What began as a Penn State engineering entrepreneurial class project has grown into a national company, and its owners will be recognized Thursday with the Pennsylvania Small Business of the Year award.
U.S. Rep. Glenn Thompson, R-Howard Township, will present the award to DiamondBack Truck Covers co-founders and co-owners Ethan Wendle and Matt Chverchko on behalf of the Small Business Administration. The men have also been named SBA’s Pennsylvania’s Persons of the Year.
“The success of DiamondBack is a testament to entrepreneurship, ingenuity and the economic opportunities that exist in small towns across the nation,” Thompson said.
Wendle and Chverchko met in 2003 while studying engineering at Penn State. Turning the project into a reality, the pair selected Philipsburg as home for the start-up company.
Wendle told Penn State that the company’s success would not have been possible without the help of local organizations and groups that helped get the business started.
“DiamondBack has been fortunate over our 16-year history to have received help from many small business organizations ... this award recognizes not only the hard work done by our founding team and employees, but also the impact these organizations can have to help jump start business,” Wendle said. “We are honored to receive this award on behalf of our company, our employees and the many men and women who have partnered with us along the way.”
DiamondBack operates out of a $3.8 million, 40,000-square-foot facility located in the Moshannon Valley Regional Park. Manufacturing truck bed covers, loading carriers, automotive accessories and apparel, the company makes its products with American supplies of metal, hardware and welding supplies. Their covers allow customers to secure materials in truck beds, and the heavy duty model allows for hauling up to 1,600 pounds.
DiamondBack Marketing Coordinator Andy Campbell said the company is honored to receive the award and views it as a victory for the community as a whole. Without help from local organizations and groups, Campbell said the company would not be where it is today.
Moshannon Valley Enterprise Center Executive Director Stan LaFuria said its board and staff are pleased to see DiamondBack succeed and grow as a company. During his tenure, LaFuria said 21 businesses with some connection to Penn State or the State College area decided to base their company in Philipsburg. With space, equipment and land to help businesses get started, LaFuria said the MVEC wants to see companies continue to grow and develop in the area.
“We are here to help and provide the tools for a company to succeed,” LaFuria said. “DiamondBack is a perfect example of what you can do with those tools.”
When looking at a business, LaFuria said he rates its success on management, marketing and money. With “good people” running DiamondBack, LaFuria said its biggest strength is its management.
“When you have good management, you have the potential to do some really good things,” LaFuria said.
LaFuria said the company faced challenges during the recession but didn’t let financial struggles stop it from growing and continuing production. Currently, Campbell said the company has 76 employees.
“I remember (meeting Wendle and Chverchko) like it was yesterday,” LaFuria said. “They really show that good people can work and grow as a company.”