Business & Economy
‘A Beach Less Traveled’ is a Slice of Paradise…and Ambition PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Tuesday, 02 October 2012 13:28

Dreams come true, but not through wishful thinking, says John Berglund, author of the new memoir, A Beach Less Traveled: From Corporate Chaos to Flip-Flop Perfumer (www.abeachlesstraveled.com).

After successful careers as an attorney, lobbyist, trade-association executive and bowling industry magnate, Berglund tired of the corporate rat race.  He was also tired of winters bundled in layers of long johns, shoveling snow.

“Everybody has their own version of paradise,” he says. “Whether it’s New York City, the Great Smokey Mountains or my personal favorite, the French-Caribbean island of St. Martin, paradise is within reach – with a little planning.”

An essential part of planning was deciding what to do for a living once he got there. Berglund would embark on his new career path as a perfumer with his wife of more than 30 years, Cyndi. In “A Beach Less Traveled,” he shares the steps – and the missteps – he took as he and his wife crafted an idyllic new life for themselves.

His candid, humorous tale has won glowing reviews.

“My wife and I met the Berglunds when we visited their perfumery on Saint Martin and we were amazed by their adventurous energy and passion,” writes Amazon.com reviewer Tito Francona, a Major League Baseball Player from 1956 to 1970. “ ‘A Beach Less Traveled’ sizzles with the same enthusiasm – the driving force behind their incredible business venture in the tropics.”

Lisa Burnett of Saint Martin’s The Daily Herald enjoyed Berglund’s stories about meeting and interacting with the other residents of the 37-square-mile island.

“ ‘A Beach Less Traveled’ takes the reader through every challenge, every victory, and every touching encounter with the people,” she writes. “(It’s) a must-read for anyone seeking to make a Caribbean island their home, but also instructive from a business point of view."

About John Berglund

John Berglund began his career as a chief county prosecutor at age 24 and then transitioned into a lobbyist and trade-association executive. Another career shift led him to being voted the bowling industry’s most influential person for a decade. He followed his passion for chemistry, which he’d studied in college, and left the “rat race” for his Caribbean perfumery in St. Martin. Berglund lives with his wife of more than 30 years, Cyndi, who has significantly contributed to his dream job in paradise. The couple has two grown children.

 
Open House This Saturday, The Book Rack Moves to Larger, High-Traffic Location PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Mark McLaughlin   
Tuesday, 02 October 2012 13:27
Just a Reminder on this Local Event:

The Book Rack has moved from Duck Creek Plaza in Bettendorf, Iowa, to a larger store in Davenport, and on Saturday, Oct. 6, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., The Book Rack will host an Open House with refreshments at their new location, 4764 Elmore Ave., Davenport, to thank the community for all the support it has shown The Book Rack over the years.
Customers visit The Book Rack’s two Quad-Cities locations (Davenport and Moline) from as far away as Clinton, Fulton, Aledo, Dubuque, Muscatine, Geneseo and beyond.

 
Illinois mayors join Mayor Emanuel in calling for pension overhaul PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Lars Weborg   
Monday, 01 October 2012 13:26

Rising pension costs threaten budgets; lead to cuts, layoffs and higher local taxes

 

With the skyrocketing costs of pensions putting an unsustainable financial burden on local governments, mayors across Illinois are urging state lawmakers to reform local pension systems heading into the fall veto session.

At a meeting of the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus on Monday, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Wilmette President Christopher Canning both addressed the need for comprehensive pension reform and to protect future retirement benefits of municipal employees.

Just as the State of Illinois and City of Chicago face challenges when it comes to reducing pension costs, the Pension Fairness for Illinois Communities Coalition, made up of Illinois municipalities and business interests, seeks to curb increases in police and fire pension obligations that local communities must cover through property taxes.

“We support Mayor Emanuel’s efforts for meaningful and comprehensive pension that includes cities, villages, towns and counties throughout the state,” said Canning, Past President of the Northwest Municipal Conference (NWMC). “Police and fire pension costs are choking municipal budgets. Despite paying more and more each year, the unfunded liability continues to climb sharply. Time is not on our side.”

Canning noted that the PFICC is committed to working with Mayor Emanuel on lobbying state lawmakers to approve reforms in the upcoming fall veto session, especially as many municipalities are crafting their 2013 budgets, which may include property tax increases or additional service cuts to cover pension shortfalls.

Failing to address these widening unfunded liabilities will inevitably cost local residents throughout the state in the form of higher local property taxes, cuts in essential services or layoffs of police officers and firefighters. Furthermore, the rising costs have created staggering structural deficits that will eventually put local police and fire retirement benefit systems on the verge of financial insolvency and future benefits at risk.

Hoffman Estates taxpayers paid nearly $5 million in 2011, compared to just $1.7 million in 2001 to fund its public safety pensions but the unfunded liability gap for both its public safety pension funds has widened.

“Without reforms, matters will only get worse for revenue starved municipalities that have cut to the bone in recent years during the recession,” said NWMC President and Hoffman Estates Mayor Bill McLeod. “Illinois has a looming pension crisis the impacts all levels of government from the state level down to Main Street and future generations to come.”

In Danville, Mayor Scott Eisenhauer, who also serves as First Vice President of the Illinois Municipal League, said half of his city’s property tax collections went toward paying down police and fire pensions this year.

“Our pension system is broken and we cannot force municipalities to continue to shoulder this unsustainable burden any longer,” said Eisenhauer, noting that cities and towns have delivered on passing balanced budgets through cost-saving measures, cuts and reduced services during challenging economic times. “The Legislature needs to deliver meaningful pension reform now because our taxpayers cannot continue to pay more and get less.”

Municipalities have been struggling for years with the structural deficits and unfunded liabilities created by the pension systems, resulting from years of overly generous benefit enhancements approved by the General Assembly, which provides no funding mechanism or calculates taxpayers’ ability to pay. This created a severe imbalance between employee contributions and what was required from local taxpayers.

“Taking comprehensive steps will enable local governments to narrow budget gaps, maintain essential services for their residents and preserve the solvency of retirement plans for our police officers and fighters for generations to come,” said Tinley Park Mayor and Metropolitan Mayors Caucus Chairman Ed Zabrocki. “Short-term fixes and Band-Aid solutions won’t solve this problem.”

The PFICC has put forth some common-sense solutions aimed at reforming the public safety systems and protecting future benefits. They include:

1)      Requiring public safety employees to contribute more toward the cost of their pensions. Currently, employees only contribute about one-third while taxpayers and investments fund the remainder.

2)      Adjusting cost-of-living-increases from the current 3 percent so they are “right sized” and not compounded annually. Currently, a police officer or firefighter who works for 28 years and retires at the age of 53 with a salary of $90,000 would begin receiving a pension exceeding that amount at the age of 67.

3)      Increasing the retirement age for public safety employees, who can now retire with full benefits at the age of 50, and – in many cases – receive benefits for longer than they worked for the municipality.

4)      Consolidating the 638 individual public safety pension funds into a multiple employer pension system similar to the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund to expand investment opportunities and lower overall operational expenses.

 
Governor Quinn, Senator Durbin Announce $1 Million Federal Grant to Increase Exports in Illinois PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Erin Wilson   
Monday, 01 October 2012 07:37

STEP grant will expand access to global markets for Illinois small businesses

CHICAGO – September 28, 2012. Governor Pat Quinn and U.S. Senator Dick Durbin today announced that Illinois will receive a $1.07 million federal grant through the U.S. Small Business Administration’s State Trade and Export Promotion Program (STEP) to increase trade and investment in the state. Today’s announcement will help the state meet Governor Quinn's goal to double exports by 2014 and comes on the heels of his six-day trade mission to Brazil where he met with government and business leaders to strengthen bilateral cooperation in manufacturing, agriculture, biotechnology and education.

“We want to help small and mid-sized businesses in Illinois gain access to the world’s fastest growing markets,” Governor Quinn said. "As Illinois companies compete on a global stage, this program provides a stepping stone to increase their sales overseas and fuel job growth at home.”

“This funding will provide assistance and guidance to Illinois’ successful small businesses that are trying to expand overseas, which will allow them to grow their business and create jobs right here at home," said U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL). “It will also give small businesses that are already exporting the opportunity to take advantage of the financial and technical resources they need to generate more revenue and growth."

The STEP program is a three-year pilot trade and export initiative authorized by the federal Small Business Jobs Act of 2010. Funding will be used to raise the dollar of export sales in Illinois by providing high-impact financial and technical assistance to small and medium-sized businesses. STEP funding will also go towards foreign market trade missions for small and medium-sized businesses. For the first time, funding will also assist Illinois’ small and medium sized businesses with the ability to achieve the critical product compliance certifications required for exporting. It is estimated that the STEP grant will enable the state to provide assistance to more than 150 companies.

Last year, Illinois was awarded its first STEP grant of $1.2 million. The competitive funding allowed Illinois to assist more than 120 companies, one-third of which were either new to exporting or new to the market. The companies reported to the state that the pilot program is helping them generate combined more than $150 million in sales in the first year. One-third of the STEP companies qualify as minority, women or veteran-owned businesses or are located in a rural part of the state.

On-Call Surgical Services LLC, located in Zion, Illinois, participated in a group trade mission to “Promote 2011” in Yaounde, Cameroon December 3-11, 2011.  During the show, they met with three companies who signed orders on-site totaling $150,000 and have estimated additional sales of $500,000 within the next 12 months. On-call recruits, manages, trains and staffs human capital in the health care and information technology industries.  Additionally, they distribute medical, surgical and life science products and equipment.

“The state’s trade mission to Cameroon provided the opportunity for ‘face-time’ with potential customers and opened our eyes to new market opportunities outside of the U.S. to grow our business,” said Ronnell Showell, CEO, On-Call Surgical Services LLC. “Since then, we have established business partners and are working on securing medical equipment through Cameroon Government Tender. This opportunity was very profitable in networking and cultural experience, but moreover has been a dream come true. Thanks to the entire staff at the DCEO Office of Trade and Investment, it would have been difficult for us to break into this market if it hadn’t been for the OTI-STEP assistance.”

The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, Office of Trade and Investment (OTI) will administer Illinois’ STEP grant. The STEP program last year was implemented with the strong support and assistance of state and federal partners including:  the US Small Business Administration, the US Department of Commerce and Illinois’ Small Business Development Center’s network of 11 International Trade Centers that are located throughout the state, and the Illinois Department of Agriculture.  Illinois ranks in the top ten in terms of the amount of STEP funds awarded by state.

Building on his commitment to increase foreign trade and market Illinois goods overseas, this week Governor Quinn led a delegation of officials from Illinois businesses, educational institutions, and state and local governments on an economic trade mission in Brazil. The mission included stops in São Paulo, Brasilia and Recife, where Governor Quinn presided over the signing of several memorandums of understanding as part of the Doing Business with Illinois program, which is designed to establish global ties in manufacturing, agriculture, biotechnology and education.

Illinois is the fifth largest exporting state in the U.S., with exports totaling over $64.8 billion in 2011. Illinois increased exports by nearly 30 percent over 2010, adding an additional $14.8 billion. Illinois ranks first in the Midwest for exports and foreign direct investment.

For more information on Illinois trade opportunities, visit DCEO’s trade site at exports.illinois.gov.

 

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Tips for Creating Championship Teams in Business PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Friday, 28 September 2012 15:36

Great coaches take into consideration an athlete’s talent and heart when they’re building a team, but they consider group dynamics, too, says entrepreneur J. Allan McCarthy.

“It’s not just a matter of getting the fastest, strongest and smartest players on your side,” says McCarthy, an international scaling expert and author of Beyond Genius, Innovation & Luck: The ‘Rocket Science’ of Building High-Performance Corporations (www.mccarthyandaffiliates.com).

“If you’re building a championship team, you’re gauging how the individual athletes fit together; how their personalities, talents, drive and abilities will mesh to meet the team’s goals. It’s exactly what you need to do to build a winning corporate team. As Michael Jordan, put it, ‘Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.’ ”

In the 2011 film Moneyball, Coach Billy Beane picks his players based on analysis and evidence, says McCarthy, who has worked with hundreds of companies. He doesn’t ever just “go with his gut.”

McCarthy provides key points for building a successful, effective team:

• Lead with a team, not a group: A team of leaders behaves very differently than a group of leaders. Many companies don’t know the difference. “It comes down to clear goals, interdependencies and rules of engagement,” McCarthy says, Every corporation claims to hire only the best and the brightest but it is evident that getting the best and brightest to function as a team can be a challenge.

• Know your goals: McCarthy cites Bill Gates – “Teams should be able to act with the same unity of purpose and focus as a well-motivated individual.” Many big-name CEOs like to say their talent runs free with innovative ideas. “It makes for compelling literature,” McCarthy says. But would that work on the football field? Corporations need their personnel to think out-of-the-box but also act in a prescriptive culture – to work within a system in order to achieve common objectives.

• Not everyone can be the coach – or the quarterback: The problem with executives is that they all want to lead and none want to follow, McCarthy says. A team made up of executives is like a group of thoroughbred stallions confined to a small space called an organization -- plenty of kicking, biting and discord. Thoroughbreds don’t naturally work well as a team. Better to define responsibilities that build a “foxhole mentality,” wherein one person has the gun, the other the bullets, McCarthy says. It’s in the best interests of both for each to succeed.

• The strongest teams are adept at resolving conflict: Hiring the best and the brightest should create a diverse, competent group — but inevitably these stallions generate friction that can sabotage company progress. So, sensitize team members to the early warning signs: know-it-all attitudes, multi-tasking during team meetings, exhibiting dominant behavior, not responding in a timely fashion or engaging in avoidance. Agree, as a team, on how to mutually manage and minimize counterproductive behaviors as they surface.

• Create individual and team agreements: Here is where the “rubber meets the road” – it’s the final stage of planning who will do what for team objectives, as well as a collective agreement on team rules and interdependencies. Ask individuals to openly commit to what they will do, and how the team is to function. The public declaration stresses employee obligation and collaborative management.

“We live in a 21st-century economy where speed and efficiency is a top priority, and that often means a ‘shoot first, ask questions later’ mentality,” McCarthy says. “But you get the team that you plan for, not necessarily what you pay for. If time is money, then I’d invest it in creating and building a championship team.”

About J. Allan McCarthy

J. Allan McCarthy, principal of J.A. McCarthy & Affiliates, has more than 20 years of experience across 15 industries and more than 200 companies. He is a scaling expert who helps organizations determine how to best align strategy, structure and workforce capabilities. He earned his master’s of management from Golden Gate University, a Stanford University AEA MBA refresher, and has worked with many international companies, including Cisco Systems, Raychem Corporation, SAP Inc., Redback Networks, BEA Systems and Ericsson.

 
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