When it comes to workplace safety, worries about employees falling or cutting themselves while using a piece of machinery should not be at the top of your list.
A greater risk to employees -- and others -- is simply driving company vehicles.
After all, the National Safety Council lists motor vehicle crashes as the leading cause of accidental deaths, a term its even changed to "fatal unintentional injuries" in an effort to stress that all accidents could be prevented.
"For the employer, you have employees out there so their safety is of concern [and] the general public's safety is of concern," says Joe Tulga, program manager for the Safety Council of Central Ohio.
Injury or death isn't your only risk when employees are on the road, either.
If you include lost wages and productivity, administrative, medical and employer costs, as well as motor vehicle damage, every fatality resulting from an auto accident costs $980,000 on average and each nonfatal, disabling injury costs $35,600, according to the National Safety Council, which cites 1998 figures. Even in less serious crashes, in which property damage and nondisabling injuries occur, costs average $6,400.
In addition, the image of your company is at risk when you have company vehicles on the road.
"In a way, [the vehicle] is a moving billboard out there, and if you have drivers racing around, it's not good PR for you," Tulga says.
Think your employees have a slim chance of being involved in a crash? Consider this: In Columbus during 1998, one in every 24.4 of 667,252 registered vehicles was involved in a crash, according to the Ohio Insurance Institute, which cites its sources as the Ohio Department of Public Safety and Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles.
ICI Dulux Paint Centers takes the risks seriously. It requires employees to take a defensive driving course through the National Safety Council -- and renew their certification through the course every two years.
"Our company philosophy is safety is our top priority for our customers and for our staff," says Mark Frost, regional operations manager. "Defensive driving is a tool that's used to help promote awareness. That's what safety is -- it's thinking about it and providing awareness."
The defensive driving course many businesses take through the Safety Council of Central Ohio is called DDC-4, the 4 standing for the four-hour duration of the course.
Frost says his region has opted to send employees to classes to become trainers. The result is more flexibility in times the company can offer the class as well as more cost effectiveness.
For example, he formerly spent $45 each time he sent one of his nearly 70 employees to the course. Now, Sean McCarthy and another employee in his region provide the training instead. Although it cost ICI $300 for each trainer's certification and another $650 for each teaching kit with materials, the course booklets for each student cost only $2.50.
This means ICI can now train all of its employees in house for less than two-thirds of the $3,150 it would have cost to send each of them to the driving course. The company also saves on the work time it would lose if employees drove to the course instead of taking it on site -- another service the Safety Council offers.
"From people who work in stores to [sales] reps to vice presidents, we cover everybody," McCarthy says. "Whether they drive every day or not in our company vehicles, they are required to take the training."
The course covers rules, regulations, responsibility, vehicle maintenance and driving conditions, Tulga says. For example, it explains the benefit of the three-second rule -- allowing three seconds to elapse before you drive by the same point the car in front of you passed, a method to establish safe following distance.
Attendees learn about antilock braking systems and how to avoid crashes. They also complete a worksheet to show the costs of being involved in a crash.
"You go through driving habits and how to improve on your driving habits and how to recognize hazards," McCarthy says. "It teaches you to be more aware of your surroundings."
Instructors touch on alcohol- and drug-related crashes and share statistics.
"We're not allowed to call them accidents -- they're crashes," McCarthy says. "A traffic crash is not an accident; it is a result of a driver or drivers not doing everything reasonable to avoid the collision."
A continuing journey
Frost could not specifically say what results he's seen from the defensive driving course because overall safety incidents are down in his territory after the implementation of many safety programs -- not just the driving course.
Among other ICI safety procedures:
- Employees receive forklift training and are certified in the vehicle's use.
- Gloves and steel-toed boots are required for certain duties.
- The company holds monthly safety meetings at each paint center; employees often watch safety-related videos and even take tests related to safety issues.
- Each paint center has an appointed safety contact person who coordinates those meetings and is in charge of doing a monthly store inspection to check everything from the condition of the floor to electrical outlets to fire extinguishers.
- Each center has a designated safety area, where items such as first aid kits and flashlights are stored.
Another facet: employees are not permitted to use a cellular phone while driving. In fact, they can't even use it if they're riding in a vehicle.
"We're zero tolerance when it comes to safety," Frost says. "When something is abused, like cell phones, termination is the penalty. There isn't room for tolerance when it comes to safety." How to reach: Joe Tulga, program manager, Safety Council of Central Ohio, 225-6092 or email@example.com; National Safety Council, Defensive Driving Program, www.nsc.org/psg/ddc.htm. Another source of traffic safety information for businesses is the Ohio Partnership for Traffic Safety, 466-3250, www.trafficsafety.org/states/oh/opts.cfm.
Joan Slattery Wall (firstname.lastname@example.org) is associate editor of SBN Columbus.
I wanted to comment on your Boy Scout editorial ["Make 'em earn it," SBN, August 2000] from the perspective of a Cub Scout den leader, a father and a company president.
I agree with your "make the Scouts earn it" fund-raising mentality, but I would suggest you worry more about what parents are teaching and less about the Scout masters.
Our Cub Scout pack recently held our annual awards dinner. All of the Scouts and their family members were invited. The cost was $1 per person for all the Joseppi's pizza they could eat. Uniformed scouts were stationed at the door to collect the money. We had approximately 230 people attend and collected $175. Yes, around 55 people stiffed the Cub Scouts out of a buck!
Of course, these same people won't participate in any fund-raisers. By the way, the dinner was held in a church.
Guess what? Our Scout master was right back at it the next week planning future events.
Cigarette, gun debates have same flaw
Good article ["Displaced aggression," SBN, June 2000]. I totally agree with you. The same logic also applies to the lawsuits against gun manufacturers.
If we held the criminal behind the gun liable for his or her actions, and not the inanimate object itself, we could restore some sanity to that debate.
Rick A. Smith
president and CEO
Applied Thermal Engineering Inc.
Try finishing the lyric: "Call Able for the proof ...."
Steve Weyl relishes the times when someone knows the rest -- "444-ROOF," the phone number for his business, Able Roofing Co.
Weyl, in fact, wrote the words and hashed out an idea for the music used in his radio ad jingle, which was produced by songwriters in Nashville. He also writes and announces the 60-second ad spots.
"That's the best part of my job, is the marketing," says Weyl, president and CEO of Able, a $16 million Northeast Columbus company. "I think it came naturally. My mother's an artist, and I think as a little kid, I started out appreciating art and negative and positive spaces and that type of thing."
About five years ago, he started making his own radio advertisements, which now air at least 2,500 times a year on 16 Central Ohio stations, particularly in the spring and fall.
Weyl keeps track of his marketing results by asking customers who call for appointments where they last saw or heard about Able Roofing.
"We probably do not have more than 20 percent of the people calling us who say 'radio,' but radio is a very subliminal thing. All advertising builds on each other," he says, noting he has as many as 56 codes describing the ways customers might have exposure to his marketing efforts. "You've got to look at marketing as a crusade, not a battle."
"We just have to be top of mind all the time," Weyl says. "We know that probably, of our audience, at least 40 to 50 percent are hearing us on the radio."
"The 444-ROOF number has probably been our strongest marketing move," Weyl says, noting the simplicity of the number makes it memorable.
In addition, Weyl says, having his own voice in the ads gives customers more confidence in the company.
"I think people like to know who they're dealing with," he says. "When the owner's on there talking, it can be very good."
Although many local companies -- Three-C Body Shops, Ricart Automotive, IDG Jewelers and Mack Mattress Outlet, to name a few -- apparently share this philosophy, Weyl admits radio announcing isn't for every business owner.
"If the owner has personality and some charisma and simply sounds appealing over the radio, it can be good. But I think it can hurt the owner, too," he says. "You've heard people who don't have the personality -- they're monotone. You just wouldn't have a lot of confidence, maybe, buying from them."
Weyl makes radio advertising sound easy. Here's how he does it:
Know your audience.
"It's simple," Weyl says. "Who buys my stuff? And how do I reach them?"
Matt Mnich, president and CEO of North American Broadcasting Co., where Weyl buys commercials on three stations, says business owners who advertise in radio must be able to answer those questions.
"The most important component is a good understanding of their target customer," says Mnich, whose radio stations are WMNI-AM 920, WEGE Eagle 103.9 and WBZX The Blitz 99.7. "As simple as that sounds, sometimes our sales representatives spend quite a bit of time developing an understanding of exactly who the target customer is for the client."
Technically, anyone who owns a home is Weyl's customer. But he dissects that: Middle income and up is his primary target, because they tend to be more comfortable with a bigger name company, he says.
He wants to get his message to the 34-65 age group -- that which statistics show is most likely to own a home. He needs to reach both males and females, since females many times tend to make the call for his product, but the male has a large voice in the decision.
From that knowledge, he can decide which radio stations to contact for air time.
"We need to figure out who's listening to what," he says, noting that radio stations will describe for you their typical listener and provide you with information from Arbitron, a company that conducts a survey of radio listening in the market, then tabulates that by age and gender and other demographics.
"WTVN is a little bit older crowd, strong on the home ownership," he says. "If we want to hit females, we hit Sunny 95 because Sunny's strong on females." For males, WTVN is good, he says, "but what's better than TVN is The Fan sports radio [1460 AM]."
Constant monitoring of Arbitron ratings is important, too, because they can change over time.
"Even five years ago, we were less interested in Q-FM [96 WLVQ]," Weyl says. "Now we advertise on Q-FM because the age group is that age group we are appealing to." In addition, "Q-FM turned out to be strong home ownership."
Think about your message.
Weyl puts himself in his customers' shoes.
"What would appeal to the customer? What would get their attention?" he asks. "I think marketing is just common sense."
He's tried being too creative at times -- most notably when he started his marketing efforts more than 10 years ago by producing a television commercial.
"What a flop this was," he says. "We made it look like an old movie. It was actually fairly sophisticated and it was very funny. It was like the Able man was able to save the day type of a thing."
However, the commercial was likely too sophisticated. It didn't yield much response.
"Too creative doesn't work. In-your-face does," he says. "When I say in your face, I think you have to be not loud like vocally loud, you have to be noticed. You have to stand out."
Mnich says the message also must be easy for the customer to understand -- which means leaving out industry lingo.
A catchy jingle helps, too, Weyl says.
"Jingles are very important because it's consistency and builds brand identity," he says. "If it's a good jingle, people tend to hum it. But you'd better have your name in that jingle, and if you get your telephone number in there, it's even better."
He buys one-minute radio spots and knows his jingle takes about 10 seconds at the beginning and at the end. That leaves him with 40 seconds to talk.
"I say, 'What's my idea? What do I want to get across?' Then I write a bunch of notes and thoughts, then I start writing a script, kind of assembling it," he says.
His first draft usually ends up around 70 seconds, so he begins whittling out words or rephrasing things to get the same message across in less time.
Then he tests it out.
"I always bug my wife to death over it," he jokes.
Make the investment -- and be patient
"There's too many people who say, 'I've got $10,000 to spend, and I'm going to spend it on a couple of radio stations, and if I don't get results in three weeks I know that radio's not for me,'" Weyl says.
Successful radio advertising, he says, depends on frequency -- the number of times you run the ad -- and reach -- the number of people you expect to hear it.
"If you can't get both, go to frequency," he says. "If you can't hit a lot of people a lot of times, then hit a little amount of people a lot of times. Don't try to hit a lot of people a little bit of the time. It doesn't work."
Mnich agrees, but notes the longevity of an ad campaign matters, too.
"It's far more effective to buy two weeks a month for four months than every week for half that period of time, generally speaking," Mnich says.
There are exceptions, however, such as political ads for an election, which might run with a lot of frequency in a short amount of time.
Weyl declined to say how much he pays for his radio ads, but generally the station from which he buys air time gives him the use of a studio with an engineer for free.
At North American Broadcasting, Mnich says, clients are not charged for ad production, unless his company's talent or creative work is used on other stations.
Cost for air time varies greatly, he says, depending on, among other things, the frequency of commercials and the time of day they air. For example, the largest audience -- and most expensive advertising -- occurs during the morning drive time, Mnich says. The time with the fewest listeners and lowest advertising cost would be overnight.
"You can buy a commercial in Columbus, depending on the time of day and the station, for $50 for one commercial, and you can buy a commercial on another station in the highest-valued part of the day and you could spend $700," Mnich says.
Since nervousness often is fear of the unknown, Weyl suggests asking the radio station manager or your sales representative if you can sit in on a couple of commercials being made. You'll see, for example, where to put your mouth in relation to the microphone or what the engineer does.
When he first started making radio ads, Weyl says, he was nervous -- and it came out in his voice.
He corrected that by determining his own comfort level -- "I can do much better standing than sitting," he says -- and by mentally taking on the role.
"My role today is radio announcer," he says. "Separate it from yourself."
Weyl cautions against simply reading a script, however. Overemphasize everything, he says.
"If you think you're overdoing it, you're probably not." Joan Slattery Wall (email@example.com) is associate editor of SBN Columbus.
Emmet Apolinario, president and COO of Caspian Software, has been named to the development board of the Heinzerling Foundation.
John J. Krimm Jr. has been promoted to partner at the law firm of Schottenstein, Zox & Dunn. Krimm spent almost 10 years with a Cleveland-based labor and employment firm before joining Schottenstein, Zox & Dunn in October last year. He will continue practicing in the labor and employment department in the firm's Columbus office.
Chip Chapman, president of ADC Information Technologies, has been elected chairman of the Heart of Ohio Tech Prep Consortium, an organization of high schools, colleges and businesses dedicated to preparing the technology work force of the 21st century. Tech Prep is a college prep program with hands-on technology applications that begins in high school and continues through a two- or four-year college program in the technology-related area of a student's choice.
Longanbach Giusti Kuck & Hornberger LLC has appointed two new partners. Alvin "Jamie" McKenna Jr. has provided expertise in real estate and construction to the firm and its clients since 1989. Jay R. Meglich joined the firm in 1988, providing his services to rental real estate projects, the oil and gas industry, the manufacturing industry, the insurance industry and nonprofit clients.
Edward M. Rainaldi, vice president and secretary of Hanlin-Rainaldi Construction Corp., will be honored next month with the 1999 Cornerstone Award from the Builders Exchange of Central Ohio. The award is given annually to an individual who has made significant contributions to the Central Ohio community and construction industry. Rainaldi served on the Builders Exchange board for eight years and was association president in 1990. He also is a past board member of the Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce.
Frank "Rocky" Morris Jr., a partner in the Columbus office of the law firm Porter Wright Morris & Arthur, has received the American Bar Association Business Law Section Chair's Award. The award was created to recognize an individual who has made significant contributions to the Business Law Section.
Bruce A. Lucia, president of the Kroger Co.'s Columbus marketing area, has been elected to a one-year term as a national vice president of the Muscular Dystrophy Association's voluntary health organization. Also, Samuel S. Stallworth, vice president and general manager of WSYX-TV Channel 6, was re-elected as an MDA vice president. MDA vice presidents provide counsel in their areas of expertise and assist the association through advocacy and staunch support of its lifesaving programs and activities.
Ultryx Corp. has named Dheeraj Kulshrestha as its new vice president of product development. Previously, Kulshrestha was vice president and business technology officer of first Union National Bank/TMS in West Sacramento, Calif.
The board of trustees of Edison Welding Institute has selected S. Theodore (Ted) Ford as president and CEO to succeed Karl Graff, who has retired. Ford was previously senior vice president for University Advancement at Northern Arizona University and executive director of the Northern Arizona University Foundation. Prior to moving to Arizona, Ford was director of development at EWI from 1993 to 1997. In addition to positions at EWI and Northern Arizona University, he has served as a principal in an environmental development consulting firm, director of institutional relations for the Institute for Advanced Manufacturing Sciences, executive assistant to the Governor of Ohio and in several senior policy and administrative positions in the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
Avalon Consulting Group, a marketing management firm in Columbus, has promoted Annice Graves to vice president and creative director.
NGDA Interactive Communications has named Ron Poliseno vice president, client services. Poliseno is responsible for overseeing management of all NGDA's current accounts. Previously, he was senior director of new business development for Pathlore Software Inc.
Gerbig, Snell/Weisheimer & Associates Inc. has named Jack Dupps vice president of human resources. Dupps is responsible for management of the agency's human resources department. Prior joining GSW, he was vice president of human resources for Evenflo Co.
Randy McKitrick has joined Sports Management Inc. as vice president of marketing. McKitrick's experience includes nine years in branding, promoting and developing products and services for two large U.S. manufacturers and brands, Macklanburg-Duncan and Schlage Lock Co.
Five years ago, Sam McBride was a different man.
He was a self-professed "falling-down drunk" whose company was in serious debt trouble. The IRS was after him for failing to pay employee withholding taxes. He was so depressed his doctor put him on Prozac, which he took in triple doses -- sometimes with booze.
"I had all these problems I didn't think I could ever fix or get rid of," explains the 57-year-old president of Corporate Cutting Dies Inc., clearly still haunted by the recollection of what almost came to pass. "I started drinking to ease the tension."
It was the worst decision he ever made.
Too much to handle
McBride says his troubles largely began in 1995 when he ran into cash flow problems after building a spacious, new facility for his then-thriving, nearly $900,000 business. He couldn't find a buyer for his old building so he was saddled with double mortgage payments.
"We were paying $6,400 a month on the new building and $1,800 a month on the old one," McBride says.
Then his company lost its largest customer -- a situation that cut between $250,000 and $400,000 a year off the top of Corporate Cutting Dies' balance sheet. Talk about a financial crunch. And the sense of helplessness that came with it was paralyzing for McBride.
"I used to sit in my office, stare at the walls, stare at the clock and when it was 5 o'clock, I'd open the office door, go out and go home," he says.
Although it was around that time that McBride hit rock bottom, others say the first signs of trouble surfaced long before then.
Tina Bevan, who was the company's corporate secretary for 10 years beginning in 1990, says she saw a marked change in McBride following the 1993 buyout of his business partner.
"He was withdrawn; he just wasn't into it anymore," she says. "He just was somewhere else and that's when he started doing his drinking."
It wasn't an intentional decision to seek solace in a bottle, McBride stresses.
"I went to a bar to have a couple drinks one day, then I went back the next," he says. "Before I knew it, I was a falling-down drunk."
Everybody in the company knew about McBride's drinking, Bevan says, "but they just left him alone. They probably felt intervening would be worthless."
Customers, however, were largely unaware of McBride's personal crisis since, during his drinking phase, he had very little contact with clients.
"And if he did," Bevan says, "it was by phone and prior to lunch."
As McBride's drinking progressed, his lunch hours grew longer.
"I would be gone all day, every day, from 11 or 11:30 [a.m.] until 4 or 5 o'clock," McBride says. "If I did get back to work, I was in no condition to do anything."
"It was his business, but it wasn't cool what he was doing," Bevan says. "He was very hard to deal with; he would ramble on and on and do things he normally wouldn't do."
Things like telling Bevan to stop paying the payroll taxes.
"We'd lost all this money and we had all this additional cost," McBride explains. "So I told Tina not to pay our withholding tax."
As the months passed, Corporate Cutting Dies began receiving letters from the Internal Revenue Service, but McBride chose to ignore them.
"I got all these notices and I didn't open them," he says. "My briefcase used to be filled with nothing but bills I hadn't paid for two or three months."
Bevan knew the unpaid bills spelled trouble, but like the rest of Corporate Cutting Dies' employees, she wanted to keep her nose out of McBride's troubles.
"I just figured it wasn't my problem," she says.
It quickly became her problem in early 1996 when McBride finally looked inside one of those IRS envelopes.
"I don't think I realized how much I owed them," he says. "I couldn't believe what I was seeing. We owed 20-some-thousand dollars at that point. I went out to Tina and started yelling at her. We got in a big fight and I ended up firing her."
After a few days, McBride saw the injustice in what he'd done.
"I realized all she was doing was what I'd told her to do," he says.
He called to apologize and asked her to come back to work. Surprisingly, she agreed.
"I knew it wasn't him," Bevan explains. "I knew it was the alcohol, and he was going to go get help."
A deepening hole
Indeed, McBride's drinking days were drawing to a close -- but not before they caused more damage to himself and others.
McBride went to his doctor to discuss his deepening depression.
"I didn't tell the doctor I was drinking, so he thought I had a chemical imbalance," McBride says. "He put me on Prozac and I started abusing that ... I used to take a three-month supply of Prozac in one month, with booze and everything."
"It's a deadly combination," Bevan adds. "He did some really stupid things and he's lucky to be alive."
On the business front, McBride's lack of leadership -- or even interest in the company, for that matter -- was taking a toll on Corporate Cutting Dies and its employees. Financial losses hit $22,000 by the end of 1995 and were mounting almost daily. Some key people, like Bevan and former company vice president Doug Ackerman, were quick to step in to keep the company running as well as possible during McBride's self-termed "drunken phase," yet resentment and frustration began to grow within the ranks.
"Some top, key people left here," Bevan says, noting she and Doug toughed it out because they didn't want to see the company fail.
"Doug basically kept everything together," says Reg Martin, a consultant who was also instrumental in saving McBride's floundering company. "Doug did a fabulous job maintaining [customer] relationships.
"I have to pay tribute to the people in this business," McBride says. "They kept it going when I was trashin' it. They didn't give up."
Neither did McBride's wife, Sylvia.
Apparently she realized something was amiss with her husband at work and went to Bevan for some answers.
"His wife started calling me at home," Bevan says. "She was playing 20 Questions. So I told her the truth. She said, 'Thank you,' and hung up. After his wife knew what was going on, the crap hit the fan."
Sylvia McBride took her husband to his first Alcoholics Anonymous meeting in January 1996 "because I was drunk in church," he says flatly. "I don't remember much about the meeting except I got this big book. For the next 13 days I didn't drink. Then I went to a bar for a beer and I ended up being in there from 11 a.m. until 9:30 p.m. -- and I was with one of my customers. That's when I realized I could not quit. I was an alcoholic."
On Jan. 26, 1996, McBride took himself to another AA meeting. He hasn't touched alcohol since. Still, his troubles were far from over.A second chance
McBride just couldn't get his mind back into the business at Corporate Cutting Dies. It was obvious to his staff and it created some animosity
"Doug couldn't stand me when I started to sober up," McBride says. "He'd had to run the business. I think he resented me [trying to step back in.]"
In the spring of 1996, McBride started a second business: SOL Enterprises -- initials that stand for "Servants of the Lord," he says -- which got him excited about being an entrepreneur again. The company used a specialized software application to produce personalized children's books. McBride sunk $14,000 into the start-up and leased equipment for $4,000 a month.
In addition, he and one of his employees decided to produce a TV commercial to help jump-start the business and wound up investing $11,000 in that project. It was a fateful mistake.
"We only sold about 10 books," McBride says. "By September of 1996, we were so far in debt we had to shut that business down. Then I had lawsuits."
As if dealing with the failure of one business wasn't enough, McBride soon learned the financial situation at Corporate Cutting Dies had reached a critical state, as well.
"The banker was ready to foreclose on us," McBride says.
The company's 1996 losses were pushing $86,000. In addition, the IRS was growing impatient with McBride's unpaid tax bills.
"I thought I drank because I couldn't handle the pressure I had," McBride says, "but when all this happened, I'd stopped drinking."
Instead, he found solace in talking to his priest, Father Rod DiPietro at St. Elizabeth Church, and attending AA meetings during his lunch hour.
"All I really have to do is go today without drinking," McBride says. "I don't complicate it like I used to."
After all, his life was complicated enough.
Finding a way out
Although McBride was getting help with his personal struggles, he didn't know where to turn for help with his business problems. Fortunately, his accountant did. He asked fellow Rotarian and highly regarded turnaround artist Reg Martin to pay McBride a visit.
Almost from the moment Martin passed through the doorway at Corporate Cutting Dies three years ago, he knew he could save McBride's company.
"It was no question," says Martin, who has orchestrated financial comebacks for many once-troubled companies, including Blocks Bagels Inc. and Cardinal Industries -- the predecessor to Cardinal Realty Services, which became Lexford Residential Trust before being acquired by Equity Residential Properties in Chicago. "It was not a situation where we had to turn the entire business around. They had a niche in the market; they had a couple nice-size customers. [The company] just needed a little fine tuning."
His top priority: taking care of McBride's lingering problems with the IRS.
When the IRS sent an agent to Corporate Cutting Dies, "she sat in my office with my accountant for three hours and didn't talk a whole lot," McBride recalls. "Then she really told the truth: That I didn't know what I was doing."
Although the agent explained the IRS could shut down McBride's company and force a sale to pay back the overdue taxes, she agreed to give McBride a little more time to come up with the$31,000 he now owed.
"They did get into our corporate bank account and chose to relieve us of $10,000 without telling us -- and it was the day before payday," McBride says. "Reg called the IRS and got them to put the $10,000 back if I signed a paper saying that if I didn't pay them back in 30 days, they were coming after me personally. I signed it."
That was the day the 'For Sale' sign went up on McBride's beautiful, new building. Corporate Cutting Dies had to find more affordable digs.
"The IRS got all their money at the closing of the sale on the SouthPark building," McBride says.
The bank was another matter. McBride traded in his car, put his house on the line and pulled out all his retirement money to help pay down the lingering $700,000 bank debt and stabilize his company's cash flow.
"My wife and I had saved up enough to live very comfortably. But here I was, 54 years old and with no retirement," McBride says.
"I even had $100 a week coming out of my own paycheck to pay off the debt," McBride says.
That little move was the brainchild of Norm Rothermel, a former debt recovery manager for Borden whom Martin brought in to help cut costs internally at Corporate Cutting Dies.
"Norm had my wages garnisheed. He was the burr in my saddle sometimes, but I needed a business consultant that wouldn't take any crap from me."
Rothermel also negotiated a couple deals to get McBride out of sticky situations with a leased van and some leased computer equipment, saving the company "at least $15,000," McBride says. He also assisted the company in getting a new loan package.
By the end of 1997, the company's debt had been cut considerably and Corporate Cutting Dies was showing a profit again.
"They were not that far away from break-even," Martin says. "Sam is no different than a dozen other people. He's gone through what a lot of small businesses do. He's had some personal difficulties but he's brought it back. He's been resilient."
Not in the clear yet
McBride's company recorded another profitable year in 1998, but backslid in 1999 when a particularly poor December -- coupled with hastily paid holiday bonuses, he says -- more than wiped out all the gains of the preceding 11 months. Corporate Cutting Dies ended the year about $22,000 in the hole.
This year, McBride has focused on cutting costs again and expects the company to show an 8 to 10 percent profit on sales of $756,000.
One cost-cutting measure came as a somewhat unpleasant surprise to McBride. Ackerman, whom McBride had intended to promote to president of the company this year, tendered his resignation in July. Still, McBride has found a way to put a positive spin even on that bit of bad news.
"Doug's working for one of my customers now ... so he's buying dies from me," McBride says. "We also have a lower overhead now because that cut payroll, too."
On the personal side, McBride still goes to AA meetings during his lunch hour and has joined another group called Business Owners Debtors Anonymous.
"They use the same 12-step program as AA, but the goal is not to take on any more unsecured debt," he says.
Corporate Cutting Dies still owes its bank close to $140,000 on six notes, which he'd like to consolidate into one to reduce the monthly payments. His goal is to be debt-free in two years.
"I don't put the blame of what happened to me on anybody," McBride says, as an overstuffed bookcase revealing titles such as "Live to Win," "Self Esteem" and "Searching for God in America" looms behind him. "It was just a build-up of things. Everything was just circumstances."
Bevan, who left the company in August for personal reasons, says McBride seems to have emerged from his crisis with only a few lingering scars.
"He still isn't as involved as he was when I first started here," she says. "He's still isolated. He needs to get back in the groove -- especially now that Doug's [gone]. But other than that, he's the same ol' Sam."
"Sam is very knowledgeable, but his focus sometimes tends to wander," agrees Martin. Nevertheless, Corporate Cutting Dies should continue to fare well.
"They need to go out and expand their sales," Martin says. "They should be running two shifts. But the firm will continue to stabilize. It'll continue to grow. I can't say anything negative about it."
"I think I've actually gone through more stuff in the last five years than I did in the first 13 in business," McBride says. "I was so close to losing my business and losing my family. I couldn't pay the debt ...
"I try not to let my ego, my pride get the best of me today. I think I learned a lesson in humility."
"I know he's learned," Bevan says. "He almost lost it all." Nancy Byron (firstname.lastname@example.org) is editor of SBN Columbus.
Although Jamie Parman may sometimes find it difficult to explain to people exactly what she does for a living, she apparently does it quite well.
Parman, who opened her business -- Parman Associates Inc. -- in 1992 with just eight employees, is now president of an organization with 50-plus employees operating in five offices throughout Ohio.
"I'm very proud of the fact that from 1992 to 1995, at a time when many of my competitors were downsizing, we were doubling in size," says Parman, whose company now generates annual revenue in the $3 million range.
As a Bureau of Workers' Compensation-certified provider, Parman Associates provides case management services to help get injured workers back to work.
"We have nurses and certified, credentialed vocational rehabilitation counselors who go out to injured workers' homes and interview them, identify what the problems are and then create a return-to-work plan to help them recover and get back to work safely and on time," Parman explains. "Our nurses and case managers counsel injured people to help them overcome whatever barriers they are experiencing."
Parman attributes her company's phenomenal 200 percent growth in the past eight years to a lot of hard work by a group of dedicated, capable people committed to the same goals and vision.
"One of our core values is continuous improvement, and we spend a lot of time watching what's going on in rehabilitation," Parman explains. "As changes began to take place in health care and employers began to experience increased health care costs, they began to look for ways to save money. We not only went out to injured workers' homes and helped them get better and back to work but we also identified other problems and developed specific programs."
One such program is JobWORKS, which places injured workers with new employers.
"We follow return-to-work steps, so our first goal is to medically and vocationally manage cases to help people return to work with their original employer, hopefully in the original job. If, physically, that is not going to be possible," Parman explains, "then we try to identify alternative placement with that employer. And if we've exhausted all possibilities, then our vocational experts analyze the workers' skills and capabilities, and we counsel and advise them as to what they can do in this economy. That career counseling is a component of JobWORKS."
Additionally, JobWORKS provides help with job-seeking skills, such as resume preparation, interviewing and training.
"Many employers historically have overlooked this excellent source of skilled workers, but many of these workers with disabilities become excellent employees for new employers," Parman says. "With the right fit at the right time and the right place, we're able to help the old employer recoup some costs, and we're able to help the new employer find an employee in an environment where it's hard to find skilled workers."
A second program developed by Parman Associates is an early intervention program called Manage*ability. Big Kmart is a client that uses this program for its Ohio workers.
"So from the point of injury, we're evaluating and our nurses are helping their claims people figure out how to get people better and back to work with good care," Parman says.
As the company has grown, it has faced some internal operational challenges, Parman acknowledges. To address those, last summer, she and her senior management team participated in a 13-week leadership and management course.
"We were able to create some paradigms on how to problem solve, how to make decisions and how to convey that to the people we manage so that we can communicate more effectively, more quickly and more clearly, so that, in the end, we can deliver a quality service to our clients," she says.
As a result, the company is now more goal-focused and more outcome-oriented, she says.
"We can communicate more clearly with our staff, and we understand better what motivates them."
When issues become really challenging, Parman says she draws upon a couple familiar sayings: "Failure is the line of least persistence" and "Success is in attention to detail."
"Those two sayings really keep me going," she says, "and my staff hears them over and over again."
How to reach: Parman Associates Inc., 575-9400 or www.parman.com
@bios:Jo Ann Judy (JJudy@aol.com) is a free-lance writer for SBN.
Network for success
There are numerous networking opportunities in Central Ohio for women interested in starting or growing a business.
The Women's Business Resource Program, part of the Ohio Small Business Development Center, serves as an information clearinghouse for women in business. It supplies business resource kits, provides referrals to the Ohio Small Business Development Center statewide network, maintains a calendar of workshops and events of interest to women in business and provides a list of organizations for women business owners.
To contact the Women's Business Resource Program, call 466-4945 or visit the Ohio Small Business Development Center's Web site at www.ohiosbdc.org.
Other organizations in Central Ohio for women business owners include:
Women's Business Board
For women business owners owning or operating a business for three or more years.
Contact: Bea Wolper, 221-4000
Women's Presidents Organization
For female entrepreneurs who have generated at least $2 million in annual sales, $1 million if the company is service-driven.
Contact: Melody Borchers, (740) 569-3200
Women's Business Council
For women business owners and professionals.
Contact: Sarah Thompson, 224-9121
Ohio Women's Business Development Council Inc.
For women business enterprises.
Contact: Linda Stewart, 621-0881
Ohio Women's Business Resource Network
For women business owners.
Contact: Mary Ann McClure, 466-2682
National Association for Women Business Owners, Columbus Chapter
Contact: Kelly Borth, 885-7921
Women in New Growth Stages
For women from entry level to business owner.
Contact: Karen McVey, 888-4674
Source: Linda Saikas, Economic Development Specialist, Women's Business Resource Program
Last year, Les Ridout of Huntington Bancshares hardly saw AIDS on his radar of employee concerns.
"Ten, 12, 15 years ago, when you had a group of employees in a banking office or in any office ... if they were aware that somebody had AIDS, it was fear of the unknown. So we'd have our employee assistance program people go in and say, 'Look, this is no more communicable -- unless you go in and have an intimate relationship with this person -- than, say, cancer,'" says Ridout, executive vice president and human resources director for Huntington.
"Over the years, people became more aware of that. Now, when office mates become aware of a co-worker with AIDS, certainly there's sympathy and empathy as opposed to fear and misunderstanding. We've really come along."
That's why he was taken aback when the Columbus AIDS Task Force approached him last summer to talk about AIDS awareness training in the workplace. He just didn't think it was necessary.
Ridout's reaction, the task force members told him, was just the point. The awareness level has dropped below the horizon, they said; people still are not taking precautions, and baby boomers who are getting divorced and back in the dating scene are encountering the AIDS situation for the first time.
In response, Ridout arranged for the task force to discuss the issue at a meeting of more than a dozen Huntington regional HR managers from across the country. Later, Huntington hosted an educational luncheon for other HR executives from employers such as Wendy's International, Nationwide Insurance, Ameritech Ohio, Sanese Services Inc. and The Ohio State University.
It's a program the task force wants to put into full swing to reach smaller businesses late this fall or early winter.
"I think the reason it has dropped off as a health crisis in people's minds is they're seeing in the media there are new medications; people aren't dying as they were five years ago," says Lori Yosick, interim executive director of the task force.
In the five years she's been working with the task force, she's seen the demographics of its clients changing: Gay, Caucasian men made up 80 percent five years ago; now less than 55 percent come from that demographic. Men of other races and women also are entering the picture. The age group is spreading out as well.
"We have more intakes coming through our doors right now than we did two years ago -- about one new client a day," Yosick says. "The scary thing is we know how HIV spreads, we know how people can be protected, yet people are still getting infected."
The task force can provide employers with an AIDS in the workplace training packet, including details about an HIV/AIDS policy and speakers for employee meetings.
"You never would have thought 10 years ago you would have somebody coming into a workplace talking about HIV," Yosick says, "but it's a real issue." How to reach: Columbus AIDS Task Force, www.netwalk.com/~catf or 299-2437. For more information about AIDS in the workplace, contact the American Red Cross Greater Columbus Chapter, www.redcross.org/cmh-oh/schedule.htm or 253-2740, ext. 2349; the national American Red Cross, www.redcross.org/hss/HIVAIDS/workplace/index.html; the National AIDS Fund Workplace Resource Center, www.aidsfund.org/workplac.htm or (888) 234-AIDS; or the Society for Human Resource Management, www.shrm.org/diversity/aidsguide or (703) 548-3440.
Joan Slattery Wall (email@example.com) is associate editor of SBN Columbus.
Cimetric Commerce Inc. promises its clients the world.
The Columbus-based company -- formerly known as Ncom Group -- will, for no up-front fees, design and maintain a Web site, provide online marketing, answer customer questions, process sales, fulfill orders, ship products and even handle returns for client companies. The only hard cost for the client is to make inventory available. Cimetric makes its money by getting a cut of every sale generated on the Web site.
For The Solid Light Co., a Worthington-based retailer, it was the ideal arrangement.
Now the family-owned company has its complete line of contemporary Christian apparel on the World Wide Web at www.ChristianShirts.com under Cimetric's management. The start-up price was the wholesale cost of $12,000 in consigned inventory.
"Our company expertise is in wholesale," says Solid Light president Brian Peterson, "not direct to consumer."
Solid Light will not compete directly with its wholesale clients, he adds, but none of its wholesale clients would carry the entire product line offered by Solid Light, a business started in the '60s selling T-shirts. Www.ChristianShirts.com allows Solid Light to bring all its products before the consumer.
Kingdom Imports of Newark couldn't afford a retail location, instead selling its products -- made by indigenous people in several countries -- on tables set up at conferences and festivals. Since Kingdom Imports is a nonprofit enterprise, the cost of developing a Web site was out of range.
"We give 100 percent of the profits back [to those who make the products] so they can continue the work of their church," says director Phillip Dunfee, pastor of Christ the King Newark Vineyard.
Since there were no up-front costs in working with Cimetric, the project was a go. The business now has its own Web site at www.KingdomImports.com for an investment of $5,000 in product, which Cimetric even warehouses.
The traditional cost just to develop an e-commerce site can run well into six figures, according to Doug Sapp, co-founder and chief executive of Cemetric. He and partner Mark Prevost created e-commerce software that allows them to divide the cost of the technology among an unlimited number of companies that sign up for their service. Those partners also share Cimetric's customer service and fulfillment staffs.
"Our technology is designed on what we call a shared infrastructure," says Prevost, president and chief operating officer. "The reason why our model is profitable is because we have a lot of stores combined that, all and all, add up to a profitable mix, as opposed to looking for four or five fixed, giant stores."
Prevost expects Cemetric to realize actual profits "in either the third or fourth quarter of 2001."
Cimetric typically receives between 15 and 34 percent of each sale, Prevost says, depending on the average price of the product and the total annual sales volume. One client is charged only 9 percent, he explains, because the average product sells for $1,000. The final figure is calculated at the end of each year.
In addition to building and operating a Web store for each client, Cimetric's services include:
- Customer service, both online and with a toll free number specifically assigned to each business.
- Secure transaction processing and 24-hour on-site order fulfillment.
- Data mining and reporting.
- Real-time inventory accounting and reporting.
Solid Light has been pleased enough with its ChristianShirts Web site that it's having Cimetric build a second site -- www.SolidLightCo.com -- which will show consumers a product catalog and list all Web sites and bricks-and-mortar stores that sell its apparel. For wholesalers, Peterson says, it will have inventory management and business-to-business commerce capabilities.
Neither the ChristianShirts nor KingdomImports sites has shown noticeable sales in the months each has been in operation, partly because of limited marketing on their parts, Dunfee and Peterson agree. Cimetric does online marketing, but asks its companies to tie the Web site address into its traditional advertising efforts, Sapp says.
This month, Peterson will start traditional magazine advertising to bring people to the site.
"You need the old media as much as you need the new media," he says. "If you do a search on Yahoo! for 'Christian shirts,' you'll get thousands of hits. How do you stand out in that? It's a real basic question. How do you do it on a small budget?"
Peterson has decided the money that comes in from www.ChristianShirts.com will be placed in a fund that becomes the budget for marketing the site.
As for Kingdom Imports, to keep Cimetric's commission lower, Dunfee didn't take the offer of online marketing when he signed up. He thought word of mouth in the Christian community would be enough. When his one-year contract is up, however, he says he'll add that and give Cimetric a higher percentage of each sale.
"Having a Web site is a wonderful thing," Dunfee says, "but if you don't have the traffic, a Web site is wonderful thing that nobody knows about."
Cimetric, itself, is now working throughout the world via its own Web site, with customers from Chicago to Australia.
As Cimetric grows, its target market evolves.
"I'm not looking for mom and pop shops that are bottling jams out of the garage," Prevost says. "We signed Kingdom up in the very beginning because there is an advantage to building some client accounts. We would not accept another Kingdom Imports today, but we would not dismiss Kingdom Imports today."
Cimetric wants to do business with companies that have annual wholesale sales starting at $10 million, Sapp says.
"With inventory in hand, we can go live in as short as two weeks." How to reach: Cimetric Commerce Inc., 861-6266 or www.cimetric.com
Andria Segedy (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a free-lance writer for SBN.
Jim Hackbarth has been named president and CEO of Virtualintern. Based in Columbus, Virtualintern is an online internship community focused on providing college students with internship opportunities and helping companies expand their recruiting channels to address the needs of college recruitment. Co-founders Jason Kuder and Nathan Kuder have been named vice president of international operations and vice president of product management, respectively. Also, Phillip Solomon has been named vice president of marketing, and Don Campbell has been named vice president of finance and administration.
John Havens, retired chairman of Banc One Corp., and Robert Massie, director and CEO of Chemical Abstracts Service, have been named by Gov. Bob Taft to the newly created Biomedical Research and Technology Transfer Commission. The commission will make strategic assessments of the types of state investments in biomedical research and biotechnology in Ohio that would be likely to create jobs and business opportunities and produce the most beneficial long-term improvements to the public health of Ohioans. One area of focus will be tobacco-related illnesses. The commission was created through Senate Bill 192, which established funds to receive annual payments from the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement.
The Columbus Coal and Lime Co., a provider of pavers, bricks and other building supplies, has named Gary Buty as its president. Buty takes over the helm from Larry Borror, who is retiring after 34 years with the company.
Lois Griggs, president of Courtesy Ambulance Inc., has been reappointed to the Ohio Ambulance Licensing Board for a term ending July 5, 2002. Griggs is representing owners/operators of private emergency medical services on the board.
Several local executives have been named officers and members of the ProMusica Chamber Orchestra board of trustees. New officers of the board are president Peggy L. Schwartz, free-lance project consultant; vice president Geoff Chatas, vice president of corporate finance at AEP; treasurer Milton Baughman, senior vice president of finance at The Huntington National Bank; and secretary Richard G. Smith III, executive vice president of Executive Jet Inc.
New members of the ProMusica board of trustees are Ron Barnes, COTA president and CEO; Rebecca Breuning, Scotts Co. vice president, corporate treasurer; Andi Wobst-Jeney, founder and president of H.D. Living Enterprises Inc.; and Saundra Dombey Cooke, investment adviser for Banc One Investment Advisors.
Tom Schultz has been promoted to president of Permedion, a health care quality measurement and improvement company in Westerville. Also at Permedion, J. Robinson McCormick, chairman of the Frank Gates Service Co., has been re-elected treasurer of the board of trustees.
Thomas E. Wilson has been appointed CFO of Croson-Teepe Mechanical Contractors. Prior to joining the company, Wilson was CFO of a regional cable operator.
Gerbig, Snell/Weisheimer & Associates Inc. has named Joseph Soto senior vice president. He will be responsible for leading several global and U.S. pharmaceutical account teams.
Interactive Ink Inc., a Columbus-based new media design and programming firm, has named Mark Whitman vice president of sales and marketing. He will oversee and direct all sales and marketing activities.
Jennifer Feucht has joined Creative Medical Marketing in the position of vice president. The full service agency markets medical and dental practices, products and services in Columbus, Dayton and Cincinnati.
Elford Inc. has promoted Jay Matson to vice president of field operations. His responsibilities will include participating in the preconstruction process and acting as project executive.
Ultryx Corp. has appointed Russell S. Frazee vice president of professional services. He will be responsible for managing all professional services associated the Ultryx's software products, lead the company's project management and project engineering teams and oversee related customer-facing processes. Also at Ultryx, Mary L. Murtha has been promoted to vice president of marketing.
Mencken Communications Group Ltd. has named Amber Blackwell as vice president of editorial services.
For many small businesses, the holidays are the busiest time of the year.
Up to 25 percent of annual revenue for small businesses can come during the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year's. Some have contracts, but need cash to increase inventory for the holiday season. Others need cash to buy raw materials to fill holiday orders.
Marvin Swain Jr., president of My Mama's Sweet Potato Pie Co., has felt the year-end financial pinch before. In fall 1999, with a contract with a national grocery chain, My Mama's Sweet Potato Pie had an order for 20,000 pies with delivery during the holiday season.
While Swain -- who founded the company in 1986 with $50 and his mother's all-natural recipe for sweet potato pie -- had his first big-league order, he did not have the working capital to fill it. He needed a source of financing to help with cash flow.
His solution? Columbus Countywide Development Corp.'s MicroLoan program, which financed a small business working capital loan.
The MicroLoan program offers financing for "pre-bankable" businesses -- those too small or too new to secure a traditional bank loan. These loans can be used for equipment and working capital like inventory, receivables and operating capital.
All borrowers must write and submit a business plan to be considered for a MicroLoan. The staff at Columbus Countywide helped Swain update his business plan, which was originally written in 1998 with Columbus Countywide's assistance when he secured his first MicroLoan.
D Searcy, owner of Terra Cotta, a pottery and garden-themed accessories store in Clintonville, ran into her financial crunch after the holiday season a few years ago. She found help not once, but twice, through Columbus Countywide.
In early 1997, Searcy moved her store to a bigger space. With the new location came advantages, such as larger windows for displays and on-site storage of inventory. However, it also brought challenges, since improvements were needed for the space, which had previously been a carpet store.
That's when Searcy, a previous MicroLoan borrower, went back to Columbus Countywide and worked with its staff to acquire a loan guaranty from the SBA. She used this guaranty to shop around at banks until she found one willing to finance her loan at the rate and terms she needed.
The SBA Pre-Qualified Loan Guaranty program Searcy used specifically targets rural, women-, minority- and veteran-owned businesses and exporters. Owners put up 10 percent to 30 percent as a down payment, depending on their bank's requirements.
For Searcy, the money went toward working capital, inventory, store improvements and debt consolidation.
Retailers Anthony Thomas Candy Co. in Columbus and Gooseberry Patch in Delaware found another program through Columbus Countywide to buy new buildings to house offices and inventory for the holiday selling seasons. They took advantage of the SBA 504 loan program, which helps business owners finance real estate and new buildings.
The program requires a 10 percent down payment by the business owner, with the bank financing 50 percent and Columbus Countywide the other 40 percent. In addition to the low down payment, the SBA 504 loan program comes with a fixed interest rate and a 20-year term.
Since 1981, Columbus Countywide has helped more than 1,100 small businesses obtain financing. It has approved more than $190 million in loans, which have created more than 11,000 jobs and stimulated more than $500 million in new investments in the 13 counties it serves.
For details on Columbus Countywide's loan programs, visit www.ccdcorp.org or call 645-6171 in Franklin County, or toll free at (888) 756-2232 from elsewhere. Brad Shimp is executive director of Columbus Countywide Development Corp.