Newsclips Featured

9:44am EDT July 22, 2002
NewsclipsManufacturers vs. dot-coms: Round One

Investors court Internet start-ups like drunken sailors on leave from six months at sea chase fast women in the cheap part of town. They ignore the manufacturing segment – the sturdy, reliable, if not outwardly stylish, women with solid character. Those manufacturers have begun a quiet rebellion, launching a verbal war against the young up-starts.

Steven Hardis, chairman and CEO of Eaton Corp., fired a round at Internet investors while speaking at the Association for Corporate Growth’s 4th Annual Deal Maker Awards program in January. The company’s average 17.5 percent growth simply can’t compete with dot-com companies. Without mentioning any specific company, although Amazon.com, which delivers lofty stock prices and negative cash flow comes to mind, Hardis said: “We apologize for generating earnings and making cash.”

Round Two

Bill Sanford, president and CEO of Steris Corp., lobbed a second mortar round while addressing a gathering at the World Trade Center Cleveland annual members meeting. Sanford is often asked about the company’s less than stellar stock performance of late.

“There has been a lot of money diverted from good companies,” he says. With all the sarcasm he could muster, he related his company’s five “problems:”

1. The company is mid-sized.

2. Steris actually manufactures something.

3. The company makes a profit.

4. It generates cash.

5. Steris does not have dot-com in its name.

The bottom line: “We’re much more than a Web site,” Sanford says.

Energy efficient

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will recognize small businesses and organization that cut costs through energy efficiency. You can nominate yourself, your vendors or any small business, but there are requirements. Your facility must be 100,000 square feet or less and may not be in the energy equipment industry.

The business “should be practicing exemplary energy efficiency that translates into real dollar savings.” Those who have shown creative and innovative solutions are encouraged to enter. To enter, call (888) STAR YES or visit the Energy Star Small Business Web site at www.epa.gov/smalbiz.

How do you say “sold” in German

So you’ve been to eBay to buy the one comic book missing from your Spiderman collection. Or maybe you were looking to purchase a gross of ping pong balls. Or maybe finding the right small business to buy is on your mind. eBay, the wildly successful Internet auction house, has begun selling small businesses on its German Web site, www.eBayPro.de, alongside the rest of the world’s attic treasures. So what’s the opening bid on Microsoft?

Youthful giving

Don’t tell Gen Xers they don’t care. The Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers polled members of the Young Entrepreneurs’ Organization and found that more than half of the respondents indicated they were “significantly involved” in the work of nonprofits. In addition, 44 percent felt those nonprofits adequately addressed the issues and causes they cared about.

The right touch

Jack Hayes, president of Connecting Touch Therapy and Wellness Center Inc. and a winner of the Pillar Award for Community Service, was selected to receive the 1999 Sam Walton Business Leader Award. The award, sponsored by the Wal-Mart Foundation and locally by Sam’s Club of Fairlawn, is presented to business leaders who show exceptional commitment to the community, respect for individuals, service to customers and commitment to excellence.

Training your work force

It’s quite a dilemma: Your work force is lacking the latest skills and it costs so much to send them for training that you’re not sure you can afford it. But they’re good workers, and you don’t want to let them go. The State of Ohio may have a solution.

Gov. Bob Taft has announced employers can receive a tax credit of up to $100,000 per year (until 2003) to pay for the increased expenses of training employees who are at risk of losing their jobs due to skill deficiencies or the inability to use new technologies. Diminished skills, huh? Now that sounds familiar.

Getting a life

Gone are the days of chaining your employees to the desk. During the past five years, more and more companies are instituting progressive work/life benefits. Whether its telecommuting, flextime or subsidized day care, 63 percent of companies have somewhat or significantly increased these types of benefits, according to a study from RHI Management Resources, a division of Robert Half International Inc. The rest of the companies polled are simply falling behind the times.

Economic sprawl

In another sign that Northeast Ohio’s regional economy is strong, business owners in Lake County say they’ve got growth on their wish list this year. Nearly 60 percent of Lake County businesses reported that they intend to hire more employees during calendar year 2000, according to a survey by Sequoia Realty. A hearty 54 percent say they plan to expand their workspace. So much for those Y2K worries.

Sign here, please

If you’ve ever pined for a signing bonus and haven’t received one, you may be in the wrong profession. Even with Y2K mediation assignments drying up, IT professionals continue to lead the way in signing bonuses, joining senior executives as the top two positions to receive that little something extra when they sign on the dotted line.

A recent survey, conducted by RHI Consulting, found that 36 percent of CIOs in Northeast Ohio offer signing bonuses at both staff and management levels to recruit top IT candidates. Most of the bonuses, however, come with a caveat — employees must remain with the company for a specified period of time. How long that time period is, though, depends on the employer.

Close the ranks

Do you know where you stand with your employees? Do they listen to you, or is there a serious communications gap in your firm? The problem may have absolutely nothing to do with your verbal communication skills, and simply may be a problem of a lack of proximity.

“Get closer to your workers,” suggests Robert Pater, a nationally known management author who’s studied the relationship between distance and effectiveness. “It’s all about physical and emotional leverage. The closer you are to what you’re trying to move, the easier. Physical proximity breaks down barriers. Making contact is the first step toward a positive influence on employees.”

Pater suggests moving your office closer to your staff. It’s fine, he says, to have an official office, but at the very least, place a workstation near your employees. It’s a simple matter of physics: Studies show that the closer two objects are to one another, the greater force they exert on each other. Similar studies show that the closer two offices are, the more communication occurs.

Priority shift

With more businesses culling prospective employees through the Internet, HR managers find themselves inundated with electronic job applications. Enter Web-Screen, created by Pittsburgh-based Development Dimensions International (www.ddiworld.com). Web-Screen enables HR managers to add a customized tool to their companies’ Web sites that automatically orients, qualifies, screens and responds to candidates based on parameters determined by the company. And, it does it 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The program takes Internet recruitment to the next level by accurately qualifying the ever-enlarging candidate pool and pushing the most qualified to the top. More important, HR managers won’t have to spend countless hours wading through thousands of resumes and can devote that energy toward more pressing matters ... like health care issues.

Size doesn’t matter The owners of upstart Western Reserve Brewing will unveil their new Bockzilla brand on March 11 at Cleveland’s Natural History Museum. The clever marketing plan to unleash the company’s new giant lizard inspired brew at midnight in the museum’s Dinosaur Hall is also a way of giving back to the community, assures Western Reserve co-founder Andrew Craze.

“The presence of the Natural History Museum had a profound effect on forming how I think about and respect the environment,” he says.

Tickets for the event are $20 per person and available through the museum’s ticket office.

Back in the fray

When we last checked with Amherst businessman Dave Moore, he was all smiles after his successful campaign to get city Law Director Allan Anderson booted out of office. That was spurred by a lengthy tax dispute involving the company he founded, Crystal Mortgage, over a generally inconsequential amount of money (featured in October 1999’s SBN.)

Since then, Moore has stepped down from his job as CEO and started a new mortgage company, Lenders Diversified. His taste of city politics must have had a lasting effect — he’s also running for Lorain County commissioner on the Republican ticket.

Play on words

Need some help deciding on a name for that product you’ve been working on for the past year? A free Web site may be just what you need to guide you down the path to prosperity. Two writers founded www.wordlab.com to be essentially a giant brainstorming session among you and, well, a bunch of strangers.

Post an idea on the site’s Wordboard and visitors, or even the site’s founders themselves, will chime in with suggestions. Consider a recent inquiry about what to name a new gourmet dog treat. Among the 13 responses posted were woof wafers and dog perignon. The site’s creators ask only that you make sure no one else has a legal right to the name you choose and that people who find business inspiration at the site drop a simple e-mail of thanks.

The force was with him

When Cedar Point executives turned to Lucasfilm in 1990 for help with a television spot for the Sandusky amusement park’s then-new Disaster Transport ride, they got an unexpected hands-on tour through movie history. It turns out a special effects technician for the commercial was one of George Lucas’ old hands on the original “Star Wars” movie.

One afternoon, Cedar Point Marketing Director John Hildebrandt and a few other theme parks execs were rounded up for a field trip to an old warehouse where scores of pop culture icons created by the sci-fi film were housed in all their dusty glory.

“I held Luke Skywalker’s light saber,” Hildebrandt recently recalled with glee at a downtown luncheon, still thrilled 10 years later about his brush with movie greatness.

A glue-free future

In the four months following the U.S. Postal Service’s August 1999 go-ahead for PC postage, U.S. small businesses and home offices spent $8.2 million on the product, and industry insiders say this is just the opening act. Market research by Massachusetts-based IDC, a IT consulting firm, shows spending on electronic postage will approach $300 million and is expected to hit $600 million by the end of 2001. With numbers like these, how long can it be until the lick and stick postage stamp goes the way of the eight-track tape player?

A word from the sponsor ...

Westlake’s SEAGREY Recruiting & Retention Inc. is doing an end run around the scores of career boards on the Web and bringing job prospects straight to the living rooms of Northeast Ohio through more traditional means — the television. SEAGREY’s “Career Minute” spots feature three area companies which have positions available.

The targeted spots, which run on Newschannel 5, are not only geared toward the couch potato. There is also a weekly lineup of radio spots and a special section on the television station’s Web site where job seekers can check view a schedule of upcoming broadcasts.

New business-help center opens

The U.S. Small Business Administration and KeyBank recently teamed up to open a multimedia center geared toward the needs of small business owners and prospective entrepreneurs. The Business Information Center — the first of its kind in Northeast Ohio — offers a wealth of free information available through videotapes, computer software, the Internet and an extensive library.

The center, at 1720 Playhouse Square, also offers free individual business counseling from members of The Service Corps of Retired Executives. It’s open Monday-Friday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Value-added home buying

In a step to gain a competitive edge when it comes to the service side of home sales, Cleveland’s Realty One has created a value package for home buyers that includes $1,000 in discounts from national retailers and concierge services that make moving easier. As part of the program, Realty One employees inform electric, gas, water, cable television and phone companies of a customer’s move-in date and new address to provide a one-step moving experience.

“We feel this program gives Realty One the perfect opportunity to differentiate itself from a service standpoint,” says Realty One President Anthony Ciepiel. “No one else in the industry is going this direction to save customers time and money.”

Overseas expansion

Bedford Heights-based Sparkle International Inc., a leading franchiser of mobile, on-site, power cleaning, restoration and preservation companies, recently announced the formation of a third Sparkle Wash franchise in South Korea. Sparkle Wash has rapidly grown in national and international markets over the past several decades and provides power cleaning to everything from truck fleets to amusement parks. Fifteen people are employed at the company’s Bedford Heights headquarters, which operates two company-owned franchises serving Cuyahoga, Southern Geauga and Lorain counties.