#BizVoiceExtra: A Good Challenge to Have

Call it a pleasant problem – and one I had not considered previously despite this being the 13th year of the Best Places to Work in Indiana program. You’re a winning company and you have a lot of team members who want to take part in the annual awards celebration. So what do you do?

A few organizations in the past have indicated a lottery-style system to determine attendees. During the roundtable discussion in our current issue, representatives of two of the winning companies this time around broached the topic.

Joshua Plank of WestPoint Financial noted he was sad to be missing out in 2018 due to an out-of-town commitment, but that the company table often includes “a couple of recruiters, maybe one or two partners and then typically younger people so they can see it and be a part of it. They think it’s the greatest thing ever.”

Pamela Carrington Rotto of J.C. Hart says her team takes a similar approach.

“The event, of course, is huge and we try to get a variety of folks from across the organization there. That’s always really fun and exciting for people, and it’s a great way for associates who are emerging leaders to kind of get in and see what that looks like and to be a part of it.”

The third roundtable participant is Matthew Griffin of The Garrett Companies, a Best Places winner in its first year of eligibility (recent growth helped it soar past the 15-employee minimum). While the expansion has been impressive, it is also taking place at a controlled pace.

“It has been rapid, but we still feel like we’re growing strategically. We are in a very favorable market for multi-family (real estate) development across the country,” he shares. “Our investors and our bank lending partners would like to do more deals with us and we’ve strategically said, ‘No, we’re going to do this much capacity because we (won’t be) able to perform the way we’re performing now.’ ”

The Garrett Companies, welcome to the “who’s going to attend the celebration” dilemma. It’s one that many others would like to face. And to see if that could be your organization in 2019, learn more (and apply this summer) at www.bestplacestoworkIN.com.

Griffin, Plank and Carrington Rotto provide insights on what their organizations do to establish strong workplace cultures, how they cope with industry-based turnover challenges and much more in the May-June BizVoice®.

78% of Hoosier Manufacturers Predict Growth in the Next Two Years

An excerpt from a report released by Katz Sapper & Miller

Just four years ago, many Hoosier manufacturers were nearly swamped by the challenges presented by the financial crisis and the resulting Great Recession.

Recovery ensued for many in 2011 and 2012, but most could not help but wonder if the improvement was simply a return to a pre-crisis normalcy or the beginning of a renaissance in manufacturing, powered by energy-cost advantages and onshoring. The 2014 Indiana Manufacturing Survey results provide more clues.

All things considered, Indiana manufacturers have experienced steady improvement, with the percentage describing their financial position as “challenged” dropping to 17%, down from 21% in both the 2013 and 2012 surveys and down from a whopping 47% in the 2011 survey. Not so coincidentally, 47% of Indiana manufacturers now describe their financial performance as “healthy,” up from 34% in 2013 and back in line with the improvement observed in 2012, when 44% responded as such (versus only 21% in 2011).

These new results confirm the trend we noted in last year’s report: Indiana manufacturing has made significant financial and operational improvements while rebounding from the recession. Raw materials, work-in-process and finished-goods inventories are under control; suppliers and accounts receivables are being paid on a timely basis; and a host of operational performance measures, from customer satisfaction to product quality, have noticeably improved. Indeed, Indiana manufacturing is on a path that could see it grow in terms of employment and economic output to levels not seen in more than a decade.

Also view this corresponding infographic.

U.S. Jobs Growth Hits Wall

Tough to sugarcoat this, so I won’t. Here’s an article on jobs growth in the United States and it’s not super encouraging. And according to Erick Erickson of RedState.com, this is the first time the U.S. economy has created net zero jobs since World War II. Will be interesting to see what President Obama says when he addresses Congress next Thursday.

U.S. employment growth ground to a halt in August as sagging confidence discouraged already skittish businesses from hiring, keeping pressure on the Federal Reserve to provide more stimulus to aid the economy.

Nonfarm payrolls were unchanged, the Labor Department said on Friday, the weakest reading since September. Economists had expected a gain of 75,000 jobs. The report underscored the frail economy and kept fears of a recession on investors’ radar.

"The economy is slowly grinding to a halt. The problem, however, on the policy side is that I wonder whether the numbers are truly weak enough to galvanize a political response," said Steve Blitz, senior economist at ITG in New York.

U.S. stock index futures extended losses on the data, while Treasury debt prices rose. The dollar extended losses against the Swiss franc, but rose against the euro.

Adding to the weak tenor of the report, nonfarm employment for June and July was revised to show 58,000 fewer jobs.

The average workweek dropped to 34.2 hours, the fewest since January, from 34.3 hours. Average hourly earnings fell three cents.

Despite the lack of employment growth, the jobless rate held steady at 9.1 percent. The unemployment rate is derived from a separate survey of households, which showed an increase in employment and a tick up in the labor force participation rate.

A strike by about 45,000 Verizon Communications workers helped push employment in the information services down by 48,000.

An acrimonious political fight over U.S. debt, which culminated in the downgrade of the country’s AAA credit rating from Standard & Poor’s, and a worsening debt crisis in Europe ignited a massive stock market sell-off last month and sent business and consumer confidence tumbling.

With the unemployment rate stuck above 9 percent and confidence collapsing, President Barack Obama is under pressure to come up with ways to spur job creation. The health of the labor market could determine whether he wins a second term in next year’s elections.

Obama will lay out a new jobs plan in a speech to the nation on Thursday.

The weak employment data could strengthen the hand of officials at the U.S. central bank, who were ready at their August meeting to do more to help the sputtering economy.

The Fed cut overnight interest rates to near zero in December 2008 and it has bought $2.3 trillion in securities. Many analysts say its arsenal is now largely depleted, although they expect it to do more to try to prop up growth.

BSU Economist: U.S. Jobs Boost in March a Sign of Recovery

It’s no secret things have hardly been rosy in the U.S., or the world for that matter, when it comes to economic progress in the past two years. But Ball State University economist Michael Hicks sees light at the end of the proverbial tunnel, citing American job growth in March as a key indicator. A recent release from BSU asserts:

Reports that the American economy added about 216,000 jobs in March is solid evidence that a recovery is taking hold, says economist Michael Hicks, director of Ball State’s Center for Business and Economic Research.

The U.S. Department of Labor announced this morning that businesses created 216,000 jobs last month, after adding 192,000 jobs in February. The past two months mark the fastest two-month pace of job creation since before the recession began. Factories, retailers, education, health care and an array of professional and financial services expanded payrolls.

"But it will take about two years with job growth at double this rate to nudge the unemployment rate back down toward the 5.5 percent level that might be the new normal," Hicks says. "The March numbers do indicate that the 50 cent run-up in gas prices hasn’t yet turned the economy backward, but most certainly, job growth would’ve been stronger at $3 a gallon prices.

Keep Your Business Innovative to Separate You From the Rest

Interesting blog here from Copyblogger about how to keep your business from getting stuck in the mire of routine (and see today’s earlier post on GAP). All too often, businesses can fall victim to doing things like they’ve been done in the past, with little thought of what can be different in the future. Hopefully, these tips can get us all thinking in those terms:

Keep the innovative ideas flowing
Finally, it’s easier to keep the new ideas flowing in to your business if you have a structure in place that allows cross-pollination to happen on a regular basis. Here are some techniques:

Create an informal Board of Directors. Gather a group of 3-5 people who are willing to support your efforts. Meet with them in person or by phone at least four times a year. Update them on your goals, the progress you’re making, and your struggles. Let the ideas flow, and take good notes.

Join a Mastermind group. Many groups meet monthly, some more often. Some Chamber of Commerce organizations coordinate them, but you can also find virtual Mastermind groups with a quick web search. The group supports each member, so you’ll both offer and receive encouragement and ideas.

Join a virtual private community. Sites like Third Tribe are great places to connect with like-minded people and to generate exciting new business ideas.

Consider working with a coach. Because business coaches speak to many different clients, they’ll naturally cross pollinate your conversations with ideas they’ve picked up from helping other people.