The idea of driving aimlessly seems glamorous in movies and songs. In reality, few of us get in a car without knowing how to reach our destination. We’ve created smartphone apps, GPS devices and satellite mapping to make our trips as efficient as possible and to avoid what we know to be an inconvenient, expensive outcome — getting lost.
I bring up this idea because many companies using social media have inadvertently become lost drivers. They start using social platforms with the goal of reaching some number of likes, retweets or shares, but as they embark on their social media strategies, many experience a disconnect between the content they post, blog and tweet and their progress on measurable business goals. These companies are driving without a roadmap; they just don’t know it.
Sound familiar? If social media isn’t working for you, your social media approaches may be missing a fundamental component: an effective content strategy. Here are three ways a solid content strategy will enhance your company’s social media success.
A like is just a like
All social media engagement is not created equally. To be successful, the social media activity that you generate needs to support your marketing goals — whether you want to improve employee engagement, boost customer conversions or build interest in a new product.
Creating a content strategy before you engage in social media will help your business clarify the specific marketing goals you want to achieve through content, as well as what messages you need to communicate to reach those goals. This process will ensure you get the right likes, shares and retweets from social interactions.
Social is a vehicle
Social media is a vehicle for sharing compelling content with your audience, and it doesn’t work if you don’t know what issues, topics and trends your audience finds compelling. Part of developing a content strategy involves learning how those you are trying to reach want to be talked to. Where do they go for information? How much time do they spend online? What kind of content are they looking for from your industry?
By getting to know the interests and pain points of your audience (customers, employees, shareholders, etc.), you can develop tactics to reach your online audience more effectively, saving you time and enhancing your company’s social influence.
Relevant content is meaningful
Kings of social content don’t become that way by luck. They use strategic tactics to connect with their audience through the right channels at the right times. More importantly, they make these connections meaningful and memorable by posting and sharing strategic, relevant content that their audiences desire.
When you deliver social content that your audience members find valuable or interesting, they’ll reward you by sharing your content, engaging with your business and, ideally, helping to promote your reputation as a thought leader in your business or industry. A content strategy allows you to do that by providing a roadmap for what kinds of informative, helpful, educational or creative content you need to make meaningful interactions.
As a recent Huffington Post article put it, the golden rule of the web is clear: “To know us better is to sell us better.” Ultimately, being successful in the social media space means taking the time to map out what success looks like. In this sense, a solid content strategy is not only an important component of any social media strategy, it’s the key to driving the results your business wants.
Michael Marzec is chief strategy officer of Smart Business and SBN Interactive. Reach him at email@example.com or (440) 250-7078.
When Albert “Chainsaw Al” Dunlap was the CEO at Sunbeam in the late ’90s, he had a reputation for ruthlessness. Besides massively downsizing the company, he was also known to intimidate everyone around him and resort to yelling and fist pounding.
While extreme, Dunlap’s behavior is an example of the type of “dictator” leadership that used to be fairly common in the C-suite. Rules were rules, there were no exceptions for anything and people were just a line item on a budget. Need to cut thousands of jobs? Don’t think twice about it.
On the other end of the spectrum is the Christ-like leader. This leader focuses more on building people up rather than tearing them down. This type of leader understands that there are rules, but sometimes to do the right thing, the rules need to be broken. For example, during the economic downturn, some Christ-like leaders went well beyond what was called for to make sure laid-off employees were taken care of.
They made sure they had the use of office resources to look for a new job and did everything they could to lessen the hardships. They weren’t required to do this; it was just the right thing to do. They saw employees as human, not just numbers on a spreadsheet.
Does it cost money to take the more humane route with your leadership? Yes and no. From a short-term, bottom-line perspective, it probably does cost a few more dollars to help people through a hardship. But long term, it can pay dividends. By treating people with respect and doing the right thing, it helps eliminate animosity toward you and your company from both the ex-employees and current ones. Maybe there are some good employees who you wanted to keep, but couldn’t afford. By showing compassion, when the economy turned around, they were far more likely to consider coming back than if they had just been shown the door with little regard to their well-being.
And what happens when these ex-employees end up in key positions in companies that could be customers? Do you think an ex-employee who you mistreated is going to buy anything from you or recommend your company to someone? It’s a small world, and what goes around often comes around, so it’s always best to treat people as best you can.
You can lead like a dictator and still get results. But do the ends justify the means? Will you conquer all, only to find yourself alone with no friends, the equivalent of Ebenezer Scrooge in “A Christmas Carol?” Or will you have an epiphany and realize there’s a better way to do things?
During this holiday season, think about your leadership style and the long-term effect it has on people’s lives. If this exercise makes you uncomfortable, then maybe it’s time to change how you lead. ●
What would it take for a company to succeed if its leader could effectively do only one of the following: innovate, instigate or administrate? We all know that an innovator is the one who sees things that aren’t and asks why not? The instigator sees things that are and asks why? The administrator doesn’t necessarily ask profound questions but, instead, is dogged about crossing the “t’s,” dotting the “i’s” and making sure that whatever is supposed to happen happens.
Ideally, a top leader combines all three traits while being charismatic, intellectual, pragmatic and able to make decisions faster than a speeding bullet. Although some of us might fantasize that we are Superman or Superwoman, with a sense of exaggerated omnipotence, the bubble usually bursts when we’re confronted simultaneously with multiple situations that require the versatility of a Swiss army knife.
Business leaders come in all shapes and sizes with various skill sets and styles that are invaluable, depending on the priorities of a company at any given point in time.
Every business needs an innovator to differentiate the company. Without a unique something or other, there isn’t a compelling reason to exist. Once those special products or services that distinguish the business from others are discovered and in place, it takes an instigator to continuously re-examine and challenge every aspect of the business that leads to continued improvements, both functionally and economically. It also takes an administrator — someone who can keep all the balls in the air, ensuring that everyone in the organization is in sync and delivering the finished products as promised to keep customers coming back.
As politicians and pundits of all types have pounded into our heads in recent years, “It takes a village to raise a child.” All who practice the art and science of business have learned that, instead of a village, it takes a diverse team working together to make one plus one equal three.
On the ideal team, each member possesses different strengths, contributing to the greater good. The exceptional leader is best when he or she is an effective chef who knows how to mix the different skills together to create a winning recipe.
In many companies, however, leaders tend to surround themselves with clones who share similar abilities, interests and backgrounds. As an example, a manufacturer may have a management team comprised solely of engineers, or a marketing organization could have salespeople who came up through the ranks calling all the shots.
If everyone in an organization comes from the same mold, what tends to happen is, figuratively, one lies and the others swear to it. This builds to a crescendo of complacency and perpetual mediocrity.
There is a better way. Good leaders surround themselves with others who complement their capabilities, and savvy leaders select those with dramatically different backgrounds who will challenge their thinking because they’re not carbon copies of the boss. This opens new horizons, forges breakthroughs and leads to optimal daily performance.
Strange bedfellows can stimulate, nudge and keep each other moving toward the previously unexplored.
To have a sustainable and effective organization, you can’t have one type without all the others. While everyone on the team may not always agree, each player must always be committed to making the whole greater than the sum of the parts.
The single most important skill of the leader who has to pull all the pieces and parts together is to have the versatility of that Swiss army knife — selecting the precise tool to accomplish the objective at hand. ●
Michael Feuer co-founded OfficeMax in 1988, starting with one store and $20,000 of his own money. During a 16-year span, Feuer, as CEO, grew the company to almost 1,000 stores worldwide with annual sales of approximately $5 billion before selling this retail giant for almost $1.5 billion in December 2003. In 2010, Feuer launched another retail concept, Max-Wellness, a first of its kind chain featuring more than 7,000 products for head-to-toe care. Feuer serves on a number of corporate and philanthropic boards and is a frequent speaker on business, marketing and building entrepreneurial enterprises. “The Benevolent Dictator,” a book by Feuer that chronicles his step-by-step strategy to build business and create wealth, published by John Wiley & Sons, is now available. Reach him with comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Olympic Steel Inc., a leading national metals service center, announced several management promotions to support the company’s strategic growth.
Raymond Walker was appointed to the newly created position of president and COO – Flat Rolled. John Mooney was promoted to vice president – Eastern Region. John Howard has been named to the newly created position of director, operational excellence. Zach Siegal has been promoted to the role of general manager – Cleveland, and Matthew Kapusta has been promoted to purchasing manager – Cleveland.
Additionally, Olympic Steel Inc. has relocated its executive office suite from Bedford Heights to Highland Hills. The new corporate office suite is home to executives responsible for the strategic direction and oversight of all of the company’s combined operations including its flat, tubular and pipe products segments, as well as its growing Specialty Metals product line.
Kaiser Permanente Ohio has become HealthSpan. Starting Oct. 1, 2013, members of Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Ohio are being served by HealthSpan Integrated Care. HealthSpan received approval from the Ohio Department of Insurance to begin providing care and coverage in Northeast Ohio.
The biggest change that most members will notice is a new name and signage that will begin appearing as the health plan and physician group begin operating as HealthSpan. HealthSpan is comprised of: HealthSpan Physicians, a not-for-profit medical group practice serving Northeast Ohio, and HealthSpan Integrated Care that will operate as a not-for-profit HMO.
Aaron Bulloff, an attorney at Kadish, Hinkel & Weibel, has been elected as a director of the Foundation of the Federal Bar Association for a two-year term beginning Oct. 1, 2013.
In his new role, Bulloff will help support the Foundation’s mission of promoting and supporting legal research and education; advancing the science of jurisprudence; facilitating the administration of justice; and fostering improvements in the practice of federal law.
NAI Daus announced the hiring of commercial real estate veteran Cyndie O’Bryon as senior vice president, office division. With more than 30 years of experience in the Cleveland real estate market, O’Bryon brings a strong background in all aspects of office leasing that will bolster the firm’s efforts in that area.
Paul Clark, regional president of PNC Bank, Cleveland, received the Norman Cohn Hope Award during the Nov. 13, 2013, National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s 18th Annual Cleveland Dinner of Champions. This prestigious award was presented to Clark for his commitment to leadership, philanthropy and community service.
Clark serves on the board of directors for Baldwin Wallace University, Cleveland Neighborhood Progress, Cleveland Rock and Roll Inc., Cuyahoga County Invest in Children, Greater Cleveland Partnership, Musical Arts Association (Cleveland Orchestra), Playhouse Square Foundation, Team NEO, United Way of Greater Cleveland, University Circle Inc. and University Hospitals Health Systems Inc.
Dr. Toby Cosgrove, Cleveland Clinic’s president and CEO, has been selected as one of 70 new members of the Institute of Medicine (IOM), a prestigious national health advisory board.
IOM members are selected for their significant advancements in the fields of health and medicine, whether through research, teaching, clinical work or other contributions.
Cosgrove joined the Cleveland Clinic in 1975, performing more than 22,000 operations and earning an international reputation for expertise in all areas of cardiac surgery, especially valve repair.
Under his leadership, Cleveland Clinic has consistently been named among America’s top four hospitals by U.S. News & World Report and is one of only two hospitals named among “America’s 99 Most Ethical Companies” by the Ethisphere Institute. ●
More than 800 years ago, medieval philosopher Maimonides outlined eight levels of charity, the greatest of which was supporting an individual in such a way that he or she becomes independent. In Maimonides’ view, support was defined as a gift or loan, entering into a partnership or simply helping that person find employment.
Few things are more powerful than philanthropy — especially when its end goal is to better the lives of others. These days, philanthropy, and corporate philanthropy specifically, has assumed a broader role in society.
Today, companies give back more strategically than ever before. They align themselves with nonprofits that foster missions they believe in. The wealthiest people on the planet have even coordinated the Giving Pledge (www.givingpledge.org), where they’ve committed to dedicate the majority of their wealth to philanthropy.
At last count, more than 115 people had taken the pledge. Warren Buffett and Bill Gates may be the most prominent names on the list, but others include Spanx Founder Sara Blakely, Cavs Owner Dan Gilbert, Progressive’s Peter Lewis and Netflix Founder Reed Hastings.
Last month, one member, David Rubenstein, CEO and co-founder of The Carlyle Group, discussed the importance of philanthropy during a presentation at EY’s 2013 Strategic Growth Forum.
In his pledge letter, Rubenstein explains why: “I recognize to have any significant impact on an organization or cause, one must concentrate resources, and make transformative gifts — and to be involved in making certain those gifts actually transform in a positive way.”
One way Rubenstein is being transformative is through “Patriotic Philanthropy.” He has given $10 million to help restore President Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello home and underwrote renovations to the historic Washington Monument. Yet Rubenstein’s most noteworthy initiative is the whopping $23 million to acquire a rare copy of the Magna Carta, ensuring it remained in the United States. After its purchase, Rubenstein gifted it to the National Archives.
Not everyone has Rubenstein’s vast resources. But every organization and any individual can make their own impact.
In the workplace, for example, organizations that give back elevate their status perception-wise among competitors and peers. It doesn’t take much. But by being a company that cares, prospective employees want to work for you. For your existing team, deliberate and well-organized corporate philanthropy programs quickly take on a life of their own, becoming a rallying point.
Think strategically and get started by finding your cause. We all have them. They exist at our very core, forming the belief system we live by every day. So why shouldn’t our philanthropy follow that same course? Consider aligning your giving or volunteerism with something you personally believe in or care about; something that fits with what your company does or something that is close to your employees’ hearts.
Most important, get involved and just make a difference. It really comes down to that. One initiative that has always impressed me has been the annual CreateAthon event undertaken by WhiteSpace Creative, a member of the Pillar Award class of 2005. You can read a first-hand account of this year’s program here.
Being a good corporate citizen goes well beyond making good business sense. When you align yourself with causes you care about, whether big or small, you make a difference in someone’s life. And the bottom line is this: It is all of our duties to get involved. It’s no longer a question of if, but rather of what, when and how. ●
Dustin S. Klein is publisher and vice president of operations for Smart Business. Reach him at email@example.com or (440) 250-7026.
On his first day working at the United Way of Greater Cleveland Bill Kitson sat down for a 6 a.m. interview on WKYC-TV.
“It was a great opportunity to say hello to the community first thing in the morning on my first day,” Kitson says.
A 25-year United Way veteran, Kitson became the Cleveland chapter’s new president and CEO in June 2012. The Cleveland community was curious to hear how he planned to better the organization and its efforts in the community.
“Cleveland is my seventh United Way community,” Kitson says. “I’m really thrilled with the level of support of the United Way here, and the level of corporate support is just spectacular. It gives us a great base to build from as we try to create change in the community.”
The United Way of Greater Cleveland celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2013 and Kitson has been focused on changing the United Way from fundraiser to community impact worker.
Here’s how Kitson is working to improve the United Way of Greater Cleveland and its community.
Understand the issues
When you’re a new president or CEO, everyone has questions for you and they want to know what you’re thinking. You have to resist the urge to talk about that, and instead ask and listen to the people you’re with.
“There will be plenty of time to share your story and your point of view about the work that’s going on, but if we don’t stop and listen first we may miss opportunities to learn and grow even more,” Kitson says.
Kitson heard that the community wanted more focus around graduating kids, keeping families financially stable and keeping the community healthy.
“As I started hearing the aspirations of folks that swirled around those issues, those are the things our volunteers are looking at to see what our priorities should be in those areas,” he says.
One of the biggest shifts in Cleveland’s United Way has been focused around changing from fundraiser to community impact worker.
“We’re trying to engage our community in new and varied ways,” Kitson says. “So not only asking for your money, but for your time and asking you to volunteer in schools and in neighborhoods. We are also asking people for their voice and asking them to advocate and stand up for some of these issues as our community faces them.”
The engagement strategy is an important aspect for those organizations that are focused on a mission.
“You need to have a connection to your community beyond asking for a check,” he says.
This past year the United Way of Greater Cleveland has been strategizing and developing new plans that will ultimately make a difference in the community.
“When I talk about listening and understanding our community — that’s not just a two- or three-year thing, that’s a generational thing,” he says. “We have to get better about listening and understanding and knowing where we can impact our community best.
“When people think of nonprofits that they’re really passionate about, their involvement with them goes beyond fundraising, and we have a similar mission to create change in the community. There are a lot of folks out there who would get really excited about a richer relationship with their United Way and we look forward to that.” ●
How to reach: United Way of Greater Cleveland, (216) 436-2100 or www.unitedwaycleveland.org
Have you ever received an envelope in the mail saying you’re part of a class action lawsuit, never opened it and threw it out?
If that settlement was for $3 million and a big percentage of those people didn’t open those envelopes, do you know what happens to all that unclaimed money? It doesn’t go to the government. It doesn’t go to the lawyers. It goes back to the company being sued.
Crazy, right? But what if there were a rule that could be imposed to have that money, or some of it, go to charity? That’s what Ohio Lawyers Give Back, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, is all about.
Ohio Lawyers Give Back is an organization started by Cleveland-based law firm Dworken & Bernstein Co. LPA and one of its partners, Patrick Perotti, in accordance with a legal doctrine called cy pres. The cy pres doctrine is used in class action suits to handle settlement monies that are unclaimed by class members after distribution is finished.
In one of Perotti’s first class action lawsuits settled for $800,000, he ended up being able to give extra monies in the amount of $185,000 to Cystic Fibrosis. When he went to present that check, Brooke, an 11-year-old girl with Cystic Fibrosis gave him a hug.
“I said to myself, ‘I’m never going to stop doing this,’” says Perotti, a board member of Ohio Lawyers Give Back. “I never thought getting a degree as a lawyer would allow me to do something like this. It’s not about winning cases, it’s about doing justice. I can’t think of a better way to do justice than what we’re doing with this program.”
While Dworken & Berstein has been practicing the cy pres doctrine in all of the firm’s class action suits over the past 15 years and has distributed more than $24 million to charities in conjunction with Ohio Lawyers Give Back, not every firm does this.
“We tried to work with the General Assembly to pass a law that would require cy pres to be paid in every case, but that there had to be a designation in the court order that said exactly what happens to the money and any unclaimed funds,” Perotti says. “The legislation was strongly opposed by the Ohio Chamber of Commerce and as a result it was not passed.”
Had the law passed it would have generated $60 million a year toward charities in Ohio.
“Ninety-nine percent of businesses would never scam customers, so why they stood up for that 1 percent that does the wrong thing is beyond me, but I guess it’s because some of these companies are very big and are very powerful,” he says.
If the law had passed nationally it had the potential to provide $13 billion a year to charities.
“We do it in our firm, and we came up with Ohio Lawyers Give Back after that initial case and following this policy of cy pres,” Perotti says.
“We used Ohio Lawyers Give Back to run a website where any charity that wants to can log on and find out how cy pres works, and anybody can recommend a charity. We then talk to them and send them paperwork to get them on a list for one of the cases that gets settled. We also send that list to other lawyers in the area that do class action suits.”
Very few lawyers follow this practice, however, because it doesn’t make the lawyer any money, it actually costs money.
“I could settle my class action years earlier if I were willing to do the scam dance and settle for $750,000, and I get my one-third knowing that $500,000 isn’t going to class members, like I don’t give a damn,” Perotti says. “But I do. I don’t want to sign my name to something I know is a scam. We’re in the vast minority.” ●
How to reach: Ohio Lawyers Give Back, (800) 378-9586 or www.ohiolawyersgiveback.org
William Finn and the Hospice of the Western Reserve engage the community in end-of-life care supportWritten by Gregory Jones
Often when we hear the term hospice, we think of an elderly person who’s lived a good, long life and is now in need of end-of-life care. Cleveland-based Hospice of the Western Reserve, however, provides many more resources than just end-of-life care.
For instance, do you have a bucket list? The Hospice of the Western Reserve will give you one more shot at crossing an item off your list. Looking for resources about hospice care? It has one of the few nationally certified libraries dedicated to the subject. Have you recently experienced a traumatic event? The Hospice of the Western Reserve is often one of the first to respond to crises such as school shootings or suicides.
You more than likely didn’t know the Hospice of the Western Reserve did all of this. Since becoming its CEO in 2011, William Finn has been focused on making sure more people know about the Hospice of the Western Reserve and the numerous services it has to offer the community.
“There are 48 hospices in Northern Ohio and 158 in the state,” Finn says. “Part of what makes us unique is our ability to bring resources in a very significant way. Our scope of services, quality, reputation and innovation are the best, and it’s all based on customer service.”
This year, the Hospice of the Western Reserve celebrated its 35th anniversary. Finn wants to continue to focus on the matters that will keep the organization nationally recognized.
“Thirty-five years makes us one of the oldest hospices in America, and it’s a real testament to the staying power of the Hospice of the Western Reserve,” Finn says. “We talk about ourselves as the hospice of choice. When you have to make a choice about end-of-life care, we want to prompt you, educate you and support you in making the decisions that are best for you.”
Here’s how Finn continues to advance the Hospice of the Western Reserve while helping spread the word of its services and community programs.
Make the public aware
Not everyone wants to spend time thinking about end-of-life care, but it’s central and fundamental to what good living is all about.
“We make plans on how we want to retire,” Finn says. “We make plans on how we want to go to school and better ourselves and what we want out of work. We make plans on how and when to bring children into the world and raise them. Equally, we need to have a little bit of attention to say, ‘How would you like to live as you approach the end of your life?’”
The Hospice of the Western Reserve empowers its patients and families to be in charge of their care and make their own decisions, but ensures those people are making decisions that fit their needs best.
“We need to find the right touch points that help engage people in why these discussions are important and what they mean,” Finn says. “We are looking at how we influence people through community discussions and ways to engage, educate and empower people to make the decisions that are best for them when they find themselves in such circumstances.”
In addition to taking care of the elderly, the Hospice of the Western Reserve also provides care to a lot of different populations.
“We have one of the largest pediatric palliative care and hospice programs in the whole country,” he says. “What’s so unique about it is that it’s a pediatric-staffed program. We’ve taken the time and the cost to hire pediatric nurses, child-life specialists and people that have a bona fide expertise in pediatrics, and it makes a huge difference.”
Link to the community
It’s not just the people who come to the Hospice of the Western Reserve that receive the services of the organization. The Hospice of the Western Reserve is a community not for profit, and much of what it does every day creates linkages and webs into the community.
“One of the things we do that’s extremely unique is we have a nationally certified end-of-life library here,” Finn says. “It’s an actual library with a librarian. It not only serves professionals here in the U.S. but the entire world. The library has resources on a whole range of bereavement topics from things such as teen suicide to pet loss.”
Another resource offered by the Hospice of the Western Reserve is its community response to trauma. When there is a community tragedy such as a school shooting, teen suicide or car crash, its Elizabeth Severance Prentiss Bereavement Center is the first responder.
“The example that probably stands out the loudest is the Chardon tragedy,” he says. “When that happened, we did more counseling at Chardon than any other organization.
“We are back at Chardon often when these kinds of things hit the paper to help deal with kids who may be having horrible dreams and parents who are very nervous. Those are all natural responses, but they need help working that through.”
While work in the hospice field can be hard to handle more often than not, the Hospice of the Western Reserve strives to celebrate life.
“The more time you spend with us the more you realize this is not about death and dying,” Finn says. “That’s not why we’re here. That’s not what we do. What we do is make sure people live fully up until the moment they die, and we do that extraordinarily well.”
The hospice has a program it calls Life Enrichment in which patients can request to do one more thing before they die.
“As people approach the end of their life, sometimes it’s not the trip to Disney World,” he says. “Sometimes it’s talking to a brother they haven’t spoken to in 25 years, or someone who is worried their son won’t make it home from Afghanistan before they die.”
The hospice makes these wishes come true more than 1,000 times a year throughout 10 counties in Ohio.
“We do a lot of those things every day all over the 10 counties, and they are often unspoken and unseen except for the family that we’ve touched,” Finn says.
In addition to fulfilling patient requests, the hospice also gives patient’s families opportunities to spend time together through a program called Meal To Remember.
“When a family has something to celebrate or something to work through, it happens at the kitchen table,” he says. “That goes out the window when someone is sick.
“When somebody’s sick, all of a sudden you’re not eating dinner together. Life doesn’t feel normal anymore, and it certainly doesn’t feel enjoyable.”
Meal To Remember is a partnership with high-end restaurants to recreate that ability for families to be together at the table. Every month a different restaurant comes in and cooks a gourmet meal for the patients and their families.
“Often this is the last time patients are together with their extended family,” he says. “Many of our partner restaurants view this as the best use of their time and talents.”
To be a world-class health care provider, the organization has to empower others to use the talent and expertise it has developed.
“We are an education institute and train the next generations of physicians in hospice and palliative care,” Finn says. “We are contributing to the field pretty significantly, more than any other hospice in Ohio certainly, and maybe even in the Midwest.”
The hospice utilizes about 2,500 volunteers, which puts it in distinctive territory.
“We’re the largest user of volunteers after United Way in Ohio,” he says. “These folks do everything. These volunteers are incredibly talented people that are retired from a position of expertise and now they’re bringing that expertise over here to help us out.” ●
How to reach: Hospice of the Western Reserve, (800) 707-8922 or www.hospicewr.org
Competitive dynamics in the current environment suggest it is a seller’s market for high-quality businesses. Buyers are flush with cash, credit markets are wide open for business and valuations are rising.
The capital markets are white hot, lifting valuations of publicly traded companies. Broad market indices are at record highs, with the Standard & Poor’s 500 index and Dow Jones Industrial Average up 21 percent and 18 percent, respectively, through the year-to-date period.
In the low interest rate environment, buyers can afford to pay more, and are, as lenders accommodate higher leverage and borrower-friendly terms.
Private equity database PitchBook reported in its 2H 2013 Middle Market Report that the middle market median enterprise value to EBITDA multiple reached 10.5x in June 2013, supported by a median debt multiple of 6.1x — both decade highs. Purchase price multiples for strategic and financial buyers reached their highest level since the market peak in 2007, according to October data reported by S&P Leveraged Commentary & Data.
Companies that weren’t ready to go to market in 2012 because they needed another year of seasoning may now be primed to take advantage of favorable conditions. Valuations continue to be very competitive, so it is a good time to be a seller. ●
Andrew K. Petryk is managing director and principal of Brown Gibbons Lang & Co. LLC, an investment bank serving the middle market. Contact him at (216) 920-6613 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nanofilm Ltd. of Valley View announced it was merging with Applied Nanotech Holdings Inc. in a stock swap transaction. Nanofilm is a leading developer in nanotechnology with a leading market position for specialty optical coatings, cleaners and nano-composite products.
Empire Die Casting Co. Inc. of Macedonia received a letter of intent to be acquired by New Growth Capital Group. Empire Die Casting manufactures aluminum and zinc die cast parts for diverse applications including automotive, aerospace, medical equipment, home appliance and electronics. The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in October 2013.
The Riverside Co. acquired NJoy Baby S.L., expanding Riverside’s existing Baby Jogger platform. Based in Barcelona, Spain, NJoy is a designer and developer of strollers and related accessories that is best known for its innovative reversible umbrella stroller. Riverside also acquired employee-training company Catalyst Awareness, an add-on to Alchemy Systems platform. Riverside tallied 4 acquisitions in the month and 15year-to-date.
Linsalata Capital Partners and PNC Erieview Capital exited Royal Baths Manufacturing Co. Ltd. in a sale to Cotton Creek Capital Management LLC. Houston-based Royal makes acrylic and cultured marble bathroom products, including soaker and whirlpool bathtubs, vanity tops, sinks, shower walls and bases. Linsalata acquired the company in 2003.
A long-range plan recently adopted by the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, Focus on the Future, includes strategies and tactics that culminate in a single goal to increase the value members receive from their Ohio Chamber investment.
The thoughts, opinions and ideas of Ohio Chamber members are incorporated into Focus on the Future through the use of surveys and focus groups. Over the years, members have urged us to continue our focus on these areas: 1) advocating for Ohio businesses, 2) educating members on legislative and regulatory issues and 3) taking a proactive approach to political involvement.
These three member-directed priorities, supported by the chamber’s mission, vision and primary goal of increasing member value, are the backbone of Focus on the Future. As this long-range plan is implemented over the next five years, Ohio Chamber members will experience an organization with the following:
- A renewed sense of excitement and purpose.
- Greater firepower and resources to advocate for its members.
- An advanced technology platform to support better communications.
- Higher quality programs, services and events.
- A headquarters facility that meets the needs of its members and staff while appropriately reflecting the status of Ohio’s premier business organization.
The commitment and support of our members is not taken lightly. In return, we are committed to making their membership experience a high-quality one that gives back in a meaningful way. We look forward to implementing Focus on the Future, a plan for strengthening the Ohio Chamber for tomorrow and beyond. Here’s a brief description of the plan’s major initiatives:
A powerful force on Capital Square
Building on its strong reputation the Ohio Chamber will become an even more formidable force on Capital Square. New media strategies will help improve communication with members, government officials and the public.
In addition, new committee processes, grass root and key-influencer programs will be used to help make member participation easier and more effective.
A leader on economic and business research
As our states premiere business resource and advocate, the Ohio Chamber will increase its investments in producing solid economic information that is helpful to Ohio businesses and research that informs the public policy process.
A successful communicator
The Ohio Chamber’s multi-platform approach to communicating with our members will be enhanced by expanding social media strategies and updating our website.
Defining the chamber’s brand and improving our ability to implement public relations strategies will help build our name and image in every corner of the state.
A champion of quality membership experiences
Making sure members have a valuable and quality experience will continue to be a top priority. The number of chamber members will be increased, and even more importantly, the number of members who make a substantial investment in the work of the Ohio Chamber, our “Chamber Champions,” will be doubled over the next five years.
A sponsor of cost-effective programs, services and events
High-quality, cost-effective programs that help Ohio businesses save money will be offered and marketed statewide.
Additionally, opportunities to learn about key legislative and regulatory changes, attend events featuring business and government leaders, and network with policymakers and business colleagues will be offered in ways that facilitate effective participation.
A hub for business activity
Ohio Chamber members have access to our headquarters in downtown Columbus for chamber-sponsored events and activities, as well as member-initiated meetings.
New initiatives will help ensure ease of access to those opportunities and a physical infrastructure that supports the quality and quantity of member needs. ●
Linda Woggon is executive vice president of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce. As Ohio’s largest and most diverse statewide business advocacy group, the Ohio Chamber has been an effective voice for business since 1893. To contact the Ohio Chamber, call (614) 228-4201 or visit www.ohiochamber.com.