Newsclips Featured

9:34am EDT July 22, 2002
Syndrome X

Insulin resistance syndrome, or Syndrome X, has been marked as a warning sign for Adult-Onset diabetes or Type II Diabetes, a disease that has increased 77 percent in recent years. In response, Club Olympia on Center Ridge Road in Westlake has created a lifestyle program specifically to help ward off Syndrome X, usually marked by obesity and above normal cholesterol and blood sugar levels. The program focuses on nutrition, aerobic exercise and resistance training.

"One-third of all Americans are clinically obese," says club owner Mike Furci. "Our customized nutrition and work-out programs promote weight loss, which ultimately improves insulin insensitivity."

E-Test prep

While test preparation courses are common for college entrance and graduate school exams, there are few options for those seeking to bone up before a job entrance exam. Learning Express, which has published test prep and career information books since 1995, launched LearnATest.com, a Web site to help those interested in a career in the safety forces, military and other professions get a head start on the entrance exams.

"There are millions of people every year whose career hopes ride on a standardized entrance or certification test to the profession they've chosen," says Barry Lippman, president of LearningExpress. "Most people have no effective way of preparing for or improving their scores."

While mostly geared for public sector jobs now, the site will be expanded to include entrance exams for real estate certification, health care and civil service. Practice test prices range from $19.95 to $39.95, depending on the test.

Kid-driven innovation

Cleveland-based Creativity for Kids unveiled 14 new "kid-tested" arts and crafts kits in September, bringing the total to 49 new products it has released this year, with one more to be unveiled soon.

Co-founder Evelyn Greenwald says the key to the company's growth is innovation.

"In this time of television and computers, parents look to us for alternative activities for children that allow them to expand the scope of their experience."

Co-founder Phyllis Brody adds, "It's important for kids to use their hands to create, to paint, sew and even make cosmetics. It helps them learn and grow and they feel proud of what they make."

Flight Options soars

Cleveland-based Flight Options, the only national provider of pre-owned fractional jet aircraft, announced that it sold 26.5 percent of the total fractional aircraft shares sold in the industry in the first seven months of 2000, according to an independent market research firm. Flight Options ranked second among all fractional aircraft ownership programs, just under Executive Jet/NetJets, which claimed 28 percent of shares sold.

Executive Jet/NetJets is owned by multibillionaire Warren Buffett and recently opened its new operational headquarters in Columbus. Flight Options specializes in bring pre-owned jets to the fractional ownership market. The company has 80 airplanes in its fleet and was a 2000 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year Award recipient.

A hero in our midst

The American Red Cross of Greater Cleveland has recognized Ken Keeler as a Red Cross Hero for his work on the LifeSkills Program. To receive the award, Keeler showed "extraordinary courage, compassion, character or humanity and saved or improved the lives of other local residents." LifeSkills is a series of mini workshops that provide knowledge and skills regarding employment, resource management and housing.Where do we rank?

Twelve companies headquartered in Greater Cleveland are on Fortune magazine's 1999 list of the top 500 U.S. corporations, ranking the area 10th among the nation's markets in the number of Fortune 500 headquarters. Further, the Cleveland-Akron Metropolitan Statistical Area is home to 113 companies with revenue of $100 million or more.

Balancing the bottom line

What's the most critical aspect to keep your business growing in the next two years? According to a survey of CFOs by RHI Management Resources, reducing expenses tops the list, although not by a wide margin. Thirty-one percent of CFOs rated reducing expenses as the most critical task for keeping their business growing, followed by expanding operations (27 percent), recruiting and hiring (25 percent), implementing e-commerce solutions (7 percent) and launching a new product or service (7 percent).

Top models

Decksmith Structures Inc. has been named to Remodeling magazine's Top 500 Remodeler's list for the fifth consecutive year. The Painesville-based company, which specializes in decks, patios, gazebos, sunrooms and enclosures, has offices on the east and west sides of Cleveland, Akron and Columbus.

For the sake of service

Harris InfoSource has announced the release of the first Harris Ohio Services Database, a listing of more than 20,000 service companies throughout Ohio. The compilation includes numerous industries: communications, transportation, banking/finance, medical, education, construction, consulting, legal, restaurant and retail. Twinsburg-based Harris InfoSource is also the publisher of a database listing Ohio manufacturers. For more information, contact Michael Goldstein at (800) 888-5900, ext. 2385, or e-mail services@HarrisInfo.com.

What traits lead to success?

The most important characteristic for successful leaders is dependability, according to the "Trendicator Survey" by Resource Development Co. Inc. Following dependability, characteristics that define successful leaders are:

2.) forward-looking

3.) honest

4.) competent

5.) inspiring

6.) trusting

7.) fair-minded

8.) focused

9.) problem solver and

10.) determined.

Cleveland loses its Madison Avenue

Madison Avenue West, a marketing communications agency, has merged with Youngstown-based Farris & Associates. Both organizations are changing their names to Farris Marketing. The reason behind the merger is a common one: "To offer our clients more services and more experience than each could on an individual basis," says Madison Avenue West President Dean Michaels, who will become the new company's chief creative officer.

E-mail those resumes

The most popular way to receive resumes is online. Two years ago, a scant 4 percent of executives preferred to receive resumes electronically. Today, that number is 48 percent. Twenty-one percent opt for snail mail (the same as in 1998). Resumes by fax ranks as the third most popular method at 11 percent, followed by in person with 1 percent. If you are one of those who don't care how you get a resume as long as someone shows up to work, you're not alone. Nineteen percent of executives don't care how they get their prospective employees.

A grant that hits home

The Applewood Centers Inc., a not-for-profit agency that helps children and families with emotional problems and family issues, has received a $250,000 grant from the Eva L. and Joseph M. Bruening Foundation to provide independent living for youth who have never been adopted and are too old to stay in foster care.

Making it safe

Louis Paisley, Of Counsel and retired partner with Weston Hurd Fallon Paisley & Howley LLP, has been awarded the SBC Award of Excellence by the National Crime Prevention Council in Washington, D.C. Paisley, who as president of the Cleveland Bar Association formed the Task Force on Violent Crime, was one of eight community leaders in the country to receive recognition for work in preventing crime and building safer communities.

3...2...1...Blast off

Mining information over the Net can be a time-consuming task if you don't know where to look. InfoRocket.com (www.inforocket.com), a question-and-answer Web site, hopes to fill that need by connecting people who have questions to the people with answers in a virtual person-to-person auction marketplace.

When you consider that 40 percent of adult users use the Internet for work research and 35 percent of the student population uses the Internet for homework or research for school, the need to quickly find answers becomes even more important. And, when you consider the cost of the average business owner's time, wasting hours on the Web is certainly not cost effective.

The business model seems to be working. Earlier this year, InfoRocket.com was the fifth fastest growing Web site for the month of March, according to PC Data Online, the leader in gathering information on Web traffic and e-commerce. According to PC Data Online, unique visitors to the site increased by 860 percent from February. According to Media Metrix, InfoRocket.com had 1.1 million unique visitors in April.

More than a hefty name

Recognizing the need for consistent branding on the Internet, BrandMuscle LLC (www.brandmuscle.com) opened its Cleveland offices in September, offering Web-based brand management solutions. Since the proliferation of the Internet, branding has been one of the most difficult challenges for businesses looking to stake out the right real estate and be profitable.

BrandMuscle's concept is simple: It enables advertisers and their partners to easily and securely control advertising assembly, versioning, reporting (such as co-op management) and digital assets hosted at one location.

That solves a central issue business owners have discovered on the Net. Explains CEO and founder Philip Alexander, "How do you allow your franchisees and local dealers and distributors the flexibility to tell their unique story while maintaining the corporate brand image?"

At the local level, franchisees and distributors can access the system to customize their advertisements by selecting from preapproved images, coupons and customer locations without compromising the integrity of the brand.

Located in Cleveland, initial seed capital for BrandMuscle was provided by the Reach Internet Incubator in Boston.

Virtual lessons 2.0

Ontimetraining.com recently inked an alliance deal with Bobit Publishing (www.bobit.com) that allows the Streetsboro-based Web training firm to develop training Web sites for Bobit's line of business publications. Bobit publishes Auto Rental News and F&I Management & Technology, as well as several other business magazines.

Ontimetraining (www.ontimetraining.com) also launched a network and training portal for real estate agents called the RE Zone (www.Rezone.com). The company has inked deals with 22 state associations from the National Association of Realtors, which will use the site to offer online realtor training and promote membership.

They said what?

Nearly 42 percent of Ohio's public companies plan to change the way they communicate with investors, according to a statewide survey of corporate investor relations executives conducted by Edward Howard & Co.

The changes are in response to a new disclosure rule issued in August by the SEC -- Regulation FD (Fair Disclosure) -- that prohibits companies from disclosing material, nonpublic information on a selective basis. The new rule requires companies to broadly and simultaneously distribute material information to all investors.

Regulation FD arose because of complaints that research analysts and portfolio managers from large institutions had unfair access to corporate information compared to smaller investors.

According to the survey, most respondents say they expect to provide more information to investors; however, several say they will probably provide less. A small minority even suggested they may no longer take investor phone calls.

"Companies need to be more careful than ever not to discuss material, nonpublic information during a one-on-one meeting or phone conversation," says Kathleen A. Obert, president and CEO of Edward Howard & Co. "In today's environment, the market demands that public companies remain proactive -- especially in the face of change."

An award for an awards presenter

Ernst & Young is well known for its annual Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year Award competition, in which each region within E&Y's service area honors business owners for their ability to grow their companies. Now E&Y is on the other side of the honoree podium. Its Ernst & Young Center for Business Knowledge (CBK) in September was named one of the nation's most innovative users of information technology by Information Week magazine.

CBK is based in E&Y's Cleveland offices, and uses technology to supply its employees and clients with up-to-the minute research information on companies, industry trends, benchmarking studies and leading practices. More than 160 researchers, consultants, technicians and staff investigate hundreds of information requests each day.