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Monday, 22 July 2002 10:04

Acquiring mind

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Since 1984, Terence Profughi has bought or founded an average of two companies a year. He's been doing that since 1984. But it's the deal gone bad that taught him the most important point about planning: Nothing's foolproof. The year was 1990, and Profughi, CEO of Cleveland-based HI TecMetal Group was putting the finishing touches on what would have been his ninth acquisition. Seated in the boardroom of the Public Square law firm that represents him, Profughi waited with the would-be sellers of Champion Commercial Industries for news that would either make or break the deal. The arrangements had been…
Monday, 22 July 2002 10:03

When push comes to shove

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Push technology offers an automated way to sort out the clutter of the Internet and deliver specific internal information to the employees who need it most. "Push technology is basically about automation," says Maureen Fleming, senior research analyst for the Gartner Group, a Stamford, Conn.-based information-technology research firm. "Information can be published content or pure data. The technology has been around for about a decade, but it's just now migrating to the Internet." The business use of the technology is twofold: Monitoring external factors. The technology can monitor competitors' or customers' Websites, or sources of industry news. The technology will…
Monday, 22 July 2002 10:03

Test time

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Quick, what's the cutting speed for turning a three-inch diameter shaft rotating at 200 rpm? How do you calculate the average annual turnover of inventory? If you plan to be certified by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers as a certified manufacturing engineer, you'd better be able to recite those answers in your sleep. SME's Web site (www.sme.org) offers three practice quizzes for its official certification exams-manufacturing technologists, engineers and integrators. And should you need to bone up on manufacturing know-how, there are links to resources on just what today's manufacturer should know. Registration for SME's exams is also available online,…
Monday, 22 July 2002 10:03

Sold on sight

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The World Wide Web may allow the world to learn about your products through the company Web site, but it doesn't mean they'll want to buy anything. A product description, some nice graphics and a picture can go a long way, but for some items, that's not enough. It's just too hard to visualize how the product works or if it will meet their needs, especially if it's something like a large piece of equipment. John Lofquist, president and CEO of Centrack International, an Internet-based advertising service for used heavy equipment, knows the value of pictures. "There is more interest…
Monday, 22 July 2002 10:03

Price jitters

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The miracle of managed care was supposed to be over. There were no more areas to trim waste and prices were sure to rise. In fact, many experts argued that the cost savings had come from moving people into a managed-care environment, and once everyone was in, prices would resume their skyward climb. But it didn't happen. At least not for now. "This is the second year in a row this phenomenon has happened," says Paul Ginsburg, president of Health System Change and co-author of a study looking at health-care cost trends. "The cost increases were expected to be steep,…
Monday, 22 July 2002 10:03

New art of the deal

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The words "small business" and "IPO" may seem not to belong in the same sentence. But Wayne Huizenga (among others) changed all that when he bought up scores of small local garbage haulers and took them public as Waste Management Inc. Now, finance professionals are scouring the country looking for similar opportunities to consolidate fragmented industries, and offering small companies the chance to become part of a larger, potentially more profitable entity-or to cash out entirely. "Poof IPOs" and "roll-ups" are direct descendants of the leveraged buyout (LBO) and merger craze that has swept the United States since the mid-1980s.…
Monday, 22 July 2002 10:03

In Brief

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The following companies have been selected as winners for the first annual Medical Mutual Pillar Award for Community Service. They will be honored Dec. 3 at an awards banquet at Executive Caterers at Landerhaven, and featured in the December issue of SBN. Honorees, in alphabetical order, are: Arnold & Co. Communications, Beachwood, full-service marketing agency; Cleveland Grand Prix Charities Inc., Cleveland, auto-race organizer and fund-raiser; Cohen & Co., Cleveland, regional accounting and consulting firm; Conley Canitano & Associates, Mayfield Hts., information technology firm; Connecting Touch & Wellness Center Inc., Cuyahoga Falls, massage therapy clinic; Mr. Hero/Restaurant Developers Corp., Independence, food…
Monday, 22 July 2002 10:03

Executive pop culture quiz

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When you've got your head down, trying to build an ever-better business, it's easy to forget to occasionally look up and around at the outside world. That's simply forfeiting an important link to your customers. We know keeping up is a problem; according to an often-cited survey by Jericho Communications, 53 percent of executives at the largest corporations think the Arch Deluxe is something that helps run a computer. (We assume that the top brass at McDonald's and Microsoft know better.) Are you of the opinion that Barney and Power Rangers are still the hot kids' shows? As our own…
Monday, 22 July 2002 10:02

Can we trade for it?

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Michael Becce knew he could successfully publicize the Summerland Group's innovative office workstation products, but the company couldn't afford his price. So Becce won them a lengthy feature spotlight in Fortune magazine instead, in exchange for Summerland designing, sponsoring and maintaining his Web site. Becce also wanted FaxSav's powerful broadcast facsimile service, but he couldn't afford its price. So FaxSav discounted its rates in exchange for Becce's Sawtooth Public Relations savvy. "We've been delighted with both situations," Becce says. Becce's introduction to the barter business was serendipitous, but his experience is shared by many companies today. The National Association of…
Monday, 22 July 2002 10:02

Answers to executive pop culture quiz

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1. B: Five years ago, this company was near death. Today, it's suing other retailers for copying the "signature" look of ratty jeans, pre-worn hats and large, collegiate lettering on the front of every garment. Want to reach the college freshmen? Benchmark A&F. 2. C: It stands for "The End Of The World As We Know It" and it's the rallying cry among those who are preparing for 1/1/00 by filling secret bunkers with canned beans and firearms. They laugh at your efforts to Y2K-proof your computers, because they believe the entire power grid is going to go down anyway,…
Monday, 22 July 2002 10:02

The art of training

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It was no small task. Harold Miller, owner of Solon-based Marplex Inc., was asked by Rubbermaid Inc. to develop a training program to teach the company's hundreds of managers and thousands of employees how to comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act. Marplex devised a day-long "train the trainer" workshop for Rubbermaid's human resource managers from around the country. The intensive workshop taught the HR managers how to use the ADA materials to train managers and employees at each of their own locations. The method worked, says Miller, because Rubbermaid knew what it wanted to do-teach its entire workforce about…
Monday, 22 July 2002 10:02

Start them off right

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For most entrepreneurs, the initial path to building a business is smoothed by tapping a network of similarly situated peers from school, family or neighborhood networks. They might not be able to directly help locate financing or good employees, but they can at least serve as a sounding board or traffic cop, pointing in the right direction. But Marty Tarr, the son of a disabled Lakewood plumber, never had the benefit of such sylvan connections. "The problem for me growing up was, we were all blue collar," he says. "I didn't know any business people, didn't know any white collar…
Monday, 22 July 2002 10:02

Reap the whirlwind

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Some time early next year, as the incoming 106th Congress sits down to whatever business the lobbyists have decided is most important to it, members are likely to experience an uncomfortable sense of dj? vu. Because after all the pre-election posing and proclamations about the chief executive offender, after October's dramatic vote for an impeachment inquiry, Congress will probably have to vote again to authorize impeachment. This being December, and the general public being thoroughly tired of the Reich-wing witch hunt against Clinton, expect Henry Hyde to move heaven and Earth to finish enough of his lame-duck preliminaries before the…
Monday, 22 July 2002 10:02

Other programs of note

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Meaningful contributions aren't limited to the Pillar Award honorees. Here are some other noteworthy programs that the judges highlighted from the pool of nominees: The Lubrizol Corp.'s involvement in the Christmas in April program has helped several disabled and elderly Lake County residents maintain their homes. Says Mikey Darcy, executive director of Christmas in April Northcoast, "Because of their volunteerism, we were able to make repairs to two homes completely sponsored by the Lubrizol Corporation with financial and volunteer support." For the past nine years, the company has also donated $2,500 from the Wickliffe plant and another $2,000 from the…
Monday, 22 July 2002 10:02

Manufacturing on the Net

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Can't seem to find a supplier for the extrusion machine you've been looking to buy? Well, you may want to click onto Industry.net. Among the site's many offerings is a comprehensive source supplier directory which allows visitors to search worldwide for suppliers of more than 10 million different products. Industry.net also offers articles on new applications for existing technology and tidbits about what's new in areas such as factory automation, supply chain development and ERP/MRP systems. There's also a loaded reference shelf stocked with federal and state safety compliance regulations and interpretations; engineering equations and formulas, and a drawing requirements…
Monday, 22 July 2002 10:02

Keeping your digits from decay

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storage technology come at the price of increased care for the media and periodic upgrading of the drives The Rosetta Stone, which unlocked the secrets of ancient languages, is still legible after 22 centuries. Gutenberg's first Bibles can still be read from the pages he printed more than 500 years ago. But the 1960 U.S. census had to be rescued from microfilm, because the magnetic tapes on which the cumulative data was stored had so degraded that most of the information was indecipherable. As businesses move their records onto electronic storage media-disks, tapes and CD-ROMs, issues of information durability and…
Monday, 22 July 2002 10:01

Fit for life

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You're working 60-hour weeks, your cash flow is a constant problem and one of your biggest customers is on the verge of bankruptcy. Who has time to exercise? "For the small-business owner, the climate they are in puts them under so much stress it is very important that they exercise," advises Larry Roofner, director of wellness for the Orlando Regional Healthcare System. "Many executives use the martini to relieve stress, but exercise is a better way. Some experts say 80 percent of all diseases are stress related." Opinions vary as to how often and how long you should exercise, but…
Monday, 22 July 2002 10:01

Dialing for dollars

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The one thing all salespeople have in common is customers. Finding and interesting the customer who can say "yes" to your company's product or service is called prospecting, and it may be the toughest task salespeople love to avoid. For companies with money to spend, there are list brokers in every big city who will deliver names and phone numbers of pre-qualified potential customers for your salespeople to call. "As a rule of thumb, the more money you spend, the better the quality of information you get," says Paul S. Goldner, president of Sales & Performance Group, LLC, in Katonah,…
Monday, 22 July 2002 10:01

Business disaster facts

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So you think you're prepared for a disaster? Well you'd better be, because even the heartiest companies are likely to suffer serious hardship due to catastrophe. And even the bravest CEOs should take note of these disaster-related statistics, compliments of the Business and Industry Council for Emergency Planning and Preparedness. Eighty-five percent of businesses affected by disaster shut down within five years. As many as 70 percent close their doors within two years. The average disaster causes the equivalent of 4.8 down days. The average Fortune 500 company loses more than $78,000 per hour of disaster-related shutdown. Ninety-three percent of…
Monday, 22 July 2002 10:01

A second chance for second chances

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You may not have noticed in all the impeachment ruckus, but the 105th Congress actually did get something accomplished this year. The Workforce Investment Act of 1998 "is the biggest makeover or reform of job training programs probably in our history," according to Jay Diskey, spokesman for the House Education and Workforce Committee in Washington, D.C. The act, signed into law by President Clinton last August, consolidates and streamlines more than 60 federal job training programs dating as far back as the 1940s. It authorizes nearly $6 billion a year in federal block grants to the states, mandates a system…
Monday, 22 July 2002 10:00

The enlightened age of Human Resources

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Margaret Boros knows the human resources field isn’t universally admired in this age of high-concept management. In fact, she points out, her discipline is engulfed in its own wrenching internal debate about its place in the corporate pecking order. “There’s this big discussion going on in HR: Does the internal HR function add value or not? They’re so paranoid about it; it’s almost like they’re trying to convince themselves,” she says. But that applies more to what she calls the “old HR,” a kind of grim, in-house corporate scold, robotically issuing lists of dos and don’ts divorced from the peculiar…
Monday, 22 July 2002 10:00

So much for the rust belt

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The number of manufacturing jobs and production facilities increased statewide last year in every area but Northeast Ohio. The net loss to the region—which includes Cleveland, Akron, Canton, Solon, Elyria, Mentor, Twinsburg and Lorain—was a whopping 82 facilities last year, which took 342 jobs with them. The area, however, remains the dominant employer of manufacturing jobs in the state. It’s an odd predicament, considering that the overall climate for manufacturers in Ohio has been positive. For the second year in a row, the number of manufacturers and manufacturing jobs has gone up. According to the 1999 Ohio Manufacturers Directory, Ohio…
Monday, 22 July 2002 10:00

Pricing capital equipment

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Electronic commerce is a distant dream if a company isn't internally computerized, says Michael Gemmer, president of The Gemmer Group Inc. in Akron. He's been called in more than once to help pick up the pieces after an anxious CEO has authorized purchase of expensive new computers and software, watched it piled in the middle of the room, then wondered, "What are we going to do with all this stuff?" "The essence of e-commerce is replacing manual systems with electronic ones and integrating everything," Gemmer says. Before buying anything, he advises businesses to struggle with precisely the process Yesterday Corp.…
Monday, 22 July 2002 10:00

Out of time

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The company policy is very clear: No overtime will be paid unless the employee requested approval before working the extra hours. The law is also clear: You have to pay the employee for any overtime worked regardless of what your policy says. “If the boss says ‘see ya,’ and goes home while the employees work on, the boss thinks he’s safe because the company has a rule that overtime won’t be paid without approval,” says Joseph M. Sellers, a partner and director of the civil rights practice group at the Washington D.C.-based law firm of Cohen, Milstein, Hausfeld & Toll.…
Monday, 22 July 2002 10:00

Making it up as they go

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For Tom Roberts, it looked like the deal of a lifetime. A former jazz musician who still peppers his conversation with "cats" to refer to people, Roberts was building a modest reputation for developing and hosting Web sites for a quirky range of clients under the banner of Cleveland-based CM&D. But his larger vision was to position himself amid that crowded field in a less-well-occupied niche, as a Web-based publisher of data-rich material. Eventually, the biggest opportunity of all arose: In conjunction with a couple of universities, he converted static Ohio public assistance and administrative procedure manuals to electronic formats…
Monday, 22 July 2002 10:00

Letters to the editor

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With reference to the subject article appearing in the December 1998, Small Business News. I agree with most of your comments in this article, but differ on one item. You state, “Clinton landed a platoon of Marines on a beach in Somalia for a photo op.” If my memory serves me correctly, wasn’t the Somalia operation a failed foreign policy attempt that resulted in the death of U.S. servicemen? I recently read that the White House improperly revised the troop’s mission from security guards for food shipments to a police action with the goal to arrest one of the war…
Monday, 22 July 2002 10:00

Great moments in Cleveland business

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1901: Alexander Winton, widely considered the first manufacturer of passenger cars for the general market, introduces his two-cylinder automobile engine. 1903: Alwin and Theodore Ernst open an accounting office in downtown Cleveland, beginning the firm that would later become the worldwide accounting firm of Ernst & Young LLP. 1904: Cleveland Cap Screw Co., a forerunner of TRW Inc., produces a new type of automobile valve that greatly enhances the durability of engines, the first of many technological innovations. 1918: Aviation designer Glenn Martin produces Cleveland’s first airplane, the MB-2 bomber. He later relocates to Baltimore. Despite several mergers in the…