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If your company is interested in establishing or enhancing its collaboration with philanthropic organizations, Dan D’Armond, community and government relations director for BMC Software, offers some excellent observations and questions to ask as you review your involvement.Here is my interview with him:Deena: What are corporations typically asked about corporate giving and forming strategic partnerships?Dan: One of the most commonly asked questions corporations receive from nonprofits is, ‘What is your giving strategy?’ Maybe the better question is, ‘Can a corporation afford not to collaborate with nonprofits as part of its strategy?’Many nonprofits approach potential corporate partners with the promise of a…
Top-quality health care procedures are readily available in the United States, but disruptive trends are challenging health care businesses. Renewed attacks on health care costs, demands for greater access, exciting research on personalized medicine, evidence-based medicine and medical tourism are transforming health care businesses. Remarkably, these disruptive challenges are less about medicine and more about evidence-based management of health care organizations. They are disruptive challenges that demand a business solution.Why business? Why now?The country began grappling with the need for health care reform and searching for potential solutions well before the advent of the Affordable Care Act. Health care organizations…
Houston is the fourth largest city in the United States, which often surprises visitors. Much like comedian Rodney Dangerfield, it seems like Houston “gets no respect.” But the growing recognition of Houston’s global business opportunities could change that perception.The Houston Airport System has historically experienced strong passenger air service to Europe and Latin America. And now the Asian market has received a number of boosts, such as Air China Beijing’s direct flights to Houston four to seven times a week, United’s additional daily flight from Houston to Tokyo, daily direct flights from Istanbul to Houston on Turkish Airlines and direct…
Companies update their systems to replace outdated software and to modernize or streamline supporting IT resources. They also implement new systems in hopes of benefitting from internal efficiencies through added features, better workflow, etc. The problem is most companies that implement a new system do not achieve all of their objectives, and many fail miserably.“Ultimately, the new system may be better, but if executives listed the top things they wanted to accomplish by implementing the new system, many times they don’t achieve those things,” says Brian Thomas, partner in IT Advisory Services at Weaver. Smart Business spoke with Thomas about…
With 25 regional EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™ programs, making the cut to become a finalist in one of the 11 national award categories is tough — you’re competing against more than 200 of the nation’s top entrepreneurs. So landing three national finalists and one national category winner is something worth talking about. Last year, the Gulf Coast Area region landed four of its 11 regional EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™ winners on the national stage: Steve Pate, chairman and CEO of Strike LLC; Kenneth L. Robison, CEO of Crest Industries LLC; Peter M. Duncan, founder, president and CEO of…
Considering sales purely as a numbers game often leads to brute-force approaches that are rarely effective. Alternately, analyzing sales drivers and systematically maximizing their potency results in more sales with less effort. Sales drivers are factors that influence the probability of deal-closure, deal cycle-time, deal profit margin and the post-sale risk of failure. Examples include a company’s reputation, notable product or service features, a salesperson’s skills and the state of the economy. Common sales drivers are necessary for the deal to go through, and only the top drivers have the power to take the deal to closure. They are your…
“HR bytes” refers to human resources technologies being developed, deployed and adopted at a breakneck pace. New and innovative software applications are making the delivery of HR services better, faster and simpler. For years now, large Fortune 500 companies have invested in HR technology that streamlines back office processes, enhances learning opportunities and simplifies employee procedures. Now, though, progressive HR service providers are expanding their service offering beyond mere administrative and tactical HR to include more strategic services and the systems to support them, giving smaller companies access to these tools as well. Time and labor management Automated Web-based time…
Deborah Cannon understands how the world of private, for-profit business works. She was president of Bank of America for the Houston region before retiring with 30 years in the industry. Courted out of retirement by a headhunter, Cannon took the helm of The Houston Zoo, becoming its president and CEO shortly after the floundering city property had undergone partial privatization in an attempt to reverse its financial atrophy. “The zoo was, frankly, losing ground every year,” Cannon says. “The city was not charging adequate admission fees to be able to do all the things that needed to be done, so…
For most company buyers, taxes are a priority when negotiating a purchase price. However, if tax issues are neglected during the integration phase, the negative consequences can be serious. To improve the likelihood of a successful merger, it’s important to devote resources to intensive tax planning before — and after — your deal closes. During deal negotiations, you and the seller will likely discuss issues such as deductibility of transaction costs and the amount of local, state and federal tax obligations the parties will owe upon signing the deal. Often, deal structures such as asset sales can benefit one party…
Brave entrepreneurs step into the arena. If they are lucky, they are nurtured in the right environment. The landscape is littered with collapsed ventures launched in harsh environments. Even passionate entrepreneurs have failed. The myth of great business leaders is that they are born with the right stuff, gifted with a revolutionary idea that fundamentally changes business. This thread of the special maverick who becomes a successful entrepreneur can be seen running through the narratives of many of our stories about great entrepreneurs — from Walt Disney to Henry Ford, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg. But as Louis Pasteur said,…
Chris MacFarland was on his way to manage a startup when Royce Holland, chairman of Masergy, asked him to take a hard look at his company. Although the eight-year-old provider of networking services had reached nearly $100 million in revenue and survived both the nuclear telecom winter and dot-com crash, Masergy was stuck in that awkward adolescent stage just as the economy was slowing. “Masergy’s board wanted me to consult for a year, offer advice and position the company for a possible sale,” MacFarland says. “After assessing the financials and current solution set, I thought it was possible to grow…
Enterprise risk management (ERM) has become a big buzzword in business the past few years. However, corporate governance and compliance, which is how business executives utilize ERM, is really a traditional management function. “What’s new about it is that there’s market interest and significant value associated with an enterprise that has implemented true ERM,” says Alyssa Martin, a partner in Risk Advisory Services at Weaver. When an investment company is looking at an enterprise’s value, a consortium of banks are considering giving a syndicated loan, or companies are weighing a merger or acquisition, an ERM program increases the company’s intrinsic…
Friday, 03 January 2014 02:03

Weighing in on health care reform: Houston

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The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, often called the Affordable Care Act represents some of the most far-reaching government overhaul of the U.S. healthcare system since 1965 when Medicare and Medicaid came into being. It will be phased in over time, but a number of changes have been delayed and won’t be in effect until 2015. The act focuses on increasing the rate of health insurance coverage for American and reducing health care costs. Here’s what some area businesses have on their minds about health care reform as the time nears for the full impact of the ACA: Dana…
Monday, 23 December 2013 02:20

Out of the box: Walter Ulrich

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Emerging technology: HTC’s work with entrepreneurs and startup companies provides them with in-depth guidanceI started out as a geek, a technologist — I loved dealing with technology. But as I grew in my career, I realized that technology was only a means to an end and the end was to do something interesting, something that would help people, patients or companies succeed. So I became a business person, and I love being at the Houston Technology Center because it combines that little geek that is deep down inside me with the joy that I find in translating technology into commercial…
Monday, 23 December 2013 07:15

Working Globally: Linda Toyota

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‘As the World Turns:’ We can be more productive together if we are aware of cultural nuancesWhen I look at Houston, the title of the long-running television show, “As the World Turns,” comes to mind. Houston is undergoing an ethnic and cultural transformation and at the same time its reputation continues to grow as a place where people can dream and succeed.The city’s transformation into an international megalopolis has happened within the past few decades. The metropolitan region is now home to nearly 6 million people. This growth has been significant, but the nature of the growth is also of…
Taking an innovative idea, developing it and bringing it to fruition through an incubator/accelerator has proven to be the magic combination for Houston’s Rebellion Photonics. And it may totally change how leaks and explosive accidents are monitored on rigs and at refineries.The company recently took top honors for its Gas Cloud Imaging Camera in the inaugural Wall Street Journal StartUp of the Year competition of early stage companies. The 2013 winners of the competition were chosen from more than 24 startup companies and from more than 500 applications to participate in a 20-week competition. Company entrepreneurs were assessed on the…
Clark David Baker, president and CEO of the YMCA Of Greater Houston, doesn’t have to dig deep to find an example of how the YMCA assists future business leaders in the region. Benton Love, former president of Texas Commerce Bank, and Gerald Hines, founder and chairman of Hines, one of the world’s largest real estate companies, both share something in common besides success in their respective fields: Both at one point lived in housing provided through a Houston YMCA residential program. “We’re a people organization,” Baker says. “Therefore, we don’t make widgets; we build people.”The 37 YMCAs that comprise the…
Monday, 23 December 2013 01:42

Charitable Giving Front: Deena Carstens Munn

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Donate with a plan: Is charitable giving good for business, or just good business?Companies big and small are seeking ways to give back to their communities. As they do, they’re marrying corporate objectives with community needs, resulting in a victory for businesses and charities alike. The days of absently writing checks have passed and the era of strategic giving is upon us, which means more work for both parties.For companies, it means having a well thought out strategic plan for community investment, which includes internal and external engagement. For charities, it means they must better understand each company, their philanthropic…
Monday, 23 December 2013 01:24

Business Initiatives: John Allen

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Re-evaluate and refocus: These five resolutions for the New Year can help you tone up your businessIt’s 2014 and time to think about those New Year’s resolutions that can help you shape up. No, not your waistline — your bottom line. For many businesses, the past few years have been anything but kind. If you’re lucky, your company is still relatively fit — it may just need to tone up. Other companies, however, are far from peak condition.As a smart business owner, you know what you need to do to keep your company in shape, but like most of us,…
The communication between independent auditors and audit committee members of public companies will change in 2014 with Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) Auditing Standard No. 16.The PCAOB’s standard is effective for audits of fiscal years beginning after Dec. 15, 2012. “There’s an emphasis on two-way communication and the timeliness of communication,” says Dale Jensen, partner-in-charge of the Public Company Audit Practice at Weaver. “These requirements should only help the audit committee better understand the audit process and the results.” Smart Business spoke with Jensen about PCAOB Auditing Standard No. 16’s implementation and how it changes auditor responsibilities.How will communication…
Most everyone is aware of the seismic changes occurring in the health care industry. While the implementation of the Affordable Care Act is garnering most of the attention, a fundamental shift is occurring in the health care real estate business. Buoyed by a perfect storm — providers are receiving lower reimbursements, construction costs are rising, interest rates are slowly nudging up — hospitals and doctors are searching for ways to most effectively and efficiently treat patients as trends suggest there will be more health care services needed, but patients will make fewer facility visits. This requires a sea change in…
Houston is known for many things: rockets, energy, the Astrodome and Beyoncé. It is also one of the top-performing U.S. metropolitan areas as measured by nearly any business or economic indicator, making it a cost-effective and internationally competitive business environment. Houston is the fourth largest city and fifth largest Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) in the nation. Between 2000 and 2010, the Houston MSA increased its population by an impressive 26.1 percent, from 4.7 million residents to 5.9 million. Demographers agree that population growth will remain strong into the foreseeable future as domestic and international migration trends favor Houston’s geographical, cultural…
Most employees are far removed from the design and analysis of their compensation plans. Behind the scenes, the employer is investing time and resources in designing the plans that attract, retain and motivate top talent. While every company plans compensation packages differently, there are some core strategies that can be applied to attain success in recruitment and retention. You can plan big with these five strategies to building a successful employee compensation plan: 1. Communication is key. Good intentions behind the design of a compensation plan do not necessarily deliver the intended results. Communication is the driver. Management is responsible…
How well thought-out and executed is your customer engagement model? Is it something that has developed by default without proactive and deliberate thought? In your company, does every salesperson and service-delivery team member develop his or her own engagement model? Simple sales typically involve commodity items such as printers or copiers. The customer’s engagement with the seller ramps down quickly after the sale. Complex construction projects, medical treatment and legal representation are examples of complex sales. The customer is acutely dependent on the seller’s services once the deal is inked. The service the customer buys has a material impact on…
Ask any number of business leaders if his or her employees are satisfied with their jobs and the word “engagement” will probably be in the answer. It’s not just a coincidence; it’s an accepted fact that employees, who by freedom of choice have a desire to work in the best interests of the organization, will drive positive outcomes for the company. While employee engagement is not a new concept, it has received considerable attention in the last 20 years as one of the top management techniques that can have a significant impact on a business. Here are seven tips from…
In 2012, the energy sector spent $17.9 billion on global research and development, more than $6.6 billion of which was conducted in the U.S. Assuming small and midsize businesses perform 20 percent of the U.S. energy sector’s R&D, these companies could incur up to $1.3 billion in R&D expenditures, the benefits of which may not be fully realized because they underutilize the R&D tax credit, says Robert Henry, a partner in Tax and Strategic Business Services at Weaver. In addition, the R&D tax credit represents a permanent tax benefit; it reduces the overall effective tax rate as presented in generally…
Paul Sarvadi wanted to launch his company’s rebranding from Administaff to Insperity in the right way — in a big way. So he and his team rented Minute Maid Park and invited all 2,000 employees, some friends of the company and guests. Forbes publisher Steve Forbes was the guest speaker and NFL sportscaster Jim Nantz served as emcee. If all that fanfare wasn’t enough, the rebranding also leveraged the company’s 25th anniversary into the message. “It was a very high energy and exciting event,” Sarvadi says. “But at the same time, the rebranding was a little unnerving. It was kind…
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