Honoring Business

They may not be the two best known or even the biggest businesses in Lycoming County, but each is making important contributions in the way of jobs and services.

Appellation Pre-Fab was recognized Tuesday as the Williamsport/Lycoming Chamber of Commerce’s Emerging Business of the Year, while Discovery Machine earned the distinction of the Phillips/Plankenhorn Small Business Award.

The annual luncheon at the Holiday Inn recognizes local businesses and volunteers in the business community.

Appellation Pre-Fabrication, Montoursville began in 2009 with just five employees but in the short time of its existence has grown to around 150 people.

The company, specializing in natural gas pipeline fabrication, installation, and repair, is riding the wave of the natural gas industry.

“It’s a boom, but it’s a long boom,” said owner Bill Emick.

As a result, his company, has provided plenty of jobs in recent years, and that’s how he’s been able to grow it.

The company is committed to hiring local people.

As for the award?

“I got other things on my mind, but I do appreciate it,” Emick said.

Discovery Machine,Inc., 454 Pine St., Williamsport, employs more than a dozen people, many of them highly skilled and educated who are involved with artificial intelligence software systems.

As part of a short video presentation featuring the company, Pennsylvania College of Technology President Davie Jane Gilmour commented, “They are the types of jobs you don’t expect to find here.”

CEO Anna Griffith recalled the origins of the company.

More than a decade ago, she and her husband, Todd, moved from Atlanta to the area. Todd, a Bucknell University graduate, had returned to the school to teach, but after a time decided he wanted to start his own business.

“I said whatever honey,” she laughed. “So here we are.”

Griffith, who had worked for a research firm following her college and graduate work, said she knew little about running a company, but feels fortunate to have had the local business community here to help out.

Griffith said the work is very satisfying, and she feels lucky to have “incredibly talented” employees.

Much of their business is connected to the defense industry.

The company holds four U.S. patents.

“We look forward to being here for many years to come,” she said.

Also honored were SEDA-Council of Governments Joint Railroad Authority, Lycoming Valley Railroad and Penn Valley Railroad for their efforts in bringing the Pumpkin Express and Polar Express train rides to Williamsport.

Williamsport/Lycoming Chamber of Commerce President Vincent J. Matteo said the events during fall foliage and holiday seasons have been popular with children in recent years.

Penn Valley Railroad owner Jeff Pontius said the train rides make an indelible impression on children.

“We do it for the kids,” he said.

Ron Walko was recognized for his two-year tenure as chairman of the chamber board of directors.

Matteo noted that during that time virtually all the chamber’s programs grew.

“It’s really been an honor,” Walko said. “It’s really been great.”

Richard L. Dill, vice president and chief financial officer of Brodart, will take over as chairman for the next two years.

Jeff Bower was recognized for his service as chairman of the Industrial Properties Corp.