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Verizon Extends Broadband Network

WOBURN — Continuing to build on its strategy to provide voice and data networks to businesses and mobile professionals across the country, Verizon Wireless recently announced the expansion of wide-area wireless broadband services to the Springfield, Northampton, and Amherst areas through its BroadbandAccess and V CAST offerings. The expansion, based on the company’s Evolution-Data Optimized network technology, creates coverage along Interstate 91 traveling from the Connecticut border to the college towns in and surrounding Amherst and up to Hatfield. BroadBandAccess coverage is being expanded in Springfield, West Springfield, Amherst, Hatfield, Northampton, Hadley, Holyoke, Chicopee, Ludlow, Palmer, Wilbraham, Longmeadow, and Agawam. For more information, visit www.verizonwireless.com.

AIM’s Confidence Index up in October

BOSTON — The Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM) Business Confidence Index gained 2.9 points in October to 59.9, its highest reading in 20 months. The rise moved the Index above a narrow range in which it had fluctuated for most of the past two years, according to Raymond G. Torto, chair of AIM’s Board of Economic Advisors and Principal, CBRE Torto Wheaton. Massachusetts employers were significantly more positive about national economic conditions, reflecting rising stocks, falling energy prices, and favorable news on interest rates, added Torto. Survey respondents also reported stronger sales and an increase in hiring. The Index is based on a survey of AIM member companies across the state, asking questions about current and prospective business conditions in the state and nation, as well as for their respective organizations. For more information, visit www.aimnet.org.

Bay Path Seeks Sponsors for Women’s Conference

LONGMEADOW — ‘Resilience’ is the theme for the 12th annual Bay Path College Women’s Professional Development Conference on April 27 at the MassMutual Center in Springfield, and keynote speakers have been secured to address that subject. They are: Valerie Plame, the CIA operative whose identity was disclosed by the media, resulting in an unwelcome end to her career; Lynn Donohue, a high-school dropout who became a millionaire by starting her own bricklaying company; and poet and author Maya Angelou. Businesses interested in marketing opportunities during the conference should contact Kary Lewis, director of Special Programs, at (413) 565-1293 or via e-mail at [email protected].

Bright Nights Features New Area

SPRINGFIELD — Santa’s Cottage is a new display that will be featured at Bright Nights at Forest Park this holiday season, sponsored by the Spirit of Springfield and the Springfield Parks Division. The display will be the first opportunity for visitors to get out of their vehicles and walk among the lights leading the way to Santa’s Cottage. United Bank is the sponsor of the new area. Inside Santa’s Cottage, a cozy atmosphere will be created for Santa to greet visitors, pose for photographs, and listen to holiday wish lists. Bright Nights at Forest Park will open for its 12th season on Nov. 22 and operate Wednesday through Sunday until Dec. 10. Beginning Dec. 13, the lights will be lit nightly. For more information on Bright Nights, visit www.brightnights.org or call (413) 733-3800.

Region Expected to Trail Growth Nationally

BOSTON — The New England Economic Partnership expects New England to lag behind the nation in economic growth through 2010. The forecast group also noted that its twice-yearly predictions are speculative given the uncertainty about the current housing slump. The group also noted that employment in New England is expected to grow at an average rate of 0.8% a year through 2010, below the 1.3% forecasted each year across the nation.

Departments

Spirit of Giving

The 15th annual meeting of the Community Foundation of Western Mass. provided an opportunity for 15 randomly selected attendees to recommend $1,000 grants to Pioneer Valley charities of their choice.

They included (above, left to right) Mary Hoyer of Amherst, Denise Granger of Springfield, Carla Oleska of Northampton, Constance Clarke of Shelburne Center, Nina Berman of Wilbraham, and Michael Korzeniowski of Holyoke. Pictured at left are Stephen A. Davis, new board chair of the Community Foundation, and Dr. Carol A. Leary, outgoing board chair.

Above, are Sandy and Wendy Pearson, who were recognized at the event for a charitable contribution made to the foundation.


Training for Tomorrow

More than 150 visitors attended the recent Health Careers Open House at Springfield Technical Community College. Guests enjoyed tours and demonstrations in 16 academic programs. At left, Corinne Lemoine works on Megan Carter’s hair; both are Cosmetology students.

At lower left, Nursing student Michelle Shilasi performs tests on one of the college’s 14 patient simulators. Below, Mary Beth Sienkiewicz, a Clinical Laboratory Science student, demonstrates a blood draw.

Sections Supplements
Inspired by the Birth of a Nation — and a Notion
Lauren Way

Lauren Way

Lauren Way remembers her early days as a young entrepreneur as a wild, intense learning experience.

She was in her early 20s and had just founded an international commodities trade company in the former Soviet Union, after majoring in Russian Civilization at Smith College. She said she expected the experience to be eye-opening and life-changing to a degree, but never expected to find herself embroiled in one of the most notable shifts of power and culture in history, as the Soviet Union dissolved and was replaced, by no means smoothly, by a Democratic, free-trade society.

Theese were times of flux and of famine, she said, recalling days watching tanks roll by while waiting in long lines, clutching ration tickets, for the only available food. Sometimes it was eggs, sometimes it was bread, but it was always scarce.

Today, Way is a professor and director of the entrepreneurial program and cooperative education initiatives at Bay Path College, and, though the road from Russia to Western Mass. was long and winding, she says those early experiences in a volatile setting played a large role in her decision to continue studying entrepreneurship and innovation, and, in turn, bring that knowledge with her to the world of academia.

Budding Abroad

This wasn’t a career path she’d planned, but one she has since embraced as an apt result of a diverse educational and professional background.

Way’s first entrepreneurial venture, as she sees it, was actually academic in nature; as a high school student in Chester, Vt., she researched private schools, applied for scholarships, and, after finishing most of the necessary leg work for admission and financing on her own, presented her parents with a proposal to attend Kimball Union Academy in New Hampshire.

“It was my first entrepreneurial approach to anything,” she said. “I was progressive about my own education, and that led to new opportunities, in addition to surprising my parents.”

Way did the same when researching colleges, and while at Smith, continued to follow her own unique path, selecting a major that few business owners have on their resume.

“I chose Russian Civilization because I love the language,” she explained, “and they say to major in what you love.”

The course of study led her to take her junior year (1990 to 1991) abroad through the American Collegiate Consortium International Exchange, during some of Eastern Europe’s most turbulent times. While honing her Russian language skills, Way also received a crash course in the ways of survival in a country undergoing a revolution. She quickly learned that nothing was free, and everything was hard to find, from luxury items to the most basic of necessities.

“That was definitely the most malnourished year of my life,” she said, adding, however, that her affinity for Russian culture only grew during her time in that country, and though she completed her study abroad and returned to the states to finish college, she soon went back to Russia to start a business with four Russian partners in 1992, importing everything from cooking pots to Portuguese wine.

It was an experience, she said, that offered a magnified view of the challenges associated with entrepreneurship and international business.

“We were really just testing the idea, pushing the buttons to see if we could make this work,” she said. “It was profitable, but the entire country was in flux. The value of rubles would change, drastically, literally overnight, and new laws were drafted from day to day and we had to interpret and reinterpret them.”

That shipment of Portuguese wine, for instance, weighed in at 20 metric tons and had the makings of being one of Way’s most promising imports, until while still in transit the import tax skyrocketed by 15%. Still, the venture proved to be an overall success, and a defining experience in Way’s life.

“At the time, I didn’t know if I had it in me, and conversely there were moments when I thought of myself as a failure because the business didn’t make me an amazing millionaire,” she said. “But I learned so much about entrepreneurship and about what I was capable of, and that’s an important idea to learn, and instill in others.”

From East to West

Way remained involved with the trade company for two years before selling her portion of the business to her partners and moving on to work with the international law firm White and Case as a paralegal in Moscow, continuing to interpret those complex laws in the new Russia. That four-year chapter in her career, as she calls it, also led to fluency in the Russian language and a solid understanding of the business climate in that country, as well the international scene.
However, like most entrepreneurs, Way was soon on the lookout for a new venture.

“I returned to the U.S. in hopes of finding something where the bottom line wasn’t money, but people,” she said, noting that she embarked on a series of meetings with other entrepreneurs in a sort of independent fact-finding mission, gleaning information on new opportunities, business practices that worked, and the individual strengths and histories of other successful business innovators. For a time, Way made ends meet with a succession of odd jobs, among them tending bar and serving as an interpreter at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.

Repeatedly, though, Way said she was attracted to academia, and the notion of developing her own entrepreneurial spirit and that of others on a formal level. She returned to Western Mass. — in part to take advantage of the vibrant college presence and also to enjoy the pace of life she experienced as an undergrad — and completed work toward a master’s in education at UMass Amherst. Soon after, in 1998, she took a post at Hampshire College as associate director of the Lemelson Assistive Technology Development Center.

“I wanted to be doing something that made me feel like I was making a meaningful difference,” she said, “and higher education is a field that I knew would allow for a wide-ranging approach to my career — one that would allow me to be a generalist, share my strengths, and also learn about several different things.”

Pioneers and Pathways

Way, who is now working toward a doctorate in Education focused on policy and leadership studies at UMass, remained at Hampshire College for eight years, managing an invention, innovation, and entrepreneurship program, developing curriculum, co-teaching a soft goods design course, and advising students on intellectual property and entrepreneurial business ventures. She joined Bay Path earlier this year, and describes her new position as a hybrid, one that couples theory-based teaching with practical program planning and the development of a broad, entrepreneurial focus at the college across all disciplines and departments.

“I think the college was looking for a specific type of person, one with a background in entrepreneurship as well as higher education,” she said. “The primary goal is to instill the entrepreneurial and innovative way of thinking, and programs leading to that on campus have grown so quickly that, in effect, we are academic entrepreneurs.”

Way added that while entrepreneurship is more often seen as an innate skill that, further, is only applied in the business world, she sees higher education as a perfect climate for fostering those entrepreneurial skills. She also sees the development of such programs at the collegiate level as necessary in a world that is increasingly homogenized, and in need of new, innovative solutions to issues both large and small.

“Teaching entrepreneurship is very multi-faceted,” she said. “If you just look at it from a business standpoint, you’re missing out. Practical knowledge can be augmented with theory, and I think it’s also false that creativity cannot be taught. I think it can be taught, or at least unleashed, in all types of students.”

Thus, it’s not just the creation of new businesses or products that Way hopes to see result from Bay Path’s entrepreneurial programming. Rather, it’s a more all-encompassing, entrepreneurial mindset, which can be applied to myriad situations — be they new business ventures, existing positions, or career paths.

“I’d like to see students take a more entrepreneurial approach to their careers and their lives in general, to latch on to that entrepreneurial way of thinking and to look at it as a process,” she said. “It’s increasingly necessary in order for people to propel themselves forward, and there is real value associated with the process.”

To that end, Way is in the midst of several initiatives at Bay Path designed to strengthen the entrepreneurial spirit on campus and, in turn, create a destination for women around the world in search of a cohesive, business-based education that will couple academic theory with tangible opportunities.

“My vision is that women will be able to come here with a business idea and graduate with that business up and running,” she said. “Making connections, marketing, accounting, public relations … these are all things that students can learn while in school, and in turn apply in real-life situations. Through this model, they can often do both at the same time. ”

Entrepreneurial programming is still a work in progress at Bay Path, but Way is a large part of its move forward. Already, students are working with local companies to solve actual business challenges, such as those associated with an expansion or change in product line, and are taking part in ‘live case studies’ involving those companies and the success of the new initiatives employed. Way will play a key role in writing grant proposals and helping the college secure additional funding for such initiatives as well, such as a three-year, $143,000 grant the Coleman Foundation awarded the college in 2005.

Students are also now taking part in a cooperative education program similar to an internship.

“It’s different from an internship in that it connects theory with practice in a way that internships often don’t,” said Way, and that’s where the bulk of her efforts lie in her new position — making connections between what is possible and how to apply that in a real-life setting.

The Next Line of Defense

That’s also a goal she plans to benefit from herself. Despite her varied history, Way said she has found a haven in higher education in which she intends to stay. Her goals for the future include advancing into higher-level administrative positions in education, perhaps even a college presidency in later years.

“I definitely see myself going deeper into the academic world,” she said. “I take a holistic approach to my job, and it’s exhilarating to see students doing the same, using a wide-ranging approach to entrepreneurship and to business, making meaningful contributions, and testing their own limits.”

And while it’s not likely that students at Bay Path will have to stand in long lines for bread or milk to test those limits, Way doesn’t see her experiences as very different from those that entrepreneurs, in all senses of the word, will face when meeting adversity head on.

“I learned so much about entrepreneurship while living in a country where it was often necessary to survive,” she said, “and that’s a good parallel for what I’m encouraging students to do here.

“They might not know if they have it in them, and to realize that they do, what is most important is the experience of doing.”

Jaclyn Stevenson can be reached at[email protected]

Sections Supplements
Steps to Take Even If You Think There Is No ‘Probate’ Estate

The passing of a parent, spouse, partner, or good friend is never easy to address or contemplate. In addition to the physical and emotional loss, the mere thought of navigating through the legal system is frequently overwhelming.

Generally speaking, if your loved one passes away and clearly has significant assets in his or her own name, i.e. stocks, bonds, or other securities; partnership business assets; bank accounts; real estate; or other assets, it is helpful to engage the counsel and assistance of an experienced estate administration attorney to provide guidance and help through the complex probate process.

Even if there is not a formal probate, certain steps should be taken. Some of them include:

  • Checking for abandoned property;
  • Filing the will with the appropriate court;
  • Changing title to jointly owned assets;
  • Contemplating whether estate tax returns are due.

One of the first things you should address is whether your loved one left a valid last will and testament. When this happens, he or she is said to have died “testate,” and where no will is found or properly executed (signed), then the decedent is said to have died “intestate.”

If you think that a will was properly signed by your loved one, but you can’t locate the original document, present whatever paperwork you have to your attorney and discuss the issues and options. Your loved one’s original will and other essential estate-planning documents may have been left with the offices of the attorney where the will was executed for safe-keeping, or the paperwork may be located in your loved one’s safe deposit box, which might not be easily accessed. Where appropriate, however, a photocopy can be probated.

 Whether or not a probate action is required will be determined, in part, by whether the person who passed (known as a “decedent”) held any assets that require a change in title from his or her own name alone. Generally speaking, all property is held in one of three ways:

Decedent’s name individually. This is when property is held in an individual’s name alone, so that some formal legal, (probate) action must occur to change the title. An example would be bank accounts in one person’s name or real estate held as a tenant in common. A tenancy in common indicates that each owner holds a separate share of the property, and that the interest can be sold by each separate owner, and/or it descends through probate for each separate owner.

A joint tenant designation or tenancy by the entirety. This usually means that survivorship is the only requirement to establishing one’s title. When a couple holds real estate or securities as joint tenants, the recording or submission of a certified death certificate is usually sufficient to establish the sole ownership of the surviving joint owner.

Designated Beneficiary. Ownership is clearly defined where there is a designated beneficiary under a contract. This would include named beneficiaries (other than one’s estate), trusts, a life insurance policy, annuity, or pension benefits.

Of the three title holding methods above, a probate action will only be required to be filed with the court where your loved one died owning assets in his or her name as described in example number one.

 If your loved one died with probate assets, the will and other paperwork must be filed and approved by the court and a fiduciary (responsible party) appointed to assist with moving the matter through the probate process. The fiduciary collects assets, pays bills, and ultimately distributes the net assets according to the decedent’s wishes under the will and/or as allowed under state law. A male fiduciary of an estate is referred to as an executor or administrator, depending on whether the decedent died testate or intestate, while a female fiduciary is an executrix or administratrix.

 Even if there are no probate assets, an original will and certified death certificate should be filed with the county probate court where the decedent lived. Here are some examples where filing with the Court is still prudent even though not required:

  • Where you believe that all of your loved one’s assets were jointly held;
  • Where there were designated beneficiaries for all assets (such as life insurance or annuities which name beneficiaries);
  • Where one died an impoverished resident of a nursing home, such that Medicaid is paying for the stay.

It is important to note that the general public is not required to file a decedent’s will with the court; nor are there statutory sanctions or penalties for not filing the paperwork.

 This filing is, however, recommended because you cannot know with certainty whether your loved one was named in a will of another, or whether there is that $8 million lottery ticket, as yet uncashed, sitting in your loved one’s old winter coat pocket. Further, probate records are regularly searched in conjunction with performing a title search for real estate, and it can be a significant time saver when the will and certified death certificate are on file with the proper court.

 Real estate conveyancers frequently have to address and resolve situations where a title search for a parcel of land reflects a ‘missing probate.’ In other words, a prior owner did not completely grant all of his interest in real estate when it was conveyed. Therefore, a portion of the interest remained in the property owner’s name at the time of his or her death. The original conveyance that triggered the problem, however, could have occurred decades before your loved one’s passing, but the oversight might have gone unnoticed. Without the will and death certificate on file, the search for the current record owner becomes harder and more expensive. If you file the will and death certificate with the court in a timely fashion, obstacles to clearing the record title will be reduced.

 In Massachusetts, if you file your loved one’s will and death certificate with the court together with a statement that there are no assets requiring probate, then there is no fee. On the other hand, if an original will is provided to the court without a certified copy of the decedent’s death certificate, then it is considered to be held for safe-keeping, and a $75 filing fee must be paid before the court will accept it. Generally the paperwork should be filed where your loved one last permanently lived.

 For non-probate assets, such as jointly held bank accounts or brokerage accounts, proper notification of your loved one’s passing, together with the correct tax-reporting form for the survivor(s), must be provided to the institution. In addition, under certain circumstances you might have to file federal and Massachusetts estate tax returns, even though there is no probate estate.

This is because the estate tax returns measure the transfer of all assets or interests that a decedent owned at the time of death, which includes assets held individually, jointly, in trust, life insurance proceeds, or in any other capacity, as well as certain gifts which may have been made during the decedent’s lifetime.

Even if an estate tax return is not required to be filed, you might still have to record an affidavit of no estate tax when your loved one died owning an interest in real estate, but where the total value of the decedent’s estate falls below the required filing threshold for a formal estate tax return.

The question of whether a probate action has to be filed for a deceased loved one is only the tip of the iceberg. Generally, even if you think that no other formal action is necessary, it is recommended that you contact an estate administration attorney to discuss the issues that may have to be addressed. In the process, the lawyer will also confirm that your loved one did not leave any abandoned property by design or neglect sitting in the state’s coffers. All loose ends will be tied up.

Lisa L. Halbert is an associate with the Springfield-based law firm of Bacon & Wilson. She is a member of the estate planning, elder, and real estate departments and is especially focused on matters relating to asset protection. She works out of the firm’s Northampton office; (413) 584-1287,[email protected].

Departments

The following Business Certificates and Trade Names were issued or renewed during the month of October 2006.

AGAWAM

Anchor Electric LLC
687 Silver St.
Arcadio Rodrigues Jr.

Car’s Medic
134 Beekman Dr.
Steve P. Rahilly

Century 21 Hometown Associates
5 North Westfield St.
John E. Shuler Sr.

Giovanni’s Pastry Shop
719 Main St.
Bruno Russo

Henderson Real Estate
33 Tom St.
Wayne Henderson

Olson Apartments
168 Maynard St.
Mark D. Olson

Open Bay Distribution
643 Suffield St. 32
Keith Crossman

Paradise Grooming
582 Springfield St.
Elaine. L. Greco

Rac Carpentry
44 Rugby Road
Richard A. Cournoyer

RLS Real Estate Holdings
548 Mill St.
Antonette Coughlin

St. Pierre Enterprises
244 Southwest St.
Guy St. Pierre

T’s Jewelers
559 Springfield St.
Zinorey G. Tokman

The T.V. Doctor
16 Southwick St.
David Gomez

Vicki’s Hairstyling
351 Main St.
Vicki Fontana

AMHERST

Amherst Art Walk Associates
79 South Pleasant St.
Susan Loring-Wells

Bacon & Wilson P.C./
Monsein & MacDonnell
6 South East St.
Bacon & Wilson P.C.

KBC Carpentry
109 Potwine Lane
Kalil Baez- Cournier

CHICOPEE

ALFA Construction
16 Charles St.
Sergy Karnaukh

Auto Techniques Inc.
1424 Granby Road
Norman Avey

Applebee’s Neighborhood Bar & Grill
597 Memorial Dr.
Applebee’s Northeast Inc.

Black Canton Leather
724 Chicopee St.
Ian W. Craik

Charming Alterations
& Dry Cleaning
480 Memorial Dr.
Chun Cha Yi

Continental Beauty Salon
290 East St.
Hanna Dziertgowski

Creative Design Custom Homes
66 Greenwood Terrace
Bruce M. Burns

Lacroix’s Market & Lunchenette
582 Chicoppe St.
Paul M. Green

Neighborhood Home Improvement
163 South St.
Manolin Fernandez

Sams Food Store
1031 Chicopee St.
Shakeel Ahmed

EASTHAMPTON

Exxon Mobil Lubricants &
Petroleum Specialty Co.
62 Oneil St.
Deborah R. Taule

Pick Your Flick
74 Cottage St.
Elizabeth & Timothy Jenks

Sakura Originals
6 Pine Brook Dr.
Charlene Donnelly

Samara’s Spotless Housecleaning
34 Briggs St. Apt. 2
Samara E. Loewenstein

EAST LONGMEADOW

Floating Lotus Jewelry
P.O. Box 35
Janet Q. Weinberg

JMG Salon
137 Maple St.
Ann Elizabeth Martin & Cynthia Ann Airoldi

New England Time Solutions
41 Lee St.
Karl C. Bailey Jr.

Remembrances by Claudia
94 Shaker Road
Claudia Helen Walsh

GREENFIELD

Atypical Tanning
31 Forest Ave.
Kelly F. Brown

Blue Ganu
2 Graves Road
Terry Gray

Mohawk Used Furniture &
Antiques
261 Mohawk Trail
Sallie Jean Shibley

One True Water
Therapeutic Touch
278 Main Street Suite 201
Scott M. Belanger

O’Neil Tree Service
178 Leyden Road
Brendan Reid O’Neil

HADLEY

Polish Kitchen
8 Railroad St.
Kristina Beaudry

Pug Enterprises
320 Russell Road
Ted A. Diamond

Tigon Martial Arts
317 Russell St.
Thomas E. Brown

HOLYOKE

Brad Matthew Jewelers
2225 Northampton St.
Brad M. Dimiero

Edwin’s Painting &
General Construction
21 Jackson St.
Edwin Riviera

J & C Enterprise
100 Nonotuck St.
John Hurley

LONGMEADOW

Laura Hurley Consultant
93 Pleasant Ave.
Laura Jane Hurley

Packaging Consulting
Design Services
81 Oakwood Dr.
Lewis George Lamson Jr.

LUDLOW

Ludlow Rehab and
Contracting Co.
10 Birch St.
Anna P. Goncalves

NORTHAMPTON

C&J Motor Cars Inc.
110 Pleasant St.
Christopher P. Cahillane

Raw Artifacts
351 Pleasant St.
Robert Andrew Whitcomb

O’Riley’s Service
124 Chesterfield Road
Riley Liptail

 

Strong & Healthy Smiles
40 Main St. Suite 25
Dr. Suzanne R. Keller

Tagsalelive.com
320 Riverside Dr.
Clayton & Robert Cummings

Valley Stress Reduction
Cooley Dickinson Hospital
Ellen Kaufman M.D.

PALMER

Gil’s Gym & Racquet Health Club
Kmart Plaza Route 20
Glen Gary Gilmore

N.M. Construction
3152 Main St.
Nathaniel Messier

Something Old Something New
1540 Park St.
Deborah Hartley

The Professional Agency
Protective Services
46 Fuller Road
Margarita Garcia

SOUTH HADLEY

Busy Bee Printing Press
29 Woodbridge St.
Cheryl Burke & Alicia Pritt

Slate Software
314 East St.
Vincent P. Calvanese Jr.

Therapies
103 Main St.
Charles Eliopoulos & Ralph
Pearsall

SOUTHWICK

Haskell & Clark Builders
85 South Loomis St.
Patricia Haskell

J & R Consulting
8 Pearl Brook Road
Janet L. Brodalski

Pioneer Valley Tae Kwon Do
568 College Highway
Christopher G. Miltimore

Rykus Design
49 Lakeview St.
Thomas Joseph Pietrosanti

Sue Place
449 College Highway
Sooyoung Hong

Walter Kryzuski Construction Co.
24 Crescent Circle
Walter Zryzuski

SPRINGFIELD

Advanced Tree Service
20 Harbour Road
Gary M. Gaudette

Agass Systems
35 Harvard
Donald A. Mitchell

Atlantic Night Club
1389 Liberty St.

Baystate Surgical Associates
2 Medical Center Dr.
Loring S. Flint M.D.

Biggs Painters
6 Gerris Court 104
Ricarte Burgos

Braiders Edge
654 Page Blvd.
Daniel A. Carthon

Career Resource Associates
357 Cottage Street
Daniel Carthon

Clean As A Whistle
111 Phoenix Ave.
Samuel & Lillian Cortes

Club Casablanca
1389-93 Liberty St.
Alberto Morales

Conquest
2071 Roosevelt Ave.
AT&T Corporation

Create-A-Change
90 Berkshire Ave.
Henry Louis Balyarim

Daryl’s Place
892 State St.
Kim Alston

Deb’s Auto Repair
182 Walnut St.
Deborah Barnes

Doris @ NoLimit Hair Salon
185 Ambrose St.
Doris Hair

EC Construction
106 Bacon Road
Edgar C. Cintron

Fabulous Cuts
363 Boston Road
Joe C. Long Jr.

Fernandez Car Accessories
501 Main St.
Hector Fernandez

Fine Cleaning Service
39 Shaine Circle
Mamie Lou Jackson

Gamestop 233
1655 Boston Road 77
Michael Nichols

H&E Affordable Kitchen & Bath
864 State St.
Horace John

Ivette’s Images
6 Johnson St.
Petra I. Cappas

Nails Model
459 Main St.
Tryen Ktu

Nayab Enterprise
1112 Bay St.
Muhammed Imtiaz

Refrinsentro
127 Avery St.
Tomas Carrasquillo

Tiffany Nails
19 Lawndale St.
Vicky Nguyen

Ventry Liquors
795 Worcester St.
Daniel P. Garvey

WESTFIELD

Amperex US
22 Janis Road
Roland Barbeito

Checkerberry Knoll
14 Western Ave.
Dawn Whitehill

Creative Kids Inc.
1251 East Mountain Road
Sherri Morini

Goldstone Craft
28 Union St.
Yuriy Chemeris

Menard Construction & Design
46 Stuart Place
Dennis & Craig Menard

WEST SPRINGFIELD

Big Lare’s Bass Excursions
1291 Morgan Road
Lawrence W. Marsh

Catering for the Elderlu
63 Morningside Ter.
Susan L. Dandy

CCG Photography
703 Union St.
Christine Green

Drisdelle Quality Carpentry
115 Morton St.
John R. Drisdelle

Lion in the Sun
470 Westfield St.
Deborah M. Breen

Madni Food Mart
470 Main St.
Nimo Bedel Hussein

Steven J. Heironymus
67 Vincent Dr.
Steven J. Heironymus

The Residential Realty
Boutique
134 Main St.
Lynda M. Fagan

Departments

Berkshire Bank to Acquire Five Insurance Agencies

PITTSFIELD — Berkshire Bank recently announced its intention to acquire five Western Mass. insurance agencies, four of which are located in Berkshire County and one in Franklin County. The agencies are Reynolds, Barnes & Hebb and McCormick, Smith & Curry Insurance Agency, both of Pittsfield; Minkler Insurance Agency of Stockbridge; H.S. Andrews Insurance Agency of Great Barrington, and MassOne Insurance Agency Inc. of Greenfield. The agencies are members of Alliance Berkshire, a consortium of insurance firms in Western Mass., which cooperate in contracting with insurers so they are able to offer the best insurance products to their customers. The management teams, all other licensed agents, all customer service representatives and all other employees of these agencies will remain with the organization, and will continue to operate from their existing offices after the acquisitions are completed. The purchases are being made by Berkshire Bank’s insurance affiliate, Berkshire Insurance Group Inc., which has offices in Westfield and Longmeadow. In all, the bank’s agencies will have 100 employees in 10 locations throughout Hampden, Berkshire and Franklin counties. In other company news, Berkshire Hills Bancorp Inc., the holding company for Berkshire Bank, announced third quarter 2006 net income of $5.0 million before charges for a loan loss allowance adjustment and investment portfolio repositioning. This represented a 6% increase over net income of $4.7 million in the same quarter of 2005. Also, the bank increased its loan loss allowance from $13.5 million at June 30, 2006 to $19.2 million at Sept. 30, 2006.

ESB Sees 6% Increase In Assets

EASTHAMPTON — Easthampton Savings Bank reached a record $695 million in total assets at the end of the third quarter, according to president and CEO William S. Hogan Jr. The bank’s assets, which were up $39 million from a year ago, is an increase of 6%, according to Hogan. Total assets were up $8 million for the quarter. In addition, loans now total more than $513 million. The total loan portfolio increased $31 million, an increase of 6% over last year. Deposit growth was $16 million, up 3% from this time last year, according to Hogan. Total deposits are now at $527 million. In related news, the bank’s Westfield office project is still scheduled for a summer opening.

Mercy Wellness Center Opens at Healthtrax®

WEST SPRINGFIELD — The Mercy Wellness Center at Healthtrax® has opened with physical therapy services through the Weldon Rehabilitation Hospital and dedicated space for community health education. Located at 155 Ashley Ave., the center joins a similar facility operating at Healthtrax® Fitness and Wellness in East Longmeadow. Physical therapy sessions are available weekdays at the Mercy Wellness Center in West Springfield. The community health education room at the West Springfield site continues to offer “Health Coach” lectures. For more information on services and programs, call (413) 746-2120.

TD Banknorth Earnings Slide 3%

PORTLAND, Me. — TD Banknorth Inc. recently attributed its third-quarter earnings drop of 3% to a drop in securities income and higher interest expenses. The company, a unit of Canada’s TD Bank Financial Group, reported net income fell to $86.1 million from $88.7 million a year ago. Net interest income climbed 21% to $301.1 million from $249 million in 2005, boosted by the acquisition of Hudson United. The company also noted that its interest expense doubled to $203 million. TD Banknorth declared a regular quarterly dividend of 22 cents, payable Nov. 13 to shareholders of record on Nov. 3.

Holyoke Medical Center Receives Major Gift

HOLYOKE — A $1 million surprise gift was recently received by Holyoke Medical Center from the estate of George W. Prentiss, the late wire manufacturer who served on the hospital’s board in 1893. Prentiss’s will provided for his heirs, however, he also included the hospital in his last will and testament in the event there were no remaining heirs to inherit the largesse. Prentiss was active in the city for many years and supported several organizations including the Holyoke Public Library, the Holyoke Boys’ Club and YMCA. Holyoke Medical Center officials were unaware of the donation until they received word from Bank of America representatives recently. Holyoke Medical Center President Hank J. Porten has said there are no restrictions on how the money can be used.

Departments

The following building permits were issued during the month of October 2006.

CHICOPEE

Applebee’s; Applebee’s Northeast Inc.
597 Memorial Dr.
$1,278,405 — Build a new restaurant

EASTHAMPTON

Michael Shaefer
69 Ferry St.
$400,000 — Build a one-story office building

GREENFIELD

104 Federal St.
$7,800 — Remove existing roof and install new roof system

HADLEY

Joe’s Greek Place
367 Russell St.
$13,000 — Remodel of tenant space at Hampshire Mall

HOLYOKE

Federated Department Stores Inc.
400 Whitney Ave.
$100,000 — Tenant fit out

Homestead Grocery Mart Inc.
615 Homestead Ave.
N/A — Build/remove walls; interior renovation

Houston Enterprises Inc.
2241 Northampton St.
$90,000 — Interior renovations

Loomis House Inc.
298 Jarvis Ave.
$45,000 — Renovations to Sheldon dining room and nursing center

PBHQ Whitney Inc.
330 Whitney Ave.
$20,000 — Fire damper repairs.

Olsen Construction Services, LLC
1025 Main St.
$219,000 — New storefront glass and aluminum; add fire protection system

NORTHAMPTON

City of Northampton
56 Vernon St.
$21,400 — Re-roof

 

CVS Pharmacy
366 King St.
$11,000 — Replace building cornice

Northhampton Realty
244 King St.
$89,000 — Construct office addition

Smith College
36 Bedford Terrace
$660,000 — Install sprinkler system, interior and exterior repair

Smith College
14/18 Green St.
$52,000 — Interior renovation for pizza restaurant

Smith College
21 Prospect St.
$900,000 — Construct six housing units and revised parking

PALMER

Pinocchio’s Pizzaria & Bar
2054 Bridge St.
$33,220 — Renovation for new pizza restaurant

SPRINGFIELD

American International College
125 Cortland St.
$127,054 — Extend existing weight room and add HVAC to weight/exercise facility.

Diocese of Springfield
395 Chestnut St.
$845,000 — Rebuild roof

Mercy Hospital
27 Carew St.
$195,760 — Renovate to PT/CT scan room.

Mercy Medical Center
233-271 Carew St.
$435,000 — Renovation to existing space.

Springfield Housing Authority
1118-1122 St. James Ave.
$345,300 — General construction and site work

Springfield Ventures
76 Bay St.
$245,000 — Remodel apartment building

Departments

The following bankruptcy petitions were recently filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court. Readers should confirm all information with the court.

American Home Inspection
First Call Home Inspection
Skrodzki Thomas M.
Bernaquer Melissa A.
Skrodzki Melissa
P.O. Box 2302
Westfield, MA 01085
Chapter: 7
Date: 10/02/2006

Anderson, Theresa
174 Spear Road
Springfield, MA 01119
Chapter: 13
Date: 10/02/2006

Balukonis, Maribeth K.
P.O. Box 1117
Westfield, MA 01086
Chapter: 7
Date: 10/05/2006

Bittle, Carl W.
Bittle, Colleen A.
72 Beech St.
Greenfield, MA 01301
Chapter: 13
Date: 10/10/2006

Blessin, Beverly Marie
32 Old Stockbridge Road
Lenox, MA 01240
Chapter: 7
Date: 10/06/2006

Bourgeois, Susan Lee
145 Ventura St.
Ludlow, MA 01056
Chapter: 7
Date: 10/11/2006

Caloon, Pamela A.
37 Drexel St.
Springfield, MA 01104
Chapter: 13
Date: 10/05/2006

Colby, James
122 Methuen St.
Springfield, MA 01119
Chapter: 7
Date: 10/04/2006

Collamore, Robert L.
Collamore, Donna M.
20 Weymouth St.
Springfield, MA 01108
Chapter: 7
Date: 10/13/2006

Fesko, David Christopher
24 Maple Crest Circle, Apt. L
Holyoke, MA 01040
Chapter: 7
Date: 10/11/2006

Floyd, Sheila M.
PO Box 1923
Westfield, MA 01086
Chapter: 7
Date: 10/06/2006

Gamarsh, Harold F.
Gamarsh, Eleanor F.
21 Norman St.
P O Box 15
Gardner, MA 01440
Chapter: 7
Date: 10/06/2006

Gerhardt, Lynn Marie
469 Crane Ave.
Pittsfield, MA 01201
Chapter: 7
Date: 10/05/2006

Green, Paris Yulonda
62 Corey Road
Springfield, MA 01128
Chapter: 13
Date: 10/04/2006

Griffin, Lula
47 Willard Ave.
Springfield, MA 01109
Chapter: 7
Date: 10/05/2006

Hall, Gregory
22 Cortland St.
Springfield, MA 01109
Chapter: 7
Date: 10/12/2006

Hamling, Jay Albert
3 Winesap Road
Pittsfield, MA 01201
Chapter: 7
Date: 10/04/2006

Haring, Geraldine M.
P.O. Box 234
Feeding Hills, MA 01030
Chapter: 7
Date: 10/05/2006

Hynd, Donald W.
1151A Elm St.
West Springfield, MA 01089
Chapter: 7
Date: 10/06/2006

Keeler, Allan E.
Keeler, Theresa J.
22 Manor House Court
Holyoke, MA 01040
Chapter: 7
Date: 10/11/2006

 

Kurek, Stanley G.
Kurek, Kathleen M.
82 Wahconah St.
Pittsfield, MA 01201
Chapter: 7
Date: 10/09/2006

Liberty, Kathleen A.
55 Highland St.
Ware, MA 01082
Chapter: 13
Date: 10/10/2006

Malumphy, Bernard J.
58 Taylor St.
Pittsfield, MA 01201
Chapter: 13
Date: 10/06/2006

Martin, Lorie Ann
17 New St.
North Adams, MA 01247
Chapter: 7
Date: 10/12/2006

Moyer, Rebecca Lynn
57 Beacon St., 3
North Adams, MA 01247
Chapter: 7
Date: 10/12/2006

Myers, Michael R.
Myers, Naida Regina
334 Hillside Ave.
Holyoke, MA 01040
Chapter: 7
Date: 10/05/2006

O’Connor, Roger A.
290 Narragansett Blvd.
Chicopee, MA 01013
Chapter: 13
Date: 10/10/2006

Paliki, Christopher James
Paliki, Tammy Marie
1089 Main St.
PO Box 88
Warren, MA 01083
Chapter: 13
Date: 10/06/2006

Pearson, Cheryl Anne
2 Granite St.
North Adams, MA 01247
Chapter: 7
Date: 10/04/2006

Pellerin, David R.
33 Westview Dr.
Belchertown, MA 01007
Chapter: 13
Date: 10/06/2006

Santos, David G.
Santos, Erin
11 Franklin Road
Longmeadow, MA 01106
Chapter: 13
Date: 10/03/2006

Parent, Ann Marie M.
92 Redden Road
Springfield, MA 01119
Chapter: 7
Date: 10/05/2006

Rushia, Dorothy C.
501 Clark St.
Gardner, MA 01440
Chapter: 13
Date: 10/11/2006

Singleton, Therese E.
97 Belvidere St.
Springfield, MA 01108
Chapter: 13
Date: 10/10/2006

Starzyk Daniel W.
64 Bessemer St.
Springfield, MA 01104
Chapter: 13
Date: 10/06/2006

Valdes Hector L.
38 Grattan St.
Springfield, MA 01119
Chapter: 13
Date: 10/05/2006

Vega, Jose Juan
19 Middle St.
Springfield, MA 01104
Chapter: 13
Date: 10/13/2006

Wolfe, Betty Jane
99 North East St.
Holyoke, MA 01040
Chapter: 13
Date: 10/13/2006

Yates, James
Yates, Barbara
71 Berkshire St.
Holyoke, MA 01040
Chapter: 13
Date: 10/10/2006

Sections Supplements
Changes to the Safe Driver Insurance Plan Aren’t a Ticket to Savings

You may not have noticed it when you received your new auto insurance policy this year, but significant changes have occurred to the Safe Driver Insurance Plan.

Effective Jan. 1, 2006, Massachusetts switched from a step system to a points system. Under the new plan, accidents and convictions of traffic violations will be used by insurance companies to calculate a surcharge or discount factor to be applied to the policy premium when a new policy is initially written and at each policy renewal. In this new world of insurance points, it is important to consult with insurance and legal professionals when considering whether to contest that next ticket.

Under the new plan, there is a range of surcharges applicable to a points rating of 0 to 45 points. A major moving violation such as an operating under the influence charge will garner you five points. A major accident claim, which is defined as a claim with a payment of more than $2,000 exclusive of any deductible under collision, property damage, or bodily injury, will net you four points. A minor accident, which is defined as claims with a payment of more than $500 and up to $2,000 exclusive of any deductible, is assessed at three points. A minor moving violation such as speeding, failure to yield, or a stop sign violation carries with it a two-point penalty.

If the first incident on a driver’s record is a minor moving violation, no points will be assessed for that violation. Points are calculated based on one’s driving record and are then used to determine surcharges. Experienced drivers, defined as those with six or more years of driving experience, are charged 15% per point for accidents or moving violations. Inexperienced drivers will be charged 7.5% per point for accidents and moving violations. The percentage difference reflects the fact that inexperienced drivers are already paying a higher premium to start.

In addition to the punishment aspect of awarding points, experienced operators are eligible for discounts based on the absence of surchargeable events. The “Excellent Driver Discount Plus” provides for a 17% discount off of bodily injury liability, personal injury protection, damage to property of others, and collision premiums if the driver has no accidents or violations for the past six years. If a driver has no accidents or violations in the five years preceding the effective date of the policy, that driver will earn an ‘excellent driver discount,’ which provides a 7% reduction from published rates for the above-listed coverages. Additionally, the ‘excellent driver discount’ is available to a driver with one surchargeable incident in the past five years provided it was a non-criminal traffic violation and is more than three years old. The ‘excellent driver discount’ is also available to inexperienced drivers who otherwise meet the criteria.

The bad news with regard to the new Safe Driver Plan is that it replaces a step system that most people were somewhat familiar with and understood. The good news is that local insurance agents report that a large number of their clients have, in fact, experienced a reduction in the amount of premium owed. This precarious balance, however, can be easily upset. A speeding violation carries a penalty of two points; a minor accident gives you three points. Coupling a minor accident with a speeding violation will give rise to a total of a five-point assessment. An experienced operator with five points pays premiums at a surcharge factor of 1.75 times the base rate for insurance, or 75% more. Depending on the level and extent of coverages, this increase could represent hundreds of dollars per year for up to six years.

Traffic tickets are no longer simply a matter of paying a fine to the court. As a result, prior to accepting responsibility for any moving violations or accidents, it is wise to consult with an attorney experienced in motor vehicle law to determine any defenses available to you and with your local agent to determine how the points are going to affect you in the future. A swing of almost 100% increase in premiums can result from the loss of the ‘excellent driver plus’ discount (17%), plus a five-point surcharge (75% increase) based on one minor accident coupled with one moving violation.

Another important change in the premium paradigm is the concept of ‘aging’ versus the old ‘clean slate rule.’ Under the step system, you would be placed at a lower step after three years of incident-free driving, the so-called clean slate. Under the new points system, if you have no more than three surchargeable incidents over the last five years, the point value of each of these incidents is reduced by 1 point after three years of incident-free driving. Points are totally eliminated only after six years of incident-free driving (no moving violations and no surchargeable accident claims).

However, being found responsible in just one incident within that three-year period, the ‘old’ incidents will be returned to their original value. Therefore, if for example you had three surchargeable incidents in 2003, by 2007 you could enjoy a three- point reduction in points, however, one speeding ticket would add two points for the new incident and three ‘old’ points being restored to your points tally. This five-point turnaround based on one speeding ticket will be hard for any motorist to swallow. In addition, claims for bodily injury are now surchargeable even if there is no property damage or collision claims filed. This change increases the motorist’s exposure to surcharges.

The confusing maze of consequences that results from motor vehicle citations means that now, more than ever, a prudent driver must rely on the advice of insurance and legal professionals when deciding what route to take when that ticket gets handed through the window.

Robert S. Murphy, Jr., is a shareholder at Bacon & Wilson, P.C. He is the former Chief Prosecutor for Hampden County District Courts with experience in serious criminal and civil motor vehicle infractions; (413) 781-0560.

Sections Supplements
What Sets Cars Apart Today Is Not the Total Package, but the Surprises Inside
The VW Jetta GTI with its accompanying First Act guitar.

The VW Jetta GTI with its accompanying First Act guitar.

From cars with guitars to luxury models that park themselves, the auto industry is introducing new amenities and gadgets that could only have been imagined a generation ago. Some experts say if it’s trendy in the home, soon it will be seen in vehicles of all sizes and price points. And this has many speculating about what’s around the bend.

Mark Thompson, a sales consultant for Balise Lexus in West Springfield, recently spoke with BusinessWest from his car, on the way to a seminar in Boston.

Thompson didn’t need his cell phone to make the call, though. He used only his voice to dial the number, spoke freely while driving, and never took his hands off the wheel. Essentially, technology had allowed him to use his vehicle as a $60,000 phone booth — just one of the conveniences afforded him and the rest of the driving public through new advances in creating ‘networked’ cars.

The new amenities are varied, but the trend is clear: cars are rolling off the assembly line already equipped with a wide range of high-tech bells and whistles aimed at convenience, personalization, and the creation of a certain wow factor.

Auto manufacturers have historically engaged in one-upsmanship to keep their cars viable in a demanding market, but until this decade many of those improvements were geared toward safety concerns — things like anti-lock breaks, airbags, and automatic seatbelts — all of which are now commonplace.

Thompson said that competition raised the bar for all manufacturers, and today, all new cars meet high safety standards.

“Cars have never been safer than they are now,” he said. “And there’s only so much you can do realistically. There is a dollar value connected to new developments, and there comes a point where it’s not worth it to try to invent some new mechanism.”

Those strides in vehicle safety are notable, but the plateau manufacturers across the globe reached also left them with a new challenge.

“The industry needed a new wow factor,” said Thompson, “and everybody likes toys.”

And for many new offerings, ‘toys’ is a good description.

Not all technologically advanced features are necessary for better driving, or even for a more comfortable ride; Volkswagen’s newest promotion, for instance, is a selection of 2007 models outfitted with a jack, into which a First Act GarageMaster electric guitar can be plugged and played through the car’s audio system. The Jetta, Jetta GLI, GTI, Rabbit, New Beetle, and New Beetle Convertible are all compatible with the guitars, which were produced exclusively for the promotion. They’re also the only axes that will play through the car, via a special pre-amp built into the instrument, which also includes the same VIN number as the car it comes with.

Damon Cartelli, general manager of Fathers and Sons, said the ploy is bringing in a good number of curious shoppers, and is indicative of Volkswagen’s unique approach to marketing.

“VW is very progressive, and always has been,” said Cartelli, “and with this promotion they’ve really wrapped their hands around their audience.”

Staging a Coupe

While the guitar promotion, which will run until the end of the year, is more a savvy advertising campaign than an application of new technology to create a better driving experience, Cartelli said it also underscores how affordable and accessible new technology is becoming.

“The guitars are available on cars priced from $14,900 or so and up,” he said. “New technology isn’t just for luxury models anymore. Cars across the board are coming equipped with things like GPS systems, adaptive cruise control — you don’t need to use the brake, sensors tell the car when to slow down — and Bluetooth capability.

“People are coming in to see the VWs with the guitars,” he said, “because that’s truly unique. But as they take a closer look they’re realizing that they can afford to have practical amenities too.”

Nick Twork, public affairs manager for Ford Motor Company’s technology division, said the preponderance of those practical features is not relegated to foreign models — Ford has unveiled a long list of new features that will come standard in several 2007 Ford, Lincoln, and Mercury models and will be added or made available in several existing models including the Ford Explorer, Lincoln Navigator, Ford Mustang, Mercury Milan, and Ford Fusion.

Those product highlights include power-fold mirrors, rear-seat entertainment systems, reverse sensors, cooled seats, navigation systems, and SIRIUS satellite radio, added to 14 different cars this year.

“Navigation systems are probably the biggest addition to our cars,” he said, “and auxiliary jacks for mp3 capability. But new technology is rolling out fast and furious, and there is much more to come in the near future. All I can say is ‘stay tuned.’”

The influx of vehicles at all price points equipped with things like GPS navigation systems and Bluetooth is still a relatively new phenomenon, despite its breadth. Cartelli said that, as recently as four years ago, only a handful of makes included GPS systems, and even then, they were more expensive and less reliable than they are now.

“New technology is so much more cost-effective that features once seen only in luxury models are being added to all types of cars,” he said, listing among them rain- sensitive windshield wipers, back-end camera systems, and built-in, voice-controlled phones and radios. “Soon, every car will be Bluetooth-ready. It’s not an expensive technology, and as manufacturers recognize the need to compete, they’re looking to make anything standard in their cars that’s going to give them the edge.”

Thompson agreed, saying it’s all about creating and preserving brand identity in this new climate.

“The reason why we’re seeing this distinct personalizing of cars is because if you look at cars on the road, you’ll see the same aerodynamics, the same fenders, the same hood … the bumper might be a little different, but everything else in the outer design is geared toward fuel efficiency. It’s harder then ever to tell one make from another — what sets cars apart from others now is the items on the inside.”

Sound Advice

And again, in the interest of personalization, some of those items are little more than fun extras, like electric guitar jacks or built-in hard disk drives that have 13.9 gigabytes of storage and can play up to 2,000 mp3 files without the use of an outside music player. But others are geared toward road warriors and other professionals, in the interest of making vehicles more conducive places in which to work.

Increasingly, cars are equipped with Internet-ready computer systems and screens for browsing or checking e-mail, and Bluetooth capability, which allows for a number of networked functions that are prompted by simple voice commands in many instances.

“Calls can be made from the car without taking your hands off the steering wheel — no phone, no ear buds, no dialing,” said Thompson, who spoke with BusinessWest using just such a system. “I can also check my E-mail and listen to anything from my music library.

“These things were unheard of 10 years ago, but we’re a commuter society,” he said, “and it’s a necessity now, not a right, to drive a car. Manufacturers are trying to make them as homelike as possible.”

In fact, auto manufacturers seem to be taking their cues from the home and garden market, where technologically advanced entertainment, convenience, and Internet-based products already abound.

“What you see in homes now is what we will see in cars in the future,” said Thompson, noting that DVD players, Internet access, and in-car coolers or mini-refrigerators are currently widespread. “I think gaming systems will be next.”

Beyond those home-like features, though, are some new convenience-based advances that are unique to the automotive market. Some are simple and useful, like push-button power folding seats or keyless entry systems that detect when a set of keys, even those buried in a purse or pocket, are approaching the vehicle. Others are more dazzling, like the new self-parking Lexus that is creating a buzz within the luxury car market. Thompson said the car is an answer to a problem for many drivers — the onus of parallel parking — and also further proof of the evolution of automotive technology.

“A lot of people have trouble parallel parking, and in this car, you really do just hit the button and sensors guide you into the spot,” he explained, noting that the feature also lessens the added difficulty in parking due to two safety items already present on the car — larger headrests, which can create new blind spots, and more streamlined aerodynamics, which make it hard to see out of the back of the car. “This system lets the driver guide the car until it gives the green light, literally, at which point they can take their hands off the steering wheel and the car does the rest.”

Business Turnaround

That notion of letting the car do much of the work is a major driver in the race to offer the most current technology. Where the line will be drawn is still unclear, but Thompson said there are a few things on his own personal wish list.

“I’m still waiting for someone to come up with a car-ready microwave and blender,” he said.

Jaclyn Stevenson can be reached at[email protected]