SBN Staff

Wednesday, 11 May 2011 14:59

Market recovery

Job growth, increases in manufacturing and boosts in consumer spending and confidence have economists and average Americans alike predicting a better 2011 as the United States moves out of the recession. The economy is transitioning into an expansion phase, which begins when the economy gets past the old high-water mark for GDP, says Bob Leggett, Chief Investment Officer for FirstMerit Wealth Management Services. He believes the phase began early in the first quarter of 2011.

“Capital spending is strong, exports are growing and inventories have not yet been fully replenished,” says Leggett, who has more than 25 years of investment management experience. “All of this means production must continue to grow. While the unemployment rate remains unacceptably high, net job growth is still well established. The depression in housing and overall consumer deleveraging does not mean consumers won’t spend anything at all.”

Leggett provides further insight into market recovery and what investors can expect in 2011.

Do you think the possibility of a ‘double-dip’ recession is valid?

Double-dips are extremely unlikely to happen. The only double-dip recession we’ve seen in modern times was in the early ’80s, and that was done intentionally by Paul Volcker, the chairman of the Fed at the time, because he was working to break the back of inflation. Also, there are always soft patches or mid-cycle slowdowns like we experienced in 2010. When an economy comes out of a recession, it usually runs at a pretty hot pace for a few quarters, maybe even a few years, and then it invariably slows down. We feel there is plenty of pent-up demand out there to allow the economy to re-accelerate as we’ve seen over the past few quarters and we expect the expansion to continue through 2011.

What are the best opportunities for investment right now?

We are big believers in being diversified. That means you want to own a mix of assets — some stocks, some bonds. You want to have different types of stocks, like large U.S. stocks or big cap and small cap. You want to have international stocks. You want to be diversified across the market capitalization ranges and the economic sectors that companies represent. People should always start by thinking through their investment objectives. We work with our clients to create an investment plan and agree on how we’re going to allocate that client’s dollars. And right now, we tell clients they should be fully invested and not have much in the way of cash reserves.

What advice would you give to investors who are still worried about the market?

There’s never a perfect time to make a large change in your investment strategy. If someone has a very small investment in the stock market and could really afford to have a much larger one, we would say they should have a plan for gradually reinvesting. People on the sidelines should be dipping their toes into the water. If an investor tries to perfectly time entering the market, quite often he or she will never enter or will get frustrated and make a big move. And that’s how you end up buying high and selling low instead of the opposite.

Do you see interest rates rising in 2011?

We don’t see interest rates rising significantly in the foreseeable future. Interest rates are still quite low, particularly at the very short end of the yield curve, the shortest maturities, because that’s where the Federal Reserve can force them to stay low. The rest of the yield curve isn’t quite so much in the Federal Reserve’s control, so it’s going to be driven by inflation expectations and expectations as to whether the Fed is going to make any changes at the short end. The yield curve currently is quite steep by historic measures, and the Fed has clearly stated they are not going to increase the short end of rates any time soon. As for the longer maturities, I’d say investors have been back and forth on how concerned they are looking out a year or so in inflation. But overall, the inflation numbers remain very low. As long as unemployment is high, wage growth is going to be hard to come by, and that means that inflation should stay pretty low.

What is the state of the bond market?

Bond interest rates have risen recently. People have been really concerned about tax-exempt bonds. They’re worried the budget problems many states and municipalities have will lead to major difficulties in paying off the bonds when they come due. We think that’s a significantly overstated fear. We tell investors who are worried about tax-exempt bonds to stick to high quality. On the taxable side, we still think investment-grade corporate bonds are pretty good values relative to U.S. Treasury bonds. The Federal Reserve’s Quantitative Easing 2 plan is supposed to be pulling those rates down but hasn’t been successful thus far. We are concerned the Fed may be overly successful at their goal of bumping inflation rates up a little.

What are your thoughts on the housing market?

Housing is certainly extremely weak. It would be difficult for housing starts and permits to get much worse than they are. The problem is there’s no real reason to expect housing construction to pick up a lot either because there’s a huge inventory of homes either for sale or in foreclosure. The housing construction industry is a very small part of GDP now because housing is in a depression.

The question that needs to be answered on housing is: What happens to house prices overall? Prices are down very significantly from where they were. It’s really hard to see, with the improvement in the economy and very little new supply coming, how housing could get worse. Housing construction and increased housing prices would help consumer net worth and consumer confidence. The problem is it’s hard to see either of those areas improving much looking into 2011.

What markets can consumers expect to recover more quickly?

Business equipment spending has been good, and we think it will continue. On an overall basis, consumer goods and services are growing and consumer confidence will be helped by better job growth. The economy has entered a positive feedback loop in which business spending feeds consumer spending, which, in turn, supports stronger business spending.

Reach Bob Leggett at 1-888-384-6388 or robert.leggett@firstmerit.com.

Friday, 20 December 2002 09:06

Looking ahead

Out with the old, in with the new ... at least that's how the saying goes.

Cliché or not, New Year's allows us to draw a line in the invisible sand and start anew. However, the same doesn't always hold true for businesses. Sure, Dec. 31 is the end of the fiscal year for some companies. But for others, Jan. 1 means little beyond personal property tax implications for inventory in a warehouse or assessing the value of a corporate office building or two for the previous year's tax filings.

Whatever the significance, January is the month when most people put their lives and businesses into perspective, looking back at the year that was and gazing ahead at the year that will be. SBN looked at nearly 100 companies across Northeast Ohio and our editorial staff discussed what happened to them in 2002 and prognosticated what we believe 2003 holds for each of them.

For some, such as TRW, the answer was obvious: It's outta here. For others, like Penton Media and OM Group, the future is not so certain.

Beyond the headlines, a number of businesses experienced exciting events in 2002. Flashline secured more than $11 million in venture capital during a terrible economic market. Forest City Enterprises pitched in to help rebuild New York City in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. There was a changing of the guard at RPM Inc. from father to son. And International Steel Group was formed from the ashes of LTV Steel.

Admittedly, it's easy to sit on the sidelines and predict what will happen to these and the other firms we've whittled from our list to tell you about. But what's more important about this group of companies is that we believe that each will experience something significant this year.

SBN plans to follow many of these companies' stories in the months ahead, so keep your eyes on the magazine and our Web site (www.sbnonline.com) during 2003 for greater insight into why they are this year's companies to watch.

Monday, 22 July 2002 10:05

Charity spotlight

Harvest for Hunger 1998 raised more than 3 million pounds of food in this year's campaign, an increase of 10 percent over last year. Nearly 270 companies in Cuyahoga County participated in food drives to support the cause, said Co-chair Gifford M. Brown, site manager, Ford Motor Co. The food will be distributed to 150 hunger centers throughout Northeast Ohio.

Cleveland Cavaliers General Manager Wayne Embry was named the honorary chairman of the Arthritis Foundation's 50th Anniversary campaign. The foundation has also retained Bomba, O'Neil & Co. as public relations consultants. With UAB Productions and Wyse Advertising, the Foundation has created a series of 14 10-second television public service announcements which will illustrate the issues surrounding arthritis. For information about 50th anniversary events call (216) 831-7000 ext. 114.

The Women Business Owners Fund, the foundation arm of the National Association of Women Business Owners, Cleveland chapter, presented academic scholarships to Lakesha A. Walton and Rebecca Sue Veverka and the Jack Bares Educational Award to Cheryl Grassi, owner of We'll Remember Co.

The board of trustees for the Saint Ann Foundation announced the award of $737,920 in grants ranging from $4,500 to $50,000 to 40 agencies and organizations throughout Northeastern Ohio.

United Way volunteers from the small business community gave time and effort to paint, plant and fix up a local United Way agency. More than 30 volunteers and their families spent an afternoon sprucing up the facilities of Camp Cheerful, the summer day camp for children with disabilities. The camp is run by the Achievement Centers for Children.

Hunger relief organizations in Cleveland have received over $80,000 raised during the 11th Annual Taste of the Nation food and wine tasting benefit hosted by the Greater Cleveland Restaurant Association.

Monday, 22 July 2002 10:01

In brief

At the November Corporate Club breakfast, local business execs learned that one of Northeastern Ohio's highest-profile growth companies, Steris Corp., grew from the slenderest of roots.

Speaking on Election Day, Steris President Bill Sanford invited the audience to vote for candidates who support economic development, in order that Steris' success might be duplicated. The Mentor-based company, which manufacturers sterilization products for the health care market, got off the ground with a modest grant from the State of Ohio. "So from a $43,000 grant, we now have a company worth $2 billion," he said.

The company began just 11 years ago with five employees, and now has 4,500 people around the world. It went public in 1992, and last year purchased an older-line company several times its size, a strategy which initially met with hostility from Wall Street but which soon proved prescient.

Despite its size and success, Sanford says he battles institutional inertia by instilling his mantra about resisting the urge to operate like a large company. "We want to continue to act small, to grow big. If we continue to act like a bunch of small companies rather than one big one, we'll be successful," he said.

SBN is a sponsor of the Corporate Club breakfast. Because of the holidays,there is no December program. The next breakfast, featuring David Burner, chairman and CEO of BFGoodrich Co., will be Jan. 12. The events are held on Tuesday mornings, with breakfast at 7 a.m. and the speaker at 7:30. Cost is $25 per person.

Other dates and speakers:

  • Feb. 9, 1999: Michael Salkind, president, Ohio Aerospace Institute.

  • March 9, 1999: Robert Rawson, partner-in-charge, Jones, Day, Reavis & Pogue.

For more information and reservations, call Executive Caterers at Landerhaven, at (440) 449-0700.


Missing out on Newman's own

Though the Newman family has been doggedly successful in retailing through three generations, one might say it was a little less aggressive on the marketing front.

Reluctant to name-drop, even when it came to family members, then-owner Jim Newman personally settled on some artful language many years ago to describe the history of the company, then called Newman-Adler, as it related to his famous matinee-idol nephew, Paul. "...when Joe Newman started the store that was to become the great Newman-Stern Co. in 1915, Sam Brown was its vice president. Arthur Newman, the youngest sibling, was secretary-treasurer and, later on, father of a certain blue-eyed Hollywood star."

With Jim's three children, Chris, Gary and Donna, now overseeing what is known as Newman Outfitters, that reticence is still apparent. But it has softened. After all, the outdoor purveyor is marking a centennial of sorts this year, which it's using to launch the opening of a new store in Solon. It seemed the appropriate time to finally drop this extended-family reticence and pop the question.

So in late summer, when the movie idol came to Cleveland for an auto racing event, Chris Newman finally approached his cousin, asking him to consider appearing at a grand-opening or some other event.

For weeks, there was no word. Finally, as autumn rolled around, Chris knew that the cousinly silence meant there would be no such appearance. Which leaves sales and marketing experts to their idle conjecture: Just how many high-concept nylon tents or fisherman's sturdy hip boots might have flown off the shelves with an implied endorsement from one of the world's most famous set of baby blues?


Rolodexes aged like fine brandy

Investment banking is the ultimate relationship business, one in which the best contacts are built up over several generations.

If that's true, then Carleton, McCreary, Holmes & Co., the unit of KeyCorp's Key Capital Markets, is in pretty good shape. One of its principals, Doug Holmes, is the son of the late Allen Holmes, a legendary Cleveland power broker who ran Jones, Day, Reavis & Pogue as managing partner between 1975 and 1984, and whose 1990 funeral was one of the best-attended in recent local memory.

Since being absorbed into KeyCorp, the investment-banking concern last year opened a Seattle office, which is overseen by Charles Clarke. His father, Charlie F., was once managing partner of Cleveland's second-largest law firm, Squire, Sanders & Dempsey LLP.

Monday, 22 July 2002 09:58

News clips

Tigerpoly Manufacturing Inc. in Grove City has received a $25,000 business development grant from the Ohio Department of Development to purchase new equipment. Tigerpoly, which manufactures air induction systems and hoses primarily for the auto industry, plans to construct a 40,000-square-foot addition to its existing production and warehousing facility. This estimated $5 million project is expected to create 25 jobs and retain 135.

Columbus-based Design Group Inc. has received the Governor’s Award for Excellence in Energy Efficiency for its design of the Anthem Blue Cross/Blue Shield headquarters in Cincinnati. Building features include a central atrium that eliminates the need for artificial lighting, long north/south exposures with maximum glass to permit natural light and heat gain during winter months and window sunscreens on the south side of the building to minimize heat during summer months and reduce HVAC system costs.

Two Dublin-based companies, King Thompson Realtors and Exceptional Properties, have merged. “I have always respected the ethical way in which King Thompson associates conduct business, and it was an important factor that I took into consideration when deciding to merge my company,” says Nancy Byrd, CEO of Exceptional Properties. Patrick Grabill, King Thompson CEO and president, expresses mutual satisfaction with the merger: “I have known Nancy since the early 1980s and I am continually impressed by her proven track record as a Realtor. She is well-respected within the field and Exceptional Properties will prove to be an asset to King Thompson.”

The Interactive division of Lord, Sullivan & Yoder Inc. has won three awards from the Web Marketing Association, including the 1998 Outstanding Web Site WebAward for LSY’s own site, www.lsy.com. Two LSY clients, McGraw-Hill Consumer Products Division and Marlite, earned the 1998 Standard of Excellence WebAwards. Those sites can be seen at www.mhkids.com and www.marlite.com. Sites were judged on seven criteria: design, innovation, content, technology, interactivity, navigation and ease of use.

Columbus-based Cambridge Publishing Group has received a 1999 Beacon Award for Best Financial Service Solution from Lotus Development Corp. Cambridge’s Folioport transaction management application was chosen from more than 850 nominations from 40 countries for the award, which is judged by industry journalists and analysts.

Reitter Stucco Inc. has been awarded a contract with Lincoln Construction for a project at the Enchanted Acres Community Center in Columbus and with Anchor Hocking to renovate the exterior facade of the Anchor Hocking sales facility Lancaster division.

Corna/Kokosing Construction Co. has been awarded the civil portion of the contract for an 8,840-square-foot expansion to the American Bottling Co. on Stelzer Road, set for completion in April. Corna/Kokosing has also won the contract for the new 25,000-square-foot Office Depot being built on Morse Road, with completion expected in July.

Mills/James Productions has opened a videoconferencing center in its Fishinger Boulevard teleproduction complex. “We have been watching videoconferencing technology evolve for some time,” says Ken Mills, president. “Early on, the technical quality and reliability were marginal, but today’s new systems allow us to offer high-quality video and audio and reliable connections. Even videos and graphics can be included in a videoconference.” According to industry estimates, revenues in the videoconferencing market are increasing at more than 40 percent annually and show no signs of slowing.

Zero Base has been named the agency of record for OhioHealth. “We partnered with Zero Base because of their strong strategic process and their outstanding creative work,” says Scott Billman, vice president of marketing for OhioHealth. “Our desire is to build a unified and dominant brand for our large and diverse health care system, and the role of Zero Base is critically important.”

CB Richard Ellis MCA has launched a construction division to focus on tenant finish work, office design and build-out services. “Launching the new construction division was a natural progression for our business and will be an added benefit to our clients,” says Douglas K. Jackson, senior managing director. “This new business area rounds out our capabilities as a full-service commercial real estate firm because we can now lease, sell, manage, provide maintenance services and design and build out tenant space.”

Out of the Box Designs has produced an interactive CD-ROM sales tool for Cutler-Hammer, a supplier of electrical control products and power distribution equipment. Cutler-Hammer is using the CD-ROM to spotlight its manufacturing process automation software and gain entry into the market.

Profitworks Ltd., has added the Ross Products Division of Abbott Laboratories and Emilcott-dga to its list of clients.

Inside PR has called Paul Werth Associates a “regional powerhouse,” and named the firm to its lists of top public affairs firms, best managed practices and best training programs. The trade journal specifically lauded Paul Werth Associates’ application of private sector discipline to the public sector, its health care credentials and emphasis on research, strategy and results.

Gerbig, Snell/Weisheimer & Associates Inc. has purchased a majority interest in Creative Healthcare Solutions Inc., a Saratoga Springs, N.Y, firm that outsources product management resources for pharmaceutical companies. “In keeping with our philosophy of ‘hiring’ client-side expertise, our relationship with CHS will enhance our capabilities in product management, market research, retail trade, data management and international marketing,” says GSW President and COO R. Blane Walter. “And it will give GSW an East Coast presence.”

Peer Review Systems has announced a strategic partnership with Houston-based Healthcare Research Associates to provide audits of performance data reported by health plans throughout the United States.

Ironwood Cafe, a subsidiary of Max & Erma’s Restaurants, has opened its second location, this one in Mentor. Ironwood Cafe, which debuted in Dublin last year, features an upscale, casual dining environment and American cuisine with a contemporary twist.

Greencrest Marketing Inc. has signed Title Solution Inc., a local software development company, to its client list.

RDP Foodservice has opened a new division, Xtra Dough, to assist organizations with fund raising. Xtra Dough provides made-to-order Italian dishes and appropriate training and marketing support to the organizations. Future plans include expansion into frozen, hand-made Italian dinners such as lasagna and other pasta dishes.

Monday, 22 July 2002 09:58

News clips

Health oasis

Looking for reliable information on the Net regarding that strange skin rash you’ve developed? Try the Mayo Clinic’s Health O@sis at www.mayohealth.org. The library has information on everything from arthritis to urinary tract infections. There’s information on alternative medicine and sections on men’s health, women’s health and children’s health. The site features a handy glossary for getting definitions of medical terms without spending six years in medical school.

When will I be cured?

Medscape is a site where doctors, students and consumers can search among more than 7,000 full-text articles on the latest medical research. If you want more than just basic information, this is the place to go. This site also offers free access to MEDLINE, a service featuring more than 8 million abstracts from 3,800 medical journals. Try it at www.medscape.com.

Mystery pills

Ever find a mysterious pill in your medicine cabinet and wonder what it is? Or did the information sheet on your latest prescription get thrown away? Take a trip to www.RxList.com, which has data on hundreds of pharmaceuticals, including warnings, interactions, dosages and overdose treatments. You can search by name (brand or generic) or imprint code—the numbers and letters stamped on pills and capsules.

Shake the disease

Want to know the facts on vaccinations or symptoms of a particular disease? Find what you need at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at www.cdc.gov. Get straight answers with statistics and scientific data to back it up.

Diet right

Avoid fad and diet pills. Some are initially effective, but most will not keep the weight off on a long-term basis and some can cause side effects, according to The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

Protein power

The American Heart Association says studies show soy protein is as nutritious as meat proteins and can serve as the sole source of protein in a vegetarian diet.

Smoke out

As an incentive to quit smoking, the National Cancer Institute recommends you start saving the money you used to spend on cigarettes. Keep it in a jar where you can see how much you’re saving and spend on yourself as a reward.

Cold or flu?

The flu kills 20,000 Americans every year and hospitalizes thousands more. It may come on quickly, starting with headache, chills, achiness and a fever of about 100 to 104 degrees. There may be a dry hacking cough and a sore or hoarse throat. If there is nasal congestion, it usually occurs later.

Except for the headaches and fever symptoms, this may sound like a bad cold. But a cold rarely has the overwhelming sense of fatigue that may accompany the flu. You feel absolutely wiped out, which is why you may curl up on the couch for a week or more after the main flu symptoms have passed.

Being tired, under stress and run down probably makes you more susceptible. Influenza is caused by a virus, so antibiotics won’t affect it. They best way to treat it is to rest, drink lots of fluids, and take drug store remedies to relieve the symptoms.

—Dr. Nancy Snyderman at www.drkoop.com.

More protein power

Adequate protein is essential to keep your body functioning properly. About half of our dry weight—including muscles, hair, nails and skin—is composed of protein. Our cells and immune systems rely on protein for maintenance and rebuilding. Our bodies don’t have the ability to store protein or synthesize all the amino acids—the building blocks of protein—we need. That’s why eating some protein every day is important.

www.fitnesslink.com

Consider carbs

As wonderful as carbohydrates are for providing energy quickly, too many carbs can send us into a tailspin of low blood sugar from an insulin dump. It’s the job of insulin to lower our blood sugar levels when they get too high; insulin does this by taking the excess sugar in our blood and storing it as fat.

The easiest way to avoid extra fat storage and dipping energy levels is to eat the right amount of high-fiber carbohydrates so the sugar in these foods enters the blood slowly, keeping the pancreas from releasing high quantities of insulin into the blood stream.

www.fitnesslink.com

Fat facts

The key to making fat part of a healthy, sensible diet is to eat the right kind. Any fat that is solid at room temperature is not our friend—it’s saturated and brings with it risks for all kinds of health problems. The best fat comes from vegetable sources and is mono- or polyunsaturated: peanut, canola, olive and walnut. This doesn’t mean you should drown your salad in olive oil—moderation is key.

www.fitnesslink.com

Water world

The next time you feel inexplicably crabby, think back to the last time you drank a glass of water. Dehydration can lead to crankiness and a whole host of other, more serious conditions. As a rule of thumb, try to drink a minimum of eight glasses of water a day, more if you’re working out.

Drinking enough water is especially important for aiding fat loss. The liver is responsible metabolizing fat. When our kidneys don’t get enough water to perform their functions, they recruit the liver to help them out. If the liver is busy helping the kidneys, it can’t do it’s own job of using up that stored fat for fuel.

www.fitnesslink.com

How many calories?

Use this simple formula to estimate your calorie requirements:

  • Change your weight in pounds to kilograms: your weight divided by 2.2.

  • Your basic metabolic rate is approximately one calorie per kilogram per hour, so multiply your weight in kilograms by the 24 hours in a day. This is the number of calories you burn just being alive each day.

  • Now factor in activity: Multiply your calories needed per day by the following percentages, depending on your activity level:

    Light activity: 50 to 70 percent.

    Moderate: 65 to 80 percent.

    Heavy: 90 to 120 percent.

    If you sit at a desk for your job and work out 30 minutes per day, this would be light activity. If your job involves more motion and you are active in addition to your workout (you take stairs, walk to work, etc.), this would be moderate. Heavy activity would be for construction workers, athletes etc. Most Americans are in the light activity level.

  • Multiply the percentages from the previous step and you’ll get a range of calories needed for your daily activity. Add this to the number of calories needed to be alive each day.

To lose those extra pounds, you’ll need to burn more calories than you are eating, either by exercising more, or eating less.

www.fitnesslink.com.

Monday, 22 July 2002 09:58

News clips

Balancing act

Chris Perrow, owner of Perrow Organizational Systems, likes to quote the statistic that the average professional faces 36 hours worth of work — every day. And loses 45 minutes each day searching for stuff lost in piles. The solution: Create a system for expediting all those tasks. In fact, it’s a priority we’ve had on the calendar for months. How to reach: Perrow Organizational Systems, (330) 686-0282


Good spin

How do you achieve a consistent level of excellence in management? “You need to focus on the internal aspects of your operations just as you do on client or customer service,” says Dan Stanowick, senior VP at the Akron office of Edward Howard & Co., which Inside PR magazine recently named the nation’s best-managed mid-sized PR firm. In its ranking of 150 agencies, the magazine spotlighted the firm—with offices in Cleveland, Columbus and Dayton as well—for its processes in strategic planning, investor relations, staff training and development and overall management.


It’s that doohicky thing with the little lines

Now that Europe’s new currency is a reality, businesses seeking global domination have yet another problem, the euro symbol. Where is it in those pesky PC fonts, anyway? The answer is as simple as it is frightening: it’s not.

Solutions are becoming available; for example, for $39.95, CenturionSoft’s new Eurofonter utility adds the euro symbol to all TrueType fonts. For more information, or to see what the symbol looks like, check out the company’s Web site at www.centurionsoft.com.


The spoken word

Utopian visions earlier in this century prophesied that technology would free us from the toils of work. Fact is, computers have increased our workloads in many cases. CEOs and clerical workers alike are now online and under greater pressure than before. But here’s a new PC program for use with your sound card that will relieve the pressure of all those e-mails.

It’s Talking E-mail, a Windows program by 4Developers LLC that audibly notifies you when you’ve got mail. An animated cartoon character pops up on your screen and begins reading the mail to you, whether in plain text, HTML or RTF format. While you’re busy with some other task, you can listen and decide if an incoming e-mail is important enough for you to stop what you’re doing and respond immediately, or put your reply lower on your priority list.

Using nothing more than your e-mail account and sound card, Talking E-mail allows you to specify if you want to hear who sent the message, its subject and how many lines should be read. You can stop the readout at any time, or launch your default e-mail program to reply immediately. To make receiving e-mail entertaining versus ordinary, you can customize the program’s cartoon character attributes to make it fun, choosing from a variety of animations, sounds and other settings to specify behavior and message delivery.

Talking E-mail costs $14.95, but before you buy it , you can download a trial version from www.4developers.com/talkmail. For more information, e-mail sales@4developers.com. You can be sure they’ll hear your request.


Fighting fraud

With online business booming and estimated to hit $37.5 million by 2002, it is becoming more important to be wary of fraudulent Internet practices. The National Fraud Center is an international provider of risk solutions, fraud prevention and interdiction programs to all in need, from small to mid-sized businesses and government agencies to Fortune 100 companies. The center’s Web site, www.nationalfraud.com, contains these tips to help you avoid becoming a victim of cyberfraud.

  • Study disclosure statements carefully.

  • Check with regulatory authorities for license information.

  • Make sure online investment companies are registered with state securities agencies.

  • Do not provide credit card or social security numbers unless you are positive the company is legitimate and the information is absolutely necessary.

  • Do not provide credit card numbers unless protocols are in place on a secure site.

  • Be wary of “free” bargain packages.

  • Do not be pressured into buying NOW. Understand the offer.


Armchair investing

There is a new product on the market to help the armchair investor avoid getting sacked. Indigo was designed by 20-year veteran at the Board of Trade, Frank Alfonso, who developed similar programs for future traders while at the board. The software, based on statistical research, has all testing and analysis built in. Indigo identifies actual trading patterns and has 100 percent objective buy/sell hold signals and signals the investor like an alarm clock when it is time to buy or sell.


Avoiding the hospital

Mobile Business Aid offers an alternative to the hospital for nonlife-threatening emergencies that happen on the job. CorpCare, of Akron General Hospital, has teamed up with national ambulance operator American Medical Response to bring paramedics and emergency medical techs to the workplace to treat minor injuries. The new service saves the time and money of the traditional emergency room visit. Mobile Service Aid expects to charge about one-third the cost of such a hospital visit. To sign up or receive more information, call (888) 267-4457.

Monday, 22 July 2002 09:56

News clips

Traveling at high speed

Business travelers have unique demands when staying in hotels. For example, most of us like to have a big desk and readily available sources of nutrition. Now, with increasing use of the Internet, we’re also looking for a place to plug in our laptop — and the faster the connection, the better. Viator Networks has responded to these demands with HoteLink, which provides high-speed Internet access to hotels and their guests.

“Five years ago, if you asked a hotel if they had high speed Internet access, they’d laugh at you,” says Todd Landfried, founder and president of Viator Networks. “In the next five years, it’s going to be as common as swimming pools.”

The company is currently in negotiations with every major hotel chain to provide this service.


Mail worth opening

“Effective direct mail is not rocket science,” professes Martin Baird, president of Robinson & Associates and author of a new report entitled, “Proven Secrets of Direct Mail: Seven Common Costly Mistakes.

Here are a few of those mistakes:

  • Writing a direct-mail piece as if you’re writing a letter. “Direct mail letters are written to get the reader’s attention, to educate, to encourage the reader to take action,” advises Baird.

  • Designing a direct mail piece that looks corporate. “You don’t work with corporations, you work with people,” he says. “A corporation doesn’t read your letter, a person does.”

  • Using a No. 10 business envelope with a bulk-rate stamp on the front. “These are simple signs that tell the person receiving the mailer that the sender doesn’t care,” he says.

To order the full report, call (602) 990-1775, ext. 4.


More important than money

It may be time to re-think your family-friendly policies. What you offered two years ago may not be enough anymore.

A nationwide survey conducted by Officeteam, an administrative staffing company, shows 26 percent of employees rate the ability to balance work and family as their top concern for the future. The concern beat out salary, which was ranked first by 23 percent, and job security, which was given top priority by only 17 percent of respondents.


Exposed

Karen Brown, founder, president and CEO of Data Now Corp., knew she was ahead of the curve when she set up a virtual workplace seven years ago. Now she’s receiving national recognition for her role in the emergence and acceptance of family-friendly workplaces.

Brown was featured in April’s Ladies Home Journal as part of a special report entitled “How Women Have Changed the Workplace.” Brown, who runs Data Now Corp. out of her Akron home, has 20 employees — most of whom are mothers — who all telecommute via the phone or computer.

While she’s received several phone calls and e-mails as a result of the article, the national exposure hasn’t brought her any tangible sales, yet. But for Brown, who started as a secretary, getting her story out is gratifying enough. “I think of myself 10 years ago reading that article, and my biggest hope is that it’ll inspire other women to go after dreams —that’s the biggest thrill.”


A pat on the back

If your business is located in Alliance, and you were not recognized at the Alliance Area Chamber of Commerce’s recent Business Alliance Awards, you might want to think about how you spent the last 12 months. The Alliance chamber recognized 85 local businesses for their contributions to the city at a mid-March reception.

Kathy Stroia, president of the chamber, kicked off the ceremony by handing out 82 Golden Spade Awards to new and/or recently expanded or remodeled businesses.

In addition, special awards went to the following: The Small Business of 1999 award was presented to East Ohio Stone owners Ed and Carol Allenbaugh; Francisco DeLeon, owner of Don Pancho’s Tex-Mex Cafe, won the Large Business of 1999 award; and the Spirit of Enterprise Award went to Richard C. Sherer, owner of R.D. Williams Office Supply.


Y2K overkill

If you’ve been thinking about expanding your product line to take advantage of the millennium — stand in line. Hundreds of millennium-themed items were unveiled at the Promotional Products Association International Expo in Dallas recently.

Some millennium-themed items hitting the marketplace include countdown clocks that play a mystery song when the date changes to 01-01-00; a millennium crystal ball, which lets you “look” into the 21st century; a millennium keepsake book, which becomes a time capsule when filled; millennium-themed screen savers; and New Year’s Eve party packs. Oh, and don’t forget to order your “We’re Y2K compliant” facial tissues to send out to your clients.


Computer time travel

It’s estimated that it costs the average business $9,092 to operate a networked PC. At that price, any computer down time comes at a premium.

A new software called GoBack allows Windows 95 and 98 users to recover software-related problems by taking their computers back in time — five minutes or five days ago —before the problem occurred. The manufacturer, Wild File Inc., asserts that the new technology will drastically cut computer down time by enabling employees to recover quickly on their own from software problems.

Come January, you might just want the option of sending your computer back to Dec. 31, 1999. For more information, visit the product’s Web site at www.goback.com.

Monday, 22 July 2002 09:55

Newsclips

Senior synergy

Howard Hanna Real Estate Services sees gold in the graying of America.

The real estate company is preparing its agents to meet what it expects to be a crush of business spawned by the large number of senior citizens changing their housing situation in the near future. That means, presumably, a lot of real estate going on the market, as well as demand for alternative housing for seniors, such as apartments, condominiums or smaller single-family homes.

Sixty-seven of Hanna’s agents have completed a 12-hour course for designation as a Seniors Real Estate Specialist. The program was developed by the Senior Advantage Real Estate Council, which spent the last decade designing a national certification course to capitalize on the growing older population.

“We are very excited to offer this course because we have always prided ourselves on training expert agents who understand the importance of niche marketing and selling,” says Helen Hanna Casey, president of residential sales for Howard Hanna.

According to statistics from the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), seniors are the largest group of property owners in the United States. By 2000, the population of those over 50 years old is expected to grow to some 75 million. AARP estimates that 83 percent of seniors own their own homes and that nearly 8 million of them will move residences in the next two years.


Distribution deal

Respironics Inc. has inked a deal with Tri-anim Health Services Inc., of Sylmar, Calif.

Tri-anim Health Services will distribute and sell the BiPap Vision product through its 90-person sales force and 12 distribution centers.

BiPap Vision is a new noninvasive pressure support ventilator with user-friendly graphics capabilities for comprehensive patient monitoring.


Plan “S”

Pittsburgh could very well become the sports arena capital of the world.

While plans for two new sports stadiums near the Golden Triangle are well on their way, and even the Penguins are vying for a new home in town, a private concern is putting up an indoor sports facility in the suburbs that’s geared for soccer. Landau Building Co. is the general contractor for the 100,000-square-foot complex.

Investors have broken ground for the $3.25 million Pittsburgh Indoor Sports Arena in Harmarville. The facility will house three indoor soccer fields, complete with bleachers and a second-floor mezzanine. The playing surface will use Field Turf, a simulated grass which the developers say will be only the second in Western Pennsylvania to use it.

There also will be a cafe-style eatery for players and spectators and a fully equipped pro shop.

The owners of the new complex say they expect to hire 25 employees to serve an anticipated 5,000 patrons a week.


Pittsburgh-Employment.com

Employers and agencies seeking to widen their search for job talent might want to log onto Pittsburgh-Employment.com.

The site’s developer, 2MTC, invites job seekers to post their resumes and offers employers the opportunity to list their openings, with options that include highlighting positions with a “Hot Jobs” designation. Those jobs will be displayed as soon as a job seeker enters the site.

The site won’t be limited to high tech openings. 2MTC says it will list light labor, construction, food service, medical, accounting and executive positions. 2MTC is hoping to have 25,000 listings by this summer.

Job seekers can update their resumes on the site and remove them at any time. They can get career assistance through the site, including resume writing, legal aid, relocation and other services, all of which are provided by local firms.


Clean sweep

Gemini Holdings Inc. has acquired Frontier Supply and Equipment, of Buffalo, N.Y., and Warehouse Point Supply and Equipment, of Hartford, Conn.

Gemini Holdings has consolidated both companies, leaders in their respective markets, into USA Clean LLC, its full-service distributor of laundry supplies, chemicals, new and used equipment and parts to on-premise laundering facilities, including dry cleaners, hotels, hospitals, nursing homes, country clubs and laundromats.

The acquisitions give USA Clean distribution in 14 states through five regional distributors. With the addition of the two companies, USA Clean’s annual revenues top $25 million. And Gemini Holdings says it’s not done yet. The company has its sights set on dominating the industry.

Gemini Holdings acquired Carman Supply, of McKees Rocks, in 1997, and followed that purchase with the takeover of Havnaer Supply and Equipment, a Virginia-based company, in 1998.

Says Tom Certo, president and CEO of Gemini Holdings: “As a result of these acquisitions, we’ll be able to maximize buying power, provide a more efficient distribution network and broaden our range of products and services that we can offer to our customers.”

And clean up in the process, too.


On target

Target Stores, which describes itself as a national, upscale merchandiser, is aiming at an Oct. 10 date to open five stores in Western Pennsylvania.

The stores will be in Washington, Monroeville, Hempfield Township and Pittsburgh, where the company is building two locations.

Minneapolis-based Target Stores, the largest division of Dayton Hudson Corp., expects to hire 200 employees at each of the five locations and estimates that it will pump more than $1 million into Pittsburgh-area communities through local purchases of supplies and services.


MCA acquisition

Managed Care of America Inc., has acquired Consolidated Benefits Inc., a third-party administrator for benefits claims with offices in Columbia, S.C., and Charlotte, N.C.

Charles Davidson, MCA’s president, says the purchase of Consolidated Benefits will give Managed Care of America a significant strategic advantage in developing business in the Southeast.

“Our integrated-benefit delivery products will provide an excellent complement to their claim-administration services,” he says.


Injuries down

Would you like to cut employee injury claims by 11 percent this year? And reduce them by another 13 percent next year?

Sure you would, and listening to your employees might be part of the solution.

That’s what Ward Trucking does, and the company was able to reduce work-related injuries by 11 percent between 1996 and 1997, and by 13 percent between 1997 and 1998. Preventable accident rates dropped by 14 percent from 1996 to 1997, and another 13 percent from 1997 to 1998.

The company uses a combination of regular training, inspections and incentive programs to stress the value of safety to its workers.

Working with representatives of Commercial Insurance Associates, Ward Trucking’s safety team conducts an annual “Safety Safari.” During this week, the company’s safety manager visits service centers and spends time talking with employees about safety and training in round-table sessions. Employees are encouraged to make suggestions to reduce workplace hazards and improve safety.

“And we act on their ideas,” says Michael Ward, executive vice president. As a result of suggestions from employees, the company installed grab handles on its tractors to assist drivers in getting in and out safely, and outfitted their trailers with translucent roofs to heighten visibility.

Monday, 22 July 2002 09:55

Newsclips

A year ago this month, C.J. Petitti told SBN his not-yet-2-year-old call center in Hilliard would reach $12 million in revenues by year’s end. [“They’ve found a calling,” June 1998].

Turns out, he underestimated himself.

Petitti’s Hilliard-based CallTech Communications Inc. not only grossed $13.5 million in revenues for 1998, he’s now projecting that figure to hit $22 million in 1999. In addition, CallTech’s staff grew from 500 in June 1998 to 965 as of this April, and the company’s call volume jumped from 425,000 per month to more than 700,000 in that same time period.

This fast-track growth resulted from new clients, including Cable & Wireless USA and Universal Studios, as well as expansion with existing ones, such as Priceline.com Inc. To accommodate Priceline’s recent business surge alone, for example, Petitti increased his staff from 20 to 280 in one year.

To make room for all this growth, late last year CallTech expanded from a 12,000-square-foot space on Arlingate Plaza to an additional 42,000 square feet on Equity Drive. Petitti is also opening a Florida location, which is expected to be operational by August.

As Petitti puts it: “We’re rockin’.”


That’s news to me

Urban Environments Inc. has won five “Landscape Ohio!” awards from the Ohio Landscape Association, including three for residential projects; one for the commercial landscape maintenance of the Metro Center Office Complex in Dublin; and another for the installation of landscape and irrigation at the 1997 BIA Parade of Homes Foundation House.

Westerville-based Abrasive Technology Inc. has acquired the manufacturing assets of Johnson City Hytech Abrasives LLC of Tennessee. This is the 11th acquisition for Abrasive in the past 13 years.

EXXCEL Contract Management Inc. has been named the 1998 National Volume Builder of the Year by the Buildings Division of Kansas City, Mo.-based Butler Manufacturing Co. EXXCEL has received the award for three consecutive years. “These people are scientists of this business,” says Richard Jarman, president of Butler’s Buildings Division. “They run their business on the basis of mutual respect for all, and their passion for doing business better than anyone has earned them another National Volume Builder of the Year Award.”

Reitter Stucco and Supply Co. has won one of four national Excellence in Exterior Insulating Finishing System Design Awards presented by the EIFS Industry Members Association. Reitter Stucco won the renovation retrofit award for its work on the Anchor Hocking plant in Lancaster.

Ruscilli Construction Co. Inc. has received a Design of Merit Award from Mason-based Steelox Systems Inc. for its Dorcy International project at Rickenbacker. The competition, open to contractors who have supplied clients with Steelox building or roofing systems or components, judges projects on functional and attractive use of building materials, unification of design and appropriate use of space and scale.

Columbus-based CTL Engineering Inc. has opened its first international office, in Bangalore, India. Other offices are planned for France and Malaysia. These offices will work with merchants involved in global trade and interested in providing product testing on import/export merchandise.

Success magazine has ranked Stanley Steemer International Inc. of Dublin third in its annual “Franchise Gold 200” list. The list recognizes the “best-run franchise companies” in the nation as measured by financial health, corporate management, growth and stability, the quality of support given to new franchises and opportunities to buy additional units at a good price.

The Ohio Tax Credit Authority has approved a 10-year, 75 percent tax credit for Abercrombie & Fitch Stores Inc. to relocate its headquarters and a distribution center to New Albany in 2001. The estimated $104.5 million project is expected to create 409 jobs and retain 291 within the first three years of operation.

The American Heart Association has tapped Gerbig, Snell/Weisheimer & Associates Inc. to develop a nationwide, multiyear marketing program to address compliance issues in people with heart disease and stroke.

Costello Nardecchia Advertising has been retained by Frazeysburg-based Williams-Burg Square Homes for marketing services and by the Kroger Co. for Midwest operations project work, including broadcast television and in-store promotions.

Greencrest has been hired to develop a logo, handle public relations and create communications pieces for Capital Procurement Ltd. and to conduct research and develop marketing materials for Fox Embroidery. Both new clients are Columbus-based companies.

The Prometheus Group, a Columbus-based manager of municipal Internet utilities, has signed an agreement with Massachusetts’ Braintree Electric Light Department to provide ongoing engineering, remote system monitoring and help-desk services.

Columbus/Worthington Heating and Air Conditioning Co. has been purchased by Florida-based Blue Dot. Services Inc.

Out of the Box Designs has begun a relationship with Advanstar Communications Inc.’s regional office in Cleveland to market Advanstar’s mix of communication products and services, which includes 70 magazines, journals, and newsletters; more than 100 expositions, trade shows and conference events; reference books; industry directories; and multimedia products.


Who’s news

Arlington Court Nursing & Rehabilitation Center has hired Brad Granger as COO, a new position created in response to the facility’s growth and large number of patients receiving physical, occupational and speech therapy. A licensed nursing home administrator, Granger previously was COO for a Regency Manor, a Columbus-based rehabilitation and subacute center, and chief administrator of a Wapakoneta nursing home.

Cardinal Health Inc. has appointed Stephanie A. Wagoner as president of its new financial services company, Cardinal Health Capital Corp. Also at Cardinal Health Inc., Richard J. Miller has been named CFO; Connie R. Woodburn has been named corporate vice president, professional and government relations; Leonard G. Kuhr has been named corporate vice president and treasurer; and Michael E. Beaulieu has been named corporate vice president and controller.

Acock Associates Architects has promoted Peter Confar, Ed Nabakowski and Mitch Acock to partners.

Harlan W. Robins has joined Baker & Hostetler LLP as a partner in its Columbus office. Prior to joining Baker & Hostetler, Robins was associated with the law firm of Jones, Day, Reavis & Pogue.

Jesse Turner has joined CM Direct as COO and will be responsible for managing the direct marketing agency’s financial, employee and vendor relations. Prior to joining CM Direct, Turner was employed for 10 years in the distribution operations division of The McGraw Hill Cos.

The Ohio Chamber of Commerce has elected several local executives to its board of directors, including: Robert R. Boehm, president, Boehm Inc.; Reginald L. Carter, senior vice president, operations, Columbia Gas of Ohio; Megan T. Galajda, regional manager, government relations, GE; Cathy B. Miley, vice president, director of regional operations, State Auto Financial Corp.; Mark W. Kontos, senior vice president and CFO, Battelle Memorial Institute; Neal F. Zimmers, resident vice president, state relations, Ohio, CSX Transportation; and W. Craig Zimpher, government relations vice president, Nationwide Insurance Enterprise.

The Franklin County division of the American He art Association has chosen Dimon R. McFerson, chairman and CEO of Nationwide Insurance Enterprise, to receive the “Heart Higgins” award in recognition of his community service and leadership in Central Ohio. The award is named after retired U.S. Army Gen. Hugh Higgins, who before his death in 1997, was an American Heart Association volunteer for more than 20 years at the county, state and national levels.

Mazatlan Inc., a Pickerington restaurant, has named board members, including Jose G. Melendez, president; Sergio Munoz, vice president; and Rene Morales, secretary. Part owner Paul “Apolinar” Alvarez will serve as co-manager; Melendez also will head up the kitchen.

Greg Gelting has joined Fifth Third Bank as vice president of the residential lending division. Also at Fifth Third, Andy Dale has been named assistant vice president in the commercial lending department.

Roy H. Williams has been named executive vice president of economic development for the Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce. He will be responsible for the chamber’s $4 million annual “Advantage: Columbus” strategies to build strong regional coalitions to promote Greater Columbus. Prior to joining the chamber, Williams was partner, co-founder and president of The Economic Development Group Inc., an international economic development consulting firm with offices in Columbus and Phoenix.

The Fairfield National Bank has promoted to vice president positions the following: Barron M. Walker, who joined the bank in 1994 as a commercial lender; Daniel L. Bates, a 14-year employee of the bank; and Timothy D. Hall, formerly assistant vice president and commercial lender at Fairfield National.

Retail Planning Associates has promoted Bob Murch to vice president of finance. Murch joined RPA in 1996 after having performed financial analysis for The Limited for five years. Also at RPA, Eric Harned has been promoted to vice president of new business development and analysis. Harned has been with RPA since 1993.

Mary Ostrom, a 10-year employee of Columbus-based Nationwide Global Holdings Inc., has been promoted to vice president of Latin America business development.