York-based Barton Associates acquires North Carolina engineering firm

Barton Associates Inc. announced that Maple Engineering PLLC, a 17-person firm in Raleigh, North Carolina, has joined Barton Associates, expanding the York-based company’s reach in the South Atlantic region and strengthening design capabilities in the multi-family housing and mixed-use markets. 

Maple Engineering will now operate as Maple Engineering, a Division of Barton Associates Inc. 

“The acquisition is an integral part of Barton Associates’ long-term strategic growth plan, and our firms have very similar values,” Michael Rader, president and CEO of Barton, said in a release. 

“The path forward has always been about doing right by our core principles, our staff and our clients,” added Zack Tomlin, the principal and founder of Maple Engineering PLLC. “Becoming a part of Barton Associates allows us to continue on that same trajectory with greater capabilities, resources and experience.” 

Tomlin will serve as the director of operations in Raleigh for Barton Associates. 

An employee-owned company, Barton Associates is a consulting engineering firm providing mechanical, electrical, plumbing, fire protection, and architectural lighting design services. It has nearly 80 employees combined in its York, State College, and Pittsburgh offices and specializes in the education and health care markets while serving other markets such as senior living, corporate/workplace, cultural, libraries, municipal, and sports and recreation. 

Paula Wolf is a freelance writer

Lebanon supply company names new CFO

Michael Bernhardt has been named Chief Financial Officer at APR Supply Co.

Headquartered in Lebanon, APR Supply Co. is a full-service distributor of plumbing, HVAC, and hydronics supplies with 42 locations in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware.

“We’re thrilled to add Michael to the APR family,” APR Supply Co. President and CEO Scott Weaver said in a release. “Michael has an extensive financial background with over 20 years of experience.

“Michael will be a great asset assisting with APR Supply Co.’s rapid expansion as we continue furthering our mission with 101 years of creating enthusiastic customers.”

Bernhardt joined APR Supply Co. from High Industries, a construction and industrial company in Lancaster, where he served as vice president and corporate controller. 

Lebanon-based APR acquires branch locations in southern NJ

APR Supply Co. of Lebanon has acquired three branch locations in southern New Jersey. 

The branches in Bridgeton, Ocean City, and Vineland were formerly part of the Wallace Organization and service local HVAC, Plumbing, and Hydronics contractors. 

A fourth generation, family-owned HVAC and Plumbing wholesale distributor, APR celebrates its expansion as it nears the end of its Centennial year in business. 

“We are excited to expand our service area in the southern region of New Jersey and offer APR’s expanded product line to that contractor community,” APR President and CEO Scott Weaver said in a statement. “We’re excited to also add our second decorative brands showroom to the region, complementing our coastal showroom in Pleasantville.” 

APR is eyeing a combination of organic growth, acquisitions, and new markets as ways to continue its progress. 

Bryan Wallace, co-owner of the Wallace Organization and Manager at Bridgeton Plumbing & Heating Supply Co., praised the advanced warehouse technology and technical support that has been “the hallmark of APR.” 

AJC Professional Services acquired by Syracuse firm

AJC Professional Services LLC, with offices in Harrisburg and Pittsburgh, has been purchased by Syracuse-based Barton & Loguidice, enlarging the multidisciplinary consulting firm’s growing presence in Pennsylvania and the mid-Atlantic market.

According to a release, AJC specializes in mechanical, electrical and plumbing consulting engineering services to private, institutional and public sector clients in the mid-Atlantic region.

With the acquisition, Barton & Loguidice will keep AJC’s Pittsburgh office and merge AJC’s Harrisburg branch into B&L’s Camp Hill office.

The addition of AJC’s six technical staff brings Barton & Loguidice’s total to 350 employees and 17 offices in six states.

AJC founder Eric Horvat will be vice president and branch manager of the Pittsburgh office.

“We look forward to all the opportunities this combined effort will bring in the areas of client service, project development and staff growth,” Horvat said in the release.

“This acquisition fortifies our depth in servicing B&L’s mid-Atlantic clientele, while continuing to expand our geographic footprint into western Pennsylvania,” added B&L President and CEO John F. Brusa Jr. “We are excited to have AJC join our growing B&L team.”

Paula Wolf is a freelance writer.

Future workers get early start in trade skills at Evolve

Patricia Robinson, founder of Evolve Training and Development LLC in Harrisburg, began offering trades classes to Harrisburg youth last January. PHOTO/IOANNIS PASHAKIS –

A Harrisburg-based personal and professional consulting business shifted its focus last year when its owner realized she could ease the workforce gap by teaching future workers about financial literacy and entrepreneurship.

Patricia Robinson founded Evolve Training and Development LLC in 2016 and in January 2018, put together her first trades course: a five-week career program that introduces skills in trades like plumbing, electrical and carpentry  with a focus on kids age 12 and 13.

Hosting classes in common trades was a departure from the former substitute teacher’s usual work at Evolve, but Robinson said she saw an unfulfilled niche she could fill.

“A lot of companies start at high school because they want students to get into the workforce quickly,” she said. “If you start younger, they get into a trend and they see how much they like it and you can shape their mind. You can see where their weaknesses are and they can get help early on. By the time they are seniors they can get into a program easily.”

Classes are taught by Robinson and five local tradesmen who teach skills such as measuring, soldering, how to find fractures in piping and more. Robinson also incorporates soft skills, emphasizing communication.

The goal of the trades courses is to help students realize they have options outside of a four-year college degree after high school, Robinson said. Where students now leave school feeling that a four-year college is the best option for them, future students could be more aware of trade schools as a good alternative.

“Even though the demand for more trade workers is now, this is what the future will look like,” she said. “If we can get students into that mind set, we will get a better return in terms of the investment in these companies.”

Robinson currently offers the courses at the Harrisburg Police Athletic League and Carlisle Hope Station, a nonprofit in Cumberland County that offers job development opportunities.

Essmaria McFall and Jania Weldon participate in an Evolve trades class at HACC’s Midtown campus in Harrisburg. PHOTO/SUBMITTED

Evolve recently signed a three-year contract to provide the classes as electives at Steelton-Highspire High School in Swatara Township, Dauphin County. The opportunity to broaden her program from five week classes to high school semesters is an exciting one for Robinson, who said the program will be a huge jump.

“I am dealing with people’s children and their careers and I need to make sure I instill in them the values they need to take (their schooling) to the next level,” she said.

With the Steel High partnership, Evolve does a majority of its business through its trades program.

Evolve’s programs are also pulling in interest from students’ parents, primarily single mothers who ask if she would teach them as well. This summer, she began offering three day trade classes to mothers and said the reaction has been positive.

“I’ve had three successful classes that women have been coming to,” she said. “Now they are able to be empowered—if they are a first time home owner they can do minor repairs and even if you can’t fix it you can speak the language to someone who can.”

Evolve currently operates out of the Workplace HUB, a co-working space in Harrisburg, and eventually plans to expand to its own building in order to offer more trade classes and coaching.


HB Global acquires New England firm, creates new division

Harrisburg-based HB Global LLC, the holding company for mechanical contractor H.B. McClure, has extended its reach north to New England via acquisition and created a new operating division in the process.

The Dauphin County company on Tuesday announced it has acquired North Shore Mechanical Contractors Inc., a specialized plumbing and piping firm based in Massachusetts that caters to industrial and commercial clients in biotechnology, life sciences and advanced technology. North Shore is a $25 million company covering eastern and central Massachusetts, southern New Hampshire and southern Maine.

HB Global officials said North Shore will become the company’s fourth division. In addition to H.B. McClure in Harrisburg, the holding company also owns IT Landes in Montgomery County and Nash Plumbing and Mechanical in Florida.

Each division maintains brand identity in its respective region and is capable of making acquisitions to expand its regional footprint. Last month, IT Landes purchased Indian Valley Mechanical in Montgomery County.

Indeed, North Shore will follow that blueprint. HB Global’s vice president Jeri Donadee said North Shore, which was founded in 1984, is a well established company in the New England region. HB Global wanted to preserve that brand.

The North Shore deal adds 85 employees to HB Global’s roster, which is now more than 1,100 employees across the East Coast. Donadee said projected revenue this year has grown to about $240 million.

HB Global finished 2018 with nearly $163.5 million in revenue, according to Business Journal records.

Much of HB Global’s growth has come through acquisitions. HB Global, which was formed in 2017 to extend H.B. McClure’s geographic reach outside of Pennsylvania, purchased three companies last year and it has made three deals so far this year.

Before creating the holding company, H.B. McClure had been on a buying spree. After forming an employee stock ownership plan in 2010, H.B. McClure completed 12 deals between 2011 and 2016.


No experience? No problem for HVAC contractor

Skilled workers are hard to find, so a Lancaster County mechanical contractor created a training program that allows it to hire employees with zero experience and train them in the field.

The company, Frey Lutz Corp., just needs people with the right work ethic and a willingness to learn.

“We are hoping to attract people who have been in the workforce but not necessarily in a trade,” said Marci Gohn, director of marketing and business development for Frey Lutz, which is based in West Hempfield Township. “They are hard workers and they show up to work but they are looking for more of a career. That’s the type of person we are after.”

The program is called Trades Basic Training, and it addresses a challenge faced by a host of firms in manufacturing, construction and related trades: They are having trouble finding and hiring people in the skilled trades as fewer young people acquire the know-how for jobs such as plumber and sheet-metal mechanic.

And the labor market overall is tight. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Lancaster County had an unemployment rate of 3 percent in March, down from a high of 8.8 percent in 2010.

“We have been told by a number of companies that if someone applies for a job with them and they have a valid driver’s license, can pass a drug test and have a record of employment, their chances of hiring them are 90 percent,” said William Griscom, president of Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology, which is in Lancaster.

A wider search

Frey Lutz is a mechanical contractor with 150 employees and annual revenue of about $40 million. It provides heating, air conditioning and plumbing in commercial, industrial and residential settings across Central Pennsylvania.

The Frey Lutz training program promises to broaden the pool from which the company can hire. Where it once only accepted applications from individuals with relevant licenses and experience, it will now be actively searching for potential employees without experience or licensure.

For the launch of the program, the company is looking for eight to ten employees with little to no experience in a skilled trade. They will go through three weeks of hands-on training in subjects like tool identification, safety, reading a tape measure, basic plumbing and basic sheet-metal mechanic trades.

From there, they will be assigned to seasoned Frey Lutz employees who will act as their mentors for a year.

The mentors will compensated for the extra work of mentoring. Gohn said the employees who signed up as mentors have shown interest in gaining experience so they can move up into leadership positions.

“We are getting to train the new employee and the mentor is getting leadership experience,” Gohn said.

The new employees also will choose whether they want to become a pipe fitter or a sheet-metal mechanic. Pipe fitters work on the plumbing for construction projects, while sheet-metal mechanics mold and weld sheet metal for HVAC ducts.

Frey Lutz expects the program to cost approximately $3,000 per trainee.

“Your other options when you need labor and you can’t find skilled mechanics is to look at a temp agency and you aren’t getting skilled workers,” Gohn said. “We wanted to invest in people who wanted to work and wanted a career.”

The company doesn’t expect its new pipe fitters or sheet-metal mechanics to be masters of their trade within a year. However, the benefit of an in-house training program, according to Gohn, is that new employees will be inclined to join the company to learn the trade and could be self-sufficient within the first year or two.

Employees that want to become plumbers will need another year of experience before they can get licensed to practice their trade, but Gohn said the company is willing to help employees through the licensing process.

Sheet-metal mechanics should build enough experience in their first year to be able to work on projects on their own, according to Aaron Bankowski, the company’s director of field operations.

Employees that stay with the program for at least a year will pay back the company’s investment in their education. If the company can retain four to five employees after that time, Gohn said the company will view the program as a success.

Frey Lutz is now hiring people for the positions and has already approved four individuals. Gohn expects to reevaluate the program’s success in three months to ensure that the new employees are happy and engaged. Frey Lutz also will decide then if it wants to continue the program and how often.