Commerce Quarterly Winter 2014

Page 1

Greater Reading Chamber




Berks Park 78 Gains National Recognition As Shovel-Ready Site

Small Business & Government: A Long Distance Relationship

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CONTENTS Greater Reading Chamber


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



Small Business Matters

26 In Your Community

Family Business Advisory Boards —Outside Perspective For Ongoing Success!

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

» Partners with all other economic

Location, Location, Location! Closing the Skills Gap

decided action on issues affecting their welfare.

» Helps small business thrive and entrepreneurs strive.

» Develops employees through training and educational programs/alliances.

» Prepares tomorrow’s workforce with our involvement in education partnerships.

» Operates as a model business and pursues best practices.

» Maintains a five-star rating as one of the

12 Entrepenuer’s Corner

Q&A with David Vollmer & Steve Smith

13 Small Biz Thrives

Patrick M. Borja, D.C., Owner and Director—Spine & Wellness Center

14 Made in Berks

Reading Plastic Fabricators

best chambers in Pennsylvania.

» Reflects our multicultural community at large.

16 Industry Trends

Spotlight on Construction

A Long Distance Relationship


November Election Debrief

In Every Issue:


Letter From the President

8 Cover Story

development organizations in creating an environment for growth.

» Enables all businesses to take deliberate and

Berks Park 78 Gains National Recognition As Shovel-Ready Site

Business & Community Advocacy 28 What Drives Your Business? 30 Small Business & Government:

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

Your Greater Reading Chamber of Commerce & Industry…


Why We Do the Things We Do…

20 Volunteer Spotlight 22 Winter 2014 Centerfold

Scott L. Gruber President, CEO, Tompkins VIST Bank

24 Out & About

©2014 All rights reserved. No portion of this publication may be reproduced electronically or in print without the expressed written permission of the publisher.

18 Ben Franklin Invests in Our Community

36 Member Spotlight

Commerce Quarterly Magazine is published quarterly by Hoffmann Publishing Group, Reading, PA • 610.685.0914

38 Member News

Custom Processing Services Succeeding with Support from Ben Franklin & Other Economic Developers

42 Upcoming Events

34 Effective Leadership For Advertising Opportunities: call 610.685.0914 Ext. 1 Read Commerce Quarterly Magazine Online at

Re-Igniting Berks Through The Work of Leaders

Special thanks to the Berks Career & Technology Center for providing access their facilities and students for some of the photos in this issue. We would also like to acknowledge the following Photo Imaging Technology student photographers who captured the images: Noah Rauch, senior, and Kaitlyn Waidelich, junior, from Kutztown School District, and Tate Bouffard, junior, from Tulpehocken Area School District, and their instructor, Glenn Riegel.

letter from the president

Why We Do the Things We Do…


elcome to the first edition of Commerce Quarterly! Our goal for the magazine is to tell the story of economic activity in Berks through the stories and successes of the entrepreneurs and companies that thrive here.

In this inaugural edition our diverse business community in feature story focuses on local Berks. We hope that fortifies our efforts that are building our work- community’s confidence in the force pipeline. The availability strength of our local economy. of skilled labor and talent is the number one issue that keeps our In addition to company profiles, business owners awake at night. It’s we share data on industry trends also the number one issue in the (this quarter features construction) rankings of site selection factors. and include articles that highlight best business practices, i.e. Rather than rehashing the forming an advisory board. We problem, our article focuses plan to have some fun with the on explaining what skills are magazine as well. Did you check lacking in our local labor pool out our centerfold? Yep, there and what companies are doing really is a centerfold! about it. Successfully expanding and enhancing the talent pool I’d also like to give a shout out will be critical to supporting the to Berks Career & Technology economic health of the county. Center’s photography students There are numerous companies for capturing the pictures for the featured throughout the articles feature article and cover, and the and profiles that give you an idea many other students who posed of the depth and breadth of our for the cover shot representing

the many skill-building programs available at BCTC. We’d love to hear your feedback on this issue and suggestions for future story ideas. Send your comments and suggestions to me at ehoran@greatereadingchamber. org. You can also contact our editor and recent addition to our staff, Ellen Albright, Communications Coordinator, at Onwards & upwards,

Ellen Horan

Ellen Horan, President, CEO

Greater Reading Chamber of Commerce & Industry

Wish you could tap into today’s brightest business minds?

We start with the premise that none of us is as smart as all of us. However, put our minds together and there isn’t a business challenge we can’t overcome. A Vistage Private Advisory Board meets once a month to tackle some of today’s most challenging business issues. Is it right for you? The only way to find out is to give us a call. If you are a CEO, Key Executive or Business Owner, call: Joni Naugle

President, Naugle Associates, LLC Vistage Executive Group Chair



small business matters

wisdom; and ensure that all owners’ goals are considered. Above all, they must offer 100% honesty in a respectful way. Diversify your board with members who have expertise in various business sectors including sales/ marketing, operations, human resources, finance, and industry-specific expertise. The best advisors should be people who were where you are ten years ago. This 5,000 foot perspective can help you focus on your goals and how to achieve them.

Family Business Advisory Boards —Outside Perspective For Ongoing Success! Elaine McDevitt The Rose Corporation, CEO


ere’s the thing about family businesses—they often mix all of the objectivity and reason of any other business with all of the subjectivity and emotion of family relationships that have developed over time. And with approximately 65% of businesses in the United States being family-owned, this mix can be a recipe for very unique issues which may benefit from professional, non-family guidance.

your Dad’s business friends together and we are going to help you and your family.” Can you imagine the immediate gratefulness I felt in my very sad, very scared heart? It turns out this insightful group helped us to see the advantage of bringing on an interim president who, during his six-month term, helped us form a formal Advisory Board to move the company forward. And, ohh…the things we learned!

Implementing and maintaining a Board of Advisors for a family business is an evolving venture. The predominant goals are to protect shareholder(s)’ interests, manage risk, secure continuity and provide insight and oversight to management. If you overthink it, you’ll probably never do it; yet, with some prior reading and planning it could be a successful part of your business strategy for growth.

An Advisory Board can be a conduit for family members working inside and outside of your business to better understand the business, gain perspective on where their business is in the marketplace, and most importantly, hold shareholders accountable when there may otherwise be no one to fill that role. In my own experience, the Board also helped to even the playing field among family members, some of whom had more experience in business than others.

My personal experience with Advisory Boards at my own family’s business has been a profound journey. Our first advisory board was “ad hoc.” My father and company founder passed unexpectedly in 2010. At his viewing, a friend in the business community took my hand and said, “Elaine, I’ve gotten a few of 6  COMMERCE QUARTERLY   WINTER 2014

It is important to recruit competent professionals with integrity who will give independent oversight; provide objectivity; enforce follow-through; be sounding boards for management; ask questions and provide

Ask other professionals for prospective candidates including your attorney, CPA, or your personal network of business colleagues—the connections they can make for you will be outstanding! The new Family Business Alliance initiative at the Greater Reading Chamber of Commerce is currently developing a referral list for this very reason which may also offer potential candidates. Are you interested and have more questions? Great! To start, Google “family business advisory boards” and read through several articles of your choice. Choose from them the points that most appropriately serve your needs with regard to best practices for meeting schedules, compensation, board committees, etc. The Rose Corporation Advisory Board typically meets quarterly, and non-family members are paid per meeting. We currently do not have sub-committees, however, the issue of compensation is the most prevalent. There are three family members on our board and two outside professional advisors, and we are currently looking to add expertise in the Sales Development. When asked about Advisory Boards, my best advice is always two-fold. First, no matter what advice you are given, the final decision is yours (and your family’s) alone. Some of the decisions will work and some will not. It is all part of the process. Second, don’t learn the hard way how beneficial Advisory Boards can be. Use my education in the “school of hard knocks” and put a Board together to ensure the security of your business, your employees and your family before the unthinkable happens—and allow it to benefit everyone involved in the present!


Certified Public Accountants

Our Mission:

“Providing Resources and Support for Family Businesses.” The Berks Family Business Alliance, founded by the Greater Reading Chamber of Commerce & Industry, is a leading resource in Berks County serving family-owned and operated businesses of all sizes. Membership is open to all Berks County family-owned businesses, and their employees! It’s very easy to join. All you have to do is send an email with your name and business or organization to

Get in the Conversation with Facilitated Peer to Peer Exchange Groups. Family business owners face extraordinary challenges unique to running a family business. This is a great way to gather with your peers, share common problems and experiences, and learn how to deal with your unique situations. We allow only one participant per group from each industry segment in order to avoid competitive concerns.

Beth A. Shurr, CPA, MT, CSEP

ph: 610.678.1220 // fx: 610.743.8440 // cell: 610.587.7042 email: // web: 1020 James Dr., Ste. 103, Leesport, PA 19533

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cover story

Location, Location, Location!

Closing the Skills Gap Tracy Hoffmann Hoffmann Publishing Group


hat, you might ask, does location have to do with a workforce skills gap? The answer is, ‘everything’ if you’re a business in the Greater Reading area. A skilled and intuitive workforce is the lifeblood of any business. Lack of such talent presents challenges for business retention and growth, and investment from companies exploring relocation markets. Much has been written recently about the labor force in the Reading market, highlight-

ing the deficiencies in education attainment levels and the employment gap this creates in meeting the demands for the jobs of today and tomorrow. However, we can point to three distinct challenges that exacerbate the skills gap facing businesses: an aging workforce, emerging technologies and a disinterest in technical jobs.

between parents, teachers, school counselors and business leaders regarding tangible career paths and workplace expectations.

So, What Skills Are Required?

According to Steve Letcavage, HR Director, and Andi Funk, CEO, Cambridge-Lee Industries, the technical skills required for today’s workforce are hard to measure and Most employers and community leaders manage because they are constantly changing. agree now is the time to improve the process, “We are asking more of what had once been beginning with improved communications low-tech jobs,” says Funk. “We want all our

Pictured, from left to right: Row 1: Eric Holleran, Hayley Martin, Marissa Faranda, Annya Lauck Row 2: Amanda O’Donohue, Neve Miller, Nathaniel Weller, Beth Meck, Andrea Boyer, Emily Witmoyer Row 3: Nicholas Schaeffer, David Reiss, Haley Hopewell, Desiree Giraldi, Cassandra Boss, Jesse Zook, Dr. Lisa Greenawalt Row 4: Isiah Pomales, Seth Boylan, Meghan Weldon, Benjamin Klein, Matthew Buchman, Jared George, Mr. Erik Damgaard Row 5: Nick Francone, Matthew Weston, Kenneth Rodriguez, Austin Ellefson, Rece Harman, Alberto Rivera


employees to be skilled at critical thinking and This combination of requirements can narrow problem-solving, and to have good commu- the field of available local candidates. As a nication skills.” Letcavage adds, “Character, result, we have developed robust internal responsibility and dependability are most in training programs and expanded the geography demand. Of 21 discharges Cambridge-Lee of our recruiting efforts.” had in 2013, 14 were for absenteeism.” “Throughout the country, there have been “There are plenty of potential employees less students attracted to jobs that require with basic skills in reading, writing and math individuals to work with their hands. Our to meet the requirements of today’s jobs,” employee base is aging without a pool of confirms Letcavage, “but the skills in short candidates to back fill from the next generation, supply are the ability to learn on the job; to thus we subsequently don’t have sufficient understand and adapt to changing information innovation from the new generation. Training technology; and the non-cognitive skills to will become more important—both training fit it all together.” existing employees in these new-age skills, as well as training new entrants in the skilled “New technologies frequently require new trades that our current employees have taken skills that schools don’t teach and labor mar- decades to master,” says Funk. kets don’t supply. Information technologies have radically changed (how work gets done) Who’s Leading the Charge to over the last several years, and employers have Prepare a Skilled Workforce? had difficulty finding workers who can make “Among the top competitive advantages a the most of these new technologies. Students community can tout is a readily available workare also often reluctant to invest in education force; particularly a skilled workforce,” says until they can see a standardized skill path Jon Scott, CEO, Greater Reading Economic with a secure future,” concludes Letcavage. Partnership. “A skilled workforce is also an incredible economic development driver in Elaine McDevitt, CEO, The Rose terms of retaining existing Greater Reading Corporation, acknowledges the difficulty companies and attracting new ones.” in filling positions. “Right now we’re looking to fill a technical “As baby-boomers are reaching skills sales and service posiretirement age, we wanted to address the skills gap issue tion for our Drever line of proactively versus reactively. furnace parts and service. With this knowledge GREP This person needs a combihas made working with our nation of mechanical abilities workforce development partners to understand the drawings, a priority. We launched Careers in technical abilities to process the orders through our accounting system, and Two Years in early 2012,” adds Scott. The people skills to work with customers, both in goal of this campaign is to increase awareness writing and verbally, to satisfy their require- and get more people, particularly high-school ments. It’s very difficult to find all three skills aged students, through the technical training pipeline so they are prepared to obtain existing, in one person!” good-paying jobs in Greater Reading. The biggest challenge facing Mike Fromm, “We have seen an increase in the seats being CEO, Fromm Electric, is finding talented filled at the Berks Career & Technology Center employees to meet the demands of the (BCTC), Reading Muhlenberg Career & expanding energy, automation, and supply/ Technology Center (RMCTC) and Reading distribution industry. “To be most valuable to our customers we need to recruit people Area Community College (RACC) in the high who possess at least a basic understanding of priority occupations that have been identified electrical systems, and in some cases hands-on in our community,” indicates Scott. “These experience with sophisticated automation include welding, mechatronics and precision technology,” says Fromm. “At the same time, machining. Our work as a community is not we are looking for people with the personality Continued on page 10 traits to represent our company appropriately.

WORKFORCE SKILLS GAP: The challenge created by a gap of skills available and skills needed for 21st century jobs.

Experts predict 47 million job openings by 2018. of those jobs will require an associate’s degree or certificate, nearly all require real-world skills.


Jobs requiring MORE THAN a high school diploma but LESS THAN a 4-year degree account for:

54% of U.S. labor market

but only


of the country’s workers are trained at that level

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that by 2018, there will be a record 1.2 million unfilled jobs in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering & math)


40days 37days 31days

Associate’s-level and high-school-level STEM jobs Non-STEM jobs requiring a Bachelor’s Degree Non-STEM jobs requiring an Associate’s Degree



83% of companies report a moderate to serious shortage of skilled workers

69% expect the shortage to grow worse in the next 3–5 years

SOURCES: /file/middle-skill-fact-sheets-2014/NSC-United-StatesMiddleSkillFS-2014.pdf job-vacancies-and-stem-skills#/M10420


cover story continued…

done; while there have been increases, seats remain open and the demand for technical skills is higher than ever.”

“We are also open to forming partnerships with local companies to assist local school districts in improving how STEM subjects are taught,” interjects Walt Fullam, Director, Continuing Education. “The Home Builders Association of Berks County (HBA) has planned “We’ve had a really significant relationship with Carpenter Technology diligently and partnered carefully to diminish any ill effects of the over the past seven years to improve how STEM subjects are taught graying of skilled tradesmen,” states Christian Malesic, Executive in local schools. In addition we have worked with many other comOfficer. “The HBA works closely with each of the Berks County panies on smaller initiatives and have begun to explore how we may Career & Technology Centers, which are the skills-training high be able to replicate our highly successful Learning Factory program, schools that used to be known as Vo-Techs. The HBA and Career which involves Penn State Berks STEM students in researching and & Technology Centers continuously offer training and certification solving real-life industry problems and challenges, with high schools.” courses to help keep the workforce current. “At the high school and middle school level,” says Paul Esqueda, “Construction jobs are abundant, high-tech, are for those Sr. Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, “we are focused on with strong math and science aptitudes, and pay very well,” recruiting women and minority students into the engineering says Malesic. “Within four years of starting in construction, and technology fields. We are working with local school most earn over $40,000/year. The best, who seek out districts who are asking for assistance in engaging middle specialized training and/or management opportunities, can school and high school students in ways that make STEM easily double that within 10 years. Construction is one of careers seem more interesting and attractive.” the very few jobs that will NEVER be outsourced overseas.” Other technical programs have been strengthened and still more To further advance training oppor- business/education programs have blossomed between several tunities and narrow the skills gap, Berks County school districts and community organizations such BCTC has implemented a program as the Greater Reading Chamber of Commerce, GREP, Workforce called Technical Academy (TA). The Investment Board (WIB), Berks Business Education Coalition TA is a partnership between BCTC, (BBEC) and our local colleges. RACC and Bloomsburg University. The TA provides a variety of career Larger companies continue to develop a combination of strategies pathways that represent “high priority with in-house, apprentice-type, and outside training programs. occupations” here in Berks County According to Deb Antol, HR & Safety Manager, Sweet Street for students interested in continu- Desserts, “Sweet Street relies heavily on ongoing training as it’s critical ing their education and earning an in developing the soft and technical skills for employees. We have Associate of Science degree at RACC utilized the Chamber’s training programs, as well as many of those and, eventually, a Bachelor’s degree offered at RACC. The Mechatronics program at the Schmidt Center through Bloomsburg or another university partner. at RACC has been particularly beneficial for training employees in Maintenance technology,” says Antol. According to Bob Lees, Executive Director, BCTC, “The goal of the TA is to attract a large number of academically proficient students “The state of technology in manufacturing has changed significantly into career pathways that will eventually lead to high paying jobs over the last decade,” acknowledges Bob Harrop, Vice President, right here in Berks County. The career pathways that comprise the TA Human Resources, at East Penn Manufacturing. “Our production include Mechatronics Engineering Technology, Healthcare Information manufacturing operations, to a very great extent, employ computTechnology, Computer Networking, Computer Programming, and er-driven programming and controls. Also, many of the machine Technology-Based Entrepreneurship.” interfaces are computer-based. This means the people who install, monitor and repair our equipment must be knowledgeable and Penn State Berks has made a large commitment to Science, effective using computer-based diagnostics and understand the Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education locally programming software used to drive machine operation, while the according to R. Keith Hillkirk, Ed.D., Chancellor. “About 20% of employees who operate our production equipment must be skilled the local workforce is employed in manufacturing and there is a need and comfortable with moving through computer interfaces to review, for engineers to work in companies in that sector of the economy. interpret or adjust machine settings.” This is especially true since most of the manufacturers that remain in Berks County produce highly specialized products,” notes Hillkirk. East Penn is also a WorkKeys preferred employer, part of the WIB training regimen. “We believe the attainment of a WorkKeys Penn State Berks continues to identify STEM disciplines and Career Readiness Certificate demonstrates a significant level of degree programs that may be attractive to prospective Penn State commitment on the part of an applicant, and can set him or her Berks students and the Berks business community. They recently apart from others. WorkKeys serves as an independent verification added Mechanical Engineering and Biochemistry/Molecular Biology of an applicant’s skills in applied mathematics, locating information, as baccalaureate degrees which can be completed at Penn State Berks. and reading for information; all of which are important skills in today’s manufacturing environment.” 10  COMMERCE QUARTERLY   WINTER 2014

The BBEC is also committed. Under Solomon Lausch, Ph.D., Executive Director, and retired superintendent of Schuylkill Valley School District, the BBEC has pulled leaders from our local school districts to participate in a ‘Students Interacting with Business’ program that reached more than 4,000 middle school students from across the county. In conjunction with the Greater Reading Chamber and GREP, the program was an opportunity for these students to visit one of over 21 manufacturers, contractors and service companies to see first-hand what jobs are in the community and what skills are required for employment. And there are early adopter technical programs being introduced within our local school districts. Berks Catholic had a STEM day for 7th grade girls in the spring. “Because only 20% of women graduate with a degree in physics, engineering, or computer science,” says Tony Balistrere, principal, “we felt that it was important to address this issue by making girls aware, raising interest, and preparing students to study STEM in college.” In addition, Berks Catholic is currently working on a STEM project in partnership with a professor from Penn State Berks; runs a science activity day once a year with 6th grade students; and will place emphasis on addressing STEM in the classroom by reaching out and forming additional partnerships with the local colleges and businesses. “We hope to have students shadow with local professionals to see what engineers, computer programmers/engineers, and medical professionals actually do during a normal workday,” says Alice Einolf, assistant principal. The Wilson School District runs an iSTEM academy, where Andi Funk had first-hand experience. “My oldest son, Bailey, was actually in the iSTEM academy his 9th grade year at Wilson, and I was very impressed. I think programs like this are vital—both to equip our youth with opportunities as they enter the workforce, as well as the benefit to our nation: to bring skills and innovation to the base of manufacturing currently here and also to birth new ideas and businesses we need for our future. The STEM program increases critical thinking, problem solving, engineering, and math skills. The program was excellent—cutting edge in terms of integrating these functions and providing hands-on projects.”

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• Three-fourths of children who are not proficient readers by the end of third grade remain poor readers in middle school and high school. These students also experience more behavioral and social problems and have higher grade retentions. • Children who do not read proficiently by the end of third grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school and thirteen times more likely to drop out if they live in poverty.

How Can You Contribute to Narrowing the Gap?

However, it’s important that we address the soft skills at a much earlier age to impart the desire to learn. “This becomes clear, when you realize national research identifies 3rd grade reading ability as a leading indicator of longterm educational and life success,” says Tammy White, President, United Way of Berks County. The statistics below make a compelling point, enough so that the United Way of Berks County created a major initiative titled, Ready.Set.READ!, to help close the gap on the number of third graders not reading proficiently by the end of third grade, as measured by third grade PSSA test scores.

There are many things you can do to attack this issue. First, we ask you to assess the strengths and weaknesses in your hiring and training processes. Next, we invite you to reach out to any of the local colleges, school districts, training partners and community organizations mentioned within this article or anywhere within the Greater Reading area to see how you may partner with them in fostering a partnership to building a sustainable workforce. And, last, we ask you to take an active role in communicating the importance of education and workforce development to your employees, and creating an environment where they take those ideas home to their children and their children’s teachers and school counselors. It all starts with increased communication and awareness.

• Until the end of third grade, children learn to read. After that, they read to learn, making the end of third grade a critical point in the educational process.

If you would like to read more on what our interviewees contributed to this topic, we invite you to visit to read all the comments. Enjoy and let us know what you think.   11

entrepreneur’s corner


he Greater Reading Chamber celebrates the role of entrepreneurs in our community each and every day. We work with these small businesses to provide suggestions, deliver solutions and expand their networks. But behind each of these businesses lies an untold story of perseverance, passion, and most importantly—the people responsible for creating vibrancy and innovation in our region. Looking for some business tips or a little inspiration? Check out the conversation below between Commerce Quarterly, David Vollmer, Isolator Fitness, Inc. and Steve Smith, Awesome Dawgs Dog Training, LLC.

CQ: What is the single

most critical talent you possess in your role as a business owner? DV: Passion to never give

up and never accept that it can’t be done.

David Vollmer is the President of Isolator Fitness, Inc. His company manufactures and distributes a Made in the USA Meal Management System (Lunch Cooler).

SS: One of my strongest

talents is problem identification and resolution. Identifying a business bottleneck and removing it before the client or customer see it is critical to any business.

CQ: What do you find unique

about your field of work?

SS: A very unique aspect to

Steve Smith is the owner of Awesome Dawgs Dog Training, LLC, a dog training company committed to enhancing the lives of people and their dogs.

our business is that we are challenged with communicating, teaching and problem solving with a living, thinking, decision making pet that has nothing in common with our form of communication. As this process unfolds we must also remember the client is really the pet parents, not the pet.

DV: Business can be done

profitably in the USA and there is so much that can be done to increase profitability with technology.


CQ: What have you learned

about yourself on your journey as a business owner?

SS: I have learned that

my personal drive and determination to succeed will often interfere with my prioritizing of other parts of my life. Maintaining life balance outside of the business is my greatest challenge.

DV: That I don’t know

anything yet!

CQ: What might someone be

surprised to know about you, or your business? DV: That I have a M.S. in

Wildlife Biology, and knew nothing about manufacturing!

“You can never manage a project, you can only manage people.” I keep this thought with me every time I set out to identify and solve a business flow bottleneck I see coming up on the horizon.

CQ: What is one book

you think everyone should read?

DV: The Goal, Dr. Eliyahu

M. Goldratt

SS: The 21 Irrefutable

Laws of Leadership, John C. Maxwell

CQ: What resources in Berks

County have helped you to be successful?

SS: Kutztown University Life CQ: What is the best

business advice you ever received from a mentor or peer?

SS: A very good piece of

advice that was shared with me by a CEO of a very successful business that has been in Berks County for 75 years is

Long Learning program, RACC courses, SCORE, Customers Bank, and the best resource of all, every single customer that has walked through our doors.

DV: Greater Reading

Economic Partnership

small biz thrives: In a community comprised of so many small businesses, it is important to recognize the successes of those who are booming in Berks! This issue, we talked to Dr. Patrick M. Borja, Owner and Director of the Spine and Wellness Center, on the health and wellness not only of his patients, but also of his business!

Patrick M. Borja, D.C.,

Advertise in

Commerce Quarterly

Owner and Director—Spine & Wellness Center Edited By Ellen Albright, Greater Reading Chamber


Reach 3,500 C-Level Decision-makers & Nearly 25,000 Readers!

r. Borja started his office in May 2000, only two months after he bought his first house and six days before his first child was born! That being said, a full plate has never discouraged Dr. Borja—and his thriving small business is a direct reflection of that!

The Spine and Wellness Center is a fully integrated healthcare facility utilizing providers of Chiropractic, Acupuncture, Massage, Physical Therapy, Personal Training, Counseling, Weight Loss, Spa Services, and various exercise classes. The providers are best known for their quality of service. Every person that comes in is treated like they would want their own families treated, and every individual receives a plan that is specifically designed just for their health needs. An external challenge Dr. Borja has experienced remains to be healthcare as a whole with its ups and downs. From his perspective, “Insurance can be difficult to deal with sometimes but with the collaborative efforts between the Chiropractic community and the medical community, the future is bright. Chiropractors treat only about 8% of the population today. With more research coming out showing the benefits of spinal manipulation and more coverage through insurance companies, Chiropractors should be able to start seeing more of the population.” Before starting his business, Dr. Borja was inundated with people, consultants, and Chiropractors on what to do to build a business. As he recalls, “I was told to network but never was there an emphasis on doing that. My piece of advice for anyone who starts a business is to get involved with their local Chamber of Commerce, get involved in a networking group and continue to go out and meet people.”

Greater Reading


WINTE R 2014


Berks Park 78 Gains National Recogniti on As Shovel-Ready


Small Busines s & Government :

A Long Distance Relation


Commerce Quarterly is mailed to 1,500 Chamber-member business owners and C-Level Executives, more than 1,500 non-member business owners, C-Level executives, and education, government, municipal and community leaders, and nearly 500 high-traffic locations throughout the Greater Reading area.

When asked why people choose to come to the Spine and Wellness Center, Dr. Borja shared, “People choose my office because they trust us. Most of our new patients come from referrals from their family, their friends or their medical doctors. The reason people continue to use our services is that they are comfortable with my staff and they know they are getting what they need to get and stay healthy.” Dr. Borja added, “The best part of my job is watching people become healthy whether it is them getting out of pain, eating healthier or getting stronger through exercise. It’s amazing to watch people be able to reduce their medications or in some cases eliminate their medications because they are healthy enough to do so.”


Publishing Group


Alicia Lee // 610.685.0914 ext 210

Brad Hess // 610.685.0914 ext 204


made in berks

Reading Plastic Fabricators Diane Reed Greater Reading Chamber


ust a few feet off Route 222, atop a winding dirt driveway, sits one of Berks County’s—literally hidden— manufacturing gems. Located on their own “mini-mountain” site, the 17-employee Reading Plastic Fabricators’ facility machines and fabricates all different types of plastic and metal parts, specializing in high end tight tolerance jobs. In business nearly thirty-five years in Berks County, clients and suppliers are still shocked by the advanced machinery sitting on the floor of the plant when they come to visit!

Reading Plastic Fabricators (RPF) products are used in production facilities across a wide They are extremely spectrum of industries, rangexcited to see that ing from the food industry, to manufacturing is medical/pharmaceutical, defense, returning to the and telecommunications. Many States, and believe industries utilize RPF for finished parts, and they also distribute the economic forecast sheet and rod stock to end users. for manufacturing Currently competing primarily in will spike in 2015, the region, RPF also has parts that staying strong for ship globally, and they hope to years to come. grow both markets as they expand.

694 Reading Avenue West Reading, PA 19611

Phone: 610-373-2212


The team at RPF is optimistic and enthusiastic about the growth opportunities in their market currently, calling them, “phenomenal.” They are extremely excited to see that manufacturing is returning to the States, and believe the economic forecast for manufacturing will spike in 2015, staying strong for years to come. To complement their anticipated growth, they also feel positive about the workforce in Reading, PA. Debbie Sanders, Sales/Marketing Director, commented, “We have found this is an excellent area to find skilled workers.” Parts production ranges from playground pirate ships to fighter jet parts. RPF notes that their quality precision and old world craftsmanship blend with hightech equipment allowing for their custom plastic machining operation to provide high-quality tight tolerance parts out of exotic plastic materials.

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Surf fishermen worldwide use this product to deflate their vehicle tire pressure for beach driving.

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These parts contribute to a “repeater unit” that sits on the bottom of the ocean floor—allowing for the world to communicate!

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Grow your own. It takes great people to grow and develop a great business—let us help you get from good to great! Our Lead Worker Training and Supervisor Modules were developed with the employee in mind—we take the whole person concept offering curriculum not just for training your employees but developing them to meet your goals and needs for today and tomorrow.



Those employees who are ready to be a lead worker or promoted to a supervisory position. These courses provide your new and prospective lead workers and supervisors the foundation for excelling in today’s manufacturing environment.


This program provides the tools necessary to lead a production team in today’s manufacturing environment. Topics include: Expectations of the Lead Worker; Coaching, communicating and productive feedback; Communicating Up; Improving Work Habits; Conflict and Resolution; Business Writing.

12 WEEKS ON MONDAYS, START DATE January 5th, 9:30 – 11:30 a.m. or 6:00–8:00 p.m. | $610 per person

BENEFITS OF TRAINING:  Grooms your employees for the future of your company  Engages your employees  Develops skills to move your employees to the next level in your organization  Empowers your employees to feel confident making important decisions With today’s shortage of skilled workers, don’t you need to establish strong internal training to develop more skills, decrease employee turnover and experience fewer labor problems with on-the-job training techniques?

This program consists of three modules, providing new and prospective supervisors the foundation for excelling as a supervisor in today’s manufacturing environment. While these modules do not need to be taken in order, all three must be completed to receive the Series Certificate of Completion.

THE ROLE OF A SUPERVISOR/ MANAGER (MODULE I): Topics include The Supervisor’s Role in Management; EEO & the Law; Selection, Orientation & Training; Motivating the Average Performer; Discipline & Recognition; Planning, Organizing & Controlling; Problem Solving & Decision Making 8 WEEKS ON THURSDAYS, START DATE January 22nd, 8:30–11:30 a.m. or 6:00-8:00 p.m. | $495 per person

MANAGING & BUILDING WORKPLACE RELATIONSHIPS (MODULE II): Topics include Communicating & Listening; Delegating; Improving Work Habits; Understanding Groups & Developing Teams; Handling Complaints; Emotional Intelligence 8 WEEKS ON WEDNESDAYS, START DATE January 28th, 8:30–11:30 a.m. | $495 per person

LEVERAGING WORKPLACE RELATIONSHIPS FOR ORGANIZATIONAL SUCCESS (MODULE III): Topics include Understanding Yourself & Others (DISC assessment); Managing Relationships & Valuing Differences; Conflict Management; Communicating w/Difficult People 4 WEEKS ON FRIDAYS, START DATE January 30th, 8:30-11:30 a.m. $495 per person


Please contact Diane Reed, Director of Business Services, @ 610-898-8387 to customize your program or to qualify for WEDnet funding and Danielle Antos, Program Coordinator, @ 610.898.7780 for training information.

Visit our website for the complete training schedule.

industry trends


Con s tr uc ti on


hristian Malesick, Executive Director John “Jack” R. Zimmer, CAE, ABC Keystone What Our Members of the Home Builders Association President and CEO, national nonresidential are Experiencing… Berks, is seeing growth among his construction remains on a slow road to recov“New construction is now a viable option members—slow growth, but growth none- ery. Nationwide, 16,000 new construction for Industrial users in Berks. Vacancy rates are theless. One metric used to track economic jobs were created in September of 2014, down at a 10 year low and lease rates are creeping activity in his industry is building permits from 20,000 in the previous month. Of those up. Still more affordable than the Lehigh for housing starts. Multi-family dwellings (i.e. 16,000, only 20% were nonresidential jobs, Valley, Harrisburg or Montgomery County, new apartments and senior living complexes) have indicating a sluggish bounce back from years construction permits a company to build in been stronger than single family detached of stagnation. efficiencies and streamline processes.” dwellings this past year. – Steve Willems, This national total incorporates a continued SIOR, NAI Keystone Remodeling business metrics are not as decline in construction backlog in southern easily tracked. Even before the May hail storm, states (down 2.8% from Q1, 2014) however, local remodeling businesses were seeing an and a higher than average backlog in the “I’m gaining confidence in our Berks County uptick in smaller scale projects, as opposed northeast, particularly due to strong activity in real estate recovery, albeit a slow recovery. The to major renovations and additions. That New York, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts. average sale price has improved over the last certainly accelerated after the hail storm with three years to the point of recovering half roof replacements, siding repairs and awnings Statewide, construction job numbers bolster of the losses it suffered. “Short Sales" (sales needing replacement. Other remodelers the regional trend; Pennsylvania reported where the value of the property is less than did well as competition was diverted to hail 232,400 total construction jobs in September the debt against it) have dropped significantly. repair work. of 2014, up 2.5% from the year before. The This is indicative of the rising values which Reading MSA is growing at roughly half that creates a positive equity position for home In the commercial construction industry, rate, reporting 7,600 construction jobs in homeowners. Another significant market factor the “construction backlog report” is a key September of 2014, or an increase of 1.3% is the nationally estimated 3 million Gen Y+X/ metric which gets national coverage when over the year before. first time home buyers that are sitting on the it is published every quarter. According to sideline for varies reasons (pent up demand). When they enter back into the market they will have a powerful positive impact. The last factor, but most critical to an improved local housing Building Permits by State and Metro Areas market, is the completion of Route 222 North. This will have a tremendous positive effect on Single Family Multi-Family Total (chart represented values. Over all, I sense a local market that is in thousands) August 14 YTD August 14 YTD August 14 YTD picking up momentum.” (annual % CHG) (annual % CHG) (annual % CHG) – Jack Fry, 259.8 (17%) 689.8 (6%) 429.9 (0%) United States Broker/Owner, RE/MAX of Reading 34.0 (19%) 57.2 (10%) 23.3 (-1%) Mid Atlantic Pennsylvania

9.82 (-12%)

4.38 (17%)

14.4 (-5%)

Reading MSA

.09 (-15%)

.06 (68%)

.15 (5%)

For more data on housing trends, go to


“The outlook for our industry is POSITIVE; that being the residential housing market. Mortgage rates are still low and expected to remain low, employment has been steadily getting better, people have recouped their

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wealth they lost back in the 2009 stock market crash, and housing prices have increased thus giving them better resale values of their own homes AND higher collateral to use for home improvement loans. All these ingredients are necessary for steady growth in this market.” – Andy Wernick, President, Industrial Plywood “The flooring industry nationally continues to experience subpar growth having increased about 4% YOY in the first 3 quarters of 2013 vs. over 7% YOY in the same period 2013. The hardest hit component of floor covering sales has been the residential replacement market which is down over 1% from last year. Locally, My Dad’s Flooring America, which primarily serves residential consumers and small to mid-size businesses, is seeing YOY sales up double digit percentages after being up over 20% in 2013. The exciting thing from my perspective is that we are seeing more of the middle part of the market coming back. For the past few years most of our customers were higher net worth individuals or businesses and individuals that had to replace their flooring. We are now seeing business and consumers making purchases not out of necessity but because they want to invest in improving their home or business. I interpret this as a sign that both business owners and consumers are feeling more confident about their personal financial situation and the recovering economy. –Ed Graefe, Owner, My Dad’s Flooring America

What is one leadership/business book everyone should read? • The Choice, Og Mandino – Marie Smith, Smith Enterprises • Seeing What’s Next, Clayton Christensen – Kress Schwartz, Quadrant • Mistakes were Made (But Not By Me), Carol Tavris & Elliot Aronson, and The Tipping Point, Malcolm Blackwell – Nicole Kocher, Reading Health System • Daring Greatly, Brene Brown – Christin Kelley, SSM Group, Inc. • 10X, Grant Cardone, Making Work Work, Julie Morganstern – Dennis Kintzer, DMKintzer Productions • Leaders Eat Last, Simon Sinek – Trish Shermot, Visions Federal Credit Union • Strength Finders 2.0, Tom Rath – Sara Stump, Suburban Testing Labs • Good to Great, Tom Collins – Kathy Metrick, Kutztown Area School District • Tough Calls from the Corner Office, Harlan Steinbaum – Toni Miller, Boscov’s, Inc. • Bossypants, Tina Fey – Stephanie Shaak, Reading Public Museum


ben franklin invests in our community

Custom Processing Services Succeeding with Support from Ben Franklin & Other Economic Developers Laura S. Eppler Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania


ustom Processing Services, Inc., Reading, PA, specializes in micronizing both technical grade and cGMP materials into ultra-fine particles. Customers worldwide use the processed materials in a wide range of products, including chemical powders, waxes, polymers, minerals, metals, fillers, and pigments.

Development Fund, which helped the company access a number of federal and state investment programs to fund equipment and working capital needs. BFTP/NEP also connected the company with Penn State for analysis of its machinery, which validated its efficiency and provided an important endorsement.

In 1998, the young company applied for seed funding from the Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania (BFTP/NEP). While the financial investments from Ben Franklin were crucial to the company’s success, CPS also found great value in the connections that BFTP/NEP helped forge. Ben Franklin introduced CPS to the Greater Berks

Steadily increasing sales fueled the company’s purchase of additional facilities in 2004 and 2007. In fall 2011, CPS opened a state-of-theart facility to process food—and pharmaceutical—grade products, serving new markets in those industries. The cGMP facility has several versatile clean rooms, which can be configured for each client’s needs. One GMP station has been outfitted with two large stainless steel double ribbon blenders for combining ingredients either as part of a size reduction campaign or as a stand-alone service.




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More recently, CPS received another investment from Ben Franklin to work with Northampton Community College’s Emerging Technologies Applications Center. They investigated how the waste energy from a proposed thermochemical process could be used in the company’s manufacturing processes and as a potential fuel source for production of steam and/or a combined heat and power system. They also analyzed the economics, technical, and environmental issues involved with the process. Just a few months ago, CPS teamed with BFTP/NEP and Lehigh University’s Enterprise Systems Center to create new processes to manage internal logistics and minimize material handling costs. This will allow the company to efficiently manage its projected continued growth.

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Starting with two founders, Custom Processing Services now employs more than 120 people, with at least 20 new hires projected by the end of this year. Joining CPS in Ben Franklin’s current portfolio are other Greater Reading companies, including Ametek-Reading Alloys, Inc., Cambridge-Lee Industries, LLC, East Coast Erosion Control, LLC, Fidelity Technologies Corporation, GENPORE, and Suburban Testing Laboratories, Inc.

The Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania creates and retains highly paid, sustainable jobs by linking early-stage technology-based firms and established manufacturers with experts, universities, funding, and other resources to help them prosper through innovation. It is part of an award-winning, four-center economic development initiative of the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development and is funded by the Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority. The Ben Franklin Technology Partners has returned $3.60 to the Pennsylvania treasury for every $1.00 invested in the program. To learn how Ben Franklin can help your company, contact Connie Faylor, Regional Manager, Greater Reading/Berks and Schuylkill, at 610-390-7116 or

800.613.2665 Fax: 610.544.6551


volunteer spotlight

Michele Reinert

Director of Development, South Mountain YMCA Camps

AVP/Branch Manager, First Priority Bank

Ray Maillet

Nancy Hoban

Role with the Chamber:

Role with the Chamber:

Role with the Chamber:

Chamber Ambassador Committee

Chamber Ambassador Committee

W2W Council Member, Program Committee, Girls2Leaders Education Committee




ichele is an energetic go-getter who joined the Chamber Ambassador group in 2008. Michele says it was an easy “yes” when invited to participate, as she values the opportunities to network and build relationships with those in the community. A number of these contacts have now become great friends and professional mentors, even joining together to do skits from 70’s TV shows at the Chamber’s Winter Picnic; a favorite memory of Michele’s! As Director of Development for South Mountain YMCA Camps, Michele is able to reach countless young people and families by providing camping and educational programs that build personal leadership, character, life-skills, respect and responsibility. When she isn’t working, volunteering, or inspiring others, Michele enjoys spending time outdoors with her three Labrador Retrievers—Nikko, Cyrus, and Chase. In her words, “There’s nothing better than coming home to three hundred pounds of fur babies that have spent all day missing you as much as you miss them!” Thanks for all that you do, Michele!

ay works for First Priority Bank, a full-service bank with locations in Berks, Bucks, Chester, and Montgomery Counties offering a wide array of banking products for both the consumer and commercial customer. What you might not know about Ray is that he works part-time as an on-air personality for his hometown radio stations, AM-1270 WLBR and Soft Rock 100.1 WQIC. Ray says, “Volunteering for the Chamber has given me the opportunity to meet some great people and to not only refer business, but have business referred to me as well!” Ray believes that networking and educational opportunities are endless with the Chamber, and the chance to increase your business through participation is amazing. You’ll be sure to see Ray at our networking events, but if you miss him—you can always tune into his radio show!


fter retiring from a 31-year career in education at BCIU, Nancy wanted to work with and get to know the “movers and shakers” of the business community whose efforts directly impact the economy and the well-being of our county. She became very involved as a volunteer with the Chamber’s Women2Women Initiative, and enjoys taking the minutes for the W2W Council, the Program Committee, and the Girls2Leaders Education Committee. (Some of the best meeting minutes we’ve ever seen!) Her favorite Chamber memory to date was helping out at the Spring Renewal Expo for Women2Women, despite the devastating hail storm that hit Berks on the same day! When Nancy isn’t busy taking notes at one of the three committees she sits on, she enjoys spending time with her husband of forty years, Jim, and their four cats—Mollie, Moe, Minnie, and Max. We appreciate your dedication, Nancy!

Jeremiah Sensenig

Financial Advisor, Customers Bank Role with the Chamber: Business & Community Advocacy Council, Budgets, Spending & Tax Issues Committee, Endorsement Taskforce


eremiah serves as a Financial Advisor with Customers Bank, where he assists individuals and small businesses with the discovery process of what their long-term financial vision is. He then illustrates and executes a plan to make that vision a reality! Jeremiah first came to the Chamber when he moved to the area in 2008 as a way to get involved with the business community and to be involved in the top issues facing the Greater Reading area. Through his volunteer work with the Chamber, Jeremiah notes that there is so much that can be gleaned from spending time with other business leaders, adding that not only can they share wisdom on what to pursue, but sometimes also on what not to do! You might be interested to know that while still in college, Jeremiah paid for part of his education by waiting tables. His current career path came about after being recruited by a group of brokers while enjoying a meal at the restaurant he worked at, further proving that first impressions can be crucial to your success! Keep up the great work, Jeremiah!

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President, CEO, Tompkins VIST Bank

Scott L. Gruber


A leader both in business and the community, Scott has mentored countless young people over the years.

o, that’s not a sci-fi transmitter in Scott’s hand…Rather a piece of equipment from a BCTC classroom. Scott believes in the importance of expanding knowledge in unrelated fields in order to remain well-balanced and open-minded. (It should be noted that Scott’s visit to BCTC inspired him to inquire about welding classes at BCTC—a banker and a welder; now that’s what we call a trailblazer!)


Ellen Albright, Greater Reading Chamber

As President and CEO of Tompkins VIST Bank and the Chairman of the Board of your Chamber, Scott shares that the most exciting thing about being in a leadership role is embracing a team approach.

Scott prioritizes “character and integrity—leading by example. If you have the will, good work ethic, and surround yourself with good people, virtually nothing can stop you from achieving a good plan.” Communication is also key; “Whether you’re working as an individual or as a team, this skill needs to be nurtured and developed.”

Take Me To Your Leader “Inspiring your team to be engaged allows you to capitalize on their strengths. If you’re able to inspire people to believe in their contribution, create a passion around what the vision is, and engage them—that’s what it’s all about. And have some fun, too —growing as a leader means rolling up your sleeves!” You may even see Scott out and about on his Harley with his wife. That’s right —a banker, a welder, and a biker—did we mention Scott believes in being well-rounded?


out & about

W2W Launch Event with JJ Ramberg, Host of MSNBC’s Your Business & Co-Founder,

1847 Financial celebrated their ribbon cutting at 14 Commerce Drive, Spring Ridge, PA.

Riverview Bank celebrated the

opening of their f  irst full service

Banking facility located at 2800 State Hill Road in Wyomissing.

RPA Engineering celebrated their new LEED certif  ied remodeled corporate headquarters

on 400 Spring Ridge, Wyomissing, PA 19610. 24  COMMERCE QUARTERLY   WINTER 2014

Gateway Ticketing Sys

its new headquarters in Co

Transportation Luncheon, October 2014

FBA Fall Forum with Guest, Chris Martin, CEO, Martin Guitars.

stems celebrated

olebrookdale Township.

Rising Star Award Ceremony   25

in your community

Berks Park 78 Gains National Recognition As Shovel-Ready Site Thomas C. McKeon, AICP, CEcD Berks County Industrial Development Authority


istory—In 2001, national site selection consultants evaluated Berks County’s economic development potential. They found a major weakness to be a lack of shovel-ready sites. And it’s still true today. The weakness causes prospects attracted by Berks County’s location to pass it over. It hurts existing companies because they are left with very few options to expand.

The consultants said that organizations like Lehigh Valley Industrial Park Inc. (LVIP) were learning to correct this defect and recommended that the Berks County Industrial Development Authority (BCIDA) follow their lead. The BCIDA’s initial effort would become Berks Park 78.

From those plans, traffic, labor, environmental, endangered species, archeological, geology, soils, hydrology and storm water studies were generated. That work allowed the BCIDA to eventually acquire all entitlements (permit approvals) for the project. With confidence in the market and a pathway to the completion of permitting, the BCIDA, with two loans, borrowed $20M to begin infrastructure construction. That was supplemented by an investment of the BCIDA’s own equity and a $3M state grant.

together a team of legal, engineering, real estate brokerage and construction management expertise.

On August 17, 2012, the BCIDA sold two lots totaling 196 acres on the same day. One sold to Dollar General and the other to the developer of PetSmart. In April 2013, BCIDA sold another 89.2 acres to Dermody Properties (DP), a leading national developer. DP is building a 750,000 square foot speculative building on the site. With these transactions, the BCIDA’s investment was recovered, the loans were paid back and a reserve was created for new job and tax base generating projects. The BCIDA still has a 17-acre parcel capable of accommodating a 163,200 square foot building and a 2-acre parcel that remain for sale. Here are the results.

The team decided that the market for the 323-acre site was moving toward larger warehouse/distribution sites that could ➤ Jobs: Dollar General built a 906,919 SF accommodate buildings in the range of distribution center which became operational The approach was simple. Make it easy 1,000,000 square feet. A site layout was earlier this year. It will serve 1,000 stores in for an end user or developer to say yes by created with lots large enough for these sizes the Northeast. It will create 500 new jobs. removing all the mystery from the site. No while accommodating the need for internal PetSmart cut the ribbon on a 870,000 surprises meant that every aspect had to be roads, infrastructure and the preservation thoroughly planned and every development of natural features such as the number of SF distribution center with an expansion of 200,880 SF in 2016. Eleven states and Eastern obstacle removed. wetlands on the property. Canada with 260 stores will be served. New Along with its staff, the BCIDA’s five-memThe concept was eventually turned into job growth is projected at 542 jobs. ber board of business professionals put subdivision and land development plans.


Utilizing an economic and fiscal impact model, the combined job impact of the two projects alone is: Direct Jobs, 1,045; Indirect Jobs, 266; Induced Jobs, 356; and Total Jobs, 1,667. One-time construction jobs are 1,506. With the projected development of the remaining lots which comprise 913,200 square feet it is estimated that the total Berks Park 78 projected permanent job impact will be 2,200 jobs. ➤ Capital Investment: Dollar General’s total capital investment for building construction, machinery equipment and furniture, fixtures and equipment is $90M. PetSmart’s is $87.1M, for a total capital investment from the two projects of $177.1M. Another $80M is expected from the development of the remaining lots making the projected total capital investment for Berks Park 78, approximately $257M. ➤ Economic Impact and Tax Benefits: Models show the combined economic impact for the region during the next ten years is estimated to be $1.39 billion from PetSmart

and Dollar General. It will close to $2 billion once end users occupy the remaining lots. During 10 years, it is projected that $40M in tax revenue for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania will be produced from the two projects.

Despite the existence of a LERTA tax abatement district, it is estimated that $20M in real estate taxes over the next ten years will be collected for Bethel Township, Berks County and the Tulpehocken School District. Over the next 30 years it is projected the taxing bodies will collect over $100 million. BP78’s success has won numerous awards and been featured in several national real estate magazines.

Ride to Prosperity: Beginning in 2009, eight leading local organizations began collaborating to develop a new economic development plan for Greater Reading and Berks County. This initiative culminated with the June 2010 release of the Ride to Prosperity: Strategies for Economic Competitiveness in Greater Reading. The original RTP plan has helped guide key county economic development initiatives for the past four years, and spurred a new spirit of collaboration around the important work of building a more prosperous and successful Greater Reading and Berks County. Members include: The Berks County Industrial Development Authority, Berks County Planning Commission, Berks County Workforce Investment Board, the City of Reading, Greater Berks Development Fund, Greater Reading Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Greater Reading Convention and Visitors Bureau, and Greater Reading Economic Partnership.

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business & community advocacy

What Drives Your Business? Fred Levering Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Chairman, Chamber Transportation Committee


ransportation is quite literally the driving force of our local When a coalition of business and community members convene economy. Not only can traffic stall your morning commute, around an issue, real change and impact occurs. That has occurred it also can stall the growth of your business. A sound multi- around transportation issues and real progress is being made to modal transportation structure is imperative in order to efficiently ensure our regional community has a safe, reliable and efficient and safely move people, goods, and ideas from place to place. It has transportation system. been proven that a highly connected transportation system is directly correlated to increased economic prosperity and standards of living. Many of these projects will take years to complete. PA’s Twelve On the other hand, consequences of poorly connected systems Year Plan is designed to help Pennsylvania prioritize its many transinclude increased costs, unreliable transport of goods/services, and portation projects within the available funding. It is a collaboration inaccessibility to markets. among the State Transportation Commission (STC), Metropolitan and Rural Planning Organizations, Federal Transportation Agencies and owners and operators of transportation services.

Let our family

Over the last five years, we have made significant progress in bringing together the key stakeholders to achieve consensus that Route 222 North is our number one priority road project—just ask any local, state or federal official. This project has been ongoing for many years. The road in its current configuration presents significant public safety issues and environmental concerns for the region’s travelers and businesses. The 15-mile stretch between Reading and Interstate I-78 is the only portion which is NOT a four or five-lane highway.


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In reviewing the current state and federal transportation-funding situation, a project with the scope and cost of US 222 North will require a phased approach. A tactical plan for this project focuses on regional transportation planning and funding strategies. It is our immediate goal to have PennDOT continue with its planned 222 North corridor projects for improved intersections on existing road alignment to enable future four to five lane highway to I-78.

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There are other capacity, safety and maintenance issues on primary roads (i.e. West Shore Bypass, 422 West, 183, 61 and 176) within our region that also are being addressed. We have formed a public-private partnership between the Chamber and Berks County Commissioners ( to keep our community vibrant during the much needed bridge construction work that will be occurring around Reading beginning November 2014 through 2018. While real progress is being made on our road network, we still need to dream. The Reading Railroad is part of our heritage and rail

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will be a big part of our future. Restoring passenger service between Greater Reading and Philadelphia will be a real game-changer, enhancing quality of life and economic growth. At the Chamber’s Transportation Luncheon in October, we celebrated the success of passing the PA Transportation Funding Act 89 and addressed the damaging impacts that inadequate federal transportation funding would have on Berks County priority projects. We heard from PA Secretary of Transportation Barry Schoch, Congressman Meehan, and Congressman Dent. In discussion with Mark Schlott from R M Palmer, an efficient transportation infrastructure is critical to ensure his products continue to be produced here and shipped to market. The same sentiment is echoed from others in our community whether it be shipping products, moving employees or clients, emergency response, schools, entertainment venues or an individual on an appointment. Our multimodal transportation infrastructure is critical to provide mobility for people, goods and commerce for our community’s wellbeing. This encompasses: roads/bridges, ports/ waterways, freight/passenger rail, transit and bicycle/pedestrian. To ensure our quality of place and enable resident businesses to thrive and expand, as well as attracting new business ventures, we must be involved. We have a shared responsibility to participate in the policy and solutions process to make US 222 North, among other connectors, a reality for our future.


PennDOT is advancing design of the bridge rehabilitation and anticipates construction will begin following the reopening of Buttonwood Street Bridge. During construction, the bridge will remain open but there will be lane restrictions. In particular, the ramp from westbound US 422 (West Shore Bypass) to Penn St. (downtown Reading) will be closed and detoured for the duration of the project (estimated 2–3 construction seasons).


Berks County anticipates rehabilitation will begin in early 2015 and the bridge will remain closed during construction for approximately two consecutive seasons (or until late 2016). When reopened, there will be no restrictions on use. *Buttonwood Street Bridge project letting has been moved back to January 29, 2015.

BACKGROUND: The Greater Reading Chamber of Commerce & Industry and the Berks County Commisioners are proactively working together to ensure our entire community is kept informed concerning key bridge construction projects and potential impacts on traffic patterns, including the 2015 closure of the Buttonwood Street Bridge along with the subsequent Penn Street Bridge rehabilitation impact on traffic patterns. We have established a special workgroup as part of the Chamber Transportation Committee with key partners including but not limited to the Berks County Planning Department, PA Department of Transportation, City of Reading, West Reading, Commuter Services, and BARTA. The goal of this workgroup is to identify potential issues and ways to keep our Greater Reading economy and quality of place vibrant during the construction of the Buttonwood Street Bridge and Penn Street Bridge Rehabilitation Project.

REGIONAL INITIATIVE: We started by understanding the traffic patterns, construction plans and identifying other key stakeholders. Our business community (employers), emergency responders, educational institutions, art & entertainment venues, local government, residents and community at large all need to be kept informed. Commuter Services is working with employers to determine employee travel patterns and offer information on travel options (carpooling, transit, park-n-rides, etc.) for commuters during the construction of the bridges. A communication strategy was evaluated and webpage launched to provide a central resource center with updated information on the bridge construction and travel alternatives. This public private partnership group continues to work with all key stakeholders.


business & community advocacy

Small Business & Government:

A Long Distance Relationship

permeates their lives despite that fact they have yet to meet face to face. Particularly in the relationship of government and business, it is hard for the pair to really get to know one another without that one on one interaction over cappuccinos in the corner of a quaint coffee shop. Fortunately for the GRCCI members who decided to take part in the Chamber’s Business Advocacy Day in DC, we were able to have that intimate conversation our relationship so desperately demanded. After arriving to DC by bus, our first order of business was to awaken our tired legs with a trek up Capitol Hill. Once inside, we were met by Ben Taylor of the U.S. Chamber, who welcomed us and briefed us on the latest Chamber priorities. With many of us eager to talk healthcare, we learned the specifics of the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act (PPACA) and engaged in a dialogue with Paul Edattel of the Energy and Commerce Committee, U.S. House of Representatives. PPACA, or the Affordable Care Act for short, mandates all businesses with more than 50 full-time employees provide health insurance. While ideally this would ensure all employees receive coverage, some companies circumvent this legislation by utilizing part-time employees. This issue is a particular sticking point for non-profits and companies that operate seasonally. Katherine Boylan Greater Reading Chamber Volunteer

Next we met with Senator Pat Toomey, who answered questions about transportation funding, tax reform, and other regulations affecting business. Mark Schlott of RM f you are reading this article, it is extremely However, if you are one of the many who Palmer, a chocolate novelties manufacturer in likely that you run, or are employed by, owns his or her own small business, you West Reading, voiced his concerns regarding a small business. How likely, you may probably have some sort of distant, impersonal a sugar tax that charges the U.S. a rate 30 ask. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, relationship with the government. Think Meg percent higher than the global price. “I left 99.7 percent of all employer firms are small Ryan and Tom Hanks in “You’ve Got Mail.” our meetings feeling reassured that solutions businesses of less than 500 employees. As the Ryan, the owner of a small independent to issues like these, that affect businesses backbone of the American economy, small bookstore, and Hanks, the owner of a Barnes & every day, are within reach,” said Schlott. businesses lead the country in innovation Noble-esque chain of mega bookstores, anon- When we met with Senator Bob Casey, the as well as job creation (64 percent of new ymously engage in philosophical dialogues conversation shifted to federal regulations. net jobs over the past 15 years, to be exact). via the Internet. Their online relationship Joe Dettinger of Bimax, Inc., a chemical



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manufacturing company in York, shared his negative experiences dealing with an extremely strict, hostile E.P.A. In addition to harsh federal regulations, Bimax, Inc. can only apply for research and development tax credits one year at a time, rendering long-term development efforts exceedingly difficult.

Daniel Fordice, a member of the board for the Greater Reading Young Professionals and an active Chamber member, also attended. When asked about the value of meeting with key policy makers, he said, “The trip provided valuable exposure for giving me a better understanding of the impact the constituents can have in bringing relevant

issues to the forefront that impact specific industries and local business.” Looking forward, Fordice is hopeful GRYP’s partnership with the Chamber will generate “a renewed effort of young professionals to make an impact on political decisions that directly affect the amount and quality of jobs available to young professionals in Reading.” Despite our positive experience, most Americans are completely detached in their political relationships. When it comes to voter turnout for the 2014 mid-term elections, 63.6% of Americans chose not to exercise their most basic right. While few people take the time to simply cast their ballot, even fewer people makes their voices heard by directly interacting with federal and state policy makers. When “we the people” idly stand by, we relinquish the opportunity to voice our concerns, share our ideas, and shape our economic futures. To find out more how you can advocate for your business and a vibrant economy, visit

What are your favorite Berks County winter activities? • Certainly will hit the exciting, new Fire and Ice Fest! Concerts and hockey games at the arena, and carving a toboggan. – Kress Schwartz, Quadrant • Bowling at Colonial Hills! – Caitlin Degler, Customers Bank • Hiking at Grings Mill, open mic night at the Speckled Hen by the fireplace! – Nicole Kocher, Reading Health System • Cross-Country Skiing on all of the Greater Reading Trails. – Christin Kelley, SSM Group, Inc. • Taking part in all of the indoor venues, from the symphony to the hockey games, we have so many wonderful things to do indoors. And, if it’s not too cold—snow skiing! – Trish Shermot, Visions Federal Credit Union • Christmas at Joanna Furnace, Exeter Women’s Club Holiday Tour. – Stephanie Shaak, Reading Public Museum


business & community advocacy

November Election Debrief Katherine Boylan Greater Reading Chamber Volunteer


ith the close of the midterm elections, speculation has begun. Education While Democrat Tom Wolf was elected 47th governor of More is always more in education funding, right? Well, it depends. Pennsylvania, Republicans have taken control of the legislative The $1 billion number that has been thrown around in this year’s chambers both at the federal and state levels. Though we can’t predict gubernatorial campaign is just that: merely a number. It’s only valuable whether a political gridlock will continue, we can inform business insofar as its interpretation. Regardless of the $1 billion in question, owners to keep a pulse on these top 5 issues: one of the cornerstones of governor-elect Wolf ’s campaign has been his pledge to increase education funding. The source of this funding, Taxes however, has yet to be identified. Ah, taxes. Much like the law of gravity, their presence is steadfast in our ever-changing world. We can rest assured that no matter what, Transportation they will remain a permanent fixture in political discussions. Be on Pot holes. Crumbling bridges. In Pennsylvania we’ve schlepped the lookout for shifts in federal corporate income tax as well as the through it all. Despite increases in state funding over the past year, personal income tax at the state level. We have been vocal with our we still lack the federal funding necessary to keep goods and services legislators on the impact of a shift to a progressive personal income moving efficiently across the commonwealth. Stay tuned for plans tax on subchapter S corporations. to keep the literal “driving force” of our economy running.


It’s that time of year again. You guessed it: Healthcare Application Season! Round two of enrollment for ObamaCare will run from November 15 to February 15. Whether your business already offers employees insurance coverage or not, the implementation of the Affordable Care Act provisions will definitely shake things up.

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To raise, or not to raise? That is the question of the minimum wage. All Shakespeare aside, governor-elect Wolf seems to be a proponent of increasing PA’s minimum wage. The strengthened Republican legislative leadership will make this a tough agenda item, but in politics you just never know. More concerning is the federal arena, where potential new regulatory measures could also tighten the federal fist around businesses large and small.

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“Don’t underestimate this community bank’s lending power, flexibility, and service” • COMMERCIAL LINES OF CREDIT • COMMERCIAL TERM LOANS • COMMERCIAL MORTGAGES • MERCHANT SERVICES • CASH MANAGEMENT • REMOTE CAPTURE

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Bob Showalter Vice President & Commercial Lending Officer 484.334.4918 610.944.7666

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effective leadership


Through The Work of Leaders Danielle Antos Greater Reading Chamber


eadership. Undoubtedly one of the greatest studied areas within organizational development, and one of the most requested topics for training. With all of the work that leaders must accomplish, it is difficult to narrow the scope of what should be done to drive results. Julie Straw, author of “The Work of Leaders,” provides insight and real-world scenarios on turning the goal of leadership into tangible steps.

Locally, “The Work of Leaders” has come to life through a program adopted by the Chamber’s Re-Ignite Berks initiative. “The Work of Leaders” program, based on Straw’s book, has a core curriculum of “crafting a vision, building alignment, and championing execution.” The program consists of leadership development for leaders at all levels within an organization to apply the simple concepts of vision, alignment, and execution (VAE) to their jobs. Five Berks companies have recently completed “The Work of Leaders”: Appeeling Fruit; Descco; DWS Technologies; East Coast Erosion Blankets and Levan Machine—all with exciting results.

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Appeeling Fruit provides presliced apples and seedless grapes for school lunch programs and the retail market. Steve Cygan, President, had this to say about the program. “I participated in the Re-Ignite Program because I was interested in the business assessment and looking at the business from a value standpoint. We were at a point of where do we go next and how do we get there.” His results were many: it gave him the knowledge that everyone on the management team has their own style and gained perspective on their differences. They also implemented a strategic plan for the company and developed a program of accountability. Appeeling now has a one and three year plan in place. Dave and Cyndy Schrebeck, owners of DWS Technologies, also saw similar results. DWS is a machine shop which manufactures various parts for electronic cabinet systems—a broad range of products for diverse industries. They wanted help learning how to run their business, as neither had formal training or education on running a business. The business assessment helped them to identify their weak points; even some areas that they didn’t even realize needed attention. It also helped them to realize how important team building really is.


What are your New Year’s Resolutions? • To be consistent, and persistent! – Marie Smith, Smith Enterprises • To bring more of my friends into downtown Reading for a night out. – Kress Schwartz, Quadrant • Stop mindless internet cruising. – Nicole Kocher, Reading Health System • I believe in daily devotions as opposed to yearly resolutions—so none! – Christin Kelley, SSM Group, Inc. • Make five new contacts per week. – Dennis Kintzer, DMKintzer Productions

“Finding the “perfect” employee isn’t easy. We now look differently when we are hiring people; we really concentrate on whether they will be a good fit for our organization and fit into our strategic plan,” the pair said. East Coast Erosion Blankets is a privately-held company located in Bernville with a second location in South Carolina. They manufacture erosion blankets and sediment devices to the construction and transportation industries and their products are used anywhere soil is moved. Diane Hitt, President, felt that the business assessment was helpful. “It highlighted areas for improved efficiencies and brought all of the segments of the company together.” They also developed short and long term goals and added personnel where they were lacking—continuing to build their team. “In Berks County, many are resistant to change; this program gives management teams a fresh look at their company and extends to them the opportunity to expand and grow their business.” Levan Machine & Truck Equipment is a third generation family business located in Fleetwood. This two-part business consists of a machine job shop, which supplies parts and emergency service/ equipment, and a truck equipment division. The program helped Brian Levan, President, on many levels. It helped him get a handle on the growth he was experiencing over the last ten years. “It’s easy to run a business when it’s small, but it’s a different story as growth happens.” The program helped the management team to understand the dynamics of the daily processes of running a business—not just keeping sight of their own daily tasks and responsibilities, but seeing the “big picture” of how everything ties together to make a company successful.

• At our company, continue to build strong company equity so we can further invest in our staff and additional revenue growth. Personally, get into a practical but effective fitness routine! – Sara Stump, Suburban Testing Labs • Healthy time management—balance between work and family. – Kathy Metrick, Kutztown Area School District • Don’t make any. What works better for me is to set personal, spiritual and professional goals each year with the understanding that life can be fragile and I must learn to adjust and adapt to changes. – Toni Miller, Boscov’s, Inc.

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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!

Do you love West Reading as much as Heather Clark does? The Owner of Go Fish! Seafood dished about the sense of community she feels in West Reading and across Berks, the fabulous mentors she’s had along her journey, and the exciting evolution of her business over the past 10 years!

Dave Skipper, Owner of Billy’s Candies, discussed carrying on the long-standing tradition of hand-crafting homemade, quality, & customizable chocolates for families in Berks County since 1935!

Barry Schlouch, President of Schlouch Incorporated, dug up the “dirt” on his 31-year journey as a business owner in Berks. Inspired by his wife to reach his greater potential, Barry has built an employee-focused business with an emphasis on caring and creating opportunities for those in Berks rather than beyond!

Ed Weaver, Owner of Weaver’s Orchard, discussed the four generations of his family business. Ed turned the business into a year-round business and shares the value of creating an experience.

Rob Wolf, Owner, Launch DM, discussed growing a small business by creating a “dynamic” culture with a great team.

Emmett Lien, President, Edge Insights, on how he acquired a business and went through an evolution and name change.



Extraordinary! When Buying or Selling Your Next Home

Bill Woolworth, Co-Owner of Dans at Green Hills, inspired us as he celebrates the growth of his contemporary American-French fine-dining restaurant! To provide a unique upscale experience, Bill believes the key to success is quality ingredients and exceptional staff and service, beginning as soon as guests pull into the parking lot!

Fine Homes & Estates are my specialty, & Extraordinary homes deserve Extraordinary attention.

Hamid Chaudhry, HIBS of Kenhorst, on business in Berks, giving back to the community, and finding a balance within a crazy schedule!

As the premier Realtor in Berks County, I have used my professional eye, marketing savvy, enthusiasm for the business, and my understanding of the process to quickly match buyers and sellers. My sales and marketing skills have made me the most successful agent in Berks County, and I would like to share that success with you. When you are ready to sell or to buy, pick someone who can give you Extraordinary results!

Lisa Tiger



Worry Less. Live More.

Frank Romans Independent Associate, Small Business & Group Benefits Specialist

484-529-1254 610.779.2500 • 610.207.6186 (direct)


member news NEW MEMBERS Sept 2014 – Nov 2014 ALLIGATOR PEAR PERSONAL CHEF SERVICE, LLC 9 Jeffrey Rd., Reading, PA 19601 610.323.4837 Personal Chef Service Contact: Lindsey Yeakle

CUSTOM COMPOSITES 1018 E Madison St. Oklahoma City, OK 73111 610.488.6242 Manufacturers Contact: Russell Boyd

THE INN AT CENTRE PARK 547 Centre Ave., Reading, PA 19601 610.374.8557 Bed & Breakfast Contact: Dennis Spotts

NAUGLE ASSOCIATES, LLC 209 W Neversink Rd., Reading, PA 19606 610.780.5068 Consultants–Business Contact: Joni Naugle

AUMAN’S FUNERAL HOME 247 Penn St., Reading, PA 19601 610.374.4505 Funeral Homes Contact: Kyle Blankenbiller

DIMITRIOU GEISHAUSER P.C. 534 Court St., Reading, PA 19601 610.376.7466 Attorneys Contact: Eleni Dimitriou Geishauser

HVM MANAGEMENT, INC. 112 South Kelly Dr., Birdsboro, PA 19508 610.451.3958 Construction Management Contact: Terry Hale

PRINT MANAGEMENT SOLUTIONS 860 Broad St., Ste. 115, Emmaus, PA 18049 610.810.1010 Business Equipment Contact: Mark Gaston

BECK PACKAGING, INC. 200 Cascade Dr., Allentown, PA 18109 610.264.0551 Packaging Services Contact: Bob Metter

FOREST HILLS MEMORIAL PARK, INC. 390 West Neversink Rd. Reading, PA 19606 610.779.2550 Cemeteries Contact: Tom Diciurcio

INSPIRED LEADERSHIP NOW, LLC 405 Oak Hill Ln., Wyomissing, PA 19610 484.794.5300 Consultants—Organizational/Individual Contact: Scott Blessing

RAYMOUR AND FLANIGAN FURNITURE 629 Snyder Rd., Reading, PA 19605 610.926.5866 Furniture–Retail Contact: Jim Campbell

FRIDAY’S CHILD 408 E Penn Ave., Robesonia, PA 19551 610.693.3200 Child Care Contact: Jordhanna Croley

LEGALSHIELD 2910 State Hill Rd., #A-5 Wyomissing, PA 19610 484.529.1254 Legal Services Contact: Frank Romans

READING ACCIDENT & INJURY CARE 6 N 6th St., Reading, PA 19601 484.577.4413 Chiropractors Contact: Lori Kalie

CHILDREN’S ALOPECIA PROJECT 906 Penn Ave., Wyomissing PA 19610 610.468.1011 Contact: Jeff Woytovich CREATIVE FINANCIAL GROUP, LTD 16 Campus Blvd. Newtown Square, PA 19073 610.325.6100 Financial Services Contact: Daniel Fordice

THE GOBLE GROUP P.O. Box 76 Akron, PA 17501 717.682.3198 Consultants–Counseling/Training Contact: Steve Goble

MERIDIAN BANK 711 Spring St., Wyomissing, PA 19610 610.378.9666 Banks Contact: Keith Zielaskowski

Care Reform offers an opportunity for “Health employers to rethink how health care benefits should be designed and delivered. ” – Mark Kunkle

We’re experts at benefits consulting. We’ll perform a Health Care Reform Readiness Analysis for your organization. • We’ll review your existing benefit programs and determine which will be affected by the health care reform provisions now and in the future. • We’ll determine the financial impact of healthcare reform to your organization. We’ll steer you in the right direction and help you implement your company’s health care reform strategy.

There will be dramatic changes in the future of the employee benefits landscape. Is your company prepared and complying with new regulations? What do you need to know? What plan do you have in place? Are you heading in the right direction? Contact us today. We’ve gained the confidence of over 450 local employers.


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ANNIVERSARIES Sept 2014 – Nov 2014

1 Year

Adhezion Biomedical, LLC Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza  BDO USA, LLP  Berks County Parrot Head Club  CMIT Solutions of Reading  Elite Coach  GAPS “The Gallery” Above Penn Square  General Polymeric Corp, DBA GenPore  Greater Reading Alliance of Community Theatres  Keystone Property Services, LLC  LedgeRock Golf Club  Liberty Law Group, LLC  Metropolitan Management Group  Nutrition Works Educational Services  PC Ninja  PeopleShare  Rapid Remedy  Russell Stover Candies  Thirty One Gifts–Mindee Zimmerman  Tullyview Allergy, P.C.  Unicast Company  

5 Years

Bellco Federal Credit Union Brewer’s Bar & Grill  Greater Reading Young Professionals  Hiester Lanes  Interlace Communications, Inc.  National Penn  Servicemaster Assured Cleaning  Solve IT Solutions, LLC 

Spine and Wellness Center Dr Patrick Borja Chiropractor Chiropractic Massage Acupuncture Physical Therapy Personal Training Counseling Laser Skin Care

(610) 779-4588

Batteries That Power Businesses

10 Years 

L & J Transportation Companies, Inc. TechniCom Audio and Visual, Inc.

15 Years

Berkshire Psychiatric & Behavioral Health Services, PC  Cianci & Roberts  Clarence Sasso  Interior Environments  Kuzan’s Hardware & Rental Center  Monterey Mushrooms, Inc.

20 Years

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Berks County, PA  Strategic Analysis, Inc.

Lebanon • Wernersville

• Automotive • Industrial • Aerial Lift • Pallet Jack • Lawn & Garden • Motorcycle • Golf Cart • Wheelchair • Medical • Floor Scrubber • Emergency Lighting • Security System • Two Way Radio • Laptop Computer • Cell Phone • Cordless Phone • Bar Code Scanner • Cordless Power Tool • Custom Battery Packs • PLC/CNC Equipment • and more!


member news NEWSMAKERS

Jon Fetzer has been promoted to Team Leader for Berks • Fire • Water Restorations, Inc.SM In his new role, Fetzer will be responsible for providing leadership to crew members, facilitation of the quality of all restoration processes and procedures with a focus on mechanical, maintaining projects production schedules and creating a positive working relationship with customers. Fetzer worked as a Mechanical Helper since joining the company in 2010.

Jonathan Vining has been promoted to Restoration Team Leader for Berks • Fire • Water Restorations, Inc.SM In his new role, Vining will be responsible for providing leadership to restoration crew members, facilitation of the quality of all restoration processes and procedures with a focus on water remediation, maintaining projects production schedules and creating a positive working relationship with customers. Vining worked as a Restoration Technician since joining the company in 2013.

Berks • Fire • Water Restorations, Inc.SM employee Erik Rockhold received the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC), and the Commercial Drying Specialist (CDS) Certification. Employee Adam Spiers received the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC), and the Applied Microbial Remediation Technician (AMRT) Certification.

BCIU appointed Dr. Jill Hackman as Executive Director effective October 18. Dr. Hackman has contributed to the success of BCIU for many years in her role as Assistant Executive Director, and played a key role in ensuring a smooth transition as former BCIU Executive Director Dr. John George announced his new role with the Montgomery County Intermediate Unit (MCIU).

The Berks Community Television Board of Directors announced the appointment of Heather M. Adams as Executive Director, Managing Editor of beginning October 20, 2014. In her new position, Adams will manage a staff of six full-time employees, numerous part-time employees and volunteers leading the effort to set and communicate vision and goals for the next stage of growth for BCTV. Prior to accepting her new position, Adams was Senior Sales and Marketing Manager for SMG/Santander Arena & Performing Arts Center. Her previous experience also included Advertising Sales Management at the Greater Reading Chamber of Commerce & Industry and Clear Channel Radio. Liquid has earned a spot on the Inc. 5000 list. They ranked 2692 position on the list of 5000 privately held, for profit, and independent companies across the United States—increasing their ranking by 1003 spots over 2013. For the past 33 years, Inc. has welcomed the fastest-growing private companies in America into the Inc. 5000 list. Making the list was as competitive as ever in 2014. The average company on the list grew an incredible 516 percent.


Herbein announced that Josh A. Pollet, CPA has been promoted to Senior Manager. As a Senior Manager in the Accounting and Auditing Department, Josh is responsible for supervising the audits of several of the firm’s largest clients. He works primarily within the dairy, cooperatives and manufacturing industries. He also specializes in providing consulting services to clients in the dairy and food processing industries.

Benchmark Construction Company, Inc. announced that Eric Robertson and Robert Beiler have been promoted to Project Manager. Mr. Robertson and Mr. Beiler will oversee the daily operations of select projects. Their duties include coordinating field and administrative activities as well as ensuring that all parties involved in the construction process are working to serve the clients’ best interests. Riverview Bank announced the promotion of Gregory T. Kline to President of the Berks Region. Kline previously served Riverview as Senior Vice President, Regional Senior Lending Officer. Formerly with Susquehanna Bank and CommunityBanks, he has over 25 years of commercial banking, business development, and executive management experience, Kline held the positions of Sr. VP—Relationship Manager, Regional President, and Regional Loan Administrator. Hollenbach Construction, Inc. has been listed in the 2014 Top 100 Privately Held Businesses in the Greater Lehigh Valley. Hollenbach is ranked number 44 on the list. The list is compiled by the Lehigh Valley Business Journal.

Riverview Bank announced the addition of Robert (Bob) Hoffman as Vice President, Commercial Relationship Manager, to their Berks County team of banking professionals. Previously, Hoffman was a Vice President, Senior Business Banker with PNC Bank. He also held similar positions at First Cornerstone Bank and Harleysville National Bank. With over 13 years of commercial banking and business development experience, Hoffman was also a business owner involved in commercial leasing.

Christopher Bostaph has joined Larson Design Group (LDG) as Vice President of the Energy Division. His responsibilities include strategy, business development, and high quality project delivery, overseeing all of LDG’s energy services. He will be focused on leading the growth and development of the Energy Division and will also be given assignments in his role as an executive management team member on the LDG Guiding Coalition. Chris has over 24 years of environmental consulting, engineering, and project management experience. The Reading Downtown Improvement District (DID) announced that Carl W. Brown, Jr. has joined the DID staff as Special Projects Coordinator. Brown’s responsibilities include implementing and overseeing various projects related to improving and revitalizing the downtown area served by DID. Brown has extensive experience in public relations and communications. Previous positions he has held include public relations/communications manager at Sovereign Bank and communications specialist at Agere Systems.

Elbeco announced the promotion of David Adams to Executive Vice President. In his expanded role, David will be responsible for identifying, developing, implementing and maintaining operational policies and procedures to improve the overall operation and effectiveness of the company. Adams has been with Elbeco for over 15 years and was previously in the position of Vice President of Finance where he oversaw all operational and financial aspects of the firm. The Reading Downtown Improvement District (DID) has been designated as an accredited National Main Street Program for meeting the commercial district revitalization performance standards set by the National Main Street Center®, a subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Each year, the National Main Street Center and its partners announce the list of accredited Main Street® programs in recognition of their exemplary commitment to historic preservation and community revitalization through the Main Street Four Point Approach®.

Associated Builders and Contractors recognized Hollenbach Construction, Inc. with two awards at its recent Achievement Dinner. Hollenbach Construction received an award for its long standing membership and support of ABC for the past 40 years. In addition, Hollenbach received the STEP SILVER award for its safety program. Glenn Ebersole, Strategic Vice President, Business Development/ Marketing, accepted both awards on behalf of Hollenbach Construction.

Liquid has been named one of the Best Places to Work in PA for 2014. The survey and awards program, performed by a partnership of Pennsylvania organizations led by Team Pennsylvania Foundation, was designed to identify, recognize and honor the best places of employment in Pennsylvania, who are benefiting the state’s economy and its workforce. Kautter & Kelley Architects announced that the Reading School District’s Amanda Stout Elementary School & Benners Court renovation and additions project has garnered professional recognition from four varied organizations; the most recent being Preservation Pennsylvania. Having received a Construction Project Award for Public and Institutional Projects, the project was honored at the 2014 Pennsylvania Historic Preservation Awards on September 26th for the rehabilitation of an aging school that has revitalized its urban neighborhood.

Sarah C. Skillman was recently promoted to Chief Compliance Officer of Weik Investment Services, Inc., Wyomissing, PA. Sarah has been with Weik Investment since 2006.

Cynthia Bonney, NHA, has been appointed as Executive Director of Pathstones by Phoebe, a new innovation coming to the region to meet the needs of area seniors. Ms. Bonney has been an employee of Phoebe Ministries since 1999 and was most recently Executive Director of Phoebe Wyncote, a five star awarded Continuing Care Retirement Community in Montgomery County. Launching this fall, Pathstones by Phoebe will offer personalized plans for care coordination and the services of a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) in the comfort and security of a member’s home.

Accounting and advisory firms Baker Tilly Virchow Krause, LLP (Baker Tilly) and ParenteBeard LLC announced the merger of the two firms, with an anticipated effective date of October 1, 2014. The name of the combined firm will be Baker Tilly Virchow Krause, LLP. “As independent members of Baker Tilly International, the two firms have worked collaboratively and successfully for many years and on many fronts,” said Baker Tilly Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Timothy L. Christen. Liberty Environmental, Inc. announced that Andrew R. Fetterman, P.G. has joined the firm as a Project Manager. With more than 16 years in environmental consulting as a geologist and hydrogeologist, Mr. Fetterman has built a substantial portfolio of remediated sites in Pennsylvania, New York, and Georgia.

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Greater Reading Chamber of Commerce & Industry

Greater Reading Chamber of Commerce &Industry


Warren W. Weik was recently promoted to Portfolio Manager of Weik Investment Services, Inc., Wyomissing, PA. Warren has been with Weik Investment since 2010.



upcoming events

DEC 16

Women2Know: Robin MK Shilling, Independent National Executive Director, Pampered Chef

JAN 21

Stokesay Castle 141 Stokesay Castle Ln. Reading, PA 19606 11:30 am –1:30 pm

DEC 17

JAN 22

Supervisor Training: The Role of a Supervisor/Manager

Power Networking Lunch

(Module I, Winter 2015)

Holiday Inn Morgantown 6170 Morgantown Rd. Morgantown, PA 19543

Center for Business Excellence 49 Commerce Dr. Wyomissing, PA 19610 8:30 am –11:30 am (Morning Sessions)

The Great 8!

Process of Finding & Keeping Good Customers

(Evening Sessions)

Center for Business Excellence 49 Commerce Dr. Wyomissing, PA 19610

Educating the Family Workshop Series:

JAN 22

Lead Worker Certificate: Winter 2015 JAN 27

Value of Advisory Boards For Your Business

De Mujer a MujerEstableciendo Conexiones

(Evening Sessions)

5:30 pm –7:30 pm

JAN 28

W2W Path2Personal Development: Overcoming

Business at Breakfast Stokesay Castle 141 Stokesay Castle Ln. Reading, PA 19606

Center for Business Excellence 49 Commerce Dr. Wyomissing, PA 19610

FEB 17

Berks Fire Water Restorations 1145 Commons Blvd. Reading, PA 19605

4:30 pm –6:30 pm

W2W Growth2Go:

Time Management for Women Who Do Too Much The Highlands at Wyomissing 2000 Cambridge Ave. Wyomissing, PA 19610 11:30 am –1:00 pm


Supervisor Training: Leveraging Workplace Relationships for Organizational Success (Module III, Winter 2015) Center for Business Excellence 49 Commerce Dr. Wyomissing, PA 19610 8:30 am –11:30 am

MAR 11

Reading Country Club 5311 Perkiomen Ave. Reading, PA 19606

Davids Furniture & Interiors 4444 New Holland Rd. Mohnton, PA 19540

FEB 18

MAR 13

MAR 17

Stokesay Castle 141 Stokesay Castle Ln. Reading, PA 19606

Young Leadership Conference Series Penn State Berks 2080 Tulpehocken Rd. Reading, PA 19610

W2W Growth2Go: Negotiation Skill for Success The Highlands at Wyomissing 2000 Cambridge Ave. Wyomissing, PA 19610 11:30 am –1:00 pm

MAR 18

All in the Family Gathering:

Power Networking Lunch TBD 11:30 am –1:00 pm

WORLD electronics

MAR 19

Power Networking Lunch

Networking at Night Fraser Advanced Information Systems 320 Penn Ave. Reading, PA 19611 11:30 am –1:00 pm

TBD 11:30 am –1:00 pm

FEB 24

Center for Business Excellence 49 Commerce Dr. Wyomissing, PA 19610

10:30 am –1:30 pm

11:00 am –1:00 pm

FEB 18

Don’ts of Effective Networking

4:30 pm –6:30 pm

Women2Know: TBD

WORLD electronics Headquarters 3000 Kutztown Rd. Reading, PA 19605

W2W Path2Personal Development: Do’s and

Networking at Night

8:00 am

8:30 am –11:30 am

JAN 30

Business at Breakfast

7:45 am –9:00 am

Networking at Night

5:00 pm –7:00 pm

the Fear of Public Speaking Center for Business Excellence 49 Commerce Dr. Wyomissing, PA 19610

JAN 20

FEB 12

(Module II, Winter 2015)

JAN 14


Supervisor Training: Managing & Building Workplace Relationships

7:45 am –9:00 am


7:45 am –9:00 am

The Abraham Lincoln A Historic Hotel of America 100 N 5th St. Hwy. Reading, PA 19601

6:00 pm –8:00 pm

Inn at Reading 1040 N Park Rd. Wyomissing, PA 19610


8:00 am –10:00 am

(Morning Sessions)

Business at Breakfast

Crowne Plaza 1741 Papermill Rd. Reading, PA 19610 8:00 am –9:30 am

Center for Business Excellence 49 Commerce Dr. Wyomissing, PA 19610

9:30 am –11:30 am


State of the Community

5:00 pm –8:00 pm

(Morning Sessions)

Center for Business Excellence 49 Commerce Dr. Wyomissing, PA 19610


6:00 pm –9:00 pm

8:00 am –11:00 am


Reading Fightin’ Phils 1900 Centre Ave. Reading, PA 19612 11:30 am –1:00 pm

11:30 am –1:00 pm


Power Networking Lunch

De Mujer a MujerEstableciendo Conexiones The Abraham Lincoln A Historic Hotel of America 100 N 5th St. Hwy. Reading, PA 19601 5:30 pm –7:30 pm

MAR 24

De Mujer a MujerEstableciendo Conexiones The Abraham Lincoln A Historic Hotel of America 100 N 5th St. Hwy. Reading, PA 19601 5:30 pm –7:30 pm

Wynton Marsalis

Yolanda Adams


James Hunter Six

April 10-19, 2015 Reading, PA

Dave Koz

Terell Stafford

Spend 10 jazz- and blues-filled days and nights in the Greater Reading area! Over 120 scheduled events, plus great shopping and dining in one area, make the 25th annual Boscov’s Berks Jazz Fest your perfect spring getaway. For tickets, call Ticketmaster toll free at 1-800-745-3000 or visit to order online.

Boney James

Brian Culbertson



Follow us on Twitter @berksjazzfest

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