Architectural Polymers

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Architectural Polymers: in this issue The Risk of Diversification Leads To Business Growth

Feature Story 1 & 4

By Sara Hodon

Chairman’s Message 2

- Architectural Polymers - Dawn Ferrante

Marshall Walters

Starting a business carries a certain amount of risk, but Marshall Walters, General Manager of Architectural Polymers in Palmerton, says that one of the biggest risks a business owner can take is not diversifying. Architectural Polymers (AP) is a manufacturer of molds for the concrete industry. They work directly with manufacturers in the precast concrete industry, tilt-up concrete contractors, and heavy highway contractors, with architects and commercial real estate developers as secondary markets. Walters started AP in 1992 with childhood friend Rick Fasching. Both partners were working at Slaw Precast in Parryville at the time, which Walters says provided an excellent training ground for his future business endeavors. “We were fascinated by some of the projects coming out of the plant that had been utilizing decorative forms for sound wall projects in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and New Jersey,” Walters says. Their passion for the industry continued to grow, and when an opportunity to expand their horizons professionally presented itself, the partners submitted a bid for a custom form liner to be used as part of a reconstruction project of the Lake Roland Water Reservoir Dam in Baltimore, virtually on a whim. The Dam, built during the Civil War, had been the city’s main supply of drinking water until 1915, but still holds tremendous historical significance to the city. The partners’ bid was accepted— now all they had to do was start an actual business. The first incarnation of AP started in the basement of Walters’ parents’ house. “Considering AP had no office or production facility, we proceeded to sign a material supply contract that would motivate us to innovate the way we do to this very day,” he says. “The risk-taking element is still very appealing as well.” Once the company secured more business, they moved to a single bay in an auto repair garage in Ashfield. The company moved to a 5000 sq. ft. property in New Ringgold, Schuylkill County, for 7 years, then relocated to their current facility, a 20,000 sq. ft. facility on Little Gap Road in Palmerton, where they currently have a 32-employee workforce. As a new business owner, Marshall says he relied on the assistance of the Carbon County Economic Development Corporation (CCEDC) who referred him to startupStory continued on page 4

Thank You to CarbonLink Sponsor:

Dates You Should Know 2 New Member Listing 2 Events Recap 3 Membership 4 - Member Benefit: Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony: Summit Hill Heritage Center

Useful Tidbits 5 - Did You Know? Natural Gas Offers Savings in PA - Just the Facts

Chamber Leadership 6

editorial contributors Dawn Ferrante Sara Hodon Heather McClure Dina Tulli Davis PA State Rep., Doyle Heffley

design, layout, editing: JumpSpark Creative Group

printing & distribution : TN Printing

contact Carbon County Chamber Of Commerce 110 North Third Street, Ste. 216 Lehighton, PA 18235-1567 phone | 610.379.5000 fax | 610.379.0130 [email protected]

From the Desk of Dawn Ferrante

dates you should know

Chairman’s Message

Mark Your Calendars! Bring On 2013!

Visit for event details & registration info.

It might be a new year, but for the Chamber, it’s really going to be a continuation of what we started in the second half of 2012. I wanted to re-iterate some of the things we are working toward in 2013 and also let you know how you, as a Chamber member, benefit.

 Thursday, March 21st

5:30 - 7:30 pm “Business After Hours” Event Hosted By: Home Solutions Partners, Inc. Palmerton

Board of Directors Meetings:  Wednesday, February 13th

5:30 pm, Chamber Office  Wednesday, March 13th

5:30 pm, Chamber Office

welcome new members Please Join Us in Welcoming Our New Members...

Coordinated Health Eckley Miners’ Village Associates Sinopa Shibas Canine Massage and Dog Training Switchback Pizza Co. Thrivent Financial For Lutherans Learn more about our Chamber Members by visiting their business profiles at:


 We are continuing to see consolidation and merging of organizations, both on the Chamber side and also with economic development. The goal is to do more with the limited resources we have by pooling and focusing them. We believe we can add more value to you and help you grow if we are working efficiently as well. It’s the right thing to do from a business perspective and shows that the Chamber is setting the example for strong business practices.  We are also working on the economic development side to certify our organization to participate in state lending programs. This could be a major value add for local businesses looking to expand operations or purchase equipment. We expect the process to be complete by the summer so check the website for updates.  We decided to not have any networking events during the winter months as we are continuing our strong dedication to making every single one of them a huge success. The winter months are tough because of potential weather events that keep people from showing up, so our next event will be at the end of March when hopefully things will be thawing out and getting warmer!  We are also dedicated to continuing our partnering with other Chambers of Commerce to provide joint events for members. This includes the Lehigh Valley, Hazleton, Tamaqua, White Haven, Northampton, and the Poconos. If you have any suggestions on others with whom we should be partnering, by all means send Heather, Marlyn or me an email.  Lastly, we extended our agreement with the Lehigh Valley in their lending us Marlyn Kissner for one day a week. Marlyn continues to add great support and ideas to the team as we continue to make our services more professional and valuable for you. Again, thank you for your continued support of our efforts and for being a valued member of our Chamber. We keep you and your business in mind in everything we do as your success is by what we measure ours. All the best in 2013!


Dawn Ferrante

were you there?

Highlights from Winter Wonderland Annual Dinner: DECEMBER 6, 2012


Mahoning Valley Country Club

Photos & video courtesy of Dave Figenshu, Full Moon Video.

The Carbon County Chamber of Commerce (CCCC) and The Carbon County Economic Development Corporation (CCEDC) held a very successful “Winter Wonderland” Annual Dinner & Holiday Celebration on Thursday, December 6, 2012 at the Mahoning Valley Country Club in Lehighton. Members of both organizations and their guests enjoyed a festive evening of dining and holiday socializing. The evening also featured a brief overview of the CCCC and CCEDC’s 2012 accomplishments, an awards presentation honoring exceptional individuals and businesses in our community and was later followed by a comedic performance by Ross Bennett. As for the honorees, Dawn Ferrante, Executive Director of the CCEDC and Chairperson of the CCCC as well as the evening’s Master of Ceremonies, acknowledged the hard work, dedication and time spent on laying the foundation for a new and better Chamber of Past Chairman, David C. Althouse, and Past Vice Chairman, Jack Sturm. Both David and Jack were presented with awards for their outstanding service. Dawn Ferrante also presented Jack Sturm with The William H. Bayer Lifetime Achievement Award, which was first awarded posthumously to William H. Bayer, Esquire last year. Jack could not attend this year’s event, so his wife, Elaine, accepted on his behalf. However, Jack expressed his gratitude during a short video presentation where he also spoke about the importance of volunteering and getting involved. Additional awards were presented by Patricia Handwerk, CCCC Vice Chairperson and proprietor of the Harry Packer Mansion. The first, The 2012 CCCC Volunteer of the Year Award, was given to Frank R. Potoczak, philanthropist and owner of the Castle Grill, Secure Technologies and LifetimeLEDLighting. Frank chairs the CCCC Events Committee and is the Secretary of the CCCC Board. He is also involved in various other community betterment projects, including the Lehighton Farmers Market. The second award was the 2012 CCCC Business of the Year Award, which was presented to Blue Mountain Health System and was accepted by Andrew Harris, CEO and President. Blue Mountain Health System was recognized for integrating Gnaden Huetten Memorial and Palmerton Hospitals into one efficient health care system and as a result is one of the largest employers and supporters of the Carbon County area. Acknowledgements were also given to members of the CCEDC Board of Directors and to the members of the CCCC Board of Directors. PA State Representative, Doyle Heffley, and County Commissioners, Wayne Nothstein and Tom Gerhard, were all recognized and commended on their dedication and involvement with the county and its organizations. Marlyn Kissner, CCCC Board Member at Large and Executive Vice President of the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber, also spoke of the CCCC’s new committees and acknowledged and thanked each of the volunteer chairs with an award certificate. The 2012 Winter Wonderland Annual Dinner & Holiday Celebration was an evening to remember and proof that “Strength in Numbers” result in positive outcomes. The CCCC and CCEDC would like to congratulate all award recipients and thank everyone, especially the various sponsors, including Platinum Sponsors: Blue Mountain Health System, First Northern Bank and PPL, and those who had donated silent auction items, for making the event and its success possible.


Member Benefits: Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony


Summit Hill Heritage Center Celebrates New Handicapped Accessible Ramp On Sunday afternoon, January 6, 2013, The Summit Hill Heritage Center, Panther Valley’s premier entertainment complex, L to R: Bobby O’Gurek, Dawn Ferrante (CCCC), celebrated the official opening of their handicapped access ramp Commissioner Thomas Gerhard, Martha Rex with a ribbon cutting ceremony and a Members (CCCC), Mayor Paul McCardle, Elvis (Johnny M.) Appreciation Birthday Bash for Elvis. In attendance at the and Dave Wargo. ceremony were Dave Wargo, Summit Hill Heritage Center Vice-President , Bobby O’Gurek of Bobby O’Gurek Web Design, Dawn Ferrante, Executive Director of CCEDC and CCCC Chairperson, Commissioner Thomas J. Gerhard, Martha Rex, CCCC Board of Directors, Summit Hill Mayor Paul McArdle and “Elvis” (Johnny M.). The new handicapped access ramp makes the Center truly accessible to everyone thanks to the generosity of the Board of Directors and Megan Kennedy of the 1st Federal Charitable Foundation. The Heritage Center appreciates those that provided help, letters of support and/or additional funds for this endeavor: Bobby O’Gurek’s Web Design, Summit Hill Recreation Commission, Summit Hill Community Improvement Organization, Lansford Summit Hill Community Partnership and the NEPA-Alliance. A special thanks also had been extended to Josh Steigerwalt, contractor, who was very instrumental in making this dream a reality by building the structure and donating the cost of the structural blue prints. Dawn Ferrante and Martha Rex of The Carbon County Chamber of Commerce and Carbon County Commissioner Thomas J. Gerhard were delighted to have participated in this very special event, congratulate Summit Hill Heritage Center on their accomplishment and wish the Center continued success. The Summit Hill Heritage Center has been open since October 2010 and offers various forms of entertainment as well as numerous educational and social activities. It is also home to the Summit Hill Food Pantry and Church on the Rock and has something for everyone as now everyone can enjoy any or all of the activities held there. For more information on the Summit Hill Heritage Center, visit

Cover story continued... friendly organizations like the Small Business Development Center in Wilkes-Barre who helped him create a business plan and the Rauch Center at Lehigh University, whose courses and workshops on management concepts and day-to-day business operations were invaluable resources. “After a decade, CCEDC and NEPA Alliance took on a more central role to AP as the expansion grew to a dedicated facility,” Walters says. Walters is much more knowledgeable about the demands of running a business, but says that the “Try it, and we’ll figure it out as we go along” mindset he and Fasching had when they first started is still very much alive today. This approach to product development has helped to create an atmosphere of experimentation and innovation that has served the company well, particularly in the last few years. In 2008, the company branched out and started producing more tilt-up concrete products for the many road projects that were being funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). Walters says that those projects kept AP solvent during the economic downturn and that companies need to expand their markets if they expect to keep their doors open. “You always have to be forward thinking,” he says. “It’s important to diversify and have good people behind you. The downturn was bad, but it forced us to go back to thinking on our feet.” AP has worked for clients all over the world on projects as diverse as the Flight 93 Memorial in Shanksville, PA and Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia to the Tappan Zee Bridge in New York City and the Atlantis Waterpark in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Walters was born and raised in Carbon County and says he could have moved the company anywhere, has stayed in the area for a number of important reasons. “It is an optimal location, as it is accessible to Interstates 80 and 81 and the Pennsylvania Turnpike. The area still offers a good workforce—many people leave, but I think more find it attractive to work near home,” he says, adding that there are many resources available to folks looking to start their own businesses. “I’d like to see the entrepreneurial spirit alive again in Carbon County. We have a helpful and willing economic development program, KOZ [Keystone Opportunity Zone] tax incentives, good infrastructure, and a large employee base,” he says.


did you know?  Natural Gas Offers Cost Savings in Pennsylvania

useful tidbits

By Doyle Heffley, State Representative of the 122nd Legislative District As unconventional gas development continues across Pennsylvania, Act 13 of 2012 has given the state Department of Environmental Protection additional tools to help the state’s ongoing effort toward energy independence.

Act 13, through the impact fee, creates a new three-year Natural Gas Energy Development Program, to be administered by the Department of Environmental Protection. Over the next three years, this competitive program will make $20 million in grant funds available in Carbon County and across the entire state to purchase or convert eligible vehicles to natural gas. The department also offered a series of regional seminars across the state on Pennsylvania’s Natural Gas Energy Development Program. Attendees were provided information on natural gas vehicle grants, vehicle technology, fueling technology and strategies, and ways to best assess this opportunity to convert their fleet to compressed or liquefied natural gas. Although there is no drilling taking place in Carbon County, we still rest in the Marcellus Shale region. I support these natural gas grants and information sessions because it’s important that we are informed and have a system in place. As oil heating prices reach record highs, natural gas offers cost advantages, making it an attractive fuel source that could help revitalize our local and state economies. For more information regarding these natural gas programs, visit my website at

just the facts!  Be c ome

a n E X P O S p o n s o r, E x h i b i to r o r Ad v e r ti s e r. . . Secure Your Spot TODAY at the 2013 Home, Garden & Business Expo (An Expodition Through Carbon County). Hurry, our 2013 EXPO is a few months away...Saturday, April 27th from 11am - 8pm and on Sunday, April 28th from 11am - 4pm at Blue Mountain Ski Area & Resort. Our new location will enable our exhibitors, sponsors & advertisers to expand their reach to more, new customers in Carbon County and surrounding areas, such as the Lehigh Valley. Plus, the new "Expodition" theme has created two new advertising programs: The Passport Program and the Passport Savings Coupon Program that will prove to be very beneficial for both exhibitors and attendees. For complete details, download the flyer at:

 MetroAction’s “How to Develop an Effective Marketing Strategy” Program Thursday, March 7 & 14, 2013 in Scranton | This 2-day program will show you how small changes can lead to big results and how to make the most of a limited marketing budget. $75 for Chamber Members & $99 for Non-Chamber Members. To register, call 570-342-7711or e-mail: [email protected] or visit for details.

 Take advantage of affordable advertising that will reach all Carbon County Chamber Members... Advertise in CarbonLink or in our weekly Carbon eLink Publication. Business Spotlights are also available. Call Heather McClure at 610-379-5000 for complete details.


Chamber Leadership Executive Board

Board of Directors

Chairperson: Dawn Ferrante Vice Chairperson: Patricia Handwerk Treasurer: Ralph Cortazzo Secretary: Frank Potoczak

David Althouse Jack Sturm Heather McClure William Billowitch Bart Springer

Peter Kern Mark Sverchek Richard Moore Martha Rex Marlyn Kissner

Committee Leaders

Volunteer Committee Chair:

Sponsorship Committee Chair:

Melissa Binder, National Penn Bank [email protected]

Mike Harleman, First Northern Bank, Palmerton [email protected]

Tourism Committee Chair:

Elissa Garofalo Dave Figenshu Jake Arner Joe Federanich Ray Brader

Membership Committee Chair:

Chuck Dickinson, Split Rock Resorts [email protected]

Akantha Susko, True North Advertising & Marketing, Jim Thorpe | [email protected]

Accommodtions Subcommittee Chair:

Publicity, Website and Marketing Committee Chair: Patricia Handwerk The Harry Packer Mansion, Jim Thorpe 570.325.8566 | [email protected]

Eileen East, Home Hill Forge Bed & Breakfast, Jim Thorpe [email protected]

Events Committee Chair: Frank Potoczak, Castle Grill, Lehighton [email protected]

Education Committee Chair: Maureen Donovan, Lehigh Carbon Community College 610.799.1245 | [email protected]

Enjoy Our Next Issue of CarbonLink in April.

110 North Third Street, Suite 216 Lehighton, PA 18235-1567