When Nokia implemented a mobile marketing campaign to customers in Australia, they did not take into account their users’ privacy from a legal or brand standpoint. The company’s tips for getting the most out of a phone qualified as spam-texting, and instead of boosting business, Nokia was fined $58,000 fine earlier this year and has suffered reduced sales in the region.

“There are laws going into place now more and more around what you can do in mobile marketing,” says J. Robert Kamal, president, CEO and founder of Kohorts IT, a mobile marketing services company headquartered in Brighton, Mich. “ And the biggest common pitfall we’ve seen is companies trying to do this on their own without any experience at all.”

Businesses are increasingly looking to mobile marketing campaigns as mobile usage continues to rise. In fact, mobile Internet access will surpass traditional PC access by 2013, according to Gartner Research.

But in order to take advantage of this new era of marketing, it is increasingly important for businesses to focus on compliance with privacy standards – those set by governments and by customer expectations.

Account for privacy laws

One of the most common mistakes companies make is to create national or even global mobile marketing campaigns based on the assumptions of their local laws, Kamal says. Identify the privacy laws for all regions your campaign will penetrate.

Privacy laws, including the proposed US Mobile Privacy Act, commonly focus on: what data you will be collecting via mobile devices, who will have access to it and what it will be used for.

“Additionally, the user must agree to the privacy policy before data’s gathered, with the opportunity to opt out,” Kamal says. “And you must clearly identify yourself as the marketer. If those things aren’t in place, than you could be putting yourself exposed to legal risk on future litigation.”

Do not share information with a party not listed in your privacy policy – a common pitfall in business.

“If you collect data on a marketing campaign that you did legitimately for one purpose with a customer, and then you took the data from that customer and sold it to another company, that’s a problem,” Kamal says.

In addition to maintaining users’ privacy, you need to respect it in your marketing techniques.

“Engaging in spamming on mobile devices, thinking that because they’re your current customer, it’s not really spamming, is not necessarily the case,” Kamal says. “Those laws differ from country to country.”

Know your brand

In addition to legal issues, spamming can damage your brand image. Think about how you want to portray your business to customers.

“Is your brand a high-quality, sort of expensive brand? If it is, a spam marketing campaign or a campaign that does not respect privacy might actually damage that brand image that you spent so much time building.” Kamal says. “Look at spammers as a sign of a lowbrow marketing campaign.”

Take time to “purpose build” your campaign, as opposed to developing and implementing a mobile marketing program as quickly as possible. Consider a mobile services company to help you do so if you’re new to the process.

“Put a little thought into who your target audience is, what would be effective to actually run the campaign and (what your) intended results are,” Kamal says. “That reduces the risks and a lot of heartache with the client.”

Target your approach

Considering those factors allows you to target your approach in order to market to people with a high redemption rate. Using demand-draw or opt-in methods attract a relevant audience, as opposed to forcing marketing on random prospects.

“You can probably find a list somewhere that might have some relevance to what you’re marketing, but in the end, you’re going to have a high failure rate with just sort of a spam marketing program,” Kamal says.

Users who find the information irrelevant can easily block future messages from your company, as well as all automated messages.

“It’s hard for users to disseminate the difference between a fraud message and a legitimate marketing message unless you are taking into account the user’s privacy,” Kamal says. “Marketing that shows up on someone’s mobile device that they weren’t expecting doesn’t have a high return.”

Utilize social media

Mobile marketing and social media are inherently tied, as mobile devices are now driving most social media, Kamal says. By combining social media and mobile techniques in your marketing campaign, you can more successfully foster demand-draw.

“Set up a contest on social media that maybe draws demand and gets your message across,” Kamal says. “Then people actually ask for your offering. … Those campaigns tend to have a much, much higher redemption rate than campaigns where you just spam users.”

Social media also gives you access to a wealth of information on people’s wants and needs, which you can use to identify prospects.

“You can send back a response to their (post about selling a car) on social media saying, ‘Hey, we have this offer. We’ll buy your car at Blue Book price … as part of a promotion,’” Kamal says. “Then you can embed in the message back – let’s say it’s Twitter – ‘Just text this message to get your coupon code and show up at the dealer and you’ll get your reward.’

“Customers look at … those kind of marketing campaigns as actually useful. Because at the end of the day, if you were gong to buy a car anyway or trade in a car anyway, if you could get $500 off just for going to one dealer versus the next, you wouldn’t see that as an inconvenience. Nor is it an invasion of your privacy.”

How to reach: KoHorts IT, 810-355-1400 or http://kohorts-it.com

Published in Detroit
Monday, 02 April 2012 16:57

Downtown on the rise

One phrase continues to describe construction of the Cleveland Medical Mart & Convention Center since its January 2011 groundbreaking — “on time.”

Scheduled to open in summer 2013, punctual completion of the project is key because Merchandise Mart Properties Inc. (MMPI) has already begun booking conventions and tradeshows, and tenants have already committed to moving into the Medical Mart, says Dave Johnson, project director of public relations.

Project Executive Marty Burgwinkle of Turner Construction Co. is confident the 36-month, $465 million construction venture will continue to hit all milestones as planned.

“Their goal is our goal: let’s just get this done,” Burgwinkle says. “Let’s get it done on time, let’s stay within the budget and let’s have a quality facility. All those goals are what we work on every day to make happen.”

Now 45 percent complete, Turner has achieved several construction milestones since the last Smart Business update:

1) The Feb. 1 “topping out” of the Medical Mart building, marking the placement of the final steel beam.

2) Completion of all trade purchases, meaning the job is now 100 percent bought out.

3) The start of the structural steel erection south of Lakeside Drive.

4) Completion of the site work alongside Public Auditorium on East Mall Drive, which needed to be completed by April 1 for the coming Rock and Roll Hall of Fame & Museum induction ceremonies.

“Our intent is that we’re going to hit all these milestones every time up until the completion in summer of 2013, stay within budget for the county, and the taxpayers are going to get what they asked for,” Burgwinkle says.

For more information: Executives from Turner and MMPI gave Smart Business an exclusive video interview to discuss the work that’s propelling the Cleveland Medical Mart & Convention Center project to new heights:

Watch: “Ready to rock for Rock Hall Induction ceremonies: Public Auditorium update, Cleveland MMCC”

Watch: “What do you do with 11,800 tons of steel? Steel update, Cleveland MMCC”

Also, be sure to check out the Cleveland MMCC live webcam.

How to reach: The Cleveland Medical Mart & Convention Center, www.ClevelandMedicalMart.com

Turner Construction Co., Cleveland: www.TurnerConstruction.com/Cleveland

Published in Akron/Canton

NIVEA Global was looking to partner with a celebrity who could genuinely represent its skincare products in a worldwide marketing initiative celebrating its 100th year. Enlisting the services of Brand Synergy Group, a marketing firm with strong ties in the entertainment industry, NIVEA discovered a perfect match in singer Rihanna, who had been introduced to the brand by her grandmother.

BSG Partner and Vice President Laura Striese joined former Island Def Jam Music Group co-worker and current BSG CEO Jeff Straughn when he founded the firm two years ago, combining their experience in strategic marketing for the entertainment industry to build a marketing agency that pairs celebrities with corporations for advertising and promotional campaigns.

The five-person firm’s portfolio has grown to include partnerships across various industries between well-known names such as Cee Lo Green and Duracell.

“(We) create strategies, really take time with our clients to sit down and decide what it is they’re looking to accomplish and how we can partner them with artists to help them do so,” Striese says.

Identifying constituents’ needs and goals is the first step to facilitating a successful partnership. Begin by reviewing clients’ past methods and strategies, identifying failures as well as successes.

“You never want to spin your wheels and work on something that’s already been vetted, tried and executed, and failed,” Striese says.

This interaction should be direct and personal.

“It’s really important to maintain that level of face-to-face interpersonal communication,” Stirese says. “You have to spend plenty of time sitting down with the client and really getting an understanding of what they’re looking to achieve. And it’s not just a matter of sitting in one meeting; it’s a matter of spending a lot of time with them to understand their long-term goals. Work alongside their existing agencies. … All the information is out there – the goals of all their different silos, be it digital or sales, whatever.”

In addition to giving deeper insight, this personalized association fosters trust – a necessary element for collaboration.

“It’s a bit intimidating,” Striese says. “Where do you begin? How are we going to be able to work together? How do we even begin to have that conversation?”

“A lot of this comes down to word of mouth and the element of trust. … They feel comfortable sharing the information with us and letting us know where projects are going, because they too see the value in this partnership marketing.”

Maintain this personal level of interaction even when not face-to-face to strengthen the relationship, as well as bolster creative exchange.

“Pick up the phone and call people when you need to speak to them, and really work through ideas that way,” Striese says. “E-mails (you) can rely on to follow up and do the next-step-type stuff, but the conceptualizing and getting those ideas fleshed out, we need to really speak to one another.”

Direct communication also ensures clarity.

“When you can deal directly with the brands and with the artists, you understand what both agendas are – you don’t have other people weighing in about their cut of that.”

Once the needs and goals of your constituents have been identified, you can more accurately plan potential partnerships. Brand Synergy Group uses a methodology called Brand Alignment Matrix to evaluate artists’ and brands’ compatibility.

“On one axis we list all of the artists we’re considering for a campaign, and on the other we list all of the brand’s attributes,” Striese says. “We determine which artists are really going to fit for the brand and make sure they will resonate with the brand consumers.”

After taking the time to identify and align constituents’ needs, you then need to facilitate communication between the involved parties.

“Often times they probably feel as though they’re speaking different languages, but at the same time, ultimately, you can help decipher what they’re saying because at the end of the day, they’re both looking to achieve the same thing,” Striese says.

How to reach: Brand Synergy Group, (212) 584-8045 or www.brandsynergygroup.com

Direct approach

Personal communication is a key focus internally for Brand Synergy Group.

“Work really hard as a team to make sure that the team members have all the information that they need, that they’re well-informed, that they have the insight they need to be confident in their ability to create and execute a strategy,” says Laura Striese, co-founder and vice president.

Face-to-face interaction is integral to ensuring employees are well informed.

“Even though we’re in this digital age where e-mails are supposed to help keep businesses moving and flowing, I think a lot of times … that can slow you down,” Striese says. “Get up, get out of your chair and go talk to them.”

This will also push employees to be more independent.

“If you can always reach somebody by e-mail, you can always ask somebody else what you think you should do,” Striese says. “It’s really about delegating and making sure there are great people on the team that are all responsible for different aspects of the business.

While we all work together to strategize and execute, ultimately one or two people are going to be closest to the project and be responsible to make those decisions. So they feel confident they don’t always have to check with everybody else - sometimes there are just moments where you have to make those decisions on the fly, and because they’re closest to it, it’s a well-educated decision.”

Published in National

Inclusion of minority and women-owned companies isn’t just the right thing to do – it’s the smart thing to do to economically benefit the region.

That’s the message from the Northeast Ohio Economic Inclusion Forum Series. The series aims to engage the public, private and nonprofit sectors in creating a targeted, comprehensive economic inclusion action plan for Northeast Ohio.

“A lot of growth in the economy comes from small businesses, and minority small businesses are an important part of that fabric,” says Sandra Pianalto, president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland. “It is very important to our economic growth, both from a region and a country, to have every individual, every part of the workforce, fully engaged.”

The March panel for the third phase of the series, “Perspectives from the Private Sector,” discussed the role larger companies can and should play in fostering economic inclusion, and how this benefits their business.

Create a diverse staff to foster innovation

Inclusion begins internally with the hiring of a diverse workforce, says Chris Connor, chairman and CEO of Sherwin Williams. This ensures you can provide relatable service to your customer base.

“We look to hire, recruit, train and develop the leadership of our company from this broad spectrum of different folks so that we can, in fact, emulate and look like our customers,” Connor says.

A diverse staff also fosters innovation and creativity by bringing together diverse perspectives.

Diversity of ideas is critical to better decision-making,” Pianalto says. “We made it a part of our strategic direction almost 10 years ago to make sure that we had a very diverse and inclusive organization and culture.”

To ensure an inclusive culture, inclusion must be embraced, communicated and incentivized from the top down.

“This is a topic that gets discussed in the boardroom; it’s a goal that I’m measured on by my board,” Connor says. “There are compensation and incentive goals on this topic of inclusion, so it’s on everybody’s hearts and minds. We just made this a business prerogative as opposed to a check-the-box, to-do project.”

How you can help

Although Pianalto says bank lending is on the rise, the current economic state makes it difficult for small companies to gain access to capital. That’s where larger companies can step in to help their client companies.

Paint manufacturing companies commonly support professional painting contractors by selling them the equipment and materials they need on credit. This enables the contractors to begin work, hire others and generate cash flow.

“You’re seeing more businesses step in in a very focused, strategic segment of supporting customers in providing some of that financial quota to get these things going,” Connor says. “We’ve done a lot of that for minorities, and we’ve been richly rewarded by that.”

Larger companies can also ensure smaller companies are able to do business by “unbundling” large projects, breaking it down into smaller pieces so that people have the chance to bid on types of business that they’re capable of handling.

This method was adopted in the building of Cleveland’s Horseshoe Casino, with a point scale used to evaluate potential contractors’ levels of inclusion.

“It takes a little bit more coordination on the front end, but at the back end, the rewards, the mentality, the excitement it creates within the job of people that would have never been afforded this opportunity before is immeasurable,” says Jeff Cohen, CEO and founder of Rock Cos. and vice chairman of the Cleveland Cavaliers and co-visionary of the Ohio Casino Initiative.

While this unbundling can help small companies on a local level, Warren Anderson, president and general manager of Anderson DuBose — the 17th largest African American-owned industrial services company in the U.S. — says this unbundling can hurt growing minority and women-owned companies by making a job too small.

“If you’re a small-to-medium company like mine, a small contract is too small,” he says. “But a national contract with a bundled approach across the country is too large.”

With that in mind, companies can also take another approach to inclusion by giving big contracts to prime contractors that are capable of handling the magnitude and encouraging them to partner with smaller subcontractors for local materials and labor. Cohen says such partnerships added value to potential contractors on the casino project’s inclusion evaluation scale.

Service matters

Women- and minority-owned firms have an obligation to earn business through top-notch service, says Anderson.

“I compete for contracts based on superior price, service and personnel,” he says. “So to me, in terms of running my business, it’s about being as good as anybody and being attractive … for companies to award contracts to, so I’m included in the bids.”

Successful women and minority-owned firms also have an obligation to help other women- and minority-owned businesses with their growth.

“We encourage those who have been successful to turn around, reach back and lend a helping hand to those who have not been as fortunate,” Cohen says. “You need to provide those opportunities, because in many instances, that’s all it’s about — being given the opportunity to perform.”

For more information:

Watch “Rachel Talton of Synergy says economic inclusion action plan will benefit northeast Ohio”

Watch “Jodi Berg of Vitamix Corp. says inclusion promotes innovation and inspiration”

How to reach: The Northeast Ohio Economic Inclusion Forum Series, http://theciviccommons.com/issues/neo-economic-inclusion

Published in Cleveland

Kevin Reddy has a reason to like social media. It’s because of those data points that the chairman, president and CEO of Noodles & Co., a fast-casual lunch and dinner restaurant chain, decided he had to bring the chain to Pittsburgh.

The Colorado-based company has more than 5,200 employees and more than 280 restaurants in 22 states. Two of its newest locations are Market Square and Oakland.

“One of the wonderful things about social media is the amount of data points and guest feedback that you get,” Reddy says. “That’s one of the reasons why we decided we needed to get to Pittsburgh because we’ve gotten quite a few requests over the years about opening in Pittsburgh. It got to the point where we couldn’t ignore it; we’ve got to go.”

In an industry that has seen a decline in restaurants for the past three years, Noodles & Co. has been seeing double-digit growth.

Smart Business spoke to Reddy about what makes the Noodles concept so successful.

Execute growth plans.

For any business to grow successfully today, you’ve got to be one of the better, stronger performers within your niche and within your segment. One thing that we’ve been successful at is we have a pretty simple, focused philosophy on creating a dining experience that we’re really proud of and it’s based on three things; really good food, served by genuine, nice people, in a friendly, welcoming place. That’s what we’ve been doing over the past five years and we just keep getting better and better and better at it.

It starts with being very objective and critical about what you’re currently doing well today and what you’re not doing well today and really understanding how the guests view the brand. It’s one thing if a management team believes something but if the guests believe something else, you’re never going to create that connection that you need to. You have to be very objective and truly understand your guest’s perception of your brand. You’ve got to be very honest and objective of what your system is capable of executing and how well they’re doing it. Once you assess that you can put the right strategy together and form the whole discipline around identifying what’s important, being rigorous in how you innovate, and having a slightly unreasonable expectation in execution.

Grow your infrastructure.

Infrastructure for growth starts with understanding the right risk tolerance level. It’s about funding, it’s about capital, it’s about expectations around growth and you’ve got to believe in your own brand to grow. For anyone to grow, you first have to look at real estate. You really need to understand who your guest is, what influences how far they’re willing to travel and how frequently they come. You’ve got to be able to define those areas that make up the key decision criteria. Understand those big blocks of demographics and how they influence sales within the range of your own concept. Then it’s how do you replicate it. When you’re growing fast, you have to have the analytical model down pretty tight, and then you’ve got to have the discipline to stay true to your site screen.

Enter new markets.

Every year we add two to three brand-new markets. We pick those based on what we can get on data. We try to find out which cities and states are thriving and growing and which are struggling. We picked Pittsburgh because Pittsburgh has done a phenomenal job in staying relevant and transitioning its economy.

You have to really understand the elements of your business and which ones are critical to replicating success because not all things are important equally. You have to look at what’s on the consumer side, on the operation side and then the real estate side. You have to willing to build those systems — the training programs and decision logic before you start growing. You’re always going to modify and get better, but it gets really difficult to build the ship as you’re sailing it and you don’t want to make fatal mistakes early on. What’s critical to the right real estate? How are you going to merchandise and market the guests? How are you going to make the brand relevant and make people aware of it so they’re going to try you? You can’t just chase a number for growth. You have to pay attention to every one of those details because they all have a chance to dilute your ultimate success.

HOW TO REACH: Noodles & Co., (412) 562-2191 or www.noodles.com

Published in Pittsburgh
Saturday, 31 March 2012 20:01

SDLC Partners is in growth mode

Chris Simchick and Scott Barnyak must have missed the memo that companies are supposed to hunker down and not hire while times are tough. The two principal partners of SDLC Partners LP, a 230-employee business and technology consulting firm, hired 100 employees last year and have big growth goals planned for the company.

Founded in 2004, SDLC saw 2011 revenue of more than $24 million, which Simchick hopes to turn into $120 million by 2020. With a focus on strategic planning, cultural values and hiring top-level talent, Simchick and Barnyak are well on the way to making that goal a reality.

“That kind of growth creates tremendous opportunity, but it also creates those challenges for people to step up in a time frame that is meaningful to the business,” Simchick says. “It’s the expectation if you’re going to be a partner at SDLC Partners that you are responsible to challenge ideas, challenge thinking and come up with opportunities.”

It’s this type of mentality that has put SDLC in growth mode. To take full advantage of the opportunities that present themselves, the company plans for the future.

“About 2.5 years ago we embarked on a strategic planning process,” Simchick says. “We engaged an outside firm … not just to facilitate but to bring a process to the table that we then implemented and institutionalized within the company which links both the growth and culture.”

The management team meets once every quarter with the outside strategic steering partner to drive the plan forward.

“No. 1, our team walks out of that room very aligned around the most important things we believe will have the greatest impact for the company this business year. No. 2, we have a plan of attack and an owner of each of those initiatives for the next 90 days.”

Utilizing an outside party helped SDLC see things they might have otherwise missed.

“If you’re not using some outside objective help to do that, you’re probably missing an opportunity,” Simchick says. “The guys that we’ve engaged and worked closely with have gotten to know our business, have gotten to know our people and have held our feet to the fire in terms of being honest and challenging ourselves.”

It is also critical to keep an open mind and listen to other perspectives.

“You have to admit that you don’t know it all and use that as a theme for when you engage both outside help and when you’re looking to hire into the company,” Barnyak says. “One of the challenges that leaders need to be aware of is it’s real easy to hire people like us. You have to make a conscious effort to hire complementary people who bring different skills, techniques and personalities to the table to help you think differently.”

The hiring process is often the most difficult part about running a growing business. Simchick and Barnyak make sure they are always looking for potential new hires.

“One of the biggest challenges is identifying and hiring enough of the right type of people that fit well into the firm,” Simchick says. “If there’s one thing that we’ve continually talked about, it’s how do we accelerate that hiring curve.”

As SDLC has grown and hired new people, Simchick and Barnyak have made sure to keep one thing constant: the company’s culture.

“As the company continues to grow, holding true to that culture that we’ve built is front and center,” Barnyak says. “It’s culture first, skills second. As hard as it may seem at times, particularly while you’re growing fast and you need that technical skill in the company today, hiring to the culture and growing that person in the long-run tends to have the better impact, particularly if culture and core values and those things are important to your organization.”

HOW TO REACH: SDLC Partners LP, (412) 373-1950 or www.sdlcpartners.com  

Diversify your services

While strategic planning and hiring the right talent have played a big role in the growth of SDLC Partners LP, principal partners Chris Simchick and Scott Barnyak look to diversify the company’s services to create new opportunities.

“We looked at horizontal offerings that would apply to almost any industry in a generic sense,” Barnyak says. “It’s leveraging your core and seeing what could be transferable. The trick is finding the right amount of domain expertise to blend with that to lend you some credibility in that area.”

You have to challenge your people to think differently to find ways to leverage the investments that you’ve already made.

“Those become the differentiators that both clients recognize and are where we gain big wins internally because someone stepped forward and identified an opportunity,” Simchick says.

No matter how appealing an opportunity may seem, you have to keep focused on what you’re best at.

“It takes discipline because it’s real easy to get distracted from your core and the things that you do well,” Barnyak says. “If you’re doing something really well and it’s within the core business, extending that core to another industry is viable, but you have to be careful that you don’t get easily distracted and take yourself away from the things you do really well.”

Published in Pittsburgh
Saturday, 31 March 2012 20:01

Cleveland April Deals Page

Leap year is always a fun and interesting time. Started by Julius Caesar 2,000 years ago and improved by the Gregorian calendar in 1582 by Pope Gregory XIII, February adds another day every four years because the earth takes an extra 5 hours and 49 minutes beyond our 365-day calendar to move around the sun. Just as society adjusts its calendar, the M&A market may have to adapt to the way the political and economic climates are moving.

This is also an election year and that always bring a mixture of emotions as voters await the outcome to see who will be selected and what their respective agendas will produce. This year, there are a number of issues that could affect the M&A market. With the current tax laws in place, corporate buyers and private equity groups holding large cash sums available for investment and historically low interest rates, M&A activity should improve throughout the year. It will not be surprising if deal volume gains momentum from anticipated political inevitabilities, similar to the heavy activity at the end of 2010 with the anticipated capital gains tax changes.

Activity in the M&A market did show signs of moving higher in February. According to “S&P Capital IQ,” the number of deals that closed in February was down 16 percent from January. But disclosed dollar volume for the U.S. and Canada was up $6 billion, or 12.5 percent, from January and up $2 billion, or 3.5 percent, from February 2011. It would be encouraging to see this trend line continue into the spring and throughout the year with high values for companies and strong activity in the M&A markets.

For Northeast Ohio, activity was mild.

One company making news was Smart Business Network Inc., which acquired OnMark Solutions Inc. This transaction is the third acquisition Westlake-based Smart Business has made within the past year. OnMark Solutions provides business-to-consumer and business-to-business consulting services for e-marketing. The transaction will allow Smart Business to expand on its marketing communication services for both new and existing clients.

Morgenthaler Equity Partners also had an active month in February, completing both an acquisition and an exit. On Feb. 1, Morgenthaler announced the acquisition of Weber Technologies, by its portfolio company Enginetics Aerospace. Weber Technologies, located in Eastlake, is a manufacturer of precision components for the commercial aerospace and business jet markets with expertise in hydroforming aluminum and exotic metal alloys.

Albert D. Melchiorre is the president of MelCap Partners LLC, a middle-market investment banking firm. He is also a director on the ACG Cleveland board. For more information on MelCap Partners, please visit www.melcap.co. For more information about the Association for Corporate Growth, please visit www.acg.org/cleveland.

Deal of the Month

The deal of the month is awarded to The Andersons Inc., for the acquisition of New Eezy Gro Inc. and Golden Eagle Products. New Eezy Gro, a specialty chemical manufacturer in Carey, Ohio, supplies calcium nitrate and other specialty products to the agricultural and industrial markets. New Eezy Gro’s products are distributed all across the country but are primarily used within the Great Lakes region. The Andersons’ acquisition of New Eezy Gro will expand the company’s existing specialty product line for the plant nutrient division and increase product offerings to key customer groups. The Andersons’ plant nutrient group distributes more than 2 million tons of liquid and dry nutrients annually.

Published in Cleveland
Saturday, 31 March 2012 20:01

Cleveland Movers & Shakers

RPM International Inc., a holding company that owns subsidiaries in specialty coatings, sealants and building materials, announced that it has elected Russell L. Gordon, currently vice president — corporate planning, as vice president and CFO effective April 10, 2012. Gordon is replacing Robert L. Matejka, RPM’s current senior vice president and CFO, who will be retiring at the company’s fiscal year end. 

Gordon will oversee all of RPM’s finance functions, including corporate accounting, financial reporting, global tax administration and investor relations. He joined the company in 1995 and has held prior financial positions in corporate treasury and control, as well as in the specialty chemicals division at Goodrich Corp.

Additionally, RPM announced the following changes within its finance department, all of which will take effect April 10, 2012:

·         Keith R. Smiley, currently vice president — treasurer and assistant secretary, will assume duties of vice president — finance and controller

·         Matthew T. Ratajczak, currently vice president — global taxes, will assume additional treasury responsibilities as vice president — global taxes and treasurer

·         Barry M. Slifstein, currently vice president and controller, will assume duties of vice president — investor relations and planning

USI Insurance Midwest, a provider of employee benefits consulting and brokerage services, has announced the promotion of Kate (Kelly) Bang to the role of president, employee benefits for the Cleveland office. Bang brings a wealth of experience to her new position, as she

becomes the only female office president within USI. She has been with the company for eight years and has most recently served as vice president and senior account executive.

In conjunction with this change, former office president, Bill Ryan will be promoted to the role of chair of the Cleveland office. Ryan has served as president of this office for 20 years and will continue to lend his talents and experience to the organization in his new role as chair.

CyGem Integrated Technology Solutions, an IT firm, has named Lisa Caudill director of operations. She will be responsible for the development and implementation of internal procedures to improve operations and client-related processes.

Caudill has 12 years of related experience, most recently with investment firms ValMark Securities and Bosshard Investment Management.


Cedar Fair, a leader in regional amusement parks, water parks and active entertainment, announced Kelley Semmelroth as the company’s executive vice president and chief marketing officer, a newly created executive role.

The company is adding additional marketing talent to ensure its marketing communications deliver breakthrough growth and its brands are elevated to compete in an ever-changing marketplace. Semmelroth has a deep background in customer relationship management, brand management, advertising and strategic planning.

Semmelroth comes most recently from TD Bank where she served as senior vice president of marketing and previously, Bank of America and Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. 

KeyBank has announced that Alfred Carpetto has joined the bank as executive vice president and head of its Enterprise Commercial Payments Group.

As head of enterprise commercial payments, Carpetto will oversee Key’s treasury management, international foreign exchange and institutional asset services businesses. In this role, he will work closely with Key’s Community and Corporate Bank to implement the bank’s commercial payments strategy. Additionally, he will play a vital role in the development of the bank’s healthcare payments capabilities.

Carpetto is a banking and financial markets industry veteran with more than 20 years of experience. He most recently served as head of global transaction services for the Americas at Royal Bank of Scotland.

PartsSource, the world’s leading provider of biomedical and imaging replacement parts and software solutions for parts procurement and management, is pleased to announce the promotion of Jeff Dalton to COO.

Dalton was one of the original founders of PartsSource in 2001 and has held numerous leadership positions during his time with the firm. During his tenure, Dalton has successfully led sales, training and operations, most recently holding the title of vice president of operations prior to his taking the role of COO.

Published in Cleveland

There aren’t many companies that are able to do what George Young and his team at Kalypso LP can do. That lack of competition and the abilities of the firm have put Kalypso, a 120-employee management consulting firm focused on innovation, product development and product lifecycle management technology, in growth mode and looking to keep that growth going.

Young, co-founder, founding partner, and CEO at Kalypso, plans to grow by 400 percent over the next four years. To accomplish this goal, which they call the four-by-four plan, Kalypso puts a lot of emphasis on hiring talent that fits the company.

“We think that’s realistic based on the demand we see and what we think is possible, because we don’t really have a head-to-head competitor,” Young says. “We want to do four by four, but we’re going to do it while maintaining the values of the firm and that’s the challenge. It’s getting the right people and making sure that the core values of the company don’t change while we have this explosive growth.”

Smart Business spoke to Young about how he finds and maintains top-notch talent to grow his business.

What are the challenges of Kalypso’s growth?

One of our challenges is growing people at the right pace and creating new partners so we have increased delivery capabilities so we can keep up with the demand. Consulting at its core is an apprenticeship model. People come in and they learn the trade by working with senior practitioners, they grow professionally, they’re promoted and eventually they become partners. That career path takes most practitioners seven to 10 years to get there. Kalypso has managed this pretty amazing growth and we’ve only existed for seven years, and you’ve got this apprenticeship model where it takes seven to 10 years for your people to become partners.

Do you promote from within or look outside the company for talent?

There are senior people that might be working in other consulting firms, but they haven’t grown up in our firm. They don’t understand how we work and they don’t understand our core values or how we deliver projects. It is much harder to have those people join and be successful than if you grow those people internally. Our biggest challenge is all around people and getting the people with the right attitude and skill set to do the projects we do. You’ve got to have people that are highly credible. I spend a lot of my time looking for talent, recruiting talent and maintaining the talent that we have because that is the determinant.

What do you look for when hiring new people?

There isn’t a prototypical Kalypso consultant. We have a couple of core values that are really important to how we deliver projects, but they are also really important for when we are looking for talent and recruiting. The first is our diversity statement; characters with character. We don’t hire the traditional consulting automaton. You’re working with creative and innovative types: scientists, engineers, marketing people, advertising and creative services people. All of those people are extremely talented and a little bit weird in a good way. We have to have people like that. There are certain things you can look for on the resumes or certain schools you can go to, but a lot of the interviews have to be around fit. We look for diversity, fit and good weirdness.

How can people make sure new hires are a good fit in their company?

Try to spend as much time with that person as you can. In my experience fit has won more times than strength of resume. The intuitive side of the interview and the intuitive side of how you feel about the person is a strong aspect. Many times you get a resume that just pops out at you. The person has tremendous test scores and tremendous GPA and things like that, but they may not work out as well as someone who maybe doesn’t have those things but turns out to be a more rounded individual. The only way you can assess that is to spend a lot of time with them and do interviews that are nontraditional. I like to take people to Steak ‘n Shake. I don’t take them to a fancy dinner or to a coffee house, I take them to a place that is pretty plebian and we just sit there and we have a conversation. You have to try to do as much as you can to understand their background.

HOW TO REACH: Kalypso LP, (216) 378-4290 or www.kalypso.com

Published in Cleveland

Clevelanders have an amazing ability to come together and support things they feel are important, says Matthew Figgie, chairman of Clark-Reliance Corp. Figgie spoke at the National Kidney Foundation’s Corporate Kick-off Breakfast at Cleveland Browns Stadium earlier today.

Clark-Reliance, recipient of a 2011 Medical Mutual Pillar Award for Community Service, presented by Smart Business, has proved Clevelanders can make a difference through the company’s extensive support of the NKF.

Rick Solon, company president and CEO, chaired the 2011 Northeast Ohio Kidney Walk, which raised a record-breaking $185,000. Clark-Reliance’s 162 walkers raised $2,869 toward this, in addition to the corporate sponsor’s $7,500 scholarship donation.

Figgie, recipient of a kidney transplant thanks to the efforts of Clark-Reliance as detailed here, will continue this spirit of service as chair of the 2012 Northeast Ohio Kidney Walk. The event will take place June 10 outside the Great Lakes Science Center, with a goal to raise $225,000.

“We can make the effort, we can raise the money,” Figgie says. “We have to get the word out, we have to educate people, we have to rally – because this is something that we can control.”

Published in Cleveland