WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, March 1, 2022, U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) announced North Jersey veteran small business owner, Chris Tessein, as his honorary guest for the State of the Union Address tonight.
Chris Tessein, owner of U.S. Paratrooper Building Specialties in Hackensack, was a U.S. Army Paratrooper in the 82nd Aviation Brigade, before being honorably discharged in 1992. Searching for a way to continue to help, Chris incorporated his small business in 2015, and opened the doors in Hackensack in 2019 — a registered service disabled veteran owned company.
U.S. Paratrooper Building Specialties distributes medical personal protective equipment (PPE), construction, highway traffic barriers, LED roadway lighting, and general building materials. When the COVID-19 pandemic began, Chris pivoted his small business to efforts to help get PPE to those in need.
“I’m proud to have Chris as my honorary State of the Union guest from back home in North Jersey. I can’t thank him enough for his service to our great country, for his continued work to ensure New Jersey and our nation have the supplies we need to thrive, ” said Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5). “It is our duty as Americans not only to respect men and women like Chris, but also to do everything we can to ensure veterans have the support we all owe them. We’re only successful as a country when we stand together and get the backs of our veterans like Chris.”
In 2021, Gottheimer met Chris Tessein when he visited the newly-opened SBA Business Recovery Center in Bergen County, where New Jersey small business owners and residents could receive one-on-one assistance in submitting disaster loan applications following Hurricane Ida. Gottheimer worked with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to locate this recovery center in New Jersey’s Fifth District.
Like many in North Jersey, Hurricane Ida flooded Chris’ business and he applied for disaster assistance through the SBA. Chris reached out to Gottheimer following the approval of his loan, because the SBA stopped responding. With Gottheimer’s help, the SBA funded Chris’ loan, helping him recover from the storm damage.
“I’m on my feet because of you and what you did here in Hackensack. If it wasn’t for you coming into town that day, things could’ve totally been different,” North Jersey veteran small business owner Chris Tessein said to Gottheimer during today’s announcement. “Listen, you and I started together from the beginning with open honesty on Main Street in Hackensack. I flat out told you, ‘Sir, I’m a registered Republican,’ and from that day you didn’t turn your back on me. You put party lines aside and said ‘listen, I’m going to help you.’ Thankfully the infrastructure work is starting to come out, it’s released this year. I can’t encourage enough that the bill is important. We need it. We need that here. There’s a lot of work with the Port Authority up here between New Jersey and New York. You were there for me, the party lines didn’t matter.”
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