Columbus (2544)

Monday, 31 March 2003 07:52

Ohio homebuilders

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Here's how Ohio's residential home builders rank nationwide.

A ranking of the top 400 homebuilders in the country, based on total housing revenue from Professional Builder Magazine, April 2002.

2002 Rank2001 Rank
Lennar Corp., Miami5,50011
Pulte Corp., Bloomfield Hills, Mich.5,40022
Centex Corp., Dallas5,00033
M/I Schottenstein Homes, Columbus9401917
Dominion Homes, Dublin3894857
Brisben Cos., Cincinnati2157767
Residential Group Inc., Cleveland13613493
Hills Communities Inc., Cincinnati88.1188164
Rockford Homes Inc., Columbus80.1209174
Summit Homes, Canton50.6284271
Oberer Cos., Dayton45.4307267
DiYanni Homes, Columbus41.0321-
Inverness Homes, Cincinnati40.6324-
Gross Builders, North Royalton, Ohio39.8331-
Ameri-Con Homes, Chicago34.5356349
Associated Land Group, Cincinnati33.5362215
The Wallick Cos., Columbus19.0396400

Friday, 28 March 2003 10:31

Financing finesse

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The Small Business Administration helps small businesses get the advice and funding they need to succeed. And SBA programs help businesses increase profitability, thereby retaining and creating jobs.

However, there are many misconceptions about SBA loans that deter people from applying. Here are some myths and truths.

* Myth: It takes too long to get approved.

Truth: Some SBA loans can be approved in as little as 48 hours. The more prepared you are, the faster the turnaround time. Your loan officer advises you what information is needed to make the approval process work smoothly. The key is to get your banker involved early in the process.

* Myth: The fees are too high.

Truth: Although there are fees associated with SBA loans, they're reasonable. In fact, they can often be financed with the loan, allowing you to use your cash to benefit your business.

The purpose of the loan is to help grow your business by improving cash flow or acquiring assets. Also, you are only paying SBA fees on the guaranteed part of the loan.

* Myth: I don't have enough collateral for a loan.

Truth: Generally banks rely on cash flow to determine repayment ability. Collateral is an important part of a loan, and your lender will work with you to properly structure the transaction.

* Myth: SBA loans require too much paperwork.

Truth: The amount of paperwork required is often equivalent to that of a traditional loan. It is the job of your SBA lender to complete and process the required documents. Much of the documentation ensures that you're eligible for a guaranty and that your business's products and services are available to anyone.

* Myth: The SBA serves as a direct lender.

Truth: The SBA doesn't become a lending source when the traditional lending institution falls through. Instead, the lending institution is approving your application and asks the SBA to guarantee a portion of the loan. Financing your business is a partnership between you, the bank and the SBA.

* Myth: I need a large down payment to secure the loan.

Truth: SBA loans can be secured with as little as 10 percent down depending on the type of loan and its use. A bank may require a down payment of 20 percent or more, depending on the use of the funds.

Consider your options. For example, say you decide to purchase a building. It costs $1 million, and you have the $200,000 your bank requires as a down payment. You can invest that cash into the purchase, or contribute $100,000 in cash and keep the remaining $100,000 in your business as working capital rather than using another source of financing.

* Myth: If I can't qualify for an SBA loan, there are no other options.

Truth: Federal, state and local governments offer many alternative financing options. Your loan officer should be educated on alternative programs that provide solutions for your business.

The bank and the SBA can partner with you to develop an excellent business plan and strategy for your business's future. Count on your officer to be creative and thorough in researching options to grow your business. Steve Bilko is an SBA loan officer at Fifth Third Bank. Reach him at (614) 341-2684 or at

Friday, 28 March 2003 10:28

Executive execution

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History is full of great ideas that went belly-up because of poor execution.

Often in business, the executive in charge will bless a proposed idea, but not go the next step to make sure that a thorough plan is in place for its execution. "Thorough" means not just that the steps for implementing the idea are outlined, but that the people involved in the execution have the skill set and knowledge to carry out their tasks.

A friend of mine was involved in implementing an idea -- starting a new department -- at his workplace. The department's success depended on finding and applying the right technology to do the job.

My friend joined the team with a great deal of enthusiasm. However, the manager in charge of the department made one crucial mistake: He placed a person with very little technical expertise in charge of the day-to-day operations and decision-making. This person was my friend's supervisor.

My friend and I had many conversations over the next several months in which he expressed his rising frustration with his supervisor. The company was preparing to make a very significant investment in the needed technology. And my friend had proposed a few programs that were much less expensive -- as well as much more effective -- than the ones the company was leaning toward.

He repeatedly discussed this with his supervisor, who either rejected his ideas or ignored them, primarily because he was not technically able to understand them. In the meantime, the company spent thousands of dollars on software that didn't do want it needed it to.

He eventually chose to leave the department, which has since been disbanded and had its duties absorbed by other departments. The executives in charge realized the supervisor had not been the wisest choice for the job and he was demoted.

The company has since adopted the software my friend originally proposed, and with much greater success, but not until after wasting a huge amount of money and time.

So the next time a wonderful idea lands on your desk, ask for a thorough implementation plan. Examine not just the costs, but the personnel chosen to carry it through. Then that great idea will remain just that -- a great idea for your company.

Thursday, 27 February 2003 08:52

Natural selection

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How do you select a bank?

Do you select the banker, regardless of the bank with whom he or she is affiliated?

How do you know if your banker is dedicated to your industry?

Here are some things to keep in mind when choosing a bank.

* Look for your bank to be a partner with your organization.

A strong banking relationship requires both sides to recognize the benefits of mutual success. The banker's interest in your company shouldn't end when the loan is repaid. And a strong banking institution often means better pricing and interest rates on certain products.

* Find a banker who wants to be part of the solution, not the problem.

A banker who's part of your organization's solution offers to provide alternative financing solutions. Be willing to listen to different ways to resolve old issues.

For example, the banker may help you decide if you should lease or buy, or consider a conventional loan or bond issue. Confirm that your bank has many product options and that your banker is aware of them so you're in a position to make a well-informed decision.

* Work to understand each other's business.

Once you know why your banker requires quarterly financial statements, providing them may seem a little less burdensome. And wouldn't it be great if your banker really understood your business? He or she needs to stay updated on developments and issues facing your organization and the industry.

* Don't be afraid of questions.

A good banker is always trying to learn more about your business and the issues affecting it. While you may resist these inquiries, the more your banker understands your business, the more solutions he or she can offer.

You should feel comfortable asking questions as well. Your banker might be able to help, but you'll never know without asking.

* Don't pick a know-it-all.

Be wary of someone who always has a quick answer in every situation. It's unlikely you'll find someone who's an expert in every circumstance.

Successful professionals surround themselves with other good professionals. Your banker should work well with the bank's team and not be reluctant to involve other banking specialists to serve your needs.

* Find a bank of action.

Can your banker complete deals for you and deliver the answers you need? Local clients deserve attention from people in the community who know them and their businesses.

* Select a networked individual.

Your banker is a professional and should be networked with other reputable professionals. If you need an accountant or attorney, your banker should be able to refer you to people with whom he or she has worked. If your industry has specific needs for a specialized consultant, your banker should be able to provide referrals.

* Find someone you like.

Working with someone you like can make your life more pleasant. A certain amount of trust is required, and it's much easier to work with someone when you get along.

* Demand accountability.

Accountability goes a long way in building a successful relationship. Your banker should demonstrate that your organization and business are important. If he or she is unresponsive or forgets to call you, seek a change. Matt Mazza is health care relationship manager at Fifth Third Bank. Reach him at (614) 233-4557 or

Thursday, 27 February 2003 08:44

Plan for success

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Planning meetings and events in lean economic times calls for a touch of ingenuity. Today, event planners must make the most of each event, accomplishing numerous goals for the biggest return.

Before you begin planning your event, take these steps.

  • Think of your event as an investment that will contribute to the future success of your organization.

  • Decide on your goals and invest dollars in areas that will bring measurable value to the organization.

  • Focus on creating memorable and meaningful experiences for the attendee.

  • Focus on the opportunities to foster creativity and innovation.

  • Choose an environment that accomplishes your objectives and brings an element of fun and creativity to your event.

Providing your participants with a multifaceted yet clearly defined event supports organizational goals and turns ideas and information into profitable results. Begin by filling all necessary event needs and objectives, then find new ways to add to that.

Search out creative community resources that provide more than just the right sized room or other typical event needs. Find unusual venues that can support your organization's needs in addition to adding valuable energy and inspiration.

Utilize a unique event venue to maximize the impact of your event. Flexible and dynamic venues may even allow you to combine two events into one.

Re-evaluate the way you plan your events and look for new ways to add value to them. The days of lean budgets demand this.

But with out-of-the-box thinking, the diverse event market can surpass your needs and energize your team. Source: COSI, (614) 629-3227

Friday, 31 January 2003 05:55

Electronic banking 2.0

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Jim is in a bind.

A payment to one of his largest suppliers is missing, and if it is not received by 5 p.m., the supplier will refuse further service to him. He doesn't want to wait to find out if the check makes it there by the deadline, so he logs on to his online banking program and issues a stop payment order on the check. Then he sends the amount he owes directly to his supplier's main operating account via a wire transfer.

In another example, Angela downloads, then e-mails, detailed records of her company's accounts for the last month to her boss while she is on vacation.

Thanks to technological developments over the past decade, online banking has moved from concept to reality, allowing customers to perform treasury management functions normally handled by a banking officer.

Additionally, most financial institutions know that to stay competitive, it's important to have secure online channels for their customers to do business. Online banking now forms the basis for the modern relationship between banks and customers, a relationship that relies on timeliness, convenience and ease of use in addition to the personal attention customers still expect from the branch office.

By far the biggest benefit of online banking is convenience. For the customer, this means the ability to perform banking functions anywhere, any time. Tasks previously handled by the banker can now be easily performed online by an educated user, so customers no longer need to wait to complete their transactions.

For the bank, a comprehensive online banking program eliminates the need for many employee commitments; the system is self-sufficient in handling customer inquiries.

The constant development of online banking programs helps improve efficiencies and drives down costs for the customer. The savings comes in the form of improved time management for business customers using online banking offerings.

For customers, comprehensive online banking programs largely eliminate the need for trips to the bank, except for cash transactions. For banks, online banking allows the redirection of critical resources such as staff away from routine transactions to address customers' more complex needs.

Online banking forms a new channel between the customer and the bank, allowing the customer to perform lightning-fast transactions and exchange information safely and accurately. Without a speedy, accurate response to customer demands, the other benefits to online banking may be overlooked.

The best way to find out if online banking is right for you is to develop a healthy working relationship with your bank representative. Through a better understanding of your daily operations, your banker can make recommendations of what online capabilities will work best for you.

Some of the main modules to consider are the ability to transfer funds to outside accounts, create and print balance reports and monitor account activity on a daily basis.

Online banking has provided new tools of business that benefit both the customer and the bank. As technology continues to develop and be implemented, more controls will be given over to the customer, providing greater access to their banking needs. Clay Lanctot is cash management officer of Corporate Treasury Management for Fifth Third Bank. Reach him at (614) 341-2515.

Friday, 31 January 2003 05:44

SBN's Power 100

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Another year like this last one, and the Power 100 may have to be trimmed. As it is, we have shaken up our list of the men and women shaping the city with their business and community efforts.

With the economy creating increased uncertainty --whether public or private sector, for profit or nonprofit -- our 2003 Power 100 list places added emphasis on business acumen and the ability to get things done. Business leaders are focusing more on their bottom lines, sometimes at the expense of civic and charitable activities.

Leaders in those areas will find it equally tough in 2003. As a result, a number of public and nonprofit representatives have fallen on our list, and some have fallen off entirely.

But it takes more than business savvy to make it on our list. We look for individuals who to donate their time and energy to the community, whether it's participating on an urban development task force or the board of a charitable foundation. The bottom line is, through both business and community activities, these are the people who have a big impact on the future direction of Columbus.

Last year's ranking is in parentheses.

1. Les Wexner, chairman and CEO, Limited Brands Inc. (1)
His Limited shares may have lost a third of their value since last summer, but what's a half-billion dollars among friends? Wexner's impact on Columbus --through Limited Brands and personally -- is immeasurable. Whether it's The Wexner Center, Easton Town Center or The American Red Cross, his stamp is there.

2. John F. Wolfe, chairman, publisher and CEO, The Dispatch Printing Co. (2)
In addition to owning the state's largest media conglomerate, Wolfe has his fingers in quite a few important pies through ownership of Ohio Partners LLP.

3. Bob Walter, chairman and CEO, Cardinal Health Inc. (4)
Walter has led this company's amazing transformation from a food wholesaler to become the largest provider of health care products and services in the world. He holds seats on the boards of Bank One, Battelle, Ohio University, Infinity Broadcasting Corp. and Viacom Inc.

4. Alex Shumate, managing partner, Columbus and Cincinnati offices, Squire, Sanders & Dempsey (3)
Shumate's counsel is sought by the best. He serves on the boards of Limited Brands, Nationwide Financial and Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co. He's also a trustee of the Capitol South Redevelopment Corp. and Wexner Center for the Arts and is a director of The Ohio State University Foundation Board.

5. Ron Pizzuti, chairman and CEO, The Pizzuti Cos. (6)
This commercial real estate development company founder clearly rounds out the top five players in the city, with his name appearing frequently in conjunction with Wexner, Wolfe, Walter and Shumate.

6. Jerry Jurgensen, CEO, Nationwide (7)
Jurgensen ably leads the $113 billion company while mixing with other power players on the boards of the chamber of commerce and Children's Hospital. He's a member of the Columbus Downtown Development Corp. and Ohio Business Roundtable and was appointed to the Governor's Commission on Teaching Success.

7. Thomas Hoaglin, president and CEO, Huntington Bancshares Inc. (14)
Hoaglin's star is rising as he makes good on his promise to tie Huntington more closely to the Columbus community. He sits on the boards of OhioHealth Corp., The Columbus Partnership, the Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce, Ohio Business Roundtable, Capitol South Corp. and COSI, among others.

8. Bob Taft, governor, state of Ohio (10)
With his drubbing of Democrat Tim Hagan reaffirming his political prowess, Taft is determined to position Ohio as a high-tech corridor through his Third Frontier Project. If successful, it could mean the creation and retention of thousands of jobs and assure Ohio's future economic success.

9. Sally Jackson, president and CEO, Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce (5)
Jackson's smart enough to keep Columbus business leaders like Michael Fiorile, Hoaglin and Jurgenson firmly entrenched on the board.

10. Jack Schuessler, chairman and CEO, Wendy's International (67)
Schuessler is broadening Wendy's horizons by adding popular concepts like Baja Fresh to its fold. And he is continuing the tradition of corporate giving started by the late Dave Thomas to causes such as the Wendy's Championship for Children golf tournament. Proceeds from the tournament go to children's cancer research and treatment.

11. Michael Coleman, mayor, city of Columbus (12)
The mayor's solid business reputation was strengthened last year by the unveiling of his plan for downtown development, now being headed by AEP's E. Linn Draper.

12. Jay Schottenstein, chairman, American Eagle Outfitters; chairman, Value City Department Stores (45)
It was a busy 2002 for the retail mogul, whose privately held Schottenstein Stores controls a considerable empire. Schottenstein Stores upped its stake in Columbus-based Value City Department Stores to 67.5 percent and was part of a group that bought 54 leases from bankrupt Kmart. At the end of the year, Schottenstein handed over the CEO reins at Pittsburgh-based American Eagle Outfitters -- but it took two people to fill his shoes.

13. Roger Blackwell, president, Blackwell Associates Inc. (24)
Blackwell's influence -- especially at The Ohio State University, where he is a professor of marketing -- is profound. Donating millions to the Fisher College of Business, he has mentored many emerging business leaders through its programs. Besides, anybody with a hotel named after him (OSU's The Blackwell) has to be high on the list.

14. Jack Kessler, chairman, The New Albany Co. (16)
New Albany is attracting big businesses like State Farm Insurance Co. and Too Inc., and Kessler's company is ready to take full advantage. In the meantime, he's rubbing elbows with fellow Columbus Region Airport Authority board members Don Casto, George Skestos and Dwight Smith.

15. George Jenkins, partner, Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease LLP (13)
Jenkins combines powerful past political connections with private investment savvy.

16. John Beavers, chairman, corporate department, Bricker & Eckler LLP (17)
Beavers' specialty practice, focusing exclusively on corporate boards and executives, keeps him in demand by the city's largest and most powerful companies. He also serves as a trustee of the Harry C. Moores Foundation and is a member of the Columbus Foundation Arts Advisory Committee.

17. Mark Barbash, director, Columbus Department of Trade & Development (11)
Barbash not only heads this important economic development department, he also serves on the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission's development committee.

18. Curt Loveland, partner, Porter, Wright, Morris & Arthur LLP (18)
With clients like Too Inc. and Max & Erma's, Loveland's work in capital financing has earned him seats on the boards of Applied Innovation Inc. and Rocky Shoes and Boots Inc.

19. Friedl Bohm, chairman, NBBJ (19)
Bohm has left his mark on the city with such designs as Nationwide Arena, the Vern Riffe Center and the Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute. His architectural firm is the third largest in the world.

20. Don M. Casto III, president, Don M. Casto Organization (25)
This developer of shopping centers, housing and mixed-use entertainment projects is working to help revitalize older shopping centers like Graceland, and serves on the Huntington Bancshares board, the Ohio Bicentennial Commission and the Columbus Airport Authority Board.

21. Rich Langdale, founder, NCT Ventures; executive director, OSU Center for Entrepreneurship (15)
NCT's current and past investment lists read like a who's who in high-tech circles, and Langdale's community involvements include the Columbus Museum of Art and the United Way.

22. Bea Wolper, partner, Chester, Wilcox & Saxbe LLP (8)
Wolper has garnered numerous awards and recognition from the business community, and her sphere of influence includes the National Board of Attorneys for Family-Held Enterprises, Wexner's Director's Circle Council and COSI.

23 & 24. Paul Tipps & Neil Clark, State Street Consultants (20 & 21)
Clark and Tipps' one-two punch as knowledgeable Democratic and Republican party consultants is hard to beat, and their combined connections make them important and effective lobbyists.

25. Roger Geiger, state director, National Federation of Independent Business, Ohio (9)
With more than 36,000 member businesses behind him, Geiger works diligently to improve state business legislation.

26. Curt Moody, president and CEO, Moody/Nolan Ltd. (27)
Moody has gained recognition and awards as a business and community leader, and is a board member of the chamber of commerce, the Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute.

27. Robert Werth, managing partner, Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease LLP (56)
You can't underestimate a man who manages the city's largest law firm and serves on the Ohio Business Roundtable and The Columbus Technology Leadership Council, among others.

28. Kurt Tunnell, administrative partner, Bricker & Eckler LLP (23)
After serving as legal counsel for Gov. Voinovich, Tunnell is sought after for his political connections, as well as his legal expertise.

29. Tim O'Dell, president and CEO, Fifth Third Bank, Central Ohio (29)
There's no separating money and power. O'Dell leads the third-largest bank in Columbus and is on the board of powerful organizations including the Columbus Council on World Affairs and The Ohio State University Hospitals. He's also on the Development Board of Trustees of Columbus State Community College and the Columbus Symphony Orchestra board.

30. Jeff Keeler, chairman and CEO, The Fishel Co. (28)
After winning an $8 million contract with Verizon Wireless, Keeler's utility construction firm is in position to take advantage of the telecom and high-tech industries' continuing efforts to build infrastructure.

31. Curt Steiner, co-founder, Steiner/Lesic Communications (26)
Steiner's public affairs management firm is grounded with deep political connections and sways public opinion on issues that affect Columbus and the state.

32. Tanny Crane, president and CEO, Crane Group Inc. (42)
Crane's influence is growing and gaining recognition. She led the United Way of Franklin County's search for a new president, serves on the Dean's Advisory Council at OSU's Fisher College of Business and sits on the boards of the Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce and the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland's Business Advisory Council.

33. Michael Fiorile, president and CEO, Dispatch Broadcast Group (NEW)
Not only does Fiorile rub elbows with the Wolfes, he's also chairman of the Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce, chairman of the board of trustees for the Columbus School for Girls and a board member of the Buckeye Ranch Holding Co.

34. Tami Longaberger, president and CEO, The Longaberger Co. (51)
Longaberger may be putting all her eggs in one basket, but what a basket it is. The company recently recalled more than 200 laid-off workers and signed on thousands of new sales reps. She also serves on the Ohio Business Roundtable and The Ohio State University board of trustees.

35. Maury Cox, president, The Ohio Partners LLC (49)
This former CompuServe CEO has gained power through his high-tech venture capital company, thanks to a growing emphasis on high tech in the state.

36. Melissa Ingwersen, president, Bank One NA Columbus (NEW)
Ingwersen heads the biggest bank in town, which alone is enough to earn her a spot on the list, but she is also broadening her range of influence by sitting on the boards of the Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce, Greater Columbus Arts Council, Franklin University, YWCA of Columbus, Grant/Riverside Foundation and I Know I Can.

37. Brad Beasecker, president, Helston Capital Group (37)
Beasecker is a leading contender when it comes to venture capital and a powerful man to know with his connections with Battelle Venture Partners and the Columbus Investment Interest Group.

38. Cheryl Krueger, president and CEO, Cheryl&Co (50)
Parlaying small retail stores into a multimillion dollar business, Krueger has gained recognition and awards for her business acumen and community spirit. She started the Cheryl&Co. Hometown Integrated Project to provide business experience to high school students, and provides cookies to students earning A's through her Cookies for A's Program.

39. Lewis Smoot, Sr., president, Smoot Corp. (41)
Smoot's name is on nearly every major construction project in the city. And when he's not running the company, you'll find him on the board of Huntington National Bank and the Columbus Foundation's Governing Committee.

40. Jack Ruscilli, CEO, Ruscilli Construction Co. Inc. (43)
Ruscilli's has landed big projects with major Columbus companies including Mt. Carmel and White Castle.

41. Walter Cates, founder and president, Main Street Business Association (22)
This powerful advocate for minority businesses will keep pace with the revitalization of downtown.

42. John P. McConnell, chairman and CEO, Worthington Industries Inc. (74)
McConnell is taking the steel processing company into new markets and making a name for himself among other business giants, serving as chairman of the Workforce Development Committee of the Columbus Chamber and as a member of the Downtown Business Plan Advisory Committee and the Ohio Business Roundtable.

43. E. Linn Draper, chairman, AEP (53)
Fighting legal battles over energy trading reporting and new financial concerns, Draper commands respect. He also serves on the Columbus Technology Leadership Council and the Ohio Business Roundtable.

44. Karen Holbrook, president, The Ohio State University (former president Brit Kirwan was No. 36)
Holbrook is already stepping into Kirwan's shoes, filling the vacancy he left on the board of directors of the Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce. She is also promising to help raise Ohio's ranking in the Progressive Policy Institute's New Economy Index.

45. Carl F. Kohrt, president, Battelle (NEW)
Kohrt didn't waste any time becoming an integral part of Columbus' high-powered business network. He and former OSU president Kirwan forged a formal collaboration between Battelle and Ohio State's medical school, and he's on the chamber's board of directors.

46. Dwight Smith, president and CEO, Sophisticated Systems Inc. (46)
This year, Smith's company rebounded from financial woes, and he gained new respect and admiration from fellow business execs. He's involved in the Governor's Small Business Advisory Council, the Greater Columbus Chamber board of directors, the board for Junior Achievement of Central Ohio, his own foundation fostering entrepreneurship and the High-Technology Start-Up Business Commission.

47. M. Valeriana Moeller, president and CEO, Columbus State Community College (NEW)
Moeller is everywhere power players should be. She serves on the board of trustees of Fifth Third Bank Central Ohio, the Columbus Medical Association Foundation, COSI, Columbus Urban Growth Corp., and United Way, and on the board of directors of the chamber. How does she have time to run a college with more than 20,000 students?

48. Blane Walter, chairman and CEO, inChord Communications Inc. (66)
At last count, Walter's family of public relations and marketing firms was the 32nd largest firm of its kind in the world. And his familial connection to Cardinal Health's Robert Walter (his father) doesn't hurt. Father and son are forging strategic partnerships combining the strengths of both companies.

49. Nancy Kramer, president, Resource Marketing (32)
Kramer left Ten Worldwide and will be buying back Resource Marketing over a period of years. Despite the break-up -- or perhaps because of it -- Kramer is well thought of in the business community. She's on the Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce's board of directors and the Downtown Business Plan Advisory Committee, and was the first woman sought after to take a leadership role in the newly formed U.S. Women's Chamber of Commerce Ohio Affiliate.

50. Andy Geiger, athletic director, The Ohio State University (60)
Athletics are thriving at OSU thanks to Geiger and his big business connections. OSU's trustees agree -- they granted him a two-year extension on his contract. Geiger will be with OSU at least until 2006.

51. James Conrad, administrator and CEO, Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation (39)
Taft's confidence in Conrad and his ability to help the business community is evident -- he recently confirmed Conrad will continue as bureau chief during a second Taft administration.

52. Frank Kass, CEO, Continental Real Estate Cos. (48)
A major player on the real estate and development scene, Continental has landed multimillion dollar contract in Columbus and throughout the country.

53. Michael Petrecca, managing partner, Columbus office, PricewaterhouseCoopers (58)
Petrecca quietly but effectively consults with many of Columbus' business elite.

54. Dick Emens, partner, Chester, Wilcox & Saxbe LLP (52)
Emens is the leading expert in family business. He has co-authored a book on the subject, is the founder of the Family Business Center of Central Ohio,and serves on the board of trustees of Franklin University.

55. Herb Glimcher, chairman, president and CEO, Glimcher Realty Trust (55)
A leader of megamall development, Glimcher's successes include hosting an event that raised more than $1 million for nonprofit organizations across the country.

56. Kyle Katz, president, The Katz Interests Inc. and New World Restaurants Inc. (47)
This business owner, restaurateur and developer is also president of the Pen West District and knows and feeds the well-connected in Columbus.

57. Al Dietzel, vice president of special projects, Limited Brands Inc. (31)
Although planning to retire this year, Dietzel is still a player in many organizations, including ProjectRead.

58. Bob Weiler Sr., chairman, The Robert Weiler Co. (54)
Weiler's real estate savvy is evident in the hot properties he's owned, from downtown to Polaris and beyond.

59. Sam Gresham Jr., president and CEO, Columbus Urban League (57)
Gresham not only knows but is liked and respected by just about everyone who matters in corporate Columbus. His is a voice that is sought out -- and listened to closely.

60. Jan Allen, owner, Jan Allen Consulting (30)
Allen remains a powerful person to know, thanks to her ties to the Democratic Party.

61. Rick Milenthal, CEO, Ten Worldwide (34)
They say it's lonely at the top. That surely holds true for Milenthal, since two members of last year's leadership team, Nancy Kramer and Martin Beck, have left the company. Now Milenthal is left to call the shots.

62. Terry Foegler, president, Campus Partners for Community Urban Redevelopment Inc. (38)
Foegler has been slowly and methodically reclaiming nearly all the salvageable property along High Street in the campus area for redevelopment. What goes up on that land will be largely his call.

63. Phil Urban, president and CEO, Grange Insurance (59)
Not only is Urban part of the mayor's downtown business plan task force, but his company's Grange Bank, which began operation in 1999, turned a profit a year a head of schedule.

64. John Christie, president and COO, Worthington Industries (44)
Christie's connections go beyond Worthington Industries through his tenure as vice president at Battelle and as a past president of the Columbus Chamber.

65. Zuheir Sofia, chairman, Sofia & Co. (61)
Sofia's heavy-duty OSU connections make him influential -- he's a trustee of The Ohio State University, chairman of the board of the Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute, chairman of the OSU Investments Committee and serves on the boards of University Hospitals and the Ohio State University Foundation.

66. Patrick Grabill, chairman and CEO, Homestead Communities (65)
In another major break-up of 2002, Grabill retired from newly merged Coldwell Banker King Thompson realty and joined forces with Continental Real Estate's Frank Cass, among others, to form Homestead Communities.

67. John B. Gerlach Jr., chairman, president and CEO, Lancaster Colony Corp. (NEW)
As if running a billion-dollar corporation weren't enough, Gerlach is also a member of the board of directors of Huntington Bancshares Inc., Children's Hospital, Franklin University, Recreation Unlimited Foundation and The Ohio State University Foundation, and was just appointed to the Columbus Foundation governing committee.

68. Doug Borror, chairman and CEO, Dominion Homes (NEW)
Borror, a recognized leader in the homebuilding industry, was appointed by Gov. Taft to the OSU board of trustees last year. He's squeezing this additional leadership role in with his roles as a board member of Huntington Bank, Columbia Gas of Ohio, Capitol South Redevelopment Corp. and Recreation Unlimited.

69. Dimon McPherson, retired chairman, Nationwide (62)
McFerson is clearly still among the top movers and shakers in town, serving as a trustee of The Ohio State University, on the board of COSI, on the governing board of United Way of America and as honorary chairman of local charity events.

70. Pat Dugan, partner, Squires, Sanders & Dempsey LLP (63)
This merger and acquisition guru is a past judge of Ernst & Young's Entrepreneur Of The Year program and chairs the program committee of the Columbus Venture Network.

71. John Rosenberger, executive director, Capital South Community Urban Redevelopment Corp. (64)
With the downtown at stake, and Mayor Coleman taking a renewed interest in revitalizing parts of it, Rosenberger's organization will become even more important this year.

72. J. Daniel Schmidt, president, JDS Cos. and Downtown South Association (NEW)
Schmidt's been called the go-to guy downtown, thanks to his dedication to increasing housing in the center city and his assistance to the city on redeveloping the Main Street corridor. Now, he's set his sights on renovating an area of the Italian Village.

73. Sandy Harbrecht, president, Paul Werth Associates Inc. (68)
Harbrecht's consultative expertise is used not only by clients of the public relations firm, but also by her community affiliations including the Dean's Advisory Council for OSU's Fisher College of Business, the board of directors for the Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce, the Council for Ethics in Economics and the Ingram-White Castle Foundation.

74. Linda Hondros, president, Hondros College (40)
Hondros' connections to the real estate community and other business leaders make her a powerful influence.

75. Robert Schottenstein, president, M/I Schottenstein Homes Inc. (69)
Despite analysts' prediction that the home-building market bubble is due to burst in 2003, Schottenstein is still a major player.

76. Leonard Schlesinger, executive vice president, Organization, Leadership and Human Resources, Limited Brands Inc. (NEW)
With Dietzel retiring, Schlesinger is the heir apparent as Wexner's right-hand man.

77. Alan Wasserstrom, president, N. Wasserstrom & Sons (NEW)
Wasserstrom and brother Rodney are the third generation to lead this fourth largest (by number of employees) family-owned company in Columbus.

78. Karen McVey, CEO, Women in New Growth Stages (35)
Through her company and personally, McVey serves as a mentor to women business owners.

79. Larry Hilsheimer, managing partner, Columbus office, Deloitte & Touche LLP (70)
With the more intense focus on accounting practices, Hilsheimer's expertise keeps him in demand. He also serves on the chamber board, Young President's Organization and other community groups.

80. Paula Inniss, president, Ohio Full Court Press (85)
Last year, Inniss was honored for her business and community leadership with her induction into the Junior Achievement Hall of Fame with fellow laureates Roger Blackwell and Curt Moody.

81. David P. Blom, president and CEO, OhioHealth (NEW)
After 19 years within the system, Blom leads the area's largest hospital system and is working to turn around the health service provider's operating losses.

82. Bill Habig, executive director, Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (73)
The focus on transportation in Central Ohio is sharpening, and Habig will be the man who makes things happen.

83. Artie Isaac, president, Young Isaac Inc. (75)
Isaac works behind the scenes and moves among the city's most influential businesspeople.

84. Robert Massie, director and CEO of Chemical Abstracts; chairman, Columbus Technology Council (NEW)
With technology the key to economic development, Massie is in the right place at the right time, rubbing elbows with local business powerhouses.

85. Tom Button, vice president, Park National Bank, Columbus (78)
Button heads up the Columbus commercial lending department, financing privately held companies.

86 and 87. Cameron James, CEO, and Ken Mills, president, Mills/James Productions Inc. (89 and 90)
Mills and James keep their company successful by diversifying service offerings to businesses and staying abreast of the latest video, teleconferencing and production technologies.

88. Mark Butterworth, chair, Columbus Venture Network (92)
Working with Wolfe and Cox, Butterworth has a front row seat when it comes to new tech companies in the state.

89. Daniel Slane, president, Slane Co. (NEW)
Slane is a leading real estate/mall developer and mingles with the city's most influential leaders as an OSU trustee.

90. Brian Ellis, president, Nationwide Realty Investors (77)
He's the point person on all Arena District development and a trustee of the Capital Crossroads Special Improvement District.

91. Cameron Mitchell, president, Cameron Mitchell Restaurants LLC (80)
Despite slow sales and a struggling economy, Mitchell's restaurants are leading the pack in Columbus, and he plans to expand in the coming year.

92. Sue Doody, president, Lindey's Grant Avenue Investments (87)
Doody and the Doody family's Bravo Development are among the restaurant industry's successes. In 2002, Brio was recognized by the industry as the hottest new restaurant concept in the country.

93. Robert C. White, founder and chairman, The Daimler Group (NEW)
White leads one of the largest commercial real estate development firms in the state, and his Westar development is attracting tenants including the Building Industry Association to Westerville.

94. George Skestos, founder, Homewood Corp. (81)
Skestos is a long-standing, well-respected player in the business community -- you'll find him on the OSU Board of Trustees, Huntington Bank's board and the Columbus Regional Airport Authority's board.

95. Gene T. Harris, superintendent, Columbus Public Schools (NEW)
Despite plenty of naysayers, Harris was instrumental in winning voter approval for a $392 million bond issue to rebuild or renovate 38 schools. Now she needs to show that better schools make better students.

96. Janet Jackson, executive director, United Way Central Ohio (NEW)
This former municipal court judge and city attorney is an expert politician, which will serve her well as she forms relationships with business leaders.

97. Bill Schottenstein, owner, Arshot Investment Corp. (79)
Another key player in the development arena, he works with John Wolfe and Don Casto among others.

98. Doug Kridler, president and CEO, Columbus Foundation (NEW)
Kridler heads the region's largest foundation, putting him in a position to improve the community. He'll be forming connections with governing committee members Abigail Wexner, Ann Pizzuti and Lewis Smoot.

99. Adam Troy, managing partner, Omni Management Group (NEW)
Troy's firm is the largest African-American owned commercial real estate development company in the Midwest. Troy and his firm have received a lot of publicity for their participation in developing the downtown and Easton area, particularly CityGate, and Troy has also served on the mayor's downtown business plan task force.

100. Patricia Gibson, president, PMG Video Communications Inc.; president, U.S. Women's Chamber of Commerce Ohio Affiliate (NEW)
As president of the newly formed U.S. Women's Chamber of Commerce, Gibson is working closely with strong women business leaders including Nancy Kramer and Janet Jackson.

Friday, 20 December 2002 09:31

Strengthening our resolve

Written by
While the war on terrorism continues, a new war in the Middle East threatens to erupt, and at home, the sluggish economy fails to show signs of recovery. It's no wonder many Americans are finding it hard to remain optimistic or even look forward to the promise of a new year.

However, the worst thing we could do for our families and the economy is to lose hope -- hope that the world will be at peace and its economy, as well as ours, will recover.

Staying positive in the face of so much bad news is not easy. But optimism breeds optimism, just as depression leads to more of the same. One way to stay positive is to remember history and all of the horrific experiences our ancestors survived, including the Depression, two world wars and the Vietnam War.

And while it is my deepest hope that none of us has to go through similar experiences, it is comforting to know that individually and collectively, we did go on. Just as after the Sept. 11 attacks, we cleared the destruction and continued to deal with our sadness and fears. And each day that goes by, we are gaining strength.

But perhaps the best way to gain a positive perspective is to remember that we are still a country and a people with a great many blessings. When you start to wonder how you'll get through the next year, look at your spouse's face and listen to your children's laughter or your friend's kind words, and remember how lucky you are.

So this year, instead of the usual resolutions, maybe these should top our lists.

1. I will be grateful for my home, and for food on the table.

2. I will hug my spouse every day.

3. I will play with my children as often as I can.

4. I will tell a joke or laugh every day.

These resolutions may be the hardest to keep, but they are also the most rewarding.

Friday, 20 December 2002 09:28

State of mind

Written by
Reputation -- even that of a state -- means everything, says Ohio Department of Development (ODOD) Director Bruce Johnson.

For years, Ohio's primary strength has been its manufacturing sector, but Johnson says that's not what the state needs to be known for now.

Fresh from a stint in the Ohio Senate, Johnson is working to apply Gov. Taft's directive to turn Ohio into a high-value, high-tech business state. But it's an uphill battle, he says, one that will take a great deal of money and marketing to win.

With its Rust Belt history, Ohio is not one of the first states high-tech companies consider, despite impressive research and development institutions like The Ohio State University, Battelle Memorial Institute and the Cleveland Clinic.

But that may be changing. Ohio is putting its money where its mouth is with the Third Frontier Project, a $1.6 billion, 10-year plan to expand Ohio's high-tech research capabilities and attract start-up companies to create high-paying jobs for Ohioans.

"It's wonderful if OSU discovers a new process that monitors the heart rate in patients diagnosed with heart disease," says Johnson. "But if it doesn't create jobs, then it's not economic development."

SBN sat down with Johnson about Ohio's future as a high-tech business state.

How competitive is Ohio when it comes to attracting companies?

Ohio is very competitive and consistently ranks in the top 10 when it comes to factors like new product development and investment. We compete very effectively for growth and development companies.

Our strength is manufacturing, more than many other states, and we have a large number of transportation companies. With our location, we also have a large number of distribution companies.

What types of companies are most attracted to Ohio and why?

The types of companies attracted to Ohio cannot be categorized. Our economy is tremendously diverse. We're not No. 1 in any one thing, we cross a broad number of categories.

Ohio hasn't reached its full density, so we have a lot of room for development. That's where we are and where we'll continue to be. We are known for our manufacturing, and right now, the products we manufacture the most are automotive parts and rubber and plastics.

We also have a strong heritage in agriculture, but the number of employees in farming is declining, mainly because productivity is up. Farming is a commodity business, and with any commodity, you have to be as efficient as possible. Farming is a huge industry, but its growth is not going to be exponential -- or even sustained in the future.

What types of companies is the state hoping to attract and why?

We like to say high-growth, high-wage and high-tech companies. We finished a study of how Ohio can best compete, and (found) it is where our research strengths intersect with our industrial strengths.

There are five primary industries which we feel we can compete the most effectively for: information technology; advanced materials; power and propulsion; biosciences; and instruments, controls and electronics.

It will require persistence in innovation. Building an innovation structure is as important today as building a communications infrastructure was to last century's economy. The bottom line is, if they can do it in China, they will, for much less.

What are your current and future plans to attract these companies?

The governor has outlined a new strategy, and a major component in it is the Third Frontier Project. The project got its name because first we were an agriculture state, then we were a commodity driven state and now the goal is to become a state of high value added, high-tech companies.

We're very focused on Ohio becoming an R&D center, so we're dedicating $1.6 billion spread out over 10 years toward that goal. Our plan for this funding is to upgrade our innovation structure by developing ways to maximize collaboration between Ohio institutions like OSU and Battelle with industrial partners to make products.

We are also funding Wright Centers of Innovation focused on the five product areas and assisting in the commercialization of research, turning it into products that our citizens can produce and earn a wage. It is a long-term project, and its metrics include changing the average wage in Ohio, increasing the number of start-ups, federal research and number of grants received by the state.

We want our huge manufacturing base to turn this research into products. These products could be in health care, like a new heart monitoring device that we would manufacture in Ohio. We want to keep the production of these products here, and not in New Jersey or Tokyo.

What are your goals and biggest challenges?

My goal in the long run is to change the state's reputation. Most companies could locate or invest somewhere else. The bottom line is that the decision is often driven by reputation -- the preparedness of the labor force, the access to venture capital and the business climate.

We have incredible assets in those areas, but the perception is that we are caught in the Rust Belt. We have to change that perception to show Ohio has a dynamic business climate and our work force is prepared. Once people come here to investigate, we are much better off because our assets are impressive.

Everyone has heard of Research Triangle Park in North Carolina because they have done a good job marketing it. The Third Frontier Project will help to change our reputation and create success stories that will create more success. We can target investments to build a tax base and standard of living, but it will need marketing.

The marketing part is under discussion. We are working with regional economic development directors on tax structure improvements and to tell our story in a targeted way to business decision-makers -- that we have a good quality of life and talent in the state where they can focus their investment.

Has the department's focus changed since you took over as director?

No, the study commenced right after I got here, and we are putting the architecture in place to make Ohio's economy more competitive in those high value added, high-tech industries. You have to be an innovation leader, that's where the economy is going, and that innovation needs to become part of your culture.

The more researchers you have becoming entrepreneurs, the less dependent you'll be on large multinational corporations.

How to reach: Ohio Department of Development, (614) 466-2480 or

Tuesday, 26 November 2002 08:33

Clear navigation

Written by
You may think your company's Web site is providing your customers with everything they need, but how can you know for sure?

Doug Frazier, a partner with Clary Communications in Columbus, says the first step is to review site statistics on a regular basis.

"Most Web hosting companies include a statistical analysis as part of the hosting package," says Frazier. "The software allows you to view visitor trends -- what they are looking at and what path they are following."

You can also see what pages are the most frequent exit pages, and whether customers are exiting before getting to your most important pages, such as online ordering or other e-commerce applications. If that's the case, it could indicate a navigation problem.

"You can also talk with your customers and get some informal feedback," Frazier says.

How often should you view your site's statistics? That depends on the type of site you have.

"On a basic brochure site that doesn't change frequently, you may only need to look at the statistics a few times a year," says Frazier.

But for database sites that change daily, it is critical to view statistics almost daily.

Are customers e-mailing you saying they have difficulty finding important information on your site? That's a surefire sign that your navigation system isn't working, says King Hill, president of DigiKnow, Inc. in Cleveland.

"Top-level navigation shouldn't change throughout the site," says Hill. "Visitors shouldn't have to learn a whole new way to move around in each section."

Hill also advises companies to be aware of who uses the site and what connection speeds are common for them, information that is available through Web hosting statistics.

"If most of your users are using a dial-up connection, you may want to substitute text for graphics in your navigation system," he says. How to reach: Clary Communications, (614) 481-7534 or, DigiKnow Inc., Columbus office, (614) 280-0577 or