Wages up, but not much

The average hourly wages for Northeast Ohio workers in the manufacturing industry have increased from 2000, but not as much as was projected a year ago, according to the Employers Resource Council (ERC) 2001 Wage Survey Report. The survey reports data for 14,989 employees in 99 positions from 241 Northeast Ohio organizations.

The average hourly rate for manufacturing workers rose a little more than 2 percent in 2001, to $12.61 per hour. The projected wage budget increase was 3.7 percent, less than last year. Average minimum hiring rates remained stable at $8.56 per hour, as did rates for most positions in the industry. For example, the average rate for a receiving and shipping clerk increased 2 percent, to $12.10 per hour. Warehouse workers, assemblers and maintenance workers all saw similar increases.

Some positions saw more significant changes — maintenance electricians (4 percent) and production workers (6 percent) received better than average wage increases in 2001.

Mixing up a cure

Vita-Mix Corp., the Olmsted Falls-based high-end blender manufacturer, donated eight Vita-Mix Super 5000 blenders and an undisclosed amount of cash to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation Northeast Ohio Race for the Cure. The race committee distributed the $450 machines to local corporate sponsors to use as top prizes in fund-raising raffles, with proceeds benefiting the race. The revenue goal for this year’s race is $1 million.

Just visiting

The Convention & Visitors Bureau of Greater Cleveland reports that 21,210 people will visit the area this month for a convention or meeting, spending an estimated $63 million. Last month, 20,257 visited, pumping $29 million into the economy, the CVB reported.

Some of the larger conventions this month include the Internal Revenue Service with attendance of 1,200; the Ohio Society of Certified Public Accountants with 1,000; and the Association of Iron & Steel Engineers with 15,000 attendees.

Tumbling into Cleveland

USA Gymnastics will host the U.S. Championships in Cleveland next year Aug. 7-10. The event includes the men’s and women’s artistic championships, to be held at Gund Arena and televised on NBC. The rhythmic, trampoline and tumbling championships will be held at Cleveland Public Hall. The USA Gymnastics National Congress, a conference and trade show, will take place simultaneously at the Cleveland Convention Center and is expected to attract 2,000 visitors and pump $7 million in the local economy.

Credit consolidation

The Akron Consumer Credit Counseling Service (CCCS), part of Family Services, joined with CCCS in Canton and Cleveland to form a Northeastern Ohio network of Consumer Credit Counseling Services Inc. The newly merged CCCS provides services in debt management, mortgage counseling, credit report reviews and money management workshops. CCCS is a nonprofit community service established in 1955.

After the hire

So you think after you’ve taken the time and trouble to fill a vacant position that your work is done? Not so. It’s up to you to help the new employee through the transition period. Here are some tips from Peter Cairo, executive coach and partner at CDR International, a national consulting firm.

1. Clarify your expectations up front. Don’t assume your new employee knows exactly what he or she has been hired to do. It’s not likely the employee will ask, either. Many companies provide written job description, but don’t rely on that. Go over your expectations point by point.

2. Don’t assume qualifications equal success. Different people have different strengths. Watch for signs of weakness and begin coaching right away to solve these problems.

3. Discuss “big picture” topics like overall company strategy, market share and projections for your company’s future. Never assume the new hire already knows the basics, even if that person is coming from a different area of your company. Knowledge and culture differ from department to department.

4. Discuss those who will affect the employee’s job. Be up front about difficult personalities and offer specific suggestions for building solid relationships with key people.

5. Be honest about pitfalls and mistakes. Talk to your new hire about former employees who quit or were fired and explain what went wrong and why. These are the lessons they will remember most.

6. Hold transition reviews. During the first six months, hold monthly meetings with your new hire to review performance and ask for feedback. Knowing this meeting is coming will help both of you stay focused on the transition.

Less drive, less money

According to a recent survey, 36 percent of workers say they’d be willing to take a pay cut — of 10 percent or more — in return for a shorter commute to and from work. In a CareerBuilder poll of more than 2,000 people, one-third describe their commutes as stressful.

While most report their commutes are between 30 and 59 minutes, 35 percent say they have trips between work and home of more than one hour. Eighty-one percent use a personal motor vehicle vs. other means of transportation.
Phasing out that annoying intercom page

If you thought your employees were simply using instant messaging to converse with friends, perhaps you haven’t noticed a recent change. It was only a year ago when the bulk of instant messaging communications was between friends frittering away time at work.

Today, however more workplaces are turning to instant messaging as a viable tool for communications. A recent survey by InsightExpress found that 20 percent of all instant messaging occurs at the workplace and is used for getting the job done, not talking to friends. The study shows that employees are using it to drop clients a quick note or shoot fellow staff members short memos.

Truly progressive

Yours Truly once again is leading the way in innovation among restaurants in Northeast Ohio. For 20 years, the Cleveland-based chain has proclaimed its restaurants provide a good working environment and has attracted quality hospitality employees.

Now the restaurant chain is taking yet another step, offering employees a 401(k) retirement plan. Explains Larry Shibley, Yours Truly partner, “We wanted to give our employees the same opportunity to save on a pre-tax basis as they would in any other profession. Through our 401(k) plan, we’re able to offer our employees the same benefits that they would receive working at a larger company.”

Not ready for the pasture yet

Tom Woodworth knows the value of hiring experienced senior workers. Woodworth retired last year from Vocational Guidance Services and now volunteers one day a week as a business counselor for SCORE, helping younger would-be entrepreneurs get their companies up and running. But he isn’t ready to lie back and accept retirement just yet. He recently co-founded a small dot-com,

“A lot of employers realize the value of the older worker in times of a tight labor market,” Woodworth says. “The site offers no charge to the job seekers and a modest $50 per job posting for 30 days to the employer.”

What do you mean, I can’t hear it in Cleveland?

Timothy Curtiss, COO of Beachwood-based Wall Street Investor Relations Corp., is hosting a new weekly radio show devoted to investment topics. “What’s Happening” will air Wednesdays at 9 a.m. in Phoenix, Ariz., and Providence, R.I., and Curtiss will interview Wall Street professionals and senior corporate executives and offer insight about investment issues.

Oddly, though, his home base is in Cleveland, but no local radio station has yet picked up “What’s Happening.” But all is not lost. The show will be broadcast via the Internet at

But I can hear this one

Sales guru Tom Scully, president of The Training Center, started his own radio show on WERE/1300 AM in August, sharing nontraditional sales approach tips from 6:05 to 7 a.m. during “Up Your Sales.” Scully, whose Chagrin Falls-based business trains sales managers and sales representatives to increase closing rates, will share strategy ideas and proven selling techniques.

Hey, they’ve got Norwegian Gjetost!

Just as many business-to-consumer Internet retailers are finding themselves out of their proverbial lifelines, Sean Sullivan is gaining momentum. Sullivan is president and founder of, a Cleveland-based online gourmet specialty food vendor, and unlike recent dogs in the marketplace, he’s doing things the right way. Sullivan’s fulfillment partner is locally based, and it warehouses on site all the items sells.

“We don’t have to try to piece together an order from warehouses all over the country,” he says. “It’s all right here.”

More important, Sullivan, a 15-year veteran of the food industry, is not looking to explode overnight.

“We’re going to take things slow and build business the old-fashioned way — by reputation and grass-roots marketing.”