Kaplin Stewart, Blue Mountain Resort and more name new hires, promotions


Spring Township, Berks County-based Herbein + Co. Inc. named Mark Gallagher, Rachelle Gordon and Lyle Loeb partners. They will be part of the leadership team of Herbein | FOS Risk Management, which specializes in the banking industry.

Banking and finance

Ithaca, New York-based Tompkins Community Bank named Michael K. Pearson a member of its community bank board for the Pennsylvania market. Pearson is principal of Michael K. Pearson Consulting and a partner with Iron Stone Real Estate Partners. He was an officer in the U.S. Army and received a Bronze Star for his Persian Gulf War service. Mary Ann Moffitt was named senior vice president, middle market leader and deputy credit administration officer. Moffitt will drive commercial lending and credit strategy for the Pennsylvania market.

Lower Macungie Township, Lehigh County-based National Energy Improvement Fund named Trey Muffet senior director of business development for national accounts. Muffet will expand outreach to contractors and others to integrate financing for energy efficiency and upgrades to roofing, windows and heating, ventilation and air conditioning for homeowners and businesses.

Stroudsburg, Monroe County-based ESSA Bank & Trust named Rachel Burbank fair lending officer. Burbank, who has been employed in banking for 20 years, will help to ensure that the bank is compliant with all fair lending laws, regulations and guidance, and will also conduct employee training.


Kutztown University named Rebecca West Burns Dean of the College of Education, effective Aug. 1. Burns has 20 years of teaching and leadership experience in education.

Berks County Intermediate Unit named Lucille Gallis chief financial officer. Angel Green was named assistant director of finance. Green has more than 21 years of financial experience, including 14 in Pennsylvania school district business operations. Rob Rosenberry was named chief operating officer. Mary Franciscus was named director of human resources.


Lower Towamensing Township, Carbon County-based Blue Mountain Resort named Luke Wynen director of sales. Wynen will develop, oversee and coordinate all sales initiatives.


Whitpain Township, Montgomery County-based Kaplin Stewart named Benjamin Picker a principal in the commercial litigation group. Picker represents clients in legal disputes, including contracts, real estate and leases, mechanics’ liens, consumer protection, insurance, constitutional rights, securities, class actions, intellectual property and business law.

Lancaster-based Barley Snyder named Brandon D. Pack an attorney with its creditors’ rights practice group. Pack will work in the Wyomissing office in Spring Township, Berks County, and concentrate his practice in financial services litigation, banking litigation and residential and commercial mortgage foreclosures.


Cumru Township, Berks County-based MADJ Marketing named Olivia Massaro account executive. Massaro will oversee and execute client and account management, project and production management, copywriting and social media administration for several accounts.

Upper Macungie Township, Lehigh County-based Liquid named Maegen Kuztman project management team lead. Kuztman will oversee project management, processes and project management employees. Emily Massaro was named vice president of marketing. Massaro will continue to oversee the digital marketing team and the firm’s internal and external marketing communication.


Philadelphia-based Pennsylvania Policy Center named Levana Layendecker deputy director and chief operating officer. Layendecker has more than 15 years of legislative advocacy and organizing experience.

Springfield Township, Montgomery County-based Girl Scouts of Eastern Pennsylvania elected Nicole LeVine chair of its board of directors. LeVine is senior vice president and chief operating officer for PECO. Mary Beth Biddle, Kathy Killian, Olubunmi Ojikutu and Ashley Russo were named board members. Biddle is a mechanical engineer. Killian is vice president of administration for the Philadelphia Phillies. Ojikutu is chair of the department of pediatrics at Reading Hospital. Russo is president of ASR Media Productions.

Reading-based Berks Community Health Center named Dr. Karen Wang chief medical officer. Wang will coordinate and oversee medical care, clinical policies, protocols and the quality and peer review processes.

Berks County-based Olivet Boys & Girls Club named Kristy Brown chief financial officer. Brown has more than 10 years of experience in accounting and finance. BK McDonough was named chief development officer.

Compiled by Amy DiNunzio

E-town College High Center names new managing director of Lehigh Valley region

Nicole Dotta was recently named Managing Director of the Lehigh Valley region with The High Center at Elizabethtown College in Lancaster County. 

A Lehigh Valley native, Dotta has spent the past 25 years in the Lehigh Valley business community. 

“We are excited about the growth that we have seen for The High Center in the Lehigh Valley,” The High Center’s Managing Director of the Berks County Region, Scott Burky, said in a statement. “Under Nicole’s leadership in the Lehigh Valley, we look forward to continuing to build awareness of the resources The High Center provides to family-owned and privately held businesses in the region.” 

Dotta has served various roles with the Bethlehem-based nonprofit ArtsQuest since 2010. She initially aided the organization to develop new events with area nonprofits and transformed her role into one that led to new partnerships and sponsorships along with creating new programming. She was instrumental in ArtsQuest quadrupling its programming for the region. 

In 2016 Dotta was recognized as a Forty Under 40 honoree by Lehigh Valley Business. She was selected for her commitment to business growth, professional excellence, and the community. 

Dotta began her career in publishing at Lehigh Valley Business and The Morning Call, spending more than a decade in circulation sales, public relations, and marketing.

Burger King has a new branding strategy, and it’s a Whopper

For many years, Burger King has played second fiddle to McDonalds. In the last decade, they have been passed by Taco Bell, Chick-fil-A, and Wendy’s. Sales have barely grown since 2020 and their leadership is under pressure to improve the performance of the brand. 


On paper, the 68-year-old franchise should be very competitive. Its burgers are flame-broiled, not fried, and their ordering system encourages personal choices like no onions or ketchup. (An old jingle for the slogan ‘Have it your way’ goes, “Hold the pickle, hold the lettuce, special orders don’t upset us.”) Yet, year after year, despite a custom-order system and arguably better taste, the Home of the Whopper trails the pack. Their sales are currently less than 25 percent of what McDonald’s rings up each year, according to QSRmagazine.com. 


In my own experience with Burger King, I have seen widely varying levels of service and food preparation, to the point of being told by the disembodied voice of one drive-thru when I noted that the slogan on their cup says, ‘Have it your way,’ “We know what it says on the cup, but you can’t have it that way.” (All I asked for was to mix my onion rings with some fries. No problem at other locations.) This is the challenge of any franchise business—to maintain quality throughout its far-flung enterprise. And quality control includes prescribing and managing the brand experience of millions of customers in Burger King’s case. 


Their management’s new strategy is to focus on their flagship product brand: The Whopper. The company has announced that in the next two years, it will invest $400 million in improvements to the brand — $250 million for upgraded technology and store remodeling, and $150 million for advertising and digital products. 


BK’s president, Tom Curtis, told CNN Business, “What we really want to do in the short term is reintroduce America’s love affair with the Whopper.” (If I may, Mr. Curtis, “…rekindle America’s love affair…” would be a better choice of words. But I digress.) Doubling down on producing a better, fresher, custom-ordered Whopper should help move the sales needle a bit, but will it be enough to resuscitate the BK brand overall? 


Perhaps part of the problem is a lack of other well-known sub-brands on the menu that can attract a broader audience. McDonald’s has the Big Mac, the Quarter Pounder, the Happy Meal, and even the seasonal McRib, all of which are essentially household names that appeal to the whole family. Burger King has the Whopper and Whopper Jr., and little else that occupies their customers’ minds. BK leadership recently said that their menu had become too diversified and cited their hand-breaded chicken sandwich as an example that bottlenecked their service. 


The Ch’king, as it’s called, seems superior to a McChicken sandwich, but the Golden Arches is still winning the battle. I wish BK the best in renewing our love affair with the Whopper, but what they may really need is a customer base interested in hooking up with a variety of their menu selections. I’m sure the Whopper would understand.  


David Taylor is president of Lancaster-based Taylor Brand Group, which specializes in brand development and marketing technology. Contact him via www.taylorbrandgroup.com.  


State agriculture department accepting proposals for wine, beer and cider projects 

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture is taking proposals for up to $2 million in funding for projects to increase sales, quality and production of Pennsylvania wine, beer and cider. 

Projects will be reviewed and recommended by the department’s wine marketing and research and malt and brewed beverage boards. Projects will be funded by the PA Liquor Control Board. 

“Pennsylvania’s craft beer, cider and wine industries offer not only the appeal of the local flavors and fruit that go into them, but an opportunity for an experience at a vineyard in the countryside, a cidery in an orchard or a craft brewery in any of our diverse towns and cities,” said Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding. “These grants expand economic opportunities for our growers and spur innovative ideas to introduce visitors to the diversity of Pennsylvania agriculture and the beauty of our commonwealth.” 

One-page concept papers outlining the activities involved in each funded project are due by Feb. 11, 2022. Applications can be found in the Pennsylvania Bulletin. 

The new grants follow nearly $2 million that the Wolf Administration awarded to 15 projects last October. Funds were given to projects that increased the state’s cider, craft beer and wine tourism and marketing; researched how to protect the wine industry from invasive spotted lanternflies and severe weather threats; supported strategic planning to help the industry recover from the pandemic and more. 

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. 

Born Creative brings collaborative approach to design and marketing process

Born Creative’s team–(left to right) Randi Dean, Julia Kline and Jodi Morelock–hard at work at the details of one of our newest client projects


Born Creative, a design and marketing agency, opened its doors in midtown Harrisburg in August 2019.

“What’s different about Born Creative is the overall thought process. We’re more of a collaborative agency—we value people’s opinions,” said Randi Dean, Born Creative managing partner and creative director.

She worked with Born Creative’s founder, Jen Zaborney, at another of Zaborney’s past ventures, 401 Group.
Born Creative is located at 1426 North Third Street, Harrisburg. In addition to Zaborney, Born Creative has a staff of three.

Born Creative’s core belief is that everyone is born creative and has a form of creativity to lend in any situation. Dean said the name of the agency, Born Creative is a play on words—in design industry parlance, creative is another way to refer to a design agency.

She said the diversity of Born Creative’s team in both work and life experiences allow them to bring a fresh perspective to projects they develop. Born Creative’s open-concept office helps foster the collaborative atmosphere.

“We see our clients as an extension of our team and operate with them as partners,” she explained, “We also work with outside vendors including freelancers to support our clients.”

The agency is able to fulfill every aspect of the creative/design and marketing process including identity and branding, video production, traditional and digital advertising. Every company needs a strong brand identity to succeed.

Dean said Born Creative is able to help shape a brand identity and offer custom design solutions for promotion. With a mix of digital and print media, direct mail and digital advertising, campaigns can be seen through multiple channels.

In July Born Creative launched a new service—Design on Demand.  “This year [2020] has brought new challenges to everyone,” Dean said.

She explained that Design on Demand allows clients to have unlimited graphic design projects and revisions at a flat rate. It can be used by businesses of any size from solo entrepreneurs to businesses with their own marketing team that may need an extra set of hands.

The service can be used for clients’ internal or external communications. Projects have included menu edits for restaurants and professionally designed grant proposals for non-profit organizations.

“This service is able to lend a helping hand to companies at an affordable price,” she said.

There are three different packages for Design on Demand—essentials and premium and enterprise—and one monthly fee for each package.

According to Born Creative’s website, monthly fee for the essentials package is $599, while the premium package is $1,299 per month when billed monthly.

There’s also an option to try-out the service with a single request for a flat fee of $75. Some project types such as newsletters or a 12-page booklet are only available in the premium package.

Design requests are submitted via an online request form, and project requests are processed in the order they are received. Born Creative’s indicates that turnaround time to present a draft to a client is 24- to 48-hours. After final approval, clients receive the design in a digital file format.

The enterprise level is for industries such as professional printers who may wish to use Born Creative’s services.

Dean said this package works differently in that it offers the business the ability to pre-purchase a set number of projects that have unlimited revisions.

“This allows them to create a new revenue stream for their business, because they’re able to white label our design services and mark them up to their client,” she explained, “We want to have a discussion with businesses interested in this level of service about their specific needs.

Zoom, other marketing tools help elder-care industry reach clients

For senior living communities with additional services, 2020 was off to a strong start. During January and February interest was up, as were inquires and commitments to area senior living, congregate care campuses – those communities offering a range of services from independent living to assisted and skilled nursing care levels.

That was pre-coronavirus.

Interviews with administrators at two independent/nursing facilities — Fellowship Community in Whitehall Township, and The Village at LifeQuest in Milford Township, Bucks County — found similar patterns. A drop in interest once the pandemic hit, but less so for skilled care.

Fellowship Community in Whitehall Township has seen a drop in recruitment, but demand for skilled care remains strong. PHOTO/FILES –

Prior to Covid-19 and the post-holiday season lull, The Village at LifeQuest in Milford Township, Bucks County, “had a steady flow of folks coming into the building,” said Sally Prior, Village chief operating officer.

Prior expects interested in the housing arrangements offered in the rural pocket of Upper Bucks County to tick up, as creative marketing efforts begin to pay off.

Congregate care senior living communities provide a range of services, from independent apartments with some shared amenities, such as full kitchen areas and dining rooms; concierge services such as cleaning and laundry; and catering services to assisted living and 24-hour skilled nursing care facilities. 

Village marketing staff is reaching out through weekly Constant Contact emails to its prospect mailing list and industry health care partners. They’re using Zoom in new ways for virtual education, entertainment – like bingo and bake-less cooking activities and connecting family and friends. 

Those “hot leads” who were near to signing before Covid-19, are receiving “survival care packages” featuring tasty treats, hand sanitizer, word puzzles, masks and other essential amenities delivered to their homes, said Dee Jones, administrator at The Village.

“We have one [new resident] that will be moving in shortly, for whom [the care package] worked really well,” Jones said.

Jones said marketing pivot points include virtual Zoom meet-ups for happy hour times, lunch with family members, no-bake cooking activities, virtual bingo or educational times with noted physicians.

It’s one more way to stay connected in a time of social distancing.

“Instead of having people come here, were using Zoom and virtual technology,” Jones said.

The Village is also promoting virtual tours of places like The Philadelphia Zoo, along with museums around the world currently that are opening their galleries and collections through virtual tours. 

The New York Times recently reported one-third of all Covid-19 related deaths are occurring in nursing homes among residents and health care workers. But locally a different perspective may be taking shape. Set apart, with strict medical and health hygiene protocols in place and the ability to isolate vulnerable populations, interest in senior living communities may be recovering.

“It is the entire lifestyle in the building and the landscape. We have had family members tell us it has been safer for their parents,” Prior said. 

The Village restricted visitors two weeks before Gov. Tom Wolf required care homes to do so. As of a May 12 phone interview, Prior reported the facility remains Covid-free with “hour-by-hour vigilance.” 

While the Village has switched to virtual tours rather than in-person visits of its facilities, it is still taking admissions. 

Prior to the coronavirus pandemic Fellowship Community in Whitehall Township also experienced strong interest and prospective customer sign-ups. Fellowship is a Christian, faith-based retirement and care campus offering independent living arrangements, personal care, nursing care, rehabilitation services and memory support. 

“As soon as we had to restrict visitation and the pandemic heated up, things slowed down for independent living and personal care,” said Mary Kay McMahon, Fellowship president and CEO. However, the demand for skilled nursing care, which is more need-based, continues. 

The 50-acre campus includes 121 skilled-nursing beds, 165 personal-care beds and 151 independent-living units, including apartments and townhomes, McMahon said.

The pandemic has forced Fellowship to revamp its marketing efforts and leverage technology to better connect with families and prospects. Video updates are regularly posted to Fellowship’s website and Facebook pages to provide enhanced communication and transparency to residents’ family members and loved ones. 

She said making better more consistent use of social media channels for advertising services, including Facebook and Instagram, would be huge, “because that is where people are spending their time and getting their news,” McMahon said.

Early preparation at Fellowship included the construction of a separate Covid unit, and a separate specific hall for Covid-19 patients.  Staff received specialized training in handling Covid-19 patients, and McMahon said these decisions were essential to accommodate cases that would arise. 

In early April when we got our first positive Covd-19 case the tide turned,” she said. “Everybody is going to think twice about moving into a senior living community if you have positive Covid cases.”

Fellowship’s Covid-19 cases were located in personal care and skilled nursing, and they are in isolation.

Even with Covid-19 top of mind, McMahon said, many “very courageous people” have opted to move to independent living communities because they felt there was more security there.

Fellowship patents suffering with Covid-19 in personal care are now in the recovery phase, McMahon said. Since March, Fellowship reported 36 positive cases, and the trajectory for personal care is “over the hump, and they are all heading into recovery,” she said.

“We are on the decline and were able to contain it. We’ve had six deaths, and that is the hardest part.  Our residents in this [segment] are very compromised. They have a lot of health issues and are advanced in age, McMahon said.

Fellowship is making skilled nursing admission decisions based upon whether or not appropriate room could be made to isolate new residents as needed. 

Persistence and tenacity in the face of hardship are not new to those in their golden years. “They are very resilient,” Prior said. “This generation has lived through [world] wars and the Great Depression, and they step up. They masked right away, they understand the severity of it, and they want to do their part.” 

A Conversation With: Michael Drabenstott of Drabenstott Communications Group

Michael Drabenstott –

Michael Drabenstott, president, Drabenstott Communications Group is a marketing and PR adviser with more than 30 years of experience counseling companies, institutions and not-for-profit organizations on how to communicate more effectively. He’s worked with everyone from Fortune 500 companies to entrepreneurial start-ups to help them hone and refine their messaging platform then deliver it as effectively and efficiently as possible.

LVB: While many businesses are struggling because of COVID-19 shutdowns, they also have an unprecedented opportunity to reach a “captive audience” sheltering at home. What are the opportunities?

Drabenstott: People are spending even more time looking at screens as they look to gather information and stay connected. Facebook usage is up 40%. Instagram impressions are up 21%. YouTube is seeing higher demand.

The opportunity to reach the captive audience also presents a challenge. There’s a lot of noise out there and you’re competing with urgent, unpredictable news. The key is to communicate in ways make you look different from others why staying true to your brand. It’s an opportunity to show empathy and build relationships with audiences through ongoing communications rather than a scattershot approach.

But you can’t stop at digital efforts. Find a way to move beyond the screens. Real phone calls from real people with a reassuring message to core customers or donors (at a not-for-profit) to check in and listen (not to sell) can go a very long way now. People have more time to look at and read mail, too.

LVB: How should companies be shifting their marketing efforts to adapt to the sudden changes in where consumers are seeking information and content?

Drabenstott: Marketing centers on meeting needs in the marketplace. In our current situation, there are urgent needs – reliable information, food, toiletries, healthcare services – and less urgent ones, for example, entertainment, exercise and social connection (at an appropriate distance, of course.)

Yes, consumers are seeking information and content. But they also have needs to meet in the safest, most efficient, most reliable way possible. So safety, speed and dependability are essential. Look at your communications efforts and — just as importantly — how you deliver products and services from your organization to the consumer and find ways to do it faster, safer, and more dependably.

LVB: Nationally, many companies, like car manufacturers are already adapting their message to meet the new reality. How do you rate their response?

Drabenstott: The response by national companies has been mixed. To their defense, many are concerned first with how their business model must shift over the next six to 12 to 18 months for them to survive. That model, that strategy needs to inform communications.

The companies that aren’t doing it well are the ones that decided not to adjust their outbound communications messaging evident in e-mails, ads or social media. They appear blind to the magnitude of the situation. The ones that are doing it better are showing empathy for the plight of their customers and appreciation for those on the front line, be they medical professionals or their own employees. The best ones will find ways to move beyond the message into services and products that improve people’s lives during this crisis and beyond.

LVB: Locally, what are some of the best practices you’re seeing in staying connected with consumers during the coronavirus?

Drabenstott: We’re starting to see creative ways around the impediments that social distancing has caused. A great example is supporteaston.com, which was put together by the Greater Easton Development Partnership (one of my clients), to centralize information about restaurants and stores that are serving the public in new ways. Greenhouse Enoteca, a restaurant here in the West End Theatre District of Allentown is offering hearty family-style meals (not their entire menu) several nights a week and communicating by social media and e-mail.

At the D&L National Heritage Corridor, where I’m chair of the board, we decided that we would call every one of our members over a week to check in and get their perspective on the D&L Trail and their communities. Moreover, we will likely see some temporary practices become permanent after the crisis is over once we realize how effective they were.


-By Stacy Wescoe