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Monday, 22 July 2002 09:39

Vickie Hutchins & JoAnn Martin

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While many business partnerships fail when oversized egos get in the way, Gooseberry Patch owners Vickie Hutchins and JoAnn Martin say partnering is what makes their company work. “I don’t know that either of us would have hung in here this long if we were by ourselves,” says Hutchins. Sixteen years ago, the duo started the Delaware mail order business from a mutual love of country decorating and antiques. With an initial investment of $5,000 apiece, they took no income for three years. In 1990, they hit the $1 million sales mark, and the company grew at about 30 percent…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:39

That's a good question

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What to ask instead of just blabbing to prospects about the greatness of your product or service Selling Solutions by Larry Lewis You frequently mention that you should avoid telling prospects about the features and benefits of your product or service and focus instead on asking the right questions. Can you tell me what types of questions to ask early in the selling process? I am frequently asked by clients to spell out the questions they should be comfortable asking on a sales call. This is a dangerous task, because it presupposes that every prospect is the same and every…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:39

Peak performance

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The Himalayan Mountain range between Nepal and Tibet includes the world’s highest elevation, Mount Everest, at 29,028 feet. Climbing it is considered one of the world’s greatest challenges. For many businesses, getting their computer systems and databases to work together is almost as difficult of a challenge. I have worked with businesses on this Herculean task for more than three decades, first at industry leaders IBM and Xerox and now at my own company, Everest Data Research Inc. Since 1988, our firm has been developing databases and computer systems for Fortune 500 and Fortune 1000 companies. Although our company specializes…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:39

It’s in the cards

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Think your senior citizen customers just ask about Golden Buckeye Card discounts after they’re in the check-out line? In reality, some may be checking out what perks you offer before they even walk through your door — and using that information to decide where to shop. If you already participate in the Golden Buckeye Card program, the Ohio Department of Aging now has your company — and your discount — listed on its Web site, www.state.oh.us/age/Buckeye.htm. If you’re not participating but want to, the site tells you how. It might be worth your while. Consider the following, courtesy of the…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:39

Getting a better ROI

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When WNCI-FM disc jockeys talked on-air earlier this year about which celebrities they looked like, the station asked listeners to call in their own stories. Callers made what the DJs thought were outrageous claims about looking like some of the big stars of today. So one DJ asked a listener to e-mail him a photo. That viewer complied — as did many others. The response to the radio bit grew so extreme, the DJ decided to post each of the photos on the World Wide Web. That way, the radio audience could check out other listeners first hand on the…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:39

Coordinators are for closers

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To save a few jobs after selling a second location, one Central Ohio businessman created what has become a model support system, allowing sales reps to reach more potential customers while still servicing existing clients. The jobs Jim Dixon Sr. saved at Val-Pak of Central Ohio are now called sales coordinator positions, and the people who fill them help the sales reps at his nearly $6 million business increase sales, as well as customer satisfaction. They do this by servicing existing customers — which account for 80 percent of Val-Pak’s business — while sales reps focus on building on the…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:38

Trust your instincts

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Imagine running a firm with 68 owners. Imagine trying to agree on a strategic direction. That's a constant challenge for me -- and one which hit a critical juncture a couple years ago. At that time, my firm decided to survey the 68 U.S. and Canadian companies that own us to prioritize several potential strategic directions. To my disappointment, expanding our international capabilities came in 10th of the 12 options. My instincts told me international expansion was more important than that. So with the support of another director, I persuaded our board to ignore the survey results and aggressively expand…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:38

Reworking the system

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If you think you're having problems filling your job openings now, brace yourself. While unemployment rates have hit the basement, Ohio this month begins working under the Workforce Investment Act to ensure we're not buried by the job glut in years to come. Mike Summers, chair of the Governor's Workforce Policy Board, says business owners are facing a new era of scarcity. "The old era was a scarcity of jobs," he says. "This era is 180 degrees from that, so we are clearly on new turf here. All of the existing public infrastructure is geared toward the old model." Consider…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:38

Outside interests

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SBN Columbus asked local business experts to analyze the plans for Chocolate Works. Using the company's two-page executive summary given to investors, David Bittner, president of Growth Management Solutions Inc. and chairman of the Columbus Investment Interest Group, and Beatrice Wolper, partner with Chester, Willcox & Saxbe LLP and board member for the Family Business Center of Central Ohio, took the time to provide some feedback. By David Bittner Something that immediately caught my attention about Chocolate Works is the owners' willingness, and even desire, to place equity with directors and partners. Partnering with Gerald Stevens seems like a smart…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:38

Make ‘em earn it

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The next time a youth group comes to your company with its hand out, put a scrub brush in it. That’s exactly what Dave Bianconi, president of Progressive Medical Inc. in Westerville, did earlier this summer when a young man raising money for the Boy Scouts called and asked Dave for a $500 donation. Rather than “give” the Boy Scouts the money, Dave gave them an opportunity to earn it -- by washing his employees’ cars at a rate of $15 each. Since Progressive employs 80 people, the earning potential more than doubled what the Boy Scouts had been looking…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:38

Guiding the green

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Growing professionally is a continuous process at Squire, Sanders & Dempsey LLP. With corporate offices in Cleveland and more than 550 attorneys and 20 offices in cities around the world, including Columbus, SS&D offers several training programs to help guide the careers of its associates. "Business development is not a skill that you learn in college or law school," says Alex Shumate, SS&D's managing partner in Columbus. "It's a mindset that you develop over the course of your experience. As Squire, Sanders & Dempsey LLP is committed to lifelong learning for all associates and partners, we take an active role…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:38

Calling in reinforcements

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Bernadette Bourke had heard it too many times: "So, your computer's down? We'll be out in a couple of days." That answer just didn't cut it for Quadrant Insurance Managers Inc., where Bourke is MIS manager. The five-employee company, which does $10 million in policy premium services annually, depends on its half-dozen computers for their databases, writing and issuing policies and keeping records. About a year ago, a radio advertisement for PC On Call said exactly what Bourke wanted to hear: The company wouldn't take days to respond. She called to find out more and, before she signed up, reiterated…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:37

Working the surf

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Next month, you can begin to interact with the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation online. Gov. Bob Taft earlier this summer signed into law House Bill 611, which gives the bureau the legal authority to interact with customers electronically. State Rep. Gary Cates (R-West Chester) sponsored the bill, which will eventually allow customers to complete almost any workers' compensation transaction electronically through an initiative called the Dolphin Project. An injured worker will be able to file a claim or an employer will be able to pay a premium through the Internet, and BWC will accept these transactions as official documents.…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:36

Steering in the right direction

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When it comes to workplace safety, worries about employees falling or cutting themselves while using a piece of machinery should not be at the top of your list. A greater risk to employees -- and others -- is simply driving company vehicles. After all, the National Safety Council lists motor vehicle crashes as the leading cause of accidental deaths, a term its even changed to "fatal unintentional injuries" in an effort to stress that all accidents could be prevented. "For the employer, you have employees out there so their safety is of concern [and] the general public's safety is of…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:36

Letters to the editor

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Ripping off the Scouts I wanted to comment on your Boy Scout editorial ["Make 'em earn it," SBN, August 2000] from the perspective of a Cub Scout den leader, a father and a company president. I agree with your "make the Scouts earn it" fund-raising mentality, but I would suggest you worry more about what parents are teaching and less about the Scout masters. Our Cub Scout pack recently held our annual awards dinner. All of the Scouts and their family members were invited. The cost was $1 per person for all the Joseppi's pizza they could eat. Uniformed scouts…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:36

Don't touch that dial!

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Try finishing the lyric: "Call Able for the proof ...." Steve Weyl relishes the times when someone knows the rest -- "444-ROOF," the phone number for his business, Able Roofing Co. Weyl, in fact, wrote the words and hashed out an idea for the music used in his radio ad jingle, which was produced by songwriters in Nashville. He also writes and announces the 60-second ad spots. "That's the best part of my job, is the marketing," says Weyl, president and CEO of Able, a $16 million Northeast Columbus company. "I think it came naturally. My mother's an artist, and…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:35

Movers & Shakers

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Emmet Apolinario, president and COO of Caspian Software, has been named to the development board of the Heinzerling Foundation. John J. Krimm Jr. has been promoted to partner at the law firm of Schottenstein, Zox & Dunn. Krimm spent almost 10 years with a Cleveland-based labor and employment firm before joining Schottenstein, Zox & Dunn in October last year. He will continue practicing in the labor and employment department in the firm's Columbus office. Chip Chapman, president of ADC Information Technologies, has been elected chairman of the Heart of Ohio Tech Prep Consortium, an organization of high schools, colleges and…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:35

To hell and back

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Five years ago, Sam McBride was a different man. He was a self-professed "falling-down drunk" whose company was in serious debt trouble. The IRS was after him for failing to pay employee withholding taxes. He was so depressed his doctor put him on Prozac, which he took in triple doses -- sometimes with booze. "I had all these problems I didn't think I could ever fix or get rid of," explains the 57-year-old president of Corporate Cutting Dies Inc., clearly still haunted by the recollection of what almost came to pass. "I started drinking to ease the tension." It was…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:35

Success is in the details

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Although Jamie Parman may sometimes find it difficult to explain to people exactly what she does for a living, she apparently does it quite well. Parman, who opened her business -- Parman Associates Inc. -- in 1992 with just eight employees, is now president of an organization with 50-plus employees operating in five offices throughout Ohio. "I'm very proud of the fact that from 1992 to 1995, at a time when many of my competitors were downsizing, we were doubling in size," says Parman, whose company now generates annual revenue in the $3 million range. As a Bureau of Workers'…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:35

It's not old news

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Last year, Les Ridout of Huntington Bancshares hardly saw AIDS on his radar of employee concerns. "Ten, 12, 15 years ago, when you had a group of employees in a banking office or in any office ... if they were aware that somebody had AIDS, it was fear of the unknown. So we'd have our employee assistance program people go in and say, 'Look, this is no more communicable -- unless you go in and have an intimate relationship with this person -- than, say, cancer,'" says Ridout, executive vice president and human resources director for Huntington. "Over the years,…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:35

An easy way to e-tail

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Cimetric Commerce Inc. promises its clients the world. The Columbus-based company -- formerly known as Ncom Group -- will, for no up-front fees, design and maintain a Web site, provide online marketing, answer customer questions, process sales, fulfill orders, ship products and even handle returns for client companies. The only hard cost for the client is to make inventory available. Cimetric makes its money by getting a cut of every sale generated on the Web site. For The Solid Light Co., a Worthington-based retailer, it was the ideal arrangement. Now the family-owned company has its complete line of contemporary Christian…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:34

Movers & Shakers

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Jim Hackbarth has been named president and CEO of Virtualintern. Based in Columbus, Virtualintern is an online internship community focused on providing college students with internship opportunities and helping companies expand their recruiting channels to address the needs of college recruitment. Co-founders Jason Kuder and Nathan Kuder have been named vice president of international operations and vice president of product management, respectively. Also, Phillip Solomon has been named vice president of marketing, and Don Campbell has been named vice president of finance and administration. John Havens, retired chairman of Banc One Corp., and Robert Massie, director and CEO of Chemical…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:34

The holiday cash crunch

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For many small businesses, the holidays are the busiest time of the year. Up to 25 percent of annual revenue for small businesses can come during the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year's. Some have contracts, but need cash to increase inventory for the holiday season. Others need cash to buy raw materials to fill holiday orders. Marvin Swain Jr., president of My Mama's Sweet Potato Pie Co., has felt the year-end financial pinch before. In fall 1999, with a contract with a national grocery chain, My Mama's Sweet Potato Pie had an order for 20,000 pies with delivery during…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:34

Spreading its wings

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A jet plane may be the only escape from Central Ohio's orange barrels, but be prepared for a final send-off by construction at Port Columbus International Airport. In the past 10 years, seven passenger records have been set; more than 6.5 million travelers passed through the airport in 1999, an increase of 1.9 percent from 1998 and 79 percent since 1990. The airport's current terminal building, once it's expanded completely, will have the capacity to handle 10 million passengers annually. However, passenger forecasts for Port Columbus reflect a projection of 18 million passengers annually over the next 20 to 25…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:34

No facade

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Donald A. Borror couldn't resist the request a few years ago from his granddaughter: Would he play his ukulele at her school music festival in the spring? That evening, he took one of four seats at The Wellington School reserved for him and other musically talented relatives of the students. A bit later, another gentleman joined him, setting down his Gibson banjo. "The case itself must've cost $500," Borror says. "Here I've got this cardboard thing with a $40 ukulele." Then came the other two parents: A flutist and her husband -- dressed in a tux, no less -- who…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:34

Letters to the editor

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Humbled by a child What a great piece ["The Thinking Tree," SBN September 2000] on a topic one would not expect to find in a business magazine. I think I'm even more impressed with your reaction and reflections. When we are humbled by a child, we are truly blessed. Please take a picture of your son and his thinking tree. It will serve as a reminder for both of you that life is more than meeting deadlines, chasing dollars and letting others decide what is important. I enjoyed reading your magazine and am looking forward to the next issue. Laurel…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:34

Good tidings

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MC2 knows how to net new projects during the slow holiday season: Give clients a good laugh. The downtown firm's 1999 holiday "card" was an exercise plan to ward off unwanted calories. "Last year we tried to come up with something fun and lighthearted and poking a little fun at ourselves and how much people eat around the holidays," says Brock Poling, the interactive marketing agency's president. The company's CD-ROM holiday greeting, "Season's Eatings," allowed 500-plus clients, community VIPs and prospects to burn "FOUR whole calories" by clicking on treats such as cheese, cake and cookies as they flew across…
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