Issuu on Google+

Apr. / May 2012

photo credits: associated press / paul sakuma

Issue 48

ZUCKERBERG 2.0 Evolving as the CEO of a data-mining juggernaut

RAYTHEON‘S CYBER SECURITY FILTER

Sharing data securely across multiple classified networks

RUNNING BUSINESS FROM THE CLOUD

Work Anywhere, Any Device

un-privacy policy from facebook’s ipo to its

the suit magazine takes a closer look at Mark Zuckerberg’s View of your privacy & support of

CISPA

thesuitmagazine.com

$14.95 USD


publishers note

ISSUE 48 | APR / MAY 2012

Publisher Erwin E. Kantor Managing Editor Michael Gordon Editorial Robert Jordan David Webb Helen Moss Staff Writers W.B. King L. A. Rivera Monica Link Wendy Connick David Novack Melanie Hicken Susan Ruckdeschel Creative Director Christopher DeBellis Asst. Art Director Marienne Hilahan Illustrators Shafali R. Anand Marketing / Advertising Monica Link Christopher DeBellis For subscription details, contact: info@thesuitonline.org For advertising inquiries, contact: advertising@thesuitmagazine.com

Is my ‘privacy’

expect us

really private?

T

hanks to technology and the Internet, nothing our readers want is ever more than a few clicks away. Because of that level of access, you might think savvy Internet users would be more in tune with new rules and Internet regulations that are influencing policies and potentially changing laws. Our cover story in this issue is really about how the media as an industry does a good job covering the local news but a poor job in conveying this bigger picture to us. What’s really important too often goes unnoticed, like the way our privacy rights in America are quietly being nibbled away and compromised. Facebook has been met with criticism on a range of these issues, including difficult privacy settings that may or may not work, lack of transparency, and unauthorized sharing of user data, among others. What’s at risk is our personal information and even our very identities. While Facebook has been accused of engaging in “unfair and deceptive” practices, the federal government has also announced a broad settlement with it, requiring the company to respect the privacy wishes of its users and subjects. It’s a constant challenge to define what makes an entrepreneur in a world that keeps changing. An entrepreneur is still someone who creates something where there was nothing, but in our view, entrepreneurship has evolved to become much more meaningful. It’s the spirit of how we approach

things. In this issue we also bring Raytheon’s Cyber Security Filter sharing data security across multiple classified networks. In this issue you’ll find some of these personalities who are redrawing the lines of what it means to be in business. This includes serial entrepreneurs, who stop at nothing to have their visions recognized, and then do it again and again. Wherever your business takes you, I hope that you find our stories interesting, helpful and even inspiring. It’s not just about opening a business, but about growing a successful business while experiencing the people and cultures in between. Best,

Erwin Kantor Erwin Kantor Publisher

THE SUIT MAGAZINE - APR / MAY 2012


CONTENTS

APR / MAY 2012

6

“Like” Privacy? Why does Facebook have us over such a big privacy barrel? With an almost impenetrable privacy policy, and a track record of transmitting user data without permission, Facebook has and continues to earn every one of the stringent audits being conducted by the FTC. Some think it’s not enough. How will Facebook fare with safekeeping your personal information now that it’s publicly traded? Will FINRA regulate?

business

features features

14

Solving the Legal Disconnect

How One Law Firm Innovated Its Way to Success

15

Guiding the Newly Disabled

Helping Maximize Limited Income and Assets

10

Raytheon Cyber Security

Mobile technologies create vast new risks for cyber security that are unique to each technology, growing exponentially – and walking around.

16

Real World Forensics

One-stop-shopping for forensic experts

18

The Right Language

When the Bears are IN

Putting a ticklish situation in perspective

12

Business from a Cloud

Clouds are changing the IT landscape, using a single login from anywhere to access a virtual desktop. Making the cloud available to small business means huge increases in productivity.

THE SUIT MAGAZINE - APR / MAY 2012

21

A Personal CFO

Compassionate financial guidance for families

Recipes for Leadership

Going from hired to highest in command

23

Business Briefs

24

Crippling Workers’ Comp

Less Risky Business, First Wall Street Financial Advisors

Adding insult to injury

25

High quality, high level communications made easy

20

22

Clients that Look for YOU

Giving great advice makes one client lead to another

26

Staffing for Not-for-Profits

“Good ideas come from everywhere.”

28

Pushing for Change

Tracking government at the state and local level


business (cont) business

29

Business Briefs

30

No to Workplace Discrimination

Leveraging Lessons Learned, Sourcing Success

Creating a business culture that includes everyone

31

Keeping Cool by using what’s Hot

State-of-the-art data center solutions.

32

Setting Standards for Clinical Research

Ensuring high quality while working efficiently

33

Business Briefs

Owning the Outsourcing Model, Non-profit funding expert

34

36

Golden Years?

David vs. Goliath

Focused teamwork wins complex litigation

Healthy Leaders Always Win

Profitable companies need balanced CEOs

37

Teetering on the edge of retirement, looking into an abyss

35

technology law & government

Problem Solving with Consensus

A public-private partnership yields big benefits

38

Lawsuit Ethics

Court isn’t always the answer

39

Merchant Solutions Group Says Yes

Capital for small business, even after banks turn thumbs down

40

law & government

41

Law & Gov. Briefs

42

Anti-Foreclosure Warrior

US Healthcare System Defense, As Real as it Gets

Making Homeowners Partners in the Fight

43

It All Comes Out in the Wash

Anti-money laundering pro’s turn to Social Media to boost reach

44

Law & Gov. Briefs

Credit Repair Boom, Great Word-of-Mouth

Trash to Treasure!

Sustainability: from scraps into folding green

THE SUIT MAGAZINE p.5


by w.b. king

N

ow that Facebook’s highly anticipated IPO transpired with lackluster results, the main concern its roughly 900 million users have isn’t the slowly falling stock price, but rather the all-important question: Is my information private or has it also gone public with no ROI? “We are not as concerned about Facebook’s privacy policies being enforced,” said Justin Brookman, director of the Center for Democracy and Technology’s Consumer Privacy Project. “We are more concerned with what the privacy policies are in the first place.” While Brookman added that Facebook has done marginally “better” with regard to privacy practices over the last year, Jeff Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, and author of “Digital Destiny: New Media and the Future of Democracy,” said it is still a case of users beware. “Facebook has made their privacy settings difficult for users, and now with the IPO there will be tremendous pressure on Facebook to concentrate on their advertising and marketing. This is not just an issue for U.S. based users – this is a global issue. We have regulations here, but users in say, Asia, are less protected,” Chester continued. “Facebook will ratchet up how it spies on its users to ensure that users are manipulated into buying products from big brand marketers featured on their Timeline.” Leading up to the IPO on May

THE SUIT MAGAZINE - APR / MAY 2012

ZUCKERBERG 2.0 HOW “THE ZUCK” LOST HIS WAY “Like” Facebook’s Privacy Policy? Mark Zuckerberg is betting you do

18, an AP-CNBC survey found that 59 percent of those polled said they “have little or no faith in the company [Facebook] to protect their privacy.” While 60 percent of respondents were active users, 21 percent of non-Facebook users cited privacy issues as their reason for not joining. Only 13 percent of those polled said they thought their private information was safe. As indicated by growing numbers of users – and while counterintuitive – it seems that those who distrust Facebook continue to use it. In response to the Irish Data Protection Commissioner (IDPC) requesting that Facebook expand its data and privacy practices by spring 2012, Facebook’s Chief Privacy Officer Erin Egan held a question-and-answer session on May 14 which was streamed live on the company’s site. “That’s a big driver of our changes,” she said of IDPC’s inquest. “In addition to the feedback from users and the introduction of new products and services, like Timeline,” Egan con-

tinued. “Our goal here is to be really transparent with you about our practices.” Spies like Us It wasn’t long ago – October 2010 – that Facebook admitted, after a Wall Street Journal investigation, that its top 10 user applications, including Texas Hold’em and Farmville, shared user data via http referrer applications. In short, users’ names, and also their friends’ names were passed along to third party advertisers. What was perhaps most galling to impacted users and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), was that many of these affected users had deployed Facebook’s hard-to-traverse, stringent private policy settings – a 7,000 word cumbersome document. The probe also found that Facebook had previously transmitted user ID numbers to advertising companies via clickedon ads. Last November, Facebook settled a case with the FTC about related incidents. “Facebook now has one of the


ASSOCIATED PRESS / AP

most robust audits in place with the Federal Trade Commission and this will occur for the next twenty years,” said Markham Erickson, partner at Holch & Erickson LLP where he represents clients before federal regulatory agencies, courts and Congress. Facebook’s prior track record isn’t encouraging, either. On November 6, 2007, the company launched Facebook Beacon, a failed attempt to advertise to friends of users by using the knowledge of what purchases friends made (a revamped version returned in May 2011). In

Febr u a r y 2009, a New Terms of Service was unveiled, essentially broadcasting that Facebook could do as they pleased with aggregated information – forever. That movement was countered by the Electronic Privacy Information Center that filed a complaint with the FTC. While Facebook has instituted a user voting system for privacy changes – a global advocacy movement growing in 2012 – problems remain. “Historically, Facebook has

had trouble with users who accidentally shared more information than they wanted to,” said Brookman, whose previous post was chief of the Internet Bureau of the New York Attorney General’s office. “Users should be encouraged to understand and investigate what each application does. It’s understandable for users to be skeptical about Facebook, and Facebook earned that. They [Facebook] will have to continue to improve their privacy chops if they want users to continue to engage in the way they want users to.” Does Facebook “like” Regulations? As with all publicly traded companies, Facebook and its “hoodie” leader, Mark Zuckerberg, must

THE SUIT MAGAZINE p.7


comply with all regulatory bodies such as the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Regulation S-P which states: “firms are required to have policies and procedures addressing the protection of customer information and records. This includes protecting against any anticipated threats or hazards to the security or integrity of customer records and information and against unauthorized access to or use of customer records or information.” Erickson is well versed in privacy matters, as he has helped to write and negotiate countless federal laws governing e-commerce, technology and the use of the Internet. These include the CAN-SPAM Act, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and the Communications Decency Act. As the Executive Director of the Open Internet Coalition, he also advocates for Google, Facebook, PayPal, Netflix, Skype, Sony, Twitter, Amazon and TiVo, among others. “If Facebook violates the agreement with the Federal Trade Commission, they can be taken to court and penalized, which would have considerable downturns with regard to consumer reputation,” said Ericson. “With almost a billion users, Facebook’s growth rate has been fairly consistent, so moving forward, the trust they have with their user community has to be robust or they stand the chance of losing their user community, and Facebook is well aware of that.” Chester is not as optimistic about Facebook’s intentions and said that while well intended, the FTC seemingly views Facebook as too complicated a medium to understand in terms of data collection. “There really is no regulation for Facebook. What they did was sign a twenty year consent decree. You could look at it like a de facto regulation that says that Facebook will create products and services with privacy in mind, but they have no intention of doing that,” said Chester.

THE SUIT MAGAZINE - APR / MAY 2012

t.j. kirkpatrick, afp, alex wong / getty images

CISPA Seeks to Control User Privacy

T

he Facebook privacy issue is merely a piece to a larger Internet privacy puzzle that when completed could be defined by the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA). The controversial bill was passed in the U.S. House of Representatives in April and is currently awaiting a (stalled) vote in the Senate. CISPA detractors include the American Library Association, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the ACLU and Rep. Ron Paul, the Texas Republican and presidential candidate, who said the proposed bill represents the “latest assault on Internet freedom.” Paul is not alone as more than 750,000 concerned Americans signed an antiCISPA petition championed by the Republican Liberty Caucus. While most Americans pay little attention to online privacy issues, most would be shocked to learn that an estimated 30,000 privacy inquires are made on unsuspecting Americans each year via the antiquated Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), which became law in 1986. CISPA would cast a wider net essentially unlocking all privacy settings as deemed appropriate by the government. The bill reads in part: “Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a self-protected entity may, for cyber security purposes - (i) use cyber security systems to identify and obtain cyber threat information to protect the rights and property of such self-protect-

ed entity; and (ii) share such cyber threat information with any other entity, including the Federal Government...” The one word in the bill that has caused the most debate is “notwithstanding” which would override wiretap laws, corporate privacy policies, gun laws, educational record laws and medical records, among others. Those in favor of CISPA, including Facebook, claim this law will allow companies and the government to work in unison to identify and tackle “bad actor” cyber threats preying on private information. “The concern is that companies will share sensitive personal information with the government in the name of protecting cyber security. Facebook has no intention of doing this,” wrote Joel Kaplan, Facebook’s vice president for U.S. Public Policy. “We’ve been engaging directly with key lawmakers as well as industry and consumer groups about potential changes to the bill to help address privacy concerns.” Kaplan shared his letter via a Facebook posting that garnered nearly 350 responses, most of which were negative. “I will close my account and strongly recommend that everyone I meet closes their accounts if this bill passes,” Mike Rupar wrote. Christopher Bosdol added, “Facebook, stay out of politics. Really, you have no right speaking for the people.”


WHATS BEHIND THE FACEBOOK LAWSUIT? The Facebook fiasco continues.

T

here wasn’t much to “like” about Facebook’s fabled initial public offering, and things are going from bad to worse. On Wednesday, May 23, investors filed a class action suit in Manhattan court alleging defendants, including Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, lead underwriter Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan Chase concealed a “severe and pronounced reduction” in revenue growth forecasts resulting from greater use of Facebook’s app or website through mobile devices. The suit also accuses Facebook of telling its underwriters to “materially lower” their forecasts for the company. In addition, the lawsuit says the underwriters only disclosed the lower forecasts to select “preferred” investors. Wednesday’s suit is just one of

several filed across the country. Many investors feel mislead by the highly anticipated IPO, which was reported to have been massively oversubscribed. The Facebook initial public offering was nothing short of a dud. Investors never got the widely expected first day pop. And myriad market participants were left with many more shares than they expected, forcing them to dump shares when Facebook began trading. In the two days following Facebook’s storied IPO, shareholders lost some $2.6 billion. A separate suit was filed Tuesday, May 22, against the Nasdaq stating the exchange grossly mishandled shares of Facebook in its IPO. Francis Gaskin, President and founder of IPOdesktop.com told The Suit, “There was harm but

by diane e. alter no foul. What you have here is a bunch of legal beagles trying to get a settlement out of a fat juicy target. It is not unusual for underwriters to change estimates ahead of an initial public offering. They do it all the time. It’s a big boy’s game, there is no denying that.” “Facebook did divert the issue. Zuckerberg wanted and went for the $100 billon market cap. He is 28 and a billionaire. He doesn’t care about ordinary investors. In fact, he is off somewhere on his honeymoon,” Gaskin said. “The ordeal has hurt Facebook’s brand and image. People are having a field day making fun of Zuckerberg. There is a great YouTube video out there poking fun at him. But again, what does Zuckerberg care, he is a billionaire 30 times over,” Gaskin added.

THE SUIT MAGAZINE p.9


by david novack

The Cyber Security Filter Raytheon Trusted Computer Solutions and The Ever-Changing Face of Cyber Security

N

ew technologies and business models are now offering businesses and consumers new benefits for the use of information and communications. At the same time, the ever-increasing use of IT is accompanied by new sets of cyber threats, developing in ever more rapid, sophisticated and sinister ways. Raytheon Trusted Computer Solutions (RTCS) is part of Raytheon’s Intelligence and Information Systems business. RTCS develops and deploys cross-domain solutions that enable government and civilian agencies to share and access information securely across multiple classified networks at different classification levels. Essentially, they help customers protect sensitive and classified information while ensuring that the information gets to the correct people in a timely manner. “The use of cross-domain technology is growing substantially because our customers recognize the cost savings and productivity gains that can be achieved by deploying these solutions. The need to access and transfer sensitive or classified information has always been there, but cross-domain solutions make it easier, faster, more secure, and less costly than traditional methods,” said Lisa Brown, President of Raytheon Trusted Computer Solutions. “We are also starting to see a need for this technology in the commercial space. One example of that would be organizations going through various acquisitions and mergers. They have a vital need to keep their networks separate for security purposes.” Brown says that one of the largest

THE SUIT MAGAZINE - APR / MAY 2012

and growing threats in cyber security is the use of mobile devices for business and government transactions. “Mobile technology offers a lot of productivity, but the security risks are really unique, not to mention vast.” Industry surveys contend that the use of mobile devices in government and corporations are driving the requirement for more security measures. “At RTCS, we are finding ways to better secure tablets and smartphones, considering the popularity and massive growth of these devices,” said Brown.

Lisa Brown, President, Raytheon Trusted Computer Solutions

During the economic downturn, RTCS has been very fortunate, experiencing fantastic growth as the demand for workplace security continues to rise. “In times of budget reductions, our products are ideal because, in addition to security, we also save our clients time and money,” said Brown. “Our products offer solid value to customers in good and bad economic times.”

12950 Worldgate Drive, Suite 600 Herndon, VA 20170 P. +1 (866) 230-1307 www.trustedcs.com

We are finding ways to better secure tablets and smartphones” - Lisa Brown


by the suit staff

Charting a Course the Clouds with Fortune 500 Network Architecture

Mike Guigli, CEO of Massachusetts-based CloudConnect LLC.

www.cloudconnect.net

THE SUIT MAGAZINE - APR / MAY 2012

C

l o u d computing represents the biggest shift in computing in the last 15 years. It is as fundamental a change as the move from client-server to webcentric computing, and in many ways more so. Cloud computing is changing business models in that it now gives people the ability to efficiently allocate computing power on demand, in a true utility model. It changes the very landscape of the way companies use IT resources. By the end of 2012, cloud spending will triple to $42 billion. Already, the money spent on cloud computing is growing at over five times the rate of traditional, onpremises IT. Cloud adopters are enjoying lower costs and a greater ability to adapt to changing market conditions. Despite these trends, companies won’t switch to cloud models overnight. Rather, they’ll migrate layers of their IT infrastructure over time. Between today’s plethora of enterprise data centers and tomorrow’s world of ubiquitous computing, is a middle ground of hybrid clouds, opportunistic deployment, and the mixing of business systems with consumer applications. “What we provide is the infrastructure layer, so traditionally, companies that had workstations with a server in the backroom at their office are now able to allow

us to host that infrastructure in a virtual environment so businesses aren’t tied to real hardware ownership,” says Mike Guigli, CEO of Massachusetts-based CloudConnect. “We saw this as an enormous demand in every business environment. Companies had to invest a lot of time and money into IT, and what cloud computing has brought to the table are huge advantages, both from a time perspective, an efficiency perspective and a monetary perspective. One big advantage to our clients is that cloud-based environments cut out the leasing of devices, and gives our clients, for the most part, an office environment which is extracted from the underlying hardware at our facilities.” Guigli’s CloudConnect service is essentially a virtual desktop and server cloud designed for small business. CloudConnect replaces traditional PCs with hosted virtual desktops, and is designed to perform and feel exactly like a personal computer. With a single login, users gain access to their own virtual desktop from anywhere using any device. The platform requires no additional training, no hardware purchase, and no data conversion. “We’ve been able to leverage a Fortune 500 enterprise IT architecture, and deliver an outsource subscription model to small and medium size business,” says Guigli. “The big enabler ... has been the ever-evolving Internet infrastructure and our ability to deploy a


to cloudconnect for the Rest of Us multi-desktop service over the Internet, which is our specialty. Our clients start with specific departments in their organization. As they become comfortable with the power and value of virtualization, we begin to see company-wide architecture changes with our clients.” CloudConnect desktops are hosted in a secure data center, and can be networked together based on a company’s needs. Employees can gain access to the platform from anywhere using a computer ’s web browser or the CloudConnect Desktop Receiver. CloudConnect’s proprietary Desktop Receiver is a small hardware device simply linking the virtual desktop with a workstation, and connecting the keyboard, monitor, mouse, and USB devices to the cloud. “Our customers can gain instant flexibility and security of hosted cloud computing while keeping their existing server and legacy applications,” says Guigli. “The most important solution take-away our customers experience is the fact that they will never have to purchase another PC or server again.” The world has only begun to scratch the surface of what the cloud can do, because cloud computing will forever change

how people perceive technology. Clouds change the way enterprise IT is planned. It changes how start-ups launch

and grow t h e i r business. It alters the tools and methods with which developers build applications. And the cloud continues to demand new hardware and software platforms, both for enterprises and for the companies delivering cloud computing services. “Our company is constantly changing. When we started 2010, we were still in the testing phase. These architectures we design put a lot of demands on our company, particularly the type of cloud service we provide as opposed to traditional cloud services,” says Guigli. “We are actually just starting to replace the desktop in our clients’ environments,

and this has taken us a good 18 months to really start migrating our clients to a full-service virtual environment with complete access to all of their applications.” A lot of IT partners have been lining up as potential resellers for CloudConnect. The company’s clients are beginning to see real value in how CloudConnect can streamline costs, drastically increase up-time and reliability, provide more sophisticated data security and foster the ability to use mobile devices like tablets and smartphones over a company network. The future is truly bright for those adopting the cloud. The next big phase of virtual computing will have to do with a broader scope of wireless capabilities. “Our customers are relying on ever-evolving Internet technology, and they’re starting to rely heavily on 4G mobile broadband, which is a lot more reliable and which is where we think the future of a lot of enterprise networks are going. Additionally, we plan to invest more in new virtualization technologies. Essentially where we’re trying to go is an online app store, where users can sign up for our service, decide what applications they need, checkout and instantly sign-on to a virtual desktop that provides all of their application needs.” THE SUIT MAGAZINE p.13


by wendy connick

Solving the

legal disconnect How One Law Firm Innovated Its Way to Success

M

ost people with health problems wouldn’t think twice about finding a doctor and getting treatment. People with legal problems, however, are far less likely to even try to find a lawyer. They are not as familiar with how to go about finding representation at a time when there is actually an oversupply of lawyers in the United States. In the 1970s, an attorney named William Brooks saw this disconnect as a business opportunity and looked for ways to resolve both issues. “The idea stemmed from studies of the American Bar Association, which showed that in the United States, people had a great need for legal services. It also showed that the vast majority of people needing legal care chose not to see a lawyer. People don’t like lawyers; they’re afraid of lawyers. They’re worried about fees or how to find a lawyer,” Brooks said. “I got into it with my friend and partner, Joe Hyatt, in the late ‘70s. We were both lawyers.” Together Hyatt and Brooks founded Hyatt Legal Services, a nationwide law firm. Within ten years it had become the largest law firm in the United States, eventually focusing on offering legal plans rather than direct legal services. “A fundamental service we provide to people who enroll is locating their lawyer,” Brooks said. “You might think of it as being on the wholesale end of legal services.” THE SUIT MAGAZINE - APR / MAY 2012

During the economic downturn, Brooks shaped his plans to suit the new paradigm. “More and more employers are moving away from providing employer-paid benefits to providing so-called voluntary, employee-paid benefits,” he said. “That employer might first shift healthcare, life insurance and disability insurance from an employer-paid benefit to a benefit that is at least partially employee-paid, and then also add things like dental, legal, critical illness, long term care, financial planning, and other benefit options for employees to select. That shift has had a big impact

on our growth and is definitely a trend that has helped us.” Brooks has also seen a huge increase in business during the recession, stemming from the need for bankruptcy representation and other debt-related issues. “It was really the first time in our history that we saw such a dramatic increase in the use of one particular benefit,” he said. “Bankruptcy use has started to move toward more normal levels, but it definitely had a big impact. In that sense, you could say the recession has actually helped underscore the value and need for our service.”  

www.legalplans.com


by andrea lehner

True Help for the

Newly Disabled

Allsup helps SSDI claimants through a tough transition

W

ith Social Security benefits disbursements exceeding payroll tax contributions by $140 billion in 2011, the debate about future sustainability of the Social Security Administration (SSA) rages on. While the stakes are high for those counting on retirement income (currently 89 percent of retired Americans receive benefits), over 10 million Americans in households of disabled workers under retirement age also count on Social Security benefits to survive. Ron Buerges, Executive Vice President and COO of Allsup, a leading national disability representation company, knows just how important disability benefits are to individuals who want to work, but who are no longer able to as a result of a long-term illness or injury. “Our core focus is obtaining benefits for people who have a new disabling condition,” he said. Allsup’s SSDI and Disability Life Planning services are designed to provide assistance to those in transition from a salaried income to surviving on drastically reduced incomes and depleted assets. The SSDI application process is lengthy and complicated, often leaving families on the brink of financial ruin before any actual

benefit dollars can arrive. Allsup helps t h e m through this complex process, offering alternatives to keep them in their homes and receiving medical care while awaiting their disability award, which they refer to as True Help®. “If you are newly disabled and unemployed, and you don’t have long-term disability insurance, your life has been turned upside down,” Buerges said. “People’s lives are affected, so there’s a lot we have to get right.” Allsup works as a liaison between the claimant and the SSA during the Social Security disability adjudication and review process, continuously advocating for improved processes that benefit both parties. While recognizing the current fiscal uncertainty surrounding the SSA, Buerges is confident the Social Security Disability Trust fund won’t go broke. “Reform is an inevitable situation,” he said. “The government has made modifications over the years to make that happen, and we are confident they will do that again.”

Founder and CEO Jim Allsup is actively monitoring SSA’S efforts to improve processes, reduce the backlog of claims and modernize through use of technology. Many are advocating for out-and-out reform. “Right now, it’s an all-ornothing benefit,” Buerges said. “That could change. Regardless, we will be here to develop new True Help products and services that will help people with disabilities maximize limited income and assets. If how Social Security disability income is obtained changes, our job will become more of a challenge, but we will be here to help.”

www.allsup.com

THE SUIT MAGAZINE p.15


by wendy connick

INTERNATIONAL

FORENSIC EXPERTS Real World Forensic Scientists at Work

W

hen a crime occurs, attorneys on both sides need experts to study the evidence and figure out exactly what happened. Police forces have internal crime scene laboratories, but even they sometimes need to go outside for experts in certain specialties. Other parties must find and hire outside experts for each aspect of the crime – such as trace evidence, bloodstain patterns, latent prints, and cause of death. That’s where International Forensics Experts (IFE) comes in. Assembled by James Pex, a former crime scene investigator and director of the crime laboratory for the Oregon State Police, IFE is a collection of forensic experts specializing in different areas of crime investigation. Pex brought together the group of fellow experts and former colleagues to provide a “one-stop-shop” for forensics. “A single case, for example a homicide, could have firearms involvement, could have issues with computers and cell phones, and the attorney has to go out and find an expert in all of these areas,” Pex said. “Under the consortium, an attorney can bill several experts under one contract.” Pex has been a forensic consultant since he retired from the Oregon State Police in 2002. “I started my own consulting firm, which was Pex Forensic Consulting. And as the caseload

THE SUIT MAGAZINE - APR / MAY 2012

James Pex Founder, IFE

increased it became difficult to keep up,” he said. “I sought out fellow former experts that were retired and ... drew them into my business, taking some of the caseload off of my hands. I knew a lot of people who were very good scientists and had long, distinguished careers in state or federal government in the field of forensic science.” IFE usually works on homicides and other crimes resulting in death, frequently providing contract services to government and military groups. These experts work as a team to deconstruct each aspect of the crime. “A crime scene investigation such as a vehicle crash might be examined, both by an engineer and by a regular traffic reconstructionist. But we do it as

a team,” Pex said. “Peer review is mandatory within our group. You have a circumstance where you have found something that is pivotal information, unusual in a case. We’re [going to] discuss it as a group before you go out on your own. And this has a lot of value, because by the time our group has gone through it, the probability of accuracy is very high.”

internationalforensicexperts.com


by the suit staff

Speaking the Right Communication Helps New Companies Evolve in Global Markets

I

t seems that everywhere we turn we get bombarded with information -- from television and radio to the Internet, social media, blogs and never-ending newsfeed updates. With so much information at our fingertips, being able to send a clear message is more important than ever. While it may seem like having more channels for communication increases our ability to actually communicate, the decline of real-time, in-person exchanges has created a deficit in communication skills. The words come across, but the meaning often gets lost. With so many businesses vying for attention, those wanting

THE SUIT MAGAZINE - APR / MAY 2012

to make sure they are being heard turn to communication experts like Ted Agne, CEO of The Communications Strategy Group Inc. CSG helps both new and established technology, health care, biotech and life science companies develop the best external communication strategies for effectively reaching clients, investors and industry partners. “Our sweet spot is helping emerging companies make themselves known and find their way,” Agne said. “To fine-tune that, we help U.K and E.U. companies wanting to come to the U.S. Whether they are at the clinical stage or are marketing a product, we help

them find potential partners, collaboration deals and sometimes funding.” As a communication specialist, Agne knows how to keep deals moving by understanding the nuances of each party’s perspective. “Nothing is impossible,” he said. “Clients come to us with very difficult problems, and we find ways to resolve them. It’s like the old saying goes: ‘When the front door slams in your face, go around to the back and find another way in.’” Agne says having learned early in his career to use a journalistic writing style in his business communications has proven invaluable, adding that being able to


Agne’s concept was to provide a service that in “scope and cost fulfilled the demands of emerging companies in an emerging market.” This model also worked well for segueing into life sciences. “We bring a very high-quality, high-level communications experience at a price they can afford,” Agne said. In order to keep costs down and quality high, CSG has both in-house specialists and partnerships with top-tier boutique firms in the U.S. and abroad to meet various service needs—advertising, design, writing, media relations and financial investor relations. Agne says that having a team that can expand or contract depending on current needs helps CSG stay fresh, economically mobile and able to bring value to the client. Because CSGhas developed alliances throughout Europe, they are uniquely positioned to help life sciences companies trying to enter the U.S. “We understand the U.K. and the European culture,” Agne said. This helps them facilitate effective communication on both

Language write effectively seems to be a diminishing skill these days. “Students can’t write today,” he said. “When I taught part-time at a local university, I was somewhat shocked at the poor quality of the writing turned in. I attribute this to our current ‘texting society.” He compared this to the stringent requirements his first employer had for approving any written statements leaving the company. “If a press release wasn’t well written, it didn’t go out. Writing needs to be filled with facts, not a bunch of hype,” he added. Boston-based CSG started out working with tech firms at the start of the tech boom in the mid-1980s.

sides of the pond. “There is fantastic science coming out of U.K. universities,” Agne said. “They have brilliant scientists, but one of the things we do better here in the U.S. is to take that science and develop it and commercialize it.” CSG helps provide that marketing edge needed for successful growth. Another trend Agne noted was American companies launching new pharmaceuticals and medical devices in Europe first because of the slow FDA approval process. “The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has a better approval process,” he said. “More companies are going that route, and since we know our way around in Europe and have dealt with the EMA for a number of years, we are positioned to help our clients with this type of strategy.” While the FDA is aware of its organizational problems when it comes to dealing with red tape and is trying to correct them, changes are difficult and slow to put in place. “Like anything else in Washington,” Agne said, “it’s like trying to turn a supertanker. It takes miles to execute the turn.” Agne explained that getting approved in Europe first doesn’t mean the product is also approved for use in America. The American companies still have to go through the FDA’s approval process. However, having a proven product that is approved and performing elsewhere does help facilitate getting FDA approval. From educating clients on the real versus perceived value of press releases to enlisting the support of international ambassadors to ease strained relations in global partnerships, CSG is proactive about making sure its clients, regardless of size, are able get their message out correctly and effectively.

www.comstratgroup.com THE SUIT MAGAZINE p.19


by wendy connick

Financial

Management in a Bear Market Expert Advice HAS BECOME More Critical than Ever

W

hen the stock market is doing well, almost anyone can make money regardless of their investment strategy. Investing wisely during a market downturn is much harder, which makes financial advisers a vital part of the planning process. Even advisers struggle during economic downturns because clients expectations are primed for bull markets. “We’re in the middle of a very long-term secular bear market. People still look back to the time frame of 1982 through 2000, when the average rate of return was about 15 ½ to 16 percent per year,” said Michael Palumbos, owner of Family Wealth Advisor. “A lot of people are comparing their portfolios today and saying, ‘What happened? Why aren’t we getting that?’ And it’s very hard to continually remind them that we’ve probably got another five to seven years of unhealthy market.” Palumbos has approached the problem by putting the situation in perspective for his clients. “There’s a question that we always ask: If everything in your life boiled down to three assets – knowledge, your money and your values – which two are you passing your kids? And that question helps people to really focus,” he said. Collaborative Family Office, LLC,

THE SUIT MAGAZINE - APR / MAY 2012

Michael Palumbos, owner of Family Wealth Advisor

a second company, was also recently launched by Palumbos to help clients set up and manage family legacies. “Our goal for the year is for that website to become a real source for families to use to strengthen their family, grow their wealth and create a legacy for the family,” he said. In addition to helping clients uncover non-monetary wealth that they can pass along to their families, Palumbos has adjusted his management style to improve their returns from the declining market. “We added many non-correlated asset classes and alternative portfolio management styles to help diversify client portfolios during the downturn,” he explained. By diversifying his clients’ portfolios in unconnected types of investments, Palumbos

works to minimize losses and reduce risks. During the downturn, Palumbos focused on helping his existing clients rather than on finding new ones. “They deserved having us spend the time with them versus trying to acquire new clients at that time,” he said. “Through that and listening to people, we definitely went through our largest period of enhancements to our process and innovation, and looked at ways of adding value for our clients, so that they can rebound faster.”

michaelpalumbos.com


by david novack

The Personal CFO

Approach to Family Finance

I

n today’s world, where economic certainty is gone, job security is a thing of the past, and we are forced to be more self-reliant in our economic existence just to get by, almost every one of us has had to make changes in adjusting to a whole new financial reality. Many people have lost benefits at work.

Group manages and quarterbacks every aspect of a family’s finances including investments, estate planning, and tax and insurance planning. Today, as many advisers and clients migrate away from brokerage firms or wire houses, Moneta group seems to be benefiting from this new financial adviser model. “The economy is forcing people to think smarter about family cash flow and retirement,” says Diederich. Gene Diederich “We are a fee-only-based firm, so we don’t represent any CEO, Moneta Group products or vendors. Others have had to take Our entrepreneurial over their own IRA or teams, led by our prinother account after loscipals, focus on exceping a job. tional service. We are Gene Diederich is the paid only by our clients CEO of Moneta Group, based on the assets we a firm providing finanmanage, and don’t take cial services to clients revenue sharing from with complex financial mutual funds or comlives in these trying missions. This allows us times. “Our core values to act as true fiduciaries include being passionto our clients and enate about what we do, sures that we are on the acting in our clients’ best same side of the table.” interests, and delivering The modern financial ‘Fan Raving’ service. We adviser focuses more on do this through a very a client’s behavior rather distinct model we call than on selling financial the Family CFO model,” products. “In 2008 and says Diederich. “This 2009, we balanced bad model focuses on acteconomic times with a ing as a family chief fi- “Our core values include being passionate disciplined approach to nancial officer. … Our re-balancing a client’s competitors frequently about what we do, acting in our clients’ best portfolios,” says Diedonly address the invest- interests, and delivering ‘Fan Raving’ service. erich, “and will do the ment side of a family’s same now that markets finances.” are running back up. Clients often engage Moneta Group to streamline We stress the importance of developing an allocation their financial planning process and eliminate the need plan, and … an important part of what we do for clients for multiple advisers—although the firm is happy to colis to help them stick with the plan they’ve laid out.” laborate with clients’ other professionals if they prefer. The resulting relationships are analogous to the responsibilities of a CFO within a company or corporation. Many families are still trying to recover from changes in the economic landscape over the past few years that have affected their finances in different ways. Moneta www.monetagroup.com

THE SUIT MAGAZINE p.21


by wendy connick

The Recipe for

Leadership Large or Small: Determining the Attributes of a Business Leader

T

he statistics on small business failure rates are frightening. According to the Small Business Administration (SBA), while an estimated 552,600 new employer firms opened for business in 2009, 660,900 firms closed their doors. Small businesses, with less capital and a shallower customer base than larger businesses, are hit harder during periods of economic turmoil. Yet some small businesses not only survive, but even manage to thrive. David Burnham, owner of Burnham Rosen Group, decided to find out why. Since 1968, Burnham has been conducting research in psychology, partnering with the late David McClelland, then chairman of the Social Relations Department at Harvard. “We operated a business together many, many years ago,” Burnham said. “The purpose of the business was to take his research, or what was rapidly becoming our research, and apply that to leadership, to management, to small business, to alcoholism – to a whole range of societal issues.” Since McClelland’s death in 1998, Burnham continues to pursue empirical research, applying it to the field of leadership development. Together, Burnham and McClelland discovered that implicit motives – those drives arising from the unconscious mind – can predict the likelihood of a specific person becoming a successful leader in THE SUIT MAGAZINE - APR / MAY 2012

Of those small businesses that succeed, 80% of them are owned and managed by men and women who are dominant in what’s called ‘the achievement motive’” - David Burnham

David Burnham, owner of Burnham Rosen Group

small business. People don’t even realize these drives are working. “Of those small businesses that succeed, 80% of them are owned and managed by men and women who are dominant in what’s called ‘the achievement motive,’ ” Burnham said. “And of those that don’t succeed, about 10% are owned and managed by people dominant in that motive. So you can see that the probability of success if you’re dominant in that motive is extremely high and the probability of failure is relatively low.” Burnham and McClelland initially assumed that this achievement motive would also apply to leaders of large corporations, but their research soon indicated otherwise. The original research showed that successful CEOs possessed a strong desire to influence others – a “power motive.” By the 1990’s, however, while leaders’ desire to influence remained

the same, the way superior leaders thought about influence had started to change. “We did another research study that we started in 1992 … And in that study, what we saw was that leaders who were consistently delivering superior performance were no longer the model of what I’ll now refer to as ‘20th century leadership’ but 21st century leaders, who were purpose driven as opposed to visionary,” Burnham said. “That is, they really focused on ‘what’s the purpose of our business for our customer?’ And they were much more mutual: that is, leaders whose organizations were delivering superior performance were much more collaborative with others.”

www.burnhamrosen.com


business briefs

Less Risky Business by melanie hicken

W

hile most asset management firms saw their portfolios plummet during the 2008 financial crisis, the core fund managed by Canadian firm Marret Asset Management Inc. fell by a mere 2.7 percent. Marret Founder and President Barry Allan attributes that to a philosophy the firm has stuck to since its inception in 2001 — opting for low-volatility, steady-return investments over their riskier, more volatile counterparts. “If you want to beat an index over the long term, the best way to do it is not to lose money when the market goes down,” Allan says. “You do not have to outperform the market when the market is up 20 percent if you break even when the market is down 10 or 15. If you do that over the long term, you will have a higher return in the market, but you will have taken dramatically less risk to produce that return.”

Allan says that the financial recession actually helped his business grow as investors flocked to the firm, a rarity in the financial services world. Today, the company oversees more than $6 billion in high-yield and investment-grade corporate debt assets for institutional, highnet-worth and retail clients. “We fundamentally believe that for an asset management company to be strong, it must have diversified distribution channels,” he says. Marret is 100-percent employee-owned, another attribute that Allan says sets the firm apart from its larger competitors. “I really believe that in the asset management business, the key ingredient for success is trust,” he explains.

www.marret.ca

First Wall Street Financial Advisors by david novack

K

ay Dunham owns and operates the Reno, Nevada-based firm, First Wall Street Financial Advisors, providing comprehensive financial services. Many of her clients are conservative investors looking for stability in their investments. Others require a level of customization tailored to each individual’s personal needs. Dunham, who entered banking in 1965, held many positions in commercial banking, and was responsible for setting bank interest rates, managing loan programs and portfolios, and issuing mortgage backs. As her career in the financial industry progressed, and as the banking world continued to merge into larger financial entities, Dunham used her experience and knowledge to go out on her own and start First Wall Street Advisors. “My main motivation was really the individual,” says Dunham. “As banking became more impersonal, and financial institutions became larger, I wanted to use my skills to help individuals, and develop strategies and plans tailored to each of my clients.” While business is good today, she admits that the regu-

latory environment limits brokers like her. The difficulty is in keeping an effective focus on clients when they are constantly worried about today’s over-burdensome regulations. “It causes brokers to do things not in the best interest of the client,” says Dunham, “which is what we try to avoid.” Dunham has had challenges as a female entrepreneur in the banking industry, but her love of helping retirees, near-retirees and even young investors with retirement strategies has never waned. “By focusing on each client, understanding the current and future climate of the economy, staying focused on long-range client goals and embracing technology as a resource, I’ve been able to be a very credible and effective adviser for all of my client pool.” When asked about the importance of credibility in her industry, she says it’s vital. “Stick with your best ideas, and be consistent.”

www.firstwallstreet.net

THE SUIT MAGAZINE p.23


by wendy connick

A Surprising Economic

Casualty The Crippling of Workers’ Compensation

D

uring the economic crisis, even state and federal government agencies had to cut costs and look for ways to save money. The result was a cutback on many social programs that people take for granted. For example, Lee Braunstein, an attorney of the Law Offices of Lee S. Braunstein, P.C., has seen huge changes in the workers’ compensation application process during the past few years. “Workers’ Compensation has been around since the beginning of the 20th century,” Braunstein said. “New York, like every other state, came up with a system which in theory is supposed to provide financial benefits and medical benefits pretty much instantly, to help carry you through the period where you’re disabled.” Workers’ compensation is a tradeoff protecting employers from lawsuits while still providing compensation for injured employees. “The law is i n tentionally In the last several years, written to be [worker’s comp law] has very liberal. changed dramatically.” The idea is, unless the person is just not - Lee S. Braunstein _ credible, or unless there’s no medical documentation to confirm the accident, they give every benefit of doubt to the injured worker,” he said. “In the last several years, that has changed dramatically.” Workers’ compensation claims have always been administered by the Workers’ Compensation Board through the state, but in the past few years the system has become far more adversarial. In 2010, New York State changed the workers’ compensation guidelines to limit available medical treatments. According to Braunstein, no

THE SUIT MAGAZINE - APR / MAY 2012

one involved is happy with the changes. “Most practitioners on both sides are miserable. And most of these insurance companies are miserable,” he said. “And they’ve basically taken away the right of the law judge, when there was a dispute over something as small as physical therapy or medication or need for minor tests, to authorize those things quickly at a hearing.” Even former employees who received permanent pensions decades ago have had their cases reopened by insurance companies and their pensions revoked. “If these changes continue, as far as the change in the medical structure, the payment schedule, the fact that they have no pensions available to them anymore... these people are going to be on the doorstep of Albany very soon,” Braunstein said.

www.leebraunstein.com


by frank graziano

HOW TO MAKE PROSPECTS COME LOOKING FOR YOU financial management for high tech companies

F

or entrepreneurs and small business owners, sales techniques have changed immensely in the past few decades. Michael Gonnerman Instant communications and networking through the internet email and social media make all-referral businesses not only possible, but extremely lucrative. An entrepreneur who spends the time and energy to position himself as an expert in his field need never make another cold call. Michael Gonnerman, an independent financial consultant to early stage companies, is a perfect example of the all-referral approach’s potential. “My work, my clients, come all from referrals, or 99% come from referrals,” he said. “They don’t come from PR and marketing and advertising, glitz and glamour. Just sort of the nuts and bolts: giving sound, quality advice to a company’s leaders will lead to more referrals. That’s the way I’ve grown the business.” For the past 22 years Gonnerman has provided financial consulting services to more than 100 companies in a variety of different industries – as diverse as software, nano-technology, film production, micro-brewing, and shoe and wedding band manufacturing. And, throughout the United States, as well as Europe and China. He’s established his network of clients through referrals from former coworkers, investors and other clients. “I have not been proactive in developing Facebook, Twitter accounts, Tumblr accounts, so I’m a little behind the eight ball on that. I’m on

LinkedIn, but I don’t use it to promote myself,” he said. His chief promotional tool has been his website, on which he provides free financial tools and information. Gonnerman also uses an e-newsletter to keep in touch and promote himself with his clients and prospective clients. “In 2001 I began issuing an email newsletter called ‘Ask Mike,’” he said. “I’m always asked questions about financial issues and so I published the questions and my responses in the email newsletter. Ultimately, I turned it into a book called ‘Ask Mike’ which is available at Amazon and and Lulu.com.” Interestingly, Gonnerman has found that he’s asked the same types of financial questions regardless of the state of the economy. “The questions I was answering in the early 1990s were, ‘How much cash do I have? How long will it last? What do I have to tell investors? What do I have to tell bankers? What does a balance sheet mean? What’s my cash outlook look like?’ And those are the same questions I’m answering in 2012,” he said. “The people founding the businesses are highly skilled in their technical area but they need help with the numbers. They need help with cash management. And that has not changed one iota.”

ASK MIKE: Answers to common [and uncommon] questions about entrepreneurial finance ON SALE NOW!

www.gonnerman.com

THE SUIT MAGAZINE p.25


by wendy connick

We survived the downturn of the economy very well”

Keeping Not-for-Profits

Ahead of the Curve Shaping the financial world one client at a time

T

he non-profit landscape is a unique and dynamic environment. With six offices worldwide, Kellen Company takes pride in its knowledge of the not-for-profit sector, and takes advantage of its ability to solve client challenges. Kellen specializes in the “association” and “trade organization” fields. “Our primary business involves managing trade associations, professional societies and other not-for-profit organizations,” says Peter Rush, Chairman and CEO of the company. “A volunteer board of directors hires us as their complete staff, and, as a result, our client completely eliminates the need for any additional staff to run and manage its organization. We provide executive and operational management, financial accounting, meeting management, online and print communication, billing, outreach programs and membership recruitment, so we do everything for an association. It’s a different way for an association to staff itself. And elected leaders and volunteer boards don’t

THE SUIT MAGAZINE - APR / MAY 2012

- Peter Rush _

have to worry about running the organization because we provide oversight to the staff they’re assigned.” Although Kellen started out with six employees, it has now grown to 200. Rush explains that, through giving managers room to experiment and test new strategies, Kellen has become the premier name in its industry. “I’ve never been a believer of the ‘not invented here’ theory. I believe good ideas come from everywhere within a company. We have six offices worldwide, and each year we pull 100 of those folks together to share best practices and upcoming technologies as well as explore new ideas. This has been the key to our success.” Key to growth is the company’s willingness to provide whatever the association needs to operate. As a result, Kellen has expanded to include service divisions for communications, meeting management, website development, creative services and public affairs. Rush also attributes Kellen’s achievements to staying far ahead of the social media curve. Kellen educates its communications and membership staff, and maintains what Rush calls an “internal venture capital fund” that annually invests in a new idea to promote the business. “We survived the downturn of the economy very well,” says Rush. “We stayed profitable and avoided any lay-offs. We dialed back on expenses, and we see now in many of our sectors that markets are coming back and in most of our meetings attendance is back. We also have a number of programs that have been instituted this year. Companies are now willing to invest.” Kellen continues to look at additional opportunities, including expansion in China and Chicago, so it can be more competitive. And it has expanded its communications capabilities to compete with other mid-size agencies. “We stay focused on what we do well, so we are adding capabilities that serve our core client base. We never stray away from that,” says Rush.

www.kellencompany.com


STILL PUZZLED ... by your supply chain solution?

Streamlining supply chains throughout the automotive, retail, pharmaceutical, pulp & paper, logistic, and food industries. www.meadewillis.com

Contact Meade Willis today for a free consultation regarding your e-commerce, EDI, supply-chain requirements: (866) 369-1146 | www.meadewillis.com


by the suit staff

Pushing for Change

Stateside Associates knows that government affairs consulting requires constant professional evolution

I

n the high-stakes and everchanging world of government affairs, maintaining clients and attracting new ones comes down to constantly evolving to provide the best and most effective services. “We are constantly pushing for change and to deliver new things to the sector,” says Connie Campanella, founder and president of Stateside Associates, based in Arlington, Virginia, a state and local government relations firm that represents companies, nonprofits, trade associations and other clients nationwide. She founded the firm in 1988 and drew upon her own professional experience in government and government affairs to grow it from a one-person shop to nearly 50 employees. While there was a host of consulting firms at the time that focused on the federal government, Campanella said she saw a void of consultants that focused specifically on state and local governments. “The services that were out there were very basic and didn’t contribute anything in terms of a client-centric or an issue-centric point of view,” she said. “I remember, early on, one of my clients from Dow Chemical said, ‘You’re the first firm we’ve ever heard of that really

thinks about the issue and what needs to be done about it instead of just having a service to sell.’” Even more so than other industries, government affairs requires agility because of the “astronomical level of change” involved as officials rotate in and out of office, said Campanella. Evolving with technology has also been key, she noted, citing a range of innovations Stateside has rolled out throughout the years. Stateside was the first in the industry to create client-specific Web portals where clients could view customized information about relevant news from the state and local levels. In recent years, the platform was improved to include updates, like an interactive calendar to help officials track upcoming hearings and other dates. Currently, the firm is in the process of launching a new social media monitoring service, specifically mapped for state and local governments, and another service that will alert customers to updates about the regulatory process. “We can’t be static. We can’t be complacent. Because the people we support, the senior corporate executives, they are dealing with these issues,” she said. “If we are seen as having the solutions and the support vision from five years ago, then they’re going to look past us. They’re going to look for people who understand the way the world is today.”

www.stateside.com

THE SUIT MAGAZINE - APR / MAY 2012


business briefs

Jim Barkas,

Managing Director, BNI

Sourcing Success

This Firm’s Key is Honing in on a Unique Niche by melanie hicken

by the suit staff

Leveraging

Lessons Learned

I

f lessons are there to be learned from economic hardship, and if those lessons can be leveraged successfully to create new ways of doing business, then Business Network International (BNI) has found the way to do it. Jim Barkas, Managing Director, has grown his company by “putting people, projects and places together” using old ways of “countertrade” or “barter,” combining them into new methods of “structured trade finance” and “industrial cooperation.” Barkas utilized studies at Princeton, his work at Harvard and MIT and then his commercial and investment banking careers to establish early on an enduring capability for doing business in Eastern Europe, and the Baltic and Balkan markets. “Business is all about relationships and contacts – who you know and how you can help them apply what they know,” Barkas relates. His influential personal connections evolved into the extensive global network supporting BNI’s success today. A company truly on the cutting edge of geopolitical trends, BNI is capable of quickly channeling resources directly into new areas of interest. “We focus on dual-use industries which are essential to economic development, defense and security. This would include energy and food security, IT, telecom, aircraft, and security products. These industries address vital needs which can only grow over time. “Our innovative financing is giving us a clear competitive advantage. Our team can mitigate credit risks and provide inexpensive financing while others can’t. In a sense it’s back to the ‘80s when we learned the business,” said Barkas. “The banks’ problems and the soft economies create our opportunities. As the major banks pull back, unconventional financing and creative business development need to fill the void.” This was the theme of his presentation “Pioneering Offset Solutions on the New Frontier of NATO” in Sofia, Bulgaria last year. “In a Brave New World, one has to use foresight and imagination to brave the challenges.” www.bnigroup.biz

W

hen Michael Giambra founded his staffing firm ESource in 1995, the firm was one of the first in the industry to hone in on a unique specialty — business training and development. “I saw a real niche in the training and development field,” says Giambra. “There was no company providing training and development to professionals on a contract basis.” “We’ve been doing it longer than other people and this is all we do,” he said. “We are a pure play training and development staffing company, so we speak the same language as our customers, and we go a little deeper than our competitors.” ESource has a database of more than 20,000 training professionals. On one occasion, ESource was even able to locate a printing press trainer for a client. By the company’s second year, its annual revenues had jumped from $400,000 to $2 million. Nearly two decades later ESource still has the same niche approach — an attribute that Giambra says continues to set the firm apart in an increasingly competitive market. Still, one of the training industry’s biggest hurdles is how closely it is tied to the national economy, said Giambra. When the economy collapses as it did in 2009, training budgets are the first to be cut. Now, he said he is starting to see strong signs of a turnaround. “When times are rough, we follow that roughness, but when times start trending upward again, like they are right now, we are the first to feel it,” He said. “There is so much pent-up demand for training and development when the economy starts coming back.”

www.esourcecorp.com

THE SUIT MAGAZINE p.29


by david novak

Building Leadership within a Diverse Workforce

M

i c h e l e S y n e g a l ’s goal has always been to assist clients in creating business cultures that focus on inclusion for all employees. The emergence of the diverse workforces throughout the last decade have required more sophisticated leadership skills, and Synegal, President and CEO of D.C.based Management Dynamics, Inc. (MDI), has successfully worked with private and public sector companies to achieve their business objectives through this strategy. “Our largest client is the Federal Government, and our project scopes include organization-wide training, cultural audits, conflict mediation, crisis intervention and EEO Legal Compliance. We have managed an array of projects for the government, as well as private sector organizations. This can be anything from employee behavioral and skill assessments to leadership development to in-house video productions. But our overall goal is to listen to the client, and deliver high-level consulting services that serve that client and foster a reliance on employee contributions to help the success of the entire organization,” says Synegal. Twice cited in Newsweek Magazine as an expert on the changing demographics of America’s corporate suites, Synegal has built a career on affecting change within corporations to reflect societal changes. Synegal approaches each new client with fiscal responsibility, practical results and positive shareholder returns in mind. “A major aspect of what we do is EEO legal compliance,” says Synegal. In short, Management Dynamics makes sure that clients adhere to THE SUIT MAGAZINE - APR / MAY 2012

the laws and policies that prohibit discrimination in the workplace. “Organizations want to mitigate and reduce any liability and take corrective action as it relates to EEO policy. We help them do that, as well as make sure that they are taking preventive measures to avoid future legal issues.” Synegal admits that the last couple of years have not been the most profitable for MDI. With the downturn of the economy, Synegal’s company client base has been in a holding pattern. “Many of our clients have been in cost-containment mode, and haven’t been acquiring additional services from our company. When you anticipate new contracts, budget that into your revenue projections, and then you don’t receive those contracts, then that tends to hurt the bottom line,” says Synegal. “However, we are starting to experience more ‘business as usual’ operations among our clients. Customers are honoring their contracts they’ve previously put on hold, and we are now actually seeing client discussions concerning future work. This is definitely a positive trend for our client base and Management Dynamics, Inc.” Synegal and her company are positioning themselves to add to their clientele. “We’d like to acquire three sizable contracts of long term duration for 2012. If we can do this, as well as maintain our current business volume, we’ll have a very successful year. Regardless of whether this can be achieved, we always focus on delivering high quality work,” says Synegal.

Regardless of whether [targets] can be achieved, we always focus on delivering high quality work” - Michele Synegal

managementdynamicsinc.com


Optimism and Staying Ahead of The Curve A

healthy blend of skepticism and optimism is what keeps all businesses thriving, and Chesapeake Mission Critical is no exception. Despite the lagging economy and uncertainty in government contracts funding, “Cyber-security is at an alltime high and Internet infrastructure spending is very much a segment that can’t be ignored,” says Ryan. With the focus on Internet connectivity, digital communications and social media, “we’re seeing this segment of the market grow at a rate we’ve never seen before.” Testament to this growth, Chesapeake Mission Critical has increased their workforce and their bottom line with a 22 percent increase in revenues for 2011. Not bad for a company placed squarely within competitive range of one of the fastest growing industries in the world. As any provider of services that support Information Technologies (IT), remaining current is also critical to success. Chesapeake Mission Critical delivers state-ofthe-art cooling solutions geared at keeping equipment running safely through temperature-controlled environments. “As we fill a room with computers, they generate heat,

and we need to make sure the heat is neutralized.” Precision cooling can now control the whole working environment consistently and efficiently, thanks to new cooling technologies. With a focus on state-of-the-art data center solutions, managing the new markets that rely heavily on the Internet remains the biggest challenge. Communication is a large part of its solution. Beginning with a facilities and maintenance-based sales that keeps servicers, reps and other officials in front of managers and engineers, workers must perform diligently and creatively to bridge understanding gaps, build on management agendas and sometimes even help with budgets. “Coming into a room with both groups and bringing them together with common expectations and mutual understanding is key,” says Ryan. Their credo: “Sell it, Build it and then Maintain it.” They’re aware of what works, and painfully aware of what doesn’t work, while holding everyone accountable in the end. Managing contracts often entails juggling services within many industries that include health care,

government, education, and now commercial. The specialists at Chesapeake Mission Critical work as much for process as they do for effective voice-over Internet, energy management, safety and customer reliability – all of equal weight in importance. In the beginning it’s the service, and in the end, it’s the customer, because as Ryan says, “We must make sure they’re happy.” Staying ahead of the curve requires “continuing education,” meaning simply: they’re constantly drawn in to new innovations by examining the most current trends - attending trade shows, speaking to customers and vendors, finding out what’s new, what’s next, and most of all: what’s hot. All important essentials to stay, and remain, on top of the game.

www.chesapeakmc.com

THE SUIT MAGAZINE p.31

©AndresRodriguezDreamstime

by david novack


by wendy connick

setting new standards One small company brings industry giants together

A

s the FDA tightens scrutiny of outsourced clinical trials and issues increasing numbers of high profile warning letters, the pharmaceutical industry is responding. Instead of safeguarding their best practice approaches — trade practices they’ve spent years developing — industry leaders are coming together to share insights and develop higher quality management standards that will benefit both the industry and consumer safety. This spirit of collaboration to enhance the quality of outsourced clinical trial conduct was the brainchild Patty Leuchten, CEO: The Avoca Group of Patty Leuchten, founder and CEO of The Avoca Group. Avoca specializes in relationship and alliance management, bringing pharmaceutical companies and contract research organizations (CROs) together in the early stages of product development. According to Leuchten, the FDA letters were a wake-up call for many leading organizations. “This is partly why I - Patty Leuchten formed The Avoca Quality Consortium,” she said. “It’s a direct response to some of the external challenges companies are facing to ensure high quality in the conduct of outsourced clinical trials while also working very efficiently.” By bringing top players from pharma, biotech and CROs together, www.theavocagroup.com Leuchten believes the consortium will help create high standards for outsourced clinical trials based on proactive quality management. “We now have 25 members and are just getting going,” Leuchten said.”We’re very excited with how

The trends we focus on are related to how companies are changing and evolving.”

THE SUIT MAGAZINE - APR / MAY 2012

many companies are involved and engaged in this initiative. They are willing to be open and collaborative so that, as a group, we can be better as an industry, which ultimately will affect patient safety.” Avoca understands the nuances of clinical research and clinical outsourcing. By carefully monitoring industry trends, they are able to help clients stay ahead of the curve. “We are not generalists. We are subject matter experts,” Leuchten said. “The trends we focus on are related to how companies are changing and evolving. A major trend is a consolidation of spending with fewer outsourcing partners.” Leuchten said, adding that this is in response to pressure within the industry to reduce costs and time lines while increasing efficiency. As pharmaceutical companies work with fewer providers, relationships with those providers become critical to the success of product development. Avoca’s survey and research data help clients discover what is working and what isn’t in these alliances. This specialized knowledge and in-depth understanding of the industry enabled Avoca to embark into the uncharted territory of setting global quality management standards. “We are bringing together the giants of an industry to do something that will have significant impact and that has never been done before,” Leuchten said. “The possibilities and potential for this are very exciting.”


business briefs

Owning the Outsourcing Model How to Work the Recession

D

uring any economic downturn, hiring goes down and consulting goes up. The advantages of hiring consultants during tough times includes having more flexibility to hire just the right person for the job, without needing to worry about providing benefits such as

health insurance. Chuck Sujansky, CEO of KEYGroup Consulting, provides outsourced training and employee assessments. “With the advent of the internet, companies don’t have the training staff that they used to. You know, the old model was, you’d operate a one-day supervisory training program, and you’d have 30 managers come in and take it,” he said. “It was kind of one size fits all.” KEYGroup offers custom-made training programs that employees can take right from their office computers, eliminating travel costs and minimizing the time they must take away from their jobs. This combination of

by wendy connick minimum costs and custom services is very attractive to budget-cutting clients. Sujansky’s team also helps clients with job candidate assessments. “We’ll do an analysis and take a look at their very, very top performers -- the type of employee that they would love to clone over and over again for every hire that they make,” he said. “And we’ll develop a profile of those top performing employees. When the job candidate takes the assessment, the computer will score his or her results and give us a percent match.” This procedure helps clients to be sure that they are hiring the right people. By hiring top performers client companies increase productivity and reduce turnover costs. Both of which increase the bottom line.

KEYGroup Opening Doors to Success

keygroupconsulting.com

Non-profit funding expert

In the world of non-profit fundraising, direct mail is king by the suit staff

A

cross the country, the recession and subsequent economic doldrums caused precious cash donations to plummet significantly for many nonprofits. With donations so essential to sustaining operations, aggressive fundraising efforts became even more important. Enter Erica Waasdorp, president of the Massachusettsbased firm, A Direct Solution, providing direct fundraising efforts and marketing services for a wide range of nonprofit clients. In 2003, Waasdorp, a self-described “Philanthropyholic,” founded the firm after 20 years of direct nonprofit marketing experience, including seven years with the International Fund for Animal Welfare. A Direct Solution specializes in conducting many different types of fundraising campaigns, including monthly giving, annual fund appeals, membership drives, major and planned gift-giving and international efforts. Despite the growth of Internet marketing, Waasdorp still finds much of her success through a more old-fash-

ioned approach. She says she is embracing technological advances such as Constant Contact and LinkedIn, but that in many cases, old-fashioned direct mail is still the best way to reach A DIRECT potential donors for her clients. A Direct Solution helped one Bos- SOLUTION ton-based advocacy organization use a direct mail campaign targeting those donors most likely to give a repeat donation. In a short period of time, the nonprofit saw donations increase by nearly 10 percent, a “4-to-1” return of its investment, according to A Direct Solution. “What you see is that direct mail still works really, really well,” Erica Waasdorp said. “Facebook and email might work for some of the younger donors, but a lot of the older donors are still very responsive to direct mail.”

www.adirectsolution.com

THE SUIT MAGAZINE p.33


by david novak

A Retirment expert

RPCSI Looks to Regain Stability for Golden Years

Are you retiring? It can be RPCSI takes the confusion out of plan administration scary to stand on the edge duties. “We’re kind of the attorney and accountant of retirement, looking at for retirement plans,” says Marsh. RPCSI’s business the monumental changes primarily involves providing compliance testing, happening in our economy, legal documents and government reporting for 401k and wondering how you and other retirement plans. “We interface with the can have a stable and secure investment side, and partner with advisers who future. How can you create actually sell the investment products, but the bulk of a comfortable life? How do our business is making sure everything is compliant you cope with inflation? with retirement laws,” says Marsh. All of these issues go into “The growth and success of our business comes from choosing a retirement investment adviser. hard work, dedication and a commitment to providing The US stock market just finished 12 years of lost a superior service to our clients. We strive to do the opportunity for every right thing, excel at buy and hold investor. what we do and provide Analysts are even outstanding service. As calling it the “Lost a result, we’ve built a Decade for Investors” top-rated reputation in already. Few retirement our industry.” financial planners were While the economy prepared to guide has severely hindered retired clients through retirement plans, a period this shaky. impacting the industry Many of the problems itself, Marsh still can be placed at the maintains a positive feet of a belief in asset outlook and confidence allocation strategies in her company. that were blindly “Smaller (retirement followed, even as the planning) companies stock market continued had to close, while to plummet. As a other companies had result, there was no Michelle M. Marsh, President: Retirement Plan Concepts & Services, Inc to terminate plans we way to protect clients’ service. On the flip side, money. Those who failed that test shared one common however, we’ve seen tremendous opportunities with denominator: a lack of proper risk controls. our current client base to restructure plans that really Michelle M. Marsh, QKA, is president and owner of adapt to a struggling economy.” Retirement Plan Concepts & Services, Inc. (RPCSI), a third party retirement administration firm located in Indiana. She explains that she has always possessed an interest in and affinity for retirement planning, and she believes risk control is paramount when designing a company sponsored retirement plan. www.rpcsi.com Today, with fifteen employees, RPCSI assists employers in implementing retirement plans that promote corporate goals and objectives, control costs and give employees real-world help in assuring their financial future.

THE SUIT MAGAZINE - APR / MAY 2012


by david novack

Small Size Brings Big Benefits The advantage of a Boutique Business

M

a n y small business owners see themselves as d i s a d va n t a g e d compared to big companies. Their lack of resources limits their offerings, while a smaller customer base means they are at higher risk. Yet to Blair Fensterstock, managing partner of Fensterstock & Partners, the benefits of owning a small boutique firm outweigh the disadvantages. “The way I look at the benefits, they probably can be subdivided into three groups,” Fensterstock said. “We are able to practice complex commercial litigation at its highest level in an efficient team atmosphere with one goal in mind: achieving the best possible result for our clients in as efficient a manner as possible. The benefits to the clients are representation by experienced litigators focused on quality. Benefits to the employees? There are teams for every client, so it’s all teamwork, in a family atmosphere.” Fensterstock started the firm in 1998 with the idea that, due to the increasing number of mergers between large firms, more litigation would have to be outsourced in order to avoid conflicts of interest. Fensterstock & Partners has carried the day in several cases against heavy-duty opposition. “If there’s any description of our firm, it’s David versus Goliath, because we take on the big guys. We’re always litigating against large firms,” Fensterstock said. “Having an expertise in complex litigation gives us a fantastic advantage and gives our clients a fantastic advantage. And that niche market influences the way clients want to hire us.”

Because of his firm’s small size, Fensterstock is able to take a lead role on every single case, a factor his clients appreciate. “There are We’re always litigating not too many litigators who’ve been practicing over thirty-five against large firms“ years who will roll up their sleeves, go to court on every - Blair Fensterstock major court appearance and try every case when the client comes to the firm. That’s what I do,” he said. “Many clients these days feel that lawyers just take and they don’t give. www.fensterstock.com None of our clients has ever felt that way.” Based in NYC, and with a number of clients who are major players in the financial industry, Fensterstock has had a unique perspective on the economic crisis. He believes that Wall Street is in the process of making several major policy changes. “I think the changes that are occurring will propel diversification and restructuring. There will be lower bonuses for financial firms, declining wage benefits, declining memberships in unions, increased foreign investment, and higher rents, in addition to stabilized and increased real estate values in New York,” he said. “All of this will focus on one aspect of the economy, and in the future will look at the economic concept of value added, in rewarding actions.”

THE SUIT MAGAZINE p.35


by the suit staff

Healthy Leaders WiN I

www.healthycompanies.com

’ve always been interested in the psychology of people in power,” says Bob Rosen, CEO of Healthy Companies International, the Arlington, Virginia-based leadership consulting and research firm he founded in 1990. “I’m trained as a clinical psychologist, but I‘m also a businessman. I look at leadership from that nexus.” Rosen’s firm consults with top leaders across an international clientele including PwC, ING, New York Life and MedStar Health. “So much emphasis is placed on what leaders do, we can lose sight of who they are, although intuitively we know that inner identity shapes every choice,” Rosen explains. He cites research, not intuition, to make his case. “We’ve interviewed nearly 400 CEOs – great leaders like Alan Mulally at Ford, Isadore Sharp at Four Seasons Hotels, and Michele Peluso when she was with Travelocity. From our ongoing study, we draw insights into what makes successful CEOs tick. We reference our unique CEO database to help our clients succeed.” What insights does the research offer? “In companies that grow profitably over the long term – the companies everyone tries to emulate – you tend to find healthy, balanced leaders, while in companies that go terribly wrong– Enron, for example – you often find that the top executives were not centered, healthy leaders.” What makes a leader healthy? Healthy Companies’ research points to six distinct dimensions of leadership health:

THE SUIT MAGAZINE - APR / MAY 2012

How do I bring my full force of personality to my role? ”

- Bob Rosen

1) Physical

2) Emotional 3) Intellectual 4) Social 5) Vocational 6) Spiritual.

“The best leaders are healthy across all six. So taken together, these dimensions provide a practical new lens on leadership effectiveness. Healthy Leadership will be the focus of our next book, the sixth we’ve produced from our CEO research.” Rosen says being a CEO today is harder than ever. “The speed and complexity of the business climate are unprecedented. You can’t control the environment, but you can make yourself a more consciously effective leader. It is important to ask: ‘What legacy do I want to create? How do I bring my full force of personality to my role? How can I unleash more of the human energy that lays dormant in our company?’ We help CEOs and their executive teams tackle crucial questions they urgently need to explore.” While everything Healthy Companies does aims to improve companies’ business performance, Rosen concedes that the work is personal. “To have full impact, we need our client executives to know that we genuinely care about their careers and about them as people. CEOs tend to be smart. You’re not going to trick them. It has to be authentic. So yes, when we’re at our best, it’s personal.”


by andrea lehner

Partnering for Productivity

Tapping university ingenuity to create a high-tech mega campus

W

hen New Yo r k ’s leaders realized their state was continually creating great technologies but then losing the resulting manufacturing jobs, they set out to create an innovative world-class technology park that would attract semiconductor manufacturers and Michael Relyea, President: leading nanotech Luther Forest Technology Campus corporations. A groundbreaking project of this magnitude required a special kind of leadership – one that could pull together the local and state agencies, contractors, utilities and economic development organizations required to develop the necessary infrastructure. They turned to Michael Relyea, CEO and President of Luther Forest Technology Campus Economic Development Corporation. “When I came to Luther Forest, I knew we had the chance to develop a site that would be a once-in-alifetime high-tech opportunity for our region,” Relyea said. “Semiconductor facilities bring lots of jobs, but they also require an enormous amount of infrastructure. And in turn, infrastructure projects require teamwork and collaboration. Our team has already walked through the regulatory process, the planning process, the construction process, and now we are moving through the final operating phase as the semiconductor fab comes online.” Relyea believes that public-private partnerships like the one he facilitated with the New York tech campus will be a crucial factor in infrastructure development projects around the world. “As we transition to a global high-tech economy, infrastructure—roads, power, sewers, water—is a key enabler for economic growth. Mature economies need to refurbish their infrastructures, emerging economies need expanded infrastructures and developing countries must create entirely new infrastructure systems.” Relyea believes that traditional infrastructure development approaches are not the best

solution for the future; regions that adopt new development models will be most successful. Public-private partnerships are such a new approach advocated by Relyea. These partnerships combine the power of the government with the expertise of the private sector, making it possible to move projects along quickly and with much less red tape. Another advantage is that investment costs and risks are shared between both the government and the private companies involved, ensuring that all parties are committed to a timely and successful outcome. The Luther Forest Technology Campus team excels at managing this public-private partnership because Relyea believes in fostering a culture of consensus and creativity. “I’ve been successful because I encourage my teams to look at difficult situations differently and find innovative solutions,” he said. “I never focus on only partner perspective – we look at the problem from everyone’s perspective and work together to find best answer. This focus on the best solution brings out the creativity of everyone involved. Then trust the outcome and let people do their jobs.” Relyea likens his approach to the university model where researchers are encouraged to take risks and failed attempts are tolerated more than they are usually tolerated in the private sector. “When you succeed, you’ve solved one problem,” he explained. “But when we encourage risk taking, and sometimes fail, you can unlock the door to an endless number of opportunities and can now look at the future in a different way.” With every project he’s been involved with, Relyea has encouraged the project team to adopt the shared research, learning and responsibility model that often happens in a university setting. Luther Forest Technology exemplifies the potential of this model with their proven ability to bring multiple players – even those in direct competition with each other – together to work toward solutions that benefits everyone involved while always keeping the end goal of the larger project in sight.

www.lutherforest.org

THE SUIT MAGAZINE p.37


by the suit staff

The Ethics of the

lawsuit

Why Litigation isn’t Always the Best Solution PAINTING A BURNING HOUSE ON SALE NOW!

I

n the US, it seems to be a commonly held belief that lawsuits are the ultimate means for redressing wrongs. Most who embark on lawsuits are convinced they are completely in the right, and yet reality may be far more subtle and elusive. Robert N. Chan, a founding partner of Ferber Chan Essner & Coller, LLP and head of its litigation department, believes that the best resolution for a lawsuit doesn’t always mean going to trial. “As the great majority of lawsuits are settled prior to verdict, litigation must be viewed as an ongoing settlement negotiation,” he said. “Lawyers often have to engage in two parallel negotiations: One, with their clients to encourage them to see reality – justice is something you may get in heaven

THE SUIT MAGAZINE - APR / MAY 2012

but not necessarily in the courtroom – and to ensure that the return on their litigation dollars will make their investments in their lawsuits worthwhile; and a second one with their adversaries to make them also see reality…or to obscure their view of reality, as the case may require.” According to Chan, litigators’ efforts ought to be directed at least as much toward improving their clients’ settlement posture as toward preparation for trial. While no single strategy works in every case, he views a lawsuit as a way to maneuver the opposition into a weak position where they will accept compromises favorable to his clients. By forcing his adversaries to confront the weaknesses in their cases early in the litigation process, to run up ruinous legal fees, while those of his clients remain rela-

tively reasonable, to bear the sometimes intolerable burden of discovery, and to risk negative publicity; he maneuvers them into settlements advantageous to his clients. According to Chan, settlement is often the best way to resolve a dispute, partly because of the inherent inefficiencies of the litigation system. “Rather than ‘In God We Trust’ being emblazoned on courtroom walls, ‘Abandon Hope, All Ye Who Enter Here’ might be more accurate,” he said. “Some view the New York State court system as a great, lumbering, dumb beast, but it might in fact be an intelligent creature, with the well thought-out goal of dealing with the overwhelming flood of lawsuits by making the litigation process so inefficient, irritating and expensive that any litigants in their right minds will run screaming from the courtroom thus clearing the judges’ caseloads.” Chan’s shoot-from-the-hip sense of humor doesn’t end there, either. He is a well-known writer of thrillers; the kind of tangled mysteries that keep you on the edge of your chair, combining a wicked sense of satire, crazily twisted plots, off-kilter characters with lawyers and guns (whether aimed at them or not). To view Robert’s latest novel, we encourage our readers to visit his website.

www.robertnchan.com


by the suit staff

Billy Morrissey, President Merchant Solutions Group

WHILE BANKS

SAY NO

Merchant Solutions Group Says Yes

Merchant Solutions Group makes capital accessible to small businesses

W

ith the nation relying on the growth of private businesses to add jobs and hasten our economic recovery, business owners find themselves in the difficult position of wanting to expand but not being able to get the bank loans they need to do it. Five years ago, Billy Morrissey, president of Merchant Solutions Group, recognized that the bottom was falling out of the mortgage industry, so he took his years of experience and connections in lending to launch a brokerage house dedicated to helping merchants secure the loans or cash advances they need in order to survive and thrive. “There are times when we are helping merchants build their dreams, and there are times when we are helping them get out of a rut,” Morrissey said. He added that most merchants are looking for that extra push to help them expand, renovate, develop new product and service offerings, or open additional locations. “Since the economy changed and

banks have pulled lines of credit, we are getting a much better quality of merchant coming to us. They feel they need that financial cushion to comfortably run their business,” Morrissey added, explaining that the average credit score for business owners seeking financial assistance has actually risen nearly 100 points since the recession began. Merchant Solutions Group also helps business owners during times of crisis, like a Gulf Coast restaurant owner suddenly at risk of losing his normally successful restaurant following the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill. “He had invested all his money in his business for ten years, and if we didn’t help him out, he would’ve closed down,” Morrissey explained. Because Merchant Solutions Group helped him keep his doors open, he was still in business when BP needed to contract meals for the 40,000 people cleaning up the spill. “In one month, he went from thinking his business was going to close because of the catastrophe, to winding up with a $2 million contract.”

Morrissey endeavors to truly help business owners, unlike many competitors who take advantage of distressed merchants by adding extra up-front fees and closing costs. “I’ve never done that, and it’s one of the reasons why I’m at a 95 percent retention rate for keeping merchants.” Merchant Solutions Group has grown steadily in its five-year history. By networking with top-tier lending executives, Morrissey stays at the forefront of industry changes so he can continue helping small businesses secure the capital they need. Soon, Morrissey will also be doing a bit of expanding himself when he launches Liberty Merchant Group to offer in-house lending.

merchantsolutionsgroup.com

THE SUIT MAGAZINE p.39


by the suit staff

From Trash to Treasure F

rustaci is the founder and chief executive officer of New Jersey-based Premier Facility Management, a sustainable waste management firm helping companies save money and reduce their carbon footprint by finding alternatives to the traditional landfill route for trash, construction and demolition waste and other unwanted materials. Nearly two decades ago, after spending years working in the waste industry, Frustaci was drawn to a concept that was at the time receiving very little attention — sustainability. “Back then, in the mid-’90s, people didn’t know about sustainability. Going green was a newborn concept, but not a sustained process,” he said. Driven by what he saw as untapped opportunity, Frustaci left his comfort zone and Premier Facility Management was born. “I started it with $2,500 and a 10-by-10 office,” he said. “It wasn’t easy.”The firm first started with clients in the hotel industry, but quickly expanded to manufacturers and construction companies, which had to deal with waste, excess inventory and other unused materials on a daily basis. Premier Facility Management will provide a free audit for any company, where their application engineers can customize solutions to help a company become more environmentally friendly and save money at the same time. The one key factor that Premier implemented changed the company dramatically. “We let them keep 100% of the savings,” said Frustaci. Premier’s profits come from finding potential markets. Designing the proper program and installing the equipment will maximize market value return. For Sara Lee, Premier was able to take unwanted coffee scraps and sell them to an organic fertilizer company and THE SUIT MAGAZINE - APR / MAY 2012

Bob Frustaci takes the old adage that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure to an entirely new level. burlap bags to the seafood industry. At a recent construction demolition project, Premier was able to find use for 95% of the building’s waste originally scheduled to be hauled to a landfill. Premier’s staff are experts in tracking and documenting waste generated at construction sites in compliance with the USGBC-LEED program. A government agency planned to haul 13,000 confiscated mattresses to a landfill in Ohio. Instead, Premier found a firm 14 miles away that would recycle the mattresses to make new ones for resale. Moving forward, Frustaci says he hopes to “build better relationships with government agencies” and together advance in the direction of sustainability. Frustaci sees great potential in maximizing sustainability and saving taxpayer’s cost in waste removal.

www.pfmgreen.com


law & politics

US Healthcare System Defense by the suit staff

I

n an age when many people worry about the costs and inefficiencies of the American health care system, Steven H. Jesser takes a different approach. An attorney who is admitted to practice in 10 states and more than 50 federal courts, he specializes in defending physicians and health care professionals from challenges to their competence and integrity. For Jesser, the question is not what’s wrong with American health care, but why so many fail to understand what is right about it. He encounters and represents medical professionals alleged to have engaged in fraud on the state and federal levels. “Health care fraud may not be increasing,” he says, “but today there is a greater emphasis on tracking it down and prosecuting it.” Jesser’s father served as a Flight Surgeon Captain of U.S. Army Air Force in California, Arizona, and Europe during World War II, and then spent many years in private practice. Jesser has represented many physicians, dentists, and other health care professionals, including in the purchase and sale of medical and dental practices, the market for which he views as a leading indicator of economic health. He notes that there now exists a stronger market for the purchase and sale of those practices than during the bleak downturn years

As real as it gets by susan deschel

F

ocusing time and attention on the things that are good, and ignoring what is not good –is a credo to live by when running a successful civil litigation law firm, especially one helping people involved in catastrophic injury. At Leventis & Ransom Law Firm, this is where a reputable standing in both the legal community and in the community-at-large means the most. Jimmy Leventis and Robert Ransom understand exactly what it means to focus on what is good and ignore what is not. “One reward comes from what we do to help people in circumstances that can be terrifying and oppressive to the average person.” Amputated limbs, paraplegic comas, vegetative states and medical bills reaching into

from 2009 to 2011. Practicing since the 1970’s, Jesser has witnessed continuous improvement in the quality of the judiciary, and in the pro-active role which his profession has taken to increase diversity and to eliminate bias within its ranks. Jesser had been a felony trial prosecutor in Chicago, and then a litigation and commercial real estate development associate in a major law firm. He became the first Associate General Counsel of Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, part of what is now Northwestern Memorial HealthCare, a major tertiary care medical center in the Midwest, and one of the largest in the State of Illinois. He worked with hundreds of physicians, nurses and other health care personnel, representing and counseling them in legal issues and problems. He has practiced since the mid1990’s in his own private practice, specializing in health care transactions, licensing, and litigation; as well as federal and state criminal and state appellate practice. As for the future, Jesser intends to continue practicing as a defender of what he believes is the best health care system in the world. www.sjesser.com

the millions is a reality for many of their clients. With a bevy of high stakes medical malpractice suits behind them, their focus on minimal advertising has generated revenues. Keeping overhead low also allows them to pick and choose among potential clients. “We do not need a volume practice to support overhead,” says Ransom. Instead, they choose to focus on cases they can fight passionately for – and win. Winning translates into more than just dollars too. “Our nice verdicts have resulted in good standing in the legal community and with the public,” says Ransom. As larger cases come in, and with more client referrals, advertising can be minimal. A recent 3.1 million-dollar verdict landed them into a “higher orbit” with publicity from it resulting in several other cases and, as Ransom reiterates, “Putting real dollars in their pockets to get real help and real care.” And this is as real as it gets.

LEVENTIS & RANSOM ATTORNEYS AT LAW leventisandransom.com THE SUIT MAGAZINE p.41


by s. ruckdeschel 

A Foreclosure

Warrior

Saving Homes and Fighting for Justice.

S

omeone who fights for more than a cause and a paycheck would be Sandra Emerson: She fights for homes and livelihoods. Among her rewards is a bevy of satisfied customers who keep referrals coming and gratitude flowing. Probably the most profound reward for Sandra was a Christmas card from several former clients telling her that it was the best holiday ever because they spent it in their home – thanks to the Emerson Law Firm. Sandra Emerson dreamed of being a lawyer as far back as she could remember, but she knew she couldn’t be just “a lawyer” and work for someone else’s law firm or climb a corporate ladder. Sandra needed a practice of her own, and has certainly made her mark in the community. “Our clients are not just a number to us,” says Emerson. “We make them feel part of a family.” She wasn’t always a warrior fighting for homes either. This is the irony: where she used to represent realtors and people initially buying their homes, she now represents their interests in keeping them because, “It’s more than a home – it’s Our clients are nor a community.” just a number to us, we The general ecomake them feel part of nomic downturn has created an ina family.“ flux of customers, generating many - Sandy Emerson new referrals. “There are lots of folks coming to our office as a result of the collapsed market.” This is precisely why the Emerson Law Firm feels so strongly about helping them. Having seen so much abuse from banks in foreclosures, Emerson claims that 90 percent of home foreclosures result from home owners’ lack of representation. In addition to rallying behind her clients, Sandra Emerson believes that arming her staff with the technology they need to be successful is key. She provides them with software, calendaring programs for deadlines and e-filing systems so that any document for every client can be

THE SUIT MAGAZINE - APR / MAY 2012

Sandra Emerson, Attorney: Emerson Law Firm LLC

instantly available 24/7. With constant communication through email, Emerson makes everyone a partner in litigation. “Our clients are made to feel they are right there in the cockpit helping us determine right path,” she says. Staffing the firm with workers who have the same degree of passion as she does is also a priority, demonstrated by her efforts with Legal Aid Society in seeking out her current associate and of-counsel. “I want people who really care.” No war was ever waged without a good battle fought, and it doesn’t end at the Emerson Law Firm for Sandra. She also steers a bankruptcy liaison committee for the state of Illinois to help improve and streamline mediation and arbitration. “We’d like to see more judges meet and understand how cohesive our work is.”

EMERSON LAW FIRM LLC 715 Lake Street Suite 420 Oak Park, IL 60301 P.: +1 (708) 660-9190 www.emersonlawfirm.com


by david novack

It All Comes Out in

THE WASH Anti-money laundering expert turns to Social Media to boost business reach

T

hanks to the communications technology now available for both small businesses and individuals, today’s entrepreneurs Ross Delston have a huge advantage over entrepreneurs of the past. A company can conduct business globally without ever leaving the building, and individuals have unparalleled scope for working out of home offices. Social media and other Internet resources also make it easy for customers to find their perfect

vendor or service provider from anywhere in the world. Ross Delston, an attorney, consultant and anti-money laundering compliance expert, has built a global consulting business from the comfort of his home because of the Internet and related technology. “In the beginning, when I told people I was working from a home office – this was back in 1994 – they thought I was looking for a job. Now, they say to me, ‘Gee, someday I hope I can work from a home office,’” Delston said. As a sole practitioner, Delston has built an impressive list of clients, from the World Bank and IMF to foreign governments looking to tighten

their anti-money laundering procedures. Although Delston still travels extensively in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, in recent years, he has also been able to build client relationships around the world without needing to visit clients in person. “It used to be that to do a video call I would go to the client’s offices and they’d have a special conference room set up. One day my older daughter said to me, ‘Dad, why do you go all the way downtown at six in the morning for a video conference when you could be sitting at your computer?’ And then a year later, I’m doing a meeting by Skype,” he said. The Internet has provided Delston not only with a convenient way to communicate with clients, but also a way for new clients to find him. “My latest series of engagements is acting as an expert witness on anti-money laundering compliance, and, of course, I ask the lawyer calling me, ‘Where did you find my name?’ The answer is either Google or LinkedIn,” Delston said. “Social networks that started out being more social than business are catching up on the business side, so that LinkedIn has become a major force. I’ve spent hours every day building up my LinkedIn network to more than 4,500 at the moment. Very time consuming and yet who would have thought that you could do client development from your home office, without moving from your desk chair?”

linkedin.com/in/rossdelston

THE SUIT MAGAZINE p.43


law & politics

THE CREDIT REPAIR BOOM: MAKING A BUSINESS OF BAD CREDIT by wendy connick

N

ow that the economy has begun to improve, businesses and consumers are both regaining interest in becoming creditworthy and in purchasing high-ticket items. Before they can be approved for credit and financing however, they need to deal with those delinquencies, collections, judgments, and other issues that arose in their credit profiles during the depths of the recession, when making ends meet was a real struggle. As a result, credit repair companies, debt consolidators and debt settlement companies are booming. “Suddenly, out of the woodwork, companies with millions to spend on advertising are putting up billboards and doing television and radio advertising, all offering to be the panacea to settle your debts and restore your credit. Many of these firms, especially debt settlement companies, have been investigated by the FTC, but they are getting a lot of business,” said Frederick David, president of Frederick David & Associates, a civil mediation firm out of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida specializing in the restoration and repair of credit for both individuals and businesses. They even do work for military personnel seeking to achieve a higher se-

Powerful Strategies and G r e a t Wo r d - o f - M o u t h

W

by jacey fortin

With an abundance of civil litigation attorneys in the US, particularly in a fragile economy, law isn’t a game at Guendelsberger Law Offices, LLP. A civil litigation practice for over two decades, Robert Guendelsberger their growth can be attributed to one simple phrase: “great wordFounder of-mouth.” Business has “ebbed and flowed” since 1983, according to Robert Guendelsberger, founder and lead attorney. In both good times and in bad, one key to keeping revenues steadily increasing has always been in the areas of overhead that can be kept low. While the competition invests in costly television ads, for example, Guendelsberger Law Offices proudly relies on past and present clients for referrals. Great work for clients means more clients. By representing their existing clients

THE SUIT MAGAZINE - APR / MAY 2012

curity clearance. “It’s really very sad. People just don’t know who to go to for help, and wind up with whoever has the biggest billboard or the most advertising.” David has found that the credit industry itself has changed a great deal over the past five years, especially in the mortgage industry. “Prior to the fiasco of 2008, we would constantly be receiving credit reports to review for mortgage brokers and bankers seeking to finance a potential borrower. When the housing fiasco hit in 2008, everyone started going out of business and disappearing. It was like starting over … I was told by some mortgage banking people that today there are only 10% of the businesses that had been there in 2008.”

www.fdmediation.com

vigorously, each attorney is conscientiously contributing to the firm’s bottom line and future growth. Fighting vigorously also means many long, hard days in an already stressful profession. Hours can begin as early as 7:00 am, ending well after midnight when trial preparation is in progress. Working that little bit more might just mean winning. “All cards are out on the table at that juncture,” says Guendelsberger. In every trial case “all bets are off.” A substantial case might even involve additional attorneys coming from the office especially to observe juror behavior. Pursuing effective strategies such as these is another important attribute of a successful law practice. Employing powerful strategies can garner high returns, both in trial and on the bottom line – and this is where Guendelsberger Law Offices always comes up winning.

www.newmilfordlegal.com


WHY RENEWABLE ENERGY?

Save money. Reduce your impact. SOLAR ELECTRIC

SOLAR HOT WATER

WIND GENERATION

Why SunLion Energy Systems? Experience. Expertise. Integrity. At SunLion Energy Systems, we know renewable energy. It’s not just a fad to us. Our years of experience have taught us how to maximize your return on investment by installing a smartly-designed renewable energy system that is optimized to your unique location and energy needs. Whether you own a home or farming business and are interested in solar electric, solar hot water or wind generation, SunLion Energy Systems can help you save money, declare your energy independence and start harvesting free energy.

RESIDENTIAL AGRICULTURAL COMMERCIAL 2330 Dairy Road Lancaster, PA 17601 800-886-4762 717-898-8700 SunLionEnergySystems.com PA 9396

With the 30% federal tax credit still available, now is the time to take control of your long-term energy needs. Call us today to schedule a free site evaluation.

800-886-4762



Issue 48