The following Business Certificates and Trade Names were issued or renewed during the month of July 2005.
Caskets of New England
DLB Computer Technology
Eric’s Plumbing & Heating
Hwangs School of Taiwan
Maid To Impress
Wildflower Business Transcriptions
All About Amherst
Custom Market & Cafe
Light & Small Guitars
The Travel Loft
Aiello Carpet Cleaning
Better Living Sunrooms
The Cake Center
The Cleaning Agents
D & M Remodeling
Donna’s Hair Design
E & B Carpet & Upholstery Cleaning
E & J Home Improvements
The Hair Team
Izzy’s Auto Sales
Little Brazil Caf»
M & D Alterations
Mass Data Systems
Pelland Electrical Contractors
The Collector’s Corner
AOK Auto Storage
Corner’s Delight Grocery & Deli
Fire Brook Stables
D & B Transport
Carlson GMAC Real Estate
GMAC Real Estate
Harry Guitars 162 Bliss Road
Neumann Print Technologies
The New England Relocation Group
Ann Podolske Writer/Editor
Ever Bloom Orchids
Half Moon Books
Hard Knocks Press
Jaime L. Gauthier Professional Pet Sitter
Mark’s Home Maintenance & Appliance Repair
Little Brown House Daycare
Athena’s by Joannie
D & A Laborers
D & W Towing
Easy Variety & Checks
Felix’s Auto Repair
H & J Showcase
Latina & Co.
Liberty Multi Services
Millennium Auto Detailing
Platinum Auto Spa
R & S Family Fashion
Ready Rock Productions
The Basket Case
Bill’s Neon Service
Inspiria Salon & Day Spa
Just Rite Auto Trim Inc.
Mr. Fashion 25 Bliss St.
The Superior Cleaners
Taco Bell/Pizza Hut #19805
D & R Contractors
For K-9s & Felines
The Hamptons Salon
Handled With Care Gifts
Home Improvements Unlimited
Rock Locks Inc.
Therapeutic Massage Center
The following building permits were issued during the month of June & July 2005.
Amherst College Trustees
$3,200 — Interior renovations to create additional office space
Amherst College Trustees
Merrill Science Building
$73,400 — Partial re-roof
Amherst College Trustees
$317,500 — Install sprinkler system
David B. Brown
320 North Pleasant St.
$137,500 — Convert existing residential and commercial building into two-family dwelling after fire damage
Gillen-Gray Development Corp.
409 Main St.
$2,500 — Construct partition wall
41 Boltwood Walk
$8,000 — Alter to combination food market and caf»
Slobody Development Corp.
101 University Dr. A2
$83,640 — Build out portion of first floor for office space
Slobody Development Corp.
101 University Dr. B5 — Build out portion of 2nd floor for
Stavros Foundation Inc.
210 Old Farm Road
$310,000 — Renovate and repair for office/ storage use
496 North Pleasant St.
$125,000 — Renovations
Trustees of Hampshire College
Merrill House Bldg. C
$78,000 — Install sprinkler system
Trustees of Hampshire College
Greenwich House 2
$25,913 — Extend roof overhang
Trustees of Hampshire College
Greenwich House 3
$25,913 — Extend roof overhang
945 & 947 Chicopee St.
$395,500 — Build package store
City of Chicopee
617 Montgomery St.
$74,801,000 — Build Chicopee Comp High School
307 Grattan St.
$144,000 — Build mezzanine with offices at Arnold’s Meats
64 Rivers Ave.
$10,000 — Construct room
45 Crane Ave.
$194,560 — Create office space
PBHQ Whitney Inc.
330 Whitney Ave.
$30,000 — Renovate offices
Big Y Foods Inc.
162 North King St.
$750,000 — Renovate exterior facade
City of Northampton
140 Pine St.
$11,000 — Partition walls to divide Room B9
City of Northampton
125 Locust St.
$219,690 — Replace barn roof
City of Northampton
212 Main St.
$9,550 —Construct 2 partition walls and doors – 2nd floor school department
347 King St.
$148,000 — Install elevator shaft
347 King St.
$25,000 — Install display area in reception area
Maplewood Shops Inc.
2 Conz St.
$6,000 — Replace hood system for cooking school
Northampton Co-operative Bank
8 Main St.
$49,000 — Build three conference rooms and kitchen
Northampton Realty LLC
293 King St.
$6,000 — Erect illuminated ground sign, Lia Honda
Northampton Realty LLC
293 King St.
$2,600 — Erect illuminated
wall sign – Honda
Philip Dowling and Bruce Tolda
881 North King St.
$4,500 — Relocate store to
rear storage area
Village Hospital Hill LLC
$4,845 — Repair bus stop
759 Chestnut St.
$267,000 — Renovate auditorium
Boston Medical Center
354 Bernie Ave.
$126,000 — Interior build-out
1655 Boston Road
$250,000 — Interior and exterior renovations
1500 Main St.
$155,000 — Alterations and expansion of Suite 2504
1295 State St.
$758,923 — Construction of corporate aircraft hanger
1500 Main St.
$27,500 — Interior renovations
1500 Main St.
$146,000 — New office space, Suite 1500
142 Hancock St.
$35,000 — Addition to existing office
2908 Main St.
$67,400 — Interior renovations
1105 Boston Road
$31,000 — Construct Subway shop
Brian Allen TRM
$15,000 — Cingular Wireless antenna
Adams, Wendy Rey
Aldrich, Jeffrey P.
Allen, Michael R.
Baceski, Tina M.
Barrett, Sandra R.
Belanger, George A.
Birdwell, Devita Lyne
Booth, Eleanor J.
Borek, Matthew J.
Brescia, Joseph F.
Craven, Dawn M.
Cubi, Christina B.
Daviau, John E.
Davies, John W
Demears, Helen A.
Dion, Joey M.
Disanti, Michael A.
Doucette, Tammy L
Dowd, Paul T.
Dugre, Richard L.
Dunbar, Harold J.
Elliott, Christine Marie
Faille, Rose Mary
Fontaine, Robert E.
Frogameni, Joseph D.
George, Christopher M.
Godbout, Richard P.
Granger, Beverly A.
Guimont, Jacqueline L.
Haber, Douglas E.
Haracz, Lisa Marie
Hennessey, Colleen T.
Hiltbrand, Michael R.
Hoar, Joshua A.
Hodges, Kristin S.
Holland, Robin Lynn
Hynan, Frank J.
Jaskulski, Christopher J.
Johnson, Troy Marcel
Kahelalis, Dennis R.
Kenney, Melanie Anne
King, Davin E.
Kingsley, Gene M.
Krzywda, John J.
Kulzer, Michael P
Labrie, Paul A.
Lalla, Lori A.
LaMountain, Marion R.
Laramee, Karla N.
Lareau, Donald Joseph
Leas, Brian Durand
Leclerc, Elizabeth A.
Liese, Mark L.
Lourakis, Steven A.
Major, Renner E.
Malanson, Frances L.
Maldonado, Jorge L.
Mansi, Kevin F.
Martinez, Orlando L.
McCoy, Raymond J.
Mozdzanowski, Lisa M.
Myers, George W.
Norwood, Kurt A.
Nowak-Bouben, Renata M.
O’Connor, John J.
Pandey, Vijai B.
Paul, Sheila A.
Perez, Julio R.
Perrier, Cheryl A.
Perrier, Robert R.
Perry, Audra R.
Petrovsky, Jr., Joseph J.
Pierog, Christopher D
Polastri, Barbara A.
Quintana, Jesus A.
Rappaport, Theo L.
Richards, Leslie Ann
Richardson, Edna L.
Roberts, Wanda B.
Robitaille, Kevin E.
Rodriguez, Luz M.
Rojas, Jose M.
Safford, Steven J.
Sanchez, Maria V.
Santangelo, Diane Marie
Santerre, Gary R.
Sattler, Darlene M.
Sefton, Randy N.
Shay, Cynthia Jean
Sliwa, Daniel Eugene
Smith, David A.
Stebbins, Jr., Richard L.
Stevens, James V.
Tetreault, Laura M.
Thibault, James P.
Thibodeau, Ronald J.
Ugolini, Robert P.
Valenti, Marilyn M.
Waller, Barbara A.
Wilson, Theresa M.
Windsor, S. Lucille
Zaler, Veronica L.
Zorn, Terri Lynne
Zurawski, Max Anthony
Since graduating, he has become, as he described it, a serial entrepreneur of sorts.
He started by creating a business focused on teaching Tai Chi, a Chinese system of physical exercises designed especially for self-defense and meditation, and has successfully grown that venture, establishing classes in many area clubs, senior centers, and health care facilities. Later, he started another business featuring tours of his native country. Over the past several years, he has led hundreds of people, many of them Tai Chi students, on visits to different areas of China.
His latest venture, one that seems laden is potential, is called ChinaAccess. It specializes in China/U.S. business development, and focuses specifically on helping business owners make connections and eventual partnerships with Chinese manufacturers.
As he shaped each of those ventures, Li leaned heavily on the Mass. Small Business Development Center Network (SBDC). A state agency (the only one anyone knows of that is based in Western Mass.), the center provides a wide range of free, one-on-one counseling, training, and capital support to people who want to do everything from start a business to sell one.
"We act as an objective, experienced set of eyes and ears for people who need some help getting started or to the next level," said Diane Fuller Doherty, director of the SBDCs Western Mass. Regional Office, located in the Andrew M. Scibelli Enterprise Center at Springfield Technical Community College. "Were there to be a resource for people facing the many challenges of business today."
In Baiging Lis case, the center helped with everything from business plans to obtaining a green card, said Fuller Doherty, who told BusinessWest that Li has always had entrepreneurial drive and also many valuable connections in China. What he needed was some help with the details and the hurdles that challenge all small business owners, from initial financing to deciding how much insurance to carry.
Georgianna Parkin, state director of the SBDC, said the agency has become an effective economic development resource over its 25-year existence, as it works to both create and retain jobs. It addresses this goal through a network of offices, or consortium, that includes the Isenberg School of Management at UMass-Amherst (the lead institution) and also Boston College, Clark University, Salem State College, UMass-Dartmouth, UMass-Boston, and the Mass. Export Center.
"The statistics show that small businesses are the backbone of the nations economy," she told BusinessWest. "We work to strengthen that backbone."
In recent years, the SBDC, funded by the U.S. Small Business Administration, the state, and UMass and other consortium members, has worked to dispel the notion that it works only with, small mom-and-pop operations, said Parkin. She told BusinessWest that small is a relative term when it comes to classifying businesses. By some definitions, that word describes those with 500 employers or fewer, and by others, the benchmark is 100 employees, she said, adding that the SBDC has assisted companies in both categories.
Still, the bulk of its work, especially in Western Mass., is with companies with 10 or fewer employees. In many cases, the businesses are sole proprietorships, as is the case with Deliso Financial and Insurance Services.
Jean Deliso, founder, told BusinessWest that after years of working for a large financial services company in Florida, she wanted to return to her native Springfield and start her own business. She went to the center for counseling because, while she was confident in her ability to help individuals make sound investment decisions, she knew she could use help with such matters as marketing her business and even picking a name for it.
"When youre a sole proprietor, getting help is important; this is a lonely game," she explained. "I dont have a board of directors, no business this size does. Its great to have a resource like this with knowledgeable people who can say, yes, youre doing it right, or no, youre not."
BusinessWest looks this issue at how the SBDC has counseled business owners like Deliso and Li and, in the process of doing so, become a driving force in job creation has for the region.
In two months, Li plans to lead of small contingent of Western Mass. business owners on a trip to the Shandong region of China. Located between Beijing and Shanghai, it is home to roughly 93 million people and businesses in fields ranging from agricultural manufacturing and production to auto making.
The purpose of the junket with all or most of the expenses paid for by the Chinese government is to help forge partnerships between Chinese industry groups and individual companies and U.S. business owners who are being advised, and in some cases told, by major clients to find ways to collaborate with China and other countries where the cost of doing business is considerably lower than it is here.
Keith Stone is one such business owner, and he may well be on the plane in October.
Stone, president of Agawam-based Interstate Manufacturing Company (IMC), and also a relatively new client of the SBDC, told BusinessWest that Hamilton Sundstrand, a division of United Technologies Corp. and one of his largest customers, wants him to partner with companies in India and China, in an effort to secure both high quality and low cost for its parts.
Stone is now working with Li in what promises to be a lengthy process to establish such partnerships. And Stone credits help from the SBDC with putting him in a position where he can take such a bold step.
Indeed, when Stone first visited the Mass. Small Business Development Center (SBDC), his business was a critical crossroads.
IMC was created to make tools and fixtures required for the assembly of parts primarily for the aerospace industry. Following 9/11, virtually every company that did business in that sector was hit and hit hard, and Interstate was one of them.
The company fought successfully to avoid bankruptcy, and business eventually improved somewhat. But even this past spring, Stone wasnt sure if his entrepreneurial venture was going to survive.
His visit to the SBDC and one of its advisors, Alan Kronick, was broad in nature, Stone told BusinessWest, adding that he was looking for some advice and direction on how to remain competitive in a changing marketplace. Kronick and other counselors provided assistance in several areas, but especially with the complex process of being positioned to bid for projects with defense contractors.
"Alan understood what I was going through, and hes helped keep me focused on where I am and where I need to be," said Stone. "Its great to have a fresh perspective on things on things like cash flow, projections, and different ways to cut expenses; he can see things that I cant."
Stones story is typical of how the SBDC works to help companies get in business and stay in business, thus fueling economic growth in all regions of the state.
"Small businesses are truly the engine driving economic development, especially in Western Mass., said Fuller Doherty. "This is where most of our net new jobs are coming from; entrepreneurs are providing jobs not only for themselves, but many other people."
Over the years, the Western Mass. office of the SBDC has helped hundreds of individuals like Deliso, Stone, and Li. Between Oct. 1, 2003 and Sept. 30, 2004 (the latest statistics available), the office assisted 618 clients, providing more than 2,626.25 hours of counseling.
More than half of those clients sought assistance in the broad category of business startup, said Fuller Doherty, noting that there are many other areas of counseling, ranging from business plan and loan package development to strategic needs assessment and marketing/sales.
In general, the center helps small business owners stay on track, said Deliso, noting that entrepreneurs like herself are versed in their particular area of expertise in her case, accounting and financial planning but not necessarily in the many facets of running a business.
"Take marketing for example," she said. "They helped me develop a marketing plan and figure out where and how I should be spending my money. Those are the kinds of things small business owners need help with."
Name of the Game
Richard Green came to the SBDC last spring, when he was entertaining thoughts of opening his own insurance agency. A long-time insurance industry veteran, Green drafted a preliminary business plan earlier this year, and drew some encouraging remarks from his lawyer, who nonetheless advised him to seek a second opinion.
"He told me that I was in the middle of the forest and needed to find a way to see through the trees," Green recalled. "He said I needed another pair of eyes."
Those eyes turned out to be Fuller Dohertys, and Green recalls that she didnt sugarcoat anything about the process of getting his venture off the ground.
"Theyre not there to pat you on the back, tell you everythings great, and send you out there," he explained. "They ask the hard questions, starting with whether you have what it takes to be in business for yourself."
An evaluation process revealed that Green did indeed have the requisite desire, talent, and capital to start his own venture. Richard Green Insurance Inc. opened for business on Elm Street in Hampden earlier this summer; a grand opening is set for later this fall.
During the process of getting his business started, Green said he turned to the SBDC for counseling on matters ranging from office furniture the center provided names of area dealers to what to name his venture.
"Putting my name on the company wasnt my first choice," he revealed. "But people at the center told me that I should use my name and then stand behind it."
Deliso said she faced the same dilemma. As she began the process of starting her venture, Deliso said she was wary of putting her family name on it. Her grandfather, Joseph Deliso, was a successful entrepreneur and founder of HBA Cast Products, while her parents started several other ventures, including Tool Craft and Pioneer Tool.
"That name was one of the reasons I left the state," she said. "I didnt want to be merely my grandfathers granddaughter; I wanted to do it on my own.
"But people at the center got me to see that this was a name that people associated with success, and it was a name I should utilize," she continued. "That was a real turning point for me; that was the right decision to make and they helped me make it."
The center has helped Li make a number of right decisions in his decade-long association with the agency. While some of his needs and challenges are unique obtaining citizenship, for example most are fairly typical.
"The center has been very helpful with all of my businesses," he said. "In the beginning, a lot of things were unclear to me, like how to make a plan, contact people, and follow through; theyre helped with all those things.
"Theyre teaching me ways to look at the big picture," he continued. "Thats where my focus needs to be."
As for the October trip to China, Li said he is using the SBDC as a resource to help identify area businesses, such as Stones, that might benefit from what he called the ultimate learning experience.
"Through this visit, people will have a clear idea of how Chinese business operates," he said. "Thats important, because partnerships are how companies here and there are going to be successful."
Assessing his entrepreneurial exploits to date, Li said that, like all business owners, he is continually reviewing his ventures with an eye toward continued growth and profitability. In other words, hes not resting on any laurels.
"You cant do that," he said, adding that the learning process that is part and parcel to being a successful business owner never really ends.
"I still have many things still to learn about business," he told BusinessWest, adding that he considers himself lucky to have a resource like the SBDC. "Theyve kept me going in the right direction."
George OBrien can be reached at[email protected]
A decade or so ago, this simple phrase stirred nostalgia and hope among area residents. That was a time when several parties were working hard to bring baseball back to Springfield after a three-decade hiatus following the departure of the Springfield Giants, who once drew crowds to Pynchon Park.
These days, however, talk of minor league baseball stirs more cynicism and doubt than it does hope. Thats because Springfield badly botched its baseball project, leaving many with a bad taste in their mouths.
Indeed, former Springfield Mayor Michael Albano and his administration tried to force baseball down the throats of the citys residents in an effort that never brought the city a team but did bring it some humiliation and some costs it certainly didnt need when one considers the communitys current fiscal plight.
We revisit this sad bit of local history, because minor league baseball, or the promise of it, is back in the news this time in Holyoke.
An Ohio-based corporation, Mandalay Entertainment, which already owns five minor league teams, is considering moving one of them, currently located in Erie, Pa., to Holyoke and a site near the Holyoke Mall. The $110 million project has a number of facets beyond baseball, including office/retail space development, a hotel, a stadium, and even housing.
There are a number of pieces to this puzzle that have to fall in place for it to become reality including everything from parcel assembly to infrastructure improvements to gaining league approval for moving one of its franchises.
As Holyoke moves into this process, we suggest that it try to learn from Springfields mistakes and not repeat them.
What were those mistakes?
Essentially, Springfield tried to force its project, in the name of economic development. The theory pushed forward was that minor league baseball would bring people to Springfield and its downtown, benefiting clubs, restaurants, and perhaps other tourist attractions and even retail. A stadium construction project would bring some temporary employment, backers said, while the facility would bring many seasonal and a few year-round jobs.
The Albano administration ventured forth without a clear mandate or any mandate from voters or business owners, and also without a workable site for a stadium. Still, the city pressed on, looking to squeeze a stadium onto a site in and around the North Gate Plaza in the citys North End.
The exercise turned out to be a poster child for bad eminent domain proceedings the city took several parcels and relocated some businesses for a stadium it never built and left Springfields baseball plans in the dust, with little enthusiasm for revival.
Ultimately, Springfields endeavor failed because the city got ahead of itself and, as we said, it tried to force the issue.
Holyoke is in a somewhat different situation, but it can still learn from Springfield. The first lesson is to make sure the support is in place before moving forward, and to build alliances that will help see the project from drawing board to reality, rather than try to maneuver around people, as Springfield did.
The second lesson is to approach the project with the right attitude. There are plenty of studies out there that suggest that minor league baseball and professional sports in general does not provide the jobs or stir the related economic development that proponents say it does.
There are exceptions, obviously. Anyone who has ventured to the Fenway section of Boston and paid $50 to park for a Red Sox game knows that a sports team can bring opportunities to a city and individual entrepreneurs.
But in Holyoke, were talking about a relocation of the Erie SeaWolves. This franchise, which would play between 60 and 70 home games a year, is not going to change the economic fortunes of the city of Holyoke.
But it could be part of a larger economic development opportunity for the city and it could also become another of a growing list of attractions that are luring visitors and conventioneers to the Pioneer Valley.
By playing it smart, as sports teams try to do, Holyoke might connect on this latest pitch for minor league baseball, and hit a home run for the region in the process.
’InterActors’ Blend Stage Savvy With Business Sense
In the theater world, acting jobs like those provided by DramaWorks InterActive are called corporate gigs.
That phrase is just one way to describe what the company does, however, as it fails to fit into any one category. Some might call DramaWorks a theater troupe, others a consulting firm, and still others, an educational resource.
Hard as it may be to define the business, though, DramaWorks has created a successful niche by combining the disciplines of theater, psychology, and business management to create a surprisingly cohesive set of services.
DramaWorks InterActive was launched in 1997, under the direction of Erik Mutén, a psychologist and organizational consultant with an MFA in Stage Direction, and Tim Holcomb, founding director of the Hampshire Shakespeare Company in Amherst and a seasoned member of the theater, film, and television industries. The partners wanted to create a company that would take the organizational issues that exist in all types of companies and put them center stage, quite literally, in order to allow managers and employees alike to consider them, examine them, and ultimately, change them for the better.
What they have created is a nationally-known consulting business that provides a unique set of tools for its clients beginning with the story-telling power of theatrical productions and continuing with facilitated discussion and problem-solving exercises needed to help move an organization forward.
"The core concept of DramaWorks is to help organizations move toward specific goals through action-learning," said Mutén. "A big problem with a lot of trainings is that they often lead to big discussions that eventually fall flat and go nowhere. Our model is much more effective at highlighting what the issues are, and allowing groups of people to gather ideas and work through them."
Setting the Stage
The company addresses a wide range of internal corporate issues, from gender and power dynamics, multi-culturalism, teambuilding, and leadership styles, to more specific issues, such as patient safety and privacy for clients in health care, or succession planning for family businesses. By staging largely improvisational skits, DramaWorks InterActors, as theyre dubbed, call attention to the complex interactions within a given company that can make it work, or detract from productivity, communication, or even the organizations overall mission.
DramaWorks has collaborated with all types of businesses, and provides a tailored suite of programs for family businesses, health care facilities, and corporations hoping to evaluate their internal culture, sometimes during a time of change. In addition to live performances and workshops, the company also publishes videos for training purposes and soon hopes to add an interactive, online component to its services.
Its current client list includes several prominent names in business, education, and health care, among them IBM, Lucent Technologies, Harvard University, Brigham and Womens Hospital, and State Farm Insurance. But the concept for a business that would couple theater with theories of psychology and management, and eventually appear at major corporations across the country, grew out of one small production staged locally.
A short play was drafted and performed for the UMass Amherst Family Business Center, dealing with the stresses of family-owned and operated business.
"We improvised a play and held two performances, and we thought that would be it," said Mutén. "But other family business centers across the country began calling and the idea started to take off."
Gradually, he said, DramaWorks expanded to offer improvisational theater pieces for a more- diverse set of businesses. One constant is the examination of what he calls "the human factor" that can often derail an existing or developing business plan or goal the feelings, emotions, opinions, work habits, or simply the different types of people that must work together in various positions for a business to succeed.
The company typically performs assessments, surveys, and interviews within an organization in order to become more familiar with its structure and background, and stages a production that directly addresses the needs of the client. Sometimes, the skits performed are already part of the DramaWorks repertoire; other times, entirely new scenes are drafted.
In either case, Holcomb explained, the lack of conventional scripts, replaced by spines improvisational tools that provide a framework of a story, but no actual lines to memorize allows InterActors to remain fluid in their words and actions, and ultimately reach their clients on a deeper level while not hitting too close to home.
"We customize everything we do," said Holcomb, "to show the dysfunctional patterns that are holding a given organization back. Typically, a company will approach us with a specific problem, but often discover problems they hadnt anticipated. We always stay one degree left of center from the company were dealing with, in order to remain hypothetical."
That could mean addressing issues at a health care facility through the guise of St. Everywhere Hospital, for instance. The effect is often one that gets people talking, both within an event and about it.
"Seeing something like a play being staged in the workplace tells people that management is trying something creative and different to address that companys problems," said Holcomb. "That alone is important right there. It creates a buzz and shows people that their management team is doing Ö something."
Holcomb was quick to point out, though, that while the dramatic portion of DramaWorks services provides its backbone, the additional components of the experience that involve the audience an organizations employees are integral to its purpose.
He explained that each DramaWorks appearance, dubbed a learning event, attempts to meet the needs and reflect the corporate structure of each client, and thusly the event could last a few hours or a full day.
"Weve really tried to integrate the consultancy part of the business as much as possible," he said. "We are called DramaWorks InterActive precisely because that interaction with our clients is such a large part of our goal, which is to facilitate and help create the work environments that we would like to see evolve."
Employees are always engaged in the experience following a performance, discussing the scenes theyve been shown, the various characters, and how they contribute to the overall culture of the company in which they work.
"Generally, we show them a scenario that attempts to illustrate the things that arent working well," Mutén explained. "Then, we have people gather into groups to come up with a different vision of the same scene; a new way it could be played out that would lead to a better result. That scene is actually played out, and people have a chance to comment, again, on what worked and what did not."
The model allows people within an organization to see things from a new perspective, while remaining in a safe, private, and entertaining environment, Mutén said, noting that the ability to see mistakes being made, and later the more effective practices put into place, is another strength of the DramaWorks method.
"Only through action learning can we arrive at better solutions," he said. "Through simulation, people are able to try things out and make mistakes in an environment where its OK and even fun to make mistakes. They will play out a number of revisions to the original scenario, and begin to see very quickly what is working and what is not."
Christine Stevens, an InterActor with DramaWorks who has also collaborated on storylines for productions in the past, said gauging a groups reaction to a performance is another way to begin dialogue among coworkers and move toward the eventual implementation of better work strategies and relationships.
"People are given a chance to share and talk about what they saw," she said, "And well sometimes use sociometrics to reflect how people feel."
A sociometric exercise, Stevens explained, could be asking participants to stand at different points within the room based on how well a production reflects their day-to-day experiences, creating a tangible spectrum.
A health care-based performance, for instance, titled Who Cares? brings to light the many issues surrounding safe, comprehensive health care and the challenges hospitals face daily in order to provide it. As a nurse struggles to care for her patient as well as direct her aide, collaborate with doctors, fill staffing shortages, and learn new equipment (shes also asked to chair the Nurse Appreciation Banquet Committee in the middle of it all), several characters come and go out of a patients room. These include an orderly, a dietary, a doctor, maybe a billing agent and their interactions are seen by the audience through the eyes of a sick patient. A phlebotomist taking blood, for instance, uses a plunger rather than a needle, exactly how it might feel to a frightened patient.
Following the performance, the audience typically health care workers themselves are asked to create that visible spectrum. Stevens said she often stands at the spot where clients who feel they relate most to the scene are asked to move, and nurses usually crowd around her quickly.
"Its very visceral for the people in the room to see, literally, where people stand," she said.
The 25-minute Who Cares? Performance and the accompanying 2 to 2 1/2-hour interactive session will be staged later this month at the National Patient Safety Seminar held by the Risk Management and Patient Safety Institute in Gaylord, Mich. Its one of the largest groups DramaWorks will assist with facilitating change this year.
"Hopefully, the CEOs and managers that attend will come out of this seminar ready to promote a new level of communication among their staffs," Holcomb said. "Its all about changing old paradigms into new ones."
And although some seasoned theater-folk might smirk and call the performance a corporate gig, Mutén knows his company rises beyond any label. Further, he suspects his fellow InterActors, as well as their audience, will leave the event with a greater understanding of the wisdom that can be gleaned from groups, rather than individuals working alone.
"Live events like this are so important because working as a group, people can better create resilient, sustainable solutions," he said. "Together, people are smarter."
Jaclyn Stevenson can be reached at[email protected]
A New Plan of Action for The Bosch
TJim Sullivan was heading back to Holyoke from a meeting in Boston last Dec. 16 when his cell phone rang.
Usually, Sullivan, treasurer of the OConnell Development Group, can talk and drive at the same time. But after only a few seconds of conversation he decided hed better pull over.
The Bosch, he was told, was on fire.
Thats the name people have used for decades when referring to the former American Bosch manufacturing complex on Main Street at the Springfield-Chicopee line. OConnell was, and is, part of an investment group known as MSBB, LLC that owned the sprawling, vacant and uninsured buildings, and had been exploring a wide variety of development options for the property.
It was an admittedly long-term project that was about to become exponentially more complicated and expensive.
"It was a quick trip back from Boston," Sullivan told BusinessWest, adding that, when he arrived at the scene around 6 p.m., the buildings were fully engulfed.
"I stayed until around midnight I didnt really know what else to do," he said, adding that he found himself joined on that frigid night by several former employees of the German-based company, which manufactured radios and other products at the Western Mass. facility. "People had tears in their eyes Ö many of them were very emotional; they had many fond memories of the years they spent there."
Sullivan didnt cry that night, but no could have blamed him if he did. The fire, which raged throughout the night, effectively gutted the imposing structure, rendering it unfit for any type of development. And, contrary to popular opinion, the blaze, while it has in some ways accelerated the process of developing that nine acres of real estate, has not facilitated it.
"People have come up to me and said, I guess this makes your job much easier," said Francesca Maltese, development manager at OConnell who is also involved in the Bosch project. "In fact, the fire makes everything harder, starting with demolition, and it means were spending money, and lots of it, when were not taking any in."
Started earlier this summer, the complex demolition process is expected to take at least the next six months. When the parcel is cleaned, the task of developing it will be easier than it is now, said Maltese, noting that it is difficult for many would-be investors to adequately evaluate the site when it is still dominated by a burned out hulk.
Still, easier is a relative term. While both Sullivan and Maltese say a number of potential uses are being explored, from health care to housing, manufacturing to retail, it is difficult to gauge how much interest there will be in the property.
Sullivan said the so-called Wason section of Springfield has repositioned itself in recent years, from a manufacturing center to a home for health care facilities ranging from physicians offices to Baystate Health Systems DAmour Cancer Center. Whether that trend will continue at the Bosch site isnt known, he said, adding that, for now, the focus is on preparing the property for development.
BusinessWest looks this issue at how the December fire has changed the equation for The Bosch and what the strategy will be for developing what must be considered a prime piece of real estate.
Maltese told BusinessWest that during one tour of the main four-story manufacturing/administration building at the Bosch complex, she came across some old plans for the structure.
"I decided I better take them before the mice ate them," she said, displaying one drawing, still in good condition, dated 1910. It shows three ornamental medallions, featuring the corporate symbol for the Bosch company, that would grace the exterior of the building.
Those medallions will be carefully extracted during the demolition process and shipped to Bosch headquarters in Stuttgart, she said, leaving this region with only memories of the plant and there are many of those.
Bob Forrant, a former machinist and business agent for the union at American Bosch in the 70s and 80s, and now an unofficial historian of the plant, told BusinessWest that, at its height during World War II, the company employed perhaps as many as 20,000 people. "They ran 24 hours a day, seven days a week."
One of many machining and manufacturing facilities that helped give Springfield its reputation and its nickname (the City of Homes) the Bosch was a coveted workplace. "That was the best place to work in the Connecticut River Valley," said Forrant. "They took good care of their people Ö everyone wanted a job there."
Opened just before World War I, the plant was taken over and essentially operated by the U.S. government during that conflict, said Forrant, noting that American leaders considered any German-controlled plant a security risk. After the war, the government gave the plant back to the Germans, who operated it until the second world war, when the government again took it over. After that conflict ended, officials put the plant out to bid, and it was purchased by a group of U.S. investors and became American Bosch.
The Springfield plant was expanded in the early 1940s with the addition of a one-story manufacturing facility. Eventually, the complex grew to more than 500,000 square feet. Over the years, workers produced a wide range of products, including motors for car seats and windshield wipers, and, in its later years, fuel-injection systems for trucks and the M 1 Abrams tank.
American Bosch was purchased by United Technologies Corp. in the mid 70s. UTC closed the facility in 1986 after years of gradual downsizing, part of a larger movement of manufacturing operations from New England to warmer, less costly areas of the country. The property had several owners and a few uses (most of them warehouse-oriented) over the next several years, said Forrant.
The complex was eventually acquired by a small development group, headed by John Bonavita, creator of Springfields Tavern Restaurant, among other projects, that was known as Crossbow, LLC. The OConnell Group, which has developed a number of buildings and parcels in the region, including the Crossroads business park in Holyokes Ingleside area, became partners in the Bosch venture in the spring of 2003.
"We looked at it as a long-term development play," said Sullivan. "Actually, a very long-term development play."
In the months after becoming part of the ownership team, OConnell explored a number of options for the Bosch property, said Sullivan, adding that the talks included consideration of both rehabbing the buildings on the site and demolition of those facilities and subsequent redevelopment.
"We looked at everything, from soup to nuts," he told BusinessWest. "We explored medical uses, retail, residential development, every option we could think of."
And while no official determination was actually made on whether to rehab or demolish the buildings, he said, the general feeling was that the one-story manufacturing building could not be reused, and that the four-story structure could, with great imagination and determination, be retrofitted.
But the fire last December brought a swift end to any and all debate.
Out of the Ashes
Suspected to be a case of arson, the intense fire leveled the one-story section of the complex, and caused irreparable damage to the main building. In the days following the blaze, many former employees of the Bosch, Forrant among them, drove by the site to survey the damage and reflect. Local historians said the city had lost an important piece of its industrial heritage.
For MSBB, LLC, the fire dramatically altered the course, timeline, and financial dynamics of the already-challenging development venture.
For starters, the blaze and the damage caused by it will greatly increase the cost of demolition, said Sullivan, who declined to give a specific figure but said it will easily exceed seven figures. Razing the structures will be a more risky proposition, he said, because the buildings are less stable than they were before the fire, making the work more time-consuming, and thus raising the price tag.
The high cost of demolition is one of the many factors that make the fire much more of a hindrance than a help when it comes to developing the property, said Maltese, adding that the fire has ultimately robbed the ownership team of flexibility with regard to the cost and timetable of the project, something that many not in this business do not understand.
"The common perception is that the fire solved a problem for us," she said. "It didnt. In fact, it created more problems for us."
When asked if MSBB can ultimately recover the costs of razing the Bosch property and make this venture profitable, Sullivan offered a conditional yes. He said much depends on the market, the level of interest in the site, and the intended future use of the property.
Over the past several years, the Wason section has been the site of a wide range of health care and biotech developments. Only a few blocks from Baystate Medical Center, the area is now home to the Biomedical Research Institute, which Baystate has created in conjunction with UMass Amherst. That stretch of Main Street is the site of many health care-related ventures. Baystate has several facilities in that neighborhood, including its cancer center, Pioneer Valley Life Sciences Center, Baystate Rehabilitation Center, and others.
Meanwhile, Atlantic Capital Investors has rehabbed several old manufacturing buildings in the area for health care and related uses. Partners Ben Surner and Mark Benoit have converted a former factory at 3500 Main St. into the new home for the Pioneer Valley Chapter of American Cross and other tenants, while also combining rehab of the former Wason Trolley building with new construction to create a complex that hosts Baystate Reference Laboratories, Novacare Rehabilitation and Physical Therapy, The Hand Center of Western Mass., and other health care businesses.
Surner and Benoit are also moving forward with plans to create the Brightwood Medical Arts & Conference Center in a large manufacturing building that actually abuts the Bosch complex.
"So health care is certainly one possibility for the Bosch property," said Sullivan, adding quickly that there are many options, including retail, residential development, and others.
MSBB is not actively marketing the property at this time, said Maltese, adding quickly there are discussions going on at a number of levels. She told BusinessWest that talk, and marketing efforts, will escalate as the demolition process continues and developers can properly evaluate the real estate.
As they talked about the Bosch property and its potential for development, both Sullivan and Maltese struggled with which tense to use with regard to the buildings on the site.
Both the present and past work, said Sullivan, noting that while the landmarks are still there, from a literal standpoint, from a development perspective they are gone, and have been since the night of the fire.
For the most part, though, those at MSBB are focused on the future. What will transpire at that the Bosch site remains to be seen, but there is cautious optimism that a productive new use can be found, one that might ease some of the many loses incurred on that night last December.
George OBrien can be reached at[email protected]
Bay Path’s New MBA to Introduce ’Entrevation’ To the Business Community
Bay Path College began its Innovative Thinking and Entrepreneurship Lecture Series three years ago, calling further attention to the schools burgeoning entrepreneurial focus within its undergraduate business program.
The college also created an Innovators Roundtable, consisting of area business leaders from Western Mass. and Connecticut, to serve as both advisors and mentors to business students. And somewhere in between entering students into the regional business concept program (and seeing those students take top honors) and coining a new term to describe a core class within the business program entrevation a light bulb went on collectively above the heads of Bay Path administrators and professors. Soon, plans went into motion to create a new masters degree program in business administration that would build on the colleges existing entrepreneurial momentum.
That light bulb is now part of all informational materials regarding the colleges newest graduate degree program, an MBA in Entrepreneurial Thinking and Innovative Practices. It is often accompanied by the story of Thomas Edison, who didnt actually invent the light bulb British inventor Warren De la Rue did but instead took an existing product, improved it, and effectively marketed it.
Classes within the new masters program, the colleges fourth, will begin in October. And just as it stems from a greater push for entrepreneurial programming campus-wide, Janette Ruder, director of the program, expects that its addition to the colleges academic repertoire will also enhance existing programs as well as the overall economic health of the region, as it prepares students for business ownership, career advances, and to make a greater impact within their chosen industries.
"There has really been a campus-wide effort to strengthen our entrepreneurial programming and make it a more distinctive part of the education we offer," said Ruder. "Over the past three years we have added courses and secured a grant from the Coleman Foundation to begin the lecture series and other programs. There has been an overall focus on the development of cooperative education, and its within that context that we created the MBA."
Brenda Wishart, director of the undergraduate entrepreneurial program and the creator and professor of the entrevation course, agreed with Ruder that the MBA represents the latest step in a wider effort to bring a new way of thinking to todays business students, and added that it is expected to bring greater notoriety to existing programs and events at Bay Path.
"We are definitely building on existing things," she said, "and there are also programs that are still developing. Everything that is happening or being planned will include a lot of theory, but will also include the application of skills in real-world environments, and to see how positive and effective that synergy is can be exciting."
The Business of Books and Brainstorming
Wishart said students the new graduate are expected to bring a new layer of experience and insight to the entrepreneurial programming, noting that existing programs at Bay Path will be a large part of the MBA coursework, including the annual lecture series, which last year featured Bob Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots, and this year will welcome Craig Rydin, president and CEO of Yankee Candle. The students will also interact closely with the Innovators Roundtable and participate in entrepreneurship challenges.
The new program is tailored toward working professionals, however. It can be completed in a year or spaced out over two years, and includes components, Ruder explained, that were designed to preserve the traditional core elements associated with an MBA, and also incorporate coursework geared toward teaching more fluid skills. These include developing and executing new ideas, services, and products in the workplace, and strengthening and enhancing creative thinking and problem-solving skills.
Those skill sets, Ruder said, are of increasing importance in todays workplace, be it a large corporation or a small business venture, due to changing consumer preferences and technology, an expanding global marketplace, and unique financial pressures that require forward-thinking interventions.
"We completed a year of market research before presenting the idea for this specific MBA program," she said. "To offer a degree that would address specific challenges, we knew it had to be one that was both innovative and traditional a traditional MBA, but with an emphasis on a new way of thinking."
Most MBA programs, Ruder explained, are similar in their coursework and structure, and have been for some time. Thats because the traditional MBA model follows a specific pattern of theory, application of skills, and study of several areas of business including management, finance, and marketing, which has proven to be largely beneficial for students.
For that reason, Ruder said the MBA in Entrepreneurial Thinking and Innovative Practices will not surrender those more traditional components in favor of more modern, or cutting-edge teaching methods. Instead, it will incorporate new components and teaching practices into that model in order to introduce the ideas of growth and creation in todays business climate.
"Its a balancing act," she said. "An effective MBA program should be knowledge-based, and we cannot drift too far into the creativity side of things and risk losing the necessary meat and potatoes that students need. There will be a constant back-and-forth in this program, to ensure that students are getting a rich educational experience."
To that end, the structure of the program has been tailored to include three specific layers of business lessons both practical and theory-based in nature.
"There will be courses in those core skills finance, management, and qualitative decision-making, for instance," said Ruder. "There will also be business courses that introduce the ideas surrounding growth strategies and entrepreneurial management essentially, looking at the big plan.
And finally, courses will be incorporated that address the overall awareness of the environment in which we operate," she continued. "These will examine ethics and legal issues, for instance, and will all be pulled together will constant application, discussion, workshops, and the incorporation of current themes in business and across the nation."
William Sipple, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at Bay Path, said several local business leaders and entrepreneurs contributed to the development of the degree program, in part through the Innovators Roundtable.
"What we found was an increasing need for people in business to be able to think in creative ways," he said, "and also that there was room for a niche such as this in the region. Just as those leaders have assisted us in developing the program, we think this MBA is going to be good for the overall development of the region. This area fosters a lot of new or reinvented businesses, and we are trying, with this degree, to offer core business skills that are extremely relevant to local business as a whole."
That relevance to the business world is a key factor that is emphasized often by the programs directors and faculty, and in the programs literature, in part to better explain the very nature of the program. Sipple said one danger related to the title of entrepreneurial thinking is that often, people associate it with opening a new business, and fail to see the programs relevance to other career paths.
"We hope to teach courses geared toward a new way of thinking," he said, "but this is not necessarily a degree just for people who want to start their own business. Its an MBA program very much rooted in core disciplines, with the flavor of being able to think beyond the norm, see new uses for existing skills, or react to issues to best address the needs of a given organization. We believe that, following our research of several industries, that this is the edge that people need to manage their companies and themselves."
Lighting the Way
The added thrust of innovation within Bay Paths new MBA program has made organizing the program and translating its unique aspects to prospective students a challenge. But Ruder said the college has relied heavily on its existing infrastructure within the entrepreneurial arts to best explain the strengths of the new program.
"Ive never seen such synergy between the development of a new program and the existing rhythm of a college," she said, repeating a word that Wishart had already used to describe Bay Paths entrepreneurial efforts. "I think the whole environment here is entrepreneurial, and as we meet with prospective students, we are explaining to them that they will embody one of the regions most recent answers to the needs of the business community college prepared professionals with a solid core of business experience and knowledge, with the added ability to think differently, and more effectively."
In short, Ruder hopes the colleges first class of MBA students will leave Bay Path prepared to create a more innovative business world and a thriving local economy; or even invent and market a better light bulb.
Jaclyn Stevenson can be reached at[email protected]
Thats the name given to a relatively new measure, for lack of a better word, of entrepreneurial activity in a community. The index was created by the U.S. Small Business Administrations Office of Advocacy and the Edward Lowe Foundation, and it takes into account several different statistics with regard to business creation and subsequent growth.
The recently conducted study using the index involved 394 communities, and Springfield was one of them. The City of Homes placed 76th overall, just ahead of Providence, R.I., and behind a diverse group of cities and towns ranging from Las Vegas (2nd overall) and Boston (29th) to Bend, Ore. (7th), and top-finisher, Glenwood Springs, Colo. Springfield even finished first in one category something called "average annual change in new-firm births," at 11.73% between 1990 and 2001.
Thats what we know. What we dont know is what all this means. As one analyst said and we agree with him being highly ranked in this study cannot be a bad thing. But just how good a thing is it, and what does it say and mean for Springfield?
Indeed, while the study has good intentions, its results are certainly open to interpretation. For example, it does not differentiate between a new business with one employee and one with 100 or 1000, and Springfield obviously has far more of the former than the latter.
Through the efforts of several area agencies, including the Springfield Chamber of Commerce and its TAP (Technical Assistance Program), Springfield Technical Community College and its small business incubators, the Mass. Small Business Development Center (SBDC), and the Western Mass. Enterprise Fund (WMEF), many small businesses have been created and nurtured. But the vast majority of these ventures are very small, with 10 employees or fewer.
Contrast this with Las Vegas, where a new business might be a billion-dollar hotel and casino, or Boston, where the venture might be a pharmaceutical company. Whats more, Springfield finished 317th in terms of the percentage of firms growing "rapidly." Considering these factors, its easy to see why the value of the Regional Entrepreneurial Index, and a ranking of 76th, could be called into question.
But while there are some problems with this new measure and its findings are certainly subjective, if one looks past the numbers there are some positive qualitative indications that can be seen.
First and foremost, we believe, Springfields fairly strong ranking shows that there is a solid infrastructure in place to support startups and existing small businesses and help them survive the rugged first few years of existence.
The TAP, for example, offers technical assistance to existing small businesses, specifically minority-owned ventures, as well grants of up to $2,500, to be used for everything from equipment to marketing. The Andrew M. Scibelli Enterprise Center at the Technology Park at STCC houses two incubators, one for students and the other for more-established ventures. The former currently boasts fledging businesses in everything from energy bars to designer umbrellas, while the latter hosts several successful businesses, from Banana Publishing, which puts out a cross-border phone book, to a local franchise for ValPak.
The WMEF, meanwhile, has provided loans to businesses that dont qualify, for one reason or another, for traditional bank financing, and the MSBDC offers a host of services to start-ups and existing businesses, from help with a business plan to assistance with adjusting to changes in the marketplace.
Most of the businesses helped along by these agencies and others in the Valley are quite small a good number are sole proprietorships and many will remain small. But all have the potential to someday become major employers. And in the meantime, each small business puts more Valley residents to work and contributes, in many ways, to the overall health of the regions economy.
While the full meaning of the Regional Entrepreneurship Index is a subject for debate, this areas commitment to promoting new-business development is not. The infrastructure now in place should continue to swell the ranks of new ventures in Springfield and the surrounding region, and this certainly bodes well for the future.