SBN Staff

Monday, 22 July 2002 10:01

Who to Watch in ’99

Everyone wants to know which local companies are on the cusp of something big. That’s why each January, Small Business News tells you Who to Watch in the coming year.

The organizations we’ve selected this year aren’t the only ones to keep your eye on in 1999. At least one large, Columbus-based employer that didn’t make the list appears destined for an interesting year.

That employer is the State of Ohio. Not only will our state government get a new administration, but it’s likely to face one of the biggest challenges of the century—converting its computer systems seamlessly into the year 2000. The timeline is shortened, too, as the state rolls into fiscal 2000 on July 1 of this year.

So keep your fingers crossed and your eyes wide open. It’s apt to be an interesting year all around Central Ohio.

It's been quite a century, hasn't it? If you close your eyes, you can almost see it in newsreel fashion - cars being dragged down the Ford assembly line in the stop-time motion of old movie cameras; suited men selling apples during the Depression; workers muscling a dangling girder into place on New York's tallest skyscrapers; oily smoke rising from the Pacific Fleet in Pearl Harbor; subdivisions and suburbia; cloverleaf interchanges; Kennedy's funeral procession; civil rights sit-ins; soldiers in the jungle; nuclear missiles in Moscow's May Day parade; cheering traders on the NYSE floor; computers; the Berlin Wall; the SST; ATMs; IPOs; SUVs.

With all the focus on the coming millennium, we thought it reasonable to take one last look back at the Century of Progress.

We found it irresistible to do it with a list of the most important business moments from the last 99 years. We found it impossible to rank them-which is exactly what we did anyway.

1. 1913: Henry Ford installs a moving assembly line in his car plant. The frame of the car is pulled along the line by a chain, while workers stand on either side and assemble the car with parts delivered to them on moving conveyor belts.

2. 1991 The U.S.S.R. is dismantled, replaced by a centralized union of 15 countries. With only one notable exception-China-the economy becomes truly worldwide.

3. 1946: World's first electronic computer begins working in the U.S.

4. 1957: Soviet Union launches Sputnik into orbit. Within seven years, communications satellites make worldwide television broadcasts possible.

5. 1901: The discovery of huge oil deposits in Texas helps make gasoline more plentiful and less expensive, creating an economy that almost literally runs on petroleum.

6. 1913: Federal Reserve system is established, authorizing major reform of U.S. banking and finance, creating an international economic stabilizer.

71969: The Internet is born through a U.S. military agency as a security system to keep computers running in the event of a nuclear strike.

8. 1929: Stock market crashes on Black Thursday, ending post-WWI prosperity and setting a lasting benchmark of economic misery.

9. 1955: Passed by Congress largely as a Cold War defense measure, the first of the major highway-construction funding bills creates the Interstate Highway system.

10. 1919: First daily air mail service in U.S. runs from New York to Chicago.

11. 1981: IBM introduces the PC-the first widely used desktop computer.

12. 1901: Mass Production begins when Ransom Olds assembles cars with parts provided to the factory by outside suppliers.

13. 1914: Federal Trade Commission is established to supervise interstate trade.

14. 1935: Congress passes the Social Security Act.

15. 1903: First Pacific telephone cable laid.

16. 1919: The first scheduled, commercial airline service begins between London and Paris.

17. 1917: The U.S. declares war on Germany. As millions of men leave their jobs for World War I and war production accelerates, women join the work force. This creates a powerful influence on women's thinking after the war when they are forced out of jobs and back into the home.

18. 1914: Panama Canal opens for shipping.

19. 1955: America's two largest labor organizations, the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations merge to create the AFL-CIO.

20. 1959: Integrated circuit is invented, reducing size, heat and resistance in electronic instruments.

21. 1972: The first e-mail is sent.

22. 1964: The Civil Rights Act creates the first nationwide affirmative-action laws, leading to hiring policies that ban discrimination based on race.

23. 1938: American Chester Carlson invents the photocopier. (Unofficial reports indicate the first photocopy of a person's rear end is produced Dec. 24, 1938.)

24. 1962: General Motors puts the first robot to use in a production line. The word derives from the Czech robota, meaning a serf. Organized labor sees it as an effort to cut workers; GM spins it as a way to make their lives better.

25. 1934: As fallout of the 1929 stock market crash, the Securities and Exchange Commission is established.

26. 1938: Chapter 11 reorganization added to the federal bankruptcy code.

27. 1947: Transistor is invented, enabling the first generation of electronic machinery.

28. 1988: The price of facsimile machines drops below $1,000; U.S. businesses snap up a million of them within a year, setting a new standard for fast response.

29. 1941: First commercial television broadcast airs under the watchful eyes of the FCC. With 15 hours of daily programming, The Columbia Broadcasting System reports Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor on TV, but across the country, only six stations continue broadcasting throughout the war.

30. 1970: The Women's Rights Movement takes a foothold in American society and gains strength throughout the decade. Rosie the Riveter gives way to a new force in the workplace.

31. 1938: National minimum wage is enacted along with a maximum work week, overtime pay, child labor restrictions and equal pay for equal work for women.

32. 1914: Clayton Antitrust Act is passed, strengthening federal anti-monopoly powers.

33. 1913: The 16th Amendment is ratified, providing a legal basis for the graduated income tax.

34. 1989: The Berlin Wall falls, Germany is reunified, communism is crushed and the European Market becomes a possibility.

35. 1906: Sears & Roebuck Co. opens distribution centers across the country to aid its growing mail-order business. In 1913, the company begins advertising installment payments, doubling sales in a single year.

36. 1950: Diner's Club introduces the first credit card.

37. 1972: President Richard M. Nixon visits China. Coca-Cola and McDonald's soon follow, beginning the effort to reach the world's largest untapped market.

38. 1935: National Labor Relations Act establishes the NLRB.

39. 1933: Congress passes the first legislation of the New Deal, with social and economic measures that range from bank regulation to welfare to government-sponsored job creation.

40. 1976: Electronic Data Interchange begins in the grocery store industry, enabling a computer-to-computer exchange of business documents-and money.

41. 1959: St. Lawrence Seaway opens, providing a direct water link between America's heartland and the world.

42. 1954: Ray Kroc buys out Richard and Maurice McDonald, owners of a small hamburger stand in California, to create one of the world's most influential corporations in everything from advertising to agriculture to franchising to international relations.

43. 1994: North American Free Trade Agreement takes effect after a notably rancorous process. While the extent of its impact is still being sorted out, it is destined to play a major role in reshaping world commerce.

44. 1967: The LCD is developed by James Ferguson at Kent State University's Liquid Crystal Institute (patented in 1971). You can now check your digital watch without pushing a button.

45. 1911: Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire in New York kills 146 workers, leading to the formation of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and anti-sweatshop laws.

46. 1989: Unprecedented borrowing and consolidation of the go-go '80s comes to an official end with the indictment (and eventual jailing) of Junk Bond King Michael Milken. Long-term result: a destructive focus on short-term gains at the cost of long-term corporate stability.

47. 1966: Truth-in-packaging law requires labeling of supermarket item contents.

48. 1977: William Gates and Paul Allen start Microsoft.

49. 1970: Clean Air Act leads to the f irst major curbs on pollution and eventually to the establishment of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

50. 1902: U.S. Census Bureau is established, a boon for advertising practitioners who quickly discover the possibilities of targeted demographic marketing.

51. 1978: The Uniform Commercial Code is enacted to simplify, clarify and modernize laws governing commercial transactions.

52. 1901: U.S. Steel Corp. is incorporated, eventually becoming the first billion-dollar multinational.

53. 1956: The first enclosed mall opens in suburban Minneapolis, signaling the decline of Main Street and the birth of a handful of trends, ranging from urban sprawl to Big Box retailing.

54. 1947: Taft-Hartley Act bans closed union shops and places other curbs on union activities.

55. 1906: American John Whitmore changes the function of accounting from historical record keeping to business planning, by applying standard costs based on advance calculations.

56. 1980: Deregulation begins in two major U.S. industries: banking and trucking.

57. 1979: Cellular phones are introduced in Tokyo, then Chicago. They are in widespread use by 1983.

58. 1900: Danish inventor Johann Vaaler invents the paper clip.

59. 1916: Railroad workers become the first class of laborers to try out the eight-hour work day.

60. 1943: Federal payroll withholding is instituted to help the middle class manage its new and rising tax burden. The actual result is runaway taxation because, heck, nobody really knows how much they pay to the government.

61. 1982: Under a federal antitrust ruling, AT&T relinquishes local phone service to eight regional "Baby Bells"-setting off a war of marketing and innovation called the telecommunications boom.

62. 1954: Peter Drucker publishes The Practice of Management, reasserting economic success as the common business goal among all workers at all levels, and launching him as one of the most influential business minds of the century.

63. 1946: The post-WWII environment of pent-up demand, stockpiled savings, rising wages and rampant inflation drives people to the bedroom and shopping. It's the birth of the baby boom and the first great age of consumer spending.

64. 1936: Dale Carnegie publishes How to Win Friends and Influence People. A lot of people could still stand to read it.

65. 1940: The Export Control Act provides presidential power to bar exports for reasons of national security.

66. 1970: Floppy disk invented by IBM.

67. 1904: Investigative reporter Ida Tarbell publishes the anti-monopoly History of the Standard Oil Co. The conglomerate is forced to split into independent entities seven years later. Direct descendants of the case: AT&T's breakup and today's Microsoft trial.

68. 1974: The Individual Retirement Account (IRA) is created to help those who aren't covered by a company pension. It gets credit for two major phenomena: the death of the pension, and the strength of the U.S. stock market.

69. 1948: First COLA-cost of living adjustment-is written into a contract between GM and the UAW.

70. 1967: National Commission on Product Safety is established, the forerunner of the current Consumer Product Safety Commission.

71. 1916: Brearly invents stainless steel.

72. 1920: Prohibition goes into effect, providing history's most compelling demonstration of the power supply and demand.

73. 1935: Capitated rates for health care are foreshadowed when Dr. Sidney Garfield charges public works laborers near Los Angeles 5 cents a day for prepaid care. He does the same during WWII for 30,000 at the Kaiser Shipyard, and in 1945 founds Permanente Health Plan-later Kaiser Permanente, the first HMO.

74. 1938: Owens-Corning patents fiberglass.

75. 1972: The electronic pocket calculator is invented. Early models sell for $100 but quickly come down in price, introducing the defining characteristic of the computer age: quantum leaps in the performance-to-cost ratio.

76. 1997: United Parcel Service management loses in a strike by its workers-the most stunning union victory in the most talked about and surprising strike since PATCO. It may have taken 16 years, but momentum once again shifts toward organized labor.

77. 1981: President Ronald Reagan decertifies PATCO, the union of striking air traffic controllers, signaling the lowest moment for organized labor in nearly 35 years (see #54).

78. 1973: Bar code is invented, bringing new efficiency to inventory control, retail theft prevention and other costly systems.

79. 1920: The earliest recorded traffic jam in (where else?) New York City creates the ultimate excuse for missing planes, meetings and other important business engagements.

80. 1970: Kinko's is founded on the campus of the University of California at Santa Barbara. Becoming the first nationwide chain of photocopying and business services, it's a vital component in the creation of a class of "telecommuters" and "home office workers."

81. 1912: The unsinkable Titanic goes down, shaking our faith in the infallibility of industrial know-how-and setting us up 85 years later for the most over-budgeted, overhyped, overconsidered movie in cinematic history.

82. 1989: Stephen Covey publishes The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, turning the business self-help movement into a mass market.

83. 1965: Ralph Nader publishes Unsafe at Any Speed., detailing safety defects in cars and leading to federal regulation of auto design under the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1966.

84. 1928: Alexander Fleming's development of penicillin makes the workplace safer and healthier, and allows new confidence against the daunting threat of the microscopic.

85. 1917: A "medical service bureau" is organized to provide care for lumbermen outside Tacoma, Wash. It becomes the first Blue Shield plan and creates a standard of employer-sponsored independent health care.

86. 1911: John D. Rockefeller (1839 to 1937) retires, marking the end of a 50-year career, during which he built an entire industry and created a community service standard by which all have since been measured, having donated more than $500 million to public and charitable causes.

87. 1938: Hungarian Lazlo Biro invents the first ball-point pen.

88. 1906: Upton Sinclair publishes The Jungle, exposing poor working conditions in the industrial era-leading to increasing regulation and concern over worker safety.

89. 1973: The first of two oil embargoes during the '70s awakens America to a potentially crippling dependence on foreign resources. The result? The Alaska Pipeline, short-term panic and long-term denial.

90. 1970: Monday Night Football premiers on ABC, and pro sports officially becomes an industry.

91. 1920: DuPont patents plastic foam (Styrofoam), making it possible to send fragile goods back and forth across the country, not to mention keeping your coffee warm while you sneak out for a cigarette.

92. 1996: Mammal cloning is successfully accomplished with a sheep named Dolly-the first step toward a biogenetics industry that many expect to be a leading economic force in the next century. More important, can the perfect worker be cloned?

93. 1983: First cited instance of a computer being infected by a program intended to cause harm-a virus.

94. 1965: Warren Buffett buys Berkshire Hathaway, starting on a legendary investment run that ultimately makes him one of the richest men in America.

95. 1998 Asian Monetary Crisis arises, demonstrating the true global nature of the economy.

96. 1976: Stephen Jobs and Stephen Wozniak found Apple Computer Corp.

97. 1951: Bette Nesmith invents an opaque white paint to cover typing errors, and names it Mistake Out-later, White Out.

98. 1970: Boeing rolls out the 747, the first jumbo jet, doubling passenger capacity over previous generations of airliners and allowing a flight range of 6,000 miles.

99. 1946: George D. Edwards elected first president of the American Society for Quality Control, formalizing the practice of shared information about manufacturing quality standards.


This list was produced through a highly unscientific process that involved research, interviews and collective thinking to develop a master roster of events. That roster was distributed to approximately 30 high-level executives and business owners - in Greater Cleveland, Akron and Stark County - who were asked to rank the events in order of importance.

Their votes were combined and the scores tallied, resulting in this reverse-order ranking.

If you believe any events have been omitted or given unfair consideration, please let us know. You can write to:

99 Greatest
Small Business News
14725 Detroit Ave.
Lakewood, OH 44107

Or send e-mail to:

Monday, 22 July 2002 10:00

In Brief

David Abbott, the new president of University Circle Inc., will field questions at the Jan. 12 Corporate Club Breakfast, at Executive Caterers at Landerhaven.

Before joining UCI, Abbott was executive director of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. He also served on Mayor Michael White's task force to appoint an independent school board and, prior to that, was executive director of the Cleveland Bicentennial Commission, which oversaw planning and funding for the city's year-long birthday celebration in 1996.

Abbott will appear at the breakfast series in place of David Burner, chairman and CEO of BFGoodrich Co., which recently announced it would move its headquarters out of Northeast Ohio.

SBN is a sponsor of the Corporate Club breakfast series, conducted in an interview format, followed by an extended question and answer period. The events are held Tuesday mornings, with breakfast at 7 a.m. and the speaker beginning at 7:30. Cost is $25 a person.

Other dates and speakers:

  • Feb. 9, 1999: Michael Salkind, president, Ohio Aerospace Institute
  • March 9, 1999: Robert Rawson, partner-in-charge, Jones, Day Reavis & Pogue.

For more information and reservations, call Executive Caterers at Landerhaven, at (440) 449-0700.

Ups and Downs

Downs to Beanie Babies. Late last year, investors in Ty Inc.’s plush securities got a rude surprise: softening of the secondary market for their stuffed animals. Or was that just wishful thinking on our part?

Ups to Roberto Alomar, the Tribe’s new second baseman and the first superstar we can recall who actually hoped to move to Cleveland.

Ups to pro wrestlers. First Jesse Ventura becomes Minnesota governor. Then Hulk Hogan retires from the ring to run for president. Now Washington’s usual suspects can put on leotards and wrestle it out on pay-per-view.

Ups to NASA. Shooting Sen. John Glenn into space was one of the agency’s best moves since, well, since it shot Glenn into space. But the International Space Station ... That’s cool.

Downs to megamergers and corporate emigration. BP, then Rubbermaid, now Goodrich. Why does it suddenly feel like the ’80s again?

Downs to Juvenile Court Judge Robert Ferreri, the most controversial judge on the bench today. Now he’s in trouble for comments he claims to have made to a reporter “off the record.” Just because you’re a judge doesn’t mean you’re judicious.

Downs for downtown bars. Ask them about the NBA, they’ll say it stands for No Body Anywhere.


‘Whereas young engineers used to seek a spot in a big organization, often in the military-industrial complex, we’re increasingly seeing them getting out of college and moving toward entrepreneurship.’
—Jim Wagner, new dean of Case Western Reserve University’s School of Engineering, speaking recently to the Northeast Ohio Software Association

Monday, 22 July 2002 09:58

In brief

Using the old muffin

Several area businesses—Pizza Hut and Acme Superstores among them—are now driving sales through a new Internet site, Cosmic Coupons. The Web site lets users select and print free coupons for redemption at participating retailers. Because the distribution costs of those inserts in the Sunday paper have been eliminated, the cents-off values tend to be higher.

By redeeming coupons regularly, users earn Cosmic Cash Bonus Points, good for prizes in the site’s rewards section.

The mind behind is Akron’s Steve Marks, CEO of Main Street Gourmet. How to reach: Cosmic Coupons Inc., (330) 657-2785

Here’s one to put in your Franklin Planner

Chris Perrow, owner of Perrow Organizational Systems, likes to quote the statistic that the average professional faces 36 hours worth of work—every day. And loses 45 minutes each day searching for stuff lost in piles. The solution: Create a system for expediting all those tasks. In fact, it’s a priority we’ve had on the calendar for months. How to reach: Perrow Organizational Systems, (330) 686-0282

Good spin

How do you achieve a consistent level of excellence in management? “You need to focus on the internal aspects of your operations just as you do on client or customer service,” says Dan Stanowick, senior VP at the Akron office of Edward Howard & Co., which Inside PR magazine recently named the nation’s best-managed mid-sized PR firm.

In its ranking of 150 agencies, the magazine spotlighted the firm—with offices in Cleveland, Columbus and Dayton as well—for its processes in strategic planning, investor relations, staff training and development and overall management.

It’s that doohicky thing with the little lines

Now that Europe’s new currency is a reality, businesses seeking global domination have yet another problem, the euro symbol. Where is it in those pesky PC fonts, anyway? The answer is as simple as it is frightening: it’s not.

Solutions are becoming available; for example, for $39.95, CenturionSoft’s new Eurofonter utility adds the euro symbol to all TrueType fonts. For more information, or to see what the symbol looks like, check out the company’s Web site at

Monday, 22 July 2002 09:57


Getting better at getting it there

In the transportation business, getting it there as soon as possible isn’t enough anymore. Nowadays, it’s getting it there when the customer needs it. To respond to demands for faster service, Pitt Ohio Express is offering its customers services that are customized for their particular needs.

Dedicated transportation is a service for customers who require time-specific deliveries within a given geographic region on a consistent daily basis. Contract warehousing combines Pitt Ohio’s knowledge of warehousing, in-house expertise with hazardous materials and freight handling processes.

The company’s pre-dawn delivery is a service that provides delivery of needed inventory before the start of the business day. Pitt Ohio also offers Fast Track, guaranteed express delivery to all points within its service area, with deliveries promised by 10:30 a.m. in parts of its service area.

High flier

Retailers might want to investigate what’s going on at the AIRMALL.

The AIRMALL, a complex of 100 restaurants, shops and services at Pittsburgh International Airport managed by BAA Pittsburgh Inc., grabbed an impressive five first-place awards in Airport Retail News’ 1999 Best Airport Concessions Poll.

The airport took top honors in best overall concessions program, most innovative services, best management team, best concession program design, and the “Most Favored by Road Warriors” category. In fact, frequent travelers selected Pittsburgh as their favorite for airport shopping.

Nominees were rated in 14 separate airport, food and beverage, news/gift and retail categories by a judging panel of 30 industry experts.

The mall’s popularity was reflected at the cash register, too, with per passenger spending reaching $9.90, besting the previous record of $9.19, set in 1997.

They seem to have the knack for getting sales to take off.

Putting mappers on the map

Hill Flaherty Sabol Marketing Communications has been selected by Baker/GeoResearch Inc. to assist in the marketing of its GeoLink Mapping System.

Formed in 1980, GeoResearch was one of the first firms to use geographic information systems (GIS) technology. With the advent of global positioning systems, GeoResearch combined the two technologies to form GeoLink as its primary product.

Personnel (company) changes

Callos Personnel Services, of Youngstown, has acquired Pittsburgh’s Strauss Personnel Services.

For Strauss employees, things aren’t expected to change much, as local staff and management stays in place. Clients, though, are likely to see new products in the offing before the first half of the year passes.

Plans call for Strauss Personnel to continue operating under its existing name, with additional product lines offered by Callos Personnel to be phased in by next month, according to Thomas Walsh, president of Callos Personnel Services.

Jeff McGraw, owner of Strauss Personnel, becomes a principal and shareholder in the company and will continue as vice president and general manager in Pittsburgh, supervising all Western Pennsylvania operations. McGraw says the Western Pennsylvania operations likely will add “at least one new office.”

Reflex Services Inc. and Reflex Staffing Solutions Inc., sister companies established in 1985 and 1993 respectively, have merged and will continue to conduct business as a single entity, Reflex Staffing Solutions Inc.

Red River resurgence

ProRiver Inc., parent company of Red River Barbecue & Grille restaurants, is planning expansion in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan market.

“We are excited about our Annapolis restaurant, which reaches the Washington, D.C., and the Baltimore markets, because it opened in October 1998 and has already exceeded budget estimates,” says Barry Strange, vice president of operations.

The company also has opened a new concept restaurant in Waldorf, Md., a Washington suburb. Ron’s Smokehouse Barbecue Co., which carries the name of Red River’s founder, Ron Sofranko, offers the same menu as the Annapolis store.

Lending support

The Mon Valley Initiative, a coalition of 16 community development corporations in four counties, has received government grants totaling $51,000 for the start-up of its Business Loan Fund.

MVI’s business loan fund will provide capital to businesses within and around the Mon Valley region. The target market is small, for-profit companies that are largely manufacturing related.

The MVI received $26,000 under the 1998 Community Development Financial Institutions Fund’s technical assistance component to develop its revolving loan fund, and a $25,000 grant from the Pennsylvania Community Development.

The CDFI fund was established to make federal money available for loans to businesses in poor inner cities and rural communities. The Pennsylvania Community Development Bank is an effort to strengthen the commonwealth’s communities physically, economically and socially.

Eventually, the MVI expects to be certified as a CDFI.


The Southwestern Pennsylvania Regional Planning Commission and the Southwestern Pennsylvania Regional Development Council have made official their decision to form the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission.

The SPC is now the region’s Metropolitan Planning Organization and Local Development District, responsible for carrying out federal and state mandates regarding transportation planning and economic development.

Under the new structure, the City of Pittsburgh and eight counties will determine how regional transportation dollars are spent.

Beyond the economic development which the new organization is able to foster, fewer acronyms won’t bother us a bit, either.

Amish culture and the Internet and Web marketing might seem like they are worlds apart. Not so in cyberspace.

The Amish Peddler, a New Wilmington, Pa., retailer, has established a Web site,, to offer its products, produced by Amish craftsmen or designed by the store, to a global market.

Among the items offered on the Web site are an oak and hickory swing, embroidered sweatshirts, soft dolls and quilt-style placemats in traditional Amish colors. No barn raisings — yet.

Speaking of the Web ...

Need a quote on a printing job? Look on the Internet.

PrintQuote USA is offering a free online service that it says streamlines the task of obtaining quotes on printing projects.

PrintQuote USA is a free, Web-based service that gives buyers a convenient way to receive multiple competitive commercial printing quotes in a timely, efficient manner, according to the company, while printers gain access to a wider market of potential customers.

“It takes about five minutes to complete a project-specific quote form and, with the click of a button, the form is dispersed to 12 commercial printers in the category the print buyer selected,” says Harold Behar, president of PrintQuote USA.

Buyers who want to get a quote can log onto and complete one of the project-specific forms on the site. The forms are geared toward specific project types, such as brochures or newsletters.

Stacking up the savings

Ward Trucking credits its Stack Up Loading System with a reduction in shortage and damage claims for the second year in a row.

Ward Trucking reports its claims added up to only 0.75 percent of its revenue. The industry average, the trucking firm reports, is about 1.5 percent of revenues.

Ward began the program by implementing claim prevention weeks where photographs were taken of loads prior to departu re and then again upon arrival. The trucker also began a process of recording potential claims incidents and taking action where possible to prevent damage.

The Stack Up system allows Ward to compartmentalize and double-stack freight on steel decks for efficient transfer, with components designed to keep palletized, unitized freight safe and secure during loading, unloading and transport.

With the $230,000 Ward Trucking saved in claims in 1998, it purchased a new document imaging system to improve billing and record retrieval.

Business Notges

Turner Construction has been selected to serve as general contractor for the renovation of Gallery 12 at the Carnegie Museum of Art.

The project includes a renovation of the 4,700-square-foot gallery area. New heating and ventilation systems will be installed, along with new fireproofing, insulation, walls, skylight glass replacement and blackout shades.

Turner says the project will be completed by July.

MSA Process Automation Solutions & Services Inc. has designed automation systems for the first commercial liquid fuel-from-seawater plant to be built in the Dominican Republic.

Ware Communications Inc. has become an authorized Bell Atlantic dealer, qualifying it to sell local dial tone services to businesses.

The Bottom Line Inc. has been selected to assist the U.S. Small Business Administration in processing applications to certify firms as small disadvantaged businesses. The designation gives monetary incentives for prime contractors to subcontract with small disadvantaged businesses and a price evaluation adjustment of up to 10 percent for certified disadvantaged small businesses.

Monday, 22 July 2002 09:56


Popularity contest

The Internet Advertising Bureau reports the most popular types of online advertising were consumer related, 27 percent, followed by computing, 24 percent; financial services, 16 percent; telecom, 11 percent; and new media, 7 percent.

Banner ads remain the most popular form of online advertising, representing 53 percent of the market, followed by sponsorship, 30 percent, and interstitials, 6 percent. The majority of deals were hybrid, 52 percent, followed by cost-per-thousand click through deals, 43 percent, and performance deals, 5 percent.

Browser wars

AdKnowledge recently studied the market share of two leading browsers, Netscape and Microsoft. It found Microsoft to be the most popular browser with 49.4 percent of the market, compared to 44.9 percent for Netscape. The report says this is because Microsoft is the default browser on many computers, and as Microsoft users are typically less technologically experienced, they are unlikely to change the browser.

The distribution of market share was based on a sample of 552,000 ad views and click throughs conducted late last year.

Seamless mail?

Seem Software has introduced Express Assistant 2.0, a simple, one-button Windows 98/95/NT4 utility. It lets you back up, copy and restore all, or a selected list of your e-mail folders (including all attachments), newsgroup folders and your Windows address book as a compressed Zip compatible archive.

Express assistant keeps track of Outlook Express’ confusing, nonintuitive filing and naming conventions, so you can concentrate on your business communications. The program allows you to choose where you want to back up to — your hard drive, Zip drive or disks. It can also span disks automatically and lets you move e-mail folders between computers. A log is created every time you back up, copy, move or restore your e-mail folders.

Seem Software also offers Backdora, which performs the same functions for Eudora e-mail. For more information, call (516) 756-7411, or go to

Getting out of the piracy business

Several issues make small and mid-sized businesses susceptible to illegal software usage, or piracy. Sometimes businesses use illegal copies in an intentional effort to cut costs, but often it’s because of benign neglect, such as failing to prevent inappropriate circulation of installation CDs, or misunderstanding concurrent usage agreements. In addition, many businesses fall prey to disreputable resellers who sell illegal copies at rock-bottom prices.

Intentional or not, using unlicensed software leaves businesses vulnerable to risks such as software incompatibility, viruses, lack of technical support and, if audited, stiff legal costs and fines.

Because software publishers have formed independent agencies to combat this problem through audits and penalties, SoftChoice, a software consulting firm, can help a business “get legal” and stay legal. After an accurate assessment of a company’s existing usage and projected needs, SoftChoice helps the business get the best deal on software needed to keep it legal. For more information, call (800) 268-7638 or go to

Super server

PerifiTech Inc., a manufacturer of high-performance network file servers and data storage solutions, has released its Aerial Quad Xeon SuperServer, which features the Pentium III Xeon chip. The server operates at 500 MHz with up to 2 MB of full speed L2 cache. The servers are also available with Pentium II Xeon processors, which also contain up to 2 MB of full speed L2 cache and operate at 400 to 450 MHz. For more information, call (330) 278-2070 or go to

Tale of the tape

Hewlett-Packard Co. has introduced a 14GB tape backup solution designed to deliver high-speed, easy-to-use, full-system data-protection solutions for stand-alone power users, small businesses and mobile computing professionals. It is designed to protect not only data files, but also such critical elements as applications and preferences, operating-system configurations and Web browser bookmarks. The HP Colorado 14GB drive runs approximately 40 percent faster than its predecessors, enabling it to back up substantially more information within the same window of time. For more information, go to

Speed demon surfer

RealNetwork is offering PeakJet 2000, which can speed your Web surfing by up to 20 times.

PeakJet’s technology automatically learns from your browsing habits. While you read through a page, PeakJet works behind the scenes and preloads and freshens links according to your interests. When you click, the next page appears almost instantly. All you do is download the program and start surfing.

The software:

  • Speeds Web surfing up to 20 times without a new modem and works with any modem speed.

  • Maximizes idle modem time; preloads pages while you go about your normal browsing.

  • Economizes bandwidth by devoting cache to your favorite links or frequently visited Web pages.

  • Has a 30-day money-back guarantee.

To download,

Rock the vote

A study by the Pew Research Center for People and the Media highlights the increasing importance of the Net in US election campaigns. Pew found that during the 1998 national election campaigns, 16 percent of U.S. voters accessed information about the election on the Internet, compared to 10 percent in 1996. Further, 6 percent of voters cited the Internet as the primary source of election information, up from 3 percent in 1996.

On average, 15 percent of voters used the Internet for election news, compared to 28 percent in the 18-29 age group and 22 percent in the 30-49 age group. The survey showed that the Internet is rivaling network and cable TV as the main source of election news for the younger voter, according to Andrew Kohut, director of the Pew Center. Nonetheless, the Internet is still a marginal player on the political media scene, with the vast majority of voters citing TV and newspapers as their main source of election news.

The IT market

Private businesses and governments around the world are increasingly recognizing the importance of the Internet and commerce generated from information technology.

IT contribution to real economic growth in the U.S. now accounts for just over a third of all growth in the economy. Just over 7 million people work in the IT business and investment in information processing equipment accounts for 45 percent of total real business equipment investment.

In July 1997, when the U.S. Government’s Electronic Commerce Working Group released “A Framework For Global Electronic Commerce,” the reality of electronic commerce was firmly placed on the world’s economic agenda.

Several other nations followed suit and promptly went to work on developing their own electronic commerce strategies and initiating working groups to tease out logistics.

Early adopters predicted that revenue from electronic commerce would exceed tens of billions of dollars by the millennium;, that figure is now hundreds of billions. In its annual report, the U.S. Government Working Group on Electronic Commerce estimate that $300 billion will be spent online in the first half of the first year of the next millennium. A staggering $35 billion of that will go into the coffers of four companies, Dell, Cisco, Intel and General Electric.

By 2000, 7 percent of airline tickets will be bought online, 16 million people will bank online and up to $1 billion is expected to be generated in insurance premiums.

Markets follow people, and in the last year, one-third of the American populace had access to the Internet at one point or other. One-third of U.S. households with PCs are online, 28 million households, found Ziff-Davis Technology in its user profile study. The number of people with access to the Internet has grown 35 percent since January of 1997.

Source: Nua Internet Surveys.

Fixer upper

From E-Commerce Times (

  • 8 percent of U.S. companies have ordered maintenance, repair and operating supplies online, according to a study by Grainger. Of those, 85 percent plan to dramatically increase their Internet usage for MRO business in the future.

  • 64 percent of companies that order MRO products online say they do so because of speed and convenience; 25 percent cited the accessibility of ordering online, while 20 percent cited the accuracy of product information available on the Internet.

  • Of those companies which do not order MRO supplies online, 49 percent said it is because they do not have access to the Internet. Another 15 percent did not feel it would be convenient to order online, while 9 percent said it did not fit in with current company policy and procedure. Ten percent of companies surveyed said they did not have access to a computer.

The findings are based on a survey of 600 executives from SMEs and large businesses in a variety of industries for a report on business purchasing trends.

Where are you?

While 98 percent of US businesses are classified as small, only 1.8 percent have yet established an Internet presence.

A mall well traveled

Some online shopping safety tips from

  • Secure server A good Web site should offer the user the option of going into an SSL mode (secure server) for the entire shopping experience or for selected sections where private information, such as credit card numbers, is exchanged. Depending on the customer’s preference, offers a complete SSL session or SSL only when personal information is being entered.

  • Privacy policy Does the Web site post a privacy policy? What does it do with your personal information? A privacy policy should be standard on any e-commerce site.’s privacy policy informs its customers what information is being collected, why it is collected, and — most importantly, guarantees that will not pass personal information to another entity outside the company, except in connection with a booking.

  • Safe shopping guarantee A Web site that is confident in its security should offer a safe shopping guarantee. This means that if credit card information is stolen and used to make a fraudulent charge, the company will reimburse you for the full $50 liability you incur as the credit card holder. The customer is not liable to the credit card company beyond the first $50, and with picking up this charge, the customer is completely covered.

  • Awards Has the company been endorsed by third party sources? These include analyst comments and recognition from industry trade publications such as PC Magazine. If not, you might consider looking into what has been written about the company.

  • Word of mouth How did you learn about this service? Recommendations from friends and colleagues are worth their weight in gold. If someone you know is a happy customer, then you, too, should see if online shopping is for you.

Monday, 22 July 2002 09:55


The Akron Regional Development Board released its 1999-2000 public policy agenda last month, highlighting the board’s top priorities for the next two years.

The agenda includes several new issues which the ARDB deems important to the area’s business community. Some of the new priorities are air service in Northeast Ohio, the regional business climate, Y2K and work force development.

The agenda reflects issues that have been identified by the tri-county business community as important and provides a method of communicating those issues to policy makers at the local, state and national levels of government.

The Akron/Summit Convention & Visitors Bureau has awarded 12 organizations with a total of $44,437 in tourism grants to help promote tourism in Summit County.

Recipients include Akron Art Museum, Akron Zoo, Boston Mills Ski resort, Radisson Inn Akron, and The Winery at Wolf Creek. For more information on the Convention & Visitors Bureau, check out the Web site at

’Net safety

The Better Business Bureau has launched an on-line privacy program to help support and promote e-commerce. The purpose of the BBBOnLine Privacy Program is to assure consumers that their personal information will be handled with care in Internet transactions.

The BBB hopes to boost consumer confidence by awarding an easily recognizable seal to businesses that post online privacy policies that meet the BBB’s standards; offering a separate seal to Web sites that advertise to children; and providing a consumer-friendly and thorough resolution-dispute system.

The program is sponsored by e-commerce leaders including America Online, AT&T, Sony and Dun & Bradstreet.


“As leaders of companies in this competitive marketplace, it’s important that managers understand technology. It’s as important as any other aspect of running a business.”
Ryan Vero, vice president of e-commerce for OfficeMax

“The best job in the world is something we would do absolutely for free. Then you’ve got to find someone to pay you to go out and do it.”
Connie Young, president, C.J. Young & Associates

Monday, 22 July 2002 09:50


Cable wars

Ameritech New Media, the nation’s largest competitive cable company, recently extended its reach into a 15th city in the Cleveland area. Independence city officials unanimously voted to open the door to local cable television competition, setting the stage for a battle between Ameritech New Media and Cablevision for the community’s 2,500 households.

Leaders of Brecksville, Garfield Heights and Valley View voted to allow the Cleveland-based cable competitor into their cities earlier this summer. Expect the trend to continue. Ameritech New Media is currently negotiating with a dozen other Northeast Ohio cities.

If I had a hammer

Cleveland-based (Call A is hoping to become the Internet’s one-stop resource for home and business owners looking to hire professional contractors for remodeling or construction work. The site lists all known contractors in the United States and can be searched using a wealth of different variables. For a fee, of course, the site offers banner advertisements and Web development packages to contractors.

Employment ups and downs

After several years of robust employment growth, it appears the number of new jobs created each month is decreasing, says the National Retail Federation. The economy generated an average of 280,000 jobs a month in 1999, 240,000 a month in 1998 and 196,000 a month so far this year, according to figures supplied by the organization.

The last several years of employment growth pushed the unemployment rate to a 29-year low of 4.2 percent in May. However, wage increases have remained tame, despite the ever-tightening labor market. During 1999, wages have increased just 3.6 percent compared to the year before. In 1998, wages were accelerating at a rate of more than 4 percent. However, there is concern that as the labor pool dwindles, wage pressures will build.

Recent victory

The Cleveland office of the law firm Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease LLP won a victory in U.S. district court that has important implications for the nation’s solid waste transporters. The firm successfully defended Waste Management of Ohio Inc. against allegations that a company it merged with disposed hazardous substances in a county incinerator prior to the merger.

VSSP lawyers argued the company was not liable under federal guidelines because use of the site was dictated by local ordinance. For solid waste transporters, the decision means if they do not have a choice about where to dispose of hazardous and nonhazardous waste due to a local “flow control” ordinance, they are not liable for clean-up of the site.

The benefits of the best

Special benefits plans to help attract top executives are now commonplace in corporate America. William M. Mercer Inc. recently surveyed 241 companies to analyze and study how they handled it. Among the nonqualified executive benefits covered in the survey were defined benefit, defined contribution, elective compensation deferral, life insurance, long-term disability and medical plans. Here are the results:

With an increasing portion of executives’ retirement income expected to come from nonqualified plans, almost half the surveyed companies — led by mid-sized firms — have moved to fund their executive benefit plans.

About half the companies require executive benefit plan participants to have pay of at least $160,000, the current federal limit for purposes of calculating retirement benefits.

More than half the employers surveyed include change-in-control provisions in their plans, typically providing for accelerated vesting of benefits or either immediate lump sum payments or accelerated funding.

Copies of Mercer’s Survey on Executive Benefit Plans are available at no charge by calling (800) Mercer9 or visiting Mercer online at

Health care in cyberspace

Medical Mutual of Ohio has created Inc., an Internet-focused subsidiary that will market a variety of health-related products and services to help offset rising health care costs. Ben Zelman, Medical Mutual’s vice president of Care Management, will lead the new operation as president and chief operating officer.

Zelman says the virtual company will allow consumers to save money on health care services and products not typically covered by insurance. In June, Medical Mutual began offering its first product available through the SaveWell card, a prescription drug program that for $52 a year entitles customers to Medical Mutual’s discounts on brand new and generic prescription drugs at participating pharmacies.

Medical Mutual says the card program is being developed to eventually include discount networks for vision care, dental care, alternative health treatments and nutritional supplements. For more information, visit

A few facts about women in business

There are nearly 8 million women-owned businesses in the United States, with that number rapidly growing as women start businesses at twice the rate of the general population, according to the American Business Women’s Association. In fact, 74 percent of corporate women indicate they are interested in eventually starting their own business.

Women-owned businesses generate $2.3 trillion in annual sales and employ one out of every four U.S. workers — 18.5 million employees. The ABWA recently sent out the figures as part of a membership drive for its 11,000-member national organization. For more information, visit

Changing of the guard

The Heights Regional Chamber of Commerce elected Yvonne Sanderson as its new board president. Sanderson, who was the organization’s executive director for seven years, wanted to continue her involvement with the chamber as she grows her two businesses, Focal Pane Photography and Nightwak Signs, a business she owns with her husband. The HRCC represents Cleveland Heights, Shaker Heights, Richmond Heights, University Heights, Lyndhurst and South Euclid and has served the local business community since 1948.

Shopping for a new system

When shopping for business information systems, there are three things PriceWaterhouseCoopers, the world’s largest professional services firm, suggests you consider. The first is specificity. It sounds simple, but make sure the equipment you are buying can actually perform the functions you need it to. Develop “as-is” models to chart how cash flow, invoices and purchases are handled to be included in proposals sent to vendors.

Secondly, the system must be flexible enough that each person in your organization can access the information needed to complete assigned tasks. It is crucial its capabilities are matched by the comfort of the people using it.

Finally, as businesses put valuable information online to interface with vendors or allow access to staff at diverse physical locations, security becomes paramount. Make sure there are adequate security measures for any information system you purchase, especially if proprietary information relating to your company’s competitive edge is at stake.

A Sunday sundae

In an effort to jump on the bandwagon of good feelings surrounding the return of the Cleveland Browns, Pierre’s French Ice Cream Co. has created Brownie Touchdown Sundae — a mix of chunks of chocolate brownies, fudge sauce and roasted pecans. Hopefully, the Browns’ season will be as sweet.

Let me talk to my lawyer first

In a society which seems ever more litigious, perhaps a backlash has begun. A survey conducted by Roper Starch Worldwide Inc. for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce found that many Americans oppose the trend toward government-sponsored litigation that targets legal businesses.

When asked how they felt about lawsuit s against gun manufacturers that hold them responsible for crimes committed with their products, 68 percent strongly or somewhat opposed the action. Only 19 percent strongly or somewhat favored the suits.

Now if the only the government would listen to the people.

Leaders on the cutting edge

More than 1,200 individuals and companies involved in software development, contracting or consulting in Cleveland now have a way to recognize leaders in the field. The Northeast Ohio Software Association (NEOSA), a private industry trade association formed in 1998 by the Greater Cleveland Growth Association, has established the region’s first awards to acknowledge excellence in what has been dubbed the “knowledge industry.” The first annual Cleveland-Area Knowledge Industry Awards will be presented by NEOSA Nov. 11.

Electronic taxes, part one

More than 1 million Ohioans filed individual income tax returns electronically last season, putting Ohio second only to California among all 50 states. This includes telephone filing and E-File, a new program allowing citizens to submit returns from a personal computer for the first time. Taxpayers were able to use their personal computers and tax preparation software to file their 1998 tax returns electronically from home, or have their taxes filed by an authorized electronic filing provider. Approximately 13 percent of the 5 million Ohio tax returns were filed using the E-File method.

Electronic taxes, part two

Created by Congress in October 1998 as part of the Internet Tax Freedom Act, a 19-member Commission has been charged with studying the impact of federal, state, local, and international taxation and tariffs on transactions using the Internet and Internet access. Central to the examination of these issues is the fact that the Internet knows no geographical boundaries, and, by its very nature, violates those geographical boundaries that hinder other forms of commerce. The commission is also expected to analyze the implications for personal privacy implicit in the taxation of Internet purchases. Recommendations are due in to Congress no later than April 21, 2000.

Y2 not OK

The Y2K budget at many large nonfinancial companies has quintupled during the first part of the year, according to a study by Weiss Ratings Inc. The belief is that management may have vastly underestimated the scope of the millennium bug. USX-U.S. Steel Group, for example, nearly doubled its budget to $71 million. Due to its slender Y2K budget, and because it had barely used 50 percent of its 1998 budget by the end of the first quarter, the company received a low rating. Other Fortune 1000 companies which have received low ratings for their Y2K preparedness include Intel, Comcast and 3Com. If you’re not ready, at least you’re in good company. For ratings of other companies visit

Monday, 22 July 2002 09:49


Stargate Industries has acquired ErieNet Inc., of Erie, and Intrepid Technologies of Shepardstown, W.Va., in separate transactions. The acquisitions add more than 20,000 new subscribers to Stargate’s client base.

Commercial National Financial Corp. of Latrobe has renamed its bank subsidiary Commercial National Bank of Pennsylvania. is offering postings on its Web site to both businesses and job seekers. Job seekers can post their resumes online at no charge. Interested employers can view their qualifications, but full disclosure of resumes will not occur without the job seeker’s permission. Recruiters can search the bank of resumes at no charge for qualified candidates and can post job openings for free.

WTW Architects has been selected to design the $5 million Western Pennsylvania Surgery Center to be located in Pine Township. The project will include four operating rooms, a mobile MRI facility, examination and treatment rooms, physicians offices and support areas. Parking for 142 cars will also be provided.

Carnegie Mellon University and the Community College of Allegheny County are combining efforts to provide an opportunity for CCAC students to earn certificates in software systems development and computer programming from CMU.

The agreement allows CCAC students to earn college credits toward a degree from CCAC and to access Carnegie Mellon’s latest Web-based information technology courses for $68 a credit. Students who pass the required courses will receive grades from CCAC and certification from Carnegie Technology Education Inc., a nonprofit subsidiary of Carnegie Mellon.

Desbow & Associates, a downtown Pittsburgh-based communications and design firm, has formed a market research division, Research Engine, that provides a wide variety of market research support for the firm’s marketing and public relations clients.

Landau Building Co. has been awarded the general construction contract from the Jelin Corp. for the Elephant & Castle Pub & Restaurant to be located in Grove City.

Batteries Plus, a national retail and business-to-business battery chain, has opened a franchise location on Library Road, Castle Shannon. The store offers battery testing, charging and installation, as well as designing of custom battery packs and conditioning of nickel cadmium batteries, which are used in a variety of cordless products. The store also serves as a recycling location for disposal of many types of batteries.

PWCampbell has been awarded the design/build contract by the Indiana County PA School Employees Federal Credit Union. The project is a 6,000-square-foot main office with two drive-up lanes, two private loan offices, a central file room, two conference rooms and an automated teller machine.

Kings Family Restaurants has opened a restaurant, the chain’s 33rd location, in Buffalo Plaza on South Pike Road in Sarver.

Winner International, the company that markets The Club vehicle anti-theft device, has formed Winners Club, an online network marketing company.

WTW Architects has been chosen to complete a two-story addition for the Green Tree Borough Municipal Center and Library. The $450,000 project will expand the library’s space by approximately 40 percent.

Monday, 22 July 2002 09:47


Search Dave Moore, 1; Alan Anderson, 0

Just as it seemed the 20-month legal battle between Crystal Mortgage CEO David Moore and the city of Amherst over alleged unpaid taxes (chronicled in the October issue of SBN) would end with a whimper, more gasoline was thrown on the fire.

Apparently, Moore autographed copies of the SBN article and dropped them in the mailboxes of city officials, a move that prompted Amherst Law Director Alan Anderson to file a cease-and-desist order against Moore in Lorain County Common Pleas Court claiming the prominent local businessman was harassing him. Moore, who has already blown $100,000 in his fight against the city and a comprehensive political campaign against Anderson specifically, classified the court filing as pre-election shenanigans.

If he was trying to stir up some re-election support, it didn’t work. Anderson was defeated at the November polls by Democrat challenger Kenneth Stumphauzer.

Fussy about Mrs. Hargrove

Mike Hargrove may have been sacked as manager of the Cleveland Indians, but Fussy Cleaners isn’t necessarily going to follow suit with his wife, Sharon. At least not right away.

For much of this year, Mrs. Hargrove has put her sassy West Texas twang to good use as a radio and print pitch person for the Akron-based chain, which has 18 locations in four Northeastern Ohio counties. And President John Baraona says he’s made no decision yet on whether she’ll remain in the marketing mix for next year, now that her husband has been hired by the Baltimore Orioles.

“This is long-term, institutional advertising,” he says. “She doesn’t say, ‘Come on in.’” And, he points out, “Sharon and I never talk about baseball.”

Even the small warming to e-commerce

According to a study by California-based Sage Software, 29 percent of small and mid-sized companies with Web sites are doing some form of e-commerce. The survey was based on responses from 200 companies with between 10 and 500 employees. One mild surprise: just 9 percent of respondents think the Web is an effective promotional tool for them.

NAWBO cancels Net

Who says business owners never tire of learning more about the Internet? The Cleveland chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners was due to convene a gathering of members to hash over the topic Sept. 28. But the session was canceled, apparently because almost no one but SBN called to RSVP.

California bound

You probably won’t be surprised to learn that when they cash out or otherwise retire, entrepreneurs often head for sunnier climates than Cleveland. The two most recent defectors to the Left Coast are Dan and Kate Krause and local ad veteran Dan Fitzsimmons.

Dan and Kate headed back to her native California after the couple sold to a consolidator the Internet Service Provider ExchangeNet that they had started with his brother Mike.

Fitzsimmons, a fixture in the ad agency world for 30 years, recently moved to Los Angeles with his wife to better peddle his idea for a cable TV channel devoted exclusively to puppies, The Puppy Channel. In earlier days, he was known for, among other things, helping take the Council of Smaller Enterprises from an unknown organization to a major powerhouse, in no small part because of savvy leveraging of its $1 million annual ad budget.

YPOers have all the fun

The Young Presidents Organization likes to think of itself as an elite gathering of young corporate leaders. Its educational tracks tackle serious subjects such as estate planning and personal security, but its members also like to have a little fun.

That’s precisely what the local chapter offered members with a couple of marquee events this year. In one, members got a chance to scrub into and observe first-hand various surgeries at the Cleveland Clinic. They also took part in a drill mounted by the Cleveland Police SWAT team, in which members, outfitted in night-vision goggles and 9 mm paintballs, tested their wits against imaginary bad guys. What are they going to do for an encore?

Tapping into valuable databases

It’s touted as supporting the research efforts of full-time state and federal judges. Cleveland-based Inc. (formerly Law Office Information Systems, Inc.) provides no-cost access to its state and federal law libraries via the Internet. State judges can receive a no-cost subscription to the law library of their state; federal judges can receive Internet access to U.S. reports, their applicable circuit court product.

So where’s the money being made? Judges can upgrade their free subscriptions to a half-price discount and receive access to all of’s state and federal law libraries available on the Web. That’s a windfall for all, considering that estimates say’s databases contain more than 5.5 million documents of federal and state law, continuing education materials and other legal information. Talk about leveraging the power — and value — of information.

A new cook in the mix

Last month, SBN featured two local entrepreneurs offering to solve one of the most important question any busy executive faces: What’s for dinner? Well, clear the plate for a third player. Cleveland chef Tim Powers rolled out a new service for health-conscious executives on the go with a company named, aptly enough, “What’s for Dinner? Personal Chef Service.” Salivating yet? If so, sample his wares at (216) 371-3133.

Microsoft crack down

After sweeping through Cleveland skewering computer companies selling pirated software, Microsoft is urging consumers and resellers to become familiar with the warning signs that can help identify counterfeit or illegal software.

“Unwary customers who get a seemingly fantastic deal on their new, nicely loaded computer often end up having been duped,” says Janice Block, corporate attorney for Microsoft. She warns to look out for prices “too good to be true” or software marked with messages like “Academic price” or “for distribution with a new PC only.” Finally, make sure software is properly licensed and comes with a certificate of authenticity.

Within the next five years, Microsoft expects to recoup $50 million in its software piracy crackdown, with half of that amount earmarked for donation to nonprofit organizations focusing on providing access to technology for disadvantaged communities. In 1998, Microsoft estimates software piracy caused losses to the U.S. economy totaling nearly $1 billion in taxes and more than 100,000 jobs.

A local buzz

Cleveland Today, a nonprofit organization dedicated to hyping all things Cleveland, and The Cleveland International press center, which assists foreign journalists in establishing contacts here, have jointly created a slick Web site — — to help expand the reach of both groups. The Web site will also feature current and past issues of Dateline: Cleveland, a bimonthly magazine which reports on developments in Northeast Ohio and provides story pitches for foreign journalists considering giving Cleveland ink in their publications.

Coming to a checkout counter near you

The impulse buyer was never in more danger. NCR Corp. recently announced the creation of new software that allows for Web-based product promotion as customers are having their purchases tallied at the checkout.

Here’s how it works: a small screen at the point of sale terminal rings up a customer’s purchases on one side. Meanwhile, product promotions, advertisements and event announcements are presented in a Web-based window on the other half of the screen.

There are enhancements to the system already in the works. Eventually, each purchase a customer makes will trigger a promotion for related or complementary merchandise, creating extra sales opportunities for the retailer while customers have their money — or credit card — in hand.

Early recruiting

Cleveland State University’s Advanced Manufacturing Center received a $190,000 grant from the SME Education Foundation to develop a Manufacturing Discovery Laboratory that will train teachers as “manufacturing ambassadors” and introduce middle-school students to career possibilities in manufacturing and engineering.

The laboratory will have 18 fully networked computers equipped with manufacturing design software, along with other equipment that integrates math, science, engineering and manufacturing concepts. Summer camp programs for seventh, eighth and ninth grade students are in place and the laboratory is expected to be fully operational by September 2000. Talk about molding a work force.

Even the best laid plans ...

After generating $5 million in capital in a little more than 90 days, Buckeye Community Bank executives anticipated fairly smooth sailing to their self-imposed Sept. 1 opening date. But never underestimate the power of Y2K and governmental red tape. Buckeye Community Bank President George Mayer (featured in the September issue of SBN) warned that making sure all of the bank’s vendors were Y2K compliant and waiting for state approval may take a little longer than expected. He was right. However, the bank did open its doors at 105 Sheffield Center in Lorain Oct. 18, just 48 days after its Sept. 1 goal.

A new e-commerce site for the grade school set? Chris Goodin and Jack Haas, Cleveland entrepreneurs, are banking on the concept of an interactive Web site for kids ages 3 to 12 — — where parents can purchase learning products only available online.

But what is any product that appeals to kids without a mascot? Enter Internet Eddie. Described by Haas as a “big green lizard guy” that can “be a friend a role model and lead,” Internet Eddie will be a child’s new icon-of-the-week. A costumed Internet Eddie will be making the rounds at schools, libraries and hospitals to push the company’s “learning is fun” theme.

“In the early years, Internet Eddie is soft and safe,” says Haas. “In the middle years, he is more sophisticated and is developing his own personality complexities and later on, he’s highly interactive.” Haas failed to mention whether Eddie will ever explore his wild side as those all-so-familiar college years roll around. We guess not.

Unhappy holidays

The month of December can take a toll on even the most well-intentioned attempts at customer service. If just the thought of the next three weeks has your blood pressure on the rise, help is available. The second edition of “Customer Service For Dummies” recently hit the shelves and offers tips for the holiday season. One of them is to refine your company’s phone style during the crush of holiday business.

It is vital to answer the phone within three rings with a greeting such as “Happy Holidays, XYZ Company, how may I help you?” Also, if you need to put a customer on hold, ask permission and wait for a response. Just remember that over the phone, more than 80 percent of the message your customer receives is through the tone of your voice.

Need a little extra motivation before facing the throngs of holiday shoppers? Check out

Ameritech New Media strikes again

Northeast Ohio cable companies should be afraid, very afraid. After popping up to do battle in 11 local communities, Ameritech New Media — the nation’s largest competitive cable company — is introducing a new fiber optic service in Garfield Heights.

Boasting a “razor sharp picture,” 99.9 percent reliability, an interactive television listings guide and 24-hour customer-care line, Ameritech New Media may quickly catch the attention of other city leaders hoping to breath a little life into their communities’ dusty cable packages.

Not fading away

For anyone who still deludes themselves into believing the Linux operating system will be a passing fad, there are solid numbers showing its popularity is on the rise. In a recent

national survey by California-based RHIConsulting, 57 percent of chief information officers polled said they believe use of the Linux system will increase over the next three years.

Only three percent projected a decline. The survey polled 1,400 CIOs from a stratified random sample of U.S. companies with more than 100 employees. As for Northeast Ohio, consultants are beginning to recommend it to their clients as well (see November’s SBN).

Y2K silver bullet?

Still got some Y2K jitters at this late date? If you do, you’re in serious trouble. But Advanced Programming Resources, Inc., a Dublin, Ohio, IT consulting firm, has a new product that promises to automate the tedious, manual process of gathering data regarding programs currently running on your company’s system.

The “Snooper” identifies the existence of multiple versions of a program, indicating older, noncompliant versions that could lead to Y2K problems at the turn of the year. “Everyone’s been searching for the Y2K silver bullet,” says Barry Heagren, president of APR. “We’ve got the closest thing to it.” Sound good? Get moving. You’ve only got a few weeks left.

A lesson in self-promotion

A recent survey at Chicago’s O’Hare and Dallas/Ft. Worth International airports reported 72 percent of business travelers were carrying at least one promotional product imprinted with a company’s name, logo or message. Even more incredible was the fact that 77 percent of those polled said they used the promotional product once a day.

Pens and pencils topped the list of favorite promotional products, followed closely by clothing. But before you go rushing out to buy those fleece pullovers bearing your company’s logo, consider the fact that the Promotional Products Association International conducted the survey.

Do-it-yourself business valuations

You want to know the value of your business, but don’t want to hire a high-priced business consultant to do the work. For better or worse, companies are cropping up with products that allow entrepreneurs to determine a value for their business in the comfort of their own homes. There is Colorado-based Innovative Professional Software Inc., which offers a program to value your business for a mere $200. Meanwhile, VALUware is for sale at for $330. The only lingering question seems to be whether any of these means of business valuation would hold water with the IRS.

Food to go

Forgetting to eat lunch in the midst of a busy, deadline-laden day isn’t uncommon among time-strapped execs, so the results of a study by the National Restaurant Association asking “What’s for lunch?” should come as no surprise.

The top three answers were fruit, hamburgers and wraps — a list made up of “compressed lunches.” That suggests a trend toward hand-held food, which allows consumers (read: busy execs) to fit more work into each day. It also explains the finding that four out of 10 people don’t take a “real” lunch break, choosing instead to eat at their desks or on the run between meetings.

Further substantiating the findings, this brief was written between forksful of salad at the author’s desk.

Lamson & Sessions on the defense

A U.S. District Court judge in Illinois last month denied Cleveland-based Lamson & Sessions request to set aside a jury’s decision to award Illinois-based Intermatic $12.5 million in damages in resolution of a patent infringement case. The court also ordered Lamson & Sessions to pay $1.5 million in prejudgment interest to Intermatic. The ruling came two months after a jury’s ruling that Lamson & Sessions infringed on Intermatic’s patent for an outdoor electrical outlet cover.

Passing the bell to generation three

Jess A. Bell Jr., grandson of founder Jesse G. Bell, has been named chairman and CEO of Bonne Bell Inc., a Lakewood-based cosmetics and beauty aids manufacturer. Bell takes over from his father, Jess A. Bell, 74, who assumes the post of vice chairman of the 72-year old company.

“We are now officially in the third generation,” says Bell, whose innovative use of senior workers was recently profiled in SBN. “Very few private family businesses make it to the third generation.”

Another chunk of medal for the collection

Cleveland’s youngest microbrewery, Western Reserve Brewing, added another national medal to its quickly growing collection — a silver at the Great American Beer Festival in the category of Belgian & French Style Specialty Ales for its Cloud Nine beer.

More than 400 breweries from around the nation competed in the festival. The beer joins other Western Reserve winners American Wheat Beer, Amber Ale, Nut Brown Ale and the seasonal Lake Effect Winter Ale.