and Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) executives met with members of the Lower Bucks County Chamber of Commerce (LBCCC) Wednesday morning. The gaming officials wanted to let local business people know that Parx and other state casinos want to do business with them.
And Parx does plenty of business.
“Annually it’s $150 million worth of purchases on things from mustard to slot machines,” said Ron Davis, Parx director of diversity & community development.
Parx chief operating officer Gary Luderitz agreed that Parx spends a lot of money and hopes to keep the spending near home.
“We understand that these expenditures we make are significant particularly if we can make those expenditures in the local community,” he said. “Nothing would please us more than to be able to work together to keep all of that local.”
Allen Strauss, Parx director of purchasing, is the man who decides where the casino spends its money. He said prospective business partners should fill out the vendors registration on the Parx website.
He said to follow up after registration to set up a meeting.
"Follow-up is key," he said.
“We want to do business with everyone,” he said, noting that they are looking for the “right product at the right time at the right price.”
Mark Miller, PGCB licensing manager, explained some of the regulatory requirements of doing business with Pennsylvania casinos.
“There’s different levels of licensure with us,” he said.
Businesses doing less than $100,000 in business a year with the casinos don't have to apply to the state, but any more than that requires them to file lengthy applications that include extensive background checks.
Mozelle Daniels, PGCB chief diversity officer, monitors the casinos’ compliance with the state’s diversity initiatives.
According to Daniels’ annual diversity report, Parx Casino spent nearly $19 million with local businesses in 2010. The Bensalem casino also spent over $9 million with minority and women-owned businesses and donated over $4 million to charities last year.
At the end of the meeting, Davis and the other officials answered some questions posed by chamber members.
“The reason why you are here is that we wanted to make sure that Bucks County was taken care of first in our outreach,” Davis said.
In October, Davis brought the same message to the Bensalem Business Association (BBA). He told the group that Parx wanted to work with local businesses.
“Parx Casino has a tremendous economic impact on our local community. We are proud that we have tremendous partnerships in local vendor and construction business,” Davis told Patch after the BBA meeting. “We are proud to share our success with our neighbors.”
“As Mr. Davis has helped Parx expand in Bensalem, he has not forgotten the small business owner,” said BBA President Pondeli Hajioannou after that meeting. “He gave us a lot of great information on how to do business with the casino.”
At both the Chamber and BBA meetings, Davis told a success story of a local pie maker who proposed an idea for a café at the casino.
“That idea didn’t fit our plans, so we suggested that he sell his pies in our shops,” Davis said. “Guess what’s happening, we’ve been selling his pies in our retail outlets for three or four months now.”
That baker is Andy Moreno of Pie Land, 4 E. Bristol Road, Feasterville.
He told Patch the management at Parx “really wants to support local merchants.”
Moreno got the idea to approach the casino from Parx employees who frequent his shop.
“They told me my pies were delicious and I should be selling them at Parx,” he said. “So I filled out the vendor form online and contacted Ron Davis.”
Moreno approached the casino in March, brought a bunch of pies for them to taste in June and they started buying his pies at the end of July.
He said he’s very happy with his current situation, but hopes to eventually have Pie Land cafés in all of the Parx properties. He also plans to approach the purchasing agents at the other Philadelphia-area casinos such as Sugarhouse and Harrah’s.
“If there’s one thing I am, it’s persistent,” said Moreno, who seems to understand that follow-up is key to doing business with casinos.