Profile S t r at e g i e s f o r In d ust r y L e a d e r s
may / j un e 2 0 1 0
Business communication and the future of social media p.15
Christopher Chung p.16
Building companies from the ground up
Athlete turned entrepreneur tours his long road to success p.76
Macyâ€™s marketing guru shares expert advice on creating a lasting brand that will keep clients coming back for more
CONTENTS Rob Roskopp, CEO of Santa Cruz Bicycles, turned his passion into profit on a journey to find the perfect ride
AN AMAZING RACE Page 76
A leader in the marketing industry, and author of the new book Customer Inspired Marketing, shares her views on creating a brand that clients can trust. Page 81
Personalized details and highclass finishes make corporate affairs stand out, thanks to Amy Piper of Signature Events.
Tighe & Bond provides ecological engineering and complete environmental services to public and private clients in the government, industry, and education sectors.
Xcel Products, Inc.’s CEO, Stephen Peterson, strives to be synonymous with excellence in every aspect of his contract product-development and manufacturing business, thanks in part to his Midwestern roots.
Alberto G. Mendez of AMG, INC. has brought years of expertise to his Ohio-based business to make the company a leader in the engineering industry.
SMA Insurance is a full-service, independent agency offering a wide range of services, mainly specializing in construction, transportation, and hospitality, and has gained accolades from peers as an ‘Agency of the Year’.
Apictures is a two-director production house, where founders Kent Feuerring and John Alper specialize in high-end commercial film production for corporate clients hailing from a wide variety of industries.
K. Jeff Nelson, president of SHN Consulting Engineers & Geologists, Inc., recently celebrated 30 years providing services to his public and private clients throughout the Pacific Northwest. The Richards Group is a thirdgeneration, family-run insurance agency in the Northeast that is carrying on a tradition of growth, excellence in service, and diversification. Cottingham & Butler INSUR ANCE, INC., established in 1887, is embracing a future of young and diversified management and increased revenue growth.
Signature Events, and its CEO, Amy Piper, bring together the best talent and resources in New Hampshire to create high-end, unique, and customized corporate affairs.
Innovative Home Theaters, Inc. specializes in corporate teleconferencing and suveillance systems for the next generation of boardrooms.
Patriot Technologies, Inc., which began as a manufacturing business, has grown into a leader in cybersecurity systems that keep corporate information safe. The World Protection Group, Inc., a full-service security firm, keeps clients secure with advanceplanning and risk-assessment skills.
FORTHGEAR, an integrated marketing, communications and design firm, gains a thorough understanding of clients’ business objectives in order to develop marketing packages and media solutions that reinforce the identity of each unique brand.
D&K ENGINEERING, which was started by two college running buddies, has grown into an innovative global design, manufacturing, and development business servicing a diverse group of corporate clients.
INTELLIGROUP, INC., based in Princeton, New Jersey, provides simplified and comprehensive enterprise-resource planning to coordinate the complex functions of each client’s individual business model.
CONTENTS Alliance 54
TUTTON INSURANCE SERVICES, INC. is working as a team to bring in a consistent stream of new clients.
Knight Facilities Manage ment utilizes team communication to lessen facility-operating budgets for its diverse group of clients.
Epoch Films continues to aquire commercial production accounts with global corporate giants thanks to a roster of talented, innovative directors.
American Trucking and Transportation Insurance Company offers high-quality customer service and low-cost insurance for its member companies. Interactive Solutions, Inc., a leader in telemedicine technology, has overcome obstacles to be among the fastest-growing firms in the country.
The C Shop, a family-owned wholesale candy shop and café in Washington, looks to expand its client base with increased product offerings on site and online. Piedmont Candy Company has become one of the most successful candy manufacturers in the country after 120 years of giving clients what they crave.
Scott Danahy Naylon Insur ance Brokerage competes in tough markets against large competitors by providing clients with personalized service.
Goodman’s Jewelers has found success with a high-end clientele thanks to an emphasis on customer service and VIP treatment.
AmPro Orthotics & Pros thetics, Inc. has developed a culture that centers on keeping its employees motivated and passionate. Kurt Kelley, of Mobile Insurance Agency of Texas, has helped a new generation of employees follow their customer-service instincts.
ImproMed, Inc. provides customized practice-management software to a loyal client base of veterinary hospitals.
Pioneer Heritage Insurance, LLC has dramatically grown its revenue thanks to a history of standout customer service dating back to 1946.
United Supply Corp., an officesupplies wholesale giant, constantly meets and exceeds its customers demands with diverse product offerings and customized packages.
Family Alliance, Inc. offers seniors activities such as horticulture and music therapy, providing a cost-effective alternative to nursing-home care.
Central Boston Elder Ser vices is a nonprofit organization led by Catherine Hardaway (below) that provides standout in-home care despite funding shortages.
SNVC, a veteran-owned IT services firm, founded The Aurora Foundation to aid American veterans in persuing higher education.
Butwin Insurance Group, a third-generation family-run firm, has built partnerships with national clients while maintaining a homegrown culture.
Pixim Inc., which provides system designs for video-security equipment, has made a name for itself through attentive client education and long-term service.
PLUS 6 8
ICC Inc., an engineering-consulting company, places an emphasis on building strong client relationships and nurturing a growing workforce.
Pearl Insurance, which serves the largest trade organizations in the country, is part of a diversified family conglomerate which spans over five decades.
Transwestern General Agency, a third-generation wholesale insurance business, has maintained longterm partnerships with a diverse group of clients.
10 11 12 13 114
Editor’s Note News bulletin Recommended Reading Executive Q&A top five Facts & Figures Final Thoughts
Aubyn Thomas shares expert marketing strategies that promote customer loyalty.
n the face of an ever-more complicated economic outlook, we at Profile aim to give our readers some guidance when it comes to making informed business decisions. We provide insight into strategies that have worked well for the CEOs and entrepreneurs we interviewed—they tell us what works, what doesn’t, and how they have helped their companies succeed. We sat down with Aubyn Thomas (p. 81), who is currently the senior vice president of marketing services for Macy’s, where she heads up the multiculturalmarketing program. Thomas shares insight on how to connect with a diverse customer base, and how to create a brand that will keep clients coming back for more. “Each and every engagement is an opportunity to have a dialogue with your customer, and it’s important that it’s not just a one-way exchange,” explains Thomas. “Brands need to take information in at every interaction they possibly can to grow their product and their opportunities with their customers.” Thomas also touches on one of the most important aspects of business success—a passion for your business. That theme runs through the article on Santa Cruz Bicycles’ CEO, Rob Roskopp (p. 76). “Most importantly, you need to have a strong passion for what you do,” he says, appropriately impassioned and succinct. In this issue, we also continue to cover companies that place service before profit and strive to make their communities better. Central Boston Elder Services (p. 109) works to connect with its clients on a deep and personal level. “What we’re trying to do here is to give people choices about where they get their care. If someone wants to stay in the community, they should be able to do that,” says executive director Catherine Hardaway. Once again, I am honored to invite you, our readers, into the pages of this issue of Profile. We look forward to continuing our coverage of the world’s industry leaders and their successful business strategies that can help propel you to the top of your field. I wish you all a peaceful and prosperous summer. Enjoy. Molly Soat Features Editor
The New Way of Working Do more with less In challenging times, finding ways to work more efficiently is simply good business. That is what video-enabling your organization means. Everyone with access to business-quality video for the most natural communication. Face-to-face rather than place-to-place. Welcome to the new way of working.
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[ industry bulletin ]
Ohio Excels in the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council’s Rankings of Entrepreneurial Business Climates
LG Electronics Honored with 15 Innovation Awards
Ohio has once again risen above all other Midwest states, this time taking the top spot for its small-business climate and entrepreneurship. According to The Small Business & Entrepreneurship (SBE) Council’s “Small Business Survival Index 2009,” Ohio ranks best in the Midwest and No. 11 nationally for its public-policy climate for small businesses and entrepreneurs.
The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) recognized LG Electronics with 15 prestigious 2010 International CES Innovations Awards, including a “Best of” recognition in the Online Audio/Video Content category. LG’s business solutions were honored with awards in several highly competitive categories, including Eco-Design and Sustainable Technology, Video Displays, Online Audio/Video Content, Video Components, Audio Components, and Wireless Handsets. “Earning more than 100 CES Innovations Awards in just seven years underscores LG’s leadership in innovation, high performance, and design,” said Peter Reiner, senior vice president of marketing for LG Electronics USA. Source: LG Electronics USA, Inc.
According to the Ohio Business Development Coalition, the ranking is proof that Ohio’s redesign of its business climate is making the state an ideal location for businesses to compete in a 21st century global economy.
Wireless Network Blu-ray Disc Player: Award-winner in the homenetworking category.
Small Business Survival Index 2009: State rankings
60-inch class Slim Bezel Plasma HDTV: Award-winner in the videocomponets catagory.
1. South Dakota
28. New Mexico
7. South Carolina
33. New Hampshire
36. West Virginia
39. North Carolina
Venture Capitalists Anticipate Increased Investment Levels and IPOs in 2010, kpmg Study Finds
17. North Dakota
45. Rhode Island
48. New York
50. New Jersey
Source: Ohio Business Development Coalition
The venture-capital community predicts an uptick in overall venturecapital investment for 2010, according to a recent survey by the US audit, tax, and advisory firm KPMG LLP. In addition, the KPMG survey found that the venture-capital community expects IPO activity and valuations of venture-backed companies to continue upward in 2011. In polling 100 venture capitalists and entrepreneurs in the United States, KPMG found that 68 percent of respondents expect total venture-capital investment to continue to increase this year—a different perspective from 2009, when 74 percent said they expected investment levels to decline. When asked which industry sectors are the most attractive investment opportunities, cleantech was the clear favorite, and venture capitalists indicate government stimulus and legislation will continue to affect the sector. Source: KPMG
68 Percentage of respondents who expect an increase in venture-capital investments
Northrop Grumman to Move Corporate Office to Washington, DC Region
DAVACO Retail Services Celebrates 20 Years
Northrop Grumman Corporation announced a decision to move its corporate office from Los Angeles to the Washington, DC region by 2011. It plans to open the new corporate office by summer 2011.
DAVACO, Inc., the national leading provider of retail and restaurant services, is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. Originally known as Fixture Perfect, DAVACO began as a fixture-installation company. Today, DAVACO offers an expanded list of installation and execution services for the industry’s category leaders—an expansion that helps industry leaders create change throughout the service community.
“As a global security company with a large customer base in the Washington, DC region, this move will enable us to better serve our nation and customers,” said Wes Bush, chief executive officer and president. The new corporate office will include approximately 300 people. Although the company is moving some corporate staff from Los Angeles, the state of California remains a significant location for Northrop Grumman research, development, and manufacturing. Approximately 30,000 employees, a quarter of Northrop Grumman’s worldwide employment, work in California.
Wes Bush, CEO and president
“I am proud of DAVACO’s achievement, as it represents the company’s and our employees’ ability to accommodate an everchanging industry,” said founder and CEO Rick Davis. “Our unique service offerings have given retailers a reliable, professional resource to implement consumer-branding programs at the store level.” Source: DAVACO, Inc.
Source: Northrop Grumman Corporation
National Safety Council Names Exelon Nuclear as Recipient of 2010 Green Cross for Safety Medal The National Safety Council (NSC) announced Exelon Nuclear as the recipient of its 2010 Green Cross for Safety Medal. NSC recognized Exelon Nuclear for its steadfast commitment to improving safety and health in the workplace and its community, and for the safety leadership demonstrated by all levels of the organization. The decision to present Exelon Nuclear with the Green Cross for Safety Medal reflects NSC’s recognition of the organization’s strong safety culture, which is highly visible in all aspects of Exelon Nuclear’s work practices. According to Janet Froetscher, president and CEO of NSC, “Exelon Nuclear has a very strong reputation in its industry as a safety leader. It is known for protecting its employees and the communities in which it does business.” Source: National Safety Council
Expansion Seen for Global Outsourcing Market Outsourcing providers around the world predict that demand for their services is expanding rapidly, and they are adding staff and investing in new services to meet expected growth, according to a new survey from Duke University’s Offshoring Research Network and PricewaterhouseCoopers. The survey of 514 outsourcing-service providers in 50 countries found that the industry is transforming due to the emergence of new providers around the world and the efforts of existing outsourcers to expand into new markets. Outsourcing companies in North America and India, which have long dominated the industry, are being challenged by competition from Latin America, Eastern Europe, and Asia, in service areas such as contact centers, business-process outsourcing, and information-technology outsourcing. Source: PricewaterhouseCoopers
[ executive bulletin ]
GenCorp Announces Appointment of President and CEO
CEO of Weber Shandwick, Harris Diamond, Named ‘PR Agency Executive of the Decade’
GenCorp has entered into an employment agreement with Scott Seymour to serve as the company’s president and CEO. Mr. Seymour will also serve as president of Aerojet-General Corporation. Mr. Seymour has been a consultant to Northrop Grumman Corporation, a global defense and technology company, since March 2008. Prior to becoming a consultant, Mr. Seymour served as corporate vice president and president of the Integrated Systems Sector of Northrop, from 2002 until March 2008. Mr. Seymour also served as vice president of air-combat systems, B-2 program manager, and vice president of Palmdale Operations at Northrop. Source: GenCorp, Inc.
The Holmes Report named Harris Diamond, CEO of Weber Shandwick, “PR Agency Executive of the Decade” . The Holmes Report recognized Diamond’s strategic leadership and business acumen over the last decade—highlighting the successful 2000 merger of BSMG Worldwide and Weber Shandwick. The merger allowed the companies to “grow into arguably the most successful public-relations agency in the world.” Weber Shandwick, cited The Holmes Report, “is now an industry giant not only in terms of size, but also—and more importantly—in terms of quality, having consistently outperformed the market over the past five years, and established itself as a leader and thought leader around the world.”
Source: Weber Shandwick
Gean B. Stalcup Succeeds David V. Heminger as President and CEO of Ameriforge Group, Inc. Gean B. Stalcup has been elected to succeed David V. Heminger as president and CEO of Ameriforge Group, Inc. Stalcup had previously served as the company’s EVP and COO, playing a pivotal role in the growth and transformation of the company over the last several years. Prior to joining Ameriforge in late 2004, Stalcup held a number of engineering, marketing, and general-management positions with several highly regarded industrial-manufacturing companies, including Illinois Tool Works, United Technologies, Sundstrand, and Marmon. Heminger, who has led the company since 2004, joins the Ameriforge Group, Inc. board of directors, where he will continue to provide valuable counsel, guidance, and oversight. Source: Ameriforge Group, Inc.
Former Wyeth VP Launches PR Consultancy Firm Doug Petkus announced the formation of Petkus Communications Consultants, LLC, a PR consultancy firm that provides seniorlevel strategic-communications counsel. In addition, Petkus offers issues-management counsel and strong media-relations expertise, with an emphasis on healthcare and consumer products. As the former vice president of corporate communications at Wyeth, until its acquisition by Pfizer, Petkus served as the chief corporate spokesperson and handled all financial/disclosure communications. His experience ranges from major product recalls and subsequent litigation to managing media relations on landmark clinicalstudy results including the Women’s Health Initiative. Source: Petkus Communications Consultants
Doug Petkus Public-relations expert Doug Petkus will launch his own consultancy firm, providing communications and media-relations counsel to senior-level executives.
Former Sears Media-Operations Head Joins [x+1] as VP of Media Strategy and Chief Marketing Officer [x+1] announced that Perianne Grignon has joined the company as the vice president of media strategy and as chief marketing officer. Grignon is well versed in the use of analytic tools to improve marketing and mediaallocation decisions, and will help guide [x+1]’s media and marketing strategies for clients and agencies. She will also lead efforts to raise [x+1]’s industry profile as it continues to innovate and build upon its leading suite of technology tools. “Perianne is one of the original innovators in digital media,” said John Nardone, chairman and CEO of [x+1]. “Her widespread experience in leveraging media in both the client and agency worlds will bring a new perspective for our growing business and help drive [x+1]’s next stage in digital marketing innovation.”
MedicAlert Foundation Names Andrew B. Wigglesworth as New President and CEO The MedicAlert Foundation board of directors has selected Andrew B. Wigglesworth as its next president and CEO of the foundation. Mr. Wigglesworth was formerly a partner at TRG Healthcare LLC. “The board of directors and I are delighted to welcome Andrew Wigglesworth as the new president and CEO,” said Mary Dean, MedicAlert Foundation board chair. “Andrew brings more than 20 years of extensive experience in the healthcare field and a strong commitment to enhance the foundation’s role and mission as an advocate for individuals and families navigating today’s complex healthcare system, particularly in emergencies.” Source: MedicAlert Foundation
research public relations
MWW Group Promotes Matthew Averitt to VP, Corporate Communications MWW Group, one of the nation’s top-ten public-relations firms, announced today that Matthew Averitt has been promoted to vice president of corporate communications in the company’s Dallas office. Since joining MWW more than two and a half years ago, Averitt has helped guide public relations strategy for a number of MWW’s top corporate accounts. His areas of expertise include corporate positioning, executive eminence, brand communications, labor relations, issues management, and business-to-business and business-to-consumer communications. As a member of the Dallas office’s Matthew Averitt management team, Averitt has used his experience working on behalf of organizations ranging from global Fortune 100 companies to national nonprofits and emerging-growth companies across multiple industries to further expand MWW Group’s presence in the greater Southwest United States region. Source: MWW Group
Berge Avyazian, ExYankee Group CEO, to Join Light Reading TechWeb’s Light Reading, the leading research-led media company serving the global communications marketplace, announced that Berge Ayvazian, one of the highest-profile industry analysts and consultants in the telecom and mobile industry, has joined Light Reading as a senior consultant with its telecom businesstechnology research unit, Heavy Reading. Ayvazian has spent more than 20 years conducting research and consultation projects focused on mobile-broadband business strategies for all of the major telecomequipment vendors. At Heavy Reading, Ayvazian will lead a new integrated research and consulting practice on 4G Network and Mobile Internet Evolution. Ayvazian will also have a regular column on Light Reading and will participate in its webinars, podcasts, videos, and select conferences. Source: Light Reading Communications Group
[ recommended reading ]
Creating Leaders In his highly anticipated book Linchpin, Seth Godin reimagines leadership roles
n bestsellers such as Purple Cow and Small Is the New Big, Seth Godin taught readers how to make remarkable products and spread powerful ideas. But this book is different. It’s about you—your choices, your future, and your potential to make a huge difference in whatever field you choose. There used to be two teams in every workplace: management and labor. Now there’s a third team: the linchpins. These people invent, lead, connect to others, and create order out of chaos. They figure out what to do when there’s no rule book. They delight and challenge their customers and peers. They love their work, pour their best selves into it, and turn each day into a kind of art. Linchpins are the essential building blocks of great organizations. Like the small piece of hardware
that keeps a wheel from falling off its axle, they may not be famous, but they’re indispensable. And in today’s world, they get the best jobs and the most freedom. Have you ever found a shortcut that others missed? Seen a new way to resolve a conflict? Then you have what it takes to become indispensable, by overcoming the resistance that holds people back. As Godin writes, “Every day I meet people who have so much to give but have been bullied enough or frightened enough to hold it back. It’s time to stop complying with the system and draw your own map. You have brilliance in you, your contribution is essential, and the art you create is precious. Only you can do it, and you must.”
Tribes Seth Godin, 160 pages, $19.95 A tribe is any group of people, large or small, who are connected to one another, a leader, or an idea. Throughout history, people have been drawn together, and today, technology has eliminated the barriers of geography, cost, and time. If you think leadership is for other people, think again—leaders come in surprising packages. Tribes will make you think (really think) about the opportunities in leading your fellow employees, customers, investors, believers, hobbyists, or readers. It’s not easy, but it’s easier than you think.
— Information provided by the author
Excerpt [Linchpin] Think about business-tobusiness sales. The key point of distinction between vendors calling on a company is rarely price. It’s the perceived connection between the prospect and the organization.
A Tale of a Business Failure
Now, consider job satisfaction. The key point of distinction between places to work is rarely the work you’ll be asking the employee to do. It’s the perceived connection between the employee and the people she works with.
John Davis, 292 pages, $18.99 Failure is only such if one learns nothing from it. A Tale of a Business Failure: A Successful Entrepreneur’s Story of a Deal That Went Bad is not your typical business tale. A personal story of one man’s business ventures gone wrong, his story is one that is intriguing as it serves as a warning to other aspiring entrepreneurs.
Thus, the individual in the organization who collects, connects, and nurtures relationships is indispensable. This isn’t about recording the information in a database somewhere. This is about holding the relationships as sacred as they deserve to be. Only a human being can nurture relationships. It has to be done with flair and transparency, and it can’t be done from a script.
“I wish I could say that the book is a triumph,” Davis says, “but it is not. The events of this business took control and I could not save it no matter how hard I tried. But the lessons are endless.”
[ executive Q&A ]
Christopher Chung, CEO of Missouri Partnership
he Missouri Partnership, a nonprofit organization, launched in 2007 with the goal of bringing more business opportunities to the state of Missouri. As a new venture, the public-private hybrid needed a CEO, not only to lead the group, but also to lay a firm foundation for years to come. Christopher Chung, previously with the Ohio Office for Business Development, took on that role and has had the rare opportunity to guide a fledgling company from the ground up. “We are, first and foremost, an economic-development organization,” Chung says of the Missouri Partnership. The organization’s challenge lies in attracting companies to the state, he adds, and it’s an ongoing battle. “How do we bring in new development? How do we market Missouri to recruit new business in the state? It’s that development that leads to job creation, an additional tax base and other benefits.” — Laura Clark
What brought you from Ohio to the Missouri Partnership?
What business strategies have you used to help the Missouri Partnership grow?
What intrigued me most was that it was a new organization. The Missouri Partnership was searching for its first CEO. In economic development, most [organizations] are established. The new ones are few and far between. This was brand new, and an opportunity for me to shape an organization.
For me, it started with hiring the best possible people. It’s a unique opportunity to staff the way you envision, to make a successful, sustainable organization as opposed to inheriting a position.
QUESTION QUESTION Why did you choose to attend the China Overseas Investment Fair to promote Missouri as a businessinvestment destination?
How was the downsizing of the auto industry an opportunity for economic growth in Missouri?
ANSWER [The fair] had national and state investment-promotion groups from 120 countries in the same room with Chinese corporations and individuals seeking investment opportunities outside China. We want to build relationships that could translate into new factories in Missouri and to tap into their wealth.
What advertising strategies have you used to help public perception of the Missouri Partnership?
QUESTION What should be the first goal for an entrepreneur starting a new business?
As for ad strategy, few companies or states register Missouri as good, bad, or ugly. The term “Flyover state” has some truth to it. International companies don’t know Missouri and what the state has to offer. Our goal is to fill that perception void. We’re trying to find outlets where we’re reaching that target audience. Missouri doesn’t have a negative perception to overcome, but rather we just need to shout out the positives.
ANSWER The trend has shifted to a green economy, specifically wind energy, which is the next biggest market [in the US]. Wind-turbine manufacturing is similar to car-building. Helping [automotive manufacturers] to diversify their business beyond one sector to wind power achieves taking care of companies in-state. Many manufacturers, including those in the automotive sector, are looking for ways to diversify beyond their current industries as a way of dealing with the current economic conditions.
answer Getting the right people on the bus. That’s what [businessfocused author] Jim Collins said in his book [Good to Great]. You don’t realize how unique that is to build your team and not squander that opportunity.”
[ top five ]
Social Media The most commonly used platforms by small businesses
hile the concept of social media brings to mind images of active online discussions, a new study of smallbusiness social-media use by Business.com finds that small-business leaders currently show a strong preference for passive sources of business-relevant information–such as viewing webinars or reading online ratings, reviews and company blog posts–over those requiring more active interaction with others. However, the use of social-media resources requiring more active participation, such as asking business-related questions through Twitter or online question-and-answer forums, is set to rise among small-business leaders as they gain access to effective online business networks. The Business.com study involved more than 1,700 small-business owners or managers currently using one or more social-media resources to help them get the information they need to do their jobs on a day-to-day basis. —Ben Hanna, VP of Markerting for Business.com
Webinars / Podcasts
Small-business leaders find webinars and podcasts to be highly useful for learning new skills, ongoing professional training, and/or researching industries, products and services without the expense and time commitment required to attend seminars in person.
Ratings & Reviews
Whether looking for the most useful software, the best business book on a particular topic, or qualifying potential products to stock in retail stores, smallbusiness leaders find that online ratings and reviews provide valuable input into the business buying process.
Company / Brand Pages on Social-Networking Sites According to a recent social-networking study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, 46% of US adults now participate in online social networks such as Facebook, and 25% do so weekly. With online social networking becoming mainstream, and with companies rushing to establish a corporate and/or brand presence on these sites, many small-business leaders turn to social-networking sites for the latest information from important vendors.
An old standby in the world of social media, small-business leaders praise company blogs – at least, those that are “well written, current, and with good thought-leadership articles” – as great sources of information about business-relevant products, services, and the underlying character of a company. Increasingly, small-business leaders are connecting to company blog content through social-networking sites.
While some of the business-relevant information on socialmedia sites can be found through general search engines, a great deal cannot. Realizing this, over half of small-business leaders are using social-media search for business-relevant information directly on sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Business.com Answers, SlideShare, and many more.
[ facts & figures ]
Industry Watch Tips, trends, and telltale news from today’s insurance market
2 5 0 +
The approximate number of employees held by an average insurance carrier
Amount of people in the insurance workforce who are employed part time.
The amount of United States insurance employees who work office and administrative-support jobs
$30 billion The amount of incurred losses and loss-adjustment expenses in the property/casualty insurance industy for which the Insurance Information Institute estimates fraud accounts
46.3 million The number of people in the US without health insurance for the entire year in 2009
1:2 The number of years required for underwriters to earn either Associate in Commercial Underwriting (ACU) or Associate in Personal Insurance (API) certification
two point nine percent The amount the US Bureau of Labor Statistics expects employment in the insurance industry to increase by 2018
Amount of employees in the insurance industry who are members of a union—compared to 14% of the national private sector workforce
2,300,000 Average number of employees the insurance industry employs in jobs that encompass financial analysts, claims adjusters, actuaries to human resources, and administrators
“A lot of rates are as low as they were in the early 1990s. Part of that is because the insurance industry has become more efficient and paperless.” — Mark Moores, vice president of the Minnesota Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers Association and president of Moores Insurance
The average hourly wage of an insurance underwriter
The monetary amount of assets held by life-insurance companies in the United States
expertise 16 tighe & Bond 20 xcel products 24 AMG 27 sma insurance 30 apictures 32 SHN Consulting 34 the richards group 36 Cottingham & Butler
Engineering a New Environment President of Tighe & Bond discusses Ecological consulting company timeline 1911: James L. Tighe establishes private practice, focusing on the engineering of dams and water supplies 1926: Tighe is joined by Philip E. Bond, former Holyoke, Massachuesetts, city engineer 1954: Oversees construction of the Manhan Dam in Southampton, Massachusetts, creating the third-largest reservoir in the state, as planned by Jim Tighe in 1896 1998: Worcester, Massachusetts, office opens to improve client service in Massachusetts and Rhode Island 2000: Allan Davis Associates of Norwalk, Connecticut, joins Tighe & Bond 2001: Establishes fifth office in Middletown, Connecticut 2002: Opens sixth office on Cape Cod in Massachusetts 2009: Complete Phase 1 of Chicopee, Massachusetts’ 20-year Long-Term CSO Control Plan
by Christopher Cussat
ext year, Tighe & Bond will reach an impressive milestone that is not very common amongst companies in any field—its 100-year anniversary. Originally founded in 1911, Tighe & Bond is one of the most experienced engineering firms in New England, with a proud history of involvement in innovative projects throughout the region. Tighe & Bond provides engineering and environmental services to public and private clients in government, industry, healthcare, education, energy, powerutility, and real-estate markets. The company offers a diverse array of services, including civil engineering, water resources, wastewater management, regulatory compliance, environmental consulting, and wetlands and ecological services, and much of the firm’s work involves public and private infrastructure projects. These services are provided during all phases of projects, including planning and permitting, study, design, and construction. Profile recently sat down with David Pinsky, Tighe & Bond’s president, to talk about his interesting past and the company’s bright future. Profile: What makes your company unique? David Pinsky: Our people and our commitment
to clients. We have some of the most talented and committed professionals you will come across in our business, and we differentiate ourselves through the personal attention and service we extend to our clients. P: How do you stand out among your competitors? DP: As a regional leader, we bring unique insights
to projects in New England. We also have the comprehensive capabilities that our clients require, yet we are small enough to provide them with the high level of service and attention they deserve. P: How has your experience helped make your business successful? DP: I have worked with many of the firm’s largest clients and on some very complex and challenging projects. That provides me with a good background
to relate to most of our staff. Over the years, I have learned the financial side of the business from great mentors and through on-the-job training. This business is a people business, and relationships and the ability to relate to different types of people are very important. P: Please share some of your best-business practices. DP: Treat everyone with respect and emphasize
teamwork. Also, treat all employees fairly, share the profits, and provide opportunities for career growth. For the past four years, we have conducted annual strategic planning. This has been a key to our success. It’s important to develop and communicate a vision for the firm and also to develop strategies that support that vision. This helps to create alignment within the organization so that everyone can be on the same page. P: What’s the most valuable piece of advice you received in helping to grow your business? DP: Never ask anyone to do anything that you
Type of company innovative leadership: David E. Pinsky, president and CEO of Tighe & Bond, Inc.
BY THE NUMBERS
Tighe & Bond
$35 million: average annual sales • 203: employees • 6: office locations throughout MA and CT 500: Tighe & Bond was recently ranked among the top 500 design firms in the nation by Engineering News-Record
environmental impact: The recently constructed $14.3 million Jones Ferry CSO Treatment Facility in Chicopee, MA, designed by Tighe & Bond, is an important milestone in the city’s effort to clean up the Connecticut River.
A stragety to share
think ahead “For the past four years, we have conducted annual strategic planning. This has been a key to our success. It’s important to develop and communicate a vision for the firm and also to develop strategies that support that vision. This helps to create alignment within the organization so that everyone can be on the same page.”
wouldn’t do yourself. Also, “A good plan executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week” (General George Patton).
great care of the people within your organization.
P: How would you describe your leadership style?
DP: My grandfather was one of three secondgeneration partners who owned and managed Tighe & Bond in the 1950s through the mid-1980s. My inspiration to become an engineer came from him, and there was no better mentor. He did have a tendency to let me learn things the hard way, and that philosophy has stayed with me through my experience in both parenthood and business management.
DP: Collaborative—I empower others, distribute
responsibilities to them, and hold them accountable for results. We’ve worked hard over the last few years to identify the respective responsibilities of those in management, while at the same time maintaining our strong sense of teamwork, which has served this firm so well throughout the years. P: Can you offer some words of wisdom to other business owners? DP: Develop a vision and a plan—and then execute
it well. Also, don’t let bumps along the road alter your vision for your business. Most importantly, take
P: What else should our readers know about you?
I feel privileged to be leading Tighe & Bond—a firm with such a long and storied history; a firm with so many talented people. Our philosophy at Tighe & Bond is: Work hard and play hard. Although it’s a business, I believe it’s important to remember to have some fun along the way. [P]
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BY THE NUMBERS
Xcel Products, Inc.
20%: employee growth in the past year • 35%: average sales growth over the past 5 years • 2004: Xcel was founded 20 years: Peterson’s experience in the printing industry
service expansion: Stephen Peterson, founder of Xcel, grew his business to include product development in a sales-oriented industry.
Comprehensive Product Solutions xcel offers complete development for the retail marketplace by Daniel Casciato
tephen Peterson has always been a self-made man. Growing up on a hobby farm in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, 25 miles west of Milwaukee, he was ingrained with small-town values, as well as a passionate work ethic that continues to drive him today. Upon earning his BA in economics at the University of Colorado in 1989, Peterson started his own manufacturing-rep firm within the print industry. In 2004, he purchased one of his client’s small materials-distribution businesses and launched Xcel Products, Inc., a manufacturer and converter of specialty plastic films and magnetic receptive systems for the print marketplace. Headquartered in Minneapolis, Xcel engineers innovative media solutions for retail/restaurant signage and in-store environments. Peterson recently spoke to Profile about his business and shared some strategies for success.
Xcel Products, Inc.
Profile: Why did you start Xcel?
P: How has your experience helped make your busi-
Stephen Peterson: I’ve been a manufacturer’s rep in the printing industry for 20 years and have always wanted to develop and manufacture products of my own. I felt this would be a great complement to offer my existing customers.
salesman, taking care of clients properly, and being able to see and understand the right opportunities to grow my business.
P: What makes your company unique?
P: Please share with the readers some of your best-
SP: Xcel does a lot of pull-through marketing directly, including site audits with retailers and restaurants. While others are focused on selling commodity products only to printers, Xcel is more of a marketing company. We utilize in-house design and printing capabilities for concepts and prototyping store solutions. By providing these personalized prototypes, it helps prospective retailers visualize how it fits into their store environment. Our vast knowledge of films, adhesives, and coatings makes us a great resource for our customers. Many companies state they provide solutions, but Xcel really does. Because we’re able to offer cost-effective, custom products. We truly can provide innovative and total solutions. P: How have your employees contributed to the suc-
cess of the company?
SP: People are my best resource. I get spread very thin, but I’ve never been a micro manager. I always look for people with an entrepreneurial personality that you can empower, give them direction, and let them take it and run. I teach them to look and anticipate all angles before making a final decision. I have done a great job in finding people who specialize in an area of the printing industry that adds more value for us to excel.
Our top salesman was a nationally known sales manager from a large company in our industry. Our director of sales was a nationally known sales manager from a large company, as well. Both of them had multiple job offers and chose to come to Xcel. One of the main reasons was so they could escape selling the commodity products that have become overly focused on price while relationships meant less and less. We all enjoy the teamwork, designing new products, and providing real solutions to gain a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day. This is more rewarding than just making a sale.
SP: Twenty years of being more of a resource than
company timeline 1989: Stephen Peterson graduates from the University of Colorado 1989: Stephen L Peterson & Associates, Inc. is founded
2004: Peterson launches Xcel Products, Inc.
SP: We listen to our clients, anticipate their needs, and provide excellent communication, and that makes it easy for others to do business with Xcel.
2008: Visual Magnetics Graphics Systems wins SGIA Product of the Year Award
P: What do you enjoy most about your job?
2009: Visual Magnetics Graphics Systems once again wins SGIA Product of the Year Award
SP: Being a resource for my clients. Helping them find solutions, whether it’s from Xcel or another manufacturer. Secondly, meeting with the top companies in the US and worldwide. P: What’s the most valuable piece of advice you
2009: Xcel becomes sponsor of Sustainable Green Printing Partnership
received in helping to grow your business?
SP: Be conservative on adding fixed overhead. I put stock on my network of friends in different industries and really value their opinions even though they are in a different industry.
stragety to share
P: Can you offer some words of wisdom to other
SP: People are my best resource—quality, talented
people with diverse backgrounds who enhance your business with their knowledge and area of expertise. What they know is more important than who they know, and customers will come as a result. [P]
A message from Magnum Magentics Magnum Magnetics would like to congratulate Xcel Products, Inc. on its featured article in Profile magazine. Xcel has been a loyal partner of ours for several years. We look forward to continuing to grow our partnership through teamwork and innovation. Magnum Magnetics is proud to be an American supplier to Xcel for all of its magnet applications. We appreciate and support Xcel Products Inc. and wish it a prosperous 2010 and beyond.
learn to deligate “People are my best resource. I get spread very thin, but I’ve never been a micro manager. I always look for people with an entrepreneurial personality that you can empower, give them direction, and let them take it and run. I teach them to look and anticipate all angles before making a final decision.”
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CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR 30 YEARS OF SUCCESS Steve Lourens, President, CEO PROUD TO BE AN AUTHORIZED NUCOR BUILDER .
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BY THE NUMBERS
1980: AMG, Inc. was founded • $10.5 million: revenue from engineering fees for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2009 83: employees • 3: new employees added in 2009
master planner: President of AMG, Inc., Alberto Mendez, grew his business to become one of the largest engineering companies in Ohio.
Entreprenuership in Practice alberto mendez’s journey to the top of his field by Brigitte Yuille
lberto G. Mendez has always been driven. He came to the United States, at the age of 23, as a young engineer with barely any knowledge of English. Yet, within six months, he learned the language well enough to assist Cargill, Inc. in the installation of a starch-flash dryer in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and became part of a design team in a grassroots corn plant. He then joined Modern Process Design, Inc. (MPD), a full-service engineering company in Dayton, Ohio, as VP of engineering and continued building cornprocessing plants. When he left in December of 1979, after nearly seven years with the company, he was encouraged by his wife, Maria, to start AMG, Inc.—an engineering, project-management, and consulting business. The company serviced only the corn-wet-milling industry the first decade and had very impressive growth. In the 1990s, it began to design and build corn-processing plants. The plants produce starch, glucose, fructose, and fuel ethanol, as well as its co-products: carbon dioxide and dry distiller grain. Mendez spoke with Profile to discuss how he led AMG to be among the largest engineering companies based in Ohio.
“When I started AMG, I was an adventurer that did not have any fear, or a business plan.” Alberto G. Mendez, President Profile: How does AMG differ from others firms? Alberto Mendez: AMG, Inc. is one of the few
engineering companies in the USA that could work with clients from the conceptual stage of a project, and take it all the way to commissioning and start up with the client acting as the general contractor. We team up with the client to design/build the projects. P: What has been the company’s most recent strategy?
AM: AMG has mastered a system to create comput-
erized 3-D models that include all of the engineering disciplines, improving product quality and consistency as a result of our team efforts. The strategy is to create a design environment where all engineering disciplines are involved and contribute simultaneously to deliver a great project at a reasonable price. P: What have been the company’s challenges?
AM: AMG’s most recent challenge was helping the
client hold the project together during the replacement of the general contractor, after construction had been started. Our experience in project management, procurement, and construction was a tremendous asset on advising the client during the transition. P: Describe a recent success project.
AM: In early November 2009, AMG completed an
Enzyme Distribution Terminal for Novozymes in Blair, Nebraska, on time and under budget. In 2005, AMG teamed with Quality Technology International, Inc. and Centrisys Corp. to create Corn Value Products LLC. This entity owns the HydroMilling technology to allow corn ethanol plants to produce food first and fuel second, and to allow the clients to benefit from enhanced revenues and profits. P: What are some of the company’s best practices? AM: Some of our best practices are to promote good
communications between people and departments,
and to manage and protect our company’s information and the client’s information to create trust. P: Describe AMG’s culture and values. AM: As a family-owned company, we treat all of our
employees as family members, and during tough times, the employees are a higher priority than profits. AMG, Inc. has a very low hiring and firing rate, which is unusual in the engineering and consulting business.
company timeline 1966–1969: Alberto G. Mendez graduates from the Instituto Politcnico Nacional in Mexico City, with a BS in mechanical engineering 1979: Mendez leaves his position of vice president of engineering and minority shareholder at MPD, Inc. to pursue personal ambitions 1980: AMG, Inc. is founded on February 29th in Mendez’s garage in Dayton, Ohio. He hires two employees.
AM: Improve our quality, improve our managers and
1992: Mendez purchases E&I Controls, to expand business in electrical and control design
P: What advice do you have for small businesses starting to build their companies?
2005: Mendez reaches goal of becoming the leading engineering company in the industry and begins creating the AMG, Inc. brand
P: What goals do you have for the company’s future?
managements skills, continue to develop new clients in other industries, and continue our research and development in new food products.
AM: When I started AMG, I was an adventurer that
did not have any fear, or a business plan. However, over the years I had many opportunities to learn and understand the technical part and the financial part of the business, so it will be important for someone contemplating a new business to make sure he or she has a good product or skill to sell, and second, to learn to manage the liabilities, as sometimes we tend to grab the opportunities without analyzing the risk. [P]
2009: AMG’s focus turns to performance and less on growth opportunities
stragety to share
A message from Fluid Quip, Inc.
Congratulations to AMG, Inc. from Fluid Quip, Inc. upon completion of 30 years in the engineeringconsultation business. Fluid Quip was started in 1987, so we have enjoyed watching AMG grow in size and expertise. AMG has been our partner on a number of projects at various locations throughout the world. AMG’s dedication to customer support and professional engineering skills has made our cooperation rewarding and profitable. We look forward to many more joint projects.
“Some of our best practices are to promote good communication between people and departments, and to manage and protect our company’s information and the client’s information in a very professional way to create trust.”
Master Planning • Engineering • Project Management • Procurement • Commissioning & Start-Up
It Starts Here. AMG, Inc., is the single-source solution for concept-to-completion, seamless project execution. Every aspect of planning, design, procurement, construction, and start-up is supported to produce the most reliable processing facilities. Clients can count on experienced, professional staff for open and honest communication. The AMG, Inc., finely tuned project management team will safely and efficiently guide each project to peak performance and profitability.
1497 Shoup Mill Road, Dayton, OH 45414 937.274.0736
MAC CONGRATULATES AMG ON 30 YEARS!
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A Commitment to Excellence SMA insurance executives discuss “agency of the year” award company timeline
by Brigitte Yuille
MA Insurance is among today’s premier insurance agencies in Minnesota. Its industry peers and competitors have given the St. Cloud-based agency a nod of approval by presenting it with the 2008 Agency of the Year Award, which is handed out by the Minnesota Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers. The full-service, independent insurance agency offers a wide range of insurance products, mainly specializing in construction, transportation, and hospitality. Throughout the recent recession, the agency has managed to maintain double-digit growth without making any acquisitions. The founders attribute the agency’s success to its staff’s development of long-lasting and loyal relationships with clients. The agency has been in business for a quarter century and has future plans to acquire and partner with other insurance agencies. Here, the founders discuss the future, including plans to share their knowledge by offering college internships and mentoring younger agents. Profile: Could you discuss what sets your company
apart from others in the industry?
Shawn Wensel, account executive: It’s very low
Dennis Bork, president: Our staff has grown as
our agency has grown. We place a very high value on our staff, and we are happy to say that the average person is here ten years or more. That longevity and experience is what sets us apart from the others in our territory. Shawn Flavin, vice president: We really work
hard at cultivating relationships with the insurance companies. There are a lot of agencies our size that will grab every single carrier known to man and put them in their stable, whereas we expect some loyalty from our carriers and, in turn, we give that back to our companies. P: Who are your clients and how many do you have?
SF: I think we’re a very employee-friendly agency.
Our main concern is not the bottom line but the welfare of our employees. I think our employees all know it. SW: Flavin addressed the internal culture with our employees, but for our customer base, our culture is a bonus. Our customer-service people truly care about our customers.
2001: SMA is joined by Shawn Wensel, who studied the insurance industry at Saint Cloud State and worked in the industry for four years 2005: Wensel becomes a partner with Bork and Flavin
DB: A couple of years ago, as the property and con-
tractor markets began to deteriorate, the premium levels were reducing. We decided to expand into the benefits arena. That strategy we started three years ago, and we’ve been doing very, very well. On the personal-lines side, we’ve been concentrating on writing personal lines for our commercial clients at renewal. P: Who are your competitors?
sized commercial businesses. About 80 percent of our customers are business-based, and the remaining 20 percent would be personal-based, which is home and auto. In total, we have about 2,700 customers.
SW: Central Minnesota local and independent agencies. We’re about 60 miles from the Minneapolis/St. Paul areas, so there are some metro agencies. It’s not really the national brokers that are competing with us; it’s more the similar property and casualty insurance agencies that can compete with us.
P: What is the environment like at the company?
1985: Shawn Flavin, vice president, joins SMA Insurance in July—10 months after completing his college education
P: What have been the company’s most recent busi-
SW: Most of our businesses are small- to medium-
1984: Bork founds SMA Insurance in September. Bork spent most of his time selling insurance to bars and restaurants
stragety to share
nurturing talent The founders attribute SMA’s success to its staff’s development of long-lasting and loyal relationships with clients. The founders plan to continue sharing their knowledge by offering college internships to potential future employees and mentoring younger agents.
P: How have you overcome recent challenges? SW: Our agency has a heavy focus on the construction and contractor trades, but the slowdown in building has definitely caused many of our clients to reduce their payrolls and reduce what they’re doing. In turn, we have had to acquire more customers. We have to do more with less. P: Could you describe your company’s most recent successes? SW: We were voted the Agency of the Year in 2008 by the Minnesota Independent Insurance Agents Association. That was a great honor for our agency. SF: There are a lot of national carriers and regional carriers that are constantly knocking on our door to allow us to contract with them. As I told you earlier, we’re very choosy, and there’s a lot of diligence
BY THE NUMBERS
before we make a decision like that. It shows a lot for an agency when you have national and regional companies consistently asking you to join their table. SW: It’s insurance companies that actually want to be a part of us, want to partner with us to sell their product. It’s a compliment to our agency when these companies are looking to us to sell their product. P: What are the company’s current projects and
DB: I’m trying to do an acquisition of another agency in the St. Paul area. As a matter of fact, I have a luncheon today at noon; I think I’ll get the final answer. We’re pretty close to completing this acquisition. My goal over the next five years is to get close to $50 million in premium. In order to do that, we need people, and doing an acquisition of someone that has already proved successful seems
1984: SMA Insurance Agency was founded • 5: owners • 10: average years an employee works for the company $3 million: annual revenue • 12%: sales growth in the past year
“Other than radio advertising and newspaper advertising, word of mouth and referrals are huge for our industry and for our agency.”
Type of company
T h e S i lv e r l i n i n g
T h e wo rs t b r i n g s o u t o u r b e s t .
Shawn Wensel, Account Executive
to be a little bit of a faster track than hiring people and trying to train them. P: What words of wisdom can you offer for up-and-
West Bend is proud to be represented by SMA Insurance.
coming business owners?
SW: If an agent, producer, [or] sales person sincerely
cares about the customer’s or prospect’s business and can get that across to the prospective client, they are likely going to obtain that business. SF: I mentor a younger agent right now and what I tell him is, “Look past the dollar.” Young producers are so anxious to make the sale and put money in their pocket. I see that when a producer does that, when an agent does that, their chances of success decrease immensely. If you think, “What can I do to help this customer?” first and foremost, the dollars will follow. [P]
“The worst brings out our best.” Does that mean good news or bad news? Same thing with the silver lining. It’s a happy thought, no doubt. The only problem is, by deﬁnition, the silver lining comes with a cloud attached. And if you think about it, that’s why people buy insurance. We can probably agree there are a few clouds ﬂoating around with your name on them. If so, it makes sense to have a raincoat. And that’s why we believe we can say, “The worst brings out our best,” and it will be received as good news. At the core of everything we do lies a simple premise. A sincere desire to help our customers through problems and adversity. To make sure positives come from negative situations. To step up when you need us. To do the right thing. That’s The Silver Lining®.
Boutique Company, Global Scope Kent feuerring on turning his passion into a booming venture by Chris Allsop stragety to share
know your partner “If you’re working in a partnership, ensure that it’s solid. What I mean by that is that you never second guess them, that they have a complimentary set of skills to your own, and that you work really well together.” – Kent Feurring
xecutive producer Kent Feuerring co-owns the commercial-film production company apictures with director John Alper. Its business philosophy is high-end production, no matter what the budget. With employees operating out of New York, Miami, and Hollywood, apictures has shot in locations all around the globe, including Africa, China, Canada, and South America. On the commercial side of the business, apictures represents clients in a number of different industries, and past campaigns have been run for Sony, Sempra, Honda, Mercedes, Johnson & Johnson, and Lockheed Martin, among others. Here, the directors share their secrets to success. Profile: What is your educational background? Kent Feuerring: After growing up in Miami and attending the University of Hartford, [in] Connecticut, I transferred to the University of Miami to study architecture. Almost immediately I transferred out of architecture, spent a year studying economics at
Harvard, and finished up in business management, which I stuck with. P: How did you get into the film industry? KF: I never intended to go into this line of work. I moved to LA and fell into a book-keeping job with production-company Zupnik Enterprises (producer of Glengarry Glen Ross). It taught me a lot about the below-the-line aspects of a film. After deciding that I wanted to work within the faster project turnover that commercials provided rather than film, I moved to New York, where the commercial business was really booming at the time. I began working for Sussan & Co. After about a year and a half, I began to fully produce smaller commercials. A year later, I moved and opened the Sussan & Co. West Coast branch. P: How did you meet your business partner, director John Alper? KF: I had left Sussan & Co. to become a freelance producer/assistant director when I was 27, and I met John on a freelance job organized by my old boss. We produced a few commercials together, became fast friends, and worked really well together. P: And that was the start of apictures?
a valuable partnership: Kent Feuerring with business partner, John Alper, on location in the hub of the American motion-picture landscape.
KF: The company we started was initially called Alper Films, but yes. And instead of opening an office and asking a bank for the loan to get our company
BY THE NUMBERS
7: permanent employees • 60: freelancers hired for a normal-sized commercial shoot • 10: different countries used for shoots • 30: clients
off the ground, we used the money from our first production to fund the opening of our company. And then the next job came in, and the flow of money kept coming. We went out looking for other directors, and hired director Greg Vernon in the early ’90s. We’ve stuck with our two-director model ever since. P: What was the key to your success? KF: The key, and what meant that we could run the company without needing a ton of capital, is that we used a company, Johnson Burnett, that supplied services and office space to production companies. That took care of a lot of our costly overhead. We also had a lot of clients that gave us repeat business, which is essential in our line of work. P: How has apictures changed in the recent years? Kollins 3d Half Ad:Layout 1
KF: We’ve become a full production company. For
the last 10 years, we’ve had our own production insurance and provide everything for ourselves. Since the industry imploded in the ’90s, our business has changed dramatically. For example, we used to shoot all around the globe, but now that the dollar is so weak the financial incentive isn’t there; subsequently, most of our projects are shot on home soil. Additionally, we’ve been getting increasingly involved in shooting online content. P: What are your plans for the future?
company timeline 1987: Feuerring finishes college, begins working for Zupnik Enterprises 1989: Feuerring arrives in New York and begins working for Sussan & Co. 1992: Feuerring breaks out as a freelance producer 1993: Feuerring meets John Alper and the two start Alper Films (what will become apictures) 1997: Feuerring hires director Greg Vernon
KF: We are really pleased with where we are, both
from a business perspective and with the creative work we are doing. As a company evolves, and evolving doesn’t necessarily mean growing in this market, we always aim for really good creative work. [P]
Looking for a 3D post facility? Kollins Communications is extending its expertise in High Definition with 3D stereo post-production and graphics. Leading companies have trusted us for years with their marketing, we can help you too. The scenes above are from our latest production with Kent Feuerring. From creative to final product we can produce. If you want to see for yourself, please call us to arrange a visit to our 3D facility in Mahwah, New Jersey.
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SHN Consulting Engineers & Geologist
Socially Responsible Geoscience ceo leads his team of engineers “behind the redwood curtain” company timeline 1979: Selvage & Heber is formed
teaching by example: K. Jeff Nelson, president and CEO of SHN Consulting Engineers & Geologists, Inc.
1986: First branch office opens in Redding, CA 1988: S&H acquires Northern Geotechnical Investigations in Eureka, CA 1993: Name changes to SHN Consulting Engineers & Geologists 2001: Coos Bay, OR, office opens in 2001 2001: Jack Selvage, founder and first CEO, retires; K. Jeff Nelson becomes CEO 2004: SHN acquires TM Herman & Associates
by Brigitte Yuille stragety to share
hold on to talent “In this business climate, recognize and reward the talented staff you do have; and if you are going to survive and continue to thrive, make sure the staff you retain really are the talented producers. And weed out the non-performers.” — K. Jeff Nelson
HN Consulting Engineers & Geologists, Inc., a civil- and geotechnical-engineering consulting firm, recently celebrated 30 years providing services in engineering, geoscience, planning, and surveying to its public and private clients in the Pacific Northwest. The privately held California corporation is led by K. Jeff Nelson, who received a bachelor’s of science in civil engineering from Stanford. He assumed the role of CEO in 2001, after presiding as COO for 10 years. Here, Nelson discusses his best strategies for success. Profile: What characteristics distinguish your company from your competitors? K. Jeff Nelson: We are a small regional firm for northern California and southern Oregon. In those areas that we immediately serve, we’re really the only firm with the breadth of services that we offer. Secondly, the location of our offices allows us to cover a pretty broad geographic area.
Quality has been a major focus for us. I mean, we just don’t churn the projects through. We look for those projects where we can add value and put out a project that we are proud of. We try very hard to make our clients a partner with us in the project by really taking time to get to know and understand what they want and what they need—sometimes those two things aren’t the same. Understanding this can be critical to providing a product the client can be happy with.
SHN Consulting Engineers & Geologist, Inc.
BY THE NUMBERS
1979: SHN was founded • $10.5 million: annual sales revenue 90: employees consisting of engineers, geologists, surveyors, and scientists
P: Describe a recent corporate strategy.
P: What do you forsee for the company?
KJN: I think the most significant shift we had to make recently was that in most recessionary periods, government steps up spending particularly on infrastructure. In this situation, where three out of our four offices are in California, and the rather dire fiscal condition of the State of California, they frankly weren’t able to do that. So we scaled back on that type of work. One of our biggest challenges right now, because of state budget problems, has been cash flow associated with projects funded by the State of California. We are still maintaining our good relationships with state agencies, but we’re not counting on them for the immediate future. Instead, we’re looking for smaller projects and helping some of our clients obtain funding from alternative sources.
KJN: I think the challenges going forward will be to provide exceptional service for those clients we have, take care of them, and continue to provide a value and a service. Beyond that, it’s going to be accessing how we deliver our product to our clients, streamlining the process, and becoming more efficient. P: What words of advice do you have to offer to other small business? KJN: In this business climate, recognize and reward
the talented staff you do have; and if you are going to survive and continue to thrive, make sure the staff you retain really are the talented producers. And weed out the nonperformers. [P]
P: What other challenges have you faced? KJN: For firms like ours, particularly in smaller regions, finding qualified staff is a tremendous challenge. You would think with the recession and people being laid off it would come easier; it’s not dramatically easier. P: What is it like working at the company? KJN: Collegial. We’re a very informal organization. We pride ourselves for the fact that we have a large number of very long-term employees. We have one engineer that has been here for the entire 30 years. P: Could you talk about the a recent success your company has accomplished? KJN: Our Eureka office completed a project for the county office of education, where they constructed a new facility on a site that contains wetlands and the upper end of a slough. We were able to put in place what in today’s world would be a green solution to dealing with a sensitive ecosystem and facility stormwater and drainage. This project involved coordinating with a number of local, state, and federal agencies, and was selected by the local American Society of Civil Engineers as an award-winning project last year.
Shaw & Petersen Insurance 1313 Fifth St. Eureka
Anderson Robinson Starkey Insurance Agency
Where Strong Futures Begin Specializing in Commercial Engineering and Construction Risk
1117 Samoa Blvd. Arcata
707-822-7251 Lic.# 0C60256
Harbers Insurance Agency 210 12th St. Fortuna
707-725-3315 Lic.# 0510019
Shaw Insurance Services 2275 North St. Anderson
530-365-2575 Lic.# 0B07026
The Shaw group congratulates President Jeff Nelson and SHN
The Richards Group
Perceptive Agents and Advisors The Richards group offers service with a personal touch company timeline 1948: Ed Richards establishes the Richards Insurance Agency 1970’s: The agency becomes Richards, Gates, Hoffman & Clay 1976-1986: The Richards Group goes through a major growth period and aquires seven local isurance agencies throughout Vermont 1999-2001: The Richards Group acquires three local insurance agencies 2005-2008: The group grows further, aquiring two more local insurance agencies 2008: The group opens fifth office location a promising future: Peter Richards, Ben Taggard, and Drew Richards are the third-generation leaders of The Richards Group, a family business started by their grandfather, Edward Richards. stragety to share
look to the future “The success we’ve had in the past, or the strategies our firm has used to achieve success in the past, won’t necessarily get us where we want to go in the future or where we want to be in the future. We’re employing a new mindset and new strategies.” – Ben Taggard
by Brigitte Yuille
he Richards Group Insurance and Financial Services Agency, based in Brattleboro, Vermont, has been a family business for three generations. It was started in 1948 by Ed Richards, but with mergers and acquisitions the company dates as far back as 1867. Mark Richards took over the agency from his father in the 1970s and was later joined by Mark’s brother-in-law, Henry Taggard. Today, Drew Richards, Peter Richards, and Ben Taggard, the third generation, are leading the business as vice presidents. Drew oversees operations including finance, human resources, sales, marketing, mergers and acquisitions; Peter focuses on the property and casualty business; and Ben presides over the employeebenefits and investment businesses. The agency’s clients include businesses, nonprofits, individuals, and families throughout Vermont and New Hampshire. While its clients reflect the diverse size and scale of the Vermont business landscape, the agency maintains areas of expertise in healthcare, manufacturing, and schools. It competes with other independent agencies and employee-benefits and investment advisors, as well as direct writers throughout Vermont, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts, including GEICO, Progressive, Nationwide, and All State.
The Richards Group
BY THE NUMBERS
<$10 million: annual sales • 5%: overall sales growth in 2008 • 125%: growth in the amount of new business written in 2009 • 70: employees
Profile: What are your company’s recent successes?
Drew Richards: The acquisition of an employee-
benefits business and subsequent opening of a branch office in Norwich, Vermont, has been a tremendous success for The Richards Group. The Norwich office is almost an hour outside of our main markets and gives us a toehold and opportunity to write business in an area where we don’t have good market share. In conjunction with the acquisition, we hired Tom Scull, formerly of Cigna Healthcare, to direct the new branch and play a senior role in our employee-benefits business. He’s been a huge addition to our team and extends our ability to write employee-benefits accounts on the upper end of the spectrum. P: What sets you apart from your competitors? DR: We frame the discussion with our clients, prospects, and employees around comparing our value proposition as an agency versus other agencies, not the products we sell or provide versus what someone else might provide, because there is no differentiation among those products. We want people to evaluate us independent of the products and services that we provide and evaluate us as the agent and as the advisor. P: What challenges have you come across, and how
have you overcome them?
Ben Taggard: The most difficult plan recently
has been trying to implement a growth strategy with a very challenging economy, and helping our clients. We’ve been trying to provide more resources, services, and guidance to clients and truly play that advisory role that they need in a difficult economy. P: What are the company’s future goals? DR: Our longer-term goals are to expand into truly a
regional insurance, employee-benefits, and investments firm that touches on a broader geographic area, opening new markets, and expanding that way. We also talk about expanding our offerings horizontally, so there are services or products that we can provide outside of insurance, employee benefits, or invest-
ment that are complementary to our client base and allow us to grow in a horizontal fashion, whereas historically we’ve focused more vertically. P: What words of wisdom do you offer to small busi-
nesses who are struggling at this time?
DR: In our business, I fully believe that you’re only as good as the talent of your employees, and that’s a function of who you hire in the first place, and then how well you treat them and how well you train and support them once they’re here. I think for any new organization, what’s got to be a top one, two, or three priority is who your team is, who your core is, and really working hard to develop it once you’ve established it. [P]
Cottingham & Butler
Eliminating Commercial Risk cottingham & butler provides service on a personal level Company timeline 1887: Cottingham & Butler is founded by Dixon Cottingham 1900: Dixon’s son, John Cottingham, joins the company and the firm becomes known as D. Cottingham & Son 1957: Current president John Cottingham joins the firm, followed shortly by his brother Peter 1958: The brothers create an insurance niche specializing in poultry insurance and the commercial insurance and life insurance business 1964: John Cottingham Sr. passes the company onto the next generation, effectively seperating the poultry and commercial businesses 1990: Patrick joins Cottingham & Butler after graduating college
stragety to share
inspire your team “Believe in your employees. When you unlock their true potential, you’ll be surprised with the results.” — Steven Schill
Focusing on the future: Chris Patrick, senior VP of large fleet transportation, represents the next generation of Cottingham & Butler, continuing a legacy of success that spans more than 100 years.
by Daniel Casciato Over the past decade, Cottingham & Butler, a commercial insurance brokerage, has seen a steady rise in revenue and employees. Since 2005, the Dubuque, Iowa-based firm’s annual revenues have increased by 38 percent to $58 million, while its employee size has increased by 16 percent to 365. When Chris Patrick, Cottingham & Butler’s senior vice president of transportation for its Transportation Group, joined 19 years ago, there were only 75 employees. “It’s been fun and gratifying to be part of a company that has succeeded and grown over the years,” he says. “It’s about hiring and cultivating good people. When you get good people, it makes the enterprise more successful.” Steven J. Schill, Sr., vice president and practice leader of Cottingham & Butler’s National Specialized Transportation Division, agrees. “We attract, develop, and retain top salespeople and service support,” he says. “We build long-term relationships with our clients and specifically dedicate a service team to work on their business so we know and understand their business.” As part of Cottingham & Butler’s transportation division, Patrick and Schill try to find creative and innovative ways to solve risk and insurance issues for independent owner operators and small-fleet owners. Patrick’s team focuses on operations with 50 or more units, while Schill’s group focuses on 1–50 unit operations. Profile recently sat down with both men to discuss their firm, the transportation insurance industry, and some best business practices.
Cottingham & Butler
BY THE NUMBERS
1887: Cottingham & Butler was founded • $58 million: company revenue in 2009 • 365: employess at Cottingham & Butler • 38%: revenue growth since 2005 • 11: offices
Profile: What’s the most valuable piece of advice you
received in your career?
Chris Patrick: Looking at the world through the eyes of the customers and trying to figure out what they need. If you do that, it’s a very powerful tool. Steven Schill: Do not confuse effort with results. The other item that has stuck with me is something I heard Zig Ziglar say at one of the Peter Lowe Success Seminars: “Love what you do, or learn to love why you do what you do.” P: What do you enjoy most about your job? CP: I enjoy when we bring a customer on and a year
down the road, they come back and say to us that this was the best business decision they made, or tell us how we have helped to improve their company. It’s great to grow your business, but ultimately, when your customers tell you how pleased they are with their decision to work with you, that to me is the most gratifying part of what we do. SS: What I like most about my job is the competitive nature of our organization. We do not rest on what we did last week. We keep searching for new ideas and new solutions to bring to the table for our clients. P: What words of wisdom can you share with other
CP: As an industry, we get a bad rap because of a
few people who don’t do what they promise. If more people in our industry are committed to following through on their promises and delivering products that really do meet the needs of their customers, more people would have a positive image of our industry. P: What are some of your best-business practices?
CP: Do what’s right for the customer. If you take care of them, in the end it will benefit your business. We try to look at each customer individually and figure out what programs best fits them.
SS: Hire the best people you can find and keep them. We run a very professional, responsible operation, but it is our people who make it happen. They’re our most important asset. P: Tell us about your employees and how they help make your company successful. CP: Our employees are driven to serving our clients’
needs, and they care about their results. We like to say that our job is not to sit across the desk but on the same side of the desk and help our customers solve their problems.
SS: We rely on our professional staff to deliver solutions to our clients. All of our employees understand client service and the importance of being there for our clients. [P]
A message from Chartis Chartis, a world-leading property-casualty insurance organization, is proud to partner with Cottingham & Butler in the delivery of innovative risk-management solutions to the transportation industry. At Chartis, we value the dedication and expertise Cottingham & Butler offers to this sector and look forward to continuing our business partnership.
Set a co urse for
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Chartis will help you get there.
For over 90 years, we’ve guided our clients through the complex and ever-changing landscape of risk, with innovative commercial and personal insurance products. We can do the same for you. Learn more at www.chartisinsurance.com
All products are written by insurance company subsidiaries or affiliates of Chartis Inc. Coverage may not be available in all jurisdictions and is subject to actual policy language. For additional information, please visit our website at www.chartisinsurance.com.
resources 38 signature events 41 innovative home theaters 44 patriot technologies 46 the world protection group 48 forthgear 50 D&K engineering 52 Intelligroup
Signature Events, Corporate Success Amy piper puts a personal touch on corporate-event planning by Laura Williams-Tracy
Specialty and promotional items Promote your business or event long after the guests leave
ome think the devil is in the details. But for Amy Piper, the details deliver the delight. Creating the unexpected touches that make each event unique is the signature that Piper leaves on each event produced by her company, Signature Events, which is located in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, the oldest summer resort in America. Take, for example, a recent lakeside wedding coordinated by Signature Events. The couple wanted to include their beloved pet, a black Labrador retriever, into their special day. Because the invitation is the best place to set the tone for an event, Piper connected her clients with stationery-expert Celeste Simpson of Impress Me Designs. Simpson worked with a family photo of the client’s dog gleefully jumping off a lakeside dock, creating a graphic icon that carried throughout the wedding stationery and into the event’s décor. The image of the dog branded the event and was included in a custom ice sculpture, custom luminary bags, a gobo on the dance floor, the seating chart, and elegantly etched brandy glasses used as favors.
Entertainment needs Bands, DJs, comedians, hypnotists, and specialty artists Specialty linen rentals Tablecloths, napkins, chair covers, and accessories Party-equipment rentals Giant inflatables, interactive games, virtual reality, fun foods, and novelty items
“We wanted to brand the entire wedding with the theme to bring cohesion to the event,” Piper says. Guests were touched by the personalization and felt the details added to the perfect signature setting for the wedding on Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire. “Some of the smallest-budget weddings have been the most beautiful because the bride made every detail count,” Piper says. “I believe it is important that every event is custom designed to fit the client’s style and budget.” For Piper, it was a combination of her love for family and her entrepreneurial spirit that started her on a path to producing meaningful events. When her children were born, Piper gave up advertising sales and created a business that allowed her to work from home. For 13 years, she designed handmade jewelry that she sold at craft fairs and galleries. Each year during Thanksgiving weekend, she hosted an event called “A Gathering of Friends” that brought nearly 1,500 people to her 100-yearold farmhouse-turned-gallery, to shop for fine arts and crafts from more than 35 artisans. “That was the start of my realization that I loved to plan events,” Piper says. “That got the ball rolling.”
AMY PIPER, founder of signature events For Piper, it was a combination of her love for family and her entrepreneurial spirit that started her on a path to producing meaningful events. When her children were born, Piper gave up advertising sales and created a business that allowed her to work from home. For 13 years, she designed handmade jewelry that she sold at craft fairs and galleries. Each year during Thanksgiving weekend, she hosted an annual event called “A Gathering of Friends” that brought nearly 1,500 people to her 100-year-old farmhouseturned-gallery, to shop for fine arts and crafts from more than 35 artisans. “That was the start of my realization that I loved to plan events,” Piper says. “That got the ball rolling.” Photo: Birch Blaze Studios
Type of company
setting the mood: The warmth of a beautiful room and an elegant head table make the perfect setting for this Signature Event-planned affair. Photo: Symphony Photography.
personal touch: Customized invitations set the tone for an event, as seen here with this stationery ensemble designed by Impress Me Designs. Photo: Birch Blaze Studios
food for the eyes: Food in itself is an important part of the decor. Shown here is a colorful presentation of fresh berries and edible orchids. Photo: Signature Events
all in the details: A simple but elegant bouquet of white calla lilies adds an elegant touch. Photo: Signature Events
“I believe it is important that every event is custom designed to fit the client’s style and budget.” Amy Piper, Owner
Organizing a concert benefiting a local private school convinced Piper to start Signature Events in 1998. The full-service event-planning company now specializes in weddings, as well as corporate and special events, such as themed fundraisers, golf tournaments, and company outings. Piper offers a personal, professional, and individualized approach to all aspects of event planning, and coordinates the work of reputable industry professionals, including caterers, lighting and rental specialists, photographers, florists, and musicians, to deliver an
unforgettable event. She enjoys working with several entertainment agents to provide top-notch bands, DJs, comedians, hypnotists, or specialty artists for her clients. And with a personal philosophy that linens can either make or break an event, Piper works with several quality linen-rental companies to provide linens from an extensive line of specialty products and accessories. In addition, Signature Events offers a line of party-equipment rentals, such as giant inflatables, interactive games, and promotional items. Piper also travels for destination weddings and corporate events, including events in Colorado at The Broadmoor and in Tennessee at Opryland. “Planning and organizing corporate events at these two five-star luxury resorts was a rewarding and invaluable experience, and will always be a highlight in my career as an event planner,” she says. Most new contracts come from referrals and have enabled Piper to double revenue from 2008 to 2009 during a difficult recession. Now celebrating its 12th year in business, Signature Events remains a sole proprietorship, but depending on the size of the event, includes a skilled support staff.
On the day of an event, Piper is on the job site for 17 hours, coordinating elements with creative energy to ensure the event is a success. Piper uses her love of photography to create a lasting memory for her clients, as she photographs the many details that made the day special from an event planner’s perspective. This gift to her clients documents details that are often overlooked, such as the setting before guests arrive, the detail of the floral arrangements, a child’s smile, or the icing on the cake. For Piper, the event is the culmination of sometimes more than a year of planning and building a relationship with her clients. “I think I have cried at every father-daughter dance there’s been,” Piper says. “I cherish having been a part of their entire journey.” [P]
Innovative Home Theaters, Inc.
Keeping Companies Connected teleconferencing systems for the corporate marketplace by Ryan Nave
Audio Systems IHT designs and installs 70-volt commercial audio systems for small offices, large commercial properties, and outside entertainment areas. IHT also provides music systems and high-performance audio system.
or Brett Ogilvie, retirement was about as exciting as watching a Hollywood blockbuster action flick on a tiny black-and-white TV. A lifelong electronics aficionado, Ogilvie had spent 15 years with global management and technologyconsulting giant Accenture before retiring in 2002 as a partner with the firm. But the Orlando native soon grew restless. Three months later, in January 2003, Ogilvie opened Innovative Home Theaters (IHT) in his hometown. As the company’s name implies, IHT specializes in custom home entertainment, music, and lighting systems, home automation, and also offers computer networking, security cameras, and phone and intercom systems. With about 80 percent of IHT’s business being residential—primarily homeowners and custom homebuilders—the remaining 20 percent is comprised of the company’s commercial and lighting divisions. Unlike chain stores that sell pre-packaged hometheater systems that offer little flexibility and poor performance, IHT interviews each customer and works with interior-design firms, builders, and architects to construct an entertainment system that is “uniquely yours,” Ogilvie says. “We deliver the ‘wow’ factor.” Smaller jobs can range anywhere from $10,000 to
Board Rooms and Conference Rooms IHT provides the latest multi-panel LCD Display solutions or networked Video projector and screen systems, with digital white-board control systems. Video Surveillance Systems IHT offers a full range of video-surveillance systems, from simple cameras to long-range infrared night-vision cameras and digital video records that can record all video images in real time. Images can be viewed over the internet.
$25,000 for a basic media room, and can take two to three weeks to complete. More complex projects can take between one and nine months and cost $50,000 and above, depending on size and performance. And for customers who really want to be wowed, IHT is more than equipped to accommodate them, too. Its most lavish project to date is a $356,000 system designed for a professional athlete, whom Ogilvie declines to name for privacy reasons. The room seats dozens of people and features a 120-inch screen, risers, a granite wet bar, concession area, a Runco highend projector, Lexicon amplifiers and processors, and 11 premiere BG speakers and subwoofers. Fueled in part by the rising popularity of high-definition LCD and plasma televisions, and other emerging entertainment technologies such as Blu-Ray and media servers, business at the 10-employee company is increasing. According to Ogilvie, IHT’s revenues have doubled every year since the first year in operation, from sales of $285,000 in 2003 to $1.6 million in 2008. Because of the nationwide economic downturn that dented Florida’s real-estate and building industry, 2009 was IHT’s most challenging year, in particular for sales to custom homebuilders. As a result, the company may expand to a second showroom somewhere on the state’s eastern coast in 2010. Ogilvie says IHT will also focus on its energy-efficient lighting-control systems, which offer cost savings to customers over the long-term, and continue to grow its commercial division. Commer-
brett ogilvie, president &CEO In addition to being the president and CEO of Innovative Home Theaters, Inc., Ogilvie is a principal with The North Highland Company, where he continues to serve Fortune 100 companies, specializing in Strategic Information Technology Planning. He received both his bachelor of science and master of science in computer and information-engineering sciences, with honors from the College of Engineering at the University of Florida. Ogilvie is an active member of the Metro Orlando Home Builders Association, the American Society of Interior Designers, Consumer Electronics Association Tech Home Division, The Custom Electronic Design & Installation Association, and the Stirling Sotheby’s Global Gallery.
Type of company
conference of the future: Innovative Home Theaters creates unique commercial boardrooms, pictured with a 100-inch computer screen on one end and a state-of-theart high-definition TV on the other.
Innovative Home Theaters, Inc.
“We try to build a system that really exceeds the customer’s expectations.” Brett Ogilvie, President & CEO
cial clients have included Marriott Resorts, Hilton Resorts, Planet Hollywood, City of Orlando, Reserve at Beachline, Camden Orange Courts, and Majestic condominiums. IHT also designs outdoor audio and video systems, along with video-surveillance systems, weatherproof LCD screens, electronic whiteboards, large-venue video projectors, and motorized shades for conference rooms and corporate boardrooms. “What sets us apart is our certifications and the knowledge of our employees,” says Ogilvie, who has both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in computer and information science engineering from the University of Florida in Gainesville. “We’re not the biggest, but I’d put our guys up against anybody. I think we are the best.” Not only do their employees go through a minimum of 80 hours of training each year, but IHT is a licensed electrical contractor and is certified by the Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association, Imaging Science Foundation, and the Home Acoustics Alliance. IHT also holds memberships in the Home Builders Association, Consumer Electronics Association, American Institute of Architects, and the American Society of Interior Designers.
While IHT participates in a full suite of traditional advertising, its best customers come to it via word of mouth from other satisfied customers. “We try to build a system that really exceeds the customer’s expectations,” Ogilvie says. “We want to blow them away.” [P]
High-Performance Architectural Planar Loudspeakers
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Patriot Technologies, Inc.
Corporate Security Solutions patriot technologies offers defence for commercial data services
by Laura Clark
hen president and founder Bruce Tucker and partner Steve Keefe formed Patriot Technologies, Inc. in 1996, they were at the forefront of the so-called Internet age. What started out as an appliance-manufacturing company quickly evolved into a hub for cyber security. That foresight into online protection soon attracted clients in both the federal and commercial sectors, helping to grow business exponentially. “It’s like an arms race,” Tucker says. “When there’s a new piece of technology, building the security usually comes afterwards.”
That security is where Patriot Technologies comes in. What the software and solutions company offers is products and services that comply with a particular client’s protection needs. Those customers can range from the Department of Defense to national banks, all with different demands. “All of them are trying to protect data and keep that secure,” Tucker says. “But a financial institution like a bank has different regulations versus the Department of Homeland Security. The level of security is different for each.” Patriot Technologies addresses those needs in a variety of ways. First, it assesses a company’s risk and vulnerabilities. Next, it offers threat protection such as firewalls, guarding against both outsider and insider threats. “We will go to a company, perform a penetration test to see if hackers can get in, if they’re
To promote his expanding business, Tucker is spotlighting the company Website and blog, in addition to optimizing its appearance in search engines. Patriot also hosts webinars through the site. That includes: • Boot camps and certification preparation • Information-security classes • Intermediate information-security training • Advanced informationsecurity training • Web security and hacking • Mandiant-security training • IBM-security training • F5 security • Blue-coat security
vulnerable,” Tucker says. “We’ll come in and assess and then install products.” Additionally, it also offers continuing education for clients who want to increase their level of security training and certification. These services are in addition to the roughly dozen clients for whom Patriot Technologies builds appliances, which integrate software and hardware. That business model has allowed Patriot to grow from a company of three employees to one with more than 60 and annual revenues of $70 million. Tucker credits that success to shrewd marketing and careful partnering on a limited scale, as well as maintaining a positive relationship with employees. “We try to take care of our own people,” Tucker says. “We have a profit-sharing program, we promote education. It’s a good environment for employees. We’re not treating them like a dime a dozen.” He adds that “there’s very little turnover. A half dozen to a dozen have been there more than 10 years.” Patriot Technologies keeps its employees engaged in the company through additional efforts such as quarterly parties, as well as the Patriot Foundation, a charity that involves employees. According to Tucker, the company is part of the decision-making when it comes to choosing charitable organizations. “We help families,” he says about the Foundation. “The atmosphere is not just work.” As Patriot Technologies continues its path of satisfy-
bruce tucker, president and founder As president and founder of Patriot Technologies, Bruce leads Patriot’s federal and commercial Enterprise Security Solutions (ESS) business, which consists of services, training, and product distribution. Since his founding of Patriot in 1996, the company has grown from a staff of 3 to nearly 60 employees with annual revenues in excess of $60 million. Patriot’s success today is largely due to Bruce’s passion for developing his people at the highest level and for building a formidable executive-support team respected throughout the information-security industry. Prior to Patriot Technologies, Bruce spent 13 years with Pioneer Technologies Inc. and held various sales and management positions during his tenure there.
“It’s like an arms race. When there’s a new piece of technology, building the security usually comes afterwards.” Bruce Tucker, President & Founder
ing customers and employees, the company also has defined goals for the coming year and beyond. Tucker says that the company is looking at acquisitions and talking to services-only companies. In addition, the company is tripling its marketing and sales efforts, a move that diverges from a lot of companies that are scaling back. Patriot also is staying private. “We are not looking for any outside capital,” Tucker says. Tucker compares the current economic downturn with the Internet bubble that occurred in the earlier part of the decade. “In the 2000–01 bubble, competitors focused on Internet companies that didn’t have good business plans,” he says. At that time, however, Patriot focused on the government. And during the recovery, he adds, the company remained focused on federal clients. “Moving from commercial to federal is hard to do overnight,” he says, but that resilience has given Patriot an edge over the competition. “The federal government isn’t going out of business anytime soon.” Tucker relies on traditional interaction over cyber interaction when it comes to dealing with clients. “It’s not just e-mails or e-mail blasts; it’s face-to-face meetings and calling,” he says. “It all comes down to the relationship with the customer.” As far as Patriot Technology’s present outlook, Tucker says it is “cautious but optimistic—that’s our outlook for the near future. We will continue to invest in Patriot and its people, looking forward to continued long-term success.” [P]
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The World Protection Group, Inc.
Protecting Corporate Assets Kent Moyer’s risk-assessment skills keep clients secure by Laura Williams-Tracy
Corporate Security: World Protection Group’s knowledgeable, experienced security consultants partner with clients to conduct the security surveys and assessments necessary to determine adequate security measures to protect valuable assets. World Protection Group works with customers to create site standards and requirements, policies, and procedures critical to securing facilities, employees, and information.
n Hollywood, the security team surrounding a celebrity is a group of thick thugs, ready to draw weapons or beat up would-be stalkers. In the business world, the most effective security a corporate executive or high-wealth individual can get is low-key but well prepared. “It’s not about fighting and drawing guns or even carrying guns,” says Kent Moyer, founder and president of The World Protection Group, Inc., a full-service security company based in Beverly Hills, California. “It’s about training and the advance work done before a client ever goes to a location.”
Typical security firms tend to operate as an extension of law enforcement and react to threats. Moyer sets out to create an executive-protection firm less focused on uniforms and guns and more attuned to assessing threats ahead of time. Before an assignment, World Protection Group agents develop a plan to minimize threats while planning movements and emergency procedures. Agents assess a safe travel route and plan a secondary route in the event of an incident and rehearse before the event happens. “Our goal is to never stand and fight. The goal is to cover and evacuate,” Moyer says. “It’s about being low profile and blending in with the client. If you get in a fight, you’ve already failed.” The World Protection Group’s first client was a major entertainment company based in California. Over
Protective Services: • Uniformed protective services • Executive protection • Estate security • Special-event security • Loss prevention • Threat management and investigation • Consulting and investigations.
time, the business expanded from celebrities and entertainers to corporate clients and high-net-worth individuals. The World Protection Group now has 200 employees working in executive protection, mid-level security and investigations, and uniform security. Based in California, Arizona, New York, Washington, and Oklahoma, as well as Mexico City, World Protection Group agents travel with clients all over the world and have worked in 20 countries. Because its brand of security is different, World Protection Group markets itself to a different base of decision makers. Instead of selling to fellow security managers, Moyer pitches the company to wealth managers, agents, and investment managers who manage a different but equally important kind of risk for clients. “Those marketing efforts differentiate our company because they can have a more effective sell,” Moyer says. The approach appears to be working. Since 2006, World Protection Group’s revenue has grown by 75 percent. Clients include International Creative Management talent agency and Federal Express, though most clients remain unnamed and have confidentiality agreements. Security for most clients is increasingly complex. World Protection Group scouts threats for identity theft, follows up on inappropriate correspondence, and conducts background checks for those working most closely with clients.
kent moyer, president and founder Over a 20-year career in security and law enforcement, Kent Moyer has specialized in high-risk clients, including foreign dignitaries, heads of multinational corporations, wealthy business owners, actors, and musicians. Moyer is certified by the FBI as a law-enforcement firearms instructor and is a graduate of the National Law Enforcement Training Center, Orange County Sheriff’s Academy, and Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department. Additionally, over his career, Moyer learned from high-ranking Secret Service leaders and became an accomplished martial artist. Moyer then used his combination of security skill and business acumen to launch The World Protection Group in 2001.
The World Protection Group, Inc.
“Our goal is to never stand and fight. The goal is to cover and evacuate. It’s about being low profile and blending in with the client. If you get in a fight, you’ve already failed.” Kent Moyer, Founder & President
“We started out wanting only to be an executive protection company and found clients needed a fullservice security firm,” Moyer says. “Our clients are normal people who have some of the same problems regular people have, but each client is unique. We like to take a client and educate them in the way we do security and show them that our way is better.” [P]
Corporate executives and high-net-worth individuals rely on WPG’s team of Executive Protective Agents to minimize security risks.
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Designing a Comprehensive Brand forthgear creates marketing solutions from the ground up Services
by Brigitte Yuille
e believe that we change lives,” says Brett Gee, president of Forthgear, Inc., an integrated marketing, communications, and design company based in Kaysville, Utah. And he may be right. Forthgear—which helps companies, business associations, and municipalities develop a well-thought-out plan for promoting their business or product—has taken advantage of the high-tech and network-marketing companies within Utah and surrounding areas. It has even provided local pro-bono work for its broad and varied clientele.
Forthgear provides a strategic plan to its clients and makes sure it relates to the target audience. Whether or not someone is learning about the company from an advertisement, Web site, or other source, everything works in concert. The process involves helping clients look at the value that the company brings to the marketplace and its brand positioning. “Brand is more than what [our clients] look like—it’s who they are, the relationship they have with their customer, and that resulting loyalty they get back,” Gee explains. He also says creativity has helped the company’s business, as well as a strong attentiveness to clients, which he prefers to call “client intimacy.” “We really work to develop a relationship with our client,” he says. The company was started in the mid-’90s by Gee and his then-partner, Kelly Taylor. Taylor had gathered
Advertising, brand management, business strategy, consultation, copywriting and editing, corporate identity, creative development, event planning, graphic design, illustration, photography Managed services Audio production, broadcast production, marketing research, media planning and placement, online marketing, video production, photography Traditional products Booths/displays, brochures/catalogs, direct mail, logos/identity, publications/newsletters, radio/audio, television New-media solutions Banner-ad development, e-commerce and online marketing/social networking, online video, e-mail campaigns, flash development, interactive cds/dvds, PowerPoint
two clients, and the company found additional clients through grassroots efforts. “We worked with family, friends, and the Chambers of Commerce,” Gee says. “We did a little direct-mail work to let people know we were around.” The company had some initial turnover, but it barely affected its successful start. “In our second year, we almost did a million dollars worth of business,” he says. The company gained high recognition within the community when it became a recipient of the Davis Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year in 1999. Three years later, it was among Utah’s Top 100 fastest-growing businesses. The company’s flexibility sets it apart from its competitors, making it very easy for a variety of different companies to work with Forthgear. “We can work with established marketing departments within large corporations,” Gee says. “We have clients that are multinational and multibillion-dollar organizations. We also have the little sandwich shop down the street.” In fact, a local channel marketing company, Marketstar, has helped Forthgear work with big national brands, such as Blackberry, Microsoft, and Capital One. The company also works within the education, financial, medical, automotive, and food markets. Forthgear has recently countered the national economic blow by putting its money where its mouth is. Gee and his staff are making an effort not to shut
brett gee, president of forthgear, inc. Gee and his then partner, Kelly Taylor, started FORTHGEAR in the mid-’90s. “We worked with family, friends, and the Chambers of Commerce,” Gee says. “We did a little direct-mail work to let people know we were around. In our second year, we almost did a million dollars worth of business,” he says. FORTHGEAR gained recognition in the community when it became a recipient of the Davis Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year in 1999. Three years later, it was among Utah’s Top 100 fastestgrowing businesses.
off markets and have gone back to the company’s grassroots efforts. They provide seminars, attend local events and business expos, are active members of the Chambers of Commerce, and have become more attentive to the company’s Web site. The company is also continuing to embrace new media. “We’ve been very conscious of the Web 2.0 revolution,” Gee says. It has made itself familiar with e-mail and text-messaging solutions, social-media strategies, and search-engine optimization. Despite encountering challenges during the summer of 2008 and in 2009, the company’s greatest success has been the ability to maintain profits and most of its staff, as well as growing a number of opportunities, Gee says. “We’ve seen a number of new clientele over the last couple of years as we worked to either replace those who’ve gone out of business or have just cut back,” he explains.
merchandise: Hired to brand and publicize Ogden Marriott’s grand reopening event, Forthgear work included a specially branded and produced “Ogden’s Own” root-beer bottle.
As Forthgear plans for the future, its goals and objectives are to beef up staff, to strengthen its position within the industry, and to continue its expertise in helping clients and customers understand and develop their brands. And in doing so, Gee hopes to continue changing the lives of his company’s clients in a positive and productive way. [P]
A message from Impact Enterprises Forthgear, a highly regarded marketing and design firm, has a client base that demands quality and unique products. Impact Enterprises manufactures product and information packaging and has long been recognized as a quality branding partner. Impact’s refusal to conform to industry standards has stirred adventure, creativity, and excitement into the product-packaging industry.
WEB: During its 10-year relationship with international auto-parts maker Denso, Forthgear has helped develop the company’s print/online newsletters and Website, along with other `communication materials.
installation: Original logo identity and a mall kiosk are some of the projects Forthgear has produced for EdSoup, an Internet service that matches students to prospective colleges.
Complete Development and Design Engineers reinvent friendship and expand R&D services by Laura Williams-Tracy
hen most business partners talk numbers, they usually focus on revenue and expenses. However, Scott Dennis and Alex Kunczynski, the founding partners of D&K Engineering, prefer to compare their personal best times for running marathons, just one of the pursuits the college buddies share in addition to their booming product-development company. “Alone, this would be a lot less fun,” says Kunczynski, president of D&K Engineering. “There’s no way we could have accomplished what we’ve done in the past 10 years by ourselves.” Based in San Diego, D&K Engineering has grown from a small company designing electro-mechanical devices to a full-service, global R&D and manufacturing company. Today, the company can deliver all aspects of product development from the spark of an idea to a finished product. Dennis and Kunczynski met in the mid-1990s, when both were earning master’s degrees in
Services D&K Engineering is an equipment and product development partner for companies seeking to outsource the design and/or manufacturing of their products. D&K provides a full spectrum of engineering and manufacturing services spanning development phases ranging from requirements gathering to continuous production and support.
mechanical engineering at Stanford University. They partnered on school projects and found that they worked well together. “That particular grad program was a compressed, high-intensity program,” says Dennis, CEO. “We did all of our work together.” Yet the pair never dreamed of starting a company together. When graduation day came, each pursued separate careers. But four years later, both men were working for printing-giant Hewlett Packard and rekindled the friendship. “One of our jobs at HP was to find companies that did what D&K does today,” to help HP develop new products, Dennis says. With opportunity knocking, the pair set out on their own in 1999. “We had the ambition of building a great company and great organization,” Kunczynski says. “We had the notion to hire people smarter than us for the purpose of building a long-term organization.” In 2000, D&K Engineering opened a small research office, and by 2003, the company had added manufacturing operations to its multidisciplinary engineering services.
ALEX KUNCZYNSKI & SCOTT DENNIS, PRESIDENT & CEO OF D&K ENGINEERING As co-founder and CEO of D&K Engineering, Scott Dennis provides the strategic direction to the engineering and manufacturing-services firm. As cofounder and president of the firm, Alex Kunczynski is responsible for the business strategy, go-to-market initiatives and revenue growth for D&K Engineering. Dennis and Kunczynski have been partners and friends for over a decade, and that relationship has allowed the firm to grow to its maximum potential. “Alone, this would be a lot less fun,” Kunczynski says. “There’s no way we could have accomplished what we’ve done in past 10 years by ourselves.”
The company was on a steady growth pattern until 2005, when a major client relationship turned difficult, leaving D&K Engineering with inventory and debt to suppliers. But despite advice to the contrary, Dennis and Kunczynski committed to pay back each supplier. “I’m proud of the fact that we made that decision and overcame it,” Kunczynski says. “Today, we are a financially strong company and just had a record year in 2009.” During those stressful times, the men took up distance running as a way to handle the pressures of sustaining a business, and they often trained together. “Exercising was a very simple and rewarding thing compared to what we were doing at work,” Dennis says.
economy. And since revenue grew substantially in each of the last three years, the company is targeting 30 percent growth for 2010. A full 72 percent of D&K Engineering’s business comes from referral clients, a testament to the fact that 90 percent of all commercial and consumer products that D&K Engineering has designed have gone to market. Today, the company has 450 employees worldwide, with 150 based at its San Diego headquarters. Clients include the US Navy, 3D Systems, Calloway Golf, Kodak, Illumina, CurtisWright, and Delta Design, as well as several large startup organizations.
Type of company
research & development: D&K’s engineering and manufacturing facility in San Diego.
The company survived the difficult times and found new opportunities. “We have always had pressure to “We have been tested. There have been good times produce products in lower-cost regions,” Dennis says. and occasional blips,” Kunczynski says. “Each situaIn 2007, the company opened subsidiary DKE Preci- tion is a test of character, values and patience. We’re lucky we’ve weathered those times extremely well.” sion Engineering, headquartered in Singapore. DKE Precision is a joint venture with Encus International, Dennis adds, “The idea of starting and building a company often gets over-glamorized. You have to a successful Asian ODM. Expanding manufacturlove every part of the journey—the highs and the ing operations to Singapore and China allowed the lows. If you don’t, you will never make it.” [P] company to experience significant growth in a down
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intelligroup Provides all-in-one solutions by Laura Williams-Tracy
or Princeton, New Jersey-based Intelligroup Inc., coordinating the complex functions of a business to work together is a critical mission. Take, for example, the complex work of a global life-sciences clinical-research organization that conducts clinical trials. In order to manage the trials for drugs bound for the market, the company needs a way to track the intricate facets of placebos, patients, and doses. Fortunately, simplification is the strong suit of Intelligroup, an information-technology company primarily focused on enterprise-resource planning. Since it became a publicly traded company in 1996, Intelligroup has grown to be a global provider of services, implementing and customizing ERP systems that allow companies to cull relevant information from varied business units into valuable business data.
“It’s a very complex system,” says Vikram Gulati, president and CEO of Intelligroup. “This applicationsoftware package can make it a seamless process.” Companies with many moving parts benefit from a system that manages all of the business information from a shared data source. “Once the customer has bought the ERP software, we help them implement it and manage it,” Gulati continues. “Each company has their own business processes and unique management system. We help customers to customize the product out of the box to their needs.” Over time, Intelligroup has expanded its abilities from consulting with SAP users to those working with Oracle and Microsoft platforms. Intelligroup’s
“Each company has their own business processes and unique management system. We help customers to customize the product out of the box to their needs.” Vikram Gulati, President & CEO
deep expertise and proprietary tools in industryspecific enterprise solutions has been recognized repeatedly within the industry for its ERP expertise. In 2009, Intelligroup received the Supply Chain Technology Excellence Award from the US-based Supply Chain Council, and was named among the 50 Best-Managed Global Outsourcing Firms by the Black Book of Outsourcing. In 2007, and again in 2009, Intelligroup received SAP’s Pinnacle Award for excellence in ERP and an Honorable Mention in the Oracle Titan awards. “The Pinnacle Award is the 800-pound gorilla in our business,” Gulati says. “It demonstrates that we are making substantial contributions to this industry and that we are fine-tuned to what SAP is doing.” With its increasing expertise, the company has grown geographically as well. A decade ago, Intelligroup was primarily focused on the East Coast, but today it has a greater number of employees on the West Coast. Most impressively, perhaps, is its number of locations worldwide, with offices in California, Chicago, Seattle, the United Kingdom, Canada, Japan, the Middle East, Denmark, and two offices in India—Bangalore and Hyderabad. Of the company’s 2,000 employees, about 500 are in the United States, selling and consulting with clients, while the balance work from Intelligroup’s delivery centers in India, Japan, Europe,
Services Intelligroup’s services are broad-based and include business process improvement, analytical services, ERP implementations, E-business solutions, upgrades, testing, application management, and infrastructure support. Specialties include • Enterprise architecture/ SOA • ERP services • Implementation services • Upgrade services • Application management services • Global rollout services • System performance optimization services • Global trade services • Infrastructure management • Testing services • Basel II services
and the Middle East. And the growth has benefited the company in various areas of specialty. Today, about 70 percent of Intelligroup’s business is focused on clients in life sciences, consumer products, high tech, and manufacturing. All need real-time ways to track their products to comply with safety standards. Intelligroup’s diverse group of clients include Hitachi, Monsanto, Fender Musical, NCH, and Eastman Chemical. But as market pressures drive businesses to function in real time, businesses increasingly want to use smart technology to streamline their functions and gather data relevant to business decisions. That environment has propelled Intelligroup to increasingly offer offshore ERP solutions to companies that, Gulati says, can save as much as 50 to 60 percent on ERP customization with an offshore vendor. Intelligroup has made major investments in this new methodology to allow the company to provide more services remotely, and the trend is catching on. “Independent audits have shown our customers that our remote processes are mature,” Gulati says. “Traditionally ERP has not tended to be offshore. However, the prevailing attitude in business is that people want to get more done with less. The offshore model lets them extend their IT dollars without introducing more risk or compromising quality.” [P]
Vikram Gulati, president and ceo Vikram Gulati has served as the CEO and president of Intelligroup since April 2005. He has now spent more than 20 years in various roles in the IT industry. Prior to Intelligroup, Mr. Gulati served as the head of Wipro’s global Enterprise Application Solutions Group, where he was responsible for growing Wipro’s worldwide ERP practice from $20 million in revenue to $160 million in revenue over a four-year period. Gulati currently serves on the board of directors of Intelligroup, including all international subsidiaries of the company.
alliance 54 tutton insurance 56 knight facilities 59 epoch films 62 attic 64 interactive solutions 67 ampro 70 Mobile Insurance Agency of Texas 72 pearl insurance 74 ICC
Security in the Workplace Bill tutton fosters employee education and comapny success by Sheena Harrison
or Bill Tutton, selling insurance is about more than providing coverage that can protect customers from life’s emergencies. As the owner and president of Tutton Insurance Services, Inc., Tutton believes insurance is about building rapport with customers and companies who trust the safety of their assets to his firm. “It’s a business that revolves around trust. You have to trust that your agent is knowledgeable and is not selling you too much insurance or too little,” says Tutton, whose agency sells general liability, commercial property, fleet auto, and
workers’ compensation insurance, as well as group health benefits and 401(k) plans. Building trust with customers has been key to Tutton’s career, even before he entered the insurance industry in 1982. Tutton, who flies planes in his spare time, previously worked as an aviation instructor. In fact, it was one of Tutton’s flight students—Bob Whalen of R.T. Whalen Insurance Co. in South Carolina—who gave Tutton his start in the insurance industry by offering him a job.
REVENUE & EMPLOYment growth
Tutton Insurance is a growing company, steadily achieving an annual 15 – 20 percent revenue increase. “We were founded as an independent agency with the intent of becoming larger while maintaining our core focus on quality service,“ says Tutton.
$8.78m $6 million
Tutton Insurance Services, Inc.
skilled staff Tutton Insurance provides exceptional service through an organized, highly skilled staff that identifies the individual needs of each client. Agents are always available to help a client assess their insurance needs, explain the coverage proposal, and even summarize policy endorsements sent by the carrier. Tutton Insurance has grown from a two-person shop in 1988, to more than 50 employees today. The commitment to customer service that Bill Tutton had when he opened that small insurance agency remains today, helping Tutton Insurance maintain a small-company culture inside a thriving organization. “We bend over backwards for our clients,” says Tutton.
Bill Tutton President Diane Harroun Claims Manager
Kate Portfolio Controller Teresa Thomas Marketing Manager
Alan Troop EVP of Sales
Silvia Ortiz CustomerServices Manager
A message from Golden Eagle Golden Eagle’s successful 19-year relationship with Tutton Insurance Services, Inc. is a testament to the dedication of Bill Tutton to integrity and customer service. Since he founded his agency in 1988, he has been a strong contributor to industry and community programs. We would like to congratulate Mr. Tutton for building one of the fastest-growing insurance agencies in the region.
stragety to share
For Tutton, insurance provided him with stable income and a chance to use his people skills— something that allowed Tutton to grow in the ranks of R.T. Whalen. He worked his way up to managing partner of the firm before leaving to found Tutton Insurance in 1988. Starting his own firm has allowed Tutton to build a company that has 53 employees and has been on a steady annual growth track of about 10 percent since it opened. Tutton attributes that growth, in part, to employees who hold his same philosophy of building trust, who take pride in their work, and who are adept at bringing in new business. “We want them to fit into the culture,” Tutton says of his staff. “It’s more than just the revenue.” Tutton Insurance, however, has not been immune to the nation’s recession. Tutton expects 2009 revenues to be flat compared with the previous year, and that’s a good thing since recent reforms to California’s workers’-compensation laws have caused a dramatic decline in insurance rates, and economic pressures have lowered clients’ sales and payroll.
One of the key strategies of Tutton Insurance has been focusing on new business development in order to help the company weather difficult economic times and thrive during expansions. In spite of the current recession, Tutton has been able to increase new business by 15 percent and keep sales relatively steady. “We have a pretty aggressive sales culture at Tutton, so every year we’ve been able to write a significant level of new business,” Tutton says. Tutton is hopeful his company’s top line will begin to grow again since he sees workers’-compensation rates starting to bottom out in California. The national insurance market also appears to be stabilizing. MarketScout, a Dallas-based insurance-industry research firm, reported that insurance rates were declining at a rate of four percent in September 2009, compared with 10 percent the year before. As the insurance industry works to turn itself around, Tutton believes his company is in a position to grow in 2010 through hiring new employees who can bring a strong book of business to Tutton Insurance. “We’re really looking for people who have the ability to produce,” he says. [P]
financial motivation Employees are encouraged to generate business through Tutton’s “Googal” incentive program, which gives employees quarterly cash bonuses for bringing in new customers. The program is extended to all Tutton Insurance employees—even those who don’t work in sales. “Instead of our support people looking at a new account as more work, they look at it as a positive thing,”Tutton says.
Coordinating Business Processes team collaborates on operational solutions by Brigitte Yuille
he Knight Group uses cost-saving strategies to reduce facility-operating budgets for its customers, who consist of members in the automotive industry. Its services consist of building maintenance, grounds maintence, equipment management, janitorial services, and more. As an international company, with offices on the continents of South America, Asia, Australia, and North America, it accumulates nearly $100 million in annual sales. The company’s goal is to meet or exceed customers’ expectations, according to its global vice president of sales and marketing Eric Ackerman. And despite the challenges of the economic downturn, this Saginaw, Michigan-based company, with experience in heavy industrial manufacturing, has been able to grow as the automotive environment has been underseige.
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During the recession, the company focused on the troubles in the automotive market, where it was challenged with transitioning a large number of facilities in a very short period. For instance, it transitioned more than 30 Chrysler facilites in an one-week timeframe across the entire United States, according to Ackerman. “We really think we’re a lifeline for the automotive companies,” he says. In addition, The Knight Group has aggressively transitioned entertainment venues, such as stadiums for Major League Baseball and the National Football League—an area, Ackerman says, that has shown significant growth. It transitioned in excess of 300–400 employees in a 48-hour time period in stadiums meeting extreme deadlines and customer expecta-
Golden Eagle Insurance 525 B Street San Diego, CA 92101 Phone: 619-744-6000 www.goldeneagle-ins.com
GEI-General Business Ad.indd 1
11/30/09 3:57 PM
Knight Facilitites Management
BY THE NUMBERS
1992: company was established • $95 million: sales revenue in 2009 • 22%: sales growth in 2009 • 3,000: employees worldwide • 20–30%: employee growth in 2009
tions. “We’ve been able to replace vendors that went of out business and had financial issues within a very, very short time period,” he says. Ackerman confides that when the Knight Group participates in a new project, it will often hear from companies or customers, “‘We’ve already tried that.’ ‘This won’t work.’ ‘This is as low as we can go and we cannot bring it any lower,” Ackerman says. “We generally don’t take ‘no’ for an answer. We have a proven aggressive approach that’s coupled with a lot of out-of-the box thinking that has not only helped save some businesses but really provided our advanced opportunities for us.” The strategy has paid off. The company has shown positive sales growth and expansion within its primary industry, according to Ackerman; despite the fact that two major customers, Chrysler Corporation and General Motors, went bankrupt. Knight pulled off its success by diversifying outside of the automotive industry and providing solutions for its core base of customers. The company has a broad array of customers, including school systems, municipalities, and the aforementioned stadiums. The key ingredients that have distinguished Knights Facilites Management from its competitors, such as Jones Lang LaSalle and Premier, and launched its success, is the work ethic of the core management group—its unique, specific plan of attack for lowering facilities-related operating costs and selfperforming as many tasks as possible to reduce layers of mark-up and the margins for services. “Our core management group really knows no bounds on their work ethic,” Ackerman explains. “I think its a very intelligent, well-organized group— they’ll put in 150 hours a week to make a project successful.” He adds that the company’s working environment provides “opportunity” that lays the groundwork for success. “We promote from within,” Ackerman continues. “Many of our senior managers come from the trenches. They spend time on the ground floor in heavy industrial plants and stadiums; they learn how to operate under stringent budgets and get the job done without sacrificing service.”
stragety to share
In the winter of 2009, the company’s projects included reducing the operation budget for the Forum Credit Union, a full facilities-management contract with a General Motors facility in Shanghai, new business from General Motors in India, a full facilities-management contract for Holden of Austraila, continuing projects for Chrysler facilities at Delphi in Brookhaven, Mississippi, and its technical center in Henrietta, New York. The company has also started to approache credit unions and banking facilities.
promote from within “Our core management group really knows no bounds on their work ethic. I think its a very intelligent, well-organized group,” explains Ackerman. The working environment provides opportunity that lays the groundwork for success. “Many of our senior managers come from the trenches. They learn how to operate under stringent budgets and get the job done without sacrificing service” .
Knights Facilites Management hopes to expand outside the automotive industry and into government-based military. “We realistically think that we can double the size of the company in the next five years, potentially the next two years,” Ackerman says. “And we want to emerge as a leading supplier in entertainment industrial and nonindustrial facilities management.” [P]
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BY THE NUMBERS
1989: company was founded • 30: employees in 2009 • 18: directors on the roster 3,000+: commercials produced since the company’s inception • 2: feature films
Mindy Goldberg, founder and managing partner.
Jerry Solomon, managing partner.
Managing Commercial Production epoch films’ executives encourage creativity and innovation by Daniel Casciato
fter you’ve been around Mindy Goldberg and Jerry Solomon, two of the managing partners of Epoch Media Group, you can’t help but notice how different their management styles are. While Goldberg is a reactionary leader who thinks on her feet and relies on gut decisions, Solomon is more analytical and careful in his thought process.
tion,” he says. “She’s a gut thinker, and in a business that moves as quickly as ours, it’s a great thing to have. She always follows her instincts.”
“Jerry brings an analytical mind to this line of business,” says Goldberg, the founder of the company and managing partner at Epoch’s New York office. “He’s a cool, calm, collected thinker, always analyzing things. You’ll always get an intelligent response from him.”
Goldberg formed Epoch Films in 1989, with a vision of creating a place for talented young directors to gain access to the otherwise-restricted commercial mainstream. “Production companies are talent-based companies,” she says. “We never poached talent from other companies. Our talent is homegrown. We started everybody’s careers here, and that sets us apart in a big way.” It’s a philosophy that has worked well for her and for Epoch Films. Since then, the company has continued to expand into other opportunities, and in 2008 she restructured the organization and created Epoch Media Group.
Solomon, managing partner at the firm’s LA office, says he has learned a great deal from watching Goldberg since he joined her company in 1991, after working in music-video production and animation production in New York City for several years. “If you observe and watch her, you can learn from observa-
Though the two have very different management styles, they’re very complementary and it is one of the reasons why Epoch Media Group remains a stalwart in the commercial-production industry.
stragety to share
clarify leadership “Our leadership style is a benevolent dictatorship. We’re very open to getting people’s contributions and hearing what they say, but we’re not afraid to make decisions. We don’t scapegoat. We take the responsibility on ourselves.” – Jerry Solomon, Managing Partner, LA Office
A message from Whitehouse Some companies have good character, almost as if they were well brought up. When you partner with a production company like this, it usually means two things: their work is of a high standard and any problems get fixed quickly and without drama. This, in a nutshell, is what it’s like working with Epoch. It is a class act. I hope they are around for another twenty years. – Rick Lawley, Whitehouse
While the company has its roots in commercial production, Epoch has produced two features films over the past few years, Junebug and Gigantic. It also joined forces in partnership with Kirt Gunn & Associates to launch Dandelion, an independent media company dedicated to creating programming and entertainment sponsored by brands. “You have to keep current and always be willing to change your business, especially in our business, which is based on a reflection of culture. Popular culture is always changing and you should not to be afraid of it,” says Goldberg when asked about the company’s ambitious business ventures. “Don’t be fearful and take risks. We jumped into things that we necessarily didn’t have experience in, such as getting into feature films.”
makers and producers,” Goldberg says. “We just do it in a short form.” One of Epoch’s directors, and now a partner with the company, Phil Morrison, had worked with Epoch for 11 years and came to Goldberg and Solomon with a script for Junebug. “I liked the script and trusted Phil,” Goldberg says. “We decided that this would be a great next step to do together. We put the film together using our production relationships from the commercial business and raised the equity ourselves. We took a risk and it paid off.”
While Epoch is competing in a crowded field, Solomon says that Epoch’s subtle difference is the culture that it has in place. “We teach our people the production business and pass along our knowledge and experience to them,” he says. “As the media Epoch Films’ venerable track record in commercial production and beyond assures its long-term position landscape has changed, we are always innovating our amongst the industry’s top ranks. Getting into feature business model. We’re not just sitting on our laurels. And I think that’s why we have been able to maintain films was a natural segue for Epoch, because the a top-tier company for so long.” [P] company represents directing talent. “We are film-
EPOCH’S EMPLOYEES “Our talent is homegrown. We started everybody’s careers here, and that sets us apart in a big way,” says Mindy Goldman, founder.
Charlie Cocuzza Executive Producer
Jeff Preiss Managing Partner & Director
Tara Averill Head of Sales & Development, East Coast
Mal Ward Head of Sales & Development, West Coast
Megan Murphee LA Staff Production Manager
riSK and inSurance
ServiceS Specialty Insurance Services
Company Formation and Operations Insurance and Alternative Risk Consulting Government Affairs and Regulatory Assistance
Congratulations to ATTIC on a job well done. It is a pleasure working with you.
(800) 367-2577 www.alpsnet.com
Managing risk today is an increasingly complex, yet essential task. At EWI, we work with transportation clients to analyze, design and implement risk solutions tailored to their specific needs. Our straightforward, all inclusive risk solutions include captive insurance company and risk retention group formations, insurance, reinsurance, and advisory services such as safety and site related risk management audits. We understand risk. Itâ€™s who we are. Itâ€™s what we do.
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stay on your toes “The company model is efficient use of premium dollars, communication, and service,” Crippen says. “With two employees and an independent contractor to start with, we had to teach ourselves much of what we do. Our staff of four employees today does an excellent job in their area of responsibility and are very reactive to the needs of our insureds.”
A message from ALPS Risk & Insurance, Inc. ALPS Risk & Insurance Services, Inc. (ARIS) has considered ATTIC its flagship client since 2002. For the last seven years, ARIS has delivered quality accounting and regulatory assistance to ATTIC. ARIS’s sister corporation, Peak Investment Management, Ltd., has assisted ATTIC since 2003 with investment-management services. ALPS Corporation subsidiaries ARIS and Peak are proud to have been partners with ATTIC since its inception. ARIS and Peak applaud ATTIC’s hard-earned and well-deserved accomplishments.
American Trucking and Transportation Insurance Company
Paving the Road Ahead Attic creates unique members-only risk-retention group by Chris Allsop
and “an incredible learning experience” following the merican Trucking and Transportation Insurance Company (ATTIC) is a Montana- initial investment. based, captive risk-retention group. It “ATTIC is a group captive; meaning that no single specialises in liability insurance for the trucking companies that make up its membership—the first insured is segregated from the other insureds—if one company has a bad year, the entire captive is there of its kind to exist. to protect against that,” Crippen explains. “To my knowledge, there has never been an insurance group The company was formed in 2002, after an already like this in the industry before, and we had to draft a hard insurance market solidified following 9/11. lot of our own programs and procedures in order to This eventuality was the catalyst for the formalcreate a successful foundation.” izing of the captive risk-retention concept; an idea formed as a way of alleviating the financial By August of the same year, after ATTIC had conchallenges trucking companies like Watkins and vinced a group of insurers to take a chance on the Shepard Trucking, of Missoula, Montana, were concept, the company wrote its first policy. Seven experiencing as a consequence.
“To my knowledge, there has never been an insurance group like this in the industry before, and we had to draft a lot of our own programs and procedures in order to create a successful foundation.” Ken Crippen, CEO years later, ATTIC’s company surplus has multiplied sixfold, and the company now insures 3,000 trucks for liability insurance nationwide.
ATTIC CEO Ken Crippen (at the time, Watkins and Shepard’s in-house counsel) began by pitching the ATTIC concept to 16 other mid-large trucking companies. Crippen explains that, while there was a certain amount of difficulty in convincing competitors to come onboard with one another, “all it took was to find trucking companies that were going through the same sort of issues we were. And we did: six companies agreed to come onboard and capitalize the necessary feasibility study.”
Each of the five member companies that make up the group has a representative on ATTIC’s board of directors, and the trucking companies themselves own 100 percent of the business. This model ensures a high level of customer service, since both insurer and the interests of the insureds are shared.
The ATTIC model involved the breaking of new ground in the trucking-insurance field, and Crippen describes the subsequent six months as “trial by fire”
Crippen explains that customer service is broken down into two primary areas: safety and risk management, and claims. In the first instance, ATTIC is
active in detailed inspections, recommends changes when necessary, pats members on the back when things are going well, and holds an annual conference on safety. From a claims perspective, ATTIC manages each and every claim for its members, by communicating closely as the claims process proceeds. “We know our insureds’ businesses, know their customers very well, know their needs, and can service those needs much better than a traditional insurance arrangement,” Crippen explains. Another departure from a traditional insurance relationship is the returning of dividends to its member companies, which ATTIC did for the first time in
BY THE NUMBERS
August of last year. (The members decided, early on, that all of the profits generated in the first seven years were to be reinvested in ATTIC.) Crippen explains that the future for ATTIC is growth, with an eventual target of between 10 and 15 members. “We can meet our target size if the insurance market changes,” he says. “Over the last three plus years, the insurance market has been extremely soft, making it difficult to compete with the large insurers. But in that time we’ve grown our surplus and stuck to our corporate mission. We have been patient over the last three years, and it’ll pay off.” [P]
small staff provides impressive results: (Left to right) Richard Puntenney, vice president of claims; Jesse Elison, claims counsel; Tricia Maloney, controller and treasurer; Ken Crippen, president and CEO.
16: companies ATTIC originally pitched to be members • 5: companies currently with ATTIC 3,000: trucks insured by ATTIC • 4: employees
Interactive Solutions, Inc.
CEO Takes Start-Up to the Next Level Jay Myers discusses his ongoing search for a talented team by Brigitte Yuille
nteractive Solutions, Inc. (ISI) has experienced dramatic growth since it was founded in 1996, but it has been the lessons learned from difficult and terrifying obstacles faced by founder and CEO Jay B. Myers that has aided its success. Myers worked for nearly 20 years in sales for international corporate companies, such as Eastman Kodak and Hewlett Packard. On December 8, 1995—his 39th birthday—Myers was fired from his job. “My back was against the wall, and I was forced to be an entrepreneur,” he says. And so, he decided to start ISI—his own video-teleconferencing technology company in Memphis, Tennessee. Distance learning was Myers’ original focus for ISI, because he had gathered years of experience in this area at a previous job. However, he realized rural areas not only needed access to education but healthcare. He incorporated a new application into his business: telemedicine.
“Ten years ago, telemedicine was less than five percent of my business,” Myers recalls. Now, it comprises almost 40 percent. In fact, the company has become one of the largest providers of telemedicine. This technology is present in more than 200 networks with about 3,500 sites and more than one million remote monitoring units, according to the American Telemedicine Association. It uses remote reads of medical images, live video consultations, and distant monitoring of vital signs.
Jay B. Myers, founder and CEO.
This technology, for instance, allows a medical specialist at a hospital or clinic in a major city to diagnose and make recommendations using high-resolution cameras, monitors, and medical records for a patient in a room of doctors and nurse practitioners in a rural area or small town. ISI excels in providing the application because of the strong product design, engineering support, and the company’s customer service—helping to dif-
Interactive Solutions, Inc.
“This is a business that you have to really have a lot of training to do well, and you’ve got to really be quick on your feet with technical solutions.”
The company uses TechExcel to handle its customer service; the technology tracks tickets for customerservice issues, but ISI also uses it as a means to act on preventative measures. “We’re obsessive about the way we approach customer service,” Myers says, adding that time is spent on providing a quality solution, as opposed to simply selling the hardware. “We don’t want systems being sold to customers that are not going to work efficiently for a long time.” This attentiveness to the customer helps to explain the reason why 65–75 percent of ISI’s business is repeat. ISI’s 500-some clients are in the public and private sectors. Telemedicine is primarily used for its healthcare markets, and the company markets its videoconferencing products to state government and mid- to large-sized companies. The distance-learning area of the business is also focused on colleges and universities, such as the University of Memphis, the University of Tennessee, Roane State Community College, and Lincoln Memorial University. As Myers worked to get the business “off the ground,” he encountered many obstacles, such as a bout with cancer, buying out a business partner, and having an accounting manager put his business in jeopardy by stealing a quarter of a million dollars. Through it all, though, he prevailed. Myers decided to write a book to help other entrepreneurs stay encouraged amid the challenges faced with starting a business. He describes the book, Keep Swinging: An Entrepreneur’s Story of Overcoming Adversity and Achieving Small Business Success, as very personal, and similar to a memoir. In it, he advises entrepreneurs to know the business they are getting involved in, and ask those who’ve been successful, “How did you do it?” Despite the setbacks, the company has continuously been acknowledged for its success and growth.
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Find the right sales team
Jay B. Myers, CEO ferentiate the company from competitors, such as AT&T, Verizon, and British Telecom.
In 2009, Inc. magazine acknowledged ISI with its second ranking among the fastest-growing private companies in the country. The Inc. 5,000 recognizes entrepreneurial companies that could become the next Google, IBM, or AT&T. ISI was also named to the Inc. 500 list in years 2001 and 2003, as well as the Inc. 5,000 list in 2007. ISI now has offices in Nashville, Knoxville, and Chattanooga, Tennessee; Birmingham, Alabama; Oxford, Mississippi; and Little Rock, Arkansas. And with 2009 at approximately $15 million, it had an annual growth rate of five percent between 2008 and 2009. Most astounding in 2008, Myers found, was the 30-percent increase from the company’s 2007 sales with a sales team that was 75-percent new. “This is a business that you have to really have a lot of training to do well, and you’ve got to really be quick on your feet with technical solutions,” he explains. “It was really gratifying to see the brand-new sales team. I hired four new people, and these guys came in the last quarter of 2007 with very little experience and increased revenue 30 percent the next year.” ISI wasn’t without its challenges during the slow economy. The issues resulted in ISI diversifying into the federal government, and expanding telemedicine sales, as well as its national-account marketing. In addition, the company’s recent strategies include new collaboration tools—such as Sharepoint—and a few products including podcasting, NICU camera systems, telementoring, and new digital-signage technology. Current projects include smart classrooms and telestroke/telemedicine applications.
“This is a business that you have to really have a lot of training to do well, and you’ve got to really be quick on your feet with technical solutions,” Myers explains. “It was really gratifying to see the brand-new sales team. I hired four new people, and these guys came in the last quarter of 2007 with very little experience and increased revenue 30 percent the next year.”
SALES REVENUE The following shows Interactive Solutions’ sales revenue for the past five years. $15m $15 million $12 $9 $6
As for the future of ISI, Myers has big plans. He foresees continued success with the company’s customer retention and expanding the telemedicine area of the business nationwide, with a growth path to $20 million in sales in the next three years. And if his experiences have taught him anything, Myers has no reason to doubt ISI can achieve those feats. [P]
I N T E R A C T I V E
S O L U T I O N S
• Consulting • Network development • Network management • Sales • Hardware support • Training services
• Room design and engineering • Video room rentals for the public • Multipoint bridging for audio and video
Communication Is Everything.
Don’t forget to pick up a copy of KEEP SWINGING: An Entrepreneur’s Story of Overcoming Adversity and Achieving Small Business Success By Jay Myers with Darren Dahl At at www.amazon.com or www.barnesandnoble.com
Find out more at www.isitn.com Or call us toll-free at 888.290.8264
Authorized Partner www.tandberg.com
AmPro Orthotics & Prosthetics, Inc.
Turning Compassion Into Profit karen jarvis leads benevolent venture by example by Sheena Harrison
aren Jarvis has turned AmPro Orthotics & Prosthetics, Inc. into a thriving business that is poised for growth and expansion. But while the company’s success is important to Jarvis, AmPro’s top priority is improving the quality of life for people who need its services, as well as the employees who provide those services. “We’re in the business to help others,” Jarvis says. “Each and every one of us here is proud of that.”
AmPro was founded in 1980, and provides a variety of custom-made prosthetic limbs and orthotic devices. Many of AmPro’s products help to restore mobility for people who have lost limbs, including war veterans and people dealing with diseases such as diabetes and cancer. Jarvis feels her company provides a crucial medical service for the people it serves. “Our patients may come here in a wheelchair, but they leave here walking,” she says. Jarvis bought AmPro from its previous owners in 2005. At that time, the company had about $1.2 million in annual sales. “Being that it’s an industry in which I have 20 years experience, I thought it was a good fit,” says Jarvis, who worked at AmPro for a year before acquiring the business. By evaluating the company’s costs and potential growth areas, Jarvis was able to build the business to about $2 million in annual sales. In addition, AmPro’s growth has created a need for the company to expand its offices, so AmPro is moving out of its 5,000-square-foot headquarters in Las Vegas, and into a newer 11,000-square-foot building that Jarvis bought last year. Much of AmPro’s growth occurred because Jarvis decided to market AmPro more aggressively to doctors, surgeons, and physical therapists in the Las Vegas area who previously did not know about AmPro. “We let them know we’re basically part of the team of helping them take care of that patient,” Jarvis says. Jarvis also focused on expanding the company’s
“I see AmPro as more of a big family. I have a responsibility, as the owner, to make sure this business functions and is profitable long into the future. But I also want my employees to enjoy their environment and like coming here.” Karen Jarvis, Owner
AmPro Orthotics & Prosthetics, Inc.
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keep employees happy Employee perks include a bonus program for employees who contribute to achieving AmPro’s sales goals, and company outings that foster a team spirit among AmPro workers. Jarvis included a fitness center in AmPro’s new office so employees and their families can exercise using state-of-the-art equipment.
market by growing its geographic reach. AmPro had one location in Las Vegas five years ago. Now, the company has a second Las Vegas office, another in Pahrump, Nevada, and a mobile unit that travels to prosthetic patients who can’t drive to AmPro’s offices. “I thought there was a need to have better coverage, because we have patients driving from all over the city,” Jarvis says of her decision to expand AmPro. Jarvis has instilled an atmosphere of trust with patients that that has helped contribute to AmPro’s success. The company is certified by the American Board for Certification in Orthotics and Prosthetics, and is also a member of the American Orthotic and Prosthetic Association, which speaks to the company’s credibility. But it is often the personal connections at AmPro that help patients trust the company. All of the prosthetists who work for AmPro are amputees—a quality that helps AmPro’s staff relate to the concerns and questions that patients may have about using prosthetics. “The patient has really made the choice to come to AmPro because the prosthetist that’s helping them use the prosthetic is also using a prosthetic,” Jarvis explains. According to Jarvis, AmPro’s employees play a crucial role in the company’s success, whether they work in patient care or in AmPro’s front office. “I see AmPro as more of a big family,” she says. “I have a responsibility, as the owner, to make sure this business functions and is profitable long into the future. But I also want my employees to enjoy their environment and like coming here.” Employee perks include a bonus program for those who contribute to achieving AmPro’s sales goals, and company outings that foster a team spirit. Jarvis included a fitness center in AmPro’s new offices so employees and their families can exercise using state-of-the-art equipment. At times, Jarvis has gone above and beyond typical employee-appreciation methods. She gives additional time off for employees who are dealing with medical conditions that require regular doctor appointments. And, as a benefit to employees who are amputees, she pays to repair or replace prosthetic limbs when necessary. She has even purchased cars for some employees who previously had unreliable
BY THE NUMBERS
personally invested: Jeremy Brooks, boardcertified prosthetist, pictured with his daughter.
transportation and helped other employees to buy homes in safer areas of town. Jarvis believes that showing exceptional appreciation will help bolster AmPro’s success by making the company a place where employees are happy to come to work. “As long as they pull together and work as a team to take care of the customer and meet the company goals, I’m happy,” Jarvis says. [P]
1980: AmPro was founded • 2005: AmPro was acquired by Karen Jarvis • $2 million: AmPro sales in 2009 100: vendors that AmPro works with • 15: employees
Orthotics Orthotics & & Prosthetics, Prosthetics, Inc. Inc.
Our full service company provides prosthetic services for lower and
We are dedicated to our patients and strive to provide unsurpassed service to all of our customers and referral sources.
upper extremity amputees of all ages and abilities.
We provide all orthotic services, custom fabricated and quality off the shelf braces, including upper and lower extremity, pediatric, cranial remolding, spinal orthoses, and compression therapy.
AmPro Orthotics & Prosthetics, Inc. was founded over 30 years ago, and is locally owned and operated.
Las Vegas Locations: 2100 South Eastern Avenue & 7200 Cathedral Rock Dr, #200 Pahrump Location: 921 South Hwy 160 #203
ALPS is a proud vendor of AmPro Orthotics & Prosthetics. Together we are striving toward a common goal of offering our patients the best service and quality. MAKING LIVES BETTER www.easyliner.com
Mobile Insurance, Solid Employment Kurt Kelley shares how he keeps employees motivated and focused by Daniel Casciato
hen he’s searching for that perfect candidate to join his commercial specialty insurance agency, Kurt Kelley won’t place insurance experience at the top of his checklist. Instead, Kelley places a heavy emphasis on a person’s diligent work ethic, willingness to learn, customerservice skills, and an ability to multitask—traits that employees either have or they don’t.
“I have a five-step screening process, from the original résumé review to the initial interviews, looking for personality traits that we think are going to fit, to online sophisticated attribute testing from professional employee-screening services to background checks to final interviews,” says Kelley, president and owner of Mobile Insurance Agency of Texas, which specializes in mobile homes and marine insurance. “We look for ability, talent, and aptitude much more so than insurance knowledge. It’s my philosophy that we can teach you insurance. We can’t teach you how to give great customer service or have a great personality—you just can’t teach someone how to be a professional service provider or salesperson.”
Kurt Kelley, president and owner.
has proved to be beneficial to his business today. “Law has been great because insurance is basically contract law,” he says. “We’re selling contracts, so I understand the legal issues that our clients face. If my clients get sued, I understand and can explain the process to them and what to expect and they really appreciate it. We have a number of business owners who primarily do business with us because they can confidently call me and get direction.” A family business since 1992, Mobile Insurance emerged from a GE spin-off more than 17 years ago. Kelley’s step-father, Lee, and his mother, Kay Stine, started Mobile Insurance and passed the reins to Kelley in 1998. Since then, Kelley has taken the reins, expanding the agency’s offering of commercial and personal insurance products with the addition of apartment complex, marine, and health insurance.
Kelley himself comes from a sales background. Having graduated with a BS in business from the University of Colorado in 1987, Kelley’s educational focus was marketing. Having grown up around a familyKelley credits his employees for the company’s owned jewelry business, Kelley developed a knack for success. “We treat them uniquely when they get sales early on. Later, he pursued a law degree, which here,” he says. “We have some real unique ways of
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follow your gut “We look for ability, talent, and aptitude much more so than insurance knowledge. It’s my philosophy that we can teach you insurance. We can’t teach you how to give great customer service or have a great personality. You just can’t teach someone how to be a professional service provider or salesperson.”
BY THE NUMBERS
8: product lines • $1.8 million: revenue in 2009 • 15: employees in 2009 2: offices (Woodland, TX and San Antonio, TX)
compensation. For instance, we have semiannual bonuses that account for 15–20 percent of their salaries, related to their performance and the performance of the company.” Kelley is also proud of the company’s retirement savings plan. “It’s a 15-percent plan, so for every dollar they make, we put in 15 cents in addition to that dollar to their own personal long-term retirement account,” he says. “If we have an employee who started out with us at 30 years old with a salary around the mid-’40s, they’ll probably retire with somewhere in the upper six figures to a million dollars in the bank.” Because of its unique compensation structure, the company has had very little employee turnover. “Because of our specialty insurance work,” he says, “it takes a while to train someone, and it’s important that we don’t have turnover.” The company also starts employees off with two weeks of paid vacation, plus eight additional personal days that are designed to make their lives easier. From a marketing standpoint, Kelley’s advice to
other business executives is to stay involved in your industry and be prevalent. “In the insurance we specialize in, we’re prevalent—people see our names over and over again,” he says. “We get really involved in the mobile-home and marine industries. We are constantly at industry trade events. We sponsor events and we speak at conferences.”
sharing responsibility: Senior Account Managers Gloria Theriault, Christina Cranston, and Karie Martin collaborate on underwriting information from a new account.
Kelley says there is never a dull moment at Mobile Insurance. “I enjoy the diversity,” he says. “I’m a manager one day, an accountant the next, a lawyer the next, a sales rep another day. We’re a great place to work and that’s the key. We treat our people with respect and give them ownership in their jobs, and that pays off to me in spades. They’re happy employees, and they take very good care of our customers.” That philosophy reminds Kelley of what his father said about customers. “He said that you have to treat your customers like they are important,” Kelley says. “We lose very few due to service issues. If you make a mistake, fix it. Your best customers are the ones you made a mistake with and you came back to fix it. They’ll keep coming back because they know you’ll save them when they need it.” [P]
Direct Marketing Triples Revenue Father-son team diversifies pearl companies Illinois. To support those businesses, Pearl Companies operates an award-winning in-house marketing team and offers unique benefits to recruit and retain employees, including a free company fitness center.
by Laura Williams-Tracy
generation ago, Jack Pearl used marketing savvy to hook customers and build Pearl Insurance, based in Peoria Heights, Illinois, into a regional power. Today, Jack’s son Gary has assembled an experienced leadership team to use innovative marketing techniques and technical know-how to expand the business threefold, turning Pearl Companies into a truly diversified organization. “We are now more of a sales- and marketing-focused organization that leverages my dad’s keen aptitude for creating lasting relationships,” Gary says.
Pearl Companies includes Pearl Insurance, an insurance broker and third-party administrator focusing on professional liability, life and disability, and other insurance products for professional associations that reaches customers across the nation. The insurance company has expanded to include Pearl Carroll, which specializes in providing personal insurance products for union members through payroll deduction. Pearl Companies also owns Pearl Technology, a practiceoriented team of professionals who provide advanced networking-application development, IT security, Microsoft solutions, and IT-managed services to other businesses throughout the Midwest. In addition, Pearl Companies owns and operates Pearl Automotive, which includes 10 automotive dealerships in central
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updatE infrastructure Gary Pearl rebuilt corporate-legacy systems and infrastructure that were aging and unable to provide the platform for accelerated growth of the organization. “That new infrastructure allowed us to bring in some substantial accounts that are largely responsible for our significant growth,” Gary says.
The organization has come a long way since 1954, when Jack Pearl left another insurance company to start his own brokerage. Surrounded by farm country, Pearl saw those businessmen as his best bet for growing a customer base. Using a marketing savvy ahead of its time, Jack would call on farmers by first leaving a large, glossy picture of himself in their mailboxes. When he returned days later to make the sale and the farmers commented that he looked familiar, he would announce that he was Jack Pearl, their friendly insurance agent. Jack’s first products were life and disability insurance, which were soon followed by other insurance products. His father-in-law was the Illinois attorney general, a connection that opened the door for him to pitch lifeand disability-insurance policies to Illinois state bar members through direct-mail mass marketing, a new concept at the time that positioned Jack as a pioneer in the insurance direct-marketing business. Gary Pearl remembers his father talking about the significant response that first marketing strategy achieved. “There would be mail trays full of checks and applications coming back from members,” Gary says. “They could hardly wait to send out the next mailing.”
pearl insurance EMPLOYEES Pearl uses the latest in technology to deliver prompt, efficient, and accurate service. “We earn customer loyalty by working hard, working smart, and working together. That’s our mission and the focus of our business every day.”
Gary Pearl CEO
Greggory S. Ketay Executive Vice President
Dennis E. Dietrich CFO
Lori L. Johnson CIO
Michael E. Murphy Executive Vice President
BY THE NUMBERS
1994: company was founded • 500: employees 37: state realtor associations that endorse Pearl Insurance
Today, Pearl has transitioned to a more diverse and integrated, multichannel marketing platform. Garnering a mass of attorneys as customers positioned Pearl to offer malpractice insurance, which is today the largest part of Pearl Insurance’s business, with clients in the fields of law, medicine, accounting, architecture, engineering, and real estate. Pearl Insurance now represents almost 100 professional associations and unions throughout the United States. Pearl Companies’ success is rooted in the clientbuilding skills of Jack, a tenacious entrepreneur and salesman, and is bolstered by the technical, organization-building skills of Gary, who became CEO in 1998 and has since tripled revenue. The middle of six children, he demonstrated an ardent interest in the family enterprise. Gary Pearl learned the insurance business just after college in a sales job with a commercial-underwriting and then sales position with insurance giant CIGNA. Gary joined Pearl’s Richmond, Virginia, office as director of sales for the East Coast before becoming CEO. Gary first focused on returning to the two core segments on which his father founded the company: affinity-association life and disability insurance and professional liability insurance. He also rebuilt corporate-legacy systems and infrastructure that were aging and unable to provide the platform
for accelerated growth of the organization. “That new infrastructure allowed us to bring in some substantial accounts that are largely responsible for our significant growth,” Gary says. The affinity-association business continues to grow. Pearl Insurance recently won an account with the American Society of Civil Engineers, the largest account in the history of the company, as well as the American Chemical Society, the New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants, and others. In addition, Pearl is the largest writer of lawyers’ professional-liability insurance in the central United States. The company leads in product development in response to customer demand. “We’ve been able to build a nimble and flexible company—one that isn’t beholden to analysts and shareholders before customers,” Gary says. “Our main priority is to think of the customer first; we are not handcuffed by bureaucratic red tape and approval processes.” [P]
A message from American General Life Affinity Benefit Solutions, a dedicated business within American General Life Companies, is proud to partner with Pearl Insurance to provide customized insurance programs that meet the unique needs of the affinity insurance marketplace. Pearl Insurance, a top ranked third-party administrator and direct marketer of affinity-insurance programs, has a track record of growth and success, a testament to why putting the customer first is their guiding principle. Our relationship is built on mutual respect, teamwork and a spirit of collaboration to produce best-in-class results for their clients. Together, American General and Pearl are focused on delivering innovative product solutions and exceptional customer service.
Insurance | Technology | Automotive 800.447.4982 www.pearlcompanies.com
A Reimagined Business Partnership Direct and successful leadership grows consultinG firm by Christopher Cussat stragety to share
you can’t do it alone “While I have worked diligently for 22 years at ICC, our success is a real team effort. Maintaining solid, long-term business contacts has been the basis of our continued good fortune—and most all of our staff members are involved in maintaining and strengthening our business relationships.” – Mike Robinson
ike Robson feels that he has been blessed with good partners, employees, and clients. As president of ICC Inc., Robson has always acknowledged and emphasized the importance of the human factor in regards to running a successful business. Through his many years involved in engineering and consulting, he has learned that everything is easy if you like the people you work with.
ICC was formed by four electrical engineers who, at the time, were working for Anheuser-Busch (AB): John Germanos, Dennis McCormick, Glenn Sontag, and Robson. In 1986, these founders incorporated as Industrial Control Concepts, Inc., and left AB in 1987 to pursue and expand the business fulltime. “We originally saw an opportunity in consulting engineering that wasn’t being effectively serviced by companies in the St. Louis area,” Robson recalls. Al-
though it originally focused on electrical engineering, after just a few years, the company began performing mechanical engineering with the addition of Mike Mundy as a partner. “It was at this point we started doing business as ICC Inc.,” Robson adds. Today, ICC is an engineering-consulting company that primarily performs electrical and mechanical engineering for its industrial clients. The company’s projects typically involve mechanical design, electrical design, programming, and purchasing at a minimum. “We are frequently involved in contracting construction activities in a design-build or EPC role,” Robson says. “ICC has completed the most projects in the food-and-beverage segment, but we have also successfully performed projects for other business segments, including pharmaceutical, metals, and government clients.” ICC is currently headquartered in St. Louis on the historic Laclede’s Landing. Robson is proud that ICC’s owners always strive to take care of their employees and clients. As a result, ICC has had very little turnover over the years. This constant consideration of people is also evident in the company’s dedication to customer service. “We tend to partner with repeat customers and operate as an extension of their engineering groups,” Robson explains. “There is no secret to our success—we just strive every day to take care of the myriad details involved in a good engineering design.” Since ICC operates with very little overhead, most of its efforts are concentrated on the final product.
the principals of icc inc.: (Left to right) Mike Robson, Mike Mundy, and Dennis McCormick.
After graduating from St. Louis University High School in 1976, Robson went on to complete his college education at the University of Missouri– Rolla (now Missouri University of Science and Technology) in 1979. Graduating magna cum laude and finishing his degree after just three years, it is no surprise that a competitive corporation like AB snatched up the young graduate in September 1979 as an engineer trainee.
During his 10 years at AB, Robson accomplished much. When he left in 1987 to help cofound ICC, he had already been through several promotions and was a supervisor managing 17 programmers. Before becoming the current president at ICC, Robson has held the positions of secretary, treasurer, project manager, and vice president for the company. These productive years of experience have definitely helped Robson make ICC a success, although he readily shares the credit. “While I have worked diligently for 22 years at ICC, our success is a real team effort,” he says. “Maintaining solid, long-term business contacts has been the basis of our continued good fortune—and most all of our staff members are involved in maintaining and strengthening our business relationships.”
BY THE NUMBERS
After all he has done and experienced over the years, what Robson still enjoys most about his job is the first thing he ever did. “I began my career as an electrical engineer and still enjoy that aspect of what I do,” he says. “However, that now comprises a minor amount of my time.” He also greatly enjoys working in the beer business, and he has stayed close to it throughout his career. “It’s a relatively small community, and I get to work with people I have known for decades,” he explains. Robson is a member of the Master Brewers Association of the Americas, and he participates with the association on both local and national levels. Currently, MillerCoors is ICC’s largest client. Robson believes the basis of any good company is keeping balance among the needs of employees, clients, and owners. “If any group is favored too much, a company will not run well in the long term.” [P]
1986: company was founded • $11.5 million: annual sales revenue • 10%: sales growth in the past year 35: employees • 12%: employee growth in the past year
Missouri: 707 North 2nd Street 5th Floor St. Louis, MO 63102 314-621-0076 firstname.lastname@example.org
Engineering Services: Electrical Process Packaging Systems Process Utilities Start-Up and Commissioning Maintenance Training IT Services
Mechanical Automation Structural Civil Drafting and Design Operator Training
Wisconsin: W191S6496 Hillendale Drive Muskego, WI 53150 262-679-0825 email@example.com
ICC, Inc. shall use its manufacturing, brewing, process facilities design experience, expertise and innovative systems integration techniques to provide superior engineering services to its global client base. ICC, Inc. shall employ only the best professional talent of impeccable character while fostering the personal growth of all its employees ensuring the company’s outstanding reputation and consistent delivery of the highest quality services to our clients. ICC, Inc. shall continue to nurture its growth seeded by earned repetitive business opportunities, provision of customer service of the highest order, the introduction and application of innovative techniques, a responsive and involved management team, and an unwavering commitment to excellence.
an amazing race Rob Roskopp, CEO of Santa Cruz Bicycles, turned his passion into profit on a journey to find the perfect ride
by Christopher Cussat ob Roskopp, CEO of Santa Cruz Bicycles (SCB), runs his company the same way he used to ride the pro-skateboarding circuit—with honesty, intensity, and heart. This talented athlete and entrepreneur left Cincinnati, Ohio at age 19, moved to California with $600 in his pocket, and has never stopped peddling forward.
Today, SCB designs high-end, full-suspension mountain bikes. The company currently offers 14 models and two different suspension platforms, both of which have multiple patents. SCB’s bike models cover everything from cross-country riding to downhill racing. Unlike most of its competitors, SCB does not do “model year” bikes and only modifies its designs when they can be made better. The company was originally founded in 1993 by Roskopp, Richard Novak, and Mike Marquez. The trio were all avid riders at the time, and Roskopp was working for Novak at Santa Cruz Skateboards (SCS), managing one of his product lines, while also skating professionally for him from 1983 to 1990. Roskopp recalls, “Richard has always been a mentor for me, especially in business—he threw out the idea of making Santa Cruz Bicycles one day, so I did the research and found it would be best to enter the market with a full-suspension frame.”
Just another day at the office: Roskopp tests his merchandise on the NorthStar trails.
“Surround yourself with good people and throw yourself into a part of your industry where you can always keep up on what’s happening.” Rob Roskopp, CEO
At the time, full-suspension bikes were in their infancy, so the three found a local designer, Tom Morris, who had already built some prototypes. “We tested them out and were really impressed by the ride characteristics,” Roskopp says. “So we struck a deal, and a year later we sold our first bikes in February 1994.” Around that same time, another partner, Hans Heim, who had connections within the industry, was brought on. SCB was literally off and running the race of a lifetime—and it has been an industry leader ever since. Every bike that SCB produces is a testament to the company’s uniqueness and epitomizes its competitive edge. “From the beginning, we always let our products speak for themselves—one ride and you’re sold,” Roskopp says. “We’re constantly improving upon every model—we’re never satisfied!” Many professional riders would agree; in fact, SCB’s downhill racer, Steve Peat, won the World Downhill Championships this past year with one of the company’s custom models. The moment Roskopp got off that Greyhound bus years ago in California, fate began to change his plans. “I told my parents I would go to a state college out west,” he says, “but that ended up getting postponed until years later because my real passion was skateboarding.” Within four months of moving, SCS sponsored Roskopp and he turned professional.
ABOVE: Roskopp (right) reviews rider-feedback reports from Syndicate team members at the NorthStar test session. Santa Cruz’s lead engineer Joe Graney (left) and Syndicate mechanic Doug Hatfield (center) collaborate with Roskopp on design specifics and plans for improving Santa Cruz’s technologies. TOP LEFT: Rob Roskopp (left) gets feedback from Syndicate team-member Steve Peat at a test session on the downhill biking trails at NorthStar Resort in Tahoe. Members of the Santa Cruz Syndicate, including Peat, work with Santa Cruz engineers to test new downhill bike geometry that will best suit the 2010 World Cup season. LEFT: Custom models are powder-coated in Santa Cruz’s in-house manufacturing facility.
Although his skateboarding career was successful and lasted for eight years, Roskopp had the realistic foresight to know he had to plan for the future. “During that time,” he says, “I also designed a number of pro-model skateboards that became some of the top-selling models of all time.” He began to regularly attend trade shows for SCS and learned the business ropes from his partner at the company. “After I retired from skating, I went on to work at SCS and also decided to go back to school at night.” All of his life, Roskopp has followed his instincts—and now they have led him down a successful and adventurous path that has taken him to where he is today. “Traveling the world, experiencing different cultures, and, most importantly, learning from someone who already had a successful business going have made it all the better,” he shares. Because of his unique experiences, as well as the support of his wife, Lepa, Roskopp had a good understanding of what needed to be done when he started SCB. In the end, Roskopp believes it’s all about your attitude toward work and life, as well as the team you place around you. “Surround yourself with good people and throw yourself into a part of your industry where you can always keep up on what’s happening,” he says. “And most importantly, you need to have a strong passion for what you do.” [P]
Celebrating 30 successful years of business.
A leader in: •Fasteners •Electronic Hardware •Kitting
w w w. p r o s t a i n l e s s . c o m T: 408-437-0600 | F: 408-283-1790
Workers’ Comp, Property & Liability, Automobile, Employee Beneﬁts, Life, 401k
Our Goal To help you identify and manage business risks using the most cost effective solutions. Research and Development: Bikes are run through the framefatigue testing machine in Santa Cruz’s in-house manufacturing and R&D facility. Products undergo intensive design reviews, rigorous quality control, and innovative product specification.
Our Promise To pursue those solutions with creativity, persistence & integrity.
Contact Marc Andreini 1-800-969-2522 firstname.lastname@example.org www.andreini.com License 0208825
â€œBrands need to take information in at every interaction they possibly can, to grow their product and their opportunities with their customers.â€?
Marketing guru gives expert advice on connecting with customers
cessible program for everyone, so that even our “Red” customer—who doesn’t visit us as often as a “Platinum” customer—still values the brand. We’ve created a richer experience for those lower-worth customers and broadened our reach that way. We also have developed a richer experience for them on our Web site, and we’re doing outbound e-mail marketing, as well. We’re also broadening our point-ofsale engagement, which allows us to reward customers when they purchase something. P: You started off earning bachelor’s degrees in math and engineering. But several years later, you went on to earn your MBA in marketing. Why did you decide to make a career shift into marketing? AT: I really enjoy people. I enjoy the science of people
Aubyn Thomas is one of the nation’s top thought leaders in the field of marketing, and has worked for some of the world’s largest brands. Thomas currently is senior vice president of marketing services for Macy’s, where she heads up the retailer’s credit, loyalty, and multicultural marketing programs. Previously, Thomas has been a top marketing executive with such companies as Harrah’s Entertainment, Bank of America, and Eastman Kodak. Thomas is a highly sought-after speaker who shares her marketing know-how with national and global brands that want to know how they can better tap into their customers’ needs. Her philosophy is that companies should actively seek feedback from their customers in order to understand their tastes and lifestyles. Thomas says this strategy can help companies to actively create opportunities for people to make repeat purchases. Thomas is the author of Customer Inspired Marketing: Change the Game and Become the Brand They Really Love, and has a second book due to be published in May. She holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Spelman College, a bachelor’s in electrical engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology, and an MBA in marketing from Clark Atlanta University. Profile: You’re currently in charge of marketing for
Macy’s department stores, which is one of the top retail brands in the world. Can you talk about some of the strategies and campaigns you’ve implemented since coming to Macy’s in 2007? Aubyn Thomas: We’ve done some pretty exciting
things with reinventing our loyalty program. The way we historically viewed and valued our customers was based on how much they spend with Macy’s. But what we’ve done recently is create a broader and more ac-
and their behavior, and coming to a better understanding of what motivates them to make purchases. There’s actually quite a bit of mathematics and methodologies that go into what drives people to buy. So marketing has helped me to bridge the technical side with the creative and innovative side of doing business. P: What is your philosophy on marketing?
AT: It begins with knowing your customer, and aligning
that with the strengths of your company or your brand. A lot of times, it’s easy to think internally—to just think of your product first and that someone will buy it. But it’s not productive to operate that way. There’s waste associated with trying to be everything for everyone. You need to have laser focus. Know who you are as a brand or product or service, know who your customer is and focus on that. P: As you see it, what are some common mistakes that companies make when it comes to marketing? How can they think differently about marketing? AT: One of the common mistakes is to not have the
proper systems in place to obtain feedback from the customer. Each and every engagement is an opportunity to have a dialogue with your customer, and it’s important that it’s not just a one-way exchange. Brands need to take information in at every interaction they possibly can, to grow their product and their opportunities with their customers.
Another mistake I see is that they try to grow too fast through overexposure. It’s important to be selective about your growth and impression methodologies, be-
cause if you saturate the market with something that’s deemed as a lot of noise, customers will tune you out. You’ll become more like a commodity rather than something that is specialized and relevant. I think of companies like Starbucks, which did a great job of building an identity and an aesthetic for their stores. But they sort of grew so fast that the ubiquity of them almost made them feel common. That can have a dilutive effect on the brand. P: You recently published a book called Customer Inspired Marketing. Can you talk about the issues that you address in your book and what kinds of lessons your readers can learn? AT: I talk about customer intimacy, and having a
specific approach and discipline where you’re doing research and finding different ways of capturing customer perspectives, because it’s important to know how customers see you. Do they see you as a commodity, or something that’s inspiring? Are you just someone that they do business with, or are you someone that they prefer? I also talk about managing the relationship along the continuum, from developing a product that people are aware of into one that they are loyal to and advocates of. P: You’ve done marketing for some of the world’s largest companies. How can the strategies you’ve used be applied by small-business owners?
AT: It’s important to do that reality check with yourself
as a company and a brand to understand who you are, what you stand for, and who you are creating value for. If there are some natural affinities that you think could exist between your company and various cultural segments, it’s important to look at why that is and how you can position yourself to take advantage of that. People make the mistake of saying “I can’t afford to create a specific campaign for different ethnic segments.” If that’s not an option for you, you can still keep in mind the individual groups that you want to pursue. One of the ways we’ve done that is through diversity in our advertising. [P]
Also, never underestimate the power of your people. Each and every touch point is a representation of your brand, from the signs you have in your store to the packaging on your product. Every time a customer touches your brand, it represents you. It needs to align with what you aspire to be as a brand for your customer. That plan should be conducted with consistency and conviction. P: You’ve done multicultural marketing for Macy’s
and Eastman Kodak. What is the importance of having strategies for marketing to multicultural audiences, and what can companies learn from your experience?
Thomas shares her clear and concise approach to marketing success in any size organization, even at an individual level, in her new book, Customer Inspired Marketing: Change the Game and Become the Brand They REALLY Love.
Aubyn Thomas’ Tips for Entrepreneurs • EXAMINE: Be true to your values. As you go
through hard economic times, it’s important to be able to know the mission and essence of your brand and remain true to that.
• RESEARCH: Building strength for your brand
comes from knowing the customer and knowing them well. For example, a brand like Ritz-Carlton knows its customers expect top-notch customer service, and they provide that. Ikea knows people are trying to put together their homes on a budget, and they’re creating solutions for people to buy neat stuff on a budget. Make your products compelling based on your knowledge of the customer.
AT: I believe small-business owners should have a re-
alistic and informed view of who their customers are. They need to have a plan for understanding who are their most valuable customers, and who are the customers that they can learn from by engaging with them. You need to understand how those customers view you, and use that information to put together a proactive plan that allows you to go beyond just being average.
complete strategic planning
• INNOVATE: Create opportunities to grow your
business through innovation, by creating something unique. Apple does this well, creating breakthrough design and innovative products, and that makes their products so very compelling. Entrepreneurs can find ways to break through in that same way.
• CONNECT: Social marketing and social media can
have this viral effect that can work for your company in a very important way, but marketers need to approach it from a very intelligent perspective. People think if they put an ad on Facebook, that they’re doing social marketing. But you have to be smarter than that. Become part of the conversation.
The intersection of value Thomas emphasizes the importance of keeping customers’ needs and motivations at the core of every business decision. Where passion overlaps, opportunity arises.
Passion of the customer Intersection of value = dramatic results through shared energy, ambition
• FOCUS: Don’t just assume that people will buy
your product just because it’s on the market. It’s not productive, sustainable, or efficient to operate that way, and there’s waste associated with trying to be everything for everyone. Have a laser focus on your target customer.
Passion of the company
service 84 butwin insurance 87 the c shop 89 piedmont candy 91 Scott Naylon INsurance 93 Goodman’S jewelers 96 pixim 99 Transwestern General 100 ImproMed 102 Pioneer Heritage 104 United supply
A Tradition of Excellence Third-generation executives ensure customer loyalty gave me perspective about the work my dad did.”
by Laura Williams-Tracy
ighty-five years ago, Nathan Butwin’s mother threatened to take her business elsewhere if the butcher didn’t buy an insurance policy from her son. Thus, he became the first client of Butwin Insurance Group. Two generations later, brothers Richard and Robert Butwin practice a more measured approach to finding and serving new clients, but the familial passion for insurance runs just as deep. “Like the Kennedy’s were raised to be presidents, we were raised to be in insurance,” quips Richard Butwin, president of Butwin Insurance Group, based in Great Neck, New York. “It’s the only job each of us ever considered.” The company retains its hometown roots on Long Island, and it still counts local retailers and other small businesses among its long-standing clients. But today, Butwin Insurance Group services more than 10,000 companies and individuals with a full range of insurance products. Its unique alliance with a nationwide network of Allstate Insurance agents allows it to reach beyond the Northeast. And the brothers’ progressive take on a paperless operation has enabled it to expedite service and exponentially increase the number of clients it serves. The Butwin brothers became the third generation to run the family business, when they took over for their father, Lawrence Butwin, in 1976. Both graduated from Syracuse University after studying the insurance industry. “We grew up with it at the kitchen table,” says Richard says, remembering how their father would occasionally take the boys on business appointments, including one memorable visit to a home ravaged by fire damage. “To this day, I still remember seeing the child’s room. That
stragety to share
diversify The Butwins practice a measured approach to finding and serving new clients. Butwin Insurance services more than 10,000 clients with a full range of insurance products, allowing the firm to customize product packages based on a client’s needs.
looking ahead... Butwin Insurance Group actively seeks out opportunities to acquire small, independent insurance brokers to grow the size and scope of its business. Entrepreneurs are able to increase policy offerings after being acquired, while Butwin vastly increases its market share through the newly attained client base.
The boys gained an appreciation for the variety of businesses their father insured, and for the people behind the regulations and paperwork. They learned much more than making photocopies and metering the mail. Over time, the boys decided to follow their father into the business. “As each of us decided this was the path we were going to take, we became our father’s number-one prospects,” co-president Robert Butwin says. Both brothers started out making cold calls and winning their own accounts. Richard remains the company’s primary salesperson. In addition, Robert runs a division of the company affiliated with 2,000 Allstate Insurance agents who rely on Butwin Insurance Group to diversify and complete their product offerings. Butwin Insurance Group made its name in property and casualty insurance. The company’s focus ranges from personal insurance for automobiles and homes, traditional insurance for medium and large personally held corporations, captive insurance for its most sophisticated clients, and the unique alliance with Allstate Insurance, which brings in some 60 submissions for new policies to be underwritten every day. Much has changed in the insurance industry since Nathan Butwin got his start in 1925. Mid-size agencies like Butwin now face a more level playing field as the result of consolidation among the larger carriers, Richard says. The company to date has grown to 25 employees and sells $35 million in premiums a year. Additionally, Butwin takes a progressive approach to business to remain ahead of the competition, which includes a move to turn a paper-laden business completely digital.
Type of company
THE BUTWIN BROTHERS: Almost a century after its creation, Richard and Robert Butwin maintain their grandfatherâ€™s commitment to moving the business ahead, adopting progressive approaches to workflow march/april 2010 profile 85 that benefit their customers.
Progressive Commercial proudly supports Butwin Insurance Group
“Our industry is paper,” Robert says. “All of the policies are written down and everything has to be signed. We used to have one employee going through a ream of paper every day. Now there is no printer on that desk.” Butwin embraced digital technology five years ago, in part to remain in step with larger carriers moving in that direction. Workflow now moves effortlessly throughout the office and enables staff to work remotely. The move had the added benefit of increasing response time for customers. That allows the company more time to work with clients. The company also eliminated 75 percent of its outgoing mail by e-mailing policies, invoices, and schedules to clients. “My grandfather had a mantra that he would not go home without selling a policy that day, no matter how small,” Richard says. “He would have gobbled up paperless technology and run with it like a marathon runner. He was not from the school to walk away from anything.” [P]
Progressive offers competitive rates, coverage for all types of vehicles and excellent claims and customer service. Call Butwin for more details!
For 85 years Butwin Insurance has lived, slept, dreamt and built future plans for making business insurance work better for everyone.
You’re insurance professionals we can all be proud of. We can show you more.
www.cna.com CNA is a registered trademark of CNA Financial Corporation. Copyright © 2009 CNA. All rights reserved.
The C Shop
Vintage Charm, Family Tradition founders of The C Shop make way for the next Generation by Laura Clark
riginally started as a summertime-only activity by teachers Patrick and Patricia Alesse in 1971, The C Shop has since expanded beyond its candy-shop origins to become a thriving café and wholesale business in the Pacific Northwest.
of two sons, Keith, and his partner, Saara Kuure. “In a year’s time,” Patricia says, “we’d like to make it so it can support two families and not just one.”
The candy shop, café, and wholesale Easter candy business all bring in about $250,000 per year. And that’s on a seasonal schedule—not year-round. “The “It could have been anything,” Patrick says of the shop, candy shop is slightly above last year,” Patricia says. Patrick adds, “In this economy, if you stay the same, “but we based it on what the area needed. We were always interested in how things are done, so we make you’re doing well.” But despite being slightly ahead on the balance sheet, Patrick and Patricia are ready candy where you can see it.” That signature touch— to grow as a business. That could come out of ideas allowing customers to see what goes on in the generated by the next generation. “We’re right where kitchen—has attracted visitors for 39 years to this things are changing,” Patricia says. family-owned business, housed in a former resort in Birch Bay, Washington, built at the beginning of the When the Alesse family moved into its current space 20th century. in 1979, it was “more building than we needed,” Patricia says. The Alesses soon started making use of Now, after 39 years, Patrick and Patricia are preparthe space by extending their services. They renovated ing their business, originally designed as a supplethe building and included a café, where they now bake ment to teaching, to be handed over to their eldest
stragety to share
local marketing The Alesses have expanded The C Shop beyond its candy-shop origins to become a thriving café and wholesale business in the Pacific Northwest through local marketing and strategic branding of their vintage-style business.
looking ahead... In October 2009, The C Shop executive Saara Kuure created a blog for the café and candy shop, extending the market reach for the small business beyond their tourist enclave of Birch Bay, Washington. The C Shop anticipates growth for their online and wholesale businesses, thanks to the communication they now have with their repeat customers and target markets.
39 years and counting: Patricia and Patrick Alesse opened The C Shop as a part-time venture in 1971.
The C Shop
“In a year’s time, we’d like to make it so it can support two families and not just one.” Patricia Alesse, Co-owner
four kinds of bread, cinnamon rolls, and sticky buns three days a week. What’s next for The C Shop, which employs as many as 50 during the summer high season, is a multipronged approach to growing the business. In partnership with son Keith, who studied manufacturing engineering and has even built equipment for the shop, Patrick and Patricia are looking into online sales. In October, Kuure created a blog for the shop, extending the reach beyond their tourist enclave of Birch Bay. “We’re also working on being more efficient,” Patricia says, “and working on improving our prep kitchen.”
The C Shop’s biggest sellers (Peanut Butter Yumms and Dreams) will always dominate the menu, both in-house and online, but the Alesses are looking to expand their truffle selection and Christmas candies. Each week they also prepare two to three 30-pound batches of their “caramel” (“carmel” is used only to refer to other candy) to use in a variety of confections. “We make our ‘caramel’ from scratch,” Patricia says, adding, “you can stand and stir for an hour while talking to customers.” It’s that kind of personal service—mixed with a healthy dose of sweets—that could give The C Shop its push to the next level of success. [P]
Manufacturers of Candy Molds & Equipment Hake Plastic Molds caters to the chocolate industry making commercial grade plastic molds and affordable chocolate equipment, such as chocolate kettles, pumps, rotational molders, and vibrating tables. We have about 3,000 designs in molds from bite-size flat molds to our 3-foot 3-dimensional molds. Also, we make custom molds for customers, as for logos of their company and pretty much anything they desire into 3-dimensional molds.
Founded in 1890, Piedmont Candy Company has created a rich heritage of fine candy making. Today, we pride ourselves in producing an authentic taste of the past using premium quality ingredients and state-of-the-art manufacturing equipment. Originators of the famous Red Bird brand peppermint sticks, the nation’s leading brand of soft peppermint puffs and found in all 50 states.
We strive to make your chocolate molding experience as easy and profitable as possible, so as to have you truly enjoy our business. We make all of our products the old-fashioned way, by hand, with quality detail. Our molds are a high grade thick plastic, which will last you many, many seasons. Our chocolate system is designed to give you beautifully molded pieces effortlessly. The machines we offer are made with simple designs, so they are very easy to take care of and maintain. We pride ourselves on keeping all of our costs at bare minimum to give you quality afforable products.
11168 Broadway Alden, New York 14004 Phone/Fax: 716-683-1579 email@example.com
404 Market Street Post Office Box 1722 Lexington, NC 27292 Tel (336) 248-2477 Fax (336) 248-5841
Penny & Tom Butlak Owners
Piedmont Candy Company
From Humble Beginnings Peidmont candy continues 120-year legacy of success by Laura Williams-Tracy
eppermint candy may bring to mind visions of sugarplums and holiday gatherings, but for Lexington, North Carolina-based Piedmont Candy Company, making the red-striped confectioneries happens all year long. After more than a century in business, Piedmont’s “Red Bird” brand of soft, puffed peppermints is on top of the candy heap. “Even with the economy being down, we’re wide open,” says president Chris Reid, who grew up helping his father make the sweets. Having been around for 120 years, the company’s products can be found in every Walgreens, CVS, Dollar Tree, and Dollar General in every state. To meet this widespread success, Piedmont recently opened a new 40,000-square-foot plant in 2009, next door to its previous smaller facility, enabling the company to significantly increase production levels. Currently, the company churns through 60,000 pounds of liquid sugar every 10 hours to make more than 50,000 pounds of candy every workday, as four million Red Bird puffed peppermints are consumed every day. Originally, the recipe for Red Bird candy came from Edward F. Ebelein, a Baltimore-born German immigrant who started the candy company in 1890 and soon moved it to North Carolina. Ebelein’s sons operated the plant until 1987, when, at the age of 65, Robert Ebelein retired and offered the family business to his three daughters. With his girls pursuing careers of their own, Ebelein decided to sell the plant to Doug Reid, an acquaintance with a background in supervising textile production, shipping, and receiving, who had long expressed interest in the business.
As a teenager, Chris Reid, Doug’s son, worked in the plant after school and every weekend while in college in Chapel Hill. In 1993, he returned home to help run the family business. In 2009, Piedmont opened its new automated plant, converting the old factory into warehouse space.
stragety to share
long-term loyalty Piedmont Candy has accrued a diverse and expansive client base of retail outlets throughout its history. Its longstanding reputation for customer service and quality product offerings has made Piedmont one of the top candy manufacturers in the US. Today, the company’s products can be found in every Walgreens, CVS, Dollar Tree, and Dollar General throughout the nation.
looking ahead... Today, thanks to its new plant, Piedmont can make twice as much candy per hour. With additional capacity, Reid says for the first time his company is adverting and pursuing new retail outlets. “We never really advertised in the past because we didn’t need it,” Reid says. The increase in production has allowed Piedmont to satisfy the growing demand for their products for a wide range of retail clients.
Despite the advanced facility, the work is still laborintensive—candy is packed by hand into tubs—but a more-automated continuous cooking system now allows Piedmont to produce a more-consistent product faster than ever. In 1987, when the Reid family took over the business, Piedmont made 2,000 pounds of peppermints a day. Today it produces 2,000 pounds every 20 minutes. But the recipe hasn’t changed. The soft, puffed peppermints are made from 100 percent sugar, with a tiny fraction of inverted sugar, which keeps the cooked product from turning back to granulated sugar. The other ingredient is the highest-quality peppermint oil money can buy. A full 95 percent of the candies Piedmont makes are peppermints, which use red food coloring to make the signature stripes. A 10-flavor assorted pack of flavors, including grape and lemon, makes up the other five percent of the product line. Before the new plant opened, Piedmont operated seven days a week, 10–12 hours a day. Now, the new plant can make twice as much candy per hour. With additional capacity, Reid says for the first time his company is adverting and pursuing new retail outlets. “We never really advertised in the past because we didn’t need it,” Reid says. “We were maxed out on our capacity and could not have filled any additional orders.” Once considered a southern candy, Reid says candy brokers are introducing the product in all states. “People think of Christmas as the season for peppermints,” Reid says. “But retailers are finding it’s a candy that consumers desire all year long.” Piedmont Candy Company is now one of the largest and most successful manufacturers of pure sugar puffs and sticks in the country. While its main competitors have moved operations off-shore, Piedmont Candy remains firmly planted in North Carolina. “Every piece of candy we wrap says ‘Made in the USA,’” Reid says. “We strongly believe our product is the best on the market in terms of taste and quality.” [P]
Type of company
OME PEOPLE THINK ALL INSURANCE IS THE SAME.
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Scott Naylon Isurance Brokerage
Diversification Ensures Success Insurance Broker targets new markets to continue growth by Brigitte Yuille stragety to share
rise above the competition Diversification of services and products allows a company to become a unique resource for its client base. “We do our homework, identify problems, and market products in a way that makes our agency the only broker that can offer the items. We’ve got a lot of horsepower on our staff—they are all professionals,” Scott says.
looking ahead... Despite the challenges of the recent economy, the insurer has managed to grow, which Scott attributes to the company’s ability to evolve, and its culture of personal customer service. The firm found success in acquiring new business online, and Scott plans to build upon this communication tool by making the company’s Web site more interactive to enable clients to conveniently submit an application, pay, and receive their policy.
cott Danahy Naylon Insurance Brokerage is a small regional insurance broker with large profits, but it doesn’t act like one. The western New York-based agency’s skilled and seasoned staff represents major insurance carriers and competes against larger competitors. “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight; it’s the fight in the dog. And we got a lot of fight,” president William Scott explains.
The property- and casualty-insurance broker provides personal lines, employee benefits, various forms of commercial lines, and self-insurance programs. “If the word insurance is involved, we’re involved at any level,” Scott says. The agency, which specializes in commercial business and medical malpractice, is neither intimidated by its competition nor limited to its area. Intimidation doesn’t stop the agency from entering new territories to acquire new business. “We have programs all over the country that we market,” Scott says of the company, which is licensed in nearly all 50 states and does business with more than two dozen carriers Part of its strategy is target marketing. “We don’t just take off-the-shelf programs and say, ‘Well, here it is,’” Scott says. “We will find problem areas, search out an underwriter, go to them and say, ‘Hey, look at this line of business—this is something I want [to] market. Are you interested?’” Scott’s staff gets “as much information together about this class or association to include numbers, loss information, problems with the class, and [approaches] underwriters to check interest levels,” he says. Sometimes the underwriters are interested; sometimes they’re not. “If they are,” Scott says, “you build yourself a good program where both the client and the insurance carrier wins. That program will last.” In addition, the agency is trying to target-market different groups and is arranging a unique program for doctors, dentists, and hospitals. The congressio-
“We have programs all over the country that we market.” William Scott, President
nal healthcare legislation hasn’t worried Scott, who further indicates the agency is well diversified, and as a result it won’t get hurt. It’s this diversity that has helped the agency to accumulate $80 million in annual sales, Scott says. However, it has encountered some setbacks. Among those problems are common issues many sales organizations experience, such as getting good clients and selling more products. Scott addresses this by learning from his various underwriters what areas the company has seen success. He then brings these ideas to the salespeople, whether it may be a property-casualty or a life-insurance idea. The agency was challenged when it lost one of its larger accounts. “When Fischer Price toys was
Scott Naylon Isurance Brokerage
bought by Mattel, our insurance program was absorbed,” Scott explains. “Obviously, you’re a little depressed when you lose a large account, but hopefully if you have enough stuff on the stove—whether it be on the front burner or the back burner—you’re okay with it, because you know there’s going to be a lot of other successes going forward.” But despite the challenges, the insurer has managed to grow, which Scott attributes to the ability to evolve in the tough economy, and the company’s culture and personal service. The company has done well getting business over the Internet, and Scott plans to build upon this tool by making the company’s Web site more interactive, to enable clients to submit an application, pay, and get their policy.
market products in a way that makes our agency the only broker that can offer the items. We’ve got a lot of horsepower on our staff—they are all professionals.” Providing people with a feeling of importance is also important to the executives who believe someone should always answer the phone, mandate that all calls are returned within a day, and require all of its employees to participate in a charity in western New York.
Meanwhile, the company is working to get its new medical-malpractice lines to the public through direct mail, associations, seminar, and referrals. Its target groups include chiropractors, dentists, orthopedics, obstetrics and gynecology, and cosmetic surgeons. Once the new programs are up and running, Scott plans to focus on new products, as well as “If we did nothing—if we were just sitting on our hands, acquiring other agencies. “We put two additions on to our building since we’ve moved in here, and we’ve between the economy and normal attrition—we would probably be down around 15 percent, and there specifically overbuilt,” he says. “We would be able to acquire a decent-size agency without a blink of an are a lot of agencies seeing that type of decline,” Scott eye. We are ready to go.” [P] says. “We do our homework, identify problems, and
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Very Important Customers jeweler sells luxury items with the royal treatment by Laura Clark
ounded in 1933 by a pair of brothers, Goodman’s Jewelers has served Madison, Wisconsin, as a family-owned business that takes pride in its customer service. When John Hayes purchased the company in 1998, after rising through its ranks, he wanted to continue that personal service—especially since the Goodman family, as he says, “treated him like a son.” Hayes, now owner and president of Goodman’s, aims to take the business to the next level. In addition to focusing on providing quality, conflict-free diamonds, as well as other jewelry, Hayes is heightening the competitiveness of his luxury-goods service even in a challenging economy. “People are scaling back on the amount of their purchases,” he says. “They’re spending less, but people are still getting married.” In fact, he adds, “the bridal department is up.”
As the winner of multiple Best of Madison kudos, handed out by Madison Magazine, as well as being named one of the top 27 jewelers in North America by National Jeweler magazine, Goodman’s is the city’s oldest full-service jewelry store and is known for its attention to customer needs. Focusing on client demand with an eye toward the company’s supply, Hayes is implementing targeted strategies to appeal to new and returning customers. That includes “[reordering] things that are more popular on a regular basis,” he says. Hayes also is looking to turn over inventory faster and adjust the price point to what customers are comfortable spending. He recalls five years ago, when Goodman’s redesigned the store and offered its firstever sale to fund the project. Not only was the store able to remodel the physical display space, among other areas, but the sale provided the $750,000 needed for the seven-week project. Goodman’s team of 14 employees handled about $2 million in sales during 2009. And while many
here to serve: Owner of Goodman’s Jewelers, John Hayes.
companies are struggling, Goodman’s is taking new approaches to securing its bottom line. That involves tweaking growth strategies in advertising and marketing. To begin with, Hayes and his team reevaluated Goodman’s spending on ads. “We’re reducing the total amount on advertising,” Hayes says, “but we’re targeting that advertising to focus more on the bridal age, 25–35 years old.” Goodman’s already has applied a different strategy to its radio ads, moving away from predominantly female easy-listening stations to hip-hop, which has a mix of younger male and female listeners. Next, Hayes wants to improve Goodman’s Web site. “We’re not looking to sell online,” he says, “but to give more education about us.” Not only that, but Goodman’s is switching many of its annual contracts to quarterly ones. That way, Hayes says, “we’re forced to look at what we do more often, in-
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changing markets John Hayes has applied a different strategy to Goodman’s radio ads, moving away from predominantly female easy-listening stations to hip-hop, which has a mix of younger male and female listeners. “Through a marketing and product mix, we can have a stronger bottom line with the same volume,” Hayes says.
Looking ahead... Advertising: “We’re reducing the total amount on advertising,” Hayes says, “but we’re targeting that advertising to focus more on the bridal age, 25-35 years old.”
“We’re forced to look at what we do more often instead of putting it on cruise control and forgetting about it.” John Hayes, Owner & President
Marketing: Hayes has short-term plans to improve Goodman’s Web site, expanding its market presence to a wider audience. “We’re not looking to sell online,” he says, “but to give more education about us.”
customers come first: Hayes (above right) works personally with customers to ensure the highest quality of both luxury products and one-onone service.
stead of putting it on cruise control and forgetting about it. Through a marketing and product mix, we can have a stronger bottom line with the same volume.” As far as the near future, Hayes and his employees have already started planning. “We’re in the process of looking at next year’s budget, what our expectations are for 2010,” he says. “If we maintain where we’re at, that would be ideal. Our economy will be a slow recovery. We’ll keep an eye on where things are. In 2011–2012, we’ll look at possibilities of growth.” That said, Hayes is confident in the power of special occasions. “People are still having birthdays and anniversaries,” he says. “Celebratory events still happen regardless of the economy.” [P]
Type of company
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Pioneering Client Communication Pixim is Bringing the future of digital images into focus by Christopher Cussat stragety to share
Unparalleled service Pixim’s training programs go beyond camera customers, reaching out to systems integrators, distributors, reps, resellers and installers. As a result, Pixim has started educating the entire surveillance supply chain about the benefits of its products. Pixim works with its customers, from sales calls to major installations, to provide valuable tools to help clients utilize its product line.
Looking ahead... Pixim’s future ambition is to become a mainstream supplier of its digital-imaging technology. “Our short-term goal is to expand from having really unique solutions for hard-to-solve problems to being a mainstream supplier—making our kit very available to a much broader audience,” Adams explains.
or years, success and technological advancements have been consistently coming into focus for Chris Adams, president and CEO of Pixim. This digital-imaging magician has the ambition, knowledge, and expertise to clearly visualize and foresee the future of his company. Pixim is a semiconductor producer that sells chipsets and firmware for use in various types of digital cameras. “We’re focused on the video security-camera segment right now,” Adams notes. The company is known as a high-end service organization that provides complete solutions including software and actual camera designs. In addition, Pixim supplies an amazing amount of marketing support for its customers.
and closest customers are household names like General Electric, Honeywell, Pelco, Cisco Systems, JVC, Siemens, and Tyco,” Monti adds. There are a dramatic number of impressive installations around the world where Pixim products can be found. “Cameras based on our technology are in the Olympic Stadium in Athens, in Yankee Stadium in New York, as well as in the Vatican,” Monti says. Pixim technology is also utilized in more than 20 major international airports, including Bangkok, Copenhagen, Frankfurt, Manchester, Paris, Shanghai, and Sydney. “Additionally,” Monti adds, “our customers have cameras in many transit systems in cities like Las Vegas, Miami, New York, Toronto, and Shenzhen.” Another important client segment for Pixim includes supplying technology deployed inside security cameras for large banks like Wells Fargo, Barclays of London, Bank of America, and the Bank of Saudi Arabia.
Currently, the company offers mostly commercial applications that help solve very difficult imaging issues. For example, one major challenge with security cameras revolves around lighting, Adams explains. “There are a lot of imaging problems that people tend to assume are unsolvable, but Pixim has solved them,” A quick glance at Adams’ circum vitae immediately he says. “We actually have cameras that run 24/7 and reflects the winning and groundbreaking trajectory of Pixim’s success. After working on a technical undeal with all sorts of lighting conditions.” dergraduate degree in engineering, where he studied image compression, and then completing his graduPixim’s customers cover a vast international ate work at Stanford University Business School, landscape and diverse industry sectors. John Monti, Adams became a member of the MPEG committee, Pixim’s vice president of marketing and business which created standards for much of the technology development, says, “The people who are buying Pixim technology and then selling it into the security market are some of the largest security-equipment vendors in the world.” In fact, the company has already sold more than a million of its chipsets, and the cameras using them are deployed in more than 100 countries around the world. “Some of our largest
applicable technology: Pixim’s digital-image sensor and processor function much like the human eye, with twoway, real-time interactivity to capture the highest-quality video possible.
Service XXXXXXX: To prevent visitors and residents from being victimized by crime, the Vatican has installed intelligent IP cameras powered by Pixim technology.
customized solutions: Cameras based on Pixim’s Digital Pixel System technology protect world-renowned venues such as the Olympic Stadium in Athens (right) and prevent visitors and residents from being victimized by crime in Vatican City, (below).
now used in DVD players, HDTVs, and digitalsatellite and cable television-set top boxes. The list of companies where he previously held executive positions reads like a high-tech who’s who: Hewlett-Packard, DiviCom, and C-Cube Microsystems. Adams later worked for Tallwood Venture Capital, which is the largest shareholder of Pixim. This exposure and connection eventually led Adams to his current position, and it has given him a unique “other side of the table” perspective, inspiring him to lead Pixim progressively and creatively into the future. Pixim’s competitiveness can also be attributed to its patented technology called the Digital Pixel System technology. “With this technology,” Adams says, “we move digital techniques deeper into the image sensor than anyone else has done. As a result, we’re able to solve new problems and produce better-quality images.” Pixim’s vision of the future includes becoming a mainstream supplier of its technology. “Our shortterm goal is to expand from having really unique solutions for hard-to-solve problems to being a mainstream supplier—making our kit very available to a much broader audience,” Adams explains. This will be accomplished by continuing to hone an alreadyeffective business plan and high-quality product. “I think it’s taking the learning that we’ve had over the last 10 years and perfecting the technology, so it really hits all the sweet-spot needs of the mainstream customer,” Adams adds.
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Adams predicts that Pixim will be a major player in the expansive future of camera technology. “The video-security-market segment is actually pretty explosive in terms of growth,” he says. “For example, London is well known for being extremely well covered with video—that’s one city on this enormous planet. What’s happening is that the rest of the world is gradually copying that model, so it’s already a fairly large market, but it’s showing signs of becoming a huge business opportunity.” When asked about his accomplishments at Pixim, Adams prefers to defer to the company’s next strategic move. “When we take this great technology and make it available to the mainstream,” he says, “it’s going to result in Pixim becoming a pretty big and successful company—so ask me again in about a year.” [P]
Transwestern General Agency
Built on Customer Service homegrown agency Ensures clients are accommodated by Laura Clark
trading. We’re solely owned and have to adjust very hen Jeffrey Burgener took over as presiquickly.” He adds, “A lot of people are going without dent and CEO of Transwestern General Agency in 2008, he had much experience insurance or are going out of business.” from which to draw. After all, his grandfather startThe company has adjusted in several ways, according ed the Salt Lake City-based company in 1945. The to Burgener, including making the operations more family business, a wholesale insurance company, specializes in three areas: commercial automobiles, streamlined by going paperless and allowing customers to receive more applications and forms by e-mail which covers long-haul trucks and buses; personal rather than “snail mail.” Despite challenging times, lines, which deals with vacant dwellings and collectible cars; and excess and surplus, which insures the company still made $40 million in sales 2009, odd risks that standard carries do not cover, includ- something Burgener attributes to saving for hard times and maintaining a strong balance sheet. ing propane and acid haulers. But it was insuring long-haul trucks that started it all. Burgener also credits the diversity of the business—insuring various types of properties—as a Arnold Burgener, Jeffrey’s grandfather, launched factor that has kept the company strong. “Being his business as the first to offer those types of polithat diversified—and not starting within a niche— cies. “He just saw the need,” Jeffrey Burgener says. “There were no domestic carriers.” In the beginning, has kept a stronghold,” he says. “That goes back to my dad and grandfather.” Transwestern had a roster of 15 employees—a number that has more than tripled since 1945— Burgener also has high hopes for the near future, and represented 150 agents. And that brokerage and he plans to expand beyond the states that focus has helped smaller companies work with Transwestern already covers, including Utah, major insurance players, “so the smaller guy has Nevada, and Arizona. “In 2010, 2011, the economy access,” Burgener says. “We’re not an agency, but a will come back,” he says. “People will start buying, wholesaler. My father started brokering business for small companies in Nevada that couldn’t get big manufacturers will start building, and there’s a lot we can do. We’re always expanding states, and contracts with big companies.” other states are in the works.” Those states include California, Washington, Oregon, North Dakota, After years of growth, and now in its third generaand South Dakota. tion of ownership, Transwestern oversees 1,300 independent agents, listing relationships with For Transwestern, the focus falls on the agent and clients that have lasted more than 50 years. As exmaking sure the company is providing for clients’ perience has been handed down from grandfather needs. In a challenging economy, it’s that service— to father, father to son, some business traditions as well as a strong business plan—that keeps the have remained the same. company secure. “We maintain our renewals, and make sure service is still there and still competitive,” When the economy soured, it was that dedication Burgener says. “We’re very conservative; any profit to clients, as well as a conservative yet flexible phiwe do make, we promptly put it in the bank for a losophy, that helped steer Transwestern through the rainy day—or when it turns into a blizzard.” Such downturn. “Because of the economy, our company practices are what have made Transwestern so resilgrows and bends with the market,” Burgener says. ient and successful for generations. [P] “The economy’s terrible—there’s no building, no
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clients come first Businesses have to be willing to put the needs of the client above all else. “As I came into it,” Burgener says, “my father taught me more about the marketing side and servicing agents. We’re here to help them. We make it easy for agents to call us up, go to our markets, shop it, and find the best price.” Easy access to products and services is an important factor for clients in choosing any service provider.
looking ahead... Burgener maintains his long-term goal of controlled growth for the firm. “We’re very conservative; any profit we do make, we promptly put it in the bank for a rainy day—or when it turns into a blizzard.”This type of saving and preparation has allowed the firm to grow continually.
Innovative Management Solutions impromed educates clients in the custom-technology market by Laura Clark
hen Ronald Detjen, president and CEO of ImproMed, Inc., acquired the veterinary software company in 1989 while it was in bankruptcy, his goal was to provide innovative management technology to a diverse set of clients—and to be among the best at it. Since his purchase, Detjen has grown the company into a 90-plus-employee operation, with 3,000 clients and more than $10 million in annual sales. Not only that, but in June 2009 the company also acquired Sunpoint Software, Inc., and it is looking at other practice-management software businesses as well. “Four companies control 80 percent of the marketplace,” Detjen says. “And we’re probably number two or three.” What ImproMed provides is a software program for veterinary hospitals called Infinity. This system gives veterinarians the tools they need to run a clinic and a business. That means organizing medical records, as well as implementing a reminder system for existing clients. “Vets are a diverse set of people,” Detjen says. “There’s a lot of range in their industry. Each business model is slightly different.”
Unlike human medicine, the veterinarian must play a variety of roles. As Detjen says, the vet is not only a primary physician for animals, but also a surgeon, pharmacist, and radiologist. That’s where ImproMed comes in. For example, veterinarians send out reminder cards as a way to both check up on the health of clients and promote their business. These often include stock images and boilerplate text. “I thought, ‘That doesn’t work,’” Detjen recalls. Instead, he thought, “‘Let’s get a picture of the owner’s pet to put on the card in full color. And instead of print saying dry medical terms, the vet should have text that’s more enjoyable.’” Because of this, clients are then able to have a more personalized experience with their vet.
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exploring services ImproMed makes a point of connecting to its clients via online resources, such as training and education seminars exploring its software systems. ImproMed is using that communication network as an opportunity to “bring customers into our location,” according to director of marketing Jacqueline Herron-Kempf.
looking ahead... The focus on customer service is playing a large role in ImproMed’s growth strategy for the future. “This year, our sales have grown despite a down economy,” Detjen says. For ImproMed, customer service is always at the forefront. Says Detjen, “We always look at [the client’s] value first, then [the value] for us.” In short, Detien keeps only ImproMed’s clients in mind when developing new business strategies, ensuring a legacy of loyal repeat customers.
While he adds that the Wisconsin-based ImproMed is a “predominant player for smaller companies in the industry, in innovation and functional items,” Detjen focuses on the fact that it is an independent company that answers only to itself, not a larger corporate entity. That, he says, has allowed the company to innovate and implement ideas more quickly and efficiently. Other products include a census module, which allows veterinarians to track the status of an animal at all times. They also provide a mobile edition for traveling doctors. This enables the veterinarian to access information off site. Product integration is also a large part of the business, according to Matthew Huhn, director of business development. The Infinity program, he says, “ties information together.” That includes patient records, client communications, and credit-card processing, all of which are managed by the software. But what truly sets ImproMed apart, according to both Detjen and Huhn, is its service. “We need to provide value and service,” Detjen says. “If we provide that, we look for revenue later.” Adds Huhn, “We offer a variety of training and education,” which the company does through its iCAN (Infinity Community Access Network), which offers a chat system for clients to communicate directly with the software developers. Clients can download updates and compare notes with other ImproMed-serviced hospitals. There is also a Web-based continuing-education program titled ImproMed University. ImproMed makes a point of connecting to its clients via online resources, using that as an opportunity to “bring customers into our location,” according to director of marketing Jacqueline Herron-Kempf. In fact, when ImproMed renovated its building to be more green after a June 2008 flood, the company “had an open house on Earth Day and our Web site showed our changes,”
Herron-Kempf says. Those changes included insulation, which decreased natural gas usage by 29 percent. The company also replaced light fixtures with high-efficiency lighting (which decreased bills by 10 percent), used recycled cubicles, and included drought-resistant plants in the company landscape. But perhaps what has fueled ImproMed’s growth most has been its development and ability to integrate with other software.“We’ve always been an aggressive company when it comes to development,” Huhn says. “When there are more places we can integrate into our software, it helps clients and gives them more mobility. Development slows with a down economy. It’s a time when you should invest in the future to differentiate yourself from other companies.” That sentiment also plays a role in ImproMed’s growth strategy for the future. “This year, our sales have grown despite a down economy,” Detjen says. “We purchased one of our competitors. And we are bringing out new products by the end of the year.” [P]
independent company, innovative vision: As president of ImproMed, Detjen ensures that business-development ideas mainatin a quick turnaround time.
ImproMed, Inc. is the oldest and largest privately-held developer and provider of business and medical management software for the veterinary industry. Our commitment to improving the veterinary business management industry began in 1979 with the introduction of the first practice management system. Since introducing the concept of management software to the veterinary industry over 30 years ago, ImproMed’s objective has been to provide knowledge management offering the leading advancements in technology, interfaces with more companies and software solutions for today’s veterinarian. Today, ImproMed customers world-wide trust us to help them become better practitioners by managing their businesses more effectively and efficiently. From business, to medicine, to client relations – ImproMed Infinity offers a Total Software Solution to its customers. If you have not yet joined the ImproMed family, we invite you to explore our Web site to discover why more than 3,000 veterinary hospitals have made the World’s Most Powerful Practice Management Software their software choice.
www.impromed.com Phone: (800) 925-7171 • Fax: (920) 236-7099 • firstname.lastname@example.org
Pioneer Heritage Insurance, LLC
Insurance With Integrity Pioneer heritage extends an honest approach to client services by Sheena Harrison stragety to share
treat clients as individuals As a Trusted Choice Agency, Pioneer Heritage Insurance is dedicated to treating customers as people, not policies. All independent agents that are members of the Trusted Choice program agree to a Pledge of Performance, designed to assure quality service that enables them to offer clients competitive prices, a broad choice of products, and valuable advocacy.
looking ahead... As Pioneer Heritage continues to grow, Ohl hopes to instill a solid work ethic into the next generation of insurance agents. In the last few years, Pioneer Heritage has hired three young agents who Ohl says have been good investments for the firm. Ohl plans to continue his legacy of outstanding customer service at Pioneer through a new generation of serviceminded employees.
because they don’t produce the volume,” Ohl says. ntegrity is an essential part of doing business for Pioneer Heritage Insurance, LLC, an insur- “This allowed us to represent larger companies and diversify our product line.” Today, Pioneer Heritage ance agency based in Spicer, Minnesota, that has 12 employees at four Minnesota offices in Spicer, has a history dating back more than six decades. Willmar, Pennock, and Raymond. In 2008, the company generated $1.4 million in commission on sales Pioneer Heritage was formed in 2003 when three of about $8 million of premium, including about $2 Minnesota insurance firms decided to merge. Those million of crop-insurance premiums. firms included Pioneer Associates, Green Lake Agency, and Heritage Insurance & Financial—an Much of Pioneer Heritage’s growth can be attributed insurance firm founded by Heritage Bank in 1946. to the leadership of Ohl, who has more than 30 years Ken Ohl, president and owner of Pioneer Heritage, of experience in the insurance business. He started says the merger allowed the three firms to become working as a direct writer for a captive insurance one of the largest independent insurance agents in company, but two years later, Ohl saw that he could central Minnesota. have more flexibility working as an independent insurance agent. He worked for three other insurance “In rural agencies, it’s usually difficult for agencies firms before coming to Pioneer Associates in 1994 to acquire competitive contracts with companies Ken Ohl, president and owner of Pioneer Heritage.
Pioneer Heritage Insurance, LLC
“Being honest is such an important factor in our business. You really have to do things according to the law. I think that honesty is the best policy.” Ken Ohl, President & Owner
with two other partners. The partners left the business in later years, and Ohl was the chief executive of Pioneer Associates before taking the helm of Pioneer Heritage after the merger.
the near future. Ohl says there is currently a buyer’s market for acquisitions. “We try to keep enough funds available in our cash account to acquire another agency if it becomes available,” he says.
Ohl says he has worked to maintain a culture of trust and honesty at Pioneer Associates and Pioneer Heritage during his time at each company. “Being honest is such an important factor in our business,” he states. “You really have to do things according to the law. I think that honesty is the best policy.”
No matter how large Pioneer Heritage becomes, Ohl says he’s confident that the company will continue to adhere to its standards of honesty and integrity. “We have a commitment to professionalism, and I think we’ve shown that to our customers,” he says. [P]
He also has helped to make Pioneer Heritage a more environmentally friendly company. The firm went paperless in 2004, after Ohl bought scanners for all of his employees. Though the decision to forego paper was nerve-racking at first, Ohl says going green has made Pioneer Heritage a more efficient company. “We’ve eliminated file cabinets for the most part, and we’ve saved the cost of one clerical person,” he says. Ohl’s commitment to elevating insurance-industry standards doesn’t stop with Pioneer Heritage. As the new president of the Minnesota Independent Insurance Agents Association, he is working to promote legislation and polices that will benefit Pioneer Heritage and other insurance agencies around the state. “I like to help my peers,” he says. “I like to make sure the things that might affect us from a legislative standpoint are positive for us.” As Pioneer Heritage continues to grow, Ohl hopes to instill that same work ethic into the next generation of insurance agents. He says it’s a difficult task because the insurance industry often has a tough time recruiting younger workers, who sometimes want higher salaries than can be provided in an associate’s early career. Still, in the last few years, Pioneer Heritage has hired three young agents who Ohl says have been good investments for the firm.
H EARTLAND CROP INSURANCE INC.
Heartland will provide you the peace of mind to know that you will still be standing, even when your crop is not. For more information about Heartland Crop Insurance and the coverage we provide, contact your local Heartland agent or visit us at HeartlandCropInsurance.com.
Along with hiring employees, Pioneer Heritage hopes to continue growing by acquiring agencies in Helping to manage risk for American farmers, their families, and their future P.O. Box 330 Topeka, KS 66601-0330
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United Supply Corp.
A Business-Friendly Culture Wholesaler instills confidence and trust in customer Base by Daniel Casciato stragety to share
cultivate partnerships “I quickly realized that if you gain someone’s business simply by price, you will lose it just as quickly for the same reason. So it’s important to build relationships, value-added services, trust, overall performance of your company, and in general, create a culture that makes people feel comfortable doing business with United Supply Corp.” – Alan Goldner, CEO
looking ahead... United Supply hired an engineering company to design its new offices and warehouse, to create the efficiencies required to grow profitably and to best service its customer base. “It’s our goal to constantly maintain and upgrade our technology and operating systems,” Goldner says. “This sets us apart from our competition most often.”
hroughout his career as a wholesaler, Alan Goldner, CEO of United Supply Corp., garnered much advice—some of it useful, some of it not so useful—from many savvy businesspeople. But one person who significantly made an impression on Goldner was Stephen M. R. Covey, the son of the author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Several years ago, Goldner attended an industry conference to hear the junior Covey speak about his book, The Speed of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything. “This concept really impacted me, and I realized that I had been practicing this for many years, and much of it now validated,” Goldner says. “You can get much more accomplished, more quickly and efficiently, when both sides have implicit trust that each one will do the right thing.” For many years, the wholesale-supply business was based simply on price, which, according to Goldner, made for an extremely tedious process of maintaining and growing your customer base. “I quickly realized that if you gain someone’s business simply by price, you will lose it just as quickly for the same reason, so it’s important to build relationships, valueadded services, trust, overall performance of your company, and in general, create a culture that makes people feel comfortable doing business with United Supply Corp.,” he says. Goldner adds that the company’s relationship and cultivation of customers has helped to grow the business dramatically. “I think it takes a special amount of time, effort, and ability to develop that confidence and trust you need to succeed,” he says. Located in Saddle Brook, New Jersey, United Supply is a “pick-and-pack” wholesaler that stocks about 5,000 items in its 80,000-square-foot warehouse and distribution center. It sells school/office supplies, general merchandise, and specialty and licensed merchandise to independent retailers, such as inde-
a flexible vision: “Our business changed because we were willing to adapt.” – Alan Goldner, CEO
pendent drug stores, card and gift stores, stationery stores, convenience stores, party stores, and college bookstores. The company currently ships products to most of the United States and Puerto Rico, as well as the Caribbean and Europe. United Supply started in 1921 in Passaic, New Jersey, as a wholesaler of toys and “carnival merchandise” to be distributed to independent retailers, mostly in the New York and New Jersey areas. In 1989, Goldner purchased a 50-percent interest in the business from the son-in-law of one of the original owners. In 2007, he purchased the other 50 percent from his former partner. The business evolved over the years from a toy wholesale business into a toy- and school-supply wholesaler, primarily servicing independent retailers and some small regional chain stores. In recent years, the toy part of the business has been cut back significantly to include specialty items and licensed merchandise for some of its larger customers. The school-supply business, however, has continued to grow and makes up about half of United Supply’s sales volume today.
In 1995, Goldner moved the business from Paterson to Saddle Brook, since the Paterson facility was old and the building’s configuration and layout did not allow the business to grow efficiently. “When the company moved,” Goldner says, “we immediately began to attract some larger retail customers who did not have their own warehouse facilities and needed door-to-door delivery, which is what we do.” United Supply hired an engineering company to design its new offices and warehouse, to create the efficiencies required to grow profitably. “It’s our goal to constantly maintain and upgrade our technology and operating systems,” Goldner adds. “This sets us apart from our competition most often.” What also sets United Supply apart is that it consistently meets its customers’ demands. “This makes us the vendor that says ‘yes’ much more often than saying ‘no,’” Goldner says. “We’re a business that has evolved from a mom-and-pop wholesaler and has become more of a regional powerhouse in our industry. Our business changed because we were willing to adapt.” [P]
Type of company
3M has been in business for over 100 years, manufacturing Scotch(R) and Post-it(R) Brand Products, as well as many other consumer goods for home and office use. 3M would like to recognize United Supply Corp. as a strong and great partner, and congratulates them on their success now and in the years to come.
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Energizer Battery Co., Inc. 71 Pitman Ave. • Fords, NJ 08863 Office: 732-738-6328 • Fax: 732-738-9273
Stationery Products Division 3M Center Bldg.223-3NE-07 march/april 2010 profile 105 St. Paul, MN 55144
advocacy 106 family alliance 109 CENtral BOSTON ELDER SERVICES 111 SNVC
Cultivating a Community family alliance provides alternative care for seniors seeking independence and socialization by Laura Clark stragety to share
customized care Particularly for clients with dementia, Family Alliance uses a Montessori approach to education and activities, which addresses individual needs and provides oneon-one attention. “We give older adults the ability to socialize,” Louise says. This individualistic approach can be similarly applied to vendor-client relationships in a variety of industries. Evaluating the needs of individual clients, determining how knowledgeable they are about a product or service, and servicing them directly, will ensure repeat, loyal business from each customer.
hen executive director Carol Louise helped found Family Alliance, Inc., in an Illinois church basement with a mere $1,000, her goal was twofold: to provide stimulating adult day care to seniors and to give their caregivers a reprieve. That was in 1981, and since then, Family Alliance has grown from two clients and two volunteers to a nationally accredited nonprofit organization with a $2.5 million budget, 50 employees, and about 300 clients. That’s in addition to a volunteer board and a wider community outreach. Louise, who has a nursing background and a certification in gerontology, first considered the idea when she noticed some seniors who, instead of living in nursing homes, “could be living at home and doing something during the day,” she says. “The family’s happy, and their quality of life is better.”
an active daily lifestyle for adults ages 55 and older. It provides door-to-door transportation to and from the facility, as well as six hours of activities per day. Those activities include craft projects, current-events discussions, and horticulture therapy, all of which are based on the seniors’ interests and abilities. For dementia clients, Family Alliance uses a Montessori approach, which addresses clients’ individual needs. “We give older adults the ability to socialize,” Louise says. In Family Alliance’s 29 years, the organization has expanded to serve those clients. In 2006, it built a 3,900-square-foot addition to house the dementia program. In 2007, a courtyard and garden area were constructed for the facility’s horticulture-therapy program. “We’re expanding programs to take in more people,” Louise says. “We’re also expanding outreach counseling and a community-support team to help with finances and medicine.”
The cost also happens to be lower. Whereas nursing This expansion has been particularly challenging in homes can command annual fees of $75,000 and a struggling economy. “We’ve grown in clients but assisted living centers can cost $33,000, Louise says, have decreased employees because the government fees for five days a week at Family Alliance run a significantly lower $14,000 per year—and that’s without reduced our funding by 50 percent,” Louise says. “We all do more with less.” The organization receives public assistance. In addition, Family Alliance also funding from 13 different sources, including private, finds public funding for its clients’ needs. federal, and public sources. It also is counting on between $150,000 and $200,000 in foundation The organization serves a variety of older adults— grants. “We do everything we can to raise additional those with mental-health issues, medical issues, and funds,” Louise adds. dementia. “We do not refuse any person at the getgo,” Louise says. “If more than one [staff member] What makes Family Alliance particularly unique needs to help them, then we talk to the family about among caregivers is that all of its services—councaring for them.” seling, education, community, and psychiatry—are housed in one central location. But perhaps the most What Family Alliance offers through its services is
Family Alliance, Inc.
“We’re expanding programs to take in more people. We’re also expanding outreach counseling and a community support team to help with finances and medicine.” Carol Louise, Executive Director
Photo: Robin F. Pendergrast Photography, Inc.
Family Alliance, Inc.
$2.5 million: annual budget • 50: employees • 1981: company was founded $1,000: budget for founding Family Alliance in 1981 • 300: clients
BY THE NUMBERS
healthy habits: Family Alliance’s mission is to assist adults in achieving resiliency in their communities, and to promote independence by providing day programming, as well as in-home and on-site mental-health and dementia services. Photo: Robin F. Pendergrast Photography, Inc.
PEKIN I N S UR A N C E
Pekin Insurance Congratulations to Family Alliance. We wish you continued success!
unique part of the organization is its recently instituted partnership to provide equine therapy, which allows seniors to ride and groom horses. “Nonverbal clients started talking, and at the end of a week, they remembered the name of the horse,” Louise says. This is a big deal, she adds, because those clients struggle with extreme memory loss. As Louise and the other administrators of Family Alliance look toward the future, the inevitable resolution of the Medicare bill adds an unusual wild card. “If the government passes the Medicare bill, we are an organization that complies with all the certifications,” she says. “If it passes, our doors would be bursting at the seams.”
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Central Boston Elder Services
A Diversified Support System cbes provides compassionate care through strategic planning CLIENT PROFILE The following shows the average number of clients served at CBES each month. 8,000
community ties: Members of the CBES team visit clients’ homes to provide such services as food preparation and personal care. This one-on-one contact fosters a support system unique to CBES.
by Sheena Harrison
provide such services as food preparation, houses America’s baby boomers continue to age, keeping, and personal care. Since the agency serves the demand for senior healthcare is expected a diverse clientele that comes from more than to grow nationwide. Central Boston Elder 20 countries, Hardaway says CBES has worked to Services (CBES) is a prime example of an agency find contractors who can cater to clients’ cultural that is working to fill the needs of seniors. Founded and religious sensitivities. This includes finding care in 1974, CBES typically provides services to seniors providers who can speak clients’ languages without who have low incomes and who need assistance to help from translators, or companies that can prepare live at home, rather than move into a nursing home. The growing need for in-home care can be seen in the food that meets the requirements of various religions. “We are now a very diverse society,” Hardaway says. CBES’s growth trajectory over the last decade. “And in order for us to be culturally competent and adequately service our customers, we need to be able “What we’re trying to do here is to give people to talk with them directly.” choices about where they get their care,” says executive director Catherine Hardaway, who came to Providing care is the number-one priority for CBES. CBES 11 years ago. “If someone wants to stay in the Rather than competing with other home-care agencommunity, they should be able to do that.” cies, CBES collaborates with two senior-service organizations in the Boston area—Ethos and Boston Hardaway’s agency is the largest of the Aging Senior Home Care. The three agencies, called the Service Access Points that serve seniors throughout ElderCare Alliance, share referrals, and have a joint Massachusetts. Contractors visit clients’ homes to
ETHNIC DISTRIBUTION stragety 9% to Hispanic share
cultural connection 28%
Since the agency serves Black White a diverse clientele from more than 20 countries, Hardaway says CBES has worked to find contractors who can cater to clients’ cultural and religious sensitivities. This includes finding care providers who can speak clients’ languages without help from translators. “In order for us to be culturally competent and adequately service our customers,” Hardaway says, “We need to be able to talk with them directly.”
Central Boston Elder Services
referral hotline called Boston ElderINFO. Together, the organizations offer numerous care services to the senior population in the area. But while the need for CBES’s services is growing, the agency has felt the effects of a national recession. The nonprofit is funded primarily through state and Medicaid funding, which provides limited reimbursement and has been cut due to recent state budget deficits in Massachusetts. As a result, CBES has had to cut $2.2 million from its budget since fall 2008. Despite the cuts, though, CBES has been able to shoulder some of the budgetary cuts because of a $12 million reserve fund, as well as by working to save administrative costs at the agency. Hardaway says although CBES has incurred some losses, the agency has tried to maintain quality of care and has made no staffing cuts except through attrition. Hardaway says CBES hopes to expand its level of care in 2010 by opening a housing facility next to the agency’s offices that will include residential units for low-income seniors. CBES has
received city, state, and federal tax credits to help develop the residential building. The facility will allow CBES to provide more care options to clients who need 24-hour assistance and can no longer live at home. “This isn’t going to solve the problem of homelessness in Massachusetts, but it will provide us with another service that we can provide to clients,” Hardaway says. Hardaway believes each of the services that CBES provides help improve quality of life for Boston-area seniors, and she is hopeful that the agency’s work will help to increase awareness of helping seniors live more active lives. “I grew up in the South, and our elders are respected and revered,” Hardaway says. “Somewhere along the line, we lost that. I almost feel like our elders are a forgotten population, and I would like to raise the consciousness of our society about our seniors, who are vulnerable.” With the expansion of its facilities, CBES looks to do just that. [P] A message from Universal Benefit Plans Universal Benefit Plans is proud to partner with Central Boston Elder Services, offering both a stateof-the art HRIS system and concierge-level benefitbrokerage services. To see real examples of cost savings and benefits enhancements for other area nonprofits, visit our Web site at www.universalbenefitplans.com.
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Congratulations to CBES for making a difference. Senior Whole Health (SWH) and Central Boston Elder Care (CBES) have a common mission: maximizing the quality of life, security, and independence of elders. SWH is a progressive health plan covering all Medicare, MassHealth (Medicaid), and Medicare Prescription Drug benefits in one package; this includes CBES services. SWH members keep their primary care doctor and have 24/7 telephone access to a SWH Personal Care Team that includes a Nurse Care Manager. They also have a CBES case manager assigned to them. Together, the dedicated staff of CBES and SWH work as a team to make sure members get the services they need and deserve.
BY THE NUMBERS
Type of company
$16.2 million: average annual sales revenue • 85: employees • 1998: SNVC was founded 80%: SNVC staff-retention rate • 2008: SNVC started The Aurora Foundation
corporate charity: Team “SNVC Success” supports the March of Dimes Walk for Babies. The team has raised more than $21,000 since it began walking for the cause in 2006.
Profits for the Community ceo of SNVC, tom dewitt, supports higher education for the nation’s veterans with the newly-founded aurora foundation by Chris Allsop
t the tail end of one of the worst global recessions in history, how many companies are in a position to say that they are debtfree, hiring, and are ambitious enough to formulate a growth plan to double in size over the next five years? Not very many; but Fairfax, Virginia-based SNVC is certainly in that position. SNVC president and CEO Tom DeWitt modestly plays down his company’s achievements, but it’s a
success that hasn’t gone unnoticed or unrewarded. Dewitt, an army veteran, formed SNVC with a partner in 1998. Offering program-management and technology-engineering services, SNVC was originally envisioned as a five-man consultancy, with each partner handling his own clients. However, a Y2K project for the IRS brought the need for more staff, and within six months of inception, DeWitt had to take charge of laying the necessary infrastructure for SNVC to handle its rapid growth.
“The success that SNVC talks about is not solely ours but also that of those companies that supply services to us.” Tom DeWitt, President & CEO
stragety to share
standardize preformance SNVC has implemented a six-figure investment in workforce-training initiatives to be implemented over the next five years. The investment is intended to standardize the way the company’s employees deliver its services. As an additional standardization measure, SNVC achieved the ISO 9001:2008 certification in recognition of its standardized best practices.
“Y2K was the catalyst for adding employees,” DeWitt explains, “but the growth actually came as people began to realize that this small company was providing really good services. We began to expand into more areas, got a couple of big contracts, and it just took off overnight.”
nies that supply services to us.”
DeWitt has brought that benevolent mentality into many aspects of his business life, chief among them The Aurora Foundation. In 2008, SNVC created The Aurora Foundation to help address the needs of veterans as they take advantage of the new GI Bill and return to complete a college degree. As a veteran Much of SNVC’s work to date has been with the himself, DeWitt attributes his own business success Department of Defense (DOD), an obvious choice considering the CEO’s veteran background. However, to his academic and military career. Today, The Aurora Foundation is focused on its mission to “enable winning and retaining government contracts isn’t easy. “There is no brand-name recognition for a com- veterans to successfully graduate from college and enter the workforce.” pany like SNVC,” DeWitt says. “An awful lot of hard work goes into making sure that our clients understand exactly what kind of value our services bring to “There will come a time when [SNVC] will not be them and why those services would be different than small,” explains Beth Miller-Herholtz, SNVC’s vice president of corporate communications. “So the focus others offered by competing companies.” is really on delivering the results that provide value. I know that the word ‘value’ is used a lot these days, but SNVC is anticipating a market value of somewhere above $18 million at the close of the current financial I’d like to stress that it is something we are very focused on. We’re focused on managing that value and measuryear. Its current solvency and continued growth is a ing that value so that we can leverage it in other places.” credit to the management team and a successful mix The value of SNVC directly correlates to the success of of aggressively chasing new business while adhering The Aurora Foundation, since SNVC remains one of to a fiscally conservative agenda. However, DeWitt the foundation’s most significant financial contributors. is quick to spread the credit. “There are many commercial businesses we work with every day that help According to Miller-Herholtz, The Aurora Foundation ensure that the basic needs of the business are taken was officially established in 2008, when it received care of,” he says. “And the success that SNVC talks about is not solely ours but also that of those compa- its 501(c)(3) status from the IRS. The experienced
Our innovative thinking delivers results. Our results are realized in saving time & money. Our value is evident in our Performance. board of directors consists not only of veterans but also of directors of other nonprofits. Employees of SNVC, along with a team of volunteers, keep The Aurora Foundation running on a day-to-day basis.
Our Value. Your Success.
The Aurora Foundation’s mission is to work with higher-education institutions to create the necessary programs that veterans need to successfully graduate college. (Today, studies estimate that less than 10% of veteran students graduate college, compared to the average overall graduation rate of 65%.) The veterans will then be able to enter the workforce by establishing internships with industry and government entities along the way. One of the ways the foundation will measure its success is to follow the veteran students through each year of enrollment, closely evaluating the progress the veteran students make toward graduation. The Aurora Foundation and SNVC are very cognizant of the need to effectively use their funds and grants in the most efficient and responsible manner, ensuring as many dollars are distributed to support its mission as possible. [P]
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Final thoughts Words of wisdom on business, leadership, and the entrepreneurial spirit
“Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.” – Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft
“Good leadership consists of showing average people how to do the work of superior people.” – John D. Rockefeller, founder of the Standard Oil Company “Business opportunities are like buses: there’s always another one coming.” – Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Enterprises
“Motivate them, train them, care about them, and make winners out of them... they’ll treat the customers right. And if customers are treated right, they’ll come back.” – J. W. Marriott Jr., chairman and CEO of Marriott International
“My experience has shown me that the people who are exceptionally good in business aren’t so because of what they know but because of their insatiable need to know more.” – Michael Gerber, founder of E-Myth Worldwide
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Type of company
#1 Health Care Plan in Customer Satisfaction*
Named the #1 fastest growing private company in the U.S. by Inc. Magazine
www.seniorwholehealth.com 116 profile
Senior Whole Healthâ€™s mission is to maximize the quality of life, health, and independence of our elders by providing respectful and comprehensive health coverage.
*According to the 2009 Medicare Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS) of Massachusetts Medicare Advantage Plans.
Marketing guru shares expert advice on creating a lasting brand that will keep clients coming back for more