Tag Archives: customers

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.

Sales Insider

April 5, 2017 by

I love sales. It is a career where you, the sales professional, determine your income based on how skillfully you execute the duty. It has a feel of independence, ownership, and entrepreneurship, and it can be extremely rewarding. Professional selling is regarded as one of the top-earning careers on the the planet. Note to you business owners out there: If your salespeople are making more money than you, don’t be jealous, be excited because they are building your business and increasing its value.

The term “commission” is familiar to ranks of sales professionals. However, I want you to think about your income a little differently. Rather than earning commission when a sale is made, think about your pay as an hourly wage. What makes your hourly pay different from the familiar, traditional hourly jobs is that your hourly rate will change based on the activity you happen to be doing at the moment. For example, in my previous career, for every 10 presentations I made, I would close on, and get paid commission for, three orders. On the three projects I won, my hourly rate was great, but on the projects I lost, my hourly rate was $0/hour. I thought “this is just how it is in sales,” so I did little to change or improve my sales performance until I was taught to think of my compensation as hourly. Spending 60 hours per week on sending proposals to my customers meant missing out on my kids’ activities and time with family, all so I could get paid for 30 percent of my time. That made me angry. This is madness, yet a vast majority of salespeople would give you a similar story.

I think there is a better way to sell that will pay more per hour, which means one can earn their desired wage in less time. I just need to figure out how to get rid of the seven prospects who don’t buy quickly and only spend time on the three who will buy. If I can figure this out, then I will close the three orders, so my pay is the same as before, but I do not spend much time on the seven who do not buy. Can you see how my hourly wage more than doubles?

Since your time is just as valuable as your prospects’ time, only the prospects who plan to buy from you get any of it. In order to do this, you must sort all prospects who talk to you as either buyers or window shoppers. The first step in doing this is to recognize that there are four possible outcomes of a sales call: yes, no, maybe, and clear future. Let’s examine each one.

Yes: Congratulations! You achieved an order and you will earn money.

No: Shoot! Shake it off. There are plenty of other customers out there who will buy. Did you know that “no” outcomes are good, and they can actually make you money? If you get a “no,” that opportunity no longer consumes your time, which means you can divert time to those who buy, and your hourly rate actually increases.

Maybe: Stay away from the dreaded “I need to think it over.” These outcomes represent the “window shoppers” and will cost you money. These prospects waste your time and consume your resources. Therefore, when a prospect stalls, push them to “no.”  At least a “no” will make you money.

Clear future: Sometimes your product or service cannot be sold in one call. You might need multiple meetings to formulate the solution and make the sale. This positive outcome is for those prospects who see value in your solution, are willing to move the process forward, and want the sales conversation to continue on a specific day at a specific time.

Thus, the rule is “No more maybes.” If you can make this rule part of your selling system, you will increase your hourly rate and significantly grow your sales. You effectively sort the buyers from the window shoppers and spend more time on those who buy. Now, I close three out of four presentations I make, my income has increased by triple digits, and I spend less time doing it all.

So, what is you hourly wage?

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 article was printed in the Spring 2017 edition of B2B.

Efficient Urban Transportation in a Zip

February 24, 2017 by

Living in a technologically advanced world has its advantages, like convenience and fiscal recompenses we never could have envisioned.

As a Los Angeles native who paid car insurance the price of a mortgage in some places, one new convenience I can appreciate is Zipcar.

The program has graced Omaha with its presence for seven years. Zipcar was founded in 2000 by Antje Danielson, current director of education at MIT Energy Initiative, and  Robin Chase, co-founder of French chartering service Buzzcar. The pair created Zipcar to provide a more efficient, affordable method of driving in the city.

Zipcar P.R. manager Lindsay Wester, who is based in Boston, explains that Zipcar is as simple as join, reserve, and drive.

Business customers begin by signing up online, where they pay a one-time setup fee of $75 and annual membership dues of $35 for each driver. This membership covers fuel, insurance, mileage, parking, and maintenance. Individuals can pay a $25 one-time setup fee annual dues of $70, or a monthly fee of $7 plus the one-time setup fee.

The Omaha fleet includes two Honda Civics and a Ford Escape. The Hondas and the Ford cost $8.50 per hour Monday through Thursday, or $69 per day. The Friday through Sunday rate is $9.50 per hour, or $77 per day for the Hondas and $83 per day for the Escape.  The other car available in Omaha is a Volkswagen Jetta, which costs $9 per hour or $69 daily at all times. The cars are parked on Creighton and UNMC’s campuses, downtown at 17th Street and Capitol Avenue, and at Mammel Hall near Aksarben Village.

Upon becoming a member, the company sends the user a Zipcard, which functions as an entry key. The ignition key stays inside the vehicle. Each user gets one card with their membership, which gives them access to Zipcar’s nationwide fleet. Upon reserving a car, the company digitally connects the Zipcard to the specific car reserved. The user gains access to the vehicle by holding the card to the card reader placed in the windshield. After scanning in with the Zipcard, a user’s smartphone can be a backup to the Zipcard for locking or unlocking the car doors throughout a reservation.

The company first brought their concept to Omaha in 2010, launching at Creighton University, followed by University of Nebraska in 2012, then the Medical Center in October 2015. In Omaha, the target market has been students, but Zipcars also are useful for travelers.

Melanie Stewart, sustainability manager at UNMC and Nebraska Medicine, is in charge of UNMC’s program.

“Last year we had a visiting professor come in, and they had a friend in Lincoln, so they used a Zipcar to visit their friend while in Omaha,” Stewart says.

The Zipcars are also used by visitors of patients who may need to purchase supplies or just take a break from being at the hospital.

Patrick Lin, a 21-year-old Omaha resident, says, “I used Zipcar roughly four to six hours every week during my sophomore year. I first heard about it from some friends in California because they couldn’t have cars during their first year at college.”

Lin enjoys the ability to use a car when needed without the expense of owning it. “Personally, it allows a lot more to get done compared to other services. The only restraint I have is that since there is a time limit, you must plan your activities accordingly. But the per-mile usage you can get when a trip is planned right is entirely worth the time constraints,” he says.

Wester says that Zipcar has remained successful and growing for more than a decade and a half. And as city dwellers become more disenchanted with the idea of owning cars, their success should continue to accelerate.

Visit zipcar.com for more information.

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

Keith Reid

August 25, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Coming home to a pile of packages on the doorstep is like…well…celebrating Christmas. Postmaster of Omaha Keith Reid knows that, because his team of postal workers deliver tons of packages to people each and every day.

Those packages that come from UPS? They actually come from the U.S. Postal Service…at least they are dropped off by someone at the USPS. Those books and electronics from Amazon? Yep, USPS again.

KeithReid1It is one of the many ways the postal service is combatting the decline in correspondence.

Reid says Omaha, specifically, has found increased revenue in packages.

“Packages have increased by 20 percent over 2015 and 18 percent over 2014,” Reid says. “That is a volume count from our machines. We now track every package. For Omaha, our package delivery volume was up 21.9 percent from same time last year.”

That 20 percent increase represents eight million packages delivered as of early July.

They also created a revenue stream by delivering packages for United Parcel Service. While UPS delivers 90 percent of the way to a home or office, the USPS goes the extra mile to send those packages down the last mile.

“The last mile is the most costly,” Reid explains. “For them it’s more practical to bring it here. If you think about it, just at Boys Town (Post Office), I have about 55 routes. It’s more cost effective for them to drop it at the post office when we have seven carriers going to those places anyway.”

UPS pays the USPS for that last mile.

Conversely, packages that need to fly from one place to another, even when mailed from the USPS, often come through FedEx, for the same reason. It is costly to fly packages.

In terms of revenue, however, the biggest increase has come from efficiency.

Need a passport? There is only one place in Omaha to go. That’s Postal Impressions at 132nd and Q streets. And an appointment is necessary.

“That way the customer knew they wouldn’t need to wait,” Reid says. “It used to be 15 minutes per passport.”

In order to reduce the wait time, customers go online and make the appointment. The customer is then emailed with instructions on what to bring with them.

“It’s down to seven or eight minutes,” Reid says. “I have four clerks doing passports.”

Postal service employees also offer more personalized services than they used to.

Need stamps to send a letter or bill? Need to send a stack of fliers regarding a coming sale? Let your local carrier know. He or she will help you.

“We are getting our employees involved,” Reid says. “We originally looked at where our competitors went. Now, we will go right up to businesses and ask how we can help them.”

Friendliness goes a long way.

“We’re over a million in revenue, just by having our carriers talk to customers,” Reid says.

Reid also believes the USPS’ positive results will continue.

“Every time people refer to us as a dinosaur, we establish ourselves as bigger and stronger.”

Visit usps.com for more information. B2B

The Corner Creperie

April 25, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Derek Olsen pours a careful ladleful of batter onto one of two crêpe griddles, about 16 inches in diameter. Then he lightly spins a sort of crêpe trowel—a wooden dowel T’d with a smaller wooden handle—around and around, until the batter has thinned out across the whole surface.

The crêpe browns to golden in about a minute, at which point he takes a wooden spatula and lifts the crêpe away from the griddle to turn it over. Only 15 to 20 seconds on that side.

In the meantime, he’s been warming the portioned-out filling, which was made from scratch earlier that day. In this case, it’s quark and cheddar cheese, apple and bacon. And it is divine.

Sweet crêpes are served cold. The Citrus has lemon curd, macerated raspberry, and raspberry coulis—a bright tartness that brings some light to a cold and gray day.20130313_bs_9170

Why crêpes?

“It was an idea my wife and I had from traveling—a versatile way to do both desserts and savory items,” Olsen says. Cities in Western Europe as well as larger U.S. cities, like Seattle and San Francisco, all have small, outdoor crêpe stands. It’s a quick and easy street food. “Our idea was to bring the crêpe stand indoors—keep it very easy, in and out, but put a roof over its head.”

This makes it an ideal breakfast, lunch, dinner, or snack for people on the go, such as the faculty, staff, and students of Creighton University. Located at 343 N. 24th St., The Corner Creperie is practically on campus.

As if on cue, a college-aged couple comes in and orders a few crêpes, which they, of course, Instagram before eating.20130313_bs_9190

Certainly the Creperie is not just for Creighton folks. It’s close to Central High School and the Joslyn Art Museum, or worth the drive from any part of town.

In addition to this new restaurant, which opened December 8, Olsen and his wife Doan (Didi) also own The Nail Salon in the Old Market. They’re busy, especially as parents of an infant daughter.

As soon as Didi arrives, she helps some new customers at the register. Derek prepares their crêpes. You can tell that they’re small business owners, ready to do whatever task needs to be done.

And they’re invested in Omaha. It’s even part of their tagline: “Simple. Local. Portable. Delicious.” “We try to source as many items locally as we possibly can,” Olsen says.20130313_bs_9207

Their proteins come from four Nebraska farms. Their coffee beans—they offer almost as many coffee drinks as crêpes—come from A Hill of Beans Coffee Roasters in Omaha. Even the metalwork in their furniture was done by Chris Kemp at the Hot Shops.

The creation of their menu was also a communal effort. The Olsens collaborated with Brian O’Malley, a faculty member at the Metro Culinary Institute. They later added Chase Grove, a recent Metro Culinary grad, to their staff.

Grove helped develop the new menu, which debuted in May. He says they’ll make it refreshing for the summer and try some creative takes on familiar foods. “We’re doing things people will recognize, but do them in a new and surprising way,” Grove says.

The Corner Creperie
343 N. 24th St.
402-955-9577