North Central PREP Success Story: Resources for a Growing Rural Business
Company Background: The Laughing Owl Press is a full-service letterpress print shop nestled in the heart of the Pennsylvania Wilds in beautiful Kane, PA. The company was founded by Joe and Andrea Lanich who have been producing quality letterpress printing since 2010. Laughing Owl currently has 7 employees. They manufacture custom quality products using letter press, hot foil stamping, embossing, die cutting, duplexing, edge painting, and assembly for a variety of occasions and industries.
As entrepreneurs, the Lanich’s are advocates for doing business in rural Pennsylvania. They purchased and restored an old building in town and have been very proactive in seeking out resources to help them grow their business. Most recently, they were 1st Place winners of the Ben Franklin Technology Partners’ Big Idea Contest for developing software that brings digital convenience to high-end letterpress printed products.
During the summer of 2019, the Lanich’s participated in an ‘Engage’ meeting with the Clarion University Small Business Development Center (SBDC) to discuss future needs and hear about various resources in the region that can help small manufacturers. Engage is a statewide business retention and expansion program designed to regularly and proactively interact with targeted companies initiated by the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development. Several areas of interest were identified during the meeting which spawned a connection to the Northwest Industrial Resource Center (NWIRC).
Business Issue: First and foremost, Laughing Owl Press needed to have a designation as a manufacturer in order to access some of the existing programs that could potentially help their business. After an initial meeting, NWIRC Strategic Business Advisor started the process for a NAICS Code (North American Industry Classification System) investigation to see if the company would qualify for a code as a manufacturer.
One of the most immediate needs for the company was to address energy efficiency and heating/cooling concerns in their old building that houses century old equipment.
Solution: PennTAP (Pennsylvania Technical Assistance Program) was looped in to conduct a no-cost E2 (Energy & Environmental) Assessment to help define and implement strategies for improved energy efficiencies, as well as outline potential costs, and financial resources. The assessment was conducted by senior-level engineers, along with engineering students at Penn State University.
Success: Laughing Owl Press received their NAICS Code designation as a manufacturer which will enable them to access various resources to help grow their business in the future. The PennTAP E2 assessment resulted in a technical report summarizing opportunities to address heating and cooling systems, estimate costs for the project, available funding sources, and return on investment. PennTAP outlined best choices and assisted in completion of grant paperwork enabling Laughing Owl to be awarded a Small Business Advantage Grant through the Department of Environmental Resources (DEP). Another key aspect of this success story is the collaboration among Clarion University SBDC, PennTAP, DCED, and NWIRC to help a small, rural manufacturer understand and navigate the resources that can help their business grow now and in the future.