Archive for July, 2007
I know we all still want to do something about the high price of gasoline. Of course, we could drive less, walk occasionally and even take the bus, but we all know that won’t happen. But maybe there is something practical we can all do. The answer to America’s high gas prices might just be looking at you from the bottom of your cereal bowl.
Only a borderline genius-intellectual raconteur like me could come up with a brilliant solution to the energy crisis that requires each and every one of us to do practically nothing and still reduce the oil crisis by producing a new source of ethanol — your morning cereal.
Nutritionists have railed for many years about the incredible amounts of sugar in cereal. Not just the over-frosted, sugar-coated, marshmallow-laden cereals they hooked all of us on as kids, but even the so-called regular cereals have a good chunk of America’s favorite white powder, or the sweet tooth’s other favorite fix, corn syrup baked into their cheery little O’s. Our current adult generation is not only record setters in obesity and diabetic overload, but is the first to continue to crave the super sugar bowl o’ crunch we got as hyperactive kids.
Too much sugar is America’s breakfast of choice. Donuts, Danish sweet rolls and syrup-laden pancakes and waffles join the sugar bowl as morning fare. And I have to point out — all that sugar don’t help your attitude much. Even with a sugared latte.
For the last couple of decades, I have not been big on traditional breakfast fare, but even I have succumbed to the siren song of the cereal killer. I admit it I’ve knocked off the full box of Captain Crunch in a single day.
It would be good for all of us (well, maybe not dentists) to cut back on our sugar overdose. Our responsibilities as consumers would lead us to ask “what do we do with all the extra boxes of sugar cereals?” The answer: ethanol.
As I understand it, we can’t make enough ethanol from corn, which so far is the grain and method of choice, so the latest schemes are to try to make it from woodchips or grass clippings. Now, ethanol is the same as alcohol, which they make from sugar and grains. We make cereal from grains and sugar, so my high school chemistry notes tell me this could work. We can run our cars on sugar flakes and crunch bombs.
It could even become one of those NASCAR sponsorship rivalries. The cars would run on the cereals they advertise: the Froot Loops Ford and the Cocoa Puff Chevy versus the Trix Toyota. The Battle Creek bunch will keep their production high; we get more renewable fuel and every body upgrades the waistline. Everybody wins.
If we still need more ethanol … there’s always beer … What am I saying!?
To borrow a line from Bryan Adams’ recent hit “Open Road,” the Canadian rocker keeps “rollin’ on and on and on.”
His self-titled debut was released in 1980; “Anthology” chronicled his 25-year career in 2005. In between, the singer-songwriter received three Academy Award nominations for best original song, a Grammy Award, an American Music Award, two Golden Globe Awards for best original song, and several Juno Awards.
He’s sung with Barbra Streisand, Pavarotti, Bonnie Raitt, Sting, Tina Turner and Rod Stewart. The hits are numerous: “Run to You,” “Summer of ‘69,” “Straight From the Heart,” “Please Forgive Me,” “(Everything I Do) I Do It For You,” “All For One,” “Heaven” and “Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman?”
The star will play the Toledo Zoo Amphitheater at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 7. Tickets are $49.50 and $37.50. Also on the bill is George Thorogood & The Destroyers.
Adams recently answered questions for Toledo Free Press via e-mail.
TFP: Where are you?
Adams: I’m on tour in Denmark this weekend. I tour all the time, 10 days a month, somewhere in the world.
TFP: You recently were working on your next disc. When can fans expect that to be out? Is there a title?
Adams: I’ve been in Switzerland working on it. I expect it will be out sometime in the autumn. Title to be decided!
TFP: Will you play new material on this tour?
Adams: Not unless the album is out. Everybody records the shows these days with their cameras and puts them up on YouTube, so I’ll wait until the new record is out.
TFP: What’s one of your earliest memories of music?
Adams: Driving in my mum’s Corvair leaning over the seat to turn up the radio.
TFP: You hit it big when MTV was in its heyday, and you made some memorable videos.
Adams: It’s horrible when you think you look like Shrek and suddenly you have to be on film. I loathe being on film more than you can imagine; I’d rather have Chinese water torture.
TFP: You’ve written and co-written so many great songs. Talk a bit about your philosophy when it comes to songwriting — what inspires you?
Adams: I’m not sure I have a philosophy about it; it’s an intangible thing. Many of my best songs were once mumbles of incoherent words that sounded good. I can remember doing a demo for a song called “You Can’t Take Me” for the film “Spirit.” The producers got so used to the mumble vocal that when the actual words got written, they made me rewrite it to sound more like the mumble! I’m the world’s greatest mumbler, perhaps.
TFP: What do you like about playing live?
Adams: Ah, there you have my Achilles heel, my soft spot, my refuge where I can disappear for 10 days a month into a surreal existence of hotels and audiences. Then I go home to quiet reality. Truthfully, it’s a great way to discover what to do next musically. For example, I started to do an acoustic album a couple of years ago until I went on tour in the U.S. and realized no one would give a s*** about it, as people wouldn’t expect it from me.
TFP: What do you want fans to take away from your music?
Adams: Just one of many rides in their life.
George Thorogood is full of good lines. “Rock ‘n’ roll doesn’t sleep, it just passes out,” he bellowed before saying “¡Adios!” after an interview July 23.
You won’t get a line of bull while talking with the blues-rock guitarist. Just like his music, Thorogood is straightforward, hard-hitting and sometimes sarcastic. In other words, the singer-songwriter who struck gold with The Destroyers with “Bad to the Bone,” “Move It On Over,” “I Drink Alone” and “Who Do You Love?” was entertaining.
TFP: How do you pick songs to cover?
Thorogood: I listen to a song and I go, “This song is for us.” It’s the same way when we write stuff.
I don’t write music that’s not suited for the artist. There are very few people like Ray Charles who can do anything; Elvis Presley can do anything … Most people have a certain lick that they’re very good at and that’s what I go for, that groove. Let’s face it, “Get a Haircut” would have been a dopey song if we didn’t do it; it’s a dopey song anyway, but. “If You Don’t Start Drinkin’ (I’m Gonna Leave)” is not a song for Barbra Streisand, is it? “Bridge Over Troubled Water” is not for The Destroyers. I just try to stay within my limitations … Clint Eastwood was made to be in a saddle, wasn’t he?
TFP: What is it about your sound that makes it classic?
Thorogood: If you had to eat toast and coffee every day for breakfast for the rest of your life and a couple hardboiled eggs, would that bother you? No, every store has Budweiser in it, doesn’t it? Every other block has a Chevy dealership. You know that’s what I thought about when I started to begin with: I’m not going to make headlines, I know that, but on the other hand, I’m never going to go out of business. That was the plan from day one; I sold the best burgers in town.
TFP: Willing to share a story behind a track from your 2006 disc, “The Hard Stuff?” How about “Any Town USA?”
Thorogood: I had that in mind a long time ago because I figured it was a song that was meant for our band. You’re not going to see The Rolling Stones in “Any Town USA.” You’re not going to see Bruce Springsteen or Madonna in any town; you’re going to see them in New York or LA or Chicago. But The Destroyers could be playing anywhere at any given time.
TFP: And “Bad to the Bone?”
Thorogood: I was on this tour with The J. Geils Band and The Stones, and every time you heard the opening lick of “Love Stinks,” the crowd would go bananas … And every time they heard the opening chord to “Start Me Up” or “Honky Tonk Woman,” the fans would just go bananas because there’d be a gap between it, you know what I’m saying, like a break; you’d just hear the opening lick and it’d stop.
A multiple-offer situation occurs when more than one buyer shows interest in buying the same property at the same time. Few situations facing buyers or sellers can be more potentially frustrating. They are ripe with potential for misunderstanding and missed opportunity. It makes some people want to stand near the toilet.
As a seller with more than one offer, confidence sometimes sets in. Some sellers see it as an opportunity to ignite a war between buyers until one party is left standing. Most buyers don’t appreciate this, especially when the price goes above market value. Expect them to become disinterested or make up for the inflated price by being difficult during escrow with inspections and contingencies. In a buyer’s market where buyers can often choose between 30 other properties, don’t be surprised when a buyer moves on. Greed can leave a seller empty-handed with no buyers in sight.
Sellers risk less by choosing the price-satisfied, well-qualified buyer. Let’s get crazy and say an owner gets 10 offers on his home. As a listing agent representing the seller, I would suggest first considering the buyer’s qualifications.
Let’s say three of the offers are cash offers. The other seven may be set aside. Buyers offering the most cash forward would likely win out and be given notice of highest and best.
If one of the cash offers is highest, it might be accepted on the spot, and the other two accepted as back-up offers, but it might not necessarily be the highest. Perhaps the terms are better on one offer and a buyer is more flexible with the closing and possession dates. Perhaps a buyer’s lender is more reputable. A seller could counter all three cash offers, but also run the risk of ticking everyone off, thereby losing his best buyers.
Now for purchasers, as a buyer put on notice for his highest and best offer, it’s important to know you may not get a second chance. By the same token, you should only go as high as you feel comfortable. Your Realtor can offer suggestions and advice on other similar properties nearby that have sold, but decisions are made by the buyer. Also, be aware that even a full-price offer does not guarantee you will obtain the property. Other offers may go above list price or may have more attractive terms, such as financing or possession dates.
Keep in mind: If the seller counters your offer, your offer still remains at risk. There’s the possibility the seller could rescind the counter offer and accept another offer before you’ve had an opportunity to consider it and respond.
In these situations, buyers and sellers alike should appreciate that only one offer will result in a sale, often leaving the other buyers disappointed. While little can be done to alleviate those feelings, fair and honest treatment throughout the negotiations process goes a long way. Prompt and open communication improves the chances that everyone, successful or not, will feel they were treated fairly and honestly.
Jody Zink is a licensed Realtor in Ohio and Michigan with the Loss Realty Group. She can be reached at (419) 725-1881 or through her Web site at www.JodyZink.com.
A small local sign shop in Downtown Toledo, Clear Images Promotional Products, is making bumper stickers and rally signs for U.S. Sen. Barack Obama’s presidential campaign.
Clear Images is producing 100,000 bumper stickers and 55,000 rally signs for Obama’s campaign. The 11-by-7-inch “Obama ’08” signs are screen printed in three colors, one color at a time on both sides of the signs, which are then cut, counted and boxed for shipping — all in the same union shop.
With four signs on a sheet, workers can print 1,200 signs per hour, said Frank Ozanski, the founder and a partner in the privately owned business.
Ozanski has been making campaign signs for local and state political candidates for several years, but this is the company’s first contract for a national candidate. He said Clear Images got the contract through a similar firm, Tigereye Design, in Greenville.
That company is a union designer and manufacturer of promotional items for trade unions, political groups and businesses nationwide. However, it also has roots in Toledo.
Tony Baltes founded Tigereye Design in 1974 after he graduated from UT. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because Baltes played on the unbeaten Rocket football teams in the early 1970s.
Baltes began selling buttons to union and political organizations, and his company has grown into a national supplier of promotional products. When he needed a source for campaign signs, he contacted Ozanski.
“Although we’re competitors in some areas, we have worked with Tony’s company on other projects so it’s like doing business with family,” Ozanski said.
It all began as a family business in Ozanski’s basement 12 years ago while he worked at Pilkington Glass. Clear Images has grown into a promotional products company that now occupies an 11,500-square-foot building on 11th Street in Downtown Toledo with 13 employees.
Ozanski made his first big move when Bill Welling, owner of the former Design Graphics and Star Graphics in Bowling Green, retired. Ozanski bought that business and its equipment and has added new equipment as his business grew.
“We took a leap of faith to purchase Welling’s operation,” Ozanski said.
That faith and a lot of hard work has resulted in a growing business that produces not only political signs and bumper stickers, but also signs of all sizes as well as the wire frames for campaign and yard signs.
Clear Images also produces screened or embroidered caps, shirts, jackets and other apparel. The company creates its own screens in-house, which is more expensive, but saves time in getting screens for last-minute orders.
“We’re low-priced, we’re union and we’re going to stay Downtown. I felt we needed to stay Downtown if we wanted to continue making political signs,” Ozanski said.
The company recently moved from its first commercial space of 2,000 square feet in a nearby building on 12th Street to its current facility. The employees are members of the Sign & Display Union Local 639.
Ozanski’s mother, Zora, operates one of the three embroidery machines at Clear Images. She may be the oldest worker in the union at 81, he said.
Ozanski credits much of his success to a local organization, Assets Toledo, which trains, mentors and supports self-employment and small business entrepreneurship.
“I believe that without Assets Toledo, I wouldn’t be where I am today,” Ozanski said. “They taught us to find your niche, don’t put all your eggs in one basket, get your clientele and contracts and then get your building.”
Ozanski is a graduate of Assets Toledo’s 13-week, 25-session course that teaches potential entrepreneurs the basics of setting up and running a small business. The local nonprofit group has trained more than 500 graduates, helped to develop 125 business start-ups, reinforced 142 businesses, while creating 126 full-time and 117 part-time jobs since it began in 2000.
“Some men and women have a good business idea but do not have the ability or knowledge to develop the idea and become successful entrepreneurs,” said Olivia Holden, executive director of Assets Toledo.
Ozanski has given back to the organization by serving on its board of directors, currently as its president.
Ozanski said he got a micro loan from Assets Toledo to buy a vinyl cutter to make vinyl magnetic signs for automobiles and other uses when no bank would consider giving him a loan.
“The networking we learned at Assets has a snowballing effect on business,” Ozanski said.
Ozanski believes in doing business for and with other local business to help sustain the local economy. Clear Images buys all its garments from F.W. Galliers, a wholesale apparel supplier in Toledo.
Clear Images designed and produced special T-shirts for the dedication of the Veterans’ Glass City Skyway for the Ironworkers Local 55. They also made the embroidered shirts for the Keith Dressel Memorial Ride.
Clear Images also makes vinyl magnetic signs for Dunbar Mechanical’s fleet of trucks. It made all of the directional signs for the Toledo Zoo. It is licensed to make products for BGSU.
Ozanski’s business partner, Mike Micel, is a BGSU graduate who helped land the contract with the university. Micel does most of the marketing for the company.
He joined the firm three years ago when Ozanski was ill and needed help running the business. Micel knew him through their families and merged his business with Ozanski’s.
“It was divine intervention that brought us together,” Ozanski said.
“You’ve got to have a good team in a family business and our employees are our greatest asset,” Micel said.
Meeting for a round of golf, you find yourself the first to arrive at the home of a friend of a friend. Although you are parched, when the host, whom you barely know, offers you a drink, you politely decline.
“Are you sure you don’t want something?” the host asks again, obviously sincere.
“I’m sure. Thanks, though,” you say with a smile and hand gesture.
As the host disappears into the kitchen, you take a seat on the couch, wondering why you declined his genuine offer. He returns with two bottles of water and places one on the coffee table in front of you.
“In case you change your mind,” he says with a smile. Quickly, your mind is changed. You lean forward and grab the cold bottle. “Thanks,” you say as you twist off the cap.
Now, imagine the same situation in the home of a close friend, someone with whom you have an established personal relationship. Chances are you would have happily accepted their offer the very first time. Why is it that we have such an instantaneous reaction to decline when someone we barely know offers us something to drink?
No matter how awkward the first scenario may be, the moment you reached out and accepted the bottle of water, a small step was made in establishing a personal relationship with your unfamiliar host. For you, the offer was a simple, but welcoming gesture, making you feel a little more at home in a foreign place. For the host, your acceptance was a small victory for easing the tension and making him feel like a good host.
The wonderful thing is that the same thing is true in a business setting. Often in business, we sit and contemplate how we can better establish personal relationships with those we do business with, yet we often overlook the simple things we can do to get things started on the right foot.
The offer and acceptance of a beverage at the start of an appointment, meeting or while waiting in a lobby is the simplest form of establishing a relationship of mutual giving and accepting. As a guest, your acceptance shows you are unguarded; you appreciate working with your host and want them to know you are happy to be there. As the host, your offer puts your guest at ease to not just take a drink, but to work with you comfortably on your home turf. With this simple exchange, the distance between the two parties is shortened, even before any business has started.
In business, and especially in sales, everything is about momentum and getting things off to a good start. This beverage exchange is one of the most overlooked, yet effective details of starting the relationship and the sale off right. While it is a simple transaction, it carries with it a lot of weight.
Even in a business situation, personal relationships are everything. People want to do business with friends because it is an easy, enjoyable and trusted relationship. If you want your customer to see you as a friend, you must encourage interactions that symbolize friendship in even the slightest way.
Whether you are the CEO of the company or somebody much lower on the pecking order, demonstrate your willingness and persistent desire to serve by offering your guest a great-tasting cup of coffee. This cup of coffee should be the first thing you sell to them. After all, if you can’t sell them on that, how do you expect to sell them on the idea of doing real business with you?
Similarly, if you are the guest, happily accept this generous offer of coffee. You will be surprised by how comfortable this will make you and your host feel. By breaking the instinctual resistance of this small exchange, you will open a much bigger door to friendship and opportunity.
Tom Richard is a Toledo-based sales trainer, gives seminars, runs sales meetings and provides coaching for salespeople. For more information, visit www.TomRichard.com, call (419) 441-1005 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Columbia Gas of Ohio ensured its position this year as the title sponsor of the Ribs on the River through 2010 by extending its original three-year commitment to five years.
Company spokesman Chris Kozak said the event, which will be in its second year Aug. 3 to 5 in Downtown Toledo’s Promenade Park, is an opportunity to give back to Toledo.
“We decided it was a good opportunity to serve Downtown Toledo and one of the major communities we serve,” Kozak said.
Kozak said last year’s inaugural event drew in excess of 30,000 people. He said event organizers hope to make this year’s Ribs on the River even more of a family-friendly event. The festival grounds this year will feature a children’s play area.
“We’re trying to have so much activity in the park that it becomes something you want to come to for a couple of days as opposed to just once,” Kozak said.
Tim Yenrick, executive director of the American Red Cross Greater Toledo Area Chapter, the benefiting charity of this year’s Ribs on the River, said the event would be the largest volunteer event for his organization. With around 500 disaster relief volunteers in the local American Red Cross database, Yenrick said the organization was more than up to the task of supplying help for the three-day festival.
“I think [CitiFest] felt we had a strong enough volunteer base to cover all three days of the event,” he said.
Yenrick’s organization will receive volunteer support from other Red Cross chapters in the region as well as KeyBank, the event’s other major sponsor.
As for how much money his organization would receive from event proceeds, Yenrick said he is unsure because of a program that will allow the local Red Cross chapter to receive a portion of every paid admission for individuals who return a raffle form.
“We’re thrilled to work with CitiFest, and we’re also thrilled to work with the major sponsors,” Yenrick said. “We’re hoping for good weather and lots of rib eaters.”
Three days worth of music is lined up for the Columbia Gas Ribs on the River event Aug. 3-5.
As patrons taste the ribs of vendors from across the nation, they’ll listen to music from some local favorites and bigger-name bands.
The event begins Aug. 3 with music from four groups. Kyle White kicks everything off with her folk-rock style music. Following her are The Swamp Kings, the Tim Oehlers Trio, and the headlining rock and roll band, The Danger Brothers.
“We’re the largest rib event in Northwest Ohio,” said Julie Champa, who is the executive director of Ribs on the River. “Last year we had more than 30,000 people show up. Music is a big part of the draw.”
Aug. 4 is packed with music that starts with cover band 56 Daze, followed by the psychedelic rock group Fortune Cookie Mama and Boogie Matrix Mechanism.
Also Aug. 4, Toledo’s Voodoo Libido will play with The Blue Suit Ultimate Blues Review. Afterward, headliner Yo Mama’s Big Fat Booty Band takes the main stage.
“We call it bounce music,” said John-Paul Miller of Yo Mama’s Big Fat Booty Band. “It’s kind of a conglomeration of a lot of different styles. Basically it’s all danceable music, so when we play at shows we look out to our audience and everyone is bouncing.”
Tickets for the event are available through the CitiFest Box Office by calling (419) 249-4090 or visiting the group’s Web site, www.citifest.org.
The Dirty Birds have taken a liking to the Tiger Den, as two Toledo Mud Hens have shined during call-ups to the team’s parent organization, the Detroit Tigers. Infielder Mike Hessman and outfielder Ryan Raburn have both contributed in helping the Tigers secure two wins in Chicago during a five-game set with the American League Central Division rival White Sox July 23 to 26.
Raburn led a hit parade July 25 in Detroit’s 13-9 win over Chicago by driving in seven runs on four hits, two of which were home runs. Raburn’s seven RBIs were one shy of the club’s record of eight, set by Jim Northrup. Raburn made the emergency start for Gary Sheffield, who was scratched from the lineup.
Since being called up by the Tigers July 6, Raburn has gone 10-for-24 in 10 games, driving in 10 runs and hitting three round-trippers. Raburn’s only other stint in the major leagues came for Detroit in 2004 when he hit a dismal .138 in 29 plate appearances.
Hessman, who was promoted to Detroit July 23 due to an injury to Marcus Thames, is hitting a solid .333 in his three appearances for the Tigers. Hessman drove in the go-ahead runs on a bloop single in Detroit’s 9-6 win over Chicago July 23. Hessman homered in the Tigers’ 8-7 loss July 24.
This is the third appearance in the major leagues for Hessman, his other two being in 2003 and 2004 for the Atlanta Braves. Hessman has a career batting average of .186 in 102 plate appearances in the bigs.