Business

Thoughts on the Search Business

I‘ve been ruminating recently—one tends to do that at a certain stage in life—about the business I’m in: executive search. It’s a nice business, especially if you enjoy introducing interesting, talented people to other interesting talented people, which I do, and don’t mind rejection, which I don’t. The business is never as good as it …

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Boom and Bust

All over rural pennsylvania, motel parking lots, which just a couple of years ago were teeming with lumbering pickup trucks with out-of-state plates, are nearly empty. So are the hastily constructed “man camps” that not so long ago provided temporary shelter for roughnecks and roustabouts. So are the breakfast joints where they used to eat. …

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The City Should Welcome Shell to Downtown Pittsburgh

In the current issue of Pittsburgh Quarterly, Publisher Doug Heuck notes the collaborative work of Pittsburgh civic leaders in helping Pittsburgh’s economic rebirth. The recent announcement that Shell is now committed to building an ethane “cracker” plant in Beaver County is an opportunity to increase that collaboration. The natural gas in the region has a …

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Problem in Pittsburgh?

Pittsburgh’s unemployment rate, reported for the latest available month, April 2016, bumped up for the third month in a row to 5.8%. On the surface this is a disturbing figure given that most cities in our cohort group are experiencing falling unemployment rates. The unemployment rate in Charlotte is now down for the third consecutive …

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Should We Go Fishing for PayPal?

Recently PayPal announced the cancellation of a planned operations center in North Carolina resulting from the passage of North Carolina HB2 (the “bathroom” bill). The reasons a company chooses a particular location to establish a facility are complex, but I believe Pittsburgh offers practically everything that was to be found near Charlotte. I would like …

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Expat Paul Scripko Sets the Stage

A few years ago at Southwestern University in Texas I attended a lecture given by Michael Chabon, author of those two love letters to Pittsburgh, “The Mysteries of Pittsburgh” and “Wonder Boys”. At the start of the evening he asked “Who in the audience is from Pittsburgh?” A number of us raised our hands and …

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The New Marcellus Debate

It has become the new flash point in the battle over the development of the Marcellus, with advocates for development facing off against opponents, not in remote fields in rural Pennsylvania, but all over the region. And it’s not just about drilling anymore. The new battle over the Marcellus is being fought over hundreds of …

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Marcellus Shale: A Tricky Situation

For years, it’s been a common rallying cry among activists that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has coddled its burgeoning natural gas industry at the expense of other state priorities. Perhaps nothing, they contend, has been more emblematic of that cozy relationship than the fact that Pennsylvania is the only active drilling state in the union …

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AC / DC

Three University of Pittsburgh professors have seen the future in electrical innovation, and it begins in Homewood. They’re talking about an electrical revolution, and it’s fitting that Pittsburgh and one of its poorest neighborhoods could play a large role. In the late 1880s, Pittsburgh’s most famous Homewood resident, George Westinghouse, prevailed in what has since …

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The Battle for Cleaner Energy

For two days this past summer, the streets around the William S. Moorhead Federal Building, downtown, were ringed with cops and jammed with largely orderly protestors, some in camouflage, others in tie-dyed T-shirts. They were drawn, as they had been at other cities around the country, to make their voices heard on the U.S. Environmental …

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The Export Dilemma

As the Shale-driven production of natural gas has expanded in recent years, so too has the demand from much of the industry to unleash that resource on the world market. And that chorus of voices calling for the United States to use gas from fields like the Marcellus to tap into the world market has …

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A century of safety

It was June 1914 when John T. Ryan Sr. and George Deike, two federal mine rescue engineers horrified by the carnage they’d seen in coal mine explosions, formed a company dedicated to making the industry safer. Ryan and Deike enlisted the services of no less a luminary than Thomas Alva Edison to design an electric …

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Passing the test

Think you’d like to be CEO of a major corporation? Best get ready for this test: The employer informs you that over the next day and a half, you’re the leader of a hypothetical company. You prepare by reading reams of hypothetical reports generated by your hypothetical company. As you arrive at your computer, you’re assaulted …

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Does This Change Everything?

It’s been nearly six months since the state Supreme Court rocked Pennsylvania by striking down key portions of Act 13, Gov. Corbett’s signature legislation on Marcellus Shale drilling. But even now, the full impact of the decision—and what it bodes for the future of the drilling industry in the state—remains unclear. In fact, say legal …

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Shale Gas & the Environment

For years the well pads, truck traffic and logos of energy companies large and small multiplied across counties like Washington and Greene as southwestern Pennsylvania became a poster child for the rush to extract natural gas trapped in the Marcellus Shale. It was in such a climate that the region recently assumed a new identity …

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Still Changing at 150

On April 19, 1864, America was preoccupied by several rather sizable events, including the Civil War and the recent emancipation of slaves. So citizens could be excused if they paid scant attention to the festivities that day in Cumberland, Md., where an entity called Consolidation Coal Company launched its operations by selling 1,000 shares of …

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The Royalty Rub

When Mary Jane Foelster and her husband, Richard, retired five years ago and left Philadelphia for a secluded 50-acre tract of land in Bradford County, they never figured they’d get rich. In fact, until they were about to close on the property, they didn’t even know that the previous owners had signed a lease with …

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Red Flags Rising

It’s been more than a year since Maria van der Hoeven, executive director of the International Energy Agency, stepped to the lectern on a sweltering summer day in Houston and issued a stern warning to a gathering of energy executives. She acknowledged the potential advantages of the unconventional shale gas boom—from increasing the nation’s energy …

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Finding Common Ground

The conversations began quietly two years ago in Pittsburgh and Harrisburg. Could natural gas be harvested from shale without writing a new chapter in the legacy of tainted air and water that had been the price of nearly a century of steel making and mining in the region? And was there an appetite among energy …

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Gauging the Second Term

For months last year, as the campaign for the White House shifted into high gear, opponents of President Obama tried to paint his first-term administration as hostile to the development of domestic fossil fuels, including the vast natural gas resources contained in the Marcellus and Utica shales, as well as other unconventional shale plays across …

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A Christmas Miracle

John Dionise knows Santa would be jealous. Rather than flying a sleigh all over the place this Christmas season, trying by sight to find each and every home where a gift is to be delivered, the drivers who work for Dionise out of a Sewickley station for FedEx Ground—the growing, Moon Township-based division of FedEx …

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The Marcellus Shale Dilemma

A blistering July—the hottest on record—vaporized heat records in thousands of communities across the country. A historic and prolonged drought settled across a vast swath of the southern and central United States, devastating corn crops and threatening to send the cost of everything that depends on it—from baby food to burgers to the ethanol we …

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