Newsclips Featured

9:51am EDT July 22, 2002
What was that name again?

Have you ever wondered if your company’s logo, brand name or trademark has really ingrained itself into the minds of consumers? If you’ve poured millions of dollars into marketing, the answer is probably a resounding, “Yes!”

DayGlo Color Corp., the Cleveland manufacturer of fluorescent-colored pigments, and a subsidiary of RPM Inc., recently undertook a national brand equity study to determine consumer awareness of its DayGlo brand.

The results were eye opening — 42 percent of consumers recognized the DayGlo name.

“We knew that DayGlo is part of American culture, but even we were surprised by the level of awareness,” says Peter Olley, DayGlo’s vice president of marketing. Based on that, Olley maintains, “We see DayGlo becoming a mega-consumer brand within the next five years.”

Speaking of name recognition

The Manco duck is one of the most recognized logos in Northeast Ohio; its image is plastered all over, including on a sign on the road which leads to the Avon-based manufacturer best known for it’s “duck tape” brand products.

But few realize how difficult it was to convince Avon City Council a few years back to allow the last mile of Chester Road, on Manco property, where the sign sits, to have its name changed to Just Imagine Drive.

Jack Kahl, Manco CEO, wanted the road’s name to reflect the company’s innovative philosophy. Recalls Kahl, “I went to city council and they told me that the road was named after a member of the Chester family — who happened to be the first white man to live among the Native Americans in what is now Avon. So I was told I couldn’t change it.”

Never one to take no for an answer, Kahl tracked down Chester’s progeny in Avon and pleaded his case.

“I told them, ‘It’s a four-mile road. You keep three miles and give me the last mile.’”

As usual, Kahl’s persuasiveness triumphed. The family agreed, city council gave in, and the road was renamed Just Imagine Drive.

Happier involvement this time around

It doesn’t seem that long ago that Art Modell fled to Baltimore with the Cleveland Browns, breaking our hearts along the way. In 1995, when that happened, Great Lakes Brewing Co. contributed $1,500 to the Save Our Browns campaign by selling T-shirts with the fabled Brownie holding a pint of Great Lakes beer extorting, “We Want You to keep our Browns in Cleveland.”

Now the Browns are back, Modell is losing money yet again with the Ravens in Baltimore, and GLBC is heralding the Browns again. This time, though, it’s in a much more positive way — with Cleveland Brown Ale. GLBC debuted the beer last month during the Browns’ first appearance in four years at the Hall of Fame Game.

When charity isn’t what it seems

If you donated your car to one of those charities you heard about on the radio and declared a meaty tax deduction on your tax return, an IRS agent could soon be asking you questions. The IRS recently issued a memorandum to its field agents alerting them to closely scrutinize auto donation programs and claimed tax return deductions.

Of particular concern are the contracts between used car dealers and charities, whereby a straight royalty for name use is paid to the charity. The IRS contends that there is no charitable donation in such situations and calls such arrangements “illegal tax shelters” that may jeopardize those charitable organizations’ tax exempt status.

As for the effect on your tax returns, it all depends on whether the car donated met the definition of actual “blue book” value — which refers to cars in good condition — as opposed to one ready to join the junkyard scrap heap.

Rating the intangibles

Northeast Ohio employers frustrated by high turnover in their sales staffs may soon have information to help them set the bar for sales compensation and keep their competitors at bay.

The Employers Resource Council and Deloitte & Touche have teamed up to produce a comprehensive sales compensation survey, which will define how sales and marketing staffs are paid.

The survey will rate commission pay, bonuses, business expenses and special incentives for field sales people, in addition to traditional base pay, says Melissa Cassidy, ERC research center manager.

“Competition is fierce,” she says. “Employers are looking for a variety of different components to assist them in designing attractive sales compensation packages. Base pay is only one factor.”

More than 1,400 Northeast Ohio business owners will participate in the study, Cassidy says. Results will be announced later this month.

Ripe for a takeover

Regional technology firms aren’t the only ones experiencing acquisition fever over the past 18 months. The bug is sweeping through the entire industry, and it isn’t going to stop anytime soon. Nearly 58 percent of tech firm owners say they’re planning at least one new acquisition within the next three years, according to a recent study by PriceWaterhouseCoopers.

As for the other 42 percent, odds are they’re the ones being targeted as potential buys.

Higher pay = bigger smiles

If your employees haven’t been able to wipe the grin off their faces since you announced raises earlier this year, they’re not alone in their joyfulness. U.S. salary increases averaged 4.1 percent in 1999, outpacing inflation by a nearly 3-1 margin. That trend is expected to continue into 2000.

And you thought your company

was wrestling with change

Never in modern history has the word change meant so much to American business owners. More than 8,500 changes occur every day, according to Penton Research Services. Among those daily changes are 3,196 new business incorporations, 2,621 corporations being acquired or going out of business, 704 companies changing their phone number and eight businesses changing names.

Breakdown time could be key sales time

If you’ve ever been to a trade show, you’re probably ready to close down the booth and get out the door as the crowd thins out and the last 30 minutes or so tick off the clock. But don’t hurry to leave, warns a trade show guru.

During the last half hour of a show, 40 to 65 percent of the visitors are power buyers looking to close deals, according to Dr. Allen Konopacki, president of the Incomm Center for Trade Show Research.

For more information on trade show trends, visit www.tradeshowresearch.com.

Dot-com fever

In the rush to add Internet sparkle to their names, a lot of companies are overlooking the bridge between the real and the virtual. Take Dance.com, for instance. The Parma dance club has taken on that catchy name for its bricks-and-mortar location, but someone already beat it to the Web address. And it’s pretty doubtful that that company, $2-billion Boston-based computer-information giant IDG, is going to hand it over anytime soon to a little dance club in Cleveland.

Come hear about rumors

Did you ever wonder how the business media separates fact from fiction, chasing down the truth, if any, in corporate rumors? In a jointly sponsored program Oct. 15th, the Press Club of Cleveland and the local chapter of the Public Relations Society of America will explore that very topic. Panelists will include Invacare Corp. Chairman Mal Mixon and a handful of business reporters and editors. The luncheon program begins at noon at the University Club.

Doffing a cap to a legendary lane

Investment banker Rob McCreary has had something of a green thumb throughout his career. In 1993, the former Kemper Securities executive, along with two partners, established Carleton, McCreary & Holmes, a bouti que investment banking concern. Three years later, they sold it to KeyCorp.

Now, McCreary has reinvested some of his proceeds into a new venture, which he’s calling Capital Works. And sources in the investment-banking community say one of its projects will be launching a $50 million buyout fund to invest in so-called “orphan” companies, troubled public companies which perhaps never should have gone public.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the fund is its name: Short Vincent Partners. That’s in homage to the legendary Short Vincent, a compact avenue that runs between East 9th and East 6th streets downtown. Home to the Theatrical, a gathering spot for the famous and the infamous, in its heyday the street teemed with saloons, strip joints and bookies. It’s now little more than a cut-through behind the National City Bank building.

Hoping a little magic will rub off

Shannon Burns may be young — just 23 — but he thinks that he and his In Mind Media have an edge over other Web/interactive developers in town. He claims to have picked up a few priceless pointers from his aunt, the 26th employee of Web-browsing wonder Netscape. And just what did his aunt, now retired, tell him? “I’m not giving any secrets away,” he says.

The truth is “out there”

Worries about being “out of the loop” in the event of global destruction were eased when CNN field reporter Martin Savage spoke at a breakfast celebrating the addition of Ohio News Network to Cox Communication’s basic cable package.

Amid spinning tales of his experiences covering breaking news in Kosovo and Littleton, Colo., the former Cleveland newsman said CNN does in fact have a contingency plan for reporting on “the end of the world,” should a great calamity ever befall mankind on the news giant’s watch. Without a hint of irony, Savage said the doomsday plan is secured at CNN’s Atlanta headquarters and was personally drafted by Ted Turner.

“I’d love to see it,” said Savage. “Not the event, but the plan.”

We’d like to know if there is a contingency plan readied yet for that inevitable UFO landing.

Icing the deal

When Manco’s marketing department declined purchasing a $2,500 patron package for the upcoming U.S. Figure Skating Championship, Kathy Wilson — a volunteer selling the packages for the Junior League of Cleveland — decided to appeal to a higher authority.

During a routine visit to the dentist she noticed the world famous “duck tape” manufacturer’s CEO, Jack Kahl, had an 8:30 a.m. appointment there the next day. Putting together a cake decorated with yellow candied ducks, an ice skating Barbie and message reading “Let’s Ice this Deal,” Wilson camped out at the dentist office for Kahl.

The Manco chief, well known for his own off-the-wall antics, was won over by the effort and took the cake back to the company’s Avon headquarters before promptly ordering his tickets. The U.S. Figure Skating Championship will arrive in Cleveland this February.

Who says politicians can’t get anything done?

As President Clinton made his pitch early this summer for a Medicare overhaul that would include a prescription coverage plan for the nation’s elderly, Medical Mutual of Ohio’s communications department was busy burning up the phone lines the same afternoon spreading the word about its own program.

On June 29, Ohio’s oldest health insurance provider unveiled its SaveWell plan. The program costs $1 per week and enables participants and their family members to receive up to 50 percent off the retail price of most brand name and generic drugs. In comparison, Clinton’s proposal would cost $44 each month for a straight 50 percent discount with an annual cap of $2,500.

However, all indications are the president’s proposal is likely to crash and burn in Congress in its current form. Medical Mutual of Ohio’s prescription insurance program became effective Aug. 1. For more information call (800) 474-2583.

Help wanted: Computer science graduates

A Virginia consulting firm reports 2,000 information technology jobs in the Cleveland area will not be filled over the next 12 months because of a shortage of computer science graduates. The study, commissioned by Microsoft Corp., projects there will be 1,000 unfilled positions across Ohio.

The problem is universities and trade schools in the United States are producing only one-quarter of the computer science graduates needed to fill jobs in programming and software-related positions, according to the report.

Although some companies have turned outside the United States to look for qualified candidates in the past, the Immigration and Naturalization Service has squashed that alternative, for now. Earlier this summer, the government agency instituted a hiring freeze for U.S. companies that wish to hire foreign professionals under a nonimmigrant work visa. The freeze, which has outraged immigrant advocacy groups, is expected to last until October.

Press the # sign if you’re annoyed

In a study of what irks customers the most, junk mail finished at the top of the list with 59 percent of people saying it is the biggest bother. Meanwhile, automated phone services came in a close second, with 54 percent saying they are fed up with dialing a company, then hearing “Press one for . . .”

The National Consumers League conducted the “Consumers in the 21st Century” by contacting more than 1,000 people over the age of 18. The group, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary, discovered other interesting facts about American consumers:

n Nearly six million online consumer have experienced credit card related fraud, while three out of four Americans believe new technology such as the Internet has made life easier and more convenient.

n Two-thirds of Americans believe it is likely by 2020 all banking will be done online, while almost half believe paper money will be all but extinct within the next 20 years.

n Only 6 percent believe they are overloaded with information with the advent of the Internet, while 50 percent reported they do not feel they have enough information.

n Fifty-four percent of Americans feel the value they get for their money on most goods and services has gotten worse over the last five years.

I feel fine, really

A disturbing discovery was made by Aon Consulting during its annual study to measure work force loyalty.

People in the medical profession were the most reluctant to recommend their company’s product or services to friends or family. Given that information, it may also be unsettling that the element that drives employee commitment in the medical industry is having the necessary resources to do a good job.

Another interesting finding was that employees on your company’s front lines are the ones most likely to throw in the towel. The study reported customer service employees have the lowest commitment levels than any other job classification. The report was drafted following interviews with 1,800 workers across the nation.

RV prophecies

The demand for recreational vehicles, including motor homes, travel trailers, campers and conversion vans, in the United States is predicted to increase five percent each year until 2003, when the industry is expected to top $13.1 billion in sales.

Freedonia Group Inc. of Cleveland, a market research firm, says the growth will be fueled by product upgrades and industry innovations such as lighter weight vehicles and technologically advanced features. Motor homes are expected to be the biggest sellers because of the growth of the prime buyer, which ranges from 45 to 54 years old.

Meanwhile, the southern United States is expe cted to retain its title as a recreational vehicle stronghold because of a favorable climate and extensive amount of public park land and vacation destinations. For further information on the Freedonia Group’s report, visit www.freedoniagroup.com.

Women on the Web

After three years of work, Margaret M. McGillin of Los Angeles has launched a Web site to direct e-commerce specifically to businesses owned by women.

WOWFactor is the first site of its kind and provides one-stop shopping for Internet surfers, who can search for products on the site or browse a comprehensive directory of 1.2 million businesses. Interested? Take a look for yourself at — you guessed it — www.wowfactor.com.

Vital support

Charlene Connell, president, CEO and owner of Vital Resources Inc., was appointed to The Fairview and Lutheran Hospital Foundation’s Board of Trustees.

The Foundation is an independent fund-raising organization that seeks contributions for the support of projects and services at Fairview and Lutheran Hospitals, as well as various community programs. Connell is already active in several community organizations and was one of the founding members of the Make-A-Wish Foundation’s WishNet.

Her company, Vital Resources, provides computer consultants to companies throughout the Greater Cleveland area. Connell, who has won a variety of awards for her business success, was also a 1999 finalist for the Ernst &Young Entrepreneur Of The Year Award.

Take a byte out of crime

AG Communications Systems, a subsidiary of Lucent Technologies, has completed its installation of new case management software for the Ohio State Highway Patrol’s crime lab in Columbus.

The new software automatically assigns a unique bar code to each piece of evidence submitted for accurate processing and storage. The Ohio State Patrol Crime Lab had been using a custom-built in house case tracking system for the past several years. However, the crime lab’s caseload jumped 20 percent in three years, sending the state looking for an outside vendor that could better organize the operation.

With the installation of the new software, the highway patrol expects to increase productivity, reduce evidence turn-around time and virtually eliminate paperwork. Visit www.agcs.com for more information.