Greater Reading Chamber
Ellen Albright, Editor
201 Penn St., Suite 501, Reading, PA 19601 greaterreadingchamber.org • 610.376.6766
28 Business & Community Advocacy
The opinions expressed in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.
In Your Community 34 Commercial Real Estate in the
As the business voice of Greater Reading, the Chamber leads the business community, as the economic driver, to a vibrant community.
8 Cover Stor y
Your Greater Reading Chamber of Commerce & Industry…
» Partners with all other economic development organizations in creating an environment for growth.
» Enables all businesses to take deliberate and
decided action on issues affecting their welfare.
» Helps small business thrive and
The Chamber’s Favorite “New” Buzzword…Mentoring
Effective Leadership 14 BerksSchuylkill Chapter of SCORE
—More than Just Mentors
» Develops employees through training and
» Prepares tomorrow’s workforce with our
Planning a Successful Approach to the Impaired Employee
Connecting Mentoring, English Language Acquisition & Literacy to Workforce Development
involvement in education partnerships.
» Operates as a model business and pursues best practices.
» Maintains a five-star rating as one of the best chambers in Pennsylvania.
» Reflects our multicultural community at large.
©2016 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
For Advertising Opportunities: call 610.685.0914 Ext. 1 Read Commerce Quarterly Magazine Online at GreaterReadingChamber.org Brittany Fry, Graphic Designer
No Free Ride— Funding Transportation
22 Industry Trends
CHP Three Little Letters That Can Save You Big Bucks on Energy
Greater Reading Marketplace
Berks County Industrial Development Authority Update
Reading’s Custom Processing Services to Win Ben Franklin iXchange Innovation Award
IN EVERY ISSUE:
Letter From the President
26 Spring 2016
Mark Schlott & Maria Harvey
30 Entrepreneur’s Corner Keith Reidinger, Continental
Tide Defense Systems
41 Volunteer Spotlight
33 Grow Your Own VISION Mechanical, Inc. 42 Made in Berks
46 Member News
The Business of Confections: Local Chocolatiers Discuss their Sweet Spot!
49 Upcoming Events 50 Member Spotlight
Cover: On our cover for this issue are Paula Barrett, Partner at RKL, and Chet Mosteller, founder of Mosteller and Associates, who dedicate their talents as trusted advisors by serving as facilitators of peer groups as part of the Chamber’s Family Business Alliance. Photo Left: Ellen Albright, Greater Reading Chamber, joins Maria Harvey, Lorah’s Handmade Chocolates, and Mark Schlott, R.M. Palmer, for a tour through the Palmer facility located in Wyomissing, PA. Cover, center spread & select additional photos provided by: Dave Zerbe Studio of Photography
letter from the president Board of Directors 2016 CHAIRMAN: Bob Firely, Partner, Herbein & Company VICE CHAIRMAN Peter Rye, President, Brentwood Industries TREASURER Brian Levan, President, Levan Machine & Truck Equipment IMMEDIATE PAST CHAIR Scott L. Gruber, President & CEO, Tompkins Vist Bank LEGAL COUNSEL Tim Dietrich, Esq., Barley Snyder DIRECTORS Karen Baxter, Manager, External Affairs, Met-Ed First Energy Nick Bentley, President, American Polarizers Gregg Bogia, President, Bogia Engineering Harry Deitz, Associate Publisher & Editor, Reading Eagle Maryann Egolf, General Manager, FM Brown Stephen Horvat, Partner, Baker Tilly Tim Koenig, Assistant VP, EH&D Lisa Lavender, COO, Berks Fire Water Emmett Lien, President, Edge Insights Carl Marks, COO, DSS Don Mikes, Senior VP, Penske Toni Miller, CFO, Boscov’s Pete Molinaro, President, Adhesion Biomedical Craig Poole, GM, Doubletree Hotel
elcome Spring! The trees aren’t the only thing blooming in Berks. We at the Chamber have noticed a strong trend over the past year or so in individuals seeking personal growth through mentoring and peer groups.
On our cover for this issue are Paula Barrett, Partner at RKL, and Chet Mosteller, founder of Mosteller and Associates, who dedicate their talents as trusted advisors by serving as facilitators of peer groups as part of the Chamber’s Family Business Alliance. A fourth peer group will soon be started to accommodate the demand for business owners to work through the challenges of running a family business in a safe, confidential environment with peer advice complementing professional advice. Paula and Chet are standing in front of the Chamber’s Catalyst on Commerce, a shared co-workspace that provided early stage and small professional service businesses a place to work, meet clients and network with other similarly positioned businesses. Interestingly, our entrepreneurial feature for this issue highlights the story of Keith Reidinger, President of Continental Tide Defense Systems. Keith was one of our first members of the Catalyst’s shared co-workspace, which he happily—and very quickly!—outgrew. Continental Tide works with the federal government around the globe repairing, maintaining and even designing ships. They could be headquartered anywhere in the world, but they chose Berks County and got their start with help from the Chamber! With workforce issues top of head with just about every employer we talk to, it is no surprise the Chamber is putting more resources to building the talent pipeline, including outreach to local school districts to increase the frequency of connections between businesses and students (and teachers too!). Read about our second Young Leadership Conference and Career Prep programs in this issue’s mentoring article. Vision Mechanical also shares its homegrown Apprenticeship Program as a model for other employers looking to grow their own!
David Roche, President, Roche Electric Dave Roland, Regional President, BB&T Mark Schlott, Executive VP of Operations/COO, RM Palmer Stayce Schlouch Rowlands, Schlouch Incorporated Alan Shuman, President, Shuman Development Bruce Smith, President, Central Region, National Penn Bank Justin Spannuth, COO, Unique Pretzel Bakery Sara Stump, Director, Sales & Marketing , Suburban Testing Labs Rich Tinsman, VP—Reading Operations, Carpenter Technology Lauren Tobiassen, Area President, Central PA, Wells Fargo Scott Vaughn, President, The Standard Group
6 COMMERCE QUARTERLY SPRING 2016
Our economic development updates include perspectives on Commercial Property markets from NAI Keystone and progress on building industrial capacity from the Industrial Development Authority. As always, a hearty thanks goes out to our “centerfold” recruits! Mark Schlott and Maria Harvey were this month’s good sports—featuring one of our community’s strongest industries—snack food/food processing. Happy reading and I hope to see you at our signature event of the year, the Chamber’s Annual Dinner, on June 2 at the Santander Arena—amongst 1,000 of your closest friends! Onward and Upward,
Ellen T. Horan Ellen T. Horan, President, CEO
Greater Reading Chamber of Commerce & Industry
ite r o av F s ’ d… ber
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G N I R O
T N ME Ellen Horan, President/CEO— Greater Reading Chamber
upport…Sharing Wisdom…Coaching. of leadership skills, and appreciation of what All of these come to mind when con- each team member brings to the table in the sidering the concept of mentoring. You likely world of work. also conjure up a picture of someone older Targeted were those students who have mentoring someone younger, passing their the potential for success, but may still be “on years of experience down to the next generathe fence” as they explore their options for tion. While that is often the case, we are also post-secondary education or employment. finding that Chamber members discover just While this program is truly beneficial for as much value in peer to peer mentoring as any student, we created an opportunity for they do satisfaction in mentoring amongst students who needed the extra exposure students and young adults. to various career fields and opportunities; students who would especially benefit from Students Gain an Edge an adult mentor who helped to answer some through Mentoring of their questions; and ultimately—students In March, the second annual Chamberwho are dedicated to improving their skillset sponsored Young Leadership Conference but may need the extra encouragement. brought over 300 students to the Penn State Berks campus to interact with over Students kicked off the day with a key200 adult volunteers from across the career note from Jen Groover, empowerment and spectrum. The Conference provided 10th business expert, entrepreneur, author and and 11th grade students from across Berks County the opportunity to explore and learn speaker—also a Kutztown University grad. The about the different skills and perspectives companies require and value, the importance Continued on page 10 8 COMMERCE QUARTERLY SPRING 2016
Pictured in the photo are Eric Turman (standing), Reading High School principal, Christian (seated—left), Reading High School student, and Eric Savage (seated—right), Freedom Auto Group president. Brought together through the magic of mentorship, their story is as follows: Eric Turman, RHS principal, is an advocate and partner of the Chamber’s many workforce initiatives, one of which is the Young Leadership Conference. Last year, because of Mr. Turman’s support of the conference, Christian was able to attend the conference as a student participant, and the program opened his eyes to the many opportunities available to him in the world of work, also bestowing him the chance to receive mentorship from business professionals. Coincidentally, Eric Savage was Co-Chair of the Young Leadership Conference for 2015. One year later—Mr. Turman and Mr. Savage’s professional relationship has continued to blossom, and Christian is now gearing up for graduation with a clearer plan for his future. Behold, the power of mentorship! Photo by Dave Zerbe Studio of Photography 9
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morning featured interactive case studies, or as we call them—real world challenges, that exposed the students to problem solving, communication, collaboration and creativity
required in almost any occupation. Over lunch, students were paired with mentors from the business community for what, in
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many cases, was their first professional networking experience. Mentors discussed the students’ career paths and personal work/ educational experiences while also sharing their own personal story, providing advice and encouragement. Wilson Internship Program to be Model for County-wide Initiative The Chamber is partnering with Wilson School District to develop an internship program that we plan to utilize as a model for county-wide participation. The Wilson Honors Internship program will complement the Wilson High School Academies, which provide opportunities for students to explore a vast array of possible future careers through focused coursework. Students are able to investigate and innovate through coursework, research, and through university accredited activities
to inspire a future career pathway. Wilson currently offers five Academies: Advanced Placement Capstone Academy; Berks Career and Technology Center Academy; Global and Financial Leadership Academy; Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Academy; and Visual and Performing Arts Academy. The internships are the next phase to provide hands-on, real-world experience for Wilson High School students. Internships may be paid or unpaid and can be tailored to the unique needs and interests of our students. Special Focus on Reading High School Several years ago, Reading High School Principal Eric Turman approached the Chamber about assisting him in his efforts to make sure every student graduating Reading High left the castle on the hill with a plan. Together, the Chamber and Mr. Turman developed a two-tiered approach to connect the soon to be graduates with human resource
to peer learning across numerous channels —through our Women2Women initiative, the Family Business Alliance and our small business networks. Our longest standing peer groups are the Executive Roundtables which bring together professionals in the same field (i.e. Finance, CEO, Human Resource, In the spring, employers return to the high Manufacturing Operations, Environmental school for a career fair. Students have the Caitlin Degler, Customers Bank and Safety). Peers have much to learn from opportunity to speak directly with companies each other—in sharing information and best and hiring managers about what types of Millennial engagement is also a target of the practices, as well as successes and failures. career opportunities exist in the community, United Way of Berks County. Its Emerging and also about the education and preparation The Family Business Alliance was initiated required. Two- and four-year continuing Leaders United program fosters future community leadership in cultivating those under a few years ago to bring resources to the education providers are on hand to catch 45 to join together in supporting the United abundance of family businesses we have in those who have second thoughts about the Way, but more importantly in becoming the community. Unique circumstances color need to continue with a certification or degree. engaged in the community through volunteer decision making in a family business. What and social activities. A great opportunity for we found these business owners value most networking—with a purpose. is learning from other family businesses “Helping every student at Reading that have successfully maneuvered the land Senior High create opportunities mines and complications unique to family for their future is our goal.” businesses. Particularly popular have been “As part of ELU’s soft launch Eric Turman, Principal—Reading High School the Family Business Alliance Peer Groups. last fall, members volunteered Three cohorts actively meet regularly with for an exclusive Day of Caring the guidance of a professional facilitator who project with Olivet Boys & have been a trusted advisor to numerous Young Professionals Seek Girls Club, collaborated on a family businesses throughout their career. Advancement through Mentors clean-up at Mineral Springs Groups are comprised of non-competing The Greater Reading Young Professionals and Park and hosted a Christmas businesses with only one family member the Chamber have teamed up for the past permitted in each group. Our groups are three years to connect young professionals party for the residents of Berks facilitated by Chet Mosteller, Pat Langiotti with successful, seasoned professionals for Women in Crisis. A thank you and Paula Barrett. a group mentoring experience which also event in December brought the encourages peer-level relationships for netmembers together for a relaxed The Chamber’s Women2Women Initiative work building. Expert mentors have included evening of fun. Coming up in has been phenomenally successful, and recentJohn Weidenhammer, Steve Fritz, Joanne 2016, monthly activities have ly celebrated our 5th Anniversary. Cheryl Judge, Julia Klein, Steve Schumacher, Andi already been planned, ranging Sandberg may have invented the Lean-In Funk and Eric Savage. Each has met with from professional development concept, but it was Women2Women that groups of 10 to 15 young professionals over opportunities with local leadbrought it to Berks! Lean In Circles have several month sessions to talk about profesers, to volunteer activities such grown in Berks as women seek professional sional development for career, personal and as Go Fly a Kite/Healthy Kids development in an environment that is safe, leadership advancement. Day and The Big Cheese, where encouraging and individualized. Groups are kept small and populated with individuals volunteers will help package in non-competitive industries. Sessions are 200,000 meals for the Greater “I had a great experience leading facilitated to maximize everyone’s engagement Berks Food Bank. A night at the the mentoring group in 2015. and to provide a good balance of structure Fightin’ Phils, team building Our group had young leaders and individualized problem solving. and another thank you event managers in their fall coursework to talk about resume building and the importance of focusing on the skill sets you bring to the workplace—emphasizing the role of education in developing those skill sets.
from different industries, and we worked on issues important to all—business development, team building, personal management, and "getting things done." Lots of great discussion and learning together.” Julia H. Klein, Chairwoman and CEO, CH Briggs
“The fact that local business frontrunners were willing to donate their time to the future leaders of our area was an inspiration. I was appreciative of that fact and of the Chamber/ GRYP for coordinating.”
are also among the offerings.” Jessica Heil, Communications and Online Engagement Manager, United Way of Berks County
Peers Increase Confidence through Mentoring A mentor doesn’t need to be someone older. In fact, we are finding great interest in peer
“I have gained so much more from my Lean In Circle than just the materials we covered from the book and website. The circle
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focuses on the materials, but while we are learning about leadership skills, we are building friendships, getting support and coaching from the group, and receiving positive reinforcement and validation from the group. We have also found networking opportunities with each other which can help us further develop our businesses and organizations. I feel so much more comfortable as a leader in my firm than I was 10 months ago, and I credit that to my active participation and engagement with my Lean In Group." Laurie Peer, RKL
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Ladies gather at a De Mujer a Mujer event for a night of networking and fun.
Another groundbreaking result of Women2Women is De Mujer a Mujer —Estableciendo Conexiones (translation: Women to Women—Making Connections). De Mujer is all about networking with a purpose, providing Latina women (and open to ALL women) with a comfortable environment to build relationships with other successful professional women.
“De Mujer a Mujer is an excellent opportunity to meet accomplished Spanish/Latin women in our area with a high potential to impact our society by mentoring and inspiring others. It is a way to develop our community’s relationships and economic circles to support Berks County.” Roxana Volk, IT Consultant
Big Focus on Small Business One of the newest peer mentoring programs of the Chamber is our “Big Focus on Small Business” forum. Sessions are topically driven by what our small business members want to learn more about. Recent focus has been on marketing—and social media in particular, with upcoming programming on the sales process and customer service. SCORE counselors facilitate the sessions, drawing out from attendees best practices—and sometimes, pitfalls to avoid.
“Big Focus is great. There is something special when like-minded folks come together for the mutual benefit of one another around a specific topic. It is interesting because everyone brings their own pre-conceived notions around topics like “social media” and with the guidance of an expert we are able to brainstorm new ideas, best practices or sometimes get confirmation that one is on the right track. Most importantly I appreciate the camaraderie and networking opportunity with my fellow small business owners.” Bala Peterson, Cast & Crew
Building Relationships is the Key What we have learned while navigating these many mentoring programs is that people ultimately want to learn from others that have “been there, done that,” but sometimes— they also want to work through issues with peers that are “in the same boat,” finding peace in knowing that they are not alone! There is an art to finding the right balance in providing expertise and support. And, when the right balance of learning and coaching is met, relationships are formed, personal and professional growth is gained, and the community moves forward together—fostering a success both now and for the future leaders of our workforce. 13
BerksSchuylkill Chapter of SCORE
—More than Just Mentors Dave Verrill, BerksSchuylkill SCORE
CORE, “Counselors to America’s Small Business,” provides free and confidential mentoring services to clients wanting to start or grow a small business. The BerksSchuylkill Chapter of SCORE was formerly named simply the Reading Chapter, but recently acknowledged that with one-third of its membership residents in Schuylkill County, it was time to recognize the client and volunteer base that held a large part of the territory. The Reading Chapter was originally chartered in February 1965 and celebrated its 50th anniversary last year at The Highlands at Wyomissing. BerksSchuylkill Chapter is part of the 300 Chapter national non-profit organization with over 10,000 volunteers. SCORE is a “people helping people” organization, supported by the SBA (Small Business Association). Regionally, there are over 50 members in the BerksSchuylkill Chapter, with about 25% of the membership still in the workforce, either full time or part time. The Chapter has expertise in all business aspects and the mentoring approach is usually a team effort. The Chapter boasts over 1,500 mentoring sessions completed in the last three years, and has conducted over 200 workshops and seminars on subjects appropriate to starting or growing a small business with nearly 2,600 attendees. Many of the workshops are conducted at
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RACC. One of the essential, core elements of SCORE mentoring is the Business Plan—the roadmap to the planning process and a must, if funds are to be requested from any financial institution. SCORE mentors report great satisfaction knowing that they have helped someone start out on the right foot or grow their business through the mentoring process. Contacts for mentoring are made by requesting a session, either by telephone at 610-376-3497 in Reading or 570-205-3985 in Pottsville, or by visiting the SCORE website and requesting a session in your area. An assigned scheduler will then contact the client and set up a mentoring session, normally on a Monday or Thursday, and request that they enter information providing personal and background information for documentation. Most of the business mentoring in Berks County is done in the Greater Reading Chamber of Commerce & Industry’s downtown office. SCORE uses a “stop, look, and listen” methodology for mentoring. It’s referred to as SLATE: S-Stop and Suspend Judgement, L-Listen and Learn, A-Assess and Analyze, T-Test ideas and Teach with Tools, E-Expectation Setting and Encouraging the Dream.
The Chamber provides conference rooms for these sessions and an office space where the Chapter maintains a computer and a library of current documentation on how to start or grow a business. Sessions are scheduled for one-hour durations, but clients are encouraged to agree to a follow-up date. Mentoring is a very rewarding experience for both the mentor and the mentee. Dave Verrill, BerksSchuylkill SCORE, says, “It’s a tremendous feeling knowing that you have helped an entrepreneur live their dream.” While difficult to keep a tabulation on success stories for small businesses that have been helped by SCORE, the organization does try to maintain long-term relationships with past clients. SCORE National completes surveying utilizing PWC (Price Waterhouse Coopers) to determine the effectiveness of efforts. Last year PWC completed a survey for the BerksSchuylkill SCORE’s service territory and reported that the group was responsible for starting 125 new businesses and creating 870 jobs over the last three years. When PWC surveyed BerksSchuylkill SCORE’s client base during the previous year, the Chapter was ranked 10th in the country out of 300 chapters for client satisfaction. With a simple motto of “clients matter,” it seems their work is certainly making a difference in the community through focused mentorship. Very often, you will find the Reading Eagle’s Business Weekly edition featuring current and past SCORE clients. During the Reading Chapter’s 50-year anniversary celebration in 2015, 13 successful small businesses were recognized for having been mentored by SCORE volunteers. BerksSchuylkill SCORE volunteers looks forward to continuing their tradition of
serving clients, fostering entrepreneurship, and mentoring current and future business owners through their own experiences, backgrounds, and connections.
SCORE honorees included, seated from left, Erin Umphrey, Anita Skrocki, Cheryl Cresswell. Krista Essler, Elizabeth Sichinga and Jennifer Bednez. Standing, from left, Andrew Umphrey, Paulus Sutrisna, Lee Williams, Kim Williams, Nathan Shultz, Daphne Klahr, John Matz and Gary Brown. (Photo by Bill Uhrich, Reading Eagle)
Planning a Successful Approach to the
Margaret S. Atwell, MD Chief, Reading Hospital Occupational Health Services
n employee impaired by illegal or legal drugs, alcohol, or a medical condition is in a situation that even many Human Resources (HR) professionals dread. With good planning, the approach can be fair, consistent, and compassionate.
PLANNING Assemble a team that includes leadership, HR, operations, and a legal advisor. Learn more about the federal government’s DrugFree Workplace, and use it as a template. Define the scenarios in which an employee will be evaluated. Consider the company’s product and service lines, and safety-sensitive work.
Expanded panels include drugs of abuse such as benzodiazepines (like Xanax); painkillers (oxycodone, hydrocodone, fentanyl, tramadol); barbiturates; sleeping pills and others. The panel may change from time to time depending on which drugs are most prevalent at the company or in the community. Consider when drug testing and breath alcohol testing will be performed, such as post-offer/pre-employment, reasonable suspicion/cause, post injury/accident, and random.
In order to protect employees who are using prescription drugs for legitimate purposes, involve a Medical Review Officer (MRO). The MRO—an MD or DO—will verify positive Learn about what drug tests are available. results by seeking a “legitimate medical explaPossibilities include the DOT 7-panel urine nation” for the presence of a certain chemical in drug screen that tests for marijuana, cocaine, the urine. A common example is the employee PCP, amphetamine/methamphetamine, opi- who tests positive for amphetamines. Before ates, MDMA (Ecstasy) and 6-MAM (heroin). releasing the results, the MRO learns that
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the employee is on amphetamine for ADHD and has a current prescription to prove it. This test is resulted negative. Discuss the consequences of a positive urine drug or breath alcohol test. Suspension is a safe first step. Will the company allow the employee to return to work? What are the criteria? Design an escalating disciplinary plan and assemble resources for employees. A confidential Employee Assistance Plan (EAP) is a good choice for general counseling, initial evaluation and referral to treatment. A Substance Abuse Professional will determine when the employee is ready to return to work, and what process will be followed to ensure that the employee remains sober.
Step 2: POLICY Based upon decisions made during the planning stage, write a Drug and Alcohol policy and have it reviewed by legal counsel. The policy should spell out which drugs are prohibited and under what circumstances, as well as the consequences of positive tests and options for return to work.
Step 3: TRAINING & EDUCATION Having a policy is not enough. A team of trained management and supervisory personnel is critical to its success. Before rolling the policy out to everyone, make sure that supervisors have the confidence to recognize drug and alcohol impairment and the tact and courage to confront the impaired employee. Educate managers and supervisors on the signs of alcohol and drug use that they can see, hear, and smell. Provide that training annually. Develop written scripts to help supervisors hold a brief, respectful, calm confrontation. Plan for what to do and whom to call if the situation escalates. Try some role-playing to build confidence.
ADDITIONAL WISDOM Since the situation itself can be tense as well as embarrassing for the employee, there is no place for shouting, bullying, anger, accusations, or sarcasm. HR should be involved and present. Designate a private area and escort the employee there, or give the employee an appointment to appear for a meeting at a designated time. Be direct. Tell the employee calmly what has been observed and that drug or alcohol use is suspected. Don’t accuse, and don’t judge. Explain what happens next, including testing, suspension, and progressive discipline. If included in company policy, explain exclusion from the premises and relinquishment of ID and keys. Listen to the employee’s comments and carefully document both sides of the story. Make this exchange of information brief.
the testing process and then take the employee home. Tell him or her what to expect the next day and whom he or she should call with any questions.
Never let an impaired employee drive. Assign one or two calm, responsible persons to transport the employee to the drug and alcohol testing site—one to drive and one to keep an eye on the employee. In a union situation, a rep or steward might be a good choice for the latter, with the supervisor driving. Remain with the employee throughout
A WORD ABOUT MEDICAL IMPAIRMENT If D&A testing is negative and the employee continues to exhibit impaired behavior, consider placing the employee on short term disability and requiring his or her family physician to certify that the employee is fit
to work. Alternatively, set up a Fitness for Duty (FFD) evaluation with an occupational medicine clinic. All too often there is an underlying illness, either physical or mental, that causes the observed behavior. Treating the underlying disease can restore the employee to health and productivity.
Mentoring, English Language Acquisition & Literacy to Workforce Development Laurie A. Dawkins, Literacy Council of Reading-Berks
hen Evelina Morillo Monegro registered for English as a second language (ESL) classes at the Literacy Council of Reading-Berks in September 2015, little did she know that within a few short months she would be offered a supervisory position at the Crowne Plaza Reading.
Evelina was born in the Dominican Republic, studied at the Universidad Dominicana O & M, and received a Bachelor’s Degree in Tourism and Hotel Management. As a current Berks County resident, her strong desire to improve her English language skills and work in the hospitality industry drove her to enroll in the Literacy Council’s Workforce Development training program funded by the Dollar General Literacy Foundation.
Students participating in the Workforce Development Program attend class three days a week focusing on topics such as workplace English, understanding workplace culture, expanding reading skills, working in teams and health and safety on the job.
“We are very fortunate to have the support of many Berks County employers” Employer Partners Play a Crucial Role
Mentoring and job shadowing are critical components of the training; allowing students to apply what they are learning in the classroom immediately to the workplace. Employer Partners are given weekly feedback forms to guide and direct them in planning job shadowing and mentoring activities around classroom objectives. At the end of each week, the employer provides feedback regarding the individual participant to the Literacy Council. There is no obligation for Employer Partners to hire the individual, although there is always the chance that a good fit will be made! The Literacy Council is also able to provide liability insurance since each participant is not an employee of the participating organization. However, at the close of the training, employers are given the option to invite the individual to formally apply for employment.
Enjoying the Results
“Guestroom scores are at an all-time high since we have hired Evelina,” said Dan Withdrow, Crowne Plaza general manager. “We are really enjoying the results of the teamwork and partnership Evelina has formed with her mentor, Eric Gonzalez, Crown Plaza hotel manager,” he added. “I have many years of experience mentoring youth, but my experience mentoring Evelina has really drawn my attention to just how much can be accomplished through focused mentoring in the workplace,” said Eric. “I feel valued and respected,” said Evelina. “The job shadowing and mentoring portion of the training was significant for me. I wanted to be able to work in the hospitality industry and utilize my education and experience,” she added.
Left to Right: Eric Gonzalez, Crown Plaza hotel manager, Evelina Morillo Monegro, Crown Plaza housekeeping supervisor, Daniel Withdrow, Crown Plaza general manager.
“We are very fortunate to have the support of many Berks County employers,” said Ryan Breisch, Literacy Council executive director. “In just twelve short weeks, we have seen our students’ literacy, numeracy and English skills improve dramatically,” he added
Why does strong literacy, language and numeracy skills matter in the workplace?
The effects of low literacy cost the U.S. more than $225 billion each year in non-productivity in the workforce and loss of tax revenue due to unemployment.
Adults who cannot read and write need a foundation for higher learning
As workplaces become more complex and technology-based, illiteracy creates a gap between the workforce and the needs of businesses. Illiteracy, which limits the pool of qualified workers from which businesses can choose, is also connected to crime, health issues and high unemployment. The Literacy Council’s adult education programs focus on four positive outcomes—reading and writing proficiently; becoming a productive citizen; preparing for work; and achieving success on the job.
Our adult education services include: Corporate Training Program
In Berks County alone, 90,000 adults are functionally illiterate, meaning they read between a fourth and sixth grade reading level, costing our community in many ways. The key to being productive in life, work, and the community is the ability to communicate, collaborate, and contribute. Those struggling with low literacy and numeracy find that almost impossible to do.
Workers who cannot read and interpret basic signs and instructions compromise safety, slow production and cause errors that affect profits, customer satisfaction, and compliance with laws and regulatory requirements. Illiteracy also affects the ability of workers to communicate with each other and function as teams.
For employers seeking a customized workforce training program, we design quality ESL and basic skills training programs to meet the needs of your business and employees. We can provide needs assessments to inform what basic skills training would provide the greatest benefit to upgrade incumbent workers’ skills.
Trained volunteers and instructors provide one-on-one tutoring to develop basic skills and the language skills needed to speak, read, and write English, to get or retain a job, or enter post-secondary education.
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High School Equivalency Certification Classes
Morning and evening classes are provided for adults who want to pass a high school equivalency exam. In addition, we can assist Berks County employers in establishing their own GEDWorks™ program. The GEDWorks™ program includes everything an employee needs to successfully prepare for and pass the GED test.
English as a Second Language
EVERY VOTE COUNTS: PA PRIMARY ELECTION
TUESDAY, APRIL 26, 2016
Registering to vote online is a quick & easy process!
DO YOU NEED AN ABSENTEE BALLOT?
In order to vote by absentee ballot in Pennsylvania you must be travelling on Election Day or be physically unable to cast your vote at the polls. If either of these situations apply to you, you need to complete the Absentee Ballot Application. The last day to apply for an absentee ballot is April 19. The last day for County Board of Elections to receive absentee ballots is April 22. For more information about voting, visit the Berks County Election Services website.
English as a Second Language (ESL) classes are provided at various locations throughout Reading and Berks County. Adults can attend classes in the morning and evening to accommodate their work schedules. ESL classes help adults learn to speak, read and write English, and prepare them for post-secondary education, training and successful careers.
A New Program: “English Forward”
The English Forward program of the Literacy Council of Reading-Berks that began just over a year ago has trained more than 50 people to be effective ESL instructors and has helped create new ESL classes in the community.
“English Forward plays a vital role in improving workforce readiness in Berks County and in improving the quality of people’s lives to help them more easily adjust to living in an English-speaking community,” says Ryan A. Breisch, Literacy Council executive director.
English Forward is an 11-hour workshop held over two or four days. Subjects covered include lesson planning and teaching strategies for ESL instructors.
The next training is scheduled for June 7, 9, 14 and 16 as part of a two-week course offered Tuesday and Thursday evenings.
If you would like more information concerning any of the Literacy Council’s adult education services, please contact Ryan Bresich, Executive Director, at 610-670-9960 or email@example.com.
Three Little Letters
THAT CAN SAVE YOU BIG BUCKS ON ENERGY Mark Fennell, UGI Performance Solutions & Angela DeLong, UGI HVAC Enterprises
hen the team at Messiah College was looking to cut energy costs, they looked to natural gas as a less expensive alternative for heating the facilities on their 471-acre campus. Not only would natural gas save money, but it would reduce maintenance costs and eliminate a lot of the logistical issues associated with propane delivery. The problem: natural gas heating is seasonal, so the savings would not cover the upfront cost of installing pipelines into the campus.
That’s when the team at UGI Performance Solutions (UGIPS), a division of Wyomissingbased UGI HVAC Enterprises, Inc., proposed a solution that would not only make the project cost-effective, but could ultimately increase the savings exponentially, improve the campus’ energy efficiency and reliability, and reduce the college’s carbon footprint. Enter CHP.
What is CHP? Combined Heating and Power, or CHP, is a mechanical system whereby electricity is generated on-site, and the by-product of that generation—excess heat—is used for the heating and cooling needs of the facilities. In a conventional power generation plant, 40–60% of the energy used to generate electricity is wasted in the form of excess heat, 22 COMMERCE QUARTERLY SPRING 2016
which, in turn, needs to be discharged into the atmosphere. It’s quite literally energy “going up into thin air.” Facilities management teams are now learning that by bringing power generation on site, they can harvest the majority of that heat by-product in the form of steam or hot water, which is then used to heat or cool their buildings, for hot water, or even for industrial processes. Not only does this add up in energy cost savings, but in many cases an excess of electricity can be sold back into the power grid system. Imagine, the electric company paying you! Add in energy reliability and reduced emissions, and it’s an option that any large facility should at least consider.
CHP Projects in Pennsylvania Messiah College decided to move forward with the CHP project and expects to be fully operational by May of 2016. Not only did CHP make it economically feasible to bring natural gas to the campus, but UGI Performance Solutions estimates that the college will triple the savings originally estimated from just converting to natural gas. And Messiah College is not alone. According Here in Pennsylvania, Mohegan Sun Pocono Kathie Shafer, vice president of operations, to the Environmental Protection Agency’s has become one of the newest organizations explained that “at the end of one full year Combined Heat and Power Partnership, there to announce a CHP project in partnership of operating, we conservatively project an are now over 4,300 CHP sites in the United with UGIPS, scheduled to begin in March $800,000 savings. The six-and-a-half-year States, responsible for generating about 12% and be fully operational by the fall of 2016. pay back and long-term savings that this of the US electricity supply. CHP Partnership “We are thrilled to partner with Mohegan project provides impacts our ability to man- indicates that there is a huge growth potential, Sun Pocono on this project, which continues age the growing cost of higher education.” especially in the industrial industry, hospitality our expansion of installed CHP capacity to After working with UGI Energy Services to industry, universities and government sectors, over 2,600 kW in the past three years,” said lock in natural gas rates, expected savings and even in commercial office building spaces. Kevin Kelleher, Vice President of UGI HVAC. increased even further to over one million (CHP: A Clean Energy Solution, U.S. DOE dollars annually. and EPA, 2012) Continued on page 24 23
industry trends continued…
“The system will provide the facility with high-quality power while reducing operation costs and their environmental footprint.” The Pennsylvania State Employee Credit Union (PSECU), located in Harrisburg, PA, completed a large-scale CHP project in 2013. This system uses a micro turbine to generate power. The exhaust heat is then used to generate hot water for space heating in the winter and to power a 288-ton absorption chiller for cooling needs in the summer.
Is CHP Right for Your Organization? The EPA offers a list of items to consider when deciding if your organization is a good candidate for CHP. FF Are you concerned about the high cost of energy for your organization? FF Would you like to be able to budget your energy costs with more certainty and remove some volatility in expenses? FF Is energy-reliability extremely important to your operations?
24 COMMERCE QUARTERLY SPRING 2016
FF Are you interested in reducing your impact on the environment?
available. According to the CHP Partnership, the first 15 megawatts (MW) of CHP property qualifies for a 10% investment tax credit FF Are your facilities located in a deregu(ITC), and CHP qualifies for a five-year lated energy market? (Hint: If you are located in Pennsylvania, the answer to depreciation under the Modified Accelerated this one is “yes.” In fact, most of the Cost Recovery System (MACRS). The state of North-Eastern US would qualify.) Pennsylvania has been instrumental in helping to get some of these recent green initiatives According to Gary Fechter, General off the ground. UGIPS has been fortunate Manager of UGI Performance Solutions, to be able to assist its clients in receiving 5.4 “UGIPS models a client’s energy usage and million dollars in state grants, loans and utility then uses available prime-mover and ther- rebates to further CHP projects. mal utilization technologies to find the best economic fit for each site. We perform 100 If your organization is looking to save percent of the conceptual design to include money on energy costs, gain greater energy detailed technical and financial modeling. stability and decrease your impact on the By utilizing a design-build model and by environment, it may be time to look into CHP. self-performing the installation with our “This was one of those rare opportunities we mechanical (Berkshire Mechanical) and elec- had to look at a very sensible ROI type project trical (Denny’s Electric) divisions, UGI HVAC that makes sense for us both financially and Enterprises streamlines the installation. This environmentally,” said David Walker, VP of helps to keep project costs down and makes Finance and Planning at Messiah College. “Our board of trustees characterized it as an the IRR more attractive.” absolute no-brainer.” To make the projects even more attractive, there are tax benefits and grants that may be For more information about CHP: www.CHPassociation.org
26 COMMERCE QUARTERLY SPRING 2016
Executive VP of Operations/ COO—RM Palmer Company
Owner/Chocolatier—Lorah’s Handmade Chocolates, LLC
S p r i n g 2016
Ellen Albright, Greater Reading Chamber
The Business y Confections GreaterReadingChamber.org
business & community advocacy
Gail Landis, Greater Reading Chamber
ven with the passage of both state identify potential revenue sources that would sources being considered now include: an and federal transportation funding not jeopardize the transportation funding increase to the Personal Income Tax, and measures, no one expected our trans- promised by PA Act 89. Additionally, under also mandating municipalities that rely on portation infrastructure woes would disappear the FAST Act, this federal funding requires State Police coverage pay for it and capping or overnight. With so many moving parts, it matching state dollars to fund transporta- eliminating the portion of funds allocated to is vital to keep a pulse on the activity that tion projects including those in our Greater the PA State Police under the MLF. In addidrives our priority road projects forward Reading/Berks County Region. tion to being adequately funded, PennDOT (pun intended). must incorporate greater efficiencies in their transportation maintenance and construction, The Greater Reading Chamber of including, but not limited to, streamlined Commerce & Industry’s Transportation The funding provided by PA Act 89 is permit and regulatory processes. Committee brings together a diverse group threatened by PA Budget allocations, preof transportation advocates to help ensure senting a challenge to state taxpayers. The Both PennDOT and the State Police are Berks County’s transportation needs are state constitution allows the Motor License looking for consistent funding that might be prioritized and funded. Our efforts helped Fund (MLF) to be used solely for construction, difficult to find elsewhere in this uncertain to bring about the passage of PA Act 89 in reconstruction, maintenance and repair of, budget time. As the allocation to the State 2013, a $2.3 billion comprehensive, five-year and safety on, public highways and bridges. Police increases it will erode the discretionary transportation system funding plan to repair The MLF is made up of driver’s license and funds available for capital projects and if our regional transportation system and stem registration fees. The current PA Budget it continues to rise, it will impact maintethe tide of decades of deterioration. In addi- dilemma has left PennDOT and the State nance allocations as well. There is tion, the federal Fixing America’s Surface Police competing for revenue created by the a risk that many transportation Transportation (FAST) Act is a $305 billion, Motor License Fund. Nearly two-thirds of projects may not get completed five-year transportation bill that was passed the State Police budget is now coming from as scheduled at the current and at the end of 2015. FAST provides a trans- the MLF and it is anticipated that it will projected funding levels. portation funding model to break the cycle continue to increase. We need to determine of the stop-gap funding actions that impede the appropriate level of revenue that should be long-term strategic infrastructure planning. diverted to State Police, while also ensuring we have adequate funding to maintain and build While PA is making progToday, the Chamber’s Transportation a modern, safe and efficient transportation ress in reducing the number of Committee is focused on the challenges and and infrastructure system. structurally deficient bridges, project priorities created by the patchwork we are still second in the counUnder PA Act 89, the state did increase try in terms of raw number quilt of local, state and federal funding meathe gas tax and license and registration fees and percent of structurally sures. We are carefully monitoring current PA to pay for improvements. Alternative revenue deficient bridges. Budget negotiations as Harrisburg looks to
28 COMMERCE QUARTERLY SPRING 2016
The Chamber continues to work with the Berks County Planning Commission staff and PennDOT on critical bridge projects in the county including Buttonwood, Penn Street and the reconstruction of the 422 by-pass. Equally important is expanding capacity and safety on the 15-mile stretch of Route 222N between Reading and Lehigh Valley. This is our #1 priority road project in Berks County and we are monitoring the budget process to ensure it remains in the funding plans. There is intense competition for every dollar in the state and federal budgets. But, Pennsylvania is faced with crumbling, inadequate transportation infrastructure that, in many cases, is struggling to deal with existing volume, let alone cope with plans for future growth. Infrastructure investment is critical to drive commerce, economic prosperity and quality of life. The challenge remains in finding where the revenue will come from to ensure we have a modern, safe, and efficient multimodal transportation system.
PA Secretary of Transportation Leslie Richards will keynote Chamber Transportation Forum on April 7, 2016. Go to www.greaterreadingchamber.org/events for more information and to register. New Electronic Logging Devices (ELD Rule) could have a detrimental effect on capacity/rates that will impact manufacturers/distributors and overall economy that will be felt by all. Learn more at: www.fmsca.dot.gov/hours-service/elds A $5 County Vehicle Registration Fee may be considered to fund local Berks County road and bridge projects under the provisions of PA Act 89. www.ReadingBridges.net: A public-private partnership providing the latest bridge improvement project updates, detours as well as commuter, visitor and resident resources. www.Projects.PennDOT.gov: A great site to track current and planned projects. www.511pa.com: Provides statewide travel information.
Continental Tide Defense Systems, Inc. A Conversation with Keith
Ellen Albright, Greater Reading Chamber
he Greater Reading Chamber celebrates the role of entrepreneurs in our community each and every day. We work with these business owners to provide counsel, deliver solutions and expand their networks. But behind each of these businesses lies an untold story of perseverance, passion, and most importantly—the leadership responsible for creating vibrancy and innovation in our region. Continental Tide Defense Systems, Inc. began just a handful of years ago, and 30 COMMERCE QUARTERLY SPRING 2016
has not only found its niche, but is thriving in it—headquartered in downtown Reading.
excelling in the niche market of providing programmatic, engineering, and technical services to the US NAVY, Coast Guard, Military Continental Tide Defense Systems, Inc. Sealift Command, and other Department (Continental Tide) is a privately held, certified of Defense organizations. Intrigued? I sure small business with locations in San Diego, was…Check out the conversation below with CA; Norfolk, VA; and headquartered in… Keith Reidinger, one of the most energetic Reading, PA. If you were to head down to and passionate business owners I’ve spoken Canal Street (no—not to the pub, but you’re with to date! in the right parking lot!), you would find the corporate office for this booming business,
EA: Keith, tell us a little about your background. KR: I was born and raised in the West Chester area. I went to Drexel for my BA in Mechanical Engineering, and graduated in 2001. From there, I worked for a civilian Department of Defense engineer out of Philadelphia. Working in collaboration with the Naval Surface Warfare Center Philadelphia Division, this is the Navy’s mecca for engineers and technicians—with literally thousands of contractors that support the many moving parts of research, design, engineering, testing, logistics, and more for machinery and technology. Basically, if it’s anything that doesn’t fly or shoot, the experts are housed there. This could be anything from AC, to boilers, to propulsion, to ice cream makers. I stayed there for about seven years. EA: So, why leave the “mecca”? KR: I wanted upward mobility. I jumped to the private industry, supporting a DOD contractor. While only there for about four years, I experienced tremendous growth, and honed skills in this role by wearing many hats. Business and programmatic skills grew exponentially, but also technical skills. We were growing so fast, that there was no one to fill the gaps—I had to learn on the job as we went along; it was a great opportunity. EA: Having gained that invaluable experience and skillset, when did you decide to branch out on your own? KR: Four years ago, I decided it was time. I knew how to get money from A to B, and knew the opportunities for growth within this niche industry. I wanted to do things differently than what was being done in the current market, and felt I could do them better. We actually started off in the Chamber’s Catalyst (shared workspace offices) at the Center for Business Excellence. When we outgrew that space, we moved to Canal Street. It’s been a busy four years! EA: And, why Reading, PA for your headquarters? KR: So many reasons. I live in Exeter, and have a family there. The area is great—I love the trails and all of the outdoor stuff. You read about Reading in the 1920s as a lead in the industrial era—if you read the paper now, we’re listed as a top ten poorest city. I disagree with all of the negativity, and enjoy being an engineering firm in the heart of the city. Engineers are in need across the country, but I’m hoping to bring higher wages back into this area. Why take it somewhere else, when you can keep it at home? I’d like to effect some sort of change right here in my backyard. The change may be minor, but wages are great for engineers, and with the growth we’ve seen, I can bring jobs to the area as well. We’re also in the Keystone Innovation Zone, as well as Keystone Opportunity Zone—there are tremendous benefits for incorporating in PA.
Continued on page 32 31
entrepreneur’s corner continued…
EA: Well, we’re certainly happy to have you here! OK, let’s back up. What exactly does Continental Tide do? KR: We are an extremely niche business providing a full spectrum of engineering and trade services. We assist the federal government with anything from helping to design ships of the future, to modernizing and repairing current ships. There is such a vast culture on these ships—you will see tradesmen, engineers, software guys, and retired military working on current ships. We upgrade, replace, and fix parts. The work is very heavily industrial, and we provide an engineering aspect to solving problems. We work around the globe—in the past three years, we’ve done work in Guam, Japan, Philippines, Singapore, Bahrain, Dubai, Croatia, Italy, Philadelphia, NJ, Norfolk, TX, San Diego, Great Lakes, Seattle, Portland, Hawaii. EA: How many employees do you currently have at your three locations? KR: We are at 48 full time employees, with six part time employees. In Berks, we have 15 staff, but our largest number of employees is in Norfolk/Virginia Beach, with the remainder in San Diego. Norfolk and San Diego pretty much choose you in this industry—the amount of work there and local talent naturally complement one another. If you’re not in these locations, you’re not relevant. Locations validate you.
EA: How else do you stay relevant in such a niche market? KR: We compete with the big guys. We bid for a lot of work, and fortunately— we beat the big guys a lot. Companies that become too big are lethargic. Culture brings a lot of an edge for this company. Culture and quality are two things that clients tend to gravitate towards, and we excel at both. EA: But, there have to be challenges? What are they? KR: A huge challenge is dealing with the government. A lot of stuff is tagged to the budget. Not much is agreed upon in legislation, and there is a can-kicking paralysis because no one knows where they stand. At this point, you’d almost rather see a budget cut than sit in the “maybe.” Local talent has also been an issue. Except for Penn State Berks, the local schools don’t have evolving engineering programs. For the majority of the jobs available within my company, programs don’t even exist at local schools. We’ve shifted focus to mountain schools as opposed to Philly (and suburb) schools for recruiting. EA: That’s certainly unfortunate, but you’re working to change that! What other advice might you impart to local small business owners? KR: Before you do anything, write it down—what you need to get there, how you’re going to be different. If you can’t document a plan, no one will finance or back you. Write it down, let it sit there, then read it. Make a plan. KR: Don’t have a lot of debt. Minimize debt. If you’re riddled with debt, you can’t get out of that. Finance is a huge struggle—if you want to get capital without having to give away 50% of your business before it even starts, try to stay debt free. KR: Trust in yourself. And, find an outlet. (In case you’re wondering, Keith’s is running.) KR: Have a mentor in your circle. Not someone that works for you, although your peers are also a huge component. Find someone outside of your work circle. My uncle and wife have been a huge part of that. A lot of times, when things are really hard—you’re alone and have to have someone to talk you through those issues. EA: One final thought—what are your favorite parts about this adventure? KR: I love solving problems. Really rewarding is fixing things for service men and women. Often times we’ll come into a situation where it’s already “attempted to be fixed,” and then Continental Tide provides the solution and pulls through—such a great feeling. We also are able to work on cool equipment and gear—there’s a cool factor. For example, one time we had an issue with a 6,000 pound door on a ship in the dead of winter in Norfolk, VA—and we got them to work. The Lieutenant was high fiving our staff. When we see something broken and are able to conceptualize the repair—from fixing it, to testing it, and to see it work through the progression—the beginning to finish is the end game.
32 COMMERCE QUARTERLY SPRING 2016
grow your own
VISION Mechanical, Inc. Ellen Albright, Greater Reading Chamber
ision Mechanical, Inc. is one of the area’s leading mechanical contractors, providing services from 24-7 emergency capabilities, plumbing/pipefitting, storm water drainage systems, welding services, site utilities, underground utility camera and location services, and so much more. With projects spanning commercial, educational, and healthcare facilities, Visions provides a quality experience, with a commitment to success for its customers that is second to none.
At the forefront of this successful company, Barry H. Unger, President, carefully selects and vets his entire team, pulling together the best in the industry, thus creating long-lasting relationships both within the team, and with external customers. One way Barry has been able to cultivate such a committed team is through his top notch apprenticeship program. Says Barry, “I went through an apprenticeship program myself—and since then, the apprenticeship model has always been a priority of my own business. The program has been running as long as Vision has been in business (15 years). We are an approved PA apprenticeship program, and this model has proven to keep us competitive and has allowed us to grow in our business.” Barry continued, “It’s sort of like the military; always looking for a few good men. We’ve been able to truly get the cream of the crop. We’ve had 25–30 young adults go through the program in 15 years.” Each year, the program begins with approximately ten students. Out of those ten, only 2–3 apprentices are actually hired. At the start of the process, the job duties, responsibilities, and Vision’s mission are explained. Barry tells the applicants he wants only the best, most committed of the group. They are sent home with a job description,
and three handouts—an introduction to apprenticeship grads become journeymen for hand tools, an introduction to power tools, a year, which Mike excelled at. He went on and construction mathematics. In three through the ranks, and is now an estimator weeks, the students return and are tested on with the company. This type of grow your a culmination of the three, serving as their own model not only provides the necessary aptitude test. This has always narrowed the skills for employees to be successful, but also scope of who is really serious, and capable, a great deal of mentorship and opportunity to continue with the program. Students along the way. are referred from vocational schools, Berks “It is so important to keep young people Career & Technical Center (BCTC), and Reading Muhlenberg Career & Technical motivated and challenged —we need to give Center, as well as Thaddeus Stevens and other them every opportunity to succeed and grow. similar schools. Barry has found that students We must create the culture of accomplishment continually lack the necessary on-the-job and movement forward,” Barry echoed. “On training, which is what his apprenticeship jobs, we give all the guys a goal at the start of the project—i.e. how many man hours, program can provide. and we take a concept and speculate how The apprenticeship is a four-year program, long it will take to complete. We share the with school two nights a week for nine months goal with them, and this gives them control out of the year. Students are actively work- once they have the mile marker.” ing at the same time they are taking their This type of mentoring and leadership is an schooling, providing the necessary on-thejob training to balance out their academic outcome of Barry’s relationship with his father. requirements. Barry states, “If you’re in this Having worked with his dad, he learned a lot industry and not exercising this model, you of what to do, and what not to do, through should probably get out.” He is a strong watching his dad’s experiences. Barry reflected, “My father and my drive to believer in the program, always want to control my and his talent pool and very own destiny really inspired low turnover proves the me to start this business.” value of this model. Aside from building a great team and reputation, one of Barry’s favorite parts of the business is that each day is met with a new challenge. He feels there is nothing better than planning out a project from its inception, and watching it be built while having it exceed your expectations. We wish Barry, his team, and the hardworking apprentices all the Barry added a success story of one of his best as they continue to grow their own, and employees, Mike. Mike began in the appren- tackle new challenges with Barry’s enthusiasm ticeship program and successfully completed leading the charge! his four years in this model. From there,
In addition to students coming out of vocational and trade schools, another unique niche Barry has seen apply for his program are those returning from the service. In fact, he made the comment that the best talent he has right now are ex-Marines—focused, with a vast skillset, and ready to work.
in your community
Commercial Real Estate
in the Greater Reading Marketplace
Bryan Cole, SIOR Principal at NAI Keystone Commercial & Industrial, LLC
The Greater Reading suburban office market continues to see growth. This is clearly shown with the newly constructed projects in the Wyomissing / Spring Township area, along with large office vacancies that have recently been filled, including the expansion of Penn State Health St. Joseph, Rentokil, NAI Keystone, and various private medical practices. Vacancies that were exposed to the market for quite some time were recently leased and other vacancies continue to notice a steady source of activity.
reater Reading is considered a tertiary Most publications and local market reports real estate market and is outlined provided by Bryan Cole and NAI Keystone within most public sources as a sub- are broken into two sub-markets within market of the Lehigh Valley. Commercial real Greater Reading. They are Downtown and estate is typically broken into various primary Suburban Berks County. categories including Office, Industrial, and Retail. Most local, regional, and national The reason for isolating the two sub-markets reports separate the primary categories in is due to the fact that similar Class facilities in various sub-categories. This report will focus Downtown are different than the suburban on Office and Industrial. market and it allows us to provide a clearer picture as it relates to growth and rental rates.
34 COMMERCE QUARTERLY SPRING 2016
We expect to see steady growth within the suburban market for 2016. Although two large vacancies were recently announced including Carpenter Technology and Sunoco Logistics, we believe these spaces will be absorbed from local organizations looking to expand their footprints. In addition, landlord concessions will begin to be removed from offerings since the market has stabilized, which will ultimately lead to rental rates going up. The Greater Reading downtown office market has seen its ups and downs during the past few years and has continued to see its share of vacant space, however, the hope and expectation is this ongoing negative situation will soon turn with continued development and focus from city government.
Kyle McKechnie is one of NAI’s downtown focused brokers and he had this to say about the Downtown market. “The downtown Reading market has remained mostly flat through 2015 and into 2016 with a slight uptick in leasing rates and a small decrease in vacancy rates. The highly competitive office leasing market has continued to revolve around existing tenants in the Downtown Reading market. The majority of leases completed are relocations or expansions from one downtown building to another such as the recently announced move of the Berks Community Action Program from the Baer Building at 518 Washington Street to the Exide Building located at 645 Penn Street. Much speculation exists on the future impact of the opening of the new $63 million DoubleTree Hotel at 701 Penn Street, the city-owned Penn Square Development Project currently without an agreed upon direction, and the election of the new mayor. These factors will undoubtedly play a major role downtown in 2016 and moving forward.”
222/100. As it relates to manufacturing, ease of access to employees and site infrastructure including access to water, sewer and power are important.
Critical to New Development & Bringing Jobs to Greater Reading
One of the key elements that will be critical to all sectors of commercial real estate is the need to work with dedicated,
educated, and willing township officials and boards that are willing and able to assist in getting approvals expedited and incentives obtained. This will be an absolute critical element in all deals moving forward. Greater Reading is fortunate to have these types of organizations and people in place and continuing to strive by bringing the county and municipalities together.
Industrial Real Estate remains to be one of the hotter sectors in Greater Reading and the surrounding markets. Access to large quality spaces is in high demand and since there has been a lack of readily available product, it is sparking continued growth of new industrial development. There are industrial sites in various entitlement stages including Berks 61, a 200,000 sq ft. Proposed development, Berks 222, a 350,000 sq ft. Proposed development, and three projects in Perry Township along Rt. 61 including a new concept of 600,000 sq ft. The requirements seem to be focused on distribution and food grade manufacturing. This area of the market will continue to grow as the big box retail stores are becoming more dependent on e-commerce and next day delivery. There are various large big box sites either underway or already in negotiations in Greater Reading which include the Perry Golf Course, Midway Logistics Park, and a new third party logistics firm in Morgantown, PA. Companies are looking for ease of access to workforce along with highway infrastructure. The growth within this sector is expected to be concentrated along major highway arteries including I-78, I-81, Rt. 61, and parts of Rt. 35
in your community
Industrial Development Authority Update Notes From Thomas McKeon, AICP, CEcD—Executive Director, BCIDA
Berks Park 78 \\ Dermody Properties and Granite Real Estate Investment Trust completed their 750,000 SF industrial facility and have been marketing it for lease. Several prospects made tours of the building but there were no tenants that could be announced as of yet. \\ BCIDA continues to market Lot 7, 22 Martha Drive, through its broker Cushman and Wakefield. The parcel is 17.1 acres and is fully approved to accommodate a building up to 163,200 SF. The property is centrally located and ideally suited for manufacturing, warehouse/distribution or flex space.
BCIDA Airport Property The BCIDA continued its work to turn the 155 acres that it owns adjacent to the Reading Regional Airport into a shovel-ready industrial park in the heart of Berks County. During the past year it accomplished the following: Concept Plan – With the help of its development team, the BCIDA formulated another concept plan that increased the SF yield from 620,000 SF to 760,200 SF. The latest plan shows that buildings from 30,000 SF to 220,000 SF can be accommodated. Bern Township Kick-Off Meeting – In June, the Township, in a show of cooperation, appointed a development committee to meet with the BCIDA’s development team. A positive meeting was held in June. Large Scale Industrial Parks Ordinance – To facilitate the development of the property, the Township agreed that it will allow conditional use approval of large-scale industrial parks. This was approved in October and will permit the BCIDA to make a case for waivers and reductions of requirements that would have otherwise made the land undevelopable. The BCIDA is currently working on its conditional use application. Aviation Road/Private Street – The Township did not offer any objections to the use of Aviation Road as a private road to serve the industrial park. The BCIDA is preparing plans for the improvements. 36 COMMERCE QUARTERLY SPRING 2016
Sewage Service Agreement with RRAA – The BCIDA and RRAA confirmed in an agreement that 50,000 gallons per day has been reserved in the RRAA sewage treatment plant. It further allows that the BCIDA may count on the RRAA system to serve the future occupants of the industrial park. Electric – As the result of the payment of a $50,000 engineering and design fee, Met-Ed completed a direct load study to estimate the cost of serving the industrial park with 3 MW of power. BCIDA’s distribution and transmission costs based on the detailed design review were estimated to be $1,119,709. Additional Electric – The BCIDA, through outreach made by Penn State Berks, also was involved in exploratory discussions to examine options to supply the park with additional power by examining the idea of a micro grid at the site which would use technologies such as solar, Combined Heat and Power (CHP), and advanced energy storage. Core Borings of Aviation Road – With the supervision of Blue Rock Construction, Advantage Engineers conducted a detailed engineering study of the condition of Aviation Road. This included 20
test borings of 10 feet below the existing surface. They concluded that Aviation Road is suitable to support the future traffic to be generated by the industrial park. RACP Phase One – The BCIDA is engaged in a long process with the Office of Budget and their consultant concerning the use of an initial $500,000 RACP grant. The proposed project description is pending but is close to final approval. The use of the grant would be to construct a natural gas line from Aviation Road and Route 183 to the industrial park. Meetings with UGI and the State are planned to finalize the project. RACP Phase Two – The BCIDA submitted a business plan for a second RACP grant of $2.5M on May 18, 2015. The title is “Airport Industrial Park Infrastructure Improvements— Phase Two.” The funds would assist with the additional site and infrastructure work to make the land shovel-ready. Multi-modal Fund (MTF) Grant (DCED) – On July 31, 2015, the BCIDA applied for a $700,000 grant through DCED and the Commonwealth Financing Authority (CFA). The grant would potentially assist with the cost of improvements to the intersection of Aviation Road and Route 183 (Bernville Road). Multi-modal Fund Grant (PennDOT) – Since no decision was made by the CFA on the above MTF grant, the BCIDA applied for another MTF grant on December 17, 2015. It was for the same purpose and amount as the DCED MTF grant. Business in Our Sites (BOS) Loan – The BCIDA submitted an application for a BOS loan of $1,119,709 on July 31, 2015. If approved, it would be used to rebuild the Met-Ed 514-1 electric line which was previously described. EDA Funding – The potential to apply for an EDA Public Works Grant of $2M was kept open by the participation of the BCIDA in the Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) that covers Berks County. A revised project description has been provided to EDA. Marketing and Prospect Activity – The BCIDA team worked with several interested prospects and responded to one RFP. New banners and signs were also placed to advertise the property through the BCIDA’s broker, Cushman and Wakefield. Estimate of Economic Impact – As part of the grant application process, the BCIDA needed to make projections of the estimated economic impact of the project. They were as follows. The number of full-time permanent jobs at the industrial park is projected to be 500 to 600. Other estimated impacts include: $33.5M in projected assessed valuation from land and buildings; $1.25M per year in real estate taxes for the Township, County and School District; 220 indirect jobs created by support/supplier industries attracted by the project; 750 non-permanent direct (construction) jobs; and private capital investment for building construction, machinery and equipment of approximately $85M. 37
in your community
CUSTOM PROCESSING SERVICES to Win Ben Franklin iXchange Innovation Award
Laura Eppler, Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern PA
In 2000, the young company applied for seed funding from Ben Franklin. In addition, CPS also found great value in connections with other economic development organizations. Ben Franklin introduced CPS to the Greater Berks Development Fund, which helped the company access a number of federal and state investment programs to fund equipment and working capital needs. BFTP has also connected the company with Lehigh University for a logistics study to improve manufacturing efficiencies, with Penn State for failure mode effects analysis, and with Northampton Community College’s Emerging Technologies Applications Center for energy-related work.
Custom Processing’s new CGS-32 mill, outfitted with a polyurethane liner, is designed for milling abrasive materials. Photo Credit: Custom Processing Services
ustom Processing Services, Inc. (CPS) is a Reading-based entrepreneurial success story. The company has continued to grow and progress through thoughtful planning, skillful execution, tenacity, and bold optimism. It’s fitting that “Bold Optimist” Byron Reese, author of Infinite Progress, will be the keynote presenter at the 2016 Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania iXchange at which CPS will receive an Innovative Application of Technology award.
2016, at the Zoellner Arts Center, Lehigh University, Bethlehem. Last year, more than 500 technology entrepreneurs, business people, economic developers, venture capitalists, political leaders, educators, students, bankers, lawyers, and accountants from Ben Franklin’s 21-county service area attended.
Custom Processing Services reduces larger particles into ultra-fine and nano-sized particles for chemicals, polymers, pigments, pharmaceuticals, and other applications. CPS has earned successive Ben Franklin The iXchange is a premier business network- investments, first as an early-stage firm and ing opportunity in northeastern Pennsylvania. then as an established manufacturer, in work The event will be held beginning at 5:00 ranging from refining the business plan to p.m. on the evening of Tuesday, May 17, substantial process and energy improvements.
38 COMMERCE QUARTERLY SPRING 2016
Since its inception, CPS has achieved double-digit revenue growth each year. Increasing sales allowed the company to purchase additional facilities. CPS now has three manufacturing facilities in Greater Reading, the newest of which is for food-grade and pharmaceutical processing. A new warehouse at CPS’s East Greenville facility allows enhanced material handling and storage capabilities. The firm can now perform contract manufacturing on-site at clients’ plants. Starting with two founders, the company now employs 138 and plans to expand its workforce by 50 by the end of 2016. Custom Processing Services shares its success by supporting community organizations, participating in leadership initiatives, and mentoring other companies. CPS has been a long-term member of the Greater Reading Chamber of Commerce & Industry and was represented among the Chamber’s Top
Businesses of the Year. The company partnered with the Chamber in the Work of Leaders program, allowing them to create a vision, mission statement, and core values while empowering leaders to support CPS in future growth. CPS President Gregg Shemanski is active on the board of Berks Catholic High School and Immaculate Conception Academy and is an Alvernia University trustee. Vice President Jeff Klinger has served as coach, president, and in other positions for the Hatfield American Legion Baseball Association for the past 27 years. In 2015, HR Director Steph Shemanski, SHRM-CP, participated in The Young Leadership Conference at Penn State Berks to mentor high school students in career exploration. Fourteen CPS employees recently participated in a Habitat for Humanity build in Reading. iXchange keynote speaker Byron Reese will be impressed by CPS’s success, its innovative culture, and its corporate citizenship. An accomplished high-tech trailblazer, author, inventor, entrepreneur, and eternal optimist, Reese leaves audiences and readers with an infectious sense of possibility and wonder. Reese employs his profound understanding
of technical data to illuminate how the tech- Byron Reese, and the presentation of Ben nology of today can solve some of our most Franklin’s annual Innovation Awards. These daunting global challenges. awards recognize and salute outstanding individual and company accomplishment The iXchange will include two executive in business and technology. networking sessions, the keynote address by Continued on page 40
CPS’s new compressor, Gamma Prime, uses 19% less energy and runs more mills than the older model it replaced. Photo Credit: Custom Processing Services 39
in your community continued…
THE 2016 BEN FRANKLIN TECHNOLOGY PARTNERS OF NORTHEASTERN PENNSYLVANIA INNOVATION AWARDS WINNERS ARE: Entrepreneurial Achievement
The company that best exemplifies the quintessential entrepreneurial spirit: a combination of ingenuity, hard work, and innovation that has resulted in the creation of a successful and growing business venture.
s Rea.deeming Beauty, Inc., Bethlehem Rea Ann Silva, Founder and CEO, and Catherine Bailey, Chief Operating Officer
The company that has best demonstrated successful Ben Franklin business incubation. The business has been operated skillfully and confidently, meeting all challenges, from the development of the product concept, execution of the business and technical plan, successful start-up and operation, to graduation from the incubator.
s Crew Systems Corporation, Carbondale Technology Transfer Center, Carbondale Gary Piorkowski, President
Innovative Application of Technology
A company that strongly demonstrates a “break-the-mold” approach to integrating new or existing technology into its business.
s Custom Processing Services, Reading Gregory J. Shemanski, President and Jeffrey A. Klinger, Vice President
Innovative Application of Technology
A company that strongly demonstrates a “break-the-mold” approach to integrating new or existing technology into its business.
s Hydro Recovery, LP, Blossburg Chris Wunz, CEO
The company that best exemplifies achievement in the manufacturing arena, showing a proven track record of success and an unbending commitment to achieving and maintaining excellence in manufacturing.
s Vigon International, Inc., East Stroudsburg Stephen Somers, President
An individual whose strong vision, dedication, and commitment have helped the Ben Franklin Technology Partners accomplish its goals. This support demonstrates a sincere desire to see the region thrive.
s Douglas R. Petillo, Managing Partner Navigant Ventures, Glen Mills
Early registration to the Ben Franklin iXchange is $75 and is $95 after April 30. Register online or contact the Ben Franklin Technology Partners at iXchange@nep.benfranklin.org.
About the Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania
The Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania creates and retains highly paid, sustainable jobs by linking early-stage technology-based firms and established manufacturers with experts, universities, funding, and other resources to help them prosper through innovation. The Ben Franklin Technology Partners has returned $3.60 to the Pennsylvania treasury for every $1.00 invested in the program. It is part of an award-winning, four-center economic development initiative of the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development and is funded by the Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority. For more information, visit www.nep.benfranklin.org.
40 COMMERCE QUARTERLY SPRING 2016
SPOTLIGHT Compiled by: Ellen Albright, Greater Reading Chamber
Visions Federal Credit Union—Government Relations and Engagement Officer Role with the Chamber: Women2Women
Tom Newmaster WFM—Partner
Role with the Chamber: Family Business Alliance (FBA) Sponsor, Marketing Committee Member
Girls2Leaders Education Committee Co-Chair, Business & Community Advocacy Council
Trish Shermot gives the Chamber a run for its money when it comes to making connections! She is the definition of a mover and a shaker, and will go to great lengths to make connections for those within her network. (Which is a rather large web, I might add!) She is the Government Relations & Engagement Officer for Visions Federal Credit Union, which couldn’t be a better match for her skillset. With a vast history in the credit union industry, she is innovative, enthusiastic, and strategic— leading the charge behind countless product implementations and deliveries, while also serving as a speaker across the globe on the topics of strategic planning, marketing and administration, and much more! The Chamber is lucky enough to enjoy Trish’s leadership in two roles—the Co-Chair of the Women2Women Girls2Leaders Education Committee, and also as a member (and sponsor) of the Business and Community Advocacy Council. Most notably, Trish facilitated strategic planning sessions for the Girls2Leaders Education Committee to guide the direction for the committee’s future projects and goals. One of her many notable talents, Trish is a natural leader, and was able to engage the entire group in the planning process, cultivating valuable suggestions and feedback, while also keeping the committee focused and on track. Not only does Trish contribute to the credit union industry, but she is a tireless volunteer for the community, and an advocate for mentoring the next generation. For those lucky enough to work with Trish on a personal level (myself included), it is without question that Trish will become your biggest cheerleader, and inspire you to be the best version of yourself!
Tom Newmaster has shared his talent and creativity with the Chamber for many years while serving on the Chamber’s Marketing Committee. From signature Chamber events to comprehensive marketing plans, he has provided insight and inventive solutions as a volunteer…And we couldn’t be more thankful for his out-of-the-box approach! Most recently, Tom’s firm, William Fox Munroe (WFM), sponsored the Chamber’s Family Business Alliance (FBA) initiative. As a sponsor, not only have the designers helped with marketing materials, but WFM also contributed to the website, as well as the overall branding and logo design for the program. The Chamber is so grateful for this partnership, and knows that part of the program’s success is a direct result of WFM’s professionalism and attention to detail through the branding process. WFM creates packaging, brand development, prototypes, and online consumer insights. At WFM, the team knows how to capture the consumer’s attention at the most critical moment—when they’re ready to buy. And, for a taste of what they have created, Tom shared this fun fact—“WFM designed most of the Reese’s Pieces packaging and promotional materials for E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial.” We applaud Tom for the triumphs he has brought to WFM over the past 15 years as principal and co-owner of the firm, and know that having him on our marketing committee can only mean more success in the future for us as well!
made in berks
y Local Chocolatiers Discuss their Sweet Spot! Compiled by: Ellen Albright, Greater Reading Chamber
ecently, I had the pleasure of interviewing both Mark Schlott, Executive VP of Operations/COO—RM Palmer Company, and Maria Harvey, Owner/Chocolatier—Lorah’s Handmade Chocolates, LLC. See the interviews here, and learn all about the many ways chocolate is being produced right here in our backyard!
EA: Maria, talk to us about your product, and tell us a brief history of Lorah’s Handmade Chocolates. MH: In 2016, I will celebrate my 8th year as owner, but Lorah’s Chocolates has been in business since 1970, when my great aunt, Ruth Lorah, started the business after learning the techniques of chocolate confection-making from her aunt and uncle. All of the chocolates are made from scratch, handcreamed and hand-rolled, then each piece is hand-coated, which gives our chocolates their unique taste and mouth feel.
Owner/Chocolatier—Lorah's Handmade Chocolates, LLC
EA: I’ve sampled the chocolates—they are certainly a treat! Share with us what someone might be surprised to know about your business or product. MH: We have a chili-infused chocolate line that pairs well with wines and beer. We work with wineries and breweries, and have been very successful in these partnerships.
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EA: What are the most significant challenges you face, especially as a staff of one? MH: Keeping the handmade, high quality product that our customers have become accustomed to, while growing the business and looking for new venues. EA: Well, it looks like you continue to enjoy growth in Berks and beyond! What excites you most about the company’s future? MH: The possibility of working with coffee houses, more wineries, breweries, and distilleries as we add more unique flavors. I recently created Cherry Kirjuuls (brandy infused cherry cordials), and am looking at the possibility of adding more “grown up” chocolates. EA: As you’ve grown, what resources in Berks County have helped you to be successful? MH: Berks County has a plethora of networking venues. These various groups have enabled us to grow. I have met people who are willing to share their time, advice and encouragement to help others succeed in business. EA: What does your client base look like right now? MH: At this point the majority of our customer base is located in Berks and Lancaster Counties. Primarily the older generations. Berks County has several retirement communities which have become a thriving part of our business.
Mark Schlott (right)
Executive VP of Operations/COO—RM Palmer Company
EA: Mark—many of our readers are likely familiar with RM Palmer product. Start off by telling us something we might not know! MS: We are ranked in the top five in the nation for our industry at Easter.
EA: How would you describe the economic trend(s) in your industry right now?
EA: Wow—that’s incredible, right here in Berks! Now, let’s back up and get a bit of history on RM Palmer.
MH: I took over the business as the economy was still relatively poor. Chocolates are a “feel good” business. People might give up the big vacation or the fancy dinner out, but they still want something to make them or others feel good.
MS: We have been crafting chocolate seasonal novelties since 1948. We are one of America’s largest and most innovative confectioners. Through the years, Palmer has captured the nostalgia of the Continued on page 45 43
made in berks continued…
holidays with hand-decorated chocolate novelties displayed in their signature fullcolor, window box packaging. These beloved novelties have transformed Easter baskets, Christmas stockings and Valentine’s cards into fun memories using Palmer’s whimsical “personalities” capturing the imaginations of children (and grown-ups) everywhere. EA: I can attest to that—I still receive a Palmer Bunny every Easter! Talk to us about your customer base. MS: We sell and manufacture for all the major retail chains. Mass Merchant (Walmart, Target), drug class of trade (Rite Aid, CVS, Walgreens), value channel (Dollar Tree, Dollar General, Family Dollar) and grocery (Ahold, Kroger). We also contract manufacture for private label and well-known brands. EA: Sounds like you’re certainly keeping busy! How many employees do you have, and is the Berks County facility your only facility? MS: We have 550 full time employees—350 seasonal employees. Our company was founded and continues to be located in Berks County. Our Berks County workforce has always been the difference between our success and the competition we face around the world. EA: Speaking of workforce, do you partner with local schools to educate students on careers in food manufacturing to ensure a healthy pipeline of talent? MS: Absolutely. We support many programs through the Chamber and its Workforce Pipeline and Career Awareness Initiatives, including Reading High School programs, the Chamber’s Young Leadership Conference series, CHOICES career and decision-making program, a plethora of career fairs, etc. Berks County’s economic viability and long term prosperity depends upon a well-educated workforce.
EA: What do you feel sets you apart from your competition? MS: Without a doubt our workforce. Our technical competencies, innovation, and customer service is second to none in our industry. EA: Sounds like your focus on preparing the workforce is paying off for your company! So, what are some of the challenges you face? MS: This could get rather lengthy…however, two thoughts jump to the forefront. Domestically, the addition of costly and burdensome regulations and policies that continue to hamper growth and the overall business climate, which leads to fierce competition from foreign countries. Also, the traditional retail business model of purchasing food and supplies at brick and mortar stores is changing due to the rampant growth of e-commerce. Manufacturers need to adapt to changing consumer habits for continual growth. EA: Well, Mark—I know you are an advocate for your industry in DC and beyond. Keep up the good work. Switching gears, what excites you most about your company’s future? MS: We are blessed that we get to “make candy fun” each and every day. The holidays are always a special time with family and friends and we are proud that Palmer is part of that tradition. The sky is the limit for our company. We have a dedicated workforce, industry leading technical competencies, and new product innovation that should ensure growth now and into the future…
member news: newsmakers December 1 – March 1 Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery has announced that its 2016 ‘Snack Producer of the Year’ award will go to Unique Pretzel Bakery, Reading, PA. The pretzel manufacturer is best known for its Original ‘Splits’ pretzels. Unique Pretzel Bakery has recently expanded its production facility, adding new equipment to meet increased national demand. The company has seen strong sales of late, a unique feat in a category that has otherwise remained rather flat. The American Red Cross Tri-County Chapter and the Crowne Plaza Reading are proud to announce a NEW partnership designed to aid those displaced by disasters. The partnership comprises a number of important components, including 100 Rooms for Fiscal Year 2016, and up to a three days’ stay with breakfast and dinner included for disaster survivors. ‘This new partnership with the Crowne Plaza will ensure those affected by home fires in Berks County will have a safe place to regroup and recover,’ said Adrian Grieve, Executive
Director of the American Red Cross Tri-County Chapter. Demonstrating the highest standards of care, two local hospitals were named to The Leapfrog Group’s annual list of Top Hospitals. Geisinger Medical Center (Danville) and Reading Hospital received this coveted award for 2015. Widely acknowledged as one of the most prestigious distinctions any hospital can achieve in the United States, the award recognizes hospitals who are committed to Leapfrog’s vision of providing the safest, highest quality health care for consumers and purchasers alike.
TPD is pleased to announce that it has made the “Best Places to Work for in PA” list for their 10th
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year, coming in at #21 this year! Elyse Royer, Marketing Manager, accepted TPD’s award at the Central Penn Business Journal’s Annual Awards Dinner on December 3rd. This school year, Council Rock School District rolled out a new fleet of 150 propane-powered buses to transport 14,000 students twice a day. The board approved the conversion from diesel because propane buses are cleaner, quieter and cost far less to operate than diesel buses. Rhoads Energy, a full-service energy company based in Lancaster, installed propane fueling stations at the Bucks County school district’s two bus depots and provides the propane that fuels the program’s 150-vehicle fleet. Other partners in the fleet conversion include Rousch CleanTech, the propane engine experts, and Blue Bird, the school bus manufacturer. Tompkins VIST Bank achieved five stars, the highest rating possible, by Bauer Financial, an independent
ratings firm. The 2016 ranking is up from the four-star rating the bank received last year. The rating is based on overall financial picture, performance, strength and stability. Banks in the five-star rating category are called ‘Superior’ by Bauer Financial and are considered to be operating well above regulatory capital requirements. The Pennsylvania Department of Education has designated Reading High School as a Distinguished Title I School for its advancement in closing the achievement gap. Reading High is one of 96 schools in the state to receive this honor. The honor comes after Reading High School was one of 17 schools named as a Reward High Progress School during the 2014-15 school year. That designation is given to the top 5 percent of all Title I schools in Pennsylvania. The designation is based on the high school continually improving its PSSA scores (Math and Reading) and Keystone Exam scores (Algebra I, Biology and Literature) among all
students, as well as students included in historically underperforming groups during the past three years. Herbein Wealth Management is pleased to announce a brand new offering, Thrive, designed to help young professionals save and build long-term wealth. Thrive blends cutting-edge technology with personalized investment advice. Created for young professionals under the age of 40, Thrive aims to provide a customized, low-cost investing solution for individuals looking to build long-term wealth. Canon Solutions America recently recognized Fraser Advanced Information Systems, Inc. with its 2015 Advanced Partner Dealer Award. Canon awards this prestigious honor to recognize the best of its dealer community for providing high quality products with equally high quality service and business practices. Canon recognizes less than 10% of Canon Authorized Dealers with this recognition.
ETI (Eastern Technologies Inc.) is proud to announce their 30th anniversary! Founded in 1986 and located in Morgantown, Pennsylvania, ETI is a water treatment company that supports a growing network of regional water treatment professionals with best available and environmentally acceptable technology combined with dedicated customer service. ETI offers a complete line of specialty chemical treatments and provides expert field and problem-solving support, laboratory services, and training. ETI helps its customers to be successful by providing expertise combined with high quality products, exceptional field application and technical support. ENX Magazine (www.enxmag.com) has announced that Edwards Business Systems (EBS), an office technology, solutions and services provider, has been named one of the country’s Elite Dealers for 2015. The award is presented annually by the
online publication to the top office equipment dealers in the US. Award winning design firm WFM Design proudly added three more Graphic Design USA American Package Design Awards to its list of accolades. The agency has a history of creating high-profile, praise-worthy packaging, so this announcement came as no surprise to WFM’s team of exceptionally talented designers who re-imagine brands and reinvent packaging every day. The winning submissions included work for three different clients: Fresh Solutions Network, LLC, Wolfgang Candy Company and Pine Valley Foods. The former Ronco’s Pharmacy building in West Lawn is back in business... but this time it’s the new home of Reading Dermatology Associates (RDA) dba Reading Dermatology’s Center for Healthy Skin, JFC Staffing, Grauer’s Paint & Decorating, and Iron Roots Hair Salon. Standing vacant since Ronco’s Pharmacy closed over a year ago, the 13,000 sq. ft. building at 3317 Penn Avenue was purchased by Hendrix Real Estate, LLC in October 2015, and is now a vibrant business center named West Lawn Plaza, occupied by four businesses, three of which are brand new to Berks County.
Reading Health System Nurse Champions, in partnership with the Greater Berks Food Bank, coordinated the 2016 Pound Per Person Food Challenge. All employees of Reading Health System were challenged to donate one pound of food. The goal was to collect more than 7,000 pounds for the Greater Berks Food Bank and the more than 60,000 people it serves annually. More than 50 departments throughout the system participated in the collection on Monday, February 29.
Yolanda Vitulli, founder of Tender Care Human Services, recently announced the Ribbon-Cutting and Grand Opening for Tender Care Human Services–Pennsylvania. With more than 100 employees currently in their New York outfit, Tender Care will leverage decades of experience, skills and best practices to grow its Pennsylvania operations.
Liquid Interactive, located in Allentown, PA, held a food drive benefitting Second Harvest Food of Lehigh Valley & Northeast Pennsylvania throughout the month of February. Employees were split into two teams and challenged to collect more nonperishable foods and personal care items, by weight, than their opposing team to help make an impact by spreading some love in the Lehigh Valley. Together, the two teams collected over 900 pounds of food and $300 in cash donations. Liquid’s efforts will allow Second Harvest to provide approximately 2,800 meals to area residents in need of a helping hand. Gallen Insurance was awarded Cincinnati Insurance Company’s top honor, the 2015 President’s Club award, for excelling in customer retention and profitability, and at the same time, being one of the Cincinnati Insurance premier agency leaders in business insurance, personal auto and home products. The Cincinnati Insurance Company, and the Cincinnati Financial Corporation, are recognized by Forbes as one of America’s Most Trustworthy Companies.
member news: december 2015 – march 2016 NEW MEMBERS
BERKS 360 TOUR DESIGNS 23 Sawgrass Dr. Reading, PA 19606 610.334.9447 Berks360.com Photographers Contact: Ann Marie Lander
DLR COSMETICS, LLC 1702 Dauphin Ave. Wyomissing, PA 19610 610.207.7261 dlrcosmetics.com Beauty & Skincare Products Contact: Deanna Reuben
BUDDY’S PET RESORT 186 Rock Hollow Rd. Birdsboro, PA 19508 610.404.1842 www.buddyspetresort.com Pet Boarding & Grooming Contact: Barbara Smith
FIRST FINANCIAL GROUP 1290 Broadcasting Rd. Ste. 122 Wyomissing, PA 19610 484.509.0064 www.jefferybingham.net Financial Services Contact: Jeffrey Bingham
CALLOWHILL BOUTIQUE 139 N 5th St. Reading, PA 19601 610.780.5784 Gifts—Retail Contact: Lyra Talarico
FOREVER KIDS AT HEART, LLC 16 Telford Ave. West Lawn, PA 19609 484.650.3474 www.foreverkidsatheart.com Child Care Contact: Amy Fick
RMU EVENTS & PROMOTIONS 7 N Main St. Topton, PA 19562 610.295.2030 Trade Shows & Exhibit Producers Contact: Richard Umberger
CORPORATE FACILITIES INC 1042 Hamilton St. Allentown, PA 18101 610.434.7236 cfi-knoll.com Office Furniture & Equipment Contact: Amy Reinhold
GETPHOUND 500 Fayette St. Ste. 202 Conshohocken, PA 19428 610.825.4363 www.getphound.com Web & App Design Contact: Richard Molinaro
RON BERMAN, CONSULTANT 29 Devonshire Dr. Wyomissing PA 19610 610.781.8517 Electronic Components– Manufacturers Contact: Ron Berman
GRANT SIGNS 130 Quarry Rd. Birdsboro, PA 19508 610.582.3902 Advertising–Outdoor Contact: Susan Grant
CROSSKEYS INSURANCE (HAMBURG) 303 State St. Hamburg, PA 19526 610.562.0677 www.crosskeysins.com Insurance Contact: Michele Yeity
ILLUMINATE STRATEGIES, LLC PO Box 194 Fleetwood, PA 19522 610.914.9292 www.illuminatestrategies.com Consultants–Executive Services Contact: Nina Bohn
WIRELESS SQUAD 600 E Penn Ave. Ste. 2 Wernersville, PA 19565 757.353.5396 www.wirelesssquad.net Wireless Communications Contact: Dustin Curtiss
CROSSKEYS INSURANCE (READING) 5035 Pottsville Pk. Reading, PA 19605 610.916.6190 www.crosskeysins.com Insurance Contact: Michele Yeity
JFC STAFFING COMPANIES 1520 Market St. Camp Hill, PA 17011 717.761.8095 Jfcstaffing.com Employment Agencies Contact: Heather Hollinger
CUSTOM BENEFIT PLANS 41 Elk Ct. Reading, PA 19606 610.392.0782 www.custombenefitplans.com Insurance Contact: James Algeo
JOHN BURNS, WADDELL & REED 2 Meridian Blvd. Wyomissing, PA 19610 610.781.9745 Financial Services Contact: John Burns
COMCAST BUSINESS 400 Riverfront Dr. Reading, PA 19602 717.847.0673 Telecommunications Management & Consulting Contact: Bruce Smith
DELIVERY DUDES 505 Penn St. 4th Floor Reading, PA 19602 484.430.3833 Deliverydudes.com Restaurant Delivery Service Contact: Zach Kern
MOONSTONE ENVIRONMENTAL, LLC 1150 Glenlivet Dr. Ste. C-31 Allentown, PA 18106 484.664.7171 www.moonstoneenviro.com Consultants–Environmental Contact: Betsy Schamberger
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NITPICKY IN BERKS, LLC 4935 8th Ave. Apt 2 Temple, PA 19560 610.621.7143 christine-115382.logogarden.com Personal Services Contact: Christine Bryan QUANTUM SOFTWARE SOLUTIONS, INC. 4228 St Lawrence Ave. Ste. D Reading, PA 19606 610.373.4719 www.quantumss.com Computer Software Contact: Patricia Mauger
WYOMISSING HEALTH & REHABILITATION CENTER 1000 E. Wyomissing Blvd. Reading, PA 19611 610.406.3412 Health Care Contact: Angela Hensley
1 YEAR Bricks4Kidz Built to Last LLC Elite Pressure Washing, LLC Grant Signs Kim R Lewis Graphic Design MC Spa Massage (Hamburg) Mission BBQ Ricoh, USA Ron Berman, Consultant Urban Charm
5 YEARs DayStar Natural, LLC
10 YEARs Appeeling Fruit, Inc. Barrer & White Orthodontists Exeter Printing HSA Mechanical StonePointe Center
15 YEARs Topton American Legion Community Ambulance Service
upcoming events APR 18
Lead Worker Cert. Program The Chamber’s Center for Business Excellence 49 Commerce Dr. Spring Ridge, PA 19610
6:00 pm –8:00 pm (Evening Sessions)
Power Networking Lunch Reading Fightin Phils FirstEnergy Stadium 1900 Centre Ave. Reading, PA 19601
4:30 pm –6:30 pm
Crowne Plaza Reading 1741 Papermill Rd. Reading, PA 19610
7:30 am –5:00 pm
Berks FBA Spring Symposium: Featuring Adam Sheetz
DoubleTree by Hilton Reading 701 Penn St. Reading, PA 19601
Supervisor Training (Module III) The Chamber’s Center for Business Excellence 49 Commerce Dr. Wyomissing, PA 19610 8:30 am –11:30 am
Business at Breakfast Stokesay Castle, Reading, PA 141 Stokesay Castle Ln. Reading, PA 19606 7:45 am –9:00 am
Women2Women Golf Clinic Manor Golf Club 153 Bran Rd. Sinking Spring, PA 6:00 pm –7:20 pm
Annual Dinner: Featuring Ann Compton Santander Arena 700 Penn St. Reading, PA 19601 5:00 pm –8:30 pm
Berks FBA Educating the Family Workshop: “Wearing Many Hats: Difference Between Shareholder/Owner Role and the Day-to-Day Managerial Role”
Growth2Go: Business Etiquette & First Impressions The Highlands at Wyomissing 2000 Cambridge Ave. Wyomissing, PA 19610
7:30 am –9:30 am
8:00 am –10:00 am
5:00 pm –8:00 pm
Business at Breakfast: Health & Wellness Forum
Baker Tilly 2609 Keiser Blvd. Wyomissing, PA 19610
The Chamber’s Center for Business Excellence 49 Commerce Dr. Wyomissing, PA 19610
DoubleTree by Hilton Reading Maple Ballroom 701 Penn St. Reading, PA 19602
Shearer Technical Computer Consultants 727 Penn Ave. West Reading, PA 19611
Big Focus on Small Business
8:00 am –9:00 am
Microsoft Advanced Excel Spring 2016 Afternoon
4:00 pm –6:00 pm (Evening Sessions)
Baker Tilly 2609 Keiser Blvd. Wyomissing, PA 19610 8:00 am –9:00 am
Crowne Plaza Reading 1741 Papermill Rd. Reading, PA 19610
8:00 am –10:00 am (Morning Sessions)
Big Focus on Small Business
W2W De Mujer a Mujer
5:30 pm –7:30 pm
11:30 am –1:00 pm
W2W Spring Renewal Expo
Path2Personal Development: Do’s and Don’t of Networking, Part II The Chamber’s Center for Business Excellence 49 Commerce Dr. Wyomissing, PA 19610
9:30 am –11:30 am (Morning Sessions)
11:30 am –1:00 pm
Power Networking Lunch Big Vision Foundation, Inc. Berks County YRF 1098 County Welfare Rd. Leesport, PA 19533
Please note: outdoor venue; please dress based on weather!
11:30 am –1:00 pm
Member Spotlight Member Spotlight is the Greater Reading Chamber’s forum for telling our members’ stories in their own words—sharing their successes, their challenges, and what it’s really like to be a small business owner in Berks County and beyond!
It’s no surprise their company slogan is “people making you look good” at National & Yorgey’s Cleaners /National Uniform & Linen Rental.
PC Ninja is saving the day one computer at a time in its Berks-based office referred to as the “Ninja Den.”
From weeds to critters, Green Giant Lawn Care & Pest Control is here to keep your home pest-free!
Pure Wild Tea has been passed down through six generations of PA Dutch heritage—keeping it classic and refreshing!
From concept to delivery, Cast & Crew has a creative way to set you apart!
Sick of the same old delivery options? Dial Delivery Dudes for your fave restaurants!
From pets to weddings, Dave Zerbe and his family have been snapping great shots for over 38 years!
ID Life Nutrition believes you’re unique, and your health and wellness plan should be too!
Meet father and son duo, Dave & Chris Roche, of Dave Roche Electric—there is certainly a dynamic spark between them!
Seniors are getting a whole new alternative to nursing homes and personal care services—right here in Reading at SeniorLIFE!
A to Z Vacuum & Fans family biz has been keeping households tidy for more than 49 years!
Tracy Schott of Schott Productions doesn’t miss a detail in telling your unique story.
Commuter Services of PA is providing commuter relief and alternative options to those on the go!
VA Productions has been producing high-quality video production for over 20 years in Berks and around the globe.
There’s more than just cookies on the menu with the Girl Scouts of Eastern PA as they gear up for summer camp and classes!
50 COMMERCE QUARTERLY SPRING 2016