Business Continuity Strategies Discussed at Learn at Lunch Featuring Thrivent Financial [Video]

Attendees had an opportunity to learn about ways they can protect their business from going out of business in the event of an unexpected event that keeps them from running their business on a daily basis at a Learn at Lunch on Feb. 13. The lunch talk was sponsored by PPL Electric Utilities and held at the Hampton Inn Bloomsburg

Financial advisors Richard Keller and Kerry Maurer from Thrivent Financial in Bloomsburg spoke about steps that business owners can take to ensure their business continues in the event of death, extended sickness or other leave, retirement, or other unexpected event that makes them unable to fulfill their regular day-to-day duties in running the business. Things like buy/sell agreements, special life insurance policies designed for the beneficiary to be able to buy the business, key personnel insurance, and various other subject and concepts related to business succession planning and protection were discussed. 

The entire presentation was broadcast on Facebook Live, and all Learn at Lunch events this year are scheduled will be streamed on Facebook Live as well, so that other interested members and others will be able to hear the presentation should they be interested but unable to attend in person. See below for the entire presentation, which lasts just over 50 minutes. 


Member News – February 14, 2018

Member News

  • Thrivent Financial is collecting items for the Ronald McDonald House of Danville this month from Feb. 1-21. Thrivent will have a collection box at its office located at 417 W. Main St., Bloomsburg, and is collecting small snack items and beverages such as K-cups, juice boxes, and individually-wrapped snack items like granola bars, crackers and cookies. Anyone interested in making a donation can drop it off at Thrivent’s office Mondays-Fridays between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. On Thursday, Feb. 22, the public is invited to join Thrivent at the Ronald McDonald House between 5-8 p.m. where these donations will be presented to RMHD, and attendees can hear about the mission and focus of RMHD, take guided tours of the house and enjoy some hors d’oeuvres and a dessert buffet. 


  • Friedman Electric will host an art exhibit featuring local artist Claude Harrington at its Bloomsburg store, located at 1100 Old Berwick Rd., next Wednesday, Feb. 21, from 3-5 p.m. There is no cost to attend and light refreshments will be served. Attendees can meet the arist, enjoy the arts and grab a snack while also having an opportunity to look around Friedman Electric’s Lighting Design Center, which features a wide range of products to keep homes and businesses a place of beauty, comfort and energy efficiency. This would make a perfect and convenient stop on the way to next Wednesday’s Business After Hours, which will be just down the street from Friedman Electric at Art of Floating and begins at 4:30 p.m.


  • The Central Susquehanna Community Foundation will hold its Annual Meeting next Friday, Feb. 23, from 12-1:30 p.m. at the Pine Barn Inn. A lunch will be served and attendees will be able to hear four speakers. CSCF president and CEO Holly Morrison will talk about “Spreading the Message of Philanthropy” while board member John Kurelja will speak about the regional impact of the CSCF’s philanthropic activities. Two speakers from Wilmington Trust will also talk about the CSCF’s funds’ performances. For more information, see this invitation, and to RSVP, email or call Karri Harter at 570-752-3930, ex. 6, by this Friday, Feb. 16


  • For the seventh straight year, Thrivent Financial was named one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies by the Ethisphere® Institure, a global leader in defining and advancing the standards of ethical business practices. Thrivent was one of only five such honorees in the financial services industry, and was one of 135 honorees overall, spanning 23 countries and 57 industries. Locally, Thrivent is represented by Chamber members and Thrivent representatives Richard Keller, Dave Saul and Kerry Maurer


  • The Central Susquehanna Intermediate Unit’s technology group will conduct a pair of computer fairs for middle and high school students in March, and is seeking professionals in business and the community to serve as judges in specific categories. The middle school fair will be held on Monday, March 5 while the high school fair will be on Monday, March 26. Both will be held at CSIU 16’s building located at 90 Lawton Lane, Milton, and will run from 9-11 a.m. Categories that need judges are animation, computer fair logo, digital movies, graphic design, programming and web page design. For more information, or if interested in serving as a judge, contact Bill Herald as CSIU via email no later than next Friday, Feb. 23.

Thank You Annual Meeting Attendees, Award Nominees and Rolling Pines Staff

This is the second of two posts recognizing and thanking all of the valuable contributors that helped make the 2018 Chamber Annual Meeting a successful event once again. It is the continued support and achievements of these businesses, organizations and individuals that helps the Chamber fulfill its mission of offering programs, benefits and events to its members, giving them a stronger voice in advocacy and being involved in more activities and initiatives in our communities. 

First, thanks to all of the 18 award nominees in each of the four award categories. While only one organization/person could win each award, there was once again a strong slate of candidates, and this speaks to the outstanding work that has been and continues to be done by our members and individuals that work for our member organizations. Their contributions to our community help make it stronger and a better place to live, work and play. Several of the nominees that did not win this year will be eligible for consideration of next year’s awards, and members as well as the public are encouraged to submit nominations for the 2019 awards when they are opened in late fall. 

Second, thanks to all of the more than 200 individuals that attended the Annual Meeting. Your support of the Chamber and its work, as well as the individuals and organizations that were up for the four awards is much appreciated and the Chamber looks forward to continuing its work with you and your respective organizations to help them grow and bring additional value to them. The success of both the Chamber and this annual event depends on the continued support and attendance of our members and guests, so we again thank you for your support. 

Third, a big thank you goes out to the staff at Rolling Pines Golf Course & Banquet Facility and at Lucy’s Kitchen & Catering. The event once again went forward without any issues, and the staff was quite helpful to all attendees. The food from Lucy’s again tasted great and the menu was once again a great recommendation with each item complimenting the next. Also, special thanks to Lucy’s, for once again donating an appetizer selection as a hospitality sponsor. 

Finally, thanks to the Chamber and Chamber Foundation staff — Matt Beltz, Phyllis Jones, Deb Sokol and Jeff Emanuel — for their efforts on the day of the event and in the planning. 

Thank You to the Annual Meeting’s Sponsors

This is the first of two posts recognizing and thanking all of the valuable contributors that helped make the 2018 Chamber Annual Meeting a successful event once again. It is the continued support of these businesses, organizations and individuals that helps the Chamber fulfill its mission of offering programs, benefits and events to its members, giving them a stronger voice and advocacy and being involved in more activities and initiatives in our communities. 

Thanks to all of the sponsors of this year’s Annual Meeting.

Event Sponsor
PPL Electric Utilities




Small Business of the Year Award Sponsor
First Columbia Bank & Trust



Large Business of the Year Award Sponsor
The Columbia Alliance For Economic Growth


Community Progress Award Sponsor
Commonwealth Health-Berwick Hospital Center



Outstanding Citizen Award Sponsor
Berwick Industrial Development Association



Hospitality Sponsors
Century 21 Covered Bridges Realty




Lucy’s Kitchen & Catering






MetroCast Business Services







Corporate Table Sponsors

Columbia County Traveling Library
Commonwealth Health-Berwick Hospital Center
First Columbia Bank & Trust
First Keystone Community Bank (2)
Geisinger Bloomsburg Hospital
Geisinger Health Plan
Ken Pollock Ford-Lincoln
Key Partners Realty
M&T Bank
MetroCast Communications
PPL Electric Utilities
Scott’s Floral, Gift & Greenhouse
Service 1st Federal Credit Union

Annual Award Winners Announced at Chamber’s Annual Meeting

Member businesses and individuals of the Columbia Montour Chamber of Commerce were recognized during the organization’s Annual Meeting on Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018, at Rolling Pines Golf Course & Banquet Facility in Berwick, and sponsored by PPL Electric Utilities.

More than 200 people attended the dinner meeting, which celebrated outstanding member achievements, elected members to the Board of Directors, highlighted Chamber activities of the past year, and previewed the year ahead.

The Chamber’s four annual awards were presented businesses and individuals for their significant contributions to the community. The following awards were presented to the following recipients:

Small Business of the Year
(Sponsored by First Columbia Bank & Trust)
Steph’s Subs

Large Business of the Year
(Sponsored by The Columbia Alliance of Economic Growth)

Community Progress Award
(Sponsored by Commonwealth Health-Berwick Hospital Center)
LCBC Church Columbia-Montour

Outstanding Citizen
(Sponsored by Berwick Industrial Development Association)
Denise Stone, Geisinger

The Small Business of the Year award goes to a member business of 30 employees or fewer than has done one or more of the following: demonstrated business leadership evidenced by diversification and creativity in the development of new products, services and/or markets; demonstrated staying power and positive response to adversity; or demonstrated community involvement.

In an area full of giving people and businesses that support their community, Steph’s Subs sets the example. There aren’t many positive community causes, especially those in Bloomsburg, that owner Steph Severn doesn’t support, and her personality matches her generosity, as she is one of the most genuine people one will ever meet.

The list of ways that Steph and her business support the community is very lengthy. For instance, each fall Friday for the last several years, before every Bloomsburg High School football game, she has invited the team to her restaurant for a free meal. There probably isn’t a nonprofit in the area that she has not donated to in some way, and she also generously gives her time through service on a number of boards and advisory committees throughout her career, including the Columbia-Montour Visitors Bureau, Downtown Bloomsburg, Inc., and Geisinger Bloomsburg Hospital’s patient-family advisory boards.

In terms of staying power, Steph’s product is an area mainstay. Whether one bit into a sub that she made in 1978, or 2005 after she decided to open her own business, or yesterday, the taste is the same. Steady and constant quality is a hallmark of a good business, and Steph and her business certainly have those attributes.

Another part of being a community-minded business is encouraging the next generation. Many a Bloomsburg University or high school student have worked at Steph’s Subs over the years, but these many students have received far more than just a paycheck. Steph personally takes these students under her wing and serves as a mentor to them, imploring them to continue their education, but also do volunteer work and be active, positive citizens in their community, whether that’s here or elsewhere. When we consider the challenges of workforce, this may be the most important thing of the many that Steph and her business contribute.

The Large Business of the Year Award, goes to a business with 31 or more employees, and the criteria is the same as for the Small Business of the Year honor.

Many in the local business community as well as others that work with SEKISUI SPI or its employees have heard great things about its culture and purpose. SEKISUI’s culture includes ensuring total customer satisfaction, providing superior value, caring for the environment, promoting a team spirit among all personnel, and recognizing and rewarding excellence of individuals. Its purpose comes from making positive contributions to society, such as through research and development, being environmentally conscious and committing to zero-landfill, as well as empowering its employees.

Over the last several years, SEKISUI has greatly invested in its culture and its people, as well as its facilities in Columbia County. In 2016, it opened its second manufacturing plant here, its “South campus,” which was part of a $15 million investment in the area. Any business that makes such a significant investment in a region usually only does so if it knows it has an adequate workforce. SEKISUI president and COO Ronn Cort, who has worked around the world and in areas with far larger populations than Columbia County during his career, noted that the workforce in this area is the best he has ever worked with. He serves as an Ambassador for our area in spreading that message.

The people that make up that workforce have been empowered to make a difference in their community, and one conduit of doing so has been the United Way of Columbia & Montour County. Over the last five years, SEKISUI’s employee campaign has grown by 79%, and when combined with the corporate matching and additional donations, SEKISUI’s contributions over the last five years to the United Way have grown by over 250%. SEKISUI also sponsors programs such as Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble’s Theatre in the Classroom, the Chamber Foundation’s Leadership Central Penn, scholarships at both Bloomsburg University and Penn College, and through its “Noble Acts” program, has also given corporate and employee donations to organizations such as Columbia-Montour Vo-Tech, AGAPE, Bloomsburg University’s STEM Magnet Program, the Columbia County Traveling Library, Central Columbia School District and many more.

The Community Progress Award goes to a member business or organization that showed improvement in the internal or external appearance of a commercial property through either new construction, renovation, restoration or remodeling, and completed that construction within the last three calendar years or by December 2017.

Founded in 1986 in the Lancaster area, LCBC Church has grown to 11 campuses in Pennsylvania and is now one of the largest and fastest growing churches not only here but in the country. The Columbia-Montour campus was launched in 2015 in Berwick, and in 2016, plans were made to move to have it more centrally located in the area and have a building that would be able accommodate continued growth.

LCBC Church chose the former Giant Food Stores building on Rt. 11 and Central Road that had sat vacant for well over a decade. It invested $4.2 million to transform this building from an eyesore, to a vibrant, uplifting and inspirational location for its hundreds of weekly churchgoers. Since opening the new church in July of last year, LCBC’s high-energy worship services have attracted thousands. The church here averages about 1,000 in attendance per week, and all LCBC campuses average just over 17,000.

With this investment also comes a commitment, as LCBC Church has a 15-year lease on this property, with options to extend it to nearly 30 years if they choose. Occupancy rates for both homes and commercial buildings are one indicator of a community’s overall health, and how much progress they can truly make. Thanks to LCBC Church, our community has progressed and gotten that much healthier.

The Outstanding Citizen Award is presented to an individual that is an employee or volunteer of a member organization who is involved in civic activities beneficial to the Columbia Montour region and who projects a positive community image.

Now in her second stint at Geisinger, where she currently is a director of service line development with the Geisinger Foundation, Denise Stone has lent her expertise to several community organizations throughout her career, all of which have helped make our community and these respective organizations better.

She currently serves on the Columbia Montour Chamber and Downtown Bloomsburg, Inc. boards, the Chamber’s membership committee, and is a member of the Bloomsburg Rotary Club, Bloomsburg American Legion and Geisinger Bloomsburg Hospital Auxiliary. For just short of a decade, while her sons where in school, she also served as the president of the Bloomsburg High School football boosters.

One of her most notable contributions to our community was as part of her recently concluded service on the board of the Columbia County Traveling Library, which last year purchased a new bookmobile for the first time in over 20 years, with a price tag of $280,000. Additionally, the Traveling Library needs to raise about $40,000 each year to deliver the service the community expects, so it had some pretty significant work to do.

She was instrumental in helping the Traveling Library develop its fundraising capacity, and she immediately lent her expertise and took over as chair of the bookmobile campaign. The Traveling Library board did not have her level of fundraising experience or network, so Denise helped them develop those relationships and expand their network. Her depth of knowledge, personable nature, and determined approach served the Traveling Library extremely well, just as these same attributes have served every organization that Denise has been associated with. When it came time for her service to the board to end a few months ago, the Traveling Library had already raised $200,000 of the $280,000 that it needs to finance the bookmobile.

Denise resides in Bloomsburg with her husband, Matt, and two college-aged sons.