Evonik cuts ribbon on Trexlertown Innovation Hub

U.S. Congresswoman Susan Wild, D-7; Ralph Marquardt, chief innovation officer of Evonik; Ute Wolf, CFO of Evonik, Pa.Gov. Tom Wolf; and Bonnie Tully president of Evonik North America; cut the ribbon on the new Evonik Innovation Hub in Trexlertown. PHOTO/STACY WESCOE –

German chemical company, Evonik, held a ribbon cutting Thursday at its new state-of-the-art Innovation Hub in Trexlertown. 

Located on property Evonik purchased from Air Products about 6 years ago, the 30,000-square-foot space will be the centerpiece of growth at the two-building site said Tracey Mole, vice president of the Business & Innovation Center. 

“This the first major milestone in our modernization project,” he said. 

The space will be the center of the company’s global research and development efforts and will serve as a collaborative space where researchers, marketing and financing staff can all work together on innovation. 

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf noted that the state helped fund the development of the center, which he called an important addition to the state and the Lehigh Valley. 

“Evonik’s new, state-of-the-art space will build on Pennsylvania’s strength as a center for advanced manufacturing,” said Wolf. “I’m proud to have invested $2.5 million in this Innovation Hub that will bring new, good-paying jobs to the Allentown region.” 

According to Evonik, the company employs 300 at the Trexlertown facility. The project is helping to retain more than 200 of those employees as well as adding 50 high-paying jobs in advanced manufacturing. 

Ute Wolf, CFO of Evonik said having the center in Trexlertown will help the Lehigh Valley become the center of Evonik’s global growth. 

“Innovation is very important. What we really brings us forward is new ideas and education,” she said. 

To express the importance of innovation to Evonik, Ute Wolf noted that the company spends about $500,000 per year on research and development. 

Jean Vincent, senior vice president of R&D, specialty additives, said the company’s research into high-performing plastics, used in applications from medical implants to football cleats, is the centerpiece of the company’s work at the facility, but the company also researches other things such as additives to insulation used in refrigerators to products that help make paint brighter. 

“We research new chemistry applications of technology right down to the molecular level,” she said. 

The Innovation Hub project was managed by Boyle Construction, and Mole said it won’t be the last new construction the company will have at the site. 

“I would like to see the site continue to grow,” he said, noting the space to add new building was one of the features that attracted Evonik to purchase the property. 

What attracted the company to locate in the Lehigh Valley in the first place, he said, was the region’s education landscape. He said with the large number of universities in the region, Evonik has a sizeable pool of highly educated and skilled talent to recruit from. 

In fact, the company recently donated $100,000 to the Da Vinci Science Center in Allentown to help promote STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education for young women. 

Like many companies, Mole said Evonik was also drawn to the Lehigh Valley because of its geography. He noted it’s close to other innovation hubs like New York and Boston but has the affordability of living that offers a better quality of life for employees. 


Air Products reports higher fiscal 2021 earnings

Air Products of Trexlertown reported 2021 GAAP Earnings Per Share (EPS) from continuing operations of $9.12, up 7% over last year; and GAAP net income of $2,12 million, up 10% over last year.  

For the year, on a non-GAAP basis, adjusted EPS from continuing operations of $9.02 increased eight% over the prior year, and adjusted EBITDA of $3,89 million was up 7% over last year, as favorable pricing, currencies, and equity affiliate income more than offset higher costs to support growth.  

Full-year sales of $10.3 billion increased 17% over last year, on 6% higher energy pass-through, 5% higher volumes, 4% favorable currency, and 2% higher pricing.  

For its fiscal fourth quarter 2021, Air Products reported GAAP EPS from continuing operations of $2.51, up 15% over last year, and GAAP net income of $619 million, up 25% over last year, as favorable volume, pricing, currencies, equity affiliate income, and a discontinued operations related tax reserve release more than offset higher costs.  

GAAP net income margin of 21.8% was up 50 basis points over prior year, primarily due to higher energy cost pass-through, which negatively impacted margin by about 150 basis points. 

Giant remodeling Trexlertown store as part of $114M company-wide update

An example of a store that has already had the renovations that are being made at the Trexlertown Giant. PHOTO/SUBMITTED –

The Giant Co. is renovating its Trexlertown store as part of a $114 million investment in company updates announced last year.

The company is creating a Giant Direct ecommerce fulfillment center, opening two new stores and remodeling 35 existing Giant stores in Pennsylvania by the end of this year.

Part of the renovation is bringing a newer, more modern look to the store, but Giant is also making changes to accommodate the different ways people are now shopping and eating. When complete, the Trexlertown store will have more options for meal solutions with enhanced prepared food offerings including soups and salads from Saladworks.

“This remodel is really focused on simplifying the shopping experience for our customers by providing fresh ideas and solutions to help today’s families spend more time connecting together over a meal,” said Steven Bowlby, GIANT store manager. “From an updated look and feel to increased product variety, our store team is excited to re-introduce the Trexlertown GIANT to our customers.”

Fresh offerings will be completely updated from an expanded farm fresh produce department and all new meat, seafood, and bakery departments. Other renovations include the store’s Starbucks as well as refreshing the store’s floral and pet area.

The company is also adding a healthy, natural and organic department and a designated plant-based product area.

Work is expected to be complete early next year.

First Commonwealth opens new headquarters in Lower Macungie

First Commonwealth’s new corporate headquarter campus on Hamilton Blvd in Lower Macungie Township boasts an 81,000 sq ft headquarters facility and new flagship 5,000 sq ft two-story financial center featuring a dedicated small business center. PHOTO/SUBMITTED


The new corporate headquarters for First Commonwealth Federal Credit Union is now open on Hamilton Boulevard in Lower Macungie Township.

The corporate campus features an 81,000-square-foot headquarters facility and a new flagship 5,000-square-foot, two-story, full-service financial center, which features a dedicated business center.

The credit union said the building, dubbed the “Trexlertown Financial Center” is the largest of its 11 financial centers in the Greater Lehigh Valley.

“We’re proud to continue to invest in the Lehigh Valley and enhance our presence in the communities we serve and where our employees live, work, and play. Our new corporate headquarters allows us to offer an exceptional work environment for our growing workforce,” said Donna LoStocco, president and CEO of First Commonwealth in a release. “Our project is unique in that every aspect of our new headquarters came from input from our employees. We wanted the facility to be ‘for employees, by employees’ and that’s the approach we took through every phase of the project.”

She said the new headquarters was designed to be a high-functioning, friendly, and safe environment that offers an enjoyable and healthy “home at work” experience for its 220 employees.

The credit union consolidated two corporate operations centers in Bethlehem and Allentown into the Lower Macungie facility.

Both of those properties were sold in 2020.

The corporate campus was designed by MKSD Architects of Allentown and was constructed by Boyle Construction of Allentown.

FCFCU owns the 81,000-square-foot mixed-use building, occupying 61,000 square feet of the space.

The building also includes a 13,000-square-foot and a 7,000-square-foot commercial/retail tenant space, which both have exterior first floor entrances. FCFCU has already secured tenants for both spaces.

Urban Air Adventure Park opens in former Trexlertown Bon-Ton

Urban Air Adventure Park in Trexlertown. PHOTO/STACY WESCOE


The former Bon-Ton store in the Trexlertown Mall has had some fresh life breathed into it…a breath of Urban Air.

The former department store is now home to an indoor adventure park known as Urban Air.

The facility, which had a soft opening this weekend, features more than 64,000 square feet of space filled with entertainment such as wall-to-wall trampolines, go-carts, a climbing wall, a warrior obstacle course, a Sky Rider coaster, a battle beam and tube playgrounds with multi-level climbing ropes and twisting tubes.

Many of the attractions are patented by Urban Air and can only be found at the chain’s facilities. There are features for both adults and children.

There is also a café for families to get food and snacks.

The chain, which was founded in Dallas in 2011 and currently has more than 260 locations operating or in development, bills itself as the largest indoor adventure park operator in the world.

The new Trexlertown location, at 6900 Hamilton Boulevard, will be having its official grand opening Dec. 5.

Hours are Monday – Friday from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Sunday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

What can we learn from Target’s recent outage?

There is a lot to be learned from Target, which recently underwent a huge cash-register outage that reportedly caused the company to lose out on nearly $100 million in sales over a two-day period.

On a Saturday afternoon, for roughly two hours, Target cash registers across the country stopped working, preventing customers from making purchases in stores. The next day, a similar outage occurred, causing registers to go down for 90 minutes. The problem, the company said, was not caused by Target’s software but by a third-party that provides its point-of-sale system.

Disgruntled customers, some of whom only learned of the issue as they got in line to check out, left stores and shared their dissatisfaction across social media.

This is a prime example of how businesses can be impacted by downtime. Not only does it affect the hard sales from customers unable to make their purchases, but it also leads to brand damage, data loss and lost productivity as employees stand around unable to work.

Downtime can cause more than an inconvenience; it could drive a company out of business altogether, especially the smaller businesses that have fewer resources behind them. According to a report on data center outages, unplanned downtime costs $8,851 per minute in 2016, up from $7,908 in 2013.

So what can we learn from Target’s recent mishap?

– Don’t panic if an issue occurs. Document everything and work towards a solution.
– Know who to contact if technology fails.
– Notify customers of the issue right away. Be upfront with what’s going on and provide a timetable for fixing the problem (but don’t lie if you are not sure!) Apologize and sympathize.
– Offer coupons, snacks and beverages to customers for the inconvenience.
– Prepare for backlash from disgruntled customers.
– Once the problem is resolved, examine your system for internal and external weaknesses and find out where the problem originated. (Did someone trip over a power cord or was it a more widespread failure?)
– Moving forward, monitor your IT system so that you know about an issue before your customer does.
– If you are using a lower-grade hardware system, upgrade to an enterprise-level network infrastructure. Higher-grade equipment helps maintain reliability so that productivity will not be lost.
– Have a plan B/backup system in place, as well as a backup power supply in case weather is the culprit. Businesses can invest in an uninterruptible power supply, or UPS. A UPS provides backup battery power to your IT systems and it kicks in the moment regular power goes offline. Through a UPS, any loss of power will immediately transfer to the battery supply, without any noticeable interruption for the user.
– Consider using cloud servers, which are housed in colocation centers. They are more convenient and reliable due to their easy accessibility, but they’re also safer since they create automatic backups to prevent data loss for the client.

Follow these tips and don’t let downtime take your business down.

Murtaza Jaffer is the co-owner of EBC Printing of Trexlertown. He can be reached at [email protected]