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E r i e R e g i o n a l C h a m b e r a n d G r o w t h P a r t n e r s h i p M a g a z i n e w w w . E r i e PA . c o m A p r i l / M a y 2 0 1 0

Celebration of Excellence

Exporting Erie

Special Edition

When it comes to

True Hometown Banking, We Mean Business.

Michael Edwards

David Slomski

Eugene Cirka

Louis Natalie


Vice President, Business Banking

Business Banker, Crawford County

Chief Credit Officer

We call it true hometown business banking because Marquette Savings Bank is the only bank headquartered in Erie with all of its offices located in Erie and Crawford counties. What does hometown business banking mean to you and your business? You get lending decisions from local decision makers – not from out-of-town bankers who don’t know you. You get decisions faster. You get better rates because we don’t pay dividends to shareholders. It also means we’re committed to this community. Founded in 1908, we’ve been a part of your hometown for more than a century. Business banking at Marquette offers business checking, lines of credit, business loans, remote deposit capture and more. Find out just how good true hometown business banking can be for your business. In Erie, call Dave at (814) 455-4481. In Crawford County, call Gene at (814) 337-7929.

Now with 12 locations throughout Erie & Crawford counties

Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership Magazine


[contents April/ May 2010

President’s Perspective....................... 2 Welcome New Investors.................3-4 2010 Celebration of Excellence Winner: Fluid Engineering . ........................... 6-7 2010 Celebration of Excellence Winner: Logistics Plus .................................10-12

Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership Mission Statement Leadership to attract, retain and expand business.

Board of Directors

Gregory S. Baldwin Jr. Peter Balmert John J. Barber John C. Bloomstine C. Angela Bontempo Dr. Jack D. Burke Kurt F. Buseck Carl M. Carlotti Terrence W. Cavanaugh Rosanne Cheeseman Gary L. Clark Joel Deuterman Harvey E. Downey Mary L. Eckert Dr. Antoine M. Garibaldi Thomas C. Hoffman Thomas Kennedy Chuck Knight Leonard Kosar

John P. Leemhuis Jr. John T. Malone James E. Martin James W. Martin Michael P. Martin Marlene D. Mosco James R. Napier David Poor James Rutkowski Jr. Matthew Schultz Nick Scott Jr. Ronald A. Steele Noreen A. Stegkamper David M. Tullio Russell S. Warner Michael Weber Thomas J. Wedzik Matt Wiertel

President/CEO Jim Dible

Vice President, Chamber Claudia Thornburg

Vice President, Economic Development Jacob A. Rouch

Vice President, Growth Partnership Mary Bula


Matthew Cummings

Contributing Writers Diane Chido Erika Howland Amanda Prischak Susan Weiner


Tungsten Creative Group

For Advertising Information

Julie Graff, Sales Executive 814.454.7191;


Matthew Cummings, Director of Marketing & Communications Sara Galbreath, Sales Executive Julie B. Graff, Sales Executive Melanie A. Johnson, Business Retention & Expansion Program Manager Doug M. Massey, Workforce Development Coordinator-Training Dr. Judith Miller, REthink Erie Project Coordinator Cathy Noble, Events Coordinator Michael Pistone, Director of Research Coordinator Linda Robbins, Accountant Susan M. Ronto, Membership Coordinator

Above: The Chamber held a networking event for Harborcreek area businesse More than 50 business leaders from Harborcreek were in attendance to learn more about the benefits of investing in the Chamber. In 2008, the Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership (ERCGP) and the Harborcreek Chamber of Commerce finalized a partnership that allows Harborcreek businesses access to the programs and services of the ERCGP. On cover: “Exporting Erie” is the theme of the Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership’s 2010 Celebration of Excellence. Did you know that last year Pennsylvania exported $34 billion in manufactured goods, which supported over 268,700 manufacturing jobs and 88 percent of the 12,295 Pennsylvania companies that exported goods in 2007 were small and medium-sized enterprises with fewer than 500 employees?

2010 Celebration of Excellence Winner: Insurance Management ............14-15 2010 Louis J. Tullio Award Christopher M. Knoll....................... 20 An interview with Leslie M. Schweitzer, Senior Trade Advisor, U.S. Chamber of Commerce . .............................. 22-23 Athena PowerLink The Power of Business Mentoring Reaches New Heights................ 26-27

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814.454.7191 • fax: 814.459.0241 • 208 East Bayfront Parkway, Suite 100 • Erie, PA 16507



[perspective president’s

When someone asks me how I’m doing, my standard answer is “Wonderful!” I’ve always been a glass half full kind of person, so I’m delighted that with this challenging economic climate and with an environment of political acrimony bordering on hysteria, our organization is holding an event called “Celebration of Excellence.” It will be held on Thursday, April 22, beginning at 5:30 p.m. at the Bayfront Convention Center. “Exporting Erie” is the theme this year, and we’ll be celebrating three local small to mid-size companies who are “taking Erie to the world.” The honorees are Fluid Engineering, Insurance Management Company and Logistics Plus. The evening will also posthumously honor Chris Knoll with the annual Louis J. Tullio Community Service Award. Chris was an outstanding community leader, and joins a list of distinguished people who have received the award. Our final celebration that evening will be in recognition of this year’s women-owned businesses who are the Athena PowerLink winners, including FastSigns, Glass Growers Gallery and Milestones Quality Children’s Consignment. So we will join together to applaud and celebrate those who have made the Erie region stronger by their presence, initiative and commitment. Because of the “Exporting Erie” theme, we will also be joined by Leslie Schweitzer, senior trade advisor of the TradeRoots group within the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. You can read more about all of the above in this edition of ERIE Magazine. I’d like to spend some of my remaining space on a soapbox about why an event like the Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership’s “Celebration of Excellence” is important. We seem to be living in a time when negativity prevails. Whether it’s about ideas, people, institutions or the weather, it seems far easier these days to get someone to spew out negative thoughts than to look on the bright side of anything. Some people immediately decide that something won’t work instead of looking for ways that it could.


The attitude that whatever bad can happen probably will and there’s nothing we can do about it anyway goes against what has made this region such a great place. I recently read a quote from South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who said he doesn’t ask people to be blindly optimistic, only that they be hopeful. “Optimism is a much lighter thing,” he said. “Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness. You see it wonderfully when you fly and the sky is overcast. Sometimes you forget that just beyond the clouds the sun is shining.” My hope is that our “Celebration of Excellence” gives us all a reason to see that the sun is indeed shining on us because of people like Chris Knoll, who gave back so much to his community. It’s shining because of companies like Fluid Engineering, Insurance Management Company and Logistics Plus, who compete and thrive in today’s global economy by “Exporting Erie.” And it’s shining because of the entrepreneurial spirit of women-owned businesses like FastSigns, Glass Growers Gallery and Milestones Quality Children’s Consignment. If you join the “Celebration of Excellence” on April 22, I promise you will feel uplifted by the light shining from the successes of those being honored. See you there!

Bronze Investors

St. Martin Center, Inc.

A non-profit social service agency providing emergency financial assistance, food, clothing, household items, housing counseling, budget counseling, thrift stores, lead risk awareness, and more. They are currently expanding programs to include a workforce training program for the culinary field, and are also starting a revenue generating venture in the food service and catering industry. Ms. Cheryl A. Kobel 1701 Parade Street Erie, PA 16503-1994 (814) 452-6113 Investors

Community Shelter Services, Inc.

Private non-profit agency dedicated to providing housing and housing-related services to individuals and families in need. Community Shelter is the largest provider of service and support to the homeless in Erie County. Mr. Pat Herr 655 West 16th Street Erie, PA 16502 (814) 455-4369

SIC Inspections

Residential and commercial real estate inspection company. SIC offers home inspection services to the residential real estate market; home inspection, pest inspections, radon testing, well and septic testing. SIC also offers construction monitoring, property condition assessments and environmental site assessments. Ms. Denise Sebald 4638 Highview Boulevard Erie, PA 16509 (814) 864-1441

Klein Bath & Basement Systems

Bath remodeling and basement waterproofing. Mr. Douglas E. Klein 636 West 24th Street Erie, PA 16502-2520 (814) 456-5605

AB Web Design, LLC

A full-service Web site design and development company with a primary focus on developing Web sites for companies and small businesses. Mr. Chris Arkwright P.O. Box 8246 Erie, PA 16506 (814) 746-4776


[welcome new investors

Belief Builders, LLC

A personal growth and development training company that helps you learn how to rely on and believe in your unlimited potential and power. Offering a variety of products, workshops and seminars that can be customized to your business needs. Their mission is to help people improve results in all areas of their lives. Ms. Lisa Pustelak 6847 Highway 6 Linesville, PA 16424 (814) 683-1034

Bellagio Builders

Since 1999, Bellagio Builders has built outstanding quality homes that fit all budgets and styles. Also specializes in custom remodeling of your existing home or business. Mr. Daniel Francoeur 529 Megan Court Erie, PA 16509 (814) 864-1999

Open Flow Energy

Supplier of natural gas to small and large commercial customers. Ms. Pamela Say 90 Beaver Drive, Suite 110B DuBois, PA 15801 (814) 371-3800

Shaffer Technologies

Creates simple and elegant document management solutions to help organizations run smarter. They work with your organization to integrate into the existing programs that create your paper records also the transition of existing documents. Mr. John Shaffer 1001 State Street Suite 1400 Erie, PA 1650 (814) 451-1155


Discount department store. Mr. Charles Cuneo Jr. 1930 Keystone Drive Erie, PA 16509 (814) 864-7330 (continued next page)

If you know a company or organization that wants to invest in Erie and in their business, please contact Sara Galbreath, sales executive, at (814) 454-7191, ext. 138 or

April 15, 2010 | 5–7 p.m. Grant Industrial Controls 4809 Atlantic Avenue, Erie May 20, 2010 | 5–7 p.m. Erie Brewing Company 1213 Veshecco Drive, Erie Reservations required Name tags will be provided

June 16, 2010 | 5–7 p.m. Stairways Behavioral Health 138 East 26th Street, Erie

We look forward to seeing you at these networking events for Chamber investors. Please RSVP to the Chamber at (814) 454-7191, ext. 146 or


[welcome new investors continued [

Matthews Trattoria, Inc.

A very cool and hip martini lounge with an open kitchen–all food made from scratch, to order with daily specials. Every Wednesday is Martini and Massage, 5-7 p.m. and daily happy hour, 5-7 p.m. Mr. Matthew V. Sarbak 153 East 13th Street Erie, PA 16503 (814) 459-6458

Tom Ridge Environmental Center at Presque Isle

The gateway to Presque Isle State Park and the gateway to discovery. This 65,000 square foot, state-ofthe-art, green-designed facility encourages visitors to discover Presque Isle and the many different forms of life that inhabit the peninsula. The interactive exhibits, 75 ft. glass observation tower, and orientation film are open seven days a week with free general admission. Ms. Mary Jo Rutkowski 301 Peninsula Drive, Suite 1 Erie, PA 16505 (814) 833-7424

CRUX, Inc.

Van Air, Inc.

Technology consulting firm providing service, support and hardware/software sales. CRUX realizes that the key to technology in business is not the technology, but the information and cost efficiencies that the technology can deliver back to the business owners and managers. Mr. J.R. Farrar 2913 Pittsburgh Avenue Erie, PA 16508 (814) 806-3228

Van Air Inc., and its divisions, Van Air Systems, Van Gas Technologies and Surgimedics, is a global provider of engineered products to a wide range of industries–infrastructure, energy, power generation, gas and oil production, medical, pharmaceutical, and many more. Mr. Mark Sunseri 2950 Mechanic Street Lake City, PA 16423 (814) 774-2631

Unishippers Global Logistics

Xerox Corporation

Xerox is the world’s leading enterprise for business process and document management, providing true end-to-end solutions, from back-office support to the printed page, to help you operate your business and manage information. Mr. Michael Weinert 5944 Spires Drive Erie, PA 16509 (814) 866-2280

Unishippers is a full logistics provider specializing in LTL, full truckload, international ocean/ air freight, and small package with UPS. Unishippers focuses on streamlining client’s shipping needs to maximize efficiency while providing discounts based on a $400 million dollar annual spend. Mr. Kyle Bohrer 2820 West 23rd Street Erie, PA 16506 (814) 520-5193

lia sophia Independent Advisor

Crafted with exceptional attention to detail, this collection offers a wide variety of beautiful pieces to complement your style. Their artisans are committed to designing unique pieces that are sure to last a lifetime. They pride themselves on strict quality standards and stand behind every piece of lia sophia jewelry with a lifetime replacement guarantee. Ms. Roberta Holdsworth (814) 528-9073

The Lodge at Glendorn

Luxurious resort with fine dining, award-winning wine cellar and activities including fly fishing, shooting and horseback riding. Mr. Christopher Hampton 1000 Glendorn Drive Bradford, PA 16701 (814) 362-6511

ICI Muzak

Homestead Oak is a modular home retailer with two locations: Rt. 20, Fairview and Rt. 322, Meadville. Featuring charmingly spacious Pennwest and Commodore Homes. Come and walk through their lot models today. Choose a ranch, cape cod or two-story design or create something custom. Homestead Oak homes are built with style, value and class. Homestead Oak is community-minded and features many community family-friendly events during he course of the year. Ms. Jean Martin 6621 West Ridge Road Fairview, PA 16415 (814) 474-2240 4

gannonMBA Believe in


Homestead Oak, Inc.

celebrating 40 years of excellence in graduate business education.



ICI Muzak is a music and sound system provider, which also sells and services drive thru communications, security and surveillance equipment. Mr. Dane Crncic 1711 Douglass Drive Pittsburgh, PA 15221 (800) 338-1352

is an internationally accredited graduate business program offering a cutting-edge curriculum with a convenient, flexible and accelerated schedule of classes.


We make the impossible

a walk in the park. Rita Hellyer, Union City ’09 gender-specific knee replacement

Miracles happen every day at Saint Vincent Named a Blue Distinction Center for Knee and Hip Replacement, Saint Vincent has been recognized nationally for its expertise in delivering quality orthopedic care. But it’s the continued trust of our patients that matters most to us. With patient satisfaction levels in the top one percent of hospitals in Pennsylvania and the area’s most experienced team of surgeons, you won’t find better orthopedic care anywhere in the region. When it comes to chronic joint pain, trust your care to Erie's orthopedic leader. Trust your care to Saint Vincent.

Designation as Blue Distinction Centers® means these facilities’ overall experience and aggregate data met objective criteria established in collaboration with expert clinicians’ and leading professional organizations’ recommendations. Individual outcomes may vary. To find out which services are covered under your policy at any facilities, please call your local Blue Cross and/or Blue Shield Plan.


2010 Celebration of Excellence Winner

Fluid Engineering: Straining Toward By Diane Chido

Fluid Engineering (FE), founded in 1986, produces filtration equipment for a variety of industries including traditional oil and gas, biofuels, power generation, pulp and paper, water treatment, and other manufacturing sectors. The company has been selling products across the U.S. and overseas from the beginning, through existing contacts of their parent company, TM Industrial Supply, Inc. Fluid Engineering’s automatic, self-cleaning strainers are often custom-designed for each client, so they must constantly evolve in their manufacturing processes. This has led to continual evaluation of their strategic planning, which serves the company well as economic tides shift. Les Briggs, FE’s representative in Australia, stands next to an automatic self-cleaning strainer in a waste water treatment plant in Melbourne.

Finding Opportunities Where Others See Threats “Two years ago, we had record high sales, but in 2009, the banking crisis only brought us back down to normal sales levels,” says President and Chief Operating Officer Heather Steiner. “But by this fiscal year-end in March, we will have recorded our second highest sales year. The economic downturn gave us a good opportunity to evaluate our efficiency and improve some processes.” “Product and customer diversity has been crucial to our continued growth, even in tough economic times,” says Steiner. “We weather the storms because our products do not serve only one market.” “If the power industry is down, wastewater treatment might be up,” she adds. “The same is true with foreign and domestic markets overall.”

FE’s lead welder, Hal Lewandowski, works on a simplex strainer vessel.

Research and development is a critical aspect of FE’s success, with dozens of patents and several more in the pipeline, some in renewable energy. The company is also constantly tweaking existing products and processes to fit new markets. Even their off-the-shelf products are often tailored to customer needs.

Think Globally “In today’s world, you have to go international,” stresses Steiner. “In 2007, foreign sales accounted for 90 percent of our revenues; without that, we wouldn’t be in business today.” “This fiscal year we are down to 25 percent in foreign sales; however, many of our domestic sales end up being shipped internationally,” she added. Fluid Engineering has customers and sales representatives in Angola, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Ecuador, Mexico, Oman, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and Yemen. “The key is to know about the country before you go there,” she says. “You need to understand and respect their customs.”

Fluid Engineering has supplied a wide variety of basket strainers to the Venetian Casino Resort in Taipa, Macau.


Steiner has simple advice for other companies considering expanding into international markets: “Don’t be afraid of it, the process is not that complicated.” “Our sales reps all speak English, as well as the local language, which makes our travel and meetings easy,” she addes. “The most important thing is to get payment in advance or letters of credit.”

Continued Worldwide Growth Steiner says that many of FE’s international customers expect that and it’s often even easier to ensure payment from them than from some of the company’s domestic contracts.

Key to Excellence

Partner Locally

“We have learned to know when to walk away from a job that would overwhelm us,” she says. “We constantly reassess our processes and markets and we began restructuring months before the recession hit, which really helped us to come through it unscathed.”

“We have some local customers, including Chamber Investor HERO BX, and we’ve gotten a lot of support from local economic development agencies such as the Chamber and the Gannon Small Business Development Center,” added Steiner.

Steiner says the best advice she can give to other local firms is to make sure they do not grow too much too fast.

The Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership has helped FE streamline much of its shipment processing paperwork. Fluid Engineering is an Investor in the Chamber.

Fluid Engineering

“The Commonwealth’s International Trade Office is also currently helping us find new sales representatives in Brazil, Egypt, and South Africa,” adds Steiner. “One of our products will be “We are thrilled to be honored as part of the Chamber and Growth Partnership’s Celebration of Excellence this year, especially since the other two awardees are our partners,” she says. “Insurance Management handles all of our complex insurance needs and Logistics Plus tackles all of our international shipping so it’s nice to be recognized along with our service providers, both of which really do an excellent job.”

part of the project to rebuild the World Trade Center.” ­—Heather Steiner, Fluid Engineering President & COO

Fluid Engineering has supplied three automatic selfcleaning strainers to the Three Gorges Dam in China, the world’s largest electricitygenerating plant.


Congratulations to this year’s award recipients and to all those companies that keep Erie’s future bright!

1431 East Avenue • PO Box 1391 • Erie, PA 16512 800-836-0259 (Toll Free) 814-452-4549 (Main Phone) 814-456-6107 (Fax)

Fluid Engineering Fluid Engineering would like to congratulate our fellow Award recipients. Our company’s success lies in developing outstanding business relationships. We are proud that our fellow awardees are also two of our most important business partners and we celebrate their success.

1432 Walnut Street Erie, PA 16502-1746 USA Phone (814) 453-5014 Fax (814) 452-6573 Email: Web: 8

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2010 Celebration of Excellence Winner

Logistics Plus Puts Erie – and Our By Susan Weiner

It’s right there on the logo: by air, by water, by road, by rail. Logistics Plus has been transporting and exporting materials, equipment and products for hundreds of customers over the past 13 years. With an estimated revenue of $80 million in 2009, Logistics Plus, a Silver Investor in the Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership (ERCGP), makes a success of “Exporting Erie.” The “logistics” part of the name is easy to understand: you get the right thing to the right place at the right time. But what’s the “plus”? If you talk to CEO Jim Berlin, you soon learn that relationships have something to do with the extras that make this company so successful. In 1996, Jim Berlin was managing the Jamestown, N.Y., terminal of the USF Red Star Express trucking company. A manager at GE Transportation, the terminal’s biggest customer, approached Berlin about starting a company that would provide inbound logistics for GE Transportation. Jim accepted the challenge, taking his sales manager and office manager with him to a small office in GE’s Erie complex. A year later, GE recognized the fledgling company for its Best Practices in logistics at the corporate annual meeting. When GE Transportation responded to the corporate call for expansion into Mexico, Logistics Plus backed the company up by handling the exporting of parts and materials out of Mexico and into the Erie plant. For this work, Logistics Plus received recognition for its Best Practices again in 1998. As GE Transportation began doing business in Eastern Europe and Asia, Logistics Plus took care of the importing. “When

we started Logistics Plus, GE Transportation was a $1 billion company with a predominantly domestic supply base. A dozen years later, it had become a $5 billion company with around 70 percent of its supplies from overseas,” Berlin said. “We were part of changing the nature of the company. As GE Transportation expanded and opened offices in other countries, the company took us with them.”

Global Reach In the meantime, Logistics Plus took on other customers as well, and the number of employees grew from five in 1996 to more than 200 today. Berlin has fostered an atmosphere of family among his employees. Like a huge family album, photos from employees representing the company’s 20 offices spread over 17 countries cover several bulletin boards along the hall of Logistics Plus’s offices. “I’m an old coach,” Berlin said, mentioning his years as a high school coach for both boys and girls soccer and baseball. “I loved to help teams be better than they thought they could be. At Logistics Plus, we have a passion to do the job right. We never say die. This determination comes through in our reputation. We have to jump on things to avoid emergencies or to fix them when they do happen.” Emergencies can come up anytime, day or night—or weekends. Berlin related one example: “A few years ago, a local manufacturer had a situation where a customer in Manchester, U.K., urgently needed a small part—50 pounds—to get a line back up and running. Down time was costing the customer tens of thousands of dollars an hour. We got the call on a Friday afternoon. We had one of our employees, an accountant, pick up the part, stop home and grab a change of clothes, get on a plane, fly directly to England and deliver the part by hand on Saturday morning, their time.” Why does Logistics Plus go to these extremes? “We pride ourselves in helping U.S. businesses grow their market worldwide. It’s our job to properly manage the supply chain and delivery for a company. We save money and time and take away headaches for our customers,” Berlin said. “Our customers in manufacturing can focus on manufacturing, and we take care of the rest. It’s a partnership. We assure our customer: if you fall back, we’ll catch you.”


Products – On the Map If you browse through customer comments on the company’s Web site or the 90-page book of customer testimonials, you can believe the trust companies have in Logistics Plus to move the right thing to the right place at the right time. How does the company do it? “Besides a passion for excellence, our employees have industry knowledge and knowledge of customs rules. They are specialists at what they do,” Berlin said. “And our relationships with vendors are important to us. That’s one of the secrets of our success,” he continued. “Companies are people. If you know people and they like you, they will tend to try to help you. Most of us came from the transportation industry ourselves and understand the challenges. We find a common ground in working with vendors.” Strong relationships have contributed not only to Logistics Plus’s reputation but to a wide range of awards, which are displayed on the company’s Web site. Among them are the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year (World Hall of Fame) for Jim Berlin in 2005; and a Top Small Workplaces Finalist Award from The Wall Street Journal in 2007. “The local awards are important, too,” he said. “But I am most proud of the compilation of what some of our customers have said about us over the years. I think that says who we are and what we do more than any award ever could.”


“...At Logistics Plus, we have a passion to do the job right....”


Hometown Connections Adding to Logistics Plus’s reputation and awards is the prestige of its headquarters in historic Union Station. “Union Station was a center of commerce in its day. We’ve helped it be a center of business again and helped to bring the neighborhood back to life,” Berlin said. “Visitors don’t expect to see us in a building like this. They’re impressed.” With its growing business and stature in its field, Logistics Plus—along with its 100-plus local employees—has an impact on the Erie area by injecting dollars into the local economy through taxes and purchases. “We also enable area companies to be more competitive and more successful by helping them export their products,” Berlin said.

Logistics Plus has worked with numerous local companies in just that way­—with containerized cargo as well as trade show booths and materials for trade fairs in Europe and the Middle East. In addition, Logistics Plus has exported two shiploads of biofuel from HeroBX out of the Port of Erie to Europe. Just a handful of other local companies that Logistics Plus has exported for include: Ameridrives; Environmental Reclamation Services; Fluid Engineering; Lord Manufacturing; Reed Manufacturing; and Skinner Engine. Among them, their products have gone to five continents. Berlin said Logistics Plus will ship anywhere in the world the customer needs to go. So far, Logistics Plus has exported to 107 countries. Every letter of the alphabet—except W, X and Z—is represented on that list—from Afghanistan, Bolivia and China to Uzbekistan, Vietnam and Yemen. Berlin encourages area companies considering entering the global market. “Expanding your market to other countries creates jobs here and makes your mark on the world,” he said. “If any local company feels they have a product that would be desirable overseas, we can get it there.”


Thank you to our many customers that rely on our export services.

Celebrating 50 Years of Community Service 814.453.5806

Celebration of Excellence... Celebration of Community

Congratulations to Insurance Management Company and Fluid Engineering from

Stairways thanks each celebration of excellence winner for your tremendous contribution to our region...

“Passion for Excellence”

and for your lasting commitment to making a difference in our community.

1406 Peach Street Erie, PA 16501 814-461-7600


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2010 Celebration of Excellence Winner

Insurance Management Company: By Amanda Prischak

Insurance Management Company has always been exclusively based in our little corner of northwestern Pennsylvania. But the work coming out of the insurance broker’s West Ninth Street office benefits 110 industrial and institutional clients in locations spanning 27 states and 25 countries. “We went the direction our clients went,” explains President John C. Bloomstine, CPCU, ARM. “We expanded our network of international insurance brokers to respond to our clients’ international expansion.” That willingness to substantially stretch its geographic reach over the past 20 years has helped increase its growth and reputation. Today, Insurance Management Company shows no signs of slowing down as it aims to both maintain the high standard of excellence that jumpstarted its initial success and to expand into other insurance sectors. Yet at the heart of this now globally connected company is a family business with strong hometown roots.

A Proud Legacy Ever since Ralph C. Bloomstine founded the agency in 1933, the company has remained an independent, family-owned operation. When Ralph passed away in 1956, his son Bill served as president until 1990; during Bill Bloomstine’s tenure, the company increased its commercial and industrial accounts and moved the offices from State Street to its current location. The third generation of Bloomstines is now in charge, with Bill’s son John at the helm; John’s brother Chris serving as vice president, secretary, and senior client advisor; and John’s sister Beth serving as vice president, treasurer, and operations manager.


John Bloomstine wouldn’t want it any other way, citing the ability to control the direction of the business as the major upside to running a family operation. It is an arrangement that he’d like to see continue for many years to come. “I absolutely hope that one of our kids takes over the company someday,” says Bloomstine in reference to his niece, nephew, and the five children he has between the ages of 11 and 16.

From Erie to the World Insurance Management Company currently serves 70 Erie and eight Crawford County companies, and in the early 1990s, John Bloomstine noticed that many of them were opening facilities in, or exporting to, countries outside the U. S. By the late 1990s, this trend had really taken off.

“Once that happened, we had more of an opportunity to network with other insurance brokers outside the U.S., which lead to a reverse flow situation. This meant that Insurance Management was being asked to handle the insurance and risk management services for the U.S. operations of global companies headquartered outside the U.S. like Australia’s Reliance Worldwide and Spain’s Tubacex.” Insurance Management Company continues to grow and serve an international clientele, a fact illustrated at The company Web site can be translated into no less than nine different languages.

A History of Success This ability to change with the times while still maintaining the sort of service that keeps clients on board year after year has won Insurance Management Company a sizeable number of accolades. An Erie Quality Award, a Risk and Insurance Management Society’s National Quality Award, a Pennsylvania State Quality Award— all these and many more are displayed on a stately, straight-from-Lloyd’s of London, wooden table in Insurance Management Company’s conference room.

Insurance Management Company’s leadership from left, Senior Client Advisors Jack F. Grimm, F. Cole Stearns and Richard S. Miller with John C. Bloomstine, president.

Serving Companies in Erie and Beyond Senior Client Advisor Jack F. Grimm, ARM, credits attention to detail, a strong client focus, and a passion for the work as the secrets behind the company’s success. “It also helps that our focus on industrial and institutional clients makes our work highly differentiated in the market,” adds Senior Client Advisor F. Cole Stearns, J.D. “Our product is our expertise, and we stay on the cutting edge of what we do.” To ensure associates stay in-the-know about all things insurance, the company maintains what Bloomstine claims is one of “the best libraries on insurance on the East coast.” Another foundation for Insurance Management Company’s success is the fact that many senior-level employees worked for large companies outside of the insurance industry before they came on board. Associates say this gives them unique insight into clients’ needs because they can anticipate, and better understand, what those on the other side of the table are thinking. A final reason behind the company’s success is the spirit of teamwork among its 25 associates. “We hold a meeting at 8:15 each morning,” says Bloomstine. “Everyone attends so that we can share what took place the day before and what activities are planned for the current day as well as discuss industry news and information. It really helps us get rid of waste and inefficiency, and everyone is in the know.” The office-less, open architecture layout of Insurance Management Company’s headquarters further facilitates this sense of teamwork among associates. And should anyone need to have a word with the boss, they can stop by Bloomstine’s en plein air desk that is situated smack in the middle of the room.

John C. Bloomstine accepts the 1999 National Quality Award on behalf of IMC from the 8,000-member Risk and Insurance Management Society, the premier association of professional risk managers in the United States.

Going Forward Just as sensitivity to business trends helped Insurance Management Company become a global player in the 20th century, so too will a willingness to expand into new sectors help it remain strong in the 21st century. “Our goal is to continue to grow the business through constant networking,” says Bloomstine. “This will let us gain clients from a variety of sectors and locations.” One of the key ways that has, and continues, to help the company connect with potential clients is through the networking opportunities investing in the Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership affords.

Insurance Management Company is a Gold Investor whose ties with the Chamber go back to 1975. Bloomstine, who serves on the Chamber’s Board of Directors, adds that many of Insurance Management Company’s clients belong to the Chamber. “Being an investor brings us into contact with executive-level people from many different companies,” he says. On April 22, Insurance Management Company will benefit in a new way from the Chamber when they accept a 2010 Celebration of Excellence Award. “This is such a nice and unexpected recognition,” says Bloomstine. “We’re thrilled.”

W orking with an international clientele Here are Insurance Management Company employees’ top tips on doing business with companies the world over:

› Become a technophile. Insurance Management Company employees are avid users of the latest

technology that lets them stay in touch with clients in other countries and time zones. “I keep a Blackberry within arm’s reach so that I can answer urgent overseas emails in the evening or on the weekend,” says Senior Client Advisor Richard S. Miller, a former finance project manager for GE Transportation.

› Invest in face time with overseas clients. It is not uncommon for Insurance Management Company employees to travel to overseas clients’ bases of operation, to make arrangements to see international clients when they come to the U.S., or to attend industry events that will bring them in contact with overseas clients.

› Be sensitive to a company’s needs and culture. Insurance Management Company associates attempt to gain an understanding of not just the company, but also the country in which it resides when they start a professional relationship. The company also has a Spanish-speaking associate on staff.


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Grow your business by accessing global markets.

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Pirrello Enterprises, Inc. Scanning Solutions


The Hold-N-Scan process involves holding your records while scanning them into digital format. This process can be arranged on a monthly basis, at a pace specified by our client, in order to match a set budget. Pirrello Enterprises is aware of the challenges record managers face when trying to budget for the storage and/or conversion of their records. In an attempt to alleviate the headache of budget constraints, Pirrello Enterprises has developed Hold-N-Scan. Hold-N-Scan allows clients to convert their records to digital images over a specified period of time. This allows facilites to split the cost of converting their records into multiple budget years while the records are at Pirrello Enterprises Facility. The records are immediately removed freeing up precious office space and then are returned to you in a convenient electronic form on a monthly basis. Why throw your precious budget dollars away on off-site storage and only have a bill to show for it? Using Pirrello Enterprises you will receive digitized records for instant access plus, at the end of your contract you own your electronic records. No more storage fees ever!! Pirrello Enterprises Inc. is committed to working with each customer to devise the best fit for their budget.

Why choose Pirrello Enterprises? Simultaneous access to information No capital investment Free basic set-up and support Hold-n-Scan with digital records on site Each CD can hold approximately 20,000 images Print fax and e-mail capabilities Eliminates the need for a permanent ďŹ le area Superior customer service

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2010 Louis J. Tullio Award At its Celebration of Excellence, the Board of Directors of the Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership will posthumously award the 2010 Louis J. Tullio Community Service award to PNC Bank’s Christopher M. Knoll. Mr. Knoll (1955-2010) served as executive vice president and market manager for both corporate and institutional banking and commercial business banking for the PNC Financial Services Group in Northwestern PA. In this position, he was responsible for leading the bank’s commercial sales development and business growth in the region. Chris joined PNC in 1985 after seven years experience in middle market banking in Pittsburgh and Dallas.

Christopher M. Knoll

A native of Erie, Mr. Knoll graduated from Cathedral Preparatory School in 1973. He obtained his Bachelor of Science in management degree in 1977 and Master of Business Administration in 1978 from Gannon University. He was awarded the 2003 President’s Award by Gannon University’s Small Business Development Center in recognition of achievements and contributions to the Erie community and Gannon University.

A very active member of the Erie community, Chris has served in a leadership capacity on many nonprofit boards and associations. He held numerous positions in the Erie Rotary, including district governor, sssistant district governor, past president, vice president, program chair, French team host, and coordinator of Erie County Polio Plus Campaign.


He and his wife, Arlene, were very active in the Rotary Golf Exchange with Scotland. Chris also served on the Hamot Health System Board of Trustees, the Board of Regional Health Services, Inc, the E-Business/Advanced Information Technology Board, the Council of Fellows for Penn State-Erie Executive Board, the Entrepreneurial Advisory Board, the Economic Development Corporate of Erie County as vice chairman, the Erie Industrial Development Corporation, GEIDC, and the United Way Leadership Giving, where he chaired their leadership giving. Additionally, he actively supported the Boys Scouts of America, French Creek Council and was honored as their Distinguished Citizen of the Year in 2007. At PNC, Mr. Knoll was honored with the Chairman’s Circle Performance Award in 2007. Mr. Knoll is survived by his wife, Arlene; two daughters, Jennifer Reinert and her husband Anthony of Langhorne, Pa., Lindsay Knoll of Chadds Ford, Pa.; and son Andrew Knoll and his wife Lauren of Stamford, Conn. Named after the late Louis J. Tullio, mayor of the City of Erie for more than 30 years, the Tullio Community Service Award recognizes a person or persons who have performed outstanding service by actively using abilities, initiative, resources and energies to sustain and improve the Erie region for present and future generations. The ERCGP’s Board of Directors selects the nominees and winners.


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[i nsights leadership

An interview with

Leslie M. Schweitzer Senior Trade Advisor U.S. Chamber of Commerce

ERIE: What is TradeRoots and why is building awareness of the importance of international trade so important? “TradeRoots is the only sustained grassroots trade education program in America. Other organizations will ramp up when there is a major vote on trade legislation and then close up shop when it is over. We work aggressively to educate, motivate and activate our vast network of chambers, associations and other groups throughout America on the significance of international trade. It has never been as important as it is now for small and medium sized companies to engage internationally. After all, 96 percent of the world’s consumers live outside of the U.S. This is all about jobs and opportunity.” ERIE: The U.S. Chamber has stressed that a critical step toward jumpstarting our economy and reigniting exports will be expanding initiatives that help small businesses tap overseas customers. What is currently being done to help businesses here take advantage of market opportunities overseas?

talking points Born: Kansas (grew up in a small farm community) Family: Married with two grown sons Education: University of Kansas, University of Copenhagen and B. S. from George Washington University Favorite Book: Hemingway’s novels in general Current Book: In the Graveyard of Empires by Seth Jones


“The most important priority for the U.S. Chamber is jobs. We need to produce 20 million jobs in the next decade. Business will create those jobs, but we need smart government policies to allow that to happen. We need to double our exports in the next five years. There is a lot of very positive rhetoric in Washington right now because of the President’s National Export Initiative that was announced in mid-March. The overall goal is to improve conditions that directly affect the private sector’s ability to export. This will mean an increase in resources across the board to assist SMEs to export.” ERIE: “Trade Means American Jobs” is a bold statement prominently displayed on the TradeRoots Web site. Can you expand on this and explain the benefits of trade on American workers and local communities?

jobs plus the 249,000 people employed by foreign companies in Pennsylvania. It is time that everyone understands that international trade is the engine that is driving the Pennsylvania economy and there are tremendous opportunities for growth that must be aggressively pursued. We can create more jobs in Pennsylvania by doubling exports within five years. This is not the time to turn inward and leave the global market to our competitors.” ERIE: What must America do now to remain globally competitive in the future? “My answer is simple. Pass the three pending trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea. A U.S. Chamber study concluded that the passage of these agreements would SAVE 300,000 jobs. Now that the health care battle is nearly over, the administration needs to propose that Congress quickly pass all three agreements—it will be an economic stimulus package on its own. The rest of the world is aggressively signing trade agreements that exclude the United States. President Obama has stated clearly we are the losers if America continues to sit on the sidelines while other nations sign trade deals. This is a premise that the U.S. Chamber agrees with totally.”

“Pennsylvania consumers, workers, farmers and businesses are huge beneficiaries of international trade. You exported over $34 billion in manufactured goods, $1.9 billion in agricultural products and $13 billion in services. This translates into over 300,000

ERIE: The three companies we’re honoring this year have been very successful in the areas of manufacturing, insurance and logistics. Where will we see significant growth and international trade opportunities over the next few years?

Hobbies: I spend nearly all my free time working with the American University of Afghanistan (AUAF), the first co-ed private liberal arts college in the history of Afghanistan. 20 percent of the students are women and our goal is 50 percent. This institution will truly be the bridge to a better future for the country. When I am home, I take long walks with my two golden retrievers and love to cook and work in my vegetable garden. Favorite Travel Spot: I love adventure travel and because of my passion for AUAF. I am spending a lot of time in Afghanistan now.

Our family’s favorite quick get-away spot that I know I can always get my boys to join us is Bermuda. Favorite Sports Team(s): I am still in mourning about the KU Jayhawks loss in round two of this year’s NCAA Tournament. Favorite Quote: Winston Churchill said that “to improve is to change and to be perfect is to change often.” I am not seeking perfection, but I do believe that to be successful in life, one has to seek advice and be prepared for change. Although Churchill said this several decades ago, it is even more apropos today.

“Congratulations to these companies. I owned my own international company for more than 30 years and I understand what it takes to be successful in the global market. Just don’t forget that American innovation is the best in the world. Don’t forget that we are the largest exporter of goods and services in the world. China produces products such as cell phones, toys, and coffee makers. We produce the more complex, difficult to transport, time sensitive and more sophisticated products. We have a trade surplus in the services sector—obviously a vital growing market. The bottom line is that we produce 30 percent of the world’s GDP with 4 percent of the population.” ERIE: What advice would you give other small or medium-sized businesses in northwest Pennsylvania considering expansion into global markets? “Take advantage of the many public and private resources that are available to Pennsylvania companies. Through our TradeRoots Pennsylvania project over the last year, we have been impressed with the broad array of assistance that is available to Pennsylvania companies. Whether it is through the chambers, the world trade centers, the various associations, or the Department of Commerce or the local USEAC offices, there are tools to assist you. Seek advice, do your due diligence and then take the next step. No one said it is easy but it is vital that companies explore the opportunities that await them around the world.” ERIE: What skills does a business leader need today to be effective in the global economy? What recommendations do you have for young professionals and current students?

ERIE: If you could select three business leaders to have dinner with, who would it be and why? “Well, I have to choose from a list of both dead and alive. “President Roosevelt (FDR) – He saw what isolation did to America and perhaps he could give some good advice as to how to convince our elected officials that it is not the way to positively move our economy.

“President Clinton – A great advocate of free trade agreements. We need his help to move the current administration and congress into action on the pending agreements. This has to move beyond politics and the dictation of the labor unions. “President Karzai – I am particularly concerned about the current status of government in Afghanistan.”

The Northwest PA Workforce Investment Board & Regional Center for Workforce Excellence Congratulate the 2010 Celebration of Excellence honorees:

Fluid Engineering, Insurance Management Company & Logistics Plus 764 Bessemer Street, Suite 102 | Meadville PA,16335 | 814.333.1286

“Flexibility, curiosity, ability to make tough decisions and the list goes on. Young professionals need to get a passport and start exploring the world. Globalization will impact your life and if you think for one minute you can avoid it—think again. Our culture, our businesses, our lifestyle are all being impacted by globalization. You better figure out how to adapt to it and prosper in it. This fear and isolation that is promoted by the anti trade and anti globalization groups is dangerous.”


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ATHENA PowerLink

The Power of Business Mentoring Reaches By Erika Howland


arketing, cash flow concerns, growth projections…these are just a few of MANY reasons why a woman business owner in Erie County might seek the help of ATHENA PowerLink. And for the first time, more women-owned businesses are going to receive help than ever before. Now in its 11th year, ATHENA PowerLink has been “linking” women business owners with a panel of local business professionals in an attempt to advise participants on a variety of topics. The Advisory Panel works with the business owner for one year, free of charge. The panel, which can include everyone from lawyers and bankers to accountants and marketing professionals, help each woman with her individual needs to help grow her business. As the third city in the nation to start this volunteer program, already ATHENA PowerLink has helped 16 women-owned businesses. “I realized about 13 years ago, based on attendance at different business events, that many women were eager to get into or grow a business but they found there was a lack of resources,” says Linda Stevenson, governing board chair for ATHENA PowerLink. “Working with small businesses and women in particular, I knew we were lacking a program of this caliber in our community, and wanted to change that.” Since its inception the program has gradually grown with an increase in women-owned businesses and their desire to grow to the next level. That growth, in combination with the response from business professionals in the community eager to volunteer their expertise, validated the governing body’s decision to award three women-owned businesses an ATHENA PowerLink Advisory Panel of Business Professionals for 2010. “The program has really taken off,” exclaims Stevenson. “We’re lucky to have so many successful business professionals in our community wanting to pay it forward.” “It also is good business practice to want to help other businesses to grow,” she adds.


And the success is in the numbers. According ATHENA International, on average businesses realize an 88 percent increase in sales and 37 percent increase in business growth income as a result of the mentoring program. This year, 10 applications were submitted locally. The three businesses chosen were: Milestones Quality Children’s Consignment, Glass Growers Gallery, and FASTSIGNS.

Glass Growers Gallery, Inc. For 35 years, people from all over the world have picked up a little piece of Erie at Glass Growers Gallery, Inc. Since the beginning, Deborah Vahanian has been running the unique must-stop shop for tourists and residents alike. Business is good says Vahanian, but it could be more convenient.

Milestones Quality Children’s Consignment On her third career venture, Claudine Thiem has found her niche and the owner of this consignment shop for nearly five years is now ready for some outside help. Her business has moved three times and recently found a home in a 5,200-square foot store on West Lake Road. And while Thiem is excited to grow the business, that growth presents a new set of challenges. “Things have been going well,” explains Thiem. “We have moved and added payroll with 10 part-time employees but now I’ve hit a point where the common sense and analytical nature I have with a math background can only take me so far.” Her hope is with help from other business professionals, she will be able to better determine the best course of action to help grow her business. “I am not a business major,” Thiem laughs. “I have taken this as far as I can go with my expertise alone. I am hoping this will be a crash course in getting the direction I need without having to go back to business school.”

“We meet people from all over the world due to our location by the Erie Art Museum and when they leave they want to stay in touch to see what’s new and they do that through our website,” Vahanian says. “It’s worked well, but now it’s time to explore new heights.” Vahanian admits she sought out ATHENA PowerLink for help in the one area she doesn’t know enough about: the Internet. “I would like to get the gallery to the next level and incorporate the Internet and all its technologies and opportunities,” she says. “I want to explore social media and be able to sell our merchandise to customers all over.” Vahanian says even with years of experience owning a business, it never hurts to run your ideas past other people and figure out if you need to change what you are doing, or perhaps stop and take another direction. “It can be easy to lose focus,” she says. “When you own a small business, you get interrupted daily and your energy is diverted so my hope is this Advisory Panel will say to me, stop, focus on this particular area and get this into our daily routine.”

At lia sophia, one good thing always leads to another..

New Heights FASTSIGNS A sign maker in the Erie community for nearly two decades, Naomi Stutzman bought the FASTSIGNS franchise in 2007. Formally Al’s Sign Service, Stutzman’s business was growing and she felt going with the franchise would offer more support to take things to the next level.

• Being a Customer – pick the items you want to put on sale. • Hosting a Show – earn free and half-priced jewelry. • Becoming an Advisor – run the business of your dreams! lia sophia is a unique direct selling company that offers fashion jewelry through personalized in-home Shows. Learn more today! Roberta Holdsworth, Ind. Advisor - 814-572-0257

Currently FASTSIGNS has six full-time employees, but is expecting to add two more this year. Stutzman says she decided to go through the ATHENA PowerLink application process after talking with other business owners. “I’ve heard so many good things about ATHENA and how past recipients of the Advisory Panel have benefited,” she said. And with just the application, Stutzman says her business has already benefited. “The application was an eye-opener,” explains Stutzman. “The learning really starts right there as you realize things about your own business and what people would ask you based on the information you have to fillout.” Stutzman says now that she’s been awarded her own Advisory Panel she is ready to get right to work. She would like help with financial analysis, marketing ideas and how to pursue larger projects particularly in the government sector. “The local expertise will help me to better learn how to do business in Erie and in Pennsylvania and how to keep moving forward in tough times… that is really what I need right now,” explains Stutzman. “I am looking forward to taking a step back, looking at the business and having the mentors to help keep me focused.”

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2010 Golf

Outing Wednesday, May 26 Peek’n Peak Resort Lower Course Foursome: $600 Individuals may register for $150 and will be randomly assigned to a foursome. Upper Course Foursome: $700* *Upper course availability is limited, reserve early!

The day includes a grilled buffet lunch in an outdoor pavilion; greens fees and cart; complimentary golf shirt; on-course beer, soda and water; steak dinner and tournament awards. Both courses will play an 18-hole, four-person scramble. This is the one golf tournament that your business can’t afford to miss! To reserve your foursome, contact Cathy Noble at and provide golfers’ names. Additional sponsorship opportunities are available. Contact Julie Graff at for information. Sponsored by:


Take Action Erie is a regional tool allowing your voice to be heard on issues that matter most to you and your business

Keep up-to-date on legislative news and issues

Learn about the Chamber’s position

Let YOUR voice be heard — take action! A Service of the Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership 29

Discover the Power of ATHENAPowerLink

Mentoring Matters ATHENA offers women business owners a personal Advisory Panel that will assist them in taking their businesses to the next level. More than 16 area businesses have benefited from this unique program! To learn more, call 814-871-1225 or visit Sponsored locally by:

give the gift of Visit or call (814) 454-7191 to purchase this and other ERIE merchandise. • ERIE Hoodie Sweatshirt $35 (S-XL) / $38 (XXL) • ERIE Crewneck Sweatshirt $30 (S-XL) / $33 (XXL) • ERIE Ball Cap $15 • ERIE License Plate $10 Deluxe Silver, Aluminum, Black Matte Finish


ECGP_TIM_ChamberAd.indd 1

1/4/10 11:55:40 AM


National Fab & Machine, Inc.

Property, Liability and Workers’ Compensation Insurance Agents John C. Bloomstine, CPCU, ARM ▪ Chris W. Bloomstine ▪ William C. Bloomstine, CPCU, ARM Jeremy S. Biddle, AIC ▪


Jack F. Grimm, ARM ▪ Robert P. Marcoline ▪ Richard S. Miller ▪ F. Cole Stearns, Esq.

123 West 9th Street, Erie, PA 16501-1302 ▪ Phone: 814-452-3200

▪ Fax: 814-454-5598



Industrial Sales & Manufacturing, Inc.

Yorktown Giant Eagle Zegarelli Enterprises, Inc.

Service Beyond Expectations in 49 States and 24 Countries Contact:

123 West 9th Street, Erie, PA 16501-1302 ▪ Phone: 814-452-3200

▪ Fax: 814-454-5598




PAID PERMIT #298 ERIE, PA 208 East Bayfront Parkway Suite 100 Erie, PA 16507

getinvolved! April 29, 2010 5 – 8 p.m. Ambassador Center 7794 Peach Street, Erie

e i r E

The Erie Ambassadors’ Get Involved! Erie night links area residents with community organizations and involvement opportunities. Don’t miss this great opportunity to find volunteers, recruit members and tell your organization’s unique story. Reserve space for your organization today! Call (814) 454-7191, ext. 146 or email for more information. Confirm your participation now for a discounted table price of $50. This community event is free and open to the public.

Sponsored by:

ERIE Magazine | April/May 2010  

ERIE Magazine | April/May 2010

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