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Cedar Springs Brewing donates to PTO

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Cedar Springs Brewing Company said they are proud to support the Cedar Springs PTO’s Walk-A-Thon, scheduled for Friday, October 17. David Ringler, owner of the brewery, presented the PTO with a check for $300 on September 19.

More than 2,000 students, staff and volunteers participate in this walk-a-thon, a school-wide fundraising event celebrating health, fitness & education. Business sponsors help provide t-shirts for all the students that walk. The funds raised through walker pledges go directly to each school.

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RFF president named to state board

Michele Tracy

Michele Tracy

Red Flannel Festival president Michele Tracy is one of three new members elected to serve on the Michigan Festivals & Events board, a networking partner for event planners, volunteers, vendors and their communities.

The other two new members are Debbie Mikula, Greater Lansing Festival Alliance; and Ashley Rop, Chelsea Area Festival & Events. All three will serve on the MFEA Board of Directors for 2015–2017.

This was Tracy’s 13th year as Red Flannel Festival president. “It’s exciting to be able to represent the Red Flannel Festival on a statewide basis!” she said.

MFEA’s mission is to support and promote festivals, fairs, events, attractions, suppliers and tourism through educations, marketing and networking for the success of members.

 

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All about heating and cooling

 

If you are looking for someone to check out your furnace this fall, you might want to check out a new business in town—All About Heating and Cooling, at 12505 Northland Drive.

Greg Gillmer, former owner of All Seasons Heating and Cooling, has 25 years of experience, and has had his own business for seven years.

All About Heating and Cooling is a full service heating and air conditioning company specializing in installation, design and service of heating and cooling systems. They work on geothermal, boilers/hot water heat, in-floor heat, gas and fuel oil furnaces. They service a wide area, from Cedar Springs to Muskegon, Carson City, and Big Rapids.

Give Greg a call at (616) 824-6029.

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Consumer Advisory 

 

Certain antifreeze/coolant brands may damage your vehicles

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) issued a Stop-Use and Stop-Removal Order for antifreeze/coolant manufactured, packaged, and/or distributed prior to September 11, 2014, by the following Detroit, Michigan, companies after finding the products may cause damage to vehicle engines:

  • State Petroleum 1 Inc.
  • Petro-Zone and Dual-Temp, LLC
  • Omni PPG, Inc.

These products are sold under the Petro Zone Smart, Petro Zone and Ice Shield XXX brands.

As part of a several-month investigation, MDARD discovered the antifreeze/coolants being sold by these companies do not meet the labeled freeze points stated on the labels.

“When products don’t meet their labeled freeze points, they can cause lasting damage to vehicles. So, it’s vital consumers and businesses stop using or selling these products immediately,” said Jamie Clover Adams, MDARD Director. “This company is selling a sub-standard product. MDARD’s Stop-Use and Stop-Removal Order not only ensures that Michigan’s consumers and businesses are getting what they pay for, but helps prevent long-term damage to their vehicles.”

The Stop-Use and Stop-Removal Orders prohibit the sale, offering for sale, or use of these antifreeze/coolants manufactured, packaged, and/or distributed by these companies.

These products should:

  • No longer be used.
  • Immediately be removed from store shelves or other product displays.
  • No longer be offered for sale.

The products may be properly disposed of in accordance with local ordinances, taken to a facility that recycles antifreeze/coolant, or consumers may contact the company directly.

Complaints can be made to:

Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development

Consumer Protection Section

940 Venture Lane

Williamston, MI 48895

Toll-free: 800-632-3835

Fax: 517-655-8303

 

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Fraudulent websites posing as green dot moneypak customer support

 

The FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) has received numerous complaints reporting fraudulent websites posing as MoneyPak customer support. MoneyPak is a non-reloadable, prepaid product offered by Green Dot.

Complaints indicate victims locate the websites via internet search engines. Interaction between the victims and the fraudulent customer support generally occurs via telephone. The IC3 has noticed different variations of this scam.

One: The victim is seeking a refund from an already purchased MoneyPak card and contacts the information listed on the website. A customer service “representative” will ask the caller to provide the identification number of the prepaid card.

For example:  The victim loaded funds onto a MoneyPak card and now wishes to receive a refund of those funds off of the prepaid card. The representative will ask for the prepaid card number and a credit card or checking account number to which the refund can be processed. At this point, the scammer has access to the funds on the prepaid card and the victim’s personal account.

Two: Victim seeks support in connection with loss from other possible scams. The representative will instruct the caller to reload the card with additional funds equal to the previously lost amount.

For example: The victim lost $500 from their MoneyPak card to a separate scam and is seeking a refund to the card. The representative will instruct the victim to load an additional $500 to the card. The representative states “reloading is the only way to process the refund,” and the card will be refunded the full $1,000. Should the victim refuse to reload the card, the representative will promptly disconnect the call.

In most complaints, victims are given a tracking or confirmation number in connection with their call and report to be placed on hold for a length of time while the representative claims to be researching the problem regarding the card in question. In all complaints, any funds available on the card are drained while the victim is on hold or immediately after the call is disconnected.

Consumer protection

Consumers should only use the website and phone number listed on the back of the MoneyPak prepaid cards. MoneyPak customer support can only be accessed by email request via the website’s online portal. The phone number listed on the back of MoneyPak cards is for adding funds to an existing prepaid card. Green Dot customer service publicizes a customer service number; however, this number will not provide assistance with MoneyPak.

Currently identified fraudulent websites are not secured websites (http).The MoneyPak customer support website is a secured website (https) and does not require personal (date of birth, social security number) to reload a card, add money to PayPal or make payments to authorized partners. Prepaid card information is needed to reload a prepaid card on the valid MoneyPak website. Visit https://www.moneypak.com/ for more information.

Filing a complaint

Individuals who believe they be a victim of a “MoneyPak Support” scam can file with the IC3 at http://www.ic3.gov. Please be as descriptive as possible, including prepaid card/account numbers affected and contact information of support “representatives.”

Because scams and fraudulent websites appear very quickly, individuals are encouraged to report possible internet scams and fraudulent websites by filing a complaint with the IC3 at http://www.ic3.gov.

Additional information from moneypak.1

Tips on how to protect yourself from fraud:2

  • Never give your MoneyPak number to someone you don’t know.
  • Never give receipt information about your MoneyPak purchase to another party.
  • Use your MoneyPak only to reload your prepaid cards or accounts you control.
  • Refuse any offer that asks you to buy a MoneyPak and share the number or receipt information by email or phone.
  • To use your MoneyPak with PayPal or eBay or other online merchants, transfer the money to your PayPal account before you pay the merchant. Don’t email your MoneyPak number directly to any merchant.
  • Unless it’s an approved MoneyPak partner, don’t use MoneyPak for any offer that requires you to pay before you get the item.

1. www.moneypak.com

2. www.moneypak.com/ProtectYourMoney.aspx 

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What problem would you solve for tomorrow?

Students and teachers across the country will tackle critical issues using science, technology, engineering and math to win prizes for their schools.

Students and teachers across the country will tackle critical issues using science, technology, engineering and math to win prizes for their schools.

(NAPS)—Students and teachers in public schools are racing to solve problems that can exist in many communities across the country—such as water pollution and street safety—and they’re doing it with $2 million on the line. The nationwide Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Contest is helping students engage in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) through community-based learning—by taking topics out of traditional classroom settings and exploring, in a hands-on way, how they address issues that affect their lives.

To enter, visit www.samsung.com/solve by October 31.

From the applicant pool, 255 state finalists will be selected, then 51 state winners (representing all 50 states and Washington, D.C.) will be announced. Fifteen national finalists will present their projects to judges, and five grand prize winners will be selected by public online voters, judges and Samsung employees.

In total, approximately $2 million in prizes will be given throughout the competition. To learn more, visit www.samsung.com/solve.

 

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Ask Score

 

By Paul D’Amato, SCORE Counselor and former franchise Owner 

 

Franchising 

Franchising accounts for 40 percent of all retail sales in the United States, employs over 18 million people and accounts for roughly $1.5 trillion in output.[1]  Many people that are interested in becoming an entrepreneur look at franchising as a viable option to help them start a business. Be careful.

Franchising is not for everyone, and it is likely you will work at least as hard or harder for yourself as you do working for someone else. If franchising is something you are considering, here are some things to think about before going too far:

Is the business a good fit for your personality?

Nearly all franchise companies will tell you that they have such a clearly defined business that anyone can run it. Even if this is true, and I feel in many cases this is just a sales pitch, it is important that you are happy doing whatever it is. For example, there are some excellent franchises that rely on the franchisee making sales calls. If you are skilled at sales and enjoy it then these franchises may be a good fit for you. However, some people may hate to make sales calls and a business that relies on the franchisee making sales calls may be a big mistake. Whatever business it is, don’t kid yourself into thinking that you can get someone else to manage it. You will be extremely involved and will be overseeing every aspect of the business. Because of that, it is critical you find something that is exciting for you and is a good fit.

Due diligence

Due diligence is a term given to the process of verifying for yourself that the business is what it claims to be. You should plan to spend as much time as it takes in this process to make sure that you understand exactly what you are getting into. A full description of due diligence is certainly beyond the scope of this article, but I do want to point out a few of my favorite things to look at when I first start looking at a franchise.

Time Commitment

It has been very enlightening for me on several occasions to compare what franchisors claim for time commitment against what the actual franchisees are saying the time commitment is. Recently I was looking at a franchise that claimed on one of its video presentations to take no more than 10-15 hours per week for the franchisee. In fact, they said that you could easily run this franchise and continue to be involved full time in another job. This seemed almost too good to be true to me, and when I started talking to franchisees it turned out that it was. I called and talked to five different franchisees in various parts of the country and every one said that they were spending at least 40 hours per week running the franchise and that it was a much greater time commitment than what they had been led to believe. Be sure to do your homework and research.

Profitability

The central question of every investor in a franchise should be; are you going to make money? Unfortunately, this can be one of the most difficult questions to answer. It is not required that franchisors make an earnings claim in their disclosure materials to you. Many franchisors do not make a claim about earnings because it opens them up to liability with their franchisees. If the franchisor tells you that you are going to make a 20 percent return on your investment and you lose money, the franchisor might end up in court.  So, although there are arguments why some franchisors do not make earnings claims, I would be leery of any franchisor that is unable or unwilling to give you any information about how your investment might do. I would be much more inclined to invest in a franchise that publicly makes an earnings claim.

Whether the franchise gives you an earnings claim or not, you are still going to have to verify profitability by talking to existing franchisees in the business. Unfortunately, franchisees can be hesitant to give you actual numbers. It would be very rare for a franchisee to fax you their income statement and balance sheet for instance. However, I have been quite successful in asking enough questions that I arrive at a pretty good picture of how they are doing. For example, asking how many customers they have and their average ticket price per customer is a good way at getting their gross sales figure without asking directly.

Exit Strategy

I have a good friend who is a business consultant at McKinsey and one of his favorite questions to ask his clients is “okay, but what then?” If everything works well, and in 10 or 15 years you want to retire, will you be able to?  Some franchises do not allow the transfer of the franchise to another party. On the other side, some franchises are more than happy to buy you out at a fair price whenever you are ready to sell. It is much easier to ask these kinds of questions before you get involved with a franchise than once you have signed on the dotted line. It is always good to have an exit strategy even if you never use it.

Evergreen Provision

Similar in some ways to an exit strategy is what is sometimes called an “evergreen provision.” This provision in the franchise agreement gives the franchisee the right to transfer the franchise to your kids without the franchisor blocking the transfer in some way. Personally, I would love to be able to pass a business along to my kids someday so this is another thing I look for.

Defined Territories / Encroachment

Most lawsuits in franchising seem to come out of encroachment.  Encroachment is when the franchisor opens another store right across the street from your store and half of your customers leave. This is a nasty practice and certainly something that you should be very careful to research before you enter in to any franchise. What makes this subject so complex is that you want lots of branches for brand recognition – just not right next to your branch. One of McDonald’s strengths, of course, is that they have locations all over the world. However, even McDonalds has to be careful not to open their branches so close together that neither can survive. Exactly how this is managed varies from franchise to franchise, but is a very important thing to take into account. The policy should be clearly spelled out in the agreement so you don’t wake up and find a new location right across the street.

Franchising is a very important part of business in the US and the rest of the world. Franchises come in virtually every industry and in a myriad of shapes and sizes.  I would encourage people who are planning on becoming an entrepreneur to look into franchising as an option. As my mother says, “you won’t know any less.” But you need to be careful. Do extensive due diligence. Talk to franchisees, talk to your friends, get advice from accountants, get counsel from lawyers, and come into the SCORE office in Grand Rapids (111 Pearl St. NW) for some free advice paid for by the Small Business Association.  wwwscoregr.org

 

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Spectrum Health United Hospital receives award

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Baby-Friendly USA announced that Spectrum Health United Hospital has received prestigious international recognition as a Baby-Friendly Designated birth facility.

Baby-Friendly USA, Inc. is the U.S. authority for the implementation of the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI), a global program sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). The initiative encourages and recognizes hospitals and birthing centers that offer an optimal level of care for breastfeeding mothers and their babies. Based on the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding, this prestigious international award recognizes birth facilities that offer breastfeeding mothers the information, confidence and skills needed to successfully initiate and continue breastfeeding their babies.

“It is amazing to see how the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative has already begun to transform our culture and the health of the community we serve. We are leading the way for breastfeeding success by our passion and commitment to provide the best quality of care possible,” states Jennifer Peterman, RD, IBCLC, Spectrum Health United Lifestyles.

Therese Alt, obstetrics manager at Spectrum Health United Hospital states, “I am honored to work with a team of staff and providers who are willing to gain new knowledge and implement processes that provide moms with opportunities to be successful at breastfeeding. We are blessed to have optimal care and support for our breastfeeding mothers and babies.”

Kelly Wiersema, MD, with United Hospital Obstetrics and Gynecology says, “We are so excited about all of the positive improvements we have made to help educate and support our breastfeeding moms! A job well done by everyone involved!”

There are more than 20,000 designated Baby-Friendly hospitals and birth centers worldwide, with 193 active Baby-Friendly hospitals and birth centers in the United States. The “Baby-Friendly” designation is given after a rigorous on-site survey is completed. The award is maintained by continuing to practice the Ten Steps as demonstrated by quality processes.

 

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BUSINESS BITS

Family Cuts and More

 

Are you looking for a new place get your hair done? Relax with a manicure and pedicure? Try a new look? You might want to check out Family Cuts n’ More, located at 4023 17 Mile Road, in the strip mall near Tractor Supply.

Owners Kristin Reister and Agnes Meksula run a full service salon with men’s, women’s and children’s haircuts, highlighting, color, perms, facials, manicures, pedicures, shellac, and acrylic nails.

Great customer service is uppermost in their mind.

“We offer great pricing and a very clean, friendly atmosphere. We try to individualize each client’s wants and needs. We are here to serve you and pamper you,” they explained. “We try to offer the best service possible to uplift and inspire each client and visitor to touch our community with kindness.”

Hours are Monday through Thursday 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Friday 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Saturday 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Call (616) 439-8512 for more info or an appointment.

Kent Theatre stage lighting project

 

The Cedar Springs Theatre Association plans to switch to energy efficient LED lights for the stage at the historic Kent Theatre. The total cost of the improvements is expected to be about $45,000.

Meijer recently donated $1,000 to the project, and you can make a donation, too! Show your appreciation for the entertainment and venue they provide. Contributions may be placed in the donation jar in the theatre lobby; mailed to CSTA, PO Box 237K, Cedar Springs, MI 49319; or done online at www.kenttheatre.org/donate. Money may be given to the general fund or designated for theatre stage lighting.

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The Art and Science of Business Management

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By Christian Glupker, SCORE Counselor

 

The Small Business Administration lists poor management as one of the major causes of business failures. Successful entrepreneurs overcome this by recognizing three functions of business management:  Planning, organizing, and leadership.

The planning function answers three key questions: Where are we now? Where do we want to be? How do we get there? It’s like planning a family vacation. You know where you are starting and you know you want go on vacation. You just need to decide how to get to your destination. There are four different methods to successful planning: strategic, objective, operational and contingency.

Strategic planning involves deciding where you want to go on vacation. How much do you want spend? Do you want to go to the beach or skiing in the mountains? Apply the same logic to your business. Strategic planning will establish the long-term goals for your organization, as well as the policies, mission and overall direction. A solid strategic plan is one of the key drivers to a successful business.

Objective planning, also known as tactical planning, takes your vacation destination (strategic plan) and determines how you will pay for the trip and maps out how to get there. Objective planning will answer the following questions: How does the family budget change? Do we want to drive or fly? For an organization, it’s setting the short-term actions and goals needed to achieve the strategic plan. A strategic plan may cover a period greater than three years while an objective plan will cover up to three years. You will not arrive at your destination without clear directions on how to get there.

Operational planning is actually traveling to your destination. This could include plugging the information into a GPS unit or driving to an airport. For an organization, the operational plan assigns specific goals to a department and/or employees. These goals are based on the desired outcome of the objective plan. Giving your employees ownership of these goals will provide a sense of empowerment, which will significantly increase your chances of success.

Contingency planning is the possibility of unforeseen changes in your plan. For your vacation, this could include lost luggage or a flat tire. For an organization, the business environment is very dynamic, therefore remain flexible to adapt to changing customer needs and new opportunities. Remaining too rigid to your plans may result in missing key opportunities.

The second function of business management is organizing. This function establishes the organizations structure in terms of ownership and management. A well-defined organizational plan will help employees understand the leadership hierarchy, thus giving them direction when it comes to meeting the organizations goals.

The organizing function also deals with human resources. The recruitment, staffing and maintaining of skilled employees is one of the most challenging tasks for all entrepreneurs and managers.  When employees have a sense of empowerment, job satisfaction and loyalty, this will ultimately lead to an increase in productivity and success.

The final function of business management is leadership. A leader is somebody who creates a vision for the organization and then rally’s the employees around that vision. How a leader rally’s the employees depends on their individual leadership style. To be a successful leader, you should seek the input of your employees when it comes to setting goals. This will make them feel a part of the organization, thus giving them a sense of ownership in the success of the company.

Given the dynamics of the business environment, a good leader will recognize the need for change, form a new vision, and then rally the employees around that new vision. Resisting change will result in missed opportunities, as well as decreasing the chances of achieving the existing strategic plan. An organization with strong leadership recognizes that and quickly adapts to seize those opportunities.

Get free and confidential counseling with SCORE, 111 Pearl Street NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503. Call (616) 771-0305. Visit www.scoregr.org or email score@grandrapids.org.

 

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