Stopping hunger Anne Goodman leads the Cleveland Foodbank to serve those in need
breaking down Health care changes
focus on Occupational fraud
get to know Annette Hoelzer
going for gold The Time is Now “The person who really wants to do something finds a way; the other person finds an excuse.”
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As you contemplate your next big move, you might be waiting for the perfect time to take action. Trust me: It will never happen. You know the old adage about excuses? Everybody has them. Perfect timing just doesn’t exist for practically anything in life and business. This risk aversion — the “not-the-right-timing” excuse for not acting — serves as the largest barricade to one’s satisfaction and success. The economic conditions in 2008 seemed like a rational excuse and a logical reason to wait for the perfect — or even just a better — time to start a business. According to the Small Business Administration, the startup rate in the United States declined 12 percent from 2007 to 2010. Small-business failures increased 40
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percent from 2007 to 2010. But some of those startups are among the most successful and fastest-growing companies in the country, as demonstrated by the Inc. 500, the magazine’s list of the fastest-growing privately held companies in the United States. This group of business owners had confidence and courage when others were waiting it out. With personal savings or hefty loans, many took a leap of faith and relied on the strength of their ideas, knowing there was no guarantee besides their responsibility for failure or success. As American businessman Henry Kravis once said, “A real entrepreneur is somebody who has no safety net underneath them.” And as there may not be a fail-safe to an entrepreneurial idea, there likely is
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nothing getting in its way. No guts, no glory. Sometimes it takes a traumatic event to
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On the Inc. 500 list is Sugata Biswas, who longed to start his own business but felt he couldn’t because he had to support his wife and three children. During a business trip, he was in a car accident that killed a colleague — an experience he says “was a reminder of the fact that we don’t have any guarantees.” He launched Cadence Research & Consulting (No. 182 on the list) shortly afterward. “If we keep pushing things off for another day, that day may never come, because we won’t be there to experience it,” Biswas said. So what are you waiting for? There’s no better time than now.
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first person Annette Hoelzer Title: Managing Director, Columbus, Ohio Education: Bachelor’s degree in music from Bowling Green State University; accounting major at The University of Akron; Master of Taxation from Capital University Hometown: Medina, Ohio Year I joined SS&G: 2000, but I joined its predecessor (Greene & Wallace) in 1985.
The word that best describes me: Determined I am a member of: the American Heart Association Board of Directors, the Accounting Advisory Board at Franklin University, treasurer of the Worthington Civic Band, Ohio Society of CPAs, American Institute of CPAs, and the Ohio Pharmacists Association. I’ve been recognized with: a Credit to the Profession award in 2010 from Franklin University for my contributions to the accounting industry. The best part about my job: The people I work with — both my colleagues and my clients. I enjoy sharing my knowledge with my colleagues and clients, but I also learn a lot from them. The best piece of advice I’ve received: is always do your best. Books of note on my shelf: “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff” by Richard Carlson, “Our Golden Rule,” a John H. McConnell book about leadership and management, and I love a good mystery. The biggest challenge I’ve overcome: This may not be the biggest challenge, but it was the first big challenge. When I was 12, I took my horse to the county fair to show him in riding classes. As soon as he backed out of the horse trailer, he flipped over backward and he was out of control. A horse trainer told me I’d never be able to show that horse. That was all it took — never say never. I took my horse home and worked hard in preparation for the next year’s fair. I showed him the next year and won fifth place. I showed him for several years after that, and, eventually, my sister took him to the state fair. This goes back to the word that best describes me — determined. If I could give one piece of advice to executives: Remember where you came from. None of us started at the top. Keep this in mind when dealing with employees. That’s what I liked about John H. McConnell’s book — he wasn’t afraid to roll up his sleeves and “get his hands dirty,” even after he was a multimillionaire executive.
The business leader I admire most: is the late John H. McConnell. He was always down to earth and put others before himself. My business philosophy: If you put clients and colleagues first, you will be rewarded in the end. The greatest invention of the last 10 years: E-readers. You can load all the books you want, anytime, and it’s even easy to read in the dark. I’m most proud of: having a positive impact on others. I hope I never: go blind. My two greatest joys are reading and enjoying nature, neither of which I could do if I were blind. My next goal to be met: When I eventually retire, I’d like to leave behind a legacy for the younger employees. My favorite place is: anywhere outdoors on a nice day in the fall — with bright sunshine and wonderful autumn smells. When I get discouraged, I: think about all the positives in my life, then I have the energy to address the problem at hand and go about it in a different way to find the solution. My attitude toward change is: as long as it is productive and thought out, I embrace it. I like change because I don’t like doing the same things the same way, day after day. I’m inspired by: those who achieve things against great odds. For example, Kyle Maynard, the mountain climber with no arms or legs, climbed to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro. Success is: knowing you have had a positive impact on another human being. j
industry Get ready for change
How to make sure your business is in compliance with the new health care laws
usiness owners who choose to wait before preparing for implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act do so at their own peril. If the results of the November election don’t bring about any significant changes to the landmark health care policy, a lot of work will be required in a short amount of time. “As renewal periods for insurance plans are coming up soon, you want to start thinking about 2014 now,” says Kimberly Flett, director of the retirement plan design and administration department at SS&G. “Start talking to your advisers to develop a plan to be ready when the time comes.” As it stands, when the calendar turns to 2014, companies with more than 50 full-time-equivalent employees will be required to make affordable insurance available to all of those full-time employees. If they fail to do so, they will be assessed a penalty that will not be tax deductible. So what does this mean for the mid-sized business owner?
“As renewal periods for insurance plans are coming up soon, you want to start thinking about 2014 now.” — Kimberly Flett
Get out the calculator If you don’t offer insurance coverage to everyone, you first need to determine if your business exceeds 50 full-time-equivalent employees and, thus, must begin offering coverage to all full-time employees. Defining employees who work at least 30 hours a week as full time, the Affordable Care Act formula is simple: Take the total number of hours worked for a month in your company and divide it by 120 hours. The result is your number of full-time equivalents (FTEs). If the
number exceeds 50 and you haven’t offered insurance to all of your full-time employees, you will have to by the start of 2014 to avoid the penalty. “Those already offering coverage to everyone don’t need to be as worried,” Flett says. “Say you own a restaurant chain and have management employees you offer health insurance to, but you have cooks who also work full time and don’t have the option of purchasing health insurance. Now you have to do those equivalency calculations. If you have more than 50 FTE employees, you have to offer coverage, and it has to be affordable, or you will run into these penalties.” The penalty will be $2,000 per year, multiplied by the number of FTE employees, minus the first 30 employees. For example, if you subtract 30 and end up with 20 full-time-equivalent employees, the penalty would be $40,000 a year for failing to offer affordable coverage. “You definitely want to review the terms of your plan to make sure it is being offered to all employees working more than 30 hours per week,” Flett says.
The big hit States are expected to participate in the Affordable Insurance Exchange to ensure employees without access to affordable insurance through their employers can still get it. If you, as an employer, offer qualifying employees what is considered to be affordable health care insurance and an employee chooses not to take it, you won’t be hit with a penalty. But that employee will be unable to get insurance off the exchange, Flett says. “Subsidies or tax credits are available to certain individuals to help them purchase coverage on the exchange,” Flett says. Uninsured individuals with incomes between 139 and
400 percent of the poverty level will be eligible for tax credits to help offset the cost of purchasing coverage on the exchange. “Suppose the coverage offered to the full-time employees is not deemed affordable under the law, and someone says, ‘I am going to the exchange because it is cheaper.’ If one employee goes out to the exchange to purchase coverage, it subjects the company to a penalty for not offering affordable coverage. It is really forcing employers to make sure that not only are they offering coverage, but that it is affordable.” Under the law, affordable is defined as 9.5 percent or less of the worker’s household income. The calculation is based solely on the cost of individual coverage for that employee. Lest business owners think they are being unfairly put upon, the requirement to have insurance coverage applies to individuals, too. In other words, if you are an employee and your company offers affordable health care or you choose not to get it through the exchange, you will be assessed a penalty on your tax return. “It is either going to force them back to the employer’s plan or they are going to end up paying a penalty,” Flett says.
More changes on the way Other things mid-sized business owners should understand about their obligations under the Affordable Care Act include: j The
age for adult children to be covered under their parents’ plans increased to 26 or older, depending on the state. j The lifetime dollar limit on essential health benefits was eliminated. j The copayment deductible or coinsurance on preventive care, such as a mammograms or high-risk blood pressure screenings, was eliminated. j Pre-existing conditions are now eligible for coverage for children under the age of 19 and for everyone beginning in 2014. j Flexible spending accounts may no longer be used for over-the-counter medication. j The tax penalty on nonqualified withdrawals from a health savings account has been increased from 10 to 20 percent. j The flexible spending cap in 2013 will decrease to $2,500. j For 2013, a Medicare Part A tax will be imposed on individuals making more than $200,000 a year. The Medicare payroll tax on wages over the $200,000 level — $250,000 for couples — will increase from 1.45 to 2.35 percent.
“You can’t favor highly compensated employees with coverage.” — Kimberly Flett
Looking for loopholes? Businesses that operate as part of a control group with several entities operating under the same umbrella for tax purposes may want to consider changing their ownership structure to avoid the ramifications of the Affordable Care Act. “Those companies have to offer the insurance,” Flett says. “So many of them are trying to divvy up their ownership structure so they won’t be a consolidated group. I’ve had employers looking at changing who owns what, especially if it is a family-owned business.” Beyond that, there aren’t many ways out of compliance for mid-sized business owners or any business owners, for that matter. “It doesn’t matter if you’re the sole proprietor; if you’re listed as a C corp, it affects all employers,” Flett says. “There is no particular classification based on whether you are a professional service corporation or a manufacturer.” For companies above the 50 FTE-employee threshold, it’s time to start developing a plan if you don’t already offer coverage to all of your full timers. “You can talk to your tax advisers to see if they have a medical plan expert who can help you understand the implications,” Flett says. “Start at the managementplanning level and form a team of in-house personnel who can form a committee to review the requirements.”
One more thing The Affordable Care Act exempts most health care coverage plans that existed on March 23, 2010, the day the law was enacted, from some of the law’s consumer protections. This preserves consumers’ rights to keep the coverage they already had before health care reform. However, if you have made or plan to make changes to your policy, you will likely lose your grandfathered status and be subject to testing to ensure compliance with the new rules. “You can’t favor highly compensated employees with coverage,” Flett says. “People should check with their carrier to see if they are still grandfathered. If they are thinking of making a change to their platform, they may be subject to some of these testing rules, which could impose an additional cost on the employer.” j Follow any changes or updates to health care reform at www.SSandG.com.
Anne Goodman, right, and Bonnie Barrett, left, lead a team at the Cleveland Foodbank that distributed 34.5 million pounds of food last year.
food fighters How the Cleveland Foodbank unites Northeast Ohio behind a vision for hunger relief
e hadn’t yet witnessed the collapse of Lehman Brothers, or experienced the stock market meltdown, or been affected by the mass layoffs. But in early 2008, one group — food banks — was already feeling the impact of the economic crisis. “I remember so vividly, in the spring of 2008, when gas prices went up for a short period to about $4,” says Anne Goodman, president and CEO of Cleveland Foodbank. “Our distribution went up like crazy for a couple of months in response to that gas crisis.” By 2009, thousands of people across the United States were out of work and watching their unemployment benefits quickly run out. New college graduates joined the growing ranks of the underemployed — a group that, with few job prospects, had to get by without health insurance, a steady paycheck, and, in many cases, food. Food banks saw the consequences firsthand. “Unemployment was such a shock to so many people that they didn’t know where to turn, and they turned to our services,” Goodman says. “It was a whole new face of hunger.”
Photos: Toby Shingleton
Rethinking hunger As the main distributor of food for Northeast Ohio hunger centers, Cleveland Foodbank plays an increasingly important role in Cuyahoga, Lake, Geauga, Ashtabula, Ashland, and Richland counties. Poverty and unemployment in the state remain high, forcing more people than ever to rely on the food bank’s pantries, community kitchen, nutrition programs, and partner agencies for nourishment.
Those served are more than just people living in poverty. Cleveland Foodbank’s mission — to ensure Northeast Ohio communities have the nutritious food they need every day — also touches the state’s growing number of food insecure, those without consistent access to adequate amounts of food. In the six counties served by the food bank, 17.4 percent of the population is considered food insecure. As a result, in 2011, the organization distributed 34.5 million pounds of food to 618 hunger programs, up from 32.9 million pounds in 2010 and 27.3 million pounds in 2009 “You look at somebody who makes $40,000 a year, and you think, ‘Well that’s a good amount of money,’” Goodman says. “But you’ve got rent. You’ve got car insurance. You’ve got gas, electricity, child care. If you don’t have health insurance, you have medical bills for your child. When you are food insecure, if your car breaks down, you don’t have food. Food insecurity is very real above the poverty line. That’s where we come in, and where we have to come in, because no one else is.”
Breaking new ground To have a meaningful impact on hunger in Northeast Ohio, Cleveland Foodbank understands it can’t provide solutions for just today. The organization always looks for opportunities to become more efficient so it can reach more people, whether by streamlining operational processes, updating facilities, or incorporating new technology. Technology is one area the food bank has invested in to help it do more with less, says Bonnie Barrett, the food bank’s vice president and chief financial officer. In
“Unemployment was such a shock to so many people that they didn’t know where to turn, and they turned to our services. It was a whole new face of hunger.” — Anne Goodman, president and CEO, Cleveland Foodbank
a couple of hours to save that kind of money. There is always more volunteer work to be done,” Goodman says.
Closing the meal gap Since its inception in 1979, Cleveland Foodbank has continued to expand its impact on the region. Today, it supports 168 hot meal programs, 231 food pantries, 13 shelters, and 208 other programs for the elderly and children, including community initiatives such as Harvest for Hunger. The food bank also engages approximately 400 local organizations and more than 36,000 financial donors. And it has no plans to rest on its laurels. “We have a sense that there is nothing we can’t do,” Goodman says. “We also have a commitment to our mission that really holds us to a responsibility to always do more and not just more of the same. But how do we reach more people in different ways?” Research by Feeding America, the national umbrella organization for food banks, examines the problem of “the meal gap,” the difference between what food people have and what they are lacking in each county. Goodman says food banks can help fill this gap by looking at not just the quantity but also the quality of food their communities require — specifically, healthy, nutritious meals. In the last several years, Cleveland Foodbank has dramatically increased its distribution of produce in proportion to prepared foods and shelf-stable meals. This year, it will distribute 11 million pounds of fruit and vegetables, a 27 percent increase from 2011. Produce now makes up one-third of the organization’s food distribution and is expected to increase even further. The food bank also is focusing more on nutrition by making simple swaps to provide healthier options. Switching to brown rice instead of white rice, using low-sodium vegetables, and distributing fruit packed in water instead of sugar water are small changes that have a big impact on the health of the population, Goodman says.
Photos: Toby Shingleton
her nine years with the organization, Barrett has seen Cleveland Foodbank institute many new systems and processes to save resources, money, and man-hours. For example, it uses hand-held radio frequency scanners to streamline the way food products move through the warehouse, and it employs an enterprise-integrated business system to simplify operations. Last year, it also instituted a voice-directed pick system for warehouse workers. Using headsets, pickers receive voice commands telling them where to go in the warehouse, where to pick the product, and what to pick based on the day’s food orders. In its quest for continuous improvement, the organization also looks to other food banks for inspiration and new ideas. “The food-banking network is all about collaborating with other food banks to see what they’ve done to improve their operations,” Barrett says. “There is no competition. Food banks are extremely willing to share their ideas and best practices.” Previously, the organization’s kitchen was located in the basement of a building on Cleveland’s near-west side. But then it invested in a new building on the east side, which includes a commercial kitchen for preparing meals. Since moving to the new site in 2005, Cleveland Foodbank has doubled its distribution. Working with Cleveland Community Kitchen, its volunteers produce thousands of meals every day for member agencies that supply food to the community, including programs that serve children and seniors. And during the summer months, feeding programs boost production at the kitchen to as many as 12,000 meals a day. “We are feeding more people, and we have the ability to do it right here from our kitchen far less expensively than could be done by any catering operations,” Goodman says. Staying current and innovative is also about finding ways to do things better, Barrett says. The more food banks can increase efficiencies, the more food they can provide to those who need it. And while these investments in infrastructure have been critical, volunteers ultimately play the biggest role in driving efficient food distribution. Last year, more than 10,000 volunteers contributed more than 56,000 hours to help prepare food, serve on committees, and lend their time to the Cleveland Foodbank, in addition to the hundreds of businesses, agencies, and local organizations that support its distribution and fundraising efforts. Their efforts have saved the organization more than $1 million in labor costs. “It’s fantastic to think about everybody putting in
Many of these nutrition programs also target the group most vulnerable to food insecurity — children. With more than one in six children living in a household with food insecurity, according to Feeding America, the food bank’s kids’ nutrition programs help fill a critical meal gap often left by schools or at home. The organization has developed programs to provide food when they need it most. Kids who rely on school lunch and breakfast programs can get a nutritious meal after school as well as through the Kids Cafes program or the BackPack for Kids weekend program, in which they receive backpacks filled with food to take home. During the summer, the food bank also runs the Summer Food Service program, which delivers more than 800 daily meals to school-age children who depend on school lunches for food during the year. “It takes a little more effort to run those kinds of programs, but we’ve reached kids who aren’t being cared for, and that’s a tremendous accomplishment,” Goodman says.
Building a movement In today’s economic climate, even food banks aren’t immune to struggle. Rising food costs are an ongoing challenge, and the amount of food many food banks receive from the U.S. Department of Agriculture — currently accounting for about 23 percent of Cleveland Foodbank’s distribution — has steadily decreased in recent years. In the meantime, organizations leading the fight against hunger must add new resources and advocates to keep up with the growing demand. Goodman and Barrett know the food bank’s success in the future will be rooted in teamwork. “There are many issues we face as a community and as a country that need to be addressed, and hunger is probably the most basic,” Goodman says. “Building a movement around this issue is a priority, partially because the federal and state governments have so much ability to make a difference through both food and food stamps.” Because many people who are food insecure are living above the poverty line, they may not qualify for government assistance in the form of food stamps. However, Goodman says food stamps and other Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programs are an ideal way to feed the food-insecure population. “It’s ultimately a better way for people to eat because they are going to the grocery store, buying the food they want, and stimulating the economy at the same time,” she says. “Every $1 that comes from the food stamp program generates $1.76 in economic activity because
“Technology is one area the Foodbank has invested in to help it do more with less.” — Bonnie Barrett, vice president and CFO, Cleveland Foodbank
it is employing somebody at the grocery store and employing somebody who made that can or box of food.” The problem is people who are eligible for assistance don’t always know it, and they aren’t always able to access it, Goodman says. To address that challenge, the food bank has significantly stepped up its food stamp outreach. Through its Advocacy Network, the Cleveland Foodbank taps several thousand volunteers to mobilize outreach efforts on the ground, reach out to legislators, and build support among decision-makers. It also relies heavily on its dedicated board members who volunteer to lead hunger initiatives. “We get to see the best in the community — the most incredibly generous people from the $5 donor up to the weekly volunteer, somebody who brings in the food drive from their elementary school — just extraordinary people from throughout Northeast Ohio,” Goodman says. “It’s a community that doesn’t want to let anyone go hungry. And that’s part of what makes Cleveland Foodbank so extraordinary.” Making hunger about more than just rhetoric is probably the biggest challenge. As Cleveland Foodbank continues to builds its network of supporters, it often invites state legislators and government decision-makers to attend its food distribution days, when they can see the true impact their decisions have on Northeast Ohio hunger. “We have to show them what it means to real people,” Goodman says. “The relatively small investment they make in us has a huge impact elsewhere, in helping kids be able to learn in school, and in helping kids be healthy.” j How to Reach: Cleveland Foodbank, 216-738-2265 or www.clevelandfoodbank.org
focus on Preventing fraud in the workplace
raud—specifically, occupational fraud—is a problem in the United States and around the globe, costing a typical organization 5 percent of its revenue each year. According to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners’ 2012 Report to the Nations, this translates to a median loss of $140,000 per case and a projected annual global fraud loss of more than $3.5 trillion. But despite the hazard, many organizations fail to focus on prevention because of a prevailing mentality of, “It can’t happen to me,” says Lewis Baum, a director of SS&G Parkland, the business consulting affiliate of SS&G. “People trust the bulk of their operations to a certain employee because they believe that, while fraud happens in other companies, it can’t happen in their own,” he says. “But it can happen in any business, and the higher the position of the employee, the larger the loss that is typically incurred.” One common type of fraud, according to Baum, is a billing scheme, often involving a fictitious company, typically a shell that has been set up for the sole purpose of committing fraud. Other types of fraud include check tampering, larceny, skimming, payroll or commission schemes, and financial statement altering. And while you may think it is easy to detect, the average fraud occurs for 18 months before it is discovered. Watch for employees who: j Have high personal debt. j Have close associations with vendors or customers. j Have a strong initiative to beat the system. j Have undue family or peer pressure, i.e., a child with an expensive illness or a need to “keep up with the Joneses.” j Are living beyond their means. j Feel unrecognized for job performance. However, just because an employee exhibits one of these characteristics does not necessarily mean he or she is committing fraud, Baum says. For example, while someone making $40,000 a year probably shouldn’t be driving a Mercedes, it is important to consider whether the employee could have inherited money or married someone with a high income.
It is also critical to have checks and balances in place. Consider these steps: Conduct fraud awareness and training for everyone from upper management to entry-level employees. Organizations should have an anonymous tip line for reporting fraud or suspicious behavior, and employees should be made aware of their role in prevention and detection. Review bank statements and cash activity. This often is not done by owners. Owners should go through these records each month and look for anything unusual. Administer background checks. Baum recommends these for all incoming employees and those who receive promotions to ensure no red flags arise. Implement a multilayered approval system. The person authorizing checks shouldn’t be the person signing them. There should be multiple people involved to substantiate and validate payments. Audit your financials. While audits are not a catchall, they are a deterrent. Employees who see one taking place will be less likely to risk committing fraud. If an audit is not feasible, consider speaking to a certified fraud examiner who can identify high-risk areas and design specific procedures. Make vacation mandatory. Many times, perpetrators don’t take vacation because they are afraid the person who takes over their responsibilities will discover their fraud. Similarly, cross-train employees and ensure passwords are linked to individuals so you know who is accessing your system. Ask employees to sign annual disclosure statements. These should include all employees confirming they don’t have conflicts of interest with customers, vendors, etc. Analyze electronic data. Look for irrational relationships such as an employee with no withholding taxes or employees who have the same address or employer identification number as vendors. While fraud happens more than many business owners think, it can be deterred when you keep these tips in mind. You can help ensure your business isn’t one of the many that fall victim to fraud. j
the last word with Gary Shamis
What is a NexGen strategy? Is it something you should be concerned about? And how important is it for the future success of your business?
exGen stands for next generation. Unless you have been hiding under a rock for the past few years, it is pretty easy to see a profound difference between the older generation (which encompasses many of our clients) and the next generation of employees of your business. My good friend and an expert on understanding the next generation, Rebecca Ryan (of Next Generation Consulting), sums it up nicely with the title of her first book, “Live First, Work Second.” This philosophy is generally the exact opposite of the older, Midwestern generation’s belief that you work first then everything else comes. This is simply the set of realities we all find in today’s workplace. It does not matter who is right or wrong, although I do admit I think the NexGen has the better idea. When it comes to work/life balance, what were we thinking? We need the NexGen today, and we will need it in the future to succeed our businesses. So I believe every business should have an understanding of what is important and what matters to its NexGen employees.
“We need the NexGen today, and we will need it in the future to succeed our businesses.”
From this knowledge, a contemporary and realistic workplace and employment experience can be created to provide the most beneficial environment to maximize productivity for your company and provide the right opportunity and balance for your NexGen employees. We at SS&G spent a year working with Ryan on understanding our workplace, our workers, and what we needed to do to build the right firm to meet their needs and ours. The process and the results were transformative for our organization. We have reduced our turnover to 25 percent of the standard for our industry, and we have been chosen among the Best Employers in Ohio for seven consecutive years. Companies are chosen for this great designation based on interviews with workers across the state. Part of our NexGen strategy intersects with the succession strategy for our firm. We plan to succeed our practice to our next generation. We want these employees ready, able, and willing to accept the responsibility. And what better way than to create a business environment that fits their needs and not just ours. j
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Published on Oct 23, 2012