Cumberland: Familiar firms find fresh faces

Robert M. Scaer, chairman of the board and CEO of Gannett Fleming Inc, back row center, was part of the engineering firm's 2016 team for the annual United Way of the Capital Region's Tricycle Race, held to support for United Way. The Cumberland County company has 2000 employees in 60 offices around the world. Scaer became its leader in January.-(Submitted)

Some faces may change, but the big names are largely the same.

Eight out of Cumberland County’s top 10 private companies are the same last year as they were the year before — even in the same order, although some numeric rankings have changed.

What else has changed? Leadership and ownership for two high-profile firms.

Gannett Fleming Inc. announced a new CEO earlier this year, while R.S. Mowery & Sons Inc. transferred ownership to a non-relative for the first time, in a move announced last month.

Engineering success

Engineering and infrastructure firm Gannett Fleming, whose headquarters is in East Pennsboro Township, recorded $388.18 million in revenue last year, up 10.28 percent from 2015. The company employs more than 700 people locally and more than 2,000 people in 60 offices worldwide.

Robert M. Scaer, who had been president and COO since 2009, became the eighth person to lead the firm in its 101-year history when he was named to the post in January.

The company didn’t have to look far for someone to replace outgoing CEO William M. Stout: Scaer has been with the company, in various roles, since 1982.

While well-versed in engineering, project management and company culture, Scaer also has his eyes on the future. In an interview with the Business Journal, Scaer spoke not just about technological advances, but about how he hopes to see the company’s workforce evolve to keep Gannett Fleming ahead of the pack.

“I need to have people around the table that think out of the box and get innovative and think of ways to solve problems that out-value the competition. I know we can’t get the best answer if it’s just a bunch of white guys sitting around the table,” he said. “The more diverse it is, the better answer we’re going to get.”

Following Scaer’s promotion, Paul D. Nowicki succeeded him as COO. Like Scaer, Nowicki started with the company more than three decades ago, and has worked on a variety of large projects.

Building on tradition

After nearly a century, construction company R.S. Mowery & Sons, which does business as Mowery, has placed ownership in the hands of someone other than a family member.

Top private companies in Cumberland County
Ranked by total revenue

  1. Vibra Healthcare LLC
  2. Gannett Fleming Inc.
  3. Post Acute Medical LLC
  4. Sun Motor Cars Inc.
  5. Fry Communications Inc.
  6. R.S. Mowery & Sons Inc.
  7. Karns Prime & Fancy Food Ltd.
  8. Daily Express Inc.
  9. NAPA Transportation Inc.
  10. The Warrell Corp.

The Silver Spring Township-based company last month announced that David Cross bought the company from Don Mowery, who has run the family business for 33 years. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Cross joined the company as president in 2015 as part of a leadership succession plan.

Mowery had a strong 2016, with income of $146.3 million, up 6.33 percent over the previous year. The company employs 64 people locally.

Over the past two years, Mowery has expanded its workforce by about 15 percent, invested in new technology including a cloud-based project management system and mobile devices, updated its web presence and re-branded as Mowery.

Its biggest markets are warehouses, distribution centers, automotive dealerships, senior living communities and higher education, but Mowery also has branched into small adaptive reuse projects, typically renovations under $500,000.

Other highlights

Transportation, food, manufacturing and health care continue to stand out as important segments among privately held companies in Cumberland County, although not all showed increases last year:

• Luxury automotive dealership Sun Motor Cars Inc., of Silver Spring Township, remained high on the list with 2016 revenue of $234.99 million, up 0.6 percent year-over-year.

• Two trucking companies in the county’s top 10 saw revenues dip in 2016. Middlesex Township-based Daily Express Inc. was down 5.61 percent, to $78.33 million, while Hampden Township-based Carlisle Carrier Corp. was down 0.97 percent, to $58.7 million. But another Hampden Township transporter, Napa Transportation Inc., was up 2.3 percent to $77.91 million.

• Supermarket chain Karns Prime & Fancy Food Ltd., based in Silver Spring Township, was up 2.22 percent to $138 million.

• Candy and snack manufacturer The Warrell Corp., based in Lower Allen Township, was down 4.76 percent to $60 million.

• Post Acute Medical LLC, a Hampden Township-based provider of post-acute health care services to facilities in multiple states, was up 7.07 percent, to $346.66 million.

• Also on the list from Cumberland was a major name: Vibra Healthcare LLC of Lower Allen Township. The company remained in the $1 billion club, posting $1.11 billion in revenue in 2016, up 4 percent from $1.07 billion in 2015.

Roger DuPuis
Roger DuPuis covers Cumberland County, health care, transportation, distribution, energy and environment. Have a tip or question for him? Email him at rdupuis@cpbj.com.

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