Local firms have good year

Local business and industry leaders said despite a tough economy, 2012 was a good year.

“We had a great year; it was our best year ever. Our sales were up 11 percent worldwide and up 14 percent at our Tipton business,” said Nino Vella, president and CEO of New Pig Corp. “We launched New Pig Energy and we added a new product, the Pig Grippy Mat, which has been very successful.”

New Pig Energy is a wholly-owned subsidiary of New Pig Corp. that will provide containment products and services for drilling and hydraulic fracking companies throughout the United States.

The Tyrone plant of Albemarle Corp. also experienced a banner year, said Randy Andrews, plant manager.

“We had a record profitability year. Our business is very solid. We are full and need to expand. There is no capacity for any new products; our product lines are full,” Andrews said. “We can’t hire any more right now because we are at our limit.”

Business was up 4 percent at DelGrosso Foods in Tipton, said Michael DelGrosso, vice president of global sales and marketing.

“Our greatest achievement was another year of growth and being able to add a few more jobs during tough times,” he said.

McLanahan Corp. in Hollidaysburg, which is comprised of six operating divisions, has 65 product lines with each one including a variety of machines. It had an “OK” year in 2012 after a record year in 2011, said President George Sidney.

He said 2011 was the corporation’s best year in its history “by a long shot.”

“It was a tremendous year but we have had to go offshore. [President Barack] Obama has crushed our domestic markets. He is not kind to the mining industry,” said Sidney, whose company manufactures equipment used in the mining industry. “He is trying to move the mining industry out of the United States.”

McLanahan Corp., which also produces equipment used in sand processing, recently landed the largest contract in company history, a $50 million contract with Suncor Energy in North Alberta, Canada.

“That is a 2-year project for us. We just got approved for the first half; the second half won’t be approved until October. It depends on the Keystone XL Pipeline project. We are waiting for Obama to approve that,” Sidney said.

Marty Marasco, president and CEO of Altoona-Blair County Development Corp., said 2012 was a good year but not a banner year for his organization.

“It was a busy year, a challenging year, a rewarding year and a rather exciting year that presented some real opportunities for future growth and development,” Marasco said.

Highlights included the completion and opening of the Gardner Denver facility in the I-99 Enterprise Campus in Antis Township and the $20 million Value Drug construction project in Allegheny Township, Marasco said.

Blair Candy, which had been at 1215 Seventh Ave. for 52 years, moved into the former Imler’s Poultry building on Beale Avenue.

The move has been a good one for the company.

“The economy seems to be going one way and we are going the other way. We are finding ways to keep it going and trying to grow,” said President Pat Dandrea. “It has been a big change for us. We have done more advertising, and people have followed us through the move. In the long run, the move will be a plus for us.”

Joe Hurd, president and CEO of the Blair County Chamber of Commerce, said the Buy Here Live Here campaign has been successful in the county.

“The initiative has made a considerable impression on businesses and consumers since the time that it was introduced last March. It’s incredibly difficult to change a mindset, or more appropriately to create one for local buying, but we’ve already made important strides in that direction,” Hurd said. “The real accomplishment will take place when the local economy shows tangible signs of vibrancy.”

Wolf Furniture President Doug Wolf said on the sales side, the year ended better than it felt.

“In the furniture business, you need to deliver a lot of value to move the consumer. We had a pretty good year on the selling side, but it didn’t feel like business was good. Every sale has to be put together well and well executed to have anything happen,” said Wolf.

His company also opened its first store in Virginia, in Leesburg, in 2012.

Imler’s Poultry officials said their volume has been stable, which was an accomplishment in today’s economic climate. Partner Fred Imler Sr. credited the employees for their good service.

“You really have to work to retain business. It is very competitive and difficult when expenses continue to grow,” Imler said.

American Eagle Paper Mills in Tyrone had a decent year in 2012, said Scott Igou, executive vice president.

The company expanded its size sheeting capability by purchasing a cut size sheeter – a piece of equipment which enables the company to produce more cut size copy paper, Igou said.

Some officials said finding workers continues to be a challenge.

“Our biggest challenge is hiring new talent in some key areas. We will be going into a hiring mode. The jobs we have are very specialized and it is hard to find the talent to bring to Tipton,” said Vella of New Pig. “We hope to add between five and eight jobs.”

While looking back at 2012, officials are also optimistic looking ahead to this year.

“We are very optimistic. We do not really plan to grow our distribution area. We are just trying to have more items for our existing customers,” Imler said.

DelGrosso and Wolf also are optimistic about 2013.

DelGrosso said he is excited about the growth of the specialty brand, La Famiglia DelGrosso, in the Rocky Mountains and the West Coast.

Wolf noted that while company officials are cautious, they are finding that their more expensive products are selling better.

“We do expect if consumer confidence improves, the furniture industry will see a nice bump,” he said.

Marasco sees good things ahead in 2013.

“The other thing we initiated in 2012 was trying to secure a property to advance a new business park. Hopefully in 2013 that will come to fruition with an agreement and construction of a new facility,” Marasco said. “We believe there are a great number of opportunities that could present themselves. Some of our local companies are talking about some major expansion projects, and we hope they are initiated in 2013. We have a couple of clients we have been dealing with that may lead to some new jobs and investment in 2013 and beyond.”

Mirror Staff Writer Walt Frank is at 946-7467.