Tag Archives: Business

Elman Print

September 8, 2017 by
Photography by Katie Anderson

This sponsored content appeared in the Fall 2017 edition of B2B. To view, click here: https://issuu.com/omahapublications/docs/bb1117_final_flipbook/38

Mark Elman is direct when explaining how Elman Print has managed to be successful for more than 40 years in the printing business. “It wasn’t me or my parents that made us successful,” he said. “It was our fantastic clients and dedicated employees.”

Elman’s parents, Dick and Alice, started Elman Print in 1977. Mark joined the company in 1991 and purchased it in 1995 when his parents retired. The company began in a 3,000-square foot building at 27th and Leavenworth streets. “We had seven employees total and we were bumping into each other,” Elman remembers. In 2001, they built a 10,000-square foot building, and they moved into a 24,500-square foot building in 2011. This time, they purchased adjacent land, so when the time comes for further expansion they are ready for it.

Elman Print boasts many longtime clients. “We have dozens of accounts that were with us when I took over in 1995,” says Elman. “Our goal is to keep a customer forever as a valued business partner.” Customers remain loyal because of the great service, high quality printing and ever-expanding services. Elman staff  keep a close eye on the quality of products by producing projects in-house. “That lets us maintain the quality our clients expect as well as maintain the control of deadlines which must be met,” he said.

Things run smoothly at Elman Print because of the team-oriented feeling fostered throughout the company. “Everyone works together.  We’re like family,” says Elman. 

“I love our staff, I pray for them and our customers every week at church.”

The culture of the company is one of hard work and teamwork. “The younger staff members rely on the veterans to show them the way we like things done here,” said Elman. “We have a great mix of seasoned and younger staff and they all work together with the common goal of making our clients look great.” We recently celebrated our first employee with 40 years of service. “When we hire a great employee, we don’t want to let them leave.”

Elman Print continues to add services and capabilities as printing technologies evolve. Their customer base stretches from the Omaha metro across the country. “We partner with financial institutions, universities, marketing firms as well as large and small companies. “We handle direct mail campaigns including mailing services, annual reports, marketing materials, and invitation packages—if it’s on paper we can make it work,” says Elman. “We strive daily to meet and exceed quality expectations and delivery times.”

The printing business has changed dramatically since Elman Print first opened their doors, but they are dedicated to staying ahead of these innovations and seeking out better processes.  Elman admits that running a successful business isn’t always simple, “But when it comes down to it, nothing beats hard work.” Elman leads by example and the team reciprocates with dedication and willingness to put in the same effort day in and day out.

Hard work and appreciated employees combined with satisfied clients equal success for this
Omaha mainstay.

6210 S. 118th St.
Omaha, NE 68137
402.346.0888
elmanprint.com

Getting Down to Business in India

August 24, 2017 by
Photography by Anthony Flott

Take a bus ride through the traffic-jammed, people-packed, animal-filled, and trash-cluttered streets of Delhi, and it won’t take long to realize that the way business is done in India is not exactly how it happens in Omaha.

Or anywhere else in the United States, for that matter.

That is one of the many lessons a group of University of Nebraska-Omaha students learned during a trip there in March. Day after day they witnessed vignettes of Indians at work that they never see back home:

  • A street vendor in a blood-stained shirt snatching live chickens from a cage, then butchering them for workers purchasing meat for dinner on their way home.
  • A work elephant lumbering along the shoulder of a busy road, laden with bamboo logs.
  • Men in fields making bricks by hand in small kilns.
  • Families salvaging wood, metal, and other materials from half-built, but long-abandoned, buildings.
  • This was no party-filled spring break on the beach. Rather, it was an exclusive opportunity to study the world’s fastest-growing economy of 1.3 billion people—two-thirds of them 35 and younger.

According to the World Bank, India’s GDP in 2015 was $2.1 trillion, an eightfold increase since 1991, when it loosened its economic policies, spurring private and foreign investment. Such growth helped drop the percentage of Indians living below the national poverty line from a mind-blowing 45 percent in 1993 to a (still staggering) 22 percent in 2011. In the United States, that number was 15.9 percent in 2011.

India right now is a major player in the world economy—and its financial clout is likely to increase.

It is critical, then, that U.S. companies understand the who, what, where, when, why, and how of business in India. That was the goal of the UNO students who traveled there as a capstone to their class, “Business & Social Action in India.” UNO Professor Patrick McNamara taught the class and led the trip, his 12th to that country since 1991. His class was a mix of undergraduate and graduate students, most from UNO’s College of Business Administration. A handful are employed at Omaha companies, including Lozier, Hudl, First National Bank of Omaha, and Northwest Bank, that stand to gain from what those students learned.

“While the time was limited, this did provide some important insights into the business culture, the complexities, and the opportunities of India,” McNamara says. “India is overwhelming—sensory overload, tensions, and kindness at every turn. To effectively do business in India, you have to be open to these paradoxes and not intimidated to dive in and fully immerse yourself in the culture. The Indians will trust you more if you do.”

Prior to the trip students studied Indian politics, society, culture, and U.S.-India relations. The real learning, though, came almost immediately after landing at Indira Gandhi International Airport and arriving at their host site, the campus of the Institute of Management Technology (IMT) in Ghaziabad, one of India’s top business schools.

That began a whirlwind of lectures and Q&As with some of the country’s brightest business minds. IMT faculty led the way, providing insights into Indian consumers, social values, human resources management systems, and “Making Sense of the Indian Workplace.”

Next came Siva Nagarajan, managing director for Mother Dairy Fruit & Vegetables, an India Fortune 500 company. Among the company’s innovations is providing milk dispensers at stores to which customers bring their own containers and fill only with what they need. The practice saves 4 tons of packaging materials each day.

Nagarajan also gave a detailed overview of India’s corporate social responsibility government mandate requiring companies to spend 2 percent of their net profit on social development.

“Philanthropy is becoming the flavor of the day,” says Nagarajan, whose talk spurred much conversation within the UNO contingent.

UNO MBA student Andy Max, an asset/liability market risk manager at First National Bank of Omaha, says the mandate pushes companies to build on the foundation of India.

“I found it refreshing to see the pride they have for the sustainability of their country and how willing they are to invest in the future of India,” Max says.

The group also visited the home of B. K. Goswami, chairman of the Gupta Charitable Foundation and uncle to Vin Gupta, founder and former CEO of Omaha-based Infogroup. Later, at the U.S. Embassy’s American Center, First Secretary Matthew Asada provided insights into India’s demonetization of the 500 and 1,000 rupee notes, a possible first step toward a cashless society. India is attempting to demonetize 85 percent of their currency and use a combination of two systems, one that uses a biometric database to show proof of identity and “India Stack,” a secure, digitized system that allows Indians to store and share personal data, including money.

Visits also were made to the corporate offices of Businessworld Magazine and Betaout, an analytics startup that provides e-commerce help for companies. Betaout founder and CEO Ankit Maheshwari spoke to the students inside a glass-walled meeting room. On the other side, most of the company’s nearly 80 workers typed away on laptops or held discussions in small pods throughout the cubicle-free office. Their average salary—$1,500 to $2,000 a month—is nothing near what similar IT workers would get in the U.S. ($5,000-$8,000), but at least they are working—given its “youth bulge,” India needs to create 1 million new jobs each month.

No matter where the UNO contingent went, hospitality was the order of the day with offers of tea, water, cookies, potato chips, donuts, and freshly made samosas.

“The business meetings we experienced in India have a social-heavy aspect to them relative to the U.S.,” Max says. “Not only [in] the conversation but also the refreshments. Food and drink appeared in every business setting, and our hosts insisted we fill our plates.”

UNO students also toured one of five orphanages run by Salaam Baalak Trust to help the nearly 400,000 children who live on Delhi streets.

Other business lessons came throughout the journey. Like how to haggle for anything and everything: a group lunch at a buffet restaurant; taxi fare; souvenirs; or help with bags at the airport. While walking, Max also learned that if you are a street vendor, watch out for monkeys—having watched one swipe two juice boxes from a vendor, then run up a tree and guzzle them.

The monkey was just one of many reminders that India ain’t home. Much of Delhi has a post-apocalyptic motif worthy of a Terminator film—throughout the city is building after building partially constructed but since abandoned; rusted rebar protrudes from the top of the last-completed concrete floor. The roads are a chiropractor’s dream, and traffic signals and rules are seemingly nonexistent. Rubbish-filled rivers reek. Several times the group passed what at first was mistaken for a mountain—the world’s largest landfill. Roaming freely are lots of cattle and stray dogs, with more than a few rats.

There is also lots of optimism.

You could see that in the smiles and spirit of IMT students, who frequently engaged their UNO counterparts in lengthy conversations on far-ranging topics, including banking, government corruption, open markets, Pakistan, pop culture, and—perhaps their favorite topic—
President Trump.

Delhi might not always be pretty, but business is getting done there and throughout India.

“I can’t wait to see how the fastest-growing global economy will impact the world over the next 10 years with their substantial talent pool,” Max says.

Tips for Doing Business in India

Conducting business in India? Keep these tips in mind:

  • Do give a handshake and a small bow when meeting someone.
  • Do learn the eating etiquette of your destination in India. Don’t be surprised that many Indians eat with their hands in urban and rural settings. Also, don’t hesitate to request a spoon and fork when dining (if you are uncomfortable eating with your fingers).
  • Don’t wear clothing that is
    too tight (women).
  • Don’t give hugs or kisses.
  • Do present a business card by holding it with both hands.
  • Do consider downloading WhatsApp, a smartphone messaging app used by more than 65 million Indians, including most businessmen (the country topped 1 billion cell phone users in 2016).

This article published in the Fall 2017 edition of B2B.

Growing Companies for Life

August 23, 2017 by

Isn’t it interesting to think about company longevity?

I remember hearing that if a small firm can make it seven years then it has a good chance of surviving and prospering. I think this is from the Small Business Administration.

On the other hand, one study from the Santa Fe Institute says that public companies live, on average, only about 10 years.

According to a 2012 report, the average lifespan of a S&P 500 Index company has decreased from 67 years in the 1920s to 15 years.

What makes some companies endure and others not? A fascinating article in Inc. by Bo Burlingham, “How to Build a Company That Will Be Around in 2115,“ gives us some insights. Sometimes, it has to do with the founder’s intentions.

Burlingham distinguishes between owners who think about building to sell versus building to last. In firms that are built to sell, the mentality is to get investors, grow as fast as possible, make as much money as possible to pay back the investors and make oneself rich, and then get the heck out of Dodge. It’s all about the money and having
an exit-strategy.

In firms that are built to last, owners and investors think about purpose, people, and culture. Yes, money and profitability are important, but it is just one part of the puzzle, not the only driving force. The real point is being passionate about an idea, spending days working with great people, and building a place to work that elevates employees to do their best for their customers. There is a long-term perspective as described by one entrepreneur when asked about an exit strategy, “My exit strategy is to be rolled out of my office on a gurney.“

When companies are built to last, they focus on enduring values. These values are imbued into the fabric of the organization. They become ingrained in all employees, and guide senior and new employees in their everyday actions. The specific values are not surprising. They are ethical values like honesty, integrity, and fair deals. These values are not merely abstract words on a wall but are used during strategy sessions, in team meetings, and when
making decisions.

Enduring values are those things that are most important to us. They cut across time and place. They tie people together, creating a shared purpose. Leaders use them to grow companies for life.

Beverly Kracher, Ph.D., is the executive director of the Business Ethics Alliance and the Daugherty Chair in Business Ethics and Society at Creighton University.

Great Scot!

Photography by Bill Sitzmann

He began serving as the vice president of LGBTQ+ advocacy organization Heartland Pride last fall, but David Kerr hails from nowhere near Nebraska. The Glasgow, Scotland, native followed love to Omaha in 2013, and although his relationship ended, his business venture, The Tavern, blossomed in the heart of the Old Market. Today, Kerr jokes about printing cards to answer the daily question of how and why he ended up in the middle of America, but maintains he’s found a good fit in his adopted city.

“Omaha is hugely supportive of young entrepreneurs and business startups, and they have a sense of community here that you would never find anywhere else to nurture someone like that,” he says. Kerr prides himself on running an inclusive establishment that welcomes all; he’s even one of the first locally to offer gender-neutral bathrooms.

In turn, his business supports numerous nonprofits by serving as an event venue, participating in giving program Together A Greater Good (TAGG), and even directly supporting fundraising efforts. Kerr’s interest in giving back to the community began an ocean away, but one particular cause will always be close.

David Kerr

“Before I called Omaha my home, I volunteered for an LGBTQ+ organization in London called ‘The Albert Kennedy Trust,’ and they did some incredible work. And it really gave me an appetite to work for change no matter where I am,” he says.

The 1969 Stonewall riots are largely regarded as the catalyst that brought forth the U.S. gay pride movement. Heartland Pride’s official beginnings trace back to 1985. It’s a better world today for most LGBTQ+ people, Kerr says, but there’s still work to be done.

“Since then it’s remained crucial to our community to remain visible and proud. It’s easy to get complacent when we make strides,” he says. “For the gay community, it’s still relevant because honoring and celebrating our culture is still relevant.”

Dozens of countries around the world still criminalize same-sex activities, Kerr points out, and in eight countries death is a legal punishment.

“It’s important to remember the tradition of honoring those who went before us, the ones who were denied their human rights, and the ones who physically lost their lives as well. It’s important to still get out and be proud to honor those lives and shine a beacon of hope to people around the world. There are people who are suffering way more than people here in the United States,” he says. “We’re not acing it here by any means, but at least we’re making strides.

Allies should take notice, too, he adds. Locals may associate Heartland Pride with its annual June parade and surrounding events, but it’s also an important fundraiser for the nonprofit—run completely by volunteer efforts—whose activities include a scholarship program, a community action grant, and several youth programs.

“It’s obvious in this political climate that anyone’s rights can be called into question at any point by any government, and that’s not just true for the United States. Things are not static; they’re constantly moving, so we need to remain proud and visible so that no one ever does infringe upon our rights again,” Kerr says. “And that’s true for many communities, not just LGBT.”

Visit heartlandpride.org for more information about Omaha’s LGBTQ+ community.

This article appears as part of the September/October 2017 edition of Encounter Magazine.

Fair Deal Village MarketPlace

Photography by Sarah Lemke

As a child, Terri Sanders visited the original Fair Deal Cafe on 24th Street with her father to eat breakfast or lunch, and experience a vibrant North Omaha.

Sanders says the cafe, known from the ’40s to ’70s as Omaha’s “Black City Hall,” was a popular meeting spot for politicians and local African-American leaders.

Now community leaders say the Fair Deal Village MarketPlace, a recently completed $2.4 million economic development project built on the footprint of the café, will increase commuter traffic and dramatically change the North 24th Street business corridor.

“The businesses are successful, and again—it’s a revitalization,” says Sanders, 59, a member of the Omaha Economic Development Corp. and the development’s site manager. “You never return to what it was, but you can certainly revitalize it and go forward into the future.”

OEDC partnered with Omaha-based architecture firm Alley Poyner Macchietto for the project, which was built between March 22 and Dec. 3, 2016. OEDC is a nonprofit that benefits North Omaha, which has a history of poverty and other socio-economic hardships.

Officials also are branding the development, located at 2118 N. 24th St., as an entertainment and arts district. In addition to a reinvented Fair Deal Cafe, the development includes the Fair Deal Grocery Market and eight Omaha-based artisanal businesses. The grocery store, which focuses on healthy foods, is open seven days a week, and the Fair Deal Cafe is closed on Mondays.

“It brings positive [change] to the corridor,” Sanders says. “These businesses provide not just economic development for the business owners, but it also provides jobs to support them.”

The other eight tenants include: Hand of Gold, a nail salon; Fashun Freak, a women’s clothing and accessory store; ABE (All Black Everything), a men’s contemporary clothing store; LikNu Boutique, a women’s clothing and accessory store; Mike’s Custom Creations, a custom shoe and cleaning business; Divine Nspirations, a Christian gift shop; It’z Poppin, a gourmet popcorn shop; and D-Marie Hair Boutique, a hair salon.

“I think by virtue of the businesses located there, it’s an artist area,” Sanders says. “It’s a historical district—first of all—and arts and culture are a part of that.”

But here’s the twist:

The majority of the development, just south of 24th and Burdette streets, is constructed via an arrangement of shipping containers. The seemingly unusual approach to building the structure is becoming a popular trend across the world.

“I think the container concept, in itself, is unique. We’re the first [commercial] container site in the State of Nebraska,” Sanders says. “It’s an economical way to provide retail spaces to businesses that were either home-based or internet-based on a consistent basis.”

More than 50 commercial spaces created from containers exist across the United States, Canada, Europe, Africa, and even Australia. Experts say the model effectively ups foot traffic. The alternative structure serves as a cost-effective and durable approach to community redevelopment.

Each container at the Omaha marketplace is fitted with heating and air conditioning, Sanders says. Six of them are 8-by-20 feet, and two are 16-by-20 feet. She also says the visual appeal of the development has increased foot traffic on North 24th Street.

“I noticed when there are activities at the Union [for Contemporary Arts], there are people that come down to the Fair Deal to eat and shop,” she says.

James Thele, planning director with the City of Omaha, describes the project as a solid foundation for future economic development along North 24th Street.

“We envisioned, as a community, North 24th Street as being an arts and entertainment center,” says Thele, who pointed to the nearby Union for Contemporary Arts.

The city’s contributions to the project included a $370,000 federal community development block grant and $195,000 in tax increment financing—or TIF, a common incentive that allows developers to use a portion of future property taxes to cover initial costs.

City officials also acquired an adjacent property to the marketplace, which will be converted into a parking lot connected to the new entertainment district.

Edward Dantzler, a city development section manager, says the 35-space lot will include two handicap accessible stalls. In total, the lot will cost $370,000, with completion in May.

“The parking lot and stalls will be reserved for the Fair Deal project,” Dantzler says.

Thele says while it’s “hard to argue” about the benefits of jobs and new business in North Omaha, it is important to see other prospects of the development.

“It attracts attention,” Thele says. “It creates a buzz, and that’s important.”

Sanders says further revitalization on 24th Street will help North Omaha continue to grow and become a destination for visitors throughout the city.

“And even though we’ve not been open six months, I’m starting to see that vibrance returning to the community,” she says.

Visit oedc.info for more information.

This article was printed in the Summer 2017 edition of B2B.

With A Beard and a Smile

Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Walking into Lookout Lounge is a different experience than entering other music venues around Omaha. Admittedly, it feels a little strange driving into a business plaza just south of 72nd and Dodge streets for a punk show. But what distinguishes Lookout (formerly The Hideout) is more than just location. It is the bearded man sitting at the entryway, checking IDs and working on his laptop, that sets this venue apart.

Raised in Copperas Cove, Texas, Kyle Fertwagner knew from a young age that his destiny lay in music. At 6 years old, he was mesmerized by blues concerts in nearby Austin. “Those experiences are ingrained in my memory. There were thousands of people out there enjoying music, sharing that common bond of whatever that music meant to them.”

By the time he moved to Omaha at age 15, he and his younger brother, Keith, were playing together in punk bands. They got their start at The Cog Factory. Like many area music fans, Kyle is eager to share fond memories of that nonprofit venue, which closed in 2002. “That was our stomping grounds,” he says. “That’s where I basically grew up as a musician, as a punk rocker, as a person.” Before their first show at The Cog Factory, Fertwagner recalls that the owners greeted the band and “it just immediately felt like home.”

Recreating that welcoming DIY vibe is what drove him to quit his job as general manager of a local restaurant and take over The Hideout in 2015. Keith had already learned how to work sound systems, and Kyle had learned how to run a business from years in the restaurant industry.

With “a little TLC” and a lot of elbow grease, the brothers made the place their own. Kyle proudly showcases a sign from the original Cog Factory over the pool table. Next to it is the hand-painted mural featuring the venue’s name and the radio tower logo that has become an Omaha icon. Endless layers of screen-printed posters paper Lookout’s walls, and concert-goers have enthusiastically decorated the bathrooms with a vibrant collection of friendly graffiti.

Kyle describes himself as “owner/operator,” but upon attending a show at his venue it is immediately apparent that he does much more than the typical owner. Besides personally welcoming patrons into shows and tending bar, he works the lights and often shadows his brother on sound. But before any of that can happen, “it starts with the band.”

When asked about his work with local promoters and artists, Kyle can’t quite hold back a grin. Lookout is known around Omaha as a starting point for bands that have never played in public before. Its owner is the main reason for this reputation. His voice softens when asked about his role in helping young local artists get their music off the ground: “I think it’s important when you’re first starting out to have a venue you can call home.” This determination to give back to the music community makes Lookout special.

Kyle’s unique philosophy on booking shows is “to not try to take everything on ourselves.” This means more cooperation between venue staff, bands, and promoters. “It’s a team effort.” The additional networking and communication is more work, but well worth it.

From his days in small punk bands growing up, he knows the obstacles and struggles of getting a band onstage. This knowledge helps him guide others through the process.“We try to use our experience to help younger bands grow,” Kyle says. “That’s good for everybody.” He is always happy to reach out to local promoters and say “we’d love to work with you.”

When Kyle works to foster those relationships to put a show together, that’s when the energy of the DIY venue is created. “It’s ‘Alright, cool, we did it, we sold the place out!’ Instead of ‘I sold the place out.’ It’s more of an ‘us’ thing.” Shows that are assembled with teamwork are more rewarding for the band, everyone behind the scenes, and the audience. Those packed concerts are a staple of Lookout’s imprint on the musical community.

After taking care of the band, Kyle’s next focus is his role as head of security. At any show, he can be seen roaming around the audience, keeping out a watchful eye for any sign of trouble. He accepts personal responsibility in creating a positive energy at Lookout, and takes the security of the audience very seriously: “People shouldn’t feel unwelcome here for any reason.”

In order to ensure that everyone feels welcome, anyone exhibiting abusive behavior of any kind will be personally warned and, if need be, escorted out by Kyle himself. He is quick to explain, “Anything that happens here I take to be a personal reflection on me.”

Visit lookoutomaha.com for more information.

This article was printed in the September/October 2017 edition of Encounter Magazine.

Kyle Fertwagner

Brush With Greatness

August 3, 2017 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

People don’t spend much time contemplating the products made by Omaha’s NAGL Manufacturing Company, but many certainly depend on them. Consider NAGL’s top product, the humble nail polish brush. When people apply a fresh coat of color to their toenails or fingernails, they typically think about the polish’s hue and brand, but it is rare to stop and consider the origin or merit of the tiny little brush that applies the paint to make one’s digits pop.

Anyone who has used nail polish in the past 80-plus years has almost certainly used a NAGL-made brush. Carl J. Nagl started the company in the mid 1930s in its original location near Johnny’s Cafe in South Omaha.

“We produce [brushes] for all the major nail polish brands,” says Erica McDonald, controller at NAGL. “NAGL used to make a wider variety of cosmetic brushes, but now we primarily do nail polish brushes and anything that might look like a nail polish brush but is used to apply something else.”

NAGL, currently the world’s largest supplier of nail enamel brushes, produces brushes and/or bottles for beloved brands like CoverGirl, OPI, Revlon, Avon, L’oreal, Sally Hansen, Maybelline, and many others.

“Every nail polish brand, really,” McDonald confirms.

While you would not think of a nail polish brush as a product requiring forward thinking, NAGL does their own development, like their flow-through brush, as well as customizing and creating per customer request. It might not happen daily, but they have created brushes for Essie’s gel couture bottle with a twisted design and Christian Louboutin’s striking, stiletto-esque bottle toppers.

“We are happy to accommodate customer-driven changes that allow for their own take on a brush or product,” McDonald says. “Customers come to us with an idea in mind, then we show them what’s possible within their budget and limitations. We like to give them the flexibility to do whatever they want.”

The company, currently located at 36th and Martha streets, changed hands several times and was eventually purchased in 2003 by Team Technology Inc., which helped NAGL branch into medical, dental, and automotive markets.       

In addition to making 2.5 million brushes every single day, NAGL annually produces more than 84 million oral swabs for use in medical facilities. The company also creates brushes for automotive touch-up paint, model kits, super glue, and antifungal solutions, plus caps, bottles, packaging solutions, a vibrating flosser, and more.    

“If you’d asked me before I started here, I would’ve guessed that this nail polish bottle, cap, and brush came from China,” McDonald says. “But it comes from Omaha, Nebraska. It’s kind of wild that these everyday products that you rely on to enhance your beauty come from here—much less this residential neighborhood.”   

In addition to being made-in-the-USA, the company prides itself on its sustainability practices.

“We distill 100 percent of our acetone and lacquer, and recycle the sludge that remains from distillation. This saves nearly 6,000 gallons of these hazardous substances from going into landfills each year and remains well below EPA requirements,” McDonald says. “We also reduced our waste output by 50 percent, starting in 2014, by implementing a full-facility recycling program. With a very plastics-heavy operation, it’s very important to protect the health and sustainability of our environment.”

Despite changes in ownership and product lines over the years, McDonald says NAGL remains a workplace that inspires employee loyalty. McDonald’s predecessor was with NAGL for 35 years, and human resources manager June Jones has worked there since the 1960s.

“It’s neat to work somewhere you’re actually making the product that you’re selling,” McDonald says. “You get more invested, and our team’s involved in the entire process.” 

Visit naglmfg.com for more information.

This article was printed in the Summer 2017 edition of B2B.

Vintage Charm Restored

July 10, 2017 by

As the saying goes, one woman’s trash is another woman’s treasure. Last year, I struck gold with two vintage chairs that I uncovered during a thrifting trip.

The find just goes to show how little things can bring the greatest joys in life. Looking at these chairs in the thrift shop, I could already see how to revive them with a little work and creative thinking.

Normally, I have a rule for thrifting: Always designate space for a piece of furniture before dragging it home. But these chairs were an exception. Home with me they came.

They sat in a spare bedroom until I decided how to incorporate them into my year-long Omaha Home room remodeling project.

With this particular installment of the project, I wanted to achieve a classic look (with a little glamour added, of course). That’s where the white and gold paint came into play for the color scheme.

Choosing the right fabric would either make or break the look I was trying to achieve. Just throwing any old material on them was not going to work. I wanted something timeless, classic, and durable enough to stand the test of time.

I have many different pieces I’m bringing together for this entire year-long project. Each component will bring something unique stylistically to the room. Don’t be afraid to mix and match different styles and textures; it adds more interest to the room.

DIRECTIONS:

There are several steps that you need to get right when staining or painting wooden furniture. These steps ensure that all of your hard work pays off, and you can then proudly display your piece. You cannot skip the important prepping steps.

Prepping

Step 1—If you have a seat cushion on your chair, remove that first. Save the old fabric and cushion for later.

Step 2—Sand the chair until you remove all the glossy finish. This will allow the paint to better adhere to the chair.

Step 3—Use a tack cloth to remove all the sanded paint/material from the surface.

Step 4—Prime. I used a spray primer, which was easier to get in all of the detailed parts of this chair. Make sure each coat of primer is a light layer, almost dusting it. This way, your chair won’t suffer from paint runs. You may want to sand between coats if you are seeking a super-smooth finish. Also, using the correct paint is very important. Latex paint worked best for me.

Step 5—Use your hand sponge applicator to get your paint in all the hard-to-access areas and detailed spots. Once you have done this, you can take your foam roller to cover the entire piece. Go over the chair several times (or until you feel there is good coverage).

Step 6—If you are doing a detailed accent color, first make sure all your paint is dry. Then tape off the selected area and use a small brush for all detail work. I used what I had on hand—gold spray paint—but I sprayed it into an old cup and dipped my brush into that. You can also buy a small bottle from a craft store if you require a smaller amount.

Step 7 (optional)—Apply a top coat to seal the paint on the chair. I skipped this step and used a semi-gloss finish instead.

Step 8—Now for your cushion. Remove all the old staples from your chair cushion. You can use a flathead screwdriver and then pull them out with needle-nose pliers. Once the old fabric is off, determine if you need to replace the batting material or foam cushion. Mine was still intact, so I went to the next step.

Step 8—Cut out a piece of new fabric large enough that will wrap around the seat of your chair; leave about three inches of material (you will trim it off later). Or you can use the old piece of material as a template, allowing a few inches all the way around. Lay the seat cushion facedown on your material. Starting on one side, grab the material in the middle and wrap it around the cushion, pulling tightly, and place a staple in the middle.

Then do the opposite side, pulling tightly to the middle and placing a staple. Work your way around each side until you just have the corners left.

Step 9—Grasp one corner of your cover and pull the point toward the center of the seat cushion, staple. Arrange the remaining unstapled corner fabric into small even pleats, pulling tightly, and staple. Repeat this until all corners are complete. Make sure you don’t staple over the screw holes. At this point, you could add a piece of liner or dust cover (a dust cover is a black fabric that is generally seen under “store bought” chairs, concealing springs, nails, staples, etc.). Adding the dust cover is optional.

Step 10—Attach the cushion back on the chair, and you are done.

Note: I watched several tutorials for “chair restoration” and “chair refurbishment” on YouTube before beginning this vintage chair project. I suggest doing the same video tutorial research before beginning your own project as this can be very helpful. Good luck!

ITEMS NEEDED:

Two vintage chairs (or upholstered seat dining chairs), 1/2 yard fabric per seat cushion, and 1/2 lining per seat cushion

Scissors, tape measure, staple gun, staples, screwdriver, safety glasses

Sandpaper (in medium and fine grit)

Four cans of primer (I used Rustoleum Painters Touch 2X paint and primer), two cans per chair

One quart of latex paint (I used White Dove paint from Benjamin Moore elsewhere in the room, and Home Depot staff helped match the latex paint for the chairs)

Sponge roller

Several hand sponge applicators (different sizes)

One can gold spray paint (or a small bottle of gold paint from a craft store would suffice)

Fabric of choice

Sandy’s yearlong DIY remodeling series began with an introduction to the room in the January/February issue. The first of five projects, a coffee filter lamp, debuted in the March/April issue. Rustic wall vases followed in May/June. Stay tuned for the next installment. Visit readonlinenow.com to review back issues.

This article was printed in the July/August 2017 Edition of Omaha Home.

HDR

June 15, 2017 by
This sponsored content appears in the Summer 2017 edition of B2B. To view, click here: https://issuu.com/omahapublications/docs/b2b_0817_125/1?e=1413765/50121072

Doug Bisson

Community Planning Manager, HDR

Doug Bisson gets recognized a lot. He’s led a lot of public meetings. But when he joined HDR 17 years ago, he didn’t know he’d have a front row seat to some of the most transformative changes in the region. 

“In the last two decades, Omaha saw a significant amount of redevelopment, and the economic impact has been huge,” says Bisson, HDR’s community planning manager. “With developments like Midtown Crossing and Aksarben Village, and North Downtown, anchored by TD Ameritrade Park, we’ve seen well over a billion dollars in development.  The impacts from these projects reach far. Omaha’s upgrades have created hundreds of new jobs of all kinds. Gone are the days when we were competing with LA and New York to attract the best and the brightest. We’ve become an international community, a great value in and of itself.” 

Each of these projects began with a master plan – a collaboration of smart business leaders, residents and developers who come together to capture a vision of what might be. “I’m proud that I played a part in crafting the framework that allowed such a renaissance. That being said, none of the changes would have been possible without engineers and architects. They are the heroes of strong communities.”

Consider the Omaha of 1917. When HDR’s founder, H.H. Henningson, established his engineering firm in downtown Omaha, he brought the first power lines to many Nebraska towns. His achievements enabled more than late-night reading. Access to power brought a socio-economic sea change for Nebraska residents. 

In celebration of our 100th anniversary, we thought it fitting to ask a few of our own architects and engineers to share how they hope their work will strengthen the community we call home. 

MichaellaWittmann, Director of Sustainability


Fav Project: Making design sustainable

“I started out as an electrical engineer, and I found my passion in making sustainability part of the infrastructure design process.  True sustainable design makes a community strong by protecting the environment while paying for itself. 

Changes like that are taking place in Nebraska.  At Bellevue University, I’m giving input to faculty creating an outdoor lab that lets students design sustainable systems, like collecting storm water to fill ponds in which algae can be harvested to create biofuels.  It’s a beautiful circle.  I’m proud to be a part of that story.

I hope that one day, sustainable infrastructure design will become routine on a global scale.  That’s why I serve on the board for the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure in DC.  If I can help write the guidelines, I’m doing my part to bring this vision to life.”

Teresa Konda, Water/Wastewater Engineer

Fav Project:Making water safe

“One of my first projects was MUD’s Platte West drinking water facility.  I was lucky – brand new facilities come along maybe once every 30 years.  Platte West created a new drinking water supply for our expanding community. 

Now I’m working on the opposite end of the spectrum, working on upgrades at the historic MUD Florence water treatment plant.

Our utilities have done a wonderful job of securing water supply and making continuous improvements to our infrastructure.  Availability of water is a key factor in attracting new business, and that’s important for our long-term economic strength. 

I became a water engineer because I liked chemistry, biology and engineering.  I liked that I could use my interests as a problem-solving tool. And, providing safe water, critical to public health, feels good, too.”

Mike Hamilton, Design Principal

Fav Project: Inspiring tomorrow’s designers

“Investing in—and inspiring—children can only make our communities stronger. I couldn’t be more excited about working with students through the Boy Scouts of America, local schools and at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where I am an adjunct professor and lecturer.

I am especially proud of the Kaneko Architecture Design Camps, which I helped create five years ago for kids ages 11 to 18. The camps explore how we can shape our built environment to improve the urban condition—and how all of us can influence the cultural fabric of our communities. Through exercises like walking tours, 3D modeling and prototyping, kids see that they have the power to make the built environment better—and that they can truly make an impact. I really enjoy exposing younger generations to that power.”

Sales Insider

May 20, 2017 by

There is a list of basic rules of truth that govern the survival of businesses everywhere. While there may be debate on which rules belong on the list, one rule that all businesses owners and managers agree on is: Nothing happens in business until somebody sells something.

Thus, the high-performance salesperson is one of the most sought-after professionals in business. However, perhaps the foundational rule listed above does not apply when consulting is the product for sale. Do consultants need to be professional salespeople or can they reside safely in their core competency and grow the business from there? This is what we will examine.

Let’s say ABC Consulting provides mechanical and electrical consulting services to architects and consumers. The owner, “Dave,” employs a couple of drafters and a couple of professional engineers. He admits there is little development and/or training in the area of business development for the people that carry the “sales” responsibility. They do get training on the area of expertise in which the company consults: Seminars, webinars, ASHRAE-sponsored trainings, P.E. exams, vendor-sponsored trainings, and lots of self-study on system application, building codes, load calculations, energy, LEED, building commissioning, and on and on would accurately summarize the annual training regimen for Dave and his team. And why not? A big reason customers hire ABC is because they are experts in their field.

Dave was reflecting on how his business remained somewhat flat the previous year despite a record number of proposals going out the door. Historically, the primary source of new business came from his referral network. The owner has a vision for growth, so, in addition to the referral business, he decided that responding to as many requests for proposals (RFPs) as possible would be the way to accomplish his vision. Reflecting back, it did the opposite. The business revenue did not go down, but all the hours his employees invested in preparing RFPs (that in the end did not turn into new business) increased overhead and cut into margins. He instead got lots of late nights away from families and overtime hours from his employees, which has slightly damaged morale. Now, Dave ponders, what will be his business development strategy going forward?

Consultants are experts in their fields, and the customers want their expertise because it brings tremendous value to the customers’ business. However, customers don’t want to pay for the consultants’ expertise. So, they simply ask to have it for free, and one form of this ask is the RFP. The problem is that once the customer owns the consultant’s expertise, the customer has the power. The information can be compared to competitors who will adopt all good ideas and do the work for less or, worse yet, the customer will take the ideas and do the work in-house. Therefore, it can be said that responding to RFPs is not selling.

I would agree that professional sales should not be the leading competency for the architect, consulting engineer, or other professional service provider. But this does not diminish the importance of having a system for selling. Here are some simple steps of a selling system that the consultant or architect can begin to implement in their business.


1. Agree Upfront

Before doing any free work for a customer, get a clear understanding from them that if you do the work they are requesting to their satisfaction, you get something in return. If they don’t give you a clear path to getting their business, the wise decision would be to decline. For RFPs, if you don’t have an upfront agreement, it is too risky to pour your work into them only to have it auctioned off.


2. Why Would This Customer Hire You?

Prepare a list of great questions that will fully examine the emotional motivations this customer would have to hire a consultant. Pain is a huge motivator in people, and if your questions uncover the pains the customer is experiencing, you will have a big advantage in winning their business. If a doctor examined me and determined that I have a sickness that could be fatal without surgery, I am not going to ask the doctor for a bid and then get two more and go with the low-cost bidder.


3. Deal With Money Upfront

Ask the customer if they have money early in your conversation. Otherwise, you may do a bunch of work for a customer that, in the end, is broke. They must prove to you they have the ability to pay and a willingness to give their money to you, or else you will respectfully end the conversation.


4. Who Makes the Decisions Around Here?

Ask the customer who is involved in the selection process how the process will be handled. If you are going to present a solution, it is important that those who see it have the capacity to buy it. It is incredibly deflating to learn, after working out the solution, that the person who received it can’t make the decision to buy it.

Karl Schaphorst is a 27-year veteran of sales who now specializes in training other sales professionals. He is the president of Sandler Training.

This column was printed in the Summer 2017 edition of B2B.