The Plain Communities Business Exchange


On our recent list of five Amish publications you might like, we included the Plain Communities Business Exchange, a monthly paper for and about Amish and other Plain businesses.

Today we have an interview with PCBE’s Carl Heule, who leads public relations for the publication. Carl shares what the PCBE is all about, who reads it, and his thoughts on a few of the more unusual Amish businesses.

Q & A on the Plain Communities Business Exchange

How did the Plain Communities Business Exchange begin? 

Carl Heule: Moses B. Glick started the PCBE in 1993 because he saw the need for quality business news in the Amish community. In 2003, it transferred ownership and is now managed by the Lapp family in Millersburg, PA.

How did you get involved and what is your position?

I’ve been writing articles for several years, and today I coordinate public relations. This means I work closely with the authors and organizations who submit work for publication.

I also have the special and enjoyable challenge of moderating interviews like this one. I do not have a Plain background and perhaps that makes it easier to navigate these sorts of things.


What is your readership?

Every month, we deliver thousands of copies to a wide variety of Amish and Mennonite communities, and we’re read in workshops, in homes, and on cross-country train trips.

Our readers might also subscribe to Die Botschaft, The Budget, Family Life, and The Connection but our special niche is the Plain economy. Dad might like our magazine the most, but the whole family can enjoy it, too.

What will readers find in the Plain Communities Business Exchange?

That is a good question because there are so many features to consider.

At first glance, the publication is simply a snapshot of the Plain economy. Looking closer, readers will find business columns, interviews, transcriptions, and an active market for tools and equipment.

We also publish stories and a travelogue in serial format. Naturally, every aspect of the Plain economy has some tie-in including woodworking, metalworking, agriculture, construction, natural health, and social events like trade shows and auctions.

In many ways, the PCBE is a forum for Amish and Mennonite entrepreneurs to learn from one another, and this information is exclusive because we’re only available in print.


Why are there so many advertisements, and how can that be interesting for readers? 

Each issue is packed with ads but our subscribers actually enjoy them and many subscribe for that very reason.

I struggled to understand this until one day I realized that every advertisement is actually a story about a company in a particular place and time. Whenever that company changes its ad, it adds another chapter and that’s engaging for the readers.

Last year, a new company from Indiana started running ads for scrap and waste handling equipment, and now I search for it each month because the story of their business is just beginning.

What are some of the challenges your see Plain businesses facing today? 

That’s a good question. Certain sacrifices are inevitable if you run your business according to the rules of your church. For example, most of our subscribers do not have a website, and that seems like a bad idea if you own a business.

That said, maintaining a useful website requires time and technical expertise. That’s a challenge, too. If you’re an Amish carpenter, what’s a more profitable use of your time? Collecting likes on Facebook or actually building furniture?

Most sell furniture through dealers who are online anyways, so the decision is easy. Sometimes a challenge boils down to perspective, and the Amish are great teachers in these regards.

Pictured below: The layout process at PCBE.


What are some of the more interesting or unusual Plain businesses you are aware of? 

The list is pretty long because there are so many great examples. Maybe that’s another reason the advertisements are so interesting. They collect all of the unusual offerings in one place, like solar panel kits, self-published games, horse tonics, and hacker-proof computers. You can’t hack a computer if it can’t go online, right?

Personally, I think the fabricating shops are quite interesting. This month we’re featuring an Amish company that assembles very powerful and incredibly dangerous firewood processors. Harvard University and Abercrombie & Fitch are both customers. I was really surprised when I heard that.

What do you enjoy about your work and what are some of its challenges? 

I spend each day exploring the Plain economy, and I truly enjoy learning from Amish and Mennonite entrepreneurs. In terms of innovation and creativity, some of these guys can easily compete with the tech gurus in Silicon Valley and that makes for great stories. Writing for a Plain audience can be a challenge but I still enjoy it.

In what ways has the Plain Communities Business Exchange changed or been changing? 

It used to be black and white in tabloid format, but now it’s 11 x 15 and typically runs longer than 100 pages, most in full color. It’s pretty hefty and still growing.

We’ve also implemented a style guide to improve readability, and the look is cleaner and easier to follow. In terms of content, we’ve plugged in many new features, and the results have been great.

Pictured below: PCBE in 1993.


What are the the goals of the changes and new features? 

Every month we ask ourselves, what is relevant to our audience? We try to answer this question through constant improvement, including the changes and new features.

From a non-Amish (English) perspective, the Plain Communities Business Exchange is like the Wall Street Journal, social media, several trade publications (agriculture, woodworking, metal fabricating, etc.), and a little fun all rolled into one.

It’s a confusing and wonderful mix, and while we try to bring order through change, leaving some things be is part of the publication’s character.


How can readers learn more and/or subscribe to the PCBE?

We do not distribute digital copies online but we do have a basic website where people can order a subscription, which you can find here. Most of our readers subscribe by mail and this option is available to everyone else as well.

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    1. tammy

      great publication

      One of our Amish friends gave us a copy of this publication and it was so interesting! There is much to learn by reading it. What a great giveaway.

    2. Barbara Long


      This sounds like a valuable asset to anyone interested in the plain communities. I totally understand the interest in the “ads.” I would love to see this publication for myself. I “buy plain” every chance I get because you can’t ask for better workmanship, value, and work ethics!

    3. I never knew there was such a publication.

    4. Patsy Houston

      I love reading anything Amish. Would really enjoy reading this paper!

    5. colleen

      I enjoyed the article and would love to win this.

    6. sharon c

      Excellent Resource

      I believe tis would be a great “win” The quality workmanship that they deliver is fantastic!

      1. John

        Thank You for your compliment! Your feedback is very valuable to us.

    7. Allison

      That is very neat!! I love seeing all these publications for the Amish.

    8. Cindy L

      I have never heard of this publication before I saw it on your website. Sounds interesting. Thanks for the chance to win.

    9. Gaylon Harden

      Good Source of Information

      I own & operate a boot & shoe repair shop and sell Amish made belts and other leather goods and I find it to be a good source of information of suppliers from within the Amish communities.Keep Up The Good work!

    10. Adair

      Looks like this would be of interest to anyone who lives in a rural setting – all those tools and good ideas!

    11. Naomi Wilson

      It looks very useful. I would be interested in a subscription.

    12. lincolnlady1121

      Someone gave me a copy a year or so ago. Really enjoyed it. Could find where business are in my area and had great information. I would love to receive this magazine.

    13. Carla McEldowney

      Love finding new businesses to visit

      My husband and I like visiting different business so this would be great. Good info and great read. We visit at least 4 times a year if not more and like to go to new places and explore.

    14. Derek J.

      Just PA?

      Does this publication cover the PA plain communities or is it good for other larger communities in OH and IN? I’ve never seen this publication and it looks interesting.

      1. John


        The Plain Communities Business Exchange covers 30 different states. With the current edition at 104 pages we are certain you will find plenty of good information in regards to business matters!

    15. Carol

      Would love a chance to see this publication!

    16. Margaret

      I’ve been thinking of ordering this publication since you mentioned it a few weeks ago. It looks very interesting, and I know it would be worth the investment to order it.

    17. John

      Monthly Theme

      Here are the scheduled monthly themes for the next several months.
      2014 July • Logistics and Packaging
      2014 August • Food Production
      2104 September • Business School
      2014 October • Retail and Wholesale
      2014 November • Machines and Metalworking
      2014 December • Accounting and Investments
      2015 January • Leadership and Management
      2015 February • Innovation

    18. Diane Paulson


      I’m a Silicon Valley girl that would rather be living in Millersburg!

    19. Nandy


      Very neat to see how a print publication can survive and thrive!

    20. Leilah DiMar

      so fun

      What a nice read for the evenings! Thanks for this chance to win!

    21. The running story of the Amish guy who made a backpack trip through Europe has been interesting, but since I dont subscribe I havent caught every story. Maybe this is my opportunity. 🙂

      1. I think you’re referring to Christopher Petrovich. He contributes to JAPAS sometimes too (by the way, there is a new issue just out). I think it’s neat that this business publication also runs something that is not business-related but may very well be of interest to businesspeople. I know you know that some Amish people do visit Europe, often on Anabaptist history tours, and that probably gives them a flavor of what they might find.

    22. Margie Funke

      Amish Bookstores

      Are there Amish Bookstores listed in this publication? I am a Sales Rep for a Christian Publisher and I am always in search of Amish Christian Bookstores. I have found that they like our children’s books and will buy from us once they see what we have to offer. The problem is finding these stores and contact information. I am especially looking for Amish or Mennonite bookstores that sell to the Amish and Mennonite communities.

      1. John


        There is a lot of interaction with bookstores and their surrounding communities. One way to make a connection would be to advertise your products and services in the publication.

    23. Interesting Publication

      Thank you for the article and a chance to win.

    24. Mike Caron


      I think the issue focused on logistics would be especially interesting in the context of Amish entrepreneurial innovations. Plan to subscribe today. Thanks for the introduction.

      1. John


        Thank You for your input. Our goal is to provide a publication that can be used as a guide for the conservative businessmen!

    25. Kristy S

      Sounds like a great read!

      Great article on an Amish publication I’ve not heard of before. Would love to win a subscription!

    26. Dave Nelson


      I would love to read this publication!

    27. Jean Junkin

      Win a subscription

      I got the Budget for several years. This publication would add to my information I got in the Budget. I also met a wonderful Amish friend through the Budget who lives in Millersburg, OH. She and I share a medical condition. We have visited her at her home. What a wonderful couple they are. Going back to see them again next summer.

    28. Donna J

      I would love to win a subscription to this publication! I am planning to visit Amish Country Ohio soon. I love reading this blog as well as any books I can get on the Amish! Thanks for the opportunity and keep featuring things that help us learn about the Amish!!

      1. Thanks Donna! Carl and John at PCBE were great in helping set this up. Carl did a great job with the answers I thought.

    29. Heidi

      Would really enjoy reading this!

    30. Stacy

      If I don’t win, I’ll still subscribe. Looks like a great magazine.

    31. brett

      Yep, count me in. I love to read about the simpler things.

    32. Mike Sparks

      Plain publication

      What an inspiring way to allow business’s to showcase their offering in the simplest, yet effective form of media. I would appreciate a chance to win this subscription.

    33. Kathy Rowe

      This would be a valuable resource to have. Would love to win a subscription to the paper. You have the best info on your blog, Erik!

    34. JAMIE

      Thank you for the opportunity to win a subscription to this paper.

    35. Jeff

      magazine and catalog! :)

      Kind of reminds me of a Lehman’s catalog with more articles! 🙂

    36. wonderful resource

      this looks like a wonderful resource. I hope to win!

    37. Osiah Horst


      I had never heard of this publication before but it sure sounds interesting. I would love to win a subscription since I was thinking of subscribing anyhow.

    38. Maggie

      Plain Communitites Business Exchange

      Very interesting interview and publication. We live in a Old Order Swartzentruber community in Ethridge, TN. There are a couple of ladies (English) who own a quilt shop and send customers out to the locals for produce, furniture, etc. I am not sure if OES would be able to advertise in this publication, but the information is extremely beneficial. I am going to check with a few of my home based business neighbors and see if they know about this publication. Enough said about a great and interesting work.

    39. pick me?

      Great article….thanks for the chance to win.

    40. William Rushby

      Plain Communities Business Exchange

      I am happy to learn about this publication. And I would love to win a free subscription. But if I don’t (which is likely), I’ll look forward to buying an issue when I get to an area where it is sold.

      1. John

        We only Mail.

        We only mail these copies, so in order for you to get them you must subscribe. You can check us out on the web @

    41. Melissa


      Would love a subscription. Looking forward to seeing who ends up winning!

    42. Jerry

      This could be trouble.

      I’ve never knew this existed. I will probably find even more ways interact with the plain folks. There goes my free time.

      Millersburg is not far away and hopefully the ferry will be up and running the next time I go. I also like to hit Crossroads in Gratz every other Friday.

      There is a huge OOM community just across the river and north a little in Synder County. Wonderful people there.

      1. Jerry


        Tomorrow I’ll be heading to “The Big Valley” (Kish Valley). They are having their second annual event for Special Children. Each event I attend has subtle differences. This place has huge wood fired ovens and they make biscuits for breakfast and pizza after 11:00. I’m fasting today so I can tank up on Saturday. The Big Valley has three orders of Amish and one OOM. They each drive different color of buggy. I will also have to visit the rebuilt “Peachey’s” again. I’ll send Eric some pics.

        The next Saturday it’s a similar event at the Buffalo Valley Produce Auction. I’m even consigning some antiques to this sale. Also this place cooks shrimp for sale. I thought that was a bit odd but that’s what it’s all about.

        And no, I am not food obsessed but I would rather eat at these events than go to any local resturant.

        1. Kate

          From a Big Valley Native & Taxi Driver

          Maybe I’ll see you there. 🙂 Just one teeny correction: though there are three colors of buggy tops here in Big Valley there are more than three orders. Some of my Amish taxi-passengers have described 7 orders locally in Big Valley. There are no Old Order Mennonites in Big Valley.

    43. Char

      Please enter me for the drawing.

      I think this will be a most interesting resource.

      Thank you

    44. Jim

      I never knew there was such a publication

      I would LOVE to win this! It would be a great addition to the Budget.

      Either way, I will be keeping an eye out for this locally…Thanks for the chance to win a subscription!

    45. Harold Cheetham

      Nice publication.

      Great to see such a publication. Looks informative and helpful to anyone looking for honest businesses to do business with. would love to win a subscription and thanks for making such a nice offer!

    46. TK

      Great article. Thanks Erik! Looks like a great publication.

    47. Tim

      Great article!

      Thank you Erik for another great article. Very interesting publication.

    48. Shipshewana Indiana

      I would like to be entered to win. Thanks for the opportunity to enter!

    49. Diana

      I want to learn from these communities, especially how they conduct their businesses.

    50. Loretta Shumpert

      Have Not Read This One

      I’ve read at least a copy of most amish publications, I have not heard of this one. So I would love to look over it and see what’s happening in their particular corner of the world.