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volume six issue eight

FiFth n C O V E R








Bryce McGillivray Creative Director Fifth and Ninth

KEY C o n t r a c t o r s ’


2017 Ocean State Business Expo | volume six issue eight


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Gil Lantini Founder Ralph Coppolino Co-Founder Mike Casale Senior Designer Web/Graphic Design Team Angela Babetski Amanda Bogardus Kristin Darcy Talia Fappiano Ben Laudicano Megan Cullinan-Newton Contributing Writers Michael Brito C. Alexander Chiulli Ted Donnelly Bradley Fowler Larry Girouard Travis Landry Susan Lataille Bryan B Mason William F. Miller Kristin MacRae Aileen McDonough Gina M. Raimondo Dr. Ronald G. Shapiro Amelia Votta Kristen M. Whittle

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©2017 Integrated Media Group D/B/A Rhode Island Small Business Journal ©MMXIII Rhode Island Small Business Journal | volume six issue eight


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volume six issue eight



6 Elvira’s Gift For Hope Foundation 7 10 Organizing and Efficiency Tips 8 Succession Planning 11 Contractors’ Key To Customer Satisfaction 12 The Route To Small Business Prosperity


13 Our Road Contracting DBE 15 Professional Growth Monthly Activities


16 Fifth and Ninth: Cover Story 18 2017 Ocean State Business Expo 22 Right And Obligations Of Shareholders

ON THE COVER volume six issue eight

24 Personnel Practices: Social Media Update

FiFth n C O V E R






26 Dissolving An Estate?



Bryce McGillivray Creative Director Fifth and Ninth

29 Rhode Island Business Plan Competition


KEY C o n t r a c t o r s ’


2017 Ocean State Business Expo

Featured Fifth and Ninth: Leading The Way Special Edition: Ocean State Small Business Expo

26 | volume six issue eight



Elvira’s Gift For Hope Foundation

The 3rd Annual Breast Cancer Fundraiser at Twelves Acres was a huge success! We raised over $6000 and we had activities for all ages!! There wer fun activities such as a bouncy house, face painting and a balloon man. Also at the event were lots of great raffles, including a 50/50 raffle. Such items raffled included a Julian Edelman autographed jersey, a 2 night stay at The Spring House Hotel on Block Island and so much more. There was music from The DJ Map, which happens to be the husband of Elivra, who is the event coordinator. Lastly, the


RISBJ | rhode island small business journal

foundation was on Channel 10 Weekend Sunrise with Mario Hilario. Congressman Cicilline was also supportive with the foundation and event. Our next event will be WINE GLASS PAINTING NIGHT being held on Tuesday, October 17th at Escada Bar in Johnston, RI starting at 6:30pm! More details to come! Contact Elvira Protano at 401-787-5638 for more information or to attend the next event.


10 Organizing and Efficiency Tips For Small Business Owners | SMALL BUSINESS

organizing & efficiency tips for

small business owners

by Kristin M. MacRae

Here are 10 tips to help you get on your way.


Systemize your entire office. You should have a process and procedure for everything that you do on a daily basis. Systemizing your office will allow you to have structure; in turn you’ll become more efficient. Once you create systems and work with them for a while, think about how you can streamline the systems and take them from 10 steps to 5.


Hire an organized support staff.

It’s imperative that you have administrative assistants that are organized. You could be the most disorganized person, but if you have an organized and efficient assistant, he/she will make your work life much easier.


Organize your drawers & supplies. I know some of you are saying, it’s silly, big deal it’s a drawer, but you wouldn’t believe how much time you’ll save by having an organized drawer and organized supplies. Think about how much time you waste throughout the day searching for things. This time adds up and it can amount to hours at the end of the week. It will save you time and stress. Organize your supplies.


Streamline your workspace. This

includes your desk, the walls, your computer, bookshelves, etc. You can’t become efficient and productive if your desk is a chaotic mess. Working with a bulletin board? When was the last time you took everything off of it and evaluated what’s on it? Stickie notes attached to all areas of the wall and desk? It’s time to think about how you can make this work better for you.


RISBJ | rhode island small business journal

Whether you’re a new business owner or you’ve been in business for years, everybody can use these tips. When a business is disorganized, there are important qualities that are lacking. If you continue to operate this way, you’ll feel the effects from it. It won’t take long to notice you’re in a downward spiral, losing time, money and clients due to your disorganization.


Have a process to handle paper.

People think because we’re in this digital world that all of our paper issues will be solved. Wrong. Paper is more of a problem now than it’s ever been. Just because you’re digital doesn’t mean that paper is going to disappear. You have to create a process and systems to contain every piece of paper that arrives in your office. Create a streamlined system for paper and maintain it and you’ll never have an issue with paper.


Have a process to handle email. The

same goes for emails. People are inundated with emails. Some have over thousands of emails in their inboxes. Your inbox should only be used as a to-do list of things you’re working on or waiting for. Utilize folders, unsubscribe when you can, and delete the non-important information. Print out what you can to remind you to do things and release the mental clutter.


Organize your business cards. This is

a problem for so many people. There are many great systems out there to organize your business cards. Find a system that works for you and maintain it. How many times have you ever gone to actually look for a card that’s in the bottom of a pile? Take inventory, toss, keep and create a system so you can grab at a moment’s notice.


works for you. There’s nothing wrong with paper and sometimes it’s more efficient than digital.


Archive information on a yearly basis. Be sure at the end of every

year, you’re going through your file cabinets and archiving information to make way for the New Year. Decide whether you need to toss, shred, or file away in a weather resistant plastic tote. Start the New Year on the right foot.


Work on time management.

I saved this one for last. Although, it’s the biggest issue because everybody is looking for more free time in their day! Understand that you can’t work on your time management skills until you physically get organized and put working organized systems in place. Work on all of the above and you’ll find that your time management skills will start to fall in line. Work on one area at a time and continue to move throughout the office. You’ll find you’ll be less stressed, have more energy, more free time, more money and above all, your clients will have more confidence in you. Kristin M. MacRae Organizing & Efficiency Expert Owner, Organizing In RI, LLC

Work with a calendar & to-do lists. Working with these will

release mental clutter. Whether you choose to use paper or electronics it’s up to you. Don’t be peer pressured into going digital if you don’t think it | volume six issue eight


LEDs installed inside and LEDs installed inside and out, 70% of costs covered, out, 70% of costs covered, curb appeal increases too. curb appeal increases too. See how far your budget can go toward new energy saving equipment. See how far your budget can go toward new energy saving equipment. That’s business on the grid. That’s business on the grid.

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Succession Planning For Small Business Owners | SMALL BUSINESS


Most business owners want to grow their business and maybe even pass it on to the next generation. But how many owners actually succeed? Relatively few, as it turns out. Studies show only a third of family firms make it to second generation and just a sliver get passed onto the third generation.* A key reason for this is that many companies lack proper succession plans. Consider the situation your family, employees and company would be in if something unexpected were to happen to you. What would happen to your business? Would it stay in the family? Could it realistically stay solvent without you at the helm? Or would it be sold? And then there’s the million-dollar question: Do you even know what your business is worth? The answers to these questions may not be as straightforward as you imagined. That’s why you should start planning now even if you don’t intend on leaving the business for years to come. So what options are available? If and when you exit your business, there are four possible successors: family members, co-owners, key employees or an outside third party. That brings us to a succession action plan and exactly what that entails. First, select your successor(s); it may require

careful analysis. Next, determine your business valuation; bear in mind when a business is sold to family members, the transaction draws extra scrutiny from the IRS. Lastly, develop a plan to transfer your business interest quickly to minimize operational disruptions.


by Ted Donnelly

Once you identify your successor(s), you must make sure that the individual(s) are in a position to take over the company — and ensure a smooth transition by outlining the terms of succession in advance. A buy-sell agreement will work differently depending on the type of business entity and the number of owners. Each type of agreement helps

create a smooth process for transferring ownership of the business. The buyer can purchase a life insurance policy to help make sure they have available funds to purchase the business when the time comes. Additionally, a buy-sell agreement helps show creditors and customers that your business is more sustainable because you are taking action to mitigate risk. *Source: Molly, V., Laveren, E., and Deloof, M. (2010) Family Business Succession and Its Impact on Financial Structure and Performance. Family Business Review, Vol 23 (2) 131-147 Neither New York Life Insurance Company nor its Agents or affiliates provide tax or legal advice. Consult your legal or tax advisor to find out whether the concepts in this essay apply to your personal circumstances. This educational third-party article is provided as a courtesy by Ted Donnelly, Agent, New York Life Insurance Company. To learn more about the information or topics discussed, please contact Ted Donnellyat 401-276-8728 or

Edward F. Donnelly III “Ted” Financial Services Professional Agent, New York Life Insurance Company | volume six issue eight



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Contractors’ Key To Customer Satisfaction | SMALL BUSINESS

Contractors’ Key T O

C U S T O M E R by Bryan B Mason

For contractors, what do you think is the biggest factor in having highly satisfied customers? Research I have done on behalf of my clients, including taking customer surveys, reveals it is having the contractor start when they said and finish when they said, preferably without interruption. Customers hate renovation. They want it to happen by magic. They don’t want to wait (who does?) and they don’t want their lives interrupted and of course, they don’t want the mess. Watch Property Brothers and listen to the complaints and shrieks of horror at the very idea of renovating a home. You would think that customers themselves were doing the work. So the million dollar question is how does a contractor start and complete projects consistently on time? For the many contractors, plumbers, painters, electricians, woodworkers, cabinet makers, flooring contractors, fabricators and specialty manufacturers I have worked with, the answer is obvious. They need to be able to estimate each of their jobs accurately and they need to be able to assemble all of their jobs into a comprehensive and realistic schedule. Unfortunately, neither of these is that simple to do well. In order to properly estimate how much of each resource you need for a specific job, you need to break down all of the tasks to be performed and know how long each task takes and what level of skill is required. And don’t tell me you have been doing this since the invention of the wheel and you have it covered. I haven’t had a single client yet that did not see big improvements in accuracy (and incidentally in profit) with the methodical approach to estimating that I helped them with. They key is collecting the right kind of information from each contract and making effective use of that data in the estimating process.

S A T I S F A C T I O N are going to be able to start any new work and when you will be able to complete it. This is not so easy, and I have rarely had a client that even tried to tell me that he had this covered. Working with your detailed estimates, you know what skills you need and how many hours of each. Next, you need to understand the availability of all of your own workers (hours, days they work, vacation schedules, etc.). Then sequence the tasks that have to be performed being fully aware of the order that things have to be done in, dependencies between tasks, the dependencies on any other trades working on the same job(s) and lead times in getting all materials. Now, allowing for some sick time, delays in getting materials, and delays caused by shifting schedules of other trades, you build a schedule. A realistic schedule usually looks like you are allowing too much elapsed time. If it does not look this way, it is not a good schedule. You know that you always have at least five things that go wrong but you just don’t know which five things. So leave the time! You need to constantly update the schedule so you can make full use of your resources (in order to be profitable) and still get the jobs done on time. When you do that, you will have fulfilled the most important single customer satisfier. Mr. Mason founded the Apollo Consulting Group in 2008 to help small and mid-sized companies in solving their challenges. Mr. Mason brings over thirty years of corporate, consulting and entrepreneurial experience in a variety of industries. He possess skills in general business management, analysis, strategy development, marketing, finance/ budgeting, operations, pricing optimization, workflow optimization, process reengineering, project management, and information technology. Mr. Mason has two degrees in Economics and was a Volunteer Mentor for the Rhode Island Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (RI-CIE). He writes a weekly blog on his company website at

Bryan B Mason

Principal The Apollo Consulting Group LLC

The next step is to develop an all inclusive project schedule so you have a good idea of when you | volume six issue eight


SMALL BUSINESS | The Route To Small Business Prosperity

The Route to small business prosperity Opportunities abound to better help Rhode Island’s small businesses grow, according to an analysis commissioned by the Rhode Island Foundation. The “Next Street” study includes research and recommendations related to what’s working and what must work better in order for the state’s small businesses to thrive. “Economic security is one of our strategic priorities. Like you, we want to see a strong local economy that enables all Rhode Islanders to prosper. That is why we invested in this analysis of the supports available to small businesses in Rhode Island,” said Neil D. Steinberg, the Foundation’s president and CEO. The comprehensive analysis of the state’s small business ecosystem is based on a thorough review of available data and interviews with more than 80 service and capital providers, public and private sector leaders and small business owners. “We’re really deliberate about using the word ecosystem, because we believe that’s what this is: a community of interacting entities and their ever-evolving environment,” said Steinberg. Next Street identified several promising areas, including making it making it easier for business owners to navigate available services and capital. “To grow successfully and sustainably, different kinds of businesses need different kinds of support at different times. We believe our primary value is to help build a strong ecosystem — a robust and supporting environment that helps enterprising Rhode Islanders start and grow businesses,” Steinberg said. Scaling and strengthening service and capital models that are working is a second critical area identified in the report.


RISBJ | rhode island small business journal

“While we do not directly provide on the ground services or capital to businesses, we can provide support for a base of information, seed new opportunities and engage the community,” he said. A third area of opportunity is ensuring that the specific needs of manufacturers, food businesses, and businesses owned by people of color are met. “A resilient business ecosystem attracts investment and diverse talent. Shaped by the factors beyond what any individual entity controls, it is nimble and responsive. The synergies that result from clusters of activity, investment and people have exponential results for businesses and the broader economy,” said Steinberg. He urges the small business sector to review the analysis and share their feedback and insights. The study is posted at “We look forward to continuing the conversation with you. We all need to be really smart about building this ecosystem; we do not have time or resources to lose,” he said. “Together, we can we support Rhode Island’s economy, communities and people.” The Rhode Island Foundation is the largest and most comprehensive funder of nonprofit organizations in Rhode Island. In 2016, the Foundation awarded a record $45 million in grants to organizations addressing the state’s most pressing issues and needs of diverse communities. Through leadership, fundraising and grantmaking activities, often in partnership with individuals and organizations, the Foundation is helping Rhode Island reach its true potential.

For more information visit




by Mike Brito With the temperature dropping our outdoor operations will soon be slowing down; why is this important? Because just like our squirrel friends, we must be sure to have our “nuts” stored away for another winter! While squirrels are concerned with literal nuts we as road construction DBE owners, have a much larger area of concern…all phases of our business. Some of us have departments with appropriate leaders that take on these seasonal responsibilities as a matter of job description however there are a larger majority of us that manage all departments alone, this is a daunting task to say the least albeit not impossible! With proper forecast and diligent attention to detail we are more than capable of handling the largest of project slow-downs as well as complete shut-downs of site and road jobs during the winter months! When we plan for a project suspension there are certain procedures that make the process much easier for all parties involved that will insure a safe environment where the general public may have access and winter maintenance such as snow removal may be taking place during our absence. We must conduct a complete review of all areas such as (but not limited to) pavement surfaces, shoulders of roadways, erosion control devices, drainage receptacles, signs along with temporary pavement markings and utility access such as hydrants or gas and electric utility controls. We all know that steel plates should never be left in roadways throughout the winter months; snow plow drivers aren’t a fan of them! Any and all patches should be adjusted to meet surrounding surfaces. Manholes, gas and water valve boxes should also be reviewed to be sure these are equally level with surrounding grades. If at all possible, any cold milled surfaces should be paved or at least extend a taper to 20 feet allowing for a smoother transition to permanent pavement. Check all road shoulders to be sure melting snow and rain have a place to go, ponding and re-freezing can not be allowed! There should be no stored materials along roadways such as pipe, signage, spoil piles or construction debris. Absolutely no equipment should be left within the clear zone over the winter. This includes message boards, arrow boards

and trailers. Be sure that any concrete barriers are far enough back to allow for adequate snow accumulation. All erosion control devices should be accessible and well secured. When the ground freezes adjusting these can be nearly impossible and adding more can be ill affected. Any drainage ditches should be free running and culverts cleaned. Closed drainage sections should be secured to prevent access by children. Provide temporary drainage if needed especially if this is a portion of the future contract. Work zone signage should be reviewed. All temporary signage should be removed or securely covered (with wind-proof material) and monitored throughout the season. All regulatory signs (stop, yield, no passing, speed limit, etc) should be installed at the proper locations and heights prior to project suspension. If you have established and must maintain an active detour, be sure to establish and maintain such signage and control throughout the shutdown. If you require any striping to provide a safe roadway be sure to get these control items done sooner rather than later. Some equally important concerns: Check all side roads and mailbox access (think snow!) you may have to make temporary accommodation there. Remember that aggregate and cold bituminous materials heave and become dislodged so install permanent patch where possible. If necessary meet with the assigned engineer to achieve correct measures. Documentation as well as photographs are a must! review any special items that are unique to your project and be sure to take corrective measures before an issue arises. As contractors we are always responsible for our job site however and more especially we are responsible for the safety of the general public that possesses the right of passage to pass in a sure and safe manner! I encourage you to do your part (even if it hurts) to leave the job for the winter as if your Mom would have to pass through! See you on the job!

Mike Brito Managing The Road Ahead (401) 952.5892 | volume six issue eight




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Monthly Activities: Corporate Outings | PROFESSIONAL GROWTH

Professional Growth Monthly Activities Corporate Outings by Dr. Ronald G. Shapiro, PhD

Why are you sponsoring a corporate outing such as a holiday party? Think about the reasons so that the event that will meet your objectives and be appreciated by your team. Are you sponsoring the party to: • • • • •

Encourage members of your team to interact more with one another? Say “thank you” for your support during the year? Have employee’s family members get to know one another? Build company loyalty? Make great photos for the company website?

Alternatively, you may be sponsoring the event just because you have always done it! In this case, you may wish to think about a different strategy this year. Do your employees think “I’m looking forward to the event” or “I have to go to the event?” If they are thinking they have to go, changes may be in order. A corporate outing can be costly in terms of both dollars and employee time. Thus, you want to maximize your investment. Start by writing down your objectives for the event and reviewing them a few times. Ask your team members to do the same. Then, assemble a committee of employees to translate the objectives into a meaningful plan which will fall within the corporate budget. Start planning as soon as possible so that you can book the most desirable venues and vendors, and order party items which may not be available close to the holidays. Once the plan is complete, think about each of your team members and ask yourself if they will enjoy the event or fell like they have to be there. Revise plans accordingly. Below are some ideas for different types of gatherings. For some small groups a sit down dinner at a nice restaurant may be the perfect setting for your outing. For teams who are interested in athletics, a day climbing rocks or engaging in or watching another type of athletic event or an escape house may

be perfect. Just be sure no one feels pressured or alienated by the event. For moderate to large teams whose members do not know each other, you may want people to get to know each other. In this case, a sit down meal will not help you fulfill your objectives. People will only get to speak with a few others and also may feel uncomfortable sitting next to someone they don’t know for a long period of time. Instead, consider having mini-buffets with several serving stations, each offering a different type of food. Offer small plates and stand up tables if your attendees are physically able so that they will move around and talk to one another. If you need to offer sit down tables, encourage people to move around each time they return from the buffet. If you are offering music, keep it very quiet and background to set a mood for conversation. If you would like to further encourage people to get to know one another you consider including a round or two of “Networking Bingo” as one of your outing activities. You simply prepare 5 by 5 bingo cards listing an interesting fact. Facts might be: likes golf, has 3 children, has won a photo contest, etc. List the names and contact information of everyone present on the back side. People go around the room and try to find people who the facts fit. When they find someone, that person signs the square on the card and checks off their name on the back. Goal is to fill the card and remember everyone who signed the card. Gifts are presented to everyone who completed (or even partially completed) their cards. For part 2 of the networking game, everyone receives a small card on which they are to write the person’s name with the most interesting story told during the networking game. The top 3 (or 5) people names on the cards are offered the opportunity to tell their story to all attendees. Person getting the most applause for their presentation wins the grand prize. Others win smaller prizes. If you would like to have a game show style program which helps people to become safer, more productive and better communicators while having a ton of fun please consider including one of my Education by Entertainment programs at your event. I’ll include some of the activities you’ve seen in my columns throughout this year as well as some you have not. My email is DrRonShapiro1981@SigmaXi.Net. I would like to thank Industrial Consultant Dr. Margarita Posada Cossuto for helpful comments.

Dr. Ronald G. Shapiro Independent Consultant in Human Factors, Learning and Human Resources | volume six issue eight


SMALL BUSINESS | Need To Raise Capital


Fifth and Ninth B R I N G I N G




The story of



RISBJ | rhode island small business journal

Fifth And Ninth | SMALL BUSINESS

I have a huge understanding of who’s hot right now, who could definitely sell product, who probably couldn’t sell product, so that has benefited the brand by Amelia Votta

Head Creative Designer for Fifth and Ninth, Bryce McGillivray, sits in her Narragansett office just a few short miles from her alma mater, The University of Rhode Island. Graduating with a double major in Textile Merchandising Design and Journalism, her journey has come full circle geographically, and her office’s location is a Rhody alumna’s dream. Bryce explains that while she loved the education she received at URI, opportunities for hands-on experience in the fashion industry are very limited in Rhode Island, “One of the best parts (about running Fifth & Ninth) is that now we can offer URI students who want to be in this industry the opportunity to gain experience in their backyard, and that’s something I didn’t have when I went to school, so that’s just another bonus to having our company in Rhode Island”. Taking matters into her own hands during her undergraduate education, Bryce decided to build her own brand, launching a personal fashion blog, blondeinboutins. She explained to me that when her blog first started, blogging wasn’t yet considered “cool”, and the medium had yet to really take off. She attributes part of her success to establishing herself ahead of the curve, but it’s clear to see her thousands of readers continue to identify with the glamorous personality behind the blog. This personality won over not only her readers, but the connections she made through her social media and blog presence. After graduating, she took an internship for Bismark Phillips Communications and Media, a PR agency that represents some of the largest names in the fashion industry. The position was unpaid, but the experience proved invaluable, quickly giving her a taste of the New York fashion culture. From there, she earned the position of Executive Assistant for Kelly Cutrone, one of the most famous (or perhaps infamous) publicists and fashion moguls in New York (The Hills, America’s Next Top Model). Bryce says that those two experiences gave her, “A very clear understanding of how tough the fashion industry is, and that it wasn’t necessarily what (she) had set out for in the beginning”. This experience made her take a moment to reevaluate the direction where she wanted her career to go, and to call upon a contact she had made, Mark Mesrobian, the Executive Vice President of Fifth and Ninth’s parent company, Complete Sourcing Solutions. Heading back to the state she called home, Bryce settled herself into Complete Sourcing Solutions’ Narragansett office, and for the first five months or so, she worked in a marketing position for the parent company’s North

American licensee of Ted Baker London tech accessories. Quickly, Bryce’s enthusiasm for fashion led her to develop and become Creative Director for the in-house brand, Fifth and Ninth. The name is derived from 5th and 9th Avenues in New York City, which Bryce explains, border the Fashion Garment District, “where trends are born”. The brand then went on to release it’s own line of phone cases and accessories following Bryce’s vision and direction, that “embodied more of the trendy, fast, fashion focused designs”. The title of Creative Director gives Bryce a lot of freedom, and she excitedly explains that the company has partnered with numerous celebrities and social media influencers, including Smashbox Cosmetics “lip editor in chief”, Vlada Haggerty, aka Vlada MUA. Bryce works with these icons to release new collaborations and co-brand products; Vlada’s line features variations on her lip art, and other influencers’ cases reflect their own brands in similar fashions. Bryce spends a lot of her time looking for these style icons, bloggers, and social media fiends to be brand ambassadors on campus and brand collaborators on social media, and coming up with new ideas for the Fifth and Ninth line of phone cases. “I have a huge understanding of who’s hot right now, who could definitely sell product, who probably couldn’t sell product, so that has benefited the brand, I think.” Advice for future female entrepreneurs? “Take the low paying job --the free internship-- put the work in, struggle-- feel what it is like to be at the bottom and struggle. Find a mentor”, and she references Mark Mesrobian, the Executive Vice President of Fifth and Ninth’s parent company Complete Sourcing Solutions, as hers, as well as her cousin, the CFO of Hasbro Toys in Providence. Looking towards the future, Bryce says Fifth and Ninth is looking to expand beyond their tech accessory market, and establish themselves as a lifestyle brand. When asked what she envisions for that brand, Bryce tells me “Sunglasses... maybe watches... handbags... makeup’s the limit!”; the future is full of endless possibilities. Beyond new products, there are new markets, seasons, collections, and categories to be explored-- such as wedding themes, something prevalent on Bryce’s mind due to her recent engagement. Bryce sounds grateful when explaining, “(Fifth and Ninth) gives me the love for New York City back that I had lost when I lived there… it puts the fun back in Fashion for me”; and of course, it doesn’t hurt to be successful in your home state, either. | volume six issue eight


2017 OCEAN STATE BUSINES 11:00am – “Creating a small business-friendly Rhode Island”, with Lt. Governor Dan McKee Dan McKee is a lifelong Rhode Islander who ran for lieutenant governor to strengthen our public schools, build solvent communities and create a healthier small business climate throughout the state. Dan’s background is deeply rooted in small business. His family owns and operates a small oil company in Cumberland that began back in 1900 as an ice business. Dan also ran a health club in Woonsocket for many years. In addition to a background in business, Dan served as Mayor in the Town of Cumberland for 12 years. As mayor, his record was one of strong fiscal management, visionary education initiatives and thoughtful economic development. Since taking office in 2015, Dan has visited over 180 small businesses to hear their concerns and identify short and long term solutions to their problems. As lieutenant governor, Dan has also been a driving force in lowering energy costs for Rhode Island families and business.

The Ocean State Business Expo, Rhode Island’s premier event for connecting businesses to each other, is scheduled for Wednesday, October 11th, 2017 at the Crowne Plaza in Warwick. The expo’s mission is to support the growth and development of Rhode Island’s business community. The excitement is building as we welcome more sponsors and exhibitors than ever before. The expo features over 120 exhibitors and valuable informational seminars throughout the day. Take a look at the Seminar Schedule so you can mark your calendar for the ones you are planning to attend. 18

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12:00pm – How Smart People Use Smart Phones for Business Growth, with Michelle Girasole Whether you’ve had an email marketing service for years or you’ve been thinking about using one, this workshop is for you. Get up to speed on the latest developments in email and social media marketing technology. You will learn: • How to get your prospects to text YOU if they want to join your list - save time managing your list • How to use a phone app to design and send email - get away from your desk and do it from wherever you want to work • How to schedule your social media to drive attention to your news - work one day, and take the rest of the week off! • Three things the most effective emails have in common - increase your click through rates Michelle Girasole has helped hundreds of small business owners to get comfortable using digital marketing technology for 25 years. As founder of Fresh Growth Ventures, she was one of the original Constant Contact Solutions Partners.

1:00pm - Words of Wisdom for Running and Growing a Profitable Small Business, with David Lucier David Lucier, owner of Lucier CPA, Inc specializes in small business. In this seminar you will receive the best ideas from over 30 years of working with over 1500 small businesses. The following are some of the secret tips you will learn: 1. What is small business greatness 2. Business success traits 3. The secret formula to successful partnerships 4. The six steps to read financial statements 5. Low cost marketing tips 6. Strategic marketing planning 7. Pricing for profits 8. Five keys to “Financial Greatness” 9. What are the best small business books 10. Growing your business in the new economy

2:00pm - An Alternative Way to Increase The Bottom Line, with Lori Delfosse Focusing on personal health and healthy employees can help your small business be more productive, in turn improving performance and lowering costs associated with health care, absenteeism, and employee turnover. Learn....

S EXPO SEMINAR SCHEDULE The Stats - Health & Productivity: Recent studies indicate improved health impacts performance and reduces health care costs. The History of Health Care vs. Sick Care Healthy Options - there are four main areas to focus on: stress management, nutrition, physical exercise, and health benefits. Resources - Education, nutrition programs, consultants/coaches, fitness locations, courses.

2:30pm - Let Your Voice Be Heard Through Your Own Podcast Series, with Patricia Raskin According to Edison Research, 112 million Americans have listened to a podcast, up 11 percent from 2016. 67 million Americans listen to podcasts monthly, up 14 percent in one year. 42 million Americans listen to podcasts weekly, representing 15 percent of the total US population. Podcast listening growth is steady, with 10 to 20% increases each year. Patricia will show you how you can create a compelling podcast that have listeners coming back for more!

Kickoff at 11am in the Crowne Plaza Hotel Rotunda with Lt. Governor Dan McKee

VIP Party at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Tuesday, October 10th from 5:00 - 7:00pm

3:00pm - Leading with AIR – How Authenticity, Integrity and Respect accelerates your leadership capabilities, with Jeffrey Deckman Leading and managing people in the 21st century has never been more complex. During this session Jeffrey will explain how by engaging people with AIR significantly increases your ability to influence their thinking and actions. Lessons learned in this session can be immediately put to work your first day back in the office!

3:30pm - The Importance of Proactive IT to Protect Your Business, with Donald Nokes Cyber security is something you hear about a lot these days. Sometimes it’s thrown around to scare business owners, other times it has proven to be a cautionary tale, one that small businesses can learn from to fend themselves from online threats that can leave devastating impact. What’s certain is statistics don’t lie, and as much as you’d like to believe your business is safe, the worst could happen at any time. Because antivirus software alone can only do so much to protect your business, managed services has become the solution.

Learn more a bout our keynote s pe a k e r and present e r s a t

4:00pm - Auction 101: The Ins & Outs of the Auction World, with Kevin Bruneau and Travis Landry Brief discussion on the auction world along with market trends. Kevin & Travis will be available for free verbal appraisals during the workshop along with at the booth during the day. Kevin Bruneau is an antiques aficionado having professionally been involved with antiques since 1992. Kevin continues to travel countless miles every week all across the map pursuing antiques for his ever changing inventory continually amassing a stellar network of dealers, appraisers, and auctioneers to better serve his clientele. Kevin’s vast experience is what makes Bruneau & Co. Auctioneers Rhode Island’s premier auction gallery. Travis Landry is a Pop Culture expert, antique specialist and auctioneer. Travis oversees the intake, research and cataloging of antiques while also being the Toy Director for Bruneau & Co Auctioneers and Rhode Island Comic Con. His specialties include American and Japanese toys (post 1950), comics, decorative & fine arts. Travis is a fan favorite guest at comic conventions across the country having been a reoccurring cast member on Travel Channel’s Toy Hunter and producer for numerous RIPBS antique programs. Travis will also be a Season 22 appraiser for PBS’s Antiques Roadshow in the collectible category. | volume six issue eight


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List of Expo Exhibitors: AA Thrifty Sign & Awning ABC Specialtees Adams Fine Pearl Jewelry ADT Allclean Restoration/Rui Construction Ascensus College Savings BankNewport BEMER Better Business Bureau Serving Eastern MA, ME, RI, & VT Bevilacqua & Bevilacqua BJ’s Wholesale Club Block Advisors Brave River Solutions Bruneau and Co. Auctioneers Camp Bow Wow Cartridge World Central Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce, Inc. Centreville Bank Chestnut Hill Realty City of Cranston and The Greater Cranston Chamber of Commerce City of Warwick, Department of Tourism, Culture & Development Conlon Containers Constant Contact Cox Business Security Solutions

cristinajewels Donovan Travel Dr. Day Care East Greenwich Chamber of Commerce Eastern Pure Water Edward Jones Elite Physical Therapy Energy Monster Envision Technology Advisors Executives Association of Rhode Island FUN Enterprises, Inc. G Metz Moving & Storage Helping Hearts INNOVEX Integrated Media Group (IMG) Island Carpet, Tile, and Hardwood Lang’s Bowlarama Lucier CPA Lynch’s Cleaning & Restoration Service Massage Envy Spa Natural Awakenings Magazine Neighborhood Health Plan of Rhode Island NetCenergy, LLC NEWPRO Office Direct Panera Bread Paula Allin - HomeSmart Professionals

People’s Credit Union Photographer Ernest Price (dba ELPriceLLC Ltd.) PURIUM R.E. Coogan Heating Inc. Re/Max Bell Park Renewal by Andersen RGS Energy Rhode Island Capital Corporation Rhode Island Commerce Corporation Rhode Island Telephone Inc. RI Realtors RI Small Business Development Center SCORE RI Sentinel Safe Floor Solutions ServiceMaster by Mason Single Source Disaster Recovery Specialists Stillwater River Publications The Riddle Room U.S. Small Business Administration Unitel Inc. US Solar Works Vive Communications Wireless Zone WRIK Entertainment WRIK Photo Booth Xzito Creative Solutions


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E X P O | volume six issue eight


SMALL BUSINESS | Right Is Stress AndKilling Obligations Your Organization’s Of Shareholders Performance?




By William F. Miller, Esq.

ublic companies are required to provide, on a regular basis, extensive information about their businesses and financial condition. All of that information is readily available to shareholders and others. Conversely, similar information regarding private companies is generally not available, even to its shareholders. For that reason, the laws of virtually every state give private company shareholders limited rights to receive non-public information regarding a private company in which they own an equity interest. The laws of each state vary somewhat. As to certain types of information (rights to a list of shareholders), they are often quite clear. In other areas (financial information), they are often more subjective. However, in virtually all cases the requesting shareholder is required to make a written request which enumerates the requested information and sets forth a “proper purpose” for the request; that is, one that is reasonably related to the person’s interest as a shareholder. It has become increasingly common for minority stockholders of private companies to request confidential company information. When that occurs, the company’s board of directors or LLC managers need to understand the company’s rights and obligations. In the recent case of Bizzari v. Suburban Waste Services Inc. (“Bizzari”),


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the Delaware Chancery Court1 analyzed the rules and applied them to an unusual set of facts. In Bizzari, the plaintiff sent a letter to the company demanding inspection of its books and records. The stated purposes for the request were (i) to permit Mr. Bizzari to value his interest in the company and (ii) to investigate possible mismanagement and wrongdoing by management. Subject to the findings noted below, the court found that valuation of a shareholder’s interest in the company is a proper purpose for such a request. However, it found that a mere allegation of mismanagement or wrongdoing, without stating some credible basis for the claim, was not sufficient to support a demand to inspect the books and records. The court noted that the “credible basis” standard is intended to strike a balance between granting the shareholders access and protecting the corporation “from wasteful fishing expeditions based entirely on curiosity.” The court next looked at the broad scope of the requested information. It ranged from financial statements, tax returns and other “high level” documents to minutia such as the compensation paid each employee, check registers, cancelled checks, cash receipts, etc. In this regard, the court noted that, generally, a shareholder who has stated a proper purpose for inspection is entitled to inspect only those records that are essential and sufficient to achieve his purpose. The court went on to say that where details are reflected or incorporated in the company’s financial statements, they need not be separately provided in order to permit the stockholder to obtain an accurate valuation of his interest. Furthermore, it noted that the burden is on the requesting shareholder to prove that each category of requested information is essential to his purpose in requesting that information.

Is Stress Killing RightYour And Organization’s Obligations Of Performance? Shareholders || SMALL SMALL BUSINESS BUSINESS

The Bizzari case contains a useful analysis of the rights and obligations of a company which receives a shareholder demand to inspect its books and records. What makes the case unusual are the facts surrounding Mr. Bizzari’s relationship with the other shareholders and directors. Although the court found that Mr. Bizzari’s stated purpose in requesting information was proper, it found that his true purpose was different. He had an extremely adversarial relationship with the other principals and the evidence supported the finding that his true purpose was to damage the company’s reputation and finances and to facilitate going into competition with the company. For that reason, he was denied access to most of the requested information, even though he was both a shareholder and a director of the company.

of organization and bear in mind at least some of the points discussed in the Bizzari case summarized above. Finally, the laws of most states permit the company to make properly requested information available at its principle office for inspection and copying by the requesting shareholder. It generally does not obligate the company to go to the time and expense of copying the records and delivering them to the requesting shareholder. If you have questions, contact PLDO Partner William F. Miller at 401-824-5100 or email Although the Bizzari case was decided by the Delaware Chancery Court, it is worth noting that the courts of many states routinely look to the decisions of the Delaware courts on issues related to corporate governance and other matters.


SOME PRACTICAL ADVICE First, since most information requested of a private company is confidential and proprietary, it is both permissible and advisable to require a requesting shareholder to sign a non-disclosure agreement (“NDA”) as a condition to receipt of information that is properly requested. Secondly, the laws of most states do not require a company to produce information the company does not prepare in the ordinary course of business. For example, if the company prepares a quarterly balance sheet and a year end-balance sheet, it is generally not obligated to prepare monthly balance sheets simply because a shareholder has requested them.

William F. Miller, Esq. Partner Pannone Lopes Devereaux & O’Gara LLC

The board should consider adopting a written policy on the release of company information to shareholders before any requests are received. It should require an NDA, track the law in your state

“ The laws of most states permit the

company to make properly requested information available at its principle office for inspection and copying by the requesting shareholder. | volume six issue eight


LEGAL | Personnel Practices: Social Media Update

Personnel Practices S O C I A L M E D I A U P DAT E by C. Alexander Chiulli, Esq. and Kristen M. Whittle, Esq.

Social media use on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram has become ubiquitous in our society, and many employers have become interested in their employees’ social media activities. While Rhode Island law prohibits employers from requiring employees to share their personal social media passwords, or connect with them on social media, employers may monitor the publicly available information that employees choose to share on social media—and use certain of that information in making employment-related decisions. Although the First Amendment provides general protection for free speech, such protection does not necessarily apply in the private employment setting, and private employers may take action based on an employee’s social media posts under certain circumstances. The following is intended to provide best practice tips for employers on how to grapple with their employees’ social media activity under this developing area of law.

New Guidance from Rhode Island Supreme Court

The Rhode Island Supreme Court recently considered whether a former employee’s Facebook post complaining about his boss could justify the denial of his unemployment benefits post-termination. (Ultimately, under the circumstances of the case, the Court concluded that it could not.) Although the decision focused specifically on a statute relating to unemployment benefits, and not whether the employee was justifiably terminated, the Court’s reasoning may be applied more broadly as guidance for employers when deciding how to respond to an employee’s social media posts. Specifically, the Court suggested that employers may consider the following factors when evaluating whether an employee’s social media post rises to the level of


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workplace misconduct: whether the employee has “blocked” access to his/her social media account; whether a post was directly accessible to any other employee, associate, or customer; whether the employee authored the post from an electronic device belonging to the employer; whether the post violates the employer’s social media policy; and whether the content of the post relates to the employee’s job performance.

Protections for “Concerted Activity”

The federal National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has consistently enforced a core principle that employers cannot take adverse employment action, up to and including termination, against employees for engaging in “concerted activity.” Such concerted activity may involve an employee discussing workplace conditions, pay, activities, or problems with another employee—whether the discussion occurs face-to-face, by phone, or through electronic communications such as social

Personnel Practices: Social Media Update | LEGAL

An employee’s social media posts that are disparaging or embarrassing to an employer are not necessarily protected and may be grounds for terminating the employment relationship media. However, an employee’s social media posts that are disparaging or embarrassing to an employer are not necessarily protected and may be grounds for terminating the employment relationship or other disciplinary action.

Employment Discrimination Implications

Employers should remain mindful of state and federal laws and regulations banning discrimination on the basis of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, disability, and other protected classes of individuals. Accordingly, if an employer takes an adverse employment action against an employee for a social media post related to his or her membership in a protected class (for example, if an employer terminated an employee because of a social media post showing the employee’s attendance at an LGBT rally), such adverse action would likely be impermissible from a discrimination standpoint. However, hate speech or generally discriminatory posts by an employee would not typically be protected.

Implement a Workplace Social Media Policy

To help manage social media use in the workplace, employers should maintain and circulate a thoughtful social media policy. That policy should generally prohibit social media use at the workplace and plainly articulate what employee behaviors concerning social media are not permitted or considered problematic. Further, the policy should act to supplement the employer’s other workplace policies relating to workplace conduct generally.

C. Alexander Chiulli, Esq. Associate, Barton Gilman LLP Kristen M. Whittle, Esq. Associate, Barton Gilman LLP | volume six issue eight




by Travis Landry Whether you are a real estate agent, attorney, or simply a family friend who is dealing with an estate, it can be a tedious and strenuous process. While everyone typically focuses on the contents of the home, you don’t want to forget about what could potentially be hiding in the garage. Those “old cars” can be a literal gold mine, if you know what’s hot and what’s not.


In today’s collectable car market, the industry is no longer limited to American muscle and European exotics of the 1960’s and earlier. Japanese cars from the late 1970’s and later are rising in value faster than any automobile market to precede it. So, with a little bit of knowledge and sharpening of the eye, you might reconsider your next call to a used car lot. When tracing the roots of Japanese sports car appreciation and collecting in the United States, it all begins with the Datsun 240Z. Nissan imported their first Z-series car to the United States in October of 1969 for the 1970 model year. This ultimately sparked a twenty-six year long run encompassing four different models with four

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generations of advancement and redesign. The pinnacle of the Z series for Nissan and collectors today would be the 1990 to 1996 300ZX Twin Turbo. This was the final body style and highest performance option car produced in the original Z series. Jumping to present day twenty-seven years later, pristine examples


with low mileage sell for over $30,000, equivalent to the cars original MSRP. This may not seem impressive, but not even ten years ago the same car could have been purchased for $12,000 or less. Beyond the Z-series Nissan collectability spreads to early Datsun 510 coupes and roadsters on

through 1990’s 240SX coupes. But Nissan is only one brand within the realm of Japanese automobiles. WRX, which stands for “World Rally eXperimental”, is one of the most popular and upcoming cars in the collecting world to be found in an estate. Introduced by Subaru in Fall of 1992 to Japan, the car captured international limelight by winning the World Rally Championship in its

Dissolving An Estate? | SMALL BUSINESS

The Nissan 300ZX and Subaru 2.5rs are only two of many Japanese cars made during the late twentieth century that are commanding a premium today.

debut year of 1993, followed by consecutive wins from 1995 to 1997. The first generation WRX, famed for its 2.5-liter turbo boxer engine and aggressive front fascia, was never introduced to the United States. The WRX was not made for the American market until 2002 but equipped with a 2.0 liter. But, Subaru did give America an appetizer of their mean and lean symmetrical all-wheel drive racing machine.

it rather rare. Numbers wise rarer than some high optioned Camaro’s, Mustangs, Corvettes, or GTO’s of the muscle car era, and everyone knows what they’re worth today. For the Japanese car and Subaru collector, the 2.5rs is the predecessor and earliest form of the WRX in North America, a rather historically significant car

The Nissan 300ZX and Subaru 2.5rs are only two of many Japanese cars made during the late twentieth century that are commanding a premium today. Everything from Mitsubishi Lancers and 3000GT’s to early Toyota Celica’s and Corolla’s and Honda Civics are rising in value on a yearly basis. You never want

In 1998, Subaru introduced the Impreza 2.5rs NISSAN 300ZX TWIN TURBO INTERIOR SUBARU IMPREZA 2.5RS INTERIOR to the North American for the genre. Today, near mint to leave a stone unturned when market. Available as both a coupe examples with low mileage sell finding value in an estate, and or sedan, the 2.5rs had the between $10,000 and $14,000, sometimes the greatest gems are looks and motor of the Japanese compared to the $7,000 or less hiding right in plain sight. domestic market WRX, just minus only a few years ago. If you are the turbo. settling an estate and find an Travis Landry That’s the kicker. From 1998 to early Impreza in the garage, you Bruneau and Co. Auctioneers 2001, Subaru produced slightly might want to consider buying over 14,000 of them, which in and keeping it in your own to sell car production standards make further down the road. | | volume volumesix sixissue issueeight four

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Pannone Lopes Devereaux & O’Gara attorneys are innovators and collaborators with a record of achievement representing clients with the highest level of legal services in a wide range of disciplines and industries. Our firm’s success is rooted in its cutting edge approach to modern legal representation, commitment to teamwork and providing superior service for clients built on respect, urgency and efficiency that results in long-lasting relationships.

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A total of $1,000 will be awarded to top presenters Free and open to anyone, 18 years or older Learn more and register at Just want to watch and listen? You’re invited to join the audience – at no charge. You’ll learn a lot, but we ask you to pre-register.

We’re building the next generation of companies in Rhode Island Since 2001, the Rhode Island Business Plan Competition has awarded more than $2.3 million in prizes to help entrepreneurs build growing businesses in Rhode Island and today is the largest community-supported business plan competition in the Northeast. Our sponsors include private companies, professional service providers, foundations, colleges and universities, | volume six issue eight 29 public agencies, investors, banks – and previous participants. Full details at

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