Steven Yoder writes about business, real estate and criminal justice. His work appears in Vice, The American Prospect, Pacific Standard Magazine, Mic.com and elsewhere. Read more at www.stevenyoder.net. On Twitter @syodertweets.
Greta Gerwig, a Sacramento native and award-winning filmmaker and actress, won’t share many details about her upcoming project, a full-length independent film called “Lady Bird.” Except for one — where it’s being shot.
Call it the tale of two turfs. In summer 2014, 27-year-old Benjamin Triffo wanted to do something about his dry, unattractive yard. He owns a four-bedroom, four-bath duplex in Elk Grove that he’d bought in 2011, and his sprinkler lines were broken. But with the state passing rules last July that would allow fines for overwatering, Triffo quickly figured out that replacing his system and re-sodding would be like attaching a drain line to his checkbook.
Douglas Stricker of Folsom, 58, knows all about the need for skilled laborers. In 1992, he launched Golden Development, a company that built storage tanks and other structures for refineries and chemical companies. He had a crew of between 20 and 40 workers but never could find enough reliable welders — even in jobs that paid up to $30 an hour.
Giving customers price incentives to use less energy during peak periods is a key feature of SMUD’s smart grid. That new metering system is designed to let both the utility and customers better monitor energy use in homes. Now SMUD is hoping to take its grid to the next level. It’s partnering with entrepreneurs who can give customers technology that lets them use SMUD’s price incentives to save money
Pauline Marx, 63, had been a pretty conventional investor in stocks and bonds until April 2014. But to her, the rock-bottom interest rates on fixed-income tools like Treasury bills and CDs felt like stuffing money under the mattress.Then a friend told her about Fundrise, a website that lets investors buy small shares of real estate ventures around the country.
Richard Wydick has spent much of his professional life trying to change how lawyers write. In 1978, he led an article for the California Law Review with this broadside: “We lawyers cannot write plain English.” That piece created such a positive response that he turned it into a foundational book on legal writing that’s now in its fifth edition.
Competing with big-league firms for employees is tough — average pay at small businesses runs about two-thirds that offered at other companies. Not keeping up with pay hikes elsewhere can create staff turnover, eating into morale and creating operational problems. Enter profit-sharing plans.
In the past five years, 57-year-old Elaine Walker has lived in four cities: Washington D.C., two in Northern California and now Orlando, Fla. And in all four, she lived in the same house.That’s because it’s a farmhouse on wheels.
McMansion, meet tiny house. The symbol of the bubbling 2000s hasn’t exactly been displaced by the sub-400-square-foot home. But for many homebuyers in insecure times, shrinking their square footage has also downsized their worries.
Among the counterintuitive gems economists have excavated in recent years is this curious insight: When the economy is humming along and unemployment is low, the U.S. death rate rises. Many in the field have tried to fathom why. And now, UC Davis Graduate School of Management interim dean Ann Huff Stevens and three of her colleagues think they know.
Judging by prevailing retail practices, somewhere etched in stone is this edict: “To slay thy competition thou shalt undercut on labor costs.”
But a few apostate companies have strayed from that decree by offering decent wages, good benefits and predictable work schedules. Shockingly, the wayward are prospering.
Large retail chains like Costco, Trader Joe’s, QuikTrip and Mercadona pay wages and benefits considered high for their industries. They also use four key operational strategies:
For California labor lawyers, the 2012 Brinker v. Superior Court ruling was something akin to Brown v. Board or Roe v. Wade. In a case involving meal and rest breaks for hourly employees, the court ruled that businesses must have a policy giving workers those breaks — but they don’t have to ensure that staff actually take them. It seemed like near-total victory for business.
With about 10 percent of total banking assets, community banks are the source of almost half the nation’s small-business loans and 43 percent of its farm loans. New regulations and low interest rates have shut down many smaller banks or forced mergers, but the survivors say they’re poised to take advantage of market openings and an improving economy.
The challenge of finding sales talent keeps some companies from growing or even surviving. That’s why sales training boosters say it’s time for university business schools to turn out graduates who can take sales jobs and quickly hit their numbers without months — or even years — of on-the-job training.
For all its importance to business survival, companies tend to fail miserably at hiring sales staff. A 2011 survey of more than 400 firms by DePaul University researchers found that hiring one seller costs $29,000. But a lot of that money flutters out into the ether; a third of recruits don’t make it through their first year.
Carrie Clark, a former teacher, says bullies aren’t confined to playgrounds. Sometimes, they run the whole school. And they do more than demand that work get done. They threaten, humiliate or intimidate for reasons unrelated to job performance.
The Society for Human Resource Management has developed a model procedure for handling bullying complaints. Key language includes:
Little more than half of the nearly 13,000 children who have faced deportation proceedings in California since 2005 have had attorneys. Now, a state law passed in September gives local attorneys the means to represent more of the growing wave of Central American children crossing into the United States.
Can a corporate lawyer or real estate attorney really navigate this never-never land as effectively as a full-time immigration attorney? Yes, say the legal aid organizations that train pro bono lawyers.
Peer-to-peer lending platforms have hit their stride, and the number of peer loans has grown 84 percent per quarter since Prosper launched in 2006. In that same period, originations for other types of consumer loans have fallen 2 percent a quarter.
Nationwide, captives are growing fast. In 2012, 18 new U.S. group captives were formed, the highest level since 2007. But buying into a captive puts both rewards and risks into the hands of business owners.
Alex Medina and Brandon McKelvey’s new law firm looks more like a bootstrapped tech startup than a high-end legal practice. It’s one model among the boutique firms whose numbers have taken off in the region this year. The improving economy, a buyer’s market for legal services, and the lures of startup culture have upended Sacramento’s legal landscape.
The billable hour is under attack. After a scandal involving allegations of overcharging at global law firm DLA Piper last spring, Northwestern University law professor Steven Harper wrote a New York Times op-ed in which he asserted that the billable-hour system serves no one.
Seventy percent of colleges now say online education drives their long-term growth strategies. And, where for-profit universities once dominated online MBA programs, now highly rated business schools like Kelley and the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School offer them.
Students who have opted for an online MBA instead of a traditional on-campus program often come into jobs better prepared for the challenges of remote work. If you’re skeptical of online college degrees, here are nine areas in which remote learning might give you an edge in the brave new world of the solo office.
With California leading the nation in ADA lawsuits, two years ago state legislators enacted a reform designed to thread the needle between those positions by educating more businesses about their responsibilities so they would make required access changes. Today, no one can say whether compliance has increased. But the number of ADA lawsuits has soared.
Workers increasingly need a college degree to survive in today’s complex economy, so as college costs and student loan loads rise, parents and prospective students are asking tougher questions about the results to expect from a baccalaureate. But the answers they’re getting are often inadequate
On a hot, sunny morning last fall, 69-year-old retiree Pamela Chappell of Citrus Heights hit rock bottom. She was scraping by on Social Security checks and a tiny pension while paying for medication to treat her lymphedema, a painful swelling in her legs. Then she got a letter from the IRS warning her that it was about to empty her savings account of $8,000 — every dollar she had — for back taxes.
Left unchecked, underachievers can drag down an entire team’s performance, and that goes double when the problem staffer is family.
Small businesses that bloom usually succeed by filling a niche that no one else can, offering unique skills, personal service or a killer product. But they also often depend on the know-how of one or a few irreplaceable people. If tragedy strikes them, it can take down the whole firm.
In the hours before Hurricane Sandy hit New York last year, the country’s oldest public hospital thought it was ready.
Michelle Christison knows what successful family communication looks like when it comes to wealth transfer issues. A potential client approached her with a problem — she had money she didn’t need.
Call them the face of the new frugal. Erica Rhyne-Christensen and fiancé Bryant Giorgi, both 27, don’t vacation much. They hardly eat out. Until recently, they rented rooms in a group house for $400 a month each instead of getting solo apartments, and they didn’t have TV.
For all the tales of woe during the real estate downturn, many new homeowners see their purchase as a good move. Debbie Grose, a financial advisor at Lighthouse Financial Planning in Folsom, helped 32-year-old talent acquisition manager Pranav Damle and his wife walk through their decision to buy a 3-bedroom, 2-bath house in Folsom last year.