Jones, Dunn & Co. of Hudson has changed its name to Advantium. Founded in 1995, Advantium, assists businesses in the recovery of money lost during everyday business processes. The rebranding focuses on Advantium's shift to develop innovations in post-audit software capabilities and business processes, and in its partnership programs, both key in today's downturned economy.
Akron Glass Tinting
The company, which installs window film on commercial and residential properties, has moved its headquarters from Cuyahoga Falls to Akron. The new facility on Moe Drive will allow it to continue to grow by providing more vehicle, warehouse and office space.
Falls Lumber and Millwork
The Mogadore-based company has acquired Markulis Signs and Wood Works Inc. The company, now a division of Fall Lumber, is headed by Markulis Signs' founder, Joe Markulis.
The Akron-based manufacturer of specialty tire and wheel service tools has acquired the assets of the Dowley Manufacturing Co. and Oldforge Tools. Dowley/Oldforge Tools is a manufacturer of specialty mechanics' tools. The acquisitions will help boost Ken-Tool's manufacturing and marketing capabilities and will add a well-respected product line and brand to the company.
Allen Keith Construction Co.
The company, formerly of Uniontown, has moved to a 30,000-square-foot facility on Greenburg Road in Green. Allen Keith Construction specializes in the restoration of residential, commercial and industrial buildings damaged by fire, water, storm or other disasters.
Equity capital, such as corporate venture capital funds, private venture capital funds, investment banking funds, mezzanine funds and SBICs, can be an alternative to borrowing. However, according to the National Venture Capital Association, Ohio companies attracted just 0.4 percent of the total U.S. venture capital investments in 2001.
Fortunately, angel capital, a less publicized form of equity capital, is readily available in Ohio. Angel capital sources are generally corporate executives seeking high return on investment opportunities within industries in which they have experience and contacts.
How do you put yourself in a position to locate and communicate with anonymous angel investors? Here are the steps:
1. Establish a team of advisers. The benefits of having an experienced team, including a lawyer, a CPA, an industry expert and other professionals who have taken companies through the private investment process before, far outweigh the cost. Experienced advice will save you headaches and greatly increase your chances of success. These advisers are already networking in the same circles with angel investors, who typically locate prospective investment opportunities via those circles.
2. Fine-tune your business plan. It will play a crucial role in the process of gaining this type of equity capital. Involve your advisers in reviewing the plan. Make sure it is brief and includes a "value proposition" (the compelling reason for investing in your venture) that is clear and easily understood by a person outside of your industry.
The plan should focus on sales and marketing issues. Highlight immediate financial projections and cash flow issues that will directly affect the investor's risk.
3. Read "Crossing the Chasm" by Geoffrey Moore, based on the experiences of companies trying to establish their product. It may help you make changes to your marketing strategy and business plan, and help you market your business as a worthy investment.
4. Practice makes perfect. Practice your investment presentation on a tough audience. Advisers and impartial industry-knowledgeable third parties are a good start. Prepare a 20-minute "Conference Room Presentation," that clearly focuses on your value proposition, and a 30-second "Elevator Presentation" that quickly communicates who you are, what you do and why an investor will make money.
You're ready to meet angel investors. Ask for personal introductions and seek out seed capital funds (formal angel groups) that sponsor forums, like the Innovest Conference in Akron May 8-9. Gary Salhany is a manager at Cohen & Co. with experience in equity capital issues. He can be reached at (330) 374-1040.
But long-term care doesn't come cheaply -- average nursing home costs range from $40,000 to $80,000 each year.
"Don't assume Uncle Sam will help, because Medicare doesn't cover most long-term care costs, " says Sandy Stanovic, vice president of The Church Agency Inc. in Akron.
That's why long-term care (LTC) insurance is a popular way to protect yourself against the catastrophic costs of unexpected, prolonged care, Stanovic says.
"Most LTC policies allow for visiting nurses, at-home helpers and companions, assisted living homes and skilled nursing homes," says Stanovic. "You can also design your own policy to designate your daily benefit amount."
While some employers offer these benefits to employees, most of the LTC insurance market is composed of individual products. However, a June 2000 Analysis of Employer Group LTC Insurance (conducted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Disability, Aging and Long-Term Care Policy) reveals that LTC insurance sold through employers has advantages over policies available through the individual market.
For example, a majority of employers offered less restrictive underwriting. Some even guarantee to issue policies by not requiring health information during initial offerings to employees. A majority also offered coverage to spouses, parents and parents-in-law.
In the survey, employers offered a full range of coverage for most recognized LTC services, and the benefits resembled those of individually purchased policies. Most employer plan policies stipulated a waiting period that acts like a deductible, and all offered some type of inflation protection.
"That's so the amount of coverage per day benefit goes up as the policy ages," Stanovic says.
More than half the employers surveyed offered some type of nonforfeiture benefit that provides a level of benefits if coverage stops because of a lapse in premium payments. The most common nonforfeiture benefit is a "reduced paid up benefit" that provides a reduced benefit amount over the same benefit period as defined in the policy.
The bottom line, Stanovic says, is that people don't want to spend down assets prematurely for unexpected, prolonged care. They don't want to cut corners and jeopardize their well-being. And they don't want to burden their families
"This is a way to save your estate from being depleted if you find yourself faced with the long-term care issue," Stanovic says. How to reach: The Church Agency Inc., (330) 733-1800 or www.churchagency.com
An eldercare alternative
More than 16 million U.S. citizens are 75 years old or older. Mirroring a concept established by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, an Akron accounting firm has established an Eldercare practice area that helps older people manage their financial affairs.
"Eldercare enables the elderly to live as independently as possible while also reassuring them and their families that their day-to day financial needs are being met," says Karen J. Randall, a CPA and tax manager at Bruner-Cox LLP.
In addition to providing personal bookkeeping services, a B-C Eldercare consultant can provide advice about insurance, tax and investment matters. How to reach: Bruner-Cox LLP, (330) 376-0100 or www.brunercox.com
Jackson has been drawing up these policies since the mid '90s, but over the last three years, he's seen the need -- and the demand -- for them, rise. He says, policies can enable an employer to investigate past wrongdoing and help curtail current wrongdoing.
"E-mail and obtaining and forwarding objectionable information from the Internet seem to play an ever-increasing role in harassment cases," he says. "That's one of the main reasons employers want to have the ability to monitor or restrict Internet and e-mail use. You need to do that as a company just to attempt to minimize liability to some degree."
A policy outlining allowable e-mail and Internet usage can also help protect trade secrets, he says.
The Stored Communications Act -- the law referred to most frequently regarding e-mail usage -- basically puts a limit on what the owner of the equipment (the employer) can do. It was written to prohibit wiretapping, but has been applied to situations in which an employer has monitored e-mails or Internet usage.
"Essentially, what the courts have said is that the act only prohibits an employer from accessing e-mail which is in the process of being transmitted or before it's been viewed by an employee. Once the employee views it or discards it or puts it into permanent storage, then that Stored Communications Act prohibition no longer applies," Jackson says.
After that point, an employer has a right to access stored or deleted information on a computer.
Jackson offers the following considerations in creating a clear policy on e-mail and Internet usage.
1. Put the policy in writing and put it on your computer system. "Have it in written form and have the employee acknowledge that they've received it," he says. "That removes that issue of, ' I didn't get it.'"
2. Start with a philosophical statement -- because you can't cover every scenario -- that e-mail and Internet access are provided as business tools and should only be used for business-related purposes. Make it clear that since the employer owns the equipment, employees have no reasonable expectation of privacy in their e-mails.
3. Include a statement that the company insists that employees respect copyrights, software licenses, and privacy policies.
4. Make it clear the company has and will monitor e-mail activities.
5. State that employees must refrain from making false or other statements which could expose the company to liability, particularly if their e-mail addresses are the company's e-mail address.
6. Make it clear employees must only access the Internet for business-related purposes, and before they send something from the Internet through the company's e-mail system, it needs to be approved. This is for content and for security reasons.
7. Even from business-related Web sites, employees should not download files they believe are untrustworthy.
8. "You want to caution your employees not to open an e-mail unless they know where it comes from. That's not a guarantee, but you're supposed to know who your source is before you open any attachments," he says.
9. State that e-mail is not to be used to transfer proprietary information or trade secrets to a competitor.
For more information, contact Jackson at (330) 849-6657.
Have you ever stopped to think about what this means? The customer is the lifeline of a business. Besides employees, customers are the greatest asset a company can have and must be treated accordingly.
For many companies, this has been a difficult time. People are waiting it out and treading cautiously through this first quarter, keeping purchases to a minimum. However, some have prepared for a time like this and are in a position to stay on the offensive and press forward.
Those companies took careful measure of their return on each investment, assembled the best management team and are quick to adapt to new circumstances. They instill confidence in their customers.
For customers to continue to make investments, they have to be reassured yours is one of those companies.
Here are four principles customers look for before making an investment with you.
1. Innovation. Are you leading or following? Find new ways to set yourself apart from the competition.
2. Value. Give customers more for their money. When people receive more than they expect -- in goods or services -- they place more perceived value on that transaction, which leads to higher customer satisfaction.
3. Sound leadership. Good leaders make good decisions. Evaluate whether you have the right leadership to keep your company on top.
4. Customer service. Service doesn't end after the transaction is done. If you want to keep customers happy, stay in contact after the purchase. Stay up to date on their needs and find out what they like and dislike about your product or service, which will help you fine-tune it for the next customer.
Even when you think customers are wrong, if you listen carefully, they're probably telling you something about your business that needs correcting.
In the current economic climate, you can't afford to ignore them. If you and your staff remember the customer is always right, you'll never go wrong. Fred Koury (email@example.com) is president and CEO of SBN Magazine.
"One thing I've discovered is that the typical business owner doesn't talk to his advisers unless he has a transaction contemplated," says Wojcik.
Business owners rarely spend the time or the money to just brainstorm with their lawyer or financial planner, he says, and that oversight could be costly.
"They're thinking, 'It might cost me $1,000 to see my accountant,' but out of that meeting you might make $50,000 as a result of some of the changes that took place," he says.
So if Wojcik has described you, he offers these financial planning tips in lieu of an office visit. But he does advise you to set a follow-up appointment with your financial planner.
1.) Make sure your estate plan reflects the law changes effective Jan. 1, 2002. One of the biggest changes in tax law this year for business owners is the unified credit increase that became effective this year.
Prior to Jan. 1, 2002, a business owner could transfer $675,000 worth of business interest in a lifetime to their children without paying an estate tax. As of Jan. 1, that amount rose to $1 million.
"People who had already used up their unified credit of $675,000 got a new $325,000 credit," says Wojcik. "Every business owner needs to visit their estate planning professional to ensure that their estate plan is up to date with the new tax law change."
In addition, the amount that can be transferred as a gift each year, separate from the unified credit, increased from $10,000 to $11,000 per person.
"The primary message is that there has been and will continue to be over the next six or seven years, changes that are already law in estate taxes," says Wojcik, who is a CPA.
2.) Find out how to implement a Section 125 plan at your workplace.
"The 125 Plan is a way to help your employees and help yourself at the same time," Wojcik says.
The plan is set up so that certain expenses, such as health insurance and retirement contributions, are deducted from an employee's paycheck at the pre-tax level. The plan not only saves employees money, but the employer can avoid paying Social Security taxes and workers' compensation premiums on those expenses, too.
"I have noticed that often these plans don't exist. It's a slam dunk that they should," Wojcik says. "It's not new, but many employers don't have them who should."
3.) Make sure your investment mix is consistent with your risk tolerance.
"Last year, a lot of people found out that they didn't have quite the risk tolerance they thought they had, and it caused them to panic," Wojcik says.
He says people should take stock of their investment mix and adjust it according to their risk tolerance. If you don't know what your risk tolerance actually is, ask for help. How to reach: FirstMerit, (330) 384-7304
If you make it past the steel and glass refrigerator stocked full of beer (pop and juice cost a dollar; the beer is free), the second thing you'll notice walking through Malone Advertising's downtown Akron offices is that every piece of furniture is on wheels. From desks to chairs to credenzas, there's not one fixture that's not mobile.
"That's so people can work in teams," explains Malone's President and CEO Fred Bidwell.
The newly renovated office space was designed so people can move their work areas freely throughout the office, depending on who they need to collaborate with that day. To further accommodate this, individual offices don't have doors.
"We were one of the first people to buy this style of furniture," says Bidwell, who took over Malone's helm in 1998.
The rolling furniture and stocked refrigerator are more than gimmicks. The office was clearly designed to spur creativity rather than to impress visitors, and it seems to have worked.
Malone Advertising has had a consistent 20 percent annual growth rate since 1997. Last year, it grew 25 percent, putting it within the top three or four (depending who you ask) ad agencies in Northeast Ohio.
In 2002, Bidwell expects to exceed his growth goal of 16 to 17 percent, and he'll probably do so after last month acquiring Haselow Marketing Communications, a Cleveland-based agency with $13.4 million in annual billings. Capitalized billings of the two agencies are around $60 million, and Malone now employs 88, including the 10 who came from Haselow.
"The acquisition virtually guarantees I'm going to hit (my goal) ... I ought to do a lot better. The smart business person does conservative projections and hopes that they're pleasantly surprised," says Bidwell.
Bidwell is banking on the firm's history, its specialized areas of expertise and the hard work of its people to maintain that growth record.
"People think advertising is sexy, fun, and it is, but a lot of it is putting your nose to the grindstone and doing the work. Just having the work ethic sometimes means a lot," he says.
A rich history
Malone Advertising was founded in 1943 by Norman Malone. Its first client was Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., which remains a client today.
"We think that might by one of the oldest agency-client relationships around, so we're real proud of that," Bidwell says.
Bidwell started working at Malone in 1981 in its creative department. At the time, the company was owned and led by Bain Malone, son of the founder. Bidwell moved up the company ladder to become creative director, and in 1998, assumed majority ownership from Malone, who still acts as an adviser to the company.
Focus on what you do best
One of the keys to the company's ongoing success is that it has focused on an area of marketing many other agencies are just now trying to gain expertise in. Malone has focused on specialized retail marketing since the early '90s, Bidwell says, making it one of the first to do so.
He describes retail marketing as "any form of advertising ... from signs at the Shell station to radio or TV ... that directs people to the retailer and motivates a purchase."
He says more and more agencies are trying to offer this expertise, but "with mixed results. Some are doing a good job and some are not.
"We try to get everything as close to the retailer as possible and as close to the time when somebody might want to buy as possible," he says. "For instance, the TV that we would produce for brands like Kimberly-Clark (a Malone client for 11 years) would always identify the retailer, and there would always would be a reason to go there, like a promotion or something -- an incentive to go there"
For Healthy Choice frozen foods, Malone created a billboard campaign and featured the products on boards located close to the retailers -- identified on the billboards -- that carried them.
"It's the kind of work that really helps to drive sales rather than just plain old brand enhancement," Bidwell says. "The Super Bowl ads you see are all about establishing a brand. What we'll do is come in and say, 'OK, if you're going to end up advertising, you have to make sure that you take care of it on a local basis, either with your local store or locally with your client stores."
Malone was founded nearly 60 years ago as a retail specialist, and point-of-sale marketing evolved out of that area. By not trying to be an expert at everything, the agency has built an impressive client base, including Goodyear, Kimberly-Clark, ConAgra Foods, Meineke and Sherwin-Williams. It works closely with agencies worldwide which have the expertise and provide marketing services to its clients in other areas.
"They (clients) come to us because they know what we do and they are looking specifically for those kinds of services," Bidwell says. "That's why we have such a cool portfolio of brands. If we just tried to be all things to all people, there's no reason why Kimberly-Clark or ConAgra would ever hire us. There are some pretty great agencies in Chicago."
Last month, Malone deviated from its heritage as a consumer retail marketing agency when it acquired Haselow Marketing Communications, a Cleveland-based agency with a strong history of business-to-business marketing. It set up a new division called Malone2, headed by Haselow owner John Haselow, which focuses on business-to-business clients.
Haselow sold his agency to Malone as part of a long-term retirement strategy. He made a two-year commitment to head Malone2, and, along with his expertise, brought a large portfolio of clients to the agency, including Hill PHOENIX, Tyler Elevator Products and Ashland Specialty Chemical.
Haselow plans to expand the Malone2 client base by targeting companies in industries he's worked in.
"One of the first questions you always get is, 'What experience have you had in my industry?'" Haselow says. "You pick your target, you pick it where you've got the experience, you pick it where there's allied situations. So we developed a list that says, 'OK, here's all of our experience, now we'll take a look at the various industries.
"Hill PHOENIX is on the cold side (of supermarket products -- it manufactures refrigerated display cases), so now we'll take a look at the hot side of the supermarket business."
The Haselow acquisition adds a third distinct area to Malone's practice. In 2000, it acquired Zeris Interactive, now its Web subsidiary. As a separate division, Zeris has built Web sites for companies including MTD, Bell Helicopter and Rolled Alloys.
When asked about future growth, Bidwell shies away from revealing acquisition plans.
"The best way to grow is organically," he says.
There might just be something in the beer. How to reach: Malone Advertising, (330) 564-0300
Jones, Dunn & Co. of Hudson has changed its name change to Advantium. Founded in 1995, the company assists businesses in the recovery of money lost during everyday business processes. The rebranding focuses on Advantium's shift to develop innovations in post-audit software capabilities and business processes, and in its partnership programs, both key in today's downturned economy.
Industrial Construction of Brecksville won the Project of the Year Award from ICRI (International Concrete Repair Institute) at the ACI-ICRI fall convention in Dallas for its two-year renovation of the "Horseshoe," The Ohio State University Football Stadium. Ohio Stadium, built in 1922, is known nationally as an historic monument and a football mecca.
Akron Glass Tinting
The company, which installs window film on commercial and residential properties, has moved its headquarters from Cuyahoga Falls to Akron. The new facility, on Moe Drive, will allow it to continue to grow by providing more vehicle, warehouse and office space.
Falls Lumber and Millwork
The Mogadore-based company has acquired Markulis Signs and Wood Works Inc. The company, now a division of Fall Lumber, is headed by Markulis Signs' founder, Joe Markulis.
The Akron-based manufacturer of specialty tire and wheel service tools has acquired the assets of the Dowley Manufacturing Co. and Oldforge Tools. Dowley/Oldforge Tools is a manufacturer of specialty mechanic's tools. The acquisitions will boost Ken-Tool's manufacturing and marketing capabilities and add a well-respected product line and brand.
Allen Keith Construction Co.
The company, formerly of Uniontown, has moved to a 30,000-square-foot facility on Greenburg Road in Green. Allen Keith specializes in the restoration of residential, commercial and industrial buildings damaged by fire, water, storm or other disasters.
Ferry Industries, the world's largest supplier of machinery to the rotational molding industry, has completed the move of two new North American subsidiaries to its expanded headquarters in Stow and opened offices in England for a new subsidiary.
Louanne Kiko has been promoted to senior manager of the firm's Canton office. Kiko has been with Cohen & Co. since 1998 and is a graduate of The University of Akron.
Waikem Auto Group
The Massillon-based dealership has hired Louis Marino as business manager of the George Waikem Ford/Nissan/Daewoo dealership. Waikem is a family owned company and employs 250 in the Stark County area.
Anna M. Capaldi was promoted to supervisor in the tax department. She joined Bruner-Cox in 1999.
Steven M. Young was promoted to supervisor in the general services area. Young joined the firm in 1998.