Pencor Services, Inc., (Pennsylvania ENtertainment, COmmunications and Recreation), with its corporate home in Palmerton, Pennsylvania, is the result of the vision of its founder, Claude Reinhard, and his sons, Donald and Fred, who have followed his innovative example.
Claude’s dream was to make a television signal available in Palmerton. In 1951, Claude, with the financial help of a few investors, founded the Palmerton TV Signal Corporation. They erected an antenna at the top of Blue Mountain and a pole line from the mountaintop to Sokol Hall on Lehigh Avenue in Palmerton. Local residents viewed Philadelphia channels 3, 6, and 10 for the first time. From this initial cable event, Blue Ridge Communications has evolved into one of the top 25 largest cable providers in the United States, with service to 179,000 subscribers in 15 counties of Eastern and Central Pennsylvania. In addition to BRC TV-13, a local origination channel, its services include: Digital and High-Definition Cable, Video On Demand, Digital Video Recorder (DVR), High-Speed Internet, and Digital Telephone.
During that time, Mr. Reinhard also owned Palmerton’s Laundromat (now operating under the management of another owner), The Zinc Bowl (now Haja Lanes), a bowling alley in Lehighton, and three movie theaters: The Palm Theater, The Classic Theater, and The Mahoning Valley Drive-In. The Palm Theater was located on Delaware Avenue. A fire forced the theater, which was sold in the mid-1970s, to close. Later, the site became home to the Palmerton High Rise, a community designed for local senior citizens. The Classic Theater was on First and Iron Streets in Lehighton in a building later known as the Times News Building. The Mahoning Valley Drive-In, although no longer part of the Pencor family, is still in operation and boasts the largest screen in the area.
Cable Grams, a weekly publication, began in 1967 to keep the public informed about cable TV enhancements and programming. This venture piqued Reinhard’s interest in the newspaper business, and he subsequently purchased the Jim Thorpe Times News. Within two years, he acquired circulation of the Lansford and Tamaqua daily newspapers. In September 1987, the Times News purchased the East Penn Free Press, published in Emmaus. Through the next two decades, seven more weekly newspapers were started, with each serving school districts in the Allentown and Bethlehem areas, including Bethlehem, Catasauqua, East Penn, Northampton, Northwestern, Parkland, Salisbury, and Whitehall. Each corresponds with the Press name, for example, Bethlehem Press, East Penn Press, Parkland Press, etc. Today, these eight newspapers form the Lehigh Valley Press. The Press weekly newspapers are independently owned and operated by the Times News, Inc. of Lehighton and are printed at the TN Printing complex in Lehighton.
TN Printing, a commercial sheet fed and web press printing division that began in 1971, grew along with the newspaper business. In 2002, its 20,000 square foot expansion, an $11 million investment, made room for five new state-of-the-art computerized Koenig and Bauer web presses. The two-story tall presses offer the ability to print 35,000 papers per hour, with 16 full color pages, and include a Kodak Trendsetter direct to plate system with Staccato screening capabilities, digital proofing and color management, and an optical plate punching and registration system. TN Printing has a full service mailroom with CASS certified inkjet addressing, variable data printing, tabbing, and envelope insertion capabilities.
Staying ahead of the curve with technology, Pencor invested in several wireless ventures in the early 1980s, thus forming Pencor Wireless. Pencor became a long distance provider with the creation of Palmerton Long Distance.
In 1994, the dawn of the information age, Pencor Services, Inc. founded PenTeleData with the purpose of providing affordable Broadband High-Speed Internet Access. The vision arose from a consortium of Lehigh Valley schools and their need to establish Point-to-Point Data Connections. The result was a partnership of cable and telephone companies who provided the knowledge and ability to build and interconnect networks. That partnership continues today, and includes Blue Ridge Communications, Service Electric Cable TV and Communications, Service Electric Broadband Cable, Service Electric Cablevision, CATV Service, Inc., and Ironton Telephone. As one of the largest privately owned networks in the nation, PenTeleData has over 9,000 miles of fiber optic wiring deployed and over $300 million invested in fiber optic infrastructure.
Later in the 1990s, public interest in purchasing telecommunications devices exploded and Pencor Super Store, now Pencor Wireless, sites opened to meet the needs of customers for cable, telephone, Internet, and cellular equipment and services. As an Authorized Retailer and partner of Verizon Wireless, Pencor Wireless offers the security of using a national cellular provider with the benefit of local, friendly customer service. A Walnutport location recently opened, providing customers in the area with close access to Blue Ridge Communications and Verizon Wireless and the local dispatch of cable technicians.
In keeping with the entertainment portion of the Pencor name, Penn’s Peak, a cozy venue located in Penn Forest Township, Pennsylvania opened. It comfortably hosts up to 1,800 concertgoers with its spacious dance floor, lofty ceilings, twin bars, and restaurant. With Roadies Restaurant and Bar on-site, Penn’s Peak is an ideal location for weddings, shows, trade shows, conferences, seminars, and private parties. The No Peaking Gift Shop is the source for all things Penn’s Peak, including apparel, glassware, and other souvenir items.
In the summer of 2005, Penn’s Peak Radio debuted with the best hits from both the adult contemporary and hot country charts, with a dose of rock and roll. The Internet radio station is available to local Blue Ridge Communications subscribers on their television and FM lineups and online listeners around the world.
Pencor Construction started in February 2006, and the electrical division was added in May of the same year. While most of its time is dedicated to serving the construction needs of the Pencor family, it also maintains the commercial customers that it served under previous ownership.
In 2010, PenTeleData opened Computer Patrol “The Store" at 528 Delaware Avenue in Palmerton. It offers the convenience of buying brand name computers and accessories with the personalized attention and friendly service that only a local store can provide
In spring of 2011, Pencor opened Claude’s Creamery, an ice cream shop named for the company’s founder. Located at 289 Delaware Avenue in Palmerton, Claude’s offers a variety of frozen delights ranging from hard and soft serve ice cream, sundaes, and milkshakes, to the “Claudehopper,” an exciting blend of CrunchiCreme soft serve vanilla ice cream infused with any of eight mix-ins and sandwiched between two choice toppings.