LOCATION: 3112 Washington Road, Augusta
PRODUCT: Catering services, mail-order confections and gourmet-to-go foods.
OWNER: Vera Stewart
EMPLOYEES: 20 full time, two part time
HISTORY: Ms. Stewart founded the business as Vera & Company, a catering service in Cartersville, Ga., in 1984. She moved to Augusta a few years later and reestablished the business. By 1993, the home-based venture had grown large enough to move into the first of three commercial locations. That same year, she founded the mail-order division, Very Vera, as a way to sustain the business between catering jobs. The mail-order division, which has been featured in Southern Living, USA Weekend, Vogue and on CNN, went online in 1997.
In 2000, all three company divisions were placed under the Very Vera corporate name. The mail-order division now has a customer base of more than 30,000 across the United States, and is FedEx's No. 1 shipper in Augusta during November and December. It is the No. 3 shipper the rest of the year.
RECENT NEWS:This fall, Very Vera expanded by opening an on-site 1950s-style cafe serving lunch daily at the company's 8,200-square-foot headquarters on Washington Road.
January is a great time to make a list of resolutions that will improve company morale and increase employee productivity, according to Maritz Brand Alignment, a unit of Maritz Inc., a Missouri-based market research and consulting firm.
Among the goals Maritz suggests: building more trust among the ranks, developing greater clarity for company directions, supporting employees better, seeking more input from employees and sharing success.
"New Year's resolutions should be a must for all company leaders," said Rodger Stotz, a Maritz vice president. "This is a great opportunity for company leaders to build trust, loyalty and increase productivity among employees."
The Society of Consumer Affairs Professionals offers a checklist for how to complain constructively:
Perhaps the only comfort that investors had in 2002 was their misery had plenty of company.
Out of a Dow Jones list of 86 sectors, only 16 were positive performers. The top 10 sectors, with their yearly percentage gain, are as follows:
1) Precious metals, 40.69
2) Consumer electronics, 13.48
3) Savings and loan, 11.37
4) Casinos, 10.04
5) Air freight, 9.62
6) Mining, 8.47
7) Trucking, 7.60
8) Distillers and brewers, 7.30
9) Containers and packaging, 6.51
10) Nonferrous metals, 6.51
A plane shake
Which company popularized the milk shake and was the first to own a corporate plane? Pharmacy chain Walgreen Co.
Charles Walgreen, who founded the company in Chicago in 1901, installed a large soda fountain in his second store in 1909. By the early 1920s, he was selling shakes at nearly two dozen stores, which he promoted with his company airplane.
The company's 2002 sales were $28.6 billion.
Contact Business Editor Damon Cline at (706) 823-3486 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Which companies are best for workers? Well, Fortune magazine says these corporations are tops when it comes to taking care of employees:
1) Edward Jones, investment services, 27,092 employees
2) Container Store, retail, 1,987 employees
3) SAS Institute, software development, 8,309 employees
4) TDIndustries, construction, 1,368 employees
5) Synovus Financial Corp., financial services, 11,022 employees
6) Xilinx, computer chips, 2,649 employees
7) Plante & Moran, accounting, 1,240 employees
8) Qualcomm, telecommunications, 6,314 employees
9) Alston & Bird, law firm, 1,338 employees
10) Baptist Health Care, hospital network, 4,068 employees
For up-to-the-minute business news and stock quotes, go to www.augustachronicle.com/business.
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