If you’re like other business owners, you’ve probably been thinking about the challenges that will face your business this year. SBN Magazine asked a handful of Akron business owners what their biggest challenge will be this year for their business. Compare their answers to yours.

Dan Lanser, president of A Plus Travel Adventure, says he will be challenged by the uncertainty in the economy in the coming year, but that it has not had an effect on his business thus far.

Robert Jacob, president of A+ Signs and Graphics, says he faces the challenge of finding good, competent outside sales people.

Pamela Roberts, president of Advanced Healing Therapies Inc., feels she will need to increase her business via word of mouth.

James Moore, president of Moore Design, says 2001 will bring challenges in the area of maintaining constant business because much of the current plastic mold design work is being sent to foreign markets.

Cecile Bush, president of The Gold Clipper, says she will be faced with meeting company goals of expansion and growth equal to that of previous years.

A recognizable reputation

For Akron’s Bridgestone/Firestone, it’s a time of celebration and hardship. This year, the company is celebrating its 100th year in business, at the same time as it deals with a product recall of unprecedented proportions.

Bridgestone/Firestone Information Services, a local, yet separate branch of Bridgestone/Firestone, has also faced challenges brought on by the negative publicity surrounding the tire recall. While BFIS has the full financial backing of the Bridgestone/Firestone Corp. — a $15 billion international corporation — the connection has also had a negative effect.

“Having name recognition, that was a plus, but it has been a double-edged sword,” says Dennis Saralino, who says BFIS has felt the sting from the negative press.

Ten years ago, BFIS branched out to serve external companies, such as FedEx, Credit Unions. The division is staffed by technical teams who specialize in managing software installations, conversions and upgrades, and application performance tuning. BFIS also offers high volume laser printing services from a data center that operates around the clock.

“It is the best kept secret,” claims Saralino. “It has incredible firepower.”