Commerce Quarterly Summer 2016

Page 1

Greater Reading Chamber


Ellen Albright, Editor


201 Penn St., Suite 501, Reading, PA 19601 • 610.376.6766

6 Cover Stor y

The opinions expressed in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

As the business voice of Greater Reading, the Chamber leads the business community, as the economic driver, to a vibrant community.

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 entrepreneurs strive.

Attracting & Retaining Local Top Talent

26 Small Business Matters

Branding Your Business in a Competitive Market: Small Business Success in Greater Reading

34 Chamber Business Awards Celebrating Berks Business

Top Performers!

Effective Leadership 40 C-T-H…A Business Culture

That Works, When You Work It


Promoting Growth Within: Lead Worker Certification


In Your Community 15 Community Health Needs

Assessment—What’s Next?


Destination Analysis One Year Later


Berks County Has a New Story


Penn Street Market is Back for 2016


Ellen Horan: Onward & Upward


Your One Stop Shop GRCCI, GBDF, & GREP are joining forces to provide services across the spectrum!

Business & Community Advocacy 54 Overtime is Money:

educational programs/alliances.

Are You Ready for the Latest Mandate on Business?

involvement in education partnerships.


Take the Road Less Traveled— Consider Commuter Options!

» Develops employees through training and » Prepares tomorrow’s workforce with our » 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 • 610.685.0914



Letter From the Former President

13 Entrepreneur’s Corner Denny Lorah,

Denny’s Electric Service

38 Volunteer Spotlight 57 Upcoming Events 58 Member News 62 Member Spotlight

32 Summer 2016

Jon Scott, Ellen Horan & Ed Swoyer

On the Cover: HR Professionals (left to right) Russell Showers, Debra Antol, Jerry Simcik, and Ashley Fehnel are always looking to welcome talent to their local, thriving organizations! Read more on page 6. For Advertising Opportunities: call 610.685.0914 Ext. 1 Read Commerce Quarterly Magazine Online at Brittany Fry, Graphic Designer

Photo Left: Former President/CEO, Ellen Horan – GRCCI, Former President/ CEO, Jon Scott – GREP, and Ed Swoyer, President – GBDF have worked together under one umbrella on many issues for some time. Read more about their tenure working together in the center-spread! Cover, center spread & select additional photos provided by: Dave Zerbe Studio of Photography

letter from the former 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 Dietz, Associate Publisher & Editor, Reading Eagle Maryann Egolf, General Manager, FM Brown Stephen Horvat, Partner, Baker Tilley 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, Senior VP, CFO, Boscov’s Pete Molinaro, President, Adhesion Biomedical Craig Poole, GM, Doubletree Hotel David Roche, President, Roche Electric Dave Roland, Regional President, Susquehanna Bank Mark Schlott, Executive VP of Operations/COO, RM Palmer Stayce Schlouch Rowlands, Schlouch Incorporated Alan Shuman, President, Shuman Development

OW! What a great ride it has been! I want to thank the Berks County community for welcoming me some 20 years ago to serve as a community catalyst—first, as the head of the Manufacturers Association of Berks County (MABC) and then as head of the Greater Reading Chamber of Commerce & Industry. From the manufacturers, I learned the meaning of productivity and adding value. I also came to better appreciate the value of education, continuous learning and skill development. MABC was committed to developing members’ employees by cultivating better management and communication skills. I am very proud to say those values have been sustained through the merger with the Chamber. The training continues, and the partnerships in our community to build a workforce pipeline remain a priority. From the Chamber members, I have learned the significance of entrepreneurial spirit and the role that business can play in community development. The Chamber’s small business members are some of the most generous individuals I have ever met. They understand that growing a business is not just about sales. It is about building networks and giving before looking to receive. I have also very much appreciated the role I have been encouraged to play in promoting the growth of our community. Business people get that their success is tied to the success of the community. Partnerships with government, education and business have been formed and leveraged to help move the community forward. The work of the Chamber will surely continue as the Chamber, Greater Reading Economic Partnership and Greater Berks Development Fund is united into one organization. We have strong volunteers and Board of Director members that will shepherd the process. And, we have a strong and committed staff. We have gained some new faces over the past year, so check out the stellar lineup on page 44. We thought it appropriate to give you a run-down of what each of the three organizations does so you can appreciate the value that will be added with a combined entity. I have formally passed the baton to Karen Marsdale, Senior Vice President, who will serve as Interim President and CEO through the merger process. She has taken on progressive responsibility over her eighteen years at the Chamber and will provide very capable leadership throughout the transition. Thank you for the opportunity to serve and to lead. It has been a wonderful professional and personal experience.

Bruce Smith, President Central Region, National Penn Bank

Onward and upward!

Justin Spannuth, COO, Unique Pretzel Bakery Sara Stump, Director, Sales and Marketing, Suburban Testing Labs Rich Tinsman, Carpenter Technology Lauren Tobiassen, Area President Central PA, Wells Fargo

Ellen T. Horan Ellen T. Horan, Outgoing President, CEO

Greater Reading Chamber of Commerce & Industry

Scott Vaughn, President, The Standard Group 4  COMMERCE QUARTERLY   SUMMER 2016

cover story

Attracting & Retaining Local Top Talent

Susan Shelly

ost business leaders recognize the   challenges of finding and keeping great talent, and those challenges are expected to become even more pronounced as workplaces continue to evolve. Baby Boomers continue to retire in great numbers as Millennials begin to flood the workforce. Experts warn that, as this occurs, employers will need to assess the tools they have in place for attracting and retaining excellent employees whose expectations are likely to vary significantly from those of previous generations. Millennials—those born between 1981 and 1997—already represent the largest segment of the workforce, according to the Pew Research Center, and their numbers will continue to increase.

ing age demographic, they also must face fierce competition for employees from job markets in surrounding counties, including Philadelphia, Allentown, and Lancaster. We spoke with some area employers and human resource directors to find out more about the challenges they face and the steps they are taking to attract, hire, and retain excellent employees within their workplaces. Here’s what they had to say.

Ashley Fehnel

Human Resources Manager at Distributed Systems Services, Inc. Distributed Systems Services, Inc. (DSS Corp.) provides IT solutions and consulting for clients in many business sectors, and attracting and hiring top-rate employees can be a challenge in a field in which employee demand is high.

Baseline incentives like competitive salaries, health and other insurance benefits, adequate paid time off, and 401(k) or other employee-sponsored retirement savings plans remain important to younger workers. “With the larger Philadelphia job market However, they also place significant value being so close, it can be challenging to attract on flexible work schedules, the ability to candidates to work in Berks County,” said work from locations other than the office, Ashley Fehnel, human resources manager at a collaborative work culture, bosses who the Wyomissing-based company. act as mentors, autonomy, and the ability to make a difference. DSS Corp. works to overcome that challenge by setting itself apart from local competition As employers in the Berks County region by offering competitive salaries and benefits, face the challenges of dealing with that chang- flexibility, and career growth opportunities. 6  COMMERCE QUARTERLY   SUMMER 2016

This is particularly important as the company looks to hire younger professionals with current educational and training credentials to complement its more tenured employees. “Young workers definitely want a different kind of benefits package,” Fehnel said. “A salary and medical benefits are no longer enough.” DSS responded to the wishes of its younger employees by adding a work-from-home policy to its benefits package and instituting a community service initiative that allows employees to volunteer during work hours. “Our younger employees care a great deal about community improvement and so do we,” Fehnel said. The company works to maintain a collaborative workforce by implementing projects that involve several departments. It also added

Employee Recruitment Tip — Family First! an on-the-spot recognition program that recognizes employees in front of their peers. “We’ve had to get creative with our benefit offerings, but it’s worth it because it will help us to get and keep great employees,” Fehnel said. “As an innovative IT company we know we need to stay current and fresh in order to be relevant.”

Jerry Simcik

Director of Human Resources at SFS Intec, Inc. A manufacturer of industrial and construction fasteners located in Wyomissing, SFS Intec, Inc. has in place a structured employee development program, in which employees identified as fast trackers are mentored and trained so they can advance within the company. “This lets us capitalize on developing these valuable employees,” said Jerry Simcik, director of human resources. “We put a lot of emphasis on education and on working with our employees to help them advance.” About 70 percent of open positions are filled from within the company, which Simcik said encourages workers to remain on board.

We thought it may be helpful to suggest K-12 education as a strong factor when looking to make a difference for prospects considering the Greater Reading area in their job search. If you need more insights or detail about any of the following highlights, feel free to contact the Berks County Intermediate Unit or any of the 18 fine area school districts.

Superior Education Opportunities for K-12 Students

“Preparing today’s students for the workforce of tomorrow is a vision embraced by all Berks County school districts as they work with local businesses, non-profit organizations, and higher education institutions to provide high quality programs and services for all students. “In addition to outstanding general education and special education offerings, all schools are committed to delivering a variety of value-added experiences designed to ensure each student is prepared to succeed in both college and career. Berks County is fortunate to have schools and partners who recognize the investment in superior education is critical to the future economic success of the community.”

– Dr. Jill Hackman, Executive Director – Berks County Intermediate Unit (BCIU) Examples of Value-Added Programming Across Berks County School Districts:

Career & College Readiness Events • Young Mens’ and Young Womens’ Leadership Conferences • College Visitation for 9th Grade Students • Students Interacting with Businesses for 9th and 10th Grade Students

K-12 Career Education and Work Development Programs & Activities • • • •

Career Awareness & Exploration Programs Career Days Transition Services Job Shadowing

• Internships • Mentorships • Apprenticeships

K-12 Services for Advancement of All Learners • Enrichment • Acceleration

• Honors and AP courses • Dual Enrollment

Student Competitions

“People typically don’t want to leave their jobs if things are going well and there’s room for them to move up,” he said.

• • • •

In addition, SFS offers competitive salaries and a very strong healthcare plan, and puts emphasis on helping employees achieve a work/life balance.

Arts Programs

“We have a pretty liberal approach to making sure we keep life and work in the proper perspective,” Simcik said.

• Inside Berks Business Educator Internship • Berks Agricultural Resource Network (BARN) Fair • Manufacturing Day

• • • •

Academic Challenge K’NEX Design Competition Governors PA STEM Competition Science Olympiad

K-12 Art and Music Programs Artists in Residency Secondary Art Exhibit Fast Lane Art Exhibit

• What’s So Cool about Manufacturing Video Competition • You Be the Chemist • Middle & High School Computer Fairs • Academic WorldQuest Competition

• Music in the Schools Program • Discovery Concerts • YNOT Awards

Career & Technical Center Programs Continued on page 8

• Business and Information Technology, Graphic • Berks County Technical Academy Communications, Construction, Engineering • Careers in Two Years and Manufacturing Technology, Health Science, Personal Services, Transportation   7

cover story continued…

Debra Antol

Human Resources & Safety Manager at Sweet Street Desserts Sweet Street Desserts is committed to hiring employees who are leaders in their fields of expertise, and is willing to invest in its workers with competitive salaries, excellent benefit plans, and continuing education opportunities, said Debra Antol, human resources and safety manager. “When we hire, we want to hire the best employees who are a good fit for our culture and we put a lot of effort into the entire process to assure that,” Antol said. Once on board, the goal is to get employees assimilated and working at their highest levels. Sweet Street, which is headquartered in Reading, offers many opportunities for training and development, explained Antol, including tuition reimbursement. Employees who take advantage of those opportunities may be advanced within the company.


“When we can fill a position from within the ranks it’s always a good option,” Antol said. “There are times, however, when a new skill set is needed or we feel that experiences outside of our organization would be of benefit, so then it’s necessary to look outside of the company.”

“We have a lot of positions that are entry level, but we also need to hire some people who can fill certain specialties,” said Tauber, president. “As we grow, yes, we’ll be able to find talent, but we’re going to have to try a little harder.” That means employing broad searches and seeking referrals, Tauber explained.

The company continually reviews and updates its interviewing and assessment process in order to keep current with hiring, she noted.

“We use online talent pools and often depend on referrals from our employees,” he said.

Ira Tauber

The company has recruited talent from Allentown, Lancaster, Montgomery County, Chester County, and other locations.

President of TRIOSE, Inc. TRIOSE, Inc., a Wyomissing-based company that specializes in healthcare logistics management, is challenged with finding employees who possess very specific skill sets necessary for specialized positions in advanced logistics and information technology.

Once on board, TRIOSE works to cultivate and retain employees with an internship program that enables them to explore other jobs within the company. In keeping with its goal of giving back, TRIOSE encourages employees to get involved in their communities by giving them one paid hour off a week for volunteer work.

When hiring any employee, TRIOSE looks first at whether the person will fit with and support the company’s mission, vision, and values—the basis for its company culture. “Our culture is very strong,” Tauber said. “We have a purpose-driven culture and we are a purpose-driven company.”

Brian Levan

President and CEO of Levan Machine & Truck Equipment Maintaining a family atmosphere has helped Levan Machine & Truck Equipment to attract and keep excellent employees, said Brian Levan, a third-generation family member who serves as president and CEO. “It’s a family business with a family culture,” Levan explained. “We have a culture of ‘you care about me, and I’ll care about you.’” As a result, the rate of turnover is very low. “Of course we have to work at hiring and it sometimes can be an issue,” Levan said. “But, once we find the right people, we work hard to keep them. And generally, the core group of people does not leave.” The company, located in Fleetwood, has cultivated a relationship with Pennsylvania College of Technology, Williamsport. That results in prospective employees who have the education they need and can be trained further once they are hired. Employees are encouraged to take time off to attend family and school events, and there have been occasions when an employee has taken leave time to care for a sick child or parent. “But, nobody takes advantage of those types of situations,” Levan said. “Working in that kind of atmosphere gets workers engaged, and once they’re engaged, the ideas start to flow.” The company, which is celebrating its 80th anniversary this year, has no plans to change its culture. “I’m very proud of our crew of workers and I think they’re proud to be associated with us,” Levan said. “And that’s nice way to work.”

Kristi Gage-Linderman

ability to help those in our community find work, as well as our ability to help companies hire their next great employee.”

Kristi Gage-Linderman, executive vice president of West Reading-based Gage Personnel, has a unique perspective on hiring and retaining employees, as she deals with those processes both for her own company and for other businesses.

When it comes to locating, hiring and keeping their own great employees, GageLinderman said they look for team players with positive attitudes. Once on board, there often are opportunities for advancement.

Executive Vice President of Gage Personnel

“We’re more than just a staffing firm,” GageLinderman said. “We pride ourselves on our

Continued on page 10   9

cover story continued…

“Gage believes in promoting growth from within,” Gage-Linderman said. “Several of our team members have been promoted into management and senior roles.” While finding the right employees can be challenging when competing with markets outside of Berks County, Gage-Linderman said her company does not have trouble finding local talent to fill positions. And, she said, as Greater Reading becomes increasingly known as a desirable place to live and work, it should become easier for employers who do need to look outside the area for talent. “When you couple the arts, education and culture that we have here with the great education system and our cost of living, people are realizing that this is a great place to live, work and socialize,” she said. “As the community continues to grow and thrive, our area will continue to become more attractive to potential employees who are considering opportunities in our region.”


Russell Showers

Once an employee is in place, the organization focuses on providing opportunities for growth and advancement within.

The healthcare industry faces some particular challenges when it comes to attracting, hiring and retaining employees, but Reading Health System takes pains to make itself an attractive place to work, said Russell Showers, Vice President of Human Resources.

“We actively invest in employee development by offering a very generous educational assistance program that is widely used by employees,” Showers said. “We also have specific professional development programs for targeted clinical positions, and offer robust leadership development programs for leaders of all levels.”

Vice President of Human Resources at Reading Health System

That includes offering a very competitive compensation program that rewards performance through an annual merit increase program, generous wellness benefits for employees who participate in identified healthy lifestyle activities, flexible work schedules, a generous educational assistance program, onsite childcare, and other employee benefits, Showers said. The West Reading-based health organization conducts an annual market analysis of its pay structure to ensure that salaries remain current within the healthcare market. Salaries at risk of falling behind are adjusted to current levels.

Those opportunities, he said, enable staff members to keep advancing within the organization and find a fulfilling career. Nearly 10 percent of Reading Health System employees have been promoted every year since 2013. And, although Reading can’t compete with salaries that workers in comparable positions would receive in the Philadelphia healthcare market, employees fare just as well or perhaps even better because the cost of living is less in our area, there is no cost to park, and no city wage tax, Showers noted.

entrepreneur’s corner

Denny’s Electric Service

{A Division of UGI HVAC Enterprises, Inc.}

A Conversation with

Denny Lorah, General Manager Ellen Albright, Greater Reading Chamber

T Denny’s Electric was founded in 1987 by Dennis Lorah, who remains with the business today

as General Manager and has more than 30

years’ experience in the electrical construction and service field. Denny’s Electric is a full-

service electrical contractor providing quality

workmanship and superior service to residential, commercial and industrial customers throughout southeastern Pennsylvania. Located on the

outskirts of Reading in Berks County, Denny’s knowledgeable and courteous technicians are

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. Denny Lorah, GM of Denny’s Electric Service, a division of UGI HVAC Enterprises, Inc., has truly embodied the entrepreneurial spirit throughout his career—from learning a trade, to building a business, taking advantage of opportunities, and ultimately knowing when the right time was to sell. Read the full conversation below between Commerce Quarterly and Denny Lorah—Denny’s Electric Service. Denny Lorah has been a staple in the Berks County community for quite some time. While his business is best known for quality work, and outstanding service in the electrical construction and service field, many of our readers may also know Denny as the President of the Berks County Parrot Head Club, a 200+ member club that raises funds and awareness for dozens of non-profit agencies across Berks. No matter the project, whether it be business or volunteer related, it seems that if Denny has poured his passion into it, there is no doubt the outcome will be successful! Having experienced the full life-cycle of his business, we believe Denny’s story is an example of how, as he has said himself, “Dreams really do come true.”

dedicated to providing their customers with the finest electrical contracting service available. Denny's Electric is a division of

UGI HVAC Enterprises, Inc.. UGI HVAC

Enterprises, Inc. is owned by UGI Corporation.

EA: Denny—Why did you start your business in Berks? DL: Berks County was and is my home. I graduated from Governor Mifflin

High School, and started my business one block away.

EA: What motivated you to start your business? DL: My dad was self-employed, believed in Capitalism and often repeated

to me, “If you are going to make money, why not make it for yourself?”


EA: What might someone be surprised to know about your business? DL: I started with no money while living in a friend’s basement. Even

at this lowest point in my adult life, I still believed in my ability to someday be successful.

EA: As a small business owner, that had to be a rather challenging time! What is one thing you wish you had known before you started? DL: That mistakes and setbacks are part of the learning process and

eventually make you stronger.

EA: I’m sure it was hard to remain motivated when those setbacks and mistakes were right in front of you presenting challenges. How did you create a vision that kept you on track? DL: Three things: Remain self-motivated, maintain self-discipline, and

always work hard.

EA: What do you find unique about your line of work? DL: I wish more parents and students would understand the value of

learning a trade, and realize not everyone needs to attend college. When I retire I would like to speak to as many groups as possible to educate families on opportunities in the construction trades.

EA: Workforce gaps are such a huge trend and concern right now, especially in the area of trade-oriented fields. Elaborating on that, what did you learn about yourself as a business owner in this field that you’d be willing to share with someone who may be considering the field? DL: I learned very quickly the value

of learning/mastering a trade, received my Master License at an early age, and realized that you can be successful without a college education.

One of my most memorable experiences as an entrepreneur was being featured in the “No College No Problem” article in the Reading Eagle in 2002, which promoted Berks County Vo-Tech student success stories such as mine. College is not the only answer, and you can live the American Dream without going the “traditional college route.” Continued on page 14   13

entrepreneur’s corner continued…

EA: What a great message! As your business grew over the years, what is some of the best business advice you received from a mentor or peer?

DL: The process of selling the business is as challenging as starting a

business. I think you first need to develop an exit strategy which must include any family interests in taking it over. Then there are several questions you must answer. Am I ready to sell? What is the fair market value of my company? Accounts and acquisitions experts will help you determine that. Is the timing right, and (I believe) knowing the next step in your life is important. Do I need a cash sale or a payout over time? What non-compete agreement and how long of an employment or consulting agreement will I accept?

DL: To be honest and straightforward, and to always try to hire employ-

ees that are smarter than I am. Focus on quality work and provide outstanding customer service.

EA: On the topic of hiring top talent—what is one tip you can offer? DL: Never discount your gut feeling no matter how technically qualified

the applicant is. Personality and people skills are equally as important to representing your company, not to mention the integrity required to retain customers and grow the business.

EA: At what point (as your business matured), did you realize that you were ready to make a transition and consider selling? For many business owners, it is very difficult to gage when it is “time” to put their succession plan into effect, whether it be selling, transitioning leadership, or other. Please elaborate on your experience.


For the record, I was not ready to sell when approached by UGI HVAC Enterprises and thought I was too young. After saying no several times, I realized I had no true exit plan myself. My children made it clear they were not interested in the electrical business. After some emotional soul searching and understanding the opportunity to sell to a large, well-respected company like UGI might not come around again—I said yes. I signed a three-year employment contract, but was unsure if I would survive in the corporate world. Ten years later, I remain the General Manager at Denny’s Electric, a division of UGI HVAC Enterprises, Inc. I have to admit that selling my company at that time was a great decision. Dreams really do come true.

in your community

Community Health Needs Assessment

Update Provided By: Desha Dickson, Reading Health System—Berks County Health Collaborative

n July 2015, area partners formed the Berks County Health This will include gathering additional community feedback, as well Collaborative to conduct a comprehensive community health needs as researching best practices and initiatives in similar communities. assessment (CHNA). Those partners include: Penn State Health St. The implementation plan will be available to the community in Joseph, Berks Community Health Center, Berks County Community November of this year. Do you have ideas on how to make our Foundation, United Way of Berks County and Reading Health community healthier? If so, we welcome you to join one of the System. The purpose of the assessment was to gather current statis- community workgroups that will be formed in the coming months. tics and qualitative feedback on the key health issues facing county residents. The assessment examined a variety of health indicators In the meantime, we encourage you to promote wellness in your including chronic health conditions, access to health care and social work place. Here are a few tips to get started: determinants of health. 1. Promote Preventative Care: Encourage employees to get a flu shot. Consider hosting a flu clinic. After reviewing the research and listening to feedback from the community, the CHNA advisory committee prioritized the community’s key issues in the following way: 2. Encourage Exercise: Promote walking clubs, secure space for bike parking, offer discounts for gym memberships.

3. Host Educational Workshops: Use the lunch hour to help employees learn about developing healthy habits. Cover topics such as: cooking healthy meals, stress management, eating out, etc.

The completed community health needs assessment can be accessed by visiting any of the partner’s websites. The next step in the assessment process is to develop an implementation plan that will address the prioritized key health issues.

4. Offer Healthy Snack Alternatives: Check the vendor machines! Consider replacing soda with juice or sparkling water. Include nuts, dried fruit, etc. Encourage healthy lunch options at catered work functions.


in your community

Destination Analysis One Year Later Crystal Seitz, President, Greater Reading Convention & Visitors Bureau


can remember hearing over and over again, “not another study,” when the Greater Reading Convention and Visitors Bureau (GRCVB) was looking for funding to understand new opportunities for our destination status. It seems that in Berks County, we sometimes have a habit of doing studies/analyses and then let them sit on a shelf, or at least that is what most people perceive. I’m here to tell you that isn’t the case, especially with the Destination Marketing Analysis released in March 2015, or with the Sasaki Brookings study done in 2006. I’ve been involved with both studies and recognize there has been progress. Both studies are cited often for next steps in reinvigorating downtown or improving our area as a tourism destination.

Sasaki Brookings—

Tourism Study Outcome

The Penn Corridor Concept—Since 2006, people have come to know Penn Street and Penn Avenue as the “Penn Corridor.” The community recognized, both then and now, how critical this two mile stretch is to the success of our city and county. The Penn Corridor Board (which has since dissolved) worked tirelessly to help market the Corridor, create and enhance events on the Corridor, and found the dollars necessary to make change happen. A few outcomes included increased signage, new benches for Penn Street, kiosks along Penn Street with wayfinding signs and map information, a branding campaign to accompany the efforts, and increased awareness efforts to boost event attendance on the Corridor—Mid Day Cafes I want to share with you what has hap- for example. pened to date (in less then 1,000 words) with each study’s findings from a tourism Other exciting enhancements to the perspective. Remember, these studies are to Corridor include the opening of The be used by ALL in our communities, not just DoubleTree by Hilton Reading in December the organizations that secure the finances to 2015, which has complemented the traffic of have them done. They help Berks County the many events being held at the Santander set direction for improvement and change Arena; creating a holistic downtown expeacross many the spectrum. rience. Not to mention, the hotel has also


opened up the GRCVB’s ability to host larger meetings/conventions with a 209-room hotel in the heart of downtown. These large meetings help to fill our restaurants, entertainment attractions and shops throughout the area! During this transformational time, others are showing interest (and buying property!) on the Corridor in hopes of creating the same synergies and development. And, at the other end of the Corridor, you will find the complex housing the Works, Bldg24, Slick Willy’s, and Ballocity—an entire destination in itself! There is certainly not a lack of excitement along this two-mile stretch, running straight through the heart of our region.

Zeitgeist Consulting—

Destination Marketing Analysis

Tourism provides more than $1 billion in economic impact to Berks County—which is nothing to sneeze at! So, why wouldn’t we want to work to bring more new money (visitor money) into our community, especially when our neighbors are seeing twice as much in impact dollars!? Here’s what has happened in one year to work towards that goal: Niche Markets. The analysis told us to

focus on our niche markets, defined as arts/ culture and outdoor recreation. As a result, the GRCVB is doing just that. We’ve directed our marketing dollars into digital and social media, with banner advertising and boosts to our messages on outdoor recreation sites and arts/cultural sites. These sites connect us directly to our niche market enthusiasts within a three hour drive time of Reading. Note: There is $73 billion spent on outdoor activities in NJ, NY and PA. Let’s see if we can continue to drive that number upward! The International Mountain Biking Ride Center certified Reading, PA as a Bronze Ride Center in August 2015. Reading is one of 37 centers in the world and the only one in the Northeast region of the USA. That impressive designation will draw visitors from all over the world to experience our unique outdoor recreational trail treasure-trove! It is likely you have already seen more people riding our trails! This huge accomplishment comes with thanks to Berks Area Mountain Biking Assocation, a group of folks who embraced the challenge of scoring enough points to be

considered for this prestigious certification. To main attraction. This would create lots of support them in their mission, they asked the opportunity for visitors to stay more than Greater Reading Trails Committee to help— just a day or night. The Berks CountryFest including Berks Nature, GRCVB, Berks took this advice to heart and has moved from County Parks and Recreation Department, a few days to two weeks. They’ve included ReDesign Reading and many other countless other community events and festivals under volunteers and individuals. As a team effort, their umbrella, creating a full schedule of all of Berks County won with this designa- activities for two weeks of theatre, music, tion! To boost trail use activity, trail maps, food, art and so much more. brochures, and webpages for hiking & biking have been developed and made available on Revisiting the Destination Brand. the GRCVB Outdoor Adventure webpage. Interestingly—the analysis noted that we We also look forward to creating a fishing are like an unfinished canvas to many vispage that will include all the great things itors. People don’t know much about the local fisherman can take advantage of, as Reading area or have never thought of it as well as an FYI section for them! a getaway destination. A guest’s intention to visit is much lower than our competitive set Arts and Culture includes focus- because individuals haven’t learned enough ing on Festivals! The GRCVB’s mar- about Reading. So how do we fix that? We keting efforts have also shifted to work on continue to market and refine our strategies. growing these festivals. To boost awareness, So far at the GRCVB, we have embarked we tout our unique culinary and cultural on additional research to further define our festivals by way of our bi-monthly visitor visitors’ hobbies, ages, interests and locations newsletters, outreach to travel writers and via that pair well with outdoor recreation and social media just to name a few. The analysis arts/culture. We have further defined counties suggested working to grow the festivals by throughout the East Coast with like-minded adding events prior to, and also after, the residents, and plan to target strategically with

our limited marketing dollars. The GRCVB is also looking at how we re-brand the area as a destination, but more on that in the future. Funds to market. The analysis noted

our strong need to generate more dollars to use for marketing, as we are not even close to our competition of Lancaster, Hershey/ Harrisburg, Valley Forge, Lehigh Valley and Chester. In fact, our budgets are 50 to 200% lower than those mentioned. However, the GRCVB continues to explore opportunities to build its marketing corpus. Advertising sales/sponsorships are truly our core means to build upon, beyond the 20% of the 100% collected hotel tax received. We are in pursuit of finding a steady, stable stream of income to enable TV and additional digital buys. Both of these mediums cost considerable dollars that aren’t available right now. Overall, 2016 looks promising as we focus on the recommendations of the Destination Analysis. We will continue to send targeted messages out to encourage visitors and future employees/employers alike that there is no place like our home—Greater Reading, PA.


in your community

Has a New Story

Above, Right: The 2015 Downtown Alive! Concert Series brought large crowds to downtown Reading. Photo Credit: Matt Christine

Jason Brudereck, Director of Communication, Berks County Community Foundation

erks County is an appealing place to live for practical,

rational reasons.

Home prices lower than neighboring communities and an unemployment rate that is lower than the state and national averages make for a strong argument to locate here. “In Berks County, you have the ability to raise a family in a county that has an affordable cost of living, strong sense of community, and richness of diversity,” one respondent said when polled as part of Vital Signs, a community indicators report commissioned by Berks County Community Foundation. But, with its burgeoning arts scene and breathtaking landscapes, Berks also has a romantic appeal. 18  COMMERCE QUARTERLY   SUMMER 2016

“There’s a new story emerging about our community,” said Kevin K. Murphy, Community Foundation president. “It’s not about what we’ve lost, but what we’re building. Our new story involves a revitalized urban core of our community, with the bustling excitement of West Reading spilling into downtown Reading.” The vast majority of people in Berks County enjoy living here. Vital Signs found that 91 percent of community leaders and 71 percent of community members believe the quality of life in Berks is excellent or good.

Since Vital Signs was first published in 2014, several aspects that it investigated have been further researched and updated. For instance, the quality of education was deemed favorable both in 2014 and in a recent update. The Public K-12 Education Report, which is available at www.bccf. org, found encouraging signs that the kindergarten-through-graduation experience measures up to state and national expectations. The reports are produced for the foundation by the O’Pake Institute for Ethics, Leadership & Public Service at Alvernia University. Most Berks districts have about 80 percent of students scoring proficient or above on the state achievement tests in math and reading. The districts scoring the lowest in these tests have poverty rates above 15 percent. The report states that significant demographic forces are changing the face of basic education in Berks County. Latino populations in many school districts have increased greatly, in some cases offsetting what would have otherwise been substantial decreases in student population. Increasing poverty is affecting districts across the county, said Tania Hollos, an institute staff member who compiled the report. At the same time, the disparity in per pupil instructional spending appears to be growing and the special education population also is increasing. “Despite these challenges, Berks County school districts in general match up well with their state and national peers in terms of high school graduation rates, college attendance rates and student achievement tests,” said R. David Myers, institute director. Almost three-quarters of students at Berks County’s public schools plan to head off to college, a slightly higher percentage than the state average of 69.5 percent, according to Vital Signs.

by an influx of individuals with advanced degrees from outside of the United States. “The issue may be whether or not Berks County has experienced a sufficient ‘brain gain,’” Myers said. Young professionals used to migrate to where jobs are, said former Maryland Gov. Parris N. Glendening, president of Smart Growth America’s Leadership Institute. But now, Glendening said during a recent forum in Reading to discuss improving the local economy, young professionals often choose where to live before looking for a job there. Several initiatives are ongoing as a way to attract and retain young professionals to the area. Continued on page 20

Another Vital Signs update this year took a close look at publicly-available data to determine whether young, educated Berks County residents are leaving our community in great numbers. “The evidence seems to indicate that in general, Berks County is not suffering a ‘brain drain,’ meaning that it is not losing young, more educated residents,” the report says. “There is a modest outflow of individuals with graduate or professional degrees, but the data doesn’t allow us to determine if these are young adults under 35, or older county residents, including those electing to retire elsewhere. And interestingly, some of that loss has been offset   19

in your community continued…

Among them is the free Downtown Alive! outdoor concert series (beginning June 22 this year— Other initiatives include more arts programming and festivals on Penn Street in Reading and continued improvements to the charm of the shops and restaurants in West Reading. The Penn Street Market has expanded at Fifth and Penn streets and a vibrant dirt bike track for the community has energized the 900 block of Penn Street. Both of those projects are thanks to ReDesign Reading (CRC), which also oversees the Reading Bike Hub. Every year, the Greater Reading Young Professionals group (GRYP) raises money for a fund it has at the Community Foundation. Last year, GRYP steered grants toward West Reading’s Cherry Street Mural Corridor, ReDesign Reading’s work with its dirt bike track, and Berks Area Mountain Biking Association’s Mount Penn Preserve trail-mapping project to enhance the Reading area as a mountain biking destination and to promote 125 miles of beautiful urban trail systems to both local and out-of-town users. Boyertown, Hamburg and Kutztown have also embarked on sustained efforts to make themselves into destinations. Those efforts include festivals and unique attractions, such as the Colebrookdale Railroad in Boyertown.


Berks is also now home to events that appeal both to young people and families living here and to those from outside the area. For instance, there’s the Taste of Hamburg-er Festival and The Reading 120, which will both be held in September. The food festival draws tens of thousands of visitors and the international cycling competition is staking a claim as the greatest one-day road race in all of the Americas. “For too long, our community’s accepted story was about decay, deterioration and the demise of specific industries,” said Murphy, the Community Foundation president. “It was a story we told ourselves so often that we believed in it, even after it was no longer the typical experience for visitors,” Murphy added. When Glendening arrived in Berks recently after a five-year gap between visits, he marveled at the new hotel, the activity in the area and a renewed sense of optimism that he felt was palpable. “As an outsider who visits communities around the world, I can tell you that there is more going on in the Reading area than in many other places,” Glendening said.

in your community

Penn Street Market

is BACK for 2016 Lucine Silhelnik, Local Food System Director, Reading ReDesign

enn Street Market, hosted by ReDesign Reading, is back and ready for the 2016 season. There have been many changes made to the market this year to provide the best experience possible for the community. After the success of the first week of the market, we are excited to see what is in store for the rest of the summer. We launched into market season with the Penn Street Market as well as First Friday night market in the beginning of June. Both events offered a comfortable area for all to share their talents, interests and stories with the community. At the market this year, you will also find musical entertainment, craft vendors, live paintings, fresh produce, and baked goods, as well as soaps and beverages.

seating where ongoers may enjoy some food while listening to the music and taking in the market atmosphere around them. There will be a variety of food vendors selling food ready-to-eat at the market including Tropical Bakery, Sweet Ride Ice Cream, Mi Casa Su Casa, Reggie’s Place, Gourmand and Pauline’s Soups, each serving their own unique recipes.

designated area to take the photos with a fun assortment of props for unique and engaging photos. Check out the hashtag on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to see what everyone is posting.

There is also a new collaboration with First Friday celebrations in Downtown Reading. Come down to Penn Street to experience Penn Street Market is excited to announce music, artists, foods, fire performances and the use of SNAP and WIC at the market more on the first Friday of every month. this year. These programs are available to all These celebrations are a great way to get out who sign up prior to the market. In addition and see what the community has to offer. to these programs, a partnership with The We encourage local artists of all mediums Food Trust and Friends of Reading Hospital to reach out to participate in the market, is providing further opportunities for market whether that is live paintings or acoustic goers to get the food they need and want. To musical performances. The night market offers learn more about these spending programs, a safe and inviting environment for families, On the corner of 5th and Penn there is a stop by the information stand at the Penn friends and individuals to come together and celebrate. There will be no shortage of music, stage set up for musicians to perform through- Street Market, Thursdays 10 AM–2 PM. food or memories so be sure to stop by the out the market. These artists come from a variety of musical backgrounds. We will have New to the market this year is an oppor- Penn Street Market Thursdays 10 AM–2 the opportunity to hear traditional Native tunity for community members to get PM, and once a month for a First Friday American music, jam bands and more. We involved with raising money for the mar- night market. currently have a band scheduled for every day ket. Toyota Freedom has offered to donate of the market season to promote an engaging $10 towards the Penn Street Market for For more information about the market, atmosphere at the market. There is room for every selfie taken, posted and tagged with please go to dancing in front of the stage as well as some #FreedomGoesToMarket. There is a   21

in your community

Ellen Horan: Tracy Hoffmann, Hoffmann Publishing Group


ust in case you had not heard, Ellen Horan, former President and CEO, Greater Reading Chamber of Commerce & Industry, has left the Chamber to be with her husband who has taken a position in Indiana. Seems like it was only yesterday when in 2005 the Berks County Chamber of Commerce & Industry (Greater Reading Chamber) Board hired Ellen Horan to be the organization’s president and CEO. The Chamber was embarking on a merger with the Manufacturers Association of Berks County (MABC), and it needed a strong leader who could align the two groups into a singular member organization that would serve the needs of each member base. Ellen was the standing Executive Director of the MABC but it was not a given that she would assume the leadership role in the combined organization. After a national search the Board made an outstanding choice, and the rest is history. She has made her mark on our Chamber and our community, serving with distinction. It’s only fitting that we wish to take the opportunity to reflect on her time at the Chamber and the many contributions she’s made to our community, shared by her many friends and associates who’ve had the pleasure to interact with her in the many aspects of her life and career.

“My first introduction to Ellen Horan was in the 90s while a VP of a local marketing firm. The firm was a member of the Manufacturers Association of Berks County (MABC) and the Berks County Chamber of Commerce. Ellen led MABC and when the effort to merge MABC and the Chamber took place, Ellen stepped into that leadership position. I’ve enjoyed collaborating with Ellen on marketing, training and special events throughout the years. We’ve participated in numerous lobbying efforts locally, in Harrisburg and once even in DC. I will especially remember Ellen’s leadership on Route 222 north and one meeting in Harrisburg early in my first term. The meeting was set up by the late Sen. O’Pake with the then-PA Sec. of Transportation Biehler along with the Chamber and GREP leadership. The Late Merv Heller was one of the spokesmen and Ellen encouraged him to be tough but calm. Merv never had a problem saying what he thought and he had his say that day. Ellen and I both agreed that we were glad Merv was on our team. Ellen will be missed as a local business and community leader, but my wife and I will also miss her as a friend. Jennifer and I wish you and Mike the very best in this next stage of your lives.”

Christian Y. Leinbach, Chairman — Berks County Commissioners

“Intentional and collaborative are two adjectives that come to mind when thinking about Ellen Horan’s exceptional leadership in Berks County. Those who know and work with Ellen realize that she is a driving force in merging the worlds of business and education leaders. Ellen’s collaboration with schools and business partners ensures that the future workforce pipeline is filled with skilled, qualified individuals who will meet the demands of our evolving Berks County community. She intentionally set up conditions that empower students to thrive within leadership opportunities that will prepare them for career success. 22  COMMERCE QUARTERLY   SUMMER 2016

“As John C. Maxell articulated, “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” Ellen has surely exemplified this type of highly effective leadership style in her role as President and CEO of the Greater Reading Chamber of Commerce and Industry. It has been a privilege for the Berks County Intermediate Unit to collaborate and partner with such an exemplary leader as Ellen Horan.”

Dr. Jill M. Hackman, Executive Director—Berks County Intermediate Unit

“Ellen was always very easy to work with and kept her cool, even through some pretty challenging times. One of the things that I really appreciated in Ellen was that she was never afraid to try new things. We instituted a totally new funding method for the Chamber in my first year as chairman, which took a great deal of intestinal fortitude, because there was no guarantee it would work. She demonstrated great leadership qualities during that time. Ellen also built a great team at the Chamber; my time as Chairman was made much easier by all of the support that I received from Ellen and her team. As I have said many times, they did all of the heavy lifting.”

Bert Kramer, Past Greater Reading Chamber Board Chairman

“Ellen has been one of those stalwart community leaders whose default setting is to say “yes.” That makes it hard to say no to her when she calls, and people seldom have. “Ellen had the foresight to lead a merger of the Manufacturers Association and the Chamber with skill and grace. The success of that effort laid the groundwork for the far bigger merger of the Chamber, the Greater Reading Economic Partnership and the Greater Berks Development Fund. Ellen’s leadership within the business community over the past two decades has positioned Berks County to take leaps forward in how we regenerate and renew our local economy. All of us at the Community Foundation have enjoyed our partnership with Ellen and wish her well.”

Kevin Murphy, Berks County Community Foundation

“Ellen has been a great community partner. Under her leadership, the Chamber managed the Capital Campaign Review Process that helped smaller agencies without strong development processes

run successful campaigns. Whenever the community needed support, Ellen was there. Over the years, I can’t count the number of initiatives or task forces we served on together. Ellen was always prepared and always made a difference. Best of luck, Ellen, you will be missed.”

Karen Rightmire, President of The Wyomissing Foundation

“Having had the pleasure of working as Chamber Chair at the time of its merger with the Manufacturers Association, it was good to see Ellen’s role in working to pull the two organizations together. A great move for our community!”

Pat Langiotti, Past Greater Reading Chamber Board Chairman & Interim CEO

Continued on page 24   23

in your community continued…

“Whether she was running the Manufacturers Association or serving as CEO of the Chamber, Ellen was able to be both the consummate professional and down to earth at the same time. She was a quick study with a sharp sense of humor. Her leadership as the co-chair of the Ride to Prosperity effort led to better communication and a greater sense of partnership and collaboration among all that were involved.”

Tom McKeon, Berks County Industrial Development Authority (BCIDA)

“Ellen has been a visionary leader with a keen understanding for how economic development and support for the creation of jobs is also one of the best ways to help people and improve community. Her holistic and collective approach to her work provided an open invitation for collaboration. She has been a strong partner for United Way. Ellen will be missed and we wish her well as she begins a new chapter in Evansville.”

Tammy White, President, United Way of Berks County


“Ellen is a dynamic leader and in her ten years leading the Chamber has worked tirelessly to help Berks County businesses prosper. In my role as Chamber Chair I quickly learned how highly regarded and respected Ellen is in both the Berks business community and the national chamber community. Her efforts in workforce initiatives and advocacy have yielded very positive results for Berks.”

Bob Firely, Herbein + Company, Greater Reading Chamber Board Chairman

“To my friend, business associate, confidant, and at times sounding board—Ellen Horan. You will be truly missed by so many Reading and Berks County employers and their employees. Your dedication to our community has been second to none through countless working hours, always taking the time to listen to everyone’s issues and ideas, pushing to reach goals that seem unattainable, and outstanding professionalism. It goes without saying, you have set the bar high for all. I wish you all the very best with your next career phase and personal endeavors, and know that you will continue to positively impact businesses,

individuals, and their communities through your friendship and impeccable leadership—personally and professionally.”

Mark Schlott, RM Palmer, Chamber Executive Board Member

“Ellen is a wonderful person and I am pleased to provide some words about her. I have known Ellen for many years but have come to know her directly over the past four years in my work with the Berks Business Education Coalition. Whether listening or contributing actively in a group discussion, she is always spot on in articulating the salient, summary points. She brings the same skill set when moderating a panel in a public forum. She expertly keeps the dynamics on track, making sure that each perspective is fairly represented. She famously alerts speakers ahead of time that when she stands up it is time for the windy to set sail! All the best to Ellen. We will miss her.”

Solomon Lausch, Executive Director, Berks Business Education Coalition

“It’s obvious that Ellen and I have worked closely for just over 10 years. That’s a lot of board meetings, Annual Dinners and so much more. You really get to know a person when working as closely as we did and honestly, Ellen was just a great boss and mentor! She has such a sharp brain, a super sense of humor, which came in handy on more than one occasion, and an uncompromising work ethic. Did we always agree on everything, of course not! However, Ellen always gave her staff her time and her energy to make them successful. She gave me a broad platform to do things that many bosses would have been uneasy with (like the creation of Women2Women!). Thank you Ellen for believing in me and those who are passionate about the work! I applaud Ellen for the ability to always see the potential in people, give them room to grow and thrive, and build the team that still keeps the fires burning in the belly here at the Chamber!”

Karen Marsdale, Senior Vice President and Chief Operations Officer, Greater Reading Chamber of Commerce & Industry

“Ellen Horan has done a fantastic job in leading the Greater Reading Chamber of Commerce and Industry for over a decade. She completely understands the interweaving of community development with economic development, and her background in the manufacturing world has been a tremendous asset for many

of our local manufacturers. Ellen has been the co-chair of the Ride to Prosperity effort since 2009, and eight economic development professionals still meet on a regular basis to prioritize economic development efforts and initiatives that can have a significant and positive impact in Berks County. Ellen is a great motivator; a quintessential professional; and a tremendous team player who has consistently looked at the bigger picture to do as much as possible to help make Berks County become the best place it can be.”

Jon Scott, Former President & CEO, Greater Reading Economic Partnership


small business matters

Branding Your Business in a Competitive Market: Small Business Success in Greater Reading Kristi Gage-Linderman, PHR, SHRM-CP, Executive VP—Gage Personnel


RANDING. We hear it all the time, but how often have we recognized its true impact in the world of small business, especially right here in Berks County?

While many businesses find success investing their time and attention on producing quality products and services, many lack the implementation of a long-term brand strategy, which can give businesses an advantage in increasingly competitive markets.

your logo or sign catch people’s attention, or could it use some excitement? If you aren’t sure, it might be time for an update!

For those lacking a brand strategy or for those who don’t know where to begin, I have good news: You don’t need to be a According to Jana Barrett, Branding Your marketing expert to create a brand that peoBusiness for the Next Generation, “branding ple recognize, value and trust. You simply at its most basic level is just the personality need to start with a product or service that of your business. It distinguishes you from you and your employees believe in, define competitors and adds a relatable, human what differentiates your business from your element that customers crave.” (https://www. competitors, and find a way to communicate it (strategically) to the world. Branding in itself is simple if you know how While it’s important for all businesses in you want your business to be perceived by consumers. Is your slogan/tagline memorable today’s market to focus on branding and and does it differentiate your brand from marketing efforts, it’s especially important others, or does it blend in with the rest? Does for small businesses and multi-generational 26  COMMERCE QUARTERLY   SUMMER 2016

businesses to find ways to continue to adapt in order to remain competitive as the market continues to evolve. By connecting with consumers on a deeper level through branding, businesses will have a better chance to share the true value of their products and services while building a long-term relationship with their customers. Whether you’re branding your business for the future, rebranding in order to maintain a competitive edge, or even reinventing your business model completely—local business owners are adapting to today’s market and are creating some amazing brands. Keep up the great work, Berks County!

Check out what some savvy local business owners have done to create trusted brands right here in Berks and beyond!

candidates—and know we can continue to be creative and adapt to successfully support the local business community.


— Gage Personnel

How have you updated your brand to remain relevant and recognizable? After being in business for 30 years, the staffing industry has become increasingly competitive. As industry experts and one of the few locally owned and operated firms, we recently updated our logo and trademarked our new tagline, Staffing Made Simple. By updating our brand into the next generation and through promoting our three divisions, Gage Personnel, Gage Professionals and Gage Hospitality, we have remained competitive in our market. We appreciate the importance of understanding not only our market, but also our clients and

Kristi Gage and her family’s company, Gage Personnel, recognized the need to adapt in a competitive market.


— Barley Mow

What drove you to create your unique brand/business? We were so unhappy in our previous careers and wanted to create a place we loved to go to everyday and to cre-

ate an atmosphere that others craved as well. Craft beer is a passion of ours, obviously. We were determined to design a place where the ambiance matches the sophistication, yet captured the creativity of the beer you are drinking.

Share some background information on how you determined your creative process for branding Barley Mow. We wanted it to be simple and to the point. Classic and timeless. More of a brandmark than an elaborate logo. We wanted to incorporate the components of beer—hops and barley. As soon as we saw our logo, we knew it was the one.

Can you weigh in on the importance of keeping your business relevant in today’s competitive market? You have to be responsive to your market (customer driven). It is so important. If you

Continued on page 28


small business matters continued…

listen to the wants, needs, and cravings of your customers and deliver what they’re asking for—you cannot fail. Being innovative and creative is always our top priority.

How have your marketing and branding efforts positively impacted your business? Staying in touch with our people via social media has had the most positive impact, hands down. Our generation is so in tune with social media and enjoys being in touch with our business. Also, social media allows us as owners to directly communicate with our customers and listen to whatever it is they’d like to share immediately. Local publicity in the newspaper or trade magazines has also been an excellent way to tell the community who you are and what you are all about.

Any other words of wisdom for fellow small businesses? Especially in our industry, things are changing every day. Being responsive to the industry and receptive to changing your current business practice is directly correlated to success.

BRANDING A NATIONALLY RECOGNIZED LABEL — Katie K Active How did you determine to position your brand? We wanted to stand out as an inclusive brand since no one is doing that. They are either in the straight size world or going after plus; almost no one is trying to offer something that goes across the size range. We didn’t want to exclude any group and wanted to be inclusive, since we know most women want to be trendy and feel confident in their clothing, not be separated out because of their size. I looked at what our customers really wanted and who we wanted to be to them. Plus size women just want the same stuff that straight size women want, but in their size. We needed to brand ourselves to show we can fill this need and do a great job of fitting women across the size range.

Can you weigh in on the importance of keeping your business relevant in today’s competitive market? It’s so important to always stay relevant and top of mind, but it can be hard. By consistently doing things, we stay top of mind so when our customer or buyer is ready to purchase, they think of us first. By not “selling” all the time, but by showing our industry knowledge and sharing interesting information or engaging our customers, when they’re ready to purchase or have a need, they think of us first.

How have partnerships benefitted your brand?

Co-Owners Claire Edwards and Peter Starr focus on being responsive to their customers to constantly evolve their brand.


We needed a way to stand out in a very competitive market. The show (Biggest Loser) gave us a lot of credibility since we are a small company aligning with such a big brand. Partnering with the show was a great way for us to show our passion to help women of all sizes feel confident while living an active life. But it also showed our knowledge that all women want to fit in and wear the same trendy items, no matter their size. Everyone wants to feel good.

Katie Kozloff of Katie K Active strategically aligned with bigger brands to gain credibility. Photo Credit: John Secoges

BRANDING ONE OF AMERICA’S FAVORITE FOOD BRANDS — Unique Pretzels What drove you to rebrand your line of products? We needed to stand apart from the competition and not be a “me too” brand but create a “you need us” image.

Share some background information on determining your creative process for rebranding your company? The consumers had questions about our product line meaning we had an identity issue. I had to create branding to tell the consumer who we are, what our product is, and why they should try it.... And I have 5 seconds to tell them.

How do you stay relevant in such a competitive market? If you are not growing you are dying. There is no such thing as staying even. If you are not willing to change and stay relevant to the constantly changing markets your business will be in trouble. You can only stay relevant with change.

How has your rebranding effort positively impacted your business? Our marketing and rebranding has served the exact purpose for why we developed the plan. The message has created a brand image explaining who we are and why we are better than the alternatives... In 5 seconds. Initial sight, initial feel, and initial message are all part of the equation. Quality is secondary to the initial purchase but hugely important to the re-buy and longtime customer.

The customer decision making process has to especially impact your industry—how do you address it? Creating an image that stands out is key. Answering your customers’ questions without them asking is HUGE. And finally, creating a product/service that solves a problem (even if the customer doesn’t necessarily know it’s a problem) is the avenue for opportunity.

Pictured in photo are from left: William P. Spannuth, William J. Spannuth, Justin Spannuth of the Unique Pretzel Bakery family business. Photo Credit: Virtual Farm Creative


are now using that as our main brand, while still playing up JuttBug to some extent.

talking, and it really showed how we are different than others in the market.

What’s the story behind the name?

In a competitive market, how do you stand out?

— JuttBug How did you reinvent JuttBug? We took a couple years off from running JuttBug. During those years we realized that people still talked about the brand “JuttBug” but we wanted a more fresh and relatable name. So, we took a secondary brand that we had used when we had previously put together Seminars and Expos which was “Growth Now” and we

Years ago when we came up with JuttBug, we knew we wanted to start with Seminars and Expos but we wanted to expand into other ventures. So, we literally took a childhood nickname of Justin “Jutt” and the first three letters of Zac’s last name “Bug” and realized that it sounded good, it would get people

The podcast market is extremely flooded, and extremely competitive. We are constantly looking for new ways to expand our audience. It is beyond important to grow week over week to remain relevant. We do

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small business matters continued…

How did you address the necessary change to come up with a new image?

this through Facebook marketing, and other social media outlets. We have also started a YouTube channel where we do a ‘Show After the Show’ to help cross promote the podcast for people who prefer video content.

Since rebranding, how do you feel JuttBug has grown?

The rebrand to JuttBug’s Growth Now Movement has positively impacted JuttBug because it is now relatable to an international scale. It makes us more searchable and more relevant to the market we are in now. Our podcast has been played in 24 countries and 554 cities to date, and I feel that a lot of that was due to the rebrand.

Any last words of wisdom?

Be Your Brand. People see right through you if you’re being phony. Be very selfaware of who you are, who your company is/wants to be, and be true to that.


Justin Schenck and Zac Bugay have rebranded to reach a broader audience.

REBRANDING YOUR IMAGE — It’s A Gift! Talk to us about your experience of rebranding your image. After 40 some years of the Woman’s Exchange being successful, the new generation of customers did not relate to the old name and perceived it as a used/consignment store. The store’s sales and profits were plummeting. A change was critical.

We developed a committee along with an advertising agency and an interior decorator to come up with an “add on” name that would get the correct message across to our potential customers. We wanted our name, signage, and facade to get the message across that we are a mid to high end gift store.

How have the updates positively impacted the store? Since adding the name It’s a Gift! as our D/B/A and doing our exterior and interior “face lift” our sales have increased 50% over the last three years. We have walk in traffic and drive by traffic that previously never noticed our store before. When they see the sign with the new name and the new logo and see the curtains on the outside that add a touch of class to the appearance it definitely brings in the clientele that we are looking for.

Any final suggestions for those considering a rebrand? Embrace change!! Fear of the unknown stops people from moving forward but if you do not keep changing to stay ahead, stagnation can actually put you out of business.

 sys – this can be linked to “systems” of “Managed Water Systems,” which is a tagline, not actually part of the name;  oasys – sounds like water, doesn’t it?  Put it all together for a new word, ProAsys. (Don’t forget, you didn’t know what “Google” was before September 1998!).

How have you bridged the gap between the old name/ brand and the new?

It’s a Gift! embraced change and enjoys a fresh look!


There are a number of options for Water Treatment Service providers in the region. The options range from national companies to very small companies with one or two employees. We have worked hard to connect the ProAsys name to our proven performance and service. Being the primary source of information and solutions for our clients and prospects is critical for us. This can solidify our relationship with a client and allow us to be the first company that a prospect calls when they run into an issue.

— ProAsys Why did you feel a generational rebrand was necessary? We were transitioning ownership of The Keeler Company, Inc. from my father to me in 2012. While “The Keeler Company” was a well-known brand/name in the region where we have been doing business (Eastern PA) for the past 50 years, I felt like we still had a stigma of being a small “mom and pop” operation to those who did not know us. We regularly compete with national companies whose names are very well known. I was looking for a new name that was relevant in a changing marketplace. It was a difficult situation to balance – go after new markets while maintaining the trust of clients who were comfortable with The Keeler Company.

Rebranding is difficult. There is a lot of work that goes into choosing/creating a name and a new logo. However, the overall process of creating a name and logo was really quite fun. Communication with staff and clients is key. Everyone in the company has to be on board. This was especially true for us because, out in the field, every Sales Engineer and Service Technician is the face of ProAsys to our clients. The clients also need to understand that only the name is changing, not the staff, products, service, etc...


 Get a great logo. Place it everywhere.

 Write down your brand messaging. What are the key messages you want to communicate about your brand? Every employee should be aware of your brand attributes.

 Integrate your brand. Branding extends to every aspect of your business--how you answer your phones, what you or your salespeople wear on sales calls, your e-mail signature, everything.

 Create a “voice” for your company that reflects your brand. This voice should be applied to all written communication and incorporated in the visual imagery of all materials, online and off. Is your brand friendly? Be conversational. Is it ritzy? Be more formal. You get the gist.

 Develop a tagline. Write a memorable, meaningful and concise statement that captures the essence of your brand.

 Design templates and create brand standards for your marketing materials. Use the same color scheme, logo placement, look and feel throughout. You don’t need to be fancy, just consistent.

 Be true to your brand. Customers won’t return to you, or refer you to someone else, if you don’t deliver on your brand promise.

So, how did you determine a new name and brand?

 Be consistent. This tip involves all

It evolved from a combination of ideas, starting back in early 2010.

 pro – this is a great prefix and a start to a number of words related to what we do and what we are. Think “professional,” “proven,” “process,” “protect,” “proactive”;


the above and is the most important tip on this list. If you can’t do this, your attempts at establishing a brand will fail. Tim Keeler, second generation of ProAsys, with his mother and father at a recent event.

* https:/ /


Former President & CEO, Greater Reading Economic Partnership

Jon Scott

President at Greater Berks Development Fund

Ed Swoyer

S U M M E R 2016


Tracy Hoffmann, Hoffmann Publishing Group

Under One Umbrella

Leading Through Change

Former President & CEO, Greater Reading Chamber of Commerce & Industry

Ellen Horan


chamber business awards

Berks Business Top Performers! his year marked the Greater Reading Chamber of Commerce & Industry’s 11th annual celebration of top businesses, and the 5th year of honoring exceptional entrepreneurs in the community. Designed to promote and acknowledge top performing companies throughout the Greater Reading region, the Chamber’s Greater Reading Top Businesses and Entrepreneurial Excellence Awards salute those businesses that have achieved superior year-over-year performance as a testament to the strong business climate that exists in Berks County.

  Dick Ehst and Jay Sidhu accept the award for

Number One Greater Reading Top Business in Berks!

The Top Businesses awards celebrates businesses that have annual revenues in excess of one million dollars for the three most recent fiscal years. The Entrepreneurial Excellence awards are geared towards honoring smaller businesses, requiring the company to have revenues exceeding $250,000 in the most recent fiscal year, and an average positive revenue increase over the past three years. To be nominated, companies were required to supply confidential financial statements to either KPMG (Top Businesses) or Herbein + Company (Entrepreneurial Excellence). All awardees were celebrated and recognized at the Chamber’s Annual Dinner, held at the Santander Arena on June 2, 2016, with guest speaker Ann Compton, Legendary ABC News’ White House Correspondent (1973–2014). We celebrate all participants with the following publication of results. We invite you to contact the Chamber if you would like to participate next year.

  Jim Kurtz and the RER team accept the second

place for the 2015 Greater Reading Top Businesses!

  Steve Bright and team members of EJB Paving &

Materials Co. are recognized for placing third for the 2015 Greater Reading Top Business Awards.


  Bob Firely, Chamber Board Chairman, takes the stage to ask LIVE Q&A questions with Legendary ABC News’

White House Correspondent Ann Compton (1973-2014.)

Greater Reading Chamber of Commerce

—Final Ranking

Top Business Award Winners

1 Customer’s Bank Jay Sidhu, Chairman & CEO

16 Weidenhammer John Weidenhammer, President

2 RER Energy Group Jim Kurtz, President

17 Herbein & Co., Inc. Carl Herbein, CEO

3 EJB Paving & Materials Co. Steve Bright, Operations Manager, Vice President

18 Diamond Credit Union John Faust, President/CEO

4 McCarthy Engineering Associates, Inc. Jim McCarthy, President & CEO 5 Triose Inc. Carl Joyner, President 6 Traffic Planning and Design, Inc. Kevin Johnson, President 7 Champion Personnel, Inc. Carl Rudolph, Owner/Gen. Mgr. 8 ProStat Inc. Christina Sullivan, President 9 Reinsel Kuntz Lesher LLP Edward Monborne, CEO 10 DESCCO Design & Construction, Inc. Nick Stoltzfus, President 11 Ronnie C. Folk Paving, Inc. Dustin Folk, President 12 Kozloff Stoudt, P.C. Daniel L. Becker, Esquire 13 Translogistics, Inc. Scott McDevitt, Founder/President 14 Singer Equipment Company, Inc. Fred Singer, President 15 Distributed Systems Services (DSS) Jim Sweeney, President

19 Liquid Interactive, LLC Jim Ludlow, President/CEO 20 Solar Innovations, Inc. Greg Header, President

  Courtney Nein and Conor DeLaney, Good Life Advisor Systems,

receive the Top Entrepreneurial Excellence Award for 2015!*

21 Reading Plastic Machining and Fabrication Tom Funk, President 22 Re/Max of Reading Jack Fry, President 23 Brentwood Industries, Inc. Peter Rye, President 24 East Penn Manufacturing Co. Chris Pruitt, EVP 25 Anewalt’s Landscaping Contracting Ed Anewalt, President

  James Smith, Esq., Smith Law Group, receives his plaque for rank-

ing second place in the Entrepreneurial Excellence Awards.

26 Suburban Testing Labs Rich Stump, President 27 Levan Machine & Truck Equip. Brian Levan, President 28 Fromm Electric Supply Mike Fromm, President 29 Mosteller & Associates Chet Mosteller, President 30 Gateway Ticketing Systems, Inc. Michael Andre, President/CEO

List continued on page 36

  Dave Roche and Chris Roche (father and son team) of Dave Roche Electric,

Inc. were ranked third for the 2015 Entrepreneurial Excellence Awards.

*Note: All awards are based on the previous year’s FY – 2015. Awardees were celebrated at the Chamber’s Annual Dinner on June 2, 2016.


31 Berkshire Psychiatric & Behavioral Health Services, Inc. Dr. Timothy Ring 32 Ethosource LLC John Gallen, President 33 East Coast Erosion Blankets, LLC Diane Hitt, President 34 Weavers Hardware Company Edward Schenk, President 35 Faddis Concrete Products Bob Hess, President 36 Omega Systems Consultants Bill Kiritsis, President 37 Reading Dermatology Associates Amy Hendrix, Treasurer 38 Unique Pretzel Bakery, Inc. William Spannuth, President 39 The Rigg Darlington Group Steven Arbegast, Owner Jeff Darlington, Owner Robert Rigg, Owner 40 DeCarlo Custom Cabinetry Inc. Michael DeCarlo, President


41 B&G Glass Don Moll, President 42 My Dad’s Flooring America Edward Graefe, Owner 43 Kohl Building Products Deb Kearse, VP/Sales & Marketing 44 The Rose Corporation Elaine McDevitt, CEO/COB 45 Santander Arena & Performing Arts Center Dave Farrar, General Manager 46 M.J. Reider Associates, Environmental Testing Labs, Barbara Reider-Coyle, President/Owner 47 RPA Engineering Richard Aulenbach, President 48 Berks Fire Water Restorations, Inc. Ted Lavender, President/CEO 49 Discovery Federal Credit Union Edwin Williams, President/CEO 50 Appeeling Fruit, Inc. Steve Cygan, President/CEO

Entrepreneurial Excellence Award Winners 1

5 CertaPro Painters of Reading Tim & Jill Meade, Owners

9 Rothenberger Insurance Services LLC Ron Rothenberger, Owner

2 Smith Law Group Jim Smith, Founding Member


Wyomissing ATA Martial Arts Lauren Minnich, Owner

10 Salon Eveleila Mindy Burgess, Owner


Dave Roche Electric, Inc. David Roche, President


Wyomissing Hair Studio Cari Nelson, Owner

11 Berks Hearing Professionals Mindy Brudereck, Audiologist


Hoffmann Publishing Group Tracy Hoffmann, President

8 Green Tree Technology, Inc. Adam Dries, Owner

Good Life Advisor Systems Courtnie Nein, President Conor Delaney, President

13 Berks Digital Inc. Gary & Elaine Brown, Partners 14 Skin Care By Alyce Alyce Versagli, Owner 15 Moyer- Drabick and Associates, Ltd. Wendy Moyer-Drabick, Owner

12 Solve IT Solutions Troy Kantner, Owner

Please Enjoy These Candid Photos from the Chamber’s 103rd Annual Dinner All Article Photos by: Dave Zerbe Studio of Photography


volunteer spotlight


SPOTLIGHT Compiled by: Ellen Albright, Greater Reading Chamber

Connie Faylor

Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern PA – Regional Manager Role with the Chamber: Business Idea Challenge Judge; Business & Community Advocacy Council Member; Young Leadership Conference Volunteer

Connie Faylor understands the significance and immeasurable value of partnerships and building relationships to drive the community and regional economy forward. In her role with Ben Franklin Technology Partners, she focuses on regional technology-based economic development, sharing the opportunities Ben Franklin can provide with the community. Connie feels the Chamber has helped her in this mission, quoted saying, “It is important for me to not only share the resources of Ben Franklin with the Greater Reading business community, but also to be sure that the companies know the value that the Chamber can offer them and their employees. The relationship has been mutually beneficial to the Chamber, Ben Franklin, and the Greater Reading region.” Ben Franklin’s mission is to promote, sustain, and invest in the development of our regional economy through innovation and partnering. According to an independent study, the Ben Franklin statewide network returns $3.60 to the Commonwealth treasury for every $1.00 invested. And, with committed employees such as Connie—the ROI goes well beyond a monetary measure, but has also provided the Chamber with an outstanding volunteer! Connie goes above and beyond the call of duty when it comes to Chamber workforce development initiatives. Not only did she volunteer as a mentor for the past two years at the

Chamber’s Young Leadership Conference held at Penn State Berks Campus, but she has also served as lead judge for the Business Idea Challenge, hosted by the Chamber, Deka, and Baker Tilly, for the past several years. Connie reflects, “It is so exciting to interact with these bright young people and work to make connections for them as well!” In addition, Connie sits on the Business & Community Advocacy Council, weighing in on business trends, workforce development programming, and serving as an advocate for the Berks business landscape. When asked what Connie would tell someone considering joining the Chamber, she responded, “It really makes great business sense to not only join, but to get actively involved and meet other members. There are so many programs and events to explore. TheChamber has options to address personal and business interests and professional goals, while providing flexibility for time-constrained members. From public to customized training, to Women2Women events, roundtables, networking events, and social opportunities, there is a customized opportunity for every company and each of their employees to engage.” We thank Connie for her advocacy, partnership, volunteerism and support, and look forward to ongoing collaboration with the Ben Franklin Technology Partners!

Eric Savage

Freedom Toyota & Freedom Hyundai— President/CEO Role with the Chamber: Chamber/GRYP Mentoring

Program Mentor ’16; Young Leadership Conference, Co-Chair

Eric Savage. You may know him just as he appears in his headshot—creative, star-spangled, and full of enthusiasm. You may also know him as a Life Improvement Company leader. Perhaps you’ve seen him speaking at one of the many community events throughout Berks County. Or, if you’re really lucky—you are a high school student that was mentored by Eric either at the Young Leadership Conference Series over the past two years, or a young professional that took the opportunity to be a part of the Chamber/Greater Reading Young Professionals (GRYP) Mentoring Program held in Spring 2016. Regardless of your familiarity with Eric, one thing can be certain—he is always evolving, both personally and professionally, and has the entrepreneurial spirit that the Chamber embodies. 38  COMMERCE QUARTERLY   SUMMER 2016

A few of Eric’s favorite Chamber memories and experiences can be summed up with the following comments he shared: “I’ve always valued the Chamber for networking and business advocacy. But when I discovered how the Chamber is genuinely interested in helping students and young professionals become bigger, better and brighter versions of themselves, it became obvious that I needed to give my time. My experience in mentoring with the Chamber/GRYP partnership was nothing short of extraordinary. As a firm believer in the Life Improvement Business, it’s such a joy to guide and then watch the people in my class have “a-ha” moments about their lives, their relationships, and their purpose.” When he’s not volunteering to help others through their “a-ha” moments, he is also providing the same guidance at work with his employees—creating an exceptional culture. “We try to be rather transparent, so there aren’t too many surprises, but this one often causes eyebrows to raise when I share it: Nearly 90% of our training for our employees has NOTHING to do with the car business. Instead, our primary training is about personal development—helping people become their best selves. We think that kind of training is best suited to living our mission of Improving Lives. When our people are their best selves, they help to raise others up, especially our customers.” When asked what he would tell someone thinking about joining the Chamber, Eric shared, “Some people think “The Business of Business is Business.” I think the Chamber proves that “The Business of Business is PEOPLE.” If you’re interested in making the greatest impact to people, join the Chamber!” We couldn’t agree with Eric more, and we look forward to watching his continued growth and success in the community, while also celebrating his employees and customers as they thrive through the Life Improvement Model!

Mary Jean Noon

Wells Fargo – VP, Principal Relationship Manager Role with the Chamber:

W2W Council; W2W Programming Committee Co-Chair

In Berks County, there is no lack for opportunities to blend “living, working, and playing”—and that is just one of Mary Jean Noon’s favorite things about the area. As she states, “I love that all is intertwined! My relationships with clients, as well as the people I have met through volunteering, often overlap in my personal life; thereby adding an even deeper dimension and sense of rapport. This is a unique benefit of Berks County’s close-knit community.” Since we’ve gotten to know Mary Jean over the years, we can certainly attest to her ability to effortlessly weave the many connections she’s made across all aspects of her network. She has demonstrated this in her volunteer work with Women2Women—recruiting speakers, helping to navigate programming, and inviting women to participate in the valuable opportunities W2W provides! Mary Jean’s passion for developing and promoting growth for women leaders is contagious, and she has continued to inspire those around her with her dedication to the mission of W2W. Mary Jean would tell you that this was a natural fit for her. In fact, she shares, “When Karen Marsdale approached me about Women2Women five years ago,

I knew immediately that I wanted to contribute to an organization that was dedicated to supporting female leaders. Having been in banking for 30 years and raising three daughters to be independent and strong, this has been a longtime passion of mine.” In her role with Wells Fargo, Mary Jean enjoys being able to share the many benefits offered by the company with her local clients. Her primary responsibility is to build and expand relationships with area business clients while helping them to achieve their financial goals. So, whether you’ve met her at a W2W function or as a client with Wells Fargo, it is likely that she was championing your growth in some way—fiscally, professionally, personally, or as a mentor! It comes as no surprise that she enjoys the close-knit network in our community, because she herself is a stellar connector!   39

effective leadership

A Business Culture That Works, When You Work It Barry Schlouch, Schlouch Incorporated


ver the last 33 years, our company has grown from its modest start in the basement of my home in 1983 to employing 250 talented and dedicated employees today. During that time, we were ranked as the Number 1 Best Place to Work in Pennsylvania for large companies during the Governor Tom Ridge administration, an accomplishment we are all very proud of.

During this journey, we grew both in numbers and in developing a culture that recognizes the importance of the employee as an individual with goals, obligations, and dreams; an employee who earns the support and respect of the company he or she serves and is treated with respect by our company. We refer to this as our C-T-H business model. Let me share it with you.

C = Care

First and foremost, employees want and need to know that the company genuinely cares about them. We manifest this at Schlouch with the many programs for self-improvement we make available to them and with the care we take to make certain they are safe on the job and are able to return home every

The Schlouch team poses with heavy operating equipment for a thumbs up photo!


night unharmed. As leader of the company, I personally visit the job sites, connect with our employees and know and understand their dreams, goals and needs. “Unlocking potential occurs when employees inventory their skill-sets. The sum of their skills will equal the sum of their service to the company and thus, their value becomes evident. As they build skills, their careers will advance.”

T = Trust

Second, once employees know that you care about them, they need to be able to trust you. It is important that they can count on you having their back when they make a mistake. We have always encouraged our employees to think and make decisions on the job. We have confidence that the training we provide prepares them to make the right decisions. They know that if they do make a mistake, the company is there to correct the situation and help them improve. “There is no better way to build trust than to send employees home safely every day.”

Brian (left) celebrates 30 years of service with the late Paul (center), long-time client of Schlouch, and Barry Schlouch (right), President.

Maintaining a Company Culture: Attracting Talent to Match Your Culture: To acquire

the best team members, and ensure that each new addition to staff is on board with your unique company philosophies & culture—be sure to follow this pattern.

Schlouch team members huddle up on the job to ensure safety and communication.

H = Help

Finally, once our employees know that we care and that they can trust us, we do our best to help them succeed. We provide job opportunities for our employees to grow with excellent benefits packages for them and their families. We provide training that will help them advance their careers with the company. “You must promote growth within—and have a deep understanding of that. We’re in business to improve people’s lives, starting with our employees. Schlouch’s very first employee Steve is still with us because his life—and his family’s lives—have improved during his tenure with us. You must measure success upon the employee’s success—pay attention to that!” It is my experience that employees will follow you for life if you practice building Care, Trust and Help into your culture. When you work this plan into your business practice and honestly live it with your employees, only good things will happen for the company and the employees. It works when you work C-T-H consistently. Our very first employee is still with us, 33 years and growing.

Recruiting:     You must begin by recruiting effectively. And, to do so—you must build the kind of reputation that attracts the right kind of applicant. Remember to also choose wisely—not every applicant will have the bar set high for excellence. Accept that you may have to experience more “no’s than “yes’s.” Onboarding: In my experience, it takes about five years to truly

onboard a person. You must look at the employee’s current skills and then inventory what they’ll need to grow. It is crucial to do a comprehensive assessment, and provide a training/metric program that will be documented and tracked. Allow everyone involved in the employee’s growth program to provide feedback—most importantly, the employee. They must be engaged in their growth and learning. And, be flexible—goals can change, be it the goals of the company or that of the employee. If I’m not seeing consistent promotions, I want to know why—is the employee not learning, or is Schlouch not teaching?

Development: This area never ends. Keep developing employees, no matter their level of experience. In fact, I just went through OSHA 30 with a group of our employees. We have an in-house training and learning center, which is always buzzing with in-house safety programming, leadership training, OSHA training on-site, and more. Retention: Ongoing learning and training is also a retention tool. If we’re not retaining employees, we need to address the problem. Typically, onboarding and development aid with retention when executed properly. However, we do make sure to pay close attention to reports of turnover every month, taking into account that sometimes things just happen—an employee moves or changes careers, while other times there may be an issue we need to identify. Succession Planning: We are very strategic in mapping

out our employee demographics; taking into account what holes may occur down the pipeline and where gaps may result based on promotions, retirements, and other factors. We start planning as early as possible for replacements in those particular areas, often times training current employees within to fulfill new roles as they become available, bringing up from within.

The Schlouch Logistics/Fleet Team recently created a video to share their pride of bringing new equipment to job sites and to portray the driver experience “behind the wheel.”

Scan this Code to Watch the Clip! Ed (center) celebrates 10 years of service with Schlouch!   41

effective leadership

Promoting Growth Within: Trinity Zappone, Greater Reading Chamber


oday’s businesses put a tremendous amount of work into staying competitive in their industries, as well as retaining skilled and motivated employees. An important tool that factors into both of these themes is one that is often overlooked by employers: employee-focused continued education & training. In a summary of independent studies completed by both the University of Phoenix and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 77% of the national labor pool stated that continuing their education was a priority for success in their careers.

The Chamber has long since recognized this area for professional growth, and many Reading businesses have continuously taken advantage of our valuable training resources. As more classes and subject matters are added to the upcoming fall 2016 semester, there are a few essential courses that local businesses have relied on for some time. One in particular is the Chamber’s Lead Worker Certificate Program. We frequently poll our participating companies’ employees, and value their feedback and suggestions as we look to improve our programming. As we enter the fall 2016 semester, we are excited to announce revamped Lead Worker curriculum based on this participant feedback! Topics for Lead Worker include “Expectation of the Lead Worker,” “Coaching, Communicating and Productive Feedback,” “Communicating Up,” and “Conflict & Resolution,” to name a few. The twelveweek course is targeted towards employees who are ready to be lead workers or may be promoted to a supervisory position. Through this program, participants learn to use the knowledge they gain to develop a strong foundation for success in today’s manufacturing environment. Both a morning and evening class is offered to provide flexibility for organizations and their participants. Sweet Street Desserts, a Berks County staple since 1979, utilizes the Lead Worker Certificate Program as a way to provide their employees with opportunities to advance in their careers. “The Lead Worker Certificate Program is an important part of employee training and development at Sweet Street,” says Deb Antol, Human Resources Manager. “Through this program, employees develop the skills to increase their responsibility and play key roles in the leadership of their department.” The Chamber is an advocate for Growing Your Own—the idea that organizations should invest in the development of their current employees’ skills so they can be prepared to help move the organization to the next level. It takes motivated, exceptional people to expand a great business and make it flourish, and the Chamber’s continued training courses help those employees go from good to great! Contact Mark Dolinski, Director of Business Services, (610)898-8386, to register employees for the next Lead Worker Certificate Program, beginning September 19!

Take advantage of another upcoming fall 2016 program, Lessons in Leadership! This training program is conducted by nationally recognized author, trainer, speaker, & coach—Shawn Doyle. It gives participants all the skills they need to succeed as a leader, and coaches them to help their team become more accountable, plan strategically, and establish personal vision & goals. The course is completed over six full-day classes, 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., starting in September. View the full event flier on page 53.


in your community

GRCCI, GBDF, & GREP are joining forces to provide services across the spectrum! A Collaborative Piece By: Bob Firely, Board Chair—GRCCI | Dan Langdon, Board Chair – GBDF | John Gallen, Board Chair – GREP


erks County has a unique opportunity to combine and leverage the talent and resources of three well-established organizations to benefit the entire community. The overall rationale for combining Greater Berks Development Fund (GBDF), Greater Reading Chamber of Commerce & Industry (GRCCI), and Greater Reading Economic Partnership (GREP) under a single managing company is to create one organization with experienced leadership and singular accountability to more effectively serve Berks County

businesses of all sizes and foster economic development, business growth, and success. This new organization structure will form an influential partnership to strengthen economic and community development for Berks County by utilizing combined knowledge and resources. The newly formed organization will enhance our community in a number of ways. Most impactful will be the following outcomes:

The staff of GBDF, GRCCI, and GREP look forward to collaborating, sharing knowledge, and creating a more holistic experience for businesses at any stage of growth. Not pictured: Pam Shupp, President, Greater Reading Economic Partnership. 44  COMMERCE QUARTERLY   SUMMER 2016

• Prioritize strategic objectives in our community and advance collaborative direction; creating focused and measurable investments to foster growth for existing and new businesses.

Project Financings

The types of businesses GBDF has assisted range from family owned farms to global manufacturing firms. Funding is primarily from the Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic • Share knowledge and services for a far more effective reach Development (DCED) as the Certified Economic Development into our business community to more effectively help local Organization for Berks County. GBDF businesses through their life cycle. does not provide 100% financing and seeks other lending partners—most often conven• Centralize a single point of contact for information, funding and tional banking institutions, but sometimes access to Berks County along with welcoming new businesses, through non-profit, economic development expanding current businesses and enhancing interaction with lenders such as the Community First Fund governmental agencies. and the Southeastern Economic Development Corporation of PA. As of the end of 2015, GBDF had over $30 MM for 50 companies, • Advocate for members with a stronger, more authoritative in loans outstanding. Loans have ranged from $50,000 to $6 MM. voice, gaining greater attention and response from elected officials and regulators locally, in Harrisburg and in Washington. • Increase access and availability of funding programs to local businesses of all sizes and industry, enhancing our region’s competitiveness and encouraging investment and growth.

All three organizations are currently housed on the same floor at 201 Penn Street in the Gateway Building. The three already share a kitchen, a copier, conference room facilities, closet space, an annual Christmas party, and the list goes on! But outside of these tangible, shared amenities—it is evident that there is so much more these organizations contribute to one another on a frequent basis already, not to mention the possibilities once combined. As we look to the future, there is no telling how much more efficient the new organization will become in providing services and information to prospective companies, start-ups, and those businesses experiencing growth and maturity.

Building Capacity & Flexibility

GBDF has pursued alternative sources of financing in order to expand beyond the traditional DCED loan programs. By having more flexible funding options available, GBDF increases their ability to finance a broader range of businesses. For example, in 2016 GBDF borrowed $400,000 in loan funds from the Pennsylvania Minority Business Development Authority (PMBDA) to relend and support minority owned businesses. Continued on page 46

Our staff and leadership continue to uncover new, exciting, and creative opportunities to collaborate and build more value to our membership and to the community. In an effort to further communicate how each entity contributes to certain stages of a company’s lifecycle, we thought a deeper dive into what each organization does would be helpful to our members, partners, and to the public as a whole.

Greater Berks Development Fund (GBDF) was organized in 1947. For almost 70 years, GBDF has played varying roles in financing, real estate, and development. GBDF provides access to Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority loans/lines of credit, as well as other specialty funding resources. GBDF employs 5 employees. Here are a few examples of GBDF economic development efforts.   45

in your community continued…

The GBDF is designated as a Fund Manager by the Commonwealth Financing Authority (CFA) and awarded $15+ MM to be invested locally. Most recently, $6 MM was used to assist in the financing of the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Reading. GBDF is a certified Community Development Financial Institution (‘CDFI’) by the U.S. Department of Treasury and the Pennsylvania Community Development Bank. As a result, GBDF has accumulated $700,000 in loan funds available for small business in Berks County with minimal restrictions, except the ability to repay.

Real Estate and Development

Gateway Office Building Project (Multi-Tenant Office)

GBDF constructed a $12.5 million, 100,000 square foot office building at the ‘gateway’ to the City of Reading. GBDF also undertook all of the associated tenant improvements for Aetna Insurance. After Aetna vacated the property, GBDF transitioned the building into a multi-tenancy arrangement and continues to retain ownership of this Class ‘A’ office property. Current tenants include Entech Engineering, Inc., RACC, and the General Services Administration (GSA). GRCCI, GREP and GBDF share the 5th floor.

Over the years, GBDF has played various roles in real estate and development, including that of lender, developer, owner, and constructor. GBDF’s goal in real estate development is not to compete with the private sector but rather to assist in projects that would not otherwise happen but for some non-traditional assistance and financing. In past projects GBDF has been willing to invest its own Wells Fargo Office funds in projects that were important to the community but also Building Project financially viable. As of year-end 2015, the GBDF had over $15 million (Commercial Office) in net assets invested in buildings encompassing 250,000 square feet of At one time, the former Meridian space, all in the City of Reading. As an owner/developer, the following Bank (now Wells Fargo) owned a numprojects have been undertaken by GBDF: ber of properties in downtown Reading. The bank then built what is referred to as ‘Spring Ridge’ in order to consolidate some of their back-office functions. There was still a desire, however, for some functions to remain in downtown Reading. As a result GBDF constructed a 140,000 square foot building and the bank participated in the fit-out component. GBDF and Meridian negotiated a 25-year lease for the property and GBDF retains ownership.

United Corrstack (Industrial)

GBDF acquired a 300,000 square foot vacant industrial property in south Reading, on 12 acres. After the completion of the environmental remediation, GBDF leased the property to United Corrstack LLC, a manufacturer of 100% recycled corrugated liner board. The project costs for GBDF were approximately $2.5 million, while the company invested over $100 million in new papermaking machinery & equipment.

Riverfront Commerce Center

GBDF acquired 50 acres from the Dana Corporation and completed almost $6 million in infrastructure and other improvements to create an industrial park in Reading. The site was sold but that developer was not successful and the Reading Redevelopment Authority purchased the site which is now back on the market.


Keystone Opportunity Zone

The GBDF was instrumental in obtaining KOZ status for over 300 acres in Berks County, and has administered the program locally since its inception. This has allowed companies like Brentwood Industries, uni-Chains, Hydrojet, Sweet Street Desserts, Sun Rich, and MinusNine Technologies to locate and expand by taking advantage of KOZ tax incentives, resulting in millions of dollars of new tax revenues and jobs for Berks County.

Additional GBDF Services Snapshot Entrepreneurial Assistance: GBDF helps small, emerging, and startup companies to obtain capital, market assets, utilize business development services, reach profitability and access incentives including tax rebates and credits. Financing/Business Capitalization: GBDF offers a diverse and extensive portfolio of low-interest loan programs for businesses from start-ups to investment grade companies. Agricultural Economic Development: GBDF provides agricultural economic development services that treat farming as a business, particularly for small family owned farms, helping the farmers acquire private and public capital for purchasing land, and equipment. Brownfields Redevelopment: GBDF assists owners of brownfields properties

to develop strategies for the optimal re-use of key sites, often undertaking the environmental assessment and remediation necessary for redevelopment.

Grants Acquisition and Management: GBDF assists client companies and public & non-profit entities, as well as for its own account, acquire local, state, and federal grants. Related services include identification of potential grant sources, preparation of proposals, grant management, and grant closeout administration. Business Retention, Expansion and Relocation: GBDF participates in retention and expansion projects and serves as a local resource working closely with the Governor’s Action Team (GAT), to facilitate and help implement state and local incentives, and assist in the site selection process.

Dan Langdon, GBDF Board Chair “This is a unique opportunity to combine and leverage the significant talent, resources and experience of the GBDF with those of GRCCI and GREP. Together, our three well established organizations will be in a better position to access, serve and assist more and varied clients than we have in the past. Our intent is to build upon what we have, uncover where we can do a better job, and focus on the opportunities that will result.”

Continued on page 48   47

in your community continued…

industries include: advanced manufacturing, food industry and agribusiness, financial support operations.

The Greater Reading Economic Partnership (GREP) was formed in 2002 to lead regional efforts to attract, retain, and grow business in Berks County. The GREP team works to position Berks County as a strong contender in the global economy through strategic marketing efforts. The organization currently employs 4 full time team members. As an Accredited Economic Development Organization (AEDO)—one of 45 by the International Economic Development Council—GREP is a leader in the industry. Excellent customer service, attention to detail, and a proactive strategic focus have created ongoing success for the organization. GREP works with companies to ensure there is a safety net available at all times throughout their life cycle. Below are some of examples of the work that GREP does, and the clients they serve.

Business Attraction

Through strategic marketing, GREP works to generate qualified leads by actively seeking out companies in targeted growth industries to take advantage of Berks County’s location, workforce, and business network (supply chain, customers, etc.). These targeted growth

Just as significant as GREP’s strategic marketing tactics is the ability to establish strong relationships with site location decision makers and influencers. This includes membership and leadership in exclusive organizations and events such as the Industrial Asset Management Council (IAMC), CoreNET, the Site Selectors Guild and the Society of Industrial and Office Realtors (SIOR). The organization’s strong relationships with decision makers and influencers affords Berks County the opportunity to be considered for their company’s or clients’ relocation or expansion project. GREP takes the lead on behalf of the county to respond to requests for information (RFI) for companies who are looking to locate or relocate and have identified Berks as a potential location. Additionally, the organization works closely with the PA Department of Community and Economic Development’s Governors Action Team (GAT) and the Office of International Business Development (OIBD) to respond to RFIs generated through the Commonwealth of PA. “GREP played a major role in the success of Berks Park 78. And, most recently with the speculative development at 41 Martha Ave., Bethel, PA where Dermody Properties constructed a 750,000 SF state of the art distribution center. GREP’s professional effort was supportive of Cushman & Wakefield’s role as marketing agent. Good communication and proactive outreach to prospective tenants for this project are only two reasons GREP is an effective partner in the marketing process.”

Gerald Blinebury, Executive Director Brokerage Services | Cushman & Wakefield

Business Attraction Successes

SG America—Creation of 15 new jobs | Company was located in the Midwest and identified our community as one with the right skill sets and strategic location. The company relocated its operations and is expanding its footprint in Wyomissing. SG America manufactures air-to-air heat recovery and desiccant dehumidification components used in commercial and industrial air handling systems. TAB Industries—Creation of 20 new jobs | Company was located outside of Berks County and needed to expand. The president of the company lives in Berks County and wanted to be located in his home community. As a distributor of doors and component parts, they developed a pallet wrapping system called the TAB Wrapper Tornado.


Crossroads Beverage—Creation of 140 new manufacturing jobs | Family owned water bottling company located in Florida needed a northeast location to service its Mid-Atlantic customers. They found their new home in a former bottling plant in Muhlenberg Township and began operations. They continue to expand into warehousing locations throughout Berks County.

Business Retention & Growth

GREP is focused on working with Berks-based companies to stay and grow in our community. The organization proactively identifies Berks County companies to call on throughout the year through the Business Expansion and Growth strategy. Companies visited are identified by industry and growth projections. These visits are in addition to those at-risk companies identified by organizational partners and the community. During meetings with local companies, GREP works to identify both opportunities and challenges to match the appropriate resources to meet their needs. Most frequently, GREP is working to connect companies to: workforce and workforce training resources, financing options and alternatives, property options for expansion, introductions to new service providers, supply chain, and potential customers.

“Anyone running a company in Berks County would be well advised to call GREP and schedule a meeting to find out what GREP is able to do for you. The GREP was established to help businesses grow and prosper. GREP educated me about all the services available to Reading area businesses.”

Charles Bernard, President | Eagle Metals

Business Retention & Growth Successes

Cambridge-Lee Industries LLC—Creation of 200+ new jobs | GREP worked with the County Commissioners to streamline the land development review process so that the company could put a shovel in the ground and construct the brand new Eagle plant—timing was essential to making the expansion happen in Berks County. GREP continues to work with the company to analyze rail opportunities for the new plant. Continued on page 50


in your community continued…

EnerSys—Creation of 115 new jobs | Company had to make a decision to expand at its existing world headquarters in Berks County or elsewhere. GREP worked with the company to identify incentives, work through the permitting process and obtain a LERTA designation in 2014. The company constructed a $14 million addition to their corporate headquarters which includes an R&D component. PhytogenX—Creation of 45 new jobs | Company needed to expand to accommodate growth. GREP worked with the company to identify a variety of property options. The company decided on a building in Berks County to support their $4 million expansion. In both new business attraction and retention and growth, GREP has positioned itself as a valuable asset supporting new and existing companies by streamlining the relocation and expansion process by facilitating meetings, making introductions, and connections to the best available resources.


John Gallen, GREP Board Chair “This merger is an incredible opportunity for the community. This is about improving the economic development continuum to establish seamless customer service through collaboration and cooperation. As we move forward, the mission and function of GREP will remain intact and dovetail nicely with the services and offerings of the other two organizations to attract, retain and grow business in our region.”

The Greater Reading Chamber of Commerce & Industry (GRCCI) was formed in 1913 per the endorsement of a Merchants

Association and the local Board of Trade in an effort to serve the community with a larger scope. According to records, the focus at that time was primarily new industry, civic patriotism, agriculture, city planning, and community building. This is not a far cry from the focus of today’s Chamber, with a mission to provide comprehensive business services and community advocacy resources to all size businesses—serving as the business voice of Greater Reading and the economic driver to a vibrant community. The organization currently employs 11 full time team members. GRCCI is a United States Chamber of Commerce 5-Star Accredited organization—a prestigious honor and distinction carried by only 203 Chambers of the nearly 7,000 in the United States. A comprehensive business and community resource, GRCCI partners with all other economic development organizations in creating an environment for development and growth. Using its legislative influence and leveraging their member base, the Chamber advocates for, and has impact on, the needs and interests of the community —encouraging all businesses to take deliberate and decided action on issues affecting their prosperity. Below are some examples of the work that has been done through the Chamber, categorized by the life cycle of a business.

Start-Up Phase of a Business

Nationally Recognized SCORE Chapter: Housed at the Chamber office, this group of professional individuals provides mentoring and guidance to start-ups and early stage businesses. From how to write a business plan, uncovering gaps and weaknesses in a plan, to providing guidance on raising capital, SCORE offers area businesses a plethora of resources at NO COST to the client. Most recently, SCORE and the Chamber have partnered to provide a FREE monthly, interactive forum for small business owners titled BIG Focus on Small Business. Chamber SCORECARD: An assessment tool developed by the Chamber in partnership with SCORE to assist any business (particularly early stage and small businesses) to “take the pulse” of their business in five critical areas. This tool helps uncover gaps in the business before they become a real danger point. Ability to Assist Businesses in Building Networks: One of the keys to success in business is knowing who or where to go for advice and help when challenges or needs arise. The Chamber is the go-to resource, guiding start-ups and early stage businesses on their journey and helping to cut through the red tape. The Chamber also facilitates new member orientation, ribbon cuttings, open house events, and networking at night events to help members introduce themselves to the community. The goal is to help businesses regardless of size to survive and thrive. Catalyst on Commerce: The Chamber offers this space as a professional, high-energy co-work setting where you can work,

form networks, meet with clients, share ideas, host meetings and interact with like-minded professionals. Co-working is perfect for entrepreneurs, sole proprietors, professionals who often work from home, and early stage small businesses, as well as for out-of-town businesses looking to establish a local presence.

Growth Stage

Community Convener: The Chamber provides access to the best resources for your business. Navigating the system for access to funding sources, talent scouting, training, advocacy and more, the Chamber has the pulse of Berks County and the right connections to assist at any given time.

Talent Development: This is a critical component of any business’s success no matter the phase of the organization. The Chamber’s Training Department has been a leader in the community in terms of providing comprehensive, state of the art curriculum for all levels of employees from lead worker, supervisor, manager and emerging leaders. The Chamber’s talented roster of professional trainers provides public training courses, customized in-house training, and leadership programming to help employers grow their own talent.

Expansion / Services at any Stage

Advocacy and Community Leadership: The Chamber has been an effective liaison over the years between local businesses, elected officials and community leaders. Speaking as one voice we are recognized as a pro-active force in advocacy. We shape a pro-business policy agenda that supports businesses/organizations of all sizes and types at the local, state and federal levels. We monitor and promote public policies that will enable resident businesses to thrive and expand, in addition to attracting new business ventures. We continued to build collaborative partnerships and provide opportunities for our members and community to be informed and engaged in the process to ensure the economic vibrancy of our region. Continued on page 52   51

in your community continued…

Community Safety & Vibrancy: Every successful business knows the importance of having a thriving community where people want to live, work, and play. The Chamber has played a key role in community, from leading the charge on the Ride to Prosperity, to financially supporting a number of initiatives— most recently raising over $80,000 for City of Reading Police Cameras through the All Eyes on Reading Campaign, and supporting such events as the Reading 120 and Reading Fire & Ice, driving visitors and vibrancy to the City of Reading. Berks Family Business Alliance: Between 80–90% of American businesses are family owned and operated. The Chamber founded the Berks FBA three years ago as an exclusive resource in Berks County for family owned businesses and their employees. This initiative provides valuable resources from access to subject matter experts, Peer Discussion Groups that are professionally facilitated, to opportunities for family business members to connect, network and do business together.

Networking Events & Educational Programming: Networking has always been a key ingredient of Chamber activity. From monthly activities such as Business at Breakfast or Power Networking Lunches, to marquee events and educational programs on critical issues or topics—the ability to build networks is found nowhere in the community like at the Chamber. Women2Women: Founded by the Chamber in 2010, W2W is the largest organization dedicated to “Growing More Women Leaders in the Community.” With over 5,500 members, and annual attendance of more than 1,500 women at a variety of programs, workshops, and mentoring events—this unique organization has reached out well beyond the Chamber’s traditional membership to impact the Berks community. Workforce Pipeline: The Chamber’s Workforce Pipeline initiatives are focused on developing a skilled pipeline of talent with local school districts and higher institutes of education and other community organizations seeking to improve our region’s education attainment level.

Bob Firely, GRCCI Board Chair “The Chamber is excited to join together with GREP and GBDF. These organizations coming together and joining their deep knowledge and resources will provide benefits to our business community in the form of cradle to maturity services and knowledge to help businesses of all sizes grow and prosper in Berks County. The new organization will have even greater resources to serve the smallest business to the largest corporation not only due to our vast array of services but, most importantly, due to the skill set and experience of our talented group of dedicated employees.”


business & community advocacy

OVERTIME is MONEY: Are You Ready for the Latest Mandate on Business?

Gail Landis, VP  —  Greater Reading Chamber

he Department of Labor recently released their final rule amending the white collar overtime exemptions to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FSLA). The final rule is massive in scope and will impose radical changes to workers’ relationships with employers across all sectors, including small businesses and non-profits. The Final Rule will be effective December 1, 2016 and focuses primarily on updating the salary and compensation levels needed for EAP workers to be exempt. Specifically, the Final Rule:  Sets the standard salary level at the 40th percentile of earnings of full-time salaried workers in the lowest-wage Census Region, currently the South, which is $913 per week or $47,476 annually for a full-year worker;  Sets the total annual compensation requirement for highly compensated employees (HCE) subject to a minimal duties test to the annual 54  COMMERCE QUARTERLY   SUMMER 2016

equivalent of the 90th percentile of full-time salaried workers nationally, which is $134,004;  Establishes a mechanism for automatically updating the salary and compensation levels every three years to maintain the levels at the above percentiles and to ensure that they continue to provide useful and effective tests for exemption.

Additionally, the Final Rule amends the salary basis test to allow employers to use nondiscretionary bonuses and incentive payments (including commissions) to satisfy up to 10 percent of the new standard salary level. The Final Rule makes no changes to the duties tests. Complete details and a Fact Sheet: Final Rule to Update the Regulations Defining and Delimiting the Exemption for Executive, Administrative, and Professional Employees are available at the United States Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division web-

site at:, or you may call their toll-free information and helpline, available 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in your time zone, 1-866-4-USWAGE (1-866-487-9243). Preparing for the New Rule Such a dramatic increase will force employers to decide whether to reclassify employees to hourly pay or increase their salaries to keep them exempt. This will affect workplace operations, require close tracking of hours to ensure compliance and impact the ability to be competitive in the marketplace. During a recent discussion with the Chamber’s non-profit roundtable, Nathan Brant, CEO of South Mountain YMCA Camps, commented that, “These changes will force us to take a long look at our staffing structures and get creative. While our employees deserve good wages for the life-changing work they do, non-profits like ours must strive to keep our administrative and staff costs low to maintain our current levels of service. Despite these challenges, we are committed to serving our community at the highest level possible.” The Greater Reading Chamber of Commerce & Industry has joined other Chambers across the country to send a letter of support for the Protecting Workplace Advancement & Opportunity Act; H.R. 4773 and S. 2707 that has been introduced, and would effectively nullify the rule. It is essential this legislation be passed to ensure employers, workplace flexibility and opportunity, and the economy are not threatened by this onerous rule. Additionally, the Congressional Review Act that allows Congress to pass a joint resolution of disapproval voiding federal regulations is being pursued.

Find out more about how to take action on this and other key issues by visiting: Greater Reading Voice: www.greaterreadingvoice. (Note: Resources provided are for informational purposes only and do not serve as legal advice.)


business & community advocacy


JUL 14

De Mujer a Mujer Summer Celebration Tlacuani Mexican Restaurant Bar & Grill 5005 Kutztown Road Temple, PA 19560 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm (FREE! Registration Required)

JUL 20

Power Networking Lunch The Inn at Centre Park 730 Centre Avenue Reading, PA 19601 11:30 am – 1:00 pm $17.00 per person (includes lunch) Members Only — Registration Required Sponsored by: TSI Associates

Matt Boyer, Executive Director — Commuter Services of Pennsylvania


he positive economic surge put into our regional transportation infrastructure by Act 89 has quickly put a wealth of construction projects on our regional roadways. In addition to commuters adjusting schedules to account for extra travel time through these welcomed road and bridge projects, the summer travel season is upon us and we will all need to plan accordingly when budgeting time for our vacation travels.

As the City of Reading and Berks County continue to become destinations for visitors from around the world, let’s be sure they return home, not with memories of traffic congestion and poor air quality but rather remembering the sight of the Pagoda, participating in a local festival, watching a regional sporting event, walking or biking our local trails, and taking in our wealth of home cooked foods and beverages. These memories will surely lead them to invite others to the region and expedite their personal return trip to the area. What a great opportunity for all of us to absorb the transportation outlook of millennials. Their mindset is why buy a car; why face the hassle of daily traffic congestion to and from work; why lose all that disposable income to gasoline, insurance, car maintenance, parking and toll costs; why arrive at work with all the mental stress and traffic anxiety

caused by the daily commute; why not improve the quality of our lives and use more cost effective, healthier, and stress free modes of transportation? The time is now to consider the formation of a carpool; or to review the cost effectiveness of a vanpool for longer commutes; finding a BARTA transit route; walking or bicycling on shorter commutes; and/or approaching your employer about the possibilities of teleworking from home. Commuters in and out of Berks County face daily challenges in their commute to work, but how many actually take a proactive role to lessen this burden and instead turn the commute time into a period of leisure and/or productivity? Do NOT immediately find a reason to avoid these options, but rather push yourself to learn about the many ways you can improve your life, lessen stress, become more productive and put vacation money in your pocket all year long without the need for a second job! Throughout the region, commuters are switching from single occupancy vehicles to alternative modes of transportation and Commuter Services of Pennsylvania can help educate you on the ways to get to and from work with more money in your pocket, less stress on your mind and a happier, healthier lifestyle.


Lean In Information Session Chamber’s Center for Business Excellence 49 Commerce Drive Wyomissing, PA 19610 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm (FREE! Registration Required)


Business at Breakfast Topic: The Reading 120 Stokesay Castle 141 Stokesay Castle Lane Reading, PA 19606 7:45 am – 9:00 am $14 payable at the door Cash or checks made payable to Stokesay Castle

AUG 18

Annual Chamber Picnic Willow Glen Park 94 Park Avenue Sinking Spring, PA 19608 4:30 pm – 10:00 pm $40 for one ticket; $375 for 10 ticket Party Pack; or $700 for 20 ticket Super Pack Registration Required


member news: newsmakers Gallen Insurance was awarded Cincinnati Insurance Company’s top honor, the 2015 President’s Club award, for excelling in customer retention, 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. Liquid Interactive has been awarded a 2016 Top Workplaces honor by The Morning Call. The Top Workplaces lists are based solely on the results of an employee feedback survey administered by WorkplaceDynamics, LLC, a leading research firm that specializes in organizational health and workplace improvement. Several aspects of workplace culture were measured, including Alignment, Execution, and Connection, just to name a few.

RKL, a professional services leader in Central and Eastern Pennsylvania, once again stands among the top 100 firms in the nation, according to industry publication Accounting Today. Reinsel Kuntz Lesher LLP (RKL), Certified Public Accountants and Consultants, climbed three spots from its 2015 ranking to claim the 67th spot on the ‘2016 Top 100 Firms’ list. In addition to the ‘Top 100’ ranking, Accounting Today also placed RKL 18th among its 30 ‘Pacesetters for Growth,’ in recognition of the firm’s 14.9 percent growth in 2015, and once again named it the 14th largest CPA firm in the Mid-Atlantic region.

Continuous growth at a leading energy provider in Berks County will soon lead to new development in South Heidelberg Township. E.G.


Smith Inc. has announced it will build a facility on two acres at 1 Corporate Blvd. in Sinking Spring. The company’s new headquarters will include 2,000 square feet of office space, and 5,000 square feet of warehouse and garage space to house the company’s vehicle fleet. Weidenhammer announced recently that it is the recipient of a Cisco® Partner Summit Americas (US) Theater award for East Area SMB Partner of the Year. Cisco revealed the winners during its annual partner conference earlier this month in San Diego, California. Awarded to exemplary channel partners, the Cisco Partner Summit awards are designed to recognize bestin-class business practices and serve as a model to the industry. Reading Health System has been recognized by ECRI Institute with the 2016 Healthcare Supply Chain Achievement Award. An award ceremony will take place at Reading

Hospital, with four members from ECRI in attendance for the ceremony. Presenting the award is Tim Browne, Director, PriceGuide. Liquid Interactive has received two international awards for work performed on the redesign of the website. The Association of Marketing and Communication Professionals recognized the website with a Platinum MarCom award. The MarCom Awards is a creative competition designed to recognize the creativity and hard work of marketing and communication professionals. Liquid was the only agency in the Lehigh Valley to receive a Platinum award. Additionally, the website won a Best in Class award from the Interactive Media Awards competition in the category of Telecommunications by scoring 480 out of a possible 500 points.

ETI (Eastern Technologies Inc.) is proud to announce that Robert D. Keeler was recognized with a Lifetime Achievement Award for his commitment, leadership and 30 years of service.

Weidenhammer, a business focused on helping its clients transform their businesses using Marketing, Strategy and Information Technology, will be the sponsor of the Downtown Alive outdoor concert series held in downtown Reading over the next three years. Five free concerts featuring nationally-touring acts will perform on Penn Street as part of the new Downtown Alive by Weidenhammer performance series. Each concert, starting at 5:30 p.m., will feature a festival atmosphere and include food trucks and a beer garden. “Weidenhammer is thrilled to sponsor this concert series for the people of Reading and Berks, and are excited to be a part of the growing momentum and revitalization of downtown Reading,” states John P. Weidenhammer, President. Dr. Khalid N. Mumin, superintendent of the Reading School District, has been named a Superintendent to Watch by the National School Public Relations Association. He is among 24 superintendents nationwide to win the award for the 2015-16 school year. The Superintendents to Watch program was designed to recognize outstanding superintendents who are using dynamic, fast-paced leadership with strong communication at its core. American PowerNet has announced an award with the Commonwealth of PA to act as the energy provider for the Commonwealth and electricity manager for the Borough of Columbia effective March 1, 2016. The term of the award is 24 months, delivering all energy produced by the Susquehanna Resource Management Complex steam cogeneration facility located in Harrisburg to the Capital Complex and the State Correctional Institution at Camp Hill.

In honor of its outstanding achievements and success throughout the past year, RE/MAX of Reading was named Brokerage of the Year for the RE/MAX Pennsylvania & Delaware Region. This prestigious annual award recognizes a single brokerage in the Region that embodies growth, teamwork, leadership and commitment to associates and clients. The Standard Group has completed its multi-year project to integrate and streamline its print and mail operations. Now under one roof, the company is able to achieve greater efficiency in the execution of its print and mail projects. Reading Health System has announced the formation of Reading Health System Foundation, and the appointment of Katherine Thornton of Wyomissing, PA - President, Reading Health System Foundation, after serving as interim executive director of the Foundation since September, 2015. The mission of Reading Health System Foundation is to support innovation, research, education, and transformation of healthcare services to align with future health needs. Hollenbach Construction, Inc. received the 2016 Business/Enterprise of the Year Award from the Tri County Area Chamber during the Annual Dinner on April 21 at Rivercrest Golf Club and Preserve in Phoenixville. Henry Singer, Chairman of Singer Equipment Co., has been named Chevalier of the Legion of Honor, France’s highest distinction. The award ceremony, presided over by France’s Consul-General, was held on April 15th at the French Embassy in Washington, DC. The Consul-General expressed France’s deepest gratitude to the men and women who helped free their country from German occupation during WWII.


member news: new members FEBRUARY 15 – JUNE 1, 2016 A.S.A.P. COURIER CORPORATION 1201 Museum Rd. Wyomissing, PA 19610 610.678.2727 Delivery Service Contact: Paul Tufts

BERKS COMMUNITY HEALTH CENTER 838 Penn St. Reading, PA 19602 610.988.4838  Health Care Contact: Mike Rossi

ACCOUNTS MANAGEMENT SERVICES, INC. 938 N 8th St. Reading, PA 19604 610.375.0213 Collection Agencies Contact: Jeffrey Xavios

BERKS HEARING PROFESSIONALS (WYOMISSING) 1 Greenwood Mall Wyomissing, PA 19610 610.404.8025 Audiology Contact: Mindy Brudereck

ALL ABOUT FAMILIES COUNSELING SERVICES 119 N Furnace St. Birdsboro, PA 19508 610.575.0390 Counseling Contact: Bob Kwitkowski

BERN FARM (A TASTE OF BERKS BY DESIGN, INC.) 1160 Old Bernville Rd. Reading, PA 19605 484.671.3913  Contact: Andrea Genduso

BAKER COLLEGE 606 Court St. Reading, PA 19601 610.268.9350 Educational Services Contact: Tony Vuckovich BANKERS LIFE – NANCIE CHANG-KELLER 1105 Berkshire Blvd. Reading, PA 19601 610.372.1473 Insurance Contact: Nancie Chang-Keller BECK PACKAGING 200 Cascade Dr. Allentown, PA 18109 610.264.0551 Packaging Supplies & Equipment Contact: Bob Metter

BERNVILLE QUALITY FUELS 330 Blair Ave. Reading, PA 19601 610.802.2134  Energy & Energy Services Contact: Chris Kowalski CAMP MANATAWNY 33 Camp Rd. Douglassville, PA 19518 610.689.0173  Non-profit Organizations Contact: Dave Garrett CORE HEALTH CHIROPRACTIC 302 Baltzer Ave. Bernville, PA 19506 215.206.0205 Chiropractors Contact: Sarah Balthaser EDWARD JONES – JOE PLAGEMAN 918 Penn Ave. Wyomissing, PA 19610 610.374.1088 Financial Services Contact: Joe Plageman

EGAN SIGN 1100 Berkshire Blvd., Suite 200 Wyomissing, PA 19610 610.478.1330 Signs Contact: John Dever EPHRATA NATIONAL BANK 6296 Morgantown Rd. Morgantown, PA 19543 717.721.5299 Banks Contact: Debbie Kerchner GROUSE POINT GRAPHIC DESIGN 18 Grouse Point Circle Reading, PA 19607 610.416.4798 Graphic Designers Contact: Sally Pawloski IVANDRO REBELLO 324 Chestnut St. West Reading, PA 19611 484.219.3258 Individuals Contact: Ivandro Rebello KEYSTONE PAYROLL 1910 Sturbridge Dr. Wyomissing, PA 19610 610.401.8404 Payroll Services Contact: Bernie NcNickol KIK CLEANING SERVICES LLC 2922 Harbor Dr. Sinking Spring, PA 19608 484.619.8133 Cleaning Services Contact: Tamara Williams OFFICE SERVICE COMPANY 1009 Tuckerton Ct. Reading, PA 19605 610.926.9850 Distributors Contact: Matthew Barbour OPEXPERT 126 Lucinda Ln. Reading, PA 19610 610.927.5177 Employment Agencies Contact: Tanya Oziel POLARIS INSURANCE AGENCY, LLC 2725 Centre Ave. Reading, PA 19605 610.927.5449 polarisinsurance Insurance Contact: Jeremy Blackwell


SOURCE ATLANTIC, LLC PO Box 6218 Wyomissing, PA 19610 610.223.9504 Consultants – Business Contact: Peter Schlegel SOUTH COAST IMPROVEMENT COMPANY 529 Reading Ave., Suite O Reading, PA 19611 484.509.2786 Construction Management Contractors - Design Contact: Jared Butler STRATEGIC SALES TRAINING SOLUTIONS, LLC 1524A Delaware Ave. Wyomissing, PA 19610 610.223.4346 Consultants - Development Contact: John Whitehall STRUCTURE GREEN DESIGN GROUP 237 Court St., Suite 307 Reading, PA 19601 610.301.1061 Engineers - Civil Contact: Ann Sellers STUDIO 413 PHOTOGRAPHY 605 Sycamore Rd. Mohnton, PA 19540 610.698.2604 Photographers Contact: Donald Carrick TYCO INTEGRATED SECURITY 4700 Westport Dr. Mechanicsburg, PA 17055 215.272.8088 Security Systems Contact: Terry Crouse VILLA ST. ELIZABETH PERSONAL CARE HOME 1201 Museum Rd. Reading, PA 19611 610.478.1201 Assisted Living Centers Contact: Paul Tufts WEGMAN DENTAL GROUP 3650 Perkiomen Ave., Suite 300 Reading, PA 19606 610.779.8181 Dentists Contact: Gary Wegman

member news: anniversaries FEBRUARY 15 – JUNE 1, 2016 1 YEAR 

15 Years

A Touch of Class Remodeling A.D. Moyer Lumber & Hardware, Inc.  All County Delaware Valley Property Management  American Barber Academy  Building & Construction Trades Council of Reading & Vicinity  Cafe Bold  Canteen Refreshments  Catholic Charities, Diocese of Allentown  Citizens Bank - Wyomissing  Dynamic Physical Therapy - Fifth St Highway  Gettis Company, LLC  Goldhen Advanced Advertising  Gourmand - Body Zone  Gourmand Artisan Street Food  Homes for Heroes® - Cheryl Molina, REALTOR®  Illusion Sound and Lighting  Imperial Contracting Group  Imperial Monuments LLC  Isolator Fitness, Inc.  Johnson’s Maintenance Service, LLC

Kaiser Construction Company, Inc. Kenneth M. Kitay & Associates  London’s Burger dba Wayback Burgers  Martin Construction Company  Monyer Electric  Paychex, Inc.  Person Directed Clinical Services (PDCS)  Pita Pit  Pure Wild Tea LLC  Reading Royals Professional Hockey Club  Robesonia Farmers Marketplace  Salute Ristorante Italiano  SCFS  Secrets Bakery  Sensory Concepts Orthopedic & Medical Massage (Wyomissing)  Solude Air Roasted Coffee  St. Francis Home  Supportive Concepts for Families, Inc. (SCFFI)  Sustainable Energy & Lighting Solutions, LLC  Sweet Surprises

Thirty-One Gifts - Katie Frantz Twisted Star Vapors, vape and coffee lounge  West Lawn Motor Co.

5 Years Berks Counseling Center, Inc. Big Al’s Electrical & Mechanical Service, Inc.  Corporate Barter Network, LLC  DESCCO Design & Construction, Inc.  Games2U Schuylkill Valley  I’ll fix it! Handyman Services  Interflex, Inc.  Lincoln Park Apartments  New Story  Paradise by the Slice  Prudential Financial  Sensory Concepts Orthopedic & Medical Massage (Leesport)  The Spine and Wellness Center 

Bell Tower Salon, Medi-Spa & Store CrossRoads Studios  Fr. Meyer’s Sohn NA, LLC  Lountzis Asset Management, LLC  Main Street Tax & Accounting Services, Inc.  Ontelaunee Power Operating Co. 

20 Years Holiday Inn Express & Suites NRG Energy  Schuylkill Valley EMS  Service Electric Cablevision, Inc.  

25 Years Edge Insights Flying Hills Apartment Company  Kline Process Systems, Inc.  

30 Years 10 Years Bernard R. Gerber Cathy Chervanick Decorative Painting  Crossroads Technologies, Inc.  Dans at Green Hills  DeMet’s Candy Company  Distributed Systems Services, Inc. (DSS)  Framers Nook  Ludgate Engineering Corporation  Omega Systems Consultants, Inc.  Riverview Tree & Landscaping, Inc.  Technology Solutions Associates, LLC  

Circle S Ranch House Family Guidance Center  Financial Planning Advisors, Inc.  Gage Personnel Employment Services  John Yurconic Agency/ The Notary Shop  Stubbs Insurance Associates, Inc.  T & T / Lanco, Inc.  The Hitchcock Group Cleaning & Restoration  

35 Years Boyertown Oil & Propane

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!

Meet Virginia Dodge: VA Productions has been producing high-quality video production for over 20 years in Berks and around the globe.

Marsha Baron began Dosie Dough as a stand at the Shillington Farmers Market in 1988 and specialized in hard-to-find European style breads and delicious homemade baked goods.

Meet Scott McDevitt: Translogistics, Inc. provides solutions to transportation and supply chain challenges head-on.

Meet Tom Newmaster: With a theme of being focused, fast, and user-friendly, WFM is serving top-name clients in design and packaging.

Dr. Borja—Spine & Wellness Center, and his team are inspiring patients to live a healthier, happier life!

Hear from Karen Haver: Summer is coming, and so are the Berks Arts Council’s Bandshell Free Music Fridays!

Forever Kids at Heart provides an after-school program with meals, transportation to activities, and tutoring — A parents’ dream!

Phillip L Frassinelli Jr. and the Spherion Staffing Services team help job seekers succeed in roles at companies they LOVE!

The Rhoads Energy Family of Companies is growing — look for them in your very own Berks backyard! Tune into this Member Spotlight with Scott Burky!

From concept to delivery, Schott Productions doesn’t miss a detail in telling your story.

Homemade fudge is just the start to your visit at West Reading’s premier chocolate shop, Sweet Surprises — owned by Jennifer Bednez!


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