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Tuesday, 25 September 2007 20:00

Don Block

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When the Pittsburgh Board of Education decided to shutter Connelley Adult Education Center, Don Block sprang into action to close the literacy education gap that the closing left in its wake. Block, executive director, Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council, moved swiftly to meet the need. Within three months, the Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council had leased space in the Chamber of Commerce Building, assembled a professional and volunteer staff, and opened the Downtown Learning Center for classes. That kind of dedication to leadership in literacy education has allowed the Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council to assist more than 30,000 students during Block’s tenure…
Tuesday, 25 September 2007 20:00

John Miclot

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John Miclot could have taken the wheel as president and CEO at Respironics Inc. in 2003 and put the company on cruise control, allowing the natural trajectory and financial strength of the perennially solid performer to carry it along at its historically brisk pace. After all, in 2006, Respironics passed the $1 billion annual revenue mark, not much of a surprise for a company that had enjoyed sustained growth and profitability over most of its existence. But Miclot viewed sticking with the status quo as the biggest risk of all for the company. So instead, he chose to take some…
Tuesday, 25 September 2007 20:00

Arnold Burchianti II

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In true entrepreneurial style, Arnold “Arnie” Burchianti II saw opportunity in the multiple difficulties the health care industry was experiencing. Burchianti saw shrinking reimbursements, a trend driven by insurers — particularly Medicare and Medicaid — to encourage more home-based care and heavy industry regulation as opportunities to grow his home health company. An aging elderly population in Allegheny County and across the state was a sign to Burchianti, a physical therapist by training, that the need for services would only grow over the coming decades. With hospital-based home health programs losing money, Burchianti, CEO of Celtic Healthcare Inc., has moved…
Sunday, 26 August 2007 20:00

Staying informed

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The move to improve transparency in health care has had an impact on both consumers and providers. From the consumers’ perspective, transparency can provide the price and quality information they need to make informed choices among health care providers, says William McCarthy, director of large market sales with UPMC Health Plan. For providers, transparency represents their ability to access the information they need to get a comprehensive view of their patients’ condition so they can offer a well-informed treatment plan. The challenge for both consumers and providers seeking transparency is the lack of detailed, standardized reporting, says McCarthy. Smart Business…
Sunday, 26 August 2007 20:00

Executive homebuilding primer

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There are numerous mortgage lending options available today, but not all lending solutions are viable for executives who want to build a home from scratch. How flexible and attentive is your lender? If you were to design and build a home, would your bank provide a seamless loan process and personalized service? The fact is, purchasing existing real estate and building a new home are two completely different and unique undertakings — and the latter requires a specialist who can usher time-pressed executives through the construction process, offer private client service and, most importantly, ensure privacy. Vince Cassano, assistant vice…
Sunday, 26 August 2007 20:00

The Byham file

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Birthplace: Parkersburg, W.Va. Education: Bachelor’s and master’s degrees, Ohio University; Ph.D., Purdue University First job: Assistant to executive vice president at a New York advertising agency Whom do you admire most in business and why? Jack Welch. He’s full of wisdom. People with wisdom have learned from their mistakes and generalized from them. What’s your most important business lesson? People learn and make decisions in different ways. I learned to get along with people a lot better when I took into consideration their way of making decisions. What are the three most important qualities that a CEO should possess? I…
Thursday, 26 July 2007 20:00

Electronic discovery

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No company is immune to the possibility of litigation. In the case that a claim arises, having policies concerning the retention and destruction of electronic data can take some of the hassle out of an arduous and expensive process. “Businesses should understand now what their information technology (IT) systems are, how they work and what policies and procedures they may want to adopt with an eye toward the potential for litigation,” says Mark Goldner, associate at Jackson Lewis. Smart Business spoke to Goldner about the new rules concerning electronic data and discovery. What’s new pertaining to rules of discovery? The…
Thursday, 26 July 2007 20:00

Maximizing your 401(k)

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Selecting and maintaining the right 401(k) plan provider is difficult for most business owners. There are many considerations including investment performance, fees, employee education and fiduciary liability. Selecting the right financial adviser is equally crucial in maintaining a high-quality 401(k) plan for your company and employees. Smart Business received advice from ChamberChoice, which provides options and consultation. What is the hallmark of a good 401(k) plan? First and foremost, you want to select a financial adviser who will invest the time to understand your business. The adviser who listens to your company’s goals and who can translate these goals to…
Thursday, 26 July 2007 20:00

The Goetz file

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Place of birth: Millvale, Pa. Education: North Catholic High School; bachelor’s degree, University of Dayton, business administration First job: Sales with Goodyear Tire & Rubber’s engineered products group Whom do you admire most in business and why? Ben Gooding Jr. He hired me to come into the distributor business. He made sure that everyone applied the Golden Rule to how they conducted business. What is the most important business lesson you’ve learned? Be fair to your customers, be fair to your suppliers and be fair to your employees. What’s your favorite business book? ‘Good to Great’ by Jim Collins How…
Monday, 25 June 2007 20:00

Impacting profitability

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As one component of your financial ledger, VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) phone service has th potential to positively affect the bottom line. John Curry, founder and president of Curry IP Solutions, has been providing telecommunications expertise to businesses and individuals for more than 30 years. He has been in the forefront of VoIP, analyzing how best to deploy VoIP for improved business operations while minimizing overall telecommunications costs. Smart Business spoke with Curry about how technology can be better utilized and its impact on the bottom line. How important is it for a small to mid-size company’s telephone system…
Monday, 25 June 2007 20:00

Riding the rails

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When Al Neupaver came to Wabtec Corp. as its new president and CEO at the beginning of 2006, his charge was to get the rail products company back on a strong, long-term growth track. It wasn’t that Wabtec needed an overhaul, because the previous CEO had done a solid job of slashing debt and improving financial performance. The company, a provider of technology-based products and services for the railroad industry, just needed to start focusing on moving to the next level. “It was a very lean company, very focused on cash generation, very focused on technology, but there wasn’t a…
Saturday, 26 May 2007 20:00

Intelligent communications

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One of the new buzzwords in the world of high technology is “intelligent communications.” As a leader in the design and implementation of VoIP solutions, John Curry of Curry IP Solutions offers unique insights into utilizing intelligent communications as an effective road map to cost-effective telecommunications solutions. “We must understand that the end result of intelligent communications is to make contacting your organization a pleasurable experience that exceeds your competitor’s,” says Curry. “This contact may be via telephone, cell phone, Blackberry, instant message or e-mail, into your voice mail or call center. It is now possible to manage all of…
Saturday, 26 May 2007 20:00

Success through cyberspace

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How everything clicks for Lisa Hickey at Online Stores Inc. By Brian Horn For Lisa Hickey, the biggest challenge of managing her rapidly growing company is finding the right people for the job. Add up the time it takes to interview people, hire them and see if they are going to work out, and it becomes a time-consuming process. “I go a lot with my gut feeling,” says Hickey, president of Online Stores Inc., which sells flags, tea, safety gear, hard hats and other items. “But you can only go with a gut feeling to a point. We definitely don’t…
Wednesday, 25 April 2007 20:00

VoIP or analog phone?

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Based on the word of a VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) expert, the main concern when it comes to choosing VoIP phone services over traditional phone lines (analog) is reliability. “When VoIP was launched, it was an exciting time in telecom,” says Jonathan Curry, vice president of sales and marketing for Curry IP Solutions. “But the companies that got out there first expanded hard and fast to try and meet the demand. Unfortunately, now they are overextended. When that occurs, quality and reliability sometimes can suffer.” Smart Business spoke with Curry about the current state of VoIP and what challenging…
Wednesday, 25 April 2007 20:00

Treading lightly

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Chud Fuellgraf likes to get to the root of the problem, but sometimes his bluntness in doing so can lead employees to think he is being too harsh. “I tell them, ‘Hey, don’t think that I am coming down on you,’” says Fuellgraf, president and CEO of Fuellgraf Electric Co. “You know upfront this is the culture we are working in. It’s not a negative culture. It’s an aggressive culture.” Fuellgraf says when you do come across the wrong way, you have to show your vulnerability and apologize. “You aren’t always right,” he says. “When you’ve come down too hard…
Monday, 26 March 2007 20:00

Are you secure?

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Because information can be a company’s largest and most important asset, managers and employees need to dedicate time, effort and money to ensure such assets are properly protected. With the increased complexity and interconnectivity of networks, corporate infrastructure boundaries have virtually disappeared. As a result, information security requirements have grown almost exponentially. With a wide variety of — and constantly changing — threats, a comprehensive, layered security approach is needed. A solution based solely on technology is not enough. An overall strategy for enterprise security needs to include not only hardware and software but appropriate policies, procedures and organizational structure…
Monday, 26 March 2007 20:00

Engaging employees

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Employers are increasingly concerned about finding ways to improve employee productivity while reducing the number of sick days and health insurance claims. Smart Business spoke with Michael Taylor, executive director of marketing and communications for UPMC Health Plan, about how to generate employee interest in wellness programs. Why should an employer consider implementing a wellness program? With the continued rise of medical costs, it is estimated that one-half or more of employer earnings will go toward the care of employees. Developing creative health promotion activities that encourage people to manage their weight, quit tobacco or get more exercise will help…
Monday, 26 March 2007 20:00

The Hasselbusch file

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Birthplace: Cedar Rapids, Iowa First job: Newspaper carrier. Out of college, in the Chicago office of L.B. Foster What is your favorite business book? “Good to Great,” by Jim Collins Whom do you admire most in business and why? Jack Welch, for his ability to transfer a strategy into operational reality, his relentless drive for change throughout the organization and the way he drove operational improvement through processes like Six Sigma and lean How would you describe your leadership style? I’m very dedicated to the company. I’m results-driven, involved and hands-on. I have a belief in my staff’s ability to…
Wednesday, 28 February 2007 19:00

Geraldine Laybourne

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Geraldine Laybourne saw something that the guys didn’t notice: Women not only make up a larger share of the population than do men, they are also making more decisions and controlling a growing portion of the money spent in the marketplace. So after turning money-losing Nickelodeon into the top-rated 24-hour cable channel and doing a stint at Disney/ABC, Laybourne co-founded Oxygen with Oprah Winfrey, Marcy Carsey, Tom Werner and Caryn Mandabach. Oxygen’s latest venture is oomph.net, which Laybourne calls a virtual back fence where women can gather to chat, for advice and information, and to meet people with similar interests.…
Wednesday, 28 February 2007 19:00

Shooting stars

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When Mark Evans looks for employees, he wants people who are willing to lace up their shoes and get on the court with Michael Jordan, “Magic” Johnson and Larry Bird in the prime of their careers. While some would not even step foot on the court, Mark Evans wants employees who are ready to show their stuff. “There are certain people in the world that, when they went to play a game of pick-up basketball and it turned out the other guys standing on the court were Olympic basketball players, there are some people who would love that, and there…
Wednesday, 31 January 2007 19:00

Marsha Blanco

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At Achieva, Marsha Blanco faces the challenges of any business leader — resources are limited, talented people are always a challenge to find and you need to have a passion for your mission to find success. In her 30 years at Achieva, Blanco, president and CEO, has found her labor of love in helping people with disabilities. The nonprofit, which had a $52 million budget in 2006, operates several businesses that provide employment for people who might otherwise find it tough to find a job. Smart Business spoke with Blanco about recruiting talent, conducting instead of managing and following your…
Wednesday, 31 January 2007 19:00

Avoiding liability

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An employee with lung cancer can cost a company thousands of dollars, increasing each employee’s insurance premiums. The U.S. Center for Disease Control reports that more than 75 percent of health care dollars are spent on chronic diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. While some conditions cannot be prevented, employers are working to implement wellness programs to improve overall employee health and increase productivity. Studies show that every dollar spent on wellness programs saves three dollars in health care costs, says Patricia Diulus-Myers, partner in the Pittsburgh office of Jackson Lewis LLP. Investing in wellness programs reduces short-term sick…
Wednesday, 31 January 2007 19:00

Addition by subtraction

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Quitting smoking is easy,” begins a quote attributed to Mark Twain. “I’ve done it hundreds of times.” This sage quip cuts to the truth — resolving to stop smoking is effortless, but staying quit is extremely challenging. This is a concern to corporate employers, because it’s been proven that healthy people take less time off due to sickness or injury and are generally more productive at work because they feel better. “It’s suggested that the business expense from smoking-related issues, such as extra sick time and health care expense, totals more than $1 billion,” says Michael Sayette, Ph.D., professor of…
Wednesday, 31 January 2007 19:00

The Stanik file

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Birthplace: Pittsburgh Education: Carnegie Mellon University, chemical engineering First job: Process design engineer, PPG Inc. Favorite business books: “Good to Great,” by Jim Collins. Anything I can get my hands on that deals with leadership Whom do you admire most in business and why? I admire characteristics in different individuals. I try to find the characteristics and the things that they do that inspire people. How would you describe your management style? I try to be honest with individuals to maintain their trust, whether it’s a shareholder, a co-worker and board member, or my children.
Sunday, 31 December 2006 19:00

Striking gold

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The 1990s weren’t particularly kind to John Ryan III and Mine Safety Appliances Inc. Indeed, they tested the mettle of the chairman and CEO who took the top job in 1991. The company, which manufactures safety equipment, saw its growth rate slow in the late 1990s. Much of its safety equipment was produced for industrial workers, but employment in traditional factories in both the United States and Europe was falling, lessening demand for products aimed at those markets. “Our whole business was transformed by Joseph Schumpeter’s theory that economic growth is a process of creative destruction,” says Ryan. “We saw…
Friday, 24 November 2006 19:00

Kissing frogs

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A pediatric oncologist by training, John Blank had to help people deal with a lot of bad news during his medical career. As a health plan executive, Blank had to help Unison Health Plan face the fact when he arrived in 2004 that there might be trouble on the horizon for the managed care company. “When I came here, we were a Pennsylvania company with virtually all of our business in Pennsylvania, with 95 percent of our revenue and 99 percent of our bottom line coming from the Pennsylvania Medicaid program, and we’ve been very successful with that,” says Blank,…
Saturday, 28 October 2006 20:00

2007 and beyond

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Advances in health care, treatments and education are developing each day and are saving the lives of numerous patients. While these advances are amazing and life-changing, they are costly. On average, health care coverage costs about $8,000 per employee. The common goal for executives is to deliver sufficient health care and benefits while keeping annual costs affordable, says Rick Galardini, president and CEO of HRH/Affinity Marketing Group. There are approaches executives can take to reduce costs for both the company and the employee. It is important to find a health care provider that provides both health care coverage as well…