Welcome back, Patch Blogger!
Competitive Spirit Drives Colonel, Speed Boat Racer and Entrepreneur
Ernie Bivona likes to work hard and play hard.
‹ Back to Article
Ernie Bivona discusses his 30 year military career, racing and his entrepreneurial endeavors.
About this column: A weekly profile of one of Montville's many residents. Some you may know, some may be new, but all are distinctly Montville. Email suggestions to email@example.com
- Name: Ernie Bivona, 67, is an entrepreneur with a competitive spirit who races yachts. “We do race. We race about 45 days a year,” said Bivona about his crew of nine people. “We are pretty competitive about racing.” His crew is made up of “young professionals in their 30’s, 40’s and 50’s.” The team mostly races the 34-foot yacht in Long Island Sound. However, they have been known to sail the boat to races in locations like Annapolis, MD and Newport, RI. “That’s part of my career,” said the competitive sailor.
- Career: “I’m not really that anxious to retire,” Bivona said. “Because I am not sure what I would retire and do. I like to be mentally engaged and involved in business from a strategic business viewpoint. I enjoy that kind of interaction with companies and clients.” Bivona describes himself as, “A worker. I’m not afraid to work.” He attributes his love of working and his competitive nature with his success in business. “I was working for Drew Chemical, traveling the country, when someone suggested I try recruiting,” he explained. So, in 1976, Bivona decided to” take control” of his income and his future by going into business for himself. “I own and operate a recruiting firm,” he said. The Parsippany firm specializes in finding food scientists, perfumers, flavorists, ingredient producers and food technicians. “I had been in the Army for 30 some odd years,” he said. “Finished up as a full colonel. I am also currently involved in consulting to a food company; which we are looking for investors in our next big push to acquire a trade name to an iconic New York restaurant…so, it’s been exciting.”
- Military Service: Bivona worked his way through undergraduate and graduate degrees at Fairleigh Dickinson and Seton Hall Universities. He had a master's degree and was already working when, in 1968, he “was asked” by the United States government to join the army.”I was certainly not the 18 year old draftee, but I was drafted,” said Bivona. After suggesting “they look elsewhere,” and being told to “forget it,” Bivona went into the military and decided to make the best of it. His decision led to a 30-year career in both active and reserve duty. “My military career was all in intelligence, so that was really lofty, and pretty exciting, cause we didn’t deal in the more battlefield immediate issues, it was always more on the strategic level.” As a result of his training, Bivona has followed national politics and Middle East relations carefully since the 1970s. “We’re in this for the long haul,” noted Bivona about the war in Afghanistan. “I think anybody who thinks that we’re not, has no idea of the history of radical Islam.”
- Married: Bivona has been married to Barbara Bivona since 1971. They have 2 children and 3 grandchildren.
- Part of Town: The Bivonas moved to Towaco in 1972. “We actually were looking for a space in the area, or geography that was close to our families. And was not as crowed as Bergen County. So we looked at a variety of towns and this seemed to be the nicest so we settled here,” said Bivona. “I think we live in a great community. It’s a good place. I’d recommend it.”
- Activities: “We’ve been an engaged family,” Bivona noted about his family’s 39 years in Montville Township. “I have a love of open space,” he said, adding that he moved to town to escape the overdevelopment of Bergen County. To protect Montville’s open space, Bivona served on the Environmental Commission for many years. In addition, Bivona was actively involved in his children’s activities, and coached softball. “That was kind of fun,” he said. “A lot of fun. We did very well.” As a member of the Montville Democratic Committee, Bivona twice ran for Township Committee. “I came close to winning,” he mentioned. In addition, his wife served on the Board of Education. “She won her election,” he said.
- Favorite Thing About Montville: “I like the geography. I like a lot of the people. We live in an area here that is not cookie cutter so you kind of feel that you have a special place,” Bivona explained. “There’s very little not to like, taxes maybe, but that’s NJ. Other than that…there is a certain vibrancy within the community, and that’s nice too.”
- Something You Would Change: “I would like to see a government that has more competitive thinking in it because I think competition breeds a higher quality of decision making, as opposed to one thought process or philosophy that really doesn’t engender a lot of positive, or introspection about whether this is the right thing to do,” Bivona said. He was not happy with last year’s handling of the school budget that was voted down. He felt the township committee’s ruthless cutting of the budget was akin to “eating their young.” He would also like to see less intense development.
- Hobbies: Bivona approaches competitive sailing with the same intensity he reserves for his career. “I’m not afraid of work,” he said. While sailing is his passion, “I also enjoy looking at the political area,” he added. “My military career was all in intelligence, so, you kind of appreciate national politics and some of the issues we are facing today.” Bivona reads a lot and is an active member of local professional societies.
- Philosophy: “You have to be engaged to make a difference,” Bivona said. “I think you have to work hard and play hard. I think you have to be willing to take risks. I think you should get fun out of what you’re doing, and fun isn’t necessarily, ‘ha ha,’ it’s enjoyment. Always looking forward. Trying to see what you can do to make it better…You have to make a difference.”