Whitemyer Advertising Inc. of Zoar has been chosen as the agency of record for JLG Industries Inc. and will be responsible for creating marketing communications programs and materials.
United National Bank & Trust Co. is renovating its 34th Street financial center. In addition to remodeling the interior, the bank will be equipped with a new client service counter and a remote teller system.
Stark County Regional Planning Commission is accepting applications from small businesses for its Micro-Enterprise Loan Program. The program offers loans of up to $10,000 to owners of qualified Stark County businesses. Contact the Stark County Regional Planning Commission at (330) 451-7402 for more information.
The Will-Burt Co., Orville, has named Andrea Russell marketing communications specialist for its Mast and Lighting Division.
Marlite, of Dover, has promoted Don Froelich to senior vice president of finance and administration, Dan Delehanty to vice president of sales for North America and Steve Davis to vice president of marketing.
Jill Lifer has been named assistant treasurer of Johnson Brothers Rubber Co. of West Salem. Lifer joined the company in 1996 as a staff accountant.
Thomas H. Yu has been named vice president of engineering at The Hoover Co. of North Canton. He will oversee the department that researches, designs and tests products.
Loree Beeching has been promoted to assistant branch manager of Cambridge Home Health Care's Canton office.
To submit notices of business expansions, additions and moves, and management-level transitions, write: Editor, SBN Magazine, 84 W. Bowery Street, Akron, OH 44308; or fax: (330) 535-6491
Whether or not the predictions we're hearing are accurate, the economy is in for some kind of a change. If you read everything you get your hands on, you might believe that we're in for a recession soon.
My peers in the journalism community are poising their pens to write about what they deem inevitable. A turn in the economy is great fodder for business journalism.
Most of the business owners I talk to don't seem as concerned. They're not hoarding their cash. They're not laying off employees. In fact, the growth-oriented businesses SBN Magazine has been covering the last several months are talking about the investments they plan to make -- or are now making --- to prepare for long-term growth.
Why is this? For one, when the U.S. economy is facing a predicted recession, money gets cheaper. That means many businesses take the opportunity to invest in new technology and equipment at lower rates. But even at those costs, if a company is not poised for growth, why would it invest in that direction?
The answer is, at least from the company owners I have spoken to the last couple of months, that they indeed are poised for growth -- even (and especially) if their competitors aren't.
Whether or not you believe that President Bush's tax-relief package or Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan's rate cuts will spur the economy, economists will tell you that monetary policy actions take at least 18 months to yield results. While these actions can have immediate effects in terms of convincing businesses and consumers that better times are around the corner, they can't affect the current economy.
Savvy business owners know that this forecast is not a bad omen. They see it as an opportunity to jump ahead. They know that they must build upon the policies put in place today to reap the benefits when the economic landscape evens out a year or year and a half from now. There will be some fallout, as we've witnessed in the dot-com industry of late, but these savvy business owners say, better our competitors than us.
Now is not the time to sit still. Better times are ahead, but we won't all be here to enjoy them. On a large scale, you can learn from companies such as Apple, which is preparing to boost its position in the marketplace by adding extras, such as standard CDs, DVDs and increased power levels, to its computer products.
On a local level, you can learn from our cover story this month about a company increasing its capacity so that it can expand its product line.
These companies are staying within their areas of expertise, but expanding their capacities. Their strategies share a common philosophy. They are positioning themselves for growth by sticking to what they know best.
It may not be the time to take on a big risk, but as they'll tell you, it's certainly not the time to be stagnant. Connie Swenson (email@example.com) is editor of SBN Magazine.
The Tallmadge Chamber of Commerce has elected to its board as trustees John Bokas, Billow Funeral Homes and Crematory; Tony Fanizzi, Anthony Fanizzi Realty; Larry Basler, CITGO Petroleum Inc.; Karen Fuller, Alpha Graphics; Heather Menendez, PAK Computers; and Don Rainey of American Express Financial Services.
Dale A. Ruther, partner at Bober, Markey, Fedorovich & Co. of Akron, has been elected to serve as a member of the Polaris International National Construction Industry Committee for 2001.
Joe W. Woodell has joined Brouse McDowell of Akron as its director of human resources.
Digital Day of Fairlawn has hired Cindy Nelson as director of marketing and Lisa Bachman as business development executive.
Cross Town Traffic of Fairlawn has added Howard Zoss as CEO.
Mark E. Krohn has been promoted to partner of the Akron law firm Brennan, Manna & Diamond LLC.
Kristen Simpson has been promoted to vice president of public relations for The Urda Co. Inc., an Akron-based marketing, advertising and public relations firm. Diane Kell has been hired as director and Sarah Snyder as administrative assistant.
Hitchcock Fleming and Associates Inc. of Akron has promoted Pat Kunklier to vice president, public relations, and Eric Hartline and Rene McCann to ergotechnologists.
Gigi Doney has been hired as administrative assistant for Akron's BCG Systems, the systems affiliate of Brockman, Coats, Gedelian and Co.
Robert R. Renner, manager of Brockman, Coats, Gedelian and Co., has been appointed to serve on the Ohio Society of Certified Public Accountants Committee.
Bob Cohen, an Akron executive, will host a nationally syndicated talk show that will draw upon his professional background. Listen to him at www.renaissanceradio.com Mondays at 1 p.m.
ShipLogix in Hudson has added Mary O'Connell, Merrill Watts and Harrison Baker as directors of business development.
Kent State University has appointed Ronald H. Stolle as the 18th Goodyear Executive Professor in Business Administration.
The Home Builders Association, which serves Portage and Summit counties, has elected as its 2001 officers President Fred Ayers, F.G. Ayers Inc.; Vice President John Galehouse, Galehouse Construction; and Secretary Treasurer Steve Conant, Steve's Best Built Homes. The Executive Committee consists of Fred Zumpano, Fred Zumpano Design and Construction, and Patrick Williams, WCCV Floor Coverings. The Portage County representative is Bob Cady.
System Optics has added Kirsten Baughman-Harvey, director of marketing, to its system optics and cosmetic and surgical arts center.
Joyce Beck has been promoted to team coordinator of the Intensive Treatment Services program at Portage Path Behavioral Health.
Buckingham, Doolittle & Burroughs LLP, Akron, has appointed Joseph H. Scarcella to director of finance and Lance A. Lanier to its Litigation and Creditors Rights/Bankruptcy Practice Group.
Urology Inc. announced the retirement of Dr. Wesley H. Van Fossen, who served the Akron area for 31 years. Ahmad Z. Vafa has been appointed to the staff of doctors.
To submit notices of business expansions, additions and moves and management-level transitions, write: Editor, SBN Magazine, 84 W. Bowery St., Akron, OH 44308; or fax: (330) 535-6491
The Akron Regional Development Board recently added an interactive feature to its Web site, which offers its 2000 members the option of communicating with each other through the site.
The impact of this feature has been most significant for the ARDB staff, which attributes a 50 percent decline in the management of inquiry calls from members, students and educators to the new feature. This has liberated staff time for the information management and research tasks that drive value to members.
"It's gotten us a lot more efficient in house," says Rebecca Guzy Woodford, ARDB's senior director of research and communications.
Without changing ARDB's mission, the Web has become an efficient information distribution method.
"We're still in the same information business," notes Woodford. "We don't see e-commerce as a change in our mission -- just more added value."
The ARDB is planning to add more value to the site by creating a B2B e-commerce portal, now in the formation phases of development. With the ability to attract, recruit and promote business growth in the region, Woodford projects the organization's future Web strategies will allow it to "be more focused and provide more services."
U.S. Office Products' (which bought out locally-based Costigan's) venture into the e-landscape began in 1993 with direct dial modem-to-modem hook-ups. Although Web sales increased more than 30 percent last year, many of the company's customers still rely on fax and phone transactions, largely because of customer access, bandwidth and adaptability to change issues.
Today, its Web catalog boasts more than 25,000 items, fulfilled within 24 hours. Even at the current level of customer acceptance, "our Web-based business has changed the organization dramatically," says Richard Costigan, vice president of business development. Customer service representatives inputting orders "now have the ability to provide true customer service."
This aligns well with the fact that most customer service reps prefer interaction and solution development with customers rather than the restricted venue of key punching and input processing.
The challenge has been to help customers embrace the new media. According to Costigan, "as much as we promote (our e-commerce) with incentives, training and promotions, change is hard for people."
U.S. Office Products' e-sales picture is bright nevertheless. E-commerce has fed sales growth, punctuated by the fact that last year, all of the company's new customers were Web-based.
Advanced Elastomer Systems, an Akron manufacturer of thermoplastic elastomers, is eagerly instituting the launch of its e-commerce strategies. According to Margaret Mattix, AES' senior vice president of E-Business and Strategic Alliances, AES sees its Web site as "a very effective tool for increasing reach and supplying information in a cost-effective way."
Even with a healthy 12- to 18-month sales cycle, e-business payoffs are already being calculated.
As Mattix indicates, "There's a cross-section of employees who are very capable, excited and supportive, and if you can tap into that, they can help middle managers who may see this as a threat to their need to be in control."
As AES management has learned, the transition to e-business and e-commerce requires more adaptability than control. Employees who bring a personal Web enthusiasm and savvy are utilized to help demystify fears and energize managers.
AES has discovered that a commitment to e-business is a commitment to eliminating fear in the organization -- fear of the loss of control, not being in mastery over new technologies and the hyped fear of job loss. At AES, this effort has been facilitated by the fact that the company began the process with a strong ERP system.
So far, customer reactions have been a mix of excitement and wait-and-see reluctance. Because commerce is a relationship, moving the customer forward has become as important as moving the organization forward. To this end, AES has smartly collaborated with 10 "competitor" raw material suppliers to form ElastomerSolutions.com, an industry-specific marketplace for light e-commerce and information exchange.
As far as e-business impacting the AES core mission, Mattix isn't worried. As she suggests, embracing e-business and e-commerce "doesn't really change who we are -- only how we do it."
From the technology expert side, Akron-based Interactive Media Group provides empathy and cross-industry Web design experience. According to IMG President Andrew Holland, many companies launch an ambitious or cautious courting of e-business with considerations of supply cost management. This is especially beneficial for companies selling late-cycle commodities that compete for fractions of market share.
Other objectives getting equal play are focused on using e-business to support field sales and to provide multiple points of access.
The biggest challenge for any successful e-business plan is making sure all of the company's disciplines are, in Holland's words, "getting their silo 'Towers of Babel' together." Marketing, engineering and operations must be equal partners in e-strategies, since at the end of the day, each significantly impacts and is impacted by business mediated by the Web.
Holland has found that although e-business doesn't dismantle the corporate mission, it does call for a significant reinvention of how business is done -- in many cases, with commensurate rewards from an equally ready marketplace.
"Companies must understand that creating an electronic channel has an advantage in terms of bricks-and-mortar and traditional sales force investments," Holland says. "Each of the elements of service must be examined in the light of the products and services that are being delivered. If they are not existent in the traditional organization, they must be created. If they are currently in place, they must be analyzed and effectively translated into the new electronic channel."
Without hyped reliance on feckless forecasts, it seems clear that businesses are already moving productively and intelligently into a venue that shows evolutionary promise.
Though no two companies may move in the same way or at the same pace, the next economies will be significantly energized by the next technologies and innovative applications used by growing enterprises.
Jack Ricchiuto is a management consultant and author.
But many supervisors still dictate with that mindset. Look closer, says Susan Aldrich, and you'll see high employee turnover and low morale in such workplaces.
"You can't think in terms of 'I'm the supervisor and you're the lowly employee' because today's workers won't respond well to that kind of authority," says Aldrich, president of Susan Aldrich & Associates, a management consultancy in Brunswick.
"Employees don't want to be told what to do. They want to be part of a team," she says. "So you have to get away from the word 'supervisor' and think of yourself as a coach and a mentor, someone who can guide a team but also stand aside and let them perform."
Aldrich offers the following advice to help you become a better supervisor, uh, coach.
Leverage talents and abilities. Ask employees what tasks they most and least enjoy. Watch for areas in which they excel. Provide training to enhance their capabilities. Then, assign duties based on whose strengths will best accomplish specific projects.
"If someone volunteers for certain duties and you give them the chance to accomplish those objectives, they're going to be motivated to do it -- and they'll probably do it well," Aldrich explains.
Peter Goumas applied Aldrich's advice in his supervisory role at BWX Technologies Inc., a Barberton fabricating firm.
"I started listening to the employees to find out their interests, and when I moved them more toward the areas that made the most of their talents, that had a positive effect on the entire department," he says.
Delegate the right way. You can't manage effectively if you're too busy doing the work, says Aldrich. So delegate, then stand aside.
"There's nothing worse than assigning a task and then micromanaging it," says Aldrich. "Let employees bring their own ideas to a project, and give them the authority to make decisions to accomplish it."
As president of Professional Employment Services, a placement service with offices in Akron, Canton, Barberton, Hudson and Streetsboro, Tia Ramlow insists that her managers delegate so they can focus on what's most important.
"Many managers think that, to get something done, they must do it themselves. But that keeps them from getting out in the community to bring in the recruits that increase sales," Ramlow says. "They have to learn to delegate administrative tasks and hold the staff accountable to get those things done."
Give credit where it's due. If you give only negative feedback and forget to say "thank you," you'll always get poor performance, Aldrich says. Try this: Keep a list of all of your employees, and beside each name, write something positive to praise that person for each day.
When Doug Haring started doing this, he was amazed at the results.
"Once I started thanking each employee for something they'd done, they all started asking if they could help me with other work. That showed they really want to be part of a team," says Haring, a department manager at Advanced Health Systems in Akron. "I also became more confident as a manger, and less tense about assigning tasks." How to reach: Susan Aldrich & Associates, (330) 220-4576
A funny thing happened on the way to Morocco. Actually, it happened at a palace resort on Zanzibar, an island off the coast of Tanzania.
Hugh McLaughlin, a physician at Cuyahoga Falls Family Practice, was having breakfast with his vacation travel companion, the director of an Akron-based international tire manufacturer.
"We were surprised when the president of Tanzania walked into the room, but when he walked up to our table and sat down, we were stunned," says McLaughlin.
Audaciously, the Tanzanian ruler told the tire manufacturer he wanted "a little Christmas present."
"He told my friend to give him $12,000 if he wanted to keep his factory running in that country," McLaughlin exclaims.
"It was amazing. President Clinton had just given this president $12 million two days before, but I guess that wasn't enough, because here he was, trying to squeeze every other American businessman he heard was in town," McLaughlin laughs.
Who wants to be a millionaire?
If your business provides computer training, what better way to conduct your job interview process than to have candidates demonstrate their teaching talents?
During its recent search for a qualified instructor, Fairlawn-based New Horizons Computer Learning Centers Inc. had 15 prospects make five-minute presentations to a class audience.
"The topic they chose didn't matter, because we were looking for classroom presence, voice projection, speaking skills and eye contact," says Mark Koenig, New Horizons' general manager.
Among the applicants -- including retired college professors, former teachers, sales reps and other professionals -- one presenter demonstrated how to make a pressman's hat.
"There we all were, making paper hats in class," Koenig laughs.
Another candidate with a sales, computer and musical background explained how to make a million dollars by uploading personally composed music onto MP3.com.
In the end, the choice was simple, says Koenig.
"What helped us decide was the applicant's strong presentation, audience rapport and, of course, computer strengths," he says.
After all, everyone wants to be a millionaire.
You must be so proud
Speaking of highly rated game shows, you might be proud because your son or daughter is a doctor, a lawyer, a biochemist -- whatever. But Doug Cowan has something bigger to boast about.
"My son is the creator and executive producer of 'Temptation Island,'" crows Cowan, chairman and CEO of The Dave Tree Expert Co. in Kent.
Cowan says his son, Chris Cowan, got his start after studying film production at Ohio University, and launching Rocket Science Laboratories, a film production company in Hollywood, Calif.
"Before this show, he and his partner already had an impressive resume, even winning an Emmy in 1998 for a TV special they did. But this is their first series, and the numbers are just incredible," says Cowan.
Asked how he feels about his son's creative role in such a highly rated production, Cowan chuckles, "Highly rated, or highly racy?"
Way cool business tool
Think cool. Think high-tech. Think again.
Many executives rely on cutting-edge tools, such as PDAs, PalmPilots and Handsprings. But Ray Gehani prefers something that seems archaic, considering his profession.
"For 20 years, I've been researching, practicing and teaching technology management, yet my favorite business tool is Post-It Pads made by 3M," says Gehani, assistant professor of management and international business at the University of Akron's College of Business Administration.
"Post-It Notes are perfect for capturing, storing, retrieving and developing my intuitive insights that pop up at odd times and places. They're my best knowledge management system for the 21st century, better than any electronic gadgetry on the market," Gehani coos. "And 3M didn't pay me to say all these wonderful things about their simple product, which is based on a sophisticated surface coating polymer technology."
Interestingly, as part of the university's Technology Management Group, Gehani specializes in polymer technology.
People infringe on the copyrights of others every day.
Often, the copyright owner never discovers the infringement. However, exposing the copyright infringement of software programs such as Microsoft Word is becoming more common. And the whistle-blowers are often unhappy, former employees.
In my practice, I've noticed more companies are calling me after receiving a letter from a software owner claiming that certain copies of his or her program had been copied. The company will first ask, "Am I in trouble?" and then ask, "How did they find out?"
The answer to the first question is usually, "Yes, you are in trouble." The answer to the second is generally that an unhappy existing or former employee has contacted the owner of the software program and blown the whistle on the company.
Under United States copyright law, a judge in a copyright infringement lawsuit is authorized to award up to $150,000 in monetary damages to the copyright owner for each copyright willfully infringed. If a company has 25 copies of Microsoft Word and only 20 are authorized, it would be potentially liable for $750,000, or $150,000 for each unauthorized copy of Word.
Without question, it is much less expensive to purchase authorized copies of software than it is to defend yourself in a copyright infringement lawsuit and pay the monetary damages awardable under the U.S. copyright laws.
Why, then, do people continue to copy software programs? First, they don't want to pay for the software. While this is an understandable motivation, in my experience, it is often not the most common reason. The more common reason is that, due to disorganization and administrative oversight, the company inadvertently has more versions of software running on its computers than it has licenses.
One way to avoid this potentially expensive problem is to periodically audit your software. While some companies prefer to do this themselves, others hire outside companies to perform the audits.
The Business Software Alliance periodically offers a truce, or an amnesty program, to companies in different regions of the country for a month at a time. Last month, a truce was offered to companies in Northeast Ohio. To be eligible, the entity must not have previously received notice that the BSA or its members have received a report of infringement and are investigating it.
Details about the truce, and when the next amnesty period is planned for your area, are available at the BSA Web site at www.bsatruce.com or by calling (877) 536-4272.
Whether an entity is eligible for the truce or not, getting legal with computer software is just good business. Roger Emerson is a shareholder in the intellectual property law firm of Emerson & Associates. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
S.R. Arner & Co. of Canton has acquired Canton-based Spectra Resources, a human resources and executive recruiting firm.
DeHOFF Development of Green has announced its plans for the new Gateway Corporate Park at the Akron-Canton Airport interchange. The development will include a Hilton Garden Inn Hotel, restaurants and an office building complex. Groundbreaking is set for spring 2001.
Canton-based Puritech Recycling Systems Inc., an industrial on-site oil recycler, has purchased the assets of Detroit-based Fluid Recycling Services' Midwest recycling operations.
A Mail Boxes Etc. has opened in North Canton.
The 2000 Ameritech Partnership Award of $10,000 was given to Walsh University. The university will use it to create an interactive educational resource Web site for students and faculty in the education division, and for teachers in local school systems.
Viking Glass Station, a branch of The Glass Station, has relocated to East Maple Street in North Canton.
It's tough enough to run a company offering a product or service you know all about. Imagine being forced to run a business you know nothing about -- and you've never worked a day in your life.
Patte Streb woke up to that nightmare the day after her husband, Raymond Bellrose, died in January 1979, leaving her as president and CEO of United Floral Supply Inc. in Canton.
"Nine days after he bought this business from the previous owner, he dropped dead," says Strebb, a Denver native who moved here with Bellrose in August 1978.
After the funeral, she went into the office and found financial papers piled on the desk. Confounded, she tossed them in the trash. When the accountant called to ask if she'd reviewed the P&L, she asked, "What's that?"
"There was a long silence on the other end of the phone, and I knew I was in trouble," she says. "I had four sons to support, so I had to learn this business."
Strebb took college business courses and looked to industry mentors for guidance. Remarkably, she's since tripled the company in size.
In addition to profits from advance orders, Strebb offered merchandise selections to retailers right out of "showrooms on wheels" -- refrigerated stock trucks she purchased for route service. In 1991, she expanded by constructing an 18,000-square-foot facility in Jackson Township, increasing space by 40 percent. Five years ago, she further saturated the market with direct order phone sales.
Formerly a wholesaler supplying Canton and Massillon flower shops, United Floral now covers a 100-mile radius encompassing Akron, Cleveland, Zanesville, Cambridge, Ashland and out to Wellsburg, W.Va. With 23 employees and annual sales topping $3 million, Strebb claims 20 percent of the market she serves.
If three of her sons hadn't eventually joined the company, Strebb says she would have closed the doors. (She later remarried and was widowed yet again.) Terry Bellrose, 43, is vice president; Randy, 42, is treasurer; and Doug, 39, is general manager.
"When we were boys, Dad let us work in other floral businesses he owned, so we knew the basics," says Doug Bellrose, who came on board after college and work experience with a Chicago floral supply house. "But Mom was always a homemaker and she didn't know the first thing about business -- or about flowers."
He laughs, recalling a silk flower arrangement she once tried to water.
Today, Strebb can peruse a P&L statement at a glance, and knows how to compete in a challenging industry.
"It's tougher now because larger corporations like Lowe's are threatening the mom-and-pop shops, and a lot of floral importers are bypassing wholesalers to go direct," she says.
Fortunately, the family's strong ties with top broker-growers in Florida and California afford United Floral a few advantages.
"When retailers buy from an importer, they have to wait 24 hours for delivery, but we can get it to them in an hour," Doug Bellrose explains. "After 20 years, the brokers know the value of our business and our demands for quality, so they send us only fresh product, and our retailers know we get shipments three times a week."
In retrospect, Strebb says it's a miracle she actually grew the business -- and confides that the company she thought would surely die has become her reason for living. How to reach: United Floral Supply Inc., (330) 966-3500