March 25, 2013

 

foamSome products in our society become so commonplace that it can be difficult to remember a time when they weren’t around. The oversized foam finger proudly waved at sporting events across the nation certainly fits that description. But the world had to wait until 1977 for this iconic product’s first iteration. A Texas woodshop teacher named Geral Fauss cut the first big digit out of poster board in anticipation of his high school’s upcoming football game against a heated Continue reading

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March 20, 2013

yarnAs long as there are offices, there will be conflicts between management and staff. Still, no business can hope to succeed without a successful working relationship between these two occasionally combative entities. Managers will always need motivated employees to work hard and achieve the company’s goals, and employees will always need managers to set those goals and pay them for their efforts to meet them. Indeed, this seeming imbalance of power is why some staffers inevitably come to resent their Continue reading

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March 15, 2013

By now, the perks available to employees at Silicon Valley’s hottest startups and established tech giants are the stuff of legend. Google staffers can enjoy their breaks either by eating a free gourmet lunch in the commissary or by receiving a relaxing massage from one of the company’s in-house masseurs. YouTube employees can walk down the stairs to their next meeting or they could take a ride on the story-high slide instead. And if a Twitter programmer doesn’t want to Continue reading

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March 5, 2013

With economic recovery proceeding at a sluggish pace, many companies are operating on razor thin margins that can be easily disrupted. For instance, business got so slow at the plastics company Saint-Gobain last fall that executives cut worker hours by 40 percent. Although this type of story has become all too common since 2008, a federal government-funded work share program ensured the company’s staff didn’t lose their entire income. Thanks to the additional funds, Saint-Gobain’s employees recouped 70 percent of Continue reading

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March 1, 2013

The revival of American manufacturing is often cited as a clear indicator of the economy’s slow but sure recovery. After all, manufacturers added half a million new jobs since 2009, marking one of the few positives in this relatively sluggish upturn. But that statistic doesn’t tell the whole story: none of the workers who landed those manufacturing jobs are in a union. In fact, the number of union factory workers dropped by four percent from 2010 to 2012, just as Continue reading

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February 15, 2013

Even in this increasingly web-based world, the old saying, “Location, location, location,” still means something. As many long-dormant urban areas become revitalized, companies are squaring off to snap up space. Developers in Washington, D.C., have figured out a way to harness social media to determine the tenants of these valuable new properties. Called Popularise, this new startup allows citizens to vote online for the businesses they’d like to see in their community.

According to Popularise founders Ben and Dan Miller, Continue reading

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February 15, 2013

This video about Welch’s beginnings serves as a companion to an abstract in this month’s Newsletter about cooperative corporations.

Questions:

  1. What major advantages does Welch’s provide to their grape growers?
  1. Have other products shifted from their original purpose and found success?

From CNN Money

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February 10, 2013

When it comes to running a business, you can never know too much. That’s why many national chains are sending potential franchisees to school before they get the keys to a store. Although classroom lectures figure in to many of these programs, the main goal is to educate the franchisee-to-be on as many aspects of the business as possible. This can include everything from working the grill and mopping floors to employee management and media relations.

At Culvers, for instance, Continue reading

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February 5, 2013

Although franchising has many benefits, it doesn’t provide much freedom to the franchisees. After all, their primary job is to maintain the brand’s image, which just so happens to be whatever their corporate bosses say it is. They can also fall victim to larger trends that have affected their parent company. For instance, an entrepreneur named Jerry Merrill lost his Baskin-Robbins franchise in 1999, along with 600 other franchisees the company could not afford to keep. Merrill and 34 other Continue reading

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