Originally created 07/21/02

Pocket change



NOTE TO READERS

Top salespeople

The Augusta Chronicle is looking for a few good salespeople.

The Chronicle wants to do a story on what it takes to become a top sales representative. Business owners and managers, let us know about your top salesperson and what makes them so successful.

Customers, tell us about someone who charmed your socks off when you were out window shopping. Be it insurance, cars, stereos or houses - anything - we want to hear about it. Call John Bankston at the business desk, 823-3352, or e-mail him at john.banks@augustachronicle.com.

EMPLOYER SPOTLIGHT

TTX Co. Hamburg Division

LOCATION: 1 Hamburg Road, North Augusta

PRODUCTS: Refurbished railway cars

EMPLOYEES: 280 (approximate)

HISTORY: TTX was incorporated in 1955 as Trailer Train Co., and began operating the next year with a fleet of 500 rail cars. It opened its North Augusta repair center, one of three nationwide, in 1974.

TTX, owned by U.S. and Canadian railroads, has a fleet of 129,000 cars that it leases to rail companies, who prefer to rent rather than own because the cars are often switched and traded along the tracks.

BIZ BITES

Phones are needed

Given the choice between losing mobile-phone service or land lines, a majority of small- and home-based businesses would rather forego wireless connectivity than regular telephone service, a new survey finds.

In the survey of 591 small businesses (those with 20 employees or less) across the United States, 67 percent said the most damaging loss to their operations would be the disruption of landline phone service. That compares to just 17 percent who bemoaned having to experience spotty cell-phone coverage, according to NFO InCom, which conducted the poll.

A loss of e-mail service and crashed Web sites were respectively the third- and fourth-worst communications disasters cited by the respondents.

Car man honored

Of the thousands of fans of Nissan Motor Co.'s Z sports car, no one is more excited than Yutaka Katayama. For years, he was known as the "father of the Z."

Affectionately known to American Z fans as "Mr. K," Mr. Katayama is among just a handful of Japanese, including Soichiro Honda and Eiji Toyota, to be honored alongside Henry Ford and Lee Iacocca in the Automotive Hall of Fame near Detroit.

The early signs for the new 350Z are encouraging; Nissan has received 8,000 orders for the new Z in the United States. The Z, whose price starts at $26,269, has a more muscular body than previous models.

Effective e-commerce

People who buy over the Internet aren't getting enough assurances from Web-site operators that shoppers' privacy is being protected, according to a study by researchers at the University of Buffalo School of Management in Buffalo, N.Y.

As a result, some companies might be losing customers who are worried about Internet fraud, theft of credit-card information or about a company's ability to follow through on its promises, said H.R. Rao, a study co-author. The study appears in the June Issue of IEEE IT Professional.

The study reviewed the Web sites of 100 Fortune 1,000 companies, of which 72 had Web sites that allowed consumers to buy products online.

But fewer than half had posted assurance seals of approval, which meant the company hired a neutral third party - like WebTrust, TRUSTe or the Better Business Bureau Online - to certify that their sites safeguarded shoppers' personal data, used truthful marketing and placed orders in a timely manner.

CEOs are quick to blame peers

Chief executive officers aren't afraid to say who should bear the blame for the recent spate of accounting scandals: their peers.

In a survey of nearly 800 American CEOs of small- to mid-size American companies by Tec International, just under three-fourths said they hold CEOs directly responsible for the scandals at Enron, Adelphia, WorldCom and others.

Sixty-nine percent of those polled said CEOs should be blamed, not chief financial officers, the Securities and Exchange Commission or accounting firms like Arthur Andersen.

Eighty-two percent said the recent wave of scandals was the work of a few, very visible chief executives and isn't indicative of a widespread problem among their peers. But that didn't stop 76 percent from thinking there will be more revelations of corporate misconduct before the year is out.

BUSINESS 101

Leveraged buyout

A leveraged buyout is a corporate acquisition in which the bulk of the purchase price is paid with borrowed money. The debt is then repaid with the acquired company's cash flow, with money raised by the sale of its assets or by the later sale of the entire company.

Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co.'s $25 billion acquisition of RJR Nabisco in 1988 was the largest leveraged buyout in U.S. history.