Hershey appoints first chief technology officer

To advance analytics and automation, The Hershey Co. announced Deepak Bhatia as its first chief technology officer and newest member of its executive committee.

Effective Oct. 23, Bhatia will lead the business giant’s global technology strategy, “architecting and deploying digital capabilities that are innovative, flexible and prepared to meet the changing needs of Hershey’s consumers, retail partners and employees,” a release said.

He brings in-depth expertise in developing cutting-edge automated systems, supply chain planning, optimization and simulation, artificial intelligence and predictive analytics, as he was formerly vice president of supply chain optimization technologies at Amazon.

During his 12 years at Amazon in supply chain optimization, Bhatia led the development of large-scale automated decision-making systems dealing with some of the most challenging problems in large complex supply chains, “bringing applied science, software engineering and product management together,” the release noted.

Before to Amazon, he spent 11 years at Applied Materials, where he also built expertise in predictive business analytics to inform product management and innovation strategies.

“We are investing in our people and digital capabilities to strengthen our infrastructure and scale across our growing supply chain and business units,” said Michele Buck, The Hershey Co. president and CEO. “As we continue to double down in this area, Deepak has the expertise needed to successfully lead our technology strategy leveraging end-to-end data, analytics and automation to elevate our employee experience, create commercial value and advance our leading snacking powerhouse vision.”

“I am honored and humbled to be joining Hershey, a company with an incredible legacy and culture,” added Bhatia. “We are experiencing unprecedented technological innovation, and I am thrilled to spearhead the development and execution of a technology-driven transformation that will meet and exceed the evolving needs of our consumers and customers. I look forward to shaping a future of innovation and excellence.”

Paula Wolf is a freelance writer

CPBJ announces ranking for 2023’s Fastest Growing Companies 

Businesses from across the midstate met at the Sheraton Harrisburg-Hershey Hotel on Sept. 12 to hear the final ranking for Central Penn Business Journal’s 2023 Fastest Growing Companies. 

The Central Penn Business Journal’s Fastest Growing Companies recognizes local businesses’ growth. Companies are ranked according to revenue growth over a three-year period, with both dollar and percentage increases taken into consideration.  

The rankings were calculated by SEK, CPAs & Advisors. Companies chosen for the honor had a revenue of at least $500,000 in each of the fiscal years ending in 2020, 2021 and 2022 and showed revenue growth in 2022 as compared to 2020. 

The top 50 winners were honored at the Central Penn Business Journal’s annual Fastest Growing Companies event. 

Photos from the event, as well as a list of companies, can be seen on the journal’s landing page for the event. 

Sponsors included: Social Media Red Carpet Sponsor IRA G. Steffy & Son Inc., as well as Supporting Sponsors Apex Advertising and Linlo Properties, and Celebration Sponsors ACNB Corporation; AVAIL Technology Solutions; Bank of Bird-in-Hand; Centurion Construction Group, LLC; Keller Contracting, LLC; McConkey Insurance & Benefits; PA Options for Wellness, Inc.; Paramount Contracting, Inc.; Schaedler Yesco Distribution; Stonebridge Financial Group; Storage Asset Management (SAM); Swartz Supply Co., Inc; Tanner Furniture; and truNorth Financial Services. 


Temporary Wall Systems opens Allentown-Lancaster franchise

Temporary containment wall provider Temporary Wall Systems has opened a franchise in the Allentown/Lancaster market, expanding its reach further into Pennsylvania.

The business is owned by husband-and-wife team Randy and Winona Smith.

Temporary Wall Systems, part of HomeFront Brands, provides modular wall systems that are designed to be versatile, a release said. The company’s full-service business model simplifies construction and renovation by taking care of the entire containment process, from job site delivery to installation and removal when the project is complete.

The new franchise serves Allentown, Bethlehem, Collegeville, Dowingtown, Easton, Elizabethtown, Exton, Harrisburg, Hershey, Kennett Square, Lancaster, Lebanon, Mechanicsburg, Phoenixville, Pottstown, Quakertown, Reading, West Chester and York.

“Temporary Wall Systems is a great opportunity for us to offer a new solution in the construction and renovation space that is more sustainable, economical and environmentally friendly,” Randy Smith said. “Currently, when a business owner has to separate an area he is renovating from the occupied space, the construction crew has to use drywall and other permanent materials to build a wall. With the TWS system, we provide a reusable and sustainable option that won’t be going to waste after it’s no longer needed.”

“Winona and I love this area and have lived here most of our lives,” he added. “This area has a great combination of medium and small towns near one another. It has a mixture of very rural areas and quaint towns scattered across rolling hills and farms but with the added bonus of being near the big city of Philadelphia. We want to preserve the aesthetic of this area.”

Prior to this, Randy Smith was president of NETZSCH Premier Technologies. Winona Smith works as a pediatric nurse for Reading Hospital.

“We know our strong technical skills, experience managing a team and commitment to customer service will help us make our TWS location a success,” Randy Smith said. “… There is a lot of growth in the area and we’re here to meet the needs of the community as it builds more homes, schools, hospitals and infrastructure.”

Paula Wolf is a freelance writer

Wolf Home Products opens enormous warehouse in Illinois

York-based Wolf Home Products has started operating its state-of-the-art, 1 million-plus-square-foot warehouse in Wilmington, Illinois, a facility designed to create efficiencies and better serve customers across the Midwest.

The warehouse will support Wolf’s national growth strategies, a release said, while serving the Midwest region including western Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota.

As activity ramps up, the facility is expected to be fully operational by the end of the year.

This warehouse – Wolf’s largest building products distribution center in the U.S – will store a full breadth of Wolf-branded products including building products and kitchen and bath products. In addition to expansive product storage and logistics and deliveries, there will also be access to an employee and product training center, showroom vignettes and office spaces. The facility’s storage capacity and education capabilities will better position the company to support and train industry professionals, and to continue delivering high-quality products efficiently, according to the release.

Added Craig Danielson, CEO of Wolf Home Products: “This is a milestone day for us – we couldn’t be more excited about the opening of this facility, and the increased efficiencies it creates to allow us to better service our customers. With multiple capabilities and offerings under one roof, this expansive warehouse signifies our commitment of delivering high-quality building products and fostering business growth for our customers and suppliers in (the) Midwestern market.”

Paula Wolf is a freelance writer

Great Lebanon County PITCH competition opens

The Center for Entrepreneurial Excellence, a free business resource for Lebanon County, has opened the third annual Great Lebanon County PITCH, offering entrepreneurs the chance to win seed money to start their dream business or expand their existing business.

They will compete for a portion of $8,000 in grant money – $5,000 to the winner and $3,000 to the runner-up. This year’s PITCH program will culminate in a presentation Oct. 24.

The center’s chairperson, Lebanon Mayor Sherry Capello, said in a release that “the winners from previous PITCH competitions have done very well – expanding their business offerings, opening their doors, and more. We’re glad we were able to provide some assistance in helping them reach their goals.”

Interested participants will need to complete a business plan. Now through October, the center will provide workshops and SCORE mentoring for entrepreneurs to develop and create their comprehensive business plans.

An Interest to Participate in the PITCH must be submitted no later than Sept. 4. This does not require participation; it just shows a level of interest.

Deadline for the final application and business plan is 4 p.m. Oct. 6.

The Great Lebanon County PITCH will be presented at the Center for Entrepreneurial Excellence, 989 Quentin Road, Suite 1, Lebanon, from 3-5 p.m. Oct. 24.

The competition is open to the following:

  • A business in Lebanon County that is expanding or altering its business model.
  • Entrepreneur(s) with an idea to create a new business that is or will be in Lebanon County.

There is no cost to participate; all the information and the applications are online at thecenterlebanon.org.

Paula Wolf is a freelance writer