Issuu on Google+

Feb/March 2013

eriepa.com


President’s Perspective | Civility By Barbara Chaffee, President/CEO You may be wondering why we have chosen a cover photo with monkeys and a cat for our February 2013 issue of ERIE Magazine…simply it is testimony to the fact that those of different species can demonstrate care and respect toward each other. So why can’t we humans who are considered to be more evolved do the same? The dictionary definition of “civility” is: formal politeness and courtesy in behavior or speech, or the way people treat each other with respect even when they disagree. Society today seems to be throwing civility to the curb with the anonymity of the Internet; the right of free expression versus respect for others; and political dogma. Albert Lama the Chief Deputy Attorney General in the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office made the following points in his address “Why is Civility Important?” • • • • — Mary Wortley Montagu •

“Civility costs nothing, and buys everything.”

More people will participate in public deliberative process if not focused on personal attacks. Data suggests incivility contributes to voter alienation and apathy towards government; 60% of survey respondents were “very concerned” with attacks. Inability to deal with problems linked to addressing them in a destructive way.

Board of Directors Donald Birx Ph.D. John Bloomstine Carl M. Carlotti Terrence Cavanaugh Rosanne Cheeseman Gary L. Clark John Dill Mary L. Eckert Scott Eighmy Jeffrey Evans, CFP James Fiorenzo Barbara Haggerty Thomas C. Hoffman II Timothy Hunter Charles G. Knight John P. Leemhuis Jr. Marsha Marsh James E. Martin

Barbara C. Chaffee

Vice President, Chamber Claudia K. Thornburg

Media coverage of personal attacks exacerbates this phenomenon.

Jacob A. Rouch

In our cyber world, we must continue to advocate for civility; Internet harassment and bullying have driven some to suicide and ruined reputations. We must stress in our homes, schools and workplaces that once you put something out in the cyber world you can never take it back; it lives forever. The Coalition for a Better Community says it best in its commentary on why civility is important: “We strongly affirm that all diversity can be handled effectively without personal attacks and divisive and destructive tactics …a process for resolving differences in a civil manner will promote progress, improve communication and encourage involvement in discussions. Lack of civility in any of our processes can have a negative impact on future growth, economic development, tourism and the overall quality of life. Building trust and relationships requires civility in all aspects of community management and on the part of all participants.”

Scott Wyman

President/CEO

Treating others disrespectfully encourages the public to engage in similar behavior.

We have a responsibility to our children, our community and our nation to engage in respectful dialogue and to treat each other with dignity. We have an obligation to hold politicians and print, television and radio pundits accountable when their commentary spirals into personal attacks rather than forthright, respectful discussions on the issues; one can debate and disagree while being expressive and civil.

Robert Mazza Marlene D. Mosco Jack A. Munch Neil Parham James W. Riley James Rutkowski Jr. Matthew Schultz Nicholas Scott Jr. Gretchen Seth Ronald A. Steele Keith Taylor Ph.D. David Tullio Russell S. Warner Michael Weber Scott A. Whalen Ph.D. Mary Beth Wilcher Julie Wollman

Vice President, Economic Development Financial Officer Linda Robbins

Staff Joelyn J. Bush, Director of Marketing & Communications Sabrina Chirco, Economic and Workforce Development Specialist Melanie A. Johnson, Director Growth Partnership Division Doug M. Massey, Manager Erie Business Action Team Nadeen Steffey, Account Executive Cathy Noble, Events Coordinator Benjamin C. Pratt, Director of Research Susan M. Ronto, Membership Coordinator

Editor Joelyn J. Bush

Contributing Writers Mary Birdsong John Chacona Lori Nikolishen

Contributing Photographer

“Civility means a great deal more than just being nice to one another. It is complex and encompasses learning how to connect successfully and live well with others, developing thoughtfulness and fostering effective self-expression and communication. Civility includes courtesy, politeness, mutual respect, fairness, good manners, as well as a matter of good health. Taking an active interest in the well-being of our community and concern for the health of our society is also involved in civility.” — P. M. Forni

Art Becker Photography www.artbeckerphoto.com

Design BENSUR Creative Marketing Group For Advertising Information: Nadeen Steffey, Account Executive (814) 454-7191 x139 nsteffey@eriepa.com


08 Joined at the Hip Seasoned restaurateurs make loving teamwork a way of life by Mary Birdsong

ERIE Magazine

eriepa.com Like us on Facebook

| February / March 2013

takeactionerie.com

Follow us on Twitter

tapintoerie.com

planerieregion.com

Join our ERCGP Linkedin Group

what’s inside 2-3 4-6

8-10

We look forward to seeing you at these networking events for Chamber investors.

New Investors

February 21

The Perfect Partnership

5-7 p.m. Molly Brannigans 506 State Street Erie, PA

Couple discovers where there’s love, success is sure to follow

Joined at the Hip

March 21

Seasoned restaurateurs make loving teamwork a way of life

5-7 p.m. Bel-Aire Clarion Hotel 2800 West 8th Street Erie, PA

12-14

Home-Making

Dynamic couple ready to take on a family and third location

Visiting the ERCGP? Check in on Foursquare!

after hours

16-18

Blissful Business

Loving togetherness found through family, faith and colocation

April 18 5-7 p.m. Hansen’s Errand Service 1805 Pittsburgh Avenue Erie, PA

Please RSVP to the Chamber at (814) 454-7191 x 146 or cnoble@eriepa.com

1


New Investors PLATINUM INVESTOR

Welcome Our Newest Platinum Investor P A R T N E R S H I P

Scott Enterprises Accommodations, Hotels, Restaurants and Splash Lagoon. Mr. Nick Scott Corporate Office: Hilton Garden Inn 2225 Downs Drive 6th Floor Executive Suites | Erie, PA 16509 (814) 868-9500 www.visitscott.com

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

GOLD INVESTOR

Welcome Gold Investors Tripp Umbach A leader in conducting research, strategic planning and consultation services for a variety of clients including leading corporations, universities, hospitals, medical schools, public events, convention centers, airports and more nationwide. Ms. Carrie Kennedy 2359 Railroad Street, Suite 3701 | Pittsburgh, PA 15222 (412) 281-2313 www.trippumbach.com

SILVER INVESTOR

Zurn Industries LLC Plumbing products; boilers. Mr. Craig Wehr 1801 Pittsburgh Avenue | P.O. Box 13801 Erie, PA 16514 | (814) 455-0921 www.zurn.com

PROUD INVESTOR

Welcome Silver Investors

Welcome Proud Investors

CNG One Source, Inc. Specializes in fleet conversion, refueling stations, feasibility studies, service and maintenance, and training. CNG One Source installs EPA and CARB approved engine conversion and builds CNG compressor stations.

Back to Health Chiropractic Sports chiropractic clinic emphasizing on restorative and wellness of the musculoskeletal system and nervous system.

Ms. Karen Teslovich 190 Oak Grove Circle | Franklin, PA 16323 www.cngonesource.com

Ms. Rita Capaccio 2501 West 12th Street | Erie, PA 16505 (814) 835-4324 www.backtohealtherie.com

2


Bethany Outreach Center Provides the following services: food pantry, clothes closet, mending and classes, computer, job readiness, home budgeting, sewing and crafts.

FedEx Office Copy shop (full-serve and self-serve; Apple computers full and self-serve, binding, laminating, fax and business cards)

Ms. Diane Giannelli 254 East 10th Street | Erie, PA 16503 (814) 456-6254 www.bethanyoutreachcenter.org

Ms. Nicole Frankenberry 5755 Peach Street | Erie, PA 16509 (814) 866-5679 www.fedex.com/printonline

Clifton Tube Cutting Machine shop – metal tube cutting.

First Amendment Tees Company A custom apparel retailer offering full service digital design services. Located in Erie, PA, we specialize in direct to garment printing (DTG), embroidery, vinyl and heat transfers, and silk screening. We customize a wide range of apparel, including t shirts, sweatshirts, hoodies, outerwear, business wear, pants, hats and promotional items. We also offer our own original house lines of humorous tees, women’s t shirts and men’s t shirts.

Mr. Joe Podufal P.O. Box 165 | Girard, PA 16417 (814) 774-3144 Comfort Suites Hotel. Ms. Dawn Smith 1007 Market Place Drive Edinboro, PA 16412 (814) 969-7000 www.edinborocomfortsuites.com Computer Consultant Team, LLC IT managed services and disaster prevention and recovery. Special consulting projects as requested. Mr. Chris Morey 1829 West 35th Street | Erie, PA 16508 (814) 314-9720 www.teamcct.com Erie Life Coaches Works with individuals and small businesses to develop and achieve goals, increase income and lead happier, more balanced lives. Mr. Ed Shanley 5148 Peach Street, Suite 295 Erie, PA 16509 (814) 806-3456 www.erielifecoaches.com

Stewart Insurance Services Independent Insurance agent for Medicare, health (individual & group) life insurance, cancer policy, long term care and annuities. Ms. Connie Stewart P.O. Box 967 | Waterford, PA 16441 (814) 460-2588 www.stewartfinancialerie.com Strategic Video & Imaging Provides a wide range of services to legal practitioners, including videotaping depositions, creating and editing persuasive videos and preparing eye-catching visual aids for use at trials, oral arguments and other proceedings.

Mr. Mark Biletnikoff 117 West 9th Street | Erie, PA 16501 (814) 520-8163 www.fat-tee.com

Ms. Melanie Brewer P.O. Box 1401 | Erie, PA 16507 (814) 314-9750 www.strategicvideoandimaging.com

Less Energy Direct Lighting, LLC Energy Savings through LED Lighting

Synergy Electric Offers competitive pricing and professional services for any electrical needs.

Mr. Ray Zimmerman 1415 West 34th Street | Erie, PA 16508 (814) 323-0581 www.seesmartled.com National MS Society – Western PA Chapter The National MS Society is a collective of individuals who want to do something about MS now, to move together toward a world free of Multiple Sclerosis. Ms. Colleen Szymczak 2115 West 8th Street | Erie, PA 16505 (814) 464-2900 www.nationalmssociety.org

Ms. Tanya Rathburn 2218 Rice Avenue | Lake City, PA 16423 (814) 774-7740 www.synergy-electric.com Thomas F. Grosz Architect Architectural firm offering creative & innovated design services to provide cost efficient solutions that exceed clients‘ expectations. Clientele include corporate governmental, educational, residential & religious groups. Mr. Thomas Grosz 2420 West 15th Street | Erie, PA 16505 (814) 897-5854 UPMC Centers for Rehab Services Offers specialized rehabilitation at 6 locations throughout Erie, Harborcreek and North East. CRS offers Physical, Aquatic and Anodyne Therapy, Women’s Rehab, Men’s Health and Lymphedema Management. Ms. Jenny Kupczyk 1325 West 26th Street | Erie, PA 16502 (814) 464-2900 www.upmc.com/services/rehab/crs

eriepa.com

NEW INVESTORS

3


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


The Perfect Partnership Couple discovers where there’s love, success is sure to follow

At least that is the case as far as Steve McDermott is concerned. His wife, Charlene, is quick to agree. Mutual friends suggested the two meet, and 25 years later, after a blind date at the former Hectors Restaurant, the couple is going strong. Steve and Charlene made their relationship “official” eight years ago when they got married in Saratoga Springs, New York. Steve, a fan of horse racing, wanted the wedding to be an extra memorable one. So he made arrangements with the New York Racing Authority to get married on the race track before that day’s races. The plans were made a year in advance, and the day was indeed a memorable one for the couple. Steve, who is in his eleventh year as Executive Director of the Presque Isle Partnership, is very well versed in event planning. And Charlene, retired from a 24-year career as a counselor for the Erie School District’s Adult Learning Center, loves to work with people. Join these strengths together, and you have a winning team.

| by Lori Nikolishen

lesson was the one they learned about their relationship – together we can do anything.

One bite at a time The success of the Best Summer Night event last summer is a testament to Steve and Charlene’s relationship, proof that together they really can do anything. When the idea was first being considered and they were trying to gain support, the prospect of such an event seemed nothing but daunting. Charlene proved to be a great counter-balance to Steve, tempering his frustration with a healthy dose of encouragement. She also employed one of her favorite quotes, “You can’t eat an elephant all in one bite,” to get her point across.

“When you work with your soul mate, you can accomplish anything.”

Together, we can do anything Steve and Charlene had their first entrepreneurial adventure together early in their relationship. The couple – both with a full-time “day job” at the time – opened a Freshens Frozen Yogurt in the Millcreek Mall. Charlene preferred the customer service aspect of the business, while Steve worked more behind the scenes, focusing on tasks such as equipment maintenance. While the couple looks back on the three-year venture as test of personal resolve, they also remember it as a great learning experience. For starters, they learned about building and running a business. They also learned when to walk away. As Steve says, “You have to know when to hold them, and know when to fold them.” Perhaps the most important

For Charlene, this experience provides just one example of how she and Steve complement one another. Steve credits Charlene and her support – along with a strong, dedicated team – with the tremendous success of the event. (He credits his mother, who passed away a year ago, with the perfect weather.)

Shared passion In addition to a passion for event planning, the couple share many other passions as well. First and foremost among these is their love of family. Both Steve and Charlene have children from previous marriages, for a total of four children between

3Left: Steve and Charlene McDermott Photo courtesy of Art Becker Photography.

eriepa.com

the perfect partnership

3 5


The Perfect Partnership (continued).

them. They are also the proud grandparents of two girls and seven boys. In addition to their family, friendship and faith play important roles in the couple’s lives. Common interests are another source of passion. Charlene has been an avid Presque Isle regular since her high school days when she would meet up with friends at Beach Six. She continues to make the most of Presque Isle to this day, enjoying late afternoon walks with her husband on the Erie gem. Another interest the two share is music. Sound like a good combination? It sure does. “We love the beach and we love music,” agrees the pair, “So we decided to join them together.” Such is the genesis of the Presque Isle Partnership’s beloved UPMC Sunset Music Series.

Let the ideas percolate P A R T N E R S H I P

Discover Presque Isle Days is another marquee summer event for the Partnership. It is also an event that showcases the teamwork between Steve and Charlene. While the annual event existed prior to Steve joining the Partnership, he worked hard to expand it. Charlene was actively involved in growing the success of the event as well, most notably by coming up with the frog button concept. Whereas Charlene jokes that Steve typically knocks her suggestions upon first hearing them, he admits that she has some great marketing ideas.

G R O W T H

“I just need to let them percolate a bit,” he says. He also owns up to being thankful for her ideas. The frog button idea really caught on, tripling cash sales the first year. New ideas keep the event fresh, and the couple plans to keep them coming. (Be on the lookout for the inaugural DPI Challenge, which will be introduced at this year’s event!)

Magical

C H A M B E R

A N D

Events such as those offered by the Presque Isle Partnership provide great opportunities to showcase what Erie has to offer. Charlene is so proud of her city, which she considers “magical,” that she plans to participate in the Erie Ambassador program. Steve describes Erie as “friendly and caring,” words that also aptly describe him and his wife.

Presque Isle Partnership

R E G I O N A L

301 Peninsula Drive Erie, PA 16505 Phone: (814) 833-6050

www.discoverpi.com

While the love and respect that Steve and Charlene have for one another is undeniable, they acknowledge that butting heads on occasion is unavoidable. They also know that how they deal with it is what makes the difference. After 25 years together, Steve and Charlene know what it takes to work through challenging times. Their solution? Humor… and a little healthy teasing. “We’re so comfortable together, and being silly is an especially fun part of our relationship,” says Charlene, “You need to be able to find humor in – and with – your partner and your lives.”

E R I E

And while it’s been eight years since the couple got married in Saratoga Springs, for Steve and Charlene the honeymoon continues. ■

6


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


Joined at the Hip Seasoned restaurateurs make loving teamwork a way of life

| by Mary Birdsong

“Watching Stephanie work is a thing of beauty,” says Jack Eaker. “It’s amazing to see what she is capable of doing, how she handles so many things at once—plans, proposals, clients, crises in the restaurant—all with a smile. She is the light, happy part of everything we do.”

All that changed in 2001 when family responsibilities called Stephanie back to Pennsylvania to care for her mother. The events of September 11th further upset their lives as well as the national economy, and Jack and Stephanie soon realized that they would have to re-invent themselves here in Erie.

Sitting right next to Jack as he says this, Stephanie Potous-Eaker, his wife since 1994, steals a little glance his way, flushes and wipes away a tiny tear. They are clearly in love.

They found they worked well together, but did have some adjustments to make. “I wanted to talk about the business with Jack all the time,” admits Stephanie. “I really had to learn how to—and not to—take things home.”

We are sitting in their restaurant, Summer House Café, after a bustling lunch crowd has died down. Wait staff deftly handle their side work and refill my coffee cup.

“The key to making it all work was mutual respect for each other’s abilities.” Stephanie and Jack were already seasoned professionals in the hospitality industry before they teamed up to form Make It Fabulous Catering & Events and the 10th Street Cafe in 2004, and in 2009, Summer House Cafe. Stephanie was Director of Catering for Hotel Crescent Court in Dallas and later became Vice President of Sales for a meeting and events company in Kansas City. Jack managed the beverage service at the Mansion on Turtle Creek during their time in Dallas and opened restaurants for Crown Center Development in Kansas City. Later, he and a partner eventually opened a jazz bistro and a successful barbecue restaurant.

The key to making it all work was mutual respect for each other’s abilities. Jack is the culinary planner and chef as well as human resource team leader, inventory manager and bookkeeper. Stephanie no longer does any day-to-day food prep but plans the catering events, meets with clients and works on marketing, as well as managing off-site catering and assisting in the restaurant as needed. “We realized that there is no time to re-hash a problem, there will always be more work tomorrow,” says Jack. “You can’t second guess on a busy schedule; we have to rely on each other to apply our individual skills to the matter and move on. Besides, we know we need each other to make this successful. I could not do Stephanie’s job and she couldn’t do mine.” Jack admits that Stephanie is the first one of the two to bounce back from a problem and he has to “just let it go,” but Stephanie quickly adds “Jack has way more pressure on him. The food we serve our guests has his name on it and he refuses to compromise; he can be temperamental, but that comes from his passion for quality.”

3Left: Stephanie Potus-Eaker and Jack Eaker Photo courtesy of Art Becker Photography.

eriepa.com

joined at the hip

9


Joined at the Hip (continued).

They are well known in the community for their quality. “I am so proud when I run into people and they recount, sometime in fine detail, the food they ate and how much they enjoyed it and remember it,” says Stephanie. “Those are the wonderful moments when we can reflect on all we have accomplished in such a short time.” The growth of the past nine years started small. Not knowing very many people in town, they had to count on those they initially met and find a way to integrate themselves into the community. With the help of friends like Tom and Cheryl Vicary, Rob Schultz, Chris Sorce and Gary Maas, they started donating catering services to local non-profits in exchange for the exposure it would bring. It worked.

G R O W T H

P A R T N E R S H I P

Their involvement with non-profits did not end once they became successful, however, Stephanie tells me. “We still support a lot of organizations to the best of our abilities. We participate in the March of Dimes Chef’s Auction every year, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation is special to Jack and the Barber National Institute to me.” They also support two to three dozen events each year with donations of some kind and sit on event committees. Stephanie recently served on the Regional Cancer Center’s 25th Anniversary Gala committee.

Summer House Café

A N D

Make It Fabulous Catering and Events 2605 Washington Avenue Erie, PA 16508 Phone: (814) 452-2500

C H A M B E R

www.summerhousecafe.net

There’s another, less-noticeable side to their commitment to Erie, however. “I want to brag on Jack for a minute, here,” says Stephanie. “Since we started, he has been quietly supporting people who need a second, or even third, chance through employment and friendship. He gives them the opportunity to learn the importance of having a job and structure if they never had it, making it possible to create a new, more stable life for themselves and their families and, ultimately, this community.” You can see that same kindness in both of them as they interrupt the interview to greet an elderly guest, obviously a regular. As they offer her condolences on the loss of her pet, it’s apparent they are comfortable with each other and happy to be in the place they are, together and making a restaurant and catering business work as a team.

www.makeitfabulous.net

E R I E

R E G I O N A L

www.facebook.com/pages/ Summerhouse-Cafe

10

“At the beginning, it took a lot to know each other and each other’s needs,” says Jack. “And we would never sacrifice our marriage for the business,“ adds Stephanie. “But we’re joined at the hip now and are able to do this together because we really love each other.” ■


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


Home-Making Dynamic couple ready to take on a family and third location

“We have always worked together,” says Russ Stachewicz, as we sit in comfy leather chairs at the U Pick 6 Tap House on a Saturday morning. Set-up staff buzzes around us, coffee is sipped and he and wife Katie glow with an obvious pride in what they have accomplished. With partner John Melody, the two opened U Pick 6 Beer Store in 2009 and the Tap House in 2011. Now, a third is planned for 4575 West Ridge Road in Millcreek township, slated to open in May of this year.

| by Mary Birdsong

for the U Pick 6 endeavor and is also the working owner of Creative Affairs, a one-stop-shop marketing and advertising business. “Russ is an excellent manager of people and dealing with the hectic day-to-day operations and is very good at crisis management,” says Katie. “I am more of a planner and like to think first about approach and execution of a project.” Russ quickly adds thats she’s also great at making their restaurants have the right design, something she works on with John Melody.

Married since 2010 but together for 11 years, Katie and Russ admit that, like any couple, they have their ups and downs. “When we’re doing things around the house is when we have the most conflict,” says Russ with a grin. In their working relationship, things are a little different. “Long before we were a couple we worked together in the food and beverage industry so we developed professional respect for one another first,” says Katie. “And since we have been together we have learned to trust each other at what we are each individually good at.”

“The outpouring of support comes easily to those who know Russ and Katie since they have given so much of themselves.”

It’s clear while chatting that theirs is a modern partnership on many levels, without the typical male-female stereotypes at play. “When taking on the risk of this business, it was actually easier for us to do it together,” shares Russ. “We are both committed to making it work and both invested on a professional and personal level. It is our journey, not just mine or Katie’s.”

Interestingly, they use what is typically a negative thing— pushing each other’s buttons—to their advantage. “We know what’s going to be a hot topic,” says Russ. “And we know when we’re going to push a button,” adds Katie. “Even if it’s a petty issue, we use it to motivate each other in a positive way. We couldn’t do that, though, if we weren’t working on a foundation of trust and faith in one another.”

Each does have individual responsibilities. Russ oversees the daily operations of the two highly successful and busy establishments. Katie handles the marketing and advertising

That foundation is the platform on which they have built a wider concept of what home means. “To us, home is everything. It is the two of us, it is our businesses, our friends and family and it is the community,” says Russ. “We think of our

3Left: Katie Hanlin-Stachewicz and Russ Stachewicz Photo courtesy of Art Becker Photography.

eriepa.com

home - ma k ing

13


Home-Making (continued).

restaurants as home and we want our guests to feel the same way. And specifically for me, it’s Katie who made me a home, gave me a purpose.” Katie continues, “Our lives would be less full without the circle of support and love of the family and friends who surround us.” Russ adds, ”And we wouldn’t want this success without John Melody by our side.” Russ says that for them it’s not just about running a successful business or serving quality beer and foods, it’s about creating a place for the community, employees, everyone to feel comfortable; a place where people want to turn off their phones and talk to one another.

P A R T N E R S H I P

Those family members, friends and colleagues have become even more vital since last November when their daughter Brynn was born prematurely. With Brynn still in the neonatal intensive care unit at St. Vincent, their schedules are even tighter, but they feel blessed with so much support. “Everyone we know—from family, to friends, to staff—has really stepped up to the plate,” says Russ. “We could not do what we do without them,” adds Katie. The outpouring of support comes easily to those who know Russ and Katie since they have given so much of themselves.

A N D

G R O W T H

They have been involved with the Downtown Improvement District from the very beginning and are proud that the block party they held for the Red Cross in June 2012 amassed $10,300, the most money raised by one of these summertime events.

U Pick Six Beer Store

C H A M B E R

7520 Peach Street, Suite 101 Erie, PA 16509 (814) 866-BEER (2337)

U Pick 6 Tap House

R E G I O N A L

333 State Street, Suite 110 Erie, PA 16507 (814) 520-5419

www.upick6.com

Another organization that has been near to their hearts is, ironically, Grady’s Decision, a non-profit organization started by Katrina and Ryan Smith in 2008 after they lost a premature child. The organization provides emotional, spiritual and financial support to families while infants are in neonatal intensive care units. Katie was touched by their story early on when she met Katrina as a client and became one of the founding board members of the organization. The Tap House hosted their annual diaper party in 2012. Now, of course, Grady’s Decision is helping them. Their lives have been a roller coaster since Brynn’s birth, but they are still anxious to move forward and continue building, As Russ puts it, “Work is who we are, but it doesn’t define us.” By intertwining the professional and personal, this dynamic young couple has found a way to work hard and still make every place feel like home. It is paying off for them and Erie. ■

E R I E

www.facebook.com/upicksix. beerstoretaphouse

2

D I V E R S I T Y A N D I N C LU S I O N


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


Blissful Business Loving togetherness found through family, faith and colocation

| by John Chacona

When it comes to negotiation on how to work with family members, both Linda Breakiron and Joe Lombardo have a lifetime of experience.

Perhaps the reason it works so well for Breakiron, who now runs the retail operation created by her father at East 37th and Pine Avenue in 1964, is because she’s been through it before.

Lombardo whose Barber Studio is in the building the couple own on Pine Avenue, worked alongside his father for 27 years at their shop at East 26th Street and East Avenue. And Linda, sitting at the counter at the jewelry store her father founded, hired her first employee at age two. That’s right, two.

She met her first husband at the store, where he worked as a bench jeweler for Breakiron’s father. “People ask me how you find a good bench jeweler, and I say, ‘Right out of school, and then you marry him,’” she joked. They were happily married for 20 years when tragedy struck. “Within a week of burying my mom, we found my husband’s cancer.”

“She’s my wife. I love her with all my heart and God put her into my life for a reason.” “When my dad brought me, I’d sit at the counter and talk to people,” the ebullient Breakiron says. ”I was talking to a customer, and I said, ‘You’re nice. Would you like to work here?’ And she did for years.” Being brought up in the family business gives one a particular set of skills—discipline and motivation among them. But working for mom or dad is subtly different from working for one’s spouse or partner. Power relationships are more complicated and lines of authority are blurred, as are the borders between what’s personal and what’s business. To some, it can be a perfect storm of frustration. To Breakiron and Lombardo, it’s something close to bliss—or at least, deep satisfaction.

The disease proved fatal, a double blow from which no human should endure. But Breakiron had “faith, and a really good support group from church. And Mabel who worked here for 24 years and just retired.” Breakiron explained, “I’d have a bad day, and she’d tell me, ‘Okay then, you’re going to be a mom today.’ Or ‘You need to be a manager today,’ and I was.” Two years after her husband died, single-mom Breakiron was informed of another role she should assume. “Friends from church had fixed up me up on a blind date, though it was more of an interview or interrogation then. I loved being married, and I wanted to be married, not to date. People tried to fix me up, and I didn’t want it. And he was a 39-year-old, lifelong bachelor.” Skeptical, Breakiron asked about this confirmed bachelor. “They told me that he’d said he’d rather be happily single than unhappily married,” Breakiron remembers. “He said he was waiting for God to bring him the right woman.”

Left: Linda Breakiron and Joe Lombardo Photo courtesy of Art Becker Photography.

eriepa.com

B lissf u l b u siness

17


Blissful Business (continued).

That woman was Breakiron, and with her daughter on the altar, they were married “as a family, just the way I wanted it to be,” she says. Of course, when you have a family business, that business is also family, and the family is a unit of business organization. But as in any organization, complimentary skills help.

One way of coming together is crisis, and Linda and Joe faced one late last year when a clogged roof drain caused their jointly owned building to flood. “That was awful,” Joe acknowledges with a sad shake of his head. “I pretty much did the work myself in here, the flooring the ceiling. When I looked up and saw all this water pouring in, it was very frustrating, but she kept her cool.” “I walked into the storeroom and saw things floating by,” Breakiron says. “I didn’t know that those things could float.” Her good humor was rewarded when the damage was repaired in time for the holiday retail season. Everything is back to normal, and that means creative marketing ideas to build her customer base.

G R O W T H

P A R T N E R S H I P

“I’m more of the calm one and she’s more excited,” Lombardo said of his wife. “She has a staff. I have myself. Her customers buy $5,000 pieces of jewelry and I sell a $13 haircut. I’m more avant-garde and she’s more detail-oriented, but we’re coming together.”

E R I E

R E G I O N A L

C H A M B E R

A N D

Breakiron is famous for her cultivation of male customers, holding “Tailgate nights” to bring men into the store. “We wear sports jerseys, serve what I call ‘stinky food’ and of course, beer,” Breakiron explains. It’s one of the ways she competes in an increasingly crowded marketplace. Knowing that a jewelry purchase is often a very personal decision, she counts on the personal touch and expertise that a locally owned business can provide.

Breakiron Jewelers 4026 Pine Avenue Erie, PA 16504 (814) 825-2647

www.breakironjewelers.com Joe Lombardo’s Barber Studio 4030 Pine Avenue Erie, PA 16504 (814) 824-4000

www.joelombardobarberstudio.com

“Joe comes over and he’s a great host,” she adds. “And he gets referrals that way, too.” Just as Breakiron offers her customers an experience rather than merely a transaction, Lombardo offers the same in what he calls the “man-cave.” Twin televisions are locked on ESPN, and a play area with a computer is available for kids. A self-described “coffee nut,” Lombardo’s Keurig machine is at the ready and the place is filled with the manly aromas of hair products and strong coffee. It’s an experience. So is the togetherness of working in the same building. “She’s my wife. I love her with all my heart and God put her into my life for a reason,” Lombardo says. “We’ve had our ups and downs, but God brings you through it.” “It’s wonderful because he has his area and he does what he wants. At lunch he comes and gets me, but on our days off we really want to be together all the time. It’s not like we want to get away from each other,” Breakiron explains. As she said this, one of her employees, a young woman herself just recently engaged, offered from across the showroom, “They always get along. They’re madly in love.” Of course. That’s just good business. ■

18


design is everything. everything! + paulrand

www.bensur.com


It takes two to partner!

Happy Valentine’s Day

Focusing on innovative cross media solutions with an environmentally responsible mindset. World Class Technology, Old-Fashioned Quality and Service. 4982 Pacific Avenue Erie, PA 16506 /800-540-7805 / 814-833-8080 / www.printingconceptsonline.com

eriepa.com

New to the ERCGP? Never advertised in this exceptional publication? Scan this code for a special offer. Or contact: Nadeen Steffey, Account Executive (814) 454-7191 x 139 | nsteffey@eriepa.com


PRSRT STD US POSTAGE

PAID PERMIT #298 Erie PA

208 East Bayfront Parkway Suite 100 Erie, PA 16507

NEW

Erie Merchandise Now available in our store, classic nautical designed Ultra T’s with a soft ink application, just $15! Mens sizes S-3XL in Heathered Royal and Grey and Women’s Cut, sizes S-2XL in Heathered Sapphire and Heathered Grey.

Tervis Tumbler • • • • •

Made in America since 1946 Great for both hot and cold Microwave, freezer and dishwasher safe Greatly reduces condensation and sweating Price: 16 oz. $14 | 24 oz. $18

Visit our store at: www.eriepa.com/store


February 2013 ERIE Magazine