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Pittsburgh’s GiftCards.com is growing by spreading cheer

For Jason Wolfe, it’s all about gifting. He recalls a Christmas in 1977 when his family, on welfare and with no heat, heard a knock at the door and found a box of gifts left by strangers. Soon after, Wolfe starting attending the Milton Hershey School, founded in 1909 for orphaned boys. “As I’ve been given gifts, I want to gift back,” he says.
 
Today, as CEO and founder of Pittsburgh’s GiftCards.com, Wolfe has sold 5.5 million gift cards. This is the busiest time of year, and Wolfe reckons GiftCards.com will finish 2013 with 1.5 million in sales; 2012 closed with one million cards sold.
 
Wolfe founded his company in 1999 and through a circuitous route, launched GiftCards.com in its present form in 2008. “An online rack for gift cards,” GiftCards.com offers Visa, MasterCard and Discover gift cards, national and local brands. Buyers can upload photos, add personalized messages and choose from thousands of designs to craft unique gift cards. The consumer pays $3.95 for the gift card and a greeting card; the merchants pay a back end percentage.
 
GiftCards.com does it own printing and manufacturing, operates offices and a fulfillment center and employs about 100 in Pittsburgh. 
 
Looking to 2014, the company is in the final stages of an acquisition that will likely add up to 20 more employees, in Pittsburgh and out-of-state. (Earlier this year, GiftCards.com acquired San Francisco-based mobile gift app, Giftly.)
 
Through GiftYa, a spinoff company, Wolfe is developing a digital, mobile gift card app. And GiftCards.com is partnering with Carnegie Mellon University on fraud prevention and on developing online bidding auctions for unwanted gift cards.
 
But Wolfe’s primary New Year’s resolution is to continue to build gift card offerings.  “We want to be to gift cards what hotels.com is to hotels or cars.com to cars,” he says. “We want [our customers] to find gift cards for any merchant, anywhere.”

Source: Jason Wolfe, GiftCards.com
Writer: Elise Vider

Ben Franklin Technology Partners invests in 6 NE firms

Christmas came early for six northeast Pennsylvania companies with the announcement of more than $340,000 in new investments from the Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania
 
BFTP/NEP is making loans to these four early-stage tech companies:
 
Bison Analytics, LLC, Lewisburg, $100,000 to continue developing and provide marketing support to the company’s planning and business intelligence software for small businesses. Bison will implement software enhancements, develop a sales strategy for its cloud-based product and analyze follow-on funding tactics.   
 
Cerora Inc., Ben Franklin TechVentures, Bethlehem, $100,000 to finalize software and hardware and commercialize a cloud-based, medical-grade, neuro-diagnostic solution. Cerora is developing a portable EEG brain wave biosensor for use by non-specialists in the field. Rapid diagnosis of brain injuries and disease can lead to early and more effective interventions- yielding cost savings, improved clinical outcomes, and increased patient satisfaction for people with concussions/traumatic brain Injury, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and other neurologic and psychiatric conditions. 
 
CEWA Technologies, Inc., Wyomissing, $75,000 to complete design, construct and test prototypes of a new kind of point-concentrated solar power dish that will deliver power for industrial and institutional applications at a lower cost due to its innovative shape and construction. The dish is capable of providing thermal power for HVAC, power generation, desalination and process heat applications at a cost comparable to fossil fuel-based sources of energy without government subsidy. 
 
Skaffl, LLC, Allentown, 50,000 to complete development of Braket, a new mobile application through which teachers and students can exchange class materials, assignments, completed homework, assessments and grades. This digital application capitalizes on the exponentially growing use of iPads in K-12 classrooms and the needs of teachers as they develop tools and curricula to enhance real-time educational interaction. 
 
Ben Franklin also will provided matching funds for these partnerships between higher ed institutions and established manufacturers.
 
Crispin Valve, Berwick and Utah State University, $8,740, to determine the flow characteristics of a new plug valve for the wastewater industry. Building on its success in the butterfly valve market for the municipal water industry, Crispin Valve is expanding into this new product line.
 
GenPore, Reading and Lehigh University’s Enterprise Systems Center, $8,638 to complete work to expand and optimize operating space, including construction of new clean rooms and addition of new warehouse space, at this manufacturer of porous plastic filters. GenPore specializes in innovative and cost-effective solutions for a broad range of filtration, controlled flow, and separation applications for liquids and gases.

Source: BFTP/NEP
Writer: Elise Vider

Palmyra's Robometrix starting production and sales of its consumer-market robots

Imagine remotely checking in on elderly loved ones with a mini-robot that you move around using your smartphone.  Or playing with your dog while you’re at work. 
 
Robometrix, a startup in Palmyra, is introducing its VisitorBot Mini, a compact telepresence device that can be operated on a tabletop or floor and sells for only $300. The larger VisitorBot Max stands four-feet-tall and, for example, can move around a factory floor to monitor overseas manufacturing from your Pennsylvania workplace. It sells for about $1,200.
 
George Keller, who founded Robometrix in 2010 with his son, Tyler, says the company has spent the last few years doing R&D, building and tweaking prototypes to create “telepresence robots that are as simple and inexpensive as possible. We think we’re pretty much there.”
 
Keller, who has a PhD in biochemistry and whose day job is at the National Institutes of Health, says that telepresence robots are widely used in medical applications. Robometrix’s aim is to bring the technology to consumer markets. 
 
The company is now moving into sales for its hand-built robots. Eventually, Keller says, they expect to go to more conventional manufacturing but “we don’t want to mass produce something that may not be what the market wants.”
 
Robometrix currently has three full-timers and Keller hopes to add a few more part-time positions as the company continues to ramp up production and sales. It helps that Robometrix won first prize recently at the eight-week business mentoring program sponsored by the Ben Franklin TechCelerator@ Hershey, a partnership of the Office of Technology Development at Penn State Hershey College of Medicine, Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Central and Northern Pennsylvania and the economic development arm of the Harrisburg Regional Chamber
 
Source: George Keller, Robometrix
Writer: Elise Vider
 

Nurturing creativity, collaboration and innovation at York’s new CoWork155

What do a photographer, an event planner, an environmental consultant and a clown have in common?
 
They’re all members of CoWork 155, York’s first, only and thriving shared workspace that nurtures a culture of collaboration and creativity.
 
JJ Sheffer, who manages the space and co-founded it in June with Kristin Baker, says, “It’s going beautifully. We knew there was a demand. And we knew there was a sense of collaboration in York. But it has exceeded all expectations.”
 
Randy Byrnes, who owns the building at 155 West Market Street in downtown York, a onetime Sears, Roebuck store, first approached Sheffer about establishing a co-work space there after visiting and drawing inspiration from Lancaster’s Candy Factory
 
CoWork155 offers full- and part-time memberships and amenities including Wi-Fi, kitchen and lounge areas, conference rooms, printers, copiers and fax machines and desk space. But most important, says Sheffer, is the opportunity to think creatively and collaboratively. “They come to CoWork155 to hatch their big ideas,” she says.
 
CoWork155 has also quickly positioned itself as a hub for cool community events, using social media as a primary marketing tool. A recent food truck rally, for example, drew 1,700 attendees, who lined up at 14 trucks in a drenching rain. A live audience was expected earlier this week for the recording of a music podcast.
 
Sheffer is an event planner whose New Muse Entertainment is itself a CoWork155 member. 
 
“One of my favorite things in life is getting people who do not know each other, but should, together in the same place at the same time and seeing what happens,” she says. “We started CoWork155 to bring some of York’s creative thinkers together under one roof.”
 
 
Source: JJ Sheffer, CoWork155
Writer: Elise Vider
 
 

Philly's new Creative Café @ Replica serves coffee and print

Need a cup of coffee and 500 postcards printed fast? Yearning for a pastry and wedding invitations? 
 
Philadelphia’s brand-new Creative Café @ Replica is part café, part lounge, part print shop and part co-work space. Owner Keith Leaphart describes it as a mash up of Kinkos and Starbucks, -- only much better, he is quick to add.
 
Replica was founded in 1979 as a small, black-and-white copy shop. The printing industry has changed dramatically since then, notably with the emergence of superfast, digital, color printing. Leaphart acquired Replica four years ago and has been pushing innovation, both in print technology and the manner of doing business, ever since. 
 
“We don’t want to be transactional,” he says. “We want to be relationship driven and what better way to get to know a client than over a cup of coffee.”
 
The café opened earlier this month on the first floor of the University City Science Center, giving Replica a high-visibility retail presence at a location rife with innovators and early-adopter types. Daily walk-in traffic, which might average 18-20 customers a day at a typical print shop, is instead up to 200 or more.
 
Leaphart views the café as a pilot and hopes to expand the concept locally and eventually nationally, possibly using a franchise model. Replica currently employs 18, at its new location and in Center City, where it maintains a retail shop and printing plant. 
 
The mayor’s office has twice recognized the company, in 2005 and 2011, as one of Philadelphia’s best small businesses.
 
Source: Keith Leaphart, Replica Creative
Writer: Elise Vider
 

Newtown Square's growing Kibow Biotech takes aim at kidney failure

Kibow, a small biotech in Newtown Square, has scored an important legal victory on its path to growth.
 
In a recent decision, India’s top intellectual property board upheld Kibow’s 2009 patent for its marquee product, a probiotic dietary supplement for those with kidney failure.
 
The decision will help Kibow expand its sales of Renadyl to overseas markets. The product is sold online and is classified as a dietary supplement to benefit and help promote healthy kidney function. “We walk a very fine line,” says CEO Natarajan Ranganathan. “We cannot use the word ‘disease’.”
 
Kibow developed Renadyl over 10 years and has performed three clinical trials to demonstrate its efficacy in humans. Ranganathan says Renadyl is aimed at those with advanced renal failure, but not in dialysis. The domestic market alone is huge: 26 million Americans are estimated to suffer from chronic kidney disease and forecasts are that the figure will increase by eight percent annually. 
 
The company also developed Azodyl, a similar supplement for the veterinary market. Licensed since 2006 to Vetoquinol SA, a French company, Azodyl hit $10 million in end-market sales in the U.S. and Canada in 2011.
 
Established in 1997 at Philadelphia’s University City Science Center, Kibow, a family-owned company, is now aiming to transition to professional management, raise capital and launch new probiotic products in its pipeline. Kibow employs 13.
 
A personal goal, adds Ranganathan, a native of India, is reducing health care costs, both in the U.S. and in poor nations where chronic kidney disease often goes untreated.
 
Source: Natarajan Ranganathan, Kibow Biotech
Writer: Elise Vider
 

Netrepid Virtual Incubator aims to grow PA entrepreneurial ecosystem

With the goal of creating a "pre-screened Rolodex of how to start up a company," Netrepid  is launching a pro bono, virtual business incubator for Pennsylvania entrepreneurs.
 
The Netrepid Virtual Incubator will enroll three startups each month for a year of technology services, mentoring and other support.
 
CEO Sam Coyl of Enola's Netrepid, a veteran of Silicon Valley, says the need became apparent to him during involvement with startup weekends in Harrisburg and Lancaster and that the incubator will initially focus on central PA. "That ecosystem just doesn't exist [there]. These entrepreneurs don’t feel they have access to mentors and the support they need to get off the ground."
 
From its data center in Harrisburg, Netrepid will manage the incubator and provide enrolled startups with up to $500 a month in customized technology solutions, such as email, web or cloud hosting. Participants will also get a one-year membership to the Technology Council of PA and access to business mentoring from the incubator's board of advisors, which includes established businesses and organizations including TechQuest PA, the Ben Franklin Incubation Network at Carlisle and the Harrisburg Regional Chamber.
 
The incubator launches on January 1 and applications are being accepted. So far, Coyl says, applicants include several technology startups, a manufacturer focused on streamlining, a medical device maker and a robotics firm.
 
Each month, the board will select up to three participants – two early-stage startups and one startup with a working prototype or minimum viable product – through a rolling nomination and competition process.
 
Coyl hopes the incubator will foster a more robust environment for startups, ultimately providing more access to capital, creating jobs and driving economic growth. "The state of Pennsylvania has a very innovative, talented ecosystem of entrepreneurs, but it’s a best-kept secret," he says. "The goal of this program … is to help accelerate the growth of this ecosystem."
 
Source: Sam Coyl, Netrepid Virtual Incubator
Writer: Elise Vider

Bethlehem's Pivitec is the 2013 Ben Franklin Venture Idol

With a laser focus, a clear grasp of its market, realistic goals and a strategy for achieving them, Bethlehem's Pivitec has emerged as the 2013 Ben Franklin Venture Idol.
 
The company, which develops, manufactures and markets software for live professional audio productions, competed against 10 finalists to wow a live audience and a panel of investors to win the title at a late November event billed as "a cross between  Shark Tank and American Idol." Hosted by the Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania, the evening was also the region's first in-person crowdfunding event.
 
Tom Knesel, Pivitec's president and  co-founder, says his company has grown steadily since its founding in 2010. For the first few years, supported by about $290,000 in BFTP investments, Pivitec focused on research and development. It started shipping small quantities of product  in late 2012 and is now manufacturing and shipping a line of five products to domestic and international markets. (World Electronics in Reading is Pivitec's contract manufacturer.)
 
A musician with an engineering background, Knesel saw the opportunity to replace extensive cables and "big, ugly boxes" onstage with software and wireless mobile devices. Pivitec's primary market so far has been theatrical venues and houses of worship – itself an $8 billion U.S. market.
 
Now Knesel is looking to leverage Pivitec's technology into other markets – convention and conference centers, recording studios, airports – a move that could grow Pivitec's market opportunity to $18 billion worldwide. The company, a resident at Ben Franklin TechVentures, employs three full-timers; Knesel says Pivitec is now transitioning from engineering positions to building a sales force and could potentially add as many as five new jobs in the next year.
 
In the final round of judging, Pivitec completed against Bethlehem's Cerora, a healthcare information technology firm, and Hawley's eVendor Check, which provides high-tech, vendor-selection tools.
 
Source: Tom Knesel, Pivitec
Writer: Elise Vider
 
 

LoanLogics, offering technology for the mortgage industry, wins $11.2 million in venture capital

Fort Washington's LoanLogics, created only seven months ago by a merger, has raised $11.2 million in venture capital to broaden its customer base in the mortgage lending industry. The investment comes from Volition Capital in Boston and existing investors.
 
The mortgage industry has been rocked to its foundation in recent years "and therein lies the opportunity," says CEO Brian Fitzpatrick. "It's been storming pretty bad and we offer shelter."
 
Or, more specifically, software solutions that improve the transparency and reliability of the mortgage process – from loan origination through sales and servicing of loan assets to eventual pay off.
 
Outdated technology can't cope with the battery of rules, requirements and scrutiny resulting from the mortgage crisis, says Fitzpatrick. So, five years ago, Aklero Risk Analytics, a client of Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania, and New Jersey's NYLX began looking at a merger.
 
The combined company, LoanLogics, claims to be the industry's first enterprise loan quality and performance analytics platform that improves loan quality, validates compliance, improves profitability and manages risk. Fitzpatrick says the technology makes it possible for five to do what was once the job of 50 – and with more accuracy – at any concern that has to vet loans – banks, mortgage insurers, investors and others.
 
LoanLogics has a workforce of 92, about 50 at the  Pennsylvania headquarters and the rest in offices in New Jersey and Florida. The company plans to hire sales and marketing personnel as it expands its reach domestically and Fitzpatrick projects a workforce of about 170 in two years. Most of that growth will be in Trevose, where the company is moving in March to a new, 11,000-square-foot headquarters.
 
Source: Brian Fitzpatrick, LoanLogics
Writer: Elise Vider

Bucknell entrepreneurs' ScheduleFast takes off

Working out his sophomore year class schedule at Bucknell, Tony Tomashefski started writing software to navigate conflicts. Now a senior majoring in computer engineering and management, his ScheduleFast is used by roughly 57% of the Bucknell student body.
 
Tomashefski and business partner Zach Crowley, were the first-place winners at last month's Business Pitch Competition, hosted by Bucknell University's Small Business Development Center (SBDC). 
 
"Tony and Zach identified a clearly  understandable problem from their own experience as students and have developed a great solution in ScheduleFast," says Steve Stumbris, the SBDC's director. "The traction they've already achieved was perhaps the most impressive part of their pitch; the majority of the freshman class at Bucknell are already users of their product."
 
Tomashefski says he had never built a website when he decided to share his idea with other Bucknell students. "People started to use the site (feedback was really encouraging) so I kept developing it further and further." He registered ScheduleFast as an LLC a year ago and started to generate some revenue with advertisements. Crowley joined last semester to focus on expansion and marketing.
 
The two young entrepreneurs are currently experimenting with different business models, says Tomashefski, and are attempting to generate revenue off the sale of books through Amazon's affiliate program.
 
"I am currently in the process of writing a mobile app for Android and we should have an iOS app in production sometime next semester," he adds. "We plan on building up the website and pursuing a viable revenue model in the coming months."
 
As first-prize winner, the pair will be helped with their prize of $1,500 and one year's membership in Bucknell's Entrepreneurs Incubator
 
Source: Tony Tomashefski, ScheduleFast
Writer: Elise Vider

Penn's new hybrid incubator/seed fund supports education entrepreneurs

With funding from an array of venture capitalists and investors, four education startups are getting support from the Education Design Studio Inc. (EDSi), a new hybrid incubator and seed fund established by the University of Pennsylvania's Graduate School of Education.
 
Dr. Barbara Kurshan of GSE describes the  $2.1 million EDSi as a "new innovation ecosystem we are building for entrepreneurs, researchers, investors and teachers." A mash up of an incubator, design studio, seed fund and social impact company, EDSi is virtual for now, as it helps launch four startups: Adidapter, ApprenNet, Raise Labs and scrible.  GSE is actively searching for a physical location in Philadelphia, where it expects to locate EDSi next year. 
 
The four startups were among the winners and finalists at the 2013 Milken-Penn GSE Education Business Plan Competition. A new cohort of education entrepreneurs will be chosen from participants at the May 2014 competition.
 
Investors in EDSi include Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania; McGraw-Hill Education; Ron Packard of K12 Inc.; Drs. Steve and Jessica Melman from Dermazoo; John H. Cammack, Managing Partner of Cammack Associates; John Katzman, CEO of The Noodle Companies LLC; the Brigitte and Donald Manekin Family Fund; Gregory Milken; Richard Binswanger, President/CEO of Away To Donate; Dr. Wallace Boston, CEO of American Public Education, Inc.; and Eric Aroesty. 
 
For McGraw-Hill Education, the investment  –  "the company's biggest and most formal foray into the world of startup incubators," according to spokesman Brian Belardi – is an opportunity to potentially partner, acquire or hire innovators in the fast-evolving education technology arena. "We get to lend capital, time and experience," says Belardi, "and we get access to these education startup companies and an ear to the ground in education technology."

Source: Dr. Barbara Kurshan, Penn GSE and Brian Belardi, McGraw-Hill Education
Writer: Elise Vider
 

Bellefonte's Actuated Medical continues to grow with new FDA clearance, new products, more jobs

In August 2012, when Keystone Edge last checked in with Actuated Medical,  the Bellefonte company had just gotten FDA clearance to begin U.S. sales of its TubeClear medical device.
 
Not resting on its laurels, the company has now received additional FDA clearance for its expanded line, is preparing to launch a new product and continues to grow its workforce.
 
President Maureen Mulvihill reports that latest FDA clearance "expands our market significantly." TubeClear is a device that removes clogs in medical feeding and decompression tubes without the discomfort and expense of detaching them from the patient. The new FDA clearance gives the green light to new models that are of particular use with chronically ill patients in long-term care with diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's or cancer, says Mulvihill.
 
The system can provide annual savings of $243,000 for a typical 500-bed facility, she adds, and Actuated has recently signed with a large hospital system and is in process with another.
 
Actuated is also preparing for the January launch of an altogether new product, General Sharp, for low-force insertion of lancets and needles for more humane blood sampling. And the company expects to go back to the FDA again in 2014 with additional models of TubeClear to enable further applications.
 
All of this activity means scaled-up manufacturing in Bellefonte. The company just hired a director of manufacturing  -- its workforce now stands at 24, up from 17 last August – and Mulvihill anticipates continued job creation.
 
Source: Maureen Mulvihill, Actuated Medical
Writer: Elise Vider
 
 

In only a year, prospects for Philly's Cloudnexa are sunny

In less than a year, Philadelphia's Cloudnexa has completed its first round of fundraising, generating $2.3 million in investments, signed multiple, multi-million-dollar contracts, created a workforce of 16 and has just moved into new corporate headquarters at the Philadelphia Navy Yard.
 
And been designated by Amazon Web Services as one of only 22 "premier consulting partners" for 2014.
 
Cloudnexa delivers cloud-management-as-a service through Amazon Web Services with its proprietary software platform. CEO Joel Davne, Bill Testa, MJ DiBerardino and Josh Resnick established the company in December 2012.
 
Davne attributes the company's strong growth to, among other factors, the growing acceptance of cloud computing and its wide application across market segments. "The value proposition is clear," he says. "Do you want to purchase servers or save money on infrastructure? We save [clients] time and energy and we insure their success [with 24/7 customer service out of Philly.]"
 
So far, the public sector, notably federal government and higher education, is the biggest revenue driver for Cloudnexa, Davne says. Major contracts include a $250 million, four-year contract with the Army and others with the Department of Energy, the Department of Education, the University of Minnesota and, most recently, Carnegie Mellon University. Other market segments include large and mid-market private enterprise ("our bread and butter," says Davne) and, recently, Internet service providers.
 
With its success in raising $2.3 million from sources including lead investor Milestone Venture Partners,  Gabriel Investments and Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania, Davne anticipates expanding into global sales and doubling the Philadelphia-based workforce to 32 in 2014.
 
Source: Joel Davne, Cloudnexa
Writer: Elise Vider

Bethlehem's Azevan is developing novel treatments for stress, mood and behavioral disorders

Anti-depressants are a multi-billion-dollar market in the United States, but a full half of patients do not respond to existing drugs. Nor are there any approved medications for a host of other stress, mood and behavioral disorders.
 
Bethlehem's Azevan Pharmaceuticals is aiming squarely at those markets by targeting a different neurochemical system than the conventional SSRI drugs that dominate the market. "We're developing medications that target the vasopressin receptor antagonist system, which is widely recognized for its role in social and emotional behaviors," says CEO and co-founder Neal Simon.
 
The company's most advanced compound, SRX246, a treatment for intermittent explosive disorder, will begin phase-two, clinical trials in the first quarter of 2014 and are expected to take about 18 months, says Simon.  At present, he adds, there is no such pharmaceutical treatment.
 
Azevan is also developing treatment for anger, aggression and impulse control disorders, which often spring from traumatic brain injury, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and personality disorders. Again, no treatments.
 
PTSD itself is the most rapidly growing psychiatric diagnosis in the United States and a major issue in military medicine. Yet, says Simon, most of the drug treatments available are repurposed anti-depressants that are "minimally if at all effective." He is cautiously optimistic that a clinical trial for Azevan's PTSD treatment will get underway in 2014.
 
Founded in 2005, Azevan has raised about $9 million overall from the National Institutes of Health. Other funders are Ascent Biomedical Ventures, Scientific Health Development, the National Institutes of Mental Health,  the Life Sciences Greenhouse of Central PA  and Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern PA
 
Azevan is in ongoing discussions to partner with a large, pharmaceutical maker to ultimately commercialize its drug treatments. For now, the company employs seven, and Simon hopes to add more jobs as clinical trials proceed.
 
Source: Neal Simon, Azevan Pharmaceuticals

Writer: Elise Vider
 
 

Norristown's RxSport is building a better baseball bat and creating jobs

As a fan, David Chandler followed professional baseball's concerns about how frequently bats break, a costly and potentially dangerous problem. As a woodworker, Chandler thought he could build a better bat.
 
His RxSport Corporation in Norristown has perfected a technologically advanced and labor-intensive process that results, says Chandler, in baseball bats of exceptional strength, reliability and performance.
 
In 2010, only one year after its founding, Rx won certification to manufacture bats for Major League Baseball. Since then, the company has captured nearly 22% of the MLB market for maple and ash handcrafted bats.  Players on teams including the Phillies, Washington Nationals and NY Yankees use the company's Chandler bats.
 
Now Rx has received $500,000 in funding from Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania.  The investment will go, says Chandler, to boost production by acquiring "an arsenal of raw material in order to capture market share."
 
High quality wood – much of it sourced from Pennsylvania or nearby – is essential.  More wood bats break today than in years past, the company says, because wood billets are increasingly sawn rather than split from logs to increase yield and efficiency. Sawn wood is less likely to have a straight grain (the straighter the grain, the stronger the bat) and natural defects are harder to detect. Rx uses a labor-intensive method of hand selecting the highest-quality wood, then drying, manufacturing and finishing to extremely high levels of tolerance for dimensions and weight.
 
The company currently employs 13 and is adding another three production jobs by the end of the year. In 2014, Chandler envisions four more hires and five internships. He is also looking at expanding the product line to include metal bats, apparel and other on- and off-the-field products "to help [customers] feel more confident as athletes."
 
Source: David Chandler, RxSport Corporation
Writer: Elise Vider
 
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