Sunday January 13, 2013

Berkshire Eagle staff

PITTSFIELD -- Berkshire County’s aging population is fueling a boom for some area businesses, with rising demand for everything from assisted-living services, to financial management, to medical instruments. The result has been new hiring and investment to meet double-digit growth
projections.

People 50 or older in the Berkshires number 54,639 -- or more than 41 percent of the population, according to the 2010 census.

Don Rochelo, CEO at Apex Resource Technologies in Downing Industrial Park, said that his plastics-injection molding company that provides services and products for medical implants, among other markets, hired two engineers in the past year and purchased a $110,000 modeling machine to increase capacity.

Rochelo, 63, said that his company is profiting from surgeries like one he had two years ago on his right rotator cuff. His orthopedic surgeon used implantable anchors and suture threads to guide the growth of muscle around the bone.

"Your body grows older and stuff happens," Rochelo said.

He said two of his medical-device clients told him they are on track to grow 20 to 25 percent annually over the next 10 years.

"We are busy with new product development," he said.

Holly Chaffee, who manages the nonprofit Porchlight VNA/Home Care in Lee, said that in-home care has "exploded" over the last seven years because the elderly want to stay in their homes rather than move into assisted-living or nursing homes.


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Porchlight offers home health aides, homemakers, even senior companions.

Patrick Sheehan, who runs Sugar Hill at Home in-home care services on West Street and the Springside Rehabilitation and Skilled Care Center for physical occupational therapy and long-term care on Lebanon Avenue, said both of his businesses are running strong.

There’s been a 30 percent increase in the number of clients using the services of Sugar Hill at Home, Sheehan said, and he currently has 60 people staying at Spring Hill.

"It’s seen a dramatic increase in demand," he said.

Jason LaBelle of Edward Jones investments, one of a number of financial advisers operating in the Berkshires, said that more than 60 percent of his clientele is between 50 and 80. He works with them to create long-term retirement plans.

"They realize it’s not easy to do it on their own and they would like some help," LaBelle said.

To reach John Sakata:
(413) 496-6240
jsakata@berkshireeagle.com