Erie Chamber Blog
Monday December 3, 2018 

Submitted by Dan Hackett, Account Manager IGS CNG Services

A new, public compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling station just opened this week in Fairview!  The new public station is located at 6411 Howard Drive and was built by IGS CNG Services to support current and future vehicles that run on CNG in and around northwest Pennsylvania and northeast Ohio.  This project was financed (in part) by a grant from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Commonwealth Financing Authority, as well as support from National Fuel. 

With extremely convenient access on and off Interstate 90 (Exit #18), this CNG station features two CNG dispensers that support two fueling hoses each.  Passenger vehicles, all the way up to large semi-trucks that run on CNG fuel, will enjoy the stations ability to fast-fill their vehicle at a rate very similar to gasoline or diesel fueling stations. 

This state-of-the-art CNG fueling station is built with a substantial amount of materials from Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Wisconsin. The station uses natural gas provided by National Fuel’s nearby pipeline system.  The natural gas is then sent via above ground pipe to a large dryer made by Erie’s own PSB Industries.  Once the gas is dried, it is piped into two 250 horsepower natural gas compressors made by Ariel Corporation (Mt. Vernon, OH).  The compressed gas is then sent via high-pressure pipe to above ground storage cylinders made by CP Industries (McKeesport, PA).  The dispensers that you fuel from are a product of ANGI Energy Systems (Janesville, WI).   

Natural gas is extremely plentiful in Pennsylvania and Ohio and offers a tremendously clean-burning, American, fuel option.  It is also more affordable than the average costs of gasoline or diesel fuels.  

For you readers that have a fleet of trucks and might be interested in diversifying your fleet with some CNG trucks, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection is currently offering grant dollars (up to $40,000 per truck) to offset the incremental cost of CNG trucks. 

This new, public CNG fueling station is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and is unmanned.  All major credit cards are accepted, as well as most fleet cards.  IGS CNG Services also offers their own fleet fueling card if you are interested.

Thank You!

Wednesday December 5, 2018 

A Ribbon Cutting Ceremony commemorated the occasion

On Wednesday, December 5th we held a ribbon cutting ceremony for Aveanna Healthcare celebrating the opening of the facility on Penninsula Drive. 

Pediatria, which has been serving the City of Erie for the past 8 years and Care Unlimited, which has been serving 6 counties in NW PA for the past 14 years has announced that it is changing its name to Aveanna Healthcare.  Pediatria, the only Medical Day Care Center in Erie and Care Unlimited a leader in pediatric and adult home healthcare has been a part of Aveanna since March 2017 when Epic Health Services merged with PSA Healthcare to become one team.  

Ishan Arvin, Administrative Director of Pediatria states, “Pediatria is the only Medical Day Care facility that serves the city of Erie and Erie County.  Pediatria provides skilled nursing, in a day care center, to children with medical needs”. 

“As with Care Unlimited, Aveanna’s care is focused on the needs of the individual we serve,” said Trey Proctor, Location Director of the local office.  Our team of professionals supports patients and their families with services in the home.  

Based in Atlanta, Georgia, Aveanna Healthcare has been a recognized leader in pediatric and adult homecare for more than 30 years.  Aveanna has more than 200 locations in 23 states.  A privately owned company, Aveanna is dedicated to providing trusted care with compassion, quality, and clinical excellence.  For more information,

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Monday December 10, 2018 

Eighteen individuals complete Fall EA Program

Tuesday evening, December 4th, 18 new Erie Ambassadors graduated from the 9-week training program. Hosted by Erie Regional Chamber member The Schoolhouse in Fairview, the graduating class, their family members and employers gathered in celebration and accomplishment.

Brian Slawin, Regional Director and Portfolio Manager at the Ben Franklin Technology Partners, served at the inspirational speaker for the evening, pointing out all the good things in Erie, and the importance of "the pin". Mr. Slawin is also an Erie Ambassador alumnus.

The fall class joins the nearly 600 individuals who have gone through the program.

Erie Ambassadors serve the community through volunteer activities that positively impact the community and support the mission of the Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership. The Erie Ambassador program is designed to train community professionals and citizens interested in the history and promotion of our region. The course examines numerous aspects of the community, providing in-depth information from some of Erie’s top civic leaders.

Additional hosts for the Fall EA sessions were as follows: The Masonic Temple, Asbury Woods, Accudyn Products, Renaissance Centre, The Non-Profit Partnership, The Brewerie at Union Station, Erie Water Works, Penelec, Erie Maritime Museum, Scott Enterprises, and VisitErie. Thank you all so much for the warm welcome and teaching class participants more about your fields of expertise!

Congratulations once again to our Fall Erie Ambassador Graduates! Now, go out and do!

View Event Photos

Interested in learning more about the Erie Ambassador program? Applications are now being accepted for the Winter/Spring Erie Ambassador sessions. Visit for all the details on the program, class schedule, and application. 

Photo Credit: R. Frank Photography

Tuesday December 11, 2018 

Hosted at Sugar and Romolo Chocolates

We had a full house for the December Connect 4 Coffee. The event space, Sugar, at Romolo Chocolates, was filled with reminders of the kid in all of us with the colorful candy walls and cotton candy clouds. Our members shared information about their businesses and had plenty of time for networking as well.

A little about our host:

Tony and Jennifer Stefanelli shared a bit about Romolo's and about Tony's years on the chocolate making industry. He also mentioned the 8th Street location is now 25,000 square feet with the addition of Sugar a year and a half ago. Tony announced they have recently acquired property on Peach Street and are planning an expansion concentrating on their ice cream products. Yum! 

And here is what we learned about some of our members in attendance this month:

  • Community Health Net offers multiple services at multiple sites
  • At Grifols Biomat, healthy donors are screened and evaluated prior to donating. The collected plasma is shipped to North Carolina where it is manufactured into life-saving medications for people with chronic diseases. Donors are compensated for their time spent.
  • The Non-Profit Partnership is a 350 member organization that offers education and training to non-profit professionals in the region. Mark your calendars for October 29 for Non-Profit Day 2019!
  • The United Way is a local organization with local staff doing very good things for those in need. Ninety-nine cents of every dollar donated in the Erie area stays in the Erie area which funds programs and initiatives like the Imagination Library and Community Schools. And don't forget about 211, the free tax preparation program. 

View Event Photos Here

Mark your calendar for the first Connect 4 Coffee event of 2019! Our host will be Asbury Woods on January 8th.


Wednesday December 12, 2018 

A popular business model among brands offering digital services, Freemium means giving something away for free while gating other, more valuable services behind a pay structure. If you've engaged with brands like Skype, Hootsuite, Evernote, or Spotify, you already have a good understanding of how this works. Learn the ins and outs of the Freemium business model.

Different Freemium Structures

Business owners who choose to offer Freemium services have multiple options when it comes to structuring their business model. Some of the more popular Freemium models include:

Free forever plans. In the case of Evernote, a note-taking app that continues to improve features for teams, there is a basic plan that is free for anyone to use. The basic plan does have limitations, but it is a "base" product that is still valuable - until you need it to be more powerful. With Evernote, the basic plan currently limits syncing to two devices and data transfers to 60MB per month. The paid options increase these limits while adding other features, like pdf markup and offline access to notes. The business goal, in this example, is to get customers to fall in love with the product and ultimately become willing to pay for it.

Ad-driven Freemium products. Take virtually any mobile gaming app on the market and you'll see what makes these Freemium. While the game is free to play and enjoy, attaining new levels or switching back to the home screen may be accompanied by ads. For some app developers, ad revenue is primarily used to support the cost of the app. For others, ad revenue equals profit and an opportunity to cross-market other apps the consumer may enjoy.

Freemium with paid perks. Unlike our Evernote example, bonus features contained within a Freemium product are one-time purchases meant to enhance a user's experience of the product. With this model, we're not asking for a long-term commitment; instead, we're convincing the customer to make an impulse purchase (which adds up to serious revenue). Next time you're on Facebook, try a game like Candy Crush to see this in action. You start with a set, limited number of game "boosters" or helpers and, once they're gone, your next option is either to spend a long time playing the game to earn them yourself or, for a nominal fee of $.99, purchase these enhanced extras and bust your way through candy-themed puzzles like a pro.

Initial phase Freemium. Sometimes a benefit for startups and entrepreneurs, offering a product for free can be a great way to elicit feedback, test the market, and perfect the product offering. Hulu is a great example of this idea. Hulu started by streaming content online completely free for customers. Granted, it wasn't prime-time quality content, but in the world of Netflix, it was a pretty sweet deal. Hulu used this trial period to learn what customers watched and gradually changed its offering to accommodate the market. Now, Hulu only offers paid plans in its quest to rival Netflix.

Toying with the Idea of Freemium?

As Harvard Business Review points out, there are ways to maximize monetization of Freemium services and not all businesses "get it right." To land lifetime customers, Freemium companies are tasked with effectively anticipating and managing the conversion lifecycle, creating customer evangelists who promote the brand willingly and innovating their products offerings as the market changes.

What is your favorite Freemium product or service? Tell us in the comments below!

Friday December 14, 2018 

-Jimmy Smith, Operations & Advertising Manager at Prep and Villa’s Hagerty Family Events Center

When you think of a typical sales person what comes to your mind? Some of the words that I think of are: Pushy, too many positive statements, annoying, and forceful. All of these are adjectives to describe someone who is only thinking about themselves. The sales person is attempting to get the customer to make a decision because of their OWN needs. Whether that’s to meet a quota, get a higher commission, impress their boss, etc. They don’t have the customer in mind and that’s what is wrong with the persona of a sales person.

When I started my career in sales, I hated the idea of being a “salesman” because of the words I described. The idea of cold calling people to try and get them to buy something terrified me. It made me uncomfortable picking up the phone which lead to me not being confident when talking to people on the phone and that resulted in no sales being made. I would think to myself there has to be a better way to how I am doing this! 

I started to search for and read various books on the topic of selling and came across a book called “See You At the Top” by Zig Ziglar. Ziglar was a charter member in the establishment of American Salesmasters in 1963 and has written over 30 books on the topic of sales. He had success and credibility to prove he knew what he was talking about, so I searched for my answers within this book. 

There was a lot of really great information I learned from his book but the one phrase that has stuck with me through the years is “you can have anything you want in life as long as you help enough other people get what they want”. Wow! This completely revolutionized my thoughts on the idea of being a salesman. For the first time I took a step back and decided to look at myself as someone who can go out and try to help people! I can provide solutions to problems that people have by the products that I offer. 

This not only changed my thoughts on my job as a salesman, but it also gave me confidence when going out into the market place. I no longer was uncomfortable by discussing the products I had to offer because I put the OTHER PERSONS NEEDS first on my list of objectives! If I didn’t have a solution to a problem they had, then I didn’t try to push anything on them. 

As simple as this may seem it completely changed my viewpoint on sales and allowed me to grow my clientele at an exceptional rate! I would encourage anyone who is struggling with sales to take a step back and ask yourself what your motive is. Is it to hit a sales quote or is it to see if someone has a need and if you have a product that can help them?

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