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Tuesday, 28 February 2006 11:20

Doing business with China

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The United States purchases more than $85 billion in Chinese products each year. Virtually every major consumer product retailer in America is sourcing at least part of its product line from China, because it has the labor rates and technical know-how to produce many products for pennies on the dollar, compared to U.S.-sourced products. In 2002, China surpassed the U.S. as the world’s leading destination for foreign investment. Now a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), many of China’s restrictions on foreign investment have been eased or eliminated. Nonetheless, foreign investments there remain highly regulated by the Chinese government.…
Tuesday, 31 January 2006 12:31

Adapt and thrive

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Surviving in a modern marketplace is no easy task, especially when your business focuses on serving others. Changing customer needs, regulatory issues, labor costs, evolving technology and competitive pressure all can work against your chances for success. John Brennan, chairman, president and CEO of Newtown, Pa.-based ICT Group Inc. understands the challenges an unpredictable marketplace presents, and he knows you have to adapt to survive — and adapt to thrive. ICT is in the business of managing other companies’ customer relationships, and Brennan understands the same strategies he helps his clients with also apply to steering his own organization through…
Friday, 27 January 2006 10:38

Strong medicine

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If it weren’t for Arthur Bedrosian, Lannett Co. Inc. might not be around today to stake its claim as the oldest generic drug company in the United States. The company was stagnating, suffering from a lack of leadership, and its larger competitors were threatening to trounce it when Bedrosian took over as president in 2001, Since then, he’s shaken up the once-moribund company by pushing hard to get new drug applications to the Food and Drug Administration for approval and by looking for niche products and dosage forms to create new revenue streams. Bedrosian hired experienced staff to put together…
Wednesday, 28 December 2005 10:50

The Alter File

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Born: The East Oak Lane section of Philadelphia Education: Temple University First job: Working in the family business, Advanta Corp., which was called TSO Financial when his father founded it in 1951 What is your greatest business challenge?Finding and motivating good people. Always, whatever it is in life, the most important thing is people. What is the most important business lesson you have learned?Be humble. Someone is doing better than you somewhere all the time. You just may not know it yet. Whom do you admire most in businesss and why? I admire my parents. My dad founded the business…
Tuesday, 27 December 2005 19:00

Family business succession planning

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Privately held family businesses account for 60 percent of the total employment in the United States and 78 percent of all new U.S. jobs. But as the baby boomer generation approaches retirement age, are they ready to pass the torch to their sons and daughters? While most family business operators believe the concept of future leadership is important, very few have developed the necessary leadership and training plans to ensure their family business survives to future generations, says Mario O. Vicari, a CPA who heads up the family business practice at the Horsham, PA-based accounting firm, Kreischer Miller. “Creating a…
Monday, 26 December 2005 19:00

Spada named Stonebridge president, CEO

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Joseph C. Spada was appointed president and CEO of Stonebridge Bank. Spada has more than 30 years of experience. He previously worked as executive vice president of Blue Ball National Bank and executive vice president of the Bank of Baltimore. Spada earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering administration from the University of Delaware. He also completed his MBA in finance at Loyola College and attended the National School of Banking at Brown & Fairfield Universities. Spada began his career with the Bank of Baltimore, where he spent 18 years. He started as a management trainee in 1973 and worked his…
Tuesday, 29 November 2005 09:09

Rebooting the machine

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Three years ago, SAP America was the kid sister of its global parent, Walldorf, Germany-based SAP AG. The American unit was sturdy but still developing — a strong competitor in the integrated business software space but falling behind SAP AG in earnings growth. “We needed a turnaround,” says Bill McDermott, who joined SAP America in 2002 as its president and CEO. “SAP America was a fledgling operation.” The U.S. division, headquartered in Newtown Square, Pa., was founded in 1988 and was an under-performing arm until McDermott took over. McDermott made sweeping changes in his first 100 days: He recruited a…
Wednesday, 23 November 2005 04:33

New adventures

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The business community in the Delaware Valley has long been a strong supporter of quality education for secondary students at all levels. Creating successful business partnerships with education organizations requires four essential elements. First, businesses need to become active partners based on their core business practices and values. Second, businesses can commit human and other resources to programs that will foster long-term relationships. Third, by supporting the development of creative programs that help motivate students to learn, they can impact performance in the classroom. And last, business and education can together bring alive the connection of learning, skills development and…
Wednesday, 02 November 2005 05:37

Service-oriented architecture

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Perhaps you’ve heard your IT staff mention service-oriented architecture. What is it? Does it add value to your business? Do you care? Yes, you do. What is it?In a nutshell, service-oriented architecture (SOA) is an old — but overlooked — way to design distributed information technology applications so they align with business needs and processes instead of technology needs. A service is a software function (such as verifying a customer number) that is well-defined, self-contained, has stable and well-defined interfaces, and runs according to a well-defined policy, regardless of where the service resides. This self-containment is the main advantage of…
Wednesday, 02 November 2005 05:20

We are family

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If Victor Finnegan weren’t president and CEO of Philadelphia-based American Expediting Co., he would love to be a waiter. “You’re serving people and making them happy. That’s what I enjoy about my business. We’re doing something that makes people happy,” says Finnegan about his 22-year-old provider of rush and same-day time-critical package delivery services. “It’s very gratifying to be given this task and complete it. Even though the customer isn’t calling, you know you’ve made them happy.” Finnegan’s biggest challenge is finding Type A personalities to join his staff at 19 locations serving the continental United States. “It’s a hustle-and-bustle…
Wednesday, 28 September 2005 07:48

IT in the driver's seat?

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It’s budget season — time to review revenue, expenses, forecasts and actuals to plan for 2006. As you prepare next year’s budget, you may ask, why are information technology initiatives so costly? Why can’t I see a concrete benefit from this investment? Why should I invest more in IT, given other funding demands? Mistakes of the pastInformation technology departments everywhere are haunted by the past: was the Y2K threat real? How did the dot-com boom get out of hand? Too many projects were over promised and under delivered. Companies invested heavily in technology before truly understanding it, and before having…
Wednesday, 28 September 2005 05:47

Making leisure work

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A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing. It can also be a tremendous asset. Just ask Tina Krinsky, wife of Julian Krinsky, founder and CEO of the Julian Krinsky Group, a diverse assortment of businesses that offer summer camp programs, real estate management, resort consulting and HR staffing services. “Julian didn’t come from a camping background, he didn’t come from America, he didn’t know any of that, but he did know kids, he did know they have time off in the summer, and he just brought that new, fresh approach to it, and I think it served him well,”…
Monday, 22 August 2005 20:00

Medicine man

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Like a booster shot that pinches, stings and leaves an arm tender for a day or two, significant supply chain changes can cause companies to flinch. But those uncomfortable side effects are simply a byproduct of industry evolution, whether consolidation, acquisition or changes in the way products get from Point A to Point B. R. David Yost, CEO of AmerisourceBergen Corp., knows that short-term pain is generally a prerequisite for long-term success. As head of one of the “big three” pharmaceutical distributors, Yost’s responsibilities in steering a $50 billion corporation extend beyond his own balance sheet. Many times, this means…
Tuesday, 23 August 2005 05:37

Pro bono, pro business

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Community spirit is contagious, and good works give clients with an altruistic conscience more reason to do business with a law firm. Pro bono legal counsel is paying off for Blank Rome, where the benefits are twofold — associates can marry their profession with their passion for a cause, and Philadelphia organizations gain access to legal representation, says Kathy Ochroch, associate and pro bono director for Blank Rome. “As attorneys, we have an ethical duty to ensure that everyone, regardless of income, has access to justice,” she says. “We have special skill sets we can provide to the community to…
Friday, 29 July 2005 07:36

Risky business

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If there is a single word that describes what animates the culture at the Graham Co., it could very well be “scrutiny.” Meticulous attention to detail dominates when it comes to selecting employees, evaluating clients’ risks and simply conducting the day-to-day work at the insurance brokerage. Not surprisingly, that preoccupation with particulars starts at the top of the organization. Says Bill Graham, chairman and CEO: “I’m the most compulsive individual you’ll ever meet.” The extraordinary attention to detail isn’t excessive, given the Graham Co.’s business. The company goes after clients who are the riskiest of the risky. Contractors doing steel…
Thursday, 28 July 2005 20:00

Changes in the Patent Act of 2005

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The Patent Act of 2005, working its way through Congress, promises to change patent law in many significant ways that affect businesses. Although the change in priority from the current first-to-invent to the first-to-file has received the most attention, several other provisions in the patent reform legislation relating to third-party protests and remedies for infringement may have a greater impact on the decisions facing businesses. Although the legislation is subject to change as it works its way through Congress, some of the key changes are discussed below. First-to-invent The United States has long followed the policy that a patent for…
Thursday, 30 June 2005 06:09

Movers & Shakers

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National Penn elected Robert L. Byers to the boards of National Penn Bancshares Inc. and National Penn Bank. He serves a three-year term. Byers is founder and chairman of Byers' Choice Ltd., creators of the Caroler figurines, a line of Christmas collectibles. Byers formed the company in 1978 with his wife and directed its day-to-day operations until his semi-retirement in 2000. Byers has served as a director or trustee of organizations including Drexel University, The National Liberty Museum, Salvation Army, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, The World Affairs Council and Teach for America. He was a founder and director of…
Thursday, 30 June 2005 05:48

Good to great

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In search of fat-free operations, companies look for places to pinch costs, tighten resources, save time and ultimately, sustain a healthy bottom line.It's a process that IKON Office Solutions knows well. The $4.65 billion company, the world's largest independent channel for document management systems and services, tackles the issue for its clients every day, turning up pounds of unnecessary paper flow. Now chairman and CEO Matthew Espe, who earned his management stripes at General Electric Co., is putting those same management principles to work at IKON."Clearly, the slower economy we've all experienced has people focusing more on efficiency and productivity…
Monday, 23 May 2005 20:00

The science of M&A

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There's no science behind a deal, a true merger or acquisition. Stanley Foster Reed's classic book, "The Art of M&A: A Merger Acquisition Buyout Guide," makes that clear. Deals are like everything else, and things just don't always work out the way they should. There are three things that screw up deals people, people and people. That's an oversimplification, because many things other than people can complicate deals, but it is usually the players involved who add the complexity. Accordingly, here is a four-part plan to help you reduce M&A deal risk. * Deal people. Surround yourself with people who…
Tuesday, 24 May 2005 07:54

Movers & Shakers

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Comcast nominated Edward D. Breen as an independent director of Comcast Corp. Breen will be added to the slate of 11 incumbent directors for election at the company's annual meeting of shareholders. Following the meeting, if all director nominees are elected, independent directors will constitute eight of 12 members of Comcast's board. Breen is chairman and CEO of Tyco International Ltd. He joined Tyco in 2002 after serving as president and COO of cable industry leading supplier Motorola Inc. He began working at Motorola in 2000, when General Instrument Corp., of which he was chairman, president and CEO, merged with…
Monday, 23 May 2005 20:00

Cashing in

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Cash is the lifeblood that runs through the veins of every construction company. Unfortunately, many contractors are more comfortable bidding jobs and dealing with problems and technical matters in the field than with collecting the money they are owed. However, the ability to find and maintain a positive cash flow remains at the heart of the most successful contractors. More contractors go out of business because of a lack of cash flow than a lack of backlog or profit. Contractors do not have to be in business to make money but they do have to make money in to stay…
Sunday, 24 April 2005 20:00

Spring cleaning time

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It may be too late to affect your 2004 tax return, but it's never too early to start thinking about this year's return. Some surprises are fun, but a surprise on a tax return isn't -- such as unexpectedly having to cut a big check, paying penalties for not paying in enough throughout the year or getting a huge refund - in other words, giving the government an interest-free loan. A tax projection will help determine whether to adjust withholdings or estimated payments to avoid these and other negative surprises. Also, if you are anticipating fluctuations in income or a…
Sunday, 24 April 2005 20:00

Public treasure

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On the surface, Rebecca Rimel's days at Pew Charitable Trusts appear fair-weathered -- peaceful, really. Despite the number of issues the Trust deals with, ranging from tsunami aid to arts endowment, the Trust's office space hums without clattering.Don't expect a blow-up in the conference room, a frazzled tete-a-tete at the coffee station or a hallway muddled with huddles of stressed associates."If you came to our office, you would find us deceptively calm and quiet," say Rimel, president and CEO of the charitable organization that serves the public interest by providing information, policy solutions and support for civic life.Seated in its…
Wednesday, 23 March 2005 09:39

Movers & Shakers

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Lincoln Financial Distributors Inc., the wholesaling distribution organization of Lincoln Financial Group, appointed Diane M. McCarthy chief financial officer and chief administrative officer. Her predecessor, Michael S. Smith, was named chief financial officer and chief risk officer of The Lincoln National Life Insurance Co. McCarthy oversees the operations of Lincoln Financial Distributors' finance, information technology, compensation and compliance functions. Previously, as director of financial reporting, she was responsible for monthly and quarterly financial reporting, financial analysis, Sarbanes-Oxley compliance and financial planning and forecasting. Prior to joining Lincoln in January 2004, McCarthy served as CFO for Storecast Merchandising Corp., where she…
Wednesday, 23 March 2005 09:33

The Snider file

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Name: Ed Snider Born: 1933 in Washington, D.C. Education: University of Maryland First job: His father's grocery store Recognition: 2005 Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce William Penn Award; Hockey Hall of Fame, 1988; serves on NHL Executive Committee; recipient of the Lester Patrick Award for outstanding service to hockey in the United States; elected to the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame and Flyers Hall of Fame; Temple University's first Annual Sports Leadership Award; Philly's Greatest Mover and Shaker of the Millennium by the readers of Philadelphia Daily News Whom do you admire most in business and why? My father. He…
Thursday, 24 February 2005 19:00

Checking it twice

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If you own a successful business, you likely have devoted years of time and effort to building it and creating value. But after years of involvement, thoughts of "What's next?" may arise. Assuming your children are not poised to take over the business, you may consider selling your company. A lack of experience in selling a business can result in a loss of value and give rise to disputes with the buyer. Just as with pitching a sale to a prospective customer, you need to properly prepare yourself. At a minimum, consider the following 10 issues. 1. Look inside. Start…
Thursday, 24 February 2005 19:00

Team spirit

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Pat Croce has been described as the Dale Carnegie of the 21st century by Inc magazine, but that title doesn't go far enough This celebrity entrepreneur could also be called the Guru of Get-Up-and-Go, Doctor Dynamism or Mr. Management. Think of him as Coach Croce, the man who can help you and your business get to the winner's circle. To put him in your corner, all you have to do is listen. He wants to tell you everything he knows. And he knows a lot. "I'm a very successful entrepreneur," says Croce, "who does business in a uniquely customer- and…