SBN Staff

Financial Services

WINNER

A large part of Anand Nallathambi’s career has been working for subsidiaries of insurance company First American Corp. He has held several executive and CEO positions over the years, and in 2010 he was appointed CEO of CoreLogic Inc. He guided the company through its separation from First American Corp. to become publicly traded.

Since the separation, Nallathambi has developed a world-class executive team and repositioned the company to be the leading provider of data services and solutions in its markets. Following the separation of CoreLogic from FAC, Nallathambi developed a bold strategy for transforming the company into a higher-growth, higher-margin leader.

The four key elements of this strategy included refocusing CoreLogic on its core operations, transforming the organization from a fragmented and distributed model to one integrated team, reshaping the cost structure and reducing costs, and reinvesting in products, services, technology and people.

As part of his plan to overhaul CoreLogic, positioning the company to lead in the markets it serves, Nallathambi reorganized the company into three core segments to further drive focus and accountability. The operating segments were Data and Analytics, Mortgage Origination Services, and Asset Management and Processing Solutions.

Over the course of 2011 and 2012, CoreLogic exited five non-core businesses and sold or exited numerous smaller units. Although these units collectively generated significant revenue, their business models lacked significant data, intellectual property and scalable returns to support Nallathambi’s long-term strategy.

To drive margin expansion and create funds to reinvest in the business, Nallathambi launched Project 30 — CoreLogic’s enterprise-wide productivity improvement program — to significantly reduce technology and corporate shared services costs. Through 2012, Project 30 has delivered $82 million in total savings.

Many of the company’s recent accomplishments are due to Nallathambi’s ability to build confidence in CoreLogic employees, clients and investors. He made difficult decisions to dramatically improve productivity and operational execution.

How to reach: CoreLogic Inc., www.corelogic.com

NEO Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year

Retail and Consumer Products

Winner

 

Jimmy Zeilinger

founder and president

Brand Castle, LLC

 

The idea of Brand Castle, LLC, came to Jimmy Zeilinger while he was in a local bookstore and came across a cookbook aimed for parents who wanted to create cooking projects with their children.

Being a devoted parent, he immediately thought of the hassle it would be to obtain all the ingredients needed to complete a cooking project in that book and how a kit that included the ingredients would make the task so much easier. After consulting about the kit idea with his wife Andrea, he quickly discovered that he had a great idea on his hands.

Since selling its first Crafty Cooking Kit in February 2005, Brand Castle has become the leader in interactive baking kits for children and adults. However, that success didn’t come without its hurdles.

Brand Castle almost closed its doors after its first six months as a result of listening to market researchers who wrongly advised Zeilinger, who is founder and president, on the type of demand for his products. Relying on this information, he spent all his personal savings and borrowed from family to launch Brand Castle by “slotting” the products via the grocery channel.

Six months later, this strategy proved to be unsuccessful when the products were not selling as anticipated and national retailers began to close out the product. Instead of closing the business, Zeilinger decided to change the market strategy to embrace seasonality and elected a low margin, high volume approach when selecting retailers.

Brand Castle is now an international company with employees in the U.S. and China. What started with six products ranging from paint-your-own-brownie to a rainbow cookies kit has grown into a portfolio of more than 300 items sold under three different brand names and numerous licenses, including Crayola, Disney and Sanrio. Each Brand Castle product aims to help families create memories.

How to reach: Brand Castle, LLC, www.brandcastle.com

Technology

FINALIST

The goal of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software is to be able to manage all customer touch points on one system to improve both the end user and consumer experience — and Jonathan Ord is an expert in it.

Ord had a friend in the automobile industry who expressed frustration with the multiple systems he was using to track one customer at his dealership. Through continued conversations with this friend, Ord went to work creating a CRM for the dealership space. In 2001, Ord co-founded DealerSocket Inc. with the goal of helping auto dealers manage every interaction and touch point with their customers on one platform.

In order to put his vision and plan into motion, Ord, who is also CEO, took out a mortgage on his home and started DealerSocket in his garage. Initially his customers felt the software didn’t interface well with the sales force on the floor. Thus, he offered to work without pay at a dealership for a year to gain a better understanding of his customers’ needs.

Ord aspired to help the automotive industry and make all customers fans of DealerSocket and its products. In the first year of business, 15 clients were signed, and in the second year, the number grew to 38. Today, DealerSocket serves more than 3,000 dealers in the U.S., Canada and Australia, and supports 100,000 active users.

Even during the near collapse of the automotive industry from 2006 to 2008, Ord continued to improve his products so that dealers could survive and carry on. As a result of its persistence, DealerSocket now has 20 percent U.S. market penetration and is striving for more.

The vision and plan for DealerSocket is to continue to be the No. 1 CRM for auto dealerships through customizing CRM for large dealer groups, expanding into other countries, and developing or acquiring products that make sense for the company’s software suite.

How to reach: DealerSocket Inc., www.dealersocket.com

NEO Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year

Retail and Consumer Products

Finalist

 

Jim Braeunig

president and CEO

Ball, Bounce and Sport, Inc.

 

In 1982, Jim Braeunig started with Ball, Bounce and Sport, Inc., a subsidiary of Hedstrom, as a factory manager. Through the two decades following, Braeunig moved up in the manufacturer of rubber balls to director of operations, vice president of operations and eventually general manager.

Although BBS historically was a profitable subsidiary of Hedstrom, the majority of the company’s other subsidiaries were not. As a result, Hedstrom went through a rollercoaster of private equity buyouts and bankruptcies in the late 1990s and early 2000s. When Hedstrom encountered its second bankruptcy in 2004, Braeunig and a couple of other local investors decided to purchase the company to focus on BBS.

Upon the purchase of BBS in 2004, Braeunig and his team immediately went to work. They hired back several employees previously let go as a result of the bankruptcy, formed a joint venture with a Chinese manufacturer, obtained the support of retailers such as Target, Walgreens and Dick’s Sporting Goods, and after two years of consistent efforts, began to collect on the receivables of BBS purchased from bankruptcy court.

Today, BBS is still connected to the Hedstrom name, doing business as Hedstrom. Braeunig made revolutionary changes to the company, taking advantage of global resources and developing strategic business relationships.

In 2010, BBS acquired Diamond Plastics, and in 2012, Bosu, New Wave Container and Regent Sports were acquired. As a result of these acquisitions, BBS expanded its product offering to plastic dumpsters and names such as Meiter and McGregor for its sporting good products.

Even though BBS is booming, Braeunig is not ignoring potential future challenges. With increasing labor costs and high inflation rate in China, the company has started to seek an alternative to outsource manufacturing of certain products back to the U.S. or Mexico.

BBS owns 98 percent of U.S. and Canadian rubber ball markets and a growing percentage of the rotational molding market.

How to reach: Ball Bounce and Sport, Inc., www.hedstrom.com

Technology

FINALIST

In 2009, Dominic Gallello was tasked to turn around a company known for expensive and difficult-to-use software. The mismanaged and ailing MSC Software, founded in 1963 to assist with simulations for the space program, had not updated its products in far too long, customer churn rates were high, and there was no spark at the company.

Gallello set out to build and communicate to employees a comprehensive strategy framework that reduced general and administrative expenses from 19 to 11 percent in the first year. He cut $40 million from operating expenses in his first two years. Gallello expanded R&D by 40 percent, brought on more than 40 doctorate-degreed employees through hiring and acquisition, and initiated the development of a next generation computer aided engineering (CAE) system to be brought to market this year.

In less than five years as CEO and president, the company has embraced his vision, and his team is highly motivated to develop the solutions for existing and new customers. At MSC, he leveraged the synergy between the improved morale and the new technology to help customers change the world — which is precisely what the company is doing: The company was instrumental in simulations of the entry descent and landing for the Mars Rover Curiosity mission.

Gallello introduced a culture of “You never stop learning at MSC.” He encouraged managers and individual contributors to pursue professional development and funded their efforts.

He started a high-potential employee program (“Managing your Career”) to build future leaders and a management development program (“Managing by Influence”). Gallello believes that personal success should be celebrated, but must also come with responsibility.

He and his family have personally funded construction of five orphanages in Romania in the past five years and they call more than 100 children their own. Gallello also is funding the development of a farm in Romania for teenagers who cannot find jobs after high school.

How to reach: MSC Software Corp., www.mscsoftware.com

Technology

WINNER

Although he was able to surround himself with talented professionals, Joseph Renton seemed to experience every possible problem when starting up a company in 1995. He had launched Systems & Software Enterprises (SSE) and utilized the technology consulting business to fund the development of new hardware products.

There was a lack of available capital, an ever-changing technology market and an aviation industry with tremendous barriers to entry for his in-flight entertainment efforts. But through it all, he never once accepted any venture capital money.

He was determined to see his vision through on his own terms. He knew he had to stay ahead of the innovation curve and that bringing in outside ownership would slow the process of finding creative solutions.

Undeterred, Renton used his relationships with bankers and clients to secure funding and even took out another mortgage on his house to see his company through its most difficult times. He knew that he had built a product that was superior to the competition and was willing to take necessary risks to prove that.

Renton focused on providing his team with interesting projects and establishing an entrepreneurial climate within the company, and he has found that the effort goes much further toward creating employee satisfaction than salary alone.

In 2001 his firm began marketing its first in-flight entertainment systems to major airlines. Soon after that release, 9/11 occurred, effectively bringing the avionics industry to a standstill. Rather than abandoning his vision during these slow times, Renton reinvested in development so his firm would be better positioned than its competition once everything returned to normal.

SSE rebounded stronger than ever, and after a decade of providing successful hardware systems, SSE was acquired by Zodiac in December 2012. However, as a true entrepreneur who is never satisfied, he used the time off to gain clarity and to prepare ways to create value in his next opportunity.

How to reach: System & Software Enterprises, www.imsco-us.com

 

Business Services

FINALIST

When she took the helm of Carl Warren & Company nine years ago, Caryn Siebert was facing the challenges of a company suffering substantial losses and outdated infrastructure. She went to her first board meeting and honestly and directly told the board members that under her turnaround plan, it would be three years before the company would break even.

Siebert, leveraging her knowledge of Six Sigma and prior experience as a CEO, was successful, and she took the employee-owned third party claims and litigation management company back into black ink.

Before Siebert came to Carl Warren & Company, the organizational structure consisted of branches that acted as separate profit centers. She recognized that this configuration was damaging to the business — the branches continued to compete against each other for clients and profits.

To eliminate this situation without significant staff layoffs, Siebert decided to restructure the company by forming business lines focusing on specific services like public and insurance claims. That way, offices are working together to best allocate resources and assist clients across geographic areas.

Carl Warren & Company realized significant growth, and in 2009, was named one of the “Best Companies to Work For” in OC Metro magazine. However, as the economic recession took hold, clients wanted cheaper rates and expenses continued to increase.

Siebert knew she could not cut employees or high-level services. Instead, she decided to expand the company into a new market segment, bringing workers’ compensation in its product mix. Revenues increased to $30 million that year.

Siebert’s aptitude for instilling loyalty — there is an almost 100 percent employee retention rate — extends even further in terms of her client relationships. With customized programs, certificates of guarantee and years of experience, the company has a strong client base that only continues to grow.

How to reach: Carl Warren & Company, www.carlwarren.com

Companies using the Interest-Charge Domestic International Sales Corporation (IC-DISC) provisions of the tax code, which are intended to help U.S. companies compete internationally, already know that the incentive essentially reduces the top federal tax rate on certain income from qualified goods and services from 39.6 to 20 percent.

“What you may not realize is that the intended and allowable available savings are often much, much greater,” says Amit Mathur, CPA, director at WTP Advisors.

Rob MacKinlay, president of Cohen & Company, says, “Many companies use basic, aggregate IC-DISC calculation methods, though other allowable methods explicitly encouraged in the regulations yield a much higher result. This can be the equivalent of claiming a standard deduction on your individual tax return when itemized deductions are much higher. Many of our clients have dramatically increased savings with a transactional analysis.”

Smart Business spoke with Mathur and his industry peers about IC-DISC and how business owners can extract more value from its proper implementation.

How can IC-DISC savings be maximized?

Most companies utilizing the IC-DISC enjoy the reduced tax arbitrage for either 4 percent of their qualified export gross sales, which is limited to the taxable income from those sales, or 50 percent of the taxable income from qualified export sales. Many believe that these are the maximum amounts used to determine the IC-DISC commission, which is subject to a top rate of 20 percent, rather than 39.6 percent. In reality, these amounts should be considered the minimum commission that results from the two simplest, basic methods.

Truly maximizing the intended and allowable benefits from the IC-DISC requires a more in-depth calculation, but may not take much more time. Each transaction can utilize a choice of many other attractive methods explicitly defined and encouraged in the regulations. For instance, transactions that yield a loss can generate commission. Transactions for products with less-than-average profitability compared with their product group or line also may yield additional benefits.

An analysis utilizing the most beneficial of these methods for different transactions will yield higher results, often more than double, compared with using the basic methods at an aggregate level.

Steve Switaj, CFO of Three D Metals, a company that has used transactional analysis in conjunction with the IC-DISC for years, says, ‘While fluctuation in material prices and unforeseen costs are constant concerns, the increased IC-DISC savings that often results from such variability is a nice feature of the incentive, and enables us to compete in export markets more effectively.’

Can prior year IC-DISC savings be improved?

Re-determinations of IC-DISC benefits can be performed for any open tax years. As Jim Bowen, tax partner at Bober, Markey, Fedorovich & Company, puts it, ‘If the savings from a transactional analysis of IC-DISC benefits is significant, amending the results should be considered, particularly for companies under audit for given tax years.’

Are you overlooking the IC-DISC entirely?

Closely held manufacturers, distributors, growers, software producers, equipment leasing companies, and architectural or engineering firms should consider it.

Mark Klimek, head of the tax practice at McDonald Hopkins, LLC, says, ‘Manufacturers and distributors not fully exploring this incentive may be missing significant tax benefits from a relatively inexpensive to implement government incentive that does not disrupt business operations.’

If products and services are ultimately used outside of the U.S., they will typically qualify. The rules for component parts ultimately sent outside of the U.S. are even more generous — generally, they can even return to the U.S. after being incorporated into another product. Tod Wagner, of Libman Goldstine Kopperman & Wolf, says, ‘Because of the favorable rules defining qualified export property, many companies eligible to use an IC-DISC are overlooking the incentive entirely as they do not think of themselves as manufacturers or exporters. In reality, they may need not to be either.’

Amit Mathur, CPA, is a director at WTP Advisors. Reach him at (216) 292-6732 or amit.mathur@wtpadvisors.com.

Ready for a complimentary analysis of whether your IC-DISC benefits can be increased? Call Amit Mathur at (216) 292-6732.

Insights Tax Incentives is brought to you by WTP Advisors

The purpose of an arbitration clause is to resolve disputes by means of a private proceeding that is generally perceived as quicker and less expensive than the court system. Yet many contracting parties do not fully analyze the arbitration clauses in their contracts, and so do not draft such provisions in a comprehensive and precise manner. These lapses can lead to costly and time-consuming disputes.

“Any party entering into an arbitration agreement, therefore, would be wise to carefully analyze the arbitration clause thoroughly, with a view to ensuring that it will accomplish all of the party’s goals,” says Courtney D. Tedrowe, a commercial litigation partner at Novack and Macey LLP.

Smart Business spoke with Tedrowe about what it takes to draft an effective arbitration clause.

What are the key considerations in drafting an arbitration clause?

Broadly speaking, there are two categories of issues to consider when drafting an arbitration clause. The first of these concerns the extent to which the court will be involved in pre-arbitration and post-arbitration issues. The second category concerns the parameters and procedures of the arbitration proceeding.

Why consider the court’s involvement in pre- and post-arbitration proceedings?

Just because you have an arbitration clause doesn’t mean that you will avoid court proceedings. Not infrequently, a party will oppose the arbitration demand on the grounds that it does not fall within the scope of the arbitration clause. Under the Federal Arbitration Act, courts are required to ensure that the claim is arbitrable. However, the arbitration clause can specify that the arbitrator decides such substantive ‘arbitrability’ issues, effectively limiting the court’s role from the very outset.

The parties may also restrict the court’s involvement in post-arbitration proceedings. Some post-arbitration judicial action is inevitable, since courts, not arbitrators, have the power to reduce the arbitration award to an enforceable judgment and to decide any challenges to the award. Here, the parties can use the arbitration clause to limit the grounds of appeal, further reducing the chances that the award is vacated, and minimizing the risk of lengthy appeals.

How should the arbitration clause be drafted to provide for procedural matters?

Parties can agree to pretty much whatever they want when it come to procedures. Typically, agreements simply select an organization’s rules, such as the American Arbitration Association, JAMS or ADR Systems.

There are two big pitfalls here. First, most organizations have more than one set of rules with sometimes very different deadlines, discovery options and evidentiary rules. When drafting the clause, be sure that you select not just the organization, but the specific set of rules most favorable to the particular situation.

Second, organizations change their rules regularly, meaning parties will likely be bound to use the rules in effect at the time of the dispute, which may have changed.

Can parties modify the applicable rules?

Yes. For example, although the rules of evidence do not typically apply in arbitration, parties may specify that they will apply, or that only certain rules of evidence apply. Parties also have the ability to craft the discovery process to their particular situation. The arbitration clause can set forth, among other things: whether parties may take depositions and, if so, how many; whether documents requests and interrogatories will be allowed and, if so, how many; and the parameters of any other discovery method.

The clause may also deal with the hearing location; pre- and post-arbitration motions, such as motions to dismiss; and the arbitrator’s power to fashion specific remedies.

How much freedom do the parties have to control the arbitrator selection process?

Parties have complete control over who arbitrates their dispute. The specific arbitrator could be identified in the clause, or the clause can set forth the rules by which an arbitrator is selected, either expressly or by selection of a particular organization’s rules.

Courtney D. Tedrowe is a commercial litigation partner at Novack and Macey LLP. Reach him at (312) 419-6900 or cdt@novackmacey.com.

Insights Legal Affairs is brought to you by Novack and Macey LLP

Business Services

FINALIST

Every member of Dr. Vinod Jivrajka’s family is an entrepreneur, so it’s no surprise that Jivrajka is being recognized for excellent entrepreneurship skills. Born in Mumbai, India, Jivrajka started medical school at age 17, after which he came to the U.S. and began working for hospitals in New Jersey and Kentucky.

He eventually moved to Compton, Calif., after attending a conference in Los Angeles and falling in love with Southern California. After two years, he became a partner with two doctors with whom he would work for the next 25 years. Though the practice was the busiest group in the region at the time, he couldn’t sit still. The entrepreneur in him wanted to try something different.

Until the 1980s, there was no concept of a management care organization. Jivrajka saw an opportunity to innovate the industry. After decades of practicing as a physician, he realized the operational efficiencies a medical management company could achieve by overseeing both the management group and the medical group.

He borrowed money using the equity of his personal home, persuaded his slightly skeptical friends to buy in, and founded AppleCare Medical Enterprises in 1996, which includes two AppleCare Medical Groups, a management services organization, a hospitalist medical group and an insurance agency. By 1999, the company had grown by 10,000 percent.

Jivrajka, who is founder, president and CEO of AppleCare, successfully recruited 22 employees to start with him, of which 12 are still at AppleCare today. By making doctors’ interests the management company’s interests, AppleCare successfully created a work environment that put doctors first, which enabled it to gain doctors’ trust, confidence and loyalty.

He has led the growth of AppleCare to 185 management employees cooperating with almost 1,000 affiliate doctors servicing more than 75,000 AppleCare members. The company celebrated its 10th anniversary in April.

How to reach: AppleCare Medical Enterprises, www.applecaremedical.com