The new healers; Respect and acceptance for alternative medicine grows in the Lehigh Valley.

Marisa McFadden helps heal the hurting. An alternative medicine practitioner, she employs a combination of psychic intuition, energy-work and shaman-like exercises at Creative Spirit, her Easton-based therapy practice, to bring forth each client’s fullest human potential.

“Essentially, my work is a process of “reading” a person’s energy and working to transform it,” she said.

Not too long ago, many of us would have shaken our heads with skepticism at a practice like McFadden’s, but times have changed.  The global alternative medicine market was valued at $82.3 billion in 2020, according to a 2021 report by Grand View Research, a California-based market research firm. And that number is expected to grow by 22% over the next 10

Jen Sinclair, program director at the Cancer Support Community of the Lehigh Valley, an Allentown-based nonprofit, has seen this growth firsthand. Respect for complementary therapies has risen in both patients and traditional physicians in recent years, she said.

“Doctors are referring their patients to alternative therapies now,” Sinclair said, “and patients are more inclined than ever to discuss these options with their doctor.”

Both Lehigh Valley Health Network and St. Luke’s University Health Network often refer cancer patients for alternative therapies at the CSCLV, Sinclair said. The organization offers workshops in meditation, art therapy, nutrition, and gentle movement that can complement traditional oncology treatment.

“It’s integrative more than alternative,” Sinclair said. “It’s not either/or. Patients are employing both in their healing journey.”

In fact, she has seen patients with stage 4 cancer recover with the help of alternative therapy. “Their physicians have said, ‘I’m not sure what you are doing right, but keep doing it,” she said.

Creative Spirit’s McFadden doesn’t try to manage those who doubt the scientific validity of her practice. “I don’t and I can’t” she said. “Ultimately, the only proof I can offer is the testimony of my clients whose lives I’m proud to have helped in profound ways. “

One of her clients, a young man who struggled to connect with his family, found a new peace with himself and his parents and siblings after several sessions, she said. “We were able to transform his family from a quiet one who lost the ability and will to interact, into one that spent time digging into their genealogy, traveling together and creating a future that is loving and harmonious.”

McFadden credits her clients with doing the work of collaborating with her on their own inner journey. ‘I’m so honored to have been a conduit for the healing energy that transpires within them,” she said.

Stephani-lila Murdoch is an Easton-based alternative medicine practitioner who has been working as a certified Trager therapist for decades, and is now training others in the practice.

The Trager approach uses gentle, non-intrusive hands-on table work and self-care movements to relieve pain and increase mobility and inner peace, she said.

“I have seen great improvement with those who have had concussions,” she said, “as well as TMJ, migraines, hip and knee replacements, and those who may just want to go deeper into a relaxed feeling of fluidity within their bodies.”

That meditative experience is part of what draws patients to the alternative practice of Reiki, too, according to Michelle Zenie, an Allentown-based certified Reiki master. Reiki is a Japanese word meaning universal life energy. This ancient Japanese “energy work” involves a practitioner moving around the client’s body, Zenie said, and adjusting their hands’ positions as they go.  Attention is given to the seven chakras or energy centers throughout the body.

“The patient may feel nothing but many report feeling warmth, tingling or pulsing,” she said. “Some see colors during the session or feel strong emotions. Most people feel a sense of relaxation and peacefulness.”

Patients with chronic headaches, joint pain, digestive and reproductive issues, and depression and anxiety have all reported some relief after her sessions, Zenie said.

“But you truly must be open to the idea that it can work for it to work,” she said. “If that is not the case, then it is simply not the right tool for you.”

For Zenie, Murdoch, and McFadden, mainstream western medicine’s surgery, medication and acute care all have their place if needed. Complementary modalities like reiki and Trager are additional tools that can be integrated into our wellness regime, they say.

Too often people look to alternative medicine when all else fails, McFadden said. When a cancer patient has run out of options or a mother is at a loss for how to help her child, they will find their way to an alternative medicine practitioner.

“What they very often find though is that healing is not just about restoring our bodies to their prime conditions and keeping illness at bay,” she said. “Instead, it is about helping the mind and the spirit thrive in the face of fear and uncertainty.”

“Healing,” she said, “is about the restoration of hope and possibility.”

Pharmaceutical packing manufacturer announces $42.9M expansion in Lehigh Valley

The new Sharp manufacturing facility in Macungie. PHOTO/SHARPSERVICES.COM


A pharmaceutical packaging manufacturer will be investing in a $42.9 million expansion in the Lehigh Valley, creating more than 335 new jobs over the next years.

Sharp, which offers advanced clinical supply chain services and contract pharmaceutical packaging, already has facilities in Allentown and Conshohocken.

The new facility will be located in the borough of Macungie. Sharp acquired the property from Quality Packaging Specialists International LLC.

“Our focus as always is to invest to better serve our clients and their patients, and the acquisition of the Macungie facility will help us to support their needs immediately and for years to come. Its proximity to our Centers of Excellence in Allentown will allow us to leverage existing capabilities and help us to continue delivering efficiently while growing our capacity,” said Kevin Orfan president of Sharp.

Sharp will increase its manufacturing capacity by upgrading and partially repurposing some of its four-facility Allentown campus, upgrading and obtaining new machinery and equipment for its two-facility Conshohocken campus and renovating and equipping the new 170,000-square-foot facility it recently acquired in Macungie.

The state Department of Community and Economic Development offered Sharp a $140,400 workforce development grant through the WEDnetPA program to help the company train workers, a $1.25 million Pennsylvania First grant, and $670,000 in Job Creation Tax Credits to be distributed when the new jobs are created.

“My administration is thrilled to support Sharp – whose history in the Lehigh Valley is established and dates back decades – as it continues to expand and grow its teams and capabilities in the commonwealth,” said Gov. Tom Wolf. “This expansion is a testament to the strength of Pennsylvania’s manufacturing sector and will bring new jobs and opportunities, at a critical time in pandemic recovery, to all three facilities and their communities.”

Sharp, which is part of UDG Healthcare plc, has an international footprint with facilities in the United Kingdom, Belgium and the Netherlands

Ballparks, hotels, housing projects and museums among those vying for state redevelopment grants

Jaindl Land Co. is seeking $2.1 million for its planned Lehigh Valley Resort and Spa project in Lehigh Township, Northampton County. PHOTO/FILE


Renovations at Coca-Cola Park in East Allentown and FirstEnergy Stadium in Reading are among the dozens of projects vying for grants from the Pennsylvania Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program.

Another major request is funding for the Da Vinci Science Center’s proposed project in Downtown Allentown and the redevelopment at the site of the Boyd Theatre in Bethlehem.

So is a new security checkpoint and terminal connector for Lehigh Valley International Airport, an expansion for Sanofi Pasteur’s Influenza vaccine plant in Pocono Township and ArtsQuest’s planned Banana Factory overhaul in South Side Bethlehem.

Businesses and organizations can request grants for the acquisition and construction of regional economic, cultural, civic, recreational and historical improvement projects.

The submissions must have a regional or multi-jurisdictional impact and generate substantial increases or maintain current levels of employment, tax revenues or other measures of economic activity to qualify.

For Coca-Cola Park, LV Baseball LP is asking for $5 million to expand the clubhouse, male and female locker rooms and training facility, and for a center field entrance to accommodate shifting the parking because of development in an adjacent lot.

At FirstEnergy Stadium, Reading Baseball LP is asking for $7.5 million to construct a three-story structure to house the home and visiting clubhouses and a women’s locker room as well as indoor event space. Two new bullpens will also be built outside as part of the project.

The Da Vinci Science Center is seeking $8 million towards the construction of a long-anticipated 67,300-square-foot science center in Downtown Allentown. The center will promote STEM learning and will have a 150-seat demonstration theater, a café and gift shop.

Lin Erickson, executive director and CEO of Da Vinci said in a previous statement that the project “will improve access to high-quality STEAM education, drive economic development and enhance the quality of life for residents of the Lehigh Valley.”

As part of the project, Da Vinci plans to create a science and arts walk and an entry plaza that will connect with parking at the PPL Center Arena.

The Lehigh Northampton Airport Authority is seeking $5 million to create a new four-lane security screening checkpoint with an elevated terminal connector. The project also includes four new elevators and four new escalators to meet ADA standards and a state-of-the-art air purification system.

In Pocono Township, Sanofi Pasteur is seeking more than $3 million to help with its Phase 3 expansion and infrastructure support at multiple locations. Among other things, the project would bring HVAC systems into a now unused portion of its legacy building. It would also make efficiency improvements to its Influenza vaccine filling facility.

ArtsQuest is seeking $3.5 million for its plans to construct a new 80,000-square-foot arts and culture center at the site of the current Banana Factory Art Center. It would include studio work space, gallery space, classrooms, meeting spaces and a comedy theater.

In other major projects, Jaindl Land Co. is seeking $2.1 million for its planned Lehigh Valley Resort and Spa project in Lehigh Township, Northampton County to renovate nearly 134,000 square feet of the former Mary Immaculate Seminary and St. John Neumann Building. The company is turning the site into a destination hotel with an event venue, restaurants and full-service spa.

The property, which has been vacant for many years, sits back from the main road on one of the highest spots in Northampton County.

“It’s a beautiful structure, it’s in great condition,” David Jaindl said in a previous interview with Lehigh Valley Business. “We are trying to repurpose it. We are keeping the chapel, which will be a wedding venue.”

Plamen Ayvazov is seeking $15 million for the Boyd Theatre III project in Bethlehem to demolish the building and build a new mixed-use building. The project will include apartments, restaurants and retail on the city’s Broad Street. The theater has been vacant for years after suffering significant storm damage.

Our City Reading Inc. is seeking $3 million for the creation of the GoggleWorks Annex Apartments in Reading. This project will create an environment where Berks-area artists can live and work.

ByHeart Inc. is seeking $5.8 million to add a canning line and end-use dry blending to the Exeter township infant formula manufacturing site.

Vanick Properties Inc. is seeking $3 million to construct a medical and office building on South 11th Street in Reading.

Doylestown Hospital is seeking $5 million for its Doylestown Hospital Children’s Village.

Catasauqua Borough is seeking nearly $700,000 towards Phase II of the development of the former Crane Iron Works.

KidsPeace is seeking $1.9 million for renovations at its North Whitehall Township campus.

The Allentown Housing Authority is seeking $2 million for affordable housing in the Little Lehigh Redevelopment.

Lehigh Valley Health Network is seeking $3.7 million for expansion at its neonatal intensive care unit on its Salisbury Campus.

Great Wolf Lodge of the Poconos is seeking $10.8 million for infrastructure improvements at its Pocono Township resort.

Hawthorne Mount Pocono Luxury Resort is seeking $2 million for development of new suites, hotel rooms, cabins and event space in Paradise Township.

205 E High St LLC is seeking $500,000 to help put the former Anchor Building in Pottstown back into use.

Days Restart is seeking $5 million for the Dutchtown Commons project in Easton.

Collaboration 3 LLC is seeking $1 million for its Goodman Building project in the South Side Bethlehem arts district.

Heritage Riverview LP is seeking $750,000 for the redevelopment of the former Heritage Lanes building in Easton.

Lehigh Riverport Investors Fund LP is seeking $750,000 for the development of the Riverport Public Market in Bethlehem.

The National Museum of Industrial History is seeking $2.75 million for a second-floor expansion at its Bethlehem museum.

Bethlehem Parking Authority is seeking $9.5 million for the Walnut Street Parking Garage project.

Public comments on the requests are being accepted through May 12.

For the complete list of all RACP funding requests click HERE.

J.G. Petrucci buys Iron Run properties in Upper Macungie

6980 Snowdrift Rd., Upper Macungie Township PHOTO/CBRE


J.G. Petrucci Co. Inc. has expanded its industrial portfolio with the acquisition of two properties on Snowdrift Road in Upper Macungie Township.

CBRE had been marketing the properties and negotiated the sale on behalf of the former owner, Penwood Real Estate Management.

Penwood, of West Hartford, Conn., is a real estate investment advisory firm that was formed in 2003 and is dedicated to managing value-added real estate investments in the institutional market.

Petrucci, which has offices in Bethlehem, currently owns and operates over 4.5 million square feet of commercial, industrial, retail and residential properties.

The two Iron Run Lehigh properties at 6980 and 7020 Snowdrift Rd. total 135,082 square feet and are fully occupied with five major tenants.

Penwood renovated both properties while they were under its ownership.

6980 Snowdrift Rd., which is a 99,782-square-foot facility sitting on 10.59 acres, was renovated in 2018.

The other property, 7020 Snowdrift Road is a 41,390-square-foot property sitting on 4.09 acres. It was renovated in 2017.

“Iron Run has endured as one of the Lehigh Valley’s most consistent, well-located light industrial concentrations,” said CBRE’s Brad Ruppel. “These two buildings and their diverse tenant roster are emblematic of the adaptive functionality of this park. Investors continue to recognize the draw of locating at the heart of the region’s dynamic logistics infrastructure and labor concentrations.”

Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

CBRE 1-78/I-81 Commercial Real Estate Report: ‘If you build it they will come’

Berks Park 78- 20 Martha Drive, Bethel PHOTO/CBRE


Commercial real estate experts were expecting 2020’s industrial development boom to continue, but Mike Hess, senior vice president of CBRE in the Harrisburg office said industrial development along the I-78/I-81 corridor was even stronger than expected during the first quarter of the year.

The corridor, which runs through Central Pennsylvania, Northeastern Pennsylvania and the Lehigh Valley is literally busting at the seams and is growing rapidly with new construction projects to meet the demand.

According to the most recent CBRE market report vacancy rates are down to a low 6.3% and the absorption rate was high.

“There has been more than 3 million square feet of net absorption so far this year,” Hess said.

With 13 million square feet of space absorbed in all of 2020, “the Lehigh Valley, Northeast and Central Pa. are very well on to track to meet or exceed that.”

In response to an uptick in demand during 2020, developers grew the construction pipeline to 18 million square feet. Specifically, Central PA and the Lehigh Valley recorded over 3.2 million sq. ft. in new construction activity.

He expects that to be snapped up quickly by light industrial and logistics tenants, noting that even as construction increases, absorption rates have been keeping up with the rate of construction over the past several years. In 2015, for example, he said there was 8.4 million square feet of industrial construction with 7.9 million square feet leased out.

“It’s almost, to the square foot, balanced what gets built to what gets absorbed,” Hess said.

And while all that growth sounds great for the economy, it does have its drawbacks.

“We are going to be in the position where we are undersupplied,” he said.

The majority of sites that are good for development are already underdevelopment, and most likely already have tenants lined up, he said.

That has increased speculative development significantly.

Basically, to meet the pace of demand, developers can’t wait for a tenant to come to them. They need to have inventory ready so tenants can move in on the faster timetable that the market demands.

“You have to get out there and take a risk on the market, and those who have done it have been rewarded,” he said.

Even as the sector moves into the second quarter of the year, new projects are entering the pipeline.

“This whole region has turned out to be a spec market. If you build it they will come,” Hess said.

But for those companies looking to locate manufacturing or logistics facilities along the I-78/I-81 corridor – prices are skyrocketing. Just over last year, rents across the board have risen 20% to 25% going from an average of about $4.50 per square foot to about $5.50 and he expects rents to continue to trend upward.But, he said, it isn’t just a money grab, construction costs are also rising dramatically.

With the scarcity of land, commercial real estate space is selling for almost $40 per square foot right now, compared to only $20 per square foot in 2020.

Materials are also more expensive and harder to come by. In the competitive steel beam market prices are about $16 per square foot, $2 more than last year and there is a 40- to 50-week lead time on orders. Developers need to order what they need in advance so they have the materials in place in time for the start of construction. “Because of all these factors, new projects are going to have to have higher rentals,” he said.

With the high demand for such space developers and tenants are willing to pay the higher prices. “Industrial has become the new retail,” Hess said, and companies in apparel, consumer goods and food are looking to have production and distribution in the region.

Investors are also willing to pay the price.

The report said even though overall capital markets activity cooled slightly in the first quarter of 2021, it still generated more than $100 million in investment activity, and 2020 ended the year achieving nearly $1 billion in total capital markets activity.

The Lehigh Valley’s logistics boom is impacting wages, construction and infrastructure

Prologis Valley West in Alburtis is one of the new logistics centers currently in the pipeline along the I-78/I-80 corridor. PHOTO COURTESY CBRE


Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, growth in the e-commerce, logistics and transportation industries, which were already booming in the Lehigh Valley, has gone full tilt.

According to the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corp., the Lehigh Valley’s gross domestic product for transportation and warehousing was $2.5 billion in 2019, and while newer numbers are not available, job growth statistics indicate that number should be dramatically higher today.

The number of jobs in the logistics industry grew from 22,005 in 2015 to 34,477 in 2020, according to the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corp.

Reading-based Penske Logistics, which employs more than 10,000 truck drivers across the country, said the demand for drivers in the region is strong.

“We are seeing tremendous demand for truck drivers in the Lehigh Valley; it’s one of the most challenging driver markets in the country,” said Jeff Jackson, senior vice president of operations for dedicated contract carriage at Penske Logistics. “The local transportation companies that we hire to service our customers, to pick up and deliver freight regionally, have been kept busy by the work we have given them. These small companies in the greater Reading-central Pennsylvania-Lehigh Valley markets appear to be doing well in this environment.”

That demand for workers in the sector has led to higher wages, according to Don Cunningham, president and CEO of the LVEDC. Because of the demand, workers in the sector had an average weekly salary of $844 in Lehigh and Northampton counties by the third quarter of 2020. That’s led to nearly full-employment in the sector, he said. Even low-skilled labor at these logistics facilities are seeing starting wages that are generally higher than $15 an hour.

“These are wages we’ve not seen in our history for non-skilled workers,” Cunningham said. “Most regions in the country would kill to have full-employment for their non-skilled labor population.”

The need for logistics space, which includes pack-and-ship companies like Amazon, retail aggregators, like Zullily, third-party logistics providers and direct-to-consumer ecommerce companies, has kept the construction industry hopping.

The Lehigh Valley had nearly 9 million square feet of industrial and flex space under construction at the end of 2020, Cunningham said. By that measure, Lehigh Valley’s construction activity was among the busiest in the nation, ranking only behind Nashville and Austin. Much of that was in the logistics sector, he said.

Growth in the sector is so strong, the only thing hampering its expansion at this point is the availability of land, he said.

The pace continues

And, the construction isn’t slowing down. Much of it is in providing infrastructure needed to accommodate the increased traffic coming in and out of the region.

Lehigh Valley International Airport just announced plans to build space to meet the increased air cargo coming into the Hanover Township, Lehigh County airport. Since 2016 LVIA has seen a 165% increase in cargo traffic — going from processing 47 million pounds to more than 126 million in 2019 and 210 million during the COVID-19 bump last year.

The Lehigh Northampton Airport Authority recently hired Aviation Facilities Company Management LLC of Dulles, Virginia, to plan and develop portions of the airport’s property to help plan cargo, logistics and other airport facilities to help meet the demand.

“Developing air cargo infrastructure remains a strategic goal for the Airport Authority,” said Thomas R. Stoudt, executive director, LNAA.  “Partnering with the AFCO team on this important initiative will allow Lehigh Valley International to better serve our current air cargo demand, while providing expansion opportunities for new and existing businesses. This partnership will increase the ability of cargo carriers to serve the growing demand in our region.”

The increase in traffic, including truck traffic, has also led to the widening of a number of roadways in the Lehigh Valley, including Route 22 and Route 412. Right now the region is feeling the growing pains of the transition to a logistics-heavy region, with increased truck traffic and the sprawl of big-box buildings into suburban and rural areas. But, he said, with the infrastructure improvements that are coming, traffic issues should ease in the future.

“You need to adapt and you need to adjust, and that’s exactly what the Lehigh Valley is doing,” Cunningham said.

While issues like open space and farmland preservation are an important concern in the community and developers should be mindful of the impact of the construction boom, Cunningham said the growth is coming from the demand right in the community.

“Ask yourself how many products have you been ordering online and having them delivered to your door,” He said. “”Every package that has been delivered to my door versus me going to the store – that’s a truck that brings it.”

But for those concerned by the fast development of logistics and ecommerce facilities and the number of trucks on the road, Cunningham said he believes the boom is slowing.

“I think we’ve peaked as far as the large scale build out of logistics,” he said. “But, it’s still a great place to move your product and it’s also a great place to make your product.”

Voting begins for Lehigh Valley’s What’s So Cool About Manufacturing contest

Bangor Area Middle School Students produced a video at B Brawn in Bethlehem, calling the manufacturer one of the heroes of the pandemic. SOURCE/WHATSSOCOOL.ORG


Voting begins today for the eighth year of the “What’s So Cool About Manufacturing” Lehigh Valley contest.

Organized by the Manufacturers Resource Center, the contest pairs area manufacturers with middle-school students who teach them about the work they do. Later, the students create a video about what’s so cool about the manufacturer.

The contest, which started in the Lehigh Valley, but has now spread across the state with individual local contests, is designed to encourage young people to explore careers in manufacturing, where there is a high demand for skilled labor.

Members of the public can vote through April 9 for what they think is the best of the student videos. Those students will be honored with this year’s “Viewers Choice Award.”

A panel of judges will award honors in six other categories including Outstanding Career Pathway and Outstanding Creativity.

While the MRC usually hosts a large event to celebrate the wrap up of the competition, this year’s awards program will be taped in advance because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It will then be aired on WFMZ TV and streamed on WFMZ.com on April 26 at 7 p.m.

Members of the public can view the videos and vote at  https://www.whatssocool.org.

Center for Vision Loss to become Sights for Hope

Sights for Hope will be putting its new name on the organization’s vehicles that transport clients who have visual impairments. PHOTO/SUBMITTED


Lehigh Valley-based Center for Vision Loss is looking to drop the negative and concentrate on the positive of what the organization does with a name change it is announcing today.

Starting April 6, the nonprofit agency will be known as Sights for Hope. The organization empowers people living with visual impairment and promotes health eyesight throughout the Lehigh Valley and Monroe County.

“We have been working on this transition for quite some time now, and we are very pleased with the end result,” said Dennis Zehner, executive director of Sights for Hope. “Many organizations like ours across the country are committing to similar name changes in the interest of championing and empowering people instead of focusing on a challenge they face.”

Sights for Hope considered more than 200 names in the last 18 months before choosing Sights for Hope. The name will go on the organization’s vehicles that transport clients who have visual impairments to medical appointments, grocery stores, and to in-person agency services.

To help get the word out about the new, more positive name, Sights for Hope is launching a Sips 4 Sight promotion at participating restaurants and businesses that will sell Yeti ramblers with the new Sights for Hope logo.

Billboards and other public-facing advertising will be placed throughout the service area, touting Sights for Hope.

The Lehigh Valley IronPigs minor league baseball team is also supporting a campaign to publicize the nonprofit’s work.

PPL Corp. promotes two executives to senior roles

From left to right: Stephanie R. Raymond, Gregory N. Dudkin


PPL Corp. of Allentown named Gregory Dudkin executive vice president and COO.

Dudkin brings 40 years of experience in energy and telecommunications operations to his new role. He has been serving as president of PPL Electric Utilities, the company’s electric utility subsidiary, since 2012. He joined PPL Electric Utilities in 2009 as senior vice president of operations.

Prior to joining PPL, he served as Comcast’s senior vice president of technical operations and fulfillment and as a regional senior vice president for the telecommunications company.

Stephanie Raymond, vice president of distribution operations, will succeed Dudkin as president of PPL Electric Utilities.

She joined PPL Electric Utilities in 2011 as director of project and contract management.

Before PPL Electric Utilities, she served as chief operating officer of CablenetServices Inc. and in numerous senior leadership positions for Comcast Cable Communications, General Fiber Communications, International Fibercom Inc. and All Star Telecom.

“As we strategically reposition PPL to focus squarely on high-performing energy companies in the U.S., the promotions of Greg and Stephanie will help us build on our strong performance record and create additional value for all stakeholders,” said Vincent Sorgi, PPL’s president and CEO.

In his new role, Dudkin will report to Sorgi and oversee PPL’s regulated utility operations in the U.S., with the heads of PPL’s Pennsylvania and Kentucky utility operations reporting to him.

In her new role, Raymond will oversee electricity delivery and customer service to 1.4 million homes and businesses in eastern and central Pennsylvania, as well as PPL Electric Utilities’ continued investments in infrastructure and technology to improve service to customers.

Bethlehem ShopRite workers get faces on cereal box

Joe Colalillo, chairman and CEO of ShopRite, speaks at the ShopRite of Bethlehem. PHOTO/SUBMITTED


Many young athletes dream of growing up and having their picture on a Wheaties box, but for staff at ShopRite stores, getting on a Cheerios box is the big honor.

Photos of 100 ShopRite associates will appear on limited-edition Cheerios boxes as part of an annual tradition recognizing associates for fighting hunger in the communities where ShopRite stores operate.

This year two Lehigh Valley staffers, Bethlehem ShopRite associates Kira Freeman and Terri Gudzinas of Easton, will be featured on the box.

The store associates are featured on the box, which was unveiled at in-store ceremonies, in recognition of their fundraising efforts to support regional food banks.

To earn a spot on the cereal box, ShopRite associates participate in the annual ShopRite Partners In Caring Cheerios Contest competition sponsored by ShopRite and General Mills.

The staffers helped to collect donations at check-out and in-store. The campaign also encouraged customers to round their grocery purchases up to the nearest dollar to help in the effort.

ShopRite and General Mills recognize the 45 top fundraising ShopRite stores. These winning stores then select two ShopRite associates to be featured on the Cheerios box. The customized cereal boxes are sold exclusively at ShopRite.

“This past year we saw food banks working overtime as more families found themselves facing food insecurity during the pandemic,” said Rob Zuehlke, ShopRite’s manager of Corporate Social Responsibility. “We’re proud to be able to support these regional food banks in the Feeding America network and extend a sincere thank you to our hardworking associates and generous customers who sustain this annual contest and make a difference in our communities.”

In addition to the unveiling, each ShopRite location presented a $500 donation to a local food bank, made possible by the prize money received from the contest.

The company-wide fundraising efforts this year raised $1 million for regional food banks.

NovaTech names Conrad Oakey as new CEO

Conrad Oakey


The next generation is taking over at NovaTech in Quakertown.

Conrad Oakey will assume the role of CEO from his father, Volker Oakey, who will stay on as chair of the board of directors.

Volker Oakley has owned and led NovaTech since 1979. The company provides automation solutions for electric utilities and process manufacturers around the world. Over the years it has acquired companies such as GSE Systems in 2003 and Bitronics in 2008.

Recently, NovaTech made changes to integrate its power and process divisions to increase its ability to sell across its traditional market segments and streamline operations.

“With these changes, the time to introduce a new CEO felt right,” said Volker Oakey. “We have a strong and energetic group of leaders. Conrad has been preparing for this for most of his life. I could not be more proud to make this handoff. I am confident and excited about the future of the company.”

He noted that Conrad Oakey has been involved in the company since he was a young boy and has worked for NovaTech in a variety of positions for the past 23 years.

He was instrumental in developing the company’s digital presence, helped establish succession planning and increased the company’s media presence.

Since 2018 he has served as NovaTech’s vice president of strategy and communications.

He received a dual B.A. in Chemistry and Studio Art from Williams College in 1998. In 2013, he received an MBA from Duke University, Fuqua School of Business.