Learn how BLiNCK Studios’ trip to the farm turned into a new video offering Plus: The Business Excellence Award Winners
14 WINTER 2023 Quarterly
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As the business voice of Greater Reading, Greater Reading Chamber Alliance leads the business community, as the economic driver, to a vibrant community.
Your Greater Reading Chamber Alliance…
» 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 entrepreneurs strive.
» Develops employees through training and educational programs/alliances.
» Prepares tomorrow’s workforce with our 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.
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• 610.376.6766 ©2023
On the cover: Brett Bottesch, BLiNCK Studios (See page 8) Photo by Lauren Adele Little Quarterly COMMERCE CONTENTS FEATURES: 8 Bovine Babes 20 Major Milestone: City of Reading Recognizes 275th with Yearlong Celebration 26 Bit by Bit: Weidenhammer stands the Test of Time, Evolving Tech 28 100 Years Strong: Boyer’s Floor Covering, Inc. Celebrates its Century-long Legacy 34 Building a Cleaner, Greener Community 37 Alvernia University and GoggleWorks Expand Partnership DEPARTMENTS: Business & Community Advocacy 30 It’s Your Workforce: Advocate for It! Events & Signature Programs 14 The Business Excellence Awards UGI Energy Services, LLC Pennsylvania Anesthesia Coalition, LLC 22 SHARE of Success 36 Celebration of Economic Growth at the 2023 Building Berks Awards IN EVERY ISSUE: 5 Letter From the Editor 6 A Message from GRCA CEO & President 18 Greater Together 38 In Your Community 42 Member News 46 New Members 46 Member Anniversaries
Letter from the Editor
The Greater Reading Chamber Alliance (GRCA) marketing team has been working on so many cool and exciting projects that I thought it would be great to share some highlights with you.
Member Storytelling Campaign
GRCA’s member storytelling campaign, a collaboration with Bell Media Group and Lauren Adele Little Photography, is continuing throughout 2023. So far, we have released the stories behind Bollman Hat Company, Reading Bakery Systems and SNAPO Toys. If you haven’t read those stories, I highly recommend them. Visit greaterreading.org/member-stories/ to read them all. In March, we visited the Animal Rescue League of Berks County to learn how its passion for uniting humans with animals brings far-reaching impact into the community. Then, we satisfied our collective sweet tooth with a tour of Sweet Street Desserts. The lines of cakes, cookies and brownies being frozen, hand finished, stacked and packaged were enough to make any normal person drool.
Food Directory Map
In February, after months of preparation and planning, GRCA launched growtogetherberks.com. This microsite contains much of the agriculture content from the original Rebuild Berks website. Even with fresh, monthly blog content featuring local farmers and producers, we wanted the site to become a singular point to discover producers in our own backyard. The local ag directory gives us just that. With filters by business type, products and payment methods, it’s easy to find fresh local products that fit your criteria.
What is the number one issue that our members come to GRCA for assistance with? You most likely guessed it. TALENT. With more available jobs than qualified talent, we knew we needed to up our game to assist our members with attracting talent. We hired RoleCall, a company that specializes in talent attraction programming, marketing and messaging, to help us fully develop a strategy in attracting talent to Greater Reading. RoleCall performed a site visit where they gathered perspectives of professionals and businesses in our county. They shared their “I could live here” moments to help us focus on the community assets that would entice talent to move to our area. We are currently weaving their suggested messaging and Greater Reading highlights throughout our Meet Greater Reading brand and upcoming Meet Greater Reading magazine.
There’s more to come on all of these projects, and I am super excited for GRCA’s membership to see them all come to life. Stay tuned! CQ
Board of Directors
GRCA BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Jeffrey R. Rush – Fulton Bank (Chairman)
Christina L. Weeber – East Penn Mfg. Co., Inc. (Vice Chairman)
Daniel R. Langdon – East Penn Mfg. Co., Inc./Retired (Immediate Past Chairman)
Michele L. Richards – Fulton Bank (Treasurer)
Michael A. Duff, Esq. – Penske Truck Leasing (Secretary)
Gregg A. Bogia – Bogia Engineering Inc.
Ernest J. Choquette – The Stevens & Lee Companies
Jim Gerlach – Greater Reading Chamber Alliance
Jack Gombach – McNees Strategic Solutions Group
Laura Haffner – Wells Fargo
Sara Kuzma-Stump – Suburban Testing Labs
Dr. Susan Looney – Reading Area Community College
Jamey Maack – US Anodize
David C. Roland – Truist
Timothy D. Romig – Customers Bank
Alan Shuman – Shuman Development Group
David W. Stonesifer – Herbein + Company, Inc.
John Weidenhammer – Weidenhammer
GREATER READING CHAMBER OF COMMERCE & INDUSTRY BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Sara Kuzma Stump – Suburban Testing Labs (Chairwoman)
Laura Haffner – Wells Fargo (Vice Chairwoman)
Gregg A. Bogia – Bogia Engineering Inc. (Secretary)
Jack Gombach – McNees Strategic Solutions Group (Treasurer)
Timothy Dietrich – Barley Snyder (Solicitor)
Michele L. Richards – Fulton Bank (Immediate Past Chair)
Stephen Bonner – DoubleTree by Hilton Reading
Lucy Cortez – Community First Fund
Brian Dietrich – Ernst & Young (EY LLP)
Jonathan Encarnacion – UPMC FOR U, INC.
Becky A. Eshbach – UGI Utilities, Inc.
Alba Fernandez – Community First Fund
Andrea Funk – Enersys
Kristi Gage-Linderman – Gage Personnel
Jim Gerlach – Greater Reading Chamber Alliance
Dan Gring – D&B Construction
Dr. Jill M. Hackman – Berks County Intermediate Unit
Joey Jurgielewicz – Jurgielewicz & Son, Ltd.
Kristin Kohler – Brentwood Industries, Inc.
Daniel B. Laws, Jr. – DaBrian Marketing Group
Ben Leisawitz – Barley Snyder LLP
John Perate – M&T Bank
Ryan Redner – Redner’s Markets
Rodney Ridley – Alvernia University
Mike Riley – EthoSource, LLC
Ben Ross – Burkey Construction
Jim Sarro – Muhlenberg Greene Architects, Ltd.
Alan Shuman – Shuman Development Group
David W. Stonesifer – Herbein + Company, Inc.
John Weidenhammer – Weidenhammer
GREATER BERKS DEVELOPMENT FUND
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Ernest J. Choquette – The Stevens & Lee Companies (Vice Chairman)
Michael Duff, Esq. – Penske Truck Leasing (Secretary)
Daniel R. Langdon – East Penn Manufacturing Company, Inc. (Chairman)
Debra L. Millman, Esq. – Greater Berks Development Fund (President)
Michael Vind- FSL Public Finance (Treasurer)
Charles F. Barbera, MD – Reading Hospital
Richard Bashore – Reading Electric Motor Service, Inc.
Joseph Butto – Mid Penn Bank
P. Michael Ehlerman – Yuasa Battery, Inc.
Jim Gerlach – Greater Reading Chamber Alliance
Scott Hauseman – Fulton Bank
Ginger Kunkel – Tompkins VIST Bank
For the most up-to-date schedule of events, training and webinars, visit GreaterReading.org and click on the events calendar at the top of the page. CQ
Dr. Susan D. Looney – Reading Area Community College
Jamey Maack – US Anodize
David C. Roland – Truist Bank
Timothy D. Romig – Customers Bank
Jeffery Rush – Fulton Bank
David Shaffer – EnerSys
Joseph Sigle – Wells Fargo Bank
Sally Stewart – Greater Reading Chamber Alliance
Christina L. Weeber – East Penn Mfg. Co., Inc.
Visit our website
Jim Gerlach sits down with GRCA’s new Director of Membership
By Jim Gerlach, President & CEO, GRCA JACKIE STILES DIRECTOR OF MEMBERSHIP email@example.com
Q: Welcome to GRCA! Tell our members a little bit about your professional background.
A: I started out in higher education and loved working with that age group. After starting my own family, my professional life took a huge turn. I moved into the world of early education, as a Child Care Director. I thought this was the best option to utilize my MBA and still be with my children. Next, I transitioned into development and enrollment management, which ultimately led me to GRCA.
Q: That’s great. Tell the members why you are excited to work at GRCA and what you can bring to them.
A: I see GRCA as one-stop shopping for businesses in Berks County. I am amazed at all the services GRCA provides for its members. The networking opportunities are endless for any size business, financial/accounting services, insurance benefits, a social media presence, all different types of training from customer service to manufacturing, and so much more for members. Combining all these services and opportunities with my passion for meeting new people, learning about their experiences, and making connections with them, it’s a service that just can’t be beat. We believe at GRCA, a business should not have to do it alone. I look forward to working with current members and future members. The future is bright for GRCA members!
Q: You’ve sold me. Now, switching gears. What inspires you?
A: On a personal level, being challenged inspires me. On a professional level, being part of something bigger than yourself, which is why I am happy to be at GRCA.
Q: What’s the most interesting thing about you that we wouldn’t learn from your resume alone?
A: I was the youngest head women’s basketball coach in the NCAA. I am proud to say that now, but back then I didn’t advertise that I was so close in age to my players.
Q: Wow! That is interesting. So, what do you like to do in your free time?
A: I love spending time with my family and friends. I also volunteer at my parish’s fundraising events and sport programs.
Q: Let’s end with a fun question. Say someone is going to pay you $1,000 to sing karaoke; what is your go-to song?
A: “Respect” by Aretha Franklin. CQ
A Message from GRCA
BLiNCK Studios’ founders roll out one-of-a-kind video service featuring cows
By Leah Fassnacht, Director
Kyle and Leah James wanted to get the biggest bucks for one of their bovines.
The couple, who own and operate Shinin’ Penny Pastures in Bernville, Pa., asked good friends Brett Bottesch and Nicole Fryer to come to their farm to shoot video of one of their longhorn heifers scheduled to be sold at auction.
Bottesch, a cinematographer and director, and Nicole Fryer, a producer and master editor, had just founded BLiNCK Studios, a full-service video production company, and were looking to expand their client base and array of offerings.
It was then “Sexy Cow Videos” were born.
“It’s kind of like putting a cow on Tinder,” Nicole said. But unlike a real Tinder profile, the videos provide details such as weight, lineage and fertility. In addition, prospective buyers can view footage of what the animal is like at home in its natural environment—grazing in the field, chowing down on feed, hanging out with its young or even licking the hands of visitors—with a backdrop of upbeat music.
Continued on next page >
of Communications & Marketing, GRCA | Photos by Lauren Adele Little
“When they go to auction, you can only see them in their pen,” Brett said. “The videos give the animals personality.”
The James’ uploaded the video to an iPad mounted on the side of the heifer’s pen at the auction.
“Everyone was very impressed with the construction of the video showcasing our animal in her natural environment versus a sale barn environment,” Leah said. “It gave our potential buyers an indication and comfortability in what the heifer would be like at their farm.”
The result speaks for itself. The longhorn heifer sold for much more than the James’ were expecting.
And what started as a favor for some good friends, has turned into a viable, one-of-a-kind business offering.
In the future, Brett and Nicole say they hope to expand into other animals such as horses.
Continued on page 12 >
10 GreaterReadingChamber.org Bovine Babes continued
11 GreaterReadingChamber.org REUSE | RENEW | REVITALIZE MG ARCHITECTS Established 1920 ADAPTIVE REUSE ARCHITECTURE | DESIGN | PLANNING MG-Architects.com | 610-376-4927 SCAN FOR PROJECT INFO
Curious about these videos?
Scan the code below to watch an example of a recent “Sexy Cow Videos” from BLiNCK Studios.
“Pretty much we can work with any animal that has to be penned,” Brett said.
They are currently putting together a packet outlining best practices when shooting video with devices like iPhones, which can then be used by farmers outside the area. The farmer would then send the video to Nicole to edit into a video to be used at auction.
Nicole says she hasn’t seen any other company provide this kind of service showing the new company’s commitment to producing cutting-edge video content.
“The video was a unique marketing tool to help her (the heifer) stand out in the vast quality of animals at the sale,” Leah said. CQ
Learn more about BLiNCK Studios: Visit www.blinckstudios.com
Bovine babes continued
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Events & Signature Programs
AWARDS R Category 1
($1M+ revenue in previous 3 years)
AWARDS R Category 2
15 1. UGI Energy Services, LLC 2. Singer Equipment Company, Inc. 3. Omega Systems, LLC 4. DoubleTree by Hilton Reading 5. Sealstrip Corporation 6. Berks Homes 7. Fromm Electric Supply 8. Dolan Construction Inc. 9. Reading Royals 10. Ethosource, LLC 11. Stoney Creek Rentals 12. Grant Manufacturing and Alloying Inc. 13. Mail Shark 14. Smith Bukowski, LLC 15. Translogistics, Inc. 16. Ronnie C. Folk Paving, Inc. 17. RKL LLP 18. New Castle Lawn and Landscape 19. Herbein + Company, Inc. 20. Keller Williams Platinum Realty 21. Wyatt Seating 22. Champion Personnel, Inc. 23. Spotts Insurance Group 24. Fraser Advanced Information Systems 25. Chester Perfetto Agency, Inc. 26. Solve IT Solutions, LLC 27. East Penn Manufacturing Company 28. Entech Engineering, Inc. 29. UECU 30. Levan Machine & Truck Equipment 31. D&S Elite Construction, Inc. 32. McCarthy Engineering Associates, Inc. 33. Muhlenberg Greene Architects, Ltd. 34. Diamond Credit Union 35. Irish Creek Enterprises, Inc. 36. Berkshire Systems Group, Inc. 37. Unique Pretzel Bakery, Inc. 38. Kozloff Stoudt Attorneys 39. Anewalt’s Landscape Contracting 40. Bogia Engineering Inc. 41. Body Zone Sports and Wellness Complex 42. Suburban Testing Labs 43. Weidenhammer 44. Weaver’s Hardware Company 45. Berks · Fire · Water Restorations, Inc. 46. Van Scoy Jewelers 47. Rothenberger Insurance Services, LLC 48. Cornerstone Law Firm, LLC 49. Strunk Media Group 50. Shuman Development Group
1. Pennsylvania Anesthesia Coalition, LLC 2. American Barber and Beauty Academy 3. Catering by John Lowe 4. Junkluggers of Berks, Chester, & Lancaster, PA 5. D&S Portable Toilets, LLC 6. SNAPO Toys, LLC 7. ATA Martial Arts – Wyomissing 8. Moyer-Drabick & Associates, Ltd. 9. VA Productions, Inc. 10. Financial Planning Advisors, Inc.
revenue in previous 3 years)
UGI Energy Services, LLC
Top Business Excellence Award Winner, Category 1
summary of your business & what you do.
Give us a
UGI Energy Services, a subsidiary of UGI Corporation, markets and sells natural gas, electricity, liquid fuels, renewable natural gas and renewable power to commercial, industrial, institutional and government retail customers in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States and California. We also own and operate natural gas liquefaction, storage and vaporization facilities, as well as electric generation assets. We develop, own and operate natural gas pipelines, gathering lines, underground storage facilities and renewable natural gas production facilities. Some of these facilities are subject to regulation by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).
Headquartered in the Knitting Mills building in Wyomissing, we are a 28-year-old business spun out of UGI Corporation in 1995 to offer solutions for the energy deregulation initiatives in Pennsylvania and many other states. We started with eight employees and have grown to over 350. Over all these years, the business premise has remained the same and that is to provide our customers with customized energy solutions so they can manage their businesses better.
What is UGI Energy Services, LLC’s recipe for success?
Our success starts with our employees by offering them a great place to work, to learn new skills and to make a direct impact with our customers. Many companies sell the same products we do but we differentiate ourselves with our focus on customer service. Listening to what the customer needs, executing on providing services per the contract and getting the billing right are all core tenets of our business.
What advice would you give someone who is starting a business in Greater Reading?
Berks County is a great place to operate a business. The population of hard-working individuals offers solid opportunities to hire great employees. We are fortunate to live in an area with a very generous community spirit. Charitable organizations that provide services to our community are for the most part, well-funded. We’d encourage any new businesses to embrace the community in which you live and work—join community organizations and networking groups, volunteer, and get out there and meet people in the Greater Reading community. CQ
Joe Hartz, President, UGI Energy Services, LLC
From left to right: Tony Cox, VP Business Development; Kelly Beaver, VP Energy Marketing & Supply; Shaun Hart, VP Commodity Marketing, Growth & Retention; Dante D’Alessandro, VP Global Engineering & Construction; Marie-Dominique Ortiz-Landazabal, VP & CFO – UGI Energy Services; Joe Hartz, President – UGI Energy Services
Pennsylvania Anesthesia Coalition, LLC
Top Business Excellence Award Winner, Category 2
By Nicholas Lambros, CEO & Managing Partner, Pennsylvania Anesthesia Coalition, LLC
Give us a summary of your business & what you do.
Pennsylvania Anesthesia Coalition, LLC (PAC) is a private practice group dedicated to comprehensive practice management with a focus in anesthesia.
Our health care company is committed to providing the highest level of anesthesia care while improving patient satisfaction and keeping ambulatory surgery centers, surgery centers, hospitals and offices all functioning at an efficient pace. Our team has unique experience in strategies effective to enhance performance standards and metrics in addition to optimizing revenue. We understand that everyone’s anesthesia needs are different, and we will make sure to implement a solution specific to your need.
What is Pennsylvania Anesthesia Coalition, LLC’s recipe for success?
Build trust. Clients respond positively to reliability and durability during good times and bad in the service and health care industry. In an ever-changing, health care world flexibility is king if you’re going to last. We can offer perspectives on staffing and management issues because our owners and management staff are also providers. We are always on site and available to you.
At PAC, we don’t value more clients and growth, we are motivated to forge long-lasting relationships with the right clients through trust and collaboration.
What advice would you give someone who is starting a business in Greater Reading?
Be relentless. Be courageous. Be your brand. You will be tested time and time again; take each challenge as an opportunity to prove to the region why you belong here. The world needs a lot, and they need it from all of us. Step up and deliver. No one’s coming to save you. Start small. Stay humble. Stay relevant. Stay engaged in your industry. Network and make alliances; believe me when I say you cannot do this alone. Forge alliances and support systems across industries.
Above all else, never ever stop pushing forward. Always fall forward. CQ
Here’s a taste of what the Greater Reading Chamber Alliance (GRCA) has been working on in the past couple of months and what’s to come!
The advocacy program is focused on the May 16 primary election and being engaged on the state and federal budget process. Our Business & Community Advocacy Council is looking at issues related to workforce, childcare, permitting reform, and economic development and how to ensure pending legislation, polices and regulations work for the business community. Our next big event will be our State Legislator Breakfast on May 19. We invite all 13 members of the Berks delegation to update our members on the state budget, their priorities and take questions from members about issues facing our local businesses.
Greater Berks Development Fund (GBDF), an affiliate of the GRCA, is the Certified Economic Development Organization (CEDO) for Berks County. As a CEDO, GBDF offers loans through the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority (PIDA). Rates for the loans are being offered as low as 3.50% and have become more attractive as traditional financing rates continue to increase. PIDA funds up to 50% of projects, capped at $2,500,000. Eligible uses for loans are land and building acquisitions, construction and renovation costs, machinery and equipment purchases and working capital. Please contact Shanon Sabanos at 610-898-7761 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Events & Special Programs
The Events & Special Programs department hosted a whopping 10 events in March! GRCA hosted its inaugural SHARE Reading event, bringing together large businesses with small and minorityowned businesses for connection. It was a great success with over 190 people attending! We also hosted the Chamber Trip info session and talked all things French Riviera! There is still time to sign up to travel with us in November. And it was a pleasure seeing members from other regional chambers including the Northeast Berks Chamber and Upper Perkiomen Valley Chamber. See you at an upcoming event this spring!
Membership has been busy welcoming more than 30 new members since Jan. 1. The membership team has been busy visiting long-standing members to deliver anniversary plaques and gift bags. GRCA welcomed Jackie Stiles as its new Director of Membership on April 17. Learn more about her on page 6.
Training & Workforce Development
Three new English Second Language training programs specifically target improving the communication of your employees in the workplace. GRCA’s new Sales and Customer Service programs are ideal for organizations looking to improve their growth trajectory while providing clients with a stellar customer experience. Lastly, GRCA now provides members with a customized Gallup’s StrengthsFinder assessment and workshop program. StrengthsFinders is designed to help you identify the strengths of the people working in your teams. CQ
18 GreaterReadingChamber.org Feature
G R E AT ER R E A D I N G Chamber Alliance
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Major Milestone City of Reading recognizes 275th with yearlong celebration
The City of Reading marks a milestone this year, its 275th Anniversary. Incorporated March 16, 1748, the city is now the Commonwealth’s fourth largest city. With 45 nationalities represented within a population of 95,112 (2020 Census), Reading shines as an example of the nation’s melting pot.
Celebrations for the bicenterquasquigenary year kicked off in March with events and delegate visits from Sister Cities Reading, England, and Reutlingen, Germany. Activities included a gala at the Reading Public Museum presented by Customers Bank, an official proclamation ceremony at City Hall, 14 community parties held across the city thanks to Redner’s Markets, fireworks and a 275th-themed Reading Royals game. Representatives from each of the cities also participated in a panel discussion on the importance of Sister City relationships hosted by the World Affairs Council of Greater Reading.
Throughout the week the delegates visited 20 city businesses, schools, landmarks, museums and organizations. Tours included Carpenter Technology, Lauer’s Park Elementary, Reading Science Center, Sweet Street, Albright College, El Ranchito Tortilleria, BCTV, Berks History Center, Alvernia University, FirstEnergy Stadium, GoggleWorks, Reading Area Community College, Charles Evans Cemetery, Masano Auto Park and Berks Nature.
In April, the Fightin’ Phils and Earth Day Berks joined the celebration. The home opener for the baseball team featured players in a vintage jersey with a special 275th anniversary patch, activities in the plaza, presentation of a 275 numbered jersey to the 275th Committee, and all city employees were given tickets to the game thanks to sponsors Reading Recreation Commission, Seltzer Group Partners and Discovery Credit Union. And Earth Day Berks planted a tree in City Park in honor of the anniversary.
May featured a history hike and open house for the 100th Anniversary of the Mother Tree located in Antietam Lake Park
Reppert, City of Reading | Photos by Susan L. Angstadt
on May 13. The Women’s Center of Reading celebrated its building’s history with music and storytelling on May 18.
In June, a special exhibit will open in the Berks History Center’s Model Room. The exhibit will take visitors on a journey through Reading’s history using pieces from its collection. The Mid Atlantic Air Museum will kick off its WWII weekend with a procession of vintage vehicles to downtown Reading. Live entertainment, food vendors and reenactors will all be a part of the event in the 500 block of Penn Street on June 2.
This fall, Reading will partner with the Berks Cultural Diversity Festival holding its 275th Anniversary Parade with the Oct. 1 festival in City Park. The parade will take place on Penn Street running from 2nd Street to the 11th Street entrance to the park.
Other events for the year include block parties, historical walking tours, partnership with existing city events and opportunities to participate in a public art collaboration between Berks Community Murals and Total Experience Learning®. Numerous concerts also will take place featuring both local and national artists such as The Ringgold Band and John McEuen, founding member of The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.
Celebrations for the 275th Anniversary are made possible through the support of generous sponsors: Customers Bank, Penske, Carpenter Technology, Visions Federal Credit Union, The Stevens and Lee Companies, Alvernia University, Tompkins Bank, Berks History Center and the Greater Reading Chamber Alliance.
To find out more visit www.readingpa.gov/visitors/275 or follow @CityofReading275 on Facebook. CQ
SHARE of Success
Inaugural event connects large companies with smaller, diverse companies
Tattendees at the inaugural SHARE Reading event March 16 at the Abraham Lincoln. SHARE Reading is an exciting new networking and matchmaking event created and sponsored by UPMC that fosters opportunities for minority-owned businesses to engage with large companies committed to supplier diversity and minority-owned enterprises.
This event provided an opportunity to network with large employers, hear about the importance of diverse business certification and provided an opportunity for individuals to meet one-onone with regional corporations that might need their services. The event also featured a welcome message from Kerry Kirkland, the Pennsylvania Deputy Secretary for Diversity, Inclusion and Small Business Opportunities for the Department of General Services.
Adrean Turner was the keynote speaker of the event. She is an executive leadership coach, host, master facilitator and certified minority-business enterprise (MBE). She shared her own journey as an entrepreneur, provided tips the audience could use and shared some of her successes as examples.
Continued on page 24 >
Events & Signature Programs
Keith Stamm, Director of Workforce Development, GRCA | Photos by Baronial Designs Photography
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Top 50 Businesses
to be named to the Greater Reading Top 50 Businesses List Proud TOP 50 BUSINESS
As we continue to help Greater
businesses succeed with confidence, we are pleased to again be named to the Greater Reading
list We are delighted to congratulate all of our clients who have also been recognized this year.
Her presentation was followed by a panel of experts who discussed the why and how of diverse business certification. The panel also provided an overview of the procurement process for larger corporations and how to find this information.
The event wrapped up with a matchmaking session where suppliers could talk with buyers about procurement opportunities and then a general networking session for all.
Anyone who is interested in more information about next year’s SHARE Reading event can contact Keith Stamm at firstname.lastname@example.org or 610-898-7776. CQ
Events & Signature Programs continued
25 THEHIGHCENTER.COM email@example.com | 717-361-1275 Connect with The High Center on Social Media! The High Center is one of the largest family-owned/ privately held business centers in the country. Our unique blend of resources, including Best Practice and Exit Planning Surveys, nationally acclaimed Speakers, and peer groups for CEOs and Key Executives provide one local source for creating lasting legacies for families and business owners. AWARENESS APPLICATION EDUCATION Best Practices & Exit Surveys Peer Groups Speaker Series Peter K. Heim Associate-Broker office: 610-898-1441 cell: 610-745-3378 email: firstname.lastname@example.org www.peterheimrealtor.com Our Home is Worth What? Know the value of your home? Find out today with this free, no-obligation search from Berks County’s most trusted Realtor. Native Berks Countian, Peter Heim is an award-winning Real Estate Broker with more than 35 years of experience.
Bit by Bit Weidenhammer stands the test of time, evolving tech
By Jennifer Williams, Director of Marketing, Weidenhammer
On Feb. 15, 2023, Weidenhammer celebrated its 45th year in business as an IT consulting company. The firm has faced numerous inflection points over the years, but has navigated them to reach this incredible milestone, which we are immensely proud of.
When we started the company in 1978, the goal was to help our clients successfully implement and use information technology. We began as an IT consultant for a manufacturing company in Reading for a six-month trial. This was the launch of Weidenhammer. During this time, a business management system as well as an administrative management system for education developed. You can say that software development has been in our DNA since inception.
From the 1970s to the early 2000s, we were able to navigate economic recessions, technology partner reseller programs, decentralization of networking, Y2K and even the dot com bust. We learned that in these times of ebbs and flows, our strength consistently comes from our team and the depth of our knowledge and capabilities.
The company grew and expanded from a pure technology company to include design of front-end user experiences to truly help clients digitally transform their businesses.
Throughout the decades, we have always stayed true to our consulting roots. With the rate of change in technology, we made multiple acquisitions to expand our talent, offerings, and partnerships. We acquired companies to bring in design and marketing expertise as well as ecommerce developers and partnerships. We did this because we saw shifts in the market and in our own client base. We knew we needed to invest and grow our company to help our clients evolve and grow as well.
In March 2020, Covid turned our world upside down. We were fortunate that our past preparation and our services capacity afforded us the opportunity and technology to pivot to this world event. We are delighted that once again, when we were confronted with a pivotal moment, we were able to make it through to the other side through the resourcefulness and resiliency of our team.
We’ve passed through the threshold of being in business for 45 years. What lies ahead? That’s a question that we all think about, especially as we think about the future of Weidenhammer. Our goal is to become a preferred national brand that consults with clients to digitally transform. At the same time, our goal is also to continue to strive and work to become a preferred place to work. We strive for people in our industry to have a preference to come to work at Weidenhammer and to stay for a long time.
As we look back on the history of Weidenhammer, one of our great differentiators and successes is that we have been finishers. When engaged by a client, we get the job done and we deliver a quality solution to our clients. We’ve always been a firm with a dream, and we are fulfilling it. Through the hard work of many, luck, persistence and determination, Weidenhammer has turned into a dream that has been fulfilled.
We take great pride, joy and satisfaction from what we’ve built together, and the job is not done. That’s the great thing about it, it just goes on. We believe that we’ve created a strategy and culture here that can sustain itself forward in time. CQ
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100 years strong Boyer’s Floor Covering, Inc. celebrates its century-long legacy
By Kelly Haines, Owner, Boyer’s Floor Covering, Inc.
Boyer’s Floor Covering is 100 years and counting! We are ecstatic to be celebrating our centennial year serving Berks County. It is hard to comprehend all the changes in the world since the business opened in 1923. One thing that has remained consistent throughout the 100 years is our commitment to providing exceptional flooring products, installation and service to all in the Greater Reading area.
The business was opened on 11th Street in Reading by the founder Charles Boyer and was originally named Boyer’s Awnings, Blinds, and Linoleum. During the Roaring ’20s, a decade of great prosperity, the business sold carpets, linoleum, hardwood, wallpaper, curtains and awnings to its customers. The original stained glass from our location on 11th Street still hangs in our showroom today.
In the 1950s, Boyer retired and sold the business to Robert Britegam who updated the business name to Boyer’s Floor and Wall Covering, as the awning division was closed. Britegam and eventually his daughter, Dorothy (Dottie) Britegam, continued to grow the business. Dottie purchased the business and building from her father in 1970.
Because the business now had multiple locations within the Reading area, it was time to build a facility that included an expansive showroom and warehouse in one. This move streamlined the business and provided customers with access to ever-growing types of products for flooring.
Monday: 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Tuesday: 9 a.m.-7 p.m.
Wednesday: 9 a.m.-7 p.m.
Thursday: 9 a.m.-7 p.m.
Friday: 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Saturday: 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
Then in 1982, Dottie and her husband, David Kercher, opened a custom-built, 8,000-square-foot facility on Kutztown Road in Reading that still serves as the headquarters today. The new building allows for easier parking, extensive natural lighting and design center space, ease of product pickup and delivery, as well as ample office and warehouse
28 GreaterReadingChamber.org Boyer’s Floor Covering 3020 Kutztown Road, Reading 610-921-2088
space for our team to operate. After many decades of hard work and success, Dottie and David sold the business in 2017 to Eric and Kelly Haines, who operate the business today. Dottie and David played a critical role in transitioning the business to the Haines, after operating the business with a focus on continuing to offer the exceptional experience customers of Boyer’s have come to expect over the last century.
What really sets Boyer’s apart is our amazing team members. Cindy Pollock and Sonia Good have been with Boyer’s for over 25 years. In 2019, Nancy Nies joined our team of professionals as we continue to grow and offer personalized service to all customers. The team, both in the showroom and installation department, brings many years of expertise to all projects. Each project is different, and the team focuses on finding the best product for your project, not
selling the most expensive option.
Boyer’s Floor Covering plans to continue to enhance our customers’ experiences and make shopping for flooring an exciting and fun process. We are continuing to utilize technology to ease the shopping experience, including an updated website where customers can view products, apply for financing and request services anytime online. Our showroom was renovated in 2022 and has reconfigured display space and a design center to best show customers the options available without being overwhelming. A customer coffee/snack center as well as toys and “magic carpets” for children are there for our customers to make sure their experience in our showroom is comfortable and pleasant. Our commercial division has grown, and we offer services for small to mid-size offices, restaurants, schools, churches and general retail/public space flooring projects with a full line of commercial products and design assistance available.
The wonderful residents of Berks County who value local businesses are the reason we are still in business after 100 years, and we deeply appreciate each one as we strive to provide exemplary and personalized customer service to all. We would love for you to stop by to see our vast selection of carpets, hardwoods, ceramic tiles, luxury vinyl, laminate, and custom area rugs and meet our wonderful and caring staff! CQ
It’s Your Workforce: Advocate for It!
By Katie Hetherington Cunfer, Director of Government & Community Relations, GRCA
The success and failure of every business is directly tied to its workforce. Before COVID, we had record low unemployment, high levels of workforce participation, and we were chatting about the looming “Silver Tsunami” as the Baby Boomer generation retires. Post COVID, we’re once again experiencing record low unemployment, but the Silver Tsunami is now hitting and there are several factors exacerbating stagnation in workforce participation, negatively affecting your ability to fill open positions.
So, what are you doing about it? Most employers initially reacted to workforce constraints by simply raising wages. That is only a viable solution so long as the business can afford it and fails as soon as another employer offers a higher wage, and your employee(s) are able to jump to that new job. Wages are at historic highs right now. It’s still not bringing people back to the workforce, and it hasn’t resulted in a flood of people moving to Berks County.
The current and emerging workforce is asking employers to help them address the issues keeping them at home. Our workforce is made up of people, and people are struggling with the cost and lack of access to quality child and elder care, housing, transportation constraints, broadband access and finding time for a work-life-family-community balance. Business leaders have a lot on their plates, but if you want your business to continue to be productive, you need to take time to invest in the needs of your workforce because they are your business.
On childcare, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services calculated that the cost of childcare should be no more than 7% of a family’s total income. An independent study from Pennsylvania State University found the average cost of childcare to be $15,080 while the
average income of a household in Pennsylvania is $84,849. This equates to around 17.8% of household income paying for childcare. According to TOOTRiS, the average annual cost of childcare in Reading is $12,385, and it can surpass $18,000 in the collar counties. According to the U.S. Census, the median household income for Berks County is $68,658, resulting in the cost of childcare in Berks on average to be 18% of income, if not more depending upon location, type of care and quality. This is literally the same monthly cost as a mortgage.
The current and potential costs to businesses are even higher. A recently published study by ReadyNation indicates that the nation’s infant-toddler childcare crisis now costs $122 billion in lost earnings, productivity and revenue every year. This figure is derived from families losing $78 billion per year in forgone earnings and job-search expenses, productivity problems cause employers to lose $23 billion annually due to childcare challenges faced by their workforce, and taxpayers, in turn, lose $21 billion each year in lower federal and state/local tax revenue. This is more than double the cost from when this study was first conducted in 2018.
On housing, Berks County is estimated to have 40,000 to 50,000 less housing units at all levels of affordability and ownership needed to sustain our workforce. That means we’re relying on workers from our neighboring counties, who are facing the same issue. Pennsylvania has a complicated fabric of municipal and state government involvement in development, but settling for the status quo by limiting strategic development, redevelopment, and addressing blight has led to this point. We’re all begging Peter to pay Paul and with the stagnating population, there are not enough workers to go around.
30 GreaterReadingChamber.org Business & Community Advocacy
Our workforce needs the infrastructure of transportation and broadband connections to succeed. If they can’t get to you, they can’t work for you. If they (and their family) can’t connect to the internet, they can’t work for you and won’t want to move here. In 2022, Forbes reported that nearly 42 million Americans still have no access to broadband, which the FCC defines as having download speeds of a minimum of 25 megabits per second (Mbps) and upload speeds of 3 Mbps. We need assistance covering the cost of that last mile in our rural areas as well as adding capacity to our growing urban centers. The recent government investments in these areas will hopefully help, but we must watch to make sure money is being spent wisely and effectively.
Regarding that elusive work-life balance, the Harvard Business Review conducted a follow-up study to its 2019 Mental Health at Work Report. The prioritization of employee mental health in the workplace has moved from a nice-to-have to a true business imperative during and post-COVID. Employers are being asked to address employee mental health challenges, issues surrounding diversity, equity, and inclusion, and incorporating flexibility into the culture of the business. If employees feel like the business’ culture isn’t for them, the current job market offers them the ability to quickly move on to something else, leaving you with unfilled positions.
can an employer do?
• Talk to your employees. (You hired them!) You share the collective goal to see the business succeed so that everyone working there can succeed. How can you expect them to succeed if they are spending time constantly worrying about these home and family life issues? Businesses like certainty, and so do their employees. Start the conversation by asking how your employees are doing and where they need help. You don’t need to have a single answer when you start, but asking for directions from your employees will save you time in identifying solutions.
• Pro-tip: Bring an expert with you! You may have human resources professionals you can lean on to be part of these conversations or you may want to reach out to other local organizations that specialize in these issues such as higher education professionals, United Way, Habitat for Humanity, YMCA, Olivet Boys & Girls Club, LGBT Center of Greater Reading, Berks County Community Health, CommutePA and others.
• Help employees identify resources:
• In 2022, PA enacted a permanent Child and Dependent Care Enhancement Program that will return up to 30% of childcare-related expenses, up to $3,000/child, maximum of $6,000 for more than one child, for married couples making less than $150,000 or single filers making $75,000.
• Child Care Works Program, childcare subsidy for families making 200 percent or less than the Federal Poverty Income level. 84% of infants and toddlers eligible for Child Care Works remain unserved.
• Greater Reading Mental Health Alliance, grmha.org and RUOK Berks? Call or text 484-816-7865.
• Pa. Whole Home Repair Program – Berks County Redevelopment Authority
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32 GreaterReadingChamber.org Business & Community Advocacy cont.
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Building a cleaner, greener community Learn how the Green Team is shining the streets of the 18th Ward
Since last May, the 18th Wonder’s Green Team has fully lived up to its name by picking up and disposing of two, 30-yard roll off containers of litter from the area’s streets.
The 18th Ward, home to more than 10,000 residents, is made up of the Millmont, Oakbrook and Wyomissing Park neighborhoods in Reading, Berks County. Concerned with the appearance of their community, business owners and citizens came together to create the 18th Wonder Improvement Association. Each is now committed to the continued development and prosperity of the neighborhoods, which was outlined in a five-year strategic plan created to strengthen connectivity, economic development, and encourage clean, safe neighborhoods.
“The Green Team is a promising model for youth involvement, creating a healthy community. Local teens pick up litter from their neighborhoods. The different teams work seven days a week, weather permitting. They have not slowed down. The Green Team fosters pride in the community for the students involved. It also provides hands-on training and education regarding recycling and
waste. They also are learning to steward our environment,” said Tanya Melendez, Director of Community Outreach and Programs.
John Masano, President of Masano Auto Group, helped spark the Green Team to life. Masano funded the creation of the pilot program implemented by the 18th Wonder. Masano created and ordered some high-visibility shirts to work as uniforms. As winter approached, he provided the team with Masano hoodies. Masano pays his employees to pick up the bagged trash left on median islands by the Green Team.
Riverfront Federal Credit Union stepped up to the plate and provided the Green Team with financial literacy classes. An easyto-understand curriculum has set the team on a path to financial security. Riverfront also worked with the teens to establish accounts and deposited the $5 primary share to open on their behalf. The account is intended to encourage good savings habits through a savings match program, which is provided by Masano. All involved parties hope the lessons learned will grow into a healthy financial future for all who complete the program.
34 GreaterReadingChamber.org Feature
Melissa Hassler, Membership Coordinator, GRCA
“The creation of the Green Team has multiple benefits. The young individuals who are on the Green Team are learning job skills, responsibility, and work ethic while at the same time receiving financial literacy assistance through Riverfront Federal Credit Union. The results of their physical work include clean streets and a good feeling when you drive or walk in the neighborhood. They have presented a change in perception of the 18th Ward,” said David Talarico, Director of Capital Improvements for the Reading Housing Authority and President of the 18th Wonder.
Debra Millman, the Greater Reading Chamber Alliance’s (GRCA) VP of Development and President of the Greater Berks Development Fund (GBDF), has seen the 18th Wonder grow from an idea into action as she has been involved with the program since its inception.
“The 18th Wonder is a great model for a public/private partnership formed to enhance its immediate surroundings. Its location across the Schuylkill River from much of Reading has created a separate and distinct community. Collaboration between local businesses, anchor institutions, and residents allows for undertaking projects that otherwise would be difficult to achieve. GRCA is incredibly excited to support the 18th Wonder companies and to find ways to complement their growth and success. Creating the Green Team has allowed the younger residents to make a difference in their neighborhoods. It has resulted in a much cleaner community and experience with financial literacy for the kids involved. Those skills will be invaluable to the Green Team members in the next phase of their life.”
In 2023, the Green Team Program will seek to provide children and youth with more educational components. Fundraising has begun to expand the program to include a new team from the Millmont neighborhood and a second team tasked with keeping the grates clean after rain, which will be aptly named the GRATE Team.
The current team may participate in city events where activities have a recycling, sustainability, or neighborhood beautification component. For more information on how you can help the Green Team succeed, contact Tanya Melendez at 610-466-5653 or email@example.com. CQ
Celebration of Economic Growth at the 2023 Building Berks Awards
On Oct. 25, the Greater Reading Chamber Alliance (GRCA) will host its fourth Building Berks Awards & Trade Expo. The event spotlights and celebrates innovation, positive economic growth and development through construction projects across Berks County. The awards aim to celebrate all partners involved in the completion of the project—from the financial institution to the contractor to the municipality—GRCA wants to honor everyone involved in making projects come to fruition in our community!
As we prepare to honor projects in 2023, GRCA will be seeking nominations for eligible projects completed by July 31, 2023. Projects will be evaluated by a diverse panel of judges representing various industries and backgrounds and will evaluate economic and community impact, design, aesthetic and other factors. The nomination application will open on Monday, July 10 and will close on Friday, Aug. 4.
The nomination categories will include:
• Building Systems
• Commercial Renovation/ Restoration
• Placemaking –(public space, public art, etc.)
Details on eligibility of projects and other details about the event can be found at GreaterReading.org/buildingberks.
We invite you to join us on Oct. 25 to celebrate development and investment in our community and to find out who 2023 Building Berks Awardees will be!
Questions? Please contact Aaron Gantz at firstname.lastname@example.org. CQ
36 GreaterReadingChamber.org Events & Signature Programs
Creative Cooperation Alvernia University and GoggleWorks expand partnership
By Jesse Futter, Marketing Director, GoggleWorks Center for the Arts, and Kris Nolt, Executive Director of Marketing & Communications, Alvernia University
Alvernia University and GoggleWorks Center for the Arts are proud to announce a new partnership that celebrates the arts and provides students with a unique opportunity to learn in a dynamic and creative urban environment. Through this collaboration, Alvernia University’s College of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) will launch a fouryear Bachelor of Arts in Creativity Program and electives that will connect faculty and resources at GoggleWorks’ factory-turned-art center campus.
“We are thrilled to partner with GoggleWorks Center for the Arts to offer students an unparalleled educational experience that emphasizes the arts, creative thinking and entrepreneurship in downtown Reading,” said Alvernia University President-Elect Glynis A. Fitzgerald, Ph.D. “This is another example of how intentional partnerships through the Reading CollegeTowne initiative are driving innovation for our region while providing comprehensive educational and career outcomes to our students.”
The partnership represents a unique approach to education that recognizes the value of creativity, innovation, and critical thinking in students, particularly in real-world, interactive environments. The program will allow students to explore across materials and disciplines, collaborate with leaders and social entrepreneurs to launch businesses and gain practical skills for career success. Students will work alongside accomplished artists and educators who will provide mentorship and guidance as they explore their passions and develop their skills.
“This partnership with Alvernia University is a testament to the power of the arts to transform lives and communities,” said Levi Landis, Executive Director of GoggleWorks Center for the Arts. “We are honored to work with Alvernia to provide students with a world-class education that celebrates creativity, innovation and critical thinking. Together, we will inspire the next generation of artists, makers and leaders.”
The program will incorporate hands-on learning experiences, internships, and project-based coursework to prepare students for successful careers in the creative industries. Students will have access to Alvernia’s current art programs and resources, as well as GoggleWorks’ ten studio environments, which are fully equipped with state-of-the-art facilities and tools.
The program will include:
• 2D Studio Art: Painting, drawing, printmaking and photography
• 3D Craft: Ceramics, hot glass, warm and flat glass, jewelry, sculpture, glass, woodworking
• Digital and Integrated Arts: Graphic design, virtual reality and makerspace learning
The partnership will also offer students the opportunity to participate in exhibitions, performances, and events at GoggleWorks’ campus, which attracts artists and roughly 250,000 visitors annually from around the world. Students will be able to engage with the local arts community and showcase their work to a global audience. CQ
From farmland to furnace, many industries brought settlers and visitors through our crossroads—it’s no wonder Boyertown’s many historic attractions are contained within a short walking distance of one another. On the street where you can count no less than 10 colorful bear statues, or in that restaurant with the amazing burgers, more stories are held than you could have ever imagined. In honor of our latest addition to our annual events, Boyertown Heritage Day: Illuminating the Past, discover what makes Boyertown a historian’s weekend destination.
Due to the rich concentration of iron ore, furnaces and forges sprouted up through Boyertown and Pottstown in the 18th century. This industrious connection is forever linked by the Colebrookdale Railroad. Carrying passengers and freight, this rail line accelerated Boyertown’s thriving industries. Today, the C.R.R. not only provides a luxurious excursion in beautifully restored cars, but also a chance to ride along the rails of the past. If you’re left with a thirst for more after you disembark, visit the Boyertown Area Historical Society (BAHS), just half a block over from the station.
Private residence turned church turned library and museum, the BAHS is currently open by appointment only, where you can explore in depth some of the biggest pieces of the area’s history that are outwardly almost lost in time. Exhibits include the Rhoads Opera House Fire, the 1908 tragedy that took the lives of 170 people and catalyzed better fire safety standards. You can also learn more about iron mining, the world-famous Boyertown Burial Casket Company, and our own hometown hero, Gen. Carl Spaatz, though he has a museum all to himself!
If wartime history is your pursuit, head to the General Carl Spaatz National USAAF Museum. Visitors can study the military career of Gen. Spaatz, his influence and experience in WWII, and “Fly the Mission” in an interactive, multiroom puzzle. Currently in the works is a B17 flight simulator, bringing even more life to this chapter of American history. Interested in getting your feet back on the ground? Just across Reading Avenue is the Boyertown Museum of Historic Vehicles.
In 1872, Jeremiah Sweinhart established his own carriage factory in Boyertown. Becoming the Boyertown Auto Body Works, the company produced commercial and government truck bodies until 1990. In 1965, the Boyertown Museum of Historic Vehicles was established. Here, you can see all kinds of PA vehicle innovation, including the original carriages housed in the very building where they were manufactured.
Each of these locations demonstrate how the work of many hands builds the towns that we love. Though the avenues now bustle with large trucks and the old homes and taverns have transformed into modern shops and restaurants, there is a wealth of knowledge just beneath the surface. This made our Heritage Day event such a special project, using a true story to connect our museums, historic State Theatre, and over-200-year-old churches into a fun and rewarding detective mystery for all ages. Gather a curious group, book a stay at The Atherton Inn, and see it all for yourself! CQ
STREET PROGRAMS BOYERTOWN
In Your Community
Kimberly Evans, Building a Better Boyertown Assistant Main Street Manager
Hamburg’s Main Street Celebrating 20 years!
By Deena Kershner, Executive Director, Our Town Foundation
Our Town Foundation is celebrating the 20th anniversary of Hamburg’s Downtown Main Street Revitalization Program. The organization opened its first office in August 2003 after hiring Deena Kershner to fill the first Main Street Manager position. She has served in that role ever since.
During the past 20 years the Hamburg area has witnessed many changes, not just in the downtown business district, but also in the surrounding townships. Tilden Township exploded with retail development after the arrival of Cabela’s, and more recently large warehouses sprouted up in neighboring communities along the I-78 and Route 61 corridors providing employment opportunities for many.
creating a public arts initiative with the addition of four large painted murals and several smaller ones in the downtown, offering art classes and hosting arts-related festivals.
In 2013, the Foundation purchased the Hamburg Strand Theater to save it from its demise and has since made over $260,000 in improvements—making it one of the favorite places in Berks County to see a first-run movie.
In 2015, the organization purchased a vacant one-acre lot within the downtown Main Street corridor with the intent of developing the lot into an outdoor community hub where special events and activities will be held. A parking lot was recently constructed in the
While the landscape of the surrounding area has changed, downtown Hamburg has remained constant as a nostalgic downtown shopping center offering unique retail boutiques and service-oriented businesses.
Over the years, Our Town Foundation has worked feverishly to revitalize the downtown and has received over $4,000,000 in grant funding in support of its efforts. Some of the organization’s major accomplishments include a downtown streetscape improvement project, providing financial assistance for numerous façade renovations, riverfront improvements including the creation of walking paths with links to existing trails and improving three municipal-owned parking lots.
The Foundation formed the Hamburg Area Arts Alliance in 2006 to support and showcase local artists and to advance the awareness of arts in the community. Since inception, the Alliance has faithfully adhered to its mission by offering many arts-related programs and activities for the community including the opening of the Art & Craft Gallery of Hamburg where artists display and sell their work,
rear of the property and plans to build a facility with a bandstand, concession area and public restrooms are in the works.
Our Town Foundation has organized and hosted many events over the years, the most notable being the annual Taste of Hamburg-er Festival. This signature event attracts thousands of people downtown and supports a broad range of stakeholders while serving as a major fundraising event for the organization. This year’s festival will be held Sept. 2 and will also be celebrating its 20th anniversary!
The organization would like to extend its gratitude to all of its volunteers, staff, financial supporters and members that have showed their support over these memorable years. Even though there is still plenty to do for the community, the Foundation is proud of what it has achieved over the years and looks forward to another 20 prosperous years in Hamburg.
For information on Our Town Foundation or Downtown Hamburg, visit hamburgpa.org or call 610-562-3106. CQ
The Wall That Heals coming to Kutztown
By Sandy Green, Community Liaison and Government Relations Assistant, Kutztown Community Partnership
The Wall That Heals, a three-quarter scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial along with a mobile Education Center, is coming to Kutztown Sept. 21 through Sept. 24. The replica will be at the Timothy Breidegam Baseball Field located in Kutztown Park and will be open 24 hours a day and free to the public. The Wall That Heals honors the more than three million Americans who served in the U.S. Armed forces in the Vietnam War, and it bears the names of over 58,000 men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice in Vietnam.
“Words are not enough to express the gratitude I hold in my heart for my four army brothers and all our Vietnam Veterans whose names are listed on The Wall That Heals,” said Eddie Gehringer, Vietnam Veteran, Kutztown Vietnam Veterans Breakfast Club.
The Wall That Heals is transported from community to community in a 53-foot trailer. When parked, the trailer opens with exhibits built into its sides, allowing it to serve as a mobile Education Center telling the story of the Vietnam War, The Wall and the divisive era in American history. On Sept. 19, the transport will travel through the Fleetwood and Topton communities making its way to the final location at Kutztown Park.
The three-quarter scale Wall replica is 375 feet in length and stands 7.5 feet high at its tallest point. Visitors will experience The Wall rising above them as they walk toward the apex, a key feature
of the design of The Wall in Washington, D.C. Visitors can do name rubbings of individual service member’s names on The Wall.
“The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund is pleased to bring The Wall That Heals mobile exhibit to Kutztown to allow local veterans and their family members a chance to experience The Wall,” said Jim Knotts, President and CEO of VVMF. “Hosting The Wall That Heals provides an opportunity to honor and remember all those who served and sacrificed in the Vietnam War and educate visitors on the continuing impact of the Vietnam War on America.”
The mobile Education Center exhibit includes: digital photo displays of “Hometown Heroes” service members whose names are on The Wall that list their home of record within the Berks County area; digital photo displays of Vietnam veterans from the local area honored through VVMF’s In Memory program, which honors veterans who returned home from Vietnam and later died; video displays that teach about history and impact of The Wall; educational exhibits told through items representative of those left at The Wall in D.C.; a replica of the In Memory plaque; a map of Vietnam and a chronological overview of the Vietnam War. The exhibits tell the story of Vietnam War, The Wall and the era surrounding the conflict, and are designed to put American experiences in Vietnam in a historical and cultural context.
Over 200 volunteers are needed to support the 24-hour display of The Wall That Heals. If you would like to volunteer, please contact Sandy Green at email@example.com.
For more information about The Wall That Heals, visit www.vvmf. org/twth. CQ
MAIN STREET PROGRAMS KUTZTOWN
40 GreaterReadingChamber.org In Your Community continued
WEST READING Feel Fest-ive in West Reading
By Mark Ratcliffe, West Reading Main Street Executive Director
In West Reading, spring is the beginning of our festival season. The Craft Pretzel & Beer Festival on April 29 was canceled due to weather. A rain date has not yet been set. Check our Visit West Reading Facebook page or VisitWestReading.org for updates.
Art on the Ave is June 17 and is one of the biggest events of the year in West Reading. We look forward to including more local artists along with the GoggleWorks and Berks Art Council. Our Plein Air event hosted by Art Plus Gallery will be bigger than ever this year. This event leads up to Art on the Ave and attracts fine artists from around the region who take this week to paint tableaus of the local area. The paintings are judged and will be auctioned off Friday, June 16.
Other events are our Sunday Farmers Market that continues every other Sunday starting in May. Second Fridays will gear back up and this summer will also bring the French Fry Festival hosted by West Reading Tavern. The West Reading Shopping Center will be getting a facelift this year and will be adding a Cigar Lounge to replace Chef Alan’s. With over 30 food and drink locations in West Reading, this will be a nice addition to the community. There is no better time to spend the weekend meeting friends and enjoying everything West Reading has to offer. CQ
Mid Penn Bank, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Mid Penn Bancorp Inc., announced that its Women’s Leadership Network has awarded $16,000 in grants to organizations that have a positive and direct impact on the lives of Pennsylvania women and families. The funds are being distributed among 11 nonprofit groups within Mid Penn’s 16-county service area that aid in areas such as health and wellness, mental health, education, housing and workforce development.
Barley Snyder is pleased to announce the promotion of Dorothy Rund to Chief Operating Officer. Rund has been with the firm for nearly 30 years and previously served as the Chief Administrative Officer. Rund will continue to work with the firm’s management committee and execute other initiatives to shape the overall operations of the firm.
Barley Snyder is pleased to announce attorney Beth M. Kohl has joined the firm in its Reading office. Kohl will work in Barley Snyder’s Real Estate and Land Use practice groups. She brings over 10 years of legal experience representing private and public clients in land use and zoning matters, municipal law and real estate transactions.
Barley Snyder is pleased to announce attorney Jacob H. Kiessling has joined the firm in its Harrisburg office. Kiessling brings with him considerable experience in the areas of business succession and transactions, trusts and estates, and real estate law including negotiation of solar leases and related matters. In his business practice, Kiessling frequently assists clients with a variety of matters including corporate formation, business operations and asset acquisition.
Barley Snyder is proud to share that the firm has been ranked as one of the fastest-growing firms in Pennsylvania by The Legal Intelligencer PaLaw, a recent supplement published by the daily Law Journal, reported that Barley Snyder grew at the fastest rate among larger Pennsylvania firms (with more than 100 attorneys) and at the 8th fastest rate overall in 2022 based on its percentage increase over the prior year. The firm’s net gain of 15 additional lawyers in 2022 placed Barley Snyder as the second fastest-growing firm in the state based on its increase in the number of attorneys.
Barley Snyder is proud to announce two attorneys have been recognized as “Law Firm Leaders” by Lawyers of Color. Partner Jennifer Craighead Carey and Attorney Silas M. Ruiz-Steele were included in the 2022 issue which features a comprehensive listing of law firm decision-makers who are of African, Asian, Hispanic or Native American descent. Lawyers of Color is an organization that is dedicated to promoting diversity and social justice in the legal profession.
42 GreaterReadingChamber.org Member News: Industry & Community Newsmakers
Last year was a banner year for a notable office furniture company, Wyatt Seating, and to capitalize on that continued growth, the company is pleased to announce the addition of new talent to its team. Nat Gallen was promoted from brand manager to Vice President of Wyatt Seating. In his role, he will be responsible for finding and executing strategies to meet the company’s growth goals and expanding market share. Corey Smith was hired as business development manager and will be tasked with onboarding dealers, account management and customer service. Bryan OMara was brought in as an operations specialist and will oversee day-today order fulfillment and logistics processes. He will be responsible for streamlining processes and creating operational efficiencies within Wyatt Seating’s operation.
Rhoads Energy announced that it has completed a transaction that adds HB Home Services
Heating Oil and Propane customers to its growing portfolio. HB Home Services previously operated as part of HB McClure. The purchase further extends Rhoads Energy’s fuel delivery territory into parts of Cumberland, Dauphin, and York Counties. It also brings reliable service from a locally owned company to a large swath of heating oil and propane customers.
Entech Engineering, Inc. (Entech) has announced the relocation of its Pottsville Office. The new office is now home to 20 engineers, environmental scientists, and project representatives who serve a diverse list of municipal, industrial, higher education and healthcare clients.
Entech Engineering, Inc. (Entech), is pleased to announce Matthew Quinn has joined Entech’s Principal Leadership Team. Quinn started at Entech in 2009 and has held various positions within the Civil Environmental Resources group. Quinn began as an intern before being hired full-time as an engineering designer. He currently helps oversee the design, permitting, and construction of various water and wastewater projects at Entech.
Bollman Hat Company and Frasers Group have entered into an agreement that grants Bollman 51% equity share and full intellectual property rights of Kangol. This is a natural progression for Bollman, as they have held the global rights to develop and produce Kangol headwear since 2001. The sale will grant Bollman the rights to apply the same exceptional design, craftsmanship and commitment to innovation to Kangol’s full product portfolio and create a cohesive and coveted global lifestyle brand.
Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania (Ben Franklin Northeast) has announced the appointment of Joshua Bradley to Regional Manager, Upper Susquehanna. As Regional Manager, Bradley will lead entrepreneurial and advanced manufacturing activities in the Upper Susquehanna region of Pennsylvania, including the counties of Bradford, Columbia, Lycoming, Montour, Northumberland, Schuylkill, Snyder, Sullivan and Tioga. He will develop and implement programs and projects to facilitate economic development efforts on behalf of Ben Franklin Northeast and in support of other partners regionally. Additionally, he will manage and develop the incubator program at Bloomsburg Regional Technology Center.
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CPA and advisory firm RKL LLP has won a 2023 Best of Accounting Award for client satisfaction. This recognition from B2B directory ClearlyRated is based solely on service feedback and ratings from the firm’s recent client survey. On that survey, RKL earned a Net Promoter Score (NPS) of 92 percent, which is a world-class ranking far surpassing the accounting industry average NPS of 39 percent. Clients were asked to rate on a scale of zero to 10 how likely they were to refer RKL to a friend or colleague.
Herbein + Company, Inc. (Herbein), a leading CPA advisory firm, announced that it has won the ClearlyRated Best of Accounting Award for providing superior client service. This is the firm’s 7th consecutive year of receiving this recognition. ClearlyRated’s Best of Accounting® Award winners have proven to be industry leaders in service quality, based entirely on ratings provided by their clients. On average, clients of 2023 Best of Accounting winners are 70% more likely to be satisfied than those who work with non-winning firms. Herbein received satisfaction scores of 9 or 10 out of 10 from 91.8% of its clients, significantly higher than the industry’s average of 50% in 2022.
RKL LLP is pleased to announce that Lisa Enders, CPA, MST, was recently named to the newly created position of Tax Innovation Leader. In this role, Enders focuses on driving efficiency across the Tax Services Group, whether through software implementation or process improvements. Her work also supports RKL’s broader strategic goals related to innovation and excellence and helps to mitigate issues and identify opportunities in key areas such as service delivery, cross-functional collaboration and firm-wide procedures.
Herbein + Company, Inc. (Herbein) announced the creation of Herbein Financial Group – a strategic partnership with Northeast Financial Group, Inc. (NEFG). The new entity will be led by NEFG Principal and Herbein Financial Group Partner Josh Laychock. With over 20 years of financial services experience, Laychock specializes in fiduciary best practices for qualified retirement plans and delivering a comprehensive approach for private wealth solutions.
Translogistics Inc. (TLI), a leading provider of transportation and logistics services, is excited to announce its expansion to Houston, TX. The expansion includes boots on the ground employees who specialize in routing LTL, Dry Van, Refrigerated, Flatbed and Hotshot freight. TLI is bringing managed LTL solutions with customized user-friendly software to the Houston market. Now, TLI will have a stronger presence in the Gulf Coast region, allowing the company to better serve its many customers in the area. The highly experienced employees will work closely with local manufacturing & distribution businesses and truckload carriers to provide customized solutions for shippers’ specific needs.
Albright College has added an innovative co-major in vocal performance to its undergraduate majors and minors. Aspiring vocal artists who envision careers in the worlds of musical theatre, opera, jazz and pop will train together through a series of vocal skills courses and performing opportunities designed to prepare singers to meet the needs of various arenas within the contemporary music industry. Singing artists will personalize their Albright College vocal performance degree by combining vocal and performance skill work with a co-major in a second area, such as theatre, music industry, music production, biology, psychology, etc., and enter professional careers as varied as performance, music education and speech pathology.
44 GreaterReadingChamber.org Member News: Industry & Community Newsmakers continued
East Penn Manufacturing Co. is pleased to announce the promotion of Pete Stanislawczyk to Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer. This newly created position will involve the oversight of all the Transportation Sales segments including: Original Equipment, Aftermarket, Private and Proprietary Brands, and Branch Operations; all Industrial segments including: Motive Power and Reserve Power; Wire, Cable, & Battery Accessories Sales and customer service for the transportation division. As East Penn continues to grow these areas, this added organizational structuring will even better position the company’s ability to address evolving customer needs across multiple divisions.
Liberty Environmental, Inc. is pleased to announce the addition of Jonathan Wickstrom as a Principal. Wickstrom is a Senior Project Manager at Liberty Environmental and is a regulatory compliance specialist servicing a diverse client base. His primary subject matter expertise is in air quality permitting and general industrial regulatory compliance, including waste management and Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act reporting.
East Penn Manufacturing Co. is pleased to announce the promotion of Christy Weeber to Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer. Weeber’s role will further focus on developing financial and corporate strategic priorities and risk management. Weeber will continue to oversee our legal and IT departments, in addition to her current oversight of the financial aspects of the company including general accounting and finance, accounts payable, accounts receivable, credit and costing.
Gage Personnel recently announced the promotions of three employees. Annmarie Morganti, PHR, SHRM-CP, CSP, was named Director of Operations and Recruitment. With over 24 years of experience in the staffing industry and 18 years at Gage, Morganti’s expertise includes operations management, talent acquisition, recruitment process outsourcing and employee management.
East Penn Manufacturing Co. is pleased to announce the promotion of Norbert Maleschitz to Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. In his new role, Maleschitz will oversee the company’s daily operations that include manufacturing, purchasing, distribution, and engineering. This will be in addition to his prior duties as Chief Technology Officer, managing East Penn’s further advancement of technology, innovation, and continuous improvement for the company’s products, processes and manufacturing equipment.
Debbie Ramsey, PHR, SHRM-CP, CSP, was named Director of HR and Client/ Community Relations. With expertise in human resources, management, employee relations, business development and more, she partners with local companies & non-profits to help people meet their highest potential. Becky McKim was promoted to Brand Manager and Business Development Leader. With the firm since 2005, McKim joined Gage Personnel to assist with expanding new services into more regions.
Real Estate Investors of Berks County, Inc.
Drafting Solutions II LLC
Specialty Driving LLC
Grant Manufacturing & Alloying, Inc.
LEO Design Gallery
Harris, Baio & McCullough
Spring Ridge Insurance Services
Snapo Toys, LLC
Home Team Inspection Service of Reading Berks
The ReDCo Group
Wolfe Roofing a Tecta America Company LLC
Faddis Concrete Products
Anastasis Fellowship Church
Bethany Christian Services
Photographer Lauren Adele Little
Reading Film Fest
Spring Valley Church of God
Penn National Gaming, Inc.
Edward Jones - Brett Diamond
Kinetic by Windstream
10 YEARS Threshold Rehabilitation Services, Inc. McCarthy Engineering Associates, Inc. Trupp’s Garage, Inc.
15 YEARS Landis C. Deck & Sons Site Contractor Sam Alley, M.D.
Assured Assistance Berks Fire Water Restorations, Inc.
City of Reading
NAI Keystone Commercial & Industrial, LLC
Power Kunkle Group, Inc.
Progressive Vision Institute
LLC Highmark Blue Shield New Members 4G Nutrition Berkshire Hathaway Homeservices Homesale Realty Bottomline Concepts LLC Club Pilates Wyomissing DeverCare Insurance Group EMPOWERMENT Behavioral Health LLC Greater Reading Mental Health Alliance Indicon Corp JPMorgan Chase & Co. My Dad’s Flooring New York Life Paragon HR Consulting Reading Modern Technology, LLC Reading Rebels Basketball RC-J Consulting Associates, LLC Sanctuary Counseling LLC Senior Helpers of Reading Stubbs Insurance Associates, Inc. Stubbs Inc. Cleaning Services Veterans Multi-Service Center APRIL 2023 – JUNE 2023 FEBRUARY 2023 – MARCH 2023 25 YEARS David W. Rohrbach Service Access & Management, Inc. The Heritage of Green Hills 30 YEARS Clover Hill Vineyards & Winery MGS Insurance Agency, LLC Berks Business Education Coalition Brenntag North America, Inc. 35 YEARS Opportunity House 40 YEARS Berks Encore Easter Seals Eastern Pennsylvania CQ Interested in becoming a part of the Greater Reading Chamber Alliance? Contact Jackie Stiles at firstname.lastname@example.org or 610.898.7785. 46 GreaterReadingChamber.org Member News: New Members & Anniversaries *Research from the Association of Chambers of Commerce Executives (ACCE) Did you know?
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When Schuylkill River Greenways wanted help with the preservation and revitalization of the river and a 120-mile trail alongside it, they looked to Tompkins because of our shared commitment to traditional values and economic innovation. tompkinsbank.com I
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