Stella working to beautify Cambria City

By KAYLA PONGRAC
Our Town Correspondent

Cambria City Flowers owners Chad Pysher and Steven Biter understand that ideas are like flowers: They need their roots in order to bloom.

Pysher and Biter have created a new company named Stella Property Management and Event Production. The company specializes in repurposing culturally significant and historical properties that are no longer in use while respectfully maintaining each property’s roots.

The company is named after Pysher’s 95-year-old grandmother, Stella Ketchessin. He said that the grace with which she carries herself matches the company’s desired aesthetic.

“Everyone always says that my grandmother is a class act,” Pysher said. “I think her strength, her elegance and her interest in always wanting to take care of people and making their experience something they’ll never forget is her trademark. That’s exactly what the company is based
on.”

Brides and grooms who have had a wedding reception at The Grand Halle along Broad Street could tell you that Pysher and Biter take an interest in satisfying their clients. Since Aug. of 2012, Pysher and Biter have been decorating the venue for not only weddings, but also corporate events, private parties and various fundraisers. They are officially known as The Grand Halle on Broad Street’s event managers, but some couples may prefer to call them creative masterminds.

As event planning opportunities continued to arise over the past two years, Biter and Pysher realized that they needed to create a company that was a separate entity from their flower shop. That’s when they announced at this year’s Cambria City Ethnic Festival that Stella Property Management and Event Production was going to become a reality.

From providing management and booking services for various cultural organizations to owning and managing its own properties, Stella’s efforts are grounded in developing spaces and events that benefit the quality of life for not only the people of Cambria City and Johnstown, but also the entire region.

On the property development end, the company specializes in booking and promoting events, building budgets, creating a plan of action for developing property and more.

Event production services include weddings and private parties, community events, corporate meetings, fundraisers and galas, outdoor festivals and the like.

“We’re open to anything,” Pysher said. “This is a fresh new look on developing properties and producing events. I think the focus is on changing with the times and using the best resources we have to move ahead.”

Currently the company owns two properties in the Cambria City neighborhood: The Green, and what is soon to become the company’s official headquarters at 419.5 Brallier Place.

Stella’s corporate office is tentatively scheduled to open in March. The office is to include hosting and planning rooms and a special showcase room for event production services.

The showcase will be the only one of its kind in the central Pennsylvania region that utilizes the best event resources from around the country and the latest technology to give their clients a modern experience in event planning.

“We’re in the process of getting the building restored and modernized,” Pysher said of the former home, which is located behind the WagnerRitter House and Garden. “The outside will be very distinctive. This will be something different in the neighborhood, but we still want to maintain the character of the house.”

“It’s a different approach to the urban office. I know the neighbors are very happy that we purchased it, and the person who sold it to us is a very dear friend. We’re very respectful that this is a place
where a family was raised, and what we want to do with the office is show that you can retain the historical essence of Cambria City while adding a modern aesthetic.”

The Green, located at 701 Chestnut St., is scheduled to open next summer. The concept of The Green is to utilize the empty lot for events such as picnics and concerts.

Martinis on The Green, Art on The Green and Gourmets on The Green are a few of the events Pysher and Biter are hoping to organize. Beginning next June, they also plan to host a farm-
to-table dining experience featuring fresh, organic food.

“What is lacking in the neighborhood is this type of green space, and we want it to be an organic event space,” Pysher said of The Green. “The fence is going to be made from different types of bamboo. Our whole idea was to go with the name The Green and make it truly green. It’s a sustainable type of environment, and it’s modern and unexpected.”

Pysher and Biter have high hopes for Stella because they live in the Cambria City neighborhood and are invested in its renaissance.

“We’re not just owning to own, but to own to truly transform the neighborhood. There’s a big purpose driving this,” Pysher said, “and I think we bring a modern outlook on how things can be reused. We have a lot of ideas and if we can do something that will help bring another business here, that’s what we want to do. We’re not people from the outside looking in. We wake up in Cambria City every morning, and we know it has the potential. We want to develop Cambria City not only as a historical district, but also as an arts district.”

As they move forward, Pysher and Biter will be working hard to ensure that each building retains its roots.

“You shouldn’t negate the past,” Pysher said. “I think when people do, they fail. I think if the original intent of the building is considered and then that is taken and just re-worked, it fits better. It seems more authentic. You’re keeping true to what it is, but thinking about it in a new way.”

Owning and operating their small business — as well as acting as The Grand Halle’s event managers — have given both men an opportunity to learn what customers appreciate.

“I think we’ve learned to identify what is important and valuable and focus on that while maintaining integrity,” Pysher said. “I think people want to see others do things for the right reason. Businesses should expect to have some kind of responsibility to the community. There’s a mutual influence there.

“Our business is about creating experiences. I think that’s what we do best. Whether it’s through developing properties or planning events, when someone comes in to the Stella office, we want to empower them. We want to help them form a plan.”

Through Stella’s inception, Pysher and Biter are forming a plan — and it’s a plan that caters to friends, neighbors and visitors near and far.

“People keep saying they want change and they wantnew things, and that’s exactly what we’re giving them,” Pysher said. “I think they need to experience this — it’s not something that every city has. We’re creating a unique concept. People say Johnstown is 10 years or 20 years behind
the times, so we would like to catch it up.”

They’ll be accomplishing this by keeping in mind Pysher’s grandmother’s wise words.

“She taught us that if you’re going to do something, do it well and do it like you mean it,” Pysher said. “She says that you have to listen to people, understand what they want, learn what they love, recognize what they need and respond to it.”