Monday, May 06, 2002

Morning Memo

Hot tips and news to start your business day

        Today's Number: $240 - Average price of a ton of steel sheet this year, up about 10 percent, mainly because of restricted steel supply after LTV Corp. halted production in December.

        Today's Career Talk: Even the best leaders can be blind to the core issues, obstacles and barriers that prevent business units from achieving optimal performance. “This is often because personal and organizational weaknesses are hidden within the business structure,” says Mark Stevens in Extreme Management: What They Teach at Harvard Business School's Advanced Management Program. The solution is simple but certainly challenging: “Place yourself in a fishbowl,” Mr. Stevens says. “You will emerge a better business leader.”

        Today's Money Tip: Mutual funds calling themselves “no-load funds,” that is low-cost, may still include a 12b-1 fee. Sometimes called the “hidden load,” this is an extra fee charged by some mutual funds to cover promotion, distributions, marketing expenses, and sometimes commissions to brokers. A genuine no-load fund does not have 12b-1 fees, although some funds calling themselves “no-load” do have 12b-1 fees. 12b-1 fee information is disclosed in a fund's prospectus, is included in the stated expense ratio and is usually less than 1 percent.

        Today's Company: Ackermann Group Construction

        TRADITION: In 1946, Rudolph “Rudy” Ackermann, an insurance salesman, started building single-family homes, then apartment buildings. His son Thomas and daughter-in-law Margaret joined the company in the 1960s, expanding into land development. Their sons, T.J. and Dobbs Ackermann, took over the company in the early 1990s when Thomas retired.

        THIRD GENERATION: T.J. and Dobbs Ackermann first made their mark in 1992 with Watson's Meadow, followed by custom homes in Loveland and Indian Hill. The firm won several awards for the Mount Lookout Citirama project in 1999, for which it was lead developer.

        WHERE THE ACTION IS: Current commercial projects include the Cornerstone At Norwood, a 5-acre office/retail complex; The Overlook at Stewart Park, a 10-acre office development in Silverton; and a $25 million riverside development in Bellevue that includes townhomes, office space, a hike/bike trail and 75,000 square feet of public open space.

        BULGING PORTFOLIO: At present, the Mount Carmel company employs 22 and has built more than 100 homes, 173 condominiums and 583 apartments.

        Send tips and questions to Bill Ferguson at


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