Wednesday, June 28, 2006
by Ilana DeBare

Q:I'm close to retiring as a construction worker and have an idea for a mobile shoe-shine business. I would pick up people's shoes, take them home and shine them, and return them for $10. I recently passed out 200 flyers, got two people to call me, and made one sale. Am I on track, or is there something else I should do?

- Shining in S.F.

A:I hate to discourage a potential Bill Gates of the shoe-shine industry, but I'm highly skeptical about this venture.

It's hard for me to imagine how you'll make any money doing this. Say it takes you 10 minutes to pick up a pair of shoes, 10 minutes to shine them, and 10 minutes to return them. (And given San Francisco traffic, 10 minutes for pickup and drop-off is pretty optimistic.)

You've just spent a half hour and grossed $10 -- out of which you'll have to pay for supplies, taxes, transportation and marketing.

"It's going to cost more to service clients than he gets paid for this service," said Jerry Ervin, a sales and marketing consultant with Paragon Strategies.

One approach is to continue testing this concept and see if you can make it pencil out. Give yourself a set time frame and budget -- say, three months and $300. You won't have a full-fledged business by then, but you can see if there is potential for growth and profit.

Another approach would be to shift to a business-to-business model. A number of Silicon Valley companies contract with outside firms like dry cleaners to provide on-site services to their employees. It will be easier to turn a profit by driving to one company and shining 20 pairs of shoes, rather than driving to 20 homes with one pair at each.

The caveat is that you'll need to look and act very professional to gain entree to these companies.

"He's going to have to make himself look like a corporate business with all the trappings -- brochures, business cards, a Web site, and sales savvy," Ervin said.

People in Business
San Francisco Chronicle - March 14, 2006

Paragon Strategies, a San Francisco management and communications training firm, named Leslie Ellis VP of sales. She was national sales manager at HaLo.

Dave Roberson was promoted to CEO and president of Hitachi Data Systems Corp., a Santa Clara provider of data storage products and services. He succeeds Shinjiro Iwata as CEO. Iwata was appointed chief marketing officer for Hitachi Ltd.'s information and telecommunications systems group. Roberson was president and COO of Hitachi Data Systems Corp. Minoru Kosuge succeeds Roberson as COO. Kosuge was EVP and chief storage architect. These changes are effective April 1.

Andy Cottrell was promoted to chief technology officer at TriCipher Inc., a San Mateo provider of authentication products. He was VP of research, development and operations.

Tello, a San Mateo provider of instant communication and collaboration services, appointed Kevin Gavin chief marketing officer. He was chief marketing officer at GoBeam.

Performant Financial Corp., a Livermore provider of advisory services for health care, education and governmental collections, named Jayne Pendergast chief information officer. She was VP of information technology and chief information officer at Appleseed's Inc. in Beverly, Mass.

Attorney Carol O'Neill was named VP and relationship manager of the wealth management group at Mechanics Bank in Richmond. She was a senior associate at Donahue Gallagher Woods.

Centrify Corp., a Mountain View provider of Microsoft active directory-based access and identity management products for multi-platform networks, named James Chappell VP of worldwide field operations. He was SVP of business process and development at Legato Systems Inc.

InsideTrack, a San Francisco provider of student coaching services for colleges and universities, named J. Michael Thompson VP of coaching operations. He was vice provost of enrollment management and dean of admissions and financial aid at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.

Paragon Strategies, a San Francisco management and communications training firm, named Leslie Ellis VP of sales. She was national sales manager at HaLo.

WageWorks, a San Mateo consumer health spending management company, named Sheren Ghali VP of human resources. She was VP of human resources at Prebon Yamane in Jersey City, New Jersey.

Parson Consulting, a San Francisco financial management consultancy, named Edward Wenrick managing director of the firm's San Francisco and Los Angeles offices. He was managing director and mid-market leader for the Northern California practice at BearingPoint.

To have a top management appointment considered for publication in People in Business, send a brief e-mail, including the individual's background and photo, to cbenson@sfchronicle.com. Or send a fax to Colleen Benson at (415) 543-2482.

This article appeared on page E - 6 of the San Francisco Chronicle

Mind Your Business
San Francisco Chronicle - September 14, 2005

Q: I am starting my own one-person information technology consulting company, and I'm looking for ways to develop lists of small- to medium-size companies in the Bay Area. How can I develop a list of companies that are smaller than those on The Chronicle 200 list?

- IT Entrepreneur

A:The Chronicle 200, which my talented colleagues on the business staff compile each year, is a good source for information on the region's 200 largest companies. You can find copies online at www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/topco/home/2005.

Local business weeklies also publish lists of the leading local companies in various industries, which can be useful in identifying potential clients or customers.

But for a really great source on companies of all types and sizes, head for the San Francisco Public Library either in person or on the web at http://sfpl.lib.ca.us Click on "Articles and Databases," and then on the "Business" category. You will find a source called the Reference USA Business Database.

You'll need to enter your San Francisco library card number to gain access. Once you're inside, you can search for any kind of business you want -- by size, by industry, by geographical location and so on.

For instance, I did a custom search for manufacturing firms in San Francisco with fewer than 100 employees, and got a list with 2,143 names. I also got details such as owner, sales revenues and Web address for each of those names.

This is a service that would cost you hundreds of dollars on your own, but through the library, it is free. If you're not in San Francisco, check with your city's library to see if they offer a similar service.

"People think they have to go to so many places, when all they need to do is ask a librarian," said Jerry Ervin, president of Paragon Strategies, which provides sales and management training. "Libraries have a wealth of business information."