Honoring Excellence Building Berks Awards celebrates economic growth
Plus: It’s wine time at Reading Coffee Company
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C O N T E N T S FEATURES: 6
Honoring Excellence: Building Berks Awards
75 Years of Service: Riverfront FCU
The opinions expressed in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.
The Landscape of Success: Anewalt’s Celebrates 35 Years of Growth
For the Love of Wine (and Coffee)
As the business voice of Greater Reading, Greater Reading Chamber Alliance leads the business community, as the economic driver, to a vibrant community.
Penn State Health, Mid Penn Bank Commit to Raise More Than $1 million for Department of Urology
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Your Greater Reading Chamber Alliance…
» Partners with all other economic development organizations in creating an environment for growth.
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DEPARTMENTS: Business & Community Advocacy 16
The Effect of the Courts on Your Business
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involvement in education partnerships. best practices.
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» Reflects our multicultural community at large. ©2023 All rights reserved. No portion of this publication may be reproduced electronically or in print without the expressed written permission of the publisher. Commerce Quarterly Magazine is published quarterly by Hoffmann Publishing Group, Reading, PA HoffmannPublishing.com • 610.685.0914
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IN EVERY ISSUE: 5
Letter From the Editor
In Your Community
On the cover: From left to right: MG Architects’ Scott Graham, Robert Conklin, Suzanne Cody, James Sarro and Brad Blankenbiller.
Letter from the Editor
n mid-September, Audrey Krupiak and I jetted off to Boston for the annual INBOUND marketing conference. It was three and a half days of being immersed in anything and everything marketing and sales. While the event was technically headlined by big names like Derek Jeter and Reese Witherspoon, the real star of the conference was AI. Ah yes, Artificial Intelligence, the proverbial boogey man that will eventually put all of us marketers out of work. Not so says Andy Pitre, Executive Vice President of Product at HubSpot. “AI will take your job (dramatic pause) and give you a better one,” said Pitre.
Pitre’s quote stuck with me the entire conference as I sat through session after session of speakers telling me how AI would change the way we work and our productivity levels. Obviously, this was all delivered with a few big caveats. First, we have something that AI tools like ChatGPT will never have. We are humans. And now more than ever, customers want that personal connection that only another human can provide. Adding that human touch to your content to elicit an emotional response is more important than ever. Second, AI hallucinates. Yep, sometimes it literally just makes stuff up. And because it sounds good, it may be passed on as fact. Instead, all content generated by AI needs to be looked at with a critical eye. AI will save you time when it comes to writing, which should give you more time to fact check and edit your content. Prior to the conference, I personally used ChatGPT sparingly. Stuck on writing a headline for a story or blog? Pop it into ChatGPT. Need a better way to say what you are trying to convey? ChatGPT to the rescue. Here are three easy ways to utilize ChatGPT if you’re a novice. 1.) Ideation: Use it to get a brainstorming session started. Sometimes just getting started is the hardest part. ChatGPT can help you do that. 2.) Rewrites: Perfect for when you have great content that just needs a refresh. Have content that performed great a year ago? Repurpose it. There is no need to start from scratch. 3.) Research: AI knows a lot about a lot. Let it help you compile information on topics that are complicated or difficult to explain. So, who is ready to get started with AI? I am using all the tools and lessons I learned at INBOUND. Fortuitously, I was feeling inspired when I wrote this column and didn’t need to utilize AI, but I’m sure there will be a time soon that I use it to get over a massive case of writer’s block. CQ
Leah Fassnacht Visit our website For the most up-to-date schedule of events, training and webinars, visit GreaterReading.org and click on the events calendar at the top of the page.
Board of Directors GRCA BOARD OF DIRECTORS Jeffrey R. Rush – Fulton Bank (Chairman) Christina L. Weeber – East Penn Mfg. Co., Inc. (Vice Chairman) Daniel R. Langdon – East Penn Mfg. Co., Inc./Retired (Immediate Past Chairman) Michele L. Richards – Fulton Bank (Treasurer) Michael A. Duff, Esq. – Penske Truck Leasing (Secretary) DIRECTORS Gregg A. Bogia – Bogia Engineering Inc. Ernest J. Choquette – The Stevens & Lee Companies Jim Gerlach – Greater Reading Chamber Alliance Jack Gombach – McNees Strategic Solutions Group Laura Haffner – Wells Fargo Sara Kuzma-Stump – Suburban Testing Labs Dr. Susan Looney – Reading Area Community College Jamey Maack – Industrial Metal Plating Debra L. Millman, Esq. – Greater Berks Development Fund David C. Roland – Truist Timothy D. Romig – Customers Bank Alan Shuman – Shuman Development Group David W. Stonesifer – Herbein + Company, Inc. John Weidenhammer – Weidenhammer GREATER READING CHAMBER OF COMMERCE & INDUSTRY BOARD OF DIRECTORS Sara Kuzma Stump – Suburban Testing Labs (Chairwoman) Laura Haffner – Wells Fargo (Vice Chairwoman) Gregg A. Bogia – Bogia Engineering Inc. (Secretary) Jack Gombach – McNees Strategic Solutions Group (Treasurer) Timothy Dietrich – Barley Snyder (Solicitor) Michele L. Richards – Fulton Bank (Immediate Past Chair) DIRECTORS Stephen Bonner – DoubleTree by Hilton Reading David Cooper – Met-Ed, A FirstEnergy Company Lucy Cortez – Neighborhood Housing Services of Greater Berks Brian Dietrich – Ernst & Young (EY LLP) Jonathan Encarnacion – UPMC FOR U, INC. Becky A. Eshbach – UGI Utilities, Inc. Alba Fernandez – Community First Fund Andrea Funk – Enersys Kristi Gage-Linderman – Gage Personnel Jim Gerlach – Greater Reading Chamber Alliance Dan Gring – D&B Construction Joey Jurgielewicz – Jurgielewicz & Son, Ltd. Kristin Kohler – Brentwood Industries, Inc. Daniel B. Laws, Jr. – DaBrian Marketing Group Ben Leisawitz – Barley Snyder LLP John Perate – M&T Bank Ryan Redner – Redner’s Markets Daniel Richards – Berks County Intermediate Unit Rodney Ridley – Alvernia University Mike Riley – EthoSource, LLC Ben Ross – Burkey Construction Jim Sarro – Muhlenberg Greene Architects, Ltd. Alan Shuman – Shuman Development Group David W. Stonesifer – Herbein + Company, GREATER BERKS DEVELOPMENT FUND BOARD OF DIRECTORS Debra L. Millman, Esq. – Greater Berks Development Fund (President) Daniel R. Langdon – East Penn Mfg. Co., Inc./Retired (Chairman) Ernest J. Choquette – Stevens & Lee/Griffin (Vice Chairman) Michael A. Duff, Esq. – Penske Truck Leasing (Secretary) Michael Vind – FSL Public Finance (Treasurer) DIRECTORS Charles Barbera, MD – Tower Health Richard Bashore – Reading Electric Motor Service, Inc. Joseph Butto – Tompkins VIST Bank Jim Gerlach – Greater Reading Chamber Alliance Scott Hauseman – Fulton Bank Ginger Kunkel – Tompkins VIST Bank Dr. Susan Looney – Reading Area Community College Jamey Maack – Industrial Metal Plating David C. Roland – Truist Timothy D. Romig – Customers Bank Jeffrey R. Rush – Fulton Bank Sally Stewart – Greater Reading Chamber Alliance Michael Vind – FSL Public Finance Christina L. Weeber – East Penn Mfg. Co., Inc. 5
Celebrating Economic Growth
Building Berks Awards & Expo Awards Innovative Projects By Aaron Gantz, Senior Director, Economic Development, GRCA Photos by Susan L. Angstadt
erks County is on the rise, fueled by innovation, community impact and positive economic growth. Every two years, the Greater Reading Chamber Alliance (GRCA) hosts the Building Berks Awards & Expo, an event designed to honor the collaborative efforts of businesses, professionals and community leaders working together to enhance community and economic growth. At the 2023 event nearly 150 attendees gained insights into the 30 nominated projects that have not only driven economic growth, but also have enhanced the quality of life for Berks County residents. These projects are part of a story we continue to tell about our community—our region is growing.
Industry Recognition Participating in the Building Berks Awards & Expo provided recognition among top professionals in the industry. It was a platform for companies and organizations to showcase their contributions to Berks County’s economic growth and development. Each year nominated projects are thoroughly reviewed by a diverse panel of esteemed professionals who bring a wealth of knowledge and expertise from various industries. Nominated projects were evaluated based on design, aesthetics and community and economic impact. The 2023 judges panel included:
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• • • • •
Kirsten Deysher, Manager of Client Engagement, Entech Engineering Jodi Gauker, Business Development Extension Educator, Penn State Extension Scott O. Graham, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, NCARB, President, Muhlenberg Greene Architects David K. Leinbach, President, Kaiser Martin Group James Whitton, Chief Lending Officer, Tompkins Community Bank
Diverse Range of Projects The nominated projects encompassed a wide range of categories, showcasing the diversity of Berks County’s economic growth—from innovative new developments to projects with a strong focus on community impact and sustainability. Applicants were asked to select up to three applicable categories for consideration in more than one category. • Adaptive Reuse • Agribusiness • Commercial - New | Office | Renovation • Education • Healthcare • Historic Preservation/Restoration
• • • • • • • •
Hospitality - Arts/Entertainment | Restaurant/Bar Industrial Infrastructure Mixed-Use Out-of-the-Box Placemaking Residential - Multi-Family/Group | Renovation | New Construction Sustainable Development
Nominated Projects The Building Berks Awards & Expo was not just an event, it was a celebration of the collaborative efforts that are shaping the future of Berks County. It was a recognition of the projects and partnerships that are contributing to economic growth, community development and a better quality of life for everyone in our community. GRCA looks forward to celebrating more impactful projects in the fall of 2025! The Building Berks Awards & Expo would not have been possible without these generous sponsors:
Celebration of Economic Impact The 2023 30 nominated projects represent an impressive:
$148 million in investment 1.2 million square feet of development 2,100 jobs created
Since the first event in 2018, all nominated projects through 2023 represent:
TITLE Shuman Development Group
P L AT I N U M Bogia Engineering D&S Elite Construction Muhlenberg Greene Architects Pennsylvania American Water RKL Schlouch Incorporated
$849 million in investment 7.8 million square feet of development 11,325 jobs created
These figures reflect the determination and commitment of the businesses and professionals involved in these projects to make a lasting and positive impact in Berks County.
GOLD Brentwood Industries Burkey Construction D&B Construction The Kaiser Martin Group
E X P O TA B L E S P O N S O R S Kautter & Kelley Architects Martin’s Flooring PSECU Riverfront Federal Credit Union TranSystems Continued on next page > 7
Cover Story continued
2023 Nominated Projects Project Name
1116 N 9th Street 428 Penn Ave Aviation Road Distribution Facility B.A.D. Farm Berks County Private Residence Berks County Trust Building
Residential - Renovation Mixed-Use | Commercial - New Industrial Agribusiness Residential - New Construction Historic Preservation/Restoration | Adaptive Reuse | Mixed-Use Sustainable Development Residential - Renovation Adaptive Reuse | Commercial - Office
City of Reading West Reading Borough Bern Township Albany Township Wyomissing Borough City of Reading
Berks Nature Phase II: The Rookery Douglassville - Kitchen Renovation Fraser Advanced Information Systems Headquarters Refresh Frutchey Endodontics InstaShine Car Wash Keith Haring Outdoor Fitness Court kTown Hall Kunkel Saw & Mower Lighthouse Women and Children’s Center NeoPangea Conference Pods Penn State Berks - Berks LaunchBox Coworking Space Remodel Penn State Berks Beaver Athletics and Wellness Center Pennsylvania American Water Exeter Wastewater Treatment Plant Chlorine Conversion RACC Campus Wayfinding Signage Raven’s Cafe at RACC Reading High School Historic Facades Restoration and Interior Stair Renovations RMCTC Welding and Metal Fabrication New Building ROG Orthodontics Seakeeper HQ Stratix Systems Headquarters Building “The Traveler” at EcoHouse Project UGI Knitting Mills Training Center Renovations WCR Center for the Arts Accessibility for All West Reading Mural Corridor
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City of Reading Amity Township West Reading Borough
Healthcare | Commercial - Office Commercial - New | Out-of-the-Box Out-of-the-Box | Placemaking Mixed-Use | Commercial - Office | Historic Preservation/Restoration Industrial Residential - Multi-Family/Group | Commercial - Renovation Commercial - Office | Out-of-the-Box Education | Out-of-the-Box
City of Reading Lower Heidelberg Township Kutztown Borough Kutztown Borough
Education | Sustainable Development Infrastructure
Township of Spring Exeter Township
Placemaking | Education | Infrastructure Hospitality - Restaurant/Bar | Education | Placemaking Education | Historic Preservation/Restoration
City of Reading City of Reading City of Reading
Education | Industrial Commercial - Renovation | Healthcare | Adaptive Reuse Industrial | Adaptive Reuse Commercial - Office + Renovation | Adaptive Reuse Agribusiness | Sustainable Development Adaptive Reuse Hospitality - Arts/Entertainment | Out-of-the-Box
Muhlenberg Township Wyomissing Borough Leesport Borough Wyomissing Borough Borough of Kenhorst Wyomissing Borough City of Reading
West Reading Borough
Maxatawny Township City of Reading West Reading Borough City of Reading
2023 Building Berks Winners Category
Commercial – Office
Stratix Systems Headquarters Building
Commercial – Renovation
Berks County Trust Building
Fraser Advanced Information Systems Headquarters Refresh
Residential – Multi-Family/Group
Lighthouse Women and Children’s Center
RMCTC Welding and Metal Fabrication New Building
RACC Campus Wayfinding Signage
Hospitality – Restaurant/Bar
Raven’s Café at RACC
Hospitality – Arts/Entertainment
WCR Center for the Arts Accessibility for All
Aviation Road Distribution Facility
Pennsylvania American Water Exeter Wastewater Treatment Plant Chlorine Conversion
Commercial – New
428 Penn Avenue
Keith Haring Outdoor Fitness Court
Residential – Renovation
1116 N 9th Street
Residential – New Construction
Berks County Private Residence
Berks Nature Phase II: The Rookery
Cover Story continued
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75 Years of Service Riverfront FCU Marks Anniversary with Gestures of Goodwill By Shawnae Lorenz, Vice President of Marketing, Riverfront Federal Credit Union
rom Riverfront’s formation in 1948 as the credit union serving employees of the Reading Railroad, the organization boasts a proud history as a member-owned financial cooperative headquartered in Berks County. And in 2023 as we mark 75 years of service, we want to say it’s been an honor and a privilege to guide our members on the path to financial wellness. To celebrate 75 years of service, Riverfront has been devoting each month to giving back to the community. Through our “75 Gestures of Goodwill” initiative, Riverfront has donated to a variety of causes, large and small, right here in Berks County. From individuals experiencing financial difficulty to donating much-needed items to other local non-profits, we’re proud to say we are committed to doing our part to help keep Berks
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County going strong. Even though we’ve already achieved our original goal of 75 gestures, in the spirit of 75 years of service, we understand there is still so much more good work to be done! So, we will continue with our gesture initiative through the end of the year. Keeping members’ financial lives healthy and manageable is what Riverfront is all about. We believe in the power of people working together to make Berks County a better place for all of us. To that, we are constantly evolving to provide the service delivery channels and products our community needs. Check in with us virtually via your mobile device in a live video session, or call or stop by a branch to hear more about what we can do for you!
Mifflin Court Senior Living Community: Donated 50 bunches of daffodils to residents to brighten their day.
American Diner Meals: Donated funds to cover the cost of meals for the team cleaning up the debris from the R.M. Palmer explosion.
Exeter Township School District: Surprised school’s bus drivers with donuts and coffee one morning.
Animal Rescue League of Berks County: Donated funds to cover the cost of a full treatment for respiratory disease for 20 animals.
Berks County Pretrial Services: Donated personal hygiene products for men and women.
Tower Behavioral Health: Donated board games for facility’s clients to assist with social skill building. CQ
Here are a few of the goodwill gestures from Riverfront FCU:
Reading Musical Foundation Operation Replay: Operation Replay helps to repair used instruments so they can be placed with an area student who is waiting to join a school music program. Riverfront donated funds to the program so young people can realize their potential through the skills and lessons music education delivers.
Reading Hospital A4 Ambulatory Clinic: Riverfront staff collectively filled 50 personal care kits which were donated to the Reading Hospital-Tower Health A4 Ambulatory Clinic to be given to patients.
Groovy Grinds: Riverfront donated funds to support a group of student volunteers who run a coffee shop onsite at Governor Mifflin High School.
Reading Fire Department: Donated Girl Scout cookies and snacks to Reading and Spring Township Fire Companies.
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The Landscape of Success Anewalt’s Celebrates 35 Years of Growth By Karen L. Chandler
n today’s business environment, what keeps a company growing and even thriving after decades of the ups and downs owners come to expect?
Lori Anewalt believes work ethics instilled into young people are one key. “We were taught blood, sweat, tears. Hang in there; never give up,” she said. “When the going gets tough, we get going. You never quit. When you’re in business 35 years, you’re going to hit some serious roadblocks. It would be very easy to throw the towel in if you didn’t have that inside of you, the amazing foundation of having to plow through.” Anewalt’s Landscape Contracting had a humble beginning. When only in elementary school, Eddie Anewalt IV started a neighborhood lawn mowing
Photos by Secoges Photographics, LLC
service with his grandparents as his first customers. Officially founded in 1988, today’s Team Anewalt’s is spearheaded by Eddie as president and Lori as vicepresident, and celebrates 35 years in business. Although the work ethics she and Eddie embody daily provide a foundation for Anewalt’s longevity, Lori credits other pieces of the puzzle for setting them on a path to success. “Eddie and I have complementary talents. You don’t often see that in the business world. You’re working so closely with someone that where they leave off, the other one is picking up,” she said. “When we started working together full time, we could make changes we wanted because we could accomplish more together.” And Eddie’s perseverance in completing his degree in Landscape Contracting, despite the commute to Penn State’s main campus, meant he could incorporate his studies into Anewalt’s in real time. “We started going in a more professional direction—a direction of excellence,” Lori said. More recently, Team Anewalt’s 25th anniversary decision to begin creating “poolscapes” catapulted the company into a creative, valued direction for customers, especially those struggling with pools installed with no consideration to sun or shade, topography or design. “Year 25 we put the ‘poolscapes’ out there, and in the last 10 we molded ourselves into the business we are today,” Lori said. But how do Eddie and Lori remain inspired after decades in business? While Team Anewalt’s continues bringing excellence to residential and commercial customers, providing professional landscape design
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and build services, year-round maintenance programs, and its popular Lights & Winter Décor. “It’s Year 35, so we had to come up with something creative,” Lori said. So, the Trees & Bees for Tomorrow program was born.
Landscape Installations Landscape Renovation Seasonal Color Changeouts for Planters and Window Boxes Hand Watering of Plants Fall Cleanups Shrub and Tree Pruning Deep Root Fertilizations of trees and shrubs Turf Renovation & Services: • Fall Lime Applications • Aeration and Overseeding • Fungicide Treatments
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“We want to be better stewards of our environment. We installed a butterfly garden this year, and we’re hoping to market it to our community to increase pollinator populations, not that we have to install the gardens, but we can help with plants,” she said. “We’re hoping to have 100 butterfly gardens with some connection to Anewalt’s by the end of 2024.” And for tree lovers, Team Anewalt’s hopes to have community members commit to planting native trees with goals of 100 started by this Dec. 31 and a thousand trees planted with intention by the end of 2024. Looking ahead, Eddie and Lori are planning a barefoot, sensory Serenity Walk around their property’s pond, eventually opening for the community to enjoy the walking paths and nature in the area. And Anewalt’s will continue to bring a moment of joy to commuters on Rt. 183 in Bernville as they pass the Anewalt’s Carscape decorated for every season. “Our tag word is rejuvenate this year. We have 85 percent of a new team, which is enormous. But Eddie and I love to look at not the obstacle, but the opportunity, and we’ve woven rejuvenate through our team. That ties in with the Serenity Walk and the Butterfly Garden. We’re doing things differently this year,” Lori said. After 35 years, Eddie and Lori are inspired to build their business on excellence and the love and appreciation of their community, the outdoors and the beauty of nature. For more information, go to www.anewaltslandscape.com, call 610-916-7070, or visit Anewalt’s Landscape Contracting, 76 Tobias Lane, Bernville. CQ
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Business & Community Advocacy
The Effect of the Courts on Your Business By Katie Hetherington Cunfer, Director of Government & Community Relations, GRCA
“I’ll see you in court,” is a phrase no business owner or employer wants to hear or should want to utter. There has been a lot of activity in the courts lately and while you hopefully don’t currently find your organization amid an action, you can’t afford to take your eye off what is going on at both the state and federal levels.
State The change in the political demographics of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to a 4-2 Democratic majority (and one vacancy) has led to several recent anti-business decisions. The decision that is causing the most concern wasn’t a court case, but the Court decided to make a Civil Procedure Rule change that allows for the return of venue shopping in medical malpractice cases. This had been a major issue in the 1990s and early 2000s that resulted in a legislative fix, but the Court has upended that, and now the only available recourse is the Court rescinding the rule or a Constitutional Amendment. The moment this rule passed, cases started flooding into Philadelphia where juries tend to give out higher awards. The cost to doctors and hospitals the last time resulted in an exodus of medical professionals and a crisis of available care. One of the first acts of the Democrat majority court was to overturn the Congressional maps, removing the authority to draw legislative boundaries from the legislative branch. The Courts also were heavily involved in the 2022 Congressional and State legislative maps that has resulted in a one-seat majority for the House Democratic Caucus. Other cases are looming before this body that could severely limit or add undue burdens on your business and the short track record of this court is not positive. Pennsylvania also has a special bifurcated appellate court system where cases are heard before going to the Supreme Court. State-related decisions are heard in Commonwealth Court and all other criminal and civil cases are heard in the Superior Court. The biggest, still-pending case in the Commonwealth Court is a decision on whether it was legal for the Wolf Administration to 16 G re ate rRe adin gCh am be r.o rg
enter the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) without legislative approval. The Court is also grappling with whether the planned fee to be levied against electricity-generating units for their tons of carbon emissions is a tax and therefore can only be originated by the legislature. The cost to fossil fuel-based electricity generators was projected at $2 billion over the next five years, and those costs would be passed on to consumers. It also would lead to a faster retirement of fossil fuel baseload operators, negatively impacting the state’s energy export economy. Portions of this case have been heard with others pending. The timeline for a decision remains unknown. Meanwhile the Shapiro Administration has been trying to grapple with how to address carbon emissions; a recent report indicated the taskforce looking at this issue remains deadlocked until the Court rules. The Commonwealth Court also recently handed down the decision that the K-12 school funding formula was unconstitutional. While the court decision laid out an extensive argument as to how and why the funding formula was unfair to the poorest of school districts, it did not attempt to address ways to bridge the equity gap, leaving the tough decision to the legislature and the Shapiro Administration. School advocate groups have been quick to call for dramatically increased funding from the state, but that does not address the inequitable network of property taxes across the state that go up each year and other expenses that would be paid by businesses and individuals. The legislature and the administration have been trying to negotiate a path forward but it’s very trial and error.
Federal While a ton of media focus has been on the cases moving through the U.S. Supreme Court, and for good reason, an area of law that employers need to track diligently is the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). This federal arbiter has been flexing its muscles and extending its reach under the Biden Administration, with a series of anti-employer decisions. These decisions include changes to allowing potential unions to
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drastically reduce timelines for elections, mandating union recognition, expanding the duty to bargain during contract negotiations, expanded protected activity, restricting work rules and handbook policies that may chill unionization efforts, an employee-friendly independent contractor standard, mandating specifics on when it is appropriate to discipline an employee, penalties for repeat offenders and restricting employee severance agreements. These were all in just the first nine months of the year. If you do not yet have an Employee Handbook, ask GRCA about the Barley Snyder Employee Handbook Program to start the process to protect your business.
a website that promotes or supports same-sex marriage as that would overstep that individual’s religious liberty. •
The Harvard case dealt with race-based affirmative action policies for college admissions, ruling that they violate the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. While not directly related to businesses, it has the potential to be used against businesses that may have affirmative action hiring processes. This is an emerging area of law.
The U.S. Supreme Court also has several important cases on the docket for this year and the most anticipated decision relates to the Cheron Doctrine. This standard was originally set in environmental cases and then broadly applied to all federal agencies. The precedent determined that in the times Congress was silent as to a specific rule or authority of a federal agency, that the agency was given the deference to determine if it had The Groff case specifically dealt with a U.S. Postal Service that power and the extent of that power, within reason. In recent employee who objected to being required to work on years, the Court has chipped away at that power, starting with Sundays for religious reasons. The U.S. Postal Service had the Mercury Rule case that found the Environmental Protection signed agreements to help ship and deliver packages for Agency had promulgated rules beyond its authority for electricAmazon and other online retailers to help with funding ity-generating units. This decision took over 10 years of appeals issues, resulting in weekend work schedules. Groff objected, and many of the affected coal-fired power plants closed or made and the court agreed that the burden is on the employer major investments before the rule was rescinded. Similarly, the to find solutions that accommodate religious requests Waters of the U.S. case was decided along the same lines. Whether that do not cause an undue burden or harm. In this case, the Chevron Doctrine remains intact will be an indicator if many allowing Groff a schedule that does not include days he of the Biden Administration regulations such as the Securities and practices his religion is not an undue burden. Exchange Commission requiring companies to report greenhouse The 303 Creative case was brought as an action following gas emissions from their entire supply chain are legal or must wait the Masterpiece Cakeshop decision concerning Colorado’s for Congressional action to empower the agency directly. Those anti-discrimination laws. The 303 decision stated that the cases will be heard in January with decisions likely not until the Court could not compel speech in the form of designing end of the court year in late June. CQ
The U.S. Supreme Court cases that had the most effect on employers during the last term included Groff v. DeJoy, 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis, and Students for Fair Admissions Inc. v. Presidents & Fellows of Harvard College. •
For the Love of Wine (and Coffee) Reading Coffee Company expands offerings into vino By Caitlin Bonner, Communications & Marketing Intern, GRCA
ig changes are coming to Reading Coffee Company (RCC) in some very unexpected ways.
The well-known coffee establishment recently announced it would be taking on its newest business venture—as a wine-importing company. Now licensed, a portion of the store will be dedicated to selling wines imported from places around the world such as Abruzzo and Sicily, Italy, and soon from Argentina and Provence, France. It’s a different path from the one your typical coffee shop might take, and that’s what separates the Reading Coffee Company (RCC) from the rest. “People that enjoy the finer things like fine coffee also tend to enjoy fine libations and wines, so we decided to give it a try,” said Frank Orman, RCC owner. “It builds traffic coming into the store and gives customers more varied options when they visit us. We hope for a crosspromotional type of thing.” The company is excited to share these ventures with its customers and the wider public, and based on the reaction it’s received, the feeling is mutual. RCC recently held a wine tasting event that showcased a portion of the public’s interest.
Frank Orman, RCC owner
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“It was great,” Orman said. “If anything, the only problem is that there were too many people! People came out to enjoy our products and try out our wines— taste them, talk about them, share their experiences overseas in Italy and Europe. It really opened up a
chance for the staff and the customers to converse on a more indepth level. From our perspective, that’s success.” For anyone interested in seeking out new tastes and flavors, RCC takes pride in offering an array of high-quality coffees and wines that offer something for everyone. The company’s top selling product is a flavored coffee, Jamaican Me Crazy, a mix of vanilla, caramel and a coffee liqueur that is rounded out with a roast done as a base. Other options for fans of flavor include Jazzy Java, Raspberry Vanilla and Highlander Cream. For those who prefer single origin and blends, Orman recommends a personal favorite of his, a Sumatra Mandheling, an Indonesian coffee that is low in acidity but still full-bodied and very earthy. The company also offers a dark roast with the same qualities plus an additional smokiness, which is great for the wintertime. People who enjoy the lighter side of coffee should try options like Costa Rican, which is more citric and lighter bodied. As far as wines go, Orman says it all depends on what you like. Over the summer, the company’s best seller was a semi-dry rosé wine served chilled. However, as it continues to expand and import more wines, new options could spark interest and excitement. It’s a place where all are welcome, not just in terms of tastes and preferences, but also in terms of community. Whether it’s the company behind the scenes or giving back, it’s something RCC is dedicating its focus to. “I’m surrounded by great people,” Orman said. “It’s an environment I try to keep as fun and upbeat as I can because when people come for coffee, they want a positive experience and hospitality, so that’s what we’re striving to become.” When it comes to giving back, RCC is enthusiastic about its fundraising opportunities. A business would normally wholesale coffee for people who are going to resell it, but they would have to buy in large quantities to get a lower price. RCC makes these minimum purchases much lower so the groups who are looking to raise money only must buy a few of these products to get those lower price points. Then, the group can charge retail and keep the difference. To add to that, coffee is a product that’s proven an easy sell for those who use it—from gymnastic groups to firehouses, Cub Scouts, lady’s auxiliaries, Reading Pride and schools. “They’ve been very successful,” Orman said. “[These organizations] facilitate the sale and then once we fill the order, they give all the coffee out to everyone and everyone’s happy.” The company will soon be debuting an option on its website where people will be able to buy directly and put their purchase toward a specific organization that will receive the profit. Updates on wine imports and fundraising opportunities are far from the only changes being made to the RCC’s offerings. The ever-expanding company is currently working on renovations to the café where people will be able to come in and try before they buy. The company hopes to have this done by Christmastime. It is also looking to expand with an outdoor area where people will be served food as well at its headquarters in Birdsboro. “Come visit the store,” Orman said. “Get some coffee, get some wine. We have our temporary café and coffee bar, and soon enough we’ll have the full experience up and running. Just having people in the building and having that lively atmosphere, that’s what we’re looking for.” CQ
GREATER READING Chamber Alliance
ere’s a taste of what the Greater Reading Chamber Alliance (GRCA) has been working on in the past couple of months and what’s to come!
Advocacy The GRCA Advocacy Program has been following the remaining code bills for the 2023-24 state budget, advocating to include ramping up the reduction of the corporate net income tax and addressing the rising costs of childcare. At the federal level, we have been monitoring the problems with passing the appropriations bills and the 2023 Farm Bill. Through the Business & Community Advocacy Council, we concluded holding one-on-one meetings with new-to-Berks state legislators and held out first Congressional and State Legislator Business Tours & Roundtable programs with Cong. Madeleine Dean (PA-4), Sen. Chris Gebhard (PA-48) and Sen. Tracy Pennycuick (PA-24) with tours of RACC’s Schmidt Manufacturing Training Center and UGI’s Training Center. In 2024, the Shapiro Administration will be rolling out a statewide economic development strategy that will be led by the Department of Community & Economic Development and Team PA. We will be working through how to best take advantage of these proposals and push to ensure the plan is fully implemented to the benefit of Berks businesses. Discussions about pursuing beneficial tax zones for economic development will be part of this strategy.
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Economic Development The entire GRCA team is committed to helping Berks-based businesses not only in their expansion and growth initiatives but also in attracting top talent. Whether a company is seeking information to better understand its customers, looking for properties to accommodate relocation or expansion, exploring financing opportunities, or marketing the community to bolster the local workforce, our team has the resources and expertise to make it happen.
Events & Special Programs With the summertime officially over, the GRCA events team is diving into 2024 event planning. We can’t wait to share the new things we have planned in the new year. As we near the end of the year, you’d think things would slow down, but we just get busier. We look forward to seeing you all at Taste of Berks, our annual foodie event. We can’t wait! In June, the Women2Women Council, community members, and college students attended an all-day, strategic planning session in East Penn’s Farmhouse. This day is made exclusively for brainstorming, discussion, small group breakouts and goal setting for the coming years. With almost 30 women in attendance, the day flew by and resulted in an exciting look into the future of Women2Women. You will hear about the final plan soon!
Membership GRCA’s Membership Team is on a mission to connect with every member—from newcomers to seasoned participants. We’re committed to ensuring that every member, old or new, fully leverages the benefits of our community. Please contact us if you’re interested in scheduling a Membership Benefits Refresher. Let’s ensure you maximize your membership and seize every opportunity for growth and success. Your success is our priority, and we’re here to support you every step of the way. Also, the October relaunch of our Coffee & Convos was the place to be. Attendees gained valuable knowledge on the Essentials of Networking. We hope you will join us for the next event and embrace the opportunity to brew success—one cup of coffee and one conversation at a time. Your business growth and employee retention goals are within reach, and we’ll help you seize them.
Training & Workforce Development GRCA has a robust offering of both new and vital professional development programs starting in January 2024. GRCA will be delivering its acclaimed Lead Worker Certificate and Supervisor Training Certificate Programs as well as the highly rated Essentials of Effective Management and Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace. New for 2024 is the much-anticipated Essentials of Personal Mastery. Stay tuned for more details! GRCA continues to meet the needs of our members and the business community with three new workshops. Practical Project Management will equip you with the skills to successfully usher critical projects to completion. Are You Listening? Hellloooo! Real Listening is More than Head-Nods! is a tremendous opportunity to hone your listening skills. Finally, Business Writing Like A Pro! will help you sharpen your writing abilities to more effectively communicate. Do you have your sights set on the C-Suite or taking on a more prominent role in your organization? GRCA Executive Leadership Academy will prepare you with the competencies to develop and lead strategy, understand financial implications of decisions and create highly functional senior teams. Join us Thursday, Jan. 18 and take your career to the next level. In addition to the MFG Summit held Thursday, Sept. 14, GRCA’s workforce work continued with hosting the Healthcare IP Quarterly Meeting at Penn State Health St. Joseph. Twenty-two attendees, representing local healthcare organizations, educational institutions and organizations, gathered. GRCA began the pilot launch of the Employer Network in mid-September. This includes a paid marketing campaign, which will look to produce a funnel (Talent Roster) of job seekers looking to relocate to the Greater Reading area. CQ
Commercial/Industrial/Healthcare/Retail • General Contracting • Remodeling • Excavation/Demolition
• Facility Maintenance Services • Welding & Fabrication • & Much More!
8 Tube Drive | Reading, PA 19605 | 610.916.9828 | blattgroup.com
Events & Signature Programs
Cornament, Home Run Derby steal the show at Annual Picnic Photos by Wayne Becker, ZERBE Studio of Photography
With perfect weather and a huge crowd, the Annual Picnic hit it out of the park! The more than 400 attendees networked and noshed with new and old friends at FirstEnergy Stadium and cooled down with refreshing beverages while listening to the sounds of the Milhouse Trio and Noah Gibney Duo. The big new story was our very first Cornament, which drew 32 players in fierce competition and lasted from the moment the gates opened to the last cheer that evening. In the end, the Herbein Holers—a team of Jen Werner and Nick Bieber—walked away with the prize (and tried to walk away with the whole bracket as well!). But the big news as always was the Home Run Derby. Fourteen batters fought it out for the top spot, but in the end, it was Bryon Kauffman from EthoSource who won the trophy. CQ
Herbein + Co.’s Jen Werner and Nick Bieber celebrate their Cornament win.
Board Chairwoman Sara Stump presents the Home Run Derby trophy to Ethosource’s Bryon Kauffman.
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Penn State Health, Mid Penn Bank commit to raise more than $1 million for Department of Urology Commitment strengthens No Shave November fundraising efforts By Barbara Schindo, Penn State Health
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enn State Health and Mid Penn Bank are strengthening their commitment to supporting life-changing care and increasing cancer research in central Pennsylvania. As an expansion of the organizations’ No Shave November partnership, Mid Penn Bank has committed to lead a campaign over the next four years that will bring their fundraising total since 2020 to $1.1 million.
“We’re proud to deepen our long-time partnership with Penn State Health and the College of Medicine and contribute to our shared goal of improving men’s health,” Mid Penn Bank President and CEO Rory Ritrievi said. Each November since 2016, participants from both organizations have ditched their razors and grown their facial hair with the goal of raising cancer awareness and starting conversations about prostate health. In 2022, they collectively raised a record-breaking $241,000 for men’s health and cancer research. Now, Mid Penn Bank is committed to leading the campaign that will build on the success of previous efforts and raise $1.1 million by 2026. Money raised supports the Department of Urology’s involvement in the Pennsylvania Urologic Regional Collaborative (PURC), a qualityimprovement initiative that connects urology practices in a physician-led, datasharing and improvement collaborative aimed at advancing the quality of diagnosis and care for patients with prostate cancer. PURC’s goal is to improve the care of people in central Pennsylvania who are suspected of having or have been diagnosed with prostate cancer. “We’re so grateful that Mid Penn Bank has joined us as a champion for men’s health,” said Dr. Jay Raman, interim chair of the Department of Urology at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and Penn State College of Medicine. “Community partnerships are
important in growing awareness, educating our communities and getting men the care they need.” This commitment also supports the research of physicianscientists in the Department of Urology that focuses on cancer care in the aging population, addresses cancer disparities in minority populations and increases genetic testing of cancer patients to better determine risk and personalize therapies. In addition to supporting cancer research, the money helps provide free prostate cancer screenings for the community, supports mission-based work by the department to underserved areas regionally and nationally and makes available educational conferences for patients and health care professionals covering elements of cancer prevention and screening. “Philanthropy is absolutely vital to medical research. This support helps dedicated researchers uncover groundbreaking, lifesaving treatments for prostate cancer and other diseases affecting men’s health,” said Dr. Kevin Black, interim dean of the College of Medicine. In honor of Mid Penn Bank’s leadership and financial commitment to this fundraising effort, Penn State will name the second-floor outpatient clinic at Penn State Cancer Institute the Mid Penn Bank Outpatient Clinic. Gifts from community partners like Mid Penn Bank advance the University’s historic land-grant mission to serve and lead. Through philanthropy, alumni and friends are helping students to join the Penn State family and prepare for lifelong success; driving research, outreach and economic development that grow our shared strength and readiness for the future; and increasing the University’s impact for families, patients and communities across the commonwealth and around the world. Learn more by visiting raise.psu.edu. CQ
Mid Penn Bank President and CEO Rory Ritrievi and Dr. Jay Raman announce partnership to raise $1.1 million for Penn State Health Department of Urology. 25
The Amazing Toy Drive Freddy Vasquez brings joy to Berks County Youth
By Melissa Hassler, Membership Coordinator, GRCA
n the heart of Berks County, a remarkable individual has been using his talents and passion for giving back to create something extraordinary. Freddy Vasquez, the founder of FXV Digital Design, has taken his love for Christmas and his community to establish “The Awesome Toy Drive,” an initiative to collect toys for underprivileged youth during the holiday season. Vasquez’s journey to becoming a light for needy children is as unique as it is inspiring. Originally hailing from New York, he ventured into marketing by promoting his band during the ’90s and early 2000s. His marketing skills flourished in the music industry, and eventually, he decided to use that expertise to build his own successful business, FXV Digital Design. In 2009, Vasquez moved to Wyomissing, where he discovered a profound passion for giving back to his newfound community. “I’ve been very blessed in my life and the only way I know how to thank the universe for giving me so much is by giving even more back, and when it comes to children, I’m all in. My goal is to collect for thousands of children in the years to come and beyond my time here on Earth,” said Vasquez. The Awesome Toy Drive collects toys for several local organizations in Berks County, including the Children’s Home of Reading, Concern for Kids, Olivet Boys & Girls Club and Opportunity House. Vasquez’s desire to give back to the community that had welcomed him and his deep affection for needy children made the initiative a natural choice. The drive’s growth has been impressive, with 32 locations participating in the collection efforts last year. Vasquez’s approach
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is simple yet effective: he invites small businesses to host a tree adorned with gift ornaments at their premises. Employees and customers can choose one or more tags from the tree, each representing a child’s wish for a holiday gift. The collected gifts are then gathered and delivered to the designated charities. One of the most beautiful aspects of The Awesome Toy Drive is its inclusivity. Vasquez invites everyone to join in the endeavor. Whether you’re an individual looking to make a difference, or a business interested in participating, there’s a role for everyone. Volunteers are needed to drop off trees and ornaments and to assist in collecting donated toys at the end of the drive. “The best way to help is by grabbing an ornament and purchasing a gift. But if you can’t, then PLEASE SHARE ON SOCIAL MEDIA! The more people that know about the drive, the better our chances are at filling every request by the children in need,” said Vasquez. The best thing about the drive is that everyone can contribute in some way, whether by purchasing a gift or simply spreading the word on social media. Vasquez emphasizes that, “The more people that learn about the toy drive, the greater the likelihood of fulfilling every request made by needy children. It’s all about building a sense of community and shared responsibility for the well-being of those less fortunate.” For details on how you can make magic for children in need this Christmas Season, contact Vasquez at (484) 509-4285 or visit awesometoydrive.com. CQ
The Region’s First Female Urologist
Paulette C. Dreher, DO Urologist
www.CenterForUrologicCare.com • 1320 Broadcasting Road, Suite 200 • Wyomissing, PA
Events & Signature Programs
Gathering at the Summit Event brings together manufacturing workforce By Keith Stamm, Director of Workforce Development, GRCA Photos by Wayne Becker, ZERBE Studio of Photography
he Greater Reading Chamber Alliance (GRCA) hosted its annual manufacturing summit Thursday, Sept. 14 at the Miller Center for the Arts. This year’s summit brought together manufacturing professionals, educational and community partners as well as community leaders to celebrate the manufacturing industry. Manufacturing holds the No. 1 spot as both the largest industry sector based on employment and Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
This half-day event recognized and celebrated manufacturing while bringing together manufacturers throughout the area to discuss common trends, current challenges and exciting, future possibilities. Vinitha Moskal, Founder & CEO of SmartCost Inc., was the keynote speaker for this event. Her presentation titled “From Assembly Lines to Algorithms: A New Era in Manufacturing” American Crane and Equipment Corp.’s Karen Norheim, East Penn focused on how AI and technological advances are shaping the manufacturing industry. Manufacturing’s Chris Pruitt, at right, and Brentwood Industries’ Peter Rye held a panel discussion on pivoting to solve problems. Her presentation was followed by a discussion of regional executives including American Crane and Equipment Corp.’s Karen Norheim, East Penn Manufacturing’s Chris Pruitt and Brentwood Industries’ Peter Rye. Each shared insights and experiences on how their companies have adapted in the past few years and how they are positioning for the future. A resounding theme from the panelists centered around companies’ ability to pivot to solve challenges while Lisa Lavender, COO & Coalso embracing innovation to be better positioned for the future. Owner of Berks·Fire·Water Restoration, Inc., shared tips on how to proactively prepare for issues that may arise.
The summit wrapped up with a presentation from Lisa Lavender, COO & Co-Owner of Berks·Fire·Water Restoration, Inc. Lavendar shared strategies and tips to help businesses prepare for unexpected interruptions by proactively planning for different scenarios in advance. She also shared some practical examples with the audience.
Anyone who is interested in more information about the Manufacturing Industry Partnership of the Greater Reading region can contact me at email@example.com or 610-898-7776. CQ 28 G re ate rRe adin gCh am be r.o rg
Keynote speaker Vinitha Moskal gave insights on how AI and technological advances are shaping the manufacturing industry.
More than 150 people in manufacturing gathered at RACC’s Miller Center for the Arts for GRCA’s annual MFG Summit.
In Your Community
MAIN STREET PROGRAMS
Connecting with nature By Ellen Martignetti, Building a Better Boyertown Main Street Manager
uilding a Better Boyertown has been awarded a $25,000 grant from the County of Berks via the Imagine Berks Initiative for further development of the Secret Valley Trail (SVT). The SVT is a trail system that will connect Boyertown through Pottstown to the Schuylkill River Trail. The trail will provide opportunities for people to engage in physical activities like walking, jogging, cycling, hiking and in some areas horseback riding. Sections of this trail will also be handicapped accessible. The SVT will provide many benefits to the Boyertown community as well as surrounding areas including recreation, health and wellness, alternative ways to commute and ecotourism.
The SVT will enhance the quality of life for area residents. It will offer a peaceful and natural environment that can reduce stress and improve overall health, making the surrounding properties more attractive. Spending time on trails in natural settings has been shown to reduce stress, anxiety and depression while promoting mental well-being. Trails often serve as gathering places for communities, promoting social interaction, community bonding and a sense of belonging. The SVT will provide active transportation, offering eco-friendly alternatives to driving which promotes sustainable transportation options, reducing carbon emissions and energy consumption. Commuting via this trail will not only promote physical activity but also offer a safe route between Boyertown and Pottstown businesses. The Secret Valley Trail will also help improve the local economy. This trail will provide opportunities for cultural exchange as tourists interact with local communities, educate themselves about the heritage of this area and appreciate the surrounding, natural environment. Ecotourism, facilitated by the SRT, will boost the local economy by attracting tourists who spend money on accommodation, food and activities. Finally, it will serve as a multifaceted asset to Berks County, the Boyertown Community and surrounding communities, promoting physical and mental health, reducing environmental impact through alternative commuting options, and contributing to the conservation and economic development of natural areas through ecotourism. CQ
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Rebirth of historic Hamburg businesses By Lynn Weller, Administrative Assistant, Our Town Foundation
wo historic buildings have new life in Hamburg, thanks to the thriving entrepreneur spirit in the community. This season Our Town Foundation welcomes The WhereHouse of Hamburg and State Street Lanes to the expanding business community, bringing back two abandoned locations for increased recreational and gathering opportunities in the area.
The WhereHouse of Hamburg, the town’s newest wedding and catered event space, has a long history in the Hamburg economy. The building served as a knitting mill for the majority of the 20th Century during the booming textile industry. At one time, the building housed part of the famous Burkey’s Mill, which manufactured hosiery and underwear. The building was vacant for 24 years before being purchased in 2021 by Dave and Kim Shefter, owners of the former Penn Werner Hotel. After two years of extensive renovations, the building is now a beautiful event and gathering space for the community. The WhereHouse is a family-owned business, with seven family members involved in the operations. The venue features a unique setting with modern and vintage backdrops, in-house catering by Chef Shef ’s Catering, and seating for up to 350 guests. What was once a bustling knitting mill, then vacant for many years, is now a beautiful venue for weddings, corporate events, fundraisers and everything in between.
To learn more, visit thewherehouseofhamburg.com. Another family-owned business opening up near the heart of town is State Street Lanes bowling alley. After being closed for many years, the location of previous bowling establishments and local hangout spots, including the well-known Hoffman Lanes, is now remodeled and updated. Proprietors Mitchell Diodato and his wife, Julie, are excited to serve the community knowing they can provide a source of fun and entertainment to the Hamburg area. State Street Lanes now features a new automatic scoring system, six brand new AMF lanes, glow in the dark lighting, online booking and beautiful aesthetic upgrades, with plans to include additional food and beverage options for patrons in the future. State Street Lanes is ready for families, leagues, private events, fundraisers and all bowling enthusiasts. To learn more, visit statestreetlanes.com. For additional information on Our Town Foundation, visit www.hamburgpa.org. CQ
In Your Community continued MAIN STREET PROGRAMS
Kicks off holiday season with Small Business Saturday By Sandy Green, Community Liaison and Government Relations Assistant, Kutztown Community Partnership
s the holiday spirit fills the air and the anticipation for the most wonderful time of the year grows, Kutztown is gearing up for a grand celebration of the season. Small Business Saturday, on Nov. 25, will mark the official kickoff to the holiday season, and Kutztown is pulling out all the stops to make it a memorable event for everyone. Participate in the fun activities scheduled for the day. Vote in our decorating contest, visit Santa at the Strand, join in a holiday scavenger hunt, donate pet food to the Friend Inc. Pet Pantry, visit the Kutztown Community Partnership office for a silent auction to benefit the Strand renovation project and stop by our pop-up artist show and sale. Kutztown encourages everyone to come out and support its local businesses. It’s the perfect opportunity to discover unique gifts and get a head start on your holiday shopping while helping our community thrive.
A Showcase of Student Talents Don’t miss the University’s Holiday Pop-Up Market at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 2 in front of Schaeffer Auditorium. It will be held outside, weather permitting. Students from the Clay Club, Textile Club, Photography Club, Print Club and Letterpress will be showcasing their amazing artwork and handcrafted gifts. Find one-of-a-kind presents while supporting the talents of local students.
Craig Thatcher’s “Rockin’ Holiday Show” Get ready to rock the holiday season on Saturday, Dec. 2 at 7:30 p.m. at Kutztown University Schaeffer Auditorium as Craig Thatcher, Nyk Van Wyk, Regina Sayles, Craig & Pat Kastelnik, Joel Shimer, Chico Huff and Billy Wear take state for this “Rockin’ Holiday Show.” Enjoy a night of holiday music that will have you dancing your way into the festive spirit. Purchase your tickets at: tinyurl.com/r6snv36c.
Magical Day Out Make your way to “Christmas on the Farm” Saturday, Dec. 2, and experience the enchanting charm of a holiday celebration in a rustic setting. Enjoy a Pennsylvania Dutch Christmas, featuring visits from the Belsnickel, traditional music, kids activities, folklife demonstrations and seasonal activities. This event is free to the public and fun for the whole family. Visit the PA German Cultural Heritage Center at 22 Luckenbill Road, Kutztown.
A Month of Magical Journeys The holiday fun continues throughout the month of December with train rides with Santa. Hop aboard and take a magical journey through the winter wonderland while Santa and Mrs. Claus make a special appearance. It’s an experience the whole family will cherish. Purchase your tickets at www.allentownandauburnrailroad.com/s/shop. Kutztown is your holiday destination this season, offering something for everyone to celebrate the most wonderful time of the year. Don’t miss out on these exciting events; join us in making this holiday season unforgettable. CQ 32 G re ate rRe adin g Ch am be r.o rg
WEST READING Reflecting on my work in West Reading
By Mark Ratcliffe, West Reading Main Street Executive Director
his will be the last Commerce Quarterly article I write. As I turn over my post to the next Main Street Manager, I reflect on my goal of leaving West Reading in a better place than where I found it six and a half years ago.
years. I know there is still room for growth, but I am proud of where we are today and look forward to working with and watching the next manager take us to an even better place in the near future. CQ
West Reading has grown a lot since I opened my first business here in 1989. During my tenure, West Reading has continued to grow even in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. COVID caused the closure of eight businesses, but over 25 businesses opened and many more since. Today, store fronts fill up as soon as they become available. I find it rewarding to see so many businesses open and truly succeed. It is not easy to open a new business and keep it going. Not every business has what it takes to survive but I have seen more than average succeed recently in West Reading. As someone who was here before there was a Main Street program, I can safely say we are a far cry from where we were in 1989. The Main Street program was established in 1999 and has worked to improve our sidewalks, add new and improved light posts, benches, trash cans, planters and banners. We have helped fund other sidewalk restoration projects and helped repaint numerous residential buildings throughout the borough. We have added over 30 murals and continue to add murals. Art on the Ave was started 28 years ago and has grown to be our most successful event. Both Art on the Ave and Fall Fest drew almost 200 vendors and over 27,000 attendees—raising awareness of our community and cash for our businesses. These events also help raise needed funds that support revitalization efforts.
Photo by Anthony Matz
West Reading has also become one of Berks County’s best attraction and retention tools. I constantly hear how when local corporations are looking to attract new talent, West Reading is the first place they use to showcase what a great area in which to live. We continue to improve our community and are currently working on our biggest art project yet, the repainting of our gateway railroad bridge. We also will be adding new LED lighting to help brighten Penn Ave. and reduce costs for the borough. We couldn’t do any of this without our community’s support, and I personally want to thank everyone that has supported us over the
w! Ne3582 PENN AVE, SINKING SPRING, PA 33
Member News: Industry & Community Newsmakers
Congratulations! Reading Bakery Systems (RBS), one of the world’s leading manufacturers of snack production systems, unveiled the new Thomas L. Green Emithermic XE Oven, a superior replacement for traditional Direct Gas Fired (DGF) ovens. This new oven reduces energy and emissions, and simplifies cleaning and maintenance, while improving cracker baking performance.
The Reading Science Center is excited to announce the appointment of Ralia C. Vardaxis as its new Executive Director. Vardaxis brings a wealth of experience and expertise in development, marketing, communications, strategic programming, and management and has a proven track record of success in building solid relationships with donors, volunteers and community partners.
Jeffrey Spotts, President and Chief Executive Officer of Spotts Insurance Group, is pleased to announce that his agency has been awarded the prestigious Personal Lines AllStar Award from Nationwide Insurance, ranking 4th in the country out of over 12,000 agencies. Nationwide Insurance awards Personal Lines All-Star status annually to only 25 agencies throughout the country. All-Star agencies outpace their peers in annual performance with Nationwide, including the size of their book of business, year-over-year growth and overall sales.
Bill McKay has been named to the Albright College Total Experience Learning® (TExpL) leadership team, as the Director of Project Development for pre-college and summer programs. In this role, McKay will oversee the TExpL Antietam and Reading academy programs, as well as the TExpL Early Career Academy for high school students. McKay is recognized by peers for his successful initiatives to better education, efforts to support teachers in the classroom, and nurture today’s learners with methods that work.
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Karen Norheim, President and CEO of American Crane Equipment Corp., has been named the recipient of a 2023 Leadership Award by Vistage, the world’s largest CEO coaching and peer advisory organization for small and midsize businesses. The Leadership Award celebrates a member’s enduring excellence in leadership, recognizing the impact they’ve had on their business, Vistage group and community. Leadership Award winners have implemented significant changes in their businesses that lay the groundwork for a strong future.
Herbein + Company, Inc. (Herbein) has admitted 6 new partners, effective Oct. 1. The 2023 partner class represents a wide variety of expertise and experience across the organization. Working in different services and industries at Herbein, the new partners embody Herbein’s mission of helping our clients succeed with confidence. Congratulations to Herbein’s newest partners: Bryanna L. Fredericks, CPA Jennifer L. Hartkorn, CPA Brian D. Jamnik, CPA Paula D. Markle, CPA Megan N. Thompson, CPA Jeffrey A. Yaniro, CPA
Patricia (Trish) Doll, owner of an award-winning Marketing-Public Relations firm, Publicity Works, has recently been honored with the 2023 Central Penn Business Journal’s Central Pennsylvania Women of Influence Award. The Women of Influence awards were created to recognize women leaders who are influential in their companies, industries and communities. The Award recognizes high-achieving, exceptional women for their career accomplishments and are selected based on their professional leadership, significant contributions to the community and commitment to mentoring. Trish previously received this award in 2011.
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Member News: Industry & Community Newsmakers continued RKL LLP is pleased to share that firm Practice Leader Michael Koch has been named one of Lehigh Valley Business’s Forty Under 40 honorees. As the Practice Leader of RKL’s Valuation Services, Koch performs engagements for gifting, estate planning, and buying and selling businesses, in addition to other analysis and consulting. He’s experienced in valuation, financial modeling and projections, and litigation support, and builds strategic partnerships with his clients to help them grow and succeed.
Muhlenberg Greene Architects is pleased to announce that Eddit Marmolejos Gil has joined its firm as a Design Technician. Gil will assist the firm’s Architects and Project Managers with all phases of design documentation and construction contract administration, develop detailed 3D/BIM models and will create construction documents and schedules from those models. She will also assist Project Managers with construction phase contract administration and utilize her bilingual skills to assist MG Architects’ client base as needed.
Barley Snyder is proud to share that the firm has been named to The Legal Intelligencer’s 2023 Watch List. The Legal Intelligencer is the oldest daily law journal published in the United States, keeping Pennsylvania’s legal professionals up to date on the latest industry developments with editorial coverage and news on court decisions, verdicts and practice issues.
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Mid Penn Bank (the “Bank”), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Mid Penn Bancorp, Inc. (“Mid Penn”) (NASDAQ: MPB), celebrated its 155th anniversary on Sept. 21, 2023. Originally chartered as Millersburg Trust Company, the Bank is Central Pennsylvania’s oldest continuous banking institution. Over the years, it has grown to be a $5 billion bank with 49 financial center locations throughout all regions of Pennsylvania and central New Jersey. Services have expanded to include trust and wealth management, insurance products, and private banking.
Former Mid Penn Bank Director Bill Nelson and current Director Bill Specht gathered to celebrate the anniversary of the Bank.
Herbein + Company, Inc. (Herbein), has appointed Rachel Bashore, Esq., as director of operations and strategic initiatives. In this newly created role, Bashore will help drive the firm’s strategic direction, by leading initiatives to enhance operational efficiency, and streamlining business processes to benefit Herbein clients and team members. Bashore will serve as an advisor to the firm partnership and leadership team, helping translate strategic priorities into actionable and qualitative plans aligned to the firm’s strategic plan. An attorney, Bashore will also serve as Herbein’s in-house legal counsel, providing important oversight of the firm’s M&A strategic execution.
Kevin D. Bieber recently joined Fleetwood Bank as a Vice President, Relationship Manager. This highly skilled business banker comes to the company after most recently serving as a Small Business Commercial Lender for the past 22 years. His versatile background in Financial Services is that of which would be sought out by any business.
Brad Stephenson, CEO of New Castle Lawn and Landscape, has been named the recipient of a 2023 Impact Award by Vistage, the world’s largest CEO coaching and peer advisory organization for small and midsize businesses. The Impact Award recognizes the remarkable development and achievement of trailblazing leaders. From business growth to leadership development, dedicated leaders reach significant heights within their first years as Vistage members, with lasting impact on their company, peers and community.
Albright College has been named an “academically outstanding” Best College in the Mid Atlantic by the Princeton Review. Albright has appeared on the Princeton Review’s Best Regional Colleges list 19 times in the last 20 years. Based on data from 165,000 college students, only 97 schools in the Mid Atlantic and 630 schools across the nation were recognized as Regional Best Colleges for 2024.
Barley Snyder is pleased to announce the promotion of Jennifer Good to Chief Human Resources Officer. Good previously served as Director of Human Resources since 2015, overseeing policy development, benefit administration, talent management and labor relations for the firm. She was initially hired as a Human Resource Generalist in 2013. In her new role, she will continue to focus on evolving conditions in all aspects of the labor market, including compensation and benefits.
The Central Penn Business Journal has selected Barley Snyder partner Justin A. Tomevi to its 2023 Forty Under 40 list. Tomevi is an attorney in Barley Snyder’s Litigation Practice Group, assisting businesses, institutions and individuals in identifying and managing litigation risk, resolving disputes and achieving their objectives.
Congratulations! CQ 37
Member News: New Members & Anniversaries AUGUST 2023 – OCTOBER 2023 New Members
7 Brew Drive Thru Coffee ACNB Bank Aesir Logistics, LLC American Capital Express LLC Bent Limb Farm LLC Bring The Change, Inc. C&S Service & Supply Company Center for Urologic Care Century 21 Gold Chime CPA Community Aid Compass Dental D&B Elite Custom Enterprise Systems Partners, Inc. Eric Schultz Remodeling Fairway Independent Mortgage Corporation Frutchey Endodontics Garnet Volkswagen & Audi Reading Heck Construction Company, Inc. IMM Enterprises LLC, Aquafeel Solutions Kim R. Lewis Design/Urban Charm Mon Balloon by Montse Moselem Springs Golf Club PartyMasterz Productions, LLC Palaeli Studio LLC Plum Creek Farm Market & Creamery Purcell Construction Company Prestige Insurance Solutions Reading Public Museum Renewed Vitality Spartan Properties, LLC Stonekeep Meadery LLC Stratus Cleaning Building Solutions The Cherry on Top LLC Thomas W. Rhoads Trish’s Specialty Cheesecakes Wieland Heyco Workplace Talent Solutions
AUGUST 2023 – DECEMBER 2023 1 YEAR
Diversified Family Interventions T.A. Industries Prizer Painter The Crossroads Group Reading Pride Celebration Northeast Lawn & Landscape Resurgent Payments, LLC Sly Fox Taphouse Mountainview Mechanical Team of Greats LLC G V Enterprises LLC Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses - Greater Philadelphia McCarthy Enterprises Equinox Benefits Consulting Yuasa Battery, Inc. Kineticxperience Studio 413 Photography Innovation Cleaning LLC McNees Strategic Solutions Group Leeward Renewable Energy
Humane Pennsylvania Launch DM
10 YEARS KKBS Facility Services LLC PeopleShare Tulpehocken Area School District Steamfitters Local Union 420 OneSource Business Solutions LLC
25 YEARS Boyer’s Floor Covering, Inc. Crime Alert Berks County
35 YEARS Borough of Wyomissing
40 YEARS F.M. Brown’s Sons, Inc.
Go Fish! Seafood
20 YEARS Brook Ledge Inc. Peiffer Machine Services Schuylkill River Greenways Nation Heritage Area Topton Family Practice
Interested in becoming a part of the Greater Reading Chamber Alliance? Contact Jackie Stiles at firstname.lastname@example.org or 610.898.7785.
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*Research from the Association of Chambers of Commerce Executives (ACCE)
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