Heidi Golledge can speak to the benefits of an early start in entrepreneurship. While a student, she began selling candy bars via fundraisers and would give all her earnings to her single-parent mother to help pay household bills. She later began selling rabbits to pet stores, and earned enough money to purchase a computer.
With that entrepreneurial background and her education, she began brokering home loans, but despite some lucrative periods, she wanted her own show. She saw an opportunity to partner with companies like Monster.com to offer another layer to the recruiting business that would allow more visibility to job opportunities via multiple channels. She met her future business partner and in 1999 the two started CyberCoders.
The company has developed into a leading, worldwide recruiting firm that utilizes technology and highly skilled recruiters to match people with companies.
Golledge later bought out her partner to take the company in a strategic direction that brought financial risk — an online career community (“job blog”) that would eventually be known as the CareerBliss arm of CyberCoders. She was determined to offer a way for people to learn about a company’s culture before seeking a job there to make sure that the culture fit the person’s needs and career path. The risk paid off and CareerBliss produced 100 percent year-over-year growth in revenue for the last three years.
Built on a recession-proof business model, CyberCoders has opened or expanded multiple offices during the recent economic downturn. While others were laying off employees, CyberCoders was opening offices and hiring more people, taking advantage of top talent.
Inspired by her family values, Golledge makes them her business values as well. She treats employees like family and looks to make them feel successful and happy. Golledge believes that a happy person is a productive person, and she has zero tolerance for disrespect in the workplace.
CyberCoders, www.cybercoders.com; CareerBliss, www.careerbliss.com
Retail & Consumer Products
When Nick Seedorf was completing his religious studies in college, he believed he was on a journey, and he could see himself investing in the spiritual lives of college students.
But he had no idea that instead he would follow in the footsteps of three generations of family entrepreneurs instead.
More than 10 years later, he has one of the fastest growing companies in the nation, with nearly 100 employees and millions in revenue. But what does he believe is the best part about this? He still invests in people and relationships — through an opportunity he never expected.
After college, Seedorf’s high school hobby of buying and selling products grew into an e-commerce business called myGearStore.com, a mobile accessories retailer. The company was started in his one-bedroom apartment while he was a newlywed. The enterprise grew over the next few years, and he wanted to consolidate his suppliers through a distribution company, rather than continuing to buy direct from so many manufacturers.
Seedorf researched distributors, but he found no one was solely focusing on mobile accessories and keeping the right products in stock. Along with his insights into the size of the opportunity and the unaddressed pain points of retailers, Seedorf saw the need for a distributor who was a trusted adviser and had high-touch service and the right product assortment.
He launched nuCourse Distribution Inc. on Jan. 1, 2008, as an electronics accessory consultant as much as it is a distributor. Molded into an accessory advisory firm, the company focuses on building one-to-one relationships with each brand and each customer to effectively be “the matchmaker” in the marketplace.
This customer intimacy strategy has helped Seedorf build and keep customer connections and has given the market an understanding that not every retail outlet desires the same product, but the demographics of an area defines product sales.
How to reach: nuCourse Distribution Inc., www.nucourse.com
Retail & Consumer Products
Personal ego was the furthest thing from John Fuller’s mind when he took over as CEO at The Johnny Rockets Group Inc. Instead of talking about what he wanted to do, Fuller set out to build lasting relationships with people in the corporate office and with franchisees and suppliers for the eateries that offer “timeless American food.”
And when he learned that no CEO from the company had ever visited its top suppliers or stepped foot in a particular franchise location, he became even more driven to develop a strategic plan for the future that incorporated everyone’s insights and contributions.
Fuller found that many of his franchisees had set their own path because of the lack of communication from the home office. The result was a company culture that had splintered in many different directions and left the organization without a strong common identity.
Fuller spends about half the year visiting restaurant locations to speak with employees and customers. He takes feedback and uses it to shape the decisions that are made at locations around the world. The effort has brought alignment and a sense of empowerment to employees who feel like they are a bigger part of this iconic organization.
His goal was not to turn every location into a clone of the others. One of his four key business principles is to focus on building leaders who can be difference-makers, rather than caretakers. By building a solid team able to handle the day-to-day operations, leadership can make decisions that can make a long-term difference in the business.
Fuller also believes in the need to see how customers are experiencing the product on a regular basis, which avoids being caught by surprise by a flaw in the service delivery. He advocates making every customer smile at least once during a visit to create joy, as well as understanding when problems do arise.
How to reach: The Johnny Rockets Group Inc., www.johnnyrockets.com
Retail & Consumer Products
Hezy Shaked has faced many different challenges throughout his life. So when he and his wife, Tilly, realized that $3,000 was not going to be enough to complete their cross-country journey of the United States, Shaked was not shaken a bit.
He was committed to being the provider his family needed, so this young man who had been born and raised in Israel took his first U.S. job at a garage. His living accommodations were under a staircase, but Shaked remained positive about his future.
He took inventory of what he could do and focused on the idea that all humans need clothing. So he took a few retail items and a strong work ethic and traveled to an Orange County swap meet.
Things began to come together and Shaked evolved from a few items at a swap meet to a truck full of new clothing and apparel to the opening of his first retail store in Los Alamitos, Calif.
As the founder, chairman and chief strategy officer of Tilly’s Inc., Shaked continued to focus on providing value and working hard to get his customers what they wanted. He was willing to make investments to build the infrastructure he needed to keep his company growing.
This high level of commitment is also evident in the way Shaked goes about hiring employees and building a strong culture. He understands how much his employees depend on him for their livelihood and makes sure they see it every day. He is willing to spend money to make things happen, but is careful about those decisions so that he doesn’t put the future of the organization at risk.
It’s a spirit that allows the company to succeed and allows Shaked to help those outside Tilly’s who really need it. The company has consistently supported a number of charitable causes through both its time and monetary donations.
How to reach: Tilly’s Inc., www.tillys.com
Real Estate & Hospitality
David Kim and Jerome Fink co-founded The Bascom Group, a private equity firm primarily specializing in value-added multifamily real estate investments, in 1996. At the time they acquired their first multi-unit property, California was facing a foreclosure and job crisis. The market was unstable and investors were weary, but the two went on to develop in markets across the U.S.
The two again encountered challenges during the recent financial downturn. They were able to overcome them by piecing together a different organizational structure that essentially kept all employees on the job. In a period in which transactions were scarce, Kim and Fink assigned new roles to each acquisitions member, roles that consisted of supporting an operations team counterpart with revenue and expense management.
In addition, the duo renegotiated with lenders to avoid financial troubles with their loan-based investments and properties. They restructured their loans and optimized their equity, which allowed them to make more strategic buys of distressed properties.
These and other strategies led Bascom to an 8 to 12 percent increase in operating profits between 2008 and 2010.
Kim and Fink always take care of their employees, providing them with the opportunity to have an equity stake in their real estate funds, which promotes a sense of working toward a common goal.
They both believe that investing in people, talent and the community will enable continued and sustainable growth, with particular focus on health, wealth, education and lifestyle.
Giving back to the community is a key success factor for Bascom that provides a symbiotic relationship between the community and the company. When the community prospers, their properties benefit, which leads to wealth creation for the company.
How to reach: The Bascom Group, www.bascomgroup.com
An additional insured endorsement is an amendment to the named insured’s policy, usually the general liability policy, that extends coverage under the terms of the policy to another entity.
“This is usually required in a contract where company A needs to provide insurance coverage to company B, so company B enjoys protection from a new risk that arises out of company A’s conduct or operations,” says Shantih M. Charlton, CIC, CISR, senior account executive at Momentous Insurance Brokerage, Inc.
Smart Business spoke with Charlton about why you need additional insured endorsements from the companies you work with, and why you may need to provide them.
What are some examples of when an additional insured endorsement is needed?
A building owner/landlord may require a tenant to name the owner/landlord as an additional insured on the tenant’s insurance policies. If there is an accident or loss on the rented premises, such as a slip, trip or fall, the tenant’s insurance coverage can respond to the claim.
Another example would be a general contractor requiring subcontractors to name it and the owner as additional insureds on the subcontractor’s policies. Then, the subcontractor’s insurance protects the general contractor and owner if someone sues based on an accident arising from the work of the subcontractor.
Also, product manufacturers may cover its sellers as additional insureds. In these cases, the retailers are better protected from claims arising from products they sell.
How is additional insured status provided?
A certificate and endorsement are both required to provide additional insured status. The carrier needs to issue the endorsement, which is part of the policy. If you receive a certificate stating that additional insured status applies but there is no endorsement attached, request a copy of the actual endorsement or policy wording.
What is the cost to add this endorsement?
It might already be included in the policy premium, or it could cost $100 to $500 extra. The cost of adding an additional insured to a liability insurance policy is generally low, as compared to the costs of the original premium.
If you get a certificate from someone with the additional insured endorsement, do you still need your own insurance?
Yes. Additional insured status doesn’t mean you don’t need insurance. It only means the company receiving the additional insured status has insurance for the other company’s negligence. So if company A is an additional insured on company B’s policy, it is covered if company B’s negligence causes a claim and company A is named in a resulting lawsuit. If that same claim was actually due to company A’s negligence, or if company B’s insurance limits were not adequate, company A would need its own policy to protect its interests.
Is an additional insured endorsement the same thing as a named insured?
No. A named insured is the person designated in the policy as the insured. Additional insured status does not give the same rights under the policy terms as a ‘named insured’ or ‘insured.’
What should you keep in mind when entering into an agreement with another business?
Whenever your business enters into an agreement with another business, follow these general principals:
• Never assume the other business has liability coverage. Obtain a certificate of insurance or copy of their policy.
• Review both the contract and endorsement with legal and insurance representatives. Each situation presents unique risks, and contract wording and policy forms can vary greatly.
• Understand what your additional insured coverage status covers. Consult with your insurance adviser to better understand how this affects your business.
Shantih M. Charlton, CIC, CISR, is a senior account executive at Momentous Insurance Brokerage, Inc. Reach her at (818) 933-9860 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Blog: Get more information on this and other important insurance topics at the Momentous Insurance blog.
Insights Business Insurance is brought to you by Momentous Insurance Brokerage, Inc.
NEO Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year
Joel E. Adelman
founder and CEO
The Advance Group of Companies
In 1998, Joel E. Adelman established The Advance Group of Companies, which is dedicated to providing entrepreneurial staffing companies with the opportunity to flourish and grow. Advance not only provides capital funding to its clients, it also provides various back office services that include information technology, payroll and tax, and recruiting/search software.
Based on his experience and knowledge, Adelman, who is founder and CEO, intended to establish a business selling consumer products. However, his exposure to payroll services at a national staffing convention led him to uncover an underserved market. This fueled Adelman’s passion, and he became determined to create a new solution for the staffing industry.
Adelman combined several different services into one business, developing a company with few direct competitors. Advance offers entrepreneurs all-inclusive services and support.
The company recently introduced a new service, Workforce Solutions, which matches the demand and supply of labor. Adelman once again identified a need in the market and discovered a manner in which to capitalize on it, bringing together small and midsize staffing firms and introducing them to Fortune 500 consumers in need of their services.
As the largest independent provider of funding and leading provider of solutions for the temporary staffing industry, Advance has grown steadily. As to be expected, the company’s revenue declined during the recession. However, Adelman’s foresight and management decisions allowed the company to enhance its earning potential by expanding its service offerings.
When the economy began to improve and the demand for staffing escalated, Advance grew at 25 percent. Advance has maintained that 25 percent growth rate for the past three years and forecasts that it will continue to grow at this rate.
Adelman’s one-of-a-kind business offers fellow entrepreneurs an opportunity to realize their aspirations via technological and monetary support. As a result of his innovative and unique offerings, the supply of labor better matches the demand.
How to reach: The Advance Group of Companies, www.advancepayroll.us
Real Estate & Hospitality
Doug Bauer, Tom Mitchell and Mike Grubbs are home building industry veterans with more than 60 years of combined experience. That is why, when the industry was in the depth of recession in 2009, they knew it was time to make a bold move.
They started TRI Pointe Homes, a next-generation homebuilder focused on the design, construction and sale of innovative single-family detached and attached homes in planned communities in major metropolitan areas in the West. The company lives by three words — think, renew and inspire.
Friends, family and colleagues thought they were crazy to start a new home building company when many of the industry giants were going under, but they knew that this was an industry of cycles, and that when it sank to the bottom, it would be followed by an upswing. And sure enough, four years later, the company they built is not only profitable, but also the focus of a successful IPO. TRI Pointe Homes became the first homebuilding company to go public since 2004.
Bauer, who is CEO, Mitchell, who is CFO, and Grubbs, who is COO, like to set very high goals for themselves. Their successful collaboration is based on their shared discipline and focus, and their unshakable belief that they could succeed. Part of their success is due to being nimble in their decision-making. They analyze the facts, make a decision and go. They may not be right every time, but they don’t waste time sitting around and questioning decisions.
Despite all the achievements the three partners and their company have seen, they still strive to do more; they believe success is a continuum. They are looking to their next mountain. The company currently operates in Northern and Southern California and Denver. TRI is looking to grow in its current markets, and, if market conditions warrant, possibly expand to select markets in Texas, Phoenix, Nevada and the Northwest.
How to reach: TRI Pointe Homes, www.tripointehomes.com
Real Estate & Hospitality
Alan J. Fuerstman began to show his natural aptitude for the hospitality industry at the young age of 17. He was still in high school and had started to work part time as a bellman at a Marriott Hotel in New Jersey. It was his attention to detail, ability to serve guests and willingness to always lend a hand that was quickly noticed by management.
The result was an offer to join Marriott’s management team after Fuerstman graduated from Gettysburg College. He quickly rose through the ranks at a number of luxury hotels before being recruited by Steve Wynn to open the prestigious Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas.
Through all this, Fuerstman gained experience and put himself in position to pursue a personal vision he had been thinking about. He wanted to create something new, a small ultra-luxury hotel that prided itself on gracious hospitality and attention to service and detail without the stereotypical pretentiousness of a five-star hotel.
As founder and CEO of Montage Hotels & Resorts, Fuerstman has been involved in all aspects of the company’s growth. He didn’t have brand awareness, but he did have a strong sales and marketing vision that could focus on the core differentiators that Fuerstman was confident would win over prospective guests.
And while he has taken a hands-on approach to every aspect of Montage Hotels & Resorts’ growth, Fuerstman never fails to demonstrate the importance of his people and the value that they bring to the culture and the company.
He doesn’t focus on awards and doesn’t want his employees to feel pressured to do something that isn’t possible. His attitude is to “focus on your own backyard first,” believing that consistent effort and dedication to your job will bring you all the recognition you and your business deserve.
How to reach: Montage Hotels & Resorts, www.montagehotels.com
From president of a $1.4 billion pharmaceutical operation to pit master, John Rivers stepped out of 20 years in corporate America to pursue his dream of opening a traditional Texas smokehouse in Florida as a platform to introduce his 18-hour, slow-smoked Angus brisket in what was otherwise considered a pork-dominated market.
He had spent two decades perfecting his recipe for brisket in his back yard. However, it was a heartfelt call in 2004 to raise funds to help offset the overwhelming cost of cancer treatment for a 6-year-old girl that brought Rivers’ passion to a new level.
Moved by the family’s story, Rivers organized a barbecue fundraiser that resulted in more than 500 attendees and the launch of what he dubbed his “barbecue ministry.” For the next five years, Rivers fired-up the smoker anytime a church, family, school or charity was in need of help.
Working from his garage, Rivers’ ministry quickly grew in popularity, prompting the bottling of his 4R signature barbecue sauce and later a line of signature rubs. The ultimate leap of faith was in October 2009 when Rivers opened the first of three 4 Rivers Smokehouses in Winter Park, Fla.
Since opening his restaurants, Rivers, who is chef and CEO, does not focus on the top line or bottom line growth. Rather, he focuses on his employees’ and customers’ experiences. He has found that spending time on employees and customers, and of course, his product, helps drive his growth.
In his first year in business, Rivers received numerous accolades from the media, including “Best Barbecue” by Florida Travel + Life magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, Orlando magazine, Orlando Business Journal and Orlando Weekly; “Best Sandwich” by Orlando magazine and two Silver Spoon Awards from Orlando Home & Leisure.
Rivers was most recently featured in Cigar Aficionado, Restaurant Business, Cooking with Paula Dean and was a recipient of Cooking Light’s 2012 Taste Test Awards.
How to reach: 4R Restaurant Group, www.4rsmokehouse.com