Originally created 09/21/03

Pocket change



EMPLOYER SPOTLIGHT

OCCIDENTAL CHEMICAL CORP.

LOCATION: 1620 Marvin Griffin Road, south Augusta

OWNER: Occidental Petroleum Corp., Los Angeles

PRODUCTS: Augusta plant produces liquid sodium silicate, an ingredient used to make a variety of products, including paper products, soaps, detergents, paints and pigments.

LOCAL EMPLOYEES: 20 (approximate)

2002 SALES: $7.3 billion (corporate)

HISTORY: The 21-acre Augusta plant was built in 1962 by DuPont to supply the nearby Procter & Gamble powdered laundry-detergent plant with liquid sodium silicate. DuPont sold the Augusta plant and two other silicate plants to Power Silicates in 1986. Occidental Chemicals, which operates under the name OxyChem, acquired the plant a decade later.

Parent company Occidental Petroleum was founded in California in 1920. The company was a minor player in the industry until businessman Armand Hammer tripled the company's assets with a $100,000 personal investment in 1956. Three years later, Occidental discovered California's second-largest gas field.

Since then, the company has grown into an oil giant with reserves of more than 2.3 billion barrels in the United States, the Middle East and Latin America. Occidental Chemicals is the world's sixth-largest chemical producer.

BIZ BITE

Dressing smart

Casual attire may have become a little too casual for some employers, according to recent research by legwear manufacturer Kayser-Roth Corp.

It's poll of 150 CEOs and 1,000 workers found that "no jeans" topped the list of employee-attire changes bosses would like to see. Other top concerns included tight or revealing clothing.

Most workers, 69 percent, said they wouldn't have a problem if their company adopted a policy on professional attire, and three of four said they'd abandon casual workplace dress entirely if it meant better pay and career advancement.

SCORE TIP

Business buying

There are two basic methods of evaluating a business up for sale: the appraised value of the assets, and the future expectations of profits and return on investment.

The Service Corps of Retired Executives, a nonprofit volunteer business counseling organization known as SCORE, can help business owners and potential business buyers understand more about the valuation process.

To find out more, call the Augusta SCORE office at 793-9998 from 9 a.m. to noon Monday through Thursday to make an appointment.

BIZ TRIVIA

Catalog company

The world's first mail-order company was founded in Chicago in 1872. No, it wasn't Sears, Roebuck & Co.

It was Montgomery Ward, which was a major nameplate in U.S. retail until it went out of business in 2001 following a bankruptcy filing the previous year. The company opened its first retail store in 1926, and by 1930 retail sales exceeded catalog sales.

An interesting side note: Montgomery Ward was 100 percent owned by Mobil Oil from 1976-85.

BIZ BITE

Get attention

If you're complaining about a product or service, follow these tips to increase the chances of getting what you want:

  • Don't complain when you're full of anger. That will put everyone on the defensive and make the merchant less likely to try to make you happy.
  • When writing a complaint letter, address it to a local manager and send a copy to the company's top executives. That should get immediate attention, because the local manager sees that his or her boss has been informed.
  • Keep notes on the dates of the events you're complaining about, and retain all relevant documents.
  • Clearly state what you expect or desire, such as a refund in 10 days.
  • Send the company a note when the problem has been resolved. That will encourage the company to improve service for all customers.
  • Wedded in debt

    Experts offer the following tips for couples marrying with debt:

  • Pay down as much of the debt as you can before you marry.
  • If you still have debt, tell your intended about it, down to the last dime and due date.
  • If you have a poor credit history that might hurt your chances of getting a loan, disclose that as well.
  • Consider a prenuptial agreement that spells out who is responsible for the debt.
  • ONLINE

    Go to www.augustachronicle.com/stocks for hourly quotes on nearly every publicly traded company.

    REACH US

    Contact Business Editor Damon Cline at (706) 823-3486 or damon.cline@augustachronicle.com.