Council for Retail and Sales honoring program sponsors

A recent networking event hosted by the Council for Retail Sales at DeSales University. PHOTO/SUBMITTED –

The Council for Retail and Sales at DeSales University in Center Valley is getting a financial boost from some of its retail supporters. 

On Sept. 16 the council, which serves as an authority on issues and solutions that face the retailing and sales industries, will be accepting two ceremonial checks to honor that support. 

Over the past two years the national retailer, Walmart has donated $20,750 to support the council’s genral programming 

The Carlisle-based The Giant Company, has donated $3,000 specifically earmarked to support the Fall 2021 CRS Collegiate Case Challenge. 

“We at the Council have been blessed with incredibly loyal sponsors and a wonderful board,” said Doc Ogden, Chair, Board of Directors for CRS. “The organization relies on donations to run and we value the partnerships we’ve made since CRS’ inception in 2009.” 

Programs produced by CRS include a bi-annual student competition; Meet the Experts, a speaker series featuring a panel of experts from specific industries; a bi-annual video essay competition alternately sponsored by Sherwin-Williams and Walmart; industry symposiums and more.  

This fall’s collegiate competition, sponsored by Giant, will be held on the DeSales campus on Oct. 29. 

 The top team will receive $1,200 to be divided by team members and a trophy. The second-place team will be awarded $400 to be divided by the team. 

A Conversation With: Kathryn Brown of Morton & Brown in Allentown

Kathryn Brown –

Kathryn Brown is a founder and principal of Morton Brown Family Wealth in Allentown. 

LVB: Are there any current trends in investing right now? 

Brown: Trends ebb and flow with new ideas and new concerns popping up in a never-ending cycle. The key is to be prepared and be measured in how you react to those trends. Having a diverse investment strategy in place allows you to manage your risk and can help prevent you from bouncing from trend to trend. One example currently is the concern over increasing inflation. If you maintain a broad mix of investments, you probably already have a lot of inflation protection. But you could still benefit from a discussion with your advisor to review your level of preparedness and determine if tweaks should be made. 

LVB: What is the advice you give to most clients trying to manage their money in the current economic climate? 

Brown: I find myself repeating three core principles these days: Diversification, Patience, and Consistency. 

Diversification continues to be a key factor in obtaining long-term growth. It is important to have your money invested in different sizes and types of companies across the globe as growth (and protection) leaders are constantly changing. 

Be patient and don’t get spooked. Market corrections are inevitable, normal, and good for shaking out risk and providing rebalancing opportunities. 

Resist the urge to chase performance. Just because your friend made a quick 50% on an investment purchase, does not mean there is another quick 50% for you to make. Nor does it mean they won’t lose that 50% the next day. 

LVB: Are there any investments people should be wary of? 

Brown: Investors should always be wary of any investments they do not understand or cannot be easily and concisely explained to them. Individuals should also be wary of investing in anything that inhibits their ability to access their money when they need it.  

LVB: Do you expect any changes in your industry in the near future? 

Brown: I expect there to be A LOT of succession occurring amongst advisors within our industry and, at the same time, A LOT of wealth will be transferring amongst consumers. This will cause a wave of consumers, both existing and new, to seek out new advisory relationships, specifically those offering fiduciary advice. This will further fuel the current trend of increasing numbers of advisors moving from the commission-based service model to the advice-based service model. I also believe there is going to be a much more diverse group of financial professionals moving into leadership roles throughout the industry and hopefully the number of women advisors will grow exponentially to represent more than just 20% or so of existing advisors. 



OraSure CFO resigns, vice president of investor relations to hold interim role

OraSure Technologies in Bethlehem will be getting a new chief financial officer. 

The company, which makes tests for diseases such as HIV and COVID-19, said that CFO Roberto Cuca has resigned from the company with his last day being Sept.17. 

OraSure has initiated a search for a permanent chief financial officer with the capabilities and qualifications to support the company’s strategic goals. 

Both internal and external candidates are being considered for the role. 

In the meantime, Scott Gleason, senior vice president of investor relations and corporate communications will be serving as interim CFO. 

The company said in a release that Cuca left to pursue an opportunity within the healthcare industry. 

His departure was not related to any disagreements or disputes with the management or the board of directors of the company on any matters including the company’s accounting principles, practices, financial statement disclosures, or compliance procedures.  

“I would like to thank Roberto for his service to the Company and wish him well in his future endeavors,” said OraSure President and CEO Stephen Tang, Ph.D. “We remain confident in the outlook for the company as we have seen significant recent demand for our InteliSwab COVID-19 Rapid Test and continuing recovery of our core businesses. As an executive team, we are also focused on our current strategic review process with an eye toward driving long-term growth and shareholder value.” 


Altitude Marketing names two partners

Laura Budraitis and Drew Frantzen –

Altitude Marketing of Emmaus has named two of its longtime staff members as partners. 

Laura Budraitis, vice president of client success and Drew Frantzen, vice president of creative and web were both offered and accepted partnership in the agency. 

In a press release the firm said that since Burdraitis and Frantzen joined Altitude they have been instrumental in the company’s six-year run of double digit over year growth and they have excelled in their leadership roles. 

“Laura and Drew have more than earned their seat at the leadership table and their piece of the pie,” said Andrew Stanten, president and CEO of Altitude. “Their leadership, vision and commitment have been key in helping us scale and navigate through the complex and ever-evolving world of B2B marketing.” 

Budraitis is responsible for onboarding, strategy development, account management and retention. She has a bachelor’s degree in marketing from DeSales University. 

Frantzen coordinates and directs the full creative department from multi-platform and multi-media campaigns to interactive web media. He oversees the agency’s web, design and programming teams. He has a bachelor’s degree in graphic design and illustration from Kutztown University. 

CBRE names Beares to lead regional market

Rija Beares –

CBRE has named Rija Beares to lead its Greater Philadelphia Region, which includes both the Lehigh Valley and Central Pennsylvania in addition to downtown and suburban Philadelphia, Delaware and Southern New Jersey.

In her new role as advisory services market leader, Beares will be responsible for driving the company’s growth strategy in the region and leading the company’s advisory services business including leasing, sales, valuations, debt and structured finance and property management.

“After a thorough review process, Rija emerged as the clear choice to take the Philadelphia business into the future,” said Michael Caffey, regional president for CBRE’s North Region. “Not only is she highly regarded as a leasing professional by her peers and clients, she is also well respected for her leadership qualities, work ethic and her ability to manage complex situations with aplomb.”

Beares joined CBRE in 2002, advising institutional and entrepreneurial owners in structuring lease transactions and developing lease-up strategies.

In 2010 she began focusing exclusively on representing corporate occupiers of real estate. She also served as the leader of CBRE’s technology and Media practice for the Greater Philadelphia region.

She will be based out of Radnor.

Sticker shock, supply shortages don’t keep contractor from success

Todd Garloff of Garloff Construction. PHOTO/SUBMITTED –

A Lehigh Valley construction contractor specializing in outdoor living spaces said there have been many challenges since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite that, Todd Garloff said his company, Garloff Construction, has benefited by the changes brought about by its impact.

Now, about a year and a half since the start of the pandemic, his Lehigh Valley-based business is stronger than ever and growing. Like many home contractors, Garloff found a bounce in demand shortly after the start of the pandemic. People weren’t travelling and were staying home more often so many were putting that money they would have spent on vacations into improving their own homes.

“I never saw a downturn, but I did see an increase about a month or two into the pandemic,” he said.

That increase hasn’t slowed down since, and with two major commercial decking projects coming up – one at an apartment complex in East Stroudsburg and one at a senior living complex in Bryn Mawr – he doesn’t expect it to slow down any time soon. Garloff builds decks out of wood and Trex composite materials.

That doesn’t mean there haven’t been challenges. The pandemic has led to shortages in materials and workers, which has led to cost increases for both. Lumber prices have risen drastically and the labor shortage forced him to increase wages for his staff of 12 from around $16 per hour to closer to $22.

Garloff Construction builds decks out of wood and Trex composite materials. PHOTO/SUBMITTED –

That’s meant passing on the increasing costs to the customers. Because of the ever-increasing lumber costs he’s also had to warn customers, who are often booking him for projects six months in advance, that materials costs could go up.

“The majority of customers have sticker shock,” he said.

But surprisingly, he said, the higher prices aren’t scaring away customers. While he’s sure that some customers have decided to put off having a deck installed until prices start coming down, he’s getting a stronger demand for larger projects.

Traditionally his average project would be a 12-foot-by-12-foot deck. Those usually cost around $15,000 or so. Lately, Garloff has been getting requests for much larger projects in the $70,000 to $80,000 range. He suspects it’s because the people who are getting decks now are people with more money.

But whatever the budget, Garloff said he tries to steer customers in the right direction and tries to discuss potential projects no matter how busy he gets.

“You have to be patient. I return every phone call,” he said.

Garloff, who is a retired police officer, began Garloff Construction about 15 years ago, starting part time on nights and weekends while still working for the police. Owning his own construction business was his retirement goal.

With the increased interest in home improvements – particularly in outdoor living spaces such as the ones his company builds – he hopes to grow the business even more.

“I’m always looking to grow the business,” he said.

He hopes through natural growth and adding services and divisions, the company will prosper post-pandemic.

Weather Trends returning to the office with even cooler atmosphere

Like many businesses, Weather Trends International Inc. closed its offices and sent employees to work remotely from home when the COVID-19 pandemic hit last March.

During that time the company, which provides long-term weather forecasting, has been adapting and changing to meet the different needs of its clients. For example, with the decline in bricks and mortar retail, the need for seasonal forecasting for retailers has shifted to adapt to the needs of a more ecommerce based system.

The company, concerned about any loss of customers it may have in that area, also expanded its offerings. While in the end it didn’t lose any customers from the changing business landscape, the outreach did add a couple of new clients.

Weather Trends now provides seasonal allergy reports for the Allergy and Asthma Association and is providing meteorological services for a major new weather channel. The company had its first live test broadcast on the channel Aug. 11.

Bill Kirk, CEO and co-founder of the company, decided with the growth now was the time to get back to the office. But, if he was going to ask employees to leave the comfort of their homes and return to an office setting, he was going to make it worth their while.

Weather Trends has moved into a new office at One Bethlehem Plaza in Bethlehem that promises a view worth waiting for.

Kirk already had some pretty impressive décor in the original Weather Trends office. Playing on his name – being a former Air Force Captain made him a real Captain Kirk – the old office was decked out in a Star Trek theme that was impressive enough to be on the cover of Lehigh Valley Business’ 2018 Coolest Offices in the Lehigh Valley edition.

With the new eighth-floor, downtown Bethlehem office, Kirk thinks the company has outdone itself.

“It’s even more spectacular than it was before,” he said.

Yes, there is still a Star Trek Enterprise-themed studio for him to report out of, but he added a little more to the office setting.

Meteorologists like weather. It’s why they got into the business. But, weather is outside and the office is inside. So, Kirk designed an office that would bring the outside to his staff.

“We made the office look like a Bethlehem city street,” Kirk said.

The company worked with Frank T. Smith Photography, Mission Plant, Corporate Environments and Girl on the Hill framing to create the effect of a person walking down a cobblestone street, complete with realistic bushes and trees, instead of walking through corporate offices.

“It’s kind of like a great reset,” he said.

In addition to the faux indoors, the office also boasts an impressive view of the city, and staffers can peek out the window to catch a glimpse of the weather they are reporting on.

“We can see in all directions. It allows the team to see the world. Last week we saw a thunderstorm that was over 180 miles away,” Kirk said. “When you’re inside you really feel like your outside.”

While key personnel have already returned to the office, Kirk said he is hoping the rest of his Bethlehem staff will be returning to the office in the fall as they embark on the next phase of their business.

PPL updates net-zero carbon emission plans

PPL Corp. of Allentown has set a new goal to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The company is currently on track to achieve a 70% reduction from 2010 levels by 2035, and an 80% reduction from 2010 levels by 2040, it said.

The latest goals, which cover greenhouse gas emissions from generation and other sources, reflect updated forecasts, analyses and ongoing business as well as the company’s expanded efforts to invest in the research and development of clean energy technologies.

“PPL is fully committed to driving innovation that enables us to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 and ensuring a balanced, responsible and just transition for our employees, communities and customers as we advance toward our clean energy goals,” said  Vincent Sorgi, PPL president and CEO.

PPL is undertaking a company-wide effort to enhance its clean energy transition strategy and is working with a global consulting firm to assist it in its efforts.

Azzur Labs expands into Chicago area

Azzur Labs, which is headquartered in Schnecksville, is expanding into a new location in Chicago.

The Chicago Lab, which will be run by Cecil Runyon, will be opening in the third quarter of 2021 to meet the company’s growing demand for professional analytical testing and consulting services for the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and health care industries in that region.

Runyon had been running Azzur’s Raleigh-based operation, which it established in 2018.

Jorge Marques Signes will be taking over the Raleigh-based operations.

“Azzur Labs is excited to welcome both Cecil and Jorge as leaders on our team,” said Kym Faylor, President of Azzur Labs. “They both play an integral role in our ability to grow alongside our valued clients and the rapid growth of the life science industry.”

With full-scale operations in the Lehigh Valley, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Raleigh, and San Diego, Azzur Labs provides professional analytical compliance testing and consultative services for the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and medical device industries.

FedEx announces plans for an additional 1,000 new hires

After announcing in May that it plans to hire 1,000 workers for its Breinigsville facility, FedEx announced today that it is looking to hire an addition 1,000 workers for positions throughout its Lehigh Valley footprint.

The company said the additional help is needed as online sales continue to increase as the economy rebounds.

Open positions are available for package handlers to load and unload packages.

Many of these positions may become full-time job opportunities as the company continues to expand capacity in response to ongoing customer demand, it said in a release.

FedEx said it is looking to hire for day, night and weekend positions.

Applicants must be at least 18 years old, but no specific training or education is required.