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Attracting Quality Employers to Northeastern Pennsylvania!

Region’s firms sell goods to a global market


Northeast Pa - The train of global commerce has a depot in Northeast Pennsylvania.


Novelty goods, industrial materials and high-tech innovation developed in these hills and valleys show the breadth and depth of what the region can do.


The Scranton maker of high-tech fiber for textiles is on NASA manifests. Its two key products are extruded or coated with silver that neutralizes bacteria, and thus odor, has a vast market among moms hitting the gym before errands, but it’s also used by militaries, medical providers and, yes, astronaut flight suits.


The company, with 170 employees at its South Scranton plant and in sales offices in Europe, Asia and South America, traces its roots to Sauquoit, a silk yarn spinner founded in the late 1800s that was first to be licensed by chemical giant DuPont to produce nylon.


No matter the country or culture, smells change how people behave, said co-founder and Chief Commercial Officer Joel Furey.


“Odor is the most impactful sense that we have,” he said. “It triggers memory, it triggers emotion … our real objective is to allow a consumer to live their life to the fullest and not worry about odor.”


The company also innovates with leading athletic wear and health companies on the wide frontier of wearable technology.


A patient with, for example, a heart condition, can wear an Adidas shirt with Circutex conductive fibers in place of stick-on heart monitor electrodes that send data through a sleek device pocketed in the shirt, which lets physicians track abnormalities no matter where the patient goes.


Half of what Noble produces gets shipped directly to 32 different countries to be spun into fabric. The finished product finds much of its demand in the U.S.; however, the company’s clients have their own distribution networks that blanket the globe.


“The reach of where we’re shipping isn’t the extent of where the finished product is,” said Karin Mueller, Noble’s senior vice president of marketing. “That to me is so significant.”


Family-owned manufacturer A. Rifkin on the Sans Souci Parkway in Hanover Twp., which has been in business since 1892, sells security bags worldwide.


Its hundreds of security bags include locking night deposit bags, money bags and courier bags. Banks are its biggest market, said President and CEO Paul Lantz, son-in-law of Arnold Rifkin and the fourth generation of his family to operate the business.


Lantz displayed popular bags including one that has a keyless security system. Rather than a lock and a key, it has a numbered seal.


A. Rifkin manufactures the bags and has a patent on the system, he said. Bags with red and blue seals are popular in the election market for ballots, he said.


“The rest of the world thinks seals are more secure than locks,” Lantz said.


Lantz also showed how A. Rifkin improved on the familiar manila interoffice paper envelope with a durable bag with keyless security.


“We have a lot of government agencies overseas that buy lock bags for transporting their own secure documents and night deposits,” Lantz said.


The leading foreign country A. Rifkin sells to is Japan, Lantz said. The firm also exports to Canada, Australia, Panama, the United Kingdom, El Salvador, Trinidad and Tobago. In all, he said A. Rifkin exports to about 20 countries.


“Some of our sales are triggered by people who used to work in the U.S. and used our products,” Lantz said.


Lantz said he believes his company’s security bags are popular in other countries because “they’re very well made and people trust the consistency, the quality and the customization they get from us.”


A. Rifkin has representatives in Australia and the United Kingston, but most of the business comes through the internet.


The company employs about 80 in Hanover Twp., where all the manufacturing is done, and has salespeople throughout the country.


The typical consumer might never see or touch what Sandvik makes, but the specialty metal tubes produced at Sandvik’s plant in Scott and South Abington townships help put fuel in millions of cars around the world.


“We have a global reference list that you would recognize, in the oil and gas industry especially,” said Sandvik Materials Technology LLC President Russ Jones — ConocoPhillips and ExxonMobil, to name two.


Sandvik makes finished specialty pipes and tubes. Its heat exchanger tubes are ubiquitous in the petroleum industry, and have applications in chemical processing and health care and nuclear energy among others.


“But we’re kind of two or three steps removed from the end user,” Jones said.


Fabricators around the globe, notably in Canada and South America, buy those pipes for finished components, which then get sold to an oil refinery or chemical processor in 15 to 20 countries, including major oil producers in the Middle East, as well as China, South Korea, Italy and Germany, Jones said.


The company first arrived in Lackawanna County in 1971 and employs about 250 people.


Jones said the company is beefing up its visibility in the region, in part because many people still associate Sandvik with a former hand tools division. Even more people zoom past the plant that prominently overlooks Interstate 81 clueless about what happens there.


“The positions that we have to offer are really good jobs,” he said. “We’re utilizing information technology and automation, a lot of things, to produce our product in a very clean environment because that is something that our customers require.”


“Anytime we’re exporting to Canada now, there’s a 25 percent tariff on that as well,” he said.


The duty Scott Tinkelman pays to export a case of pens with a fidget spinner attached on top depends on how he describes the product.


The executive vice president at Scranton-based screenprinter and merchandise decorator Kevin’s Worldwide has to ask: Is it a toy or is it a writing instrument?


Kevin’s, which employs about 100 people, gets thrust into the complex world of global trade when its clients take promotional products to events such as corporate expos and conferences in other countries.


For example, a client may order 300,000 reusable, nonwoven shopping bags emblazoned with its company logo. Kevin’s will ship a case or two as needed when the client is traveling.


Admittedly, most of Kevin’s trade happens domestically, Tinkelman said, but his story represents a segment of the region’s economy that has the muscle and knowhow to play on an international market.


Kevin’s ships to hotels in destination countries such as Spain, Italy and Canada where time zones and language barriers make ensuring a package arrives on time to the right person difficult.


Hotels receive mail for guests, but they may or may not be so equipped to handle large cases of pens and coffee mugs. It gets even more complicated if the package arrives before the guest, and that’s when Kevin’s employees need to stay sharp.


Carbon Sales on Johnson Street in Wilkes-Barre Twp. is a prime producer of “Anthrafilt” that is used for water filtration and sold worldwide.


Anthrafilt is prepared from anthracite coal. It is the only product Carbon Sales manufactures.


Rick Ritts, sales manager for Carbon Sales, said the company’s primary sales are done in the U.S. and the product is exported to Mexico, Costa Rica, Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, Spain, South Africa, Canada, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.


Ritts said he also has been working with the NEPA Alliance to try to export to South Korea.


The material costs about $300 a ton and is typically shipped on a boat, he said.


Carbon Sales, which has been in business for about 40 years, buys its coal in Tamaqua, Schuylkill County. The coal is crushed in preparation plants. Extraneous rocks and dirt are removed and it is sampled and tested. The company sends samples all over the world. Ritts said there is a big demand for Pennsylvania hard coal because “we have the best in the world.”


“The biggest reason they come to us is because we have consistent hard coal,” he said. “It lasts a long time. It performs extremely well.”


The carbon content in the coal averages from 85 to 91 percent which means it’s nearly pure, Ritts said.


“That is standard number one coal,” Ritts said.


What started as a fundraiser nearly 17 years ago grew into a company that sells scented natural wax candles all over the world.


Scent-Sations on George Avenue in Wilkes-Barre sells Mia Bella candles throughout the U.S. and internationally, said CEO Bob Scocozzo, who runs the company with partner Charles Umphred.


Scocozzo said the candles, named after his daughter, are sold in a number of countries including Sweden, Slovakia, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom, Bahrain and Panama. They also are looking to sell candles in Poland and Japan.


He said they have been able to meet trade representatives from other countries and export their candles thanks to Michael Horvath and his team at the NEPA Alliance, which annually holds an event called “Bringing the World to Northeastern Pennsylvania.”


Scocozzo said he thinks Scent-Sations has been successful selling its product because “it’s the most expensively made candle in the world.”


They buy natural palm wax from sustainable forests in Malaysia and they also use hemp oil to make the candles, he said.


“We buy only the highest-quality fragrances and waxes and we infuse the candle with more fragrance than anybody else,” Scocozzo said. “When you burn one of our candles, there’s no black. There’s no soot.”


Scent-Sations’ most popular sellers are its 16-ounce candles that come in more than 120 fragrances and typically sell for $19.95. Sweet orange and chili pepper is the most popular fragrance, Scocozzo said.


Scent-Sations also has a bakery collection that includes pie and cinnamon bun candles.


They sell the candles in a store on George Avenue and online in the U.S. and Canada. Recently, a store in Citra, Florida, also began selling Mia Bella candles.

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