Few challenges are thornier for family business owners than preparing for a transition of ownership. It’s a time for facing tough choices about the company’s future leaders and how the new owner will finance the transfer.
“About 70 percent of family-owned businesses will change hands over the next 10 years as the baby boomers retire,” says Krista Dobronos, senior vice president and Akron market leader for Westfield Bank. “Unfortunately, too many business owners have not planned sufficiently for this transition.”
At a minimum, this planning process should begin three years before the targeted ownership shift, Dobronos says, though five years in advance is ideal.
Smart Business spoke with Dobronos about transitioning family business ownership.
What elements should be included when planning an ownership transition?
About half of all family businesses don’t have any kind of succession plan on paper. The starting point should always be identifying who will take ownership of the business, whether it’s a key employee, a family member or an outsider.
A business owner should also consider to what degree they want to remain involved in the business. Do they want to remain an investor in the business or get out entirely? They also need to consider the best option for financing the ownership transition.
Exit planning isn’t only about the owner’s retirement. Ownership transitions can also be triggered by divorce, disability, an extended illness or unforeseen death.
What are some of the best financial options for family business ownership shifts?
It all depends on the company, its industry and those who will take over the company.
Some buyers may wish to pursue a traditional bank loan for the company, which is usually a seven-year term loan using a 10-year repayment schedule. The buyer of the business can also take out an individual loan that is guaranteed by the company.
When there is a gap between the purchase price of the company and the value of collateral to back a bank loan, the buyer may need to secure gap financing. Mezzanine financing, for example, is becoming increasingly popular, and usually takes the form of subordinated debt or an equity investment like preferred stock. The seller can also provide financing referred to as a ‘seller note’ for the buyer to cover that gap over a period of time.
What about transitioning ownership to a company’s employees?
An employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) can successfully finance an owner’s exit strategy, but it requires a longer planning process than other financing options.
An ESOP is a way that an owner can transition shares of the business to the company’s employees at a lower after-tax cost, providing employees an opportunity to build wealth.
How can business owners take emotion out of the equation when planning?
It’s important to make a decision that’s based not on emotions but on the sustainability of the business long term.
This is one of the reasons it’s so important to have trusted advisers you can turn to. Sit down with your attorney, banker, accountant, financial adviser and other professionals you trust to help you develop a sound perpetuation plan.
What do banks look for when they consider backing such an ownership transition?
With regard to the company, banks want to ensure there’s adequate cash flow to service debt related to the ownership change. Banks look at the industry the company operates in and how market forces might impact it in the future. In the new owner, banks want to see a track record of experience with that company or industry.
When considering supporting an ownership transition, banks spend time in the company’s facility or office to see them in action, observe the approach to staffing and understand their clients. This interview process is critically important for both sides. It’s like a courtship — the business owner should feel as comfortable with their banker as he or she is with them. ●
Krista Dobronos is senior vice president and Akron market leader at Westfield Bank. Reach her at (330) 668-6420 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Insights Banking & Finance is brought to you by Westfield Bank
Expansion of the Medicaid program in Ohio was approved by the state Controlling Board because there wasn’t enough support to get it passed in the legislature. But there’s no economic reason for anyone in Ohio to oppose the expansion, says William F. Hutter, CEO of Sequent.
“The battle about Medicaid expansion was based on principle; it was about certain forces resisting an additional expansion of federal government in Ohio. And that somehow expanding Medicaid to the less affluent population in Ohio was an endorsement of health care reform,” Hutter says. “That is one view. I started taking a view that Medicaid expansion in Ohio is good for business and good for the population.”
Smart Business spoke with Hutter about how the Medicaid expansion helps businesses and what companies are doing in response to the program.
Why is Medicaid expansion good for businesses?
Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), if an individual meets the criteria of having an income of less than 138 percent of the federal poverty level they can apply for Medicaid benefits.
Consider industries like hospitality and retail, which deal with a lower-cost, transient employee population. They’ve taken a position that they have employees they would like to move to full time, but have health care to deal with under ACA and the benefits cost too much. One of the advantages for that group of people, and those industries, in Ohio is that they might qualify under Medicaid.
If employees are covered under Medicaid, they are exempted from the full-time equivalent (FTE) count of businesses. That means they aren’t included in determining whether a business has 50 FTE employees and would be subject to penalties starting in 2015 if they do not provide health insurance coverage for employees. Normally, hours of all part-time employees are totaled to compute how many FTE employees are added to the number of full-time employees to see if a business hits 50.
Having more employees exempted from the FTE calculation could allow businesses to hire more people and get them qualified for Medicaid. Employees get medical coverage, the business gets exempted from the ACA and health care providers benefit.
How do health care providers benefit?
Providers complain that they don’t make money on Medicaid patients because reimbursement rates are lower. However, hospitals and urgent care centers do not turn people away; they provide medical care 90 percent of the time whether or not someone can pay. What’s better, to be paid zero for providing $500 worth of medical services, or to be paid $400? From a patient standpoint, while Medicaid might not cover all costs, it takes some pressure off because there is reimbursement from the federal government.
Have businesses developed strategies in response to the Medicaid expansion?
Absolutely. They are trying to get employees signed up for coverage. We’ve been working with clients on helping them with the Office of Healthcare Transformation, which built the Medicaid application portal in Ohio. Director Greg Moody has done a good job creating a portal that makes it easy for people to sign up.
There have been comments that only 30 percent of the people who register get qualified, but it’s a financial qualification — it’s not arbitrary. It’s a set amount based on income being up to 138 percent of the poverty level.
This is one of the more worthy social benefits that helps keep people healthy and is in-line with the intent of the ACA. It will be good for small and midsize businesses and keep more people employed. Yes, it’s not in high-wage positions, but it is an improvement and will move more money into Ohio and create economic flow.
Employers are starting to figure this out. They want to do what’s best for employees, the company and shareholders. For the current circumstances and environment, Medicaid expansion is good for Ohio. ●
Insights HR Outsourcing is brought to you by Sequent
American Roll Form Products
Phil Misch, president
(440) 352-0753 | www.arfpcorp.com
Lower labor costs elsewhere has made it difficult for companies with domestic manufacturing operations to compete on price. In order to remain competitive, American Roll Form Products President Phil Misch and his team decided to focus on value and find ways to cut costs along the supply chain.
By evaluating assembly drawings, parts and mating components, ARF can identify areas where material can be reduced and assembly costs cut, with potential savings up to 40 percent.
Working with Chamberlain, which sells garage door openers to many top retailers, ARF redesigned a structural bar section that performed better while saving $550,000 a year in materials.
Using prototype facilities to make samples of new sections and perform load tests, ARF designed a part made of new high-strength material that was stronger and 34 percent lighter, yielding an annual freight savings of $120,000.
Chamberlain also cut costs by working with ARF to develop reusable, “green” containers to ship products. The ability to recycle packaging materials reduced packing costs and eliminated disposal expenses.
ARF also has been a leader in innovating products for the solar market, designing piles used in solar panels that have reduced material and freight costs.
To better serve the solar and West Coast markets, ARF opened a 53,200-square-foot manufacturing facility in Las Vegas in the spring of 2013.
Even in today’s price competitive manufacturing environment, value outweighs cost. By embracing creativity and innovation, ARF found a way to create an advantage over its competition. ●
EYE Lighting International
Tom Salpietra, president and COO
(888) 350-7001 | www.eyelighting.com
EYE Lighting International, lead by President and COO Tom Salpietra, lets innovation guide its path to competition in the global marketplace. Realizing an increased demand for energy saving lighting solutions, EYE Lighting developed more energy efficient luminaires and lamps.
The company’s kiaroLED outdoor LED luminaire line of products has been recognized for its efficiency in controlling backlight, uplight and glare. In 2013, EYE Lighting launched its LEDioc brand of LED upgrade lamps, designed to allow for easy retrofit from an HID to LED light source in post-top and pendant luminaires.
To further strengthen its position in the LED market, EYE Lighting acquired all assets related to LED luminaire products from Aphos Lighting in November 2012.
Growth and innovation have led to increased production, including the July 2012 unveiling of a new design and assembly facility in Mentor. The 2,000-square-foot space was specifically designed for LED storage and assembly. The state-of-the-art cell manufacturing room features anti-static floors and fully digital workstations that have adjustable screens, which display interactive assembly instructions and a bill of materials.
EYE Lighting employees are cross-trained to provide flexibility — employees can be moved along different areas of the assembly line as additional support is needed. Employees may work in several parts of the manufacturing process in the same day.
The company supports engineering and business students through scholarships at Lakeland Community College and Cleveland Technical Societies Council. Employees participate in lighting association activities, including those of the Illuminating Engineering Society. ●
Fabrication Group LLC
Patricia B. Setlock, president
(216) 251-1125 | www.fabricationgroup.com
When the recession dried up sources for capital to fund commercial projects, the Fabrication Group went in another direction and developed a noncommercial product line that would provide balance to the seasonal highs and lows of making custom commercial products made of architectural metals.
The company, led by President Patricia B. Setlock, worked with a premise that the new product should be manufactured economically in the United States — due to import difficulties related to cost and size — and be easy to install.
Setlock, a graduate of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business program in Cleveland, included the launch of the Bright Covers patio line as part of a growth plan developed through the class. Initial processes were outsourced, enabling the Fabrication Group to unveil the new line of products in February 2013.
While the product was being developed, the company’s custom commercial area had rebounded and revenues doubled between 2011 and 2012. The patio cover line and continued growth of custom architectural work led to another doubling of revenue.
This growth period was supported by the company’s ability to improve processes and efficiency through lean manufacturing techniques, an efficient system for inventory management and vendor-financed consignment agreements that eliminated a need for outside capital or loans.
Plans call for two operations to be brought in-house in 2015, which will require additional capital and space. These operations will serve both the commercial and noncommercial lines and bringing them in-house is expected to provide excellent ROI and better quality control. ●
Air Enterprises LLC
Martin Ellis, CEO
(330) 794-9770 | www.airenterprises.com
An enterprising solution
Air Enterprises meets the challenges of climate control as demands increase
The climate in the company data center needs to be controlled for optimum performance of computer servers. More heat is generated all the time and rack density keeps increasing over the years.
That’s just one area that Air Enterprises LLC focuses on to deliver air handling solutions.
For more than 45 years, the company has been a leader in delivering best-in-class air handling solutions to the automotive, medical facilities and high technology, pharmaceutical and manufacturing industries.
Air Enterprises recently joined forces with KyotoCooling, of the Netherlands, acquiring the exclusive license to market, sell, manufacture and commission KyotoCooling technology in North America. This allows Air Enterprises to combine the patented “green” cooling technology of KyotoCooling and the leading energy recovery wheel from Thermotech Enterprises to offer the most energy-efficient data center cooling solutions.
This patented technology is 70 to 85 percent more efficient than traditional data center conditioning solutions.
Air Enterprises, under CEO Martin Ellis, also installed a new air handling system on the Cleveland Clinic’s bone marrow transplant and leukemia floor.
This features a custom filtering system for the entire floor, which was previously handled by individual equipment in each patient’s room.
Air Enterprises’ proprietary SiteBilt process enables clients across the globe to benefit from the most sustainable and energy efficient air handling solutions in the market, without geographical limitations. They are factory manufactured and assembled on-site of aluminum components, which do not rust. ●
Eric Hauge, vice president, general manager
(216) 429-6000 | www.usa.arcelormittal.com
Filling the gap
How ArcelorMittal Cleveland is developing its workforce of the future
The U.S. steel industry is facing a critical workforce challenge: Thousands of skilled workers are needed over the next decade and beyond to fill vacancies created by the retiring baby boomer generation and a declining interest in manufacturing careers. ArcelorMittal Cleveland, an integrated steel manufacturer, is projecting it will lose up to 34 highly skilled maintenance technicians a year for the next five years to attrition and retirements.
To address this problem, the company, under Vice President and General Manager Eric Hauge, has partnered with the United Steelworkers Local 979 and local community colleges to develop Steelworker for the Future, a 2 ½-year program in which individuals attend classes at a participating college and gain hands-on training at ArcelorMittal while working to achieve a two-year degree and a sustainable career within the manufacturing sector.
The aim is to facilitate knowledge transfer from experienced employees to new hires, promote manufacturing career paths, overcome misperceptions about manufacturing jobs, balance the development of prospective workers’ real-world technical competencies and their job-readiness skills, and distinguish ArcelorMittal as an employer of choice.
Steelworker for the Future launched with Lakeland Community College in November 2011 and later with Cuyahoga Community College in May 2012. The company has also partnered with Max Hayes High School and other local youth-targeted organizations to introduce the opportunity to high school students.
Approximately 60 students are enrolled in the program and 17 have participated in paid internships at ArcelorMittal’s Cleveland plant. The first graduates are expected this summer. ●
Mike (Left) and Dave Catanzarite, co-CEOs
(866) 432-7423 |www.darice.com
Crafting a plan
How the Catanzarite brothers keep raising the bar at Darice
Mike and Dave Catanzarite have faced plenty of challenges in helping Darice Inc. stay on top of its competition. The nationwide recession forced many consumers to trim spending and that could have been bad news for Darice, which launched in 1954, becoming a leader in the wholesale craft industry.
But the diligence that Mike and Dave, the company’s co-CEOs, bring to every aspect of their work keeps the company going and keeps customers coming back.
Darice opened with one retail store and now has more than 80,000 product SKUs that are supplied to retailers of all sizes. They range from mom-and-pop stores to big-box retailers like Wal-Mart and Target to craft stores such as Jo-Ann and Michael’s. In addition to its wholesale business, Darice also successfully runs the 28-store regional craft chain Pat Catan’s.
To stay on top, Darice has expanded its China operation with 5,000 square feet of work space as well as 21 employees dedicated to merchandising, sourcing and factory compliance, finance, creative design, direct import operation and quality control/product compliance.
Sourcing is another key component in the success of Darice. Each new supplier goes through a qualifying process to ensure that it can provide the quality that the company and its customers have come to expect. Once on board, suppliers are also subject to a scorecard review that includes inspection and testing failures, delivery and capacity.
The scores are then used to determine whether a supplier is worthy of more business. ●
Grant Cleveland, founder and CEO
(800) 306-4168 | www.dunecraft.com
How DuneCraft gets customers what they want and goes to great lengths to do so
Grant Cleveland isn’t just trying to sell his customers a product at DuneCraft Inc. The company’s founder and CEO wants to sell them the right product, and he’s willing to go to great lengths to make sure that happens.
“Cleveland and the DuneCraft crew will actually make a product suggestion list, in advance of a meeting, to help focus the customer on key items that are correct for their consumer,” says Jay Jacobson, a sales consultant for University Games/Playroom Entertainment. “This helps the buyers make decisions faster and shows the keen interest that DuneCraft has in making sure that the customer is well-taken-care-of.”
DuneCraft has become the leader in themed terrariums and a contender in sprouting kits and science novelties. The company is in thousands of mass, online and catalog retailers, and Cleveland is proud that all of its items and subcomponents are made in the United States.
DuneCraft has developed a proprietary software system, called Steel Stage, that integrates all levels of its manufacturing into an automated system that organizes, stores, tracks and displays information. Steel Stage is divided into 14 different modules and allows managers to see progress and reports in real time, as well as track inventory and quality control and many other aspects of manufacturing.
The company also uses a ticketing system to ensure that team members complete what is expected of them to allow everyone to move ahead to the next level of productivity. The result is a decrease in cost and a much higher level of productivity. ●
Roger Sustar, president
(440) 951-5200 | www.fredon.com
Lighting a spark
How Fredon Corp. gets high school students excited about manufacturing
Two Northeast Ohio teachers are grateful for the strong commitment that Roger Sustar and Fredon Corp. have continually demonstrated for getting young people excited about manufacturing.
It began in 1992 with the Cannons of Fredon, an innovative apprenticeship and training program for local high school and vocational school students. The program teaches students about modern machining and metalworking and about the viability of a career in manufacturing.
The learning continues to this day with the RoboBot competition that Fredon launched in the fall of 2010. RoboBot teams are formed and compete against each other in sanctioned local competitions. They each have the chance to move on to compete against schools from across the United States.
“Fredon has also worked with each team to provide manufacturing support and capacity with their industry partners,” says Yvonne Schiffer, a career and technical education teacher at Cleveland Heights High School. “I have students who used the opportunity to gain employment opportunities on their way to college and some on their way to employment. They have provided each team with manufacturing mentors who have changed the way our students view manufacturing and engineering.”
Cleveland Heights High has participated in this competition for three years and has been recognized for sportsmanship, design documentation and design presentation. Beaumont School has taken part with an all-female team and won the Ohio competition last year. Both Schiffer and fellow teacher Gretchen Santo from Beaumont cite numerous examples of the difference that Sustar and Fredon are making in Northeast Ohio in preparing students for success. ●
Dmitry Shashkov, CEO of the fabricated products business unit
(216) 692-3990 | www.hcstarck.com
H.C. Starck embraces sustainability at its Ohio fabricated products facility
German-based H.C. Starck’s Euclid facility, the company’s fabricated products business unit, continues its development as a leading manufacturer of specialty metal products for the aerospace, nuclear, military and medical industries. One of 12 manufacturing facilities in the global company, the Northeast Ohio facility is led by Dmitry Shashkov, CEO of the fabricated products business unit.
The year 2013 began with a yearlong contraction project. As the company streamlined physical operations, the Ohio facility still had to maintain past improvements in production efficiency, product quality and on-time delivery.
At the same time, H.C. Starck expanded its green efforts through an aggressive sustainability program. The business unit’s goal was to have a net reduction in energy usage of 2 percent, and by the end of October 2013, energy per kilogram of material produced dropped 5 percent, well below the targeted goal.
The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency recently commended the company for recycling 100 percent of its former hazardous wastes.
The effort is ongoing. H.C. Starck is working to develop a comprehensive waste-recycling program that will take 98 percent of all wastes generated. In addition, chemical monitors on wastewater are providing a $30,000 per year cost savings in reduced chemical usage.
The sustainability efforts also focus on employee health, and the types of products manufactured and their end-of-life use.
With tight margins, the company continues to improve management, manufacturing efficiency and quality, while maintaining steady employment. In 2013, H.C. Starck implemented the Total Production Maintenance program to increase production while increasing employee morale and job satisfaction. ●
Magnus International Group Inc.
Eric Lofquist, co-owner, president and CEO
(216) 592-8355 | www.magnusig.com
Growth from sustainability
Magnus International Group turned renewable materials into a sustainable business
In 2007, on an idle 25-acre plant in Painesville Township, Eric Lofquist and Scott Forster started Magnus International Group Inc., a private holding company that soon established three companies in quick succession after converting the plant into a sustainable products manufacturing facility. The companies produced industrial and consumer waxes, alternative liquid fuels, could recover oil and water emulsions, and could make carbon energy for blast furnaces.
The holding company transitioned out of the petroleum industry and shifted its focus to transforming reusable food industry co-products into renewable materials.
To this end, Magnus constructed a one-of-a-kind prill tower facility that produces, packages and distributes custom animal feed products for the cattle, swine and equine industries, and processes food industry fats, oils and greases that would otherwise end up in landfills.
Its success led to the construction of a second prill tower that was built in 2013 to manufacture exclusive varieties of solid animal feed ingredients.
Sustainability is also important for company operations. For example, its Hardy Animal Nutrition business saves on natural resources by utilizing lake water and running on methane gas recovered from the Lake County landfill.
The company says its manufacturing technology is unprecedented, and it has developed products and processes that are an industry first. The once idle plant now employs 50 people, and the administrative offices employ another eight. Magnus reports revenue growth of 2,700 percent between 2007 and 2011 and it serves clients such as Cargill Inc., Perdue Farms and Land O’Lakes Inc. They also do smaller-scale projects that address individual customer requirements. ●
Barry Cik, owner
(800) 917-3342 | www.naturepedic.com
Building a better bed
The Cik family is turning Naturepedic into a household name
Ten years ago, Barry Cik, owner of Naturepedic, didn’t want to put his first-born grandchild on any available crib mattress. His mission to create a better crib mattress that incorporated improvements in structural, chemical, allergenic and fire safety, as well as comfort for the baby, led to the creation of a multimillion-dollar company.
Barry and his sons Jeffrey and Jason built Naturepedic from their garage into a 50,000-square-foot production facility. They also helped change governmental regulations and established GREENGUARD third party certifications for mattresses.
From a single crib mattress, Naturepedic’s line grew to include 11 models of crib mattresses along with infant pads and accessories, such as sheets and changing pads. The company soon expanded into making certified organic cotton mattresses for older children, and in 2012, developed an adult line.
As the company continues to expand its lines of mattresses, it has added employees, bought more equipment and completely revamped its production line to handle increasing demands. The company has added a 9,000-square-foot warehouse, opened another warehouse for product distribution in California and is in the process of opening a West Coast showroom in Los Angeles.
Naturepedic has grown from zero to more than $10 million in annual sales within a decade, and its products are being sold at more than 600 stores nationally and internationally. The company also donates infant pads to more than 100 hospital neonatal units and gives products to the community, organizational and educational groups. ●
Portage Precision Polymers Inc.
Doug Hartley, President and CEO
(330) 296-6327 | www.pppmixing.com
A recipe for success
Portage Precision Polymers mixes up record sales growth by adhering to core values
Founders Doug and Rick Hartley started Portage Precision Polymers Inc. in Ravenna in 2002 with just six employees, producing and selling 1 million pounds of rubber compounds in a single month.
The company, which develops and produces custom mix elastomer compounds for manufacturing and fabricating businesses, has continued to evolve and grow under the leadership of President and CEO Doug Hartley. The company now has 70 employees.
Custom elastomer compounding is a highly technical, complex industry, but Portage Precision Polymers has found a recipe for success by adhering to its core values — safety, quality, integrity and customer satisfaction.
The Ravenna facility’s 179,000-square-foot rubber and elastomeric compound manufacturing operation can mix 60 million pounds annually. It also has a full-service research laboratory and testing department with an on-site team of development chemists.
In 2013, Portage Precision Polymers celebrated the opening of its new silicone custom-mixing facility in Mogadore. Silicone is a rapidly growing niche market, as customers use it for its sustainable and economic benefits. The state-of-the-art 17,680-square-foot facility has 20 million pounds of annual mixing capacity with a full-service research laboratory.
The company is the only compound mixer able to blend both organic and silicone compounds.
In fact, many of Portage Precision Polymers’ customers use the company’s sustainable materials to obtain their desired Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification. ●
Rapid Prototype and Manufacturing LLC (rp+m)
Matt Hlavin, CEO
(440) 930-2015 | www.rpplusm.com
Paving the way
Rapid Prototype and Manufacturing LLC is at the forefront of 3-D printing
Within the past five years, 3-D printing has become in high demand as a technology that can save time and money. As a result, Rapid Prototype and Manufacturing LLC was founded with CEO Matt Hlavin at the helm.
In traditional manufacturing, a company must purchase tooling that costs thousands of dollars and takes weeks to build prior to sampling a part. If anything was wrong with the tooling, it would need to be shipped out and repaired; again, costing more money and time.
But with rp+m’s technology, customers can create prototypes within hours rather than weeks. Ultimately, this allows manufacturers’ product development time to drop dramatically and permits more time for making additional products.
In addition, rp+m gives customers the ability to 3-D print end-use parts, rather than just prototypes. This is having an impact in the aerospace, industrial, medical, automotive and consumer products industries.
rp+m also has received several grants to help develop new 3-D printing materials for various markets.
It expanded into metals in 2013 and is the first 3-D printing company to be printing tungsten. rp+m is able to additively manufacture (3-D print) metal parts with complex shapes within hours.
Due to high machine usage, rp+m recently purchased two additional 3-D printers to keep up with demand, and the facility runs 24/7. The employment growth rate is more than 600 percent, and the company expects to add even more jobs in 2014. ●
2014 Evolution of Manufacturing
The ever-changing field of manufacturing
The manufacturing industry is changing fast. As the pace of evolution quickens, it is creating new demands for improved operations, new technologies, products or services. As Craig McAtee, executive director at the National Coalition of Advanced Technology Centers, says, “Technology and innovation runs through all sectors, including energy, defense, aerospace, automotive, physics, the arts and biomedical — and the manufacturers are at the forefront of all of it, again.
“America was built on ‘making stuff.’ Over the last three to four decades, we have been losing our edge in the global manufacturing world to several other countries. It’s really all about innovation/product ideation that seeds manufacturing (making stuff) and entrepreneurism. Additive manufacturing is fueling innovation once again in the U.S., real time.”
As the needs in manufacturing continue to evolve, Cuyahoga Community College is evolving too. Cuyahoga Community College’s 50,000-square-foot Advanced Technology Training Center features high-bay labs, multipurpose training areas and an energy-efficient and naturally lighted environment for learning. The ATTC links workforce education to the latest technology, and combined with the college’s Unified Technologies Center, it is the largest technology training complex in Ohio. The ATTC provides students with education, hands-on training and employment preparation skills for well-paying jobs.
Cuyahoga Community College is committed to advancing manufacturing training within Northeast Ohio by creating partnerships with employers to meet the needs for workers with advanced training. Many of the programs offered take between 10 and 18 weeks to complete, providing employers with a constant feeder system of job-ready candidates for the in-demand high-tech industry. Among the programs offered are advanced metals joining, the Advanced Technology Academy, alternative energy and sustainability, the Cisco Technical Training Institute, construction engineering and construction technology, information technology, mechatronics, CNC machine operator, bioscience, as well as robotics through the Youth Technology Academy.
I thank you for your support of the 2014 Evolution of Manufacturing event. In addition, I would like to congratulate our 2014 honorees for their contributions to the ever-changing field of manufacturing. You are the future of manufacturing within Northeast Ohio and your innovations will drive the evolution of manufacturing into the future. ●
Susan Muha is the executive vice president of the Workforce and Economic Development Division for Cuyahoga Community College.
2014 Evolution of Manufacturing Awards
Air Enterprises LLC
Martin Ellis, CEO
Eric Hauge, vice president & general manager
Mike and Dave Catanzarite, co-CEOs
Grant Cleveland, founder and CEO
Roger Sustar, president
Dmitry Shaskhov, CEO of the Fabricated Products Business Unit
Magnus International Group Inc.
Eric Lofquist, co-owner, president and CEO
Barry Cik, owner
Portage Precision Polymers Inc.
Doug Hartley, president and CEO
Rapid Prototype and Manufacturing LLC (rp+m)
Matt Hlavin, CEO
Read about this year's winners by clicking here.
American Roll Form Products
Phil Misch, president
EYE Lighting International
Tom Salpietra, president and CEO
Fabrication Group LLC
Patricia B. Setlock, president
Read about this year's honorable mentions by clicking here.
When asked what the key to remaining relevant in business for an extended period of time was, a prominent CEO once quipped to me, “Planned obsolescence.”
His company followed a strict rule: Every 18 months, it would introduce a new product and make an existing one obsolete. This, he explained, drove innovation and filled the product pipeline.
This same “constant reinvention” philosophy permeates many of the world’s best companies. They understand that to stay competitive you must develop corporate cultures imbued with innovation and the will to try new things.
Apple, for example, regularly introduces new versions of its iPhone, iPad and iPod, thereby ensuring that it keeps revenue streams fresh and products in demand. And rarely a day goes by that you don’t get a notification that an app on your smartphone or tablet has an update available.
You may have noticed with our January 2014 edition that we are in the midst of our own little reinvention. While we remain true to our core commitment of bringing you the best insight, advice and strategy from regional business leaders, we have introduced several new initiatives.
First, we added more contributing columnists to the publication and our website. Some of these new voices will appear quarterly; others two to three times per year.
In case you missed them, last month we introduced five of these regular contributors: Mal Mixon, chairman of Invacare Corp.; Terry Davis, president and CEO of Our Lady of the Wayside; JJ DiGeronimo, president of Tech Savvy Women; Stewart Kohl, co-CEO of The Riverside Co.; and Cheryl McMillan, Northeast Ohio Vistage chair.
This month, we feature another group, including Umberto Fedeli, president and CEO of The Fedeli Group; Bill Kitson, president and CEO of United Way of Greater Cleveland; Todd Goldstein, CEO and managing partner of LaunchHouse; and William Holdipp Jr. of the Consortium of African American Organizations.
And, in future months, you’ll hear from such regional leaders as Case Western Reserve University President Barbara Snyder, Congresswoman Marcia Fudge, JumpStart’s Jerry Frantz, Fairmount Minerals’ Chuck Fowler and Hospice of the Western Reserve’s William E. Finn.
Two new features
Second, we’re excited to introduce two new features — Uniquely Cleveland and Building Stronger Communities.
Uniquely Cleveland provides a behind-the-scenes look at something that’s, well, uniquely Cleveland. This month’s article, for example, looks at some of the items housed at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. In upcoming editions, we’ll peel back the curtain to discuss the business side of Walnut Wednesdays and PlayhouseSquare, and even explore what goes into pulling off the annual Taste of Tremont.
Our new Building Stronger Communities feature spotlights nonprofit organization leaders who are working hand-in-hand with the business community to strengthen the regions where we all live and work.
We’re also adding more “first-person” features, penned by the entrepreneurs who are shaping Northeast Ohio’s business community. The article written by restaurateur Sam McNulty about why he’s investing in Ohio City, which ran in January’s print edition, is just one example.
Finally, we’re launching a new signature event for 2014 — the Corporate College Smart 50. It will recognize the leaders of the 50 “smartest” organizations in Northeast Ohio, so don’t miss your opportunity for nominations.
All of these new initiatives are designed to bring this region’s business community just a little closer together. As always, we welcome your suggestions for story ideas, people to interview, voices to include and topics to cover. After all, this is your publication. ●
Dustin S. Klein is publisher and vice president of operations for Smart Business. Reach him at email@example.com or (440) 250-7026
Through the recent uncertain economic times, we have all had to adjust our budgets and personal spending choices. As a marketer, I can say that the mentality that has been applied to personal spending has also been present in the executive suite. Businesses are making calculated choices as they budget for marketing expenditures.
We have advised many clients to take advantage of today’s business climate by trying to steal market share from competition that has become passive and is relying on past success to fuel future business projections. In fact, now is a great time to recharge your marketing!
The world has changed and the economy is starting to move forward. Many of your competitors are still resting on their heels reluctant to change their marketing much, due to a lack of funding or understanding.
It’s time to take advantage of your competition’s inability to change. Try something new that connects with your customers in a relevant, meaningful way. Get your customers involved by asking them to write reviews, send photos or videos, attend live events and advocate for your brand.
The reality is that the price to participate and implement some of these common marketing tactics is lower than it has been for years, while the cost of doing nothing will leave you further behind.
Major players like Google have shifted to a “mobile first” strategy as smartphone sales have outpaced desktop computers. Therefore,. digital marketing needs to consider responsive designs that automatically adjust sizes to fit on various mobile and tablet screens.
And it’s not just the technology that has changed … consumers are rejecting the outdated transactional marketing (i.e., buy now!) in favor of a more relational form of marketing.
Traditional marketing consisted of developing messages that “spoke at” consumers. Successful marketers are embracing technologies that “speak with” customers and engage them in a way that gets them talking about a company or brand. This word-of-mouth approach is built on an understanding of what your customers are willing to do to advocate for your brand in social media.
Today you can easily engage your customers because the marketing landscape has changed dramatically over the past few years with the introduction of new technologies and media options not available or proven two or three years ago.
Social, mobile, and local tools are now available to help you connect with potential customers in a more dynamic way targeting them by geography and behaviors. Most importantly, these new tools allow you to measure your message’s effectiveness and gain feedback instantly.
Adopt a strategy
That’s why every business needs a social media strategy to take advantage of new opportunities and manage reputation management risks. Even if you don’t plan to participate in social media, you at least need to actively monitor your industry and what people are saying about your brand.
In the past, digital and online may have been a small part of the budget, but not today. It should be considered first and become heavily integrated with everything you are implementing.
The economy, marketing technology options, and consumer mindsets are better than ever.
Now is the time to explore and see how these new media options can factor into your existing marketing efforts.
Kevin Kinsley is vice president/client development for Hitchcock, Fleming and Associates Inc. The son of a custom home builder and an avid DIYer, Kinsely likes to build things. So he understands the relevance of a strong foundation when building solid client strategy, campaigns and programs. Contact him at (888) 376-7601 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
One of the most popular books on business transformation today is “Patients Come Second.” It is aimed at health care providers and espouses the premise that you cannot take outstanding care of your patients without first attending to the needs of your employees.
This is a radical concept in health care as the patient had always been considered the nucleus for organizations. What is becoming clear is the tenet that without a workforce at its peak in performance, providing an exceptional patient experience is quite difficult.
It takes the three “E’s”
Ensuring your workforce is healthy and well so that every associate can perform at his or her peak level means more than just providing a brochure rack with health information in the lunchroom. It takes engagement, education and empowerment.
At Akron General, we have engaged our employees by offering a comprehensive Be Well program that provides easy-to-follow steps including wellness screening and health risk assessment. Employees have their body mass index measured and are screened for high blood pressure, cholesterol, nicotine use and other indicators.
Through the use of an internal website, employees can access the latest educational materials on an entire range of medical conditions that offer encouragement and advice on getting and staying healthy. The website keeps track of their progress and tallies point toward their wellness goal.
Finally, employees are empowered through incentives to actively participate in activities that will lead to their better health. By completing simple steps and collecting the required points, employees save real dollars off their organization-sponsored health insurance premiums.
Over the course of several years, enhancements to our Be Well employee wellness program have helped to increase participation in many of the free and low-cost resources offered to employees including an on-site fitness center, on-site massage, wellness lectures and the annual wellness screening. Comparative data from 2011 and 2012 shows aggregate improvement in certain categories for employees who have participated.
Fully embrace the program
Some say programs like this are unsustainable. That is true only if an organization does not fully embrace a wellness culture starting at the top of the leadership chart. Everyone, from the CEO down, needs to walk the talk.
It takes engagement, education and empowerment, and a major commitment from the organization to embrace its employees and create a culture of wellness.
Our country is experiencing a sea change in health care, a major transformation away from the concept of focusing on sick care to preventing illness through wellness initiatives. Since 1997, Akron General has led this charge. Now, the nation is noticing.
The first step in creating a culture of wellness and ensuring a healthy workforce is by making a commitment. We are committed to working with employers to help them create a culture of wellness and prevent sickness and injury within their organizations.
While much has been debated about the cost-benefit ratio of wellness programs, it is important to remember the words of American essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson who is quoted as saying, “The first wealth is health.”
After all, isn’t good leadership all about doing what’s right?
Dr. Thomas “Tim” L. Stover, MBA, is president and CEO of Akron General Health System. Contact Dr. Stover at email@example.com. For more information, visit www.akrongeneral.org
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) offerings have come a long way in a short time. One of the primary advances has been the evolution from fully hosted VoIP systems to VoIP solutions that can be managed internally.
Such a setup is ideal for IT managers or telecom managers in organizations that are moving to VoIP platforms, says Alex Desberg, sales and marketing director at Ohio.net.
“The VoIP provider provides the environment — so it is secure, stable and packed with feature-rich options — while the day-to-day details can be managed by a client’s telecom professional,” he says.
Smart Business spoke with Desberg about software developments, integration and how to properly evaluate VoIP systems.
What’s in telecommunications that is improving the business phone service model?
The VoIP software industry is creating a feature-enhanced experience not only for the end user, or the people using the phones, but also the people who manage the phone systems. By utilizing cloud-based platforms that are virtually housed, businesses can manage their own systems internally. The phones are deployed wherever they are needed, regardless of geography.
The end-user experience is enhanced because the same phone service is accessible even if there are multiple locations. For example, a company might have five locations spread across the country, each with a different phone system. From a corporate standpoint, training employees on phone systems becomes difficult, and managing the system so customers have a uniform experience is even more challenging. With VoIP, all the phones are on the same platform, look the same, work the same and the end user’s experience is identical.
From a traditional phone system perspective, whenever you want new features, you have to buy new hardware and pay someone to upgrade the system for you. However, with a cloud-based system, it’s as simple as having your VoIP provider make a configuration change. For example, you can tell the provider to add call recording to your system remotely and then select which users on the system need it.
What are the benefits of working with a VoIP provider that can offer multiple platforms?
Traditionally, when you buy a phone system, you’re buying from a provider that represents a specific brand or type of offering. So, in most cases, you need to bring in three or four different service providers in order to evaluate different versions. However, a versatile VoIP provider should have the ability to offer multiple service packages with completely different software, hardware and deployment options. This is ideal for companies that are growing and want to evaluate different options from a single source.
What are some of the new trends in VoIP?
VoIP providers are now implementing software for phone systems designed to seamlessly integrate with CRM and other customer management software. Typically screen-pop technology and data queries can be launched from a VoIP phone system.
Finally, smartphone and app integration are becoming increasingly popular. For example, employees can have apps on their smartphones, which allows them to toggle back and forth between their cell phone and office phone. Basically, the smartphone serves as an extension of the office system.
What is the best way to determine an appropriate VoIP solution?
It’s important to perform a thorough evaluation of what’s out there. VoIP is portable, so have a provider come to your office and give a demonstration. It’s important to see it function in your environment and test various features to ensure the system is a good fit. Any VoIP provider that is offering a modern platform should be able to bring its system directly to you for an evaluation from the comfort of your own office with no charges incurred. ●
Alex Desberg is sales and marketing director at Ohio.net. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Insights Telecommunications is brought to you by Ohio.net