When I spoke to three Baltimore businessmen over the weekend, each had something cheerful to say about the local economy.
Joel "Bud" Finkelstein, CEO, Ace Uniform Services: "We seem to be turning around. During the last four weeks uniform rental "add-ons" forged way ahead of layoffs. I'm not predicting the future, but we generally see ahead about six months. We're what you call a 'leading indicator.' With no guarantees, I'll say that right now things are better."
Herbert Davis, Baltimore Realtor: "Real estate activity is often considered an economic barometer, but the trouble there is that activity from courthouse records lags behind actual transactions three to five months. Right now, resale residential activity is picking up and we have a 'normal' market -- numerous buyers not under pressure to buy, plenty of properties for sale and ample mortgage money at lowest rates in several years. I expect continued gradual improvement."
Harvey Bernstein, CEO, Dollar Discount Stores: "Our business is booming, but of course some of that is to be expected because in hard times people save money by buying bargains. But there's more to it than that. We've seen a real pickup recently in all price categories. I see light at the end of the tunnel." (I quipped, "I hope that light isn't the headlight of an approaching train.")
MARYLAND MEMOS: Where are the 50 "hottest counties" in the U.S. in which to start a business? According to American Demographics, there's good news for Maryland.
The magazine, which recently rated 411 counties by population growth, per capita income growth and population density, states, "If you're considering entrepreneurship, examine the following list." The list includes these Maryland counties: Howard, Calvert, Charles, Harford, Frederick, Carroll and Queen Anne's . . . Several tips to pump up your job search from Career Opportunities News, Garrett Park, Md.: "Use a temporary job service; consider a new location; return to school; consider small employers; contact former employers; expand your network."
HOPEFULLY HELPFUL: "Since the first weeks on a job are critical, starting a new assignment can be nerve-wracking," says Woman Engineer magazine. Excerpts: "Establish a bond with your secretary; meet with your supervisor periodically; maintain a high level of visibility; get acquainted with subordinates; meet with other department heads; review your predecessor's files; watch, listen and learn; implement changes slowly; be good to yourself during the transition."
NOTES & QUOTES: "Most super-achievers achieve success (P through long periods of insecurity. You just don't get over that feeling quickly." (Ted Turner with David Frost, CNN) . . . "If you're upset about your pension plan, or think you have discovered mismanagement, contact Division of Technical Assistance (202-523-8784) for the address and phone number of the nearest Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration, or call U. S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General (800-347-3756.)" (Money, November) . . . "The customer is always right." (H. Gordon Selfridge, famous London retailer) . . . "Virtue has its own reward, but no sale at the box office." (Mae West, 1892-1980) . . . "Kodak sells film, but they don't advertise film; they advertise memories." (Theodore Levitt).