Allentown Economic Development Corporation

Monthly Archives: September 2015

Acme Cryogenics adds new building onto South Allentown facility

We’ve all heard the old adage that necessity is the mother of all invention. Acme Cryogenics recently learned just how inventive it could be when the South Allentown manufacturing company discovered it had a big need.

Acme Cryogenics manufactures equipment and components, and provides engineering, design, fabrication, installation, and repair services for the food packaging, pharmaceutical, semi-conductor, medical gas pipe, and industrial gas industries.

Its clients include Air Products, Linde, Air Gas, Praxair, Air Liquide and other similar companies. In addition to its Allentown facility it also has offices in Atlanta, Chicago, Houston and recently acquired Midwest Cryogenics in Lonsdale, Minnesota. Its Allentown facility was acquired from Air Products in 1993 allowing the company to enter the “warm” side of the industrial gas industry.

Business was going strong when the company was notified by its landlord that a facility it rented in another part of the Queen City was going to be sold.

“We were in need of new space, and we needed it fast!” said Director of Technical Sales and Marketing David Edge, who has been with the company nearly 40 years.

That facility housed the company’s helium container and hydrogen tank repair division, which refurbished metal containers and tanks that had been out in the elements and transported across the country and the ocean.

There wasn’t enough time to search for a new facility to rent and get all of their equipment relocated. Not to mention that they didn’t want to be in a rental situation again if they could avoid it in light of what happened last time.

So they took a good look at their South Allentown manufacturing facility and decided to invent space instead by adding addition onto their plant.

Acme Cryogenics - new building

Construction of the new 75 ft. x 100 ft. addition began this past spring and culminated in mid-September. Equipment was relocated and the existing staff transferred to the site. And though the new space is considerably smaller than the space that the company previously rented, the staff is adapting.

“It’s forcing them to become more creative in how they operate and making them do the same amount of work with less space,” said Edge. “These repairs require a high level of skill and expertise. There’s no room for error.”

Since starting as a machine shop in 1969, Acme has grown over the last 40 plus years. They continue to make a positive contribution toward the advancement of the industrial gas industry and to improve the cryogenic and gas equipment marketplace.


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Three Questions with Rita Chesterton of Muhlenberg College

This summer Muhlenberg College hired Rita Chesterton as its new Director of Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Through its relationship with the college, AEDC has participated in several Muhlenberg events, specifically their annual Innovation Challenge.

“We are excited to see that Muhlenberg has hired someone with the expertise that Rita has,” said Anthony Durante, Program Manager of the Bridgeworks Enterprise Center. “We are confident that under Rita’s leadership, Muhlenberg will be able to push their Innovation and Entrepreneurship programs forward rapidly. Strengthening our relationship with Muhlenberg College and helping them become a stronger player in Allentown’s entrepreneurial ecosystem is something that has always been on our radar.”

We decided to ask Rita about the program of study she oversees at the college, and how she plans to cultivate innovation and new entrepreneurs in the Lehigh Valley.

1. How does Muhlenberg College’s Innovation & Entrepreneurship Program prepare students to be the innovative leaders and idea makers of tomorrow?

Muhlenberg is looking to capitalize on the creativity and talent of our student body who already come from a diverse Liberal Arts background that provides them with the foundational tools necessary to become the innovative leaders and idea makers of tomorrow.

There are two key components to the program:

  • The first is a new minor in Innovation and Entrepreneurship. This minor is open to students of all majors, not just those students traditionally interested in business. We believe that the entrepreneurial skills that students will gain through their course work, practicums, and internship opportunities will become invaluable as they enter the dynamic workplace of tomorrow.
  • The second component of the program is the campus wide events that we will be developing as part of the program. Through these we hope to expose to as many students as possible the benefits of innovative and entrepreneurial thinking, even if they never intend to start their own business one day. Those who will be successful in the 21st century are those who can change quickly and innovate wherever they may stand. Our goal is to develop those skills in our students.

2. Why do you think this minor program is so important for today’s students?

Thirty years ago it was expected that you would get a career with a company and remain there for your entire career. Today, students need to learn that their career path may not be such a straight line, and that to succeed wherever they may land that they will need the skills that we think of when we think of an entrepreneur: the ability to adapt, to see opportunity where others don’t, and to make change happen when needed.

Of course, we’re also living in a time where technologies have made the possibility of opening your own successful business ever more accessible. Our goal is to help those students who want to create their own ventures by providing them with the skills and support they need to succeed. And for those who plan to work for larger corporations, government, or even academia, we want to help them become the entrepreneurial leaders who rise to the top.

3. How will you be working with AEDC to develop entrepreneurs and to encourage innovation in Allentown?

Many of our students don’t realize the wealth of opportunity that exists here in the Lehigh Valley. From funding opportunities to mentorships from established business leaders, the Valley has a great ecosystem for entrepreneurship and AEDC is a major part of that ecosystem.

We hope to build a relationship with AEDC where both the organization itself, as well as affiliated businesses, can act as mentors for our students starting out on their entrepreneurial journey. We also see the possibility for internship opportunities for our students.

Finally, we hope that many of our students realize that they have the right resources right here in Allentown should they decide to pursue their ventures after graduation. Hopefully we will have a few student-run companies that go from our on-campus incubation to the Bridgeworks Enterprise Center, and then on to becoming successful Lehigh Valley businesses.


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