Learning How to Move
April / May 2013
WILL ISRAEL FACE MORE THREATS IN MIDDLE EAST?
The Bionic ARM
The Fountain of Youth Stem Cell Research
Enhancing your Vision
Treatment for Inherited Eye Diseases
30 Year Stretch
Tried and True 3 - to - 5 Rules
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ISSUE 54 | APRIL / MAY 2013
Publisher Erwin E. Kantor Managing Editor Michael Gordon Editorial Helen Moss Robert Jordan Staff Writers L. A. Rivera Monica Link Wendy Connick David Gordon Diane Alter Mitch Ligon Ellen Kozak Sean Goldstein Judy Magness Leigh Held Maria Esposito Rich Monetti Edwin Camacho Peter Hocstein Asst. Art Director Marienne Hilahan Illustrators Shafali R. Anand Mike Moss Marketing / Advertising Monica Link Sean Rome For subscription details, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org For advertising inquiries, contact: email@example.com
Peace in The Middle East
bviously, U.S.-Israeli relations are important in the Middle East. They are much closer in creating strong ties and a solid strategy towards Iran. In fact, President Barack Obama’s historic visit to the Middle East has made a vigorous effort to quell tensions in that particular region. His three-day trip to Israel is a positive indication that the U.S. has reached out to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel. For one thing, Israel has a keen sense of urgency to take military action against Tehran. Netanyahu has noted that Iran should be dissuaded from having the ability to build a nuclear weapon. Netanyahu has argued that he is “absolutely convinced” that Obama has been adamant in preventing a nuclear-armed Iran. David Gordon, our foreign correspondent in Israel, chronicles the story between President Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu. In this issue, on page 10, we cover research conducted at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) using brain-computer interface (BCI) technology and training programs that allow a quadriplegic to perform a number movements. Jan Scheuermann, a quadriplegic for nine years, fed herself using a mind-controlled robot arm. On page 13, read our story about Stem Cell Research and aging potential to extend our lifespan. And, on page 14 the bionic eye a retinal prosthesis system giving sight to people who are loosing their eye sight. These are interesting times characterized by economic and political uncertainty - and little
forward motion. And yet in the entrepreneurial section of the economy, the opportunities to create great companies remain unabated. There is wide agreement among policy makers on the importance of entrepreneurial companies to economic growth and well-being. Venture capital is a major driver of that entrepreneurial economy. The nation continues to look to this sector for job creation, economic development, better healthcare, cleaner technology, and a faster, better, and more secure Internet.
Happy New Year,
Erwin Kantor, Publisher
April / May 2013
APRIL / MAY 2013
Learning How to Move
WILL ISRAEL FACE MORE THREATS IN MIDDLE EAST?
The Bionic ARM
The Fountain of Youth Stem Cell Research
6CUTTING TERROR AT THE ROOT Enhancing your Vision
Treatment for Inherited Eye Diseases
30 Year Stretch
Tried and True 3 - to - 5 Rules
JERUSALEM - On a bright sunny day in one of Israel’s busiest metropolises, the scene is calm as natives and tourists go about their daily business. Beach-goers and businessmen, students and soldiers all roam the streets avoiding tourist-traps and erratic drivers.
Learning to Move
Last December, Jan Scheuermann ate a piece of chocolate; a feat that earned her a round of applause. Lots of people eat chocolate, especially around holiday time, so what was so special about this chocolate-eating experience
Fountain of Youth
Remember the movie, “Cocoon?” Characters played by Don Ameche, Wilford Brimley, and other Hollywood veterans act out the good, the bad, and the ugly of their golden years in a Florida retirement community. That is, until they discover alien pods in a swimming pool.
Delivering treatment breakthrough for inherited eye diseases
Former Wall Street Exec.
Find s “Sweet Spot” in market. Netting lion share of investment strategies
Merging Theory and Practice
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THE SUIT MAGAZINE - FEB / MAR 2013 THE SUIT MAGAZINE - APRIL / MAY 2013
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36 Future of Wealth Mgmt. is Here Watering retirement at the roots
36 RRC Wealth Management
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37 Wealth Health
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38 Rocco Santomenno
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39 Express Employment
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52 Cleaning up in the Washroom
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50 Defined Exhibits
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THE SUIT MAGAZINE p.5
From Jerusalem, David Gordon Reports
TERROR at the Root: O
n a bright sunny day in Jerusalem, Israel’s capital and one of its busiest metropolitan areas, the scene is calm as natives and tourists go about their respective business. Beach-goers and businessmen, students and soldiers all roam the streets trying to avoid tourist traps and erratic drivers. Suddenly, the ground rumbles and windows shake as three Israeli Air Force (IAF) F-16I Sufa fighter jets streak through the sky with a deafening roar. This is a common sight in the Holy Land as IAF pilots patrol Israeli airspace with a heightened awareness. “Historically, Israel has been faced with threats from all around,” said Michael Ganoe, Research and Projects Coordinator at the Washington, D.C.-based Middle East Research Center Ltd. (MERCL). While threats from countries in the region have ebbed and flowed, Israel may be facing a new hazard – one which could have dramatic global consequences, the like of which the world has never seen. The threat? The Islamic Republic of Iran. While Iranian-Israeli relations were once positively secure, those glory days are now only visible through the rear-view mirror. After years of political stone-walling, propaganda and fiery rhetoric, tensions between Iran and Western powers – including Israel – have grown past economic sanctions into the prospect of more immediate military action.
THE SUIT MAGAZINE - APRIL / MAY 2013
Could we really be on the brink of a nuclear arms race or worse, facing global destruction? The Iranian nuclear program began in the 1950s while the Shah was still in power. Ironically, their first research reactor was provided by the United States as part of President Eisenhower’s “Atoms for Peace” program. Iran’s program halted prematurely, but then resumed in the wake of the first Persian Gulf War and subsequently continued advancing. Now led by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran is on the path of what they claim is a peaceful nuclear program with promises of cheaper energy, medical treatment and agricultural advancement for their 75 million citizens. Considering their position as a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, Iran does have the right to conduct a peaceful nuclear program, making their stated aspirations not only legitimate but well within reach. In past years, however, that has all changed and Iran’s nuclear program frequently appears on UN and global intelligence radars. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), a UN nuclear watchdog, originally reported that no evidence points to illegal Iranian activity. Now, the international intelligence community seems to know more than was ever shared
Battle the Many Branches of Iranian Threat
with the public. Despite the initial reports indicating otherwise, military officials have disclosed to Congress the fact that Iran has the technical, scientific and industrial capability of producing nuclear weaponry. Iran has over a dozen nuclear sites throughout the country, including ore mines, research facilities and power plants. Two sites – in Fordow and Natanz – are heavily fortified underground enrichment plants. Another site, the Parchin Military Complex near Tehran, is a furtive facility for manufacturing and testing explosives. These elements are at the center of the controversy and IAEA inspection of these three nuclear sites in particular has been limited or denied by Iranian officials. Recent IAEA reports cited circumstantial evidence pointing to potential military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program. Enriched uranium can either fuel a power plant or create an atomic bomb. According to officials, the vast number of centrifuges spinning in Iranian plants could produce uranium that has been enriched far more than any peaceful project would require. Due to developing concerns surrounding Iran’s nuclear ambitions, the UN and other world powers are taking the necessary precautions to ensure the transparency and legality of Iran’s nuclear program.
The international community has used diplomacy, crippling economic sanctions, vilifying propaganda and isolation in an attempt to pressure Tehran into halt their nuclear projects. For Israel, what separates hypothetical speculation from legitimate concern are the anti-Semitic rants pouring from both Iran’s spiritual and political leadership. Further fueling the hypothesis of an alternate agenda, Ahmadinejad, a maligning ultraconservative, has publicly and repeatedly called for the ouster of Israel from the annals of Middle Eastern history. The bigoted bureaucrat has also denied both the existence of the Holocaust and Israel’s legitimacy as sovereign nation, only raising proverbial eyebrows higher. Be that as it may, Ahmadinejad’s authority does not encompass Iran’s nuclear program. All decisions – both clerical and political – are ultimately made by the Supreme Leader. While some have brushed off his remarks purely as rhetoric, Israel is not taking them lightly. “The Jewish state will not allow those who seek our destruction to possess the means to achieve that goal,” Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu told an applauding crowd at a recent AIPAC convention, “A nuclear-armed Iran must be stopped.” The waning international confidence in Iran has led
THE SUIT MAGAZINE p.7
Official White House Photo Pete Souza
Western powers, spearheaded by the US, to intensify intervention. While President Obama stalwartly stands behind his Israeli counterpart – even sharing goals – their means of achieving results contrast starkly. “We’ve always disagreed at some point or another on tactics,” Vice President Joe Biden told pro-Israel lobbyists. “But ... we have never disagreed on the strategic imperative that Israel must be able to protect its own, must be able to do it on its own and we must always stand with Israel to be sure that can happen.” These tactical differences, in many regards, could prove fatal. The US wishes to exhaust all strategic solutions in order to prevent the loss of international support. Alternatively, the Israeli government believes that US, UN and EU economic sanctions and other diplomatic formalities – applied ad infinitum – are ineffective and only buy Iran valuable time. But Obama needs to ensure civil security while also factoring in US special interests, and promoting peace and stability in a region housing many allies. Netanyahu, on the other hand, is showing more aggression and even hinted at the possibility of a pre-emptive strike on Iranian nuclear sites. As a former IDF soldier in a Special Forces Reconnaissance Unit, “Bibi” Netanyahu has witnessed close to six decades of Israel’s struggle for survival and is not taking any chances. “I really believe that, looking at Netanyahu’s past, he wants the sovereignty and security of the Jewish State to remain intact,” Ganoe told The Suit. The Prime Minister’s now infamous remarks at the 2012 UN General Assembly of a “red line” on a cartoon illustration of a bomb proved his assertiveness as he voiced his stance to the international community. THE SUIT MAGAZINE - APRIL / MAY 2013
If threatened, military action has always remained an option for Israel, even when it lacks universal approval. In fact, in the summer of 1981, Israel shocked the world by carrying out Operation Babylon – a raid on Iraq’s French-built Osirak nuclear reactor during the time when the country was still under Saddam Hussein’s rule. This pre-emptive strike received international condemnation, however, Israel claims it set Iraq’s nuclear program back 10 years. Looking back, many remain at odds with the legitimacy and effectiveness of the raid. While Clinton approved it, many still have doubts. But what is known is that Saddam, who claimed Iraq’s nuclear ambitions were strictly peaceful, still held deep resentment towards the Jewish state. Diplomacy failed and Israel attacked.
Could history be repeating itself?
Iran, residing cozily in Western Asia, is over 1000 miles from Israel’s borders and has never formally attacked the Holy Land. A closer, more immediate threat is dangerously within striking distance. Lurking through the mountains of Southern Lebanon, Hezbollah, a group of guerrilla fighters, is determined to exterminate what they call the “Zionist entity.” Hezbollah – or Party of Allah – is an Islamic fundamentalist, paramilitary resistance movement recognized by Lebanon as a political party and by the West and the rest as a terrorist organization. The group was organized in the early 1980s as an adjunct to Yasser Arafat’s PLO after
Israel’s invasion during the 1982 Lebanon War. It has since carried out numerous attacks in Lebanon, Israel, Argentina, Bulgaria, Panama and the UK. Israel views Hezbollah, and also Hamas in Gaza, as branches protruding from the Iranian trunk, one they may be willing to cut at the root. Widely considered a Persian proxy, Hezbollah was jumpstarted in 1982 as a politico-military force with 1500 members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and also received funding from Iran. According to US State Department documents, “(Hezbollah) receives substantial amounts of financial, training, weapons, explosives, political, diplomatic and organizational aid from Iran.” The group’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, who studied in a religious seminary in the Qom Province of Iran, frequently attends private meetings with Iran’s current Supreme Leader. “Al-Arabiya,” the Saudi-owned media broadcast, recently reported that Nasrallah and Khamenei secretly discussed the “IranianSyrian defense system.” The civil uprising in Syria is only increasing tensions in the Middle East as forces loyal to President Assad have been trying to suffocate armed resistance in a bloody two-year war with casualties surpassing 70,000. Syria is Iran’s key partner in the region, sharing both support for Hezbollah and enmity towards the Jewish state. Due to instability in the region, Israeli military officials are concerned over Syria’s vast arsenal of chemical weapons reaching the hands of Hezbollah and other rogue militants. For close to three decades, Israel has been hit hard by suicide bombers, kidnappings and sporadic mortar fire from Iranian-backed Hamas and Hezbollah insurgents. Responding with targeted military
operations, Israel has also fought two primary wars with Hezbollah, including the 18-year blood-bath in Southern Lebanon that ended in 2000. The two faced each other again in the summer of 2006. But as tensions rise, many fear the conflict is far from over. At a recent Hezbollah rally, Nasrallah vowed to rain a barrage of long-range missiles on Israel and regional US Army bases if Iran is attacked – even if Israel acts alone. This could potentially throw America into another ugly war, raising the stakes even higher. The US – thoroughly exhausted from
years of wars with insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan – would naturally do everything in its power to avoid another armed conflict, favoring instead, a more peaceful diplomatic resolution with all parties. But that is not an excuse for cognitive dissonance. Obama must not forget that in the past Hezbollah and other Shi’a militant groups under the Iranian umbrella have attacked the US, including the bombing of the US embassy in Beirut in 1983, killing 17 Americans. Six months later, suicide bombers exploded a truck full of explosives in the Beirut barracks bombing that killed 220 US Marines. The Islamic Jihad Organization, which a D.C. court has dubbed a pseudonym for Hezbollah, took responsibility for those attacks.
Iran’s behavioral discrepancies, in combination with a constant logorrhea towards Israel and it’s allies, only fuels fears that it has the will and resources to carry out a nuclear offensive. In its most recent act of defiance, Iran announced plans to install 3,000 advanced centrifuges in Natanz, which would cut the time needed to enrich uranium. Israel claims that as early as the summer of this year, Iran will have enough fissile material for a nuclear missile. Israel’s frustration over this longstanding conflict is apparent as they look to bypass Iran’s regional pawns and go directly for the king to keep neighborly terrorism in check. But a nuclear armed Iran isn’t a danger only to Israel. “It will be a threat not to the shores of the United States but to the individual citizen living abroad, to US consulates and embassies, to US allies in Europe, to NATO. Yes, it’s a direct threat,” Ganoe told “The Suit.” “But Israel’s policy should be dictated by their own interests and not the interests of the US or any other country.” No global issue since the beginning of time has stirred up as much controversy and fear as the nuclear weapon. During the Cold War, the term “mutual assured destruction” or MAD was on many politicians’ lips. The prospect of using another bomb on a country would be suicide, as the country attacked would certainly respond in kind, kicking off a world-wide catastrophe. Apocalyptic politics aside, there is a universal imperative to protect the lives and rights of humans on this globe we all share. But Israel – much like the United States as its closest ally – will not jeopardize the security of its citizens by ruling out decisive military action if threatened. Peace may come with a price but the cost is one that global powers must be willing to pay. THE SUIT MAGAZINE p.9
by maria esposito
Learning How to
ast December, Jan Scheuermann ate a piece of chocolate; a feat that earned her a round of applause. Lots of people eat chocolate, especially around holiday time, so what was so special about this chocolate-eating experience? Jan Scheuermann, a quadriplegic for nine years, fed herself the chocolate using a mind-controlled robot arm. Scheuermann’s ability to savor that piece of chocolate she fed herself was the result of research conducted at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) using brain-computer interface (BCI) technology and training programs that allow a quadriplegic to perform a number of the everyday movements we all take for granted. It was the collaborative effort involving a group of researchers; one of whom, Dr Elizabeth Tyler-Kabara, noted that the idea of creating a thought-controlled robot arm originated over ten years ago. It began with studies
THE SUIT MAGAZINE - APRIL / MAY 2013
using animal subjects to learn how neurons represent signals for motor control that would allow the animal to perform specific movements. Monkeys were the final animal subject to test the possibilities of this new technology before it was tried on humans. Dr. Tyler-Kabara explains, “If you look at the musculature of the hand and arms, it is quite similar to humans. How the (monkey) brain is controlling movements and how the animal is making movements – it is almost a one-to-one correlation between shoulder movement, elbow movement, and finger movement.” Monkeys had another distinct advantage over other animal species – they were intelligent enough to be trained. Learning to use the robot arm required extended training, making “the primate model one of the favored models” according to Dr. Tyler-Kabara. Choosing Jan Scheuermann to road test the arm was
also based on a certain characteristic she possessed. The basic question that needed to be answered before selecting her was, “If she imagined a motion, was there activation in the cortex?” This is the part of the brain commonly called the gray matter. Here a huge network of neurons works to allow humans to think, move and speak. What the researchers were looking for was whether or not Scheuermann’s brain tried to do what she imagined she was doing. The only way to answer that question was to test. Scheuermann was given a functional MRI, a test that measures brain activity through changes in the amount of blood flow. Scheuermann’s MRI indicated that when she imagined a movement, there was activity in the cortex. The next test was a magnetoencephalogram, which Dr. Tyler-Kabara describes as “a very, very fancy EEG coupled to an MRI. If electrical activity occurs, it will pick it up.” This test also indicated activity in the
cortex. The researchers determined that the structure of Scheuermann’s cortex was normal and it was capable of activation. After passing the tests that confirmed she was a viable candidate, Dr. Tyler-Kabara implanted two quarter-inch square electrode grids with 96 contact points in the areas of Scheuermann’s brain that control right arm and hand movement. These contact points register signals from individual neurons and the signals are fed into a computer algorithm to identify how the brain creates a movement like raising an arm. The two grids were left protruding from Scheuermann’s skull so they could be hooked up to the computer. Within a week after beginning training, Scheuermann could manipulate the robot arm to reach in and out, and move left and right and up and down. In less than three months, she could flex the wrist, move it from side to side and rotate it. Scheuermann could also use the hand to grip objects. The robot arm used in this research was developed at Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Lab through a program called Revolutionizing Prostheses. This program was launched in 2006 by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to encourage the design and development of prostheses to replace non-functioning arms. At that time, the types of prosthetic devices available for this use were far less advanced than the prosthetics used to replace non-functioning legs. The big question is when will this technology be available as a mainstream therapy? Dr. Tyler-Kabara said that there are some hurdles that have to be overcome first. The device implanted in the brain has to be small enough to be fully implanted instead of “ having cables sticking out of the head”. That obstacle is already being successfully addressed. However, the bigger obstacle, according to Dr. Tyler-Kabara, is convincing insurance companies and Medicare/Medicaid that this is a viable therapy so that they will be willing to pay for it. Researchers are already coming up with new metrics to show how this thought-controlled limb will improve the recipient’s quality of life and make them a more productive member of society. With all of this behind the scenes work, the thought-controlled robot arm could be available in five years.
THE SUIT MAGAZINE p.11
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by judy magness
Stem Cell Research and Aging Potential to Extend Lifespan Highlighted by Study
emember the movie, “Cocoon?” Characters played by Don Ameche, Wilford Brimley, and other Hollywood veterans act out the good, the bad, and the ugly of their golden years in a Florida retirement community. That is, until they discover alien pods in a swimming pool. The pods expose the seniors to a life force that restores their health, youthful energy, and gives them a new zest for life. At the University of Pittsburgh, there weren’t any extraterrestrial pods, but there were aged mice with little time left to complete their bucket list. In a research study, some of these mice received renewed youth and vigor from stem cell scientists. If the results can be extrapolated to humans, we could live longer lives. Much longer.
But, it’s a big IF.
It is widely accepted that stem cell function decreases with aging, but what isn’t known is if that breakdown is the cause of aging, or if it is a result of the aging process. Mice genetically altered to age rapidly were used in a study by University of Pittsburgh researchers. These test subjects had a lifespan of about 21 days, much shorter than the two-year natural life of a mouse. Researchers injected some of the test subjects with normal stem cells in the last week of their predicted life expectancy. These mice lived about three times longer than the untreated genetically altered mice, and their health improved overall, notably in blood circulation and muscle strength. Instead of an approximate three week lifespan as seen in the ill-fated untreated mice, the injected mice lived about 66 days. University of Pittsburgh researchers reported the findings of their 2012 study in Nature Communications, an online journal publishing important advances in biological science research. “These results establish that adult stem/progenitor cell dysfunction contributes to ageing [aging]-related degeneration and suggests a therapeutic potential of post-natal stem cells to extend
health,” their report stated. The breakthroughs in stem cell and aging research to date are remarkable and point to the astounding potential to identify the root cause for cancer, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, diabetes, heart disease, and the list goes on. Cracking the code to these diseases, and other conditions, and disabilities will lead to medical treatment and the highest of quests, cures that will ultimately impact the norms of human aging. If we apply these lab results to our human lifespan, living to 150 to 200 years old is inferred. But, don’t stress that your 401K won’t last, or envision what you’ll look like at 162-years-old just yet. The gap between the known and unknown is huge. And ethical debates existing in the chasm complicate progress. And, of course, the age-old argument emerges from this research that challenges most studies claiming significant results using animal testing. Human beings aren’t mice—we’re built different. Thank goodness, right? Also, mice used in the University of Pittsburgh study were genetically engineered to age faster; this concerns other researchers because the aging process was altered compared to natural aging. Finally, while the brief extension of life reported in the results is notable, some researchers question the overall all impact on moving toward cure. “It’s not going to be the fountain of youth, but it’s teaching us a lot of biology that will help us conceptualize how to stay healthy and functional,” Dr. Laura Niedernhofer, one of the study’s authors said in an interview with ABC News. The Buck Institute for Research on Aging in California brought together “cutting edge” researchers from all over the world at the 2012 Buck Symposium on Stem Cell Research and Aging. “During the meeting, there was a strong underlying sense that an unbiased synthesis of basic aging research and stem cell engineering will be the next crucial milestone in the advancement toward effective health-span extension,” the Institute reported on their website featuring symposium highlights.
THE SUIT MAGAZINE p.13
by judy magness
Retinal Implants Deliver Treatment Breakthrough
for Inherited Eye Disease
he ultimate goal is a cure. In its absence, astounding treatment technology is now available. Companies in the U.S. and abroad are working on retinal implant devices to aid patients with retinitis pigmentosa (RP). A genetic, degenerative eye disease, RP results in gradual vision loss as photo receptor cells—rods and cones located in the retina of the eye— progressively deteriorate. Advanced cases culminate in blindness. In February of this year, Second Sight Medical Products, Inc. based in Sylmar, California received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the Argus II Retinal Prosthesis System. After 20 years in development, the Argus II is the first retinal implant to treat advanced RP in adults. “The System has three parts: a small electronic device implanted in and around the eye, a tiny video camera attached to a pair of glasses, and a video processing unit that is worn or carried by the patient,” THE SUIT MAGAZINE - APRIL / MAY 2013
according to an FDA overview report. When the patient wears the glasses, images captured by the camera are converted to an electrical signal in the processing unit and are delivered wirelessly to the retina which the brain recognizes as spots of light. The FDA reports that patients involved in clinical studies of the device were able to recognize movements of objects and people; distinguish large letters, words, or sentences; and detect street curbs. The Argus II, approved in Europe in 2011, is billed as the first “bionic eye” by mainstream sources reporting on the device. The Alpha IMS Implant, an artificial retina device invented by Retina Implant AG based in Germany, recently passed the second phase of three-phase trial. Their technology hinges on the fact that a large part of a patient’s retina is still functioning even though rods—that distinguish light, dark, shape and movement—and cones that respond to color, have been destroyed by RP. The Alpha IMS Implant, is a microchip placed behind the retina that receives
input normally received by healthy photo receptors and delivers it to the brain. “Of the nine patients observed in the study, three patients were able to read letters spontaneously. During observation in and outside the laboratory patients also reported the ability to recognize faces, distinguish objects such as telephones and read signs on doors,” states the company in a press release announcing their latest milestone. Retina Implant AG is moving to successfully complete the final mandatory phase of the Alpha IMS Implant to secure a CE mark approval in Europe. Later this year, Second Sight’s Argus II is scheduled to be available at eye clinics throughout the United States, and the company plans to add sites to make the new treatment more accessible. Together these companies and other dedicated researchers bring the possibility of sight, albeit limited, to 1 in 4,000 people in the U.S. and Europe affected by RP who thought darkness was their only option.
by robert jordan
Former Wall Street Exec Finds “Sweet Spot” in Market
Netting Lion Share of Investment Strategies
arning his corporate bearing on Wall Street in the banking industry, Joseph Rinaldi, Senior Managing Director and CIO of Quantum Financial Advisors, prides himself on being a maverick among business executives, advising countless CEO’s, pension & profit sharing plans, endowment/ non profits , FDIC/RTC – and in the 1990s, even the President of Argentina’s finance committee at his Banco Hipoticario. Over the years, the former Wall Street advisor said he has discovered the “sweet spot” in investment strategies, particularly in the areas of portfolio and risk management, institutional sales and trading, and structured finance. “I had some experience on both the buy and sell sides of banking, while ultimately creating financial products for my clients.” Rinaldi said from his office in Washington D.C. In the early 1990s, Rinaldi played a pivotal role during the bailout of the savings and loan industry. “We felt with our diverse background in managing risk, we (needed) to help our nation through the thrift bailout,” the finance guru insisted. Working vigorously for The Resolution
THE SUIT MAGAZINE - APRIL / MAY 2013
Trust Corporation (RTC/FDIC) as one of three senior capital market specialists, Rinaldi was responsible for liquidating some of the industry’s weakest, ailing banks. His advice is not only valued in the U.S. In fact, after forming Quantum Financial Advisors back in 1996, this globe-trekking exec even traveled to Argentina to advise and assist former President Carlos Menem and his advisors with Argentina’s mortgage banking policies. “We were there to help President Menem structure their mortgage industry,” Rinaldi explains in a modest tone. Today, Rinaldi’s company is one of the premier boutique financial firms in the country. “After working for the RTC/FDIC, I formed the firm,” he says with a business-savvy demeanor. “I felt it was time.” Quantum Financial Advisors provides investment strategies, asset allocation, sector rotation, and utilizes portfolio insurance to protect principal, allowing it to grow and generate income. Certainly, Rinaldi has seen his share of economic meltdowns in his time. Always in the trenches, he continues to weather countless fiscal storms. “The hardest thing is maintaining good clients,” he said. “High net worth individuals, endowment funds, non-prof-
its, retirement plans, small businesses that are eager to build wealth for the future, while maintaining full discretion on managing their assets.” There is a pause in his tone. “After the Bernie Madoff scandal, things changed. But for us, it is very important to give us the ability to invest and trade (a client’s) accounts without approval for trades.” That is called ‘Discretionary Trading,’ ” Rinaldi chuckles. “That doesn’t come easy – you have to earn that trust.” Acknowledging that the industry is still suffering from increased regulation fueled by the ugly Madoff scandal, Rinaldi admits, “Now people will shy away from hedge funds, because client money is co-mingled. That is how Madoff pooled client assets and then stole client money. So, yes, the industry is still suffering.” Rinaldi said that, being smaller, Quantum Financial Advisors functions much differently than the big boys – J.P. Morgan Asset Management, Goldman Sachs Asset Management, Merrill Lynch Asset Management – who are all heavily dependent on larger sums of capital investment. “The difference between us and them,” he argues. “And we stand neck-and-neck with
them,” he pauses again. “In our firm we’ll represent a client with no regulatory minimum (we charge more for smaller accounts) but with the big boys you need twenty to twenty-five million before you can be represented by their firm.” But, over the years the fiscal climate changed that paradigm. In fact, Rinaldi said that the economic debacle of 2008 caused major fallout for many – across the board. Many clients jumped ship. He said, “We’ve enjoyed a couple of larger customers. They recognized and appreciated our unique value proposition,” he explains, “And it’s been a great marriage, because they understand what’s out there and they don’t want to go back. These are people who are very astute in the investment world and they understand what the competition offers.” “One factor playing a big role is panic in the market,” Rinaldi said. “There
is fear because of the Internet bubble and the real estate bubble in ’08,” he added, “So we keep our investors fully aware of what’s happening in the market via emails through quarterly and inter-quarter broadcasts for our clients.” We also enjoy our annual client reviews, performed during a lunch or dinner meeting. In 2012, Rinaldi was recognized as one of “America’s Top Financial Advisors for 2012” by Conquest Press. He and Quantum Financial have also been featured in Reuters, “The Washingtonian,” “The Wall Street Journal” and countless other publications, including the Paris magazine, “Gestion de Fortune” in December 2012. As a scholar with a business suit, Rinaldi teaches at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business. He and his stu-
dents made the national news in 2011 when about 60 students from two sections of his Futures, Options and Derivatives course – in answering Rinaldi’s challenge to reduce the federal deficit – produced a white paper, even pitching it to political leaders and pundits. Rinaldi proudly noted at the time that “. . . This paper is detailed, plausible and significantly represents the next generation’s idea for reducing the deficit.”
THE SUIT MAGAZINE p.17
by maria esposito
MERGING THEORY AND PRACTICE TO BUILD THE BOTTOM Line and Value to Your Firm
n 2013, mergers and acquisitions are back with a vengeance. Not since the days of dot com madness in the late 1990s have there been megadeals in the offing on the scale of the proposed Heinz and Dell buyouts. Mergers and acquisitions (M&A) are suddenly so popular that Reuters reports these transactions as totaling $158.7 billion so far this year – which is already twice last year's amount. Of course, many people want to get in when the action is hot. Rick Gould, Managing Partner of Stevens Gould Pincus LLC, can't be numbered among those just now hopping on the bandwagon. He started his M&A consulting firm in 2001, after 20 years of running his own accounting practice. So what prompted Gould to make the leap from a behind-the-scenes accountant to a player front and center on the deal-making stage? It was sparked by the need to do the deal and also get credit for it. According to Gould, “I owned the accounting firm for 20 years, specializing in the PR and ad agency industries. I was also getting involved with mergers and acquisitions as the CPA. That's when I decided after 20 years I didn't want to own an accounting firm any more. I wanted to be doing mergers and acquisitions, and counseling senior level executives – C-Suite executives – on things like profitability and building value in their firm. . . I found that as the accountant I wasn't on the firing line, I was behind the scenes, and I wasn't getting much credit for deals getting done. That was really the THE SUIT MAGAZINE - APRIL / MAY 2013
turning point.” Armed with the money from a fiveyear buyout of his accounting firm, Gould plunged into the business of helping companies buy other companies and sell to larger firms. At the same time, Gould was approached by a senior person at the Parsons School of Design to create a graduate course on entrepreneurship, one of the few in the U.S. at that time This course, modeled on the case
study method perfected by Harvard Business School, dealt with issues that cause businesses to implode even at the height of their earning power. It was a hit with the students and Gould wound up teaching at Parsons for three and a half years while he built his M&A firm. In addition to teaching and building a consulting business, GouldPartners LLC, Gould was also writing and speaking at major conferences. Then a light bulb went off and Gould decided that being involved in M&A deals would be better with a law degree. He explained, “I decided if I'm doing
M&A and I'm negotiating and I'm reviewing contracts and preparing term sheets and doing these things you really have to be knowledgeable in, a law degree would make me smarter and grow my expertise.” “With no intention of ever practicing law I got my law degree nights, weekends, summers in just over three years. It was an amazing experience and well worth the time, effort and cost.” Gould then became an active participant in the Harvard Law School “Program on Negotiation” (PON). He takes courses, is an avid reader of the books, articles and newsletter of the law school professors and follows the programs and interviews on the PON website regularly. “The PON faculty includes some of the most brilliant minds in the world. I take full advantage of it and hope the methodology and approach helps in my motivational ‘you can do it’ speeches at conferences in the Public Relations industry,” Gould said. His third book “The Ultimate PR Agency Financial Management Handbook” just released in April further solidifies his commitment to creative service firms increasing their bottom line and building value in their firm. Counseling CEO’s, motivational speaking, writing books and articles and Harvard Law are all part of Gould’s strategic plan- not only to benefit his consulting and M&A clients- but for himself.
by peter hochstein
Keeping His Firm Rational and His Clients Successful
e can talk in sound bites and effortlessly rattle off statistics, but don’t let his patter fool you. At heart, William Davis, Jr. – Chief Executive Officer and Portfolio Manager of Thompson Davis & Company – is a hard-nosed pragmatist. From the offices of Thompson Davis, an investment management company still boutique-sized enough to be housed in a white-painted antebellum mansion in Richmond, VA, Davis recently shared his opinions,
perform their peers.” Named a Five-Star Wealth Manager Award Winner for the second year in a row, Davis focuses on certain classes of investment and on doing intensive research for his clients, who are mainly high net worth individuals, endowments and 401(k) plans. “We don’t do commodities and things of that nature – esoteric things. It’s strictly just individual bonds and stocks where we do the grunt work, the get-yourhands-dirty kind of research work, to
ideas and some of his investment techniques. What makes for a successful investment manager? Davis pointed out that, for one thing, we trust our disciplined and focused investing process enough to follow it ourselves. “And the way we like to look at that is, there’s nothing more motivating for success than to have your own money on the line,” Davis emphasized. To bolster his point, he cited statistics about the methodology of some mutual fund managers, “According to a Morningstar study, in over 51 percent of all mutual funds, the portfolio managers don’t invest in the funds. Those who do invest their own money in the funds that they manage, out-
really get to know those companies.” He narrows the focus even more by honing in on growth companies “in the small to mid-cap space.” “That’s our real value added,” he said. To reinforce that value, Thompson Davis strives to avoid the influence of popular sentiment. From 1992 to 2012, Davis said, “Stocks, as represented by the S&P 500 index, have returned, on average, 7.8 percent a year. The average investor during that same time has only had a 2.1 percent return. The question is why?” Davis believes that sentiment is what hinders investors. “One of the challenges is – using a Warren Buffet thing – to buy when there’s fear in the streets and sell when there’s eupho-
ria. It’s very difficult to do that…We have to work to change that in some cases.” To quash sentiment-based decisions Davis uses stop-loss orders, in the range of 8 to 10 percent for larger cap stocks and as much as 15 percent for smaller, more volatile stocks. “There’s nothing wrong with being wrong in this business…but staying wrong is a choice,” according to Davis. That is one thing stop-loss orders can prevent. As for what types of stock hold promise outside of the smaller growth stocks he mostly follows, Davis believes that the dividend-payers, currently increasing in popularity, will continue to be strong. “Investors cautiously returning to the market will seek out dividend stocks rather than speculative issues,” he said. “When you look at the S&P 500 from 1926 to 2012, dividends made up over 42 percent of the return. And while there have been some tax increases on dividends, dividend returns are still considerably more attractive to investors than Treasuries,” he noted. Davis helped found Thompson Davis & Company eleven years ago, after the firm he worked for was swallowed up by a larger company, which in turn was itself acquired. At that point, he noted, “I got kind of tired of being bought out, so I started my own firm.” The key to the success of Thompson Davis, he believes, has been sticking with his financial strategy. “A lot of people talk about staying the course in good times or bad and I think that’s really my greatest success. It’s gotten me through some very difficult times in the market. And it’s kept us out of trouble a lot, too.”
www.thompsondavis.com THE SUIT MAGAZINE p.19
"Going Beyond the Numbers”
An Accounting Firm You Can Count On
ow much does your accountant know about you and your business and more importantly, did he or she contribute significant value to your bottom line? Stone Carlie’s clients have no trouble answering that question in two succinct words – "absolutely yes." This full service, St. Louis-based CPA and business consulting firm aims to intimately understand each and every client, and that client's mission as well. They “go beyond the numbers” to help clients thrive in all their endeavors, including investments. “We look for clients who value the guidance we provide in terms of
THE SUIT MAGAZINE - APRIL / MAY 2013
designing a disciplined approach to investing. Our clients look for and receive a customized approach which assesses the level of risk they are willing to accept. Our methodology is designed to be completely transparent. Our clients always know what we do and why we are doing it,” senior member Richard Kraner explained. Kraner, a six-time recipient of the “Five-Star Wealth Manager's Award” from “St. Louis Magazine” also serves as Director of Tax and Business Services. Currently boasting a staff of almost 100 – half of whom are CPAs – over the span of more than 60 years, Stone Carlie has grown into one of the region’s largest and most experienced firms. Ranked 11th largest among approximately 2,000 accounting firms in the St. Louis area, the company continues to grow, providing its steadfast and prominent clientele with superior and professional tax, financial, and business solutions. Its staff is also steadfast, as Stone Carlie was a finalist
By Diane E. Alter
in the “2012 Best Places to Work in St. Louis” competition. Recognizing the changing needs and wants of clients, Stone Carlie has successfully transitioned from a traditional CPA firm into a full service financial services company with an international reach. Industry focus areas include real estate, healthcare, life science, emerging technologies, as well as manufacturing and distribution. Stone Carlie also includes individuals, businesses, non-profits, professional athletes and professional services organizations among its clients. The benefits of having a business firmly anchored by a well respected, successful CPA firm are boundless. At Stone Carlie, they can provide balance for more than just ledger sheets.
by leigh held
M A P P I N G a Financial Future
These relationships need to be based on trust. It’s a two-way street. It is not only about what we can do; it is about what the client wants.”
ot that long ago cell phone batteries lasted for three days, remote controls had one power button and nobody took off their shoes in the airport. And when people saved for retirement, the money saved was actually available when they were ready to stop working. Since 2008, many people – ranging from working professionals, who lost the majority of what they had already saved, to newly graduated, under-employed college students – have had to completely reconstruct their financial maps. Michael Porrey is the owner of MAP Wealth Managers LLC, a Chicago-based financial firm. Porrey began his career with a private Wall Street firm before founding his own independent financial business in 1998. Porrey’s focus is on pre-retirement and retirement planning and on coordinating financial planning with tax planning for individuals and small businesses. When asked what people should be doing about 401ks, he said, “Clients should be saving at least 10% toward their 401k.” Traditional 401ks are not the only type of plan. The sheer number of
products, from IRAs to Roth 401ks, can even be overwhelming. Porrey acknowledged the problem, offered, saying “The tax landscape is constantly changing, and we cannot predict where tax rates will be at retirement. Therefore, it may be advantageous to diversify within different tax-treated vehicles. Roths have tax advantages that traditional plans do not.” Some who lost money have still not returned to the stock market. Speaking as a realist, Porrey explained, “Over the last 15 years the stock market has been a roller-coaster ride. Most clients are loss-averse and do not realize their risk tolerance until it is too late.” The sooner risk tolerance can be figured out and viable methods for saving devised, the better for an individual’s financial future. One easy way to take that first step toward saving is to speak to a financial advisor or even a local banker. Financial advisors are like coaches. They are there to guide clients toward achieving their goals. Porrey said, “ It’s very hard for people who are in their mid-twenties to see them-
selves as “clients.” In that stage of invincibility, saving for retirement seems far-fetched. From experience, Porrey knows this, saying, “Even newly graduated students are waiting three to four jobs before starting to contribute to a plan. They are losing ten years.” There is no way to reverse the clock, reclaiming our old cell phone batteries and remotes, or feel a deep-rooted sigh of relief in knowing retirement savings will definitely be there. However, there are still options out there, like MAP Wealth Managers, enabling educated decisions. Live in the present, and think for a brief moment about the inevitable financial future.
Securities offered through LPL Financial. Member FINRA/SIPC. The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.
120 N. LaSalle St., Ste 1160 Chicago, IL 60602 w w w . m a p we a l t h m a n a g e r s . c o m
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by diane alter
Taking a Personal and Holistic Approach to Wealth Managment
t the height of the 2008 Great Recession, scores of investors lost faith in Wall Street and were completely turned off to thought of investing. The rampant mistrust and complaints against big brokers led many individuals to seek shelter under the umbrella of smaller, unbiased firms. An unbiased and holistic approach was the basis for which Brown Harris Wealth Management was founded. The firm’s mission was to become a premier and trusted financial services firm that cultivates an environment where the common goal is for clients’ well-being. Created by Todd Brown and Gillette Harris, the firm has achieved its aim. It has become the largest independent brokerage firm in Culpeper, VA with some $250 million under management. Using the most effective wealth management tools available, Brown Harris guides clients in the quest of achieving financial sustainability and success. The firm enjoys a stellar reputation as a company that helps clients seriously save money. Specializing in retirement planning, mutual funds, annuities, tax free bonds and estates, the firm takes a long term investment strategy. The
THE SUIT MAGAZINE - APRIL / MAY 2013
company is committed to educating clients about the direction and returns of their finances. As English philosopher Roger Bacon put it: “More people should learn to tell their dollars where to go instead of asking them where they went.”
311 S. East Street Suite 100 Culpeper, VA 22701 phone: (540) 825-1588 www.brownharrisinc.com
Take time to
be a dad today.
Call 877-4DAD411 or visit www.fatherhood.gov
by diane alter
The Velvet Rope Approach to Investing A Personalized Plan For All Your Financial Needs
new study conducted by Barron’s Magazine shows the rich are seriously selective when it comes to wealth managers. In 2012, a good year for markets, nearly 45% of wealth investors fired an advisor. A new trend emerging among the affluent is not simply moving from one firm to another, it’s diversifying their business (money) among several firms. Diversification is what Milwaukee Private Wealth Management, Inc. does best. This Mequon, Wisconsin based firm, with roughly $100 million under management, provides clients with carefully customized balanced portfolios. Using a mix of equity and fixed income, holdings are tailored and tweaked when market conditions shift, to a client’s risk tolerance and goals. Founded in 2007 by Jeffrey Geygan, who enjoyed two successful decades at two prominent Wall Street brokerages, Milwaukee Private
Wealth Management delivers personalized, integrated and objective financial solutions for prosperous individuals, multi-generational families and foundations. Drawing clients to private wealth management firms like Geygan’s is high quality service, strong investment return and a fiduciary mindset. Not burdened by robo-selling and commission pressures found at most big brokerage houses, wealth management advisors are focused on clients’ needs, their portfolio’s performance, and keeping clients’ trust. “Clients’ interests are much better served in this kind of independent environment,” Geygan said. The result is a bespoke, long-term wealth plan that molds a client’s legacy and helps it flourish. Value oriented investing is at the core of Milwaukee Private Wealth
Management’s approach. Adhering to the proverbial “buy low, sell high” adage, the firm is always on the prowl for attractively priced, fundamentally sound opportunities that are cushioned by a sufficient margin of safety. Holding just 18-22 securities, the firm is able to obtain in-depth, reliable research information. In the overwhelming, intimidating and scary world of investing, it’s comforting to know that those you have entrusted to watch your money and your future know the price and value of everything that matters to you. Milwaukee Private Wealth Management’s investment knowledge rewards its clients with the best kind of interest. Comments and opinions expressed in this material regarding individual securities and markets, are not recommendations or predictions, and thus should not be acted upon.
1500 W. Market Street, Suite 250 Mequon, WI 53092 www.mpwmi.com
THE SUIT MAGAZINE - APRIL / MAY 2013
by maria esposito
CARVING OUT A Niche
n February 26th, J.P. Morgan announced that it would cut approximately 15,000 jobs over the next two years from its mortgage unit – a unit inflated by 50,000 workers to process the overwhelming number of defaulted mortgages – and about 4,000 more from consumer banking. This seems to be a far cry from the bank's glory days, when it was focusing more on hiring than on downsizing. Mark Esposito, now CEO of Esposito Securities LLC, is a product of those glory days. At that time, the newly minted University of Connecticut finance major was offered a job at JP Morgan Chase in New York. That job proved to be the beginning of a 20-year career in the stock market. In bringing his own company into existence, Esposito has faced his own share of challenges, and still considers it very much a work in progress. Summing it up this way, Esposito notes, “Human capital is always a challenge and something we work on every day – getting the best people. In
OF ONE’S OWN
our business it's all about intelligence, not about being book smart. It's about your market experiences and intelligence, and also who you know and how you operate.” But there's more to that equation than simply knowing your way around the market, Esposito insists, adding, “You have to do that with integrity, dignity and hard work to be successful.” Esposito Securities' core competency is in trading stocks globally for big institutions, but the firm also includes a private equity group among the services it offers. Portfolio managers come to Esposito when they want to sell specific stocks, and he helps them decide the best course of action to make that transaction as profitable as possible. Esposito's company is known as a luxury brand catering to those who are under-served by bulge bracket firms – the largest of the multi-national investment banks – who don't provide this needed level of service. According to Esposito, these clients “want better service, and some unique products and services we have or offer to build.” One of those unique
services includes the proprietary algorithms the company uses to execute client transactions. Another Esposito Securities offering is far more intangible but even more important – and that is its emphasis on integrity. Instead of simply complaining about how the DoddFrank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act has increased the cost of doing business, Esposito is realistic as to why this kind of legislation is needed at all, insisting, “These rules are always put in place to stop the bad people, which we're not. So we just abide by the rules.” Esposito, not oblivious to the increase in money and time complying with Dodd-Frank costs, also feels that it has slowed down industry growth. By keeping his finger on the pulse of the market, Esposito finds out early on about what will be in demand in the future. One example is the growing trend for closed-end funds. He explains how, “First Trust just bought a billion dollar closed-end fund, so the demand's there. Clients want a product that's wrapped through a closedend fund and brokers enjoy selling them to their clients, so there's definitely a need there.” Together, all of these factors – the emphasis on custom service for clients, the need to run a business based on integrity and a keenly intense awareness of where the market is going – enable him to manage Esposito Securities from a position of strength. It is a stance that makes Esposito a winner.
www.espositoglobal.com THE SUIT MAGAZINE p.25
by judy magness
“MIDDLE MARKET COMPLEX?”
HELP FOR OFTEN-OVERLOOKED COMPANIES
iddle market companies often experience something akin to the middle-child syndrome – they feel ignored. Financial markets and the media are too busy nurturing start-ups and fawning over the more popular large cap companies to pay them much attention. Not so at Hunter Wise Financial Group. To Hunter Wise, a middle market firm is the golden child. “Our services are exclusively designed for the often-overlooked middle market companies,” said Fred Jager, president and CEO. There is always a need for growth, downsizing, or change and he notes an example in a typical entrepreneurial company. “The business has grown to a point where the entrepreneur is no longer interested in or capable of growing business, so they need another equity partner, or to merge with another firm. Conversely, there are companies looking to acquire these types of firms.” Jager started Hunter Wise Financial Group in 1999. Together with Hunter Wise Securities, it is one of the largest corporate finance and M&A firms in the U.S., with 15 domestic offices, international offices in London, Beijing and a Brazilian office opening soon in Sao Paulo. “We are expanding business relationships with firms similar to ours in most of the European countries – and just beginning to tip-toe beyond the People’s Republic of China into other parts of Asia,” said Jager. Hunter Wise specializes in two areas: raising equity and debt for both publicly and privately held companies; and assisting with mergers, acquisitions, divestitures, refinancing, and taking public companies private or vice versa. “As the economic climate shifts, so do our products and services,” Jager said. Financing has been very difficult, if not impossible, for companies to obtain over the last few years. The majority of business for Hunter Wise has been in corporate finance, raising mezzanine capital and equity for firms. Merger and acquisition services, however, are on the upswing, with more growth oppor-
tunities available. Currently on the minds of many Hunter Wise clients are the ramifications of the new 2013 tax code and how it is likely to affect them. This is true primarily in states like New York, New Jersey, Illinois and California where taxes are already high. Many companies are considering relocating to areas of the midwest where unemployment is low and often so are taxes. Jager revealed that Hunter Wise itself is currently looking at options to relocate its headquarters from California to a more strategic location. Representing publicly and privately held companies throughout North America, Jager has become one of the nation’s most successful leaders in middle market corporate finance. Interestingly enough, he credits his previous career with giving him a tremendous advantage. As a U.S. intelligence officer serving in national and international capacities, he was highly trained in investigative research.“The business of working for a buyer or seller, or an enterprise looking to raise money is one that requires the same kind of intelligence work that oftentimes goes into government intelligence,” Jager explained. “Understanding people and circumstances, and having all your facts correct, are very important elements in structuring a business.”
Some areas of the U.S. are strugginling with budget cuts and low tax receipts, while others are doing fairly well.
THE SUIT MAGAZINE - APRIL / MAY 2013
by diane e. alter
CUSTOMIZING A PLAN TO GUIDE INVESTORS TO FINANCIAL SECURITY
ealth management not only helps in saving for the present and the future, it also helps to discover what’s really important to you. Actionable strategies can then be customized to help realize your goals and also protect wealth that has already been accumulated. So it is vitally important to choose a financial planner who not only understands the economy, but one who also understands you. Those who choose Henry & Hannay Wealth Management LLC get exactly that level of direction – times two. Under the guidance of Angella Henry and Rob Hannay, investment portfolios have been set up for scores of individuals, each creating the right balance of investments for income, growth and capital appreciation. The Flemington, NJ based wealth management firm has earned a stellar reputation thanks to its commitment to ethical behavior and high professional standards. Its small size offers big advantages, most notably being the ability to offer superior, personalized service. “We look at clients’ risk tolerance, present situation and time horizon. We then assemble a customized, diversified and realistic portfolio based on a customer’s circumstances and situation. Every portfolio is different. Henry and Hannay follow a process recommended by the Certified Financial Planner Board that covers not just a thorough financial assessment but also looks at risk management and estate planning.” Among the services being offered are investment management, financial planning, and estate and tax planning. “We are pro-active and engage in robust communication with our clients. Our door is always open. That directness lets clients know we are always available and always watching their investments. Life is unpredictable and sometimes messy. We deal with things as they come along. That’s comforting and invaluable to our clients,” the pair
told “The Suit.” Dealing with an ever-changing economic environment can certainly be vexing as well as time-consuming. It is no easy task constructing an investment portfolio that provides the right mix of current income, steady growth and long-term capital appreciation. Henry and Hannay deal with a falling dollar or weakness in the U.S. market environment by spreading assets among international companies, developing nations and the safe haven of inflation-hedged gold. All investments are thoroughly researched and chosen with realistic targets in mind, which are adhered to carefully. “We don’t try to time the market. We use an ease-in, average cost, structured strategy which benefits our clients well. There are bound to be bumps in the road, but they are hard to predict. We hold clients’ hands through difficult markets. That’s why now, more than ever, investors are relying on the expertise and guidance of professional investment advisors to develop and implement strategic investment portfolios that are conducive to their current and long-term goals. It’s never too late to see the light and start working with a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER TM. The core belief at Henry & Hannay is to start planning now in order to preserve and enhance wealth for retirement and other needs. Henry and Hannay Wealth Management LLC www.henryand hannay.com
THE SUIT MAGAZINE p.27
by judy magness
Beginnings are Most Important Non comformist entrepreneurs are blessed with unique traits.
They can take an idea and convert that idea into a money making concept. But no matter how creative, enthusiastic and adventurous, most entrepreneurs need help building a business around a brilliant idea, a blockbuster product or a priceless service. Motivation is a start, but its money that propels inspiration into motion. That’s where venture capitalists come in, providing seed money and support for the innovative entrepreneur in an early growth stage. Cava Capital, the Norwalk Connecticut firm was founded in 2007 by Geoff Schneider, who has more than two decades of varied operational and leadership experience. This hugely successfully firm is comprised of a select and accomplished team. With a satellite office in New York City, Cava Capital has “built a heck of a network over 20 years that helps both financially and physically,” providing investing prowess, execution and reputation. All passionate and driven, the Cava crew is skilled, open, honest and committed in seeing that all clients flourish. The firm’s successful track record permits it to be highly selective. From the hundreds of business plans Cava receives annually, only a carefully chosen few make the cut. Initial investments for qualified companies range between $1 million to $5 million. “We tend to focus on customers that have demonstrated early traction and revenue. We find opportunities that mesh with our business insight. We vigilantly filter our options and lean towards investing in seasoned entrepreneurs,” Schneider explained. THE SUIT MAGAZINE - APRIL / MAY 2013
The venture capital business is a “clubby industry,” according to data collected from Thomson Reuters and the National Venture Capital Association. Only the best survive and only so much money is available. But despite its cliqueness, VC is very big business. During the first quarter of 2013, VC firms raised $4.1 billion from 35 funds. That amount was a 22% increase from Q4 of 2012. But underscoring the competitive nature of the business, the number of VC funds decreased 14%. Before providing funding, Cava Capital always does its due diligence. This is a process designed to get an in-depth overview of a business. “We look at the size of the company, the value of the product or service, quality of the entrepreneurs, then business metrics, allure of the business model and the size or competitiveness of the market,” Schneider said. Having a compelling story, a bold growth strategy and exclusive features are not enough. Cost, usability, manageability, flexibility, integration and market leadership are all imperative. Indeed, of some 30,000 new consumer products launched each year, 95% fail, research from Harvard Business School shows. Cava’s current focus is on the revenue generating side of the enterprise, not as much on the efficiency side. Marketing and sales are areas that have long been ignored through
These relationships need to be based on trust. It’s a two-way street. It is not only about what we can do; it is about what the client wants.”
software and solutions, now they are very compelling as these parts of the enterprise are being reengineered. Technologies that fit that profile include mobile marketing, e-commerce, mobile payments, business-to-business social platforms, mobile content and mobile advertising. In this always turned-on and tuned in world, taking advantage of the implosion of new marketing outlets is imperative. Cava channels into the explosive arena of mobile, social and e-commerce communications to interact with consumers. “There are more ways to get the word out and use data than ever before. We enhance revenue via sales and marketing in a less intrusive, effective and personalized way. We optimize and monetize what we have without over saturating,” Schneider added. Unquestionably, the world has gone mobile. Five years from now, the earth’s population will swell to 7.6 billion people, according to the United Nations. Those individuals will be using some 10.3 billion Internet connected mobile devices. In other words, there will more mobile devices in the world than people, says networking behemoth Cisco Systems, Inc. Mobile is definitely where it’s at. Just as important as providing funding options for startup entrepreneurs so they can grow a prosperous enterprise, Cava Capital adds value beyond capital. The firm
has an exceptional advisory association that assists in all aspects of a start-up’s development. These advisors are also Cava fund investors, making them particularly motivated to see clients succeed. Schneider admits raising capital isn’t easy, even as the struggling U.S. economy shows signs of a significant and sustainable recovery. But the Great Recession narrowed the field, creating a less crowed venture capital environment. “Some of the greatest companies have been creating in times of calamity. Smart money knows this. Moreover, in this current zero-interest rate environment, investors recognize they have to take some risks to make money,” Schneider explained.
THE SUIT MAGAZINE p.29
BEFORE A DISASTER TURNS YOUR WORLD UPSIDE DOWN, BE READY.
GET A KIT. MAKE A PLAN. BE INFORMED. CALL 311 OR VISIT
by diane alter
Vanilla Investing With Rich Returns Customized Investment Management Services the Old Fashioned Way
People of a certain age will remember old fashioned investing--when common sense applied techniques resulted in successful results. Today, the financial services industry thrives on a cache of new and complex products of uncertain value or returns. A casino type mentality has taken over, fueled by the implosion of computerized trading and a short-term focus. But decades of bull and bear markets show that conservative investing, with a human touch, is both sensible and rewarding.
ith scores of investment managers focused on today, tomorrow or next week, risk taking has increased and the outcomes haven’t always been pretty. At Norwalk, CT based Scholtz & Co, the approach is sound, conservative investing. “We are old fashioned stock pickers. We pick individuals stocks; we don’t invest in mutual funds; we are selective and it has worked very well for us,” founder Peter Scholtz explained. Following Columbia Business School, and stints at Banker Trust and Smith Barney, Scholtz formed Scholtz & Co in 1994. With some 30 years of professional investment management experience under his belt, Scholtz made it his aim to outperform the market. The firm’s focus is providing customized investment management to its mostly high net-worth client base. Every portfolio is a balanced and tailored blend of investments based on a client’s circumstances and preference. Strategies include: All Cap, Small Cap, Balanced and Income. “We are in direct contact with our customers all of the time and we listen to their needs and concerns. As a family owned firm, we know and care about our customers. We quickly address and correct any issues that may arise. It’s our individual attention, top-notch customer service
and investment performance that have kept clients loyal,” Scholtz shared. Through the investment process of quantitative analysis, Scholtz & Co. has created a competitive edge by carefully sifting through the overwhelming deluge of data that bombards us every second of every day, in order to make savvy investment decisions. This has allowed the firm to more than simply compete with larger financial firms; it has permitted Scholtz to outshine them. “Navigating markets over 20 years, in a less than subpar environment, our performance is near the top when compared to a list of our competitors,” Scholtz said. The ability to plan ahead, and the art of disciplined investing, has been lost among eager investors. But taking time to understand the value of investing hasn’t been forgotten thanks to firms like Scholtz & Co. In a world engulfed with an abundance of financial engineering and complex transactions, the company has managed to prosper and do well by their clients by looking for good returns through low-risk investing. www.scholtzandco.com
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by diane alter
EARNING the PRIVILEGE to be your TRUSTED ADVISOR
Where Clients are First, Last and Always in the Forefront
Founder, Michael Ward
lthough stock market benchmarks have recently hit milestones on several occasions, and investors are beginning to feel a bit better about investing, scores of people today continue to face great economic stress. The global economy is still attempting to recover from the financial meltdown of 2008, and worldwide instability and fiscal volatility remain foremost on investors’ minds. Thus, engaging the services of an experienced, reputable and trusted financial advisor has never been more important. It’s not just gyrating stock markets and international instability that has heightened the need for professional investment advice; it’s the growing need to plan for retirement. Yet, according to a fresh report from the Deloitte Center for Financial Services, some 58% of Americans have no retirement savings. Blame the Great De-
pression which left scores of Americans with little or no savings, scared off from investing, and dissatisfied with their financial advisors. Pittsburgh, PA based Wealth Management Partners has built a successful business around “earning the privilege to be your trusted advisor.” By optimizing investments and organizing personal financial planning, the firm helps simplify client’s financial lives. Its approach is to reduce volatility, not simply outperform the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index. “We really try to educate our clients about volatility. If they want growth, they have to expect some turbulence. If they want safety, they will have to give-up some upside. We focus on the best allocation for each individual. Maintaining trust and providing transparency is imperative,” WMP founder Michael Ward explains. “Our mantra is clients first, last and always. My money is where my mouth is. I don’t have a crystal ball and can’t predict market movements and the future. But at WMP we always do what’s best for our clients. The long standing relationships we have with clients speaks volumes. In our business, retention is key,” Ward added. A wealth manager’s job goes way beyond just picking stocks. They help plan your financial life. Regular reviews of portfolios, updating and changing clients’ investment profiles based on current life situations, and coordinating with clients’ attorneys and accountants is also important. It’s not simply the rich that need or employ a wealth manager. Those that don’t feel well see a doctor. Those with ailing investments need to see a reputable wealth advisor.
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by peter hochstein
Bringing Scarce Capital to Upstate New York’s Startups Seeding New Businesses
here’s a cliché that banks won’t lend you money unless you don’t need it. Little wonder then, that entrepreneurs in upstate and western New York have such a hard time getting startup capital. The area is almost too needy. This region has been clobbered not only by the national economic meltdown, but also by local business disasters such as the bankruptcy of Eastman Kodak. Even regional venture capital firms like the Trillium Group have begun moving away from capitalizing early stage businesses, because, according to Trillium partner, Dennis M. DeLeo, “It was hard to make money in the early stage space over the last decade.” But DeLeo also sees the potential inherent in his region. Moreover, that potential – if developed – can help to restore economically troubled neighborhoods. Starting with his own hometown of Rochester, DeLeo is seeking to tap into this local potential, by taking the non-profit route, putting together a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. He noticed previously that many who invest in early stage funds did so in part because “they believed it was the right thing for the community and for its growth.” His organization is looking for investors like those to be contributors to the new non-profit. Initially, the organi-
zation – called Venture Jobs Foundation – is focusing on Rochester, although in time DeLeo hopes to expand its activities to other upstate and western New York cities, such as Syracuse and Buffalo. Venture Jobs Foundation’s aim is to develop “a stable and growing base of capital in the area,” by providing loans or equity, with the interest and returned loan principal or equity available for reinvestment. It’s looking at businesses ranging from those providing basic neighborhood services to high tech labs. “Both,” said DeLeo, “can generate jobs for people who don’t have highly advanced skills.” DeLeo explains, “Let’s say it’s a medical device spinout from the University of Rochester, which has a very heavily research-based medical center….If they are willing to bring 20 or 25 jobs to a targeted neighborhood, that neighborhood is going to need coffee, it’s going to need retail. So we don’t care whether the jobs come directly from the businesses we invest in – which is fine – or whether the jobs will be catalyzed by a high tech company.” DeLeo said that Venture Jobs expects to have no problem in finding candidates seeking investment capital. “When people know you have money to invest, they come to you in numbers because it is so scarce in upstate New York.” Applicants are subject to a due diligence process examining their financial responsibility. In addition, Venture Jobs considers carefully “whether they
have the potential for jobs creation, because that’s our prime driver.” The foundation also mentors the businesses in which it invests, offering a tool kit of advice and information tailored to help each business grow more efficiently and effectively. It began operating in mid-year 2012 and is looking to develop a track record that can be cloned elsewhere. “There are a lot of other areas that have very strong university connections, very good R&D and a horrible lack of capital,” DeLeo said. “In time…we expect to reach out and discuss this with other communities.”
100 Chestnut Street, Suite 1500 Rochester, New York 14604 www.venturejobs.org
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by peter hochstein
Charles Eaton’s Tried and True “3-to-5 Rules”
Fashioned in the Hot Forge of Finance
harles Eaton will tell you that, when he founded Connecticut-based Eaton Partners, LLC – a company whose sole business is placing significant assets with money managers – he had virtually no competition. That was in 1983. But as he prospered, other firms sniffed around and smelled money, so after a while, he was competing with some very formidable heavyweights. Many of them are gone now, including Merrill Lynch and Citibank, which have exited the business sector he helped start. Likewise, Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers are out of business, period. But Eaton Partners has remained, and even though a few larger competitors are part of major Wall Street firms, after 31 years he can safely claim it is the largest independent firm in the field. What does Eaton do to find investment managers who are likely to do right by his client institutions, such as pension funds? His “3-to5 Rule” – actually a set of rules beginning with those numbers – are key, and are all devised for the recent investment climate. Eaton avoids lone wolf investment managers and looks for management firms with 3- to-5 senior people. “It can’t be a one-man shop because something can happen to the key person,” he warned. He already had that experience once, and once was enough. Not only does he like to have those 3-to-5 key people in place, but he likes to see them “working together for 3-to-5 years, because that’s enough time to determine if they can get along and know how to work together.” Moreover, the asset managers’ track records “need to be based on managing assets in excess of a couple of hundred million dollars. I would say 3-to-5 hundred million dollars would be ideal.” Even though “institutional investors usually invest anywhere from $10, to $20, to $30 million in any one firm – because they don’t want to dwarf the assets other people have at that firm – the track record of what somebody can do with minimal amounts of money is not indicative of what they need to be able to do with several hundred million dollars.”
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To protect his investors against the possibility of getting scammed by the Bernie Madoffs and Allen Stanfords of this world, Eaton added another 3-to-5 rule. “It’s nice if a money management firm has 3-to-5 brand name investors that have already put their money with them. That doesn’t necessarily protect you from the Bernie Madoffs because fraud is…pretty hard to detect. But we use that as another credibility check. If they’ve already been hired by Harvard management or Yale, or some other institution, that gives us more comfort.” For even greater comfort, Eaton says, “We do background investigations now that we never used to do.” Eaton’s firm checks the money manager’s law firm. Law firms “help package their products, their documents and their offering materials. So vetting by reputable lawyers is another source of comfort,” said Eaton. “We have begun to do background investigations by hiring an investigative firm to do work on the principals” of prospective investment managers. Eaton searches for managers offering “transparency and liquidity,” both of which are increasingly being demanded by wary institutional investors. However, despite all the precautions, security checks and 3-to-5 guidelines, investments still can be buffeted by powerful forces. “The industry’s got its cycles, like any other business,” Eaton said. “And a lot of that is related to global markets, global economies and of course, local markets and local economies.” While he can’t control those, Eaton notes “in the last five years, we've survived and grown our business while a lot of our competitors – a LOT of our competitors – have gone out of the placement business.” www.eatonpartnersllc.com
by mitch ligon
Succession is All About Success
Passing the Torch to the Next Generation There are many family businesses operating in the United States and separating the dining table from the boardroom table can be the recipe for a family feud combined with business strife. Con Lynch, owner of The Family Business Coach is one who is capable of easing the transition from one generation to the next for all parties involved.
ynch was raised on a cattle ranch in Oregon and due to circumstances beyond his control, the business dissolved. Despite this loss of his family business, Lynch became an attorney, working as a litigator for a number of years. After over 20 years in the field of law, he combined his training with personal experience to set up his own coaching business, and found the key ingredient to his track record – success, which is most often found by mirroring both the mindset and actions of successful people. “One of the reason I do what I do, is that we don’t own it [the cattle ranch] anymore, for a variety of reasons. But essentially what I learned over the years is that you could be the best dressed person in the world and the CEO of your own firm – still, at the end of the day, that doesn’t necessarily mean you will have the capabilities to continue to successfully operate a family business,” said Lynch. “Succession is about success. And we want to help people get across the bridge to be successful in the next generation,” he emphasized. “A lot of times, parents aren’t very good in cutting loose. So what we have developed as a program that basically helps, is not so law driven, as much as who’s on first, what’s on second and how we’re going to go forward to make this work for the next generation.” Lynch’s practical steps have taken a path of their own, by playing to the
strengths and weaknesses of his own experience. He established boundaries, responsibilities and set defined roles – all things which determine whether a family business will succeed or fail. “The biggest thing I see right now is change. It’s happening so quickly that most people can’t wrap their hands around it,” he said reflecting on how the expanding global market affects businesses in America today. “They can’t grasp what’s coming at them. So in today’s age, we think that financial information and understanding is what it costs for you to do your business – it is extremely important.” As an attorney and now a business owner, the biggest learning experience for Lynch has been his own family. “I have been married for 33 years. She’s the love of my life. My (three) kids have had their successes and failures, but overall they’re out there working hard and trying to get through what they’re doing,” he said. “But on the business side, we have had the great opportunity to work with some really cool people, and help them transition their businesses to the next generation. And it’s heartwarming to see people who have been able to succeed.”
“For instance, I have a daughter who graduated from The Julliard School with a Masters in music. She’s out there playing professional music – very competitive. And when you walk in an audition, you have 30 seconds to prove yourself. If not, you’re done,” said Lynch. “That is what’s happening in our business world. It’s counseling on both ends – to be able to give confidence so that [she] they can believe in themselves to be able to go the next level.”
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Alternatives to Nickeling and Diming Banks Helping with Cash Flow Problems
anking just isn’t what it used to be. There are fees for withdrawing and depositing funds, fees for talking to a teller and fees for every other kind of service that can be conjured up, as banks attempt to nickel and dime customers for absolutely every single feature they offer. And getting a loan or line of credit has become increasingly difficult since the financial crisis of 2008. DFS Worldwide LLC offers alternatives and solutions to these mounting concerns and impediments. Based in Las Vegas, NV, with a European arm in Madrid, the firm was founded in 2006 by Helmuth Castañeda, a former mortgage banker. Castañeda saw a great need and moved to fill it, helping businesses and individuals with cash flow problems by providing practical solutions. “We specialize in assisting upstarts that have very little liquid cash and have been turned down by banks. Through different types of loan arrangements, depending upon how much money a client is looking for, how much on hand liquid cash the client company has spent on the company project to date as well as what amount of on hand liquid cash the company has to work through a funding need, DFS helps where banks can’t or won’t. We have access to a venture capital lender .. We can guide with private placements, joint ventures, commercial lenders, introduce
by diane altrer
company insiders who are interested in becoming a public company with the right people and we can facilitate private institutional grants,” Castañeda explained. In the secondary loan market, credit is not a key factor. “What is important in private lending is a viable executive summary and a working business strategy. It’s a competitive market for the borrower. We guide every client in a professional, trustworthy and realistic way. We see the economy picking up and moving forward. That will benefit everybody,” Castañeda detailed. As trust in banks has dramatically declined, consumers continue to look for reasonable and reliable alternatives. This, too, benefits DFS Worldwide – and its customers.
Moving Toward Fee-Based Financial Services
randon Cupp is right where he wants to be – president and manager of fixed assets at RRC Wealth Management in Salem, Virginia. “Working as an independent Registered Investment Advisor (RIA), the only selling I do is the marketing of our portfolios to potential clients. Afterwards, trust builds and I never have to sell again. I can focus solely on my personal passion of investing,” he explains. In 2007, Cupp began working at major financial service companies, buying and selling stocks, bonds and mutual funds on a commission basis. When he realized how much he preferred working with a small group of fee-only clients, the need for independence emerged. Soon after, RRC Wealth Management was launched with Cupp at the helm. Citing consumer demand, Cupp predicts that traditional commission brokers will soon be in the minority. “People are starting to ask for fee-only advisors,” he explains. “Most firms have already shifted from commission- to fee-based with larger clients, but maintain a commission model for small clients.” He suggests that third party providers will become the norm, with firms like his offering niche-specific expertise while outsourcing other services. This shift in models also leads Cupp to another inter-
THE SUIT MAGAZINE - APRIL / MAY 2013
By Judy Magness
esting prediction. Exchange Traded Funds (ETF) will soon overtake mutual funds in popularity due to their fee-only structure, low cost, ease of diversification and ability to move in and out without additional fees. “Mutual funds can’t continue to survive without charging the fees they’re charging,” he said. Part of RRC's diversified portfolio model calls for a percentage of alternative investing in commodities, including gold, silver and natural gas. Cupp also points to real estate as one of the most under-valued asset classes. “It took such a big hit in prior years, now there are opportunities for return. It’s not a flipper’s market, but a rental market. A real estate investment trust may be a very smart investment for some,” Cupp predicted.
by diane alter
four hour 2008 PBS documentary titled “Unnatural Causes: Is Inequality Making Us Sick?” concluded that contrary to popular belief, your health is more than simply the sum of your genes, health habits and the quality of your health insurance plan. Wealth also matters – and it matters a lot. That belief wasn’t always the case. For years, Nobel laureates, scientists and medical experts alike have touted that health is wealth. To quote poet Ralph Waldo Emerson, “the first wealth is health.” However, more recently, the mainstream mantra has changed to wealth equals health, and the 2008 financial meltdown underscored that belief. As savings were wiped out, houses and cars repossessed and future plans ruined, a cry to return to financial well-being was heard loud and clear. Recognizing the need and helping to fill this void, Wealth Health LLC was founded. According to Vice President and Senior Wealth Advisor James Di Gesu, its aim is to guide people in building and maintaining a healthy portfolio. Adeptly
meeting the growing and complex challenges of managing personal finances and investments, this Roseland, NJ-based firm provides affluent individuals with a solution for synchronizing personal financial management among multiple advisors by acting as financial planner, accountant and investment advisor. Among the services Wealth Health provides are integrated wealth planning and investment management, comprehensive personal financial planning, which includes cash-flow analysis, tax planning and compliance , compensation and benefit plan analysis, retirement and financial independence planning, college funding, risk management, estate planning. Wealth Health also offers executive counseling and educational seminars to senior executives and small business owners and their employees As a fee-only RIA (Registered Investment Advisor) firm that doesn’t own or sell any investment products, Wealth Health is an independent trusted advisor with the sole objective to see that every client receives the maximum benefit. Di Gesu reiterates how thoroughly each individual’s situation is given individual attention, as he states, “we are passionate about our work and more importantly compassionate about our clients and their families. The aim of the firm’s model is to provide clients with security, peaceof-mind and trust with a trusted advisor relationship. As Di Gesu explains, Wealth Health believes clients should have the same level of trust in a financial advisor that they have in a trusted family doctor. What matters more than the amount of money available when planning for a healthy financial fu-
ture is making sure funds are distributed in the best possible manner and that money is not spent frivolously? A cavalier attitude to money can be disastrous. And just as regular physical check-ups are needed, portfolios also need routine professional maintenance and tune-ups. How is health like money? We never have a true idea of its value until we lose it. While we cannot buy good health, we certainly can buy good wealth management – and Wealth Health is a great example.
We are passionate about our work and more imporatanlty compassionate about our clients and their families.”
Wealth Health Personal Wealth Management www.wealthhealthllc.com
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by maria esposito
charging ahead - but not blindly
ccording to a survey by online broker TradeKing, investors see 2013 as the year to take a bullish position on the equities markets. When this in-house email poll – conducted from January 30th to February 7th – asked the opinions of over 8,000 of the company's clients, it found that 51 percent of respondents predicted a "somewhat or significantly greater” level in their U.S. equities exposure. This kind of exuberance about investing in the stock market hasn't been around since November 2007. Enthusiasm aside, making money from investments requires more than just a willingness to charge full steam ahead; there has to be a solid strategy in place. Nobody is more aware of this than Rocco Santomenno, President and Chief Portfolio Manager of Santomenno & Company. Santomenno has been carefully watching the ebb and flow of both investor enthusiasm and the markets since he became a Registered Investment Advisor in 1975. Facing the challenges inherent in being a young advisor offering recommendations to seasoned investors, in recalling the obstacles of those early years, Santomenno summed it up this way. “How do you drum up business when you just got out of school – and you're trying to sell your services to an investor who has spent his life accumulating wealth – and he is reluctant to turn over his portfolio to a rather young individual with just a college education.” Obviously Santomenno discovered the answer, because the investment management firm he founded then is stronger than ever today.
His experience has taught him another valuable lesson. That lesson is about not being greedy.
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So how has Santomenno weathered changing investor attitudes? By offering his client base of individuals and small pension groups, a tried and true method for approaching the creation and management of their portfolios. As he describes it, “Basically a client tells me what they want and in what time frame, and I go about building a portfolio based on that time frame, the expected rates of return and the risk tolerance levels of the client.” He also builds client awareness that wealth accumulation is a long-term process. Santomenno insists that his clients agree to stay with him for at least seven years in order to get “the full effect of the peak to trough to peak returns, so the client will understand that he should expect to double his money within the 7th year from high to low to highs again.” Santomenno's strategy is backed up by a good dose of reality. But, how can anyone be certain about the safety of any investment, even in a blue chip stock like GM or GE? “We have to understand that these documents (SEC filings) were confirmed, if you will, by an accounting company,” Santomenno admits. But, that didn't help with WorldCom or Enron. We have to understand that no matter how hard we try to deliver the best product we can, there always can be a ticking time bomb there. Diversification is the only way to survive in the event we hit a mine field.” His experience has taught him another valuable lesson. That lesson is about not being too greedy, “Trying to make more money than you should in too short a period of time.” Santomenno explains, “If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.”
by peter hochstein
HAPPILY SELF-EMPLOYED BY STAFFING OTHER COMPANIES
f Wendy Pendleton has any regrets about going into business for herself, it’s that she didn’t do it sooner. She owns a franchised Express Employment Professionals office in Tucson, Arizona where her business of placing people in local jobs – permanent, temporary and contract positions – has grown 1,500% over the last three years. Yes, she’s talking about Tucson, which she admits is “one of the slowest recovering areas in the country,” a place where people are still looking for “any work they can get.” But the job placement industry is clearly growing, along with the jobs that power it. Express Employment’s parent company has 615 offices that grew 101% from 1998 to 2012, and she explained, “We expect to grow considerably over the next few years as well.” What took Pendleton so long to get into the business? “I waited until my son was grown. I needed the stability of a steady job until he was out of college. Then I started thinking about owning my own business,” she said.
Despite a background that included 25 years in sales, along with another five years doing staffing work for a different company, Pendleton found firsthand that starting a business wasn’t easy. As she recalls, “The challenges of putting a business together after so many years of working for others pushed me further than I had been pushed before,” adding, “It’s been a real learning curve.” In Pendleton’s previous field, she had been “a lone wolf.” As an entrepreneur, she now had to function as team leader after finding the right people to staff her own company. Pendleton had to get tough, too, living by the rule, “Be slow to hire and quick to fire.” Challenges presented by technology and posed by the complex rules that govern placing people in jobs have been overcome by hiring a computer-savvy staff. Pendleton also receives support from the franchising company for everything “from payroll to legal and HR issues.” What value does Pendleton add to the placement services she offers to her clients? “In today’s workforce, even contingent workers are being pre-screened better than ever,” she said. According to Pendleton, that’s important because, she notes, “a huge
percentage of people lie on their resumes.” Pendleton explains, “We do background checks and two reference checks on everyone we consider for employment.” For her client companies, this “frees up time tremendously, knowing they can trust a service like ours to provide them with really qualified people,” complete with verified resumes. As time goes on, Pendleton believes there will be a growing need for staffing services. While companies have been relying on temporary staffing “because they’re not sure what’s around the economic corner,” there will an increasing challenge to find full-time employees with just the right qualifications. Moreover, instead of taking any job offered, “people are going to get more specific and they’re probably going to be changing jobs. We’re looking forward to that.”
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by diane alter
“MAKE IT HAPPEN!”
SUCCESSFULLY HELPING OTHERS TO SUCCEED
or some fourand-a-half years, the unemployment rate has hovered near or above 8 percent. According to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Department, there are 3.7 unemployed job seekers for every available job. Meanwhile, those who have jobs are desperately trying to hold on to them, often working harder with fewer resources. Many companies must also re-invent themselves in order to weather the stormy economy by embracing change rather than running from it. Never has the need for inspiring, action-oriented leadership been more pronounced. Christy Geiger, owner of Synergy Strategies, has been coaching business owners, CEOs, executive teams and professionals across the board in leadership and high-level achievement skills – both nationally and internationally – for more than a decade. Geiger is currently writing her new book “Leadership Inside Out,” Geiger explains how, “Authenticity on the inside affects how you lead and today more than ever those need to be congruent and consistent,” emphasizing, “If you’re a fake leader it erodes trust. If you are authentic, people respect you.” Although people can be successful without a business coach, both truly driven leaders wanting to take success to new levels, as well as those
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who are in need of basic assistance can benefit greatly from the insights, advice, support and feedback that comes from working with an experienced professional such as Geiger. Coaching services with Synergy Strategies are available in many formats – including one-on-one, group, telephone sessions, seminars and workshops – all combining hands-on information with the invaluable benefit of having a neutral strategic partner whose feedback and suggestions are ultimately trustworthy. Working with a coach such as Geiger can provide insights into one’s own individual strengths and weaknesses as well as into parts of the working methodology that could be problematic. Any topic can be covered. Geiger helps her clients explore themselves, discover their natural styles, advance to the next level, stay marketable, communicate clearly and remain on the cutting edge in a ferociously competitive marketplace. “I tell people to plug into their energy. I help them find what works for them and keeps them on the right track. It’s important to ‘clean house.’ To get rid of the clutter and purge the things that are slowing them down,” Geiger explained. At the core of Geiger’s approach are clarity, focus and planning. Benefits of this approach include clearer vision, motivation, optimum energy and speed, increased productivity, results and success. As a skilled business coach, Geiger’s trained ears, eyes and intuition help individuals maximize their gifts and talents to reach
and exceed their goals and ambitions. She encourages people to commit to an action. The most difficult step may be finding a clear direction or formulating a plan, however, the closer a career aligns with a person’s purpose and goals, the happier and more satisfied that person will be. Geiger’s mantra is “Make It Happen.” Offering some advice freely, Geiger shared, “Whatever you do – do something. Move quickly, move swiftly and embrace change.”
by leigh held
STEEL MADE P
art of President Obama’s agenda is to bring manufacturing right back to the United States and Rich Merlo, CEO of JDM Steel Service Inc, is working hard to do just that. His product is carbon flat-rolled and hot-rolled steel, an essential component in equipment, such as farm machinery, railroad tank cars, electrical enclosures and many other components. With three plant locations – Chicago, Houston and Mississippi – Merlo’s clients are mainly domestic, stretching from Pennsylvania to California. JDM Steel is well positioned to guarantee reliable next day delivery to 80% of U.S. manufacturers, making the leaner, just in time
(JIT) manufacturing processes possible for his clients. Merlo’s company survived the recession of 2008, although he is in a sector that was hit extremely hard. The average consumer buying a car, for instance, never considers the health of the U.S. steel market or where the steel in that car was even produced. Some may think steel is no longer even made domestically. Detailing precisely what happened to steel production in the U.S., Merlo explains, “It was a phenomenon that was almost impossible to get out of. The price of steel rose from 25 cents a pound to 50 cents a pound in a short period of time – higher levels than we had seen in many many years. Unfortunately, it also dropped back down into the mid-twenties and in that time
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all of our customers’ businesses just stopped. So, we were doing half of what we were doing before. We had the phenomenon of the price dropping in half and the business dropping in half. So, if you carried the three months of inventory, which is typical, now you had six months – and you had to sell it at half of what you bought it for.” This is the same story that put many steel companies out of business. During this time, JDM Steel continued to grow by roughly $20 million in sales each year with 2012 sales of just over $102 million. Merlo concentrated on combating soft demand with a quality product – steel that is flat and clean – and delivered reliably, just in time. U.S. buyers still pay some of the highest prices in the world for steel.
Soft demand is relative. Demand is actually decent in this country when you compare it to the rest of the world.” - Rich Merlo
IN THE USA However, as Merlo explained, “Soft demand is relative. Demand is actually decent in this country when you compare it to the rest of the world.” Merlo briefly mentioned European markets as being softer than U.S. markets, especially citing Spain’s 20% unemployment rate. Speaking about the situation right here at home, he said, “In the US, we still have more capacity than demand. Although prices seem high compared to world numbers, they are still at a level where many of the mills cannot make money. To make hot rolled steel for $600/ton, you are nearing a breakeven or losing position for these mills based on the cost of raw materials and scrap.” The cost of raw materials opened a
discussion of the commodities market and then turned to mining – where mines are located, what is done with the giant pile of dirt after being extracted from the mine and where the ore is traded. Merlo said, “Countries like India and China have a huge influence on scrap pricing.” Scrap is a component of steel typically made from recycled parts such as vehicles and other previously consumed and recovered metal-based products. As far as steel is concerned, the newly proposed American Energy & Infrastructure Jobs Act – the largest transportation reform bill since the creation of the Interstate Highway System in 1956 – would have an immensely positive effect on the American steel industry. Merlo cred-
its JDM’s success to his talented and dedicated workforce as well as JDM’s 13 year involvement in The North American Steel Alliance, a cooperative of independent steel distributors. While that has yet to be made concrete, Merlo is dedicated to growing his business through diversification and value-added services, all delivered just in time and right here at home.
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by leigh held
CARRYING THE HEAVY LOAD A Simple, Steel Device as Structural Support
o matter how great the product, it usually takes a top notch team of talent to get a new product onto the shelf or to get a new idea rolling. Such a team are brother and sister, Christine and Paul Harkin. Many new businesses still in their infancy have difficulty finding their footing. Often the inventor is not business savvy and if an inventor does have a wonderful business sense, the sense of personal ease it takes to successfully market a product may be lacking. Christine Testani, runs the business end of the team, which is based in Nassau County, New York. She is currently working hard to get this new American business – EZ Header USA – off the ground. EZ Header is a steel device for structural support that adjusts to any size and can be bolted in place through predrilled bolt holes. If a joist holding up a floor, for instance, is damaged, instead of the traditional method of cutting lumber to the exact size, then notching and attaching it to make the damaged joist structurally stable, a steel EZ Header can be positioned and bolted in place across the joists, securing any damaged sections. It is a simple de-
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vice that can literally hold up and support 6-7 defective beams to support a 2nd floor of a house, level existing floors or structurally secure and support unusually heavy objects. Testani’s brother, Paul Harkin was the one who actually invented EZ Header. With a broad background in carpentry, the inventor also is a current NYC building inspector with extensive experience in detecting structural support problems. Often, throughout his professional career he came across structural defects in buildings repaired using stopgap methods to prevent extensive demolition. Seeing that need gave him the drive to envision the product and
innovate. EZ Header experienced the most basic obstacle for a new invention. Their main setback over a 3 year haul was that Testani had to take over the main operations of the business during a period when her parents were ill in the spring of 2010. “The last three years have been an ongoing journey,” Testani admits, “Getting the business off the ground has been tough.” The Testani family were able to persevere, taking life and business one step at a time even during life changing events. “We are finally at the point where the company is getting off the ground, with a new name and a new owner moving forward,” She said. EZ Header faced another challenging moment as a new invention – its patent was originally denied because it was considered “prior art,” Testani explained, “We were denied because it (the invention) was similar to something that would hold up a light fixture and EZ Header is really something that provides extra support under a floor of a building.” The Testani team did not give up. Hiring a new attorney, they went right back to the patent office and succeeded. With patent in hand, they were determined to produce their product right here in the U.S., a trend many new companies – and even some old ones – are starting to emulate. There
Getting the business off the ground has been tough.” -Christine Testani
have been 23 sold thus far and testimonials are noted on their website. Testani and her brother have already invested $60,000 in their company and although they have yet to see a return, they know their market. They also know they have a unique product. “We look for anyone in the field of construction: builders, architects, plumbers, air conditioning installers, engineers, homeowners and building managers, She continues “This is an easy method for repairing a structurally damaged floor – by re-supporting the parts adjacent to the damaged area and removing the defective section.” EZ Header can be used in situations where leaking water, or termites, fire damage or even simple age are causing structural problems. It never rots or rusts because it is made out of specially coated steel. The EZ Header is offered in Light, Medium and Heavy duty and is available in lengths ranging from 2-5.5 ft. It is also available hinged at both ends, which allows it to be installed up to a 45 degree angle. A Double Angled EZ Header is also available and it is designed to carry loads on opposite sides of the unit. In addition, multiple brackets are also available for attachment to any given lumber dimensions and structural member. This product will be the wave of the future. No one ever believed adjustable and structural went hand in hand. The possibilities are endless. This product could even prove to be a real boom for homeowners, especially those suffering massive water damage from Hurricane Sandy. “We don’t have a team yet; we are still getting there,” she said.
Dominic Stiller NYS LIC Structural Engineer, DSENYBuildingServices@gmail.com Safety Squad, Inc. DSENY Building Services, Inc. 30-01 39th Avenue Long Island City, NY 11101 (347) 730-6990 ph
www.ezheaderusa.com (516) 739-0407
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by maria esposito
he U.S. is still experiencing a volatile economic climate, but occasionally some bright spots appear. A recent report from the Federal Reserve, for instance, noted that the manufacturing of business equipment rose 2.5 percent in February, representing a 6.6 percent increase over this time last year. A number of sectors within the business equipment manufacturing industry also saw growth, including industrial equipment, which rose 2.2 percent. Such hopeful news is certainly a great motivator for someone like John Nucatola, President of Advanced Manufacturing Service, Inc. (AMS). His company helps original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) that find it more cost effective or efficient to have components or products made by AMS rather than doing the actual fabricating themselves. Nucatola's customers prefer to outsource to a local company like his, instead of going overseas, too. Nucatola said, “What we're looking for are OEMs that are local and want to produce their products in the United States – somebody we can help out with the manufacturing of their products.” Some examples of the help Nucatola's company provides sophisticated electronic circuitry and mechanical assemblies, such as those used in consumer electronics, video surveillance and electronic medical products. AMS provides each OEM with finished components, parts or whole products that the OEM can then add to the equipment it manufactures, which it in turn sells to its own customers.
Nucatola's business has been experiencing its share of changes. One of the most significant changes is surface mount manufacturing. This process for creating electronic circuits – by mounting components directly onto the printed circuit boards rather than fitting them into holes in the boards – has some distinct advantages, “We're seeing more and more products being designed in surface mount. Surface mount has smaller types of components. That allows the products to
be more complicated and it also allows the products to be smaller than in the past.” Outsourcing production to India, China and Mexico is another trend that is making less of an impact on Nucatola's business these days. He says there is some evidence that more manufacturers seem to want to keep the creation of their products in the U.S. “That's why they're using companies like mine to manufacture their products in the United States – to keep it local. You're seeing more and more companies try to do the manufacturing here versus sending it overseas.” Factors like time delay in receiving completed products and communications issues that can slow the manufacturing process down are great
in the U.S. incentives to keep manufacturing in the US. Globally, the attitude shift toward a greener way of thinking about manufacturing has also led to changes in the way Nucatola does business. The European Union's passage of the Directive on the restriction of the use of six hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment (RoHS) has added specific compliance issues to the fabrication of some of Nucatola's customers' products. AMS has been dealing with RoHS compliance for the last six years and he says that more companies are jumping on the band wagon because end users do want RoHS-compliant products. So, when all is said and done, how does Nucatola juggle all of these changes -- including the changing economy -- to keep his clients coming back again and again? The answer is simple: he provides great customer service. Whether it is giving clients a quick status update on their products or helping them with design changes, Nucatola makes himself available. This kind of personalized customer service is exactly what helps AMS continue to thrive, even during these tough times.
Advanced Manufacturing Service, Inc. 100 13th Avenue - Suite 2 Ronkonkoma, NY 11779
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by judy magness
WIRELESS MESH NETWORKS
Technology Enhances Multiple Industry Standards
n the evening of September 10, 2001, Paula C. Beauregard was scheduled to arrive at the Marriott World Trade Center in Manhattan for meetings the next day with other managers at her software company. But, at the last minute her trip was rescheduled to the following week. On the morning of September 11, the historic hotel where Beauregard had planned to stay became an escape route after two planes struck the Twin Towers in the 9/11 terrorist attack. “The Marriott Hotel at 3 World Trade Center was nestled between the Twin Towers and served as the mouth of a tunnel, a runway in and out of the burning towers for perhaps a thousand or more people,” according to the nonprofit organization, Marriott WTC Survivors Group. When the Twin Towers collapsed, the Marriott Hotel was destroyed. The realities of that infamous day left Beauregard stunned. She knew if it not for a last minute change of plans, she would have been in the midst of uncertainty and chaos. She also learned a colleague’s son was on the ill-fated Flight 93. And, like most Americans, she faced
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the realization that they were vulnerable to devastating terrorist attacks. As days ensued after 9/11 and more information emerged, Beauregard found it disturbing that first responders had a difficult time coordinating field communications and obtaining information they desperately needed. “They didn’t have advanced technology to effectively support their missions. That was the beginning of the turn of my career,” Beauregard explained, “I focused on doing what I could to improve security in our country and to improve communications, especially for our first responders.” With a versatile career in technology, Beauregard co-founded Edge Velocity Corporation in 2004 and is the firm’s CEO. Serving the commercial sector, homeland defense, and the first responder community, the company designs, manufactures, and markets Mobile IP (Internet Protocol) wireless mesh solutions. Wireless mesh networks are inherently fault tolerant, providing multiple, redundant communications paths and the capability to operate over large distances.. Dynamic packet routing combined with the self-forming and self-healing of the
mesh network creates new data paths as wireless nodes enter and leave the network due to communication failure or roaming. “With Edge Velocity technology, the mesh is created automatically and establishes communications dynamically—anywhere and everywhere. Any wireless mesh networking node entering or leaving the scene automatically joins or leaves the mesh with no impact to the rest of the network,” said Beauregard. In responding to a terrorist attack, natural disaster, or other large-scale incident, federal agents, firefighters, police and paramedics arrive at the scene with mostly voice communications and limited inter-agency communications. “Wireless communication is obstructed by frequency issues, particularly in urban and industrial centers, and by the inability to reach and interconnect high angle, subterranean, interior and exterior responders with their tactical command
posts, centralized command, and other responding agencies,” Beauregard said. Edge Velocity’s wireless mesh solutions address all of these requirements and are not subject to bandwidth degradation. Their communication solutions can be deployed by non-technical personnel in minutes, and sustain communications throughout any event. “We strive to conform to our client’s environment, instead of expecting our client to conform to our product,’” said Beauregard describing her company’s position in the industry. Most Edge Velocity clients have specific communication needs typically not found in current off-theshelf technology. Beauregard’s team digs deep to understand a client’s core mission and then goes to work to customize and configure software that readily adapts to unique customer environments. Their hardware designs accommodate a gamut of public cellular and private wired and wireless networks. Communications within extreme environments and situations drive the company’s technical creativity. Edge Velocity’s Edge Interlock ™ software and wireless networking routers allow for users to quickly set up agile, high-performance, dependable networks wherever needed for rapid response situations and hostile environmental conditions. “We identified significant technology gaps in the industry, and took on the challenge,” said Beauregard. “Our systems interoperate with, and extend the capabilities of, existing networks and devices.” Headquartered in Salem, New Hampshire, Edge Velocity has deployed solutions in some of the nation’s most demanding, security-driven and challenging environments. They assist first responders, defense contractors, transportation agencies and other companies with connecting in real world environments through customized mesh networks. The company recently partnered with DRS Technologies to deliver an integrated rugged mobile solution for the Fire Department of New York’s Electronic Patient Care Record Program. The system delivers patient records
directly to the emergency medical technicians while en route to the hospital—and provides a simultaneous link to the same system used by the doctors at the hospital preparing to receive incoming patients. When Beauregard describes her personal experience on 9/11, she speaks with palpable compassion for those who escaped, those who helped, and those who lost their lives. She describes the commitment of Edge Velocity, a company that grew from the ruins of 9/11, with the same depth. “There’s a quote by Muriel Strode that resonates strongly with me and the company, Beauregard said. “‘Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.’ We decided to push the boundaries and blaze a new trail in the industry.”
68 Stiles Road, Suite G Salem, NH 03079 Phone: 603-912-5618 www.edgevelocity.com THE SUIT MAGAZINE p.49
by rich monetti
Defined Exhibits Innovates to Make Companies Stand Out at Trade Shows
utting a face on a company’s brand and service is vital to a firm’s success in the trade show business. On the other hand, an industry convention lined with rows and rows of displays can leave everyone looking alike. But, of course, having a visual image that stands out is important as well. But more importantly, so does exhibiting to the specifics of the setting and the particular industry standards of the moment play a key role in marketing a business. “We research the show, the location and learn about the culture so we can approach convention goers in a specific way. Then we examine the trends in the industry, and after meeting with our client, we figure out how a company should be presented at a show,” says Stephan Koos, CEO and founder of Defined Exhibits. But DE doesn’t simply spec out a plan, mold the pieces and let the client assemble the parts before walking away on game day. “Our project managing team initiates and executes your project from start to finish,” says the company's website. Thus their unique trade show marketing displays are meant to engage and make full use of innovations such as printing on fabric. With no limits on size, designers can have their imagination run right off the page. "When you pull it taut," he says, "it has a great look." That said, staying on top of change in the field for DE is more
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than just a marketing pitch. "I pioneered some of these items in our industry by using fabric," explains Koos. As it turns out, it wouldn’t be the first time Koos forged new ground and risked in the name of professional reward. Not satisfied with his stake as an employee in his father's display business and the limitations it seemed to put on him, he opted for employment elsewhere. Unfortunately, his high profile name in the field left companies fearing that he would abruptly bolt for the security his lineage offered. “Nobody would hire me so I said, 'forget all those guys, I’m going to start my own business,'” he recalled. He secured start up money rather quickly, but not enough to lift him above beginning in a basement. “I kept waking up every morning and fighting,” he says. Soon enough, DE had a real address and began accumulating employees. And as he’s long left the subterranean behind, he’s sees no reason to stop looking up - today or into the future.
TURNKEY TECHNOLOGY SOLUTIONS
SUCCESSFULLY INSTALLING, SETTING UP, TESTING AND RUNNING SOFTWARE
oug Oglesby, CEO of Technology Deployment Company, has cut his teeth working with top industry leaders like IBM. He has fruitfully managed a wide variety of complex, multi-million dollar technology and connectivity rollout projects for heavyweights, including WalMart, Kmart, Sears, Verizon, Beverly Enterprises, LaQuinta & Suites and Radio Shack. Oglesby acknowledges that successful technology deployment requires a team of individuals who have carefully crafted logistical skills and geographical knowledge to ensure the right programs are in the right place at the time. That’s where Technology Deployment Company (TDC) has been excelling since 2009. Founded by Doug Oglesby, the Tulsa, OK based company, “Has steadily grown thanks to our accomplished, loyal and experienced team. I simply hire people much smarter than myself. Plus a superior service is sec-
ond to none.” TDC will provide a company with solutions for things like digital signage, in-store results, music on hold messaging systems, structured cabling systems, wireless networks, sound masking systems, background music systems, and equipment staging, integration and consolidation. Whether a rollout is local, regional or national, TDC assigns a team of experienced technicians who are dedicated to the project from start to finish. This ensures consistent quality, continuity and adherence to a deployment schedule. “We provide the most value to clients thanks to our rapid and reliable deployment techniques. Our clients are from all over the United States and include regional and national chain operators such as retail clothing stores, fast food restaurants and auto dealerships. We just completed the deployment of mobile video surveillance on school buses, “Oglesby said. New and cutting-edge services continue to attract new customers, while also keep existing customers. Services encompass technology installation and upgrades, hardware and software migration, moves, add-ons and changes. TDC is adept at preventing any unnecessary disruptions that may hinder productivity. The company finds the best approach for deployment by evaluating factors such as onsite versus remote, or during workdays versus off hours and weekends. The company is off to a great start in 2013. Business began picking up in earnest in mid-2012, and the trend has continued. “We have been experiencing a lot more activity. As the economic recovery gained steam, more and more companies have been upgrading and installing new solutions,” Oglesby explained. People are at the heart of every successful business initiative. TDC has the right people and the heart to get any job done. www.techdeployco.com
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by diane alter
Cleaning-up in the
Washroom Industry Why Clean Restrooms Are Important to Business
esponding to the growing need for upto-date and top quality washroom products, Newton Distributing Company, Inc. found its niche. Run by Lance LaFave, an engineer by trade who took over the business founded by his wife Cathy, the company sells a cache of restroom items that include hand dryers, lavatory faucets, automatic flush valves, baby changing stations, waterless urinals, washroom accessories and toilet partitions. Newton also offers the “bathroom in a box,” a unique, complete restroom package that provides a one-stop shopping experience. The importance of a clean restroom in a business cannot be overemphasized. Customers who visit a store, building or business and encounter a dirty bathroom are always turned-off. Clean washroom facilities are a reflection of a company’s attention to customer satisfaction and safety. A sullied bathroom can cause not just illness and injury, but THE SUIT MAGAZINE - APRIL / MAY 2013
also loss of business and a soiled reputation. While washrooms are not profit centers (few businesses charge for their use), facilities are kept clean because smart business owners recognize it’s the little details that matter a lot--especially to women. According to the American Restroom Association, women frequent a restroom twice as often as men. Those with a baby frequent even more. Some women are extremely sensitive when it comes to the cleanliness and supplies they use in a restroom. If a women’s restroom is not up to her standards, it’s very likely she will never again come back to that place of business. Businesses need to keep women customers appeased. A study from Time magazine reveals women control 85% of discretionary dollars spent in the United States. Plus, they often tag along while their significant other shops for “manly” items. While men also like clean surroundings, the alpha male syndrome often keeps them from responding to less than sanitary washroom condi-
DISTRIBUTING COMPANY Newton Warehouse
Baby Changing Stations
XLERATOR Hand Dryers
tions. Indeed, a business won’t end because of a dirty restroom, but unclean facilities show people that an owner has a lack of standards and attention to detail which reflects poorly on an owner and business. “We don’t just sell bathroom items. We are problem solvers.” LaFave explained. “If a customer comes to us with concerns over rising maintenance costs, paper prices and/or water consumption, we find a workable and affordable solution. We also promote high performance ‘green’ products. Environmentally friendly products make sense for everyone,” he added. The company also buys American-made products whenever possible. Among best sellers are Newton’s energy-efficient electric hand dryers; most notably, the XLERATOR model manufactured by Excel Dryer. Fast drying hand dryers represent a 95 percent cost savings compared to paper towels. They eliminate associated labor costs that arise from ordering, loading and refilling dispensers. Electric hand dryers also prevent deforestation and use less energy when everything is taken into account. Just 10 to 15 seconds the XLERATOR is all it takes to completely dry your hands. The electric hand dryer movement, once written off as not viable because they took too long, has paper heavyweights like Kimberly Clark and Georgia Pacific taking notice, LaFave noted. Every year around flu season, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stresses the importance of good hand hygiene. It’s not only important to correctly wash hands, it’s imperative to dry hand properly. That’s because some bacteria linger on hands after washing. These bacteria are more easily
spread via wet hands than dry ones. Newton’s quick drying hand dryers, which now include HEPA filtration and produce 99.97% pure air, are the perfect solution. A return of consumer confidence following the 2007-2009 Great Recession has LaFave excited about the future. “We are finding retailers more optimistic. They are willing to spend on their interior as business traffic picks up. Our phones are ringing more and customers who were reluctant to invest in new products over the last few years are coming back to us,” LaFave said. While LaFave admits discussions about bathroom renovations are not exciting to most people, Newton tries to “add some sophistication and interest” to the otherwise ordinary market sector. “We get it; it’s not that glamorous to discuss bathroom fixtures. However we incorporate cost savings, design and user experience. Those factors are important.” As Newton moves forward, the aim is to not be known as simply a supply provider that sells “stuff.” Newton’s mission is to be acknowledged as a solution provider that deeply understands its products and offers competitive pricing. Exciting times lie ahead for Newton and the general public. Later this year, Newton will debut a new innovative hand washing solution that will take the commercial restroom experience to a whole new level of design and performance. Newton Distributing Company, Inc. P.O. Box 650159 966 Watertown Street Newton, MA 02465 www.newtondistributing.com Phone: 877-837-7745 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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by diane alter
Always Start With A Solid Foundation Building a Name from the Bottom Up
onstruction Project Management is the articulate art of orchestrating, coordinating, budgeting and controlling all the needed forces for the proficient process and successful completion of a building project. Starting with nothing more than a vacant, raw piece of land, finished projects run the gamut from modest homes to towering skyscrapers. Anna Burns, a towering figure in the field of Construction Project Management, is the owner and founder of The Brookwater Group, a Wisconsin based boutique firm created in 2008. The company specializes in complete project planning and execution. Adept at assembling a virtual factory for any construction project, contending with a plethora of local, state and federal regulations, and coordinated skilled craftspeople, architects, engineers, planners and consultants, Burns and her team control a project from conception to completion, always adhering to clients’ requirement. Daunting tasks include determining the best way to get materials to a building site, the most cost effective plan and a viable schedule for completing the project. Through logical and well thought out steps that come only with extensive education and experience, Burns budgets all details required to meet established deadlines. “Timing is always crucial in this industry. When a project is given the go-ahead, we often have to move quickly. Financing has to be set up and interest rates for construction fluctuate frequently. Since the financial crisis, financing requirements have become very stringent. Capital is out there, but it takes some creative networking. It kind of a “Shark Tank” like process,” Burns explained. Setting Brookwater apart is the firm’s strict attention to every detail and customer hand-holding. “We help customers build the THE SUIT MAGAZINE - APRIL / MAY 2013
building that really work for their occupants and that they love every day for the little things,” Burns added. As the U.S. economy shows signs of life, economists say the construction industry is gearing up for a renewed awakening, a trend that is destined to keep Brookwater busy in the years ahead. According to the Wall Street Journal, nonresidential construction is particularly robust. March data shows building permits up 7.5% from the prior month and up 4% in the first quarter over Q1 of 2012. But Burns was happy to share that Brookwater endured the housing bust unscathed. “We’re still here,” she said. Looking ahead, goals are to build the firm’s already impressive network, become more inventive and create fresh projects. Founded on the principles of trust, integrity and respect, Brookwater continues to deliver the highest quality products and services from nails to bulldozers to beautiful buildings. - Project execution and fulfillment assurance - Established local relationship connections - Finite and measurable savings in true value generation - Patient project solution exploration possibilities
by maria esposito
Using Technology to Create Opportunities Rich Media Platform: Provides Rich Media Ads
n the latest of its reports on American journalism released in March of this year, the Pew Research Center noted that local digital advertising appears to be out of the reach of the news industry. This vital revenue stream grew 22 percent in 2012, and according to the Pew study, that money went to Google and Facebook because they have been able to appeal to local advertisers and coax their advertising dollars away from local media. The Pew Center went on to predict that news organizations will no longer be in a position to claim their traditional share of this money. Don’t tell that to Zeke Solimeno, President of DPS Inc., whose company provides advertising solutions to the newspaper industry. Where others see the trees, Solimeno sees the forest. As he describes it, his company “leap frogged into a position” in which they can offer their customers online advertising solutions all because Solimeno had the vision to partner with one of their customers with a need for a digital advertising solution. In fact, partnering with his customer base to create solutions is a hallmark of Solimeno’s business. He sees it as integral to creating workable solutions because who knows better than the customer. “We stand out from the rest, I think, because we partner with our customer base. We see it as free marketing from the standpoint that who is in a better position to know what’s required than the customers in front of you,” he added, “So, we’ve partnered with most of our bigger customers
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and produced solutions that have worked for all of the customers in the publishing industry.” Envisioning opportunities where others see challenges is another reason why Solimeno stands out from his competitors. Using cloud technology may present some obstacles, but Solimeno believes that the opportunities it opens up far out way the challenges. The cloud lets newspapers keep capital that they would have traditionally spent. “It’s allowed newspapers to step into a zero capital expenditure option. That option has not existed to date. Normally they would purchase gear, they would purchase hardware, servers, and they would buy software from vendors like ourselves,” he argues. In this model, there is no capital expenditure because the vendor, DPS in this case, is running their systems out of a data center in the cloud.” In terms of savings for Solimeno’s newspaper customers, there’s a significantly lower cost per ad solution because resources are shared by multiple newspapers. It also gives very small newspapers a chance to play with the big boys because they no longer need the funds to purchase any hardware or software. Solimeno’s vision isn’t limited to present needs. He’s got his finger on the pulse of the opportunities that the integration of mobile, social and local will yield, “We have just recently finished a large
development project with one of our larger customers for moving from print to online. Obviously we all know about the problems of the newspaper industry and what’s happened with print advertising and what’s happening with online revenue,” he explains. “We’ve moved into helping them from two aspects. One, providing them with a rich media platform for providing rich media ads to distribute to these tablet devices; but also in the area of automation in the fulfillment area.” that means Solimeno’s customer will be sending and tracking their ads to Google and Yahoo quicker, more reliably, and most importantly more cost effectively than with the manual fulfillment techniques of the past. Solimeno knows that the technology is the ticket, so he’s keeping one eye on the present and one on the future. www.dpsadtracker.com
by maria esposito
Making a BRAND
company’s brand strength is based on much more than the products it sells. According to a recent poll conducted by the PR firm APCO, among approximately 10,000 consumers from 15 markets around the world, 77% of those who responded believe that today, businesses have a bigger impact on the lives of individuals than they did a decade ago. This also means that corporations are becoming increasingly more accountable to consumers for their practices and policies – at least as evidenced by the 25% of those surveyed who strongly agreed with the idea that it is just as important to know how a company operates as it is to know what it sells. The concept of branding as being far more encompassing than mere product association is no stranger to Jim Gregory, founder of CoreBrand. As brand strategists, creating, enhancing and putting brands to work is CoreBrand’s business. His Fortune 100 clients
are the beneficiaries of Gregory’s own analysis of what makes a brand work. As he puts it, “We really created a business that was focused on the idea of understanding how corporate brands work and how do they create value for the company.” These have been the guiding principles of CoreBrand since its inception forty years ago. Gregory also grew to understand that branding is an evolutionary process. By researching and measuring 1000 successfully branded companies and using them as models, Gregory soon realized that, “Brands aren’t built by communication alone.” In fact, he found that brand development occurs by aligning your brand strategy across three tiers of business: (1) How the business processes are organized and run; (2) How the culture is developed and nurtured; and (3) Internal and external communication. These three tiers are the lenses through which a company can be viewed, but as Gregory notes, the view isn’t the same for everyone, “Every key
constituency – whether you’re an employee, whether you’re a customer, or whether you’re an investor – will look at the brand through those three lenses, but they will look at them only through their own perspective.” For instance, customers will look at product quality and level of service, while employees will be using these lenses to judge if the company values them and can communicate that. According to Gregory, if a company uses the three tiers correctly, it can create “familiarity and favorability,” for itself. Building familiarity isn’t just about spreading the name of a company, but about making sure audiences understand the full breadth of what a business offers. Nurturing favorability means focusing on improving perception and reputation. When you grow familiarity and favorability, you build brand power by growing the size and quality of your brand. And CoreBrand’s research proves that can translate into a powerful bottom line. www.corebrand.com
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Promoting Excellence in the SPI:
esponsible for a large portion of today’s economy, the plastics industry has secured its place as the third largest manufacturing industry in the United States. Chances are if you are using a product it
contains plastic. Harnessing the power of this demand, Dr. David Raia, Principal of Raia and Associates, offers clients his superior skills in the sector. “We look at ourselves as a technical resource for people and even products that we don’t sell,” he said. For Raia, entering the plastics industry was a natural choice. Atop of 3 degrees in plastics engineering, Raia also boasts years of experience in research, product design, sales, manufacturing, and chemistry. Since the firm’s 1997 inception, Raia and Associates has focused on proprietorship and R&D. But when the economy was gasping for air in 2010, the company’s sales plummeted. This required Raia to brainstorm and implement affective change that would allow his company and customers to keep afloat in the market’s dangerous waters. “We wanted to be one of the best technical plastics manufacturing sales representatives
By David Gordon
in the North-East,” Raia told The Suit. “I took a very close look as to what specifically we were doing in terms of marketing, sales, and our approach to customers and (asking) was that model necessarily fitting with what we needed to do.” The answer, Raia admits, was no and change was in order. Subsequently, Raia and Associates refocused the scope of their company to preforming sales and providing more advanced sales services including useful literature, better internet-based tech support, and other first-class industry resources to the public. With adaptation comes opportunity and Raia and Associates’s new image is maneuvering them through today’s economic environment. Servicing the Greater New England area and as far as Idaho, Raia and his team are focused on providing quality technical services to an ever-growing demographic.
NOT YOUR AVERAGE BUSINESS COACH e became a business coach at a improvement to identify aspects of organizational im-
time when the market was saturated with business coaches. Since then, many of those coaches have come and gone. But Michael Caines, president of Marietta Business Coach based in Marietta, GA is thriving – and he is redefining the delivery model of the traditional
coach. Prior to becoming a Certified Business Coach, Caines enjoyed a successful 30-year corporate career. As one well established in process improvement and experienced in mentoring junior staff, he knew he could utilize this extensive background, expertise and knowledge to give small business owners access to the kind of business information and training that is normally unavailable to them. Caines started out as most coaches do – by mentoring CPA’s, dentists, chiropractors and other professionals on accountability, objectives and goal-setting. While he continues to serve these valued clients, he also introduced business improvement models that netted a more “eclectic” client base. “I have small entrepreneurs, small municipal government units and mid-size companies doing up to $100 million annually,” Caines related. Moving beyond the one-to-one conversations with owners and managers about setting their own personal goals, in one model, Caines leads them toward process THE SUIT MAGAZINE - APRIL / MAY 2013
provement that mesh with and move these goals forward. He explained, “It’s a move to a more holistic general business improvement atmosphere in which we look at both management and accountability, as well as business improvement for cost reduction and profitability.” Building customized teams through partnerships is another model that Caines uses and it is one that is an important part of the unique value Marietta Business Coach can provide. “I look for opportunities to partner with outside consultants such as marketing professionals, writers, tax specialists and others who have skills that I don’t have,” he said. “One of my partners recently found a $120,000 tax credit for a client. When we started to look at that, it was a big deal.” Those managers truly interested in making a difference are the best candidates for Marietta Business Coach. They have to commit to the process in addition to being open to making changes in the way they do business and the way they operate. “They need to be people who are willing to listen,” said Caines, “And sometimes hear that they are not right all the time.”
by maria esposito
The Joy of Having a Pet IS BIG BUSINESS
magine converting a canvass baby stroller into a dual-bird-stroller, or transforming a nylon backpack into a doggy pack---or better yet, creating a parrot carry-on for traveling on a long journey by plane. Angie Yeung, President of Celltei, had that vision in 2000 when she formed The Design House for Pets. As her vision grew so did her business. And it went from simply contracting a product to an overseas manufacturer to a U.S. manufacturing company in which everything from design to production is done under one roof. Having a pet certainly has a number of benefits. In fact, Yeung acknowledges that pets have a calming influence on pet owners. Clearly the word is catching on. According to a survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association revealed 68 percent of all households in this country had at least one pet in 2012. Pet owners would spend over $55 billion in 2013, a four percent jump over 2012. However, this kind of success was not without its challenges. Yeung was probably her own biggest stumbling block because her career background was in the finance industry. Before starting Celltei, she was a Vice President of a credit rating agency, a far cry from the world of pets. She still remembers how not having industry knowledge caused her to make some major rookie mistakes. “Having that kind of background did not help me at all. I still remember at the beginning wasting so much money, including engaging a professional photographer to just take one product snapshot,” Yeung said. Being a manufacturer is another area that comes with its own set of obstacles, “Making a product is
not like selling a service,” Yeung explained. “It involves many aspects from material quality, how it’s being made, and the perceived balance of aesthetics and functionality. It’s a lot of steps” Execution is another major factor in the success of a design as Yeung was quick to point out. In New York where she is based, there are a host of creative people, but yet very few products actually go from the drawing board to the retail shelf. Taking a product from concept to the hands of the consumer makes all the difference in a company’s sustainability. Considering the high cost of manufacturing in the US, it is necessary to merge goals with the realities of maintaining a business that can continue to thrive. Yeung sees it as a balancing act between being a provider of custom pet products and having certain stock products for wholesalers that can purchase in quantity for steady production runs. This stability is very important not only in providing the financial backbone for the business but also for building and maintaining a team of skilled employees. Celltei offers the most number of sizes and designs of pet travel carriers in the market. Two of its designs were granted U.S. patents and the company has won numerous top design awards in the pet and travel industry.
Bird Backpack for two
For a complete list of products, we encourage readers to visit:
www.celltei.com Toll free (US): 1-866-CELLTEI (235-5834) 128 Waterbury Street, Brooklyn, NY 11206, USA
THE SUIT MAGAZINE p.59
by maria esposito
Meeting New Demands by Letting Go of the Old WHERE SURVIVAL MEANS ADAPTING TO CHANGE
n a recent article in the “Wisconsin Law Journal,” Ed Poll, a law firm management consultant, commented that staying competitive in 2013 and in the coming years means adapting to change, also noting how, “getting the work, doing the work with the help of technology and getting paid for the work” are a law firm’s insurance of survival. Taras Wochok – name partner and owner of Taras M. Wochok & Associates, Ltd. – has already learned through experience how thriving in this new turbulence means becoming a lot more flexible on a number of levels. “We’ve had ups and downs in terms of the kinds of work we’ve done. We were at our peak in the late ‘80s, when we were doing a lot of work in the real estate market….representing a number of builders who would build specialized homes. Then unfortunately, when laws with regard to real estate transactions changed in the late ‘80s, they pretty much killed the small builder and left us holding the bag with probably a million dollars in fees we were never able to collect. That required cutting back, refocusing and starting up again.”
THE SUIT MAGAZINE - APRIL / MAY 2013
In determining what legal services to continue offering, Wochok learned to let clients’ needs for certain legal specialties be the driving force. That meant initially practicing more criminal, personal injury and some medical malpractice law. Eventually, he began representing a few high-profile individual clients like Chubby Checker and John DuPont. The firm continued evolving into areas like divorce, custody and adoption, while still maintaining a criminal practice. Recently, estates and trust have been added to Wochok & Associates’ roster of services. Choosing cases wisely has been another significant factor in the firm’s survival. “We don’t deny anyone an opportunity to review their case…. We take a look at each case on an individual basis. I review every single case that comes in. I look at whether or not there is an actual case, number one. Number two, does it have a better than 50-50 chance of success?” This very practical assessment methodology grew out of handling cases where the underlying objective was to change the law. After learning through experience that “butting
heads with the law” takes time and energy, but gives little back in the way of profit, Wochok considers each case more critically before deciding what the firm can accept. Obstacles to maintaining a successful practice have also come from within the law itself. Changes to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure regarding the handling of electronically stored data have made even email and voice mail discoverable in litigation. Wochok agrees with these changes in principle, but draws the line when electronic communications are not relevant to the issue under consideration. He asserts, “What I would like to see is – I would like to see some form of interim procedure where there would be more control in terms of what any litigant would be allowed to seek in the form of discovery, because there is a lot of money and time wasted in that process over materials that have zero relevance to the proceedings.” After successfully coming through these volatile changes together, Wochok believes intensely in the strength of his team to overcome. In fact, he is so convinced of his team’s abilities, that he doesn’t normally outsource. On those rare occasions when it becomes necessary, Wochok only uses former employees or people with whom he has been associated on other cases. In that way, he maintains and assures the high quality of services that Taras M. Wochok & Associates continues to provide.
13 Paoli Court Paoli PA 193011403 U.S.A. P: 610-296-9900 www.wochoklaw.com
by maria esposito
Going it Alone South Florida
an a solo lawyer compete with the big law firms? One Florida lawyer has been doing it successfully for nearly 40 years. “I really don’t pay any attention to how big the opposition is – it’s the quality of work that counts,” says M. Ross Shulmister, a Pompano Beach, Florida, attorney. “In the 90’s I was with a political group that jumped through all the hoops to get our City’s mayor elected by the voters (it was an appointed position), but the City refused to put the measure on the ballot. In the three lawsuits and four appeals that resulted, all alone I faced two major law firms plus a local lawyer. It took about ten years but our mayor is now elected by the people. Big law firms do not guarantee success. Good lawyering does.” Shulmister has a bit unusual background, with an engineering and a law degree, and he is a retired USAF LtCol. In the Air Force he flew single-seat fighters, which required him to single-handedly manage all the systems of two different complex airplanes. “It’s not an awful lot different being a solo attorney,” he said. “If you don’t know an answer, you don’t ask someone else – you investigate and research and find out for yourself. You alone are responsible for achieving success, and you do whatever you have to do to win.” But in law there are no guarantees. Early on he was a prosecutor, but some 20 years ago he found himself defending a young man on a 2nd degree murder charge. Another youth of Vietnamese descent was killed in a fight with a group of not-too-sober
teens. The media circus surrounding the murder trial resulted in the assumed guilt of nine young men. “It was a travesty because the truly responsible perpetrators got off with token sentences, while those who had been in trouble with the law were slammed, even though their involvement was minimal. On my appeal, one judge had a serious problem with the jury instructions given by the trial judge, but another appellate judge was obviously disinterested. “Do you realize how many of these cases we get?” the judge asked. “It was the night that the lights went out in Georgia – I mean, Florida,” Shulmister remarked sadly. His legal experience is far more diverse than you can expect to find in a big law firm attorney. Litigation has taken him from his primary fields of business, contract and construction law into such areas as probate litigation, real estate litigation, condominium law, appeals, and even election finance law. He is also an arbitrator (for 30 years) with the American Arbitration Assoc. “Some business people fear arbitration, because some arbitrators don’t follow the law, and it’s difficult to challenge an arbitrator’s award. But every attorney arbitrator I’ve ever met always follows the law, and frankly every arbitrator should. The few who don’t are usually laymen.” Many attorneys market themselves with social media and other online strategies, but he built his practice when Florida didn’t allow attorneys to advertise. So he prefers the old fashioned methods, when “One’s rep-
utation was based on word-of-mouth and referrals from other attorneys who respect your capabilities.” His advice to businessmen looking for a lawyer? “Big law firms have big overhead, and lots of associates (younger attorneys) who need to generate lots of billable hours. Unless you’re ready to spend big bucks, you aren’t getting a top gun partner. But it doesn’t matter if you’re looking for a firm or for a solo – find out the attorney’s education, experience, and what his peers think of him. You can get a lot of that from Martindale-Hubbell (Martindale.com), where attorneys rate each other. If a lawyer has an av rating, he’s good. A bv is good for less experienced attorneys, and even a cv for new attorneys.” And his rating? Do you even have to ask?
M. Ross Shulmister 590 SE 12 Street Pompano Beach, FL 33060 (954) 785-9600
THE SUIT MAGAZINE p.61
by maria esposito
report coauthored by the Center for the Study of the Legal Profession at the Georgetown University Law Center and Thomson Reuters Peer Monitor, revealed that law firm clients have had it with the billable hour. This hallmark of traditional legal representation continues to anger many clients. It makes dragging out legal work attractive to attorneys and keeps the client guessing as to what their final costs will be. Even big law firms are starting to acknowledge the inevitable march toward charging flat fees. Andrea Riccio, Managing Partner of Canadian-based Kre8tive Law Group, isn’t surprised by the report’s findings. Realizing the need to restructure fees when he started his firm, Riccio said, “I started Kre8tive Law Group in July 1997, basically because I was getting a lot of pushback from clients about hourly billing and the size of the invoices they were getting. . . . I figured there was a better model out there, so I took a shot at it and I’ve been with it ever since.” Focusing on small- and medium-size businesses, Riccio carved out an important niche for his firm by representing home builders and land developers. His expertise with in the real estate sector led to another of the firm’s niche businesses – representing hospitality venues like restaurants, pubs and smaller hotels. Riccio doesn’t feel the need to confine Kre8tive Law to these areas, explaining, “Even though we focus on those two sectors, we generally accept most small- and medium-size businesses. A lot of Mom and Pop operations grow into those.” As a small law firm, Kre8tive Law is not intimidated by Canadian legal powerhouses like Norton Rose. Riccio said, “In reality, with technology and the Internet, it is possible for smaller businesses to operate
THE SUIT MAGAZINE - APRIL / MAY 2013
SMALL, But Making Great Changes
globally. That’s true of our clients and that’s also true of us. One of the things we did in May 2012, was to join three other firms – two in Europe and one in South America – to form the GFLS Legal Alliance. And we also have a business relationship with a business consultancy in Singapore. That gives us some breadth and opportunity to assist clients who want to go global, especially the small- and medium-size clients who may not be able to afford a Norton Rose.” Being ahead of the curve in terms of offering fixed fees is not the only way that Riccio outpaced the competition. His was one of the first Canadian law firms to offer a virtual law office platform. However, legal regulatory framework and ethical issues raised by the provincial law society made it difficult to operate such a virtual law office. Another obstacle encountered inadvertently in creating a virtual firm was caused by using an American company to create the platform. Canadians were reluctant to store their data on U.S. servers because of possible repercussions from the Patriot Act, which expanded the Secretary of the Trea-
sury’s ability to regulate foreign financial transactions. Riccio continues to push the envelope, finding new ways to make legal services more user-friendly and affordable. Kre8tive Law offers subscription packages in which clients pay a monthly or yearly fee for a customized set of services. The firm tries to limit the number of clients involved in litigation by making sure businesses are set up properly and proper legal documentation is in place. In addition, Kre8tive Law reduces costs by utilizing space effectively and by striving to become paperless. Riccio believes that offering quality service doesn’t necessarily mean a big price tag. His innovative ways of giving clients the same quality representation that the large firms offer is what have kept Kre8tive Law’s doors open when other firms have closed theirs.
Kre8tive Law Group www.kre8tivelaw.com
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