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For 11 years, people filed through the doors of Michael Cohen’s Sun Valley Pizza shop just outside of Philadelphia.

If you were hungry, he’d serve you a slice. If you needed a job, Cohen would likely hire you if you were a Penn State student or graduate. If you were a Beta Sigma Beta brother? That was a good enough – and trustworthy enough – credential right there.

“I hired Beta Sigs for years and years and years,” Cohen (’81) said recently. “They would constantly come back. If they would say, ‘I’m a Beta Sig.’ I’d say, ‘You’re hired.’”

This Beta Sigma Beta network has continued to come in handy. And Cohen – like many do – realized it was a talent pool that ran deep. It continues to do so to this day.

Take Brother David Gibbs (’96) for instance. He was one of those Beta Sigs who Cohen hired on the spot. Gibbs later became a crucial cog in Cohen’s operation. His daily duties eventually evolved farther than serving up slices.

“He worked for me all through college,” Cohen said. “One day he called me and said, ‘I just passed my CPA exam. I’m a CPA.’ And I said, ‘Okay, we’ll give you a shot.’ And we moved all of our accounting over there.”

But Cohen wouldn’t stay in the pizza business. He sold his shop in 1999, as the day-to-day requirements of being a dad to two daughters outweighed what it took to run a successful restaurant. And when Cohen did sell Sun Valley Pizza, he had decided on a full career change at age 40. And he didn’t have another job lined up.

Armed with experience and an entrepreneurial spirit, Cohen knew he had firm ground to stand on and plenty of options, however. There was also that Beta Sigma Beta network – comprised of younger professionals Cohen helped start out at the pizzeria and older brothers like Ron Gorodesky (’79), some of which helped point Cohen in the direction of starting his own restaurant in the first place.

Just a few months after he turned over his pizzeria, Cohen’s phone rang. It was Gorodesky. He wanted to meet for lunch.

So the two friends met up and Gorodesky eventually took Cohen back to his office. There, he surprised his friend with an offer to work for his restaurant advisory company.

“He said, ‘Here’s your desk, here’s your computer. You have a job,’” Cohen said. “So I took him up on it.”

For Gorodesky, it was a no-brainer to hire someone who would bring a certain familiarity to the office.

“Whenever someone comes into a firm that you don’t know you’ve got to get to know them,” Gorodesky said recently. “I didn’t have to do that with Michael. We hit the ground running right away. That was nice.”

Gorodesky’s Restaurant Advisory Services has grown and serves over 100 clients. Getting his foot in the door with the brokerage side of Gorodesky’s business helped springboard Cohen into real estate.

“He was the building block of my real estate career,” Cohen said of Gorodesky. Over the past decade, Cohen has built a nice reputation for himself. He’s been featured on the cover of Top Agent magazine, a publication that honors the country’s best real estate personnel and has earned a reputation as a dedicated realtor who has moved many properties many have determined or labeled “too difficult to sell.”

He was named the No. 2 agent for RE/MAX sales in 2011 and earned the Platinum Award for RE/MAX Internationals in 2012. He was also ranked No. 159 that year in total transactions in the country according to Top Agent magazine.

Meanwhile, Gorodesky and Cohen are still on the lookout for any Penn Staters – especially Beta Sigs – that may come their way.

Gorodesky was recently looking for interns to help out on a hotel project in Philadelphia. He’s seen Beta Sigs come and go like Cohen did over the years. And he’s seen results for those who can tap into and remain connected to the Beta Sig network.

“Of course they all got job offers,” Gorodesky said. “It absolutely applies.” In Cohen’s case, that rings true. He still uses Gibbs – his pizza-delivery-boy-turned-financial-expert – as his personal CPA. And Cohen has made plenty of referrals on behalf of his Beta Sigma Beta brother over the years since they reported to work every day at that pizzeria.

“He worked for me all through college,” Cohen said. “I’ve been referring everyone to him. All my customers use him, my sister uses him and friends of ours use him. I think he’s great.”