Michelle Meyer

Monday, 22 July 2002 10:00

Drumming up big buyers

Pleasing high profile customers such as nationally known bands and universities isn't as hard as you might think-as long as you know your stuff.

Just ask Jim Rupp, president of Columbus Percussion.

This Clintonville-area business has landed accounts with well-known names such as Disney World and The Ohio State University and has made customized drums for band members of Prince and Smashing Pumpkins.

The company has been successful in getting such clients, Rupp says, mostly through word of mouth.

"It's a very small business, so if you've been around and do a good job, you meet a lot of people. It's like anything else, it builds momentum," he says.

Rupp keeps these clients, he says, because his company goes out of its way to do things other businesses don't. An artist once asked Columbus Percussion to custom make raw drum shells so he could paint a jungle field on them. The company did so, and after the artist painted the mural, went back and applied a clear sealant over the set.

"It was a beautiful set of drums," Rupp says.

Rupp says having music teachers and professional drummers on staff is a plus in dealing with big name clients.

"Guys that work here are already deeply involved in the music," he explains. "They know immediately if a person is looking for a certain kind of sound."

Monday, 22 July 2002 10:01

ReSaurus Co. Inc.

Scores of new toy introductions and another big jump in sales are what Douglas Sapp has on his mind for the coming year.

Sapp, president and CEO of ReSaurus Co. Inc. of Columbus, plans on increasing his toy offerings by 100 percent and his sales by nearly 200 percent in 1999. Sapp has already seen a large increase in demand for his company’s toys in the past year—including an almost 15 percent rise in profit margin—thanks to a good marketplace and his ties to the video game industry.

“We are seeing our products move at such a high velocity, that it’s difficult to keep up with demand,” Sapp says.

The company has also grown internally, expanding business space by 31,000 square feet and hiring 15 more employees in the past year.

Though ReSaurus got its start in movie-themed hand puppets such as “Flipper” and “Babe,” its mainstay has become action figures, including dinosaurs from “The Lost World” and “Godzilla.” This year, Sapp plans to diversify ReSaurus further by adding three toy lines designed to appeal to girls. The products, the company’s first nationally televised line targeting this group, include toy horses and collectable dolls. By diversifying his offerings and target audience, Sapp won’t be as reliant on any one product—though he has no plan to let his line of action figures stagnate.

“We’re primarily a boys’ action company and we will continue to work on that,” Sapp says.

The company has 75 items on the market and plans to introduce another 75 this year. That’s more than ReSaurus added in the past two years combined. The company introduced about 25 items in ’97 and 30 in ’98.

The company also plans on moving more into the video game industry and movie-related products in 1999—and expanding its international distribution base. ReSaurus is in the final stage of opening a Hong Kong office, through which international purchases will be run. About 20 percent of the company’s business is done internationally, but Sapp expects that to increase to at least 30 percent in the upcoming year.

With this expanded growth, increased revenues and new toy introductions, expect ReSaurus Co. to break the $25 million mark in ’99.

ReSaurus Co. Inc.
240 Outerbelt St., Columbus
Top officer: Douglas J. Sapp
Founded: 1993
Employees: 24
Estimated 1998 revenues: $10.5 million
Sales growth, ’96 to ’97: 838%
Ownership: Private
Major Clients: Toys R Us, Target, Wal-Mart, K.B. Toys

Monday, 22 July 2002 10:00

Getting connected

Sprint PCS is donating approximately $80,000 in digital wireless service to selected public schools on Columbus's Near East Side. The program, called Education Connection, is designed to promote learning in the classroom by increasing communication among teachers, students, parents and staff.

"The Sprint PCS Education Connection will be implemented in schools that may not otherwise have the resources to utilize new technology," says Kathleen Bailey, chair of the Near East Side Commission, which works with schools in the community.

About 20 phones will be donated for the program, which will be evaluated after a year.

Monday, 22 July 2002 09:59

A new opportunity

After working with thoroughbred race horses for 24 years, Dr. Richard Nelson says he was suffering burn out.

Nelson, a veterinarian, realized he needed a change and took out a U.S. Small Business Administration-backed loan for $468,000 to start a veterinary hospital.

The doctor used the SBA 504 loan program, designed for purchasing land and constructing or buying facilities, after his banker from Heartland Bank of Grove City suggested it. Approval took about three months and construction of his hospital on Norton Road in Columbus lasted roughly nine months.

Nelson now runs a small animal veterinary practice in which surgeries and vaccinations are done. Although he still works on horses at the race track, he has six employees and another doctor working with him at the hospital.

Before building the hospital, Nelson did most of his work out of his home and carried everything he needed on his truck. Building the hospital has helped centralize his business and achieve his goals, he says.

"It's allowed me to enlarge and diversify the practice," he says.

And steady growth has followed.

SBA lending activity in Central Ohio

Sophisticated Systems Inc., Columbus: $826,450

Huffman's Tremont Market Inc., Upper Arlington: $475,000

Norton Road Veterinary Hospital, Columbus: $468,000

Worthington Woods Animal Care, Worthington: $492,700

State Farm Insurance, Grove City: $350,000

Source: U.S. Small Business Administration Columbus District Office

Monday, 22 July 2002 10:02

SBA Lending activity

After being in the same office for eight years, Jack Conie and his employees were starting to get a bit cramped. When people began sharing office space, he knew it was time to move to a larger building.

Conie, CEO of Environmental Pipeliners, sought a U.S. Small Business Administration-backed loan of $900,000 to buy a building about 10,000 square feet larger.

The Dublin-based company has increased its revenues from about $600,000 when it was founded in 1990, to about $5 million in 1998. Along with financial growth came more employees, from about five at the company's start to about 35 this year. Conie says the company was losing business because it was outgrowing the building and didn't have the ability to warehouse material or equipment.

"In a way, it sort of stagnated our growth," he says.

Conie worked through Bank One to get the loan, and the paperwork was approved immediately. Then Columbus Countywide Development Corp., an agency that helps business owners obtain SBA loans, needed to give its approval. That process took about six months, Conie says.

The loan for the office-warehouse building on Eiterman Road now occupied by Conie's company will let him start putting money back into the business so it can grow. Environmental Pipeliners uses technology such as robotics and televisions to find pipe defects and make repairs without excavating.

"(The loan) enables us to maintain current growth without dipping in the cash flow for more expenses," he says.

Conie also says the people at the Columbus Countywide Development Corp. were excellent to work with in securing the loan.

"All I could envision is the bureaucratic red tape that you envision with that kind of program," Conie says. "They were easy to work with and very prompt."

SBA lending activity in Central Ohio

Listings include: Company, city and net loan amount.

Ron's Express Carwash & Lube Inc., Columbus, $1,050,000

Environmental Pipeliners, Amlin, $900,000

Adrian-Poirier Chiropractic Inc., Columbus, $890,000

Results Engineering, Westerville, $725,000

Northwest Animal Hospital, Columbus, $555,000

Bordner & Associates Inc., Gahanna, $544,000

Go Express Inc., Westerville, $460,000

Law General Contracting Inc., St. Louisville, $448,000

Checkered Flag Express Lube, Marysville, $350,000

Starting Point Daycare Center, Columbus, $348,000

Lexon Corp., Columbus, $227,700

Saia & Piatt PLL, Columbus, $185,000

Sunscapes, Columbus, $152,000

Gahanna Sunoco, Gahanna, $145,300

The Columbus Post/Empower Publishing, Columbus, $125,000

Source: U.S. Small Business Administration Columbus District Office

Monday, 22 July 2002 10:01

Where are they now?

It's been five years now since the editorial staff at SBN began sharing its predictions about which Central Ohio companies were on the brink of a breakout-or breakdown-year. Here's a look at what we've predicted in years past and what those companies are doing today.

Class of 1995

St. Ann's Hospital
Top officer then: John B. Sandman
Top officer now: Joseph T. Calvaruso
Estimated revenues then: $73.2 million
Estimated revenues now: $123 million
Employees then: 1,500
Employees now: 6,300 systemwide
Forecast then: Expecting a merger with Mount Carmel
Where it is now: St. Ann's was acquired by Mount Carmel Medical System in 1995.

Cardinal Realty Services
[Now Lexford Residential Trust]
Top officer then: Frank McDowell
Top officer now: John Bartling
Estimated revenues then: $22.6 million
Estimated revenues now: $146 million*
Corp. employees then: 209
Corp. employees now: 102
Forecast then: Expecting a merger or buyout
Where it is now: Cardinal Realty purchased Lexford Properties Inc. in August 1996 and shareholders voted in October 1997 to change Cardinal's name to Lexford Inc. The company is now one of the nation's largest multifamily real estate investment trusts.

Borden Inc.

[Now Borden Inc. and Affiliates]
Top officer then: Ervin R. Shames
Top officer now: C. Robert Kidder
Estimated revenues then: $4.7 billion
Estimated revenues now: $3 billion
Employees then: 39,000 worldwide
Employees now: 12,000 worldwide
Forecast then: Expecting more profitability and the possible sale of some business units
Where they are now: Borden realigned itself into nine smaller business units in 1995. In 1996, the German bakery and plastic packaging divisions were sold. In 1997, part of its food businesses, including the Cracker Jack and Borden Cheese brands, were sold. Last year, the company acquired Corning Consumer Products and sold Borden's wallcoverings division and its Eagle Brand, ReaLemon and Cremora businesses. Company officials say profitability has improved considerably.

ConQuest Telecommunication Services
[Now ConQuest Services Corp.]
Top officer then: Ghanshyam C. Patel
Top officer now: John Burchett
Estimated revenues then: $30 million
Estimated revenues now: $25 million
Employees then: 250
Employees now: 490
Forecast then: Expecting record sales, expansion into the residential marketplace and a new wireless division
Where it is now: ConQuest was acquired by SmarTalk TeleServices, a national manufacturer and distributor of prepaid phone cards, in 1997. This past June, ConQuest was sold again, this time to New Millennium Communications Corp., which designs, operates and manages communications services worldwide. ConQuest's primary focus remains in operator-assisted call services.

Superconductive Components Inc.
Top officer then: Edward R. Funk
Top officer now: Edward R. Funk
Estimated revenues then: $1 million
Estimated revenues now: $2.75 million
Employees then: 22
Employees now: 30
Forecast then: Expecting to raise more capital and get listed on NASDAQ.
Where it is now: Superconductive has received two phase-one grants, one of $170,000 from the National Science Foundation and one for $70,000 from NASA, and hopes to get some phase-two federal research grants soon. The company has not yet been listed on NASDAQ, though it remains a goal.

Scriptel Holdings
Top officer then: James France
Top officer now: B.H. Eckstein
Estimated revenues then: $7 million
Estimated revenues now: $1 million
Employees then: 80
Employees now: 7
Forecast then: Expecting to capture sizable share of the market with its digital pen input system for notebook computers
Where it is now: Scriptel filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in September 1997 and submitted its reorganization plan for approval in August 1998. As part of the approved plan, the company intends to issue five million new shares of common stock Jan. 1.

Moody/Nolan Ltd. Inc.
Top officer then: Curtis J. Moody
Top officer now: Curtis J. Moody
Estimated revenues then: $7 million
Estimated revenues now: $11.5 million
Employees then: 75
Employees now: 120
Forecast then: Expecting to capture several more high-profile jobs
Where it is now: Moody/Nolan has obtained eye-catching projects including the Smith Bros. Hardware building renovation, the Bureau of Criminal Identification crime laboratory and West Virginia University's student recreation center

Agler-Davidson Sporting Goods Inc.
Top officer then: Jack Davidson
Top officer now: None
Estimated revenues then: $7 million
Estimated revenues now: None
Employees then: 125
Employees now: None
Forecast then: Expecting a switch into specialty team sales to stave off increasing competition
Where it is now: Agler-Davidson closed underperforming stores in 1995 and 1996 before ceasing all operations in 1997.

R.G. Barry Corp.
Top officer then: Gordon Zacks
Top officer now: Gordon Zacks
Estimated revenues then: $120 million
Estimated revenues now: $160 million
Employees then: 3,000
Employees now: 3,000
Forecast then: Expecting new Microcore technology to produce year-round income for company and allow expansion into new markets
Where it is now: R.G. Barry expanded its line of thermal comfort products into the food service and health care fields in 1995 and licensed its Microcore technology to Corning Inc. Since then, the company has narrowed its thermal technology focus to developing new products to aid in the delivery and preservation of prepared foods.

Greyden Press
Top officer then: Dennis J. Geraghty
Top officer now: Dennis J. Geraghty
Estimated revenues then: $2 million
Estimated revenues now: $2.7 million**
Employees then: 30
Employees now: 21
Forecast then: Expecting an expanded reach through the Internet and a sales upswing of 30 to 40 percent
Where it is now: Greyden got into the Internet service provider business in 1995 with the launch of SmartPages Direct. In addition, the company has expanded into CD-ROM, Internet, intranet and other digital document applications.

Class of 1996

Univenture Inc.
Top officer then: Ross O. Youngs
Top officer now: Ross O. Youngs
Estimated revenues then: $5.2 million
Revenues in '97: $17.2 million***
Employees then: 110
Employees now: 140+
Forecast then: Expecting to hit the $10 million mark in sales, cut a deal with investors to open an overseas distribution facility and start installing equipment on-site for some large clients
Where it is now: Univenture blew past the $10 million sales mark and made the Inc. 500 list of the fastest-growing private companies in the country for the fourth consecutive year in 1996. The company opened a manufacturing facility in Dublin, Ireland, in 1997 and was, again, named among the Inc. 500. Univenture also has some equipment on-site with select clients.

Holophane Corp.
Top officer then: John R. DallePezze
Top officer now: John R. DallePezze
Estimated revenues then: $175 million
Estimated revenues now: $215 million
Employees then: 1,600
Employees now: 1,780
Forecast then: Expecting more business overseas, more big-name clients, and more product introductions
Where it is now: Holophane established a director of international sales position in 1995 and beefed up business in the Pacific Rim, Brazil and South America. The company has also introduced seven or eight new products since 1996.

Worthingto n Foods
Top officers then: Allan Buller and Dale Twomley
Top officer now: Allan Buller and Dale Twomley
Estimated revenues then: $101 million
Estimated revenues now: $102.2 million
Employees then: 480
Employees now: 600
Forecast then: Expecting four more restaurant deals, expansion into hospitals, prisons and universities, and acquisitions of complementary niche businesses
Where it is now: Worthington Foods set new sales records in both 1996 and 1997. Last year, the company announced plans to buy a major competitor-the Harvest Burger line of products-from Archer Daniels Midland Co., and replace the Green Giant name on this product with the Worthington Foods' Morningstar Farms brand.

Transmap Corp.
Top officer then: Kurt Novak
Top officer now: Kurt Novak
Estimated revenues then: $500,000
Estimated revenues now: $2.1 million
Employees then: 10
Employees now: 24
Forecast then: Expecting new investors, big-name customers and an alliance with a larger mapping company
Where it is now: Transmap secured a $750,000 venture capital investment from River Cities Capital Fund in 1996 and won major contracts with the City of Virginia Beach and Licking and Pickaway counties in 1997. Last year, the company received another $1.3 million venture capital investment-this one from River Cities and White Pines Management.

The Limited Inc.
Top officer then: Leslie H. Wexner
Top officer now: Leslie H. Wexner
Estimated revenues then: $8 billion
Estimated revenues now: $9.2 billion
Employees then: 105,600
Employees now: 131,000
Forecast then: Expecting a spinoff of the women's apparel division, the launch of a new boys' apparel store from Abercrombie & Fitch or Structure, and the development of niche catalogs
Where it is now: The Limited spun off its Bath & Body Works and Victoria's Secret divisions in a combined 1995 IPO to create Intimate Brands. Last year, Abercrombie & Fitch became a stand-alone company, too, and created a new division of its own: abercrombie, a clothing store for teens and pre-teens.

Corna/Kokosing Construction
Top officer then: Mark Corna
Top officer now: Mark Corna
Estimated revenues then: $75 million
Estimated revenues now: $102 million
Employees then: 125
Employees now: 360
Forecast then: Expecting to dominate the Central Ohio construction industry in short order
Where it is now: Corna/Kokosing has held its own against local competitors, reeling in some high-profile projects including the Buckeye Hall of Fame Cafe and the Capital University Law School, but has not monopolized the industry as expected.

Brighter Child Interactive
Top officers then: Vincent Douglas and Richard Pam
Top officer now: Richard Pam
Estimated revenues then: Not available
Estimated revenues now: $450,000**
Employees then: 10
Employees now: 4
Forecast then: Expecting licensing agreements with Marvel Entertainment, the British Broadcasting Co. and cartoon producer NELVANA, as well as a 300 to 400 percent jump in sales
Where it is now: Brighter Child has not secured licensing agreements with Marvel, the BBC or NELVANA, but has branched into religious multimedia software such as The Beginners Bible CD-ROM.

Neoprobe Corp.
Top officers then: John L. Ridihalgh and David C. Bupp
Top officer now: John L. Ridihalgh and David C. Bupp
Estimated revenues then: $933,000
Estimated revenues now: $3.57 million
Employees then: 46
Employees now: 81
Forecast then: Expecting regulatory approval of its cancer diagnosis and treatment products and a higher stock value
Where it is now: Neoprobe's stock rose in 1996 following agreements with U.S. Surgical and Dow Chemical to advance its patents. But in 1998, the Food and Drug Administration refused to approve the sale of Neoprobe's latest device, a drug-and-probe combination, causing the company to stop clinical trials on this item and sending its stock price downward.

Q3 Stamped Metal
Top officer then: Francis Price
Top officer now: Francis Price
Estimated revenues then: Not available
Estimated revenues now: $25 million**
Employees then: 142
Employees now: 180
Forecast then: Expecting record-setting growth, a doubling of its work force, and diversification into appliances, heating and air conditioning, and refrigeration
Where it is now: Q3 has not yet doubled its work force or diversified its product line, but its continuing growth resulted in a 50,000-square-foot facility expansion in 1996.

We Do Inc.
Top officer then: Carol Feinberg
Top officer now: None
Estimated revenues then: Just opened
Estimated revenues now: None
Employees then: 71
Employees now: None
Forecast then: Expecting company to be a player in the wedding apparel industry from the start and open two more stores
Where it is now: Opened a second store in Atlanta in late 1996, shortly before investors pulled the plug on the entire operation.

Class of 1997

Sun Television & Appliances Inc.
Top officer then: James R. Copitzky
Top officer now: R. Carter Pate
Estimated revenues then: $806 million
Estimated revenues now: $508 million
Employees then: 4,000
Employees now: 3,000 before store closings
Forecast then: Expecting store closings and possibly the failure of the entire chain if turnaround plans don't show immediate promise
Where it is now: Store closings at Sun began in early 1997, followed by the elimination of more than 1,200 jobs and a complete corporate shake-up. Last year brought a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing in September and, when Sun's new, small-town focus failed, a prompt liquidation of its remaining stores.

CompuServe Inc.
[Now CompuServe Interactive Services Inc.]
Top officer then: Bob Massey
Top officer now: Mayo S. Stuntz Jr.
Estimated revenues then: $793 million
Estimated revenues now: $842 million**
Employees then: 3,600
Employees now: 3,050**
Forecast then: Expecting a renewed focus on commercial customers, the demise of WOW!, and either a near-return to profitability or the beginning of the end
Where it is now: CompuServe dumped its family-oriented WOW! online service, vowed to switch its focus back to the corporate side and was sold by its parent company H&R Block-all in the first nine months of 1997. The three-way transaction left WorldCom with CompuServe's corporate customers and America Online with CompuServe's consumer online service.

AirNet Systems Inc.
Top officer then: Jerry Mercer
Top officer now: Jerry Mercer
Estimated revenues then: $75 million
Estimated revenues now: $110 million
Employees then: 650
Employees now: 1,150
Forecast then: Expecting additional acquisitions and double-digit revenue growth
Where it is now: AirNet acquired three companies in 1997 and exceeded analysts' predictions of 15 percent growth. Last year, the company acquired Mercury Business Services and anticipated a 12 percent increase in revenues.

Cameron Mitchell Restaurants
Top officer then: Cameron Mitchell
Top officer now: Cameron Mitchell
Estimated revenues then: $7 million
Estimated revenues now: $15 million
Employees then: 300
Employees now: 565
Forecast then: Expecting two more restaurant openings and sales topping $11 million
Where it is now: Cameron Mitchell opened the Columbus Brewing Co. and his second Cap City Diner in 1997, taking his sales past the $11 million mark. Last year, Mitchell's first steakhouse made its debut downtown and The Columbus Fish Market opened near Grandview.

comp/data international inc.
Top officer then: Sepehr Rajaie
Top officer now: Sepehr Rajaie
Estimated revenues then: $12 million
Estimated revenues now: $9.6 million**
Employees then: 28
Employees now: 30**
Forecast then: Expecting new offices in Connecticut and North Carolina, as well as new investors
Where it is now: Comp/data dropped its plans for out-of-state expansion in 1997, but secured equity capital from investors. The company maintained a low profile in 1998 and numerous messages left on its answering machine during the latter part of the year went unreturned. In addition, its West Spring Street offices appeared empty.

JUPITER Marketing & Advertising Inc.
Top officer then: Tom Hughes
Top officer now: Tom Hughes
Estimated billings then: $3.1 million
Estimated billings now: Not available
Employees then: 5
Employees now: 4**
Forecast then: Expecting more overseas business, specifically in Australia, and a big client in the used car industry
Where it is now: JUPITER expanded its local client list with four major deals in 1997.

Bob Evans Farms Inc.
Top officer then: Dan Evans
Top officer now: Dan Evans
Estimated revenues then: $806 million
Estimated revenues now: $887 million
Employees then: 29,000
Employees now: 32,000
Forecast then: Expecting a renewed focus on the flagship restaurant business, an expansion into frozen foods and a beefier stock price
Where it is now: Bob Evans Farms Inc. found its earnings, sales and operating profits inching back up in 1997. Last year those profit gains continued.

Karrington Health Inc.
Top officer then: Richard Slager
Top officer now: Richard Slager
Estimated revenues then: $9 million
Estimated revenues now: $45 million
Employees then: 500
Employees now: 1,500
Forecast then: Expecting expansion into middle- and lower-income markets and smaller communities to push revenues into the $25 million range and result in its first profits
Where it is now: Karrington continued to show losses in 1997, but tripled the number of assisted-living facilities it owned and operated. Last fall, the company announced it was being acquired by Sunrise Assisted Living Inc. in a $191 million stock and debt deal.

The Computer Group
Top officer then: Suzanne Erickson
Top officer now: Suzanne Erickson
Estimated revenues then: $16 million
Estimated revenues now: $15 million**
Employees then: 60
Employees now: 60**
Forecast then: Expecting to add a nationwide sales force and a new division, boosting sales to $24 million in the process
Where it is now: The Computer Group began building its national sales force in 1997 and added a media marketing division to work with CD replicators nationwide.

*Estimate provided by J.C. Bradford & Co.

**As listed in the 1999 Dun & Bradstreet Regional Business Directory, 1998 Dun & Bradstreet Million Dollar Directory and/or Dun's Microcosm

***Most recent figure available

Monday, 22 July 2002 10:01

Putting employees to the test

What prompted you to start requiring these tests?

Turnover is extremely high in this industry with employment being as low as it is. We realize that one of the biggest assets are our employees.

Our primary focus is continuous education and to find more of a motivation for the employees to continually strive to bring their own level of understanding to a higher level. There is always room for improvement. Our motivation is not to penalize anyone; we expect everybody to pass. If you’re always trying to improve ... you can better serve the customer.

What were your expectations for these tests?

One, the goal was primarily to expand on the [employees’] knowledge. Two, and more important, is what it takes to improve. It’s more knowing how to research and how to resolve the issue in the most time effective manner. It’s a vast industry and you cannot be trained in a one-week time period. It’s so vast that there is no way you can expect one individual to know everything. Three, one of the unexpected benefits is that you do see a little more camaraderie within the office.

What kind of questions do you ask on these tests?

[The test covers] our procedures and guidelines as far as our licensing requirements, federal guidelines and real estate settlement procedures acts. The individuals must really understand what Innova Funding’s obligations are so that they understand why they are doing the items that we request.

How many questions do you usually ask on the test?

We ask five questions and one bonus. Some of those questions may have as many as 30 parts. Our final question is to name one thing you can do to improve Innova Funding.

How is the test administered?

It is transmitted electronically. It goes through our server and everybody receives it at the same time. They have 30 minutes to respond to it after they read it. People have to e-mail their response back and then I usually print them out and make comments. Then we will all sit down together and go over them as far as what the expectations were.

Have you seen improvement in employees’ overall work?

I see people taking the initiative to do some reading on next month’s topic and people are coming to me saying, “Hey, I didn’t know that.” What’s happening is now that the people are taking time to read and research, they are getting excited because it makes them more of an asset. They can do their job better and we can provide a higher level of service to our customers. All levels of employees are taking it very seriously. They do exceptionally well. Everyone has passed to this point on it.

How and when do employees prepare for the tests?

Studying here is fine but I would expect that people are also taking the material home to get more familiar with it. People are starting to prepare four or five weeks ahead of time. In this environment we can ask people to do reading and studying but it’s one of those things that is never going to take priority because of the amount of work to do. We really needed to find a motivation for them to take time away from their other priorities or adjust their schedule so they could continue to study everything.

What advice would you give other business owners for motivating and educating employees?

It is something that should never be overlooked and it should be very important. It ranks up there with business planning. We spend a lot of time training and keeping [employees] knowledgeable. We’re not throwing them out there in the cold. We really try to give them the tools to be successful.

Monday, 22 July 2002 10:00

Meet the 1998 Communicator of the Year

  • Education: I attended William Rainey Harper college. I studied marketing and communications.

  • First job: It was with Culligan International in Chicago. It was a sales promotion type position.

  • Why I chose this career: I kind of fell into it. I had planned to go into special education. I went and got a job ⊃ and decided that I was going to attend school. I ended up going into marketing and advertising. It was one of those right place, right time scenarios.

  • Greatest achievement: Learning the meaning of determination, perseverance and survival. It has earned me an 18-year marriage, a wonderful son, a second-degree black belt in taekwondo, some professional awards and achievements and a successful business.

  • Best business decision: Offer employees stock ownership in the business. Greencrest Marketing was my dream, but it belongs to the employees who make it the company it is today. What fun is success if you can't share it with other people? In addition, get the best professional advice you can afford to establish good company policies. Then stick to those policies.

  • Worst business decision: Going against my better judgment and trusting someone else's opinion ⊃ and it happened more than once. You often hear people talk about an entrepreneurial hunch or following your gut reaction. If it doesn't feel right, it probably isn't the right choice. It seems like every time I don't follow my own instinct, I end up in trouble.

  • Biggest professional challenge: To keep the business growing and keep it exciting. That is a full-time job in itself. It's being a good planner. It's being able to recognize things, to be able to walk away from business that doesn't feel good, to keep Greencrest Marketing growing and keep employees challenged, to exceed customers' expectations, to be innovative in our approach to resolving marketing, advertising and public relations problems, to understand and utilize the latest technology in every area of our business.

  • Most important professional lesson: You do have a choice of with whom you choose to do business. Don't do business with people that don't appreciate your efforts. It's a lose-lose situation. If someone doesn't recognize your need to make a profit, walk away from the business and replace it with someone who wants you to be successful at what you do.

  • Advice to aspiring leaders: The principle I live by is if I can look in the mirror and like the person looking back at me, I've done something right. Honesty and integrity are still the most valuable company cornerstones. Never allow anyone or anything-employee, client, prospect, vendor, shareholder, spouse, opportunity or money-to alter your values. If you remain true to your founding principles, work hard and genuinely care about other people's success, you will succeed.

  • Unfulfilled dream: I don't think I will be in this business forever. I guess that my dreams are to travel the world [and] write books. [The book] would probably be things that were important to me in my life, maybe more of a business how-to book or how to run a business. I also have a real desire to help people and mentor people. I think I would like to do more of that in emerging countries or Third World countries.

About her company
Greencrest Marketing Inc.
120 Northwoods Blvd., Columbus
Founded: 1990
Employees: 7
Annual revenue: Would not disclose
Line of business: Marketing, advertising and public relations