Tag: Business

Affordable airline boosts business at Stockton Metropolitan

July 22, 2014


Comments Off on Affordable airline boosts business at Stockton Metropolitan

Two hours before a recent 2:15 pm flight to Las Vegas, the Stockton Metropolitan Airport, as if on cue, came to life.

Travelers packed the small terminal, many toting carry-on luggage. A few vacation-goers headed to the airport#x2019;s only restaurant for preflight drinks, while in one corner, a group of women in heels and party attire checked in for the 75-minute flight to Sin City.

Nestled in an industrial area 55 miles south of Sacramento, Stockton#x2019;s once-neglected airport is seeing something of a resurgence and is developing a regional reputation as a hub for the budget-minded leisure traveler.

And that#x2019;s with just one airline and only a handful of flights a day.

Low-cost carrier Allegiant Air is the San Joaquin County-owned airport#x2019;s sole airline, operating semifrequent flights to Las Vegas, seasonal flights to Honolulu and, as of May, a route to Mesa, Ariz. With the slogan #x201C;Travel is our deal,#x201D; the airline caters to vacationers, offering a product that is cheap on price but with no frills.

Allegiant#x2019;s flights out of Stockton go as low as $37 for a one-way trip to Las Vegas. A flight to Honolulu can be had for $117.

#x201C;We#x2019;re very blessed to have Allegiant,#x201D; said airport Director Harry Mavrogenes. #x201C;They picked up five years ago when we had no (passenger) service.#x201D;

Until then, Stockton Metropolitan primarily catered to private planes after losing most of its major passenger service in the late 1980s, following deregulation of the airline industry.

Headquartered in Enterprise, Nev., near Las Vegas, Allegiant promises to fly you from point A to point B. But almost everything else will cost extra.

Using a credit card to book your reservation? That#x2019;s $4 per flight. Want to bring a carry-on bag? That#x2019;s $35. Checked baggage? That#x2019;s $50 per suitcase.

And flight attendants don#x2019;t offer free sodas or peanuts.

#x201C;You as the customer are empowered to pick and choose what things you want,#x201D; said Jessica Wheeler, an Allegiant spokeswoman. #x201C;We don#x2019;t lump the price of carrying your bag or giving you a soda into the price of your ticket, so we can offer that incredibly low fare.#x201D;

The airline typically focuses on small and regional airports that don#x2019;t charge high passenger fees or operating expenses. One example is Bellingham International Airport in Washington, just across the border from Vancouver, Canada. Wheeler said the airport attracts many Canadians who opt to drive over and fly to destinations in the United States because of Allegiant#x2019;s low fares.

#x201C;Going into the smaller airports, we#x2019;re not competing with other airlines directly,#x201D; Wheeler said, noting that Allegiant has competition on only 20 of its more than 250 routes.

Even with add-on fees, travelers interviewed at Stockton Metropolitan said Allegiant#x2019;s fares are still significantly cheaper than those offered at Sacramento International Airport.

Tait Panoke, 31, and Krystle Cogburn, 28, both of Sacramento, boarded a July 3 flight to Las Vegas for the Fourth of July holiday, paying a combined total of $418.98 round trip, including $66 in baggage fees. A comparable Southwest Airlines flight from Sacramento to Las Vegas would have cost around $350 per person round trip.

The Oak Park couple also showered praise on Stockton#x2019;s airport.

#x201C;It#x2019;s laid back and less busy than Sacramento (International Airport),#x201D; Panoke said.

The 1960s-era airport is located in an industrial and semirural area between Interstate 5 and Highway 99. Rolling into the airport is a breeze, with plenty of overnight parking available in front of the terminal for $10 a day, a rate that starts Tuesday. For day use, parking is free.

There are some drawbacks. Allegiant will periodically add or cancel flights based on demand, Wheeler said. Because of the infrequent flight schedule, don#x2019;t expect to easily hail a taxicab from the airport. And unlike the upscale dining options found at Sacramento International, Stockton Metropolitan has one sit-down restaurant with diner fare and a Subway sandwich shop under construction.

But those hindrances apparently aren#x2019;t deterring passengers. In 2013, Stockton Metropolitan served about 140,000 passengers, a 13.63 percent increase over the previous year, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. By comparison, Sacramento International had about 4.2 million passengers, a drop of 2.36 percent from 2012.

Sacramento International has become one of the more expensive airports in the country for carriers to do business, the result of a $1 billion Terminal B expansion in 2011. It now charges airlines an estimated $17 fee per passenger. Seven years ago, it charged airlines only $5.48 per passenger.

Stockton Metropolitan#x2019;s passenger fee is $1.39.

Sacramento County Director of Airports John Wheat brushed off suggestions that Stockton Metropolitan is a serious competitor to Sacramento International.

#x201C;What you usually see when Allegiant comes into the market, you#x2019;re not bleeding traffic away from anybody. You#x2019;re just stimulating the (local) market because the airfares are just so low,#x201D; Wheat said. #x201C;We have very little leakage out of our primary area going to other airports.#x201D;

Wheat called 2014 a #x201C;leveling-out year with a small growth component#x201D; for Sacramento International, noting that future passenger growth depends on the local economy.

For now, the Stockton airport#x2019;s bargain-basement fares are drawing people from beyond Sacramento. Software engineer Nitin Jindal, 31, of Sunnyvale drove almost two hours for a flight to Las Vegas with his parents, brother and wife.

#x201C;It was 50 percent cheaper than San Francisco International Airport,#x201D; Jindal said of the fares. #x201C;We would have taken a road trip (to Las Vegas) if the tickets weren#x2019;t so cheap.#x201D;

Of the drive from the Bay Area, Jindal added, #x201C;Seeing all the agriculture coming to Stockton was a pleasant surprise.#x201D;

The Ninman family #x2013; father, son and grandfather #x2013; drove more than 200 miles from Redding for the privilege of flying out of Stockton, at $605 for three people round trip.

#x201C;If you#x2019;re driving two hours to Sacramento, why not do an extra 45 minutes to Stockton to save some cash?#x201D; asked Gary Ninman Jr., while sipping a beer on a patio overlooking the tarmac.

For leisure travelers, ticket price is a big factor in choosing an airport.

#x201C;If (consumers) have a pretty good fare charged by Allegiant, that may tip the balance between driving to Stockton or staying in Sacramento,#x201D; said Jan Brueckner, an economics professor and airline industry expert at the University of California, Irvine.

Brueckner noted, however, that Stockton Metropolitan faces an uphill battle to expand beyond the occasional flights because of the sheer number of nearby airports, including Oakland International, Mineta San Jose International and San Francisco International.

#x201C;Airlines will go where there#x2019;s demand,#x201D; Brueckner said. #x201C;Demand is a function of the local economy plus proximity of nearby big airports. Proximity reduces the demand for local air services, and Stockton#x2019;s local economy hasn#x2019;t been so good.#x201D;

But that#x2019;s not stopping Mavrogenes, Stockton airport#x2019;s director, from dreaming big. He has plans to transform the sleepy terminal into a hub of domestic and international flights.

San Joaquin County officials are actively seeking additional low-cost or legacy carriers to join the airport, with hopes of adding flights to Mexico. A proposal to build a US customs facility #x2013; needed for international flights #x2013; is under discussion.

For now, Mavrogenes said, adding a flight to Los Angeles International Airport would be huge.

#x201C;If I can get LA or one of the major hubs,#x201D; he said, #x201C;our customers will be able to hook up from there to anywhere in the world.#x201D;

Call The Bee#x2019;s Richard Chang at (916) 321-1018. Follow him on Twitter @RichardYChang.

Read more articles by Richard Chang

Nominations now being accepted for Business Enterprise Awards (WITH …

July 20, 2014


Comments Off on Nominations now being accepted for Business Enterprise Awards (WITH …

Its time to nominate your favorite Saline area business for the coveted Business Enterprise Awards!

Each year, the Saline Area Chamber of Commerce honors two local Chamber Member businesses with the coveted 19th Annual Business Enterprise Awards. These awards represent the most prestigious mark of distinction given to any business in the Saline area market. There are two award categories: Small Business (20 or fewer employees) and Large Business (21 or more employees).

The awards recognize established, successful companies that have exhibited exemplary business practices. Service to the community as well as a commitment to the health and productivity of the Saline area are also essential attributes.

Nominations are open to the entire community. Nomination forms with selection criteria and a list of past recipients are available at the Saline Area Chamber of Commerce, Saline City Hall, Saline District Library, Saline Community Education and here. Nominations must be received at the Chamber office, 141 E. Michigan Ave., Suite B, by 5 pm on Friday, Sept. 5.

The two honorees for the 2014 Business Enterprise Awards will be announced on the Saline Chamber website and via media during the week of Sept. 15. Awards will be presented at the Business Enterprise Awards Gala on Thursday, Oct. 16, at Stonebridge Golf Club. This event is open to the entire community. Call the Chamber office at 429-4494 for further information.

Biz Awards 2014 Nomination Form

  • 1
  • See Full Story

Scheduling business calls days in advance should be banned

July 19, 2014


Comments Off on Scheduling business calls days in advance should be banned

The all-to familiar business ritual of setting up a phone call, where it takes a day-long series of emails and calendarchecks to even agree in a time, is theworst type of procrastination: the kind that makes you feel as ifyouve done something productive. Scheduled business calls should be eliminated entirely, the internet entrepreneur Philip Kaplan argues in a blog post.

Obsessing over schedulingserves to postpone callsthat should only takeminutes for days, wasting both peoples time, he says.And anyhow, it works on the outdated assumption that you need to be at your desk phone to make a call.

We agree that for most business interactions, scheduling calls is a waste of time. Business callsare better than emails only when theres a subject that requires discussion, clarification, and back and forth. Postponing that communication for a day only means that something wont get done until then.With smartphones, texting, and email, its far easier to communicateon the fly.

6 Rules to Live by When Starting a Subscription Business

July 18, 2014


Comments Off on 6 Rules to Live by When Starting a Subscription Business

Alex Zhardanovsky is an evangelist for subscription-based businesses, as he co-founded PetFlow.com, an online service that ships kibble and pet toys to consumers doors. Just three years after its debut, the company is expected to pull in $50 million in sales in 2014.

But as gung ho as he is, Zhardanovsky sees that this model isnt for everyone.

He dismissed an idea that someone pitched him recently for a subscription-based sock-of-the-month club, for instance, saying, How many pairs of socks does a guy really need? Once I get a few months’ worth, Ill cancel, and that’s not a good subscription model.

That said, Zhardanovsky and others in the marketing industry see broad and lasting potential in an emerging subscription economy that’s so far dominated by companies like Netflix, Birchbox, Amazon Prime, Dollar Shave Club and Spotify. Even retail behemoth Walmart has planted its flag, with a food-and-treats-based subscription service, and H. Bloom does big business by consistently decorating spas, hotels and office buildings with fresh flowers.

Business owner sues police over raid

July 16, 2014


Comments Off on Business owner sues police over raid


Upper Nazareth Township neighbor fighting automotive business, says vehicles …

July 15, 2014


Comments Off on Upper Nazareth Township neighbor fighting automotive business, says vehicles …

AnUpper Nazareth Township woman claims her neighbors auto repair business is getting out of hand.

Zoning laws limit Pat Mammana to working on 10 vehicles a day at the auto repair business out of his home at 3080 Newburg Road. He got a zoning variance 16 years ago to run the business, and the variance requires him to keep all customer vehicles stored inside at night.

Neighbor Terri Sayago claims more than a dozen vehicles are parked overnight on the lawn and driveway.

This is supposed to be a residential neighborhood, she said recently. Its not attractive to have all these vehicles parked on the lawn on a daily basis. It lowers the perception of the neighborhood.

Mammana says he complies with the law.

What Mrs. Sayago has to decipher are what are my personal vehicles, what are my customers vehicles and what are vehicles from people coming to visit me, Pat Mammana said.

His variance prohibits him from doing major repairs such as work on engines, transmissions or exhaust systems. The business is limited to state inspections and minor work such as brake replacements.

Mike Mammana, Pats son, said major work is done at a race shop he rents in the township, adding the home business is too small for major work.

Sayago told supervisors at a meeting earlier this month she suspects Mammana may be performing major work at the business. Mammana performs repairs on Upper Nazareth police vehicles.

Sayago worries oil runoff could affect the neighborhoods water supply. The variance prohibits Mammana from doing oil changes, radiator flushes or any painting.

Pat Mammana said if he needs to remove oil to work on a car, the used oil goes into a barrel, which is picked up by an Easton company periodically when its full.

We drink out of that (water supply), too, Mike Mammana said.

Sayago also objects to a Mammanas Automotive lawn sign that went up last month. Documents say Sayago is limited to just a state inspection sign.

Pat Mammana said the sign is allowed.

It is a portable sign, he said Its not a permanent sign.

Sayago said zoning officer John Soloe hasnt responded to emails and calls with complaints. He didnt say anything when she complained at the July 2 meeting.

Supervisors have asked Soloe to investigate the concerns and come back with a report at Wednesdays board meeting, according to supervisors Vice President Scott Sylvainus.

Supervisors will investigate if something is being done thats not supposed to be done, Sylvainus said. Then, corrective action will be taken.

This isnt the first time neighbors have complained about Mammanas business.

Followingresidential complaints about a charitable donation bin on Mammanas property,supervisors decided in October to ban outdoor bins for clothes, books, toys and nonperishable items in residential districts.

Mike Mammana said the business wants to be a good neighbor.

We dont want to bother anybody, he said. We dont want it to come to this.

Follow @pamholzmann

Social entrepreneurship in Detroit offers more than profit to business owners

July 15, 2014


Comments Off on Social entrepreneurship in Detroit offers more than profit to business owners

Editors Note: This story first appeared on Model D Media.

DETROIT, MI – In recent years, Detroit has been the setting of several prominent business success stories, from the growth of restaurants like Slows Bar-B-Q to the rise of high-end watch manufacturer Shinola. These profitable companies have contributed to and benefited from the Detroit revival narrative and we are all familiar with their stories.

But there is a growing number of Detroit business ventures concerned with more than simply making products and earning profits, and their success is equally as important to Detroits future as that of traditional businesses. Theyre called social enterprises, and their story deserves the same amount attention we give to traditional business development in the city.

Elizabeth Garlow, executive director of Michigan Corps, a nonprofit that fosters entrepreneurship throughout the state, defines social enterprises as companies that create financially sustainable, systems-changing solutions to social problems.

In other words, the primary concern for these entrepreneurs is not profit, but social impact. Frequently they see a problem first, then harness the efficiencies and innovative possibilities of capitalism to try and solve it.

By making profit of secondary importance, these entrepreneurs must accept returns that are lower than they would be were it not for their social mission. This is something to keep in mind when examining these companies bottom lines.

You cant look at traditional models of productivity because of the added cost, says Garlow.

The Empowerment Plan, a Detroit company based in Corktowns Ponyride, manufactures coats that double as sleeping bags, some of which are donated to homeless people. The company hires female employees living in shelters, then provides them with training and a no-strings $1,500 microloan. CEO Veronika Scott proudly proclaims a perfect track record of moving these women out of shelters within three months.

But that additional cost is significant. It can make investors impatient and sustainability a struggle.

Two years ago, Fresh Corner Cafe, a Detroit company based in the Green Garage that makes healthy, affordable wraps and salads and sells them in places where access to fresh food is limited, was experiencing financial difficulties when sales from corner stores and gas stations alone could not sustain the business.

That felt like a defeat, says Fresh Corner co-owner Noam Kimmelman. [But after examining the numbers,] I realized it was costing us just 25 cents per unit of salad that we added to each store. Show me one nonprofit vendor in the world thats delivering salads for 25 cents per person. When you look at it that way, its a success.

Amy Peterson, co-founder of Rebel Nell, a Detroit company that employs women hired from shelters to make graffiti-inspired jewelry, echoes Kimmelmans sentiment.

The profits for a social enterprise wont seem as significant if you measure the financial returns only, but the returns from a social aspect are huge, she says.

Garlow describes social entrepreneurs as having to maintain a bifurcated identity. Whereas strictly for-profit companies have to answer exclusively to investors and customers, social enterprises also have to consider their communities and social beneficiaries.

If the goal was to make money, I would have chosen a different route, says Kimmelman. Owning a business is not the easiest life. Its rewarding, but it would be less rewarding if the only rewards were profit.

Peterson mentions another cost of social entrepreneurship not commonly discussed: the emotional connection.

Its one thing to let myself down, but now I have these women that have become family and Ill be damned if I let them down. Theyve been let down so many times already…It adds a layer of pressure.

A personal story is often the origin of a social entrepreneurs passion. For Veronika Scott, she realized that she was providing the opportunity she wished her own mother had received.

The daughter of two unemployed parents, Scott grew up poor.

[This business] ties directly into my life, she says. Growing up when your parents are at rock bottom — during the worst point in other peoples lives — is a difficult place to be. Poverty has an effect outside lack of money and food. It has an effect on the mind. I grew up being treated as an extension of my parents, as if I was already worthless and a drain on society right out of the gate.

One of the Empowerment Plans main goals is to liberate the women who work there from low self-esteem.

When Scott hires someone from the shelter, she tells them with confidence, This is your opportunity for a clean slate. I will not judge you for what you have been through. I will not hold that against you in this employment. What you do here is all that matters.

Social enterprises often require financial support as they work towards sustainability, but in Detroit, where old solutions have cured few of the citys social ails, social entrepreneurs are finding benefactors.

Theres a new open-mindedness to working across sectors, between government, businesses, philanthropies, and nonprofits, says Garlow.

I wouldnt have been able to start the Empowerment Plan anywhere else but Detroit, says Scott.

Think what you will of these larger entities, she says, referring to multi-billion dollar companies like General Motors and Quicken Loans, but a company of that size anywhere else in the US would not pay attention to a tiny startup of two people that were working out of a closet making 25 coats in an entire season.

She says her company stayed afloat during lean times thanks in large part to corporate sponsorship.

I think every company here, no matter what size, recognizes the need to support everyone to make the city better…One major company cant be responsible for everything. They cant feed the city or provide other kinds of necessities for their employees and customers.

Thanks to that support, the Empowerment Plan will soon have a staff of 25 and expects to produce 6,000-10,000 coats in 2014.

The Michigan Model

On June 20 at the Max M. Fisher Music Center in Midtown Detroit, Michigan Corps celebrated the conclusion of its second annual Michigan Social Entrepreneurship Challenge (MSEC), which provides visibility and resources to our states most promising [social] entrepreneurs.

Following a series of panel discussions, a number of prizes were awarded to enterprises that demonstrated the ability to fulfill social needs and the potential to become financially sustainable. Prizes ranged from $5,000 cash awards to fellowship training to consulting and legal services.

At the end of the four-month fellowship program, in which businesses receive advising on their business plans and much more, entrepreneurs are given the opportunity to pitch directly to investors. Last year, the eight businesses that went through the program secured a total of $1.5 million in additional investment.

Part of this success, says Garlow, is due to a focus on investor education. Michigan Corps takes the unique step of interviewing investors in order to find and cultivate those who are sensitive to the risks inherent in social entrepreneurship.

Garlow hopes that the event, the nations first statewide entrepreneurial competition, can serve as a prototype for other communities.

With this model, you can highlight particular regional problems and crowdsource a solution, she says.

A group of colleges in Orange County, Calif. is organizing a similar event later this year to address their own set of unique problems. Theyre referring to it as the Michigan Model.

When Scott began showing a prototype of her coat to homeless people, a woman approached her and said that they needed jobs, not coats. Scott made a realization.

Whether you give someone a small sum of money or a coat, it has a very limited window of effect, she says. [When the Empowerment Plan grows] Ill be able to hire more and inherently affect more people.

Though the coats she produces are useful, Scott notes that they are inessential to the core of her business — the Empowerment Plan could produce something different so long as it maintained its sustainability and capacity to hire the homeless.

Kimmelman says one of the most important things Fresh Corner Cafe can do is be an example.

Growing this business is an opportunity to create best practice, says Kimmelman. Thats the greatest effect a social enterprise can have.

The effect of the Michigan Model is already being felt here. Perhaps soon, Detroits greatest export wont be cars, but social entrepreneurship.

Aaron Mondry is a Detroit-based writer and improv comedian.

All photos by Marvin Shaouni.

Federal fund sparks Alabama business growth

July 13, 2014


Comments Off on Federal fund sparks Alabama business growth

Business is cooking at Casa Napoli a year after the owners of the restaurant took out a loan to expand.

They used the money to buy a bigger building a few miles away. Since then, profits have more than doubled and theyve hired more people.

Oh, gosh, no — without the loan, we wouldnt have been able to move, co-owner Charlene Finkelstein said. We outgrew the old building, and the loan made it all possible.

A federal loan program has paid off for many of the states small businesses, including the Wetumpka eatery.

Alabama got $31,301,498 in federal funds in 2011 to help pave the way for more small business loans. That was the eighth highest total among all states, partly because of the level of poverty here.

The money is used not for the actual loans, but to guarantee up to 50 percent of a total loan amount in case of default. That makes it easier for banks to say yes to more small businesses.

Once the business owner pays back the loan, the money rolls back into the pool to be used to guarantee other Alabama loans.

That fund, called the State Small Business Credit Initiative, has been in demand here. In less than three years, the state has allocated $28.8 million from the fund to back 112 Alabama loans. Thats the seventh most in the nation.

The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs administers the money, partnering with banks on individual loans.

Small businesses are a vital part of Alabamas economy, ADECA Director Jim Byard Jr. said. Through a public-private partnership, our credit initiative is providing business owners with the capital they need to grow and prosper.

The average Alabama SSBCI loan is about $594,000, according to the Treasury Department.

The fund was created as part of the Small Business Jobs Act in 2010 and has deployed more than $1 billion nationwide since then.

President Barack Obama has proposed an extension of the program in his 2015 budget with another $1.5 billion in funding.

Since the money doesnt return to the federal level after loans are repaid, the SSBCI pool is expected to keep growing. To date, states have reported recycling more than $14.7 million.

LeBron return a business slam dunk

July 12, 2014


Comments Off on LeBron return a business slam dunk

On the lowest end, I see him bringing $75 million to the city for every year hes back, he said.

Symon said his high-end business didnt drop dramatically when LeBron left in summer 2010, but he said there were some nights that saw more empty tables. When LeBron was here, our tables would be full on a Monday or Tuesday night before a game, Symon said. When he left, it would be about three-quarters full on those days of the week.

Mark Klang, whose Amazing Tickets is the largest ticket brokerage in town, said the return of The King will be bigger than when he left. Ticket prices will be more than when LeBron was last here, Klang said.

When James was here, the Cavaliers allowed entrepreneurs to buy seats and sell them to cash in on the demand in the secondary market that James brought. But once he left and people gave up their tickets, the Cavs closed off out-of-town ticket brokers and insisted on fans calling to get their season tickets instead of buying online.

Fewer people have the amount of tickets they had before, and more people who have tickets now will go to the games, Klang said.

Despite the blue-collar nature of Cleveland, Klang said that theres plenty of room for ticket prices to soar.

People were spending more money on the Cavaliers in 2009 and 2010 than I ever imagined, and thats when the economy was beating us down, Klang said. Opening night will be near NBA Finals prices.

And, at least one important business metric is looking up. Ohios unemployment rate was 5.5 percent in May, its lowest rate since April 2007.

But sports economist Victor Matheson cautions about making overzealous projections based on LeBrons return, outside of Cavaliers owner Dan Gilberts wallet growing.

Theres no doubt that the Cavaliers will benefit and that restaurants and sports bars around town will benefit, said Matheson, who is an economics professor at The College of the Holy Cross. But a lot of those dollars arent new dollars. Theyre just being shifted back from where people went after LeBron left.

  • Email
  • Subscribe
  • Print

10 business books for your summer reading list

July 12, 2014


Comments Off on 10 business books for your summer reading list

Planning on doing some summer reading? Throw one of these books into your beach tote at the suggestion of the experts at the University of Marylands Robert H. Smith School of Business. These reads are meant to help you get ahead in your career, better manage teams, sharpen your leadership skills, or just learn something new.

The Art of Choosing

Sheena Iyengar (2010)

Continue reading below