The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on October 27, 1996 · Page 21
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 21

Salina, Kansas
Issue Date:
Sunday, October 27, 1996
Page 21
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SUNDAY OCTOBER 27, 1996 THE SALINA JOURNAL Money CLASSIFIED / INSIDE c V MANUFACTURING Divisions split off in Great Plains Land Pride division builds equipment for landscaping projects By ALF ABUHAJLEH The Salina fournal Roy Applequist, owner and president of Great Plains Manufacturing at 1525 E. North, has seen the company's revenue grow from $9 million to more than $100 million in the past decade. Great Plains Manufacturing, a maker of grain drills, planters and landscaping equipment, has attained success in the agriculture implement industry by adhering to a simple motto: build a quality product and people will buy it. "We don't strive to become a full-line producer like John Deere, which makes a wide range of products," Applequist said, -referring to the Illinois-based agriculture equipment manufacturer. "We make sojtne products, and we make them really well. That's how we have got this far." Cashing in on his business philosophy, Applequist split up the company's two largest manufacturing divisions in July. Great Plains and Land Pride now operate as two separate business branches with their own staffs of workers and engineers. The spinoff will help the two branches focus closer on its market segments, Applequist said. Ken King, president of Land Pride, said it was necessary to go through with the spinoff because of the differences in the two branches' production lines. Great Plains makes no-till grain drills, pjanters and crop sprayers at the company's two Salina plants and a plant in Lucas. The primary buyers of Great Plains' products-are thpse who farm 500 acres or more. Land Pride, however, builds landscaping equipment and lighter agriculture products, including rotary cutters, rotary tillers and grooming mowers at plants in Abilene, Lucas and Kipp. It targets building contractors and ^golf courses. "We cater to a completely different market than Great Plains," King said. "This has allowed us to ^better concentrate on a certain -type of customer base and a certain market segment." Roger Rochel, president of Great Plains, said the spinoff also makes the two divisions more effective in their product-development research as well as in their production process. Both branches will be able to cut costs and generate higher profits over the next three or four years, he said. "Working in smaller teams always leads to higher efficiency and lower costs," Rochel said. "There is a closer contact between workers and engineers that eliminates some of the problems larger companies have to go through." Land Pride's landscaping products were added to the production line in 1986, and the division has yet to become a dominant player in the $500 million landscaping industry. Last year, Land Pride re; ported revenues of about $30 million, based on sales in 1,700 dealerships. Great Plains, the company's rflagship, boasts a 30 percent share of the $175 million grain drill market. See PLAINS, Page C2 -Airfare comparison Destination From Salina From Wichita Chlcago-O'Hare 214 206 ItewYoiHsewrfto 258 2J5 St. Louis 276 298 JMHNnttnMllml . ,332 :: 819 Pittsburgh 314 494 l^sAnoelM ; 210 393 All fares are USAIr and show the cheapest prices If tickets are bought three weeks In advance. Fares from Kansas Cjjy to these cities are $40 less than fares from Salina. •'A/"*"*V»,, Destinations ^ are the most , popular ones lor Salmans flying USAIr. Source: USAIr Journal Graphic AT THE WATERCOOLER Your crystal PC Number crunchers are turning into soothsayers as accountants add business planning to their job descriptions. Accountants are taking more of a strategic role, according to Robert Half International, an employment firm. Accountants have a more important place in their companies than they did five years ago. A more humane approach In coming years, compassion will be as important — or more important — for executives as competitiveness, intelligence and aggressiveness. Surveyed executives told Cornell University that they believe companies must consider social issues such as work-family, diversity, equal rights and the environment. Insuring against disaster One of the worst setbacks to befall a small company is when one of its biggest clients leaves and takes its business elsewhere. Black Enterprise magazine sug- ests a company build a diverse client base and be sure their cash flow remains strong so they're not crippled when a big account leaves. Working at nothing In cutting-edge workplaces, staffers receive time off to recharge creative juices By JULIE AMPARANO The Arizona Republic PHOENIX—The next time the boss asks what you're working on, try this response: "Nothing." Managers on the cutting edge of workplace trends won't laugh. They'll congratulate you for taking the time to revitalize those creative juices. v "We have so much day-to-day nitty-gritty that it's very hard to sit and ponder and come up with something new and innovative," explains Jerry Eisen, president of the Human Resource Center, a consultant and training firm in Phoenix. "People need a day to think and reflect and recharge. Without it, we'll become a zombie. Some people already have become zombies." Across the country, personnel gurus are advising companies to get their workers off the job treadmill and give them a quiet day to do absolutely nothing but think. That's because job creativity in corporate corridors is being sapped by the fast pace of work. Today's lean-and-mean work style, created by years of downsizing, has people juggling tasks that at one time were handled by many, according to the Conference Board in New York. Technology also has added to the velocity. At one time, Federal Express was the fastest medium around, getting documents p"oint-to-point in 24 hours. Today, with fax machines and electronic mail, companies expect responses almost immediately. Every item appears to be a priority and there never seems to be a spare moment. Put it all together and workers are feeling too overwhelmed to be creative. In a recent survey, the American Management Association found that 68 percent of the respondents said they feel "somewhat more overwhelmed" at work today than "People know it's part of their job to take an afternoon off to think a problem through. It keeps us creative." Jodi Hobbs Microsoft marketing specialist two years ago. The survey also found that people believe their top workplace frustration is having "more tasks and responsibilities than time to do them." But while company executives and consultants believe a think day is what employees need to recharge, some workers question whether it is just another management fad, wondering how the work will get done in their absence. "Executives in the ivory tower don't realize how thinly we're spread. What we really need to be creative is help," complains one Bank One manager who spoke on condition of anonymity. "If I take a day off to think, I'm going to have twice as much to do when I get back. Or it means, someone is going to have to take on my work." Releasing workers from the day-to-day grind is a challenge, acknowledges Eisen, the Human Resource Center president. He suggests that companies should try to "comingle think time into the daily workload." For instance, a worker might set aside an hour or two each day for thinking. Another option, he says, is to periodically give workers a day to strictly think. "It's something that is very hard for companies to do. But it's essential," Eisen says. "This really opens the mind and keeps us thinking creatively." A few companies, such as Mi- crosoft Corp. and 3M, have established think days. At Microsoft, supervisors are taught to manage workers' think time, to encourage them to slow down and get out of the office. "People at our company know it's part of their job to take an afternoon off to think a problem through. We encourage them to step back and relax and think," explains Jodi Hobbs, a Mi- crosoft marketing specialist in Phoenix. "It's part of our culture and it keeps us creative." Hobbs' favorite mechanism to revitalize is hiking Camelback Mountain. "I get out of the office environment. Chill out a bit," Hobbs says. "Being able to do this gives a person a new perspective." At Microsoft's corporate headquarters in Redmond, RICHAE MORROWmie Salina Journal Wash., the company has built a baseball diamond and basketball and volleyball courts so workers can get away from the job and clear the mind. Microsoft managers encourage their workers to take a day off to explore the Internet or read a book to inspire their work. On those days, the company prohibits workers from taking laptops home. V STAYING AHEAD More will do their shopping, investing on-line Access and security might not be problems for long in transactions on Internet NEW YORK — If you own a computer, odds are you don't use it for financial transactions. Only a tiny fraction of us are shopping, investing or banking on line. What transactions there are tend to be over private lines rather than over the Internet. All that is going to change, and sooner rather than later. The Net supported an estimated $200 million in commerce last year. Five years from now, that's going to look like pocket change. Already, there's a bank that exists entirely on line: Security First Network Bank ( — and it offers attractively • high rates on certificates of deposit. Two problems held Net commerce back: access and security. Both are being solved. The World Wide Web created access, by organizing vendors into storefronts with JANE BRYANT QUINN The Washington Post addresses. To locate a product or service, you go through a Web "browser," such as Netscape Navigator or Microsoft Internet Explorer. They've made it possible to have electronic Yellow Pages. You can ask for "bookstores" and get a description of 500 sites, along with their Internet addresses. Security is the scary part. When you type in your credit-card number, is someone waiting to grab it? We've all read headline stories about computer-network theft. There was the hacker in Russia whose gang lifted $400,000 from Citibank. And the kids in Long-Island, N.Y., who stole some credit-card numbers and went on a $100,000 shopping spree. Don't let these incidents put you off. When prudently used, the Net today is safe enough. Citibank made its customers whole, as it would after any heist. You're at greater risk when you hand your credit card to a waiter than when you use it to shop by computer, provided that your electronic business is handled entirely in code. How do you know if you're transacting business in code? If you're using Netscape Navigator, look for a picture of a key in the lower corner of your screen. Unsecure connections display a broken key; secure connections, a whole one. With Internet Explorer, a lock pops up when the line is safe. No security expert I consulted would do a credit-card transaction over an open line. But they all did point out that you're liable for only $50 in unauthorized charges if your card number is grabbed. But even if you do business on an encrypted line, how secure is it, really? This is two questions, not one. How impenetrable is the code, and how do you know that the business you called is a real business, not a teen-age hacker ring? Security experts say that, at present, encryption is looking pretty strong. Some codes seem almost unbreakable. Others aren't worth the time and cost that deciphering them would take — at least, not for ordinary transactions. Even with strong codes, however, a vendor can carelessly violate its own security system. "We're just waiting for the massive fraud that takes down a brokerage house or Internet company," says security expert Peter G. Neumann of SRI International in Menlo Park, Calif. Fortunately, bank and brokerage accounts offer other layers of protection. Your losses may be reimbursed by federal deposit insurance or the Securities Investor Protection Corp. To try to give people confidence in who's at the other end of the wire, the Net has developed what it calls "certification." A trusted firm certifies that Security First Network Bank is indeed the bank, and issues it an on-line ID. If the certifier errs, it may be liable for any money you lose. Netscape users can find a firm's certificate by clicking on the little picture of the key. Internet Explorers should search "File." In the future, you may have to get your own certified ID. 1 Even more security is in the works. In about six months, you'll start seeing transactions protected by a new system called SET. It lets you charge things to a credit card without showing anyone the number. That should foil today's on-line "sniffers" that steal card numbers electronically. Your number also will be hidden from dishonest merchants or employees. Then there's S/MIME, coming up by the end of the year. S/MIME lets customers send encrypted e-mail (orders, letters, invoices) that reproduce in a standard way on any machine. That should give Internet commerce an enormous boost, predicts Mack Hicks, a specialist in information security for the Bank of America. The weakest point in the Net today isn't the infrastructure, it's you. World-class encryption won't help the klutzes who post their passwords on their computers or leave the workplace without logging off.^ SUGGESTIONS? CALL MARY JO PROCHAZKA, MONEY EDITOR, AT (913) 823-6363 OR 1-800-827-6363

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