Time was that smart sales people and journalists didnt mind cooling their heels in a companys lobby while waiting for appointments. In just a few minutes, a sharp pair of eyes could pick up any number of clues about the organization.
But Joel Rube, formerly a Web evangelist for Keane & Co.s Cleveland office, and now in a similar role for Chicago-based Navigent, says the new window into a companys soul is its home page. These days, when people want to make quick judgments about your company, they visit your Web site, he said at a recent public forum. So that first page has to look gorgeous. Im not saying anything about content it has to look gorgeous.
Monitoring the tube
Employment attorney John Cernelich of Calfee, Halter & Griswold LLP isnt your ordinary couch potato. With the recent spate of well-publicized outbreaks of deranged people going on rampages in the workplace, he admits to being on edge whenever he switches on the local news.
I go home and see Channel 8 or Channel 3, and you see some shooting at a workplace or some other horrific case of workplace violence, and I run to the set, hoping that its not one of our clients. Thus far, he happily reports, none of his clients have been targets.
Steel exodus continues
Not long after World War II, a German visitor, looking out at the mighty blast furnaces of the Flats from high up in the Terminal Tower, was moved to remark that if Hitler had ever seen that awesome industrial display, he never would have started a war against the U.S. Alas, the local steel industry is but a shell of what it once was. And in the latest indicator of the sectors decline in these parts, the Steel Services Institute, an industry group headquartered in Cleveland for 80 years, is due to move to Chicago this month.
Rare victory for labor
Union organizing campaigns havent been racking up much success in recent years. But the United Auto Workers is celebrating one recent victory: A successful organization of a Kmart distribution center in Warren, not far from Youngstown. But the unions biggest potential prize in this region, the venerable Lincoln Electric Company, thus far continues to elude it. The UAWs organizing campaign there remains tied up in legal proceedings.
Our readers in Dallas
Not long after her work was featured in SBN earlier this year, management consultant Susan Aldrich got a call from a stiffly formal gentleman whom she at first assumed to be a telemarketer. To the contrary, it turned out to be an editor at Temp Digest in Dallas, who had seen the article in SBN and was impressed.
Would she be interested in writing a column? he inquired. She was floored, but quickly agreed. Meanwhile, closer to home, the article apparently resulted in her landing a first-ever consulting assignment at the blue chip P.R. firm of Dix & Eaton, for which shes due to mount seminars on customer service.
Putting a name with a bra
A few months ago, SBN profiled Beachwood-based Leading Lady. At the time, president Mark Corrado and CEO Al Corrado said the company was looking to strengthen its brand identity. Corrado wasnt kidding.
In September, the nursing and maternity bra manufacturer announced the restructuring of three newer product lines, shifting the focus from private labeling to branded products featuring the Leading Lady name. Explains Al, Our newer niche products, developed over the past five years, will benefit tremendously by adapting the Leading Lady name.
A return to yesteryear
Youve finally arrived: A nice four-bedroom home in Hunting Valley on five acres with a stellar view of the woods. So whatever happened to the allure of that original American home the log cabin? The National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) recently undertook the task of remodeling a 200-year-old log cabin from Overton. The historic cabin was dismantled and shipped to a Texas company, which will restore it and ship it back in pieces later this year. Upon its return to Cleveland, the cabin will be reassembled at the I-X Center for display at the January NARI Home Improvement Show.
Its all in the ads ... but dont tell the editorial department
Nearly 96 percent of decision makers read advertising to learn about new technologies, products or equipment, according to a survey by Penton Research Services. The survey asked 1,200 executives, managers, purchasing agents and engineers whether advertising played a part in their decision making. Among other findings:
85 percent learn about new suppliers in their markets through ads;
81 percent read ads to stay current with their existing suppliers;
83 percent read ads to request product literature.
While the results back up the power of advertising, dont rush off to eliminate your editorial department. Few things top the power of editorial copy, which has the ability to delve deeper into subject matter than conventional ads. Well, at least we think so.
A breeding ground for innovation
Authors Joe Pine and Jim Gilmore, owners of Strategic Horizons LLP, are on the national speaking circuit. The two creativity integrators will be featured speakers at the Innovative Thinking Conference Feb. 8-9 at the Scottsdale Center for the Arts in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Pine and Gilmore are part of a group that includes author Kurt Vonnegut and Harley-Davidson Motor Co. vice president of business development Clyde Fessler. The conference is designed as an educational resource for executives who want to develop their creativity and encourage innovation throughout their organizations. For more information, visit the conference Web site at www.itconference.com.
Another way to give back
Cohen & Company, a 1998 Pillar Award winner, continues to give back to the community that supports it. The Cleveland-based CPA firm in October founded the Cohen Community Foundation in the name of newly retired founding partner Ronald B. Cohen.
The foundation starts with $50,000. Contributions will be made to cultural, civic and other areas benefiting Northeast Ohio. Cohen & Co. has been an active donor of money, services and time to charitable organizations, and managing partner Randy Myeroff says the foundation will help ensure Cohen & Cos continued involvement.
Bank One and the U.S. Small Business Administration have launched Community Express in the Cleveland market, designed to provide lines of credit, term loans and commercial mortgages to small businesses which have difficulty obtaining traditional loans.
Community Express loans range from $15,000 to $250,000, significantly more than the maximum $150,000 provided by the SBNExpress program. One benefit is post-loan technical assistance. Five area nonprofit organizations, COSE, EDI, the Hispanic Business Association, MCAP and WECO, will participate. Turnaround time on applications is about 36 hours. For information, call (216) 781-4210.
And you think youve got competition
Staying on top in the information age is an increasingly difficult challenge, even for the monoliths of the business world. During his recent Northeast Ohio appearance, Cisco Systems Inc. President and CEO John Chambers provided his own take on the Internet revolution and how it will level the playing field for small companies.
Anyone doubting Cisco Systems has reason to worry about competitors might want to consider a few figures Chambers threw out to the lunchtime crowd. More than 40 percent of the venture capital in the U.S. is dumped into Silicon Valley. More than a third of that results in ne w companies that provide direct competition for Cisco Systems.
Tim LaGanke, the man who brought the Lube Stop 10-minute oil change to Cleveland, left it behind and returned to the industry only after finding a way to make the business more profitable, is at it again. His new company, Quick Change, opened its 13th Cleveland area location last month along Detroit Road in Sheffield Village.
The tiny modular oil-change facility, for which LaGanke holds a patent, will be squeezed in between a car wash and a BP gas station. It is the 31st modular oil change facility the construction side of Quick Change has installed either for itself or other companies in the past three years.
Before you dump money into that cant lose franchising opportunity, Cleveland-based Barnes Welding CPAs Inc. urges you to first invest some time in a reality check. Here are questions the firm says you should ask before signing:
- What distinguishes this franchise from the competition?
- Is the name or product unique enough to make it worth the franchise fee?
- Does the owner of the franchise create new programs and products that make the franchise royalty a worthwhile expense?
- Is the industry in a growth cycle?
- Is the business just a passing fad?
Reaping the benefit of the Browns
If theres any question about the benefit of shelling out the money necessary for a major sports sponsorship deal, consider the exposure National City received Sept. 9-12 as the Browns returned to Cleveland for the first regular season home game in three years.
NatCity Investments had its name tied to the NFL Experience a football-themed festival usually reserved for The Super Bowl which set up camp at Voinovich Park during opening weekend. Then, National Citys Armada Funds sponsored the 5K run as part of the kick-off festivities. National City also signed rookie quarterback Tim Couch to a three-year endorsement deal to promote the companys line of tie-in banking products.
100 years of labor
In honor of the last Labor Day of the century, the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees asked a handful of experts in economic policy to rank the 10 most important labor moments of the century.
No. 7: The Fair Labor Standards Act (1938): The first federal minimum wage law for nonagricultural labor. Set a minimum wage of 25 cents, banned child labor in all businesses engaged in interstate commerce and provided for overtime compensation.
No. 4: General Motors sitdown strikes (1964): The strikes started with a sitdown job action by 50 workers at a Fischer Body Plant in Flint, Mich. an action that inspired similar strikes by 485,000 workers across North American in eight months. The Flint strike last 45 days, with strikers winning a five cent an hour raise and an agreement by GM management to rehire all strikers and recognize the union.
Number 1: Committee for Industrial Organizations founded (1935): Congress of Industrial Organizations was formed after the American Federation of Labor voted against organizing workers across trades in factories, continuing instead the traditional approach of organizing by craft or trade. It opened to door to what would become labors core constituency mass production workers.