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Monday, 23 February 2009 19:00

Company change

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With the slumping economy, Greg Beyerl decided there was only one way for his company to grow: through acquisitions. As president and CEO of Sign Craft Industries, Beyerl set a goal in early 2008 to reach $10 million in revenue by 2010. Since then, the sign company has acquired two of its competitors and posted 2008 revenue of $5.3 million, and Beyerl projects 2009 revenue of $9 million, putting the company well within reach of its goal for 2010. Because Beyerl was already familiar with the customers and management teams of the acquired companies, a large component of the transition…
Monday, 26 January 2009 19:00

The Richardson file

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Born: Anderson, Ind. Education: Purdue University, bachelor’s degree, pharmacy What was your first job? I was a paperboy for The Indianapolis News for five years. Just before my 16th birthday, there was a gentleman who owned an independent retail pharmacy in Anderson. He said, ‘When you get your driver’s license, come see me, and I’ll give you a job in the pharmacy.’ Whom do you admire most in business and why? I have a lot of respect for Bill Gates because much like the product we are trying to take to market, Bill had a vision for computers back when…
Friday, 26 December 2008 19:00

Clear communication

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Ellen Annala says that to communicate effectively,you need clarity — clarity of vision, clarity in your messages and an ability convey your messages in different forms. You also need to show your employees that communication is a two-way street — that they can access you as easily as you can access them, says the president and CEO of United Way of Central Indiana. Clarity and accessibility are crucial themes for Annala at her $58 million community service organization as she works to keep internal staff and external volunteers following the same path toward the same over-arching goals. “There are a…
Friday, 26 December 2008 19:00

The Dawes file

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Born: Hawthorne, Calif. Education: B.A. in religion, Taylor University, Upland, Ind.; master’s degree in health administration, Indiana University What is the best business lesson you’ve learned? To change my mind about something. I might have a great idea, believe that it is the best thing we can do, and I’m convinced of it in my own mind. But others talk to me, communicate with me, go through it and so on, and I become convinced that I need to change my mind, that it wasn’t the way I thought. What traits or skills are essential for a business leader? I’d…
Sunday, 26 October 2008 20:00

Integrating health

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As our national health care costs reach $74 billion per year, wellness programs are in place at nearly every midsize and large business across the country. For wellness programs to truly become a solution for controlling health care costs, the programs must be well integrated into the benefit design and company culture, says Sally Stephens, president of Spectrum Heath Systems. Well-integrated programs will eliminate confusion and provide the best outcomes. Integration can create a healthy corporate culture that motivates rather than stimulates fear, says Stephens. Business owners should strive to make the programs personalized and easy to access so that…
Thursday, 25 September 2008 20:00

The Brown file

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Born: Fort Meade, Md. Education: Indiana University, bachelor’s degree, physics; master’s degree, computer science; medical degree Whom do you admire most in business and why? Steve Jobs — he does an excellent job of working with the creative people in his company to do really astounding, innovative things. What was your first job? Delivering The Indianapolis News when I was 12, for three or four years. I learned to avoid mean dogs. What’s the best business advice you’ve ever received? To trust my own judgment. Early on, I had a tendency to sometimes defer to the judgment of people with…
Tuesday, 26 August 2008 20:00

Setting the example

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To Bill Godfrey, good leaders don’t just lead; good leaders teach others how to lead. The chairman and CEO of Aprimo Inc., a marketing software company that posted 2007 revenue of $58 million, calls himself a competitive, entrepreneurial leader, and he wants to develop the same qualities in employees throughout the company. “Fundamentally, I believe that people do what people see, and because of that, I try to lead by example and use good judgment,” says Godfrey, who co-founded the company with Robert McLaughlin in 1998. Leading by example means communicating — and doing so in person whenever possible. It…
Tuesday, 26 August 2008 20:00

The Carpenter file

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Born: Barstow, Calif. Education: Bachelor of arts degree, biology, Indiana University; master’s degree, plant physiology, Purdue University Whom do you admire most in business and why? Richard Branson is a really intriguing person. I just find the way he has combined his personal and his company growth and his unlimited vision is just completely intriguing. He’s just been an amazing businessperson as well as being involved in his other pursuits outside of his business life. What’s the best business lesson you’ve ever learned? It’s having a mission for your company and organizing everything around that to be successful. What was…
Saturday, 26 July 2008 20:00

Real estate leases

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untitled IND_20-23_IN_0808 7/23/08 2:10 PM Page 20 Insights Legal Affairs Understanding the difference between landlord leases and tenant leases Most every business has a lease on its property, unless it’s lucky enough to have paid it off and owns the property outright. But not every business knows the difference between standard landlord leases and tenant leases. This is not unimportant stuff, says Alexa Woods, a partner at Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP in Indianapolis who concentrates her practice in the field of commercial real estate as well as corporate law and business transactions, especially when it comes to disputes that…
Wednesday, 25 June 2008 20:00

Situational leadership

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Eric Ellsworth believes in being a situational leader. Whatever the situation calls for from a leadership standpoint — be it a collaborator or a consensus builder or having a more take-charge mindset — the president and CEO of the $33 million YMCA of Greater Indianapolis wants to react with the right approach. Ellsworth says that having an adaptable leadership approach begins with an ability to assess any given situation, and that begins with taking time to think and mentally prepare before you step into a situation. That can be difficult, especially as business leaders find themselves with more and more…
Monday, 26 May 2008 20:00

The Tognoni file

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Born: Phoenix Education: Bachelor of science degree, engineering, University of Arizona; MBA, international finance, Thunderbird School of Global Management, Glendale, Ariz. What is the best business advice you have ever received? Focus on making your boss successful; this will make you successful. Whom do you admire most in business and why? Jack Welch [because] he defined how to build the most successful and functional modern management culture when he ran General Electric. Tognoni on asking questions: One of the things I try to educate people on is that it’s not that hard to learn some of the basics of finance…
Friday, 25 April 2008 20:00

Just one of the guys

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Sam Smith used to have his own office, but when his company relocated to a new space that was twice as big, he downsized to a cube. “I sit in a cube just like all the other employees,” says Smith, co-founder, principal and CEO of RESOURCE Commercial Real Estate LLC. “I don’t have an open-door policy because I don’t have a door. I get a lot of hellos and goodbyes, and if people have a question, they walk right in. We welcome that kind of open communication.” Smith does not see his role at the 28-employee full-service commercial real estate…
Wednesday, 26 March 2008 20:00

Dissecting new tax laws

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Many businesses are going “green” out of environmental consciousness and a desire to be more appealing to customers. But there is another reason to go “green.” The United States government is offering incentives in order to motivate those businesses that need a push in the “green” direction. One of those incentives is the commercial buildings tax deduction, a tax incentive housed within the Energy Policy Act of 2005. In order to earn this deduction, businesses must adhere to a few qualifications. Smart Business asked David Guevara, J.D., Ph.D., associate and member of Sommer Barnard PC’s Environmental Law and Litigation Practice…
Tuesday, 11 March 2008 20:00

Business pulse

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The Indianapolis economy is showing signs of slower growth, even while recording several positive trends. For example, the local unemployment rate has declined. Home sales decreased in the Midwest in the last year, as did the number of housing permits in Indianapolis. Travel and tourism has softened; airline passenger volume at the Indianapolis International Airport decreased substantially. Another indicator of a weakening economy, industrial electricity usage, is also off pace from last year. Download a PDF of the Business Pulse page here. Business Pulse data is compiled by the Indiana Business Research Center at Indiana University's Kelley School of Business.
Sunday, 24 February 2008 19:00

Encouraging healthy living

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If a stranger were to hand you $1,000 and told you to spend it however you wish, you may spend it more recklessly than you would if you had worked 40 hours for that money. It is likely that if you are dealing with money for which you worked, you will be more responsible and spend reasonably. That is how many business owners are viewing employee health benefits these days, utilizing consumer-driven health (CDH) plans to shift the overall responsibility of health care to the employee. It is inevitable that employees will be increasingly more responsible, both financially and through…
Tuesday, 29 January 2008 19:00

Staying inconsistent

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While many business leaders preach consistency of message, Fred Merritt subscribes to a different philosophy when it comes to communication. The president and CEO of $65 million Riverside Manufacturing LLC — a manufacturer of harsh environment electrical products — says that if you concentrate too hard on keeping every message to your employees the same, you run the risk of creating a drone mentality in which no one brings new ideas to the table. You also run the risk of becoming predictable, allowing certain employees to take advantage of your system. If you can create an approach that is unpredictable…
Tuesday, 29 January 2008 19:00

The Gutwein file

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Born: Monon, Ind. Education: Bachelor of arts degree, economics, Indiana University; J.D., Indiana University Whom do you admire most in business and why? Ernest Shackleton. He, supposedly for business reasons, was an explorer who got stuck on the South Pole and was there for almost two years. In the process of being stuck down there on the ice, he eventually rescued his crew and didn’t lose a single person in this odyssey. He was just an incredible leader of his people and was completely committed to his people. To me, he’s been an enormous study in leadership. What was your…
Wednesday, 26 December 2007 19:00

The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act

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Business has become increasingly international and, because of that, U.S. businesses have become exposed to laws that govern overseas business. One of those laws is the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), which prohibits the bribery of foreign government officials. The penalties for violating this act can be harsh, according to Trent Sandifur, member of Sommer Barnard’s Intellectual Property and Litigation Practice Groups. Smart Business spoke with Sandifur about the specifics of the FCPA and what businesses need to do to stay in compliance. What is the FCPA? The FCPA prohibits the bribery of foreign government officials for the purpose of…
Wednesday, 26 December 2007 19:00

Breaking down barriers

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When Robert Claxton saw higher energy costs creating a renewed interest in energy conservation, he knew it was a major opportunity for his company. Claxton, president of North American operations for Knauf Insulation, a manufacturer of fiberglass insulation, also knew that it was going to require getting everyone to understand what individual role he or she would play in the company’s overall plan. “If our employees don’t understand — and I’m not just talking about employees at the top, I’m talking about every employee — if we don’t communicate what that proposition is and how they fit in to that,…
Sunday, 25 November 2007 19:00

Dave Lindsey

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Think big, but communicate small. It’s a concept that Dave Lindsey, founder, president and CEO of Defender Security Co. — a security systems dealer with 2006 revenue of $55 million — says gets lost by some business leaders. While you have to keep your eyes on the horizon and your mind on the wide-ranging, long-term goals that will define your business, you also have to constantly remember that your employees aren’t thinking the same way you are, nor should they have to. As the leader, your job is to take the big-picture concepts and drive them down to those who…
Sunday, 25 November 2007 19:00

The Rao file

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Born: India Education: Osmania University, Hyderabad, India, Bachelor’s degree, electrical engineering; University of Missouri, master’s degree, electrical engineering; Ball State University, MBA Rao on strong customer relationships: We used to write letters to send information to customers. But we found out very soon that people don’t read. You send the letter, and it doesn’t mean anything. First, you send a letter and make sure you follow it by a telephone call and let them know what they got in the letter. Then you send a staff person or your PR people and talk, talk, talk. We always believe in face-to-face…
Friday, 26 October 2007 20:00

Business process Rx

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A business process is a lot like driving to work. You’re trying to get from point to point in the most efficient manner but traffic, construction and detours often hinder your trip. Having a road map and navigation technology can help manage the trip. Business process management, or BPM, is about making critical business processes more agile and efficient by improving or automating these processes. “There are a lot of business processes that are not addressed by the way of their ability to be improved or automated,” says Bill Russell, executive vice president, Allegient. “The emerging business process management tool…
Friday, 26 October 2007 20:00

HSA advantages

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Companies are constantly looking to reduce expenses. A Health Savings Account (HSA) is a cost-saving approach that business owners should consider. A wellness program paired with an HSA can help your company save money on health care costs, according to Sally Stephens, president of Spectrum Health Systems. Prevention should be a key component of any initiative by providing greater information to consumers because, without an action plan of how to live a healthier lifestyle, information doesn’t improve health outcomes. An HSA is a high-deductible medical insurance plan bundled with a savings account. Cash contributions made to an HSA are tax-deductible,…
Tuesday, 25 September 2007 20:00

Don Brown

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Don Brown believes that the most important thing a business leader can do is to stay real: Stay real with your customers, your employees and your managers. When you have bad news, deliver it quickly and in full, says the founder, chairman, president and CEO of Interactive Intelligence Inc. If you dance around the topic, speculation will take root instead, and the situation will fester. Likewise, broadcast good news just as quickly, as few things motivate people like the knowledge that their work is producing wins. Brown says your authenticity as a leader comes down to your willingness to communicate…
Tuesday, 25 September 2007 20:00

The Canada file

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Born: Phenix, Va. Education: Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Va., bachelor of science degree, business management; Virginia Commonwealth University, MBA What is the greatest business challenge you’ve ever faced? As a manager, the biggest challenge was moving to Indiana. My wife and I were both from a small town. I had a very secure job with Farm Bureau in Virginia. The challenge of picking up and moving to take on a bigger challenge here in Indiana where I didn’t know anybody and had a staff where I needed to earn their respect. A big key was just to come in and…
Sunday, 26 August 2007 20:00

Software application testing

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Software companies are continuing their move toward decoupling, building component sets or services that work with other packages in a much more complex model. “Testing is taking on an increasingly important role,” says Bill Russell, executive vice president, Allegient. “But a lot of companies minimized their testing competency while they were implementing the big, monolithic software packages.” Smart Business spoke with Russell about how a dynamic testing strategy, the right team and the latest tools can lead to quality assurance and a seamless transition for end users. When should application testing strategies first be considered? The axiom around testing is…
Sunday, 26 August 2007 20:00

Battling obesity

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The health risks associated with obesity present unprecedented challenges to large employers by increasing health care costs and making health coverage less affordable for small and medium employers. This is particularly evident when the indirect and direct costs of obesity are considered in tandem with the link between obesity and the most expensive, chronic health care conditions. “With almost two-thirds of the U.S. adult population either overweight or obese, America is experiencing an obesity epidemic,” says Sally Stephens, president of Spectrum Health Systems. “The simple reason why obesity is on the rise is that many people eat too much and…