My Favorite Erie Businesses
The Guy From Erie has been in business – in one form or another – for over 20 years. One of his businesses was The Erie Small Business Alliance, which he formed with his Queen, Heidi.
During that time, the GFE met a LOT of local business people: some nice, and some not-so-nice. It’s my pleasure to list my favorite guys and gals that I feel 100% confident in recommending them to you.
These businesses are all “brick and mortar,” meaning they have an actual facility or storefront in Erie…I’ll list my favorite entrepreneurs and their services in another post.
Owner Kevin Camp runs his restaurant like a real business and not a hobby. ALWAYS great service and a good meal at a very fair price. Ask for Kevin and tell him the Guy From Erie sent you…it won’t do you any good, but he’ll like it.
Owner Donna Reese is one of the Guy From Erie’s favorite people…a powerful and well-liked business woman in the Erie community who gives back and always “pays it forward.” In business since before WW II, they will come to your home or business or you can simply walk in and buy your own stuff, which I always do because I like messing with dangerous stuff. If it’s in a spray bottle, I’ll either use it to kill ants or wash my windows. The only drawback to their services is they cannot eliminate pests like ex-spouses or mis-behaving children. Only kidding. Maybe.
Owner Linda Breakiron-Lombardo is just one of those down-to-earth business gals that you can only find in Erie, PA. Breakiron Jewelers has served Erie since 1964, and people that have moved away from Erie still call her when they need something special for an engagement, wedding, or anniversary. They have their own top-notch jeweler on site, and have a staff that is well-trained in customer service, which is a dying art. Breakiron’s isn’t a discount store, it’s a world-class jeweler right here in Erie, PA.
Owner Paul Lorei has been our unofficial photographer both personally and professionally for almost five years. Always polite, engaging and professional, Paul is just easy to deal with. Paul was unknowingly my mentor in my semi-professional photography career, but no worries for Paul as taking photos for a living involves way too much pressure for me. Either way, the Guy From Erie ALWAYS uses Paul Lorei when the pictures have to be “just right.” You should, too.
When I was a 9-year old boy, Dusckas Funeral Home (on the east side) handled my father’s funeral…the kindness that that Gus Dusckas extended to both my mother and me has never left me from over 40 years ago. Now THAT’S an impression, huh?
When I first met Jack Martin through the Erie Small Business Alliance, I thought he was a perfect fit for the Dusckas family name…he runs a beautiful funeral home on Sterrittania Road, and even gave me a tour one time.
“How much do you want to see?” he asked. Yikes – he would have shown me everything if I was mentally prepared, which I wasn’t.
Jack teaches a “Death and Dying” class at McDowell High School, and is just one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. Plus, he has that mortician’s sense of humor that always plays well at the dinner table. The Guy From Erie will definitely be on of his clients one day, but not too soon.
As a matter of disclosure, it should be noted that The Guy From Erie works there…what a suck-up, huh?
On the other hand, it should mean something that I’ve been around shops – my uncles owned 2 shops and I owned a few myself – and this facility is just the best-equipped and cleanest shop of its kind I’ve ever seen. I’m also impressed that it’s probably the best family-run business of any kind I’ve ever seen.
Milling, turning, grinding, bending, and robotic welding…the reason ISM is still doing well in even this economy is that their customers can get everything done in one place. Today, I was watching a saw cut steel that used to take me 5 minutes to cut in the “old days.’ I timed it: this thing cuts TWO pieces in 5 seconds!
I can honestly say that after five years, I’ve never had a bad day at work at ISM. On the other hand, the Guy From Erie is THAT good at what he does, so I make it easy for them to share the love.
The Guy From Erie is impressed!
Let’s face it: it’s much easier to deal with folks who actually know what they’re doing as opposed to just “working” there.
I first met owner Chris Spoto because he was – and maybe still is – the only printing shop in Erie that can handle Microsoft Publisher files. All I know is that all I need to do is send him my files at night, and I pick up my finished brochures, business cards, fliers or posters the next day. End of story. Chris was a BIG part of our success with the Erie Small Business Alliance.
Owner Chris Hitz always amazed me because he looks way too young to be running such a successful business…I think that people used to say that about me!
Starting as a residential carpet-cleaner, Chris expanded into the disaster-recovery business a few years ago and never looked back. He offers pre-planning for both residential home owners and business owners to help them to have a plan when disaster strikes: flood, tornado, storm damage, you name it. He even has a one-hour spot on the radio (AM 1400) every Friday at 9:00 AM where he discusses pre-planning and how to prepare yourself or your business on what to do in the event of a disaster.
Chris is just one of the most approachable and nicest guys I’ve ever met, period. You might want to call him now, instead of 4:00 AM when that tree in your backyard falls on your house. I just wish he’d take me up on my suggestion to add a “Ghost Busters” ambulance to his fleet because I think that would be really cool.
For a town this small, Erie has a LOT of CPA firms.
All I can say is that from my personal opinion, their work can make them a little on the dull side (imagine that – boring accountants).
We first met John Guelcher and Marilyn Renkes through the Erie Small Business Alliance. All I can say is that their reputation in the Erie business community is spotless and that they bring something else to the table: a willingness to invest and support new ideas in the community.
All I know is that The Guy From Erie has dealt with some real doozies in the world of accounting for over 20 years. Most of them have been over-priced, arrogant, and need some lessons in public relations and maybe even a little therapy. Why so angry, you Erie accountants? K2S was always there for us when we needed them to help with a business event, and let-me-tell-you that finding civic-minded business owners who enjoy supporting the Erie business community are on a very short list.
John and Marilyn own a fantastic full-service firm, and hey – they’re nice people to deal with. I say, unless you’re into the “pain thing” why punish yourself?
The Guy From Erie needs to make it very clear that – unless you like to freeze – the best time to visit Erie is May through October. See the spring, enjoy the summer, and take in the fall…and hit the road!
Over the last several years, Erie has built more hotels than I ever thought the community could support, and they just keep coming. The question is, where should you stay when you visit Erie?
The Bel-Aire is literally minutes from the airport, the beaches, bars and restaurants, the mall, and the bayfront. It’s just way too nice and way to convenient not to stay there. Add a beautiful indoor pool and a great restaurant on the premises, and you can’t lose.
The Bel-Aire was home to our Erie Small Business Alliance functions for four years, and we worked with owners Peggy and Kerry Schwab to serve over 4,000 breakfasts and dinners during that time. They always worked with us to make sure that we were happy and always provided us with an outstanding event.
The Guy From Erie thinks that staying anywhere else would be uncivilized.
There it is…I had to really think about this list, but I went with the good feelings in my gut and at the same time probably managed to get someone’s panties in a knot.
What can I say? Honesty is the best policy, and The Guy From Erie likes being treated right…I hope you do, too.