Kutztown, PA…Kutztown University’s Annual Entrepreneurship Week, organized by the Entrepreneurial Leadership Center of the College of Business, will be held this month on Tuesday, March 27 through Thursday, March 29. Scheduled at various campus locations, the presentations and programs will focus on strategies and tools for business development and success. All programs are free of charge and open to the public. Some require pre-registration.
New this year is a Family Business Workshop led by a panel of experts in the field from Berks County. On Wednesday, March 28, at 6:00 p.m. in the Boehm Science Center, a 90-minute panel discussion will address the unique considerations of family businesses, including succession planning, transfer of ownership, day-to-day operations, and both the financial and human aspects of one of the oldest and most common business models. Leading into the program, which will be moderated by Dr. Anne Carroll, Dean of the College of Business at Kutztown University, there will ensue a 45-minute networking event. Networking begins at 5:15 p.m. and includes light refreshments. Register online at this link: https://pasbdc.ecenterdirect.com/events/24901
Panelists include Missy Wilson, Setter Ridge Vineyards; Chris Edward Pruitt, East Penn Manufacturing Co.; Harry Ciavarella, M&T Bank; Michael Fromm, Fromm Electric Supply Corporation; and Michael McCarthy, Marathon Capital Advisors.
Missy Wilson is a partner in Blair Vineyards LLC with her four siblings and parents. Growing up in rural Berks County and going to college at Bucknell University in rural Lewisburg led her to move to the Washington DC area after graduation with her BS in Mathematics. After four years working in an accounting department, she moved back to Berks County to help in the day-to-day operation of Blair Vineyards. In the time since, Blair Vineyards has expanded and opened a new tasting room just north of Kutztown. Now growing just over 30 acres of grapes, they are working their way to becoming an Estate Grown winery. Her current project is working on rebranding the wines under the new label of Setter Ridge Vineyards.
Chris Edward Pruitt currently serves as President/CEO of East Penn Manufacturing Co. Inc., manufacturer of Deka Batteries. East Penn Manufacturing is the largest privately held battery
manufacturer in the world with over 9,400 employees. Chris also serves on the Board of Directors of East Penn Manufacturing Co. and the company’s Family Council and Foundation. He has been with the company since May of 1994. He joined East Penn as the Controller and has held numerous financial positions, including Chief Financial Officer.
Harry Ciavarella has been in the banking industry for eighteen years. After graduating from the University of Pittsburgh, Harry began his career in banking through the consumer lending division of PNC and led their division for three years. He then subsequently moved from Pittsburgh to Northeastern PA to start his family. Harry has been with M&T since 2010 and currently serves: Lehigh/Northampton/Berks and Schuylkill counties. He is responsible for managing commercial bank clients, growing commercial banking market share and mentoring new hires within M&T Bank’s commercial division.
Michael Fromm is CEO and majority shareholder of Fromm Electric Supply Corporation. A third generation descendent of the company’s founder, Michael has spent the last twenty-five years navigating Fromm through leadership succession, multiple acquisitions, good and bad economies, and has built his family business into a leading distributor of electrical products that sells to regional, national and international customers. An alumnus of the University of Michigan, Michael joined Fromm in 1992, became president in 1997 and received the Electrical Industry’s Rising Star Award in 1998. In 2009, he transferred his day-to-day management duties to a non-family member and currently focuses on strategic planning, business development and trade relations. He recently oversaw the launch of an export division that distributes electrical construction products in the Caribbean Islands.
Michael McCarthy grew up in a retail and wholesale dry goods business that operated in the same location for over 100 years. After graduating from the University of Notre Dame, he began a career in the Navy Supply Corps with increasingly responsible positions, including two commands. The bulk of his career involved procurement, particularly contracting, assessing a bidder’s ability to perform and negotiating changes and resolving disputes. This kept him involved with a wide variety of industries manufacturing in aerospace, electronics and technology, transportation, as well as services in engineering, design and fleet support. Mike returned to Reading, working and consulting on economic development matters and business and organizational improvement initiatives, a long-standing interest. In early 2016, he joined Marathon Capital Advisors, an award-winning affiliate of VR M&A Advisors & Business Brokers.
If you have questions about the Family Business Workshop, call the College of Business at 610-683-4575. To view a schedule of events, visit: https://www.kutztown.edu/academics/colleges-and-departments/business/events/entrepreneurship-week.htm.
For membership opportunities at the Northeast Berks Chamber of Commerce, Kutztown, contact Lori B. Donofrio-Galley, Executive Director, at 610-683-8860.