Eric Schwartz, North Light Consulting
Eric and his family moved to the Lehigh Valley while he was serving as CEO of Windkits LLC, a components manufacturer for wind turbine blades. He and his team needed to identify a new location after the firm’s European parent company announced it was spinning the division off and was requiring them to move from their previous location.
The company looked in a roughly 100-mile arc around its Bergen County, N.J., campus, searching in New York State, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania. They needed to be close to their customers, have access to transportation infrastructure and major highways, and near a population center to hire additional staff as they grew.
They toured about 15 different sites and found that Pennsylvania, particularly the Lehigh Valley, had the best combination of assets for the company: trained workers, access to distribution corridors, reasonable cost of living and lifestyle amenities.
“What much of it boiled down to for us was the Lehigh Valley had a lot of amenities that a big city would have. Even having basic stuff like an Apple Store here and chain restaurants that you would find in a larger city,” said Eric.
They also enjoy the open space and nature found in Lehigh Valley, and Eric serves as a kayak instructor for L.L. Bean’s Outdoor Discovery Program and teaches Map & Compass courses at the Center Valley store.
“We’re often hiking on the Appalachian Trail or at another nearby park. This summer, I dropped my wife and daughter off at Sand Island in Bethlehem and they kayaked all the way down the river to Route 33 in Easton. This is through the middle of the city!”
Having lived in eight different states, he’s had to adjust to many different environments. Eric’s wife Antje was born in Germany and has moved around as much as he has.
“We joked when we moved the business here that we were moving 90 miles and 50 years west. Lehigh Valley has a slower pace; People are kinder, gentler, and have a willingness to help. That was an entirely different mentality about how people interacted and behaved towards each other. There are also plenty of volunteer opportunities and people tend to get involved – it fits into the overall ‘looking out for each other’ vibe the area has.”
It was a welcomed change for them. Coming from outside New York City, they were used to a faster pace of life where people wouldn’t greet you or hold the door for you like they do in Lehigh Valley. The cost of living was a nice change too. Where they came from, it is expensive just to park to go see a show, let alone the cost of the show itself.
“We’ve seen so many bands here. We just saw Kiss earlier this year at the PPL Center. We’ve seen Foreigner and Boston and Styx and all these 80s bands we love. We’ve also seen, surprisingly, a lot of great high school theater here. Freedom High School puts on some shows that to me rival some of the shows that I’ve seen on Broadway.”
After a successful career growing various businesses, Eric started his own company, North Light Consulting, advising companies on business development, sales and marketing, operations & corporate strategy. Their kids are both in high school at Southern Lehigh and will remember the Lehigh Valley as their home.