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.

 

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.

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.

Community is Elsa O’Brien’s Passion

The You’ve Got Maids Quakertown franchise owner built her business from scratch four years ago, along with husband and business partner Bruce O’Brien, out of the family’s own need for housekeeping services.

Recently honored at an annual meeting by You’ve Got Maids corporate officials in South Carolina, O’Brien received an award for being the highest grossing franchise in the United States.

In her acceptance speech, O’Brien said she encouraged her peers to join their local chambers of commerce. “It’s a no brainer,” O’Brien said of chamber membership. Being part of the chamber community is something O’Brien said she encourages of any business owner, large or small. “Being part of your community is huge and if you want to build your business it’s something you must do,” O’Brien said.

“Go to business card exchanges- they’re brilliant for making connections,” O’Brien said. O’Brien said early on, she made sure she was wearing her work T-Shirt whenever she went to a chamber mixer, so folks would recognize her. The outgoing and friendly O’Brien said recently, she leaves the T-Shirt at home, because she’s comfortable people know her now. “You meet a lot of people at mixers. Some of the stories you hear are unique, and some are similar to yours, but you get to share them and hear them (from business peers),” O’Brien explained.

In four short years, the O’Brien’s business has grown from two startup employees to 24. Her reach to encompass community has grown as well. O’Brien’s firm participates in a nationwide non-profit program called “Cleaning for a Reason,” which offers cleaning services four times a year, to women suffering with cancer. O’Brien’s success has taught her valuable life-long lessons. “I’m not the same person I was four years ago,” O’Brien explained. “If you put your heart and soul into something, you can do it,” O’Brien said.

To view O’Brien’s take on ‘Cleaning for a Reason,’ and the importance of giving back locally, view the video posted online at www.youvegotmaids.com/ronald-mcdonald-house-compared-to-cleaning-for-a-reason