Sandra Philipson knew this even before she started writing children's books based on her springer spaniels Max and Annie. In the 1970s, she was the first female marketing manager at Macmillan Publishing Co. in New York City. She worked the phones and pounded the pavement of universities selling science, history and English textbooks to professors and instructors.
But even with a marketing machine like Macmillan behind her, books were still a tough sell.
"These nice people who want to write children's books look at you so sadly when you tell them this," Philipson says. "It is a huge, competitive business, and the big companies have all the advantages."
Her first book was based on her dog, Annie, who lost her front left leg to cancer. The incident inspired Philipson to write "Annie Loses Her Leg But Finds Her Way," which she felt would help children learn about loss and recovery. A second book, "Max's Wild Goose Chase," followed.
She didn't know what to do with her first story until her neighbor put her in touch with artist Robert Takatch, whom she asked to do sketches for the story. She was so impressed with his work that she decided her story could be much more than something to share with her family, but she was reluctant to submit it to a large publishing company.
"When you're working with a large publishing company, you don't have any control," she says. "They choose the illustrator. You would have no control over your cover, what the book looked like, and they would choose how the book will be marketed."
So Philipson decided to publish the books herself. But before she took them to the printer, she wrote a business plan with the help of two Cleveland State University business professors.
Based on their feedback, Philipson formed a Limited Liability Company made up of herself, Takatch and her husband, Elliot. After a first run of 6,000 copies, 3,000 of each book, Philipson planned her marketing campaign.
In less than two years, she has sold more than 11,000 books, mostly in Northeast Ohio. The rest of country is next.
"We knew that even if you have the best book in the world, people have to want to buy it," she says. "That's where the marketing comes in. I knew there needed to be a huge marketing push because there is a tremendous amount of competition.
"The big companies have the dollars and the marketing machine."
But limited funding doesn't mean you can't market; you just have to work harder. Philipson packed up her books and dogs and traveled to schools, dog shows, libraries and hospitals to push her product. A former economics, history and sociology teacher, Philipson called her education contacts to create a buzz. Even former First Lady Barbara Bush received copies of the books, and promptly sent Philipson a lengthy thank you note.
The word spread about Max & Annie. Philipson appeared on the cable network Animal Planet with her dogs. A mutual friend mentioned the books to Steve Austin, chief executive of Tag Entertainment, a Los Angeles motion picture company that produces family movies.
Austin negotiated with Philipson for several months before they agreed on a film adaptation of her first book. Filming is set to begin in March in Chagrin Falls.
The movie will star Robert Hays of the legendary "Airplane" movies and Robert Wagner, who is best known for his TV role in "Hart to Hart" but has recently appeared in several comedies, including the blockbuster "Austin Powers" movies.
"Today, people are staying at home and concentrating on families and looking for family entertainment," says Patricia Gillum of Tag Entertainment. "Animals relate very well to children. With many of our movies, the interaction of animals with human drama is intrinsic and our main goal." How to reach: Max & Annie LLC, (440) 893-9250
Morgan Lewis Jr. (firstname.lastname@example.org) is senior reporter at SBN Magazine.
Hit the streets
Sandra Philipson's strategic marketing tips for success
Test the product
Sandra Philipson called every friend she had in education and asked to read her book, "Annie Loses Her Leg But Finds Her Way," to students. She read to a variety of age groups, using two versions of the book, one with illustrations and one without.
She also tested it with elementary school teachers and librarians and made changes based on their suggestions.
"That's a very important market because they are on the front lines with the kids," she says. "They know what kids like, what inspires them, what interests them. I'm an educator, but elementary education was not my forte."
Analyze your market
Young families were an obvious market for Philipson, but she hadn't thought of two other specialized markets -- schools and medical centers.
So she created a step-by-step educational presentation about how she wrote and designed the books, then packed up her dogs and started making school visits. In last 18 months, she's been to 52 schools in the Midwest. Medical centers, while a natural fit for books like Philipson's, required a more delicate approach in the marketing effort.
"One thing I'm very careful about is I do not ever want anyone to perceive or think that I wrote this book to make money off children with cancer," Philipson says. "That is not the goal, and it's actually a very small part of our market."
Spread the word
Philipson held a book release party in Chagrin Falls, where she is based, and invited everyone she could think of, including friends of her husband, her illustrator and her book designer. She continues to market the books at every public event she attends, including conferences, speaking engagements and dog shows.
"I try to be out there," she says. "I try to be seen, to meet people, to tell them about my products, to tell them about my books and tell them about the educational program. You can't just sit in your ivory tower and hope to sell anything."
Build the brand
To help create a buzz behind her Max & Annie characters, Philipson found an area designer to create a plush stuffed Annie toy to sell with the books. She then found a stuffed animal toy company that already produced a springer spaniel stuffed toy and licensed it for the Max character.
"This could be the next 'Harry Potter,'" Philipson says. "The market for children is waiting for new characters. Max and Annie are those characters."
Morgan Lewis Jr.
Meaden & Moore joined 52 CPA firms across the nation in the merger of TAG International and AGN International-North America Inc. The merger creates an organization with 52 member firms and annual billings of nearly $400 million.
Mark Freeman Associates has been named agency of record for Safeguard Technology, a manufacturer of anti-slip floor, stair and walkway surfaces for commercial and industrial use.
First Federal of Lakewood has introduced Lakewood Investment Services, a business unit that offers investment products, financial planning and educational seminars. Bank customers can purchase individual securities through Financial Network Investment Corp. (FNIC) at all eight FFL branch locations.
Fifth Third Bank received top ratings from PLANSPONSOR Magazine's Defined Contribution Survey. The magazine says Fifth Third provides "exceptional customer service and the best retirement plan and pension products in the industry."
Lake Erie College's business administration program has been award accreditation by the International Assembly of Collegiate Business Education for its bachelor of science degrees in accounting, business administration and international business as well as its master's of business administration degree.
Silicone rubber compounder Silmix has been acquired by Michigan-based Wacker Silicones Corp.
Star Precision Products has been certified to the ISO 9001:2000 Without Design, International Quality System Standard.
Fire-Dex Inc. has upgraded its certificate to ISO 9001:2000 standards. The company is the first protective clothing manufacturer in the industry to receive this certification.
HI TecMetal Group's Brazing & Metal Treating subsidiary in Kentucky was honored by Ford Motor Co. with a Ford Q1 Quality Certification. The Ford Q1 status indicates that BMT-Kentucky is recognized as a Tier 1 and preferred supplier to Ford Motor Co.
Caster Connection has opened an office and warehouse complex in Novi, Mich. Caster distributes domestic and imported casters for the automotive, health care and restaurant industries.
Metal Supermarkets has opened a one-stop shop for small quantities of cut metal on West 140th Street in Brookpark.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Cleveland reports a banner year in 2001, in which it served 1,271 children. That's an increase of more than 51 percent over 2000, when the mentoring organization served 837 local youths.
A. LoPresti & Sons Inc. has joined PRO*ACT, a supplier of produce and perishables, as the group's 34th member. PRO*ACT provides produce category solutions and delivery service to foodservice organizations nationwide.
SALES & MARKETING
Sales Building Systems, specialists in building sales for restaurant and retail chains, has selected InfoGrow Corp. to provide online maps showing national retailers the untapped workplace market for each of their locations.
Today's rules of etiquette focus more on how well the function goes than on which fork you're using.
"The most talked about etiquette is which silverware to use, but most people will never know if you use the wrong fork," says Todd Thompson, service manager at Pier W restaurant in Lakewood. "Things have really mellowed out in terms of classic dining. It's more difficult to even find that kind of table service anymore. More and more places won't put out all the silverware, but instead replace it as needed."
More important is the overall impression your client gets from your function.
"When you're hosting a dinner for a client, the more important the meeting is, the more important it is to develop a relationship with wherever it is you are having dinner," says Thompson. "Most of what goes wrong is because of a lack of communication with the restaurant. People have expectations that don't get carried out."
When making a reservation, make sure the restaurant understands it's a business dinner so the staff can put you at an appropriate table.
"I've seen it countless times where someone doesn't communicate that fact and the table they really wanted isn't ready, so they have to wait 10 to 15 minutes while it's fixed -- and the dinner has already started on a bad note," says Thompson.
Take charge of your party if you have more than one person. Lead the others when being taken to your table and direct people to where they should sit, giving the most important person the seat with the best view.
"You don't need eight people milling about the table trying to figure out where to sit," says Thompson. "It gives the impression you don't know what you're doing."
Another way to keep things running smoothly is to arrange in advance for the bill to be paid. Either provide the restaurant with your credit card information before hand, or make impromptu arrangements during a trip to the restroom.
"Make sure the waiter takes care of it, and make sure the gratuity is put on it as well," says Thompson. "When a bill is subtly handed to you to sign, it makes you look classy and on top of your game."
It also eliminates any arguments over who will pay for dinner.
Developing a relationship with a restaurant can pay off big in making a good impression with your client.
"You can't overestimate the effect of the restaurant knowing who you are and recognizing you by sight," says Thompson. "When someone greets you by name, it really makes a difference."Join Pier W and SBN at Business Entertaining Etiquette on Feb. 19 and March 19, 2002, at Pier W to learn the rules of the game.
The arsenal of any mobile businessperson includes a mobile phone and a Palm handheld device. The phone keeps you in contact with the office and the rest of the world and the Palm keeps your relevant data close at hand.
But what if there was a merger between the two devices? The result is a smart phone featuring all the advantages of both rolled into one device.
The two most well-known smart phones with Palm functionality are the Kyocera QCP 6035 and the Samsung SPH-I300. The Samsung model was developed for Sprint, while the Kyocera is available from several wireless providers.
The Kyocera has a flip down keypad that exposes the full Palm screen, while the Samsung resembles a normal Palm device with a keypad showing on the full-color display screen.
"Mine is working out very well," says Andy Birol, a business consultant who spends most of his time out of the office. "I can now directly dial any number that's in my Palm Pilot, which is about 2,400 different numbers."
Birol, who has the Kyocera model, says you can also receive faxes and e-mails into the phone, but doesn't use that function much because of the memory limitations of the device.
When you need to access data while talking on the phone, you can activate the speakerphone function, allowing you to look up an address while still talking to your party. You can also record short voice memos, browse the Web, use voice activated-dialing and do about anything else you could do with your phone or Palm device separately.
"It's not for everyone," says Birol. "I'm a power user. For me, it takes the place of a lot of people and technology. It's expensive and requires some investment of time in learning how to use it."
The Kyocera phone has a suggested retail of $179.99, while the full-color Samsung model retails at $499.99. Both have battery lives of 3-4 hours of talk time and about 100 hours in standby mode.
Employers often choose not to bother doing so, but there are some legal reasons to keep an eye on what's going on.
"From a legal standpoint, many discrimination or sexual harassment claims state that someone used insensitive or inappropriate jokes in an e-mail," says Tom Simmons, partner and chair of the labor and employment practice group for the Cleveland office of Arter & Hadden. "These were forwarded on to other people, and they end up being used as evidence."
In harassment claims, pornographic e-mails are often the root cause.
"There are people that never in a million years would they walk down the hallway at work carrying a Penthouse Magazine, but they'll send pornographic e-mails to 20 co-workers," says Simmons. "I'll never understand why someone does that."
The other primary reason is to make sure employees aren't sending trade secrets or other confidential information to competitors. This is especially true when someone might be leaving the company.
Having an e-mail monitoring policy in place can help prevent all these potential problems. A strong policy may not necessarily lead to people being caught, but will probably have a preventative effect.
"You do have to be careful if you monitor e-mail," says Simmons. "The most common claims you get out of monitoring are either from the Federal Electronic Communications Privacy Act or an invasion of privacy."
To eliminate those violations, Simmons says you need to remove the expectation of privacy with a policy that:
- States e-mails will be monitored by the company.
- Explains that computer systems are company property and should only be used for business purposes.
- The employee signs, showing he or she understands the policy.
"There should also be some periodic reminder about the policy, at least every quarter or every month," says Simmons. "If you do your monitoring legally, you'll be less likely to be sued. If you do get sued, you'll be in a good position to win. If you have a policy and the employee signed off on it, they'll be in a difficult position to say they had an expectation of privacy."
The Cleveland Clinic Foundation
9500 Euclid Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44195
Phone: (216) 445-2990
Fax: (216) 445-6205
University Hospitals Sleep Center
University Hospitals of Cleveland
Department of Neurology
11100 Euclid Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44106
Phone: (216) 844-1301
Fax: (216) 844-8753
Sleep Disorders Program
MetroHealth Medical Center
2500 MetroHealth Drive
Cleveland, OH 44109
Phone: (216) 778-5985
Fax: (216) 778-8215
Sleep Disorders Center
6780 Mayfield Road
Mayfield Heights, OH 44124
Phone: (440) 646-8090
Fax: (440) 460-2805
Web Site: www.hillcresthospital.org/services/sleep_center.html
Sleep Disorders Center
Akron General Medical Center
400 Wabash Avenue
Akron, OH 44307
Phone: (330) 344-6751
Fax: (330) 344-6186
Chronic Pain Solutions
American Sleep Disorder Center
Beachwood, Ohio 44122
25825 Science Park Drive #100
Web site: email@example.com
Mercy Sleep Center
Mercy Medical Center
1320 Mercy Drive NW
Canton, OH 44708
Phone: (330) 489-1456
Fax: (330) 489-6039
Marymount Hospital Sleep Disorders Center
12300 McCracken Road
Garfield Heights, OH 44125
Phone: (216) 587-8151
Fax: (216) 587-8857
MGH Sleep Related Breathing Disorders Lab
Medina General Hospital
1000 East Washington Street
Medina, OH 44256
Phone: (330) 725-1000
Fax: (330) 721-4927
Ohio Sleep Disorders Centers
5590 Lauby Road
North Canton, OH 44720
Phone: (330) 498-5020
Fax: (330) 498-5022
Ohio Sleep Disorders Centers
150 Springside Drive
Montrose, OH 44333
Phone: (330) 670-1290
Fax: (330) 670-1292
Worthington Sleep Wake Center
7811 Flint Road
Columbus, OH 43235
Phone: (614) 848-4198
Fax: (614) 848-3717
Doctors Hospital Sleep Diagnostic Services
1087 Dennison Avenue
Columbus, Ohio 43201
Eastside Sleep Diagnostic Center
81 Outerbelt Street
Columbus, OH 43213
Phone: (614) 751-2141
Fax: (614) 866-9131
Web site: www.ohiohealth.com
Riverside Methodist Hospital Sleep Center
Riverside Methodist Hospital
3535 Olentangy River Road
Columbus, OH 43214
Phone: (614) 566-5270
Fax: (614) 566-6877
Regional Sleep Disorder Center
Columbus Community Health
1430 South High Street
Columbus, OH 43207
Phone: (614) 443-7800
Fax: (614) 443-6960
Web site: www.thesleepsite.com
Findlay Ear, Nose & Throat Associates Inc.
1725 Western Avenue
Web site: www.findlayent.com
Ohio Sleep Disorders Center
150 Springside Drive #B200
Cuyahoga Falls General Hospital
Falls Sleep Disorders Facility
1900 23rd Street
Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio
Children's Hospital Medical Center of Akron
Sleep and Apnea Center
1 Perkins Square
Ohio Sleep Center
130 W. Exchange Street
To learn more about sleep deprivation and disorders, see the national resources available via the Internet.
The World Health Report 2001
Mental Disorders in Primary Care
The National Sleep Foundation
Med Help International
Medline Plus Health Information
A service of the National Library of Medicine
Somewhat to Bell's surprise, a dozen hands went up. One member of the crowd actually pulled the company's most successful product, a Lip Smacker, from her pocket and held it aloft in the air.
If you're unfamiliar with Lip Smackers or Bonne Bell odds are that you never have been a teenage girl. For the uninitiated, Bonne Bell and the three generations of Bells that have run the company since 1927 are in the business of beauty.
A key component of the company's 75 years of success has been well-timed product launches – 10-0-6 in the late 1930s and Lip Smackers in the early '70s. Another is the family's ability to latch onto, and continue to appeal to, the teen and pre-teen market.
When it debuted in 1973, Lip Smackers was the first flavored lip gloss to hit the market. For those of us who grew up then, it was more than lipstick. It was a social necessity. But the appeal of the big fat tube of grape-flavored lip-stuff is just one part of Bonne Bell's story. That's because being first to market doesn't ensure success.
So how has this 75 year-old family-owned firm remained an industry leader in the company of the corporate powerhouses in the cosmetic world?
Innovative ideas? Yes. Quality products and good timing? Absolutely. But what has really kept Bonne Bell a leader is its ability to stay cool and understand its target market – teenage girls.
The simple fact is, teenage girls like make-up. That's one of the few constants there are with Bonne Bell's audience. Tween and teens have always influenced some of their parents' purchases, but now they have markets of their own and they know exactly what they want.
"Today, both parents work, so grandparents tend to indulge," explains Jess Bell, who also points out that many teens work or have sizable allowances to augment their purchasing power.
So not only has the size of Bonne Bell's market grown, but so has the spending volume of its customer base. Teens and tweens represent 40 million consumers that spend an aggregate $155 billion each year. And, according to the market research firm Teen Research Unlimited, girls and boys between the ages of 13 and 19 last year anted up more than $9 billion for cosmetics, fragrances and other beauty products.
A "tween," in marketing terms, is someone between the ages of 8 and 12, explains Jeff Stein, managing director of McDonald Investments. There are a few other things to know about this group.
They are growing. Census estimates predict the number of children in the U.S. between the ages five and 14 to reach 40.4 million by 2003.
They make money. About $12 billion a year by most estimates.
And, they spend money. Stein puts that number around $90 billion a year. They are, he says, "a very fickle group."
"It's a tough demographic to predict," says Stein. "They don't know that we are in a recession. They don't care when interest rates go up or down. It's all about what is the latest and greatest."
Teens respond to market influences in a very different way than adults.
With adult markets, a company's options are infinitely greater. A single brand can appeal differently to the family man, with promises of security and stability, or the working woman, with efficiency and quality. But the youth market doesn't look at things that way. With them, it's all about the latest trend. And trends are nearly impossible to anticipate.
In the traditional manufacturing town of Cleveland, Bonne Bell is one of the oldest and most successful family-run businesses. But instead of large steel beams and machine parts, the Bells deal with big vats of sweet smelling pink wax and glitter powder.
The company was founded in 1927, after the senior Jesse G. Bell moved his family across the country. Today, Bonne Bell is run by Jess "Buddy" Bell, grandson of Jesse G. Bell, and son of the charismatic Jess Bell. Two other Bells are key members of the senior management team – Hillary Bell, Buddy's wife and director of brand development, and James Bell, Buddy's brother and the company's senior vice president. And, as it is with many family businesses, every member of the Bell family can recite the story of Jesse G. Bell and his trek to Cleveland to start the cosmetics company.
"My grandfather started by producing products on a hotplate in the back of an apothecary," says James Bell, senior vice president of international business development. Back then, cosmetics were sold door-to-door out in the field. Bell saw an opportunity. "He realized that women's cosmetics was recession-proof. He could go to any community, no matter what the economic level, and sell."
Bell then sought out a central location from which to sell his product.
"Whenever he heard of a salesman wining an award, the guy was from Cleveland," James recalls.
The senior Bell tells the same story.
"He had never been to Cleveland before," says Jess, picking up the tale from where his son left off. "What he did know is that Cleveland is within 500 miles of half of the population of the U.S. and that it must be a salesman's paradise."
The company, named after Jess Bell's sister, Bonne, began by offering a limited line of women's face powder and cleansing or vanishing cream. With that as its core product, Bonne Bell survived the Great Depression. But it wasn't until 1936 when the company's first signature product left its mark on the cosmetics industry. Until then, Bonne Bell was just another in a growing line of adult cosmetics firms. Formula RX1006, which was later shortened to 10-0-6, marked a turning point for the company.
"From that day the company had direction," explains Jess Bell.
As an astringent face cleanser, 10-0-6 was initially marketed as a woman's product. But it was more than that. Ten-oh-six was, in fact, a harbinger for the direction the company would eventually move.
There's a distinct odor that hangs in the air at the Bonne Bell production facilities in Westlake. You can smell it the moment you reach the parking lot. That smell attaches itself to your clothes and leaves with you. It's the smell of childhood, of giggling girls, and roller skating parties.
The company's production facility is housed in what can best be described as a Kentucky farm house. It's large, meticulously clean and well lit. In the middle of the facility are huge 700-gallon vats of pink thick goo that fill a half-million bottles, sticks and pots every day.
James Bell says the proprietary blended base of Lip Smackers is not what makes it one of the leading products in the cosmetic markets. "It's the flavor and the fragrance that gives it the real pop," he says, adding that the basic ingredients of Lip Smackers are not very complex. "We have a blend of five waxes. With the truth-in-labeling laws, anyone with a basic knowledge of chemistry can reproduce (it)."
In fact, for the first time in its corporate history, Bonne Bell executives applied for a patent, for Lip Sours, a tangy, citrus flavored lip product.
"It's innovative," explains Bell.
When asked if Lip Sours is the first sour lip product in the market, Bell is quick to say, "It's not the first, but it's the best." And, while that doesn't mean the product will definitely be another Lip Smackers, it does indicate one thing – in this highly competitive marketplace, the Bells have learned to move fast.
"One of our strengths is that we can react quickly and have a good knowledge of the consumer," James says. As proof, he points to the moisturizing and protecting ingredient in Lip Smackers, the improvement in raw materials and the meticulous testing and quality assurance at the Westlake production facility.
The more you learn about the company, the more you realize that although it's all part of the finished package, a Bonne Bell product is more than a sum of its parts.
Ironically, it was during the make-up minimalist '70s when Jess Bell brought to market the company's most successful product line, Lip Smackers. In 1973, when the first iteration of Lip Smackers was rolled out, it was the first flavored lip gloss to hit what was a suddenly expanding teenage and youth market.
By then, the company had long abandoned the adult cosmetic market to focus on girls in their late teens. It was in response to a landscape that changed dramatically after World War II. The Bells recognized the emergence of a distinct teen market, and with it, vehicles like the new Seventeen Magazine, where Bonne Bell could properly target its products.
"Nineteen fifty-seven brought the beginning of the baby boomers," says Jess. "We saw that a market was developing in the teenagers. We realized we were up against too much competition with the 35-and-older market."
Businesses like Arden and Revco held a veritable lock on the mature audience. Bell and his father understood that the competition was simply too steep to continue in their current market space.
"At the time, no one was promoting or marketing to the teenager, so we moved totally in that direction," Bell says.
It was an easy decision to make because the company had been struggling. It paid off, injecting Bonne Bell with new life.
The junior Bell, like his father, found that it only took one product to suddenly change the company's fortunes. "It was a bit happen chance," says Jess. "There was not a great deal of studies done or market group research completed."
Nevertheless, Lip Smackers had an immediate impact. Says Bell, "It was our most successful product."
Bonne Bell plays in a market space in the midst of massive expansion.
Research shows this group is growing at an exceedingly quick pace. "We figured if we get them young enough, we would have a good share of the older market," Bell says.
The "older market," teenagers, is a prized consumer group. According to the market research firm Geppetto Group, teenagers shop as often as 54 times a year, much more than their adult counterparts. Today's teenagers also receive larger allowances than ever before, and a sizable portion of that money is spent on cosmetics. This year, sales of teenage beauty products are expected to reach $10 billion.
In 1998, the youth market accounted for nearly 20 percent of the $28.4 billion spent in U.S. cosmetic and toiletry sales. That has been growing at a rate of close to 8 percent a year.
It hasn't taken very long for Bonne Bell's competitors to understand the vast potential of the youth market and adapt. Old-line cosmetics firms have expanded their product lines to include lip gloss. A host of start-ups such as Too Faced and Jane's Cosmetics joined the race to introduce the next cool thing. And, retailers like Wal-Mart have opened their own in-store teen beauty centers to tap into the market. Bonne Bell may be a brand to be reckoned with, but in the fickle mind of the teenager brand loyalty is not enough to stay ahead of the pack. In 2000, new product launches in the cosmetic industry accounted for 6 percent of total sales with lip gloss remaining the fastest-growing segment.
Since 1999, sales have increased by more than 40 percent. All of this reveals that Bonne Bell's competition has not only grown quite a lot, but there seems to be no end in sight.
On the surface, it sounds like it should be a no-brainer to jump into this market space. The only problem is that teenagers tend to be stingier with their money than adults. That's because they don't always know when they can expect more cash in their pockets. Teen incomes also tend to be more sporadic, with fluctuating allowances accounting for a large portion of what they view as income.
So capturing and hanging onto this consumer group is a true challenge that few companies have been able to master.
Doing it consistently is what separates Bonne Bell from the pack.
It should come as no surprise that Jess Bell Sr. is passionate about the company's seniors program, which provides jobs for several dozen retirees over the age of 55.
Apparently, there must be something about working in a perpetually youthful industry that keeps people perpetually young.
At 76, Bell looks like a man at least a dozen years his junior and still runs marathons. He compliments his son – and successor – on the new glitter body powder using words like "neat" and "really cool." But the senior Bell is quick to direct all questions about new product development, marketing and international expansion to the two people who are responsible for that growth – his son, "Buddy" Bell, and Buddy's wife, Hillary.
"You reach a point where you can't contribute as much if you're not reading teen magazines and watching the news enough to keep abreast of the changes," says Jess Bell on his retirement a few years ago, when he passed the company reins on to his two sons, Buddy and James.
Officially, Jess is still chairman and acts as consultant, but his main responsibility is oversight of a rather successful senior's work program that operates out of the Lakewood headquarters. While Jess focuses there, Buddy and James, along with Hillary, have undertaken extensive market research initiatives and acted accordingly. They've engaged in trend analysis and product expansion. Since 1995, Bonne Bell expanded its product line to better encompass the cosmetic market instead of primarily focusing on lipgloss. They've also moved from department stores to big box retailers.
International expansion, says Jess, marks the next new era for the company.
But product expansion since the new management team took over has been the key driver to the company's recent surge.
"It is a whole different brand and line of cosmetics," says Hillary. "It's Lip Smackers, its gloss, lip lites, lip rush."
Buddy says everything about the expanding product is important – the flavors, colors, packaging style. "We try to create point of difference," he says.
Presentation, the Bells maintain, is everything. So it should come as no surprise that visitors to the Bonne Bell headquarters in Lakewood, or the production facility in Westlake, find themselves leaving with a purple box filled with goodies. For the most part, journalists shy away from accepting gifts from the subjects of their articles, but there is something about a tissue-lined purple box of fruit-smelling, glitter laden girly-stuff that no red-blooded American woman can resist.
"That's what's cool," says a co-worker about my Flip Gloss, a slim, trim lip gloss I received during my first interview with the Bell family. "Everyone in my daughter's high school has one of those," she adds with a nod. And it is cool. The actual lip gloss moves in a fluid motion as a small lever on the side is pushed up and the top flips up.
"Through the years we have developed a following," says Jess, who smiles when he thinks about his customer base. "The economy today favors our audience."
Each Bell used the same word separately when talking about their product – loyalty. That loyalty is evident in today's consumers, who live and die by the color of their Lip Smackers, and by the mothers and grandmothers who have grown up with Bonne Bell's products.
"Business continues to be steady for cosmetics," says Stein. However, steady doesn't mean consistent. "With teens, the market shifts radically and is a challenge to predict."
For any line to sustain longevity, it has to maintain a certain perception.
"Brands mean a lot," Stein says. "And brands that are positioned to appeal to a lifestyle rather than an age group will have a broader appeal."
This is another piece of the Bell legacy.
Although the Bells focuses mainly on the teen and tween market, lately the product line has been expanded to include an older consumer.
"We try to not to look at chronological age," explains Hillary. "It is a mind set – a young at heart spirit. We have 20- and 30-year-old women who use it. It has a universal appeal."
And, while Bonne Bell's target market may be relatively specific, what affects those trends is much more widespread.
"The hot thing in the last five years is glimmer and shimmer," says Hillary. "It's part because of technology and part because of societal trends."
Hillary and her staff look at everything from the metallic paint in cars to what Britney Spears wears to the MTV awards.
"The trick," she says, "is how to pull those trends down to our specific market."
Spears may be a woman now, but Hillary points out that it wasn't that long ago when the pop superstar was a somewhat innocent make-up wearing teenager.
"Britney Spears changed when girls wear cosmetics," says Hillary.
Not just when, but also how much. It may be tempting not to take Spears seriously, but it is important to understand the influence music plays in the tween and teen psyches. Music spending is on the rise and ranks higher even than popular video games.
When you consider that these age groups are more affluent than ever, with the average tween receiving $10 each week and teens as much as $32 per week in personal spending money, the buying power of this group quickly adds up.
By the beginning of the 1990s, it was apparent that Bonne Bell's products needed a shift from department store sales to the world of mass retail. Jess Bell says department stores simply weren't promoting youth cosmetics effectively, and the company's sales during the '80s reflected that erosion.
"Chains like Wal-Mart and Target are very interested in the teen and preteen audience," says Jess. "We had to go after (them), but first we had to prove ourselves to them."
Getting space on the shelves wasn't so much the issue as getting the fickle chains to place and promote Bonne Bell's products as cosmetics of choice for the teen crowd.
"These chains were not in the business of promoting product," Jess says, adding that now the big box retailers are one of the company's most powerful sales outlets. Once again, part of Bell's decision to change strategy arose from necessity.
Because they're a privately held company, the Bells don't disclose exact sales and earnings numbers. But they do say the company's sales were more than $100 million last year. And, with the continued growth of the youth market, Buddy and his team have cast their gaze overseas.
The universal appeal of Bonne Bell's products, and the similarity of marketing to a global audience, makes the move easier to undertake today than it would have been a decade ago.
"Culturally, kids and teens are not that different," Buddy says. "The U.S. is such a strong influence. And now, we are more focused on consumer trends tastes and preferences."
How to reach: Bonne Bell Inc., (216) 221-6256 or www.bonnebell.com
Many smaller companies followed suit, primarily because Linux-based systems were much less expensive and easier to use. The popularity of Linux-based operating system for file servers is particularly strong, outpacing installations of Microsoft's Windows NT file server product in 1999 and 2000. Last year looks to be no exception.
But what about its popularity Cleveland and Northeast Ohio and its future?
"Cleveland is a (Microsoft) NT town," says Jim Fisher, president of Web developer IdeaStar Inc. in Garfield Heights. "One big trend we're expecting is the growth of Linux in the market (in 2002.)"
Finnish IT student, Linus Torvalds, created Linux in 1991 basically as a clone of the Unix operating system for his home PC so he could communicate with his university's computer. He put the system on the Internet and drew widespread interest from developers around the world. Due to the open code, the system had been modified a countless number of times. The only intellectually property Torvalds owns is the trademark name Linux.
Your office might already have a Linux-based system running its file server, or even as the operating system on your desktop PCs. Here's why the system is so popular and starting to ruffle Microsoft's feathers.
Linux is free, open source software. Users can change the system for their needs, but they have to share their changes with the rest of computing world, unlike Microsoft. Distributors like Red Hat, the market leader, and Corel design pre-configured Linux systems complete with applications and sell them. Even then, the user can tweak the system for his or her needs. Fisher says more companies are finding the switch is worth the trouble.
"With NT, whenever you want to update it, you plug it in hope and pray that the stuff still runs," Fisher says. "With Linux you don't run into those problems. It's a much more powerful and secure development platform."
Linux-based systems, including e-mail, are safer from viruses than Microsoft applications because there are only a handful of them out there and they are easier root out due to the open source nature of the systems.
It takes 10 servers equipped with Windows NT to run what one server equipped with a Linux-based system could handle.
"The capacity for handling volumes of traffic is much greater than an NT user," Fisher says. "Companies are starting to discover that just because it's free doesn't mean it's bad."
The lack of licensing fees means companies can save 95 percent on installation of a server operating system if it's Linux-based system, according to German commercial distributor SuSe Linux AG. That means 20 workstations plus a file server would cost about $7,000 for Windows-based system and $60 for Linux-based.
How to reach: IdeaStar, (216) 587-9300 or www.ideastar.com.
Biotech may not provide jobs for the masses, but Dr. Gary Procop, head of clinical biology at The Cleveland Clinic Foundation, knows his work will affect local businesses and average Americans alike. Procop specializes in pathology, but it's his subspecialty, clinical microbiology, that is creating interest at diagnostic labs.
"There is new technology that is allowing a diagnosis to be made much more rapidly and with an equal or higher degree of accuracy than has ever been possible before," explains Procop.
The Clinic has approximately 125 staff investigators and annual research expenditures of more than $70 million.
It is one of the largest private research facilities in the nation.
The hot technology to hit the Clinic's labs is Rapid Polymerase Chain Reaction, or Rapid PCR. With Rapid PCR, a clinical biologist can identify an organ or gene by amplifying the DNA.
This is the same technology used today in the newly developed rapid anthrax test.
Even a very minute amount of an infecting organism can be detected with Rapid PCR. Quicker DNA analysis means quicker diagnosis and quicker treatment. Says Procop, "It all really hinges on the right diagnosis in the lab."
For example, Legionella, the primary cause of Legionares disease, previously took 10 days for a cultural analysis. With Rapid PCR, doctors can have an answer in less than an hour.
The clinical microbiology lab at the Clinic is conducting tests with up-and-coming equipment, such as the the Smart Cycler by Cepheid, which is designed to provide Rapid PCR results by merging microelectronics and molecular biology.
The Clinic is also developing its own marketable test methodology through its Innovations Department, the marketing side of the Clinic, which protects intellectual property developments.
Tests methods developed in Procop's lab are in use at a Cincinnati hospital and are currently being studied at Ohio State University.
One of the most expensive aspects of healthcare is hospitalization. The quicker patients are able to return home, the lower overall average treatment cost.
"No doubt about it…if you can make a quick, accurate diagnosis, get accurate treatment started, you can get people out of the hospital faster, it translates into cost savings," says Procop.
So where is the future of health care headed?
Better delivery. Faster analysis. Better results. Lower costs. And it's moving there quicker every day.
How to reach:The Cleveland Clinic, www.clevelandclinic.org
Document management would be great if you could afford it, right? Odds are, you might already have the needed equipment in place, you just need to connect them together.
"Most of the time, companies have what they need to improve document management," says David Fazekas, vice president of the Great Lakes region for Xerox Connect. Many of today's copiers are multi-functional devices that can print, fax, scan and store documents.
"Once a device gets hooked into a network, you have a device that can do the job of what 10 to 12 printers can do," says Fazekas.
Printers are cheap because companies are making money on the supplies -- money that comes out of your pocket. If you can consolidate multiple printers into one device, supply expenses should drop.
"Some companies never budgeted a line item for printer supplies," says Fazekas. "It was just lumped into office supplies, so they didn't realize how much they were spending."
Savings can reach $5,000 per person in some environments, which means that even if you don't have the necessary equipment in place, leasing or buying it may prove cost effective if you have high print volumes.
Using a few multifunctional devices rather than a combination of copiers, fax machines, printers and scanners also allows your maintenance costs to be consolidated to one vendor.
"About 90 percent of the companies we work with have found that they would benefit from document management," says Fazekas. "A CFO can see real cost savings. If we remove five printers that cost $6,000 in supplies annually and aren't being used to their capacity and route documents through one machine that has the capacity, the savings become apparent."
With document management, the need to print many documents is completely eliminated. Expense reports, for example, can be scanned in along with any necessary documentation and signed electronically. Those files are then sent through the network to the administrator who processes them. The documents are stored in case of the need of an audit or if additional changes are needed.
"You simply use technology that's available to be more efficient," says Fazekas. "Just look at your specific business processes and teach people they don't need to be making all those copies."
The other advantage to document management is that it sets the table for knowledge management -- a process where a company is essentially storing all its data in one central database.
"It gets what's in people's heads and what's in the file drawers and creates a culture where everyone opens up and shares information," says Fazekas. "It will be the next big technology migration. It's coming slower to market because of the economy right now.
"The key to this is, in an economy where cost savings is important, everyone should be looking at document management. It saves money and sets the table for knowledge management later on."