A network of support

Bensalem Business Association’s Dave Rubin shares how the organization is providing resources for the community

By Samantha Bambino

The Times

Business is good: Mayor Joseph DiGirolamo stands with members of the Bensalem Business Association, an organization formed in 2009 to help local business owners network and help each other. Source: Bensalem Business Association

A number of traits are instrumental in having long-term success as a business owner. Passion, determination and a solid work ethic are usually the first to come to mind. But there’s one that’s not always so obvious, one many think they can do without — a willingness to accept help. No one has it all figured out, and no one becomes a thriving entrepreneur without their fair share of mistakes.

In 2009, a group of local business owners came to this conclusion. It was in the midst of the recession, and each was fighting to keep the doors of a shop or restaurant open. Rather than viewing each other as competition, they realized leaning on and learning from each other would ultimately help all parties in the long run.

That year, the Bensalem Business Association was born from this small group. Today, the BBA boasts nearly 50 members, which include large-scale organizations such as Parx Casino and Penn Community Bank, nonprofits like Women’s Humane Society, and eateries such as Apollo’s Family Pizzeria.

While the majority of members are located in Bensalem, a number call a surrounding area home, including Rob’s Automotive and Collision in Bristol, Nothing Bundt Cakes in Newtown and Huntingdon Valley Bank in Huntingdon Valley.

“If they touch Bensalem for any type of business, we would welcome them,” said president Dave Rubin, owner of Computer Troubleshooters. “You don’t have to be a business in Bensalem. We’re open to all.”

On the second Wednesday of each month, all members are invited to attend a BBA meeting, which allows them to showcase their business on a volunteer basis. For example, Jeanne Coyle, president and CEO of Penn Community Bank, will be the primary speaker at the October meeting.

The BBA also schedules regular guest speakers, including Rep. Gene DiGirolamo, who discussed the opioid epidemic in August, and Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick, who will speak at Holy Family University (a member) during the November meeting. Each January, Bensalem Mayor Joseph DiGirolamo shares township updates with attendees. According to Rubin, the BBA is not politically affiliated, but the information provided is useful to members from both a business and local resident perspective, helping them stay knowledgeable about what’s going on in their community.

Meetings are not held in July, during which a social takes place at Uno Pizzeria & Grill by Neshaminy Mall, and December, when members can attend a holiday party with their significant others. There’s no agenda at either event, allowing attendees to simply enjoy the company of their fellow business owners.

Throughout the year, a large portion of the BBA’s effort is dedicated to community service. Last year, through Boscov’s Friends Helping Friends initiative, which allows nonprofits to raise funds by selling shopping passes for $5, BBA donated $850 to the Bensalem Historical Society. This year, funds collected through the campaign will benefit Women’s Humane Society. The BBA also places a strong focus on helping local children by donating to organizations like the Hulmeville Soccer Club and Just for the Kids, which is headed by secretary Ralph Douglass. While most of its recipients are in the Bensalem vicinity, the BBA regularly supports larger causes such as the Penn State THON.

“We’re not huge, but we do make our impact,” said Rubin.

The BBA is operated by a seven-person board of directors, with elections taking place every two years. Qualifications include having membership for one year and attending six to 10 meetings. The board hosts meetings once a month, which are open to all members to promote accountability.

Rubin, who has served as president for three years, explained how he works to ensure the BBA is as transparent as possible. A yearly audit is distributed so members know exactly where their dues are going, in addition to a roundtable held each February, which gives members an open forum to express what’s going right and wrong and share ideas for improvement.

Cost is $120 annually, which Rubin said breaks down to 10 networking opportunities for $12, plus food. Since its founding in 2009, membership fees have not risen and he doesn’t foresee them doing so in the near future. Because of this, the BBA has maintained the majority of its members for nearly 10 years.

“We don’t have a revolving door,” Rubin said. ••

Visit bensalembusiness.com for more on the Bensalem Business Association, membership and upcoming events.

Samantha Bambino can be reached at sbambino@newspapermediagroup.com