Q&A with Joseph P. Campbell, CEO of Royal Bancshares

An interview transcribed last week for yesterday’s edition of the Philadelphia Business Journal.

Name:campbell-joe.png Joseph P. Campbell
Title: President and CEO
Company: Royal Bancshares of Pennsylvania Inc.
Education: Embry-Riddle Aeronautical Institute, associoate’s degree, 1966; University of Florida BA and BS in corporate finance, law and secondary education, 1970
Career History: Royal Bancshares general manager of real estate division in Chester County (1970-1981); Royal Bancshares board of directors (1982-1991); Royal Bancshares managing director (1991-1999)

1. The bank has been owned largely by the Tabas family since 1980, when the name changed from Bank of King of Prussia to Royal Bank. How has that affected its development?

It was the smaller of two banks owned by two brothers… we were looking for a vehicle to get into the banking industry and wanted something that, as I like to say, already had the cash register ringing. We walked in the door and applied our management style to it. It was positive from day one… We gave it a larger regional scope, in moving branches from King of Prussia to Philadelphia. We wanted to make it a larger bank… we took our business model, our biggest asset that we knew what the other side thinks. We are not bankers by training, we came into it another way. We’ve stayed with what we knew, real estate, and grew in new ways.

2. You started as a bus boy at Tabas family hotel in Downingtown 40 years ago and became president and CEO. How has that experience affected your view of business today?

Dan Tabas was really my mentor, and there’s no greater ladder to success than having a great mentor… We’ve always looked at our business on a family basis. Every shareholder meeting I go to, I say… your employees are your greatest asset. Everything in life is a people business. Success or failure can be tied to how you treat people in business. The teller downstairs has a more important job than I do. I can be out of the office on a Wednesday… and no one would know. If that teller was out, she’d be missed.

3. Why did the company decide to add Royal Asian Bank in 2004? What has it brought to the company?

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Stephanie Reyer: meeting old things for the first time, like Philadelphia and the Constitution

As filed last week for today’s edition of the Philadelphia Business Journal.reyer-stephanie.jpg

If only Stephanie Reyer could find a good dry cleaner.

The new director of exhibits at the National Constitution Center left a lifetime in New York and a career at the American Museum of Natural History in the city.

“I’m the new kid on the block again,” she said. “It’s both challenging and invigorating.”

She had a long tenure as the associate director of exhibition graphic design for the American Museum of Natural History during which it transitioned from a dusty after-thought to a first-date spot, but thought it a time to move on.

“After nine years, what we did was established,” she said. “You start looking for new adventures.”

So, she moved to Center City.

“The lifestyle here is fantastic, an amazingly walkable city, amazing beautiful,” she said. “It has everything New York does, on a scale that’s more human.”

She started Feb. 25, just enough time to get some homework done, part of her professional move from a science museum to one focused on American history.

“I’m doing a lot of reading,” she said. “I wish i had the way to keep it all in my head.”

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Bowling Remington & Vernick: bowling for charity, economy be damned


As filed last week for tomorrow’s edition of the Philadelphia Business Journal.

Bowlers just might be the real test of the economy.

Organizers of the 14th annual charity bowling tournament sponsored Remington & Vernick Engineers and Affiliates, a consulting agency in Haddonfield, N.J., were worried if they could top their total last year, roughly $69,000, with some fearing a sluggish U.S. economy.

Maybe things aren’t as bad as others think because last month’s event raised more than $80,000 to benefit the Mommy’s Light Lives On Fund, the Canuso Foundation, Sensory Playhouse, the Alicia Rose “Victorious” Foundation and the Little Rock Foundation.

“We were pleasantly surprised, with the way the economy has been,” said Chip Adamson, a senior associate at Remington & Vernick who also serves as its charity committee corporate liaison.

Since its establishment in 1990, the committee has raised more than $250,000. Bowlers paid $10 for two-and-a-half hours of bowling at Baker Lanes on Cuthbert Boulevard in Cherry Hill, N.J., which included live entertainment, shoe rental, food and drink, and trophies for the day’s top bowlers.

In 14 years, the bowling event has grown, from its first year when just $440 was raised to this year’s $80,000.

See other examples of my reporting here.

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Gary Frisch: polar swimming for hunger


As filed last week for the Philadelphia Business Journal, to run in last Friday’s edition.

There are those who seek out an opportunity to swim in a frigid lake in March.

“Honestly, it’s something I’ve always wanted to do,” said Gary Frisch, company president of Swordfish, a public relations agency in Voorhees, N.J. “I’ve been itching to do it, though maybe a little afraid, scared of how my body would react.”

Of course, there are also those who just want to watch.

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E. Robert Levy: the mortgage crisis explained

Transcribed interview for the Philadelphia Business Journal, as published in February. As, the mortgage crisis weighs on, I thought some might be interested to learn a bit more from an industry expert.

Name: E. Robert LevyE. Robert Levy
Title: Executive director and counsel & executive director of legislative and regulatory information & legislative regulatory counsel
Organization: Mortgage Bankers Association of New Jersey & Mortgage Bankers Association of Pennsylvania & Pennsylvania Association of Mortgage Brokers
Education: Rutgers School of Law in York, Boston University (started undergrad) and Farleigh Dickinson (graduated undergrad),
Career History (most recent first): Private practice in law; deputy commissioner to New Jersey state Department of Banking and Insurance; Attorney general and counsel to New Jersey state Department of Banking and Insurance
Home: Livingston, N.J.

1) What are the major differences in the mortgage crisis between New Jersey and Pennsylvania?

Well, the differences are probably fairly negligible, depending upon what data you look at. Overall, the negative impact on both states, or on either state, is far less than what you find in other parts of the country, California, Florida, Nevada. As far as foreclosure rates are concerned, they are affected by the nature of the urban parts of the state, which get hit harder than others as there is some evidence that non prime lending was more prevalent in those markets.

2) How are the state legislatures and executive branches in each state approaching the problem differently?

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Glen Macnow: please rank Philadelphia cheese steaks again

People love to rank cheese steaks. There is something about listing shit that people love, so why not the cheese steaks? Listing, ranking, investigating shit that is supposed to be unique to a particular region or city or country, definitely worth a post on Stuff White People Like.

Nearly six years after Craig Laban, the respected Philadelphia Inquirer food critic, launched the Cheesesteak Project, Glen Macnow of WIP, a Philadelphia sports talk station, announced the initial findings of his own inquiry. His claim to note, though, is eating at 45 different locales, to Laban’s just 22.

His top pick thus far (his analysis isn’t complete) is South Philly’s John’s Roast Pork on East Snyder Avenue.

Like Laban, his list puts Tony Luke’s on Oregon Avenue as the top among the big name chains, and similarly, Pat’s and Geno’s didn’t even make it in the Top Ten.

Oh, another thing white people love to do is reject the most popular of a regional craft because, seriously, they know a much better place no one knows about (a derivative of wanting to be the only white person around).

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David Dinenberg: growing Grasso

As submitted for the Philadelphia Business Journal last week, unedited, for Friday’s edition.

David Dinenberg made some big deals as a real estate broker.

“But I was so unsatisfied,” said the new chief operating officer of Grasso Holdings, a full service real estate firm based in Philadelphia.didenberg-dave.jpg

It wasn’t for him. Uniting one company looking to buy and another looking to sell, no matter the field, left him feeling like a middle man, Dinenberg said.

Dinenberg’s new role will let the company’s CEO David Grasso focus on the largest deals and developing strategy for the growing firm.

“I cover the day to day management of the company,” said Dinenberg of his corporate management of the company’s affiliates, involved in construction, development, residential sales, leasing and property management. “Now I need to understand everyone’s projects.”

Those projects vary for Grasso, which isn’t asset specific. They’ve recently renovated the Lofts at Bella Vista and the Packard Grande, two Center City condominiums. Last year, Grasso opened Valley Square, a 400,000 square foot shopping center in Bucks County. In the coming months, the company is to break ground on a 1.2 million square foot mixed-use project in Center City, which will include a Whole Foods Grocery, a Best Buy, a hotel and high end rental apartments.

“We are a medium sized company doing huge deals,” he said. “We put our sights above where most people would put their own sights.”

“The best thing about real estate is that there are so many aspects to real estate,” Dinenberg said. “That’s what captivates my interest in the business in general.”

As the company continues to expand, Dinenberg is charged with developing an internal structure, offering oversight without hurting the company’s independent and entrepreneurial spirit, he said.

“You need those checks and balances as you grow up,” he said. “And we’re growing up.”

As he reduces his load of personal projects and shifts to a leadership role over the accounting, human resources, marketing, public relations, sales and leasing of Grasso and its affiliates Tycoon Entertainment, GH Property Services and GH Realty, Dinenberg said he hopes to help the company grow in a healthy way.

“I can take that to the next level, to operate Grasso and offer corporate oversight,” he said. “This is something I’ve always wanted to do.”

See other examples of my reporting here.

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