2017 Business Longevity Awards

This year’s Business Longevity Award honorees are proof that hard work and a commitment to excellence can pay off. These 44 companies were built on timeless values and principles that set the stage for generations of economic achievement.

Some of these businesses have recognizable brand names that are imbedded in the communities they call home. Others have maintained a low profile while consistently offering a great product to their customers.

When things didn’t go their way, these organizations regrouped and bounced back stronger than ever. They are part of the Northeast Ohio business community’s rich history — and are well on their way to being part of its future.

CELEBRATING 149 YEARS IN BUSINESS – YWCA Greater Cleveland

Margaret Mitchell
President and CEO
YWCA Greater Cleveland
Founded: 1868

Established in 1868, YWCA Greater Cleveland is a community resource in Northeast Ohio committed to eliminating racism and empowering women. The organization, led by President and CEO Margaret Mitchell, is widely recognized as a thought leader on the issues of racial equity and the advancement of women.

YWCA Greater Cleveland is focused on three areas: early childhood education, youth services, and leadership and inclusion initiatives.

The Early Learning Center provides early education for children ages 3 to 5 years old. It enables working parents to pursue their career and educational goals, while preparing their young children for a lifetime of learning.

Nurturing Independence and Aspirations is a trauma-informed system of care model focused on permanence, education, employment, housing, physical and mental health, and personal and community engagement for youth 14 to 24 years of age transitioning from failing systems, including foster care.

YWCA Greater Cleveland advocates for the civil and human rights of women, children and people of color — educating and communicating public policies that impact underserved communities and populations. Its Women’s Leadership Initiative empowers women to become effective leaders by providing them with the essential skills necessary at each stage of their career while ensuring that organizations are prepared to do the same.

CELEBRATING 140 YEARS IN BUSINESS – The McGregor Foundation

R. Robertson Hilton, DM
President and CEO
The McGregor Foundation
Founded: 1877

The McGregor Foundation, led by R. Robertson Hilton, DM, president and CEO, continues the work it began in 1877 to improve the experience of aging in Northeast Ohio.

Tootie McGregor established McGregor to honor her late husband, Ambrose. The foundation’s services include assisted and independent living, rehabilitation, long-term care and hospice.

Investing in resources and education, McGregor is creating awareness while establishing business relationships and partnerships that have led to programs such as Ask Our Experts, which held a White House Conference on Aging Forum, and Knowledge Empowers You, providing continuing education to health care professionals and others.

Through technology, McGregor is supporting features and connectivity in health care information management required to optimize existing businesses and participate in integrated care delivery solutions shared among peer organizations.

The newly established McGregor Institute’s Social Work Training Collaborative recognizes the need to provide training, insight and influence for the investment of human and financial resources by enhancing the skills of social service professionals.

Recognizing the need for more affordable housing options, the foundation has plans to build two new facilities on its campus to increase options for a growing senior community. Completion is expected in the summer 2019.

CELEBRATING 131 YEARS IN BUSINESS – Chapman & Chapman Inc.

Walter Chapman
CEO
Chapman & Chapman Inc.
Founded: 1886

Chapman & Chapman Inc. has provided services to corporate and individual clients in Cleveland and around the country for more than 130 years. Twelve members of the Chapman family have joined the firm over the past five generations, with four family members now representing the fourth and fifth generations.

Beginning in the 1920s, GB Chapman (known as Byron) and his son, George, ran Aetna’s general agency. The father/son team was the largest producer of insurance business for Aetna in the U.S. for three decades. Chapman & Chapman pioneered the development of employee benefit programs for clients such as Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co., Goodrich Corp., The Timken Co., Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. and Lubrizol Corp., among others.

The company continues to advocate on behalf of its clients under the leadership of CEO Walter Chapman, who has led the firm as an independent agency for the past 40 years. Chapman & Chapman has grown to offer myriad core benefit and supporting services to corporate clients as well as financial planning and wealth management strategies to personal clients. The leadership team includes Philip Amos, a second-generation professional; Aaron Marinelli; and Kristin Chapman, representing the fifth generation of family leadership.

CELEBRATING 128 YEARS IN BUSINESS – Philpott Solutions Group

Mike Baach
President and CEO
Philpott Solutions Group
Founded: 1889

John W. Philpott pushed his wooden cart through Cleveland’s industrial complex to meet with potential industrial customers to exchange ideas.

He listened to the customers’ challenges, which enabled him to fabricate and deliver custom solutions and keep the promises he had made. It was in 1889 that the company’s foundation was set. Philpott’s belief that success comes from keeping promises guides Philpott Solutions Group to this day.

Promises are made to suppliers and in the community, as well as with customers. This commitment ensures that productive, long-term links are formed and maintained.

Every Philpott employee, from President and CEO Mike Baach down, maintains the philosophy in everything they do. These critical communication paths then receive support from the company’s web presence, formal public relations and marketing initiatives.

As a further indication of Philpott’s commitment to its core beliefs, even the finance and administrative personnel regularly meet with customer and supplier counterparts. Perhaps most importantly, each employee proudly conveys the Philpott story when attending social events, doing good deeds with nonprofit organizations and while interacting with others in their fellowship activities. Management takes steps to ensure that every employee takes the commitment to heart and can act as Philpott ambassadors in the community.

CELEBRATING 122 YEARS IN BUSINESS – The Garland Co. Inc.

David Sokol
President
The Garland Co. Inc.
Founded: 1895

Garland’s history began in 1895 when Jacob B. Wise purchased Garland Co. Inc., known then as the Garland Refining Co., for $100, which he borrowed from his brother.

Since then, Garland has become a leader in the commercial roofing industry by providing high-performance, innovative waterproofing solutions engineered for long-term performance.
Since its founding, Garland has been building lasting partnerships with customers. The company prides itself on its unwillingness to sacrifice quality or good roofing practices just to win a sale.

Garland, led by President David Sokol, is driven by a simple philosophy: listen to what today’s customers need, anticipate what tomorrow’s customers will want. The company has developed numerous award-winning innovations, including some of the industry’s most sustainable solutions. It was among the first roofing companies in North America to embrace green technologies, and it remains at the forefront of sustainable solutions through a combination of product research and development.

Because Garland is a 100 percent employee-owned company, each representative has a very personal interest in the outcome of every project. By monitoring each project, during and after the job, the company is able to ensure that its clients’ roofs are installed as specified and properly maintained.

CELEBRATING 121 YEARS IN BUSINESS – Hiram House Camp

Courtney Guzy
Executive Director
The Hiram House
Founded: 1896

The Hiram House was founded as Ohio’s first settlement house in 1896 by George Bellamy to address the needs of Cleveland’s then-burgeoning immigrant and poverty-stricken slum dwellers. He sought to establish a “fresh air camp” for tenement families, especially their children.

As Ohio’s oldest camp, it has been offering a continuous summer program each year for more than a century with the mission of enriching the lives of children through camping. Throughout its history, Hiram House has subsidized camping costs for its overnight summer camp children who live below the poverty line as well as children in foster care. The Hiram House Campership fund is subsidized through grants and donations from individuals, companies and trusts.

The camp, led by Executive Director Courtney Guzy, strives to address children’s lack of adult role models; social, cultural and economic diversity; cooperative learning; leadership skills; and respect and responsibility.
Hiram House continues to add new programs to adapt to changing times.

For example, over the past several years Hiram House has partnered with the Cleveland Clinic to enroll youth diagnosed with autism and Asperger’s syndrome for day camp and is partnering with the Lerner School for Autism to provide one week of overnight camp.

CELEBRATING 118 YEARS IN BUSINESS – Doylestown Telephone Co., dba Ohio.net

Thomas Brockman
President
Doylestown Telephone Co., dba Ohio.net
Founded: 1899

For decades, the Doylestown Telephone Co. operated basic telecommunications services for residents and businesses in a small corner of Wayne County. Other than basic upgrades to equipment (analog to digital) and extending coverage to remote corners of the service area, not much changed until the early 1990s and the fourth generation of family ownership.

In 1994, President Thomas Brockman and his wife, Sandy, expanded the business and presented a newer technology to allow customers access to the internet using standard phone lines. The DBAs Bright.net and Ohio.net were established as original internet providers in Northeast Ohio. With a focus on covering rural as well as metro markets, these companies grew quickly and developed a large dial-up internet customer base reaching all across Ohio.

Meanwhile, the original telephone company was expanding its services to include a cable TV company in 1996, which today competes head to head with Spectrum, formerly known as Time Warner Cable. It offers premium residential service, including fiber, to the home as well as an all-digital network.

Today, Ohio.net supports thousands of internet-connected devices and networks. Brockman holds a position on the board of the Ohio Telecom Association and manages five companies, including the original Doylestown Telephone Co.

CELEBRATING 112 YEARS IN BUSINESS – E.F. Boyd & Son Inc.

William F. (Pepper) Boyd II
CEO
E.F. Boyd & Son Inc.
Founded: 1905

E. F. Boyd & Son Inc. is one of the oldest African-American funeral homes in the Cleveland area.

When Elmer F. Boyd started the business, he was entering one of the few professions open to blacks at the turn of the 20th century. Boyd opened his business following his graduation from Clark’s College of Embalming in Cincinnati, (now the Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science). After passing the state examination, Boyd opened an office on Central Avenue in the fall of 1905. It was known as the E. F. Boyd Funeral Parlor.

He took on a partner, Lewis J. Dean, and officially opened in 1906. The initial establishment was described as “a combination funeral parlor and haberdashery.” Dean left the business in 1911, but Boyd, along with his wife, Cora, continued on.

During the early 1930s, Boyd was joined by his son, William F. With his business beginning to prosper, Elmer and Cora purchased the present headquarters location on E. 89th Street in 1938 and changed the name to E. F. Boyd & Son Funeral Home. Elmer Boyd died in 1944, but his wife and son, along with his daughter-in-law, Mary, continued to improve and enhance the overall business and its presence in the community. The business is now led by CEO William F. (Pepper) Boyd II.

CELEBRATING 112 YEARS IN BUSINESS – Buckeye Fasteners

Pat Finnegan
President and CEO
Buckeye Fasteners
Founded: 1905

Buckeye Fasteners is a hidden gem in Northeast Ohio. While fasteners may seem like a small, minor part, they are a critical component of everyday life in our society.

Fasteners hold together everything from cars, where there can be hundreds of different weld fasteners, to refrigerators. Buckeye serves Tier One and Tier Two suppliers as its parts end up in larger assemblies that range from the hinge assembly in the trunk to brake assemblies to parts of a gas tank for a major motorcycle manufacturer.

Over the past four years, Buckeye Fasteners has become more invested in solar technology. Under the leadership of President and CEO Pat Finnegan, the company worked with a manufacturer of commercial and residential solar rooftop systems in a synergized effort to develop a unique welded assembly that creates a water-tight seal on solar attachments. This would be a nearly impossible task using a traditional screw-on bolt. The weld of the solar attachment is so strong that it withstood Hurricane Sandy.

Buckeye Fasteners is a division of Fasteners Industries Inc. The fastener group includes two Cleveland production facilities featuring the latest engineering and metallurgic skills to tackle the most challenging fastening requirements.

CELEBRATING 107 YEARS IN BUSINESS: The M. Conley Co.

Robert Stewart III
CEO
The M. Conley Co.
Founded: 1910

Established in 1910, The M. Conley Co. is a local, family-owned business headquartered in Canton that carries a variety of janitorial, packaging and office supplies, as well as products and equipment to service the health care, education, government, industrial manufacturing, food service and building maintenance industries.

Led by CEO Robert Stewart III, the company recently expanded from its single Canton location to two offsite warehouses in the city, as well as a location in Lincolnton, North Carolina.

The company has increased its product offering more than 30 percent in the past five years. In early 2013, M. Conley launched its own Phenom line of products that comprises top-of-the-line paper, chemical, equipment and food service products.

Over the past few years, M. Conley has been recognized by various organizations throughout the community. In late 2013, the company was chosen to be among the Stark 100 Most Interesting Businesses.

The M. Conley Co. believes in having a strong relationship with its community. The company and/or its employees are involved with boards that include The Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Festival, United Way of Greater Stark County, ArtsinStark, Canalway Partners, The American Heart Association and many more.

CELEBRATING 107 YEARS IN BUSINESS – Kaufman Container Co.

Roger Seid
CEO
Kaufman Container Co.
Founded: 1910

When a fire in June 1979 destroyed the company offices and warehouse of Kaufman Container Co. on E. 71st Street, it could have meant the end of a business that had been around since 1910.

The day after the devastating blaze, Bernard Seid, then the company’s CEO, gathered his employees. Together, they formulated a strategy with key suppliers and other business associates to continue providing products to customers uninterrupted. By September, Kaufman had relocated its offices and warehouse to Brooklyn Heights.

As the business continued to grow, Kaufman determined that it needed to support its smaller customers who wanted to decorate their containers. In 1982, under the supervision of Bernard’s son, Roger, Kaufman Container launched its special services division in another building and began screen printing glass and plastic containers.

The decorating business grew and Kaufman invested in more screen printing and labeling machines to meet the demand. Two years later, another product was developed that can be applied to glass, plastic or metal containers and can be in color, printed or perforated to the customer’s specifications.

Roger Seid now leads the company as CEO. In 2006, Kaufman Container moved to a new 230,000-square-foot location in Cleveland.

CELEBRATING 103 YEARS IN BUSINESS – Peoples Services Inc.

Douglas J. Sibila
President and CEO
Peoples Services Inc.
Founded: 1914

Ray Sibila had a single truck and a dream that has evolved to over 100 trucks, employees in six states, 38 locations and over 6 million square feet of warehouse space at Peoples Services Inc., which it grew from hauling and storing goods in a single location in Massillon for companies and individuals in 1940.

Peoples Services has identified three areas necessary for sustained growth and longevity. The first is growth in sales, whether through rate increases, expanding services to existing customers, expanding the customer base or making acquisitions.

Next is the leveraging of technology to improve productivity, communications, accuracy and decision-making. It’s also used to build in redundancy so that in an emergency, there is not a failure in customer service.

Finally is the enhancement of human resource functions. Technology installed in trucks has improved communication, benefits have been expanded and training and mentorship programs have been bolstered.
Sibila worked hard and learned to grow and branch out as opportunities arose.

His work ethic and values are guidelines that the company, now led by his grandson, President and CEO Douglas J. Sibila, still use today. The company continues to expand and make a footprint in each community that it connects with the resources of the world.

CELEBRATING 100 YEARS IN BUSINESS – Renner, Kenner, Greive, Bobak, Taylor, & Weber Co. LPA

Edward G. Greive
President
Renner, Kenner, Greive, Bobak, Taylor, & Weber Co. LPA
Founded: 1917

This year, the intellectual property law firm Renner, Kenner, Greive, Bobak, Taylor, & Weber Co. LPA, is celebrating 100 years of service to Northeast Ohio and clients around the world.

Founded in 1917 in Akron by Albert Ely Sr., Renner Kenner obtained thousands of patents and trademarks for its hometown clients in the city known as “The Rubber Capital of the World,” in all aspects of rubber processing, tire manufacture and related industries.

As the focus of the region’s inventors expanded from rubber-based inventions to polymer science, liquid crystals and biomedical devices, Renner Kenner’s broad expertise in mechanical chemical and electrical engineering, and chemistry and biology has enabled its attorneys to keep pace with innovations in those industries.

Renner Kenner currently has 13 attorneys, with more than 250 years of practice in intellectual property law. Renner Kenner’s President, Edward G. Greive, has been practicing intellectual property law for 50 years.

Looking to the future, new challenges are ahead as entrepreneurs and established businesses struggle to protect inventions, copyrights and trademarks from online predators unimaginable only a few years ago. Renner Kenner will continue to provide unparalleled value and personalized attention to its clients.

CELEBRATING 100 YEARS IN BUSINESS – Parker Hannifin Corp.

Tom Williams
Chairman and CEO
Parker Hannifin Corp.
Founded: 1917

Parker Hannifin Corp. began with two people: Arthur Parker and Carl Klamm. The path from that two-person enterprise to become a global company had stories of both success and setbacks along the way.

However, the entrepreneurial spirit never wavered and it enabled Parker to become the world leader in motion and control technologies.

In 1919, company representatives made plans to travel to a trade show where Parker would demonstrate the capabilities of its brake system to several large bus and truck manufacturers. Along the way, a trailer carrying Parker’s entire inventory fell off a cliff east of Pittsburgh. Arthur Parker was forced into bankruptcy, but immediately began his efforts to rebuild. Ultimately, the company bounced back — it survived the Great Depression and supported the war effort — and continued to grow.

By 1993, Parker was ready to reorganize into global businesses establishing regional group presidents and a sales company structure to support local customers with products from multiple divisions. The strategy proved to be a major catalyst for growth as sales nearly doubled and earnings quadrupled.

More recently, led by Chairman and CEO Tom Williams, Parker implemented a refreshed Win Strategy based on global feedback from team members, customers and even shareholders.

CELEBRATING 99 YEARS IN BUSINESS – Meaden & Moore

James P. Carulas
CEO
Meaden & Moore
Founded: 1919

In the 98 years since its founding, Meaden & Moore has grown to 18 locations in the U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom. The firm expanded beyond individual income tax preparation to advising a wide array of public and private business clients on various accounting, tax, technology and business consulting matters.

Over its history, the firm has added new service lines and focused on a variety of industries and markets. Niche areas of expertise have evolved into substantial business operations, such as the growth of the firm’s investigative accounting group. Launched in 1959, this group is now one of the foremost forensic accounting advisers in the areas of business interruption, damage assessment and litigation support services in the Americas and Europe.

Led by CEO James P. Carulas, Meaden & Moore has been able to adapt, expand and thrive for over six generations of ownership because of the culture of professionalism and entrepreneurial spirit created by its founders. The core values are preserved from one generation to another: do what’s right for your clients, your people and your communities. Each generation has been able to develop the firm by enabling employees to cultivate the professional skills necessary to support the changing needs of clients.

CELEBRATING 96 YEARS IN BUSINESS – Vitamix

Jodi Berg, Ph.D.
President and CEO
Vitamix
Founded: 1921

William Grover Barnard, who founded Vitamix in 1921, discovered that his purpose was promoting the benefits of whole-food nutrition. After being introduced to blender technology, he saw its value in preparing healthy foods and focused his attention on selling the “Vita-Mix” blender.

His son, Bill Barnard, took over the business and produced the first TV infomercial, selling hundreds of units and creating a new genre of advertising.

Third-generation Vitamix leader John Barnard used his engineering background to improve the Vitamix product line, which led to the development of its first commercial blender, the Mix’n Machine, for the food service industry. Today, a full line of commercial Vitamix machines can be found in gourmet restaurants and leading chains around the world.

Vitamix had been a direct marketer before completely changing its business model to take advantage of the health and wellness movement, reorganizing the company to be forward facing.

Under the current fourth-generation family leadership of President and CEO Jodi Berg, Ph.D., Vitamix has used the appreciative inquiry process to engage employees in creating a vision, mission and values that it has integrated into everything it does. Today, Vitamix’s purpose-driven culture has helped make it a global brand with a presence in more than 140 countries.

CELEBRATING 94 YEARS IN BUSINESS – Sheet Metal Products Co. Inc.

Joseph J. Mahovlic
CEO
Sheet Metal Products Co. Inc.
Founded: 1923

The Sheet Metal Products Co. Inc. was founded in 1923 in Cleveland as a job shop. It produced display cases, testing stands, machine guards and material-handling systems as well as countless specific projects for the area’s largest manufacturing companies.

During World War II and the Korean conflict, Sheet Metal Products Co. supported many defense-related industries. As the company grew and serviced more customers, it transitioned to a contract manufacturer and moved to larger facilities with increased capabilities. In 2000, the company built a 55,000-square-foot plant in Mentor and has since built two 25,000-square-foot additions, giving the company a total of 105,000 square feet of manufacturing space.

Its growth and sustainability can be attributed in part by finding a way to exceed customer expectations, being on time and partnering with them to solve their problems.

Over the years Sheet Metal Products Co. has maintained its pride in being a good place to work. Its employees have a combined 700 years of experience in metal fabricating and it currently employs its third generation of workers, many of whom are father-and-son or brothers.

The company, under President Christopher M. Mahovlic, is pursuing continued growth by providing exceptional customer service, outstanding quality and unmatched value as it approaches its 100th anniversary.

CELEBRATING 86 YEARS IN BUSINESS – Great Lakes Integrated Inc.

Jim Schultz
Chairman of the board
Great Lakes Integrated Inc.
Founded: 1931

Joseph Schultz was a European immigrant who moved to the U.S. to continue his passion for commercial printing and pursue both the American dream and freedom.

After working for a number of commercial printers and a short stint printing money for the U.S. Department of the Treasury, he decided to go into business for himself. His first desire was to engineer and build printing presses.

When a large industry manufacturer came in to see his invention, it did not perform up to expectations. It was the middle of the Great Depression and he had a family to feed. Both Schultz and his wife, Elsie, decided to fix the defects of the press and then Elsie would go out and sell commercial printing in downtown Cleveland. It was the start of Great Lakes Lithographic Co., which would later be rebranded as Great Lakes Integrated Inc.

As the printing business got off the ground, Joseph Schultz continued developing inventions that would revolutionize the printing industry. One of his inventions is still used on every offset printing press in the world. In total, he has secured 57 patents. Today, the company is led by Joseph’s son, James, who became CEO in 1986 and now serves as chairman of the board.

CELEBRATING 82 YEARS IN BUSINESS – First Federal Lakewood

Tom Fraser
President and CEO
First Federal Lakewood
Founded 1935

First Federal Lakewood has enjoyed a strong, stable presence as one of the leading financial institutions in Ohio since its founding in 1935.

Currently, as the largest independent, depositor-owned bank headquartered in the state, First Federal has a clear vision of continued growth, stability and evolution for the future. It is led by President and CEO Tom Fraser.

The most important factor in the company’s success is its commitment to supporting the local economy to help build stronger communities. Decisions are made to benefit three entities: customers, First Federal employees and the community. These groups are all invested in each other’s well-being and each helps the other thrive.

First Federal calls this concept “mutuality” and it has guided the company’s growth. No matter what kind of changes the bank has faced or what new products, services or technology it introduces, it always comes back to whether the change will benefit all three of these players.

In 2015, First Federal announced a major evolution in its mutual banking concept with the formation of First Mutual Holding Co. Based on the belief that strong, independent banks play a vital role in their communities, FMHC provides a structure that allows affiliate banks to better serve their customers while continuing to grow as depositor-owned institutions.

CELEBRATING 79 YEARS IN BUSINESS – Zinner & Co.

Robin Baum
Managing Partner
Zinner & Co.
Founded: 1938

The principles of leadership, dating back to the firm’s founding by Harry Zinner in 1938, never waver. From the partner group to the interns, each level of Zinner & Co. has an opportunity to grow through leadership development.

A comprehensive mentoring program allows each staff member to own their career development, foster growth in their technical and soft skills, and learn from and contribute to experiences through meaningful discussions. Zinner believes in supporting its staff by providing a welcoming and communicative environment.

Led by Robin Baum, managing partner, the firm has enjoyed steady organic growth throughout the decades. Careful staffing through intentional hiring has led to low turnover and high retention in senior leadership. The firm also cultivates talent through a robust internship program — its first intern is still with the firm and is now a senior level manager.

The firm’s ability to understand clients, their needs, and adapt and evolve with changing times has contributed to its longevity. Many of its clients have been with the firm for decades. Each client is served by a client service team that recognizes the importance of year-round communication. From startup to succession and transition planning, the client-first focus remains at the forefront of Zinner’s daily work.

CELEBRATING 78 YEARS IN BUSINESS – Cinécraft Productions Inc.

Maria Keckan
President and CEO
Cinécraft Productions Inc.
Founded: 1939

When Cinécraft Productions Inc. started telling the stories of Northeast Ohio businesses, cameras still operated with a crank. Almost 80 years later, the company thought to be America’s oldest active corporate film and video producer is still going strong.

Founder Ray Culley brought his Hollywood style and savvy to the making of films for industry. Culley pioneered the use of sound on 16mm film in professional filmmaking and developed the concept of using three film cameras simultaneously to save time shooting close-ups and reverse angles. Between 1939 and 1959, Cinécraft produced 299 films and 900 TV commercials.

Culley retired at 65 in 1970 and sold Cinécraft to his younger brother, Paul Culley. During Paul’s leadership, the new media of filmstrips and slide shows were added to the mix. Motion picture films were released on super 8mm cartridges and presented with briefcase-size projectors with tiny self-enclosed screens. In 1986, Neil McCormick and his wife, Maria Keckan, purchased Cinécraft together as 50/50 partners.

Keckan, now the company’s president, was a writer-producer of internationally distributed and award-winning educational videos for nursing, patient and health care workers at Fairview Hospital. Together, she and McCormick increased the company’s investment in capital-intensive, state-of-the-art video equipment. Today, Keckan’s son, Dan, is poised to continue Cinécraft’s success.

CELEBRATING 75 YEARS IN BUSINESS – Jergens Inc.

Jack Schron Jr.
President
Jergens Inc.
Founded: 1942

It was March 1942 and the world was at war. The U.S. had recently entered the conflict following Pearl Harbor. Factories all over the country were switching from making cars to manufacturing weapons.

A 25-year-old tool and die maker, Jack Schron, was unable to serve in the military because of a childhood illness. Jack convinced his father to start a business. So both men quit their jobs to start a tool shop named Glenn Tool and Manufacturing to support the war effort.

When World War II drew to a close, the country no longer needed military parts. Glenn Tool responded by supporting the huge demand for consumer goods. The company changed its name to Jergens Tool Specialty Co., created the industry’s first catalog of standard replaceable parts for tooling and began to establish a network of distributors.

The business of Jergens Inc., now led by President Jack Schron Jr., has evolved and adapted to changing times during the past 75 years. Jergens built its own regional distribution business in Cleveland so it can better understand the distribution market. The company also acquired a number of manufacturing companies that complement its growing range of products and used its established distribution model to expand overseas, selling its standard tooling in Germany, Japan and the United Kingdom.

CELEBRATING 73 YEARS IN BUSINESS – Walthall CPAs

Richard T. Lash, CPA
Managing Partner
Walthall CPAs
Founded: 1944

Since 1944, Walthall CPAs has adapted to the many changes that have affected not only the industry, but also the entire workforce.

The firm started as Walthall & Drake — two college professors working part time after meeting during World War II — and has since adapted to meet the changing requirements of business, government and economic influences.

The accounting industry is very different than it was in 1944. CPAs now help shape businesses and futures, playing a critical role in business decisions.

One of the most impactful changes to the industry over the past seven decades is technology. Business owners turned to accountants to learn about financial systems and IT matters. To that end, Walthall started a Technology division to assist clients, not only helping clients with IT matters, but also hosting websites.

In the last decade or so, workforce culture has changed and with it, so has Walthall. The firm adopted a business casual dress code, an open door culture, employee recognition, personal development and mentoring, wellness programs, green practices, business development opportunities and an improved work-life balance.

Walthall has been able to not only adapt to, but also embrace change, while keeping its original mission of focusing on expertise and stellar client service.

CELEBRATING 72 YEARS IN BUSINESS – The Rogers Co.

Rick Busby
President
The Rogers Co.
Founded: 1945

Scenic artist Van Rogers, a pioneer in the display industry who worked with the Walt Disney Co, founded the Rogers Co. in 1945.

The company is an award-winning designer and manufacturer of branded environments for trade shows, corporate events, showrooms, customer experience centers, corporate interiors and executive conference centers. It attributes its continuity of excellence over the past 70 years to its staff — craftsmen and engineers who average more than 15 years of experience in the industry, and staff in its graphic and design departments who average 20 years in the industry.

The company offers state-of-the-art solutions, lightweight fabrics, LED lighting and an array of digital products to better serve its clients. Process improvement is vital to its continued success, so it invests in advanced software to add efficiencies to its exhibit processes. The Rogers Co. also focuses on collaborative planning to ensure the most cost-effective exhibits are created with high-price value.

The company was one of the first in its industry to offer clients an online ordering and inventory system for their portable displays and all graphics. Today, it’s expanding its reach outside of traditional trade shows and creating exhibits for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and the Cleveland Public Library.

CELEBRATING 72 YEARS IN BUSINESS – The Malish Corp.

Jeff Malish
President and CEO
The Malish Corp.
Founded: 1945

When John and Pauline Malish started Malish Brush & Specialty Co. in their Garfield Heights basement in 1945, they could not have imagined that the company would become one of the world’s largest brush manufacturers.

The Malish Corp., a third-generation, family-owned company led by President and CEO Jeff Malish, now boasts manufacturing plants in the U.S., China and Europe.

When the Malish family started the business, they used a time-intensive, hand-lacing process to make its products. Today, automated equipment produces over 1,000 tuft holes a minute, leading to the production of high volumes of brushes per hour.

The company has added scores of products and capabilities to better meet the needs of its customers, like its full line of original equipment manufacturing, janitorial food service and specialty brushes. Because the company found itself sourcing numerous plastic extruded products for its own use, it started a custom thermoplastic extrusion division, Malish Plastics, more than 30 years ago. The division’s focus is on pipe and profile extrusions for a variety of customers.

Through the vision of the company’s trusted and experienced leadership team, Malish has weathered numerous downturns and recessions because of its ability to quickly find solutions for problems and keep its operation nimble and efficient.

CELEBRATING 69 YEARS IN BUSINESS – Murtis Taylor Human Services System

Lovell J. Custard
President and CEO
Murtis Taylor Human Services System
Founded: 1948

Murtis Taylor Human Services System is a countywide, United Way charitable organization that provides behavioral health and substance use disorder treatment, as well as youth, family and senior services.

The organization has expanded from two service locations used between 1948 and 2000, to 12 locations utilized since 2000, and customer growth accelerated threefold over the past 15 years.

Murtis Taylor’s success in adapting to changing business environments over the years can be attributed to an institutional focus on quickly expanding into new service areas based upon market need assessments and attracting and retaining highly qualified generalists and technically-trained management talent.

Another priority has been expanding and diversifying the funding base beyond the traditional philanthropic sources, and establishing partnerships and collaborations that serve the needs of its customer base. This has enabled Murtis Taylor to expand its footprint to offer and deliver services that are close and highly accessible to potential customers.

The organization is led by President and CEO Lovell J. Custard. It has been part of numerous, formal collaborations with more than 40 not-for-profit service providers. This has enabled it to more effectively and completely provide services within its areas of expertise in an efficient manner, and leverage its own skills and experiences with those of other organizations.

CELEBRATING 69 YEARS IN BUSINESS – Earnest Machine

Kirk Zehnder
President
Earnest Machine
Founded: 1948

In 1948, when most families did not yet own a TV and the average family income was less than $3,000, opportunities abounded for men willing to take risks.

Paul Zehnder was one of these men. Together with his brothers, Paul started a small machine shop in downtown Cleveland that manufactured license plate holders, tire wrenches and thread gauges. Soon, another prospect presented itself that helped shift the focus of Earnest’s product offerings. Paul Zehnder was able to purchase a large amount of war surplus bolts and from there, Earnest Machine dove into the business of fastener distribution.

On the personnel side, Earnest has always invested in its employees, creating a culture of development, trust and fun. As the company grew to have employees in multiple states, the Zehnder family continued to lead with a strong message of respect for its employees.

Today, the company is run by President Kirk Zehnder, grandson to Paul, and son to John Zehnder, who had been president of Earnest Machine from 1974 to 2007. Under his leadership, Earnest Machine has continued to focus on innovation. The company has launched an e-commerce site, as well as a quoting app for specialty fasteners.

CELEBRATING 68 YEARS IN BUSINESS – Steere Enterprises

Bill Steere
Chairman and CEO
Steere Enterprises
Founded: 1949

In 1949, Frank W. Steere Jr., a chemical engineer, started a business around a vinyl plastisol material he was introduced to in the rubber industry. With less than $1,000 to his name, Frank quit his job and made his first product — vinyl-coated 3/8-inch hex bolts — in the basement of his Akron home. It was so well received that filling the orders required he move out of his basement and into rented space.

Soon after, Frank made dip-molded, vinyl coin purses known as “Quikoins.” Millions were sold and it led to creating vinyl grips and sleeves that the company sold to a variety of industries.

As the decades progressed, Steere Enterprises produced dip-molded seat belt sleeves for the automotive business, which it would later be molded out of polyethylene using a blow molding process. Steere took its blow molding capabilities under the hood of the car and started making air induction applications, and later launched its patented dual-process overmolding technology that enabled the company to join dissimilar materials and parts.

As it entered the 2000s, Steere focused on complex assemblies and built a stand-alone machining business. Today, Steere is a third-generation, family-owned business led by Bill Steere, chairman and CEO.

CELEBRATING 68 YEARS IN BUSINESS – Seaman Corp.

John Crum
President and CEO
Seaman Corp.
Founded: 1949

Since its founding in 1949, the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship has been central to the culture of Seaman Corp.

Founder Norman Seaman went from sewing lace onto baby doll diapers in the basement of his family home to experimenting with polymers and coated fabrics, eventually commercializing products that include truck tarps, roofing solutions, geomembranes and architectural fabrics.

In recent years, the company has undergone organizational restructuring. With John Crum at the helm as president and CEO, the company created an Innovation and New Business Development department that has since analyzed dozens of markets, and vetted and ultimately commercialized more than 20 products in existing and new markets.

The company made investments to better serve and support its customers with software integrations that have improved new product project management and launch, allowing Seaman Corp. to bring new products and solutions to market faster. It has also invested heavily in its IT staff to further harvest, analyze and harness the power of data and systems integration.

Seaman Corp. has diversified its workforce pool by age, geography, background and culture, recruiting from all over the world to support its current and future growth goals by creating a diverse, yet sustainable, organizational structure.

CELEBRATING 67 YEARS IN BUSINESS – Thogus

Matt Hlavin
CEO
Thogus
Founded: 1950

Matt Hlavin, CEO, leads Thogus, a family-owned-and-operated plastic injection molder, as the company looks to transition to its fourth generation of family leadership.

Founded in 1950 by Jack Thompson and Walter Gus, Thogus started as a tool and dye shop. Thompson ran the company until his daughter, Kay Hlavin, became president. In 2008, Kay’s son, Matt, took over just as the Great Recession took hold. When one of Thogus’ large automotive customers declared bankruptcy, the company had to reduce its staff by half to adjust to the drastic reduction in sales.

However, Matt saw an opportunity to take Thogus from a small shoot-and-ship molder to an innovative, cutting-edge manufacturer, which required a complete overhaul of the offerings, focus and capabilities.

Matt adopted a complementary technology that enhanced plastic injection molding; added engineers to the staff to support clients; added a new enterprise resource planning system, automation and robotics; and laid out the plant floor according to Lean manufacturing principles. Matt also created two additional companies to support the diverse offerings: rp+m and JALEX Medical.

Thogus today is looking toward a bright future. More than 20 new programs have been launched this year, new capital equipment has been added and new industries have been entered.

CELEBRATING 65 YEARS IN BUSINESS – MidWest Materials Inc.

Brian Robbins
CEO
MidWest Materials Inc.
Founded: 1952

MidWest Materials Inc. was founded in 1952 in Cleveland as a small sales office. The company experienced rapid growth that led to two moves before finally ending up on 70 acres in Perry in 1974. This move accommodated the need for a larger warehouse and better rail and truck access to serve its customers.

It allowed for the installation of new processing equipment to handle continued growth and adaptation to customers’ desire for additional processed goods. And it led to the addition of an in-house testing laboratory equipped with a full complement of testing equipment.

MidWest also added a full fleet of trucks to service customers and expanded its rail facility to accommodate the continued growth and geographic spread of its customers and producers, and accommodate steel coils, the size of which began to exceed what could be carried by truck.

In 1997, MidWest went through another major expansion, adding new offices, a maintenance building and additional warehouse space to cover 240,000 square feet. With Brian Robbins serving as CEO, MidWest Materials continues to prove its slogan, “Together we are stronger than steel,” emphasizing its prolonged focus on customer service initiatives and a relationship-based business model.

CELEBRATING 64 YEARS IN BUSINESS – Zircoa Inc.

Ronne D. Proch
President and CEO
Zircoa Inc.
Founded: 1953

Zircoa Inc., an industrial ceramic manufacturing company, owes its longevity to its dedication to developing successful materials and products requested by loyal customers, then repurposing those processes to create and deliver new products using similar technologies into new markets.

The company, led by President and CEO Ronne D. Proch, was founded in 1953 by a group of scientists who were able to develop a specific product for a customer with very special needs. Zircoa’s proprietary knowledge and internal capabilities to adapt technological processes differentiates it most from its competition, allowing the company to offer new and existing customers innovative solutions.

Because of Zircoa’s expertise and knowledge in adopting its technological processes, the company is able to find new industries where customers can save money and become more efficient using a Zircoa product. This constant drive to innovate products for different industries has enabled Zircoa to evolve over time and sustain economic downturns.

Over the past seven years, Zircoa has invested in and implemented multiple technologies such as enterprise resource planning systems, planning and scheduling systems and a custom software that ties those systems together. Their implementation has allowed Zircoa to further diversify its product offering and improve efficiencies on the manufacturing side.

CELEBRATING 63 YEARS IN BUSINESS – Mazzella Cos.

Tony Mazzella
CEO
Mazzella Cos.
Founded: 1954

At Mazzella Cos., history has served as a foundation for the company’s identity, its beliefs and its values. In 1954, James Mazzella started his own business, called Mazzella Wire Rope & Sling, and began making wire rope slings that were braided by hand. It wasn’t the cleanest and certainly not the easiest job around, but Mazzella was supplying an essential tool to construction businesses and industries all across Northeast Ohio.

His son, Tony, took over the business in 1988, and as CEO has helped the company increase its employee count exponentially and grow from two locations in Ohio to 28 locations across North America. The management team believes it is important to run a smart business to remain competitive and to be the employer of choice to attract and retain the top talent needed to run a successful organization.

One of the unique programs that has been put in place is MazzU — an internal training program for employees. MazzU helps develop leadership skills and teaches managers how to embrace and promote the company culture. With Tony’s two sons, Matt and Adam, both actively involved in management roles with the company, the future and legacy of Mazzella Cos. looks bright.

CELEBRATING 63 YEARS IN BUSINESS – Hoist Equipment Co. Inc.

Jeff Sadar
President
Hoist Equipment Co. Inc.
Founded: 1954

Since the company was founded in 1954, Hoist Equipment Co. Inc. has specialized in overhead crane systems, monorails, hoists, conveyors and many types of standard and custom material handling equipment. The Bedford Heights-based company’s involvement in this field virtually covers all aspects, including product applications, sales, engineering, fabrication, installation, parts, service and inspections.

Led by President Jeff Sadar, Hoist Equipment believes that its one source, one responsibility concept allows customers to bring together all of the important aspects of their projects with one qualified source.

With 40,000 square feet of manufacturing space and a team staffed with experienced technical personnel, full engineering capabilities and a professional installation crew, Hoist is equipped to identify what needs to be done and then make it happen.

Whether the requirement is a completely new crane system, modernization or service work, every effort is made to recommend the best, most cost-effective solution. By combining quality and value in a timely manner, while also being attentive to the unique needs of the customer, the successful conclusion of each project is assured.

CELEBRATING 61 YEARS IN BUSINESS – Jamestown Container Cos.

Joseph M. Palmeri
Regional Vice President
Jamestown Container Cos.
Founded: 1956

Jamestown Container Cos. was founded upon the principles of innovation and superior customer service. Started in 1956, it has evolved from a simple brown box plant to a multi-plant custom corrugated packaging provider.

The company has grown its employee count exponentially, with some of its staff working with the JCC family for over 50 years. Jamestown’s plants work continuously to serve customers throughout Western, Central and upstate New York, Cleveland and Northeast Ohio, Western Pennsylvania and Ontario.

The selection of products and services available at Jamestown Container has continually grown to keep up with customer needs. Led by Regional Vice President Joseph M. Palmeri, Jamestown Container is always looking for ways to improve its operations, quality and service to ensure customers receive the highest quality solutions for their business.

Over the years, Jamestown has instituted a number of cutting-edge programs and initiatives to provide exceptional quality and operational excellence. This includes establishing a network of in-house design labs and ink kitchens in every facility to provide customers with exceptional custom blends and designs that will make their packaging stand out. The company has also implemented Lean manufacturing principles that empower employees, eliminate waste and make it more competitive in the global market.

CELEBRATING 61 YEARS IN BUSINESS – Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Cleveland

Yolanda Y. Armstrong, MSSA, L.S.W.
President and CEO
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Cleveland
Founded: 1956

For more than 60 years, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Cleveland has provided quality youth mentoring services to thousands of at-risk youth. According to the National Governors Association, young people at risk of alcohol and drug abuse, teen pregnancy, school failure and criminal activity, as well as those without a strong adult influence in their lives, benefit from relationships with caring and dedicated mentors.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Cleveland serves Cuyahoga County children who are between the ages of six and 18, most of whom live in low-income, single-parent homes with few support systems.

Most children are referred to the program by their parent or guardian, schoolteachers or counselors. They may be facing potential school failure or delinquency, or simply be in need of adult guidance and supervision.

Led by President and CEO Yolanda Y. Armstrong, MSSA, L.S.W., Big Brothers Big Sisters is the largest mentoring agency in Cuyahoga County. It has changed and sustained throughout its existence by responding to the needs of the community and the social climate of the region. The organization has a model and method to make relationships fun, strong, meaningful and life-altering.

CELEBRATING 59 YEARS IN BUSINESS – Sedlak Management Consultants Inc.

William J. O’Brien
President
Sedlak Management Consultants Inc.
Founded: 1958

Sedlak Management Consultants Inc. was founded by Shaker Heights native Joseph A. Sedlak. While working at an aircraft engine parts manufacturer, he developed an interest in the processes and workflows to and from the manufacturing machines. This planted a seed that led to a career designing material handling systems and the formation of his own business in 1958.

Having witnessed many consulting firms over the years acquiring products and systems to offer immediate solutions to clients, and many equipment and systems providers now offering consulting services, Sedlak chose to remain a fully independent consultancy.

This allowed Sedlak to differentiate itself in a murky marketplace and enabled the company to thoroughly understand its clients’ needs and develop best-fit solutions to support their business goals and direction.
In 2013, the family company brought in an outsider, William J. O’Brien, to be president. At the same time, the firm broadened its service verticals to include a stronger focus on supply chain strategy and health care.

Joseph Sedlak passed away in 2013 at the age of 90, but his passion and legacy live on. The firm maintains numerous longstanding client relationships, some spanning decades, because of its reputation for distribution and logistics expertise and quality associates.

CELEBRATING 58 YEARS IN BUSINESS – OGS Industries

John Bader
President
Tom Bader
Vice President
OGS Industries
Founded: 1959

Ohio Gasket was founded in 1959 by John A. Bader and his sons John and Thomas Bader joined the company in 1976 and 1981, respectively. John serves as president while Tom is vice president. Through steady growth, prudent decision making and moral and ethical business practices, the company has evolved into a national leader in metal stamping and fabrication.

The business began as a small shop committed to supplying local industries with superior shims and gaskets. Ohio Gasket has a variety of stamping presses, in addition to a complete fabrication department with lasers, brake presses, spot welders and CNC punching machines. Through growth and acquisition, the OGS Industries umbrella covers not only Ohio Gasket, but Progressive Stamping & Fabrication, a sister company with heavier tonnage presses, an in-house tool room and robotic welders.

OGS is a national leader in high-precision metal stampings, gaskets, shims, metal fabrication, brackets, machined parts and military and export packaging. The company works with customers to consolidate their vendor bases in an effort to save both time and money. Plans are in the works to build an addition at Lehner Screw Machine Co., which OGS bought in 2014, as well as make an entry into the waterjet field and purchase a new fiber laser.

CELEBRATING 58 YEARS IN BUSINESS – McCarthy, Lebit, Crystal & Liffman Co. LPA

Kenneth B. Liffman
Managing Principal
McCarthy, Lebit, Crystal & Liffman Co. LPA
Founded: 1959

In 1959, two certified public accountants with law degrees, Daniel R. McCarthy and Edward M. Greenwald, left their positions as internal revenue agents and along with Gilbert S. Savransky, a general practice attorney, formed the boutique tax and business law firm of McCarthy, Savransky and Greenwald.

The firm’s initial focus was to serve clients with legal matters involving tax consulting, tax compliance, estate planning and various aspects of business law.

Through the years, the name changed to McCarthy, Lebit, Crystal & Liffman Co., LPA as Edward A. Lebit, a former CPA and internal revenue agent, then Larry Crystal, a former CPA and tax supervisor of a major certified public accounting firm, joined the firm. They were followed by Kenneth B. Liffman, who for many years has been the firm’s managing principal.

The name, however, was not the only thing that changed. While upholding the philosophy of the firm’s founder, which is to surround yourself with smart people who are willing to work hard for reasonable fees, the firm grew and evolved into a full-service law firm priding itself on its ability to remain accessible in managing complex legal matters and cases across a variety of practices.

The firm offers personalized and responsive legal services for individuals, small and medium-sized businesses and larger corporations.

CELEBRATING 58 YEARS IN BUSINESS – Bober Markey Fedorovich

Rick Fedorovich
CEO and Managing Partner
Bober Markey Fedorovich
Founded: 1959

Business longevity means you’re doing something right. For nearly 60 years, Bober Markey Fedorovich has relied on its core expertise and commitment to client service to grow and thrive in a region currently brimming with CPA and consulting firms.

Rather than adding numerous products and services, the firm has evolved by focusing on its audit, attestation, tax, transaction, valuation and consulting services. BMF is not trying to be all things to all people, but rather be excellent at what it does best.

As clients continue to grow, more complex issues arise in their needs. Under the leadership of Rick Fedorovich, the firm’s CEO and managing partner, BMF has adapted in supporting these changing needs by making investments in its own infrastructure — including in technology and professional resources — to be on the leading edge in understanding and consulting on ever-changing regulations and standards.

To that end, the firm also participates in a worldwide network of professional independent CPA firms, and makes significant investments in professional training and development, and technology and leadership opportunities. These investments reinforce BMF’s ability to provide responsive and proactive best practices for client needs.

Starting off as a three-person CPA firm serving businesses and individuals in Akron, BMF has grown to a multi-office operation, serving clients with worldwide operations.

CELEBRATING 57 YEARS IN BUSINESS – Kent Elastomer Products Inc.

Bob Oborn
President
Kent Elastomer Products Inc.
Founded: 1960

Kent Latex Products was founded in 1960 to manufacture natural rubber latex made in a continuous dipping process for the medical, dental, food and distribution markets. The company grew out of its original location and moved to its current corporate headquarters in Kent in 1970.

During the early 1980s, Kent added dip molding to its product line and expanded into products such as gloves, drains and catheters. With the onslaught of the AIDS crisis, natural latex products were targeted by claims of latex sensitivity due to the explosion of personal protective equipment (latex gloves). Kent Latex became proactive and bought its first thermoplastic extrusion line with the intent to offer TPE products if the latex sensitivity issues continued.

Most of the medical industry began moving away from latex products in the 1990s and Kent was able to not only retain existing business, but grow with its TPE offerings. The business grew so rapidly that TPE became a substantial part of the business, leading the company to change its name to Kent Elastomer Products Inc. in 1998.

It has grown into a three-facility company that can rapidly adapt to change. Today, led by President Bob Oborn, Kent Elastomer Products is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of precision-engineered, natural rubber latex and thermoplastic tubing.

CELEBRATING 57 YEARS IN BUSINESS – Executive Caterers

Harlan Diamond
Founder and President
Executive Caterers
Founded: 1960

Executive Caterers is known for continuously reinventing itself. As the premiere caterer and event center in Northeast Ohio, the company’s philosophy under the leadership of Founder and President Harlan Diamond has always been to evolve and change to meet the needs of its customers.

The company’s innovative chef has brought new creativity to both the cuisine and the way in which it is presented. Executive Caterers can custom-design any menu to satisfy new generations of customers. The company takes an innovative approach to all of its work, including special ethnic events, and is proud to offer exceptional kosher catering.

The décor at the Landerhaven location makes every event unique and ensures that guests who come to an event at Landerhaven every month never see the same thing twice. Executive Caterers also manages the English Oak Room in downtown Cleveland and Cleveland Public Auditorium & Conference Center.

The company’s in-house audio/visual department is state-of-the-art, and is upgraded regularly to keep up with the times. It prides itself on its mix of young, professional employees and seasoned, knowledgeable veterans in every department. The goal is to make every event at Landerhaven, or anywhere, a special event. That’s the one thing that hasn’t changed in 50 years.

CELEBRATING 55 YEARS IN BUSINESS – Home Appliance Sales & Service

Beth Grayson
President
Home Appliance Sales & Service
Founded: 1962

Home Appliance Sales & Service was established in 1962 by a Cleveland firefighter looking for a career during his days off. He started the business in his garage as an appliance repair company. In the early 1970s, his three sons entered the business and opened a store on Pearl Road in Brunswick. In addition to appliance repair, they also sold Speed Queen laundry equipment, used appliances and parts to retail customers.

In 1982, Brian Grayson went to work for Home Appliance as a technician apprentice. Six years later, after learning the trade, he purchased the name and phone number and moved the business to his home in Medina.

The business evolved from a service-only business to one selling reconditioned appliances. When the appliance parts business that occupied the original Brunswick location went out of business in 2001, Brian was joined by Beth Grayson and a second location was opened.

In 2005, Brian and Beth knew they needed to expand further. Land was purchased on Pearl Road and a new 10,000-square-foot store was built that opened in October 2006. Under the leadership of Beth Grayson, who serves as the company’s president, Home Appliance Sales & Service is looking to expand into a third location on the west side of Cleveland in the next few years.

CELEBRATING 52 YEARS IN BUSINESS – SDMyers

Dale Bissonette
President
SDMyers
Founded: 1965

SDMyers, an electrical transformer management company based in Tallmadge, is a pioneer in the transformer reliability field.

In little over half a century, the company has become a major player, both nationally and globally, in terms of laboratory diagnostics, innovative monitoring and remediation equipment manufacturing, training and education, and specialist consulting. It has the largest transformer oil-testing lab in the world, and its software and hardware products, coupled with its expertise, afford intelligent transformer management to clients across the globe.

Founded in 1965, SDMyers began with a discovery — its founder, Stan Myers, worked for a motor rewind shop that brought him in close contact with faulty transformers. Seeing how dielectric oil in the transformers correlated with its overall health, he invented the “Re-refiner,” the first piece of equipment that removed moisture, gas, acids and sludge from the oil while the transformer remained energized. The onsite solution minimized the costs associated with taking a transformer out of commission, and his newly founded company, SDMyers, became very busy.

Today, led by President Dale Bissonette, the community-aligned company has a focus on being an advocate for its customers while building a “Good Place” — a common attitude governed by Biblical principles and values.

Software add-ons give cloud-based phone systems added benefits

Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) systems can simplify a company’s communications in a number of ways. Upgrading phones from a traditional system to VoIP can streamline call routing and increase efficiency, but it can also benefit customer service.

“When you’re looking at the customer service experience and using your phone system to help you with that, you have to be able to pick and choose those applications that truly are helpful for you,” says Alex Desberg, sales and marketing director at Ohio.net. “Don’t assume the full features of a really sophisticated phone system are what you need. Pick those applications that make a difference in your business and ignore those that don’t matter.”

Smart Business spoke with Desberg about types of VoIP features that are beneficial in terms of customer service.

What software add-ons are available for a VoIP system?

Call recording for call centers is a great attribute of a phone system. It allows you to go back and review calls with your staff or your customers from a quality assurance standpoint. The reviewer can then use the recordings to train other employees or verify what a customer wants or where a problem occurred. There is a manager portal where managers can access calls by operator, time of day, numbers dialed, and other filters to research and analyze. It’s a very strong tool that you can use on selected phones or a selected location.

Call monitoring is another add-on that can be put in place to allow managers to listen in on calls. For quality assurance, managers can evaluate operators in real time. If there is a problem, a manager can actually speak to the operator on the call without the caller hearing and notify the operator to collect an outstanding balance, answer a question in a particular way, whatever the case may be.

Furthermore, they can break in and say, ‘This is the manager, I’d like to discuss this with you,’ and take over the call. It’s a great way to help operators or customer service personnel with their calls.

Features such as these typically require a sophisticated phone system that is designed specifically for call centers. But with VoIP, existing users can implement a software add-on. It can also be trialed or removed if it isn’t right for the company or circumstance.

How can smartphones tie-in with VoIP?

Increasingly, employees are telecommuting or on the road. They are mobile, but need to be a part of a customer service experience. Traditionally, an out-of-office employee can be conferenced-in on a call. Now these employees can be connected via software that allows remote workers’ smartphones to become an extension on the VoIP system. So a four-digit extension system can be used to contact and include someone working in the field.

Are there systems available to analyze calls placed and recorded?

Call detail records are an after-the-fact review of who is calling the company and what numbers they are calling from. These can also be used to evaluate the performance of the sales team or customer service department, the time of day most calls take place, the length of the average call or a number of other metrics. These metrics can be used to review the communications a company has with its customers, and can even be automatically compiled and viewed online as a report.

What does the setup and implementation look like?

Because the cloud-based system is hosted, the vendor should manage it for the customer and set it up. To do so, the vendor interviews the company to determine the features a company needs, installs and applies them. Then during the training sessions, employees are taught how to use the software add-ons.

Alex Desberg is the sales and marketing director at Ohio.net. Reach him at [email protected].

Insights Telecommunications is brought to you by Ohio.net

How VoIP systems save space, offer low-maintenance solutions

When switching to Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone systems, a business will need to incorporate new equipment and technology. Though it may seem daunting, the transition and subsequent result leads to more manageable communications, a shallow learning curve and support during the process.

“One of the biggest differences between using a traditional phone system and going to a VoIP platform is the huge reduction in equipment that is needed, and you’d be getting better features and advantages out of it,” says Alex Desberg, sales and marketing director at Ohio.net. “When you’re moving from a traditional world to a VoIP world, there is a reduction in the equipment management and the space required to have the brains of a Private Branch Exchange unit living in your office.”

Smart Business spoke with Desberg to find out what a company can expect when switching to VoIP in regards to space concerns, hardware, and learning and maintaining the new technology.

What are the equipment requirements when incorporating VoIP?

It actually reduces the need for premise based equipment and the resources to keep that equipment up and running. Integrating VoIP systems removes an old phone system, and takes old phones off desks and replaces them with a phone designed for VoIP. It normally uses your existing Internet connection unless that needs to be upgraded to handle the additional bandwidth from the voice communications.

How are employees trained on the new systems?

When the new technology is being presented, part of the process of moving to VoIP is what your business environment can assimilate. There’s a large amount of education upfront in terms of system capability. For instance, end user education is conducted where, when it’s time to put a phone on somebody’s desk, the vendor trains the employee on how to use the phone — there is somebody whose sole responsibility is to go out and train a customer. The employees learn how the phone on their desk works and how that works in conjunction with how calls are coming in.

Is the installation done by the vendor or by the company?

It can be either. If it’s done by the vendor, it’s done as part of that training so when the vendor is out doing the installation, training also is being conducted.

How much maintenance is required?

Software updates, upgrades to the system and maintenance done on the system are all part of the service. The only thing that needs to be maintained in terms of hardware or software is the phone on the desk. If a company owns its own hardware, the equipment will be supported until it stops working and then the customer may need to replace it. Software upgrades are automatic, typically involving a phone reboot in the middle of the night during non-office hours.

What happens in the case of power outages?

One of the functions of VoIP is that it actually has some built-in disaster recovery. So even if a phone loses power, breaks or Internet connection at the office is lost, the system itself is aware of that outage and reroutes calls. For example, if a company’s phones go down from a power outage, the system can automatically send calls to alternate lines such as cell phones.  

How much bandwidth does a company need for VoIP?

It boils down to how much bandwidth a company has prior to installing VoIP. If a company is already pushing its usage to the peak and there are issues with its Internet service, adding a VoIP Internet-based phone system will not help the scenario. The solution is to either upgrade bandwidth or separate voice and data into two connections. But the company can grow the system as needed.

Alex Desberg is sales and marketing director at Ohio.net. Reach him at [email protected].

Insights Telecommunications is brought to you by Ohio.net

How to take your VoIP conversion at your own pace

Overhauling an office phone system is often a necessary part of growing, improving and updating an organization’s technology. Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is a common upgrade that offers a variety of options to fit a business’ needs, whether it has a small, medium or large employee base.

Each VoIP system can be custom built to fit the specific requirements of a company, says Alex Desberg, sales and marketing director of Ohio.net. A specific VoIP product is chosen based on the company’s specific needs, and its implementation is ramped up in a way that’s manageable.

“When you’re talking about your phone system, it can be pretty painful when you don’t know what to expect,” Desberg says. This is why companies have the option of switching everything over at once, or taking a step-by-step approach when switching to VoIP.

Smart Business spoke with Desberg to examine the ways companies can integrate VoIP.

When converting to VoIP, is there one best way to transition or are there options?

Each VoIP-based phone system is meant to work uniquely. Some companies don’t know what’s available out there, and really aren’t ready to jump in with both feet to a brand new phone system and service provider. If a company knows that over the next few years they’re going to grow, they’re going to change, or they’re going to move, then there are specific opportunities that arise.

When does it make sense to use a step-by-step approach?

Unlike traditional telephone service, a step-by-step approach can be used as opposed to transitioning everything when improving communications using VoIP. In many situations, dial tone from traditional telephone providers can be duplicated and moved to the VoIP realm. It’s then offered back in a cost-effective way.

If a company is planning to move to a new facility it is a great opportunity to start down the path of new technology. The organization can take the phone numbers that it currently has and move them to VoIP services. Then in the new location, deploy what looks like traditional phones. When the company is ready, it can retire its old phone system and slowly step completely into VoIP. It eases the process for the company and its employees.

Remote workers or remote offices that are using separate phone systems raise more opportunity to investigate VoIP options. Those multiple environments can be brought together so that they look and operate like a single phone service. It can be a mix-and-match environment, offices and workers can be spread out across the country, deploy individual phones and systems for them while the main office is still working off of the traditional phone configuration.

In what circumstances is it better to switch all at once?

When a company is growing, often its phone system is something that’s an afterthought. Either the current phone system can’t handle more employees, the voicemail is always full or the technology is in need of updating. A good option at that point is to move to a platform that doesn’t have those limitations. Hosted VoIP, where all services and all phones are provided, has basically unlimited growth potential. So there is a great opportunity for a company to avoid continuously reinvesting in old technology.

How can a company determine what’s best for its situation?

The best and most important part of the process is planning. It’s based on what a company needs going forward. Not only is the company preparing for new hardware, but also new expectations on the IT staff and the network itself. It’s important to make sure that the VoIP provider offers training as part of its service. And financially, a company has to make sure that it is a good way to go and a good investment.

Alex Desberg is sales and marketing director at Ohio.net. Reach him at [email protected].

Insights Telecommunications is brought to you by Ohio.net

How VoIP can be designed to fit the unique needs of different industries

Regardless of its size or sector a company works within, all businesses have certain common threads. For instance, the need to communicate effectively and efficiently — both internally and externally — is something every business deals with. However, it’s also important to note that every business has a unique communication DNA. A phone system that works for one company might not make sense for another.

“Every business is different,” says Alex Desberg, sales and marketing director at Ohio.net. “They shouldn’t be shoehorned into an off-the-shelf phone solution.”

Smart Business spoke with Desberg about the importance of customization, and how VoIP can be tailored to serve various industries.

How can VoIP be designed to fit different markets that have different needs?

Different industry segments have characteristics that are only seen within that space. By deploying a customized VoIP system, a company can gain advantages from certain functions that are designed to fit that industry’s specific needs. It’s important to avoid trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.

How can VoIP be tailored to serve the manufacturing sector?

Manufacturing facilities typically have two different components. First is the headquarters, which serves as the hub of communications and houses accounting, sales and administrative personnel. The sales team, which generally uses headquarters as their home-base, need a phone system that can help them keep in touch with their main facility while they’re out pounding the pavement. Then there are remote manufacturing and warehouse facilities that are often spread throughout the country or world. Not only is there a need for fluid communication at the administrative level, but the remote facilities must also be able to correspond effortlessly with headquarters. A VoIP system can be tailored to meet the disparate needs of a manufacturing facility, enabling that facility to become more accessible, and ultimately, more efficient.

How can VoIP support the needs of CPAs and financial institutions?

Typically, in these types of businesses, the staff are housed in a single location. If there are multiple locations, the phone needs are often identical. Employees are usually on the phone a good part of the day and there is a need for continual customer contact. The basic administrative functions are the most important components for such businesses. Because the workforce is stationary, there is rarely a need for remote or mobile applications.

How can VoIP streamline calls for the medical sector?

Most small to midsize doctor’s offices are structured so that during the day inbound calls go through a receptionist. During the evening, medical practitioners utilize absentee services where callers are redirected through phone numbers that lead to on-call personnel or forwarded to hospitals in the case of emergencies. A VoIP system can redirect, or triage, phone calls as needed.

How can VoIP allow a virtual company to appear as if they are well grounded?

More and more companies are shedding their brick and mortar locations in favor of having their employees work remotely. By having a front-end VoIP configuration, organizations can present a unified communications system that will give the appearance of a solid business. Functions like call forwarding, voice mail and conference calling are available so employees can stay connected without being tied to an office. Also, VoIP can eliminate the need for companies to utilize traditional phone lines and equipment, so overall cost savings and service enhancements can be significant.

Alex Desberg is sales and marketing director at Ohio.net. Reach him at [email protected].

Insights Telecommunications is brought to you by Ohio.net

Ohio.net: How software development is improving the VoIP experience

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) offerings have come a long way in a short time. One of the primary advances has been the evolution from fully hosted VoIP systems to VoIP solutions that can be managed internally.

Such a setup is ideal for IT managers or telecom managers in organizations that are moving to VoIP platforms, says Alex Desberg, sales and marketing director at Ohio.net.

“The VoIP provider provides the environment — so it is secure, stable and packed with feature-rich options — while the day-to-day details can be managed by a client’s telecom professional,” he says.

Smart Business spoke with Desberg about software developments, integration and how to properly evaluate VoIP systems.

What’s in telecommunications that is improving the business phone service model?

The VoIP software industry is creating a feature-enhanced experience not only for the end user, or the people using the phones, but also the people who manage the phone systems. By utilizing cloud-based platforms that are virtually housed, businesses can manage their own systems internally. The phones are deployed wherever they are needed, regardless of geography.

The end-user experience is enhanced because the same phone service is accessible even if there are multiple locations. For example, a company might have five locations spread across the country, each with a different phone system. From a corporate standpoint, training employees on phone systems becomes difficult, and managing the system so customers have a uniform experience is even more challenging. With VoIP, all the phones are on the same platform, look the same, work the same and the end user’s experience is identical.

From a traditional phone system perspective, whenever you want new features, you have to buy new hardware and pay someone to upgrade the system for you. However, with a cloud-based system, it’s as simple as having your VoIP provider make a configuration change. For example, you can tell the provider to add call recording to your system remotely and then select which users on the system need it.

What are the benefits of working with a VoIP provider that can offer multiple platforms?

Traditionally, when you buy a phone system, you’re buying from a provider that represents a specific brand or type of offering. So, in most cases, you need to bring in three or four different service providers in order to evaluate different versions. However, a versatile VoIP provider should have the ability to offer multiple service packages with completely different software, hardware and deployment options. This is ideal for companies that are growing and want to evaluate different options from a single source.

What are some of the new trends in VoIP?

VoIP providers are now implementing software for phone systems designed to seamlessly integrate with CRM and other customer management software. Typically screen-pop technology and data queries can be launched from a VoIP phone system.

Finally, smartphone and app integration are becoming increasingly popular. For example, employees can have apps on their smartphones, which allows them to toggle back and forth between their cell phone and office phone. Basically, the smartphone serves as an extension of the office system.

What is the best way to determine an appropriate VoIP solution?

It’s important to perform a thorough evaluation of what’s out there. VoIP is portable, so have a provider come to your office and give a demonstration. It’s important to see it function in your environment and test various features to ensure the system is a good fit. Any VoIP provider that is offering a modern platform should be able to bring its system directly to you for an evaluation from the comfort of your own office with no charges incurred.

Alex Desberg is sales and marketing director at Ohio.net. Reach him at [email protected].

Insights Telecommunications is brought to you by Ohio.net

Ohio.net: How VoIP is enabling companies to conduct business on the go

Cloud computing for business has become commonplace. The reason? Companies want technological conveniences and marketplace advantages. However, phone services are often left behind because of traditional phone service capabilities.

This is starting to change. Now, instead of being subject to the capabilities of a phone system, businesses are dictating how they want to communicate with their customers.

In the future, Alex Desberg, sales and marketing director at Ohio.net, says he envisions a mass migration away from stationary services tied to brick and mortar to Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) capabilities that incorporate the desk phone, the cell phone and Web-based services.

“VoIP can play a huge role by incorporating offices with telecommuters and a mobile workforce,” he says.

Smart Business spoke with Desberg about the evolution of VoIP, who is driving the changes and what he expects in the future.

How is the VoIP world evolving to serve its customers?

It’s amazing how quickly the VoIP industry has evolved in a relatively short time. In contrast, traditional phone services are nearly exact replicas of what they were decades ago. While traditional telecom offers different services and features on various phone systems, the fundamental telephone service hasn’t changed.

In the VoIP world, the primary change we’ve seen has been moving from basic emulation and hosted services to highly expandable VoIP solutions that incorporate many new features. Businesses have developed a high comfort level with VoIP, so there has been a shift to businesses wanting to manage their own VoIP solutions; they just don’t want the responsibility of hosting the phone system. This do-it-yourself approach has gained traction as a tactic to save money by limiting outsourcing. Since VoIP systems are cloud based, a company’s communications infrastructure, which is hosted remotely, is still safe and secure.

Are there any other areas of evolutionary change?

Another example of evolutionary change is that VoIP providers are now incorporating functionality into cloud platforms that were traditionally only available on a network.

For instance, call recording on a hosted system used to work by having a server with devices that were able to record phone calls. With the second generation of cloud-based private branch exchange, this can be brought into the cloud environment and is immediately available for anyone on the phone network in real time.

Who is driving the changes?

Most VoIP systems are driven by the software and platform that they were built with. That has been the limiting factor of early versions of VoIP. Now, customers are dictating how they want the system to work and how quickly the evolution curve is. In essence, the customer’s input is impacting the direction of VoIP.

How is VoIP able to respond to changes in the telecom market so quickly?

The VoIP life cycle moves at an accelerated pace when compared to traditional telephony. Perhaps the best way to measure VoIP time is to compare it to Internet time, which moves at a much quicker rate than anything we’ve seen historically.

Over the next several years, as software changes and new technologies develop, consumers are going to witness further evolutions in the VoIP field.

How do you envision the future of VoIP?

We are going to continue to see the shift to a cloud-based model. With hosted VoIP, there are still phone devices on the office desk. However, businesses want their phone services to integrate with their mobile devices. A common request from customers is to have their business phone number integrate to their cell phone so they can respond to the needs of their customers more timely.

Businesses are looking for different characteristics associated with their phone system that will help set themselves apart from their competitors.

Alex Desberg is sales and marketing director at Ohio.net. Reach him at [email protected].

Insights Telecommunications is brought to you by Ohio.net

Ohio.net: How to implement cutting-edge VoIP technologies with a dash of caution

Pushing the envelope by implementing new Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services makes sense for forward-thinking companies. After all, streamlining data and communications allows you to become more efficient. And increased productivity translates to the bottom line.

However, it’s important not to jump on board with an inexperienced VoIP provider that hasn’t properly tested its technologies.

“Most people prefer something that is tried and true, regardless if it’s new or not,” says Alex Desberg, sales and marketing director at Ohio.net.

Smart Business spoke with Desberg about fully hosted and cloud-based telephone systems and what to look for in a VoIP provider.

What are some of the characteristics that make hosted and cloud-based telephone systems more attractive than traditional phone services?

Typically, with traditional premise-based private branch exchange (PBX), you buy a hardware solution and pay for the features that you want upfront. Until you need to renew the licensing or upgrade your system, you are pretty much set. However, adding services can be an arduous task because if you want to add lines or provide call queuing someone has to come out to manage the hardware and update the software at your location.

Hosted VoIP and virtual PBX are cloud-based, so when changes are needed it’s as simple as contacting your VoIP provider to remotely toggle a specific feature or service on or off.

How can companies feel secure about using cutting-edge technologies for their telecommunication needs?

New offerings are constantly coming out in the VoIP world, but the most important thing is that they are properly tested and correctly launched. You don’t want to take a gamble on a new VoIP technology that may or may not work for your business — you want to be sure that it will work.

Make sure you are working with a provider that has a history of telecommunications experience and focuses on staying ahead of the technology curve. It’s important to work with an experienced VoIP provider that can help you navigate through the new technology waters and figure out what will be best for your business.

What resources should a mid-market company evaluate when choosing telecommunication services?

The first resource that should be evaluated is technical talent: What kind of talent do you have available internally to assimilate VoIP technologies into your business model? Some companies prefer to handle their own problem-solving, and if they have capable IT personnel, this is a valid option. If you don’t have the technical expertise available internally, then you can use a VoIP provider that handles everything from setup to recommended upgrades.

Another resource to consider is capital investment versus a service model. If you want to buy a phone system with capabilities for popular services such as call recording, queuing, integration into customer relationship management software and fail-over services, there is going to be a significant upfront investment. However, if you want these services, but don’t want to pay for it all upfront, you can have a VoIP provider incorporate these services on a monthly basis.

How can a business save money by handling VoIP services internally?

If you have talent on-hand with time to spend on implementing VoIP services, then you can realize significant cost savings. Some VoIP providers make the learning curve very easy. For example, you can buy space on a virtually hosted cloud platform and have your personnel learn how to operate the system in a safe and secure environment, rather than trying to figure it out in a brick and mortar location.

Alex Desberg is sales and marketing director at Ohio.net. Reach him at [email protected].

Insights Telecommunications is brought to you by Ohio.net

Ohio.net: Why businesses are flocking to VoIP telecommunications

The use of cloud computing is surging in the business world. Against such a backdrop it only makes sense that companies would want to emulate this model with their phone services — that is, make themselves available no matter their location. While traditional phone services have been slow to respond to the requests, VoIP providers are jumping at the opportunity.

“Telecommunications is a 100-year-old technology,” says Alex Desberg, sales and marketing director at Ohio.net. “Things have changed, and now it’s more important than ever for customers to get through to businesses quickly and effectively.”

Smart Business spoke with Desberg about how innovation is reshaping the telecommunications landscape and why it’s so important to always be available to customers.

How is innovation changing the telecommunications landscape?

Businesses are looking for different characteristics associated with their phone system that will help set themselves apart from their competitors. This goes beyond just having a business phone system designed to answer calls or put people in voice mail. In terms of innovation, these can be simple changes or complex changes — it depends on what the business is looking for.

How are companies integrating their telecommunication features into their business model?

Cloud computing is becoming very popular. People are pushing their data away from their facility so it is available anywhere. However, they haven’t done this with their phone system because of traditional phone service capabilities. This is starting to change. Now, instead of being subject to the capabilities of a phone system, businesses are dictating how they want to communicate with their customers.

Why is it so important to be readily accessible to customers?

Customers have short attention spans, and they want to be served quickly. They don’t have the time to leave a voice mail message and wait for someone to respond a half-day later or the next business day.

Much like the traditional way of finding a business in the Yellow Pages, if the first company didn’t answer, you’d simply call another one. A lot of consumers are doing that now because time is money. If they can’t immediately reach the person that they want to talk to, they will move on. You don’t want that to happen to your business.

How is VoIP helping incubated businesses that are not as moveable as they might think?

Business incubators are starting to crop up all over the place. Such entities support the development of entrepreneurial companies through an array of business support resources and services. When the companies grow and need to move out of the incubator, they realize that they can’t easily take the phone number that they’ve been using to conduct their business transactions.

Now VoIP providers are working with incubators to provide VoIP services that can be moved quickly and easily with a business when it’s ready to graduate from an incubator and expand its footprint.

Why is reducing system duplication becoming such a big trend?

Reducing system duplication is particularly popular with businesses that have multiple locations. When such businesses start pushing data out to the cloud and they are remotely accessing the information, they realize that every facility they own doesn’t need a server or duplication of other resources like phone systems.

It makes sense for these businesses to have centralized communications. Everyone accessing the phone system can share centralized voice mail and four-digit dialing between locations. Not only does this make sense economically, but also from a unity standpoint in terms of a single telecommunications presence.

Alex Desberg is sales and marketing director at Ohio.net. Reach him at [email protected].

Insights Telecommunications is brought to you by Ohio.net

How the DIY model applies to VoIP

More and more business professionals are exploring the do-it-yourself (DIY) model when it comes to their telephone communications. In many cases, however, a hosted model — where a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) provider manages your system at a data center location — might make the most sense.

Having a hosted solution may free your business from bearing the responsibility of installing, maintaining and repairing telephony software. In the long run, this could add up to large savings.

When searching for a VoIP provider, Alex Desberg, sales and marketing director at Ohio.net, says you must make sure you are able to find the proper fit.
“It’s important to find a company that works the way that you want to work,” he says. “If service and support is important to you, find a VoIP provider that will support your needs and expectations.”

Smart Business spoke with Desberg about VoIP, the flexibility of a supported, DIY model and the benefits of a hosted model.

How can a good VoIP provider help with the transition to a cloud-based telephone system?

There has been a shift in the VoIP industry toward implementing open-source voice applications. The supported, DIY VoIP approach has gained traction because it can save money by limiting the amount of outsourcing while working with an experienced provider. For example, IT consultants and VoIP companies frequently install solutions such as Asterisk, an open-source telephony software system, and then the company manages the applications internally. However, this DIY approach can present challenges when it’s not well supported by your dial tone provider.

In order to fully realize the benefits of new technologies, it’s best to combine the new software environment with a VoIP provider that is well versed in hosting, hardware and integration to the traditional world of telephony. If the telephone is your primary way to communicate with your customers, it is too important of a matter to leave to chance.

How much control can a company have over the VoIP system?

There are three options. The first is a hosted model where the VoIP provider handles all of the changes, including managing the software. This is a service-based model, so if the business needs support, it can contact the VoIP provider that helps provide solutions to any problems that may be encountered.

With new cloud-based systems, some companies prefer to support their own changes. The supported DIY or Virtual PBX solution provides a stable environment to host the software-based phone system. This would be ideal for a business with capable IT personnel, where executives want to keep control of their technology reins but still have a fall back for technical support.

The final option is to have the end-user handle everything, from setup to tech support in a secure environment with dial tone and trunking available. Essentially, the business may bring its existing software-based phone system into a data center that is focused on VoIP services.

What is the advantage of divvying up responsibility when it comes to phone systems?

In the traditional telephone world, every time a phone system breaks down or there is a need for an upgrade, a call is made to an outside consultant who specializes in that specific phone system.

It stands to reason that the same might ring true in the cloud-based world if you dive in unprepared. Working with an experienced VoIP provider will help future proof your telecommunications by distributing responsibility and having a good support structure. In fact, a solid VoIP provider will have built-in redundancy to protect against downtime.

With a traditional or even VoIP premise-based model, if a system goes down, you’re down until it gets fixed. With a virtual — or host-based model — the system simply doesn’t go down because there is redundancy already in place.

Alex Desberg is sales and marketing director at Ohio.net. Reach him at [email protected].

Insights Telecommunications is brought to you by Ohio.net