Clients report more than 1,000 jobs, $48 million in benefits from PennTAP help

August 24, 2007

University Park, Pa. -- Bugs and varmints trying to feast on fruits and vegetables protected by environmentally friendly Hot Pepper Wax products get a mouthful. The insect and animal repellents produced by Hot Pepper Wax of Greenville provide a biodegradable defense shield that delivers a mouthful of fiery heat to any pest that tries to take a bite. Thanks to the Internet, much of the company's business is comprised of long-distance clients.

Seeking to improve its Web site to further expand, the company turned to Penn State's Pennsylvania Technical Assistance Program (PennTAP). Don LeGoullon, a PennTAP Senior Information Technology Specialist, with the help of Penn State students studying state-of-the-art Web development, took a critical look at Hot Pepper Wax's Web site, examining such things as navigation, usability, content, image use and search engine optimization effectiveness. PennTAP also educated the client on how to achieve better ranking in searches. As a result of PennTAP's assistance, Hot Pepper Wax reported $50,000 in increased sales and nearly $70,000 in total economic impact.

This is just one example of PennTAP's many success stories last year. Pennsylvania businesses aided by PennTAP reported 1,090 jobs created or retained and $48 million in economic benefits as a result of help in 2006.

According to a year-end report, PennTAP provided 610 cases of technical assistance to Pennsylvania businesses in all 67 counties in 2006, noted Wayne Figurelle, director of PennTAP. Of these cases, 260, representing $11 million in economic benefits and 335 jobs, were from clients in the 37 counties designated as distressed counties in Pennsylvania.

PennTAP has a statewide network of technical specialists who help Pennsylvania businesses improve their competitiveness by providing a limited amount of technology assistance and information to help resolve specific technical questions or needs. The program also connects clients with University expertise and resources and with other economic development services providers.

Below are some additional examples of how PennTAP aids businesses:

-- American Tube of Nazareth has been manufacturing small-diameter welded stainless steel tubing for more than 25 years. However, with the passage of a new chromium standard under OSHA, American Tube needed to be sure it was not only in compliance with the regulations but also ensure that its employees were safe from harmful chromium. Thanks to a long-standing relationship with Bill Paletski, a PennTAP environmental health and safety specialist, the company knew who to turn to. Paletski did research that determined they were maintaining a safe working environment and also selected an air testing lab from a list of several so that they could verify the amount of chromium emitted during maximum operations. The testing lab took samples and verified that the chromium levels were well below the permissible exposure limit established in the OSHA regulation -- thereby making employees feel more secure about their healthy work environment. The client was able to save 30 days of potential down time, and for an investment of $1,000 the company avoided spending $70,000 for a variety of compliance tests.

--Brownlee Lumber Co. in Jefferson County produces hardwood lumber for use in cabinetry, furniture and millwork applications around the country. With the recent spike in energy costs, the company wanted to determine if alternate sources of energy were viable options for them, in particular wood residue generated on site. Initially Brownlee Lumber contacted the Penn State School of Forest Resources, which referred Brownlee to PennTAP and John Pletcher, a PennTAP senior forest products specialist. PennTAP analyzed the characteristics and quantity of the waste being generated in lumber production, then determined the current and future energy needs for the existing kilns plus additional kilns planned for a later expansion. Pletcher concluded that sufficient waste sawdust and shavings were produced from Brownlee's operations to meet their current and future drying and heating needs as well as to allow for continued sales to farmers. PennTAP also researched wood-fired boiler manufacturers that would meet Brownlee's energy needs (Brownlee was using a no. 2-fuel-oil boiler) and provided information on the forms required by the Department of Environmental Protection for the installation of new industrial boilers. Upon installation of a reconditioned wood fired boiler, Brownlee Lumber reported economic impact in excess of $373,000 -- $120,000 of which is from not having to purchase fuel oil.

PennTAP's annual report can be downloaded at online.

The Pennsylvania Technical Assistance Program (PennTAP) is a federal-state-local-University partnership for technology-based economic development. One of the nation's first technical assistance programs, PennTAP has been helping Pennsylvania companies become more competitive since 1965 by providing one-on-one technical assistance through its network of specialists, University faculty and other service providers. For more information, visit online. PennTAP is part of Penn State Outreach, the largest unified outreach organization in American higher education. Penn State Outreach serves more than 5 million people each year, delivering more than 2,000 programs to people in all 67 Pennsylvania counties, all 50 states and 80 countries worldwide.

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Last Updated March 19, 2009