Cleveland (5895)

Many people ask me how the new generation of leadership can honor the family legacy and tradition while still putting its own “stamp” on the company culture. This can be particularly difficult today when we have so many generations working in the same place. However, history and tradition form a strong foundation for the company culture and provide stability and help to build loyalty.

Below are some techniques that I often share with clients that have a desire to preserve and honor the best of the past while evolving the company culture to support the generations of the future. 

Interview the elders

First, if you are in the new generation of leadership, you might consider interviewing members of your founding generation. Consider asking them about the values that were most important to them as they grew their business.

If your founding leaders are no longer alive or able, you could consider interviewing the oldest employees, or thinking back to some of your earliest memories of your parents, grandparents and others who worked in the company.

The next step is to answer those same questions yourself. In particular, how would you like to be similar to or different from the leaders of the past? Compare and contrast the values that you hold most dear, and the attributes of the people that you like to be surrounded with and consider as leaders.

Take the time to write it down. Think about ways to distinctly describe the traditional culture that was developed by your forebears. Once you’ve decided which aspects of that culture you wish to preserve and what you would like to change, rewrite a description of your company culture and values.  

Hold an encounter

Several years ago I was working with a large family business. During our first family governance meeting, I divided the room in half, with parents and grandparents on one side of the room, and grandchildren and great-grandchildren on the other side. I gave each side a large piece of paper and asked them to write down the most appreciated values and characteristics that the other team brought to the company.

I asked the older generation to report first, and it was magical to watch the faces of the younger generation as they heard their parents and grandparents describe the value of their energy, fresh ideas, connectivity and sense of wonder.

The most touching moment, however, came as the children rolled out an exhaustive list of attributes they valued in their parents and grandparents. It was a wonderful way to develop a foundation for their family governance.

Expand the presence of the culture

Another important step in both honoring tradition and developing one’s own company culture is to utilize the cultural description of the company in policies, procedures, plans and professional development materials. Some questions to ask:

  • How does your strategic plan reflect and support your company culture?
  • What behaviors do you recognize, reinforce and reward in your organization? Do they support your company culture, or do they work to undermine that culture?
  • Are you able to translate the language in your company culture and values into specific behaviors that you would like to see demonstrated by employees?
  • What are five things that you as a leader do daily to support and nurture your company culture and the values you hold dearly?

Our country’s small businesses have a unique capacity to provide this legacy, honoring the best of the past and valuing new opportunities for the future.

Lisë Stewart founded Galliard Group in 2004 to serve the unique needs of family-owned and closely-held businesses. For more information, visit


I first visited Ohio City in the early ’80s with my parents and six siblings to shop at the West Side Market, and I remember my immigrant mother and first-generation father sharing their love of the old-world vibrancy of the market. I also remember how dilapidated the surrounding neighborhood was — but how it had a soul and energy that the insipid suburbs lacked.

Fast forward to the early ’90s. I was studying urban planning at Cleveland State University’s Urban Studies College, and I had a number of opportunities to study aboard. There was a trip to my family’s farm in Ireland and later a summer in Poland, along with more than a dozen backpacking trips to Europe, Asia, South America, the Middle East and all across North America. I’d become fascinated with cities and the way the best of them can make the lives of their citizens robust and happy. 

These travels inspired new ideas to bring back home and have also made me love Cleveland all the more. It seems that the people who complain about Cleveland are the ones who don’t have a passport.  

The rebirth begins

I opened my first restaurant on a whim during my junior year at CSU. After an eight-year run, CSU refused to renew the lease and I was on the hunt for a new location. After considering cities across the country and overseas, I realized how lucky we were to live in Cleveland at that moment in time. The opportunity present in this “post-industrial frontier” was astounding, and there was no better example than Ohio City. Wanting to control our real estate, my business partners and I were able to purchase the real estate for our first Ohio City venture — McNulty’s Bier Markt, Bar Cento and Speakeasy — for $400,000.

That’s less than my Manhattan friends were paying for a closet-sized condo. The year was 2003, and people all over thought we were crazy to invest in blighted Ohio City. They thought we were completely insane when we bought the building across the street that was condemned and vacant to open Market Garden Brewery.

Then something happened: We were joined by many other like-minded entrepreneurs who opened fantastic owner-operated businesses like Crop Bistro, Soho Kitchen, Bonbon Pastry, Joy Machines Bike Shop, Johnnyville Slugger Custom Baseball Bats, Vision Yoga and many more. 

The skeptics went quiet when they saw that the rising tide actually was lifting all ships. The urban pioneering Conway brothers of Great Lakes Brewing Co. saw record sales at their 25-year-old brewpub. The 101-year-old West Side Market hasn’t been this busy in decades. And now our biggest challenge in Ohio City is finding parking for the thousands of cars that visit each week.  

But something else happened too. All of a sudden, everyone wanted in on Ohio City. The rent on my one bedroom apartment above Third Federal Savings & Loan went up to $1,075 per month and a years-long waiting list formed for housing in the neighborhood.

As of this writing, there was only one available storefront north of Lorain Avenue and nearly 500 residential units are under construction or shovel-ready within a 10-minute bike ride. I just bought a scruffy piece of land a three-minute walk away and will build seven fee-simple townhomes where my mortgage will be less than my current rent. Naysayers will cry “gentrification,” progressive thinkers will see that progress and revitalization is happening at a pace and scale rarely seen.

Recognizing the need to diversify Ohio City’s retail so it’s not simply a restaurant/bar/brewpub district, we are actively promoting and collaborating with other forms of retail. And we’re putting our money where our mouths are by purchasing the Culinary Arts Building on West 24th Street and working to convert it to a 43,000-square-foot fermentation facility with a retail store open six days a week selling our house-made beer, whiskey, cheese, charcuterie, kombucha, vinegar, pickles and so on. We’ll also offer tours, classes, cooking demonstrations and culinary training programs on site.

Get back on your feet

So what does the future hold for Ohio City?

Now that the commercial corridor is vibrant and largely full, the big push is on housing. As the oldest residential neighborhood in Cleveland, we’ve got an amazing stock of beautiful historic homes. While most have been painstakingly restored, there are still historic restoration opportunities. New construction — both for sale and for rent — is where we can bring in the thousands of housing units that are in demand. I’m in the process of buying buildable land within a 15-minute bike ride of the West Side Market to meet the huge demand for housing close to the energy of West 25th Street. 

There is much concern voiced about the high demand for parking in Ohio City. While it’s a great problem to have, it also performs double duty as a motivation to build out our neighborhood densely and vertically, with a strong bent toward public transport, protected bike lanes and walkable areas. When I move into the new townhomes in Duck Island (just next to the Velvet Tango Room), my walk to work will go from crossing the street to a whopping three minutes. And what was once a blighted piece of derelict land at the corner of Abbey Road and Columbus Avenue will soon be home to seven townhomes.

Sometimes people cringe when they hear words like density, walkability and bike lanes. Funny how they love these things in cities like Paris that were designed before the automobile became the exclusive focus of city planners. It’s ironic when the same people that are skeptical of bicycle commuting in the winter would think nothing of skiing at sub-zero temperatures and enjoying a beer après-skiing ankle deep in snow. Maybe it’s time we start living the lifestyle we so admire when we holiday overseas. Or more likely, it’s getting back to Cleveland’s roots. 

Ohio City was once a dense, vibrant, walkable neighborhood with department stores, hardware shops, dentists, doctors, taverns and breweries galore. I hope it will be once again. We certainly are well on our way ... and the best is yet to come! ●

Sam McNulty is an entrepreneur and owner of Market Garden Brewery & Distillery, Nano Brew, Bar Cento, Speakeasy and McNulty’s Bier Markt in Ohio City. For more information, visit


The recent real estate crisis has left cities, towns and neighborhoods with real potential as well as real problems. Alan Jaffa and Safeguard Properties see both the potential and problems as growing business opportunities.

Founded in 1990 by Robert Klein, Safeguard Properties has grown from a regional preservation company with a few employees and a handful of contractors performing services in the Midwest to the largest mortgage field services company in the country today.

“I’m not going to dismiss the fact that the housing crisis had an increase in our volume,” says Jaffa, who became Safeguard’s CEO in May 2010. “Some have said, ‘Wow, Safeguard. You got into this business at the right time.’ We’ve been in this business 24 years and we’ve seen growth every year. We’ve seen growth over the last handful of years due to new clients, an acquisition and an increase in volume because default rates have gone up.”

Providing services in all 50 states, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, Safeguard employs 1,700 people and is supported by a nationwide vendor network trained and qualified to perform a full range of inspections, property preservation services, maintenance work, and repair and rehab services.

The more than $1 billion company sits atop its industry, and Jaffa is continuing to find ways to keep the company in the No. 1 spot.

“The timing of the shift of me becoming CEO was an interesting time in our industry,” Jaffa says. “Safeguard has always had phenomenal growth, but during the mortgage crisis our growth certainly spiked. A year ago we did an acquisition that gave us substantial growth as a company that continues what this business was really built on, staying true to the core of what it is that we do.”

Now Jaffa is building off that momentum and looking toward the future.


Find new opportunities

While Safeguard was anything but lacking growth, Jaffa knew there were chances to grow the company in new ways. In 2012, Bank of America offered Safeguard that chance.

“Bank of America, through its Countrywide Financial Corp. acquisition in 2008, acquired a field service company that conducted similar processes to what we do, but strictly for Bank of America,” Jaffa says. “BOA has been divesting itself of many of those acquired affiliates, and we purchased their field service company, Bank of America Field Services, in September 2012.”

Bank of America needed to ensure that it was partnering with the right buyer, since the deal would be a long-term relationship.

“BOA viewed us, as others do, as the industry leader,” he says. “When it came to protecting and preserving their assets, they wanted a partner, and hence sold their field service company to the industry leader.”

From a volume perspective, gaining Bank of America as a client has almost doubled the size of Safeguard.

“The acquisition created a buzz and energy in this company that was different than what our typical growth has created before,” Jaffa says. “Now that we’ve done this acquisition, and it has doubled our business, we can’t lose focus of Safeguard Properties and what it is that we do here.”

The Bank of America acquisition was the first that Safeguard has done. The company has built its growth through customer service, relationships and organic growth.

“Our growth has been through the reputation that we have built for ourselves and gaining additional clients,” he says. “That is how we have continued to see growth. Of course, we have expanded our services. Twenty-four years ago, the services may have been a lot smaller in scope of what we do today for our clients, but we are still very focused on the property and preserving and taking care of that property.”

Like anything else, the needs of Safeguard’s clients and of this country when it comes to housing have grown. The company continues to support those needs while determining what it needs to do next.

“It comes down to surrounding yourself with the right people, and people who are smarter than you are,” Jaffa says. “This company would not have had the growth that it has had without having the right people in place.”

Jaffa says another key is staying true to your core values. Despite how much Safeguard has grown, Jaffa isn’t straying from those values.

“We’ve become a large company,” he says. “Walking in here every morning and leaving at night, I never let it get to my head that we’ve become so large. I know I am the same person walking in here every morning, and I’m the same type of person walking out as I was 19 years ago. Sometimes you see too many executives who let that get to their head, and you can’t let that happen.”


Growing pains

Despite Safeguard’s ability to grow each year and work its way to the top of its industry, the company has still faced challenges. With so many of its employees out in the field, technology has been one of its biggest.

“Technology for us has been phenomenal,” Jaffa says. “However, every six months technology becomes outdated, and keeping up is a challenge. As a company we have been extremely aggressive in our budgeting and spending to be in front of technology, because it is a huge driver for us in order to continue on the path we are on.”

Technology can be your biggest friend or your biggest challenge. It’s all on how you attack it.

“We can’t get our job done unless the people in the field get the work done,” he says. “The days of paper are long gone. We are in an environment today where we expect responses from people at properties in the field. The mobile technology is tremendous in our space. Real-time data from the properties is what we’re working on, and some of that is in place today.”

Safeguard’s mobile technology enables the company to get quicker responses from the field, quicker responses to its clients and quicker reactions from investors, which ultimately protects and preserves a property.

“It’s a win-win for everybody,” Jaffa says. “The old days of you telling me a condition and it bouncing around to different people could have been a 14-day process. We’re in an environment where neighbors, cities and our clients want real-time resolution, and the only way you’re able to do that is if we’re able to communicate from the field.”


Staying on top

While Safeguard has done the things to make it No. 1, its position in the industry means others are biting at its heels trying to dethrone the company.

“Every industry has competition,” Jaffa says. “You stay No. 1 by staying true to what you set yourself out for. We didn’t become No. 1 because of our looks. We became No. 1 because of our creative thought process, being in front of issues before they became issues and giving our clients the level of service that they required.

“Competition is healthy. It keeps everyone on their toes. We’re in an environment where everybody wants options and we’re going to keep doing what we’re doing and our competitors are going to keep doing what they’re doing. As long as we stay true to what we started this company out as we’ll be fine.”

One of the differentiators is how Safeguard has partnered with and built relationships with local communities where the company works.

“Our competition continues to try to follow that model, but it’s more reactive from their standpoint rather than proactive from our standpoint,” he says. “Some of the largest cities in this country know us and know they can pick up the phone when there is an issue at a property and that we’ll take care of it immediately.

“People think it’s just foreclosures, but we’re really protecting neighborhoods against vacant blight, against unsecured, unsafe properties around this country. If we weren’t around, the country would be in a lot worse shape than it is with the horrible housing crisis that we’ve had.”

According to Safeguard, tens of thousands of dollars in home value, up to 30 percent of the value of the home, can be negatively impacted by a vacant property on the street. When those properties have problems, it can negatively impact the tax valuations and become a bigger burden on the municipalities.

“When these homes are protected, it upholds the value because it doesn’t negatively impact the surrounding properties and cities aren’t sending someone to cut the grass or deal with the code enforcement violation,” Jaffa says. “It lessens the financial burden on municipalities’ budgets.”

As the housing crisis continues to fix itself, Jaffa and his team at Safeguard are once again looking for the next growth opportunity.

“One of the things that we are very aggressively contemplating is doing additional acquisitions,” he says. “Between our people, systems and our network there are a significant amount of opportunities for us to take advantage of and diversify.”



  • Take advantage of opportunities outside of organic growth.
  • Tackle challenges head on and always be looking at what’s next.
  • Build your business by staying true to the values it was founded on.


The Jaffa File

Name: Alan Jaffa
Title: CEO
Company: Safeguard Properties

Born: Brooklyn, N.Y.

Education: He took college courses but did not earn a degree. 

What was your first job and what did you learn from it? I ran a freight elevator at a Wall Street building that my uncle managed. As a 16-year-old kid, I had the fortune to interact with a lot of business people. What struck me was that some of the most powerful people were also the most humble. They took the time to talk and show respect to everyone, regardless of their role or status. That’s always stuck with me. 

What is the best business advice you have received? Surround yourself with the best people and trust them to do their jobs. Nobody knows everything, and the more you can rely on smart and talented people, the more successful you’ll be. 

What do you see as the most important thing Safeguard does for a property? What happens to one property happens to the neighborhood and community in which it exists.  When we protect the value and condition of one home, we protect the value and quality of the neighborhood.  

If you weren’t a CEO, what is something you have always wanted to do? What I enjoy is talking to budding entrepreneurs who are looking for guidance to start or grow their companies. We have a lot of talented people in this community with good business ideas. It’s gratifying to offer some perspective, and I find I learn a lot too.


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How to reach: Safeguard Properties, (800) 852-8306 or

Capital markets often treat smaller companies like Randy Newman’s song “Short People” suggests: “They got no reason to live.” Access to capital is often the difference between success and failure in business, and that access can be particularly challenging, even for smaller companies.

Bank loans are not always possible or favorable, and they can come with onerous requirements. Short of a bake sale, many leaders are left wondering how to find the funds needed to drive innovation, build market share and overtake competitors. Increasingly, leaders of these businesses turn to private equity.

For years, PE was misunderstood as a realm of multibillion-dollar deals. That’s true of the banner headlines, but most PE transactions involve smaller companies. PE can work for both owners who wish to cash out of the business they’ve built, and those who seek a partner with whom they can expand their business. 

Why choose PE?

PE delivers results. A good PEfirm provides a lot more than money, creating opportunities that would otherwise be unavailable. A PE firm makes companies bigger and better while providing opportunities for wealth creation for everyone involved. A great PE partner will offer the following:

  • Focus on growth.
  • Move smartly through the due diligence and acquisition process in ways that minimize disruption and uncertainty while providing liquidity quickly.
  • Pay a full and fair price.
  • Be flexible.

How PE works

PE firms generally invest majority stakes in companies, but minority deals are not uncommon.

Some PE firms focus on turnarounds, but most invest in successful companies, then help them move to the next level.

What does PE deliver?

Financial support is the clearest benefit, but global, experienced firms deliver major resources and talent that smaller firms cannot otherwise access.

Boots on the ground and deep expertise are powerful tools for supercharging growth.

Aligning interests for the best outcomes

Great PE investments always involve properly motivating every stakeholder for the success of the deal. That’s why Riverside is delighted when the original owner retains a stake in the company, allowing the owner to receive what we call the “second bite of the apple” when our stake in the investment is ultimately sold.

Anatomy of a great deal

When the owner of Wildlife International approached us with an offer to sell in 2010, we were excited about the possibilities for this wonderful environmental testing company. Wildlife was an outstanding company, but the leaders were great scientists and by their own admission not great businessmen.

Riverside identified growth and efficiency opportunities, and then worked with management to fully realize Wildlife’s potential. In two years, we expanded and professionalized sales processes, improved management, and paid for and guided the creation of new lab space and expanded product lines.

The result was a doubling of the backlog, sales funnel and earnings during our hold. When we sold the bigger and better company to an industry buyer at a logically much higher price it was a huge win for our investors, but also a tremendous result for the company and its sellers.

When interests align, beautiful things happen.


Stewart Kohl is the co-CEO of The Riverside Co., a global private equity firm based in Cleveland. In addition, Kohl is active in many civic organizations. He is an Oberlin College trustee; co-chair of the board of trustees of the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland; a trustee of the Cleveland Clinic, as well as a member of its Wellness Institute Leadership Board and co-chair of the Cleveland Clinic Capital Campaign. For more information, visit

Are you one of many professionals so busy working in your career that you do not have time to work on your career? How much time do you think you spend each day or week facilitating the right level of relationships and exposure to advance your career trajectory? If you are like many professionals, you simply run out of time each day and week.

The sad truth: Working hard and delivering on expected projects does not guarantee your next desired career step. Of course for some, miracle promotions and job offers appear; but for many, it takes more than just delivering great results to stand out and move forward.

The good news: With today’s access to information, people and groups, there are easy yet actionable strategies to elevate your professional brand for your next career leap. Even if you are not plotting for a promotion or career change today, it is still important to prioritize these activities so when you are ready, you have the foundation to propel forward.

For many, their professional brand often aligns to where they have been and often not where they want to go in their career. Think about your resume and online profiles. Do these overviews showcase where you have been in your career?

Take a weekly inventory

To brand yourself for the future, you must find time each week to integrate new information, new connections and new discussions related to where you want to go next. Think of yourself as a website for a moment; if people wanted to find you, what would they type in Google? Are these terms based on where you have been or where you want to go?

Here are a few suggestions to enhance your professional brand for your next career leap:

  • Make sure your online profiles and resume are current and align to where you want to go since many refer to these websites before meeting you in person.
  • Ask for online references to enhance your profile. This quickly notifies board members, recruiters and hiring managers how others perceive your work and impact.
  • Join relevant online groups to stay abreast of current topics and key players in your desired industry. Participate in the conversation with relevant comments to help your online brand and relevant ranking on specific topics.
  • Read current events within your desired field and share this information with groups, people and team members. Be selective and focused on your posts, as recruiters and hiring managers are looking for candidates with specific knowledge.
  • Follow companies you are interested in working with/for on various social media platforms.
  • Be open to new connections and groups, you never know which connection or group will catapult you forward.

Seek help if you need it

With the right amount of attention and focus, it is possible to enhance your professional brand. If you still have aspirations yet don’t know how you will find the time, this is not something you have to do alone. You can always get help or hire resources to get the process going.

After a short time, you should start to see indicators that your brand is evolving. Some clear indicators include these points: there will be an upswing in requests for your time, there will be a theme among new connections, there will be outreach from recruiters for new positions, or there will be people acknowledging or reposting your content.

It is your career — don’t leave your trajectory to chance!


JJ DiGeronimo is president of Purposeful Woman and Tech Savvy Women, author of “The Working Woman’s GPS” and “Before You Say YES.” For more information, visit



Leaders of organizations are role models — either good or bad.

If they cut corners, their people will cut corners. If they wink at bad practices, their managers will wink too. If they verbally abuse colleagues, others will follow their lead. If they focus only on today and ignore tomorrow, associates will do the same.

If they think public relations is some sort of game to “spin” information, they will encourage others to be less than truthful. If they do any or all of these things, they will detract from respect and therefore their ability to lead.

Make sure your personal brand stands for something.

Invest in your brand

A lot of people will tell you that the best investment you’ll ever make is in your children’s education. That’s actually the second best investment. The very best investment is in your personal brand. Do that well, and you’ll have no problem paying for your children’s college tuition.

Your personal brand is all about what you stand for. Ask yourself tough questions, such as the following:

  • Do I always make decisions based on what’s best for the company?
  • Am I consistent and even-handed?
  • Am I clear and direct in interactions with associates?
  • Am I fair-minded?
  • Do I hold myself to the same high standards I set for others?
  • Do I listen well?
  • Would I rather be liked or respected?
  • Am I a good role model?

The right answers to those questions are where personal brand-building starts. If you really want to lead, take those questions seriously.

Get close to the action

When leaders pay attention to their personal brands, organizations have a much better chance to flourish.

It’s essential to get out of the office and close to the action.

Three things occur the higher you rise. First, you get less on-the-ground information. Second, information can become so filtered that it’s worthless. Third, it’s easy to miss warning signals of trouble ahead.

A linchpin of leadership is to get out of your comfort zone and mix with stakeholders — employees, customers, neighbors. Your business will be more successful if you are as close to stakeholder issues as often as possible. And, that will set a powerful example for your troops.

Davis Young is the principal of DY Author & Speaker LLC and the author of “Trust is the Tiebreaker,” an e-book published by Smart Business Books, currently on Contact Young at  (440) 248-9550 or


As CEO of a nonprofit with nearly 500 employees, my primary objective is to provide great services to the individuals entrusted to our care. Over time, it has become very apparent to me that one of the major keys to our agency’s success has been my ability to maximize employee productivity.

Nearly 30 years of heavy lifting as a nonprofit executive has netted a winning managerial formula: Let my employees see me as one of them.

Know it or not, we’ve been schooled on how to set ourselves apart as managers since childhood: Didn’t the all-powerful Oz have his command center behind the curtain? Get rid of the curtain. Get rid of the comfort zone you’ve surrounded yourself with and connect on a real level with your employees.

Be a member of the team

While some may view this as a risky concession of power, experience has shown me that the risk is well worth the reward. I have found that positioning myself as a member of the team provides the necessary reinforcement and motivation for many of my employees to take that extra step. In other words, I lead by example.

Yes, the concept of leading by example is not new or rocket science. But as a daily management discipline, it requires a consistent and hands-on application in order to command the productive outcomes a large organization demands. Being open and accountable to staff for my decisions, good or bad, has been vital to the formula’s success.

I encourage my administrative team to point out areas where I can make improvements and openly engage in a critique of decisions that did not work out. I have found that an active demonstration of transparency is not only a great motivator, but builds employee confidence in me, and by extension, the organization overall.

The other side of the formula includes clearly communicating your organization’s mission and vision and backing that up with a solid foundation of policy and procedure. The organization stands for much more than any one individual, and driving our corporate philosophy from day one is one of the most important things I do as CEO. 

Meet all new hires

With this as a priority, I meet each employee that joins our team during his or her orientation. Yes, demands on my time can make this commitment difficult, but I’m not about to argue with results that work. Putting myself in front of each employee provides them with the opportunity to hear directly from me and gives me the chance to hear directly from them.

In the end, once policy and procedure have been digested at a level that successfully sets the ground rules, this management strategy opens the door for independent thinking to occur which leads to excellence in service delivery.

Simply put — being one of them allows me to communicate on a much more effective level. Employees know where I stand on issues. They know my expectations and they understand consequences. They know that I have faith and trust in them.

Over time, this has translated into lucrative managerial dividends. Employees take the investment I’ve made in them and leverage it forward with a personal commitment to co-workers and most importantly, the individuals our agency serves.

Terry Davis is president and CEO of Our Lady of the Wayside. The Wayside is a regional leader in residential, respite, transportation and adult day programming for children and adults with developmental disabilities. For more information, visit


On the Chinese calendar, we are currently in the Year of the Snake. For U.S. tax planning purposes, many people will find that they are in the year of the Sticker Shock. Seems to be a curious coincidence of unpleasantness, doesn’t it? 

Most of us who practice in the tax world are quite aware of the myriad tax changes that took effect for the 2013 tax year. Unfortunately, many taxpayers who are directly affected by these changes may not be. In fact, you may be surprised to learn that the tax landscape has shifted sharply for those who are now on the wrong side of the line between “middle class” and “higher earners.” If that does, indeed, describe you, you will now be subject to an array of new taxes, higher rates, and harsh deduction limits.

So, how has your tax landscape changed?

Starting in 2013, a couple of different pieces of legislation took effect that significantly raised taxes on higher earners, increasing the importance of tax awareness and tax planning: the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (ATRA). 

Although the ACA is not new legislation, 2013 is the first year in which it really began to rear its ugly head. Among its many health care related provisions, it also imposes a higher payroll tax as well as a surtax on the unearned income of higher-income individuals. For the second half of the one-two punch, the ATRA imposes higher tax rates on ordinary income, capital gains and dividends, while, at the same time, imposing limitations on the availability of both personal exemptions and itemized deductions.

For tax years beginning after December 31, 2012, the following categorical changes now apply:

  • Increased payroll tax for high-earning workers and self-employed taxpayers.

  • Surtax on unearned income of higher-income individuals.

  • Higher individual income tax rates apply to higher-income taxpayers.

  • Capital gain and dividend rates rise for higher-income taxpayers.

  • Personal exemption is limited for high earners.

  • Itemized deductions are limited for high earners.

A free guide entitled 2013 Tax Planning: The Year of Sticker Shock is now available for download at to help explain what exactly these changes entail.

While many high earners will certainly pay more taxes this year than in the past, keep in mind that it’s almost never too late to start participating in the tax planning process. Even at this late date, a little planning may be surprisingly effective in minimizing one’s taxes. To explore your tax options, contact one of the tax professionals at Zinner & Co. LLP.

Howard J. Kass, CPA, AEP®, is a Tax Partner at Zinner & Co. LLP. Reach him at (216) 831-0733 or

Medical Mutual, along with our co-founding Pillar Award partner Smart Business, presents the 16th annual Pillar Awards.

This year, we are honoring an outstanding group of companies and organizations of varying sizes.

While this year’s diverse group of honorees may be different in many ways, one thing that they all have in common is their commitment to strengthening the bond between the for-profit and nonprofit worlds.

It occurred to us many years ago that few things are more meaningful and important than investing time and resources in supporting our community, and we felt the need to honor companies and their employees who have gone above and beyond the call. While support and direction come from management, companies are only as great as their employees.

For that reason, we are proud to present the Medical Mutual SHARE Award. This unique award was founded to recognize companies whose employees best exemplify the ideals of Medical Mutual’s own employee SHARE Committee. SHARE stands for serve, help, aid, reach and educate, and is the heart and soul of Medical Mutual’s charitable giving efforts.

The SHARE committee, comprised of Medical Mutual employee volunteers, helps coordinate more than two-dozen community events involving nearly half of the company’s 2,500 employees.

On behalf of Medical Mutual and Smart Business, we congratulate all our 2013 Pillar Award recipients.

Rick Chiricosta
Chairman, president and CEO
Medical Mutual


  • Pillar Award for Community Service - Presented to for-profit businesses for their community service efforts
  • Medical Mutual SHARE Award - Presented to one company annually that best exemplifies employee-driven community service, philanthropy or volunteerism.
  • Nonprofit Board Executive of the Year Award - Honors contributions by for-profit business executives who serve as members of nonprofit boards
  • Nonprofit Executive Director of the Year Award - Recognizes nonprofit executive directors who effectively apply for-profit business principles to their organizations.
  • Fairmount Minerals Sustainable Business Award - Awarded to the organization that best demonstrates sustainable business practices.
  • Kent Clapp CEO Leadership Award - Recognizes the top executive of a for-profit company for creating a culture of giving.
  • Clark-Reliance Youth Philanthropy Award – Presented to the individual or individuals under the age of 22 or who have not yet graduated from college, who best demonstrate the spirit and drive to organize a nonprofit, create an individual initiative that impacts others, or develop a program designed to give back to the community either on an ongoing basis or as a one-off effort.


Kent Clapp CEO Leadership Award, Kevin Goodman, managing director, Blue Bridge Networks

Pillar Award for Community Service

Medical Mutual SHARE Award 

Fairmount Minerals Sustainable Business Practices Award 

Executive Directors of the Year

Nonprofit Board Executives of the Year

Clark-Reliance Youth Philanthropy Award

The Kent Clapp CEO Leadership Award


Kevin J. Goodman
Managing director and partner
BlueBridge Networks LLS

From the very marrow

Kevin Goodman survived lymphoma and now gives back to others

This year, Kevin J. Goodman reached his personal goal of raising more than $100,000 for charitable causes — and completed the Boston Marathon. His concern and care for others was further demonstrated at the marathon this year when he assisted victims of the terrorist bombing. Fortunate to have finished the race an hour before the bombings, Goodman jumped into efforts to help victims.

It was a little over 10 years ago when he received a shocking diagnosis: He had stage 4 lymphoma. But receiving the devastating news that he had a potentially fatal illness didn’t throw him into hopelessness. He battled through the chemotherapy and treatment and came out a survivor. The victory also taught him many important lessons.

Goodman, managing director and partner of BlueBridge Networks LLC, made a commitment to donate his time and talent to organizations such as the American Red Cross and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Goodman joined the LLS Board of Trustees in 2009. His involvement has grown constantly and he now serves as vice president on the executive committee.

On the fundraising side, he has helped lead outstanding efforts to generate funds through the LLS Team in Training. His team has surpassed the $1 million mark. As a lymphoma survivor, Goodman is unable to donate blood, but has arranged for BlueBridge Networks to participate in blood drives at Playhouse Square for the past several years.