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Friday, 28 March 2003 08:34

Movers & Shakers

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ACCOUNTING & CONSULTING Skoda, Minotti & Co. has a new Web site, www.skodaminotti.com. Steven Albert, Andrew Gianella, Linda Maichl and Stephen Merriam were named partner at Ulmer & Berne. Liggett-Stashower hired Ken Barhoover as senior marketing data analyst of the direct marketing group and Tim Scenna as assistant traffic manager of the traffic/estimating group. Carl A. Murway of Taft, Stettinius & Hollister received certification as a specialist in family relations law. Mary G. Balazs received certification in labor and employment law. Meaden & Moore added Michael J. Miller and Kristin Sikora as staff accountants and Nanette J. Musch as a…
Friday, 28 March 2003 06:31

Perspectives

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What's it like to be a woman in business? Seems like a logical question, especially considering the massive changes in the work force since World War II. In 1950, 33 percent of women worked outside the home; by 1999, 60 percent did. Today, women make up half of the labor force, but what does this really mean for female employees and those who employ them? Despite numerous statistics that point to an increased representation of women in the work force, there are a few areas where the numbers are less than impressive. For example, only 9 percent of corporate officers…
Friday, 28 March 2003 06:25

Plotting Cleveland's destiny ... uh, density

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David Abbott, the new executive director of the George Gund Foundation, knows a thing or two about the importance of generating community buzz. Before joining the influential Cleveland-focused grantmaker earlier this year, Abbott served as president of University Circle Inc., executive director of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum and executive director of the Cleveland Bicentennial Commission. So when he starts talking about Cleveland's future, it's wise to listen. "We spend a lot of time thinking about the wrong things as a community," Abbott says. "We have a tendency to think one big idea will be the…
Thursday, 27 March 2003 19:00

Decision-makers

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Choosing a health plan for employees is one of the most important decisions an employer will make. Employees are smarter and better informed than ever, and they expect a plan that meets their needs. Employers make their company's health plan decisions based on factors, including the amount of premiums, benefits and the size of the network. Just as important, they make decisions based upon quality, although quality is intangible and sometimes difficult to evaluate. For help, employers can turn to standards for evaluation such as those provided by the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA), a private, not-for-profit organization dedicated…
Thursday, 27 February 2003 08:21

Budget meetings

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Hosting a meeting or event is never cheap. Facility rental, food, drinks and other services such as audio-visuals can dent your budget in a hurry. But it is possible to have a successful meeting and stay within your budget if you know what to look for. Accreditation from the International Association of Conference Centers is one place to start. "Accreditation from the IACC means that there are certain standards and amenities that will come with the meetings," says Jan Conrad, general manager of the Shisler Conference Center. "There will not be all kinds of additional costs that will be added…
Thursday, 27 February 2003 08:14

Bargain hunters

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With intense consolidation and quarter after quarter of tough times, many industries are experiencing, what some call a market consolidation and others just call bad times. But one business's misfortune can be another's opportunity, and those that take advantage of opportunities reap the rewards. One of the best opportunities manufacturers have right now is to take advantage of the great bargains on used equipment. "It's a great time to buy," says Paul Betori, owner of HGR Industrial Supply Inc. Some businesses are replacing old equipment, while others are looking ahead. "I see some business buying things for future expansion ...…
Thursday, 27 February 2003 08:10

Special agent

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Most business owners use a real estate agent to sell a former office headquarters or manufacturing facility. While using an agent saves time in the long run, you must first do research to find the best firm to sell the property. Here is a checklist to follow from TotalRealEstateSolutions.com to make sure you'll get the most profit out of your sale. Do a phone interview. Place a call to each of the agents on your list. Document how quickly they return your call. Remember, these agents will be returning calls to your prospective buyers. Do an initial feel-out interview over…
Thursday, 27 February 2003 07:49

O'er the mountain top

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Business owners and managers can learn a lot from early American pioneers. Pioneers had a vision: Go West. They encountered mountains without highways, rivers without bridges, wild animals and extreme weather. Each represented a potential barrier that could stop them from achieving their vision. They had two choices -- turn around or develop strategies to overcome the barriers. Like pioneers, business owners must set, then focus on their vision, no matter what the perceived barriers. The belief must hold that no barrier is insurmountable. With sufficient effort and creativity, the goals can be achieved. If one strategy doesn't work, try…
Thursday, 27 February 2003 07:04

Honesty is the best policy

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Many moons ago, when I was a cub reporter at a small daily newspaper, I received my first real performance review. I'd been a business reporter there for about six months, and thought I'd done a good job. My business stories were engaging and well written, I generated plenty of content each day and, more important, I rarely got scooped by the competition. So it came as something of a surprise when the editor swept through those positives rather quickly, then spent the bulk of the meeting discussing areas where I needed improvement. She rattled off a list that included…
Wednesday, 26 February 2003 19:00

Front runner

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In the midst of the frenzy of media attention devoted to dot-com start-ups, overvalued IPOs and accounting discrepancies, well-run companies were labeled as boring and often ignored. Who wanted to read about a good company, business editors reasoned, when so many others were falling apart? At face value, Wickliffe-based Lubrizol Corp. is one of those "boring" companies. A fluid technology company with nearly $2 billion in sales, it delivers consistent sales revenue, steady growth and shareholder dividends. It's no wonder, then, that in these "the worse news, the better" days of journalism that Lubrizol has flown beneath the media's radar.…
Thursday, 30 January 2003 19:00

Bogged down

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The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency used to play good cop, bad cop when it came to wetlands regulations. The Corps previously required that real estate developers replace an equal number of wetlands acres for every one disturbed by a building project. The Ohio EPA, on the other hand, categorized each type of wetlands destroyed, and at times, required developers to replace more acreage than was lost. But on Christmas Eve, the Corps of Engineers and the U.S. EPA issued a joint memo which appears to say that the Corps will follow the EPA's…
Thursday, 30 January 2003 19:00

Merit of achievement

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Merit Brass Co. is using electronic data interchange to save time, money and improve communications with customers. Merit, which manufactures pipe nipples and is also a master distributor of pipe, valves and fittings for plumbing and industrial uses, has seen an increase of interest in EDI transactions in the last year. While other industries are using massive Web-based solutions that tie in manufacturers, distributors and customers, the pipe, valve and fitting industry has not. Small distributors with limited budgets and a lack of Internet access have kept Web-based e-commerce from blossoming like it has in other sectors of the economy.…
Thursday, 30 January 2003 19:00

Equal time

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It's easy to get stuck in rut when running a business. You tend to solve problems the same way, try the same growth strategies and call on the same people for advice. Eventually, you run out of new ideas. That, in part, was why the Young Entrepreneurs' Organization (YEO) was created. The group, which has chapters all over the world, accepts business owners from all industries, as long as you join before your 39th birthday. The Cleveland chapter includes entrepreneurs from around Northeast Ohio including Akron, Canton, Alliance and Bath, says chapter President Adam Kaufman, who is also vice president…
Thursday, 30 January 2003 19:00

Hot wheels

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At one time, buying a wheelchair simply required finding a company that makes them and placing an order from among the limited selection of big bulky, unattractive products. Today, the customer has a vast array of wheelchair models to choose from, and you can buy your custom wheelchair or other medical products online. In late 2001, Invacare revamped its Web site to meet the changing needs of a growing consumer base. Those shopping for a wheelchair can see a 3-D demo of the company's newest products, like its super lightweight A-4 model with adjustable center of gravity feature and color…
Friday, 31 January 2003 09:09

Ups and downs

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(Ups) to Penton Media. In December, the beleagured media company sold Streaming Media Inc. to Information Today Inc., further reducing its noncore asset holdings as part of its restructuring plan. The move, which lessens Penton's debt load, puts the company one step closer to a rebound. (Downs) to Cuyahoga County. Its new $5.6 million computer system purchased to handle property tax billing was installed late and delayed mailing property tax bills out to homeowners until it was almost too late for them to get their payments in before Dec. 31. While the payments weren't due until the end of January,…
Friday, 31 January 2003 09:00

State of mind

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Reputation -- even that of a state -- means everything, says Ohio Department of Development (ODOD) Director Bruce Johnson. For years, Ohio's primary strength has been its manufacturing sector, but Johnson says that's not what the state needs to be known for now. Fresh from a stint in the Ohio Senate, Johnson is working to apply Gov. Taft's directive to turn Ohio into a high-value, high-tech business state. But it's an uphill battle, he says, one that will take a great deal of money and marketing to win. With its Rust Belt history, Ohio is not one of the first…
Thursday, 30 January 2003 19:00

About our sponsors

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Crowe Chizek and Co. LLP Crowe Chizek and Co. LLP prides itself on its ability to integrate technology-driven processes with manufacturing industry knowledge, resulting in solutions that address its clients' specific business needs. The firm's consultants stay abreast of the latest trends and continually monitor changes in channel dynamics, such as those brought about by the Internet. Crowe Chizek understands manufacturing. Founded in 1942, it is one of the top 10 public accounting firms in the United States, serving clients worldwide as a leading member of Horwath International. With annual revenue exceeding $200 million, it has 16 offices in seven…
Friday, 31 January 2003 08:38

Power play

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When was the last time you pulled your credit report? Odds are, you didn't do it before you applied for a business loan or a mortgage on a new home. And when you finally discovered what it contained, there's a good chance you received a not-so-welcome surprise. There is a growing problem with credit reports that has consumers and businesspeople alike crying foul. Most consumers don't know the exact number of open credit, gas and store charge accounts they have, and even those who do are often surprised to learn there are accounts they think are closed that the credit…
Thursday, 30 January 2003 06:27

Down, but out?

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OM Group After somewhat disappointing second quarter 2002 results, OM Group told investors mid-2002 that its business was strong and that all indicators were for a good second half. As a result, its stock continued to trade above $50 per share.Then on Sept. 19, OM Group warned that its third quarter 2002 results would be slightly lower than prior statements, but that results would still be significantly higher than in the prior year. On Oct. 29, it announced a huge loss, an inventory write-down and a future restructuring. Subsequently, its stock dropped to as low as $8.60 per share. To…
Friday, 20 December 2002 09:18

Positively right

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Fraud costs U.S. businesses more than $400 billion annually, but banks are helping their business clients fight back with technology. For example, business clients using Fifth Third Direct, the online banking arm of Fifth Third Bank, can sign up for Positive Pay. "Positive Pay allows us to provide a list of items that are suspect in each account every day," says Ann Byington, vice president, treasury management, for Fifth Third. "The user signs into the system and sees the accounts that have items that are suspect. They then choose whether to stop payment on the item or approve it for…
Friday, 20 December 2002 09:15

On-site management

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Web sites must have up-to-date information to keep users coming back, and the best way to keep your site current is to take control of the content yourself. "Web sites have gone through an evolution," says Dale Pease, president of Walking Stick Productions, a Cuyahoga Falls-based Web developer. "First you had the brochure sites, then people saw the need to update the information and try to use it as a tool to interact with customers. But this was still based on the model of calling your Web developer to make the changes, and it ended up being a bottleneck. "The…
Friday, 20 December 2002 09:10

Defective trust

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Regardless of what may or may not happen with the estate -- a.k.a. death -- tax in the next few years, it's a good idea for those with large estates to begin as early as possible to decrease their estate tax liability. One way to do that is to set up a type of grantor trust, sometimes referred to as a defective trust. "With a defective trust, the grantor is taking advantage of an anomaly in the income and estate tax laws," says J. Michael Kolk, managing partner at Cohen & Co.'s Akron office. "It is a technique that is…
Friday, 20 December 2002 09:06

Looking ahead

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Out with the old, in with the new ... at least that's how the saying goes. Cliché or not, New Year's allows us to draw a line in the invisible sand and start anew. However, the same doesn't always hold true for businesses. Sure, Dec. 31 is the end of the fiscal year for some companies. But for others, Jan. 1 means little beyond personal property tax implications for inventory in a warehouse or assessing the value of a corporate office building or two for the previous year's tax filings. Whatever the significance, January is the month when most people…
Friday, 20 December 2002 08:54

Workers' compensation

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Issues surrounding workplace injuries merit close attention by all Ohio employers, with recent changes in Ohio law underscoring the need for continued vigilance. The recent determination by the Bureau of Workers' Compensation to eliminate the 75 percent premium rebate that many employers have been receiving is a prime example. Because many businesses have become accustomed to receiving the rebate, the unbudgeted leap in premiums will negatively impact their bottom line. Be prepared for increases over your historic premiums for the upcoming year. Ohio Supreme Court decisions will also have an impact on Ohio businesses. In Norgard v. Brush Wellman, 95…
Tuesday, 26 November 2002 08:22

Security breach

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The executives of many smaller companies think they don't have to make security a priority because they simply don't have anything worth stealing. These same executives also tend to overlook the value of their customer lists, trade secrets or even employees who might become targets of criminals, says Ralph Witherspoon, a certified protection professional and president of Witherspoon Security Consulting. Witherspoon recommends companies do a risk assessment, which starts with identifying all the things that are critical to your business or building. "Once you do that, you simply look at what the threats are to the business," says Witherspoon. "It…
Tuesday, 26 November 2002 08:12

Empower suit

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In 1995, Dress For Success founder Nancy Lublin appeared on the "Today Show" to tell America that she planned to start a unique organization to dress women who had been out of the work force for several years for job interviews. One of the millions of people who watched that morning was Ricki Weiss, who immediately called Lublin to ask her one question, "How can I bring this to Cleveland?" Three years later, Dress For Success Cleveland was founded, and to date, it has clothed more than 5,600 women for job interviews. The Cleveland chapter is one of 73 affiliates…
Tuesday, 26 November 2002 08:08

Embracing change

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There's no doubt that the standards by which corporations conduct themselves have changed, as scandals at companies like Enron, WorldCom and Tyco have brought to light some of corporate America's ethical shortcomings. But not all of corporate America fits that mold, and even before the revelation of these problems, many businesses were already focusing on improving corporate identity. Some have learned what Charter One Bank did, that "such an ambitious goal would require strategic planning and execution, multifaceted interventions and developing new competencies at both the individual and organizational levels," according to its mission statement. Charter One and senior vice…