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Monday, 26 March 2007 20:00

Martin Sprock

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While some may debate which tastes better — a burrito from Moe’s Southwest Grill or success — one thing Raving Brands Inc. Founder and CEO Martin Sprock won’t debate is how to do business in his restaurant chains, which include Moe’s, Boneheads and the Flying Biscuit Cafe. After unofficially being named “least likely to succeed” in high school, Sprock says he has far exceeded even his own mother’s expectations, so he feels obligated to make his 125 employees taste success as well. Smart Business spoke with this spicy CEO about how he gets his employee buy-in and drives his company’s…
Monday, 26 March 2007 20:00

Effective business planning

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It’s a good practice for a business to have employment agreements with its key employees. Executive employment agreements can be as simple as a letter agreement. This article will discuss the customary provisions of a simple agreement. “There is no business relationship more important than the one between employer and employee,” says Dan Kolber, partner with the law firm Gambrell & Stolz LLP in Atlanta. “Unfortunately, the time has passed where a handshake can seal the deal. Even the most simple employment contract benefits both sides.” Smart Business talked to Kobler about what should be found in every employment agreement.…
Monday, 26 March 2007 20:00

Owning real estate

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Real estate is used by the professional investment community as a means of diversifying a portfolio and as a hedge against other investment types. Along with stocks and bonds, real estate in the last 10 years has become the favored alternative asset class for investors. “Fund managers are always looking to increase their exposure to real estate, because of the consistency of the cash flow,” says Chris Decoufle, senior vice president of capital needs for CB Richard Ellis. Smart Business asked Decoufle how ownership of real estate can increase the value of a company. Why is ownership of real estate…
Saturday, 31 March 2007 20:00

The Blank file

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Born: Queens, N.Y. Education: Bachelor of Science degree, business administration, Babson College What has been your biggest business challenge? The biggest challenge for me was when we [Blank and business partner Bernie Marcus] were fired from Handy Dan back in 1978 and overcame it by starting Home Depot in 1979. That was a political situation and what have you. It was still dealing with adversity — how do you find a situation where the glass is half filled and not half empty, and how do you build on it? We did a good job of that over the years. What…
Wednesday, 28 February 2007 19:00

Joseph D. Sansone

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When Joseph D. Sansone founded Pediatric Services of America Inc., he faced the challenge of taking a children’s health care organization public. But by showing Wall Street the value that PSA had and the return that it could garner, he succeeded. Now, as chairman and CEO of Pediatria HealthCare for Kids, which specializes in treating medically fragile children, he and his 50 employees don’t have to answer to Wall Street anymore, but he says even if you’re not running a public company, you always have to answer to someone. Smart Business spoke with Sansone about why a successful company never…
Wednesday, 28 February 2007 19:00

Looking for shelter

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The days of oil and gas and real estate limited partnerships — tax shelters with 3 to 1, 4 to 1 and 5 to 1 write-offs — are but a distant and faded memory in the minds of most experienced investors and real estate professionals. Nonetheless, even in today’s significantly more conservative climate, there is a vehicle available to help taxpaying businesses and individuals defer taxation in connection with the disposition and acquisition of property. It’s Section 1031 of the Internal Revenue Code and it is commonly referred to as a tax-free exchange, a like-kind exchange, or simply as a…
Wednesday, 28 February 2007 19:00

The world is getting smaller

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As improved technology continues to narrow the global communications gap, it is becoming increasingly important for many companies to expand internationally. “The ‘flat world’ was created by today’s access to split-second communication enabling individuals to retrieve information faster than ever before,” says David Lanier, managing director of brokerage and corporate services for CB Richard Ellis in Atlanta. Smart Business talked to Lanier about the importance of a company’s ability to go international. How has the flat world theory changed companies’ real estate needs? It has made the world smaller from a communication standpoint. However, companies must establish or retain a…
Wednesday, 28 February 2007 19:00

The Smith file

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Born: Lancaster, Pa. Education: Gettysburg College, bachelor’s degree, business and political science What has been your biggest business challenge? It’s been being an entrepreneurial-spirited person in a big business kind of culture that was not entrepreneurial-spirited. It was like being in a box for a number of years. The greatest thing to happen to solve that frustration was the management buyout we started in the fall of ’95. That was the greatest challenge and frustration in finding a way out of that big-company box. What’s the most important business lesson you’ve learned? You can’t let the lows drag you down.…
Wednesday, 31 January 2007 19:00

New in the HR toolbox

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Changing demographics, a shortage of qualified workers and the growing importance of retaining top talent have many organizations modifying their approach to long-term work force planning. But adjustments are being made to short-term programs as well — including processes for screening, interviewing and hiring employees. “Forward-thinking organizations are taking advantage of innovative technologies and applications to streamline the hiring process, reduce costs and enhance their ability to identify best-fit talent,” says Kevin White, director of operations for Spherion Staffing Services. Smart Business talked with White about which automated tools are gaining traction, and why. Why are more and more companies…
Wednesday, 31 January 2007 19:00

Family business

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Handing down the family business to the next generation can be a proud moment, but it can also be a complicated one. Proper preparation is critical to ensuring a smooth transition for all involved. It’s never too early to start that preparation, says Joe Astrachan, Ph.D., director of the Cox Family Enterprise Center of the Coles College of Business at Kennesaw (Ga.) State University. Astrachan says children should be raised from the day they’re born to handle the issues they’ll face in heading the business. Smart Business spoke with Astrachan on what family business owners can do now to prepare…
Wednesday, 31 January 2007 19:00

New interpretation requirements

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The United States has a system of taxation by confession (Hugo Black) and the Financial Accounting Standards Board has moved the confessional from the income tax return to the balance sheet and footnotes. With the implementation of FASB Interpretation 48, “Accounting for Uncertainty in Income Taxes;” an interpretation of FASB Statement No. 109 (FIN 48) comes the most significant interpretation for tax reporting that has been seen in many years and the implementation date is right around the corner for SEC filers. Smart Business talked to Barbara Catherall, a senior audit manager at Tauber & Balser, P.C., about the importance…
Sunday, 31 December 2006 19:00

Cooked books

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Forget alarm systems. The most potentially dangerous intruders already know the codes. When employee dishonesty penetrates a company, the consequences can be incredibly damaging. “Financial losses from employee dishonesty do happen,” says Ralph Cummings, fidelity underwriter at Westfield Insurance. “We see them every day. “The results can be devastating not only financially but also psychologically. The guilty employee often is a trusted, long-time member of the business. The hurt that comes from the breach of trust adds to the loss.” Smart Business spoke with Cummings about the issue of employee dishonesty and how to prevent it. How do dishonest employees…
Sunday, 31 December 2006 19:00

Prestigious growth

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Anyone can steer a ship through smooth waters; the key is always watching for the storm on the horizon and adjusting your course accordingly. That’s how Ronnie Hollis has grown Prestige Staffing between 80 percent and 105 percent per year for the last four years, with estimated 2006 revenue of $18 million and anticipated 2007 revenue of $20 million to $35 million. The company, which fills temporary, permanent and contract positions for businesses across North America, employs 55. The average age of employees is 26, and such youth, coupled with the company’s anticipated continued growth, means that training is critical.…
Friday, 24 November 2006 19:00

Jeff Sprecher

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When Jeff Sprecher was 23 years old, he had 26 MasterCards and Visas because they were the only means he had to fund his business. Then he realized that was a poor way to finance a company, a lesson that has impacted the way he does business today as chairman and CEO of IntercontinentalExchange, an online marketplace for global commodity trading. Last year, his company had $156 million in revenue — and didn’t use credit cards to raise capital. Smart Business spoke with Sprecher about the importance of setting a good example and why you can’t dwell on mistakes. Reflect…
Friday, 24 November 2006 19:00

Renew versus relocate

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Your lease expires in 12 months and it’s time to decide where you want your company to be located for the next 10 years. You have a solid work force and good cash flow. Do you stay where you are or find another building? “When representing tenants, we tend to look at the company’s current economic situation and what other options exist in the market,” says David Todd, first vice president for CB Richard Ellis. “Maybe it’s time to see what someone else is offering.” Smart Business spoke to Todd about how to tell if renewing a lease or relocating…
Friday, 20 October 2006 13:17

Business communications

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No matter the size of the company, employees should always be looking for ways to improve their networking techniques. As technology continues to improve, voice and e-mail give people additional options when they need to find a piece of information. However, nothing works as well as a face-to-face conversation capped with a firm handshake. “Keeping the lines of communication open with as many different sources as you can is going to be vital to the success of your company,” says Erik Balkan, district director of Spherion Staffing Services. “And if you do it well, you will gain a reputation as…
Friday, 20 October 2006 13:06

Portfolio building

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The interest in executive education continues to grow across the U.S. Employees and employers are recognizing the need to reinforce and reinvigorate their won leadership capacities and those of others within their organizations. There are now more than 2,000 corporate universities in the country. They provide a mix of programs and delivery methods. Companies and individuals are looking at the opportunities and making choices that will affect their growth potential throughout their life span. “Today, particularly, new entrants in the work force are becoming portfolio workers,” says Dr. Timothy Mescon, Dean Dinos Eminent Scholar chair of Entrepreneurial Management, Coles College…
Friday, 20 October 2006 12:48

The Paradies file

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Born: Atlanta Education:University of Texas - Austin, finance First job:I worked at Macy’s for a couple years in their management training program. That’s where I learned the basics of retail management. What has been your biggest business challenge?The biggest business challenge we faced was after Sept. 11. Of all the industries in this country, there’s not another industry which suffered as badly as the airline industry. We learned a lot about ourselves during that period. Traffic was down. Nobody knew what was going to happen to airports. That was a real gut-check for our company. It’s amazing what great people…
Wednesday, 20 September 2006 05:48

Staffing centers, Part I

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Someone finds themselves in a job that doesn’t appear to offer any sort of future. They would like to find a better job, but can’t afford to go to another office to fill out an application, and they don’t want to raise suspicions at their current place by leaving for three hours in the middle of the day. “When you look at emergent workers, they’re always looking at different opportunities,” says Kevin White, director of operations at Spherion Staffing Services. “You want to create an environment where they can apply for jobs on their time, when they want to do…
Monday, 18 September 2006 20:00

Changing direction

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 Dan Ellsworth and his brother, Chris, co-founded World Micro Components Inc. as a broker of electronics, but faced a challenge when they needed to change the company’s focus to become a hybrid distributor. The move met with resistance from employees used to the old way of doing business, and the company’s customers also had not changed their perception of the business. Informing employees about the company’s new direction was the first step to changing their mindset. “If we can change our thinking internally, we can change the perception of our people, which will, in turn, change the perception of our…
Tuesday, 29 August 2006 06:47

Tapping into the emerging work force

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The labor pool of qualified people in the U.S. today is smaller than it has been for quite some time, so many companies’ employment needs are going unfilled as they desperately search for the people they can’t operate without. With that in mind, Lisa Kyle, district director for Spherion, a recruitment and staffing agency headquartered in Ft. Lauderdale, says the key thing that companies need to focus on is employee retention and come up with more ways than just raising one’s pay to keep employees around. Smart Business spoke with Kyle about the characteristics of the emerging work force and…
Tuesday, 29 August 2006 06:27

The Garcia file

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Born: Newburg, N.Y. Education: Ithaca College, bachelor of arts degree First job:I sold financial products to banks on behalf of Citigoup. What is the biggest business challenge you have faced, and how did you overcome it?My biggest challenge has been this job. We have more than tripled in revenues. Our market capitalization has gone from a little over $400 million to we’ve been over $4 billion recently. In five years, that’s a lot of change, and going from 1,200 employees to 4,200 living in 20 countries. The biggest challenge has been to make sure that we do keep our values…
Saturday, 29 July 2006 20:00

Tax liability after death

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Proven tax-reduction strategies can reduce estate tax liability as well as freeze its growth. But in order to do any comprehensive estate planning, you have to know every nook and cranny of the most current estate tax laws. What exactly are the laws? They could be unchanged from previous years or they could be radically different by winter. No one knows for sure what the future will bring, because - at presstime <m> Congress was still debating whether to change the existing law or implement a new law. “Here’s the quick summary,” says Robert N. “Bob” Greenberger, CPA, PFS and…
Sunday, 18 June 2006 20:00

Start-up success

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Ever since Jay Chaudhry worked for a start-up company after college, he had had the desire to start his own. It was something he often talked about with his wife. “She was the catalyst,” Chaudhry says. “She said, ‘You keep on talking about it. Either do something, or shut up.’” So Chaudhry and his wife quit their jobs and founded SecureIT, the first of several Internet security companies that Chaudhry would start.  Today, he is founder, CEO and chairman of Alpharetta-based CipherTrust. Since its founding in 2000, the company has become the fastest-growing security software corporation in North America, posting a revenue…
Friday, 16 June 2006 10:47

Business disaster recovery

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In times of impending chaos or when the unexpected strikes, companies that live by the Boy Scout motto of being prepared have an upper hand. According to Gregg Steinberg, president of International Profit Associates (IPA), you should ask yourself about preparedness in terms of business disaster planning: What do I do about all my data and files? If my server(s) or my computers are lost or ruined, am I ruined? Do I back up all of my data each day? Do I back up incrementally each day between full backups? Are my backups secure and off-site? Do I have proprietary…
Friday, 16 June 2006 10:02

The Shah file

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Born: Morristown, N.J. Education: Bachelor’s degree, economics, Wake Forest University First job: When I was growing up in my family’s real estate business, I worked the front desk at one of my parents’ hotels. What was your biggest business challenge, and how did you overcome it?It was really waking up on Sept. 12, 2001, and having the reality of the unknown that was there. It was the first time that I really didn’t have a full grasp on what it was that we were going to have to do. That was one of my most difficult times. It was also…
Glades Pharmaceuticals promoted Darren Alkins to president. He is responsible for all company activities including daily operations, strategy and business development activities related to the company’s commercial initiatives. “Darren’s success is a result of his multifaceted pharmaceutical experience, high energy, high intensity and creative ability to find solutions,” says Jeff Thompson, chief operating officer of Stiefel Laboratories, a strategic partner of Glades. “These are excellent skill-sets and qualities that make Darren a spectacular choice for his new role.” Alkins has a strong background in the pharmaceutical industry. He started his career as an intern at Bristol-Myers Squibb and spent the…
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