PFMA welcomes three associate members and one retail member.
Joining in June as an associate member, Cozen O’Connor Public Strategies is a bipartisan lobbying firm that provides government solutions from the local to the federal level. Their experts know how to work with modern political institutions. They steer clients to success by staying informed, practical and persuasive.
Stephen Gould Corporation began as a family-owned business 80 years ago, and today is the largest independent custom product and packaging solutions provider in the U.S. The company provides personalized service and draws from its global network with 40 locations in six countries. Stephen Gould, an associate member since June, excels in design, production and logistics and connects networks of vendors, designers and engineers to bring each each project to life.
Pennsylvania-based Victory Brewing Company also joined as an associate member in June. What started as a hobby between two friends has led to 25 years in the craft brewing industry. This year, Victory celebrates its growth as a world-renowned craft brewery and the second-largest craft brand family in Pennsylvania.
Scenic Ridge Foods LLC joined PFMA as a retail member in May. Located in Loganton near Lock Haven, Pa., Scenic Ridge opened in 2012, and in 2017, moved to its current location in an old elementary school building. The family-owned store offers groceries, snacks and bulk foods. Specialities include locally made products like yogurts, raw milk and ice cream; a bakery with fresh breads, sticky buns, pies and more; discount grocery items; and a full deli. Also in the building is a fresh donut shop.
What are your three legislative priorities in 2021? Milk dating SB434 will put PA milk/dairy farms on the same playing field as surrounding states; removing PPE from the Farm show building so we can use the building once again for it’s intended use—to showcase our No. 1 industry in Pennsylvania; making sure that agriculture does not get cut in our budget.
What are the important issues facing your district? Workforce shortage, revenue shortage and lack of tourism.
Where do you shop locally for food? I have a grocery store around the corner from my house; I use it as a convenience store. I also have a produce stand nearby to get fruits and vegetables.
What is your favorite vacation destination? I am very adventurous, so I like going many different places. One of my favorite places is at the bay on my boat, crabbing and fishing.
What are the biggest challenges for grocers in your district? Right now, I would say recruiting and retaining employees.
What are your biggest challenges and successes as a legislator? The biggest challenge is getting the press to get it right. My biggest success is getting HB 544 signed into law (landowner liability protection act) Act 98.
What is your favorite food or meal to cook? I love to make pasta dishes inside, but I equally enjoy flipping steaks on the grill.
What do you like to do for fun? I am an aviator. Flying to destinations for golf, fishing, hunting, etc., is definitely one of my favorite pastimes.
What’s the secret to making it in business more than a century? “Be nice, be fair, be productive,” said Mike Pronio, third-generation family owner of Pronio’s Market in downtown Hershey. “It’s simple.”
Beneath towering coaster tracks and behind the latest strip of chain stores, just two block from Chocolate Avenue, is a neighborhood staple. The current store, built by Mike’s father, Vince, in 1962, sits at the corner of Caracus Avenue and Valley Road. This family-owned and operated market has served generations of Derry Township natives with one-of-a-kind-products and unmatched service.
Pronio’s customers are looking for something special. The store carries freshly cut and ground meats, locally made products, fresh produce and high-quality Italian items. Pronio’s is well known for its homemade meatballs, strombolis and famous sausage. They’ve even started a line of coffees named after their dogs.
The market is for “people who are looking for a quality product, a fair price, and a clean store with family service,” Mike said.
Beyond what’s in the shopping cart, customers know that at Pronio’s, they will be treated like family. Shoppers and employees know each other. Bags always have been taken out to the car at no extra charge. James Pronio, Mike’s oldest son, grew up helping in the store and continues to do so as time allows. “Customers are looking for a personal experience,” he said. “They know the baggers, they know the Meat Department. In essence, you’re being served by family and friends, and your needs feel like they are met.”
Maintaining those relationships through the years has contributed greatly to Pronio’s success, and dedicated customers continue to show their support. As the store prepared to celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2019, one longtime customer in his 70s used his own time and money to create a 30-foot anniversary banner—which he promptly climbed up on the roof to install. “I don’t think his wife knew that,” Mike said.
“There is a kinship, a family-friendly mentality here. People know it comes back to that mentality,” James added.
Pronio’s has about 35 employees who measure their time at the store not by years, Mike said, but by decades. They have served generations of families. When the world flipped upside down in 2020, their loyalty enabled the local market to meet demand and provide a safe shopping experience.
“Business was up 30 to 40%, and people were lined up at the door every morning,” Mike said. “A lot of people wanted to come into a smaller store because it felt safer. And we managed because our employees stuck with us.”
As the area continues to grow and larger businesses pop up along the main roads, Mike knows that in reality, Pronio’s shouldn’t exist. Decades ago, the town was known for farm fields, orchards and small businesses. Today, he is one of few small businesses remaining near the main road. But, James said, their size allows Pronio’s to remain small and agile. Their dedicated staff is productive and efficient. And they work hard to meet customer requests.
“We don’t stray from our values,” James said. “We’re not trying to be the trendiest. We offer solid products. It’s about slow, steady, consistent growth and making sure the customers’ and employees’ needs are met.”
Their success, in large part, comes back to these relationships.
“I like the idea of knowing who’s coming through these doors. We talk, we tease. People support this store and want to see it strive and survive,” Mike said.
He cherishes the chance to continue his family’s legacy and hopes to do so for years to come. “The opportunity was there, and this was the chance of a lifetime,” Mike said of taking on the family business. “I’ve been given a gift, an opportunity no one gets.”