Page 1

Mixed Confidence: Consumer optimism varies across the state. Page 2.









Vol. XXVI • No. 29






July 20, 2012 • $2.00


Envisage grows rapidly

Profit slips 16 percent at Alliance Financial in Q2


Donald Retz, owner and creative director of retz advertising + design in the company’s new headquarters. See story, page 3.


ITHACA — A local software development company has added more than 100 employees in the past three years, and by the end of 2012 expects to reach more than $15 million in revenue. Around 2009, Envisage Information Systems, which provides recordkeeping systems and other software products for the retirement industry, had about 30 employees and generated $5 million in revenue. But some new federal regulations that emerged that year started the firm on a path to rapid growth, President and CEO Steff McGonagle says. The rules applied to 403(b) retirement plans. They’re similar to 401(k) plans, but used by colleges, hospitals, and other nonprofits. The new regulations mandated new levels of accountability and required a consolidated overall picture of what was




SYRACUSE — Ongoing low interest rates pushed profit lower at Alliance Financial Corp. (NASDAQ: ALNC) in the second quarter, despite growth in the banking company’s loan portfolio. Syracuse–based Alliance Financial, the holding company for Alliance Bank, earned $2.9 million, or 61 cents a share, in the quarter, down 16 percent See ALLIANCE, page 9

See ENVISAGE, page 11

New York manufacturing activity rises in July BY RICK SELTZER JOURNAL STAFF


Envisage Information Systems employees work in a company common area.

anufacturing activity in New York picked up some speed in July after a deceleration in the previous month, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Empire State Manufacturing Survey. The general business conditions index

in the survey, which was released July 16, jumped 5.1 points to 7.4. That marked a reversal in course from June, when the index plunged 14.8 points. In July, 32.1 percent of survey respondents reported improving business conditions, while 24.8 percent said conditions worsened. The other 43.1 percent indicated that conditions stayed the same as last month.

The rest of the Empire State survey’s current indicators were mixed. The neworders index, which measures the number of new orders that manufacturers received, tumbled into negative territory by declining 4.9 points to -2.7. It is the first time that index has been negative since November 2011. Yet a one-month drop in the new-orders See MANUFACTURING, page 5













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2 • The Central New York Business Journal


July 20, 2012

Syracuse consumer confidence falls in Q2 BY RICK SELTZER

Pathfinder Bancorp declares quarterly dividend of 3 cents a share OSWEGO — Thomas W. Schneider, president/CEO of Pathfinder Bancorp, Inc. (NASDAQ: PBHC), announced that the banking company has declared a cash dividend of 3 cents per share on the company’s common stock for the fiscal quarter ending June 30. The dividend is payable to all shareholders of record on July 13, and will be paid on Aug. 1. The dividend is the same amount that Pathfinder has paid every quarter since May 2009. Pathfinder Bancorp is the mid-tier holding company of Pathfinder Bank, a New York chartered savings bank headquartered in Oswego with eight full-service offices in its market areas of Oswego and Onondaga County. In the first quarter, ending March 31, Pathfinder reported net income of $529,000, or 16 cents a share, up from $426,000, or 12 cents, in the first quarter of 2011.

New York potato acreage planted increases 3 percent this year New York potato growers planted an estimated 17,000 acres of potatoes this year according to King Whetstone, director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service, New York Field Office. That’s up 3 percent from 2011. Acres for harvest are forecast at 16,500, up 2 percent from last year, according to the field office. U.S. area planted for fall potatoes in 2012 is estimated at 1 million acres, up 5 percent from the 2011 crop year. Harvested area forecast at 990,800 acres, is up 6 percent from 2011, according to the USDA. In Idaho, planted acreage is at the highest level since 2007. In Washington, planted acreage is the highest since 2000.

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 The 3 CNY regions posted declines in consumer confidence in the second quarter 79.3





Q2 ’12


Q1 ’12

Q2 ’12

Q4 ’11

Q1 ’12

Q2 ’12

Q4 ’11


Q1 ’12

Q2 ’12

Q1 ’12

Q4 ’11

Q2 ’12

Q1 ’12

Q4 ’11


68.3 63.4






Q2 ’12


70.7 66.1

Q4 ’11

65.9 65.8

77.6 78.7

Q1 ’12

70.8 72.2

Q4 ’11




Q2 ’12

SENECA FALLS — Maryann Young and her son David Young, both natives of Central New York, are opening the Young Agency, a new full-service real estate and propertymanagement agency serving Central and Western New York. The office is headquartered in Seneca Falls with a satellite office in Amherst. The Young Agency (www. team says it has a combined 14 years of experience in the industry and is a multiple-listing agency. The firm’s office is located at 314 Fall St. in Seneca Falls.


entral New York consumers grew wary of opening their wallets in the second quarter of 2012, according to an index from the Siena (College) Research Institute (SRI) that showed declining willingness to spend in the region. Overall consumer confidence in the Syracuse metropolitan statistical area (MSA) dropped 2.7 points to 68.6. The area ranked seventh in confidence out of nine MSAs in New York State. It remained below the SRI index’s breakeven point, which is just above 76. The break-even point is the reading at which consumers express an equal amount of optimism and pessimism. Index results above the point indicate mostly optimistic consumers, while results below the point reflect prevalent pessimism. The Binghamton and Utica MSAs joined Syracuse in losing consumer confidence. Overall confidence slipped 0.1 points in Binghamton to 65.8, and it tumbled 4.9 points in Utica to 63.4. Binghamton ranked eighth in the state in consumer confidence. Utica ranked ninth. Only one other MSA in New York State lost overall confidence. New York City’s consumer confidence fell 2.2 points to 79.3. However, the city still managed to maintain the top confidence level in the state. The five remaining metropolitan areas were all home to increasing overall con-

Local Areas Lag

Q4 ’11

Real-estate firm, the Young Agency, opens in Seneca Falls


Q1 ’12

News of note for and about Central New York businesses



fidence. That leaves quarter-to-quarter results for the state as a whole looking like a mixed bag, according to Douglas Lonnstrom, professor of statistics and finance at Siena College and SRI founding director. “It’s kind of like we’re moving laterally here,” he says. “And I don’t see anything in the infrastructure that’s going to cause us to dramatically go up or down. We just seem to be drifting along right here.” Albany hosted the state’s largest increase in overall consumer confidence, 3.4 points to 78.7. Meanwhile, confidence climbed by 1.4 points in both Buffalo and the Mid-Hudson region. It moved up to 72.2 points in Buffalo and 70.2 in the Mid-

Hudson MSA. Overall confidence crept up 1.1 points in Rochester to 78.7. It increased 0.4 points in Long Island to 73.5. While Syracuse, Binghamton, and Utica lagged behind the rest of the state in quarter-to-quarter comparisons, all nine of New York’s MSAs have experienced confidence gains from a year ago, Lonnstrom says. “Some of them are modest, and Syracuse is one of those — up about 7 percent from a year ago,” he says. “Some are up quite a bit. Binghamton is up 20 percent.” In Utica, consumer confidence has increased by 8 percent since the second See CONFIDENCE, page 11

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The Central New York Business Journal • 3

July 20, 2012

retz advertising + design draws inspiration from new home BY RICK SELTZER JOURNAL STAFF

SYRACUSE — Donald Retz says his firm’s new headquarters on Syracuse’s Burnet Avenue is an ideal backdrop for the company. “Creatively, it’s inspiring to us,� says Retz, owner and creative director of retz advertising + design. “I love the noise of Interstate 690. It clears my head. It feels like you’re in Manhattan. For me, it makes me think a little bit better.� The company moved into 3,000 square feet of space at 128 Burnet Ave. at the beginning of May. The location, which is next to the highway, is easy for clients to access, according to Retz. It is in a former factory that was originally constructed in the 1890s, giving it some interesting visual cues, he adds. “I think the overall feel of it, the brick walls, the light, the stained concrete floors, that kind of industrial look really did it for us,� Retz says. His company relocated its headquarters from 8051 Cazenovia Road in Manlius because its lease was expiring. Retz opted to move the firm out of the Manlius location, which was a converted house where it leased 1,500 square feet, because he wanted a more central location with extra space, he says. The marketing firm currently employs five people, in addition to Retz. It also has an intern working at its headquarters. Retz eventually wants to expand to about 10 total

! !

Donald Retz, owner and creative director of retz advertising + design, in the company’s new headquarters RICK SELTZER/THE CENTRAL NEW YORK BUSINESS JOURNAL

employees. He has no plans for adding new workers imminently, though. The company’s hiring will be dictated by how quickly it lands new projects and clients, Retz says. Retz declined to share revenue totals for the firm, but says it is targeting 25 percent revenue growth in 2012. “We’ve been extensively pursuing a lot of new business across the region and in New York City,� Retz says. Additionally, retz advertising + design is negotiating with a potential client in Washington, D.C., he continues. And it is

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in the process of working with a winery in Italy. The firm’s services include branding and public relations, as well as print, television, online, and interactive marketing. It works with medical, manufacturing, and nonprofit clients. Other clients are in the real-estate investment, consumer-electronics, and wine and spirits industries. Clients have been impressed by the marketing company’s new headquarters, according to Retz. “So far our clients love coming here,� he says. “Our clients in Syracuse needed it to

be easy to get over here, and some of them walk over.� Little work was necessary to prepare the Burnet Avenue space to hold retz advertising + design’s headquarters. The firm’s employees only had to clean the space and paint it, Retz says. The company will likely have some new desks installed, and it may eventually modify the space’s floor plan, he adds. It does not yet have a cost estimate for that work. The firm will probably ask its landlord, Christopher Clemans, to build any new desks using reclaimed lumber, according to Retz. Clemans founded the custom-cabinet and furniture manufacturer CabFab, which owns the Burnet Avenue building where retz advertising + design moved its headquarters. CabFab occupies space in the structure, although it lists its address as 124 Burnet Ave. “We have to give props to Chris,� John Taborosi, retz advertising + design’s director of business development and operations, says of Clemans. “He refurbished this building with energy efficiency in mind. The ceiling is insulated, there are replacement windows, and we’ve got radiant heat in the floor.�

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4 • The Central New York Business Journal

July 20, 2012

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than a quarter of H-1B visa requests in the Syracuse metropolitan area in 2010-2011, a new report from the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program found. Brookings released the report, titled “The Search for Skills: Demand for H-1B Immigrant Workers in U.S. Metropolitan Areas,” on July 18. H-1B visas allow employers to hire skilled foreign workers for temporary employment in specialized occupations. Brookings did not analyze the number of visas that were granted by the federal government, according to Jill Wilson, a senior research analyst at Brookings’ Metropolitan Policy Program and co-author of the report. Its report focused on demand, she says. “This is visa requests from employers, not the number granted,” Wilson says. In Syracuse, employers such as colleges and universities, which are designated “uncapped” employers, made 25.5 percent of all requests for H-1B visas on average in 2010 and 2011. That means the region had the 18th highest portion of uncapped-employer visa requests out of 106 areas Brookings examined. Nationally, 10 percent of requests originate from such employers, the institution estimated. The “uncapped” designation stems from federal regulations on the number of H-1B visas that can be granted each fiscal year. Uncapped employers — which include higher-education institutions or related nonprofit entities, nonprofit research entities, and governmental research entities — are not subject to caps on the number of visas that can be granted nationwide. Private firms are bound by those caps and are referred to as “capped” employers. Currently, the government will only grant a total of 85,000 H-1B visas in a year to all the capped employers in the country. Total requests for H-1B visas in 20102011 averaged 335 in the Syracuse area, according to Brookings. The region ranked 85th in requests in the report. The top H-1B-requesting area was New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, where employers asked for 52,921 of the See H1B, page 6

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of 2011, and are expected to be up 5 percent for the full calendar year—values slightly lower than what were reported in last July’s survey. In the current survey, the median respondent indicated a 2 percent increase in the number

7.4, its lowest level since mid-2009. The prices received index inched up three points to 3.7. Employment levels climbed higher, with the employment index rising six points to 18.5, while the average workweek index fell three points to

from 2.3 to 7.4, suggesting that conditions improved modestly over the month. About a third of The respondents reported betterJournal • 5 Central New York Business conditions, while a quarter saw them worsen. The new orders index fell below zero for the ďŹ rst time since November 2011, declining down 1.9 points 13.6. The future ďŹ ve points to -2.7toand indicating a shipments index ticked up 2.4 points to 14.8. slight decrease in orders. However, Manufacturers anticipated a lower level theunfilled shipments index rose ďŹ ve points of orders in six months. The future to 10.3, indicating increase unfilled-orders indexanclimbed 2.1inpoints in July but did The not move outorders of negative terrishipments. unďŹ lled tory, in points at -6.2. to -13.6. The indexchecking fell eight Delivery times willwas be slightly lower, according delivery time index to the survey’s future delivery-time index. lower at -1.2, while the inventories It plummeted 11.3 points to -12.4. And the index inventories rose out of index negative territory future stayed negative deto a level of zero, spite increasing by suggesting 5.6 points. Itthat registered -9.9. inventory levels held steady over expect to pay and charge higher theFirms month.

MANUFACTURING: The future general business conditions index inched down 2.9 points to 20.2 Continued from page 1

index is not alarming, according to Randall Wolken, president of the Manufacturers Association of Central New York. “It just slipped barely into negative territory, but I’m not sure it’s going to stay there,� he says. “If the other indicators were all declining, that would be a concern. But you still have shipments increasing and some good news in pricing.� Shipments were on the rise, as the survey’s shipments index rose 5.5 points to 10.3. Inflation in the prices that manufacturers paid slowed in July, while the prices they received increased, according to the survey. Its prices-paid index dipped 12.2 points to 7.4, and its prices received index increased 2.7 points to 3.7. “It’s the lowest level since 2009 for prices paid,� Wolken says. “Manufacturers are getting a bit of a breather for input prices.� At the same time, unfilled orders declined, according to the unfilled-orders index, which moved down 8.4 points to -13.6. Delivery times also decreased, with the index measuring them slipping by 1.2 points to -1.2. The inventories index, meanwhile, showed inventories holding steady. It registered 0, up 8.3 points from June. Manufacturers added employees without cutting back on workers’ hours in July, the New York Fed found. The number of employees index registered 18.5, up 6.2 points

General Business Conditions Seasonally adjusted Diffusion index 40 30 20 10 0 -10 -20 -30 -40






from last month. The average employeeworkweek index notched 0, which was a decline of 3.1. Still, it showed the length of the average workweek was essentially unchanged from June.

Future expectations

The survey’s forward-looking indicators, which measure expectations for a time six months in the future, showed manufacturers continuing to harbor a positive outlook, according to Wolken. “I think there are still some anxieties out there,� he says. “It’s an election year. There are some uncertainties about Europe






— those things probably cause people to be less optimistic. Despite all of that, they remain overall optimistic.� The future general business conditions index inched down 2.9 points to 20.2. It has been sliding steadily since January. However, the index remains firmly entrenched in positive territory. In July, 37.5 percent of respondents predicted better conditions in six months, compared to 17.3 percent who anticipated worse conditions. Remaining respondents predicted conditions will remain the same. Among the other forward-looking indicators, the future new-orders index edged

prices, the survey found. The future pricespaid index rose 1.8 points to 35.8, and the future prices-received index eased by 1.5 Continued points to 16.1. The future number-of-employees index plunged 10.3 points to 6.2. The future average employee-workweek index turned negative, falling 7 points to -4.9. Even so, many manufacturers remained committed to capital expenditures and technology spending. The future capital-expenditures index ticked down 1.9 points to 19.8, and the future technology-spending index added 6.2 points to 18.5. The New York Fed polls a set pool of about 200 manufacturing executives in the state for its monthly survey. About 100 executives typically respond, and the Fed seasonally adjusts data. ď ą Contact Seltzer at

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6 • The Central New York Business Journal

July 20, 2012

H-1B: Syracuse registered a demand intensity of 1.1, which was 91st out of the 106 areas Continued from page 4

visas. But H-1B demand was not limited to the largest metropolitan areas like New York City, Wilson says. “One surprise of this report was that smaller metropolitan areas are demanding these H-1B workers,� she says. “We actually found that every metropolitan area of the 366 in the United States requested at least one H-1B visa.� However, Brookings only analyzed regions that made 250 or more H-1B requests. So its report included Syracuse but not metropolitan areas like Binghamton or Utica. In Syracuse, employers requested 119

visas for computer occupations, the most of any occupation. They requested 68 visas for health diagnosing and treating practitioners, 38 for engineers, and 32 for postsecondary teachers. The institution also looked at demand intensity, or the number of H-1B visas requested per 1,000 workers in each metropolitan area. Syracuse registered a demand intensity of 1.1, which was 91st out of the 106 areas Brookings examined. The national average was 2.4. Additionally, Brookings broke down the number of H-1B visa requests for jobs in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. Syracuse employers made 55.1 percent of their H-1B

visa requests for jobs in those fields, 85th out of the regions covered in the report. Another analysis Brookings performed shed light on government funding for programs that are designed to alleviate U.S. workers’ skill shortages. The institution examined the distribution of revenue generated by employers’ H-1B visa fees — fees that range from $1,575 to $4,325 per application, depending on the type of employer. “Our report is the first time anyone’s layered the data this way to look at where the fees have been awarded compared to where the demand for H-1Bs would be,� Wilson says. The Syracuse region pulled in more grant money from H-1B visa-funded pro-

Healthy Workplace

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State workers’-compensation premium rates to decrease by 1.2 percent


By Journal Staff

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grams than its demand for the visas would suggest. It received $1.2 million in grant funding, good for 62nd out of the regions Brookings reviewed. In dollars per capita, Syracuse received $2.26, which was 54th in the report. Only 70 of the 106 metropolitan areas Brookings sampled received grant funding from H-1B programs in 2010-2011. The Brookings report recommended adapting to regional shifts in H-1B visa demand by forming an independent standing commission that would recommend immigration-policy changes. It also suggested aiming programs funded by H-1B visa fees at metropolitan areas that have a high demand for H-1B workers. That doesn’t necessarily mean the Syracuse area should lose all of its funding for grant programs coming from H-1B visa fees, according to Wilson. Programs that help put students through STEM training in college in one region can help boost work-force skills in another region, she says. “We would argue that the alignment there is not as necessary,� she says. “Someone who is in school in Syracuse may not stay there.� q

  ew York employers’ workers’  compensation premium rates are   set to fall for the first time since 2008, the state announced July 17. Policyholders’ premiums will drop by 1.2 percent in the upcoming policy year after the state rejected a request from the New York Compensation Insurance Rating Board that would have increased rates. The rating board, which is a nongovernmental rateservice organization, originally proposed a loss-cost increase of 11.5 percent. The state Department of Financial Services rejected that proposal, in part citing the effects of newly implemented measures of New York’s 2007 Workers’ Compensation Reform Law. Those measures include diagnostic testing network regulations and guidelines that were released in January for determining permanent impairment and loss of wage-earning capacity. “To create jobs and get our state’s economy back on track, it is essential that New York’s businesses remain in a competitive position to succeed in the global marketplace,� Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a news release. “For years, the workers’ compensation system has been too costly for businesses and ineffective for injured workers. “With the new measures implemented by the state and our continued work together with the business and labor communities, we will remain on track to create a system that works better for both employers and employees.� q

The Central New York Business Journal • 7

July 20, 2012

Seventeen Ways to Tip the Sales Scale in Your Favor E

very salesperson knows the job is tougher than ever. It’s not for the faint-hearted or those who feel the world owes them a living. At the same time, salespeople recognize the importance of having an extra edge, of standing out from the crowd. Yet, even those with winning qualities can have other attributes that keep them from getting to the top. To help tip the sales scale, here are 17 ideas that can make a difference. 1. Start exciting customers and stop trying to entice them. Spending time NO NONSENSE figuring out a customMARKETING er’s hot buttons is out of sync with the times. & SALES Excite them with your knowledge, helpful ideas, and your willingness to be there after they sign the order. 2. Make the customer experience interactive. The primary sales task is to get customers talking. Most already have information and expect to participate, and they’re turned off when they don’t have a chance to do so. Ask questions that engage the customer, that create a dialogue. There is nothing a salesperson can say that’s more important than that. 3. Every sale involves a relationship.


One salesperson couldn’t figure out why a prospect didn’t want to buy, until he said, “Frankly, I just don’t understand why we can’t seem to move forward.” It turned out that the customer was afraid the salesperson would disappear. “I like picking your brain,” he commented. 4. Use the “big question” to build a relationship with prospects. “What would you like to accomplish that you haven’t already?” This is the question that opens the windows wide so you can understand what’s hidden away in customers’ minds that dominates their thinking and what they care about passionately. 5. Be there at the right time. A printing-sales executive locks the competition out with his electronic tickler system that tells him when jobs are coming up. His customers and prospects are impressed that he makes contact with them at just the right moment. 6. Using “big data” for better results. There is no reason for wasting time bird-dogging dead-end leads; yet, that’s what salespeople assume to be part of the job. Not any longer. And that’s the value of “big data,” information that exists outside your company, but is now available. Intuit (QuickBooks, Quicken, and Turbo Tax) has transactional, behavioral, user-generated data (from its products) and social data drawn from social networks and Twitter. And it’s easily accessible for small or large companies. 7. Doubt yourself. Salespeople often

take pride in their ability to “read” people and situations, relying on their “gut instincts” or intuition. They view it as “builtin” radar, guiding their decisions. Although experience can play a significant role, famed psychologist, Dr. Daniel Kahneman, points out the danger of depending on intuition. It can lead to what he calls “automatic thinking” that ignores relevant information, which can spell trouble in sales. 8. Stay with the facts. Using exaggerated claims and inaccurate information are “the kiss of death” for today’s salesperson. With better-informed customers, uncovering such information only takes a few seconds, thus damaging credibility. In today’s very transparent world, “messing with the facts” can be fatal, whether business (oversized claims) or personal (doctored résumés). 9. Think for a change. Those in sales tend to be “doers, not thinkers.” And most are burdened with too much activity that’s less than productive. Thinking makes the difference. That’s what middle-school students have discovered in the poorest area of Brooklyn. Their school is a chess powerhouse, “a legend in the chess world,” states the New York Times. “You do a lot of thinking about how you think, especially about how you make decisions,” says Elizabeth Spiegel, the full-time chess teacher. Making good decisions is the backbone of sales and that takes thinking as well as doing. 10. Offer options. Scion gets it right with the way it sells its quirky cars. The

colors are different but every xD, xB, tC and iQ on a dealer’s lot is identical — no accessories. Customers choose the color and then decide on the accessories, which are dealer-installed. The process gets customers involved in making choices. In the end, it’s their car. 11. Present the proposal last. Too many salespeople rush to get a proposal in front of buyers. It’s a bad move because it detracts from getting the customer involved in a dialogue and halts a salesperson’s learning process. Make your proposal an extension of your conversation so that it becomes the result of your conversations. That way your proposal is really coming from the customer. 12. Embrace social media. View social media as a way to engage and cultivate customers, not as advertising or a way to make sales. Ask relevant questions, share ideas, and offer helpful information. Be consistent — it’s the key for pulling customers closer to you. Twitter and LinkedIn can be good places to start. 13. If the story fits, use it. If it doesn’t, don’t. No one enjoys telling stories more than a salesperson. Those who are good at it know when to use a story, and when to keep quiet. Before telling any story, remember that customers are interested in themselves, not you. The president of a regional restaurant franchise invited a sales team to meet with See GRAHAM, page 15

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8 • The Central New York Business Journal

July 20, 2012

Closing the Leadership Gap I

  ncreasingly, the “in” boss can be   found sitting in a cubicle or an open   office alongside his employees. Among the cubicles, the organization is flat and everyone is more or less equal. “Just treat me as another office mate,” he appeals — an open, easily accessible team player. But are these new cube mates really equal? An assessment of the skills and qualities of the manager and his employees reveals a disconcerting divide. Moreover, the gap between them is widening. In recent columns, we have talked about how all employees are not created equally in terms of talents, skills, and potential. When it comes to leadership development, we need to be equally concerned over the gap between managers and employees. Two trends make the need for leadership potential in employees even more important. One, the skills required of managers are rapidly evolving with global-market changes. At the same time, these management skills are being pushed down to employees at all levels of the organization, especially frontline managers. Yet, as we noted, leadership qualities are not being cultivated or developed in employees. So, when you walk through the cubicles seeking your A-team for your new leadership-development program, you may not find the future leaders you are seeking. To ensure your workplace is growing its own leaders, leadership qualities need to be part of employee assessments. Talent audit or inventories using tools such as the nine boxes are becoming ever more critical.

Examining the qualities we seek in employees versus those we desire in our leaders easily identifies the source of the leadership skills and qualities gap. Let’s take a look at a list being circulated as part of a recent survey by OI Partners of top employee qualities. Interestingly, the top-three qualities are also those cited as the most desired in leaders in the newly released 2012 IBM CEO survey. 1. Team player. Leaner work forces require that both employees and management work more cooperatively with others to optimize resources. Leaders are expected to be “teaming” across the C-suite and with external stakeholders. 2. Engages with customers. Customer engagement and responding in a rapid-fire manner to customer needs are considered essential skills. Successful leaders and employees are engaging with customers at a deeper level by applying analytical insights. 3. Motivates and engages others in their jobs. This quality is in fact number one with most managers. If you succeed in engaging your employees, then your more committed employees are more likely to succeed in engaging your customers. 4. Successful in achieving your “critical few objectives.” Put another way, seek employees who are focused on and proficient in meeting goals. 5. Works smart. Analytical tools, many embedded in enterprise systems, are helping us to measure productivity with great precision. Key employees are continually

seeking better, faster ways to do things well. They are embracing creativity, new ideas, and processes. 6. Works hard. Does this employee go the extra mile to show he/she cares about the company? 7. Adds value to the organization. Those hard numbers you are collecting through enterprise systems will help you assess who is adding value. Employees need to be focused on the value they add and be prepared to demonstrate their value. 8. Contributes to improving the bottom line. Once again, like the last five qualities, the focus is on quantifiable results. When we turn to the qualities we most desire in a leader, however, we find that they are harder to measure, which may partly explain why they are overlooked. But as we have seen in past columns on the cost of a leadership deficit — a whopping 7 percent of revenue annually — you also cannot afford to ignore the following qualities. Agile. A future leader needs to constantly reinvent himself to stay in sync with rapid changes. Companies are investing in developing agile leaders that can move in tandem with the rapid change in today’s business environment. Collaborative. This new collaborative manager is among the cubicles to share with you. His door is always open. Flexible. He quickly responds to change. We used to seek out gazelles to run startups, but today, middle managers need these qualities, too. Inspirational. The ability to turn difficul-

ties into inspirational challenges is the intangible quality that can single handedly conquer retention issues. Analytical. Both managers and employees need to be analytical and able to figure things out, quickly. According to our current corporate leaders in the IBM 2012 Global CEO Study, our CLOSELY HELD future leaders need to Business be customer-obsessive, inspiring, and great team builders with the speed of a gazelle. So in your next employee hire or promotion, ask yourself, does this employee also have creativity, flexibility, communication, and change-management skills? Will she be able to take a closed organizational structure and turn it into an open one that can form deep collaboration with outside partners? Is she an inspirational person who will be able to encourage engagement and “teaming” across all stakeholders? I would argue that company leaders have a massive role to play by hiring and developing potential leaders, the only real competitive advantage any organization really has. A good place to start is adding the above leadership qualities to your “employee qualities” list. The alternative could be a Dilbertesque world in which no strong leaders emerge from among the cubicles. q


Thomas Walsh, Ph.D. is president of Grenell Consulting Group, a regional firm specializing in maximizing the performance of organizations and their key contributors. Email Walsh at


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The Central New York Business Journal • 9

July 20, 2012

ALLIANCE: Net interest income in the latest quarter was $10 million Continued from page 1

from $3.5 million, or 73 cents, in the second quarter of 2011. Low interest rates put pressure on the bank’s net interest margin, which drove profit lower, Alliance said. Loan growth helped offset some of the decrease. “Our loan portfolio grew at an annualized rate of 13 percent in the second quarter with broad-based loan growth in each of our commercial, residential, and indirect portfolios as we continue to capture market share,” Alliance Financial President and CEO Jack Webb said in the earnings news release issued Tuesday July 17 after the close of trading. “Loan originations across all our business lines totaled more than $106 million in the second quarter, which was an increase of 98 percent from the second quarter of 2011, and was up 47 percent from the first quarter of this year.” Alliance shares opened up 12 cents, or 0.33 percent, in trading the morning after the earnings report. Through July 17, the stock was up more than 16 percent year to date. That exceeds the nearly 13 percent gain for the NASDAQ Bank Index in the

same time period. Net interest income in the latest quarter was $10 million, down from $11.3 million in the second quarter of 2011, but up from $9.8 million in the first quarter this year. Alliance grew commercial loans and mortgages by $9.3 million in the second quarter to a total of $283.1 million as of June 30. Residential mortgages outstanding increased $7.1 million to $320.9 million and indirect auto balances rose by $16.9 million to $188.8 million Loans and leases at the end of the second quarter totaled $898.5 million, up by $28.6 million from the previous quarter. Alliance had total assets of more than $1.42 billion as of June 30, up by $7.2 million from March 31. Deposits totaled $1.1 billion as of June 30, up by $5.6 million three months earlier. Net charge-offs in the second quarter totaled $166,000, compared to $155,000 in the second quarter of 2011. Nonperforming assets totaled $6.7 million, or 0.47 percent of total assets, as of June 30. That’s compared with $9.2 million, or 0.65 percent of total assets, as of March 31 and $11.7 million, or 0.83 percent of total assets, as of Dec. 31, 2011.

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“While we grew our loan portfolio, we also continued to improve on our already low levels of nonperforming and delinquent loans,” Webb said. “Our nonperforming loans dropped 25 percent in the second quarter as a direct result of successful workouts and payoffs of nonperforming loans. Total loan delinquencies were also down 12 percent in the second quarter.” A negative provision expense during the second quarter resulted in $300,000 of income, compared with a provision expense of $160,000 a year earlier, according to Alliance. Noninterest income was $4.5 million for the second quarter, up from $4.4 million a year earlier. Gains on the sale of loans rose $259,000 in the period from the second quarter of 2011 thanks to higher volumes of mortgages originated and sold in 2012, according to Alliance. Noninterest expenses totaled $11 million in the second quarter, up from $10.8 million a year earlier. Alliance Financial has 29 Alliance Bank branches in Cortland, Madison, Oneida, Onondaga, and Oswego counties. The company also runs an investment manage-


Q2 2011

Net income



Earnings per share

61 cents

73 cents

Return on average assets



Net interest margin



Non-performing 0.47% assets to total assets


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10 • The Central New York Business Journal

July 20, 2012



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The Central New York Business Journal • 11

July 20, 2012

CONFIDENCE: SRI’s survey found that 11.9 percent of Syracuse–area consumers plan to buy a car or truck Continued from page 2

quarter of 2011, the SRI index shows. SRI develops the quarterly confidence indexes by surveying consumers over the age of 18 in random telephone calls. Each MSA index is based on more than 400 respondents, with the exception of the indexes for New York City and Long Island. SRI calculates those quarterly indexes using averages of its monthly consumer-confidence surveys.

Current and future confidence

Syracuse consumers didn’t just lose overall confidence between the first and second quarters of 2012. They also expressed a declining willingness to spend under current conditions and in the future.

The MSA’s current confidence skidded 5 points to 71.6. Its future confidence edged down 1.2 points to 66.7. In Utica, current confidence descended 5.7 points to 68.2. Future confidence dipped 4.4 points to 60.3. Current consumer confidence increased in Binghamton by 1.9 points to 71.3. But future confidence ticked down 1.4 points to 62.3.

Buying plans

SRI also surveyed consumers in the state’s nine metropolitan areas about their plans for making major purchases in five different categories. The institute asked if consumers plan to buy a car or truck, a computer, furniture, a home, or a major home improvement in the next six months. The portion of consumers planning to

make major purchases decreased in 30 of the 45 possible categories across the state. It increased in 14 categories and stayed the same in one. Consumers in the Syracuse MSA cut back on plans to purchase cars and trucks, computers, and furniture. They boosted plans to buy homes and major home improvements. “[In] Syracuse, you were kind of mixed, but still a little bit on the low side,” Lonnstrom says. SRI’s survey found that 11.9 percent of Syracuse–area consumers plan to buy a car or truck, down 2 points from the first quarter of 2012. The reading is also lower than the survey’s historical average of 12.8 percent. Only 9.2 percent of the region’s consumers plan to buy a computer, a drop of 2.6 points from the previous quarter and below

the historical average of 10.5 percent. And 11.9 percent of consumers expect to buy furniture, down 3.2 points from last quarter and under the survey’s 14.8 percent historical average. The news was better for Central New York’s housing market, as 3.4 percent of consumers planned to buy homes, up 0.6 points from the first quarter of 2012. That was slightly below the survey’s historical average of 3.6 percent. Major home improvements also received a boost, with 16.8 percent of consumers planning to make purchases in that category. That’s up 1.3 points from last quarter but still less than the survey’s historical average of 19.5 percent. q Contact Seltzer at

envisage: Has added staff in administration, business analysis, software development, and quality control Continued from page 1

happening in the plans. “They didn’t have all the software pieces needed to have this complete pictorial of everything in their plans,” McGonagle says. Envisage built a software product, known as Common Remitter, to help the industry meet the new rules, McGonagle says. The company worked with a client in Kansas to design the product. The client went live and ran the system for about a year before a national player in the space found out about it and signed on. The product allowed Envisage to grow its revenue and helped the staff swell to its current total of 150.




That’s up from 120 less than a year ago. Envisage’s clients are the recordkeeping firms that serve plan sponsors and there are plenty more to capture, McGonagle says. “We’ve just barely hit the tip of the iceberg,” he says. “We are definitely poised to double in size again over the next two years.” Envisage Information Systems has added staff in administration, business analysis, software development, and quality control. Hiring will continue in those areas, McGonagle says. The company in May moved into a new 15,000-square-foot building at 31 Dutch Mill Road in Ithaca. Envisage acquired the building and renovated the interior to consolidate staff from multiple locations in Cayuga and

Tompkins counties. The firm plans to complete exterior renovations to the new building this year as well. However, Envisage is already out of space at the new site and plans are in the works to open branch offices in Binghamton, Rochester, and Syracuse. A Binghamton office will open in August and locations in Syracuse and Rochester will follow this fall. The branches will also help Envisage expand its recruiting footprint, McGonagle says. The offices will house a mix of employees and start with 20 to 30 people each, he adds. Market demand is not the problem for Envisage, McGonagle notes. How fast the

company grows will depend on how fast it can scale up staff and infrastructure to keep pace. Last year, Inc. magazine ranked Envisage 808 on its fifth annual Inc. 5000 list of the nation’s fastest growing private companies. The firm ranked 76 within the informationtechnology services industry. McGonagle founded Envisage in 1990 with Robb Jetty, the company’s vice president for finance and administration. The company has been focusing on the retirement industry since 1998 and has clients nationwide. Jetty and McGonagle own the firm with several angel investors. q Contact Tampone at








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The Central New York Business Journal • 13

July 20, 2012

Business Journal C e n t r a l

N e w


Y o r k

Volume 26, No. 29 - July 20, 2012 NEWS Editor-in-Chief........................Adam Rombel Assistant Editor..............Maria J. Carbonaro Staff Writers........................... Kevin Tampone (Online Editor) ..............................................................Rick Seltzer ............................................................Traci DeLore Columnists..............................John R. Graham Tom Morgan Thomas Walsh Production Manager.......................Erin Zehr Research Manager.................. Nicole Collins SALES Sr. Account Managers....................................... Bernard B. Bregman Mary LaMacchia Marketing .......................BBB Marketing Inc. CIRCULATION Circulation Management....(315) 579-3927 Administrative Publisher..........................Norman Poltenson Chief Operating Officer......Marny Nesher Business Manager.....................Kurt Bramer

Somebody Else Built My Business


  t was years ago when my wife and I   were having dinner with cousin Shelly.   At some point, the conversation turned to the economy and the role of business. Shelly informed me that America was built on the back of government and the faithful bureaucrats who toil in anonymity, those who taught our children and built our bridges and roads. I can’t remember what I was eating, but I must have swallowed it whole. There was total silence. I then asked Shelly if I had understood her corfrom the rectly. She confirmed publisher that my auditory receptors were functioning properly. Those intrepid risk-takers we call entrepreneurs are not critical in growing the economy and creating jobs; rather, the government was the fount of any economic success. I tried to explain the fundamental role of government was to provide security, a system of laws that were fair and enforced, an educated citizenry, and infrastructure. This ensures all Americans with the level playing field that allows each of us to apply our God-given talents in the pursuit of our individual happiness. I cited inventors like Eli Whitney, Samuel F. B. Morse, Henry Ford, the Wright brothers, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, all to no avail. Shelly was unconvinced by my argument. For her there were no heroes, no

norman poltenson

American genius. There was just a collective effort. Last year, Elizabeth Warren made the same argument as cousin Shelly. Warren is currently running for a U.S. Senate seat in Massachusetts. “There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own,” she contends. If you are a factory owner, you moved your goods to market on the roads “… the rest of us paid for … You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police and fire forces that the rest of us paid for….” I didn’t invite Ms. Warren to dinner to explain that the hypothetical factory owner undoubtedly paid substantial taxes to support all of the functions she mentioned in her collectivist rationale. Flash forward to July 13 — President Barack Obama is in Roanoke, Va. on the campaign trail without his teleprompter. The 5,000-word message: “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.” Total silence on my part. Cousin Shelly, Elizabeth Warren, and now the president of the United States. Finally, I understand. I didn’t contribute to my business success. The thousands of owners and entrepreneurs we interviewed at The Business Journal didn’t contribute to their business success. All success is due to society’s collectivist efforts. All businesses are indebted to government agencies like the Energy Department, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Food & Drug Administration, which gave us the foundation to prosper. Government is the ultimate risk-taker and provider of sustenance. Mr. President, I wish you had told me

sooner that my success would be a result of someone else’s efforts or gifts. I could have avoided those decades of 75-hour weeks while I tried to build the business. Now, I find out there was no need to max out my credit cards, invade my savings, or remortgage the house to raise funds for the business. All the concern I had about meeting payroll was unnecessary or the nights I lay awake wondering how to grow the business. And if I failed, the government would surely be there to rescue me. How foolish of me. I could have joined the president for over 100 rounds of golf in the last three-and-a-half years rather than work at my business, since all success flows from others. Soon, I will instruct my editorial staff to review the 17,000 business stories in our archives and strike the words “entrepreneur,” “free enterprise,” and “risk-taker.” Going forward, we will attribute business success only to the government and its minions and denigrate all those phony dreamers who think they are instrumental in creating success. I shall also recommend to my board of directors that we change the name of our corporate entity to the George Orwell Business Journal. Thank you Cousin Shelly, Ms. Warren, and President Obama for explaining how to build a business. Since somebody else built my business, my only request is that you introduce me to them so I can thank them for my success. q Norman Poltenson is the publisher of The Central New York Business Journal. Contact him at

They Don’t Want to Know You


The Central New York Business Journal (ISSN #1050-3005) is published every week by CNY Business Review, Inc. All contents copyrighted 2012. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written consent of the publisher. Cover Price $2 Subscription Rate $88 per year Call (800) 836-3539

HOW TO REACH US MAIL: Send letters to: Editor, The Central New York Business Journal 269 W. Jefferson St. Syracuse, N.Y. 13202-1230 E-MAIL: PHONE: (315) 472-3104

  f you do not live in a “swing state,” the   candidates for the White House don’t   want to know you. I guess that is a bit harsh. They do want your money. For their campaign war chests. But more than that? Fugettaboutit. They will not be running their campaign commercials in your state. They will not plaster your newspaper with big ads. They may visit your state. Not to win your vote. More to win your contribution. Or, to speak morgan at an event that will at large draw media attention in a swing state. You may get to see some of their commercials. But that will be by way of websites that show you swing-state ads. Some of the nightly news shows will show you the latest ads the candidates are running. Of course, running only in swing states. Meanwhile, some of the messages they

tom morgan

deliver may not resonate with you. This is because they are not crafted with your vote in mind. They are crafted for swing-state voters. Except for the fundraising, the candidates’ efforts are for the swing-state voters. And only for them. The president could take up residence in some “Republican” states like Louisiana and Kentucky. Romney could shake the hand of every voter in some “Democrat” states like Vermont and Delaware. But they would still never win these states in the election. So, why bother? Truth is, they don’t. They don’t when they speak to the nation at the party conventions. They don’t when they speak to the country in the televised debates. It is as if there are 50 people in the audience and they see only 12. All their strategies, all their plans have one simple goal: to win votes in the dozen or so swing states. Now, congressional races are a different matter. If your Senator or Congressman is in a close race, you will see and hear lots of advertising. You may see ads from national groups trying to give these candidates a push or a karate chop. As for visits from President Obama and

Governor Romney? If you are in a nonswing state, visits are not too likely. Except in the early stages when they come cap in hand. Which is why the president has dropped into New York City so often. He will never face a shortage of Big Apple or Empire State votes. But the Big Apple is where the big bucks are located. It is a curious situation. The candidates have to sound as if they are speaking to you. They are not. They have to sound as if they want to address your concerns. They don’t. Unless your concerns are the same as the concerns of voters in the swing states. You will see these guys hoisting mugs of beer in this campaign. Trying to convince voters they are just regular guys like your pals at your favorite bar. When it seems as if they are saying “This Bud’s for you,” it ain’t. If you want it to be, you will have to move — to a swing state like Ohio or Virginia. From in Morgan. q Tom Morgan writes about financial and other subjects from his home near Oneonta, in addition to his radio shows and new TV show. For more information about him, visit his website at

14 • The Central New York Business Journal

July 20, 2012

usiness B alendar C


july 24 n Sharing the BEST program from 7:30 to 10 a.m. at The Palace Theatre, 2384 James St., Syracuse. CNY ASTD is hosting this annual program where CNY BEST Learning and Performance award nominees share information about their nominated practices. The cost for CNY ASTD members is $25; nonmembers pay $35. To register, visit www.cnyastd. org, call (315) 546-2783, or email: info@

july 26 n Women TIES Third Growth Seminar, “Creating a Strong Operations Management System,” from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Craftsman Inn, 7300 East Genesee St., Fayetteville. Chris Belna, owner of A la Carte Business Services; Rhonda Cabrinha, vice president, Ellis, Moreland & Ellis, Inc.; and Laurel Eveligh, an attorney, will help women entrepreneurs commit to growing their businesses and create a stronger, more efficient operating entity. The cost is $45. For more information on the program or to make a reservation by July 23, visit www. or call (315) 708-4288.

july 31 n Social Media Community Discussion Group at SUNY Center for Professional Development, 6333 Route 298, Suite 102, DeWitt. CNY ASTD hosts an informal group for discussions on social media in a research, sharing experiences, and learning environment. The topic will be blogs. For details, call (315) 546-2783 or email:

august 2 n CenterState CEO Clambake from 5 to 9 p.m. at Hinerwadel’s Grove at 5300 W. Taft Road in Clay. For more information and details, visit www.CenterStateCEO. com and click on Events.

august 7 n Get Ready for Project-ION’s Regional Internship Day with this panel discussion and step-by-step workshop from 8 to 10 a.m. College careercenter counselors will help you create an effective internship program. Get all of your questions answered by college career-center professionals during an

interactive panel presentation. (8 to 9 a.m.). Afterwards, there will be a handson workshop to walk you through developing your company’s specific program and opportunity (9 to 10 a.m.). Reservations are requested. Contact Lisa Metot with any questions at (315) 4701870 or email: lmetot@centerstateceo. com

august 8 n Tompkins County Chamber August Business After Hours event at Agava Restaurant in Ithaca from 5-7 p.m. Chamber members pre-register for $10, walk-ins welcome for $15, and nonmembers pay $25. For more information or to register, contact Marilyn Mazza at

august 15 n Sandbox Demo Day from 4 p.m. to 12 a.m. in the lobby of AXA Towers, immediately adjacent to the Tech Garden in Syracuse. The top 12 teams from the 2012 Summer Student Sandbox will demonstrate their products and services with five-minute pitches. Product demonstrations and tradeshow will happen at the Tech Garden at 6 p.m. You will be given the opportunity to vote for the best company. Awards will be given at 7:30 p.m. We are still seeking contributions for awards and sponsorship of demo day. If you are interested in supporting the Sandbox mission, for this event or the future, please email: or call (315) 560-6622. For details, visit

august 16 n StartFast Demo Day for StartFast Venture Accelerator from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. StartFast Venture Accelerator is a highly selective program for recruiting and training Internet, mobile, and software startups from around the world. This is a free event. For more information, visit

ONGOING EVENTS n Every Tuesday, Cayuga Club Toastmasters from 6 to 7 p.m. at Cornell University, Ithaca, Rhodes Hall, 6th Floor, Conference Room #655. Free and easy parking is available nearby at Peterson Lot. For more information, contact Julia

Reich, (315) 364-7190 or email: n Every Tuesday, Gung Ho Networking Group from noon to 1:30 p.m. at Ruby Tuesday Restaurant, 3220 Erie Blvd E., DeWitt. Possible referrals for you; this is not a tip club. First visit free. Contact Paul Ellis at (315) 677-0015 or visit n Every Wednesday, Small Business Development Center at OCC from 4pm to 6pm, Introduction to Business Startup at H-1 Hall. For more information please call 498-6070 or visit n Every Wednesday, Syracuse Business Networking from 6 to 7 p.m. at Barbieri’s Restaurant (upstairs level) located on Main Street in the village of North Syracuse. For more information, call Kim Bachstein at (315) 414-8223 or email: info@ n First Wednesday of each month, Business Innovation Days meetings from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at The Tech Garden, 235 Harrison St., Syracuse. Entrepreneurs and small businesses can meet one-onone with a counselor from the SBDC for advice and customized assistance opportunities. Scheduled by appointment, call (315) 474-0910 or email: info@ n Second Wednesday of every month, Salt City Technical offers by appointment free consultation to entrepreneurs or inventors who would like to have their product ideas evaluated by a staff of trained engineers. For more information or to schedule a consultation, call (315) 456-8461, or visit n Every Thursday, Empire Statesmen Toastmasters meet at 6:30 p.m. at Ruby Tuesday on Erie Boulevard in DeWitt. For more information, visit or email: president@estm. n Every first and third Thursday each month, Liverpool Linguists from 7 to 8 p.m. at the Liverpool First Methodist Church, 604 Oswego Road, Liverpool. For details, visit or call (315) 884-2668 or 457-2581.

n Every second and fourth Thursday of the month, The North Star Toastmasters from noon to 1 p.m. at C&S Companies, 499 Col. Eileen Collins Blvd., near Hancock Airport. For more information, contact Sandy Jurkiewicz at or call (315) 470-1802. n Every Friday, 40 Above: Workers in Transition from 9 to 11 a.m. at The Westcott Community Center, 817 Euclid Ave., Syracuse. Helping workers/job seekers aged 40 and above in search for work. Contact John A. Cruty at (315) 569-3964, or at n Every Friday, Tip Club of Syracuse, at the Sheraton Syracuse University Hotel, 801 University Ave., Syracuse, 8 to 9 a.m. Call Bernie Bregman at (315) 472-3104, ext. 103 or email: bbregman@ n First Friday of each month, Toolkit Day with SCORE by appointment at The Tech Garden. Counselors provide free, confidential, individual business mentoring to prospective or current business owners. For more information or to schedule an appointment, contact Lynn Hughes at (315) 579-2862 or email n Every second and fourth Friday of each month, The SUN Group (Sustainable Upstate Network) meets from 7:30 to 9 a.m. at Tony’s Family Restaurant, 3004 Burnet Ave., Syracuse. For more information, contact Andy Picco at (315) 657-0135 or email: n Every week, Syracuse Networking Professionals. Five meetings to choose from. For details, call Kevin M. Crook at (315) 439-1803, or email or visit n CNY Connects is a networking organization offering 12 groups from which to choose. If you are interested in learning more, contact Amy Kaschel of AK Consulting at or call (315) 882-6127 or visit To have your meetings or events in the Business Calendar, email them to

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The Central New York Business Journal • 15

July 20, 2012

PEOPLE ON THE MOVE: NEW HIRES & PROMOTIONS ADVERTISING AGENCIES Andy Collins has been promoted to creative director at Latorra, Paul & McCann Advertising in Syracuse. Formerly associate creative director, Collins has been writing advertising and public-relations copy and producing award-winning TV and radio commercials for more than 25 years. He is a graduate of Utica College of Syracuse University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and public relations. Collins also holds a journalism degree from SUNY Morrisville.

CONSTRUCTION Steven Haskins, a construction industry veteran with nearly 30 years experience, has joined Paragon Environmental Construction of Brewerton as the company’s vice president of construction. In this role, he is charged with managing the company’s construction division, and oversees estimating, procurement, and operations for Paragon. Haskins, who holds degrees and certifications from Potomac State College of West Virginia University, has held a variety of positions in fields of increasing responsibility in both the public and private sectors. He was the as-

sistant highway superintendent for Wayne County overseeing various aspects of the department’s operations and also worked in the private sector, estimating costs and assisting in preparing bid proposals for various projects. Most recently, Haskins worked for Tug Hill Construction, Inc. of Watertown preparing requests-for-proposal documents for government and commercial heavy civil construction projects, including technical and pricing components.

INSURANCE Eastern Shore Associates Insurance (ESA) recently promoted Julie Welch to commercial-lines manager. She is a licensed insurance broker for ESA, holds the construction risk and insurance specialist certification, and earned the professional insurance designation chartered Welch proper ty casualty underwriter in 2011. Welch has worked at ESA for seven years and has served a total of 14 years as an insurance professional.



Bousquet Holstein PLLC announced that Gilbert M. Hoffman will serve as counsel to the firm in the areas of real estate and title law, real-estate development, financing, leasing, boundary disHoffman putes, easements, and oil and gas leases. He joins Bousquet Holstein from Chicago Title Insurance, where he was a vice president and spent 27 years working on commercial and industrial real property and title matters. He has extensive experience working with industry and land owners solving problems in complex title matters. With the introduction of high-volume hydraulic fracturing technology to New York State, he has devoted considerable time to developing title and underwriting standards for the title insurance and banking industries. Hoffman is a graduate of Syracuse University College of Law. He serves as chairman of the Real Property Law Section of the Onondaga County Bar Association and served as chairman of the New York State Bar Association Title Standards Subcommittee.

Terina Lancaster has joined AAA Western and Central New York as a licensed insurance agent in the AAA DeWitt Travel and Insurance Center, 3460 Erie Boulevard East. She will be responsible Lancaster for serving the auto and home insurance needs of current and prospective AAA members in the greater Syracuse area. Lancaster brings 21 years of insurance sales and service experience to AAA. Most recently, she owned her own insurance agency in Arizona. Lancaster is licensed in New York State property and casualty insurance and attended Central City Business Institute, Pillsbury Bible Baptist College, and Penn State University. 

Send your People-on-the-Move news via email to:

GRAHAM: Anticipate objections and get a leg up on the competition Continued from page 7

him about a project for the company’s 600 employees, but cautioned the salespeople that they had 45 minutes and no longer. When the meeting began, the president started talking and didn’t stop for 40 minutes, much to the sales team’s dismay. At that point, the team leader asked the president if he would like to know more about their firm. “No,” came the reply. “I’ve been getting your materials for a year. I have everything I need to know. Let’s get to work.” 14. A better way to say “thank you.” If you’re looking for something more personal than a vanilla email message to say “thank you” or an impersonal .pdf invitation to an event, a good solution is My

Stationery Box, a $3.99 app for an iPad. It’s really slick, offering an array of templates for business and personal use. Take a few minutes to set it up and all the stationery is personalized and ready to go. It automatically imports your address book to make it even easier. No more excuses for failing to stay in touch with the right message. 15. Anticipate objections and get a leg up on the competition. Objections will kill a sale, unless you’re prepared to answer them. Most salespeople miss the mark by assuming they can respond to whatever a customer throws at them, so they wing it. That doesn’t work. Prepare yourself by building an objections file on your smartphone or iPad with thoughtful answers. Then, continue to refine them with your manager or sales-team members

until you can respond effectively to whatever is thrown at you. 16. Differentiate yourself. Line up 10 salespeople in your industry and chances are they’re clones –– to customers. If they look alike, talk alike, dress alike, and sell similar products, they are alike and you’re one of them. If you want to stand out from the pack, do this: Admit that there similarities in products and pricing, for example. Then, talk about your differentiating factor — you keep your promises. Have testimonials and references ready to substantiate your claim. It’s a game changer. 17. Think customer, not sale. Successful salespeople know that this is what selling is all about. Buyers of all types have their antennae up and they can spot the salesperson whose sole motive is get-

ting the order. Today’s customers look for the salesperson that understands them, not sells them. That changes the process from transaction to relationship, from no-sale to sale-closed. There they are, 17 ideas for getting that extra edge in sales that makes a difference. Over time, it’s so easy to develop habits that kill sales, without even knowing it. While awareness of what we’re doing may not be everything, it’s a good way to make changes that will tip the scale in your favor.  John R. Graham of GrahamComm is a marketing and sales consultant and business writer. He publishes a monthly eNewsletter, “No Nonsense Marketing & Sales.” Contact him at, (617) 774-9759, or

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16 • The Central New York Business Journal


July 20, 2012

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Central New York Business Journal 7/20/2012  

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