Bob Wasson retires from HNL Lab Medicine at 90

A Navy veteran and lifelong retail manager, Bob Wasson ended his final career Thursday as a courier for HNL Lab Medicine. He is 90 years young.

Speaking via Microsoft Teams, Wasson, of Whitehall, showed he is a person who loves to be around people, listening to their stories and family life. A perfect match for a job that requires interacting with a variety of people each day.

“I was going to work here for five years, but I forgot to leave (for 16),” he said. “I love people. I try to lift them up as I go by. It’s difficult with masks on, but you can see it in their eyes.”

Wasson, who retired the first time as a 7-11 franchise owner at the age of 74, worked eight hour shifts three days a week for HNL. “My favorite part of the job is coming to work,” he said. “I love to see people. The hardest part is slowing down. As a courier, you learn to slow down and be aware of what’s around you.”

Wasson, a natural salesman, owned the 7-11 franchise in Allentown from 1982 to 2005. “The company went bankrupt in 1991 so my 10-year franchise agreement was grandfathered in until 2005,” he said. The restructured company, which in 2005 required a new franchise agreement, he said, didn’t want him to deviate from the corporate footprint, but Wasson had other ideas.

“I had Hispanic and black customers and I needed to provide food for them,” he said. “That didn’t work with their footprint. I just wanted to provide for customers and make money for the store.” He decided to retire instead of shifting to their way of business.

A definite go-getter, Wasson started his career in retail right out of high school. “I saw an ad in the newspaper for a management training program at Woolworth’s,” he said. After a four-year stint in the Navy, his career began to take off. “I have a high school education and a doctorate in retail,” he chuckled.

After learning the ropes of running a store, “I was always given the troubled stores,” he said. Around 1962, “I was sent to a Woolworth’s that had lost $40,000 a year. I turned it around and made $14,000 the first year.”

Thinking outside the box was nothing new. When Wasson was a youngster he bought candy bars, three for 10 cents and sold them outside his home for 5 cents apiece. Later, he walked into a Decca Record store and bought all the records. He had them sold in four days.

While at Woolworth’s, “I was sent a gross of Goldberger dolls on Dec. 22. They cost $3.99 and I had all 144 sold in the three days before Christmas,” he said.

Probably one of the funniest things he did while managing the store, he said, was he walked eight blocks to the local Hula Hoop factory and bought Hula Hoops. “No one had them, so they sold really well. I went every day,”

It wasn’t all rosy, however. While in Chicago, Wasson witnessed three race riots. He saw two boys attempt to rob a bar and were shot. He saw a gang walk down the street where he was working marking stores with “X” so they knew which ones to burn down. “My store didn’t get an “X”,” he said. “But the rioters came one day and cleaned out the first floor of my store. Then, they came back the next day and cleaned out the second floor. We had a police officer working in the store who called downtown, and the police broke up the ring (of thieves).”

Woolworth’s was so pleased with Wasson’s abilities the president of the company invited him to New York to discuss a district management position. “I met a millionaire and found out he puts his pants on one leg at a time like everyone else. But they found out I wasn’t a partier, so I didn’t get the job,” he chuckled.

Wasson ended up being wooed by McCrory’s who eventually brought him to Allentown. It was there he decided to go it alone and bought the 7-11.

After retiring from the store, Wasson took a few part-time jobs that didn’t agree with him. He finally found HNL and found “his home.” His job was to pick up lab tests at the Lehigh Valley-Muhlenberg campus and deliver them to HNL Lab Medicine.

The father of two, grandfather of two and great-grandfather of three, Wasson said his philosophy in life is “Don’t be afraid to take a chance. If you want something, go after it.”

The next chapter for Wasson is golf and taking care of his wife of 63 years. Wasson plays golf in a men’s league at Indian Mountain Golf Course every Tuesday. He would also like to travel back to his home in Illinois to see family. “I love to drive,” he said.

HNL held a retirement party for Wasson Thursday afternoon. His friends and colleagues dropped in during breaks from their work to wish him the best. After the gathering, Wasson finished his final shift, working from 4-8:30 p.m.

Martin Till to replace Matt Sorrentino as CEO of HNL Lab Medicine


Lehigh Valley Health Network today named Martin Till as the new president and CEO of HNL Lab Medicine, the network’s lab services provider.

He is replacing Matt Sorrentino, who will be retiring from the position in the fall.

Sorrentino, a prominent Lehigh Valley attorney, has led the organization since May 2019.

“HNL Lab Medicine has prospered under Matt’s leadership and commitment to excellence to become the preeminent lab medicine company in the region,” said Brian A. Nester, president and CEO of LVHN.

He noted that Sorrentino was directly involved in the founding of HNL and served for more than 20 years as HNL’s board secretary.

“We are grateful for his hard work and service to HNL and the community,” Nester said.

Sorrentino will continue to serve as a consultant to both LVHN and HNL Lab Medicine.

Sorrentino’s retirement is effective Oct. 15. Till will start in the new post on Sept. 1 to help ensure a smooth leadership transition.

Till has been part of the LVHN board since 2004 and on the HNL board since 2013. Till will resign both board positions when he takes over the CEO role.

Till, an Army veteran, is a partner in ClearLine Development, a real estate development and construction management firm. He was also previously president, CEO and publisher of The Express-Times newspaper and LehighValleyLive.com.

HNL Lab Medicine opens East Stroudsburg patient center

HNL Lab Medicine has opened a second patient center in East Stroudsburg. PHOTO/SUBMITTED

HNL Lab Medicine, a Lehigh-Valley based lab-testing company, has opened a new patient center in East Stroudsburg.

The new facility is the company’s second patient center in East Stroudsburg and offers a full range of HNL services.

“With the pandemic and its restrictions easing, people are beginning to think about health checkups and necessary diagnostic screenings again – essential stops for their wellbeing that they had to put off,” said Daniel Brown, medical director of HNL Lab Medicine. “The timing couldn’t be better to open our doors at this new location in East Stroudsburg.”

The new East Stroudsburg patient center, located at 100 Eaglesmere Circle, is open weekdays from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

HNL Lab Medicine opens lab testing site in Palmerton

HNL Lab Medicine’s new Palmerton location. PHOTO/SUBMITTED


Laboratory medical services provider HNL Lab Medicine has opened a patient center in Carbon County.

The latest location is at 524 Delaware Ave. in Palmerton, near the Lehigh Valley Health Network ExpressCARE. It is HNL’s first patient center in Palmerton.

“We are excited to expand our services in Carbon County, as we provide patients there with another option for clinical laboratory services,” says Brian Fanning, director of marketing. “This new patient center strengthens our presence in the Carbon County region, where we also operate two patient centers in Lehighton.”

Like other HNL patient centers, no appointment is required for lab tests. The center is open Monday through Friday from 6:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m.

Headquartered in Allentown, HNL Lab Medicine has more than 50 Patient Service Centers located throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

HNL of Allentown acquires Hazleton lab

HNL Lab Medicine of Allentown, formerly known as Health Network Laboratories, has acquired NLM Laboratories, Northeastern Laboratory Medicine of Hazleton.

“Together, NLM Laboratories and HNL Lab Medicine will expand access to full-service laboratory diagnostics while maintaining convenience and improving service for healthcare professionals and patients in Northern Pennsylvania,” said Matthew Sorrentino, president & CEO of HNL Lab Medicine.

NLM Laboratories will retain its current name, signage, and patient center.

Patients may see new paperwork as systems for ordering, billing, and lab results are integrated with HNL’s enhanced automation system.

Current NLM patients can continue to access lab services from the NLM location at 271 North Cedar Street in Hazleton, and will have the support and strength of extended services offered through HNL including:

“HNL Lab Medicine significantly expands the services that NLM Laboratories can provide to the community, which is especially important for our most vulnerable populations, even more crucial as we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic and upcoming flu season,” said Joseph Shiskowski, principal, NLM Laboratories.

HNL is a full-service medical laboratory providing testing and related services to physician offices, hospitals, long-term care facilities, employers, and industrial accounts.

HNL Lab Medicine has more than 60 Patient Centers located throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.