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Friday, 30 May 2003 06:33

Split image

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Seeing double is nothing new for Chris Skeeles, CEO of Canton-based Magic Picture. The firm makes lenticular images, photos that have multiple images within them that gives the illusion of movement or passing time. These images are common in modern baseball cards, in which a card may show Cleveland Indian Omar Vizquel at the plate when tipped one way, but tipping it the other changes the image to show him swinging the bat. Skeeles decided to turn the technology into a business when he became fascinated with aerial photographs while doing public-sector research. "I was looking at aerial photographs from…
Friday, 30 May 2003 06:13

Car payments

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The decision whether to buy or lease a vehicle may seem costly whichever route you take, but knowing exactly what you need could save you money in the long run. "Buy vs. lease is always an individual calculation," says Bill Potoczak, co-owner of Mills, Potoczak & Co., a full-service public accounting firm. Many CEOs are in a position to get zero percent financing on borrowed money and easily purchase a car. Others find the idea of a low down payment and slightly higher monthly payments more attractive. Potoczak suggests leasing if you want: * A frequent change of vehicle. The…
Friday, 30 May 2003 06:06

Working together

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I had lunch recently with Craig James, managing partner of Catalyst Strategies, to discuss his firm's Connection Series and how it is bringing people together at a grassroots level to focus on the region's future. James assembled Mayor Jane Campbell, several business leaders and nearly 180 members of the public in May 2002 to talk about doing business in Cleveland. The series' fourth installment in February drew more than 300 people. "Our goal is not to rebuild what's being done," says James, "but rather to be a conduit for activity." That is exactly what's needed -- to get people to…
Friday, 30 May 2003 06:02

Spreading the gospel

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John Di Julius, president and owner of John Robert's Hair Studio & Spa, has been recognized for, among other things, leadership (1999 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year), philanthropy (1999 Pillar Award for Community Service) and strong business growth (No. 17 on the 2002 Weatherhead 100 list). So it should come as little surprise that Di Julius, a regular speaker on customer service, has parlayed those achievements into a book focused on his specialty. "Secret Service" (Amacom, 2003) is Di Julius' first foray into writing. It took him two years to pen and get published, all while running and…
Friday, 30 May 2003 05:57

Understanding options

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Today's consumer has many options in the luxury automobile market. But as important as the vehicle options are, the choice of dealership is perhaps more important. There are obvious considerations when looking for a place to buy a vehicle, such as the cleanliness of the facility and the appearance of the sales and service staff. Often overlooked is the ability to reach top management, including the owner. Can he or she be reached with a phone call? But looking past the first impression, other factors will make the ownership experience unforgettable for all the right reasons. Key points to consider:…
Thursday, 29 May 2003 20:00

Sideline assistance

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Did you know that the cost of replacing an employee is 70 percent to 200 percent of that employee's annual salary? As U.S. business managers struggle to lead employees and deliver results in an uncertain economy, many are turning to experienced behavioral health professionals for guidance on how to lead employees through challenging times. Businesses are wary about the economic recovery, and many are delaying serious hiring and reducing staffing levels. Managers don't always have the time to hunt down and then adopt best practices for their workplace. The net effect is to further increase pressure on managing teams --…
Monday, 12 May 2003 07:27

Chutzpa

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An entrepreneur at a tech start-up recently contacted me to schedule a first meeting. On the day of the appointment, an assistant from his office called. With due apologies, she said her boss could not keep the appointment and wanted to reschedule. Last minute cancellations occur, so I had no problem with this. Two hours before the second scheduled appointment, his assistant cancelled. I accepted her explanation and rescheduled again. Finally, about two hours before the third scheduled appointment, the assistant cancelled. Here is where "chutzpa" is defined: She said her boss would prefer "a first thing in the morning…
Monday, 12 May 2003 05:52

A thriving community

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The Northeast Ohio arts and cultural sector is a viable, living, breathing, working industry that affects every part of our community, from the economy to education to quality of life. Though many enjoy and appreciate it, it often doesn't get the attention it should, and some believe it's time to change that. Susie Frazier Mueller, a Northeast Ohio arts advocate, is dedicated to raising awareness that the local arts and cultural community is thriving. Mueller's efforts have included displaying artwork in downtown storefronts and being involved in the March of Dimes Art Auction, which features the work of local artists.…
Friday, 25 April 2003 12:50

Salvage mission

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The movie "Weekend at Bernie's" features two friends who trick everyone into believing that their dead boss, Bernie, is still alive. Bob Cohen, president of the Centrus Group, has seen this same plot in the business world. "It's a Bernie business," says Cohen. "It's a business that is dead but is still acting like it's alive. I've walked into a lot of Bernie businesses and the management is in denial. Their funding is typically with trade credit, and they are extending those lines further and further." When a business reaches that point, there are three questions that will determine whether…
Friday, 25 April 2003 12:43

Targeted response

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How do you market hundreds of niche-specific products to finicky customers spread across the globe? Push a button. While that may be a simplified answer, technology has allowed Solon-based Keithley Instruments to reach out to tiny industry niches in ways it never could before. Keithley sells highly specialized equipment to engineers and universities around the world. E-mail marketing allows the company to target these individuals with great success. "For us, e-mail is a way to get a tailored message to our audience," says Alan Gaffney, director of communication and marketing support for Keithley. "We don't spam, and we give customers…
Friday, 25 April 2003 12:33

Cracking corporate rules

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Omer Yonel is the director and CEO of North Coast Energy Inc., a Twinsburg-based energy supplier. He has lectured worldwide about his management style, not just because North Coast has doubled in size since he joined it in 1993 or even because the firm was recognized in 2001 as the second fastest growing publicly-held company in Ohio and the 13th fastest growing in the United States. Instead, his notoriety comes from his controversial business theories, which include cracking the corporate rules and taking a different view of success. It's all based on growth, Yonel says. "But growth is not the…
Thursday, 24 April 2003 20:00

Brand leader

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On the wall of Richard Posey's office is a wooden plaque framing a hand drawing of four famous animated insects. In the 1980s and early 1990s, we watched on television as these hairy green and yellow cockroach-looking bugs schemed to infest a home, then recoiled in terror when Raid insecticide appeared. The pests destroyed, the product's slogan would appear: "Raid: Kills Bugs Dead." A redundant phrase, yes, but that was the intention, because it stuck. It stuck to the point where you couldn't mention Raid without thinking of that phrase. Those four simple words, written by beat poet Lew Welsh…
Friday, 25 April 2003 12:12

Manage vs. consult

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Do you have the right staff solving your customers' problems? As an independent entrepreneur guiding your business through this economy, you may ask, "Do I have the right people?" "Are they doing the right thing?" And, do you wonder whether to send staff or to solve your clients' tough problems yourself? If you run a service business, one question is, "Do I need more customer managers or more customer consultants?" Both serve different roles, and as an independent entrepreneur, you need to know which to send when your customers call with problems. While most consultants were once managers, and many…
Friday, 25 April 2003 12:07

Movers & Shakers

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ACCOUNTING & CONSULTING Special Counsel promoted Michael Ritch to executive director of its Cleveland office. Infiniti Systems hired Charles F. Keberdle as an ERP project manager. Lawrence J. Holland of Meaden & Moore was elected chair of Accountants Global Network International-North America. Business Advisers of Cleveland launched a new Web site, www.busadvcle.org Skoda, Minotti & Co. hired Sharon Burk, Ruthanne Kennedy and Matthew Shane in its financial services department. Kerilyn Benko joined the company as a senior accountant and Anna M. Wright as a client service representative. Joseph Rutledge of Deloitte & Touche received the Elijah Watt Sells Gold Plaque…
Friday, 25 April 2003 11:52

Re-employment rights

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As a result of current world events, many employees have been called away from their jobs to serve in the United States Armed Forces. Congress attempted to make it easier for them to return to their civilian lives when it enacted the Uniform Service Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994. USERRA prohibits discrimination against individuals who serve or have served in the armed forces and governs the rights of those who have served when they return to civilian employment. Generally, USERRA provides that employees who leave their jobs to serve in the armed forces are entitled to return to…
Wednesday, 02 April 2003 07:37

Dangerous waters

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Times are tough, despite the promise of an economic recovery by the experts. Business can still be difficult to come by, stock prices are as volatile as ever and investors are scrutinizing every move business leaders make. Here's a look at how three local executives plan to navigate through the recession to better days. All three were part of a roundtable discussion at the "Doing Business in Turbulent Markets" seminar sponsored by Calfee, Halter & Griswold and McDonald Investments. Spread the risk Invacare is a manufacturer of health care products, but even with an aging population, the company has had…
Wednesday, 02 April 2003 06:35

A time to save

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The most recent changes in the tax law or the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act (EGTRRA) aren't necessarily going translate into a windfall for the average taxpayer. But according to Richard Medve partner in the tax department of CBIZ, if you want to take advantage of the changes in the law the key is planning. "There were changes but they are mostly back-end loaded," explains Medve. What EGTRRA has done is create a tax-free savings options that need to be taken advantage before April 15. Medve explains that education and retirement are the areas most people can see…
Wednesday, 02 April 2003 06:25

Telecom blues

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Tough economic conditions have led business owners and executives at every size company to re-evaluate how money is being spent and whether the company is getting the most for its money. Telecommunications services are a prime example. Every business has some costs in this area, as the simple telephone is a requirement for anyone. Add special features, Internet access and long distance services, and you suddenly have a lot of money wrapped up in your communication needs. To save money, consider the following tips from Sean Kearns, general manager for XO Communications in Cleveland. Bundling or fixed-rate plans It's easier…
Wednesday, 02 April 2003 06:19

Law on demand

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Like it or not, we live in a litigious society. As a result, employees miss work and are distracted by legal concerns. To help employees cope with the most common legal needs, many larger employers are offering discount legal services as part of their benefits package. "Unlike health care, where employees like to go to their own doctor, for a legal plan, most employees don't have their own lawyer," says Bill Brooks, CEO of Cleveland-based Hyatt Legal Plans. "First and foremost what a prepaid legal plan solves is that question of how to find a lawyer." Studies show that the…
Wednesday, 02 April 2003 06:13

Network management

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Your telephone and computer networks are probably taken for granted until they break down. At that point, work comes to a grinding halt as technology-dependent employees lose access to the data and people they need to do their jobs. If your company is large enough, then a full-time expert probably would have enough work to keep busy. But for smaller firms, outsourcing for telecom and technology expertise may be the most cost effective route. "Small businesses are better suited to take advantage of outsourcing to have a pool of people they can draw upon to take care of their problems,"…
Monday, 31 March 2003 09:08

Hold the phone

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The call for competition in local calling services is ringing hollow. The competition that everyone always wanted has arrived, but competitors of heavyweight incumbent SBC Ameritech are being disconnected by bankruptcies, thin margins and a slow economy. "There's a huge push from Ameritech to try to win customers back from competitive exchange providers like CoreComm," says Brad Clark, president of SpyGlass Technology Advisors, a Cleveland-based telecommunications consulting firm. "The interesting thing is, from a local perspective, the choices businesses have are going away. Because of bankruptcies, the choices are dwindling. "There hasn't been from a strictly local perspective one competitive…
Monday, 31 March 2003 09:05

Sound advice

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Phones, copiers, fax machines, not to mention the loudmouth next to you yapping about his weekend, creates a cacophony that can distract employees or interrupt a meeting. You don't have to seal yourself in a bank vault to get some peace and quiet, says Cullen Roth, president of Working Walls Inc., an acoustical and tackable wall panel manufacturer in Brooklyn Heights. "Sound is like water," he says. "It will keep going until it hits something. It will go around corners, over cubicles, through things. If your door is open, your office is not acoustically sound." Apart from outfitting your office…
Monday, 31 March 2003 09:00

Market effects

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The job of product managers isn't easy. They are expected to apply strategic concepts to maximize return on their products, but often get drawn in to daily problems like customer service and sales support. The result is a less effective manager, and a product that's probably not performing the way it should. Here are three keys to effective product management: Understand what the product manager's role is. "The company needs a real understanding of what the roles and responsibilities are for the product managers and making sure the people in the organization that interface with them understand that as well,"…
Monday, 31 March 2003 08:53

Econo-myths

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After the Sept. 11 disasters and the rapid economic slide that followed, everyone was talking about when, and if, things would turn around. Publications from the United Kingdom to Southern California turned to Kenneth T. Mayland, president of ClearView Economics in Pepper Pike for answers. The short answer is yes, Maynard would tell them. But, he added, the disastrous events in September have slowed the recovery. What has helped was the early response by business owners, the Federal Reserve and even the Government before the attacks, which prevented an even deeper recession. "In my 28 years of doing this, the…
Monday, 31 March 2003 08:50

Don't drink the water

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The health risks of international travel are often overlooked, and a lack of information may mean you bring home more than that next big sale. With more people traveling overseas, experts say unprepared travelers are taking dangerous and unnecessary risks. Because many companies in Greater Cleveland do business internationally, employees are traveling to facilities and customers worldwide. Those traveling overseas can turn to the Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals Health System and Metro Health Medical Center, which are all members of the International Society of Travel Medicine, an organization that links physicians around the world, providing information on localized diseases and…
Monday, 31 March 2003 08:47

2010, a tax odyssey

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The great news is there have been numerous new tax provisions that could save you and your business money. The good news is that although taxpayers will only see a portion of those changes, they increase incrementally. The bad news? All of these much-touted provisions expire in 2010. Last year's Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 (HR 1836), or EGTRRA, contains 85 major provisions and more than 400 changes to the tax code. Ken Haffey, managing partner of CBIZ, says the recent changes have received a lot of press and awareness among consumers. "It has made everyone…
Monday, 31 March 2003 08:42

Rent check

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The commercial real estate market is still showing lingering effects of a recession despite several economic indicators of a turnaround during the first quarter of the 2002. Commercial real estate broker Colliers International released a nationwide survey last month showing the top ten issues facing the market, most of which suggest it will not begin to recover at least until the end of the year. So, as a tenant, now might be the time to upgrade your office or renegotiate your lease. "Landlords are very aggressive, as they do not want to lose tenants, and rents continue to trend lower,"…