Good morning. It's Farm Show week in Pennsylvania. The event got off to a rocky pregame when a food vendor pulled out over Covid-19 concerns. Then the state agriculture secretary recommended people stay away if they have concerns for their health or the health of vulnerable colleagues or family members. It's okay if you're waxing nostalgic for bird flu.
Forward BizNewsPA Forward BizNewsPA


Closing one business to build another

Gene Clark had two growing businesses on his hands. He had space, ultimately, for just one.
  • So, the CEO of Lancaster-based food-service supplier Clark Associates said he pulled the plug on the one that was good in order to focus on the one that he believes can be great.
  • "It's tough because both businesses were profitable and doing really well," Clark said.

What businesses: One is Hometown Provisions, a local food-service supplier in Central Pennsylvania that Clark Associates bought about four years ago. The other is an experiment launched around the same time to sell perishables and frozen food through the company's existing ecommerce channel, WebstaurantStore
  • Both businesses operate out of a warehouse in Willow Street, south of Lancaster.
  • Clark Associates had been hoping to expand the facility last year, Clark said. But the timing and costs of construction were not working out, and both businesses risked running out of room.
  • Clark decided to close Hometown Provisions and focus on the frozen food and perishables business. It distributes products nationally and has been growing 100% a year, Clark said.
  • "This is really not an experiment anymore. There's something here," he said

What something: Restaurants spend more on frozen food and perishables than the non-perishables that Clark Associates has traditionally focused on, like condiments, as well as equipment ranging from refrigerators to knives.
  • The purchase of Hometown Provisions gave Clark Associates its first refrigerated facility and thus the ability to venture into a new market.
  • Competitors include giants like Sysco and US Foods, as well as a host of smaller companies, Clark said.

What's next: Hometown will wind up operations by early February. Clark Associates is working to ease the transition for both employees and customers. Hometown delivered food, equipment and supplies to restaurants, retirement communities and other food-service operations within a two-hour drive of the Willow Street facility,
  • About 60 people work at the facility, Clark said. More than half work for the ecommerce side and the remainder are being offered other positions within Clark Associates, which operates more than a half-dozen businesses. 
  • At the same time, Clark Associates is helping customers find new suppliers, whether that means going to other company units or to former competitors of Hometown Provisions, such as Mechanicsburg-based John Gross & Co., Clark said.
  • The closure may have caught some customers off guard. But, said Clark, "We tried to give several weeks and also do it in the first quarter, which is traditionally a slower time of year."

What's extra: Clark Associates recently paid $6 million to buy the former Locust Grove campus of Lancaster Mennonite School in East Lampeter Township.
  • The campus is next to the corporate headquarters of Clark Associates, where about 350 people work. The company employs more than 5,000 overall, including at distribution centers around the country.
  • The company was not looking to buy, Clark said. But it could not pass up the opportunity when it was offered and expects eventually to expand onto the former school property.
  • Plans are still in the works, Clark said. But he envisioned a place not just for sitting at desks but for trying out the roughly 400,000 items sold by Clark Associates.
  • "It could be a refrigerator, a blender, a kitchen hand tool, knives, graters," he said. "Literally, you name it, we can be testing."

Did you know that you can sponsor biznewsPA -- and reach more than 1,200 regional business leaders every weekday morning?

Quick takes

WHAT SOLD: Dailey Harvey Eye Associates. The Camp Hill ophthalmology practice has been acquired by OCLI Vision, a New York-based eye practice with offices in Connecticut, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. An OCLI spokesperson declined to disclose terms of the deal but said Dailey Harvey likely would keep its original name and add branding from OCLI.
  • Dailey Harvey's staff includes Dr. John Dailey, Dr. Todd Harvey and optometrist Christopher Holt. They are staying on, according to a press release.
  • Like other multistate medical practices, OCLI works with an entity that provides management and business services.
  • In OCLI's case, the entity is New York-based Spectrum Vision Partners, which is owned by Blue Sea Capital, a private equity firm in West Palm Beach, Florida.

WHO’S MAKING PROMOTIONS: NuPaths, an IT workforce-training company in Harrisburg. The company promoted two executives this month as it gears up for expansion outside of Pennsylvania. Andy Petroski, formerly chief learning officer, has been named president. Stephanie Keller, formerly a program manager, has been named chief learning officer.
  • NuPaths was co-founded in 2018 by Harrisburg University and entrepreneur Pankaj Agarwal. 
  • The company offers shorter, lower-cost non-degree paths for people interested in the IT field, which faces a shortage of skilled people.
  • Agarwal, a founding trustee of the university, had been the company’s president and CEO. He is now the CEO, where he will focus on long-term strategy and growth.

What growth: NuPaths is looking to expand beyond Pennsylvania, where it has already trained more than 360 people for in-demand IT jobs.
  • The company is working with a partner in Maryland and has joined a program that could lead to opportunities in other states, including California, Florida and Texas, Petroski said.
  • Funded by the U.S. Department of Labor, the program is called Tech Quest

WHO'S HIRING: Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney. The Pittsburgh-based law firm has hired a former Wolf administration official for its Harrisburg office and lobbying group. Rob Ghormoz, most recently a senior adviser to Gov. Tom Wolf, has been named a principal in Buchanan Ingersoll's government relations group.
  • As an adviser to Wolf, Ghormoz focused on environmental issues, energy policy and economic development.
  • Ghormoz left the administration for a stint in 2019 to work at Harrisburg-based lobbying and communications firm Triad Strategies
  • Before joining the Wolf administration, Ghormoz was an aide to Sen. Bob Casey.

WHO'S GOT ENCOURAGING WORDS: Commissioners in Cumberland County. They are encouraging county residents to weigh in on a developing strategy for improving Interstate 81, a major highway running through the county. How? By responding to an online survey posted by the Tri-County Regional Planning Commission and other entities with a hand in highway planning.
  • The deadline for comments is Jan. 14.


Got questions? Got feedback? Interested in supporting BizNewsPA?
Contact us at
Compiled and written by Joel Berg

Copyright © 2022 BizNewsPA, All rights reserved.

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp