Restek Hosts Car Competition During Bring Your Child to Work Day

More than 40 children of Restek employees filled the gym to build and race battery-powered cars during Bring Your Child to Work Day.

Six middle schoolers eyed one another silently as they set their racecars on the starting line in Restek’s gymnasium and waited for the countdown.

Restek presents a $1500 contribution to KidTech. The donation will help the nonprofit host events around Centre County that expose kids to science, technology, engineering, and math.

“3, 2, 1, GO!”

Letting go, the rear wheels gripped the floor and began moving the 8 oz., battery-powered vehicles. Two of the cars immediately veered sharply to the left and two struggled to accelerate, while two others roared ahead, crossing the finishing line neck and neck.

“It’s all in how much care they put into the details,” Liz Kisenwether, founder and president of KidTech said, explaining why the six different cars acted so differently during the race.

The nonprofit organization was onsite at Restek on April 26 for its annual Bring Your Child to Work Day.

Restek formed a relationship with KidTech this year through a shared interest in exposing elementary and middle school kids to science.

“It’s a lot of fun organizing this event every year,” Brian Yangula, a process improvement engineer at Restek, said.

In past years, Restek created CSI mysteries to solve and hosted manufacturing tours. This year, more than 40 kids filled the gym with their automotive creations and were testing them in races and obstacle courses before heading to lunch. Yangula thanked those on the committee, including Brittany Varner, Chris English, Jesse King, Christina Hill, Adam Clark, Alexandria Pavkovich, Samantha Reichart, Jerimiah Etters, and Lori Dundon.

“It’s great to bring my son here and show him what I do,” Greg Hargrove, a Restek chemical engineer, said. “He’s really into math and science and this is a great opportunity to build something technical and fun.”

This was the third time Fiona Dundon and Anna Marcovitch had built a car, so they spent most of their time that day helping others.

“It’s really hard to get the gear onto the axle,” Fiona said. “You have to sand it down to make it smooth and really push hard to get it on there.”

The girls are members of the Tech Club at the local Delta Program Middle School and were part of the reason KidTech was introduced to Restek.

“I loved what KidTech was doing so I wanted to see if we could help,” said Fiona’s mom, Lori Dundon, a marketing manager at Restek.

Restek donates to dozens of causes, projects, and nonprofits focused on science throughout the year, including the Girl Scouts STEM expos, Penn State’s Science U and Discovery Space. On this day, KidTech also received a donation of $1500 so it could host more events around Centre County like the one at Restek.

“It’s cool that a local company understands that kids need to get exposed to science early,” Kisenwether said. “Restek’s support is a huge help with our mission.”

For more information about KidTech, visit kid-tech.org.

A Love of Fly-Fishing Leads to 20 Years of Volunteerism at Restek

Restek Senior Industrial Engineer Steve Kreiser holds the award given to Restek from The Youth Service Bureau (YSB) at its annual gathering. Steve has volunteered his time to YSB for more than 20 years supporting its “On the Fly” fundraiser.

Centre County, Pennsylvania is renowned for its fly-fishing. It’s one of the reasons so many of Restek’s employees are seen in the streams after work and on the weekend. Interestingly, that love of sport has also led to a 20-year relationship with a local nonprofit focused on ensuring that children realize their full potential.

At its annual gathering on May 1, The Centre County Youth Service Bureau (YSB) presented Restek with an award for its charitable contributions and volunteerism. The company was recognized as a foundation level donor in calendar year 2017.

“We’ve been involved with Restek for probably two decades and are grateful for everything they do,” Andrea Fisher, CEO at the YSB, said.

The relationship began when Steve Kreiser, a senior industrial engineer at Restek, learned of YSB’s fly-fishing fundraiser called “On the Fly” and was encouraged by Restek to help out more than 20 years ago—Kreiser will celebrate his 21st year at Restek in 2018.

“I just thought it was a really cool and unique kind of fundraiser. Plus, having a few hours to fly-fish on Spruce Creek is like the holy grail,” he said.

Kreiser began helping during the event and has stayed involved ever since. Today, he serves on the board of the directors at YSB and chairs the fly-fishing fundraiser. “It’s one of those magical things where what I do for a living and what I love to do meet together,” he said.

Many Restek employees have also been involved with YSB over the years. Employees at Restek are encouraged to volunteer in the community and can use up to four hours per month to volunteer during work.

Private donations from individuals, businesses, and other groups make up 15 percent of YSB’s overall budget. In 2017, 871 distinct individuals and businesses donated charitable dollars to YSB. Fisher said the agency relies on these contributions to fund programs, like its neighborhood outreach prevention services. This program goes into areas of Centre County and engages directly with the youth that live there with crafts, games, and lessons on how to access food, shelter, and free counseling.

On the Fly will be held this year on May 14. For more information about Centre County Youth Service Bureau, visit ccysb.com

Restek Holds 1st Annual Student Research Symposium

Andrew Murtha

Jovan Livada

Latisha Franklin

Roman Jaramillo

Restek recently held its 1st Annual Student Research Symposium at its global headquarters in Bellefonte, PA, as part of our commitment to developing the next generation of scientists.

During the event, Restek chemists and leadership gave talks on gas chromatography in space, olfactory detection, and bile acid analysis by liquid chromatography, but more important, in addition to learning more about STEM careers, students prepared and presented posters on a variety of topics. Posters were judged by a panel of Restek technical experts, who were impressed by the high quality of work on display.

Although all of the presenters are deserving of accolades, the organizers especially wanted to congratulate our winners:

First Place ($1,000) – Andrew Murtha, “Communication Between Vibrio fischeri Populations within the Squid Light Organ”
Second Place ($500) – Latisha Franklin, “Inborn Errors in Purine Metabolism Result in Neuromuscular Deficits: A Comparative Metabolic Approach”
Third Place ($250) – Nathan Yu, “Homogeneity of Packing in Silica Separation Column”

This year, undergraduate and graduate student researchers from Penn State were invited to network and showcase their work. Next year, Restek plans to expand the program.

Are you a student interested in applying for next year’s symposium? Watch for an announcement later this year or email Alex Pavkovich at Alexandria.Pavkovich@restek.com

Restek Partners with Girl Scouts for STEM Expos

Picture of Girl Scouts at STEM event.

Two Girl Scouts conduct experiments with
Restek’s Titus Morehead at Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania’s recent STEM Expo at Pennsylvania College of Technology.

Alexandria Pavkovich, an R&D chemist at Restek, watched the face of a young girl light up when she created a mini lava lamp by adding an Alka-Seltzer tablet to her 40 mL vial mixture of colored water and mineral oil.

It was Feb. 17 at the Pennsylvania College of Technology in Williamsport, PA, and the experiment was one of two Restek brought with them to the first of three STEM Expos that the Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania (GSHPA) will host this year. Restek also had a gumball separation demo.

“It felt like a big hit and they were excited they could take their lava lamps home to show their friends and family.” Pavkovich said. “I take a great interest in getting girls into science. Some of them are coming from a smaller area and it’s fun to broaden their experience and spark an interest in science.”

More than 1,500 Girl Scouts in grades kindergarten through 12 have registered to attend the free expos featuring dozens of activities provided by program partners that bring science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) skill-building opportunities directly to girls. Another Expo was held recently at East Stroudsburg University and the final one will be Saturday, May 19, at Millersville University.

“Girls are learning about STEM because of companies like Restek. The dedication of employees in giving their time and expertise never ceases to amaze me. GSHPA’s mission is to build girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place. We are successful because supporters like Restek invest in our girls and help create the next generation of successful female leaders,” Ellen M. Kyzer, President & CEO of GSHPA, said.

Restek is committed to supporting local STEM programs and often attends elementary and middle school STEM fairs.

“You don’t get this kind opportunity at every company. It’s great that we get to spread our love of science to the younger generation,” Pavkovich said. “You see their minds spark with curiosity as they engage, understand, and begin to see possibilities unfold. It’s pretty inspiring to watch them find joy in both scientific discovery and also in the realization that they have the potential to become anything they want to be.”

Accompanying Pavkovich from Restek were Joe Windell, Jana Rousova, and Titus Morehead.

Other exhibitors include Pocono Environmental Education Center; Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders; Association for Women in Mathematics; Wildlands Conservancy; Lincoln Caverns; AccuWeather; and Da Vinci Science Center.

For more information about Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania, visit www.gshpa.org.

Restek Recognized for Outstanding Retirement Benefits

Nearly 90 percent of employees are on target to reach retirement goals at the Bellefonte-based company 

Restek is pleased to announce it has been selected as a finalist for the 2018 Plan Sponsor of the Year award by PLANSPONSOR magazine. The award is given to companies that show a commitment to employees’ financial health and retirement success.

“We’re proud to be nominated for this prestigious national award,” Bryan Wolcott, Restek president, said. “Securing a comfortable retirement for employees is an essential part of running a responsible company, and we’re committed to offering top-tier benefits and the best educational opportunities available.”

Restek was nominated by its financial advising partners in the category of corporate 401(k)s with assets between $10 and $50 million.

It is a continuation of success for Restek, which was also awarded ESOP Company of the Year from The Pennsylvania Delaware Chapter of The ESOP Association in 2017.

According to industry standards, employees need retirement income equal to 70 percent of their final employment earnings. At Restek, more than 89% of employees are approaching or on target to reach their retirement goals.

“Our main goal now is to get the other 10 percent there,” said Chris Marshall, VP of Human Resources.

More than 96 percent of the company participates in Restek’s retirement program with employees deferring an average of 8.5 percent of their paycheck toward retirement, which is above the average deferral rate in the U.S. of 6 percent.

In order to prepare its employees, Restek offers one-on-one counseling with financial advisors every month during work hours; these advisors work with employees to calculate their retirement score based on a full financial picture, not just their 401(k).

It has been a methodical and cultural shift the company has worked towards since establishing an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) in 2008. In 2017, Restek switched its 401(k) service provider to Principal Financial, a widely recognized industry leader for ESOP consultation and recordkeeping. Morgan Stanley managed the search process and then was hired as a plan fiduciary, advising employees on personalized planning and Restek on the overall retirement platform.

In addition to Restek, Midwest Family Mutual Insurance Company of Chariton, Iowa; United Hardware Distributing Company of Plymouth, Minnesota; and Uponor North America of Apple Valley, Minnesota, were also selected as finalists.

The winner will be announced on March 29.

For more information about Restek Corporation visit, www.restek.com

Restek Meets Milestone in Employee Safety

On March 10, Restek reached a significant new landmark: one million safe hours worked! By achieving so many consecutive hours without an occupational injury or illness that resulted in days away from work, Restek demonstrated its ongoing commitment to safety as a top corporate goal.

Bryan Wolcott, President and Head Coach, said, “Our people are our most important resource, and our mission here is to ensure that they end the day as healthy as they started the day. As employee-owners, we want everyone to go home as healthy as when they came in so that they can enjoy their families, be active in the community, and continue to help Restek grow.”

One million safe hours is no small feat, but it is achievable when safety is prioritized and people work together to promote it. According to Mike Straw, EHS Manager, Restek has programs in place that drive engagement in safe behaviors, which is the cornerstone to injury prevention. Says Straw, “An achievement like this is truly a group effort. It takes each and every employee making a daily personal commitment to safety in order to make it happen.”

Looking for a safe and rewarding career? Join the Restek team! www.restek.com/jobs

October Declared Employee Ownership Month in Pennsylvania

State Representative Kerry Benninghoff presents Bryan Wolcott, Restek’s president, with a resolution and praises the company on its success as an employee-owned business.

State Representative Kerry Benninghoff (R-Bellefonte) presented Restek with a resolution on Oct. 30 declaring October Employee Ownership Month in Pennsylvania.

“It is companies like this—employee-owned, small companies like this—not big factories that keep us going,” Rep. Benninghoff said. “So, on behalf of myself and the entire General Assembly, thank you for that continued success. Congratulations on behalf of the Commonwealth.”

Restek, like thousands of companies in the country, is an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) company, which is a business model where employees own shares of the company. In Restek’s case, the company is 100% employee owned.

“We think employee ownership is one of the most important ownership vehicles in the country. We would like to see it keep growing and this resolution is one way that it does,” said Bryan Wolcott, Restek’s president and head coach.

Each year, ESOP businesses across the country celebrate October as ESOP month. The presentation by Rep. Benninghoff capped a full month of ESOP activity, including Restek’s Culture Fair on Oct. 4, when the company hosted more than 20 internal and external groups and organizations to set up info booths within the company’s atrium and hallways to talk to employees about volunteer opportunities. Employees at the chromatography manufacturer can use up to four hours per month to volunteer during work. The company also hosted educational seminars, a Halloween costume contest, and more to celebrate employee ownership.

These festivities closed an exciting month for Restek, one that included the company’s 32nd anniversary as well as being awarded Company of the Year by The Pennsylvania Delaware Chapter of The ESOP Association. It was the second time Restek won the award.

Restek Volunteerism Thrives at Inaugural Culture Fair

For new employees such as Ravali Alagandula, an LC applications scientist, the abundance of volunteer opportunities at Restek is exciting, but knowing where to start can be tough.

Employees at the chromatography manufacturer can use up to four hours per month to volunteer during work and, at a company with more than 350 local employees, opportunities abound.

To help employees new and old better understand the opportunities available at Restek, the company hosted its first Culture Fair on Oct. 4 and invited more than 20 groups and organizations to set up an info booth within the company’s atrium and hallways to talk to employees about how they could get involved.

Alagandula, who was hired just over a month ago after receiving her PhD in clinical and bioanalytical chemistry from Cleveland State University, signed up to help Restek present at STEM fairs at local elementary and middle schools and with Centre Volunteers in Medicine (CVIM), a group that advocates for the medically underserved living or working in Centre County.

“Everyone is so friendly. It’s easy to approach them and learn about the opportunities,” Alagandula said.

One of those friendly people was Pam Decker, a senior graphic designer at Restek, who staffed the booth looking for volunteers for 4thFest, the county’s renowned annual 4th of July celebration.

“Dozens of Restek employees help out during 4thFest each year and we’re hoping to get a few more today,” she said.

To encourage employees to speak with a lot of different groups, Restek distributed passports to be signed by booth staffers. Employees with at least 10 signatures were entered to win one of three gift cards.

“Volunteerism is part of Restek’s culture, and we’re hoping this fair spreads that engagement even further,” Karen Davis, a Restek HR representative, said.

The event was spearheaded by the Restek Owners Culture Committee (ROCC) with the goal of increasing the number of employees who volunteer by offering an easy way for them to learn more about the opportunities that are available within both the company and the community.

“There are a lot of people constantly doing things and recruiting volunteers—we thought a culture fair like this could help employees get a good overview of different organizations and how they can get involved,” said Denise Kyle, a sales coordinator at Restek, who leads the Employee Owners Communication Team (EOCT).

The idea was brought to the attention of the EOCT by Mike Shuey, Restek’s international customer service supervisor, after attending an ESOP conference and seeing another company doing one. Restek, like thousands of companies in the country, is an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) company, which is a business model where the employees own shares of the company. In Restek’s case, the company is 100% employee owned.

“It seemed like a great idea, and I’m looking forward to seeing it grow each year,” he said.

The fair was held in October to help celebrate ESOP Month. The company also plans to host a number of other celebratory activities, including educational seminars, a Halloween costume contest, and a presentation by State Representative Kerry Benninghoff (R-Bellefonte). October 15 is also Restek’s 32nd anniversary of serving top-notch chromatographic innovations to the analytical community.

Restek’s Joe Konschnik Named ILI Board Chairman and Receives Two ACIL Preston Millar Awards

During ACIL’s last annual meeting in St. Louis, Restek Business Development Manager for Food & Agriculture, Joe Konschnik, was named Chairman of the Independent Laboratory Institute’s (ILI) Board of Directors. The previous ILI Chairman, Jim Kuhn, was appointed Chairman of the Board of Directors for ACIL (American Council of Independent Laboratories) and chose Joe to replace him on the ILI Board.

ILI is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3), scientific educational organization established in 1992 by ACIL; multidisciplined and member-driven, ILI serves the laboratory testing community by offering valuable training and education, administering PT programs, and helping the ACIL community to implement new technologies and methods to advance the testing industry.

Over the past four years, Joe has worked with Mr. Kuhn, in conjunction with Richard Bright (ACIL COO) and Milton Bush (ACIL CEO), to revitalize the ILI Board. “Joe has been instrumental in the success of many initiatives taken on by the ILI Board and various sections of ACIL, so when it came time to find a successor to the ILI Chair position, it was an easy decision to appoint Joe,” commented Kuhn.

Joe also received ACIL’s prestigious Preston Millar award—in 2016 and now again in 2017—for his service to the Food Sciences Section of ACIL. Jeffrey Abels, chairman of ACIL’s Food Science Section, presented the award noting, “Joe Konschnik has been an integral part of the Section’s efforts to work with FDA in a positive and professional manner to develop new methods for food analysis. Joe has brought ACIL and FDA together in ways that have enhanced our relationship with the Agency and set us in a positive and productive direction for the future.”

For more information about ACIL, visit www.acil.org  Information specifically on the ILI can be found at www.acil.org/?page=685  And Restek’s latest Food Safety solutions can be found at www.restek.com/food-safety

Restek Customers and Employee-Owners Donate More Than $11,000 to Red Cross Hurricane Relief Efforts

While the storms and headlines have passed, the hardships of those residents affected by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma are nowhere near over.

For this reason, Restek held a fundraiser in September to raise money for Red Cross operations in Texas, Louisiana, and Florida. In a combined effort from Restek customers and employee-owners, the company presented a check for $11,122 to the Red Cross on September 29.

Bryan Wolcott, Restek President and Head Coach, thanked customers and coworkers for their kindness and charity.

“People’s lives are forever changed by these tragic events, and I’m proud to be able to make this donation to the Red Cross on behalf of the Restek community,” he said. “Thank you to our customers for their generosity and caring.”

For several weeks in September, customers could forgo receiving their Wizard Dollar incentives during checkout over the phone or website and, instead, divert those funds to aid those in need. Restek employees could also donate, and Restek Corporation contributed an additional $5,000 as well.

Restek is well-known for empowering its employees to suggest and implement improvements to the business and its renowned culture. In this case, the hurricane-relief fundraiser was set into motion by Kent Rauch, Lead Web Developer at Restek. He said he recognized how dire the situation was by hearing from colleagues in the affected area.

“I wanted to help, so I got approval and made the code edits to the website,” he said. “The reception from our customers was tremendous.”

This is not the first time Restek raised money in response to a natural disaster. In 2013, the company raised nearly $4,000 to help ease the suffering of those affected by the tornado that ripped through Oklahoma, and the company also raised money after Superstorm Sandy hit New York and New Jersey.

Heather Ishler and Angie Rushe from Restek’s domestic customer service group helped organize and drive the fundraiser. Rushe said Restek’s culture of employee ownership instills a sense of responsibility and community.

“I work with an exceptionally generous group of folks who take our responsibility as owners very seriously. We understand that when you are in a position to be able to help, you should do all you can,” she said.