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Three alumni

featured during

spring symposium


t was all about the family business

during the spring symposium on

entrepreneurship. The well-attended

panel discussion, “Lycoming College

Innovators and Entrepreneurs,” was

hosted by the Institute for Management

Studies on April 4 and featured Jay W.

Cleveland Jr. ’88, president and CEO

of Cleveland Brothers Equipment Co.

Inc.; Ron “Buddy” Knoebel ’65, owner

of Knoebels Amusement Resort; and

Michael Warehime ’64, chairman of

Snyder’s-Lance Co.

Moderator Bill Kelly, president and

CEO of WVIA Public Media, asked the

panelists several questions submitted by

students. It started with, “While working

your way to the top, did you ever find

it hard to balance your work and home

life?” All three participants had a similar

response: They grew up in the family

business, so home and work were the

same, and everyone had a responsibility

within the family.

Knoebel is the third-generation owner

of America’s largest, free-admission

amusement park, which has been owned

and operated by the family since 1926.

The park features two world-class

rollercoasters, nearly 60 other rides and

award-winning food. As the students’

questions asked about each executive’s

success, Knoebel brought up a sports

analogy that has served him and his

family well through the years, “The

harder you work, the luckier you get.”

Cleveland said the work-home balance

is something he continues to struggle

with, but having an understanding wife

has helped. Warehime also stressed how

important it is to choose a soul mate who

understands the desire that burns inside

an entrepreneur’s heart.

Warehime has more than 40 years

of experience in the food industry. The

newly formed Snyder’s-Lance Co.

finished 2012 with $1.62 billion in net

revenues. Its primary brands include

Snyder’s of Hanover Pretzels, Lance

Sandwich Crackers and Cape Cod Potato

Chips along with newly acquired Snack

Factory Pretzel Crisps. He explained that

having a great business education from

Lycoming provided him a foundation for

learning the ever-changing principles of

the industry. “By having that education, I

was able to rapidly learn things,” he said.

Cleveland, a Lycoming trustee,

joined the family business shortly after

graduation and was named president and

CEO in 2000. He said when he started

out, the company had 235 employees,

but has now grown to more than 1,300


Cleveland said he is excited to work

for a company that is moving forward

and growing. “It’s always fun to make

money and reward people who work for

you,” he said, adding that Pennsylvania’s

Marcellus Shale industry has provided

a stable business for his company and

contributed to its growth.

Knoebel is proud that his company sells

a positive, family-friendly experience.

In fact, Knoebel is so connected to

the “work family” at his park that he

recognized several Lycoming students in

the audience as his seasonal workers and

referred to them by name.

“I try to get out there and see everyone

on the job,” he said. “I make the effort.”

He stressed that he continually

thinks of ways to enhance the park and

make each person’s experience more

spectacular and special than it was the

year before.

“If they don’t have a good experience,

they won’t come back,” he said. “And if a

customer asks ‘what’s new at Knoebels this

year?’ you can’t say nothing. This year, we

have two new rides and a new game – and

we’re already working on plans for 2014.”

Knoebel also explained the story behind

acquiring the Phoenix rollercoaster, which

became available after a San Antonio

amusement park closed. He said they were

able to buy a $3 million rollercoaster for

$1 million and that the attraction ended up

doubling the park’s attendance.

And although the three discussed their

successes, they also touched upon some of

their failures, setbacks, mistakes made and

lessons learned throughout their careers.

“An entrepreneur has the passion and,

despite the obstacles, they succeed,”

Warehime said, before asking the audience,

“Do you have the passion for something?”

There was one decision that all three

were passionate about as part of their

success – attending Lycoming. “The

valuable part was the education and

experience from playing basketball,”

Cleveland said. “And I had a heck of a lot

of fun doing it.”

Knoebel talked about how Bud

Whitehill recruited him after learning

he was planning on attending another

institution. “Within the first week on

campus, I knew it was the best decision I

ever made,” Knoebel said. “Here, I had a

family that welcomed me.”




By Dana Borick Brigandi

Participants in the panel discussion, “Lycoming College Innovators and Entrepreneurs,” included,

from left, moderator Bill Kelly of WVIA Public Media and panelists Michael Warehime ’64, chairman of

Snyder’s-Lance Co., Jay W. Cleveland Jr. ’88, president and CEO of Cleveland Brothers Equipment Co.,

and Ron “Buddy” Knoebel ’65, owner of Knoebels Amusement Resort.