``Tire industry analyst''-it's short, sweet, and seems to say it all. Periodically, Tire Business Staff Reporters have contacted analyst Stephen Girsky for his insights on what's happening on Wall Street in the wonderful world of tires. A recent business story we read said a mouthful in describing him as ``an Institutional Investor All-American Research Team 1995 first-team autos and auto-parts analyst from Morgan Stanley.''
Try fitting that on a business card.
Among the TV commercials Dunlop Tire Corp. will be airing with its new ``Handle It!'' advertising campaign is one touting the ability of the firm's light truck tires to get the job done off-the-road.
It shows a sport-utility vehicle, shod with Dunlop AV Radial Rovers, barreling up a rock-strewn peak and coming to a stop inches from the edge of a cliff overlooking Arizona's Grand Canyon.
Dewitt ``Woody'' Arnold, Dunlop vice president of marketing, said because of the commercial's tight shooting schedule, the stunt driver got only one run up to the edge. A red line was painted on a rock indicating the absolute point where he had to stop, and the driver was understandably a bit nervous as he sped along, trying to see the line.
He ``handled it,'' but a parachute might have been a better backup than airbags.
New trade magazine?
While pursuing a story on a tire store that burned down, our ace reporter, Kathy McCarron, called the fire chief in Des Moines, Iowa, for details about the business with the unique name Flatt Tire. He was unavailable, so she left a message with his secretary.
When Kathy finally got the chief, he said he was told a reporter called from Fire Business newspaper. Made sense to him, though he admitted he'd never heard of that trade publication before.
Fire Business-a ``must-read'' for firefighters, arsonists, pyromaniacs. . .
Now do it in order
Got problems finding good help?
National Small Business United, a Washington-based group chaired by Ken Heller, surveyed 966 small-business owners and found that 24 percent thought the lack of qualified workers was a threat to their firms' growth and survival. The Bloomberg Business News story said that's up from 13 percent three years ago.
So how bad is it out there?
Mr. Heller, who owns a Denver environmental-services firm, recalled asking a new hiree to arrange a batch of files in chronological order. But she couldn't. Didn't know what ``chronological'' meant!
Want to keep ``good'' employees like that one? Then you'd better think about sweetening the pot a little.
A Chicago Tribune story noted that some ``progressive'' companies are so interested in ``bonding'' with their employees to keep them happy and productive that they offer some ``perks'' bordering on the bizarre.
For a buck a load, workers at a packaging company in Charlotte, N.C., get their laundry done on premises.
Airplanes in Memphis, Tenn.-based Federal Express Corp.'s fleet are named for employees' children.
Silicon Graphics Inc., the computer software designer in Mountain View, Calif., lets its workers have water fights at the end of major projects. (Gentlemen, arm your pocket protectors.)
A Chicago firm pays college tuition for children of long-term employees, while a Boston consulting firm allows its personnel to bring their dogs to work.
The ``most progressive companies today,'' according to Jim Harris, a management consultant in Indian Rocks Beach, Fla., ``don't stop at focusing on profit; they're also focusing on the profit-makers: the employees.'' (The wet ones with the clean clothes?)
As the dust finally settles on the acquisition of Big O Tires Inc. by Memphis, Tenn.-based TBC. Corp., a lot of the credit-or blame, depending on whom you ask-for the sale must go to Ken Pavia Sr., whose Balboa Investment Group (BIG) held the second-largest stake of Big O stock. Remember, a few years back he helped instigate the shareholder charge to make the tire franchiser more profitable.
So what happens now to ``Mr. BIG''?
After owning nothing but Big O stock for about three years, he told TIRE BUSINESS he recently diversified and is now a shareholder in Baldwin Piano & Organ Co., the 136-year-old Cincinnati keyboard maker Mr. Pavia said is remarkably similar financially to Big O. He and his Bolero Investment Group L.P. own almost 6 percent of the firm-a ``substantial position'' of some 175,000 shares.
Baldwin, the last and only American-made piano left-since Kimball closed its piano division earlier this year-is almost the same size as Big O, though with a slightly higher net worth, Mr. Pavia said. It has about the same sales and its stock usually trades at around the same price as Big O's did. And he claims Baldwin's shares-like he always said about Big O's-are also ``undervalued.''
Mr. Pavia described Baldwin as, for years, a ``sleepy company'' that has now awakened with a new female president, Karen Hendrichs, ``who is really shaking things up.''
With his Big O track record, odds are Mr. Pavia may play the same tune at Baldwin and shake things up, as well.
This 'n that
Quote of the week: Again debating budget cuts during a recent hearing on a spending bill, one U.S. senator said OSHA (the feared Occupational Safety and Health Administration) is, to most small businesses, ``a four-letter word.''
We notice a lot of you are nodding.
A firm's full-page promotional ad in a magazine was touting all the neat stuff there is in Chicago, from ``blue skies'' to ``low natural gas rates.'' The company is called Peoples Gas, a name that perhaps evokes an unfortunate image. Ever wonder why they call it the Windy City?