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Wednesday, 28 February 2007 19:00

Consulting before retiring

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Retirement may look very different for baby boomers who are approaching an age at which the previous generation was already playing golf and moving into retirement communities. According to a new survey by Robert Half Technology, a leading provider of information technology professionals on a project and full-time basis, nearly half (46 percent) of chief information officers (CIOs) say they are likely to consider consulting or project work as a way to transition to retirement. The national poll included responses from more than 1,400 CIOs from a sample of U.S. companies with 100 or more employees. “Leaving full-time work, especially…
Wednesday, 28 February 2007 19:00

The Wallace file

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Age: 53 Born: Oklahoma City Education: Baccalaureate degree, hospital administration, Oklahoma Baptist University; graduate degree, health administration, Washington University, St. Louis What is the best business lesson you’ve learned? It’s leadership through service. The best way to lead is to serve. Employees are so responsive to a leader they think cares about them, values them and likes them, and treats them with dignity and respect and wants to help them do their jobs better. Too many leaders think they are the boss at the top and think they are overly important, that subordinates ought to serve them. That’s wrong. And…
Wednesday, 31 January 2007 19:00

Finding the solution

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The founders of EnterSys Group were not experts on growing a business when they launched the IT services company in 2000. “We were all good at selling ourselves,” says Kevin Graybill, the company’s executive chairman. “It’s been a different challenge to sell and grow the firm.” The group admitted this lack of knowledge and brought in a consultant with experience in helping businesses develop best practices with which to grow. “He got us to start looking at it from a business development perspective instead of just sales activity,” Graybill says. Revenue has grown from $10.9 million in 2003 to $15.2…
Sunday, 31 December 2006 19:00

Location, location, location

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` No business owner wants to be sued. Being sued is bad enough. But being sued in an unfriendly venue could be worse. There are times when plaintiffs file suits deliberately in courts that put the defendants in a disadvantageous position. Venues can sometimes be changed, however. “Defendants do have a say in where or in what type of court a lawsuit is adjudicated, although their choice is not unlimited,” says Darrell R. Greer, a partner with Godwin Pappas Langley Ronquillo LLP. “They have to make their preferences known well before the venue is finalized.” Smart Business spoke with Greer…
Sunday, 31 December 2006 19:00

Starting salaries on the rise

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Accounting and finance professionals are in strong demand, a trend that will continue into next year, according to the 2007 Salary Guide from Robert Half International, a specialized consulting and staffing services firm with six branches in the Houston area. The company publishes salary data annually based on an analysis of the thousands of job placements managed by its U.S. offices. Higher demand means, of course, higher salaries. According to the guide, base salaries for finance and accounting professionals are expected to increase, on average, by 3.8 percent in 2007. Financial professionals who will see the greatest gains in base…
Sunday, 31 December 2006 19:00

Checks & balances

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Sometimes, right before he heads into a meeting, TeleCheck Services Inc. president Brian Mooney writes a simple two-word message on his notepad: Just listen. To Mooney, listening is more than just the act of hearing people speak. It’s a skill that every president and CEO needs to hone. Without it, it’s virtually impossible to be an effective leader. “You have to constantly remind yourself to listen because we obviously all have views and opinions and want to share those,” Mooney says. Too often, CEOs fall into the trap of thinking they need to be the person who creates every idea,…
Friday, 24 November 2006 19:00

Sharing power

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  After two weeks on vacation in Taiwan followed by a week at a tradeshow, Mike Rydin realized HCSS Inc. could survive without him. When he returned, the company hadn’t slipped into bankruptcy, and the building hadn’t burned down. His employees had figured out what to do on their own. “From that point on, I delegated more because I knew they could do that,” says Rydin, president and CEO. As a result, the 75 employees at his software company have more authority and have helped the company continue to grow — it expects to hit $13.1 million in revenue this…
Wednesday, 25 October 2006 08:58

Alignment aids IT projects

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Business leaders recognize that networking, databases, data storage and communication are essential to running the organization, but are often hard-pressed to understand just how the IT infrastructure adds specific value to the business. Information technology projects are less likely than other business initiatives to have strong executive-level sponsorship, are performed out of sight of business users, and are more likely to rely on external resources. These are just a few factors that illustrate why IT projects need to be managed slightly differently than other business programs. “It’s much easier to manage an IT project successfully when people throughout the organization…
Tuesday, 24 October 2006 20:00

Franchising success

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 Nobody wants to learn about business from theories, so Deb Evans teaches franchisees of COMPUTERTOTS/COMPUTER EXPLORERS using her franchisee experience for the children’s technology education enrichment program. She continues to teach while also learning to delegate as president and CEO. Each day presents new opportunities for the growing the company, which hit $7.5 million in revenue last year and expects to grow more than 20 percent for 2006. Smart Business spoke with Evans about how she manages growth and works with franchisees to improve the company. How do you manage growth?We project how many franchises we would like to sell…
Wednesday, 20 September 2006 13:29

Bridging the gap

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When a company starts to feel the pain and burden of outdated software or systems within their business, it only then realizes the importance of information technology. The use of an IT company is usually a reactive approach to technology problems. “Today, it seems that businesses live or die based on the software they use, but success or failure usually has more to do with the way systems are developed and executed,” says Jim McAllister, practice manager - software engineering at Systems Evolution. Smart Business spoke with McAllister about how a company can work to bridge such gaps, the benefits…
Wednesday, 20 September 2006 13:03

Relocation considerations

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What does it take to successfully recruit top executives from outside the area? More than the promise of a plush office, a great salary and an impressive job title, according to a recent survey by Robert Half International, a staffing service specializing in accounting, finance and information technology fields. The survey, which polled 1,400 chief financial officers (CFOs) across the country, found that quality of life was the most-cited reason to take a job, followed closely by compensation. “Taking a new job in a new area is not a decision based solely on money,” says Tom Young, vice president of…
Wednesday, 20 September 2006 11:38

The Chambers file

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Age: 57 Born: Boston Education:Bachelor’s degree, English, Springfield College; MBA, Boston College First job:School teacher and coach, Newark, N.Y. Who has had a great influence on your business career?Our chairman, A.R. Ginn, whom I will be replacing next year, is a man I have learned a great deal from. He has an appreciation and genuine approach in understanding the men and women on the shop floor and what’s important to them. Whom do you admire most in business?A.R. Ginn, and a completely different guy, Dick Cheney. Working for both of them has been an incredible experience. I worked for Cheney…
Wednesday, 30 August 2006 09:46

Using your expertise

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According to a nationwide survey developed by Robert Half Management Resources, nearly one-third of all CFOs say a flexible schedule is the most attractive aspect of a career in consulting. The survey, conducted by an independent research firm, included responses from 1,400 CFOs from a stratified random sample of U.S. companies with more than 20 employees. “The demands of today’s financial executives are taking a toll on their work/life balance due to the number of hours they put in at the office,” says Scott Patenaude, vice president of the Houston Region of Robert Half Management Resources. Smart Business talked to…
Wednesday, 30 August 2006 07:43

The Lehne file

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Born: Jasper, Texas First job:I went to work right out of high school at Jasper Oil as an accounting clerk. What is the biggest business challenge you’ve faced, and how did you overcome it? Managing growth represents the single biggest challenge I have faced. Taking advantage of market opportunities as they arise is very important in expanding your operations providing due diligence is completed along with an honest assessment of what it will take in additional resources and capabilities to accommodate new acquisitions. As we have grown, I have enhanced the support services needed to effectively manage the business units…
Sunday, 30 July 2006 10:54

Appealling specialists

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One of the bright spots in the American judicial system is the appellate courts. If parties in lawsuits are not satisfied with the outcomes of their trials, they can appeal to higher courts. Today, with so many cases being resolved before going to trial, most cases reaching a trial tend to be significant cases. They also have a good chance of being appealed. Since success in appellate court is predicated to a great extent on the abilities of appellate specialists, it is wise to involve appellate attorneys before the trial process starts <m> and to select the ones best suited…
Friday, 30 June 2006 07:01

Customized continuing education

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Educators from coast to coast agree that flexibility and customization are two of the dominant current trends in executive education. “What I’ve seen in the past six years is a change from companies sending employees to open-enrollment programs to the companies cooperating with colleges and universities on customized training programs,” says Ben Welch, Ph.D., who directs the Center for Executive Development at Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School. The key for medium and large businesses is to find an executive MBA program or courses that fit the needs of the individual as well as the corporation. “It has been several…
Thursday, 29 June 2006 20:00

Breaking out of survival mode

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In May 2001, the month that John D. Chaney joined PreCash Inc., the company made $10,000, spent $1.6 million and was only weeks away from Chapter 11. And the employees knew nothing about it. “They thought the company had millions of dollars, and if someone flew first class or stayed in a hotel suite, it wasn’t a big deal,” Chaney says. “They had no perception of the reality of the company.” Chaney, chairman and CEO, focused PreCash’s efforts on a core group of products and instilled in his nearly 200 employees that they should treat every dollar spent as if…
Thursday, 25 November 2010 19:00

The Allen file

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Born: I was actually born in Salt Lake City, Utah, raised in Las Vegas, Nev., and I’ve been in Texas for 30 years. Education: Graduated from Brigham Young University in 1980 with a master’s degree in accountancyWhat was your first job, and what did you learn from it? I threw newspapers in Las Vegas to about 400 houses and condos all wrapped around the Las Vegas Country Club and learned that, man, some people live really well. I also learned that getting up at 2 in the morning to fold papers was not something I wanted to do the rest…
Sometimes when we judge a book by its cover, we are left wondering if what we got was worth the wait. In January, 2010, amid nearly a decade of rumors and promises, Apple announced one of its most groundbreaking products to date. So significant, that it has the potential to change the paradigm of the entire personal computer format. Even the name “iPad” represents more than just a product. It represents an “idea.” But ideas can be mere marketing fluff or truly the revolutionary shape of things to come.What separates an idea from a product is whether it is embraced…
Saturday, 25 September 2010 20:00

How to position your company for a business loan

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As dictated by their tightly regulated industry, banks are required to maintain certain ratios. If the asset quality of a bank has been adversely affected during the last few years, chances are, it will be limited in soliciting and acquiring new loans on its books due to regulatory capital requirements as well as loan loss reserve requirements. Even though the current administration is pressing banks to increase their lending activities, maintaining the required ratios is an inevitable barrier that’s keeping some banks from lending. Unfortunately, the banks do not have many options. They can raise capital by retaining earnings, perhaps…
It’s clearly a global marketplace, and companies are doing whatever they can to expand and thrive in overseas markets. But you can’t just set up shop overseas and start doing business. You need a plan, a strategy. Foreign exchange strategies are opportunities to increase profits and/or savings from business overseas. Companies doing business internationally may occasionally have the opportunity to transact in a foreign currency. This is an excellent opportunity to experiment with exchange rate risks and rewards. In this way, you create a possible exchange rate gain. And, the strategy works equally well for buyers and sellers. “A foreign…
Now more than ever before, business owners are focused. They’re focused on production, payables, receivables and, of course, the bottom line. In the past, a business owner may have passed bookkeeping and banking duties on to a staff member without giving it a second thought. Now, owners are adding oversight of their books and banking to their already long to-do lists. Many business owners are turning to their banks and utilizing treasury management services — online services that help companies accelerate cash flow, increase visibility and control over payments, reduce or eliminate exception handling, decrease exposure to fraud and lighten…
Friday, 25 June 2010 20:00

Company makeover

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Finalist Energy When Kemal Farid wrote Merrick Systems Inc.’s first software in 1989, he envisioned a company headed down a path of helping oil and gas companies with their tax management needs. Since then, the company has reinvented itself several times over. Today, Merrick is a software development and professional services company that caters to the upstream and midstream oil and gas industries’ production operations. Much of the company’s success and change has come from the fact that it serves as an incubator, listens to the oil industry’s needs and runs a lean operation. As president and CEO of Merrick,…
Friday, 25 June 2010 20:00

Compassionate leadership

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Finalist Business Services In 2004, a dishonest client refused to pay for six figures worth of services, threatening the future of Cindy Marion’s marketing, advertising and public relations firm. However, she refused to lay off any of Marion, Montgomery Inc.’s employees despite the huge hit that the company had taken. She also saw to it that all of her vendors were still paid for their work. By maintaining the company’s positive working relationship with its vendors and staying proactive, she led the company through a potentially devastating time. Clients and employees say they value this president and CEO’s dedication to…
Friday, 25 June 2010 20:00

Dream maker

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Finalist Technology When Juuhi Ahuja unsuccessfully interviewed for 20 positions after college, she knew there had to be a better way. Ahuja had been certain of her ability to find a rewarding career with her hard-earned business degree, but the job search proved more difficult than she expected. Knowing that there were many educated professionals out there just like her, Ahuja decided to help. After moving from New York City to Houston for her husband’s job, Ahuja began cultivating relationships and educating herself on the traits of a strong job search firm. The goal was to help people find their…
Friday, 25 June 2010 20:00

Reaching high

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Winner Technology Aa s a young man in southeast Texas, near the Mexican border, Edelmiro “Ed” Muniz remembers picking cotton in the fields and watching shiny metal machines soar overhead. Back then, few people would have guessed that Muniz would become an aerospace engineer and start MEI Technologies Inc., which today ranks as a top global organization for space manufacturing. He received a degree in engineering and served for 20 years in the U.S. Air Force, where as his last assignment before retirement, he served as commander of the First Manned Space Flight Control Squadron at the Johnson Space Center…
Friday, 25 June 2010 20:00

High gear

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Finalist Retail & Wholesale Mark Carr has continually set high standards of excellence for Christian Brothers Automotive Corp., and while at the helm of the organization for 28 years, he has led it to meet or exceed those standards every time. When Carr opened Christian Brothers in 1982, he had limited exposure to automotive repair, yet customers embraced his simple concept of being served by the on-site owner of the business. Customers also appreciated and enjoyed the honest and professional atmosphere that Carr created, a factor that helped his company stand out from the competition. Carr took the Christian Brothers…