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Greater Reading – ‘We make a lot of stuff here’

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FILE PHOTO
Penske Truck Leasing, based in Cumru Township, is an economic powerhouse with nearly 2,000 employees that also has a deep commitment to philanthropy in the community.
FILE PHOTO Penske Truck Leasing, based in Cumru Township, is an economic powerhouse with nearly 2,000 employees that also has a deep commitment to philanthropy in the community.

It’s impressive.

The list of Top 100 Private Companies as compiled by Lehigh Valley Business shows Greater Reading has three companies in the top five and six in the top 20. These businesses represent a talent pool of 12,000 workers and an important backbone of the economic prosperity of our community.

There is a marketing piece that we use here at the Greater Reading Chamber Alliance to help tell the story about who Greater Reading is as a community. That publication includes a quote from our president and CEO, Randy Peers: “We Make Stuff Here.”

This list from LVB provides the empirical data to back up that statement, as about 15 of the Top 100 are in Berks County. We do, indeed, “make stuff here.”

And, as it turns out, we make a lot of stuff. Manufacturing represents 23 percent of the county’s gross domestic product at $3.4 billion.

DIVERSIFICATION

The products manufactured here in Greater Reading that are represented on this list include a wide variety of goods, including batteries, bird and small animal feed, gourmet desserts, milk, meat, poultry, and beverage products, plastics, aluminum castings, specialty task wipes and engineered textiles.

Greater Reading enjoys a high location-quotient of food manufacturers and production. We pro-actively support the growing agribusiness community so that we can strengthen sustainable and eco-friendly practices with local sourcing.

But, as the list would indicate, we are not all about food production; in fact, our manufacturing sector is broad-based and not overly concentrated in any single subsector.

INNOVATION, EXPANSION

Our manufacturing base is not just diverse, it’s also innovative. The Berks manufacturers featured on the list employ the latest technologies in their respective industries – validating Greater Reading’s commitment and future in advanced manufacturing.

Several of the companies on the list have physically expanded their plants in Greater Reading or purchased new machinery and equipment in the past two to three years.

Many were assisted with state or local support. Sometimes that support means that companies expand to additional domestic or international locations.

These top companies represent an expansive international footprint extending into Europe, Asia and the Middle East. For example, Sweet Street Desserts Inc., a manufacturer of frozen gourmet desserts, has a presence in more than 60 countries.

ECONOMIC, COMMUNITY FORCE

All of the companies on this list have been consistent economic engines for our community with ever-expanding physical and product footprints.

Equally as impressive is that every one of them represents accessible community leaders.

So not only are their companies providing the all-important jobs and outstanding positive economic impact, they also are some of Greater Reading’s biggest supporters of the community with deep philanthropic commitment and leadership.

RETAIL SUCCESS

And not only do we make it here, we can sell it here, too.

Boscov’s Department Stores, No. 4 on the Top 100 list, grew right here in Greater Reading from humble roots to a retail brick-and-mortar powerhouse.

This retail phenomenon remains not only a top employer but is also signaling the resiliency and sustainability of family owned businesses.

While other retailers are struggling to find their new normal, Boscov’s is celebrating the opening of its 47th store in Connecticut. And this retail giant still calls Greater Reading home.

BACKING BUSINSSES OF ALL SIZES

We are excited in Berks County.

While supporting the continued growth of some of our biggest companies, we also support the entrepreneurial and small-business community with our newly merged chamber and economic development leadership.

So, look out. More Berks companies are poised to enter the Top 100 list.

With more than 30 years in economic development, Pamela J. Shupp is executive vice president of the Greater Reading Chamber Alliance (www.greaterreading.org). She can be reached at pamela@greaterreading.org.

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Write to the Editorial Department at editorial@lvb.com

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