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‘NOTHING BUT UNLIMITED POTENTIAL’: Mark Pitifer shares his story of choosing the Finger Lakes

Mark Pitifer starts his day at the sprawling headquarters of BonaDent and Danaren Dental Laboratories in Seneca Falls. Once a rare breed, the ‘Under 30’ cohort is growing in the Finger Lakes because of the opportunity, natural resources, as well as access to rural and urban opportunities.

Mark Pitifer & Bruce Bonafiglia

Pitifer with BonaDent President Bruce Bonafiglia

Pitifer serves as Director of Community Relations at BonaDent and Danaren Dental Laboratories. He’s responsible for the day-to-day communications of the company, which employee 300 people and Bonafiglia Family, which contributes to local charities and organizations.

“I maintain communications on behalf of the company and the family through the channels of businesses, the tourism industry, the press, elected officials, partners, business owners & community organizations. I actively search and keep an open ear as to which non-for-profits and 5013C’s need assistance and or I constantly follow up with donation requests,” he explained, describing a ‘normal’ day. The latter is no short order, either. Between BonaDent and the Bonafiglia Family, both are making frequent – and regular contributions to community organizations and agencies. “This is one of the most wonderful portions of my job, I get to deliver the wonderful news, that the organization I am speaking to will be receiving a substantial donation,” Pitifer added. “The conversations I have with representatives of organizations in need fill my role with purpose and joy.”

For Pitifer, winding up at BonaDent was not a guarantee. But, he recalls from a young age being inspired by what the BonaDent team and Bonafiglia family was accomplishing in the Finger Lakes. It was years of relationship building with the Bonafiglia family, and work in the community through Congressman Tom Reed’s office, which made him fully-aware of the Finger Lakes’ value.

“About 9 years ago my friend and I did a business project for school; we were in 9th grade at the time,” Pitifer recalled of his first interaction with his eventual employer. “The new BonaDent building had been constructed and we decided let’s do our project on BonaDent. My father had always told me how much BonaDent did for the Seneca Falls area and driving by, you couldn’t miss its visually stunning entrance. As I got older, I met Bruce Bonafiglia, President and CEO, as well as Angelo Bonafiglia, the company’s founder.”

Pitifer said they allowed him to stay in touch, which eventually led to a tour of the facility in Seneca Falls when he was in college. Two years ago he joined the team, and hasn’t looked back since.”I am proud and happy to come into work every day. The atmosphere of championing your employees that Bruce has instilled in the company is something unheard of and unmatched in the world of business,” Pitifer added. “As far as I am concerned this is the absolute greatest company to work for in the country. Not only does it represent the truth of the American Dream in its story, from a garage to a state of the art flagship employing almost 300 people with very livable wages, but it is the culture of respect, high quality and pride in your work. All of the products manufactured right in our lab are changing people’s lives.”

That’s an important point. Not only for Pitifer personally, but for most young members of the workforce. They are looking for those things – and trying to have an impact on the community. As he recalled, there were opportunities to leave – finding ‘home’ in a place like Washington, D.C. or another state. But he chose New York, and specifically the Finger Lakes.

“Most of my family is in New Jersey, but all of my immediate family is in Geneva,” he added. He considers the city to be central to place in the community. “I’m an Italian born [and was] raised right next door to the family’s matriarch. She always gives the best advice, so how could I only communicate by phone to the wisest individual I have ever met in my life?” he quipped. “All things considered, I realize how magnificent the Finger Lakes are, the businesses and wineries, breweries, cider houses, trails, parks etc. are unmatched anywhere in the Country. It also reminds me a little of Italy! When the Finger Lakes is successful, the state is successful.”

Pitifer says there’s also plenty of reason to be optimistic about the future trajectory of the region. “With DRI funding projects that are taking shape, businesses opening left-and-right, and an optimistic view of the future for the Finger Lakes – I truly believe the region’s greatest days lie ahead,” he explained. “We have an unlimited potential as far as what we as a region can do, if we stay the course of promoting good stewardship, protecting our environment, championing small business and taking care of our farmers the Future of the Finger Lakes is bright.”

As for the potential of those leaving, Pitifer’s message is simple: “Reflect on how lucky we are to be surrounded by such beauty, nature, fresh water, trails, agro tourism and endless possibilities. Invest in the Finger Lakes, you will not be disappointed.”

There have been countless additions to the business community across the Finger Lakes- and for many of those aforementioned reasons, individuals are looking at the region as an opportunity, rather than challenge. “The future of the Finger Lakes over the next 5-10 years will see a drastic increase in population, new businesses, environmental and structural developments, new attractions and expanded successes. It is a joy to contemplate how much good there still is to come,” Pitifer added.

Good things are coming, but it also requires more people saying ‘yes’ to life in the Finger Lakes. “For your investment, you will never be able to place a price on the beauty and potential of this wonderful region we all call our home, there’s nothing like it,” Pitifer continued. “I love the area, the atmosphere, the opportunities for all, and the ability to grow and work together to make the FLX even more of a national destination. There is still a lot of work for all of us to do, to ensure that the Finger Lakes are respected, secured, taken care of for generations to come and developed. We can’t lose sight of the beauty that exists here and how easy it is to lose sight of it. Although it is my home, and I dream of running for office one day, I stayed because I love my job, I love my family and I love my community plain and simple.”

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