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Area Business Owner Creates Growth Formula

Area Business Owner Creates Growth Formula

Combines Tax Cut Initiatives with Increased Employee and Community Benefits

 

SOMERSET, PA – President Donald Trump may not routinely shop at the nation’s big box auto and hobby stores, but he’s keenly aware their engine silicones and crafting epoxies are formulated in Somerset.

 After all, the owner of Guy Chemical Company, Guy Berkebile, and his team members have twice met the president to discuss how the Administration’s 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act initiatives are key components in the growth of the company’s business and its employees.

“It’s fun and exciting to receive a call from the White House,” said Berkebile. “The president wanted to know not only how I founded my business, but also how I was using the tax cuts to grow Guy Chemical versus pocketing the money.”

Soon, major media outlets and the House Ways and Means Committee all wanted to know how a former one-man operation grew to a team of 161 supplying its “Made in the USA” products throughout the world.

Twenty-four years ago, the amateur household chemist and Penn State University Business Management graduate unknowingly created the company bearing his moniker during an overseas trip for his family’s business. “An Egyptian customer asked me if I could provide him silicone produced in the United States and that’s how the company started,” he explained.

It took Berkebile four months to fill that initial order, and soon he began visiting the Saint Francis University Small Business Development Center for counseling and the Somerset Development Center (SBDC) and Southern Alleghenies Planning and Development Commission to rent work space and obtain a loan for equipment.

SBDCs and Women’s Business Centers (WBCs) are SBA and state-funded entities helping small businesses in every phase of development. “In Western Pennsylvania, we have eight SBDCs and one WBC plus four SCORE chapters comprised of current and retired volunteer executives, said SBA Pittsburgh District Director Dr. Kelly Hunt. “And the best part is the counseling services are free and confidential.”

Berkebile mortgaged his house and used his entire savings to rent a 3,000 square-foot space in an incubator. “I bought the cheapest equipment I could find and got myself up and running,” Berkebile added. “That year, we made $34,000 in sales; but, we actually lost money for the first few years.”

In order to make his loan payments, Berkebile kept his full-time day job and spent his evenings and weekends at Guy Chemical. He hosted slumber parties for his kids while he pulled all-nighters.  “Our fourth year was the breakout year when sales exceeded $2 million and we were able to hire 11 employees,” Berkebile explained. “I thought we had hit the big time.”

According to Hunt, an entrepreneur herself, paying employees and vendors first unquestionably is the top priority for small business owners, with Berkebile as the epitome success story. “Small business owners also are the first to step up and sponsor local events and teams,” Hunt added. “Their community involvement and donations have far greater impact than their corporate counterparts.”

Fast-forward to 2018; Berkebile, who now owns the thrice-expanded incubator where he once rented space, began positioning his company, employees and community for continued growth tapping into new markets and projects by utilizing the depreciation facet of the Tax Cut and Jobs Act. “We were at capacity and a big part of the tax cuts allowed me to expand by expensing purchases and investments in that same year,” Berkebile explained.

He first looked east to Vermont, buying a smaller company that was once a customer. He then added a new lab and three new mixers increasing capacity four-fold. He also purchased a new packaging line both in Somerset and Vermont.

And with thousands of additional square footage, Berkebile not only began hiring, but increased starting salaries at the same time. In just one year, he added 29 new jobs coupled with retaining 18 existing positions in Vermont. His 10-year-old, twice-yearly bonus to his employees ballooned 25-50 percent. Seven of those team players joined him at the White House. 

Berkebile also ramped up charitable giving to both Junior Achievement and the Salvation Army.

“I not only donate, but teach economics and international business with Junior Achievement and serve as a consultant with the ninth-grade class at Somerset Junior-Senior High School,” he explained. “Guy Chemical also is the title sponsor for the Salvation Army’s annual fundraiser.”

It’s his meteoric rise in the business world, generosity in Somerset and beyond, that has everyone from the president to major network media outlets interested in Guy Chemical Company.

“Whether I’m speaking to the president or my ninth-grade-class, it’s easy for me to tell my story,” he said. “I take some products with me, that everyone can see and touch…There’s really no preparation needed.”

 

Company Name: 
Guy Chemical Company
Location: 
Somerset, PA