Manufacturing & Technology

Service an edge for small firms: Make most of 'moments of truth':Restricted Content

September 25, 2006
Roger Schmenner
"If we don't take care of our customers, someone else will." This unattributed quote sums up the challenge facing every business, and especially small companies in the service and retail sectors. It's difficult for them to compete with their large counterparts on price-the neighborhood hardware store simply can't sell as cheaply as Wal-Mart. But they can win on customer service by seizing critical moments where customers can walk away delighted or disappointed. Successful service encounters, where these "moments of truth"...
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Office furniture dealers experience sales rebound: Better economy, more moves give industry a boostRestricted Content

September 18, 2006
Tammy Lieber
Indianapolis-area office furniture dealers are awash with business, following a robust national trend that has lifted the industry beyond its lows of a few years ago. As businesses have begun to move into bigger quarters since 2003, they've naturally ordered desks, chairs and filing cabinets to fill the bigger space, local dealers said. "The industry is closer to where it used to be, but I don't think we'll ever again see the kind of activity we had in the mid-...
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Cummins learned lessons after getting battered by recessionRestricted Content

September 11, 2006
Tammy Lieber
Little more than six months after Theodore M. "Tim" Solso took the CEO reins at Columbus, Ind.-based Cummins Inc. from James Henderson in January 2000, Cummins was slammed by "the deepest and longest recession in the history of the company." Those days are ancient history.
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Massachusetts-based software maker plots initial public offeringRestricted Content

September 11, 2006
Peter Schnitzler
A disaster-recovery-software maker with major operations in Indianapolis is planning an initial public offering that could accelerate the company's growth.
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156-year-old Clabber Girl rolls out new productsRestricted Content

September 4, 2006
Anthony Schoettle
The 156-year-old Terre Haute company that quietly churned out nothing but its trademark baking powder for more than a century is now serving notice to General Mills' Bisquick and other well-known brands that the status quo is dead.
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Pepsi considering mammoth warehouse on west side: Sources say firm's been scouting sites since springRestricted Content

September 4, 2006
Jennifer Whitson
A firm representing PepsiCo Inc. has been scouting sites on Indianapolis' west side for a mammoth warehouse and distribution facility, and sources said the beverage giant is leaning toward a site near its Gatorade bottling plant. Local real estate brokers said Chris Clayton, a broker with the Cleveland office of Dallas-based Staubach Co., visited sites and put out a request for proposals for the project in early April, calling for 1 million square feet of industrial space with the possibility...
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Persistence pays for Interactive IntelligenceRestricted Content

September 4, 2006
Peter Schnitzler
Interactive Intelligence Inc. has been on a wild ride since its initial public offering seven years ago. The communications software maker saw its shares shoot as high as $50 its first few months of trading, only to have them wallow below $5 for years after the tech bubble burst. But now the company is back in favor on Wall Street.
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NOTIONS: Has our love for labor been lost?Restricted Content

August 28, 2006
Bruce Hetrick
Bruce Hetrick is on vacation this week. In his absence, this column, which appeared on Sept. 1, 2003, is being reprinted. The Labor Days of my memory are happy-sad affairs. The weather is muggy. The family's gathered at some park or pond, river or lake. Burgers sizzle on the grill. Frisbees fly through the air. And after supper, there's touch football with dads and brothers, kids and cousins, until dusk drops her shadowy curtain on yet another summer. In my...
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Indiana's Red Gold has become a tomato-industry big boyRestricted Content

August 28, 2006
Anthony Schoettle
Twenty years ago, the only thing coming out of Red Gold Inc.'s small Orestes plant was diced tomatoes, tomato sauce and tomato puree. The processor now makes products that sell in all 50 states and 16 countries under its brand or private labels.
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ECONOMIC ANALYSIS: State employment growth is weaker than you thinkRestricted Content

August 28, 2006
Patrick Barkey
There's a real buzz about job growth in Indiana these days. Announcements of job creation, big and small, are echoing through the business media, and many economic development officials tell us their phones are ringing with calls from new prospects at a rate they haven't seen in years. Yet the data used by most of us to track job growth tell a slightly more sobering story. The 2.94 million workers on Indiana payrolls in July, as reported by the Department...
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Lean manufacturers take stock of accounting innovation: Fishers company optimistic movement will gain favorRestricted Content

August 28, 2006
Anthony Schoettle
The leanest aspect of lean manufacturing is moving from the shop floor to the accounting office, where a new recordkeeping system is gaining a following. Proponents of so-called lean accounting say it's better than traditional accounting at measuring the cost savings and efficiencies of lean manufacturing, a business-improvement strategy that shortens the time between customer order and shipment. Instead of simply looking at inventory levels and sales numbers as traditional accounting does, lean accounting measures things such as worker productivity...
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Duty in Iraq inspires reservist's invention: Mtek founder hoping face mask will save livesRestricted Content

August 21, 2006
Scott Olson
Impressed with the design, which military personnel admitted was years ahead of what's now in use, the Army's Soldier Systems Center purchased 10 of the prototypes Aug. 1 for testing. Mahan, 23, of Martinsville, ultimately hopes to create manufacturing jobs in Indiana by mass-producing the face masks for the military and law-enforcement agencies. With the help of his father, cousin and close friend, he's formed Mtek Weapon Systems to start the process. "It's definitely a radical departure from anything that's...
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BULLS & BEARS: Fuss over our trade deficit is much ado about nothingRestricted Content

August 21, 2006
Dave Gilreath
I'll preface this column by telling you I am not an economist, just an observer. How many times have you heard a sobering news report on the trade deficit? The gist of these reports is that the deficit will weaken the dollar, cause all kinds of job losses, and be the ruin of our economy. The typical deficit TV news report begins with a picture of some old, rusty U.S. factory. It closes with video clips of construction cranes building...
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Franklin manufacturer benefits from high petroleum costsRestricted Content

August 14, 2006
Anthony Schoettle
Increased oil and natural gas prices are hammering many manufacturers, but Franklin-based Grimmer Industries Inc. is flying high. Grimmer specializes in making Hurricane brand air compressors and compressor boosters used in oil and natural gas well drilling and aggregate mining.
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Jones' ChaCha IT firm to have human touchRestricted Content

August 14, 2006
Peter Schnitzler
For the last eight months, Indiana's resident high-tech guru has been quietly developing a new IT firm. Few details have been leaked to the public. But in September, a national media blitz will announce the launch of ChaCha Search Inc., Jones' new human-assisted Internet search engine.
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Moving lessons from classrooms to boardrooms: MBA students get firsthand experience with startupsRestricted Content

July 31, 2006
Victoria D.
No matter how many bold and italicized words scholars cram into textbooks, nothing compares to students rolling up their sleeves and testing a theory themselves. For years, Indiana University's Kelley School of Business has offered its Bloomington MBA candidates real-world experience through so-called "academies" focused on specific industries. Now Kelley Indianapolis' evening MBA program is set to launch a scaled-back version for its students. This fall, it will offer three such "enterprise" programs, including one with an entrepreneurial emphasis. The...
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VIEWPOINT: Indiana ripe for new breed of auto industryRestricted Content

July 31, 2006
Robert A.
Landing the Honda plant is a great coup for Indiana. Gov. Mitch Daniels deserves congratulations. Not only will Honda employ an estimated 2,000 Hoosiers, it appears the governor secured the facility at a bargain price for Indiana's taxpayers. While the plant brings much-needed employment, future wealth created from Honda's production accrues to its primarily Japanese shareholders. This is only fair, as Japanese automakers have innovated, invested and expanded over the past 30 years. They have earned their success and deserve...
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EYE ON THE PIE: Too much manufacturing is not Indiana's problemRestricted Content

July 24, 2006
Morton Marcus
We know that, relative to the United States, Indiana is neither a rich state nor one growing with vigor. Two weeks ago in this space, I discussed our more recent employment experiences. A friend read the column and asked, "How much of our lack of job growth is due to the slump or collapse in manufacturing jobs?" Nationally, only three states (Nevada, and the Dakotas) had any gain in manufacturing jobs between May 2001 and May 2006. Alaska and Wyoming...
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MainSource grabs opportunities for growth: Greensburg-based bank not shy about acquisitionsRestricted Content

July 24, 2006
Scott Olson
Honda Motor Co.'s decision to build a massive auto manufacturing plant near Greensburg has the small Decatur County town abuzz with excitement. But a company already entrenched there is making some noise of its own. MainSource Financial Group Inc. has increased assets an impressive 50 percent during the past year largely due to four acquisitions made by the publicly traded bank holding company. "We're a little opportunistic," admitted MainSource President and CEO James Saner. "We really want to grow, give...
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Firm may hold key to earlier detection: Startup lands grants for breast cancer biomarkerRestricted Content

July 17, 2006
Scott Olson
Linda Malkas' arrival at the Indiana University School of Medicine four years ago is beginning to look like a coup for the city's life sciences initiative. Armed with promising cancer research, Malkas helped found CS-Keys Inc., which last month received a $285,000 infusion from BioCrossroads' Indiana Seed Fund and is poised to net a similar investment July 17 from Triathlon Medical Ventures in Cincinnati. The additional capital is critical to the startup's continuing development of a biomarker that detects breast...
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New business incubator is made for minoritiesRestricted Content

July 17, 2006
Scott Olson
Black business owner Bob Logan is one of four entrepreneurs chosen by the Indiana Business Diversity Council as inaugural tenants of its unusual new incubator, which caters solely to minority-owned businesses.
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BRIAN WILLIAMS Commentary:Restricted Content

July 10, 2006
On June 1, Gov. Mitch Daniels and officials from the Indiana Public Employees Retirement Fund announced the Indiana Investment Fund, a $100 million investment vehicle. The fund will invest in early-stage startups and loans to mature firms. It will invest in Indiana-What's wrong with local investment pros? based agriculture, manufacturing, information technology, transportation and life sciences companies. Credit Suisse was selected to manage this new fund. As a global investment bank, Credit Suisse certainly has skilled bankers who can evaluate...
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Work still elusive for people with disabilities: Employment rates remain stagnant even though a wealth of programs are finding success placing workersRestricted Content

July 3, 2006
Scott Olson
The lesson Amy Kurzekwa taught the folks at the downtown Gregory & Appel Insurance agency reaches far beyond what they learned about premiums and deductibles. Since 1992, she has taken the bus to her job there as a clerical assistant, performing such tasks as sorting and delivering the office mail and filling the copy machines. While most anyone can do that, Kurzekwa, 37, is irreplaceable to her co-workers. Her role in opening their eyes to the fact that people with...
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Honda poses pay dilemma: New auto plant's higher wages likely to force other employers to pay up or lose workersRestricted Content

July 3, 2006
Chris O\'malley
GREENSBURG-Companies from Cincinnati to Indianapolis hoping to drive home business from Honda Motor Co.'s 2,000-employee plant might want to watch for an economic pothole hiding up the road. Giant auto plants plopped onto the prairie, while buying hundreds of millions of dollars in goods and services from companies in the state, also tend to swallow workers from established employers. That likely will force some Indiana employers to jack up wages and benefits to retain and attract workers pining to wear...
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Carmel firm grows up in emerging market: BlueBean acquisition makes it one-stop RFID shopRestricted Content

July 3, 2006
Anthony Schoettle
A small Indiana firm is looking to become a big player in the emerging radio-frequency-identification market. Carmel-based BlueBean LLC is one of a small but growing number of firms nationally that provide consulting services to companies trying to set up systems using radio frequency identification-commonly called RFID-tags and readers. BlueBean in April acquired Mishawakabased www.rfidsupplychain.com, which sells RFID hardware and software online. The acquisition also provided BlueBean rights to a bevy of other domain names, including www.rfidhealthcare.com, www.rfidpharma.comand www.rfidfood.com. The...
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