Archive Search

Advanced Search

Search results
Tuesday, 26 May 2009 20:00

Seasons of change

Written by
Jeanie Diamond had no intentions of joining her husband’s company, SED International Holdings Inc., back in 1980. But just a few months into it, he drafted her. “He pulled me in here — it was not by choice,” she says. “I think we were in business five months when he said to me, ‘You’re in the army.’” She reluctantly joined the business, which had about seven employees at that time. Over the next 23 years, they worked extremely hard to keep that small-company feeling, even as the business crossed different revenue milestones. Then in 2003, her husband passed away, and…
Saturday, 25 April 2009 20:00

Make the sale

Written by
More than ever, businesses are looking for ways to streamline processes, add value to marketing initiatives and ensure the customer is always king. A customer relationship management (CRM) program is a tool designed to create the efficiencies and process improvements that companies need to get through tough times as unscathed as possible. It provides a way to not only track sales and marketing information but also to track progress. “The research that’s coming out right now shows that, while 2009 is a low capital expenditure year, a CRM program is near the top of most companies’ budgets as something they’re…
Saturday, 25 April 2009 20:00

Are you ready?

Written by
A 403(b) is a tax-qualified retirement plan that is offered by nonprofit organizations, churches and public school systems. Plan assets are invested in annuity contracts or custodial accounts held by the participants directly versus a 401(k) plan in which assets are invested in a tax-exempt trust. New rules for 403(b) plans become effective in plan years beginning on or after Jan. 1, 2009, requiring not-for-profits to fill out Form 5500, providing to the government the in-depth information similar to what for-profits must provide for their 401(k) plan. Smart Business learned more from AnneMarie Scully, CPA, a senior audit manager with…
Thursday, 26 March 2009 20:00

A helping hand

Written by
You always want to find the perfect candidate when you’re hiring. But sifting through stacks of applications and sitting through hours of interviews can be tiring and can take you away from time spent running your business. “If you choose not to use a professional recruiter, both parties are going into the job relationship blindly,” says M.J. Helms, director of operations for The Ashton Group. “The company may not be the right cultural fit for the candidate, because the person did not know anything about the company, other than what they were told in the interview. Or the candidate does…
Thursday, 26 March 2009 20:00

Flipping for success

Written by
Darin Kraetsch is absolutely passionate about freeing his toes as CEO of Flip Flop Shops, which specializes in selling the latest styles of flip flops and sandals year-round. “The No. 1 thing you have to have is a passion for what it is you’re doing,” Kraetsch says. “I even made a commitment that as long as I was involved in Flip Flop Shops, I would no longer lace up. Whether it’s a fund-raiser ... or a dinner with investment bankers, you can be assured that I’ll be there in my nicest slacks, a nice coat and my best pair of…
Monday, 23 February 2009 19:00

All together now

Written by
Alex Gallo has always been a fan of the Ritz Carlton Hotel chain; it amazes him how, no matter which one he stays at, the service is always wonderful. He began asking himself how it maintains that consistency throughout its locales and how he could do the same at Alexander Gallo Holdings LLC, his court reporting and litigation support services company. “Anybody who’s ever done an acquisition of a company can relate to the ‘us vs. them,’” Gallo says. “There’s got to be something to bring it together, and maybe somebody doesn’t realize what it is, but it’s culture. I…
Monday, 23 February 2009 19:00

Know your rights

Written by
In the third quarter of 2008, 11,504 businesses filed for bankruptcy. What happens if one of your customers happens to go bankrupt? The best thing to do is keep up good businesses practices in extending credit and collection of accounts receivable so you’re prepared for the worst-case scenario and can keep your business afloat. “It should improve your cash flow by keeping the customers current and limit the amount of any claim in bankruptcy should a customer file bankruptcy,” says Gary A. Barnes, shareholder at Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz PC. Smart Business spoke with Barnes about the legal…
Monday, 23 February 2009 19:00

The Wilson file

Written by
Born: I have lived in 30 different addresses in my life. I was born in Jonesboro, Ark., and lived there for a whopping six months. I consider Florida home. I was raised in Florida and went to high school in Neptune Beach, which is near Jacksonville. I love the ocean and consider myself a real ocean person and think best when I’m near water — especially saltwater. Education: Bachelor of arts degree, economics, University of Georgia; MBA, marketing, Mercer University What was your first job? My first job was cutting grass in the neighborhood. I was 12. My first real…
Monday, 26 January 2009 19:00

3 Questions

Written by
Antje Kingma, founder and CEO of Eco-Bella LLC, spearheaded the first carbon neutral retail zone in the U.S. when she purchased carbon offsets for her Atlanta-based organic lifestyle business. Kingma has found conducting her business in a sustainable way has been profitable while attracting customers who share her beliefs and interests in the environment. She says sustainability must become a core part of all businesses’ plans now because it will be the only viable way of conducting business in the future. How can investing in sustainability help businesses’ bottom lines? Today’s consumers are increasingly educated on environmental consequences of their…
Monday, 26 January 2009 19:00

A good fit

Written by
As technology continues to improve, it is becoming more and more important for companies to make sure they have the right IT strategy. If the strategy is not a good fit from the start, the negative effects will snowball, and it can cost even more money down the road to fix the problem. A good way to help make sure you have the right IT strategy is to do your due diligence when choosing the right partner to help you create your plan into the future. “In my opinion, the wrong strategy is the lack of strategy,” says Eric Stoll,…
Monday, 26 January 2009 19:00

Incentives go global

Written by
In an economy where corporations are missing huge opportunities by not expanding into foreign markets, most businesses are in need of a little financial guidance as they venture out. “Let’s face it, the current recession has significantly impacted domestic growth opportunities for United States companies,” says Robert Verzi, CPA, a tax partner at Habif, Arogeti & Wynne, LLP. “With a relatively weak dollar, one bright spot is the opportunity to tap into foreign markets where, only recently, U.S. products may have been uncompetitive.” Smart Business spoke to Verzi about how to take advantage of tax savings available to exporters. How…
Friday, 26 December 2008 19:00

The List

Written by
Atlanta Gas Light Co. 10 Peachtree Place N.E. Atlanta, GA 30309 (404) 584-4000, www.atlantagaslight.com Provides natural gas services, Produces an energy-wise newsletter Energy Consulting Group LLC One Overton Park, 3625 Cumberland Blvd., Suite 1525 Atlanta, GA 30339 (770) 763-4900, www.ecg-llc.com Assists with power supply planning and analysis, Assists with gas supply planning and analysis Fox Independent Energy LLC 1355 Summer Hill Court Sugar Hill, GA 30518 (770) 945-6595, www.foxindependentenergy.com Provides solar energy advice, Can refer businesses to a local solar company Georgia Power 260 N. Peachtree St. Atlanta, GA 30303 (404) 688-9879 Electrical service upgrades, Makes contributions to the state’s…
Friday, 26 December 2008 19:00

Contract drafting

Written by
They say no one ever reads the “fine print.” But when it comes to boilerplate, attention is necessary. Boilerplate refers to those miscellaneous provisions that appear at the end of most of a business’s contracts or written agreements. According to Valerie Woodrick, associate with Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, PC in Atlanta, a boilerplate provision shouldn’t be dismissed as “legalese” but should be viewed as important information that could become the subject of litigation. Smart Business spoke with Woodrick on what boilerplate terms consist of, some key boilerplate provisions and why businesses need to draft them carefully. What is…
Friday, 26 December 2008 19:00

The Hendrix file

Written by
Born: Ocala, Fla. Education: Bachelor of science, accounting, Florida State University What’s the best business lesson you’ve learned? There is one thing that I’ve learned from Ray Anderson (founder of Interface). Ray Anderson doesn’t know the word ‘no.’ He’s got so much determination to succeed. It really is about staying the course. He’s got so much true grit around his commitment to the vision. You really have to have commitment to whatever you’re embarking on. I learned from Ray Anderson that you just don’t take that answer. You go take that hill; you go take that mountain. ... Ray had…
Tuesday, 25 November 2008 19:00

The List

Written by
All Points Travel 1544 Piedmont Ave., Suite 107, Atlanta, GA 30342 (404) 873-3631, www.allpointsatlanta.com Established in 1977, Full-service travel agency BCD Travel 6 Concourse Parkway N.E., Suite 2400, Atlanta, GA 30328 (678) 441-5200, www.bcdtravel.com Streamlines business travel, Performs travel management and consulting services Business Travel Consultants 1775 The Exchange S.E., Suite 330, Atlanta, GA 30339 (770) 952-8181 Arranges travel, lodging and transportation, Reduces travel spend Carlson Wagonlit Travel 3495 Buckhead Loop N.E., Atlanta, GA 30326 (404) 949-2500, www.carlsonwagonlit.com Consults to optimize travel management program, Averages travel savings of 20 percent HCI Travel The Lenox Building, 3399 Peachtree Road N.E., Atlanta,…
Tuesday, 25 November 2008 19:00

Risky business

Written by
Some boards of directors may be facing some of their biggest challenges of the last 20 years. While it’s too soon to predict what, if any, litigation or increased oversight will be brought into boardrooms in the wake of the recent turbulence, it is clear that boards must move forward with an elevated sense of responsibility. “So far, there has been relatively little focus on the role that boards may or not have played in the financial crisis,” says James Tompkins, Ph.D., director of Board Advisory Services, Corporate Governance Center, Coles College of Business at Kennesaw State University. “However, the…
Tuesday, 25 November 2008 19:00

33 best management ideas

Written by
We’ve all had days where we would rather not open the newspaper, turn on the TV or pick up the phone for the fear of learning about more bad news. Unfortunately, there have been a lot more of those days for all of us lately. The stock market is going through extreme ups and downs, capital has dried up, and key customers are cutting back. You start to wonder where the sales are going to come from to enable you to make this quarter’s budget. If things don’t turn around soon, you’ll have to consider drastic cutbacks yourself. In times…
Sunday, 26 October 2008 20:00

3 Questions

Written by
Erin Walker has been at Medium Blue, an Atlanta-based SEO marketing company, since 2002. In addition to her role as Web siteconversion expert, Erin oversees the company’s team of search engine marketing specialists. She has a bachelor’s degree fromCarnegie Mellon University and her SEO articles have been published on numerous Web sites.Q. What are the main concerns of companies that contact you for SEO/SEM needs?In today’s economic climate, budgets are tightening and companies are looking to maximize the return on their investment. Manyare cutting back on existing marketing channels and reallocating marketing into the online arena. The ability to measure…
Sunday, 26 October 2008 20:00

Property tax

Written by
It goes without saying that a business should always keep on top of its expenses, but it’s especially important during poor economic climates. One of those expenses is property taxes, which in total comprised the largest share of total state and local taxes in fiscal year 2007. One of a typical business’s failings regarding property tax, says Rick Bell, of counsel in Baker Donelson’s Atlanta office, is not knowing that timing is crucial when filing an appeal to state that its property is worth less than the level at which it was assessed. When the business receives its annual property…
Sunday, 26 October 2008 20:00

Bound together

Written by
When Brigitte Peleman-Vantieghem brought her family’s company from Belgium to the U.S. in 1998, she was sure the company’s Unibind brand binding, laminating and presentation products would find a niche in America. “It’s very important to see the sky as the limit,” she says. “Don’t panic or be afraid.” Peleman Industries Inc. has prospered in the U.S. and worldwide, as well. The U.S. operation has grown to 80 employees, and Peleman’s products are available in 110 countries. Smart Business spoke with Peleman-Vantieghem about how to build a great team and why you need to be consistent. Q. What are the…
Thursday, 25 September 2008 20:00

SPACs

Written by
Special Purpose Acquisition Companies or SPACs are now being taken seriously due in part to the waning frequency of initial public offerings. All major investment banks have underwritten them, and they are either eligible to be listed or are currently being eyed for listing on all three major U.S. stock exchanges. “The availability of three markets could go far in ensuring the continued viability of SPACs,” says Mark A. B. Carlson, a shareholder with Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, PC in Atlanta and co-leader of the firm’s Corporate Mergers & Acquisitions group. Smart Business spoke with Carlson about SPACs’…
Thursday, 25 September 2008 20:00

Designed for success

Written by
In the 1980s, Niles Bolton Associates Inc. grew more than 25 percent each year for five years straight, but Niles Bolton says that growth came with a cost. “We outran our senior management and outran our talent pool,” says the company’s founder and CEO. To resolve the issue, Bolton became more selective when taking on new contracts, which, in turn, allowed him to be more selective when hiring employees. Today, the 33-year-old architectural firm’s controlled growth plan has resulted in stability and success, posting 2007 revenue of $42 million. Smart Business spoke with Bolton about how to inspire your employees…
Tuesday, 26 August 2008 20:00

Vehicle maintenance programs

Written by
As companies try to tighten their belts, they may be overlooking programs that could, in fact, save money and their reputation. Businesses utilizing commercial fleets should implement vehicle maintenance programs. Some businesses have a haphazard approach to vehicle preventive maintenance (PM) and confuse “as-needed” or “crisis” maintenance with preventive maintenance, while others view their fleet as a key asset and a rolling billboard for their business and thoroughly track preventive maintenance for each vehicle. The perceived cost savings of continuously postponing PM certainly has an impact on the decision to overlook PM, says Eric Crandall, senior risk control representative for…
Tuesday, 26 August 2008 20:00

Occupancy costs

Written by
Occupancy costs have a big effect on the bottom line. Depending on whom you ask, they are usually the second- or third-highest costs of operating a business. Personnel costs are usually first. Occupancy costs rank just before or after IT costs. Some companies consider some of IT costs as a part of occupancy costs. You need to be fully aware of what goes into occupancy costs and look for ways to cut them and still deliver all the needs for customer and employee satisfaction. “Occupancy costs are not just rent, and when analyzing those costs, you also have to consider…
Tuesday, 26 August 2008 20:00

Sowing seeds of change

Written by
As a child, Martin Richenhagen first made a living by working on a farm, harvesting potatoes and earning $3 an hour. These early experiences taught him both the value of farming and the hard work involved with it, but it also sowed an appreciation for the important role that agriculture plays in the world. Now, he’s reaping that knowledge as the chairman, president and CEO of AGCO Corp., which manufactures and distributes agriculture equipment to help farmers perform better. “Every year, we add about 70 million people to the world population, and those people, of course, need proper food,” Richenhagen…
Saturday, 26 July 2008 20:00

Avoiding infringement

Written by
Perhaps one of the more daunting risks businesses face in today’s competitive environment is the threat of intellectual property (IP) litigation. IP litigation involves patent, trademark, copyright and/or trade secret rights. There are numerous issues that may be the subject of IP litigation, including ownership, infringement, breaches of contracts, enforcement of licenses and the like. Some of the risks posed by IP litigation include being unprepared to enter litigation and the potential for court-ordered damage awards or injunctions. Smart Business learned from Michael J. Powell, a shareholder with Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, PC, what businesses should know to…
Saturday, 26 July 2008 20:00

Planning logically

Written by
Mike Edenfield keeps his employees in the loop, but for Logility Inc. to succeed, they need to keep him in the loop, too. When the president and CEO of the supply chain management software developing company meets with employees, communication runs both ways. “Sometimes, there are decisions made or actions taken where, on the surface, it’s not self-evident as to how that supports the company’s strategic objectives,” Edenfield says. It’s his job to explain those decisions, and it’s the employees’ job to help Logility improve on its record fiscal 2007 revenue of $43.8 million. Smart Business spoke with Edenfield about…