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New businesses in CBICC spotlight: Entrepreneurs get advice at event

Scott Bookmiller, of Mountaintop Powder Coating, shows visitors examples of his company’s work during the CBICC Spotlight at Celebration Hall on Thursday, April 23, 2015. Bookmiller talked of his excitement of their new large shop in Bellefonte that has a 25-foot oven.
Scott Bookmiller, of Mountaintop Powder Coating, shows visitors examples of his company’s work during the CBICC Spotlight at Celebration Hall on Thursday, April 23, 2015. Bookmiller talked of his excitement of their new large shop in Bellefonte that has a 25-foot oven. CDT photo

For those willing to take the risk, business ideas turn into business ventures.

There are dozens of start-ups in Centre County every year. According to the Small Business Administration, however, only about half will still be in business five years after they launched.

Several businesses less than three years old were showcased at the 11th annual Chamber of Business and Commerce of Centre County Thursday in Celebration Hall. About 50 other vendors set-up for the event, which drew about 300 people, but the start-ups aggregated in the Pennsylvania State Employees Credit Union’s New Biz Hub area.

New entrepreneurs mingled with other business owners, discussed possible collaborations and talked about their aspirations. They also know some hurdles are ahead, ones they need to conquer to succeed.

“First of all, I think you have to have a passion for it,” Brad Ishler said. “You have to like what you’re doing. It’s not a 40-hour job, and you’re lucky if it’s only an 80-hour job, and even when you get home you’re always thinking about it. You have to be willing to live that lifestyle.”

Ishler owns Your Furniture For Less in Philipsburg and Bellefonte. He recently launched Amish Furniture Connection, a retail store with Amish handcrafted, generational furniture. He’ll host a ribbon cutting 5 p.m. May 1 during the business’ grand opening at 2961 Benner Pike.

“Starting from scratch, we had to go out and find all of our suppliers, our locations and piece it all together,” Ishler said. “You have to have that all planned ahead of time, and then you need to change on the fly when you find what works and what doesn’t.”

He said start-ups also have to advertise, find the right employees with a passion for their work and network well in the community.

“I talked to one (business person) tonight, and I talk to him quite a bit, and he didn’t know I was doing this,” Ishler said. “There’s always someone new to talk to about what we’re doing,”

Other larger businesses recently moved into the region.

Kristin Cantrell’s Seven Mountains Media acquired seven radio stations in September and launched the company’s operations in December for four stations near State College in B94.5, 3WZ 95.3, WOWY 97.1 and WEMR 98.7.

The hurdle for Bedell, however, is bringing the stations together.

“The challenge is taking stations that used to be competitors and having them come together in a way,” SMM marketing manager Don Bedell said. “...It’s like getting everyone in the same library, then getting them in the same book and then getting them on the same page as a part of Seven Mountains Media.”

SMM began to rebuild its Patton Township studio to kick off the new venture.

“It benefits the radio stations in that it brings us up to date and embraces new technology,” Bedell said. “I think we had an understanding that we had a good foundation and good people to start with out here, and I’ve said it many times. We’re cleaning, polishing and buffing the stations. We have new logos for the stations, new websites, new streaming online, so that taking great stations and making them better.”

Finding the right people to work with and bringing them t

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