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What does Anthem do to support women in business? The same things we do to support every business leader — because women expect the same value, innovation and dedication as any other forward-thinking leader. How do we know? Our parent company was named a 2012 “Top 50 Company for Executive Women” by the National Association for Female Executives.We also listen to the many women business leaders we serve to stay on target. Ohio is ranked No. 9 of the top 10 states for women-owned businesses. And as of 2012, there are more than 8.3 million women-owned businesses in the United…
The economy is still recovering from the recent recession and businesses continue to experience budget pressures. Companies often react by cutting back, which can be a wise decision in some instances. But one area that should never be impacted by budget cuts is insurance coverage. “In fact, when budgets are tight, having proper insurance coverage is more important than ever,” says Peter Bern, CEO of Leverity Insurance Group.“When business owners want to lower limits or eliminate coverage completely, we explain to them that it exposes their company to the risk of greater financial hardship when they can least afford it.…
A professional staffing company can find candidates who are a better fit for your company, and speed up your hiring process.“The key is to select a staffing company that is a specialist in the area you’re recruiting. They need to understand your company and its culture,” says Heidi Hoyt, managing director at Skoda Minotti Professional Staffing.Smart Business spoke with Hoyt about the benefits of using a professional staffing firm and how to find the right one.Why use a professional staffing company for hiring?A company’s HR person is likely to be a generalist. The greatest advantage in using professional staffing firms…
When most people start to exercise, they often begin with the notion that they can select parts of their body and spot reduce or target them for weight loss, which is a myth. Even so, it’s not uncommon to see a novice trainee wasting a great deal of time working their abdominals with the idea that the fat lying over them will somehow melt away. Abdominal exercise is not an efficient or effective place to begin to get the most from your workout.Another mistake of the novice trainee is to focus on steady state activity — jogging, swimming, bicycling and…
The Deductible Program was implemented in 2009 by the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) as another alternative for employers to control their costs while promoting workplace safety. Over the past few years, the program has been enhanced to include a small and large deductible program so that employers of different sizes, hazard groups and risk tolerance levels have options that best fit their organization.“The Deductible Program can be financially beneficial for those employers that have a focus on their safety efforts and are able to keep their claim costs low,” says Mark MaGinn, vice president at CompManagement, Inc. “An…
Back in 1988, actor Paul Newman wanted to find a way to give back to children, and not just any kids but kids who were in serious need of a chance to act like kids. So Newman started the Paul Newman Association of Hole in the Wall Gang camps dedicated to serving children with serious illnesses.Today, the association is called Serious Fun Children’s Network. It comprises 14 camps, one being Flying Horse Farms in Mt. Gilead, Ohio, that provide summer activities where kids can be kids and forget their illnesses for a week.“We serve children with heart disease of all…
Sunday, 31 March 2013 20:00

Northeast Ohio Movers and Shakers

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GrafTech International is pleased to announce that three of its scientists have been recognized for their achievements and contributions to graphite material science.Dr. Julian Norley, GrafTech’s vice president of corporate R&D, is one of five international experts and the only North American scientist selected to present a plenary lecture at the Annual World Conference on Carbon in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in July 2013.Dr. Tracy Albers, manager of advanced materials, was honored at the Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Production Awards in Washington, D.C., in February 2013. The award recognizes the achievements of women in science and manufacturing.Within the…
Sunday, 31 March 2013 20:00

Face-to-face: A lost art?

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We spend a lot of time these days networking through social media channels. It’s safe to say we live in a fully connected, digital age.If you dive deeper, year-over-year, the percentage of executives who “connect” in ways other than face-to-face continues to grow at an alarmingly quick rate. There are many who believe we are on the cusp of having an entire generation of businesspeople who will never gain — or practice — the art of in-person networking?That would be a shame. Social channel networking certainly expands one’s opportunities to build a wide network, but the limitations of virtual networking…
In the broader M&A market, news of mega deals hitting the headlines is signaling that companies are aggressively pursuing acquisitions with transaction activity reflecting a mix of corporate and private equity buyers and diverse industries. Deal value in February was up more than twofold from January levels with Heinz, Dell and Virgin Media among the billion-dollar-plus deals.Local corporate buyers are also flexing their muscle. If February transaction activity is any indicator, momentum is building for what is expected to be an active year for M&A in 2013.An M&A highlight in the health care arena, Cincinnati’s Catholic Health Partners Inc. announced…
Sunday, 31 March 2013 20:00

DeLores Pressley: Advocate tenacity

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I enjoy the value of a good word. “Tenacious” is a good word. It’s defined as: “persistent in maintaining, adhering to or seeking something valued or desired.”As we look at the subject of increasing effectiveness, I believe we must start with this characteristic as our jumping-off point.If increasing your effectiveness in the workplace is something that you desire and value, then you must tenaciously seek it on a daily basis. You must become a tenacious advocate for the measure of effectiveness that you desire.With this foundation in mind, let us look at five surefire ways to increase your effectiveness in…
No matter what your business is, you need a quality system in place that ensures consistent, always striving for perfect results. Rather than just trying to inspect each product when it is completed, the better solution is to build upfront quality controls and assurances into the system and products. The discipline will benefit your business and your customers. When quality is a guiding principle, everybody wins and nobody has to compromise.Clark-Reliance has adopted the ISO 9001 system from the International Organization for Standardization, the worldwide “gold” standard for quality. Other systems can also be used very effectively. In our product…
Thursday, 28 February 2013 19:00

Northeast Ohio Movers & Shakers: March 2013

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VeDISCOVERY, a tier-four provider of computer forensic services, data collection and processing, comprehensive document review and hosting of unstructured information recently appointed Wayne Pignolet to chief operating officer, Paul Cervelloni to vice president of sales and Martin Mangan to vice president, product development.Pignolet is an experienced business leader with small and midsized organizations and joins VeDISCOVERY to manage all aspects of business operations. He has successfully started and also helped turn companies around in China, Europe, Mexico and the U.S. He has worked with Moen Inc., Hanley Wood and has owned his own business.Cervelloni has held several positions within the…
Early signs, notably positive economic indicators and rising corporate earnings, point to an M&A market poised for strong deal flow in 2013. Sustained improvement in these trends will bolster confidence and bring more buyers and sellers to market. Buyer cash reserves and an accommodative credit market should lend further support.January deal volume was light, down nearly 20 percent from a year ago, but not atypical of a seasonally slow month for M&A. Behind the numbers are several billion-dollar-plus deals, including ConAgra’s $6.7 billion acquisition of RalCorp Holdings. Other mega deals announced in recent weeks were Liberty Global’s pending $24 billion…
Nearly four years ago, when Tom Salpietra joined EYE Lighting International of North America Inc. as its president and COO, a woman approached him interested in operational development at the company.Since Salpietra was a new leader, it was expected that he would make changes within the company to improve EYE Lighting International while keeping the best things about the company intact.“Everybody is going to have things wrong, but if you preserve what’s right, that’s where the secret is in organizational development and implementing change,” Salpietra says. “If you screw up the things that are right, that’s where you go wrong.”Salpietra…
During a difficult economic environment or in markets with significant price pressure, sales growth is often elusive and seldom a near-term solution for increasing the profitability of a business. Cost reduction, on the other hand, can have an immediate positive effect.When companies do a “deep dive” analysis of their cost structure, they can almost always find ways to cut costs without sacrificing quality or customer service, and that “win-win” drops right to the bottom line.In our experience, a 30-day review of costs will yield extensive insight that can translate directly into cost reduction. We recommend a “quick and dirty analysis”…
Over the past decade, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) has become increasingly popular. While the digital revolution has allowed businesses of all sizes to become more efficient, there can be unanticipated problems.For example, fax machines were originally designed for use over analog-based telephone lines. Attempting to use an older fax machine with an all-digital phone system can be problematic.The key, says Alex Desberg, sales and marketing director at Ohio.net, is to embrace change.“You have to evaluate how change affects your business,” he says. “Change comes with a little pain, and with pain comes new solutions.”Smart Business spoke with Desberg about…
Thursday, 28 February 2013 21:06

How to manage risk and control insurance costs

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Every business experiences risk, but determining the true cost of risk can be difficult.“It’s much harder to calculate the impact that negative publicity has on your revenue versus lost productivity due to equipment downtime,” says Derek M. Hoch, president of Leverity.“To develop the most appropriate risk management program for your organization, business owners should approach insurance through a variety of cost control strategies. These include identifying exposures, implementing control measures, transferring risk and managing your exposures,” Hoch says.Smart Business spoke with Hoch about developing a strategic action plan to effectively monitor and manage risk, ultimately resulting in reduced costs.How do…
Thursday, 28 February 2013 20:57

Understanding the American Taxpayer Relief Act

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When President Obama signed the American Taxpayer Relief Act (ATRA) into law in January, the much-feared “fiscal cliff” was avoided, for the most part.Smart Business spoke with Jim A. Forbes, CPA, a principal with Skoda Minotti’s Tax Planning & Preparation Group, about five key elements of the act affecting both individual taxpayers and businesses.What item most benefits individuals?Signage of the act provides permanent relief from the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT). If the AMT ‘patch’ had not been put in place, as many as 30 million taxpayers could have been affected. Fortunately, a permanent AMT patch has been put in place.Retroactively,…
Thursday, 28 February 2013 21:51

What to expect from the M&A market in 2013

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Considering the uncertainty in the stock market, 2012 turned out to be a good year for mergers and acquisitions (M&A), and the outlook is even better for 2013, says Albert D. Melchoirre, president of MelCap Partners, LLC.“Last year was pretty tumultuous, with the overwhelming European debt crisis, a slowdown in certain emerging markets, uncertainty about the presidential election and its potential impact from a capital gains tax perspective, and the fiscal cliff debate,” Melchoirre says. “But there were several factors that would indicate reason to be optimistic about the M&A market in 2013.”Smart Business spoke with Melchoirre about those factors…
Until the middle of 2011, northeast Ohio was a tenant’s market. However, with real estate growth, free rent incentives and large price drops going away, the market is starting to lean more toward landlords, says Eliot Kijewski, SIOR, senior vice president at CRESCO Real Estate.“I can’t tell you how many times we get a phone call saying, ‘I need to be in something in 30 to 60 days,’” Kijewski says. “That’s not enough time when you’ve still got to negotiate a lease and the landlord generally has work to do in the space.“You need to be in front of it.…
More content is being published exclusively through the Web, which means those seeking to either obtain a patent or attack the validity of a third-party patent need to exercise greater diligence when conducting a patentability or validity search.“It’s important that the scope of prior art searches, whether used for preparing patent applications or defending infringement accusations, consider Web-based information,” says Mandy B. Willis, an associate at Fay Sharpe LLP.“Companies need to be more aware of online postings by searching websites when conducting patentability and freedom-to-operate searches,” she says.Smart Business spoke with Willis about the Web’s impact on prior art and…
Monday, 04 February 2013 10:47

How trademarking color could help your brand

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Trademarking a color has become more common — UPS and brown, Target and red, John Deere and green and yellow.However, Sandra M. Koenig, a partner at Fay Sharpe LLP, says it’s important to remember that trademarking a color isn’t limited to big companies, especially if you have a specific audience and can show the color is distinctive in a smaller segment of the industry.Smart Business spoke with Koenig about trademarking colors and the law surrounding it.What can be a trademark other than a word or logo?Some nontraditional trademarks can be an overall appearance or trade dress, such as color, product…
The last month of the year has historically been a prolific month for mergers and acquisitions, and December 2012 did not disappoint.In the U.S. market, according to S&P CapitalIQ, the dollar value of closed transactions with disclosed values for December 2012, compared to December 2011, was up 4.4 percent, while the number of transactions was down 6.5 percent.Likewise, for all of 2012, the number of transactions decreased 4.4 percent compared to 2011. The transaction dollar values made up for the lack of volume with an increase of 7.8 percent across the same period.Regarding the M&A industry, the purchasing power of…
Thursday, 31 January 2013 19:00

Mike Berlin; Planning for the unexpected

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In 2000, I founded Briteskies LLC, a Northeast Ohio technology company. While we’ve had our share of challenges, we had experienced steady growth and success for more than a decade, and I felt significant pride in my leadership role in the organization.However, on Easter Sunday 2011, with little warning, I experienced a sudden, serious side effect of my Crohn’s disease. I woke up with a 106-degree fever that we ultimately found out was caused by e-coli in my bloodstream. Diagnosis and a subsequent nine-plus hour surgery to replumb my “insides” left me hospitalized for the next 30 days. All told,…
Thursday, 31 January 2013 20:03

How to defend against harmful spam email

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Spam emails are on the rise. In fact, according to a recent report by securelist.com, the percentage of spam in email traffic is now more than 77 percent. Not only are spam emails annoying, in some cases they can also be dangerous. In order to combat malicious cyber attacks, it’s important to keep your network protected.“Spam and antivirus filtering provides a defense against internal and external threats such as spam, viruses, spyware, phishing schemes, identity theft and other dangerous content before it gets to your computer or network,” says Alex Desberg, sales and marketing director at Ohio.net.Smart Business spoke with…
Thursday, 31 January 2013 20:20

How to solve the problem of lower back pain

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Lower back pain is the most common musculoskeletal ailment. Nearly everyone at some point has back pain that interferes with their daily routine, such as work, recreation or activities. Much of this is a result of our behaviors in modern-day society. The majority of us spend too much time sitting with poor posture at inadequately ergonomic workstations.Americans spend at least $50 billion each year to relieve lower back pain, which is the most common cause of job-related disability and a leading contributor to missed work. Back pain is the second most common neurological ailment in the U.S. — only headaches…
Traditional desktop phones are on the way out, as companies discover that unified communications software now provides additional and more convenient ways to communicate and share messages with employees and clients.“When Voice over Internal Protocol (VoIP) was introduced, many capabilities were promised. With the recent uptick in real-time communication services — instant messaging (IM), presence information, video conferencing, speech recognition, etc. — being used in conjunction with non-real-time communication — voicemail, email and fax, we’re finally seeing some of those capabilities being implemented and the promises of VoIP finally being delivered,” says Jeff Beller, IT and telecom consultant with Skoda…