POTTSTOWN — April Barkasi is always on the move, and most of the time, she’s moving forward.
Just ask Curt Hatfield, the COO of Cedarville Engineering, the company Barkasi founded and for which she is CEO.
The first time he met her, she had about four employees. He met her again and she had more, then a few years later the firm had even more. Now Cedarville Engineering has 40 employees and he is one of them.
April Barkasi, founder and CEO of Cedarville Engineering, shows off the 2022 Woman-Owned Small Business of the Year Award from the U.S. Small Business Administration.(Evan Brandt — MediaNews Group)
“When we talked about me coming on board, she was very emphatic, “we are going to grow this company,” he said in the company offices, located on the top floor of the brick bank building at Hanover and High Streets.
“We’ve had lots of challenges and adversity,” Hatfield said. “But the one thing I know she’ll always say, ‘just keep going. There’s no other choice.’”
And she has kept going.
The company started in 2010 in a small rented office, and continued to move into larger and larger spaces as it grew, Barkasi told MediaNews Group. Now, Barkasi owns the bank building where the office is located, is in the midst of renovating the lower floors to host a business incubator, and has opened another office in Pensacola, Fla.
Additionally, she purchased the former Mercury newspaper building across the street and is renovating that into a boutique hotel. (That work is going slowly, she said, due to the skyrocketing cost of building materials.)
For all this, and so much more, Barkasi was recognized Tuesday with the 2022 U.S. Small Business Administration’s Eastern Pennsylvania Woman-Owned Small Business of the Year Award.
“You’re an example to businesswomen, but also to our future workers, our students,” said Koh Chiba, chief of staff for U.S. Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-4th Dist., who was on hand Tuesday representing Dean’s office. “We meet regularly with a student focus group and the thing they are so focused on is climate change and you show them that you can help the environment and have a meaningful career,” he said.
Steve Dixel, the director of SBA’s Eastern Pennsylvania District, told Barkasi that winning one of the two awards given out in Pennsylvania in this category “is not easy.” Michael T. Kane, deputy director for the district, said Cedarville was chosen from among more than 20 applications.
“Financial survival requires perseverance and creativity,” Dixel said. “April faced unique challenges and learned resilience, and forged stronger relationships with clients and partners. Small business owners like April continue to play a central role in building a stronger economy.”
In her remarks Tuesday, Barkasi thanked the Pottstown community for its support and her employees for their efforts.
All the employees in Cedarville Engineering’s Pottstown office gathered to celebrate the company’s SBA award Tuesday.(Evan Brandt — MediaNews Group)
“I do appreciate the support and I can’t say I’ve ever found an obstacle with the business community of the political community here in Pottstown,” she said.
To her employees, she said “I appreciate everything you do, it’s the magic. It’s not me, it’s you,” Barkasi said. “Without all you do, I’m just a girl drawing a line on a paper. And we do so much more, so very much more value when we all work together.”