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July 24, 2019
Play Hard, Play Safe

As adults, nothing draws us back to our childhood more than spending time on a playground, a swimming pool or ball fields. We are reminded of the 12’ metal slide and the ladder leading to the launch position, or the massive concrete hole filled with water, boasting two diving boards; a 3’ low dive and a 12’ high dive and a filtration system providing suspect water quality. Most memorable in my mind are the different athletic fields/courts containing miles of chain-link fencing, uneven playing surfaces, and lack of lighting. In my youth, each was constructed and operated predominantly by municipalities or school districts with some private enterprise.

Recreational societal evolution has changed. Municipalities and school districts remain primary operators, but over time there has been an insurgence of private enterprise adding these amenities to their properties and marketing efforts. With the increase in these facilities has come a spotlight that shines directly on the owner to ensure—whatever the facility is—be managed to control the overwhelming exposure that this equipment creates. To borrow General Motors marketing slogan; “This is not your Father’s Buick”.

The objective of this series is to raise awareness of exposures associated with recreational equipment and some best practices that can be implemented to mitigate the exposure, increase safety, and reduce litigation. This week, we take a look at pool safety and how we can minimize risks and avoid injury. Please note, this article is not intended to be a catch all of all dangers, exposures, and controls.

Aquatic Activities

Swimming pools and aquatic centers are beacons of fun, with children and adults alike logging plenty of splash time during hot summer and cold winter months. Outdoor municipal pools have given way to aquatic centers – both indoor and outdoor, splash parks, and HOA operated swimming pools. At one time, operators only had to concern themselves with the possible risks of diving boards and slides. Now, that risk has expanded with new equipment features such as tubes, open spiral slides, and zip lines, climbing structures, and even heightened water quality.

In many respects, pools are safer today then of years past. Awareness has been substantially heightened and the Model Aquatic Health Code (MAHC) has been established. Guidelines have been developed and implemented. Having noted this, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that from 2005–2014, there were on average 3,536 drowning deaths per year. And the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reports 4,900 people received emergency care for injuries suffered in a swimming pool or spa in each of 2011, 2012, and 2013.

It is worth noting that no pool or spa should be operated that is not in compliance with the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act, also referred to P&SS Act. The P&SS was enacted by Congress and became law effective December 19, 2008. A PDF of the act can be found here. This law is designed to prevent the tragic and hidden hazards of drain entrapment and eviscerations in pools and spas.

Pool equipment exposures can be managed following a few key best practice methods:

  • Develop an inspection schedule of the facility noting surface irregularities, damaged attractions, and appropriate lighting. Attractions taken out of service, as needed to correct deficiencies.
  • Establish water quality testing protocol for both pools and spas that requires water to be tested every four hours, and hourly for heavier use. Chlorine levels should be maintained between 1-3 parts per million and pH levels kept between 7.2-7.8. Record and store all test results.
  • Establish a policy and procedure to respond to fecal and vomit incidents. Document and store testing data and response efforts.
  • Post rules and regulations at the pool entrance with appropriate phone number to report deficiencies. Pools with different attractions should have rules posted pursuant to specific equipment. An Age limit requirement must be established to enter facility without adult supervision.
  •  Swimming pools with no Life Guard supervision should have signage indicating so, and age limits established requiring adult supervision.
  • Swimming pools with Life Guard supervision should have certification process in place and credentialing done by the American Red Cross or other reputable organizations. A Policy should be in place and enforced that prohibits Life Guards from having personal cell phones or any other personal communication device or music player on their person while in the chair supervising swimmers.
  • Water depth markings should be prominently displayed on the pool deck and no diving enforced.
  • A life ring and shepherd hook should be available and located in close proximity to the pool or spa.
  • An Emergency Action Plan in place and practiced to respond to inclement weather or a water borne lifesaving event.

Swimming pools, aquatic centers, and splash parks can be great fun for all ages; safely enjoyed with adult supervision. In this extremely litigious culture we find ourselves, just remember, “This is not your Father’s Buick”. Play Hard, play safe!

In our next issue, we’ll look at the safety and liabilities of playgrounds, skate parks, and athletic fields.




July 19, 2019

Not Just a Game: KC Sports Reduce Crime & Drive Economic Growth

On Thursday, June 27th CBIZ hosted its third quarter Executive Advantage Series, The Business of Sports: Innovations for Future Generations. The event took place in the historical 18th & Vine District at the Kansas City Urban Youth Academy.

The Academy project was announced in the summer of 2013 and opened its doors to local youths in 2017. The Academy promotes training, education, and character development through the practice of baseball and softball. Interestingly, Kansas City, Missouri leaders were eager to support the Academy for a reason that surprised the project’s manager, Kansas City Royals Senior Director of Baseball Operations, Kyle Vena.

“I did not envision reducing crime or the economic impact behind this,” Vena explained at the Q3 EAS event, “but what the City got behind immediately was having activity going on in the summer during the evening. When there is a city event going on, giving kids places to be productive and to enjoy themselves, crime drops 21%.”

This, according to Vena, was why the city invested so heavily in the Urban Youth Academy, and why the Academy is a Kansas City Parks & Recreation facility.

Kathy Nelson, President and CEO of the Kansas City Sports Commission, spoke to the EAS audience about other ways that sports have been good to our city. Nelson successfully led the initiative to make Kansas City a host of the NFL Draft, which will be coming to our city in 2023. Next, she has set her sights on the World Cup for 2026.

“If we were to host matches,” Nelson told the crowd, “it could be the equivalent of $620M coming into the city, comparable to six Super Bowls in one month. It will change Kansas City.”

Jake Reid, CEO of Sporting KC, spoke about homegrown soccer. “In the academy system if you come up through the academy you don’t have to do a draft. You just get signed. The entire youth soccer program is based out of Swope Soccer Village. At some point in the next 5-7 years we would love six to eight players who are homegrown.”

Tyler Epp, VP of Business Development for the Kansas City Chiefs, was persuaded to talk just briefly about record-breaking quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who recently decided to buy a house and settle down in Kansas City permanently. “Before he bought the house I was with him and he said that he hoped the community would appreciate the fact that he loves living here. He said, ‘I love living here, I want to live here, this is my kind of place.’”

The ways in which Kansas City sports are improving the city are too many to cover in a single evening’s presentation. However, other topics covered were sports camps that foster STEM learning, sports betting, the evolution of sports technology, and major league sports’ continued effort to expand internationally.

Don't miss out on the next Executive Advantage Series event on October 10, 2019. More details to come for the topic, when, and where. Please email kcevents@CBIZ.com for any additional questions.




May 7, 2019

A Road Map for Innovation: 3 Elements of Design Thinking

In the second quarter CBIZ Executive Advantage Series, Jon Cook, Global CEO of VMLY&R, shared a key element to the advertising agency’s record of success and innovation, design thinking. The concept of design thinking transcends the advertising world and has broader applications wherever there are people delivering products, services, and experiences. Jon distilled the complex philosophy down to a method that is both repeatable and unrestricting.

Jon distilled design thinking down to three basic elements: perspective, exploration and solution.

1. Perspective

There is no single correct perspective, but beware of limiting your focus to a single overriding principle. Jon used the example of efficiency, which can lead to a culture of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” This kind of environment stifles innovation and is unlikely to produce products or experiences that exceed expectations.

2. Exploration

Exploration could also be called the research phase. Jon warns against getting caught up in competitor research, although it can be a necessary evil at times. Focusing on competitors limits your research to your own industry, full of people answering the same questions as you with the same basic tools and strategies. Instead, try looking to thought leaders, successful campaigns across all industries, and universal everyday experiences.

3. Solution

When design thinking is used successfully, the solution will do more than answer the immediate question. The solution will change the question. For example, design thinking led VMLY&R to stop asking how to influence their audience to engage with their ads and start asking if ads were the best way to reach their audience. This simple shift led to the social phenomenon that engaged Wendy’s core audience of 18-24 year old men by live streaming a Wendy’s character playing their favorite video game. Click here to learn more about Wendy’s Story.

Jon also cautioned that there is no step-by-step approach to design thinking. The path from perspective to solution is not a linear one, but circular and continuous. By focusing on reframing the question, we can begin to reshape how innovative solutions can effectively address the needs of consumers.

To register for the next CBIZ Executive Advantage Series event, please email kcevents@CBIZ.com.




December 10, 2018

In the fourth quarter CBIZ Executive Advantage Series, Russell Welsh from Polsinelli and Gayle Packer from Terracon dove into succession planning, and leading through transition within a company. As Mr. Welsh retires as Chair of the AM 100 law firm and Ms. Packer steps into the role of CEO, they provided key insights on managing clients, employees, and the organization with a smooth transition process.

  1. “Make a commitment to be in their space, in their offices.”

Gayle said she realized early on that most employees were not too concerned with who the CEO of their company was. They were much more concerned with their direct supervisors, and any initiatives that would affect their day-to-day ability to effectively complete their jobs. To make herself accessible, she began traveling to all the local offices, spending time where the employees were doing their daily work.

  1. “Work to retain the talent that didn’t get the job.”

Russell said that one thing they did before they even began extensive interviews was ensure they could retain the candidates that were passed up for the opportunity. While they may have decided on someone else, the other candidates were invaluable to the firm and needed to know they were crucial components for Polsinelli’s continued success. Russell stressed the importance of making sure this was an intentional process.

  1.  “Find the dysfunction that suits you best and run with it!”

Every team and every leader has their own dysfunction. Gayle’s advice was to accept this fact, find which dysfunction is best for your organization, and embrace it. She encouraged people entering new roles to avoid trying to mimic everything their predecessor might have done; they are going to do some things differently, and while this may be uncomfortable at first, will be better in the long run.

  1. “Bypass your ego – change is not an attack on you or what you’ve done.”

Many times during transition, the retiring or exiting leader can begin to feel like new initiatives or changes within the organization due to new leadership is a personal attack. Russell said the best advice he could give to those who were leaving an organization is to let go of their ego and recognize change is necessary, rather than seeing it as a personal affront to their legacy.

To register for the next two CBIZ Executive Advantage Series events, please email kcevents@CBIZ.com for more information.




June 12, 2017

As you may have seen in the news, Kansas has retroactively repealed the exemption from taxation for flow-through income (including income reported on Federal Schedules C, E and F) beginning in 2017.  The bill does reinstate the deductions associated with this flow-through income, such as self-employment taxes, self-employed health insurance and pension contributions, which will help somewhat to lower the tax increase from the flow-through income.  However, the Kansas bill also retroactively increases individual income tax rates effective for 2017 and ends the “path to zero” income tax rates in Kansas which were scheduled to be phased in over the next few years.  The bill was vetoed by Governor Brownback but quickly overridden by the Kansas Legislature. 

For 2017, the previous income tax rates are increased by .3% and a new rate of 5.2% is established for individuals filing married filing jointly with taxable income over $60,000.  For all other individual taxpayers the 5.2% rate will apply to taxable income over $30,000.  Important to note:  the bill does provide that no penalties or interest will be assessed for any underpayment of taxes due to the changes in law, as long as the underpayment is paid on or before April 17, 2018.  As a result, you will likely be able to continue paying any estimated tax payments which have already been established.

Looking forward, the limit on certain itemized deductions is scheduled to be gradually increased from 2018 to 2020 such that 100% of mortgage interest and real estate taxes will be deductible in 2020.  For the year 2018, medical expenses will again become 50% deductible as part of this gradual phase in of increased itemized deductions. 

For most individuals, the new legislation will result in more income tax liability in Kansas.  As a result, Kansas flow-through entities should take steps to reduce the income flowing through to the shareholders/partners/members of these entities.  One immediate step which should be considered is whether the entity will qualify for any Kansas incentives.  We can schedule a meeting with our State Incentive Team to determine what incentives the company would qualify for in 2017 (including tax credits, training grants and other reimbursements).  If the company currently does not qualify, we can work with you to review and potentially restructure current processes and procedures to qualify.  Most of these credits and incentives are not retroactive so it is imperative to get the process started now!  For this and other tax planning or any questions on the recent tax act, please contact your local CBIZ tax advisor. 




April 27, 2017

On Thursday April 20th the CBIZ MHM, LLC Kansas City Manufacturing Practice co-hosted the 2017 Manufacturing Summit at TopGolf with co-hosts UMB Bank and Spencer Fane. Guests were invited to sit in various presentations surrounding industry hot topics. Bill Smith, Esq., managing director CBIZ National joined Chris Gutierrez, president of KC SmartPort to shed light on President Trump’s upcoming tax reform and the current state of Kansas City development.

Other sessions included Andre’ Trudell, managing director, UMB Bank joined by Special Agent Christopher Lamb, FBI discussing Corporate Security and Accessing Capital Markets. Kansas City Law Firm, Spencer Fane took the stage with partners Patrick McInerey, Pat Whalen and Attorney Jaspal Hare to discuss software development contracts, cyber security and internal and government investigations. After the seminar more than 40 guests were invited to join the speakers for golf and networking featuring a southern buffet and open bar at one of Kansas City’s best entertainment spots, TopGolf. 

For more information about the event or our Manufacturing distribution list please contact Melanie Clark.

 





August 22, 2016

On Thursday, August 18th the CBIZ MHM, LLC Kansas City Transaction Advisory Services (TAS) Practice held a wine tasting event to introduce our national TAS capabilities and our local experts. Members of the CBIZ National TAS Practice, David Stagliano, Managing Director, CBIZ MHM Philadelphia, and Luke Snyder, Director, CBIZ MHM Philadelphia, joined local team members in a brief presentation on the CBIZ TAS capabilities and expertise. 

In addition to a meet and greet session with some of the local and national practitioners, the more than 50 guests in attendance enjoyed a wine tasting featuring a variety of wines provided by Royal Liquors and ample time to connect with peers and local entrepreneurs in possible buy/sell situations and/or looking for capital investment.

The Kansas City TAS group will continue host events on a quarterly basis.

For more information on this event, TAS or to get added to our TAS distribution list, contact Alex Elliott.










May 19, 2016

On June 2nd the Kansas City CFO group will host their second quarter breakfast event, featuring retiring Burns & McDonnell CEO, Greg Graves.

During this interactive discussion, Greg will focus on the explosive growth Burns & McDonnell has experienced over the last 12 years, the finance role and how it plays into leadership and growth, and much more!

For more information and to register, click here.




May 12, 2016

On Thursday May 12th, the Kansas City Construction Practice kicked off their summer breakfast event series with a discussion focused on Key Employee Incentive and Retention Plans – Creating a Motivated Management Team.

Key employees can be hard to find and even harder to keep. High-caliber employees drive the generation of profit and enterprise value, and can be a vital piece in a successful ownership transition. As a business owner, identifying these employees, understanding what motivates them to remain loyal, and encouraging them to stay the course, is critical to your company’s future, your financial independence and your personal legacy.

 While higher pay seems like the best answer, it doesn’t stop competitors from offering even higher pay or better opportunities, it doesn’t encourage the leadership mentality and it doesn’t invoke loyalty – in many cases an incentive or retention plan may be the best solution.  It is important to first understand what motivates your high-caliber employees and then design an effective plan that will benefit both the employer and employee. During our discussion today, Joyce Farris outlined a variety of different plan options and decisions to weigh as you go down this path.  To summarize, no matter what type of plan you institute, the plan should: 

  • Motivate key employees to attains goals and as they do, the company value should increase;
  • “Handcuff” the key employee to the company;  
  • Outline meaningful and realistic objectives that are well-communicated;
  • Provide substantial benefits and should be a win for both the employer and employee; and 
  • Provide specific guidelines on how to achieve the benefit (s).

To receive a copy of today’s presentation, for questions on this topic or for additional information, please contact Joyce Farris at 816.945.5121 or jfarris@cbiz.com

Save the Date for Part II in the Construction Breakfast Series: Employee Stock option Plans (ESOPs) in the Construction Industry, July 12th.




April 5, 2016

Originally featured in Thinking Bigger Magazine - March 2015

As a small business owner, there may come a time, if it hasn’t already, when you need money and you need it now.

There are a variety of funding options available: banks, home equity, the SBA, friends and family, investors, accounts receivable factoring, credit cards—the list goes on and on.

However, what if you have exhausted all of those sources and still have a short-term need for cash? As you begin the quest to find financing, you may consider alternative funding—an option becoming increasingly popular for small businesses across the country. 

 Because the traditional banking system’s regulations have made it increasingly difficult, time-consuming and, in some cases, impossible for a small business to get quick funding from their bank, this niche financing  industry has emerged, filling a need that many  primary funding resources have overlooked. 

What Exactly Is Alternative Funding?

Lending Club and Kabbage are two examples of companies providing alternative funding services. These, as well as other organizations in this niche, are primarily online resources focused on providing fast and flexible short-term financing to small businesses.

Typical lending ranges from $10,000 to $100,000. After the process has started, it usually takes about a day for the company to receive financing, assuming all the funding conditions have been met.

Kansas City is actually home to an alternative funder, CapFusion. Though the company provides funding to small businesses across the country, the company’s founders are based in Kansas City. And they may pay extra attention if they receive an application from a business that is located here, too.

Why Isn’t Everybody Using Alternative Funding?

There are pros and cons to all funding options, but the main cons associated with alternative funding include the associated costs, the dollar limits and the relative experience of the lender.

The costs of these loans can be significantly more than annualized rates associated with conventional financing. Using alternative funding, a typical transaction’s annualized interest expense is anywhere from 30 percent to 50 percent. Remember, there is a reason this niche is referred to as “alternative funding” and not primary funding.

Additionally, the players in this space typically lend in much lower dollar amounts than other types of financing. The thought behind this being, once a company has stabilized its cash flow and has time to patiently search for the best conventional financing arrangement, it will no longer need alternative financing. 

Lastly, as a relatively new niche, many companies in this space are relatively young. Some small business owners simply may prefer working with more established, well-recognized institutions.

What You Should Do

As if running a business doesn’t present enough challenge to the small business owner, I’ll add one more. It is important to understand all the financing options available to you and the pros and cons before you make a decision. Put in the time and effort to analyze your alternative financing options, the same way you would research other goods and services.

While working with an online alternative funding source may be your best solution, make sure your needs align with the company’s capabilities, and make certain you are working with the lending company that will be providing the financing, versus a broker, which will lead to substantially more costs.

Learn more about the author of this article, Daniel Kjergaard and our Entrepreneurial Services Group.




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