In today’s business environment, a focus on innovation is what helps keep companies relevant, thriving and primed for the future. Without it, your business falls behind, becomes an afterthought and will get passed by someone who can do it better. Innovation is the lifeblood of many corporations and it is something that you have to put a lot of effort and thought into in order to create and maintain that type of environment. Whether it is finding ways to shake up your organization, looking at solutions from different perspectives, or understanding what the customer expects from you next, you have to be willing to try whether you fail or succeed. That is what innovating is all about. Below is a sampling of what three CEOs previously featured on the cover of Smart Business Pittsburgh had to say about developing innovation.
“You have to always be able to challenge somebody to step out of their own bubble and look at it from a customer basis, but also from a very fresh angle. You have to make sure that you don’t get stuck with a certain way of looking at things. You always have to be able to challenge what you do and look at it from a different person’s perspective, a different market perspective, or a different requirements perspective because only then will you be able to overcome these problems and get this aha effect.”
Andreas M. Schulze Ising, president and CEO, Advanced Polymer Technology Corp.
“I’ve always found that the answer always lies with the customer. You have to get close to the customer and you try to understand and gain valuable insights from the customer that no other company can see. The decisions and the directions you take become very clear very quickly around what you should do. You take innovation that is driven by customer needs or customer insights, that’s what I would focus on whether you’re a company that’s doing well or a company that’s in need of a change in strategic direction.”
Sam Liang, president and CEO, Medrad Inc.
“You have to do a little bit of both innovation by design and innovation by discovery. You really have to constantly be redesigning the organization internally to match the customer voice and match the trends that are coming—being able to design things very well—designing systems, designing solutions, designing approaches, but at the same time put yourself in discovery mode. You know what you know, but you don’t know what you don’t know. You have to go out there and try to discover new things, so you need both design and discovery in the innovation process.”
Stephan Liozu, president and CEO, Ardex Americas
- Achieve an aha effect through gaining different perspectives.
- Gain insight from your customer base to form new innovations.
Design and discover new innovations to boost your creative effort.
The perfect storm for sellers in 2012 was the outlook at the end of 2011. Apparently, buyers have been slow to get on board due to lingering concerns about the economy and the European debt crisis. These buyers seem to be ready, set and waiting for this perfect storm to calm down as indicated by January’s data.
According to CapIQ, the number of closed M&A transactions in the United States (including undisclosed values) was 1,418 in January 2011 and 1,014 in December 2011. The first month of 2012 was 1,046, up slightly from December 2011 but down from January 2011. Locally, Northeast Ohio encountered the following closed M&A transactions: 44 in January 2011, 41 in December 2011 and 30 in January 2012. December and January are typically the busiest months of the year when it comes to closed deals. This historical trend would suggest that the rest of the year would be less active, but with private equity needing to invest and with high cash on hand for strategic buyers, conditions are still in place for solid deal making throughout 2012.
Local strategic buyers wasted no time announcing acquisitions in January after completing a handful of acquisitions in December 2011. TransDigm Group Inc. led the acquisitive charge within the manufacturing industry with its $750 million acquisition announcement of AmSafe Global Holdings Inc. from a group controlled by Berkshire Partners LLC and Greenbriar Equity Group LLC. AmSafe had 2011 revenue of approximately $260 million.
Within the real estate industry, DDR Corp. and Blackstone Real Estate Advisors announced the purchase of 47 U.S. shopping centers with a proposed transaction value of $1.43 billion.
Dan Gilbert completed the sports owners “trifecta” with his January purchase of the Cleveland Gladiators as part of the Arena Football League. This adds to his investments in the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Lake Erie Monsters, a minor league hockey team. Gilbert’s Cleveland sports investments, and his investment in the city’s forthcoming casino, solidifies his commitment to the future of Northeast Ohio.
Resilience Capital Partners purchased Weaber Inc., one of the nation’s leading hardwood lumber producers in Lebanon, Pa., employing more than 300 people. Meanwhile, The Riverside Co. ended 2011 with a record 29 completed acquisitions and is not stopping in 2012 as another three acquisitions were completed in January.
Albert D. Melchiorre is the president of MelCap Partners LLC, a middle-market investment banking firm. He is also a director on the ACG Cleveland board. For more information on MelCap Partners, please visit www.melcap.co. For more information about the Association for Corporate Growth, please visit www.acg.org/cleveland.
Deal of the Month
The deal of the month is awarded to TransDigm for announcing its $750 million acquisition of AmSafe Global Holdings. Nicholas Howley, TransDigm’s chairman and CEO, stated that the deal “meets our strategic, operational and value-creation criteria. … Most of AmSafe’s revenues come from highly engineered, proprietary aerospace product with substantial and growing aftermarket content.”
AmSafe is well-known for its proprietary aviation passenger seatbelts and airbags. The company’s products are on nearly all of the world’s airlines with products certified and installed on more than 90 percent of the aircraft produced worldwide. AmSafe is the first and only company to have a seatbelt airbag system installed worldwide on both commercial transport and general aviation aircraft.
Moen Inc., the No. 1 faucet brand in North America, has promoted Tim Bitterman to director of marketing and new product development, Creative Specialties International.
In his new role, Bitterman will lead and direct the marketing, new product development and U.S. quality teams for the Moen accessory business. Since starting at Moen in 2000, Bitterman has advanced quickly through the company. His previous role was group marketing manager for Creative Specialties International.
Positively Cleveland has announced that Michael E. Mulhall has joined the organization as director of partnerships.
Mulhall has worked for more than 20 years in different facets of the tourism industry. He spent 11 seasons with the Cleveland Indians and more than 10 years in the theme park industry.
As the director of partnerships for Positively Cleveland, Mulhall is overseeing a team that is responsible for engaging stakeholders and companies interested in promoting Cleveland as a visitor destination through membership and partnership opportunities.
Cleveland Clinic officials have named Joanne Zeroske as the new president of Marymount Hospital.
Zeroske, a registered nurse with 30 years of experience at Cleveland Clinic, has served as Euclid Hospital’s president for the last three years. Under Zeroske’s leadership, Euclid Hospital earned recognition as a top-performing hospital in The Joint Commission’s new “Top Performer on Key Quality Measures” program.
The Joint Commission recognized Euclid Hospital for achieving excellence in performance on its accountability measures for heart failure, pneumonia and surgical care. Zeroske began her career at Cleveland Clinic in 1982 as a staff nurse in the cardiology post-operative unit.
Incept, a Canton-based conversational marketing firm, has appointed Sam Falletta to president and CEO. The appointment culminates a 15-year career at the company during which Falletta helped grow Incept from 10 employees to 250.
He previously served as president at Incept and led the company to average annual growth of greater than 40 percent. Under Falletta’s leadership, the organization was recognized as one of Northeast Ohio’s top workplaces and the No. 1 midsized company to work for in Canton.
Falletta began at the company in 1997 and has held various leadership positions including vice president/general manager and COO.
GrafTech International Holdings Inc. announced that it has promoted Lionel Batty to the position of president of graphite electrodes and Julian Norley to the position of vice president of corporate research and development.
Batty joined the company in 1983 and has worked across many functions, including operations, customer technical service and quality assurance in both the graphite electrode and the advanced graphite materials businesses.
Batty has been GrafTech’s vice president of corporate R&D since 1999. In this role, he led the development of many of the company’s innovations in recent years.
Stepping into Batty’s previous role is 14-year GrafTech R&D veteran Julian Norley. As the vice president of corporate R&D, he is tasked with directing GrafTech’s global R&D organization.
Previously Norley served as senior corporate fellow. Prior to joining GrafTech, Norley was a materials research scientist at Aircraft Braking Systems and British Petroleum.
Scott Rickert, president and CEO of Nanofilm, was recently named to the Most Influential Nanotechnology Leaders List for 2011 by the NanoBusiness Commercialization Association, a group dedicated to promoting the commercialization of nanotechnology and helping companies bring affordable, life-improving nanotech products to the market.
The honorees include 25 business executives, researchers and government leaders. Nanofilm is a leader in nanofilm technology and self-assembling thin films for a variety of substrates and surfaces.
Andre Thornton experienced a lot of challenges as a professional baseball player. He played for the Indians at a time when they weren’t very good, didn’t draw many fans and played in a stadium that was long past its prime. But Thornton didn’t make any excuses then and he doesn’t play the blame game as the president and CEO at ASW Global LLC. The economy has been tough lately, but Thornton comes into work each day ready to have a great day.
“You have to figure out a way to be competitive and to survive in an ever-changing global marketplace,” Thornton says. “That’s what a leader and his leadership team is always thinking about.”
Here’s what some other leaders we’ve talked to have to say about making things happen during tough times.
“If you can’t articulate, first of all, to yourself and then to your team and then to the prospective audience that you seek, you’re going to grow aimlessly. You’ll grow, but you won’t grow as effectively as you can.”
Frank Fantozzi, president and CEO, Planned Financial Services LLC (December 2011 Cleveland Fast Lane)
“Don’t just meet people and get cards and then send them a mailer on what your company does. Build that relationship immediately.”
Lori DeVore, president and CEO, DeVore Technologies Inc. (March 2009 Cleveland Survival Tactics
“If you look hurried and panicked and ridiculous, [employees] are going to feel the same way. But if you look calm and you say, ‘Here’s how we’re going to get through it,’ and you have a plan and can communicate that, I think you’ll be fine.”
A.J. Hyland, president and CEO, Hyland Software Inc. (February 2009 Cleveland Survival Tactics
Summary: Make sure you’re always working a plan. Take the time to build relationships. Think about how your attitude affects people.
Robert Herjavec’s keen entrepreneurial sense makes him a good judge of character — both of businesses and people. This is obvious to viewers who watch him evaluate the pitches of business hopefuls on the ABC show “Shark Tank.” But on a less visible stage, he’s used this skill to navigate a number of major acquisitions, building and selling several companies.
As founder and CEO of The Herjavec Group, he’s now focused on buying. Based in Mississauga, Canada, the $125 million-and-growing global security and network acceleration services company recently completed its sixth acquisition in seven years. With its staff doubled over last year to about 200 employees, Herjavec says incorporating new employees into his company’s culture has been a challenge.
When you buy a company, he says to immediately evaluate its employees against your needs and make three lists: people you’re definitely keeping, people you’re not and people who fall in between.
“You have to understand why your company is good at what it does and what kind of people fit into your environment, and you go and look for those,” Herjavec says.
Aim for a deeper understanding of potential hires’ values and thus their fit with your own by having multiple people interview them in person. Check their references, talk with their team members and even ask their customers for feedback. Then test them out through a trial workday.
But Herjavec warns to avoid the initial temptation to hire people similar to you that you think you’re going to like.
“You have to be flexible,” he says. “Maybe somebody in the other environment is going to enhance what it is you already have. And then some people aren’t going to fit your environment, aren’t going to enhance it, but my gosh, they’re just such highly, personally motivated people that you’re willing to make the investment to change them and train them.”
To weed out potential hires that make your maybe list, set a timeline for finalizing the decision. The deadline should be before you take over the company. If your evaluation process hasn’t moved them to one of the other two lists by that time, Herjavec says to be brutally honest and go with your gut — they’re a no.
“If you’re not 100 percent sure, then don’t keep them,” he says. “The hardest thing in a culture is indecision. I think people would rather know the hard truth than a positive lie.”
That applies even after you’ve chosen to hire someone, because no evaluation process is foolproof.
“When we realize we’ve hired the wrong person, we don’t spend months trying to figure that out,” Herjavec says. “When someone’s wrong, they’re wrong.”
Give potential hires the opportunity to evaluate their fit with your company, as well, by being clear about your expectations and mission. Then have them interview associates in similar roles to get a hands-on impression.
“Your mission statement is what you live and breathe every day,” Herjavec says. “It’s who you are.”
Once your employee selection is complete, incorporate new employees into your culture as quickly as possible. The Herjavec Group does this by physically taking acquired employees out of their old office environments and bringing them into theirs.
“We find that culture shock, that bucket of cold water, works great because it shakes them up and forces them to change immediately, and they get to experience what it is we do right away,” Herjavec says. “In situations where we haven’t done that, the implementation of change has taken longer because people tend to revert to what they’re comfortable with. Generally, what they’re comfortable with is the things that they know, and what they know is the way they used to do things.”
Be a matchmaker
Robert Herjavec has several general guidelines when considering an acquisition besides culture.
The founder and CEO of The Herjavec Group says to first make sure the company differentiates from your own in a way that benefits your business.
“We look for people who complement something we’re missing,” he says. “Look for complementary businesses either from a product, the coverage, a client base and so on.”
Evaluate the potential company’s client base to avoid one that overlaps too much with your own. More importantly, Herjavec says, make sure clients are satisfied with the company’s performance. To do this, go out and talk directly to customers.
“People try to make shortcuts — they have metrics, questionnaires and all kinds of stuff,” Herjavec says. “It’s one of those things that you have to do. You just have to get on the plane and go see people.”
Also, be wiling to go through a lot of potential deals before finding the right fit — don’t settle.
“We figured out what kind of business we’re looking for, what it has to look like, what we need and we’re not afraid to walk away,” Herjavec says. “I feel no pressure to do a deal.”
How to reach: The Herjavec Group, (905) 306-9948 or www.herjavecgroup.com
Scott Sumser had a moment of doubt as he prepared for his first day at work as president of Athens Foods Inc.
“There’s a sense of pride that you worked hard to get to this point,” Sumser says. “But there was also an enormous amount of anxiety. ‘Hey, can I do this? Have I bitten off more than I can chew?’”
Fortunately for Sumser, his nerves settled and his experience began to kick in.
“You have a bag of experience that you carry around with you,” Sumser says. “It really doesn’t matter what you do. You get to reach into that bag and use your learning from everything.”
Sumser decided the best course of action in leading the 200-employee fillo dough producer was to be what he was, a curious new employee.
Be a sponge
People take the transition too seriously. It’s important to show people that you have aptitude and that you’re in the role for a reason. But I think you really need to be a bit of a sponge. Use your two ears and one mouth proportionally in a new situation. Listen twice as much as you talk. Ask a lot of questions and admit when you don’t know something. You build credibility much faster than feeling like you’ve got to know everything right out of the chute. Further down your life cycle, it’s important to use leadership as a driving force. But initially, it’s better to create those relationships so that people feel like you’re willing to learn and listen rather than just come in and do.
Get to know names
It matters a lot. Everyone is going to know your name and the more you can do to learn theirs, the better impression you’re going to make. One tool I use is we have a plant of 150 to 200 people depending on the season. So I have HR take a picture of everybody who is working here. What I try to do is if I know I’m going to be in the plant, I’ll take a look at their picture. It will tell me what department they are in. It gives me one more tool to make sure I’m sending the right message that everybody, no matter what you do, matters to the success or failure of the company.
Take the stage
It’s probably good to have an all-employee meeting right out of the chute. Otherwise, depending on who you were able to tackle getting to know everybody, there’s going to be somebody who feels like they really didn’t understand who you are. It doesn’t have to be enormously formal and you can still use your one-on-one time and continual learning. But depending on the size of your organization, it’s just important for people to be able to hear you speak and find out what your background is. That kind of squelches a bit of the rumor mill. They hear it from you as far as what you are trying to do.
Be open minded to the current way the team gets things done. Too many leaders come in and try to put their stamp on too many things. It’s best to try to learn. You may think you have a better way to do something, but it may just be your opinion instead of the best way to do it. Do keep good notes for your first 30, 60 and 90 days of all your observations. That really allows you to go back after you feel like you’ve created a good relationship with folks and remember what you saw. You think you’ll remember it at the time, but keeping good notes of what your observations were - good, bad or indifferent - really helps you refresh your memory.
Athens Foods Inc.
Founded: 1958. Athens is the world’s largest producer of fillo dough and fillo products.
Sumser on first impressions: Don’t judge your team too quickly. First impressions are a great data point. But once the smoke clears and people begin to act how they normally act, you get to better understand what people bring to the table. It may align with your initial feeling or it may not.
How to reach: Athens Foods Inc., (216) 676-8500 or www.athensfoods.com
Taking measures to promote employee wellness can save you money.
In fact, a comprehensive study showed that workplace health promotion programs resulted in a 25-30 percent reduction in medical and absenteeism costs, according to a report by the World Health Organization and World Economic Forum.
Kaiser Permanente, a leading health care provider and not-for-profit health plan, uses HealthWorks, a customizable work force health strategy, to help employers take advantage of their benefits and create a corporate wellness plan. Headquartered in Oakland, Calif., the organization added its 15th medical facility within Ohio last month.
“If (companies) make an investment in employee or associate wellness, they’re going to get a substantial return on their investment that not only helps their associates to be healthier but also improves presenteeism and improves the bottom line for their organization because they actually have happy and healthier associates,” says Joseph M. LaGuardia, vice president of marketing, sales and business development for Kaiser Permanente.
Looking to your health planner for guidance and resources is key in taking the first step toward creating a wellness program — identifying employee needs and setting goals accordingly.
For example, member companies of Kaiser Permanente can access a variety of tools such as onsite screenings of employees, worksite wellness activities and online educational resources with HealthWorks.
Also, talk directly to employees, says Carolyn A. Hodges, a HealthWorks consultant at Kaiser.
“Sometimes it’s as easy as polling them and really understanding who your population is,” Hodges says. “What are their health concerns? What would they be interested in?”
After evaluating the wellness needs and goals of your organization, create a committee to handle implementation.
“Developing a wellness committee is integral to the success of a wellness program because they are the ones who are passionate about health and wellness,” Hodges says. “They’ll be the ones to motivate their fellow employees. And if you can, draw on various departments so you have different opinions throughout the organization.”
Then begin enacting programs that further your goals.
“It doesn’t need to be a huge over-the-top initiative,” says Hodges. “Employers can take easy steps: posting hand-washing reminders or reminders to take advantage of free flu shots — just constant reminders. I think communicating to motivate is critical. (Use) different venues: in the lunchroom, through e-mail, making announcements.”
One of the most common wellness goals is weight management. In addition to fresh New Year resolutions, it’s a prominent concern because of its links to serious, sometimes chronic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and hyperlipidemia.
Instead of addressing the negative and often sensitive issue of obesity with your employees, promote positive activities and lifestyle changes that will combat obesity, such as physical activity and healthy eating.
“Instead of a weight-management program, launch a walking program,” Hodges says. “Launch a physical activity challenge. Focus on healthy eating by providing them with a healthy nutrition library and ask employees to bring in fun recipes. Throw a weekly salad bar potluck.”
Creating programs is not enough — you have to get buy-in from your staff. To encourage employee participation, senior management must also actively engage in wellness programs.
“If the employer sponsors a ‘lunch and learn,’ a walking program or a potluck, the employer needs to be there,” Hodges says. “Bring a healthy dish, join a team, show up at the presentation. The importance piece is being physical to the employees. Walk around and talk to employees about how they’re enjoying the program.
“Making sure employees know you care about them and their health will lead to them being engaged in their own health and wellness.”
How to reach: Kaiser Permanente, (216) 479-5547 or http://businessnet.kp.org
A mental note
There’s a mental side to health in addition to the physical, says Joseph M. LaGuardia. Maintaining good mental health will keep your workforce invigorated.
LaGuardia, vice president of marketing, sales and business development for Kaiser Permanente, says to create wellness programs that are fun to engage employees.
“Do something that’s tied in with some of the nonprofits in town,” LaGuardia says. “There are organizations that will give employers guidance on that, like Business Volunteers Unlimited. They’ll actually help you conduct done-in-a-day projects. ... That type of thing helps employers make it more fun to come to work and enjoy what they do.”
Carolyn A. Hodges, a HealthWorks consultant with Kaiser Permanente, says to also give employees timeouts from work during stressful periods.
“If there’s a deadline approaching and you know everyone is stressed out, throw in a potluck or a relaxation event — and be a part of it — so you know that your employees know you care about them, and that they can take time away from the stressful environment,” Hodges says. “That’s showing appreciation for everything your employees are doing.”
Get ready for a busy year
The amount of cash on corporate domestic balance sheets is at an all-time high. The S&P 500 alone has more than $1 trillion. Furthermore, private equity firms have a pent-up supply of capital to invest with more than $450 billion of equity capital to be deployed. With an improved lending market, PE purchasing power is approaching $1 trillion, as well. What does all this mean?
The signs seem to point to a perfect storm on the horizon for 2012. There will still be challenges in 2012, but merger and acquisition activity should be robust.
Lubrizol Corp., TransDigm Group Inc., First Communications Inc., Colfax Corp., Eaton Corp. and PolyOne Corp. all ended the year with completed acquisitions. Lubrizol acquired Active Organics, which provides access to the natural performance ingredients markets for personal and home care. Lubrizol’s other acquisition, Merquinsa Mercados Quimicos S.L., expands its global reach.
TransDigm gave $84 million in cash to Harco Laboratories Inc, which had 2011 sales of $37 million. PolyOne completed its acquisition of ColorMatrix and its intellectual property portfolio of 162 patents and 107 pending applications worldwide for $486 million. The deal structure includes a new secured $300 million Term Loan B, replaces its expiring accounts receivable securitization facility as well as a new $300 million asset-based revolving credit facility and redeemed its 2012 senior notes.
The Riverside Co. wrapped up another busy year with its 25th and 26th acquisitions of 2011. The first, HR Solutions International Inc., is an add-on to its recently acquired portfolio company Avatar International. The second acquisition, Newvision, is a Portuguese customer journey management specialist company. Newvision provides virtual queue management, people counting, self-service, multimedia kiosks and corporate television.
Finally, Rockwood Equity Partners LLC announced a merger between Amistco Separation Products and two divisions of ACS Industries. The new company, called ACS-Amistco, is expected to be a leading manufacturer of separation and mass transfer products.
Albert D. Melchiorre is the president of MelCap Partners LLC, a middle-market investment banking firm. He is also a director on the ACG Cleveland board. For more information on MelCap Partners, please visit www.melcap.co. For more information about the Association for Corporate Growth, please visit www.acg.org/cleveland.
Deal of the Month
The deal of the month is awarded to Linsalata Capital Partners for completing its 100th acquisition since its inception in 1984. These 100 acquisitions are broken down by 43 platform companies and 57 add-ons. On Dec. 19, Linsalata completed the add-on acquisition of Dell Manufacturing Co. Inc. to its portfolio company Whitcraft Group. Whitcraft serves the aerospace and defense industry as a manufacturer of machined and fabricated parts for commercial and military aircraft engines. Dell Manufacturing will increase the manufacturing products on existing and next-generation jet engine platforms.
Kaiser Permanente is one of the nation’s largest not-for-profit health plans, serving more than 8.6 million members. In Northeast Ohio, Kaiser Permanente addresses the health care needs of approximately 130,000 members in a nine-county area. Services are provided by more than 180 Ohio Permanente Medical Group physicians, 3,000 network affiliated physicians and more than 1,900 nonphysician employees. In 2011, Kaiser Permanente of Ohio celebrated 47 years of providing care in Northeast Ohio.
As a health care organization in the 21st century, we have a mission — to provide quality care for our members and their families and to contribute to the well-being of our communities. Our medical decisions are made by physicians and their patients working together. All patient care provided at a Kaiser Permanente Medical Center is united through an innovative, nationally award-winning electronic medical record information system that greatly enhances our physicians’ capacity to offer coordinated care to members — whether in the Ohio region or in any of the other Kaiser Permanente regions.
For more information, contact Kaiser Permanente at www.kp.org.
Meaden & Moore
Meaden & Moore provides a wide variety of accounting and financial management services for the manufacturing industry. The firm’s Manufacturing Services Group is focused on understanding topical issues that affect manufacturers and helping them develop solutions that reduce costs, adapt and implement innovative management systems and re-engineer business processes.
Among the services that Meaden & Moore offers for manufacturers are cost accounting design, analysis and interpretation, product line profitability studies, internal financial reporting, critical performance measures, rate of return and capital expenditure analysis, strategic planning, pricing techniques and strategies, budgeting, cash flow analysis, lease versus buy analysis, and financial transactions.
For 90-plus years, the firm has focused its expertise and resources on providing the highest quality assurance, tax and business consulting services to organizations throughout the country. It recognizes that hard work and dedication translate into building trusted business relationships. With almost 200 professionals, we extend integrity and competence to each of our long-standing client partnerships.
For more information, contact Meaden & Moore at (216) 241-3272 or visit www.meadenmoore.com.
Gallagher Benefit Services
At Gallagher Benefit Services Inc., they believe in the company they keep, for both themselves and their clients. The benefits of business are really about the measurement and success of our relationships. They believe what they do plays an important role. And, they believe that what they do for their clients helps them become more successful, no matter what business they are in or at what stage of business. At Gallagher Benefit Services, there is a rich history of successes with the firm’s people and its clients. For decades, its benefit consultants have created cost-effective solutions that have helped employers maximize the value of their company’s group insurance, retirement plans and executive benefits. When you engage Gallagher Benefits Services, it becomes an extension of your human resources efforts. The firm brings to this role years of experience dedicated to building benefits programs that not only foster employee financial security but also contribute to shareholder value by attracting and retaining talented staff. Their team delivers creative benefit solutions, responsive customer service, effective communication, expert advice, and technology tools and efficiencies. For more information, contact Gallagher Benefit Services at (216) 623-2600 or visit www.gallagherbenefits.com.
Key Bank has worked as the primary financial provider for manufacturing businesses for nearly a century, establishing strong client relationships with advisers who understand the industry, where manufacturers have been and where they are going.
At Key, you’ll work with an adviser who is acutely aware of your market, your competition, your industry’s history and the latest trends. Drawing on a team of product specialists, your adviser will leverage deep expertise and resources, resulting in value-added ideas, insights and solutions in a wide range of fields, including commercial financing, treasury management services, equipment lease financing, foreign exchange, international trade services, interest rate risk management, syndicated finance, investment banking, asset management, private banking and wealth management.
For more information, contact Key Bank at (800) 600-2680 or visit www.Key.com/commercialbanking.
Ohio.net is a full-service Internet technology provider with one of the largest service areas in Ohio and product offerings that range from high-speed access products to security and firewall-related services. With an extensive history in communications, Ohio.net has developed its network with a high level of adaptability and growth for an ever-changing Internet market. The firm has a history that extends longer than 100 years. Owned by Doylestown Communications Inc., Ohio.net is part of a communications consortium including local phone service companies, a cable television company and other Internet providers. Ohio.net has leveraged this background and experience to stay ahead of the technology curve and make development decisions that form steady growth.
For more information, contact Ohio.net at (888) 881-0805 or visit www.ohio.net.
Roetzel & Andress
With more than 220 attorneys and 12 offices located in Ohio, Florida, New York and Washington, D.C., Roetzel & Andress attorneys serve a broad spectrum of clients on a regional, national and international basis. Since 1876, our firm has been guided by the core values of innovation, client service, integrity and excellence in practice. Over the years, the firm has strategically grown in breadth, depth and strength of legal services offered in response to an ever-expanding client base and scope of legal needs.
Our commitment to excellence in client service includes investing the time to listen to our clients and thoroughly understand not just their legal issues but also their organizational structure and business goals. This, in turn, allows us to provide better counsel and offer our clients practical insight in matters that may affect their business. Roetzel’s entrepreneurial philosophy encourages our attorneys to think like our clients — with business minds, ready to embrace new challenges and implement innovative approaches.
For more information, contact Roetzel & Andress at (216) 623-0150 or visit www.ralaw.com.
Taste of Excellence
The products that Taste of Excellence provides — food — come from the earth. By supporting and protecting the health and cleanliness of the earth, the organization can help to ensure safe products for the generations to come. Taste of Excellence’s philosophy is this: We need to work as individuals and be accountable for our own actions. We must instill these behaviors in our children. By doing this, individual efforts will be felt globally. The collaboration of our thoughts, ideas and resources is the key, but it must begin with each of us.
Taste of Excellence has gone green on many levels. At its retail outlets, the company uses Yuban Coffee, which is not grown under rainforest canapés, like most coffee beans. Therefore, there is no deforestation when growing the coffee beans. They use “harvest collection” serviceware, which is a corn-based product and completely biodegradable and compostable. When possible, they use real china or laminate, glassware and flatware to service guests.
A Taste of Excellence donates untouched leftovers to homeless shelters around the area — rather than wasting and throwing them out. In doing this, less food is needed to support these organizations’ demands. Reach Taste of Excellence at (440) 845-0800 or visit www.taste-food.com.
Colortone Staging & Rentals
Colortone Staging & Rentals is a premier audiovisual and staging company with expertise in event design and production. We stage a multitude of events, including corporate meetings, awards banquets, special events, trade shows, concerts, webcasts and videoconferences. CSR also manages audiovisual equipment for hotel properties and operates a full-service equipment rental division. The solutions we provide, combined with our highly trained technical staff, ensure the success of every event. Our quality is unmatched and our attention to detail is unsurpassed.
The staff at CSR consists of the best in the business. Our technicians have an average of five years in the audiovisual and event management business. Their diverse backgrounds allow us to think on our feet, act quickly and provide flexibility and creative problem solving to every situation we find.
The company is also an active member of the community, consistently finding ways to give back where it can. Learn more by calling (440) 914-9500 or visit www.colortone.com.
Founded in 2003, Corporate College offers Northeast Ohio businesses and individuals professional training and development, along with state-of-art meeting and conferencing space. Corporate College delivers training and development solutions for organizations and individuals. It has internal organizational development and content experts, along with a professional external talent bench that includes the best and brightest minds in Northeast Ohio. And with Corporate College’s relationship to Cuyahoga Community College, it is able to provide access into an even more extensive network of faculty and programs to ensure it delivers the right solutions for your unique business needs. When you work with Corporate College, you will transform your organization — and transform yourself. For more information, call (216) 987-2800 or visit www.corporatecollege.com.
Amware’s AmRate Logistic Solutions is a portal on the Web that allows anyone in your company, from your shipping manager to your sales representatives in the field, to quickly and efficiently find the lowest cost carrier based on your own business protocols. AmRate Logistic Solutions is a technology based LTL freight management company. We have taken our knowledge and expertise of more than 75 years experience to develop, in house, our own proprietary software. Our customizable programs save our clients substantial time and money on LTL shipping. What differentiates AmRate from other companies in our industry is that AmRate takes the time to listen to each potential client and customizes a program around what each client is looking for in a 3PL. At no upfront cost, AmRate will analyze a few weeks sample of LTL Carrier Freight Bills to validate a savings opportunity. On average, we are saving our clients upward of 30 percent NET on their LTL Shipping spend. Reach Amware at (866) 997-7371 or visit www.am-rate.com.
All Things Eventful
All Things Eventful, a Bountiful Baskets Inc. company, is the premier source for creative solutions to your special event and gift-giving needs. In 1999, Bountiful Baskets began designing custom-filled baskets and expanded in 2003 to offer special event design and theme decor, as well as promotional products and keepsakes — then, accordingly, updated its trade name and corporate branding over the past year. Whether your company needs décor help for an open house or recognition dinner, giveaways for tradeshows or apparel for employees, or gifts for clients or referral sources, you can count on the integrity, expertise and value of All Things Eventful. For more information, visit www.AllThingsEventful.com.
When Antonio Torres looks at the building and construction industry he sees opportunity. He knows that it’s not what it used to be, but as president of Syntheon Inc., a building science company, he also knows that if you don’t sit on your laurels you can accomplish great and new things.
Torres has taken advantage of the economic times and has used that to find new opportunities within Syntheon to continue to grow the more than $20 million, 200-employee company.
“This is an industry that can change and is an industry that hasn’t changed in a very long time,” Torres says. “It’s a tremendous opportunity and a great place to create jobs and a great industry for the U.S., and I’m very pumped up about delivering it in a new different more efficient way.”
It is that excitement that has allowed Torres and Syntheon to think about the business in different ways.
Smart Business spoke to Torres about how he has grown his company by taking advantage of opportunity.
Be creative. In a company that’s multinational, you end up shifting resources around to the high-growth areas and minimizing the resources in the lower-cost areas as much as you can do that. That’s one good lever that you have. The other thing is, this is a good time to do the development for new products. If you think about the construction industry at the peak, the amount of work that was done on the fact that you could sell everything you made or every contract you signed, kept all your workers busy and your manufacturing plants running at full-tilt. That did not allow for any new development. Now there is a little bit more bandwidth for those manufacturers or contractors to take a look at what’s new out there and integrate that into my options as the economy begins to turn.
The other thing is just keeping everybody focused on the longer-term vision rather than the short-term issues. Especially in a company like this one where what we’re trying to get to requires significant resources and aspiration work, and we’re not where we want to be. Having people focused on the capabilities that need to be developed internally has also been important, and it’s a good time to do it, because there is not external pull for business.
Take advantage of opportunities. The challenge is of course what situation your company is in. If you can afford it, the best thing to do is identify your lead users. These are customers that are very willing to be the first out in the market with a new product, new idea, or a new system, and then work with them closely to pull the technology out of your company.
It gets your customer motivated and then your employees see that even during more difficult times, there are people out there trying to make a difference and trying to change the world, or at least improve it, and everybody stays focused on the future rather than the present. You have to focus beyond tomorrow, especially when we’re in the times that we’re in, because it will get better. We have to be ready when it gets better with different offerings and different capabilities than the ones we had when we got into the quagmire that we’re in today.
Focus on growth and focus on the longer-term vision. Look outward from your company. I think that many times, especially in bigger companies, we tend to internally focus and internally develop answers that while they may be quite advanced and very capable, may not meet the needs of the consumer. You have to get out of the company.
Balance your culture. One culture, I’ll call the growth culture, and the other, optimization culture. The growth culture really looks at what the customers are doing, where codes are going, what’s the government thinking, and how is (the industry) implementing this. That culture really brings a lot of richness to your ability to develop the appropriate right products. The problem with that culture though is that they don’t like to close; they don’t like to implement. They are inquisitive and want to find out what’s happening.
Then you have the optimization culture that says, ‘Hey, enough inventing, enough ideas, we’ve got to sell something. If we don’t sell something, we’re not going to be around.’ So there is a natural tension within a successful company where you have enough of the growth culture people and enough of the optimization folks to keep the company growing.
A lot of the focus of the CEO has to be to protect both of those. If you don’t protect the growth people, they all get fired. They’re seen as inefficient and not creating any value. If you don’t protect the optimization people they’re seen as too narrow-minded, not enough capability, hard to deal with and so on. The CEO has to establish a balance and that’s the key for an innovative culture in a growth culture.
HOW TO REACH: Syntheon Inc., (412) 490-4252 or www.syntheoninc.com