Tag Archives: August 2009

Patent

Failing To File Patent For New Technology Could Cost Company More Than Money

It is arguably one of the most exciting moments for a technology entrepreneur — seeing that invention for the first time. Whether it’s a new software program, mechanical device or a breakthrough biotech discovery, the feeling is always the same, pure elation. If you’re a technology entrepreneur you know the feeling. You spend months, possibly years, working toward this moment. Now that you’re here, you’re ready to turn this exciting innovation into a business. But before you take that costly leap of putting together a company and going to market, consider one very important step that can save you, and your company, everything you’ve worked for — the elusive patent.

Who needs it?
Many technology companies and entrepreneurs initially think they don’t need, or just can’t afford, patent protection at the very initial stages of their business development. “No one else could develop this right now in the exact same way we have,” or “It’s already protected by trade secret laws,” or “It’s going to cost a lot of money right now, so we’ll wait until the product is making us a profit.” The truth is, not filing a patent to protect your proprietary technology could cost a great, great deal more in the end, and might even make your company less attractive to investors and business partners.

What kind of companies should file for patent protection?
Companies in a wide variety of technology fields increasingly rely on patents as a key tool to protect their technology. For example, companies in the high-tech industry (software, semiconductors, etc.), the low-tech industry (consumer gadgets, etc.) and the life sciences/biotechnology industry (pharmaceuticals, medical devices, etc.) are spending more and more money on research and development and, thus, are increasingly looking to patents as a mechanism for protecting this expensive investment.

If you’re a typical technology startup, you will likely need to find early-stage, mid-stage and, eventually, late-stage investors for capital to continue to fund your research and development, and pay the tremendous costs associated with commercializing your products and services. Every kind of investor, from angels to venture capitalists, will scrutinize the adequacy and strength of a company’s intellectual property assets as a part of the investor’s decision to invest in that company. More than ever, investors are expecting a company to have either filed for patent protection or already have some patents. Another significant ramification of failing to obtain adequate patent protection is that investors may place a significantly lower valuation on your company. Thus, taking steps to file for patents, and then eventually obtaining patents, is often a critical and significant step in proving credibility to any kind of investor.

Another major benefit of patent protection is using your patents as a legal mechanism to protect your company’s most critical proprietary technology from infringement by competitors and others. Competition is fierce in the technology and biotech/life sciences industries and your competition may knowingly, or inadvertently, use your technology to gain market share. Your patent is often the most valuable tool to combat these serious situations and could be a key factor that differentiates your company from your competition.

How patents pave the way to new markets?
Many technology companies, particularly startups, are not in a position to commercialize their technology in every country in the world and in every “field of use.” A solution to this problem is to find business partners who can be given a license to use these technologies in other markets, both here in the U.S., and globally. Taking steps to file for patent protection can increase your company’s ability to find proper licensees who will scrutinize the technology and opportunity as much as any investor. Patent protection can also increase your negotiating leverage when entering into contracts with licensees and could have a significant impact on the level of royalties and other compensation that licensees agree to pay you for the use of your technology. Indeed, potential licensees who still want rights to your technology very often negotiate significantly lower royalty payments if you have failed to obtain proper patent protection because the licensee deems your technology to simply be unprotected “trade secrets.” As a bottom line, taking steps to obtain proper patent protection can potentially increase the revenue stream to your company from others who want to use your technology.

man with red tie standing in front of Dean's office

CEO Series: Robert E. Mittlestaedt Jr.

Robert E. Mittelstaedt Jr.
Dean, W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University

How is W.P. Carey’s curriculum changing due to the economic crisis?
The curriculum in any business school has to involve some fundamental, timeless subjects that never change. So accounting and some aspects of finance and people management and other things will go on forever, but in every case we have to find a way to adapt to the changes in the external environment, whether it’s societal or specific kinds of business issues. I think that most business schools now are re-thinking seriously their curriculums in light of what has happened in the last couple of years, in particular issues in the areas of risk management, ethics in decision making and globalization … It doesn’t mean that the entire curriculum will change, but we have to find a way to weave those things more into almost everything we teach.

Could business schools have done more to create an ethical climate among corporate executives that could have averted this crisis? Does that argument have any merit?
My experience over many years now tells me that parents have to do more to teach ethical values to their children, and society has to take responsibility for holding people accountable for ethical behavior. Sadly, I have found that in most people, when they cross ethical lines, you find out it’s not the first time and they started doing it early in their life. By the time we get them as undergraduate business students, that’s about the end of the time when you can influence it.

We push hard on ethics from day one, and the students who come into our program hear about ethics on day one from me, and throughout the time that they’re here and they are required to take ethics courses. … This is something that’s a broad societal problem that we have to deal with, and we’re are doing as much as we can in business schools and will continue to put even more emphasis on it, but it’s not something that can be solved just in a business school or just in a university alone.

What are some of the future trends you see for business schools?
I expect to see all business schools more concerned with some of the things that we have been thinking about here at ASU. For instance, whether you believe in global warming or not, it is indisputable that we have to worry about sustainability, simply because of the number of people on the planet. … There are all sorts of things that become different issues where we have society and business interacting, whether we like it or not, in a much more integrated fashion than we have had in the past. … Issues of instant communications, doing business differently than our predecessors did, are very real and have to be part of a curriculum. … All those things find their way into a curriculum, both in terms of changing the way we teach, the kinds of things we teach, the impact they have on individuals.

How would you assess the relationship between W.P. Carey and the Valley business community?
I believe that our relationship with the business community at the W.P. Carey School is quite strong. We have many business leaders that are on our advisory councils, advisory boards to departments, to the whole school; we have many businesses that support us by sending students here to work on their MBAs or even their undergraduate degrees. And we have many business leaders who are not graduates of our school but who believe we have to have a strong business school to help Phoenix grow, and so they support us.

Describe the education industry in Arizona in terms of employment.
Education is a big sector of our society and I don’t believe there are very many people today that would deny that education needs to be there. …  (T)here’s more to learn today and a child today needs to learn more and get to a higher level of knowledge just to be competitive in the work force than they did a generation or two generations or three generations ago. You have to have an education sector that is strong and employs a fair number of people if you’re going to be competitive.The fact that we have gone through a financial crisis and budget cutbacks and furloughs and layoffs means that it’s not different than any other business, and it is in fact a business. It may be state supported, partially in the case of our university, but it is nonetheless a business that is subject to the same kinds of economic whipsaws as other sectors. The difference here is that our students don’t just go away because the economy got worse. In a retail establishment the customers may not show up and you may not have to have as many (establishments) open. We still have 52,000 students showing up on this campus in the fall …

    Vital Stats




  • Dean at W.P. Carey since 2004.
  • Between 1973 and 2004, he served in numerous leadership positions at The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
  • Author of “Will Your Next Mistake Be Fatal? Avoiding the Mistake Chain That Can Destroy Your Organization.”
  • Earned his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Tulane University.
  • Served five years as a U.S. Naval officer.
  • Received an MBA from the Wharton School.
  • wpcarey.asu.edu
The Business Community Is Ringing A Cautionary Bell On Further Cuts To The State’s Education System

The Business Community Is Ringing A Cautionary Bell On Further Cuts To The State’s Education System

Good schools are good for business. It’s that simple. Contrary to popular belief, incentives and tax breaks aren’t necessarily the only things businesses take into account when considering a move to Arizona or an expansion of a local operation. Sure, they want to make money, but the quality of the education system, from K-12 through colleges and universities, also is a key element in the decision-making process.

In early July, $3.2 billion in budget funding for the K-12 public education system was restored after initially being cut by Gov. Jan Brewer in a line-item veto. The education budget was also increased by $500 million, which now qualifies the state for $2.3 billion in federal stimulus money. Despite dodging that bullet, schools remain under the threat of future budget cuts, and that has caught the attention of business leaders. But paying attention isn’t enough. They need to be more involved in the process, insiders say, establishing and maintaining working relationships with state legislators who control the purse strings.

The business community has a stake in education on two fronts, says Chuck Essigs of the Arizona Association of School Business Officials (AASBO), which provides professional development opportunities for individuals working in all jobs in the education field.

“One,” he says, “is the ability of the education system, both elementary and secondary and the universities, to prepare an adequate work force, and to make sure schools are adequately funded so they can carry forth their mission of having an educated population. So when the business community hires people, they’re hiring people who have the skills and training to be productive workers.”

The second aspect involves Arizona businesses that are recruiting workers from out-of-state or businesses that are considering an expansion to Arizona from elsewhere.

“If those workers have school-age children, they want to know what the school system is like,” says Essigs, AASBO’s director of government affairs. “If they feel that their kids are not going to get a quality education, it might make them hesitant to leave where they are. They might think twice about taking a promotion and putting their kids at a disadvantage in a school that’s not up to the standards they want.”

Robert E. Mittelstaedt Jr., dean of the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, says most businesses are far more concerned about the general education environment.

“I remember a bank official in Philadelphia 25 years ago saying he couldn’t find a receptionist who could read and write,” Mittelstaedt says. “You still hear that. Companies expect to have an education system that graduates students who are qualified to enter the work force in some minimally accepted level.”

If the public schools fall short, perhaps because of inadequate funding, the option of sending children to private schools becomes a cost factor for employees.

Javier Rey, vice president-operations for State Farm Insurance’s Tempe operations center, says it’s critical that Arizona’s youth are better prepared for higher education, so they can contribute to the nation’s and state’s civic, economic and social advancement.

“The quality of schools is a factor that businesses look at when considering relocating or expanding,” Rey says.

Christopher Smith, manager of government and regulatory affairs for Cox Communications, calls education “critical to economic development.”

“It is an essential ingredient in the lifeblood of our economy, both nourishing the supply of talented workers and attracting and retaining the customers they serve,” Smith adds. “Education ranks high on the various lists of important factors in location/relocation decisions, not only due to the increasingly critical competition for knowledge workers, but also because executives making these decisions care deeply about the education of their own children.”

Smith gives Arizona’s education system reasonably satisfactory grades, but says the status quo is not good enough to meet today’s challenges.

“We need to break the mold a bit and unleash more of what made America so great — liberty, bold innovation, inspired risk-taking, creativity, robust competition and an unflagging entrepreneurial spirit,” he says.

Susan Carlson, executive director of the Arizona Business & Education Coalition (ABEC), a nonprofit K-12 education policy advocacy organization, says the business community needs to be more involved in the school-funding process.

“Business needs to be engaged in the conversation,” she says. “They need to watch what the Legislature is doing. We can’t keep saying ‘no’ around tax reform and ‘yes’ around increased skills for students. It may take more money, if money is allocated to the right things. It’s going to take being focused on research-based strategies. Educators are willing and committed to support research-based strategies, and redirecting some of the funding that exists.”

chart increase, AZ NASDAQ listed companies

An Analyst’s Look At How Arizona’s Nasdaq-Listed Companies Are Faring This Recession

Arizona has 52 Nasdaq-listed companies and the performance of those with the most capitalization during this economic downturn has been fairly good.

In early June, Stephen Taddie, managing member of Stellar Capital Management in Phoenix, reviewed the top 10 Arizona Nasdaq companies using Thomson Analytics as his data source. Those companies comprise nearly all the capitalization for Arizona Nasdaq-listed firms. They are Apollo Group, First Solar, Microchip Technology, PetSmart, ON Semiconductor, P.F. Chang’s, Amkor Technology, Mobile Mini, JDA Software and TASER International.

There was positive news concerning stock performance and internal company performance for the group as a whole.

Looking at stock performance for the three-month period from April 5 through June 5, Taddie found that “90 percent of the Arizona companies outperformed their peer group as a national comparison and all by a significant margin.”

Taddie next looked at stock prices for the year to date through May 31. While the Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index was approximately even for that period, seven of the top 10 Arizona companies outperformed the index by a fairly wide margin, Taddie says. Those that did not tracked the index closely, he adds. The seven companies were First Solar, Microchip Technology, PetSmart, ON Semiconductor, P.F. Chang’s, Amkor Technology and JDA Software.

“Apollo Group, the largest of the top 10 as measured by market capitalization, fared better than the rest through the first quarter of 2009, but was surpassed by the others as investor confidence rose significantly in April and May, encouraging investors to look past the current economic data and the financial statements of smaller, less capitalized companies to the earnings potential many of these companies will have in a more stable environment,” Taddie says.

Taddie also reviewed a compilation of analysts’ estimates for internal company performance for 2009. As a group — not as individual companies — analysts estimate revenue for the top 10 will be flat this year, up just .49 percent, but that it will grow 13.5 percent in 2010.

“Over the last six months, we saw many analysts lengthen the duration of the downturn but also decrease its severity,” Taddie says. “If we break it down quarter by quarter, the data reflect a fairly dismal first half of 2009, followed by a fairly decent last half of 2009.”

Estimates for next year’s revenue vary widely, Taddie says, because it is difficult to measure the impact of federal stimulus packages and significant cost-cutting measures in many industries.

“A significant capital-expenditure decline has frozen budgets,” says Taddie, who also is a member of the Western Blue Chip Forecast panel for the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University. “One firm’s cost reduction is another’s revenue shortfall and that has been trickling down the supply chain.”

Taddie says the data paint a picture in which Arizona firms, like many other companies across the country, are trying to preserve shareholder value by more closely aligning capital expenditures with expected revenue growth, or the lack thereof.

“Typically, the larger the company, the more apt they are to take a bet and invest into a downturn, so when the tide turns, they capture more market share,” Taddie says. “The smaller the company, the less apt they are to do that because they can’t take that risk.”

Managing expenses and growth in an environment where revenue expectations are “jumping all over the place” is a challenge, Taddie says.

“References to this period will show up in economics and business-management textbooks for quite some time,” he says. “The data is showing that the Arizona top 10 are faring at least as well as other companies and, when compared to stock-price performance so far this year, better.”

AH Endovascular OR Suite

Executives From West Valley Hospitals Assess The Impact Of The Current Economy

The need for health care services continues to grow across the state, including the West Valley. And under the current recession, hospitals are being asked to do more with less.

Jon Bartlett, CEO of Arrowhead Hospital, says the health care industry is not immune to the impact of the bad economy, but he remains optimistic about the current and future state of the market.

“There are plenty of challenges, but we remain focused and disciplined,” he says.

In fact, he believes West Valley communities are home to some of the finest hospitals around, and the members of the community wouldn’t have it any other way.

“Today, people expect the very best health care outcomes, but they also demand world-class service,” Bartlett says. “It is our responsibility to meet their expectations.”

Arrowhead Hospital has been recognized with three stars in the Society of Thoracic Surgeons’ national database in 2007 and 2008 for its superior cardiovascular surgery outcomes.

Tom Dickson is CEO of Banner Thunderbird Medical Center, a 413-bed acute care hospital that specializes in cardiovascular care, neurology care, pediatrics, obstetrics and emergency medicine. He says the slowing economy has actually allowed West Valley hospitals to catch up with their demands.

“Generally, the West Valley has been underserved in terms of acute care beds,” Dickson says. “Now that the economy has slowed and several hospitals have added additional beds, we are not in as critical condition as we were in recent years.”

With a recent expansion of the South Tower, which can grow to accommodate 600 beds, Dickson says his biggest challenge is retaining existing employees and recruiting additional workers to staff the additional beds and programs and services that are growing as a result of the tower.

“The most critical area of need is registered nurses,” he says. “We also have an acute shortage of physicians and other medical professions, including physical therapists, respiratory therapists, pharmacists and medical technologists.”

Jo Adkins, CEO of West Valley Hospital, says the West Valley currently has an adequate amount of hospital beds, but that may not be the case for very long.

“As growth returns to the West Valley, we will need to look at growth of both beds and services,” she says. “We need to stay in touch with the communities’ needs and grow the services so that we can remain a hospital of choice.”

Meanwhile, West Valley Hospital is already very strong in a number of specialties, including its heart and vascular center, chest pain center, emergency room, electrophysiology and obstetrics. But Adkins doesn’t mince words when it comes to the challenges facing the health care industry.

“(It has) taken a large hit,” she says.

Naming two recent 5 percent budget cuts, she adds, “That has had a $3.6 million impact on West Valley Hospital alone.”

Beyond working to overcome the challenges facing the industry as a whole, the leaders of these hospitals are 100 percent dedicated to providing the superior service they believe their community members deserve.

Bartlett notes that the emergency department at Arrowhead Hospital is making a concerted effort to decrease wait times, promising that patients are seen in less than half an hour.

“Our average wait time is 19 minutes,” he says.

And while Arrowhead Hospital does have plans to expand from 220 beds to 260 within the next 18 months, Bartlett explains that he doesn’t just want to grow, he wants to make sure the hospital is getting consistently better.

Lee Peterson, CEO of Sun Health Services (formerly Sun Health Properties), which recently merged with Banner Health, agrees that providing the utmost services and results for its patients is the hospitals’ top priority.

“Banner has a best-practice strategy that is very much in line with our passion for making a difference in people’s lives,” he says.

Boswell and Del E. Webb medical centers are now Banner Boswell and Banner Del E. Webb.

“By coming together with Banner we were able to bring some immediate technologies, such as electronic medical records, in addition to research institutes, which are such a major part of Banner Boswell and Banner Del E. Webb, to the West Valley,” Peterson says.

With the economy putting a freeze on growth for the most part, West Valley hospitals stand poised for continued expansion. All the while, they are not taking their eyes off their mission — to provide the residents of West Valley communities with first-class services administered by highly trained and compassionate health care providers.

Peter Fine President and CEO Banner Health

Peter Fine, Now CEO Of Banner Health, Drove A Taxi As His First Job

Peter Fine
President and CEO
Banner Health

Describe your very first job and what lessons you learned from it.
Once I got past delivering newspapers as a little kid, my first job with significant responsibility was driving a taxicab outside of New York City. I did this starting the summer after high school, and did it for each year while in college, plus the year after college. It was 12-hour shifts, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., six days a week. Things learned included the value of hard work, and no matter what the job is you have a responsibility to do it right because someone is depending on you.

Describe your first job in your industry and what you learned from it.
My first job in the health care industry was working as an administrative assistant in a small hospital and I had responsibility for the admitting department. What I learned was that frontline workers know a lot about what is going on, all you have to do is ask them.

What were your salaries at both of these jobs?
As a cab driver, I would make about $50 a day and as an administrative assistant, I made about $13,000 per year.

Who is your biggest mentor and what role did he or she play?
I had three mentors who taught me lessons I actively use on a regular basis. Art Malasto was CEO of a hospital in Indiana, where I was an assistant administrator. He taught me that “visibility breeds credibility, credibility breeds trust, so if you wanted to be trusted, you have to be visible.” Gary Mecklenburg was a CEO at a hospital in Chicago, where I was a senior vice president. He taught me to “plan the work and work the plan.” In other words, you have to plan to know where you want to go, and you have to work the plan if you want to get there. It’s a simple concept that many times cannot be executed.Finally, Ed Howe, a health system president that I worked for in Milwaukee, taught me that to stay focused, you have to “tune out the static.” That lesson has helped me to stay focused on what needs to be done, no matter what else is going on around me.

What advice would you give to a person just entering your industry?
Make sure you have a passion for complexity and a high tolerance for ambiguity, and always remember that misery is optional.

If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing instead?
I’d be coaching a 12-year-old soccer team or coaching a college lacrosse team.

Motivate Employees

Keeping Employees Motivated In A Troubled Economy Is Critical

The Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) figures that it can cost up to one-third of an employee’s annual salary to recruit and replace that employee. For the most part, it is to the employer’s advantage to retain and maintain their skilled work force in a tumultuous marketplace.

Uncertain times, family issues and unstable financial situations all compete with the workplace for balance. Couple that with the constant barrage of dismal employment news of company cutbacks, bailouts and failures, and understandably there’s not much motivation left for the workplace. Many people are wondering how secure their job really is and if they need to be on the lookout for the next opportunity.

How do you get your employees to step “up” and stay optimistic when it seems like so many things are falling apart around them? Here are a few quick steps to keep your employees engaged and positive.

Be honest and open
Communication is one of those things that you just can never get enough of — but it does take work. The worst thing you can do for morale is to paint a rosy picture one week, only to have the bottom drop out of their world the following week. No one likes workplace surprises, especially your employees. Regular and transparent communication is essential to maintaining your employees’ trust. Also, remember to let your team members know how much you appreciate them and their personal contributions to the company.

Partner with your workers
Let them be part of the solution. Good old-fashioned brainstorming and suggestion boxes are excellent ways for employers to engage and encourage their employees to use their expertise to help the company reduce costs and increase revenue. Remember to recognize those contributors whose ideas are implemented with either public praise and/or non-monetary perks, such as a certificate or a preferred parking space.

Build up your team
Creating a sense of community does wonders to build team morale. By encouraging positive working relationships through bonding, walls come down and individuals work together toward solutions. Staff development, lunchtime personal growth workshops, community service projects, or even a staff potluck lunch or get-together, are ways to promote team cohesiveness.

Reward creatively
Although a pay raise or some other cash award would be nice, it just may not be feasible for the company right now. But, that shouldn’t stop you from recognizing and rewarding hard work. A covered parking space in the dead of summer in Arizona or in the snowy winter in Ohio certainly is a major perk. A dress-down day when certain business goals are achieved would be welcomed. Even a handshake and “job well done” during a staff meeting can show appreciation without breaking the bank.

Help your employees create work-life balance
Work-life balance seems to be everyone’s hot button these days. Flexible schedules are one way of helping your employees realize it. Depending upon business needs and the employee’s position, flexible schedules can allow your employees to have the work-life balance they need. Telecommuting, job sharing, compact work weeks and flexible start times can be just the motivator the employee needed.

In moving forward, keeping employees motivated is truly a necessity in these uncertain times. Not only will your employees’ motivation be on target, but you’ll see positive results in your ROI as well.

West Valley Industry Turnover

WESTMARC Unveils The Results Of A Work Force Labor Market Study

What started as an initiative from the city of Surprise Economic Development Department quickly turned into an unprecedented work force study on the entire West Valley spearheaded by WESTMARC. The study came about through a collaboration of communities, corporations, government entities and educational institutions that contributed more than $150,000 to fund the report.

“West Valley communities have experienced tremendous growth since the 2000 Census. They were having difficulty addressing questions from business prospects concerning the size and skill levels of the regional work force,” says Surprise Economic Development Coordinator Megan Griego, who sits on WESTMARC’s economic development committee and was chair of the Workforce Labor Study of the West Valley. “The communities of the West Valley formed a consortium to better understand their region’s work force and to better promote its growth and development.”

Russ Ullinger, senior project manager of economic development for SRP, and WESTMARC co-chair and member of the economic development committee, adds that the concept for the study developed out of necessity.

“Numerous surveys and studies have identified work force as one of the most important assets when national site selection consultants consider different regions and locations for businesses,” he says.

“This is relevant in good economic times, as well as poor economic times. This study truly drills and provides specific labor information unique to the West Valley.”

Harry Paxton, economic development director for the city of Goodyear, who also acted as co-chair of the study, credits WESTMARC’s partnerships with the Maricopa Work Force Connection, as well as Maricopa Community College in the development and funding of the study. He also praises WESTMARC for bringing together work force professionals to get their input on what the study should entail.

In May 2008, WESTMARC enlisted California-based ERISS Corporation to prepare the comprehensive labor market analysis.

“That analysis involved a survey of all businesses in the West Valley with 20 or more employees — all such businesses were contracted and 1,100 completed the survey — and a detailed review of newly available government information,” Griego says.

The detailed data developed by the survey and the analysis of various government data sources is also available through www.usworks.com/westmarc, which presents the comprehensive information and data relevant to businesses, site selectors, economic development professionals, work force development professionals and educators into convenient and customizable reports.

The results of the study can now help the 15 West Valley communities represented in the report to identify their specific needs when it comes to work force issues, transportation and industry growth, and demand. For example, Glendale encompasses more than 6,000 firms, according to the report. Health care accounts for more than 12 percent of total employment in Glendale, which is higher than the Metro Phoenix area as a whole (9.1 percent), but is on par with other West Valley cities. The results also show that 19.6 percent of Glendale workers live and work in the city. The majority of other Glendale employees travel from Metro Phoenix (35.3 percent) and as many as 1.3 percent commute from Tucson.

In general, the study found there are more than 450,000 workers available to fill jobs for the right offer. In addition, there are growth and expansion opportunities in the industries of transportation, wholesale trade, traditional and non-store retail, as well as education. Regarding industry growth, health care leads the trend with a 6 percent growth rate. Construction and transportation/utilities follow closely with a 5 percent growth rate each, and retail in the West Valley has a 4 percent growth rate.

As part of the study, businesses were asked to rate their own work forces on a scale of one to seven, one representing the lowest productivity rating and seven the highest.Sixty-six percent of the area’s employers ranked their employees in one of the two highest categories.

Absenteeism is also a non-issue when it comes to West Valley workers as a whole. The majority of employers, 63 percent, reported that absenteeism is “not a significant problem” at their firms, and when absences do occur, 61 percent of employers reported that the cause is a legitimate illness with childcare.
Jack Lunsford, WESTMARC’s president and CEO, says ERISS Corporation did an excellent job with the study and the results have given them a course of action.



“We found that we have in the West Valley, even in this economy, a very large and qualified labor supply, and we still have some industries that are currently growing and that anticipate growth,” he says, adding that results also show West Valley communities need to implement a live/work/play strategy to avoid the problems with transportation issues.

Landis Elliott, business development director for House of Elliott, says the benefits of the study are numerous. “The study is a tool that the West Valley cities can use while working with potential locates to validate the high-quality employees we have in this region,” she says.

Onboarding Employees

The Critical Process Of Onboarding Your New Employees

You’ve sorted through stacks of resumes, interviewed the best and selected the perfect candidate. Now what? Once you’ve made the job offer and it has been accepted, it is time to start thinking about your onboarding process.

Onboarding is the term used to describe the process of integrating a new employee into your organization, and there are three steps to consider.

Be prepared
It is very unpleasant for an employee to show up to a new job, excited about the possibilities, and end up with the feeling that she was not expected and the company is surprised to see her. Since that is not the kind of surprise you want for your newest “most valuable asset,” it is important to prepare in advance for her arrival. Take into consideration such factors as:

The workspace — Is it properly equipped? Is it cleaned up, with the remnants of the prior occupant removed? Include a small “welcome” gift.

Name badge — If your staff wears name badges, be sure your new hire has one on her first day of work.

Time — Be sure the new hire’s manager has taken the necessary time to make introductions with co-workers. Your new hire should not be treated like he is an inconvenience to a busy schedule.

Welcome
Many employees make the decision about whether they are going to stay at their new organization within the first week. Since we only have a short period of time to make a good and lasting first impression, take these important steps to make him feel welcome:

Be sure your front desk personnel are trained to welcome new hires in the same way they welcome your customers. The welcome should say, “We’ve been expecting you and are glad you are here!”

Give your new hire a tour upon arrival. Be sure to point out the restrooms, drinking fountain, coffee maker, vending machines and break room, in addition to her workspace, the copier, supply room and other important rooms in your building. Remember, you want to make a good impression, so team her up with someone who is a great spokesperson for your organization.

The road to success
You want to set your new hire up for success from the start, so consider the following when laying out the roadmap for her first several months onboard:

If you have a formal job description, make sure your new hire receives a copy of it on her first day of work. The manager, or a co-worker who is knowledgeable about the job, should review the job duties and clearly define what is expected for each task. Define “success” up front, so your new hire knows what will be expected of her.

If the manager for the new hire is often in meetings or off-site, assign another “go to” person for your new hire. Since new hires decide early on if they are going to “fit” at this organization, it is important they feel comfortable asking questions and seeking assistance when needed.

We all have things to learn when starting a new job. Be sure your new hire is trained on all aspects of his job, from the mundane to the complex. Depending on your environment, it may be best to wait until a couple of days after the start of the new job to train on more complex matters. Give enough information for your new hire to go home loving his new job on the first day, and not so much information that he wonders how he will ever remember it.

Onboarding is a six-month to one-year process depending on the complexity of the work you do. Check in often with your new hire to make sure she has received the training she needs, has the proper equipment to do her job, understands your corporate culture and has made a few friends with whom she feels comfortable.

Since you have made a significant investment in selecting and hiring your newest “asset,” you want to do everything possible to get them onboard and keep them onboard. An effective onboarding process will set everyone on the right track.

Pizza Parlor

The Parlor Turns An Old Beauty Salon Into A Pizza Paradise

There are no hair dryers, manicure stands or various grooming products to be found at The Parlor, a new gourmet pizzeria in Phoenix, but the ghost of them remains.

The Parlor now occupies the long-time site of the Salon de Venus on 20th Street and Camelback Road. The co-owner of The Parlor, Nello’s Pizza scion Aric Mei, salvaged as much as he could from the old beauty salon for use in his new eatery. Using the wood from the original roof, Mei created a new bar, tables, wall treatments, a host stand and the front doors. From the steel of the salon’s old sprinkler system, Mei constructed a wine storage, fireplace, door handles, bar pendants, bench supports and various other items.

Mei took his recycling efforts one step further. When he found out that a restaurant across the street was being razed, he purchased the contents of the building and outfitted The Parlor with its booths, bar, kitchen equipment, faucets, sinks, flush valves, shelving and speakers.

His efforts at sustainability didn’t end there. Committed to utilizing solar technology on the restaurant, The Parlor installed a thermal solar system that supplies the building’s hot water. Mei says he has the plans and The Parlor has the dedicated space to eventually have a 10-kilowatt array of solar panels on the roof.

The resulting look is simple and streamlined without being oh-so-trendy. Hipsters, power lunchers, couples and families all have a place at The Parlor.

But enough of that; what about the food? In a word — great.

The Parlor combines simple and gourmet ingredients to create seemingly simple dishes that boast complex tastes. We started our evening at The Parlor with its meat and cheese selection appetizer. The meats are primarily ham, prosciutto and salami, paired with an array of hard and soft cheeses and served with grilled rosemary flatbread.

For the next course, we dove into the salad selections. The table settled on the Parlor Insalata with mixed greens, feta cheese, olives, cucumbers, tomatoes, crispy chickpeas, pepperoni and oregano dressing.

The Parlor also serves sandwiches and burgers, and like the décor, they are deceptively simple. For example, The Parlor’s version of a club sandwich features duck breast, apple wood smoked bacon and a red wine tomato jam. The Parlor also offers a limited but imaginative selection of pasta dishes. The pappardelle Bolognese has a hearty meat sauce and tender but firm noodles that had everyone raving.

But of course, the stars of The Parlor are the pizzas, which range from the exotic (wild mushrooms with goat cheese and truffle oil) to the familiar (pepperoni). The crusts are light and crunchy — the perfect foundation for the rest of the pie. We chose the salsiccia pizza, which is topped with a special Parlor sausage, grilled radicchio, sage and saba, a type of vinegar. The combination of ingredients was delightful and quickly won over my dining companions. We also ordered the pepperoni pizza just to see how they executed the pie.After all, as any chef will tell you, it’s the simple dishes that are the easiest to ruin. The Parlor hit it dead on. You can also create your own pizza from a list of toppings. I put together goat cheese, rock shrimp and prosciutto for my pizza. My companions opted not to try my creation, which was fine with me because I loved it and got to eat it all by myself.

If you have room for dessert, make sure you pick The Parlor’s chocolate cake with Italian cherries, vanilla cream and chocolate sauce. Hey, if you ate a whole pizza, you might as well grab dessert.

    If You Go:
    The Parlor
    1916 E. Camelback Road, Phoenix
    (602) 248-2480