2018 Spring

How My English Degree Helped Build a Tech Company

When I was 26, my dad got sick and asked me to take over as CEO of the tech company he started. I was armed with my English major from Allegheny College and a couple of years in a retail management training program. In other words, I didn’t have a clue. Or so I thought. …

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The Agency Game

Pipitone Group, an ad agency in Pittsburgh’s Observatory Hill neighborhood, counts Vitro Architectural Glass as one of its largest clients. For the Cheswick-based company, which purchased PPG Flat Glass in 2016, Pipitone manages advertising and web strategy. Yet when Vitro wants to develop and implement a public relations initiative, it brings to the table another …

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The Allegheny River

In many ways, the Allegheny River is the centerpiece of our region. It traverses landscapes from wilderness to urban and provides recreational opportunities in many different places along its course. One of the most spectacular parts of the river is the free-flowing 125 miles of the middle Allegheny from the Kinzua Dam in Warren County …

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Opining on Eponymy

It used to be you had to die to get your name etched in stone. Not anymore. Now all you need to do is fork over enough cash to your local school or library and you can purchase a brick with your name chiseled on it while you still register a pulse. Bricks are only …

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Kelleman, Fech, Kaminski, Thors, Bhattacharya, Crawley, Miller

Katharine Eagan Kelleman is the CEO of the Port Authority of Allegheny County, succeeding Ellen McLean. Kelleman comes to Pittsburgh from Tampa, Fla., where she led the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority and won that region’s 2016 Businesswoman of the Year Award for economic development. She has previously worked in transit agencies in Baltimore, Dallas …

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If Pittsburgh is Having a Restaurant Boom, Why are So Many Restaurateurs Worried?

Even with the opening of Ace Hotel in 2015, there seems to be a lot of East Liberty restaurant spaces waiting for tenants. Head down Penn Avenue and there are a parade of empty storefronts, including the former Livermore space at South Highland and the old Anthon’s Restaurant & Bakery (now the home of a …

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Bognar, Franklin, Freeman, Ross, Goldstein, McElhattan, Malone

Nadine Bognar, 87: The co-owner of Bognar and Company, a supplier of coke and coal for the steel industry, she became chairman and CEO in 1992 after her husband’s death. While her business acumen contributed to the company’s continued success, it was her philanthropic efforts and support of a wide range of arts organizations that …

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Buying a Company Town

Joseph Meyer lives in the former manager’s home of an abandoned company town, where there is no running water, no cell service, and until recently, there was not a single resident. On this cold Saturday in December, 63-year-old Meyer splits wood to heat his three-story home. The scene would be a common one in rural …

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Hard to Swallow

It started with a cough and the need to clear her throat whenever she ate. Eventually, swallowing became more difficult—and even dangerous—for Patricia Grimm, 63, of the North Side. “I’d be at Red Lobster eating a salad or in the car eating a hamburger and I’d start choking,” she says. ”When you can’t breathe because …

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Our Changing Pastime

On a snowy night, I’m tossing winter batting practice in a gym to nine-year-old boys who play for Steel City Select, an elite Pittsburgh travel baseball club. We’re getting ready for the 2018 season, another chapter in the history of a game invented by Americans almost two centuries ago, and which has deep roots in …

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John Fetterman, Public Servant

I was born in Reading, Pa., on Aug. 15, 1969. My parents, Karl and Susan Fetterman, were both only 19 years old at the time, so I was an “unplanned event.” But my mom and dad did get married and, as I matured and came to understand the circumstances surrounding my birth, the knowledge helped …

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A Foundation for the Future

The Benter Foundation has increasingly made a mark in Pittsburgh since it was founded 11 years ago by philanthropist Bill Benter. Dedicated to supporting “the leaders, organizations and ideas that help communities and individuals thrive,” the foundation’s primary focus has been local, with an emphasis on the arts and education. Benter’s approach is hands-on. He …

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Then and Now

After a foray into fashion, The Frick Art and Historical Center has returned to its comfort zone with “Van Gogh, Monet, Degas: The Mellon Collection of French Art from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts” (March 17-July 8, 2018). Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon amassed an extremely large collection of art, and while he was …

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A Life Caring for Fallingwater

Lynda S. Waggoner is vice president of the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy and director of Fallingwater. On the occasion of her retirement, we asked her to look back on more than 50 years at Frank Lloyd Wright’s masterpiece. Q. How did you get involved with Fallingwater? A. I was a senior in high school in 1965, …

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Moby Dick Spouts at Pittsburgh Opera

When Herman Melville’s classic 1850 novel hits Pittsburgh March 17 for a four-show run at the Pittsburgh Opera, audiences will set sail with Captain Ahab on his obsessive pursuit of the infamous white whale that robbed him of his leg and, perhaps, his sanity. The stage is Ahab’s ship, the Pequod, moving through various parts …

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Man’s Best Friend

There once was a dog named Stormy. When he was very young, a man became his friend and carefully introduced him to all sorts of people, places and situations. He kept little Stormy away from frightening things, and Stormy grew up to love people and the world. Every morning of his life, he jumped as …

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Making Maple Syrup

What is this?—syrup, maple syrup in a quart jar, syrup my grandfather made twenty-five years ago for the last time. I remember coming to the farm in March in sugaring time, as a small boy. He carried the pails of sap, sixteen-quart buckets, dangling from each end of a wooden yoke that lay across his …

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The Economic Outlook for 2018

tronger hiring last year, rising wages and upcoming tax cuts lead those who read the economic tea leaves to be cautiously optimistic that 2018 could reward southwestern Pennsylvania with the largest increase in job growth in five years, finally shaking the malaise that works to contract the local labor force, send residents packing and stifle …

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Helping Children Heal and Thrive

When Pamela Schanwald was pregnant, doctors relayed a terrifying image from an ultrasound: extra skin on the back of her son’s neck indicated possible Down syndrome. She immediately began searching for day care options in the Pittsburgh area for children with special needs. She couldn’t find any. “Obviously, I knew it would be a lifelong …

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A Terrific Look at the Sophisticated History of Black Pittsburgh

“Smoketown” is a gift to Pittsburgh on a number of levels. When an accomplished national journalist and author turns in a deeply researched and gracefully written work about your town, that’s a win. Beyond that, Mark Whitaker, a former editor of Newsweek, gives Pittsburghers the gift of enhanced understanding of their city, stretching back centuries. …

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An Open Letter to Amazon

With cities across the nation primping and preening to be the fairest of them all and win the prize of becoming Amazon’s second headquarters, I’d like to let the Amazon decision makers know about a quality which I doubt has been part of any sales pitch thus far. But first, a preamble. Pittsburgh is now …

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Gaining Critical Mass

Alfred Hunt knew a good idea when he saw it. And Charles Martin Hall had one. In 1886, the 23-year-old chemist had discovered a smelting process to make aluminum inexpensively while working in a lab he cobbled together in a shed behind his parent’s house in northern Ohio. Hunt, a Pittsburgh metallurgist, realized its commercial …

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