SBA Officials visit Eastern Pennsylvania’s 2022 Family-Owned Small Business of the Year

Eastern Pennsylvania District Office


u s small business administration

SBA Officials visit Eastern Pennsylvania’s 2022 Family-Owned Small Business of the Year

2022 National Small Business Week Winner, NSBW

 Susquehanna Fire Equipment Company, Inc. presented with award April 27

The U.S. Small Business Administration announces Susquehanna Fire Equipment Company, Inc., located in Dewart, is the recipient of its Eastern Pennsylvania Family-Owned Small Business of the Year Award for 2022. Media are invited to attend.

WHEN:   April 27 at 11:00 a.m.

WHERE: 2122 Main Street, Dewart

Susquehanna Fire Equipment Company (SFEC) is a three generation, family-owned business started in 1951 when Max Foust, Sr. began selling fire extinguishers out of a garage. Today the business is led by the second and third generation of Fousts: son Keith Foust and grandson Seth Foust. Max’s other children, Max Foust, Jr. and Linda Foust-Confer have retired from the business. The business has 33 employees, two locations, and serves a 20-county area throughout Central Pennsylvania. SFEC provides all manner of fire suppression equipment, rescue equipment and industrial safety products as well as OSHA compliance and safety equipment training services to industry, offices, fire departments, non-profits and many other facilities.

“It’s a privilege to recognize the achievements of leading Pennsylvania family-owned small businesses like Susquehanna Fire Equipment Company,” said Steve Dixel, SBA Eastern Pennsylvania Director. “President Keith Foust and the many family members of the Foust family who have grown SFEC through three generations and 70 years are highly deserving of this award. SBA and our resource partner, Bucknell University Small Business Development Center (SBDC), are proud to play a role in helping the business sustain good-paying jobs in the region and impact the Central Pennsylvania economy.”

“The company was client number 7 at the SBDC and today we have more than 17,000 clients. With a record of technical consulting assistance dating back almost three full decades, there can be no stronger demonstration of the sustained value provided by the center to a business; and of the mutual respect between a client and an SBDC than the bond that exists between the Bucknell SBDC and Susquehanna Fire Equipment Company,” said nominator Steven Stumbris, Director, Bucknell University Small Business Development Center.

Bucknell University's Small Business Development Center is a member of the Pennsylvania Small Business Development Centers’ statewide network and provides confidential no-cost consulting and educational workshops to individuals throughout central Pennsylvania. The SBDC gives entrepreneurs the knowledge and skills they need to start and grow successful businesses.

“In addition to almost three decades of Bucknell SBDC consulting assistance across business planning and expansion, marketing and website development, and human resource management,” added Maureen Hauck, Assistant Director, Business Consulting Bucknell SBDC. “Keith and his team worked quickly and closely with the Bucknell SBDC in 2020 as they applied to the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loan program (EIDL) in the COVID-19 pandemic.”

When the pandemic occurred, business as usual was abruptly “extinguished” – sales declined severely, and SFEC laid off approximately 15 staff (almost half their workforce) due to pandemic restrictions preventing entry to customer locations to service fire protection equipment. However, with the SBDC’s help the company was soon approved for SBA funding through EIDL and PPP, and every employee reported for duty – even if it meant working in new positions and changed conditions. By May of 2020 Keith began to see a “clearing through the smoke” and business slowly began to recover.

“We are grateful for the SBA EIDL program and PPP funding that helped SFEC survive the ‘flames’ of the pandemic,” said Keith Foust, President, Susquehanna Fire Equipment Company, Inc. “It’s an honor to be named SBA’s Eastern Pennsylvania Family-Owned Small Business of the Year. Fifty years ago, as my father Max Sr. began growing the firm, he treated every employee like family because they were! Today we still treat each of our 33 employees like family, not because everyone is, but because it’s the right thing to do.”

While Keith Foust maintains the family nature of the business, he is deeply involved in community service and committed to local fire companies. Keith serves with the Warrior Run Area Fire Department and its predecessor, West Branch Volunteer Fire Company. Since 1974 he has served as a firefighter, EMT, pump operator, fire lieutenant and is currently a firefighter/engineer. SFEC donates to area fire company fundraisers and Keith is a member of Trinity United Church of Christ in Watsontown, Sunbury Shriner Club, Greater Susquehanna Valley Chamber of Commerce, Watsonville Business Association, and Central Pennsylvania Chamber of Commerce.

During National Small Business Week, the U.S. Small Business Administration recognizes and awards outstanding entrepreneurs, small business owners, and others from around the country. Additionally, recognition and educational events throughout SBA’s 10 Regions and 68 Districts will be held throughout the month of May.


For interviews with Susquehanna Fire Equipment Company or additional information, contact Sonia Smith at