Archives for the month of: November, 2011

Facebook has more members than there are people living in the United States. However, success can indeed be fleeting as they say, so one must wonder if Facebook will become another Friendster or MySpace and loose its appeal. Only time will tell if this will occur. Speaking of time and staying power, there is a company that has been around for quite some time. It has been in existence for over 1,400 years.

Kongo Gumi Construction is a Japanese Buddhist temple construction company that was founded in 578.  Its founder was a Korean who came over to Japan and started his own company.

What makes this company unique is it is family owned and run. Keeping family harmony and the desire to move forward must have been some feat. The company has experienced great events in the history of Japan. Buddhism was introduced less than 50 years before the company started, many ruling dynasties came and went, the ninjas, the samurais, two world wars, and Japan reign of being a global economic power. This company saw it all.

Among the company’s traits is its flexibility, the company head need not be the eldest son, it can even be a daughter or a son-in-law. It’s just not about blood but also about leadership capability.  The company stayed focused on temple construction though it made coffins during World War II and has gone into apartment and other building constructions.

Seeing an opportunity in the booming Japanese real estate sector in the 80s, it borrowed heavily and got caught when the bubble burst in the 90s. Saddled with heavy debt and with less demand in temple building, the company was forced to become a subsidiary of Takamatsu Construction Group in 2006. Takamatsu was founded in 1917. Will this company have its own 1,400 year run? Who knows?

Tandy Computers, Wang Computers, Bethlehem Steel, Pan Am, these companies loomed large during their heydays and are now all gone. Other companies got swallowed up by more progressive ones.

Would you rather build a company that looms large then disappears or a relatively obscure one that lasts for a long time? I’d go for the latter, it may become mediocre and unknown but it still employs people. How about you?

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ATDynamics is dedicated to bringing the freight and transportation industry into the future through the use of energy-saving aerodynamics technology. First of all, the San Francisco-based company of fifteen employees does this by ensuring that its own operations has as minimal an impact on its surrounding environment as possible through the use of reused and recycled materials, using communication, invoice, and purchase order systems that are electronic-based, telecommuting, energy-saving laptops, and even furniture made of scrap wood or prototype materials or comes from second-hand stores.

 

The work and vision of ATDynmanics and other likeminded companies is extremely important, welcomed, and needed. The more bright minds looking into these energy-saving issues the better, for now many of these measures and technologies do not make financial sense for the average consumer or business. For this technology to truly and honestly work it needs to be able to stand on its own without any government subsidies; and the creation of relatively low-tech items such as TrailerTails is one great way to get energy-saving devices into the public at large.

Thus far, ATDynamics has been successful at reducing its carbon footprint. Through the use of the CoolCalifornia.org calculator, ATD has calculated that it has already successfully removed twenty tons of annual carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from its operations. Furthermore, the company says that it has cut an additional 2,2000 metric tons of CO2 from its annual output through the use of its TrailerTail technology. The company believes that the Trailer Tail also saves it $200,000 in diesel costs each year.

Wisconsin, renowned for being America’s dairy land, is also famed for its history of producing fine beers. One of the state’s premier brewers, Stevens Point Brewery, is also one of the five oldest continuously-operating breweries in the United States. Its tradition, dating back to 1857, is equaled only by the quality of its beers.

Like any craft brewer worth its salt, Stevens Point Brewery features a variety of both year-round and seasonal brews, as well as a handful of limited-production offerings. With names like Burly Brown Ale and Nude Beach, the brewery is not afraid to whip up daring flavors that challenge the ghosts of its formidable legacy.

One of Stevens Point Brewery’s biggest surprises is its Belgian White. Unlike many craft brewers that relegate their Belgian whites to a summer-only production schedule, Steven Point churns out its White beer all year long… and for good reason! Their Belgian White uncharacteristically leans against a dominant presence of wheat, and instead balances its body with a subtly increased pilsner presence. It’s hard to imagine, but a fresh pour of this Belgian White brings a taste of summer to the shores of Lake Michigan during even the coldest of Wisconsin’s sub-zero January nights.

In recent years, Stevens Point Brewery has spurned the temptation of selling out to a larger beer manufacturing operation, and it remains a locally-owned independent operation. Its heritage should remain a worthy badge of honor for years to come.

A successful entrepreneur dedicated to protecting and preserving the environment, Lin Merage is founder and CEO of Solne Collections, an online retailer dealing in natural goods. She established the company in 2004. Today, Solne exists as a successful web-based business, offering products promoting a positive, eco-conscious lifestyle agreeable with any budget.

Lin Merage created Solne Collections to oppose the tide of life-threatening toxic chemicals found in ordinary household materials. After suffering from a chemical sensitivity to toxins found in her carpeting that went undiagnosed at first, Ms. Merage decided to provide consumers with better options for healthy living. Solne now offers a wide array of earth-friendly products, including outerwear and underwear made of natural materials, sustainable household cleaning products, books, gifts, and organic remedies.

An active participant in charitable pursuits, Lin Merage has made donations to The Kempe Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse and Neglect, a world-renowned nonprofit organization based in Colorado. Recently, Ms. Merage attended the GoingGreen 2011 conference in San Francisco, California, a sustainable business event. At the conference, surrounded by other Earth-conscious businesses, she learned about burgeoning technologies in energy conservation and sustainability. Solne is headquartered in Denver, Colorado. More information and purchasing options are available at www.solne.com.

Exxon Mobil has taken on the world’s toughest energy challenges – and they are recognized as the best in doing what they do. It all started over 100 years ago, when the company was just a small regional marketer of kerosene in the United States. Today, it is the largest publicly traded petroleum and petrochemical enterprise in the world, operating in most countries and creating products that power cities and lubricate various industries.

This description makes Exxon Mobil appear like a no-nonsense powerhouse out to make their mark in the world through their indispensable services; but, aside from being a leader in the energy industry, the company also exerts equal effort on charitable endeavors.

The ExxonMobil Foundation is the primary philanthropic arm of the Exxon Mobil Corporation, which facilitates strategic focus on a number of charitable projects, such as ExxonMobil Women’s Economic Opportunity Initiative, ExxonMobil Math and Science Initiative and ExxonMobil Malaria Initiative.

The Women’s Economic Opportunity Initiative is dedicated to the empowerment of women. The company believes that creating economic opportunities for women is one of the wisest investments corporate structures can make. As such, Exxon launched this global effort in 2005 to help women reach their economic potential.

The ExxonMobil Math and Science Initiative is part of the company’s mission to encourage more students to take an active interest in the math and science fields. Last year, the company donated over $42 million to math and science education in America.

Exxon takes an active lead in spreading awareness, prevention, and cure for malaria through the Malaria Initiative. The company has a number of treatment and advocacy programs dedicated to this cause, and also supports existing efforts of other organizations for the same cause.

In 2011, it was reported that Exxon Mobil has given $2.8M to charity during its annual Employees’ Favorite Charities Campaign. More than 500 community groups benefited from this donation. Exxon plans to continue this fund-raising program for the succeeding years as part of their commitment to improve the society we live in.

Lowe’s has been the go-to store for home improvement supplies and appliances for the past 60 years. Established in 1946 in North Wilkesboro, North Carolina, the chain now has 1,710 stores in the United States and 20 in Canada, serving a total of 14 million customers in just a span of seven days. It is the second largest home improvement retailer worldwide – an impressive feat for a company that started out as a small hardware store.

To give back to the community that has patronized their products and services, Lowe’s Companies, Inc. pledged a commitment that extends beyond the boundaries of the traditional retail setting. Through philanthropy, the company supports its neighbors through alliances with well-respected organizations.

lowes charitable logoLowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation was established almost at the same time as the company. It helps schools and community-based groups make ends meet through basic, one-time projects that have long-term and sustainable effects.

In 2010, Lowe’s made a significant contribution to help victims of the earthquake in Haiti. The company donated a total of $1 million to the Red Cross, together with some of America’s industry giants.

This year, Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation donated a total of $1 million to four environmental charities through an online campaign. The charities, American Forests, Keep America Beautiful, National Park Foundation, and Water.org, each received a $100,000 grant, while the remaining $600,000 was received by the charity who won the most consumer votes. By encouraging consumers to participate in the selection process, the company’s foundation lets the community decide how to best distribute grants to the most deserving organization.

Lowe’s has also taken on the challenge of providing tools to help educators and communities deliver basic needs to their students. The company believes that students have a dire need to be provided with essential learning tools, while communities should be empowered to give citizens a safe dwelling.

With their commitment to charity, Lowe’s dedication to corporate responsibility is truly admirable.

While you’ve most certainly heard Warren Buffett dubbed as the Oracle of Omaha, you may not be familiar with some of the companies under his wing. Berkshire Hathaway is one such company. It ranked seventh in 2011 on Fortune’s list of the 500 largest companies boasting of $136 billion in revenues and $12 billion in profits (CNN Money). The company which is labeled as a conglomerate holding company got its start manufacturing textiles back in 1839. After a merger with Berkshire Fine Spinning Associates in 1955, Berkshire Hathaway was operating 15 plants with more than 12,000 workers; however, by the end of the 1950s, seven of these plants were closed (Wikipedia).

Warren Buffett. Photo by Mark Hirschey.

Buffett started purchasing stock in Berkshire Hathaway in 1962 after studying the stock price pattern following each subsequent plant closing. Only two short years later, he realized the textile business was not going to rebound so he accepted a verbal offer to sell the stock for a specific price. When Buffett received the agreement in writing, the seller was offering a slightly lower price per stock ­which is actually an eighth of a cent lower. Buffett, angry at the deception, refused to sell his shares instead bought up more of the company’s stock.

Although Buffett admitted in 2010 that had he sold the stocks and invested his money directly in insurance companies, he would have made more money; the company is ranked in the top 10 on the Fortune 500, up from number 11 in 2010. Berkshire Hathaway owns several companies including National Indemnity Company and GEICO. Even though Buffett could have made more money in the long-term if he sold, he stuck to his principles and did not accept a sneaky attempt at a lower offer on the Berkshire Hathaway. He also turned the company from a faltering textile manufacturer into a holding company with billions of dollars in revenue.

Devoted to excellence in nursing and rehabilitative services, The Waterford nursing home offers residents personalized, client-centered treatment and care. Owned by Danny Shabat for 25 years, the facility is located on the North Side of Chicago and accommodates 141 residents at capacity. Staffed by skilled professionals around the clock, The Waterford provides clients a comprehensive array of nursing services, including medication oversight, tracheostomy care, and pain management.

The WaterfordThe Waterford employs a team of rehabilitation professionals who offer a range of therapies, including respiratory therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, intravenous therapy, and enteral therapy (tube feeding). The nursing home staff also includes speech-language pathologists who work with clients to maintain and improve language skills. To ensure the best quality of life for every resident, the nursing facility features a wealth of supportive services, including a recreational activity program; daily housekeeping; a full-treatment beauty salon; and a shaded, multi-season patio for lounging. The Waterford nursing home also provides clients optional trust fund accounting, regular religious services, and monthly cultural excursions.

Dedicated to meeting the unique needs of every resident, The Waterford maintains specialized facilities, including short-term programs for those in need of respite care, a wound treatment program, and a unit focused on the care of Russian patients, replete with Russian-speaking staff as well as Russian food, media, and social programming. In addition, the nursing home hosts a specialized program known as Harbor Place, affording residents experiencing dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and related conditions a place that meets their special needs.

In its daily practice, The Waterford nursing home upholds owner Daniel Shabat’s commitment to providing high quality, individualized rehabilitation and nursing care. Sensitive to residents’ diverse financial needs, the facility works with a number of insurance providers, including private companies, Medicare, and Illinois Medicaid in addition to accepting individual payments.

The healthcare industry is famous for its outdated database system. Paper-addicted, they still rely on conventional methods of organizing information. Lately, it was discovered that the industry is not completely against the idea of going digital. Their concern was more of how can they encode countless documents into an organized database. Thus, the healthcare information technology industry was born.

cerner

As more hospitals and doctors sign up for electronic healthcare systems, small unknown companies in this industry rocketed. One of them was Cerner (CERN), whose mission is to contribute to the systemic improvement of healthcare delivery. They are transforming healthcare by eliminating error, variance and waste for healthcare providers and consumers. As they say, healthcare is too important to remain the same.

Cerner changes the way people use and share information while coordinating care across fragmented healthcare systems. Their investments in IT include replacement of the current, claims-based system with more efficient and streamlined electronic payments.

The accomplishments of their clients and associates speak for the company. Some of these awards include America’s 50 Best Hospitals, Health Care’s Most Wired, HIMSS Nicholas E. Davies Award of Excellence, Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award and Thomson Reuters Everest Award, among others.

In terms of revenue, Cerner is poised to grow 24% this year. Strong positions in the hospital space allowed them to overcome the tough economy, together with other companies. Unlike other industries, there is more room for competition in healthcare information technology since there is no “one size fits all” solution. The entire system cannot be improved by just a single company, and with countless numbers of hospitals and other healthcare establishments in the country, there is plenty of room for more.

Cerner’s market cap has reached $11.4 billion this year, which is quite impressive considering that the business is relatively new. The future is definitely looking bright for them.

Many success stories were born in Silicon Valley, and Calpine’s is one of those. Ranked as the fastest-growing company by Fortune, Calpine is one of the few power companies to first provid cleaner sources of electricity.

With the growing concern of consumers over the environment, some companies have followed suit. Switching to “eco-friendly” methods is neither particularly easy nor cheap, which is why only a few were able to complete the transition. Calpine, however, was way ahead of most companies when it came toproviding an alternative energy resource that is cost-effective, reliable and fuel efficient.

Calpine was created as a response to the 1973 oil crisis and the 1979 energy crisis that caused much debate in America. While legislators were tackling the possibility of domestic energy productions, Peter Cartwright and his co-workers, Guy F. Atkinson of the Construction Company, and the Electrowatt Corporation struck an arrangement to create a power plant that could provide geothermal energy. With an investment capital of just $1 million dollars, the partners set out to create Calpine.

Now, the company operates low-carbon, natural gas-fired and renewable geothermal power plants – their two key technologies. Not only do their power plants produce 90% less emissions, they are also 40% more fuel efficient than older fossil-fueled power plants. Presently, this technology is only available in a few parts of the world. As of today, Calpine can only deliver eco-friendly power to 20 states in America.

In line with their social responsibility, Calpine adheres to stringent standards for safe and efficient power plant operations. Their commitment is to implement operational practices that are safe for the environment; in fact, most of their projects exceed compliance standards for environmental legal protection. They also maintain strong relationships with the surrounding community of their plants to make sure that their presence does not, in any way, produce harm or distress.

Calpine