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Monday, 22 July 2002 10:05

Shiftwork blues

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Shiftwork has become a common practice in today's business world. Whether it's a 24-hour operation at a factory or a two-shift rotation at a retail outlet, more employees are expected to work nontraditional hours. But is the schedule costing you more in absenteeism, accidents and lower productivity than it should be? "Shiftwork can really have detrimental effects if it is done poorly," warns Ed Coburn, publisher of the Working Nights newsletter. "In the last 15 years or so, scientists have really developed an understanding of the physiological effects and what can be done about it. If it is done well,…
Monday, 22 July 2002 10:05

Myth information

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Best-selling author Michael E. Gerber confesses: He almost fell victim to the very myth he discovered. "In 1985, I was told by my then-partner-who is no longer with us-that we were broke," explains Gerber. Over the past 20 years, his E-Myth Academy in Santa Rosa, Calif., has trained more than 15,000 companies to avoid some of the mistakes he's made. "I immediately became aware of the major omission I was guilty of, that I was ignoring the financial reality of the company because I was so consumed with the work I knew how to do. It almost put us out…
Monday, 22 July 2002 10:05

Learning the basics

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Want to improve your manufacturing processes without bringing in high-priced consultants to tell you how to change everything? WINOC-the Work in Northeast Ohio Council-offers four hands-on programs designed to help manufacturers modify their processes. All it takes is three daylong sessions. The programs include direct participation in the manufacturing process-in the areas of quick setup, error-proofing techniques, total productive equipment and visual factory methods. Sessions are divided into three parts: The first explains the tools and techniques needed for each process; the second involves visiting a host site for hands-on learning; the third is a forum for discussion and review…
Monday, 22 July 2002 10:05

In brief

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The Cleveland Foundation will administer a sustaining fund that will be used to allocate proceeds from the new Pillar Award for Community Service. The Pillar Award program, created in partnership between Medical Mutual of Ohio and Small Business News, identifies and honors companies of all sizes for outstanding contributions to their community. The program is accepting nominations through Sept. 30 (see page 53), which will be judged by an independent panel of community leaders. Honorees will be featured in the December issue of SBN and at a special banquet on Dec. 3, 1998. Proceeds from the event will be donated…
Monday, 22 July 2002 10:05

From the editor

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Over the years, we've developed our own style for understanding the kind of business lessons that can really change a company and its culture. We tell stories. When you look at them carefully, many of those stories are simply case studies about how a business identified a serious problem and addressed it. It's an effective method because everybody likes a good story. And as Aesop taught us 25 centuries ago, the morals are easier to understand and remember. But there is a danger in that technique, too - a risk of universal oversimplification that can do more harm than good.…
Monday, 22 July 2002 10:05

Critical mass

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Being overweight is one of the most common health problems in America. With its associated costs in health care, productivity loss and absences, creating a voluntary employee weight-loss program might seem logical. But sometimes there are limits to how much help an employer can lend. "When I initially started my position, I had all the zest and enthusiasm to make these type of programs successful, and they all failed," says Frayne Rosenfield, administrator of corporate health promotions for Kaiser-Permanente California, and a 15-year veteran of the industry. "The environment of the worksite is not conducive to behavior modification on an…
Monday, 22 July 2002 10:05

Business Notes

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Sedlak Management Consultants was named as one of the 1998 Family Firms of Distinction at the annual Weatherhead School of Management Family Business Hall of Fame. American Fastsigns Inc. has opened its 400th store nationally and 18th in Ohio at 1701 E. 12th St., Cleveland. Four organizations: the Cleveland Metroparks, Bill Doll & Co., H2N Design and Sherwin-Williams earned Awards of Excellence from the Cleveland chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators Vision Awards competition. Cefaratti Rennillo has discontinued operations, and its principals have formed two new agencies: Rennillo Reporting Services and The Cefaratti Group. Mega Solutions has formed…
Monday, 22 July 2002 10:05

A wise decision

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Why pay severance? After all, the departing employee or executive is no longer your company's responsibility. For whatever reason-market shifts, business reversals, poor performance-what does the business owner have to lose by returning a worker to the tender mercies of the market? According to the experts: plenty. "Most companies want people leaving happy," says Barry K. Lawrence, manager of media relations for the Society for Human Resource Management in Alexandria, Va. "That certainly helps avoid lawsuits. But it also does another key thing: It gives you some good public relations, so when things are going good again, people will want…
Monday, 22 July 2002 10:04

The indispensable person

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Ask David Gewirtz what he expects from his sales reps and he'll tell you: "Sales." He's kidding, sort of. An enlightened business owner sends his sales force out to find people who will get value from his product, says Gewirtz, CEO of Component Enterprises, a developer of specialty Internet journals says. "A less enlightened one will ask you to sell ice to Eskimos, as long as you make your numbers," he adds. "A truly enlightened company will have all the departments working together with the sales force under his direction to provide as much of what the customer asks for…
If your office is on a network, there's nothing worse than a crash. Employees end up sitting around the office unable to access their work. Productivity shutters to a halt and valuable information is lost-sometimes forever. Think you're safe? Think again. According to Mo Osman, executive vice president of Cleveland-based Mega Solutions Inc., most businesses don't even know they might be facilitating their own disaster. Here are a few things you can do to help prevent a crisis. Hardware incompatibility As your network grows, there's a tendency to give it continuous face lifts. That means new parts-often from different manufacturers-and…
Monday, 22 July 2002 10:04

Other people's money

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Lower interest rates have led to a flurry of loan refinancing in both the personal and business markets. Banks are offering highly competitive deals, and now might be the time to re-examine loan terms. "It's not just the level interest rates, it's the aggressiveness of the banks that makes now a good time to do any sort of financing," says W. David Tull, chair man of Troy, Mich.-based Crestmark Bank. "Banks are very competitive not just in rates, but in terms. You can get a longer amortization schedule and you can borrow more against the same amount of assets than…
Monday, 22 July 2002 10:04

Look no further for a speaker

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Are you tired of hearing the same old canned buzzwords on the rubber-chicken circuit? Had enough of your company grabbing the sales director's brother-in-law at the last minute to paste together inspirational speeches for the sales force? If so, you'd do well to check out the Web site of the Ohio Speakers Association. It lists more than 100 professional speakers, and includes personal information, specialized topics and brief descriptions of their background. Speakers range from the intriguing - "the funny English prof" - to the goofy: a woman who bills herself as a "nationally recognized image and etiquette expert" and…
Monday, 22 July 2002 10:04

Is Microsoft a true monopoly?

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The Justice Department desperately wants to prove that Microsoft is a monopoly. I'm not sure it can make the case. The story starts more than a year ago, with a fairly well-equipped home office and a small, for-profit venture I run in addition to my work at SBN. Making money, I've learned, requires aggressive, nonstop selling. And that means being able to perform some specific tasks, such as maintaining a database and producing mass mailings to communicate consistently with a targeted group of people. Which is why, after struggling on my own for months, I put down good money -…
Software is the lifeblood of your computers. Without it, computers are just boxes of electronic parts. But what do you really know about those 1's and 0's powering your business? Did you know your company doesn't own the software you purchase, but just licenses it for use? Do you know the difference between single-user and multiuser licenses? Improper use of software by a company's employees can lead to hefty fines-even if no harm was intended. With software, it's what you don't know that can hurt your business. Here are some of the most common software-related mistakes companies make: Ignorance of…
Monday, 22 July 2002 10:04

Checking it twice

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The Chardon Rubber Company developed a checklist aimed at reducing downtime on its machines. One list is external-tasks to be completed and materials to be brought to the machine before it can be shut down. The other list is internal-procedures that must be done to restart the machine. While the machine operator executes the tasks on the internal list, a helper completes a second list of internal jobs. When both finish, the machine is turned on and the next production batch begins. External checklist Process sheet envelope Material Die and screen Labels and staple gun Skids and packaging 10-to-1 drawing…
Monday, 22 July 2002 10:04

Are you flirting with disaster?

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So you sleep well at night knowing the computer files are backed up several times a day? If there's a crash, you simply reload the most current versions back onto the network, and it's business as usual. But what if there's a major disaster-a flood or tornado-that wipes out not just your power, but the office itself, including the backup tapes and Zip disks? What then? Insurance may replace the computers, desks and filing cabinets, but it can't re-create your client lists and business files. That information would be gone forever. There is, however, another way to back up information-off-site.…
Monday, 22 July 2002 10:03

Y2K Internet Resources

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The Year 2000 Information Center, www.year2000.com, a privately sponsored site listing a variety of support information, news articles and resources offers the following resources on Y2K. The National Bulletin Board for Year 2000: www.it2000.com. Claims to be the "single most comprehensive information site" on Year 2000 issues. The Automotive Industry Action Group: www.aiag.org. Sponsored by the automotive industry with support from the manufacturers. Datamation: www.datamation.com. National publication's Web site; deals with multiple issues. IBM Corp.: www.ibm.com/year2000. Smart page with direct information about IBM products, services. Free COBOL training. Microsoft Corp.: www.microsoft.com. The Microsoft Year 2000 Resource Center Product Guide-details specific…
Monday, 22 July 2002 10:03

The price is wrong

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Pricing, for consultant Dave Bauders, is really pretty simple. Properly construed, it's a question of divining the relative value of products for various types of customers. And setting one's prices is among the most important variables a company must manage, he adds, "because every dollar of revenue and every dollar of profit has resulted from a pricing decision." He tells prospective clients, many of whom decline to engage his services because of his own lofty prices, that fixing their company's pricing structure can be worth anywhere from 3 to 7 percent of sales. We asked Bauders-who is president of Strategic…
Monday, 22 July 2002 10:03

Specialized expertise

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Do you remember the software revolution that began to take hold in the 1980s? Until that time, computers were big, powerful tools that the majority of businesses and industries found difficult to use effectively. Manufacturers, focused on production, didn't design with the needs of end users in mind-to a large extent because those needs weren't defined. And customers, or potential end users, didn't know enough about the hardware to know what was possible. Into this budding impasse came software designers, who set about to rectify the situation. With a basic understanding of hardware and its capabilities, they delved into business…
Monday, 22 July 2002 10:03

Recipe for growth

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When a local dairy distributor started imposing service charges on customers placing small orders in early 1997, the phones at Mitch Kroll's Weisberg Meats began ringing. They wanted to know if the Solon meat distributor could provide the dairy products they needed. Kroll, who bought Weisberg in 1996, turned those queries into an opportunity. He shed the company's 40-year-old image as solely a meat distributor, without losing his focus on serving his base clientele or having to inject large sums of money into the business. With a few quick phone calls, Kroll lined up a supplier. Within a week, Weisberg…
Monday, 22 July 2002 10:03

Nice guys, finished

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"Winning isn't everything," legendary Green Bay Packer's coach Vince Lombardi preached: "It's the only thing." Growing up in my house in the 1960s and 1970s, where Lombardi was a god and the Packers were gridiron angels, that competitive spirit animated my father, and me and my siblings through adolescence, until we realized that The Coach's mantra was becoming as much prophecy as predicate. Winning certainly beats the alternative-just ask any loser. And there are still relatively few competitions today where one side goes home a champion and the other side just goes home. Even Super Bowl also-rans get a ring.…
Monday, 22 July 2002 10:03

In the eye of the storm

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If the flamboyant Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum is Manhattan, photographer Chuck Gentile is Brooklyn. Even as he approaches middle age, one can detect in him the fast-talking kid who might once have convinced half his neighbors to buy his special blend of lemonade for two bucks a glass, simply by wearing them down with his staccato chatter. His photo studio, which he shares with another photographer in a low-rise, mostly residential neighborhood straddling Cleveland and Lakewood, is a study in contrasts. Plain as can be on the outside, inside it's outfitted to the teeth with the…
Monday, 22 July 2002 10:03

Free calling

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When Bill Bradford and his partners at RBJ Manufacturing Co. Inc. started out in late 1996, they were like a lot of small start-ups: They didn't have a lot of money for marketing or advertising, but had a product that they thought would be a big seller. "Not having the big dollar signs behind us, we really had to step out and try to get the product out there," says Bradford, who serves as vice president of operations. "We went to a lot of trade shows and depended on a lot of free publicity." Because of the unique nature of…
Monday, 22 July 2002 10:03

Carrot or a stick?

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Even in this slowed-down economy, it's no secret that people are working longer hours than ever before. Overtime, especially in manufacturing facilities, is the norm, not the exception. Solon-based Kennametal Inc. is no different. But what distinguishes Kennametal from other companies, says human resources manager Ed Boeing, is that Kennametal doesn't make overtime mandatory for its workers, and there is no pressure to work more than 40 hours a week and no penalties for those who don't. Instead, the company holds meetings year-round to keep everyone informed about the business and its needs. "We've had a nice increase in business,…
Monday, 22 July 2002 10:02

At his best with his back to the mat

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At 36 years old, Clevelander Matt Ghaffari, the reigning Olympic silver medalist in Greco-Roman wrestling, can look back on a spectacular wrestling career. There's been just one insurmountable snag: reigning gold medalist Alexander Karelin. Their matches tend to be the close and hard-fought battles of titans. But like Sisyphus of Greek mythology-condemned to roll a boulder up a mountain only to watch it roll back down as he neared the summit-Ghaffari has never defeated his rival. The Russian has held off Ghaffari 20 times, most recently pinning him at the World Championships in late August. Ghaffari is already talking about…
Monday, 22 July 2002 10:02

The state of giving

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If a region is measured by the way it cares for the weak and promotes the arts, Greater Cleveland stands tall. Since the turn of the century, industrial tycoons have used their wealth to make this a better place to live, creating world-class legacies that included museums, public gardens and settlement houses for the thousands of new immigrants employed by their companies. The achievements of the Hannas, Mathers and Rockefellers are now black-and-white photographs in history books. And the standards they set for business have continued. In today's climate, it's easy to imagine the self interest that must have led…
Monday, 22 July 2002 10:02

Steel alignment

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In mid-1997, Atlas Steel Products Co. president and CEO Lawrence Burr had a problem. His Chicago processing and warehousing facility's second five-year lease would soon expire, and because the plant was underutilized, it didn't pay to renew the lease. But the decision was about more than simply trimming costs. The company-which processes aluminized steel-had spent 12 years establishing its Chicago market and wanted to keep a presence there. "It was part of that year's strategic agenda to resolve the issue," recalls Burr. "But we didn't want to abandon Chicago, because it's an important region for the steel industry." So Burr…