UBCC Year in Review

Abundance. Mild weather. A growing economy and positive outlook.

As we wrap up 2015 there’s a lot to remember, and a lot for which to be thankful.

Making connections, providing resources and offering business leaders an opportunity to find one another, were 2015 hallmarks of the Upper Bucks Chamber of Commerce mission.

From the annual Small Business Conference & Expo at Bucks County Community College, Perkasie Campus in March to developing relationships and better business outcomes, UBCC is an active community member.

Regular business card networking opportunities provide a relaxed way for members to come together. Look for additional, new happy hours in 2016.

The annual June golf classic was another chance to meet and enjoy some relaxed time on the greens. This year’s Upper Bucks Foodie event in October, drew record numbers to the Sands Chrysler Jeep Dodge dealership for an outstanding sold-out evening of great food and drink samplings, raffle baskets, and community bon ami.

Take advantage of online webinars and educational opportunities, free online training and staff development – it’s all available through the chamber.

We’re strengthening business relationships.

Throughout the year we’ve blogged and profiled area business leaders and entrepreneurs from food and home services industries, tech companies, manufacturers, a public school district and the area’s technical career school, among others.

Consistently, we hear and see demonstrated the small town charm associated with Quakertown, Perkasie, Sellersville and beyond. And recently, acceptance in the Classic Towns of Greater Philadelphia program validated what generations living in Quakertown have known all along: The heart of Upper Bucks is a great place to call home.

Upper Bucks leaders, business owners and operators are savvy forward thinkers braced to face the challenges of living in a 21st Century world and economy.

For the first time the newest chamber business directory, Focused, was built from the ground up by chamber members.

Focused will premiere in January. In addition to the print copy of the directory, an online edition promises to be more engaging and interactive than ever before. Online, Focused will be easy to use and provides a launching pad for finding member businesses, and much more. It’s jam packed with information about the wealth of resources that make up our region, and offers our tips and picks for how to spend a day, a vacation, or to settle and live a lifetime.

As we look to better serve existing members and welcome new members, a photo contest for the next chamber directory could showcase your work. We’ll share more on how to submit photos in the New Year.

Among our New Year’s resolutions are continued growth of our membership and networking communities. In 2016, our goal is to grow membership to 1,000 from our current 600 – that’s an ambitious membership increase of roughly 40 percent.

You can help us reach the new member goal. Invite a business colleague, new business start-up or entrepreneurial friend to the next networking event.  Tell your non-chamber business contacts about the resources available to them, once they join the Upper Bucks Chamber of Commerce.

Don’t be shy. Take advantage of the benefits chamber membership, and a valued place in this diverse community, affords you.

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.

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.

What’s Your Plan?

From the just-right business entity to setting up a home office, local zoning ordinance references and lease agreements with commercial landlords, about two dozen entrepreneurs learned how to optimize their ideas at a recent Small Business Development Center workshop

How to create a business plan was hosted by Upper Bucks Chamber of Commerce and lead by Robert Mineo, financing assistance program director for the Small Business Development Center based on the campus of Lehigh University on Wednesday, Nov. 12.

Mineo walked participants through the nuts and bolts of creating a business plan, along with the need for a purpose driven document.

“It shouldn’t be more than 8 to 10 pages long, tops,” Mineo said.

Mineo offered tips for home-based businesses, such as seeking out information on local ordinance compliances and permits, and offered guidance on creating a business plan with punch.

“Start with the strongest section first,” Mineo said.

For those just starting a new business, the business plan might lead with education, background and industry or related accomplishments.

Looking for financing? Think ABC’s “Shark Tank” by building a strong case for why you, and your idea, are an exceptional risk for a bank or investor to take on.

Mineo said a good business plan includes an executive summary, which briefly summarizes the point of the document.

Use strong, clear language, and directly state what the purpose of the document is.

A strong business plan – again 8 to 10 pages long – should include:

*A description of the business proposed.
*Products or services offered.
*The market you’ll serve.
*Location where the business will be based.
*A competitive analysis.
*Management and personnel identified.
*Sources of income and current applications for financing.
*Final summary.

For more information about how to create a business plan, or for small business support, visit the Small Business Development Center website at www.lehigh.edu or the Upper Bucks Chamber of Commerce website at www.ubcc.org.