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SUMMER 2013 Vol. 2 Issue 1

How small businesses can advocate for themselves, and what the Visalia Chamber of Commerce is doing to help. Kast & Company

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Visalia Chamber of Commerce 220 N. Santa Fe, Visalia, CA 93292

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Business Connection

Whether it’s to fix roads, hire police and fire, build prisons, provide welfare support, improve working conditions, upgrade safety and performance standards, or hundreds of other objectives, it can often seem like there are more and more laws, regulations, and related costs being placed on businesses day in and day out. Impacts come from the state, local, and federal governments. While business owners certainly want attractive, comfortable communities, with opportunities for their neighbors to succeed, one can be forgiven it they start to feel like the burden is being placed more and more disproportionately on the shoulders of employers. The reality is that those who seek benefits from government and those who would like to see more controls and restrictions placed on business are active in pursuing their agendas and are not shy about selling their perspectives. Often these organizations and causes are extremely well funded and, over time, have built up significant amounts of influence with those who are elected to make decisions. Business, at least recently, has been something of a distracted player in this arena, often coming late to issues and not being extremely well organized about getting their ideas and perspectives out. One benefit the Chamber can provide to businesses, especially those who are too small to afford their own professional lobbyists, is to stand up and be the collective voice of business. We monitor legislative proposals and organize responses when needed from local businesses. We testify in front of legislative bodies trying to convince them to see the employers’ perspective. We keep and publish scorecards, so that business leaders and other voters who support our efforts can know how individual legislators voted on particular needs. But, often, we need focused, specific action on the part of individual business owners to help make clear the impacts of a particular proposal – both positive and otherwise. Our cover story takes a look at how that process works and why it’s important for all businesses to be engaged in the cause! As always, we hope you enjoy (and learn from) the business profiles and the Made in Visalia feature. And, we hope that at least one or two of our regular columnists have something to share in each issue that will be useful in your efforts to do business better! Drop us a line. Let us know what you like, what you’d like to see more of, and how we can make Business Connections a true value for our local business owners and managers!

KERRY HYDASH

GLENN MORRIS

Family HealthCare Network Board Chair, 2013 - 2014

President & CEO

Visalia Chamber of Commerce The Visalia Chamber of Commerce is the largest business organization in Tulare County. Its members include small businesses, corporations, associations, and individual professionals. Since 1899, the Chamber has worked diligently with local government, education, private industry and a host of other agencies and organizations to improve the business environment and promote Visalia as a premier community in which to live, work, and do business. The Chamber organizes and directs the efforts of all who share the desire to improve the conditions under which business is conducted. Through participation in the Chamber, members are able to accomplish collectively what they could not do individually. Businesses that join the Chamber receive a multitude of benefits and advantages ranging from networking, marketing and advertising opportunities, to legislative advocacy, educational forums to benefit business, and economic opportunities. THE MISSION OF THE CHAMBER The mission of the Visalia Chamber of Commerce is to: • Promote a strong local economy. • Provide opportunities for business leaders to network and build relationships. • Deliver programs which help businesses grow and improve. • Represent business and advocate on its behalf with elected and appointed decision makers. • Enhance business opportunities through community leadership.

BUSINESS CONNECT ION | WWW.VISALIACHAMBER.ORG

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Business

IN THIS ISSUE

Connection Volume 2, Issue 1 • Summer 2013

F E AT U R E S

2013 BOARD OF DIRECTORS CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD Kerry Hydash Family HealthCare Network CHAIR-ELECT Judy Fussel Buckman-Mitchell Financial & Insurance Services IMMEDIATE PAST CHAIR Stephen Peck Peck Planning & Development VICE CHAIR Lynn Conley, CPA VICE CHAIR William Martin Martin & Martin Properties

MEMBERS Karen Bruce Visalia Ceramic Tile Stan Carrizosa College of the Sequoias Anil Chagan Infinite Hospitality Dena Cochran Kaweah Delta Health Care District Mary-Alice Escarsega-Fechner CSET Richard Feder Visalia Mall Carlos Garcia Pena’s Disposal Matt Graham Hyde Commercial Real Estate E. William Maze American H20 Systems Stacy Morris BEN-E-LECT Skip Nugent Best Buy Markets

Samantha Rummage Mathias Holiday Inn Hotel & Conference Center Patrick Salazar State Farm Insurance

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MADE IN VISALIA

Vincent Salinas Financial Advisor Karen Tellalian DMI Agency EX-OFFICIO MEMBER Steve Salomon City of Visalia

PUBLISHED BY Visalia Chamber of Commerce 220 N. Santa Fe Visalia, CA 93292 (559) 734-5876 www.visaliachamber.org

GRAPHIC DESIGN BY Cary Schein The Schein Company (559) 553-5077 cary.schein@gmail.com ADVERTISING SALES BY Mike Cox (559) 734-5876 mikecox@visaliachamber.org PRINTING BY Jostens Commercial Printing Phone: (559) 651-3300 Fax: (559) 651-9098

ADDRESS CHANGES Please send to Visalia Chamber of Commerce: ATTN: Business Connection 220 N. Santa Fe, Visalia, CA 93292

Business Connection is an official publication of the Visalia Chamber of Commerce, published quarterly and distributed to business and community leaders throughout the Visalia trade market. Views expressed in columns are those of the columnist and not necessarily those of the Visalia Chamber of Commerce, its officers and directors, or its membership at large. Every effort has been made to ensure the information in this publication is correct and accurate as of the publication date. Business Connection does not warrant the accuracy or claims of its advertisers. The appearance of advertisements in this publication does not constitute support or endorsement for any product, person, cause, business, or organization unless specifically noted. Please send comments, questions, article suggestions, or requests for information to info@visaliachamber.org, or fax them to us at (559) 734-7479. The online version of this publication can be viewed at www.visaliachamber.org. ©Copyright 2013. All rights reserved. Reproduction by any means of the entire contents or any portion of this publication without written permission is prohibited.

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STAND & BE HEARD

BJ Perch Perch Construction

VICE CHAIR Norris McElroy Kawneer Company VICE CHAIR Colby Wells The Gas Company

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The Government, the Chamber, and You: How small businesses can advocate for themselves, and what the Visalia Chamber of Commerce is doing to help.

It’s complicated. These days, that’s probably the best way to describe the relationship between small business owners and their local, state, and federal governments. On one side, you’ll hear frustrated business owners lamenting burdensome regulations, ever-increasing taxes, and confusing labor laws. Then there are the frequent but less publicized positive experiences. Many entrepreneurs today are taking advantage of fast-tracked SBA-backed loans, streamlined permitting processes, and programs such as the City of Visalia’s quick and free site plan review for new businesses. Either way, as a small business owner, you probably have a strong opinion about government. While it’s true you can’t fight city hall, there’s plenty you can do to make your voice heard before a law passes that could affect your business. BUSINESS CONNECT ION | WWW.VISALIACHAMBER.ORG

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But how? Running a small business is a 24/7 endeavor, and most entrepreneurs have neither the time nor the desire to attend city council meetings, much less travel to Sacramento as part of a lobbying group. “Most business owners don’t know they care about these issues until they get the bill,” said Dave Kilby, executive vice president for the California Chamber of Commerce. “That’s when we have people call us and their local chambers asking ‘Where were you guys when this bill was passed?’ Our comment is usually, ‘Where were you? Your legislator voted for it.’” That’s why it’s so important to keep informed and stay active when it comes to legislative issues. Fortunately, doing so is neither time nor cost-intensive. Here are a few quick and easy ways to advocate for yourself and other small businesses: KEEP YOUR EAR TO THE GROUND You’re busy. Very busy. But when a new bill comes down the pipe that could impact your bottom line, wouldn’t you like to know about it? Your existing networks (clients, vendors, partners) are a great place to start. Ask what’s new in the industry and if they’ve heard of any upcoming legislation that may affect you both. You’ll most likely gather a lot of information simply through your everyday interactions with them. Traditional news outlets and their respective websites are also good resources. It may also be advantageous to follow the social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn) of trade organizations specific to your industry. The Visalia Chamber of

Commerce’s website also offers a comprehensive, one-stop resource for the major issues affecting businesses today, along with upcoming events, ribbon-cuttings, and much more. For local issues, it’s important to know who is actively advocating for local businesses as well as to learn who your representatives are on the city and state level. Keeping tabs on city council agendas and attending meetings whenever possible are always a good idea. “Know who your local Chamber of Commerce members are and perhaps take opportunities to meet with those people,” said Mary Beatie, senior planner for Provost & Pritchard and outgoing chair for the Visalia Chamber’s Government Affairs Committee. “Be proactive. Know who the players are in your community that advocate on your behalf and make sure you are able to express your concerns and your opinions to them.” WRITE YOUR REPRESENTATIVE “The personal stories of small business owners are so important,” said California State Assemblywoman Connie Conway. “Small businesses are the backbone of this country. It’s important that the legislature is aware of their individual stories.” Conway notes that many representatives in Sacramento personally read all of their e-mails and will either respond directly to a constituent’s correspondence themselves, or have a staff member follow up. Either way, says Conway, your voice will be heard.

tion to: informa x bills, go o-date r” -t to p 013.asp a u r re o F “Job C -Killers-2 b d o n a /J s r” e ag Kille tions/P top “Job entRela m on the rn e v om/Go amber.c

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“What’s effective for me is not a form letter, or something that someone else told you to forward on, but something personal and brief,” she said. When writing your representative, Conway recommends being specific about the legislation you are concerned about and how it will directly affect your business and the people you employ. “It’s almost like with that personal touch you’re holding an elected representative accountable. With a form letter, it’s easier for them to ignore you, and you can’t let them get away with that,” she said. BAND TOGETHER When it comes to advocating for small business, there’s power in numbers. A thriving small business community that supports one another is hard to ignore at a city council meeting. “Shop local and get to know your service providers and shop keepers,” said Stephen J. Peck, immediate past chairman of the board for the Visalia Chamber of Commerce. Peck also recommends getting involved in business-supporting organizations in the community including the Visalia Economic Development Corporation, Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Visitors and Convention Bureau. While the Chamber of Commerce focuses on larger issues, these business groups may be able to help you and your neighbors address smaller concerns (roadwork, construction, planned utility outages) that nonetheless could affect your bottom line.

W RITE YOUR R E P R E SE N TAT I V E BE PERS ONAL • BE SPEC BE BRIEF IFIC


“[The Chamber] gives us one voice. A collective group can have a more focused message and a more powerful impact.” – Matt Seals, Seals Biehle Contruction

“There are also organizations such as Downtown Visalians which serve businesses in a particular geographic area,” he said. “Organizations like this one can be effective advocates for your business.” JOIN THE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE If you don’t have the time or energy to advocate for your own interests, why not join an organization that can do it on your behalf? “It’s very time consuming to monitor everything that could potentially impact you as a business,” said Kerry Hydash, CEO of Family HealthCare Network and sitting board chair for the Visalia Chamber of Commerce. “That’s the beauty of being part of the Chamber. We are constantly monitoring different legislation and bringing them directly to our members for discussion.” Though its mission is wide-ranging, one of the Chamber’s core strategies is to advocate pro-business legislation at the local, state, and federal levels. “One of the main things that business people want their Chambers to do is represent their interests with government,” said Kilby. “We realize that ‘mom and pop’ businesses aren’t ever going to go to the city council. They don’t like it, they don’t understand it, and they don’t have time for it. That’s our job, and the Chambers have taken it seriously.”

It seems to be working. The Visalia Chamber of Commerce, for example, is the largest business organization in Tulare County. Its members include small businesses, corporations, associations, and individual professionals. Through participation in the Chamber, members are able to accomplish collectively what they could not do individually. “It gives us one voice. A collective group can have a more focused message and a more powerful impact,” said Matt Seals of Seals Biehle Construction, who has served on the Chamber board for the past six years. “We are an outspoken large majority.” But the relationship between the Chamber and local government is by no means an adversarial one. The City of Visalia and local businesses have long enjoyed a positive and mutually beneficial relationship based on open lines of communication and trust. “They value our feedback. We are working to have more open dialogue with the city and the county,” said Hydash. “They are great partners and are very open to hearing from the Chamber. The next step is to hardwire that process so we can give them feedback on important issues earlier.”

will focus on state and federal issues. Once in place, the Chamber will be a voice for business in not just local government, but in Sacramento and Washington, D.C. as well. For Assemblywoman Conway, that’s good news. A longtime supporter and member of several Valley Chambers, she often directs constituents directly to their local Chamber of Commerce for help with business related issues, training programs, the latest news on upcoming legislation, and much more. “I appreciate what chambers do for all businesses—the seminars, the programs that are offered, the issue advocacy that’s offered. It’s impressive to me,” she said. “I think they bring a real value to businesses, because it’s a tough world out there.” Indeed it is. Running a business is hard enough, and there are a lot of forces at work against you. But staying informed and actively advocating for your own interests—and those of the Visalia business community in general—is much easier than it seems. All it takes is an email here, a phone call there, or simply becoming a member of the Chamber or other local business groups. These steps are not only quick and easy, but they can go a long way in helping Visalia remain one of the most-business friendly cities in the Valley.

Over the coming year, the Visalia Chamber plans to strengthen their advocacy efforts through the creation of a legislative arm that BUSINESS CONNECT ION | WWW.VISALIACHAMBER.ORG

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Serpa Packaging Solutions

Designing high-speed solutions When global companies such as RJ Reynolds, Proctor & Gamble and Revlon need packaging solutions, they look to Visalia – to Serpa Packaging Solutions.

with our products, they will have the machine in their facility for 15 or 20 years, trouble free. They don’t want to take a gamble because they know it could mean manufacturing downtime.”

For the past 28 years, this company has designed and manufactured high-speed machines that place products in packages, close and seal the package, imprint date and lot number, shrink wrap and move it on to the palletizing station, depending upon customer need.

Pharmaceuticals and beauty care are key industries, in part because the Serpa design meets the demand for strict accountability of product inventory.

The integrated machines – which often include a Serpadesigned robot to further speed the process – range in price from $250,000 to $1 million each. The finished product is an efficient, high-technology machine that moves product of all shapes and sizes into packaging with blinding speed. “Robots have become increasingly important and common over the past five years,” noted Rich James, director of marketing. “The price point is attractive, plus the versatility and the ability to avoid employee injuries that come with repetitive work is unmatched by traditional machines. Some people say that robots eliminate jobs, but someone has to maintain the robot, and that is a better-paying job.” In the 12 years James has been with the company, he has seen it grow to its current employment of about 90 people and its physical footprint of 60,000 square feet. The company does little business on the West Coast, and instead competes with European manufacturers on a global scale. “Our machines are high-end and our prices are high but our customers get features that not even European manufacturers offer,” he explained. “We have our own ergonomic design that is far superior to anything on the market. Our customers know that

Fernando Serpa, who had worked as a service technician for machinery manufacturing companies, joined with partners to form the company in 1985. He bought out the partners and continues to own and operate the business today. It is his innovation and attention to ease of maintenance that has led to the growth and reputation of the business today, James says. The staff includes welders, machinists, mechanics, service technicians, as well as electrical and mechanical engineers, and Serpa Packaging offers on-the-job-training to employees who show interest and aptitude. An employee can begin as a draftsman with little or no experience and, over time, advance to an engineer position. The company also works closely with Fresno State University through the Valley Industrial Partnership program, bringing in interns every six months. “A four-year degree is not required, even for our engineering positions because what we look for first is a good employee,” James said. “We are a niche industry and we know most applicants won’t have the skills we need. We train, and we expect a lot of our employees because they have to be adaptable. We never do the same thing twice. But they can earn an excellent income.”

“Made in Visalia” is written by Nancy Lockwood, executive director of the Visalia Economic Development Corporation. www.visaliaedc.com

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GLOBAL PRESENCE LOCAL EXPERTISE www.pearsonrealty.com

Local commercial real estate firm Pearson Commercial has partnered with Newmark Grubb Knight Frank, a New York-headquartered international commercial real estate advisory firm. Pearson Commercial, which operates offices in Fresno and Visalia, now does business as Newmark Grubb Pearson Commercial. “I know I speak for everyone at our firm when I say we are very excited about this partnership and believe the added breadth and depth of real estate capabilities will greatly benefit our present and future clients,“ said John Stewart, president and CEO of Newmark Grubb Pearson Commercial, in a release. “It’s a good deal for us,” Stewart said in a recent interview. “We are still the biggest player in the San Joaquin Valley.” Newmark Grubb Pearson Commercial, which has been doing business in California’s Central Valley for nearly a century, has expertise with office, medical office, industrial, retail and investment properties, and also handles the acquisition and disposition of land suitable for commercial and residential development. The firm places a strong emphasis on researchsupported market knowledge, which forms the foundation for the real estate recommendations it makes to its clients. Together with its affiliates and London-based partner Knight Frank, Newmark Grubb Knight Frank employs more than 11,000 professionals, operating from more than 340 offices in established and emerging property markets on five continents.

3447 S. Demaree St. Visalia CA 93277

Selling or Leasing your Commercial Property? Contact us today,

559.732.7300 Meet our team of experts and get:

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Do you love business? Do you like working with teenagers? Do you have a passion to make a difference for the future? Then consider working with the Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) presented by the Visalia Chamber of Commerce. “The Visalia Chamber believes that, along with traditional economic development activities, e.g. recruiting new companies and helping existing ones grow, re-igniting the potential of entrepreneurship is critical,” states Chamber CEO, Glenn Morris. Research by the Kauffman Foundation shows firms less than five years old are responsible for all of the net job creation in the past 30 years – more than 40 million jobs. Research clearly shows that younger, smaller firms are the key drivers of economic growth, hence our excitement about this new, innovative program. The Chamber believes that YEA! offers a new and innovative strategy for helping to address this economic segment. Additionally, because it specifically targets our youth, we believe it may also be an important strategy in addressing the “brain drain” that concerns our community. If we can help young people create their own jobs and careers here, they may be more likely to stay (or return) to the community and become investors and leaders in the future.

2012 Saunders Scholars Winners

YEA! class member promotes her business and sells her items at local Trade Show event. 10

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YEA! is a groundbreaking year-long program that literally transforms local high school students into real, entrepreneurial success stories through an exciting, projects-based approach. Founded in 2004 at the University of Rochester with support from the Kauffman Foundation YEA! is serving hundreds of students every year. YEA! is an eight month program which teaches students important business and life skills. The year is broken down into three segments, each taught by a different instructor. Section one is all about idea generation and opportunity recognition. Section two is focused on the creation of a business plan and preparing for the Investor Panel presentations. At the Investor Panel the students will participate in the first step of the Saunders Scholar program. One student company from Visalia will compete in New York to win a college scholarship. The final section of the course is centered on launching the new enterprises. Nicola Wissler, YEA! program manager said, “The most exciting part of this program is that it involves the entire community. Businesses, local leaders and educators can get involved in a number of different ways.” Businesses can volunteer to host one of the six field trips the students take during the year. These field


trips allow the students to gain first hand knowledge of different types of businesses and how they are run day-to-day. Individuals can volunteer to assist the students by becoming a mentor. Mentors are individuals who meet with the students during the second segment of the class and help to fine tune ideas and begin to put the business plans together. We are also looking for individual volunteers to be guest speakers, listen to elevator pitches, sit on panels or provide services such as graphic and web design assistance.

their goals with tenacity. Nominated students should have a strong work ethic and should demonstrate high levels of effort on a consistent basis. Although prior experience in business is not required, nominees should have a strong interest in business and/or starting their own company or social movement. Nominated students will receive an introductory letter with background information on the program, the YEA! application form and an invitation to attend an informational meeting at the Chamber office.

Vital to the success of this program is financial support from the business community. As a sponsor of the Visalia YEA! program your generous support will help to secure the next generation of leaders in our region. Sponsors will receive tickets to YEA! events; such as the Investor Panel, CEO Roundtable, Media Meet & Greet, the Tradeshow, and Graduation. Most exciting for the sponsors are the opportunities to be a direct sponsor of a student scholar. Each sponsor will be paired with at least one student from the program. Sponsors will be able to monitor the progress while supporting the student’s drive to become their own boss. Sponsors will have their company promoted through social media, press releases and a business profile on the YEA! webpage. We are currently accepting student nominations. As a business leader, you have insight as to students who are passionate about business, and would excel in the YEA! program. Please consider nominating creative, motivated students who pursue

The Visalia Chamber of Commerce Presents

The Great Rivers of Europe

$3,850 per person (double occupancy)

March 9 - 24, 2014

Including airfare from Fresno, and all meals Grand Circle Cruise Line CST#2041626-40

BUSINESS CONNECT ION | WWW.VISALIACHAMBER.ORG

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Bank locally your

Help Support community’s economy. And reap the benefits!

Suncrest Bank is proud to be locally owned and operated, and celebrating 5 years serving Visalia.

We went with Suncrest Bank for the SBA loan, but eventually moved all our accounts from a larger bank. It’s warm and friendly at Suncrest Bank and staff members know us. We no longer feel like a number.” Rande and Kim Payne Co-Owners, Valhalla Restaurant

Don’t settle for being a number.

Discover for yourself great customer service. Discover aa new day in bank ing! Commercial Lending and SBA needs. Call Loren Brooks, Business Manager.

New savings and checking accounts. Call Jennifer Noel, Banking Specialist.

400 West Center Avenue Visalia Branch 802.1002

400 West Center Avenue Visalia Branch 802.1002

Suncrestbank.com


SA L E S

You Can’t Lose What You Don’t Have This is a continuation in a series about the related topics of fear of failure, risk, and procrastination, and their effects on decision making in sales. We know the more decisive a salesperson is the more productive they are and that indecisiveness is often related to fear of failure, aversion to risk, or procrastination. An ability to accept intelligent risk is a skill that can be learned and practiced to increase sales performance. For the sake of this article, let’s define risk as: “to let go of that which you’re certain of to reach for something you’re not sure of, but believe is better than what you have.” When the prospect says, “Why don’t you put together a proposal so we can see what it would cost, what we’d be getting, etc., and we’ll take a serious look at it?” The salesperson

You only have to be gutsy

5 SECONDS at a time.

has two choices; one with risk, one without. The no-risk option means estimating material, labor costs, confirming shipping, component availability, planning the delivery, deployment, installation, etc. (30 minutes – 30 man hours). You have no control or participation in the outcome but if you don’t get the business the prospect will still see you in a positive light and you’ll get another chance another day. The riskier proposition is to ask, “Mr. Prospect, let’s pretend that I came back to you with a proposal you thought was fantastic; the best idea you’ve seen yet, what would happen next?” After some frank discussion about what “taking a serious look at it”

really means you may have earned their respect and their business. Or, they may respond poorly leaving you feeling that you’ve damaged the relationship you’ve worked hard to build. You may uncover that they would simply use your proposal to squeeze their favored provider for concessions and you weren’t going to get the business no matter how good the proposal was. There are countless similar situations that salespeople encounter with countless variables involved. What is consistent and predictable is that, the moment when this decision has to be made, and a risk taken or a risk avoided, comes and goes quickly without notice. Selling is an intellectual gunfight. If it isn’t reflexive, you’re dead. I can’t give you a magic pill to make you a more decisive, calculated risk taker; sorry. That takes many months of targeted effort and practice toward measured improvement. The rule our clients hear often that I recommend you carry with you at all times as a salesperson is: You only have to be gutsy five seconds at a time. Over time you’ll develop a set of instincts that you’ve learned to trust. In the meantime, practice listening to the “little voice” in your head. If your gut is telling you something, there’s a reason. In the end, you can’t lose what you don’t have. If you fail, and you learn from it, it will always pay dividends over time. Time is the only currency of a salesperson. Getting the highest return from the investment of your time requires clear headed decisions made quickly, a calculated level of risk, and the willingness to fail and learn from it. It starts with the first “gutsy” step, which leads us to the topic of procrastination. We’ll cover that in the next edition.

DALE BIERCE Sandler Training

Dale Bierce is the President of the Sandler Training Center in Fresno. For comments or questions, email dale@sandler.com or call 559-412-8178.

UNTIL THEN, HAPPY SELLING,

Dale

DonalD P. SharP

Senior Vice President/Bond Manager

www.bminc.com • don@bminc.com • Office (559) 635-3528 • Fax (559) 734-8648 • Cell (559) 696-1238 500 North Santa Fe • P.O. Box 629 • Visalia, California 93279-0629 • License #0A82561 BUSINESS CONNECT ION | WWW.VISALIACHAMBER.ORG

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BU SI N ES S P R A C T I C E S

SEVEN TIPS FOR COMPLYING WITH CALIFORNIA’S DISABILITY GUIDELINES

For California employers, compliance with disability laws is complex, filled with potential pitfalls that can result in costly litigation. Here are seven ways to minimize potential liability.

CAROL HALAJIAN, MBA VERLA OLIVER, SPHR-CA Triad Solutions/ SinglePoint Outsourcing

1. KNOW THE DEFINITION OF “DISABILITY” In California, a disability is any physical or mental condition that “in any way limits” one or more major life activities. Because major life activities include basic job activities, walking, and breathing, this broad definition renders virtually all employees as potentially disabled. Often a mental or physical condition that might be a disability isn’t raised by an employee until a performance or attendance issue results in coaching or discipline. Be watchful for disability issues during the disciplinary process or you may be at risk for an after-the-fact discrimination claim. If an employee asks for some type of special treatment, attempt to determine if there’s a disability underlying the request.

If you are interested in support for the Human Resources function of your business, call SinglePoint Outsourcing at (559) 625-4800 or visit www.single-point.com.

2. ENGAGE IN THE “INTERACTIVE PROCESS” If an employee has a covered disability, you must engage in an interactive dialogue to determine whether there is a “reasonable accommodation” that will allow performance of the essential job functions. According to the EEOC, factors to consider in determining if a function is essential include:

•  whether the reason the position exists is to •  • 

perform that function; the number of other employees available to perform the function or among whom the performance of the function can be distributed; and the degree of expertise or skill required to perform the function.

Even if written doctor’s restrictions appear too difficult to consider, review the restrictions, solicit suggestions from the employee, and discuss possible accommodations with them. Document all discussions as evidence that you complied with your interactive obligations. 3. USE UP-TO-DATE JOB DESCRIPTIONS. When informed of any work restrictions, use an existing, current job description to identify essential job functions and measure them against the work restrictions to determine if an accommodation can be provided. If there is no job description, and one is created after the work restrictions come to light, there is an 16

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increased risk of a dispute over whether certain tasks are actually essential functions. 4. PROVE “UNDUE HARDSHIP” The employer has the burden of proving and establishing that an employee’s requested accommodation would be unduly difficult. The undue hardship defense does not mean merely inconvenient for the employer. The Fair Employment and Housing Act’s definition states that the accommodation must be a “significant” difficulty or expense when considering several factors: (1) the cost of the accommodation; (2) the financial resources, number of employees, and the effect of the accommodation on the employer; (3) the type of operations of the employer; (4) the relationship between the employer’s facilities. 5. COORDINATE OTHER LEAVES WITH “REASONABLE ACCOMMODATION” LEAVES. If an injury or medical condition requires a leave of absence that extends beyond the 12 weeks that an employee is entitled to under the Family and Medical Leave Act and any additional personal leaves, determine whether the condition is a covered disability (and it usually is) and consider an additional leave as a reasonable accommodation. 6. WATCH FOR ‘REGARDED AS’ SITUATIONS. California’s disability discrimination law not only protects employees with disabilities, but also protects employees who are “regarded as” having covered disabilities, even though they may not actually be disabled. An employee who has fully recovered from a stroke or heart attack should not be treated by his employer as still having some present disabling condition. California’s law is aimed at protecting against employees being treated less favorably because of a perception that they are disabled. 7. AVOID ‘HISTORY OF’ OR ‘RECORD OF’ DISABILITY CLAIMS. California’s law protects employees who are discriminated against simply because there is some record of them previously having disabilities, such as a heart attack, life-threatening illness or other condition treated years ago. If you take an employment action based on that history of a disability, you could face liability.


L E A DE R SH IP

THREE SURE TELL SIGNS OF EFFECTIVE LEADERSHIP

Everyone has their own opinions of what characteristics make up a good leader. From wellspoken and patient to charismatic and forceful, the list of qualities can run the gamut. But, sure-tell signs of effective leaders aren’t in their traits, but in their results. As you look within your own company and try to gauge the effectiveness of your own leadership, or the leadership of others, look for these three indicators. CONSISTENT GROWTH True leaders know they are neither perfect nor omniscient. They are always looking for ways to be better and never veer from the path of selfimprovement. One of the best signs of a good leader is a slight spirit of discontent. You have to be able to recognize that you are better today than you were a year ago, but still focus on becoming even better a year from now. And, growth can never take a backseat to your busyness. In the book, Great Leaders Grow, by Mark Miller and Ken Blanchard, they point out that, “If you get too busy with your job to grow, your influence and your leadership will stagnate and ultimately evaporate.” CONTINUAL SUCCESS If the proof is in the pudding, then a good leader’s team will achieve success again and again. This is true in the business world and on the football field. Take Terry Bradshaw, former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback who led his team to multiple Super Bowl

victories, for example. You could not be an ineffective leader and still lead your team to win four Super Bowl titles. A poor leader might have a few victories, but continual success is the result of good leadership. A recent Forbes article echoes this assertion with its statement, “The result of good leadership is high morale, good employee retention, and sustainable long-term success.” KRIS BROKAW

CONTAGIOUS SPIRIT Another quick way to determine the quality of someone’s leadership is to look at their teammates, co-workers, or employees. Are they excited about what they do? Are they stepping up and taking on leadership roles of their own? A leader’s power doesn’t just rest in his or her ability to do a task well, whether it’s throwing a football or running a business. The real power lies in their ability to inspire greatness in their team. You are not a true leader if you simply inspire fear or mediocrity. Good leadership begets good leadership. Many people proclaim themselves to be good leaders. After all, no one wants to be told that they’re a bad or ineffective leader. But, good leadership is proven through results, not words. If you really want to gauge the effectiveness of your own leadership, consider your growth, your team’s success, and your teammate’s attitudes. Those three elements will tell you what you need to know.

Express Employment Professionals

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INDICATORS OF EFFECTIVENESS 1. One of the best signs of a good leader is a slight spirit of discontent. 2. A good leader’s team will achieve success again and again. 3. Good leadership begets good leadership.

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SO C IA L M E DIA

SOCIAL MEDIA:

OLD CONCEPT,

Every marketer, business owner, and professional, regardless of industry or business model, understands the importance of word-of-mouth. After all, who better to take on the role of advocate for your business than a happy customer? Word-of-mouth is just as important as it has ever been, however, the way that today’s consumers are communicating is changing rapidly. With over 56 percent of the population using some form of social media, it is difficult to dismiss it as insignificant. While the average social media user may utilize the platform for a number of reasons, ranging from personal communication to information gathering, businesses have an opportunity to engage large audiences of potential customers in meaningful dialogue using both direct messaging and word-ofmouth style viral marketing. Think of social media as word-of-mouth or referral marketing. To utilize it fully, the goal is to influence your network of followers, customers, and fans to help spread the word about your products or services to their own network, and their network’s network, and so on. This is the true viral nature and power of social media. What makes some social media campaigns spread while others flop? It isn’t luck, but science—a science in which today’s business leaders are quickly getting an education. The key to creating social media posts and campaigns that go viral is an understanding of the psychology behind why consumers share a post or message with others. There are, of course, a number of reasons why one of your fans might hit the “share” button below your Facebook post or retweet your Twitter post and, unfortunately, it usually isn’t simply because they like your product or service, even though they may. The truth is that social media is very much about the individual user and their interests. It gives them a voice and audience with whom they may share information about themselves and tell their story in the most positive light. Today’s consumers tend to share items on their social networks that make them stand out and appear to be in the know. One way to take your marketing message viral is to tie it in with an interesting, share-worthy post that allows them to feel that they are presenting something new to their friends. For instance, “ABC Company” may

launch an “Interesting Fact of The Week” campaign on Facebook. This weekly post would present facts that most people would find surprising, interesting, or even humorous. ABC Company’s fans will want to share these posts because, in a sense, they feel that they will get the credit for presenting this interesting information. Remember, if these posts continue to be engaging, even the company’s fans’ friends may start following their page. Another reason consumers share information is to receive something in return. Simply put, offer fans a reward for sharing your page, post, or campaign, and they are more likely to do it. Oftentimes, we see contests launched that have a great message, are fun for the participants, and are giving away amazing prizes, but fail to go viral. If you want your contest to spread beyond your own network, make sure to offer participants an incentive to share it. Offering an additional entry or a coupon code for sharing your contest will yield better results than a simple request.

BRYCE MCDONALD Lifestyle Magazine

For more information on business-related social media, email bryce@dmiagency.com

Another extremely effective method of taking your marketing message viral on social media, and specifically Facebook, is by focusing on images rather than text. Studies not only show that consumers are far more likely to share an image than

The key to creating social media posts and campaigns that go viral is an understanding of the psychology behind

WHY CONSUMERS SHARE a post or message with others. a text post, but each time a fan or follower “likes” an image on Facebook, the image then appears on their own timeline and news feed. For this reason, social media savvy marketers tie in their online messaging strategies with humorous or interesting photos. With the growth in social media usage for online marketers, the boundaries are only limited by our own imaginations and creativity. By focusing in on the psychology behind social media information sharing, and by using that information to craft creative, engaging, and share-worthy campaigns, we, as marketers, can take the concept of word-ofmouth to a whole new level. BUSINESS CONNECT ION | WWW.VISALIACHAMBER.ORG

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MA R KE TIN G S T R A T E G I E S

When developing your marketing plan, one of the decisions you’ll need to make is selecting which media vehicle is right for you. Media planners typically choose more than one means avenue to effectively reach the maximum number of targeted prospects, enough times, at the lowest cost possible to effectively reach their target. KAREN TELLALIAN DMI Agency

For more information about DMI AGENCY, call (559) 739-1747 or visit dmiagency.com

Presuming you know whom your target is, and you have determined your overall budget, it’s time to evaluate what’s right for you based on the advantages of each type of medium. Below are some of the different options available. TELEVISION Television is still king and the most widely used advertising medium. Sight, sound, and movement make television more interesting to the audience. Adults (18+) watch on average four or more hours per day. Cable stations allow even more direct targeting to specific audiences based on zip code. RADIO According to a 2012 report by Arbitron (Arbitron Inc. [NYSE: ARB]) is an international media and marketing research firm), approximately 93 percent of Americans 12 years of age or older tune into broadcast radio one or more times per week with the average listener tuning in for almost 23 hours per week, many of those hours in the car while commuting.

PRINT NEWSPAPER Without a 30- or 60-second time constraint, newspaper advertising provides space for descriptive copy. Print advertising increases exposure among television/radio audiences and reinforces lighter broadcast media schedules. Readership is fairly consistent throughout the year. Ad placement enables targeting to specific target audiences such as males in Sports or females inside Living sections. PRINT MAGAZINE .Magazines have a longer shelf life, often 30 days or more. . agazines provide quality ad reproduction with M high resolution, color graphics. Average readership among the magazine audience is quite high – from 1.5 to 10 readers per magazine copy. OUTDOOR .Billboards are excellent as directional mediums (food, lodging, services). . hey are fairly inexpensive in terms of costT per-impression. Placement can be targeted by location. DIGITAL Digital is a good source for promotions, cross-promotions, and increasing customer engagement. .Digital provides a virtually unlimited audience.

Unlike other traditional mediums, radio also has the unique ability to reach listeners wherever they are: home, work or in the car. Radio listening doesn’t succumb to seasonal shifts (tuning in while driving to and from work could contribute to this) except during the noschool months where listenership rises among teens. Radio creates the ability to target specific audiences based on station format. 20

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The above advantages are certainly not all-inclusive and apply mostly when selecting advertising vehicles for mass-consumed products; media planners realize there will be some waste. For instance, when trying to reach a selective market, it might be more cost-effective to reach a total population of 10,000 expecting some waste rather than to reach a smaller, more highly-defined prospect. A media specialist will also consider the client’s creative and overall marketing goals when evaluating the vehicle’s ability to deliver your message.


Oktoberfest 2013

SAVE THE DATE:

OCTOBER 11, 2013 • RAWHIDE STADIUM BUSINESS CONNECT ION | WWW.VISALIACHAMBER.ORG

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BUSINESS FINANCE

GIL JARAMILLO Central Valley Business Incubator, Tulare/Kings Counties

FRESNO STATE UNIVERSITY FOUNDATION TO HOST SBDC PROGRAM Since 2003, Fresno State University has been a key partner with the UC Merced Small Business Development Center Regional Network (UCMSBDC). For the last three years, Fresno State contracted with the Central Valley Business Incubator (CVBI) to deliver SBDC services to small businesses within a four county area given the synergistic mission and strategic focus on job creation in the Central Valley.

Adishian-Astone, Executive Director for the Fresno

Effective June 1, 2013, Fresno State University will administer the SBDC program through its Fresno State Foundation in an effort to strengthen the programmatic relationship and resources available through its academic centers.

four-county region,” said Diane Howerton, Regional

“I would like to thank the CVBI staff and their board for the program assistance they have provided over the years. We value the partnership and ongoing relationship with the UCM- SBDC Regional Network and look forward to more success with the UCMSBDC program long into the future,” states Debbie

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State Foundation. “On behalf of the CVBI Board, we appreciate the opportunity that CVBI had to be part of the SBDC,” said Bill Barcus, CVBI Executive Board Chair. “We respect CVBI’s economic development role in the Central Valley and the successful partnership we experienced to provide small business services in the Director, UCM-SBDC Network. “We will continue providing the same service and assistance throughout the four counties as we always have,” said Gil Jaramillo, Assistant Director, Fresno State SBDC-Tulare Kings. For additional information, please contact Gil Jaramillo, SBDC Tulare Kings office at 559 625-3051 or email gijaramillo@csufresno.edu.


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EMPLOYMENT LAW

IS BIPOLAR DISORDER A PROTECTED DISABILITY UNDER THE ADA? Prior to the enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendment Act (“ADAAA”) in 2009, it was not clear whether employees with mental disabilities were protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). Since the ADAAA expanded the definition of “disability,” mental disabilities such as bipolar disorder and mental depression are now included. PATRICK MOODY Barsamian & Moody

I.n a recent case, EEOC v. Gannett Company, Inc., the EEOC alleged a media technology company fired an employee, Robin Parker-Garcia, after she returned from a medical leave for bipolar disorder. The EEOC brought a disability lawsuit against the company, alleging that during her employment Parker-Garcia exceeded expectations and was up for a promotion before she went on medical leave. . annett settled the lawsuit with the EEOC, and G agreed to pay $49,000 in compensatory damages and backpay. The company also agreed to provide disability discrimination training to its employees

for two years. The EEOC stated, “The ADA and its recent amendments have made clear that many mental disabilities are protected by federal law.” WHAT THIS MEANS FOR EMPLOYERS: . he ADAAA defines a “disability” as a physical or T mental impairment or record of impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. The regulations include emotional or mental illness. The ADAAA also clarified that a protected physical or mental impairment can be episodic in nature or in remission, and the appendix specifically cites major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia as examples. It is important that employers know that with the expansion of the definition of “disability,” the main issue in potential disability situations is whether the employer has properly engaged in the interactive process with the employee to determine if the employee can perform the essential functions of the job, with or without accommodations.

This article is for education & information purposes only; it should not be construed as legal advice. For specific legal assistance, contact Barsamian & Moody at (559) 248-2360 or toll-free at (888) 322-2573.

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TECHNOLOGY

SPAM, SPAM, SPAM SPAM is unsolicited email. SPAM senders get your email address in a number of ways: DICTIONARY ATTACK If your email address is with a major Internet provider (Gmail, AOL, Yahoo, Comcast, etc.) you want to use a long, complicated email name. Otherwise, just by combining all the likely names and letter combinations, spammers can guess your email address. Chances are both “asdf1@gmail.com” and “asdf2@gmail.com” exist. EMAIL SCRAPING Another method employed by spammers is to search common sources for email addresses. They have robots scanning web pages and following links. These address harvesting bots work a lot like the search engines’ robots. Strings with ‘@’ somewhere in the middle and a top-level domain at the end are all the spammers are interested in. Good targets are web forums, chat rooms and websites posting email contact info. TROJANS AND HACKING Automated tools scan the internet for unpatched or unprotected computers, and take control, adding them to a centrally controlled group of computers called a BOTNET. One of the things that can be done with a hacked computer is scan the local system for email contact lists. These get sold and resold to spammers. Large email databases are also attractive targets, and get hacked on occasion. GIVING AWAY YOUR ADDRESS Every time you sign up on the internet with your email address, you may be offering that address to the site for marketing and resale. Social media can be set to show your email address. You may use email in marketing material.

These addresses can be used both as a spoofed source address and a destination for spam. When your email address is used as a source, you can get non-delivery reports for email that appears to have come from you, but which you never sent. WHAT YOU CAN DO: Keep your computer secure. Have current antivirus software (this year’s version, not just automatic updates) with scheduled scans. Keep your computer fully patched with Windows and other updates. Use a firewall.

TIM TORIAN Torian Group, Inc.

Be careful about sharing your email address. Use a different email address for online accounts or marketing – separate from your primary email. If you’re uncomfortable with giving a site your address, either don’t give it, or create a temporary, disposable one for that purpose.

Filter your email. Virtually all email clients--whether local or in the cloud--have spam filters these days. Use yours, and check it regularly for false positives. Selecting a good email provider who filters out obvious spam before you get it can help. Be skeptical. Just because a message appears to come from a friend doesn’t mean it has. If there’s something odd about the message–if it doesn’t read like something they would have written, or seems overly eager to have you click a link–don’t trust it. “It costs $3,000 to rent a botnet and send out 100 million messages. It takes only 30 Viagra orders to pay for that.” - Gmail spam expert Brad Taylor.

For questions or information on computer consulting or networking, call Torian Group, Inc. at (559) 733-1940 or visit toriangroup.com.

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HR P R A C T I C E S

OBAMACARE

FOR THE “NOT-SO-LARGE” LARGE EMPLOYER Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), “Large Employers” must begin offering health care coverage to their full-time workers next year. Failure to do so will subject these employers to large fines, penalties or “Taxes.”

DAVID MILLER Pacific Employers

For information about this or similar labor law issues, call Pacific Employers at (559) 733-4256 or visit pacificemployers.com and click on “What’s New!”

What if you are a “Not-So-Large” employer but still have over 50 employees? The requirement for the health care mandate is based on 50 “full-time” workers. Full-time workers are those who average 30 or more hours per week or 130 or more hours a month and are not “seasonal employees.” Seasonal employees are those who work for 120 days or less during a calendar year.

The main office staff and the location managers and cooks are your only full-time staff and that is only 30 employees total. All the rest of the staff is part-time at less than 30 hours a week. In this circumstance, you will have no impact at all because of the way the penalty provisions in the PPACA work.

Count all full-time employees of your company who work, on average, 30 or more hours per week. If that is over 50, you are a large employer.

A large employer that does not provide health insurance will not receive a penalty on the first 30 fulltime employees.

If you have less than 50 full-time workers, but have part-time workers, you will need to count the hours worked by non-seasonal part-time workers in a four week period, divide by 120. That number is how many full-time equivalent (FTE) employees you have. If the FTE number and the full-time employee number add up to 50 or more, you are a large employer.

Part-time workers, (i.e. - those under 30 hours a week) are not included in the penalty calculations, even though they are included in the determination of whether an employer is a large employer. An employer will not pay a penalty for any part-time worker, even if that part-time worker receives a premium credit for exchange coverage.

Large employers must offer minimum essential coverage to full-time employees or pay employer mandate penalties, which will be calculated monthly. The government will tell you what those minimum requirements are and you must meet those minimum levels of “affordable” coverage. If you have less than 50 full-time and FTE combined employees, you are not subject to the PPACA law.

IF

THEN

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You may be a large employer and yet have minimal impact from the PPACA because of the makeup of your workforce. Let’s say you have several restaurants with a total of 100 employees. Your full-time employees and the FTE of your part-time employees total over 50 employees so that you are considered a large employer.

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Just to make things a little more confusing. Let’s say that during the holiday season you hire employees to work 30 hours or more a week, but they are let go at the end of the holiday season, having not worked 120 days or more. They are not included in the determination of large employer and you do not have to offer them health benefits. However, you could face a penalty for each month that any fulltime seasonal worker received a premium credit for exchange coverage.


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THE LAW @ WORK

SHARING THE OFFICE WITH DOGS & CATS: ASSISTIVE ANIMALS IN THE WORKPLACE California has long protected the rights of disabled workers; employers are required to reasonably accommodate employees with a disability. A recent state regulation was passed requiring employers to allow “assistive animals” in the workplace as a reasonable accommodation to certain disabled employees (CCR 7293.6 & 72940(k)).

BRETT T. ABBOTT Gubler & Abbott, LLP

This article is for education and information purposes only; it should not be construed as legal advice. For specific legal assistance, contact Gubler & Abbott, LLP, (559) 625-9600, or visit thecalifornialawayers.com.

These new regulations specifically permit animals other than service dogs for the visually and hearing impaired that provide “emotional or other support to a person with a disability…” The regulations do not allow employees to bring any animal to work. First, an employer may require the employee to provide medical certification from the employee’s health care provider (which, broadly defined, now includes therapists, acupuncturists, dentists, physicians, clinical social workers, nurse practitioners, midwives, chiropractors, optometrists, psychologists, and podiatrists) certifying that the employee has a disability and that explains why the assistive animal provides an accommodation. An employer may also require training, namely that the assistive animal: (1) is free from offensive odors and

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displays habits appropriate to the work environment; (2) does not engage in behavior that endangers the health or safety of the individual with a disability or others in the workplace; and (3) is trained to provide assistance for the employee’s disability. Employers must act quickly. It is only within the first two weeks that the assistive animal is reporting to the workplace that an employer is expressly permitted to challenge the animal, based on objective evidence of offensive or disruptive behavior. (It is not clear what happens if an animal becomes violent or dangerous after the first two weeks).Thereafter, the employer may (and should) require annual recertification of the employee’s continued need for the support animal. As assistive animals become more common in the workplace, employers may be confronted by potential conflict and disruptions that service animals might bring. Not only the distraction from the getting the job done, but other employees’ claims of allergies and other reactions to the animals which may then require additional accommodations. Unfortunately, it is not clear how the courts will react to these cases as there is no legal precedent.

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W OR K P L A C E SA F E T Y

Part 2: Now What Do I Do?

TERESA INGLEHART President SHRM Tulare-Kings Counties

Part One of “Citation Frustration��� gave a look at the types and severities of OSHA citations and fine adjustments by severity. We concluded- the best way to avoid a high fine? Audit your safety practices and take proactive actions necessary to improve them to prevent a citation from occurring. However, there are so many rules and regulations; it is inevitable that even the best program may not be perfect in OSHA’s eyes. Here are some tips on how to handle an OSHA Citation: 1. Always respond to the Pre-Citation form

For more information on HR-related issues, email teresa@tmistrategic.com or call (559)651-2925

AB 2774 requires an OSHA inspector to provide an employer with a form notifying them of the alleged violation descriptions and soliciting information to identify these factors at least 15 days prior to the citation being issued. This is the employer’s chance to defend themselves and provide documentation to OSHA that will assist in reducing the citation, or possibly even prevent the citation from being issued all together. If you do not respond you fail to offer up a defense and the citations will proceed as listed. This defense/response may include such documentation or information regarding: safety program, training documents, procedures for reporting and correcting hazards, procedures in communicating safety and health concerns with employees, or supervision of exposed hazards. Key to the rebuttal: Provide the employer’s “reasonable and responsible” efforts to prevent the violation.

The goal is not to put you out of business, but to keep your employees safe. 2. Key Factors in Responding & Rebutting a Citation To state your case, you must be able to establish: Preventive Actions- What did the employer do to prevent the hazard or accident from happening? This includes documents such as employee training, safety programs and procedures, safety audits, site walk thru, hazard reporting procedures and tailgate meetings. The question here- did you do everything “reasonable and responsible” to prevent the hazard from occurring? 30

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Lack of Knowledge- The worst citation is that adjusted by negligence. Did the employer know of the hazard when an injury occurred? Although employers can do everything in their control to prevent hazards, it is the responsibility of employees to follow procedures and report hazards. If there is no other way for the employer to know hazards exists, this reduces the employer’s responsibility. It DOES NOT get them off the hook. However, the lack of knowledge of conditions leading up to the hazard can help in considering if the employer did everything “reasonable and responsible” to prevent the hazard, violation, or accident. Be careful when addressing this issue- you don’t want to be out of touch and have a lack of knowledge. This is addressing a situation which the employer does not have reasonable control over the knowledge of the conditions. Correctible Action- It is important to note the efforts the employer put forth in making sure that the hazard is not only identified, but it contained and reduced from further incident. The response should note all changes made and how the changes were communicated with employees. This may include additional warning signs, new procedures, additional training, or consultation from a safety professional on how to improve their program. This should address that any flaws in the employer’s obligation to be “reasonable and responsible” are now being addressed. 3. Closing Arguments Although documentation and prevention is best, you have the right to fight for your business- especially when fines could make or break your company. The standard of “reasonable and responsible” is objective. A safety specialist or OSHA inspector may not know the ins and outs of what you do- so don’t hesitate to explain processes and situations that may limit your control over the above factors. Use your knowledge and opinions to argue as to why and how you have met your obligations, despite any proof of doing so. This could include current processes, why other processes are unreasonable, company culture and attitude toward safety, and every other effort made to keep employees safe that may not have been covered in the three key areas above. Although it may not feel like it, when OSHA is knocking at the door, the goal is not to put you out of business, but to keep your employees safe. Make safety a number one priority and you may find that your obligations to be “reasonable and responsible” in keeping your employees safe will be easily met.


NO RUN OF THE MILL HEALTH INSURANCE PROVIDER

BY NICOLA WISSLER

Cigna is a global health service company dedicated to helping people improve their health, well-being and sense of security. They are also a company that is dedicated to helping their local community. They are committed to improving the community one customer and employee at a time. I recently sat down with Karen Baker, local manager at CIGNA, who expressed that CIGNA is a fantastic place to work with many client services and employee benefits that also benefit the community. Background: CIGNA has been in Visalia since 1984, and currently employs more than 600 people in the Visalia Service Center, located on Tulare Ave. CIGNA provides medical and dental health plans for everyone from Fortune 100 multinational companies to mom and pop businesses – and all types of employers in between. CIGNA recognizes that their clients want to have healthy employees; to decrease absenteeism and increase “presentee-ism.” CIGNA understands that health care costs continue to increase, and they try to provide long-term affordabile options through a variety of products and services. By helping employees improve their health, client companies improve their productivity and reduce long-term costs. Something most people don’t know is that over the past few years CIGNA has changed it focus. They have moved away from just processing claims, and have redirected their focus to improving people’s health and productivity. They are able to do this by analyzing individual claims and identifying potential health risks even before someone goes to their doctor. CIGNA provides health coaching for customers and their employees/families. Some of the

available health coaches include – nurses, clinician and dieticians who help individuals to lose weight or change bad health habits. A few other things that make CIGNA a unique company are some of the benefits they provide to their employees. Because the CIGNA call center is open 24 hours a day, they allow many of their employees the flexibility to work from home. This not only reduces their overhead cost it also allows for employees to balance their work and home life. Another interesting benefit is that all employees of CIGNA are given eight hours of paid volunteer time per year. This means that CIGNA employees can be involved in their local community without having to use vacation time or take unpaid time off. CIGNA has partnered with the following organizations in the past: United Way of Tulare County, the SPCA, Valley Children’s Hospital, the March of Dimes and Relay for Life. Baker is now responsible for the volunteer activities for the Visalia Service Center and her goal is for every single CIGNA employee to take advantage of the paid volunteer time. This could result in more than 4800 hours of volunteer time spent in the local community. Baker is looking for local nonprofit organizations to partner with, and be added to the approved list of charities that CIGNA employees can volunteer with. If you know of an organization needing volunteers, please contact Baker at Karen.Baker@CIGNA.com or call 559-735-8367. It is clear CIGNA is not just a run of the mill Health Insurance provider. CIGNA is a company that believes in giving back to their community by providing new services to their clients as well as additional benefits to their employees.

KEYS TO CIGNA’S SUCCESS 1. Always available. Call centers are open 24/7/365. 2. Supportive. No matter what is needed, resources and personal attention provided to help client employees manage their condition. 3. The customer is in control. Reach out to customers to nip problems in the bud: Help customers choose the best doctors, hospitals and prices.

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BUSINESS CONNECT ION | WWW.VISALIACHAMBER.ORG

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Each year, the Chamber’s leadership team reviews the results of our programs, asks our members to give us feedback on how we’re doing, and determines how our resources will be allocated in the coming year to better meet the needs of our members. This process allows us to ensure we’re working on those issues that most impact the success of business in Visalia.

Evaluating Our Performance

COMPARED TO THE DUES YOU PAY, HOW MUCH VALUE DO YOU GET FROM THE CHAMBER?

The first step in this process involves us asking members what they want us to be focused on and how we are doing on those issues. The Chamber received positive reviews from our members, but as always, we also received great feedback which will help us to continue improving our performance.

11% DOUBLE

Planning for the Future

11%

Based on the feedback which we have received from our members and leaders, the Visalia Chamber will focus on three major areas of emphasis during FY2014 which will collectively enhance the return on investment we provide to our members and sponsors. Our strategies for this year focus in the areas of: • Membership growth • Advocacy • Economic Development

MORE THAN DOUBLE

20% LESS

THAN DUES

54% EQUAL

Membership

TO DUES

After several years of declining membership numbers, due primarily on the economic struggle local business has gone through, we believe that this is the year we can turn the tables and begin growing again. The Chamber is committed to a goal this year of ensuring we experience no net loss in membership. We are also committed to improving our member service by expanding the frequency and quality of our outreach efforts.

33%

VERY RELEVANT

To achieve these results, we will: •

• •

• •

• •

34

Create a marketing and branding campaign designed to increase public awareness of which businesses are members, and to encourage support for these businesses in recognition of their “investment” in the community. Establish an “account manager” system to ensure effective customer service and benefit fulfillment. Improve operations of the Chamber’s Ambassador team through increased education, better communicated expectations, and a higher level of engagement in activities like mentoring new members, promoting Chamber events to members, etc. Launch a new Business Showcase event. Continue to work with small groups on networking and business development opportunities (e.g. young professionals, retailers, etc.). Continue to publish our monthly newsletter, Chamber Update, and our weekly E-News series. Expand member surveys and polls to ensure we’re on track with our members expectations. B US I N E S S C O N N E CTIO N | WWW.VISALIACHAMBER.ORG

46%

SOMEWHAT RELEVANT

21%

LIMITED RELEVANCE

HOW IS THE CHAMBER TO YOUR BUSINESS?


DESIRED FOCUS AREA & PERFORMANCE

Advocacy

Economic Development

One of the key values the Chamber can provide to individual businesses is in improving our effectiveness as the “voice of business” relative to both local policy/governance issues and state legislative proposals. The Chamber is also committed to being a leader in regional advocacy partnerships.

While the economy appears to be slowly recovering some of its strength, the need for more and better jobs continues to be a key issue in our community and others. The Chamber is committed to addressing this need through programs that focus on supporting entrepreneurs who want to start new businesses and that position the Chamber as the primary resource for businesses needing information about best practices, new business ideas, or businessrelated community data.

To improve our advocacy efforts, we will: • • • •

Update the policy platform used by the Government Affairs Committee as a guideline for responding to local issues. Establish a Legislative Review process, with procedures allowing for rapid response decisions. Add additional advocacy tools to the Chamber’s website. Host candidate forums in Fall 2013 for the City Council and School Board races, and publish a “Business Friendly Scorecard” rating candidates on issues important to jobs and the economic health of our community. Continue to host joint advocacy and/or policy education events with neighboring Chambers and participate in Central California regional advocacy efforts. Conduct at least one Business Walk to visit local businesses and find out directly what they need help with or are concerned about at this time.

Working with our members and local partners, we will: • •

• •

Launch the Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) and operate it’s first year successfully. Work with the City, SBDC, and other potential partners to explore the possibility of launching a business incubator for Visalia. Continue to offer a broad menu of both “quick and simple” locally sourced workshops as well as nationally branded trainings. Continue to publish the quarterly Business Connection magazine. Continue to add content and functions to the Chamber’s website that increase member traffic and usage. BUSINESS CONNECT ION | WWW.VISALIACHAMBER.ORG

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PROVOST & PRITCHARD CONSULTING GROUP (559) 636-1166

www.ppeng.com

31 YEARS MICHAEL K. GUNNING, C.P.A.

(559) 733-1505 23 YEARS

POTTER’S PORTA-POTTIES (559) 594-4322

www.aaaqsinc.com/portable.html 16 YEARS LITTLE ITALY RESTAURANT

(559) 734-2906 14 YEARS

VALLEY YELLOW PAGES (661) 836-8888

www.valleyyellowpages.com 12 YEARS QUAIL PARK RETIREMENT VILLAGE (559) 624-3500

www.quailparkofvisalia.com

2 YEARS AIR SUN SOLAR (559) 747-0111

www.airsunsolar.com 1 YEAR LE BOULEVARD

559-741-1247

DETAILS PARTY RENTALS & SALES (559) 685-8810

www.detailspartyrentals.com

SURF THRU EXPRESS CAR WASH (559) 738-8771

www.surfthruexpress.com

TRANSITIONS CHILDREN’S SERVICES (559) 222-5437

transitionschildrensservices.org CRESCENT VALLEY PUBLIC CHARTER (559) 741-9188

11 YEARS

http:/www.cvcharter.org

MCKELLAR FARMS (559) 798-0557

MAY 2 013

www.familyfarmfresh.com

27 YEARS

9 YEARS

www.awardsandsignsunlimited.com

BRYAN COMPANY (559) 732-3516

www.bryancompanydemolition.com KEY WEST CLEANERS (559) 734-5800

CABRILLO CIVIC CLUB #12 (559) 688-4558

www.cabrillocivicclubs.com

VISALIA NO.1, ACA GEN. PARTNERSHIP

6 YEARS

www.cos.edu 3 YEARS

SELECT BUSINESS SYSTEMS (559) 446-0123

www.1select1.com

WM/ WASTE MANAGEMENT (559) 741-1766

www.wm.com 1 YEAR

PECK PLANNING & DEVELOPMENT LLC

J U N E 2 013

www.smithauto.com

BRYSON CANCER CARE, INC. (559) 622-0100

www.brysoncancercare.com DMI AGENCY (559) 739-1747

www.v1ag.com

SIZZLER (559) 625-1290

www.sizzler.com 13 YEARS THE BARN

www.dmiagency.com

(559) 594-9157

6 YEARS

10 YEARS

FARMERSVILLE UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT (559) 592-2010

AL BENOY INSURANCE SERVICES (559) 734-4288

www.farmersvillek12.ca.us LA QUINTA INN (559) 739-9800

www.lq.com 36

www.benoyinsurance.com

UNION BANK OF CALIFORNIA (559) 739-2530

www.uboc.com

B US I N E S S C O N N E CTIO N | WWW.VISALIACHAMBER.ORG

(559) 625-6000

COLLEGE OF THE SEQUOIAS (559) 730-3731

FRED RUIZ (559) 591-5510

VISALIA FIRST ASSEMBLY (559) 733-9070 x104

MUTUAL SECURITIES INTERNATIONAL AGRI CENTER (559) 688-1030

MERIDIAN CENTER FOR WELLNESS (559) 636-6430

SMITH AUTO PARTS (559) 734-1526

www.arpif.com

(559) 435-1756

www.ppeast.com

8 YEARS

www.roydresselphoto.com AR GROUP (559) 734-4462

18 YEARS

16 YEARS

ROY DRESSEL PHOTOGRAPHY (559) 734-2110

5 YEARS

9 YEARS

www.meridiancenterforwellness.com

8 YEARS

7 YEARS

CARROLL’S TIRE WAREHOUSE (559) 733-5040

www.elmontery.com

AWARDS & SIGNS UNLIMITED (559) 734-4003

www.KeyWest.com

TORIAN GROUP, INC. (559) 733-1940

carrollstirewarehouse.com

www.dennys.com 9 YEARS

(559) 731-5778

www.toriangroup.com

DENNY’S (559) 636-3160

VISALIA IMAGING & OPEN MRI (559) 734-5674

www.visaliaopenmri.com

APR I L 2 013

11 YEARS

PRIORITY PAYMENT EAST (888) 793-0313

48 YEARS KAWEAH DELTA HEALTH CARE DISTRICT (559) 624-2000

www.kaweahdelta.org 28 YEARS

KFSN - TV CHANNEL 30 (559) 442-1170

abclocal.go.com/kfsn/ 14 YEARS

KAWNEER COMPANY, INC. (559) 651-4000

www.kawneer.com

www.internationalagricenter.org HAMPTON INN (559) 732-3900

visalia.hamptoninn.com 5 YEARS TOKYO GARDENS (559) 625-0638

tokoyogardenvisalia.com 3 YEARS KEITH WILLIAMS DDS (559) 734-6492

www.visaliasmiles.com 2 YEARS

KLINK CITRUS ASSOCIATION

(559) 798-2120

INTEGRATED CARE SYSTEMS (559) 734-2896

www.icshomecare.com

HABITAT FOR HUMANITY OF TULARE COUNTY (559) 734-4040

www.hfhtc.org

JJ BLOOMS FLORAL DESIGN & EVENT PLANNING (559) 287-3678

www.wwwjjblooms.com 1 YEAR

COUNTY OF TULARE (559) 636-5000

www.tularecounty.ca.us

13 YEARS

A-PLUS SIGNS/MEGA-PRINTS (559) 275-0700

SECURITY SELF-STORAGE (559) 625-1015

VINCENT SALINAS

www.visaliasecurityselfstorage.com

www.a-plussigns.com (559) 905-4469

GOLDEN GATE MEDIA GROUP

(310) 872-7395


5325 W Clinton Ave Fresno CA 93722 559-892-6168 Bounceusa.org

HOME HEALTH CARE & HOSPICE

AGRICULTURE SERVICES KOETSIER DAIRY Ron Koetsier 6901 Ave 280 Visalia CA 93277 559-651-0950

CONTRACTORS DEMOLITION/EXCAVATION PAM WISE DEMO Pam Wise Home Based Business Visalia CA 93292 559-732-7333 Peoplescare.com

CHURCHES THE ROCK CHRISTIAN FAMILY CHURCH Patrick Lozano 345 E Tulare Ave Visalia CA 93277 559-636-8733 Rockvisalia.org

DENTISTS

CONSULTINGMANAGEMENT/PERSONNEL

EMPLOYMENT SERVICES

VISALIA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

TRUE LEGACY CONSULTING Steven McCartha 401 N Church Street Visalia, CA 93291 559-997-6242 Truelegacyconsulting.com

LEADS GROUP LE TIP OF TULARE COUNTY Carrie Diltz Home Based Business Visalia CA 93291 559-300-7015

BRIGHT NOW! DENTAL Noemi Mejorado 5344 W Cypress Ave Ste 101 Visalia CA 93277 559-635-4391 Brightnowdental.com

OWENS VALLEY CAREER DEVELOPMENT CENTER Regina Gaebe 2370 W Whitendale Visalia CA 93277 559-738-8248 Ovcdc.com

PRESIDENT SPONSORS

PEOPLE’S CARE Lori Witt 909 W Murray Ave Visalia CA 93291 559-840-5821 Peroplescare.com

MEDICAL DIAGNOSTIC IMAGING, SUPPLIES, & EQUIPMENT CALIFORNIA MEDICAL IMAGING ASSOCIATES Apriyl Benigno 3610 W Packwood Ave Visalia CA 93277 559-713-6050 Calrads.com

NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATION BOUNCE INC Randall Watts

CALIFORNIA USA WRESTLING INC Rob Valerio 5325 W Clinton Ave Fresno CA 93722 559-275-9478 Ca-usaw.org

REAL ESTATE

WATHEN CASTANOS HYBRID HOMES, INC. Kristina Pickering 802 W Pinedale Ave Ste 104 Fresno CA 93711 559-432-8181 WCHomes.com Wathen Castanos Hybrid Homes is a local home builder and is the leader in the home building industry winning nation awards for their design, quality of craftsmanship and energy efficiency.

E X E C U T I V E SPONSORS

D I R E C T O R SPONSORS

I N V E S T O R SPONSORS Accredited By

The Joint Commission

BEN-E-ELECT • CENTRAL VALLEY COMMUNITY BANK • CIGNA EDUCATIONAL EMPLOYEE CREDIT UNION • LAMP LITER INN REDWOOD SPRINGS HEALTH CARE CENTER • VISALIA MEDICAL CLINIC

THANK YOU! BUSINESS CONNECT ION | WWW.VISALIACHAMBER.ORG

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Discover Cuba SLIDE SHOW PRESENTATION JULY 9TH 12P – 1P AT THE CHAMBER OFFICE Includes airfare, first-class accommodations, 16 meals, Cuban travel visa & health insurance.

February 9 - 16, 2014 For more information on the Chamber’s tours please call Nicola Wissler at 559.734.5876 or go to www.visaliachamber.org Grand Circle Cruise Line CST#2041626-40

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Visalia Chamber's Business Connection, Volume 2, Issue 1 (Summer 2013)