SBN Staff

Monday, 31 December 2001 05:31

Business Notes

Advanced Masonry Technology Inc.

Owner Jeffrey B. Camper has acquired the prefabricated masonry panel system operations of Vet-O-Vitz Masonry Systems Inc. The acquired operations include 32,000 square feet of plant and office space and six acres of storage. Advanced Masonry Technology Inc. is based in Brunswick.

Republic Technologies International

The Fairlawn company secured an extension from the U.S. Bankruptcy Court to develop its plan for reorganization. Republic Technologies International is the country's largest producer of steel bars, with 4,600 employees and sales of nearly $1.3 billion last year.

The University of Akron

The University of Akron's College of Business Administration received a $250,000 grant from the Mary S. and David C. Corbin Foundation. The grant will be used to assist in the construction of a $10 million addition for the new Institute for Global Business, Center for Organizational Development.

Monday, 03 December 2001 08:51

A helping hand

Even for those not directly affected by the events of Sept. 11, getting back to business as usual was more difficult than anticipated. And, as the United States attacked the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, those feelings were compounded.

The following organizations are accepting donations for the victims of Sept. 11.

Uniformed Firefighters' Association

UFA Widows' and Children's Fund

204 East 23rd St.

New York, NY 10010

Tax ID #13-3047544

World Vision

American Families Assistance Fund

(800) 700-4911

www.worldvision.org

National Organization for Victim Assistance

1757 Park Road N.W.

Washington, D.C. 20010

www.try-nova.org

United Jewish Appeal-Federation of New York

World Trade Center Relief Fund

DRD Station

P.O. Box 5314

New York, NY 10150

(212) 836-1486

Twin Towers Fund

c/o NYC PPL

The City of New York

P.O. Box 371

100 Church St., 20th Floor

NY, NY 10007

American Red Cross

American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund

P.O. Box 37243

Washington, D.C. 20013

(800) 448-3543

(800) HELP-NOW

(800) 435-7669

www.redcross.org/

Mercy Corps

U.S. Emergency Fund, Dept. NR

P.O. Box 2669

Portland, OR 97208

(800) 852-2100 or www.mercycorps.org

Salvation Army

120 W. 14th St.

New York, NY 10011

Attention: Disaster Relief

(800) 725-2769

(800) SAL-ARMY

www.salvationarmy.org/

The United Way of New York City

September 11th Fund

2 Park Ave.

New York, NY 10016

(800) 411-UWAY

http://national.unitedway.org/

Catholic Charities USA

Development Department

1731 King St., #200

Alexandria, VA 22314

(800) 919-9338

www.chatholiccharitiesusa.org

Cantor Fitzgerald Relief Fund

(800) 446-0500

www.cantorusa.com

New York Firefighters 9-11 Disaster Relief Fund

(253) 274-0424

Save the Children

(800) 728-3843

The New York State World Trade Center Relief Fund

P.O. Box 5028

Albany, N.Y. 12205

(800) 801-8092

Deborah Garofalo

Thursday, 29 November 2001 17:42

Mid-market medicine

Middle-market companies in trouble because of an economic downturn or other market factors might find a new venture launched by DKW Law Group to be just what the doctor ordered.

DKW Value Recovery LLC offers interim crisis management, turnaround advisory management, bankruptcy advisory management and information technology services to troubled mid-market companies.

"DKW Value Recovery is already involved in several deals, and we are confident in the results this new entity will bring to its clients," says Leo Keevican, managing director.

A construction products manufacturer facing a downturn recently retained DKW Value Recovery, which provided an interim controller and performed an assessment and financial report of the company's engineering and manufacturing processes. The report will be used to run the operation more efficiently.

Ray Marano

Thursday, 29 November 2001 17:34

Employing novel solutions

Businesses at the AIRMALL at Pittsburgh International Airport are getting a boost with a streamlined worker recruitment effort.

The AIRMALL is offering an online application for prospective employees that can be submitted to more than 100 shops, restaurants and services in the airport complex.

For those who prefer, the AIRMALL continues to offer paper applications as well.

"Having a universal application for the AIRMALL streamlines the recruiting process," says Mark Knight, president, BAA Pittsburgh Inc., the firm that manages the AIRMALL. "Making it available online affords added conveniences for candidates, who can submit a single application in the comfort of their own home, day or night."

Meanwhile, JobHouse, operator of the JobMobile, a roving employment and recruiting office, is expanding into outplacement services.

The firm, whose focus has been primarily in recruitment efforts for corporate clients, is placing its JobMobile at key locations to assist dislocated workers in their job searches. Leslie Bonner, president, says the expansion grew out of a similar smaller scale project that JobHouse executed for Allegheny County.

The company offered the service to laid-off US Airways employees in October.

Clients can choose services ranging from basic resume writing and interview training to stress reduction with massage therapy and appearance makeovers. How to reach: JobHouse, www.thejobhouse.com; The AIRMALL, www.airmall.com. Paper applications available by calling 1800-ITS-FAIR.

.

Ray Marano

Thursday, 29 November 2001 06:20

No gamble

Suppose you had $250,000, or $500,000, or even $1 million to loan a friend who wanted to start a business.

You would want to know exactly what's happening with the company, wouldn't you?

Steve Wolever's banker, Charlie Wharton, senior vice president of KeyBank NA, says that's exactly how a bank feels when it lends money to a business owner. In Signature's case, Wolever involved Wharton in his plans to make a big investment in his company from the very beginning.

"Being involved with the entire process from start to completion made it a whole lot easier, so that when we got financial information, it was expected," Wharton says.

To prepare for the loss, Wolever says, the company needed a good financial plan.

"We try to do forecasts really negative and really positive," he says. "We do 12-month forecasting every month for the next 12 months so you know what effect decisions you're making today are going to have. Without that, it's more of a gamble than a plan.

"If we made cuts in anticipation of the loss, our services suffer because we don't have a lot of pure administrative departments. One thing we didn't sacrifice was in the sales area -- that's our lifeblood."

For a period of time, Signature didn't bring on any new hires, but Wolever didn't have to lay off any employees, either.

"We had lot of people doing lot of multitasking, and as we grew we were able to separate out some of those tasks to separate jobs," Wolever says. "We're a people business -- 70 percent of our expense is just in labor. The unfortunate part is there's not a lot of belt tightening that you can do."

Signature was fortunate, he says, because KeyBank supported the plan and maintained the company's line of credit.

"That's how you fund that kind of thing," he says, noting the company was able to borrow based on its large accounts receivable fund, which today is more than $2 million.

In addition, the company doesn't carry a lot of debt. And because of its stability, the timing of the decision to lose money was good.

"A few years before that, we couldn't have done it. We had set a foundation to be able to ride out a single year like that," he says.

"They had been profitable prior," Wharton says, "and had built up a big, strong balance sheet and could stand a one-year loss."

Wharton agreed with Signature's game plan to expand into a certain type of market at least in part because of its past record.

"They already had experience. They had contacts," he says.

Signature executives also had talked to their clients and some potential clients about their idea, so they knew prospects were good.

"They had to gear up with space, people, computers and technology to do that, but they already had some expertise in that area and had some contracts with some major players that would start kicking in," Wharton says.

He suggests that business owners who want to invest in their companies but know there could be reduced profit or even a loss as a result should do enough planning to keep everyone from being surprised.

"One of the best things any business, and small business in particular, can do is work with their bank, their accountant and their attorney as a team and talk about what they're doing, what effects it's going to cause short term and why they think it's going to have a very positive long-term effect," Wharton says.

Along the way, Signature gave Key updates on the status of the new business, another move Wharton recommends so a bank doesn't end up having a knee-jerk reaction and pulling out of the deal when it sees losses it didn't expect.

"If we've got more money into the company in lines of credit or loans or whatever than the actual business owner does," Wharton says, "we've got a real right to be involved with the decision process on what's going to happen." How to reach: Steve Wolever, Signature, 766-5101, ext. 2801 or stevewolever@legendary.net; Charlie Wharton, KeyBank, 460-3433 or charles_wharton@keybank.com

Wednesday, 28 November 2001 11:15

Letters to the editor

Not so smooth waters

I'm writing in response to your October 2001 "Smooth Waters" column written by Andy Birol on advertising agency/client relationships.

You seem to imply that the relationship is necessarily adversarial and that agency and client interests are inherently contradictory. My experience at local, national and international agencies, as well as time spent as a client, all demonstrate the opposite. As counterpoints to your arguments:

  • You talk about a compensation structure in which agencies make money not on their ideas, but on "revenue-generating production services." In fact, that mode of compensation is outdated and inaccurate.

    Most agencies are compensated at least partly on a fee basis, not on production and media commissions. This provides the correct incentives to both agency and client -- agencies are compensated for their expertise in idea and strategy generation and clients receive "media neutral," unbiased production and media recommendations.

  • By virtue of the above compensation structure, there is not a short-term financial incentive for agencies to engage in plots to "control" and "invade the world of business strategy" to "reap the profits" of executing tactics. Nor is there a long-term incentive.

    Agencies thrive as our clients thrive, period. Therefore, to recommend strategies which benefit the agency at the expense of the client is the fastest way for both to go out of business. Not only would that be unethical, but also stupid.

  • Finally, you state that small- or mid-sized clients are "not too profitable" for agencies, unless we can convince them to run a large program (implicitly, too large for what they need). Again, this thought is based on an archaic view of compensation and partnership.

    Our smaller clients often find us invaluable extensions of their marketing departments. Not only do we bring strategy, ideas and passion to growing their business, but we have great depth and breadth of marketing resources -- sometimes more than they do.

    Our small clients often grow to become large clients. Again, as they thrive, so do we.

I encourage you to talk to us, talk to other agencies, and most important, talk to clients. I feel confident you'll gain a different perspective.

Beth Chiarucci

VP, Marketing Strategy

Doner

Wednesday, 31 October 2001 05:20

Customer focused

From the book, ''The Customer Differential: The complete guide to implementing customer relationship management,'' by Melinda Nykamp

How can your company walk the talk of being customer-focused? Here's a recommended course of action:

1. Involve your customers in defining programs and their ideal experience.

2. Understand your customers' definition of a job well done. Understand what they consider unacceptable, a must-do, a nice-to-do and what would wow them. Do this before you roll out a CRM program or an e-commerce site.

3. Keep the customer involved throughout the ''define and design'' stage. This will help you hone the program and work out the kinks in a preventive way, before the program or service is introduced.

4. Remember that customers at different stages of their relationship with you should be treated differently. Communication with your customers is like dating: They find you or you find them. The first interaction you have with them -- e-mail, in person, on the Web, or over the phone -- is pivotal.

5. Learn from others. Great information on best practices for e-mail marketing, customer loyalty, Web site development and CRM is readily available from books, magazines, conferences and on the Web.

6. Focus on continuous improvement. Track what is working and what isn't with your customers. Understand their priorities and identify three things you can do that would most dramatically improve your customers' satisfaction, repurchase habits and loyalty (and your bottom line). Make incremental and regular changes. Show customers you are listening and learning from them.

CRM initiatives can affect all aspects of provider behavior and related customer behavior. Costs can be reduced and revenue increased. If your efforts can influence even a single behavior or customer-related metric, the payback can be enormous.

Your investments in CRM initiatives will result in exponential returns, provided they are executed well.

Wednesday, 31 October 2001 05:11

A strong foundation

In war, when a country gives up and pulls out its soldiers, it is referred to as strategic withdrawal, not defeat.

I always thought this was an interesting way of putting it. This allows the country to withdraw its forces and reorganize while saving its dignity.

The same strategy can be applied to business. Some are withdrawing so they can reorganize to better face these tumultuous times. Since the inception of this magazine, I have never seen this kind of a business climate. Consumer confidence is lacking, fear is in the air and businesses are not sure what to do.

For some companies, this is a time for survival mode, while others try to preserve what they have and move cautiously forward. The tragic events of Sept. 11 pushed an already struggling economy over the edge.

So what are we going to do about it? We are going to fight. We can never give up, regardless of our circumstances. This is a time when we must all work together.

In his inaugural address, John F. Kennedy said, ''Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.'' The same goes for us. What can we do as business owners to help our country and our economy?

One of the first things all Americans did after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks was to connect with someone. We either made a phone call to a friend or family member or shared with someone at work.

This is because we are wired for relationships. It's these relationships that will see us through these difficult times, and it is relationships that will keep the economy going. As business people, we need to understand that we need each other. No person can be an island.

This is a time when we need to reach out to a fellow worker, family member or friend and share what we are going through. It is a time to reach out to other businesses and our associates to establish new relationships and solidify old ones.

Here are four reasons we should reach out to others regardless of our circumstances.

1. Wisdom comes from an abundance of counselors. The more people you talk to, the better idea you'll have of what needs to be done.

2. What goes around, comes around. Lending a helping hand in both your business and personal life now means others will help you when the need arises.

3. The best things in life are not things, they are relationships. Relationships are what define us as people and what move our businesses forward.

4. God opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble. Don't let pride dictate bad decisions. Performing your own strategic withdrawal in order to reorganize for another fight may be necessary to survive difficult economic times.

The world is a different place than it was a few months ago. The best way to get through these tough times -- both personally and professionally -- is to work together. People are the foundation upon which we should rebuild, because nothing can wreck a solid relationship.

So let's lend a helping hand and do our part to rebuild our fragile economy. Fred Koury (fkoury@sbnnet.com) is president and CEO of SBN Magazine.

Tuesday, 30 October 2001 06:37

Business Notes

Reinhard, Kopko, Keller & McDonnell Inc., a CPA and consulting firm in Canton, has acquired D.C. Lemon & Associates, also of Canton.

Diversified Marketing Concepts has purchased the former Redicon Building in Jackson Township.

Akron-based All Aboard Promotions has merged with Think Abacus Inc., a Massillon-based business solutions provider. Steven Zeneri is the new president and CEO of the organization.

Avalon Distributing, a wholesale foodservice distributor in Canal Fulton, has been awarded the contract for 50 TCBY stores in a four-state area. Avalon Distributing is a wholesale distributor of food, paper and cleaning products.

Monday, 29 October 2001 08:59

Trade leads

HONG KONG

Ref. #091401 bottle washer with dryer system

Ref. #090701 cannula, teflon

Ref. #090701 chemiluminescence reagents

Ref. #090701 chromatograph spectrometer system

Ref. #090701 chromatograph/spectrometer

Ref. #090701 consumable for plotters & printers

Ref. #091401 endoscopic system

Ref. #091401 freezers

Ref. #090701 global positioning system receiver

Ref. #090701 intravenous nutrition

Ref. #090701 jacket with detachable vest

Ref. #090701 laser imaging film

Ref. #090701 medicated capsules and tablets

Ref. #090701 mortuary refrigerators

Ref. #090701 refrigerator

Ref. #090701 steam sterilizer

INDIA

Ref. #090501 pumps for dispensing fuel or lubricants/of a type used in filling-stations

Ref. #091201 tubes, pipes & hoses of unhard vulcanized rubber

THAILAND

Ref. #090601 cable support grip

Ref. #090601 commercial fly ash handling system

Ref. #090601 22 kv indoor switchgear substations

PHILIPPINES

Ref. #091201 welding inspection equipment

Ref. #090601 boring or sinking machinery for water well drilling, nesoi

Ref. #091001 central heating subproject

Ref. #092801 coal or rock cutters and tunneling machinery, self-propelled

Ref. #091001 distribution transfomers

Ref. #091001 electrical system and equipment

Ref. #091201 electronic meters

Ref. #091001 gas transmission and distribution

Ref. #091001 industrial pollution abatement

Ref. #090601 pens (ball point, s tip, etc.), mech pencils, etc.

Ref. #091001 power component

Ref. #091301 power system upgrade project

Ref. #091401 pumps for liquids, nesoi

Ref. #091301GEB power systems

Ref. #091201 road rehabilitation project

Ref. #091001 sludge disposal system and engineering facilities

Ref. #091001 welding inspection equipment