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Monday, 22 July 2002 09:59

Reinventing the wheel

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Jim Browning ordered a new Corvette in January 1997, but not as a successful aging executive in the throes of a midlife crisis struggling to hang on to the remnants of his youth and vitality. Browning-owner of Corsa Performance-wanted something else from the newly redesigned high-performance vehicle. He planned to profit from it. When the car arrived in April, Corsa had already developed new muffler tips for its tail pipe, the ones that give the Corvette's bold, flashy exterior its finishing touch. But those external accessories were only the beginning. Next, Corsa engineers redesigned the Corvette's exhaust system. Chevrolet executives…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:59

Mixing alcohol and the law

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Have you dreamed about opening that little corner bar where everybody knows your name or unleashing your culinary talents in a trendy bistro named after your high school sweetheart? Prospective buyers of businesses that serve or sell alcohol should be aware of two recent decisions from the Ohio appellate courts. One clarifies the degree of effort required of a purchaser to obtain transfer of a liquor permit. The second may create a new cause of action against owners for customers who have reached the age of majority (18), but are under the legal drinking age of 21, and who are…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:59

Inflation's evil twin

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Todd P. Martin's personal experience with deflation-inflation's evil twin-was fairly typical for an American. Martin recently went shopping for a computer. He decided on a Gateway model and sent an order to the South Dakota-based manufacturer. Two days after he opened the box, the machine dropped $150 in price. Two weeks later, it dropped $250 more. Martin's frustration was muted because Gateway had built a 30-day price protection guarantee into his purchase. The company expeditiously refunded him $400. That's deflation for most Americans today: Prices go down, consumers pay less-and they like it. "We don't have true deflation yet," says…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:59

If anyone here objects to this union...

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In a move pregnant with possibilities, the 4,000-member Direct Marketing Association in October merged with another national trade group, the Association of Interactive Media. If the marriage of these two industry segments made sense nationally, one would think that a merger would make equal sense on the local level, right? Well, not really, says the Northeast Ohio Direct Marketing Association, which has no formal affiliation with the DMA but maintains plenty of looser ties. "The most formal thing [to build bridges with cyberspace counterparts] we've done is to put together programs for the Communications Know Show," says NODMA president Kim…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:59

Direct results

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When Jeff Grammer and his partners needed computer gear for IntegrationWare, their start-up software development firm in 1993, they stopped at a small storefront in a warehouse. What they found was impressive. "There was a high level of service, they knew what they were talking about and their prices were cheap," says Grammer, who serves as IntegrationWare's chief technology officer. The storefront company was CDW, one of the early entrants into the direct marketing of computers and computer components. Both companies have grown, but the relationship remains. "The couple of times we've bought retail, it hasn't been a good experience,"…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:59

Calling all countries

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You've always wanted to take that trip to Europe, but were never willing to lose contact with the office for long periods of time. With a GSM phone, you can be lying on the beach along the French Riviera and your assistant in Pittsburgh can call you on your phone without the hassle of foreign operators or rude hotel clerks. GSM-Global System for Mobile communications-is the standard digital technology in Europe. In the United States, GSM competes with the other two digital technologies, CDMA and TDMA. "GSM phones simplify data connections to laptops and palmtops," says Mike Houghton, spokesperson for…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:59

Attending to business

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Rod Murrow recalls the associate whose secretary couldn't get to work on time to save her job. Murrow's associate tried persuading, cajoling, threatening, but nothing worked to inspire the assistant to arrive at her appointed starting time of 8 a.m. So the associate asked the secretary what time she wanted to start. They agreed to adjust her starting time to 9 a.m. to ensure prompt arrival and commencement of duties. And it worked. For a while. Two weeks later, the secretary was back to her old habit of showing up late for work. The last straw broke when the associate…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:58

Three types of insurance most forget to buy

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While most business owners are careful to maintain adequate coverage for theft, fires, floods and other natural disasters, too many overlook three critical areas of vulnerability. Business interruption insurance reimburses for overhead expenses and loss of profits when a fire or other occurrence interferes with day-to-day operations. It’s separate from disaster coverage, which addresses physical damage. Be sure the policy protects against the failure of a primary vendor to provide materials or products you need to conduct business. If your business encompasses more than one location, look into blanket coverage for property damage, business interruption and extra expenses. You can…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:58

Something a little more stylish

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My dad once gave me an Armani suit, and until I finally wore the knees and elbows shiny, it was my favorite. Actually, he bought it for himself, in a mood to wear something other than his accustomed Brooks Brothers styling. So he went into one of those shops where the hired hands communicate by sniffing, and eventually settled on the Armani. They chalked the waist and the cuffs and sent it out for tailoring. A week or so later, my dad picked it up, took it home and tried it on. “No matter how long I looked in the…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:58

Paperless office, ha, ha, ha

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If you kept all the records your business produces, you’d be buried in paper. However, not having the right record readily available when the IRS calls may be hazardous to your company’s health. That’s why you need to speak with a CPA or other records retention experts before any spring cleaning. “You want to keep records if you need to produce them for any authority,” says Joel S. Cohn, tax partner at Snyder, Cohn, Collyer, Hamilton & Associates, P.C., a Bethesda, Md.-based accountancy. Snyder, Cohn offers its clients a handy “records retention schedule” to help them decide what paper must…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:58

News clips

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Health oasis Looking for reliable information on the Net regarding that strange skin rash you’ve developed? Try the Mayo Clinic’s Health O@sis at www.mayohealth.org. The library has information on everything from arthritis to urinary tract infections. There’s information on alternative medicine and sections on men’s health, women’s health and children’s health. The site features a handy glossary for getting definitions of medical terms without spending six years in medical school. When will I be cured? Medscape is a site where doctors, students and consumers can search among more than 7,000 full-text articles on the latest medical research. If you want…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:58

It takes more than a good idea

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Mark Richey started his business like most entrepreneurs—with a nose-to-the-ground search for capital. He says he “knew better” than to count on bank financing to provide seed capital for his Internet-hosted telesales, telemarketing and customer service business. So he targeted the private investment and venture capital community instead. “In 1997, I incorporated, and at that moment I started talking to people,” says Richey, president of Cincinnati-based Intelecare Inc. Those discussions eventually led him to Innovest, a venture capital conference that rotates annually among Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati. Richey says the training he received and contacts he made after being selected…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:58

High anxiety

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More than 19 million Americans suffer from anxiety disorders, but fewer than one-third receive treatment. Are you one of them? If you suffer from symptoms such as panic attacks, obsessive thoughts, flashbacks or nightmares, you may have an anxiety disorder that should receive medical or psychological treatment. “Business people that feel great responsibility and continuous stress, and do not get enough of the rest they need in terms of sleep and relaxation, are more likely to suffer from a mental disorder,” says Michael Faenza, president and CEO of the National Mental Health Association. “Their behavior has a lot to do…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:58

Ergo standards

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The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has set summer as a target date for issuing national ergonomics standards. SBN talked to Gary Klatsky, an expert in human factors and ergonomics and a cognitive psychologist at the State University of New York at Oswego. Why does there need to be a national ergonomics standard? There were 277,000 cumulative trauma disorder cases reported in 1997. Although the numbers of reported cases has declined the past two years, the costs related to these injuries are tremendous. Do you think a particular industry will be targeted, or will the standards apply to all sectors?…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:58

Don’t have a cow, man

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“It’s often assumed that after you reach the top of the corporate ladder ... that you’re more disposed to give ulcers than to get them,” says Dr. Paul J. Rosch, president of the American Institute of Stress. But it really is lonely at the top, Rosch says, and boardroom-quality stress is of a different type than that experienced by those governed by the boardroom. CEO stress manifests itself as insomnia, headaches, backaches, nervousness, stomach distress, high blood pressure and other symptoms common to many forms of stress. It differs from others in its cause: CEOs often feel they have to…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:58

Computer calling

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Computers have ventured into just about every aspect of our lives, so it shouldn’t come as any surprise that when you open up the phone closets in some companies, you find a computer handling the phone duties instead of the traditional PBX system. This new class of system is usually called a telecom server. Under the traditional model, phone users were usually limited to one manufacturer’s system: Vendor X would provide you with their PBX equipment, their phones, their voice mail system—and it usually wasn’t compatible with other equipment. Once you chose Vendor X, you were stuck with them. “The…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:58

A kilowatt in time

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Some building managers offer a variety of reasons for putting off making improvements to the energy efficiency of their facilities. Several of the more common reasons are nothing more than myths. Let’s look at some of these myths and see why they should not prevent businesses, particularly small businesses, from upgrading a building and reducing energy costs. The myth: If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it. Old equipment should be replaced only when it burns out, wears out or breaks. The fact: Heating and air conditioning equipment that is more than 10 years old uses more energy than modern replacements.…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:57

Winning is second best

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The election last year of Jimmy Hoffa to the presidency of the Teamsters union means business owners in Ohio and elsewhere are going to hear more about organization efforts in their companies. While unions once represented about 30 percent of the American work force, they are now down to about 14 percent (just 10 percent if you exclude union membership among government workers). However, unions aren’t going to vanish. After a period of decline, there is evidence that unions are gaining strength. Wage increases have been modest in the last few years, and unions have been slowly whipping up sentiment…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:57

Ups and Downs

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Ups to University Hospitals Health Systems, for buying a big PPO and stake in four hospitals from Columbia/HCA. It’s better competition for the Cleveland Clinic, while we wave bye-bye to the Kmart of health care. Ups to Rep. John Kasich, the spunky GOP from Ohio whose presidential slogan is a timely “K2K”. Most count him out already, but you’ve got to love an underdog with an overbite. Downs to the Euclid Corridor renewal, an economic development deal disguised as a transit project. The feds want to give $270 million to some city, and it might as well be Cleveland. Still,…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:57

Relationship banking

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The marketing campaigns all carry the same message: come to our bank and we’ll love you like an only child, take care of all your needs and eliminate the thought of ever considering going anywhere else. The reality is something less than that, the degree of which is dependent on where you do your banking. “The concept of relationship banking is that all of the accounts or loans a business has can be displayed simultaneously to the relationship manager or loan officer and analyzed,” says George Dawson, author of “Borrowing to Build Your Business” (Upstart Publishing) and a 23-year veteran…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:57

Please call back later and try again

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Few things are more annoying to busy executives than the endless stream of sales calls they get every day. Perhaps you survive with the keen insight, wit and experience of a dedicated assistant who swipes callers away like so many pesky mosquitoes. You might not believe some of the tactics callers use to wiggle their way past your gatekeeper. OfficeTeam, a Menlo Park, Calif.-based staffing service, collected some of the innovative tactics. “It’s really between her and me ... please put me through.” “I’m calling to follow up on an important matter we discussed last month.” “If you don’t connect…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:57

Marketing proposal

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The health care field has changed so rapidly in recent years that experts who study it on a full-time basis are having a hard time keeping up. First came the managed care invasion in the form of HMOs, PPOs and others, which have quickly pushed indemnity insurance to the brink of extinction. With consumer backlash growing against the restrictions of HMOs, insurers are offering more flexible PPOs as government intervention creeps into the picture. Now, even the local bastion of community health care, the hospital, finds itself in the midst of a highly competitive battle for market share as national…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:57

It’s not that difficult, folks

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It’s OK if you don’t understand — or care about — “stranded costs” and “retail marketing areas.” These terms may lace the vocabulary of those embroiled in Ohio’s electric restructuring debate, but the reality is deregulation hinges on something far more familiar: cold, hard cash. “It is a fight between the utilities and customers over money. That’s what this is all about,” says Luther Heckman, former chairman of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio. “Utilities that currently get money from customers don’t want to lose it and customers who have to pay utility bills would like to pay less.” Here’s…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:57

Fraud factors

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Health care is a trillion dollar industry in the United States. Unfortunately, health care fraud is nearly a $100 billion dollar industry. It is a cancer that affects everyone: Taxpayers must pay more to support Medicare and Medicaid; consumers must pay higher premiums or deductibles for health insurance; and companies must shell out more to provide coverage for employees. For years, good old-fashioned investigative work has been used to ferret out such fraud. But this approach is useful only after a crime has been committed. As is the case with health care itself, prevention is a much-preferred approach. Fortunately, technology…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:57

Deciding factors

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You work hard competing against changing markets, bigger competitors and a thousand other obstacles facing small business owners. Then one day, it happens; you get that big order. All the sales presentations paid off, because you now have an invoice for 1,000 units. The only problem is, you’ve never produced more than 100 units in that time frame, and the extra people and materials needed will cost more than your credit will allow, and the customer is notoriously slow paying. Combined with all the other outstanding accounts, you have invoices for all the money you need to continue operations. The…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:57

Business Notes

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The GlobalServe Corp. was honored as a Beacon Award finalist for the Best in Lotusphere Showcase—R5 Solution award at Lotusphere ‘99. Medical Mutual of Ohio has selected Marcus Advertising to handle the health insurer’s corporate image advertising program. Hudson-based Henning Industrial Software has reached an agreement with N.C. Computer Systems Ltd. of Mulgrave, Australia, to distribute Henning’s products in Australia. Corporate Electronic Stationery was named one of the top 200 distributors for 1998 by Business Forms, Labels & Systems magazine. Ralph Johnson Jr. will head the new southern Ohio office of EDR Systems located near the I-70/I-75 interchange. Webber Electronics,…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:57

10 years of steady growth

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Here is a history of modest expansion at Great Lakes Brewing Co.: 1990: Eases production bottleneck by installing four-bottle line—ending the slow process of bottling by hand and increasing capacity from 30 cases/day to 200—enough to allow brewing of 1,500 barrels/year. Investment: $30,000. 1992-93: Two-phase expansion comprises purchase of parking lot and two buildings—the Market Avenue structure where the brewpub is located and the shuttered Fries & Sheule Department Store building directly behind it. A third brewing vessel is added to original pair, plus extra fermentation tanks. Capacity grows twice, from 1,500 barrels/year to 2,500, and then to 5,000—testing limits…