Breaking business news and updates in and around Columbus
Guest blog: Fast presentation fix #3: Say Dog, See Dog
Drive home your key points with vivid, powerful presentation visuals.
Handshake Foundation hosts "The Huddle" tonight at Vue
Help connect student athletes with business mentors and scholarship opportunities tonight at the Handshake Foundation's "Huddle." The fundraiser takes place from 5:30-7:30 this evening at Vue, 95 Liberty St, Columbus, OH 43215. Tickets for The Huddle are $100 and can be purchased online at EventBrite.
More about the event and the Handshake Foundation:
The Handshake Foundation, created by retired DSW CFO Doug Probst will host its inaugural fundraiser this Thursday at Vue. Named “The Huddle,” the event will feature nationally recognized author and speaker Dr. Kevin Elko, who has been a consultant to seven BCS National Championship football teams, five NFL teams as well as numerous corporations including Morgan Stanley and Abbott Labs. The Huddle will also feature self-introductions by the 2014 Handshake Foundation student-athletes.
The sponsors for the event are Big Lots, Deloitte, DSW and Summerfield Advertising.
Founded in 2011, the Handshake Foundation is a combination mentorship and scholarship program that seeks to partner high school athletes with local business leaders. The program’s first year, students from three high schools took part (Gahanna Lincoln, Reynoldsburg and Whitehall Yearling). In 2013 that number grew to eight and in 2014, 16 area high schools are currently participating in the program.
The genesis of The Handshake Foundation was an informal conversation between Probst and a professional baseball scout at a youth baseball game. When asked about what he looked for in prospects, the scout Joe Morlan, Sr. said “If he doesn’t give me a firm handshake and look me in the eye, I don’t even go to the game.”
New Ohio State president had short honeymoon period
Photo courtesy of The Ohio State University
Ohio State University’s new president Michael Drake spoke before a capacity crowd at the Columbus Metropolitan Club this afternoon, publicly addressing the firing of marching band director Jonathan Waters as a small protest band played OSU fight songs outside of the Columbus Athletic Club.
“We made the difficult decision that new leadership was needed,” said Drake. “Based on the facts, we stand by that decision.”
Drake says that the 23-page report issued by the University Office of Compliance and Integrity landed on his desk a few short weeks into his presidency. “There’s a honeymoon period,” quipped Drake, “and I didn’t feel like I quite got out of the church.”
Drake called the report “disappointing,” adding that, based on the facts contained in the report, he would “not change my mind” or reinstate Waters. “What we saw was a culture,” said Drake. That culture, he said, led to Waters’ firing rather than a suspension or other disciplinary action for the director or his subordinates.
Drake did not meet personally with Waters during the firing process; Waters was dismissed by the provost of his department in keeping with the university’s chain of command, Drake said.
Drake asserted that he is ready to move the University and the band forward in the interest of students, OSU and the wider Columbus community. “We have to behave like the very best university in the world,” said Drake, generating applause from the audience of civic and business-community leaders.
His first year as OSU’s 15th president will include a number of milestones, including the 125th Buckeye football season, the 25th anniversary of the Wexner Center for the Arts and the opening of OSU’s newly expanded Wexner Medical Center and James Cancer Hospital in December.
WOSU interviewer Mike Thompson asked about the medical center’s ability to compete with newly expanded OhioHealth and Mount Carmel Health System: “We compete with disease and suffering and ignorance,” answered Drake. Drake, a doctor whose experience includes 20-plus years as a professor at the UC San Francisco School of Medicine, said the challenge facing academic medical centers like OSU’s is the ability to “increase quality, accessibility and affordability of medical care.”
Drake lauded the university’s strong partnerships with private industry and said it was among his goals to “reduce barriers to commercialization” of the research and development taking place on the OSU campus.
Five Ways Brand Voice Enhances B2B Communication
By BILL FAUST
No matter what business you’re in, your organization’s story of what you do, how you do it, and why it matters should be simple and compelling. This story is your brand, and one of the most important elements of your brand is the brand voice.
Voice is not what a company says, but how a company says it. Too often, business-to-business companies assume business communications have to be emotionless. But every strong brand has a personality, and that shines through in every level of communication. Is the brand direct, focused, concise? Or is it conversational, clever, witty? How is the company communication structured? Through quick, factual sentences? Or through stories, anecdotes, and quotes?
Voice matters. And the more a B2B company can tap into understanding and creating its voice and make it consistent across all channels, the stronger that brand will be.
Why does brand matter? Many B2B companies rely heavily on sales, as they should, but empowering salespeople with consistent tools to help their sales can create great alignment across any company. Personal relationships are an important part of sales, but with different associates telling different versions of a brand story, a fractured overall brand image can emerge. A consistent, and smart, story holds it together.
Here are five ways how the right brand voice can enhance communication:
Mastering a brand voice can allow important messages to stand out. When a company develops a brand-specific style of communicating, it can leave formal, standard, copy-heavy formats behind. That makes it easier for clients to dive into the information the company wants them to get out of the communication.
Voice Makes Connections
Voice can make the complex simple, for example, by using everyday terms instead of industry jargon. And that makes it easy for a client to understand and align with the brand instantly. The brand begins to talk with the client, not at the client. Remember, jargon isn’t code for smart. It’s code for unnecessarily complex.
When a company develops its own unique style of communicating, you immediately set it apart from competitors. Clients will remember the brand for how clearly it communicates or how conversational it sounds.
Voice Unifies Different Communication Pieces
When a company communicates to customers in the same powerful way across mailings, collateral, digital experiences, and face-to-face meetings, they understand the brand and know what to expect. Time isn’t wasted on pouring through details and introductions. They become familiar with how the company communicates and expect the same communication style every time. That makes it easier for them to get the information they want.
Voice Personifies the Brand
Be sure the brand personality matches up with the brand voice. It’s the fastest way to make connections with customers. Instead of saying, “we’re direct and focused,” you can illustrate those parts of the personality in how the company communicates. And that creates an authentic brand experience.
Bill Faust is Managing Partner & Chief Strategy Officer at Ologie. Reach him on Twitter: @williamfaust, or email: email@example.com.
DeWine dispatches investigators to monitor bottled-water pricing in Toledo
Reports of bottled-water price-gouging are popping up on social media and web forums from Toldeo-area residents following this weekend's algal-bloom pollution. This morning, the Ohio AG's office issued the following price-gouging primer with reporting info for consumers:
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine today said that his office is actively monitoring possible price gouging complaints regarding bottled water as a result of Toledo’s water crisis.
“We have seen the best of many Ohioans who have generously helped those needing water in the Toledo area, but we also have heard allegations of possible price gouging in the area,” Attorney General DeWine said. “We are actively monitoring complaints related to the Toledo water crisis. Those who think they are overpaying for water should contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office immediately and provide information about where the water was being sold and the price paid.”
The Ohio Attorney General’s Office is sending representatives to monitor water prices in the Toledo area.
Laws that address price gouging vary from state to state. While Ohio does not have a statute that deals directly with price gouging, state law bans unconscionable sales practices.
A practice could be considered unconscionable if the supplier knew at the time of the transaction that the price was substantially higher than the price at which similar goods or services could be readily obtained. It is also an unfair and deceptive practice to dramatically increase the price of in-stock products based solely in response to current events.
Consumers who suspect price gouging or other unfair business practices should contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office by calling 800-282-0515 or visiting www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov. Consumers should submit as much information and documentation as possible with their complaints.
EMPLOYERS SHOULD MOVE AHEAD DESPITE ACA QUESTIONS
By JOLIE HAVENS
The Affordable Care Act has survived a barrage of judicial and political challenges, implementation failures, repeated
delays, partial repeals, elections, and constant media scrutiny. Following last month’s conflicting Circuit Court decisions on the availability of marketplace subsidies, many employers are wondering whether this latest chapter in the ongoing saga of legal uncertainty may actually lead to the law’s undoing.
On July 22, two federal appeals courts reached opposite conclusions on the ACA provision allowing individuals earning between 100 percent to 400 percent of the Federal Poverty Level to obtain subsidized health insurance through a Health Insurance Marketplace. At issue are four little words found in the ACA providing that subsidies are available through a marketplace “established by the state.” Only 16 states (and D.C.) currently operate their own marketplaces, with the rest, including Ohio, having a marketplace run by the federal government or in partnership with the federal government, also known as Federally-Facilitated Marketplaces.
The D.C. Circuit first ruled 2-1 that the IRS lacks authority to allow subsidies in Federally-Facilitated Marketplaces because the language of the ACA unambiguously limits subsidies to state marketplaces. In contrast, the Fourth Circuit then ruled that the ACA’s language is ambiguous such that the IRS may allow the subsidies. Ohio employers are now asking whether this judicial split constitutes yet another reprieve from preparing for the ACA’s employer penalties looming large on the compliance horizon. It does not, at least not yet.
First, the D.C. Circuit decision is jurisdictionally limited and has not yet taken effect. Whether it will be upheld on appeal or gain broader acceptance is unknown.
Second, broader implementation of the decision carries potentially massive consequences in states with Federally-Facilitated Marketplaces. Because employer penalties are triggered only when one or more full-time employees obtains subsidized marketplace coverage, elimination of subsidies in states with Federally-Facilitated Marketplaces would eliminate employers’ penalty exposure in those states.
While this outcome may be attractive to single-state employers, multi-state employers are likely faced with the same old headaches and perhaps a few new ones. Moreover, the taking of substantial subsidies from as many as five million enrolled individuals might cause even the most fervent strict constructionist to think long and hard. Further, broader implementation would, at the very least, partially nullify both the individual and employer mandates, calling into serious question the continued financial viability of the ACA. While opponents may not be sad to see “Obamacare” go, query whether the most celebrated aspects of the ACA—elimination of pre-existing condition limits, Medicare prescription drug savings and coverage for adult children—go, too.
Third, both rulings have followed ideological lines, and the Obama administration has indicated the intent to appeal to the full panel of the D.C. Circuit, which is dominated by judges appointed by Democrats.
Regardless of the ultimate result, time appears to be on the Obama administration’s side, and the penalties come into play for many employers in just a few months. Although the D.C. Circuit decision calls into question the law’s inevitability, employers should not delay or discontinue efforts to prepare for ACA penalties in all states in which they have employees (including those states with Federally-Facilitated Marketplaces).
Has the ACA simply gone too far to be rolled-back now? Stay tuned.
Jolie Havens is a partner in the Columbus office of Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease and the chair of the firm’s health care group. She can be reached at (614) 464-5429 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Guest blog: Fast presentation fix #2: Simplify—think less text, more TED
How to determine what matters most in your next presentation
Guest blog: Peer groups are invaluable aids to succession planning for family business leaders
(Editor’s Note: This is the eighth in a series of columns by family business leaders and advisors with information and ideas about topics unique to family businesses, developed in conjunction with the Conway Center for Family Business.)
By Jerry Bordner
Business advisory groups comprised of individuals from similar industries or performing similar roles have become useful tools for business leaders. Family business presidents and CEOs are no exception. The objective of the Conway Center for Family Business CEO Peer group, which I facilitate, is to provide a forum that allows the leaders of family-owned companies to get together to discuss common problems. The group began by creating an atmosphere of trust and camaraderie between participants to allow frank and open discussions. Monthly meetings are divided into two segments: a business portion conducted by a selected presenter and a social segment where personal challenges and issues are discussed over dinner.
The transfer of ownership is always a hot subject with family-owned businesses; whether it is from the first generation (company founder) or when future ownership transfers over time. The more difficult succession transition is the first generation to second, mainly due to the company founder’s reluctance to give up control over something he or she created. In many cases the thought of succession planning is of out of their realm and overwhelming, so they tend to procrastinate. One of the stumbling blocks is selecting the right successor. In some cases it’s clear but with families comprised of siblings, their children and their spouses the decision becomes mind boggling.
Wealth protection, especially if personal assets are tied up in the company, and wage continuation are also subjects to be considered and can prolong the agonizing process. Being able to openly discuss the successes and failures that others have experienced provides an excellent sounding board.
Being the most senior of our group I am the only one that has gone through the entire succession process and today have very little involvement in the company. After I retired, it became clear to me that the longer I was away from the company the less I knew about daily operations and the less inclined I became to render opinions, which weren’t always wanted anyway. This is part of the process of letting go which, I might add, is tough.
Our group represents a good cross-section of companies undergoing the succession process. One company founder, who is driving the succession transition, has the blue print of his plan pretty much complete and ready to be implemented; although fully executing the plan still causes him to have some sleepless nights. Others in the group will be the successors, are running the company, and are in a situation of coaxing, pleading and influencing the current owners to get on with the succession planning process. This can be difficult because of the respect and reverence they have for their parents who are faced with letting go (this isn’t isolated to the first to second generation transition). The process can be more complicated if the channels of communications are weak or nonexistent. I know of one company outside of our group that is run by the son of the owner who is 85. When the son approaches his dad about succession his dad tells him that “everything is taken care of” but the son has yet to find out what that means. This is extreme, but it happens.
Although succession planning can be a daunting process, it is a critical step to ensuring the future of your family business. Talk to other family business leaders, seek the advice of experts, but most importantly open the lines of communication with your family to start making plans that will meet the needs of both those exiting and continuing your family business legacy.
Jerry Bordner leads the Conway Center for Family Business CEO Peer Group, facilitating valuable discussions that focus on business, family and personal leadership issues in a confidential environment that allows members to share their experiences and advice. Jerry started Bordner & Associates as a plastics molding manufacturers sales agency in 1982. His technical creativity fostered many innovations and led to the inception of Laser Reproductions in 1994 to produce three-dimensional prototypes from computer designs. Today, Laser Reproductions is run by two of his sons, Paul and Bret Bordner.
Columbus Metro Library appoints new COO
From today's announcement:
Columbus Metropolitan Library (CML) has hired Nate Oliver as Chief Operating Officer (COO). He begins his new role within the organization on Monday, Aug. 4.
As COO, Oliver will be responsible for overseeing the library’s information technology, property management and security departments.
Oliver, who received his Master’s degree in Library and Information Science from Kent State, has been with CML for more than 20 years in various roles. He currently serves as public services director, overseeing operations and services at Main Library, five CML branches and the library system’s InfoLine & Rovers division.
Prior to his work as public services director, Oliver served as assistant manager at the Northside Branch and as circulation manager at the Gahanna Branch. He also previously worked at the Reynoldsburg, Northern Lights and Whetstone branches.
Currently, Oliver is the Board Treasurer for the Discovery District Civic Association. He is a former board member for the Discovery District Special Improvement District and Columbus Rotary Club.
“Nate knows this organization inside and out,” said CML CEO Patrick Losinski. “From his time serving as a page at the Whetstone Branch to his leadership as a public services director, he has embodied the passion and integrity that infuse our organizational values at CML. We are thrilled to have him assume this new role to help us better serve our customers.”
CML’s previous COO, Chris Taylor, left in 2012 to assume the role of director of Upper Arlington Public Library, and the position was not immediately refilled.
Guest blog: Six ways to control rising commercial construction costs
By Dustin Rohrbach
The good news for the Columbus region is that the construction industry is back! The not-so-good news is a backlog of projects in this growing economy has led to rising construction costs, but the impact can be minimized through a combination of best practices and targeted planning strategies.
According to Engineering News Record, June 2014 costs for commercial construction building and materials were more than two percent above inflation compared to a year ago. As construction activity increases, firms can become more selective in the projects they pursue, resulting in decreased competition in the marketplace. The cost of commodities and common materials also rises as the supply is reduced and demand elevated. Prior to 2014, Danis Columbus, like most construction managers, accounted for zero to three percent inflation and/or general escalation. However, recent local market trends now dictate five to seven percent annual inflation and/or escalation factors for projects that will be delivered in 2015 and beyond.
These six best practices can help control escalating costs:
1) Avoid escalation. Build it now because there will be a premium to wait. This is probably the most important recommendation. Some builders are adding an average of 4.75 percent to estimates for any work to be completed in 2015 and beyond in this region, with some components, such as roofing or insulation, seeing increases of as much as seven percent.
2) Invest in the architect. One aspect of a commercial construction job worth the added expense is at the planning and drawing stage. The best way to hedge against rising construction costs during a project is to lower the risk of unplanned changes. Missed details or sloppy work in commercial construction design can end up costing a lot. Poor preparation result in changes that amounted to 10-15 percent of the original total commercial construction costs. It’s smarter and less nerve-racking to pay sound architects well, rather than stressing over the work of an obscure one that may seem like good deal. A strong architect can save in excess of five percent in change orders alone due to bad details, incomplete drawings, and unsubstantiated assumptions.
3) Consider a design-build approach. To really mitigate the chance of a planning-stage disaster, go with a design-build delivery method. The main advantages an owner gains with a design-build contract is a complete shift of risk from the owner to the design-build team, one sole-source contract (which means streamlined communication/gained efficiencies), a reduction in the project schedule (up to 33 percent), and an average decrease in cost overruns by 12.6 percent.
It’s a common misconception that commercial construction managers make money on change orders that can take place during a project. Almost 100 percent of this cost is passed along to the subcontractors. Construction managers want to avoid this scenario to maintain their reputation for good project management. Hiring one construction manager to initiate a design-build project is fiscally smart.
4) Reclaim materials and systems when possible. On commercial construction retrofits and overhauls, if feasible, reuse existing materials or systems such as air conditioners and plumbing. Savings can be significant. When estimating commercial construction costs, ask construction managers to evaluate the current condition of major building systems rather than simply ordering new. This helps avoid rising costs of construction due to material pricing escalation and inflation. The opportunity to reuse major building components is always an alternative, but evaluating these options from an energy consumption angle is always something we review with our clients prior to making this decision.
5) List your needs … and wants. Start out by knowing the costs up front and having the price locked in from the beginning. The best way to achieve this is through an open-book, cost-plus contract/delivery method and getting the construction manager involved early in the project. This creates a collaborative environment where the list of needs and wants can be evaluated prior to starting construction. Owners can then make decisions on their wish list upfront during design and those changes can be incorporated prior to construction versus during construction when changes will always cost more. Decisions in the middle of a project will cost more for the designer to change the drawings and for the contractor to make the adjustments in the field versus prior to construction when those premiums don’t exist.
6) Use a builder that builds or has a field workforce. This sounds basic, but not all construction managers build. Using a builder that employs its own workforce drives efficiencies that can’t be offered by any construction manager. Construction managers that self-perform are more nimble, can start earlier and can go faster. They even have the ability to quickly step in when subcontractors are underperforming and make up lost time.
There is no one answer to hedge against rising costs in general, but a good commercial construction manager should be able to approach the task holistically and find numerous ways to keep commercial construction costs predictable.
Dustin Rohrbach is vice president in charge of the Columbus office of Danis Building Construction.
Franklin Co. job fair to focus on employing military families
Franklin County Empowerment Day Resource & Job Fair
Franklin County Commissioners, Franklin County Child Support Enforcement Agency, Veterans Service Commission and community/government service providers
At Veterans Memorial, 300 W. Broad Street
Wednesday, July 23, 2014
11 am to 4 pm
Event details via this morning's announcement:
Franklin County Commissioners, the Franklin County Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSEA), and dozens of community partners will kick off the 2014 Empowerment Day Resource & Job Fair Wednesday, July 23, beginning at 11 am at Veterans Memorial.
This is the second year that Franklin County CSEA will partner with the Veterans Service Commission to provide resources, services, educational and employment opportunities. About 50-percent of active duty members and 70-percent of Reserve and National Guard members are parents. This is a unique partnership which benefits local military families which may be struggling following the military drawdown which began last year and has left many veterans looking for work. That, coupled with the fact that veteran non-custodial parents are likely to have significantly higher arrears – 27-percent higher on average, makes this an important community event.
The event is free and open to the entire community. All parents are encouraged to bring their résumé, dress as if they’re attending a job interview, meet with area employers, learn about community resources available to them and their family, and receive child support and legal assistance from attorneys and CSEA staff. Visit Support.FranklinCountyOhio.gov for more info, including a list of exhibitors participating.