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9:47am EDT July 22, 2002
Fussy about Mrs. Hargrove

Mike Hargrove may have been dismissed from his high-profile position as manager of the Cleveland Indians, but Akron-based Fussy Cleaners isn’t necessarily going to follow suit by dumping its commercial spokesperson, his wife, Sharon. At least not right away.

For the better part of the last year, Mrs. Hargrove has put her sassy West Texas twang to good use in radio and print ads for the chain, which has 18 locations in four Northeastern Ohio counties. In the radio spots, she can be heard singing the praises of her personal Fussy Cleaners delivery person, who dutifully and cheerily picks up and delivers the family’s laundry to their house (in Strongsville), thus making her life easier in preparing for her husband’s long road trips.

Fussy’s president and founder, John Baraona, met the former First Lady of Cleveland baseball at a meeting, where she spontaneously remarked how much she enjoyed Fussy’s service. That led to the relationship.

He says he’s made no decision yet on whether she’ll remain a factor in the chain’s marketing mix for this next year, now that her husband has been hired by the Baltimore Orioles.

“Our radio spots are going to continue to run until the current schedule is through, and then we’ll go from there. This is long-term, institutional advertising,” says Baraona, who has previously distinguished his company from the competition by running a series of restrained image ads on Cleveland’s public-television station WVIZ. “She doesn’t say, ‘Come on in.’”

And, he hastens to points out, lest one mistakenly conclude that his choice of spokespeople is influenced by his interests as a fan: “Sharon and I never talk about baseball. I’ve never even met Mike.”

So, now you know

According to Baker, Thomsen Associates Inc. — which provides survey reports on median salaries — if you live in Akron and you hold one of the following positions, you should be taking home an annual salary of ...

CEO $143,233

Director of Operations $73,789

Information Systems Manager $49,387

Purchasing Director $42,537

Public Relations Manager $40,095

Personnel Manager $40,019

Executive Assistant $31,497

Since these median salaries are those of entry-level positions, if you’ve been on the job for a while and your paycheck is below par, maybe you should talk to your boss. And if you’re the CEO? Take it up with the board of directors. Source:

Corporate confessions

Successful CEOs don’t just remember their mistakes, they try not to repeat them.

But, as president and CEO of Davey Tree Expert Co. in Hudson — a landscaping firm employing about 250 people in Akron and 6,000 nationwide — Douglas Cowan says it’s hard for a CEO to let employees make their own mistakes.

Cowan says he made one of the biggest mistakes of his career by not firing a senior-level executive sooner.

“He’d been here a long time, he wasn’t doing the job that needed to be done, and we hung onto him too long — to the point where somebody could have come in and made things run a lot better, a lot faster,” Cowan explains. “It also resulted in a loss of morale in the department.”

The point is, Cowan says, “How do you allow the next generation to make mistakes that aren’t going to kill you, and yet will allow them to learn and grow?”