Gov. Bob Taft honored Solon-based Keithley Instruments Inc. last month as the 2000 recipient of the Thomas Edison Award Recognizing Global Leadership in Technology. A Sept. 13 ceremony and reception was held at the Center of Science and Industry (COSI) in Columbus.
It's been a pretty solid year for company Chairman and CEO Joseph Keithley. His company's stock has performed better than ever over the past 12 months. Meanwhile, the high-tech measuring device firm was also recognized Sept. 7 at the SBN Innovation in Business awards and took top honors in the technology category of Ernst & Young's "Entrepreneur Of The Year" contest last summer.
OfficeMax Inc. and Arthur Andersen Virtual Learning Network have teamed to offer online learning and educational resources to small- and mid-sized businesses through Officemax.com. The companies said the online service will launch later this month and will initially offer more than 100 Web-based courses and two custom CD-ROM courses.
"Our core customer is the small business with less than 100 employees," said Ryan Vero, OfficeMax's head of e-commerce. "VLN will provide our customers convenient and cost effective access to online training." Officemax.com recently conducted an online customer survey to find out what services are most desired. The top-rated request was access to online training programs.
Saving for a rainy day?
A decline in national saving in the United States may negatively impact both the growth of the U.S. economy and the living standards of future retirees, according to Jagadeesh Gokhale, an economic adviser at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland. He notes in a recent article that the strong performance of the U.S. economy during the past five years is often attributed to robust growth in private consumption.
But, he points out that greater consumption also means lower savings and fewer resources available for investment. This savings decline doesn't bode well for the living standards of future retirees, since the consumption usually reserved for the retirement years is being eaten up by many people during their earning years. Gokhale's solution: think about saving more money and be aware of the gap between actual savings and what you will need to maintain your lifestyle in your golden years.
If you're looking for practical, authoritative human resources information and tools, CCH Inc. believes it has just what you're looking for in its new Web site, http://hr.cch.com. A source of employment and human resources law and compliance information for more than 60 years, CCH has created what it believes to be a one-stop, complete Web resource.
"Whatever the HR professional needs, CCH is delivering it with authority to the desktop at http://hr.cch.com," said CCH Health and Human Resources publisher Jim Gallas. Well, then, how about delivering a bunch of qualified workers looking for jobs?
New York state of mind
Even if the New York City hotel where you want to stay is telling you it's booked solid, a Connecticut-based Internet company wants to hook you up with a room at a discounted price. Www.hotres.com, has access to guaranteed blocks of rooms at 30 of the most popular motels in the heart of Midtown Manhattan and can confirm your reservation over the Internet even when the clerk at the front desk tells you there are no available rooms. Meanwhile, you'll probably even get a bit of a price break by using the service to make your reservations.
The site also caters to the newbie N.Y.C. tourist with a repository of maps and information that can help even the most clueless visitors find their way around town.
If your employees no longer work a traditional 9-to-5 workday, your company's not alone. According to a recent survey by Management Recruiters International Inc., 61 percent of more than 3,500 executives polled predict the 9-to-5 workday will disappear within the next 10 years.
The survey revealed that changing workplace trends -- telecommuting, working from home and even working while on vacation -- have relaxed business owners' demands for traditional work hours. It's a reflection, they say, of changing lifestyles and a greater emphasis on a healthy work/life balance.
Have you heard ...
Still on the fence about whether those in-store demonstrations help push your product? Consider this: A nationwide survey of pet owners conducted by the Pat Henry Group found that nine out of 10 respondents first heard about the product being demonstrated at a store demonstration, either the day they were surveyed (80.4 percent) or at a prior store demonstration (8.8 percent).
It seems like there are more company name changes today than ever before. The most common are from longer names to shorter, more descriptive and catchier monikers. Temporarily Yours Placement Services has joined the ranks of the transformed. The full-service employment agency recently adopted a new name -- Employworks -- to better describe its services, says company president and CEO Michael J. Lehmann.
"I feel very positive about this," he says. "We are taking a step in the right direction to better serve our clients and employees."
Where the roots are
Just in case you've been wondering what's sparked the new economy, consider this explanation. The information technology revolution isn't new, asserts Jerry Jordan, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
While advances in information technology allow ideas to spread faster and new techniques and processes to spill over into other sectors of the economy, it's no different than the impact caused by the printing press, telegraph and telephone.
"The fundamental determinants of healthy economies are the same as they ever were," Jordan writes in a recent Fed article. "So long as the right environment exists, markets will flourish, and in that environment individuals and markets will adapt to shocks. And as they adapt, the face of the economy changes."
Jordan says that so much attention has been devoted to debating whether the economy is new that business owners have overlooked the importance of the infrastructure that has led to the burgeoning economy. By focusing on the developments in the infrastructure, Jordan says, you'll be able to see the roots of a strong economy.
Let the good times roll
Northeast Ohio business owners say they believe the good times will continue, but they're not willing to bet the ranch on it. A whopping 83 percent of decision-makers across the region say they're "very optimistic" or "optimistic" that current business conditions will continue, according to the results of a Small Business Monitor survey by the Greater Cleveland Growth Association.
That leaves 17 percent who aren't so sure that the economy isn't headed for a downturn some time this year, the study says. Continuing troubles in the labor market -- specifically recruiting and retaining quality employees -- is the top reason for the not-so-sure attitudes.
Extending a training hand
Vocational Guidance Services, a Cleveland-based nonprofit organization that provides vocational training and job placement for disabled and disadvantaged individuals, has stepped into the Digital Age. VGS recently opened a state-of-the-art computer lab.
The lab, which houses 71 computer workstations, features several computers outfitted with voice recognition programs and other high-tech functions that cater to people with disabilities and those making the transition from welfare to work.
Ohio Auditor Jim Petro has been named the recipient of the 2000 In Tribute to the Public Service Award of the Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University.
Creating a work force
The Cleveland chapter of the National Tooling and Machining Association, a trade organization representing the precision custom manufacturing industry, has developed strategic partnerships with NTMA members, universities and partner organizations. New initiatives and programs have been developed and implemented to identify and train young men and women throughout Northeast Ohio in metalworking skills.
Locating The Source
The Cleveland Jewish News has debuted a new reference guide, The Source: Guide to Jewish Living in Northeast Ohio. The full-color, glossy magazine covers the metropolitan areas of Cleveland, Akron, Canton, Elyria, Lorain, Warren, Youngstown and Sharon, Pa. The publication will include stories of both local and national interest, a calendar and explanations of Jewish holidays and terms.
Economic impact 101
Working for Empowerment through Community Organization, an economic and community development organization that supports businesses and credit unions, is $15,000 richer thanks to a grant from Fifth Third Bank, Northeastern Ohio. The money will be used to impact more than 540 individuals.
Nobody ever said customer service was easy. So what's the best way to serve your customers?
According to Carson Cole Associates, the answer is simple -- ask them. Here are CCA's three strategies for maintaining customer service:
1. Make it easy for your customers to talk to you. Solicit feedback through a telephone call, e-mail, a short letter or face-to-face meetings. Contact your customers the way the prefer to be contacted, and do it often.
2. Ask customers about their experiences. Be prepared to be genuine and sincere. Train your staff to help customers share -- particularly the bad experiences.
3. Most important, be willing to change. Thank your customer for their honesty and promise them you will fix problems. Then do it. If similar customer service complaints are voiced by more than one customer, fix the problem
New name, same beer
Cleveland's Crooked River Brewing Co. has repackaged and renamed its fall seasonal beer formerly known as Erie Nights Pumpkin Brew. When it appears on store shelves this year, it will be known as Crooked River Pumpkin Harvest Ale. The change is designed to make the beer less associated with Halloween and more with the season.
State Development Director C. Lee Johnson has announced the Ohio Department of Development's Small Business Innovation Research Program and its partners will host the 2000 Ohio SBIR Conference at the Ramada Plaza Hotel in Columbus. The two-day event will take place Oct. 11-12. For more information about the program or to register, call (614) 466-3887 or (800) 848-1300, ext. 6-3887, or visit www.odod.state.oh.us/tech/sbir.
One of the most valuable HR tools at a company's disposal is the exit interview. "Assuming the departing employee has no ax to grind, information gleaned during exit interviews can give companies valuable insight on topics such as office morale," says Diane Domeyer, executive director of OfficeTeam.
The question is, how do you use that information? According to an OfficeTeam survey, 13 percent of employers always act on the information they get. Another 62 percent said they act somewhat frequently. Sixteen percent rarely act, while only 1 percent indicated they never use the information. The remaining companies either did not conduct exit interviews or did not know how often they used the info.
Domeyer offers the following tips for conducting an effective exit interview:
1. Set the stage. Meet in a neutral location and make it clear the information won't be used against the departing person.
2. Consider a third party. Even an employee who is leaving may feel uncomfortable discussing certain topics, such as office politics, with a current supervisor. It may be wise to bring an HR representative to conduct the interview.
3. Act on serious situations. Never ignore a departing employee's claim of mistreatment or discrimination. Refer the matter to your internal legal or HR department for investigation.
4. Ask the right questions. Use open-ended, general questions at first, but be prepared to get specific.
5. Take emotions into account. Depending on whether the employee left on good terms, exit interviews should be viewed as one of many information sources. A hidden agenda could influence what a former staff member says during an interview.