Member Spotlight: The Proper Brewing Company

Where silent films reigned in the 1920s a bustling family owned and operated microbrewery invigorates Quakertown’s downtown.

Enjoy a Surf & Turf burger with aged sirloin, onions, crumbled bacon and shredded lobster, alongside a premise made glass of Gabi Wit beer or G’s Revenge.

The Proper Brewing Company, owned and operated by Brian and Kris Wilson, is the newest business venture to occupy the former Palace Theater, and it’s the latest addition to Quakertown’s restaurant line-up.

Onsite brewed beers with names like Blondie Bree and Panther Pale Ale are available as tasting flights, pints, growlers and bottles.

The building has long been a Quakertown staple and before The Proper incarnation was occupied by family-owned and operated Dimmig Electric, a home appliance store which closed its doors in 2012.

Kris Wilson said living in Quakertown and raising children here were ideal reasons to open a business.

“We love the community so we thought it was the best place to start our family business,” Wilson said of settling The Proper in Quakertown.

Giving back to a welcoming community of supportive local officials, community members and patrons means a lot to the Wilsons so they host community fundraisers and events.

“We will continue to give back as much as we can,” Wilson said of the couple’s commitment to Quakertown.

Continued economic vitality benefits everyone in downtown Quakertown, and Wilson said hosting events like a bike night, or bringing First Friday events to the downtown are on her to-do list.

But food and beer are the main attractions at The Proper Brewing Company.

Creating and maintaining a menu aimed at seasonal, sustainable fare is an evolving process, according to Wilson.

The new launch of spirits (hard liquor) at The Proper is targeted for August, although no other details were available.

Wines by the tasting flight and glass are also available at The Proper, as is a varied menu including snacks, pub fare and salads, inventive takes on classic sandwiches, burgers and more.

The Proper Brewing Company offers a dozen beers brewed on the premises, as well as banquet hall rentals and private party accomodations.

The Proper Brewing Company is located at 117 W. Broad Street, Quakertown. For menus, beer descriptions and hours of operation visit www.theproperbrewing.com.

Member Spotlight: The Athena Network

After years of working for someone else Lisa Strohm decided she could fill a niche financial advising services market, because she better understands their needs, priorities and challenges.

With more than 15 years as a financial advisor, Strohm opened her own office in December, 2015, with a women-friendly focus. Strohm is president and CEO of The Athena Network, financial and life management services based in Center Valley, Lehigh County.

Strohm believes women approach financial issues from a different position and perspective than men do, and therefore need a different approach.

“Women are juggling a lot of priorities,” Strohm said.

That means it’s important to take women’s values and priorities into consideration, when advising them about financial planning, savings and wealth management.

From raising children to suspending or igniting power careers, dealing with aging parents, death or divorce, women often shoulder the lion’s share of family life, while keeping their fingers on the pulse of household income, savings and investments. They may even be in a position of earning more than their life partners or spouses.

“Men approach financial planning with S&P 500 analysis and statistics, women don’t think that way,” Strohm explained.

“Statistically oriented and communicated results” can be intimidating to women, with the result of “alienating them,” Strohm said.

Her holistic approach takes into consideration where a woman is in her career and earning cycle, where her children and parents may be in their life journey, and how all the pieces fit together.

Beyond bank statements and investment reports, Strohm said offering added value means providing credible resources to her clients, above and beyond the investment picture.

Strohm provides resources and vetted services for such professionals as CPAs, estate planning attorneys, nutritionists, personal trainers, insurance agents, realtors, rental property analysis firms (for investors) and elder care services, among others. This slate of providers helps save her client’s valuable time with focused concierge services.

“These are (benefits) your typical financial planner doesn’t offer. I’ve done the due diligence for (my clients),” Strohm explained of her list of concierge options.

Lisa Strohm’s Take Away Tips for Women and Finance:

#1 Meet with the planner before signing. Financial advisors should be looking out for you and listening to your concerns and needs, not telling you about themselves and what they can achieve.

#2 Fee basis versus commission based- Strohm advocates fee based services over commission based ones. If financial charges for services are based upon a commission, proceed with caution, according to Strohm. Investments may be suggested because of the benefit to the advisor, because that is how he or she will be paid.

Strohm, who offers fee-based services, said her fee includes life management services. “At the least, planning and investment should be part of (the package),” Strohm said. When selecting someone to work with, Strohm suggested “go with your gut, it’s rarely wrong.”

For more information on The Athena Network log onto www.the-athena-network.com

It’s time to get focused, Upper Bucks County!

What’s in your tool kit? Credibility, check. Networking opportunities, check. Access to professional development for yourself and your staff, check. A way to get your message out to potential buyers and convert them into leads for your business?

If you are a member and support the annual 2017 focused Upper Bucks Chamber community profile and member directory, then double check!

What would it mean to have 10,000 business cards distributed across your selling region and beyond?

Buying an ad can do that, and more.

Did you know that roughly 60 percent of buyers trust a business, which belongs to its local Chamber of Commerce?

Those statistics are consistent across the country, because Chambers add value in lots of ways, both tangible and intangible.

Consumers are more likely to buy from Chamber Members because of their positive perception of those business owners and operators.

From professional development, leadership courses, webinars, special presentations from Small Business Administration affiliates, career coaching, SCORE mentoring and more, tapping into the Chamber is a way to amplify your business voice.

Advertising with the Chamber is a compelling way to be heard.

Created and produced by UBCC members, getting your business message into the hands of the buying public is as important to us, as it is to you.

That’s why the decision was made two years ago, to stop using a third-party package company in the Midwest, and to form a small committee and source the writing, photographs, page make up and production on a grassroots level, with members who are as invested in your success as their own.

An ad in the annual focused Upper Bucks County community profile and membership directory can reach new customers for you, all while you take care of business.

Production is underway for the 2017 focused Upper Bucks County community profile and membership directory. Be part of it today.

Contact Melinda Rizzo at 215.529.9845 or mrizzo@ubcc.org to learn how you can be part of the next issue.

Quakertown Grocery Outlet, the Area’s Newest Grocery Store

In an age of cell phones and text messaging, personal touch means everything.

For the new Quakertown Grocery Outlet owners and staff, that means face-to-face customer contact is the top priority.

“Customer service is our main goal,” according to Michael Anderson, franchise owner and operator with wife Vikki Anderson of Quakertown Grocery Outlet, the area’s newest grocery store.

The Anderson’s are bringing back such old-fashioned practices as helping customers take their bagged items to the car, and walking the selling floor to help patrons find items, and get their requests and suggestions.

The car service is extremely popular, “especially women with small children or older people, they really appreciate this service we can provide for them,” Michael Anderson said. He has personally helped load customer’s cars with their grocery orders.

The pair have set the customer service bar high. “I walk around the floor, and I talk to people every day. Our staff is friendly, and they want to help our customers,” Michael Anderson said.

Quakertown Grocery Outlet is committed to providing a great customer experience, offering brand name goods at deep discounts and giving back to the community in a variety of ways.

From a strong grand opening in April, Michael Anderson said a steady stream of customers is validating his business decisions, and despite working up to 16 hour days, the new store is the Anderson’s professional dream come true.

Housed in the former Sears Hardware Store at the Trainer’s Corner Shopping Center, located at Routes 309 and 663/313, the store has been transformed with bright LED lights, high ceilings, wide aisles, and a clean, fresh look.

Their business has created 36 new full and part-time jobs, many of which are being filled with first-time workers.

“We are teaching them (first time employees) how to work,” Michael Anderson said of his management and seasoned floor staff, as they take on new hires.

In addition to working the floor and running the business, Michael and Vikki also create special, free events – mostly for youngsters. A recent Mother’s Day craft featured artificial floral bouquets tots could easily make for gifts. An upcoming “Taste of Bargains” tables, spread out throughout the store, will feature items customers may sample to get acquainted with new tastes, especially organic products, Michael Anderson said. “We have some unusual products and wanted to give people a chance to try them,” Anderson said.

Special events like the “Taste of Bargains” when offered are held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on a Saturday.

Community engagement kicked off at their grand opening, when the Anderson’s donated $1,000 of goods to the Quakertown Food Pantry, setting the tone for business and service organization relationships.

Located at 70 N. West End Boulevard, the store is a franchise of California based Grocery Outlets, Inc.

 

Elements of Hiring, Finding the Right Fit

The right person for the job can make all the difference to a business owner’s bottom line.

But cash value isn’t the only thing employees bring to the table. Talent, skills and an authentic investment in the firm’s goods or services and corporate philosophy are soft skills often difficult to discern in a 20-minute interview, or while scanning an online resume response.

With over 70,000 job boards in the United States alone, finding the perfect job to worker match remains a challenge for most employers.

In the digital era of social media, hiring boards, Monster.com, the sheer volume of places a job seeker can look for work is often overwhelming, according to Jennifer Schultz, owner of Recruitment Queen based in Warminster.

“Advertising platforms have created too many sources,” Schultz explained.

Finding the magic blend of skills, character assets and drive still requires purposeful planning, advertising in the right places and interviewing to find the best candidate, Schultz said.

Narrowing the field to find more qualified candidates means targeting the search for workers and keeping an active pool of candidates at the ready.

Knowing where to look is half the battle. “Job seekers are so frustrated with the process, they pull out,” Schultz said.

Ask current employees for staffing recommendations, look to professional organizations or networking groups, connect with local chambers of commerce and pinpoint where best to find people from among the multitudes.

Reaching a target market might limit the amount of people but it increases the amount of qualified candidates, Schultz advised.

Some are desperate for jobs and will apply to most anything, even jobs for which they don’t qualify, Schultz said.

Targeted advertising and active recruiting- even when there are no current job openings – are in an employer’s best interests, according to Schultz.

So is transparency and making job postings easy to find.

Don’t hide the job postings, Schultz cautioned. “Often company websites hide their job postings, making them difficult to find,” Schultz said.

Capitalize on making available jobs easy to see on a website, and go the extra step. Promote work/life or flexible job options. “Who offers the most job security, who is the best company for those over 55, or for Veterans,” Schultz said.

Promoting your company’s assets and work environment to prospective employees, the way you would to customers or clients, is a perspective shift that could yield big results.

Shultz’s Tips:
1) Be thoughtful about where you recruit, target your search.

2) Brand your company. What can you offer as an employer to attract and retain talent?

3) Tell your story. Think like a job seeker, and be convincing.

4) Have an open mind: Look beyond body art and tattoos. For a potential candidate with body art, can it be covered up during the work day? Can piercings be removed? Tattoos are so widespread, they shouldn’t be a deal breaker for a qualified job candidate,” Schultz said.

Chamber 101 Outlines Abundant Benefits of UBCC Membership

Professional development. Political clout. Credibility.  A bigger voice. Meeting new prospects. Networking with a variety of professionals across different industries. Passionate advocates for business that are on your side.

These are a few of the benefits of becoming a member of the Upper Bucks Chamber of Commerce, as about a dozen members discovered during a Chamber 101 session held at the downtown Quakertown office of UBCC.

Chamber 101 participants discovered what may be missing from their side of the equation.

Involvement and engagement are what bring an organization like the chamber, and the business members vital to its mission together.

If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a Chamber to galvanize the local business community.

Some other Chamber member benefits:

*Online training through Coggno – a web-based professional development provider, which gives 10 free courses of your choice, a branded training platform for your company and a custom URL for staff to use to log in for their training use.

*An instant connection to the chambers’ roughly 600 plus members throughout Upper Bucks County.

*Participation in Chamber sponsored events, and a chance to be part of the movement through committee and volunteer involvement.

*Manufacturing support through networking and professional organizations.

*Free Certificates of Origin

*Online and print advertising, which not only gets the word out about business goods and services, but supports the chamber’s daily operations.

A bigger voice means your message is heard louder and more often.

Chamber functions like business card exchanges and mixers as well as annual events such as the upcoming Small Business Conference & EXPO on March 15 at Bucks County Community College, Perkasie Campus, offer opportunities for volunteers, sponsorship and to meet other business community members.

“It’s not who you know, it’s who knows you,” said Tara King, UBCC, Executive Director.

 

 

Missing a piece of the puzzle to growing your business?

Got a small business in Upper Bucks County?  Looking for that edge? Micro-loans can help.

For a small business or sole proprietor just starting out, Micro-loans provide a financial leg up.

Micro-loans, available through The Rising Tide Community Loan Fund, provide a way for start-up businesses, small business expansion or other types of small business enterprises to obtain needed capital to grow and prosper.

The Rising Tide Community Loan Fund is a non-profit federally certified Community Development Financial Institute, which provides business funding for a variety of uses.

The Rising Tide has historically arranged $4.3 million of capital to 136 different businesses in Lehigh and Northampton counties and recently added Monroe, Carbon and Upper Bucks counties to its service area, according to Chris Hudock, director of The Rising Tide. Since December 2015, about $1.5 million has already been loaned to 52 different businesses, Hudock said.

From resource acquisition, to improvements in leased spaces, equipment purchases, marketing, working capital, stocking inventory and real estate acquisition, a Micro-loan could be the right fit when a traditional loan isn’t an option.

Up to $35,000 of vital funding per business is available through the Micro-loan program, Robert Mineo said. Mineo is financing assistance program director for the Small business Development Center based at Lehigh University in Bethlehem. Mineo specializes in helping business owners and operators understand their financial options, along with assisting them in creating presentation pitches they can make to investors and lenders.

At a recent presentation and panel discussion hosted by UBCC in Quakertown, participants learned about the benefits of Micro-loan programs, and made important staff contacts with those who can help facilitate the process.

“Having a microloan program in the community is just another way to assist our small businesses, that don’t qualify for traditional financing, access to the capital needed to grow,” said Tara King, Executive Director of Upper Bucks Chamber of Commerce.

“Whether that reason is due to having a less than perfect credit rating, not having the right collateral, lack of credit history – all the things that a bank looks at when qualifying an applicant – to still be able to access capital at a rate less than using a credit card,” King explained.

“It can mean the difference between watching a business crash and burn because they couldn’t access the capital needed and watching a business root in a community and thrive,” King said.

Mineo said The Rising Tide Community Loan Fund, which was recently extended to cover Upper Bucks met a need. “There was not a program like this that covered Upper Bucks before,” Mineo said.

“Upper Bucks is an opportunity for growth,” Hudock said.