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SBA Officials Visit Pennsylvania 2016 Exporter of Year

Advisory Date: 
Friday, April 29, 2016
Advisory Number: 
Robert Goza (610) 382-3084 |
Kutztown’s Colorfin, LLC recognized May 2 at noon

EASTERN PENNSYLVANIA– U.S. Small Business Administration Eastern Pennsylvania Director Antonio (Tony) Leta officially introduces Pennsylvania’s Exporter of the Year, Colorfin, LLC, on May 2 at noon with owners Bernadette Ward and Ladd Forsline. Media are invited to attend.

WHO: Antonio (Tony) Leta, U.S. SBA Eastern Pennsylvania Director

Tony Ceballos, U.S. Export Assistance Center Director, Philadelphia

Marta Gabriel, Lehigh Valley Regional Manager, Office of Senator Pat Toomey

Vincent O’Domski, District Director for Congressman Charlie Dent (PA-15)

Sheri Collins, Deputy Secretary, Technology & Innovation, DCED

Christian Conroy, State Director, Pennsylvania Small Business Development Centers

Martin Brill, Program Manager, International Trade, Kutztown SBDC

Bernadette Ward and Ladd Forsline, Owners, Colorfin, LLC

WHAT:  Colorfin LLC is introduced as 2016 Exporter of the Year; media tour of business with interview and photo opportunities

WHEN:    Monday, May 2 at noon

WHERE: Colorfin, LLC, 65 Willow St., Kutztown, PA 19530-1535

“It’s such a great privilege to recognize the achievements of leading Pennsylvania exporters like Bernadette and Ladd,” said Antonio (Tony) Leta, U.S. SBA Eastern Pennsylvania Director. “Colorfin, LLC is an outstanding example of a small business that starts, grows and goes on to success in the global exporting market. SBA and our resource and lending partners are proud to be a part of small business exporting success stories all over the world.”

Forsline and Ward formed Colorfin in 2005 and now export to the European Union, Far East, Pacific Rim, NAFTA trade partners and South America. Colorfin LLC develops and manufacturers innovative materials (colors and applicators) for artists. Their products are developed in Kutztown in two unique ranges: PanPastel, the world's first dry artist's colors that work like paint and Sofft Tools, contemporary tools and applicators for art and craft. Artists worldwide use PanPastel for their unique qualities. Colorfin's reputation for consistent quality and innovation is recognized in the U.S. and in 38 other countries. Beginning her career with Westinghouse (Europe), Ward worked in public relations in London’s fashion industry and as product marketing manager in food wraps and art materials since the late 1980s. Artist and inventor Forsline graduated from the Master of Fine Arts program, Yale School of Art in 1988, then set up Forsline & Starr Ltd, the company behind such inventions as Colour Shaper® and Oil Bar®.

“We created a completely unique medium for artists to use, with supporting intellectual property and an extensive grassroots marketing campaign. From the beginning we have actively marketed our products overseas, through social media and exhibiting at important industry trade shows around the world, to both grow brand awareness and develop trade and end-user relationships to expand overseas markets,” Colorfin, LLC Owner Bernadette Ward said.

“As Colorfin's products were new, we had to solve a number of manufacturing issues; in the process we developed custom manufacturing equipment and factory design. With half of our sales from exports, we provide as much information as possible in several languages to ensure consumers have access to information on how to use our products, and to reduce the barriers to entering non-English speaking markets. Our packaging, website, and product support information is available in up to 12 1anguages,” Colorfin, LLC Owner Ward Forsline said.

Ward and Forsline both say they are honored to receive the award and also truly appreciate the support and guidance they have received along the way from SBA lending and resource partners, including University of Kutztown Small Business Development Center and National Penn Bank. They say that like many small exporting businesses they are continually challenged by events happening globally to remain competitive – currency fluctuations, for example the recently strong dollar – so the support from SBA, SBDC, and others is vital.

Colorfin worked with SBA resource and lending partners for various types of assistance, including seven SBA 7(a) program guaranteed loans and a line of credit from National Penn Bank to start and grow the business. Colorfin also utilized the general business and international trade consulting services of the Kutztown University Small Business Development Center since 2007 SBDC to build and diversify the business as well as Pennsylvania state programs to exhibit at trade shows and to meet foreign customers and prospects, including the Keystone Innovation Zone, export market assistance and an export grant from the Pennsylvania Office of International Trade Development.

“I am truly honored to nominate Colorfin, LLC for the prestigious SBA Exporter of the Year Award. I remain impressed with the focused, almost steely determination of the owners despite their friendly, outgoing demeanor,” said Martin Brill, Program Manager, International Trade, Kutztown University SBDC. “This company has consistently increased sales, distributors and exports by investing in new products, developing complimentary products and maintaining a loyal following of end-users and distributors through exceptional support, consistent quality, generous samples and demonstration videos. The owners have invested in multi-lingual labels, capital equipment and R&D (research and development) activities rivalling much larger businesses. Moreover, Colorfin has repeatedly demonstrated its sustainability through a severe domestic recession, a strong US dollar, working capital challenges, tariff and non-tariff barriers and demanding shipping and delivery deadlines imposed by their distributors. I remain impressed that Colorfin has achieved consistent export sales to 35 countries, representing over 50% of its total sales.”

The Kutztown University SBDC fulfills its mission to encourage regional economic growth by providing existing and potential entrepreneurs with consulting services and learning opportunities. We currently provide these services at our outreach offices in Exton, Lancaster, Kutztown, Reading and Harrisburg. One of 18 Small Business Development Centers in the Pennsylvania SBDC Network and an accredited affiliate of the national network of Small Business Development Centers, the SBDC provides consulting services and educational programs to entrepreneurs looking to start or grow their small business. SBDC consultants may work with entrepreneurs in confidential, one-to-one sessions to help them with a range of business issues including testing a new business proposition, shaping a business plan, investigating funding opportunities, and much more.

SBA Eastern Pennsylvania Director Antonio (Tony) Leta will present the 2016 Small Business Week Awards at the annual “SBA Day at the Ballpark” event June 8. The event is open to the media.

The awards ceremony begins at 10 a.m. June 8 with a luncheon at the “XFINITY Live! Philadelphia” restaurant at 1100 Pattison Ave. (tickets available: followed by a 1:05 p.m. Phillies game at nearby Citizens Bank Park (tickets available: The event is cosponsored by Constant Contact and the U.S. Small Business Administration.

SBA’s Pennsylvania Exporter of the Year award winner is selected annually from among nominees located across Pennsylvania’s eastern 40 counties and competes with the Pittsburgh District winner to be named the winner for all of Pennsylvania. These events are local observances of the annual Presidentially-designated National Small Business Week. National Small Business Week recognizes the small business community’s contribution to the American economy.


To request interviews or photos, contact Robert Goza, SBA’s Public Information Officer in the Eastern Pennsylvania District Office, at 610-382-3084 or

Cosponsorship Authorization #16-0303-111. SBA’s participation in this cosponsored activity is not an endorsement of the views, opinions, products or services of any cosponsor or other person or entity. All SBA programs and services are extended to the public on a nondiscriminatory basis. Reasonable arrangements for persons with disabilities will be made if requested at least two weeks in advance. Contact: Robert Goza, 610-382-3084.