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Wednesday, 09 April 2014 18:53

E-commerce: A sea change in retail

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Columbus has been very attractive to many West Coast e-retailers that need a presence on the East Coast, like Seattle-based Zulily, says Kenny McDonald, CEO of Columbus 2020. As e-commerce grows, many companies are discovering Columbus works well for their fulfillment centers, even as they struggle to control supply chain costs. “When you’re pulled to the Eastern market of the U.S. and Canada, Columbus makes an enormous amount of sense,” he says. “And what most people find once they get their boots on the ground is that the talent base is really pretty strong, from top to bottom, and it’s…
Subtle adjustments to the claim adjudication process have led to managed care organizations (MCOs) being asked to start collecting expanded data on new injuries. “An employer’s MCO plays a key role in initiating claims,” says Lance Watkins, AVP, Client Services, CompManagement Health Systems. All injury reports are routed through MCOs to ensure that the required data is in place before a claim is reviewed by the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) for allowance. Smart Business spoke with Watkins to better understand how MCOs will operate under the new process.What is changing in the data collection process for MCOs? Previously,…
Gary Schottenstein learned from his father, Irving Schottenstein, to treat your customer right and fairly. And after more than 35 years in the real estate business, he still holds true to that — and tries to treat everyone that way, from customers to employees. In fact, the chairman and CEO of Schottenstein Real Estate Group keeps a voicemail to remind him, and because it makes him feel good. Bruce Heine was trying to buy one of the company’s condominiums for himself and his wife. The two had a lot of health problems. Schottenstein says Heine couldn’t qualify for a mortgage.…
We ♥ (heart) logistics. The award-winning UPS ad campaign certainly strikes home for Columbus. The city is naturally attractive as a distribution and logistics hub for its geographic access to 46 percent of the U.S. population within a 10-hour drive, as well as strong supply chain talent and value. In fact, the logistics industry employs 9 percent of Central Ohio’s workforce. But just like with manufacturing, distribution and logistics jobs may not be the first thought of those entering the workforce, says Kenny McDonald, CEO of Columbus 2020. “It’s still probably a misunderstood term and a misunderstood industry,” he says.…
Monday, 31 March 2014 01:11

Building Stronger Communities: LifeCare Alliance

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Working together: LifeCare Alliance marries the needs of for-profits with its own LifeCare Alliance would not be able to serve its 15,000 active clients without support from the corporate community — companies big and small deliver Meals-on-Wheels, work in its dining centers, deliver pet care, assist with numerous volunteer opportunities, and purchase catering and wellness services. President and CEO Charles Gehring says he always hears how much corporate associates enjoy working with LifeCare’s clients, which in turn makes them appreciate their employer. However, building relationships between for-profit and nonprofits needs to go both ways. Smart Business spoke with Gehring about…
Healthy relationships are good for you — and in my experience, this is as true for companies as it is for people. At Molina Healthcare of Ohio, our involvement with community partners has enhanced our reputation, raised brand awareness, allowed us to model our mission in action and motivated everyone in the company to do our best. Giving back can improve the bottom line, too. Eighty-two percent of U.S. consumers consider corporate social responsibility when deciding how to spend money, according to a May 2013 Cone Communications study. If your company is ready to reap more rewards from community partnerships,…
The world of technology startups is dominated by one overriding characteristic: uncertainty. Uncertainty in marketing, feature sets, customer needs and even in revenue models nip at founders as they strike out and try to create something new. Uncertainty is not exclusive to young companies, as executives from small businesses to multinational corporations confront the unknown daily. We can wade into the froth of data and events and hope not to be pulled under, or we can employ a technique that compiles the input and processes it in a manageable way — the strategic framework. In startups, one framework gaining popularity…
If being online is a part of your business strategy, you need more than a quality, user-friendly website. You need smart SEO. When a person conducts an online search using words related to your business, SEO increases the likelihood that your website is listed at the top of the results. It allows you to reach a greater audience online — but only if it’s done correctly. Start by understanding some key strategies insiders use to ensure both humans and search engines like your website.Use strategic website organization Create a list of relevant keywords and use them strategically throughout the website.…
Companies use customer service metrics to gauge how customers view them. But that’s not enough — not if you really want to delight customers. Successful companies listen to what customers are saying and use it to drive operational change. Feedback isn’t just analyzed at the corporate level, but throughout the entire organization. When we rolled out an updated customer service survey, we implemented three key things to ensure each person understood its importance and their role in it.Make it more than a score In the past, we used the Customer Service Index as a measure. We had great scores, but…
At the end of January, I received an email that Gwynnie Bee, an e-commerce retailer, was opening a flagship fulfillment center in the Columbus region, creating 400 jobs — and so began my research into Columbus as a distribution hub for this month’s feature story. I’d always heard that Columbus is located in the perfect spot, accessible to most of the U.S. population within a day’s drive. I knew it was basically the mini-New York with many fashion retailers headquartered in the area. What I didn’t know was the deliberate effort on behalf of business and government leaders to turn…
The Small Business Investor Tax Deduction, new this tax season, allows individuals to save thousands of dollars in taxes on business income — if their tax preparer knows it’s available. “Your CPA can help you with this deduction, but they may need to do some research since it’s new. The software used by many tax preparers is not yet fully functional in terms of this deduction, so it’s more dependent on what individual CPAs know,” says Joseph Popp, J.D., LLM, manager of tax at Rea & Associates. Smart Business spoke with Popp about the purpose of the deduction and who…
Companies looking to expand overseas may experience a different business culture and need to be aware of the legal issues they may face. “It’s important to prepare beforehand and ensure you’re complying with all of the different EU and German laws that come into play,” says German native Katja Garvey, an associate at Kegler, Brown, Hill + Ritter. Smart Business spoke with Garvey about legal issues to consider when doing business in Europe, and particularly in Germany.What are the main concerns when expanding a business in Europe? First, a U.S. company needs to decide what type of business entity it…
The Treasury Department made it a little easier for companies to comply with the Affordable Care Act (ACA) by delaying the employer mandate to provide health insurance for companies with 50 to 99 employees. Those businesses will have until January 2016 before facing potential penalties, while companies with 100 or more full-time equivalent (FTE) employees still face a Jan. 1, 2015, compliance deadline. “Some of it was about giving companies time to come into compliance, but they also don’t know yet how penalties will be enforced or collected. The law doesn’t allow the IRS to collect any penalties, so they…
Figuring out how much liability coverage to buy isn’t easy, but it’s very important. General liability covers an entity for bodily injury, property damage, personal and advertising injury, and medical payments to a third party because of negligence of the insured. So, adequately selecting the appropriate limits provides defense costs and indemnification to that third party, which will properly indemnify that claimant. “As an organization, ask yourself, ‘If my limits are not enough to cover the injury, what happens?’” says Cliff Baseler, vice president at SeibertKeck Insurance Agency. “You hope the insurance company will offer a settlement at your policy…
The way children are accessing Highlights for Children’s products have changed, which has changed how the company thinks about the Web and uses digital platforms. “Of course, the children today have so many more choices across a bunch of different platforms. But to take it to the higher level, I think we’re competing for time — we’re competing for children’s time today,” says Shelly Stotzer, executive vice president and chief marketing officer for Highlights For Children. “Anything that’s a use of their time, whether it’s after school activities, sports, books, apps, computers, TV, all the things that children do today,…
Thursday, 27 February 2014 20:15

How the ACA could change Ohio workers’ compensation

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Although it appears the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was not intended to affect the workers’ compensation system, it may influence it. Ohio may be less likely to experience some of the hypothetical outcomes discussed for other states, but there is a correlation and potential impact.Smart Business spoke with David D. Kessler, medical director at CompManagement Health Systems, about how the ACA might affect workers’ compensation.What aspects of the ACA could be used in the workers’ compensation system?An important concept with the ACA is the reference to Accountable Care Organizations, which are groups of health care providers who coordinate the care…
When John Sheppard stepped into his role as president and CEO of EveryWare Global Inc. nearly two years ago, he knew he was faced with the difficult challenge of bringing together two ingrained cultures of two iconic brands — what he didn’t know, was that the two companies had yet to meet. Anchor Hocking and Oneida, two of the most well-known and long-time consumer brands in tabletop and food preparation products had been purchased by Monomoy Capital Partners in 2007 and 2012 respectively, and the two companies were set to become one under the umbrella of EveryWare. “I think there…
Highlights for Children might be best known for its Highlights magazine, which many children — and before them their parents and their parent’s parents — get at school or thumb through in doctors’ and dentists’ waiting rooms across the U.S. While it’s proud of its past, the company has invested heavily in its future, propagating its brand internationally to reach children across the world. As it grows its presence and its products, the company is studying its customers and consumers, adapting its processes, expanding digitally and aligning its focus on the customer experience. “We’ve definitely shifted from being a magazine-focused…
Remaining relevant in a changing world: Learning from the Girl Scout’s long-term success How can nonprofit operations be relevant to companies not in the same sector? The answer is simple — successful businesses share commonalities regardless of how they are defined. Gone are the days when any organization, nonprofit or otherwise, can exist, let alone thrive, on goodwill and longevity alone. Efficient and effective business practices must be embraced throughout an organization. So what secrets have allowed the Girl Scouts to remain strong for 102 years, while other companies have collapsed? Five key concepts are the bedrock of Girl Scouts’…
The Payroll Fraud Prevention Act of 2013, introduced in the Senate last fall, seeks to reduce intentional misclassification of employees as independent contractors. “It clearly reiterates that it is on the federal government’s radar and that they are concerned about misclassification,” says Brendan Feheley, a director at Kegler, Brown, Hill + Ritter. IRS and Department of Labor (DOL) officials also are aware that the employer mandate in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) may provide more incentive for businesses to classify workers as independent contractors to avoid providing health insurance. “It’s going to be a heightened issue in 2015 as it…
Smart Business spoke with Phil Scott of Sequent Retirement and Benefits Group about trends for plan sponsors.What are some areas of growing interest and focus for plan sponsors? One area that continues to be explored is automatic contribution enrollment and automatic contribution increases as ways to boost participation. By providing better education and communication platforms, plan sponsors are enabling employee participants to be more prepared for their retirement. Finally, plan sponsors are continuing to keep a close watch on their administrative duties and regulatory requirements.What are plan sponsors doing to help protect themselves and manage fiduciary risk? They have leaned…
It can be more than a full-time job to keep up with technology as it evolves, and smaller and midsize entities that tend not to have dedicated technology staff can face even more acute challenges.So many changes occur, it’s hard to know what’s available, says Paul Karlin, M. Ed., director of Education Technology & Services at Blue Technologies Smart Solutions. Also, you must train staff and invest in maintenance to keep technology from sitting around unused or broken. At the same time, organizations need to continually budget for change. “They’ll say, ‘OK, we’re done. We’ve got a great network and…
More Ohio employers are becoming financially stable after the Great Recession. These same business owners are earning high compensation and looking for additional ways to defer taxes. This has led to an increase in companies desiring to start a 401(k) plan. The 401(k) plan is not only good for retention and recruiting, it’s also a great way to lower taxable income. Plans today are a good blend of benefiting both rank-and-file and highly compensated employees.“However, when designing the plan, a big pitfall is when an employer doesn’t understand the provisions and how to operate the plan going forward — that…
Big data can reveal many opportunities for improving your business, but extracting the precise information you need can be a struggle.“Some companies today have more than 30 years worth of data. Their databases are so large that it’s difficult to get a handle on them,” says Joe Welker, CISA, IT audit manager at Rea & Associates.Using data analytics software, auditors can analyze the data and prepare reports that enable companies to improve inventory, billing and other processes.“It allows us to be more efficient, which means lower cost for companies because less time is spent on the audit,” says Michaela McGinn,…
There’s no question that a fair amount of confusion exists about the Affordable Care Act — including the lack of clarity about the differences between private insurance exchanges and public exchanges. Beginning now, individuals are, as a result of the ACA, required to either obtain health insurance or face penalties. Most people are covered by employer-sponsored medical plans, but many are not covered and have even previously been deemed uninsurable. Not any more. Examining the public exchangesThe ACA’s public exchanges were intended to help make insurance more affordable and enable the uninsured to be covered regardless of existing health conditions.…
Although social media has become mainstream practice for businesses, many executives are still uncertain how to put their best foot forward with social media strategy. If done right, social media is the perfect platform to give your brand a personality, and build brand affinity and awareness. It requires clear objectives and a smart strategy in order to engage the right audience with the right messages. As a marketing professional, I’ve witnessed the success in building online relationships, increasing social media website referrals, receiving valuable feedback from customers and generating leads. By instilling social media best practices, you, too, can reap…
If you ask anyone what makes Flying Horse Farms so special, unquestionably the answer will be “the people.” As CEO of this life-changing organization, I am proud of the culture we have built and believe our culture has everything to do with our success. As a young organization, we were fortunate to build our culture together — from the ground up, as a team. Together, we established a vision of how we want to be known throughout the state of Ohio, the country and beyond. We created our 10 core values and didn’t stop editing them until they were perfect.…
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