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

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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.

 

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.

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.

Member Spotlight-Avery Dennison

Avery Dennison makes products that stick.

The Fortune 500 company, based in Upper Bucks County, Avery Dennison leaders recognize finding creative solutions to business problems is key to the firm’s longevity and enduring success in the self-adhesive products industry.

“We are a world leader in pressure sensitive adhesive technology,” Hochmiller said.

Finding business application solutions and being smart about their implementation are critical to the company’s approach to business, said Matthew Hochmiller, Avery Dennison Quakertown plant manager.

As one of the two top label makers in the United States, Avery Dennison continues a mission of “making every brand more inspiring and the world more intelligent,” Hochmiller said.

Originally founded in Los Angeles, Calif., in 1935 by Ray Stanton Avery as Kum Kleen Adhesive Products Company, Avery Dennison was born in 1990 after a merger with the Dennison Manufacturing Company.

Avery Dennison opened the Quakertown plant in 1971, on 17-acres in Upper Bucks County.

Avery Dennison serves the industry adhesive label needs for advertising and promotion, apparel, electronics and electrical, government, health care and medical along with the consumer goods markets, among others. The firm operates in 50 countries worldwide and employs roughly 25,000 people.

A valued employer in Upper Bucks, the Quakertown plant, located at 35 Penn Am Drive, operates three shifts, five days a week with about 130 full time employees, Hochmiller said.

Hochmiller said the firm excels in innovative thinking, which he credits to the company’s origins.

Chamber membership helps Avery Dennison fulfill its commitment to local engagement as well as connect with other manufacturing and business leaders.

Avery Dennison takes a local stand by respecting its position in the community, and taking its business neighbors seriously.

“Exploring what other companies and plants are doing and networking with them helps us to innovate,” Hochmiller said. “We don’t have to reinvent the wheel.”