Winners of the Cincinnati 2013 Medical Mutual Pillar Award for Community Service

CINCINNATI, OH (Jan. 29, 2013) – Smart Business Network Inc. is pleased to announce the category winners of the 2013 Medical Mutual Pillar Award for Community Service program, presented by Smart Business and sponsored by The Eisen Agency, Duke Energy Center, Spectrum Global, and Prestige AV & Creative Services.

At an awards recognition program held at the Duke Energy Center on January 24, 2013, 14 organizations and individuals were unveiled as Pillar Award winners in five distinct categories and participated in a series of discussions about the tie between the for-profit and nonprofit worlds. This year’s winners were:

Pillar Award for Community Service
• dunnhumbyUSA
• Focus Solutions Inc.
• JANCOA
• KDM P.O.P. Solutions Group
• Messer Construction Co.
• PowerNet Global
• Systems Evolution Inc.
• The Hillman Group
• The Sheakley Group
• Union Savings Bank/Guardian Savings Bank

Medical Mutual SHARE Award
• Clark-Theders Insurance Agency Inc.

Executive Director of the Year Award
• Ellen Katz, president & CEO, The Children’s Home of Cincinnati

Nonprofit Board Executive of the Year Award
• Barbara Gould, advisory board member, Talbert House

Kent Clapp CEO Leadership Award
• Thomas Keckeis, CEO, Messer Construction

“This class of honorees, combined with this year’s group of finalists, is truly inspirational,” says Dustin S. Klein, publisher of Smart Business. “They give back individually and as organizations. They get involved in causes they care about. And the nonprofit leaders have forged meaningful relationships with the for-profit companies and their executive teams to better deliver upon their missions. All told, the Pillar Award class of 2013 truly understands how to strengthen the regional communities where we all live and work.”

The Pillar Award program was founded in 1998 and honors organizations and individuals that best demonstrate a commitment to making a difference. For information on the award winners, along with profiles of the finalists for this year’s Pillar Awards, visit www.sbnonline.com. To receive a nomination for the 2014 awards program, or to learn more about the Pillar Awards, contact Smart Business at [email protected] or (440) 250-7026.

2013 Columbus Pillar Award Winners Unveiled

COLUMBUS, OH (Jan. 21, 2013) – Smart Business Network Inc. is pleased to announce the category winners of the 2013 Medical Mutual Pillar Award for Community Service program, presented by Smart Business and sponsored by Rea & Associates, GREENCREST, Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board, and Catering by Design.

At an awards recognition program held at the Ohio Statehouse January 17, 2013, 15 organizations were unveiled as Pillar Award winners in five distinct categories and participated in a series of panel discussions with TV-10’s Kristyn Hartman about the tie between the for-profit and nonprofit worlds.

Pillar Award for Community Service
• Cardinal Health
• Columbus Crew
• Donatos
• Fifth Third Bank
• Mettler Toledo
• RockBridge
• Safex

Medical Mutual SHARE Award
• Safelite®

Rea & Associates Executive Director of the Year Award
• Jay Jordan, president & CEO, OCLC
• Tammy Wharton, CEO, Girl Scouts of Ohio’s Heartland Council

Nonprofit Board Executive of the Year Award
• Brooke Billmaier (Victoria’s Secret), St. Stephen’s Community House
• Michael J. Fiorile (The Columbus Dispatch), Columbus College of Art and Design
• Laura Warren (Limited Brands), Girl Scouts of Ohio’s Heartland Council

Kent Clapp CEO Leadership Award
• Jane Grote Abell, chairman, Donatos
• Mark Swepston, president & CEO, Atlas Butler Heating and Cooling

“This class of honorees, combined with this year’s group of finalists, is truly inspirational,” says Dustin S. Klein, publisher of Smart Business. “They give back individually and as organizations. They get involved in causes they care about. And the nonprofit leaders have forged meaningful relationships with the for-profit companies and their executive teams to better deliver upon their missions. All told, the Pillar Award class of 2013 truly understands how to strengthen the regional communities where we all live and work.”

The Pillar Award program was founded in 1998 and honors organizations and individuals that best demonstrate a commitment to making a difference. For information on the award winners, along with profiles of the finalists for this year’s Pillar Awards, visit www.sbnonline.com. To receive a nomination for the 2014 awards program, or to learn more about the Pillar Awards, contact Smart Business at [email protected] or (440) 250-7026.

What if?

The closed-door meeting was tense. The CEO made the situation crystal clear: A solution was needed quickly, and the group assembled was charged with developing workable ideas.

Sales were in drastic decline. The company’s market share was ebbing. Its flagship product, which had carried it for years, was no longer flying off the shelves, and the corporate war chest was getting lighter by the month.

The concerned CEO asked the attendees, “How are we going to fix the problem and get this company back on track?”

His question was met by silence. Everyone looked around the room, waiting for a sage answer to leave someone’s lips. Finally, a team member spoke up. Instead of tossing out a sure-fire solution, she asked the group a second question. And it began with the words, “What if.”

The scenario is fictional, but similar situations have played out thousands of times in corporate boardrooms.

Innovative breakthroughs occur by looking at various components of an organization and asking, “What if?” Being innovative means being inquisitive. Throughout history, the most creative minds have also been the ones that ask the most questions, never satisfied to accept things the way they appear to be.

One of my favorite stories that underscores this notion concerns horror writer Stephen King.

In the 1970s, King wanted to write an unconventional vampire story. So he did what any innovative thinker did and began his journey with the words, “What if.”

In King’s case, the question was, “What if a vampire was introduced into a small rural community?” The answer: It would get hungry and drink someone’s blood.

King’s thinking subsequently went like this: That someone would turn into a vampire, who would also require someone’s blood for sustenance. The scenario would repeat itself until eventually the town would be overrun by vampires. Anyone arriving in town would be fresh meat.

From this innovative thought process came King’s best-selling vampire novel,’ “’Salem’s Lot.”

Innovation doesn’t have to be painstakingly difficult. It can be accomplished by questioning the status quo and asking those two little words: What if?

And while the process probably won’t lead to the creation of a horror novel, it could take your company places you had never imagined.

Thorn in my pride

I was sitting in a bucket chair at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, waiting for a late-night flight to Cleveland, when I noticed a janitor pushing a large, wheeled trash barrel.

He ambled along with an expression somewhere between indifference and insolence. Every few steps, he bent over, scooped up a handful of litter and tossed it in his barrel. He eyed some litter near me and, as he ventured past to collect it, his body language screamed, “I don’t want to be here.”

When he walked back, some of the litter slipped from his arms. A half-hearted attempt to catch it failed, and a few candy wrappers, a crumpled up newspaper page and a straw tumbled to the ground.

The man continued back to the barrel and deposited the remainder of his armful. What happened next solidified my negative perception of the employees at O’Hare.

Earlier that evening, I’d been dealt two bad hands that first forged my impression. First, my flight was delayed for a couple hours. There were whispers of a cancellation, but no one would provide a straight answer.

Next, I waited for more than an hour at airport security because two of three open stations closed promptly at 8 p.m., leaving hundreds of people in the three lines workers had sorted us into confused about what we should do next. We finally decided to consolidate into one, messy line, and nobody was happy.

So when the janitor stared for what seemed like forever at the litter he had dropped, then shrugged, turned and pushed his trash barrel away, his utter disdain for his job capped a perfect evening. It was a small detail, but it caused me to believe that O’Hare employed too many people who don’t care whether their attitudes negatively impact the airport’s clientele.

The simple truth is that whether your employees do care does directly affect how customers view your business. Like it or not, it’s the little things that leave the biggest impressions upon your clients.

Attention to detail and a good attitude toward the job often matter more than anything else. If your customer touch points don’t deliver positive impressions, your business will most certainly suffer the consequences.

Seedlings

Whether you’re launching a start-up venture or expanding operations, developing and writing a business plan may be among the most difficult parts of the process. Countless weeks and months go into the research, benchmarking, number-crunching and eventual penning of the plan, all of which has one goal in mind — a successful company.

Last year, the Council of Smaller Enterprises conducted a business plan competition designed to spark entrepreneurship across Northeast Ohio. The COSE Business Plan Challenge, formerly VentureQuest 2002, was sponsored by numerous organizations, including SBN Magazine.

More than 250 business plans were submitted. Five category winners and one Best of Show winner were determined through two rounds of judging by panels of experts, COSE volunteers and business leaders. Category winners received $10,000 and a prize package that includes numerous business-related services and support. The Best of Show winner received a more extensive package, including $50,000.

Over the next year, SBN will follow the monthly progress of these six companies. We’ll explore their plans, challenges, hurdles, products and services as they march toward business success. Here is a snapshot of each business.

Best of Show: Home Team Marketing

Founded in April 2001 by brothers Peter, Regan and Jake Fitzpatrick and Patrick Spear, the company takes sport sponsorships and applies the concept to high school athletics. Based in Cleveland Heights, Home Team Marketing creates a network of Ohio high schools and gains the right to sell each school’s existing sports-media elements, such as stadium and arena signage and print space in game programs.

The company then sells marketing opportunities to larger clients. More than 196 Ohio high schools are part of Home Team’s growing network.

Female Business Enterprise: Tea Jones

Sarah Wilson-Jones knows a thing or two about the beverage business. As owner of Phoenix Coffee and tea party catering service Charlotte & Veronica’s Tea Co., Jones plans to translate that experience into a Cleveland Heights-based national chain of tea cafes under the name Tea Jones.

Under 30: CyberDine Systems

Mike Sabat and Craig Zucker have developed a new way to order food and beverages at restaurants using a self-service product for ordering and delivery. CyberDine’s first development, a software program, provides computerized menus at the table of restaurants that allow customers to place orders and send them to the kitchen.

The Beachwood duo hopes to test market the product at the Winking Lizard and is targeting casual dining chains such as T.G.I. Fridays as future clientele.

Growth: Software Answers

Paul Chaffee, president of Software Answers, has been providing IT training and consulting services in Akron since 1994. The company has completed development of its first product, a software program for K-12 schools designed to integrate all systems — attendance, grading, lesson plans, homework assignments — into one system.

More than 30 school districts have signed up to use the product beginning next September.

Minority Business Enterprise: Mid-America Consulting Group Inc.

Andrew J. Banks has been successful with Beachwood-based Mid-America Consulting Group Inc. and hopes to expand that success through the launch of Provider Gateway, an Internet-based case management tool that provides county governments with a way to monitor, track costs and evaluate individuals who receive federal aid.

Banks’ system allows the government and registered providers access to data and the ability to update records in real time and coordinate services with other agencies.

Start-up: InfoGraphix LLC

Robert McGee Sr. plans to launch InfoGraphix, a Cleveland-based firm that will establish a database of information for commercial appraisers and real estate professionals that extends beyond the basic records and parcel and street maps that are currently available from the county auditor or recorder. McGee says his solution will allow real estate professionals to produce customizable reports and improve the quality of evaluations used in appraising real estate.

How will these business fare? For more information on the progress of these honorees, watch the pages of SBN. How to reach: COSE, (216) 621-3300

Blending resonsibilities???

A business is often judged by its bottom line — how well did the owners, managers and employees execute the business plan or generate cash flow?

And, while that philosophy may very well dictate whether a company survives and thrives, it may not necessarily reflect how the community views that business. However, a company’s philanthropic mission does.

Nearly 30 percent of Northeast Ohio businesses that responded to the 2001 ERC/SBN Workplace Practices Survey say they received recognition for their community involvement within the past two years. For those business owners — and the myriad others who get involved — it’s not about the hard work. Instead, it’s about social and corporate responsibility.

The methods vary, from financial donations or pure volunteerism to a mixture of each, but the goal remains the same — giving back to the community. Here are some examples of Northeast Ohio’s best practices in philanthropy.

Construction in FAITH

In June, Ohio-based Fifth Third Bank granted $50,000 to Lorain County’s Humility of Mary Housing Inc. to help finance the nonprofit’s $1.2 million project — FAITH House. FAITH (Families in Transitional Housing), will be a multi-unit housing facility designed to accommodate eight families in need and will include an attached community building for educational and social activities. The grant is part of Fifth Third’s long-standing commitment to aiding organizations within the Northeast Ohio community, explains Robert J. King Jr., president and CEO of Fifth Third Bank.

Says King, ”This grant will enable Humility of Mary Housing to further its mission of empowering low-income individuals and families through quality, affordable housing and support services.”

One bagel at a time

If the employees at nine Northeast Ohio Einstein Bros Bagels shops meet their goal, they’ll raise more than $6,000 for the Cleveland Foodbank this summer through three events — Rib Fest, Kids Fest and Taste of Cleveland.

”We feel a deep loyalty to our customers, as they do us, so any charitable programs that support local issues are important to us,” explains Stacie Lange, Einstein Bros public relations manager. ”We are often title sponsors, but we donate catering services and food as well.”

Einstein Bros raises money several ways, including offering prizes and food coupons.

Days of fun

Employees at Cleveland Glass Block spent one warm, sunny June day out of the office, substituting their regular work responsibilities with playing with children at the Berea Children’s Home and Family Services. CEO Mike Foti says employees were compensated for a regular work day, but instead of powering the company, they participated in a day’s worth of events designed to bring smiles to the faces of Berea Children’s Home’s children.

”We believe that collaborating with organizations like BCHFS helps build a sense of family and teamwork throughout our company,” Foti says. ”Cleveland Glass Block’s philosophy is to build our company family and our community, thereby building social capital in the Greater Cleveland area.”