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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.