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After more than a decade of private equity investing with business owners as partners, I’ve learned that the relationship can seem like a marriage. This is especially true in situations where things don’t go as planned. For the business owner/private equity marriage to withstand challenging circumstances and generate value for both parties upon conclusion (a “liquidity event”), it is important that partners embrace the following attributes: Mutual trust and transparency. Shared vision. Willingness of each partner to put the best interests of the partnership ahead of personal ego. Determination and commitment to make it work. Mutual trust and transparency Trust…
Wednesday, 18 December 2013 23:54

Lin Miao - Why co-working spaces will dominate by 2020

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The era of cubicles and water coolers is coming to an end. As businesses adapt to the increasingly specific needs of today’s consumer, the office environment is also evolving to meet the needs of today’s workforce. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the startup tech industry and co-working world. The current generation of tech-savvy entrepreneurs is seeking environments that accommodate a highly competitive yet creative lifestyle, with the least economic impact on their company. They’re working 24/7 for their startup so they chafe at the constraints of a 9-to-5 workweek. Instead of renting offices, they’re embracing the hottest trend…
Christine NeitzkePresident, co-founderThe Dragonfly Foundationwww.thedragonflyfoundation.org On the wings of hope Christine Neitzke co-founded The Dragonfly Foundation to give support to ill youngsters Seeing a need for families and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital to receive more support for young cancer and blood disorder patients, Christine Neitzke and her friend Ria Davidson founded The Dragonfly Foundation in August 2010. They have been working closely with the hospital, its staff, patients and families ever since to bring support and encouragement at times when it is needed most. Christine and Jim Neitzke’s youngest son Matt was diagnosed with stage 3A Hodgkin’s lymphoma in February 2010.…
Social networks in recent years have been the hottest marketing platforms discussed and used by companies all around the world. It has been a growing way to build a relationship and loyalty with the customer. So, is your business on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram or all of the above? In doing so, have you left behind other crucial marketing elements? Below are some critical marketing basics that still need to be done right for social networking to be effective. Do you have a product that customers want? Having a product or service that customers really want means that it has…
Tanny CranePresident and CEOCrane Groupwww.cranegroup.com Raising the barThe Crane Group continues to find ways to be a good neighbor Tanny Crane puts her heart and soul into her business, and she does the same with her efforts to make Columbus and the surrounding region a better place to live and work. Her recent pledge of $1 million to Mayor Michael Coleman’s South Side Initiative is just another instance of that dedication. The revitalization and redevelopment of the Southern Gateway neighborhood involved the renovation of the closed Reeb Avenue Elementary School into a neighborhood center, which will offer social programming and…
Henry Ward Beecher once said, “It is much easier to go down a hill than up it, but the view is much better at the top.” If you’ve ever wondered whether your workforce would band together to win an uphill battle, try relocating your headquarters. Moving a business is an extraordinary task to take on, no matter the size. At Petplan, we’ve experienced fast and furious growth in just a few short years, and relocating our company to larger digs was not without its challenges. No one really likes change, but it is my belief — and it has been…
It’s hard to imagine a business world today without a diverse and inclusive workplace. It wasn’t that long ago, however, that women weren’t in leadership positions and offices didn’t have ethnically diverse workforces. At EY, within its St. Louis office in particular, that diversity and inclusion effort has been in big part thanks to Ruth Saphian. Saphian became EY’s St. Louis office managing partner in April, a promotion that made her the first female managing partner of the 320-employee firm. Her new role coincided with EY St. Louis’ 100th anniversary, EY’s corporate leadership changes and the company’s new brand and…
There are very few written policies that are required by law to be provided to employees, but there are certain policies companies can adopt to protect themselves and reduce their liability exposures. This can either be done though a company handbook or by distributing individual policies to employees. “Courts have said that by advising employees of certain information, the burden shifts from the employer proving something didn’t happen to the employee proving something did. That can be a significant difference in an employer’s ability to defend itself both in terms of success and cost,” says Jeffrey Dinkin, a shareholder at…
Halal is the rules that influence consumption in the Muslim world, directed by the values and beliefs defined in the Quran. It refers to anything considered permissible and lawful. The global halal market — food and non-food — is estimated to be in excess of $2.3 trillion, with the food sector alone reaching $700 billion annually, says Angelo A. Camillo, Ph.D., associate professor of strategic management in the School of Business at Woodbury University. In Muslim countries, the halal industry is vital to societal development and economic growth. Global marketers also are strategically promoting the halal industry by targeting geographic…
Most everyone is aware of the seismic changes occurring in the health care industry. While the implementation of the Affordable Care Act is garnering most of the attention, a fundamental shift is occurring in the health care real estate business. Buoyed by a perfect storm — providers are receiving lower reimbursements, construction costs are rising, interest rates are slowly nudging up — hospitals and doctors are searching for ways to most effectively and efficiently treat patients as trends suggest there will be more health care services needed, but patients will make fewer facility visits. This requires a sea change in…
On the Chinese calendar, we are currently in the Year of the Snake. For U.S. tax planning purposes, many people will find that they are in the year of the Sticker Shock. Seems to be a curious coincidence of unpleasantness, doesn’t it? Most of us who practice in the tax world are quite aware of the myriad tax changes that took effect for the 2013 tax year. Unfortunately, many taxpayers who are directly affected by these changes may not be. In fact, you may be surprised to learn that the tax landscape has shifted sharply for those who are now…
Throughout 2013, companies expanded and took calculated risks, but the government’s actions — and its gridlock — continue to impact business leaders. “There’s a lot going on within our midmarket client base that’s allowed them to expand their businesses, but the vast majority of our clients aren’t taking big financial risks because of the continued uncertainties,” says Tullus Miller, partner in charge of the San Francisco office of the accounting and business consulting firm Moss Adams LLP. “I hear a number of businesses talk about these issues.” Smart Business spoke with Miller about the continuing concerns of companies, and how…
Alco Packaging was a troubled company when Melvin Berlin purchased it in 1988. At the time, he offered his son, Andrew, the chance to be part of the negotiating process and then serve as general counsel and director of marketing at the newly acquired company. Within a year, Andrew became the company’s president. A second-year associate at a Chicago law firm, Andrew had grown up soaking in every bit of knowledge he could from his father about how to succeed in the working world. “I didn’t know he was my mentor at the time, I just knew he was my…
Strategic succession is essential in every work group within an organization, not just CEOs. It touches all aspects of the business: family ownership responsibilities, boards, executive teams, management teams, work groups and even new employee on-boarding. Here are six key areas that make up a complete and successful succession at any level. The transfer of knowledge, skills and abilities The first step in succession is to systematically move competency to the next generation of owners, leaders, managers and workers. This is done through targeted education, new work experiences, exposure to positive and negative results, individual coaching and thoughtful mentoring. Keep…
No one wants workplace injuries. But accidents can happen, particularly when projects need to be finished right away. “That’s usually where the breakdown occurs. If you have to rush a project through and you’re potentially cutting corners for the sake of efficiency, that’s generally when injuries happen,” says Derek M. Hoch, president of Leverity Insurance Group. Smart Business spoke with Hoch about complying with Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards, which can result in a safer overall workplace.Do most manufacturers have workplace safety programs? Larger corporations usually do. Some smaller operations may not have any program in place, as…
When Scott Moorehead became the CEO of The Cellular Connection in 2008, he thought culture was just what people knew about art. “If you had culture, then you drank your coffee with your pinkie in the air,” he says. “I didn't know anything about culture. I didn't know what it meant. I didn't know if it was important or not.” But after being in the driver’s seat for a short time, and networking with some other companies, he realized that a company culture was a crucial matter. “Now I believe that no matter what your company sells, what it does,…
On his first day working at the United Way of Greater Cleveland Bill Kitson sat down for a 6 a.m. interview on WKYC-TV. “It was a great opportunity to say hello to the community first thing in the morning on my first day,” Kitson says. A 25-year United Way veteran, Kitson became the Cleveland chapter’s new president and CEO in June 2012. The Cleveland community was curious to hear how he planned to better the organization and its efforts in the community. “Cleveland is my seventh United Way community,” Kitson says. “I’m really thrilled with the level of support of…
PILLAR AWARD FOR COMMUNITY SERVICE Steven Marks and Harvey NelsonCo-CEOsMain Street Gourmetwww.mainstreetgourmet.com Baked goods have a way of brightening even the toughest of days, but for Steven Marks and Harvey Nelson, co-CEOs of Main Street Gourmet, a manufacturer of frozen bakery products, their mission over the years has been giving back to the community. In 2003, Marks founded an event that seems quite the opposite of what most people would connect with a bakery products company — a marathon. In 2003, Marks founded and funded the event, which brings both national attention to the Akron area as well as valuable…
Saturday, 23 November 2013 01:35

Eaton Corp. embraces its Northeast Ohio roots

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PILLAR AWARD FOR COMMUNITY SERVICE Alexander CutlerChairman and CEOEaton Corp.www.eaton.com Eaton Corp. takes a different approach to corporate giving than many companies — they let employees determine where the company donates a large share of its contributions, based on the needs in the communities and interests of local employees. These donations go to hundreds of community organizations every year. Eaton’s yearly contributions are based on a rolling average of its annual profits, so as the company grows, so do its contributions to the communities in which Eaton employees live and work. In 2012, that total exceeded $8.7 million. There is…
Sunday, 17 November 2013 16:40

The 2013 HR Awards

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Congratulations! ERC and the Cleveland Society for Human Resource Management are proud to host and honor HR leadership in our region. The 2013 class of HR Award winners are making a difference through sound, creative and proactive HR management. We are also pleased to recognize the leading faculty adviser and student participant for student SHRM chapters in our region who are developing the next generation of HR leaders. There was a significant increase in nominations for the 2013 HR Awards, which is a testament to the leadership shown in the HR community in this region. ERC and CSHRM are excited…
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) will have a profound effect on most employers that offer health plans in 2014. “Passing the law was the easy part. The process of issuing regulations and guidance between three separate federal agencies — Health and Human Services, Department of Labor and the IRS — is the difficult part. Add to the mix an occasional court ruling and you have the perfect recipe for confusion and the risk of misinformation,” says Chuck Whitford, client advisor at JRG Advisors, the management arm of ChamberChoice. Smart Business spoke with Whitford about points to consider…
The modern employee assistance program (EAP) is an employer-sponsored benefit designed to support the achievement of employer health and productivity goals. EAPs also have evolved to become a strategic partner to maximize the human capital of an organization. “An EAP’s main goal is to resolve problems before they interfere with work attendance or productivity. And, in performing that task, EAPs have a positive impact on a company’s bottom line,” says Sandra Caffo, a senior director at LifeSolutions, an affiliated company of UPMC WorkPartners. Smart Business spoke with Caffo about how EAPs work and their ROI.What is the potential payoff of…
Ask any number of business leaders if his or her employees are satisfied with their jobs and the word “engagement” will probably be in the answer. It’s not just a coincidence; it’s an accepted fact that employees, who by freedom of choice have a desire to work in the best interests of the organization, will drive positive outcomes for the company. While employee engagement is not a new concept, it has received considerable attention in the last 20 years as one of the top management techniques that can have a significant impact on a business. Here are seven tips from…
If you had a crystal ball in 2008 and were looking to work for a company that deals in the home improvement industry, you might have been advised to run for the hills. But Ben Davis had no crystal ball when he became president of N-Hance Wood Renewal, a franchise that renews kitchen cabinets and floors — and regardless of the challenges, found ways to grow the company. “I took the president position with N-Hance in 2008, which was not the best time to take over a home improvement business,” Davis says. “However, when the recession hit, it’s not as…
The size of the service sector, global competition, rising labor and technology costs and demanding customers all force companies to create excellent customer experiences. The challenge firms face today is knowing their customer’s definition of service quality and how to deliver that at a reasonable cost to create superior customer value. Customers use service encounters to assess the quality of a firm’s offering. So, how can we “wow” customers? It’s all about the service experience Seventy percent of customer defections are due to service problems. Improving service quality is like taking vitamins, eating healthy and exercising regularly. Although the results…
Mark Pentecost knew it was time to work on the substantial growth his company, It Works!, was experiencing — and stop putting out fires all the time. The health and wellness company, whose flagship product is called the Ultimate Body Applicator, grew from $29 million in revenue in 2010, to $45 million in 2011, to more than $200 million in 2012. There were growing pains along the way, but Pentecost, president and CEO, prefers to think of them as high-class problems. “I think you get caught in the weeds putting out fires all the time instead of being at 10,000…
“Planning for an exit can be a very emotional event in a business owner’s life. There are feelings of mortality — not only with one’s health, but also his or her role as the leader of a business. Businesses that achieve long-term success typically do a good job planning for succession,” says Steven E. Staugaitis, a director in Audit & Accounting at Kreischer Miller. “It makes sense that companies that effectively plan leadership transitions will do better because they can sustain positive momentum when a leader is properly groomed and allowed to rise within the organization,” he says. However, many…