UBCC Member Spotlight – Sisters U

In a constantly changing world where relationships rooted in common goals and values are often overlooked or undervalued, Sisters U is a place to find refreshment and share abundance. Sisters U, a nonprofit organization based in Perkasie, helps women make important connections with one another, while providing opportunities for personal and professional growth.

Beyond monthly meetings, Sisters U brings its voice charitable work, the upcoming launch of a new magazine, and bringing summer camp opportunities to youngsters. Personal and professional empowerment, care and support are the cornerstones of Sisters U programs, according to founder and CEO Karen Chellew. Chellew formed Sisters U to meet an ongoing community need. “I feel like we get lost in social media and in our own lives. At Sisters U, no one carries the burden,” Chellew said. The result is “a place for women to come together, Sisters U provides an anchor of support and it’s about creating relationships,” Chellew explained.

Dovetailing with the mission of the Upper Bucks Chamber of Commerce, which meets a need for professionals to network, find and support one another, grow their businesses, and provides education, workshops and an outlet for volunteering, Sisters U is aimed at women and their particular needs.

At Sisters U meetings, local speakers talk about resume and relationship building. Professional and personal experiences are shared. Community needs are identified, along with plans to meet them. Growth and nurturing are the order of the day, Chellew said. Sisters U regular meetings are typically held in Stella’s House Blend Café, 200 North Main St., Sellersville. Meetings cost $10 to attend, and annual memberships are available.

Programs offered through the Upper Bucks Chamber of Commerce may be found on the website, or the weekly membership email blast.

New this summer, Sisters U initiatives will benefit youngsters through a series of weekly camps offered in conjunction with Bucks County Community College Upper Bucks Campus, located at 1 Hillendale Rd., Perkasie. “Kids on Campus” will offer art, music, theater and science programs, Chellew said. Camp runs July 21 through Aug. 21, and cost is $259 per week, Chellew said. Business and private donor sponsorships to help a youngster attend camp are welcome.

For information about Sisters U programs, or to find out how to sponsor a young camper this summer visit www.sistersu.com.

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McCoole’s New Shuttle Service Provides Customers and Hoteliers Peace of Mind

McCoole’s now offers patrons a “designated driver” free of charge, in the form of a complimentary shuttle bus service.

Creative problem solving prompted Quakertown Entrepreneur Jan Hench, owner/operator of  McCoole’s at the Historic Red Lion Inn bar and restaurant, and McCoole’s Arts & Events Place, to begin offering the service in March.

The shuttle has proved a boon to business travelers and a way for customers to enjoy her restaurant and bar offerings without the hassle of how they’d safely get home.

McCoole’s at the Historic Red Lion Inn bar and restaurant, located at 4 South Main Street, and McCoole’s Arts & Events Place, adjacent to the restaurant and located at 10 South Main Street.

McCoole’s restaurant is located inside an historic, more than 200-year-old building, which anchors the crossroads into downtown Quakertown at Main and Route 313 (Broad) streets.

Hench credits the idea for a complimentary shuttle service to a business owner in South Florida. “Last November while I was in Florida I (discovered) a man offering these services,” Hench said.

Hench was quick to bring the idea back home.

The artfully designed and hand-painted 15-passenger shuttle bus is impossible to mistake and brings a smile with its brightly colored, whimsical imagery.

It’s available to patrons of McCoole’s locations simply for the asking.

“Patrons call the restaurant and make arrangements to be picked up,” Hench said. The shuttle offers round-trip service.

Locally, corporate and business travelers staying at hotels along Route 663 in Milford Township have embraced the service, according to Aziz Chakouk, general manger for Holiday Inn Express.

Chakouk said the service is popular with his hotel’s business patrons during weekday stays, from Monday to Thursday. “We typically arrange for the shuttle service at the front desk and our business travelers love it,” Chakouk said.

Chakouk said his patrons have been using the service since it began in late March.

“It’s safer for them to enjoy alcohol and a (few drinks), and then return to the hotel without any hassles,” Chakouk said.

Additionally, business travel patrons are set free from the restrictions of company car use often imposed on them when they travel, according to Chakouk. “A lot of times company cars may only be used for business (transport)” and nothing else during the employee’s time away, Chakouk said.

Hench said Best Western Motor Inn patrons in Quakertown have also used the service.

The shuttle is available for any transportation needs for either McCoole’s location, Hench said.

“We have Wednesday night wine tastings and game nights,” Hench said.

In the works for future offerings at McCoole’s are wine and dinner pairings and open night mic evenings with local musicians, Hench said.

The shuttle could become the “designated driver” for any group outing at McCoole’s, too.

How the McCoole’s shuttle service works:
Patron(s) heading to either McCoole’s locations for any reason may request shuttle service.

The patron, or hotel front desk staff, calls the restaurant to arrange for a pick up.

Patrons provide their name, address and requested pick up time.

For more information call McCoole’s at (215) 538-1776 or visit the website at http://www.mccoolesredlioninn.com

Leadership: What Really Matters

Leadership: What Really Matters

By Ken Byler, Managing Partner, Higher Ground Consulting Group, LLC

Most businesses and not-for-profit organizations that I know care about leadership.  Yet many of those same enterprises fail to invest in the behaviors that matter most to be an effective leader.  According to a McKinsey research study there are four subsets of leadership skills that correlate with leadership success, especially frontline leaders.

  1. Solving problems effectively. Anyone who has ever made an important decision knows that problem solving skills are critical, but too many times leaders fail to get this process right.
  2. A results orientation. Leaders need to know how to create and communicate a compelling vision but also how to effectively create a plan and execute it.
  3. Seeking different perspectives. It’s easy for leaders to allow their own biases to impact decisions. That’s why encouraging the people they manage to contribute ideas is so important.
  4. Supporting others. Leaders who are supportive sense how people are feeling, are authentic, build trust, and inspire others. They intervene at the right times and know how to allay fears and prevent internal conflict.

Where do leaders gain these valuable skills?  Since 2011 the Leadership Upper Bucks (LUB) program has provided a diverse group of leaders from the Upper Bucks region the opportunity to explore these ideas and learn how to master them.  The curriculum introduces participants to their preferred leadership approach, management style, and how they work on teams; teaches listening skills; provides access to community and non-profit leaders; and includes a company project component so what is learned in class can be applied in the workplace.

The program’s half-day format (classes meet during the afternoon on the third Thursday of each month from September through May) is easy to navigate and the tuition of $895 ($995 for non-chamber members) is very affordable.  Classes are highly-interactive and professionally facilitated to maximize learning opportunities.

If the core skills outlined earlier are important to your organization then consider sending one of your new or seasoned leaders to the Leadership Upper Bucks (LUB) Class of 2016.  For more information log on to http://www.ubcc.org/chamber_information/leadership_upper_bucks.aspx or call the Chamber Office at 215.536.3211.

UBCC Member Spotlight – The Penny Power

This month, we shine the member spotlight on area innovator, Cecile Brogan, founder and publisher of weekly newspaper Penny Power.

When Cecile Brogan couldn’t find the best deal in town, she decided to create it. From lost pets to goods and services, community functions and homes for sale, since the first issue of Penny Power rolled off the presses on March 11, 1981, Brogan, who is Penny Power founder and publisher, has held customer service and affordable advertising as her primary business goals. Brogan, an Upper Bucks Chamber of Commerce member, began Penny Power with 36 advertisers assembled on 12-pages. That first issue reached 19,780 addresses. Today, roughly 132 advertisers have their message delivered weekly to 72,609 mailing addresses from Penny Power’s headquarters located at 202 South 3rd St., Coopersburg, Lehigh County.

“I considered everyone in that first edition to be a close personal and professional friend,” Brogan said. The same philosophy and affection toward regular advertisers continues today, Brogan said. What began more than three decades ago as a 7-member team has swelled to 30 employees.

Brogan said her biggest challenge – then as now- remains being a woman professional in publishing, an industry traditionally dominated by men. According to an annual survey published online in September 2014, by Publishers Weekly, the yearly pay gap between men and women in publishing for 2013 was roughly $25,000. The report went on to note that far fewer women than men make it to the top tier of publishing jobs. See the full report http://publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/publisher-news/article/64083-publishing-s-holding-pattern-2013-salary-survey.html.

“Saturation, service and sincerity” are hallmarks of Brogan’s guiding business philosophy; along with maintaining Penny Power’s reputation for upholding those values. Advertiser diversity is evident while paging through a recent edition of Penny Power. From church directories and Easter services listings, to a full page of food and produce advertisements for vendors located at the Quakertown Farmers and Flea Market, to Penny Power’s Easter Ham giveaway winners, the weekly publication is a convenient way for readers to shop local. The popular “thumbs up” and “thumbs down” notes, scattered throughout the publication, catch people both being good to one another, and sometimes not so good. Brogan said she has always had a soft spot for those less fortunate and “worries” about the underdog, part of her reason for founding Penny Power. “I did this because I worry about people who aren’t getting a fair shake in advertising and I believe there is a better way for people to advertise,” Brogan explained.

Penny Power is free to recipients and delivered through the U.S. postal service. “Years ago in town (Quakertown) we would hang the paper in plastic bags on front door knobs, and rural delivery was through the mail. Today everyone gets a (weekly) copy delivered through the mail,” Brogan explained.

Enthusiastic about chamber membership, Brogan said local chambers are important resources for business owners and should not be overlooked, even when budgets are tight. “I think chambers of commerce are vital to the local business community, and that business members should join their local chamber,” Brogan said.

Quakertown Community School District

This month, we shine the member spotlight on one of Upper Bucks three public school leaders: Dr. William (Bill) Harner of Quakertown Community School District.

As one of the largest employers in Quakertown Borough, Quakertown Community School District (QCSD) leadership is taking an active role in building partnerships with the business community.

Quakertown Superintendent Dr. William (Bill) Harner said clear communication, value added partnerships and community support are among the most telling qualities of successful communities. “There are three-legs to the stool: business, the school district and families,” Harner said.

Covering roughly 72-square miles and with roughly 5,600 students, QCSD educates youngsters in Grades Kindergarten through 12, preparing them post graduation for college or the workforce.

For Harner, communication takes many forms. Harner represents the district by participating in UBCC events like networking mixers and monthly breakfast meetings, as well as actively engaging with business owners. He is active on social media and Twitter and believes in supporting extracurricular activities by attending them.

“You have the ability to support the local economy,” Harner said.  Evolving business partnerships with St. Luke’s Hospital – Quakertown Campus and new alliances with business leaders, are forged with the aim of providing hands-on experience and mentoring to students.

New at the high school is a medical careers program hosted through St. Luke’s Hospital – Quakertown Campus. This program provides access to day-to-day operations in a health care setting, where students learn about careers first hand during the academic day.

Engineering and land planning firms can connect with “Project Lead the Way” students, too, to engage with the next generation of career leaders in science, technology, engineering and math, known as STEM. “Project Lead the Way is a national non-profit organization, which develops curriculum for STEM careers, the organization’s website said.

Harner said these and other business connections are made easier by being active in chamber membership.

“We are all counting on each other to do our part and be the best we can be,” Harner said.

When Harner arrived in January, 2014, one of his top priorities was to scope out the lay of the land. He drove the district’s country roads and borough’s downtowns across all six municipalities, to discover the geography and complexities of the region he’d be serving. QCSD serves families in Quakertown, Richlandtown and Trumbauersville boroughs; and Haycock, Milford and Richland townships.

Harner said business owner Warren Levy, of Levy Bus Co., invited him to his first UBCC event.

He’s returning the favor, by offering business leaders tours of the roughly $70 million Quakertown High School renovation – set to complete in 2017, as well as the chance to advertise at the newly refurbished Alumni Field.

“We host a lot of ball games at the (school) fields, but it needs to be symbiotic to really work. Downtown restaurants are convenient and they’re close-by,” Harner said of eateries, residents and visitors could walk to and patronize before or after games.

“There’s a lot, right in our own backyard,” Harner said

Harner is married to his wife of 31 years, and the couple has two grown children. The Harners’ son and daughter are officers in the U.S. Military. Bill Harner is a retired U.S. Army Lt. Colonel. Harner’s primary residence is in Middlesex Township, Cumberland County, but he said most of his time is spent in Quakertown.

UBCC Member Spotlight – Vince Randazzo, Dominick’s Pizza

This month, we shine the Member Spotlight on Dominicks’s Pizzeria owner and long-time Quakertown native, Vince Randazzo.

At Dominick’s Pizzeria, don’t be surprised if they know your name. “I have a lot of repeat customers who come in for the same meals on a set day. You get to know people that way. It’s kind of like ‘Cheers,’” said Vince Randazzo, second generation owner/operator of Dominick’s.

A Quakertown native, Randazzo continues steering Dominick’s, as he prepares to re-invigorate the former Karlton Theater building, while running additional businesses in nearby Bethlehem. Randazzo’s father purchased the business from a man named Dominick in 1969. Randazzo said his family kept the name, a nod to the former business owner and what would become an enduring community staple. “The most important thing about doing business in the community is building lasting and meaningful relations with those who live around you,” Randazzo explained. Randazzo, 38, along with sister Maryann Randazzo, operates the restaurant located at 327 West Broad St., in Quakertown’s downtown.

While Randazzo began working at Dominick’s as a teen – he was 15 years old – he’s been at the restaurant since his toddler years, a pattern he and wife Ashley (Yelland), are repeating with their own children. The couple’s two children, 19-month-old Guiliana and two-month-old Guiseppe, can often be found at the downtown eatery – after all there’s no place like home.

For Vince Randazzo, family and community mean everything. “My customers watched me grow up here and now they see my kids run around. They tell me they remember when that was me,” Randazzo said of his close-knit customer base. The Wooden Match and Artisan Wine & Cheese Cellar, both based in Bethlehem and Stone Tower Equities, based in Quakertown, area other businesses owned by Randazzo. He is the owner of the former Pregame Sports Bar and Grille, which he sold last year.

Having recently purchased the former Karlton Café building, home of Karlton Café restaurant, Randazzo said he plans to renovate the building, taking it back to its former glory days. The Karlton Café and adjacent Quakertown Army Navy store will remain, but the gold exchange retailer will not, according to Randazzo. After the renovation, office suites will be available on the second floor, and luxury apartments will be available on the third floor, Randazzo said. Façade improvements are set to being in spring on the 20,000- square-foot building, located on 308 and 310 Broad St. Randazzo is enthusiastic about downtown revitalization efforts, and praised Quakertown Alive! for hosting such festivals as Arts Alive! and the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony.

“The revitalization of downtown Quakertown is an important subject for our community. Not only can it increase foot-traffic to the downtown area and help local businesses, I think it would also create a greater sense of safety and pride,” Randazzo said. An Upper Bucks Chamber of Commerce member for 16 years, Randazzo is also a member of the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce for the past two years. On chamber membership, Randazzo is clear: “It’s like being on the 12-person field. You have a lot of support and a network. You learn from others. (Chamber) people are nice people, and they try to help each other out. It’s not always about making money,” Randazzo said.

UBCC Member Spotlight – Bob Podraza, Edward Jones

This month the Upper Bucks Chamber of Commerce is shining the Member Spotlight on Bob Podraza AAMS® Financial Advisor with Edward Jones. Bob Podraza is a good listener.

Podraza, 53, an Edward Jones investment financial advisor based in the Quakertown Borough, has had a lot of practice. Working well with clients means listening to their goals, aspirations, challenges and dreams, as well as helping them direct a plan for business success. It also means recognizing business success is a “fluid, evolving process. I think you have to be there a while to reap the benefits,” Podraza says of chamber membership.

And listening is at least half the equation for successful business relationships, regardless of the type of industry. Before he got settled into the Edward Jones office based in Quakertown four years ago, Podraza was a major account executive for Verizon Communications for 20 years. “At Verizon I learned how to deal with a lot of different people,” Podraza explained. Learning how to best deal with people face-to-face, means taking the time to make connections, and listen to them. “At Edward Jones, we believe you need to make those face-to-face connections,” Podraza emphasized.

“From Main Street blue collar workers who make a living using their hands to white collar professionals such as doctors and lawyers, everybody’s style is different. One size does not fit all,” Podraza said. Whether during his Verizon days advising a plumber/business owner with a fleet of trucks and a staff of 50; or a Center City Philadelphia lawyer or physician in a high-rise downtown office suite, the bottom line remains the same: Listen first. Creating rapport with business associates is always about face time.  “At Edward Jones we do business on the phone or in the office, face-to-face,” Podraza said. Podraza makes it a point to meet and work with clients across the table, and connect with colleagues and chamber members throughout the community the same way, face-to-face. “When you call our office you never get a voice tree or music, you always either get my executive assistant, Sarah Koffley, or you get me,” Podraza said of his communication philosophy.

A chamber member since 2012, Podraza is the chairman of the new membership committee, and serves as a regional SCORE mentor to help small businesses build and shape success. “SCORE has been a great experience. I can participate in SCORE to help other business owners, and it’s a very low impact commitment,” Podraza said of his involvement with the national organization.  According to their website, SCORE is a non-profit organization made up of business professionals, who donate their time to provide free advice, support, mentoring and encouragement to help small business owners meet challenges, and achieve their goals. SCORE is sponsored by the U.S. Small Business Administration, and Deluxe Corp. Foundation.

According to Podraza, those who take advantage of chamber services, mixers, workshops and opportunities to network with other members, ultimately get the most out of membership. “Get involved,” Podraza said. “I call it ‘playing in traffic.’  Sometimes you get run over, but you still need to get out there,” Podraza said.

Podraza, a Bedminster Township resident, is married to wife Laurel for 19 years. Their two children, Claire, 15, and Alexander, 12, attend school at the Pennridge School District. Podraza’s eldest daughter, Morgan, 23, is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree at the University of Chicago. “I am very proud of my children,” Podraza said.

Who: Bob Podraza, AAMS® finanicial advisor with Edward Jones

Chamber member: Since 2012

What he does: Financial advising services to Sellersville, Perkasie and Quakertown area

Where he’s located: 520 West Broad Street, Quakertown, PA 18951

Phone: 215-536-3635