SBN Staff

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, often called the Affordable Care Act represents some of the most far-reaching government overhaul of the U.S. healthcare system since 1965 when Medicare and Medicaid came into being. It will be phased in over time, but a number of changes have been delayed and won’t be in effect until 2015.

The act focuses on increasing the rate of health insurance coverage for American and reducing health care costs. Here’s what some area businesses have on their minds about health care reform as the time nears for the full impact of the ACA: 

Steve Wray
President and CEO
Cadient Group 

How is your company preparing for changes associated with health care reform? 

Because we are actively engaged in the healthcare vertical, Cadient Group has been diligently preparing for the changes of the Affordable Care Act

(ACA) for more than two years. We've studied options for plan design, surveyed employee preferences and utilization, and potential economic implication in order to evaluate our strategic options. It's given us a greater level of confidence in our preparedness for the inevitable changes currently taking place. 

Have to studied or instituted wellness programs to contain health care costs for your employees? 

While we have initiated a limited menu of wellness-related initiatives over the past two years, our 2014 benefits plan design includes a much more robust wellness component. Our focus for these programs is to raise employee awareness and engagement related to healthy behaviors, including exercise, nutrition and health condition management. 

What other things are you doing specifically to contain health care costs for your employees? 

A microcosm of our efforts to control employee health care costs has occurred: we have actively engaged our staff in the decisions around the design of our health care benefits for 2014. Because of this inclusive approach, Cadient Group employees recognize management's commitment to offering robust health benefits while attempting to keep employee contribution expenses under control. Fortunately, this participatory approach has allowed us to achieve those goals in face of increasing pressures perpetuated by health care reform. 

Do you foresee having employees pay a larger share of company-offered health care coverage? 

Health care benefits are a central component of the value of employment at Cadient Group. Admittedly, it is a constant balancing act to strive to provide a premium level of benefits, while sharing the cost of those benefits in an equitable manner with our employees. Because of our proactive strategic approach to benefit plan design, as well as valuable analysis provided by consultant partners, we have been successful in minimizing increases to employee contributions relative to the high-value nature of our benefits offering.

Dave Michelson
President and CEO
National Interstate

How is your company preparing for changes associated with health care reform? 

National Interstate typically reviews all our benefit programs on an annual basis. The enactment of health care reform has not materially changed that process; it has simply added another layer of compliance-related items that we must be mindful of.  Our primary goal of providing benefit programs to meet the needs of our employees and their families remains unchanged. 

Have to studied or instituted wellness programs to contain health care costs for your employees? 

Over the last several years, National Interstate has implemented a variety of wellness programs primarily in response to our employees including initiatives such as an onsite flu shot clinic, monthly newsletter, health fairs including screenings and wellness vendors, as well as lunch and learn speakers. There is no question employees have greater access to information and resources promoting healthy lifestyles than ever before. For an employer, it can often be difficult to quantify the results of individual employees reaching their health goal. It may simply mean that employee was able to attend a son or daughter’s soccer game. Those kinds of results are important in addition to focusing on healthcare cost containment. 

What other things are you doing specifically to contain health care costs for your employees? 

We believe educating employees about the plan they participate in is a key factor in containing health care costs. Most medical plans have discounts and incentives already built into the plan design, yet many times employees don’t fully utilize these features. We work in conjunction with our health care provider to disseminate information to employees so they can make informed health care decisions. 

Do you foresee having employees pay a larger share of company-offered health care coverage?

It is impossible to predict what the future holds in terms of health care costs. What we do know is if our employees collectively work as a team, we have the best chance of minimizing health care costs for our organization. While we make health care choices as individuals, the impact of those choices from a rate perspective is felt amongst the group participating in the plan.

Anthony McBride
Principal, human resources
Edward Jones

How is your company preparing for changes associated with health care reform? 

We have been making changes to eligibility and benefit levels as required by the regulations since the passage of the Affordable Care Act. We have made required modifications to our group medical plan to ensure that it meets the guidelines for 2014. We will continue to closely monitoring the regulations so that we are prepared to meet future requirements of the law.

Have you studied or instituted wellness programs to contain health care costs for your employees? 

We have had a wellness program in place for several years, and anticipate it will help contain cost increases in the future by motivating our plan members to be aware of and gradually improve their health over time.

Due to health care reform what other things are you doing specifically to contain health care costs for your employees? 

By 2009, we had moved to a consumer-driven health plan model. Our plan includes some pharmacy and medical treatment programs that help direct members to lower cost, higher quality sources of care. Soon we’ll introduce online cost/quality transparency tools to help raise awareness of the disparate cost spread that can exist even within an approved provider network. 

Do you foresee having employees pay a larger share of company-offered health care coverage? 

While we do not plan to shift a greater proportion of the cost to associates in 2014, the overall costs for health care continue to rise. In this regard, we have added a surcharge to cover spouses who have their own employer-based coverage available. We cannot speculate on what may happen in the future because the health care landscape is undergoing so much fluctuation.

 

Thursday, 02 January 2014 05:37

Weighing in on health care reform: Los Angeles

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, often called the Affordable Care Act represents some of the most far-reaching government overhaul of the U.S. healthcare system since 1965 when Medicare and Medicaid came into being. It will be phased in over time, but a number of changes have been delayed and won’t be in effect until 2015.

The act focuses on increasing the rate of health insurance coverage for American and reducing health care costs. Here’s what some area businesses have on their minds about health care reform as the time nears for the full impact of the ACA: 

Lisa Sachs
managing principal
Cumming Corp.

How is your company preparing for changes associated with health care reform?

Our vice president of human resources, Larry Berkel, has been working closely with our employee benefits consultant to make sure Cumming is prepared.

Cumming has always offered competitive health benefits to our team members and those eligible for health benefits are offered multiple options. Cumming has assessed its current benefit plans relative to what team members could obtain through the state or federal exchange and we clearly offer a better value than what is available through the exchange. 

Have you studied or instituted wellness programs to contain health care costs for your employees? 

We are in the process of evaluating various wellness programs and plan to institute a plan effective in Spring 2014, which is the start of our benefit year. The program we select will be administered by a third-party working closely with our human resources department to motivate and incentivize team members to lead healthy lifestyles including exercise, eating healthy and getting annual health assessments and physicals. We value our team members and want them around for a long time.  

What other things are you doing specifically to contain health care costs for your employees? 

We will be evaluating many options including moving to a self-insured environment, introducing a defined contribution plan (defined contribution health plans are consumer-oriented programs that allow employees to be more involved in the selection of benefits), or co-funding a health savings plan for team members. We will also be looking into becoming members of a private group affiliated with a private exchange. 

Do you foresee having employees pay a larger share of company-offered health care coverage?

 Not in the immediate future. It’s hard to predict beyond 2014, but our goal is to keep costs contained.

Jerry Azarkman
Co-founder and co-owner
Curacao 

How is your company preparing for changes associated with health care reform? 

Our human resources department has created written materials with the most frequently asked questions guiding our associates through the new information health care reform. These documents have been mailed directly to the associate’s home and attached to their payroll checks. In addition, a program of workshops are planned by HR at each of our locations to further answer questions and give as much information as possible to our associates. 

Have you studied or instituted wellness programs to contain health care costs for your employees? 

We are committed to the wellness of our associates. We have created a Zumba and Yoga program for associates at their lunch time. Associates that participate in this program receive a free healthy lunch every time they show up to practice.  This gives them the opportunity to exercise with a professional program that they would otherwise have to pay for in a gym, but at our company, we provide it free of charge. Each department has a safety representative, an associate that guides the rest in preventing accidents. 

What other things are you doing specifically to contain health care costs for your employees? 

At Curacao, associates receive paid sick days to use toward their recovery. All associates receive incentives for months with no injury in their departments. We also do safety training for earthquakes, safety evacuations and other programs that bring awareness of how to help each other and help people to feel more confident if something happens.

Do you foresee having employees pay a larger share of company-offered health care coverage?

While the company is profitable, we will continue providing a portion of the coverage.

Dave Michelson
President and CEO
National Interstate

How is your company preparing for changes associated with health care reform? 

National Interstate typically reviews all our benefit programs on an annual basis. The enactment of health care reform has not materially changed that process; it has simply added another layer of compliance-related items that we must be mindful of.  Our primary goal of providing benefit programs to meet the needs of our employees and their families remains unchanged. 

Have to studied or instituted wellness programs to contain health care costs for your employees? 

Over the last several years, National Interstate has implemented a variety of wellness programs primarily in response to our employees including initiatives such as an onsite flu shot clinic, monthly newsletter, health fairs including screenings and wellness vendors, as well as lunch and learn speakers. There is no question employees have greater access to information and resources promoting healthy lifestyles than ever before. For an employer, it can often be difficult to quantify the results of individual employees reaching their health goal. It may simply mean that employee was able to attend a son or daughter’s soccer game. Those kinds of results are important in addition to focusing on healthcare cost containment. 

What other things are you doing specifically to contain health care costs for your employees? 

We believe educating employees about the plan they participate in is a key factor in containing health care costs. Most medical plans have discounts and incentives already built into the plan design, yet many times employees don’t fully utilize these features. We work in conjunction with our health care provider to disseminate information to employees so they can make informed health care decisions. 

Do you foresee having employees pay a larger share of company-offered health care coverage?

It is impossible to predict what the future holds in terms of health care costs. What we do know is if our employees collectively work as a team, we have the best chance of minimizing health care costs for our organization. While we make health care choices as individuals, the impact of those choices from a rate perspective is felt amongst the group participating in the plan.

Anthony McBride
Principal, human resources
Edward Jones

How is your company preparing for changes associated with health care reform? 

We have been making changes to eligibility and benefit levels as required by the regulations since the passage of the Affordable Care Act. We have made required modifications to our group medical plan to ensure that it meets the guidelines for 2014. We will continue to closely monitoring the regulations so that we are prepared to meet future requirements of the law.

Have you studied or instituted wellness programs to contain health care costs for your employees? 

We have had a wellness program in place for several years, and anticipate it will help contain cost increases in the future by motivating our plan members to be aware of and gradually improve their health over time.

Due to health care reform what other things are you doing specifically to contain health care costs for your employees? 

By 2009, we had moved to a consumer-driven health plan model. Our plan includes some pharmacy and medical treatment programs that help direct members to lower cost, higher quality sources of care. Soon we’ll introduce online cost/quality transparency tools to help raise awareness of the disparate cost spread that can exist even within an approved provider network. 

Do you foresee having employees pay a larger share of company-offered health care coverage? 

While we do not plan to shift a greater proportion of the cost to associates in 2014, the overall costs for health care continue to rise. In this regard, we have added a surcharge to cover spouses who have their own employer-based coverage available. We cannot speculate on what may happen in the future because the health care landscape is undergoing so much fluctuation.

 

Laura Yaroma
Chair
YWCA Columbus
www.ywcacolumbus.org  

The power of teamwork

How Laura Yaroma keeps things moving during tough times at YWCA

Laura Yaroma keeps a busy schedule as senior manager at Honda of America Manufacturing Inc. and chair of the board of trustees for YWCA Columbus. But that only drives her to work harder to support the women and children of Central Ohio as well as other charitable causes that are close to her heart.

She has worked hard to create a strong partnership between Honda and the YWCA, often recruiting volunteers from the company to take part in community projects. In 2011, 70 Honda associates volunteered at the Griswold Building and the Family Center to help paint, organize and complete a landscaping project.

In March of that same year, Japan experienced a devastating earthquake that affected many companies, including Honda. It damaged a number of Honda and supplier facilities in Japan which resulted in production slowdowns.

Yaroma arranged for Honda to develop a number of alternative work options for associates on days when assembly lines could not operate, including signing up for local community service projects at the YWCA.

It hasn’t been easy to make things go at the YWCA as the economic times continue to be tough for many, including those in the nonprofit sector. The proof of this is the fact that the organization’s Family Center is seeing some of its highest number of homeless families. Yaroma has worked hard to ensure that despite the increase in numbers and the tightness of funds, these families will still receive the care they so urgently need.  

Mark A. Pizzi
Operations board chair, member of the Holding Company
The Buckeye Ranch
www.buckeyeranch.org
 

Singing his praises

Mark A. Pizzi helped The Buckeye Ranch expand coverage, meet its budget

The leadership of Mark A. Pizzi, president and COO at Nationwide Insurance, has been invaluable for The Buckeye Ranch, which offers an array of mental health treatments for children and their families. The ranch serves nearly 1,200 children and families every day who are struggling to overcome abuse, neglect, mental illness, suicidal tendencies, addictions and behavior disorders.

Pizzi leads the ranch’s operations board, which is responsible for the day-to-day work of the staff and programming. He’s also helped revise the ranch’s strategic plan, a crucial part of the organization’s growth and ability to provide greater services to children and families.

Pizzi is one of the leaders of the ranch’s capital campaign. During his time with the board, the ranch has benefited from continued financial growth, allowing it to meet the goals of a budget that has grown to more than $10 million. He has also served as the chair of the program and services committee, the largest division of operations for the ranch and the one responsible for revenue generation.

Staff members continue to sing the praises of Pizzi for empowering directors and leaders to become more innovative to increase service delivery. This has been manifested through two acquisitions that have allowed for more growth of services as well as the absorption of various foster care programs. This helps provide a continuum of care for those who use the ranch’s serves.

Through Pizzi’s efforts, the staff is more focused and guided to help accomplish the ranch’s significant goals. 

Thomas H. Welch
Chair, board of directors
LifeCare Alliance
www.lifecarealliance.org

Growing needed services

Thomas Welch leads the LifeCare Alliance board to expand its offerings

Thomas H. Welch was elected to the LifeCare Alliance Board of Directors in September 2001, and from the day he began his volunteer service, he took his commitment seriously.

He has a passion for serving, and a compassion for serving those in need. Welch, president and CEO of Grange Insurance, freely shares his time and talents as well as his corporate resources with LifeCare Alliance, a home and community-based nonprofit health organization providing programs such as Meals-on-Wheels and visiting nurses.

LifeCare Alliance ultimately benefits 15,000 clients who depend on the agency to provide basic life-sustaining services.

Welch’s leadership skills were apparent early on, making him an ideal future board chair. He moved through the board leadership ranks, making significant contributions along the way.

LifeCare Alliance is currently celebrating its 115th anniversary of providing health and nutrition services to those in the community who founder Catherine Nelson Black said, “Nobody pays any attention.”

Because of the agency’s leadership, there is no waiting list for services, which is unheard of today given the economic challenges facing many people.

Over the past 10 years, LifeCare Alliance has seen unprecedented growth under Welch’s leadership. Five mergers were completed with Madison County Meals-on-Wheels, Project OpenHand-Columbus, The Columbus Cancer Clinic, IMPACT Safety and Marion County Meals-on-Wheels.

Today, the agency is bigger, better and serving thousands of clients in need, while at the same time operating more effectively and efficiently. This would not have been possible without Welch’s leadership. ●

The Safelite AutoGlass Foundation, created in 2005 as the giving arm of the Safelite Group, supports organizations that promote the health and well-being of families, donating more than $5 million to that end.

Month-long national giving campaigns are held annually, during which employees’ host fundraising events. Employees also make one-time or ongoing electronic donations to a charity of their choice through Safelite’s partnership with the United Way of Central Ohio.

Safelite gives all employees two paid days off work to volunteer — one at an organization of their choice and one as a team or department — and they are encouraged to give of their free time as well.

Tom Feeney, Safelite AutoGlass’s president and CEO, has been the leader in creating a culture of giving at the company.

Central to his charitable activities is his involvement with Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio, of which he is president emeritus of the board of directors. The charity recently honored Feeney as the first Hall of Fame recipient for his 10-plus years of support.

During his time with the charity, Feeney helped bring the 2010 McDonald’s High School All American Basketball Games to Columbus, and Safelite AutoGlass donated $100,000 to the games. Under Feeney’s leadership, the organization raised  $1 million, which enabled them to pay off all debt on its facility.

Feeney also was instrumental in the successful $6 million campaign to fund the expansion of the Ronald McDonald House of Central Ohio, making it the largest in the world. 

How to reach: Safelite AutoGlass, (855) 405 0204 or www.safelite.com

Great companies, great employees, work for the greater good of Central Ohio

Medical Mutual, along with our co-founding Pillar Award partner Smart Business, welcomes you to the annual Pillar Awards.

We are honoring an outstanding group of companies and organizations of varying sizes.

While this year’s diverse group of honorees may be different in many ways, one thing that they all have in common is their commitment to strengthening the bond between the for-profit and nonprofit worlds.

It occurred to us many years ago that few things are more meaningful and important than investing time and resources in supporting our community, and we felt the need to honor companies and their employees who have gone above and beyond the call. While support and direction come from management, companies are only as great as their employees.

For that reason, we are quite proud to present the Medical Mutual SHARE Award. This unique award was founded to recognize companies whose employees best exemplify the ideals of Medical Mutual’s own employee SHARE Committee. SHARE stands for serve, help, aid, reach and educate and is the heart and soul of Medical Mutual’s charitable giving effort.

The SHARE committee, comprised of Medical Mutual employee volunteers, helps coordinate more than two dozen community events involving nearly half of the company’s 2,500 employees.

On behalf of Medical Mutual and Smart Business, we congratulate all our 2014 Pillar Award recipients. ●

Rick Chiricosta
Chairman, president and CEO
Medical Mutual
www.medmutual.com

 

SPECIAL AWARDS

Kent Clapp CEO Leadership Award
Tom Feeney
Safelite AutoGlass®

SHARE Award
Delta Energy Services

Nonprofit Board Executives of the Year Awards
Laura Yaroma
YWCA Columbus

Mark A. Pizzi, CPCU
The Buckeye Ranch

Thomas H. Welch
LifeCare Alliance

Rea & Associates Nonprofit Executive Directors of the Year

Elfi Di Bella
YWCA Columbus

Mimi Dane
Flying Horse Farms

D. Nicholos Rees
The Buckeye Ranch

Pillar Awards for Community Service

The Crane Group
Diamond Hill Investments
Fifth Third Bank
Franklin International
Molina Healthcare of Ohio Inc.
OhioHealth
Sequent
White Castle

2014 Pillar Award for Community Service, Columbus

Rea & Associates Executive Directors of the Year

Elfi Di Bella
President and CEO
YWCA Columbus
www.ywcacolumbu
s.org

Empowering women 

Elfi Di Bella’s leadership has made YWCA Columbus a national model

As head of one of Central Ohio’s largest organizations focused on eliminating racism and empowering women, Elfi Di Bella, president and CEO of YWCA Columbus, is passionate about helping women succeed.

Under her leadership, the YWCA Family Center — an emergency shelter for families — has continued to serve as a national model. Cities and organizations countrywide have reached out to Di Bella for guidance.

Since 2009, the Family Center has seen a 70 percent increase in homeless families seeking help. Di Bella has worked to improve the YWCA’s processes to care for these families while raising the necessary financial donations to cover the costs.

Di Bella has grown YWCA Columbus’ budget by more than $1 million, increasing fundraising efforts through events. She has also instituted giving circles and engaged constituents who haven’t been involved in decades.

Despite a rocky economy, the YWCA’s largest fundraiser of the year, Women of Achievement, has seen a record number of attendees. The 2013 event hosted nearly 2,100 attendees, raising more than $550,000. The organization’s second largest fundraiser, Woman to Woman luncheon, saw a 20 percent increase in attendance this year. Both examples illustrate Di Bella’s community following.

Di Bella has led the YWCA through a feasibility study for a capital campaign and application for $15 million in tax credits. YWCA Columbus has been given the No. 1 priority for 2014, an achievement for which Di Bella is largely responsible as she leads the organization into a new chapter. 

Mimi Dane
CEO
Flying Horse Farms
www.flyinghorsefarms.org

Serious fun for children

Mimi Dane hit the ground running to make Flying Horse Farms soar

Mimi Dane left a successful 21-year litigation career as a partner at Squire Sanders to become the CEO at Flying Horse Farms, a fledgling camp for children with serious medical conditions — and hasn’t looked back.

Within days of taking over as CEO, she led an effort to make Flying Horse Farms a full member of the SeriousFun Children’s Network, an international family of camps founded by the late actor and Ohio native Paul Newman. Flying Horse Farms is the only camp of its kind in the Midwest.

Dane recently recruited and hired a team of experts to fill many crucial roles at camp: medical director, nursing director, VP of advancement, camper recruiter and database manager. This additional staff has made it possible to expand camp programs, recruit more campers and deepen donor relationships.

Ensuring the safety and security of the campers, volunteers and staff are Dane’s top priorities. Flying Horse Farms is the first camp in the SeriousFun Children’s Network to implement a crisis communication plan.

Perhaps the biggest impact she has made on Flying Horse Farms is her commitment to offer camping experiences for more children with serious illnesses. In just three camp seasons, the total number of campers served has increased more than 40 percent.

Dane’s greatest strength as CEO is her servant leadership approach. Flying Horse Farms has a set of 10 core values, one of which is “All Crew. No Passengers.” which means employees should take on other duties as “unassigned.” Dane lives this core value every day to the fullest. ●

Stan Ross
Co-founder and executive director
Positive Influence Team
www.srpositive.org

For children and families

Nicholas Rees leads The Buckeye Ranch to new heights in programs and services

In four years as president and CEO of The Buckeye Ranch, D. Nicholas Rees has driven the programs and services offered by the nonprofit entity to a higher level, focusing on hope and healing for children and families.

These include a 24-by-7 residential program; day treatment schools, one at the Rosemont Center and the other at Cross Creek; foster care program; Protective Families Solutions Network; outpatient services; and community-based outreach services around Central Ohio. Expansion areas include the development of the Common Ground Program; increased presence in foster care around Ohio; acquisitions of MyPlace, a transitional living facility and the Rosemont facility, which now offers outreach with Somali families; Functional Family Therapy; and additional foster care homes.

The staff at The Buckeye Ranch says it will be exciting to see the next phase of success as Rees starts to revise the strategic plan and launch a rebranding to help increase knowledge and awareness of The Buckeye Ranch.

Rees has led The Buckeye Ranch from being a moderate-sized nonprofit to a nearly $50 million operation. He has helped streamline processes to improve how teams work together, thus producing more impact to afford more hope and healing to children and families. The staff has grown from just less than 400 to almost 500 members.

Rees helped The Buckeye Ranch meet its goal of a $5.2-million capital campaign for the physical needs of The Buckeye Ranch facilities. This was accomplished through outside donations as well as generous contributions from the staff. ● 

Medical Mutual 2014 Pillar Awards For Community Service, Cincinnati

Mike Sims
CFO
AdvancePierre Foods
www.advancepierre.com

 

Helping provide a meal

AdvancePierre Foods’ volunteers aid relief work in storm-damaged areas

Whether it’s donating thousands of pounds of food products to aid victims of storms or holding a company-wide volunteer day and donating burgers on National Burger Day, AdvancePierre Foods is committed to helping people in need.

After Superstorm Sandy ravaged the East Coast in 2012, AdvancePierre Foods donated 40,000 meals to help with relief efforts. Nearly 3,600 cases of food were delivered to Long Island’s Island Harvest Food Bank, which offered meals to people at local shelters and soup kitchens.

When tornados devastated Moore, Okla., last May, the company sprang into action to assist in relief efforts by donating more than 175,000 servings of food to feed relief workers and replenish food banks. The company also gave $10,000 to the American Red Cross to aid in the recovery work in addition to matching associates’ donations up to an additional $15,000.

Headquartered in Cincinnati, AdvancePierre Foods is a leading supplier of value-added protein and handheld convenience products, including packaged sandwiches, chicken and beef products and bakery items.

AdvancePierre Foods’ associates hope to make a meaningful impact in the community, and participate in events that allow them to touch the lives of those facing hunger while providing meals to thousands of children and families across the country. Those leading the philanthropic efforts include Paul Telenson, SVP, human resources; Mike Zelkind, SVP, operations; and Lisa Gallagher, SVP, corporate marketing and strategic accounts. ●

Andy Park
Director, Cincinnati practice lead
Centric Consulting
www.centricconsulting.com

Igniting passion

Centric Consulting encircles positive differences for the community

One of Centric Consulting’s core values that guides the company’s culture and priorities is “Ignite Passion for the Greater Good.” That includes a commitment to making a positive difference in the communities the company serves.

Centric is a founding partner of Flywheel Cincinnati along with the Leadership Council for Human Services Executives, the Executive Service Corps of Cincinnati and the Center for Social Entrepreneurship at Miami University.

Flywheel Social Enterprise Hub’s mission is to be the community’s thought leader in social enterprise and contribute to the launch and sustainability of social enterprise ventures in Greater Cincinnati, Northern Kentucky and Southeast Indiana.

In order to facilitate this, Flywheel helps nonprofits through a process of exploration, ideation, validation, design and launch. This process is known to build more meaningful and sustainable social enterprises. Flywheel also works alongside existing social enterprises to make them even stronger and more impactful in their communities.

Another Centric Consulting project is Adopt A Class. Centric Consulting employees are beginning their fourth year as pen pals to a fifth grade class at Winton Hills Academy. They meet each September with the students and establish pen pal relationships.

Volunteers exchange letters with students once a month. In 2012, Centric incorporated the “Character Quality of the Month” in each letter and continued this in 2013. There is a follow-up visit in December as well as a spring outing to take the students to a Reds game.

The projects are overseen by Steve Bernicke, director, Cincinnati; Jeff Lloyd, National partner, strategic growth & operations; and Andy Park, director, Cincinnati practice lead. ●

Julia Poston
Office manager
EY Cincinnati
www.ey.com

Volunteering where it counts

EY Cincinnati employees show they care by getting involved 

Volunteers at EY’s Cincinnati office have been active in several projects ranging from leadership development to helping people with disabilities on their journey to independence.

Camp Joy offers outdoor education and leadership development. Its vision and mission are to encourage participants to become better people in order to make changes in the community and create a better world by helping people grow and succeed through lifelong experience-based learning. 

The Freestore Foodbank’s vision is to lead the community to help end hunger and address its causes. EY volunteers assemble food boxes for projects such as the Senior Box program and assist with components of the food bank’s upcoming events.

Stepping Stones aids people with disabilities, helping them find their way to independence by improving their lives and enabling them to fully participate in their communities. For example, EY volunteers painted a playground and built “cubbies” for a pool house.

Gorman Farms’ mission is to support the connection between the food everyone eats, the life everyone lives and the health of the community. EY volunteers performed outdoor work there, such as weeding, planting and cultivating.

The Redwood Center guides children and adults with severe and multiple disabilities to achieve independence and reach their highest potential. EY volunteers performed maintenance work and painted, while some engaged in activities with the residents. ●


Jim Waters
CEO
The Hillman Group
www.hillmangroup.com

Here to help

The Hillman Group strives to make a difference 

Helping out in the community is a way of life for employees at The Hillman Group. Members of the company’s community involvement committee meet at the beginning of each year to lay out philanthropic plans for the new year and see what new ideas can be explored.

In 2013, the distributor added Autism Speaks of Cincinnati to the mix and volunteers participated in their first Walk Now for Autism Speaks event. The Hillman Group also partnered with Toys for Tots and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Cincinnati.

One of the highlights of 2013 was the assistance the company was able to provide to two young children who have had more than their share of challenges. Volunteers used their March Madness Make-A-Wish Foundation fundraiser to help a 3-year-old girl suffering from spinal muscular atrophy and a 6-year-old boy with leukemia. The girl’s family wanted to do a backyard makeover for their daughter and the boy, who loves trains, fulfilled his dream to see the Rocky Mountain Express.

Employees raised $15,700 and received a thank-you video from the boy’s family. The little girl’s family had a stone made with the Hillman logo that will forever be in her garden.

The commitment to helping begins at the top with Jim Waters, the company’s CEO. Despite a grueling travel schedule, Waters gets to as many volunteers events as he can and always brings one of his own children to demonstrate the value of helping others at an early age. ●

Mary Miller
CEO
JANCOA Janitorial Services Inc.
www.jancoa.com

Dream big

An empowering culture energizes employees to give at JANCOA 

It’s one thing to step out of your daily work routine and give a little of your time and talent to those who aren’t as fortunate. It becomes much more meaningful when you, as the employee, get to pick a cause to support that is close to your heart.

When employees come to work at JANCOA Janitorial Services, they have an opportunity to not only help causes that mean a lot to them, they get to chase their professional dreams as well. “The Dream Manager” is not only a program founded by Mary and Tony Miller that inspires employees to pursue their dreams, it’s a New York Times bestseller by Matthew Kelly. Through one-on-one coaching sessions and group classes, employees are encouraged to identify their dreams and take steps to achieve those dreams. JANCOA employees are each considered a valuable employee and the company wants them to recognize their value and remove the limits they place on themselves to become all they can be in their lives.

The Millers are huge supporters of the American Heart Association and are proud of their employees who formed a team of 28 walkers to participate in the 2012 Cincinnati Heart Walk. The JANCOA Dream Team completed the 5K walk, raising more than $1,200.

Mary, who is the company’s CEO, leads the way on fostering, empowering and fulfilling culture. She is very active throughout the community, including her role on the Go Red for Women Leadership Team for the American Heart Association. ●

Bob Coughlin
CEO
Paycor Inc.
www.paycor.com

Bringing the smiles

How Paycor associates make a difference in their world 

There are two guiding principles employees at Paycor Inc. follow: take care of each other and do the right thing. These principles guide both the way associates approach their work and the commitment they bring to Community Partners, an associate-led community service organization that has filled more than 4,900 volunteer opportunities since 2010.

Every community needs help and Community Partners helps to get things done and makes sure those who need support can get it.

In many cases, associates have a deep, personal connection to a cause and are able to lead their colleagues in programs that will help that cause. One of the most meaningful programs at Paycor is the Adopt A Class initiative at Oyler School. Oyler serves students from pre-kindergarten through high school in Lower Price Hill. It has been ranked one of the poorest schools in the nation.

Adopt A Class sponsors a pen pal program and special events for the kindergarten, first grade and disabilities classes such as parties for Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentine’s Day and other holidays. Paycor has a number of associates involved in the program, including seven team leaders and more than 100 pen pals.

Bev Brigner is the executive assistant to CEO Bob Coughlin and has been involved with Adopt A Class for 10 years. She has had the same child for the past five years.

“When he sees me and he jumps out of his seat with a big smile on his face and says, ‘Ms. Bev, come give me a hug!’ That makes my day!” Brigner says. ●

Bernie Stevens
President
PowerNet Global
www.powernetglobal.com

Time to give

How PowerNet Global encourages employees to donate

Any successful company understands that it needs to pay close attention to its finances if it’s going to achieve success. You have to know where your money is coming from and where it is going in order to have a thriving business.

The people at PowerNet Global understand that, but they value personal time spent giving back to the community just as much as the scrutiny they give to their financial health. Bernie Stevens, the company’s president, believes the best way to give back to the community is to offer employees the chance to volunteer their time for the betterment of those communities.

To that end, PowerNet Global provides an option called Charitable PTO, which allows employees the ability to enlist up to eight hours of their time per calendar year to any charity of their choice. The belief is that this time will be a valuable, positive and fulfilling experience for everyone involved.

The PowerNet Global Social Committee works hard preparing a variety of events throughout the year that provides employees with opportunities for fun and fellowship, building the camaraderie that makes them better employees and better givers in the community.

The company hosts yard sales in the spring and fall and invites employees to donate their own new or gently used items. Proceeds from this event go to Crayons to Computers.

PowerNet Global has also done a Biggest Loser Contest to help employees stay fit and raise money for the Fairfield Food Pantry. ●

Sue McPartlin
Managing partner, Cincinnati market
PwC
www.pwc.com

Valuable lessons

PwC helps kids understand the world of money 

It’s never too early to learn about financial responsibility and PwC volunteers work to help students in the Cincinnati Public Schools do just that. PwC dedicates extensive volunteer hours to the district each year through its participation in the Accounting for Kids program.

In 2013, volunteers from PwC organized Accounting for Kids Day at Mayerson Academy. The day began with a continental breakfast and an informational meeting before volunteers headed out to their assigned schools to begin the day’s planned games and activities. One of the games was created by the Ohio CPA Foundation and teaches students the fundamentals of responsibly managing their money.

Students each received a certificate to recognize their participation in the program and the day ended with a pizza party for the students and PwC volunteers.

Under the leadership of Sue McPartlin, managing partner for PwC’s Cincinnati market, the firm lives up to the tenets of its national community service philosophy: responsible business, diversity and inclusion, community engagement and environmental stewardship.

Under the umbrella of community engagement, PwC granted $160 million to advance youth education and financial literacy in the United States through the Earn Your Future initiative.

The PwC office in Cincinnati has built strong relationships with the city’s school district, as well as organizations such as Junior Achievement, Newport Primary School, United Way of Greater Cincinnati, St. Francis School and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Cincinnati.

Local staff members are encouraged to get involved and work toward the broader goal of developing and executing financial literacy initiatives for local youth. ●

Larry A. Sheakley
CEO
Sheakley
www.sheakley.com

Thanks from the heart

Employees at Sheakley celebrated 50 years by helping others

As Sheakley embarked on the celebration of its 50th anniversary, CEO Larry A. Sheakley felt it was critical that everyone understand how many people, both past and present, played a part in helping the company achieve success. This included employees, partners, clients, vendors, family and friends.

The decision was made that one of the best ways for team members at Sheakley to express their appreciation for 50 great years was to give back to the community. Each employee who agreed to take part in an act of volunteerism received a special commemorative 50th anniversary T-shirt.

Sheakley employees have volunteered services for nearly 70 organizations in Greater Cincinnati, including St. Joseph’s Orphanage. Donations helped this organization provide wonderful gifts for 44 children as well as hats, gloves, scarves and socks for those in need. The funds also provided food for 150 people at their Christmas party, a new big-screen TV and a $550 donation to cover holiday expenses.

Sheakley is also a big supporter of the Hoxworth Blood Drive, the Free Store Foodbank, Lighthouse Youth Organization and Habitat for Humanity. Larry has personally invested a lot of time and effort in his support of the University of Cincinnati by challenging local businesses to raise funds for the new Sheakley Athletic Center.

He also serves as co-chairman of the Cincinnati Opera Capital Campaign, which is dedicated to creating innovative programs and advancing opera as an art form. ●

 

Thursday, 19 December 2013 07:26

Weighing in on health care reform: Akron

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, often called the Affordable Care Act represents some of the most far-reaching government overhaul of the U.S. healthcare system since 1965 when Medicare and Medicaid came into being. It will be phased in over time, but a number of changes have been delayed and won’t be in effect until 2015.

The act focuses on increasing the rate of health insurance coverage for American and reducing health care costs. Here’s what some area businesses have on their minds about health care reform as the time nears for the full impact of the ACA: 

Steve Brubaker
chief of staff
InfoCision 

How is your company preparing for changes associated with health care reform? 

When you have more than 4,000 employees, proactive education is key. We didn’t take the postponement of the employer mandate deadline as an opportunity to sit back. Instead, we viewed it as an opportunity to continue to educate our employees and provide them with the information they need to make informed decisions. We are doing this though our internal communication channels such as our employee newsletter, employee intranet, email and personalized face-to-face meetings.

What are you doing specifically to contain health care costs for your employees? 

While many companies are cutting back on employee amenities, as a self-insured employer, we embrace them. For example, we recently implemented a free employer-based diabetes wellness program where we provide employees with free educational materials, monitors and test strips. We also subsidize the cost of flu shots through our onsite wellness clinics. Annually, we provide more than 1,000 flu shots to our employees and members of their family. 

Do you foresee having employees pay a larger share of company-offered health care coverage? 

We continue to comply with all of the ACA’s expanded coverage choices so we can provide our employees with effective and affordable options that meet their family’s individual needs. As a self-insured employer we will continue to offer and subsidize convenient and healthy options like our on-site wellness clinics and fitness facilities. These tools help to promote healthy decisions with no out-of-pocket expense to our employees. 

 

Bob Littman
CEO
SS&G 

How is your company preparing for changes associated with health care reform? 

SS&G started mapping out a strategy in 2010. We created contingency plans and developed communication pieces that could be altered as the law changed. By staying informed and up-to-date with key provisions and due dates, we have never had to work last minute or rush to make changes.

Have to studied or instituted wellness programs to contain health care costs for your employees?

SS&G began a wellness program in 2006 that encourages and motivates employees to maintain their overall health, which in turn helps reduce the firm’s health care costs. As part of our self-insured health plan, we offer wellness credits which allow an employee to reduce their deductible by $800. 

What other things are you doing specifically to contain health care costs for your employees? 

SS&G is committed to providing outstanding benefits to our employees and their families, and educating them on the benefits of a healthy lifestyle. As part of our wellness program, we offer gym reimbursement, discounted bootcamp fitness classes, on-site flu shots, free wellness seminars and competitive fitness challenges throughout the year. 

Do you foresee having employees pay a larger share of company-offered health care coverage? 

Based on the new fees and taxes associated with the Affordable Care Act, employee’s health insurance contributions will be slightly increased for the 2014 calendar year, but employees’ share  of the company-offered health insurance will not change. SS&G will continue to pay a large percent of employees’ premiums and is not making any plan modifications or increases to deductibles or co-pays.

Dave Michelson
President and CEO
National Interstate

How is your company preparing for changes associated with health care reform? 

National Interstate typically reviews all our benefit programs on an annual basis. The enactment of health care reform has not materially changed that process; it has simply added another layer of compliance-related items that we must be mindful of.  Our primary goal of providing benefit programs to meet the needs of our employees and their families remains unchanged. 

Have to studied or instituted wellness programs to contain health care costs for your employees? 

Over the last several years, National Interstate has implemented a variety of wellness programs primarily in response to our employees including initiatives such as an onsite flu shot clinic, monthly newsletter, health fairs including screenings and wellness vendors, as well as lunch and learn speakers. There is no question employees have greater access to information and resources promoting healthy lifestyles than ever before. For an employer, it can often be difficult to quantify the results of individual employees reaching their health goal. It may simply mean that employee was able to attend a son or daughter’s soccer game. Those kinds of results are important in addition to focusing on healthcare cost containment. 

What other things are you doing specifically to contain health care costs for your employees? 

We believe educating employees about the plan they participate in is a key factor in containing health care costs. Most medical plans have discounts and incentives already built into the plan design, yet many times employees don’t fully utilize these features. We work in conjunction with our health care provider to disseminate information to employees so they can make informed health care decisions. 

Do you foresee having employees pay a larger share of company-offered health care coverage?

It is impossible to predict what the future holds in terms of health care costs. What we do know is if our employees collectively work as a team, we have the best chance of minimizing health care costs for our organization. While we make health care choices as individuals, the impact of those choices from a rate perspective is felt amongst the group participating in the plan.

Anthony McBride
Principal, human resources
Edward Jones

How is your company preparing for changes associated with health care reform? 

We have been making changes to eligibility and benefit levels as required by the regulations since the passage of the Affordable Care Act. We have made required modifications to our group medical plan to ensure that it meets the guidelines for 2014. We will continue to closely monitoring the regulations so that we are prepared to meet future requirements of the law.

Have you studied or instituted wellness programs to contain health care costs for your employees? 

We have had a wellness program in place for several years, and anticipate it will help contain cost increases in the future by motivating our plan members to be aware of and gradually improve their health over time.

Due to health care reform what other things are you doing specifically to contain health care costs for your employees? 

By 2009, we had moved to a consumer-driven health plan model. Our plan includes some pharmacy and medical treatment programs that help direct members to lower cost, higher quality sources of care. Soon we’ll introduce online cost/quality transparency tools to help raise awareness of the disparate cost spread that can exist even within an approved provider network. 

Do you foresee having employees pay a larger share of company-offered health care coverage? 

While we do not plan to shift a greater proportion of the cost to associates in 2014, the overall costs for health care continue to rise. In this regard, we have added a surcharge to cover spouses who have their own employer-based coverage available. We cannot speculate on what may happen in the future because the health care landscape is undergoing so much fluctuation.

 

Friday, 20 December 2013 03:40

The 2013 Class of Power Players in Cleveland

The 2013 Class of Power Players in Cleveland

 

We would like to recognize The 2013 Class of Power Players in Cleveland. This yearlong luncheon series featured the most influential business leaders in the region sharing their perspective on why Cleveland is such a great place to live, work and visit.

 

Jim Bennett
senior vice president
Merchandise Mart Properties Inc.

Bennett joined Merchandise Mart Properties Inc. in 2012 after a 40 year career that included 30 years with McKinsey & Co., three years as senior executive vice president with KeyCorp, and a decade serving as a senior management consultant for major corporations and as a director and CEO for several early stage Internet businesses.

He serves as senior vice president at Merchandise Mart Properties Inc., a leading owner and operator of integrated showroom, office building and trade show facilities that was the founding partner for Cleveland’s Global Center for Health Innovation.

Bennett is also director and client developer at Within3, an Internet firm he helped launch in 2005, and managing director of the Bennett Group LLC, a senior management consulting firm.

 

Joe Cimperman
councilman
C
leveland City Council

Cimperman is currently serving his seventh term on Cleveland City Council, representing Ward 3. One of the most diverse wards in Cleveland, Ward 3 includes the neighborhoods of St. Clair-Superior, Tremont, Ohio City, Duck Island, Old Brooklyn, Brooklyn Centre, the Flats and downtown. Cimperman is chair of the health and human services committee and is a member of the legislation, public parks, property, recreation, and community and economic development committees on council. Since being elected in 1997, he has focused his efforts on community revitalization. He also spearheaded Cleveland’s nationally recognized urban agriculture scene.

 

 

Terry Davis
president and CEO
Our Lady of the Wayside

Davis grew up in Cleveland and attended Cleveland Public Schools. Professionally, he has held multiple positions working with children and adults with developmental disabilities including Medicaid consultant, youth counselor, behavior specialist, habilitation manager and director, and group home administrator. Davis was first introduced to Our Lady of the Wayside in 1991 as a consultant to assist the agency in obtaining Medicaid certification and took on the role of president and CEO in 1993. In 1991, the agency consisted of three homes and 87 residents. Today, the agency operates 52 homes throughout Northeast Ohio and provides support and service to nearly 500 consumers.

 

 

Adam Fishman
principal
Fairmount Properties 

Adam Fishman has more than 27 years of experience in the commercial real estate industry. Prior to joining Fairmount Properties LLC, he served as market leader for Trammell Crow Co.’s Cleveland and Columbus operations. He then served as president and managing partner of Cleveland Real Estate Partners, an international corporate real estate consulting and advisory firm.

In 1999, Fishman negotiated the sale of Cleveland Real Estate Partners to Deloitte & Touche, and joined Deloitte & Touche as a partner in the management solutions and services group, providing national real estate consultative services.

Fishman joined Fairmount as co-principal just prior to the firm’s first anniversary and oversees the firm’s financial, operational, construction, entitlement and planning activities.

 

 

Sam McNulty
entrepreneur and owner
Market Garden Brewery & Distillery/Nano Brew/Bar Cento/Speakeasy/bier markt

McNulty has created 160 jobs and a great place for beer lovers of all kinds to congregate in Ohio City. It began with McNulty’s Bier Markt in 2005, Ohio’s only Belgian beer bar serving over 100 Belgian and American craft beers along with more than 30 rotating drafts. Bar Cento opened in 2007 and offers a creative European-inspired menu focused on regional and sustainable ingredients from local farms and purveyors. Then it was the prohibition-era themed Speakeasy in 2009, Market Garden Brewery & Distillery in 2011 and Nano Brew Cleveland in 2012. Located next to the West Side Market, it all meshes to create Cleveland’s first American Beer Garden.

 

 

Patricia Nobili
president and CEO
Achievement Centers for Children 

Nobili became president and CEO of the Achievement Centers for Children in 1994. She is responsible for planning and overseeing the administration of the fiscal and programmatic components of the organization’s three facilities.

The Achievement Centers for Children serves more than 3,900 children with disabilities and their families every year. Over the past 15 years, the agency has experienced unprecedented growth, more than quadrupling in size.

This growth has led to the organization building a new, larger, state-of-the-art facility in Highland Hills. It also moved to a larger renovated facility in Westlake, and made improvements to Camp Cheerful, located in Strongsville.

Achievement Centers for Children helps children and their families through therapy, education, family support, recreation and the River Rock Adult Day Program.

 

Chris Ronayne
president
University Circle Inc.

Ronayne was named president of University Circle Inc. in 2005. University Circle Inc. is a nonprofit community service corporation responsible for the development, service and advocacy of University Circle as a world-class center of innovation in healthcare, education, arts and culture, and a premier urban district.

As University Circle Inc.'s seventh president, Ronayne developed a dynamic and aggressive agenda to leverage the institutional assets of University Circle’s anchor, “Eds, Meds and Arts” organizations, and transformed it into a vibrant mixed-use district. 

Ronayne and his staff partner with more than 40 member institutions to oversee the growth and direction of Ohio’s fastest growing employment district, with UCI providing community planning, development, education, marketing, police and other shared services. 

Before joining University Circle Inc., Ronayne served the City of Cleveland as the planning director, chief development officer and chief of staff.

 

Kevin Schmotzer
executive for small business development
C
ity of Cleveland

Schmotzer has been employed in the city’s department of economic development since 1998. He works with government agencies and local banks to provide financial assistance for commercial, retail, industrial and technology businesses to help them remain in or relocate to Cleveland. In his current role, Schmotzer focuses specifically on the growth and expansion of small businesses within the city. Prior to working for Cleveland, he worked for the City of Avon Lake in the planning department where he helped secure and administer an $820,000 grant for the design of a $1.1 million bicycle/pedestrian trail system throughout the city.

 

Stephen and Pam Coleman finally realized their new company was going to be taken seriously one day in 2009, six months after they had unfairly lost a bid for a critical contract.

The Colemans had submitted a proposal for a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers job they felt perfectly suited for. Their company, Northstar Contracting, met important criteria as a veteran-owned business and could demonstrate its competency to do the work.

But instead, the job was granted to another firm.

“We were the second bidder on the contract,” Pam says. “We protested the award, because the first bidder was not a legitimate veteran-owned company. It took about six months, but we were eventually awarded the project.”

Why was that moment so important?

“We fought to get a project we knew we were entitled to, and we got it after the Corps investigated and found we were right,” Pam says. “It was a time when we had just finished a big project, and we really needed the work.”

Since then, the trajectory for the Cleveland-based Northstar has been steadily upward. Founded in 2006 — which the Colemans describe as a leap of faith at the beginning of a recession — the company has continued to grow.

“I never doubted that Northstar would be successful,” says Stephen. “I just questioned how fast we would realize success.” 

Doubling the growth

“If you look at our numbers the first year, they doubled the second year, and the third year we almost doubled,” says Pam, who serves as Northstar’s director of office management and human resources. “So it’s been steady growth, and it’s a lot of repeat customers.”

The company, which employs an average of 25 to 30 team members, may seem like an unlikely pairing with the Colemans’ previous careers. Stephen, the company’s president, spent more than 20 years in the U.S. Navy — including four years as a Navy SEAL and several years at the Pentagon, working for the Department of Defense Acquisition, Technology and Logistics. Pam spent 20 years in the Air Force, the last 10 of those in government contracting.

After his 2003 retirement Stephen spent three years working in Washington, D.C., for private industries. But with three children, the Colemans decided Washington was not the best place to raise a family. So after Pam’s retirement in 2006, they moved to Cleveland, her hometown.

The Colemans had long discussed starting a business after their retirement, and their firsthand knowledge of government contracts convinced them that money was available for the right company.  

The result was Northstar, a general contractor with a specialty concrete team. Split about 50-50 between the two sides of the business, Northstar claims a place as one of the few American companies doing pre-cast engineered concrete work for structures such as sewer shafts.

“We have people from Europe, Japan and Canada coming to Northstar for this work,” Stephen says. 

Using family as a resource

While contracting may not have been in the Coleman’s background, it certainly was in the family tree. And that’s one place they turned.

“My father and brother were in housing construction,” Pam says. “My brother (Phil Hathcock, who now manages Northstar’s concrete team) had worked for one of the few companies in the specialty concrete field. He joined us and brought a couple of employees with him.”

 “We surrounded ourselves with people who knew general construction,” Stephen says. “We did lots of research.”

As aging underground infrastructures such as tunnels and sewers need to be replaced, companies like Northstar have a leg up on the competition. But the Colemans say they want to grow both sides of the business. Their most prominent contracts testify to a balanced portfolio of work.

For example, the company is currently a subcontractor on the Euclid Creek Tunnel in Cleveland, a project set for completion in 2014. The tunnel is part of the $3 billion plan by the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District to meet federal Clean Water Act requirements during the next 25 years.

Northstar is the general contractor for a new $18 million flagship building for the NASA Glenn Research Center. The new 97,000-square-foot structure is NASA Glenn’s first new building in 26 years and the first step in consolidating its campus.

But for visibility purposes, the crown jewel in Northstar’s collection may be its work for the 350,000-square-foot National Museum of African American History and Culture, which is set to open in 2015 in Washington, D.C.

Devoted exclusively to the documentation of African-American life, art, history and culture, the museum will prominently feature a bronze and glass-panel façade known as the Corona. Northstar is constructing and installing the Corona, which will hang from the top of the museum with no intermediate support. The project requires Northstar to produce more than 3,000 panels, Stephen says.

“It’s a huge project, it’s part of history and we’re very proud to be a part of it,” Pam says.

Despite the company’s success, Northstar has faced its share of challenges.

“The biggest challenge we faced was the banks,” Pam says. “We understood that in the beginning, when you’re trying to get a line of credit and don’t have any experience, the banks don’t want to lend. But after awhile you do have a little bit of history.

“They helped us,” she says of Northstar’s initial banking partner, “but every step of the way we felt they were not really working for us.” 

Finding a banking partner

Finally, Northstar enlisted the help of Huntington National Bank, which three years ago made a public commitment to lend $4 billion to small businesses and create innovative ways to help small business owners succeed.

“They had a borrowing need that their current bank wasn’t able to fill,” recalls Jeffrey Standen, Huntington’s senior vice president and business banking market manager. “When we spent some time with them and began to understand their business, we were able to provide a solution with the help of our SBA team. In fact, we acquired all their business and personal banking.”

Pam says that relationship has made a difference.

“They are helping us grow the business,” she says, “and that’s a good thing.”

Other vital Northstar partners include the SBA office in Cleveland and SCORE, which provides free and confidential small business advice for entrepreneurs.

“Because we have so many certifications — we’re a minority business, we’re a veteran business, we’re a smaller business — we always try to take advantage of all the resources out there,” she explains. “We go to a lot of matchmaking events hosted by the City of Cleveland or the Veterans Administration or the Sewer District.”

Those two things, the Colemans say — leveraging relationships and available resources — are the keys for any new business starting out.

“Surround yourself with experienced people and establish a relationship with mentors,” Stephen advises.

Pam agrees, adding that relationships are everything.

“Talk to people, tell them what you’re doing. And when you’re building a relationship, don’t always try to see what’s in it for you. Ask how you can help each other.”

How to reach: Northstar Contracting, (440) 250-8606 or www.ohionorthstar.com