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Greater Reading Chamber


Ellen Albright, Editor

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



22 Business & Community Advocacy

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

Regulatory Quicksand

In Your Community 28 Meet Thad Gelsinger, President—GRYP

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

Your Greater Reading Chamber of Commerce & Industry…

8 Cover Stor y

» Partners with all other economic development organizations in creating an environment for growth.

» Enables all businesses to take deliberate and

Economic Outlook 2016

decided action on issues affecting their welfare.

» Helps small business thrive and entrepreneurs strive.

» Develops employees through training and educational programs/alliances.

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

» Operates as a model business and pursues best practices.

» Maintains a five-star rating as one of the best chambers in Pennsylvania.

» Reflects our multicultural community at large.

18 Family Business Matters

An Evolving Empire The Empire Group Celebrates 60 Years

31 Effective Leadership

Brentwood Industries: Growing People, Growing Company

32 Expert Advice

©2015 All rights reserved. No portion of this publication may be reproduced electronically or in print without the expressed written permission of the publisher. Commerce Quarterly Magazine is published quarterly by Hoffmann Publishing Group, Reading, PA • 610.685.0914

Create a Healthier Bottom Line

Small Business Matters 34 Too Many Hats. Too Little Time. 39

Get Your Business on the Map


Sites & Infrastructure Committee is Hard at Work!



Letter From the President

16 Volunteer Spotlight 26 Winter 2016

John R. Morahan & Clint Matthews

42 The Chamber Chew

Holiday Cheers!

44 Member News 49 Member Spotlight 50 Upcoming Events

40 Made in Berks The Story Behind So Many Smiles

DeLux Dental Laboratory

For Advertising Opportunities: call 610.685.0914 Ext. 1 Read Commerce Quarterly Magazine Online at Brittany Fry, Graphic Designer

On the Cover: Andrea Funk (L), CEO at Cambridge-Lee Industries LLC, and Karen Norheim (R), Executive Vice President of American Crane & Equipment Corporation. Cover, center spread & select additional photos provided by: Don Carrick/Studio 413,

letter from the president Board of Directors 2016 CHAIRMAN: Bob Firely, Partner, Herbein & Company VICE CHAIRMAN Peter Rye, President, Brentwood Industries TREASURER Brian Levan, President, Levan Machine & Truck Equipment IMMEDIATE PAST CHAIR Scott L. Gruber, President & CEO, Tompkins Vist Bank LEGAL COUNSEL Tim Dietrich, Esq., Barley Snyder DIRECTORS Peter Barbey, President/CEO, Reading Eagle Karen Baxter, Manager, External Affairs, Met-Ed First Energy Nick Bentley, President, American Polarizers

t’s ironic that the “empire” that Harry O’Neill Jr. built started with demolition. Six subsidiaries, 3 generations and 60 years later, the company employs over 200 employees which has been credited to their ability to adapt to change and capitalize on opportunities. As you read the economic outlook feature story, keep the theme of adaptability to change in mind. Our economy in Berks is diverse, which is generally a good thing. However, there are a lot of moving parts. Will we continue to adapt to change and thrive? Most people think so. We do face some challenges in Berks that will continue for 2016. One of our biggest economic development hurdles is the lack of shovel-ready sites to either attract new companies or accommodate organic growth. Read about the efforts of our local economic development partners to prioritize the development of our infrastructure for growth and expansion in this issue.

Gregg Bogia, President, Bogia Engineering Maryann Egolf, General Manager, FM Brown Stephen Horvat, Partner, Baker Tilly Tim Koenig, Assistant VP, EH&D Lisa Lavender, COO, Berks Fire Water Emmett Lien, President, Edge Insights Carl Marks, COO, DSS Don Mikes, Senior VP, Penske Toni Miller, CFO, Boscov’s Pete Molinaro, President, Adhesion Biomedical Craig Poole, GM, Doubletree Hotel David Roche, President, Roche Electric Dave Roland, Regional President, BB&T Mark Schlott, Executive VP of Operations/COO, RM Palmer Stayce Schlouch, Schlouch Incorporated Alan Shuman, President, Shuman Development Bruce Smith, President Central Region, National Penn Bank Justin Spannuth, COO, Unique Pretzel Bakery Sara Stump, Director, Sales & Marketing, Suburban Testing Labs Rich Tinsman, VP—Reading Operations, Carpenter Technology

Another area of significant challenge is the current regulatory environment. New rules and regulations are added to the books on a monthly basis. Look for the top priorities for 2016 in Healthcare, Employment Law, Energy and the Environment. This issue also showcases local manufacturer Delux Dental—a story you can really sink your teeth into! We also chatted with Brentwood Industries, a company on the move around the globe with a focus on the development of their team in Berks to build their capacity for growth. Lastly, read how local employers are stretching their capacity through outsourcing, highlighting a unique blend of businesses in our community. 2016 brings in a new leader for the Greater Reading Young Professionals—congrats to Thad Gelsinger on his elevation to President, and a big thank you to Kristi Gage-Linderman for her past leadership with GRYP—a great asset to our community. We hope you enjoy this glance into 2016. If you are looking for something to do one of these cold winter nights, think about exploring one of the many local authentic cuisine restaurants and share the experience via #RDGeats. The Chamber is helping to spread the word about the many ‘under the radar’ dining establishments we have in downtown Reading and across Berks County. Looking forward to a productive 2016! Onward and Upward!

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

Greater Reading Chamber of Commerce & Industry

Lauren Tobiassen, Area President Central PA, Wells Fargo Scott Vaughn, President, The Standard Group


P.S. A huge shout out to our Women in Manufacturing on the cover—Andi Funk from Cambridge Lee and Karen Norheim from American Crane. And, to our Titans of Healthcare in our centerfold—Clint Matthews, Reading Health System, and John Morahan, Penn State Health St. Joseph. Thank you for your leadership in our community!


cover story

Compiled by: Sara Radaoui, Hoffmann Publishing

t a recent Chamber breakfast, Jay opportunities for growth for those throughout Job postings for open positions remain strong Bryson, Ph.D., Managing Director the energy supply chain. Bryson also noted and local employers are in a hiring mode. It and Global Economist for Wells Fargo that manufacturing continues to operate in is expected these conditions will continue at Securities, shared his view that the 2.5% a net export loss, with imports outpacing the least through the first half of 2016. continued economic growth understates growth in exports. the underlying strengths of our economy, Along with the low unemployment Dan Fogarty, MBA, director and chief rate, continued pressure on wages can also emphasizing that strong consumer spending is the most positive driver in our current operating officer, Berks County Workforce be expected. Currently the threshold for economic outlook. Of course, complement- Development Board (WDB), more nar- white-collar overtime is $23,660 per year; ing stronger consumer spending is the fact rowly identified the strengths of the local anyone earning less than that is eligible to that consumers have deleveraged, continued economy in stating the WDB’s priority collect overtime pay. Individuals earning a Bryson, illustrating that household debt is industries—Manufacturing and Healthcare. higher salary, on the other hand, are exempt These industries are targeted for continued from overtime pay even if they are workdown and net worth is up. growth in new and/or replacement jobs, as ing more than the 40 hours per week. The the baby boomer generation starts to retire Department of Labor has been pushing to On the other hand, government spending in greater numbers. So what does the 2016 change the Fair Labor Standards act so that has been a drag on our economy over the forecast offer from the eyes of some of our the base rate is increased to $50,440 per year past few years as state and local entities have community members? by 2016. This would allow for the inclusion been under significant financial stress, noted of more individuals who are legally entitled to Bryson. Moving forward, Bryson sees that overtime (U.S. Department of Labor-Wage changing as pent up demand and slightly Labor Market Forecast and Hour Division). Keep your eyes open improved economic conditions will influence 2015 proved to be the best job market increased government spending. regarding this issue. year for Berks County job seekers in nearly a decade, with anticipation that we will end Manufacturing also presents a mixed bag, the year with the County’s unemployment Manufacturing said Bryson. Lower energy prices may be low- rate poised to drop below 5.0%—lower than According to Dan Fogarty, our local, worldering operating costs for some, but decreasing the national and state unemployment rates. class manufacturing sector led the regional 8  COMMERCE QUARTERLY   WINTER 2016

“First is the fact that 40% of all new domestic equipment, diversifying the types of energy a energy generation added in the first half of business consumes, implementing conserva2015—more than any other technology— tion techniques, or exploring alternative fleet came from solar,” states Kurtz. “With another fuels and vehicles, a successful implementation 5,000 MW of new capacity projected before strategy recently employed by Rhoads Energy for some regional school districts. Businesses we ring in 2016, the U.S. solar industry is are also starting to upgrade their fleets to run poised to reach nearly 8,000 MW installed on dual fuel—gasoline and propane. The for the year, bringing the total solar enerbottom line: Enjoy lower energy costs now, gy capacity nationwide to 28,000 MW, or but plan for increases that may be coming enough to power 4.5 million American homes.” in 2017 or beyond. The medium-term growth outlook also UGI customers in Berks County and across looks bright. The Solar Energy Industries Pennsylvania have benefited tremendously Association expects the addition of another from the clean, local, plentiful supply of 20,000 MW of solar generating capacity over low-cost natural gas from the Marcellus Shale the next two years, doubling the total solar region. “In most cases, natural gas bills for capacity that existed just 12 months ago. Berks businesses are over 40 percent less than “That expanding installation base means they were just a few years ago. Most analysts expect more than just clean, renewable energy—it stable prices to continue means jobs as well,” beams Kurtz. “A January into the foreseeable future,” 2015 Solar Foundation report predicted that explains Becky Eshbach, the industry would add 36,000 jobs this year, UGI Director of Marketing a 20.9% increase that would bring the total Energy to 210,000 solar workers nationwide, with Programs and Strategy. “For 2016, the Energy Information 80,000 of those hired since 2010. Administration (EIA) predicts that, on average, “This ‘buyer’s market’ for natural gas has led prices for heating oil, gasoline, diesel and “Pennsylvania boasted 2,800 solar-related natural gas will remain at the current levels to a significant increase in demand among jobs in 2014, and that number is expected residential and business customers,” notes or drop slightly,” says Scott R. Burky, chief to climb when the final 2015 figures are Eshbach. “More than 55,000 residential operations officer of The released. Those workers contributed, in part, customers across UGI’s service area have Rhoads Energy Family of to our 12th best standing in the nation, with converted to natural gas over the past six Companies. “Our research 249 MW of solar currently installed in the years. In 2015, UGI also experienced a record leads us to believe that energy Keystone State,” asserts Kurtz. number of new commercial additions, with costs in Berks County will nearly 2,400 new and converting businesses mirror those national trends.” “With businesses able to lock in long-term becoming natural gas customers.” In addition effective energy prices as low as $0.03 to to the traditional benefits provided by clean, In early October, the EIA efficient natural gas appliances, businesses $0.04 per kWh, solar continues to be a good predicted that, on average, oil heat users would have taken advantage of a number of new investment for Pennsylvania businesses seekpay 25% less and propane users would pay technologies that provide additional savings ing to save money while also developing a 18% less for heat this winter, compared to and environmental benefits. Examples include significant sustainability element to their last winter. Natural gas prices were also down, Combined Heat and Power (CHP), which operations,” says Kurtz. albeit by a smaller margin. Businesses that operate vehicle fleets have also found welcome uses natural gas to generate electricity and news at the pump: gas prices in Berks are useful heat, and Compressed Natural Gas Logistics, Transportation hovering around $2.25 per gallon—nearly (CNG) for vehicles, providing a clean and and Warehousing a dollar less than the prices from a year ago. economical alternative to fleets that can take Despite the construction of large new Burky advises one warning, though. “Lower advantage of a central fueling station. facilities near I-78, Berks County has a slightly prices won’t last forever. Historically, enerlower concentration of Transportation and Jim Kurtz, president of Warehousing employment than many surgy prices have been subject to spikes from RER Energy Group, believes rounding counties. The I-78 project, also unforeseen world events, supply and demand, that the U.S. solar industry referred to as Berks Park 78, is an industrial weather and other factors. That’s why we has finally gone mainstream. business park spread across a little more advise every business to view the current An 80% decrease in module than 300 acres, adjacent to interstate 78 in pricing environment as an opportunity to prices over the last five years, Bethel. Within this park, two large distriexplore a long-term energy strategy.” working in tandem with the bution companies have emerged, PetSmart Burky suggests the strategy may include Federal Investment Tax credit of 30%, has upgrading inefficient heating and cooling driven some impressive growth statistics. Continued on page 10 economy out of the recession and remains Berks County’s largest sector by employment with over 30,000 workers and 500 employers. As opposed to some areas of the country that are closely tied to commodities and energy production, our manufacturing sector is well diversified and most area employers continue to project strong demand for their products. As a result, East Penn Manufacturing, Cambridge-Lee Industries LLC, F. M. Brown’s Sons, Inc. and many other manufacturers are actively investing in their local production facilities. While Fogarty and other business and community leaders do not expect our overall local manufacturing workforce to grow in 2016, they do project 700–1,000 new entrants will be required to replace experienced baby-boomer manufacturing workers who are now retiring in larger numbers.


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local projects, such as the continued efforts to improve Route 222, including the common frustration that I’ve heard from Berks County businesses about the increasing cost to move goods from our area to other national hubs, delays caused by unsafe bridges and outdated traffic patterns, and lost dollars Since taking office in January, Congressman spent on repairs and new equipment due to Costello has made it a priority to strengthen poor road conditions. While Congress can’t Along with the employment opportunities, Berks County’s aging roads and infrastruc- fill every pothole, we can make a long-term ture projects. As a member commitment of resources and policy guidance warehousing expansion provides increased of the Transportation and to help states and local governments get to opportunities for transportation and logistics. Infrastructure Committee, work to improve our roadways and drive local Locally, Penske Corporation, with its Truck a primary focus has been economic growth.” These improvements and Leasing and Logistics units, is among the passage of a long-term assistance can now be set into place since H.R. best logistics and transportation companies highway bill. “Starting out 3763, the STRR Act, was officially passed in the country. With over 1,500 employees with hearings earlier this December 3, 2015 via the passing of H.R. 22, locally, Penske is now the County’s tenth year, a Committee markup the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation largest employer. in October, and House passage in November, (FAST) Act. With the passing of the act comes Like other areas of Eastern Pennsylvania, we were on the cusp of a long-term federal a five-year assistance program to upgrade Berks County continues to experience his- highway bill. The Surface Transportation transportation, improve road safety, and torically high demand for CDL drivers and Reauthorization and Reform (STRR) Act was fix roads and bridges using $770 million of expects this demand to continue through to be a commitment to invest in, upgrade, federal funding. 2016, especially with its location and the and modernize our surface transportation increasing need to provide delivery of goods system,” stated Costello. “It would provide throughout the Mid-Atlantic and northeast flexibility and certainty for officials to improve

and Dollar General. Within full operation, PetSmart is expected to create 500 permanent jobs. In addition, Dollar General estimates employment will total 500 employees and 75 truck drivers. With two lots remaining, one at 720,000 square feet and another at 150,000 square feet, local officials hope that 2016 will bring more good news to the parcel.


corridor. In order to attract CDL drivers, many transportation employers have begun to increase wages and offer attractive sign-on bonuses, which also includes a greater demand for diesel mechanics in the coming year. And, this all leads to roads and infrastructure.


Berks County has a relatively large agricultural sector in comparison to others in the state of PA. According to the 2012 Census of Agriculture, out of the 67 counties, Berks accumulates roughly $528,711,000 annually, placing the region 3rd in the ranking. This revenue is predominantly made up of poultry, nursery, and dairy productions, the largest of these contributors being poultry, at $142,642,000.

Currently, Kautter & Kelly Architects continues to work with a varied local and regional client base including: design for private developers for commercial apartments, public housing, university dining facilities, private child day care facilities, medical offices, and conceptual planning on mixed-use commercial retail and apartments. “Having said that, at this point in time, it appears to us that the private development of apartments and mixed-use retail and apartments, college and university projects, and healthcare related facilities are poised to remain the most active sectors for design and construction in 2016,” states Kautter.

The agriculture sector accounts for approximately 2,600 jobs in Berks County (5% of the total workforce). This number is likely to remain relatively stable in 2016 and county officials do not expect large numbers of job openings in agriculture. However, Fogarty states, the sector is closely tied to expected job growth in the food production sub-sector of Tony Forino, owner of Forino Company, our large manufacturing sector. Considering shares the Berks County real estate market is the substantial amount of agricultural pro- experiencing many changes, mostly positive. duction, the need for processing companies “Although the state Senate vote for SB 76 did arises. Companies like Giorgio Mushrooms not occur, lawmakers are conand Sweet Street Desserts source their goods fident the bill will eventually locally and provide employment opportunities pass,” says Forino. The bill for many individuals. Giorgio alone employs proposes the elimination of between 250 and 499 individuals, and Sweet school property taxes while Street doubles this amount, ranging from 501 raising income and sales taxes to 1000 employees. These two companies, and in order to finance the public many others, account for up to $28.1 billion school system. “We are all annually in revenues for Berks County, and awaiting the anticipated rate increase before more than 3,200 jobs in the food manufac- the end of the year. Many banks and economic turing industry. (Greater Reading Economic forecasters are predicting at least a 0.25% Partnership—Agribusiness webpage) increase in interest rates before the end of 2015, and a gradual increase through 2016,” It should also be noted that another area adds Forino. “It’s important to remember of increasing related demand, beyond food that even with an increase in rates, the rates production and processing, is for technicians are still at an all-time low! However, since capable of servicing ever more sophisticated the mortgage environment is very rigid, it agricultural equipment. is significant for those planning to purchase a new home in the future to remember to Construction & save money.”

Real Estate

Post-recession recovery of local construction Overall, the real estate market in Berks jobs was a long time coming but finally took County is showing consistent signs of hold in 2015. Primary drivers of this strong improvement. The number of home sales is job growth included increased state funding up 13% since this time last year. Additionally, for road and bridge construction and slight lot sales are up 48%, and pending sales up recovery in home construction and remodel- 24%, notes Forino. “These should be coning. A shortage of heavy equipment operators sidered substantial levels of improvement in has been reported by local contractors and our current market,” adds Forino. “One of likely will continue through 2016. Demand the most important contributing factors to for other construction trades should also the improvement of the market is the decline improve and rise, mentions Fogarty. in the number of short sale and foreclosure Continued on page 12   11

cover story continued…

properties in our inventory. In January of this year, 22% of the available homes were considered distressed (short sale or foreclosure) properties. As of November, that number has decreased to 10% making this a good time for consumers to purchase a home. As this shadow inventory continues to diminish over the next 18 to 24 months, we will continue seeing the market stabilize in Berks County.” “Our biggest challenge is the regulations in place currently to obtain the necessary permits

and approvals, which have both become cumbersome and expensive,” comments Forino, “adding no value to the home in the end. However, it does add increased wait time to the construction process, which directly affects the consumers’ ability to obtain a mortgage and complete the contract.” Tim Meade, a local CertaPro franchisee, and the 2015 Greater Reading Chamber Entrepreneur of the Year, provided his insights into the small business outlook from a trades

perspective. Meade is the eternal optimist with a tendency to see a bright future no matter how dark the forecast. “Painting, like other contractor trades, definitely follows the housing market,” states Meade. “It can be a mandatory maintenance item or an optional item for expendable income. While maintenance items can be delayed, they still have to be done to prevent larger bills that are associated with unprotected and rotting wood. Despite the fact that there are exceptions to every rule, painting is still primarily an optional item for expandable income. It also remains one of the best and easiest ways to increase the value of your home before putting it on the market. Because consumer confidence was low and the economy was bleak, from 2008 to 2012, much of the painting being performed in 2015 fell into the maintenance and home resale category. “Looking to next year, at the risk of sounding like your typical economist, I believe we will see growth in our economy that is slightly better than what we have seen for the past two years,” says Meade. “Typically an election year brings great uncertainty and with it, a reluctance to spend discretionary income. At the same time, I believe there is still a great deal of pent-up demand for painting, redecorating, remodeling, and other small business services that have not been satisfied because no one has felt comfortable that a decent economy is here to stay. The longer we continue to see growth in our economy, increases in salary and a rising stock market, the higher our consumer confidence will grow and the more discretionary money we will spend.”

Healthcare & Social Assistance

The Greater Reading area is fortunate to have two strong healthcare systems serving the region. Reading Health Systems is Berks County’s largest employer and Penn State Health St. Joseph is our ninth largest employer. Both health systems are labor-intensive service providers likely to retain strong employment numbers as they continue to work their way through the many industry changes and consolidations resulting from full implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). According to Dan Fogarty, next 12  COMMERCE QUARTERLY   WINTER 2016

year, the Greater Reading community should expect to see continued growth in the local healthcare and social assistance sectors with much of the growth in community-based services, including home care occupations. The Bureau of Labor projects that employment in these sectors will exceed manufacturing sector employment by 2022, so next year should be an opportune time to look for employment opportunities in healthcare and social assistance.

The Pennsylvania State University. Now named Penn State Health St. Joseph, the Hospital is positioned to offer increased services in 2016 through its network partnerships.

The Bigger Impact… The Price of Money

Jay Bryson, Global Economist for Wells Fargo Securities, stated that The Federal Reserve cut its target for the federal funds rate from a range of 0–0.25% in December 2008, and it has maintained that target range Healthcare is ever-changing, now more for the past seven years. “However, there focused on outcomes, population health are indications that the and the delivery of services. Clint Matthews Fed is getting ready to hike and his team at Reading Health System have rates. Indeed, we look for put into action one of the biggest expansion the Federal Open Market projects known to Berks County, the 7th Committee (FOMC) to raise Avenue Project. With expected completion in its target range for the fed early fall 2016, the new facility will provide funds rate by 25 basis points greater service capacity while increasing the at its December 16 policy Hospital’s square footage by 20 percent. meeting,” inputs Bryson. “A higher target range for the fed funds rate will lead to higher Growth in service comes in several ways. borrowing costs for businesses and consumers.” For the former St. Joseph Regional Health Network that growth came with a recent 2015 “Why is the Fed contemplating a rate hike?” merger with Penn State Health, affiliated with he asks. “In short, the economy no longer

needs the boost from extraordinarily low interest rates. The economy has created 13 million jobs since the employment trough in 2010, and the unemployment rate has dropped to a 7-year low of 5.0 percent. Inflation is very low at present, which has induced the FOMC to keep rates on hold, but wages and prices could eventually start to accelerate as the labor market tightens further. Even if the Fed hikes rates in December, borrowing costs for most consumers and businesses will remain low. A rate hike in December will do little to slow the underlying momentum of the economy,” states Bryson. “Looking into next year, we forecast that the Fed will raise its target range for the fed funds rate by another 100 basis points. With the FOMC scheduled to hold eight policy meetings in 2016, our forecast implies that the Fed will hike rates by 25 basis points at every other policy meeting. That pace of rate hikes, should it transpire, would be a historically slow pace of tightening. If, as we anticipate, the economy continues to expand Continued on page 14   13

cover story continued…

ON THE COVER Manufacturing plays an integral role in our 2016 economic forecast, and we couldn’t think of a better way to highlight this than to recognize two of Berks County’s manufacturing rockstars—Andrea (Andi) Funk and Karen Norheim. Funk is CEO at Cambridge-Lee Industries LLC, one of the world’s largest manufacturers and distributors of copper tube for water supply, air conditioning, refrigeration and commercial applications on a global scale. One of the largest manufacturing facilities in Berks County, Cambridge-Lee houses approximately 500 employees spread over 200,000 square feet, and brings in revenues of over $400 million. Norheim is the Executive Vice President of American Crane & Equipment Corporation, a well-known leader in the manufacturing of cranes, hoists, and other material handling equipment, as well as components and parts for standard, custom and nuclear applications. Norheim has dedicated her time at American Crane to expanding and developing an effective long-term strategy. Her background in Marketing and Information Technology, along with International Business, has proven to be very beneficial to the success of the company.

throughout 2017, then the Fed likely will business owners through the business plan continue to raise rates, and we look for the creation process. It’s free and you don’t have FOMC to take its target range for the fed to be a Wells Fargo customer to access it.” funds rate to 2.00-2.25% by the end of 2017.” Mary Jean Noon, Wells The team from Wells Fargo echoes that stateFargo Business Banking ment. Lauren Tobiassen, Senior Relationship Manager, We l l s Fa r g o C e n t r a l adds, “In Berks County, busiPennsylvania Community nesses have spent the past few years strengthening their Bank Area President, adds, balance sheets and very few “Many of our small business companies wanted to take customers are setting aside on more debt. As overall confidence in the time to prepare a strong economy grows, we’re seeing increased interest financial plan for 2016. They’re looking at things like expenses, year- in financing for things like new equipment end tax reporting and cash flow. One of the with updated technology, and some local things we’re always talking about with our firms are considering expansion. Of course, small business customers is the need for a we’re always talking with our business banking business plan, which is something that only customers and are happy to work with them one in three small business owners have. We as they explore new opportunities.” have a great tool on our web site that guides


We would love to hear your thoughts on the outlook for 2016. Please visit the Chamber Facebook page to share your feedback!


volunteer spotlight

VOLUNTEER SPOTLIGHT Compiled by: Ellen Albright, Greater Reading Chamber

Margarita M. Caicedo Reading Area Community College (RACC) — Bilingual ESL Program Coordinator Role with the Chamber: Women2Women

Merle Dunkelberger Baker Tilly — CPA, Tax Partner Role with the Chamber: Business & Community Advocacy Council, former Board of Director and Treasurer

Council Member, Latina Initiatives Committee

Margarita M. Caicedo is the kind of person, and Chamber volunteer in this case, that warms a room whenever she arrives. Her passion and appreciation for life is contagious, and we’re lucky to have her as a Chamber champion to be able to share her enthusiasm with the community! Margarita has served on the Chamber’s Latina Initiatives Committee, and also participates on the Chamber’s Women2Women Council. If you’ve ever attended a De Mujer A Mujer (Translation: Woman to Woman) event, it is likely you not only saw Margarita there, but were also greeted with a big hug!

Merle Dunkelberger is a native of Berks County, and has enjoyed a lifelong career in the area. The Wyomissing office that has recently become Baker Tilly has been Merle’s “second home” for 32 years, providing full-service accounting, auditing, tax, small business and consulting. Baker Tilly is currently the 15th largest firm in the US, providing direct access to valuable resources for their clients. Merle loves a lot of things about his hometown, but most enjoys the balance of having close proximity to larger cities, while also enjoying the local atmosphere here.

Margarita says joining the Women2Women Council was a no-brainer, and she was thrilled to join the network of exceptional women taking part. She is quoted saying, “It has strengthened my ties to the community and broadened my support network, exposing me to people with common interests, while also providing fun and fulfilling activities. I have learned that life has so much to offer if we remember to look beyond ourselves.” Originally from Colombia, Margarita says when she moved to Berks County—it was love at first site. To this day, she loves living, working, and playing in the Greater Reading area.

For many years, Merle was the moderator for the Chamber’s annual breakfast with State Legislators. This opportunity remains a fond memory for Merle, as he always found it interesting to try and “manage” the discussion between the varying opinions on stage. Merle’s history of involvement with the Business & Community Advocacy Council stems from his belief that the strength of the Chamber and its membership allows it to be influential with government officials at the federal, state, and local levels which results in the satisfaction of knowing that together, we can make a difference.

Margarita is the Bilingual ESL Program Coordinator for RACC, within the Community Ed Division. She most enjoys working with the community on a daily basis because she says it “continuously teaches me something new about people, about cooperation, about compassion, and about myself. In helping others, I am reminded that we are all in this together and we need to remember to support each other.” We couldn’t agree with Margarita more, and appreciate her commitment to the Chamber and the community at large!


When asked what Merle has learned about himself through his work with the Chamber, he responded, “I believe that early in my career, I was on the quiet side—and actually believe I still am. But, being involved in and chairing committees, serving on the Board of Directors and Executive committee, and speaking frequently over the years at Chamber functions has given me the confidence and opportunity to grow and be at ease in more situations.” Good news for the Chamber, as we hope he continues to speak as an expert on many hot topics in the future!

family business matters

g n i v l o v E n A The Empire Group Celebrates 60 Years Francine M. Scoboria, Empire Group

Above: This historic photo was taken in 1959, in a jewelry store in Allentown. Harry “Whitey” O’Neill Jr., the founder of Empire Wrecking, is in the center of the photo. Empire Wrecking was the first Empire company.

Right: Empire Services experts utilize a Hitachi 450, 95 foot long reach excavator to provide extremely precise demolition services. (Photo by John Secoges) 18  COMMERCE QUARTERLY   WINTER 2016


t all started with demolition. Back in 1955, Harry “Whitey” O’Neill Jr. founded Empire Wrecking Co., of Reading, to provide demolition services to Berks County and surrounding areas. In 1972, Whitey unexpectedly passed away. His 22-year-old son, Harry J. O’Neill III, suddenly assumed the role of president. Running a growing demolition and excavation company was no easy feat. Fortunately, Harry found mentors in the field who advised him and helped him to develop into a successful leader. One of those mentors was Whitey’s brother “Uncle Joe” O’Neill, who worked for Empire Wrecking from its beginning until his death in 2007. In 1980, Whitey’s son, Todd M. O’Neill, took on a major role in the family business as vice president at the age of 18. Todd, now executive vice president, quickly emerged as a strong leader, adept at analyzing situations and managing large demolition projects. He also developed expertise and passion for the management of Empire’s large fleet of vehicles and heavy equipment. Today, Harry and Todd lead the Empire Group, which looks quite a bit different than it did in 1955. The Empire Group now includes six subsidiary companies, more than 200 employees, and more than 400 pieces of equipment, including a large fleet of vehicles. “In keeping with the changing marketplace and economy, Empire grew and expanded to meet the needs of customers,” says Harry O’Neill III. “New companies were founded to offer building products, transportation, environmental remediation, waste disposal and utility repairs.” The Empire Group includes: Empire Wrecking, doing business as Empire Services; Delaware Valley Contractors (DVC); Elk Environmental Services; Berks Transfer; Delaware Valley Utility Contractors (DVUC); and Empire Surplus Home Center. Continued on page 20   19

A Family Business— Built On Hard Work & Innovation

The third generation of this family business is represented by Whitey’s grandson, Harry O’Neill IV, who serves as Vice President of Empire Surplus Home Center, Leesport. Many other family members have assisted the growth of the Empire Group, including Cathy O’Neill, wife of Harry O’Neill III, Karen L. O’Neill, wife of Todd O’Neill, and Melinda O’Neill, wife of Harry O’Neill IV, as well as many other siblings, children and grandchildren.

Todd M. O’Neill, Exec. Vice President of the Empire Group, left, and Harry J. O’Neill III, President of the Empire Group, continue the tradition of business success begun by their father, Harry “Whitey” O’Neill Jr. “Whitey” O’Neill founded the first Empire company, Empire Wrecking Co., of Reading, PA, in 1955. (Photo by John Secoges)

remediation, to demolition, to transportation the leaders of the six Empire companies, we and disposal of waste, to excavation to prepare can rapidly move manpower and equipment for new building, Empire provides the tech- to stabilize the emergency.” “The Empire Group has thrived due to its nical expertise, experience and proficiency in ability to change, its pursuit of innovation, and each area to take the job from the beginning The Ability to Change thousands of dedicated employees over the past to successful closure. The unity of the six The Empire Group has thrived due to its 60 years,” says Harry O’Neill III. “No matter companies allows Empire to offer cohesive ability to change. As new markets emerged, how complicated or physically demanding the service to clients who have multiple needs. Empire could have managed these new areas project, Empire crews take pride in delivering under the original company, Empire Wrecking. results that exceed customer expectations.” “Another Empire niche is our Emergency However, the decision was made to form new Response capabilities,” says Todd O’Neill. companies; the Empire Group now includes According to Harry and Todd O’Neill, “When an emergency call comes to Empire, six unique companies. These companies Empire’s niche is offering clients turnkey we have the ability to react quickly and effec- function independently, and also assist each service. From environmental assessment and tively. Due to the close relationship between other as needed.


“Creating new companies allowed us to review the profitability of each area as a standalone activity,” said Harry O’Neill III. “It also enabled us to grow managers in particular directions, and to sell to third party companies without alienating our competition.” For example, from its beginning in 1955, Empire Wrecking salvaged materials from properties prior to demolition. This process eventually became a separate business named Empire Building Products. A few decades later, when most buildings were stripped of valuables before demolition, Empire Building Products evolved into Empire Surplus Home Center, which first sold surplus home improvement products. Empire Surplus now sells closeout, buyback, liquidation and running line products at deeply discounted prices. During demolition, Empire often encountered hazardous waste. This led them to open Elk Environmental Services in 1988, which offers turnkey solutions for environmental needs. When they saw a need for transportation, the owners of Empire founded Delaware Valley Contractors (DVC) in 1990, a full-service trucking company. When they identified the need for a waste disposal facility, they created Berks Transfer in 2003. The leaders of Empire are keenly tuned into the regional market and embrace the reality of constant change.

Challenges & Opportunities

Empire’s future is filled with both challenges and opportunities. One of the toughest

challenges is the effort to stay in compliance with changing government regulations from OSHA, EPA, DEP and other agencies. At the Empire Group, safety and compliance with regulations are top priorities. Empire employs a full-time Corporate Safety Officer who works with a team of managers and performs weekly jobsite safety inspections. Elk Environmental Services, an Empire Group company, offers more than 40 regulatory compliance and safety training courses to companies in Berks County and throughout the country. These courses can be customized to meet each company’s needs and schedule. Constantly changing government regulations have forced companies to become much more sophisticated and technologically oriented in order to succeed. “While these intense regulations are very challenging, for companies like Empire who have embraced the changes and have developed leaders and crews with the right technological experience and skill sets, the opportunities are incredible,” says Harry O’Neill III. “The future is wide open.” Another challenge is retaining and growing a strong workforce. There is great demand for experienced workers in many areas, including site supervisors, project managers, estimators, truck drivers and mechanics. Empire addresses this challenge several ways. “While we welcome new talent to the organization, we also consciously promote from within and, therefore, grow our own leaders,” says Harry O’Neill III. “Our current

For the past 10 years, Ron Lutz has worked as a driver for Elk Environmental Services, an Empire Group company. Ron drives a vacuum truck, built to transport hazardous and non-hazardous waste. (Photo by John Secoges)

Donny Entzminger Jr., a driver for Berks Transfer, an Empire Group company, stands with a transfer trailer truck used to transport waste. (Photo by John Secoges)

team of vice presidents and managers is the strongest team we have ever had assembled in Empire’s 60-year history. In addition to the individual expertise of each of the VPs and managers, this management team understands the importance of working together to create synergy for the entire Empire Group. The leaders of all six companies communicate on a daily basis in order to ensure the best service for all our customers.”

The Six Empire Group Companies

Empire Wrecking Co., doing business

as Empire Services, is a leader in the demolition and excavation industry in Eastern PA. From bridges to industrial plants, Empire has experience demolishing all types of structures. Clients include schools and colleges, hospitals, industrial parks, shopping centers, and residential developments.

Empire Surplus Home Center, origi-

nally founded in 1955 as Empire Building Products, sells quality home improvement products at deeply discounted prices. Empire Surplus, located in Leesport since 1995, offers a comprehensive selection of closeout, buyback, liquidation and running line products.

Elk Environmental Services, founded

in 1988, is an industry leader in emergency spill response, environmental remediation, industrial field services, hazardous and non-hazardous waste management, lab packing, and safety and compliance training.

Delaware Valley Contractors (DVC),

founded in 1990, is a full-service trucking company, providing transportation of bulk commodities and equipment. The versatility of DVC’s fleet allows a wide range of materials to be transported, including hazardous and non-hazardous soil, sand, stone, salt and asphalt.

Berks Transfer, founded in 2003, provides companies and individuals with hauling and waste disposal services. This unique environmental facility is built to accept 1,000 tons of waste per day and attracts customers from PA, NJ and NY.

Delaware Valley Utility Contractors (DVUC), founded in

2011, provides directional drilling, which causes minimal disruption during underground installation of gas, electric, water and telecommunication lines. DVUC provides 24-hour service to residential, commercial, construction, industrial and agricultural customers.   21

business & community advocacy

REGULATORY Gail Landis, Greater Reading Chamber

hroughout my career, I have heard The Greater Reading Chamber of many horror stories about how regu- Commerce & Industry and its strong Business latory requirements have either stopped new & Community Advocacy Council monitor businesses from being established or hindered regulations, and assist businesses in underthe expansion of existing businesses. We can standing the process. Your Chamber is also all agree that some regulation is necessary—to engaged in the rulemaking process by proensure workplace safety and protect public viding comments to ensure the regulatory health, for example. But when regulations environment makes sensible rules that protect handicap business with unreasonable com- the public and labor force without impeding pliance costs, complex rules and a slow and the growth our economy needs. irrational permitting process, that’s when businesses can reach damaging barriers. In discussion with local business owners, some have shared they are hiring to comply with regulations rather than to grow their business. Real estate developers have shared that outdated state and federal regulations Regulations can be just need to be evaluated to ensure they are still like quicksand. Continued relevant. Another common issue is that regor panicked ulations need to be consistently interpreted by inspectors and compliance officers. Time movement may and compliance rework can be exhausting and cause you to impact costs. In addition, many businesses struggle with varying municipal requirements sink deeper. It when they are looking to locate or have locacan also impair your tions in multiple municipalities.

ability to move forward, while allowing outside elements to impact your business plan or growth. With knowledge and patience, you can escape quicksand. The danger is becoming exhausted while being entrapped in quicksand.”


Regulations touch almost every aspect of business, for example: transportation, health/ human services, energy, labor/employment law, communications, taxes, financial/banking, license requirements, education requirements, land, air, water, waste, workplace safeguards, and food safety to name a few. Agencies and governing bodies are responsible for the rulemaking process, compliance and enforcement information, along with policies and guidance implementation.

To ensure you do not get entrapped in the regulatory quicksand, you need to be aware of the various local, state and federal agencies/ governing bodies that may have requirements affecting your business plan. Not only do you need to be aware of the requirements, but also familiar with the timeline to complete the process and any ongoing reporting requirements. And remember, certain permits have a shelf life—don’t forget to renew! While this may sound overwhelming, failure to comply could be costly.

When it is determined a regulatory action is necessary at the federal level, they publish a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) for public comment listed on the Federal Register at: Upon further review, a final rule is established with an effective date. In October 2015, federal agencies published 520 final and proposed regulatory notices comprising 5,614 pages of fine print. This is up from an average of 480 regulatory notices per month so far in 2015. Continued on page 24













All Other




Homeland Security












Health/Human Services








Federal Communications Commission












Securities & Exchange Commission











TOTALS Source: Federal Register; author’s tabulation


business & community advocacy continued…

The Chamber advocates for full transparency in the regulatory process; asserting that agencies should be required to inform the public of pending regulatory decisions on high-impact rules early in the process, sharing their data and economic models, and allowing those who will be affected an adequate timeframe for comments. We also believe Congress should vote on the largest and most costly regulations to more carefully craft legislation so that the purpose of any new rules is perfectly clear and regulators’ discretion in writing rules is limited. In Pennsylvania, the Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC) was established in 1982 with the goal of providing an effective and independent review of rulemakings to determine whether they are in the public interest. Input from businesses, associations, and individuals like you who could be affected by each new rule is critical to developing regulations that are in the public interest. To learn more go to http:// At the local level, municipality staff or a contracted representative will review and approve/inspect permits related to new construction, building modifications and land development (planning and zoning). Many municipalities have adopted the Uniform Commercial Code. This requires individuals to work with local inspectors responsible for enforcement to obtain compliance approvals on projects. Don’t let the quicksand of regulatory requirements discourage you from starting a business or growing your business. The Chamber is here to help educate you on the regulations affecting your business and can assist you in planning to comply. Further, we value your input as we work diligently with elected officials to keep regulations reasonable. For more information on regulatory and other policy issues, stay connected at www.


2016 REGULATORY PRIORITIES Health Care: The Affordable Care Act may have been signed into law on March 23, 2010, but in many respects, 2016 is when the rubber meets the road. Provider reporting for “Section 6055” will be required for the Individual Mandate to provide individuals and the IRS with information about Minimum Essential Coverage and to see if the individual has satisfied the obligation under the Individual Mandate. “Section 6056” for the Employer Mandate will also be required starting in early 2016 to find out which applicable large employers are offering affordable and adequate Minimum Essential Coverage to its full-time employees and dependents. Employment Law: Today, business owners, executives and managers of every size company—small to large—must understand and deal with a multitude of HR laws. While some requirements take effect when your company reaches a certain number of employees, many employment laws—wage & hour, the minimum wage and others—apply to even the smallest employers. The US Department of Labor’s (DOL) current proposed rules would update the Fair Labor Standards Act by more than doubling the minimum salary for the overtime exemption to $50,440 per year from $23,660. Additionally, in pre-rulemaking, is how employees’ use of electronic devices affects work performed outside of regular office hours. Retirement Options: Businesses of every size maintain a commitment of providing voluntary benefits that support the welfare of their employees. To compete and attract employees, small businesses need affordable retirement savings plans. The DOL is redefining the definition of a fiduciary under the Employee Retirement Security Act (ERISA) by modifying what constitutes “investment advice.” This restricts the advice that financial experts can share with small business owners and employees, raises costs, limits plan options, and perhaps even drives advisors out of this market. Energy: Affordable, reliable energy production is a requirement of a strong economy. PA will undergo a substantial pipeline infrastructure build-out to transport gas and related byproducts from wells throughout the state. PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is evaluating plans to site, route and operate pipelines to avoid/reduce any environmental, safety or community impact. It is critical to our economy to ensure the environmental review process enables the necessary infrastructure, and to safeguard community improvement projects, making sure they receive required permits to be built. Environmental: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is looking at numerous rules including Waters of the United States (WOTUS) to expand the agency’s authority over bodies of water and local land use. Additionally, the Clean Power Plan proposes to change the National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for ozone to require even stricter standards. Our regional economy is driven by the manufacturing sector that is still recovering from the recession and will be further hindered by the increased uncertainty and expense that the new regulations could bring. The PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has voiced support of the EPA plan and has conducted a listening session on this rule. We are waiting to see what our state plan will require.



President and Chief Executive Officer, Penn State Health St. Joseph

John R. Morahan


President and Chief Executive Officer, Reading Health System

Clint Matthews

W i n t e r

Sara Radaoui, Hoffmann Publishing



in your community


(Greater Reading Young Professionals)

Interviewed by: Kristi Gage-Linderman, Outgoing GRYP President & Executive Vice President—Gage Personnel

aving volunteered for Greater Reading Young Professionals (GRYP) since 2006, most recently serving as President, I have been consistently impressed by the efforts and energy that so many of our volunteers put forth to ensure the success of the organization.

I recently sat down with Thad to chat about his new role with GRYP and the vast opportunities for young professionals in the Greater Reading area. Read on to hear what he had to say!

As a 501(c)(6) organization, GRYP is comprised of hundreds of dedicated and talented volunteers from a variety of different professions, backgrounds and places. The GRYP network has become a well-known resource for the Greater Reading community, creating valuable opportunities for young professionals to get connected, while providing a forum for networking, education, philanthropy, sports, recreation, leadership development, social activities and more.

Thad, tell me a bit about your personal and professional background.

GRYP supports the Greater Reading community through its mission to attract, engage and retain young professionals in our area, and continues to receive support and encouragement from a multitude of community leaders and volunteers. Thad Gelsinger, Attorney—Leisawitz Heller, is our incoming GRYP President, and I know that the organization is in good hands for his two-year term! Thad has served the organization in various roles and most recently served as Vice President of GRYP. Through his volunteer efforts and with his strong leadership skills, Thad has already proven to be a great asset to GRYP. I have every confidence that Thad will do a fantastic job as GRYP President and will be successful in his role to help create a lasting impact not only for our organization, but for our community as a whole. 28  COMMERCE QUARTERLY   WINTER 2016

I am a Berks County native having grown up in Robesonia and graduating from Holy Name High School in 2001. I went to Pennsylvania State University for my Bachelor of Science and then to Widener University for my Juris Doctor and Master in Business Administration. I am now an attorney at Leisawitz Heller and my practice focuses primarily in civil litigation and business counseling. Outside of GRYP, I have served on the Board of Directors and as Chair of the Young Lawyers’ Section of the Berks County Bar Association. I am a member of the House of Delegates for the Pennsylvania Bar Association. I also served as a member of the Board of Directors for the Berks County Chapter of the Pennsylvania State University Alumni Association. When and how did you decide to get involved with GRYP? I came back to the Reading area after school in 2008 and was looking for opportunities to meet other young professionals. On my way into Reading for work one day, I passed the red electric sign on Penn Street and noticed GRYP’s name and website. I checked out the website and attended my first event that week. I met some great people, loved the event, and have not looked back since. Can you tell us how GRYP’s mission to attract, engage, and retain

young professionals in Greater Reading aligns with your personal mission? It is my belief that one of the greatest assets that the Greater Reading area possesses is that it remains a community. The individuals, businesses, and organizations that care about this region support each other in an effort to reach common goals. That community drive is what makes me optimistic about our future. I believe the collective group of young professionals that GRYP has become is an important component of the community and I hope that GRYP can serve the area by providing a conduit through which young professionals will become engaged, grow in their careers, and find valuable relationships. Can you share some of the great achievements you have been involved with through GRYP during your tenure? I truly enjoy watching young professionals find success as a result of involvement in GRYP. One of my favorite memories was a forum style event that GRYP hosted last year with a focus on urban revitalization. Several of the speakers were (still) young professionals that had been involved in the early years of GRYP’s existence and are out making a difference in our region. It was both gratifying and energizing to see how GRYP had played a role in their professional development and that they were willing to give their time to invest in growth of the next group of young professionals. Can you describe the various volunteer efforts and initiatives that you will be overseeing through your role within GRYP? GRYP is a committee-run organization that consists of groups such as our Community

Advancement and Legislative Impact Committees. The Community Advancement Committee provides opportunities for our members to get engaged and to support, highlight, and enhance initiatives of local non-profit organizations. The Legislative Impact Committee educates GRYP members and provides opportunities for involvement in relation to political issues facing our region. Can you explain the importance of what it means to be a “young professional” and the impact that you feel the organization has had and will continue to have on our community? “Young professional” is a fluid term but I definitely do not believe that you have to be a doctor, lawyer, or banker to fit that title. I also do not believe you had to have chosen a particular career to find value in GRYP. GRYP provides events ranging from structured networking opportunities to happy hours and sports leagues. I believe we have a wide array of initiatives and events that provide value no matter what profession you choose. But, we are always interested in hearing about new ideas and we welcome interested new members to get involved and share their thoughts. As GRYP President, can you tell me where you envision the organization heading under your leadership? GRYP’s mission to attract, engage, and retain young professionals in the Greater Reading area drives our decision making. Our respective committees each have a role in making our mission a success and I know that the committee members are energized to reach their individual goals. By setting and attaining more narrowly focused objectives at the committee level, our organization as a whole will be successful in reaching our mission. Will you share with us any exciting initiatives that you plan to organize during your term as GRYP President in 2016/2017? Well, Kristi, just between you and me, I am excited for G!G! 2016 which will be held at the new DoubleTree Reading on March 12, 2016. I also expect that a continuation of a mentoring series, in conjunction with the Greater Reading Chamber of Commerce and Industry and local business leaders, will be announced in the new year. Some great Third Thursday events are already lined up and our sports league will be going strong. It’s going to be a great two years!

Do you have any advice for young professionals looking to get more involved in their community? Young professionals that are interested in getting more involved in the community can visit our website at and they should feel free to come out to one of our events. Not-yet-members can attend up to two (2) events for free and should feel free to reach out to me with any questions about GRYP—   29

in your community

Sites & Infrastructure Committee is Hard at Work! Shannon Rossman, AICP, Berks County Planning Commission—County of Berks

erks County is a very large—and very diverse—County. With over 410,000 people and a landscape that runs from very urban to very rural, the region encompasses approximately 864 square miles that the County must carefully plan for in regards to conservation, preservation and future growth. In the past, the conservation of environmentally sensitive habitats and preservation of agriculture were key areas of focus. Now that these areas, for the most part, have firm protection from encroachment, the County has turned its focus towards the economic growth and stability of its existing and future industrial and commercial areas. After the economic downturn, the preservation of jobs and the quality of jobs available within Berks County has become a major, priority concern.

While the County remains a very strong manufacturing community, one of the major issues brought forth by various economic development entities is that the County needs to identify additional sites for industrial and commercial growth that are serviced by existing or proposed infrastructure. This would allow for both new industrial and commercial opportunities as well as expansion of existing businesses already located here. In order to meet this need, the Ride to Prosperity initiative created a Sites & Infrastructure Committee to work with the County Planning Staff to identify new, available sites. The Staff has been working to create layers of infrastructure availability and are giving sites a numerical rank based upon availability of infrastructure; including water, sewer, transportation, interchanges, and environmental constraints. As the highest valued sites are identified through this process, a “hot spot” map will evolve which will list the benefits and restrictions of each area. Other key factors, such as electric, natural gas, highway occupancy and fiber optics, will be researched to determine the ease of service to these areas. Once these areas are in a draft format, outreach will occur to the host municipalities to make sure that the appropriate zoning is in place so that these sites will be many steps closer to the goal of having a variety of shovel ready sites for marketing to developers.


effective leadership

Brentwood Industries:

Growing People, Growing Company Mark Dolinski, Greater Reading Chamber


oday, the importance of growing employees has never been more essential. Progressive companies recognize the value of growing their own. Brentwood Industries is an excellent example of a growing company that understands the importance of developing their employees. Brentwood is tying their employee development plan to the implementation of a new performance management system called L.E.A.D. (Leadership, Engagement, Accountability and Development). This is part of a full-circle approach encompassing recruitment and retention of their most valuable resource: their employees. Brentwood’s L.E.A.D. Initiative will provide frequent opportunity for communication about performance. This will allow the company to map out career paths, create plans for development, and ensure that employees are engaged in their everyday job responsibilities. As the name of the system implies, Brentwood wants each employee to be a leader, and in doing so, lead the company in the right direction.

Fr a


Dol e

The Greater Reading Chamber of Commerce & Industry collaborated with Brentwood to customize curriculum for the Brentwood Supervisory Academy. The goal of the Academy is to provide employees with the skills needed to be more productive in their current role and to be poised to contribute and grow with the company. “Brentwood is investing in the further education of its employees and this is evident across the organization,” said Frank Dole, Inventory and Cost Analyst.


b ra

Smolni k

Brentwood’s Human Resources Director, Debra Smolnik, says, “It’s all about working with people to develop the depth and breadth of our employees, making them versatile and flexible and our business processes fluid.” The Academy is working with Brentwood as they align employees with the direction of the company and create a clear path to future success. Creating a consistent training program at all levels ensures that company policies and procedures are followed and that there is a consistency in culture. In today’s world, finding the “right person” for a particular job is not easy. Companies like Brentwood are realizing that they need to look within when filling positions. The talent they need is most likely a current employee—one who may just be lacking the leadership experience for the job. Employee training and development programs also help keep employees engaged; and engaged employees are less likely to seek employment elsewhere. This improves morale, job performance, and ultimately, the company’s bottom line.   31

expert advice

r e i h t l a e H a e t a e r C Emmett Lien, Edge Insights

hether you have one or 250 Analyzing Your Waste Spend. locations, most organizations There are three components to your waste find controlling expenses a challenging task. disposal bill: However, top performing companies recognize that lowering expenses will result in 1. Base Disposal Costs sustained profits. 2. Additional Fees

Where Do You Start?

Our recommendation would be to start with your waste disposal expenses and recycling initiatives. In the United States, businesses account for approximately half of the nearly 200 billion tons of solid waste produced each year. The largest producers of solid waste typically include professional offices, manufacturers, hospitals, assisted living communities, and schools. It only stands to reason that the management of solid waste is a $50 billion industry with businesses throwing away an inordinate amount of money each year on waste disposal services. As the waste industry has evolved, customer charges have increased dramatically and most organizations are overpaying for these services by as much as 60%. Not surprisingly, this is one area that you can effectively lower operational expenses and infuse cash back into the bottom line with no impact on daily operations. While waste disposal is a necessary monthly expense, the costs and logistics related to these services should be analyzed and negotiated regularly to assure the most competitive pricing for the appropriate level of service. 32  COMMERCE QUARTERLY   WINTER 2016


Fixed Fees

BASE DISPOSAL COSTS make up about half of your bill and are determined by weight, volume and pickup schedule. Therefore, if you have too many trash containers for your location and the volume of waste a location is producing doesn’t meet the number of pickups each week, you could be overpaying. Analyzing all of your locations and your entire waste stream will determine if this cost is comparable to your usage. ADDITIONAL FEES can be as much as 40% of your total bill. They are based on a percentage of the disposal costs, such as fuel surcharges and environmental surcharges. These fees increase every time the base disposal costs go up. Again, if your base costs are inaccurate, it will also cause all of your fees to increase.

Lastly, your bills may have multiple small

FIXED FEES. These can include administrative

fees, paper billing fees, etc.

Based on our experience, overcharges can occur in all three of these areas!

How to Get Your Waste Expenses Under Control. For most small businesses, analyzing waste stream expenses can result in hundreds or even thousands of dollars back into the bottom line—monthly! This is not uncommon; we see it with 99% of our audits. It makes perfect sense to look at your waste disposal spend and determine where there are opportunities to save money or even receive a refund. Start with a holistic view of your organizations’ entire waste process including contracts, service delivery and billing. There are 5 steps we recommend you complete to ensure your waste stream expenses are under control:


Complete a Bill Audit (past and future) and a Contract Compliance Audit.


Conduct an on-site efficiency review regularly.


Administer a Competitive Market Analysis.


Compare and review your invoice(s) and contract, monthly.


If your staff does not have the time or expertise to complete these steps, engage a no-fee Certified Waste Expert with a Help Desk.

When analyzing your waste stream, be sure to include all aspects of your waste output such as: municipal solid waste (regular trash), standard recycling materials (cardboard, paper, glass, plastic, etc.), special recycling materials unique to your products and services, and hazardous waste and shredding.

Regardless of the size of your organization or how many locations you have, waste disposal costs CAN be reduced. We have seen businesses (including banks, healthcare, offices, manufacturers and schools) from one location to 250 locations receive a refund and reduce monthly costs. Take the time to learn and understand how to reduce your waste expenses which will ultimately result in a healthier bottom line!

About Edge Insights: Emmett Lien is president of Edge Insights, Inc.—formerly UtiliTech. Based in Berks County, Edge Insights offers risk-free, cash-flow positive, proven methods for reducing costs related to waste removal and recycling, voice and data and energy.


small business matters

Nicole Kocher, Reading Health System

a core competency of your business, doesn’t generate revenue, or requires special skills and knowledge can be outsourced. Tasks such as payroll, accounting, IT, and marketing are better left to the experts. Not only will outside providers or freelancers do these things better than you (trust me, they will—it’s their job), but they will do them in less time and it will ultimately cost you less than trying to do everything in-house. Done right, outsourcing is an affordable, proven strategy for growing your business without letting your business totally overwhelm your life. Do I have your attention now? Good. With that said, outsourcing isn’t a cure-all. However, other than saving you considerable amounts of time (that oh so precious commodity), outsourcing also offers other very tangible benefits.

re you a small business owner? Do me a favor. Take a quick look in the mirror and tell me how many hats you are wearing right now. CEO? HR Consultant? Accountant? Marketing Exec? IT Specialist? Customer Service Rep? Now, what if I told you that Benefits of Outsourcing: wearing so many hats was in fact, hurting your business not helping  CONTROL CAPITAL COSTS. Cost-cutting may not be the only reason it? Yes, really. And what if I told you that there was a better way, one to outsource, but it’s certainly a major factor. Outsourcing converts where you would have more time to focus on important things like fixed costs into variable costs, releases capital for investment elsewhere business development, revenue generation, and growth? You know, in your business, and allows you to avoid large expenditures in the the reasons why you started your business in the first place! What early stages of your business. Outsourcing can also make your business is this miraculous solution I speak of? Outsourcing. Hey, wait! Ok, more attractive to investors, since you’re able to pump more capital before you turn the page hear me out. directly into revenue-producing activities.

Sure, unchecked expenses can tank a small business in no time flat.  INCREASE EFFICIENCY. Companies that do everything themselves But too many business owners hamper their revenue growth by trying have much higher research, development, marketing, and distribution to do everything themselves just to save a couple of bucks. Sound expenses, all of which must be passed on to customers. An outside familiar? It is a logical fallacy we all find ourselves in from time to provider’s cost structure and economy of scale can give your business time. We believe we are saving money by not spending it, however, an important competitive advantage. often in doing so we are also not making it. You see, we forget to factor in things like the value of lost opportunities or time. Time,  REDUCE LABOR COSTS. Hiring and training staff for short-term or for example, that could have been better spent strategizing against peripheral projects can be very expensive, and temporary employees our competition instead of calculating payroll. We think we can do don’t always live up to your expectations. Outsourcing lets you focus it all. The truth is we can’t, and it’s costing us big in the long run. your human resources where you need them most. Forget your preconceived notions about outsourcing. No, really. It is no longer a distasteful word (mostly) or a tool reserved only for big business. In this day and age it is practically a necessity, and thanks to advances in technology, it is accessible to even the smallest of businesses. Can you properly configure your business’ IT network? Are you knowledgeable in your state’s tax code? Do you have the time it takes to effectively maintain multiple social media pages? That’s what I thought. So why are you still trying? Stop wasting your time and energy. I mean it, stop it right now! Any task that isn’t 34  COMMERCE QUARTERLY   WINTER 2016

 START NEW PROJECTS QUICKLY. A good outsourcing firm has the resources to start a project right away. Handling the same project in-house might involve taking weeks or months to hire the right people, train them, and provide the support they need. And if a project requires major capital investments (such as building a series of distribution centers), the startup process can be even more difficult.  FOCUS ON YOUR CORE BUSINESS. Every business has limited resources, and every manager has limited time and attention. Outsourcing

can help your business to shift its focus from peripheral activities toward work that serves the customer, and it can help managers set their priorities more clearly.  LEVEL THE PLAYING FIELD. Most small firms simply can’t afford to match the in-house support services that larger companies maintain. Outsourcing can help small firms act “big” by giving them access to the same economies of scale, efficiency, and expertise that large companies enjoy.  REDUCE RISK. Every business investment carries a certain amount of risk. Markets, competition, government regulations, financial conditions, and technologies all change very quickly. Outsourcing providers assume and manage this risk for you, and they generally are much better at deciding how to avoid risk in their areas of expertise. Decreased costs? Increased flexibility? Reduced risk? Outsourcing is starting to sound pretty good now. Come on, you can admit it. Don’t take my word for it though, allow some of our Chamber members to convince you even further.

Outsourcing allows school districts and companies to secure experts who specialize in particular business processes such as food services, back office operations, technology, etc., to operate in a more efficient manner. Not only can outsourcing serve as a better use of time, but, just as importantly, as a cost-savings measure. When considering a decision to outsource a current internal operation, it is critical for leaders to incorporate the idea into the organization strategic plan and keep board members informed of the concept in order to avoid any unforeseen questions or roadblocks.

Dr. Jill M. Hackman —Executive Director,

Berks County Intermediate Unit

Companies with highly effective employee communications see an average of 43% higher returns to shareholders (Towers Watson). It’s easy to see why: They have better outcomes with cost-cutting initiatives like workplace wellness. Their employees are more engaged, they see fewer errors on the job, there’s more positive buzz about the company, and so much more. But, “effective” is the key word. You’ll get a better ROI for any initiative when your communications are more effective. That involves sending prompt, meaningful topics, using proven writing techniques that rise above the white noise in this Age of Information Overload. You can hire a specially trained communications expert—for which large corporations pay $50K to $80K a year and more. Or you can outsource important projects for the most cost-efficient way to add this valuable skill set to your team.

Jeanette Juryea—President, QubComm Continued on page 36   35

small business matters continued…

Murray Securus HR Solutions specializes in providing a complete set of human resource solutions to small- and medium-sized businesses that typically do not have the luxury of employing a trained and dedicated human resource professional. Our staff has the ability to expand the HR possibilities for that organization by leveraging the complete set of knowledge and skills through the provision of contracted services. By forming a long-standing business partnership, we are able to learn the business and the culture of the client, thus continually enhancing the value that we are able to provide. The ability to offer a legal review along with those services offers these clients an efficient and cost effective solution for their HR needs and issues.

Debra Franklin—Vice President, Murray Securus HR Solutions

For businesses of all sizes, using partner organizations makes sense when the work being done is not a core competency for that organization. The idea that companies can simply buy the services they need— when they need them—has become a very attractive option and in some cases a strategic advantage. Weidenhammer offers a range of products and services that allows customers to focus on their core competencies and invest precious resources on growing their sales, not their support staff. IT Infrastructure—There is a multitude of ways to improve efficiency as the IT landscape shifts. The idea that small, medium or even


large companies purchase expensive server hardware and then hire maintenance personnel is becoming obsolete. Not because they aren’t good at it—but because their sole purpose for being in business isn’t buying and maintaining computers and their programs. IT Development—Even small businesses have computer applications that need customization, maintenance and eventual upgrade. When identifying people who can do this type of work, it’s important to find an organization that possesses vast experience. There’s a comfort level in an organization that has performed hundreds of application development projects. Organizations can benefit from an expert’s considerable experience while, most importantly, keeping their focus on inventing, building and selling. Strategic Marketing—Marketing is one of those activities that frequently get resourced with the lowest priced solution. Unfortunately, goals and results get lost in the zeal to manage costs. Shifting critical activities out of today’s businesses is hardly a new idea. Surprisingly, it’s large businesses that have been leading the charge in an attempt to get the best results while delivering a lower overall cost. There is much to be gained by small- and medium-sized organizations who refocus their precious resources while still benefiting from expert solutions.

Kress Schwartz

—Director, Weidenhammer

By handling payroll in-house, businesses are dedicating employee time and money toward tasks that are not revenue producing and that have nothing to do with the core business concept. When processing payroll in-house, the best-case scenario is that the staff processes paperwork correctly and on time, avoiding liabilities. But because payroll is not a core company function, in many cases it is done inefficiently without contributing to profits. The worst-case scenario: mistakes occur that can result in stiff penalties and fines. In business, risk is acceptable if it leads to a chance for reward. That’s not the case with payroll. When deciding whether to outsource payroll services or maintain an in-house staff, keep in mind that outsourcing allows you to utilize employees in a profitable manner and eliminates liability on local, state and federal tax filing. The time and effort put into maintaining a perfect in-house payroll function is not profitable and could take some of the focus away from what your business does best. If you decide to transition into outsourcing your payroll processing, look for a provider that has a reputation for outstanding customer service and can customize its software to work with your existing system.

Wayne Hart

—Executive Vice President, JetPay Payroll Services

Our clients outsource their work to us for the following reasons: COST: We are able to do complex tasks at a fraction of the time it would take a business owner who does not have deep knowledge on a certain area. EQUIPMENT: Because we specialize, we already have the tools of the trade, so a business owner does not have to purchase advanced software or equipment needed for a task. Think video-editing software or even the necessary hardware. FOCUS: This is related to the COST point above…business owners can focus on their business and what they do best, and do not let infrequent tasks derail their budget or scope of a project/task. COMPLIANCE: We keep up to date with the latest requirements and upgrades, so they do not have to. As experts, we are able to notify clients of risks/opportunities. In some cases we are able to absorb some of the liabilities as part of our professional liability insurance if things do go off track; another benefit to a business owner.

Bala Peterson—Software Engineer & Partner, Cast & Crew

Outsourcing portions or all of Human Resources for small- and medium-sized organizations provides a higher level of HR expertise and results than most organizations can afford on their own. The breadth and experience of multi-faceted and multi-skilled HR professionals impacts the organization quickly and effectively. It’s very difficult for smaller organizations to stay abreast of all the quickly changing Continued on page 38   37

small business matters continued…

HR laws and regulations and outsourcing the function provides that expertise on a proactive and timely basis, minimizing noncompliance and employment related matters up to and including lawsuits and other regulatory and legal action. Outsourcing HR provides timely resources to address areas such as recruiting peaks, benefit re-enrollment, regulatory review with areas such as the new DOL Wage and Hour regulations and Affordable Care Act, and employee, supervisory, and managerial training. Many Berks County organizations have benefited from outsourcing their HR function which ultimately has improved their most important resource—their employees!

Chester Mosteller—CEBS, President, Mosteller & Associates

I have always been a big fan of focusing on your core competency and outsourcing the rest. In my business we outsource many things from high-level accounting and marketing to cleaning. While we all want to be frugal with our dollars and maximize the bottom line, holding on to tasks like IT, CFO, Payroll, HR, Marketing, SEO, and Janitorial will hold back your business growth. At TS Tech, our core competency and mission is to empower people and business through technology. We secure technology risks while helping people resolve and reduce problems that cause distraction, waste time, and cost money. It has been my experience that small businesses with less than 100 people rarely need a full-time information technology person. If the business absolutely wants an IT associate, the role should be much more strategic and business-process focused, and the business should still be outsourcing helpdesk support, backup management, and other core services that can be done more efficiently by someone specializing in those roles.

Todd R. Schorle—President, TS Tech Enterprises, Inc.


I can’t tell you how many times someone asked me to fix their frozen computer, or to help them understand their health benefits. My husband and I, owners at Suburban Testing Labs in Reading, PA, found ourselves spending so much time working to solve our employees’ problems in areas where we weren’t experts, and it was taking time away from what we do best: growing our business. Most small business owners get into business because they are really good at something, whether it’s carpentry, fashion, or in my husband’s case, chemistry. Responsibilities like Accounting, HR and IT were outside of our expertise. We were fast learners and could “hold our own,” but these tasks were definitely distractions. Should we hire someone in-house? Did we really want to deal with that? The hiring, recruiting, and training of someone in a field where we were not experts. And, more importantly, could we afford it? Our conclusion was: No. So, we decided to go with outsourcing and are very happy we did.

In addition to freeing up our time so we can focus on what we do best, some other advantages to outsourcing in our case have been: • • • •

We are not accountable for the continuous training of an in-house employee as new technology or regulations arise.

We do not have to worry about covering for vacation or sick time. The provider handles that.

It has been cheaper than the cost of a full-time employee, and there was no initial cost of hiring and on-boarding.

Contracted providers are the go-to resources for our front line staff, eliminating us from the chain of communication. This was my favorite part. I can’t tell you how happy I am that I no longer have to help someone when their computer freezes!

Some cautionary outsourcing advice: • • • •


Ask other small business owners who they recommend using. If you strike out, ask your attorney, accountant, or someone at the Chamber for referrals. Shop around. Get at least 3 proposals, and tour each facility. Get references, and don’t be afraid to call them.

Don’t plan to completely remove yourself from these areas. Keep tabs on the vendor to ensure all business practices are handled according to their committed expectations.

small business matters


made in berks

The Story Behind So Many Smiles A Background on Berks County’s Only Certified Dental Lab—DeLux Dental Laboratory

Compiled by: Ellen Albright, Greater Reading Chamber

ucked away on Walnut Street in downtown Reading is Berks County’s only certified dental lab, in business since 1947. Douglas R. Held, Cofounder, has served as President for more than 19 years, with 32 years of industry, fabrication, consulting, and teaching experience. He is also heavily involved with implant research. Joseph Bakanowski, Cofounder and COO, serves as a consultant to dentists on a variety of prosthetic solutions, and is a part of a national R&D implant team. Together, this dynamic leadership team exemplifies commitment to the advancement of their industry, and unmatched quality for their clients. In a recent interview with Joseph Bakanowski, Commerce Quarterly had the opportunity to learn so much more about this niche business right here in our own backyard!

CQ: What does DeLux Dental manufacture? JB: Personalized dental restorations for dentists to provide their patients with to improve their quality of life. Crowns and bridges to fit over dental implants, as well as over natural teeth. Dentures to replace missing natural teeth, porcelain veneers for improved cosmetics, as well as mouth guards and night guards to protect teeth. CQ: Can you further elaborate on the impact of these products? JB: People are living longer. The longer we live, the more likely it becomes that our teeth will become functionally and/or esthetically compromised. Such compromises can affect us in many ways—the way we look, what we eat, our self-confidence, and the overall way we feel. Fortunately, there are many advanced restorative solutions available. By partnering with local family dentists, DeLux has provided dental solutions to countless patients to get on living the life they enjoy. A healthy smile is an important key to adding quality to our extended life.


CQ: So, why Berks County? JB: DeLux is centrally located in Reading, PA. We have easy access to all of Berks County and many additional opportunities within a 50 miles radius and beyond. A majority of our clients are located in Eastern PA. However, a growing portion of our business is spreading nationally, well beyond PA borders. CQ: What might someone be surprised to know about your business? JB: We have attained a certification status achieved by less than half of 1% of all Dental Laboratories nationwide (NBC Certified Dental Laboratories Who’s Who List). We have Certified Dental Technicians in 5 areas of specialty—Implants, Ceramics, Partials, Dentures, Crown and Bridge. CQ: How many employees do you have altogether? JB: We have 30 fantastic team members with a Certified Specialist in each department.

CQ: Does your company partner with local schools to educate students about the industry and potential opportunities? JB: We have worked with Berks Career and Technology Center, Berks Technical Institute, Reading Area Community College, Temple University, and the residency program at St. Joseph University’s Dental Department. We present on long standing proven technologies and the latest cutting technologies, along with real world applications. CQ: What sets you apart from your competitors? JB: We are a Certified Lab and have the capability to do everything in-house, with a Certified Specialist in each department. With advanced equipment to carry out comprehensive treatment plans, we can move forward quickly and accurately. And, our clients prefer knowing and dealing directly with the people doing their work.

CQ: What are the most significant challenges you face as a business owner in Berks? JB: Finding talented, reliable people willing to dedicate themselves to learning the craft. In addition, competing with off-shore dental labs located in China, India, Vietnam, and elsewhere. CQ: How do you give back to the community? JB: We are on the board of the National Foundation of Dentistry for the Handicapped—Donated Dental Services Program, and have been grateful participants since 2002. This Program provides dental services at no charge to those who are in need and cannot otherwise afford crucial dental care. CQ: What excites you most about the future of DeLux Dental? JB: We have a strong team of positive young people who embrace our company mission—“Improve Quality of Life Through Efficiency, Innovation, and Teamwork.” It is nice to see them partner with and help people the way they would like to be helped themselves.   41

the chamber chew

HOLIDAY Zach Brown, Berks County Eats Blog

The hustle and bustle of the holidays are upon us, but everyone needs a moment to relax and catch their breath. When you need a breather, Berks County has plenty of places serving up holiday “cheers!” So sit back, relax and enjoy a bottle of wine, a glass of beer or a shot of something a bit stronger to get back into the holiday spirit!



Consistently voted among the best pizza shops in Berks County, Paradise by the Slice also offers an incredible beer selection. Twenty-nine beers are on draft and each one of them is available to-go in Crowlers—32ounce cans that are sealed on-site.



Located on the grounds of the historic Ridgewood Estates, Ridgewood Winery serves some of the finest wines in Pennsylvania. Enjoy tastings every Thursday through Sunday. For the more creative types, book a private painting class where you and your friends can create your own masterpieces while sipping Ridgewood White, Peach Splendor or any of Ridgewood’s 14 flavors.


VIVA CASTLE PUB at Reading Country Club EXETER

When ViVA announced it was taking over dining operations at the Reading Country Club, there was no doubt that it would deliver an incredible dining experience. The new ViVA Castle Pub provides all of the signature dishes and drinks of its flagship Wyomissing location in the gorgeous setting of the Reading Country Club.

THE KNIGHT’S PUB at Stokesay Castle

READING Treat yourself to a royal night out at the Knight’s Pub at Stokesay Castle. The Pub offers excellent entrees and an incredible drink selection. Beer drinkers can’t miss the Stokesay Ale and Knight’s Pub Pale Ale on draft. Mixed drink fans must try the Pub’s signature drink: The Excalibur. It’s a combination of sweet tea vodka, peach liqueur and sour mix over a pineapple cherry ice stone.



Dans at Green Hills sets the standard for fine dining in Berks County. The expansive wine list ensures the perfect pairing for every meal, like a nice Sauvignon Blanc for the pan seared sea scallops or Chardonnay with the Pennsylvania chicken.



If you're looking to add some spirits to your holidays, a stop at the Distilled Whiskey Room is a must. More than 50 varieties of bourbon, rye and Scotch are ready to be paired with tapas like duck prosciutto and house made candied bacon. If you prefer wine over whiskey, the neighboring Winedown Cafe has 30 varieties from Berks County and around the world.



Berks County's largest selection of craft beers is waiting at Barley Mow. Fill up your growler with your choice of more than 750 varieties from more than 100 American craft breweries. If you're looking for the perfect food pairing, West Reading restaurants Nonno Alby's and La Abuela deliver directly to your seat.


The recently opened Folino Estate offers an experience like no other. After sampling vintages in the tasting room, sit down for a true Italian dinner in the winery's restaurant. And don't miss out on tempting dessert options like red wine dark chocolate cupcakes or a mug of wine hot chocolate.

The Chamber has pulled together a committee of food-lovers to develop an awareness campaign for all of the unique, authentic, multicultural restaurants in and around Greater Reading, with a focus on downtown. This taskforce of creative minds came up with the name #RDGeats: For the Food Adventurist. In our spare time we are having fun, sampling a wide array of cuisines in RDG. Our first trip was to Sofritos! If you are interested in helping us find unique restaurants and even better food, snap a photo of your meal and share on Instagram with the hashtag #RDGeats. We will select many of your food photos to repost—so make sure to follow @rdgeats on Instagram! We hope you will be part of the food journey. Oh, and be sure to share with your food-loving friends!


member news: new members SEPTEMBER – NOVEMBER 2015 AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION 968 Postal Rd. Allentown, PA 18109 614.396.3503  Non-profit Organizations Contact: Sara Dickey AMERIPRISE FINANCIAL – STEVEN BRANDT 1525 Sheldon Ct. Chester Springs, PA 19425 612.202.7527 Financial Services Contact: Steven Brandt AXIOM, INC. PO Box 41 Schuykill Haven, PA 17972 570.385.1944 Machine Shops Contact: Scott Simmons CASA OF BERKS COUNTY 701 S West St. Carlisle, PA 17013 610.301.8634  Non-profit Organizations Contact: Ashley Frank

CENTRAL TIRE & AUTO SERVICE 4427 Penn Ave. Sinking Spring, PA 19608 610.670.9999 Automobile Repairs & Service Contact: Mike Phelps

ID LIFE 548 Bertolet Mill Rd. Oley, PA 19547 610.657.6024 Health & Nutrition Contact: Chris Macdonald

COMBINED INSURANCE 1309 Dauphin Ave. Wyomissing, PA 19610 610.451.8936 Insurance Contact: Jane Weeber

LEADING PEOPLE, INC. 18 Carlie Ct. Fleetwood, PA 19522 610.507.9233 Consultants – Human Resources Contact: James Elliker

ELITE AQUARIUMS 2317 Cumberland Ave. Reading, PA 19606 610.741.9054 Aquarium Maintenance Services Contact: Carl Metzger

LORAH’S HANDMADE CHOCOLATES, LLC 611 Alleghenyille Rd. Mohnton, PA 19540 717.917.7006 Candy & Confectionery – Manufacturers Contact: Maria Harvey

HAND & STONE MASSAGE AND FACIAL SPA 1185 Berkshire Blvd. Wyomissing, PA 19610 610.373.1213 Spas – Beauty, Day & Health Contact: Joe Curran


METLIFE PREMIER CLIENT GROUP PO Box 6963 Wyomissing, PA 19610 610.301.3797 Financial Services Contact: Jeremiah Sensenig

PATRIOT ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT, LLC 21 Unionville Rd. Douglassville, PA 19518 610.323.4634 Environmental Services Contact: Lauren McCloskey PERITECH HOME HEALTHCARE PO Box 525 DuBois, PA 15801 814.375.7040 Home Health Care Services Contact: Michele Werner SIRIUS COMPUTER SOLUTIONS 5024 Vista Ct. Mohnton, PA 19540 484.345.8521 Computer Systems – Consultants & Designers Contact: Julie Quinter YOU NAME IT – PRINT ON DEMAND 615 N Peartown Rd. Reinholds, PA 17569 717.222.0307 Promotional Apparel & Accessories Contact: Nick Hemmerich

member news: anniversaries



15 YEARs

Dental Arts of Wyomissing  Dimitriou Geishauser P.C.  Dynamic Physical Therapy – Mt Penn  Forest Hills Memorial Park, Inc.  Inspired Leadership Now, LLC  LegalShield  Meridian Bank Mortgage Center  Naugle Associates, LLC  Print Management Solutions  Raymour & Flanigan Furniture  The Goble Group

5 YEARs Entrepreneurs’ Connection  Freedom Toyota  Holiday Inn Express & Suites  Liquid Interactive, LLC  RER Energy Group  Signs & More  Translogistics, Inc. 

Schmehl’s Lawn Service Vision Mechanical, Inc.

20 YEARs Security Service Company Sound Marketing Resources/ Hold Time Advantage-David Green & Associates, LLC  The Goddard School  Uhrig’s Professional Painting & Paperhanging  

25 YEARs Abilities In Motion County of Berks  Trace Pheasantry, Inc.  Yuasa Battery, Inc.  

30 YEARs Berks History Center Kohl Building Products

 

10 YEARs Borough of Sinking Spring Convergent Financial Strategies LLC  Environmental Strategy Consultants, Inc.  GoggleWorks Center for the Arts  Office Depot #2364  Omnitech Automation, Inc.  Pancerella & Associates, LLC  Richard Bayliss  


member news: newsmakers September 6 – November 30 Axcess Industries was recently approved for membership in BEMA, the Association for Bakery Equipment Manufacturers and Allied trades. BEMA was founded in 1918 as an international, not-for-profit trade association representing leading bakery and food suppliers. BEMA focuses specifically on furthering the professional, technological, educational, safety and sanitation practices within the bakery and food manufacturing industries. Tompkins Insurance Agencies, with four offices in southeast PA, has been ranked as the 82nd largest independent property/casualty agency by Insurance Journal. This is Tompkins Insurance Agencies premier appearance on Insurance Journal’s list. Community First Fund announced that it is the recipient of a $2 million grant award from the U.S. Treasury Department’s Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI

Fund). The CDFI Fund awards are intended to help spur job creation and economic growth in low income communities. Community First Fund is one of 195 CDFIs nationwide to receive awards totaling $202 million; and one of ten awardees in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Community First Fund, a regional, non-profit community lender based in Lancaster, also has offices in Reading, Harrisburg and York. Now in its 23rd year of operation, Community First has made more than 1300 loans totaling $80 million to businesses, housing developers, nonprofit organizations and commercial real estate projects in central and eastern Pennsylvania. The Standard Group simplifies the procurement of print and marketing logistics for enterprise customers. Now with ISO 9001:2008 certification by DEKRA, The Standard Group has reached a new production milestone of its HQ and Healthcare Production Center in Reading, Pennsylvania. After an extensive audit of its internal


operation, The Standard Group demonstrated the compliance of its quality management and production processes. ‘We are delighted to be ISO 9001:2008 certified,’ said Scott Reighard, COO of The Standard Group.

Schlouch Incorporated CFO, Richard King, was recently honored with Lehigh Valley Business’ CFO of the Year in the category of private company with more than $25 million in revenue. Robert Patrizio, Jr., County of Berks, was nominated CFO of the year for a large non-profit—75 or more employees.

Berkshire Systems Group Inc. (BSGI) was recently approved for membership in FSSA, the Fire Suppression Systems Association. FSSA is dedicated to promoting use of, and being the recognized leader on, special hazard fire protection systems; employing existing and new technologies to safeguard people, high-value assets and the environment. Founded in 1982, with clients ranging from small business to public and government entities to Fortune 500 companies, BSGI’s services include Fire Alarm & Mass Notification, CCTV/Access/Security, Clean Agent and Industrial Fire Suppression, Fire Sprinklers, and Building Video/Sound & Communications. For the 18th consecutive year, The Rigg Darlington Group received Cincinnati Insurance Company’s top honor, the 2015 President’s Club award, for excelling in customer retention, profitability, and at the same time, being one of the premier sales leaders in business insurance, personal auto, homeowners, life

and related financial products. With offices in Exton & Wyomissing, Pennsylvania, The Rigg Darlington Group has been in operation for over 100 years. Liberty Environmental, Inc., a fullservice environmental engineering and consulting firm, is pleased to announce the acquisition of Hafer Environmental Services, Inc., an environmental consulting firm located in Reading, PA. ‘This acquisition fuels continued growth of our site assessment and remediation practice areas. We are thrilled to add the experienced staff from Hafer Environmental Services and build upon our client base in the region,’ shared by James P. Cinelli, P.E., BCEE, and President of Liberty. Comcast has announced it has now launched more than 225 Xfinity WiFi outdoor hotspots throughout Berks County, including more than 100 in and around Reading. This is part of the ongoing expansion of a WiFi network in Comcast’s Keystone Region that now includes more than 2,950 hotspots providing free access points that keep Comcast customers connected on the go. These outdoor hotspots have been located near shopping and dining destinations, auto repair businesses, hair salons, parks, schools and other venues throughout Berks County where customers go on a regular basis.

Benchmark Construction Company, Inc. of Brownstown, PA broke ground recently on the construction of the new Memory Care Residence at Cross Keys Village in New Oxford, PA. This new 31,241 square foot memory care residence facility will provide accommodations for 32 residents who are in early and middle stages of memory loss. This ‘small house’ model is designed as two separate households consisting of 16 residents with spaces allocated for living, dining, cooking and a garden.

Levan Machine & Truck Equipment is proud to announce they have been ranked #18 on the list of Lehigh Valley Business’ 2015 Fastest Growing Companies. They have also been selected as a finalist for Lehigh Valley Business of the Year. The Lehigh Valley Business Fastest Growing Companies awards program celebrates the Lehigh Valley’s most dynamic companies who progressively contribute to the success of the region’s economic growth and stability. The Business of the Year awards program celebrates the region’s most dynamic businesses and business leaders who share a commitment to professional excellence, business growth and the community.

Fox Theatres has announced that FTX (Fox Theatres Extreme), its new large format screen experience at Fox Berkshire, will be open as of November 5. Weidenhammer, a leading provider of IT solutions, announced it’s entering into a Value-added Reseller partner agreement with PanTerra Networks, the leading provider of unified cloud services for mid-market enterprises. The relationship will broaden the distribution network of WorldSmart services throughout the Northeast regions of the United States through Weidenhammer’s extensive network.. The Wyomissing office of Reinsel Kuntz Lesher LLP raised more than $73,000 for the United Way of Berks County—surpassing last year’s campaign total by nearly 20 percent. Here, United Way Major Gifts and Planned Giving Manager Angie Finney poses with RKL United Way Committee members Ellen Azrael and Amy Strouse and Office Managing Partner Steve Fisher at a gathering to celebrate the 2015 campaign’s success.

The Rhoads Energy Family of Companies won Central Pennsylvania’s Business of the Year at a black-tie gala on November 2. Rhoads was honored in the category for businesses with 51-100 employees. Rhoads Energy and its affiliates are leading providers of energy services related to heating oil, natural gas, propane, HVAC, fleet fueling and more. A panel of judges determined the winners based on review of several criteria, including leadership, innovation, community involvement, employee engagement and growth.

Hollenbach Construction, Inc. received an Award of Excellence in the Commercial Office Category for its construction of the Gateway Ticketing Systems Global Headquarters building in Gilbertsville. The Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) Eastern Pennsylvania Chapter presented the award to Hollenbach at the 25th Merit Construction Awards of Excellence program on November 5 in Norristown. The awards program recognizes outstanding projects throughout eastern Pennsylvania built by ABC contractors.


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!

Tim Daley and Habitat for Humanity of Berks is building homes, communities, and hope!

Michael’s Classic Limo is in the business of helping you arrive in style—hear more from Chris Haines.

Family-owned Elevation Burger takes the business of burger-splurging to a whole new healthy level!

Coming to a newsstand near you—Tracy Hoffmann of Hoffmann Publishing talks business in Berks.

A round of “a-paws” to Berks County ARL for all of their hard work to provide shelter, care, and second chances for unwanted and abused animals.

Danny Laws, DaBrian Marketing Group, provides cutting edge digital marketing solutions with the data to back it up!

Focused on the employee benefits industry, QubComm is helping employers communicate in plain language to be most effective!

How does a hobby turn into a full blown business? Listen to William and Tracy Smith talk about Ridgewood Winery in this edition of Member Spotlight.

With a motto of one call handles it all, Haller Enterprises handles heating, cooling, plumbing, electrical and more!

Celebrating 40 years in business, Keystone Tees is a proud second-generation family biz in Berks!

Axcess Industries provides employees more than 40 training programs to ensure all jobs get done safely!

It’s a Gift—special items for every reason, and especially ‘tis the season!


upcoming events JAN 6

Business at Breakfast: Introducing the new DoubleTree Hilton Reading

JAN 20

DoubleTree by Hilton Reading 701 Penn St. Reading, PA 19602

Please note: Effective

01/2016, Business at Breakfast pricing will increase from $12 to $14, payable at the door.

Alvernia University Student Center Private Dining Room 400 St Bernardine St. Reading, PA 19607 8:00 am –11:00 am

JAN 13

4:30 pm –6:30 pm

JAN 27

FEB 17

FEB 18


FEB 19


FEB 24

DEP Secretary John Quigley — Business & Community Advocacy Series

Big Focus on Small Business: Sales/Customer Service

Taste of the Chamber 2016 Reading Regional Airport 2501 Bernville Rd. Reading, PA 19605 5:00 pm –8:00 pm


Path2Personal Development: Entrepreneurship With a Focus on Fashion Alvernia University

Francis Hall Theatre

400 St Bernardine St. Reading, PA 1960 4:30 pm –6:30 pm


MAR 15

Chamber Trip — Discover Thailand & Hong Kong in 2016 Young Leadership Conference Penn State Berks Campus 2080 Tulpehocken Rd. Reading, PA 19610

Growth2Go: Building Trust in the Workplace The Highlands at Wyomissing 2000 Cambridge Ave. Wyomissing, PA 19610 11:30 am –1:00 pm

MAR 16

Power Networking Lunch The Heritage of Green Hills 200 Tranquility Ln. Reading, PA 19607 11:30 am –1:00 pm

MAR 18

Berks FBA Educating the Family Workshop: Creating Law and Order in a Family Business Chamber’s Center for Business Excellence 49 Commerce Dr. Wyomissing, PA 19610 8:00 am –10:00 am

8:00 am –9:00 am

FEB 24

Reading Country Club 5311 Perkiomen Ave. Reading, PA 19606

8:00 am –2:00 pm

Baker Tilly 2609 Keiser Blvd. Wyomissing, PA 19610

Berks Fire Water Restoration 1145 Commons Blvd. Reading, PA 19605 Parking Available behind 5:00 pm –7:00 pm

MAR 11

11:30 am –1:00 pm

Networking at Night: Berks Fire Water

Redner’s Mini Market.


Crowne Plaza Reading 1741 Papermill Rd. Reading, PA 19610

Business at Breakfast: Changing Needs of Berks County Youth

7:45 am –9:00 am

Berks FBA Educating the Family Workshop: Developing Your Business Transition Game Plan

Business at Breakfast

7:45 am –9:00 am

8:00 am –10:00 am

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

The Highlands at Wyomissing 2000 Cambridge Ave. Wyomissing, PA 19610

The Highlands at Wyomissing 2000 Cambridge Ave. Wyomissing, PA 19610

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

Berks FBA Educating the Family Workshop: Is Equal the Same as Fair?

8:00 am –10:00 am

Power Networking Lunch

11:30 am –1:00 pm

The Chamber’s Center for Business Excellence 49 Commerce Dr. Wyomissing, PA 19610

Growth2Go: Gender Differences in the Workplace

11:30 am –1:00 pm

Baker Tilly 2609 Keiser Blvd. Wyomissing, PA 19610


8:00 am –10:00 am

Big Focus on Small Business: Social Media Part 2

8:00 am –9:00 am

Path2Personal Development: Crafting Powerful Business Stories Chamber’s Center for Business Excellence 49 Commerce Dr. Wyomissing, PA 19610

JAN 19

JAN 27

Women2Know: Senator Judy Schwank — PA Senate District 11 Crowne Plaza Reading 1741 Papermill Rd. Reading, PA 19610

11:30 am –1:00 pm Please note: Effective 01/2016, Power Networking pricing will increase from $15 to $17, payable at the door.

7:45 am –9:00 am

Berks FBA Lecture Series with Alvernia University: The One Page Strategic Plan

DoubleTree by Hilton Reading 701 Penn St. Reading, PA 19602

FEB 16

Parking available in connected garage: tickets will be validated.

Parking available in connected garage: tickets will be validated.


Power Networking Lunch

MAR 23

Big Focus on Small Business: Sales/Customer Service Part 2 Baker Tilly 2609 Keiser Blvd. Wyomissing, PA 19610 8:00 am –9:00 am

Commerce Quarterly Winter 2016