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Monday, 22 July 2002 09:34

Money where your mouth is

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Do you dread making financial presentations to board members or senior executives? Here are a few tips to make them less of an ordeal. Kimberly Griffith, a CPA with Alpern, Rosenthal & Co., says there are ways to make these events less traumatic for you and more meaningful for your audience: Prepare thoroughly. You'll find that adequate preparation will have the added benefit of giving you more confidence. Hold yourself to a time limit and keep track of the time. Avoid racing to finish. Avoid early mornings, after lunch or the end of the day for your presentation. Demonstrate energy…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:34

E-tomatoes

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All right, call me crazy. It's not that I love grocery shopping, it's just that I don't dread it as much as most people do. That might seem doubly incredible to people who know that I spent nearly a quarter of a century working in supermarkets. Maybe it's because I can enjoy a kind of academic interest in the business now that I don't have to worry about whether there's enough bread on the shelf or milk in the cooler. Besides, I like to squeeze the tomatoes and sift through the apples. Until August, Turner Dairy in Penn Hills was…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:34

(Tax) Free parking

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If you're scratching your head looking for ways to attract and hold onto employees, you might want to try the tax-exempt transportation program. Although it won't have the allure of stock options or health club memberships, it has one definite attraction: It will cost you almost nothing to offer it. An IRS regulation implemented this past January allows employees to reduce their gross income and federal income tax, according to Mike Schneider, a tax partner at Sisterson & Co. Specifically, the regulations allow employees who pay for parking to reduce their taxable income by up to $175 a month. And…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:33

What's your value-added?

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Is the focus from your customers mainly on price? Have you recently lost a major account? If so, that may be a strong indication that your customers may not see the value you add. Perhaps one of the most critical challenges confronting distributors and suppliers alike is the ability to show, in dollars, the value they add to their customers. True value is what you do that allows your customer to be more profitable, period. Since most customers don't know how to quantify the value you add in this business, you must do it for them. Showing the value you…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:33

Telework facts

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The International Telework Association & Council completed a study this year that covers the growth and characteristics of telework in the United States. Here are some of its key findings: There are 16.6 million regularly employed teleworkers in the United States who work at least one day a month and are at least 18 years old. About 9 million U.S. workers telework at least one day a week. In 1995, according to FIND/SVP, there were 8.5 million teleworkers. While 9 percent of U.S. workers telework, 41 percent believe their jobs could be performed in their homes. While a few years…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:33

Law briefs

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Money votes Though the Electoral College officially decides the 2000 presidential race Dec. 18, we already know who won the money race in Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania congressional districts. According to Federal Election Commission data analyzed by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, in Washington, D.C., the fund-raising champs in local races in each case also won their Nov. 7 elections. District 14 (Pittsburgh): William J. Coyne (D), incumbent; unopposed, $126,572 District 18 (Pittsburgh): Mike Doyle (D), incumbent, $315,697; Craig C. Stephens (R), $6,009 District 4 (northwest of Pittsburgh): Melissa Hart (R), $1,371,461; Terry Van Horne (D), $549,322 District 20…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:33

Disabling disabilities

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When Jeff Hadburg's eyesight deteriorated to the point where it became difficult to do his job, he easily could have found himself out of work. Instead, Hadburg's employer, Highmark Inc., found out what could be done to accommodate his disability and keep him on the job in his position as a customer service representative, a job he had held for 14 years at the health insurance company. But Highmark isn't simply being a benevolent employer; it is looking out for its own interests by enabling Hadburg and other employees with disabilities to continue to work. The tightest job market in…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:33

Changing pressures

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Hospitals, already turned upside down by the merger and restructuring craze that has hit health care during the last several years, are facing more difficult decisions. According to a study by Deloitte & Touche, financial pressures are forcing hospital CEOs to cancel managed care contracts at a "surprising rate." Overall, nearly one-third of hospitals have cancelled an HMO contract; that number leaps to nearly 60 percent for hospitals with more than 500 beds. The most commonly cited reason for cancelling an HMO contract was poor financial results. "Despite near-term financial pressures, hospitals are more optimistic about their long-term survival," says…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:33

Budget chic

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The headquarters of Web hosting provider pair Networks Inc. has the earmarks of cutting-edge industrial-look design, with plenty of exposed ductwork and electrical conduit, an angular metal sculpture clock and plasma video screens in the reception area. Not unlike the offices of many companies in high-technology industries, pair Networks' 12,000-square-foot complex flouts the design of conventional office spaces. And, as with a lot of tech offices, it seems as if the owners must have spent a bundle to get the sleek utilitarian look that has become nearly de rigueur in New Economy companies. "I wanted it to be a reference…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:33

A design to bank on

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It is hard to believe that just a few years ago, the Pennsylvania National Bank building was in danger of falling to the wrecking ball. Today, the handsome structure anchors a prominent intersection in the city's resurgent Lawrenceville community. But since its original owner folded during the Great Depression, the building has housed a succession of short-term tenants with little regard for preservation. In the 15 years before it underwent its lifesaving restoration, the building was vacant, serving mainly as "a retirement village for pigeons," says Luke Desmone, CEO of Desmone & Associates Architects, the architectural firm that now calls…
Friday, 28 June 2002 08:09

Tech protect

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"Another word for a potential corporate partner is competitor," says Cristophe Sevrain, CEO of Morewood Molecular and an executive who has brought five technology start-ups to market. Sevrain shared that wisdom and more at a recent MIT Enterprise Forum. Morewood Molecular, a Pittsburgh company that is commercializing a biological testing technology for the pharmaceutical industry, faces the same quandaries regarding disclosure that other technology companies confront, especially those with a technology that has yet to be commercialized. Giving away too much steak with the sizzle when trying to get financing, secure a strategic or equity partner, or acquire key expertise…
Friday, 28 June 2002 07:56

Time and money

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Ralph Cindrich calls to check if our 2 p.m. interview is still on. I reply that it is, and he asks if it's still a good time for me. Yes, I say, unless, of course, he needs to make a change. "Could we make it 3?" he asks in a blink, negotiating for a little extra time to squeeze in a workout and get ready for a trip to Phoenix for a conference with his fellow sports agents. As it turns out, I'm a bit squeezed for time that afternoon, so the later meeting works for me, too. The subtleties…
Friday, 28 June 2002 07:47

Going global

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Expanding your company's boundaries by going global is easier than ever thanks to the Internet. But before you set up shop outside our borders, do your tax homework. "You definitely want to optimize the value of your investment in other countries," says Joe Bernot, international tax partner with Deloitte & Touche. "Taxes paid in foreign countries may reduce your U.S. tax liability, depending on the situation. If foreign taxes you pay are not creditable, you may be subject to double taxation, which erodes the return on your investment." And pay attention to potential benefits obtained through tax treaties the United…
Friday, 31 May 2002 13:10

Net casting

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Need to communicate a message to many people spread across the country? Webcasting might be the answer. Webcasting can either be interactive or just a TV-like broadcast if two-way communication isn't important. "Webcasting will almost assuredly save you money on your communications budget," says Ray Harris, president and CEO of The Webcast Group, a Cleveland-based Webcasting firm. "It allows you to deliver a message to a geographically diverse audience." Typical uses include new product launch, press conferences for a select group of editors, product announcements to distributors, sales staff presentations and internal announcements to employees. "Another good use is for…
Friday, 31 May 2002 13:04

A sweeping change

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What do vacuum cleaners and home delivery services have in common? More than you might think. Oreck Corp., best known for its vacuum cleaners and its founder-pitchman David Oreck, has built a strong brand in a consumer segment that has no shortage of well-recognized brands. David Oreck was in town recently to talk about branding at the Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence at Pitt's Katz Graduate School of Business. Oreck's company does business in a somewhat unusual way. It will sell you a vacuum cleaner or other appliance by mail, through its Web site or at one of its independent dealers,…
Friday, 31 May 2002 12:55

Biznotes

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ARCHITECTURE/CONSTRUCTION Burns & Scalo Roofing Co. has secured the roofing contract for Kaufmann's at South Hills Village. PWCampbell was awarded the design/build contract by Mentor Schools Credit Union in Mentor, Ohio. The company was also awarded a design/build contract by the Peoples National Bank in New Lexington, Ohio. Repal Construction Co. has secured the contract for renovations of the Housing Plus II Program Building in Braddock. It also received the contract for interior renovations for the Panera Bread Store at the Waterdam Plaza in McMurray. Castcon Stone Inc., a manufacturer of precast concrete stairs and other architectural products, broke ground…
Tuesday, 30 April 2002 08:41

In the bag

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Jim D'Ottavio wanted to bring technology into his company, but he also to keep out the complexity that it can bring with it. South Side-based Rynn's Luggage Corp. operates retail stores and repair facilities in Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Dallas, and has contracts with the major airlines for repair and replacement of damaged luggage. The 75-employee company is also an authorized vendor for warranty work for luggage manufacturers. D'Ottavio, vice president of Rynn's Luggage, figured a technology fix could streamline the customer service side of his business, allowing customers to track their orders electronically to find out when to expect repair…
Tuesday, 30 April 2002 08:28

Financial Services Advocate

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Patrick Nagle has been a central figure in the Blair County small business community for more than six years. Now vice president for Central Bank, a division of First Commonwealth Bank, he began his career there as a collection manager and earned rapid promotions. For the past 11 years, he has been a commercial lender. In 1994, he became Central Bank's small business manager; the next year, he was appointed SBA lender. He then earned designation as a certified lender under the SBA CLP Program, and was named Lead SBA Lender for the First Commonwealth Financial Corp. He also has…
Tuesday, 30 April 2002 08:14

Entrepreneurial success

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Jeffrey Druzak's tenacity and perseverance, combined with dedicated employees and the consistent growth of his business, are all reasons he's been named the 2002 SBA Regional Entrepreneurial Success winner. Druzak says Druzak Medical Inc. has a family-type atmosphere, and proudly recalls an employee who introduced the $18 million annual revenue company to a potential customer as "Team Druzak." "That's why we're successful." he says, "The nomination could also be attributed to our ability to overcome numerous obstacles." Druzak has overcome several obstacles since Druzak Medical opened for business in 1990, including a three-and-half-year development process for the company's fast and…
Tuesday, 30 April 2002 08:10

Minority Business Advocate

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Doris Carson Williams serves the minority community and helps minority business owners by concentrating on building good business relationships. That work has earned her the 2002 SBA Regional Minority Business Advocate award. As the first paid director of the African-American Chamber of Commerce, Williams says, "My greatest challenge was in starting the chamber as a professional organization." She developed an implementation proposal based on the strategic plan she was presented and engaged as many of her business associates, partners and friends as possible. "I created systems to monitor my performance and kept my focus on building the organization based upon…
Tuesday, 30 April 2002 07:55

Lotus notes

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Susie Bradley is stimulating the employees at her graphic design firm with a four-letter word: yoga. "I'm always looking for ways to energize my staff," says Bradley, president of graphic design firm Bradley Brown Design Group in Carnegie. Providing a creative atmosphere is imperative in the graphic design business, says Bradley. Yoga, she contends, is one way to foster such a climate. "Despite the pressures, the creative juices have to flow and we have to work as a team," says Bradley. "Yoga helps stimulate the creative process." Bradley, who says she has used other exercise regimens, including aerobics and fitness…
Tuesday, 30 April 2002 07:49

Business Notes

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ACCOUNTING Sisterson & Co. achieved the level of Unqualified Opinion, the highest level of report from the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, in its most recent review. BANKING & FINANCIAL SERVICES Commercial National Bank has agreed to acquire the North Huntingdon branch office of Great American Federal. CONSTRUCTION/REAL ESTATE/ARCHITECTURE Prudential Preferred Realty has acquired the residential and commercial divisions of Equity Real Estate in Squirrel Hill. Massaro Co. will provide general construction services for the construction of an 8,500-square-foot UPMC Cancer Center at St. Clair Hospital. PWCampbell secured a design/builder contract from Indiana First Bank in Indiana, Pa. The…
Tuesday, 30 April 2002 07:40

Net payments

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Leveraging the Internet to benefit your business doesn't have to be in the form of an impress-the-world Web site. In fact, the easiest road to cost savings may not require a site at all. "Online billing and payment comes in many forms, and at some level, is beneficial to just about any company that doesn't receive payment immediately," says Joe Muttillo, sales director for the Intersoft Group, a Cleveland-based e-commerce solutions provider. "It doesn't matter whether your customer is a consumer or a business customer. Where companies receive benefits is that it helps them streamline their accounts receivable, increase their…
Thursday, 28 March 2002 11:18

Jon Delano

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Sept. 10, 2001, was Jon Delano's first day as KDKA-TV's money and politics editor. Easing into the job was not an option.Delano was no novice; he's been a familiar face on the tube for some time as an analyst during election seasons. But this was his debut as a reporter, and the plan was to do some sample stories before rolling out reports for broadcast. His deep knowledge of government, public policy and politics, however, was too valuable not to be tapped during the days and weeks following Sept. 11."My whole career has been a series of unexpected developments," Delano…
Thursday, 28 March 2002 11:13

Covering your assets

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Buying the assets of a company in bankruptcy offers the purchaser an opportunity to acquire valuable property at liquidation sale prices and to acquire title to the assets free and clear of liens. But buying a bankrupt company's assets is not as simple as making a purchase at a rummage sale. The procedure for selling a bankrupt company's assets gives creditors and other interested parties a say in almost every major step the debtor takes, which can delay completion of the sale and add to the buyer's transaction costs. Even when the debtor and buyer agree on the terms, there's…
Thursday, 28 March 2002 11:05

The debatable drug

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The neighboring houses are still dark when Harold Dennison rises each morning. His 5:30 a.m. ritual includes a few cups of coffee, which he refers to as "the fog lifter" because it's a little stronger than the several million cups Americans reach for each day. Dennison, a process engineer, proudly boasts that he drinks 10 to 12 cups a day and admits he's addicted to caffeine. At any given company, on any given morning, it's standing-room-only by the coffeepot. And as the java brews, people slowly come to life. A whopping 110 million Americans reach for the legal, addictive stimulant…
Thursday, 28 March 2002 11:00

A bigger nest egg

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Question: I am self-employed and the only employee of my business. While this affords me a lot of freedom and an above average income, I'm not able to invest as much for retirement as I'd like. I've been contributing the maximum to my SEP but would like to put away more on a tax-favored basis. Any suggestions?Answer: You're in luck. The new tax law provides a jackpot for one-person businesses.You probably already know the new law provides increased contribution limits to IRAs and 401(k)s for everyone and catch-up provisions for those over 50. But you may not know that businesses…
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