PA Lt. Gov. highlights investments in workforce in Tec Centro visit

Investments in workforce development, technical training, and apprenticeships highlighted Lt. Gov. Austin Davis’s visit Thursday to Tec Centro SW in Lancaster. 

Gov. Josh Shapiro’s budget proposes to increase funding by $23.8 million to build partnerships between career and technical education and industries, trades and entities seeking skilled workers. 

“The governor and I want to make Pennsylvania a leader in innovation, job creation and economic development,” Davis said in a statement. “If we’re going to address the workforce shortages facing our communities, we must empower Pennsylvanians to pursue their dreams, no matter what they may be. 

“That’s why the Shapiro-Davis budget invests more into apprenticeship programs, expands vo-tech and brings career and technical training back into the classroom, to give students that freedom and help prepare them for the future.” 

A provider of bilingual education and skill training for those who are unemployed and under-employed, Tec Centro operates two workforce centers in Lancaster and one in Reading. The Tec Centro centers in Lancaster train more than 1,200 workers. 

Tec Centro plans to open a facility in Lebanon this summer, one in York later this year, and another in Harrisburg in 2024. 

State Rep. Ismail Smith-Wade-El said the proposed budget increase in partnerships between education and industry will build an information bridge between workers, educational institutions, and industries. 

“Workers will know what skills they need to get the jobs they want; educational institutions will design programs that teach workers the in-demand skills they need to thrive; and businesses will be able to fill their talent pipeline with highly skilled workers,” said Smith-Wade-El. “This is a smart and necessary investment in our people, our communities, and our industries that will pay dividends in the years to come.”

Ox Industries shuts down production in W.Va.

Hanover-based Ox Industries – a manufacturer of 100% recycled paperboard, specialty papers, paper tubes and cores, and protective packaging – has halted production at its plant in Halltown, West Virginia.

Dennis Jarvis II, executive director of the Jefferson County Development Authority, confirmed that Ox Industries stopped production Nov. 18 at the facility, which was significantly damaged by fire in June.

About 60 to 70 employees work at the paperboard mill, he estimated. The accounting staff and a small team to manage the building remain, Jarvis said.

A rapid response team jumped in this past Monday to help displaced workers, he said.

Some former Ox Industries employees have also been hired by the TeMa North America plant in Kearneysville, West Virginia, Jarvis said.

TeMa produces insulation and drainage systems for residential, commercial and industrial uses such as erosion control, soil reinforcement, aqua control and green roofs. In November, Ox Industries announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to purchase two uncoated recycled paperboard mills in Aurora, Illinois, and Eaton, Indiana, from WestRock Co., which is headquartered in Atlanta. Last spring, the company also reported that it was expanding its operations in Hanover by acquiring a 150,000-square-foot building.

Paula Wolf is a freelance writer

Second-quarter net sales up 15% for Armstrong World Industries

Armstrong World Industries Inc., the Lancaster-based designer and manufacturer of ceiling and wall products, saw net sales increase 15% in the second quarter compared with the year before.

The earnings report also showed operating income fell 9% from the second quarter of 2021 due to acquisition-related expenses, raw material and energy costs and other factors.

Net sales growth was driven by the Architectural Specialties segment, which jumped 20.3%, and price increases resulting from higher-than-expected inflation.

“I am pleased with the dedicated effort of our teams to deliver another quarter of double-digit sales growth as we continue to navigate a dynamic macro backdrop,” Armstrong World Industries’ President and CEO Vic Grizzle said in a release. “Our top line growth resulted from pricing performance and improved sales volumes for Mineral Fiber, paired with strong execution in our Architectural Specialties segment.”

Grizzle said the global company is optimistic about the rest of 2022 despite market-driven challenges like rising inflation and the lengthening of the commercial project completion cycle.

“We expect our margin performance to improve in the second half of the year following our announced Mineral Fiber price increase effective July 1,” added Brian MacNeal, Armstrong’s chief financial officer.

“With the continued, though uneven, commercial construction recovery, the encouraging performance of our growth initiatives and manufacturing productivity driven by operational excellence efforts,” he said, Armstrong remains confident in its revenue growth outlook.

Paula Wolf is a freelance writer

Armstrong World Industries appoints new CFO

Christopher P. Calzaretta. PHOTO/PROVIDED

Armstrong World Industries Inc. announced Tuesday the appointment of Christopher P. Calzaretta as its next chief financial officer, succeeding Brian MacNeal.

Calzaretta, who takes over Aug. 1, will oversee the company’s finance organization, including accounting and reporting, treasury, internal audit, and tax and investor relations. He brings more than 20 years of finance and public accounting experience to the job and will report to President and CEO Vic Grizzle.

MacNeal will continue in an advisory role through Sept. 1.

Headquartered in Lancaster, Armstrong is a global designer and manufacturer of ceiling and wall products.

“The success of our growth strategy relies on strong execution and commitment to value creation,” Grizzle said in a release. “With that in mind, I am delighted to elevate Chris as our next CFO. Since joining AWI, Chris has demonstrated excellent leadership and has been a great cultural fit. He played a critical role throughout the pandemic, as we balanced the need to manage costs while also investing in our growth initiatives. I know he will be a great business partner given his deep knowledge of our strategy and track record of delivering positive results for the company.”

Calzaretta was hired by Armstrong in 2018 as vice president of finance, Americas, where he has been responsible for business unit finance, corporate financial planning and analysis, manufacturing finance and accounting, and merger and acquisition integration teams. Previously, he spent 10 years at E.I. DuPont de Nemours and Co.

Paula Wolf is a freelance writer.

Lancaster’s High family transitions ownership of High Industries to nonprofit foundation 

S. Dale High, Chair Emeritus, and the High Family announce the transfer of family ownership of High Industries to High Foundation.  PHOTO/PROVIDED


The owners of industrial services group High Industries have sold their stake in the company to High’s nonprofit foundation, a move that the company says will greatly increase the foundation’s philanthropy in the region. 

High Industries’ majority stakeholders and founders, S. Dale High and the High family, said on Wednesday that they have transferred family ownership to the High Foundation. 

High Industries is made up of 11 businesses across 38 locations in six states. The High Foundation, founded in 1980 by the High family, has contributed over $20 million to projects and initiatives toward eliminating the cycle of poverty across Lancaster and beyond. 

By transferring ownership to the foundation, High expects to double its yearly investments and community projects and philanthropic giving from $2.5 million to $5 million annually, said Mike Shirk, CEO of High companies. 

Profits from High Industries will now be managed, grown and distributed into the community through High Foundation under the leadership of the foundation’s Board of Trustees and Robin Stauffer, executive director at the foundation. 

“In the past, dividends distributed from High Industries went to the High Family,” said Shirk. “Now they will go directly to High Foundation for investment in the communities where our companies operate. This immediately grows the resources available to High Foundation. It’s the ultimate commitment to social responsibility and doing business for good in an impactful and lasting way. It’s a truly bold and unique move made possible through Dale High’s vision and dedication to making it happen.” 

High Foundation said it will be scaling the organization to handle the growth from the new structure and has already added additional Trustees to its board. 

“This is a remarkable gift from Dale High to High co‐workers and our communities,” said Robin Stauffer, Executive Director of High Foundation. “This new structure multiplies the already generous impact High Foundation has had and emboldens the Foundation for even greater impact.” 

The announcement follows a $65 million fund established by the foundation through the Lancaster County Community Foundation, last October.