Who Makes What in Westchester?

A bold peek at local paychecks


Who Makes What In We$tche$ter?

Our Paycheck Investigation

C’mon. We know you’re curious. So here’s everything you ever wanted to know about who makes what in Westchester but were afraid to ask. (Fortunately for you, we weren’t.)

By Laurie Yarnell

Featuring Photography by John Rizzo

With research by Suzanne Groden, W. Dyer Halpern, Brittani Nivens, Lisa Rodeschini, and Carrie Schmelkin.


That was my reaction when I was assigned our Second Annual Salary Guide, an impertinent peek at Westchester paychecks. I mean, come on! Talking about money’s just not cool. Salary is right up there with age, weight, and sex life as Things We Don’t Talk About—until now, that is.

So just how did we come up with this info? For those employed by the government, public school systems, non-profits, and certain publicly-traded companies, the money details were available on the Internet (though we didn’t only rely on it). For the rest? We e-mailed everyone we knew, put a request in one issue’s Editor’s Memo (to which a grand total of one person replied—thank you Daniel DelliCarpini, of Luggage Concierge­—see next page), and wore out some shoe leather (i.e., we sent our interns out to local malls and other hot spots armed with clipboards, questionnaires, and hopeful expressions).

So what did we learn? Some of us make more—lots more—than others (duh!). How does your pay stub compare? Check out the salary information that follows. And if you’re wondering, how much does someone get paid for writing a headache of a story like this? Answer: not nearly enough. Then again, at least I don’t have to ask anyone how much she weighs or if he’s getting any…yet.

Salary: $90,000

{Director of Marketing}

Daniel DelliCarpini

White Plains

Luggage Concierge, Elmsford

What does your company do?

“It’s a luggage-delivery service; we pick up from your home or office and deliver to your hotel or cruise ship anything you might want to bring on vacation—luggage, golf clubs, skis, etc. We send things both domestically and internationally; our clients typically spend four-hundred to five-hundred dollars to send two-and-a-half bags round trip, coast-to-coast.”

What are your primary responsibilities?

“To make sure the machine stays oiled—overseeing all the advertising and marketing efforts, getting PR, and getting the Luggage Concierge name out there to consumers and the media.”

How does your salary compare to those of other marketing directors?

“It’s on par for a comparably sized company. But I’d guess that the marketing director of say, Nike, is making a lot more than me.”

What was your most expensive purchase within the last year?

“I bought a one-bedroom condo in White Plains.”

What’s your best job perk?

“Being able to travel. ”

Are you a saver or a spender?

“Definitely a spender. I love buying things, especially sneakers, my number-one thing. I have about one-hundred fifty pairs. My most expensive ones, a pair of Reebok’s for which I originally paid two-hundred dollars, are now worth between five- and six-hundred dollars because only one-hundred-fifty pairs were made.

If you had an unexpected windfall, what would you do with it?

“Right now, I am in the market for a new car—I drive a 2005 Acura RSX. But generally, if I come into a lot of money at one time, it tends to get saved. It’s the weekly paycheck that tends to get spent.”

Salary: $55,000

{web Designer}

Andrea Wagner

Yorktown Heights

Wagner Web Design, Inc.

How did you get into this field?

“My degree was in advertising and graphic design and I was an art director of Soap Opera Digest. By the time I left there in 1989, I was making forty-thousand dollars plus I was given a car and an expense account. I took a few years off to have my kids, and I freelanced, charging between fifteen and twenty-three dollars an hour. At about this time, the technology changed drastically; the whole industry was computerizing. I got interested in all that and ended up taking some classes in web design at the Art Workshop of Westchester Community College at its Peekskill campus and at BOCES in Yorktown.”

What are your primary responsibilities?

“Coming up with a concept and design for a website—I specialize in small businesses—and helping my clients use the site as a business and marketing tool. I charge a flat fee for web design development, anywhere from seven hundred to five-thousand dollars, depending on the scope of the site. I am also responsible for updating and maintaining the site. For website maintenance and related tasks, I charge one-hundred dollars per hour. If a client purchases a three-hour package, that fee becomes eighty dollars per hour and for a six-hour package, it goes down to seventy dollars an hour.”

How does your salary compare to those of others in similar jobs?

“It’s about on par with others in similar situations. I started my business in March. When I started, I thought I was going to make about thirty-thousand dollars a year. My office is in my home—I work about forty-five hours a week.

Are you a saver or a spender?

“I’m more of a saver—I have a daughter who just started college so now I am especially into saving—unless I see a pair of shoes I really like, like the Franco Sarto leather slip-ons decorated with a turquoise stone that I bought at TJ Maxx for forty dollars.”

What is the most expensive pair of shoes in your closet?

“A pair of mid-calf leather boots with high heels that I bought for one-hundred-twenty dollars in Macy’s.”

If you had an unexpected windfall, what would you do with it?

“I’d take a much-needed vacation—I’ve always wanted to go to Italy—and then I’d use the rest to expand my business.”

What’s been your best buy to date?

“An Ann Taylor cocktail dress from The Westchester. It was 50 percent off; I paid sixty dollars for it.”

What’s the best advice you ever received for getting a raise?

“Don’t give reasons you want the raise, whether it’s that you need the money for college or because your rent went up. Explain the merit of your work.”

Did you ever wish you were in another line of work that paid more?

“Yes, but just the paid more part, because I really love what I do. I do regret not getting my teaching degree so I could have also taught and therefore increased my income.”

As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

“I always wanted to be an artist. In grade school I was always told how artistic and creative I was.”

Salary: $80,000

{Chemical Engineer}

Efran Lara, Hartsdale

New York City Department of Environmental Protection

How did you get into this field?

“I always knew I wanted to do something in chemical engineering. After I got my undergraduate degree and Master’s in chemistry from the National University of El Salvador, I came to the US.

What do you actually do?

“I coordinate the sampling and development program for waste water. In New York City, there are fourteen different water-treatment plants and each plant has to fulfill certain requirements to be certified by the state. The water has to meet standard minimum requirements before it can be dumped back into the harbor. So we do sampling tests to see if anything like heavy metals or other pollutants are present in the water.”

Would you swim in the Hudson River?

“Not right now. Eventually it will be clean enough to swim in, but I can’t say when.”

What would you do with an unexpected windfall?

“Probably I would invest some of it and then pay off the balance of my mortgage.”

If you won the lottery, would you keep working?

“If it was something over ten million, I’d stop. Less than that, I’d probably keep working.”

What was your first job and how much did you earn?

“When I first came to New York, I was a janitor in a factory on Long Island City making minimum wage; at the time, it was three-dollars-and-change an hour.”

Did you ever wish you were in another line of work that paid more?

“Yeah, sometimes I do—maybe a trade like an electrician, a plumber, or a carpenter because they make a lot—but pretty much I am satisfied.“

What do you like to spend your money on?

“I like clothing and watches. I recently bought two dress shirts by INC at The Westchester mall for about sixty dollars each, and a Bulova watch from Macy’s for about thirteen-hundred dollars.”

If you had a choice between going to one good restaurant or three cheap ones a week, what would you choose?

“I would definitely prefer the good one, because dining should be an experience and a pleasure.”

Where does most of your spending go?

“My mortgage. Last year I bought a ranch-style house for six-hundred thousand dollars.”

Salary: $175,000+

{Breast Surgeon}

Dr. Adora Fou-Cockburn

New Rochelle

Westchester Medical Group, Rye

How did you get into this field?

“I’ve always wanted to be a doctor. I trained as a general surgeon and developed a very strong interest in taking care of cancer patients and in surgical oncology. At the end of my training as my family was growing, I chose my specialty in part because I would be able to juggle family life and my profession. Though the days are long—sometimes twelve hours—there are less nighttime emergencies.

What are your primary responsibilities/tasks?

“My work involves the diagnosis of breast cancer and diseases and providing surgical therapy—operating on the breast cancer—and in some cases, reconstruction.”

How does your salary compare to those of other

breast surgeons?

“Breast surgeons don’t really share that information.”

Are you a saver or a spender?

“Saver. My life is so busy with work and family, so when is there time to spend it?”

What would you do with an unexpected windfall?

“Save more. I’m saving for retirement and my two kids’ college educations.”

If you won the lottery, would you keep working?

“Yes. I would love to continue my work, but maybe use the money to pay for other luxuries.”

What was your first job and how much did you earn?

“I was a counselor for students at a community college in Dallas; I helped them pick their majors and courses. I have no clue what I made.”

What have you splurged on recently?

“A splurge was buying my husband a pair of cufflinks for our wedding anniversary, and I can’t name the price as he will be reading this article! I splurged because he works very hard for the family.”

Did you ever wish you were in another line of work

that paid more?

“I never wished to be in another line of work just for the money, but most doctors feel as if they’re fighting every day to make what they make, what with managed care, etc. Making more money would mean more security. And, yes, I could have chosen some other branch of medicine and made much more, but I’m very satisfied with the work I do.”

As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

“A doctor. I was three years old when I first told my parents that I wanted to be a doctor.”

Salary: $75,000-$100,000

{Interior Designer}

Carol DeBear, Scarsdale

President, DeBear Designs, Inc.

How did you get into this field?

“It’s actually my second profession; I had a career as a fabric stylist in the ladies’ apparel field for twenty years. Then, about twenty years ago, I completely gutted and redesigned our prewar apartment in Manhattan, and I really liked it. I took a course in interior design at Parson’s and really enjoyed that, too, so I decided to go back to school to get my degree.”

How does your salary compare to other interior designers?

“I think it’s pretty much on par.”

Are you a saver or a spender?

“I’m more of a saver—I’m more careful when it comes to spending my money. I like high-quality things but I try to buy them at the best possible price. For instance, I got a Melinda Eng cocktail dress on sale and saved at least thirty percent.”

If you had an unexpected windfall, what would you do with it?

“I’d travel more and to more exotic locations. Maybe go to Machu Pichu.”

How do you get paid?

“Most of the time it’s a combination of my design fee and a commission on what I purchase for my client. It usually takes me about ten hours to design a room and I
figure my time at two-hundred dollars per hour. Plus, I receive a commission on everything I buy for a client that’s thirty-five percent of the trade price. But even

with my commission, my clients pay less because of my trade discount.”

Did you ever wish you were in another line of work that paid more?

“No, because I make enough doing what I do and my schedule allows me the flexibility to take care of my children and pursue my other interests, like travel and athletics, for example, golf, cycling, and yoga. It’s a quality-of-life thing.”

As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

“I always wanted to do something with art or design. As a kid, I was always making something: costumes, beaded flowers, embroidery, and macramé.”

What would you say your relationship with money is?

“I’m careful with my money. I’m not going to spend seventeen-hundred dollars on a designer pocketbook; I’ll wait for a sale. And I don’t buy anything just because it’s a

good price.”

What’s the most expensive item in your house—and why did you

buy it?

“An English antique I bought twenty-five years ago because it was just beautiful. It’s an art deco dining-room sideboard from the thirties by Hille of London that features burl veneer. Back then, I paid about a thousand dollars, and today it would probably sell for about sixty-five hundred dollars.”

Do you consider yourself cheap about anything?

“I don’t like to take cabs in the city. Not only are they a waste of money, I can usually get there faster by taking the subway or walking.”

Salary: $185-$200 per session

{Licensed Clinical Psychologist}

James Zimmerman, PhD

(offices in Elmsford and Manhattan;

sees an average of 35 clients per week)

How did you get into this field?

“My BA was in psychology and then right after I graduated, I became a musician, a singer, and songwriter of popular songs. I did that twelve years and then decided I wanted to get back to psychology. So I went to graduate school and got my PhD from the City University of New York. I’ve been in private practice for more than fifteen years.”

How does your salary compare to other psychologists?

“It’s probably toward the high end partly because I don’t accept managed care insurance anymore.”

What’s your most expensive possession?

“My house. It’s an older Cape Colonial on about a quarter-acre. I’ve owned it for more than ten years.”

Would people call you frugal or extravagant?

“They’d call me somewhere in between; it depends upon the circumstances. I am generally careful financially but I’m willing to spend money for things that I value like education, dinner out with friends, and charitable organizations.

What would you do with an unexpected windfall?

“I would probably take a chunk of time off and do some traveling and take a fairly large piece of it and contribute it to the charitable organizations I believe in. I’d also give some to family members and put some toward my later years.”

If you won the lottery, would you keep working?

“That’s a tough one. I enjoy the work but under those circumstances, I really don’t know. I guess I would have to figure that out. And I would like to be faced with that choice to have to figure it out!”

What was your first job and how much did you earn?

“Early on in my first career, I wrote a jingle for Good Humor ice cream for which I made a thousand dollars. The people who hired me probably made way more.”

What would you like to buy for yourself that you can’t afford now?

“There are a couple of possibilities. Here’s the sappy one: world peace. More personally, I’d like some land and a house in the country, a retreat.”

Did you ever wish you were in another line of work that paid more?

“I’ve sometimes wished that I made more money; it’s hard not to feel that way when you live here in such a wealthy area.”

As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

“Other than a baseball player?”

What would you say is your best financial investment?

“My daughter’s college education.”

Do you ever feel bad charging $200 for 45 minutes of your time?

“I don’t feel bad, but I do feel troubled that because our insurance system in this country is so awry, there are people who could benefit by coming to me and cannot afford to do so.”

Salary: $90,000

{Certified Personal Trainer}

Chris Rose, West Harrison

New York Sports Club, White Plains

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