Lincoln Journal Star from Lincoln, Nebraska on August 18, 1996 · 39
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Lincoln Journal Star from Lincoln, Nebraska · 39

Lincoln, Nebraska
Issue Date:
Sunday, August 18, 1996
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, . - . . i - - " - - " 'IiHKwhhC xzZmMWI : fc&sVidZMM Lincoln Journal Star Sunday, August 18, 1996 TThe chips are down: Weaver hopes buyout can save firm from bankruptcy BYEORUSSO Uncoki Journal Star r Airport has major news in hangar Look for some noise to come from the Lincoln Municipal Airport this week. And we aren't referring to the roar of jet engines. Jacob North Printing Co. is expected to announce details of a consolidation and expansion plan that will see its plant at 2615 O St move to the Lincoln Air Park industrial area. Last month, Jacob North acquired controlling interest in Nebraska Litho Co. The merger called for the buyer to move into the company's space, leased from the Lincoln Airport Authority. Jacob North President David Calhoun described the project as a "major expansion." The other announcement will be of a new company coming to town. Airport Director Wayne Andersen didn't want to give too much away before the contract was finished and presented to the Airport Authority Board, but he said it will lead to new jobs for local residents. He praised the efforts of state, city and airport officials as well as the Lincoln Partnership for Economic Development, for helping land the new company. "It's an excellent example of the government sector working with private enterprise," he said in his normally enthusiastic way. Stuart property sold The ground-level part of University Towers that houses the Stuart Theatre and Barrymore's has been sold to Demetrios Meares and Kimbe Ross. Meares and Ross, who own Yiayia's Pizza at 1423 0 St., bought their new property from venerable Lincoln developer Larry Price for about $285,000. Meares said he had no immediate plans to do anything different with the space or the two tenants, one of which is Douglas Theatre Co. Price, who bought the Stuart " Building at 13th and P streets in 1985 and converted the upper floors into condominiums, still owns the space used by the Captain's Chair and Ruby Begonia's and a residential condo. Price is selling the University Club space to members on contract, meaning they will get the deed when it's paid. He said Meares and Ross are young and have time to see what might work in place of the theater, if it ever closes. The new owners have indicated that they want to restore the space to the way it once looked, Price said. "I would have liked to develop the (Stuart Theatre) space myself," he said. "That would have been quite a challenge." Bar owner pleased Downtown bars and restaurants have responded admirably by jumping off the birthday bar crawl bandwagon. Thirty-seven agreed not to participate in the tradition of giving free drinks to customers on their birthdays, many of whom would visit bar after bar and get progressively plastered. The decision took effect Thursday, and Iguana's co-owner Becky Smith said she has already seen a drop in the number of drunken customers who try to patronize her establishment Before the change was announced, Smith worried that young people bent on free drinks would get upset when told they were no longer available. "The word has gotten out, and people seem to understand why it's being done," she said. About three bars balked at doing away with the giveaway, but Smith said she didn't know which ones they were. She was pleased that 37 agreed to do so. "It will be much easier for us to do it as a group," she said. Guide to the Net? Does anyone else find the debut of Internet World and other similar magazines interesting and a little ironic? The Internet, according to some, was supposed to revolutionize communication, be the end-all for Information, and threaten conventional publications like magazines. Now we need magazines to help explain the darn thing. ww I C; ; i , Wm, A j'- -r - -.- I Ed Weaver Jr. is seeking a buyer for his potato chip company, a move that he hopes will rescue the 64-year-old firm from Chapter 11 bankruptcy. IAN DOREMUSAjncoln Journal Star Ed Weaver Jr., whose parents launched Weaver Potato Chip Co. in 1932, hopes that a buyout will save the company from bankruptcy. Weaver is talking with two potential buyers, both of them snack food firms from other states. He declined to name them, but he said that one does not make potato chips and is twice or three times larger than his company. "We could take their products into places where we are, and they could take our products into places where they are," Weaver said. "It could be good for both of us." Representatives from that potential buyer were in town late last week examining Weaver's books and touring the 53,000-square-foot manufacturing plant at 1600 Center Park Road in Lincoln Industrial Park. Weaver said the Chapter 11 reorganization should help keep the company afloat by allowing him to pay suppliers and other day-to-day bills until a repayment plan for the company's creditors is approved. "We really need cash to help us keep going," he said. The company can make payroll for its 90 employees, "but it's tight," Weaver said. "We are living on what's coming in from our customers. We don't have any reserve at all." Under Chapter 11, a creditors' committee is formed and submits a plan to a bankruptcy judge, showing how the company can succeed if allowed more time to pay its debts. But, Weaver said, the real long-term solution for employees is to find a new buyer for the company. "I think the odds are in favor of it happening, largely because the whole thing makes sense for everybody involved," he said. Intense industry competition requires large amounts of money to develop new snacks and to make products for other companies under private label contracts. Weaver said his company does not have that kind of money. But a larger company could find Weaver Potato Chip attractive because the plant can make more chips and other snacks without adding new machinery. The plant now makes 30,000 pounds of potato chips a day. "We could double our output by adding just a few more people," Weaver said. "We're sitting here at half throttle." More on WEAVER, Page 5E Airlines raise bar for frequent fliers CHICAGO (AP) - Flying for free comes at a price nowadays. Airlines, saddled with hundreds of millions of dollars in potential liability from burgeoning frequent flier programs, are adding new fees and restrictions that make it harder for customers to claim some of the 2 trillion miles outstanding. Airline officials say they are making the changes to match the rules that apply to paying passengers. But critics say such moves defeat the purpose of frequent flier programs. "There has to be some element of recognizing 'Hey, you're a valued customer to us,' " said Randy Peterson, editor of Insid-eFlyer magazine. "Frequent flier programs were meant to build loyalty to a particular airline. I have a problem with once you've earned the miles, they don't -know you anymore." Fees have become increasingly com mon when trying to arrange "free" flights, Peterson said. He estimated that 30 percent of the 13 million frequent flier awards given out last year had some charge attached. The nation's airlines have become more strict about enforcing rules and restrictions because it's much easier to obtain free flights nowadays without ever leaving the ground. . Agreements with an array of businesses give customers miles when they make purchases. Credit-card issuers, telephone companies, even a car wash, now offer frequent flier points to customers. American Airlines and other airlines say they are seeing rising costs to service frequent flier accounts. Beginning Sept. 1, American will follow an industry trend by increasing the charge to customers who cancel frequent-flier trips and want the miles returned to their accounts. Like United and TWA, American will raise the charge to $50, up $10. Delta and Northwest charge $35 ; USAir, $40. American Airlines spokesman Bill Dreslin said such charges cover the costs of such tasks and help discourage cancellations. Other airline charges include penalties for changing an itinerary (up to $50) or not booking well in advance (up to 15,000 miles for failing to book three weeks ahead). Most airlines also limit the number of frequent flier seats on a given airplane and restrict free travel on certain dates during the year usually heavy travel periods. All of the major carriers last year raised to 25,000 miles from 20,000 the number needed to get a coach ticket. Despite those restrictions, 8.2 percent of United seats in 1995 last year went to frequent fliers, down only 0.9 percent from a year earlier, said spokesman Joe Hopkins. Professor cracks down on corporate prose BY JOHN HENDREN Associated Press BALTIMORE They say "who" when they mean "whom." They use nouns as verbs. They speak in mind-boggling bu-reaucratese. And, forgive them, they split infinitives.' For bankers, lawyers, doctors and other professionals, an English degree is not a prerequisite. And the linguistic misdemeanors they commit routinely in the name of corporate communication so offended Baltimore writer and English professor Lynne Agress that she began a new career as a workplace wordsmith. For 15 years, the founder of BWB Business Writing At Its Best Inc. has rooted out muddled correspondence in personnel departments and corporate boardrooms. For fees starting at $5,500 plus expenses, her company holds seminars to teach lucid prose to the communication challenged. "The thing that I find stunning and my teachers find this every day is that we have people with degrees from Harvard Law School and other fine schools who make a lot of mistakes in grammar, who are totally incapable of organizing a brief letter," she said. The Baltimore-based firm asks professionals to send in their latest memo, letter or annual report. Then she and five other English professors show them how to cut out the jargon, bad grammar, inappropriate diction and sometimes Dickensian sur- - - A- 7 ASSOCIATED PRESS A Lynn Agress has made a career of rooting muddled correspondence from boardrooms across the country. plus of words. One executive hacked out this tortuous sentence: "Expansive communication is fundamental to successful resolution of these intrinsic conflicts and to the optimization of resource allocation for the emerging department in an increasingly competitive environment." Translation: Communication in this department is essential. Agress believes everyone achieves more by communicating better. "If an academic physician cannot communicate his discovery, what good is it? If a brilliant lawyer cannot write the kinds of briefs that are going to help his clients and persuade judges, he's not going to be that successful," she said. There are trends in turgidity, Agress said. Engineers use jargon, bankers and middle managers misuse words. As for doctors, the problem is "prose in general." "You get into the habit of writing things in such shorthand," said Brian Browne, a physician and head of emergency medicine at the University of Maryland in Baltimore, who joined his staff at a BWB course. "Sometimes the clarity of communication doesn't come across." Among the worst offenders are lawyers, who tend to write wordy, labyrinthine sentences in the passive voice with nouns capitalized at random, Agress said. When a client asked a London barrister how a law would affect his company, the lawyer offered this less-than-helpful response: "However sadly therefore we cannot really at this stage come to any firm helpful More on GRAMMAR, Page 4E Worker ideas taken seriously at parts factory BY ROBERT L ROSE Wan Street Journal Jason Moncer has earned a nickname at a Johnson Controls Inc. auto-parts factory in Georgetown, Ky. Co-workers call him Mr. Kaizen, a reference to the Japanese word for continuous improvement. In June alone, Moncer came up with 30 suggestions for improving the plant "I go on sprees," said the 21-year-old, whose latest ideas involve better ways to organize the metal seat components in his work area before he and others insert them into the foam used to make car seats. In factories across the country, workers are . suggesting ways to make their companies more efficient But nowhere is the art practiced better v I than at Johnson Control's FoaMech factory, a key " supplier to Toyota Motor Corp.'s auto-assembly plant in Georgetown. Of 631 employee suggestions last year, the company found 221 good enough to ! implement. It says that each of the 230 workers provided at least one suggestion, either individually or as part of a team. By saving money for the company, workers improve their collective chances of getting bonuses at the same time they work toward individual awards. Moncer, for example, is saving up "FoaMech Bucks" to get a large-screen TV. Many ideas are duds. Among the nonstarters : a proposal to improve the plant's layout by moving an entire assembly line a few feet and a costly plan to recycle aluminum cans. But other ideas show that big savings can be achieved when workers are encouraged to use their common sense to improve their workplace. Here are a few ideas from the FoaMech factory: Keeping score Maintenance specialist Russ Harrod used to spend much of his time trying to figure out which factory machines needed to be repaired. Meanwhile, Kim Darnell, a team leader who oversees machine operators, spent much of her time trying to find Harrod. "I'd yell at the top of my lungs," Darnell said. In a factory full of machine tools that cut and bend metal, it was a futile effort. ; When yelling failed, Darnell would hunt for Harrod. "She could be coming this way, and I'd be going that way," Harrod said. "We had to come up with something" to solve the problem. More on SUGGESTIONS, Page 4E Bankers pleased with 'smart card' test at Olympics Tr te(i4T TvU..! .-.V VH'i- ' f iii ' ii ii , , - .S : 3 ASSOCIATED PRESS A The $50 version of NationsBank's Visa 'smart card' passed its first test at the Olympics in Atlanta. .... ATLANTA (AP) - Kerri Strug's vault and Carl Lewis' jump? Not bad for Olympic moments. For bankers, though, the real thrill at the Atlanta Games was seeing fans paying for hot dogs and frozen lemonade with newfangled pieces of plastic called "smart cards." The bank industry has been promoting the cards, which store dollars on a chip and electronically deduct them for purchases, as a convenient alternative to cash for small purchases. Three major regional banks, as well as Visa, used the Atlanta Olympics as the first large test market for the cards. Although final figures have not been released, the companies all say the response convinced them that Smart cards have a future. Visa, for one, plans another major test later this year In New York. Even the most enthusiastic proponents, however, acknowledge that V it will take considerable time for smart cards to achieve broad acceptance. "We're not disappointed. We're not jumping up and down, either," said Nancy Poe, vice president for electronic banking at Winston-Salem, N.C.-based Wachovia Corp. "The numbers were OK." Bank officials say credit cards and ATM cards also took years to find their place in the country's wallets. "There will be a long-term program in terms of people accepting the product, and this was one way to gauge their reaction," said Scott Scredon, a spokesman for Charlotte, N.C.-based NationsBank Corp., which as an Olympic sponsor had exclusive rights to sell the cards inside competition venues. The banks, which also included Charlotte-based First Union Corp., went to great lengths to make sure people knew about the cards, adver- tising them heavily months before the games began. About 83,000 spectators at the opening ceremony each found a complimentary $5 card from NationsBank waiting at their seats. Smart card dispensers were at most Olympic venues. The message didn't get through to everyone. "They would be terrible for me," said Myla Bennett of Watkinsvllle, Ga., who attended Olympic basketball and volleyball events but did not use a smart card. "If I had another card to keep up with, I'd go insane. I learned a long time ago the best way for me is to keep cash." Merchants equipped with smart card terminals reported modest ac tivity during the games. Marty Craig, manager of a Chlck-fil-A restaurant within walking dis-t tance from three downtown Atlanta Olympic venues as well as Centenni- More on CARDS, Page 5E X

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