The Cleveland Foundation will administer a sustaining fund that will be used to allocate proceeds from the new Pillar Award for Community Service.
The Pillar Award program, created in partnership between Medical Mutual of Ohio and Small Business News, identifies and honors companies of all sizes for outstanding contributions to their community.
The program is accepting nominations through Sept. 30 (see page 53), which will be judged by an independent panel of community leaders.
Honorees will be featured in the December issue of SBN and at a special banquet on Dec. 3, 1998.
Proceeds from the event will be donated to Greater Cleveland's non-profit community through a sustaining fund managed by The Cleveland Foundation. The fund will be non-allocated, meaning the Cleveland Foundation will determine its best use on a year-to-year basis.
"Our goal is to have an impact," says Robert G. Rosenbaum, editor of SBN. "The 40 or so people who work at SBN's headquarters give very generously to charitable causes, but we can only do so much. That's a frustration we have. But if we leverage the collective power of our audience and advertisers, we think we can do more.
"It's an especially important message today in light of BP's planned departure to Chicago. [Its predecessor] Standard Oil helped to invent the concept of community service, and to witness how fast a company can uproot itself after more than a century of philanthropy is a frightening prospect for anybody who cares about their home town."
Rosenbaum says the magazine has committed to a minimum donation of $10,000, and adds, "We think we can do far better as the Pillar Award program matures over the years."
In other Pillar Award news, Executive Caterers at Landerhaven signed on as a corporate sponsor. Medical Mutual of Ohio is the event's founding sponsor.
They're a tad less "aussem" now
In a development that has received far too little attention, Cleveland's best-named law firm has undergone a change in names that threatens to undermine its radical distinctiveness.
For years, the firm of Seeley Savidge & Aussem turned a thousand heads as they happened by it in the phone book or on a sign somewhere. One could almost read the momentary confusion on the perplexed faces of those first encountering the name: Is this another lawyer joke or is that the actual name of a firm? For others, the string of names conjured to mind the English philosopher Thomas Hobbes, who wrote that, absent rules governing human conduct, life is "nasty, brutish and short." But none of it did any harm to the firm's client development. What client, after all, wouldn't want to march into court or a deposition backed by counselors whose name sounds like a troupe of steroid-popping pro wrestlers?
Alas, all good things came to an end. Partner Jim Aussem, who prepped at Ernst & Young before joining the firm, has left to open a Cleveland office for the prominent Akron firm of Brouse & McDowell.
The firm's new name, by the way, is Seeley Savidge & Ebert. Just doesn't have quite the same ring to it, now does it?
At least we're not last
Every state likes to brag that it's a hospitable climate for business, and Ohio's no different. But what about the climate for entrepreneurship?
That's where Ohio comes up short, in the opinion of one long-outspoken small-business advocate. For the last three years, the chief economist of the Small Business Survival Foundation, Raymond Keating, has prepared what he calls his Small Business Survival Index, a state-by-state ranking of the environment for entrepreneurship.
His latest offering, the 1998 index, places Ohio a "wretched" 46th among the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Only Rhode Island, Oregon, Minnesota, Hawaii and D.C., in that order, fared worse. South Dakota, not exactly known as a hotbed of entrepreneurial activity, ranked first.
"Ohio entrepreneurs do receive a boost from fairly low sales taxes," he notes. "However, Ohio imposes fairly high personal income and capital gains taxes, a high corporate income-tax rate, a death tax reaching beyond the federal pickup level, a high health-insurance tax, and a very high electric utilities tax."
The rankings are based on criteria that include: the total crime rate and the tax rates for personal income, capital gains, corporate income, property, sales, unemployment, health insurance, electric utilities and workers' comp.
For the complete index, plus Keating's no-nonsense views on other political developments as they affect small business, check the Small Business Survival Foundation's Web site, at www.sbsc.org.
"This problem knows no age limit. People in their 70s cheat."
Kay Wallis, HR director for a midsized Cleveland manufacturer, of the widespread propensity of job applicants to cheat on drug tests
Ups and downs
Downs to BP America and its move to Amoco's Windy City office building. But at least all those years of hand-wringing over Cleveland's declining oil business have finally ended. Hang on: Banking's next.
Ups to online banking. Customers can now check their account balances and pay bills from home computers. That is... if they can bump their kids off the World Wide Web.
Downs to private prisons. Good business concept - the more prisoners they keep, the more money they make. Too bad the profits keep walking out the door.
Ups to Medical Mutual of Ohio for expanding services to the poor and elderly. Not to downplay the profit potential in administration of Medicare and Medicaid programs. But it's not easy money, so this decision is more than pocket-deep.
Downs to the Asia Flu for infecting local manufacturers. Exports are down, and so are stock prices. This is one fortune cookie everyone could have done without.
Downs to Cleveland Indians stock - worth a fraction of its IPO price. It looks more like wallpaper than an investment. We called it months ago. Let's hope on-field performance isn't tied to per share value.
Editor's note: For our cover story of the 99 greatest moments in 99 years of business, check the Cleveland page under the Get Local link at left.
Here are some local highs and lows.
1901: U.S. President William McKinley, a lawyer from Canton, is shot at Buffalos Pan-American Exposition and dies eight days later.
1907: Canton janitor James Murray Sprangler invents a device to help him clean floors and carpets. He takes his invention to boyhood chum William H. Hoover, then president of a business that made leather goods. The Hoover Co. is founded a year later.
1912: The Canton Pressed Brick Co. becomes the Belden Brick Co., as brick manufacturing changes to the extrusion method.
1916: The Timken Roller Bearing Axle Co. starts producing its own steel, setting it apart from all other American bearing makers and setting off a period of high growth.
1920: The American Professional Football Association, predecessor to the National Football League, is founded in Canton.
1943: As the Diebold Safe and Lock Co. begins diversifying into office products, it changes its name to Diebold Inc.
1960s: Timken Research develops improvements in steel production, such as strand casting, electric arc melting and vacuum-degassing facilities. These innovations help the company survive the onslaught of foreign steel in the 70s and 80s.
1963: The Pro Football Hall of Fame opens, eventually drawing more than 500,000 people a year for the enshrinement festival alone.
1970: Belden Village Mall is completed.
1970: Diebolds Futura Automatic Banking System provides 24-hour teller services in an armored box now known generically as ATM.
Here are three rules to follow: Keep your emotions in check; play the numbers game accurately; think big picture.
They could be maxims to run your business, hire an employee or purchase a competitor, but theyre some of the many tips included in a locally authored book, Writing Effective E-Mail: Improving Your Electronic Communication, by siblings Nancy and Tom Flynn.
Nancy, president of Nancy Flynn Public Relations Inc. in Northwest Columbus, and Tom, a senior information project leader for Liebert Global Services, merged their knowledge in an 83-page book covering message composition, grammar, formatting and organizing.
- Be specific, but write as if your boss, the media or mom were reading.
- Eliminate sexist language by using the generic pronoun one, for example, or using an article such as the, this or that instead of his or her.
They also warn of times when e-mail may be inappropriate, such as when you must deliver unpleasant news or when your message is extremely important.
The book, published in October [Crisp Publications, $10.95], was a first for the sister-and-brother team.
Nancy Flynn says she proposed the book when executives in her writing skills workshops expressed an interest in electronic communicationsand when she saw the poorly written e-mail she received.
It seemed as though there was a need to get the word out that good writing is good writing whether in cyberspace or on a piece of paper, she says.
Apparently the publisher saw the same need, almost immediately accepting the Flynns August 1997 book proposal. After e-mailing draft versions to each other, the siblings delivered a copy to the publisher in January 1998.
Watch for more titles under the Flynn name. Nancy has another proposal in the works, and would not rule out a future collaborative effort with her brother.
The secret to becoming wealthy is that there is no secretjust principles.
Correspondent and radio personality Mort Crim, during the Better Business Bureaus Business Integrity Awards luncheon this fall
Here are some moments that, in retrospect, seem to have deep meaning, though they didn’t make the list.
1901: King Camp Gillette patents the disposable safety razor. Worst news for barbers since leeches. Now, “suits” are only two steps away (battery-operated razors, cars) from shaving on the Interstate.
1909: Cincinnati Reds play the first pro game under lights at night. Bosses suddenly wonder why the office doesn’t look as empty as it used to.
1911: Carrier invents air conditioning. Office staffers in wool suits are revived and get back to work.
1920: Background music is introduced in stores and elevators. Next stop: Orchestral arrangements of Roll Over Beethoven.
1922: Push button elevator is invented (after annoying background music drives operators out?).
1930: Based on angry feedback from a customer”Take this tape back to those Scotch [miserly] bosses of yours and tell them to put more adhesive on it!”3M re-introduces its auto-painting tape as Scotch Brand Cellulose Tape. It will be another half-century before someone coins the phrase “customer focus.”
1936: Culligan Water Technologies Inc. rises to market dominance in distributing water purification systems. Now workers have a place to gather to talk about last night’s game.
1948: The U.S. Bureau of National Standards builds the first Atomic Clock. Predictions that people will now be on time for big meetings prove overly optimistic.
1959: The first electric drip coffee maker is mass marketed, raising the question in offices nationwide: How did we ever survive before?
1969: Don Fisher opens the first Gap store for disillusioned Baby Boomerswho now have high-paying suit-and-tie jobs, but still wear Gap duds for casual Friday.
1973: Fred Smith founds Federal Express based on a class project he was assigned at Yale. (The prof gave him a failing grade on the paper, saying the whole idea of building an overnight delivery business was doomed.)
1980: 3M makes its second great contribution to this list: Post-it Notes.
1988: The rise of independent business as the driving economic force is noted. The same year, SBN publishes its first edition. Coincidence?
1989: Dilbert, the cartoon character, is born, giving voice to those who spend their days in cubicles, and prompting CEOs of all the largest companies to say: “So what’s the joke?”
1993: Michael Jordan leads the Chicago Bulls to a third straight NBA title, retires in his prime to try baseball, proves he can’t, in fact, do everything, and still manages to retain the title of world’s highest-paid pitchman.
1998: Sen. John Glenn retires from Congress and returns to outer space, a hero once again. All without doing a single celebrity endorsementyet.
Michael L. Ball
vice president, Karlsberger Cos.
Years in marketing: 22
First job in this field: The firm [NBBJ] called it marketing, but basically it was lead generation, business development.
What I learned from that job: The whole ability to listen and assimilate the culture of the client and understand how the firm could best respond.
Biggest marketing project: I have worked on projects in the $200 million range both domestically and overseas.
Best response from a marketing campaign: The very first project I ever marketed was for a hospital in Cincinnati. The client asked all of the usual questions, which typically results in a huge volume of material in response. We boiled down our response to five pages. When I delivered that proposal response, the client just looked at me and he said, "Is this it?" and I said, "Yes. We knew you would be receiving volumes of information and that you have a short time to evaluate all of it and that brevity would be important." We did not get the job; we just, at that point, did not have the credentials. [But] that really launched things, because once we were short-listed for that project, others took us very seriously.
Hardest part about my job: I think the hardest part of the job is trying to get people who are so consumed with responsibility and time pressure to take time out to look at other options. I rely on other people to help me. I am a strong believer in relationship marketing.
What I like best about this profession: Being able to get to know people and to understand their point of view, their passion for what they're doing and bringing that to a service that we provide-problem solving that we bring, experiences that we bring.
Advice to other marketing professionals: I truly believe that winning this particular opportunity or job or prospect or client is not nearly as important as doing the right thing and ultimately that comes back and pays off.
Other honors: The Merle Robert Maffit Memorial Scholarship; the Herbert S. Balmer Award; and Soldier of the Year for the Ohio Army National Guard. I have recently been elected president of the Ohio chapter of the American Institute of Architects.
Nominated for this award by: Pete J. Kienle, director of marketing/business development for Moody/Nolan Ltd. Inc.
What his nominator says: "I often say, 'What would Mick do in this situation?' and that perspective helps me in my decision process. In short, Mick's innovation and leadership have helped write the book where none existed."
Sales associate, The Huntington National Bank
Years in sales: About three
First job in this field: My first job in sales was more customer service with Home City Ice Co.
What I learned from that job: I learned how to deal with people, and that people respond to someone who is nice to them and polite; to someone that is going to go the extra mile for them and someone who will do whatever they can to help.
Best sales year: 1998
Largest single sale: It is just a combination of many sales that added up to one amount. I've averaged over $300,000 worth of loans in the last five or six months. It's a lot of different customers.
Hardest part of my job: Time management and learning all the legal aspects of the banking industry while trying to increase sales. You have to know what you can do right now for the customer and what you have to do once the branch closes. There are some duties that have to wait until the lobby closes like telephone work, responding to people and paperwork for loans.
What I like best about this profession: I like being able to help people. There are so many products to offer, that there is a good chance to make a sale with every person you see.
Advice to other sales professionals: There is a potential sale with just about everyone you come in contact with. Keep that in mind, be helpful, nice and polite to every customer because that is half the sale right there. People won't respect your advice or recommendations if you don't care about them.
Other honors: Some little ones like gift certificates for opening the most accounts in a specific period of time.
Nominated for this award by: Andrew W. Livingston, district market manager and vice president of The Huntington
What his nominator says: "The Huntington recently introduced a new life insurance product line and Karl is the number one referral source for the product and has achieved the highest referral-to-sale ratio for the product."
personal financial counselor, The Huntington National Bank
Years in sales: About six
First job in this field: I was an account manager with Household Bank.
What I learned from that job: I learned a lot of things from that job like needs-based selling and customer service.
Best sales year: 1998. As of the end of November, I'd made $18,044,805 in our core products such as checking, savings, loans and investments. This is the most I've ever made.
Largest single sale: I pulled in just over $2 million with a construction company in May 1998.
How I got the sale: The man came in to close out an account. I started talking to him to find out why he was closing it. I found out that he was looking for another bank. We started talking and we went over the products and services we offered. We found out what he needed and matched it with the services we offered.
Hardest part of my job: The hardest part is that I do everything. In this [job] you have things changing all the time. [So] I do a lot of reading like the Wall Street Journal and other magazines. When you read the journals they keep you aware of what's going on. It keeps me on top of everything. We [also] have a lot of support here at The Huntington. We have ⊃ team leaders that do investments and I can turn to them if something becomes complex, and the same thing with the mortgage companies. You get a lot of support from them.
What I like best about this profession: I love my job because, whatever you do, it will have a major impact on someone's life. It's amazing to me and I love that.
Advice to other sales professionals: Listen to your customers. Even if they don't come in for a sale, if you service the customer properly ⊃ then, when they do need something, they are going to come back to you.
Other awards: There are a lot of Huntington awards that I have received [including] the Skippers Club award for the last four years. It recognizes people that make a certain dollar amount in investments. You have to have $1.5 million in investments to receive it.
Nominated by: Pat Santelli, senior vice president with The Huntington
What her nominator says: "Traci displays professional excellence and innovation by developing a financial profile of her clients, analyzing their needs and recommending a customized financial course of action."
residential sales team leader, Atlas Butler Heating and Cooling
Years in industry: 15
First job in this field: Atlas Butler
What I learned from that job: You have to have a lot of patience. Things will come in their time, not in your time. If you're somebody who wants instant gratification-with television and media [influence], we want things right away-that doesn't happen with sales.
Best sales year: 1998 [with] just over $1 million. I generally don't track year to year, but this has been the best income.
Largest single sale: Residentially, I'd say about $12,000 or $13,000. Commercially, probably about $70,000, for Sandy Wood, the owner of Wood Development.
How I got that sale: Just a buildup of rapport over several years. I started out with renovations. As he grew, our work with him grew.
Hardest part of my job: Staying focused so that outside influences don't interfere with what you need to do every day to be successful.
What I like best about this profession: The people. I love working with people.
Advice to other sales professionals: You have to hav e a desire to want to work with people. And it's very helpful to understand your product and feel comfortable not only with people but with the product. And don't be afraid to get a 'No.'
Other awards: Atlas Butler has awarded me several company awards. I also won with the Small Business Council several years back. Also Columbia Gas, American Electric Power and Carrier-I received a Top Achiever award. I've been the only one to come close to $1 million in residential sales for Carrier that's not the owner of a company.
Nominated for this award by: Phil Stevens, sales and marketing manager for Atlas Butler
What his nominator says: "He has combined his technical knowledge, his passion for customer satisfaction and an unsurpassed work ethic to become a nationally recognized sales leader ⊃ His annual selling volume is actually four times greater than the national average for sales people in comparable positions."
vice president and senior business specialist, The Huntington National Bank
Years in industry: In sales since 1988; business banking since 1991.
First job in this field: Right out of college I was a manager for The May Co. Department Stores in Cleveland.
What I learned from that job: Always know what's happening on the larger corporate level.
Best sales year: [Last] year. Almost a tie from '93, '94 and [last] year. About $16 million worth of loans and deposits.
Largest single sale: About a $3 million relationship.
How I got that sale: That sale was a referral from some attorneys in town.
Hardest part of my job: Just time management. It's not finding the business anymore. I try and have real good support staff. Without them, you spend all your time servicing instead of selling.
What I like best about this profession: Diversity. You get to see probably one of every type of business throughout any given year.
Advice to other sales professionals: Sell more. Everything else sorts itself out.
Other honors: I was elected president of the New Albany Chamber of Commerce for 1999. That was an honor. Internally, I won the Huntington Bank Business Banking Award for outstanding sales performance for the last four quarters. At Bank One, I was the No. 1 Small Business Administration lender for '94 and '95.
Nominated for this award by: Rich Smith, vice president/business banking manager, The Huntington
What his nominator says: "He is an expert at helping his clients identify their needs and then, in using his creativity to develop those solutions which fit both the needs of his clients and the bank."
vice president and senior business specialist, The Huntington National Bank
Years in industry: About 12 years in the banking industry; about 2 1/2 in the sales end.
First job in this field: This one.
What I learned from that job: We're in a real competitive industry and it's hard to differentiate yourself from your competitors. The only way to do that is through outstanding customer service.
Best sales year: [Last] year. There are about four different things we look for: loans, deposits, fees and other related banking financial services. Loans were $14 million in new loans. Deposits, probably about $3 million. Fee income, around $45,000.
Largest single sale: It was for a new customer to the bank: $2.5 million in loans and probably $750,000 in deposits and other related services [for] a large hair design group
How I got that sale: Persistence. It took about 15 months. Initially they were real happy with the bank they were working with and didn't see a need to talk with anybody else. But finally a little opportunity opened up, and by then I was established as a potential source for them.
Hardest part of my job: We're spread a little bit too thin. I like the sales side of my job, but the way we're structured we also manage the existing portfolio. I have a great account relationship assistant. She's been very instrumental in helping with the existing portfolio side, the everyday customer issues that come up, things that used to take two to three hours out of my day.
What I like best about my profession: It's very rewarding when you can help a business. A lot of times it's a family owned business, so you get to know the people on a personal level. It's rewarding to help them buy that building they've always wanted or get them a loan for expansion.
Advice to other sales professionals: You just have to take care of every need and be proactive in trying to identify customers' needs. It pays off in unbelievable ways through referrals. Look at your existing customers and make sure that they are king.
Other awards: The Columbus Countywide Development Corp. recognized me as the Women's Prequalified Loan Specialist of the Year (a loan program aimed toward women) in October . Within our group at the bank, we give out a Quarterly Sales Performance Award. I've gotten that the last four quarters in a row.
Nominated for this award by: Rich Smith, vice president/business banking manager, The Huntington National Bank.
What his nominator says: "He is the consummate consultative salesperson and is committed to fully understanding each and every need of his clients."
Resource One Computer Systems Inc.
vice president of marketing, Resource One Computer Systems Inc.
Years in marketing: About a decade now.
First job in this field: My first job was at NCR Corp. in Dayton. I was the creator, developer and writer of a college newsletter they used for recruiting.
What I learned from that job: Big companies have a lot of money to spend. I learned that after I got to a small company. That experience was also great fundamental exposure to marketing and communications for me. That was really my first exposure to target marketing and it was highly targeted. I felt like I had the best job in the world since I got to fly around the country to different schools where they were recruiting.
Biggest marketing project: I think Resource One continues to be the biggest. It's an ongoing project. When I came here six years ago, we had four people and $9 million in sales and every day we work on growing our people and our customers and our revenues. Statistically, today we're at 62 people and $35 million in revenues. It's a marketing project that never stops.
Best response from a marketing campaign: We do a lot of direct marketing with collateral materials like brochures. That's really the best way we get response. Because we're a small company, it's been my responsibility to make us look bigger than we are; to create very professional leave-behinds to project the image we want to have. Every time we send something out, a customer will respond about something-even if it's, "Gee, that's a neat brochure," or "I didn't realize you were a minority business." Even though we're a computer company, there's not a computer anywhere in our brochures. We focus on the people. They remember those things. We have Stampp [Corbin, the CEO] in there and he's eating. They like that casual, folksy approach to who our people are.
Hardest part about my job: Focusing in on marketing. There are so many things that go on in a small company, and because I'm one of the more senior people here, I wear a lot of hats. My project list is a half a mile long and a foot deep.
What I like best about this profession: I love the variety of projects. But that's also what I don't love-the exposure to so many different things and the inability to get everything done. I love seeing the way the technology is starting to drive our business. I've got a fun job, too. I'm not an accounting person ⊃ I get the sexy position. I get to do the cool stuff.
Advice to other marketing professionals: I would say know your audience, know your company, look for creative ways to get stuff done and always ask your suppliers to sharpen their pencil.
Other awards: Five Golden Screen Awards for Computer Advertising Excellence from the Computing Techn ology Industry Association
Nominated for this award by: Stampp W. Corbin, president and CEO of Resource One Computer Systems Inc.
What her nominator says: "Mary has taken the company from one with no marketing direction to that of an industry leader ⊃ She is an exceptional career woman, mother and philanthropist."
president, Antique Networking Inc.
Years in industry: Over 25. I've always had a foot in the door in the marketing aspect of things.
First job in this field: I worked for an advertising company in 1973-Kight Cowman and Abram. I was a production assistant.
What I learned from that job: I got the whole realm of how you take a product and get the word out.
Biggest marketing project: Probably The Limited when they were opening more stores in different areas in the mid-1970s.
Best marketing campaign: Banner advertisements for Internet advertising. On the Web you know the people are on the Internet and they will see your ad. You can also tell how many were clicked through to your Web page. I've been on the Internet since 1995.
Hardest part of my job: Probably hiring good people that know about the Internet and the antiques industry. A lot of things to do with antiques are on the weekends and, you know, who wants to work on weekends?
What I like best about this profession: It's very exciting and very fast paced. Every day something is happening.
Advice to other sales professionals: If they're not using the Internet to advertise, they should be.
Other awards: We received the Five Star Award from Z Best Sight, the Major Web Select Award and the Megellan Award. They are companies that check out different Web sites and look at them for ease of use and functionality. We also received the Distinguished Antiquarian award that is specifically for Web sites for the antique industry.
Nominated for this award by: Judith K. Kienle, principle of Kienle Communications
What her nominator says: "Kathy prepared and implemented an aggressive business plan which has resulted in building a successful business in less than three years. She has garnered the respect and support of five major antique show promoters in the United States ... [and] catapulted Antique Networking into every region of the country."
account executive, NEXTLINK Ohio
Years in industry: Seven
First job in this field: Digital Consulting. I would sell seminars and conferences to computer technology upgrades. Different computer and technology topics.
What I learned from that job: Persistence. Attention to detail. Respecting the time and the needs of those I speak with. And the value in communicating.
Best sales year: 1998. Gross should be about $1.8 million.
Largest single sale: $2.6 million, Kroger Co., in 1997.
How I got that sale: A lot of building rapport and a lot of relationship building.
Hardest part of my job: Probably just not having enough time in the day. You get really passionate about something and you could work on it all night. I try to prioritize a lot, constantly prioritizing things and writing them down. I make sure every day I go through that list and have gone through every item and make a resolution or make a contact, whatever it may be.
What I like best about this profession: I like the responsibility that you have to go out there, make the contacts and build the relationships, and that you're responsible for the way the market perceives your business. If you give a great presentation or build a great relationship, that customer sees your company through you. I like that my peers are so successful. I have great peers, great resources in my company-that's one of the major contributors to me enjoying what I'm doing.
Advice to other sales professionals: Don't look at sales as a short-term solution or short-term career. Look at it as long-term. Build the relationships and build the reputation because your reputation is what they'll see the company as. Look at it as a full career.
Other awards: I've won quite a few at my company. [In 1997] I was Salesman of the Year for Ohio. I was in the top five nationally. I won Salesman of the Month five times [that] year. [In 1998] I won Salesman of the Month five times [through November]. I think I was second in the national contest and won a trip to the World Series. I ranked second nationally in '98.
Nominated for this award by: Lisa Lawless, vice president of marketing for NEXTLINK Ohio and Jill Sweeney, senior account executive with Griffin Communications
What his nominators say: "He has been instrumental in landing several key accounts for NEXTLINK Ohio, including Worthington Schools, the Columbus Board of Realtors and the Blue Jackets ⊃ Dan's sales philosophy stems from his belief that success is dependent on building strong relationships."
Robert M. Roach
owner, Executive Planning Systems
Years in sales: 30
First job in this field: Agent for Northwestern Mutual Life
What I learned from that job: If people weren't in a position or didn't have the need at that time ⊃ I continued to keep in touch with them and cultivate them and let them know I had a sincere interest in what they were doing.
Best sales year: I've been very fortunate in that every year has been a little bit better than the year before. My sales volume is in excess of $10 million a year.
Largest single sale: I've been able to help some medium-sized businesses fund some very large business agreements and nonqualified retirement plans. The premiums have been in excess of $100,000. Some of my larger clients are Saturn of Columbus, Elford Inc., Escape Enterprises Inc. and Countrytyme Development Co.
How I got my largest sale: My largest sale ever came about by staying in touch with the prospective client and providing the service that the company needed all along the way. When the opportunity for the company to install the benefit plan arose, they turned to me because they knew I had the knowledge and the interest in their company.
Hardest part about my job: Effective time management and delegation. I have two staff members and have tried to utilize them through delegating service work and marketing so that I'm able to exercise my unique ability and not spend time on those things I'm not particularly good at.
What I like best about this profession: I like the fact that when I make a sale, I'm truly helping other people.
Advice to other sales professionals: Get involved in their communities through civic and community organizations and also be active in their professional organizations. Active involvement in these organizations is good for networking, and it allows other people to see the quality of person that you are.
Other honors: Qualifier for 26 years for the Million Dollar Roundtable [an award for life insurance professionals]; the Outstanding Achievement Award by the Columbus Life Underwriters Association; Chartered Life Underwriter of the Year by the Columbus Society of Chartered Life Underwriters and Chartered Financial Consultants
Nominated for this award by: Larry V. Carlson, general agent for Northwestern Mutual Life
What his nominator says: "Bob is a leader in our industry and has given generously to our community in a variety of ways."
Are you tired of all the hype, all the questions and speculation, all the media coverage about the Year 2000 problem? So are we. But every once in a while, there comes a take so different, so fresh, that it breaks free of the background noise and grabs the attention of even the most jaded listener.
That applies to a recent comment by John Perry Barlow, a former member of the rock band The Grateful Dead and the man credited with coining the term cyberspace. Barlow appeared recently at a cyberspace symposium in Cleveland. Following his post-dinner comments, a gaggle of devoted fans followed him out of the lecture hall at the Great Lakes Science Center, shooting questions at him like groupies from his former life. "Let's continue this little society out on the sidewalk," the raspy voiced cyberbard said, "because I've gotta grab a smoke."
But when it came to a question about the Y2K problem, his response was like none we had heard before. "We'll figure it out. I mean, human beings are extraordinarily adaptable. We have to give up this myth that we have control. We have this belief in this country that all we need is a bigger hammer [to solve every problem] ... It will be one of the most spiritually transforming things ever for us. We will all be like the homeless. And it will be one of the best things for us, because it will build community."
Generation X takes another hit
Though they get high marks in technical skills and educational background, the members of Generation X get thumbs down in the work ethic department, according to a KeyCorp small business survey conducted by Wirthlin Worldwide.
"As businesses become more sophisticated, small business owners tend to rely more on the technical expertise of younger employees," said Sandy Maltby, vice chairman and head of KeyBank's Small Business Division. "However, concerns about young workers's motivation and attitudes were a recurring theme."
According to the survey, small business owners across the country agreed that employees under the age of 35 fall below employer expectations. The study also found:
- More than 69 percent of respondents said Generation Xers have poorer work ethics than previous generations. Less than 7 percent said they have a better work ethic.
- 50 percent said those under 35 produce a lower quality of work. Less than 10 percent said it is higher.
- More than one-third said Gen Xers are less competent. Less than 14 percent said they are more competent.
The survey results correspond with another national survey conducted in 1998.
Lawyers doing something for free?
Your doctor took out your kidney instead of your appendix and you're getting sued by the slacker you fired last week. Now what are you going to do?
How about surfing the Web?
Prairielaw.com is a 10-month-old Web site providing free information, from the plaintiff's perspective, from lawyers in four fields: personal injury, medical malpractice, workers' compensation and employment law.
The site offers the Lawyer Connection Directory, an interactive list of plaintiff lawyers around the country. The Prairie Law Journal provides articles and tips on law. It also moderates four civil trial law listservs and discussion groups covering the four areas of law. A general store sells audio, video and written materials to provide the wronged with even more information.
Live weekly chats have recently been added to Prairie.com, where professionals and the wronged and injured can interface on specific topics.
The site was founded and is moderated by Kevin O'Keefe, a trial lawyer, member of the Board of Directors of the Wisconsin Academy of Trial Lawyers and a sustaining member of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America.
The site is receiving more than 500,000 hits a month and growing. For help getting that kidney back try, www.prairielaw.com.
Don't worry, it's a piece of cake
You've seen them used in marketing copy and advertisements. Heard them spoken in speeches and lectures. Maybe even used a few yourself in pep talks to staff. They're "motivational" mottos that some still think of as tried and true slogans.
Fact is, they're truly trite. And we're tired of hearing them. Worn-out phrases such as "Make money hand over fist" and "Keep the wolf away from the door." Mundane maxims including "Employees are our greatest asset" and "Many hands make light work."
But, wait. Tompkins Press wants to hear more of them. In connection with its latest book, Revolution: Take Charge Strategies for Business Success - which debunks management by fad-Tompkins is searching for "The Most Trite, Generic, Hokey, Overused, Cliched or Unmotivating Motivational Slogans" that haunt the halls of corporate life.
It's a contest that offers you the opportunity to wow 'em with your worst and win $1,000 cash and a vacation package including two round-trip tickets to any US Air destination in North America.
Log on to the company's Web site at www.tompkinsinc.com/contest.html to check out the rules, then, e-mail entries to email@example.com or fax them to (919) 872-9666.
Then, cross your fingers, hit the sack and hope for the best. Even if you don't win, the next day will still be the first day of the rest of your life.
Ups and downs
By Dustin S. Klein
Ups...to the Coliseum. Or should we say former Coliseum. It's being reclaimed by the National Park Service, proof that you can bury a white elephant.
Downs...to telecommunications consolidation. Bell Atlantic Corp. buys NYNEX, then gobbles up GTE Corp. and AirTouch Communications. Didn't the government break up Ma Bell?
Ups...to Ohio's business climate. Site Selection magazine ranks it #2 for business. Gotta wonder if #1 North Carolina used the same methods that helped Utah land the Olympics.
Downs...for Gen Xers, who lack a solid work ethic, according to 72 percent of regional business leaders surveyed by KeyCorp. Or are the "suits" just jealous of people who bring their dogs to work?
Ups...to the euro, the first virtual currency. After a successful Jan. 1 launch, it's holding its own against the dollar. Not bad, considering the bills and coins won't be available until 2002.
Downs...to the NBA. Yawn. (But spring training starts this month.)
Ups...to the U.S. airlines, which didn't have a single fatality last year. But those lines at the security gates are killing us.
Adonix S.A., a France-based maker of software systems that unite all the functions of business operations into one comprehensive system, has acquired GSI Transcomm, a Pittsburgh-based software developer of TOLAS distribution software.
Pittsburgh Airport Hotel LLC has opened a Microtel Inn & Suites its fourth in Pennsylvania at 900 Chauvet Dr. at Pittsburgh International Airport. The new hotel is a three-story, 99-room property with single, double and suite accommodations. Microtel is a franchise whose franchiser is Atlanta-based U.S. Franchise Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: USFS).
The Bernstein Law Firm has merged with the firm of Joseph M. Wymard, P.C. to form the expanded practice of Bernstein Bernstein Krawec & Wynard, P.C. The resulting firm, concentrating in commercial and retail collections, will maintain its main offices in Pittsburgh. The new firm will also have locations in South Carolina and North Carolina.
Pittsburgh law firm Pietragallo, Bosick & Gordon is publishing Tri-State Product Liability Update, a quarterly publication that analyzes and critiques topics pertaining to recent legislative matters applying to insured and self-insured manufacturers in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia.
Taylor Perles Communications has been named agency of record for Resources for Management, a Blawnox-based executive search and financial services consulting firm.
CISCORP has introduced Mail Attender, a software package designed to administer e-mail systems. The product is intended to ensure the proper use of e-mail, increase employee productivity and eliminate wasteful use of storage space on servers, the company says. The software uses mail restrictions that allow administrators to control which attachments and documents are retained on a users system and how long they can be retained.
Franchise Specialists Inc., a Pittsburgh-based franchise development and franchise marketing firm, has opened an office in Charlotte, N.C. The company also maintains offices in Hartford, Conn., and Tulsa, Okla.
Akerman Center For Discovery has opened a learning facility in Wexford. The center offers a variety of programs designed for professional and personal growth.
WTW Architects has been selected to complete two design projects for the Veterans Administration Hospital in Butler. The first phase incorporates two exterior projects, including a series of parking improvements and a reworking of the hospitals primary entrance. The second phase involves retrofitting 800 windows throughout the hospital. The combined cost of the projects is expected to be $2.5 million.
Nauticom has implemented a new technology that can transform a regular telephone line into a high speed, high capacity Internet connection. The service, known as xDSL or digital subscriber line service, is available to North Pittsburgh Telephone Co. customers and is slated to be offered to Bell Atlantic subscribers as well.
Commitment to excellence
Goodwill Industries of Akron received its seventh consecutive Three-Year Accreditation award from CARF, The Rehabilitation Accreditation Commission. Goodwill was recognized with the highest level of accreditation possible for Employment Services, Comprehensive Vocational Evaluation Services, Employee Development Services and Community Employment Services. Donald E. Galvin, Ph.D., president and CEO of CARF says, Goodwill Industries of Akron demonstrates quality rehabilitation programs, measured by rigorous standards.
Do it for the needy, if not for the government
The IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program is looking for people to help those with special needssuch as low-income taxpayers, disabled persons, non-English speaking and older taxpayersto prepare and file tax returns, perform clerical work, publicize VITAs free service, and other jobs. Hours are flexible, (2 to 4 hours weekly through April 15), and the environments (libraries, community centers and churches) are nicer than your usual federal office. The time commitment is brief and the personal satisfaction is great, says Taxpayer Education Coordinator Rachel Ragan. For more information, call (513) 684-2828.
While news hounds feed frenetically on the tidbits of Clintons peccadilloes, Connie Bloom, owner of Remember Me Biographies, is busy documenting the not so infamous people who hire her to write and typeset their life stories in a hardbound biography that comes complete with photographs. Grandpas tall tales and grandmas gentle recollections are their greatest legacies, Bloom says, and these are things that fame and money cannot buy. There is, of course, a price for thisbetween $1,500 and $2,500, which is considerably less than the bill Clinton will ultimately receive. How to reach: Remember Me Biographies, (330) 836-0918
Even number crunchers need to get out
In a recent Accountemps survey, CFOs at companies with more than 20 employees were asked: How important is networking with other professionals in your field or industry in furthering your career? Eighty percent of the 1,400 respondents said networking with others in their field has been instrumental in their professional success. Heres how it broke down:
- Very important: 41 percent
- Somewhat important: 39 percent
- Somewhat unimportant: 13 percent
- Not at all important: 6 percent
- Dont know/no answer: 1 percent
Trades labor shortage
The Akron-Canton chapter of The American Subcontractors Association will address the labor shortage in the construction industry at its meeting on from 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, April 7, at Tangier Restaurant. Association leaders and trade instructors from vocational training departments of participating school districts will be guest presenters at the event. Call (330) 753-9958 for more information.
The Western Reserve Small Business Development Center for Women is offering no-cost business counseling for women, and a variety of classes ranging from financial statements, accounting software and information systems to business communications, marketing, financing and government procurement. For course and counseling information, call (330) 972-5592.
The Employers Resource Council, which is based in Cleveland and serves all of Northern Ohio, has launched a new dream team of 20 firms that offer discounts on a wide range of human resource management services, including technology, financial and environmental. Each provider has a market presence in Akron and Canton, and services the ERCs entire 22-county region. To get the discounts, all you need is a membership in the ERC. For information, call the ERC at (216) 696-3636.
Paragon Solutions Inc., a privately held Oracle consulting firm founded five years ago by Pittsburgh entrepreneurs Debbie Ferlic and Susan Parker, has joined the Summit Group, a wholly owned subsidiary of CIBER Inc. We are excited about the possibilities this brings to Pittsburgh, says Ferlic, who is now vice president/general manager of Summit Group. Plans this year for the Pittsburgh office include hiring 14 additional consultants and a move from its current location in Carnegie to new, larger offices. The $4.5 million company expects to double in size by 2000. CIBER Inc. is a public company listed on the New York Stock Exchange. SBN featured Paragon Solutions in its Who to Watch in 1998 feature in the January 1998 issue.
Precision-Marshall Steel Co. of Washington, Pa., a supplier of ground flat stock, drill rod and tool steel and alloy plate throughout North America, has opened a new warehouse in Columbia, S.C., and signed an agreement with Hardy Sales Co. of Denver to inventory and market its tool steel products. The new locations, the company says, will enable it to serve the Southeast and Rocky Mountain states more efficiently and promptly.
Capital Appraisal Group Ltd. has purchased United Appraisal Services Ltd., the largest real estate appraisal company in the Washington, D.C.-Baltimore region. Capital Appraisal Group says the acquisition is by no means intended to be its last. Says David Landman, president of Capital Appraisal Group: The real estate industry is consolidating, and it is our intention to purchase other appraisal companies and related businesses and rapidly expand our businesses.
Tuscarora Inc. has agreed to acquire the principal business and operating assets of Berry Packaging Inc. of Sallisaw, Okla. The company says the purchase of the company, a manufacturer of interior protective packaging made from custom expanded polystyrene, will allow Tuscarora to better serve existing and new customers in the region, especially within the appliance industry, one of its core markets.
Lindwood Farm Inc. and Kacin Companies Inc. are planning to develop a carriage home community of 80 one-level homes in Hempfield Township. The development, South Meadow at Lindwood, will be located north of Greensburg.
The Service Corps of Retired Executives has established a Web site at www.scorepittsburgh.com. The site offers success tips for small businesses and information about SCORE services and counseling resources. SCORE says the site will soon allow online registration for its pre-business workshops and will provide a form to request counseling by a SCORE volunteer.
Kacin General Contractors is building a 35,550-square-foot building in Westmoreland County Business & Research Park in New Kensington. The building will include 32,000 square feet of warehouse/manufacturing space and 3,550 square feet of office space.
The facility is designed to allow for a 50 percent expansion in the future, and will include three loading docks with drive-in access and turnaround space, parking area, handicapped accessibility and complete landscaping.
Sima Products Corp. of Oakmont earned four Innovations Awards for its new products at the International Electronics Show. The company received awards for its audio video switcher, volume stabilizer, pro series color corrector and special effects editor and audio mixer. Sima, which has nearly 100 products in its line of consumer electronics accessories, sells them in more than 20 countries and through a network of dealers and distributors nationwide.
Turner Construction Co. has been selected as construction manager/general contractor for an $8.7 million redevelopment of the former Pennley Park Apartments complex. The project is expected to be completed by the end of the year and will include new construction and renovation of 102 residential units ranging from efficiency apartments to three-bedroom townhouses. The new development, which will be named Pennley Place, is being developed by Community Builders Inc., a not-for-profit corporation that owns and operates more than 10,000 housing units nationwide, in cooperation with East Liberty Development Inc.
Triangle Circuits of Pittsburgh has been awarded a contract by Westinghouse Process Control Inc. to supply printed circuit boards for use in Westinghouses distributed process control and information systems. A just-in-time inventory replenishment system at Westinghouse Process Control will be used to reorder parts from Triangle Circuits electronically. With the new technology in place, Westinghouse will communicate with Triangle Circuits computers when a new inventory of parts is needed. Production of printed circuit boards will be driven by a bar code floor stock system. Daily updates will then be loaded into the Westinghouse mainframe computer, and a signal will be sent to Triangle Circuits to replenish an order of predetermined size.
WestLake Internet Training has chosen Pittsburgh as the location for its new training operations. Pittsburgh native Jonathan Steffey, an Internet trainer with WestLake in Washington, D.C., since 1996, has been named director of the Pittsburgh operations. WestLake opened offices in Green Tree in January and downtown last month. According to Steffey, a growing number of high-tech firms in the Pittsburgh region and easy access to other key cities and regions weighed heavily in its decision to choose Pittsburgh for its new facility. We expect companies in Cleveland, Columbus, Buffalo and throughout the Northeast which have used WestLake for years will now choose to send employees to Pittsburgh for training because the city is so accessible, says Steffey.
DXI Inc., a rate and shipment information management company based in Robinson Township, has expanded its sales coverage with the opening of a European office in London. We serve a global industry, and its imperative that our firm be readily accessible to customers throughout the world, says Ed Ryan, vice president of sales and marketing. Having an office in London helps us to offer better responsiveness to major European manufacturers and ocean carriers. DXI also maintains offices in Cranford, N.J., Miami, San Francisco and Shanghai.
MSA Process Automation Solutions and Services Inc. has acquired the project files and software of the former DAXUS Corp. in an agreement approved by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court. We have a number of customers who were also customers of DAXUS, says Patrick Gallagher, MSA PASS vice president. The acquisition of this information will help us to support our current customers and all former DAXUS customers with Year 2000 and other enhancement challenges they may face now and in the future. Daxus, a supplier of automation systems and software to the metals, food processing and pharmaceutical industries, filed for bankruptcy in January 1998. MSA Pass provides turnkey computer systems, process control services, system design and facility-wide management systems to a variety of process and manufacturing industries.
Y2K as a competitive edge
Health care is one of the least prepared industries for Y2K. But Medical Mutual of Ohio not only claims to be Y2K compliant, it has figured out how to use it to get new business.
The program, called Assurance 2000, offers employers an alternative for health benefits programs that arent Y2K compliant.
Employers can switch their health benefits from noncompliant carriers to Medical Mutual at prices similar to their existing programs according to Ed Hartzell, president and CEO of Antares Management Solutions, which markets Medical Mutuals Y2K compliant systems.
A health program flatlines
Speaking of health care, nobody was particularly surprised last month when the Cleveland Health Quality Choice program quietly slipped out of its coma and into oblivion.
When founded 10 years ago by a coalition of business and health care interests, the program was the first effort anywhere to measure and track hospital outcomes. The idea was to provide data so businesses could make informed decisions about where to send employees for the best care.
While the Cleveland Clinics withdrawal from the program sealed its fate, the clinic was not the first hospital group to pull out.
According to a high-level clinic insider, none of the hospitals withdrew because they were afraid of the scrutiny. Rather, they resented having to pay to support the program while businesses interests continued to ignore their suggestions on how to make the data more meaningful.
All they were interested in was cost, the source said. There was no sense that anybody was even using the data.
If only costs would do the same
While the death of the CHQC seems to indicate business has given up trying to sort out health care quality issues, theres no end in sight for the need to manage costs.
Last year, total health benefit costs for active employees increased 5.7 percent in Cleveland, reaching an average of $4,464 per employee.
Cleveland business owners shell out more per employee than owners anywhere else in Ohio, which has a statewide average of $4,054 per worker. Ohios average, by the way, exceeds the national average of $4,037.
According to a William M. Mercer Inc. survey, costs are going up because of consolidation within the health care market and due to widespread cost increases for prescription drugs. Similar increases are expected again this year.
Doctor vs. doctor
Business and hospitals arent the only institutions at odds in the increasingly brutish health care industry.
An old dispute between the Academy of Medicine of Cleveland and the Ohio State Medical Association over membership dues and attracting local members will be settled in court again.
The academy which serves as the countys medical association, providing lobbying services, group benefits and other services filed suit against the State Medical Association in January after the association pulled the academys charter and began a competing local organization.
Its the second time the state association has withdrawn the county groups charter; the first time, courts overruled on a technicality.
Checking in on old friends, part 1
When SBN profiled ProFormas Greg Muzzillo in March 1998, the founder of this Independence-based business firm and promotional printing company laid out some lofty goals 400 franchisees, each doing $400,000 a year, by February 1999 and eventually companywide sales of $1 billion.
In fact, Muzzillos company did hit the magic 400 right on schedule, topping $100 million in revenue in the process.
Its a great example of hitting an ambitious target, but it also illustrates the problem endemic to the fast track: The more you grow, the harder it is to keep growing.
When we first checked in with ProForma, its 270 franchisees were averaging about $265,000 a year. Today, that average has dipped to about $250,000. To be fair, with more than 100 new owners in the last 12 months, some of that decline must be due to the expected spinning of wheels. But the bottom line is this: The closer ProForma gets to $1 billion, the farther away it must seem.
Old friends, part 2
Hi TecMetal, profiled by SBN last October, received QS-9000 registration for its HTG Copper Brazing Industries in Warren, Mich. The brazing unit pursued the registration so it could continue as a tier-one supplier to the Big Three auto makers, according to HTGs CEO Terrence Profughi.
Old friends, part 3
Creativity for Kids, which SBN looked at in February 1998 for its unique approach to product development, has announced 15 new toy kits for 1999. The kits, primarily craft-style products, can be seen at the companys Web site, www.creativityforkids.com.
New help for small business
Northeast Ohios first Business Information Center has already opened for walk-in business and will be officially dedicated at a ceremony April 6 at 2 p.m.
Located in Playhouse Square at 1718 Euclid Ave., the BIC offers free business research tools, including a library, software library and Internet searches.
Operated in partnership between the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Service Corps of Retired Executives and, in this instance, KeyCorp., the BIC will be staffed by volunteers to help visitors with a range of business needs, from writing a business plan to researching tax issues, to making photocopies and defining market demographics.
The center occupies 850 square feet of a former KeyBank branch, which was donated by the bank.
Its downtown, but at the edge of downtown and looking out on the (federally designated) empowerment zone, says Gilbert Goldberg, district director of the SBAs Cleveland region office. I would hope it could become a beacon for people who want to do business inside the empowerment zone.
The center is open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday to Friday. The phone number is (216) 522-4194.
If you doubt theres money to be made from the Internet, consider National Market Measures Inc., a Westlake market research firm. Its started construction on a new 4,500-square-foot focus group and interviewing facility in Solon to replace a smaller building in Mayfield Village. Founding partner Martha Kain says the new development will meet growing demands for the companys research practice, which is being done increasingly via the Internet.
When, and where, to hold back
Business owners concerned with Internet privacy issues are rethinking how much company information to reveal on their Web sites. Conversely, theyre wondering what to do with the sensitive information they gather from site visitors.
The Better Business Bureau is accepting applications from its members for an online privacy seal which tells visitors that any information they offer will be held in strict confidentiality. Companies that qualify agree to follow stringent privacy guidelines when conducting e-commerce on the Net. Eligibility requirements can be found at the BBB Web site at www.BBBOnLine.org.
See you, see me
In their wish to learn as much about prospective hires as possible, employers are turning to personality assessments. In their wish to prepare as well as possible for job interviews, prospective employees are turning to the Web site of Advantage Companies, which offers several personality assessments to help job seekers prepare. The site is at www.advantagecareer.com.
Theres always Amtrak
In a touch of irony, considering Clevelands recent accolades as a business center, the North Coast fared poorly in Sprints most recent ranking of the most productive cities in America. Out of 313 metropolitan regions, Cleveland came in 87th. Dallas was No. 1.
One big strike against Cleveland was accessibility to the city. Meanwhile, the IX Center battle continues and expansion of Cleveland-Hopkins International Airport does not.
More HR discounts
The Employers Resource Council, a membership-based human resources organization, has added the following companies to its Dream Team: Tallmadges SACS Consulting and Investigative Services and Creative Stages Ltd., an innovation consultancy. The Dream Team is a group of providers offering services at a discount rate to ERC members. Others participants include ADP, Cohen & Co. and Deloitte & Touche.
For more information, call the ERC at (216) 696-3636.
Its not the economy after all, stupid
Fueled by optimistic signs at the end of 1998 and beginning of 1999, nearly two-thirds of Cleveland technology business owners say they expect international revenues to increase this year by more than 2 percent, despite the economic malaise in Asia and South America. According to a PricewaterhouseCoopers survey, nearly 90 percent of the business owners attribute their optimism to higher quality products and rising demand for new technology. Oddly enough, economic conditions and the ability of customers to pay didnt seem to play a role in the thinking.
Bring on doomsday ...
Dont believe the worst-case predictions about small business owners getting caught in a Y2K disaster when the year ends; more than 80 percent of Cleveland technology business owners say they are ready, willing and Y2K compliant, according to another part of the PricewaterhouseCoopers survey. But theres a downside: While the owners admit theyve received assurances from their IT departments about their own preparedness, fewer than half are convinced that businesses they deal with are just as ready.
Or avoid doomsday altogether
Here are four quick tips for avoiding a computer meltdown at year end, from computer expert Eileen Buckholtz, author of Y2K: Run to Save Your PC from the Year 2000 Bug:
- Buy new computers early. Prices are low now, but a summer rush to upgrade could bring the first computer price increases in history as people discover old systems arent compliant.
- Y2K-proof new contracts. Before you sign on the dotted line, get assurances from computer suppliers that their products are compliant.
- Hold that sigh of relief. Just because the bank and utility companies say theyre compliant, that doesnt mean your computer can work with their upgraded systems. Test them.
- Practice for 2000. Keep a log of significant annual business events, such as first payroll, electronic bank transactions and inventory checks. Set the time and date to Y2K and test run your computer to see if those tasks are processed correctly.
Bringing out the best in people
Do you have trouble motivating borderline employees who you know can excel? According to a new book, Encouraging the Heart: A Leaders Guide to Rewarding and Recognizing Others, by James Kouzes and Barry Posner ($22, Jossey-Bass Inc.), here are seven tips to get the most out of your employees:
1. Set clear standards. Goals that can be achieved make people feel like winners.
2. Expect the best. Show employees you believe in them and theyll work harder not to let you down.
3. Pay attention. Mingle with workers instead of isolating yourself.
4. Personalize recognition. When you tailor to the recipients tastes and interests, even the smallest award is special.
5. Tell the story. When you reward employees, do it in a forum where you can tell other workers how that employee earned the award.
6. Celebrate together. Remind the staff that success is a group effort.
7. Set the example. Leaders must set an example by demonstrating how to contribute, celebrate and succeed. Others will follow.