White Eagle’s Third Generation

Troubled Workers? The State Has Help

FBI and Cyber Drama

Easy to Use Websites Earn Their Keep

Corrections or additions?

These articles by Kathleen McGinn Spring were prepared for the

March 28, 2001 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Survivors In the Family Business Game

Fear is often the motivation for starting a family

business.

"It’s the need to survive, what we used to call `Depression

mentality,’"

says Mark Kasrel, a psychotherapist who consults to family and

other small businesses. He saw this at work in his own family. "My

father’s mother had to open a business on the boardwalk in Asbury

Park to feed her three kids," he says. His maternal grandparents,

owners of a store that sold high end lingerie, were in business too,

as was his father, an optometrist.

While fear works wonders in getting a business off the ground, it

can strangle its growth, says Kasrel. He discusses this and other

issues common to family-owned businesses when he speaks at the Rutgers

Family Business Forum at the Cook Campus Center on "Anger and

Conflict Resolution" on Thursday, March 29, at 8 a.m. Cost: $25.

Call 732-445-7504, ext. 21.

Kasrel, who holds a bachelor’s degree from West Virginia Wesleyan

College (Class of 1970) and a master’s degree in counseling and group

process from Seton Hall University, was himself involved in a family

business for a short time. "My wife and I sold hot tubs,"

he says. "She was the boss and I was the muscle." This

arrangement

worked well, and demonstrates an essential ingredient for success

in a family business. "Someone has to be the boss," he says.

Roles have to be delineated, but even so, "one person shouldn’t

make all the decisions."

Traditionally, the boss was most often the father, and the successor

the son, but this is changing, Kasrel says. Not only are daughters

being seen as valuable in important roles, but sometimes it is the

younger generation that is taking the lead. One of his clients is

a young man who had planned to be a professional skateboarder until

an injury knocked him off his board. Looking for a new direction,

he teamed with his father on a website design business. "He’s

the front man," Kasrel says of the former skateboarder. "He

depends on his father for back office support."

Whether the nucleus of a family business is a father and son, a

husband

and wife, or a sister and brother, the problems common to any startup

tend to be amplified. "You have to eat dinner with these

people,"

Kasrel says. "You celebrate Thanksgiving with them." Some

of the issues include:

Letting go . The fear that accompanies the plunge into

a life without paychecks and employer-supplied health benefits hangs

on. A business’s founder often has to resort to extreme measures to

get financing. Then, Kasrel says, "he has to sweep the floor,

do the accounting, lock up at night." The result, he says, is

a person whose attitude is, "`It’s my boat, I’m going to drive

it.’" Trusting anyone enough to turn over important tasks becomes

difficult. "They’re secretive," Kasrel says. But if the family

business is to grow, the founder has to relinquish some control, often

to the next generation.

Looking beyond loyalty . "In family businesses, loyalty

is highly valued," Kasrel says. A person who has been a faithful

employee for many years is often the person who gets the promotion,

regardless of his skills. This can put incompetent people in positions

of authority, he says, and undermine the business’ chances for

success.

Bringing in outsiders . Sometimes, Kasrel says, a family

member may not have the skills for a particular position. Or a family

member may not want to continue in the business. "Children can

grow up hearing `it’s such a grind. I’m working 12 to 14 hours a day.’

They may not want that life, but they don’t want to disappoint their

parents." In either case, for the good of the business, Kasrel

says, "you have to look past blood."

Keeping it on a professional level . Counseling companies

on business issues, Kasrel often finds the root of the problem is

that "someone feels angry, hurt, or scared." Children,

whatever

their ages, continue to want to please their parents. "It’s hard

for them not to hear criticism as personal," he says. This makes

it especially important for family businesses to separate family life

from their company. Still, family businesses are different, and

personal

concerns do tend to pop up. "If one of the kids who is going to

take over the business is getting married, dad may say he wants a

pre-nup," Kasrel says. "This creates conflict. To the kid,

this looks personal."

Stepping back . "Family businesses are so caught up

in the day-to-day," Kasrel says. "Everything is urgent. Very

little is planned." In this atmosphere, employees — family

members and outsiders alike — become uneasy. They see the owner

working long days, always at top speed, and "wonder what’s going

to happen if he has a heart attack." Develop a vision, Kasrel

says. And make sure there is a succession plan in place.

Kasrel, who is a senior associate at Rutgers Center for

Management

and Entrepreneurship as well as the owner his Cherry Hill-based

consulting

company, has no desire to bring his wife, Shelly, or 16-year-old

daughter,

Jaclyn, into his business. "As much as I believe in family

business,"

he says. "I like to keep it separate."

— Kathleen McGinn Spring

Top Of Page
White Eagle’s Third Generation

Six years ago, when Eric T. Bielawski gave up the

practice

of corporate law to work with his father at White Eagle Printing,

he did it on a temporary basis. "I gave him a year

commitment,"

he says. "My father was 58, and he was worried about

succession."

Six years later the son has succeeded the father, Ted, as president

of the 30-person family business, a full-service multi-color printing

firm in Hamilton Township.

"My father talked about printing all his life, but it’s tough,

always being in someone’s shadow," says Bielawski, explaining

why neither he nor his brother had wanted to go into the business

at first. After majoring in economics at the University of Richmond

and earning a law degree from Widener University, he spent six years

practicing corporate and securities law at Mylotte David & Fitzpatrick

in Philadelphia. In 1990 he took a paycut for the tryout year while

his wife, Suzanne, continued to practice family law. Now they live

in Mount Laurel with three children under three years old.

When the company was founded in 1927 by Ted’s father, Albin Bielawski,

it published and printed Polish newspapers and other ethnic papers

in Camden and Trenton. Now, at its 15,000 square foot office on Kuser

Road, which it shares with Mercer Business magazine, the monthly

publication

of the county chamber of commerce, White Eagle focuses on high-end

projects such as annual reports, brochures, magazines, and direct

mail pieces (609-586-2032; fax, 609-586-8052). "We have a brand

new eight-up image center (with eight pages on a piece of film) and

two through six-color presses, and a complete bindery with

distribution

capabilities," says Bielawski.

His decision pleases both parents: "It’s a family based business

— my mother is happy to see the direction it is going."

But it wasn’t until the tryout year that he knew this would work.

"I enjoy this business — it’s a great business," he says.

"It’s fun running your own company. It is different from being

a lawyer. You are actually manufacturing something and seeing tangible

results. You get happy clients every day. You are actually relied

on by a lot of companies. And when you pull through for them on short

deadlines you get a sense of satisfaction."

Top Of Page
Troubled Workers? The State Has Help

If your bookkeeper never rolls into the office before

noon, or your vice president is having more tantrums than usual, or

perhaps your mail room clerk, once an exemplary employee, is

misrouting

the mail he does not lose, you might want to call the Department of

Labor. Based in Trenton, its Employer Human Resources Support Services

office stands ready to consult on troubled employee issues, and much

more.

Len Morganelli, a senior human resources analyst, says his

office

responds to 100 calls a month from employers of all sizes with

questions

on HR subjects like interviewing job candidates, drawing up handbooks,

substance abuse, and performance appraisals. On about a quarter of

those calls an analyst goes to the job site, observing the situation,

interviewing managers and employees, and recommending a course of

action. There is no charge for any of these, and Morganelli says all

information is kept confidential. "We’re just like outside

management

consultants," he says.

Morganelli speaks on managing difficult employees on Friday, March

30, at 9 a.m. at the Department of Labor in Trenton. Cost: $10. Call

609-984-3518.

Morganelli has been working for the Department of Labor for 26 years.

A graduate of Jersey City State College, Class of 1975, where he

majored

in biology and English literature, Morganelli joined the Department

of Labor at a friend’s urging. A native of Jersey City, he now lives

in Point Pleasant Beach.

After consulting on human resource issues for 13 years, Morganelli

has concluded that "frequently, the employee who causes problems

at work is not doing this because it is what he wants to do. There

is often illness, or family problems, or financial problems, or

emotional

problems." Whatever the cause, the fallout can be significant,

affecting a wide circle of employees and disrupting work. For

employers

coping with a difficult employee Morganelli offers this advice:

Figure out the problem . "Most of us take off our

personal

problems with our coats," Morganelli says. There may be a problem

at home, but it is left behind as the work day begins. Others,

however,

can’t shed the worry over a sick spouse or an overdue mortgage payment

so easily. Their absences increase, the quality of their work

declines,

and they may even become argumentative. Sitting down with the employee

may uncover the reason for the decline in his performance. It is

important

to be careful in questioning him, though. "You can say `Would

you like to tell me about it?’" Morganelli suggests. "But

you can’t use a phrase that invades an individual’s private space.

If you say `Are you and your wife having problems?’ you have stepped

over the bounds of the employer/employee relationship."

Remember you are not a therapist . If it does appear that

the employee’s poor performance is the result of an emotional or

family

problem, don’t try to treat him yourself. "You are not a

diagnostician,"

Morganelli says. Refer the employee to an employee assistance program.

He recalls a situation where intervention restored equilibrium to

a office, while helping out a possibly suicidal employee. "An

employer was closing a plant," he says. "They had other

facilities,

and most of the employees were transferred, but there were several

lay-offs." The lay-offs were not to take effect for eight months,

and the performance of one of the individuals affected, a man who

had been a stellar employee, plummeted. His work output declined,

its quality was poor. He became belligerent, upsetting other

employees,

and began to speak of suicide. A talk with the employee revealed that

his wife was ill, he had two children in college, and he was

frightened

about his financial future. The employer paid for therapy to help

him explore his options and for financial counseling, and his

performance

improved.

Make it formal . In speaking with a difficult employee

it is important to clearly state the problem, demand that negative

behavior stop, set a timetable for improvement, and put forward the

consequences of failure to rectify the problem. An informal talk is

not the way to go, Morganelli says. It leaves room for vacillating

and misunderstanding. The employer’s course of action needs to be

clear, and, just like a parent, he needs to stick with it.

Having a policy for dealing with employee discipline in place before

problems occur can be a help, but Morganelli says there are two

schools

of thought about whether small employers benefit from drawing up these

plans. "On the one hand, some people say `if you have nothing

in writing no one can sue you,’" he says. But not having a policy

invites unequal treatment and resentment. One employee, Morganelli

gives as an example, may report not feeling well and go home at 2

p.m. one day without penalty, and another employee, catching the bug,

may ask to go home early the next day only to learn he has been

docked.

Look past the obvious . Sometimes, the employee who is

goofing off may be too bright for his job, Morganelli says. In his

experience, a transfer is often the best way to turn a troubled

employee

into a star. And sometimes, the employee who has become balky may

be reacting to an inflexible, overly demanding supervisor. In that

case, getting rid of the underling will do little more than set up

the next hire for a difficult situation.

Whatever the situation, Morganelli says his office "tries

to instruct employers to lead by example." All of the employees

will be watching as their boss grapples with a difficult co-worker,

and their impression of how he handles himself will linger. Morganelli

says, "Like Caesar’s wife, employers do have to be above

suspicion."

Top Of Page
FBI and Cyber Drama

Thomas F. Minton, a FBI high-tech crime

specialist,

addresses McCarter Theater’s audience on Sunday, April 1, at about

3:45 p.m., following the 2 p.m. performance of Arthur Kopit’s new

cyberspace drama, "Because He Can." The lecture is free, but

tickets to the play, directed by Emily Mann, cost $29 to $52.

The play repeats at 7:30 p.m. One need not attend the performance

to attend the free talk. Call 609-258-2787.

Minton heads the FBI’s Regional Computer Intrusion Investigative Unit

based in Somerset. He has worked on foreign counterintelligence and

international terrorism and been involved with the Melissa virus and

other high-profile investigations. "We concentrate on computer

intrusion matters that can have an effect on national security,"

he says. "We are interested in the type of criminal featured in

[Kopit’s] play, but we really concentrate on the one who can bring

the infrastructure to a grinding halt."

Minton has been with the FBI for 10 years, first in the Buffalo

office,

working on violent crimes and major offender cases, and then at the

District of Columbia headquarters. Two years ago he was named to be

in charge of the agency’s first regional computer intrusion crime

squad, based in Newark.

In the McCarter play, a stalker goes after the cyberspace privacy

of a Manhattan couple. It is billed as an "edgy, erotically

charged

information-age thriller that examines our relationship to the

technology

we create, and the control it can have over our lives."

Top Of Page
Easy to Use Websites Earn Their Keep

From shopping carts to war of the galaxies intro pages

complete with four-color meteorite showers and singing aliens, there

are just so many cool things you can do with a website. Think twice,

though, before succumbing to any gee-whiz impulses. "We all want

to use this technology," says website developer Dana

Hutchins.

"It’s like you get a new toy. You want to play with it. You want

to see what it can do." But be careful, Hutchins advises. Don’t

let technology — or anything else — throw up barriers that

will keep your website’s visitors from doing what you want them to

do.

Hutchins, owner of a four-year-old Trenton-based website design firm

called Inforest, speaks on "making your website earn its keep"

on Wednesday, April 4, at 6:30 p.m. at Mercer County College. Cost:

$25. Call 609-586-9446 for further information.

A graduate of Princeton High School, Hutchins earned a bachelor’s

in forestry from the University of Vermont (Class of 1991). He used

the Internet extensively in his class work in the late-1980s before

browsers made the exercise easy. In forestry, he says, it’s all about

measurements and forecasting "how to reap the highest gain over

multiple objectives over time." He found the Internet the ideal

way to run these forecasts, and turned to the medium again after he

graduated and was putting out a forestry newsletter. The first website

he built was for Inforest, his newsletter. After a lack of demand

shut the newsletter down, he kept the name and started a website

design

company.

Inforest has three employees and a client roster that includes McGraw

Hill, the New Jersey Press Association, Princeton University’s

electrical

engineering department, and Columbia University, along with

"smaller,

but established, companies that are working on developing a web

presence."

"We’re still formulating what web layout is, and what it should

be," Hutchins says. "It’s close to print, to lay out on a

page, but it’s really a mix between a printed page and an interface

to a program.. It’s an evolving thing." To get the most out of

a website, Hutchins recommends the following strategies:

Don’t put anything in the way of your goal .

"Fundamentally,

it all comes down to what the basic function of a website should be

in terms of what you want your users to do," Hutchins says. If

you want them to buy, make it easy. One of his clients,

TaylorsTreasures,

an E-tailer of sensitive skin products, has just a handful of

products,

but made potential customers use a shopping cart. This element added

5 to 10 steps to the buying process. "We put the order form on

the same page as the catalog, and cut it down to one or two,"

Hutchins says.

The same principle applies to sites whose purpose is increasing a

company’s contacts. Make it easy for potential clients to get in touch

with you. Many sites direct users to fill in an E-mail form to request

information, but "people don’t like that," Hutchins says.

The big, blank space stops them cold. "They prefer a form,"

he says. "People like to be prompted, to be told what to do."

There is a tendency for website owners to think "`I’m not really

asking that much. Just write an E-mail,’" Hutchins says. But this

approach can be fatal. "The easier you make it," he says.

"The more response you’ll get."

Create reasonable expectations for your website .

"Expectations

for a website tend to be too high or too low," Hutchins says.

Some new website owners put the things up just because they are

embarrassed

when clients ask for their company’s web address, and they don’t have

one. They tend to expect little or nothing from the website. Others

expect the Internet presence to create a windfall.

A better approach is to consider a website to be a part of a total

marketing plan and to measure how well it is doing in relation to

other tools. It is now possible to determine how many users visit

a site, where they clicked to get there, what they do on the site,

how often they return, and whether they make a purchase or abandon

a full shopping cart.

Use these tools continually to evaluate how the website is doing,

and to guide adjustments. "If you have a new product, but no one

is looking at it," he says, "move it up to where it will get

attention." And if you are paying for a banner ad on another site,

but few visitors are clicking over to you from that site, consider

dropping the ad.

Simplify to get more traffic . The best websites are clear,

concise, and streamlined. The same qualities that make these websites

easy to navigate secures them high search engine rankings.

"Writing

for search engines is the same as writing for people," Hutchins

says. Most surfers type in a company name, perhaps Discount Realty,

or the name of a service and some geographical markers, something

like Princeton, New Jersey, real estate. If neither of these search

queries brings up Discount Realty’s site, the company has wasted its

website development dollars, says Hutchins. The best way to avoid

Internet anonymity, he says, is simply to put the company name in

the website’s title line and to add a description of what the company

does. In the case of TaylorsTreasures this meant adding the words

"sensitive skin" to the title line. "

Some search engines go beyond the home page in figuring out what a

website is all about, but many more just stop there. This makes that

page critically important. The key words used on the home page must

reinforce what the company does, and thereby earn the site a higher

search engine ranking.

Link with your friends . While most visitors will arrive

at your website through search engines, others can be brought from

links on other sites. Exchanging links with other sites is an

excellent

way to build traffic, Hutchins says. Sites that sell products should

have links from the companies that manufacture those products. Sites

belonging to accountants or architects can have links from their

professional

associations. "I could exchange links with a networking

company,"

Hutchins says. "We’re in the same industry, but we don’t

compete."

Breaking a "real world" taboo, Hutchins says even competitors

may benefit from linking to each other.

Again, the goal is to get results from the website. That, says

Hutchins, must be the guiding principle behind every decision relating

to an Internet presence. "People don’t go on your site to see

that cute animation," he says. "You need to keep in mind what

they’re there for, what you want to get across. It has to be fast,

and it has to be flawless."


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