Gov. Tom Corbett visited Carbon County on Sunday, touring two of Carbon County's most successful businesses: Blue Mountain Ski Area in Lower Towamensing Township and the Kovatch Corporation in Nesquehoning.
Barbara Green, president of Blue Mountain Ski Area, showed him the spacious facilities and breathtaking view, and explained the firm's goal of making the site a year-round entertainment complex.
At Kovatch, several executives accompanied the governor and displayed for him the process of how fire trucks are made from mere sheets of metal into the pumpers, ladder trucks, and other apparatus that is shipped all over the world, including to China and Japan. They noted that KME not only makes the frames, but the motor mounts and other essentials on the apparatus.
Among those leading the Kovatch tour was John Kovatch III, president and CEO of the firm, who told the governor that just in the past year, employment at the firm has increased by 200.
He mentioned that Kovatch formed its KME fire apparatus division in the 1980s and today supplies vehicles to many local municipalities as well as cities such as New York City, Boston, Los Angeles, and Atlanta.
"We have almost 100 units in backlog for New York City," he said.
Even during the economic decline several years ago, when fire truck orders for all manufacturers declined from 5,500 annually to 3,500 a year, KME remained busy.
Attorney Steve Cormier, legal counsel for KME, said the firm's "biggest challenge is finding qualified workers and retention."
Ric Reaman, KME's chief financial officer, agreed, adding, "We really have more craftsmen than the basic assembly line."
An explanation to Corbett by Kovatch is that "our niche in the market is customization."
Kovatch then had the governor examine a truck being built for a customer in Japan, showing him how different it is from one being built for an American fire department.
In response to a question by the governor, Kovatch replied that the steel used in the manufacture of the apparatus is made in the United States.
Also taking the tour with the governor were John Kovatch IV, vice president and director of customer service; state Rep. Doyle Heffley, and Jeremy Glaush, Carbon County Republican chairman.
Speaking of both Kovatch and Blue Mountain, Corbett said, "It's nice to know we have something like this in Pennsylvania."
He explained of the Carbon County visit, "We're just getting out and seeing people."
Corbett said he often visits various factories and industries throughout the commonwealth.
"I love taking factory tours," he said.
Speaking to Kovatch, he said, "This is great. It's something when I travel, I can talk about this. We're out there selling Pa."
He said the success of Kovatch is proof that location and work ethics in Pennsylvania are positive components.
He added that the state's energy costs have decreased because of natural gas.
Referring to Blue Mountain Ski Area, he said, "The view from up there is fantastic and what a wonderful facility you have."