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Technology boosts the bottom line Webinars, Web conferences can decrease costs while increasing efficiency By TIM ACKARMAN

meet continuing education requirements and other trainmployers are always ing needs. Transformation of searching for ways to “They can ask questions and decrease costs and information and content interact with the presenter increase efficiency, particularly while avoiding travel costs and has become lost productivity” associated in challenging economic times. Webinars and Web conferences with attending traditional so much are great tools to help compaclasses, Neitzke said. easier. The nies decrease the need for travel Webinars also offer the and make business trips more advantage of relative anonymiworld has productive. ty, Olchefske noted. A company gotten tiny.” owner or other key leader conMany companies in a variety of industries face similar questemplating retirement, for — Mark tions, said Mark Olchefske, example, may want to gain Olchefske director of the North Iowa some insight on transition Director of the North Iowa Business Incubator and Accelplanning before announcing his Business Incubator and Accelererator at North Iowa Area or her intentions. ator at North Iowa Area CommuCommunity College. Viewing a webinar would nity College “How do you get people allow the owner to pursue interested in your product? appropriate information from strategy for a business that How do you upgrade your the home or office. needs to reach multiple skills?” “You’re getting the informaThe Internet has changed the prospective clients, said Eric tion you need without revealing Neitzke, Business and Industry that element of your strategy,” answers to these questions in Program manager at NIACC. the last few years. Olchefske said. “(They are) predominately one“Transmission of informaOnline interactions are not tion and content has become so way conversations directed to limited to a lecturer-attendee more of a mass audience.” much easier,” Olchefske said. format featuring primarily oneA potential client identified “The world has gotten tiny.” way communication. In Web through a webinar can often be conferencing, participants are A webinar is an online presentation. Unlike a pre-record- targeted for more personal able to interact on an ongoing ed module, viewers see the pre- attention afterward, Neitzke basis. sentation in real time. Depend- said. “It’s a real-time meeting,” “People want to meet face to Neitzke said. “It’s a great way to ing on the format, they may be face. You might use the Web able to break in with questions get time with hard-to-reach or have them answered by the people, (and) good for busiinitially, then follow up with a speaker immediately after the nesses with multiple locations.” visit,” he said. presentation ends. A basic Web conference Businesses can often have Hosting webinars is a great employees use webinars to Continued on next page For In Business


In This Issue: • TECHNOLOGY — from webinars to Web conferences — can boost your bottom line/ Page 2. • WEB TECHNOLOGY options available to assist small businesses/Page 4 • WHAT MAKES a smartphone so smart? Plus tips for success in buying and using cell phones/Page 7 • OUR TECH COLUMNIST wonders: Do you have a computer first-aid kit ready to go?/Page 9 • COMMENTARY: Corridor partnerships make a difference/Page 11 • HEALTHBEAT: Principal’s minimal risk makes for maximum return in healthier employees/Page 12 • FUEL PRICES: Businesses find themselves squeezed from both ends/Page 18 • FOCUS ON MASON CITY: A commitment to growth/Page 21 • FOCUS ON CLEAR LAKE: ‘Well-rounded and balanced’/Page 24 • PLUS: Many more features, advice columns to help you do business! In Business: Vol. 9, No. 1, March 2011 Publisher: Howard Query 641-421-0500 Managing Editor: Tom Thoma 641-421-0566 tom.thoma Associate Editor: Jane Reynolds 641-421-0564 Associate Editor: Bob Steenson 641-421-0530 Advertising and Circulation: Greg Wilderman 641-421-0545

••• In Business is a quarterly publication of the Globe Gazette. Reach us at Box 271, Mason City, IA 50402-0271 or by e-mail at



COMMUNICATIONS/From Page 2 allows the users to access and share files on their own computers during a meeting while viewing the computer screens of other participants. “You can very quickly put information together on the fly,” People are Neitzke said. In the simvery accliplest Web mated conferences, participants to talk on the these telephone while viewing tools. their comYou puters. Those with voicedon’t over-Internet have capabilities may enjoy to be a techie to more seamuse it. It’s like less audio, while websending an ecams can mail.” offer limited face-to-face — Eric Neitzke communicaBusiness and Industry tion. Program manager at Specialized North Iowa Area Community College applications such as whiteboard technology allow participants to provide information by typing, writing or drawing. Others allow meeting leaders to conduct realtime polls and surveys. In addition to traditional business meetings, Neitzke said Web conferences are becoming increasingly popular for conducting job interviews as well as for providing virtual tours. “You can actually guide people through your own website,” he explained. Those unfamiliar with Web-based communications often assume specialized equipment is required and worry the

Submitted photo

CL Tel's video conference center is available for rent by businesses, as is a center at NIACC. process will prove difficult and expensive. Neitzke said this isn’t the case. “People are getting very acclimated to these tools,” he said. “You don’t have to be a ‘techie’ to use it. It’s like sending an e-mail to somebody.” There are dozens of online providers of webinar and Web conference services, Neitzke noted. Many offer basic packages at no cost. Continued on Page 6

TOOLBOX: Tips for using Web-based communications Eric Neitzke, Business and Industry Program manager at North Iowa Area Community College, offers these recommendations for those considering using Web-based communications: 1. Don’t practice on your best customer. Become familiar with the technology before taking it to a large and/or strategically impor-

tant audience. 2. Be aware there can be some set-up time. 3. Don’t push it on people who aren’t open to it. 4. Think about what you’re doing and why. Be real. 5. This isn’t just for young people. — By Tim Ackarman

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Web technology options available to assist small businesses will feature blurred motion, freezing, episodic pixilation and delayed transmission. While this may be acceptable for some applications, it can be a problem with By TIM ACKARMAN others. For In Business Video conferencing employs a dedicated system “designed to lthough home or officesmooth things out,” Olchefske based Web technology is said. “It’s more real. It’s more like improving, there are often (being) in the room.” still significant limitations with Olchefske said this level of the quality of live video. “Video consumes a lot of band- interconnection is useful for highly collaborative activities or for width on an Internet connection. intense negotiations where being Sometimes things slow down,” able to see facial expressions and said Mark Olchefske, director of the North Iowa Business Incubator body language is important. “Seventy percent of takeaway and Accelerator at North Iowa from interpersonal communicaArea Community College. tion is non-verbal,” said Eric In many cases Webcam videos

Video conference offers higher-quality service but can be expensive


Neitzke, Business and Industry Program manager at North Iowa Area Community College. While video conferencing offers a higher-quality service (“think three-day ground vs. Fed-Ex overnight,” Neitzke said) the cost can be considerable. “Equipment can run $10,000-15,000 just on one end,” Olchefske noted. While there are companies in North Iowa which own such equipment for private use, it is beyond the budget of many small businesses. Options are available for these firms. There is a video conference room in the Business Accelerator and Incubator. The conference

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“I’m just blown away by what’s free,” he said. More advanced services such as e-mail invitations and reminders for potential participants, technical assistance with program development, participation tracking, etc., can be purchased from many vendors. A Web search will allow business professionals to identify vendors offering services applicable to their needs. The selected vendor will normally guide the user through the process of downloading the necessary software. Prospective participants are generally notified by email. In most cases the emails include a link to the vendor’s website, where those interested in participating are prompted through the software downloading process as well. “They’re making the technology simple,” Olchefske said. Both Olchefske and Neitzke predict the options for Web-based communication will continue to expand as highspeed Internet and fiberoptic communication infrastructure become more prevalent. “As technology grows better, faster and cheaper, you’re going to see more of this,” Olchefske predicted.


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What makes a smartphone so smart? Processors, memory were once available only on laptop computers By TIM ACKARMAN For In Business

hat makes a smartphone so smart? Modern smartphones provide Internet access wherever cellular service is available. Many offer computer processors and internal memory comparable to what was once available only on laptop computers. Additional memory can be added using removable micro-SD memory cards, while new capabilities can be added by Bartell downloading software applications (apps). Larger screens with higher resolution and complete keyboards are making the units more user-friendly. Most devices can be synchronized with home or office computers, allowing remote access to business records, schedules, etc. While these devices have a lot to offer the business professional, the many choices available can be confusing to those unfamiliar with the basics of smartphone technology. “There’s a lot to learn (about smartphones), and they’re always changing,” said Hillary Bartell, a customer service representaAP photo tive at CL Tel in Clear Larger screens with higher resolution and complete keyboards are making smartphones more user-friendly. Most devices Lake. Smartphones are driven can be synchronized with home or office computers, allowing remote access to business records, schedules and much Continued on next page more. Oh, and they even make and receive phone calls.


VIDEO CONFERENCING/ From Page 4 room is available to all clients of the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center and can also be rented by other area businesses. CL Tel in Clear Lake also rents its video conference room to area businesses as well as using the room for its own training needs. Customers commonly hold seminars, meetings, interviews and depositions in the facility, according to Jan Lovell, president of CL Tel. NIACC also has interactive televised classrooms connected to the Iowa Communications Network (ICN). Although the ICN is not directly available to private businesses, access to the network helps educational institutions like NIACC offer college courses and continuing education classes to a wider audience. “We teach classes in Mason City, and I’ve had students in Fort Dodge take them,” Olchefske said. “For us in education, you’re seeing fantastic opportunities.”

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SMARTPHONES/From Page 7 by operating systems, software which controls a device’s basic functions. Apps must be compatible with the phone’s operating system in order to work. THERE ARE THREE major operating systems available for Internet-ready handheld devices, according to Bartell: Blackberry, Apple and Android. While all three systems offer comparable functions, there are some differences. The Blackberry line of products is manufactured by Research in Motion (RIM), a Canadian telecommunications and wireless company. RIM’s operating system is offered only on Blackberry products. RIM offered Internet-ready handheld computers for years before adding voice capability. These products were initially marketed primarily to the business community, and Blackberry continues to offer a strong lineup of business apps. “They’re great for business,” Bartell said. “E-mail (capability) is wonderful. They have thousands of apps for business.” Blackberry phones currently popular with CL Tel customers include the Blackberry Bold 9700 and the Blackberry Curve. Newer phones in the Blackberry lineup include the Torch and the Storm. “That one looks so cool,” Bartell said. Apple is a U.S. company best know for its Macintosh computers and more

recently for its handheld devices. Like the Blackberry lineup, Apple machines utilize an operating system (iOS) unique to its own products. Internet access is based on the Safari search engine. The iPod, iPhone and iPod Touch are marketed extensively to tech-savvy consumers for personal use and offer a variety of music, gaming and other entertainment apps. Apple also offers a strong selection of business apps, Bartell noted. Although CL Tel doesn’t offer Apple products, Bartell said the company has a devoted following. “There’s something about Apple. People just seem to love it.”

Popular Android smartphones at CL Tel include the HTC G2 and the Samsung Vibrant. Notepad computers, which offer a larger screen and keyboard than phones but greater portability than laptop computers, have also been wellreceived by business professionals. CL Tel offers the Samsung Galaxy tablet and the i wireless Voyager N700.

ALTHOUGH EACH generation of wireless devices offers more Internet capabilities and greater speed, Bartell said the utility of these devices depends on the quality of cellular coverage in the area where the device is being used. THE ANDROID operating system Cell phone service is purchased from was developed by a small California a wireless provider, with various plans start-up company purchased by available depending on the type of serGoogle in 2005. vices needed and the amount of usage. Unlike Blackberry and Apple, CL Tel offers i wireless, a partnership Google does not manufacture its own between Iowa Network Services (INS) line of devices. Products using Android and T-Mobile. are available from a variety of manuINS is owned by 127 independent facturers, including HTC, Samsung, telephone companies in Iowa and surLG and Motorola. rounding states, meaning i wireless is There are more than 100,000 committed to providing “great local Android apps currently available. (Some estimates put the number closer coverage,” Bartell said. T-mobile USA is owned by a large to 200,000.) German telecommunications firm and “Anything you can think of, they offers national and international covhave it on these phones,” Bartell said. The wide variety of Android devices erage. Other common U.S. wireless netand apps has caused the system’s popwork providers include Verizon, AT&T, ularity to increase rapidly, Bartell noted. U.S. Cellular and Sprint-Nextel.

Tips for buying cell phones: 1. Ask around about the best carrier. Ask neighbors, friends and co-workers about who has the best coverage where you live, work and travel. 2. Note the battery life. Assume you'll be able to go a day without charging for each hour of talk time. 3. Test the speaker. Make sure voices come through loud enough and clear enough. 4. Take a hands-off approach when driving. Try to find a phone with Bluetooth wireless capability for the widest selection of wireless headsets. 5. Keep an eye out for nickeling-and-diming. 6. Shop in person. Always go to a store to check out phone keypads, screens and speakers. 7. Lock yourself in. Advertised, super-low prices for phones almost always require signing up for a new, two-year contract. Read the fine print to find the price for a phone with a one-year contract. 8. Consider a family plan. These are always the best deal for couples or families with multiple phones. 9. Get the right bands for your trips. If you travel between U.S. cities, make sure your phone has both 850 and 1900 Mhz bands for the best coverage. 10. Don't be afraid to give it back. Most carriers offer a grace period when they'll take a phone back, no questions asked. —

Tips for cell phone success: 4. Make sure apps are compatible with your phone’s 1. Don’t be afraid to ask your service provider for help. operating system. While it won’t ruin the phone, an “We’ll work with our customers to help them,” said Android app will normally not work on a Blackberry or Hillary Bartell, a customer service representative at CL Apple, and vice versa. Tel. “We want it to be a good experience for our customers.” 5. Think security. Although problems are rare, there are viruses, identity theft scams and other hazards on 2. Ask about coverage before purchasing a plan. the Internet. Bartell notes cellular coverage varies by provider with the strongest and most complete coverage generally Phones are easier to misplace than desktop or laptop found in urban areas. computers. Bartell encourages customers to keep phones locked and password-protected when not in use, and to be Customers should investigate the level of coverage careful about storing sensitive business and personal offered locally and in areas they visit frequently before information on their phones. signing a contract. 3. Don’t be afraid to try things. “Most mistakes you can make are not going to ruin your phone,” Bartell said. “If you download an app and you don’t like it, you can delete it.”

All electronic devices are subject to failure. Bartell suggests customers back up any critical information stored on their phones frequently.

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Do you have a computer first-aid kit? that your system needs, generally USB for newer systems or PS2 for older systems. When your printer software starts warning you of low ink or toner levels, By MICHAEL MUNSHOWER buy a spare cartridge and have it on For In Business hand. The cartridge will always run dry at the worst possible time — guaranomputer users spend a lot of time choosing the right comput- teed. Keep in a safe spot your system er — from comparing processors, memory and hard drive capacities to discs and printed manuals that came getting the right video card and the with the computer when it was new. If best printer. your system didn’t come with recovOnce you have these items, don’t ery discs, there is usually a utility to forget a plan if things go wrong. run that the manufacturer includes Here are my recommendations for a that allows the user to burn recovery computer hardware first-aid kit. discs. Also, keep any discs and manuals FIRST, ALWAYS have a spare keythat came with additional items purboard and mouse on hand. Nothing can chased — such as a driver for your cause a computer to come to a sudden printer or software for your digital halt faster than something spilled on camera. the keyboard. Mechanical mice can become dirty CANNED AIR is handy to have and unusable. Optical mice can be around, too. Blast out the dust bunnies damaged from being dropped. that accumulate around the computer Make sure you have the proper type case vents and ports. Blocked air vents

Our tech expert shares his list of what should be in your hardware kit if things go wrong


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About the author: Michael Munshower is a systems technician for the Globe Gazette. Reach him at michael.munshower@

ALONG WITH THIS, make screen capture printouts of any special program settings — now, while it still works — of any software that might have settings that are non-default or difficult to remember. can cause a system to overheat and If you have made other tweaks to either shutdown or reboot spontaWindows or your desktop, you might neously. want to make screen capture printouts For those comfortable with opening of these, too. the computer case, blow out the case, A picture is truly worth a thousand paying extra attention to cleaning words. Keep these printouts in a safe internal fans and the processor heat spot. sink. And finally, always make backups of Be careful not to spin the fans too fast your most important files — photos, with the air pressure as these can break financial records, browser bookmarks, and throw a blade. etc. These backups can be written to With the computer case open, do not CDR, DVDR, USB flash drive or exterbe tempted to use a standard household nal hard drive. or shop vacuum to clean it out. These It’s also a good idea to make a reduntypes of vacuums produce static elecdant backup to keep at a different locatricity that that could damage compo- tion than your primary backup.

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Corridor partnerships make a difference Iowa Corridor is critical to the future success of the region,” said Mark Hewitt, president and CEO of Clear f you know anything about the Lake Bank & Trust. “Adding industry North Iowa Corridor Economic and jobs to our area benefits all of us Development Corp., you probably and we’re proud to invest in North know that we represent Mason City, Iowa’s future as member/investors.” Clear Lake and Cerro Gordo County in In addition to the overarching goal of economic development efforts. increasing economic development in This requires a strong partnership order to benefit our area, we also strive between both cities and the county. to be a resource to help local businesses But we have another partnership grow and prosper. with which you may not be familiar We work with companies one on one, and it is essential to the work we do: serving as an extension of their team, to Our relationship with private investors. lend our expertise where needed. If you The Corridor is considered a public- have a business and need assistance as you grow, we want to be your partner. private partnership, funded half by public money — coming from the three What exactly does the corridor do? entities previously listed — and half by The mission of the Corridor is basiprivate investment from businesses in cally two-fold: our area. We do not charge fees for our 1) To support local business and services and thus are reliant on the industry with retention and expansion money raised during our annual invest- projects, and; ment campaign. 2) To attract new business and Why would local businesses want to industry. invest in the Corridor? Very simply, Doing these things facilitates job because they recognize how economic retention, job growth and private development helps everyone. investment for our area, which ultimately leads to increased population “The work being done by the North By DAVID UNDERWOOD

Executive Director (Interim), North Iowa Corridor Economic Development Corp.


and a larger tax base. And that benefits everyone. Some of the ways we support local business include: • Helping them identify and apply for financial incentives for job creation or a physical expansion. • Connecting them with resources related to an aspect of business (i.e. exporting, human resources, marketing); or • Serving as a liaison/facilitator between the company and other entities. We work with individual businesses as well as trying to identify common issues that exist throughout the business community and then do what we can to help craft solutions. In regard to business attraction, we focus on pursuing leads that come our way, such as those from the Iowa Department of Economic Development (IDED) and other sources as well as developing our own marketing campaigns to recruit new industry. We also partner with other counties in the North Central Iowa region to market to emerging growth industries,

About the author: David Underwood is former chief financial officer at Curries Co. He heads a business called CFO on Demand.

such as the wind energy industry. Partnerships pay off In the three years that the Corridor has been in existence, we have assisted with projects bringing more than 200 new jobs and almost $41 million in private investment to the area. These include the sale of both the IMI Cornelius building and the speculative building in the Mason City Industrial Park, the construction of two new buildings in the Larry Luker Industrial Park in Clear Lake, and significant job creation by several local businesses including Varied Industries (Vi-Cor), TeamQuest and Aeron Advanced Manufacturing. It is said that a cord of three strands is not easily broken. We have gone that one better with our cord of four: Mason City, Clear Lake, Cerro Gordo County and private business.


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MINIMAL RISK, MAXIMUM RETURN Principal Financial finds significant investment in employee health has meant major savings in claims

By TIM ACKARMAN For In Business company specializing in finance and insurance should know something about maximizing return while minimizing risk. That’s the story behind the significant investment the Principal Financial Group makes in employee wellness. Principal built a gym in its Des Moines headquarters 100 years ago and hired its first wellness director 20 years ago. Officials estimate the wellness program has produced $13.5 million in claims savings since 2005. Principal’s medical costs continue to grow at half of the national average rate. Lisa Hegland has worked at The Principal Pension Center in Mason City for 19 years. When she arrived there was already an employee wellness program in


Principal employees and exercise devotees Lynae Heinemann (left) and Rhonda Mann perform their usual group personal training routine despite their instructor being away on vacation. TIM ACKARMAN/ For In Business

place and a fitness center in what was then a new building. “I think I’ve participated since I started here,” Hegland said. “It was awesome.” HEGLAND’S ENTHUSIASM for wellness did not go unnoticed as she climbed the corporate ladder. Now serving as a manager, she was given the added responsibility of coordinating local wellness activities seven or eight years ago. “It’s a fun little side duty,” Hegland said. Principal offers employees a yearly health screening assessing weight, blood pressure, flexibility and basic blood test results. The numbers are compared to previous tests in order to document changes in health status. Health coaches are available to forContinued on next page

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WELLNESS/From Page 12 cise and weight-loss challenge with a group from mulate strategies to deal with any problem areas. Coaches follow up with periodic phone calls or e-mails Metalcraft. Participants earned points by performing physical activity as well as by shedding pounds. to monitor progress. “They had fun with it because they thought it held Principal encourages employees to use this service them accountable if they by offering a “good-sized credit toward health insurhad to report their miles ance,” Hegland noted. to somebody,” Hegland “In Mason City I’d say we have 95 percent particiI like to think said. pation,” Hegland estimated. “Employees do really Accountability is a big appreciate it.” we give motivator for Lynae The fitness center at the Mason City location them all Heinemann of Ventura, a underwent a major renovation in 2007. The center the client service manager. features free weights, Nautilus machines, elliptical “I’m a pretty competitrainers, exercise bikes and treadmills. tools tive person,” said HeineMany of the units include individual TV sets with they mann, a former high school headphones. and college athlete.“I find need. “Employees really like the new machines because somebody in class who’s a they’re cable-ready,” Hegland said. They just have to good fitness competitor. If I The center also features a workout room for exercise take it from there.” want to stop or not give 110 classes. Principal contracts with local fitness instrucpercent, if I see she’s movtors who provide classes including cardiosculpt, ket— Lisa Hegland ing, I’m gonna keep movtlebell, boot camp (modeled after “The Biggest Loser” Principal wellness activities coordinator in Mason City ing.” television show), toning, group personal training, Heinemann is enrolled piloga (a blend of Pilates and yoga) and zumba dance. in a group personal training class. Although the HEALTHY EATING is also encouraged. Weight Watchers has provided on-site programs. The cafete- instructor took a vacation recently, Heinemann and ria offers wellness options and vending machines on classmate Rhonda Mann of Clear Lake showed up anyway. each floor include a row with healthy snacks. “Two of us devotees came down at the regular time In some cases healthy habits are reinforced and did it today,” said Mann, a plan review manager. through friendly competition. Last year 11 selected Service with the Army after high school forced Principal employees (most from Des Moines) took part in a weight-loss challenge in which participants Mann, who was not previously very athletic, to get into good condition. lost a total of 650 pounds. A similar challenge is “I’ve tried to maintain it,” she said. planned for this year. Mann appreciates the classes and facilities availIn Mason City, Principal employees held an exer-

•How companies of any size can score big with wellness programs. — See Page 14 able to help her do so. “They make it convenient: there should be no excuses.” “I like to think we give them all the tools they need,” Hegland said. “They just have to take it from there.” While the wellness offerings at Principal are a great benefit to employees, Hegland believes the company gains from the program as well. “We hope it reduces costs in terms of absenteeism, health care benefits and that type of thing,” Hegland said. PRINCIPAL ATTEMPTS to maximize those health savings by allowing family members to use the program as well. “Those are the people who are often on the employees’ health plan,” Hegland said. Benefits to the company go beyond just dollars and cents, Hegland believes. Offering quality facilities and programs “maybe gives you an edge in terms of getting some of the top talent and retaining employees.” Hegland also said exercising together helps to strengthen relationships among employees. “You get some team-building that happens outside of the work area and some interaction on a day-today basis with employees who don’t interact in the work environment. From an employee moral standpoint, it does good things.”

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HEALTHBEAT Want a wellness program but don’t think your company is big enough to have one? Think again.

Wellness program resources available for any size business By TIM ACKARMAN

in health-related costs and lost work time due to on-the-job injury,” said ost companies can’t afford to Principal media relations representaoffer an on-site fitness center tive Joelle Kirchhoff. or a wide variety of exercise While Principal has been offering classes. Yet there are resources to help wellness products for nearly 20 years, even the smallest business start or other insurance companies are also enhance a wellness program. recognizing the benefits of helping corporate customers keep employees healthy. Insurance companies: Those interested in learning more Principal has a wellness division, about commercial wellness products Principal Wellness Co., offering a varishould contact their insurance carrier ety of wellness programs for employers. or go to General services include preventative screenings and health coaching. Principal Wellness will also work with Hospitals and medical centers: employers to customize a program While its primary focus is on treatusing local activities and employerment and prevention of occupational specific needs. injuries, Mercy Healthworks in Mason Businesses instituting wellness pro- City also offers a variety of wellness grams can expect “an increase in services, according to occupational employee productivity and a reduction Continued on next page For The Globe Gazette


TIM ACKARMAN/For In Business

Shar Rickert (left) and Jackie Benning work out in the Principal fitness center during their lunch hour.

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PROGRAMS/From Page 14 health nurse Robin Prehn. Employers can arrange health screenings either at the clinic or on-site to include height, weight, body mass index (BMI), blood pressure and screening laboratory tests. Vaccination clinics offer influenza and hepatitis B immunizations. Mercy nurses and physical therapists can also perform screenings and provide education at employer-sponsored health fairs. “It all depends on what the company is looking for,” Prehn said. Occupational health services include on-site hearing tests, spirometry, drug screenings and fit-testing for respiratory protective equipment. Prehn has noted an increasing interest in employee wellness. “Every year we see more and more companies doing this,” she said. “It does benefit everyone.”


For more information, contact Prehn at 641-428-5287 WRIGHT MEDICAL CENTER Occupational Health and Wellness offers similar services across North Iowa. “When we started our wellness program, we wanted to look more at a proactive approach rather than a reactive approach,” said Beth Jackson, occupational health coordinator. “We really enjoy the wellness part of occupational health.” Wright Medical can perform onsite or in-house health screenings including height, weight, BMI, blood pressure and screening labs. At health fairs its team consisting of a nurse, a diabetes educator and a dietician can perform those tests as well as offer sleep apnea screening and education regarding healthy living. Health education presentations can be general or geared to the specific needs of the employer.

Weight-loss competitions are currently popular. Flu shot clinics and occupational screenings such as hearing testing and spirometry are also available. For more information, contact Jackson at 515- 532-9351 or tollfree at 855-974-4481. WELLNESS PROGRAMS often address mental as well as physical well-being. Many employers offer Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) to help workers deal with issues related to mental health. In addition to offering such a benefit to its own staff, Mercy Medical Center-North Iowa contracts with 35 area businesses to provide EAP services for their employees. MercyWorks EAP provides up to five free counseling sessions per year to employees and immediate family members. These confidenContinued on next page

Tips for wellness program success: Lisa Hegland, coordinator of wellness activities for Principal Financial in Mason City, offers the following advice for company wellness programs: 1. MOST ANY EMPLOYER can provide something. “Even if you’re a smaller company and have a break room, you could throw an exercise bike and a treadmill in the corner as a way to get started.” Hegland said there are many private fitness instructors willing to offer group classes, often on-site. “There seems to be no shortage of them.” 2. GET INPUT FROM EMPLOYEES as to what types of equipment, classes or other services they might wish to use. 3. CHANGE THINGS UP PERIODICALLY. New offerings tend to spark new interest. “You can’t keep going with the same thing.” 4. PROVIDE INCENTIVES AND/OR CHALLENGES. “People always love a little competition.” 5. DOCUMENT WHAT YOU DO. This allows employers to tout the program to prospective employees and may qualify the company for reduced rates with some health insurers. It also makes it more likely the program can be maintained if the employee who oversees it should leave. — By Tim Ackarman




Potential growing for locally grown food Group noticed disconnect between farmers and other community members, so it decided to do something to promote the benefits of locally grown food


of the Northeast Iowa Food & Farm Coalition (NIFF) shared what the organization she is part of has done ore than two dozen North for northeast Iowa since 2005. Iowans recently got a glimpse It was part of the North Iowa Area of the potential for a regional Community College Entrepreneur’s food group in the North Central Iowa Exchange on March 15. area. “The data we’ve been collecting Teresa Wiemerslage of Iowa State can be replicated across the state,” University Extension and coordinator Wiemerslage said.

THE NIFF COALITION began in Allamakee, Clayton, Chickasaw, Fayette, Howard and Winneshiek counties in 2006 after farmers noticed a disconnect between them, businesses and other community members. “We live in a very rural area,” Wiemerslage said. “The largest city

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body composition testing, fitness consultations and on-site fitness programs, classes and health challenges. “We’re getting more and more into (corporate wellness) with the health care reform,” said Liz Conley, Mason City YMCA executive director. “Healthy living — that’s what we’re trying to do.” To learn more about wellness options at the YMCA contact Christa Backus, health and wellness director, at 641-422-5999. MASON CITY


Continued on next page

PROGRAMS/From Page 15 tial sessions are normally held with one of nine Mercy-employed EAP providers working at five locations across the Mercy network. Some services are offered through contracts with outside providers on an as-needed basis. “I think it’s a great benefit,” said Connie Bleile, Mercy Kailo/EAP provider. (Kailo is Mercy’s in-house worksite health-promotion program.) “It’s a relief for employees and family members to know in spite of their financial situation they have free counseling sessions. You never know what’s going to come up in life.”

Health clubs: Many fitness centers offer corporate discounts and/or corporate wellness programs. The Mason City Family YMCA waives the normal $50 joining fee for employees of its corporate

members. Employees have the option of paying monthly fees through payroll deduction and the employer may contribute any amount it wishes to the employee’s membership. The Mason City Y offers a wide variety of facilities and exercise classes. YMCA members are also welcome at any of more than 2,500 facilities nationwide, an advantage for business travelers. Other corporate wellness options include blood pressure screening,

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LOCALLY GROWN FOOD/From Page 16 the area. • Creating ancillary businesses. If there are organic farms in the area someone might start a business selling organic seed. A food cooperative is another option. • More opportunities for rural communities. A local food system could create more jobs and businesses. “Vegetable farming is farming,” Wiemerslage said. “It’s a great way for young people to get into farming because it’s less capital intensive.” • Complementing Iowa’s global agriculture Schutt economy. Iowa exports corn and soybeans to other countries and a local market could complement POTENTIAL BENEFITS of doing so that. To help northeast Iowa realize these included: potential benefits NIFF began edu• An opportunity for diversifying farming operations. Soybean, corn or cating the public and businesses. It has worked with schools, colleges livestock farmers could add fruits, and other businesses, such as hospivegetables or other foods to their tals, to educate them on the benefits operations. of buying locally, Wiemerslage said. • Creating jobs. A study showed NIFF also serves as an outlet and that if NIFF’s area purchased 25 percent of its food locally it would create way to educate local producers. The group has been hosting several 204 jobs. workshops on topics such as food • Keeping dollars locally. Buying safety, she said. locally means that dollars stay in

in our six counties is Decorah... so when the farmers were starting to see a disconnect that was a red flag.” They decided to do something about it and through a grant from the Leopold Center in Ames they began strategic planning and various studies. They discovered that despite the area having more than 7,417 farms, more than 80 percent of the food consumed was grown elsewhere. As a result of the planning and studies, NIFF decided to focus on how it could increase Wiemerslage local food production and the number of people buying locally.

ALL OF THE MARKETING and efforts are paying off. “We’re starting to get data,” Wiemerslage said. “We’re starting to show this is good for the state.” Some data are showing that local food sales now make up nearly 2 percent of all food sales. It was about 1 percent before, she said. While it may not seem like very much, Wiemerslage pointed out that it amounts to more than $1 million. The local food system has also been able to support some of the area farmers. Some reported Libbey making from $500 to more than $800,000, Wiemerslage said. “Some farmers are making it work,” she said. LOCAL FARMERS are hoping it works in the North Central Iowa area, too. “This is a new conversation for this area,” said Jan Libbey, who is leading the way as a co-owner of One Step at a Time Gardens, Kanawha. “It’s very, very young.” However, the interest is definitely there.

On the Web: Many websites deal with locally grown food in Iowa. On Facebook, look for Iowa Local Food. Also, Google “Iowa local food” to start your search. “If given a choice people would probably buy local, but it has to be just as convenient as going to the grocery store,” said USDA employee Mark Schutt, who is also helping lead the way. “We’re starting to see some interest in institution buyers in the area.” For example, Diamond Jo Casino, Northwood, has expressed interest in buying local foods, as have corporate contacts at Hy-Vee, Schutt and Libbey said. The logistics of making such ventures happen and growing the local food market are currently under way. A local group meets regularly. Through a Leopold Center grant it is in the strategic planning stage. A key component of making local foods work will be making sure the market and capacity grow at the same time, Schutt said. However, if it all works out it has the potential to create jobs and businesses.

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‘Squeezed from both ends’ Oil prices have risen through the winter, sending gas and diesel fuel upward as well. Companies try not to pass on costs, but ... By RICHARD JOHNSON

Martin Brothers spent nearly $3.8 million on fuel — about 1.39 percent of its overall expenses — in 2010. gallon of No. 2 diesel fuel cost 99 cents in 1992, “It’s just been a steady climb over the years,” Bill Rohwedder’s first year as transportation Rohwedder said. “As a distributor, the hard part is, director for Martin Brothers Distributing. you get squeezed a little bit from both ends. The As the Cedar Falls-based food and restaurant companies bringing in the freight to our warehouse equipment distribution company has expanded to are incurring higher fuel costs. In turn, they’re passabout 3,500 business customers in 11 states, fuel ing it along to us. costs have spiked. “The thing we do not like to do is pass that on to In late February 2011 the cost of diesel in Iowa our customers,” he said. “We’re absorbing as much as ranged from $3.34 to $3.65 per gallon, according to we can to buffer our customers from that.” Martin Brothers set its trucks to run no faster than


63 mph to improve mileage, and it asks customers to be mindful when placing orders. It helps, Rohwedder said, if they can manage with one delivery instead of two. “And we as a company work very hard in making sure that we ship the orders correctly and in the right condition so we don’t have to worry about making a second delivery,” he said. Fuel retail costs reached all-time highs in July 2008 at $4.11 for regular gas and $4.85 for diesel across the U.S. and $3.98 and $4.73 in Waterloo-Cedar Falls. Continued on next page

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A semi stops at Pilot Truck Stop in Clear Lake. Many North Iowa businesses are trying to reduce travel costs for overthe-road vehicles as fuel costs escalate. RICHARD JOHNSON/ The Globe Gazette

FUEL PRICES/From Page 18 Oil prices topping $100 per barrel this winter have businesses scrambling. That spike was heightened by the turmoil in Libya. Plus the massive earthquake, tsunami and resulting nuclear woes in Japan have cast a massive cloud over the world oil market, with the impact still to be determined. As recently as Monday, oil prices tumbled as concerns grew about the economic impact. But it’s a sure bet that taxi and shuttle services, construction companies — even community service agencies that pay staffers to visit clients in their homes — are squeezing bottom lines. RISING FUEL COSTS must eventually be passed along to customers. “But you have to reduce them first,” said Joe Rottinghaus, pool shipping manager for Curries Co. and Graham Manufacturing Corp. in Mason City. The companies use trucks for hire. Curries ships non-residential steel

doors and Graham ships commercial wood doors to distribution centers and a network of distributors in all 48 states in the continental U.S. Curries spends about $8 million annually on freight costs while Graham spends about $3 million, Rottinghaus said. Fuel surcharges — up 3 to 5 percent from a year ago at this time — range from 10 to 20 percent, depending on the transportation mode. Among the companies’ cost-saving measures: • Load-planning of “pool” trucks to multiple stops, reducing miles and costs. Trucks are routed for the shortest possible trips. “That’s a major part of it,” Rottinghaus said. “That’s one of our No. 1 priorities in addition to making sure the trucks are full” and reducing backand-forth stops. Rottinghaus works closely with carriers and logistical partners.

Council” works to reduce waste and maximize energy savings at the Mason My advice to company lead- City facilities. Lights shut off automatically when ers would be listen no one’s in a certain area, air curtains at shipping areas keep heat in and cold to every idea that out, and high-volume, low-speed fans has an opportunity reduce heating and cooling costs and to cross your path increase employee comfort. “I feel through employee involveand make transment and new technology, Curries and portation a positive Graham are making excellent strides in saving energy while continuing to be method to sell your products focused to meet and exceed customer rather than an expense.” demand,” Rottinghaus said. — Joe Rottinghaus “My advice to company leaders Pool shipping manager for Curries Co. would be, listen to every idea that has and Graham Manufacturing Corp. an opportunity to cross your path and make transportation a positive method “Fuel is definitely a part of those dis- to sell your products rather than an cussions on a day-to-day basis,” he expense,” he said. said. “You have to keep that communication open on a daily, weekly and MINNEAPOLIS-BASED Jefferson monthly basis.” Bus Lines’ 70 or so buses roll about 7 • Curries/Graham’s internal “Green Continued on next page


Fuel-saving tips: • Cedar Falls-based Martin Brothers Distributing asks its truckers to shut off their vehicles when idle. An old rule of thumb from Martin Brothers Transportation Director Bill Rohwedder: a truck burns about a gallon of fuel for every hour it idles. • It’s a team effort, said Jefferson Bus Lines President Charlie Zelle. “What we’ve been working on is to make sure everybody knows how important it is to be responsible in how we use fuel, where we go, where we drive,” he said.“And I think everybody’s much more conscious of that.” • Make sure trucks are full, reduce back-andforth stops and route trips as short as possible, said Joe Rottinghaus of Curries-Graham in Mason City. “Just keep working at that list really hard,” he said. — By Richard Johnson



FUEL PRICES/From Page 19 million miles per year. “We generally will use over 1 million gallons a year,” said company President Charlie Zelle, whose grandfather, Edgar Zelle, bought the Jefferson Highway Transportation Co. in 1925 (Jefferson Lines Inc. was established in 1968). “We average about 6 miles per gallon,” he said. “We’re trying to do a little bit better than that.” Jefferson, which provides service to North Iowa at the Mason City Municipal Airport, has converted its fleet to more fuel-efficient tires and reset its gear ratios and differentials for better efficiency. Drivers are urged to practice “environmental driving” — don’t overaccelerate, over-stop or idle too long. The company also reduced stops in Oklahoma and Texas a year ago while increasing service in Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin, and added a schedule between Minneapolis and Kansas City. An ironic godsend in the midst of the battle: high fuel prices. Jefferson’s ridership rose 10 to 15 percent when gas rose to $4 per gallon in 2008.

Jefferson Bus Lines President Charlie Zelle (left), shown on one of his company’s buses, said the firm is taking conservation steps and thriving in the face of rising fuel costs. Photo courtesy of Jefferson Bus Lines

“If you track the fuel on a passenger basis, we have a low carbon footprint and very low fuel cost for each passenger,” Zelle said. “The revenue that we’ve been able to generate by attracting more riders more than offsets the additional cost of higher fuel prices. “I think this economic downturn was probably harder on the leisure travel business, like charter tours,” he said. “Our scheduled business has continued to be healthy. “Having said that, I don’t know any business that hasn’t had to adjust in order to survive and flourish.” Jim Offner of the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, a Lee Enterprises newspaper, contributed to this report.




Commitment to growth Working for the city and for the region, the goal is to attract jobs, businesses and population growth By JOHN SKIPPER MASON CITY

he Mason City Council identified job creation as its No. 1 priority this year and is embarking on several programs to attract business and help existing businesses. Regionally, Mason City, Clear Lake and Cerro Gordo County continue to work together to bring jobs to the area. Vickie Snyder, president of the North Iowa Corridor Economic Development Corp., said marketing the region makes more sense than each entity marketing itself individually. Snyder “What benefits one community will benefit the other,” she said. Snyder said an example is the move of Titan Pro from Belmond to Clear Lake. “They looked at Bookmeyer both Mason City and Clear Lake. They chose Clear Lake and brought 40 employees with them — so the whole area benefits.”


JEFF HEINZ/The Globe Gazette

The renovated Mason City Public Library’s main checkout desk as viewed from the second floor. The library underwent a $9.2 million renovation, $7.6 million of which was approved by voters in a bond issue.

residential properties on their improvements, said Mason City Mayor Eric Bookmeyer. IN MASON CITY, one of the new For example, if a family wanted to construct a new room, kitchen concepts is a residential rebate or garage which was worth program on new and remodeled homes. It would offer a three-year $20,000 they would be rebated the 100 percent property tax rebate to taxable value of the improvement

100 percent over the next three years. If a family built a new home, it would receive a three-year 100 percent rebate on the taxable value of the new home with certain conditions. Programs like these help home-

owners and are an inducement for people to stay in Mason City and work and raise their families, said Bookmeyer. THE CITY IS ALSO involved in programs to improve the looks of Continued on Page 23



MASON CITY/From Page 21

JEFF HEINZ/The Globe Gazette

The Mason City Architectural Interpretive Center is located at 520 First St. N.E. The architecture education center is located next to the Stockman House, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in the Prairie School style and constructed in 1908. City officials say cultural improvements are related to the Mason City jobs priority because a city needs amenities that will be attractive to young families interested in moving to Mason City.

About Mason City: • Population: 28,079 • Median Age: 39.6 • Average household size: 2.23 • Average family size: 2.86 • Known for: Strong musical tradition and a rich architectural heritage. Mason City is the largest retail shopping hub in North Iowa. — Source: www.

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Drawing courtesy of Flad Architects

Mercy Medical Center-North Iowa’s new Emergency Department, shown in this drawing, is under construction.

MASON CITY/From Page 21 the downtown area. The Federal Avenue Streetscape program, admittedly behind schedule, will bring a new look and new life to downtown, he said. In addition, several business owners have expressed interest in a program in which the city will partner with businesses to improve their facades. While all of these things are in the works, several cultural projects, part of the Vision Iowa project, are either finished or well on their way to completion, said Bookmeyer. The Mason City Public Library underwent a $9.2 million renovation — $7.6 million of which was approved by voters in a bond issue. The Architectural Interpretive Center, an architecture education center next to the Stockman House, will be open soon. The Historic Park Inn, the last existing hotel designed by famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright, is expected to be open this fall. Bookmeyer said the cultural improvements are related to the jobs priority because a city needs amenities that will be attractive to young families interested in moving to Mason City. Another area that Bookmeyer finds exciting is the city’s relationship with Clear Lake.

“We recognize, and so does Clear Lake, that we can accomplish so much more together than we can independently. We have a strong relationship with Clear Lake where both communities will benefit,” said Bookmeyer. Officials from both cities and from Cerro Gordo County are partners in Common Ground, an initiative to determine the best use of the land in the corridor on Highway 122 between Mason City and Clear Lake. IN BOOKMEYER’S “state of the city” message this year, the mayor made mention of several reasons why he thinks Mason City is a city on the go. • It is 565th in the state in consolidated taxes. The only city in Iowa where it is cheaper to live, from a city and county tax standpoint, is Ames. • Mason City has the lowest cost of living of dozens of cities listed in various national surveys. • The Mason City School System has $5 million in bids out to renovate public schools — meaning more construction work coming up and, in the end, more modern schools. • Mercy Medical Center-North Iowa, already nationally recognized for the services it provides, is building a $17 million Emergency Department. While Bookmeyer is optimistic about the future, he realizes it poses its share of challenges.

One of the big ones is trying to do something about the city’s lack of population growth. He is not the only mayor to express this concern. Former Mayor Roger Bang used to lament about what he called two Iowas — one that is growing and one that isn’t — and Mason City is in the one that isn’t. In Bang’s administration, immediately preceding Bookmeyer’s, a Community Growth Development and Planning Department was formed to help address the problem.

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‘Well-rounded and balanced’ Administrator: ‘We try to provide and we strive to offer a varied network of things to do here’ By PEGGY SENZARINO CLEAR LAKE

lear Lake is a community that thrives on balance. “Philosophically from the city government perspective and I think probably from the City Council perspective, I think one of the keys to our success is providing a wellrounded and balanced community,” City Administrator Scott Flory said. “By that I mean we are not just a community that focuses exclusively on traditional infrastrucFlory ture.” Flory said there are communities that consider it a good year if at the end of the year they’ve done a certain amount of paving, sewer replacement and storm sewer improvements. “Very few businesses relocate to a community because they’ve got a Globe Gazette photo really sound sanitary sewer system,” Clear Lake bulges at the seams annually for the huge Fourth of July festival that features a parade, carnival, fireworks and great Flory said. food. But there’s something going on just about every weekend in downtown Clear Lake. “WE TRY TO PROVIDE and we much as we possibly can with other “Every community can provide Lake makes a huge difference in the strive to offer a varied network of governmental entities like the Clear those. But not every community of quality of life.” things to do here. We really have Lake Sanitary District to find oppor10,000 people or less has a wellFlory said downtown redeveloptried to, through different projects tunities where there are benefits to rounded art, culture and entertainment including the construction of including the Arts Center, Central Lake Plaza and Park Centre projects, both entities in doing projects,” Flory ment offerings and we do.” Gardens, City Beach improvements, Architect and Clear Lake resident the new Clear Lake VFW post, reha- said. lake restoration and a public-private Randy Cram said the people of Clear bilitation of a former bank building He said Clear Lake works those partnership with the Surf Ballroom, Lake make the difference. into an Arts Center and construction public-private partnerships to their to really be able to provide more than of parking lots around the downtown maximum. “The people are very cooperative just what you get as a traditional “The City Council certainly sees and want to see North Iowa grow and area are important pieces of the community with police, fire, water the value of investing in their comoverall workings of the city. prosper,” Cram said. “Obviously, and sewer services,” Flory said. “We also focus on trying to do as having a nature resource like Clear


Continued on next page



CLEAR LAKE/From Page 24 munity to make it grow and prosper,” Cram said. Cram and Flory said Clear Lake’s location at the intersection of Interstate 35 and Highway 18 is a selling point to business. It is also provides a building block for cooperation between Mason City and Clear Lake in efforts to bring new jobs and industry to North Iowa. “Clear Lake and Mason City complement each other. There are things that we have in Clear Lake that Mason City may not have. We complement really well,” Flory said. Cram But every city has its challenges. “Our challenge is to try to continue the momentum and the success that we’ve had and not to get complacent with our past success,” Flory said. CLEAR LAKE MAYOR NELSON CRABB said there seems to be a strong love for the community among its residents. “Whenever there seems to be a call for volunteers it seems to be answered almost instantly,” Crabb said. An example is the hundreds of volunteers that turned out to help last summer when the Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI) rolled into Clear Lake for a night. Dozens of volunteers help organize the annual July 4th and Christmas celebrations. Even more people get involved with the Winter Dance Party and other events at the Surf Ballroom. JEFF HEINZ/The Globe Gazette Crabb said the residents are willing to pay through Riders, residents and visitors alike won’t soon forget the spectacle that was the overnight stop in Clear Lake last July by bond issues for necessary projects including conthe Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa. Many riders said they would return to spend more time in Clear Lake Continued on next page and North Iowa. Clear Lake residents approved a $2.3 million bond issue on Aug. 3, 2010, to finance construction of the fire station on North Eighth Street Street. It is scheduled to be completed this fall. JEFF HEINZ/ The Globe Gazette



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About Clear Lake: • Population: 7,777 • Median Age: 41 • Average household size: 2.28 • Average family size: 2.86 • Known for: • Surf Ballroom, where Buddy Holly, J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson and Ritchie Valens gave their final performance and which is an active cultural, community and concert center today. • The Clear Lake Arts Center and a variety of cultural activities. • A vibrant business community. • Clear Lake State Park and McIntosh Woods State Park. • Activities nearly every weekend in City Park. • And, of course, the beautiful lake. Quoting Mayor Nelson Crabb: “There aren’t many communities that have a lake at the end of Main Street.”: — For more, go to

CLEAR LAKE/From Page 25 struction of Clear Creek Elementary School and the new fire station. “They see the need for those things in this community,” Crabb said. But it’s more than that. “The 3,600-acre pond that we have doesn’t hurt anything certainly,” Crabb said. “There aren’t many communities that have a lake at the end of Main Street.” Crabb said Clear Lake is also blessed with people willing to help with events that bring visitors to City Park in downtown Clear Lake just about every weekend from Memorial Day through Labor Day. “That’s not common in every community, that’s for sure,” Crabb said.

All sorts of boats can be seen skimming the waves on Clear Lake during the summer. The lake is host to several major regattas.

JAKE RAJEWSKY/The Globe Gazette

Poodle skirts, bobby sox, ponytails, slicked-back hair, great music and good times are all part of the tradition for the annual Winter Dance Party held in February at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake. The Surf, a non-profit entity, operates year-round with concerts, wedding receptions and other events. It is open weekdays for visitors to view the many photos and other historical items.

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Tips for hiring a more honest staff Redesign your hiring process to protect against ‘selective integrity’ stealing, engaging in sexual harassment, or cutting corners at the cost of high ethical standards. Ask them if a superior ever requested that they do something unethical and, if so, how did they react. Even those who are dishonest with their answers can reveal how they feel about ethics in general. • R e v i e w B e h a v io ra l In f o rm at io n : Behavioral information can be gathered about job candidates through resumes, reference checks, background checks and some basic integrity tests that quiz candidates through “what would you do” style situations. Three standard integrity tests come from the Reid Report, the Stanton Survey and the Personnel Selection Inventory (PSI), which are easily found with a Google search. • Test Personality Traits: The traits that govern BUT DENIS COLLINS, author of “Essentials of whether an employee is more or less inclined to Business Ethics” ( dishonest include conscientiousness,, believes there is another alternative — zational citizenship behavior and social domisimply hire better. nance. For the first two, you want to see high “Although it may seem complex, one hedge scores — not so much on the last one. Again, peragainst employee theft and fraud is to redesign sonality tests are widely available to test these the hiring process to help screen for employees traits. who suffer from ‘selective integrity,’ ” said • Other Tests: Some of the most revealing tests Collins, a former business manager and tenured are the obvious ones — alcohol tests, drug tests college professor who holds a Ph.D. in business and even polygraph tests, when permitted by law. environment and public policy. Many candidates may object to these as employ“After an employer fires someone for theft, the ment requirements, but in a world in which 7 pernatural question they ask is, ‘How’d we even hire cent of our entire economy goes up in smoke from that guy?’ Well, by changing your hiring pracemployee theft and fraud, companies should not tices, you can screen out people who are more feel shy about drawing a line in the sand. likely to steal, and reduce the number of times While those who refuse to take those tests may you ever have to ask yourself that question again.” not have anything to hide, it’s clear that those who agree to those tests have nothing to hide. COLLINS’ TIPS for managers who screen new “Fraud and malfeasance at the highest levels of job candidates include: some of the country’s largest companies con• Obey Legal Ground Rules: While there are tributed to the 2008 to 2010 recession, and have many questions the law forbids you to ask job been a willing assistant in keeping our economy candidates to eliminate discrimination, there are down,” Collins added. “It would be interesting if we could have turned still many questions you can ask. the clocks back and run those executives through • U s e E t h i c s - B a s e d I n t e r v i e w Q u e s t i o n s : Too an ethics-oriented hiring process, and perhaps many interviewers gloss over questions that test eliminated some of the fraud and theft that an individual’s character. Ask the candidate how he or she responded at a previous job to someone helped level our economy.


“Short of that, all we can do is pave the way for a better future by taking some very basic steps to help weed out the unethical and dishonest from our nation’s talent pool.” — Dr. Denis Collins is a professor of business at Edgewood College in Madison, Wis. He is responsible for social responsibility and business ethics components in the school’s business programs. Collins currently serves on the Editorial Board of Encyclopedia of Business Ethics and Society, Journal of Business Ethics and Journal of Academic Ethics. He has served on the Board of Governance for the Social Issues in Management Division of the Academy of Management and the International Association for Business and Society.

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Special to In Business t’s not just hard finding good help these days — it’s hard finding honest help, too. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, approximately 75 percent of all employees steal from work in some way. What’s worse is that about 30 percent of all corporate bankruptcies are a direct result of employee theft. The National Retail Security Survey in 2009 said you can also subtract a whopping $15.9 billion each year just from retailers who suffer from employee theft. With the problem so widespread, many companies simply factor those losses into their yearly projections and then hope it’s not worse by year’s end.

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10 WAYS ... ... to show your employees you care without giving them a raise Special to In Business s unemployment remains high, so do the number of businesses that are either closing their doors or are looking for ways to reduce their overhead and hang on during these slow times. Millions of companies simply cannot afford to give their employees raises or bonuses at this time, regardless of how much they may deserve one. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t show those employees that you care and appreciate their services. “Not giving out raises can have a real negative impact on employee morale and motiva-


tion. You may even lose some talented individuals,” said K. Habib Khan, chief academic officer and acting dean of the School of Business at Stratford University (www.stratford. edu). “But if you still take the time to show that you appreciate them during this rough economic time, they will be more likely to hang in there and remain dedicated and loyal employees.” Companies are finding many different ways to reward their employees without having the added expense of giving everyone a raise. Here are 10 ways you can reward your employees that

will show them your gratitude, but will also cost you a fraction of what it would to give out raises: • Provide additional paid time off. Even if it is just one or two days out of the year, it will be appreciated. • Give them the ability to have a flexible schedule. Many people would appreciate being able to work four 10-hour days per week, or working one day per week at home. • Allow a casual dress code, even if it is just one day per week (like casual Friday). • Provide a catered lunch or pizza party once a month. • Celebrate each employee’s

birthday with a cake and gift card. • Once a month have everyone’s car washed on-site by a mobile wash company. • Periodically bring in a massage therapist to provide everyone with a complimentary chair massage. • Keep stashes of things to occasionally give away to those going above and beyond the call of duty. This could be gift cards, concert or event tickets, or health club memberships. • Set up a relaxation or recreation room where employees can de-stress and/or have some fun. You may want to include a TV or

perhaps a pool table. • Offer them a title change. Even if you can’t afford to pay them more they appreciate being able to have a new title, which will provide them additional benefits for years to come. “Even if you pick one of these ideas each year, your employees will really appreciate that you took the time to show them your appreciation,” said Khan. “This is just a short list of all the possibilities that are out there. Get to know your employees and you will have plenty of ways to reward them without adding a great deal to your overhead.”

Business transition planning: Why it can be so important s a successful small business owner have you considered what will happen to your business in the future? Most small business owners have thought about transitioning their business in the future but have not yet put a plan in place. Nationally, 46 percent of all businesses have thought about business succession. While 45 percent of larger businesses have a succession plan, only 14 percent of small businesses have such a plan. Additionally, 80 percent of all businesses have not named successors. Succession planning affects many future financial implications as well as many relationships. Small business owners need to consider the impact of


business succession planning as it relates to: • When should I consider business succession planning? • How do I implement a business succession plan? • Who should I transition my business to: Family? Outside party? • How will the transition affect my family? • Who do I need to consult to determine the amount I need to receive from my business? • What are the tax implications? • Can I retain some control of my business after the transition? • How will the transition affect my retirement income? • Can I continue my current

lifestyle? • How will the business community be affected by my business transition? The Iowa Small Business Development Centers is holding three workshops to provide information on the benefits of timely business succession planning and hands-on assistance on how to plan for the transition of ownership of a business. “Put Success in Succession” workshops will be offered in Marion on April 27, Emmetsburg on May 3 and Davenport on May 18. Topics covered will include: selling a business to family, employees or outside buyers; successful strategies and landmines; assembling a team

and the succession process; buying/selling motivation and issues; legal, tax and financial considerations; along with panel discussions by local experts and resource providers. Business owners at any stage of succession planning, or those who want an understanding of the process for the future, are encouraged to attend one of these workshops. Cost is $59 for the first attendee from a company and $29 for each additional attendee from the same company, which includes lunch and a resource guide. Registration, specific locations, times and more information are all available at



Behind those walls: Metalcraft 60 years of adapting to change in the ID business

LAURA BIRD/The Globe Gazette

Metalcraft employee Kathy Rasmussen works with a roll of labels at the Mason City business that makes identification plates and labels.

The story begins on Page 31

For the second consecutive year, Clear Lake Bank & Trust has been recognized as a top lender in the state of Iowa by the U.S. Small Business Administration. In 2010, Clear Lake Bank & Trust approved 22 SBA guaranteed loans worth more than $3.3 million to small businesses in North Iowa. Pictured front row: Chris Deets, Asst. Vice President, Commercial Banking, CLB&T; Joe Folsom, SBA Des Moines District Office; Mark Hewitt, President/CEO, CLB&T; Keith McBride, SBA Cedar Rapids Back row: Natalie Meyer, Commercial Banking Officer, CLB&T; Dennis Larkin, SBA Cedar Rapids; Paul Stevenson, Sr. Vice President, Commercial Banking/Chief Credit Officer, CLB&T Clear Lake: 357.7121 • Garner: 923.3621 Mason City: 423.7121 •




‘Everything has a bar code on it’ By LAURA BIRD MASON CITY

his past November Metalcraft, Mason City, celebrated 60 years. Over those 60 years the identification plate and label maker, which began as a solution for the Bostitch Stapler Co.’s identification needs, has seen many changes and faced various challenges. One of the biggest has been keeping up with the ever-changing needs of customers and technology. “If we were still only producing aluminum name plates we probably Peterson wouldn’t be in business today,” said Doug Peterson, CEO/CFO. The company, which has clients nationally and internationally, still produces aluminum name plates. But now the plates and labels come in a variety of materials and adhesives, and include technology such LAURA BIRD/The Globe Gazette as bar codes. “Everything out there, you look at it and it has a Metalcraft employees Ed Ries (left) and Gary Downs work bar code on it,” Peterson said. on the radio frequency identification (RFID) converter Continued on next page machine that was specially built for the Mason City business.


About Metalcraft: • Location: 149 Fourth St. S.W., Mason City (shown at left). • Phone: 641423-9460. • Website:

JEFF HEINZ/The Globe Gazette




METALCRAFT/From Page 31 BAR CODES CHANGED the business, which was once a division of Kayenay Colorplate and Engraving Co., and now another technology is doing the same thing — radio frequency identification (RFID). It works by placing a chip between the label and adhesive, and then the information is read by a radio frequency reader, Peterson explained. It gives businesses another way to track their product and assets. The new technology has become so important that Metalcraft had a special machine built just to make the product. “It’s a one-of-a-kind equipment we had specifically built for us,” Peterson said. “It’s kind of a neat thing. We’ve had it almost five years.” METALCRAFT HAS BEEN ABLE to keep up with the various industry and technology changes by listening to clients, research, attending trade shows and belonging to trade associations. Doing so has kept it going through good times and bad times, Peterson said. For example, the RFID labels really helped Metalcraft through the recent recession. “That has really picked up and minimized the impact on declining sales,” Peterson said. “Our sales have continued to increase in that area.” Overall sales were down about 13 to 14 percent during the recession, he said. DESPITE THE NEW TECHNOLOGY, other measures had to be taken to make it through the recession. Peterson said they didn’t fill two open positions, LAURA BIRD/The Globe Gazette two people were laid off, there was a pay freeze and Kristy Juhl uses a spartanics machine to make identification plates at the Metalcraft plant in Mason City. they shifted around paid time off to keep overtime under control. “We just looked at expenses and tried to keep those under control,” he said. All of it has helped and today Metalcraft employs To advertise in In Business, 75 people. call Greg Wilderman It’s Electric Continuing initiatives, such as Lean, have helped, at 641-421-0545 It’s Economical It’s Efficient It’s Easy

Continued on next page

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Barb Johanns, Metalcraft employee, cleans a screen press printer at the Mason City business. LAURA BIRD/ The Globe Gazette

METALCRAFT/From Page 32 too. For the last several years Metalcraft has been trying to make the company more efficient through the Lean initiative. It even has a part-time Lean chairperson, Peterson said. Through various Lean forms and other programs, it has looked at the work flow and how to make it better. Changes have been made reflecting the results. “I think we’ve brought a return on that investment,” Peterson said. Along similar lines Metalcraft conducts strategic and annual planning. “It helps focus and prioritize projects,” Peterson said. “It helps us focus on the project that is most critical for our success.” Another aspect of the company that has been rewarding is switching to a employee stock ownership plan

(ESOP). That means Metalcraft employees own part of the company. Peterson said it has resulted in more long-term employees with more motivation to see Metalcraft succeed. “We have great employees,” he said. Those employees also worked together to help Metalcraft get through the floods of 2008 when it had 5 feet of water in its basement. “They worked really hard and didn’t miss a beat,” Peterson said. Metalcraft employees also work hard to give back to the community, he said. “We do fundraisers for Cheer Fund, help with Relay for Life, have an United Way campaign and participate in what they used to call Day of Caring,” Peterson said. “It’s one of our values to give back to the community.” For more information about Metalcraft visit

Metalcraft CEO’s tips for success: Tips for success from Doug Peterson, CEO/CFO for Metalcraft, Mason City. • A TEAM-BASED WORK ENVIRONMENT. Metalcraft employees work in teams and some of the decision-making is left up to those teams, Peterson said. The system works well, he said. • STRATEGIC AND ANNUAL PLANNING. “It helps focus and prioritize projects,” Peterson said. “It helps us focus on the project that is most critical for our success.” • THE LEAN INITIATIVE. Metalcraft is constantly looking for ways to become more efficient, Peterson said. “I think we’ve brought a return on that

investment,” he said. • APPROACH SEVERAL DIFFERENT MEDIA IN SALES AND MARKETING. That will allow companies to reach as many people as possible. “We use a lot of different channels,” Peterson said. • ESOP. An employee stock ownership plan has helped Metalcraft retain long-term quality employees, Peterson said. Being part owner in the company gives them even more motivation to see it succeed, he said. • COMMUNICATE WITH EMPLOY EES. “Keep people informed of the good and bad news,” Peterson said. — By Laura Bird




Small business needs to optimize Internet search words By BRUCE FREEMAN Scripps Howard News Service

Dear Professor Bruce: I have heard a lot about search engine optimization (SEO) and do not quite under stand it. I have a new site for my toy store. What can search engine opti mization do for me with respect to increasing sales for my small business? A: Search engine optimization is the process of adding appropriate copy and coding to a website to increase the number of visitors to that site. When someone types in a particular word or phrase in a search engine like Google, Yahoo!, Bing, etc., the sites that are optimized for these words appear in the listing of unpaid, or “natural,” search results. And the higher a site appears on the list, the more likely someone will click on it. According to Melanie Rembrandt, an SEO copywriter and author of “Simple Publicity,” SEO is a costeffective way to increase sales and beat the competition. “If your competitors have optimized their sites and appear at the top of the results for keywords in your industry, and your site does not, you are missing out on sales,” Rembrandt said. “In order to compete in today’s online world, it’s essential to take advantage of search engine optimization. Plus, it has several advantages to help you: 1. Save money. With SEO, it’s possible to track the most popular words on your site, discover what visitors respond to most and uncover current customer needs. With this information, you can change the wording on your site to fit the needs of your target market, talk about a specific line of toy products, use the words that provide the best results and delete those that don’t. This way you can stop marketing campaigns (and costly advertising)

that aren’t working immediately and focus on the messaging that brings in sales. 2. Save time. By having a database of top keywords (you can create it by using services like the Google Keyword Tool and Trellian’s Keyword Discovery), you’ll save time writing website copy, advertisements, blogs, newsletters, e-mails and more because you’ll know which words will have the best results. 3. Build buzz. By using your keywords in all of your copy just a few times, your site will appear on the search engines more prevalently over time. More people will see your information and your site will get additional visitors. As a small business owner, it’s essential to take advantage of SEO in order to compete. For further information, visit

About the author: Bruce Freeman, The Small Business Professor, is president of Proline Communications, a marketing and public relations firm in Livingston, N.J., and coauthor of “Birthing the Elephant” (Ten Speed Press). E-mail questions to

appreciate you’re taking a quick look though your database and giving me the names of two or three people who might be interested.” Ask for permission to use their name when you make the next call.

Grow your business by writing a book

Dear Professor Bruce: I am a dog trainer with a great local reputation. I would like to expand my business but I’m only one person. I’ve thought about training others but how can I convince people it’s worth it to pay me to teach them what I know? A: One great way to expand your paper up and move on. When you see business is to write a book. When you them on paper you’ll probably realize are an author and a recognized “expert” that your anxiety was out of proporin your field, people will pay to buy tion to your real situation anyway. “Out of sight, out of mind.” Staying your book, hear you speak and be taught by you. connected is critical. As the economy Rick Frishman, founder of recovers you want your clients, former clients, strategic partners and business “Author101University” knows about associates to remember you first when that first hand. “I’ll be the first to services and products are needed. Slow admit that I’m not the greatest writer, times are great times to do the projects but I have 12 books published. Many non-fiction books are written by you usually put on the back burner. As business slows, keep Send an e-mail, postcard or letter to ghostwriters and all authors have editors to improve content before publia couple of hundred industry associin touch with clients ates with an industry tip or humorous cation. The key is to determine what Dear Professor Bruce: My small people want and give it to them.” business is way off in this recessionary cartoon. The first thing to do is to write a Write an article or newsletter. You economy. Do you have any advice? book proposal; check the library for a don’t have to be a literary genius. You A. When times are tough and busijust have to keep your name in front of book on how to do that. The proposal ness is down, it’s hard to remember all the people who will be in a position will address all aspects of book publithat good times will come again. Com- to purchase product or service (or rec- cation. plaining may give you some momenOnce you have your proposal writommend you to the people who do) tary relief but it doesn’t bring custen, there are three publication choices: when business picks up. tomers through the door. A positive Once a week, pick up the phone and 1. Traditional publisher — for this you mental attitude is absolutely the most call five industry colleagues from must have a literary agent. 2. Self-pubimportant aspect to recovering from whom you haven’t heard recently. Just lish — you pay the costs of publication, anything. The determination to sucbecause business is slow for you does- and 3. Print on demand — each copy is ceed can work miracles no matter what n’t mean it’s slow for them. They may printed as it is purchased. Decide on the climate or situation. the route you want to take and sell the have some collateral business that proposal. Bolster that positive mental attitude could help you. The two most important things to with positive speech. You can’t stay When you speak to an industry colremember are that you are writing the focused on motivating yourself or your league and they indicate they have no book to grow your core business and employees if you sabotage yourself, business for you, do NOT say, “If you your company or industry with negahear of anything, would you keep me in you must bear the cost in both time and money as you would any other tive comments. If you need to reduce mind?” Everyone will say “yes” to be marketing strategy. Getting a book your anxiety by communicating your polite. Polite means good manners, published is as much about getting misery or speaking your fears, put which are important, but it does not them on paper. When you’ve gotten mean more business. Instead, try this, your foot in the door as it is what you write. your troubles off your chest, tear that “While we’re talking, I would really




Act now, save big on taxes Save the Date! Make use of the Section 179 and bonus depreciation deductions By CRAIG BRAGET Tax Director, Mason City Office of RSM McGladrey ct now — take advantage of the Section 179 and bonus depreciation deductions and save big on your taxes. What is the Section 179 deduction? Section 179 of the Internal Revenue Code allows for an active trade or business to deduct, for the current tax year, the full purchase price of new or used equipment and off-the-shelf software that qualifies for the deduction. The eligible property must be within the specified dollar limits of Section 179 and the equipment must be placed into service in the same tax year that the deduction is being taken. What’s the difference between Section 179 and Bonus Depreciation? The most important difference is both new and used equipment qualify for Section 179 deduction, while Bonus Depreciation covers only new equipment. For tax years 2010 and 2011 only certain qualified real property is now eligible for expensing under Section 179, which is limited to $250,000 of the maxi-


For equipment placed in service after Dec. 31, About the author: 2011, and through Dec. Craig Braget is a tax director in the 31, 2012, the bill provides Mason City office of RSM McGladrey. He for 50 percent bonus has more than 16 years of public depreciation. accounting experience, including help• However, The Small ing clients with tax compliance, regulaBusiness Jobs Act of tory issues, mergers and acquisitions, 2010, which contained S Corp conversions and marketing con50 percent bonus sultation. For more information, contact depreciation, still him at applies to purchases made from Jan. 1, 2010, tion 179 expensing levels through Sept. 7, 2010. mum $500,000 yearly • Depreciation bonus to $500,000 for 2010 expense limit. helps businesses that and 2011. This new provision cut their tax bill buy • The phase-out now allows for qualified new equipment. threshold amount is $2 retail improvement • Applies, among million. property, and qualified other things, to pur• The new tax cut restaurant property elichases of tangible perextension law also gible for expense treatsonal property (includment as bonus deprecia- extends Section 179 ing construction, minexpensing for taxable tion doesn’t apply for years beginning in 2012, ing, forestry, and these two items. agricultural equipBonus depreciation is at $125,000 and ment), land improveuseful to very large busi- $500,000 respectively, ments and Qualified indexed for inflation. nesses spending more Leasehold Improve• New and used than $2 million on new equipment is eligible for ment Property, all with capital equipment in a MACRS recovery expensing. 2011; also businesses period of 20 years or • Can be combined with a net loss in 2011 with bonus depreciation. less. qualify to carry forward • Applies to “original Depreciation Bonus At A use” property only. the bonus depreciation Glance • Allowed for both to a future year. regular and alternative When applying these • The Tax Relief, minimum tax purposes. Unemployment Insurprovisions, Section 179 • Bonus depreciation ance Reauthorization is generally taken first, and Job Creation Act of is required unless an followed by bonus 2010 provides 100 per- irrevocable asset class depreciation — unless by asset class electionthe business has no tax- cent additional depreciation (bonus depreci- out is made. able profit in 2011. ation) for capital — To learn more Section 179 — Expensing investments placed in about the new tax proAt A Glance: service after Sept. 8, visions visit • The Small Business 2010, through Dec. 31, www.mcgladrey. Jobs Act increased Sec2011. com/newtax.

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Speaker: Fight glass ceiling with your own board of directors By LAURA BIRD MASON CITY hen Eric Shoars’ mother was an adult in the 1960s she decided that she wanted to pursue a career. So she traveled to Des Moines where she placed third in the state on a test to sell insurance and went to work for All Insurance’s first all-female team. However, while working she ran into numerous barriers, such as society’s view on women in business, and eventually quit. “I’ve always wondered how far could she have gone without these limitations,” said Shoars, a North Iowa native, radio broadcasting veteran and education crusader, recently at North Iowa Area Community College, Mason City. His presentation on his book, “Women Under Glass: Secret Nature of Glass Ceilings,” was part of the Entrepreneurs’ Exchange sponsored by the Pappajohn Center at NIACC.


SHOARS HAS BEEN FIGHTING for women in business since he was an adult because of what his mother went through. “I refuse to ask what could have been for them,” Shoars said, referring to younger generations such as his stepdaughter, nieces and great-nieces. When most people talk about the glass ceiling for women in business, the topics usually are the number of women in executive positions and disparity in pay, but Shoars said the focus should be elsewhere. “That’s the results of the problem, not the cause,” he said. “As long as we focus on the results and not the problem it will perpetuate.” Not knowing how high the ceiling is and unwritten business rules are some of the causes, but the biggest is society, Shoars said. “Ever since we were kids they’ve been telling us what’s acceptable for genders,” he said. Those societal norms then trickle into the business world. THE BEST WAY for women to fight these norms

and the glass ceiling is to form what Shoars called a personal board of directors. He suggested seven people for the board based on an idea that there’s only six degrees of separation between everyone in the world thanks to technology. “It’s all about who can connect you to other people,” Shoars said. “It’s who do you know that knows someone you want to be connected with?” The board will likely change over Shoars the years, but he suggests five certain types of people. • A creator, or someone who is always coming up with ideas. This person can help someone see opportunities. • A challenger. This person will help someone expand their horizons. • A clarifier. When a woman is stuck on what to do the clarifier will ask questions and provide an outside perspective. • A connector, or someone who knows everyone. • A wise elder. The wise elder has “been there, done that” and can provide advice from that perspective. For the remaining two board members, Shoars suggests filling in any weak spots in the list above. “Have a strategy,” he said. WOMEN ALSO NEED to have a strategy when asking people to be on their personal board of directors. For the best results women should be up front and let them know how long they’ll want their advice and how often they’ll want to meet with them. “The more specific you can be the better,” Shoars said. Once the board is formed they can provide guidance, connections, advocate for the woman and help her come up with a plan which will assist in breaking the glass ceiling. “My goal ... is the mindset to live by design, not by default,“Shoars said. “Have a plan.” For more information about Eric Shoars and his books visit

White House study shows women’s gains but lagging pay By ANN BELSER Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The last time the White House took a good look at the status of women in the country, John F. Kennedy was president and Eleanor Roosevelt was chairwoman of a commission on the issue. Now, 48 years later, the White House has come back for another look in the report titled “Women in America: Indicators of Social and Economic Well-being.” The numbers show that while women are earning more college degrees than men and more women are working than ever before, they still don’t make as much as men and they are more likely to experience poverty. The reasons are complicated, of course, but the choice of career fields combined with family responsibilities continue to weigh heavily in the stories of women’s lives. WHAT THE STATISTICS show is a huge societal shift for women over the past 40 years, something most Americans have seen and known, but that has not been quantified in this way. The Council on Women and Girls said the report was done to help policymakers set priorities on issues facing both women and families. What happens to women has broad implications. In a nation of 308.7 million people, there are 4 million more females than males. Over the past four decades American women have become more educated, are delaying both getting married and having children (women now marry, on average, when they are 25 — five years later than women in the 1950s) but they are still more likely than men to live in poverty. Teenage pregnancies are down. Births to teens who are first-time mothers made up slightly more than 20 percent of all births to first-time mothers in 2007. In 1970, closer to 35 percent of first-time mothers were under 20 and just 4 percent of first-time mothers were in their 30s. By 2007, the older first-time mothers made up 22 percent of the group. Continued on next page




Hey, boss, prevent worker defections By JOYCE M. ROSENBERG AP Business Writer

s the economy improves, small business owners are eager to sign new customers and get their companies back to where they were before the recession. But their next meetings should have nothing to do with deals or contracts. They need to be with staffers who have waited patiently for the economy to improve and who may already be looking for a new job. As the government’s


WOMEN/From Page 37 WOMEN ALSO are achieving at higher levels in education. In 1970, fewer than 2 percent of women aged 25 to 34 had two or more years of graduate studies compared to more than 5 percent of men in the same age group. In 2008, more than 10 percent of women in that age group had completed two years of graduate-level studies and about 7 percent of men had. Also, more doctoral degrees were granted to women then men. But the sheer volume of degrees does not mean more money. Differences in career fields, as well as differences in family responsibilities and how they are handled, factor into a broad comparison showing that among full-time wage and salary workers in 2009, women earned 80 cents for every dollar men earned. That is up significantly from 1970, when the figure stood at 62 cents. More than four men earn bachelor’s degrees in engineering and computer science for every woman who does. Men make up the majority of graduates with bachelor’s degrees in mathematics and physical science, and men still earn more of the bachelor’s degrees in business and management than women. More women earn their bachelor’s degree in biology than men, but women also well outnumber men for degrees in social and

February jobs report showed, companies are creating jobs. And that means workers who have waited in vain for raises and put up with heavier workloads now have options. Leigh Branham, owner of Keeping The People Inc., an Overland Park, Kan., human resources consulting firm, said bosses need to sit down now with staffers individually and have honest discussions about how the workers feel about their jobs. If not, small companies may see an exodus of

employees, including the ones they want to keep.

the owner. They need to listen with an open mind and take the employee’s point of view seriously. THE REALITY OF WORK TODAY Don’t ask a staffer, “What do you “People are worn out from being so want?” and leave it at that. Branham productive and doing more with less. suggests owners start by saying, “I They’re restless and fatigued and looking want to hear anything that’s a source for new opportunities,” Branham said. of dissatisfaction for you. Let’s get it Many employers have had no choice out on the table and see if we can but to demand more of staffers and to address it, because I don’t want to lose freeze or cut their pay the past few years. you.” Companies have been strapped for cash You should also sketch out for and unable to hire. Workers may know staffers the plans you have for the comthat and understand. But given the pany, and how you think employees will chance for a better work situation some- fit with them. Ask staffers for their place else, many are likely to go for it. opinions about what they have to offer. Some owners might think that Ask for ideas to help the company do because staffers have hung in there, better. Be sure this part of the converbehavioral sciences, humanities, education there’s no reason to worry that they’ll sation is a true give-and-take. and health — all of them leading to lowerleave. Branham said it’s a mistake to After the talk, the boss needs to try to paying career fields. take any worker for granted these days. meet the staffer’s needs. Of course, some things may be impossible to do. THERE IS STILL a lower percentage of T H E C O N V E R S A T I O N — A N D But if you say to a staffer, “Let’s find a women in the labor force than men. But, AFTERWARD way to make it work,” and then follow while women’s participation rate climbed Owners need to go into a talk with a up with some substantive action, you over the past six decades from 32 percent to staffer prepared to hear painful things may be able to keep this employee. 61 percent, men are slowly dropping. Sixty about the company, maybe even about Continued on next page years ago, nearly 90 percent of men over age 20 were in the labor force. Now that is down to 75 percent. The income gap is particularly noteworthy for women who head households of at least two people. Whereas married couples were pulling down more than $95,000 and male-headed households with no spouse were making more than $60,000, households headed by women had incomes just over $40,000 a year. Poverty also affects more women than • Mechanical Contractors & Engineers men: In 2009 nearly 11 percent of women • Engineering & Design Services over age 65 were poor, compared to 7 per• TK • TK cent of men. • Process Piping • Custom Steel Fabrication The report pulled together government • Heating, Ventilation & Air Conditioning figures from agencies as disparate as the National Center for Science and Engineering Studies, the National Center for Education 2417 South Federal Ave, Statistics and the Bureau of Justice StatisMason City, IA 50401 tics, as well as the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the National Center for Health Statistics and the Census Bureau.

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CEOs, it’s what you say — and how you say it CEO’s inflection, tone and attitude could predict stock performance, new study finds By SUE STOCK Raleigh News and Observer

orporate conference calls rank one step higher than root canals on many investors’ todo lists. But smart stockholders may be able to glean important information by dialing in and paying attention not so much to what is said — but how the CEO said it. New research from two Duke University business professors shows the CEO’s voice inflection, tone and attitude could predict future stock performance. “There’s information in how people say things,” said associate professor William Mayew, who conducted the research with professor Mohan Venkatachalam. “Emotions leak. They’re very hard to control.” Mayew and Venkatachalam ana-


lyzed the tapes of conference calls for nearly 700 U.S. corporations from a wide range of industries. They examined 1,647 conference calls from 691 companies placed between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2007. Computer software analyzed the CEO’s voices for emotions, not words.

more pointed questions, and the CEO faced more pressure to explain results. However, it generally took longer for the stock price to react than it did when the CEO shared positive news. “Analysts are reluctant to downgrade a firm when they hear something negative,” Mayew said. “They want to make sure things are bad CEOS WHO SPOKE with enthusi- before they issue a downgrade. Prices asm and were positive saw their drift downward after the conference companies’ stock prices rise. call if the feelings were negative.” Those who were negative — even if STILL, PEOPLE should be cautheir companies met earnings expectations — saw stock prices tious of using only voice analysis to drop. gauge what a CEO might be think“CEOs of top companies go ing, said Joe Comeau, a speech through training to know how to pathologist who works with corpopresent, keep a level head,” Mayew rate executives at his Capital Speech said. But some part “is either uncon- Consultants business in Clayton, trollable or some emotions ... are N.C. genuine.” “You would only know if a CEO The results were most telling for was excited if you knew that CEO or companies that missed their earnhad listened to previous conference ings expectations, Mayew said. On calls,” he said. Without familiarity, those calls, analysts tended to ask “just using voice alone ... it will be

very difficult to judge.” Investors should use common sense when trying to ascertain whether a CEO is trying to downplay information. MAYEW AND VENKATACHA LAM continue to explore the connection between CEO emotions on conference calls and financial results. Mayew said their current research project examines the relationship between CEOs who express negative emotions and the likelihood that the company will eventually restate its earnings for that quarter. So far, he said, the results show a correlation. If that’s the case, investors might want to consider dialing in for conference calls more often, especially as technology improves. “It might be easier to control in a conference call setting where there’s only audio because there’s no camera on you,” Mayew said. “But that’s coming.”

DEFECTIONS/From Page 38 IF MONEY IS A PROBLEM Many companies still don’t feel that they’re in a position to give raises. Owners need to give staffers a sense of what the company needs to achieve before they can get a raise and what workers can do to help make that happen. Many staffers will be happy if they can get more time off or more flexible schedules. Owners often find that will help a staffer to stay, although the truth is a higher salary is going to be very tempting to someone whose household budget is strained. If possible, give staffers a target date for when they can expect a raise. WHAT IF THE STAFFER IS ALREADY PLANNING TO LEAVE?

Branham said it’s possible for a boss to hold on to staffers about half the time when they say they’re leaving. An owner needs to be willing to give a staffer more reasons to stay than to leave. Branham suggests, for example, that if an employee is unhappy with a manager, the owner offer to have the staffer report directly to him or her. The employee’s assignment may need to change. As you talk to the staffer, ask for one or two days to work out a solution. And if you can persuade the employee to stay, be sure to have periodic talks about how things are going. If staffers feel they got a lot of promises that weren’t kept, there’ll be no keeping them the next time they say they’re leaving.


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In Business - 3/2011  

Globe Gazette's In Business Publication

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