CIOs looking at developing new applications are faced with the daunting challenge of meeting ever-changing business demands within a shrinking budget. The normal course of action is to either develop an application from scratch with the help of an outside contractor or purchase an out-of-the-box solution.
Working with an outside contractor has obvious benefits. Without adding headcount, you can assemble a team with the skills you need to meet your demand. You can also create a dream application to capture or process information specific to your industry.
No out-of-the-box solution is going to give you that functionality, no matter how good it is. But no out-of-the-box solution will cost you as much as it will to hire a contract team of programmers, either.
Out-of-the-box software can offer a short-term solution if you don't have a big development budget. Most will handle your basic needs. Some providers can provide further customization on a contract basis to help meet specific business objectives. Of course, if you can find an out-of-the-box solution specifically designed for your industry, it will make customization that much easier.
Partnering -- a new option
An emerging trend is for companies to form a partnership with the companies developing their applications. This usually entails an agreement that, for a reduced rate, the contractor will develop an application and retain rights to the source code.
The contractor is then free to develop and market the application as an out-of-the-box solution for other clients.
This arrangement probably wouldn't work for companies that hope to gain a proprietary advantage from the software they are developing, but for most others, it's an ideal arrangement. After all, once an application is developed, most companies have little or no use for source code rights.
Case study -- LAMPS
My company, BravePoint, has been a pioneer in this approach. Recently, we were contacted by the Georgia Association of REALTORS to develop an application capable of keeping track of membership and other data for all of the real estate agents in Georgia.
There were already several packages on the market specifically designed for this task, but the Georgia Association felt they were too expensive, too cumbersome or not customized enough to do what it needed them to do.
BravePoint looked at existing applications to see what has worked and what hasn't. We were able to take advantage of technology that wasn't available when many of the competing applications were first written. The result was LAMPS -- BravePoint's Lightweight Association Management Processing System.
Since we retained the rights to the application, we were able to offer it as a custom solution to the Georgia Association at a dramatically reduced price. We knew we would be selling the product in this market, so we became experts in its technology and its business, as well as its specific needs.
The Georgia Association was left with a custom solution, as an out-of-the-box package called LAMPS -- a software product with all the maintenance and support that go along with it. Also, any future upgrades are easy to accomplish because of our partnership
Partnering for a win-win
Costs for producing major IT initiatives haven't gone up, but budgets have gone down. If you are about to start a major IT initiative, consider forming a partnership with your provider.
Relinquishing ownership rights of the source code for a new application can help you do a major installation at a tremendous discount. The result is cheaper, better and more versatile software for everyone. John Harlow is president of BravePoint, a supplier of e-business and enterprise IT solutions to mid-market companies. Reach him at (770) 449-9696, ext. 3012.
The board of directors of OuterBounds Technologies Inc. appointed Frederic J. "Fritz" Hibbler CEO. Hibbler joined OuterBounds Technologies in March 2003 as chief technology officer and executive vice president.
He has experience in wireless mobile voice/data, billing systems, enterprise resource packages, software development, systems operations and information technology organization. During his 22-year career, he has held several executive positions: vice president and CIO for Rural Cellular Corp., VP of operations for Global Mobility Systems, CTO for SportsFunds.com and CIO for the University of Wyoming.
Stiefel Laboratories appointed William D. Humphries to the newly created position of senior vice president, commercial operations.
Humphries brings 16 years of domestic and international experience in sales and marketing, management, training, operations and business development in the pharmaceutical industry. He spent 14 years in several positions with Allergan Pharmaceuticals, departing as vice president of sales and marketing with hands-on involvement in strategy, execution and business development for the company's dermatology product line. Previously, he was on the management team at Dermik Laboratories, with division responsibilities in sales operations and product management.
He will be responsible for strategy, business development, sales and marketing for all Stiefel products.
THE TECHNOLOGY ASSOCIATION OF GEORGIA
The Technology Association of Georgia's Steve Jeffery will step down as president to assume his new role as CEO of an Atlanta-based technology company.
Jeffery joined TAG as president in April 2003, with a planned tenure through the end of 2004. The executive committee has initiated an active search for a new executive director. In the interim, TAG operations and staff will be overseen by the executive committee.
COLONIAL TAX COMPLIANCE CO.
Colonial Tax Compliance Co. named David Fromal executive vice president of marketing and sales. Fromal will spearhead the company's growth initiatives across all of its markets and verticals. He will also assume responsibility for all marketing, branding and positioning initiatives. He brings to Colonial Tax more than 20 years of sales and marketing experience.
Prior to his role with Colonial Tax, Fromal worked in a similar processing intensive environment as the executive vice president of strategic development and corporate communications for TRX Inc. Prior to TRX, he spent more than 13 years in various management positions at American Express Travel Related Services.
Coca-Cola Enterprises' board of directors elected William W. Douglas vice president, controller and principal accounting officer. He succeeds Rick L. Engum, who will assume the post of vice president of finance for the company's North American Group.
Douglas has spent the past 13 years in various senior European roles within the Coca-Cola system. He has served as CFO of Coca-Cola HBC, one of the world's largest Coca-Cola bottlers, since February 2000, and prior to that was corporate controller of Coca-Cola Beverages PLC, based in London. He began his career in the Coca-Cola system in 1985, joining The Coca-Cola Co. after three years with the accounting firm of Ernst & Whinney.
Engum began his career with Coca-Cola in 1974. Prior to his most recent assignment, he served as vice president, finance and administration for the company's European Group, and earlier as vice president, information systems.
Digital Envoy named William J. Calpin CEO.
Calpin brings more than 25 years of sales and management leadership experience in the financial services industry, as well as the information services and technology sectors. Calpin assumes his leadership role from Dave Keller, who stepped down to accept a COO position with Humanizing Technologies, a technology start-up in Indianapolis. Before joining Digital Envoy, Calpin partnered to launch Ocean Cove Associates. Before that, he was general manager and senior vice president of Sales for X.HLP Inc., a global software and services company. He also served as CEO for Abridge, an Internet technology company.
Prior to Abridge, Calpin was a member of Equifax's executive team, starting in 1995 when the global information services firm acquired his company, UCB Services Inc. He was president and COO for UCB Services of Chicago and served as vice president of Citicorp Mortgage in St. Louis.
HOFFMAN NAMED WOMAN OF THE YEAR FINALIST
Sandy Hofmann, CIO and chief people officer of MAPICS Inc., a global provider of enterprise solutions for world-class manufacturers, was named one of seven finalists for Women in Technology's "Woman of the Year in Technology" award. The distinction recognizes a Georgia female executive for her leadership both within her company and her community.
Hofmann was one of 43 nominees. Other finalists were Linda Beck, executive vice president of operations for EarthLink; Becky Blalock, senior vice president and CIO for Southern Company Services; Raleigh Burgess, president and founder of Seventh Wave Technology; Margaret Godsea, CIO for AFC Enterprises; Kristin Kirkconnell, CIO for AGL Resources; and Mylle Mangum, CEO of International Banking Technologies. Finalists and nominees were honored during the Fifth Annual Woman of the Year Awards Gala held at the Fox Theater in Atlanta April 15.
"I am proud to be honored for my efforts and the efforts of my team and to be in the company of such capable and outstanding women," says Hofmann. "Awards such as this recognize what a significant asset our women executives are to the Georgia business community. The growth in numbers of nominations year over year is a positive sign that Georgia businesses are continuing to invest in our female executive leadership."
In today's world, real estate is a professional, full-time chosen career that requires knowledge of business, technology, accounting, legal issues, and yes, sales. Mastering the business of real estate is a challenge. Having the right tools and support can make the difference between success and mediocrity for a sales associate.
The National Association of Realtors (NAR) says there are more than 1 million licensed Realtors, and more join the ranks each day. Why? It could be that most of us have bought or sold a home and the professional sales associate who worked with us made it took easy.
Yet that's far from reality.
Discipline and skills
Real estate requires a well-written business plan and the daily discipline to follow it. The basics of real estate law, contracts and financing are taught in pre-licensing classes. But truly successful Realtors have also learned how to close the sale.
NAR says more than 60 percent of licensed Realtors fail within the first year. What is the difference between success and failure in this business? Many times it comes down to the company a sales associate chooses.
As in any profession, continuous coaching and skills training are key. This includes learning, and then consistently practicing, proven scripts and dialogues. Understanding how to handle any and all objections that may arise is a must. The only way to develop new business and meet annual business goals is through this very disciplined approach.
Change is constant
Over the past 25 years, real estate has seen some dramatic changes. From contracts and disclosure to buyer agency and the Internet, real estate professionals are required to keep themselves informed as well as advise clients when to consult with an attorney on legal issues to ensure protection for the consumer.
Many colleges offer degree programs in real estate, making it a viable career choice for young professionals. In addition, corporations are eliminating middle management positions, putting these well-educated and experienced professionals in the job market. This is exciting for the real estate industry -- the "new Realtor" now has the business savvy required to follow a plan and the discipline to execute it.
What does it take to succeed?
A real estate professional is the CEO, administrative assistant and janitor for the business. There is no clock to punch or timecard to fill in. Discipline and accountability are the watchwords for a successful real estate career.
A classic schedule should include several hours each day for business development. Running a business requires customers. Where do you find the people who want to buy or sell? Co-workers -- past and current, friends, family, neighbors -- become potential customers or lead to customers. Continually talking with them and identifying real estate needs becomes a daily routine.
What about the frustrated homeowner who has a home that hasn't sold? Or the business executive who chooses to sell it himself -- known as FSBO (For Sale By Owner) in the industry? These are all prospective customers. Following up with every lead and providing a valuable service to those who want to buy or sell will bring success.
Think back to your last real estate experience. Did the sales associate keep you updated on available properties for sale, stay in tune with market trends and conditions and understand your needs? Did you turn to that sales agent because of his or her in-depth knowledge and highly developed skills? If the answer is yes, you had a positive experience and will probably call on that person again. Chances are, that Realtor will be in the 40 percent success group.
How does the process begin?
The Georgia Real Estate Commission requires that each candidate successfully complete an approved 75-hour course of study (unless real estate class transcripts from college are available). There are many terms to learn (I lost count at 650). Pricing property, financing, property rights, government regulations, agency and contracts are just a few of the topics covered. There is a course final that must be mastered before sitting for the state exam.
About halfway through the real estate pre-license course, candidates begin interviewing real estate companies. As in any career move, this is a very important decision, because they are not all alike. There are more than 8,000 firms in Georgia.
Here are some questions to ask in an interview to be sure the company you choose will be able to support your career and give you the opportunity to be successful.
* Do you offer one-on-one business coaching?
* Do you offer continuous training?
* Do you offer sales training -- scripts and dialogues?
* Do you teach new sales associates a system to develop business?
* Do you require a business plan?
* Do you provide state-of-the-art Internet marketing tools?
In today's world, the business of real estate holds many opportunities -- residential, commercial or international -- for anyone willing to rise to the challenge. Debbie Cooke is director of training and education for Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, the leading residential real estate brokerage firm in metro Atlanta. Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage includes 27 real estate offices and specialty divisions - The Condo Store, Builder Developer Services, Commercial and Corporate Relocation. Affiliated companies offer mortgage, title and closing services. Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage is a member of the NRT family of companies. NRT, Inc., the nation's largest residential real estate brokerage company, is a subsidiary of Cendant Corporation (NYSE: CD). For more information, call (404) 705-1500 or visit www.ColdwellBankerAtlanta.com.
Knauss named Coca-Cola executive VP
The board of directors of The Coca-Cola Co. elected Donald R. Knauss executive vice president.
Knauss was named president and chief operating officer of Coca-Cola North America in February. He joined the company in 1994 as senior vice president of marketing for The Minute Maid Co. and was named senior vice president and general manager, U.S. Division, in 1996. Knauss served for nearly two years as president of the Southern Africa Division, managing the company's business in 10 countries of Southern Africa. He was named president and CEO of The Minute Maid Co. in 2000, and became president of the Retail Division of Coca-Cola North America in 2003.
Knauss served as an officer in the United States Marine Corps. He serves on the board of trustees for the United States Marine Corps University Foundation, the board of trustees for Camp Coca-Cola and the board of directors of the National Soft Drink Association.
Through the world's largest distribution system, consumers in more than 200 countries consume the company's beverages at a rate exceeding 1 billion servings each day.
Also, Coca-Cola Co. announced that General Counsel Deval Patrick will move the date of his resignation to the end of the year. Patrick joined Coca-Cola in 2001.
LANIER WORLDWIDE INC.
Lanier Worldwide Inc. named Ann Franks vice president of Information Technology. She will lead the company's efforts to develop IT-friendly document management solutions and enable customers' IT teams to meet corporate goals for document-related cost savings.
Franks joined the Lanier Information Systems organization in 1979, and has held numerous positions related to systems development, software re-engineering and enterprise resources planning implementations. In 1995, she joined the international division as the International Systems manager, advancing to director of IT for Canada, Latin America and South America. She relocated to Brussels, Belgium, in 1999 to head the IT organization for Lanier Europe, and returned to Atlanta in August 2002.
Franks replaces Sean Magee, who was promoted to lead IT efforts for Ricoh Corp., Lanier's parent company.
R. Lee Morris was appointed vice president and chief financial officer of Datatrac Corp., a provider for the time-sensitive logistics industry. He is responsible for managing all financial, legal, and human resource activities as the company expands delivery of its real-time logistics network solutions to shippers, freight forwarders and delivery service companies.
Most recently, he was a managing director with EGL Holding LLC. Prior to that, he served as CFO and as a director for a number of Georgia-based companies, including DocuCorp International and American Technical Services Group. He also served as CFO for E3 Corp. and Allure Fusion Media. Morris began his career in public accounting with PricewaterhouseCoopers.
EarthLink Inc. Vice President of Finance and Principal Accounting Officer Kevin M. Dotts was named chief financial officer, replacing Lee Adrean, who is leaving for a new opportunity.
At General Electric, Dotts held a succession of increasingly more senior finance positions. He also served on GE's corporate audit staff, in its plastics division both domestically and internationally, at NBC, and most recently as the financial leader of a $1.5 billion business unit of GE Power Systems. Since joining EarthLink, Dotts has reported directly to Adrean, and he and his department have been responsible for financial and management reporting, financial planning and analysis and corporate purchasing.
AGCO Corp., a worldwide designer, manufacturer and distributor of agricultural equipment, announces the re-election of the following directors to the board: Wayne Booker, Gerald Johanneson, Curtis Moll and Robert Ratliff. These directors will serve as Class III directors until the annual meeting in 2007 or until their successors have been duly elected and qualified.
DELTA AIR LINES
M. Michele Burns, executive vice president and chief financial officer, has left Delta Air Lines. She will join Mirant Corp. of Atlanta as executive vice president and chief financial officer, and lead the company's financial restructuring.
U.S. REALTEL INC.
U.S. RealTel Inc.'s board of directors appointed Gregory P. McGraw, the company's president, to the additional post of CEO. McGraw replaces Charles B. McNamee, the former CEO and director, who left the company in March. McGraw, who has filled the position of acting CEO since March 15, has more than 20 years of executive management experience in telecommunications, most recently serving as president and chief operating officer of U.S. RealTel Inc., Cypress Communications Inc. and its subsidiaries since February 2002.
Forrest Robinson was named president of the newly formed Cousins/Weeks, a joint venture between Cousins Properties Inc. and Weeks Properties. The new entity will to develop and own industrial properties. Robinson comes to Cousins from Miami-based Codina Group, where he served as president of development. Prior to Codina, Robinson spent more than 20 years with Weeks Corp., including seven years as president and COO.
The solution to many of these problems is, of course, more capital. Capital can take many forms, such as equity -- common or preferred stock -- or long-term debt. A well-capitalized business can expand faster, and a business with capital reserves has a better chance in a bad economy.
Knowing they need capital, and armed with do-it-yourself enthusiasm, business owners spring into action, contacting family, friends and business contacts. This is a challenge, and they will meet it just like any other business challenge.
Many business owners are not aware, however, that raising capital involves selling "securities." Not only are there federal securities laws, each state also regulates securities. But the sale of stock or promissory notes to a few investors can't be regulated like an IPO, right?
Sure, but there are still hoops to jump through, and serious risks if you don't. Charges of securities fraud can ruin a business, and no business owner wants personal liability to investors.
First, a basic principle: the securities laws require every offer and sale of securities to either be registered or to qualify for a registration exemption. Registration is feasible, however, only for large financings. Small financings usually can qualify for both federal and state registration exemptions. Sometimes, but not always, these involve pre- or post-sale government filings and specific disclosure requirements.
A second basic principle is full and accurate disclosure. Whether the offering is registered or exempt, potential investors must receive all material information about the investment, and none of the information they receive can be materially false or misleading. Violating this principle amounts to securities fraud, even if the securities are fully registered or clearly exempt.
And if the self-reliant business owner disregards these principles?
That is where the risk comes in. The Securities and Exchange Commission, which oversees federal securities laws and agencies that administer state securities laws, can bring civil enforcement actions. The Department of Justice and state attorneys general can bring criminal actions. Usually, these are prompted by complaints from unhappy investors.
Even without government action, if an investor purchases unregistered securities without an exemption or if there is less than full and accurate disclosure, that investor can demand his money back. Unlike most claims against a corporation or limited liability company, the business owners may have personal financial exposure to these claims.
The do-it-yourself business owner runs another kind of risk as well. When a homeowner builds his own deck, he will have a problem selling his house if that deck is starting to sag. Similarly, when a business succeeds after raising capital, and the business then is for sale or needs to raise more capital, an inspection of its records will reveal any defects in the capital-raising process. Those defects can slow down a desirable transaction, reduce the selling price or kill the transaction entirely.
So where does this leave business owners who need capital?
Fortunately, help is available, and it need not cost an arm and a leg. Attorneys experienced in private financings and sensitive to the needs of smaller businesses can help structure the transaction, guide the business owner through the regulations and create a common-sense disclosure package. What's more, they can bring peace of mind, all without much delay and for a reasonable fee.
Henry B. Levi is a shareholder at Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, PC. Reach him at (404) 221-6508 or email@example.com.
Jumping into a relationship with a consultant or application developer without clearly identifying your goals can lead to disorganization and wasted resources. Ask questions to determine your need, and when you have them answered, ask another round of questions to choose a solution provider.
Choosing your provider
There are several characteristics to look for when selecting your solution provider. The questions are the same whether you are looking for an individual to help with a few days-long EDI project or for an offshore company for outsourcing your entire IT development team.
Finding a provider for larger undertakings generally requires more research, but do the research, because changing vendors mid-project can be expensive, time-consuming and counter-productive. When choosing your provider, look for the following.
* Expertise. Select vendors that have proven their expertise in the skills you need. Ask to see samples of work that relate to the project they will do for you. Ask for references, then talk to them. If possible, visit a customer site to see the proposed system or application in action.
* Longevity. The last thing you want to do is tie your prosperity to a company that may go out of business in a few years. If you're depending on your vendor to assist with mission-critical technology, make sure it will be with you for the long haul. If it has been in business for several years, ask how long it has been using the technology you are hiring it to provide.
* Stability. Check your potential provider's stability. Just because a company has been in business for 20 years does not mean it is stable. Check its Dunn & Bradstreet rating and ask for a turnover rate of key personnel. A low D&B rating is a red flag, but turnover is also important. If the company has a high churn, there may be underlying issues that impact your project.
* Objectivity. Honesty is crucial if you are to view your solution provider as a partner. You want a partner that won't let its eagerness to sell products or services impact the recommendations it is making. You also want a vendor that will tell you bad news as well as good, a trait most often found in companies with stated organizational ethics. Ask references how the vendor dealt with tough issues.
Turning vendors into partners
Many long-term projects can be viewed as mutually beneficial partnerships. You depend on your vendor to help you address technical issues you don't have the internal resources to meet, and your vendor depends on your happiness to keep you as a customer.
Before choosing your vendor, make sure it is easy to work with. Find out what its track record is when working with others and try to anticipate how its staff will interact with yours.
Narrowing down the short list
With clearly defined project deliverables and attention to vendor selection requirements, the final list of contenders should be relatively small.
When you select your solution provider, don't be surprised if it does not commit to your exact budget. Unless you have a perfect set of specifications, it is difficult to estimate how long a project will take. Nevertheless, it should be able to tell you if your budget is reasonable.
When negotiating your contract, insist on regular milestone meetings with individuals on both sides to ensure that the project progresses and the relationship is maintained. If you ask the right questions upfront and maintain the relationship during the project, you should not only find a great, reliable fit for your needs, but also find yourself in a very enjoyable working relationship. Sandy Mass is technical manager at BravePoint, a supplier of e-business and enterprise IT solutions to mid-market companies. Reach her at (770) 449-9696, ext. 3045.
In this corner, we have traditional coverage, arguably the most popular plan. The cornerstone of this classic plan is the freedom to use any dentist. With the frequency of at least two preventive visits a year, many people's relationship with their dentist has become more important than that with their medical doctor.
Even so, traditional plans have been changing over the years from pure indemnity to passive dental PPO plans. They are referred to as passive because there is no penalty for using nonnetwork providers. If an employee does not use a network dentist, he or she has the same benefits as with the age-old indemnity plan.
Driven in part by some state laws, most dental PPO plans must offer the same deductibles, co-insurance and maximum payment limits whether patients use a network provider or not. Many times, employees who are enrolled in a passive dental PPO plan don't even know or remember they have an incentive to use network providers.
The primary advantage of using network providers is that the employee participates in an average discount from UC&R charges of 25 percent, as well as no balance billing from the dentist. Despite this incentive, many employees are not motivated enough to change dentists. Even the largest networks in the country only cover one-third of licensed dentists. As a result, the reductions in premiums for these passive PPO plans compared to pure indemnity is only 4 percent to 8 percent. Nevertheless, Passive PPO is the current champion of dental plans.
The Achilles' heal of these plans is their limit on benefit payments. The most common plan has a maximum calendar year benefit of $1,000. Although less than 7.5 percent of people enrolled have more than $1,000 a year in claims, over a five-year period, you could have 37.5 percent of your employees find the $1,000 limit a problem. Increasing the maximum to as much as $2,000 does not resolve this issue.
Because of this benefit cap, I refer to traditional dental plans and PPO plans as dental "assistance" not dental "insurance."
In the other corner we have the challenger, the leaner, tougher dental HMO.
The typical DHMO has no deductibles, no claim forms, uses predictable co-pays versus co-insurance, protects you from UC&R cutbacks and has no dollar limit on dental services. If you require $5,000 of dental services, you'll get it. Last but not least, the premiums can be 50 percent less than those of traditional or PPO plans.
Many companies have purchased a DHMO on this simple comparison, but you must truly understand the limits of DHMOs before determining if it's right for your employees.
The biggest hurdle is the network. You must receive services exclusively from providers within the network. The lists are much smaller than those for even PPO networks, and in some rural areas, they are non-existent.
The other concern is that procedures outlined in the benefit summaries are the only services covered. There are hundreds of different procedure codes for dental services. If a procedure is performed that does not match one on the list, it's not covered. This is one of the reasons employees should take their benefit summaries with them to DHMO dental appointments.
Some employees may also find difficulty in scheduling their first preventive service. Although not uncommon with any dentist, DHMO dentists typically push preventive services like your semi-annual teeth cleaning four to six months out. Of course, if you have any pain or require immediate attention, a DHMO patient will be seen immediately.
The DHMO is not the best fit for everyone. If you're interested in a DHMO, consider offering both it and a traditional plan, letting employees choose which is right for them. Typically, 30 percent of employees will choose the DHMO over the more expensive traditional or PPO dental plan.
Educating employees on the advantages and disadvantages of the DHMO is critical to a successful DHMO program. If you want a dental plan that can go 15 rounds, like Rocky Balboa, then the DHMO and its unlimited benefits can be the champion. Bruce Bishop (firstname.lastname@example.org) is director of marketing and managing partner of KYBA Benefits. KYBA Benefits provides consulting and administrative services to more than 400 corporate accounts, ranging in size from 20 employees to more than 7,000. Reach Bishop at (770) 425-6700 or (800) 874-2244, ext. 205.
Developers know their audiences and what sells, and what's selling today includes convenient locations, fashionable in-town lifestyles and, of course, competitive price points. The popularity of buying and living in a condominium is growing among all generations, from baby boomers to second homeowners and entry-level buyers.
So what do you need to know when considering a condominium purchase?
Benefits of a shared-living environment
When you live in a single-family home, the interior and exterior maintenance of your property is completely your responsibility. Whether it is mowing the lawn or repairing the roof, you, as the homeowner, need to either do it yourself or pay an outside contractor.
This is not necessarily so in condominium living. You usually pay a monthly fee to your condominium association or property management company. It is their responsibility to maintain common areas (typically defined as "anything on the outside of the walls of a homeowner's unit"). The association will handle regular upkeep such as landscaping, exterior painting, and maintenance of lobbies, hallways and any recreational facilities. The fee often covers trash collection, as well.
Your responsibility will always be the interior of your individual unit -- whether it is a high-rise, townhome or loft. Every association offers slightly different amenities and services, so carefully read the condominium documents that pertain to your project.
The right condominium for your lifestyle
There all kinds of condominiums, from luxury high-rise buildings offering exemplary service to townhome or cluster homes that feel almost like a single-family home. It is important to talk to your real estate professional about choosing what fits your needs.
For example, if you are trying to keep the monthly fee to a minimum, look for a project with few recreational amenities and simple common areas. But if you enjoy tennis or swimming, easy access to those facilities may be important to you. Keep in mind that elevators, elegant lobbies, doormen, swimming pools and exercise rooms with high-quality equipment usually come with a maintenance cost.
Ask the right questions
It is important to review the condominium rules prior to making your purchase. Your real estate sales associate should obtain a copy of the condo association bylaws so you know and understand the rules and guidelines. For example, some associations do not allow pets over a certain size or have regulations about what can be placed on exterior walls or on the lawn.
In addition, obtain a copy of the certificate of insurance that summarizes the association's policy. Review it with your insurance agent or attorney so you know exactly what is covered. Don't forget that you will need to insure your personal items with a homeowner's policy.
Many developers are building loft and condo properties in some of the key areas in Atlanta -- downtown, midtown, Buckhead and Virginia-Highland. The competition within the market means that developers are offering more for less.
What used to be considered an upgrade -- granite countertops, hardwood floors and stainless steel appliances -- now comes standard in many loft and condo homes. Buyers have the opportunity to purchase quality homes with extra features at reasonable prices.
The bottom line is that condos offer simplicity. In a competitive market like Atlanta, they come in all shapes and sizes, with varying amenities, upgrades and services. Industry analysts project interest rates will remain low and sales will remain high in 2004. These projections - combined with products that are better-suited to today's consumer and developers that offer more standard features than ever - indicate 2004 is shaping up to be a great time to buy a condominium.
David Tufts is executive vice president of Coldwell Banker The Condo Store, a division of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage. He and his team provide turnkey on-site sales and marketing from concept to closing. The two resale offices feature sales associates trained in the nuances of condominium sales. The company has successfully marketed hundreds of new construction and conversion developments ranging from luxury high-rise to garden style communities. With more than 50 percent of the Atlanta condo market share, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage has expanded its operations for The Condo Store throughout Florida and to Boston. For more information, call (404) 705-1570 or visit condostore.com or ColdwellBankerAtlanta.com
Don Knauss was named president of Coca-Cola North America. He will oversee strategic direction of the unit's operating performance and handle day-to-day operations of the beverage company's oldest business segment.
"Don brings unmatched skills, leadership and relationships to the job, along with heartfelt belief in the culture we are instilling across our flagship operating unit," says Steve Heyer, Coca Cola's president and COO.
Knauss joined Coca-Cola in 1994 as senior vice president of marketing for The Minute Maid Co., and was named senior vice president and general manager, U.S. Division, in 1996. He served nearly two years as president of the Southern Africa Division, managing the company's business in 10 countries of Southern Africa, before being named president and CEO of The Minute Maid Co. in 2000. Knauss was named president of the Retail Division of Coca-Cola North America in 2003.
Knauss served as an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps and received a bachelor of arts degree in history from Indiana University. He serves on the board of trustees for the United States Marine Corps University Foundation and the board of trustees for Camp Coca-Cola.
Randy Martinez was named chairman and CEO of World Airways Inc. and will succeed retiring Chairman and CEO Hollis Harris. Martinez, 48, became president and COO of World Airways in November 2003. He joined the airline in 1998 as director, crew resources, was appointed as the special assistant to the chairman in May 1999, and in August 1999 was named CIO. In 2002, he was promoted to executive vice president of marketing and administration.
Previously, he had a 21-year career with the U.S. Air Force, retiring as a colonel and command pilot. He holds a B.S. degree in organizational behavior from the U.S. Air Force Academy, an M.S. degree in operations management from the University of Arkansas and an M.S. degree in national resource strategy from the National Defense University.
Powell, Goldstein, Frazer & Murphy LLP
Powell, Goldstein, Frazer & Murphy LLP elected James J. McAlpin Jr. to succeed Armin G. Brecher as firm chair. McAlpin has served in a number of leadership positions, most recently as chair of the Corporate and Technology Department and as a member of the executive committee. He joined the firm in 1985 and was the youngest member to be elected to the board of partners, the firm's governing body, in 1997. He previously led the Business Transactions and Corporate Finance Practice and has chaired the Compensation Committee.
McAlpin, 45, is a double graduate from the University of Alabama, receiving his undergraduate degree in 1981 and his J.D. in 1984. He is involved in the Association for Corporate Growth (and is a past- president of the Atlanta Chapter), as well as the Atlanta Venture Forum, the Carter Center Board of Councilors and various banking associations.
Southern Company Services
Mark Crosswhite was named vice president and associate general counsel for Southern Co. Services. He also will serve as senior vice president and general counsel for Southern Co. Generation and Energy Marketing, a business unit of Southern Co. that works to manage and generate electricity for the company's retail customers and markets energy in the competitive wholesale supply business. He will also serve as general counsel for Southern Power, the Southern Co. subsidiary that builds, owns and manages the company's competitive generation assets.
Crosswhite will direct legal services and external affairs efforts for Southern Co. Generation and Energy Marketing and Southern Power. He will oversee regulatory, federal and state interactions, as well as internal and external communication. He will work closely with Southern Co.'s external affairs, governmental relations and corporate communication groups. He also will manage the company's legal services group.
Hellmann Worldwide Logistics
Hellmann Worldwide Logistics appointed Pat Nelms branch manager of the firm's Atlanta offices. Nelms will focus on new business accounts, managing local operations and sales, identifying markets to be developed or maintained through appropriate business strategies, and ensuring Hellmann's quality system is implemented and maintained in the branch.
Nelms has held a number of senior positions within the international transport arena, most recently as director of global sales, southeast region, for Geologistics, Atlanta. Prior to joining Geologistics, Nelms spent more than 20 years in the logistics industry serving in various sales positions, including general manager for Phoenix International in Los Angeles and development manager for Thyssen Haniel/ABX.
Michael Wood was appointed Worldspan CFO and senior vice president. Wood assumes responsibility for Worldspan's worldwide financial operations, including accounting and financial reporting, investor relations, financial analysis, budgeting, taxes, treasury, purchasing and all Worldspan facilities.
Prior to joining Worldspan, Wood served as senior vice president and general manager-emerging technologies for ChoicePoint, the nation's leading provider of identification and credential verification services. Wood commenced his tenure at ChoicePoint as senior vice president and CFO, responsible for finance, investor relations, human resources and administration.
Previously, he served in management roles, including as CFO at Lane Bryant, where his responsibilities included all areas of finance, distribution and information technology. In addition, he held corporate finance and auditing positions with Primerica Corporation and General Electric Co.
Wood received a MBA from Loyola College and a B.S. in accounting from Villanova University.
The Weather Channel
Debora Wilson was named president of the Weather Channel, replacing Bill Burke, who resigned in March. Wilson, 46, previously ran the Weather Channel's interactive unit. She was promoted to COO in September 2003 and has worked at the Weather Channel since 1994. Previously, she spent 15 years with Bell Atlantic -- now Verizon -- and worked in operations and product management.
Glen Rollins was named president and COO of Orkin Inc. Gary W. Rollins will become Orkin chairman. Glen Rollins, grandson of Rollins Inc. founder O. Wayne Rollins, began his career with Orkin in 1979 at the age of 14, assisting a termite technician during summers. Since joining the company full time in 1990, he has held positions as salesman, branch manager, region manager, division vice president, and most recently as executive vice president. PCT magazine, the pest control industry's news leader, named Rollins to its distinguished "40 Under 40" list late last year.
Rollins is a founding member of the board of directors of the Professional Pest Management Alliance, an arm of the National Pest Management Association established in 1997 to increase awareness among consumers of the value of professional pest management services. He is a graduate of Princeton University.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination against both minority and majority employees on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin. From the perspective of a manager contemplating an affirmative action plan, this broad prohibition creates an unfortunate dilemma.
On the one hand, organizations with nondiverse work forces face potential liability to minority employees if they fail to take adequate steps to achieve workplace diversity. On the other, these organizations are reluctant to adopt personnel policies that take minority status and/or gender into account in making personnel decisions because majority employees are increasingly likely to sue for so-called reverse discrimination.
The law has long recognized this dilemma, but little has been done to resolve it. Twenty-five years ago, in the landmark decision recognizing the limited legality of voluntary affirmative action plans, the United States Supreme Court noted that the expansive antidiscrimination provisions of Title VII often place managers on "a high tightrope with no net beneath them."
In that decision, and in subsequent pronouncements, the Supreme Court has offered only vague advice to those struggling to maintain their balance atop the tightrope toward workplace diversity.
First, affirmative action plans must mirror the remedial purpose of Title VII; they must, in the Supreme Court's parlance, be "designed to eliminate a conspicuous imbalance in traditionally segregated job categories."
This language has been widely interpreted to mean that affirmative action plans that create preferences in favor of minorities and women are only permissible when intended to redress the effects of past discrimination against those same minorities. The precise implications of this necessary precondition, however, are not well settled.
How is a "conspicuous imbalance" shown?
The method by which an employer demonstrates a conspicuous imbalance depends upon the skill level of the positions at issue.
Where positions are unskilled, it is proper to separately compare the percentage of minority and women employees currently in the position with the percentage of those groups in the work force of the surrounding area.
Where the positions are more skilled, however, the percentage of minorities and women in the position must be compared with the percentage of minorities in the work force of the surrounding area that are qualified to fill the position.
How the surrounding area is defined depends on a variety of factors.
What constitutes a conspicuous imbalance?
Despite the guidance concerning proper comparisons, it remains unclear what minimum ratio constitutes a conspicuous imbalance.
Many practitioners follow the rule of thumb that two or three standard deviations is sufficient, but this standard is not infallible and should not be relied upon without exercising caution.
It is also unclear whether statistics alone will suffice to show a conspicuous imbalance. Many courts require additional, qualitative evidence of past discrimination in addition to numbers.
What facts suffice to show past discrimination against minority and women employees?
Evidence of nonparticularized societal discrimination against a particular minority group is not sufficient to support an affirmative action plan. However, most courts do not require that employers show that they themselves have discriminated against minorities in the past before affirmative action plans can be adopted to correct the resulting imbalances.
Aside from these general guidelines, it remains unclear when evidence of past discrimination in a given industry, craft or geographic area -- or some combination of these three -- will be sufficient. It is also unclear whether, or the extent to which, minority or women employees benefited by affirmative action plans must show that they themselves were the victims of the past discrimination alleged.
Second, as a corollary of the first directive, affirmative action plans must be temporary measures; they must be intended to eliminate a conspicuous imbalance, not maintain an existing balance.
While not a per se requirement, affirmative action plans that contain explicit, flexible diversity goals, and/or a system of periodic checks to measure progress toward goals are more likely to survive challenge than those that are open-ended.
Third, affirmative action plans cannot "unnecessarily trammel" the interests of majority employees. Plans that absolutely bar the hiring or promotion of majority candidates or require the immediate displacement of majority employees and their replacement with minority employees are not permissible.
Plans that use inflexible set-asides or quotas to achieve diversity are also unlikely to withstand challenge.
While helpful, these imprecise guidelines provide little comfort to managers contemplating a perilous walk across the tightrope toward diversity. In fact, divining the Supreme Court's guidelines can prove disastrous.
Much to their surprise, managers have found that the same evidence they amass in determining whether a conspicuous imbalance exists in their work force can be used against them both by minority and women employees in traditional discrimination suits and by majority employees in reverse discrimination cases that challenge the validity of affirmative action plans.
This additional Catch-22 only deepens the manager's dilemma. To the extent an organization compiles data, managers must reflect that past discrimination has produced a conspicuous imbalance in its work force. This process is necessary to ensure that a preference-based affirmative action program is legally permissible under the Supreme Court's guidelines. In compiling this data, however, the company may be building a case for minority and/or women employees who sue for discrimination.
Moreover, once a company has determined that affirmative action is warranted, the dangers attendant in following the Supreme Court's imprecise guidelines do not end. The same information used to justify an affirmative action plan often aids majority employees in challenging any system of preferences that is adopted to address workplace imbalances.
Indeed, this information is frequently used in so-called reverse discrimination cases to demonstrate that an organization considered race and/or gender in hiring minority employees.
Many companies have found the Supreme Court's vague, conflicting guidelines unworkable. Indeed, because existing law offers poor guidance on the propriety of using preferences in hiring and promotion to achieve workplace diversity, it is safer from a legal standpoint and potentially more effective over the long term to address workplace imbalances using a more creative, two-pronged approach that centers on recruiting and retention efforts.
First, managers should take steps to ensure that they select employees from a diverse pool of qualified applicants. They should review their recruiting and referral practices to ensure that those efforts are directed at a diverse audience of potential employees. They should use search firms that consistently provide diverse pools of well-qualified applicants.
Managers should diversify the pool of search firms they use to include those that specialize in the recruitment of minorities and/or women.
Managers should advertise employment opportunities in media that reach a diverse audience of potential employees, and should consider participating in, or creating, community-wide initiatives that focus on minority and female recruitment.
Second, managers should take steps to ensure that they retain minority and women employees by combatting attrition.
Companies should institute training programs that ensure that workplace diversity is valued by all employees (mandatory diversity training, for example) and that its potential advantages are maximized.
They should review their general employment policies and procedures and consider updating policies to address the unique concerns of minority and women employees. They should review their training and mentoring programs, both formal and informal, to ensure that minority and women employees receive the same sponsorship, coaching and support that majority employees receive.
Companies should facilitate the creation of minority- and women-focused networks that connect minority employees inside and outside their companies.
This two-pronged approach to creating workplace diversity offers significant advantages over preference-based affirmative action plans.
If done correctly, this approach ensures that organizations select from a diverse pool of well-qualified potential employees and avoid reliance on a preference system, thus decreasing the likelihood of reverse discrimination suits. From a business standpoint, this approach increases the likelihood that, once hired, minority and women employees will thrive.
Sam Matchett is a partner in the Atlanta office of King & Spalding LLP, where he is a member of the Labor & Employment Practice Group. Reach him at (404) 572-2414 or SMatchett@KSLAW.com.