40 UNDER 40: NEW YORK'S RISING STARS (PART 1)
By PHILIP LENTZ
Staff Reporter of CRAINE'S NEW YORK BUSINESS
January 26, 1998
President, Ecosav Inc.
When Elana Amsterdam started a recycling consulting
firm four years ago, she tried to forget she was taking
on the mob.
Even after one trash-hauling firm offered a bribe and
another threatened to ”rip her lips off,'' she looked
the other way. But when prosecutors indicted dozens of
local carters, saying they were part of a cartel run by
organized crime, Ms. Amsterdam realized she recognized
almost every suspect.
”I couldn't believe all of the folklore about the
hauling industry,'' she says. ”It turned out in the end
a lot of it was true.''
With the cartel gone and competition robust,
businesses are eager to reduce trash costs, and Ms.
Amsterdam's six-employee Ecosav is thriving. After
initially focusing on small businesses, it has begun to
attract big-name clients, including Williams-Sonoma and
The Durst Organization. The company is now expanding
outside New York City, and Ms. Amsterdam says her goal
is to serve 5,000 locations across the country within
She was inspired to become an environmental
consultant after working as a waitress and noticing how
little garbage restaurants and bars recycled. Her focus
has since shifted from persuading companies to separate
their trash to helping them reduce their entire waste
”I came into this as an environmentalist,'' she
says, ”but what we are achieving for clients is not so
much protecting the environment as saving them money.''
Richard D. Beckman
Vice president and publisher
As a young soccer player, Richard Beckman was shorter
and slower than many of his teammates. But sheer
willpower got him to the semipros. As a publisher in the
big leagues, he's just as determined. And even more
”I want to leave an impression on everything I do,''
says the native of Manchester, England.
He's making his mark at Conde Nast's GQ, where he
arrived in November 1995. Since then, he has been
building ad pages and enhancing the book's image, wooing
advertisers with a potent combination of intelligence
and relentless persuasion. Revenues have grown 57%
during his tenure, to $69.3 million.
The centerpiece of his turnaround plan was the Men of
the Year awards, a glitzy, Hollywood-style production
that attracts celebrities and high-profile sponsors.
Last year's event brought the magazine 312 advertising
pages for its special issue in November.
Mr. Beckman, who has a reputation as a tough boss,
calls his office culture ”investment bank meets
Broadway show.'' It must be a good mix, because 14
colleagues followed him to GQ from his previous post as
publisher of Conde Nast Traveler. He had joined the
publishing business after his soccer career washed out.
”Because of my passion, I'm very demanding,'' says
Mr. Beckman. Arriving at the office every morning at 7,
he cranks up his stereo and asks himself, ”What can I
do to be better?''
Reed Elsevier Business Information
Jamey Bennett tried for years to break into the
clubby world of New York book publishing, to no avail.
So it was no small gesture when he went out of his
way recently to thank the head of Doubleday Bantam Dell
for not hiring him a couple of years back.
The rejection, he says, forced him to become an
entrepreneur, and less than a week later he landed an
investor for BookWire, an on-line venture he had spent
The Web site soon became a popular news and gossip
service for the publishing industry, and in 1996, Mr.
Bennett sold it to Cahners Publishing Co. for more than
Impressed by his on-line savvy, Cahners' parent, $6
billion Reed Elsevier Inc., asked Mr. Bennett to develop
its interactive business and to help put some of its top
entertainment and media titles on-line.
It's the type of undertaking that some of the biggest
names in the media business have botched. Mr. Bennett
has vowed to learn from those failures.
The New Jersey native is a self-taught cyberphile. An
English and art history major at Bucknell University, he
learned the publishing business by working on the
production side in small houses. He got hooked on
cyberspace after reading the work of MIT guru Nicholas
”What we're creating is a total-entertainment
business brand,'' Mr. Bennett says. ”It's not about
where Gwyneth Paltrow is having lunch.''
Copyright 2004, Crain Communications, Inc