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Manufacturers in Reading, PA, Know the Value of Change

The Greater Reading Chamber Alliance is encouraging area companies to innovate to ensure more success as they grow.

By Livability on May 25, 2023

Man working in IT in Reading PA
Greater Reading Chamber Alliance

The old saying goes: “If you’re not moving forward, you’re falling behind.” And in Greater Reading, Pennsylvania, the business community is committed to moving forward through vision, evolving technology and innovation.

“We have a strong manufacturing base that historically has bred innovation as companies have grown and evolved,” says Aaron Gantz, senior director of economic development for the Greater Reading Chamber Alliance. “Innovation is critical to our community, or any community, because it allows for growth, talent attraction and retention. It’s the heartbeat of manufacturing.”

A leader in manufacturing innovation is Reading Bakery Systems, a 75-year-old company that manufactured the first pretzel-twisting machine in 1947, and now leads internationally  in the development and manufacture of snack-producing equipment.

So vital is innovation to the company’s culture that it maintains an on-site Science and Innovation Center, where clients can test-drive equipment or  do a trial run of a new food product.

RBS brings a long history to the important food sector of the local economy, as do companies like Dieffenbach’s Snacks and the Palmer candy company.

But while some companies innovate over time, the ByHeart infant formula company jumped into a highly regulated industry in the middle of a pandemic – and a formula shortage. The growing company’s “farm to formula” approach caught the eye of investors, competitors, the state of Pennsylvania – and thousands of parents.

Energy storage, aka batteries, is another leading manufacturing sector that invests heavily in innovation to increase capacity and efficiency while decreasing carbon footprint, whether for industrial solutions like EnerSys to vehicle batteries from Yuasa.

East Penn Manufacturing, which employs more than 10,000 people worldwide, began in 1946 with a father and son rebuilding used batteries in one room in a creamery. Innovation, the company says, “is in our DNA.”

Two men working in office in Reading PA
Courtesy of Greater Reading Chamber Alliance

Perhaps nowhere in Berks County is innovation more celebrated than at The Knitting Mills, once the world’s largest clothing mill and now home to businesses such as Teleflex, manufacturer of medical devices, and originally Textile Machine Works.

Reading Area Community College’s Schmidt Training and Technology Center provides a workforce-education base for growing employers.

“The center designs customized training for employers in the region,” Gantz says. “As companies innovate, their employees can innovate with them, gaining the skills to continue growing.”

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