Closing the skills gap

Skills in today’s workplace come in two varieties: hard skills and soft skills. Hard skills are fundamental to the production of the good or service that a company produces. They require equipment, materials and physical activity. Welding, word processing, forklift operations, plumbing and carpentry are hard skills. They are easily observed and measured. Soft skills are much more difficult to define and measure — they are the interpersonal or “people” skills. They help employees to interact successfully with others in the workplace. In any industry, employees must interact with co-workers, vendors and customers for the organization to succeed. Competition in […]

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Best is yet to come for analytics

The exciting era of digitalization we are living in is showing a lot of progress in the advances of using analytics in the business applications to improve the lives of customers, employees and ourselves. And the best might be yet to come. Digitalization is creating large amounts of data, and analytics can be used to discover, interpret and communicate meaningful patterns in such data. There are unprecedented amounts of data available. According to an IBM estimate, 90 percent of data currently stored has been created within the past two years. The fact that we interact largely over the internet — […]

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Bottom lines: Our views on recent news

Our bottom-line thoughts on some items of note in the Crossroads Business Journal region: • How many consumers understand the regulatory headaches some area companies face as they do business in three different states and multiple jurisdictions? • Congratulations to Ryan Flurie, Derek McGee and K. Richard Holzapfel for being named to Forbes’ roster of America’s Top Millennial Advisors. • Good luck to the folks planning and participating in Mountain Maryland Restaurant Week in Allegany County Sept. 8-17. • With Congress scheduled to go back into session this month, we’re seeing some signs of how complex another priority, tax reform, […]

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Bottom lines: Our views on some recent news

Celebrating Business and Industry

Our bottom-line thoughts on some items of note in the Crossroads Business Journal region follow: • We don’t pretend to understand the details of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. But is it too much to ask for a law that lets banks do their job while protecting the nation from a financial meltdown? Those don’t seem like conflicting goals to us. • A person can go through Hagerstown Community College’s truck-driving program for less than $5,500 (less than $3,500, for those who live in Washington County), enter a field where those skills are in high demand […]

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Warehousing grows as manufacturing slows

Since 1990, our economy has gone through three major recessions, in 1990-91, 2001-03 and 2008-09. With the last one, some areas are still recovering and have not reached the pre-2008 recession employment level. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the transition of the economy since 1990 in two metropolitan statistical areas along Interstate 81 in Pennsylvania: Harrisburg-Carlisle and Chambersburg-Waynesboro. The transition highlights the dramatic shift away from government and manufacturing jobs and toward employment in the supply chain industry, including warehousing, transportation and other professional services. The Harrisburg-Carlisle area, which is considered to be a hub for […]

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Make better use of your employees

The supply chain industry faces a severe employment crisis, and it is only expected to get worse. Seasoned workers are retiring, and it has been a challenge to replace them. Contributing to this is the overall poor perception of supply chain jobs by millennials, and companies being slow to embrace diversity in their ranks. With the number of available candidates dwindling, it is crucial that companies find ways to get the best value from the people they already employ. For you to get more value from your employees, consider adopting these 10 recommendations: • Invest in training. Training can help […]

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Celebrating your business

Thanks for perusing the first edition of the Crossroads Business Journal.

Our aim, as stated on the front page, is simple: To celebrate the vibrant businesses and industries in our region — roughly from Winchester, Va., to Shippensburg, Pa., and from Cumberland, Md., to Frederick, Md.

Those are diverse and distinct communities, of course, with economic strengths and challenges of their own. But they are linked by critical connections, not least of which are interstate highways. […]

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Logistics and transportation: Natural partners

A military force will not survive long if it extends beyond the reach of its supply chain. Likewise, transportation is the lynchpin for all material goods, and very few business models are able to flourish without a solid transportation plan to deliver raw materials and finished products.

Therefore, today’s professional commercial driver is a customer-delivery specialist. Each driver is the face seen daily by the customer and represents customer-service results at the point of delivery.

The modern professional driver must be results-driven, a problem-solver and one who welcomes change. He or she must always seek continuous improvement and increased efficiency. Each driver must be able to fully multitask, doing a mix of driving skills and people skills. Simultaneously, the same driver must practice a full regimen of safety-oriented principles to mitigate risks and neutralize threats to achieving positive results. […]

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Business model could lead to lawn care by subscription

The determination of property owners to maintain vast, beautifully manicured lawns has caught my eye.

The great number of trailers hauling lawn mowers on the roads makes it clear that outsourced lawn care is a significant business. But what motivates property owners when they contract a lawn-care provider?

There are two ways to see it: as a need for lawn mowing or as a desire for a beautiful lawn. Those who prefer the latter understand a lot about the subscription economy. Let me tell you how, and explain a bit about the subscription business model in the process. […]

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