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Monday, 24 January 2005 11:26

Black belt philosophy

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Lean SixSigma is a customer-focused change strategy driven by business leaders and market requirements. It delivers accelerated business results leading to increased productivity and flexibility, lower costs, improved customer satisfaction and overall accelerated business results through the powerful combination of two toolsets: Lean, to eliminate waste, and SixSigma, to eliminate variation. Lean SixSigma gives us the glasses to see where opportunities for improvement lie, and equips us with the tools to make the improvements a reality. Publications and Web sites are littered with the benefits of Lean SixSigma and suggest that there is enormous opportunity within our processes. But how…
Monday, 24 January 2005 11:17

Ready-to-wear

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When the Virginia Marti College of Art & Design expanded in 2003, it wasn't because its owner was eager for growth. "The city came after us," says college founder Virginia Marti Veith. "I was very comfortable staying small and selective, but with the expansion, we have had so many more opportunities for students coming in here and wanting to get in here. When you're very comfortable, you don't want to rock the boat, and we were doing very well at that time, but (the city of Lakewood) offered to help us." With help from Lakewood, Cleveland Growth Capital and Huntington…
Monday, 24 January 2005 11:01

Testing environment

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Keithley Instruments designs and manufactures complex electronic instruments and systems used for testing and monitoring by the electronics industry. Its customers are engineers and technicians involved in research and new product development, which puts Keithley at a disadvantage when times are bad. If Keithley's customers slow their product development because of slow sales, there is less need for Keithley products. So no matter how good Keithley makes its products, the company is still dependent on demand from electronics companies. And, like many other organizations, Keithley has felt the effects of a slow economy. However, President and CEO Joe Keithley and…
Monday, 24 January 2005 09:56

Thinking inside the box

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The company name, Ranpak, stands for random packaging, but this Concord Township company doesn't produce petroleum-based peanuts that make a static-cling mess, bubble wrap that is difficult to recycle or airbags that burst or deflate based on temperature and altitude fluctuations. Ranpak's core product, PadPak, has recently been joined by another biodegradable, renewable and recyclable void-fill product: The FillPak converter, launched in January 2003 in the United States and Europe, turns kraft paper into a star-shaped tube, which is geometrically the most efficient way to fill an empty space in a cardboard box. Several 100-cubic-foot boxes of Ranpak fanfold paper…
Monday, 24 January 2005 09:47

Changing times

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This year's eVolution of Manufacturing award winners realize the face of manufacturing is changing and evolving, and that they must do the same to survive. These companies have moved from a reactive to a proactive stance, putting innovation at the forefront of their thinking and constantly looking for new ways to grow and improve their operations. As Jeff Korach, president of Tremco Group, put it, "Just because your grandfather did it one way doesn't mean that's the way to do it." Tremco's approach was to push the envelope and examine existing processes to improve and build upon them. The result…
Wednesday, 22 December 2004 06:30

Spam dam

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As at many companies, Key Bank's employees were being overwhelmed with spam. With millions of unwanted messages being received each month, productivity was suffering as a result. "The problem was getting worse and worse for years," says Brett Young, vice president of workplace automation technology for Key. "We started hearing more and more from the end users, particularly the executives, who were frustrated with the amount of spam they were receiving." The bank first implemented a word-based content filter to try to cut down on the amount of spam being received. "We calculated that we were filtering about 37 percent…
Monday, 20 December 2004 11:44

Optimal tax structure

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Thorough planning and careful implementation of numerous interrelated steps lead to successful acquisitions and divestitures. Many factors can make or break the transaction, including tax planning, accounting and business issues. Buyers need to identify and evaluate acquisition candidates and compare them with other companies in the marketplace. Thorough due diligence is vital. Sellers need to maximize the sales value of the divestiture while reducing risk. Proper valuation analysis and determining fair market value help ensure that all stakeholders' objectives are met. Whether buying or selling, designing the optimal tax structure is a critical component to the successful completion of an…
Monday, 20 December 2004 11:30

Innovation

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Innovation has always been one of the great differentiators of fast-growth companies. In today's super-competitive environment, in which every customer is important and every sale dollar is critical, innovation has become more important than ever to success and growth. When a company introduces a new product or service, there is a lot of excitement. Unfortunately, not only does this innovation get the attention of the potential customer, it also gets the attention of the competition. And it probably won't be long until the competition either copies the innovation or goes it one better. The good news is that innovation can…
Monday, 22 November 2004 11:45

What's the secret?

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How can Disney get 50,000 employees to execute at such a fantastic level every day but small and mid-sized business owners can't get 15 to 100 people to deliver consistent customer service? The simple answer is that Disney provides world-class customer service; some might say secret service. Secret service is hidden systems that enable employees to deliver unforgettable customer service. Another example is The Ritz Carlton, which focuses on delivering on the unexpressed desires and needs of its customers. Secret service requires training employees to be sensitive to the conditions of the customer at all times and to always respond…
Sunday, 21 November 2004 19:00

New options

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The Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003 made a number of changes to the Medicare program, including the new optional Medicare prescription drug benefit (Part D), which becomes effective Jan. 1, 2006. Employers that provide health benefits to their retirees have options in light of the new Part D benefit. Once a Medicare beneficiary enrolls in Part D, pays the $35 monthly premium and meets a $250 annual deductible, Medicare will pay the next $2,000 of covered prescription drug costs. The beneficiary must pay the next $2,850 of such costs (totaling $3,100 out-of-pocket expense to the beneficiary…
Monday, 22 November 2004 11:06

Movers & Shakers

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National City Corp. named Jon N. Couture director of corporate human resources. Couture is responsible for cultivating an employee environment that supports the corporation's strategic objectives and delivery of its brand promise. He reports to David A. Daberko, National City's chairman and CEO. Couture has more than 20 years of diversified human resources experience and most recently served as senior vice president of human resources at Siemens Business Services Inc. in Norwalk, Conn., where he was responsible for all of the company's human resources functions in North America. He previously held senior human resources positions at a variety of Fortune…
Monday, 22 November 2004 10:50

Leading by example

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Dick Pogue might be Cleveland's No. 1 fan. Pogue, the one-time managing partner of the law firm Jones Day and former senior adviser at the public relations firm Dix & Eaton, has seen Cleveland in good times and in bad. He says the difference between good times and bad often boils down to leadership in both the public and private sectors of Northeast Ohio. When there isn't strong leadership, the region suffers. When strong leadership is in place, the region prospers through a spirit of cooperation and getting people involved. Pogue knows about both leadership and being involved in the…
Monday, 22 November 2004 10:18

Helping small business

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Serve, advocate and lead. Those are the simple goals COSE has for serving small businesses in Northeast Ohio, but it takes strong leadership to band more than 16,000 businesses into a cohesive group. Steve Millard, executive director of COSE, has faced that challenge since assuming his role in 1999. Millard also took a leading role in consolidating several business organizations into the Greater Cleveland Partnership, where he serves as COO in addition to his role with COSE. Millard focuses on creating a results-oriented culture. Under his leadership, COSE has accomplished the following. * Membership grew from 15,800 to 16,400, with…
Monday, 22 November 2004 10:08

Prayer and home runs

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Two things that play major roles in the lives of Rita and Peter Carfagna are Catholicism and baseball. The couple recently worked as co-chairs of The Campaign for Beaumont School, raising $5 million to create a Spiritual Life Center for the Cleveland Heights Catholic college-prep school for women, and Rita -- a 1971 Beaumont graduate -- is serving her second term as a member of the school's board of directors. "No two people have taken (the Spiritual Life Center) project into their hearts more than Peter and Rita Carfagna," says Maria Coyne, chair of the Beaumont School board of trustees.…
Monday, 22 November 2004 09:57

Corporate citizenry

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Southwest General Health Center As a community hospital, Southwest General is naturally attuned to serving the needs of its community. However, as a hospital that is supported, in part, by six communities that together raised the funds to found it in 1920, Southwest is extraordinarily devoted to giving back and enhancing the quality of life within the communities it serves. Among its initiatives, Southwest maintains a courtesy van transportation service, which provides area residents who are disabled, elderly or without a car free transportation in the six districts -- Berea, Brook Park, Columbia Township, Middleburg Heights, Olmsted Falls and Strongsville…
Monday, 22 November 2004 09:42

Generational commitment

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The Ratner family's years of giving have set the tone for what the Forest City Charitable Foundation has become -- an organization that invests in human capital and effects positive change in the communities Forest City serves. The foundation accomplishes this through $2 million in annual contributions, concentrated in the Cleveland area, and through hundreds of employee volunteers who serve on boards, run in races, participate in book sales and give countless numbers of hours to local health and human service agencies. As Albert Ratner, co-chairman of the board of directors for Forest City Enterprises often says, "You can accomplish…
Monday, 22 November 2004 09:23

A slice of PIE

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When a company understands its role in the community it calls home, it's a win-win situation, and the Barberton plant of PPG Industries Inc. has that understanding, says plant manager Richard V. Bauer. The $100 million-plus company does more than manufacture specialty chemicals for pharmaceuticals and pesticides, water-repellent coatings for aircraft windows, synthetic printing sheets used to make ID cards and menus and silicas that thicken and reduce gloss in varnishes, lacquers and paints. Among the company's volunteer efforts over the past 10 years, PPG has made a $27,000 investment in Highland Middle School's students through the Partners in Education…
Monday, 22 November 2004 09:12

A continuing community commitment

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Medical Mutual of Ohio is proud to be a founding sponsor, along with Smart Business Network, of the annual Pillar Award for Community Service. For the seventh consecutive year, we honor companies for their good deeds and contributions to worthy causes in Northeast Ohio. As the oldest and largest health insurance company in Ohio, I believe that Medical Mutual has a responsibility to help improve the communities it serves. We strive to live up to that responsibility each day in everything we do. I am inspired every day by the volunteer spirit and efforts of our employees at Medical Mutual.…
Thursday, 21 October 2004 07:30

Hidden savings

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Putting your expenses in the right category can have a big effect on your cash flow. When you buy or build a facility, it's important to make sure your assets are properly segregated into the right classifications for tax purposes. While you will get your depreciation eventually even if you don't do this, doing so properly can give you more of the cash you need now to run your business. "In its simplest form, if you get $10, would you rather have $10 today or $1 per year over the next 10 years?" says Tony Constantine, tax manager with Cohen…
Thursday, 21 October 2004 07:26

Payout or potential?

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Stocks are an important but challenging portion of your portfolio. With thousands of companies to choose from, how do you sort out the winners from the losers? There are essentially two main categories of stocks: those that pay dividends and those that have a high share price growth potential. Dividends provide you with a steady but usually slow way of earning money from your initial investment. Growth stocks usually don't pay a dividend but have the potential to have an exponential increase in share price, earning a greater return on your investment in exchange for a higher risk factor. "Growth…
Thursday, 21 October 2004 07:24

Corporate culture

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Have you ever been frustrated by projects not completed on time? Bad hiring decisions? Goals not met? Employee attitude issues? If so, it may be time to initiate a values program in your workplace. In our early days at TREK Diagnostic Systems, there was a grand vision of all the goals that needed to be accomplished. Yet there were also many missed commitments and projects that fell behind schedule, and management was often the last to find out. As a result, we were frequently frustrated, and employee morale suffered. Two-and-a-half years ago, we held meetings to discuss what type of…
Thursday, 21 October 2004 07:21

Disease discrimination

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Every year, more than 1.4 million Americans are diagnosed with cancer. Cancer does not discriminate by race, income, age or gender, but thankfully, researchers have made great strides and more people than ever survive. But survival can present new challenges, especially in the work place. While cancer does not discriminate, some employers do -- even unintentionally. Common claims of discrimination include refusal to hire, demotion, failure to promote, denial of time off for medical appointments, suggesting the employee would be better off not working and denial of health insurance. Employers may worry about how chemotherapy and other treatment, ongoing medical…
Tuesday, 19 October 2004 15:49

Evolving times

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If you watched any of the Olympic games in August, you couldn’t help but notice the advancements in technology, especially with regard to instant replays. The difference from just four years ago was mind blowing. Beyond slowing down the action to see, with crystal clarity, just whose head crossed the finish line first in a photo finish, in events such as the high-dive competition viewers were treated to single screens broken into what were essentially frame-by-frame still shots revealing the intricate details of entire routines. Simply put, this was sports technology for the viewer at its best. America is a…
Monday, 27 September 2004 10:27

Training regimen

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Competition in the manufacturing sector is fierce, with challenges for business coming from across the globe. But Brad Ohlemacher, executive vice president and owner of Elyria Manufacturing, has found that making a commitment to work force development gives his company an advantage both in the marketplace and in some unexpected ways as well. "We have a wide variety of training we do," says Ohlemacher. "It crosses a broad cross-section of the different disciplines we have here." Shop workers at the precision machine products company are trained in the latest technical and quality assurance principles. Office employees are trained in how…
Monday, 27 September 2004 10:24

Strength in numbers

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Health care costs are rising at an alarming rate. As a business, there's only so much you can do to keep costs in check. One way is to become part of a larger group that will help you to get a better rate. There are several ways to go about this, including joining a local chamber of commerce or an industry trade association. It's a matter of balancing the benefits offered with the price you pay. "There is a tremendous advantage to being part of a larger group," says Tom Sudow, executive director of the Beachwood Chamber and chair of…
Monday, 27 September 2004 10:20

Where the day never ends

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Bob Stark, president and CEO of Robert L. Stark Enterprises, wants to be clear: Westlake's Crocker Park is not a lifestyle center. It's a 24-hour, seven-days-a-week mixed-use neighborhood. Crocker Park is 1.7 million square feet; 900,000 square feet of it is residential, 250,000 square feet is office space and 550,000 square feet is retail. Stark says a lifestyle center is "all about the retail," and the East Side's Legacy Village, "by its name -- village -- and by its design, is a rip-off, it's a representation of a cutesy, mixed-use downtown environment. Only one problem -- that's not what it…
Monday, 27 September 2004 10:16

Sound advice

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As benefits costs continue to escalate, companies are faced with difficult trade-offs when they seek to provide quality employee programs. In their search for solutions, many have discovered and adopted the Employee Assistance Program (EAP). It's popular and inexpensive and can deliver as much as a 1,000 percent return on investment. Yes, you read that ROI correctly. Depending upon which government or private study you read, a $1 investment in EAP services can yield between $4 and $10 (and in some cases more) in increased productivity. This beneficial result derives from reduced medical costs, turnover, sick time, accidents, grievances and…