SBN Staff

Monday, 22 July 2002 09:55

Newsclips

Style points

“BrainStyles: Change your life without changing who you are,” is a new book by Marlane Miller, who urges you to stop trying to change and start becoming the person you really are.

To improve yourself, you have to be more of yourself, says Miller. Each of us has a natural brainstyle wired into our genes. Your brainstyle is your particular set of gifts, the essence of who you are. Neurological research has shown that the left and right sides of the brain are accessed at different speeds, and in varying sequences, in different people. This is critically important when making decisions, so important that relationships and businesses pivot around those judgments. By understanding how your brainstyle mandates your decisions, you can deliver your best in any relationship.


Feel the burn

Is doing sit-ups the best way to lose my belly?

Abdominal exercises are great for strengthening and firming up the abdominal muscles, but they do little to erase the fat that accumulates at the belly. To lose the fat, you literally have to burn it off by using it for energy. You can do that by engaging in regular aerobic (cardiovascular) exercise, reducing your caloric intake or through a combination of the two. Your body will then draw from the fat stores at your belly, using them for energy. Thus, your belly size will be reduced, according to www.drkoop.com.


Saw those teeth

When flossing, use a sawing motion and gently pull the floss between your teeth. Always remember to rinse after flossing, according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research.


Drink up

Water makes up most of your body composition (an average 150-pound person contains 42 quarts of water); it’s the medium in which chemical reactions occur in your body; it’s a lubricant for muscles and joints; and it serves as a vehicle to rid your body of unwanted metabolites and wastes through urine.

You need about 1 milliliter of water for every calorie you consume. Translated to cups, you require about 8 cups (2 quarts) if you consume 2,000 calories a day. This figure rises if you exercise heavily, since you’ll lose water through sweat. Depending upon your sweat rate, you lose anywhere from 1 to 2 quarts of sweat an hour, especially in warm weather.

Not counting beer, other alcoholic beverages and coffee and sodas with caffeine, all of which boost urine production and fluid loss, you should be reaching for 2 to 4 quarts of water and other fluids throughout the day. Your urine color, which serves as a good gauge of your hydration status, should be pale yellow. Dark urine suggests you are not drinking enough fluid.

Source: www.onhealth.com


Drink to your health

You don’t have to drink when others are, and you do not have to accept an offered drink. Practice saying “no” politely, says the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.


The swarm

Keep your family safe from stinging insects. Avoid the sweet smells bugs are attracted to, such as perfumes and hair sprays, open food and drink, and garbage areas. Advice from American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.


I told you so

To prevent future attacks of gout, be sure to follow the medication guidelines your doctor prescribes, says the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases.


What’s up, doc?

Learn to talk to your doctor. Probably the biggest complaint most people have about their health care is their relationship with their doctor: Office visits are too short and the physician is in such a rush to get on to the next patient that it’s easy to forget to ask important follow-up questions.

The financial pressures on doctors aren’t going to go away, so the only way to get more out of the encounter is to be firm in pressing your physician for clear answers to clear questions. Make a written list of questions ahead of time if that helps, and don’t be afraid to call back later if you think of pertinent questions once you get home.

Keep track of your bills. This is especially important if you have traditional insurance that requires you to pay a portion of the bill. When you get a bill from the doctor or a statement from the insurance company, look over it carefully to see exactly what it says. Often, the first bill from the doctor’s office won’t seek payment from you, but will tell you how much your insurance company is being billed. And once you get the insurer’s statement, carefully go over the codes attached to any denials so you understand why a particular payment was rejected. Billing mistakes are common, and it’s up to you to catch them.

Source: www.onhealth.com


A little yuck goes a long way

When shopping for tonight’s dinner, stop by the supermarket’s salad bar. Add garbanzo beans and beets for extra crunch and color. Some advice from The National Cancer Institute.


Give me drugs, any drugs

According to the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, Americans spent $17 billion on nonprescription medications in 1997. And over the past 15 years or so, a CHPA reports shows, Americans have become less inclined to tough it out and are quicker to make a run to the drugstore to get immediate relief from those annoying symptoms.

Most doctors say if symptoms persist beyond seven to 10 days, despite taking over-the-counter medication, patients should go in for a visit, as many viral and bacterial infections tend to clear up after about a week.


Start running

This quiz, adapted from the American College of Sports Medicine, will help you identify the health risks associated with beginning to exercise.

  • Has your doctor ever told you that you have a heart condition?

  • Do you ever have pains in your heart or chest?

  • Do you frequently lose your balance, feel faint or have spells of severe dizziness?

  • Has a doctor ever said your blood pressure was too high?

  • Do you have a bone or joint problem that could be made worse by a change in your physical activity?

  • Are you taking any prescription medications, such as those for heart problems, high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes?

  • Do you know of any other reason why you should not engage in physical activity?

  • If you’re female, are you pregnant?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, The American College of Sports Medicine suggests you see a physician before beginning a program — and that includes any fitness appraisals or pre-exercise tests typically offered at fitness centers. If you honestly answered “no” to all of the questions, you can be reasonably sure that you can safely start becoming more active, if you do so gradually. To really be sure, check with your physician before beginning any exercise program.


Instant body

What is the quickest way to tone up?

The best way to tone your body is to perform resistance/weight training exercises on a regular basis. Such exercises make your muscles firmer, stronger and more defined — which gives you that “toned” look. Of course, if the muscles are hidden under a layer of excess fat, you’ll need to combine your weight training with aerobic exercise and a healthy diet.

Why do I seem to gain weight around my middle and nowhere else?

When you gain weight in the form of excess body fat, it accumulates in certain locations based on gender and heredity. Males have a tendency to accumulate the fat around the belly because that is where their center of gravity is. Females tend to gain more fat in the hips, t highs and buttocks for reproductive purposes.

Source: www.drkoop.com


There’s a microbe in my soup

Food Handling Safety Tips

  • Be aware that raw or improperly cooked meat and poultry can harbor numerous types of food-borne illnesses. Always treat meat and poultry as if it were contaminated. There is no reliable way to tell just by looking at it.

  • Avoid cross-contamination. From the supermarket until they are ready to serve, keep meat and poultry separate from other food. This includes in the grocery bags, fridge and coolers. Take special care to ensure that meat juices do not drip onto prepared or raw foods, such as salads.

  • Use one cutting board or preparation area for meat and poultry and a separate one for other foods. Cross-contamination frequently occurs when meat and other foods are prepared on the same cutting board or whatever surface is available. If you do not have separate preparation areas, wash the one you are using in hot, soapy water after preparing the meat. Do the same with knives, utensils, plates or anything that comes in contact with the meat.

  • Thaw meat and poultry completely before cooking.

  • Cook meat and poultry thoroughly, using a meat thermometer.

  • Wash your hands often.

  • Follow the general guideline that hot foods should be kept hot (after cooking) and cold foods cold. This holds true for transportation to the picnic as well as during the event itself.

  • If you are a guest, get to the picnic early and eat right away. Pay attention to the way the food is handled and prepared. Unless it is on a burner or ice, do not eat anything that has been sitting out for more than two hours — one hour when it is really hot, above 90 degrees.

  • Food that has been sitting out for longer than one or two hours, depending on the weather, should be thrown away, not taken home as leftovers.

For more information, call the USDA’s toll-free Meat and Poultry Hotline at (800) 535-4555. Specialists are available to answer questions between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. eastern time, Monday through Friday. At any time, you can listen to recorded messages with answers to frequently asked questions about food preparation safety.


Stop jet lag

You may not be able to prevent jet lag completely, but you can certainly take preventive measures to reduce its severity.

  • Drink, drink, drink. But make it water; go easy on the booze. Drink water before, during and after the flight. Carry a bottle of water with you on board and sip constantly. The air in the cabin is extremely dry, and it is easy to become dehydrated. Dehydration, in turn, can worsen the symptoms of jet lag.

  • Start out well-rested. Get a good night’s sleep before you fly. Pack early, so that you are not up until 3 a.m. the night before your trip.

  • Set your watch ahead. Start “thinking” in the time zone of your destination. Plan how you will adjust your eating and sleeping schedules to the local time as quickly as possible.

  • Get some daylight exposure. Spend half an hour or so outside in the daylight soon after arrival or the next morning if you arrive at night. This lets your body clock adjust to the different position of the sun.

  • Pace yourself. Do not climb off the plane and onto the tour bus. Spend some time just resting and relaxing. The longer the flight, the more time you should allow.

Source: OnHealth at www.onhealth.com


Caffeine in my blood

Caffeine is absorbed very quickly from the gastrointestinal tract and then distributed in the various body tissues. After absorption, it passes into the central nervous system.

Caffeine sensitivity” refers to the amount of caffeine that will produce negative side effects. This amount will vary from person to person. Caffeine does not accumulate in the bloodstream nor is it stored in the body. It is excreted in the urine many hours after it has been consumed. Caffeine will

not reduce the effects of alcohol, although many people still believe a cup of coffee will “sober up” an intoxicated person.

Caffeine may be used as a treatment for migraine headaches and in relieving, for a short time, fatigue or drowsiness. There is no human requirement for caffeine in the diet. Moderate caffeine intake, however, is not associated with any health risk. Three 8-ounce cups of coffee (250 milligrams of caffeine) per day is considered an average or moderate amount of caffeine. Ten 8-ounce cups of coffee per day is considered excessive intake of caffeine.

Source: www.drkoop.com


That’s a stretch

Should I stretch before or after I do aerobic exercise?

First of all, stretching “cold” muscles is potentially harmful and less effective than stretching when the muscles are properly warmed up. Theoretically, you should perform some sort of aerobic activity lightly for five minutes to warm up, then stretch, then resume your aerobic activity, and stretch again at the end, according to www.drkoop.com. The problem is that most people don’t.

Regular stretching is probably the most neglected area of fitness. Perform all your stretches at the end of the exercise session. It is more likely you will stretch once, rather than twice in the same workout. Aerobic exercise, such as walking and jogging, slightly stresses the muscles and tendons, making them tighter. Therefore, it’s best to stretch after a workout to help relax the exercised muscles. Muscles that are warmed up can be stretched safely and effectively.

Sunday, 21 July 2002 20:00

Newsclips

The new PR

Forget company Web sites and registering key words with search engines — the popularity of the Internet allows businesses to make new gains in getting their names noticed online. Ace Hardware last year released information on preparing a home for winter weather that appeared in more than 100 newspapers with a combined circulation of 1.2 million. The company did it by submitting the information to the Article Resource Association Web site — www.aracopy.com. — a service that caters to newspaper and magazine editors by posting news articles with photos and graphics that can be downloaded.

From party favors to profits Can a golf shirt and a hand exerciser really motivate a sales force?

The answer was an overwhelming yes for a pharmaceutical firm that launched a “Get Pumped” campaign to motivate its staff. Each member was given a Power Performance Pack that contained the golf shirt and exerciser. The program helped produce a 60 percent sales increase of the promoted product.

Meanwhile, Geico Direct Auto Insurance launched a “Mission Possible” campaign complete with cardboard briefcases, cellular-phone shaped water bottles and candy-filled bombs that resulted in a 43 percent sales increase over the same period the previous year.

The Texas-based Promotional Products Association International urges companies take notice and develop their own plan to motivate sales people. It cautions employers to set a concise goal, create a program that reflects employees’ tastes and keep an eye on the bottom line.

 

 

On the other hand Alexander Haim says it’s not about handing out pens, caps and T-shirts, it’s about making your employees feel good enough to be motivated. Haim, who is pushing his new book “Motivating & Rewarding Employees: New and Better Ways to Inspire Your People,” says promotional campaigns that try to excite workers by handing out trinkets are hogwash. Instead, he says management is 90 percent emotional skill and managers have to make their employees feel good to motivate them. That means focusing on their greatest strengths, making them feel optimistic and exuding a belief they can solve any problem and accomplish their goals. For more information about the book, visit www.adamsonline.com.

 

 

Decisions, decisions

Giving employees a stake in company decisions has its problems, most notably the creation of employees who believe they should be consulted at every turn. But a new book promises to educate leaders of businesses both big and small how to avoid this trap and develop one of the most important and frequently neglected leadership skills in the business world — decision making.

Mary Gelinas and Roger James, the authors of “Collaborative Change: Improving Organizational Performance,” assert good decision makers are created rather than born, and provide tips on how to hone a variety of decision-making styles. The authors emphasize that not only is the quality of the decision critical, but also the fact that everyone in the organization understands the process through which it was made. For more information, go to www.josseybass.com.

 

Solving the office supply blues

Never be caught low on paper clips or file folders ever again. Staples.com. is touting a new service that takes the hassle out of ordering office equipment by allowing business owners to create their own online “personal store” in less than five minutes. When pens and paper clips start running low, customers go to the Web site, access their account and submit their ready-made list to restock the shelves.

Staples.Com is hoping it can edge out its online competitors by gearing the service toward small business owners who don’t have time to waste running out to the store and very often don’t have office managers to restock supplies. However, they’re still fighting one obstacle that will be tough to overcome — delivery time.

 

 

Cyberlaw

In a recent nationwide survey, 85 percent of attorneys polled said their firm has a Web site. That is nearly double the 47 percent that reported an Internet presence just two years ago. More than 200 attorneys among the nation’s 1,200 largest law firms were polled by the Affiliates, a staffing service specializing in project attorneys and legal support personnel. That leaves us wondering just one thing — do the sites actually generate clients?

 

 

Optical opportunities

Spectera Inc., a national managed vision care company, has opened eight stores in Cleveland and Akron during the past month. The Baltimore company’s dip into the Northeast Ohio market was spurred by a need to serve 200,000 members of Kaiser Permanente of Ohio and 27,000 members of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union. The new stores will create 50 full-time jobs.

 

 

Roughing it with style

Premier Parks Inc., the regional theme park company that owns Geauga Lake Amusement Park, has broadened its horizons. The company purchased the 146-room Aurora Woodlands Hotel and renamed it Lodge on the Lake.

The lodge is decorated to resemble a rustic wilderness lodge, but guests need not be worried about primitive accommodations. The hotel will offer Internet access from each room and free shuttle service to Geauga Lake and Sea World. Exclusive rooms designed to accommodate a family of six to eight have been created, offering queen-size beds, a refreshment center and sitting parlor. The Woodlands Bar and Grille will be located in the hotel lobby, and new glass enclosed exterior entrances are being built.

The renovation bill for all this rustic charm? A hefty $2 million. And we wonder why the price of amusement park admission keeps going up.

 

 

Public records meet the information age

The traditional slow search for public records may be on the brink of extinction. New software developed by a Washington company allows lawyers, bankers and leasing managers to escape public records purgatory and search for public business documents from their desktop computer. The software allows clients to search for Uniform Commercial Code filings or federal tax liens through Online Data Searches’ up-to-date databases. The company database contains documents filed throughout the West, but will eventually include all 50 states. For more information, visit www.onlineucc.com.

 

Good work doesn’t speak for itself

A healthy dose of self-promotion is more effective than quiet competence, according to two behavioral scientists. In a new book, George W. Dudley and Shannon L. Goodson say some of the best sales people, highest paid professors and most powerful executives did not attain their positions by being the most competent, but rather through purposeful self-promotion. “The Psychology of Sales Call Reluctance: Earning What You’re Worth in Sales,” was written after 25 years of researching what makes people successful.

Dudley and Goodson describe a fear of self-promotion that manifests itself into a common phenomenon they term “call reluctance,” which limits sales people from achieving their full career potential. They offer practical exercises and techniques to help people escape these self-limiting patterns. For more information, visit www.call-reluctance.com.

 

Second choices

One in five chief information officers say they would be busy tracing budgets and capital expenditures if they hadn’t opted for a career in technology, according to a recent survey. Twenty-one percent of those questioned say they would have pursued accounting and finance; 15 percent say teaching would have been a secondary career choice. Engineering finished third with 11 percent, medicine snared 9 percent and business administration, 8 percent. Entertainment, law and marketing each received 5 percent, while scientific research finished last with 4 percent.

The survey was developed by RHI consulting, a specialized consulting firm that provides information technology professionals on a project basis. An independent research firm surveyed 1,400 CIOs from a random sample of U.S. companies with more than 100 employees.

 

 

Just say Yahoo!

Although their salary and bonuses may pale in comparison to top-tier pay in traditional corporate America, executives of Internet-related enterprises are walking away with a larger share of stock options than service and industrial companies, according to a study by William M. Mercer Inc.

The analysis, based on public information released between 1996 and 1999 by 32 publicly traded Internet-related companies, found that after going public, the companies had a median of 15.7 percent of their total common shares set aside for stock-based competition, including stock options and restricted stock grants. In comparison, 350 large service and industrial companies reserved median shares of around 10.7 percent.

However, the study showed the Internet companies had a median of 3.7 percent of those stocks left for future incentive grants, while the service and industry companies had around 5.3 percent still available. Meanwhile, the median salary for Internet CEOs was around $200,000, while that of all other Internet executives is $133,563. The median annual bonus among the latter executives was $11,953.

 

 

401(k) 101

Employers’ efforts to educate their workers about 401(k) plans have spurred increased contributions and more aggressive investment decisions. According to a study by Buck Consultants Inc., the leading worldwide human resources consulting firm, 60 percent of those surveyed with education programs reported higher worker contributions as a result of education initiatives. The survey found that 58 percent with education programs reported employees were making less conservative investment decisions. About nine out of 10 employers have taken steps to teach their work force about savings and retirement principles.

The nationwide survey, based on responses from 646 employers with 401(k) plans, found that 28 percent are considering methods to automatically enroll new workers as a way to boost participation, while 7 percent already do so. Meanwhile, 77 percent of workers are enrolled in 401(k) plans, a level that has remained stable the past six years.

 

 

Local firms honored

Five Cleveland-area firms on the cutting edge of quality service, entrepreneurship and other outstanding business practices were recently honored at the Third Annual Business Leadership Awards, sponsored by Cleveland State University and the Rotary Club.

Ohio Savings Bank received the Training and Development Leadership award because of the company’s progressive corporate culture and unique philosophies. The company’s training and development department forged strategic partnerships with all internal clients, developed a Positive Change Committee and encouraged a variety of learning opportunities for employees, from tuition reimbursement to seminars and conferences.

Cleveland Plastics Firm of Elyria was honored with the Quality Leadership award for its innovation in putting customer’s needs first. Each customer is assigned an account manager who documents the customer’s needs with an extensive and comprehensive checklist that is used to improve the product. The company attained a record level of sales in March 1999, while improving first-time quality levels to 99 percent.

Ronald Cohen, of Cohen & Company, a Cleveland firm devoted to advising family-owned and closely held businesses, received the Entrepreneurial Leadership award. The firm ranks among the top 75 accounting firms in the U.S. Cohen was honored for his role as a long time advocate of small businesses through legislative change, particularly in the areas of taxation and capital formation.

Niagara Custombilt Manufacturing Co. of Cleveland was honored for Global Business Leadership. The company has become the world’s foremost builder of custom industrial washing machines, which clean any size or shape of stampings, castings, machine parts or other industrial products. Niagara exports its products to more than 40 countries.

Deliotte & Touche LLP of Cleveland received the Community Service Leadership award for supporting many

local organizations through monetary gifts and the time and effort of its employees. The firm has targeted four major organizations for annual support: Beach Brook, a facility that counsels abused children; Junior Achievement; Riverside Elementary School; and the United Way Services. Last year, United Way benefited from a 48 percent increase in employee contributions, bringing the firm’s yearly total to $250,635.

 

Luckily, the batteries were charged

PC Guru president Jonathan Husni has seen a lot of strange things since he founded the Beachwood-based computer systems integrator 11 years ago. But what happened during a recent systems upgrade at Harry London Candies tops everything.

Husni explains that PC Guru installers were adding five new servers to help support Harry London’s new software system one Thursday in April when a nearby transformer blew at about 1 p.m., knocking out power in the company’s offices.

Because the server room had no windows, the installers suddenly found themselves standing in complete darkness. Under normal circumstances, Husni could have sent them home and had them return once power was restored. But, he had made a commitment to Harry London president Peter Young that the work would be completed before the end of the day so that employees could resume business as usual Friday morning.

So, taking a page from the Boy Scouts of America manual, out came the flashlights.

For the next seven hours, PC Guru installers toiled by flashlight until 8 p.m., when generators were finally brought in. Power was restored around midnight, and the installers stayed well past 1 a.m. to finish the final pieces of the upgrade.

When Harry London employees returned to work the following day, the upgrades were online and it was business as usual. Husni must be a fan of the stage because he’s subscribed to its one simple rule — the show must go on.

 

 

A little Java with those beans?

Flashline.com is making waves again. The online software components marketplace recently added a new service to its growing menu of custom-written drop-in software products. Software developers can choose from a collection of commercial quality JavaBeans components written exclusively for JavaServer pages. The offerings are among the first commercial components available for JavaServer applications on the Internet.

SBN featured Flashline founder and President Charles Stack in its April issue. At the time, Stack said Flashline would emerge as one of the premier sites on the Internet for software components. The new service adds another notch in Flashline’s belt on its way toward reaching Stack’s goal.

 

 

Publicizing PR

In yet another effort to help its members get the word out, the Greater Cleveland Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America has established a Web site — www.prsacleveland.org.

A year in the making, the PRSA site is better late than never. Graphically pleasing and designed by Vantage One Communications, it offers visitors a list of upcoming programs, membership information and job listings, among other benefits. Could broadcast faxes generated by the site be far behind?

 

 

Projecting polymers

Good news for Northeast Ohio polymer companies — demand for reinforced plastics is expected to increase 3.3 percent to more than four billion pounds in the year 2003, valued at $5.6 billion. The projections are based on a study from the Freedonia Group Inc., a Cleveland-based industrial market research firm.

So why is this good news for companies such as Geon? Because the projected increases will require 2.8 billion pounds of resin, which in turn could lead to increased orders for regional polymer firms.

 

 

Anti-conventional wisdom

Few products on the market are patented. Conversely, few patented products ever are sold. So while it seems to go against everything you’ve been taught in business school about protecting your inventions and ideas from competitors, Dr. Vernon Brabham, a retired optometrist and inventor, suggests taking ideas directly to market.

That unconventional idea is just one Brabham espouses to up-and-coming inventors on his Web site — www.bizine/invent.com.

Here are a few others:

 

 

  • Don’t let invention brokers scam you. The FTC says the vast majority are either ineffective or fraudulent.

     

  • Find out if someone is already producing your idea. You may end up being the one infringing on an existing patent.

     

  • Learn how to figure the cost of your product before you start. Otherwise, you could lose money in the venture.

     

  • The idea is only 5 percent of the total process. Marketing is the other 95 percent.

     

  • Above all, don’t be afraid of new ideas. Dare to dream.

     

     

    It’s time to upgrade

    So you’ve refused to upgrade. Your TRS-80 with the cassette tape drive still works fine. Sure it’s a little slow, but think how much money you’ve saved over the years. In recognition of the 25th anniversary of the personal computer, Dell Computer Corp. has launched a “Search for the Oldest PC” still in use at a small business. If you win, you’ll earn your company $15,000 in new Dell computer equipment. You can enter the search by calling (877) 572-DELL or visiting the Web site at www.dell.com, that is, if you have an Internet connection.

     

     

     

    The fairer business?

    Some quick facts about women-owned business from the U.S. Small Business Administration and the National Association of Women Business Owners:

     

     

    • In 1999, women-owned businesses numbered over 9.1 million, accounting for more than one-third of all businesses. They generated $3.6 trillion in revenue and employed 27.5 million workers. For Ohio, that works out to 352,000 firms, 1,124,300 employees and $12.07 billion in sales.

       

       

    • The top growth for women-owned businesses in the U.S. between 1987 and 1996 were in construction, wholesale trade, transportation, agribusiness and manufacturing.

       

       

    • Employment at U.S. women-owned firms with 100 or more employees has expanded six times faster than that at all firms in the economy.

       

       

    • Access to capital has improved. Since 1982, use of credit cards has plummeted from 52 percent to 23 percent and business earnings have doubled.

       

       

    • The number of firms owned by minority women has increased. By 1992, there were more than 275,000 African-American, nearly 250,000 Hispanic and more than 200,000 Asian women-owned firms.

     

     

    The honors keep coming

    City Visitor Publications President & CEO Rocco DiLillo has been invited to Palm Springs, Fla., to speak to CEOs from around the country at the Inc. magazine CEO Symposium. The event gives attendees the opportunity to discuss leadership strategies with other top executives. DiLillo is a former winner of the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur Of The Year award and one of this year’s judges.

     

     

     

    Relaxing the rules a bit

    The Internal Revenue Service is giving a break to smaller companies that still have not complied with the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System by extending the waiver on penalties from July 1 until the end of 1999. A business qualifies for the break if its payroll and income taxes were $200,000 or less during 1998.

    However, the 10 percent penalty will still start July 1 for businesses that paid taxes totaling $200,000 or more last year. The IRS says it will also give a one-time warning notice to businesses that should be complying with EFTPS as of June 30, 1999.

    Beginning January 2000, no company that pays federal taxes of less than $200,000 a year will be required to use EFTPS, while those that have taxes totaling $200,000 or more for the first time during 1999 will have to begin electronic transfer in the second succeeding calendar year.

     

     

    So that’s why

    The next way the Internet is going to make our lives easier is e-commerce. That comes as no surprise; the experts have been admonishing us to get on board for some time now. But why? RHI Management Resources asked 1,400 CFOs from around the country the following question: “What is the greatest benefit to be derived from offering e-commerce in your business over the next five years?” Here are the top four responses:

     

     

    • A means of reaching a broader range of prospective clients — 37 percent

       

       

    • A value-added benefit to existing customers — 21 percent

       

       

    • Reduced operational costs — 17 percent

       

       

    • Faster service/product delivery — 13 percent

     

     

     

    To the Great White North

    Marilou Myrick, president and CEO of ProResource Inc. was selected as one of 150 U.S. women business owners to represent the United States at the Canada /U.S. Businesswomen’s Trade Summit ’99 in Toronto. She was one of four women representatives from Ohio to attend the first ever trade mission of its kind.

     

    EEOC’s settle-not-sue policy spreading

    The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s Cleveland district office rightly takes pride in the success of its alternative dispute resolution program, in which warring parties can ask the EEOC to mediate disputes rather than pursue costly administrative cases. Now, the office, which oversees cases throughout Ohio, is taking its program on the road. Earlier this year, it held an ADR kickoff in Columbus. Says ADR coordinator Loretta Feller, “We’re mediating great guns.”

     

     

    Careful with those live demos

    Cleveland attorney Jim Troxell, with the firm of Squire, Sanders & Dempsey, has developed a reputation as one of the area’s leading authorities on Internet law. But even he gets an unpleasant surprise from the technology now and again. Recently, he was leading a client through a live demo of various Web sites when he accidentally called up a porn site. “We have a fast connection, and it was up like that,” he says.

     

     

    A new innovation tax

    Harvard Business School professor Josh Lerner recently told a U.S. Commerce Department conference on the digital economy that as a number of patent protections have been installed in the U.S. patent system over the last 15 years, smaller companies are increasingly being hit with patent-infringement suits by larger players. That has “created a substantial ‘innovation tax’ that afflicts some of America’s most important and creative small firms,” he said.

     

     

    Bean counters storm the Web

    As their business continues to fundamentally shift, accounting firms are becoming endlessly creative in cooking up promising new revenue streams. One of the more creative recent entrants might be the CPA WebTrust seal, an attempt to capitalize on the exploding e-commerce sector. The accounting industry has commissioned surveys that purport to show potential customers will be 46 percent more likely to buy from a site carrying such a seal of approval, which denotes that a qualified CPA has quarterly monitored the integrity of the site’s processes and transactions.

Monday, 22 July 2002 09:53

News Clips

MCM Communications will be designing and producing a new publication, PA Golf Magazine, developing collateral and trade show material for Diebold, and producing brochure materials for the newly-built Rock Run Estates.

Nationally renowned educational facilities architectural firm Fanning Howey Associates, Inc. has moved into the newly renovated Cigar Factory Building in the Strip District. Walnut Capital Partners, Lhormer Real Estate, Smerd Development and architect Joel Kranich preserved the historic features of the century-old building, which showcases timber beams, exposed brick and prominent windows in the office design.

Turner Construction Co. will manage construction for the renovation of the 96-year-old Phipp’s Conservatory’s Botany Hall.

The Bottom Line Inc. offers the SBAdvantage Guide for Small Disadvantaged Business applicants. The guide streamlines and organizes the information gathering and form completion needed to obtain SDB certification. For information, contact The Bottom Line via e-mail at info@thebottomlineinc.com.

The RIDC Growth Fund awarded contracts for the Industrial Center of McKeesport and the City Center of Duquesne. In Duquesne, Mainline Demolition of New York received the general site demolition contract for a bid of $159,185; A. Martini and Co. of Verona will receive $902,350 to renovate the stores and open hearth buildings; and Max Environmental will do open-pit remediation for $79,500. In McKeesport, Sciarretti Asphalt and Paving received a landscape contract worth $67,338.

The Volk Law Firm has opened a North Hills office for the practice of labor and employment law. Volk offers an array of services in human relations, labor negotiations, OSHA cases, labor and commercial arbitration and employment discrimination.

Apollo Solutions, consultant and reseller for Solomon Financial Software for Businesses, announced that its new development efforts will focus exclusively on Microsoft technology platforms. Its product line includes accounting, distribution, project management, manufacturing and e-commerce. Contact Apollo via e-mail at sales@apollosolutions.net

Prudential Preferred Realty will market the Rocks of Laurel Oak, the latest phase of construction in the Diamond Run luxury golf course community in Ohio Township and Franklin Park. Prudential’s senior consultants division has also entered an agreement with National Health Management Inc. to assist in the sale of private homes belonging to NHM personal care facility clients.

A joint venture between DQE subsidiary Montauk and Waste Energy Technology has been undertaken to provide services to the landfill gas management industry. The 50/50 venture will be named Waste Technology L.L.C.

Compuvisions is designing a Web site for New York City-based Brand Futures, a division of Y&R Advertising. Brand Futures, through its Web site, will market and deliver proprietary consumer trend research to businesses globally. Says Larry Honig, executive director of Compuvisions, “We are helping Brand Futures market, sell, and deliver its innovative trend research to a whole new market.”

Bruster’s Old-Fashioned Ice Cream and Yogurt Store opened a new location at 493 Lowries Run Road in Ross Township. It will employ about 20 people.

Internet service provider Stargate purchased Pittsburgh OnLine in a move to expand across the western Pennsylvania market. “By providing coverage in a few areas that we have, to date, underserved, this gives us an even stronger foothold in our core region, western Pennsylvania,” says Marcus Ruscitto, president and CEO.

FORE Systems, Inc., a developer of super high-speed voice, data and video transmission switching systems, has authorized Penn Telecom, Inc. to resell FORE Systems’ Fore Runner ASX -1200 and ASX-200BX ATM switches, the ES-3810 Local Area Network switches and ForeView network management solutions. “The acquisition of FORE ATM equipment will complete our portfolio of data service offerings,” says Frank Macefe, PTI president.

Donald Arnheim has announced the formation of the Arnheim Consulting Group to meet the needs of nonprofit organizations. “Although I’ve enjoyed my career as a business owner and value the relationships that have developed over the years, community service has always been at the core of who I am,” says Arnheim, a volunteer for more than 38 years for, among other causes, Rodef Shalom Temple, Leukemia Society, Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force and the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh authorized an agreement with the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority providing for $1 million in sewer line improvements for the South Side. Also, in cooperation with the Pittsburgh Housing Development Corp., the Polish Hill Civic Association, and contractor Steve Catranel Construction Company, Inc., the URA approved financing for a three-unit single-family development on Herron Avenue in Polish Hill. The URA is providing $205,700, while $263,789 comes from private sources.

ServiceWare Inc. is offering free access to its how-to Knowledge-Pak for Microsoft Office 2000. It can be accessed via ServiceWare’s Web site at www.serviceware.com

Cerebellum Software has announced three new undertakings. First is a strategic partnership with consulting firm Keane Inc. in Boston. “Through our strategic partnership with Cerebellum Software, we can introduce our clients to a new, innovative product that leverages existing information technology assets for rapid application development products,” says Brian Keane, Keane Inc. president. On the heels of the Keane partnership is an announced expansion into San Francisco and New York City. To move its product onto the market faster, Cerebellum has acquired Pittsburgh-based OPSoft Technologies to create a channel sales department.

Downtown creative agency Fitting Kolbrener is changing its location and its name. Newly-christened Fitting Kolbrener Creative has relocated from the Conestoga Building to Four Smithfield Street. Phone numbers are unchanged.

WTW Architects of Pittsburgh has been chosen to develop a master plan for 12.6 acres of newly purchased land and conduct the renovation of the existing building housing the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine. The $10 million project is slated to begin early next year.

Trucking company Pitt Ohio Express Inc. has instituted predawn delivery service. Pitt Ohio expects to give its customers a competitive advantage in cycle time, warehousing expenses and inventory costs.

Monday, 22 July 2002 09:52

Newsclips

All the world’s a stage — err, boardroom

Who says art and culture aren’t big business? Certainly not Northeast Ohio’s business leaders. They’re well aware that Cleveland’s arts and cultural organizations bring money into their companies, but few realize exactly how large an impact those organizations have. The bottom line? Those groups generate about $1.3 billion in economic activity each year, according to a recent study by the Community Partnership for Arts and Culture. And they impact the work force as well, employing more than 3,700 full-time workers. Maybe that explains all those corporate donations.

Beware old tricks wearing new names

Just when you thought you’d seen every multi-level marketing scam in existence, from outta left field comes cycling.

The concept is a repackaged edition of the time-tested favorite — send money to people who have already signed up, then add your name to some list and hope some poor fool sends you money.

This scam’s twist: A company called Fortune Quest International LLC wants you to send it a $295 one-time fee to join as an independent contractor and sell health care products (none of which are even described in the offer). It then wants you to sponsor two people, who in turn sponsor two more people, and so on. That cycles your name onto the top of a list, supposedly assuring that you’ll reap a fortune.

Any way you look at it, it’s the same old thing. Whatever happened to earning money the old fashioned way — working for it?

A little touch of home

Let’s say you’re sending a couple of key engineers or management types to Singapore to oversee integration of a new subsidiary for eight or nine months. Or perhaps you’re moving them and their families overseas to run the company for a few years. Odds are that your firm’s human resources department will handle most of the details concerning the move. But what about other, smaller issues, such as advice on local schools, neighborhoods, banking and other aspects of daily life? Your employees will probably be left to fend for themselves.

A new Web site, www.expatexchange.com, is designed to help supplement a business’s involvement and bridge the gap between what’s already handled by your company and what’s left. The site is a virtual community established as a support network for expatriates and people assigned overseas for any extended period of time. It includes forums on life in 50 countries, advice from volunteers and experts, a spouses network and information on paying taxes.

The British are coming!

With all the rage about merger mania — 2,354 M&A transactions (consolidations, mergers and acquisitions) valued at more than $399 billion have been announced in the second quarter of 1999 alone — it’s easy for business owners to let the potential tender offers put dollar signs in their eyes.

So who’s doing all these deals? The largest acquirer of U.S.-based companies is England. Its businesses have racked up 58 acquisitions valued at $46 billion so far this year, according to a study by Mergerstat, an M&A trend watcher.

According to the report, 1999 is on pace to be a record year, with consolidations and acquisitions within the broadcasting and communications industries leading the way.

And, as British firms complete more purchases, such as Vodafone Group PLC’s acquisition of AirTouch Communications ($62.8 billion), American business owners may have to complete another acquisition of their own — acquiring a taste for tea and crumpets.

Gender connection

Women business owners who have experienced difficulties breaching the walls of major corporations as potential clients will see those walls come tumbling down Oct. 21, at Connection 2000.

The fair, sponsored by the Cleveland chapter of NAWBO — the National Association of Women Business Owners — is designed to give women business owners access to purchasing agents and decision makers who want to spend money with women-owned businesses. The event is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Ameritech corporate offices, 6889 Snow Road, Brecksville. For more information, contact NAWBO at (216) 676-9262.

Pulling up the stakes

It wasn’t that long ago that savvy opportunists could make a few extra bucks by registering World Wide Web domain names, then selling the rights to them to companies who were a natural fit. It’s a practice which has been dubbed “cybersquatting,” and Flashline.com’s Charles Stack made a quick $25,000 when he sold movies.com to Disney that way. Well, don’t look now, but the sun may be setting on cybersquatting with introduction of a bill in Congress to make it a crime. That, however, doesn’t mean the practice will be outlawed any time soon. It’s no secret how slow the process of lawmaking can be. But just in case enough big money pushes this issue through, you may want to consider snatching up those URLs while you still can.

Protective instincts or survival techniques?

Now that Congress has limited lawsuits surrounding the millennium bug, many major law firms are troubled by the limitations on filing against software and computer makers or vendors. But on the flip side, 86 percent of the nation’s 1,200 largest law firms say they’re already Y2K compliant, according to a recent survey by The Affiliates. That begs the question: If the bulk of them are ready, why are the attorneys so outraged about Congress’ move? It could be that they’re looking out for the little guys. Or, maybe they’re concerned about fewer billable hours for their Y2K compliant systems.

Healing the walking wounded

Bob Rosner, author of “Walking Wounded,” will be the featured speaker Oct. 26 at the ERC Annual Conference. Rosner is a nationally recognized observer of workplace trends, and is a former consultant to Fortune 500 companies and government agencies.

The ERC conference is designed to help senior executives, business owners and HR professionals enhance their problem-solving, communication, interpersonal and creative skill sets through one half-day of break-out sessions. The conference will be held at Windows on the River.

SBN Magazine is the event’s print media sponsor. For more information, contact the ERC at (216) 696-3636.

From a higher authority

Pope John Paul II has named Cleveland State University Cleveland-Marshall College of Law Professor David Forte to the Pontifical Council for the Family. He will serve on the council’s board of expert consultants. So does that give him insight into which students say little prayers before his next test?

History in the moving

Parma Movers Inc./The Lincoln Moving & Storage Co. has donated two vehicles to the Crawford Auto Aviation Museum. A 1951 Cadillac and a 1960 white truck — still showing the Parma Movers name — will join the museum’s collection.

They must be working somewhere

An OfficeTeam survey of interviewers found these unusual responses to the question: “What is the most unusual thing you have ever heard of happening in a job interview?”

  • An applicant’s reference sheet listed a person with the title “Dad.” When asked if it was his dad, the candidate replied, “No, but he is a dad.”

  • When asked about her proficiency with software programs, the interviewee pulled out a photo of herself standing next to a computer and replied, “This shows my familiarity with today’s office equipment.”

  • One candidate explained several firings this way: Previous employers had conspired to place a curse on him, and he was conducting his own secret investigation.

    And sometimes, actions speak louder than words:

  • When the hiring manager walked into the lobby to greet the candidate, she was feeding her virtual pets and asked him to wait just a minute.

  • A beeping noise was heard coming from a candidate’s briefcase. He opened it, switched off an egg timer and informed the interviewer he could answer one more question without being late to his next interview.

And we wonder why there’s a tight labor market.

Y2K scams

As the year 2000 approaches, tensions about the millennium bug are growing. And fear is the primary ingredient necessary for scam artists to prey on desperate computer owners. If you’re not Y2K OK, listen up. The Better Business Bureau has put out a publication outlining what to watch out for.

  • Opportunists looking for investors to finance phony Y2K solutions.

  • Consultants or businesses selling services or software that aren’t Y2K compliant or don’t fix problems as promised.

  • Solution providers pitching miracle solutions at too good to be true prices.

  • Exorbitant pries for services and so-called survival supplies (i.e. bottled water, candles, canned foods, etc.)

  • Y2K specific scams such as the bogus banker, credit card “stickers,” Trojan book safes; funny money scan; and the bogus bells.

A copy of the publication is available online at www.bbb.org

A good cause

Believe it or not, it’s time to begin thinking about ordering those holiday cards. The Make-A-Wish Foundation of the Mid-Atlantic Inc. has a way for you to get those cards and do a good deed at the same time.

Cards ordered from the organization come with the inscription, “In the spirit of the holiday season, a donation has been made in your honor to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, a nonprofit organization that fulfills the wishes of children fighting life-threatening illnesses.” A good cause, and the cost is mostly tax deductible. For more information, call (301) 962-WISH.

By any other name

Infoworld Enterprise Solutions, one of the 1999 finalists in the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year program, has changed its name to AdvizeX Technologies LLC.

From the ashes

Do you or your company exemplify the spirit of successful renewal in your corporate or personal performance? If so, you might be honored as one of the Phoenix 50 and earn a trip to Hawaii. Jim Belasco and Ingram Micro CEO Jerre Stead, authors of the book “Soaring with the Phoenix: Renewing the Vision, Reviving the Spirit, and Re-creating the Success of Your Company” are looking to recognize organizations and individuals for their efforts. For more information, including rules and entry forms, visit the Web site at www.soaringphoenix.com. Deadline is Oct. 31.

Welcome to the machine

More than half of U.S. economic growth is fueled by technological progress in equipment and structures, according to an elaborate study published by the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland. That may not come as a surprise, but researchers say no one had ever isolated the various sources of technological advance and their effects on the Gross Domestic Product.

Researchers also wanted to break down how much economic growth is fueled by advances in the production of new equipment and structures compared to disembodied technological advance. The study found 37 percent of economic growth is tied to technological progress in equipment and 15 percent from structures.

Why is this important?

Researchers say public policies such as investment tax credits that reduce the cost of new equipment would likely stimulate output growth and help cut down on unemployment. For more information, visit www.clev.frb.org/ccca

Fastest companies keeping prices steady

The CEOs of America’s fastest-growing companies are keeping a lid on prices, says a study by PricewaterhouseCoopers. Although most will juggle their prices a bit either up or down, only 30 percent expect to end the year with a net increase. Ten percent say they will likely see a net decrease in prices. But viewed separately, the survey shows service sector companies are pushing prices higher than their counterparts in the product sector. Thirty-five percent of service industries expect a net increase in prices, while only seven percent expect a decrease. In comparison, 30 percent of product sector companies say they will see a net price increase, while 12 percent say prices will be lower.

The jail business

The Ohio Department of Correction and Rehabilitation is negotiating a deal with a Massachusetts firm that touts itself as an industry leader in reducing the chance of a first-time offender becoming a repeat criminal.

The ODCR is working out the details of a contract with Civigenics to manage a new 552-bed prison in Lorain County. The North Coast Correctional Treatment facility in Grafton will cater mainly to men and women doing time for drunken driving convictions. In this case, the firm’s educational agenda will be focused on public safety issues caused by the return of alcohol and drug-abusing offenders to the community. The company is already working with nine states, as well as law enforcement agencies in Texas and Colorado.

Snow worries

What does a ski lodge do during the dog days of summer to turn a profit? Round up a bunch of classic rockers and blues musicians, of course. Boston Mills, better known for its cold weather entertainment options, will turn its green rolling hills into a mini-Woodstock during two sweltering August afternoons. A “Classic Blast,” featuring Blue Oyster Cult, John Kay & Steppenwolf and a monster fireworks display is set for Aug. 8th, while the B.B. King Blues Festival, which will include Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Tower of Power, is scheduled for Aug. 22.

Rolling into history

The 51-year-old Greyhound bus station at 1465 Chester Ave. in Cleveland was recently added to the National Registry of Historic places, a move that could allow the owner to qualify for a 20 percent federal income tax credit for repairs and alterations. On the other hand, the recent designation would offer no protection if the owner decided to bring in the wrecking ball.

Nevertheless, the three-story limestone building was added to the National Register because it is an example of the Art Moderne style popular from 1935 to 1950. It was also the first Greyhound station built during the company’s post World War II expansion boom. The building was originally nominated to the National Register in 1990, but its owner at the time objected. Earlier this year, the current owner of the building put that nomination back on track.

What does $1 billion worth of golf shirts look like?

Sales of promotional products reached an all-time high last year, topping $13 billion. It is the eighth consecutive year sales of items imprinted with company logos or messages have increased, with 1998 marking an 11 percent increase over the previous year. Since 1990, the industry has witnessed 162 percent growth.

For the 13th consecutive year, wearable items such as T-shirts, caps and jackets were the most popular products, garnering more than 27 percent of all sales. Other chart toppers included writing instruments (11.7 percent) calendars (8.9 percent), and glassware and ceramics (8 percent). The study was sponsored by The Promotion Products Association International. More than 13,000 promotional products distributors in the United States were surveyed.

Lease increase

More companies are leasing more equipment to free up operating capital and bank credit lines for inventory, expansion and the occasional emerge ncy, according to a study by the Equipment Leasing Association. Annual leasing revenue jumped to nearly $3.9 billion in 1997 from $3.55 billion in 1996. Ninety-four percent of those surveyed expect to maintain or increase their leasing activity during the next two years, while 68 percent lease more equipment today than they did five years ago.

Hey, where’s our cut?

SBN’s recent cover girl, Custom Edge’s Carol Herzing (May 1999), attended an early summer meeting of vendors interested in commercial tie-ins to the new Cleveland Browns. A woman with the team’s staff took one look at her, and said, “I just read about you.” Carol walked out with a seven-figure contract to supply Burger Kings in the area with Browns-themed plush dolls. She’s convinced the exposure helped her land the deal.

Where’s our cut, part II

It may or may not surprise you to learn that there’s a company in Cleveland that scours local publications and sends feature article subjects a handsomely framed copy of the article. Their pitch is simple: we understand you didn’t ask for this, but if you’re interested in this as a keepsake wall hanging, keep it and send along $175. But it appears they could use a little editorial help. The company recently sent Ron Copfer a framed article of a piece that appeared in SBN. It looked appealing, we must admit. Only one problem: the plaque attached misspelled his name as Ron Copper.

Ciao, e-mail

Who says all the good Internet domain names are taken at this late date in the Internet’s gold rush? Broadview Heights-based Web developer Tom Roberts was in the market for catchy addresses to support his emerging work on broadcast e-mail. He figured the Italian name for mail had a nice ring to it. Postino.com was already spoken for, as was epostino.com. But he was able to register e-postino.com.

Working to be your poster boy

Northeast Ohio Software Association executive director Jim Cookinham recently got off a good line about NetGenics’s Manny Glynias and his unofficial role as the poster boy for area software start-ups. “Manny’s a little nervous, because he knows that software start-ups work and don’t work, and he doesn’t want to be the poster boy of not working.”

Monday, 22 July 2002 09:52

Newsclips

Turner Construction Co. has been selected to renovate the law offices of Kirkpatrick & Lockhart. Turner will develop state-of-the-art conference centers, renovate 11 floors and install a new technology center for the firm. Work is expected to be completed in two years.

Turner also has been chosen to complete the construction of the labor/delivery/operating room at Magee-Women’s Hospital. Interior work will be completed on a 43,000-square-foot area in February 2000.

General Products, Inc. of Murrysville has purchased West Virginia-based Adena, Inc., a water treatment chemicals company. “With Adena’s expertise in water treatment and our background in chemical products, it takes us to a new level,” says General Products owner and president Gene Chafre.

CAPCO Contracting is the first business to receive a loan through the Community Express Pilot Loan Program, a collaborative effort of the SBA and the National Community Reinvestment Coalition. The $400,000 loan was arranged through Mellon Bank.

JLS Technologies has opened an enterprise resource planning software training center. Classes run weekly for two hours for 10 hours per workshop. The West View facility provides free JD Edwards ERP software training to qualified Western Pennsylvania IBM AS/400 developers. Contact Bruce Hurst at (412) 939-0280 or bhurst@sgi.net.

Guidos Real Estate has merged with Howard Hanna Real Estate Services. Guidos adds 12 sales associates to Howard Hanna’s 1,300 sales and staff personnel. Marie Guidos, owner of Guidos Real Estate, assumes a position as associate broker and senior consultant at Howard Hanna.

Rocco’s Auction & Appraisal Services of Erie has been chosen to handle the liquidation of properties for Howard Hanna. Howard Hanna also has formed an affiliation with Premier Properties By Barbara Alexander LLC in West Virginia. Eighteen companies have joined Howard Hanna since 1995.

WTW Architects of Pittsburgh has been chosen to design a renovation and addition for the University of Colorado’s University Memorial Center in Boulder. At a cost of $23 million, the project is planned to start in spring 2000 and finish in summer 2002.

Thermal Transfer Corp. has selected the RIDC’s City Center of Duquesne for relocation. RIDC will complete a $5 million renovation of Thermal Transfer’s new 116,000-square-foot facility by year’s end. The company designs and manufactures heat recovery products used in metals production, heat treating, glassmaking, chemical processing, cement manufacturing, food processing, paper, textiles, waste management, and pollution control.

Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott, LLC has merged its legal practice with Philadelphia-based Connolly Epstein Chicco Foxman Oxholm & Ewing. The expanded practice will operate under the Eckert Seamans name. Strategically, Eckert Seamans reinforces its statewide presence, while Connolly Epstein gains an expanded range of services that can be provided, especially in the area of intellectual property.

Network solutions firm CyBerJaz has merged vertically with training and software consulting company PC Advisors. The companies will operate under the CyBerJaz banner. Says John Hudson, director of business development for the combined firms: “The new CyBerJaz will be perfectly positioned to manage a client’s total needs.”

Tuscarora Inc. has acquired the principal business and operating assets of Lane Container Company, a Dallas-based company. The merger gives Tuscarora further access to regional markets. Lane founder Rick Lane now holds the post of general manager at the Dallas operation.

Exercise Equipment, Inc. has merged with Ranieri’s Fitness Products, making Exercise Equipment the largest locally owned fitness equipment dealer in the tri-state area.

E-Transport has added an office in New Jersey and a temporary office in England. The company provides automated tariff and pricing information for the international shipping industry.

The Mon Valley Initiative has closed its first loan to a bakery in Elizabeth, Pa. The MVI’s Initiative Fund finances small and start-up businesses in economically troubled areas in the Mon Valley. It targets small manufacturers needing equipment, leasehold improvements, property acquisition and expansion, and working capital.

XiTech Corp. has merged with Professional Communications and Cable Inc. PC&C’s 14 employees have been transferred to the new XiTech offices. “PC&C was very attractive to us because of its expertise in network and telecommunications installation,” says XiTech president Jim Sommer.

Monday, 22 July 2002 09:51

Newsclips

Caffeine in my blood

Caffeine is absorbed very quickly from the gastrointestinal tract and distributed in various body tissues. After absorption, it passes into the central nervous system. Caffeine sensitivity refers to the amount of caffeine that will produce negative side effects and varies from person to person. Caffeine does not accumulate in the bloodstream nor is it stored in the body. It is excreted in the urine many hours after it has been consumed. Caffeine will not reduce the effects of alcohol, although many people still believe a cup of coffee will “sober up” an intoxicated person.

Caffeine may be used as a treatment for migraine headaches and in relieving, for a short time, fatigue or drowsiness. There is no human requirement for caffeine in the diet. Moderate caffeine intake, however, is not associated with any health risk. Three 8-ounce cups of coffee (250 milligrams of caffeine) per day is considered an average or moderate amount of caffeine. Ten 8-ounce cups of coffee per day is considered excessive intake of caffeine.

Source: www.drkoop.com

I’ve got a headache

It’s one of our most common medical conditions — a headache. Many people don’t know what causes their headaches, but certain triggers, such as too much caffeine, too little sleep, stress, anger and even changes in the weather, can start a headache or make it worse.

So what helps a headache? Try applying heat or cold to the area, massaging the neck to relax the muscles, or simply taking a walk or a nap. Another way to help is to keep a headache diary to determine if food, weather or mood contribute to your headache pattern. Talk to your doctor if you have frequent or persistent headaches.

Source: Tylenol

Out in the cold

An experimental drug currently under development may one day be used to treat the common cold. In a clinical trial of the drug, called pleconaril, colds cleared up in an average of 11 days, versus 14 days for patients treated with a placebo.

Wrist shots

Although carpal tunnel syndrome is common among adults, physicians still lack standard criteria for diagnosing the wrist injury, according to a recent report.

Reporting in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Swedish researchers noted that some studies have uncovered a high prevalence of carpal tunnel syndrome in certain occupations.

Jobs that require repetitive wrist or finger motions, such as construction and carpentry work and jobs that involve computer keyboard use, have been linked to carpal tunnel syndrome.

Joint advocates

Thanks to advances in medical research, we now have a better understanding about the cause of common arthritis, the joint disease that affects more than 20 million Americans.

The old theory was that inflammation caused the pain, swelling, creaking and stiffness of joints. However, doctors and researchers now tell us that arthritis results from the gradual wearing down of cartilage, the shock absorbing tissue in the joints.

Source: Tylenol

Inhaling the cure

Two separate studies, one carried out on students at two major Midwestern universities and the other on patients at high risk of infection at a Toronto hospital, provide strong evidence that flu can be prevented by the antiviral drug Zanamivir. Zanamivir is the first of a new series of antiviral medications called neuraminidase inhibitors that interfere with the production of an enzyme essential for the replication of flu viruses. Without that enzyme, viruses clump harmlessly to the surface of a healthy cell instead of infecting it. The drug is a dry powder that is breathed in using an inhaler. Unlike other medications, which are only effective against type A influenzas, zanamivir works against both type A and type B flu viruses.

That’s a stretch

Should I stretch before or after I do aerobic exercise?

First of all, stretching “cold” muscles is potentially harmful and less effective than stretching when the muscles are properly warmed up. Theoretically, you should perform some sort of aerobic activity lightly for five minutes to warm up, then stretch, then resume your aerobic activity, and stretch again at the end, according to www.drkoop.com. The problem is that most people don’t.

Regular stretching is probably the most neglected area of fitness. To get people to stretch, perform all your stretches at the end of the exercise session. It is more likely you will stretch once, rather than twice in the same workout. Aerobic exercise, such as walking and jogging, slightly stresses the muscles and tendons, making them tighter. Therefore, it’s best to stretch after a workout to help relax the exercised muscles. Muscles that are warmed up can be stretched safely and effectively.

Poor grandma

Despite increased federal and state efforts over the last year to improve the quality of care in U.S. nursing homes, many facilities are still being cited for problems that significantly harm patients, according to a report issued by the US General Accounting Office. Under an expanded definition of “poorly performing” nursing homes due to go into effect later this year, the GAO reported that 2,275 nursing homes, or 15 percent of all such facilities in the U.S., would be placed in that category as a result of violations over the last 15 months. Currently, just 1 percent of homes, or 137 facilities, fall into the “poorly performing” category.

I’m going to be sick

Do you know why some over-the-counter pain relievers may irritate your stomach, while others won’t?

There are two kinds of over-the-counter pain relievers. One type is called NSAIDS-nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Some common NSAIDs include aspirin (Excedrin, Bayer), naproxen sodium (Aleve), even ibuprofen (Advil).

Every single NSAID, to varying degrees, can sometimes irritate your stomach by interfering with the production of the substance that lines and protects the stomach. Surprisingly, this irritation can occur at the stomach lining without you even feeling it.

Bathroom alchemy

If you’re like most people, you probably take an assortment of prescription and nonprescription medications. Do you know that some of these drugs, when taken in certain combinations, could cause unwanted drug interactions?

Drug interactions may affect the safety or effectiveness of medications, and could result in high drug levels in the body and stronger than recommended effects.

The next time you start taking a new medicine or refill an old one, be proactive. Read the labels every time you use a prescription or nonprescription medication, and learn about potential drug interactions. It’s critical to your good health.

Hunger pangs

How do I make changes in my diet to eat more vegetables and less fat without feeling hungry all the time?

Don’t cut your fat intake below 25 fat grams a day. There is no real benefit, and you need essential fat in your diet. Fat delays stomach emptying, making meals last longer. Your lunch, (salad with nonfat dressing) even though there is fiber from a salad, is too low fat, so the meal moves through your stomach faster and leaves you hungry in the afternoon. Add a light salad dressing, not low fat, and some whole wheat bread or crackers. Spread your fat intake throughout the day — 5 grams at breakfast, 10 grams at lunch and dinner.

Women tend to do better with small meals and planned snacks. If you get hungry every afternoon, plan a light snack to carry you over until dinner. Have yogurt, a low-fat granola or fruit bar, pretzels, fruit, etc. Consider 3 p.m. another opportunity to add healthy food to your diet. You may need a heartier snack if dinner is late (7 p.m.), so consider half a sandwich and a beverage at 3 p.m.

Find ways to add hot fo ods to your diet. Studies show that hot food is more satisfying than cold food, no matter what the calorie content. Add warm vegetable or tomato soup to your lunch and see how you feel later.

Source: drkoop.com

Right-size it, Ronald

With the advent of “super-sizing,” most of us aren’t sure what a serving of food actually looks like — such as meat, pasta or dessert — let alone know how many servings of these foods we should eat in a day to maintain our weight. When we eat out, whether at a fast food or a sit-down restaurant, we typically are served hefty portions.

A serving of steak, chicken or fish at most restaurants is typically 6 to 12 ounces, which is actually two to four “real” servings. A plate of pasta at a restaurant is easily four real servings, and desserts, loaded with fat and calories, are also served in mega-portion sizes. It’s no wonder so many Americans struggle with excess weight; we are constantly being exposed to an overdose of food.

Here are serving sizes of common foods along, with a guide on the number of servings you should eat in a day:

Breads, rice, pasta, cereal and other grain products: At least six to 11 servings per day. One serving equals one slice of bread, half a bagel (some large deli bagels equal three to four servings), one-half cup of cooked pasta (about the size of a computer mouse), one ounce of ready-to-eat cereal, one-half cup of potatoes, or a six-inch tortilla.

Vegetables, such as carrots, tomatoes, broccoli and spinach: At least three to five servings per day. One serving equals one-half cup cooked or one cup raw.

Fruit, such as apples, oranges, strawberries, kiwi and prunes: At least two to four servings per day. One serving equals one medium-sized fresh fruit (about the size of a tennis ball), or one-half cup of fruit juice (the real thing, not fruit “drink”).

Meat, including fish, chicken, pork or egg, and vegetable sources of protein such as soy (tofu) or beans (kidney, lentils, etc.): At least five to six ounces of meat or an equivalent of beans per day. One serving equals two to three ounces of meat (about the size of a deck of playing cards), one egg, four ounces of tofu, or one-half cup cooked beans.

Dairy or other calcium-rich foods, low-fat or nonfat milk, yogurt or cheese, calcium-fortified soymilk: At least two to three servings per day. One serving equals one cup of milk, yogurt or soymilk, or two ounces of cheese (about two one-inch cubes).

Fat, such as oil (olive, canola, corn), avocado, margarine and butter: No more than 65 grams of fat per day. One serving equals one teaspoon or about five grams of fat (the size of a thumb tip), or one-eighth of an avocado. Use sparingly and be aware that fat lurks in many foods, so check the label.

Source: Onhealth.com

Don’t let the bugs bite

Home treatment for insect stings:

  • Bees leave stingers behind. Do not pull the stinger out. Remove it by scraping gently with a fingernail or the side of a credit card.

  • Wash the area with soap and water.

  • Make a paste of unseasoned meat tenderizer and water and apply it to the sting as soon as possible. Many people find this reduces the reaction. If you do not have unseasoned meat tenderizer, try baking soda or activated charcoal.

  • Apply a cold pack to the sting.

  • Take pain medications as needed.

  • Topical creams and lotions, such as Calamine, benzocaine or hydrocortizone, may help ease the itching.

  • Some people take nonprescription antihistamines. If you take them, remember they can make you drowsy

Monday, 22 July 2002 09:43

Newsclips

Time to get your CPA on the horn

So you think you can breathe a little easier now that the IRS has announced efforts to slow down its pace of auditing tax returns? Don’t get too comfortable. The state of Ohio and many local municipalities plan to step up their pace of auditing business tax returns, warns Al Taddeo, senior manager with the Tax Services Group of Cleveland-based Meaden & Moore. That’s because federal spending cuts continue to impact state and local governments, and as the cash squeeze increases, those groups are becoming more aggressive with audits as a way to claim revenue without imposing new taxes.

Why worry? Explains Taddeo, “Typically, companies focus a lot of time and effort on planning for and filing federal tax returns because they want to minimize their tax liability and ensure they are in compliance. That usually means state and local tax returns get less attention.”

Investing in arts

Nearly half the owners at more than 100 Northeast Ohio arts and culture facilities say they’re planning to upgrade their facilities to keep pace with growing consumer demands. Those owners expect to invest more than $500 million for those improvements, according to a study conducted by van Dijk Pace Westlake Architects and released by the Community Partnership for Arts and Culture.

“This is the first comprehensive inventory of the region’s arts and cultural facilities,” explains Andy Randall, partnership chairman and president and CEO or Firstar Bank.

Among other findings:

-- 39 percent of the facilities are located in census traces with median incomes below $20,000;

-- Areas of fastest population growth are within the 20-mile radius of existing Northeast Ohio arts and cultural facilities.

Cyberproducts

When Greg Muzzillo said last October that he intended to shift his focus from current business venture ProForma to an Internet-based version of the printing and promotional products industry, few doubted his word. And why should they? Muzzillo founded ProForma in the mid-1970s, and despite being told it would never work, built the business into a $150 million-plus franchising powerhouse.

Last December, Muzzillo, true to his word, founded inaQuest.com, which puts buyers in direct contact with manufacturers of promotional products and printed materials. InaQuest was financed with $3 million of start-up capital, supplied by Muzzillo and Pro Ventures Inc., an investment vehicle of Fred Deluca, owner and founder of Subway Restaurants. The company has already forged a partnership with Microsoft.

Fowl business

The duck is expanding.

Manco Inc., a Henkel Group company best known for its Duck Tape products, broke ground for a new 150,000-square-foot manufacturing and distribution facility in north Oklahoma City to accommodate major north/south commercial traffic from Mexico to Canada.

Manco President John Kahl says the new plant will serve as a western logistics center and help the Avon Lake-based company meet customer demands for its burgeoning home center and office superstore retail business. Kahl expects operations at the new plant to begin by July 1.

Dr. E

By now, you’ve probably used the Web to research medical facts, but finding the most up-to-date reports can be 10 times as difficult as figuring out which online brokerage firm to link up with.

But with the proliferation of e-books, it should come as no surprise that the medical community has jumped on board with an e-strategy of its own. Enter eMedicine (www.emedicine.com), an online service dedicated to health professional and public medical education. An editorial board of medical professionals from more than 1,000 of the world’s top institutions, including representatives from University Hospitals, Case Western Reserve University’s School of Medicine and Akron City Hospital, work on the site in some capacity. The site’s goal is to make the most current information available as quickly as possible.

Kid’s play

It didn’t take long for Faber-Castell Co., the new owners of Cleveland-based Creativity for Kids, to make good on its promise to keep investing heavily in R&D. The specialty toy manufacturer recently announced 32 new products for the first quarter of 2000, just in time for Toy Fair 2000, held in February in New York City. The company has also made upgrades in its Web site, www.creativityforkids.com, which incorporates Faber-Castell’s children’s art projects lines as well.

Eye opener

If you thought Disney World had cornered the market on 3-D movie technology, think again. EDR Systems has taken the medium beyond the realm of simple entertainment as part of a project for The Cleveland Clinic’s Cole Eye Institute. Instead of watching two-dimensional films of eye surgeries in the Clinic’s new theater, medical students, interns, residents and physicians now don polarized glasses and get a three-dimensional view of the procedure.

Impressed? It gets better. EDR Systems programmers also developed software that allows instructors to flash questions on the screen for audience members to answer from a console at each seat. The results are instantly tabulated and displayed on the screen via computer-generated bar graphs so viewers can see how they measured up to their colleagues.

History lesson

Cleveland’s Media Design Imaging Inc. recently completed a documentary about the resettlement of Japanese American families in Cleveland after their release from internment camps following World War II. The film, titled “An American History: The Resettlement of Japanese Americans in Cleveland,” was made possible through a collaboration with MDI Vice President Johnny Wu and the national and local chapters of the Japanese American Citizens League, which partially funded the film.

MDI donated its production services for the project. Watch a trailer for the documentary at www.mdifilm.com.

Not so lonely road

If communicating with your family via answering machine messages and random e-mails during those days on the road isn’t cutting it, there’s a solution brewing at www.egreetings.com. The idea of the electronic greeting card is not exactly revolutionary, but the new San Francisco-based entrant to the virtual greeting card game is banking on the fact that you want variety.

The Egreetings site offers more than 5,000 digital cards, all loaded with graphics, animations and music. So the next time you’re spending another restless night in another hotel, fire up the laptop and win some points at the homestead.

Government upgrade

The federal government’s premier business Web site has undergone a facelift and now provides more information at faster speeds. The refurbished U.S. Business Advisor, www.business.gov, allows business owners direct access to commerce services, including loan information, trademark registration, payroll benefits and tax filing. The site is the result of an extensive 18-month review period of private and public sector designers, with the support and feedback of the business community and more than a dozen federal agencies. So much for getting rid of government bureaucracy.

Good times, good cause

What does one do to motivate employees during those dreary winter days? John Di Julius, owner of John Roberts Hair Studio and Salon, created a two-day company meeting to fire up staff members, who, in the process, raised $2,200 for Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital.

Di Julius, a 1999 Entrepreneur Of The Year and Pillar Award winner, pulled in salon industry icons to inspire his staff and arranged an auction for employees during the two-day event. Items on the bidding block ranged from cordless phones to airline tickets. Money raised from the auction will be used to buy toys for the playrooms at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital.

About that raise . . .

Employers will dole out larger-than-expected raises during 2000 on the expectation of a continued strong economy and an ever-tightening labor force, according to a recent study. William M. Mercer surveyed business owners and executives during mid-1999 about what kind of raises they expected to give employees during 2000. More recent surveys show those raises will be “slightly larger” than survey respondents originally thought.

“The uptick in salary increases — especially at lower pay levels — reflects the tightening labor market and growing shortage of workers, as well as general optimism about the economy,” explains Steven E. Gross, a principal Mercer’s Philadelphia office.

Despite the bigger payroll bite, the survey shows that 42 percent of business owners and executives expect to increase their number of employees during 2000, compared to the 15 percent who expect to trim staffing levels.

Will eat for food

The three-part Taste of the Nation “All Star Chefs’ Culinary Series” created by Cleveland’s top food and wine professionals to benefit local hunger groups, will wrap up this month on April 9 at the Baricelli Inn in Little Italy. The series kicked off Feb. 27 with a Mardi Gras Brunch at The Inn at Turner’s Mill in Hudson before moving to John Q’s Steakhouse on Public Square in March.

Proceeds from the events, which ranged from $60 to $150 a plate, go to local hunger organizations, including Cleveland Foodbank, Food Rescue of Northeast Ohio and the Hunger Network of Greater Cleveland. Since 1988, the annual Taste of the Nation event has raised more than $440,000 for local organizations.

Monday, 22 July 2002 09:39

Moneyclips

Are you working?

The monthly jobs report is the most significant economic indicator for the U.S. government. It is among the first data released about any given month, it looks at the most important sector of the economy, it is conceptually sound and is based on surveys of thousands of businesses and households.

The Labor Department gives a more detailed look at total compensation costs in the quarterly employment cost index, which includes wages and benefits.

Other indicators also give snapshots of the labor market. Every week, the Labor Department reports on unemployment claims. Private sources, such as the monthly survey of the manufacturing sector by the National Association of Purchasing Management, the Conference Board’s Help Wanted Index and the Challenger report on mass layoffs, help paint a complete picture of the labor market.

Psst, stock tip here

Volume percentage changes — increases and decreases — are gaining popularity as indicators of coming events that might change a stock’s performance. Typically, a share that is trading at 2,000 percent of its average trading volume is likely to make a move in price at some point, if it hasn’t already.

That can indicate accumulation, if the stock is poised to rise, or distribution, if the stock is poised to fall.

Do you IPO?

One of the the best ways to invest in an IPO is to buy shares from one of the banks managing the deal at the offering price, before the stock starts trading. New issues are usually reasonably priced by the lead underwriter, which typically hopes for a 15 percent premium above the offering price when the stock starts trading.

For your average retail investor, buying shares at the offering price before the stock starts trading is a difficult task. But it’s a bit easier now that banks have made an effort to reach out to the retail investor community through alliances and mergers.

To buy an IPO at the offering price, you’ll need an account with a broker that has access to that deal, meaning one of the banks that is part of the selling syndicate. These will be brokers that also have corporate finance divisions, such as Merrill Lynch, Wit Capital or Salomon Smith Barney, or discount brokers that have signed a distribution alliance with a traditional investment bank, such as E-Trade, Schwab or DLJDirect. The names of the banks on the syndicate for any deal can be found by looking at the “Underwriting” section in a company’s SEC registration. Source: CBS Marketwatch

Online trading explodes

According to Forrester Research, online investors had 3 million accounts at Internet brokerages by the end of 1997. That number is expected to grow to 14.4 million by 2002.

Who cares why the robot talks

If you’re pitching your business to potential investors, don’t drone on about technology. Entrepreneurs who are scientists or engineers are prone to making this error. Once you lose an investor’s attention, it can be hard to get it back. The technical aspects of your company’s product or service are important — inasmuch as they deliver competitive advantages, open new markets or change the balance of power in an existing market — but to investors, technology is not important in and of itself.

Spend no more than three to five minutes discussing technology.

Also, have audio/visual support. Making a presentation with no visual support is difficult for all but the most gifted of speakers. Without a visual outline, if investors get distracted for even a moment, they may lose the context of the speaker’s remarks.

The most effective presentations are accompanied by 10 to 15 slides, overhead projections or handouts that punctuate your remarks and give the listener a constant source of context. Don’t get too obsessed with visual aids, though. While slides or handouts provide the basic outline for an investor presentation, entrepreneurs must be prepared to deviate from the script when necessary. Investors want a chief executive who is fast on his or her feet and not tied to a piece of paper. You’ve got to show you can dance. Source: CBS Marketwatch

Step one: Create a business

Here are the steps to take before you even think of calling on investors:

1. Write a business plan. Most investors report they never read them, but they still want to see that you’ve done the work. It’s through writing a business plan that you gain the ability to present your deal and answer questions with the kind of conviction that gets investors to reach for their checkbooks. Once you’ve put the plan together, write a two-page executive summary. You’ll need it when investors ask you to send them “a quick write-up.”

2. Have an accountant prepare historical financial statements. You can’t talk about the future without accounting for the past. Internally generated statements are OK, but investors want the comfort of knowing an independent expert has verified the information. In addition, if you’re taking less salary than you think you deserve, historical financial statements are the best way to document the company’s accrued liability to you.

3. Line up references. An investor may want to talk to your suppliers, customers, potential partners or your team of professionals, among others. When an investor asks for permission to contact references, promptly answer with names and numbers; don’t leave him or her waiting for a week.

4. Figure out your sizzle. Investors will ask what you do. Give them a memorable answer that they can repeat to other investors. The founders of Xyplex Networks, a Littleton, Mass., company with a difficult name and an even more difficult-to-understand technology, said to investors, “We are the company that turbocharges your DEC computer.”

5. Get warm-body introductions. You must decide what kind of investors are right for you. But once you’ve made this decision and isolated your prospects, get personal introductions to as many as possible. Cold calling is the most difficult way to go.

You pay them

Outsourcing your payroll? Consider these tips from Entrepreneur.com:

1. Check out the payroll service company’s reputation. Ask for references, including current clients, accountants and bankers.

2. Ask about regulatory compliance. Good services will have brochures and other information indicating their knowledge of government regulations and requirements, such as the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS) and various state requirements — important if you have employees in more than one state.

3. Confirm the service’s financial stability. Be sure the company can maintain up-to-date processing abilities and regulatory compliance.

4. Consider the features and services available. In addition to calculating taxes and preparing checks, payroll services offer a wide range of services, including payroll deductions, direct deposit and automated time clocks, which collect data that is fed electronically into the payroll system to calculate wages and provide additional labor reports.

Do you work here?

To keep your independent contractors from being considered employees:

  • Don’t provide employee benefits or withhold taxes for independent contractors.

  • Pay independent contractors on a per-project basis, rather than hourly, and have your contractor bill you with an invoice.

  • It’s helpful if independent contractors have an entrepreneurial stake in their business — for example, they (rather than you) pay their expenses. Keep copies of paperwork with their company logo to show the contractor is an independent business.

  • Have a contract documenting their independent contractor status; be careful about termination and exclusivity provisions that may be more suitable to an employee contract.

  • Watch your language: Say “retained” and “discontinued” instead of “hired” and “fired.” You are the “principal” instead of “employer.” Contractors are paid fees, not salaries or wages.

  • If you run a newspaper ad for a contractor, place it in the “Business Opportunities” section and keep a copy for your records.

Give me credit

A typical credit policy will address the following points:

Credit limits. Establish dollar figures for the amount of credit you are willing to extend, and define the parameters or circumstances.

Credit terms. If you agree to bill a customer, when will payment be due? Your terms may also include early payment discounts and late payment penalties.

Deposits. You may require customers to pay a portion of the amount due in advance.

Credit cards and personal checks. Your bank is a good resource for credit card merchant status and for setting policies regarding the acceptance of personal checks.

Customer information. What do you want to know about a customer before making a credit decision? Typical points include years in business, length of time at present location, financial data, credit rating with other vendors and credit reporting agencies, information about the individual principals of the company and how much they expect to purchase from you.

Documentation. This includes credit applications, sales agreements, contracts, purchase orders, bills of lading, delivery receipts, invoices, correspondence, etc.

Monday, 22 July 2002 09:38

Newsclips

High employment

When Web designer Mozes Cleveland & Co. merged with Quest4Mation, an electronic commerce company, last March to form DigitalDay, it employed a mere 44 employees. Today, DigitalDay employs 77 at its new Fairlawn headquarters.

And that number is growing almost daily, says Chairman Howard Cleveland, who admits he's challenged to learn the names of the three or four new faces he sees come into his office weekly. Surprisingly, though, Cleveland, who expects to employ 100 by the end of next month, says he hasn't had a difficult time finding qualified IT workers.

He says now that the Y2K scare is over, there's an influx of IT people looking for secure positions.

Plus, Cleveland says, "we have all the good projects here -- if you want to stay in the 'Silicon Tundra' of Northeast Ohio."

Breaking away

One of Akron's most successful tips groups, LeTip of the Summit (see SBN April 2000) has broken from its national affiliation to go out on its own. Members of the Akron chapter of LeTip International decided to do away with their national affiliation (and membership dues) to form TEEM (Together Everyone Earns More).

The acting president of the new group is Jim McKee, who owns Special Touch Carpet Cleaners in Akron. McKee says that by breaking away, members will be able to keep their dues in the local community, rather than supporting the activities of LeTip's international headquarters in San Diego and its 400 local chapters.

Since the group's formation three months ago, TEEM members have traded business leads amounting to about $1.7 million in sales, McKee says. As members of Le Tip, the year-to-date total in January 2000 was about $1.5 million, he adds. It pays to be entrepreneurial.

Easy learning

When Akron public relations agency Hitchcock Fleming & Associates wanted to publicize its 60th year in business last month, it threw a birthday bash for clients and media in true marketing fashion.

The agency invited 350 Akron business executives to tour its Wolf Ledges Parkway offices, which had been transformed to display the company's successes throughout each of its six decades in business. Attendees toured each area, which had been creatively decorated with company nostalgia from the '40s through the '90s. But the history lesson was an easy pill to swallow, as the room was also furnished with martini bars and tables of food catered by Moe's Restaurant of Cuyahoga Falls.

The lesson we learned was not a history lesson, though. How do you force-feed your clients marketing material? You'll certainly get their attention if your throw in a couple cosmopolitans and a steel drum band.

Monday, 22 July 2002 09:36

Newsclips

Cyber volunteerism

Looking for ways to perform community service? Now you can find outlets on the Web. A joint venture between Business Volunteers Unlimited (www.businessvolunteers.org) and Cleveland Live (www.cleveland.com) offers volunteer matching services for those in the Northeast Ohio area.

People seeking volunteer opportunities can log onto one of two sites -- www.businessvolunteers.org/involved.htm or www.cleveland.com/volunteer -- and find specific information that matches personal interests with volunteer needs. Nonprofit organizations can also use the service to list opportunities.

Microloans available

Would-be entrepreneurs in search of start-up funds can set their sights on the Working for Empowerment through Community Organizing Microloan Fund. WECO is accepting applications for the loans from those looking to launch start-up businesses or expand current ones. Eligible applicants are:

  • Residents of Cuyahoga County;

  • In business with 10 or fewer employees;

  • At a low to moderate income level;

  • Requesting up to $7,500.

For more information, contact WECO at (216) 881-9650.

Walking for charity

Put on your walking shoes. On Oct. 22, the Northeast Ohio chapter of the ALS Association will hold the Walk To D'Feet ALS to raise funds for local patient services. The 5K walk will begin at 9 a.m. on the Cuyahoga Valley Tow Path near Boston Mills.

Commonly known as Lou Gehrig's Disease, ALS occurs when motor nerve cells in the nervous system cease functioning and die. Although the mind remains unaffected, muscle control is completely lost and total paralysis sets in. The life expectancy of an ALS patient averages two to five years. For more information on the walk, contact the ALSA office at (216) 592-2572.

State of the printed word

It doesn't seem that long ago that doomsayers predicted the Internet would spell the end of the printed word. Downloadable news, books and magazines would make paperbacks, magazines and newspapers obsolete. Well, if you're reading this, the doomsayers were undoubtedly wrong.

But, for those who still retain concerns, there's an online forum, www.espeakonline.com, for people who still move headfirst toward the digital future with reservations. The site is focused on being a resource for people concerned about the Internet, its impact on writing, publishing, information marketing and communication -- in print and on the Web. Just one quick reminder: you have to write your questions in virtual ink.

60 seconds to savings

How can taking a one-minute quiz help your business obtain a federal tax deduction that might have otherwise go unclaimed? Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does my company have excess, nonmoving inventory?

  • Do we have return, cancelled orders, seconds, slow sellers or discontinued models, styles or colors?

If the answer is yes to either of the above, your company can earn a federal income tax deduction by donating those items to charity. In some cases, the deduction can be as much as twice cost. For more information on how this can apply to your business, contact the National Association for the Exchange of Industrial Resources at (880) 289-4551.

Healthy choice

There's a direct correlation between the economy and benefits offered by employers, according to a survey by RewardsPlus. It's no coincidence that health coverage has improved among most companies as the economy has remained robust in recent years. The survey found:

  • 82 percent of small business employers offer medical coverage to their employees;

  • 40 percent offer a dental plan;

  • 10 percent offer a vision plan.

What's that mean for your firm? If you're among the thousands of smaller business owners, you should know what your competitors are up to ... and realize in a tight labor market that it's no longer just about salaries. Benefits often dictate whether you'll land that prospect or not.

Singing the blues

Forget Napster and other digital music dilemmas of this new century. Nashville-based Broadcast Music Inc. -- a professional association for musicians -- is trying to spread the word that piping background music into your place of business may be a violation of copyright law.

"Many people know that buying a copy of a movie doesn't give them the legal right to open up a movie theater or play a movie in their business," explains Tom Annastas, BMI vice president of general licensing. "Similarly, music is an intellectual property, and various uses of that property entitle the creator to additional compensation."

Enforcement of the law was not addressed in a recent BMI press release, although the organization mentioned a single licensing deal with BMI would allow businesses access to "millions" of songs. Nevertheless, we don't expect business owners to start mailing checks to Nashville any time soon.

Eminent domains

Thought you had your company's Web image protected by snatching up the .com, .net and .org domain names? Think again. CentralNic Ltd. recently launched .us.com and .eu.com, two new domain name registry options available through the British company.

CentralNic hopes these options will help level the domain name playing field by allowing companies and Web geeks alike to register favorite domain names, which may already be taken when it comes to popular top-level domain names with .com and .net. Since the new names come with a price tag of $99 for a two-year registration, get ready to hand over another $200 to keep others from running away with your company's Web identity.

What's luck got to do with it?

As Congress and the president negotiate how best to spend the seemingly ever-expanding federal budget surplus, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland Vice President and Economist David Altig warns that economic policy successes since the mid-1990s are more a matter of luck than anything else. He also believes they could evaporate as quickly as they arrived.

In an article titled "Fiscal Policy and Fickle Fortune: What's Luck Got to Do with It?" Altig argues that the Bush budget legislation of 1991, largely thought to be a failure, and the much-lauded Clinton proposal were nearly identical. Instead, he argues it was unforeseen forces that have led to today's rosy federal budget picture or, in other words, simple luck.

It may be time for Congress to cross its fingers before figuring out how to spend future fiscal surpluses before they hatch.

Where the Web meets the road

Cuyahoga Falls-based RCS Management Group Inc., in conjunction with Data Direct Inc., is offering a new service to make your clicks and mortar dreams come true. A new subscription-based "Locator Service" allows Web surfers a chance to enter their address and receive a map to a company's nearest physical location, along with its hours, phone numbers, special offers and even turn-by-turn driving directions.

The biggest advantage of the service, however, is that subscribers can capture their Web visitors' physical addresses for demographic profiling and future marketing campaigns.

I spy

If online investing leaves you feeling a bit stressed with all the surfing, clicking and bookmarking needed to make smart investment decisions, a Columbus-based company hopes to melt all those worries away. Adriane Berg's InvsetmentSpy -- designed by software development firm Quantam Axcess -- helps beginner, intermediate and even seasoned investing pros track, manage and research stocks online.

The utility, which was awarded the coveted five-star rating by ZDNet last March, has been dubbed the "Swiss army knife of online investor software" and claims to merge all the information you'll need for smart investing into one easy-to-read interface. The program runs just under $40 and can be downloaded from www.investmentspy.com.

Still climbing

Solon-based Keithley Instruments Inc. was recently added to the Russell 2000 Index of small capitalization stocks following the Frank Russell Co.'s annual adjustment of its U.S. stock indices.

"Recognition on the Russell 2000 Index is further testament to Keithley's growth and acceptance of its long-term strategy," said Chairman, President and CEO Joseph P. Keithley in a prepared statement on the day of the announcement.

It has been a high-flying year for Keithley Instruments, which has generated a lot of Wall Street ink and been a top performer on the New York Stock Exchange, having increased from just more than $4 a share to more than $107 at its highest point during the past year.

Expect disaster

Like any business, America's fastest growing companies are not immune to operational breakdowns or failures that can bring commerce to a halt. However, a recent study by PricewaterhouseCoopers suggests not many are doing enough to prepare for trouble before it happens.

Although 61 percent of executives polled in a recent survey favored having a predisaster program that evaluates threats to their businesses beyond those covered by insurance, only about 30 percent actually had such a program in place. More than half of those polled said they had a plan to deal with disaster only after it occurs.

What slowing economy?

The need for mid-to-upper-level managers, high-level executives and professionals is as intense as ever, according to executives faced with the challenge of finding and hiring of them. However, the Midwest does not have it as bad as some other parts of the country when it comes to the labor crunch. A hiring survey conducted by Management Recruiters International Inc. found 53 percent of executives reported they had plans to increase their mid-to-upper-level management and professional staffs during the second half of the year.

"If recent rumblings that the economy is slowing are true, it is certainly not reflected in the job market," says MRI President and CEO Allen Salikof. Forty-seven percent of Midwest executives expect to hire during the second half of the year, but that figure is expected to fall 5 percent a year from now. Meanwhile, New England seems to be the hardest hit. Nearly 70 percent of executives plan to hire more people this year, while that figure is expected to climb to 86 percent one year from now.