Ed Breiner, joined the board of directors of the Chester County Economic Development Council (CCEDC) in July 2007. “I met Gary Smith, CCEDC’s long-serving CEO, when he and Bill Lauer of DVIRC came to introduce themselves to Schramm. After meeting Gary, I figured joining the board would be a great way to get to know the community and its leaders since I was new to the area.”
This July, ten years later to the day, he assumed duties as CCEDC’s board chair. CCEDC’s COO, Mike Grigalonis noted that “Ed is understated, humble, and quick-witted – he is also an extremely smart, determined, and successful business man and we are incredibly fortunate to be able borrow from his knowledge and experience. We at CCEDC are really looking forward to working with him for the next two years as board chair.”
As a champion of the organization, Weekend Edition sat down and asked Breiner a few questions.
Weekend Edition: What do you want people to know about CCEDC?
Ed Breiner: The foundations of an economy are built one step at a time through thoughtful planning, gathering a variety of perspectives, and garnering the energy to get things done. This, like all things, takes time, passion, and money. Everyone in Chester County benefits from the work done at CCEDC. We are fortunate that we have such a dynamic EDC in our community.
WE: What impact does CCEDC have on the area’s economic health?
EB: Jobs, transportation, first and best use of property, quality of life . . .the list goes on. Getting that message out to the community that CCEDC addresses these issues through purposed thinking, personal effort, and financial support is one of our challenges, though.
WE: What three words or phrases best describe CCEDC?
EB: Things get done!
WE: How did you end up in Chester County?
EB: It’s more like Dick Schramm let me into Chester County…and like most blessings in life I had no idea how fortunate I was to receive such an opportunity. I believe that if you Follow the Golden Rule and most people will follow along with you and I lived that example by following him and coming to Chester County.
My journey began when I studied accounting at Bloomsburg State. I was assured by the administration that I would get a job upon graduation – and it worked. I joined Ingersoll-Rand (IR) in New Jersey in 1978 – both my father and grandfather worked at the same plant thus I got my opportunity on their good names.
In 1980, I volunteered to take an accounting supervision role at an IR plant in Texas. I told my wife, Julie, it would be three years or so and we would be back East. I spent a few years in accounting and moved to planning and procurement – now called supply change management – then in the late 1980s took the leap to manufacturing operations and became the general foreman of a three shift, seven day a week factory. By 1995 I was responsible for the P&L of a segment of our business thus a generalist role.
From there I migrated to marketing and sales which eventually resulted in my managing a sales branch in Harrisburg, PA as a VP and Branch manager in 1998 – thus fulfilling my promise to Julie albeit 15 late. And, of course, at that point with three children attached to the community in Garland, Texas, my move was not all that popular at home.
My mentor at Ingersoll-Rand introduced me to Dick Schramm when I moved to the commercial side of the industry. Dick is an industry icon in our market. After meeting him, I hoped that I would someday work with him. Happily, that day came in 2000 and we moved to Chester County in 2008.
WE: You’ve lived here for about ten years and been working here even longer, from your perspective, what are some of the reasons Chester County is a good place to live, work and raise a family?
EB: Welcoming people, beautiful geography, dynamic business, education and government leadership.
WE: Do you have any philosophies that influence your business and/or professional life?
EB: I truly believe that It takes people, time, patience, and money to make things happen. I continue to be amazed at the amount of time my peers are willing to volunteer in this community to do the right things for everyone involved. There is something to be said for people getting together to find things that need doing and doing them, hopefully, with a smile on our faces while not taking ourselves too seriously.
WE: Finish this sentence – Did you know . . .?
EB: I grew up two blocks from the future heavyweight champion of the world – Larry Holmes, a.k.a. The Easton Assassin – he wasn’t even the toughest kid on his block. Larry is a great story of overcoming and someone who stayed in his community, invested in Easton and now is witnessing its economic rebound. He is a great example of hard work, passion, and risk taking both in his career and later as a community leader and investor.
WE: What do you like to do in your free time?
EB: I enjoy the beach, cooking, reading, hitting the gym along with fishing and playing golf, albeit badly. I also appreciate the ample open space in Chester County that can be enjoyed year-round as well as visiting Longwood Gardens.
WE: If you weren’t doing what you are doing now, what else could you see yourself doing?
EB: I imagine I’d be working in the foundry, except it sadly isn’t there anymore. Truth is I have been very lucky in life – beginning with – somehow – convincing Julie I was the right guy to marry.