How Foundation Software grew in size but didn’t lose touch with its clients


Fred Ode, Chairman and CEO, Foundation Software

Fred Ode, Chairman and CEO, Foundation Software

Fred Ode launched Foundation Software in 1985 with the purpose of building a company that would be a dominant force in the construction accounting software industry — and that offered customer-friendly solutions. Each client was his own responsibility and Ode, chairman and CEO, went the extra mile to supply the client with exceptional service and attention.

The company grew, and that meant adding more employees. Ode made it his priority to bring people into Foundation Software who shared his goals and desires to provide world-class customer care.

Today, the company has nearly 4,000 clients across all the United States and goes out of its way to monitor and deliver the best customer support possible. Foundation Software makes each client feel like its No. 1 priority.

Many sales result from referrals from current clients or CPAs familiar with Foundation Software. A satisfied client is happy to tell any contractor using Foundation for Windows about the company’s service and support. Clients not only get a sophisticated yet easy-to-use accounting program but a team of experts with considerable industry and accounting knowledge.

With the system formula of sales, welcome, implementation/training and ongoing support and education, Foundation has refined its processes over the years to deliver whatever it takes to ensure the best customer service it can give.

How to reach: Foundation Software, (800) 246-0800 or

How the Hospice of the Western Reserve provides dignity and peace to patients

William Finn, CEO, Western Hospice Reserve

William Finn, CEO, Hospice of the Western Reserve

Hospice of the Western Reserve Inc. CEO William Finn knows there is only one opportunity to make it right for the patients and families who interact with his organization and his team.

“Our mission is to assure that the patient has everything he or she needs in order to manage pain and symptoms in an environment of dignity and peace,” he says. “We walk with them through this journey that for many is their first experience with death and dying.”

This begins with a well-trained staff.

Hospice of the Western Reserve’s Admissions Team receives in-depth education designed to reframe their “first face” role. This includes formulating best-practice language tailored to a patient’s specific needs, as well as learning how to view each encounter with a patient or family member as an opportunity to offer access to the right level of care they need versus creating the perception that they’re being sold a service.

A unique solution Finn’s team provides is bereavement support and crisis intervention to the community-at-large. For example, when a teacher, police officer or student dies, Hospice of the Western Reserve provides immediate phone consultation and often on-site services.

As a result, the Elisabeth Prentiss Severance Bereavement Center has garnered recognition as a source of expert advice related to school crisis response.

How to reach: Hospice of the Western Reserve Inc., or (216) 383-2222

How DeVore Technologies gets you the training you need

Lori Devore

Lori DeVore, President and CEO, DeVore Technologies Inc.

Thomas D. Halter was in a bind. The director of Web technology at AssuraMed needed to get his Web development team up to speed with the latest Java technology. Unfortunately, he was having a tough time finding a program that would meet his company’s highly specialized needs.

He was hoping to find an instructor with a curriculum that matched these needs, but he came up empty and was resigned to the fact he was now going to need to look outside of Ohio. This would add travel costs to the expense of training.

Then he came across DeVore Technologies Inc. It turned out that DeVore had an instructor and a curriculum that exactly met Halter’s requirements. But under the leadership and personality of Lori DeVore, the company’s president and CEO, the firm also had a willingness to work with Halter to meet his very precise expectations.

Once a plan was finalized, DeVore also came through with first-class training facilities and “a never-ending stream of snacks and beverages,” Halter says.

The result is an informed team at AssuraMed and a valuable partner for the future the next time Halter needs to train his staff.

How to reach: DeVore Technologies Inc., (440) 232-3846 or

How Visual Marking Systems makes good impressions with clients

Dolfe Kahle, CEO, Visual Marking Systems

Dolf Kahle, CEO, Visual Marking Systems

The service promise at Visual Marking Systems Inc., a manufacturer of pressure sensitive decals, nameplates and markings, is easy to remember if you think of three O’s:

Outlast. Outshine. Outperform.

That simple motto helps define the employees’ mission to be there for customers and to produce products they are proud to display. It’s part of the culture of VMS, which includes awareness programs such as Employee of the Month and Caught in the Act to support these principles.

Both of those programs serve to show the commitment the company has to continuous improvement that impacts the customer fulfillment process. Caught in the Act is a peer recognition effort while Employee of the Month is driven by management input.

Founded more than 50 years ago by a father and son team, Hermann and (now CEO) Dolf Kahle, VMS hosts weekly meetings to discuss current corporate culture issues, to learn from each other, and to plan for the future. Every month, one of 12 core values of the company are highlighted which reminds associates on a daily basis why they give great customer service above and beyond the competition.

VMS promotes a positive, fun and satisfying experience for all team members as well. Celebrations, activities and Spirit Week add to the fun atmosphere.

How to reach: Visual Marking Systems Inc., (330) 425-7100 or

How AkzoNobel meets client needs at every level of the business


Julian Cass, Vice President of the Americas, AzkoNobel

Customer care is a culture at AkzoNobel Packaging Coatings. It is paramount within every functional department and at every level of the business.

Julian Cass, vice president of the Americas for AkzoNobel, a leading global supplier of coatings, inks and adhesives to the packaging industry, helps drive that culture. At the forefront of its world-class customer care is its customer order management specialists team.

This team is renowned for its expertise and understanding of both its clients’ businesses and packaging coatings to deliver supreme customer service and responsiveness. The professional relationships — both internal and external — are based on trust, respect and performance with many years of proven record.

In addition, the company’s “End-to-End Alignment” Operational Excellence initiative has delivered significant and sustained service-level improvements. Since inception in May 2012, service levels of 97 percent and higher are now the norm.

This is a key initiative that has delivered significant and sustained business improvements. The end-to-end alignment team helped streamline operations from demand to raw materials. End-to-end alignment sessions were held in support of streamlining operations across key supply chain functions.

What inspires AkzoNobel is seeing the opportunity others cannot, and what unites the company is the intelligence to deliver customer care where others have not.

How to reach: AkzoNobel Packaging Coatings, (440) 297-8556 or

How Kalahari Resorts doesn’t sweat the details

Todd Nelson, President and Owner, Kalahari Resorts

Todd Nelson, President and Owner, Kalahari Resorts

The idea of VIP customers just doesn’t fly at Kalahari Resorts. Employees are trained from their first day on the job to understand that every customer, whether a parent of young children or a corporate client on a business trip, deserves first-class treatment throughout their entire stay.

But it’s not just a clean check-in at the desk or clean floors in the room that make your company’s customer service stand out. Those things are expected. When Kalahari plants a uniformed associate at the foot of the hill leading up to the main lobby entrance to make sure incoming guests are parked in the best spot to get to their room, it makes an impression.

Employees are trained to focus on the details in every aspect of their work, whether it’s adding a comforting assist to someone who seems to be lost or helping a guest who is a little nervous about the ride they are about to go on. Those details are what Kalahari Resorts President and Owner Todd Nelson pushes down throughout the organization to enable Kalahari to be a place that guests want to come back to again and again.

How to reach: Kalahari Resort and Convention Center, (419) 433-7200,,


How Faber-Castell stands not only for longevity but for quality as well

Jamie Gallagher, CEO, Faber-Castell

Jamie Gallagher, CEO, Faber-Castell USA

At Faber-Castell, one of the company mottos is, “Doing ordinary things extraordinarily well.” Founded in 1761 by a cabinetmaker, the firm is one of the world’s oldest industrial companies — and that motto and its longevity show that the organization stands for a consistent delivery of a quality experience in all areas of business.

Headquartered in Cleveland, Faber-Castell USA offers a wide range of creative and writing products for all ages. It is part of the Faber-Castell family of companies founded in Stein, Germany.

The motto above is a motivational driving force within the entire company, which is led by CEO Jamie Gallagher. By following through on the smallest details, Faber-Castell believes this characteristic sets the company apart from the competition. Employees know that even the smallest personal gesture can make a huge impact.

And when small gestures are considered, they may be the deciding factor in a customer’s decision to continue purchasing or seeking out Faber-Castell brands in the future, regardless of price.

Highly trained, dedicated and motivated employees are vital to the company’s success. Employees are rewarded with a yearly product allowance and discount so that they, their friends and family can purchase Faber-Castell products and, in effect, become “brand ambassadors,” spreading the word on “doing ordinary things extraordinarily well.”

How to reach: Faber-Castell USA, (216) 643-4660 or

Becoming the ‘Customer Service Capital’ is no surprise role for Cleveland

johndijuliusWho needs LeBron? We have customer service! Yes, it would be really nice if one of our major sports team won a championship. However, in spite of that, Cleveland is on the rise. Personally, I love Cleveland, and I am proud to say I am from Cleveland and live here.

There is a lot to love; we are known for our leading health care facilities, our theater district, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, downtown is making a strong comeback, and most of all, we are known for our people. We are in the heart of the Midwest, where we have the best people, grounded and loyal with amazing family values.

However, that isn’t all for which Cleveland is known; Cleveland is now becoming a fantastic customer service location. Five years ago, The DiJulius Group launched the annual Secret Service Summit. The Secret Service Summit is a two-day conference featuring the top customer service speakers, authors and brand executives for two days.

I will be honest, the plan was to launch the first year, 2009, in Cleveland, then move the annual conference to the more desirable destinations, i.e. Las Vegas, Orlando, etc.

However, it sold out the first year and was so successful that we decided we were going to keep the Secret Service Summit in Cleveland. Why? For one thing, more than 75 of the attendees are from outside of Ohio, many outside the U.S., so we felt good about helping Cleveland generate some traffic.

Secondly, with the help of so many Cleveland people, we are able to provide a conference experience never seen before, one we could never duplicate anywhere else. As a result the Secret Service Summit is one of the top customer service conferences in America.

Seeing the affect that both the Secret Service Summit and SBN’s World-Class customer service awards has had on recognizing and educating Northeast Ohio businesses for their commitment to providing superior customer service, we have seen an improvement in the level of customer service being delivered everywhere in NEO and the momentum is rapidly building.

What does it mean when an entire region is known for something like world-class customer service? It means businesses experience higher sales growth, become less price sensitive, enjoy more referrals, are less affected by things such as the economic swings, they are more profitable, and spend less on advertising.

In addition, they have higher employee morale and lower employee turnover. Ultimately it means we have nicer people, who enjoy serving others and it shows, which attracts more people to the business and the area. More businesses prosper and more companies and customers are attracted to the area.

The DiJulius Group’s mission has always been to change the world by creating a customer service revolution; however, we have a second one: to make Cleveland the “Customer Service Capital of the World.” Together, we can make this a reality.


John DeJulius III is the author of “Secret Service Hidden Systems that Deliver Unforgettable Customer Service” and What’s the Secret.” He is also president of the DeJulius Group. Reach him at [email protected]

How ABCO Fire Protection pleases by explaining why

It gives Karen Considine a great deal of comfort to know that ABCO Fire Protection Inc. is on the job to ensure that the four medical buildings she manages for Parma Hospital are in compliance with all fire regulations.

Considine has worked with ABCO on these properties for the past four years, and she says each encounter has been a pleasure. Whether it was a new fire alarm system that was needed in one building or the numerous issues that resulted in calls, needs are always addressed in a quick and seamless fashion.

This ease in dealing with ABCO stems from a philosophy that begins at the top with President and CEO Bob Titmas. The goal is to show customers why the product or service they are proposing is a good idea, rather than just tell them it is and leave it at that.

ABCO employees want customers to understand that the company always has their best interest and safety in mind.

The company’s pricing is not the lowest, but Titmas and his team believe that the value customers get from the company make it less of a factor. By focusing on that expertise, ABCO builds relationships with customers that endure.

How to reach: ABCO Fire Protection Inc., (216) 433-7200 or

How Moen Inc. creates products and service with customers in mind

David Lingafelter, President, Moen Inc.

David Lingafelter, President, Moen Inc.

WCCS 2013 – Moen Inc.

At Moen Inc., service excellence is not merely a promise but an absolute. Everything Moen does in its service operations process is engineered to exceed the goal of creating Moen advocates for life.

Moen, a manufacturer of kitchen and bath faucets, showerheads, accessories, bath safety products and kitchen sinks, builds its service with the customer in mind. In fact, one of the four pillars of the Moen brand is “best-in-class customer service.”

President David Lingafelter helps ensure that the company is following its consumer services vision statement, which is, “To champion a growing, self-sustaining service offering that manages risk, offers value to our stakeholders, drives growth, and protects and builds the brand while creating ‘Moen Advocates’ for life.”

The company thrives off word-of-mouth from its consumers. Moen’s world-class service culture not only amazes consumers, but they also find themselves raving about its service to everyone they meet. Moen proudly admits that many of its consumer advocates have been developed through its exceptional service offering, which has stood the test of time from generation to generation.

Moen’s objective in warranty and technical support is to offer solutions that “wow” consumers. The Moen tagline states, “Buy it For Looks, Buy it For Life,” and the company accepts the challenge of exceeding that promise every day.

How to reach: Moen Inc., (800) 289-6636 or