By George Berkheimer, Senior Writer
Online maps make it easy to navigate and locate addresses in unfamiliar surroundings.
They can also be an educational tool, as well as a divining rod, of sorts. Zoom down far enough and begin moving the cursor around and there’s no telling what new or unusual businesses might be discovered — in many cases, the sort of things that elicit the response: “Who knew that was here?”
For the most part, the unusual businesses and organizations chronicled below were identified using this method.
Family-owned and -operated Lucky Fortune Cookie, located along Route 1, in Jessup, has been in business for more than 20 years. It once produced noodles and other specialty food items. Limited access to skilled workers in those trades, however, resulted in a decision to focus entirely on the crispy wafer treats that usually signify the end of a meal. In more recent years, however, they have been incorporated to do much more.
“We have done customer orders with wrapper branding and special messages for Microsoft Corp. and large chain restaurants like P. F. Chang’s,” said Lucky Fortune Cookie spokesman John Tsao. “People even propose marriage using fortune cookies. We have the ability to place a diamond ring inside the cookie and insert a personal message.”
During the last election, both Republican and Democrat candidates placed orders for election novelties. The cookies are also popular with school promotions, Tsao said, and students running for class president or student council have also placed orders to advertise their campaigns.
“Aside from special orders, we primarily supply wholesalers who distribute the product to restaurants in the United States, Canada and Europe,” Tsao said. “Not many restaurants can claim their fortune cookies come from a nearby bakery, so we’re very popular in the local region.”
Housed in a warehouse building with a fabrication shop along Route 1, in North Laurel, the Newseum Support Center is the primary archive and storage facility for the Washington, D.C., museum that is focused on journalism and news reporting. Three to four curators and library specialists work in the facility on any given day.
“We moved into the building in 2006,” said Newseum spokesman Jonathan Thompson. “We display three to four new exhibits each year, so the shop facility made it an ideal location for our archives. Our fabrication team builds all of the display cases for our exhibits in Laurel.”
Celebrating its 150th anniversary this year, Lenderking Caging Co., of Millersville, is the nation’s oldest caging company. Established by a former Union officer in 1867, Lenderking designs and markets cages that promote natural animal behaviors while making them user-friendly and durable.
“Our manufacturing capabilities also include industrial, commercial and architectural products,” said Lenderking President Michael Semenuk. “We’ve built display cases for Smithsonian museums and have helped with projects as far away as Hawaii.”
Most of the company’s original customers no longer exist, but Lenderking still does business with some old friends, including Baltimore-based Ellicott Dredges, which used products manufactured by Lenderking to dredge the Panama Canal and the Saint Lawrence Seaway.
Manda Zand Ervin left her native Iran in 1979 following Ayatollah Khomeini’s rise to power, and eventually moved to Clarksville with her husband, a retired U.S. Navy officer, in the 1980s.
Having served as managing director of the Department of Statistics and International Affairs in Iran’s Customs Administration, Ervin found herself at odds with the Iranian clergy’s policy of gender apartheid and fled for her safety.
She founded the Alliance of Iranian Women in 1999 with the mission of bringing a voice to the oppressed women and children of Iran, while educating the media and American politicians about the conditions under which they live. In 2009, she spoke before the G-8 International Conference in Rome on Violence Against Women.
“Iranian women won the right to vote in 1962 and were admitted to universities beginning in 1937, but today they are denied an education in 72 fields of study, including law, sciences and the humanities,” Ervin said. “People protest these conditions every day in Iran, but nobody in the West knows about it.”
Located in an industrial park just off Route 1, in Jessup, Products Support Inc. (PSI) manufactures ground support test equipment and flight hardware platforms for air-to-air refueling operations conducted by NATO partners, and by other United States allies who fly the F-15 and F-16 fighter aircraft.
“We also fabricate test equipment for the F-35 and F-22,” said PSI President Scott Wiley. “Our products are used by anybody who uses a receptacle or boom to refuel in flight.”
If it seems an odd location for such a business, there’s a background story.
“One of the original owners of the company was involved in the inception of aerial refueling back in the 1950s,” Wiley said.
PSI also provides full-service manufacturing of interconnect devices and power distribution equipment for avionics.
The Scholastic Book Fairs warehouse, located in Odenton since 2005, partners with Maryland schools to host book sale events for children in pre-school through ninth grade and their families.
“Kids who read, and read well, do better in school, at work and in life,” said Scholastic spokesperson Teryl McLane. “But reading takes practice, just like any other skill. We provide unfettered access to books that kids can’t wait to read for fun.”
Scholastic’s in-school literacy events give students and families access to thousands of affordable and popular books, she said, and generate much-needed funds for school and classroom libraries. Scholastic works with 1,500 schools to host approximately 2,700 book fairs each year.
A nonprofit program founded in 1994, Anatomy Gifts Registry, in Hanover, provides a whole body donation program to support researchers and clinicians for the benefit of medical science, research, training and education.
“We accept donors from 46 states,” said Executive Director and COO Corinne Bell. “We have a network of funeral homes and mortuary transporters who will perform the removal of the decedent from the location of death and ship or deliver the donation to us here. We receive about 130 donations a month, on average.”
AGR’s president started the company while still a recent biology graduate. Working for a diabetes researcher, he noticed a need for researchers to have access to anatomical specimens of varying diseases and pathologies.
“There needed to be a way for hospitals and universities to receive the anatomical materials needed for critical projects, research and training,” Bell said. “Hanover is a great location near an international airport, and [in] the highly populated mid-Atlantic region, from which we receive many donations. It is also within reasonable distance to many universities and hospital programs, as well as separate surgical skills laboratory facilities to which we provide anatomical specimens.”
Howard County has its very own producer of barbecue sauces and spice rubs in Glenwood. Joe Joe’s Hog Shack co-owners Joe Flanagan and Brian Ellis turned a family gathering tradition into a business, and now sell their products in stores and at events across the region.
“Joe had been doing sauces and cooking in competitions for decades, and we started selling commercially about 18 months ago,” Ellis said. “We ramped things up last year and now use a co-packer.”
Boarman’s Meat Market, in Highland; Cozy Pools, in Mount Airy; and several farm markets carry the line of sauces, which include Carolina, Sweet and Tangy, and Blackberry.
“Right now we’re doing a lot of online sales, but we expect to sell a lot more as people in the region get familiar with us,” Ellis said.