Call it good karma, optimism or whatever you like, but the positive attitude Jay Dascenzo surrounds himself with affords him the opportunity to take advantage of some amazing -- even uncanny -- opportunities.
Take, for example, the time in 1984, when he decided to stop being a human services lobbyist, wanting instead to be involved with then-Gov. Richard F. Celeste's administration. He got hired to help design a computer system to manage a grant program for the Ohio Department of Development.
"I didn't know how to turn a computer on," laughs the president of Dascenzo Perez Inc., an Arena District communications agency.
Even though a hiring freeze prohibited the department from bringing on a computer programmer to translate Dascenzo's ideas into bytes, he still managed to develop a simple system for the Community Development Block Grant program that became a model used by other states as well.
Another time, Dascenzo used an eavesdropping tactic to get in closer ranks with Celeste. The head of the governor's advance team was asking another person to work on a particular event -- but he needed someone who owned a tuxedo.
"I piped up and said, 'I have a tuxedo,'" Dascenzo says. Plus, he'd already done advance work -- for an opponent of Celeste in a previous election, ironically.
He got the job and ended up as Celeste's assistant for the chief of staff. In all, he spent six years working in state government, often coordinating Celeste's out-of-state events. At the time, he called working for the governor "the greatest experience of my life."
Dascenzo's ability to make good of a situation or get things going his way served him well later as he spent 11 months in France -- where he landed a job writing gossip about American celebrities for a magazine -- and when he returned to the United States to do free-lance work and eventually start his own company.
In 1996, he took in a partner, Miguel Perez, and has grown Dascenzo Perez Inc. to eight employees in Columbus and Cincinnati with annual billings of $1.6 million. Dascenzo serves as speechwriter for Tami Longaberger, president and CEO of The Longaberger Co., and his company has produced events, videos, stage shows, speeches, print communications and fashion shows for many of The Limited Inc.'s businesses or spin-offs, including Victoria's Secret Catalogue, Bath & Body Works and Lane Bryant. Other clients include such notables as Tupperware Corp., Wexner Heritage Village and the American Red Cross.
"Jay's got a very good sense of humor. He has a contagious enthusiasm about him," says Frankie Nowlin, Borden Foundation president and immediate past president of the Center for New Directions board. As a board member, Dascenzo helped the center revamp its annual fund-raising event.
"When you're around him and he talks about ideas, you kind of think to yourself, 'This is a great idea; I'd like to do that,'" Nowlin says. "He's just so positive about things."
His positive attitude is taking him to Alaska this summer, where he'll participate in a 500-mile bicycle ride -- the longest he's ever attempted -- from Fairbanks to Anchorage to raise money for AIDS vaccine research. He also serves on the national board of governors for the Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights organization.
Dascenzo's optimism just last year grew even brighter -- since he saw through a cloud he didn't even realize was hanging over his head.
After a friend pointed out that he always seemed to have a lot of anxiety, he began to wonder if he should do something about it.
"It was fear of everything but fear of nothing," Dascenzo says.
It marked his first experience visiting a therapist -- and he learned how to deal with his anxiety disorder.
"It's not rocket science. It's converting negative thoughts into realistic thoughts," he says, explaining how previously he would magnify a little mistake he made at an event where 95 percent of his work was "a home run."
"I had to work hard to shift that mindset," he says. "I tell a lot of people now, because I figure if I can get someone to think about doing something about it, that you don't have to live that way, great."
His anxious feelings had not been evident to everyone, perhaps because it hadn't affected his work.
Peggy Calestro, vice president of development at Columbus State Community College, relates the story of the new look, new name and new attention Dascenzo brought to the college's fund-raiser, Taste the Future.
"It was a nice event, but it wasn't an event people (were) compelled to come to -- and it has become that," Calestro says, noting Taste the Future now reaches its maximum registration of 1,000 attendees. "The money we have raised has just more than quadrupled.
"His optimism and his vision rubbed off on all of us," she says. "He rekindled the excitement that had been there when we started the event."
He kept that excitement going after the fact, too.
"The day after the event, he sent me flowers and thanked me," Calestro recalls. "I thought, 'Now wait a minute. This should have gone totally the other way, because I just sort of stood there and watched him do his magic.' It was such a generous thing to do -- it totally denied any responsibility he had for the success of the event.
"He doesn't focus the spotlight on himself, and he really could. ... Instead of self promoting, he reflects it right back onto the people who benefit from his good work."
How to reach: Jay Dascenzo, Dascenzo Perez Inc., 228-7738 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Joan Slattery Wall (email@example.com) is associate editor of SBN Magazine in Columbus.
The Germain family isn't letting recession threats hold down business. It expects to open its second Lexus dealership in Columbus, Germain Lexus of Easton, by September.
Lexus is behind the family with some impressive statistics.
"We speculate by 2005 a 58 percent growth in affluent households in Columbus -- those with an income of $100,000 or more," says Jim Farley, Lexus Central Region area manager, who spoke at the April groundbreaking for the 34,500-square-foot facility. "Average income will grow 24 percent."
The Germains' 10-year-old Lexus of Columbus dealership is one of the Lexus stars, with a 14 percent share in Columbus -- almost 4 percent higher than anywhere else in the country.
"This project wouldn't happen if it wasn't for our faith in the organization the Germains built and all of the associates in their organization," Farley says.
To hear Steve Germain, president of Germain Motor Co., tell it, he's already won the first round of the challenge to open the dealership, which will be built by Renier Construction Corp. with architecture by Architectural Alliance.
"There were a lot of things that were not part of the 'Easton thing,' and a car dealership was right below a dirty bookstore," he joked at the groundbreaking. "Right then I said, 'We've got to get into Easton.'"
He's projecting $64 million in sales within the first year.
Germain also gave assurances to the $8.5 million project's financial supporters at Bank One: "If it makes you feel any better, I have never met a Lexus dealer yet that felt like they spent too much money." How to reach: Steve Germain, Germain Motor Co., 868-0300 or www.germaincars.com; Bill Heifner, Renier Construction Corp., 866-4580 or firstname.lastname@example.org; John Oney, Architectural Alliance, 469-7500
Who's in first?
Even though Schottenstein, Zox & Dunn is making headlines regarding its planned move to the Arena District, it won't be the first law firm to set up shop there. That honor will go to Buckingham, Doolittle & Burroughs, which is moving Sept. 1 from a 10,800-square-foot space in the Key building at 88 E. Broad St. to 18,500 square feet of new space in the 191 W. Nationwide Blvd. building at the corner of Nationwide and West Street.
"The Arena District provides the value of our law firm being downtown with the benefits of suburban amenities such as ease of access for our clients, parking on the premises and additional meeting space," says Donald B. Leach Jr., shareholder-in-charge of Buckingham, Doolittle & Burroughs' Columbus office. "These are the amenities needed to attract and retain clients as well as good lawyers and staff."
"They are a top-notch law firm with an outstanding reputation in the community," says Brian J. Ellis, president and COO of Nationwide Realty Investors, the entity developing the Arena District. "We feel this is a good match and that the law firm will be able to take advantage of the energy and excitement offered in the Arena District and still be in a prime downtown location."
Schottenstein, Zox & Dunn is scheduled to move into its Arena District home in 2003. How to reach: Donald B. Leach Jr., Buckingham, Doolittle & Burroughs, 227-4262 or email@example.com
The newly established Franklin University Leadership Press isn't interested in theory. It's going after real-life success stories as its publication focus instead.
"The press will set itself apart from other university presses by concentrating on books that have practical application as opposed to works of theory and pure scholarship," says Linda Steele, senior vice president for strategic relationships and initiatives at Franklin.
That's why Leadership Press Director Jeanette M. Rivard will be pursuing book projects from established, successful leaders who have made real and significant contributions to the community or the world of business.
For would-be authors, Rivard prefers to review a prospectus prior to inviting a completed manuscript, according to the Leadership Press Web page (www.franklin.edu/busrelations/leadershippress.html). In addition, the author's leadership experience and vita or resume will be reviewed closely. How to reach: Jeanette M. Rivard, Franklin University Leadership Press, 341-6404 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The management at Crane Performance Siding came to a big realization this spring: The VIPCO brand name the company has been using for more than 30 years to sell vinyl siding wasn't working anymore. It wasn't reflecting the attitude and marketing outlook of the company. That's why the VIPCO name has now gone the way of the brontosaurus.
"We've made significant changes in our product offerings and manufacturing capabilities, and the VIPCO brand no longer represents who we are as a company," says Mike Crane, president of Crane Performance Siding, which is also the new brand name under which the company's products are marketed.
Crane Performance Siding has also unveiled a new company logo in an effort to visually demonstrate a more upscale and bold product offering.
Studies show growth in women-owned businesses exceeds growth rates reported by American businesses overall. So why is it that we hear so little about the women running these fast-growth companies? The Columbus chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners wants to change that.
The group will hold its third annual awards ceremony recognizing outstanding female business owners from Central Ohio at an 11:30 a.m. luncheon July 12 at the Hilton Columbus at Easton, 3900 Chagrin Dr. For details about sponsoring or attending the ceremony, contact Tricia Smith at 444-7455 or Karen McVey at 888-4674. SBN Magazine is a sponsor of this event.
A 3-year-old Columbus firm has hired its first COO.
Mike Covert comes to Infinis Inc. from Columbus-based Alta Analytics, where he served as vice president of product development and chief technology officer. Covert will manage the day-to-day operations of Infinis, an information technology company.
"Infinis has begun an expansion on multiple fronts -- from introducing e-business intelligence and customer intelligence services to launching new operations in Cincinnati and Cleveland," says CEO Mario Desiderio. "We hired Mike Covert as our new COO to assist in creating the infrastructure required to make these expansions successful."
Three directors at Johnstown-based Bigmar Inc. have joined the generic drug company's executive team. Cynthia R. May, who serves as the managing member of Jericho LLC -- an entity that has invested in Bigmar -- has been appointed president. She has been associated with Bigmar since 1996 and previously served as a director and vice president.
Bernard Kramer, who has been a director of Bigmar since 1996, has been named its vice president and COO. Massimo Pedrani, who has been a director since 1999, has been named executive vice president of research and development. John Tramontana will continue as the company's chairman and CEO.
Roger Geiger, state director of the National Federation of Independent Business - Ohio and No. 5 on SBN Magazine's Power 100 list published earlier this year, has been appointed to the state's Sunset Review Commission. This commission reviews state boards, commissions, councils, committees and other entities to determine whether they should be abolished or continued.
Local attorney Gregory N. Finnerty was also appointed to the commission.
Construction is underway in Hilliard at the site of All Seasons Spas' forthcoming $2 million warehouse, showroom and retail facility. The 20,000-square-foot complex is being built by Ruscilli Construction Co. Inc. and is scheduled to be completed by September.
In other construction news, Apex/M&P Construction in Blacklick has been awarded a $2.6 million contract by the New Albany - Plain Local School District to perform the carpentry, doors, hardware, specialties, metal wall panels, louvers and cornices work for New Albany Middle School. Firestone Jaros Mullin Inc. in Powell provided architectural services for the project and Worthington-based Turner Construction Co. is the construction manager.
With the sweltering days of summer just around the corner, this could be an opportune time for the marketing team at Brookdale Living Communities to kick into high gear in promoting the company's latest development. The multimillion-dollar Trillium Place to be built near Dublin will feature the only indoor swimming pool in a retirement home in Central Ohio. Trillium, set to open next spring, marks Chicago-based Brookdale's official entry into the Central Ohio market.
Downtown development is a hot topic these days with the ongoing construction of the Arena District. And nine civic-minded business people have been named to executive posts on the Downtown Council to actively support and promote the benefits of a vibrant and vital downtown.
Robin Highfield, sales manager for the Crowne Plaza, has been named chair of the council, which is an affiliate of the Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce. Joining Highfield on the executive committee are Brent LaLonde, media relations manager for the Greater Columbus Convention and Visitors Bureau; Patrice Gillespie, senior account executive with Paul Werth Associates; Paula Ryan, marketing manager with Mille/James Productions; Rick Studer, a partner with Clary Communications; Jen Walker, advertising coordinator with The Johnson Family Diamond Cellar; Pieter Wykoff, vice president of Columbus State Community College; Joan Terango, advertising manager with Grange Insurance; and Jack Russell, marketing coordinator with the Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce.
Urban Environments Inc. won Landscape Enhancement Awards from the "Landscape Ohio!" program this spring for two of its landscape maintenance projects: the Tuttle Crossing freeway interchange and office building complex, and the Easton Oval office park. Duke-Weeks Realty Corp. is the owner and property manager of both award-winning properties.
Nominations are being accepted through June 15 for the Governor's Awards for Women's Excellence in Enterprise 2001. Awards will be given in the following categories: manufacturing/high technology, service, wholesale/retail, real estate/construction and Rising Star (in business less than five years).
Nominees must be Ohio based with an annual sales revenue greater than $1.5 million, except in the categories of service (minimum $1 million) and Rising Star (minimum $750,000). Nominee businesses must also be majority female-owned, well-established, growing and profitable for the most recent reporting period. For details, contact Linda Saikas at 466-4945.
Donna James, executive vice president and chief administrative officer of Nationwide, has been elected to the board of directors at Intimate Brands. She has also been appointed as a member of the board's audit committee.
The Central Ohio chapter of the Public Relations Society of America gave Best of Show honors to Edward Howard & Co. at this year's PRISM Awards. The company was honored for its work with the Community Shelter Board on nonprofit community relations.
June 29 is the deadline for nominating local companies for the 2001 Business Integrity Awards, presented by the Better Business Bureau of Central Ohio. These awards are designed to recognize firms whose business practices and related activities in the community exemplify the BBB's mission and principles. Nominees will be separated into four categories for judging, based on number of employees. For details, contact Kip Morse at 486-6531, ext. 120, or visit www.centralohiobbb.org.
Caroll Conklin, managing partner of the Sullivan Consulting division of Lord Sullivan & Yoder, will present The Branding Imperative in E-Business during a June 11 Business Development Forum hosted by the Industry & Technology Council of Central Ohio. The forum will be held at 4:30 p.m. at the Edison Welding Institute, 1250 Authur E. Adams Dr. For details, call 225-6907.
Neil Anderson, president of NBBJ, will discuss Design in the New Economy at the June 15 Technology Leaders Luncheon at Holiday Inn on the Lane, 328 W. Lane Ave. For details, call 225-6907.
Home Office Warehouse and National Office Warehouse will present a seminar June 2 on Researching Trademarks or Brand Names. For details, call 228-2233.
More than 18 chapters of Network Professionals Inc. meet weekly either for breakfast or lunch at various locations around Central Ohio. For details, call Frank Agin, regional director, at 523-8717, or visit www.npinet.com.
LeadNet, a business-to-business networking group, meets at noon Tuesdays at the Martini Italian Bistro,1319 Polaris Parkway. For details, call Racey Morris at 846-8723, ext. 216, or Tim Moore at (740) 548-6067.
The Columbus American Marketing Association hosts Java Talk from 8 to 9 a.m. the third Thursday of each month for at Barnes & Noble on Polaris Parkway. Marketing and technology professionals meet to discuss technology topics affecting marketers. For details, contact Anne Kemter at 543-6317.
Jewish Family Services' Career and Workforce Development Center holds its Tips, Tricks and Techniques Tea from 2 to 3:30 p.m. Thursdays at Jewish Family Services, 1151 College Ave., for professionals in career search with experience in a wide range of industries. The meetings are free and open to the public. For details, call 237-9675.
To err is human. How well we recover -- and learn -- from our mistakes, however, can mark the difference between success and failure.
SBN often asks business leaders to divulge how their biggest missteps impacted their companies. Our reason for doing so is simple: Often there's more to learn from a mistake than a success. And, for some reason, lessons learned the hard way tend to stick with us longer.
That's why, for the second year in a row, we're devoting our cover story to the topic of business blunders. Based on the feedback we got last year, you learned quite a bit from the stories local CEOs were willing to share with us last time around.
So read on and find out how some of the best and brightest leaders in corporate Columbus -- taken from our SBN Power 100 list published in February -- have learned from their mistakes.
If you own it, act like it
Business was going well in 1993 when J.F. "Jeff" Keeler, chairman and CEO of Fishel Co., decided an expansion was in order.
He acquired an Indiana company called Johnson Brothers, making it a division of Fishel but leaving it with its own operations and its own identity rather than changing its red and white trucks to Fishel's signature yellow and making its employees Fishel "teammates."
Keeler's mistake: his decision not to "Fishelize" the new acquisition. It took more than five years to recover.
Over the years, Keeler has built his family business into a proven success by strictly following the Fishel culture. For 10 years prior to the merger, "teammates" had been sharing in the company's profits -- one-third before taxes, in fact. By that year, Keeler was sharing more than $700,000 with employees, who received about four weeks pay as their cash profit sharing.
"Some of my friends say, 'Keeler, you're crazy to be sharing that much,' and my answer is, 'I'm not crazy. It makes the pie bigger and there are more teammates that care about the health and the profitability and the quality of the company,'" he says.
Johnson Brothers, however, which was a 100-employee carbon copy of Fishel's telecommunications and utility construction services, was doing well on its own. Keeler decided to leave it alone rather than change something and risk problems.
"What happened is you let it alone and it floundered. It was like a ship without a rudder," he says, noting that the owner stayed on with the company but didn't provide much direction after the acquisition.
"Their employees never really felt like they were Fishel teammates. And they didn't take leadership or direction very well," he says.
The acquisition lost money five years in a row, totaling several hundred thousand dollars.
"It took us about five years to do something about it, and basically that was to put a Fishel teammate in charge," he says.
"We painted the equipment yellow, put (the employees) in our benefit plans and our training programs. And we made it part of Fishel Co. instead of a division of it. We changed the name and called it Team Fishel instead of Johnson Brothers," he says.
The turnaround was almost immediate, once the employees' attitudes changed. Profits returned within about two years.
Keeler says he learned two lessons from the experience.
"When you buy it, you really own it, and you need to integrate it into your existing business," he says.
He'd immediately "Fishelize" any future acquisition.
That day hasn't come yet, though, mainly because of the second lesson he learned.
"We would buy a company that would not be in the exact same business that we're in, but that would be a specialty subcontractor with a set of skills we don't already have," Keeler says. "If we know how to do it, we'll start it ourselves.
"We've opened an office since then in the Washington, D.C., area, and in Orlando, Denver, Houston, and we're in the process of opening one in Tucson. We're doing that all with homegrown, Fishelized teammates, and it's a lot less expensive than buying into the marketplace."
Keeping with the Fishel culture and maintaining the profit sharing practice has not only been successful for the $265 million company, it has brought personal satisfaction to Keeler.
This spring, he had what he calls "the thrill of a lifetime" when, at a quarterly meeting with 650 teammates in Phoenix, he passed out $1.3 million worth of profit-sharing checks in one hour.
"That was a new record for me," Keeler says, "and it was a thrill to look out in the audience and see that many people that were part of the team and contributing to help make a profit." How to reach: Jeff Keeler, 274-8100
Hire people with the right passion
Samuel Gresham Jr. will never forget the time he entrusted an employee to plan a big event for the Columbus Urban League and the caterers showed up wearing toga-esque outfits.
"I told him to go ahead and plan it, just show me the agenda and I'll give you that freedom," says Gresham, president and CEO of the urban league, of the young, male employee who coordinated the event about eight years ago for the league's Center for Change and Leadership (now known as the Center for the Study of Urban Life).
"What he did is he hired the Hare Krishnas to prepare the food, and I had all these straight-laced people coming in in suits. I tend to deal with community people who are very conservative. And here we have these bald-headed people with white sheets wrapped around them serving the food. That was embarrassing. He said he had a caterer for the food. I didn't ask to see all the details.
"I trusted him to that extent. Obviously, his expectation and his understanding of what is acceptable in a business setting, and what isn't, was very different from mine."
Gresham eventually fired the employee -- but not just because of that incident. It was clear to him that this young man's true passion wasn't in event planning or public policy or even advocacy, which were the key elements of his job at the urban league, a $5.6 million organization.
"He had a master's degree," Gresham says. "He was great for writing papers and doing the analytical work, but he just had a quirky personality. He went off a little farther than other people would go. During staff meetings, he would quote Shakespeare. It would irritate people. We're in here talking about how we're losing money or struggling because we're not meeting goals and nobody wants to hear Shakespeare."
Gresham says this former employee is now pursuing a career in teaching literature.
"That's probably a more fitting position for him," he says.
Figuring out the true interests of job candidates has since become an essential element in Gresham's hiring process at the urban league.
"The biggest mistake I make with people is I don't find that passion," he says. "People come in because they want a job. What I try to find out is what their passion is: What do you really like to do? What gets you upset? What makes your juices flow? I try to make sure what they're applying for is really what they want to do."
That's why Gresham's screening process also includes multiple interviews.
"I won't hire a candidate unless I've met with them three times," he says. "Once in the morning, early, to see if they're going to be on time. Why? A 10 o'clock meeting is not hard. A 7 o'clock meeting is hard."
The second meeting is always over lunch, to see how they handle discussing business during a meal.
"If you set them down to do a deal and they eat like a pig and they chew with their mouth open and they don't know how to use the napkin, people say, 'Yuck,'" Gresham explains.
The third meeting involves making a presentation to Gresham on a topic he tells the candidate to research.
"A lot of people get upset because they don't think they should have to do that," he says.
But it shows Gresham the candidate's drive, research skills and analytical abilities -- along with his or her composure in making a presentation.
Besides, Gresham adds, job candidates can put on a happy, polite demeanor the first couple times you meet them, but by the third time, they've let down their guard.
"You see things in that person they can't hide anymore," he says.
Another screening tool he uses to help identify the true abilities and interests of potential hires is to ask them about the last book they read or movie they saw. That, he says, can offer some interesting insights.
Gresham uses some of the same techniques with the league's 65 employees to make sure their jobs continue to be well matched to their interests.
"I manage by walking around," he says. "That's when I pick up most of my information about what's going on with people. They don't have to tell you. You know just by being around them. If they're unhappy, they're not going to be productive."
For example, he once had an administrative assistant who outgrew the position.
"I moved her to senior vice president of development, and she's flourishing," he says. "You just have to figure out what their passion is." How to reach: Samuel Gresham Jr., 257-6300 or email@example.com
Find your true identity
Ask Sandy Harbrecht about her biggest business mistake and the conversation quickly turns to regrets: about not being bold enough or tough enough; about seeing her gender as a hurdle to overcome in the business world; about not publicizing her company's accomplishments aggressively.
But the more she talks through the challenges she's faced in the past 15 years as president of Paul Werth Associates, the more her regrets begin to center around one specific oversight, which -- if not pointed out to her by a couple astute clients -- might have left her company floundering in the midst of a serious identity crisis.
Harbrecht cannot pinpoint when the real problem began -- and that, in itself, reveals the potential gravity of the situation. She only knows that about eight or 10 years ago, she suddenly realized her firm had gone off in a direction that more closely resembled consulting than public relations -- and nobody seemed to know it.
"It was a natural evolution for us to move the company into a consulting and strategic organization," she says, noting that her firm even developed a specific research model to help clients more thoroughly explore what their real internal and external communication issues were and how to best address each of them. "But we really didn't talk about the model or let the marketplace know we had a particular point of view."
Because of that, corporations were still coming to Paul Werth for brochure and other typical mainstay PR services. That wasn't the kind of work Harbrecht wanted to do anymore.
"We're really much more of a business adviser," she says.
Still, she had trouble turning those jobs away. Her inability to do so fed the misconception that Paul Werth was still a traditional public relations firm.
Fortunately, her clients soon realized the change and began pointing it out to Harbrecht.
"Our clients would say, 'I didn't know you did that,' or 'You're more of a management consultant,' or -- How did he put it? -- 'Meeting with you once a month, I don't need a psychiatrist.' That's when it really became clear to me that we were different," she says.
"Because it came so naturally, I didn't realize it. It didn't feel like a value. It took a few clients to discover it for me."
Yet even after the realization struck her, "I still was reluctant to promote it," she says.
It's the old story of the cobbler's children who have no shoes. Harbrecht always put promoting her firm at the bottom of her list. Her clients took priority.
"Here we had something unique and, if our clients had something unique, we'd tell our clients to tell the world, but we weren't telling the world," she says. "It definitely was hurting us."
Although Harbrecht says, "It took some courage to say we're different," she also acknowledges that not addressing her firm's divergence from traditional PR work could've hurt her company even more.
That's why Harbrecht is focusing on talking more about her company's consulting, strategy and research work now.
"We are using case studies, which we really wouldn't have done before," she says. "It gave us a greater appreciation for how we are unique and how to articulate that. Now clients aren't just coming to us for a Band-Aid solution, but for a real in-depth look at how communication can help take them to new levels of performance and success.
"Discovering all this has really changed the business -- to the point that I'm not sure that we're a PR firm anymore," Harbrecht says. "I think we're much more of a management consultant."
A name change is even under consideration for the $4.84 million firm.
"We're working on that now," she says. "I think we're going to change the way we describe what we do. There's been a lot of angst over, 'What do we call ourselves?' But whatever we decide, it's going to be evolutionary. I'm not going to hold a press conference and say, 'This is our new name.' It will simply evolve into different language."
As part of her company's rebirth, Harbrecht is correcting another past mistake. She's learning it's OK -- even smart -- to turn away business.
"It would've saved a lot of sleepless nights if I'd learned earlier to say, 'We're not going to take on this client,' or 'We're not going to respond to this RFP.'
"It helps the whole organization to have a common sense of what we want to do and what we don't -- and to have the courage to go after what we want to do based on who we are." How to reach: Sandy Harbrecht, 224-8114 or firstname.lastname@example.org
About three years ago, Tim O'Dell learned one of his biggest business lessons: Ask questions before you make assumptions about your customers.
The president of Fifth Third Bank, Central Ohio, says the bank made a critical error when it merged with State Savings Bank.
The significance of the merger wasn't lost on Fifth Third's Columbus area management: The bank's assets went from $1.6 billion to $2.1 billion after State Savings came on board. What they failed to realize, O'Dell says, is how the merger would affect customers.
"The mistake we made was we didn't realize how important it was to the State Savings customers that they retain their existing account numbers for their State Savings accounts," he says, pointing out the bank's well-established, long-term customers had grown accustomed to their accounts after years of loyalty.
"We asked them to change. Instead, we should've changed to be more accommodating to them," he says.
He doesn't think the bank lost customers over the mistake, but it sure started the relationship off on the wrong foot.
"We created a bit of irritation, a bit of a rub there, that could've been handled better," he says. "And we heard about it."
O'Dell won't make the same mistake again, and Fifth Third Bancorp's brass in Cincinnati also learned from the experience. In Fifth Third's latest merger, this one with Old Kent -- which is adding about 1 million customers to the bank -- Fifth Third will be more flexible and allow customers to keep their account numbers.
Now, he's also doing a better job of listening.
"Before we would make any changes like that, we would sit down with a sampling of our customers and get their reaction," he says.
Every month, he personally reviews the several dozen customer survey cards received by the bank; the majority are responded to personally by the appropriate person. The cards are mailed to customers and are available at all banking centers. Retail, commercial, mortgage and general banking customers all have the opportunity to give input.
"It allows us to be able to applaud the great customer service and to address any glitches we may have in customer service," O'Dell says.
In addition, in early 2000, the bank initiated the Community Advisory Forum, in which about a dozen representatives of the community meet quarterly with O'Dell and all bank division heads to discuss how Fifth Third can better serve the community at large.
One change put into action as a result of a suggestion from the group: a church lending specialty at the bank that provides services such as treasury management and lending for expansion. Making the community and customers a part of the process, O'Dell says, creates better support for the bank.
"The biggest mistake is assuming that we have all the answers," O'Dell says. "If we just ask for input and do things in a collaborative effort, there's a lot of power in that." How to reach: Tim O'Dell, 223-3909 or email@example.com
Sometimes you just have to let go
When Sue Doody started Lindey's Restaurant 20 years ago, firing unsatisfactory employees was a task she avoided at all costs.
"I think it was like severing a relationship with a family member. You felt like they were part of the group, and you were reluctant to say, 'It's time for you to move on,'" she says.
She wanted, after all, to run the business like a family.
"I wasn't in the restaurant business before," she points out. "I was a homemaker and mother of four and bought this place because I love to cook and love great food and knew how restaurants didn't always have the best food.
"As I told all my managers: I want it run just like my house," she says of the roughly $5 million, 120-employee business. "If you have company coming into your house, you want to do everything possible to make their stay a fun, nice, enjoyable experience and cook the best food and everything else."
A few years into the business, she got an unexpected reaction when she fired a waitress who just wasn't putting forth her best effort.
"She was such a wreck when she was waiting on tables, and when I let her go she came to me and was relieved. She wanted to succeed but she wanted to succeed for me and not herself. I was letting her (let) go of that tension," Doody says. "It really wasn't her cup of tea."
Later, Doody fired a long-time member of her managerial staff who obviously wasn't happy enough in the job to perform well.
In both cases, Doody had waited weeks before making her move -- a decision she now realizes should've been made as soon as possible.
She discovered she needed to focus on hiring and keeping staff who would buy into the theory of how she wanted the business run and how she wanted the customers treated. Others would simply have to go. Doody couldn't risk the possibility that guests would be reluctant to come back because they had an experience with an employee who wasn't congenial.
Still, for a time, she had to adjust to the idea.
"It was hard because I build up a good relationship with my employees, I think, and try to be interested in their personal lives as well as their lives at work and their best development," she says. "It's hard because you're kind of torn, but you feel like you're doing the best thing for yourself as well as for them -- but change is tough."
Doody always had a general manager who took care of hiring at the restaurant, but now she's added even more levels of scrutiny.
"Now we screen candidates much more carefully," she says, adding that she typically does not hire people who are going into food service for the first time.
In addition, several people, rather than just one manager and Doody, now interview candidates, and there's an orientation period when Lindey's management can find out more about the employee and the employee can learn more about the business.
"It works from both sides," Doody says. "If they aren't going to be happy here, then it's not going to be good for us or them." How to reach: Sue Doody, 228-4343
Kathy Ransier dressed her teen-age son in a tuxedo, took him to his school prom and danced with him in his wheelchair.
It's one of many joyful stories her friend, Rebecca Love, remembers about Ransier's relationship with Charles, whose birth defect left him developmentally challenged at age 1.
"She said, 'I operate with a cup half full, waiting for Charlie to go to college ... '" Love recalls. "That tells a lot about Kathy and her strength and her hopefulness."
For her part, Ransier, managing partner of Ransier & Ransier LLP, remembers the life lessons she learned from Charles, who nearly two years ago died at age 17 -- far past the six-month life expectancy doctors gave him shortly after he was born.
"Charles was Charles. Not handicapped Charles, not retarded Charles, he was just Charles," she says matter-of-factly.
"Fortunately for him, and us, in his level of understanding he was a very happy person -- he wasn't stressed out by his limits," she says, noting that he showed the family joy and warmth.
"You had a bad day and Charles was there to remind you and to love you," she says.
Love, director of early childhood education for the Franklin County Board of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities, whose board Ransier chairs, says Ransier always celebrated Charles' life rather than seeing her care of him as a burden.
That attitude, Love says, contributes to the success Ransier has in the law firm owned by her and her husband, Fred.
"Her energy, her positive outlook, her open disposition -- she's a scholar, very scholarly, and intelligent and articulate. And I think all of those make people open their minds to her and receive her professionally and as a friend," says Love, who's known Ransier professionally and personally for nearly 30 years.
Ransier says relationships with clients, in fact, are among the "unanticipated real joys" of running the law firm. She wouldn't disclose specifics about the firm's financials but says she wouldn't deny that revenue exceeds $1 million.
"There are clients we have represented literally the entire time we've been in business," she says of the German Village area law firm founded in 1976. The firm has represented such notables as Honda, Wendy's, Moody/Nolan Ltd., Bank One, National City Bank and Lutheran Social Services.
Susan Weaver, executive director of the Community Housing Network Inc., says over the 10 years Ransier has served as general counsel for her organization, the two have developed a friendship.
"She's just a very upbeat and gregarious person," Weaver says. "She can be irreverent privately, which helps in really difficult matters to sort of look on the light side of things or to find the humor in the problem."
Weaver says she sees Ransier's attitude obvious in her family, which also includes sons Bradley, 23, and Ricky, 17.
While Ransier says she and her husband are focusing on a personal transition to spend more time with each other now that their sons have grown, she actually commits a large portion of her time to civic and community work.
In addition to active membership in the Columbus, Ohio State and American bar associations, she's on the boards of Capitol South Community Urban Redevelopment Corp., Columbus Municipal Airport Authority, The Ohio State University Friends of the Libraries, the Greater Columbus Arts Council and the Broad Brunson Place Condominiums Association. She's also a panel member of The Columbus Foundation Legal Advisory Committee and the OSU Feminist Law Caucus Community Mentoring Program.
In 1990, she won the Community Service Award from the Columbus Bar Association. Lawyers, she says, should be proud of their civic involvement.
"Of course easily every third joke is a lawyer joke, but the bar association is trying to get the word out of our service to the community and also service to our peers," she says.
Building her own practice has been an educational experience, she says. For example, after 25 years in business, she's learned to look beyond the resume when she's hiring new people to the firm, which in addition to her and Fred includes two other attorneys as well as a legal assistant, bookkeeper, secretary/receptionist and law clerk.
She knows now she'll generally have more success hiring attorneys and staff who went to law school later in life or are further along in their careers, because they tend to be more mature.
"It's fun to be a lawyer -- ego-gratifying that people rely on what you have to say," she says, "so it's nice in that respect. But after a couple of years we realized -- we've got to make money.
"Fred and I are first-generation business people, which is a challenge in and of itself," she says.
Still, Ransier's biggest challenge in life came with the death of her son, a loss she deals with through support from friends and family, whom she counts among those she most admires.
"I am so fortunate that I had tremendous parents and a wonderful childhood," she says, remembering her parents' adoration of her and her five sisters.
"According to (my father) I was the center of the world. It was late -- too late -- when I figured out I wasn't," she laughs. "It was a great way to start off life, feeling that way." How to reach: Kathy Ransier, Ransier & Ransier LLP, 443-7429 or www.ransierlaw.com
Joan Slattery Wall (firstname.lastname@example.org) is associate editor of SBN Magazine in Columbus.
"Success without power is nothing," according to Susan Wilson Solovic. She should know.
Twelve years ago, as vice president, director of corporate marketing at ITT Commercial Finance, Solovic was pulling down a six-figure income and was one of the highest-ranking women in the corporation. Still, her salary fell about $20,000 short of her male predecessors' salaries, she says, and her name somehow never appeared on the invitation lists to the fancy company trips enjoyed by male colleagues.
She tried to ignore the unequal treatment, but found herself wondering why women, like herself, expect to work harder and still take a backseat to men in the corporate world. She vowed to start devoting her career to helping women in business obtain gender parity and personal power.
Solovic started a company called Susan-Says, and began serving as a business and marketing consultant, as well as a public speaker. She is a member of a national braintrust to shape the entrepreneurial mission for women business owners in the 21st century and facilitates programs for the Women Presidents' Organization. She's also the author of a new book, "The Girls' Guide to Power and Success," aimed at helping women break free of limiting stereotypes and self-defeating behaviors so they may excel in business going head-to-head with men.
Solovic will be visiting Columbus July 12 to give the keynote address at the National Association of Women Business Owners - Central Ohio chapter's annual awards ceremony at the Hilton Columbus at Easton, beginning at 11:30 a.m.
"Women continue to fight the same battles over and over again because we do not understand the concept of power and how to leverage it," she says. How to reach: Susan Solovic, email@example.com or (314) 361-2090
What do your employees cut back on when they're harried by busy schedules?
Sleep, according to a National Sleep Foundation poll -- and it could affect their work performance, attention to safety and driving habits.
The poll found nearly 70 percent of Americans experience frequent sleep problems, and 63 percent do not get the recommended eight hours of sleep needed for good health, safety and optimum performance.
In fact, studies have found nearly 53 percent of all work-related accidents may be related to sleepiness, reports the Ohio Sleep Medicine Institute in Dublin.
"We are paying a high price for this lifestyle, in terms of insufficient sleep and its consequences," says Helmut S. Schmidt, M.D., founder and medical director of the Ohio Sleep Medicine Institute.
For tips to improve sleep, visit www.sleepfoundation.org/publications/goodnights.html at the National Sleep Foundation Web site. How to reach: Ohio Sleep Medicine Institute, (614) 766-0773 or www.sleepohio.com.
Bob Vennemeyer, president and CEO of DesignGroup Inc., learned an important philosophy from one of the firm's founders, Harold Rettstatt: "You can do good work and still be a good person."
Those who know Vennemeyer might say he's taken Rettstatt's words to heart.
"One of the things that's kind of interesting is, it's never about Bob. It's never him telling you about what he's doing. You have to ask him, 'Bob, how's it going? How's business? Tell me about your new projects.' Maybe that's being a good salesman, but you never feel like Bob is selling you," says J. Daniel Schmidt of JDS Cos., who is a co-owner of DesignGroup's new building at 515 E. Main St. "He's always about problem solving or making a situation better for you."
Larry Black says Vennemeyer is always willing to listen to his clients and is trustworthy.
"Bob doesn't play games. When he tells you something, you know that's really how he thinks and feels about it," says Black, director of the Columbus Metropolitan Library, who chose DesignGroup as the architect for the Main Library expansion, which was finished in 1991, and the construction of several branches.
"One of the things he says often is that you may save a few dollars here, but you will have forgotten those dollars pretty quickly if it doesn't work out," Black says. "Those are words that have saved the library a lot of money."
The Main Library restoration was, in fact, one of Vennemeyer's most rewarding personally. From his office, he can see the top of the library building, which DesignGroup's work transformed by removing all additions to the original 36,000-square-foot building, constructed in 1907 with funding from philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, and adding 214,000 new square feet of space.
Other projects completed by the DesignGroup, a $9 million, 75-employee firm, include the Ohio Stadium renovation, Thomas Worthington High School, State Teachers Retirement System and Grant Medical Center.
While Vennemeyer says the company has had nearly steady growth, he acknowledges that last year, when it moved from Olentangy River Road to its Discovery District location, was one of the more difficult ones.
"Our radar was down a little bit," he says of the firm's delayed reaction to the economic slowdown. "The move was really a smokescreen."
He had to lay off seven employees -- a first for the firm.
"It was a tough experience," says Vennemeyer. "I don't want it to ever happen again."
He learned that any changes in the company's financial information must be made known to management immediately, and he hired a financial consultant, David Bittner, president of Growth Management Solutions Inc., to prioritize, clarify and simplify the company's reporting system.
Vennemeyer says he gets through such challenges in business and life with the help of his faith and participation in Charismatic Renewal in the Catholic Church. He and his wife, Vicki, are members of St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church in Powell and have three grown children, Cara, Adam and Andrew.
He says in the mid-'70s, a friend's question, "Is Jesus Christ your personal savior?" opened his eyes to the potential of his faith.
The friend explained: "Why wouldn't Christ want to help you through life in this world? Why would he just wait until the next life?"
Vennemeyer gets tears in his eyes as he describes how he prays with Rettstatt at the start of every week for help with the business and how he calls upon the Lord when he's in a situation where he might not know all the right answers.
"You've got faith in knowing there is an answer --- I just don't know it yet," he says.
Vennemeyer says his faith gives him peace in stressful situations, and people who know him, such as Black, call him "grounded" with a philosophy largely rooted in his religion.
John Schwarck, executive director of Friendship Village of Dublin, sees Vennemeyer as "well-balanced" and "people-oriented."
He's witnessed those traits as Vennemeyer serves as chair-elect on Friendship Village of Dublin's board.
Especially evident, he says, is Vennemeyer's ability to look at different facets of a situation and explain them clearly -- a necessity on a board on which members with different backgrounds create diversity.
"Bob has a way of bringing that together. He can talk to you and explain things to you and give you the ability to understand things quite readily," Schwarck says.
Vennemeyer uses the same skills on the advocacy committee of the Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce's Small Business Council as well as the Governor's Small Business Advisory Council and TEC, a peer group of business executives.
"When you finish a conversation with Bob, no matter what it's about, you always feel like you're a little bit better for it," says Schmidt, who shares Vennemeyer's dedication to making the Downtown area strong. "I've learned a tremendous amount about architecture and construction from him. He's a teacher and a facilitator." How to reach: Bob Vennemeyer, DesignGroup Inc., 255-0515, ext. 219; firstname.lastname@example.org or www.dgcolumbus.com
Joan Slattery Wall (email@example.com) is associate editor of SBN Magazine in Columbus.
If Rosemarie Rossetti can't convince you to get or update your disability and health insurance policies, it's likely no one can.
She vividly remembers the sunny Memorial Day weekend in 1998 when she thought she'd finally made it.
That May weekend she spent in a luxurious training facility in a high-rise building in Chicago conducting a "Train the trainer" seminar for an Ottawa, Ontario, Canada-based company called Friesen, Kaye and Associates. She walked the streets of the Windy City to her elegant suite hotel, where her husband, Mark Leder, was joining her for a long weekend of shopping.
Seventeen months earlier, she'd left a faculty position at The Ohio State University to start Rossetti Enterprises Inc., a consulting and speaking business that was on its way to earning $72,000 a year. A publishing company on the side, Rosewell Publishing Inc., had generated $40,000 through sales of "The Healthy Indoor Plant," authored by Rossetti and her business partner and co-author Charles C. Powell.
"I just felt like I'd arrived," she says.
"I've got everything going for me," she remembers thinking. "I can't believe how far I've come."
Two weeks later she lay paralyzed in a hospital bed after being crushed by an 80-foot tree that fell on her as she rode her bicycle in Granville on a wedding anniversary trip with her husband.
All she had worked for disappeared. She and Powell had to dissolve the publishing business and sell the rights to the book. Her consulting business languished while she went through months of rehabilitation. In 1999, it posted a loss of $8,000. She began mourning a life she thought she'd never have again -- she couldn't even get in and out of bed, after all.
Time has helped, however, and she can now move around with the help of a wheelchair, or sometimes a walker. She's even found a specially-adapted bicycle on which she's traveled as much as 18 miles, and she's learning to ski on a specially-adapted chair.
Finally bringing life back to Rossetti Enterprises -- largely through inspirational speeches about her experience -- Rossetti wants other business owners to take heed of three lessons she learned during her ordeal:
* Obtain disability insurance.
* Maintain your health insurance.
* Make sure there's someone who can take over your company if something happens to you.
Rossetti considers herself lucky that, as a result of 18 years of teaching at the high school and college levels, she had free disability insurance through the State Teachers Retirement System. The benefit stayed with her for two years after she left teaching, and because her accident happened within those two years, she was and will continue to be covered as long as she's considered disabled.
The insurance pays her a monthly stipend, which basically covers her living expenses. She receives a 3 percent cost-of-living increase each year.
Before her accident, she had been researching what she'd do about disability insurance once the two-year coverage period under her previous teaching contract expired. She found group policies, like those offered through chambers of commerce, to be less expensive than individual policies.
She also learned she'd have to make a budget of all her expenses in order to figure out how much coverage to buy. People may think their expenses would be lower if they were disabled, she says, since they would not be going out as much or doing as many things, but this, she's learned, is a fallacy.
"Something else is going to be causing your money to leave your pocket," she says, referring to medical care and adding that you still will want to maintain your quality of life with things you enjoyed before you were disabled. "Why deprive yourself of a new pair of pants or a night out at the movies?"
If she didn't already have the coverage, she would have taken the advice of insurance agents who, before her accident, told her to take out a disability insurance policy before she ever left her university job.
"Then you're no risk," she explains. "If you change jobs, you've got the policy."
Once she is able to bring in an income again, she intends to notify her disability insurance carrier to tell it she is no longer disabled.
"But right now I still am," she says. "I can't earn enough money to live. It really is my main source of income."
Choose healthy options
At the time of her accident, Rossetti had health insurance through her husband's employer. But she encourages business owners to take a close look at their insurance coverage to decide whether it's sufficient and whether it covers all the options they might need.
"The biggest thing we felt lacking is it didn't cover a personal care assistant at all," she says, "not even a day of it -- and I needed it for a whole year."
She was stuck with the $10-an-hour fee for her assistant, whom she needed sometimes 40 hours a week. She applied for financial assistance from the National Speakers Association and used money the local association chapter gave her after holding fund-raisers.
She also sought assistance from the Ohio Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation, which helps business owners with vocational training, occupational tools and equipment, adaptive technology or job placement assistance and counseling so they can return to work after a disability.
Rossetti is still calculating the medical expenses, which so far have exceeded $160,000 for the helicopter ride to the hospital, hospital bills and surgeries. Prescriptions and some other items still are not included in the total.
She has filed suit against seven defendants, including the homeowners of the property where the tree fell; the foundation that built the bike trail; the Licking County Park System; tree pruning subcontractors; and Ohio Power, which maintained the area because power lines are nearby, but she knows the insurance companies will be paid first from any settlement.
She acknowledges that the high cost of health insurance deters business owners from increasing their coverage, so she suggests they consider having a higher deductible to make the premiums easier to swallow.
"You pay more when you first have the accident, but the insurance company covers the rest," she says. "Put in as many benefit pieces as you can."
Who's your backup?
Fortunately, Rossetti had kept her husband up-to-date on her speaking business. He brought her planner to the hospital, and she told him who to call and what to tell them. Powell, her partner in the publishing business, took care of that company until they decided he could not do it alone.
Shortly after she returned home from the hospital, she realized how lucky she had been to be able to make those decisions. Once home, she set out to balance her checkbook and just sat and stared at it, not knowing what to do. The narcotic pain killers had affected her ability to think.
"Not all injuries leave your head intact, and not all medicines leave you clear as a thinking person," she says.
To be even more fail-safe, Rossetti now uses ACT, a contact management database, and routinely updates her notes there. Her husband also knows how to use it in the event that she could not.
"It's not a bunch of little pieces of paper scattered throughout a folder now," she says of information about her business.
Regardless, she says, someone in your company -- be it a business partner, assistant or another executive -- should know as much about it as you do.
As a member of the National Speakers Association, Rossetti was able to call on colleagues to cover speaking engagements she had already scheduled. Some clients agreed to the substitute speaker. A few even told her they'd just wait until she could do it herself. It ended up being late in the year before she could resume even the most minimal schedule.
"In your world of expertise," she says, "see your competition as friendly competition, because some day you might need them." How to reach: Rosemarie Rossetti, Rossetti Enterprises Inc., 471-6100 or www.rosemariespeaks.com; Ohio Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation, 438-1250 or www.state.oh.us/rsc/VR_Services/BVR/bvr.html
Joan Slattery Wall (firstname.lastname@example.org) is associate editor of SBN Magazine in Columbus.
Langdale's biggest business blunder came in 1989 when he was heading up his first venture, Digital Storage Inc., and learned a hard lesson about carrying too many eggs in one basket.
"We had a very large percentage of our business with one vendor," Langdale recalls of his then-$100 million company. "That vendor had a change in philosophy and about 30 percent of our business disappeared almost overnight."
The vendor decided to go directly to its customers instead of working through Digital Storage for marketing and logistics services, Langdale explains.
"Our management team sat down and said, 'Since they were contractually obligated to use us, should we sue? Should we get mad? Should we get even?' Instead, we got introspective. We asked ourselves, 'What caused that vendor to go direct to their customers?' That vendor saw us as a threat. That company made $10 million profit a year. We were responsible for about $9 million of that. They probably just got nervous. They didn't have enough control in their customer relationships."
With that realization, he went to work. He moved all of Digital Storage's logistics and marketing functions into a separate business and restructured them so the client company had the direct relationship with the reseller and Langdale's company worked behind the scenes. He called the new company Distribution and Logistics Services Inc. It lasted about 10 years as an independent business before being merged into SubmitOrder.
"If we are wronged, we can usually make an opportunity out of it that's much more valuable than (dwelling on the issue)," Langdale says.
Although Langdale has many business philosophies, here are two of the most revealing:
* "I've always said the secret to happiness is low expectations."
* "If winning is beating the other people in business, you're missing the point."
Langdale has sought outside expertise almost since the day he started his first company 15 years ago. As his business interests have changed -- and industries evolved -- so has the face of his advisory board.
Here are those who have helped him in the past as well as those who are advising him at present:
* Larry McLernon of LCI International (now Qwest)
* Tadd Seitz, a private investor who used to head up The Scotts Co.
* Bud LaLonde of The Ohio State University
* Mike Endres of Stonehenge Financial Holdings Inc.
* Roger Blackwell, owner of Blackwell Associates Inc. and marketing professor at The Ohio State University
* Roger Lautzenhiser of Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease
* Larry Hilsheimer of Deloitte & Touche
His greatest revelation
It's a familiar scenario. What business owner hasn't, at some point, gotten so wrapped up in the company that family and social life suffered?
For Langdale, all else took a backseat to his entrepreneurial endeavors for nearly eight years before he noticed what had happened.
"Awhile into the business, I realized I was focused solely on the business and not life," Langdale says.
He saw his friends marrying, having children, getting involved in the community -- and realized he was missing out.
"I realized I wanted a family," he says.
He shifted part of his focus onto his personal life and soon found happiness again.
"You need to have a balance in your life," says the 36-year-old husband and father. "You can't just do one thing and expect to find happiness and contentment. You have to create an atmosphere in your company where associates can have balance, too."
Langdale believes in encouraging well-rounded lifestyles so much that he's made employee contentment part of his companies' mission and vision statements.
"At RPA, our vision is happy clients, happy associates," he says. At NCT Ventures, the mission talks about "fulfilling people" as well as creating and adding value to the supply chain.
"We don't just want to work ourselves to death," he says. "We work hard and have fun."
A group of senior executive women has an answer to the old boys' network. It's forming one of its own.
Stephanie Wagoner, president of Cardinal Health Capital Corp., is heading up the new Columbus Women Executives group, formed earlier this year to allow women of this business stature to network with and mentor each other, as well as develop greater visibility for leadership positions.
"Columbus has a very active and vibrant business community," says Wagoner. "CWE provides a forum for women executives to develop business opportunities for their organizations and become an increasingly active part of this exciting and growing community."
Other charter members of the group's executive committee are Kyllikki Kusma of Ernst & Young; Linda Wright Barber of Nationwide Financial Services; Nadia Alaudini of PricewaterhouseCoopers; and Benita Kahn and Sheryl Clark Stoll of Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease.
For more information about the group, contact Alaudini at 225-8185 or email@example.com, or Wagoner at 757-7865 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
A dying breed
Central Ohio's largest independent insurance broker is merging with a Virginia-based company with approximately 80 offices in the United States.
Berwanger Overmyer Associates signed a definitive merger agreement in June with Hilb, Rogal and Hamilton Co., which was expected to take effect July 1.
Berwanger Overmyer has operated independently for almost 30 years. The company has revenue in excess of $22 million and a staff of more than 160.
"Our merger with HRH is the best alternative for the future growth of BOA," said Ed Overmyer, president and CEO of Berwanger Overmyer, in a release announcing the merger plans. Although Overmyer will remain with the company, Steven C. Deal of Hilb, Rogal and Hamilton will oversee the Columbus office.
New clients and partnerships
CallTech Communications partners with Iomega Corp., maker of Zip drives and disks.
Thompson Hine and Fifth Third Bank sign as sponsors for the Columbus chapter of the Women Presidents' Organization.
Mills/James Productions partners with DG Systems for digital distribution purposes.
Gerbig Snell/Weisheimer & Associates acquires Health Process Management of Doylestown, Pa.
The Ohio State University's Career Exploration Office partners with The Service Corps of Retired Executives.
Griffin Communications acquires Baird Communications.
Profitworks signs Concrete Technology Inc. of Dayton as a client.
Up & coming
Aug. 9, 12:30 p.m., National Association of Women Business Owners golf outing, Raymond Memorial, 888-5203 for registration information.
Sept. 14, 11:30 a.m., Gaining and Sustaining Competitive Advantage, Executive Interchange Series, Max M. Fisher College of Business, Pfahl Hall, 225-6907 for registration information.
Sept. 24, noon, Industry & Technology Council and Columbus Venture Network golf tournament, Little Turtle Country Club, 225-6907 for registration information.
Oct. 24, 11:30 a.m., Junior Achievement's Central Ohio Business Hall of Fame induction ceremony, Greater Columbus Convention Center, 771-9903 for tickets or sponsorship information.
Joanne S. Peters, senior associate with Isaac Brant Ledman & Teetor, Community Service Award from the Columbus Bar Association.
Curtis J. Moody, president and CEO of Moody/Nolan, and Dannette A. Render, president and CEO of DAR Public Relations, "Fifty Influential Minorities in Business" by Minority Business and Professionals Network Inc.
Mattie James, president and CEO of Child Development Council of Franklin County, the Helen Taylor Award for Management Excellence from Head Start - Johnson & Johnson.
Errol Kahoun, owner of AB Excavating and Cra-Co Investments, the Leader of the Year Award from Milo-Grogan Business Association.
Joan E. Munnelly, a senior vice president at Limited's Too Inc., the Woman of the Year award from the Committee Concerned for Children.
Resource One, 2001 Minority Business Development Recognition Award from Gov. Bob Taft.
Midwestern Auto Group, Center of Excellence Award 2001 from BMW of North America; and 2001 Porsche Premier Dealer Award from Porsche Cars North America.
The Longaberger Co., ranked No. 18 among the 500 top revenue-generating women-owned companies in America by Working Woman magazine. Columbus Fair Auto Auction ranked No. 400, Cheryl&Co. ranked No. 411 and Media Solutions ranked No. 486.
Fortner Upholstering, second place, national Craftsman competition sponsored by The Upholstery Journal.
Feinknopf Macioce Schappa Architects, Citation Award for Outstanding Design from American School & University magazine.
Mills/James Productions, Silver Reel from the Media Communications Association.
The Wallick Cos., ranked No. 22 among the top 50 multifamily rental builders by Builder magazine; and ranked among the nation's top 400 builders in Professional Builder magazine.
Haslett Heating & Cooling, honorary Construction Award from Blue Dot Services Inc.
Copiers & More, ProMasters Award for Customer Service Excellence from Toshiba.
Columbus Chapter No. 42 of the Institute of Real Estate Management, Gold Award, Chapter of the Year category from Institute of Real Estate Management.
Niles Overly of The Frank Gates Cos. was named Entrepreneur Of The Year in Business Services by Ernst & Young.
Timothy Foley of ME Cos. Inc. was named Entrepreneur Of The Year in Construction/Real Estate by Ernst & Young.
Ari Deshe and Jon Diamond of Safe Auto Insurance Co. were named Entrepreneurs Of The Year in Consumer Services by Ernst & Young.
Chris and Rick Doody of Bravo Development were named Entrepreneurs Of The Year in Food Services by Ernst & Young.
Dwight Smith of Sophisticated Systems Inc. was named Entrepreneur Of The Year in Technology by Ernst & Young.
Anne Matunas and Walter Sullivan of Security Voice Inc. were named Socially Responsible Entrepreneurs Of The Year by Ernst & Young.
David and Rick Milenthal of HMS Partners were named Master Entrepreneurs Of The Year by Ernst & Young.
Robert E. Shenton to managing partner, Plante & Moran, Central Ohio practice.
Douglas Morgan to partner, Calfee, Halter & Griswold.
F. Jeffrey Kovacs to partner, GBQ Partners.
David J Renke to executive vice president, Huntington Bancshares Inc.
John F. Farris to senior vice president - Express Services, AirNet Systems.
Wayne Custer to senior vice president and COO, Renier Construction.
Richard Witherow to senior vice president and Central Ohio region credit officer, Huntington National Bank.
Thomas Garrity to senior vice president, National City.
Richard C. Needles to vice president - Human Resources, Fifth Third Bank.
Kevin Finnegan to vice president - national sales leader, Lerner New York.
Cindy Silver to vice president - client services, PeeblesPanos Marketing Design.
Vicki Miller to vice president/creative director, Gerbig, Snell/Weisheimer & Associates.
Harlan M. Schottenstein to vice president for special projects, Prime Tours Inc.
Scott N. Smith to vice president and chief risk officer, American Electric Power.
Mike Kvitko to vice president of stores, Internet & Hallmark projects; Jennifer Pearce to vice president of marketing and communications; and Lisa Swope to vice president of merchandising, Cheryl & Co.
Kirk B. Merritt to deputy director, International Trade Division, Ohio Department of Development.
Robert Teater and Bradley R. Kastan to the Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board.
Richard A. Frye to Board of Directors, Legal Aid Society of Columbus.
Dr. Glenn P. Gravlee to president-elect, Society of Cardiovascular Anesthesiologists, The Ohio State University College of Medicine and Public Health.