Crumbl Cookies, Mr. Sticky’s, Nothing Bundt Cakes to open on the West Shore

Three franchises that sell mouth-watering baked goods are coming to Cumberland County.

Crumbl Cookies, Mr. Sticky’s sticky buns and Nothing Bundt Cakes are currently scheduled to open no later than the end of next year’s first quarter.

Started by Phil Poorman and his family in Williamsport, Mr. Sticky’s also has a location in Lancaster. The West Shore franchise will be at 4830 Carlisle Pike in Hampden Centre, Hampden Township.

Blake Shaffer, retail associate with Bennett Williams Commercial, said Mr. Sticky’s is shooting for an opening no later than early January 2023.

In addition to “extremely addictive” sticky buns, Mr. Sticky’s offers “extremely satisfying” sandwiches on its homemade rolls; homemade soups; and salads, according to its website.

The newest Crumbl Cookies will be in Silver Spring Square, 6416 Carlisle Pike, Silver Spring Township.

Shaffer said Crumbl is still early on in the process of permits and buildout, “but to be on the safe side I would say late Q1 of 2023 for a grand opening.”

Crumbl was founded in 2017 in Logan, Utah, by Jason McGowan and Sawyer Hemsley. Since then, it has expanded rapidly to more than 500 locations in 45 states. The business “is honored to be the largest cookie company in the nation and fastest growing restaurant franchise,” according to a release.

More Crumbl Cookies franchises will be opening soon in the region, Shaffer said, including in West Manchester Town Center, West Manchester Township; and Queensgate Towne Center, York Township.

Nothing Bundt Cakes will be at 3540 Gettysburg Road, Camp Hill Plaza, in Lower Allen Township.

Shaffer said the timing for the opening, as of now, will be the late first quarter of 2023, but that’s subject to change with the material delays and staffing shortages in the construction industry.

Dallas, Texas-based Nothing Bundt cakes was started in Las Vegas in 1997 by Dena Tripp and Debbie Shwetz. It now has nearly 450 franchised and corporate bakeries in 40-plus states and Canada, a release said, selling handcrafted Bundt cakes in a variety of flavors and sizes, such as bite-sized Bundtinis, miniature Bundtlets and 8- and 10-inch Bundt cakes.

Paula Wolf is a freelance writer

Inflation eases in July, driven by falling energy prices

The U.S. Commerce Department reported Friday that inflation eased in July, raising hopes that it may have peaked – finally.

Helped by lower energy costs, the personal consumer expenditures index rose 6.3% in July from a year ago, down from a 6.8% jump recorded in June, which was the biggest increase since 1982.

Core inflation, which excludes volatile food and energy prices, climbed 4.6% last month from the year before, following a 4.8% rise in June.

On a monthly basis, consumer prices fell 0.1% from June to July and core inflation inched up 0.1%.

The news also comes on the heels of a reduction in the Labor Department’s consumer price index in July. Inflation began to accelerate in the spring of 2021 as the economy rebounded quickly from the coronavirus recession.

The Associated Press noted that the personal consumption expenditures index is less well known than the Labor Department’s consumer price index, but is preferred by the Federal Reserve as a gauge of inflationary pressures.

One of the reasons is the PCE attempts to measure how consumers are adjusting to inflation by purchasing cheaper store brands to save money.

The Commerce Department report also showed that Americans’ after-tax personal income rose 0.3% from June to July after adjusting for inflation.

Paula Wolf is a freelance writer

Pennsylvania is third-ranked trout-producing state

The state’s trout growers were quite busy in 2021, producing trout valued at $20.7 million.

That’s according to the latest Pennsylvania aquaculture update from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Commercial trout producers in the commonwealth sold 1.55 million pounds of trout last year, valued at $7.13 million, ranking third nationally behind Idaho and North Carolina.

Pennsylvania farmers also produced $13.5 million worth of trout for conservation and recreational purposes in 2021. That ranked third as well, trailing only Washington and Idaho.

These conservation-related trout – 640,000 of which grew to at least a foot – were produced primarily by the state Fish and Boat Commission, cooperative nurseries and private fishing clubs.

Sales of food fish trout 12 inches or longer in Pennsylvania totaled 1.37 million pounds. They averaged $4.54 per pound, compared with $2.01 nationally. Total sales of 12-inch and larger trout were valued at $6.22 million.

Nationally, the total value of fish sales received by U.S. trout growers reached $97.3 million in 2021, an increase of 1% from the year before. Idaho accounted for 35% of the total value of fish sold.

From February to March 2022, Pennsylvania aquaculture product producers reported sales totaling $11 million; sales of trout comprised 65% of that.

The rest was made up of non-trout food fish, sport and game fish, bait fish, crustaceans, mollusks, ornamental fish and other animal aquaculture, such as tadpoles.

Paula Wolf is a freelance writer

ENB Financial reports decline in net income, increase in assets

ENB Financial Corp., the bank holding company for Ephrata National Bank, reported net income of $3.191 million for the first quarter, down 29.2% from a year ago.

Higher net interest income and a lower provision for loan losses were more than offset by lower operating income and higher operating expenses, a release explained.

National Bank operates 13 locations in Lancaster County, southeastern Lebanon County and southern Berks County.

For the three months ending March 31, ENB Financial’s net interest income increased 10.8% compared with the same period in 2021. And interest expense on deposits and borrowings decreased 19.7%.

The corporation recorded a provision for loan losses of $100,000 in the first quarter of 2022, compared with $375,000 for the first quarter of 2021.

Other quarterly income fell $1.642 million, or 30.9%, compared with the prior year, primarily due to a 61.9% decline in gains on the sale of mortgages. “Mortgage production was stable in 2022 compared to 2021, but the rapid market rate increases have affected the margin the corporation is able to obtain on the sale of mortgages,” the release noted.

Also, total operating expenses increased $1.421 million, or 15.5%, as salary and benefit expenses jumped 14.3%.

As of March 31, ENB Financial reported assets of $1.71 billion, up 11.3% from a year ago; loans of $950.6 million, up 12.9%; deposits of $1.52 billion, up 14.5%; and stockholders’ equity of $116 million, down 9.9%.

Pennsylvania unemployment rate falls in December 

Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate dropped from 5.7% in November to 5.4% in December, according to the state Department of Labor & Industry. 

The Commonwealth’s unemployment rate mirror a drop in the country’s rate, which fell from 4.2% in November to 3.9% in December.  

For Pennsylvania, December’s unemployment rate was 1.7% below December 2020’s rate of 7.1%.  

Pennsylvania’s civilian labor force – the estimated number of residents working or looking for work – decreased 18,000 over the month.  

Total nonfarm jobs in the state were up 14,300 over the month to 5,804,600 and jobs increased in eight of the 11 industry supersectors. 

The greatest increase was among jobs in the trade, transportation and utilities supersector, which saw an increase of 9,400. The second largest was leisure and hospitality at 3,300. 

Jobs in professional and business services saw the largest drop, being down 4,100. 

Over 2021, total nonfarm jobs were up 202,200 with gains in 10 of the 11 supersectors. Leisure and hospitality had the largest 12-month gain, adding 80,400 jobs. 

All supersectors continue to remain below their pre-pandemic job levels. 

How Utz went from local to national, and its plans to continue expanding   

The New York Stock Exchange welcomed Utz Brands, Inc (NYSE: UTZ) in celebration of its initial public offering on August 31, 2020. PHOTO/PROVIDED

On August 27, 2020, Utz Quality Foods completed a merger with special purpose acquisition firm Collier Creek and made its debut on the New York Stock Exchange four days later as the new Utz Brands, Inc. 

Soon after going public, the Hanover-based salty snack manufacturer announced that it would acquire ON THE BORDER, a Texas-based manufacturer of tortillas, salsa and queso dips. 

Utz’s acquisition of ON THE BORDER rocketed the company to the third largest manufacturer of tortillas in the country. The $480 million purchase couldn’t have been done without the access to capital that Utz now had as a public company, said Dylan Lissette, CEO of Utz.  

The acquisition gave Utz the opportunity to not only manufacture ON THE BORDER products in-house instead of through third party manufacturers, it also allowed it to integrate the products into its own routes, immediately bringing ON THE BORDER to more store shelves. 

For Utz, an acquisition can mean expanding the company’s geographic reach, breaking into a new product market and expanding into new regions.  

Since going public, the manufacturer has continued to expand through acquisitions, adding Chicago-based snack food maker, Vitner’s;  Nebraska-based filled-pretzel brand, H.K. Anderson; and most recently, Michigan-based R.W. Garcia Holdings and RW Garcia, maker of tortilla chips, crackers and corn chips. 

“What we really wanted to do [when going public] was make the company able to compete on a national scale within the US,” said Lissette. “We could continue to do the things we were good at, which was organically growing the brands that we have and own today, expanding the distribution of those brands across the US, and acquiring brands that made strategic sense for us Having access to capital and going public ramped that up.” 

Dylan Lissette, Chief Executive Officer, stands in front of the New York Stock Exchange. PHOTO/PROVIDED

Strategic growth 

If Frito Lay can serve every retailer in a market selling snack foods today, so can Utz, said Lissette. 

Today Utz serves every region on the East Coast with truck routes reaching every major city from Augusta, Maine to Miami, Florida. 

Nationally, the brand is currently a national player with a strong business in the Pacific Northwest with brands like Tim’s Cascade, Hawaiian and more. 

The company has a wide array of options when it expands to a new city or state or widens its net on an existing market. For example, when it acquired Vitner’s, Utz catapulted its ability to serve the Chicago market by using Vitner’s route system. Simultaneously, it allowed the company to incorporate its power brands, such as Zapp’s and Utz potato chips, alongside Vitner’s products. 

“Some of the mergers and acquisitions are geographic, some are brand-oriented, some are opportunistic,” said Lissette. “We look at it as a core foundational thing that we can do as the Utz company.” 

With its mergers and acquisitions, Utz is building on its already established distribution network with new products that are similar to potato chips such as other potato chip brands, pretzels and tortilla chips. Those products can all be delivered on the same truck, expanding efficiencies for the company, said Gerald Morrison, a business attorney with Harrisburg-based law firm Smigel, Anderson & Sacks. 

Morrison has represented and sold hundreds of businesses, including potato chip company Charles Chips, founded in Lancaster County. 

“The goal is to drive down the cost of operations so you can afford to pay [shelving fees] for that shelf space,” said Morrison. “You drive down cost by selling those snacks on the same truck and selling through the same salesperson.” 

Outside of its mergers and acquisitions, much of Utz’s growth has come from organically expanding its brands through leasing or buying new distribution centers, utilizing or buying a third-party distributor, entering partnerships with businesses and more. 

Utz products line a grocery store shelf. PHOTO/PROVIDED

National growth 

Utz is currently ranked second in the salty snacks market among its core geographies and third nationally. The company operates 17 manufacturing facilities, selling nearly 7 million pounds of snacks per week at more than 100,000 retail stores across the country. 

In its Third Quarter 2021 Financial Results Summary, Utz reported net sales of $312.7 million—a 26.1% increase from the company’s $248 million in the third quarter of 2020. The company also saw net income increase from $18.2 million in the third quarter of 2020 to $25.6 million this year. 

By the end of 2021, Lissette estimates that the company will sell over $1.1 billion in product. 

Utz reported in its December 2021 Investor Presentation that it expects to continue to expand its reach  by focusing on key expansion markets in the South, Midwest and Colorado; and key emerging markets in Florida, Texas, California and the West. 

Utz’s “core” geographies include: Maine, New Hampshire, New York, Maryland, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Massachusetts, Washington D.C., West Virginia, Virginia, Washington, Louisiana and Alabama. 

The company considers its expansion markets to be: Virginia, Ohio, Illinois, Colorado, Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina. The remaining states are considered “emerging” markets. 

“We have a plant outside of Seattle, Washington, and a plant in Goodyear, Arizona. There are fourteen hundred miles between those two,” said Lissette. “We believe, and we are seeing this in our emerging and expanding markets, that that is a huge future market for us to continue to develop.” 

Lissette added that Utz has the brand power to grow in the region as well as the product consumers want. If the company doesn’t have the manufacturing capabilities to meet that demand, it will look to invest further. 

“We want to be sure we focus our time on the areas with the best return for us in terms of access to people, demographics, retailers and customers,” he said. “A lot of that will be the South East and the West.” 

Utz’s national footprint has been growing steadily over the past ten years, with its most rapid growth taking place in the past five years.  

To operate the 17 plants it has under its wing today, Utz must ensure that there is solid communication between them, but it must also maintain the culture, said Lissette. 

The first year or two is the toughest because you are talking about integration,he said. “I remember when we purchased Zapp’s over ten years ago and learned their New Orleans team took a company holiday on Mardi Gras (this year, it takes place on March 1, 2022). We don’t do that in our network, but we didn’t change it either. We work hard to be nimble.” 

Harrisburg International withstands sharp decline in passengers

Harrisburg International Airport’s leadership entered 2020 with high hopes after last year proved to be the airport’s best year on record.

While the Lower Swatara, Dauphin County-based airport also saw record numbers into January and February, any hopes for a strong year were dashed by the pandemic, which brought the number of flights leaving the airport on any given day to single digits.

“Social distancing and air travel do not go well together,” said Timothy Edwards, executive director of Harrisburg International Airport. “We started to see a rapid decline by March 16 and of course that continued through the month of March and has continued since.”

By April, 85% of flights were being canceled daily at the airport with only five to seven flights leaving the facility every day compared to the airport’s average 35 flights a day.

With close to no passengers flying out of the airport, there were no cars parked in the airport’s parking lot and revenue hit rock bottom, according to Edwards.

“There was no business,” he said. “Our concessions were shut down and you barely saw a traveler in the terminal building. It was quite depressing.”

June and July were slightly better thanks to summer vacations. HIA saw a spike in activity in leisure destinations on July 4th, but numbers fell back following news in mid-July that destinations such as Florida and Texas had become hotspots for the virus.

Edwards said the airport has seen some leisure travelers return, but it could be some time before the business sector is flying again.

“It’s the leisure traffic that decided they were ready to fly first,” he said. “Businesses aren’t prepared to release their staff for travel for fear of liability issues. We haven’t seen that come back yet.”

To reduce expenses, the airport enacted an all staff furlough for its 100 full-time equivalent employees of one day off without pay every two weeks. It also enacted a hiring freeze.

More than $4 million in capital investments and operations and management expenses were canceled, pausing a number of large projects planned for 2020, such as refurbishing of one of the airport’s 12 passenger boarding bridges and the installation of a new boiler.

Even with the pay cuts across the facility’s many departments, Edwards said the airport has predicted that it will be losing $11.5 million in revenue between April and December, mostly from the loss of revenue from parking.

Fortunately for HIA, airports across the country were awarded part of a $10 billion pool of funding through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act to keep the country’s national airport system operating. HIA received $9.9 million through the Act, which Edwards said was vital to maintaining operations.

“That $10 million through the CARES Act will pay our debt service for 2020, which will allow us to keep our head above water through the end of this year,” he said. “That funding was tremendously important.”

The airport is currently projecting that by the end of 2020, some 330,000 passengers will have passed through the gate, a drastic change from last year’s 762,000.

The airport is currently operating at a low frequency of flights, but is offering every destination it did prior to the pandemic, except for Dallas, which Edwards said may return by October.

Harrisburg International Airport is owned by the Susquehanna Area Regional Airport Authority, which also owns Franklin County, Gettysburg and Capital City airports.

State AGs ask FDA to drop ban that blocks gay men from giving blood

A letter to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, signed by Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro and 19 other state attorneys general, asks the agency to lift its ban preventing gay and bi-sexual men from giving blood.

The request comes at a time when the nation’s blood supply is low, due to the pandemic.

The FDA currently recommends that men who have had sex with another man in the past three months not donate blood. The guidance was recently reduced from a 12-month waiting period earlier this month.

The letter asks the FDA to remove the waiting period altogether and enact a risk-based rule rather than one based on gender or sexual activity. Not doing so, the letter says, prevents a group of healthy individuals from donating blood at a time it is badly needed.

“It is time to end this dated, discriminatory practice, especially during an emergency when all Pennsylvanians want to play a part in keeping people in their communities safe and healthy,” said Shapiro. “Restrictions for blood donations should be based on fact-based risk factors, not discredited, homophobic presumptions about someone’s life.”

The FDA’s guidance originated in 1983 as a rule that banned gay or bisexual men from donating blood. The rule was changed to a 12-month waiting period in 2015.

Earlier this month, the American Red Cross announced that it has a critical blood shortage because of the decrease in drives and donations, noting that it only had a five-day supply of blood on hand.

Country wide cancellations of blood drives and donations due to the COVID-19 pandemic have greatly affected the nation’s supply of red blood cells, platelets and plasma.