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Wednesday, 26 December 2007 19:00

Helping employees retire early

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CEOs face monumental challenges when navigating issues surrounding their aging work force. In order to avoid the predicted brain drain caused by retiring baby boomers, many CEOs are orchestrating knowledge transfers between retiring employees and less-experienced workers, while other executives face retention issues with younger employees, as middle-aged managers stay longer and limit opportunities for up-and-comers. The best solution for CEOs is to control when workers retire. As it stands today, the baby boomers are in control of their retirement dates and many aged 55 to 65 are choosing to stay on the job longer because they just can’t afford…
Wednesday, 26 December 2007 19:00

The Bergeron file

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Born: Windsor, Ontario, Canada Education: Bachelor’s degree, computer science, York University, Toronto; master’s of science, University of Southern California What is the greatest business challenge you’ve faced, and how did you overcome it? When I bought VeriFone, the company was losing a lot of money. HP didn’t really want the company and the employees were demoralized and both the customers and the investors had lost faith in the company. In addition, the management team was awful and needed to be replaced. We were able to turn things around and turn a $5 million acquired investment into a company that has…
Sunday, 25 November 2007 19:00

Pasquale "Pat" Romano

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When 2Wire Inc. — the telecom company Pasquale “Pat” Romano co-founded in 1998 — was just about to take off, the wheels almost came off. It was March 2001, and the venture investing community decided to hide behind a rock for a year, Romano says, and companies were shutting down left and right because the funding pipeline had vanished. That turned out to be a blessing in disguise for 2Wire because by securing one strong financial backer when most companies had none, the company obliterated its competition. As president and CEO of 2Wire, Romano weathered the storm and grew his…
Friday, 26 October 2007 20:00

Jerry M. Kennelly

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When business at Riverbed Technology Inc. grew from $2 million in revenue in 2004 to $23 million in 2005, Jerry M. Kennelly was ecstatic. But when it jumped to $90 million in 2006, he had a problem. Sure, Kennelly, Riverbed’s chairman, president and CEO, was tickled with the results, but suddenly the staff that he and Steve McCanne started with was unable to keep up with the demands. As a result, he had to make some tough decisions about the wide-area data services company. With employee numbers mushrooming to almost 500, Kennelly had to put his personal affection for the…
Friday, 26 October 2007 20:00

The MacKenzie file

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Born: Blairgowrie, Scotland Education: Higher national diploma, mechanical and production engineering and an ordinary national diploma in electrical/electronics engineering, Fife University, Scotland What’s your biggest business challenge? Walking into a brand-new job on Day One. It’s horrible. It’s an uncomfortable, horrible, yucky thing. Everyone’s looking at you and just goes, ‘Well, I’ll wait to see what he wants.’ Overcoming it is just very quickly getting everyone on board. When you’re walking in to facilitate what’s broken and working, the people have low morale and self-esteem. I feel so sorry for them. As fast as possible, get around to every person…
Tuesday, 25 September 2007 20:00

Investment options

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Aleveraged recapitalization of one’s business provides liquidity for owners while retaining ownership and management control. Typically, the three key elements in obtaining financing for a leveraged recapitalization are consistent cash flow, a strong business plan and a solid management team. With these components in place, it is often in an owner’s best interest to do a recapitalization rather than sell the business outright. “Leveraged recapitalization offers business owners looking for personal liquidity some significant, distinct advantages over the sale of their business to a private equity firm or to a strategic buyer,” says Mike Silva, senior vice president and group…
Sunday, 26 August 2007 20:00

Jim Steele

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Jim Steele doesn’t want any of the lip service employees often give bosses. Steele wants to know exactly what’s going on, and hefinds that out by regularly getting on the front line with his team at salesforce.com inc. To Steele, president of worldwide sales anddistribution, the only way for a leader to really know the company is to see the trends up close and listen to the people who are fightingthe battles every day. That’s why he spends a big portion of his time at the on-demand customer relationship management servicescompany speaking to customers and getting feedback from its 2,000…
Sunday, 26 August 2007 20:00

The Johnson file

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Born: Clinton, Okla. School: I went to school in Siloam Springs, Ark. and Rio Linda, Calif. I took one semester at Spokane Community College after I got home from Vietnam. I thought I wanted to go to school, but I found out I really didn’t want to go to school. It just wasn’t for me. I wanted to go out and start working. What has been your biggest business challenge? I guess my biggest business challenge was not going to college. I think if I had it to do again, I probably would because I had to teach myself accounting…
Thursday, 26 July 2007 20:00

Checks and balances

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The ability to prevent fraud is crucial in a competitive marketplace. Check fraud, in particular, can have a major impact on a company’s bottom line. Certainly, the use of ACH (Automated Clearing House) transactions to transfer and process electronic funds is on the rise. According to the Electronic Payments Association, 16 billion payments were made in 2006 through the nationwide ACH network, an increase of approximately 14.5 percent over 2005. Safeguarding against check fraud — both traditional and electronic — requires diligence and determination, but new technologies are making the process simpler and more cost-effective. “Financial institutions offer tools that…
Thursday, 26 July 2007 20:00

The Hagerty file

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Born: New Rochelle, N.Y. Education: University of Massachusetts, bachelor of science, industrial engineering and operations research What is the best business lesson you have learned? People — talking to people, people leadership. I was trained in the technical fields and really resonated to that. You don’t get anything done without people. It could be the greatest invention in the world, but if you can’t talk to people, it’s going to sit in the closet. Childhood career aspiration: I probably didn’t know that I wanted to be an engineer, but I wanted to be involved in technology. I loved computers. They…
Monday, 25 June 2007 20:00

Information bank

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Ed Levine is in an industry with high turnover rates, but he’s making the best of it. Levine, founder and CEO of Left Bank Restaurant Group, a group of casual French restaurants that employs 400 people, says turnover can be difficult. “Turnover is tough on you,” he says. “You’re trying to imbue people with a sense of culture in your organization. If those people all leave after a year, that’s a lot of imbuing of culture.” Levine says Left Bank, which earned $21 million in revenue in 2006, is like a school for entrepreneurs who want to learn the restaurant…
Saturday, 26 May 2007 20:00

Growth goldmine

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Joe Gatto says the secret to his company’s success can be boiled down to having a better mousetrap in a market with a lot of money and mediocre mousetraps. Gatto is founder and CEO of StarMine, Inc., a 110-employee investment research firm that has grown 331 percent in the last three years. Since founding the company in 1998, he has expanded its client base to more than 400 firms. Smart Business spoke with Gatto about why it’s important to have a low bozo ratio at your business. Q: How would you describe your leadership style? I lead on product vision…
Wednesday, 25 April 2007 20:00

Brothers in arms

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In 1979, 16-year-old Andrew Ly immigrated to the United States from Vietnam with $1 in his pocket. Twenty-eight years later, he’s at the helm of a $42 million corporation. Upon arriving in the United States, Ly learned English, put himself through college and in 1984, pooled $40,000 with his four brothers to open the first Sugar Bowl Bakery. Today, the 400-employee Ly Corp. — the parent company of Sugar Bowl Bakery — is a thriving wholesale business, with customers ranging from the Costco chain of grocery stores to the luxury hotels of the San Francisco Bay, and is averaging revenue…
Monday, 26 March 2007 20:00

Clearing the<BR>paper jam

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When Guy Gecht began his job as chairman and CEO of Electronics for Imaging Inc. in 2000, the company had posted some great results and was experiencing financial growth, but about 97 percent of its revenue came from original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).  When these companies started developing products themselves, EFI’s services weren’t needed anymore. Revenue dipped from $588.5 million in 2000 down to $350.2 million in 2002. And while EFI, a digital imaging and print management solutions company, was still profitable, Gecht knew he needed to change its game plan to increase revenue and maintain profitability. He initially brought in…
Wednesday, 28 February 2007 19:00

King of the hill

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In 1993, Steve McDermott felt content with his company’s success, but thought maybe he should do more. He hired a PR firm to see if Hill Physicians Medical Group, an HMO with 3,000 physicians serving more than 350,000 patients, should have any marketing work done. The firm started by surveying the physicians who comprised the group, and the results were surprising. “They don’t feel very good about you,” the firm told him. McDermott, CEO, wanted to find out why, and what he could do to change the situation, so he surveyed the doctors to gauge their likes and dislikes and…
Wednesday, 31 January 2007 19:00

The Peterschmidt file

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Born: Fort Madison, Iowa Education: Bachelor of arts degree, University of Missouri; MBA, Chapman College, Orange, Calif. First job: Paper route Whom do you admire most in business? Lou Gerstner, who formidably turned IBM around on his own terms. When Wall Street and his own internal management team were advising him that the best strategy was to sell the company off, he resisted both internal and external pressures and made his own determination as to what needed to get done. He stayed the course with strong will and courage, and was ultimately successful in his resolve. What has been your…
Wednesday, 31 January 2007 19:00

The benefits of outsourcing

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As companies sink their teeth into the new year, it may be time to perform a profitability review. The competition is heating up, and many mid-size companies are consolidating costs and streamlining operations to compete with larger organizations. When was the last time you took a close look at the functions of each department in your operation? A thorough review may identify departments that are perennial cost centers, departments that have transitioned from a profit center to a cost center, or functions like financial and SEC reporting may be perfect candidates for an outsourcing partnership. “It’s an opportunity to find…
Sunday, 31 December 2006 19:00

Cathy Baron Tamraz

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Cathy Baron Tamraz has spent 26 years with Business Wire, and she works hard to make it a place where her employees will want to spend a long time, too. Offering perks such as a company condo in Hawaii that employees can use creates an environment that people want to be part of. Tamraz figures that if she takes care of her 500 employees, they’ll take care of the $130 million commercial news distribution company. Smart Business spoke with Tamraz, president and CEO of Business Wire, about the secret to retaining employees. Understand people. I’m all about the people that…
Sunday, 31 December 2006 19:00

Sourcing, manufacturing, selling

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China is the fastest-growing importer and exporter for the United States. Chinese citizens are experiencing greater earning power, which in turn has led to huge demand for consumer products and services. The economic strength and population provide opportunities for American companies interested in doing business in China. “There are three ways for American manufacturers to do business and make money in China: sourcing, manufacturing and selling,” explains Helen Huang, vice president and chief representative of the Comerica Bank Shanghai Representative Office, which opens this summer. “Most American companies understand the advantage of reducing costs via a China strategy, and more…
Tuesday, 11 January 2011 19:00

Changing technology

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If someone told you that you could drop your operating costs by 40 percent, would you listen? If that same person said you could save between $70 and $150 per user per year in energy savings alone if you tried something new, would you try it?A lot of companies are listening, and those same businesses are trying something new — cloud computing and software as a service (SaaS) — and reaping the many benefits, which start with the aforementioned cost savings.“It’s about saving money, and there’s a tremendous amount of money to be saved, because if you look at IT…
Sunday, 26 December 2010 19:00

Uncover opportunities

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Mark Woodward is trading in-your-face sales pitches for a few extra finger exercises. That’s why, when you visit the website of E2open Inc., you’ll go three clicks in before you even see a product name.Right away, though, you’ll learn about the broader problems that E2open aims to solve with its cloud-based supply chain management solutions that enable visibility, collaboration and control across large trading partner networks.“Where many companies fall down is … [they] get really hung up with the details of their products and get enamored with the widget they’ve created,” says Woodward, president and CEO. “They go out and…
Sunday, 26 December 2010 19:00

Angel investors are pretty much everywhere

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Are you looking for equity investors to grow your business? If so, I hope you’re not walking around wondering where you can find these investors. Because they’re pretty much everywhere. Let me explain. To begin, there are two main types of investors: individual investors and institutional investors. Individual investors are investors who invest their own money in companies. They are better known as “angel investors.” Institutional investors, on the other hand, are investors who invest their company’s or other people’s money. The largest class of institutional investors for entrepreneurs are known as “venture capitalists.” Now, the vast majority of entrepreneurs…
Thursday, 25 November 2010 19:00

3 Questions

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Stephen D. Mayer is the founder, chairman and CEO of Burr Pilger Mayer. He has more than 35 years of industry experience, during which he has worked with individuals and private and public businesses, and he has touched almost every area of the firm’s practice areas of accounting, tax, consulting and wealth management. His focus areas include audit services, mergers and acquisitions, individual tax planning, and wealth management. Q. What can an accounting firm do to help its business clients come out of the recession in sound financial condition? There are 80 million people out there who work with CPAs…
Tuesday, 26 October 2010 20:00

Protecting your wealth with a trust

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Most executives are accustomed to carefully planning for the future of their business. But when it comes to planning for the future of their own wealth, these same executives are often not familiar with their choices or the potential risks of inaction. This can prove to be a big mistake, says Dexter Lowry, a certified financial planner at Union Bank in San Francisco. “If you’re passionate about your business, you should be equally as passionate about protecting it in the event of your death or disability,” says Lowry. Smart Business spoke with Lowry about how trusts can help protect your…
After two years of declining compensation, weary U.S. executives should be thrilled by projections of a modest increase in their average pay for 2010. But with shareholders, legislators and media watchdogs fixated on executive paychecks and layers of new regulations on the horizon, companies are still striving to fine tune compensation programs and strengthen the link between executive pay and performance. A June flash survey of 251 companies by Towers Watson revealed that few were prepared to submit their executive pay practices to a shareholder vote as mandated by the new financial services reform bill. Although companies are waiting for…
Imagine if you had more than doubled your company’s revenue and employee count over the last five years. Imagine if you had increased your customer base by 80 percent and increased your annual profitability by 800 percent in that same period. And if you’re a public company, imagine if your stock had appreciated 300 percent, as well. These numbers are Sohaib Abbasi’s reality. When he took over Informatica Corp. (NASDAQ: INFA) as chairman and CEO in July 2004, the data integration company was on its way to finishing the year with $219.7 million in total revenue and a net loss…
Thursday, 26 August 2010 20:00

The Portnoy file

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Born: New JerseyEducation: Franklin & Marshall College; Lancaster, Pa.First job: My first job was at a bakery, and I learned how to make jelly doughnuts. Not something that you want to share. I was 15 probably.What did you learn that still applies? That’s an interesting question — in any retail business, it’s about being responsive to clients and quick to move. It was a fun experience, but it was pretty demanding. And really, every job that you have you have to take with a level of seriousness in order to be successful, and I think that that was as true…
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