Five Judges Named for Inaugural Spark Bowl Competition

Nov 25, 2019

Five Judges Named for Inaugural Spark Bowl Competition

Credit: Delaware Valley University.

Five of Bucks County’s most prominent businesspeople will serve as judges at the first annual Spark Bowl, a “Shark-Tank”-like competition to be held at Delaware Valley University on Wednesday, Dec. 11.

Spark Bowl will feature five local contestants – entrepreneurs, innovative businesses and nonprofit organizations – vying for thousands of dollars in funding to help them address social, consumer or business-oriented challenges in and around Bucks County.

This year’s Spark Bowl judges are:

  • Michael Araten – As the president and CEO of Sterling Drive Ventures, LP, Araten oversees a family office that owns, among other things, the Rodon Group. Founded in 1956, Rodon is a highly automated plastics injection molder, with a focus on small parts, used in more than 100 industries, including food, beverage, pharmaceutical diagnostic packaging, windows, consumer packaged goods, construction and toys. Prior to his position with Sterling, Araten was the president and CEO of K’NEX Brands, whose K’NEX™ construction toy is distributed in 40 countries. More than 95% of K’NEX component parts are made at Rodon’s facility in Hatfield, PA.
  • Fred Beans – Head of the automotive group that bears his name, Beans has been involved with the family-owned and -operated business for more than 50 years. The Fred Beans Automotive Group is the largest privately owned automotive group in Pennsylvania, employing more than 1,750 people, the majority of whom are in Southeastern Pennsylvania, where the auto group has its highest concentration of dealerships. The group comprises 20 dealerships, 18 brands, six collision centers, two AutoExpress locations, a parts warehouse, a rental car company and commercial truck sales. 
  • Susan Lonergan – The regional president of Fulton Bank’s Southeastern Pennsylvania Division, Lonergan leads the commercial sales and lending teams and is focused on growth strategies for the market. She has more than 30 years of banking experience, including nearly 10 years as a commercial relationship manager for CoreStates Bank in the Greater Philadelphia market, where she served both middle-market companies and small businesses, and almost two decades with Bank of America Merrill Lynch. 
  • William Schutt – A DelVal trustee, Schutt is the founder, former owner and chairman of MATCOR, Inc., a 40-year old, international engineering and manufacturing company serving the worldwide oil, gas and infrastructure industries and governments. He holds seven U.S. patents and several foreign patents, and he has authored numerous technical papers and lectured in more than 25 countries. Schutt, a DelVal honorary doctorate recipient in 2016, also serves on Drexel University’s Close School of Entrepreneurship Advisory Board, Drexel President John Fry’s Leadership Council, and several nonprofit boards.
  • Henry E. Van Blunk – An attorney in the Business and Corporate Law and Litigation practice groups at Eastburn and Gray, Van Blunk practices in corporate law, labor law, banking law, real estate law and public finance. He represents numerous businesses in healthcare, banking, gaming, home building and commercial building, construction, technologies and manufacturing. Van Blunk has served as bond counsel, disclosure counsel and underwriter’s counsel in connection with issuance of debt obligations by municipal governments, agencies, authorities and school districts, and previously served as a Judge Pro Tem in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas to assist the courts in resolving civil litigation cases. 

Spark Bowl is presented by the University’s Department of Business and Information Management and the Central Bucks Chamber of Commerce. As part of DelVal’s experiential learning program, student teams are working with the contestants to prepare for the competition under the guidance of DelVal faculty. The first-place award for the competing organizations will be $13,500 in funding. Additional prizes will be awarded to the second- and third-place teams, as well as the top student teams.

The competition will take place on Wednesday, Dec. 11, at 5:30 p.m. in DelVal’s Life Sciences Building auditorium. It is a free, public, community event that all are welcome to attend.