Throughout his life, Mitchell Allen has had what he calls “an affinity for fixing things and helping people.” It dates back to when he was a child, and learned to use a hammer and a screwdriver to help his father make repairs around his house in Brooklyn.
He turned his passion into a business when he bought Inspect-It 1st, which has locations in East Meadow and Valley Stream, in 2012. Allen was honored for his work on Oct. 18 at the 35th annual Businessperson of the Year and Legislative Breakfast at the Crest Hollow Country Club in Jericho.
“I was taken aback a little by the honor to represent our chamber,” he said. “I’m only seven years in the business, so to have earned that right and that honor is humbling.”
The East Meadow Chamber of Commerce formed a committee to nominate Allen for the honor, which was presented by the Nassau Council of Chambers of Commerce. “Mitchell is one of those unsung heroes,” said Frank Camarano, the East Meadow chamber’s board chairman. “He’s a doer less than a showman.”
After 12 years as a sales manager for the Motorola Corporation, Allen launched his own business — a goal he’d had since he moved to East Meadow in 1994.
Allen earned his state property inspector license from Molloy College in 2011 and, the following year, started Inspect-It 1st. Over the next five years, he said, he hopes to open more stores throughout Long Island and the five boroughs.
“As a friend, I’m really proud of him,” Camarano said. “He kind of reinvented himself.” Camarano added that Allen went through a period of self-discovery before he bought his business and “turned it into a home run.”
Allen joined the East Meadow Kiwanis Club in 1995 and the Chamber of Commerce in 2012. He is a past president of both organizations, a past treasurer of Kiwanis and the current treasurer of the chamber. He and his wife, Karen, live in East Meadow, and have two children, Evan, 27, and Melissa, 23.
Some of Allen’s work in Kiwanis includes chairing its Thanksgiving Dinner, which is approaching its 39th celebration. With the chamber, he is most proud of spearheading the construction of a 9/11 memorial in the southeast corner of Veterans Memorial Park. The monument is a 1,800-pound marble statue adjoined to a steel beam from the wreckage of the World Trade Center.
Francesca Carlow, the president of the Nassau Council of Chambers of Commerce, which hosted the breakfast, noted that the 36 honorees are each “extremely important to your chambers and your communities.”
Camarano introduced the event’s keynote speaker, Stew Leonard Jr., and touted the community events and food drives that Stew Leonard’s has offered local residents since opening its East Meadow location two years ago. Shopping there, Camarano said, is about more than the food — “It’s about the experience. They really care about their customers and the community.”
Leonard expressed his gratitude to his Long Island customers and employees, noting that 800 people work in the East Meadow and Farmingdale stores.