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As we saw in the recent political campaign, the topic of how to help small businesses is always a hot one.



Proposed tactics usually involve policy initiatives related to taxes and incentives. There are also countless software firms touting ways they can help you magically simplify or expedite or make obsolete some aspect of your day-to-day business.

Yet there are still plenty of every- day, largely un-digital, fairly ordinary ways small and mid-size businesses can be helped, and Ari Galperin and Demetrius Hammett have discovered many of them. In fact, before ever meeting, they each had noticed particular blind spots in the small business world and had built businesses around those untapped avenues. For Ari, it was wealth management and credit card processing. After getting a degree in Finance and Entrepreneurship at Case Western, Ari joined his father’s insurance and financial services practice. It was there that he realized that small to mid-size business owners were so focused on whatever services they offered or products they sold, they weren’t effectively managing the back office needs of their business. In addition, Ari found that small-to-midsize businesses often pay as much as 40% more for the same services that large businesses receive. “I realized that if someone could manage their back-office work, these companies would see increases in profitability and productivity,” he says. Taking the idea a step further, Ari saw the opportunity for these businesses to band together, combining their purchasing power to attain lower costs. The area he saw had the most potential for this group-approach model was credit card processing.

“The owners didn’t have much understanding of how the fee structure worked, and more importantly, how they cold reduce those costs. Most of them were grossly overpay- ing for their credit card processing services.” Ari began approaching credit card processors and negotiating wholesale deals on behalf of his clientele.

He also went from bank to bank seeking lower costs, and eventually formed Merchant Select Financial, which became one of the only companies reducing costs on credit card processing services.

He eventually expanded his business to helping small-to-midsize business save on services such as insurance, marketing, and web design. Fast forward a few years. Through mutual acquaintances, Ari met Demetrius, who was enjoying his own success by transforming the way companies’ human resources operated.

Demetrius developed a recruiting, hiring and training system which helps HR departments make decisions that are more closely synthesized with the company’s goals of meeting or exceeding its financial objectives.

“A forward-thinking HR department is no longer simply a personnel office that makes sure compliances are adhered to, I’s are dotted and T’s are crossed, hires and fires, etc.,” Demetrius says. “Today, HR is about recognizing that human talent is the most critical asset a company can have — and that there are new and more effective ways to ensure they function in a way that both enriches their own lives and at the same time furthers the success of the organization.”

The seeds for Demetrius’ HR system were planted during his years at Goodyear, where he went from a young sales associate to a District Manager in Boston, then Pittsburgh. His thinking further crystallized during his graduate studies in Leadership and Organizational Behavior at Duquesne University.

Before long he had customized a hiring and training system which enabled his Pittsburgh district to move out of the red and become a profit center. Eventually, Demetrius founded Corporate Training Solutions International, offering an assortment of customized HR outsourcing services, and helping small to mid-size companies reinvest their newly- found HR savings back into the business. Like Ari, he observed that businesses in this size range benefit from the lower cost of outsourcing for his services.

Once Demetrius and Ari met, it didn’t take long for both to see that their skill sets and offerings complemented each other and their company Provident Advisor Group was born. Given the many vendor partner relationships each partner had, upon merging them they found that they could reduce costs for businesses on all kinds of services, from utility prices to waste services, insurance, and payroll to IT, and much more and of course on their respective bailiwicks, credit card processing and human resources.

“Because we aggregate pricing through our vendor networks, as well as provide continuous cost monitoring to ensure our clients are always paying as little as possible, we are in effect procuring revenue and overhead reductions that businesses weren’t even aware was available,” Demetrius says. “Needless to say, they’re quite pleased with the arrangement.” Provident currently serves over 300 clients in the Cleveland suburbs alone, and hundreds more nationally.

The company continues to grow due to their tireless work ethic, straightforward style, and demonstrated results. Not to mention, they can help companies across the spectrum of their business, so there’s almost sure to be at least one area in which a company can benefit from working with Provident.

“Some of the business pain points we remedy are common — such as the acquisition and development of talent, insurance or energy rates and others,” Ari says. “But often we come up with a way to save that truly shocks our clients — such as when we recently saved a very large venue around 85K a year on their energy bill. People like it when you save them eighty-five thousand dollars.” 

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In Review: The 3rd Annual Greater Summit Business Conference & Expo

The Black Pages Ohio and the Summit Magazine partnered with the City of Akron and County of Summit for the 3rd Annual Greater Summit Business Conference & Expo.



The Black Pages Ohio and the Summit Magazine partnered with the City of Akron and County of Summit for the 3rd Annual Greater Summit Business Conference & Expo.

The event was hosted at the University of Akron’s Quaker Station on April 26, 2017. Small businesses and corporations from across the state of Ohio networked for business and procurement opportunities. The EXPO focused on collaboration between businesses, helping small businesses succeed, economic development in Summit County and diversity and inclusion with workshops and a vendor trade show.

Nearly forty vendors displayed their products and services during the trade show. Vendors included corporations such as Dominion, First Energy, Summa Health, CareSource, Cleveland Clinic Akron General, University of Akron, Kent State University, Cleveland State University, Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District, Spectrum and Cook Paving & Construction Co. Inc. State agencies such as Ohio Development Services Agency, Ohio Department of Administrative Services, Ohio Department of Transportation and financial institutions Huntington Bank and KeyBank. Four workshops were offered at the EXPO.

Building sustainable partnerships: A Small Business and Corporate Workshop. This workshop moderated by Kumi Lane, Cleve-land Clinic, showed small businesses how best to secure partnerships with larger organizations while putting corporations into contact with certified small businesses from every industry to meet their outsourcing needs.

Andre Bryan, President of APB & Associates moderated the workshop Key Drivers for Small Business an Overview of financing, Bonding, and Health Care.

The third workshop, Doing Business with the State of Ohio provided info on becoming a certified Minority Business (MBE). Summa Health held the fourth workshop, a Supply Chain Workshop discussing opportunities and upcoming projects. Many of the attendees found the EXPO to be beneficial. Danielle Thompson, Community Marketplace Representative for CareSource meet new businesses with a potential need for health insurance and feels this was an excellent networking event.

The EXPO met the needs of Provident Advisor Group according to President Demetrius Ham- mett. He stated, “This EXPO is a good fit for us. We can do laser type networking rather than the shotgun approach where you don’t get anything out of it. This EXPO has deliverables. We have met four or five people and see opportunities.”

Sue Lacy and Michelle Cassetty Collins ConexusNEO president and vice president respectively, said “There are so many companies and organizations that are represented today and all really looking to address their workforce and talent needs. They are really open to talking about what their needs are. It has been a great event for us.”

Central State University students sponsored by Huntington Bank attended the Conference and EXPO too. Tikeya Anderson, a senior at Central State, would recommend the conference to freshman, sophomores and juniors in the Business School. She believes it will help students determine the types of internships they would like to do and start many students thinking about entrepreneurship early in their college life.

Ashley Span, Sharonda McDaniel and Joseph Lancaster all found the workshops to be meaningful. They all found the openness of the business owners refreshing and eye-opening. Ashley plans to learn more about the companies present today. Sharonda liked the collaborative nature of the businesses and noted how important relationships are among the business community. Joseph was intrigued by all the support for entrepreneurs.

Ilene Shapiro was the keynote luncheon speaker. Executive Shapiro asked business owners for their ideas and questions for the county. She also posed her own questions to the business owners, what is the county doing currently to meet their needs and what aren’t they doing. Executive Shapiro took questions directly from the luncheon audience and connected business owners with agencies who could meet those needs. The Executive also spoke about workforce development as a key component to economic development and asked attendees about the talent needed to do their business. She encouraged business owners to partner with workforce development agencies to establish their talent needs now and in the future.

And finally, Executive Shapiro was excited to see diversity at the luncheon. She called diversity, “the hallmark of what we want Summit County to be. Bringing in people in from all walks of life, all races and all nationalities to build our community for a brighter tomorrow. “ From all of us at Black Pages Ohio and the Summit Magazine, we thank all of you for your continued support in our continuing mission of creating partnerships and promoting diversity.

We hope that you will join us for our upcoming 4th Annual Greater Summit Business Conference & Expo in 2018.

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DAR Public Relations: Longevity + Experience = Exceptional Results



When a business offers expertise in a wide range of services and backs it up with more than three decades of experience, the result is unquestionable success. DAR Public Relations, Inc., a female minority-owned and -operated public relations firm headquartered in Solon, Ohio, is celebrating 32 years of delivering high-profile projects for its clients – local, national, and international.

Launched by President and CEO Dannette Render in 1984, DAR is an integrated marketing agency that offers marketing, public relations, conference/event planning, and advertising services, including a market niche focusing on public and community involvement. The firm is known for impressive expertise with coordination of high-profile public awareness campaigns statewide and locally. Some recent examples are campaigns for Ohio Infant Mortality, Ohio Multicultural Tourism, Ohio Wine Month, Ohio Tobacco Quit Line, “Don’t Borrow Trouble,” and Children Who Witness Violence.

DAR’s value proposition is based on three decades of expertise focused on building superior resources and relationships, positioning the company to deliver an outstanding competitive advantage unparalleled by other smaller agencies. A generalist agency, DAR is comfortable with facilitating a variety of projects. “We enjoy learning about new facets of business and communities,” says Render. “We’re strategic thinkers, and we’ve developed a network in the business world. We never enter a new market or community alone – we’ve already made relationships there that we draw on for the benefit of our clients.”

The company’s success is a reflection of its founder and CEO. Render has garnered an impressive list of awards and has served as a delegate to the White House Conference on Small Business. To do great things on such a high level, Render relies on belief in herself and the words of Dr. Norman Vincent Peale: ‘Tough times don’t last – only tough people.” She says, “Tough times require entrepreneurs to become more savvy and creative. Every day, I face my work with a smile and a commitment to excellence.”

It’s no surprise that clients fall in love with DAR. They are deeply impressed by the depth of knowledge DAR delivers to every project, along with keen attention to details, extreme excitement, and focus on flawless execution. One client recently commented, “When Russell Conwell wrote Acres of Diamonds, one of the diamonds he must have had in mind was Dannette Render and DAR Public Relations.”

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Field Day Cleaning: A Professional Clean



William Pearson is the owner/ operator of Field Day Cleaning Inc., a professional full-service cleaning/maintenance company that provides janitorial services, distributes janitorial supplies and utilizes advanced technological equipment to properly sanitize and extract health hazardous material.

Mr. Pearson started his business in 2005 by cold calling and going door to door to drum up business while he continued to work full time. He succeeded and landed his first client and contract with the Cleveland Lakefront State Park. Mr. Pearson maintained the contract for two years before he was informed certification was needed to bid on future contracts.

Field Day Cleaning, Inc. was not a certified at that time so Mr. Pearson sought out entities that could help him become certified. He connected with the Cuyahoga County Office of Procurement and Diversity, the Ohio Department of Administrative Services, the Hispanic Chambers of Commerce, the Urban League and other organizations to learn about the different types of certifications.

Mr. Pearson interacted with contract decision makers, suppliers, and city and county officials. Most beneficial to him was meeting people one on one in small group settings. Field Day Cleaning, Inc. is now MBE and DBE certified and SBE certified by the city of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County. Mr. Pearson has also self-certified as a Section Three business with HUD.

Field Day Cleaning, Inc. now has contracts with construction and property management companies as well as commercial contracts to clean office buildings. Mr. Pearson’s company works on-site during construction maintaining cleanliness and post construction cleaning before the client takes possession of the property.

Field Day Cleaning, Inc. also cleans apartment when tenants move in and out and does maintenance such as plumbing and drywall repair as needed by clients. While Mr. Pearson has a great work ethic he soon learned more was need to run a business. He recalls, “When I started my business, no one sat me down to talk about owning a business, I just jumped out there.” Mr. Pearson wishes he had realized the need for an accountant versus doing his own taxes early on.

He also believes all advice is not good advice and business owners should seek consultation for new business startups. Mr. Pearson also finds obtaining needed financing and managing resources to maximize company growth a challenging part of business ownership. He believes opportunities are wide open for companies that can take on multi-state contracts with the federal government and companies that expand their services.

Mr. Pearson says. “The smartest thing that I have done in my business is master my craft and reinvent the wheel. I started out just doing janitorial services and now I have made my company a little more attractive with added value services to suit my client’s needs.

You may contact William Pearson at Field Day Cleaning, Inc., 216-526-5810, email: b.pearson36@yahoo. com

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