A Conversation With: Ron Jerdon, president of Jerdon Construction in Allentown

Ron Jerdon –

LVB: What kind of construction projects does Jerdon specialize in?  

Jerdon: We specialize in a variety of projects to include healthcare, higher education, retail, houses of worship and commercial office spaces. 

LVB: You’ve been busy in the past year. What are some of the interesting projects Jerdon has been working on?  

Jerdon: The year 2022 has been quite exciting for Jerdon Construction. A few projects we’ve constructed have been two breweries, a 20,000-square-foot medical office facility, two higher education facilities and a number of retail building renovations/additions. 

 LVB: What challenges you and your team the most on a project?  

Jerdon: This year supply chain delays and a lack of workers have been quite challenging. We have been successful in adding quality team members to our staff. We’ve also made it a standard to order long lead items as early as possible, at times adjusting the normal sequence for procurement to meet project timelines. 

LVB: What is the best part of managing a construction project?  

Jerdon: Clearly the best part is experiencing the high level of satisfaction with every client we partner with. 

 LVB: Any new projects on the horizon that you can tell us about?  

Jerdon: The year 2023 is shaping up to be another great one. We have several projects in the design stages and several others with start dates rapidly approaching. 

Lehigh Valley Zoo breaks ground on new exhibit building

Gina Vary, project architect, Spillman Farmer Architects; Ron Jerdon, president, Jerdon Construction; Amanda Shurr, president and CEO, LV Zoo; Dean Meiser, project manager, Jerdon Construction; Maggie Morse, curator, LV Zoo and Matt Goense, secretary, LV Zoo board of directors break ground on Habitat Madagascar. PHOTO/LV ZOO –

Lehigh Valley Zoo in Schnecksville broke ground on its new exhibit, Habitat Madagascar, on June 9. 

Along with general contractor Jerdon Construction and exhibit architect Spillman Farmer Architects, the LV Zoo revealed the plans and process for this new, indoor/outdoor habitat for its Lemurs and Tortoises that will be located between the Australia and Africa areas of the Zoo.  

Construction is expected to be completed in the fall. 

Casilio Concrete will provide additional support for the building infrastructure. 

 “The Lehigh Valley Zoo is excited to be breaking ground on our first new exhibit in five years,” said Amanda Shurr, president and CEO. “We are committed to building the best new habitats, as well as updating our existing exhibits, to provide the best welfare for the animals under our care. This is the first of many projects we have planned that will directly impact both our current animal residents and future species for our Zoo. We appreciate the support of the Lehigh Valley community as we start this project and are eager for it to be completed and be enjoyed by all.” 

 In addition to housing the LV Zoo’s Lemurs and Tortoises, the 1,600-square-foot building will provide behind-the-scenes living space for the animals when they are off-exhibit as well as being climate controlled to ensure the optimum environment year-round. 


Long’s EcoWater to break ground on new facility

Long’s EcoWater Systms is building a new facility at 1567 Hausman Road. PHOTO/SUBMITTTED –

A groundbreaking is planned for June 8 for Long’s EcoWater Systems Inc., which is building a new facility at 1567 Hausman Road in South Whitehall Township near the intersection of Route 309 and Walbert Avenue. 

The new facility is just two miles south of their current Orefield location, also in South Whitehall Township.  

Long’s EcoWater Systems is in the water treatment, well pump, and water heater business. 

Jerdon Construction is contracted to manage the project.  

The 5,600-square-foot building will include modern office space, a showroom and warehouse.  

The company hopes the new space will offer easier entrance and exit. 

Jim Carroll and Scott Warrick, owners of Long’s EcoWater Systems issued a statement on the project.   

“This groundbreaking marks the beginning of a new chapter for our business as our team continues to serve the community by taking care of their water needs.”  

Long’s EcoWater was founded in 1925. The company said it is the oldest and largest water manufacturer of water treatment equipment in the world.  

Shangy’s second location set to open this spring in Macungie

A planned new Shangy’s beer distributorship is currently under construction in Macungie in a building that previously housed a Rite Aid drugstore. PHOTO/COURTESY JERDON CONSTRUCTION –

After 42 years in Emmaus, Shangy’s the Beer Authority is expanding into a new, second location in nearby Macungie. 

Owner Nima Hadian, said that while Emmaus and Macungie are neighbors, traffic makes it a good 20-to-30-minute ride between his popular flagship location along Lehigh Street and the new location going up at 6480 Alburtis Road in Macungie. 

He said with all the development going on in the borough, both residential and commercial, he saw a strong market there and decided it was time to expand. 

“Because of the success of the first store and the growth in the beer segment, we were ready to grow,” he said. 

The 14,000-square-foot store is being constructed in an old Rite Aid building, that has been gutted and is being rebuilt by Jerdon Construction of Allentown. 

With construction set to be complete by the end of February, Hadian hopes to have the store up and running by spring. 

Ron Jerdon, who’s overseeing construction of the building, which will be comparable in size to the existing Shangy’s, said work on converting the old Rite Aid began in October. 

“The whole interior of the building was gutted. It’s going to be a real nice location for them there,” he said. 

Like the original Shangy’s, Hadian said the new location will be a destination for beer lovers. 

The Macungie Shangy’s will have what Hadian said is the largest selection of beer in the country with over 4,000 different beers in stock. 

Of course, like the original, the new store will have more than just cases of beer. He said the store will also have a wide selection of alcoholic seltzers and hard teas, which are very popular right now. 

Because there are no limits on how much beer a distributorship, like Shangy’s, can sell, customers can also take advantage of choosing their own Mix Six variety, creating their own customized six-packs in a number of different price points. Individual bottles of beer can also be purchased. 

There will also be a slushy bar, which will serve to-go malt beverage slushy in between 30 and 40 flavors at any given time. 

Customers can come in and tap their own slushy or take out one of the pre-packaged slushies in the cooler. 

One of the highlights of the new location will be a Gruber-brand growler/crowler station where customers can choose from a selection of around 20 different rotating local, craft and imported beers and tap them either into a growler container, which come in 64 and 128 ounces, or into a pressure-sealed can, which can be filled in volumes ranging from 16 ounces on up. 

Other highlights include drive through service for to-go slushies and growler service and curbside pickup for cases of beer. 

While beer is the main focus, it isn’t the only offering at Shangy’s. The store is also well known for its selection of nuts and other snack foods, glassware, cigars and Shangy’s brand gear such as hats and sweatshirts will also be for sale. 

Auto Repair business owners renovating old Bethlehem Coca-Cola building

The former Coca-Cola building at 1825 W. Broad St. in Bethlehem is being renovated to become West Broad Street Commons. PHOTO/SUBMITTED –

Developers are transforming the former Coca-Cola building at 1825 W. Broad St. in Bethlehem into a new commercial complex.

The building, which was constructed in 1942, processed and shipped Coca-Cola products until the early 1980s. It housed both executive offices and manufacturing and warehousing facilities.

Tavarez Real Estate Investments purchased the property and is currently renovating it to create the West Broad Street Commons.

Tavarez Real Estate Investments is the real estate division of Austin’s Auto Service. Austin’s Auto Service was purchased by Nelson and Carolina Tavarez in 2010. The purchase was the beginning of the growth plans for the auto repair business.

Austin’s Auto Service is a minority-owned business employing 13 full-time staff. It will be a tenant in the complex.

The 67,000-square-foot building currently houses Cheryl Chickey’s All-American Performing Arts Center, which will remain a tenant in the building after renovations are complete.

Besides Austin’s Auto Service, Made in the Shade Film Pros will also be new tenants in the building. The developers are still looking for tenants for the remaining space.

Improvements being made to the building include updating communications connections with fiber optics, LED lighting and a more energy efficient HVAC system.

The improvements are expected to take about six months.

Financing for the project is being handled by ESSA Bank & Trust and Pursuit, a local community development corporation that provided access to SBA funding.

The SBA 504 program provides businesses with long-term, fixed-rate financing at rates tied to the treasury bond rate. The interest rate and term are usually significantly lower and longer than conventional bank lending terms and require CDC and bank participation.

W2A Architects and 4/4 Architecture provided the design plans for the project with major work contracted to Shafnisky Electric, Young Plumbing, MBI HVAC Inc. and Shearer Contracting. Exterior site improvements will be completed by Jerdon Construction.

COVID-19 creates havoc for construction industry

Workers for Boyle Construction of South Whitehall Township got a waiver to work on health care projects in the Lehigh Valley. (PHOTO/SUBMITTED) –

Gov. Tom Wolf’s order to shutter all non-life-sustaining businesses to control the spread of COVID-19 has effectively halted most construction in Pennsylvania, sending a shockwave through the industry.

Many construction firms quickly applied for a waiver from the state Department of Community & Economic Development to continue working. Meanwhile, many are finding they have to quickly adapt to a new normal and grapple with the uncertainties this brings to their industry.

In a letter to the governor, officials from the five chapters that make up the Associated Builders and Contractors of Pennsylvania asked Wolf for further clarification of his executive order and to grant a waiver for the construction-industry-at-large.

Prior to Wolf’s closure announcement, many construction firms were operating as usual, even as many businesses closed their doors over fears of the mounting crisis.

“We had one client ask us to stop work, it was a health care provider and we’ve had some other projects that we have stopped, but with existing buildings we put a few additional measures in,” said Sean Boyle, president and CEO of Boyle Construction of South Whitehall Township.

Boyle was interviewed shortly before Wolf’s announcement.

For one project, an existing building with two elevators, the company put up barriers to protect workers from the occupants. His company also issued a policy to clients that explained how they are operating with safety procedures in place.

“If they stop inspections, that’s going to put construction at a halt,” Boyle said. “If we get to that point, and we can’t put the drywall on, we can’t go any farther. That’s going to put a huge financial burden on us.”

Production was still at 90% capacity as of March 16, Boyle said.

The company’s office functions shifted to allow those employees to work from home. For the most part, the construction workers are spread out and there haven’t been any issues getting supplies yet, Boyle said.

After Wolf’s order, Boyle said his company applied for waivers for jobs deemed essential, such as pharmaceutical, biotech, health care, financial institutions and a few others related to food distribution. So have some of his clients, he added.

Boyle’s company is still working but only on health care projects for major health care networks. He is hoping for more waivers soon to get other jobs working.

As of March 23, Boyle his company laid off about 70% of its field work force.

“Our full office staff is working remotely this week from home,” Boyle said. “We will analyze field staff day to day based on waivers and where we are permitted to work.”

Major disruption

The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting construction in the commercial and industrial sectors. The integrated supply chain of the construction industry creates production and supply problems if one company is shuttered and another is not, or if one state shuts down construction businesses and another does not.

As an example, New Jersey currently exempts construction from shutting down.

“I think you are going to have a nationwide shutdown,” said Kevin McGowan, president of McGowan Corporate Real Estate Advisors in Upper Macungie Township.

If companies that produce the materials required to build warehouses close it will halt those projects, he said.

“The production and delivery of that is the issue,” McGowan said. “We have seen buildings that are mostly completed; this construction shutdown is hurting that.”

Some companies took action earlier in the COVID-19 scare to identify staff members that were highly susceptible to contagion and set them up to work remotely. Ron Jerdon, president of Jerdon Construction in Upper Macungie, said his company did it once COVID-19 began hitting the headlines. Now, nearly all field staff management and administrative staff are working remotely, he said.

“We are adapting fairly well, taking a day-by-day approach, keeping all our staff informed on a daily basis,” he said. “We are continuing to function fairly well, meeting the project needs we have going.”

The company still does estimates and collaborates with design teams, but everything is done virtually. “We are planning for the future, making sure we have a solid financial base,” Jerdon said.

Preparing for the future

However, his company, which employs about 38, had to make some temporary field staff layoffs because of COVID-19. About 60 percent of his workforce is laid off but he plans to hire them back once the pandemic ends.

“We are trying to take advantage of any government programs available,” Jerdon said. “Our plan is to get everything back as quickly as possible. Right now, we are trying to maintain as much operation as we can. At this time, we don’t want to put anyone’s health at risk.”

His company has been able to continue working on a few key projects for Lehigh Valley Health Network and he was able to secure a waiver from the state to continue working. He acknowledged it took a while because the volume of requests was so large.

His company also has been practicing social distancing at job sites and incorporated mandatory practices and Occupational Safety and Hazard Administration policies for COVID-19.

The firm cancelled all in-person meetings and increased sanitization of job sites.

Employees have been adjusting as well as can be expected, Jerdon said. “Every effort is being made to resume normal activity as quickly as possible.”

Obtaining supplies is getting harder every day. Jerdon’s company has had trouble getting concrete for one of the health care projects and many vendors have limited service.

“So far, we’ve been able to navigate all of the obstacles fairly well,” he said.

He also foresees more restrictions.

“Given the daily updates, I think with confirmed cases constantly rising, I think it’s just a matter of time before more restrictions are put in place.”