Dont touch that dial
Public-TV honcho Jerry Wareham, GM of Clevelands WVIZ, got a pointed reminder recently of the level of local enthusiasm for one venerable business show. After addressing the Cleveland Rotary Club, Wareham asked for questions. One elderly gentleman proceeded to bitterly denounce him for fiddling with the Friday-evening time slot for Louis Ruckeysers Wall Street Week.
Now we know why nobody buys online
While the majority of small and medium-sized businesses now have some form of Internet connectivity 61 percent for those with two to 99 employees and 82 percent for those with between 100 and 499 far fewer are connected to customers via the Net. A study by the Boston-based Yankee Groups Small & Medium Business Communications group found that fewer than one-third of such businesses are connected to customers in that manner.
Just hope its not you
If you and your employees dont like turning up for work on Monday, says HR consultant Robert Searson, I guarantee you its not because of the work. Its the people, the stress from a few bad people.
And they dont steal office supplies, either
Do you need to watch your back with your employees? The Ethics Resource Center reports that 56 percent of employees admit to lying to supervisors and 41 percent to falsifying records and reports. Of course, they just might be fibbing to the survey-takers, too.
But are the ice cubes Perrier?
In the never-ending hunt to retain highly-sought-after computer programmers, Cole National Corp. may have hit a new high water mark among local companies in providing pampering touches. Outside HR professionals report that the company has established a 24-hour concierge service at its new Twinsburg location to handle such mundane tasks as dry-cleaning runs for valued employees. An in-house manicurist is also available to smooth out the rough edges for the keyboard-banging set.
Anyone have a picture of Cindy Crawford?
Forget about fixing up your companys lobby, and devote the resources to improving your Web site. At least, thats the suggestion of Joel Rube, Web evangelist for the Northeast Ohio regional office of Boston-based IT giant Keane. These days, he says, when people judge you, they dont walk into your lobby, they go to your Web site. So that first page has to look gorgeous.
A boss is a boss is a boss
More than anything else, humans are good at surviving, management consultant Pete McVoy recently told a John Carroll University Private Sector workshop. I can work for Attila the Hun just give them what they want. Which got us to thinking: Might he perhaps have been thinking of his one-time boss, Blue Cross & Blue Shields hard-charging Jack Burry?
They still should have asked
Was that a link to SBN we recently spotted on the navigation bar of the popular Bloomberg News Web site (www.bloomberg.com)? It refers the curious to Small Business News. On closer inspection, it proved merely to launch a browser to a thusly-named subcategory of Bloomberg news and information about that sector of the economy. Besides, were now calling ourselves SBN.
Who are these guys?
We were surprised when recently we stumbled over an entry in the Cleveland phone directory for a Cleveland Publishers Association. Why had we never heard of such an august group? We are, after all, wizened veterans in the local publishing industry. Could it be that theyre having a private party without us? A quick phone call, however, yielded the answer. Its not really a trade group of publishers, but a buying co-operative organized by an obscure ad agency. Phew ...
Ups and Downs
Downs to TRW. The companys about-face, the decision not use LucasVaritys CEO Victor Rice in some meaningful role, has soured auto industry experts and securities analysts. It was a gutsy move, and it certainly wont make the next acquisition any easier.
Ups to AT&T, which will charge consumers a monthly minimum whether they make long distance calls or not. Its a meaningful move to rates that are actually based on cost. If they send us a check for $75 to switch, we might even consider it.
Ups to BioMEMS. The new statewide consortium, which includes the Cleveland Clinic, Case Western Reserve University, the Ohio State University, the University of Akron and the University of Cincinnati, will develop the next generation of microscopic devices. With such big names working on such a promising project, we just hope their egos dont get in the way.
Downs to Ameritech. Its planned merger with CBC hasnt made the former Baby Bell as strong or diversified as was hoped. The telecom giant was forced to cut its wireless services as part of the deal, leaving fewer ways to gain ground on other regional phone companies. The call goes out again.
Ups to Charge Development Co. Plans to convert a vacant Ohio City factory into upscale apartments will eliminate a longstanding eyesore and hopes to expand the downtown renaissance west of the river. Unfortunately, drawing residents to Ohio City instead of downtown will be easier said than done.
Apex Investment partners. Investment focus: emerging growth companies of all stages in telecommunications, software and information technology industries, with additional emphasis in specialty retail and consumer products; www.apexvc.com.
ARCH Venture Partners. Investment focus: seed and early-stage ventures involving information technology, life sciences or physical sciences; www.archventure.com.
Asia Pacific Ventures. Investment focus: seed and early-stage information technology companies with proprietary and leading-edge technologies. www.apvco.com.
Aspen Ventures. Investment focus: Seed and early-stage information technology companies; www.aspenventures.com.
Asset Management Associates. Investment focus: seed and early-stage companies in the information and biological sciences markets; www.assetman.com.
Associated Venture Investors. Investment focus: venture capital partnerships specializing in seed and early-stage investments in high-technology companies positioned for high growth in their markets; www.avicapital.com.
AT&T Ventures. Investment focus: Start-up and later stage companies involving wireless communications, Internet, value-added networking, content or local service; www.attventures.com.
Atlantic Coastal Ventures. Investment focus: telecommunications companies and related service companies operating within markets that reflect convergence; www.atlanticcv.com.
Atlas Venture. Investment focus: early and late-stage information technology life sciences in Europe and the United States; www.atlasventure.com.
August Capital. Investment focus: companies with strong potential to become leaders in important information technology markets; www.augustcap.com.
Avix Ventures. Investment focus: early-stage technology companies; www.avix.com.
Nice attitude, pal
Thousands of businesses fail every year. Many of those couldnt control the most essential element in business attitude. People-Centered Profit Strategies, the new Oasis Press title by Paul Peyton, will teach you how to achieve cooperation among leaders, employees, customers and suppliers to generate a power that is unlimited in its ability to push profits upward.
Hey Sam, can you spare a dime?
Small business lending increased in 1998, but at a much slower pace than lending to large businesses, according to the Office of Advocacys recent report on bank lending.
While the total dollar volume of larger loans of $1 million or more increased by 13 percent in 1998, small business loans of less than $1 million increased at a slower rate of 6.3 percent. The volume of small business loan dollars of less than $100,000 increased only 3 percent. Loans between $100,000 and $250,000 increased 8.1 percent, and loans worth $250,000 to $1 million increased 7.7 percent.
Compared with the dollar value, the number of small business loans (loans of less than $1 million) grew more rapidly by 16.7 percent overall in 1998. Most of the growth was in the smallest loans of less than $100,000, where the dollar volume increased the least. Thus, the average very small business loan was even smaller in 1998, probably because of a boom in the use of business credit cards and lines of credit offered by banks using credit scoring models.
The fact that more loans and loan dollars are going into small business lending is some good news, but small business lending is not keeping pace, says the SBAs Chief Counsel for Advocacy Jere Glover. We encourage small businesses to look at this report as one indicator of the banks most likely to lend to them. And we are still watching the trend toward bank consolidation carefully to see whether small businesses overall share of bank lending will continue to fall.
The effects of bank consolidations continue to be a factor in small business lending. Over the last three years, the number of commercial banks filing call reports declined at a rate of almost 400 banks per year from 10,149 in 1995 to 8,966 in 1998.
Almost all of the decline was in the smallest banks with less than $100 million in assets. In 1998, more than 400 of these small banks disappeared, grew into the next size category, merged with other banks or were acquired. The number of banks in the middle ranges with $100 million to $10 billion in assets increased. Banks with $10 billion or more in assets declined from 64 to 61.
The small business lending emphasis of banks of different sizes also changed in 1998. The largest banks increased their small business lending much more than small banks, in part by promoting more small business credit cards and small lines of credit. However, their small business lending volume increased less than their assets and total business lending. As a result, the ratio of small business loans to total assets declined in these very large banks.
Meet me at the meeting
Time spent in meetings can be as much as 50 percent of the total work week, so effective meetings can have a major impact on the success and the bottom line of an organization. Productive meetings can save time and money. Not Another Meeting: A practical guide for facilitating effective meetings teaches participants and leaders how to get the most out of their meetings. Managers learn how to create objectives and agendas, establish and reinforce ground rules that keep participants on track and resolve conflict and disagreement.
The books author is Frances Micale; it is published by the Oasis Press.
Just promote it, baby
Design your own calendar for name recognition 365 days a year, says Raleigh Pinskey, author of 101 Ways to Promote Yourself. Calendar Association statistics show that only 2 percent of U.S. households are now calendar free, and that the average home has about five calendars.
You can go through the photo shoot and print it as a big four-color job, or you can buy existing calendar shells and attach your name to it. Ask any large printer or promotional items company for more information about calendar shells. Associations and organizations will often supply members with the opportunity to buy in bulk.
Depending on your need for professionalism, you could take your own pictures, then take them to a photo house to duplicate and mount. Then you buy calendars from a stationary store and attach them to the mounted photos. Take pictures during the year of the people with whom you do business, and use their photos, with permission, for your calendar.
But I wanted to retire yesterday
An Individual Retirement Account can be a great tool to maximize your retirement assets, but it does have some drawbacks:
- IRAs are not liquid. Although you can withdraw money before retirement, the penalties for doing so are stiff.
- Withdrawals made before age 59 1/2 are subject to a 10 percent penalty unless they are used for qualified medical expenses.
- Withdrawals of more than $150,000 in any year are considered excess distributions and subject to a 15 percent excise tax.
- IRAs may not be used as collateral.
For the thousands of entrepreneurs who are strapped for time and would love to have their own online operations center, MegaDepot.com is launching a new site aimed squarely at their needs. MegaDepot.com has unveiled a new name and a new site: Onvia.com. Entrepreneurs will find a one-stop source of business services, products, expert advice, and free tools, all designed to fulfill their critical need to get it done. Onvia.com is a business-to-business destination, designed around the needs of a specific niche: the emerging business marketplace.
Onvia.com was founded in 1996 (as MegaDepot.com) and has grown rapidly as an Internet-only reta iler of business products and, more recently, services. Since the second quarter of 1997, revenues have grown more than 100 percent each quarter. Currently, the company serves more than 100,000 members, and is expected to grow to more than 1,000,000 customers by the end of this year.
Unlike other sites that pass customers to several different buying environments to complete their transactions, entrepreneurs can conduct all their transactions in one place with Onvia.com, including inputting credit and registration information once, rather than many times. In addition to the availability of 25,000 products in the computer hardware, software, phone systems, office supplies, office machines and office furniture categories, key features seamlessly provided at the site include:
- Paging services
- Business credit cards
- Merchant accounts
- Debt collection
- Temporary employment/recruiting
- Long distance services
- Cellular services
- E-mail services
- Free domain name registration
- 5-Click-Store, a cost-effective way to set up an e-commerce store
- Internet access with dial-up, dedicated ISDN, DSL and T1 options
- Web hosting
Providers of these services include @Work, Verio, Sprint, Earthlink, MCI, Cable Wireless, Qwest, Skytel Paging, Advanta Business Services, Heartland Payment Services, National Credit Services and Net-Temps.
Sit down, Goliath, Im in charge here
As the information age changes the ways that companies do business, one critical theme has emerged: Small companies and sometimes even individuals have to deal with big companies more often and more directly than ever. How can a company with one or two principals come to the negotiating table on an even footing with a staff of corporate lawyers, accountants and executives?
Silver Lake Publishings new book, Negotiate Like the Big guys: How Small and Mid-size companies can balance the power in dealing with corporate giants, can answer this question. Combining her own insights with memorable case studies, worksheets and sample forms, author Susan Onaitis gives readers the tools for equalizing any advantages that larger companies may have. Topics include:
- Sizing up the people on the other side.
- Steering negotiating toward collaborative solutions.
- Handling adversarial talks gracefully.
- Determining where to start so that you dont have to give up too much.
- When to walk away and what to do when the other side walks.
- What to do when someone is lying to you.
- Smoothing out corporate culture clashes.
Time was that smart sales people and journalists didnt mind cooling their heels in a companys lobby while waiting for appointments. In just a few minutes, a sharp pair of eyes could pick up any number of clues about the organization.
But Joel Rube, formerly a Web evangelist for Keane & Co.s Cleveland office, and now in a similar role for Chicago-based Navigent, says the new window into a companys soul is its home page. These days, when people want to make quick judgments about your company, they visit your Web site, he said at a recent public forum. So that first page has to look gorgeous. Im not saying anything about content it has to look gorgeous.
Monitoring the tube
Employment attorney John Cernelich of Calfee, Halter & Griswold LLP isnt your ordinary couch potato. With the recent spate of well-publicized outbreaks of deranged people going on rampages in the workplace, he admits to being on edge whenever he switches on the local news.
I go home and see Channel 8 or Channel 3, and you see some shooting at a workplace or some other horrific case of workplace violence, and I run to the set, hoping that its not one of our clients. Thus far, he happily reports, none of his clients have been targets.
Steel exodus continues
Not long after World War II, a German visitor, looking out at the mighty blast furnaces of the Flats from high up in the Terminal Tower, was moved to remark that if Hitler had ever seen that awesome industrial display, he never would have started a war against the U.S. Alas, the local steel industry is but a shell of what it once was. And in the latest indicator of the sectors decline in these parts, the Steel Services Institute, an industry group headquartered in Cleveland for 80 years, is due to move to Chicago this month.
Rare victory for labor
Union organizing campaigns havent been racking up much success in recent years. But the United Auto Workers is celebrating one recent victory: A successful organization of a Kmart distribution center in Warren, not far from Youngstown. But the unions biggest potential prize in this region, the venerable Lincoln Electric Company, thus far continues to elude it. The UAWs organizing campaign there remains tied up in legal proceedings.
Our readers in Dallas
Not long after her work was featured in SBN earlier this year, management consultant Susan Aldrich got a call from a stiffly formal gentleman whom she at first assumed to be a telemarketer. To the contrary, it turned out to be an editor at Temp Digest in Dallas, who had seen the article in SBN and was impressed.
Would she be interested in writing a column? he inquired. She was floored, but quickly agreed. Meanwhile, closer to home, the article apparently resulted in her landing a first-ever consulting assignment at the blue chip P.R. firm of Dix & Eaton, for which shes due to mount seminars on customer service.
Putting a name with a bra
A few months ago, SBN profiled Beachwood-based Leading Lady. At the time, president Mark Corrado and CEO Al Corrado said the company was looking to strengthen its brand identity. Corrado wasnt kidding.
In September, the nursing and maternity bra manufacturer announced the restructuring of three newer product lines, shifting the focus from private labeling to branded products featuring the Leading Lady name. Explains Al, Our newer niche products, developed over the past five years, will benefit tremendously by adapting the Leading Lady name.
A return to yesteryear
Youve finally arrived: A nice four-bedroom home in Hunting Valley on five acres with a stellar view of the woods. So whatever happened to the allure of that original American home the log cabin? The National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) recently undertook the task of remodeling a 200-year-old log cabin from Overton. The historic cabin was dismantled and shipped to a Texas company, which will restore it and ship it back in pieces later this year. Upon its return to Cleveland, the cabin will be reassembled at the I-X Center for display at the January NARI Home Improvement Show.
Its all in the ads ... but dont tell the editorial department
Nearly 96 percent of decision makers read advertising to learn about new technologies, products or equipment, according to a survey by Penton Research Services. The survey asked 1,200 executives, managers, purchasing agents and engineers whether advertising played a part in their decision making. Among other findings:
85 percent learn about new suppliers in their markets through ads;
81 percent read ads to stay current with their existing suppliers;
83 percent read ads to request product literature.
While the results back up the power of advertising, dont rush off to eliminate your editorial department. Few things top the power of editorial copy, which has the ability to delve deeper into subject matter than conventional ads. Well, at least we think so.
A breeding ground for innovation
Authors Joe Pine and Jim Gilmore, owners of Strategic Horizons LLP, are on the national speaking circuit. The two creativity integrators will be featured speakers at the Innovative Thinking Conference Feb. 8-9 at the Scottsdale Center for the Arts in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Pine and Gilmore are part of a group that includes author Kurt Vonnegut and Harley-Davidson Motor Co. vice president of business development Clyde Fessler. The conference is designed as an educational resource for executives who want to develop their creativity and encourage innovation throughout their organizations. For more information, visit the conference Web site at www.itconference.com.
Another way to give back
Cohen & Company, a 1998 Pillar Award winner, continues to give back to the community that supports it. The Cleveland-based CPA firm in October founded the Cohen Community Foundation in the name of newly retired founding partner Ronald B. Cohen.
The foundation starts with $50,000. Contributions will be made to cultural, civic and other areas benefiting Northeast Ohio. Cohen & Co. has been an active donor of money, services and time to charitable organizations, and managing partner Randy Myeroff says the foundation will help ensure Cohen & Cos continued involvement.
Bank One and the U.S. Small Business Administration have launched Community Express in the Cleveland market, designed to provide lines of credit, term loans and commercial mortgages to small businesses which have difficulty obtaining traditional loans.
Community Express loans range from $15,000 to $250,000, significantly more than the maximum $150,000 provided by the SBNExpress program. One benefit is post-loan technical assistance. Five area nonprofit organizations, COSE, EDI, the Hispanic Business Association, MCAP and WECO, will participate. Turnaround time on applications is about 36 hours. For information, call (216) 781-4210.
And you think youve got competition
Staying on top in the information age is an increasingly difficult challenge, even for the monoliths of the business world. During his recent Northeast Ohio appearance, Cisco Systems Inc. President and CEO John Chambers provided his own take on the Internet revolution and how it will level the playing field for small companies.
Anyone doubting Cisco Systems has reason to worry about competitors might want to consider a few figures Chambers threw out to the lunchtime crowd. More than 40 percent of the venture capital in the U.S. is dumped into Silicon Valley. More than a third of that results in ne w companies that provide direct competition for Cisco Systems.
Tim LaGanke, the man who brought the Lube Stop 10-minute oil change to Cleveland, left it behind and returned to the industry only after finding a way to make the business more profitable, is at it again. His new company, Quick Change, opened its 13th Cleveland area location last month along Detroit Road in Sheffield Village.
The tiny modular oil-change facility, for which LaGanke holds a patent, will be squeezed in between a car wash and a BP gas station. It is the 31st modular oil change facility the construction side of Quick Change has installed either for itself or other companies in the past three years.
Before you dump money into that cant lose franchising opportunity, Cleveland-based Barnes Welding CPAs Inc. urges you to first invest some time in a reality check. Here are questions the firm says you should ask before signing:
- What distinguishes this franchise from the competition?
- Is the name or product unique enough to make it worth the franchise fee?
- Does the owner of the franchise create new programs and products that make the franchise royalty a worthwhile expense?
- Is the industry in a growth cycle?
- Is the business just a passing fad?
Reaping the benefit of the Browns
If theres any question about the benefit of shelling out the money necessary for a major sports sponsorship deal, consider the exposure National City received Sept. 9-12 as the Browns returned to Cleveland for the first regular season home game in three years.
NatCity Investments had its name tied to the NFL Experience a football-themed festival usually reserved for The Super Bowl which set up camp at Voinovich Park during opening weekend. Then, National Citys Armada Funds sponsored the 5K run as part of the kick-off festivities. National City also signed rookie quarterback Tim Couch to a three-year endorsement deal to promote the companys line of tie-in banking products.
100 years of labor
In honor of the last Labor Day of the century, the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees asked a handful of experts in economic policy to rank the 10 most important labor moments of the century.
No. 7: The Fair Labor Standards Act (1938): The first federal minimum wage law for nonagricultural labor. Set a minimum wage of 25 cents, banned child labor in all businesses engaged in interstate commerce and provided for overtime compensation.
No. 4: General Motors sitdown strikes (1964): The strikes started with a sitdown job action by 50 workers at a Fischer Body Plant in Flint, Mich. an action that inspired similar strikes by 485,000 workers across North American in eight months. The Flint strike last 45 days, with strikers winning a five cent an hour raise and an agreement by GM management to rehire all strikers and recognize the union.
Number 1: Committee for Industrial Organizations founded (1935): Congress of Industrial Organizations was formed after the American Federation of Labor voted against organizing workers across trades in factories, continuing instead the traditional approach of organizing by craft or trade. It opened to door to what would become labors core constituency mass production workers.
Hill Flaherty Sabol and Carroll Advertising have merged their operations to form Flaherty Sabol Carroll. The new firm reports capitalized billings of approximately $12 million and 17 employees.
MSA PASS Inc. has received a contract to provide a Level 2 control system for a vacuum tank degasser at TAMSA, a Mexican steel plant located near Veracruz.
FastSigns on Banksville Road has opened a trade show display division, which it is calling Display World. The new division adds the Intex line of trade show booths along with the Fastsigns products.
U.S. Tool & Die Inc. is expanding its operations at Keystone Commons by leasing an additional 52,000 square feet, bringing its total floor space to 150,000 square feet by next February. The company employs 150 people at its facility, which manufactures spent nuclear fuel racks.
Pittsburgh Home Savings Bank is building a new banking facility in the Village of Pine, a planned town center project in Pine Township. The branch, Pittsburgh Home Savings 10th, will include a full-service office and three drive-up automated teller machines.
Stargate Industries has acquired InetONE, a Beckley, W.Va., Internet service provider. The purchase adds 9,000 subscribers to Stargate Industries roster in a five-county area.
VayooMall.com Corp. has launched an e-commerce Web site, www.vayoomall.com. The sites package of services will initially target the Indian community working in North America and eventually will expand to encompass international professionals working abroad.
Pellegrini Engineers, a consulting civil engineering firm with headquarters in Altoona, has opened a Pittsburgh office.
Small companies and health care
Maybe it’s because small business owners have to look at their employees every day. No one can be really sure, but recent numbers about employee health care costs are a bit startling.
Only 75 percent of employers with fewer than 250 employees require their workers to pay part of their health care coverage. Meanwhile, 94 percent of large companies with 2,500 or more employees require employees to pay part of their health care coverage. These figures were uncovered by Watson Wyatt’s 1998/99 ECS Survey Report on Employee Benefits.
Health care compensation blues
CEO pay packages at the nation’s largest publicly owned, for-profit health care companies remained flat in 1998, reflecting Wall Street’s continued skepticism of an industry troubled by a stunning drop in market value, according to a new study by William M. Mercer Inc.
From fiscal year 1997 to 1998, the median increase in total cash compensation, which includes base pay and bonuses, among health care CEOs was 5 percent, due largely to a median salary increase of 9 percent. However, total CEO pay packages at the largest health care companies actually declined due mainly to poor stock performance, but nevertheless a rare phenomenon in the world of executive compensation.
What drug abuse costs your company
If one of your employees is using on the job, it could be costing you as much as $10,000 each year. That comes from Cyndy Cook, director of marketing and sales for Clinical Health Laboratories Inc.
“In addition,” she says, “the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation discounts premiums from 6 to 20 percent for organizations that develop a drug screening program in support of a drug-free workplace.”
The best care everywhere
A research corporation announced that the Cleveland Clinic Foundation is one of the nation’s top 126 hospitals, according to the 1999 Consumer Choice Award winners. Hospital consumers selected the clinic as one of those having the highest quality and image in 101 markets throughout the United States.
This is the fourth year National Research Corporation (NRC) has bestowed awards on hospitals. NRC President and CEO Michael Hays said the company expanded winning criteria this year to reflect composite scores on multiple quality and image ratings provided by consumers in NRC’s annual Healthcare Market Guide Study. Of the 2,500 hospitals rated by consumers, the winning 126 rank highest in their Metropolitan Statistical Areas, defined by the U.S. Census Bureau. The 1999 study surveyed more than 170,000 households representing more than 400,000 consumers in the contiguous 48 states and the District of Columbia.
Here’s to your health
According to Yahoo! News, Ohio’s Senate Finance Committee will recommend to the full Senate that the state’s share of the tobacco settlement be used for schools, research and health programs.
Some Republicans wanted to use the money for tax cuts. They claimed they had the votes to insert the tax cuts as an amendment to a bill being considered on how to divide the money. The amendment never surfaced, and Gov. Bob Taft’s aides say they do not expect it to be revived when the legislation reaches the Senate floor for a vote.
Mike Hargrove may have been dismissed from his high-profile position as manager of the Cleveland Indians, but Akron-based Fussy Cleaners isnt necessarily going to follow suit by dumping its commercial spokesperson, his wife, Sharon. At least not right away.
For the better part of the last year, Mrs. Hargrove has put her sassy West Texas twang to good use in radio and print ads for the chain, which has 18 locations in four Northeastern Ohio counties. In the radio spots, she can be heard singing the praises of her personal Fussy Cleaners delivery person, who dutifully and cheerily picks up and delivers the familys laundry to their house (in Strongsville), thus making her life easier in preparing for her husbands long road trips.
Fussys president and founder, John Baraona, met the former First Lady of Cleveland baseball at a meeting, where she spontaneously remarked how much she enjoyed Fussys service. That led to the relationship.
He says hes made no decision yet on whether shell remain a factor in the chains marketing mix for this next year, now that her husband has been hired by the Baltimore Orioles.
Our radio spots are going to continue to run until the current schedule is through, and then well go from there. This is long-term, institutional advertising, says Baraona, who has previously distinguished his company from the competition by running a series of restrained image ads on Clevelands public-television station WVIZ. She doesnt say, Come on in.
And, he hastens to points out, lest one mistakenly conclude that his choice of spokespeople is influenced by his interests as a fan: Sharon and I never talk about baseball. Ive never even met Mike.
So, now you know
According to Baker, Thomsen Associates Inc. which provides survey reports on median salaries if you live in Akron and you hold one of the following positions, you should be taking home an annual salary of ...
Director of Operations $73,789
Information Systems Manager $49,387
Purchasing Director $42,537
Public Relations Manager $40,095
Personnel Manager $40,019
Executive Assistant $31,497
Since these median salaries are those of entry-level positions, if youve been on the job for a while and your paycheck is below par, maybe you should talk to your boss. And if youre the CEO? Take it up with the board of directors. Source: www.salariesreview.com/freedata
Successful CEOs dont just remember their mistakes, they try not to repeat them.
But, as president and CEO of Davey Tree Expert Co. in Hudson a landscaping firm employing about 250 people in Akron and 6,000 nationwide Douglas Cowan says its hard for a CEO to let employees make their own mistakes.
Cowan says he made one of the biggest mistakes of his career by not firing a senior-level executive sooner.
Hed been here a long time, he wasnt doing the job that needed to be done, and we hung onto him too long to the point where somebody could have come in and made things run a lot better, a lot faster, Cowan explains. It also resulted in a loss of morale in the department.
The point is, Cowan says, How do you allow the next generation to make mistakes that arent going to kill you, and yet will allow them to learn and grow?
Crystal Mortgage Co.s nearly two year battle with the city of Amherst came to a close rather unremarkably as company CEO David Moore agreed to drop his civil suit against officials there. After spending $100,000 to fight a relatively inconsequential tax dispute with the city and running a campaign that successfully ousted city Law Director Allan Anderson from office, Moore agreed to call off the dogs in exchange for a simple public apology. With it, he proved that the pen is mightier than the sword.
Acquiring mind strikes again
Terrence Profughi doesnt know the meaning of the word standstill. The acquiring mind CEO of Hi TechMetal Group (profiled in SBNs August 1998 issue) purchased two more companies last month: IMT, of South Carolina, and Fusion Engineering Co., of Columbus. HTG is comprised of 22 strategic business units that have been started or acquired over the past 15 years. Under Profughis leadership, HTG has grown from $1.2 million in sales and 38 employees in 1984 to $55 million and 700 employees in 1999.
Knowledge is power
In a sign that Cleveland area businesses take software, hardware and the Internet seriously, six local organizations were the recipients of the first annual Cleveland-Area Knowledge Industry awards in November. TMW Systems Inc., PlanSoft Corp., Cleveland Live, Flashline.com Inc., Perritech, Lorain County Community College and Cuyahoga Community College were honored by the Northeast Ohio Software Association for their commitments to the emerging knowledge industry. For more information, visit NEOSAs Web site at www.neosa.org.
Ever wondered just how your companys salaries stack up in comparison to the average? Do you get the employees you want in this tight labor market or do prospects choose your competitors firm over yours? Two Web sites let you benchmark your employees paycheck against the going rate. Baker, Thomsen Associates (www.SalariesReview.com/freedata) and the ERI Economic Research Institute (www.erieri.com/doltrends) offer insight into competitive pay rates for more than 3,000 jobs defined by city, state, region, experience and job responsibilities. Be prepared for a surprise.
Working the niche
QuickChange, the 10-minute oil change chain Tim LaGanke has built over the past four years, grew by 50 percent last year, with similar growth anticipated this year. LaGanke, who formerly co-owned Lube Stop chain, plans to open another six oil-change shops by the end of 2000.
LaGanke targets secondary markets and installs his patented modular 10-minute oil change buildings on affordable, often unusable lots about the size of four parking spaces. In addition to 12 QuickChange stores in the Cleveland market, there are 18 others around the country, which are owned and operated by private investors.
Ameritech New Media strikes again
Northeast Ohio cable companies should be afraid, very afraid. After popping up to do battle in 11 local communities, Ameritech New Media the nations largest competitive cable company is introducing a new fiber optic service in Garfield Heights. Boasting a razor sharp picture, 99.9 percent reliability, an interactive television listings guide and 24-hour customer-care line, Ameritech New Media may quickly catch the attention of other city leaders hoping to breath a little life into their communities dusty cable packages.
Not fading away
For anyone still thinking the Linux operating system is going to be a passing fad, there are solid new numbers showing its popularity is on the rise. In a national survey by California-based RHIConsulting, 57 percent of chief information officers polled believe use of the Linux system will increase over the next three years. Three percent projected a decline. The survey polled 1,400 CIOs from a stratified random sample of U.S. companies with more than 100 employees.
Ohio companies expect a dramatic increase in exports over the next five years, according to a joint study conducted by Xavier University and Cleveland State University, and sponsored by the U.S. Department of Commerce. Of the business owners who responded, about two-thirds saw a substantial increase in exports over the past five years. Almost three-quarters expect an export volume increase of more than 50 percent.
The forecast is good news because it seems to be just the opposite of the national trend, according to Dr. William J. Lundstrom, Professor of Marketing at CSUs College of Business and a co-author of the report.
The U.S. has a growing trade deficit caused by the purchase of more goods and services imported to the U.S. than U.S.-made goods and services exported to other countries, Lundstrom told Global Vision, a publication of the World Trade Center Cleveland. The situation worsened rather than improved over the past several years.
For more information on the report, visit www.wtccleveland.org.
Join the revolution
Small Business Survival Committee a Washington D.C.-based nonprofit organization geared toward protecting the small business owner released a disturbing report on the local telephone industry and its unfair treatment of small companies even after the Telcom Act of 1996.
A thorough study of the current state of local telephone service leads to a simple conclusion: Even after the promises of the Telecom Act of 1996, the local telephone industry remains one of the most anti-competitive industries in America, says SBSC Chair Karen Kerrigan. With repeated attempts to gain access to local telephone customers being fought by Bell monopolies in practically every state, markets remain closed or difficult to penetrate.
The SBSC is trying to convince lawmakers that small businesses need more local telecommunication choices to compete against large corporations, since upgrades promised by providers, the report points out, have gone largely unfulfilled. To obtain a copy of the SBSC report on local phone competition, click on Whats New at www.sbsc.org.
Lamson & Sessions on the defense
A U.S. District Court judge in Illinois in November denied Cleveland-based Lamson & Sessions request to set aside a jurys decision to award Illinois-based Intermatic $12.5 million in damages in resolution of a patent infringement case. The court also ordered Lamson & Sessions to pay $1.5 million in prejudgment interest to Intermatic. The ruling came two months after a jurys ruling that Lamson & Sessions infringed on Intermatics patent for an outdoor electrical outlet cover.
Passing the bell to generation three
Jess A. Bell Jr., grandson of founder Jesse G. Bell, has been named chairman and CEO of Bonne Bell Inc., a Lakewood-based cosmetics and beauty aids manufacturer. Bell takes over from his father, Jess A. Bell, 74, who assumes the post of vice chairman of the 72-year old company.
We are now officially in the third generation, says Bell, whose innovative use of senior workers was profiled in SBNs April 1999 issue. Very few private family businesses make it to the third generation.
Hospitals get creative
Nine out of 10 of the 185 hospitals and other health care organizations surveyed by HR consultants William M. Mercer Inc. reported turnover among RNs was a problem. Organizations exceeding revenue of $500 million rated the problem as significant. Not terribly surprising, given todays tight labor market. The shortage has forced health care organizations to sweeten the pot to keep RNs on the payroll.
Increasing base pay was the most common approach and rated as very or somewhat effective by 96 percent of respondents. Pay raises are often excellent as a short-term solutions, but may be insufficient as a long-term approach unless employers also make other changes to the work, says Mercer pay expert Jose Paogoaga.
Continuing education was rated as very effective by 30 percent of health care organizations, while flexible scheduling and shifts was at 28 percent. Although it looks like showing employees the money may be the most dependable option, Pagoda says it is an issue that cant be avoided when an RN shortage means longer response times, a reduced capacity to treat patient or even errors.
At some point, these negative outcomes will have an effect on a hospitals bottom line, he says. It costs an organization one-and-half to two times annual salary to find and train a replacement for an employee who leaves.
Do-it-yourself business valuations
You want to know the value of your business, but dont want to hire a high-priced business consultant to do the work for you. Companies are cropping up with products allowing entrepreneurs to determine a value for their business in the comfort of their own homes. Colorado-based Innovative Professional Software Inc. offers a program to value your business for a mere $200. VALUware, a different business valuation program, is for sale at www.bizbookssoftware.com for $330. The only question seems to be whether any of these means of business valuation would hold water with the IRS.
Health care compensation blues
CEO pay packages at the nations largest publicly owned, for-profit health care companies remained flat in 1998, reflecting Wall Streets continued skepticism of an industry troubled by a stunning drop in market value, according to a new study by William M. Mercer Inc.
From fiscal year 1997 to 1998, the median increase in total cash compensation, which includes base pay and bonuses, among health care CEOs was 5 percent, due largely to a median salary increase of 9 percent. However, total CEO pay packages at the largest health care companies declined due mainly to poor stock performance but nevertheless a rare phenomenon in the world of executive compensation.
A lesson in self-promotion
A survey at Chicagos OHare and Dallas/Ft. Worth International airports found 72 percent of business travelers were carrying at least one promotional product imprinted with a companys name, logo or message. Even more incredible was the fact that 77 percent of those polled said they used the promotional product once a day. Pens and pencils topped the list of favorites, followed by clothing. But, before you go rushing out to buy those fleece pullovers bearing your companys logo, consider that the Promotional Products Association International conducted the survey.
Ever wanted to find a batch of new clients just like the ones you already have? InfoUSA.com, a widely popular business-to-business Web site, is offering a Customer Analyzer that helps find new prospects free of charge.
(It) takes the mystery and guesswork out of prospecting for new customers, says Bill Chase, CEO and president of InfoUSA.com. It answers the age-old question: How do I find really good sales leads for my business?
Web site visitors are asked to supply the phone numbers of existing customers and click a specific geographic area to build the profile of new customers. The user can then search, sort and print the results. The list of prospects includes contact names, fax numbers and credit ratings. Impressive results for a few minutes of work.
Another chunk of medal for the collection
Clevelands youngest microbrewery, Western Reserve Brewing, added another national medal to its quickly growing collection a silver at the Great American Beer Festival in the category of Belgian & French Style Specialty Ales for its Cloud Nine beer. More than 400 breweries from around the nation competed in the festival. The beer joins other Western Reserve winners American Wheat Beer, Amber Ale, Nut Brown Ale and the seasonal Lake Effect Winter Ale.
Small companies and health care
Maybe its because small business owners have to look at
their employees every day, but recent numbers about employee health care costs are a bit startling.
Only 75 percent of employers with fewer than 250 employees require their workers to pay part of their health care coverage. Meanwhile, 94 percent of large companies with 2,500 or more employees require employees to pay part of their health care coverage, according to Watson Wyatts 1998/99 ECS Survey Report on Employee Benefits.
What drug abuse costs your company
If one of your employees is using on the job, it could be costing you as much as $10,000 each year. That comes from Cyndy Cook, director of marketing and sales for Clinical Health Laboratories Inc.
In addition, she says, the Bureau of Workers Compensation discounts premiums from 6 to 20 percent for organizations that develop a drug screening program in support of a drug-free workplace.
The best care everywhere
A research corporation announced that the Cleveland Clinic Foundation is one of the nations top 126 hospitals, according to the 1999 Consumer Choice Award winners. Hospital consumers selected the clinic as one of those having the highest quality and image in 101 markets throughout the United States.
This is the fourth year National Research Corporation (NRC) has bestowed awards on hospitals. NRC President and CEO Michael Hays says the company expanded winning criteria this year to reflect composite scores on multiple quality and image ratings provided by consumers in NRCs annual Healthcare Market Guide Study. Of the 2,500 hospitals rated by consumers, the winning 126 rank highest in their Metropolitan Statistical Areas, defined by the U.S. Census Bureau.
The 1999 study surveyed more than 170,000 households representing more than 400,000 consumers in the contiguous 48 states and the District of Columbia.
TV delivered over the Internet will create a new tier of niche content. Short videos on PCs will be commonplace by 2002; digital set-top box users will spend 10 percent of their TV time on Net video by 2004, according to Nua Internet Surveys.
Plenty of coal left for Christmas
A new report from the Center for Energy and Climate Solutions finds that despite a 9 percent growth in the economy during 1997 and 1998, energy consumption dropped more than it has in 50 years.
A major contributing factor is the information economy and the efficiency afforded by the Internet. Whereas traditionally global economic growth was synonymous with massive increases in energy consumption, the dawning of the technological era could mean this is no longer valid.
Because the Internet uses existing communications infrastructure, it is consuming a minute amount of energy compared to other industry sectors. The report finds that this is set to continue, and by the year 2007, the Internet will have contributed to previously inconceivable reductions in the worlds consumption of energy. Source: Nua Internet Surveys.
Here come the French
French users spent an average of three hours on the Internet in October, while British surfers spent four and Germans, about five. The average American home user is on the Internet for about five and a half hours each month. When work-related use is taken into account, this rises to about eight hours per month, according to a report from MMXI Europe BV.
According to a study by Forrester Research, 64 percent of Asian-American homes are linked to the Internet, twice the U.S. national average. Asian-American families also have a higher than average household income and spend more online than any other racial group in the United States.
Bank hold-ups rising
One in five users are likely to abandon setting up a new online banking account because of time-consuming red tape and complicated deposit procedures, according to a survey published by Frederick Schneiders Research.
Some companies in the financial services sector reported that up to 80 percent of those who began to open an account online did not complete the process. Despite this, 80 percent of U.S. consumers who use online banking services prefer them to traditional banks.
Free to a good home
The number of U.S. Internet users with free ISP accounts is expected to escalate to 13 million by the year 2003, according to research from Jupiter Communications.
Almost 13 percent of the ISP consumer market will use a free service as their primary service. While this will not threaten the subscription-based model, it will introduce flexible options. As most Internet users worry less about cost than they do about fast downloading and reliability, free ISPs are viewed as more of a niche market than serious competition for existing ISPs in the U.S. According to Jupiter, free ISPs will have to offer advertisers a sharply-defined user base as they are only expected to garner $901 million, or 8 percent, of total online advertising spending by 2003.
How to speak Australian: rip-off
According to Telstra, Australias largest telecommunications company, Internet access rates in the Asia-Pacific region are higher than average because users are forced to subsidize American Internet users. While Australian ISPs have to pay to access U.S. Internet backbone providers, there are no reciprocal charges imposed on U.S. ISPs for access to Australian services. Essentially, Australian users pay to access U.S. Web sites while U.S. users get free access to Australian sites.
Competitive Media Reporting announced that new media companies accounted for $775 million in advertising in the first half of last year, a threefold increase over 1998 figures for the same period. Meanwhile, a report from Zenith Media finds that the number of e-commerce companies wishing to use traditional advertising to push their wares has fueled global ad spending beyond expectations.
In Silicon Valley, online retailers were responsible for 17 percent of spending on radio ads and 11 percent of outdoor advertising in the first half of last year. Source: Nua Internet Surveys.
Someone has to eat crumpets
A survey conducted by Cranfield Management in conjunction with Microsoft finds that 73 percent of British executives do not believe technology is strategic to the growth of their business. The survey found that, on average, British directors allocate 8 percent of their time to the needs of their customers. This despite the fact that consumer power is growing exponentially as a result of the Web.
Who needs it?
New research from Cyber Dialogue finds that the rate of Internet uptake in the United States has slowed considerably, reflecting the gradual maturing of the market in the U.S. As a result, online marketers must invest heavily in customer relationship management and customer retention schemes.
The drop in pace is not a result of seasonal aberration; rather it is because of three major constraints, according to Cyber Dialogue. The most consistent is the so-called digital divide, those adults who cannot afford to own a PC or pay for Internet access.
Second, one-third of U.S. adults believe they have no need for the Internet and have no intention of getting online. Third, a significant number of U.S. adults have tried the Internet and found they have no use for it they number 27.7 million, up from 9.4 million in 1997.
The servers are on, but nobody is home
A new report from Jupiter Communications finds that despite the critical need for more substantial customer support, the number of e-mail queries being answered is decreasing.
The survey sent customer inquiries to the top 125 Web sites in the retail, travel, content, financial services and consumer brand sectors and found that customer service failure rates are higher than last year. Only 37 percent of companies surveyed have integrated three or more customer service channels on their Web sites.
While half of shopping sites responded within a day and 40 percent of travel sites responded in one day, shopping sites demonstrated a 40 percent failure rate, up from 28 percent last year, while travel sites had a 48 percent failure rate, up from 38 percent.
Just under half of all Web sites tested, 46 percent, did not respond for five days or more, did not respond at all or did not have contact details on their site for customer queries. In the same survey last year, this figure was 38 percent.
According to Jupiter, the most frequently trafficked sites have to process upwards of 50,000 transactions per day and many are finding that fulfillment of these orders is stretching customer service resources.
The latest figures from Nielsen/NetRatings show that computer hardware sites and automobile sites are the most popular shopping destination sites for adult males over the age of 18.
The top shopping sites for adult males were Egghead.com, Onsale.com, Dell.com, Buy.com, Compaq.com, Mcafree.com, Gateway.com, hp.com, Autotrader.com and Autoweb.com.
Yahoo! sales are through the roof!
On the Friday after Thanksgiving, traditionally the biggest shopping day of the year in the United States, shopping transactions on Yahoo! were up 400 percent over the same day last year.
AOL announced that spending at the site during Thanksgiving week nearly tripled over the same week last year. Four million AOL members bought online last week and almost 600,000 of those were purchasing on the Internet for the first time. Toys, clothing, flowers and sporting goods were the products most favored by customers.
Companies hosting large Internet retail operations are experiencing a doubling of traffic every four to five months, with more than 6 gigabits of information sent per second during peak times, compared to 2-3 gigabits this time last year.
Many retail sites are experiencing site outages as a result of the unexpectedly heavy traffic. Customers are having difficulties logging into toy retailer sites and some companies are offering discount vouchers to appease disappointed visitors. Source: Reuters
Do you take Diners Club?
Twice as many U.S. adults used credit cards to buy products and services online in 1999 than did in 1998, according to research from Cyber Dialogue. While 9.3 million people used their credit cards to buy on the Internet in 1998, that has soared to 19.2 million. In 1997, 4.9 million people purchased online.
Almost 70 percent of respondents used Visa to complete their online transactions. One-third used MasterCard; 12 percent, American Express; and 8 percent, Discover.
Visa leads the field in terms of the total value of online transactions, but the survey showed that MasterCard and American Express have a higher share of dollars spent, partly because these cards are often used for higher value transactions, such as the purchase of travel tickets, online.
Targeted at small businesses and accessible from anywhere through a standard Web browser, Formsplanet.com hosts a catalogue of virtual business forms that can be customized, filled, issued and archived directly from the Web site. Far beyond paper replacement, this application service provider hosts efficient e-document technology to enable small offices/home offices to establish a more professional corporate identity without the expense of paper stationery, specialty software and server infrastructure.
Partners such as Entrust Technologies Inc. and Corel Corp. are working with Formsplanet.com to ensure that all types of documents, from invoices to time sheets to proposals, can be custom branded and stored securely in virtual file cabinets as they have never been before.
To visually enhance and customize business stationery, Formsplanet.com visitors can select from 1,000 professional-quality clip art images from Graphic Corp, a division of Corel Corporation and the worlds largest supplier of digital content.
Clueless in telecom
In a survey of 12 North American wireless carriers, Forrester Research found that 83 percent have not addressed the need for new business models and pricing structures for mobile e-commerce.
Carriers have it all wrong, said Mark Zohar, senior analyst with Forrester. The study, The Dawn of Mobile eCommerce, advised businesses aiming to compete in the wireless market to focus on developing new business models for mobile e-commerce and to review existing partnerships and pricing models.
According to Forrester, carriers investing in third generation wireless systems must look at what structures they need to put in place to deliver relevant, personalized locationbased services on thin mobile applications.
To provide the services that consumers expect, carriers need to improve their data transfer capabilities. Existing cellular networks and infrastructures need to be upgraded, and this could cost billions of dollars, according to Forrester.
The group expects business users to be among the first mobile e-commerce consumers and advises mobile service providers to partner with small device manufacturers and develop travel-oriented content to retain early users.
Talking shop with my PC
Online retailers who have not invested in customer service could end up losing $3.2 billion in sales this year, according to a report from Datamonitor. Last year retailers with no customer service support lost up to $1.6 billion in sales.
A report from Datamonitor advises businesses to invest more in customer support and less in trying to garner new clients. Rather than spend exorbitant amounts of money on
marketing and advertising, these companies should start investing in live customer service.
As the list of excuses for substandard performance on e-commerce sites this year decreases the technology is there and mistakes made last year should not be made this year retailers are hoping to turn new shoppers into loyal shoppers this season.
Datamonitor advises retailers to invest in providing live customer support in the form of instant messaging, call centers or IRC technology. Less than 1 percent of sites have live support and Datamonitor says that 10 percent of sales lost could have been saved by contact with a person.
The research company projects that by 2003, 40 percent of companies will provide multimedia customer support.
Experiencing an illness, such as the flu, causes psychological stress that can make people feel mildly depressed. It can also trigger depression in those who are prone to it.
If someone is already depressed, that person is less likely to take care of themselves, such as getting a flu vaccine, said Dr. Toby Goldsmith, clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Florida. Like any stress, the stress associated with being ill, such as missing work, may trigger depression in someone who is prone to depression.
Goldsmith said a study shows those who are chronically stressed do not respond to the flu vaccine as well as others, and may be more vulnerable to the flu.
Warning signs can indicate if you are heading down a slippery slope toward being overstressed and include not sleeping well, fatigue and avoiding your usual day-to-day activities, such as watching television and eating.
If you are not back to your normal routine one month after having the flu, Goldsmith recommends talking with your physician to make sure something else might not be causing your symptoms. Source: Dr.Koop.com
A recent study by Canadian scientists showed that highly stressed heart patients did not respond as well as others to medication for angina and chest pain. The American Heart Association says patients with heart failure should take steps to reduce and manage stress to reduce strain on their hearts.
Of stress management in general, though, the American Heart Association (AHA) says that the available data do not yet support specific recommendations for its use as a proven [prevention or treatment] for heart disease.
How you cope with stressful situations may make a difference, especially if you habitually react to stress in ways that feed physically harmful emotions such as chronic hostility. Stress management is not about avoiding stress but, rather, learning to manage its recurring effects.
Everyone who drives gets cut off in traffic now and then and gets a burst of adrenaline produced by fear or anger. Some people can quickly relax and return to a normal physical state. Others stew about the incident, and make things worse by discussing it with others who share their hostility and feed it with stories of their own.
In heart failure, the heart muscle is weakened and the patient needs to take care not to make it work harder than necessary. Its important to reduce physical symptoms of stress a pounding heart and heavy breathing as much as possible. Though avoiding all stress may be impossible, you may be able to adjust your activities to avoid stress triggers such as rush-hour traffic or long hours at work. Source: Lifescape.com
While cigarette smoking has been well established as a major cause of heart disease and stroke, some studies have suggested that its harmful effects are muted in smokers with low cholesterol levels.
Now, a study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association reveals that cigarette smoking significantly increases the risk of these diseases even in low-cholesterol populations.
Look in the bottom drawer
Dont skip meals. Eat a variety of foods every four or five hours. Keep snacks such as power bars, trail mix or dried fruits handy to fill in when time doesnt permit a real meal.
For some people, asthma is a minor annoyance just a cough or two after they run. For others, its a life-threatening condition they live with every day. The number of cases is on the rise more than 17 million people in the U.S. have the disease, an increase of more than 75 percent since 1980. As the number of patients has risen, so have the larger consequences of the disease.
Today, asthma is one of the top reasons for hospitalization of children, causing kids to miss more than 10 million school days a year and adults to miss 3 million days at work. It is responsible for more than 10 million doctor visits a year and will be responsible for more than 5,600 deaths this year, more than twice as many as 20 years ago.
Smoke is not a nutrient
Secondhand smoke, also called passive smoking, can have terrible effects on kids. Children who are exposed to smoke have more ear infections, asthma, pneumonia, bronchitis and a respiratory virus called RSV than children of nonsmokers. Children exposed to smoke have lower lung capacity and slower lung development than unexposed children, says Dr. Nancy Snyderman.
Over the long term, these kids are at increased risk of developing lung cancer and other conditions associated with smoking and stand a much greater chance of becoming smokers themselves.
Many parents may be unwilling or unable to quit smoking. But if they understand the dangers to their child, they may at least be willing to stop smoking around their children and inside the home.
The piercing truth
The American Dental Association doesnt sugarcoat its opposition to oral piercing, which it deems a public health hazard. In fact, oral piercing would be obsolete if the decision rested solely in the hands of the ADA, according to Dr. Gary C. Armitage, a dentist and chairman of the ADAs Council on Scientific Affairs.
That the topic had a place on the agenda of the groups 139th annual session, held recently in pierce-happy San Francisco, says a mouthful about the widespread popularity of the practice, even among folks who floss every day. Oral piercing can result in a number of adverse oral and systemic conditions, according to the ADA.
Common symptoms after piercing include pain, swelling, infection, increased salivary flow and gum injury. In addition to the risk of infection, which is especially high due to the vast amounts of bacteria in the mouth, problems include airway obstruction after swallowing jewelry, prolonged bleeding, chipped or cracked teeth after biting jewelry, scar tissue, speech impediment and interference with X-rays.
The ADA joins other venerable medical institutions and organizations that have seen fit to address a wide range of concerns about puncturing body parts, including but by no means limited to ears, eyes, mouths and noses, as well as necks, nipples, navels and sundry genitalia.
The American Academy of Dermatology has taken a position against all forms of body piercing with one exception: the ear lobe. Skin specialists cited nickel allergies, cyst formations, chronic local infections and granulation tissue (fleshy bumps that form during the healing process of some wounds) as reasons not to pierce.
The ear lobe has been singled out because it's made of fibro-fatty tissue and has a good blood supply, which is crucial in case infection sets in, says Dr. Ronald Wheeland, a Santa Fe dermatologist. The piercing sites deemed especially problematic by the academy involve cartilage which, once infected, can whither and shrink because of a paltry blood supply, and complex tissue structures such as the nipples, which are more than simple skin and fatty layers.
The uncomplicated navel, although it has no ducts like the nipple or cartilage like the nose, has not received the same tacit approval from the academy as the ear lobe. However, individual doctors seem not to be as concerned about piercing the umbilicus as they are about other body parts.
As a precaution against the transmission of blood-borne diseases, the U.S. and Canadian Red Cross wont accept blood donations from anyone who has had a body piercing or tattoo within a year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have deemed nonsterile piercing a serious health risk.
Although HIV transmission is a theoretical possibility the virus that causes AIDS dies at room temperature hepatitis is the real worry. Hepatitis B and C can be transmitted in as little as 0.00004 milliliter of blood and can survive on blood-contaminated surfaces, such as instruments and doorknobs.
Cancer or clueless?
An estimated 4 to 6 percent of a doctors patients are considered hypochondriacs, says Dr. Brian Fallon, an associate professor of psychiatry at Columbia University in New York and co-author of Phantom Illness: Shattering the Myths of Hypochondria.
For them, a headache is not caused by stress, but a brain tumor. Fatigue is not attributable to a poor nights sleep, but AIDS. In a desperate quest to reassure themselves, they may visit doctor after doctor. Even after tests rule out a particular disease, they feel little relief.
The new wonder drug.
A recent study suggests that vitamin C may actually help people with hypertension, or high blood pressure.
A report in a recent issue of the Lancet, an international medical journal published in Britain, presents the results of a small trial of vitamin C as a treatment for high blood pressure. Researchers from the Boston University Medical School and Oregon State University studied the effect of daily 500-milligram doses of vitamin C on the blood pressure of 39 people with high blood pressure.
The study subjects included 20 women and 19 men who were approximately 48 years old. At the beginning of treatment, their systolic blood pressure, measured when the heart contracts to pump blood, averaged 155 millimeters of mercury. Their diastolic pressure, measured between heart contractions, was about 87 millimeters of mercury. A person is considered hypertensive if his or her systolic pressure is greater than 140 millimeters and diastolic pressure is greater than 90 millimeters.
Patients were randomly assigned to receive either the daily dose of vitamin C or a placebo. Neither the researchers nor the subjects knew which pills were given to which patient.
Subjects took the pills for one month, after which their blood pressure and vitamin C blood levels were measured. As expected, vitamin C supplementation significantly increased the vitamins blood levels. In addition, there was a significant decrease of 13 millimeters of mercury in the systolic pressure of subjects taking vitamin C. Those who received vitamin C also had a small decrease in their diastolic blood pressure, but this decrease was not statistically significant. The greater the change in the blood level of vitamin C, the greater the decrease in blood pressure.
How about a friendly wager?
The following signs and symptoms indicate compulsive gambling:
- increasing the frequency and the amount of money gambled;
- spending the majority of free time thinking about gambling;
- spending an excessive amount of time gambling at the expense of personal or family time;
- being preoccupied with gambling or with obtaining money with which to gamble;
- feeling a sense of euphoria, an aroused sense of action or a high from gambling;
- continuing to gamble despite negative consequences such as large losses, or work or family problems;
- gambling as a means to cope with uncomfortable feelings;
- chasing, or the urgent need to keep gambling, often with larger bets or greater risks to make up for losses;
- borrowing money to gamble, taking out secret loans or maximizing credit cards;
- bragging about wins but not talking about losses;
- frequent mood swings higher when winning, lower when losing;
- gambling for longer periods of time with more money than originally planned;
- lying or secretive behavior to cover up extent of gambling. Source: Drkoop.com.
When Jamie Cain founded her Akron computer firm in 1995, she wanted to convey her companys mission in her business name. So she went to great lengths to secure the identity that Internet companies are now clamoring to call their own.
If youve driven near the intersection of Arlington Road and I-77, youve likely seen her buildings 50-foot-high, 10 feet by 16 feet sign touting the company name: Dot.Com Technologies Inc.
Were a computer consulting company that does all the really complicated stuff in back-end Internet development, so I picked out Dot.Com Technologies and acquired first-use rights on April 4, 1995. But today, its an ongoing battle with other companies trying to say theyre Dot.Com, she says, explaining that although the trademark remains unassigned, her attorney assures her that its her baby, due to her first-rights claim.
Unfortunately, Cain was too late to seize the same moniker for her Web site. So she settled for DTIServices.com. On the up side, she says the business name has boosted the value of her company.
When a patient recently attempted to schedule minor surgery recommended by her doctor, the appointment clerk expressed surprise that the procedure was being scheduled before the insurance company approved payment. The patient was, in turn, amazed that anyone would wait to see what insurance would pay or even care if it did.
Hugh McLaughlin, D.O., of Cuyahoga Falls Family Practice, explains that managed care insurance has changed everything.
Its a whole different scene than five years ago. Today, many patients get so frustrated because their insurance wont pay for certain procedures, and if its not covered, theyll go without the procedure even though they know their medical condition will worsen.
But theres a twist, says McLaughlin.
Often, these are the same patients who will argue about a $10 co-pay and show up in my office three months later with a $6,000 breast implant paid for out of pocket!
Personal calls on company time?
Why would a business owner enlist the help of a private investigator?
Besides rounding up the usual suspects in cases such as embezzlement and missing inventory, Design Safety Investigations Inc. in Fairlawn gets some strange calls from CEOs. Company president Joe Forgach and his partner Andy Kasarda recently closed a case that involved some very personal calls on company time.
Alarmed at outrageous charges on his firms monthly telephone bills, a CEO asked Forgach to solve the mystery.
It sounded like someone was going to porno sites on the Internet and billing it through the Internet Service Provider. Turned out, an employee was disconnecting the computer from its dedicated service line and putting a phone in its place to make calls to a porno establishment, Forgach reveals.
Rather than providing a credit card number to pay the 900 number fees, the employee had the charges reversed.