SBN Staff

Finalist – Services

César García lost his mother, father and sister to cancer in a short eight-year period. However he’s maintained an optimistic, driven outlook throughout his life, which he has since dedicated to helping diagnose and treat medical conditions.

García brings more than 37 years of experience in design, manufacturing and commercialization devices to Chatsworth, Calif.-based Iris International Inc. He began working with the company in 2002 to provide product development expertise and has since risen to chairman, president and CEO. During his tenure at the diagnostic products company, he’s launched 15 new products.

Shortly after becoming president in 2003, García spearheaded Iris’ new flagship product, the iQ automated urine microscopy analyzer, which integrated with an automated chemistry analyzer. This product would help the company raise capital, pay down debt and strengthen Iris’ balance sheet. Revenue rapidly grew, and García led the growth strategy that still drives unit sales and has resulted in 75 percent dominance over U.S. market share.

This is just one example of García’s efforts to provide differentiated diagnostic solutions to improve laboratory productivity and efficiency. García also has expanded the company’s focus to personalized medicine with the acquisition of a molecular diagnostics company.

In addition to his work to improve health care via Iris, García serves on the boards for the Advanced Medical Technology Association and Alameda, the diagnostics industry not-for-profit representative. He supports charitable organizations such as Toys for Tots and Walk for the Cure with Diabetes.

He also promotes health and happiness for his employees, supporting programs such as Health Miles, offering free membership in Employee Health Club, providing tuition reimbursement and facilitating on-site language classes and tutoring.

How to reach: Iris International Inc., www.proiris.com

Monday, 22 July 2002 10:06

In brief

Should it come as any surprise that parking was among the few sour notes expressed in a survey of downtown retailers, building owners and employees about the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership's recent efforts to improve the area?

Of the 1,063 who responded, more than 40 percent said parking has gotten worse over the past three years. The biggest culprit: the cost of parking during the day. The problem also has been tagged by more than half of the respondents as a priority for the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership in the coming year.

Meanwhile, 63 percent of the retailers, 62 percent of the property owners and 57 percent of downtown employees said the downtown-based business association is doing either a good or excellent job.

And then there's the city's cleanliness. Roughly half of the respondents rated downtown's cleanliness as good or excellent. All told, 82 percent of the property owners, 79 percent of the retailers and 73 percent of the employees said the area is cleaner or significantly cleaner since the organization launched its Downtown Ambassadors cleaning program last spring.


'Anything but rosy'

That's how the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership described the potential consequences for downtown Pittsburgh if the so-called Plan B for new baseball and football stadiums wasn't approved.

Just before a last-ditch negotiating session between sports-team officials and local government leaders and the final vote that did, in fact, approve a plan for new stadiums, the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership offered its own board endorsement.

"We believe that downtown Pittsburgh, the center of our region, truly is at a crossroads," wrote PDP board Chairman George Warner. "Unless we take a proactive approach to investing in our future now, the future may turn out to be anything but rosy, not only for downtown, but for the region as a whole. We applaud the efforts of Mayor Murphy and County Commissioners Cranmer and Dawida for showing foresight and leadership to develop Plan B."

As it stands, then, rosy it is.


That's one way to keep business from leaving Pittsburgh

When the CEO Venture Fund III agreed to invest $2 million in Durham, N.C.-based Demeter BioTechnologies Ltd. (OTC: BBLDBOT), the fund's principals offered one minor caveat: The company would have to move its headquarters and primary operations to Pittsburgh.

This is among the first reversals of a trend that seems to continually drain the region of many promising upstarts. And it's also being viewed by many in the high-tech community as another shot in the arm for Pittsburgh's fledgling bio-tech community.

"This funding from CEO Fund culminates many months of effort to insure the financial stability of the company and to provide the resources to accelerate the company's product development efforts," says Richard Ekstrom, president of Demeter BioTechnologies. "We are very encouraged about our progress in developing a possible treatment for prostrate cancer. We believe we can now achieve our goal to begin clinical trials for our first application during the first half of 1999.

And, he adds, "Pittsburgh is a very livable city."

A $2 million incentive no-doubt makes it even more livable. But only time will tell.


When you can't see your desk through the mess...

If you had to sift through piles of paper on your desk just to find this publication, you likely are the perfect candidate for organizational guru Sylvia Jessy's new book, "Organized Chaos: The Key You Need to Declutter, Organize & Simplify Your Life."

The book, named after her Pittsburgh-based company, no-doubt will aptly characterize your organizational style-or lack thereof, and it offers a host of solutions regardless of your problem. But as Jessy points out in her self-published book, it's never an overnight process.

"Being organized is not something that takes a long time to achieve," she says. "Decluttering the piles or rooms we've junked up, however, may take a lot longer. But remember they didn't get junked-up overnight."

The question she says you should ask yourself when assessing your level of organization is, "When you look at your environment, do you see opportunity or obstacles? The difference between these two is that opportunities can allow us to be passionate about doing something while moving us closer to our goals. Obstacles, on the other hand, are standing in the way of achieving our goals. Obstacles can be opportunities run amok."

To order your copy, call (412) 362-0793 or send e-mail to OrganizedChaos@Juno.com.

Monday, 22 July 2002 10:03

In Brief

The following companies have been selected as winners for the first annual Medical Mutual Pillar Award for Community Service. They will be honored Dec. 3 at an awards banquet at Executive Caterers at Landerhaven, and featured in the December issue of SBN.

Honorees, in alphabetical order, are:

  • Arnold & Co. Communications, Beachwood, full-service marketing agency;

  • Cleveland Grand Prix Charities Inc., Cleveland, auto-race organizer and fund-raiser;

  • Cohen & Co., Cleveland, regional accounting and consulting firm;

  • Conley Canitano & Associates, Mayfield Hts., information technology firm;

  • Connecting Touch & Wellness Center Inc., Cuyahoga Falls, massage therapy clinic;

  • Mr. Hero/Restaurant Developers Corp., Independence, food service company;

  • PPG Industries Inc., Barberton, specialty chemicals manufacturer;

  • Public Relations Partners Inc., Cleveland, public relations firm;

  • Ross Equipment, Cleveland, aerial work platform sales and rentals;

  • Saltz, Shamis & Goldfarb, CPA, Akron, regional accounting and financial services firm;

  • WKYC TV-3, Cleveland, television station.

    "Our panel of judges did an outstanding job of sorting through a large pile of strong applications, and we're pleased with the diversity of the honorees and their community service agendas," said Bob Rosenbaum, editor of SBN and an organizer of the Pillar Award program. "If the judges expressed one common feeling, it's regret that we had to limit the number of winners."

    For details of their award-winning community service programs, look for special coverage in the December issue of SBN.


    Heading toward one-stop energy shopping

    At the October Corporate Club breakfast, local business execs learned that those who survive the looming energy deregulation shakeout will need to provide more for consumers than lower energy bills.

    That, according to guest speaker Garry Regan, president of North Coast Energy Inc., may include a transformation from natural gas and oil suppliers to total energy providers-complete with one bill for several services. It's something North Coast Energy plans to undertake either through a partner company or an acquisition.

    "We have a unique ability because we start at the wellhead," said Regan. "We own the resource." Natural gas, he says, is the fuel predominantly used to make electricity.

    But consumers shouldn't expect to see less expensive energy prices just because of increased competition. "There is no glut of oil," Regan said. "That's a perception. This country is in an energy crisis."

    While new technology may improve the efficiency of how energy providers explore for and produce oil and natural gas, it won't change what's already in the ground. "We have a gas pump mentality, " he said. "It (natural gas and oil) is a finite resource. I don't think you and I are going to find drastic changes economically, because as technology improves, we'll have to spend more money to drill."

    The next Corporate Club breakfast, of which SBN is a sponsor, features Bill Sanford, president of fast-growing Steris Corp. The events are held on Tuesday mornings, with breakfast at 7 a.m. and the speaker at 7:30. Cost is $25 a person.

    Other dates and speakers are:

    • Jan. 12, 1999: David Burner, chairman and CEO, BFGoodrich Co.

    • Feb. 9, 1999: Michael Salkind, president, Ohio Aerospace Institute

    • March 9, 1999: Robert Rawson, partner-in-charge, Jones, Day, Reavis & Pogue

    For more information and reservations, call Executive Caterers at Landerhaven, at (440) 449-0700.


    Ups and Downs

    Downs to the Fed. Greenspan's quarter-percent interest rate cut didn't create the psychological boost expected. Don't be surprised to see the knife again soon-either to satisfy Wall Street or to fight off an investor revolt.

    Downs to the IMF for a good imitation of Chicken Little. Whether its gloomy forecast for the world economy proves right or not, isn't the organization supposed to help prop up troubled economies instead of burning cash in the back room?

    Ups to the U.S. budget surplus-$70 billion. But how to use it... lower the national debt? Pay the independent counsel's expense account? Or hold onto this mythical pile of cash until Wall Street settles down.

    Downs to Long-Term Capital Management, which runs the hedge fund that needed a $3.5 billion bailout-helping to spark the massive third-quarter sell-off. We get it; it's a hedge against having any money to lose when the market goes bad.

    Downs to the Nikkei. You think the Dow is crazy.

    Ups to Gliatech for reiterating a commitment to the city where it was born. The bio-med firm nixed a lucrative deal from North Carolina's Research Triangle to stay in Greater Cleveland. Anybody listening over at BP?


    Let my people go

    Have you ever grown weary of watching your employees trotting off to use the facilities every hour on the hour? Ever considered cracking down on what you suspect to be bogus breaks? You'd better proceed with caution, lest you inadvertently drive your health-care spending higher.

    According to a new book from Cornell University Press, Void Where Prohibited: Rest Breaks and the Right to Urinate on Company Time, companies that regulate controls on bathroom visits run the risk of major illness. That could eventually lead to higher health-care premiums, to say nothing of the possible exposure to legal liability.

    Authors Marc Linder and Ingrid Nygaard, respectively a labor lawyer and urogynecologist, note that while federal and state regulations compel most employers to provide rest room facilities for employees, they don't force any company to permit employees access to them. The authors point out that workers prevented from emptying their bladder as necessary can develop a syndrome which they call "line-worker's bladder," which can in turn lead to severe health complications, including urinary infections and even heart disease.

Editor's note: For our cover story of the 99 greatest moments in 99 years of business, check the Cleveland page under the Get Local link at left. Here are some local highs and lows, with assistance from George Knepper, retired Distinguished Professor of History Emeritus at The University of Akron.


1900: Firestone Tire and Rubber Co. is founded by Harvey S. Firestone, and production begins with 12 employees. It grows to become Akron’s third major rubber company, after B.F.Goodrich (founded in 1870) and Goodyear (1898).

1905: Akron becomes the world leader in tire and rubber products.

1906: Firestone tires chosen by Henry Ford for the first mass produced automobiles.

1913: The worst flood in Akron’s history destroys the Ohio Canal.

1913: Buchtel College becomes The University of Akron.

1926: Dr. Waldo Semon, a Goodrich scientist, invents polyvinyl chloride (PVC), beginning a multibillion-dollar worldwide vinyl industry.

1929: Akron’s population peaks at 255,000 people.

1929: Goodyear builds the world’s largest airship dock and construction begins on the first rigid airship, the Goodyear Zeppelin.

1935: The first Akron Soap Box Derby is held.

1935: United Rubber Workers (URW) is founded at the Portage Hotel.

1937: Firestone is the first to sign a collective bargaining agreement with URW.

1937: Synthetic rubber is invented by BFGoodrich scientists, a crucial development that aids Allied victory after WWII cuts off the supply of natural rubber.

1940: The Rubber Bowl is built.

1943: Goodyear Aircraft Division completes a two-year ramp-up, from zero to 33,000 employees.

1950: The New Union Depot is built at the end of the railroad era. It now houses the Black Cultural Center at The University of Akron.

1957: Downtown redevelopment begins with construction of Cascade Plaza.

1961: Grant Washington Urban Renewal District becomes the first of many urban renewal projects in Akron.

1967: The University of Akron becomes a state university, allowing it to greatly enlarge services.

1967: Liquid Crystal Display is developed by James Ferguson at Kent State University’s Liquid Crystal Institute.

1970: On May 4, the Ohio National Guard shoots into a crowd of Vietnam War protesters at Kent State University, killing four students and wounding 13.

1973: The state of Ohio pays $4 million (a $2.5 million profit) to 42-year-old David Brennan for land in the Cuyahoga Valley, enabling a successful attorney to become an empire-building industrialist.

1974: Congress establishes the Cuyahoga Valley National Recreation Area (including the former Brennan land) as an urban park under the National Park Service.

1975: Following hints about plant closings, rubber production in Akron begins a 10-year period of steep decline.

1986: B.F.Goodrich sells its tire business (to Michelin) and focuses on aerospace components and polymers.

1987: Akron is selected as the site for the National Inventors Hall of Fame, sparking a slow but steady increase in construction, diversification and morale.

1992: Four years after being purchased by Bridgestone, Firestone’s corporate headquarters moves to Nashville.

1997: The Canton/Akron Indians move into the newly built Canal Park stadium.

1998: BFGoodrich, the Rubber City’s first rubber company, announces its planned departure, an announcement that has far more symbolic impact than economic.

Monday, 22 July 2002 10:00

Great moments in Cleveland business

1901: Alexander Winton, widely considered the first manufacturer of passenger cars for the general market, introduces his two-cylinder automobile engine.

1903: Alwin and Theodore Ernst open an accounting office in downtown Cleveland, beginning the firm that would later become the worldwide accounting firm of Ernst & Young LLP.

1904: Cleveland Cap Screw Co., a forerunner of TRW Inc., produces a new type of automobile valve that greatly enhances the durability of engines, the first of many technological innovations.

1918: Aviation designer Glenn Martin produces Cleveland’s first airplane, the MB-2 bomber. He later relocates to Baltimore. Despite several mergers in the decades since, his name still lives on in Lockheed Martin, the nation’s biggest defense contractor.

1921: George Crile and three other doctors establish the Cleveland Clinic Foundation.

1927: The 52-story Terminal Tower opens, reigning for decades as the tallest building between New York and Chicago.

1928: Louis Seltzer appointed editor of the Cleveland Press. For the next 38 years, he is arguably the most powerful man in Cleveland, controlling what is perhaps its most influential institution. The paper closed in 1982.

1929: Cyrus Eaton consolidates his steel holdings into Republic Steel Corp., the country’s third-largest steel company. He would soon lose most of his $100-million fortune in the Depression.

1936: A sit-down strike at a General Motors’ Fisher Body plant on Coit Road serves as a catalyst for the mass unionization of auto workers nationally.

1937: More than 40 years after he left Cleveland, the body of John D. Rockefeller is returned for burial in Lakeview Cemetery.

1947: A forerunner of NASA establishes the Lewis Research Center near Hopkins Airport. It would later become a significant producer of spin-off research for industry.

1947: A merger of Mather family’s iron ore interests creates the second largest ore holdings in the country, after U.S. Steel.

1949: Cleveland drafts a comprehensive general plan (replacing the elegant Group Plan of 1903) to guide downtown development, representing, as one historian later observed, “the triumph of the City Efficient over the City Beautiful.” It was still being used as the blueprint until well into the 1980s.

1959: St. Lawrence Seaway opens, providing a direct water link between Cleveland and the Atlantic Ocean, and sparking considerable investment in port facilities. Predictions of booming international trade to and from the city prove considerably inflated.

1969: Cuyahoga River catches fire, resulting in nationwide ridicule, but touching off sustained efforts to clean up the river and the body of water into which it flows, Lake Erie.

1967: The Cleveland Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Cleveland Growth Board merge, prompting the successor, the Greater Cleveland Growth Association, to label itself the largest local chamber of commerce in the country.

1972: Community activist Ray Shepardson organizes protests the razing of three vintage Euclid Avenue theatres: the State, the Ohio and the Allen. The corporate community later provides seed funding to restore what is eventually named Playhouse Square. While the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Gateway grab headlines some 20 years later, this is the beginning of Cleveland’s downtown turnaround.

1973: The NAACP files a federal lawsuit claiming discrimination in Cleveland’s public schools, leading to the 1976 busing order by Judge Frank Battisti—marking steep decline in a once-respected urban school district.

1978: The City of Cleveland defaults on its long-term debt, the first major American city to do so since the Great Depression.

1986: To the chagrin of mysterious powers in New York City, Cleveland is selected as the site for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I.M. Pei’s impressive, if impractical, structure opens nine years later.

1995: The resurgent Cleveland Indians win the American League pennant for the first time in 41 years.

Monday, 22 July 2002 10:00

In Brief

Want to get ahead? Talk to your peers.

Networking with others in the same field is instrumental in achieving professional success, say a vast majority of 1,400 CFOs queried in a 1998 Accountemps survey.

The survey, conducted by an independent research firm, shows 80 percent of respondents list networking as "very important" or "somewhat important" in furthering their careers.

Not only can networking be a source for locating job openings, but trade associations and community groups can provide avenues for executives to prove their leadership ability, expand their skills and knowledge and increase their visibility in the community, says Menlo Park, Calif.-based Accountemps Chairman Max Messmer.

"Networking opportunities can be uncovered by conducting research on the Web, reading local newspapers and business journals and contacting associations for event schedules," suggests Brad Beach, area manager at the Worthington Accountemps office.

So go ahead, fatten that Rolodex. Maybe it really is who you know.


But how does the view measure up?

The parade earlier this winter celebrating John Glenn's return from space sent one downtown Columbus hotel on a mission of fun.

DoubleTree Guest Suites human resources director Janetta Tischer let her lighter side get the better of her when she and some staff devised a "Welcome Home Senator Glenn" banner to flash along the parade route. At Tischer's suggestion, the group added a second, arguably more attention-grabbing banner reading: "Our suites have more square feet than NASA's space shuttle."

"We just wanted to have fun with it. We weren't trying to sell the hotel. We just wanted to get a smile, and we did," Tischer says.

Not only were passersby visibly amused by the banner, but when Sen. Glenn and his wife rode by, they apparently saw it, too.

"Annie read the sign and turned around and gave us a thumbs up," Tischer says.

Although Tischer didn't research the claim on the suite's dimensions, SBN checked it out and, for the record, the hotel's biggest suites, with more than 1,200 square feet, would far surpass the shuttle's three-level crew compartment. It has 224 square feet on the forward and aft flight decks and middeck, which accommodated Glenn and six other Discovery crew members, according to NASA's Web site.

In fact, if the suites had no gravity, Glenn might think he was in a palace, comparatively speaking. The 26,700 cubic feet in DoubleTree's largest suite is 10 times the volume of the 2,625-cubic-foot crew compartment cabin.

Now that's traveling in space.


Tricks of the trade

The magic continues for a local business owner whose retail sales are growing-even without a storefront.

It's been a year since Steven Kline, president of The Magic Connection, closed his North Columbus retail store after seeing the response garnered from an online catalog added to his Web site www.magicconnection.com [See "The magic touch," SBN, February 1998]. Since then, retail sales have increased 27 percent and make up more than half of his $350,000 to $450,000 in annual revenues, which also come from his magic performances. This time last year, retail sales accounted for only a quarter of his business.

"We are shipping [products] overseas every other day-today to Portugal, tomorrow France, and we just shipped to Hong Kong and Egypt," Kline says.

The Web site-which receives 40,000 hits per month-enables Kline to run his retail business while he's performing, a plus considering he's often out of town. He was scheduled to do 29 shows in December alone.

"When I'm on the road, my product will ship from my vendors," he says, noting that he'll use his laptop to notify them of orders when he travels to El Salvador this month and Hong Kong in March. "I send e-mail to the vendor; he ships for me. It's an extra cost to me, but I don't lose the sale by not being in Columbus, Ohio."

Monday, 22 July 2002 09:58

News clips

searchable "

The secret of success

William J. O’Neil claims to know the secret of success. At the Entrepreneur Of The Year Institute, held late last year in Palm Springs, Calif., as part of Ernst & Young’s well-known award program, the founder and chairman of Investor’s Business Daily ticked off 10 traits.

“Anybody can succeed in this country,” explains O’Neil. “But every successful person we’ve dealt with shares some, if not all, of these traits. It’s easy to be successful. It’s another thing to stay successful.”

1. How you think is everything. “Always be positive,” says O’Neil. “It’s not what happens to you; it’s how you react to it.”

2. Set goals and write them down. “If you don’t set definite goals, you’ll never get there.”

3. Take action. “Never be afraid to get started now. You can’t succeed if you wait. That decision making capacity is imperative; decision and action go hand in hand.”

4. Never stop learning. “Keep reading,” he suggests. “Readers tend to become leaders.”

5. Be persistent and work hard. “It is only when you outsell the other guy that you help your own company.”

6. Learn to analyze details. “Get all the facts and don’t be afraid to learn from your mistakes.”

7. Focus your time and money. “It’s the extra work at night and on the weekends that makes you successful. No 9-to-5er will ever be successful.”

8. Innovate. “Be different. If your competitors are doing things one way, there’s a good chance you can succeed by doing it another.”

9. Deal and communicate with people effectively. “Business is nothing but dealing with people. It can be learned, like playing the piano or golf. You need to be able to communicate with and motive others if you want to succeed.”

10. Be honest, dependable and take responsibility. “If you’re honest with yourself, your employees and your customers, it creates credibility. Otherwise, the other keys to success won’t even matter.”


Stacking the deck

If you aren’t a bridge or poker player, you may have overlooked “The Shuffle,” which holds the distinction of creating some of the smallest advertising space we’ve ever seen: the faces of playing cards.

Cleveland’s Salem Communications & Marketing Inc.,which first sold ads onto The Cleveland Shuffle in 1992 (the back has a photo of a local scene) has expanded its line of souvenir coupon card decks to include Key West and Orlando. A recent edition of The Cleveland Shuffle contained advertisements ranging from restaurants to T-shirt shops to exterminators.

Where the workers aren't

A recent survey of owners and CEOs of small and medium-sized companies across the United States, conducted by The Alternative Board, revealed a problem that will at least make you feel like you’re in good company. Fully 70 percent of the respondents said their biggest problem is a shortage of qualified workers.


www.checkthese.com

From the “I Guess There’s a Web Site For Everything Department”: Two Mentor residents, George Koenig and Paul Jonke, in January launched BuildOhio.com, a contractors’ online resource center. The site (www.buildohio.com) lists everything from architects and bathroom remodelers to plumbers and painters, but limits the number in each of 45 categories to 10 contractors.

It’s hard enough finding qualified employees to fill your empty job positions, so why limit your prospects? The Ohio Bureau of Employment Services recently overhauled its Ohio Jobnet Online job bank (www.state.oh.us/obes/job_net.htm) to help employers seeking qualified candidates. Among the features:

• List a job order over the Internet
• Display a job opening
• Link to America’s Job Bank
• Track labor market information about labor force, industry and occupational trade.

If you’re looking for a good place to go for dinner but nothing exciting comes to mind, take a look at SavvyDiner (www.SavvyDiner.com). Bill Matuszak, a Willoughby businessman, has developed the site to provide restaurant reviews and directions. It also lets you make reservations round-the-clock on any day of the week.


Ups and Downs

Special “last-gasp at growth” edition:

Downs ...for the Cleveland Clinic Health System, in the unfamiliar position of announcing a $13 million loss in ’98—after a $23.3 million profit in ’97. But didn’t we spot another couple of buildings going up at the clinic? It’s the Amazon.com business model: Buy market share now and worry about paying for it later.

Downs ...to Cleveland and Brook Park; their fight over airport expansion could take years to sort out. And if they haven’t noticed, the big corporate taxpayers aren’t exactly sitting on their hands. Maybe we should have built it in the middle of Lake Erie.

Ups ...to TRW for its acquisition of LucasVarity PLC. The deal makes TRW the No. 2 automotive supplier, which—as anybody at TRW will tell you—beats handling consumer credit reports.

Ups ...to Eaton Corp. for buying Aeroquip-Vickers Inc. Did they really overpay for the Toledo hydraulic equipment maker? Or simply buy the right to compete directly against the industry’s top gun (and cross-town rival), Parker-Hannifin?

Downs ...to LTV and other U.S. steel makers, ravaged by the low-price stuff dumped from Japan. LTV lost $61 million in last year’s fourth quarter alone. But the low prices seem to have freed up Ford and GM to make some big deals.

Ups ...to Goodyear. Its 10 percent stake in Sumitomo Steel vaults the Akron giant back to No. 1, leaving skid marks on the competition—which now would seem to include LTV.

Downs ...to Ameritech, which is still on hold over its deal with SBC Communications. Is this transaction ever going to happen?


Checking in on old friends

Geric New Health, which was still called Geric Home Health Care Inc. when SBN profiled its owners in May 1998, has moved into a larger office to accommodate recent growth. Geric bought the 47,000-square-foot building at 10701 Shaker Blvd. in Cleveland last October—moving out of a labyrinth of offices in less than 10,000 square feet of a building two blocks up the street.

Shortly after SBN interviewed Micki Tubbs in September 1997, the founder of New Life Choices in Life Care sold her Elyria hospice to the Mercy system hospital network, which owns the former Lorain Community Hospital and St. Joseph’s Hospital. At the time of the sale, she said she looked forward to the chance to maintain the company identity while shedding the risk of ownership. Last September, however, Tubbs resigned as president and was replaced by Jay Koeper. Incidentally, Tubbs founded New Life in 1993, after leaving what she called an increasingly corporate environment at St. Joseph’s.

"

Monday, 22 July 2002 09:57

News clips

Digital marketing plans

If you’ve always wanted a marketing manager but couldn’t afford one, ModelOffice has a solution. Model Marketing Kit is a software application that will help you refine your sales and marketing efforts and keep you focused. It gives a step-by-step method, complete with guidelines, sample documents and spreadsheet templates, for analyzing optimal pricing, market cycles and more. This program runs on either Windows or Macintosh computers. For more information, go to www.modeloffice.com or call (800) 801-3880.


Virtual financial adviser

If you’ve ever needed a financial question answered, but didn’t want to spend the money or time with a consultant, Personal Finance Fundamentals may be for you. This software from ModelOffice includes more than 2,000 guidelines, tips, spreadsheets, checklists and sample letters to educate you in all areas of personal finance and give you the tools you need to build your personal fortune. Hundreds of sample letters help you apply for mortgages, communicate with creditors and even dispute bills. The software runs on both Windows and Macintosh computers. For more information, go to www.modeloffice.com or call (800) 801-3880.


Five tips to live by

  • Visit your ATM just once a week. Figure out how much cash you’ll need to get through seven days. Take it out on Monday morning and don’t go back until the same time next week. You’ll save on bank fees and probably spend less.

  • Make sure your money is insured. FDIC insurance covers up to $100,000 per bank account. If you have $200,000 in savings and checking combined, it’s considered one account and insured up to just $100,000. Do business with more than one bank if your account exceeds $100,000.

  • Cut up all your credit cards but one. Paying with cash or by check is a sure-fire way to spend less, reduce debt and have more to invest. And, unless you’re frequently traveling, leave that one card at home.

  • Travel lightly. Put several traveler’s checks in your wallet to cover emergencies instead of credit cards or a wad of bills. A wallet bulging with cash is a wallet asking to be emptied.

  • Buy a car in December. At year’s end, auto dealers are desperate to empty their lots to make room for next year’s models. Consequently, they slash prices.

Source: Nancy Dunnan in “Never Call Your Broker on Monday,” (HarperPerennial).


I want out

When enough is enough and you want out of your business, consider “How to Sell Your Business and Get What You Want,” (Gwent Press) by Colin Gabriel. Buyers know the subtleties of mergers and acquisitions — they get ample practice. For most sellers, it is all new. This book will help you prepare for what could be the most important negotiations of your life. For more information, call (800) 964-1902.


Show me the greenbacks

Securing adequate funding for a business can be one of the most difficult obstacles faced by entrepreneurs, but “Small Business Financing” from CCH Inc. can help. This book instructs readers on the best ways to raise money for growing a small business. Each source of public and private debt and equity capital is thoroughly explained — from bootstrapping and IPOs to commercial loans and SBA-guaranteed programs. Sample forms are included to help you gather the data needed for the financing process. A glossary helps take the mystery out of your dealings with bankers and other members of the financing community. For more information, call (800) 248-3248 or go to www.toolkit.cch.com.


Counting numbers automatically

Accounting software can be confusing for a small business owner. The CTS “Guide to Small Business Accounting Software” can help sort through the options. The biggest mistake software buyers make is not buying bad software, it’s overpaying for what they need. The guide evaluates the leading packages in a narrative critique and includes feature charts to compare the vendors against 500 feature functions. For more information, call (800) 433-8015 or go to www.ctsguides.com.


Benefit analysis

Should or shouldn’t you offer benefits to your employees?

Advantages include:

  • Tax advantages — you can deduct plan contributions.

  • Recruiting advantages — you can use benefits packages to attract good employees and structure them in such a way to reward and thus retain your best employees.

  • Personal gain — you may be able to get benefits for yourself for less money, if you also offer them to your employees, than you would procuring them privately for yourself.

  • Alternatives to pay — sometimes employees will accept benefits in lieu of higher salaries.

The biggest disadvantage is benefits are costly to large employers, and that burden becomes even more significant for the small employer. Conventional wisdom holds that smaller employers will:

  • Pay higher rates than larger employers for group health coverage because there are fewer employees among whom to spread the risk.

  • Have more difficulty providing life insurance coverage to the employee group.

  • Have fewer design choices when offering a retirement plan because of high administrative costs.

  • Be less likely to offer fringe benefits because of administrative complexity.

Source: CCH Inc.


Cash flow woes?

Managing your cash flow allows you to narrow or completely close your cash flow gap. It does this by examining the items that affect the cash flow of your business. Examining cash inflows and outflows and looking at the components that have a direct effect on your cash flo, allows you to answer the following questions:

  • How much cash does my business have?

  • How much cash does my business need to operate?

  • Where does my business get its cash and spend its cash?

  • How do my income and expenses affect the amount of cash I need to expand my business?

If you can answer these questions, you’re managing your cash flow.

Source: CCH Inc.


Drip drip drip

If you’re interested in purchasing individual stocks with relatively little money each month, consider a dividend reinvestment plan, or DRIP. More than 800 companies offer dividend reinvestment plans to individual investors, including market stalwarts such as McDonald’s and Intel.

To participate in a DRIP, you purchase one share of stock in the company and then enroll in a plan to reinvest dividends and purchase more stock in small increments. For example, you could buy one share of XYZ stock for $25 and then contribute $200 a month to the DRIP. The $200 monthly contribution would be used to purchase more shares of XYZ, as would the reinvested dividends. In DRIPs, companies purchase fractional shares for you if the contribution doesn’t buy a round number of shares.

Many companies that offer DRIPs charge no commissions or fees, so you can save quite a bit of money. For this reason, they are often referred to as “no-load stocks.” Some companies even discount the price of the stock for members of their DRIPs, an additional savings.


Benefits of a different breed

A 401(k) plan is different from a company pension plan in several ways:

  • Benefit With a 401(k) plan, benefits depend on individual contribution levels and portfolio performance. A pension plan has predetermined benefits based on final salary, years of service and a fixed percentage rate.

  • Transferability You can roll a 401(k) account into another 401(k) plan or an IRA, but when you leave a company, your pension generally stays there.

  • Investment allocation decisions Each participant in a 401(k) makes decisions for his or her own portfolio. A plan administrator makes decisions for the future “pensioners.”

  • Funding Employees, along with (most) employers, fund the 401(k) plan; company pensions are funded by employers only.

Source: www.excite.com.


Smart moves

Here are nine tips for instilling pride in employees, according to “Smart Moves” (Addison-Wesley):

  • Hire good people committed to good work. Employees should take pride in good work and pride in themselves. Few organizations invest sufficient resources in the hiring process.

  • Recognize any employee whose performance enhances the company mission. These employees are company heroes and should be labeled as such.

  • No job in the company should be perceived as menial. All jobs are important, regardless of what people get paid for performing them. No manager or employee should be allowed to refer to any other employee as “just a ...”

  • Open channels between the marketplace and employees. All employees should know what their customers are saying and feeling about the company. Share customer feedback with everybody.

  • Involve employees in decisions that directly affect them. Push decision-making as far down the organizational hierarchy as possible.

  • Anticipate employee grievances. Manage proactively, not reactively.

  • Reward employees on the basis of group and company performance, not just individual performance. If you can, find rewards that your group will prize. Even informal prizes are pleasing. Take doughnuts in once in awhile or order a pizza for lunch.

  • Create task forces and project teams composed of members from different departments. Cut across hierarchy and functional departments. Get people involved in solving organizational problems. Replace “they” attitudes with a “we” feeling.

  • Try to have fun. Work should not be a penance. Find ways to celebrate the joy of working in the company.

Monday, 22 July 2002 09:56

News clips

If your business is located in Alliance, and you were not recognized at the Alliance Area Chamber of Commerce’s recent Business Alliance Awards, you might want to think about how you spent the last 12 months. The Alliance chamber recognized 85 local businesses for their contributions to the city at a mid-March reception.

Kathy Stroia, president of the chamber, kicked off the ceremony by handing out 82 Golden Spade Awards to new and/or recently expanded or remodeled businesses.

In addition, special awards went to the following: The Small Business of 1999 award was presented to East Ohio Stone owners Ed and Carol Allenbaugh; Francisco DeLeon, owner of Don Pancho’s Tex-Mex Cafe, won the Large Business of 1999 award; and the Spirit of Enterprise Award went to Richard C. Sherer, owner of R.D. Williams Office Supply.

Monday, 22 July 2002 09:55

Newsclips

One step closer to a billion

ProForma management knows only one direction to lead the business — up. To aid the journey, the Cleveland-based franchiser of graphic communications distributorships in May inked a $25 million working capital deal with Firstar to fund an ongoing expansion. With more than 400 franchises, and revenues projected at $175 million for 1999, the package gives ProForma access to enough money to pursue its goals of 1,000 distributors and $1 billion in sales by 2001.


Do they get a medal?

It’s unlikely that Cleveland will ever host the Olympics, but that doesn’t stop Cleveland-based companies from going after a piece of the financial pie which surrounds the event. The most recent beneficiary is Colortone Audio Visual Staging and Rentals Inc., which last month staged the unveiling of the 2001 Winter Olympics mascot in Salt Lake City, Utah. Colortone provided sound, lighting and video support for the event.


Walking for a cause

Achievement Centers for Children will host “A Most Excellent Run” Sunday, June 27, at Horseshoe Lake Park in Shaker Heights. The annual event raises money for Camp Cheerful, a summer overnight camp for children and adults with special needs. The run has several divisions, including 5k and 10k runs, a 10k wheelchair race and a 5k fun walk. For more information, call (216) 795-7100.


An alternate to the stress ball

Do your employees deal with irate customers effectively and professionally? If they don’t, you may consider implementing these three tips in your “how-to” manual, says best-selling customer service author Stephen Coscia:

  • Concentrate on what to do, not on what is happening. This motivates the thinking process, which is usually the first thing to go under stress.

  • Take responsibility for your behavior and feelings. Realize that the irate customer’s behavior isn’t going to change, so change your own.

  • Learn to respond, not react. Responding creates rational thought — instead of retaliation — and allows you to consider the best options and execute an effective plan. Let the customer vent, then propose a solution.


Lobbying for the small guy

Robert G. Rosenbaum, former editor of SBN, was named the 1999 Media Advocate of the Year for the Midwest Region by the U.S. Small Business Administration. Rosenbaum was selected for increasing public understanding of the importance of small business contributions to the economy.


We’re not Silicon Valley, but ...

Case Western Reserve University was ranked the most wired campus among the nation’s colleges and universities, according to Yahoo Internet Life magazine. Ninety percent of CWRU’s public computers are available around the clock, and every residence hall is wired. Students are guaranteed 25 megabytes of Web space retain free e-mail access for life after graduation.

Approximately 400 undergraduate courses — 40 percent of all offered — incorporate network-based activities. CWRUnet is the first all-fiber-optic computer network on any campus. More than 6,000 miles of fiber optic cable have been installed on campus. Ninety-five percent of undergraduates own a computer.


Prepaying to fix problems

Westlake-based F1 Ltd. rolled out a new prepaid resource card — Help in a Flash. The card, available in five or 10 incident increments, is aimed at small to mid-sized businesses which don’t have large IT departments to solve immediate technology problems.

The cards cost $125 for five incidents and $200 for 10. Call (800) F1-4help for more information.


When the thank you card falls short

Worried about losing your employees to a competitor? Take a page out of Fifth Third Bank’s book. The Cincinnati-based bank builds loyalty by awarding stock to its long-term employees. In May, Fifth Third rewarded 3,000 full- and part-time employees with three or more years of service with between 10 and 60 shares of Fifth Third common stock, valued at a total of $6.7 million. More than 6,500 employees now own stock in the bank.


These are the good old days

It’s been a good year for Edward Howard & Co. Among the Cleveland-based public relations firm’s recent achievements, it was named the best-managed mid-sized firm in the country by Inside PR.In an era in which public relations firms have to be innovative just to keep existing clients, Edward Howard and Co. has brought on board 12 new high profile clients, including BridgeStreet Accommodations and GE Lighting.


Swipe here

Keeping in line with changes in the service industry, Northeast Ohio’s Mail Boxes Etc. recently added self-service computer workstations to its 50 regional stores. While the concept is not new, MBE’s approach is. The store allows consumers to swipe their credit cards at the machines, rather than stand in line for a store-issued card or to pay a clerk.

How’s that for better use of resources?


The cost of war

Just when you thought your company’s work force couldn’t get any tighter, along comes the recent crisis in Kosovo. As reservists are called up to serve, employers may face situations they haven’t seen since the beginning of the decade — questions about military leave and pay.

The Employers Resource Council recently polled 235 Northeast Ohio companies about military leave policies for their employees. Here is some of what they found:

  • Less than 15 percent of employees receive full pay from their employers while on military leave for summer training;

  • Less than 11 percent of employers pay full pay to National Guard Reservists called to active duty;

  • Up to 63 percent pay two weeks for military leave pay.

There are no laws that require employers to continue an employee’s salary while they are on military leave. That’s because military reservists receive pay from the U.S. government while on duty or in training. But employers are required to offer COBRA for up to 18 months.


Can transporters be that far behind?

The speed of business is accelerating. Your customers want their products quicker, and in response, you want your suppliers to provide materials quicker. So chalk one up for the middlemen for bridging that gap.

Yellow Freight System Inc. in May sped up its transit times from three days to two for shipments from Cleveland to nearly 6,000 destinations in the eastern U.S. The move into high gear comes as part of the company’s Operation EXCELeration, which Yellow introduced earlier this year in its most active regions — Cleveland-based shippers annually move more than 606 million tons of goods via Yellow.


So that’s what that smell was

Talk about bad air. A recent study by the Environmental Defense Fund named Ford Motor Co.’s Ohio Assembly Plant in Avon Lake as one of the 15 worst practitioners of pollution prevention among auto facilities in the nation.

The study, available at EDF’s Web site (www.edf.org), tracked per-vehicle toxic chemical releases and transfers, toxic waste production and smog-forming volatile organic compound releases at the 54 auto assembly plants in the U.S. The Avon Lake plant generated 2.5 million pounds of toxic waste in 1996 (the year the study followed) — nearly 21 pounds for every car produced. That was nearly five times the pollution generated per car by the average high-ranking facility.


And you think your Web site is busy?

Sure, everybody’s got to make money. That’s what business is all about. But with technology that moves at breakneck speed, s upport for your computer systems alone can cost your business tens of thousands of dollars every year.

Enter a new Web site — www.TechPointer.com. It may slash that budget line to a more workable figure. TechPointer.com offers to solve all computer and Internet-related problems within four hours, seven days a week, for free.

The catch? So far, there doesn’t appear to be one. The only caveat is that your answers become part of the site’s massive database, so techs can refer to them to solve other visitors’ problems.


Looking for disadvantaged businesses

Michelle Spain, director of the Center for Small Business Assistance and Education, has been selected as one of 62 private certifiers of Small Disadvantaged Business. Certifying a business as an SDB gives it equitability when it bids for federal contracts.

Spain is also the executive director and founder of the Business Assistance Program. With the certification center designation, Spain will screen SDB applications and determine if they meet the requirements to become disadvantaged businesses. Certification is good for three years.

Nationally, the goal is to certify 25,000 businesses. The original deadline, June 30, has been extended. For those interested in finding out more about SDB certification, call the CSBAE at (216) 283-5208.


The future work force

What will your future office look like? The Bureau of Labor Statistics put together projections and found:

  • 39 percent of workers will be over age 45, and 15 percent over 55.

  • The median age of the U.S. worker will be 41, up from 38 in 1994.

  • Women will make up about 47 percent of the work force.

  • The nation’s work force will rise to nearly 149 million people, an 11 percent increase since 1966.

  • Hispanic-, Asian- and African-Americans will comprise nearly 30 percent of the work force.


Who says golf’s not a sport?

The old swing a little rusty? Worried about doing business on the links? Local fitness guru Francesca Gern has created an eight-class course designed to help golfers improve strength, flexibility and range of motion for the swing. Gern is the creator of Body Sculpting by Exterior Designs Inc. and was recognized as one of Cleveland’s Top 10 Women Business Owners by the local chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners. For more information about the program, sponsored by Cobra Golf, call (330) 528-FLEX or (800) 659-FLEX.


Space to spare

Downsizing has become part of the corporate culture. And while your staff may be leaner, your office space is wasted. A new Web site may have the answer. Offices2share.com is a national matching service for companies looking to sublease part of their office space and start-ups looking for affordable professional space. There is a fee for listing space. For more information, visit www.offices2share.com.


Making it easier

It seems like every time business owners turn around, the government slaps another restriction or regulation on their operations. But this time it may have actually helped. Ohio House Bill 695 enables small, privately held companies to more easily make stock offerings available to accredited investors. Companies seeking up to $1 million in equity capital can fill out a preliminary disclosure form on ACE-Net, an Internet-based service linking institutional and individual investors with small businesses seeking up to $5 million in equity financing. Ace-Net was created by the U.S. Small Business Administration.


E-mail is king

An RHI Management Resources survey found that executives mostly use the Internet to send e-mail. Of 1,400 CFOs responding, 36 percent said they used the Internet for e-mail. Other uses included conducting research, 24 percent; entertainment, 9 percent; investing and stock analysis, 8 percent; accessing daily news reports, 8 percent; other, 2 percent. Six percent do not access the Internet and 7 percent don’t know or didn’t answer.


It’s still stealing

Admit it. The latest version of Microsoft Word on your home computer was a work version that you “just borrowed” to do some work at home. Well, the software industry doesn’t take kindly to piracy and has begun to fight back by showing the economic impact it’s had on our state. According to figures released by Microsoft Corp.’s Cleveland office, software piracy has caused the loss of 6,100 jobs in the state. That translates into $182 million in lost wages and salaries. Add in the lost tax revenues and retail sales and the figure jumps to $400 million.


Practice what you preach

CEC Consultants Inc., an engineering and consulting firm specializing in innovative energy/utility cost cutting for industrial and commercial businesses, was honored as the Energy Star Buildings Ally of the Year by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.


How do you compare?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has released employment and wage data from the 1997 Occupational Employment Statistics Survey. Estimates of employment and average, median and mid-range wages for 695 occupations are available for the state on the BLS/OES Web site. For information organized by OES occupational code go to stats.bls.gov/oeshome.htm. For occupations organized alphabetically, go to lmi.state.oh.us/oes/oes.htm.


It’s not rocket science. Or is it?

Tired of holding your company meetings in stuffy old banquet rooms? Why not rent the Great Lakes Science Center and treat your employees to something enjoyable as well as educational? The center has lowered its prices and offers a variety of packages for your meeting needs. Rent out the entire museum (including the Omnimax Theater), a floor, or just one of the many meeting spaces. For more information, contact the special events department at (216) 696-4941. The only problem: keeping your employees’ attention when they’d rather be playing with the exhibits.


Y2K OK

Your IT consultant just greeted you with some bad news. He can make you Y2K ready, but it’s going to cost you more than you thought. Not to worry. The U.S. Small Business Administration has announced a Y2K loan guaranty program designed to enable small businesses to purchase the systems, software, equipment and services necessary to become Y2K compliant. It will also assist firms that suffer economic injury as a result of the millennium bug. For more information about the program, visit the SBA Web site at www.sba.gov/y2k or call (800) U-ASK-SBA.


What’s for lunch?

From the “now-we’ve-seen-everything” department: A new Web site answers the classic lunch-time question and argument amongst coworkers: “Where should we go eat?” Well, Todd Kloots of Cleveland, with Todd Hausman and Jeff Gilmore of Cincinnati, have created Randomlunch.com, a Web site that provides a randomly selected lunch ideas for your city.