After a decade of wide-ranging business commitments in Pittsburgh, Greenville, and all throughout western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio (which resulted in a lot of hotel stays and living out of his car), Dave Przybylek had the opportunity to research and choose a location for a permanent office.
Growing up in Cochranton, he was very familiar with northwestern Pennsylvania, including the Franklin area. Settling relatively close to his parents (who were still residing in Cochranton) was a key part of the decision for Dave. Options in Crawford, Venango and Mercer Counties were considered. “Rich in history, with a distinct sense of community pride, character and identity, Franklin was the clear #1 choice,” Dave said.
He purchased and renovated a property and established the local office of Commonwealth Capital Group, a private equity and management consulting business, at 1052 Elk Street in Franklin in 2009. In 2011, Dave married Elizabeth Leshi, and he and his wife moved into a historic home (also on Elk Street). In addition to CCG, he also runs Heritage Properties Group Ltd that manages a set of rental properties in Franklin and Meadville.
Dave has lived and worked in New Jersey, New York City and Pittsburgh, but spent a lot of time in western Pennsylvania. Elizabeth, a native of the Bronx, lived and worked in New York City her entire life. They spent most of their careers in finance and business management, but Elizabeth is now studying to be a Physician Assistant in Pittsburgh, an educational adventure that began last year.
By far, their favorite features of the community are the history, identity/character, sense of community pride and fully-engaged nature of the community groups (like the Chamber of Commerce!) that make for a scenic and interesting community with a full and busy calendar. The quaint but busy downtown area and extensive and interesting mix of architectural styles made for a great location for Dave’s office and “home base”. Easy access to I-80 and I-79, connecting to cities like Pittsburgh and Cleveland, was a definite plus, Dave added.
Another defining issue is the fact that Franklin has many features of a larger community - a multitude of community events, assets like the Barrow-Civic Theatre, etc. - but is of a manageable size. “It is a good mix - an active community but with a ‘calm and collected’ side. We can do and see things without sitting in traffic for an hour... or more,” Dave said.
An unexpected bonus was the extent and scenic beauty of the bike/walking trails throughout the area. “It has been a truly pleasant surprise,” Dave said. They’ve also been consistently surprised in their efforts at refurbishing their office (built 1874) and house (1899), as well as other properties – “Mostly good surprises, with some unpleasant ones mixed in occasionally,” Dave said.
Dave and Elizabeth have been happy with the welcome they have received from the Franklin community. With such hectic professional, renovation, and school schedules, spare time for the couple always seems to be limited, but they enjoy walking the trails, taking advantage of community activities like concerts in the park and Applefest in the fall, and trying to be as involved in the community as much as possible. They give back to the community and region through involvement with the Allegheny Valley Trails Association and the Cochranton Area Redevelopment Effort, Inc.