Air Products lands contract with Malaysian memory chip maker

Air Products of Trexlertown has been awarded a long-term contract in Malaysia to provide nitrogen to a global manufacturer of memory chips.

Air Products will install a proprietary PRISM cryogenic nitrogen generator to supply high purity on-site gaseous nitrogen, and a significant volume of liquid nitrogen to the new facility, located in an industrial park in Penang.

The gases will be used in the customer’s chip assembly processes and cold testing of the memory products, helping improve product quality, productivity, and environmental performance.

“We are honored by the continued trust of our customer in our capability to support their growth plans with this significant investment in Malaysia,” said Alex Tan, president of Air Products Southeast Asia. “Malaysia is one of the largest exporters of electrical and electronics products.”

He said contract will further strengthen Air Products’ long-standing relationship with its global customer and its leading position to serve the fast-growing electronics markets.

Air Products has been operating in Malaysia since 1974.

J.B. and Kathleen Reilly to Co-Chair 2020 Campaign for United Way of Greater Lehigh Valley

J.B. and Kathleen Reilly of City Center Investment Corporation will lead the 2020 United Way campaign for United Way of Greater Lehigh Valley. PHOTO/SUBMITTED –


J.B. and Kathleen Reilly will co-chair the 2020 campaign for United Way of Greater Lehigh Valley (UWGLV), it was announced Thursday. J.B. Reilly is president of City Center Investment Corporation, a real estate development and management company located in Allentown.

The couple urged community members to step up as much as possible this year to provide support for those who have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Reports indicate at least 40 percent of households in the Greater Lehigh Valley are facing serious financial instability and food insecurity due to the pandemic, according to UWGLV.

“We’re asking long-time and new supporters of United Way to dig deep and do the most they can do this year,” said Kathleen Reilly. “This really is the time to step up in the biggest way possible, so that we can get support into the communities that need it most.”

The campaign, which runs through March 31, 2021, will raise funds to meet community members’ basic needs such as housing through critical services in the areas of education, emergency services, food access and healthy aging.

“As long-time supporters of United Way, we’re honored to be co-chairs of this campaign,” said J.B. Reilly. “Given the extraordinary circumstances this year with the pandemic, our community needs are greater than ever, and we need United Way’s leadership more than ever. When you support United Way, you’re going to see that the community gets the biggest possible impact of your generosity.”

David Lewis, president of UWGLV, said the Reillys, who have been active with a wide array of regional community and charitable organizations for more than 25 years, are well-suited to lead this year’s important campaign.

“It will take months, maybe even years, for our families to recover from the pandemic, and I can’t think of anyone better to rally support than J.B. and Kathleen,” Lewis said. “They are truly devoted to building our community and providing those critical resources for our children, families and older adults.”

The Reillys have been recognized for their longstanding support of various local organizations, including the YMCA, The Baum School of Art, the Boys & Girls Club, Valley Youth House and Communities in Schools. The couple’s philanthropic support recently helped establish the Lehigh Valley Reilly Children’s Hospital.

J.B. Reilly is a trustee of Lafayette College, a former trustee of DeSales University and a former board member and chair of Lehigh Valley Health Network.

Kathleen serves as a trustee of DeSales University and The Baum School of Art. She is a former trustee of Moravian Academy and a former member of the Tocqueville Society’s Advisory Cabinet.

City Center Investment Corporation is credited with generating mixed-use development and community partnerships that have been instrumental to the revitalization of downtown Allentown.




Petrucci to build industrial facility in Nazareth

Sketch plan of the site J.G. Petrucci Co. plans to build in Nazareth. SUBMITTED –


J.G. Petrucci Co. Inc. has announced plans to develop a more than 240,000-square-foot industrial facility in Nazareth on a 23.51-acre site it recently acquired.

The site is at 4730 Hanoverville Road.  According to Northampton County records the property was purchased from Jacobsburg Realty LLC for $1.

The Bethlehem developer said the loecation of the property between Routes 512 and 22 made the site ideal for light industrial manufacturing or warehouse users seeking easy access to major distribution hubs.

Petrucci Executive Vice President Peter Polt, noted that the property is in an area that is already heavily industrial.

“4730 Hanoverville is a great opportunity to expand our light industrial and manufacturing portfolio,” said Polt. “We are seeing a great demand from smaller industrial users looking for manufacturing or warehouse space. This latest acquisition, coupled with our extensive experience in developing in that location, positions us to deliver the facility and meet demand in a timely manner.”

Petrucci’s most recent development in the Lehigh Valley was Lehigh Valley Flex Center, a 31-acre flex campus, which provides flexible lease options to meet light manufacturing and warehouse space demand.

Building I at the flex campus has been leased to the specialized food manufacturer, Stuffed Puffs, which will be leasing 150,000 additional square feet from Petrucci to expand its manufacturing operations.

“We’re building our portfolio,” said Polt.

He noted that Petrucci currently has more than 4.5 million square feet of industrial space in the Lehigh Valley, mostly small- to mid-sized properties.

To build ranks of ‘family doctors,’ St. Luke’s offers ‘nearly free’ med school education

Temple/St. Luke’s Medical School Class of 2020 PHOTO/SUBMITTED


To help create more family practice and internal medicine doctors, St. Luke’s University Health Network said it is offering a nearly free medical school education for a select group of students who seek degrees in those specialties.

St. Luke’s announced that it will provide more than $175,000 in tuition assistance for select medical school students who pursue a career in family medicine or general internal medicine and who choose to work at St. Luke’s after graduation.  Family medicine and general internal medicine doctors, who are generally referred to as primary care physicians, are in short supply in the Lehigh Valley and other parts of the nation, the health network said.

With 88.5 million Americans set to reach age 65 by 2050, compared to 40.2 million measured in 2010, the need for primary care physicians and providers will only continue to grow.

Medical school graduates, however, are often burdened with extreme debt, said Joel Rosenfeld, chief academic officer for St. Luke’s and senior associate dean at Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University.

“It’s a huge win for everyone,” Rosenfeld said. “We will be able to help future physicians pursue the career they want, while essentially paying for their medical school costs. In turn, we will be able to grow our physician base and keep these vibrant, young doctors right here, in the Lehigh Valley.”

According to the health network, most medical school students are in their 30s and many are parents by the time they start their careers. The average resident earns $60,000 a year while being saddled with about $200,000 in student debt.

St. Luke’s and Temple recently expanded their 12-year-old education partnership, which split medical school between Bethlehem and Philadelphia. Previously, students could not take first-year classes at the Temple/St. Luke’s Regional Campus and complete their education at Temple. The expansion made Temple/St. Luke’s the only four-year medical school in the Lehigh Valley.

Current students already benefit from reduced tuition because of donors and programs that St. Luke’s offers; however, this new program will cover almost all tuition for participating students.

“We are proud of our relationship with St. Luke’s, which has grown throughout the years,” said Dr. John Daly, interim dean of LKSOM. “This substantial tuition program illustrates their dedication to their students and the community.”

The tuition assistance program is open to all medical students, not just Temple/St. Luke’s students.

To be eligible for the tuition reimbursement, students must be accepted into and complete their primary care residency with St. Luke’s and then commit to employment with St. Luke’s for a period of time as a primary care physician.

Students who do not commit to employment with St. Luke’s are still eligible for a modified level of reimbursement.

A Conversation With: Susan Larkin, vice president, COO of Allied Personnel Services in Allentown

Susan Larkin –


For 36 years Allied has been providing staffing and employment solutions to Lehigh Valley employers. Susan Larkin’s role as vice president and COO is to oversee operations and consult with Allied’s clients, develop strategic staffing programs and share critical labor market information based on the diverse insight and experience she has gained over her 25 years in the staffing industry.

LVB: There have been many changes in workforce needs since the COVID-19 pandemic began. What are you seeing?

Larkin: When the pandemic began there was a very high level of uncertainty for everyone.  While many businesses were forced to shut down and furlough workers, essential businesses were busier than ever. Complying with ever changing guidelines from the CDC and keeping employees safe has required many companies to significantly adjust their operations.  Despite high numbers of unemployment claims, recruiting and retaining workers remains difficult, and employees are struggling to manage the challenges presented by the pandemic.  As we approach the fall, many remain on the sidelines because of unresolved issues surrounding school and childcare.

LVB: Has it been keeping you busy?

Larkin: Absolutely!  We see a continued high demand for workers across all businesses, especially in the manufacturing and distribution sectors.  We recognize the vital role staffing plays in keeping our economy vibrant and supporting all of our long-term clients and employees has been our focus.  The skilled labor shortage has only become more intense with the pandemic, and we are continuing to work with our clients to develop creative strategies and programs to attract and retain talent in new ways.

LVB: Where do you see demand for workers trending in the future?

Larkin: There will be an increased demand for workers for the next several years.  As the pandemic pushes people to purchase goods online, the Lehigh Valley’s vast landscape of distribution centers will continue to thrive.  This continued demand will drive wages up, but the new labor market will require adjusting more than just wages.  As the competition for labor increases, all companies must also be able to adapt their operations to meet the new needs of employees. Adjusting job requirements, offering flexible schedules, and developing new training programs are just a few of the changes that businesses will need to implement in order to remain successful.

LVB: If someone is looking for work now, what do you recommend?

Larkin: Despite the pandemic, there are many employment opportunities right now.  It’s also a great time to get a true picture of a company—their culture, how they treat their customers and employees — based on how they responded to the pandemic.

We are seeing many entry-level opportunities that were not readily available prior to the pandemic.  Companies are much more willing to hire and train a worker with minimal relevant experience than they were just 6 months ago, so I encourage everyone to apply for positions they are interested in, even if it might feel like a stretch.

Be willing to adapt; many who have been furloughed from the hardest hit industries are going to need to become flexible for other types of opportunities.  Become familiar with the online video conferencing apps – Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Skype… most companies are utilizing these apps to conduct interviews remotely versus onsite.

My best advice is to engage with us. Staffing companies are uniquely positioned in times of uncertainty and can provide access to opportunities that are not otherwise available. These are certainly unprecedented times and the support, flexibility, and opportunities that Allied provides can help all job seekers.

A real SHE-shed: Girls build backyard shed at construction camp

The shed, built by advanced campers during the Let’s Build Construction Camp for Girls. PHOTO/SUBMITTED –


A Leigh Valley homeowner got a newly built shed for his back yard thanks to the Let’s Build Construction Camp for Girls.

The custom-built shed came to the winning bidder at Lehigh Valley Habitat for Humanity’s fundraising auction and was built by seven high school-aged girls who were advanced campers at this summer’s camp. The camp, which exposes girls to the building industry, is sponsored each year by ATAS International of Allentown, so the shed, of course, featured an ATAS metal roof.

Kevin Klersy and Tim Coughlan of ATAS’ technical services and inside technical sales departments helped with the installation of ATAS’ standing seam metal roof panels and trims.

A retractable awning was constructed with the same roof panels, which covers an opening on one side of the shed.  It has a bar on the outside, under which stools can be placed, and a countertop on the inside of the bar area.

The overall design process was guided by architect Samantha Ciotti Falcone, owner of SCF Architecture.

Volunteers from the local construction community provided instruction and helped the girls build the shed.

Let’s Build is a free week-long camp designed for high school age girls to explore construction trades, architecture, engineering, and construction materials manufacturing through hands-on experiences. ​ This was the first year for an advanced camp.

Jon Lattin, president of the Greater Lehigh Valley Chapter of CSI, and Kristen Fallon, regional vice president of member services of Eastern PA ABC, helped create and organize each year’s efforts for the annual camp

New sprinkler management device aims to save money and lives

Jim Seip and Jonathan Epstein with the Salamander Reservoir system they’ve developed to help commercial real estate owners manager their building’s sprinkler systems. PHOTO/SUBMITTED


It was a $2,000 bill for an overheated 10-by-10-foot room that led business partners Jonathan Epstein and Jim Seip to launch a new business with a product they’ve developed for commercial real estate managers – the Salamander Reservoir.

The partners are with Berger-Epstein Associations, an Allentown real estate development and management company.

They know the drill of prepping their properties for winter weather.

“Each fall, typically around November, property managers go into their sprinkler rooms to turn on/up the heat to prevent the risk of a sprinkler pipe freeze,” Epstein said. “Also, the same story in vacant spaces – gotta make sure the heat’s on so that the pipes won’t freeze.”

There are many problems with that, he said, especially for owners of a large number of properties who can’t always be on site. At one point Seip was managing 135 shopping centers and such maintenance issues were a big concern.

“At night I’d lay awake at night worrying about these things,” he said. “We hand it over to the guy who’s picking up the trash and depend on him to check on this for us.”

Once, he recalled, a manager left the heat set to 90 degrees in an office not much larger than an office cubicle. While it did keep the sprinkler system from freezing, it also led to a $2,000 heating bill for one month for Berger-Epstein.

They decided there had to be a better way for property owners to remotely manage the heat in a building to keep the important sprinkler systems from freezing and malfunctioning. There were already many remote property management systems available. “You can take the temperature, turn on the lights and open the blinds,” Seip said. But when they started looking more closely at the problem, they saw a gap in the data these systems were using to measure the amount of heat needed to keep sprinkler pipes functional should a fire break out.

The systems monitored the heat of the air of a room, just like a building manager would if he entered the building and checked the thermostat. “That’s always worked out pretty well, but it’s an incredible waste of energy,” Epstein said.

A better way was to measure the temperature of the water inside the sprinkler system’s pipes, he said. Water heats and cools slower than air and is a better data point to use to determine the temperature needed to keep the sprinklers’ water at the 45 degrees needed to ensure they don’t freeze.

“Since the air temperature is so volatile, using that as the threshold to initialize temperature is really using the wrong variable,” Epstein said.

That’s when they started developing the Salamander, a device that attaches to a sprinkler system as a reservoir and probe to monitor the temperature of the water inside.

They created a new business, JTJ Tech, to develop and market the new device and are now manufacturing it through third-party manufacturers in the Lehigh Valley. The Salamander Reservoir also works on dry sprinkler systems, Epstein said, they are just adapted to detect moisture leaks in a system – that can lead to failure – instead of the temperature.

The odd name for the product came from Seip’s son, Tyler, who is the T in JTJ Tech. He chose the name from the stories he’s heard about Salamanders surviving forest fires by burying themselves deep into the ground. With the device’s life-saving potential during a building fire, it seemed like the right fit.

The Salamander sells for under $1,000 per unit. A building would need one Salamander for each stand pipe it uses for a wet system and two for a dry system.

Epstein said the Salamander Reservoir system is now in use in most of the Berger-Epstein properties in the Lehigh Valley. All have gone through one winter season to prove their effectiveness in the real world.

The partners’ goal is to sell 25 units to other real estate investment firms in the region so that they can get testimonials from other REITS and get the product out to a wider market for next winter.

Mail delays give business owners heartburn with missed payments, late notices

After not getting mail for weeks, Mason Blanc in Allentown received a large pile of mail all at once. PHOTO/COURTESY MARJORIE MONAHAN –


A local planning consultant complained that he got a late notice for bills he had paid two weeks prior. An eye doctor had to warn patients that eyeglass prescriptions they ordered might not come in for more than 10 days because of mail delays. A freelance marketer is concerned that it will take longer for her to get payment checks from her clients – enough so that’s she’s asking to pick the checks up at their offices instead.

A wide variety of businesses are feeling the impact of a reduction in services at the United States Postal Service as new postmaster, Louis DeJoy, makes dramatic cutbacks to trim the budget on the heels of a slowdown that had already started because of the COVID-19 pandemic. While he said he will halt the cutbacks until after the November election because of concerns over mail-in ballots, critics are saying even delayed cutbacks are a big mistake.

There have been stories about people not getting life-saving medication in the mail on time with devastating results, and while no one is reporting major business disasters because of the delays many professionals remain concerned.

Marjorie Monahan, owner of Mason Blanc Catering in Allentown, said she saw troubling delays in mail service during the peak of the COVID-19 shutdown. Her business hadn’t received any mail for nearly five weeks, and then one day all of it came in through her office’s mail slot in one big pile.

“This was obviously piling up somewhere. I know it was because I know colleagues who were getting mail,” Monahan said.

Among the delayed mail was a number of certified letters and offers from vendors she wished she had received on time. It made her so nervous that she hand delivered important mail herself because shed didn’t trust Postal Service.

She has a great deal of concern for how any further delays would impact bill payments. “Especially when people need it right away for what they have to pay for,” she said.

Tina Hamilton, who runs MyHr Partners Inc. in Allentown, which handles corporate human relations contracts nationally, she said many of her clients are being impact by reduced mail service. “The big thing right now is that so many companies are working from home,” she said.

For many, that has made the mail a much more important resource for sending and receiving documents. “There are many businesses that rely on the mail. It’s the only way to get information to their employees,” she said.

While many companies now rely on direct deposit to pay their employees, there are also many that use the USPS to mail checks to employees. Delays won’t go over well with their workforce. “People want their pay,” Hamilton said.

The delays are especially stressful for the unemployed already dealing with problems obtaining unemployment compensation they desperately need, she said.

Some unusual business problems have even cropped up because of USPS delays, such as meal delivery companies that use the USPS to deliver prepared meals to customers. Timeliness is very important for such deliveries and Hamilton has heard of customers getting notices that their orders were cancelled because their food spoiled.

“That’s money those companies are going to have to eat because the post office didn’t deliver those meals fast enough,” she said.

Sam Denisco, vice president of government affairs for the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry, hasn’t received any complaints about the mail, but said the status of delivery reliability “is important to business.”

“Anytime the speaker has to bring back the legislature – especially at a time like this – we’re paying attention.”

Denisco suspects many of the chamber’s member are using alternatives such as UPS or FedEx to handle their shipping needs, and he notes they have been operating just fine. The Chamber will be meeting with the state’s regional chambers to discuss how they might want to address the USPS situation if the matter persists.

LVIA passenger traffic ticking up but still 70% lower than 2019

Lehigh Valley International Airport is saw a slight increase in passenger traffic with 27,612 travelers using the airport in July as compared to 26,123 passengers in June, but the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a negative impact on air travel.

The summer travel season is dramatically slower than last year when 94,298 passengers arrived or departed at LVIA. July’s numbers were 71% lower than last July.

“COVID-19 cases jumped following the Memorial Day weekend, and air travel certainly felt an immediate impact as momentum stalled with several coronavirus hotspots impacting many destinations from ABE,” said Thomas R. Stoudt, executive director of the Lehigh Northampton Airport Authority. “A slight uptick brings a welcomed change as we remain confident that anyone choosing our facility trusts the health and safety procedures in place to protect them.”

Part of the decrease is was due to a reduction in flights. Delta service to Atlanta is expected to return in October, while American flights to Philadelphia remain suspended indefinitely. United’s service to Chicago is suspended until Sept. 30.

Cargo remains a bright spot. It was up nearly 8% over last July with 14,830,660 pounds of air cargo processed, versus 13,756,389 pounds last year.

Lehigh U. offering virtual COVID-19 executive leadership courses

Lehigh University will be offering a series of online courses this fall that are geared towards addressing current business issues, especially management during a time of pandemic.

The Vistex Institute for Executive Learning & Research at the Lehigh University College of Business has introduced six new online programs that are designed to give business leaders the tools they need to adapt to doing business in the midst of COVID-19.

Alison Peirce, executive director of the institute, said the non-credit, non-degree courses are being designed for middle managers to executive level leaders who are looking for help in managing virtual teams, whether remote or hybrid; managing changing supply chain costs, planning for future risks and diversity and inclusion.

“This is all new content that hasn’t been offered before that we think are specific to a manager’s needs because of the pandemic,” Peirce said.

Classes will include “Virtual Leadership: Essential Skills for Leading a Hybrid and Remote Workforce, Now and Post-COVID,” a class taught by Lehigh Alum, Sasha Conner, a former marketing executive who now runs a consulting business that helps professionals lead in a virtual environment.

There is also a course specific to virtual project management, Project Management Foundations: Managing in a Virtual World.

Strategic Decision-Making and Leadership in a Crisis and Managing Supply Chain Risk look at decision making and planning in an ever evolving situation like the COVID-19 pandemic and Managing Financial Challenges in the Supply Chain: Surviving Covid and Beyond looks specifically at the financial issues managers might face with these issues.

Because the Black Lives Matter movement became an important issue during the COVID-19 crisis after the death of George Floyd, Peirce said the school also decided to add a class that will help managers work on inclusion, diversity and equity issues, Creating the Environment for Courageous Inclusion.

“We are hearing from people about the challenges they were facing. There’s a real need here,” Peirce said.

The classes being offered online versus on campus isn’t the only change the school has made to its fall offerings.

“When our students would typically come to our campus it would be for classes over a day or two, but an 8 hour Zoom session is not helpful for classroom work,” she said. “Instead we chunked up the material.”

Now courses are run for two or three hours at a time over a number of weeks depending on the class.

She said that has an added benefit that those taking the course can get actionable ideas during each session that they can then apply at their companies immediately rather than being away from work for a few days at a time and implementing them in the future.

Peirce said a handful of students are already signed up for the courses, she hopes to have about 30 students per class.

More information can be found at business.lehigh.edu/executive-education.

OraSure CEO ready to step up to COVID-19 fight with antigen test

Stephen Tang, president and CEO of OraSure Technologies of Bethlehem. –


When Stephen Tang took over as president and CEO of OraSure Technologies in 2018 he knew he would be leading a company on the frontlines of the fight against deadly diseases around the globe.

He had served on the board of directors of the Bethlehem company since 2011 and watched OraSure bring to market the first FDA-approved in-home HIV test and, after that, a similar test for Hepatitis C and the Ebola virus. He knew the viral diagnostic tests his company develops and manufactures have saved countless lives around the globe.

But now, with the global COVID-19 pandemic, Tang and his team at OraSure are facing their biggest challenge yet, creating a test that will accurately and quickly determine if a person has been exposed to the COVID-19 virus.

“This has been one of the most fulfilling moments of our careers,” said Tang in an interview with Lehigh Valley Business. “Seeing people pulling together – even people working from home on their dining room table like I am – there’s an enthusiasm to do something that will measurably change the world for the better.”

During a recent press conference, Pennsylvania Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine, called the rapid antigen test that OraSure hopes to have FDA approved and to market by year’s end a “game changer.” It would be the first antigen test on the market that wouldn’t need lab equipment or trained professionals to get result and could be easily used at home, the office or in schools.

“One of the keys to stopping the spread of COVID-19 is expanding access to testing,” she said.

Such a test could have a dramatic impact on stopping the spread of the disease, saving lives and reopening the economy, Levine said.

“We are all so grateful to be working on this,” Tang said. “We see what’s going on with health care and unemployment.”

Tang noted, the virus is posing a challenge to OraSure’s overall business.

With non-essential care put on hold and care facilities shut down or converted to COVID-19-related care, sales of other tests, such as its OraQuick HIV test, were down more than 25%. Overall, HIV testing was down 50% to 70% at the height of the pandemic, so as a diagnostic test provider they still did fairly well compared to others in the industry.

“There was a migration of products to in-home testing from doctor’s offices,” he said.

Valuable tool

In fact, he said the “in-home” part of the test platform is what has made the whole testing system so valuable to global health. With HIV, for example, there was often stigma about going to a clinic and getting tested for the virus, keeping people from getting tested. That meant people with the HIV virus weren’t getting treated for the deadly disease and were potentially spreading it to others without knowing.

The problem was particularly widespread in Africa where the virus, which is often unfortunately linked to homosexuality, kept many fearful of getting tested, Tang said.

“Homosexuality is criminalized in some African countries,” he noted. Those seeking testing could face imprisonment or even being put to death.

The lack of health care infrastructure in Africa also hobbled testing for HIV, HPC and Ebola.

When OraSure was able to get emergency use approval for its rapid Ebola tests, health care workers could go door-to-door in neighborhoods facing Ebola epidemics, test people and get those exposed to the virus quickly treated and isolated to prevent the spread.

“Translate that into COVID-19. The result of having a test available at home is that you will self isolate if positive, or if not you know you can go out and not infect anyone,” Tang said. With that in mind, OraSure is working to ensure the test is accurate.

Accuracy is the one drawback of antigen tests, said Dr. Amy Slenker, an infectious disease physician with Lehigh Valley Health Network, which has been working with OraSure on the tests. The COVID-19 antigen tests that are on the market now are more likely to give false negative results than the PCR (Polymerase chain reaction) tests that are the standard in clinical settings.

The PCR test looks for the genetic material of the virus and is generally more than 95% accurate, she said. Antigen tests that look for proteins from the virus, tend to be slower to pick up a positive.

“If I get a positive that’s great. That’s rapid results that I can act on, but I can’t trust it 100% if it’s negative because of the potential for a false negative,” Slenker said.

Many uses

In similar tests false negatives can occur anywhere between 50% and 90% of the time.

That’s why Tang said OraSure is working so hard to improve the sensitivity of its COVID-19 antigen tests to reduce the possibility of an unwanted false negative. Despite lower accuracy rate, Slenker said, the rapid, in-home antigen test has many uses.

“They could potentially bring some clarity to this pandemic. They’re easy to do in workplaces, in sports facilities or in schools and they’re relatively cheap,” she said.

A retail price has not been set for the COVID-19 test yet, but Tang noted that OraSure’s home HIV test sells for between $45 and $50 in stores.

As the company gets closer to releasing the test it is ramping up production dramatically. Tang recently announced OraSure will hire 177 new workers in manufacturing, quality control and regulatory affairs to help meet the expected demand.

He told Lehigh Valley Business that while the company is used to manufacturing tens of millions of tests per year, he expects there to be a demand for more than 30 million tests per week, a manufacturing goal he hopes to meet by the second quarter of 2021.

“This is a formidable project for us,” he said.

Still, his company is facing the same production challenges that others are facing from the pandemic.

Many executives and non-production staff members are working from home, and like every manufacturer extra steps need to be taken to protect those workers.

“We’re making sure they’re taking care of themselves, and their family and working to protect workers that have to be in the facility,” he said.

Even with the challenges, he said, morale is very high at the company right now.

“Everything that this company has done over its 20-year history has put us on the way to putting out this rapid COVID-19 test,” said Tang.

Netizen, Vizinex among Greater Lehigh Valley companies on the Inc. 5000 list for 2020

A number of Greater Lehigh Valley companies have made the Inc. 5000, a national ranking of the fastest-growing private companies.

Netizen of Allentown was the highest ranking Lehigh Valley Company on the list. The veteran-owned provider of cyber security solutions came in at number 184 on the list with 2,222% growth.

“Being ranked in the highest tiers of the Inc. 5000 list for a second year in a row is perhaps yet again the truest testament to the capabilities of our world-class team which boasts a cadre of industry-recognized leaders and professionals,” said Michael Hawkins, Netizen’s president and CEO.

It is Netizen second time on the list.

In 2019, Netizen placed 47th overall and was the nation’s fastest growing cyber security company.

That was the highest ranking that a company based in the Lehigh Valley region had ever achieved on the Inc. 5000 list, according to the Inc. website.

Vizinex RFID of Bethlehem, which recently launched a new product line of radio frequency identification tags made the list for the first time, coming in at number 3,053. It had growth of 127%.

“It is exciting to have Vizinex join fellow Pennsylvania companies like Netizen in making this year’s Inc. 5000 list,” said Ken Horton, co-founder and CEO of Vizinex. “Being on Inc. 5000 list reflects our team’s success at providing innovative solutions to customer problems. This has made Vizinex the technological leader in RFID tagging solutions to a growing number of businesses.”

Other businesses making the list from the Lehigh Valley include:

  • Lance Surety Bond Associates, a Doylestown insurance company, is number 1,919. It saw an increase of 222%.
  • Gen3Marketing, a Blue Bell advertising and marketing firm, was number 2,131. It saw an increase of 197%.
  • Ideal Concepts, an insurance company in Allentown is number 3,367. It saw an increase of 112%
  • BSI Corporate Benefits of Bethlehem is number 3,372. It saw growth of 111%.
  • ClimeCo, a Boyertown environmental services firm, was 3,622. It saw growth of 101%.
  • Stratix Systems, a Wyomissing IT management firm, was number 3,819. It saw growth of 94%
  • The Wire Guys, TWG Security, an Emmaus-based security firm, is number 3,701. It saw growth of 98%
  • D&B Construction, a Sinking Springs construction firm, was number 3,899. It saw growth of 91%.
  • NextShift, a Bethlehem IT system development company, is number 4,012. It saw a growth of 87%
  • Mail Shark, a Mohnton marketing and advertising firm, was number 4,100. It saw a growth of 84%.
  • SoftNice, an Allentown human resources firm, is number 4,399. It saw a growth of 74%.
  • TRIOSE, a Wyomissing logistics and transportation company, is number 4,892. It saw growth of 58%
  • The WordTech Group, a Pottstown advertising and marketing firm, was number 4,912. It saw a growth of 57%.

The Inc. 5000 list represents the most successful companies among independent small and midsized businesses. Companies such as Microsoft, Dell, LinkedIn, Yelp, Zillow and many other well-known names gained their first national exposure as honorees of the Inc. 5000, Inc.