How green thinking is integral to the design and construction of the Cleveland Medical Mart & Convention Center

Sustainability is a key focus for Turner Construction Co. and Merchandise Mart Properties Inc. as construction of the Cleveland Medical Mart & Convention Center continues ahead of schedule and on budget.

Green initiatives began at the design stage – ranging from low-flow water fixtures to a green roof over the Convention Center – and have continued into the actual construction of the complex. More than 98 percent of the demolition and waste products from the old site were recycled, and 30 percent of the material going into the new building will be recycled material.

“Living green is all part of what we need to do for our future – and not our future, but our children’s future and their children’s future,” says Brian Milner, Cleveland MMCC director of operations. “And if we don’t start here from day one on this project, we’re going to be a step behind.”

Executives from Turner gave Smart Business an exclusive video interview to discuss the project’s green initiatives:

Watch: “Cleveland MMCC: Green initiatives key to building construction, design

This 36-month, $465 million construction venture is set to be completed by July 1, 2013 – two months ahead of schedule.

To see the project’s progress for yourself, check out the Cleveland MMCC live webcam.

How to reach: The Cleveland Medical Mart & Convention Center:

Turner Construction Co. – Cleveland:

The 2012 HR Awards – Finalists

Cleveland State University

Tracy Porter, college associate lecturer, Department of Management and Labor, and CSU SHRM Student Chapter co-adviser

Tracy Porter is a college associate lecturer with the Department of Management and Labor at Cleveland State University. Involved in the academic and business community for more than 20 years, Porter has also taken on the role of co-adviser of CSU’s Society of Human Research Management chapter.

DentalOne Partners

Charles Newton, recruiting operations specialist

Currently employed by DentalOne Partners, Charles Newton made a distinct impact as HR administrator/benefits specialist at his previous employer, the Cleveland Sight Center. He incorporated a new applicant tracking system, a new on-boarding program and a new benefits management program for employees of the center.

Greater Cleveland Partnership

Deborah Bridwell, deputy executive director, Commission on Economic Inclusion

Deborah Bridwell is deputy executive director of the Commission on Economic Inclusion at the Greater Cleveland Partnership. She takes a strong leadership role in directing the commission’s efforts in growing the region’s minority-owned businesses, increasing access to well-paying jobs and including more minorities in senior management and board leadership.

John Carroll University

Ryan Zubal, student

Ryan Zubal is an upcoming senior student at John Carroll University with a demonstrated passion for HR. A member of the school’s Society for Human Resource Management chapter since fall 2011, he assumed the role of president in spring 2012 and has worked hard to further develop and grow the organization.

MCPc Inc.

Beth Stec, vice president of corporate communications and human resources

Beth Stec has worked for MCPc Inc. for 14 years. Currently serving on the executive team as vice president of corporate communications and human resources, she continues to drive the HR best practices she’s built over the years to support the delivery of excellent customer service by MCPc employees.

Menorah Park Center for Senior Living

Jamie Herbst, director of human resources

Jamie Herbst has been employed in human resources for 27 years, 16 of them with Menorah Park Center for Senior Living. As the director of human resources, she has developed several initiatives intended to advance the caliber of the nonprofit organization in the eyes of its employees, guests and community members.

MTD Products

Fran Walsh, director of health and welfare benefits

Fran Walsh has been with MTD Products for more than 40 years. As director of health and wellness benefits, Walsh oversees the everyday administration of benefits for more than 4,000 employees in nine locations — earning her three peer-nominated “Golden Sprig” awards for going above and beyond to further the company, employees or mission.

Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District

Douglas Dykes, director of human resources

Douglas Dykes is the director of human resources for the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District. After joining NEORSD four years ago, he set out to challenge antiquated practices and underdeveloped employees by updating and incorporating new programs and processes in the areas of hiring, wellness, compensation and succession planning.

The Oatey Co.

Nickie DiCarlo, director of leadership and associate development

Nickie DiCarlo is the director of leadership and associate development for The Oatey Co., where she oversees and leads the leadership development strategies, associate development programming, succession planning, organizational change management and internal communication strategies. She held a variety of training and organizational development roles previously with Key Bank and PolyOne.

OrthoHelix Surgical Designs Inc.

Jessica Kelly, human resources manager

Jessica Kelly was hired earlier this year as a HR manager for OrthoHelix Surgical Designs Inc. to organize the company’s newly created HR department and ensure it thrived. She has already begun and implemented many policies and programs, including a grant-funded wellness program initiative.

The Sherwin-Williams Co.

Diane Hupp, vice president of employee relations

Diane Hupp is vice president of employee relations for paint solutions company The Sherwin-Williams Co. She was nominated by an employment litigation attorney who was “cynical about large corporate HR culture” — that is, until Hupp’s “honest, legal and positive” approach to HR changed his mind.

Stark State College

Kristin C. Hannon, career development director

Kristin C. Hannon is the career development director at Stark State College, where she applies her many years of HR expertise to guiding the region’s future leaders. She assists students with mock interviews, resume writing and direct daily support, and serves on one of the college’s committees related to human resources.


Laurie Allen, senior compensation analyst

Laurie Allen has been senior compensation analyst at STERIS Corp. since 2001, where she leads the company’s global merit planning process, among other duties. These include planning, developing, implementing and administering job evaluation, performance appraisal and wage/salary administration and management programs for STERIS and its divisions and subsidiaries, among others.

Summa Western Reserve Hospital

Jennifer Miller, manager of compensation/HRMS and benefits

Jennifer Miller is the manager of compensation/HRMS and benefits for Summa Western Reserve Hospital. She was instrumental in developing the organization’s employee “Gateway,” as well as in continuous development of the organization’s UltiPro system — enhancing overall business operations in addition to HR and payroll.

Vocational Guidance Services

Susie Barragate, director of human resources

Serving as director of human resources for Vocational Guidance Services since 1999, Susie Barragate has transformed the function of the company’s HR department. Her achievements include creating the agency’s competitive, its multileveled compensation structure, an agencywide customer service training program and an organizational review system.

The 2012 HR Awards — Winner List


AdvoCare Group

Megan Busovicki, human resource manager

Megan Busovicki has spent the last six of her nine years in the HR industry working for AdvoCare Group. As human resource manager — and the sole human resource staff member at the company — she has led a number of initiatives that have enhanced the quality of AdvoCare Group’s workplace, impacted business success and attracted top talent, playing an integral role in the company’s overall growth.

One of her recent initiatives is leading AdvoCare Group University — an internal professional and personal enrichment program — by chairing an AdvoCare Board of Education committee. She is designing a core curriculum based on direct feedback from departments and individual employees and implementing a companywide policy for continuing education, ensuring employees have access to both professional and personal enrichment options.

Busovicki also co-chairs the Quality and Assurance Committee, the Disaster Recovery and Business Continuance Planning Committee and is the chairperson for the AdvoCare Group Wellness Committee. She supports and coordinates various charitable initiatives and has developed policies to create an adaptable and flexible workplace for employees seeking to work either in or outside of the office.


Child Guidance & Family Solutions

Lyn L. Gwinn, manager of human resources

Lyn L. Gwinn has worked as manager of human resources for Child Guidance & Family Solutions, which serves Summit County, since 1991. Her work on behalf of the nonprofit organization contributed to it being distinguished among the “50 Best Non-Profit Organizations to Work For” by The NonProfit Times two years in a row. She’s also completed four North Coast 99 award submissions for CGFS, earning the organization a spot among the 99 best employers in Northeast Ohio for top talent three of the four times.

With more than 20 years in the field — including previous work for Andrews, Bartlett & Associates Inc. and BFGoodrich — Gwinn has proven experience in administering complex benefit programs, designing new benefit packages, suggesting alternative funding arrangements and clearly maximizing benefits to employees by communicating various health, life, pension, 40l(k) and dependent/health care options.

She received her education from the University of Akron.


Cleveland Foundation

Monica Brown, director of human resources

Monica Brown is the director of human resources for the Cleveland Foundation, where she has worked for the last six years. She has previous experience serving as the director of human resources for the Western Reserve Historical Society, as well as experience providing human resources consulting to a number of other nonprofit organizations including the Beck Center for the Arts, the Literacy Cooperative, the Fund for Our Economic Future and Neighborhood Connections.

Brown is a certified senior professional in human resources and serves as a mentor to junior-level human resources professionals through the Cleveland Society for Human Resources Management.

She earned her bachelor’s degree from Kent State University and her master’s degree in human resources and labor relations from Cleveland State University.


Cleveland State University

Vickie Coleman Gallagher, Ph.D., assistant professor and CSU SHRM student chapter adviser

Vickie Coleman Gallagher, Ph.D., returned to her alma mater, Cleveland State University, in 2010 as an assistant professor and soon stepped up her engagement with the school. Volunteering in 2011 to serve as the CSU Society of Human Research Management student chapter adviser, Coleman Gallagher has helped the organization overcome challenges and achieve many goals.

She kept the organization running smoothly through a period of transition: coordinating activities with an entirely new student officer board, a new Cleveland Society of Human Resource Management liaison to the student chapter and staffing changes at the SHRM national office.

But her efforts didn’t stop at merely maintaining the organization. Last year, Coleman Gallagher was a featured presenter in a Saturday development workshop for HR students held at CSU and guided student officers in planning an evening panel presentation that showcased successful HR alumni. She also participated in both Cleveland SHRM student leadership workshops and coordinated the spring workshop hosted by CSU, and she has been an active member of the Cleveland SHRM Education Committee.


Cleveland State University

Olga Nagdaseva, master’s of business administration student

Olga Nagdaseva is pursuing an MBA at Cleveland State University, from which she has already earner a bachelor’s degree in management and labor relations.

Nagdaseva demonstrates a commitment to academic excellence, consistently being selected as an honor student. She was inducted by CSU’s Monte Ahuja College of Business as a member of Beta Gamma Sigma, the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business honor society.

The Monte Ahuja College of Business also selected her to represent the student body at the its Corporate Roundtable, as well as at the Net Impact National Conference, Crain’s Cleveland Business Emerald Awards, Entrepreneurship Immersion Week sponsored by the Entrepreneurship Education Consortium and to serve as a student delegate to participate in the final stage of the AACSB accreditation process.

Additionally, Nagdaseva served as the president of Net Impact and secretary of Society for Human Resource Management — two prominent CSU student organizations. She maintains affiliations with SHRM, Cleveland SHRM, Beta Gamma Sigma International Honor Society, APICS, Net Impact, the Institute for Supply Chain Management and the Purchasing Management Association of Cleveland.


The Lubrizol Corp.

Tom Tomasula Jr., director of global staffing and domestic relations

Tom Tomasula Jr. serves as the director of global staffing and domestic relations for The Lubrizol Corp., a specialty chemicals manufacturer. In this position, he leads the corporate recruiting and staffing team to conduct and complete fulfillment of open positions with top performer, focusing on implementing talent acquisition and talent management strategy for the corporation.

Among his many accomplishments at Lubrizol he provided strategic recruiting consulting and training solutions for clients up to $1 billion in revenue, managed the recruiting function at a national, $700 million organization, led the human resources function for a 320-person multioffice division, and performed the budgeting and analyzed the financial results for a $65 million division.

Prior to Lubrizol, Tomasula held talent-acquisition-related positions with Ratliff & Taylor, Employers Resource Council, Cole National and Cole Vision, among others. He received an MBA in accounting from the University of Michigan and a BBA in accounting and philosophy from the University of Notre Dame.


Main Street Gourmet

Kelly Loebick-Frascella, director of human resources

Kelly Loebick-Frascella is the director of human resources at local bakery manufacturer Main Street Gourmet. She began her career in 1999 when she created and developed the human resources department for the company. Her efforts have continued to evolve, with her focus now directed toward leadership development, diversity, safety and wellness.

Last year, the company’s efforts in workplace wellness earned it the first annual “[email protected]” Grand Prize Award for small- to midsized companies from the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. Employee programs include a healthy lunch program, guest speakers on fitness, a bicycle program, a weekend hiking club, a lunchtime walking club, an annual health fair that includes individual health assessments, free smoking cessation seminars and free employee immunization clinics.

Loebick-Frascella earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Akron and is currently enrolled in their MBA program.


Nordson Corp.

Gerard “Jerry” J. Torma, director of human resources global support

Gerard “Jerry” J. Torma is the director of human resources global support for dispensing equipment company Nordson Corp. Serving with the company for nearly 30 years, he develops and directs effective human resources global support programs that enable Nordson to achieve business objectives on a worldwide scale.

In addition to his efforts with Nordson, Torma is affiliated with a variety of organizations including the board of the Northern Ohio International Business Network, the Cleveland Council on World Affairs, the U.S. National Foreign Trade Council, the Council on Foreign Relations, the American Society for International Human Resources Management, the Lorain County Community College Business Advisory Council and the Cleveland State University International Business Advisory Council.

He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Akron and an MBA from Baldwin-Wallace University.


Petrus HR Solutions LLC

Amy Petrus, human resources consultant

Amy Petrus is a human resources consultant with Petrus HR Solutions LLC, with more than 20 years of experience in the field. She manages HR-related projects and programs serving a diverse client base, ranging from technology, manufacturing, service and nonprofit organizations.

Petrus’ areas of expertise include compensation, performance management, policy and procedure development, training, executive/management coaching, staffing assistance, and employee relations and communications.

She has more than 10 years experience in consulting roles at KPMG and Employers Resource Council and serves on the Human Resources Committee of the Board of The Susan G. Komen Northeast Ohio Affiliate. Petrus is also a member of the Northeast Ohio Human Resources Planning Society.

She earned her master’s degree in human resources and labor relations from Cleveland State University and holds the designations of certified compensation professional through World at Work and senior professional in human resources through the Society for Human Resource Management.


PolyOne Corp.

Jeffrey A. Hudson, manager of training and organizational development

Jeffrey A. Hudson is the manager of training and organizational development for specialty polymer materials, services and solutions provider PolyOne Corp. Serving in various positions in his eight years with the company, he currently has global responsibility for training and development, performance management, career planning, employee engagement, and other organizational development functions.

Hudson is also a member of the United Way committee at PolyOne. He continues this spirit of community outside of the company as a volunteer for the United Way of Lorain County’s annual “Week of Caring” projects. Additionally, he is a member of the Society for Human Resources Management and an alumnus of Cleveland Bridge Builders.

Prior to working at PolyOne, Hudson held roles in organizational development and change management leadership at American Greetings and Accenture. He earned his bachelor’s degree in business and a master’s degree in industrial relations from West Virginia University.


Skoda Minotti

Christa Lenko, director of employee development

Christa Lenko has served as director of employee development for CPA, business and financial advisory firm Skoda Minotti since 2005. She is responsible for managing, supporting and assessing the company’s organizational needs to foster an environment that maximizes personal and professional growth.

To this end, Lenko has applied her more than 10 years of progressive human resources experience to design and implement professional development programs, manage recruiting activities, and develop and maintain talent management and performance improvement programs.

Prior to working for Skoda Minotti, she served as the manager of human resource strategies at Thompson Hine LLP, HR generalist at CTI Molecular Imaging and HR generalist at LexisNexis. She earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from the Franciscan University of Steubenville and her master’s degree in organizational management from the University of Phoenix.


Western Reserve Area Agency on Aging

Carol Burhenne, director of human resources

Carol Burhenne is the director of human resources at Western Reserve Area Agency on Aging. Upon joining the company in 2011, she set out to restructure the HR department, implementing a new benefit plans for health insurance as well as more affordable ancillary benefits through a joint effort with Northeast Ohio Area Agency on Aging.

Burhenne completed her master’s degree in clinical counseling at John Carroll University during her first six months at WRAAA and became a licensed professional counselor through the state of Ohio. She received certification in trauma-focused therapy and is a certified by the state of Ohio as a chemical dependency counseling assistant. This education and training enables her to better assist employees who may experience work and life challenges.

In addition to her work to improve WRAAA from the inside, Burhenne strives to make a difference in her community. She participates on the HR Committee at the Ronald McDonald House of Cleveland Inc. and as a “wish granter” and PR liaison for Make-A-Wish of Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana.

The HR Awards

The HR Awards recognize Northeast Ohio HR professionals who have demonstrated excellence in the field of human resource management. Their achievements and unique skills show they are dedicated to improving themselves and their organizations. The awards honor all levels of HR practitioners, from individuals in local SHRM student chapters to HR executives.

The awards are co-hosted by ERC and CSHRM, two of the area’s leading organizations in the HR industry. Each award category is judged by an independent panel of distinguished representatives from the local HR community.

The following is a letter from  SueAnn Naso, the president of CSHRM and Staffing Solutions Enterprises, and Patrick Perry, the president of ERC:

Congratulations. It is a great honor for ERC and CSHRM to host and honor the human resources leadership in our region. Our inaugural “class” of winners and finalists reads like a “who’s who” of professionals who continue to make a difference through sound, creative and proactive HR management. We are also pleased to recognize the leading faculty adviser and student participant for Student SHRM Chapters in our region who are developing the next generation of HR leadership.

The HR Awards will be an annual event where individual professional achievement in HR will be recognized. We appreciate the tremendous response received in this first year of the program and look forward to ERC and CSHRM working together to showcase individuals making a big difference in their profession and respective organizations.

Check out our winners’ information in this issue and also at They are truly leading by example and our hats are off to them for making a positive impact on others. There is no greater recognition than with your peers and that is certainly the case with this year’s HR Awards winners and finalists.

Last but not least, thank you to The HR Awards committee, judges and, of course, our sponsors. Their hard work and support was critical in launching this regional initiative.

Check out the HR Awards Finalists

Check out the HR Awards Winner List

Endless Referrals: The Go-Giver Way

On November 15, spend the morning with world renowned speaker and author Bob Burg at the special event, “Endless Referrals: The Go-Giver Way,” and you’ll learn how to quickly and easily build a prospecting and referral “machine” to continuously create more sales than you ever dreamed possible.

If you’ve ever asked yourself the question, “Who do I talk to next, now that my list of prospects has run out?” then this program is for you. Combining humor, entertainment, and a whole lot of “nuts & bolts” information, bestselling author and internationally-acclaimed speaker Bob Burg shares principle-based methods that will accelerate your ability to meet and connect with new people and build the trust that is essential in life and business!

During this powerful program you will also learn the philosophy at the heart of The Go-Giver embraced by so many of today’s top producers and leaders, including the principle behind Law #3: The Law of Influence; specifically how to apply this principle in order to cultivate a network of endless referral business. In fact, by the time you leave this event you will have a complete action plan ready for immediate application and success.

For more information and to register, please click here.

Before that, though, check out this special interview that Kristopher McCrone, the founder of Interdependent Coaching, conducted with Burg about the program:

Fundamentals falter … But fears fade

Bob Leggett, CFA, Senior Investment Strategist, FirstMerit Wealth Management Services

Every quarter, FirstMerit sends a newsletter to all its wealth management clients. In the Fall 2012 edition, Bob Leggett, CFA, Senior Investment Strategist, FirstMerit Wealth Management Services, discusses the year-long battle between fears and fundamentals.

Here’s an excerpt from the newsletter:

For the past year, we have been harping on the need to downplay fears and focus on fundamentals. Our point was that fundamentals were at least okay and might actually surprise the consensus to the upside. The fears were not unreasonable, but appeared to us to have low probabilities of occurring within our tactical time horizon. Thus, a total focus on the downside risks of fearsome outcomes (such as a U.S. recession, the Fiscal Cliff, the European crisis, or a China hard landing) could — and did — cause many investors to miss the opportunity to participate in a bull market.

Market returns were very good through Q3 and the S&P 500 led the way with a 16.4 percent total return. Midsized and smaller stocks were up about 14 percent and despite U.S. Dollar strength and European leadership’s determination to shoot themselves in the foot, EAFE was +10 percent and Emerging Markets +12 percent. Fixed Income returns weren’t bad either (although Treasury returns were only low single-digits), as “spread product” such as Corporates (+7.1 percent) and High Yield (+12.1 percent) continued to do well. Somewhat ominously, TIPS did much better than non-inflation protected Treasuries.

Read the entire newsletter here: 10629_Fall2012_MM_r4

Bob Leggett, CFA, is the Senior Investment Strategist at FirstMerit Wealth Management Services. Reach him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @firstmerit_mkt.

People first

Kim Murphy, Vice President of Employee Benefits, InfoCision

When visiting one of InfoCision’s offices, you’ll notice more than the tables, chairs and water cooler found in a typical workplace. It is not out of the ordinary to pass a yoga class practicing downward dog, a physician scribbling a prescription or a preschool class reciting the alphabet.

While these scenes may be out of place in many employers’ offices, InfoCision has worked hard to make them a staple. The company recognizes its employees are the heart of its business, so it focuses on recruiting and retaining them with a variety of amenities and benefits, says Kim Murphy, vice president of employee benefits at InfoCision.

“We strive to give our employees a work-life balance,” Murphy says. “We want to provide opportunities for employees to handle things like exercising at work so when they go home, they can focus on their families. And we believe that contributes to a happier, healthier employee.”

Amenities include:

  • InfoFitness centers: These 1,500- to 2,000-square-foot gyms include top-of-the-line equipment such as treadmills, elliptical machines and recumbent bicycles. The centers also offer classes such as aerobics or yoga, and are open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. They are free for InfoCision employees and family members covered under the company’s health plans. Many InfoCision employees and even entire departments attend classes together. “My department works through lunch, then at 4 p.m. we all go down as a group,” Murphy says. “It’s nice to have that support — on the days when you don’t want to go, you have your coworkers pushing you, and it makes it a lot easier.”
  • InfoWellness clinics and programs: InfoCision provides on-site doctors for both employees and family members regardless if they participate in its health plans. The company also has a prescription concierge service so employees don’t need to run out to pick up their medications. Other wellness programs include free smoking-cessation programs and subsidized weight-loss programs.
  • InfoKids Early Learning Center: This fully licensed child care center at InfoCision’s corporate headquarters in Akron can care for more than 90 children ages 6 weeks to 14 years. The center offers summer programs, two infant rooms and toddler and preschool rooms, play areas, educational toys and computers. It provides a creative curriculum education model. InfoCision’s satellite call centers offer subsidized child care options.
  • InfoCision Management Corporate University: Geared toward salaried staff who have a clear path of advancement within the company, IMCU offers free or discounted workforce development through on-site programs as well as outside classes and workshops through the University of Akron and other local institutions.
  • Employee assistance program: InfoCision provides employees with a toll-free number to call for financial advice or free counseling sessions for anything from a death in the family to a divorce. The employee receives recommended local counseling services, and he or she can use the services as much as he or she needs.
  • On-site delis: InfoCision’s Café 5 on-site delis offer healthy hot and cold meals, snacks and gourmet coffee. In addition, InfoCision’s vending machines now offer healthy choices.

InfoCision also offers a comprehensive benefits package for both salaried and hourly employees, Murphy says. These benefits are available upon hire and include health care, vision and dental plans, paid holidays, free life and disability insurance, paid personal and vacation time, quarterly bonuses, paid training and tuition reimbursement. InfoCision also offers 401(k) participation after 90 days of employment.

Aside from amenities and benefits, InfoCision also strives to create a work environment in which employees can excel. “For as big as we’ve gotten, we still have a family feel,” Murphy says.

“It starts when you enter the front doors and the receptionist greets you like you’re family even if you’ve never been here before. We also have a newsletter for employees every month, and our executives speak regularly to our employees and are open for questions or available to talk afterwards. That open communication really makes a big difference.”

InfoCision also has a group that travels to its facilities and speaks with employees about what’s happening at the company and in the workplace. This program, in conjunction with an employee suggestion box, is meant to provide an open forum for employees to voice ideas or concern.

“We have an open-door policy,” Murphy says. “Our employees have the opportunity to speak to not only to their supervisors and team leaders — as our supervisor to communicator ratio is one to nine — but our executives as well. That’s not something that’s typically found at other companies, but we believe it is a key part of recruitment and retention.”

For more information on employee benefits and amenities, contact Kim Murphy at [email protected] or visit

Goodwill of North Georgia: Redefining the nonprofit

Goodwill of North Georgia isn’t your average nonprofit organization.

It is older than most corporations in the North Georgia area and among the fastest-growing Goodwill organizations in the country.

Between 2000 and 2012, the organization grew from 558 employees serving 491,000 donors at 25 locations to 2,425 employees serving more than 2 million donors at 124 locations. Goodwill helped find employment opportunities for 844 people in 2000 to more than 10,000 in 2012. And its revenue increased from $18 million to $113 million in that same time period, a 527 percent increase in a little more than a decade.

To better understand the organization that has been serving the community for so long, Smart Business partnered with Goodwill of North Georgia to learn about and evaluate its services and business model.

A strategic approach

Goodwill of North Georgia’s mission is to put people to work, and this mission is interwoven into everything it does. The framework begins with a strategic planning process that outlines its goals for the following five years. It’s this planning process that predicts its growth, determines its efficiencies, defines its processes and provides the proper services to partner with employers to provide the job opportunities to those it serves.

Goodwill of North Georgia is the first donated-goods business in the world to hold the International Organization for Standardization 9001, 14001 and 18001 registrations. ISO 9001 is a standard that provides a set of requirements for quality management systems. ISO 14001 is an environmental management system that helps Goodwill of North Georgia reduce its impact on the environment. And ISO 18001 specifies requirements for implementing an occupational health and safety management system. These registrations confirm the high quality and dedication of the organization.

Business overview

All Goodwills throughout the world are members of Goodwill Industries International Inc., which comprises 165 Goodwill organizations in North America and 14 Goodwill affiliate organizations around the world. Individual Goodwills are given the freedom to design the services and programs to meet the unique needs of their local communities.

Goodwill of North Georgia has chosen to focus on driving revenue through its donation centers and stores so it can put more people to work through job training, job placement and job creation. Among all Goodwills, Goodwill of North Georgia ranks fifth in total revenue, fourth in donated goods retail revenue and fifth in the number of people it has helped find jobs, illustrating this focus has been successful.

In its donor services segment, the organization collects donated clothing and household items and sells them in its retail stores. Goodwill of North Georgia operates 41 stores and more than 60 donation centers. In fiscal year 2012, it processed 1.7 million donations and served more than 4.8 million customers while continuing to grow by adding 14 new locations and 156 new positions.

The facilities services segment of the organization cleans about 5 million square feet of space each day in the North Georgia area and generates more than $15 million in revenue a year. About 80 percent of employees in this segment have disabilities, and Goodwill gives these individuals an opportunity to obtain employment. This business provides top-notch facility management services to federal, state and local governments and the commercial real estate market and has been doing so for more than 30 years.

Goodwill of North Georgia’s career services segment serves not only individuals looking for work but also employers looking for talent. It helped put more than 10,000 people to work at an average wage of $9.86 per hour in fiscal 2012. Proving its dedication to its mission of putting people to work, the organization steadily increases the number of people it puts to work annually and is on track to put another 12,000 people to work by 2014.

Like any shrewd business, Goodwill operates its programs and services with an outcome in mind. The important outcome is how many people are now employed in the community; it does it by tailoring its services to meet the needs of employers within the community.

Business partnerships

Goodwill of North Georgia is committed to working with businesses of all types and sizes on a variety of projects. The organization is the go-to employee source for many businesses, and because of its stellar reputation and success in the community, it receives word of many job openings before they are posted publicly.

Goodwill of North Georgia has become known for the shared value it provides for both the community and businesses. These businesses receive workers who are fully trained and ready to work, and the workers receive a job that enables them to provide for their families and the greater community.

Besides hiring Goodwill of North Georgia’s program participants, companies throughout the area provide on-the-job training or utilize the organization’s training and employment resources. And Goodwill of North Georgia is open to other business partnerships that promote its goal of developing and strengthening its community.

Building cash reserves

Goodwill of North Georgia runs its business with a focus on building cash reserves of at least 30 percent of its annual revenue.

This strategy enables the organization to adroitly plan for anything that would be disruptive to the business. It has also made Goodwill of North Georgia one of the few nonprofits that was able to grow and expand during the recession.

Its business model also allows Goodwill of North Georgia to continue growing — as people outgrow the use of their items, they donate them. And at the same time, they need items, so they visit the organization’s stores to purchase them.

One of the misconceptions of nonprofits is they are not focused on operating cost-effectively and efficiently. This could not be further from the truth with Goodwill of North Georgia. The organization is focused on generating revenue and using it in a way that makes it a good steward of generous donations. It constantly looks for ways to reduce costs and live up to the highest standards of quality.

Maximizing efficiency through decentralization

Goodwill of North Georgia is one of the few Goodwill organizations in the country that is decentralized. The organization analyzed its internal processes to find ways to be even more efficient. Now it takes in donations at all of its individual locations and processes all donations to sell within 24 hours.

The organization greatly attributes its growth to this keen business strategy. It allows it to be more efficient because it is processing donations and getting them out for sale more quickly. It also saves on the costs of transporting the goods from various stores to a separate location and back again and on staffing for a separate location.

This process is more efficient and environmentally friendly. Shoppers at Goodwill of North Georgia’s stores are essentially buying their neighbors’ clothes, and the money and goods stay in the community.

Goodwill of North Georgia applies the decentralization philosophy to its career centers, as well. Instead of one central career center, Goodwill of North Georgia has many centers spread across its territory, making it more convenient for those who use the services and therefore enabling it to put more people to work.

Business processes drive results

Goodwills around the world are known for their donation centers and retail stores. However, not everyone knows the power of those donations and what goes on behind the scenes.

Goodwill’s stores are stocked with the items people donate. The proceeds from these sales support the operation of the organization’s career centers and other programs, which fulfills its mission of putting people to work.

Donations add up. For every nine shirts or blouses donated, Goodwill is able to provide one hour of resume preparation. For every chair donated, Goodwill is able to provide 12 minutes of career counseling. Donations have a huge impact on the organization and the communities Goodwill serves.

Because of this, Goodwill of North Georgia continually evaluates its stores to ensure they are operating as efficiently and effectively as possible. As times change, it quickly adapts and responds to ensure it is still meeting the needs of its community. The organization takes good business practices that work well in its best-performing stores and implements them in its other stores. This standardizes the stores so they all have the same processes and makes it easier for both employees, who can easily relocate from one store to another, and shoppers, who can visit different locations and expect the same great quality and service.

Goodwill of North Georgia makes donating easy and convenient in other ways, as well. It has an area of its website ( where individuals, businesses or organizations can choose to donate money. If the donor desires, these contributions can go to a specific program. If the donor does not specify a use for the money, the board of directors selects a program.

And donations don’t have to be tangible — Goodwill of North Georgia also has volunteers who help the organization as placement call specialists, computer support assistants, class instructors, job fair support staff and more.

What happens to donated goods?

Goodwill of North Georgia accepts a wide variety of goods, including:

  • Bicycles
  • Books
  • CDs
  • Clothing
  • Computers
  • Dishes
  • DVDs
  • Pots and pans
  • Stereos
  • TVs
  • Video games and systems

Goodwill of North Georgia is grateful for all of its donations and does not waste them. Items that aren’t up to the organization’s quality standards or cannot be sold within three weeks are offered for sale to the secondary/salvage market.

Great business practices equal great opportunities

Goodwill of North Georgia provides job training opportunities for a wide demographic across 45 counties, including youth, veterans, people with disabilities and people with limited education, although its career centers are open to anyone.

Goodwill of North Georgia has eight career centers that are free and open to the public. The centers offer weekly listings of local job opportunities often not found online or in the newspaper, computers with Internet access and resume writing software, phones and fax machines to arrange appointments and communicate with employers, a resource library with materials to help job seekers prepare for and secure employment and other resources such as coaching and interview tips. These services are critical to the community as many job seekers need the extra help in securing a job.

Goodwill of North Georgia also offers training programs at these centers, including programs for single mothers, noncustodial parents and other niche groups, and also offers certification programs, such as programs for forklift operators and apartment maintenance technicians. Workers who have attended these training programs have impressed many employers with their knowledge, perseverance and professionalism.

Talented, passionate staff and volunteers who provide guidance, coaching and strategies on job hunting operate these centers.

These services are particularly important because of the current economic climate. Many workers, especially skilled and semiskilled workers who have been affected by the loss of jobs or reduced hours, need the career assistance Goodwill of North Georgia provides.

In response, Goodwill of North Georgia ramped up its training offerings, working through weekends and holidays to solidify its mission of putting people to work.

Focus on the future

Goodwill of North Georgia ensures its employees are cognizant of its mission — putting people to work. The mission is posted and visible in its stores and career centers and is communicated during meetings and visits by executives. This communication ensures employees feel connected to the organization and are reminded of the importance of their work.

The organization also engages its employees in its strategic planning process. Goodwill of North Georgia has a volunteer board of directors, executive staff and more than 100 other managers engaged in some level of strategic planning.

Also, when a new store opens, Goodwill of North Georgia President Ray Bishop personally meets with its employees to discuss the organization’s planning process and why the stores exist. Employees are encouraged to read and understand the 5-year Strategic Plan and then ask questions.

This method of engagement is a main reason the organization has been so successful. A thoroughly followed, reviewed and communicated plan is critical to an organization’s success, and Goodwill of North Georgia’s method of creating and utilizing its plan is on par with some of the top businesses in the world.


Goodwill of North Georgia is effectively and efficiently run and well positioned for the years ahead. The community-based organization owes its success to a dedicated strategic planning process and commitment to excellence and execution at all levels of the organization.

Its current plan calls for it to double its size and revenue from 2010 to 2014, and it is on target to do so. The organization plans to open five new stores a year and each new store will employ about 40 people. It also plans to add one career center per year. Each career center increases the number of people the organization serves by an average of 3,000 and the individuals it puts to work by an average of 650.

The bottom line: Goodwill of North Georgia’s services and programs put people to work. It is an experienced and capable organization that operates with an effective business model, uses its resources well and focuses on bettering the North Georgia community.

HOW TO REACH: Goodwill of North Georgia, 235 Peachtree St. NE, Atlanta, GA 30303. Phone: (404) 420-9900. Website:

Finding customers on the move

Mike White, Chief Technology Officer, InfoCision

More marketers see mobile texts growing as an effective campaign tool especially for local efforts. A couple numbers illuminate the reality and the potential for success:

  • 6.1 trillion text messages sent annually — an average of 200,000 per second — according to The International Telecommunication Union, the United Nations agency for information and communication technology.
  • Response time is usually measured in seconds or minutes. Corresponding lag time for email and voicemail messages average several hours.

Smart Business spoke with Michael White, chief technology officer at InfoCision, about the rise of mobile text marketing and how it is changing the call center business.

What factors drive the growth in text marketing?

Definitely the rise in the number of mobile devices. And, with the new generation, texting is how they communicate. It’s the new demographic. Also, there are some statistics out there that show that the age group for people who text is widening. It’s not just the 18-to-29-year-olds now. It’s the 30-to-40-year-olds and the 50-to-60-year-olds that are starting to text as well. So it’s becoming very commonplace out there.

How is the growth in mobile text marketing affecting the call center business?

We look at it from a service bureau perspective. We are handling calls on behalf of our clients, and what we’re seeing is that as we contact people through our traditional channels, people also want to be contacted via other methods.

As the types of communication channels change and options expand, we’re also finding people respond to texts a lot more readily than they respond to other forms of communication. I’ve seen statistics that show 90 percent of texts get opened and read within 15 minutes of being sent.

Texting is becoming a type of marketing that is exploding in popularity because of the growing percent of the population who have cell phones or mobile devices. As we see that proliferation, as a call center vendor, we need to be able to have that channel available to our clients so they can communicate with their customers or donors.

What changes are call centers making to capitalize on text marketing?

The main thing is they need to have a provider or in-house platform that is capable of sending and receiving SMS messages. (SMS, or short message service, is a standardized communication protocol that enables the exchange of text messages between fixed line and mobile phone devices.) It’s basically a tool set and call centers need to have the right tools to provide the service.

Why has InfoCision chosen to make this investment?

It’s another option for how our clients can reach out to their customers. In addition, because it’s a very new and emerging space, where we’re finding significantly higher response rates.

Michael White is the Chief Technology Officer at InfoCision. Reach him at (330) 668-1400 or [email protected]

What to look for in an advisor

Joseph R. Ramey, CPA, Senior Manager of Accounting Tax Services, Zinner & Co. LLP

When becoming a business owner, trustee or beneficiary of a trust, or executor of an estate, there comes a time when seeking out a professional advisor is necessary. But where do you even begin to find that right advisor with all the necessary attributes?

In most situations, for example becoming a trustee, executor or business owner, an advisory team is needed because the specialties of each advisor are unique. There are several common qualities to look for in any advisor that will be the perfect fit for your team.

Smart Business spoke with Joseph R. Ramey, CPA, a Senior Manager of Accounting Tax Services at Zinner & Co. LLP, about the qualities you should look for.

Technical Strengths and Credentials

These qualities are fairly straightforward, and typically an advisor will display their credentials and area(s) of specialty on their website. When evaluating their technical expertise, look at their speaking engagements and for articles written in the specialty areas that are important to your situation and background. For example, if you just became an executor of an estate, you want to find an attorney that not only focuses on estate and probate, but also speaks on the topic and has authored articles in that area. Lastly, it is also important to note any professional groups or boards in which they participate; this will help in understanding how current they are in what is going on in their specialty.


The best way to start looking for an advisor is by talking with your family and friends who may know or currently have trusted advisors. If your close circles of acquaintances are able to refer someone they work with, then you will have more comfort in knowing how that advisor will work with you as well. Another good referral source is your own current advisors from other professions. For example, if you are in need of an investment advisor, contact your accountant or attorney and see if they have a recommendation for you.


Sometimes the most important quality to evaluate and assess in an advisor is their personality. The most technically sound professional may not be the right fit because of differences in personalities. Always meet face-to-face with a potential advisor and evaluate how they speak with you and how you feel when you talk with them. If you walk away scratching your head trying to figure out what they were talking about, they may not be the right advisor for you.

At Zinner & Co., we maintain a vast network of professionals in various fields and are always able to recommend an advisor that will work best with you. Our Exclusive Service Provider Program (ESP) is a group of the “best of the best” advisors in their respected fields, which allows us to deliver a pre-screened list of quality referrals to our clients based on their specific needs.

Joseph R. Ramey, CPA, is a Senior Manager of Accounting Tax Services at Zinner & Co. LLP. Reach him at (216) 831-0733 or [email protected]