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Lancaster Tank & Truck Wash bought by Florida company

Lancaster Tank & Truck Wash was recently acquired by Tampa-based Quala, an independent provider of comprehensive cleaning, test and repair services for tank trailers, International Standard Organization containers, intermediate bulk containers, and railcars.

With the purchase of the business at 798 Flory Mill Road, Quala expands its food grade and chemical cleaning capacity servicing the Northeast, a release said. “This facility offers quick and efficient tank cleaning with the food grade certifications that customers require.”

According to its website, Lancaster Tank & Truck Wash was founded in 1987 and specializes in interior tank cleaning. “We offer unparalleled customer service for many of the largest food and non-food manufacturers in the United States and Canada,” as one of the premier tank washes in the Northeast.

Lancaster Tank & Truck Wash, with a workforce of 12, also offers truck washing and decal removal.

Quala’s chief operating officer, Erik Leto, said in the release: “Adding Lancaster Tank Wash to our network further demonstrates our commitment to the food grade market and expands our ability to service customers transporting food-related products along the East Coast.”

Founded in 1986, Quala began independent operations in 2009 and today has 125-plus locations providing total tank solutions to the most active bulk transportation routes and eight of North America’s busiest ports.

Paula Wolf is a freelance writer

ECS to break ground on new headquarters

Lebanon County-based ECS, a commercial cleaning service in the mid-Atlantic region and beyond, will break ground Sept. 9 on its 22,000-square-foot headquarters at Flightpath Sports Park, South Londonderry Township.

The Corporate Support Center is scheduled to open in the summer of 2023.

With more than 400 employees, ECS is currently headquartered on Route 934 in Annville, and has offices in Pennsylvania, Georgia, New York, Virginia and Florida.

It purchased six acres in Flightpath Sports Park in May.

A release said the pre-engineered steel building from American Buildings Co. has been custom designed in-house by HR Weaver Building Systems, Annville, and will feature 17 offices; two conference rooms; a large, open work area; and a welcome center with a glass curtain wall.

Dave Ober Sr., president and CEO of ECS, said in the release, “Our new Corporate Support Center will allow us to further serve our customers and build our incredible team of employees. We have been proud to call central Pa. our home for over 30 years and this facility will further solidify us in the local community and provide new employment and growth opportunities.”

HR Weaver’s president and owner, Chad Weaver, added: “We’re excited to have this to opportunity to work with … Dave Ober and his ECS team. Not only is the building going to be functional and efficient, but it will also be attractive. While working through the design process we came to realize how much Dave takes his employees into consideration while making all the decisions about the construction.”

Paula Wolf is a freelance writer

Pandemic cleaning growth proves fruitful for Lancaster manufacturer 

 

Stoner Solutions in Lancaster County saw significant growth, such as investing in a new vehicle for its fleet, during the pandemic thanks to the success of its home cleaning products. (PHOTO PROVIDED)

Specialty chemical manufacturer Stoner Solutions was performing market testing on its popular glass cleaning “Invisible Glass” products in a bid to make the item more viable in the competitive household cleaning market. 

When the pandemic struck, the East Drumore Township, Lancaster County company found that opportunity as supply chains were disrupted, and local retailers looked to the company to help them fill shelves. 

Today, Stoner has grown substantially as a result of the pandemic, expanding its workforce, opening a new product line and purchasing new buildings and trucks. The company attributes that growth primarily to the massive influx in the purchase of cleaning products during the pandemic. 

Stoner manufacturers specialty chemicals used for automotive care, critical cleaning and maintenance, household cleaning and B2B mold releases. The company’s product diversity allowed it to flourish at a time where businesses were purchasing less manufacturing supplies but consumers were vastly increasing their cleaning supply purchases, said Jon Crothers, operations improvement coordinator at Stoner. 

It got scary there for a few weeks where it got really quiet, but luckily that was very short lived and the pandemic buying of certain cleaning products immediately shot into overdrive and brought us back quickly,” said Crothers. “When one side of the business is down the other side can rock it and it keeps us afloat.” 

Pennsylvania manufacturers had mixed results during the pandemic. While there are many cases similar to Stoner’s where companies had a golden opportunity to capitalize on products they already offered in fields such as food production, cleaning and sanitizing and health care, just as many had to retool their plants to make products like protective plastic barriers and hand sanitizers. 

Most of the manufacturers that retooled their operations to opportunistic markets during the pandemic have shifted production back to their core products, said Tom Palisin, executive director of the Pennsylvania Manufacturers Association. 

(Stoner) was well positioned in that they already had cleaning products in their portfolio so they were able to quickly adjust to the demand and the opportunities,” said Palisin. “Similar experiences of manufacturers who had existing products that were in demand included manufacturers of vaccine vials, cleaning wipes, cold storage tanks, hospital beds, components for ventilators and other examples.” 

Stoner employs about 85 people in Lancaster County and prides itself on a strategy of methodical, intentional growth, which it attributed to how it was able to stave off lay-offs even in the early days of the pandemic when it had yet to see its home cleaning products fly off shelves. 

Stoner’s methodical growth strategy led it to be cautious of making sudden changes to its best selling product during the pandemic as it tried to shift Invisible Glass from its black bottle packaging to a softer look for household use. 

Hiccups in the supply chain led the company to change the packaging of its black and yellow Invisible Glass bottle to the clear bottles it had been market testing well before it planned to. That slowed supply chain also led area retailers to have open space on the fast-selling household cleaning aisle of stores. 

We had opportunities where customers would call and say ‘we can’t get supplier X to fill our shelves. ‘If you can make this product, we can get it on the shelf for you,” said Crothers. “We had been targeting that area. It’s a competitive shelf and hard to get on there.” 

One issue Stoner faced regarding its supply chain was the loss of its wipes supplier for its Invisible Glass Wipes line. Stoner saw that as an opportunity to buy some of that supplier’s equipment and add wipe production to its portfolio. 

“We added wet wipes manufacturing during the pandemic to make sure that we kept supplying our Invisible Glass Wipes,” said Crothers. “Any kind of household cleaning product was absolutely flying. With some of this growth we had and sustained we added another warehouse building to deal with the space we needed.” 

Along with expanding its production of Invisible Glass, leveraging its relationships to grow its chain of suppliers from one or two primary raw material suppliers to a dozen, Stoner quickly rolled out a new cleaner designed for plastic barriers. 

“When we saw plastic dividers pop up in casinos and restaurants, we quickly rolled out a clear plastic cleaner designed for that plastic which got quick attention from suppliers to help with the dust and static and dirty look of those barriers,” said Crothers. “But a lot of what we wanted to do was make sure that we kept the core business intact.” 

Those manufacturers across the midstate that may not have seen the same overnight success as Stoner Solutions during the early months of the pandemic are more than likely seeing that growth now. Many companies have seen a bounce back in production with robust hiring, high orders and new opportunities for reshoring and new business, said Palisin. 

“There are challenges that manufacturers continue to struggle with including finding talent (both entry and skilled) which limits the ability to take on new orders, increasing prices and wages which impact profitability, and supply chain disruptions which delays orders and strains inventory,” he said. “Overall manufacturing helped lead the US and local economy out of the recession and continues to lead economic growth for the region.” 

Designing office spaces with COVID-19 in mind

Commercial real estate projects have returned for architectural and design firms but they look different as businesses design office spaces with COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses in mind.

Like most real estate firms, York-based architectural firm Mulá Group’s business slowed considerably in early 2020 as its clients paused projects and surveyed the damage caused by the pandemic.

Today the firm has seen a lot of those clients return, many of whom want to make permanent changes to protect their staff and clients from COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses.

Those businesses are incorporating UV lighting, air filtration, glass barriers and social distancing into their floor plans.

“It’s been all commercial design changes,” said Madelyn Wolfe, administrative coordinator at Mulá. “Some people do have the thought that in a couple months it’ll be different but other clients are preparing for a permanent change.”

Social distancing space has been a big topic of conversation among Mulá’s clients, with businesses looking to create social distancing space in break rooms, restrooms, locker rooms and more, according to Wolfe.

Along with designing social distancing spaces in their client’s facilities, Mulá has been asked to use UV lighting in its designs, which allows the facility to turn off its normal bulbs and turn on the UV lights at the end of the work day to help sterilize the rooms.

HVAC and other additional filtration systems have also been a much more common topic of consideration, said Wolfe.

“Clients are more frequently asking for systems that remove viruses and particles from a room,” she said. “It has to be designed in a way that allows the air to go through.”

At Mowery Construction in Mechanicsburg, Bill Sutton, vice president of customer experience has seen similar trends with the firm’s clients. Mowery is currently creating Members 1st’s new headquarters in Hampden Township, consolidating several separate offices into one building.

Sutton said that his clients have also leaned into a larger focus on cleaning the air and minimizing airborne hazards in their offices and added that the largest focus he has seen with post-COVID office spaces has been a desire for improved flexibility.

Mowery hasn’t necessarily seen a decline in clients from the pandemic but instead is seeing companies reevaluate what office space they will need as they now bring remote work schedules into the mix.

“I believe most companies have learned about flexible and remote work schedules which has now complicated their decision making about new office space,” he said. “Inevitably, the companies that are thriving will need more office space and more flexible space.”

Sutton suggests that offices should have a mix of spaces for staff to use such as smaller phone rooms for sensitive conversations, small and large conference rooms and large community areas, highlighting the flexible space mantra that many companies seem to be making.

Mowery itself is planning a new office space and Sutton said that in designing the new space, the firm is focused on technology and flexibility.

“We want to afford our employees the flexibility to come and go with seamless interfaces with technology and their co-workers whether they are at home, in the office or on the jobsite,” he said.

However, the changes to facilities seen by some firms are not universal, according to Jill Rohrbaugh, a Principal at Hanover-based Architecture Workshop.

Architecture Workshop has been busy helping their clients in education and manufacturing make accommodations and expansions to coincide with COVID-19, but has yet to see all of their clients future proof their incoming spaces.

“We haven’t had anyone come to us and say that ‘I want a pandemic free, cleanable office,’” she said. “Many haven’t yet thought of this as a forever thing.”

Levine orders all employees, customers to wear masks

Starting Sunday, employers must require all employees and customers to wear masks at work, under an order issued today by state Health Secretary Rachel Levine. The order also requires companies to provide masks for workers, and deny entry to customers who are not wearing one.

Failure to comply could result in citations, fines or license suspension, officials said.

Levine outlined the protocols in a press release on Wednesday, adding that the order is meant to increase worker and customer safety in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This order will ensure continuity across all life-sustaining businesses and will further our efforts to protect the health and safety of all Pennsylvanians,” Levine said. “Together, we can all help mitigate the spread of COVID-19.”

As a part of the new protocols, employers must:

  • Provide masks to employees and mandate that they wear them when they aren’t eating or drinking.
  • Stagger work start and stop times to limit gatherings of large groups entering or leaving the business.
  • Provide sufficient space for employees to have breaks and meals.
  • Conduct meetings and training virtually.
  • Prohibit non-essential visitors from entering the business.
  • Ensure that the business has enough employees while maintaining social distancing.

If an employee suspects, or is confirmed, to be infected with COVID-19, employers are asked to conduct temperature screenings before employees enter the business and send anyone home with a temperature above 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit.

Upon discovery of a positive case, employers must:

  • Close off and ventilate areas visited by that person.
  • Wait a minimum of 24 hours before cleaning and disinfecting all spaces.
  • Alert employees who were in close contact with the individual.

Along with all of the above protocols, businesses operating a public building are ordered to:

  • Require all customers wear masks on the premises and deny entry to those not wearing masks. If the business provides medication, medical supplies or food, it must provide alternative methods of pick-up or delivery of goods.
  • Conduct business by appointment or at an occupancy less than 50%.
  • Alter hours of business to allow for additional time to clean and restock.
  • Install shields or other barriers at restaurants.
  • Encourage use of online ordering
  • Designate a specific time for high-risk and elderly people at least once a week.
  • Schedule handwashing breaks for employees at least every hour.
  • Assign an employee to wash down carts and hand baskets.

The order will be enforced by a group of state agencies, including the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, the departments of Health, Agriculture and Labor and Industry, the Pennsylvania State Police and local officials.