To read our full newsletter please click here: winter-2016-newsletter
To read our full newsletter please click here: winter-2016-newsletter
In the summer of 1984, Jules Patt opened up the Lake Raystown Resort on the shores of Raystown Lake. Fast forward to April 30th, 2013 when Jules’s children, Samantha and Josh, decided to buy the business from their father. Samantha and Josh then opened up the company Pure Events to manage the Lake Raystown Resort. I got to speak with Samantha and Josh to learn more about their experience with running Lake Raystown Resort for the past three years and how they uphold their father’s legacy. My first question for the siblings was what it is like continuing the business that their father started and ran successfully. “It’s about upholding the legacy. It’s been great being involved in something that was built from the ground up,” Samantha explained. She told me about how she has grown up with the business and it feels wonderful to be carrying on the tradition. This is a business that her children can be involved with and their children’s children. In a nutshell, Pure Events owns and operates Lake Raystown Resort which is a 400-acre outdoor destination. Pure Events leases this land from the Army Corp of Engineers. Because of this unique business, Samantha and Josh never have the same day twice. Samantha told me, “We are very actively involved in the day-to-day operations of Lake Raystown Resort and we always help out where we are needed.” Josh complimented that statement by explaining how sometimes they make pizzas or lifeguard, whatever is needed that day. Samantha and Josh are very actively involved at Lake Raystown Resort and obviously care very much about how the business is run. Recently Samantha and Josh have implemented some updates and changes to Lake Raystown Resort to make it even better. They have added permanent yurts, which are furnished round tents, for visitors to stay in. Samantha explained that these have been very successful thus far and they are looking forward to putting up more of these. They also replaced one of their docks with 64 slips with the ultimate goal to replace one dock per year. Continuing with the renovations and updates, Samantha and Josh renovated one of the lodges about 2 years ago. When updating and renovating Samantha and Josh make sure to give their own style to the grounds while still keeping to their roots and the legacy their father laid down.
The legacy of the Lake Raystown Resort is a very strong and successful one with a rich history. In the summer of 1984, the resort was opened as a small campground, similar to a state park. But as the area grew in popularity, Jules put in more amenities such as water, electric, and cable TV. Lake Raystown Resort started with six cabins and has grown exponentially since then due to the amazing vision of Jules Patt. Jules had multiple properties as a real estate developer such as shopping centers, hotels, and everything in between. The waterpark opened in 1985 and had the highest waterslides in Pennsylvania when they opened. Samantha and Josh have been involved in the resort ever since they were in high school, working different jobs and learning different parts of the business. Once Samantha and Josh graduated college they both moved to different areas of the east coast to pursue their careers. But, their father called them both and asked them to come home to help him run the company. They moved back in 2000 and 2004, respectively, and became limited partners in the business. I asked Samantha and Josh if they had anything they would have done differently in their process of working for, and owning, the business. “Even when you wish things were different, it’s a life lesson. It makes you stronger and more adaptable,” they said. The lesson here is that things may not always turn out the way you thought they would, but sometimes you get lead to a better place.
Enterprise Bank has been connected to Pure Events since 2000, when Enterprise did a round of financing for approximately 30 cabins and 3 houseboats. Joe Novitski has been their relationship manager ever since helping them with whatever they may need. I asked Samantha and Josh about their experience in their 16 years with Enterprise and the response was incredibly positive. “Enterprise has been great, they helped a lot in the purchase of the company from our father. In fact, they were our first call,” they said. They told me that the bank is big enough for the financing they need, but not too big as they get lost in the shuffle. “We know a lot of people by name at Enterprise and it really is a great relationship to have,” said Samantha.
My last question for Samantha and Josh was about what their advice is for those looking to start a business or run a business successfully. “It’s important to stay true to your roots,” they started, “It’s really easy to lose sight of where you started and what started the company.” They also said to make sure you’re involved in what’s going on with the company, and that you’re out there working with your staff. Having a connection with your staff is the backbone of a successful company.
30 years ago Allen Fishman was part of his family’s business when they were sold to a regional public company. As so happens with a lot of those transactions, Allen was able to stay on for a few years as an executive and ended up attending his first board of directors meeting. Allen looked around him and saw the amazing reality of multiple intelligent people coming together to discuss business issues. He wasn’t able to utilize that when he was at the company earlier and thought to himself, “Everyone should be able to have access to a board of professionals that can help discuss business issues.” When Allen left a few years later he started The Alternative Board, also known as TAB, in Denver, Colorado. TAB has grown into a worldwide organization since then with chapters all over the country and the local Pittsburgh chapter has a strong relationship with us at Enterprise Bank. I sat down with Glenn Flickinger, owner of Pittsburgh’s TAB, to discuss TAB and what the small to medium size business owner needs to know about this company.
What TAB does is bring business owners together in a group of their peers to discuss business topics that are relevant to them. Each month, a business owner will meet with a group of their peers for approximately four hours where each member will bring up a topic they need to be counseled in. Since you meet with the same people every month you get a unique view into different companies and industries. Each board, of which there are seven at present in Pittsburgh, has a TAB coach that acts as a sort of “chairman” of the board. The TAB coach works with each business owner on an individual level but also facilitates discussion during the meeting. Glenn emphasized that the coaches are indeed coaches and not consultants. “I would never say anything negative about consultants, there’s a time and a place for them. But, consultants will leave eventually and our coaches stay with you as long as you are a member of TAB.” Each coach will go to meet with the members of their board individually once a month to develop a plan to further their business goals. The coach is also available whenever the member needs them; they’re just a phone call or an email away. Glenn discussed that even though the members they have operate across a wide range of industries, including B2C and service companies, around 85% of the topics discussed are the same. “No matter what industry you’re in you’ll tackle problems in marketing, HR, finance, and other topics,” he said. Ultimately there ends up being 200+ years of experience around that table and that is a priceless resource. Currently TAB is available in 11 other countries and Allen Fishman’s son-in-law, Jason Zickerman, is the President & CEO of the present company. Allen’s daughter is involved with the company as well in the International side of the business. TAB prides itself on being family owned and operated just like much of the companies they work with.
Glenn Flickinger is a banker by trade with experience in both commercial and investment banking in the Pittsburgh area. In 2007, he started the Pittsburgh franchise of TAB in the South Hills. In February of next year he will be celebrating 10 years in business with 68 members involved. “Something I take pride in is the fact that out of the 18 companies we started with, 10 are still members 10 years later,” he explained to me. It’s obvious that Glenn takes a lot of pride in being in such a unique business and being able to help people on a daily basis. Glenn’s role in TAB as the owner of TAB Pittsburgh is all-encompassing. Glenn facilitates and coaches two boards and also oversees all the sales and marketing efforts to recruit new members. Currently at TAB Pittsburgh there are 7 boards, 6 of which are owners boards and one which is a key executive board. The owners boards are exactly as described above while the key executive board is designed for key executives and management of companies, who are not necessarily owners. Next generation owners generally take advantage of the key executive board to gain experience before they take the reins in their company. The members of TAB come from companies that range from all sizes. The core 80-85% of companies involved in the organization are somewhere between $1 million and $20 million in size.
As we came to the end of our conversation I started wondering about how Enterprise Bank and TAB came to get to know each other. Glenn explained that one of our clients was a member of TAB and that was how he was connected to our Loan Development Officer, Dave Miller. As the years have gone on we have also found that a number of our clients are also members of TAB. When Glenn is helping one of his members get connected to financing he always introduces them to multiple banks, but Enterprise Bank is always on the list. Glenn describes his relationship with Enterprise as “very positive” when I asked him. “My members always have a good experience when they work with Enterprise. They’re experienced, knowledgeable bankers.”
My last question was to Glenn as a business owner and someone who works with business owners: What is your best advice for those looking to start a business? His response was clear and simple. “Get sound, trusted professional advice from multiple people who have been there and done that successfully,” he answered. And that’s exactly what you can do at TAB, get sound professional advice from those that are on the same path as you. To learn more about TAB Pittsburgh please visit their website at http://www.tabpittsburgh.com.
Jay and Joanna Bell are living the dream at Bella Terra Vineyards. The couple lives on 17 acres of beautiful land that they’ve transformed into a winery and weddings/events venue. Currently they are renovating the winery/tasting room and will have their grand opening on September 17, 2016. I was privileged enough to sit down with the Bells and talk to them about their experiences opening up their own business. As we started the conversation it was easy to see that the couple loves wine and honestly has a blast working every day on Bella Terra. My first question for the couple was about their motivation to be entrepreneurs and work for themselves. “The opportunity fell in our lap when we bought the property,” Joanna explains. Jay and Joanna bought their 17 acres with the idea that they wanted to capitalize on the amount of land they had. Jay has a strong background in horticulture so they knew that they wanted to do something with farming the land. As they were deciding what industry to go into they started noticing a strong demand for wine in the area and loved wine themselves. At first they were just going to have the vineyard as an added benefit to the wedding/event venue, but as they started to experiment with making their own wines they knew they had to open the winery. It was the perfect venture for them and it’s something they love doing. In regards to the wedding/event venue, currently it is an outdoor venue only, but will be expanding into a building in the next 2 years or so. The wedding/event venue was something they decided to launch because they realized that there was a shortage of places like this in the area. “The difference between getting married in a ballroom at a hotel and a barn is huge. We wanted to have something that was in between,” Joanna said.
I asked Jay and Joanna if they had faced any challenges in starting Bella Terra Vineyards. Jay smiled and started telling me about their contractor. “We had everything set up with our loan for building the wedding/event venue, redoing everything and had the contractor ready to go. Then he called us to tell us he was going out of business.” Jay said that they had to try to find a new contractor and started getting a flood of phone calls wanting the business. As they met with different contractors they started to hear a lot of new ideas about the building and different plans they could be implementing. Jay says that it turned out to be a great thing as they decided to hold off on the building for a few years and take those ideas into consideration. This way they will get a building they love right from the start. Joanna sums up the situation perfectly, “these were terrible things that made us pull out our hair… but they turned into this is what we should be doing. All of those challenges have led us to where we need to be. We don’t even see them as challenges anymore.”
As we continued our conversation I grew more and more curious about the wines themselves. All of these wines I will describe will be available to sample and purchase at their grand opening. Bella Terra has 3 dry wines for the 2015 year, the Reserve, Raspberry Cabernet, and Peridot. Their Reserve Cabernet is described as a smooth oak flavor with a peppery bite and a lingering black cherry finish. Make sure to swirl the Reserve to release all of the flavors. Their Raspberry Cabernet is a surprisingly dry fruity cab that has raspberry and blackberry flavors. Jay and Joanna say that the Raspberry Cabernet has been a surprise hit. The Peridot is a dry Riesling with zesty grapefruit and pear that is described as a mellow drink.
Bella Terra has one semi-sweet wine and 3 sweet wines for the 2015 year as well. The semi-sweet wine is called Riesling which has notes of honeydew and vanilla and is more of a classic Riesling. The sweet wines are Sunday Afternoon, Duvall, and Sweet Finley. Sunday Afternoon is sweet with notes of berry and peach and is known for its beautiful color. Duvall is slightly tart with hints of lemon and plum, and has medium notes of black cherry for balance. The last sweet wine is Sweet Finley and is their most popular wine to date. Sweet Finley has deep, rich flavors of Concord and the subtle, earthy notes of Niagara that gives a sassy and sweet all-around flavor.
Today is Justin’s last day with us as our summer intern and it’s a bittersweet moment. We’ve enjoyed having him here and it will be difficult to see him go. But we are so proud of him and can’t wait to see all that he accomplishes in his senior year of school. We only have amazing things to say about Justin and all that he has accomplished here with us. I wanted to speak with Justin one last time before he left to get his reflections on the summer months. “It was an amazing and unique experience,” he says. He told me that he couldn’t imagine getting the same kind of experience anywhere else. While at Enterprise, Justin was able to work with each department to get a hands-on perspective of our operations. “If I were at any other bank I would’ve been stuck in one department doing unimportant work, but at Enterprise I was able to work in every department and do real work that mattered.” Justin was also able to see the concept of how the information flows through our bank and how each department works with each other to make things happen. But, the greatest thing that Justin talked about was how much he loved the people here. “They welcomed me with open arms and really helped me out.” Justin describes our staff well and says that they took time out of their schedule to work with him and make him feel like they were there to support him. “I wouldn’t have been able to do any of this without them.” Thank you Justin for choosing to intern with us, we will miss you, and we wish you all the best in the future.
When you walk into The Lightning Bug you’re immediately greeted by the happy sound of arcade games. The Lightning Bug is filled to the brim with games of all different kinds that are sure to bring out your inner child. What is The Lightning Bug exactly? It’s a family entertainment center, opened February 20th of this year that is constantly adding new attractions and arcade games. Currently they have laser tag, bumper cars, black light glow golf as well as a large free playground. It is the perfect place for your child’s next birthday party or to stop by and have lunch or dinner any day of the week. As a matter of fact, they also have homemade food that is sure to make your mouth water. But what of the man who created The Lightning Bug from the ground up, Nick Morlino? He is a business man with a long history who decided to open up his own business so he could control his destiny. When asked what his motivation was to start his own business he says very plainly, “my motivation was to be my own boss.” Nick Morlino wanted to start a project of his own and be able to stay in one place for an extended period of time. Morlino’s work experience had him travelling constantly and he began to want to have the freedom to settle down. Morlino is proud to be running such a family-oriented business that brings people together. “I read the positive reviews on Facebook… and it makes me feel proud to be bringing a family entertainment center to Adams Township.” I asked Morlino if there was anything he would have done differently when starting up The Lightning Bug and he was very honest. “There are a few little things that I might have changed… But I surrounded myself with a team that was very knowledgeable and made sure to extensively research the FEC (Family Entertainment Center) industry.” As a business owner, there will always be little things you may want to change or wish you could’ve done differently. But as Morlino expressed, doing your research should prevent you from making any significant mistakes and is essential to ensure your vision becomes reality.
When Morlino started there was just an empty patch of land, which means that he was able to build completely from scratch. I asked about this process and learned some valuable lessons in what Morlino told me. “It was essential to explain the vision clearly to the zoning authority… once you get past that your focus shifts to financing and the selection of a general contractor.” He says that obtaining good value is important when selecting the general contractor but that it’s also incredibly important to have a good initial rapport with them and throughout the construction period. Morlino is very satisfied with the contractor he chose, Rossman Hensley Inc., which made the process easier overall. It seemed to me that Morlino’s journey was a difficult but rewarding one. The best advice he gave? “If you want the building to turn out the way you want, you have to be on site every day.” He stressed that being involved in every aspect of the process is the only way to stay informed of everything that’s happening with your project.
I wanted to ask Morlino about what his advice would be to those looking to start a business. He smiled and said, “Make sure you know about the business, make sure you know how to explain the financials, make sure you have a feasibility study… and then go talk to Randy (at Enterprise Bank) and see if he can help you out.” Morlino found Enterprise Bank through Eric Lamm, who is one of the partners that sold the plot of land to Morlino. Morlino says he found the experience of working with his relationship manager, Randy Davidson from Enterprise Bank, to be very good. Morlino describes Randy as, “Very helpful, very honest and supportive when I encountered some hurdles.”
On Saturday July 23rd, the Oak Arbor Grille in Bridgewater, PA was celebrating a big achievement. It was their grand opening, and I was lucky enough to have a front seat – literally. I arrived at 5:30 and was seated immediately in the large dining room in full view of the bar. The well-stocked bar had all of the classic drink options that you could want while not becoming overwhelming. The restaurant was casual and inviting with an industrial décor. There were seats at the bar as well as booths and regular tables, which were inside and outside on the beautiful patio. While the grand opening was going on there was also a high school reunion happening in their private room, so it was quite a busy night. Even though they were busy the restaurant didn’t feel crowded or uncomfortable, it was a very relaxing atmosphere. Our waitress came over quickly and was incredibly kind, a consistent smile on her face. As we waited for our drinks I started to notice a theme that I would continue to be aware of all evening; everyone knew each other. There were very few groups of two, most of the groups there were bigger and were socializing with other groups. I also began noticing that whenever someone would walk in they would always be waving to someone they knew and someone would come up and grab them. It seems as though this is a neighborhood hangout where truly “everyone knows your name.” At 6:00 the band, the Vince Anthony Trio, began to play and they were scheduled to play until about 9:00. The band played jazz outside on the patio on the warm summer evening. Once my meal arrived, a burger that was cooked exactly as I asked with a side of fries, I was very pleased. While I was eating I was checked on by my waitress more than once and also checked on by a different waiter. It was obvious that making sure their customers are comfortable is a high priority for the wait staff. As the night continued I found myself looking through the three huge windows that showed the view overlooking the Beaver River. Since it was such a wonderful evening there were boats on the river and the view was spectacular. The evening seemed like a good night for the Oak Arbor Grille.
I am lucky enough to have had the chance to speak with one of the owners, Bill Sluder, about his experience starting Oak Arbor Grille and his thoughts on the opening. Bill, and his partner Luke Boehm, have been neighbors for almost 30 years. As Bill describes it, “One day we sat down and decided to go into this venture together over a glass of wine.” When Bill was younger he actually bartended at the Oak Arbor Grille before he and Luke bought and renamed it. Before he started the Oak Arbor Grille, he was managing restaurants and bartending for many years. When I asked Bill what his motivation was to open this restaurant he said, “I’ve always been in food service and this was an opportunity I just couldn’t say no to. I see the potential in this place and this business.” His goal for the Grand Opening was to get all of the remodeling done, and while they didn’t get it all done, Bill couldn’t be prouder of the splash they’ve made. “The grand opening was amazing… it was the busiest we’ve ever been. We had no issues even though it was our first night with live entertainment and we had our first event in the banquet room. It was the perfect grand opening.” I wanted to see what Bill’s goal was for the Oak Arbor Grille and he knew exactly what to tell me. “I want it to be a destination restaurant.” There’s a revitalization of the area coming with the cracker plant that is moving in soon right down the street. Bridgewater is going to be turning around and Bill wants the Oak Arbor Grille to be a big part of that. Luke and Bill have done some great renovations to the restaurant to make it feel better. They’ve painted the entire interior as well as placed new hardwood in the dining room. They increased the seating on the patio as well as built on the aesthetics of the place and made it less cluttered than it used to be.
I spoke with Bill about his experience with Enterprise Bank and his relationship manager, Joe Novitski. “Joe’s been great. This is the first time buying a business of this kind and he was there to help every step of the way.” Bill prides himself on being straight forward and honest, and he can honestly say that he highly recommends Enterprise Bank and Joe Novitski. My last question for Bill was what his advice was to those looking to start a restaurant. “Don’t!” he laughed, “Owning a restaurant is more of a lifestyle than a job.” Bill explained that this not a normal 9-5 job, and it is a major step to take in your life. If you aren’t willing to commit to being there whenever you are needed, it’s not something you should pursue. “It’s not something to be taken lightly.” On that note, I could tell that Bill cares deeply about this place and has a strong connection to it. He cares about the attitudes of his staff and the attitudes of the customers that come there.
After I spoke with Bill Sluder I went to go find his relationship manager, Joe Novitski, to ask him a few questions about working with Luke and Bill. I asked Joe what his first impression of Luke and Bill was and Joe smiled at the question. “They had a sense of community, they wanted to open this restaurant because they liked where they lived.” I got the impression that Joe knew that Luke and Bill were genuine right off the bat. Joe also told me that Luke frequented the restaurant often before he owned it and came to Joe with a plan to turn this into a successful business. Luke and Bill bought the restaurant on June 10th, 2016 and have been able to turn the place around fast enough to have a successful grand opening! Of course, I had to ask Joe the most important question, how is the food? “It’s very good. You get good sized portions… it tastes very good.” Joe got connected to Luke and Bill through the mortgage broker Tom Kuban, with Ace One Mortgage. Luke and Bill were working with Tom to create a package to purchase the building and the restaurant. Tom and Joe had done work together for a long time and Tom knew that Joe was the right choice for the project. Joe helped Luke and Bill finance the buying of the property and the renovations. While the process was long, 6 months, Joe thinks of his time working with Luke and Bill as very positive. “It was great working with both Luke and Bill, they’re very easy to work with and get along with. They’re very passionate about the restaurant and they want to see it succeed.” Being able to go to the Oak Arbor Grille and see the initial success of the restaurant makes Joe feel very proud. “It’s the best part of being a lender… when you help people realize their dreams.” Talking to Joe you can see that working with people is something he loves doing and he genuinely cares about his clients.
If you’d like to find out more about The Oak Arbor Grille you can visit them at http://www.facebook.com/OakArborGrille or call at (724) 774-0400.