Energy Offer: Save and Get Paid

Energy consumers in the South Bend and Fort Wayne regions can learn more about a new demand response program at upcoming presentations.

Participating organizations can receive payments year-round in exchange for agreeing to reduce energy use during times of high demand. The details will be explained during one-hour breakfast meetings on August 27 and 28.

EnerNOC provides the resources to help manage your energy management efforts. Registration and additional details.

Advertisers Turning to Selfies

Oxford Dictionaries’ word of the year for 2013, “selfie” is now not only a recognized noun but a movement. Scroll through various social media outlets and you will inevitably run across multiple personal snapshots, most proclaiming themselves as selfies in their captions.

The intention, of course, is to show off a new hair style, jewelry accessory, etc., or to simply make a declaration of confidence to your group of peers known as your “followers” or “friends.” But advertisers have realized the potential that selfies and other personal photos hold for marketing purposes.

An article entitled “Why Advertisers Can’t Wait to Get Their Hands on Your Selfies” outlines some of the initiatives already in the process for using personal pictures for marketing research.

Advertisers see immense potential in these photos to reveal information about consumers. The pictures we take and post represent our interests and passions — insight that marketers are eager to obtain. Posts can even uncover a person’s brand affiliations.

Examples of such technology include VisualGraph, which Pinterest has bought and can use to advertise to users based on photos they pin. Vicarious, an artificial intelligence firm that utilizes image recognition, has investors such as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg and Tesla founder Elon Musk.

Directing ads based on photos would move advertising from demographic-based targeting to interest-based. However, it’s estimated that only 15% of photos provide substantial clues. Additionally, this invasive method of marketing could scare people.

Regardless, I think it’s an interesting prospect. As someone who has minimal posts on her social media accounts, I’m not too concerned about advertisers gleaning much information at all about me through my scarcity of pictures. But I don’t think most of us realize that what we post represents so much about us, or at least we don’t often stop to think about it.

Advertisers have recognized the trove of information that we make available about ourselves on a daily basis through our posts, and I think that can serve as a reminder to be aware of what we put out there for the world to see.

Commerce Apps Revolutionizing Shopping

A couple of nights ago, as I was idly passing time on my phone, I opened up the App Store and proceeded to download four or five new apps. Three of these were shopping-related. When asked if I wanted to receive notifications, I granted the applications permission. I quickly realized the danger of my decision. Less than 24 hours later, I was beginning to receive alerts, tempting me to view discounted items that would still inevitably accumulate to a steep amount if I made purchases every time I was notified of a sale.

This type of interactive commerce may very well be the future of shopping. An article on ReadWriteShop recently outlined three e-commerce tools that are setting the trend.

  • eBay’s digital shopping windows: large digital screens allowing users to view and purchase products on display
  • Zero Effort Commerce: an app that learns users’ shopping habits and can be programmed for different conveniences, such as making purchases before running out of a certain product or offering customized item suggestion
  • eBay Valet app pilot: an app designed for selling products that transfers much of the work to eBay, such as estimating a price, taking professional photos of the item and sending a shipping box and label

Apps such as these will make shopping and selling more accessible than ever. It will be interesting to see how advances in e-commerce shape purchasing trends—particularly apps that monitor spending habits and offer tailored recommendations. For a shopping-lover such as myself, a new level of self-control will certainly have to be developed, but I believe the benefits will outweigh the setbacks.

Indy Eleven Hosting Craft Brew Night at Aug. 23 Match; Get Your Tickets Now!

Indy Eleven will host “Craft Brew Night” (presented by Kroger) on Saturday, Aug. 23 at Carroll Stadium 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. prior to the match vs. Ottawa Fury FC.

The event, dubbed “The World’s Game, Indiana’s Beer,” will feature offerings from many of the state’s top craft brewers. On hand will be:

  • Barley Island (Noblesville)
  • Carson’s Brewery (Evansville)
  • Chapmans (Angola)
  • Cutters (Avon)
  • Daredevil (Shelbyville)
  • Flat 12 (Indianapolis)
  • Fountain Square (Indianapolis)
  • Oaken Barrel (Greenwood)
  • People’s Brewing (Lafayette)
  • Quaff On (Nashville)
  • Scarlet Lane (McCordsville)
  • Sun King (Indianapolis)
  • Taxman (Bargersville)
  • Tow Yard (Indianapolis)
  • Tin Man (Evansville)
  • Triton (Indianapolis)
  • Upland (Bloomington)

A highlight of the evening’s festivities will include Flat 12 Bierwerks’ unveiling of the name and logo for their new English Pale Ale, created in honor of Indy Eleven and the team’s independent supporters group, the Brickyard Battalion. Fans are encouraged to visit Flat 12 Bierwerks’ blog to see the five name and logo pairings for this delicious new addition to the Indy Eleven corporate partner’s stable of beers.

A limited number of tickets will be available for this Craft Brew Night event, so fans interested in securing their spots can go online to purchase their $25 game/tasting ticket combo pack or $11 Craft Brew tasting event passes or call (317) 685-1100 during regular business hours (Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.). Fans should also be on the lookout for contest offerings surrounding Craft Brew Night on Indy Eleven’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram channels and Reddit throughout this week, including free ticket packages and Indy Eleven merchandise.

Muncie’s Knapp Supply Marks 140 Years in Business (Public/Customers Invited to Celebration)

Muncie’s Knapp Supply is celebrating an impressive 140 years of serving its customers on Sept. 12. The company, which has 32 employees, is marking the anniversary with a big party and its customers and the public are invited. Here are the details:

  • When: Friday, Sept. 12
  • Where: Knapp Supply office, 420 S. Ohio Ave., Muncie
  • Time: noon – 8 p.m.
  • RSVP to: dstanley@knappsupply.com or (765) 288-1893

We also spoke with David Stanley, Knapp Supply’s director of sales and marketing, to learn more about this storied Hoosier company.

Tell us about the history of Knapp Supply:

“Our founder, Capt. Alexander Knapp, was a Civil War veteran who was wounded in Georgia — in the Battle of Chickamauga, I think. He came back to Union City to open a plumbers’ steam and gas center supply house in 1874. He operated that into the early 1900s, selling everything from black pipe fittings to terra cotta pots and vases. He was sort of diverse in the things he sold.

Then the company moved to Muncie in 1926, because it was more of a hub of industry, and to cater to some of our industrial clients at that time.”

What do you sell today?

“Today, we’re basically a distributor of plumbing supplies, kitchen and bathroom cabinets, and industrial supplies.”

With so much longevity, you’re obviously doing something right. What sets Knapp Supply apart from others in the industry?

“From reading and talking to different wholesalers, (our strength is) that we’ve been able to adapt quickly to changing times. Going back to the housing crunch (when houses were built at a slower rate), we were already heavily into the remodeling business at the time so we could roll right over. We were so versed in new construction years ago, we knew what people had installed and we could jump into the remodeling business.

And our employees (are a great asset). We have well over 500 years with the company in these thirty-some people. Many people have been here for many years – myself for 27 years, and our owner for 37 years. Our employees just have a wealth of knowledge.”

And what is it that makes staff stay with the company for so long?

“It’s a family atmosphere and we all get along really well. It’s a good, steady job with fair pay, health insurance, life insurance, all those things that add up – and it’s operated by a local family that takes big pride in helping their employees.”

How beneficial is it to be in Muncie?

“We operate in a daily delivery service of about 125 miles around Muncie. So from that we stretch up toward Valparaiso, Fort Wayne, Indianapolis and Bloomington – being centrally located in the Indiana/Ohio area allows us to get material out fast and provide good service.”

Tell us what will be happening at your Sept. 12 customer appreciation celebration:

“Without our customers, we obviously wouldn’t be here. We want to give back to them; we have customers who are the third and fourth generation of families that keep coming here. All sorts of our vendors will set up expositions. There will also be show tents with brand new items so our customers can see new things that are coming out and even talk to some of the people that had a hand in engineering or manufacturing some of these items.

We’re going to have food (lunch and dinner), a band for their enjoyment, free drinks and all sorts of knick knacks that will commemorate 140 years.” 

If you plan to attend the celebration, just RSVP to David at dstanley@knappsupply.com.

Waters of the United States Informational Meetings Around Indiana in August

The Indiana Chamber is working with the Indiana Farm Bureau and many other business and industry groups to strongly communicate our deep concern about the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers proposed expansion of federal regulatory jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act? This will expand federal control over Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) – to which we are opposed.

As you will see below, The Farm Bureau is holding a series of informational meetings around the state and YOU are invited. Be sure to register if you will be attending.

If you’d like more information, reach out to Justin Schneider (317-692-7835 or 317-919-8087) or Kyle Cline (317-692-7845 or 317-502-7415). The schedule is below, and here is the full listing that includes locations:

  • August 5: 2-4 p.m. in Tipton County
  • August 7: 9-11 a.m. in Decatur County
  • August 7: 7-9 p.m. in Randolph County
  • August 18: 10 a.m.- noon in Vigo County
  • August 18: 7-9 p.m. EST /6-8 p.m. CST in Jasper County
  • August 21: 1-3 p.m. in Marshall County
  • August 21: 7-9 p.m. in Dekalb County
  • August 28: 9-11 a.m. in Monroe County
  • August 28: 3-5 p.m. in Tippecanoe County

Turning to the ‘Dark’ Side Pays Off at Work

I’m not trying to compare successful business leaders’ climb up the corporate ladder to Anakin Skywalker’s epic descent into evil, but the title of my blog is fitting, according to a recent Wall Street Journal story.

Let me start by saying that my first reaction to this article is a bit – not indignant, but defiant. While I concede that the author’s contentions are dead-on in many cases, they are broad generalizations. That said, it’s an intriguing piece.

Read this excerpt and ask yourself if you know anyone with these “dark” personality traits:

… co-workers may possess a dose of one of the personality traits that psychologists call the “dark triad”: manipulativeness, a tendency to influence others for selfish gain; narcissism, a profound self-centeredness; or an antisocial personality, lacking in empathy or concern for others.

These traits are well known for the bad behavior that they can cause when dominant in people’s personalities. At milder levels, however, they can actually foster skills that can help people rise through the ranks.

For instance, people with narcissism, who want to be the center of attention, often make a good first impression on clients and bosses, says a 2014 review of more than 140 studies on people with mild, or “subclinical” levels of dark personality traits. They also can be persuasive when pitching their own ideas.

Manipulators influence others for their own gain, using flattery or deceit if necessary. But these personalities – also called Machiavellians – can also be charismatic leaders and forceful negotiators, says the study, in the Journal of Organizational Behavior. And while antisocial personalities lack empathy or concern for others, they can be creative because they often enjoy testing limits.

Does the story resonate with you or get under your skin? Chime in!

In the Rough or a Favorable Lie? Perspectives Vary on the State of Golf

My on and off affair with golf started when I was about 17, and has been somewhat tumultuous. Like many duffers, I’ll take some time off, then mosey out to the range after watching a PGA event on TV. Next thing you know,  the seductive temptress known as a promising round appears with her flowing hair as beautiful and dangerous as windblown fescue — and once again I’m hooked and helpless. Walter White himself might as well be running the clubhouse cash register.

Yet with viewership of the PGA’s major tournaments reportedly down — often credited to Tiger Woods’ absence (he’s battled serious injuries and hasn’t won a major since 2008) — and with Millennials more interested in soccer (and their smartphones), there’s been much speculation that the game’s popularity has dropped off like a shank over a Pebble Beach cliff. Many attribute it to the time commitment of an 18-hole round — and legend Jack Nicklaus even proposes a move to a 12-hole standard outing for amateurs.

However, findings portrayed in a recent Golf Digest article posit the game is not in as dire shape as some might have you believe. We hope this is the case for our members in the golf industry:

Contrary to popular belief, there are positive stories in equipment sales, rounds played, and even employment opportunities. The professional game might be on better financial footing than any other individual sport, and maybe most important, the game’s leaders have embraced the idea of growing the game in its most important way: young people. The story of golf in July 2014 certainly is not candy canes and rainbows, but those clouds might not be as dark as others have been so quick to point out.

Has 2014 been a down year for equipment sales and rounds played? Certainly. Is there an oversupply of golf courses (fueled by unsustainable real-estate projections) and golf-equipment inventory (driven by overzealous manufacturers who were primed by unrealistic sales forecasts from certain large-scale retailers)? Unquestionably. But that’s a relative and limited point of view. First, let’s remember this: There were about 5 million golfers in 1960. While U.S. population has increased only some 75 percent since then, the number of golfers has more than quintupled to around 25 million.

Recent data from golf-retail research firm Golf Datatech show that the sale of hard goods (clubs, balls, bags, shoes and gloves) through the first six months of the year are higher than or equal to 12 of the previous 17 years. Is the trend line down from the somewhat freakish highs of 2006-’08? Yes. But there are unquestionable categories of enthusiasm this year. Iron sales, the largest purchase a golfer makes, have been up this year. The wedge market, thought to be dead after the USGA rolled back groove performance, has been consistently up this year. Even the footwear market has been an important, steady source of revenue. Callaway Golf just announced its second-quarter earnings and noted its sales for the first half of 2014 were up 9 percent, with growth in all categories, including woods (up 8 percent), irons (up 14 percent), putters (up 9 percent) and golf balls (up 7 percent).

There have been arguments that television ratings for golf are down in 2014 (and indeed the majors have been off), but according to the PGA Tour, the number of unique viewers this year is consistent, and sponsorship interest across all tours has risen to unprecedented levels. Golf Channel set a ratings record for the month of April this year…

Bishop and other leaders believe young people are not only the catalysts for golf’s future, but the strongest elements of golf’s present. Finchem points to The First Tee reaching a record 3.5 million youngsters in the last year. That’s a powerful number when you realize that a traditional, outdoor, analog game like golf is somehow energizing a nation that is eschewing physical education, battling a growing childhood-obesity problem and fighting a culture that sees kids spending nearly eight hours a day in front of screens.

Foreign Investment Pays Off in Jobs

The Indiana Chamber has touted the advantages of foreign-owned establishments numerous times over the years. A new study looks at jobs generated by the foreign investment in the largest U.S. metro areas over the past 20 years.

In 1991, Indianapolis ranked 36th nationally with 21,190 jobs tied to foreign direct investment. In 2011, those numbers improved to a 22nd-place ranking and 49,910 jobs.

How about industries and locations? Aircraft products and parts topped the 2011 list (thanks largely to Rolls Royce), accounting for 7,600 jobs. Motor vehicle parts followed with 4,800 jobs. In line with those numbers, London and Tokyo, respectively, were the leading global cities serving as home for the Indianapolis-area investment.

The Brookings Institutions and JPMorgan Chase combined efforts on the research.

Interesting Trends Anticipated for This Year’s Back to School Shopping

As the oldest in a family of five children, the end of July always heralded the beginning of the dreaded, chaotic Back to School (BTS) shopping. My mom would gather the lists our teachers provided us with at the end of the previous school year, pile us into the car and search the aisles of local stores boasting discounts.

At the end of the shopping spree, we would come home with bags containing an assortment of pens, notebooks, folders and binders that we would have to go through and separate for each sibling.

It’s that time of the year again, only (thankfully) I no longer have to accompany my mom on those trips, which could last hours. This year, more BTS shoppers have followed in my mom’s tradition of getting a jump start on the action. A survey commissioned by ICSC-Goldman Sachs found that 37% of consumers have already started shopping, compared to 29% who began at this time last year.

Ninety percent have indicated that they will purchase from brick-and-mortar retailers. According to the survey, “many retailers found in regional malls and open-air centers, such as office supply stores, traditional department stores, electronic stores and apparel specialty stores should see increased activity during the BTS season.”

Online shopping is expected to drop from 8.6% last year to 8.1% this year. Seventy-three percent of consumers said they will do research online and then buy their supplies from a physical store.

Average household spending on BTS items is expected to increase this year. Excluding electronics, expenditures are anticipated to be $325 per household, an increase from last year’s average of $285 per household.

This year’s Back to School shopping is still in its early phases. It will be interesting to see if the actual figures match up to the predicted ones.