A Good Can of Worms
It's great to see that someone is taking the idea of using worms to recycle waste and running with it ["The Coolest Little Start-up in America," July]. Years ago, I worked for a large garbage company that experimented with using worms to reduce the garbage in landfills, but, as far as I know, it never went anywhere. I'm glad that Tom Szaky has found a way to make worm waste into a real commercial product with TerraCycle.
The Bright Side of Gas Prices
It was interesting to read how Lathem Time, a time clock manufacturer in Atlanta, is coping with the high cost of gas ["As Gas Prices Rise, So Do Demands on Employers," July]. We made a similar change at our company, which manufactures electrical parts for boats and employs 45 people, by shortening our workweek to four 10-hour days, Monday through Thursday. Our staff loves it, and we do too. We have more productivity and less absenteeism. Employees schedule doctor and dental appointments on Fridays. And with our white beaches and mild weather, these three-day weekends are like mini vacations.
Vice president, ARCO Marine
A Sticky Ethics Question
Inc. shouldn't be condoning or promoting the guerrilla marketing tactics of Marc D'Amelio ["How to Start a Company for (Almost) Nothing," July]. Using "free" UPS labels to make promotional stickers for Madsoul, his urban streetwear label, is unethical. Isn't he essentially stealing from another company to promote his product? I realize that small businesses need to come up with cost-effective ways to market themselves, but D'Amelio's brilliant idea will cost other UPS customers in the long run.
Whether or not Aaron Kamins deserved one last chance to save Accurate Perforating, it is not unusual for family-owned businesses to give family members multiple chances to run the company [Case Study, June]. Kamins wasn't ready to run the company in 2001, much less turn it around in 2003 when things had gone from bad to worse.
His uncle, Larry Cohen, placed the company in jeopardy by not having a formal strategy or a group of outside advisers. It was also a mistake to ignore the advice of his top executives, Mike Beck and Mike Zarnott. In the end, though, I have to give Kamins credit for taking the aggressive steps necessary to turn things around.
Michael P. Levy
President, CIMBiotic Solutions
Don't Give It Away
Some of the problems with intellectual property theft start here, not in China ["How to Stop Intellectual Property Theft in China," June]. Take a look at the official website for the United States Patent and Trademark Office (www.uspto.gov), and you will find an enormous database of information and schematics that anyone in the world with an Internet connection can download for free. How can we secure our IP when our own government is graciously providing the leak?
Product manager, TI Automotive
Fort Gratiot, Michigan
Learning to Love Linux
I've also wanted to get off the treadmill of Windows upgrades ever since Windows 2000 [What's Next, June]. After I switched to Linux, I found that I could survive without the support of the IT staff, much to the chagrin of the starry-eyed IT manager.
The switch doesn't have to be traumatic. I was able to replace most of my Microsoft applications with Linux OpenOffice lookalikes. Even my company's Microsoft Exchange e-mail server integrated well with my Evolution e-mail program. About the only things that didn't work were e-mail viruses that couldn't execute infectious code on my Linux desktop.
Mark R. Toth
Keep the Net Neutral
Ethan Zuckerman compared what the telecoms are trying to do with their "premium network services" to the Internet censorship of repressive regimes in China and Saudi Arabia ["One Internet, Indivisible," May]. But it's more insidious. We expect repressive regimes to be repressive, and there are ways around censorship. But what do you do when the companies that control your pipes tell you what you can and can't see?
Associate editor, Manila Standard Today
Cookies and Tea
I wish I could be as brave as Bruce and Shelley Richardson, who shut down their Elmwood Inn tearoom to focus on wholesale tea production [Case Study, April]. I run my family's cookie company, and it would be great to just make the dough and sell cookies wholesale. I am seriously fatigued and working seven days a week is getting old fast.
I thought one of the experts, Bruce Hyde, had a good suggestion--that the Richardsons build a gift shop in or near the production facility. It would be so much less labor intensive than a tearoom. The couple could even offer weekly tours of their tea operation to help promote the brand.
Wendy Younger Alarcon
Manager, Mendocino Cookie Co.
Fort Bragg, California
In the July Drives column about the Porsche Cayman S, we listed an incorrect engine configuration for the vehicle. Like many Porsche models, the Cayman S contains a flat-six engine with two banks of cylinders.