The Shovel the Sidewalk Story

It happened a few years ago on a winter’s day in Buffalo, New York. A business holding a grand re-opening event invited the world but didn’t shovel the sidewalk to the store. It dampened the customers’ feet, experience and word of mouth advertising. You don’t have to be an astute businessperson to understand the importance of covering the basics, like shoveling the sidewalk.


Steve Fortunato

Founder and President

It takes a true artist to connect with another individual. My mom, an amazing watercolor artist, connects on an emotional level with so many people through skill, vision and an acceptance of vulnerability. A great artist like my mom realizes art isn’t created for those that don’t like it, only for those that do.I took that philosophy with me, from my early days as a sportscaster, to what eventually became my passion, building brands. Every brand, personal or business, won’t connect with everyone, and that’s okay. What’s your art? Who likes it? Who doesn’t? I started Shovel The Sidewalk with the idea of helping people and companies answer those questions. Ultimately, the answers help to create a brand that resonates with those that will appreciate it, while ignoring those that won’t.

Second-favorite quote: “Consistency is the hallmark of greatness” – Jim Tressel, President, Youngstown State University

Favorite quote: “Consistency is the hallmark of greatness, unless you’re consistently bad.” – Cherisse Fortunato, Wife, Mother, Event Coordinator, Social Media Expert, Realist

Random facts about me: Bat left, throw right… two idols, Don Mattingly and Rick Jeanneret…top priority is my family, wife, Cherisse and two daughters, Ellie and Jules…Mike Tyson once saved me from getting beat up.

Contact Steve:
Direct: 716.465.5131

Maria D. Batt

Director of Client Relations and Design

In the non-profit world there is a mantra, “no mission, no money…know mission, know money.” If you are in love with your mission, we can help others fall in love with it, too. The money will follow. I started my career working for non-profits in Western New York. The most valuable lesson I learned was the importance of building relationships and connecting with people on an emotional level. That doesn’t always mean tugging at someone’s heart strings. If you dig deep enough, you can find a way to connect with anybody. That is what I love to do—strip away the fluff, connect with your mission, and create a way for others to catch on.

Favorite quote: “If you think you’re too small to have an impact, try going to sleep with a mosquito in the room.” – Anita Roddick

Second-favorite quote: “While some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”
– Jack Kerouac

Random facts about me: I view chefs the way many view professional athletes. Eric Ripert would be my Michael Jordan. My favorite thing to do is to eat around Buffalo with my husband Jeremy. I have two kids, Teagan and Rocco, and live with the best dogs in the universe, Mr. Louie Valloucche, and Gordon Alfredo.

Favorite cocktail: The East Ender at Buffalo Proper.

Contact Maria:
Direct: 716.909.2032

Cherisse Fortunato

Brand Strategist

I watched Shovel the Sidewalk develop from an idea talked about at the kitchen table into a real, live company. Over the years, my role has increased, and I love being a part of this team. It’s truly gratifying when we work with a client to help bring its company brand to life. Every business has a story. Every business has a why. It just takes the right words to tell it.

When I’m not working I enjoy spending time with my husband and two girls, working out, cooking up new recipes,  and singing karaoke at any given chance.
Direct: 716.807.9776

Ang Jandak

Director of Digital Strategies
Without authenticity, a brand can’t build trust. Without trust there are no clients, without clients there are no enthusiasts, and without enthusiasts, brands don’t grow.  In a digital virtual world, authenticity is even more important, and that’s where I live, not only helping your business find its true brand, but also finding your place online.  As Amy Poehler says “You attract the right things when you have a sense of who you are.”

You have to do right by your customers and users.  Respect them, offer them value, put their well being before your bottom line, and never betray their trust.  If you take care of your customers, they will be your greatest assets.
“Years of love have been forgot, in the hatred of a minute” – Edgar Allan Poe
Random Facts About Me:  I’m an adequate bulldozer driver, and excellent loosener of knots.  Collector of blankets, devourer of breads, I make free food when I’m stressed.  My interests are varied and nonsensical, ranging from video games, comics, cartoons and books, to antiques, folklore monsters, baking, sports, obscure Animalia knowledge and learning something about everything.  My happy ending is a small farm infested with friendly Scottish Highland cattle where I can frolic with my husband Matt and our impish Llewellin Setter Norah.

Contact Ang:
Direct: 603.459.9266

Jamie Catania

Account Executive

I believe in order to be an effective communicator, you have to be able to connect with individuals with common goals and create long term relationships with your customers.

Face to face is the purest form of communication because there’s less of a chance of misunderstandings versus text messages and email. I take these philosophies and apply them to my marketing strategies to create authentic storytelling for businesses to help them grow and learn from their audience. 

Favorite quote: “You don’t have to be great to get started. You just have to get started to be great.”  – Les Brown 

Random Facts About Me: For the past few years, I’ve been practicing Judo and Muay Thai and have competed in tournaments. I also enjoy designing freshwater aquariums and breeding ghost shrimp with the help of Youtube. Since high school, I’ve collected vinyl from many different genres and have produced my own music through the use of computer software and drum machines.

Contact Jamie:
Direct: 716.949.0063

How can we help you?

As brand strategists, we take common sense principles and apply them to how businesses interact with their customers and how individuals interact with their peers.  We help individuals identify their strengths, affording them the opportunity to recognize and visualize their potential. We also help identify their limitations and build strategies to manage those limitations.

We utilize the same principles when executing marketing and advertising strategies.

View Our ServicesCommon Sense Principles