SBN Staff

Tuesday, 23 October 2001 10:49


Another color of success

As an independent manufacturer of paint, stains and specialty coatings, Harrison Paint Corp. has been through its share of ups and downs. Recently, though, Harrison was purchased by Stark county natives and brothers, Patrick and Mark Lauber, who look to return it to its previous levels of success.

Founded in 1911 in Cleveland, Harrison eventually moved to Canton, where it changed ownership twice and faced financial difficulties. Despite its past troubles, the Laubers are optimistic, and excited that 26 out of 26 Harrison employees accepted offers to remain with the company.

"They are the experts because they know the business inside and out," says Patrick Lauber. "They have certainly been through a lot after bankruptcy and change of ownership, and yet they have been very encouraging and are happy to be a part of Harrison Paint."

The biggest challenge facing the Laubers will be getting back the customer base and loyalty that once defined Harrison. To accomplish this, they will be devoted to customer service and producing quality products.

"There certainly is a reputation with Harrison Paint," says Lauber, "so we will focus on providing quality products to our small niche of independent paint suppliers."

The brothers bring with them experience and valuable lessons learned from owning two businesses prior to Harrison, and project earnings for this year at around $5 million, with the intention of increasing revenue as they gain knowledge in the industry.

Oscar the Grouch

What's the worst professional butt-kicking you ever got?

Tim Kraft remembers his. It happened when he worked at the marketing department of a Canton hospital, at a time when the institution sponsored Sesame Street Live at the Canton Civic Center.

"We got a large block of tickets and set aside the choice seats for execs, and planned to give the rest to our employees. One executive didn't show up to pick up his tickets by 4 p.m., so I gave his tickets away," says Kraft, now owner of WordKraft Business Writing in Canton.

Learning this, Kraft's boss, the VP of marketing, launched into a barrage of expletives, fearing the executive would be offended.

"Can you imagine how strange it is to hear swear words mentioned in the same breath with Burt and Ernie?" Kraft laughs.

"As it turns out, that executive didn't mind at all -- he picked up his tickets at the door at show time."

Tuesday, 23 October 2001 10:49


Milt Lewin, chairman of Hamilton Parker Co., has named his son, Adam Lewin, president, and daughter, Connie Lewin Tuckerman, vice president of the Columbus-based distributor of domestic and imported tile, brick, fireplaces and garage doors and other building supplies. The Lewin family has owned the company for 65 years; this marks the third generation of the family to take the reins.

The Ohio Department of Development's Small Business Development Center, Women's Business Resource Program and PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP will recognize the accomplishments of successful women business owners in Ohio at the Governor's Awards for Women's Excellence in Enterprise Oct. 3, 2001. The deadline for nominations is June 15. For information, contact Linda Saikas at 466-4945.

Restaurateur Cameron Mitchell is among local business owners recruiting mentors and tutors for Columbus City Schools' new after-school programs.

"I ran away at 15 and let my grades hit bottom," Mitchell says, "but I began to change when teachers and others helped me begin to believe in myself."

The Mentoring Center of Central Ohio, a collaboration of 40 youth-mentoring organizations from Big Brothers Big Sisters Association to the Urban League, hopes to increase the number of available, trained mentors/tutors by 1,100 this year. Adults are asked to volunteer one hour per week to enhance student learning through tutoring and by sharing skills such as gardening, music, sports or computer information. The Center also works with Ohio Reads and the Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce's business-school partnership program. For more information, contact Marilyn Pritchett, director of The Mentoring Center, at 839-2447.

The James Foundation Board has elected Cheryl Krueger, founder and CEO of Cheryl&Co., to a three-year term on the board, a nonprofit organization that directs development efforts to support research at the Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute.

"I am pleased to serve on the board," says Krueger. "It is one way to honor the memory of my former business partner, Carol Walker, who died of cancer, and the many other people who are fighting this disease."

Gov. Bob Taft has appointed Dwight Smith, president of Sophisticated Systems Inc., to the High-Technology Start-up Business Commission. Smith represents the Governor's Small Business Advisory Council on the commission. By Aug. 1, the commission must respond to the General Assembly on issues including retaining high-technology start-up businesses and the impact of these businesses on economic development and small businesses in Ohio.

Robert Gibson has become a partner at TRIAD Architects Inc. Gibson joined the Columbus-based firm soon after its inception in 1997.

Mary Eckert, owner of The Flag Lady's Flag Store, has been elected to a two-year term on the National Federation of Independent Business/Ohio Leadership Council. The 34-member council is comprised of Ohio small business owners whose role is to bring key small business issues to the attention of state and federal legislatures and provide direction and leadership to NFIB's advocacy program.

Nominations are now being accepted for Junior Achievement's Central Ohio Business Hall of Fame. Nominees must have lived in Ohio for at least 10 years and be at least 50 years of age. In addition, nominees will be judged on their contribution to business excellence, corageous thinking and actions, vision and innovation, inspiring leadership and community-mindedness. Nominations must be received no later than May 15.

For more details, contact Tom Rutan at Junior Achievement of Central Ohio, 771-9903. SBN Magazine is a sponsor of this event.

The Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce has named three directors to its board: William Hartman, chairman and CEO, Bank One NA (Ohio and Kentucky); Thomas Sawyer, president and CEO, Opinion Strategies Inc.; and Robert Schottenstein, president, M/I Homes.

Lonnie Alonso, president of Columbus Pest Control, has been elected to a third term as chairman of the board of the Better Business Bureau of Central Ohio. Other BBB officers elected were Patty Cottone, president of Cottone Construction Inc., as vice chairman; and Timothy J. Tokish Jr., vice president of finance, Columbia Gas of Ohio, as secretary-treasurer. Also serving on the board are Ronald D. Miller, the bureau's president and general manager; and Kip Morse, who will assume the office of president in January 2002.

Franklin University has elected officers to its board of trustees for 2001. Floyd V. Jones, senior vice president of operations for The Columbus Dispatch, will serve as chairman of the board. David J. D'Antoni, group operating officer for Ashland Distribution & Specialty Chemical Group, has taken over as vice chairman. John B. Ruhlin Jr., president of Economic Leasing Inc., and Gary W. James, president of Dynalab Inc., have been re-elected to their positions as treasurer and secretary, respectively. James E. Kunk, president of Huntington National Bank's Central Ohio region, will continue on the board as immediate past president; Paul J. Otte, president of Franklin University, remains president of the board.

Thomas J. Bonasera has been appointed partner-in-charge of the Columbus office of Thompson Hine & Flory LLP. Former president of the Ohio State and Columbus Bar Associations, Bonasera brings more than 25 years of legal experience to the position. He also serves as a board of trustees member of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Columbus and the American Red Cross of Greater Columbus and as chairman of St. Vincent's Family Centers.

Auto Body Collision & Glass has received the top national award for customer service from CSi Complete, a Plain City-based company that monitors customer satisfaction in the automotive collision industry. "Auto Body Collision & Glass has demonstrated excellence in customer satisfaction," said CSi Complete Vice President John Webb. "Their system of managing and monitoring customer satisfaction is among the elite in the collision repair industry. "

Clyde R. Seidle has been hired as principal and manager of bridge engineering at Moody/Nolan Ltd. Inc. Seidle is responsible for the overall management and business development in the area of bridge engineering. He brings 27 years experience to Moody/Nolan, most recently serving as chief deputy county engineer for Delaware County.

The National Association of Women Business Owners will meet from 5:30 to 7 p.m. April 12 at the Easton Hilton. To register, contact Shelley Menduni at 888-5203. Cost for dinner meetings is $25 for members, $30 for nonmembers.

RailPass Express Inc., a sales outlet specializing in European and British rail products, has received the 2000 Achievement Award from the rail supplier and U.S. marketing arm of the Eurail community, the Rail Europe Group. Dublin-based RailPass was honored for its ongoing sales achievements and promotion of European rail.

Baesman Printing Corp., Boehm Inc., Byrun Lithographing Co., Fine Line Graphics, Kreber Graphics, Hopkins Printing, Middleton Printing Co., Ohio Printing Co., Optimum Print Solutions, Pony X Press Printing, Precision Printing, Robin Enterprises Co. and The Old Trail Printing Co. have received 2000 Print Excellence Awards from the Printing Industries Association serving Northern Kentucky and Ohio.

Columbus-based Meritage Technologies, a privately held business-to-e-business transformation company, has been awarded a 2001 Lotus Beacon Award from IBM's Lotus Development Corp. Meritage won in the strategic e-business category of Web self-service for its development of a Knowledge Portal for PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Metatac International has formed an alliance with Redwood City, Calif.-based diCarta Inc. to offer Metatec Express and diCarta Contracts to software publishers seeking a combined solution for contract management and electronic software distribution.

Frontstep Inc., a provider of business systems for mid-sized distributors and manufacturers, has formed a partnership with Agilera, a full-service application service provider based in Colorado. Frontstep provides customers with products, expertise and access to online communities by delivering a comprehensive suite of software and services. Agilera will sell the Frontstep eBusiness suite as a hosted solution to enable its customers to achieve the seamless coordination and integration of trading partners, suppliers, and distributors.

Robin Holderman, vice president and general manager of Opus North Corp., has been named president of the board of trustees for the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.

Three-C Body Shops Inc. has appointed Dennis Pappas as COO. Pappas previously served as treasurer and chairman of the board of Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Central Ohio.

Gerbig, Snell/Weisheimer & Associates Inc. has received an honorable mention from the Reader's Choice Awards of Product Management Today, a publication for pharmaceutical product managers. GSW earned recognition for creative work on National Century Financial Enterprises advertisements featured in the December issue of Product Management Today.

The Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation's Division of Safety and Hygiene will hold its 71st Annual Ohio Safety Congress and Expo April 2-5 at the Greater Columbus Convention Center. New to the event this year is an April 4 session devoted exclusively to small business. For more information or to register, call the bureau at (800) 644-6292.

The Center for Dispute Resolution at Capital University Law School offers Handling Workplace Conflicts: Strategies and Skills, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. April 11-12 and Negotiation: The Building Block of Dispute Resolution from 8:30 to 5 p.m. May 30. For more information, call 236-6430 or visit

Ernst & Young will host its 15th annual Entrepreneur Of The Year awards, honoring outstanding owners of fast-growing companies, June 11 at the Greater Columbus Convention Center. For more information, call Deborah Price, EOY Program Manager, 222-3916 or visit

A seminar entitled Women in Business will be presented at 10 a.m. April 7 at Home Office Warehouse (HOW) and National Office Warehouse (NOW), 500 W. Broad St. This event is free and open to the public. For more information, call 228-2233.


More than 18 chapters of Network Professionals Inc. meet weekly either for breakfast or lunch at various locations around Central Ohio. For details, call Frank Agin, regional director, at 523-8717, or visit

LeadNet, a business-to-business networking group, meets at noon Tuesdays at Martini Italian Bistro, 1319 Polaris Parkway. For more information, call Racey Morris at 846-8723, ext. 216, or Tim Moore at (740) 548-6067.

Tuesday, 23 October 2001 10:49


Creative sentence structure

Before becoming an account executive at Hitchcock Fleming and Associates Inc., an Akron advertising and public relations firm, Bob Clancy did everything from selling vacuum cleaners to driving a tow truck.

"This was perfect training for a career in advertising because these jobs reflect the inherent drama of life," says Clancy.

After college graduation, he worked briefly as a bill collector for a department store chain. His first assignment was to secure payment on a delinquent account or repossess the debtor's refrigerator.

"I confidently knocked on the door and demanded payment. The door closed, but opened again, and there stood a family of about 20, ranging from newborns to a 90-year-old," Clancy recalls. "Solemnly, someone announced that 'Daddy' had died, but they'd pay soon."

The check never came, so Clancy returned. Again, the entourage greeted him with solemn expressions and the death-in-the-family excuse.

"I skeptically asked, 'When?' and the woman responded, 'Oh, about three years ago.' At that point, the entire group burst into laughter," Clancy recalls. "That ended my collections career but I learned then that facts can be manipulated in many useful and creative ways!"

Facing the future

With concerns over a slowing economy looming, it is understandable that many business owners would assume a reticent position concerning any type of risky move, especially expanding a stable, well-established business.

But Akron-based Superior Staffing Inc., a temporary staffing agency, has a different outlook when it comes to making risky decisions in the midst of an unstable economy. Along with the decision to grow the business, owner Tom Doll has chosen to expand services by opening an office in Canton.

"The reason we are expanding is that we currently do a little business in Stark County," explains Doll. "To grow our business, we realize we can't grow it here in Summit County, we need to expand on the borders of where we already do business."

Doll chose Stark County because of the connections Superior Staffing has already established in Green, North Canton and Canton.

"That's why we chose Stark County, because we have some relationships there. Some people will know of us already, and we think that will help," he says.

With 21 employees, Superior Staffing is not the biggest staffing agency. But with a solid reputation in the Akron area, Doll is optimistic about the company's expansion opportunities and says now is the time for action.

"We are building on what we have done in Akron, which will help the clients we already have in the Canton area," says Doll.

Today's rapidly changing business world is risky enough without the added pressure of a slowing economy. But while most companies are holding their breath in anticipation of a brighter economic future, Superior Staffing vows to venture into new territory with confidence.

Tuesday, 23 October 2001 10:48


Joel Kingsley, president of Apex/M&P Construction, has been appointed to the board of directors of Goodwill Columbus. "I'm looking forward to providing management expertise to an organization that lifts people with special needs to greater heights," says Kingsley.

In other Apex/M&P news, the firm has been awarded a $2.6 million contract to perform work for the New Albany Middle School; a $1 million-plus contract by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints to construct a new church and offices for the Madison Lake Meeting House in London; and a $939,805 contract to work on the new Gahanna Lincoln High School Stadium entrance.

The deadline is May 15 for nominations to Junior Achievement's Central Ohio Business Hall of Fame. Nominees must have lived in Ohio for at least 10 years. They will be judged on their contributions to business excellence, courageous thinking and actions, vision and innovation, inspiring leadership and community-mindedness. For details, contact Tom Rutan at Junior Achievement of Central Ohio, 771-9903. SBN Magazine is a sponsor of this event, which will be held Oct. 24.

Lauren Wojciechowski and Richard Crabtree have been promoted to partner positions at Whalen & Co. CPAs. Wojciechowski has been with the company for more than 10 years and specializes in all areas of corporate and individual accounting and tax. Crabtree joined the firm in 1986 and has served as its business tax manager for six years.

The Center for Dispute Resolution at Capital University Law School offers Negotiation: The Building Blocks of Dispute Resolution, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. May 30. For more information, call 236-6430 or visit

Roger P. Sugarman, a partner with Kegler, Brown, Hill & Ritter, has received the AFL-CIO Community Service Award of the George Meany Awards, sponsored by the Columbus-Franklin County AFL-CIO and United Way of Central Ohio's Community Services Department. Sugarman, who volunteers actively with a number of community organizations, is past chair of the local United Way's board, where he continues to serve and chairs a special ad hoc committee evaluating the work of United Way Vision Councils.

Michael A. Petrecca has been named managing partner of the Columbus office of PricewaterhouseCoopers. Currently serving as partner-in-charge of the office's Middle Market Advisory Services Group, Petrecca takes on his new duties July 1. He replaces James D. Robbins, who is retiring.

Nominations are being accepted through June 15 for the Governor's Awards for Women's Excellence in Enterprise 2001. Awards will be given in the following categories: manufacturing/high technology, service, wholesale/retail, real estate/construction and Rising Star (in business less than five years). Nominees must be Ohio based with an annual sales revenue greater than $1.5 million, except in the categories of service (minimum $1 million) and Rising Star (minimum $750,000). Nominated businesses must also be majority female-owned, well-established, growing and profitable for the most recent reporting period. For more information, contact Linda Saikas at 466-4945.

Elford Inc. has been named Prime Contractor of the Year by the Columbus Equal Business Opportunity Commission Office for its commitment to using certified minority and female-owned businesses. Elford demonstrates its commitment to strengthening relationships with minority and female-owned businesses through participation in the Columbus Rotary's Minority Mentoring program, the 2000 Minority Business Summit and through membership in the Columbus Regional Minority Development Council.

David P. Lauer has been appointed a member of Metatec International's board of directors. Lauer, who recently retired as president and COO of Bank One NA Columbus, fills the unexpired term of A. Grant Bowen, who reached the board's mandatory retirement age.

"We are delighted to welcome Dave Lauer to the Metatec board," says Jeffrey Wilkins, chairman and CEO of Metatec. "His vast experience and knowledge will be a great asset to the board and to Metatec." In addition to Metatec's board, Lauer serves on local corporate and advisory boards at companies including AirNet Systems Inc., Online Computer Library Center Inc., Wendy's International Inc. and The Fishel Co.

Two local business owners have been appointed to the State Fire Commission. Patrick Guanciale, an owner of Guanciale & Johnson Real Estate Inc., has been reappointed for a term ending Oct. 31, 2005, representing commerce and industry. Ron J. Landis, owner of R.J. Landis Design & Construction Inc., has also been appointed for a term ending Oct 31, 2005, representing construction.

Ben L. Pfefferle III, a partner at Thomas Hine & Flory LLP, has been elected as chairman of the board of directors of Make-A-Wish Foundation of Northeast, Central and Southern Ohio.

Mills/James Productions has received a bronze Telly Award for its production of a video documentary for the Center for New Directions, an organization for women who are redirecting their lives. The Telly Awards are conducted nationally, giving recognition to outstanding film and video productions.

TEAM Mucho Inc. in Worthington has acquired the assets of South Jordan, Utah-based Professional Staff Management Inc. in a transaction valued at $6.75 million. "This asset transaction reflects our formula for PEO acquisitions in the future," explains S. Cash Nickerson, chairman and CEO. "We will solidify ourselves as the market leader in our major markets of Utah, Ohio, California and Nevada; do only accretive transactions; and continue to pursue candidates with major financial sponsors that can accelerate our growth." With this transaction, TEAM Mucho Inc. adds ABS Capital Partners, a private equity fund with more than $1 billion under management, as an equity partner.

Equity President Tim Galvin has been re-elected president of Central Ohio Associated General Contractors. "I'm excited to continue my work that began last year with the AGC," Gavin says. "This position continues to be a great opportunity for Equity and me. I'm able to work with several leaders in the community and have an active voice within the organization."

Roger Faulkenberry has been promoted to managing director and executive vice president for client development at National Century Financial Enterprises Inc. Also at NCFE, Dean E. Haberkamp has been promoted to executive vice president of marketing and Kimberly A. Murray has been promoted to vice president of human resources.

Ernst & Young will host its 15th annual Entrepreneur Of The Year awards, honoring outstanding owners of fast-growing companies, June 11 at the Greater Columbus Convention Center. For more information, call Deborah Price, awards program manager, 222-3916, or visit

An Insurance and Retirement Issues for Small Business Owners seminar will be presented at 10 a.m. May 5 at Home Office Warehouse (HOW) and National Office Warehouse (NOW), 500 W. Broad St. This event is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Mike Ward or Mike Burroughs at 228-2233.

The National Association of Women Business Owners will meet from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. May 10 at the Easton Hilton. To register, contact Shelley Menduni at 888-5203. Cost for luncheon meetings is $20 for members, $25 for nonmembers.

Mark J. Butterworth, vice president of Ohio Partners, has been appointed to the Industrial Technology and Enterprise Advisory Council for a term ending Dec 31, 2007. The council advises and assists The Ohio Development Financing Commission.

Jonathan Petuckowski, vice president of Yenkin-Majestic Paint Corp., has been reappointed to the Ohio Tuition Trust Authority for a term ending Jan. 31, 2005. The authority administers the Ohio Tuition Trust Program, which issues college savings bonds and sells tuition credits.

The Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce has named Leslie Weilbacher as the new vice president of infrastructure. She previously served as the director of the Small Business Development Center at the chamber. "Issues such as land use policy, telecommunications access, transportation and logistics play a critical role in the location and growth of business," Weilbacher says. "I look forward to working to ensure that Greater Columbus has the infrastructure needed to sustain economic growth in our community."

Pam Doty, executive director of the Columbus Association of Building Owners & Managers, has received the Crime Stoppers 2001 Board Member of the Year Award for her support of the Crime Stoppers organization. Doty has served as executive director of Building Owners and Managers since 1996 and joined the Crime Stoppers Board in February 2000.

Enterprise Development Inc. will present Innovest 2001 May 10 and 11 at The Westin Hotel in Cincinnati. For more information, call (216) 229-9445, ext. 171. SBN Magazine is a sponsor of this event.

Hopkins Printing has been recognized with six awards -- three gold, two silver and one bronze-- at the 2000 International Gallery of Superb Printing from the International Association of Printing House Craftsmen Inc. Hopkins competed against more than 3,359 entries from all over the world.

More than 18 chapters of Network Professionals Inc. meet weekly either for breakfast or lunch at various locations around Central Ohio. For details, call Frank Agin, regional director, at 523-8717, or visit

LeadNet, a business-to-business networking group, meets at noon Tuesdays at the Martini Italian Bistro,1319 Polaris Parkway. For more information, call Racey Morris at 846-8723, ext. 216, or Tim Moore at (740) 548-6067.

The Columbus American Marketing Association hosts Java Talk from 8 to 9 a.m. the third Thursday of each month fat Barnes & Noble on Polaris Parkway. Marketing and technology professionals meet to discuss technology topics affecting marketers. For more information, contact Anne Kemter at 543-6317.

Jewish Family Services' Career and Workforce Development Center will hold its Tips, Tricks and Techniques Tea from 2 to 3:30 p.m. Thursdays at Jewish Family Services, 1151 College Ave., for professionals in career search with experience in a wide range of industries. The meetings are free and open to the public. For more information, call 237-9675.

Tuesday, 23 October 2001 10:48


Virtual gadgetry

If you could invent an innovative gadget for use in the corporate arena, what would it be? Patrick J. Kelly has a product idea to boost employee morale in Ohio's corporate environments.

"I want to develop a screen saver for cubical dwellers who don't have any contact with the outside world, and for those of us who don't have a corner office with windows," says Kelly, principal economic development executive for FirstEnergy Corp. and chairman of The Ohio Economic Development Council. "This screen saver would have a picture of a tree with foliage that changes to correspond with the changing seasons and weather that coincides with what is really happening in the climate."

On second thought, says Kelly, perhaps that's too dreary a depiction. After all, this is Northeast Ohio!

Breaking on-hold boredom

Fed up with boring, on-hold messages, Stephen Brand encourages businesses to emulate the recent experience he had when calling a California vendor.

"Before I was put on hold, they gave me an option of choosing the kind of music I wanted to listen to -- soft popular or rock," says Brand, president of The New Enterprise Factory in Akron. "I laughed, selected rock music, and didn't feel bad about being on hold for a minute or so."

Brand notes that Southwest Airlines has an even better idea -- a humorous on-hold jingle that addresses the frustrations of being put on hold.

"The song asks the question, 'Why can't Southwest get their act together and answer the phone?' When you hear it, you just have to laugh," says Brand. "But because Southwest is so good at answering the phone, you rarely get to hear the recording."

Tell-tale deposit slips

If you've ever scrawled a note on the back of your bank deposit slip, perhaps you should keep some notepaper handy instead.

Bank officials at North Akron Savings on East Cuyahoga Falls Avenue recall the bank robber wannabe who passed a note demanding all the cash in the teller's bank drawer. After seizing the currency and fleeing the scene, police and the FBI arrived, only to discover that the suspect had composed his demand note on the back of his own bank deposit slip.

"They couldn't believe the bank robber would be stupid enough to use his own bank deposit slip, but when they reviewed the surveillance tape, one of the detectives recognized the suspect as the same person who's name was printed on it," says Daniel Zampelli, a captain in the Akron Police Department's services subdivision.

The suspect was apprehended a short time later, Zampelli chuckles.

"Thank God for dumb criminals. It makes our job easier."

Business camp for kids

Michael Kolk reveals that, when choosing their children's summer camps, shrewd entrepreneurs are sending their kids to "business camp."

"By working at their parents' businesses, youngsters can learn responsibility and work skills while deriving tax and financial benefits," says Kolk, a certified public accountant and partner at Cohen & Co. in Akron.

For example, $4,400 of earned taxable income is free to the child and fully deductible to the parent's company. (Caveat: if the parent business owner claims the child as a dependent, the child can't take the personal exemption.) If your company is an unincorporated business, you don't even have to pay FICA taxes, Kolk says.

"Of course, you must ensure that your child earns his or her paycheck," Kolk warns, explaining that excess compensation can be disallowed and payments for work not performed can be considered fraud.

Considering the benefits, perhaps you should reconsider whether you want your child digging a latrine in the hot sun or photocopying documents in your air-conditioned office.

Four for franchising

Is franchising for you? Although you give up the total freedom associated with being an independent owner to become part of a group of people committed to building a brand, franchising is all about risk reduction and safety, say four local women.

Partners Julie Price, Paula Cutillo, Becki Crawford and Libby Hackel opened the first Hoohobbers franchise in Ohio in the West Market Plaza of Fairlawn in November 2000, followed by their second store in Beachwood Place in December.

Just what is a Hoohobber? It's an innovative store owned by a Chicago-based company that designs and manufactures its own product line of award-winning merchandise for children. "The company owns over 75 patents," says Hackel, "and a lot of the products we have they've been making for years, so they are very durable, hard goods."

While franchising may ease some of the complications of starting a business, hefty franchising fees can be a hindrance. But with a franchising fee at less than $100,000, the biggest concern for the four Hoohobber franchisees was receiving the proper training to operate the stores successfully. The partners enrolled in a two-week program to train and work in Hoohobber stores, followed by training in their own stores.

"They really have held our hand along the way," says Hackel.

Tuesday, 23 October 2001 10:48


Surviving site development

The tribal council has spoken. When it comes to e-learning, many have ventured -- few have succeeded. But Manpower has proven to be a consummate survivor in the development of its Global Learning Center (, a training and career development tool to help meet the demand for skilled professionals.

"Developing the site was no easy trek," admits Lisa Doyle, Manpower's area sales manager. "There were numerous pitfalls, dead-end paths and fruitless ideas. But we overcame them in blazing our trail to success."

Things could have been worse, Doyle observes. At least there was no bug-eating involved in this adventure.

Back to basics

J. Michael Kolk swears by his Sharp Palm Pilot, proclaiming it's the best productivity and organizational investment he's ever made. "Not only does this 6-ounce, palm-size device replace my 4-pound, 8-by-10 paper planner, it's altered the way I think about scheduling my time. No more scribbling on sticky notes," says Cohen, a partner and CPA at Cohen & Co. in Akron.

Shortly after he purchased his PDA, a skeptical colleague challenged him, "But, can you do this with your gadget?" and promptly tossed his bulky Day Timer onto the floor. Kolk quipped, "Nope, and if we measured progress by that standard, we should all get rid of our cell phones and go back to the tin can on a string!"

Can you spell 'spaghetti?'

Most CEOs have a storehouse of jokes and trivia questions for occasions such as client dinners and company parties. For example, which country is represented by a flag of just one color, and what color is it? It's the Libyan flag -- a plain green rectangle.

"My trivia collection comprises print and broadcast spelling and grammatical errors," says W.R. Covey, founder of the Canton-based Covey & Koons advertising agency. "Two of the most mangled usages are 'myriad' and 'complement/compliment.' And my collection also includes seven different ways to spell spaghetti."

It's up to you

Two decades ago, desolate downtown Akron cried out for urban renewal. Keep Akron Beautiful became a major catalyst in the revitalization we see in downtown Akron today.

Each year, the "Take Pride in Akron" award recognizes the efforts of businesses, organizations and individuals that sponsor KAB programs, such as Flowerscape and Adopt-A-Site. Flowerscape provides floral display sites throughout the city on traffic islands, city corners and downtown expressway ramps, and at Canal Park and Firestone stadiums. Adopt-A-Site works with volunteers from area businesses and organizations that help plant and maintain public lands in Akron.

"This physical revitalization has subsequently paved the way for the economic revitalization of downtown Akron that attracts new businesses and consumers," says Paula Davis, KAB director. Celebrating its 20th anniversary with a new tagline, "It's up to all of us," KAB is seeking greater participation from area businesses, organizations and individuals. To become involved, call (330) 375-2116.

Wednesday, 30 May 2001 20:00


It's a search engine that's all Ohio, all the time. OhioBiz Web Consulting LLC has launched, a site that provides visitors with free and quick access to Ohio-based business, community, organization and education-related Web sites.

OhioBiz founder and President Mark Geyman says ''the site offers prompt Web site listings to any company or organization that has a physical presence in the state of Ohio. One of the goals of the site is to electronically promote Ohio's businesses and organizations in one location. Businesses and organizations are strongly encouraged to submit their site.''

Geyman plans to generate revenue by offering potential advertisers opportunities to reach OhioBiz site visitors in the form of text-based category sponsorships.

''We will provide advertisers a means of sponsoring a particular category or categories within OhioBiz in terms of quarterly, semi-annual and annual sponsorships. Also, we will be implementing and integrating targeted keyword advertising so site sponsors and visitors can reap the benefits of a locally-based sponsor's products and services,'' says Geyman.

All sponsorship banners will be text-based, reducing the clutter factor without any pop-up banners.

Raise the roof
Getting a raise can be an exercise in the art of negotiation, according to Management Recruiters International Inc. (MRI), the world's largest search and recruitment organization. Employees looking for a raise should consider their total compensation package, including bonuses, commissions, health insurance, medical and dependent care spending accounts, profit sharing, paid vacation, stock options and other offerings.

MRI offers the following tips for negotiating a salary increase:

  • Do your homework. Investigate what other companies are paying employees in like positions. Talk to recruiters, review help wanted ads and salary surveys in regional or national magazines, consult trade groups or associations, peruse the Internet.
  • Assess your true value. Take a good look at your skills, talents and contributions. Have you saved your company money? Improved a process? Reached a sales goal? Assess your successes to make a strong case for more money.
  • Be your own advocate. Be sure your superiors or potential new boss know about your accomplishments. This is no time to be modest.

  • Plan ahead. If you are seeking a raise, let your boss know you'd like to discuss this issue in advance of scheduled performance review periods so you can give him or her a peek at what you'll be looking for from the next raise.

  • It's not too late. If performance reviews have already been completed, ask your employer for a merit increase or an accelerated performance review that can be retroactive based on your having met agreed-upon objectives.
  • Explore your options. Consider other job opportunities and be prepared to leave your current job if you do not get what you ask for.

Out of the woods?
Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan's lowering of interest rates has started to revive consumer confidence, according to findings from BIGresearch surveys taken before and after the announced rate cuts on April 18.

In a study conducted between April 4 and April 13, 2001, 3,400 consumers were asked about the economy; 39 percent said they were confident, while 47 percent said they had little confidence. After the interest rate drop, more than 47 percent of consumers said they were confident, while only 39 percent said they had little confidence.

''Consumer confidence certainly is a real measure of trust and hope in our leaders. But consumer confidence is also highly influenced by TV media exposure,'' says Joe Pilotta, vice president of Columbus-based BIGresearch. ''It will be important to see if the level of confidence will continue to increase over the next several weeks.''

Watt's world
Watt/Fleishman Hillard Inc. became the world's leading public relations firm in 2000 with a 61 percent increase in revenue growth. The firm's Cleveland office had a banner year, with revenue more than doubling from $2.1 million in 1999 to $4.3 million in 2000.

Watt/Fleishman Hillard's worldwide revenue was $342.8 million in 2000, beating out its four biggest rivals in the industry. The St. Louis-based firm has 77 offices worldwide.

Risky business
An economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland says corporate managers of late are not practicing good risk management. Joseph Haubrich, an economist and consultant, says business and corporate decision-makers do not understand the risks they take or don't understand the far-reaching societal effects of their more risky corporate endeavors.

Haubrich cites two cases in which the societal cost of the risk exceeded its private cost: the Great Depression of the 1930s and the savings and loan crisis of the 1980s. Management needs to study not only how the company would be damaged if the risky endeavor fails, but what its effects would be on the economy, Haubrich argues. For a copy of the bank's ''Economic Commentary,'' send e-mail to or fax (216) 579-3050.

Finance guru hits the airwaves
Ivan Gelfand, the father of institutional cash management, is taking his financial know-how to the street. Gelfand, past president of the Cleveland Business Economists Club and a member of several boards of trustees and directors around Northeast Ohio, can be seen on Fox 8 News in the Morning's ''Streetwise'' segment, which airs at 6:40 a.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

During the segment, Gelfand, a nationally recognized expert in the fields of investments, corporate and personal finance and business forecasting, takes questions from early rising viewers via phone or e-mail.

Give and take
Despite what you hear about the slowing economy and loosening job market, prospective employees still have strong negotiating power when it comes to determining salaries. According to a recent survey by Management Recruiters International, prospects are more prepared when they receive a job offer. They have researched what like positions pay, assessed what value they bring to the table and certainly aren't shy telling you so.

MRI's survey also revealed that employees aren't just concerned with basic compensation; they're seeking complete packages that include bonuses, commissions, health insurance, profit sharing, paid vacations, stock options and other benefits. So be prepared when you're ready to make an offer. It may not be as simple as saying, ''I'd like to offer you this job.''

Great Shakeout continues
In case you're wondering just how bad the Great Dot-com Shakeout has become, consider this:'s Layoff Tracker reported in May that Internet-related firms have announced more than 100,000 job cuts since December 1999. With more gloomy reports about employment statistics from the U.S. government, it's no wonder the economy is in a holding pattern and employers are taking a wait-and-see attitude with filling empty slots.

Creativity in the round
Hiring salespeople is a greater challenge today than ever before. That was the main issue in April at the Creative Business Roundtable, says April Majni, president and founder of Marshfield Group.

Majni was among 12 businesspeople nationwide who participated in the Santa Barbara, Calif.-based event. Her firm, Marshfield Group, is a Mentor-based marketing communications agency and consulting firm.

''Selling a service is a different kind of challenge because creativity is intangible,'' Majni says. ''Although you can provide samples of the work your firm has done, you can't show the client their finished product up front.''

That's one of the two biggest challenges, the participants concluded. The other is the difficulty in finding salespeople familiar with the creative process. Explains Majni, ''Most are used to selling a product, not a service. There's a definite learning curve.''

The conclusion? ''My advice was to hire a good salesperson and train them well,'' she says. ''A good salesperson is also a good student.''

Thursday, 28 June 2001 20:00


Do more with less
Although the axe is falling at many companies -- maybe at yours -- you still need to complete projects quickly and on budget. How can you do that with fewer people?

Keep the communication flowing, says Stanley Portny, author of ''Project Management for Dummies.'' Here are his tips for effective project management with a leaner staff.

  • Prioritize. Encourage employees to talk openly about the demands on their time at work and help them find the activities they need to put on hold while they focus on the project.
  • Don't dump and run. Although it's tempting to throw an assignment at your employees and leave them to figure it out, don't, Portny says. Instead, think the project through with the team. This sends the message that you're in this together and committed to the project.
  • Clarify. When people have too much on their plates, they begin to operate in panic mode and create more work for themselves. Spell out exactly what employees need to accomplish on a project and what its deadlines are, and be certain that they understand.
  • Visualize. Help team members buy in to a project up front, Portny says. If they're thinking there's no way they'll get this done, they won't. When you can help them visualize the success of the project, from beginning to end, they will be far more likely to make it happen.
  • Reward. Reinforce the efforts of your team members by making them feel appreciated. When someone completes a step of a project, send a thank you memo and a copy of it to his or her superiors. Or simply say, ''thank you.'' It's a small gesture, but it works.

Rate break
The 75 percent Ohio workers' compensation premium reduction takes effect this month for the 2001 policy year. As an employer, you'll pay only 25 percent of your premium when you receive payroll reports in December 2001 and June 2002, according to the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation.

In addition, you'll see a one-time 75 percent premium reduction on your June 2001 invoice. This means you'll get a 75 percent credit on your next three payroll reports. For more information, call the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation, (800) 644-6292.

Talk is cheap
With all the cell phone users in Cleveland, you'd think service is much cheaper here than in other cities. But Cleveland cell phone users pay only about 50 cents less than the national average of $38.80 a month, according to a survey by Econ One, an economic research and consulting firm which studies costs in the wireless industry.

The cost of cell phone service continues to gradually decrease, in part because more cell companies are including more ''free'' calling time at nights and on weekends, according to the survey. Average costs were down in 13 cities, up in 11 cities and unchanged in one. The largest increases in average costs from April to May were in San Diego, Pittsburgh, Boston and Atlanta; the greatest decreases were in Houston, Dallas, New York and Philadelphia.

The average San Francisco cell phone user pays the most, $42.89 a month; those in Houston pay $36.26 a month on average.

Look closer
Deciding between two job offers can be difficult and stressful. But taking stock of your personal and professional priorities can help point you toward the right job, says Allen Salikof, president and CEO of Management Recruiters International. Prospective employees should consider the following when weighing their options:

  • What is most important to you? Is it the most money and the best benefits? A stimulating work environment that offers a clear career path? Responsibility or power? A reasonable work/life balance? Think about what you liked least about your last job for some insight.
  • Take a critical view of the company. Is it well established or do you prefer a more entrepreneurial, start-up mindset? Think about where you're going to be spending most of your day and the type of people that is likely to attract.
  • Are there opportunities for advancement and to make more money? Does the company have a formal review process, and are raises given annually? Will the company offer professional development training or continuing education? Consider your career path and what lies beyond your starting salary and title.
  • What is the work environment and style? Will you be working alone or as part of a team? Do you prefer a very structured environment or one that is more horizontal?
  • Dress code has become an increasingly important factor in people's decisions about where they work. If you are coming from a business casual environment, having to buy a new wardrobe for a more formal workplace could be a strong financial consideration and play into your decision.
  • Talk to others within the industry to get their take on the companies you're considering. Look for media coverage about them for insight into financial health, turnover rate and management outlook.Biotech expansion

2000 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year Gil Van Bokkelen has seen a lot of growth in the past year. His company, Athersys, recently was named National Business Incubation Association's Graduate of the Year. The award recognizes the most notable graduate from incubation programs around the world. Athersys also expanded its facility to include an additional 10,000 square feet of space, bringing its total quarters to 43,000 square feet.

Of note ...
Noteworthy Medical Systems reached a partnership agreement with Hewlett-Packard Co. to participate in H-P's Computing Solutions Provider Program. The program will link Noteworthy's marketing team with H-P's sales reps, technology officers and other officials at major hospitals and health care institutions.

Instant information
There's no question that the Internet is one of the most extensive information resources available -- assuming you know where to look. That's one reason the 29-member library systems of the CLEVNET Library Consortium last month unveiled KnowItNow at KnowItNow is a live online reference service that unites the information expertise of librarians, the comprehensive resources of the CLEVNET libraries and technology to deliver information 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It is the first resource of its kind offered by public libraries in the United States.

Blueprint for the future
After 25 years with Lakeside Blueprint, president Chuck Dean is calling it quits. Dean, 45, began his career with Lakeside as a bluepoint machine operator and served as a production manager for years before assuming the role of president in 1992. During his tenure, Dean grew the company from $3 million to $10 million, landing some of the city's largest construction printing contracts, such as those for Tower City, the Cleveland Browns Stadium, Gund Arena, Key Tower and the Galleria. Dean is succeeded as president by Andy Ziegler, executive vice president of operations.

5 interview warning signs
Finding qualified employees remains the top issue employers must deal with, despite a slowing economy. But remembering the adage that haste makes waste has never been more important. Management Recruiters International ( offers five red flags interviewers should watch for during the hiring process:

  • Candidate denigrates a former employer. Habitual malcontents can be poisonous in an organization.
  • Candidate can't isolate specific work achievements and has no verifiable references. The candidate's credentials are suspect.
  • Candidate didn't learn much or understand the previous employer's business. That's a sure sign he or she will behave the same in the new job.
  • Candidate must travel a surprisingly long distance to the job or seems overqualified. This raises issues of underlying problems, social or psychological impediments to more appropriate work situations.
  • Candidate takes too long to consider an offer. A sign the employer isn't the candidate's first choice.

You can't blame this one on the Cavaliers
If your staff is calling in sick more often during the summer than winter, there could be an unlikely reason. A survey of 1,400 businesspeople nationwide, conducted by Maritz Marketing Research Inc., found that one in eight baseball fans admitted to taking a sick day from work to attend a professional baseball game.

''It was somewhat surprising to discover how many people said they sneak off from work to attend a game,'' says Phil Wiseman, vice president of marketing for Maritz. ''Americans, in general, seem enamored with sports. Employers are pretty lucky pro football games are only held on weekends and evenings.''

Thursday, 26 July 2001 20:00

Editorial excellence

SBN Magazine in June garnered three Excellence in Journalism awards from the Press Club of Cleveland.

Former SBN Cleveland managing editor Dan Jacobs was recognized with two honorable mention awards in the "Features, Personality Profile," and "Features, General," categories for "The Art of the Start-Up" and "A gathering of the tribes," respectively, under Business Publications.

SBN Columbus associate editor Joan Slattery Wall picked up a second place award in the General News category for her story, "Divide & Conquer."

This year's Excellence in Journalism competition drew 1,124 entries from a variety of daily and nondaily newspapers, radio and television stations, and trade and business publications from around Ohio. Judges for the event included representatives from the Houston Press Club, Los Angeles Press Club, New Orleans Press Club and San Diego Press Club.

The Excellence in Journalism competition honors journalists throughout Ohio.

Monday, 22 July 2002 10:02

Pillar Award for Community Service

"A business has a responsibility to give back to its community."

How many times have you heard some variation of that phrase? How many times have you said it yourself?

Most business owners seem to agree with it, for a variety of reasons.

First, a company's success is built on the strength of the people and resources in its community. Giving back is, on the one hand, a way to show appreciation for that, and on the other, a way to assure it continues.

Besides, a market-based community is not a fair or perfect place. It can only be at its best when those who have seen success choose to put some of their hard-won resources to work for everybody.

But there's more, and you well know it: Good deeds generate good will, and good will is good for business.

At the same time, has it ever been harder to make an honest dollar, and to find time or money to give back to the community?

But plenty of businesses are doing so every day. They operate on the doctrine that you don't need to be a corporate giant to make an impact, and that if you wait until it's easy to get involved, you'll wait forever.

That's why Medical Mutual of Ohio and Small Business News have created the Pillar Award for Community Service. Its goals are to:

  • Honor and reward companies that have made a commitment to community service;

  • Encourage other companies to get involved with the community;

  • Identify and share creative ideas that companies of all sizes can use to make the community a better place to live and work.

The following companies are the first class of Pillar Award winners. They were identified through an open nomination process publicized through SBN in August and September, then evaluated by an independent panel of judges.

Their stories of community service follow.

Donating the know-how
Pubic Relations Partners, Independence

Since its founding in 1994, Independence-based Public Relations Partners has leveraged the skills and interests of its employees (now numbering 13) to assist local organizations with their public relations needs. The company subscribes to the old adage, "To those whom much has been given, much is expected."

In January 1997, PR Partners implemented a continuous public service campaign for the Substance Abuse Initiative of Greater Cleveland, which included planning, image development, special event support and publication of a quarterly newsletter-all pro bono.

"Most of us have children, so the drug abuse resistance program touches us all," explains Kathy Sluzewski, vice president and senior program manager. "We see the problems are out there and we want to help avoid them."

PR Partners worked with the Cleveland Academy of Finance-an inner-city four-year high school program based at East High School-to develop recruiting posters and organize a public finance career day at City Hall. Those efforts brought much needed attention to the underutilized program, and helped lead to a four-fold increase in enrollment.

Among its other contributions, PR Partners wrote and designed the 1997 Leukemia Cup Regatta entry forms and programs for a fund-raising event of the Leukemia Society of America; developed a corporate gift matching program for its employees; designed a new school logo for St. Ignatius High School; and prepared and printed a Media Relations Guidebook for the U.S. Coast Guard.

PR Partners' work has translated into more than 750 volunteer hours, conservatively valued at $60,000-no small amount of time or money for a young and growing agency.

The judges say: Most PR and advertising agencies have some sort of link to the community, usually contributing in-kind services. The fact that PR Partners has a matching gifts program puts it a step ahead of the field. - J. Lee Bailey

Helping schools - and students - succeed
PPG Industries Inc., Barberton

Over the past four years, Barberton's PPG Industries has made a strong commitment to education, both financially and through the volunteer efforts of its 150 employees.

Through the chemical company's Partners in Education program, PPG's efforts reach every aspect of learning-specifically in the fields of science and mathematics. It provides instructional materials to Highland Middle School teachers for use in science classes. PPG employees act as mentors and tutor students twice a week as part of the school's After School for Kids program. Other employees participate in career days, science fairs, Earth Day programs, a quarterly Breakfast Club for academic achievers and the Perfect AttenDance for students with excellent school attendance records-all sponsored by PPG.

In a cooperative effort with Barberton City Schools, PPG established an Ecosystem Learning Center and Educational Trail at the company's Lake Dorothy. The center and trail are used as outdoor classrooms for Barberton's students.

The company estimates that collectively, employees donate 1,000 hours each school year to the programs. Based on a conservative estimate of $10 per hour cited in its Pillar Award nomination form, that equals $10,000 a year in volunteer time. In addition, it took approximately 1,000 hours to help plan and build the ecosystem learning center and trail.

PPG allocates $2,400 a year from its facility budget toward the Partners In Education program. The money is used to pay for science and math books, science kits and other materials PPG donates to the schools.

The company's continuing efforts are aimed at helping to improve educational quality and performance in Barberton's schools, says Betty Naswadi, facilities administrator in charge of the Partners In Education program. "Our employees have really stood up and taken the challenge to give back to the schools. It's been exciting to see the results."

The judges say: PPG has shown very consistent leadership, and this is an excellent commitment to a nonheadquarters community of a multinational corporation. - Kent Clapp

Cause of the Month
Connecting Touch Therapy & Wellness Center Inc., Cuyahoga Falls

Each of Jack Hayes' 2,000 clients gives to charity. That's because since 1997, Hayes' Connecting Touch & Wellness Center Inc. has earmarked money from each massage for charity.

At first, Hayes says, the business donated 5 percent of revenue from each massage. But the company is small-less than $250,000 in revenue for 1998-and the size of his monthly gifts were beginning to choke the young enterprise.

He has since modified the program, donating $1 from each massage, for a total contribution over two years of more than $4,500. And Connecting Touch has spread those donations across the community.

Every month, a new charity is designated to receive the proceeds. Explains Hayes, "We try to educate people. Few people have heard of the smaller charities so they don't get the funding the big ones do."

To further that cause, Hayes sets information about that month's charity in his office waiting room, so clients can learn about the different organizations.

Among the groups that have been recipients of Connecting Touch's philanthropy are Victim Assistance of Akron, Project Learn, the Battered Women's Shelter, the Myasthenia Gravis Foundation, Cuyahoga Falls Cancer Club, YWCA Rape and Sexual Assault Services, Haven of Rest, Good Neighbors of Cuyahoga Falls and Project Linus.

Hayes also provides gift certificates to any organization looking for prizes or auction items for fund-raisers. "I've never turned anybody away who asks for a donation," he says. "When I give, it makes my heart smile."

The judges say: This is an example of a very strong commitment on the part of a start-up. It's quite impressive that charitable giving was a founding tenet of the company. - Kent Clapp

Recommitting every day
Arnold & Co. Communications, Beachwood

At Arnold & Co. Communications, giving back to the community is ingrained in the company's everyday philosophy. Over the past decade, the Beachwood-based public relations firm and its 10 employees have donated time, money and efforts to more than a dozen local organizations.

Ongoing annual financial contributions total more than $3,000 a year, on top of in-kind contributions from A&CC employees who regularly coordinate, design and implement public relations projects to raise money and awareness for the organizations.

"We don't press it upon our employees," says company president Doug Arnold. "It's done by example. We have a lot of people who are individually involved in efforts and donating time. Everyone sees that. So it's really become part of our corporate culture to be committed to the community."

Among its efforts, A&CC has designed and produced invitations for the Rainbow, Babies & Children's Hospital children's fashion shows. Last year, show proceeds were used to purchase new equipment for the neonatal intensive care unit.

A&CC organized and ran public relations activities for Arthritis Foundation events from 1993 to 1995. It designed programs for the American Cancer Society's annual golf tournaments, which raise more than $1 million annually in Ohio.

Employees also regularly contribute to the United Way-more than $2,000 a year-and the agency has received the United Way's Pacesetter Award for 14 consecutive years.

Other organizations the company is involved with include the Cleveland Hearing and Speech Center, Leadership Cleveland, the Special Olympics, Ursuline College, Holy Rosary Church, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, University School and the University of Vermont.

The judges say: The in-kind contributions of this company relative to the staff size are very impressive. They seem to love using their professional abilities to make a difference. - Nelson Bardecio

Finding a theme with many angles
Ross Equipment Corp., Cleveland

Cindy Ross Trotter is a passionate woman when it comes to her business, Ross Equipment Corp. Sixty-plus hour workweeks are the norm. But Trotter is just as passionate about her involvement with charity, specifically the American Cancer Society and other organizations that serve those who suffer from cancer.

Over the past several years, Ross Equipment-which sells and rents aerial work platforms in Northeast Ohio-has forged an ongoing relationship with the American Cancer Society, sponsoring many of its large fund-raising events. Most recently, Ross was the major sponsor for the 1998 American Cancer Society Gala, La Vie en Rose, helping it raise more than $150,000 for the society's cancer control efforts.

Trotter believes it's important to give both time and money locally, and Ross makes regular financial contributions to organizations such as Camp Ho Mita Koda, Fairhill Center for Aging, the Hospice of the Western Reserve, the Cleveland Clinic Foundation Cancer Center and the Ohio Chamber Orchestra.

Trotter herself is a member of the Board of Directors for the American Cancer Society and serves on the governing board for the Cleveland Museum of Health. She's also on the board of her alma mater, Gilmour Academy, which was Glen Oak when she graduated.

"Being in the construction equipment business, we feel we're part of the city's renaissance," she says. "It's mutually beneficial and very rewarding to help make a difference in Cleveland."

But Trotter's not one to let her company rest on past success. "Giving," she says, "is an ongoing process."

The judges say: This company shows how one person, CEO Cindy Ross Trotter, can use her position to make a difference in the community. - J. Lee Bailey

Generating lots of cash
Cleveland Grand Prix Charities, Cleveland

When a group of Cleveland business leaders founded the Cleveland 500 Foundation in 1982, the idea was to host the city's first Indy Car race and generate local support for charity. Sixteen years later, the organization's donations have totaled nearly $1 million.

Because the organization was created for a single purpose-to raise money for charity through the auto race-the Pillar Award judges looked especially hard at the size of its contributions, reaching a near unanimous conclusion: This organization is an overachiever.

In its first six years, the group contributed a total of $40,000 to the United Way and Arthritis Foundation. The real growth began in 1989, when the donation totaled $28,000-most going to the Achievement Center and $3,000 to the Rainbow, Babies & Children's Hospital.

Since then, the organization-which changed its name to Cleveland Grand Prix Charities Inc. in 1995-has added other annual events that complement the Medic Drug Grand Prix and increase the potential to bring in revenue for charity.

In the last nine years, annual contributions have averaged $100,000, and more than 30 organizations have been beneficiaries of that money.

"All the funds through our events are earmarked to stay in Northeast Ohio," says Lori Robinson, manager of special events. "So we know what we're doing helps local groups and the city of Cleveland."

Among the groups Grand Prix Charities helped this past year are the Providence House, Ohio's first licensed crisis nursery for infants and toddlers; the Diabetes Association of Greater Cleveland; the Western Reserve Historical Society; Ronald McDonald House Charities; and Shoes for Kids. In 1997, CGPC donated more than $200,000 to charity.

The judges say: I knew the Grand Prix race raised money for good causes every summer, but I was not prepared for the sheer volume of the financial contributions. - J. Lee Bailey

Pick a cause and make it count
Mr. Hero/Restaurant Developers Corp., Independence

For the past 10 years, Mr. Hero/Restaurant Developers Corp. has been the single largest corporate sponsor of United Cerebral Palsy of Greater Cleveland-earmarking 2 percent of annual revenue to the organization.

Mr. Hero's philosophy has been to establish a strong identification between itself and one local charity. Financial donations so far have exceeded $400,000.

The gifts not only come from the corporate office, but through franchisees and the community-through coin canisters, in-restaurant promotions and the annual "Tee Up for UCP" Mr. Hero Golf outing.

The restaurant group has provided service personnel and a luncheon for the golf outing each year. It also sponsors an annual picnic held by the Children's Programs and The High School/High Tech kick-off celebrations.

"Given the retail nature of our business, we draw all our revenue from Northeast Ohio," says Ronald Wolfe, president and CEO of Restaurant Developers Corp., parent company of the Mr. Hero chain. "We see a total integration with our business and how we spend our money.

Wolfe is personally involved as well. He's president of the UCP Board of Directors and serves as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Cleveland Pops Orchestra. Wolfe was directly involved in UCP's $6.5 million capital campaign, which raised funds for a new facility.

Says Wolfe, "People need to work for more than just profit. They need to count for something and make a difference within the local community."

The judges say: This company is a good example of a restaurant chain that goes beyond handing out free sandwiches at community events. The management takes leadership positions in the causes it supports. - J. Lee Bailey

Giving every which way
Cohen & Co., Cleveland

Organizations that have benefited from Cohen & Co.'s philanthropy span the areas of social service, education, health, economic development, civic affairs and the cultural arts. Over the years, there have been hundreds. Community involvement has been such an integral part of the company that principals say they wouldn't know how to measure the impact of the services offered.

"We are very appreciative and grateful for what the community provides to us," explains Ron Cohen, senior partner. "We feel we owe a whole lot back. Good citiz enship should be part of a license to practice in the community."

In addition to financial contributions in the past year, Cohen & Co. employees have participated in at least nine not-for-profit events, including the March of Dimes WalkAmerica and building for the Lake County MetroParks Penitentiary Glen. Cumulatively, employees spent more than 3,000 business hours on community service, which translates into approximately $750,000 in billable fees.

Employees are also offered incentives to donate money; if they give more than 1 percent of their salary, they receive extra vacation time.

The Cleveland-based accounting and consulting firm also regularly purchases tables at fund-raisers and annual meetings, sponsors fund-raising events and purchases ads in program books. Its employees serve on boards, committees and task forces for all types of not-for-profit organizations.

It leverages its employees' expertise in not-for-profit organization knowledge and currently performs audit and consulting services for 17 groups on a pro bono basis. It also offers a greater than 50 percent discounted fee for another 10 organizations. Those contributions represent more than $150,000 a year in normal fees.

The judges say: They have been extremely charitable in their giving of time and money, and they support an impressively wide range of organizations. In addition, they simply have a long tradition of being very generous. - Fred Koury

Doing the heavy lifting
SS&G Financial Services, Cleveland, Akron

When Saltz, Shamis & Goldfarb approached the Alzheimer's Association two years ago with a proposal to put on a golf outing, representatives of the Cleveland and Tri-County chapters were a bit skeptical of the regional accounting firm's motives.

But SS&G executives promised to handle everything: event planning, participant recruiting, organization, providing volunteers and rounding up prizes. All that anyone from the Alzheimer's Association would have to do is show up and tell participants about the association's good work.

They were astounded, says SS&G Marketing Coordinator Kathy Sautters.

"It's so easy today for a company to throw money at things," Sautters says. "It takes more effort to become active participants in events."

SS&G's first annual Alzheimer's Association Golf Outing raised more than $15,000 for the organization, and employees spent more than 400 hours preparing, organizing and implementing the event.

This year's outing raised a similar amount and helped increase awareness about Alzheimer's disease. The charity was chosen after one of the firm's founders, Marvin Shamis, was diagnosed with Alzheimer's.

But SS&G, with offices in Akron, Solon and Cincinnati, has been involved with other causes, too. Its Harvest for Hunger campaign resulted in the donation of 480 pounds of food to the Akron-Canton Food Bank, 590 pounds of food to the Cleveland Food Bank and 120 pounds of food to the Cincinnati Food Bank.

Other organizations that have benefited from SS&G's efforts are the American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, Inventure Place, Case Western Reserve University, First Night Akron and the JCC of Akron.

The judges say: Outstanding for me was the fact that, although only one of the partners was directly impacted, they all banded together in this service effort.

  • They do the work as well as lend presence and financial support.

  • Rather than use their commitment to pressure employee commitment to the same cause, the managers appear to use it as an example to encourage employees to participate in venues meaningful to each of them. - Nelson Bardecio

    Creating an endowment fund
    Conley Canitano & Associates Inc., Mayfield Heights

    When employees at Conley Canitano & Associates Inc. raised $10,000 earlier this year to create the CCAI Endowment Fund, owners Ken and Karen Conley, and Annette and Nicholas Canitano, didn't hesitate in their response-they matched the $10,000 and promised to match additional employee contributions every year.

    The CCAI Fund is administered by The Cleveland Foundation and is earmarked to meet the needs of children, families and the needy. While the company, an information technology integration firm (and a 1998 Entrepreneur of the Year winner) has been involved with the Bellflower Center for the Prevention of Child Abuse as its primary cause, the new continuing fund will donate proceeds to many organizations.

    As for CCAI's involvement with Bellflower, Karen Conley is a member of the board, and Annette Canitano and Ken Conley are past board members. They have chaired numerous fund-raising programs for the center and held fund-raising activities within CCAI to benefit Bellflower's programs.

    "If you've been given lots of opportunities, you owe something back," says Karen Conley. "We feel a very strong need because we've been blessed by the community."

    Other beneficiaries of the company's efforts are the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Cleveland San Jose Ballet, the Cleveland Orchestra, the University Settlement, the Great Lakes Science Center and the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. The Conleys and Canitanos have also supported the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America.

    The judges say: The endowment fund is an interesting way to make sure their work has a lasting impact. And the matching gifts are simply an impressive case of putting your money where your mouth is. - Fred Koury

    Channel 3/WKYC TV, Cleveland

    In the past year, Channel 3 claims to have helped match thousands of volunteers with local organizations. Its "3 Cares" campaign, organized in concert with the Business Volunteerism Council, has helped raise awareness and educate television viewers about community service groups and the opportunities available for viewers to get involved.

    Every month, 30-second public service announcements are broadcast during prime viewing hours. The spots provide an overview of a specific organization, the services it needs, and a phone number for people to call.

    Channel 3's news department complements those spots with additional stories about the organization, including volunteer profiles and suggestions of how viewers can get involved.

    Among the groups featured are the Diabetes Association of Greater Cleveland, Christmas in April, Cleveland Foodbank, Business Volunteerism Council, American Red Cross-Northern Ohio Region, Project: Learn, Alzheimer's Association, Susan G. Koman Race for the Cure, Center for the Prevention of Domestic Violence and Coats for Kids.

    In September, Channel 3's efforts with the Susan G. Koman Race for the Cure helped increase attendance from 6,000 in 1997 to more than 10,000 participants in 1998.

    Channel 3 has also adopted a Cleveland elementary school, John W. Raper Elementary, and started a tutoring program-Peacock Pals-with the goal of raising 4th grade proficiency test scores.

    The judges say: I am impressed by the innovative way in which TV3 has taken the mandatory institution of the PSA and molded it into a focused campaign for volunteerism. - Nelson Bardecio

    How the winners were selected

    In August and September, SBN solicited nominations from nonprofit organizations, professional service firms, communications companies and the business community through a direct-mail program as well as publicity in the magazine.

    Nominations were turned over to a panel of independent judges, who were asked to select as many as 15 top choices. When the judges returned their selections, the votes were tallied, and nominations receiving the most votes were named Pillar Award winners.

    The judges were:

    • Lee Bailey, executive director, The Citizen's League;

    • Dr. Nelson Bardecio, executive director, El Barrio;

    • Kent Clapp, chief executive officer, Medical Mutual of Ohio;

    • Polly Clemo, associate director for institute advancement, Benjamin Rose Institute;

    • John Hairston, external programs directorate, NASA;

    • Patricia Horvath, associate executive director, The Health Museum of Cleveland;

    • Fred Koury, chief executive officer, Small Business News Inc.