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Cumberland County top private companies: Acquisitions, health care trends drive growth

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Bryan Aungst, left, Tom Martin, center, and Colleen Jones of Shiremanstown-based Martin Communications, which grew nearly 20 percent from 2016 to 2017
Bryan Aungst, left, Tom Martin, center, and Colleen Jones of Shiremanstown-based Martin Communications, which grew nearly 20 percent from 2016 to 2017 - (Photo / )

Transportation, health care and retail remain the dominant sectors among privately held companies in Cumberland County.

This year’s county list includes nine of the top 10 companies from last year’s list, with half of those companies reporting revenue growth from 2016 to 2017.

Growing post-acute care provider Vibra Healthcare LLC continues to lead the way in Cumberland County. Vibra finished 2017 with $1.14 billion in revenue, up from $1.11 billion in 2016, and ahead of No. 2 Gannett Fleming Inc. ($410 million).

Rounding out the top three is Hampden Township-based Post Acute Medical LLC, which posted revenue growth of 10.5 percent, growing to $383 million from $346.7 million.

While two health care companies were high on the county’s top 10, they were outnumbered by trucking firms. The list features three.

The fastest-growing among them was Hampden Township-based NAPA Transportation, which saw revenue rise by more than 22 percent last year.

Acquisitions and a more business-friendly tax environment have contributed to NAPA’s expansion, said Ron Accomando, the trucking company’s owner and president.

NAPA has acquired two companies — Penn’s Best and Kapmeyer Trucklines — since December, adding 100 trucks to the company’s fleet. Accomando said more acquisitions could be coming as NAPA looks to increase service to food and consumer packaged goods companies.

“Since the current administration has loosened up the reins on business, the economy in my opinion is firing on all cylinders,” Accomando said.

NAPA is currently renovating about 6,000 square feet of warehouse space at its headquarters to make room for more office space. The renovation will include new meeting rooms and offices, as well as driver lounges.

Recent tech changes for trucking include the roll-out of electronic logging devices, which track drivers’ time behind the wheel. NAPA has been using the devices for about a decade, Accomando said.

Hoping to beef up safety, the company added two-way facing cameras this year in all of its trucks. The cameras capture video of the road and driver habits. The data, Accomando said, can help improve driver training and reduce accidents, which lowers company insurance costs.

Trucking companies also see the cameras as a way to reduce liability after accidents. NAPA, for example, successfully used video to show its drivers were not at fault in two recent accidents.

Retail shift

Although e-commerce has dinged traditional brick-and-mortar retailers, the health care industry has been gradually moving toward a retail model.

The shift has been driven by mergers and other partnerships between health care providers.

Health systems have been expanding into urgent-care facilities and buying up primary care and specialty practices to be closer to patients. They also are building new hospitals in fast-growing areas like Cumberland County.

The trends have led health systems to increase their advertising and marketing. And that has helped Shiremanstown-based Martin Communications Inc., a full-service advertising agency that works with large health care companies such as UPMC Pinnacle.

And as health care providers and insurers focus more on preventative medicine rather than sick care, their messages are changing, said Tom Martin, the firm’s president.

“Health care systems are now saying ‘How can we help you?’ Twenty years ago, it was, ‘Come to us and we’ll tell you what you need,’” he said.

Led by health care work, Martin Communications saw its revenue increase nearly 20 percent last year, growing to $7.2 million from $6 million in 2016.

A growing percentage of that marketing work is tied to digital communications as people gravitate toward new oulets for news and information, according to Martin.

“It’s accelerating all the time in digital,” especially as advertisers try to reach younger people who have grown up in the smartphone era, Martin said.

However, that doesn’t mean TV, radio and billboard advertising is dead. Far from it, he said.

In a region like Central Pennsylvania, where a lot of people drive to work, billboards and radio ads might work. But a different mix might be needed to reach people in areas where commuter rail is more dominant.

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Jason Scott

Jason Scott

Jason Scott covers state government, real estate and construction, media and marketing, and Dauphin County. Have a tip or question for him? Email him at jscott@cpbj.com. Follow him on Twitter, @JScottJournal. Circle Jason Scott on .

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