Two clients associated with CAN BE received awards as part of the Greater Hazleton Chamber of Commerce’s 2019 Business and Community Awards program.
Halogen Hair Company owner Ashley Evert, who was one of the first business owners that CAN BE officials worked with outside of its incubator as part of The Hazleton Innovation Collaborative (THInC) program, won the Young Entrepreneur of the Year award, which is sponsored by CAN BE. American Eagle Solutions, which is co-owned by Shane Acernese and Robert Bradley and located in the CAN BE Innovation Center in the Valmont Industrial Park, was one of two recipients of the Green Business of the Year award.
CAN DO Coordinator of Entrepreneurial Services Jocelyn Sterenchock said, “It’s extremely gratifying to see Ashley Evert and American Eagle Solutions win these awards. Ashley and Shane are two bright, young business minds that made the decision to grow their companies here and keep their talent in the Hazleton area. I have worked with each of them for over a year and the growth, both personally and professionally, that they have each accomplished is a true testament to their passion for their businesses.”
CAN BE sponsors the Young Entrepreneur of the Year award to promote the development of future business owners under the age of 35 within Greater Hazleton. Applicants are scored on business strategy, long-term goals, growth and community contribution.
Evert said that her biggest accomplishment has been becoming an entrepreneur and opening her own local business and this award made achieving that goal feel even more special.
Evert began her career as a full-time stylist in 2015 and opened her salon in July 2018 with no financial assistance and strictly from her own savings account. She specializes in very difficult and creative color work, a unique niche that she quickly realized needed to be filled in the area. Evert services more than 200 customers annually at her salon on North Church Street in Hazleton and has a waitlist of more than 50 people. In February, less than a year after opening, she closed her books and put her assistant’s training into high gear so she could accommodate new clients.
“Nothing anyone says can ever fully prepare you for the sacrifices you’ll make to bring your dreams to life,” Evert said. “I have to thank Jocelyn for guiding me with all of her resources. If she didn’t have an answer to my question, she found it for me.”
From the time she started her company, Evert utilized several of CAN BE’s services to grow her business, including establishing a connection with the Small Business Development Center, attending the Start Your Own Business seminar which includes CAN BE as one of five sponsors and meeting with CAN BE’s staff to discuss her growth strategies and goals.
Her long-term goals include offering her receptionist a full-time position and her level two assistant a full-time stylist position, training her level one assistant to reach level two, adding an eyelash extentionist as well as another stylist to the team, and taking days off personally from behind the chair to devote time to working on business operations and helping her team grow.
Sterenchock said, “I have worked with Ashley from the very early stages of her journey to opening her salon. I’m beyond proud of the work that she has accomplished. It’s been a blessing to watch her grow into the successful business owner that she has become.”
The purpose of the Green Business of the Year award is to extend appreciation to businesses or organizations within Greater Hazleton who are adopting green initiatives within their workplace.
American Eagle Solutions (AES) implements energy-saving lighting and full-building commercial/industrial internet solutions for businesses seeking to reduce energy costs and increase the operational efficiency of their facilities. They specialize in LED-lighting upgrades, lighting controls, HVAC improvements and ongoing maintenance services. Annually, AES retrofits in excess of 10,000 lighting fixtures, while recycling all removed lighting material. They manage and procure all utility, state and local incentives on behalf of their customers and, to date, have amassed more than $1 million in incentives for their customers.
American Eagle Solutions co-founder Shane Acernese said, “We’re so excited to receive this award because we are based here in Greater Hazleton and it’s nice to be recognized within the community for the business we are building here. We couldn’t have done it without the support of Jocelyn. She knew we had what it took to continue growing this business and now we have more than 15 employees and have established our headquarters in Hazleton. We’re expanding within the CAN BE Innovation Center and we’re looking at further expanding the business in Pennsylvania.”
Acernese also worked with CAN BE to discuss a growth strategy and the tools he needed to scale the business. Within just the last year, in part through that guidance, American Eagle Solutions has tripled the size of its physical location as well as its initial workforce.
In 2019 alone, through the implementation of sustainability projects, AES has reduced more than 20 million kilowatt hours (kWh), resulting in cost savings of more than $1.6 million for its customers throughout Pennsylvania. Additionally, their customers have estimated approximately $1.3 million in total avoided maintenance expenses through the longevity of LED technology. Overall, their customers reduced their cumulative annual spending by approximately $2.9 million in 2019. The kWh reduction from implemented projects equates to 5.6 million pounds of Carbon reduction, 35,000 gallons of gasoline and 3,000 acres of trees.
Sterenchock said, “Within the CAN BE Innovation Center, we have found a niche working with growing businesses that are between two to three years old. They have already founded a company and are post-revenue earning so their needs are very different than someone in the idea stage. In the short time I’ve been working with American Eagle Solutions, I have witnessed tremendous growth in the company but particularly with Shane. His knowledge of the industry and how quickly he’s grown his staff show his willingness to surround himself with a strong team to help grow the company.”