As a young boy, Ted Dennard learned the art of beekeeping. Today, he uses his passion for honey to earn a living. He’s the founder of Savannah Bee Company, which sells pure, raw honey and honey products. His Grill Honey took top prize in the annual Flavor of Georgia Food Product Contest Tuesday in Atlanta. His sauce bested Georgia coast shrimp, fresh peach bread, granola, Vidalia onion dressing, olive tapenade and great cheese, to capture Grand Champion at a ceremony led by Gov. Sonny Perdue. Winners were announced as part of Georgia Agriculture Day, March 16. “That is so awesome. We are so lucky,” Dennard said. He entered Grill Honey, the company’s newest blend, to introduce the market to a new way of looking at honey. “Adding honey to grilled foods is great way to add a sweet glaze to salmon or other meats,” he said. The annual contest, conducted by the University of Georgia Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development, was held at the Georgia Freight Depot in downtown Atlanta. Winners were selected in seven categories. Dennard’s Grill Honey won the barbecue and hot sauce category, a sweet surprise for a spicy competition. “We never expected to win anything,” he said. “The barbecue category has such depth in flavor we didn’t expect anything. But, we are so honored and thankful for this award.” Learning the art of beekeeping as a small child, Dennard still tends about 35 hives that render the honey used in some of the company’s products. The company sells several honey varieties including tupelo, orange blossom, acacia and winter white. “Every honey has a different color, taste and sugar. Tupelo is my favorite and tastes great on everything, but different honey varieties are used for different foods,” Dennard said. Blended from mountain sourwood and wildflower honeys, Grill Honey has a more robust, complex flavor and is generally darker than the other blends. Grill Honey was one of 24 products sampled and judged by a panel of food brokers, buyers and other food industry experts. Contestants were awarded points based on flavor, Georgia theme, unique or innovative qualities, commercial appeal and originality. Finalists were chosen from 79 entries from all across Georgia. “We try to include every major state commodity to get a broad representation,” said Sharon Kane, contest organizer and a UGA CAED food business development specialist. This year’s final products included poultry, peanuts and blueberry juice as well as olives, goat cheese and shrimp. Judges indicated it was the best competition so far by marking the highest scores ever received. They were also the closest. Three or four points separated first from fourth in several categories.“Without a doubt, this is the best group we’ve ever had,” Kane said.Other category winners were: Confections – Ricky Vining of Lane Southern Orchards won with Lane’s Fresh Peach Bread. Dairy – Cathy Spivey and Robin Schick of CalyRoad Creamery won with Clouds of CalyRoad Camembert. Jams, jellies and sauces – Vicki and Larry Forton of Olive Affairs won with Gourmet Olive Tapenade. Meat product – Chip Reed of Blue Marlin International won with Blue Marlin American Shrimp. Other products – Douglas Horn of Vidalia Valley won with Organic Vidalia Onion Tomato Basil Dressing. Snack foods – Susan Cordell of Goodness Gracious! Granola won with You Struck Gold. Winners earn the right to have their products stamped with the 2010 Flavor of Georgia logo. Food processing is the single largest part of the manufacturing sector of the state,” said John McKissick, director of the Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development. “The importance of this industry is continuing to grow.” “We gave out awards, but that’s not the point. The contest was designed as a way to develop food entrepreneurs and showcase their products,” McKissick said. “We provide education and applied research together to develop and grow their business. All contestants receive feedback from food industry leaders on packaging, ingredients and taste. And they have an opportunity to meet people who can help them grow their business.” Flavor of Georgia is only a starting point for many of the category winners, Kane said. She followed up with the 2009 winners and found that nearly 80 percent experienced increased interest in their products as a result of the contest. Also, 50 percent saw an increase in the publicity for their products. The annual food contest is sponsored by the CAED in partnership with the Governor’s Agricultural Advisory Commission, Georgia Agribusiness Council and UGA Department of Food Science and Technology.
‘It is our goal to empower 1,000 Vermonters to be accountable with their lives,’ Salmon said, ‘by providing a system that one can enter by simply declaring individual goals linked to clear outcomes. I’m excited and eager to get the ball rolling.’Salmon joined John Kleinhans, chairman of the Vermont State Colleges Student Association, and Deputy Health Commissioner Barbara Cimaglio, to record a 30-minute program for local access television to help explain the concept and how people can join or learn more. ‘The Vermont Department of Health and our partners are always looking for new ways to improve health outcomes,’ Cimaglio said. ‘Although Vermont is known as the healthiest state, substance abuse, smoking and obesity are still public health challenges. We support this innovative project and look forward to seeing how Vermonters respond.’Accountable to You, Accountable to Me is based on four different goals that Vermonters can pledge to accomplish by the conclusion of 2012, or 12 months from personal enrollment through March 31, 2013: quit smoking, stop drinking, lose 25 pounds, or save $2,012 to donate to a local Vermont charity or an individual project choice. Individuals may modify their declaration of pounds lost or dollars committed. Entrants who stay on course toward their chosen goal will be entered in a monthly prize bowl drawing with a cash reward donated by participants or businesses. Each participant will be paired up with a mentor that will make weekly electronic or phone contact and provide support.Accountable to You, Accountable to Me will be led on a day-to-day basis by John Kleinhans, and is open to all Vermonters. The program will include a social media campaign and active grassroots campaign based through all 14 counties in the state. ‘I am really excited,’ Kleinhans said. ‘This is a morale boosting vehicle where Vermonters can stand up and make themselves better and their communities better after a difficult year. If we could find 1,000 Vermonters to save 2012 dollars for others, that is over 2 million dollarsâ ¦It blows my mind!’ State Auditor Tom Salmon CPA announced the creation of the Accountable to You, Accountable to Me statewide wellness initiative. This program will encourage Vermonters to take a proactive role in their own personal health and wellness by focusing on accountability to one’s self and others who are part of their lives. By signing up to be held accountable to one’s individual health and/or savings goals, Vermonters will employ a new strategy to achieve better personal and community results in the year ahead.Vermonters will have an opportunity to sign up for one of the following categories:· No Use of Alcohol· No Use of Tobacco or any illegal substances· Lose 25 pounds· Save 2,012 dollars to donate to a Vermont charity.
Did you get a replacement credit card in the mail recently? Are you confused as to why?You’re in good company. The U.S. is adopting a significant change in how credit card payments are processed in stores, which will have consumers inserting cards equipped with a special chip rather than swiping at the checkout counter, but many people are still in the dark.Nearly 3 in 5 of the 1,000 consumers surveyed by payments solutions company ACI Worldwide have not yet received a chipped card. Among those who already have their new card, only 32 percent said they understand the U.S. is moving to a new card processing system.To get up to speed, here are seven things you need to know about the transition to chipped technology.The U.S. is the last major country to transition its cards. The U.K. was the first to adopt the new payment system, known as the EMV standard. Developed by and named for Europay, MasterCard and Visa, EMV requires cards be outfitted with a chip that transmits a unique code for each transaction. The technology dramatically reduces the ability of thieves to use stolen credit card numbers in stores. continue reading » 7SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr
If you follow our OpenView blog, you’ve probably heard many of us mention our quarterly “mixer” events and forums which are hosted for our portfolio companies and the greater Boston entrepreneurial community. At our last mixer, we were introduced to Telamon Insurance and Financial Network and their Benefits and HR Division. Telamon works with clients ranging from startups to more mature organizations with a focus on providing human capital consulting services to growing organizations across the US, and our conversation quickly shifted to the nuances of implementing a human resources and recruiting function within expansion stage companies. This week, I sat down with Telamon team members Lauren Brenner (President, HR Division), John Snyder (President, Benefits Division) and Chris Donovan (Director, Business Development) to catch up and discuss best practices and interviewing techniques for high-growth companies.Jessica: Hi Lauren, John and Chris! It’s great to have an opportunity to connect with you again. During our last conversation, you explained that Telamon often has an opportunity to support organizations going through rapid growth. What is the most common human capital challenge you find facing these organizations?Chris Donovan: One of the greatest challenges facing the companies in high-growth mode that we work with include finding the right talent and then developing the strategies to retain those employees. Beyond this, companies often struggle with how to handle difficult employee relations situations while being advised of the federal and state laws to be legally compliant in their business (e.g., wage & hour, recruitment, termination). Jessica: We often find that interviewing is very new for many hiring managers or members of these companies. What advice do you typically offer to these organizations who are new to the interview process? Lauren Brenner: Document, document, document! It’s important to develop a set of standard interview questions to ask every candidate before the interview process begins, and then once interviewing, write down each response to every question. It’s also essential to conduct and document reference checks before making a hire, requesting that 1-2 of these references are the candidate’s former managers. Jessica: That’s great advice! It can be very easy when interviewing 2 or 3 people for the same position to get details crossed or to forget an important question, particularly when the conversation flows easily. What about the difficult interviewing situations? How do you coach an interviewer on how to handle vague responses, dodging questions or when details don’t line up? Lauren: One of the more difficult interviewing techniques to master is to become comfortable with silence when waiting for a candidate to respond to your question. If a candidate is thinking of his/her response, do not answer for them or provide lead in responses to the question to make them less uncomfortable or to help them out. Allow them the time to think about the question or to recall a particular situation. The interview should be 80% candidate and 20% interviewer talking. One other recommendation we often coach interviewers with is to ask questions that will help you to obtain a balanced view of the candidate. If you ask a question which lends the response to be positive or negative, ask the question in a way to obtain the other type of response. For example, “Tell me about a time where you were able to change a disgruntled customer to a positive customer.” Followed with, “Tell me about a time where you were not able to successfully assist a customer and what you learned from that experience.” Jessica: So best-case scenario, an interview goes really well and the candidate is hired! What are some of the ways Telamon is able to partner with growing companies in the on-boarding process? John Snyder: Telamon will develop a new hire packet customized to each client and overnight the kit to the prospective hire so they can begin the on-boarding process before their first day. This ensures a great first impression and reduces the fear of a delay in health and welfare benefits coverage. We also develop on-line content for on-boarding that our clients use with new employees. Jessica: That great first impression is essential to getting the newest employees up to speed quickly and confidently. From a benefits perspective, what have you found to be one of the most essential aspects in developing a comprehensive benefits package within a start-up or expansion stage company? John: Developing a company philosophy on employee benefit offerings is the starting point for any company. Critical questions to discuss are as follows:What kinds of benefits are offered by other companies in our industry that have similar demographics?Do we want our benefit offerings to match or exceed our competition’s?How do we project costs?What is our budget?How much do we contribute toward the cost of premiums vs. our employees?Where are we recruiting our staff from? What will be their expectation of benefits?What is going to drive retention — culture, salary, stock options, benefits, wellness programs, developmental opportunities etc.?Once these questions are answered and a philosophy is developed a company can work with their benefits adviser to tailor a plan that is sustainable and will meet their short and long term objectives. Jessica: Keeping those short- and long-term objectives in mind throughout the hiring process (from interviewing through on-boarding) is so important. Lauren, John, and Chris, thank you so much for taking the time to chat and share this great advice with us and OpenView blog readers. For more information on Telamon Insurance and Financial Network or to learn about the HR Bootcamps they regularly host on these topics, please visit their site at www.telamonins.com. AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterShare to PrintPrintShare to EmailEmailShare to MoreAddThis