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Monday, 22 July 2002 09:57

Get ’em in the door

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The door to Lane Bryant stores often opens through cyberspace. While the plus-size women’s fashion retailer doesn’t sell any merchandise on its Web site, www.lanebryant.com, the site still generates sales. “Through the initiatives of getting customers in with sale announcements and coupons, we’ve been able to, through those net sales, pay for the Web,” says Jennifer Campbell, Lane Bryant’s marketing director. “The creative development, updating and overhauls have basically paid for themselves, which is terrific.” In December alone, the site generated $40,000 in net sales, she says. Since the site started in March 1997, Lane Bryant has netted more than…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:56

Young Entrepreneur of the Year

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Building a multimillion dollar computer interactive and Web design company may sound like a complex task. However, the story seems quite simple when you hear it from Wil Schroter, who founded NGDA Interactive Communications at age 19. “One thing that’s always stayed with us is we can really do whatever we want to do,” Schroter, now 24, says, relaying advice he recently gave to a college student inquiring about his success. “We can say we might have failed at one or two things, but it wasn’t because we didn’t try.” When he was 18, for example, he spent his spring…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:56

Who do you trust?

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Did your star sales representative really attend a training seminar while traveling in San Diego last month? Ohio voters think you might be wise to question that expense report. Nearly three-quarters of 500 registered voters polled in a survey earlier this year agreed with the statement, “Most employees at one point or another cheat on their expense accounts.” When Opinion Strategies Inc., a downtown Columbus market research and communications consulting firm, conducted the poll, only 12 percent disagreed with that statement. Perhaps not wanting to self-implicate, 14 percent offered no opinion on the matter. Survey respondents also indicated reserved assessments…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:56

Small Business Person of the Year

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Gail Baker, executive director of the Central Ohio Restaurant Association, where Mitchell serves as chairman of the board “He has brought the most amazing energy to the association. ... He has personally made a huge difference in the way that other restaurant industry people support our political action committee. ... “He’s recognized as a leader within the industry, and I think a lot of people became more interested in actively participating in the association through his leadership. ... During his presidency we experienced a 25 percent increase in membership. “It takes a lot of time to be the president of…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:56

Minority Advocate of the Year

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When Kamlesh B. Trivedi immigrated to the United States in 1975 from his homeland of India, he’d probably never heard of Miami Valley Punch Inc., a small, Dayton-area maker of precision punch products. Eighteen years later, he became its owner. Although Trivedi traveled a long and winding path to business ownership, he didn’t go into it blindly. Trivedi, who holds a master’s degree in engineering, sought advice from the Service Corps of Retired Executives, attended dozens of business seminars and spoke extensively with other business owners before taking the plunge. Apparently, all that research did the trick. Within a year…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:56

How to clone your best workers

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Three years ago, John Moser, who handles human resources for Hilliard-based Micro Electronics Inc. and its Micro Center stores, didn’t have much in the way of job descriptions to give employees, who number 2,200 among 15 stores from coast to coast. “We had what I would call the vanilla variety or generic variety like many organizations do. They met the requirements of a job description in terms of duties and responsibilities, but they weren’t in-depth as far as specific tasks the person would perform in that job,” he says. Moser injected more life into those descriptions, as well as employee…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:56

Down, but not out

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Shadowbox Cabaret owners had their hands full planning to open a second venue at Easton next month. Now they’re also faced with starting their original business anew – without delaying the expansion plans. The theater group lost $24,000 in property and its only revenue source March 1 when fire struck the Spring Street building that’s been its home for more than four of the organization’s five years in business. But rather than simply wait to collect the insurance money and rebuild, the nonprofit group has decided to follow the classic Broadway adage: The show must go on. And so it…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:55

Todd Appelbaum

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Todd Appelbaum’s “big picture” is summed up with one very small one. It makes up the face of his wristwatch. There you’ll see his twin sons, Noah and Jacob, who turn 3 in August. The prospect of raising twins and growing a business could be overwhelming to any entrepreneur, but Appelbaum and his wife, Michelle, who co-founded Cup o’ Joe coffee and dessert houses six years ago, don’t see it that way. “They relieve all the stress,” Appelbaum says of his sons. “Kids are just pure innocence. They give you unconditional love. When I come home, they run to the…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:55

Newsclips

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A year ago this month, C.J. Petitti told SBN his not-yet-2-year-old call center in Hilliard would reach $12 million in revenues by year’s end. [“They’ve found a calling,” June 1998]. Turns out, he underestimated himself. Petitti’s Hilliard-based CallTech Communications Inc. not only grossed $13.5 million in revenues for 1998, he’s now projecting that figure to hit $22 million in 1999. In addition, CallTech’s staff grew from 500 in June 1998 to 965 as of this April, and the company’s call volume jumped from 425,000 per month to more than 700,000 in that same time period. This fast-track growth resulted from…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:55

Hard choices

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Valerie Coolidge realizes some people don’t understand the life-changing choice she’s made. But that doesn’t bother this entrepreneur-turned-full-time-mom. “This is a very unpopular position — being at home with the kids — but it’s probably the most important job I can do,” says Coolidge, who just last year seemed to be on the fast track to corporate success with her Westerville-based Gourmet Gifts business. The company, which Coolidge operated from her home, had grown rapidly since its 1993 founding, recording double- and even triple-digit revenue increases at times. Keeping up with the rising demand for her flavored cakes and chocolate-dipped…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:55

A ship without a rudder

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Lexon Corp. was in its fifth year before its owners realized the Polaris-based software design and consulting company might be headed for trouble. Each of the four owners knew his own division of Lexon well enough and had grown it accordingly. The problem was, nobody was keeping watch over the company as a whole. Lexon was losing its unifying focus. “We could be four companies right now,” says Kirti Jackson, who runs the manufacturing consulting division for Lexon, while co-owners John Gregor, Sal Aziz and John Dunning run the technology, health care and software development divisions, respectively. “That’s the worst…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:53

Movers & Shakers

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NGDA Interactive Communications has named John Talanca Jr. as president. Talanca, who previously served as a vice president with Gerbig, Snell/Weisheimer & Associates, will oversee and lead all day-to-day business and financial operations of NGDA. He will also be responsible for assessing future business opportunities and aligning NGDA’s services to better support the needs of Gerbig, Snell/Weisheimer & Associates, the parent company of NGDA. Wil Schroter, founder of NGDA, remains the company’s CEO. Jeffrey L. Copeland, president and COO of Elford Inc., has received the 1998 Cornerstone Award by the Builders Exchange of Central Ohio. This award, given annually since…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:53

That’s news to me

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Columbus-based Audio Visual Technologies has received national recognition for its work on the Columbus Blue Jackets Fan Preview Center. The company won a Merit Award at the annual Trade Show Exhibitor Association’s national Exhibit Focus Awards Program. Audio Visual Technologies’ work on the center also has earned the company the Society for Marketing Professionals 1999 Marketing Excellence Award for Best Multi-Media Piece. Gerbig, Snell/Weisheimer & Associates Inc. has received eight IN-AWE awards from the San Francisco-based Medical Marketing Association. The agency won awards for work created on behalf of Astra Pharmaceuticals, Abbott Laboratories, Pharmacia & Upjohn, Eli Lilly and Co.…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:53

NAWBO honors ...

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Each fall, the Columbus chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners honors a select group of inspiring female entrepreneurs at a special awards reception. SBN Columbus is proud to feature on its pages the profiles of this year’s honorees, who will be formally recognized by NAWBO Aug. 11.
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:53

J. Renee Claxton

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After many years working in overseas production with companies such as The Limited and Liz Claiborne, Renee Claxton knew there was a need for a company that could provide both inspection and quality control of garments. Convincing local banks of that need was another story. “Banks were unfamiliar with the business,” Claxton says. “They could not understand how I was going to make a profit at it.” A $10,000 home equity loan got her business started in January 1996, working with clothing company distributors to check quality before the items are sent on to stores. But that loan wasn’t enough…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:53

Getting a buy-in, part II

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Earlier this year, SBN brought you the story about the Consumers’ Choice Awards’ 1998 debut in Columbus — and its nontraditional requirement that companies wanting to publicize their awards must pay a fee to do so [“Getting a buy-in,” February 1999]. This year, organizers are giving business owners an opportunity to tout their winnings without strings attached. Jeffrey Chernoff, chairman of the awards, last year said the program has two components: a survey to determine the area’s favorite businesses, and an optional promotional program through which Consumers’ Choice provides publicity and allows businesses to use the organization’s name and logo…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:53

Crisis in the corner office

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Lying in the intensive care unit of Riverside Methodist Hospital, Doug Borror had plenty of time to think. About life. About family. About how lucky he was to survive the car crash that left him with severe head and neck injuries. Yet it was all he could do to focus on regaining his health. He wasn’t even able to worry about his home-building business, despite the fact that he had taken it public less than two months earlier. “When you’re not feeling good, you think about these things, but you don’t have the ability to focus on it,” says Borror,…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:52

Prime time

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Ever wonder why Ohio’s primary elections seem to come around earlier each year? It’s basic politics, of course. Ohio is among several states competing for the prestige, influence and revenue generated by increasingly expensive presidential campaigns. And, as the theory goes, the state that manages to schedule the earliest presidential primary is likely to reap the greatest rewards. The one-upmanship has gotten so bad, in fact, that the New Hampshire legislature, anxious to protect its traditional first-in-the-nation presidential preference pool, recently passed a bill allowing the state to hold its 2000 primary in 1999 if necessary. As it stands now,…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:52

Managing the maelstrom

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searchable " Bill Forquer found himself in the midst of a whirlwind when his company was purchased in June 1997. It wasn’t the first time. The then-president and CEO of Information Dimensions Inc. already had seen two ownership changes and several management reorganizations in his company, founded through Battelle in 1986. This change, however, was different. “On Day 1, we had a $23 million business, but we had no HR department, we had no legal staff, we had no financial system in place, we had no bank accounts, we had no cash and we had no building,” he recalls. The…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:51

Change your ways

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Getting your managers to take responsibility for what they do isn’t always as easy as it should be. Maybe that’s your fault. So suggest the principles of responsibility-centered management put together by Transformational Consultants International Inc. of Northwest Columbus. If you’re empowering your managers but aren’t holding them accountable for the empowered decisions they make, that’s not encouraging anyone to be more responsible. In fact, it takes quite a few elements to create a responsibility-centered manager. Here’s the list: 1. Personal responsibility or the willingness to exercise personal volition, both individually and collectively. 2. Personal accountability or the willingness to…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:51

A hi-tech payoff

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Christopher Doerschlag likens technology purchases to gambling. “The problem with IT investment is it’s hard to quantify the ROI,” says the president and COO of WDA&E architects and engineers. “It’s a very gray kind of decision.” Doerschlag has seen the gamble bring him a loss. His first investment, a $35,000 workstation purchased about seven years ago, was ahead of its time. The software hadn’t been developed well. “It was bleeding edge versus leading edge. You almost had to be a programmer to use it,” Doerschlag says. “It was an absolute disaster. Thank God we only bought one.” The workstation was…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:50

You can get there from here

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Got an out-of-town business trip? Who says you have to fly? Columbus is less than 500 miles from more than a dozen major cities, according to the Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce. Mileage from Columbus Baltimore 420 Buffalo, N.Y. 329 Cleveland 139 Charleston, W.Va. 211 Charlotte, N.C. 433 Chicago 311 Cincinnati 106 Detroit 186 Indianapolis 170 Louisville, Ky. 210 Milwaukee 454 Nashville, Tenn. 384 Philadelphia 477 Pittsburgh 182 St. Louis 421 Toronto, Ontario 436 Washington, D.C. 431 Source: Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce. To check mileage for more destinations from Columbus, visit www.columbus.org/community/charts/mileage.html.
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:50

Where has he been, indeed

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Bravo on your editorial in the September 1999 SBN titled, “Too little, too late.” I am a resident of East Cooke Road and have never seen or heard of Dick Jacobs in my eight years in Columbus till now. Bring on Polaris! Terry Rocko concierge Equity Office Columbus He doesn’t care Your editorial in the September issue of SBN was “right on.” Just about the time Jacobs had the Northland locals whipped into a frenzy to “save” the mall, he shows his true colors (emphasis on the money shade of green) and announces his plans to sell. Now that’s commitment…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:50

The hot list

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Todd Barnum president, CEO and chairman Max & Erma’s Restaurants Inc. Locally, Barnum’s pick is Oscar’s in Dublin. “I think they have the best walleye — I love walleye — that I have ever had,” Barnum says. “And my nephew [Craig Barnum] owns it, so I’m taken very good care of.” Barnum’s favorite restaurant chain, other than his own, is Houston’s, based in Atlanta. “They’re a large chain that has absolutely the best standards of any chain restaurant I’ve seen,” he says of the steak house. “Then there are lots of different restaurants I love for lots of different reasons:…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:50

Stepping down, but not out

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The story of Dan Evans’ time in jail explains his dedication to law enforcement officers and their fight against drugs. Be assured, the board chairman and retiring CEO of Bob Evans Farms Inc. was not behind bars because of any wrongdoing — simply because of youthful curiosity. “I like police people,” Evans explains. “When I was growing up in Gallipolis, I used to run around with the policemen. Back then, they didn’t arrest very many people.” It seems as a 10-year-old, Evans was fascinated with the town jail. He wandered inside to get a closer look, but before he knew…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:50

In-house air mail

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With 90 percent of its work outside Ohio, the Columbus architecture and engineering firm WDA&E has fax machines running constantly. Those faxes don’t always wind up on the right desk, especially considering the company’s expansion three years ago into a building next door. That left employees running constantly — until someone came up with the ingenious idea of installing a pneumatic tube, similar to the ones used by bank tellers at drive-thru windows, between the two buildings. The tube even connects the two floors of one building. Now, about 10 times an hour, paperwork whooshes through the tube, saving countless…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:50

Do you know Jack?

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Jack Faris, president and CEO of the National Federation of Independent Business, visited Columbus earlier this year to meet with Gov. Bob Taft and a handful of local business owners. During his trip, Faris took time with SBN to reflect upon his years at NFIB and the state of independent business today. Here’s what he had to say: Q. You’ve been leading the NFIB for seven years now. What do you consider your greatest accomplishment in that time? A. No. 1 would be that I’ve not embarrassed my mother in those seven years. I’m real proud of that. I came…