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Monday, 22 July 2002 09:50

Innovative answers

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What are the most import innovations in your industry and how have they impacted operations? “I believe current innovations in information technology have promoted horizontal technology reuse, are energizing the flow of investment capital for entrepreneurs and are significantly broadening opportunities in private equity funding.” — Gerry Cowden, Cowden, Humphrey & Sarlson “‘Disease state management’ programs to improve treatment of chronic illness is the one innovation that is transforming the health insurance industry. Today, at Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, chronic conditions like asthma, diabetes, and congestive heart failure are proactively managed through education and preventive programs. The result…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:50

Dual purpose

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If your business retains stable, profitable customers, consider turning them into advocates and champions of your products and services. It’s easier than you may realize to get your best customers to help you promote your business to prospects, but it requires a careful blend of technical, financial and relationship skills. Define the bonding process for turning your best customers into advocates and champions. How do your better customers adapt your products and services to best suit their individual needs? Do those customer relationships resemble partnerships or strategic alliances? If so, these are your potential champions. They can help by introducing…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:50

Business Notes

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Smythe Cramer Co. has been selected as the exclusive Cleveland affiliate for Christie’s Great Estates Inc., a subsidiary of auction company Christie’s International. Beth Wain Brandon, chairperson for the board of Recovery Resources, and David Sommer, chairman of the board of Neighborhood Counseling Service, announced the organizations have entered into merger discussions subject to final approval by their respective boards of trustees later this year. The not-for-profit social service agencies plan to operate jointly as Recovery Resources. The following companies have joined Gregory Marketing Communications’ list of accounts: Oberalpen and Cast Nylons. Hi TecMetal Group has maintained six accreditations monitored…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:50

Banking on innovation

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David Daberko is one of only a handful of people in the business world who truly make billion-dollar decisions. From his 35th floor office overlooking Lake Erie, he has steered National City Corp. to the top of the banking industry, all the while leading the company with a steady hand and cautious eye. It was Daberko who 14 years ago oversaw the integration of the former Banc Ohio chain into National City, doubling the size of the company and setting it on track to become the $85 billion banking empire it is today. Four years ago, he stepped into the…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:50

A retention key

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Employers seeking ways besides financial compensation to reward their employees find that work/life programs enhance efforts to attract and retain top talent. While many business owners have believed this for years, it was mainly based on anecdotal evidence. But a survey of performance-based work/life programs earlier this year by the American Compensation Association confirmed those beliefs, indicating that programs such as family care, flex time, financial, wellness and career counseling are highly valued by employees. More importantly for employers, they are low cost, valued-added alternatives to expensive financial-based rewards. The survey, which elicited responses from 1,256 employers nationwide, revealed the…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:49

A deeper shade of brown

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For three long years, Cleveland’s football fans waited anxiously, scorned lovers brooding while our only true love frolicked in Baltimore. Then something amazing happened. A new lover appeared, one with a fresh spirit. Sure, she looked the same, but she carried herself with a new energy, a new vitality. And while she has a lot to learn about us, we’re patient. We’re loyal. And it is that deep, undying love that has astounded the players who wear the brown and orange. Growing up in Cleveland, writer Scott Huler developed the passion that engulfed his father, uncle and brother. It is…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:49

What drives new products to market?

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Technology isn’t the driving force we thought it to be when it comes to bringing new products to market. In the 9th annual Grant Thornton Survey of American Manufacturers, 67 percent of mid-sized manufacturers (74 percent of larger companies) were prompted by their customers’ needs or demands. Other product drivers include competitive pressures, 16 percent; internal innovation, 9 percent; new technology, 6 percent; and not sure, 2 percent. “As competitive pressures intensify, suppliers will have to find new ways to conceive and deliver innovative products faster, while maintaining quality and lowering product costs,” the study concluded. And how long does…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:49

Trust me, I’m with the Feds

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The name Clarence Thomas will go down in the history books for a number of reasons: as the second black Supreme Court justice and first person to widely introduce the infamous Long Dong Silver to the nation’s cocktail party conversation. But among his lesser-noted legacies, the Georgia native also presided over a huge backlog of cases while he served as chairman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission during the Bush Administration. And now the EEOC, for years resource starved but more recently given a $37 million budget increase by Congress, is trying to whittle that pile of old cases down…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:49

The corned beef connection

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Our story begins simply: It’s 1956 and Ralph Abdallah is the eldest child of a poor Lebanese family. With limited food — the last one to the table often left hungry — and with little money, the young man is forced to make a difficult decision. Though he speaks little English, he leaves his parents and eight brothers and sisters to seek his fortune in America. He makes his way to the New World, and after a series of struggles, births a series of successful delis and restaurants. In retrospect, you can almost see Horatio Alger smiling. “I was 21…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:49

Stamp of approval

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A sure sign that the Internet has officially changed every aspect of the economy is the U.S. Postal Service, that great bastion of regulations and conservatism, has agreed to sell postage online and allow you to print it out. OK, it’s actually selling it to contractors, who then resell it to you, but it’s still letting you print it on your computer. This is the first new form of postage since the advent of the postage meter 80 years ago. Two providers were approved, Stamps.com and E-Stamp.com. Here’s how it works for Stamps.com: Download the software from the site. Register.…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:49

Newsclips

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Virtual lobbies Time was that smart sales people and journalists didn’t mind cooling their heels in a company’s lobby while waiting for appointments. In just a few minutes, a sharp pair of eyes could pick up any number of clues about the organization. But Joel Rube, formerly a “Web evangelist” for Keane & Co.’s Cleveland office, and now in a similar role for Chicago-based Navigent, says the new window into a company’s soul is its home page. These days, when people want to make quick judgments about your company, they visit your Web site, he said at a recent public…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:49

Manufacturing on the Web

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RegionalHUBsites.com, a developer of specialized Web-based search directories for niche industries, has launched a Web site for Ohio companies in the manufacturing industries. RegionalHUBsites.com is the first new-media company to focus on regional industrial. The site, www.manufacturingOH.com, creates an online buyers’ community of more than 20,000 manufacturing firms and includes a free manufacturing classified ad section where manufacturers and purchasing agents may post manufacturing-related requests for proposals, job opportunities and equipment sales. “We believe that the two primary ways that potential clients can find manufacturers on the Web are through search engines and links.” says Donald Ferris, founder of the…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:49

Killing the status quo

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Susan Pyle spent many years trying to convince her two business partners that Packings & Gaskets was falling far short of its full potential for growth. But the Chagrin Falls sealing manufacturer’s steady annual sales of $2.5 million made her fellow co-owners reluctant to tinker with their time-proven formula for success. Despite the company’s prosperity, Pyle believed there was an inherent danger in standing still. “You reach a level where you feel comfortable, especially when everybody is making money. You don’t have to press and you have a good market share,” she says. “But the longer you sit at that…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:48

Information innovation

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David Lundeen needed to link 140 employees at five locations with a new computer network, all the while knowing his organization would not be able to afford the high salary an IT manager would demand to maintain it. The CFO of the Cleveland Christian Home for Children also recognized that hiring a less experienced IT manager would ultimately be nothing more than a short-term solution. “We began to realize, because we were a child welfare agency, that we couldn’t pay competitive salaries,” says Lundeen. “And, if we did get someone, we knew they would learn on us and move on…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:48

Goin’ public

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The following is a list of the 32 stand-alone companies headquartered in Northeast Ohio which went public between the 1988 and 1996, with the year of their IPO and their stock ticker symbol. It does not include real estate investment trusts, or REITs, of which there were 11 in this area during the same period. Year Company Stock Symbol Description 1988 American Steel & Wire Corp. (RODS) Steel works and blast furnaces 1988 Novaferon Labs Inc. (—) Biological products 1988 Phonetel Technologies Inc. (PHN) Communication services 1988 Riser Foods Inc. (RSR) Grocery stores 1989 Chempower Inc. (CHEM) Hazardous waste management…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:48

Curing those HR Blues

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Allan Halcrow knows what does and does not work for companies that struggle with today’s ever-thinning labor pool. If you’re taking a wait-and-see attitude, Halcrow offers mixed news. The problem isn’t going to get any better, he says. But employers don’t have to sit back defenseless. Dealing with the changing face of America’s workers, Halcrow says, begins with transforming the way you look at the hiring process — and how you view your company. What do you see as the number one issue affecting business owners? The labor shortage. (It) is driving everything right now. Forget about finding top quality…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:48

Are you experienced?

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Limousines pull up to the gated entrance, flash bulbs pop and visitors are hounded by television reporters armed with cameras and microphones as they make the long stroll down the red carpet. It’s not Oscar night. It’s a $54 a plate restaurant in Anaheim, Calif., that is the rage among teens and baby boomers. Modeled after an evening at a Hollywood awards ceremony, restaurant visitors are given the star treatment, immersed in this alternate reality from the moment they enter the gates of Tinseltown Studios. There are even best actor and actress awards presented at the end of the night…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:48

Visual basics

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With the Internet, the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), the fax machine, our in-box and electronic documents, even the most conscientious or inquisitive among us can be overwhelmed. Many of us are secretly (or not so secretly) giving up and just not reading all we should. Certainly, unsolicited direct mail is the first to be tossed into the wastebasket. So why then is there more direct mail than ever? Nobody ever mails anything twice that didn’t pay for itself once. Direct marketers are trained to mail up to the point of financial break even that occurs when the value from responses…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:48

The science of sitting

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Where do executives stand on the issue of desk chairs? They don’t stand; they sit. In fact, a new poll shows that execs spend most of their time in their chairs — a full seven-and-a-half hours a day. That’s an increase of more than an hour-and-a-half a day from a similar survey in 1990. The poll, conducted by American Furniture Rentals, headquartered in Bensalem, Pa., shows a 67 percent increase in rentals or sales of ergonomic desk chairs with lumbar support systems. Why? Write it off to a combination of longer hours and more computer time, says AFR CEO Neil…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:48

The king of spin

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If you thought President Bill Clinton cornered the market on top notch spin doctors, meet Stephen W. FitzGerald, president of Cleveland-based The FitzGerald Group Inc. FitzGerald was invited by PRWeek to provide a PR-based solution to the following: Changing the image of Nevada’s famous brothel, the Mustang Ranch, which was forfeited to the federal government after the ranch’s corporate owner was convicted of fraud and racketeering. The Bureau of Land Management wants control of the ranch and its surrounding land to turn it into the National Horse & Burro Center, using its many rooms as a visitors’ center. The question:…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:47

Planning for success

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Last month, we tackled the first three of my 10 rules for successful strategic planning — plan for the plan, understand the CEO’s role, and maximize involvement and communication. These rules focus on getting the planning process off to a good start. For most business owners, successful growth is no accident. It’s the product of hard work, but more important, strategic planning. This month, we look at the next four rules, which address plan development. 4. Never let them laugh at your mission statement Many companies take their mission statement and proudly display it on plaques hanging in their offices…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:47

On the block

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Where have been lots of other golden periods in this century to sell a company, but perhaps there’s never been a better time to do it than the last few years. No less an authority than Mark Fillippel, head of mergers & acquisitions for McDonald & Co., recently called the current period “the best M&A market of the century,” and a “great sellers’ market.” With so much capital chasing after so few remaining prime properties, a lot of business owners who once might never have considered selling at lower earnings multiples are now at least keeping an open mind about…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:47

Making the jump

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Twinsburg-based Forest Corp. snared $20 million in revenue in 1998 from the likes of Budweiser, General Motors and Coca-Cola. It was that high-profile client list that led the company’s executives to the realization that they would have to update their computer network. Some of the heavy-hitting firms the point-of-purchase communications supplier did business with were rapidly merging new technology into their everyday business. Many of its customers were building extranets and wanted Forest to do the same. They also wanted it to develop e-commerce and order tracking applications. The company tabbed the Anderson Group of Akron to build a new…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:47

Keeping it safe

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The front page banner headline shouts the story: A deranged, enraged employee recently fired or passed over for a promotion returns to the workplace to exact his revenge. He may head directly for his boss’s office with a revolver and a single bullet ... or unload a deadly spray of gunfire at the people who he perceives have slighted him or otherwise participated in his humiliation. He saves the final bullet for himself, leaving behind a grieving family and a workplace forever traumatized. Incidents of workplace violence were virtually unheard of until the 1970s. Since then, however, cases have more…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:47

Healthclips

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Small companies and health care Maybe it’s because small business owners have to look at their employees every day. No one can be really sure, but recent numbers about employee health care costs are a bit startling. Only 75 percent of employers with fewer than 250 employees require their workers to pay part of their health care coverage. Meanwhile, 94 percent of large companies with 2,500 or more employees require employees to pay part of their health care coverage. These figures were uncovered by Watson Wyatt’s 1998/99 ECS Survey Report on Employee Benefits. Health care compensation blues CEO pay packages…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:47

Family-owned headaches

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Dear H. R. Manager: I am a manager in a large family-owned business. There are relatives who work in nonmanagerial jobs who come and go as they please and do not comply with attendance policies. This has created a major headache, because I have employees complaining, and I feel that my hands are tied. What should I do? Caught Between a Rock and a Hard Place Dear Caught Between: It’s important that family members employed in family-owned businesses be good role models for employees. Otherwise, the message they send to employees is, “Do as I say, not as I do.”…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:47

Developing a philanthropic culture

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Community service isn’t simply philanthropic lip service, it’s a way of life. So much so, that when prospective employees are interviewed for jobs at Sentinel Consumer Products Inc., they are given a packet of materials that illustrates the company’s commitment to giving back. “They know how important it is to us and how much a part it is of our culture,” says Michael Klein, president of the 95-year-old Mentor-based manufacturer of health and beauty care products. “There are a lot of companies that give money. That is a lot easier to do than to give the energy and the time…