Multiple academic studies, along with heaps of personal experiences, have shown that in business settings men not only talk more than women, but also tend to more frequently interrupt their female peers. The reasons that the studies have settled on vary from men using conversation as a tool of dominance to men simply being raised to perceive interruptions differently, but the evidence of men feeling more entitled to voice their opinions is quite clear.

This, of course, is very annoying on a day-to-day basis, but there are larger problems stemming out from it that have a truly negative effect on working women; including the fact that the more someone talks, the more likely their voice will be amplified.

That’s where Women in Business hopes to be a positive force. We hope to amplify the voices that might otherwise be interrupted. That’s why we are proud to continue our tradition of celebrating women-led businesses and organizations with our second annual Fifty Women- Owned Businesses to Follow list.

Inside this issue you will be introduced to 50 women-owned and women-led companies that serve as shining examples of what women can accomplish in business no matter what the industry. Companies and organizations included range from construction firms to advertising to information technology. By including such a large variety, we aim to blur the conceptual line between men and women’s work until people forget it ever existed.

As always, the opportunity for Women in Business to feature such an array of organizations came from our readers, who sent in nominations from communities across our 23-county readership. A few names on the list may be familiar from previous lists such as Top 100, Women Making a Difference or last year’s Fifty to Follow. Many are new additions that we were happy to discover have found such success in Central Pennsylvania.

We hope that the final list represents both large well-established companies and small startups full of potential, while also covering every region of our readership. Readers will see that growing your business is possible in all corners of the commonwealth, whether you are in Altoona, Clairton or Troy.

It is not only our mission to provide a podium for current success stories, but also to support women who have yet to break into the business world. With this in mind, we asked each company selected for some advice that they could pass on to someone else looking to succeed in their industry and hope that their answers demystify the intimidating task of starting and maintaining a business.

With this special edition finalized, Women in Business is moving on to collecting submissions for Women Making a Difference, which will shine a spotlight on the individual women who have taken a leading role in business and in their community. The edition will be published this fall and nomination forms can be found on our website under the “Women Making a Difference” tab. .

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2017-06-16 / Top 50 Women Owned Businesses

Benzel’s Bretzel Bakery, Inc.

Est. 1911 | Altoona

Benzel’s has specialized in the production of pretzel products for well over 100 years. Adolph Benzel, the grandfather of current president, Ann Benzel’s, husband, started the company after emigrating from Germany. The business passed from generation to generation growing from a regional bakery to a national distributor and remains family and woman-owned today manufacturing under the Pennysticks brand label.

The company has set itself apart from other companies in part by overcoming technical limitations by building and maintaining much of their own equipment, allowing for the company to be flexible and self-contained. Sales have increased dramatically as pretzels stepped out of their traditional role and are now utilized in new specialty products such as ice creams, nutrition bars and candy.

Benzel’s has been honored locally on numerous occasions for efforts in providing employment opportunities to workers with disabilities. It is the philosophy of the company to contribute to the success and satisfaction of their employees and their community as well as that of their customers.

The Bakery also takes great pride in philanthropic initiatives and supports numerous charitable organizations.

Their advice for someone starting in the industry is, “find your niche and remain true to the core values of hard work, communication, responsibility and mutual respect.”

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