From the editor
Welcome to the new Cedar Valley Business T
he time has come for the Cedar Valley Business Monthly to turn a new page. As you will notice as you flip through this issue, the magazine has a sparkling new look. Cedar Valley Business Monthly, which The Courier has published as the region’s business-to-business forum for seven years, has been in a slow, steady process of evolution during. Its purJim Offner pose has never wavered: to provide a is the Courier platform through business entrepreeditor. Contact which neurs can offer him at jim.offner@ their own specialwcfcourier. ized insights on com. issues that affect them and others in the business community. Each year, the magazine has brought in new perspectives, from
experts on management, investment, personnel, community outreach and, most recently, social media. Over the years, the focus of Cedar Valley Business Monthly has sharpened. Contributors have continued to address a range of issues coming out of Washington, D.C.; Des Moines; Waterloo; and Cedar Falls — topics that affect each reader in different ways. The goal has been to provide the business community with a tool that can enhance entrepreneurs’ chances of success in navigating an increasingly treacherous environment. The magazine always has been content-driven, with local business leaders playing a major role in steering it along. Cover stories have attempted to tackle some of the fastest-moving trends that concern entrepreneurs, from health care and taxes to hiring and retirement plans, as well as emerging careers. Now, your monthly publication is taking on more of a maga-
zine-look, and content will play a key role in this new step. Submissions and cover stories will feature graphics, statistics and other useful tidbits available at a glance in a more user-friendly format. A slicker, magazine-type layout will provide a splashier, aesthetically pleasing showcase for columnists, as well as in-depth reports. The transition will not be instant. The change in formats has been a long-thoughtout process and involved months of planning and meetings with some of The Courier’s most creative minds. Editors and graphic artists traded ideas on numerous possible formats. Mock-up issues were designed and discussed in depth before a final format emerged. Readers will find bold, colorful packages, creative headlines and some of the best photography in any busi-
ness publication in the country. Of course, the heart of the publication — topical news stories and columns from regular contributors — will continue to be the chief drivers of Cedar Valley Business. Without compelling content, new packaging would be for naught. We feel readers of Cedar Valley Business will find the new format a major step forward. And we welcome your input.
Volume 7 No. 3
Cedar Valley Business Monthly is a free monthly publication direct-mailed to more than 6,500 area businesses. Contact us at (319) 291-1527 or P.O. Box 540, Waterloo, IA 50704.
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From the Cover Recycle Rite, a company owned by Brian Hoyer, left, is one of the success stories of the UNI Incubator. Hoyer is pictured here with employee Brady Feldman. page 4 University of Northern Iowa Resolutions to help your business thrive during 2013.
ON THE COVER Brian Hoyer and Brady Feldman of Recycle Rite. By Dawn J. Sagert, Cedar Valley Business. cvbusinessmonthly.com
Cedar Valley Business MONTHLY
DAWN J. SAGERT Cedar Valley Business Monthly
Recycle Rite owner Brian Hoyer, left, pauses in the driver’s seat while employee Brady Feldman prepares to move to the next stop in Cedar Falls.
Business startups nurtured by UNI incubators JIM OFFNER email@example.com
rian Hoyer admits his ambition is years ahead of his education. That doesn’t mean Hoyer, who has two years of college behind him, won’t finish a business administration degree. It’s all part of his plan. It’s just that Hoyer, of Cedar Falls, wants to get on with his dream to be an entrepreneur. With a bit of guidance from the Student Business Incubator at the University of Northern Iowa, he doesn’t have to wait. Hoyer’s company, Recycle Rite Inc., celebrated its second anniversary in January.
Recycle Rite is one of nearly a dozen startups operating out of the UNI student business incubator. UNI students and peers from other colleges are developing and executing their own business plans. UNI also runs a Small Business Development Center and an Innovation Incubator for nonstudents. Recycle Rite is touted as one of the latest success stories. “From year one to year two, we’ve definitely doubled our business,” Hoyer, 23, said. “I think we’ve increased revenues, like, 95 percent.” The company collects recyclable material from residential and business clients in Cedar Falls. Each
Cedar Valley Business monthly
customer gets a 50-gallon wheeled and lidded bin. The company, which has six employees, sends a truck by for regular pickups. The company’s client list includes Jiva Salon & Spa, Bike Tech, Humble Travel, Far Reach, Talk To Me Technologies and Cedar Falls Public Library, as well as a number of firms in the Cedar Falls Industrial Park, where the Recycle Rite recently moved into a new operational warehouse, Hoyer said. The company collects 20 tons of recyclables a month, Hoyer estimates. It sells the paper, plastic and other materials to City Carton Recycling in Waterloo, which sorts, bales and sells the waste.
Hoyer says he has gotten a lot of moral support. “A lot of people say you can’t do something, but I really haven’t had that,” he said. “Friends and family have been super-supportive and doing whatever they can to help out.” The company’s genesis in the business incubator played no small role in that, Hoyer said. The incubators guide startups through initial phases, including developing all-important business plans, said Katherine Cota-Uyar, associate director and instructor of entrepreneurship with the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center at UNI. cvbusinessmonthly.com
The are different schools of thought on how long and detailed a business plan needs to be. “Right now in the industry, there is a move towards doing shorter business plans — and I mean short business plans — like one page,” Cota-Uyar said. “Others say your max should be 10 pages.” Cota-Uyar believes in a traditional business plan that encompasses numerous areas, including management, marketing and finances. “The teacher in me would say as long as it needs to be,” she said. “From our experience of working with all the businesses we have here, what we usually see is 12 to 20 pages of written information, in addition to the financials.” A plan helps a business owner address potential issues before the doors open. Once the doors are open, new issues always come up. Those issues seem to multiply each year, said Dan Beenken, director of UNI’s Small Business Development Center and manager of the UNI Innovation Incubator. “Their biggest issue is what’s going on in the political realm,” Beenken said. “It’s about health care, the self-contracting work. It’s those things first. Then, it’s availability of capital.” Technology gives startups an edge over predecessors from 20 to 30 years ago, Cota-Uyar said. “Access to information is huge. I can find all kinds of market research and demographics and industry reports. Just being able to get that information that’s going to help support my decision-making is a lot faster, so the time to plan is a lot shorter.”
Making things easier
Incubators facilitate the process through the full-time presence of experts. Partnerships with different organizations promote startups. In the fiscal year that ended June 30, UNI’s student business incubator worked with 22 business owners with 12 employees, plus 41 incubator tenants. Programs at the Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center assisted 1,298 students. Taxes are always a concern. “Rates are going up, and people are concerned about depreciation changes,” Beenken said. “The folks we work with in the manufacturing space are worried about that, as is or anybody who’s buying heavy equipment.” In many ways, it’s a better time cvbusinessmonthly.com
to start a business than in the past, Beenken said. The JOBS Act can give businesses access to capital that didn’t exist before. Still, access to capital can be tough. That enhances the value of programs like Dream Big Grow Here, which awards thousands of dollars to startup owners who make a convincing case to invest in their company. But Dream Big has other, less-tangible value, as well. “It’s a tool to help those of us in economic development fields get to know them, and it’s an incredible tool to get these folks awareness,” Beenken said.
Startups have an edge on established businesses in one respect. Innovation can stall at bigger businesses, whose success has them resting on their laurels. “I think a startup is still in that incredible change phase where every day the product is being innovated on and the idea being worked on.” A number of firms have come out of the Innovation Incubator, including software company Far Reach, Web developer Brownstone Marketing and architecture firm TurnKey Associates LLC. Jason Evans, CEO of Brownstone Marketing, said the incubator was ideal ground from which to grow his original business, Auto Credit Online. It eventually branched into six companies, of which Brownstone is one. “The biggest advantage for us was the ability to afford to go somewhere to work,” Evans said. TurnKey Associates partners Scott Voitt and Ross Schoonover worked out of the incubator for seven years before moving to 3015 Greyhound Drive in Waterloo two years ago. Schoonover said the incubator kept overhead low, helping the company become profitable more quickly. Cota-Uyar said startups share a trait: a commitment to a plan. “What sometimes happens is people will talk about doing a lot of things — we’d like to explore this or expand that way — but they never do anything about it,” she said. “They don’t research that market or talk to potential customers to see if they’d be interested in that particular service or product. The key to business is taking action. Otherwise, you’re just sitting around and talking.”
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Cedar Valley Business monthly
It’s resolution time for small business I
t’s resolution time. You don’t need to look any further than the Special K, Jenny Craig, and Weight Watchers commercials dominating television right now. Why fight the tide? I’m going to propose three resolutions for you to consider for your small business in 2013.
Recruit an adviser or board
A common mistake of business owners is their lack of understanding of what they don’t know. I can’t think of a single business owner who didn’t reach their success without some level of outside assistance. The best thing about an adviser is they are typically free of charge. You might have to buy them lunch, but the bang for your buck can be incredibly powerful for your business. Dan The outside viewpoints, experiBeenken ence, and contacts an adviser is director or advisory board bring are of the Small priceless. When most people Business think of an adviser or formal Development advisory board, they think of Center and the large companies with boards UNI Innovation of directors and assume they Incubator. Contact him at are too small to have something similar. While you may 273-4322. not have something nearly as formal, good advisers are a powerful tool for a small business. For a good read on using other viewpoints to challenge yourself, check out Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book “Team of Rivals.”
Be a connector
Networking is at the top of every business owner’s priority list. Too often though, we focus on growing our networks and taking from that network. I challenge you to focus 2013 on pouring energy back into your network by being a
connector for others. Find ways to connect the people you know, and I guarantee the energy you put forth will be paid back in spades.
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Make yourself ‘find-able’
Ignoring your Web presence is an option small businesses can no longer afford. If you have put this off due to cost or the complexities of technology, it’s time to get past that. The Internet isn’t going anywhere, and if you don’t have a presence, most consumers will never find you. Many assume that if you aren’t on the Web, you aren’t legitimate. There are numerous ways to have an online presence that are completely free and easy. Start there. Get yourself listed on all of the local directories out there — Google Places, Bing Local, Yahoo! Local, Yelp, Manta, Merchant Circle, etc. Start with those first four or five, as most of the online search traffic is done through those vehicles, anyway. My assumption is that you have a website. If not, make that priority number two. It no longer requires a $5,000 budget to have something out there that people can find online. The key word in that phrase is “find.” If you have your neighbor’s uncle’s barber’s poodle build your website “really cheap,” make sure they incorporate search engine optimization tactics into the design. A site that no one can find is like a beautiful brochure sitting under your counter — it’s worthless. There are also numerous do-it-yourself website building tools out there that even a basic computer user can handle. Check out moonfruit.com, weebly.com, Website By Tonight through godaddy.com or yola.com and spend a couple of hours experimenting. If you get through this list and need more ideas, give us a call at the Small Business Development Center at (319) 273-4322 and we’ll keep you busy until it’s time for the 2014 list.
Whether Saving Check out markets online for a Rainy Day... Here’s a brief list of some familiar stock exchange sites where you can follow the latest market developments or a Shiny ■ Chicago Mercantile Exchange: Spotlights commodity New Car, futures and options data, as well as educational insights. Peoples Savings Bank
he t d
■ Hong Kong Stock Exchange: Provides latest market updates, research and statistical reports. www.hkex.com. hk/eng/index.htm ■ London Stock Exchange: Tracks daily activity on world indices and international markets. www.hkex.com.hk/eng/ index.htm ■ NASDAQ: Contains market activity, news and investing insights. www.nasdaq.com ■ New York Stock Exchange: Offers trading listings, market data and educational info for investors. nyse.nyx.com
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is the president and CEO of Lincoln Savings Bank. ■ What’s a hobby of yours? In 1979, I began to collect Hot Wheels in earnest, going to toy car shows. ■ What’s a favorite car you’ve collected? My favorite all-time Hot Wheel casting is called the A-OK, a 1929 Model A Ford Delivery rodded out. My purple 1970 Hot Wheels Olds 442 would probably be of more interest, as there are fewer than 10 of these known to exist in the hands of serious collectors. The last documented sale occurred about five years ago for $12,750. ■ What’s your favorite real car? That would have to be a Corvette! I have owned one now for nearly five years and consider it therapeutic to drive.
Cedar Valley alliance & chamber
Creating the place to start a business
he Cedar Valley economic area thrives on successful businesses that began one day when an owner said, “I can do that better.” Some of these former startups are still identified with that owner — while others have grown into international business powers. All over the Cedar Valley there are examples of people who are passionate about something, who deterSteve Dust mined no one can do it better than is CEO of the Greater Cedar they and opened a Valley Alliance business to prove & Chamber. it. People like the Bertch family, the Far Reach Technologies partners or Van Miller’s growing-every-dayinto-something-different VGM, the CBE Group or Mudd Advertising. As their business grew, each discovered the value of our government relations, information, education and networking resources,
the market growth spurred by ongoing promotion and all the other things your professional team does to make the Cedar Valley a vibrant place for business startup and growth. An observer of business startup and growth trends in the U.S., Brad Feld, recently wrote “Startup Communities – Building an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Your City.” Based on decades of starting businesses venture capitalism, and now known for his highly successful Foundry Group in Boulder, Colo., Feld eloquently writes about the role of organizations like the Alliance & Chamber in creating and sustaining that entrepreneurial ecosystem mentioned in the title. The best role the Alliance & Chamber can play to foster a robust community that encourages a faster rate of business startups and attracts more people with the desire to take the entrepreneurial plunge is as a cheerleader and feeder. In other words, support. ■ Work on economic vitality — grow the market. Create a place
where startups have the best chance of success: work on infrastructure and amenities to create a vibrant, economic base ■ Make connections — directly, to new sales or service opportunities, or indirectly with exposure to customers and vendors and service providers through networking events, and to other feeder organizations, like the University of Northern Iowa’s Center for Business Services and SCORE. ■ Inform them with inexpensive access to quality service providers in educational sessions on topics of interest to new businesses — health care reform, social media tools and the like — delivering info business owners use to increase results and avoid pitfalls. ■ Work with local and state government to keep them out of the way of business startup and success. Government can get in the way of startups and growing businesses through the increased cost of complying with or being constrained by this rule or that policy/ ordinance/statute.
■ Be the gathering place for startup community leaders. Those leaders must be people who have recently started their own businesses. As busy as they are, other owners of startup businesses are the best to relate to and offer actionable advice on the startup experience. The Alliance & Chamber is the platform — the roost — for emerging entrepreneurs to gather and share their experiences. It’s also great feedback for the Alliance & Chamber to build its Cedar Valley Start Up action agenda. Believe me, there is a lot of competition among communities for business startup activity. We, and they, understand the economic power of startups, and the culture it engenders for addressing social as well as economic issues. The Alliance & Chamber is motivated and equipped and working to ensure that the Cedar Valley economic area is an attractive place to take that giant step — the one taken by every person who has ever uttered the words, “I’m starting a business.”
This is my Wartburg story.
I have always been passionate about playing. As a teenager, I was involved in everything I could pack into my schedule — music, choir, church, sports, 4-H, farming, musicals, student government. Wartburg students differ from others because of their involvement. They don’t just come here to be students – they come here to be involved students. Wartburg challenged me as a student, a student-athlete and now as a professional. It molded me into the person I am today. — Heather Zajicek ’04 Assistant Director of Aquatics, Wartburg College
Leadership. Service. Faith. Learning. ��� �������� ������ �������� ���� � ����������������
View more stories and share your own at www.wartburg.edu/ourstory
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Reverse mortgages can be complicated A
reverse mortgage is a special type of home equity loan that allows a homeowner to convert home equity into cash, either through a lump sum or through monthly payments. The amount you can borrow depends on several factors, including how much your home is worth, current interest rates, the age of the homeowner or homeowners and the terms of the loan. Depending on the product, a reverse mortgage may provide you with cash to supplement your retirement income. It can also help you with expenses Tom such as home improvements Miller and health care costs. But it can is attorney also be complicated, confusing general for Iowa. Contact and costly. Under a reverse mortgage, him at (515) 281-6699. you still own the home and the bank pays you instead of you making monthly payments to the bank. The loan does not generally have to be repaid until the last surviving owner moves out, sells or dies. At that time, the lender will sell the home to pay off the reverse mortgage. Types of reverse mortgages ■ Home equity conversion mortgage — This is a reverse mortgage that’s insured by the Federal Housing Administration. The homeowner must be at least 62 and live in the home. The homeowner must own the home outright, or have a low mortgage balance that can be paid off at closing time with proceeds from the reverse loan. ■ Proprietary reverse mortgage — This is a private loan backed by commercial institutions, such as a bank, a mortgage company or other private lender. It’s generally more expensive than other types of reverse mortgages or traditional home loans. ■ Single purpose reverse mortgage — This type of loan may be offered by a state or local government or a non-profit agency. The loan
may be restricted to specific types of home repairs, home improvements or paying property taxes. This is generally the least expensive of the three types of reverse mortgages. If someone is inheriting your home, they must repay the loan in order to take possession. If the amount owed is equal to the home’s value, your heirs would not inherit the home as it would revert to the lender. Also, with lump sum payments, the interest charges are added each month. Over time the total debt owed can far surpass the original loan. However, most mortgages have a “nonrecourse” clause that prevents you or your estate from owing more than the value of your home when the loan becomes due, though if your heirs want to retain ownership, they generally must repay the loan in full, even if the total is more than the home’s value. Understand your options. Know the benefits, costs and terms before entering into a reverse mortgage agreement. A reverse mortgage may not be your best option if you need a small amount of money for a limited time. It is important to get good advice, look at your options and comparison shop. Always consider consulting with a lawyer or financial adviser. Some agents may try to aggressively sell you a reverse mortgage. Beware of high-pressure sales tactics, so-called “educational seminars,” sales pitches that instill fear about nursing home finances and sales pitches tied to other investments. Be wary of “mortgage consultants” who push for renovations or specific contractors. Before applying for a home equity conversion mortgage, federal law requires that the borrower must meet with an independent government-approved housing counseling agency (information at www.HUD.gov). A private lender may also require counseling. You have the right to cancel within three business days after closing the loan. You must cancel in writing. Send the letter by certified mail, and ask for a return receipt. Keep copies of all documents and letters. And be sure to contact the Consumer Protection Division immediately if you think you’ve been scammed.
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A variety of federal tax deductions can help an entrepreneur maintain and grow a home-based business. But the rules governing home-based business deductions aren’t always easy to understand, and require good record keeping. If you own and operate a home business, it would pay to learn all you can about home-based business tax deductions. Here are a few places on the Web with useful information:
■ FINANCIAL WEB : www.finweb.com/taxes/tax-tips-forhome-based-business-owners.html. Spotlights tax tips for home office and links to IRS forms.
■ COMPLETETAX.COM: www.completetax.com/ taxguide/text/c60s15d370.asp. Covers range of home office deduction topics, including qualifying for the deduction and home office depreciations.
■ INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE: www.irs.gov/ Businesses/Small-Businesses-&-Self-Employed/Home-OfficeDeduction. Provides overview of rules and requirements for home office deductions.
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■ Investopedia: www.investopedia.com/articles/ pf/08/home-office-tax-deduction.asp Serves up criteria for qualifying home-office tax deductions.
Learning from Steve Jobs David Braton publisher, The Courier It seems everything Steve Jobs did became a sensation. That seemed to be true when his biography was released in November 2011 shortly after this icon’s death. I, like many, read the book to get a hint of understanding of this complex individual and the inner workings of Apple. Little did I know the book would also serve as a book on leadership, vision and passion. The object of this new book column in Cedar Valley Business is not to serve as a typical book review but to share what local business leaders take away from their readings. In upcoming issues we’ll have community leaders share what they are reading, what they learned or what principles they applied from their reading experience. Since Steve Jobs was Amazon’s bestselling book in 2011, it is not a bad book to start with. Isaacson had full access to Jobs, his friends, family and even enemies. It seems you either loved or hated the man. But there is no question almost everyone loves the products he created. Today the iPod, iPad and iPhone lead in sales of their respective niches. The book examines his start, his rise to fame, his failures, his products and his personality. Like anyone else, Steve Jobs had warts. The guy seemed to take credit for everything that crossed his desk and could chew and spit out spineless staffers better than anyone. It makes a reader sick how he treated co-workers and others. At the same time he was one of the most creative, detailed and imaginative individuals of our time. Many know the story of Jobs and Apple, but you might be interested in what I learned from his story. Having read the book months ago, I’ve had time to reflect on what I could take away from Mr. Jobs. First, I would hope I would never treat people like Jobs did. He was arrogant and downright nasty. Yet he was an inventor and a creative genius. Unfortunately, we got his wonderful devices at the expense of some very fine people. I had to remind myself this wasn’t a book on how to treat others but about Jobs and his baby, Apple. What I did learn was to believe in what you are doing. Jobs was a visionary. His communication style aside, he did tell people exactly what he wanted and inspected what he expected. He was honest when he didn’t like something and wouldn’t waste time on the subject of his disapproval. To be successful, you have to put 100 percent of your effort into it. Jobs lived and breathed Apple. He had a knack for understanding consumer behavior. He seemed to be a master of reading trends and understanding what people wanted. His goal for the iPhone was simple: His goal was to make it simple for David Braton to make a phone call, listen to music, take a picture, check the weather or send email or text on one handheld device. He accomplished that goal and made a lot — I mean a lot — of money along the way. What else did I learn? Not to stop at only one right idea and always, always look for ways to improve your product or service. I’ll leave you with one final thought: In business we sometimes make things too complicated. Steve Jobs points out the best lessen of all in business: Keep it simple.
Steve Jobs Author: Walter Isaacson Pages: 656 cvbusinessmonthly.com
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ith the start of a new year, many of you may be looking at your company’s social media strategy and wondering if you are doing enough. Let’s talk about three concepts that we will expand upon in future columns: think strategically about how you use social media, think about how to expand your presence on social media and think mobile with downloading social media apps to your smart phone or tablet. When you think strategiCherie cally about your Dargan social media use, is associate professor of you make decicommunications sions about reat Hawkeye sources, and look Community for ways to maxiCollege in mize web traffic Waterloo. to your compaContact her ny website. You at 296-4000, may also think ext. 1701, or about expanding cherie.dargan@ presence hawkeyecollege. your edu. on social media, and go beyond Facebook and Twitter: Consider creating an account on Pinterest and starting a microblog on Tumblr. Recognize that there are apps for every social media website, and you can use your smart phone or tablet to take pictures and create content that you can post from anywhere. Most companies still rightly think of Facebook when they think about social media. A recent survey done by Vertical Response, an online marketing firm, reveals that 90 percent of the 500 small businesses surveyed have a Facebook page and 70 percent are on Twitter. Approximately half of the businesses survey have embraced Google+, but not as many of them are on Pinterest. The survey also showed that 55 percent of companies are spending more time on social media than a year ago, that over half have a blog and the biggest task is creating content. However, even with
Quick references ■ Gahran, Amy. A Quick Guide to Tumblr. July 30, 2012. www. entrepreneur.com/article/224084 ■ Martin, James. Guide to Pinterest for small business. March 13, 2012. http://tinyurl.com/cysj3em ■ Needleman, Sarah. What’s a Facebook Follower Worth? Oct. 11, 2012. http://tinyurl.com/ch2o4qx ■ Tice, Carol. Small Businesses Don’t Have Time for Social Media -- and Don’t Track Results. October 31, 2012. http://tinyurl.com/d4u7h8u
increased budgets, not all of those small businesses are analyzing the results of their efforts — using software like Google Analytics or hiring companies to analyze the data. You can view an infographic that highlights other key facts from the survey at http://tinyurl.com/ d4u7h8u) So, how can you use this information? When you set up your company Facebook page, your strategy may have been simple: Get your small business noticed. You may have asked customers to “like” your page or assigned an employee to post updates regarding special events a few times a year. Now you want to take it to the next level, but do not have the budget or staffing to devote too many resources on something you may not fully understand. You are not alone, as the survey revealed. To design your strategy, consider your audience, your current social media use and your goals. What do you want to accomplish? My husband contributes to Facebook pages for several organizations and has discovered two strategies: First, post multiple times each cvbusinessmonthly.com
My husband wants to boost attendance at special events. For example, he posted an album with pictures of the Waterloo library’s new Lincoln exhibit and paid a modest fee of $7 to promote it with Waterloo residents on Facebook. Within one day, he got 28 or 29 shares, meaning that other users were posting the album on their walls — which meant their friends also saw it. Eventually he saw a 6,000 percent jump in people checking out the WPL Facebook page. He was impressed with the range of options for promoting posts: you can select an audience based on numerous factors, both geographic and demographic. Analyze your target audience and match them with the social media tool that best meets that profile. For example, do you target women in your marketing? Since almost 70 percent of its users are female, you need to be on Pinterest. In addition, Pinterest is a visual scrapbook and especially useful for companies that have a tangible product—such as cupcakes, flower arrangements, vintage clothing and menu items. To be effective on Pinterest, technology writer James Martin advises using descriptive tags to help others with similar interests find you. Name your board after your product lines or services. “Like” or repin when you find something you like on another board. And be sure to put your company’s URL in
your profile. Martin also says to post pictures on your own website first, and then pin those pictures on Pinterest to drive traffic back to your site. Another social media site that you might consider is Tumblr, which is both a microblogging tool — suitable for posting short chunks of text, pictures, web links and more — and a social media tool in that you can follow other people on Tumblr. If you do not already have a website or blog, Tumblr could be your answer. A big advantage of Tumblr over Facebook is that posts on Tumblr are included in search engine results. In addition, about half of users on Tumblr are 25 or younger. If you are targeting young people, it is a great fit. I was an early adopter of Tumblr, creating my account in 2008, and I met Tumblr’s vice president at a technology conference last year. I use Tumblr for my educational technology class, posting links to articles, infographics, and education resources. I post pictures and share insights about our iPad cart or other projects. It is highly customizable and template driven: chose your posts from several formats including text, photo, quote, web link, audio or video clip. For busy professionals without dedicated staff to maintain a blog, it works well. Pinterest and Tumblr both offer help for businesses and professionals alike: Look for it under the question mark on Tumblr and check under “about” on Pinterest. You can also set up both accounts to share your posts on Facebook or Twitter. You can also use your Facebook or Twitter credentials to log on to Pinterest. I will talk more about using social media to promote your company with social media apps, as well as the tools needed to analyze your effectiveness on social media, in future columns.
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Cedar Valley Business monthly
Marketing strategy should be important part of business plan
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ecember was National Write a Business Plan Month — so designated to encourage unhappy employees to become their own satisfied bosses. Whether your goal is to own your own business, become a consultant, a speaker or an author, you’ll need to start with a business plan. Even if you launched your business years ago, it’s important to revisit and refresh your plan. In recent years, the economy, technology and consumer habits have changed rapidly and dramatically, affecting every aspect of your business. That makes it absolutely vital to re-evaluate your short- and long-term strategies. One of the most critical elements of any business plan Marsha is your marketing strategy. Friedman Too often, people don’t think is CEO of EMSI Public Relations , through that all-important a 22-year veteran component with the same of the public rigor they tackle aspects relations industry. like projected cash flow and She can be long-term goals. reached at www. Or, they do put thought emsincorporated. and effort into planning for com. market research, promotion and positioning — and then never follow through on their great ideas. One problem is that most entrepreneurs (or professionals or authors) don’t have marketing experience. They may be skilled tradesmen, savvy financial advisers or talented writers — the expertise they plan to build their business around — but they’re not marketers. Some don’t realize that executing a solid marketing strategy is essential to any venture’s success; others know it’s important but don’t know where to begin. Here’s why it’s so important: You may have the book that changes the way business is done or the product that solves a problem for lots of consumers, but if no one knows about it, they can’t come looking for it. Marketing is the fundamental building block of any business; it’s what drives the business, so it can’t be an afterthought. The marketing component of your business plan should include a budget for time (if you’re going to tackle the job yourself) and/ or money. You need a timetable and a professional website that attracts visitors and makes it easy for them to learn more about you, your product, book or service — and equally easy to purchase what you’re selling. Here are some other points to consider as you’re developing your marketing plan: ■ What is my message? Your message needs to be more than “My product is great.”
Cedar Valley Business monthly
What’s the problem it solves? If you’re a professional, what’s the value you and your service offer? How are you different from your competition? ■ Who is my audience? Unless you have a niche product, consider your potential audience in terms of ever-expanding ripples. For instance, a collapsible coffeepot may be just the thing for a college student’s tiny dorm room. That’s your initial target audience. But his parents and grandparents, who are helping outfit that dorm room, might also be audiences. If they’ve downsized their living quarters, they might just want one for themselves, too. In fact, it could be great for campers, boaters — anyone living in a small space. ■ Which are the appropriate media outlets for a PR campaign? Social media is great for niche products because online forums build communities around common interests. Daytime TV talk shows tend to have audiences with lots of women. Most newspaper readers are now 55 or older. Once you have decided who your audience is, figure out what they’re watching, listening to, reading, and doing online, then customize your message for that medium and audience. ■ What’s your budget? When you’ve answered these questions, you should be able to determine how much marketing you can do yourself (if you’ll be doing any at all) and how much you’ll need help with. If you’re handling it yourself, budget for the time it will take to do things like keeping your website active with fresh blog posts once or twice a week; posting content on social media; developing pitches to get print, radio or TV interested. If you plan to pay a professional for marketing services, use your marketing plan to explore the costs and timetable, and budget accordingly. Whether you’re launching a dream or strengthening your existing business, you need to lay a good foundation with a solid plan. If marketing isn’t an important component of that plan, your rocket to the moon will likely fizzle and fade. cvbusinessmonthly.com
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Creating this proactive plan, prior to entering the daily battle, puts us in a position to make much wiser time management choices. But let’s be honest, the world doesn’t give a rip about our proactive plan. That caller wants 15 minutes of your time right now to explain why a listing in the Yellow Pages is the answer to your sales prayers. Covey explains that the demands for our time can be classified by two factors, importance and urgency. He places time demands in four different quadrants: ■ Quadrant I — Important and urgent (responding to a key customer’s complaint). ■ Quadrant II — Important but not urgent (creating a strategic plan). ■ Quadrant III — Not important but urgent (responding to a phone survey during election season). ■ Quadrant IV — Not important and not urgent (reading every email received). We want importance and not urgency to be the primary drivers in how we spend our time. But urgency possesses an alluring siren call, frequently suckering us to believe a demand is also important (Quadrant I) when it is really just urgent (Quadrant III). Covey’s research shows that top performing organizations spend a significantly higher percentage of time in Quadrants I and II, in the high importance region. As a leader, that’s where you need to be too.
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creating a plan that includes setting specific goals. Unfortunately, in life and in business we cannot simply do goals. Typically we can only complete activities which make a goal attainable … saving for retirement, practicing a musical instrument to reach a certain level of expertise, or training to finish a race in a specific time. By defining and prioritizing the detailed activities which most strongly support company goals — or personal goals in terms of our time away from work — we can determine how to make the most effective use of our available time. These top priorities therefore need to be scheduled with specific times carved out for them on our calendar. Covey lobbies for this exercise of identifying and scheduling the most important tasks (what he calls the “big rocks”) to become a weekly habit.
of Northeast Iowa Established in Waterloo/Cedar Falls in 1956
ith many of us today choosing to be connected 24/7 via mobile devices, the ability to prudently manage the barrage of inputs vying for our attention is key. This becomes ever more critical as the degree of personal discretion increases on how one spends time on the job. It’s considerably more important that a sales manager is skilled at prioritizing than an assembly line worker whose shift is essentially planned for them by the work arriving in their respective workstation. Thus, the epitome of a person requiring super time management and prioritization skills is the senior leader and especially the leader of a startup. It’s tough enough Rick raising capital for a startup, Brimeyer and there’s an infinite amount is the president of capital in the world. Try of Brimeyer borrowing time. We each get LLC, an 24 hours per day. Period. independent By definition, startup leadmanagement ers are faced with the time consulting firm located management perfect storm: in Ames. ■ An almost infinite list of Contact him activities they could work on at (515) 450to grow their business. 8855 or rick@ ■ A bulls-eye on their back brimeyerllc. in terms of others wanting a com. piece of their attention. For example, an army of salespersons demanding to extol the virtues of their product or service (each of which will no doubt practically ensure the success of their business) ■ Little guidance from others on personal time decisions (there no longer is a boss they can ask for advice; they are the boss). Fortunately, the late Stephen Covey left us with a treasure chest of principles for mastering our time, both at work and at home. While library shelves of books exist on how to get more done in a given amount of time (efficiency), Covey’s classic, “First Things First,” is devoted to selecting the most important things to accomplish (effectiveness). It’s must reading for anyone who has ever longed for the 25th hour in a day. Covey’s basic premise is that effectiveness trumps efficiency when it comes to time management. It’s ludicrous to spend time improving the efficiency of a task which doesn’t have to be done in the first place. Thus, the first step is to determine what has to be accomplished. So how does one determine and prioritize what is most important? It starts with
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espite the presence of profitable startups on the Silicon Prairie, the real test is proving your culture and ecosystem are just as equal — or superior — to those on the coasts. In many ways, young innovators have more opportunity here than in California. Attracting and retaining talent in Cedar Falls is no small feat — nor is it a new challenge. If you go to school here or are from the area, you typically leave after college. Wade Arnold At Banno, applicants had apis CEO and plied at tech titans like Twitter, founder of Facebook, Google and LinkedCedar FallsIn, but chose to stay in the based Banno, Cedar Valley. Like many area a provider entrepreneurs, we’ve built an of customenvironment where new hires branded are involved in big problemmobile solving right away. Providing applications, a culture where ideas from all websites and employees are quickly applied personalized payment to product and organizational card services challenges is crucial to keepto financial ing the best talent. Innovators institutions. want more than a to-do list or Contact him at Gantt chart. We find that the (877) 884-3327. most innovative talent wants to do just that; innovate. If we are going to retain the leading tal-
Cedar Valley Business monthly
ent that is leaving the area we must articulate how they can make an instant impact. Corralling talent is up to us, the startup, to prove that we have something special right here in the Cedar Valley. We must demonstrate how our culture and industries can hold their own. Knowing we all compete with larger organizations, a lot can be said for Friday afternoons when chances are you’ll find everyone (CEO included) drinking a beer and discussing company matters. Lucky for us, local startups have the resources to network with and attract up-andcoming talent. ■ TechBrew, hosted monthly by the Technology Associate of Iowa, does an amazing job in connecting area startups. TechBrew is one of the easiest ways to get in front of other likeminded founders and employees. If you can drink beer and introduce yourself, you have a golden chance of learning who’s hiring. It’s the quickest way to get familiar with the local startup scene. ■ BarCamp has held two events this last year. For $5 you receive a full day of “un-conferencing” that lets you interact with all the startups, designers, tech folks and even investors with local interests. ■ A handful of CEOs, including me, spend time as ment o r s . Banno a n d other companies like Far Reach have been around for a handful of years now (we’re celebrating numero cinco in March) and make an effort to mentor less seasoned startups, listening to new ideas and helping foster those ideas into action. Founders here are some of the most encouraging entrepreneurs around. The point is, you needn’t go to New York or San Francisco. Great startups live in the Cedar Valley. Local and national press have gotten behind our startup culture, enabling it to be more acceptable to say “I’m going to go work for a startup in Cedar Falls. They’re working on some really big problems, and I want to be a part of that. I want to help change an industry.” cvbusinessmonthly.com
Mistakes to avoid for new nonprofits S
tarting a nonprofit is challenging and can be complicated, according to Desiree Adaway of the Adaway Group. To start a nonprofit one needs a vision, fortitude, a clear mission and enough energy to carry out the work necessary to get it off the ground. Moving from one’s vision to a well-nourished nonprofit is a job for only the most organized individuals. Many wellintentioned people start organizations, but few make it happen without errors along the way. These mistakes ofAnne Nass ten cost them time, money, is supporters or donors. Many communications worthy programs fail because coordinator for they were not put together the Volunteer well. When failure takes place Center of Cedar it is the community and cliValley. Contact her at 272-2087. ents that bear the brunt. Having passion for your vision is not enough. These questions should be evaluated: ■ Is there a need for your organization in your community? Are other organizations doing the same job? Partnering can be a great way to learn lessons from others already doing the job. Do your clients really have a need? What do the statistics show? Do your research. Funders want to see data as you build your case. Once you have the data then ask: Is a nonprofit the best business structure for your idea? ■ It is harder to start a nonprofit than a busi-
ness. The process of incorporating and applying for tax-exempt status with the IRS involves a mountain of paperwork. It also requires a good attorney. Be realistic about what is involved and the time it will take to create a healthy organization. ■ Create a real board of directors — not one in name only. A board can make or break a new nonprofit. Board members should be individuals with resources, influence and contacts to move the mission forward. They should believe in the mission and join because they are passionate about it. They should be excited about sharing the mission with others and must be educated about their responsibility as a board member. They should be able to do the hard work, and including fundraising. They should be able to open doors, share skills and guide the executive director. Have a real strategy for board recruitment, development and governance. ■ How will you fund your organization? Many founders cannot anticipate what it will cost to start a nonprofit. Money and resources are needed before any clients can be served. Every nonprofit startup needs a funding plan. Will services will be available for a fee or for free? Plan how to finance the work — including your own salary. What about accounting? Without a realistic funding plan a nonprofit can’t sustain itself. Many nonprofits fail for of lack of planning. A nonprofit with a weak funding and development strategy may never succeed. Serving others is the highest calling, but to serve, one must be well-organized.
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Health, high-tech will be hot jobs in 2013 The Kansas City Star Looking for the hot jobs next year? Trend watchers say health care will continue to be the hottest sector, but that doesn’t mean you have to be a hands-on care giver. Options include working in health insurance, translation service, information technology, or support services, be they administrative, sales, janitorial or transportation. Tracey Wilen-Daugenti, managing director at the Apollo Research Institute, says health reform is driving job growth, but other industries expect growth, too. She picks: ■ EDUCATION: An explosion in online classes from brickand-mortar universities and distance-learning schools offers a gold mine of teaching options. Generally, master’s degrees are required for higher education, but Wilen-Daugenti noted that certification programs for some jobs may not require advanced degrees for instructors. K-12 tutoring programs and education-oriented call centers are growing, too. ■ GERIATRICS: Aging baby boomers create opportunities in the life care industry, serving growing numbers of people who age in their own homes or live in life-care facilities Wilen-Daugenti said she’s seeing workers in their 60s who cvbusinessmonthly.com
are planning “encore careers,” building on current skills or interests to focus on serving the aging population. There could be a bonus in that: Older workers may be less likely to encounter age discrimination in hiring if their client base is older, too. ■ STEM: Get used to the acronym for science, technology, engineering and math. Wilen-Daugenti said those sectors are begging for talent, but 75 percent of all growth jobs require computer skills. The ubiquity of computer jobs, she notes, is a plus for people who’d like to work from home. And that ties to another trend she sees of tech-savvy women blending motherhood with home-based programming or other IT work. The overarching trend for 2013, she said, is the “intertwining of work and education.” Fast-paced change in technology and global markets mean you’re never done learning — at least if you want to continue to advance in your profession. Diane Stafford is the workplace and careers columnist at The Kansas City Star. Her “Your Job” blog at economy.kansascity. com includes daily posts about job-related issues of wide interest. Readers may write to her at: Kansas City Star, 1729 Grand Blvd., Kansas City, Mo. 64108-1413, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Cedar Valley Business monthly
Some brands gone, but not forgotten
because it’s about living
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Sale: $325,000/ •2 Story Historic Office/Retail Lease: $2,500 Gross Building
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Matt Miehe Sulentic Fischels Commercial Group 269-6222
wenty-five years ago, a new kind of sparkling water called Clearly Canadian hit store shelves. In such flavors as Orchard Peach and Western Loganberry, the drink soon was raking in $150 million a year in sales. But in the face of growing competition, Clearly Canadian began to fade. By the early 2000s it had all but disappeared. Enter Mark Thomann. Early last year, the Chicago investor bought the Clearly Canadian name, hired a marketing team, contracted a bottler and hammered out a distribution deal to get the drinks back into U.S. supermarkets starting in March. Thomann is making a bet that enough people remember Clearly Canadian to try it again. He’s one of a growing group of entrepreneurs who specialize in digging through the graveyard of consumerism in search of zombie brands that can be revived. “We believe we can make Clearly Canadian valuable again,” said Thomann, chief executive of River West Brands, whose stable of resuscitated brands includes Coleco games and Underalls pantyhose. Rebooting old names makes sense in a market crammed with products vying for consumers’ attention; building a new brand can cost millions in advertising and there’s no guarantee of success. But for as little as a $275 fee to the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, one can buy a brand that, albeit dusty, is already familiar to millions of potential customers. “It’s very difficult to get a new brand established in today’s marketplace,” said Tim Calkins, a professor of marketing at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. “So if you start with some brand awareness, it can be an advantage.” These trademark trolls scour brand registration databases, clip old magazine ads and interview consumers about beloved brands of their youth. Such efforts have brought back Polaroid, Eagle Snacks and the Sharper Image in recent years. Attorney Kenny Wiesen revived Bonomo’s Turkish Taffy because he
missed his favorite childhood candy. He discovered the trademark was held by Tootsie Roll, which quit making the thin, chewy bars in the 1980s. It took several years, a lawsuit and about $100,000, but eventually Wiesen snagged the
“It’s very difficult to get a new brand established in today’s marketplace.” Bonomo’s Turkish Taffy brand. That was the easy part. Wiesen and a partner then spent several years tracking down the recipe, relying in part on the memories of an 89-year-old candy chemist. Then they had to find a factory to produce it. The candy finally hit the market in 2010. Today Wiesen produces about 8 million bars a year distributed to 10,000 stores nationwide. “It’s profitable,” said Wiesen, of Carle Place, N.Y., who has acquired other brands he wants to bring back, including Regal Crown Sours hard candies. “But it’s not explosively profitable.” Experts say old candy and soft drinks hold particular appeal; consumers are nostalgic for foods they ate as kids. But that can also be a pitfall. Kassoff, an executive recruiter, has made a full-time business of buying and updating defunct brands, including Leaf, which he purchased in 2011 with the idea of reviving a full lineup of classic candies. Last summer, the company reintroduced Astro Pop, a cone-shaped lollipop invented in the 1960s by a pair of California rocket scientists that went out of production in 2004. It’s also selling David’s Signature Beyond Gourmet Jelly Beans, another brand Kassoff rescued. Although Kassoff has purchased some old brands, others he has acquired for almost nothing thanks to a process known as abandonment. Under federal law, a trademark is considered abandoned if it hasn’t been used for three years. After that, anyone can argue they should be able to use it exclusively and receive legal trademark protection benefits. cvbusinessmonthly.com
ONE THING YOU CAN PREDICT... The future will be unpredictable.
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Up Coming EVENTS
FEB 21 Cedar Valley Young Professionals - Thirst Third Thursday
Peppers Grill and Sports Pub, 620 E. 18th St., Cedar Falls, IA at 5:00 PM.
FEB 06 NE Iowa Manufacturing Conference Hawkeye Community College - Tama Hall ( Room 107 A/B ), 1501 E Orange Rd., Waterloo, IA at 8:30 AM. Contact: Brittany Jungck.
FEB 28 Talent Connect Job Fair
Five Sullivan Brothers Convention Center, 205 W 4th St., Waterloo, IA at 2:00 PM. Contact: Brittany Jungck.
MAR 05 Talent Tells All
FEB 07 Work the Valley Bus Tour
Inititative designed to encourage young professional talent to consider a career in the Cedar Valley. In partnership with UNI Career services. Contact: Brittany Jungck.
TechBrew Cedar Valley
Toads Bar & Grill, 204 Main St., Cedar Falls, IA at 5:00 PM.
FEB 08 TBD Friday Forum Legislative Update
Hilton Garden Inn, 7213 Nordic Dr., Cedar Falls, IA 10:00 AM-Noon. This Talent Tells All event will turn the tables and allow employers to take part in a discussion with young professionals (UNI alumni and students) who have decided that another community had more ideal conditions for career placement and advancement. Contact: Brittany Jungck.
MAR 07 Annual Celebration
Five Sullivan Brothers Convention Center, 205 W 4th St., Waterloo, IA. 7:30-9:00 AM. Contact: Steve Firman.
at Five Sullivan Brothers Convention Center, 205 W 4th St., Waterloo, IA at 6:00 PM. Contact: Bette Wubbena.
MARCH 08 Friday Forum Legislative Update
Five Sullivan Brothers Convention Center, 205 W 4th St., Waterloo, IA 7:30-9:00 AM. Contact: Steve Firman.
MAR 13 ABI Legislative Briefing & Reception
Downtown Marriot, 700 Grand Ave., at 3:45 PM. Contact: Steve Firman.
MAR 14 Good Morning Cedar Valley
Hawkeye Community College - Tama Hall 1501 E Orange Rd, Waterloo, IA at 7:30-9:00 AM. Contact: Bette Wubbena. Reservation deadline is March 7th.
APR 02 Strictly Business Expo
Park Place Event Center, 1521 Technology Parkway, Cedar Falls at 4:00 PM. Contact Bette Wubbena at 319-232-1156 or bwubbena@ cedarvalleyalliance.com.
RSVP on the events calendar at www.cedarvalleyalliance.com. For more information please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
FEB 19 Legislative Session Reception
Renaissance Savery Hotel, 401 Locust St., Des Moines, IA at 5:00 PM. Contact: Steve Firman.
Good Morning Cedar Valley Thursday March 14, 2013 @ 7:30-9:00 am
Hawkeye Community College - Tama Hall 1501 E Orange Rd, Waterloo, IA to RSVP, please contact Bette Wubbena 319-232-1156 or email@example.com. Reservation deadline is March 7th.
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Annual Celebration – Thursday, March 7, 2013 @ 6:00 pm Five Sullivan Brothers Convention Center The Alliance & Chamber offer this yearly gathering to recognize individuals, businesses and organizations. The event is attended by over 500 individuals including Cedar Valley community business leaders and area elected officials. The evening event includes a Social Hour from 6:00 -7:00p.m., followed by dinner from 7:00 – 7:45; Annual Awards presentation 7:45—8:45 followed by dessert/coffee bar, social and networking. For ticket or corporate table information, please contact Bette Wubbena 319-232-1156 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Reservation deadline is February 28th. Premier Sponsor Gold Sponsor
Asset Factoring, LLC
619 E. 19th St. Cedar Falls, IA 50613 Phone: (319) 553-0058 Fax: (319) 277-9360 Contact: Cory Kelly Web: www.assetfactoring.com Category: Collection/Credit Reporting
Blue Zones Project Cedar Falls
1500 Bluff St. Cedar Falls, IA 50613 Phone: (319) 883-1578 Contact: Sue Beach Web: www.bluezonesproject.com Category: Associations/Organizations
2515 Main St. Cedar Falls, IA 50613 Contact: Karla Buchholz Category: Restaurants/Bars/ Caterers
1010 S. Grand Ave., Ste. 4 Charles City, IA 50616 Phone: (641)228-2838 Fax: (641) 228-5370 Contact: Sheryl Jeffery Category: Restaurants/Bars/ Caterers *The Alliance & Chamber has approximately 900 Investor/Members representing over 50,000 employees
Blue Zones – Waterloo
620 Mulberry St. Waterloo, IA 50703 Phone: (319) 883-1476 Contact: Sue Beach Web: www.bluezonesproject.com Category: Associations/Organizations
Inclusion Connection 1024 7th Ave. NW Waverly, IA 50677 Phone: (319) 215-8423 Fax: (319) 352-3087 Contact: Kayleen Symmonds www.inclusionconnection.org Category: Human Services Organization
McDonald’s Dessert Sponsor: StruXture Architects, MidWestOne Bank Entertainment Sponsor: Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. Program Sponsor: Tyson Fresh Meats Social Hour Sponsor: The CBE Group, Inc., Witham Auto Center
610 W. 1st St. Cedar Falls, IA 50613 Contact: Matt Horan Category: Restaurants/ Bars/Caterers
Strictly Business Expo Tuesday April 02, 2013 @ 4:00 pm Park Place Event Center, 1521 Technology Parkway, Cedar Falls please contact Bette Wubbena 319-232-1156 or email@example.com.
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Char Reed believes the universe pushed her into starting a small business of drawing digital pet caricatures after her car sputtered out as she drove home from work. That unforeseen circumstance led Reed to become an unintentional entrepreneur. Entrepreneurship rates in the past 15 years peaked in 2009 and 2010 at 340 per 100,000 adults, according to the 2011 Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity, which tracks the country’s new businesses. That rate declined in 2011 to 320 per 100,000 adults. More people turned to self-employment during the recession, said Dane Stangler, director of entrepreneurship for the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, which maintains the annual index. “Mostly it is people who were laid off and in some cases people who were worried that they were going to be laid off,” said Fred Gebarowski, director of the Small Business Center at Wake Tech Community College in Cary, N.C. Lately, more businesses have been started by people who are tired of a job in which they have taken on additional responsibilities, Gebarowski said. Like Reed, Carlo Matos and Aaron and Natalie Miller became entrepreneurs after unexpected circumstances compelled them to start their own businesses. Here are their stories.
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In August, Char Reed, 28, received an email from a Massachusetts man seeking to commission a portrait of his St. Bernard. He had discovered Reed’s 2-year-old graphic design and fantasy genre website, which included her pet caricatures. Reed’s car died a week later. “With the car situation, that was the little push,” Reed said. A push that convinced her to quit her part-time job at a Michaels arts and crafts store — which required a 30-minute commute — move in with her parents and focus on building a business around her illustrations. Reed reworked her Pet Pics website and met with Gebarowski, who advised her to focus her marketing, develop passive income opportunities and target existing customers with a variety of services. Reed found marketing success through a free Facebook advertising promotion. In the first two weeks, her page “likes” went from 40 to 300. Reed, who is now making the equivalent of her part-time Michaels salary, was swamped with the holiday rush but is already planning a Super Bowl promotion. “I could draw your dog or your cat wearing a jersey or a hat, something like that,” Reed said.
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Starting over in IT
Carlo Matos knew what was coming when his boss approached him during a 2009 round of layoffs at IBM. After more than a decade with the company, the software engineer lost his job.
“The added responsibilities of actually running the business, that is the big challenge.” “When he told me, it was surprisingly hard,” said Matos, 40, who made about $90,000 annually. “Ten years of your life. You have friends there. You have colleagues. It wasn’t easy.” Matos called his friend John Brantly, who had tried to get Matos to buy into Batchnet, a company that provides computer support services to small businesses. Using savings, Matos became co-owner and the second employee of the business. For Matos, the reality of owning a business quickly sunk in. “The added responsibilities of actually running the business, that is the big challenge,” Matos said. “The administrative part, trying to market the company, sales.” In 2011, Matos made about $40,000, he said. But in 2012, Brantly, who was the salesperson of the two, called it quits. So Matos, a father of two, started practicing his customer spiel and carried an outline so he didn’t forget anything. “I keep my head above water,” Matos said. “I am much happier than I was at IBM.”
They built it themselves
Natalie and Aaron Miller started Solid Builders, a remodeling and construction business, after Aaron Miller, 39, was laid off from a construction company in 2003. In the beginning, the business didn’t bring in enough money to support the family, Natalie Miller said. “We survived because of my job and my income,” said Natalie Miller, a former marketing and event planner. “We lived simple lives and spent our money wisely.” But Natalie Miller was able to save enough money to cover the family’s bills for 18 months. She quit her job in 2007 to build the business and to spend more time with her kids. The Millers created a website, joined Internet directories and a leads generation service, and marketed on social media. Natalie Miller developed a project management process that involved tracking leads and making follow-up calls. She was also the salesperson and customer service representative. “We saw improvements within the first month, and a huge improvement over a year,” Miller said. cvbusinessmonthly.com
Don’t let emotions control decisions about retirement
etirement is one of the most emotional and stressful life changes a person can face. The events that may come with retirement — selling your home and re-locating, managing health issues and living on a fixed income — can produce behaviors that defy logic. But as you near retirement, making a snap decision is the last thing you want to do. Here are a few strategies to help you prepare for retirement in the midst of a fluctuating economy. ■ Think long-term about your retirement. It’s hard to resist Larry K. Fox being influenced by economic news and events, but the key is a private is to let rational thinking rule wealth your decision making when it adviser with comes to money. For example, Ameriprise if you experience a bad day at Financial Services Inc. the office and you’re eligible to in Waterloo. retire, you may decide to retire Contact him at early. But taking a deep breath 234-7000. or sleeping on it will help you better think about the big picture and usually leads to a better solution. Thinking through each financial decision carefully, and getting objective advice from someone you trust, will empower you to make the best decision for your future. ■ Don’t become engrossed in day-to-day market activity. This one thing is certain: Markets rise and markets fall. If you are planning to retire or are in retirement, now is not the time to try and beat the market at its own game. To minimize the impact financial swings have on your retirement, determine your appropriate risk tolerance and stick to it. You can always adjust your portfolio, but try not to react in a panic at the sight of a market downturn. Consider working with a financial adviser who can help you identify investments that are appropriate for your risk tolerance level to help you keep your financial goals and plans on track
“If you are planning to retire or are in retirement, now is not the time to try and beat the market at its own game. despite economic swings. ■ Consider contingency plans. It may be counter-intuitive to think about the negative what-if scenarios, but examining a possible future without your spouse or thinking about how you would manage a life-threatening health issue is especially important as you enter retirement. Along with these scenarios, consider how a major economic event like a recession or high inflation may impact your retirement savings. Then create a plan to protect your financial security as much as possible in these circumstances. By doing a bit of contingency planning now, you can make the best retirement decisions for you and your family members. ■ Anticipate what retirement looks like for you. Write down your thoughts about what will happen during an average week in your life as a retiree. Having a solid idea of what you picture your retirement to be like can lead you to maintain a calm mindset when you’re worried about your short-term finances. Working towards a few specific retirement lifestyle goals may help you stay focused on the long-term and avoid making emotional decisions with your money. To help with this, think about some goals you have for your retirement that don’t come with a large expense like volunteering or spending more time with your grandkids. Don’t let your emotions push logic aside when planning and saving for retirement. Minimize highly emotional decisions by communicating frequently with your spouse or other trusted confidante and consider working with a financial professional who can help you maintain a long-term vision of your current financial situation and goals for the future.
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IBM granted most U.S. patents for 20th year Bloomberg News International Business Machines racked up more U.S. patents than any other company for the 20th straight year, helped by contributions from its researchers in other countries. IBM’s 6,478 patents in 2012 mark a record for the company, research firm IFI Claims Patent Services said in a statement. South Korea’s Samsung Electronics and Tokyo-based Canon ranked second and third. About 30 percent of IBM’s patents were produced by inventors outside the United States, up from 22 percent in 2010. Research centers cvbusinessmonthly.com
in Germany, Japan, Canada, Britain and Israel were especially productive, the Armonk, N.Y.based company said. The percentage of its patents coming from overseas is expected to continue growing as newer labs in Brazil and Kenya ramp up, IBM officials said. IBM’s flow of patents lets the computer-services giant produce about $1 billion a year in licensing revenue. Still, other companies get much higher royalty revenue from a smaller number of patents. Qualcomm, a designer of mobile-phone chips, made $6.33 billion in technology licensing in the most recent fiscal year, even though it’s not in the top 10 of IFI’s list.
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What corporate America is reading McClatchy Newspapers 800-CEO-READ, a leading direct supplier of book-based resources compiles a monthly list of best-selling business books based on purchases by its corporate customers nationwide. Here are the best sellers for December 2012, plus descriptions of the Top 10. 1. “Extreme Productivity: Boost Your Results, Reduce Your Hours” by Robert C. Pozen; HarperBusiness, 304 pages ($27.99). 2. “Selling with Noble Purpose: How to Drive Revenue and Do Work That Makes You Proud” by Lisa Earle McLeod; John Wiley & Sons, 231 pages ($22.95). 3. “Story of Purpose: The Path to Creating a Brighter Brand, a Greater Company, and a Lasting Legacy” by Joey Reiman, John Wiley & Sons, 238 pages ($27.95). 4. “The $10 Trillion Prize: Captivating the Newly Affluent in China and India” by Michael J. Silverstein, Abheek Singhi, Carol Liao, David Michael and Simon Targett; Harvard Business Review Press, 336 pages ($30). 5. “Start at the End: How Compa-
nies Can Grow Bigger and Faster by Reversing Their Business Plan” by Dave Lavinsky; John Wiley & Sons, 240 pages ($22.95). 6. “Four Disciplines of Execution: Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals” by Chris McChesney, Sean Covey and Jim Huling; Free Press, 352 pages ($28). 7. “Energy Bus: 10 Rules to Fuel Your Life, Work, and Team with Positive Energy” by Jon Gordon; John Wiley & Sons, 192 pages ($21.95). 8. “Great by Choice: Uncertainty, Chaos, and Luck — Why Some Thrive Despite Them All” by Jim Collins and Morten T. Hansen; HarperBusiness, 320 pages ($29.99). 9. “Positive Dog: A Story about the Power of Positivity” by Jon Gordon; John Wiley & Sons, 128 pages ($16.95). 10. “Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action” by Simon Sinek; Portfolio, 256 pages ($15). 11. “Blah Blah Blah: What to Do When Words Don’t Work” by Dan Roam; Portfolio, 368 pages
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($29.95). 12. “Little Book of Talent: 52 Tips for Improving Your Skills” by Daniel Coyle; Bantam, 160 pages ($18). 13. “Train Your Brain for Success: Read Smarter, Remember More, and Break Your Own Records” by Roger Seip; John Wiley & Sons, 238 pages ($24.95). 14. “The Leader Who Had No Title: A Modern Fable on Real Success in Business and in Life” by Robin Sharma; Free Press, 224 pages ($15). 15. “Bargaining for Advantage: Negotiation Strategies for Reasonable People” by G. Richard Shell; Penguin Books, 320 pages ($17). 16. “Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else in Business” by Patrick Lencioni; Jossey-Bass, 240 pages ($27.95). 17. “The Go-Giver: A Little Story about a Powerful Business Idea” by Bob Burg and John David Mann; Portfolio, 144 pages ($21.95). 18. “Beating the Global Odds: Successful Decision-Making in a Confused and Troubled World” by Paul A. Laudicina; John Wiley &
Sons, 206 pages ($34.95). 19. “From Values to Action: The Four Principles of Values-Based Leadership” by Harry M. Jansen Kraemer; Jossey-Bass, 224 pages ($27.95). 20. “The Quest: Energy, Security and the Remaking of the Modern World” by Daniel Yergin; Penguin Press, 816 pages ($37.95). 21. “The Art of Woo: Using Strategic Persuasion to Sell Your Ideas” by G. Richard Shell and Mario Moussa; Penguin Books, 320 pages ($16). 22. “Icarus Deception: How High Will You Fly?” by Seth Godin; Portfolio, 256 pages ($24.95) 23. “Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die” by Chip Heath and Dan Heath; Random House, 291 pages ($26). 24. “Inbound Marketing: Get Found Using Google, Social Media, and Blogs” by Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah; John Wiley & Sons, 256 pages ($24.95). 25. “It Worked for Me: In Life and Leadership” by Colin Powell and Tony Koltz; Harper, 304 pages ($27.99).
Health care, growth are small businesses’ top concerns in 2013 The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.) Small-business owners face many uncertainties as 2013 gathers momentum. Here are two areas that experts say small-business owners should watch in the coming year. HEALTH CARE: Small-business owners will need to make decisions related to health care reform and plan for its 2014 implementation. Owners can also expect an increase in related fees and taxes. “They are going to have to educate themselves, plan for the impact and educate their employees as much as possible,” said Kevin Kuhlman, legislative affairs manager for the National Federation of Independent Business, which has more than 350,000 members. NFIB argued against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act when Congress was considering it and was the prime litigant in the U.S. Supreme Court case in June. The act requires that all Americans have minimal health care coverage by 2014 or pay a penalty. Employers with 50 or more employees will have more responsibilities, but employers with fewer workers will also feel the impact, Kuhlman said. In 2013, businesses will have to determine whether they fall in the “large” or “small” category for the employer mandate. A sole employer with multiple businesses that employ 50 or more full-time employees will likely be counted as a large employer, Kuhlman said. Businesses will also have to determine whether employees are full time or part time and apply a new counting requirement to determine an employer’s size. For example, if six employees work five hours per week, they will count as one fulltime-equivalent employee. David Crump, president of Employee Benefits Consulting Co. in Raleigh, N.C., said as more information is released, large employers need to take a close look at their group medical coverage and determine how their rates will be affected and whether it would be more affordable to pay a penalty and not provide insurance. “Business people are always going to do the math, and they are cvbusinessmonthly.com
“There is market share up for grabs for those that are nimble enough to pounce.” going to do what costs them the least,” Crump said. GROWTH OPPORTUNITIES: Small-business owners should explore both conservative and optimistic scenarios in 2013, said David Grant, president of Raleigh SCORE, a nonprofit organization that offers free counseling to small businesses. Many business owners in recent years have tried to cut and manage costs, Grant said. “People have to think a little differently as to how to start to grow again and get out of the mold of cost cutting,” Grant said. Businesses also should think about expansion strategies, including improving customer service, incorporating social media and a mobile website. “Tremendous opportunities” exist in foreign markets for some small and midsize businesses, said David Robinson, special counsel for Nexsen Pruet, a Carolinas law firm that helps businesses with exporting. “More so than in previous years because some of the bigger players have retrenched and pulled back from markets. And so I think there is market share up for grabs for those that are nimble enough to pounce as the world recovers.” Businesses also need to be mobile-ready, said Martin Brossman of Martin Brossman and Associates, a Raleigh company that provides business coaching and integrated Web marketing. “If you have got to take your fingers and spread them out on a smartphone, it is not mobileready,” Brossman said. Greg Lewis, a Raleigh-area chef and owner of Catering By Design, set up a mobile website for his business, and he plans another for his restaurant in 2013. The site allows customers to find and contact him easily, Lewis said. “It gets people to contact you; it gets people in the doors,” he said. “But once they are in the doors, you have to be able to perform.”
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Smart Potty? Wacky gadgets at Consumer Electronics Show The Associated Press Some of the weirdest gadgets at the International CES show are designed to solve problems you never knew you had. Are you eating too fast? A digital fork will let you know. Is your toddler having trouble sitting still on the potty? Let the iPotty come to the rescue. Are you bored driving to work? Climb inside a 1,600-pound mechanical spider for your morning commute. Of course, not all of the prototypes introduced at the annual gadget show in January will succeed in the marketplace. But the innovators who shop their wares here are fearless when it comes to pitching new gizmos, be they flashy, catchy or just plain odd. A search for this year’s strangest (and perhaps least useful) electronic devices yielded an extra-loud pair of headphones from a metal band, an eye-sensing TV that didn’t
AP PHOTO The iPotty on display at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. work as intended and more. Take a look:
Bass-heavy headphones that borrow the names of hip-hop lu-
minaries like Dr. Dre have become extremely popular. Rock fans have been left out of the party — until now. British metal band Motorhead, famous for playing gutpunchingly loud, is endorsing a line
of headphones that “go to eleven” and are hitting U.S. stores now. Says lead singer and bassist Lemmy Kilmister, explaining his creative input: “I just said make them louder than everybody else’s. So that’s the only criteria, and that it should reflect every part of the sound, not just the bass.” The Motorheadphone line consists of three over-the-ear headphones and six in-ear models. A Swedish music-industry veteran. Distribution and marketing is handled by a Swedish company, Krusell International AB. WHO IT’S FOR: People who don’t care about their hearing or of the sanity of person sitting next to them. According to Kilmister, the headphones are ideal for Motorhead fans. “Their hearing is already damaged, they better buy these.” PRICE: Prices range from $50 to $130.
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A prototype of an eye-sensing TV from Haier didn’t quite meet viewers eye-to-eye. An on-screen cursor is supposed to appear where the viewer looks to help, say, select a show to watch. Blinking while controlling the cursor is supposed to result in a click. In our brief time with the TV, we observed may quirks and comic difficulties. For one, the company’s demonstrator Hongzhao Guo said the system doesn’t work that well when viewers wear eyeglasses. (That kind of defeats the purpose of TV, no?) One bespectacled reporter was able to make it work, but the cursor appeared a couple inches below where he was looking. This resulted in Guo snapping his fingers to attract the reporter’s eye to certain spots. The reporter dutifully looked, but the cursor was always a bit low. Looking down to see the cursor only resulted in it moving further down the TV screen. WHO IT’S FOR: People too lazy to move their arms. “It’s easy to do,” Guo said, taking the reporter’s place at the demonstration. He later said the device needs to be recalibrated for each person. It worked for him, but is not ready for prime-time.
A company named after a bird wants to make life easier for your plants. A plant sensor called Flower Power from Paris-based Parrot is designed to update your mobile device with a wealth of information about the health of your plant and the environment it lives in. Just stick the y-shaped sensor in your plant’s soil, download the accompanying app and — hopefully — watch your plant thrive. WHO IT’S FOR: ‘Brownthumbed’ folk and plants with a will to live. PRICE: Unknown.
If you don’t watch what you put in your mouth, this fork will — or at least try to. Called HAPIfork, it’s a fork with a fat handle containing electronics and a battery. A motion sensor knows when you are lifting the fork to your mouth. If you’re eating too fast, the fork will vibrate as a warning. The company behind it, HapiLabs, believes that using the fork 60 to 75 times during meals that last 20 to 30 minutes is ideal. But the fork won’t know how healthy or how big each bite you take will be, so shoveling a plate of arugula will likely be judged as less
healthy than slowly putting away a pile of bacon. WHO IT’S FOR? People who eat too fast. Those who want company for their “smart” refrigerator and other kitchen gadgets. PRICE: HapiLabs is launching a fundraising campaign for the fork in March on the group-fundraising site Kickstarter.com. Participants need to pay $99 to get a fork, which is expected to ship around April or May.
Toilet training a toddler is no picnic, but iPotty from CTA Digital seeks to make it a little easier by letting parents attach an iPad to it. This way, junior can gape and paw at the iPad while taking care of business in the old-fashioned part of the plastic potty.The iPotty will go on sale in March, first on Amazon.com. There are potty training apps out there that’ll reward toddlers for accomplishing the deed. The company is also examining whether the potty’s attachment can be adapted for other types of tablets, beyond the iPad. WHO IT’S FOR: Parents at their wit’s end. PRICE: $39.99
MONDO SPIDER, TITANBOA A pair of giant hydraulic and lithium polymer battery controlled beasts from Canadian art organization eatART caught some eyes at the show. A rideable 8-legged creature, Mondo Spider, weighs 1,600 pounds and can crawl forward at about 5 miles per hour on battery power for roughly an hour. The 1,200-pound Titanoboa slithers along the ground at an as yet unmeasured speed. Hugh Patterson, an engineer who volunteers his time making the gizmos, said they were made in part to learn more about energy use. Titanoboa was made to match the size of a 50-foot long reptile whose fossilized remains were dated 50 million years ago, when the world was 5 to 6 degrees warmer. The creature was built “to provoke discussion about climate change,” Patterson said. WHO IT’S FOR: Your inner child, people with extra-large living rooms. PRICE: The spider’s parts cost $26,000. The Titanoboa costs $70,000. Engineers provided their time for free and both took “thousands of hours” to build.
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DEMOGRAPHICS RADII 5 Mile 15 Miles 30 Miles WCF MSA
POPULATION 78,712 135,778 216,361 166,332
HOUSEHOLDS 31,470 54,199 86,214 66,102
MEDIAN HH INCOME $48,192 $48,567 $47,989 $48,949