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Sunday, 24 February 2008 19:00

Leading with passion

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Craig Drablos wishes it were as easy as sitting down and talking to someone, but finding people with passion goes beyond a simple discussion. Drablos says he learned this lesson after years of conversations with potential hires who demonstrated passion and drive but didn’t live up to expectations. And if he had continued to base his hiring decisions solely on candidate interviews, Drablos says, he would have made several more wrong hires as southeast commercial operations CEO at Humana Inc., a $24.6 billion health insurance company based in Louisville, Ky. The key to hiring the right person is talking to…
Sunday, 24 February 2008 19:00

Success from chaos

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Elaine C. Myrback trusts and empowers her employees, but she’ll step in to help if necessary, even catching the next flight out to meet a client to discuss a potential contract. Above all, the president and CEO of EMS Consulting — an Enterprise Resource Planning consulting service — and its subsidiary, Intelligent Chaos, wants to make sure her customers’ expectations are being met. It’s a fine line between being an involved CEO and treading on your employees’ toes, Myrback says, and she tries very hard not to cross it. “You want to believe in your people; you want to give…
Tuesday, 29 January 2008 19:00

A normal housing market

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Perhaps no sector of the commercial real estate market has seen more volatility over the past three years than multihousing. From a market position grounded in strong fundamentals to a euphoric run to conversions, the apartment market is again beginning to stabilize for owners, potential investors and tenants. “The good news is that the effects of ‘conversions’ to ‘reversions’ over the last two quarters of 2007 are being addressed and we are seeing an increasing degree of equilibrium return to the market,” says John Selby, a multihousing specialist and senior vice president with CB Richard Ellis in Tampa, Fla. “As…
Tuesday, 29 January 2008 19:00

Workout wonder

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When Australia native Geoff Dyer returned to the United Statesafter a trip home in 1983, he found out some surprising newsregarding his company. His partner in Lifestyle Family FitnessInc., the business the duo started in July 1982, had voted him outof the venture.The company had seen some success after 12 months of operation, and Dyer says his partner thought he could run things on hisown, even though he had no previous experience in the fitnessbusiness.“Any business that is well run looks like it runs on autopilot,”he says. “But, as you well know, there’s always a good manager.A business will run…
Wednesday, 26 December 2007 19:00

Think global, act local

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During uncertain economic times, business owners often find that a private banker’s holistic approach to their financial needs might provide the difference between success and failure. Private bankers are most effective when they take a 360-degree view of a client’s personal and business goals before recommending customized solutions. Most personal bankers have the ability to offer products and services that meet clients’ needs for business succession planning, tax planning, investment growth, business financing or estate planning, but that’s only part of the success equation. A personal banker with little authority or autonomy to act or your behalf might compromise the…
Sunday, 25 November 2007 19:00

Personal health records

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According to the American Health Information Management Association, keeping a personal health record (PHR) allows a person to provide doctors with valuable information that can help improve the quality of care he or she receives; can help reduce or eliminate duplicate tests and allow a person to receive faster, safer treatment and care in an emergency; and helps people play a more active role in their health care. There are numerous ways consumers can compile PHRs; many resources are available in the marketplace. In addition, several plan providers offer tools for members through the plan’s Web site. Smart Business asked…
Sunday, 25 November 2007 19:00

Team player

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When Peter Anderson co-founded Bayshore Technologies Inc. in 1997, he wanted to create a company that he would be proud to work for. To do that, he drew on his background as a professional soccer player and coach and began with the principles of teamwork. Anderson, president and CEO of Bayshore, discovered that the work ethic that helped him succeed on the field did the same for him in the business world, and by implementing a team-based culture that values hard work, he was able to build a $22 million IT powerhouse. Smart Business spoke with Anderson about what he…
Friday, 26 October 2007 20:00

More than the minimum

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Not long ago, changes in both federal and state minimum wage rules were set into effect. Though many companies already pay slightly above minimum wage to remain competitive in the market, their ability to compete for top talent is significantly impacted by employee wages. Companies rely on certain experts that collect or analyze information to assist in personnel training, wage comparisons, market demand, etc. That service comes by way of an HR team, consultants or a work force development organization whose function it is to make recommendations that advance the company’s goal to remain a viable employer. “Our expertise lies…
Friday, 26 October 2007 20:00

Employers beware

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The phone rings. A startled woman awakes from a sound sleep. She immediately looks at the clock. It is 2:52 a.m. The caller speaks broken English. She is confused and unclear regarding the caller’s intent. Her thought is to hang up the phone. The phone goes momentarily silent. She then hears her husband’s voice informing her he has been taken from his hotel room and will not be released until the caller’s demands are met. Her heart begins to race, her voice is quivering, and she can only say, “Are you OK?” The unknown caller’s voice returns, making a monetary…
Tuesday, 25 September 2007 20:00

Is a brand name better?

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As the cost of medical care, including pharmaceutical drugs, continues to escalate, many businesses are looking for ways to save money on health care costs. One way businesses can help keep premiums down is by encouraging the use of generic prescriptions. “In 2005, consumers spent over $229 billion on brand-name drugs,” says Shawn F. Barger, Pharm.D., director of Clinical Pharmacy Management for Gainesville-based AvMed Health Plans. “Billions of dollars of brand-name patents will expire in the next five years, which means that many more generic drugs will become available. These generics are virtually identical to the more expensive brand name,…
Sunday, 26 August 2007 20:00

Keeping good people

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With multiple generations in the work force, ease of travel, global competition, and a relatively sound economy, companies are facing challenges in attracting and retaining top talented employees. “Employers today are realizing that they must invest in sound hiring and retention practices to include programs that meet the needs and wants of employees,” says Michael Garcia, work force services manager at Tampa Bay WorkForce Alliance. “Those employers that best understand their employees’ behaviors, values and goals fare better in the competition for the brightest.” Smart Business talked to Garcia, who said that many companies are employing strategies that break away…
Sunday, 26 August 2007 20:00

What’s behind that wall?

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All companies in the United States have pollution liability exposures. From construction to oil and gas exploration to banking, the potential for pollution issues that could affect a company’s bottom line is endless. Property owners are scrambling to mitigate these exposures. “A major problem occurs when sales of valuable commercial real estate are hindered because of known, suspected, or unknown environmental conditions,” says Joseph Kulak, managing director, National Environmental Practice, Hilb, Rogal & Hobbs. “Environmental insurance coverage simplifies property transactions by removing difficult environmental issues from the negotiations.” Smart Business spoke with Kulak about how the use of environmental insurance…
Thursday, 26 July 2007 20:00

Joe Williams

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At a previous career, Joe Williams was on his way out the door for the weekend, and as he passed his boss’s door, the boss told Williams that he needed to see him first thing Monday morning. Williams, now president and CEO of $68 million Kimmins Contracting Corp., asked if they could talk immediately, but the boss said no. Williams went home and was in a lousy mood all weekend, only to come in on Monday to talk to a boss who couldn’t even remember why he wanted to talk. The lesson stuck: If there is an issue, don’t leave…
Thursday, 26 July 2007 20:00

Health care customer service

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Are you satisfied with your current health care plan provider? When your employees call for assistance, are they being well-served? It is hoped that you answered yes. However, if you’re having a lot of problems — and your employees are constantly complaining to human resources — it may be time to consider other alternatives. The first consideration for most employers is how much coverage they can get for their money. But it’s equally as important to factor in the level of customer service. “Whether you are seeking a plan for the first time or are thinking about changing providers, keep…
Thursday, 26 July 2007 20:00

What next?

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It’s business as usual, but you are starting to think about retirement. There is much to consider so it is important to think things through and prepare yourself and your business to maximize value and retire in the way that best suits you. “Privately or family-owned businesses are typically run to maximize the benefits to the current owner(s),” says Vincent Della Rocca, director at SunTrust Robinson Humphrey in Tampa. “When considering the valuation and sale of a business, it is important to look at the business through the eyes of a potential buyer. Preparing a business for sale is a…
Monday, 25 June 2007 20:00

What a brand is not

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Knowing what a brand is not can save money, aggravation and most importantly, save your company. When was the last time you approached a design or ad shop to create you a new brand? Companies and their executives approach ad agencies and graphic shops every day, intent on getting a brand. They think that if they go shopping for a new logo, different colors, enhanced collateral material and a new message: POOF, they will have a brand. Not so fast. An ad agency, a graphic shop or in-house designers are not capable of giving you a brand. You can’t order…
Monday, 25 June 2007 20:00

Beating the unknown

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When Erik Vonk joined Gevity HR Inc. in early 2002, the company had just announced a $20 million loss for 2001.While it wasn’t the ideal situation to jump into, Vonk was readyfor the challenge.Despite the business’ struggles, he didn’t come in , clean houseand build a management team from scratch. While there werechanges that needed to be made, making immediate personnelmoves wasn’t necessary.“I felt that would be even more overpowering while, on the otherhand, this was a strong company and had been a strong companyin the past and had strong people,” says Vonk, who serves as chairman and CEO. “So…
Life’s lessons can be learned from new motion picture.
Saturday, 26 May 2007 20:00

Aged to perfection

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When Thilo Best was recruited to manage a portfolio of properties owned by White Hall Real Estate Funds, he knew he would befacing a difficult situation.Operations needed to be improved and the most recent acquisition wasn’t working out as planned.Best accepted the challenge and formed Horizon Bay SeniorCommunities to manage the portfolio, and took the dual roles ofpresident and CEO.“My first month on the job was going out to see all the communities, to start assessing the quality of the people and start figuringout what was the good part of the company, what was the not sogreat part of the…
Wednesday, 25 April 2007 20:00

Window of opportunity

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It’s not something he looks forward to, but Rod Hershberger doesn’t shy away from breaking bad news to his 2,400 employees at PGT Industries. “Bad news needs to be delivered by the top,” says the president and CEO of the $370 million window and door manufacturer. “If you send lieutenants out to deliver bad news, every time theysee a lieutenant coming, they figure it’s going to be bad news, and they think all you are trying to do is deliver the good news. “It’s like a coach. You win or lose with your team, and you go to the press…
Monday, 26 March 2007 20:00

Beware of your media choices

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Building mind awareness through the right medium choices is one of the most important things you can do to improve your bottom line. Knowing where those new customers are coming from is the second most important thing. So why are you throwing your money away, and why are you giving credit to the wrong medium? First things first, in order to create mind awareness with your future customers, they have to find you. Did everyone hear that? They have to find you. Chances are they will not find you when you advertise in one magazine, one radio station, on just…
Monday, 26 March 2007 20:00

One market, four generations

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It’s an accepted fact of life that parents and their children won’t understand one another, particularly during the teenage years. But what happens when these generational differences branch outside of domestic squabbles? What do you do when your cubicle mate went to school with your daughter? Or when your boss remembers World War II? “This is the first time in history where four generations are in our workplace,” says David Stillman co-founder of Bridge-Works. “We have the Traditionalists (pre-1946), the Boomers (1946-1964), the Gen-Xers (1964-1982), and the Millennials (1982-2000).” Smart Business spoke to Stillman about how to navigate the opportunities…
Monday, 26 March 2007 20:00

Long-term savings

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Businesses have been dealing with the burden of rising health care premiums for many years. However, the good news is that in the past couple of years, health benefit premiums are no longer seeing the double-digit increases of the past decade, and have slowed to a more manageable single-digit increase, says Shawn F. Barger, Pharm.D., director of clinical pharmacy management at AvMed Health Plans in Gainsville, Fla. Part of the reason that health benefits costs have slowed, interestingly enough, is because of the advances in the pharmaceutical industry. “Yes, prescription drug costs have skyrocketed, but that is because there are…
Monday, 26 March 2007 20:00

The people behind the people

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Once upon a time, there was a company with 600 employees but no human resources (HR) staff. Management had never considered how HR expertise could add value. The top executive, who was a people person, assumed the other top managers were people-oriented, as well. And, for the most part, they were. But a staff that is strongly people-oriented must always also possess a “let’s-get-the-job-done” attitude. In that event, getting the best people to do the best job possible is the preferred situation. “That’s where human resources comes in,” says Bob Preziosi, a professor of management in the Huizenga School of…
Monday, 26 March 2007 20:00

Powerful plastic

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We may have started out paying for needs with rocks or pebbles, but plastic has become the method of choice for most Americans. It has been reported that 75 percent of us now use credit or debit cards to pay for purchases. The most dramatic shift has been from checks and cash to plastic. Now, especially with those under 34 and earning more than $30,000 per year, the shift is moving to debit cards. Debit purchases have grown from $421 billion in 2001 to $1 trillion in 2006. “Plastic can be a terrific tool for companies and consumers when used…
Wednesday, 28 February 2007 19:00

Peak performance

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Bill Tamayo was flying into New York City to change his life.The president and CEO of Suncoast Roofers Supply Inc. was going tomeet with a company consolidator who had convinced him it would bebest to sell his then-$80 million company. But as the flight was about toland, the pilot said they were being diverted to Philadelphia. It was Sept. 11, 2001, and while the United States would never again bethe same, Tamayo’s professional life also received a wake-up call. “I had already mentally checked out,” Tamayo says. “I was going tocash out and get out.” But he was forced to…
Wednesday, 31 January 2007 19:00

Never settle

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When Marie Bartholomew started Tampa Bay Vending Inc. with her husband, Brad, in the 1980s, it wasn’t the high-tech operation it is today. In fact, it was nothing but a Volvo station wagon, a U-Haul trailer and a dolly from Wal-Mart. But that entrepreneurial spirit was coupled with a plan for continuous improvement. The CEO of Tampa Bay Vending says that the day you consider yourself No. 1 is the day that someone who’s hungrier than you will wrestle that spot away from you. She, along with her husband, who serves as president, challenges her employees to get better every…