The Bullseye - July 2011

Friday, July 1, 2011

In This Issue:
Orion Alumna Featured in Military Times Edge Article,
Alumni Update,
Business Credit Cards: Users Beware,
Congratulations to This Month's Winner,
Is Social Networking Now Accepted At Work?,
Is Rent-To-Own A Good Idea?,
Connect with Orion

Orion Alumna Featured in Military Times Edge Article

A recent article by Adam Stone in Military Times Edge titled “Why transportation companies want vets” explores the demanding transportation industry and how it is well-suited for transitioning veterans, including Orion International alumna Kelly King. Stone turned to Tim Isacco, Vice President of Sales at Orion, to discuss this industry in relation to veterans. Isacco explained, “Transportation is one of the five hottest industries recruiting veterans right now.” One reason veterans fit so nicely into this industry is that transportation companies need technicians and logistical experts, which are readily found in the military community.

Stone lists six qualities that make veterans a great match for this industry. Discipline and work ethic rank number one. “The rail industry is a tough industry,” Isacco told Stone, “You might have to be out in the railyard when it’s snowing at night, or when it’s raining at night, because the rail runs 24/7, just like the military.”

Attention to detail is next, followed by communication, and organization. Flexibility is another required quality. This quality is one in which Kelly King, a former Army Captain and recent Orion placement with Kansas City Southern Railway Company, revels. King, Director of International Rail Operations Support, deals with customer service and U.S. Customs and Border Protection issues. “On any given day, I can’t tell what I’m going to be doing. It’s a great thing. I enjoy that,” says King. Leadership experience is also required in this industry. In fact, Stone points out that transportation companies that recruit veterans understand the scope and relevance of their military leadership experience. 

King also enjoys the tight-knit quality of this industry. “I’ve been able to get out in the field and meet conductors, engineers,” said King, “It’s funny, when they ask me how long I’ve been in the industry — anything less than 10 years, you’re still young.”  As this industry continues to grow, as is projected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, veterans like King will continue to find challenging and satisfying careers.

Read the original article.

Alumni Update

Herb Congdon

In continued celebration of Orion’s 20th anniversary, this month we profile Herb Congdon, a former Navy Nuclear Submarine Program Officer placed with Siecor in 1991. Congdon was commissioned in the Navy following his graduation from the Georgia Institute of Technology, where he earned a Bachelors of Electrical Engineering degree.  During his six years on Active Duty, he spent time on a fast attack submarine out of Charleston, SC, and Portsmouth, NH, and as a Squadron Operations Officer (shore tour) in Charleston, SC.

Congdon recalls that when it came time to resign his commission, he was attracted to Orion because of the fact that the company was owned and operated by JMOs that were very familiar with the issues he was facing. More importantly, though, they understood the value he could offer a company and how to best position him for a job opportunity. “The opportunities Orion presented me with were well-targeted, and I did not feel I was wasting my time with any of the interviews,” recalls Congdon.

Among those interviews was one with Siecor (now known as Corning Cable Systems). Congdon decided to start his civilian career with the company partly because of location, and partly because of the technology—at that time fiber optic communication was still in an early growth stage with a visibly approaching boom.  Also, he liked the fact that Siecor targeted JMOs, so there were already several former officers rising through the ranks of the company.

Congdon started out at Siecor as a Process Engineer, but felt he could better use his customer presence and presentation skills in a more customer-focused role. With this in mind, he took a position as an Application Engineer supporting the Japan market, a very demanding role which required several trips to Japan.  Congdon’s success positioned him to be promoted to a supervisor role in applications engineering, which he feels was truly a great position that took advantage of his Navy-built leadership skills while letting him focus on the customers. 

After eight years at Siecor, Congdon transitioned into a technical marketing role working for Tyco Electronics (now TE Connectivity), where he became "the" fiber guy.  From that position, Congdon moved onto a global product management role and then back into technical marketing with global responsibilities. And while he does not conduct the actual hiring at TE Connectivity, he has had opportunity to conduct many interviews.  Congdon has found those with military experience to be more mature, more responsible, and to possess a greater sense of initiative than candidates without military experience.

Congdon advises hiring managers to hire veterans. He also advises them that JMOs, in particular, are very aware of career paths and movement, so some time should be spent talking about how long they should expect to be in that role, what opportunities exist for advancement, and what kind of time frame is appropriate.

Congdon’s past success at Siecor and continued success at TE Connectivity is yet another testament to the value that veterans bring to civilian organizations. Stay tuned next month for another profile of an early Orion placement.

Business Credit Cards: Users Beware

The Credit CARD Act of 2009 set in place numerous consumer protection laws and regulations. The objective was to make credit cards safer and to provide clearly defined terms for consumers. But, as one would suspect, banks have found many loopholes around the Credit CARD Act rules. The new consumer protections did not include credit cards designed for business or commercial use. As a result, consumers are at risk.

According to the Pew Health Group’s Safe Credit Cards Project, four decades ago, business credit cards were excluded from consumer protections because lawmakers determined that business owners could analyze their risks. Now, with the new laws, banks are widening their definition of what constitutes “business” customers.

According to an article by Sheryl Nance-Nash on AOL’s titled, ‘Beware of Business Credit Cards: A Consumer Protection Loophole’, between January 2006 and December 2010, American households received more than 2.6 billion mailed offers for business credit cards.” The Pew Group found that no matter the recipient, they are personally liable for all charges and are not protected by the Credit CARD Act. Such things as huge interest rate hikes and unpredictable rate increases are now endangering American households.

So what can consumers do? First, recognize you don’t have to be a business to qualify for a bank’s business credit card. If you have a professional designation such as a doctor or CPA, the banks may guess you have your own business. Second, always read the fine print. Look out for huge interest rate hikes and late fees. These can be warning signals that this offer is a business credit card and not a personal card.

The Pew Group is hoping that the Credit CARD Act rules apply to any credit holder who is held personally liable. They are also hoping that all offers state if the card is covered by the Credit CARD Act.  For now, it is always best to be weary of offers received in the mail for credit cards. If you have any questions, it is best to contact your accountant or attorney to determine if that card is a good decision.

Congratulations to This Month's Winner



Daniel Tripp won the Job Seeker Referral monthly drawing and is the winner of a $50 gift card.  
Ready for your chance to win a $50 gift card? You’ll receive an entry into our monthly drawings for Client and Job Seeker referrals for each referral that you submit – good luck and thank you for the referral!

Is Social Networking Now Accepted At Work?

There was a time, not so long ago when you weren’t “allowed” to engage in social networking while at the office. Now, employers are realizing the “positive” tweets and Facebook “likes” can be a benefit to their business. According to an article, ‘Social Networking at Work a No-No No More’ by Lisa Johnson Mandell on AOL Jobs, “new research conducted by Robert Half found that slightly more than half (51 percent) of chief information officers surveyed said that they permit employees to use social media sites like Twitter and Facebook on the job, as long as it's for business purposes. This is up from 19 percent in 2009.”

Companies are now realizing that it helps their brand presence to have employees on social networking sites for product marketing, customer service, research and other purposes. Employers do, however, draw the line at excessive use of personal social networking. Employees need to know their company’s rules on social networking and follow these guidelines:

1. Follow the rules outlined in your employee handbook. Make sure you are “crystal” clear on the social networking rules and guidelines at your company. And, make sure you know (without being obvious) what your boss’s stance is on social networking. If your company allows it, but your boss is 100% against it during work hours, it wouldn’t be wise to push the envelope.

2. Use discretion. Don’t ever share sensitive company information and don’t ever say anything negative about your company. Finally, don’t do or type anything lewd or inappropriate.

3. Be safe. Use passwords and protect yourself by not clicking on unknown links.

4. Use social media to connect with customers, clients and gather industry related information. Don’t use it to socialize or catch up on your high school friends’ lives.

When used appropriately, social networking is an excellent brand builder. However, with this open type of communication comes risk. Be sure to follow all proper company guidelines and know your company’s thoughts on social networking.

Is Rent-To-Own A Good Idea?

Last month, our newsletter focused on whether a person should rent to build their credit. But there is a whole other side to renting that is now being offered with more frequency. While searching for a rental property people often see terms such as, “rent-to-own” or “lease-purchase”. Sure, it sounds too good to be true and a scam at best, but is it really?

Because the market took a huge hit and has yet to recover, many sellers are offering this purchase type as an option for those who can’t afford a larger down payment or need to improve their credit before they purchase another home. This option also aids the struggling seller in that they have an opportunity to get out from under a house. The leaser is essentially paying off the mortgage for them and eventually “buying” the house.

In theory, it makes sense, but real estate agents caution that this type of lease/purchase is better theoretically than in actual practice.

In a typical situation, a leaser/buyer will agree to a set lease term, with an agreed-upon date when the home can be purchased at a defined price or an agreed upon method of determining the home’s value. Most agreements will require some type of upfront payment for the right to purchase at the end of the lease.

So, what are the risks? There are huge risks for both parties. Buyers can pay their monthly lease payment only to find that the owner has stopped paying the mortgage during the lease term. Owners can wind up with a tenant who does not complete their end of the purchase agreement.

The most important thing for both parties is to have an “iron clad” contract that has been reviewed by their own attorneys prior to being signed. The following are tips that can aid those involved in a lease/purchase situation.

1. Know everything about the buyer. How is their credit? Are they planning on moving? Having them fill out a loan application will allow the owner to know their financial history.

2. Get a home inspection from a licensed inspector. Sign off only when both parties agree on the condition of the house and any repairs that are needed prior to purchase. The owner should make sure to disclose all they know about the house. Chances are the tenant will find out anyway.

3. The owner should require the tenant to make a security deposit and first and last month’s rent to protect them in the event the leaser bails on the contract.

4. The conditions precedent (things that have to happen in order for the purchase to go through i.e on time rent payments) should be fully detailed.

5. Be extremely clear on price. If a purchase price isn’t determined up front, there should be a firm method for determining the home’s value in the contract.

6. Set up an independent collection account to assure the buyer that the owner is paying the mortgage, insurance and taxes during the lease term.

Following these guidelines and having a solid contract will help both parties achieve success. For more information please contact your local realtor’s office.

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