Why we chose NEPA and the greater Scranton area

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20 Under 40: JenniferDessoye

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Dr. Jennifer Dessoye is assistant professor of occupational therapy at Misericordia University and owner of Bright Beginnings Early Learning Academy (BBELA). Discontent with the early education curriculum and understanding of human development and neurolo (read more)

20 Under 40: Amy Hlavaty Belcher

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Amy Hlavaty Belcher, 39, owner and artistic director of Abrabesque Academy of Dancing, believes that for those who have been given much, much is expected. “I just try hard to do my best,” she said. I have been blessed with many opportunities and many gift (read more)

20 Under 40: Christopher Hetro

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Chris Hetro, 33, works hard and plays hard. “A strong work ethic is important, but finding balance outside of work is important because life is too short and you need to enjoy it,” he explained. As an electrical engineer and project manager at Borton-Laws (read more)

20 Under 40: C. David Pedri

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For attorney C. David Pedri, 37, it’s all about a combination of qualities that contribute to success. “My philosophy is simple: be open and honest, treat people the way you would want to be treated, with respect, and work hard to attain your dreams. The (read more)

20 Under 40: Ed Frable

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Ed Frable, 28, believes “if I work hard and stick to my word, good things will happen. My crew will not be deterred. We will re-evaluate our game plan and not give up until the job is complete,” explained Frable, the owner/operator of Ed Frable Constructi (read more)

20 Under 40: William H. Bender II

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William H. Bender II, CFP, CIMA, CRPC, loves what he does. “I’m lucky. I come to work every day excited to help the people and institutions we work with,” explained Bender, 34, first vice president at Bender Wealth Management Group, Merrill Lynch. The fam (read more)

20 Under 40: Angelo Venditti

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Angelo Venditti, 38, heard a call to the helping professions early on. Geisinger Northeast’s chief nursing officer answer was to volunteer for his local fire company. After high school, he became a paramedic, then enrolled in nursing school. Three years a (read more)

20 Under 40: Donald Mammano

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At 20, Donald Mammano began his own company, while attending the University of Scranton. Mammano, now 33, and president of DFM Properties, recalls, as a youngster, holding a flashlight while his father fixed the kitchen sink. “From that point on I was fas (read more)

20 Under 40: William J. Fennie III

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William J. Fennie III, 27, is always knocking on the proverbial door, because he knows one day, one will open. As an investment specialist with Integrated Capital Management (iCM) he cannot take “no” for an answer. “I make cold calls every day to invite f (read more)

20 Under 40: Marcus Magyar

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As an advisor at CAPTRUST Financial Advisors, Marcus N. Magyar, CFP, 30, provides comprehensive wealth management and investment portfolio services to business owners, executives, families and high-net worth individuals. His multi-disciplinary team of pro (read more)

20 Under 40: Heather Davis

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Heather M. Davis, 33, director of marketing and communication, is responsible for creating, overseeing and implementing a strategic marketing and comprehensive communications plan for The Commonwealth Medical College (TCMC). She is also responsible for pr (read more)

20 Under 40: Alexandria Duffney

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Alexandria Duffney, 30, is competitive by nature and loves a good challenge. These qualities have led her to her position as associate director of graduate admission at Wilkes University. Here she works with prospective students interested in enrolling in (read more)

20 Under 40: John Culkin

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John Culkin’s tenets inform: “Less haste equal more speed; the same boiling water that softens the potato hardens the egg, it is all about what you are made of, not the circumstances surrounding you; and don’t ask someone to walk a mile in your shoes, bef (read more)

20 Under 40: Conor O'Brien

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“What could be worse than getting to the end of your life and realizing you hadn’t lived it,” mused Conor O’Brien.” As co-founder and executive director of the Scranton Fringe Festival, O’Brien, 25, is responsible for leading the development of the overal (read more)

20 Under 40: Jessica Siegfried

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Jessica Siegfried, 38, is senior designer with BlackOut Design Inc., where she is responsible for all creative design at the full-service agency, from traditional branding and print to collateral and front end web design. “I’ve always had an interest in t (read more)

20 Under 40: David Johns

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David Johns’ career path has been shaped by his diverse experiences. As director of structural engineering at Greenman-Pedersen Inc., Moosic, Johns, 39, ensures that his engineering and consultant teams provide clients with their best effort. “We complete (read more)

20 Under 40: Robyn Jones

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Robyn Jones, 38, president of ReferLocal LLC, has learned just as many lessons from her business successes as she’s had from her failures — and she believes it’s important to share that knowledge with her employees. After graduating from American Universi (read more)

20 Under 40: Nisha Arora

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Nisha Arora, 36, tries to be the best version of herself every day. As general counsel for ERA One Source Realty Inc., she realized she cannot control other’s behavior so “I try to focus on myself and how I can be better,” she explained. Arora’s responsib (read more)

20 Under 40: Justin Sandy

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Starting at a young age in Hazleton, Justin C. Sandy, 33, found a passion for running. He became a member then a coach for Misericordia University’s cross country and track and field programs. “It was at Misericordia that I also garnered the profound sati (read more)

20 Under 40: Dr. Ariane Conaboy

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As a doctor of internal medicine at Physicians Health Alliance, Dr. Ariane M. Conaboy, 34, realizes the importance of human life and how fragile it can be at times. Conaboy graduated from Scranton Prep and the University of Scranton with a double major in (read more)

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Chen

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Crystal Window & Door Systems’ Northeast Pennsylvania manufacturing plant is in Benton.

By Steve Chen

Crystal Window & Door Systems is a national manufacturer of vinyl and aluminum windows and doors with five production facilities and distribution in more than 40 states around the country. While our main factory and corporate headquarters are located in New York City, we have expanded production operations over the past 30 years to Chicago; Riverside, California; St. Louis; and now Benton Twp. in Lackawanna County.

In October 2015, Crystal Windows acquired a 226-acre industrial property off Interstate 81 with an existing 336,000-square-feet building. Since that time, we’ve renovated a significant part of the building, begun production operations and hired 50 workers from the local community. Five-year plans call for further building renovations, expansion of production and a workforce of perhaps 350 to 400 employees. Tens of millions of dollars will be invested in the facility and will be generated in new economic activity for the area.

Great news, of course, but why did Crystal Window choose Northeast Pennsylvania for this large expansion? What can be learned from Crystal’s decision-making process that might be useful for attracting other major firms to the area? I’ll try to explain some of the reasons why Crystal, a New York City-based manufacturer has decided to grow in Lackawanna County.

First is the area’s availability of large industrial properties at affordable prices. In New York City and much of its surrounding environs, it is impossible to find properties for manufacturing that exceed 50 acres. Smaller spaces go for wildly exorbitant prices since industrial property competes with commercial, retail, office and multi-family housing real estate. For example, a recent review of existing industrial buildings for sale in New York City reveals an average list price per square foot of $627, compared to $30 to $55 per square foot for existing industrial buildings for sale in Lackawanna County,

The existing building on the new Crystal property, while not immediately suitable for our operations, has a usable quality construction building envelope. This enabled us to shave at least a year off production startup, compared to a scenario requiring construction of a completely new building. As we modify the building, we are seeing that Northeast Pennsylvania construction costs are lower than New York City’s by perhaps 30 percent, another factor in the region’s favor.

Since our Northeast Pennsylvania factory will integrate its operations with our New York plant, proximity to New York City is critical and Lackawanna County has that going for it. The travel time between the two facilities by car or truck is approximately three hours. A round trip with time for a meeting, material delivery or finished window pickup can easily be made in a regular workday.

The Scranton area also offers extraordinarily good highway access. Interstates 81, 380, 84 and 80 all serve the region, making many major metropolitan areas well within a day’s drive for delivery of finished products. The great highway system and Crystal Window’s very close proximity in Benton Twp. to I-81 exits 201 and 202 also make it convenient for employees commuting to work.

The Lackawanna economic development officials and the Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce have been superbly helpful. Without their involvement, Crystal might never have been aware of the real estate opportunities in the area. They also played a proactive role in the final real estate purchase closing, which was invaluable.

Their knowledgeable, experienced staff understands the needs of businesses and know ho to assist dynamic, growing companies. Through their introductions, Crystal has made dozens of valuable contacts with the local business community, contractors, material suppliers, professional services and government officials.

The Greater Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area, with more than 500,000 residents, provides Crystal Windows with a great potential workforce. We’ve hired more than 50 to date and plan on hiring hundreds more in the next few years. New employees come to us with a strong work ethic, initiative, knowledge, skills and in many cases practical manufacturing experience. Workers who understand, appreciate and are interested in manufacturing are increasingly hard to find in many areas of the country.

A company is only as good as its employees and we are very happy that Northeast Pennsylvania offers workers so positively inclined toward manufacturing.

Beyond these reasons, the region offers many benefits yet to be realized. Transportation of raw materials by rail to our new factory in larger bulk quantities may provide cost efficiencies far beyond what trucking provides. The Scranton area offers such transportation options, and we’ve begun preliminary exploration of possible rail line extensions to our facility.

Also the area abounds with institutions of higher education. Through internships, graduate recruiting or production and logistics joint projects, local two-year and four-year universities and colleges will surely play a future role in Crystal Windows’ growth and success.

Northeast Pennsylvania stands in stark contrast to New York City which has innumerable direct and indirect costs of doing business. Taxes, regulations, mandates, fees, tolls and other costs that come with manufacturing in New York City challenge us daily. Things like high local sales tax, municipal income taxes on employees, restrictive and unnecessary labor mandates, exorbitant bridge tolls and unrelenting traffic congestion are the straws that broke the camel’s back and contributed to Crystal’s decision to expand in the greater Scranton area and not in New York City.

All the advantages Northeast Pennsylvania offers reflects a region with an extremely supportive business climate and one especially focused on manufacturing. These regional attributes are important to promote. Manufacturing and other industrial businesses forced out of rising cost metropolitan areas like New York and Philadelphia, or states like Connecticut or New Jersey, are seeking new locations with just such a supportive business climate. Crystal Windows is delighted to have chosen Northeast Pennsylvania and is enthusiastic that other manufacturers make the same great choice.

Steve Chen is chief operating officer, Crystal Window & Door Systems Ltd. Visit crystalwindows.com.

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