Desbrow & Associates has been selected to provide public relations and promotional services for Covenant at South Hills, a nonprofit life care retirement community planned for construction in Mount Lebanon.
Nauticom Interactive has completed a Web site for Seniors Living, a source of information about retirement, assisted living and nursing care facilities.
Dick Corp. has been awarded a $42 million contract by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation for construction of a bridge over the Lehigh River in Allentown. The bridge is the final link of a $105 million project to create a three-mile link from Route 22 to Interstate 78.
Scozios Market Place has acquired Valley Brook Market in McMurray and the former Food Gallery in Mount Lebanon.
Labwerks Interactive has been chosen to design and develop Web sites for the Art Institutes Internationals 21 schools in the United States.
Sheetz Inc. has opened a new convenience store on Perry Highway in Pine Township. The location employs approximately 40 people and offers brand-name grocery products, as well as made-to-order products and gasoline.
The Western Pennsylvania Adventure Capital Fund has closed its second round of fund-raising at $3 million, and doubled its number of shareholders to 175.
Adonix has acquired Computron France, a producer of accounting software.
Hefren-Tillotson Inc. has formed H-T Capital Markets, a wholly owned public finance division with headquarters in Pittsburgh and with an additional office in Philadelphia. H-T Capital Markets provides complete structuring and underwriting services for tax-exempt and taxable debt, as well as comprehensive financial advisory services for government and 501(c) (3) entities.
In addition to its specialization in educational and municipal authority finance, HT Capital Markets will work with Hefren-Tillotson Inc. to provide asset management services to a wide range of clients, including municipalities.
Carlow Hill College has re-established the Carlow Hill College Entrepreneurial Center. The program offers participants classroom training by experienced instructors, hands-on business plan development assistance from experts and seminars conducted by financial and marketing professionals.
Temporary Employees Most Preferred Inc. has changed its name to Preferred Staffing Inc. Additionally, the company is offering human resources seminars at client sites. The training targets those with little formal human resources training, small organizations with no human resources departments and those with limited resources which are unable to afford the investment in time or resources required of more lengthy programs.
Compuvisions Inc. has been selected by STORM LLC to increase content and introduce e-commerce functionality to its Web site. STORM will gain the capability to sell its performance management software directly from its site.
Coyne Advertising has added three clients, the Fragasso Group, a registered investment adviser, the Observer-Reporter, a Washington County daily newspaper, and Cobweb Internet Service Provider, a division of Observer Publishing.
The board of directors of GA Financial Inc., the parent of Great American Federal Savings & Loan, has approved a stock repurchase plan authorizing the acquisition of 5 percent of the companys outstanding shares.
Respironics Inc. has been awarded a two-year contract to provide positive airway pressure, bi-level and noninvasive ventilation products to American Homepatient. Respironics also was awarded dual vendor status for oximetry, infant apnea monitors, ventilators, nebulizers and related accessories.
Ohio is the most recent state to come under attack for references to God. A challenge to the 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to remove the phrase With God all things are possible as the official state motto for Ohio, suggests just one more step in the process of removing any mention of deity in our lives.
The first step is removing God from our government and schools. Will the next step be to remove God from our businesses? Will faith be outlawed as a guiding principle in our daily affairs as religious references are erased from public view?
In our rapidly changing, high-tech culture, we are so crowded with our own inventions that we have no need for dependence on, nor accountability to, a Supreme Being. But can success, material wealth and power give ultimate meaning to our lives? In our shift from the spiritual to a more secular world view, our appeal to higher standards of love, virtue, compassion and positive traits in general have lost their point of reference.
There is a growing sense of frustration that achieving The American Dream does not fulfill our deeper longings. We spend years building businesses, growing market share and watching the bottom line. After years of struggling to climb a mountain of obstacles, we get to the top, only to realize that success can be an empty feeling.
We have it all, but we are not satisfied.
Peggy Noonen, former speech writer for Presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush, spoke about our national spiritual crisis in the Sept. 14, 1992, issue of Forbes magazine: ... We are beginning to lose God banishing Him from the scene, from our consciousness, losing the assumption He was part of the deity drama or its Maker.
And it is a terrible thing when people lose God. Life is difficult and people are afraid, and to be without God is to lose mans great source of consolation and coherence.
From Moses to Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn have come dire warnings of the consequences of a nation that forgets God. Without God, our business endeavors have no reason or meaning. It becomes a game of wealth accumulation and power struggles.
Some will demand evidence before allowing God to guide their daily affairs, but there are compelling reasons that a belief in a Supreme Being is not so farfetched. Consider:
- The outer evidence. Look at the order, beauty and intricate design of nature. Could all of this happen by chance or accident? I think not, any more than an explosion in a print shop could result in a book of poetry!
Abraham Lincoln said, All that I see teaches me to believe in a God that I do not see.
- The inner evidence: The inner longing of every human being to be loved and to express love, to know truth and the desire for peace where do these come from? A higher being? To come to the realization that we are created for a purpose will influence our personal, family and business worlds. The more we seek to be in a right relationship with God, the more we come into right relationships with our fellow human beings.
It will pervade every area of our lives as we remember that in all matters however, great or small it is In God We Trust.
Fred Koury (email@example.com) is president and CEO of SBN.
Who is a good candidate for the Western Pennsylvania Adventure Fund? President and CEO G. Richard Patton offers some advice to would-be early-stage venture capital seekers. You must:
- Be a Western Pennsylvania-based entrepreneur.
- Have a business proposition that is similar to others the fund has invested in.
- Be specific about why you are looking for financing. If you say you need $1 million to finish a prototype and verify market acceptance to prepare for a $10 million follow-up round, you're more likely to get the fund's attention.
- Recruit advisory board members and professional services that will bring credibility to your company. Investors like to see names they recognize associated with investment opportunities.
Patton suggests entrepreneurs should research potential venture firms. Don't do mass mailings of your business plan and, he adds, get someone with some clout to make introductions."Find someone who can be a reference," says Patton. "Anything you can do to get away from cold-calling will add a lot of credibility."
Spelunkers report that if you place a 4-by-8 sheet of plywood upright in a bat cave shortly before dusk in a previously unobstructed space, upon flight, hundreds of bats will slam into the plywood and fall to the ground.
Fortunately, they pick themselves up, fly around the obstruction, and spend the night hunting insects. Bats ingest their weight in small insects each night and they do this with incredible accuracy while both predator and prey are flying in the dark night air.
How can this small mammal be so precise in its feeding yet so klutzy in its own "home" bat cave?
Bats navigate by two methods, echolocation, a kind of sonar, and memory. However, echolocation is extremely energy intensive, whereas mammalian memory uses very little energy. Consequently, bats memorize their routes through their caves, then navigate based on that memory. Thus, when they run into the plywood, they are flying blind.
When they pick themselves up, they memorize where the obstruction is (really fast growing stalactite?), then fly around it. This can be confirmed by moving the plywood. They continue to navigate around the assumed obstruction and fly smack into the newly positioned board.
To this extent, people behave like bats. They figure out how to complete a task, negotiate a deal, introduce a new product, get a date, find a hotel, order a wine, etc., then tend to stick with the solution, even though the world changes at a fierce pace. We no longer see what is really there.
Scientists call this routinization of perceptual scrutiny. I argue that we are flying blind in our own organizational cultures just like bats in their own bat caves.
This month, we will explore the rudiments of culture, and in a future column, consider how to use culture to help implement your vision and strategy. Aligning culture to strategy is essential. Implementing your strategy is likely to fail without proper regard for the role of organizational culture. Also, nothing effective will happen to culture unless the CEO supports the change effort. All organizations have cultures. The difference is how aware of it you are, how you perceive it, and if and how you use it to bring about your firm's mission and realize its vision.
So what is culture? Organizational culture is the pattern of shared beliefs and values that gives the institution's members meanings about their behaviors and rules for how to behave. The key words are pattern, shared beliefs, and meanings and rules. Patterns are key because isolated incidents don't make up cultures. Shared beliefs are important because individuals are emphatically not the culture (although the CEO may cast a long shadow).
Beliefs must be shared or they aren't part of the culture. When a pattern of beliefs is shared, the beliefs collectively provide meaning for employees.
My simplified advice to leaders is to assess your current culture, define the desired future culture that will enable you to successfully implement your strategy, and decide clearly how you will manage the transition from current to future.
Assessing the current culture is easy, if the investigator is systematic. Examine the physical setting. Contrast the informal campus at NIKE, which is one of the most beautiful, idyllic noncollegiate spots, with the much more formal Manhattan headquarters of a tobacco company, which is encumbered with high-tech security and its implications.
Among other things, consider who is promoted and the value statements of leaders. Does the head of marketing or operations get the nod to be CEO -- is it an insider or someone from the outside? Pay attention to informal norms like attire -- casual running gear at NIKE versus suits at other corporate headquarters.
To create your future culture, you must create and clearly communicate the vision for the future. That vision must include specific, desired behaviors about your employees -- you cannot be vague. The final step is to recognize that your future culture must fit with your strategy. Next month, I will explain how to change your company's culture and give tips on watching out for the proverbial plywood. Lance Kurke, Ph.D., is president of Kurke & Associates, Inc., a Pittsburgh-based strategic planning firm. He is president of the nonprofit CEO Club of Pittsburgh, serves on the faculty at Duquesne University, and is an adjunct at Carnegie Mellon University. Reach him at (412) 281-2930 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
When Bob Smith's Colorado Springs, Colo.-based marketing firm was hired by a small computer software company to get the attention of top executives of computer giants that were potential customers, he could have just produced a slick brochure and sales kit.
But "normal" isn't exactly how one might describe Smith's typical approach to marketing challenges.
For Smith, the only logical way to the computer giants' hearts was through, well, computers. So his team purchased a bunch of laptop computers and packed them tightly into secretive-looking metal attache cases, complete with combination codes hidden behind provocative labels. As the recipients followed very specific directions, they ultimately found themselves facing multimedia presentations with a "cool" message.
Adding to the creative messages was the fact that the team sent them directly to the executives' assistants, asking for their feedback on just how cool those kits were. And if they felt they were cool enough, they were asked, could they simply pass them along to their bosses?
Smith says the cost of the marketing campaign -- roughly $5,000 for each complete kit -- may seem a bit steep, but the result was millions of dollars of new business for the small software firm.
This was the general message from Smith at Duquesne University's second annual Entrepreneur's Growth Conference, where he was the morning keynote speaker. Smith, armed with a rain forest full of jungle props, says he ventured head-first into such creativity out of necessity. Blessed with the less-than-unique name of Bob Smith, coupled with Communications, Smith says his marketing communications firm almost went broke before he decided he needed something to make him stand out.
That's when he decided to rename his company Jungle Marketing Inc. and build his consulting and speaking businesses around the jungle theme. He's been swinging from vine to successful vine ever since.
His message to the masses: "High-impact, relationship-based marketing is the key to the future success of all small businesses. We need to connect on an emotional level with our customers."
The approach, he says, has to begin with the passion that drives the entrepreneur into a particular business.
"What happened is we have forgotten why we have started it in the first place," Smith says.
Then there's what he calls reasonability, which restricts one's thinking.
"You have to break the rules," he says. " ... Reasonability does not work in a small business. You have to reinvent yourself. Are you on the edge?"
To reinvent your company, start with your Unique Selling Proposition, which, according to Smith, has four goals:
- To motivate the prospect.
- To attract attention.
- To distinguish you from the competition.
- To fulfill an industry gap.
"But don't show your lawyer your USP," Smith jokes, given the aggressive nature of the selling proposition.
Then you have to create an attention-getting marketing campaign around the USP. Creating a campaign, Smith says, is all about building what he calls your "magic story." Here's how to do it:
1. Use headlines. "Ninety percent of your story is written after you have established a powerful headline," he says.
2. Harness the point of WIIFM, or What's In It For Me? "You have to understand the emotional buying criteria of your customers," he says, along with what motivates them.
3. Employ power words such as free, new, money, discover, introducing, suddenly, health, easy, proven, guarantee, you, your, save, love and how to.
4. Package it uniquely. For instance, Smith worked with a dry-cleaning company to find ways to promote its customer service. During a discussion, they realized customers probably don't even notice that the company replaces missing buttons -- for free. So they launched a marketing campaign with smiley stickers and a note that tells customers when a button has been replaced. Sales increased substantially, Smith says.
5. Reverse the risk of buying the product. Include some kind of guarantee, perceived or otherwise, to assure customers that they take a very little risk in buying your product. In the end, Smith advises, remember this: "People will almost never remember what you say. But people will always remember how you make them feel." How to reach: Jungle Marketing Inc., (800) 444-4094
SBN was a proud sponsor of the 2000 Entrepreneur's Growth Conference. Daniel Bates (email@example.com) is editor of SBN magazine.
Compuvisions Inc., a Pittsburgh-based developer and designer of Web sites, has been acquired by FullTilt Solutions Inc. of King of Prussia, a provider of business-to-business e-commerce solutions.
Pittsburgh Demolition has been contracted to dismantle and remove the building from the site of the former Phoenix Materials Corp. on Route 422 in East Franklin Township.
National City Bank has introduced a five-year line of credit for small businesses that allows business owners to user their commercial real estate, in addition to their residential real estate, as collateral. Credit lines range from $25,000 to $100,000. It can be used as a revolving line of credit or a portion can be converted to a 36-month term loan with a fixed rate.
Adroit Computer Technique, an India-based company, has moved its U.S. headquarters from Boston to Pittsburgh. The company says the move largely resulted from a strategic partnership it formed with Technosystems Service Corp., a Pittsburgh-based company.
The law firm of Vogrin & Reister is joining its practice with Meyer Darragh Buckler Bebenek & Eck. The merger adds the practice of criminal law to Meyer Darragh's general civil practice while supplementing the firm's practice in municipal law.
Hastings Realty Co. Inc. has acquired 625 Stanwix St. from Chicago-based Urban Growth Property.
Fidelity Bancorp Inc. has acquired two branch offices of Pennwood Savings Bank, located in Kittanning, from the Farmers National Bank. The transaction is subject to regulatory approval.
Pitt Ohio Express has installed equipment designed to warn truck drivers of potentially dangerous levels of drowsiness on one of its 18-wheel trucks. The truck will be used in an over-the-road pilot test to gauge the effectiveness of the equipment in alerting drivers in order to prevent accidents.
PWCampbell has been awarded the design/build contract by Clyde-Findlay Area Credit Union in Clyde, Ohio, to construct a 3,700-square-foot new branch office facility.
White and Williams LLP, a Philadelphia law firm, has opened a Pittsburgh office.
MassMutual has launched a disability income insurance buy-sell contract, a product designed for partnerships and professional corporations composed of two to five business owners between the ages of 18 and 60.
Krakoff Communications has relocated from the Benedum Trees Building to a larger space in the Arrott Building.
The University of Phoenix has opened a campus in Penn Center West Four. Initial offerings will be bachelor of science degrees in business management, business administration and business information/technology. A master's degree in business administration will also be offered.
Woodmont Corp. and its partners, Creative Real Estate and Colony Holding Co., have leased 31,000 square feet of space in Cranberry Commons to Linens 'n Things, making it the final anchor tenant in the 550,000-square-foot retail center in Cranberry Township.
Law firm Bernstein Bernstein Krawec & Wymard P.C. has been awarded a five-year contract to perform debt collection services on behalf of the U.S. Department of Justice.
TriLogic Corp. has relocated its offices to a new headquarters building in Southpointe.
For nearly three years, it has been my pleasure to write this column and share a few pearls from my experiences. But life is full of surprises, and later this month, my wife, Margaret Tyndall, and I will be moving to the Big Apple.
So, I've been thinking about what I could say as an appropriate farewell to the city I have called home for 35 years. Certainly, regular readers will know how I feel about the importance of the special relationship between a manager and his or her people. It may sound a bit old-fashioned in today's business environment, but your people are still your greatest resource. Investments in developing your people will continue to pay dividends.
In several columns, I wrote about the importance of having a clearly defined vision or mission statement that can provide direction to people, one that creates a sense of community which allows your workers an opportunity to enjoy a sense of participation and personal growth from their working experiences.
I also have written about the importance of creating a working environment based on mutual trust, and how an organization can save money by establishing an atmosphere founded on values and principles rather than relying on rules and regulations. In his book "Trust," Francis Fukuyama points out that systems of formal rules and regulations have to be negotiated, agreed to, litigated and enforced. Monitoring rules and regulations can be costly and disruptive, while a sense of trust can add value to an organization.
Without a doubt, the column that resulted in the greatest number of phone calls and e-mail -- and speaking opportunities -- was the one entitled "Workplace Spirituality" (August 1999). It was gratifying to know that so many people recognize that there is a place for the Golden Rule in the workplace. I'm talking about spirituality, not religion, per se. People have a right to believe, or not to believe. They have a right to work without feeling compelled to accept another person's belief system.
But, in today's environment, with all the mistrust, anger and violence, an ever-increasing number of people are looking for a sense of purpose for their lives. It's apparent to me from my interactions in workshops and following speeches that people are looking for a way to make their lives more meaningful.
Since most people spend the majority of their time working, having a strong sense of purpose in their work can readily transfer to their personal lives. One way to help people grow through their work is to encourage a sense of commitment. I realize that, today, it's not uncommon for people to change jobs and even make complete career changes with alarming regularity. But where a strong sense of commitment to the job and to the organization exists, so does a greater sense of purpose.
W. H. Murray wrote: "Until one is committed, there is hesitancy ... the moment one commits oneself, then Providence moves, too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred ... "
The commitment that builds within each organization ultimately will expand to the community at large. And the result will be a stronger and more viable Pittsburgh.Best wishes to you all. William Armstrong, a management consultant for 30 years, is president of Pittsburgh-based management consulting firm Armstrong/Associates. Until he leaves for New York City, he can be reached at (412) 276-7396.
Given its large number of electoral votes, Ohio has always been an important state in presidential politics.
As the 2000 campaign comes to the forefront, it seems to be developing into an important swing state in determining who will be our next president. In keeping with its mandate to promote the open discussion of issues affecting businesses, Ohioans for Better Business (with SBN affiliation) would like to host a two-part forum in September that will provide the Republican and Democratic nominees for president separate opportunities to discuss issues of concern to business owners and to explain their plans for creating a strong pro-jobs environment in Ohio and the nation.
We spearheaded the creation of Ohioans for Better Business because of our experiences during the past 10 years as the largest chain of business-to-business publications in Ohio. In our business dealings throughout the state, an increasing number of business leaders voiced their interest in creating a forum to discuss taxes, health care, the environment, labor relations, campaign finance reform and other issues of importance.
I have aired many of these issues in my column, which reaches more than 300,000 readers -- most of whom are presidents and owners of companies ranging in size from 20 to 500 employees. Few topics bring as much feedback as those that have a political focus to them, because politics can affect whether a business is successful or not.
A simple change in an environmental law can have a huge impact on business. An administrative ruling can mean the difference between a business surviving or failing. Too many times laws are enacted or changed without proper input from business owners and leaders. It's time our representatives in Congress and the White House hear our side of the story.
In short, business owners care about what happens in Washington, which is why we created Ohioans for Better Business. We believe the work of the federal government clearly dictates the future of Ohio's business climate, for better or worse. Ohioans for Better Business is dedicated to promoting the open discussion of issues impacting our business communities.
While more than just a business advocacy group, we will be supporting the advancement of federal, state and local legislation that will support successful Ohio businesses and make the climate here business-friendly.
Each of our two proposed forums will be by invitation only and include business owners and members of top management from companies throughout the state. This will be a great opportunity to talk to other owners who have similar concerns and to hear first-hand what our representatives are doing to improve the business climate. If you are interested in attending these events, please contact us.
We also want to encourage any feedback on issues you might have. It is very important that we hear from you about the issues that affect your day-to-day operations.
What can political leaders do to make your business more successful, generate more jobs and make the community a better place to live? Now is the time for your voice to be heard. We need your support. Many people don't bother to get involved because they don't feel they can make a difference. However, our goal is to create a unified voice for business owners and leaders and bring attention to the issues that affect them. Synergy is where the sum of the parts is greater than the whole. Without you, we are missing a very important part. Fred Koury (firstname.lastname@example.org) is president and CEO of SBN.
The name just about says it all. This site displays all of the URLs posted within the last 24 hours, organized by topic and category. And you can subscribe to an e-mail newsletter to receive information in your areas of interest. Subscribers receive a free weekly newsletter notifying them of new Web sites being launched . The search engine accepts URLs and filters new Web site submissions by date and/or category.
The Service Corps of Retired Executives has beefed up its site, offering a revised version of its online counseling, success stories and a content-rich resource center that doles out information on business planning, human resources, legal matters and more. Online counseling puts you in touch with seasoned business pros who answer questions via e-mail. Business professionals, authors and entrepreneurs offer their wisdom and comment on the latest trends in the guest feature section.
Entrepreneurs offer advice on topics from business valuation to marketing to growing your company. The site provides a free e-mail newsletter, a Top Advisors in which experts give valuable how-to information, and discussion groups that connect entrepreneurs, academics and service providers.
Arranged like many of the popular search engines, CNET.com offers hardware and software reviews, Web site building information, the latest pricing information on equipment, Internet tools and more. TechNews offers the latest scoops in the technology industry. Investors can get stock quotes, product recommendations and how-tos.