Insurance

HUMAN RESOURCES: Think your business is too small for HR? Think againRestricted Content

December 25, 2006
Tom Phillips
After squeezing 36 hours out of every 24-hour day, you have reached a milestone in your business: You realize you need help. How you find, hire and treat employees-from that first one to those that follow-can accelerate your success or throw obstacles in your way. The moment you begin the search for your first employee, you enter the intricate world of "human resources." If you're like many busy entrepreneurs, you have given little thought to how to do that. You...
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Small biz unsure about '07: Legislative agenda is clear, but advocates still worriedRestricted Content

December 25, 2006
Cory Schouten
Big changes at the Statehouse, including a shift to Democratic control in the House of Representatives and a leadership switch in the Senate, mean there are more unknowns and more unpredictability. Meanwhile, top issues such as health insurance, tax reforms and regulatory changes provide a minefield of concerns for small-business owners. New health insurance mandates could add to already skyrocketing premiums. New local taxing authority could increase the burden on small businesses. Changes to the state's regulatory structure could dramatically...
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Strap maker hits right chord with guitar players: Action Custom Straps' products catch on thanks to attention from musicians like Jimmy Buffett, Keith UrbanRestricted Content

December 11, 2006
Scott Olson
The guitar straps Terry Misner creates for musicians worldwide are the canvas for his artwork. In his specialty, though, the tapestry is really soft leather he uses to combine comfort and custom designs for performers such as Jimmy Buffett and Keith Urban. "It's like sewing silk rather than sewing canvas," he said. "You can rip through canvas in a hurry, but what would you rather feel?" The 56-year-old Misner operates Action Custom Straps with wife, Dena, and daughter Nikki O'Neal....
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Carving a niche outside Louisville: Hoosier Bat Co. finds success with Major Leaguers, amateur baseball playersRestricted Content

December 11, 2006
Scott Olson
A three-piece wooden bat David Cook developed in 1989 became popular among professional baseball players, but ended up nearly devastating his upstart manufacturing company. Major League Baseball banned the bat just a year later after what Cook contends was a fierce lobbying effort from his largest rival, Louisville Slugger. The bat-made of ash, hickory and maple-is fused by finger jointing and remains in use at the amateur levels. The durability of the bat rivals that of an aluminum model, Cook...
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Standard Management continues perilous skid: Company reports more losses; stock value sinksRestricted Content

December 11, 2006
Tom Murphy
Standard Management Corp. stock peaked five days into 2006 at $1.55. It's spent the rest of the year in a free fall that observers believe will culminate with the company's filing for bankruptcy. The Carmel-based pharmaceuticals distributor reported a $10 million loss in the third quarter, bringing losses for the first nine months of 2006 to $14 million. The red ink, along with executive turnover and a string of failed acquisitions, has sapped investor confidence. The company's shares, which traded...
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TOM HARTON Commentary: Business in a hole climbs outRestricted Content

December 4, 2006
Everyone says owning a restaurant is hard work. But for Tracy Robertson, not owning one has been much harder. Robertson's restaurant, the 745 Bar & Grill, hasn't served a burger or a beer since the afternoon of Jan. 25, 2005. That's when the 745 literally fell into a hole. A cook, a bartender and five patrons escaped just moments before the restaurant collapsed into the excavation pit for what is now the 757 Mass Ave condominium building. In an instant,...
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BEHIND THE NEWS: Unique, low-profile bank shaking up the status quoRestricted Content

December 4, 2006
Greg Andrews
It's a quiet giant, but not a sleeping one. The Federal Home Loan Bank of Indianapolis is the state's fourthbiggest private company, with revenue last year of $1.8 billion. The $45-billionin-assets financial institution racked up 2005 profit of $153 million. Yet the board and executives of the 150-employee quasi-governmental enterprise aren't wallowing in self-satisfaction. Seeing storm clouds on the horizon, they're taking pre-emptive action to ensure the bank remains competitive and retains its formidable financial strength. "We've been cutting back,"...
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Techpoint explores tapping bank fund: Bankers oppose altering management of $308 millionRestricted Content

December 4, 2006
Peter Schnitzler
High-tech leaders eager for money for venture capital investments have set their sights on a new potential source: Indiana's $308 million Public Deposit Insurance Fund. It's an idea sure to draw adamant opposition. Take Indiana Bankers Association CEO Jim Cousins' reaction: "Over my dead body," he said. "That fund exists to insure deposits. Any deviation from that, we will fight like banshees to oppose." Formed in 1937, in the wake of the Great Depression, the PDIF insures deposits of public...
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Bipartisan control will force compromises: With campaigns over, legislators get down to business on new budget, property-tax relief and other issuesRestricted Content

December 4, 2006
Peter Schnitzler
In his 2007 legislative preview for the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, State Rep. Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, opened with a joke: After a politician's death, he found himself standing before the pearly gates. St. Peter offered the politician a choice of heaven or hell, prefaced by a brief preview of each. During his visit to hell, the politician was surprised to discover all his friends there. What's more, it was a terrific place to be-the most fun and raucous party he'd...
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EYE ON THE PIE: 'Tis the season for economic foolishnessRestricted Content

December 4, 2006
Morton Marcus
This is the best time of the year. Thanksgiving is over and the signs of Christmas have yet to bore us. All the truly crazy people have identified themselves by shopping on the days immediately following Thanksgiving. New and old ideas are blossoming for consideration by the Indiana General Assembly. Gov. Mitch Daniels has given us the Commerce Connector, a nifty addition to our highway road map. This would be a new outer loop around Indianapolis, serving Greenfield, Shelbyville, Franklin...
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BULLS & BEARS: Conservatism could spoil final years of retirementRestricted Content

November 27, 2006
Dave Gilreath
A 65-year-old, recently retired couple came into our office the other day seeking advice on portfolio allocation. The husband had a 401(k) rollover with $1 million in it and wanted to take out $50,000 a year for income. Within the first few minutes of the meeting each said, "We can't afford to take much risk with this money because we won't make any more, and it's all we will ever have." Followed by, "We can't afford the risk of the...
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Forgotten accounts can lead to windfalls: State seeks Web vendor for unclaimed propertyRestricted Content

November 27, 2006
Peter Schnitzler
With $325 million in unclaimed property on hand, Indiana Attorney General Steve Carter has a simple request: Check the Internet to see if any of it is yours. To make the process as easy as possible, Carter is searching for a vendor to upgrade and host its clearinghouse Web site www.IndianaUnclaimed.com. The attorney general's goal is to reunite Hoosiers with their cash-and in the process reduce a significant problem for businesses that need to get unclaimed property off their books....
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Showing WAL MART some love: New statewide group supports oft-criticized retailerRestricted Content

November 27, 2006
Scott Olson
Several Hoosiers are at the forefront of a fledgling effort to deflect a growing barrage of criticism lobbed at retail giant Wal-Mart Stores by organized labor and worker's rights advocates. The Indiana chapter of the Working Families for Wal-Mart formed earlier this month and includes in its membership local elected officials such as City-County Councilor Ron Gibson and State Rep. Vanessa Summers, D-Indianapolis. The national not-for-profit, which launched a year ago, is backed by the Arkansas-based retailer and also boasts...
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NOTIONS: Let's clear the air at state schoolsRestricted Content

November 27, 2006
Bruce Hetrick
Long ago, I did some work for Special Olympics. In the process, I learned a semantic preference of the organization: One never says "mentally retarded people." One says "people with mental retardation." The rationale: These athletes are people first, not a condition. Long ago, I also did AIDS education and prevention work. In the process, I learned a semantic preference of health organizations and their clients: One never says "AIDS victims." One says "people with AIDS." The rationale: Those with...
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Insurance adjuster building offices near 96th Street:Restricted Content

November 20, 2006
Indianapolis-based National Catastrophe Adjusters will move next spring to a new, more permanent home in Fishers. The company broke ground this month on the two-story, 13,000-square-foot office at the corner of Windermere Boulevard and Olympia Drive off of 96th Street. NCA hopes to move in by the end of April. Its office is now at the intersection of 75th Street and Shadeland Avenue. NCA decided to build because it wanted a permanent home, said Ken Averitt, chief operations officer. The...
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Clarian to put prices on its Web siteRestricted Content

November 20, 2006
Tom Murphy
Clarian Health Partners will start posting prices for care on its Web site early next year, a move aimed at advancing the national movement toward greater transparency in health care costs.
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Roof Envy: Insurers pay to fix thousands of hail-damaged homes, but some neighbors are feeling left outRestricted Content

November 13, 2006
Tammy Lieber
After an April hailstorm caused widespread damage in central Indiana, an epidemic slowly and quietly began spreading through tree-lined streets and cul-de-sacs. As contagious as the common cold, "neighboritis" is contracted through casual contact with friends and neighbors, even by the simple act of driving by a house topped with sparkling new shingles. Those infected often experience an initial wave of optimism and euphoria, sometimes followed by a crash that leaves them feeling dissatisfied, even betrayed. The cause of the...
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VOICES FROM THE INDUSTRY: Better system of sharing bodes well for professionRestricted Content

November 6, 2006
Don Altemeyer
When it was built in the 1930s, the original James Whitcomb Riley Hospital for Children was a very large construction project. Yet it required only 40 sheets of drawings, and only the stonework at the entry and the ceiling in the lobby were extensively detailed. The rest of the "detail knowledge" was filled in by contractors. Compare what it took to build Riley with the 50,000-plus drawings issued through six construction managers to build the new Indianapolis Midfield Terminal complex....
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VOICES FROM THE INDUSTRY: What you should know about Life SettlementsRestricted Content

September 25, 2006
Leo Lagrotte
One fairly new investment that has gained attention in recent years is the Senior Life Settlement. What are Senior Life Settlements? Life Settlements evolved from the Viatical industry in the 1990s, when people diagnosed with terminal illnesses such as AIDS, usually facing life expectancies of three years or less, sold their life insurance policies on the secondary market to cover costs of their health care. These types of investments have gradually increased over the years and have paved the way...
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VOICES FROM THE INDUSTRY: Taxes, school, health costs challenge affluent familiesRestricted Content

September 25, 2006
Ralph Nowak
Affluent families face many threats to their wealth. But three forces eroding the legacies in almost all of them are taxes, education costs and post-retirement health care. Fortunately, with proper planning, there are steps you can take to help ensure your wealth carries you through retirement comfortably with ample left over for your heirs. Make taxes manageable Taxes may be unavoidable but they can be managed in a way that makes them less destructive to your wealth. Specifically, the alternative...
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Preparation is key to surviving disasters of all kinds: Financial experts offer tips to keep your records safe in emergenciesRestricted Content

September 25, 2006
Tracy Donhardt
Last year's hurricane disasters in the Gulf Coast region brought to light how easily and quickly personal financial records can be lost or destroyed in a catastrophe. While hurricanes aren't likely to hit Indiana, tornadoes, fires and floods are always a possibility, as are crimes such as theft, vandalism and identity theft. Financial planners emphasize that it's important to keep records safe from various disasters that can hit without warning. In fact, they say, it's good to have a plan...
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Hammering away at his own business: After 18 years working for others, contractor strikes out on his ownRestricted Content

September 18, 2006
Jo Ellen
Built to Last Construction Hammering away at his own business After 18 years working for others, contractor strikes out on his own Bradley Ford is a true, hands-on owner. "I really like working with my hands. I couldn't stand working behind a desk," said Ford, 40, who founded Built To Last Construction in 2000. Starting the business was the culmination of a career path he started in 1982 as a 16-year-old student at Perry Meridian High School and the building...
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Working with the numbers: Using math, local actuaries help companies' bottom line by analyzing risk to reduce expensesRestricted Content

September 11, 2006
Shari Finnell
Expanding opportunities Women make up an increasing number of the 18,000 actuaries who work in the field nationwide, but that wasn't always the case. Kirk recalls a distinct imbalance of men and women in the actuarial field in the late 1970s. "When I first started, I was quite often the only female in professional meetings," she said. During annual actuary conferences, "the women would kind of clump together because there were so few of us," but that has changed. At...
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PAN founder focuses on another IT venture: BubbleUp aims to standardize musicians' Web sitesRestricted Content

September 11, 2006
Peter Schnitzler
It didn't take David Pfenninger long to get back into the game. Just months after selling Carmel-based Internet-test provider Performance Assessment Network Inc. in April for $75 million to St. Louis-based TALX Corp., Pfenninger is betting on another Internet venture: an online music marketing and management startup called BubbleUp. Pfenninger initially remained part of PAN's local management team after the acquisition, but stepped down this summer, retaining a role as a consultant. "I thought it was time to make a...
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Firm sees opportunity where banks see risk: Oak Street has big hopes for insurance agency loans

September 4, 2006
Peter Schnitzler
Bankers like to see plenty of collateral when they underwrite loans. Insurance agents don't have many hard assets to show them. Free toasters won't smooth over this credit dilemma. But the leaders of the Carmel-based Oak Street companies boast they can. And they're poised to capitalize with a fast-growing specialty lending firm. "The first line of our vision statement says we'll build a long-term sustainable financial-services firm," said Oak Street Chairman Steven Alonso. "It's our strategy to diversify." Founded in...
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  1. Looking at the two companies - in spite of their relative size to one another -- Ricker's image is (by all accounts) pretty solid and reputable. Their locations are clean, employees are friendly and the products they offer are reasonably priced. By contrast, BP locations are all over the place and their reputation is poor, especially when you consider this is the same "company" whose disastrous oil spill and their response was nothing short of irresponsible should tell you a lot. The fact you also have people who are experienced in franchising saying their system/strategy is flawed is a good indication that another "spill" has occurred and it's the AM-PM/Ricker's customers/company that are having to deal with it.

  2. Daniel Lilly - Glad to hear about your points and miles. Enjoy Wisconsin and Illinois. You don't care one whit about financial discipline, which is why you will blast the "GOP". Classic liberalism.

  3. Isn't the real reason the terrain? The planners under-estimated the undulating terrain, sink holes, karst features, etc. This portion of the route was flawed from the beginning.

  4. You thought no Indy was bad, how's no fans working out for you? THe IRl No direct competition and still no fans. Hey George Family, spend another billion dollars, that will fix it.

  5. I live downtown Indy and had to be in downtown Chicago for a meeting. In other words, I am the target demographic for this train. It leaves at 6:00-- early but doable. Then I saw it takes 5+ hours. No way. I drove. I'm sure I paid 3 to 5 times as much once you factor in gas, parking, and tolls, but it was reimbursed so not a factor for me. Any business traveler is going to take the option that gets there quickly and reliably... and leisure travelers are going to take the option that has a good schedule and promotional prices (i.e., Megabus). Indy to Chicago is the right distance (too short to fly but takes several hours to drive) that this train could be extremely successful even without subsidies, if they could figure out how to have several frequencies (at least 3x/day) and make the trip in a reasonable amount of time. For those who have never lived on the east coast-- Amtrak is the #1 choice for NY-DC and NY-Boston. They have the Acela service, it runs almost every hour, and it takes you from downtown to downtown. It beats driving and flying hands down. It is too bad that we cannot build something like this in the midwest, at least to connect the bigger cities.

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