get access to support and services, peer support and advocacy. 50% of our staff are people who live with a disability, so we know about the obstacles and challenges that disability imposes on everyday living.

What are some of the keys to your success in growing the organization?
For me it’s really been about returning to our mission (providing information, instruction and support for people living with disability, their families, friends and allies in the community. Also promoting public awareness and barrier-free access in the community while supporting individual choice, advancing the independent living philosophy, promoting the civil rights and inclusion of all people living with disabilities). MOCEANS has been working for 30 years and the original need is just as pressing as it ever was. We’ve seen progress, sure, but we’ve also seen new challenges develop. So, we’ve turned back to our original mission to find ways to make our responses more relevant.

Tell me about your goals for MOCEANS, what does the future hold?
We’re dedicated to reaching people across the lifespan. We are primarily a resource for adults, but we want to be there at the times of life that make a difference. We’re looking to offer resources that make a lasting difference in people’s lives. So for the foreseeable future we’re looking to support young people in their transition to adult life, and we’re traveling to senior centers to support older caregivers too.

How can members of the local community help to support MOCEANS?
We have social and fundraising events, so we always need hands. We had our first annual Beach Bash this year, it was a fully accessible day at the beach in Long Branch. Volunteer help with events like that are priceless. Of course, we are a 501C3 and monetary donations keep us working in the community. But the most important support the community can render, is to be sure that anyone who needs assistance gets our number. Our services are free of charge and confidential.

What do you like most about First Financial FCU? I like the feel of a home town bank, First Financial is clearly invested in the welfare of the community. You support financial literacy with more than words, you go out to make sure that young and vulnerable people have the resources they need to manage their financial life, and that really speaks to me.

To learn more about MOCEANS and how you can help support the organization, visit their website at https://www.moceanscil.org/ 

Ready to grow your business? Call the Business Development Department at 732.312.1500, email business@firstffcu.com or stop by any branch location. Learn more about our Business Account products and services on our website.

Small Business Spotlight: We Rock the Spectrum Kids Gym in Waretown

We are pleased to present a blog post which features one of our current businesses, how they got started, and how First Financial has helped them grow their business. If this inspires you to want to expand your business goals or see how First Financial can assist you further, feel free to reach out to us. Keep reading to learn more about our featured Business of the Month, We Rock the Spectrum Kids Gym in Waretown. 

Jeff Kachuba and Mary Topoleski: Owners of We Rock The Spectrum Kids Gym

What made you open a kids’ gym? Jeff and Mary’s four year old, Nicholas, was diagnosed with SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder) at age 2. Jeff and Mary were driving long distances to facilities with equipment designed specifically to help people with SPD. SPD is a condition where the brain has difficulty receiving and reacting to sensory information. Kids’ gyms with specialized equipment provide sensory integration therapy, which is the best form of treatment for SPD. There was a real need for this type of gym in Ocean County and Jeff and Mary stepped in to meet that need.

What do you like most about being in business? It is great to be able to provide a place for children to be themselves. Being a business owner is exciting and provides new and different challenges every day.

What do you like most about banking with First Financial?
The easy to use personalized service of the Business Development Department is great. Also the fact that they provided the loan to help open up the business was a plus!

A bit about the facility…
We Rock The Spectrum is a nationwide franchise with more than 50 locations. Jeff and Mary’s Waretown location is the third in New Jersey and the first in the Ocean County area.

We Rock The Spectrum Waretown is a 3,800 square foot facility containing a zip line, crash pit, a variety of swings, tunnels, trampoline, rotators, puzzles and more. The gym is for all children, but includes equipment to provide sensory integration therapy. The gym’s motto is “Finally, a place where you never have to say you’re sorry.”  It is completely okay for autistic children to act out at the gym, no apology necessary and no need for parents to feel awkward!

The facility offers a gathering room to host private birthday parties. Private class trips, special needs private class trips and open play class trips are also available at the gym.

To learn more about We Rock The Spectrum or to schedule a trip or event, give them a call at 609-622-8285, email info@werockthespectrumwaretown.com or visit their website at www.werockthespectrumwaretown.com/  

Ready to grow your business? Call the Business Development Department at 732.312.1500, email business@firstffcu.com or stop by any branch location. Learn more about our Business Account products and services on our website.

Small Business Spotlight: Aspire Digital Marketing

We are pleased to present a blog post which features one of our current businesses, how they got started, and how First Financial has helped them grow their business. If this inspires you to want to expand your business goals or see how First Financial can assist you further, feel free to reach out to us. Keep reading to learn more about our featured Business of the Month, Aspire Digital Marketing.  

Meyer Laniado: Owner of Aspire Digital Marketing 

Aspire Digital Marketing, led by Meyer Laniado, is a digital marketing agency located in Neptune, New Jersey. Aspire helps drive leads from a solid web presence and sees themselves as their clients’ partners in business, dedicated to enhancing growth by matching them with their ideal customers. They combine business strategy with digital marketing to help local businesses meet their goals and grow with custom marketing solutions. Learn more at aspiredigitalmarketing.com.

What is your niche? 
Building brand awareness and generating leads for local businesses.

What is one of your recent success stories? One of our local clients’ Google Business pages recently received 32 phone call leads 28 days, offering them a 10x return on investment. What would an additional 32 monthly leads to your business mean for you?

What do you love most about this business?
Empowering business owners to do what they do best.  We work on increasing awareness and driving leads so businesses can service more of their market.

What are your products/services?
We combine business strategy and branding with digital marketing to drive leads for local businesses. Our branding strategy has been implemented with our team of three superb graphic designers, a creative web developer, an SEO fanatic and a social media ninja.

Our offerings include:

  • Logo Creation
  • Brochures
  • Postcards
  • Banners
  • Infographics
  • Websites
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Social Media Planning and Management

Aspire’s social media programs start at $500/month, and their SEO programs start at $750/month.

What do you like most about banking with First Financial?
Matt and Joe in the Business Development Department! Their personal touch and support has been essential for the growth of our business.

You can schedule a strategy call with Meyer here or contact Meyer directly at Meyer@AspireDigitalMarketing.com.

Ready to grow your business? Call the Business Development Department at 732.312.1500, email business@firstffcu.com or stop by any branch location. Learn more about our Business Account products and services on our website.