Solutions in Polycarbonate LLC has been in business since 2016. It is a graduate of the Braintree incubator in Mansfield. The company helps customers design and install polycarbonate-based glazing solutions to increase natural daylighting and save energy costs. Made in Medina County sat down with owner and founder, Bruce Gold.
Q: Thank you so much for joining us, Bruce! Please tell us about Solutions in Polycarbonate.A: Having been a business owner in the past, in 2016 I saw an opportunity to take my knowledge and experience and launch a new venture. Solutions in Polycarbonate brings customers solutions to increase their energy efficiency through a natural daylighting solution. The reduced weight of the polycarbonate versus glass offers lower costs but the cellular structure of the glazing panel is more thermally efficient than that of glass.Q: Can you explain the products a little more? They sound intriguing!A: Absolutely! In most windows you have glass. It may be insulated or treated but it is heavy and can still be leaking energy. Our polycarbonate products are perfect for those locations where you want natural light but do not need a transparent or see thru glazing structure. These systems provide plenty of natural daylighting and higher thermal efficiency than their glass counterparts.Our canopies can either be a multiwall or solid sheet variety which provides a great diversity of color, styles, and endless design possibilities.As for skylights, because our panels are translucent, you get the benefit of the natural daylighting without the problems associated with the glare from direct sunlight.Q: I would think! What applications are best for your products?A: We specialize in windows, skylights, and canopies. We also have a lighting option that you can control with an app on your phone. Or, if you have an older building, we can do an overglazing with our product that not only improves the old windows but makes them look better as well!Our canopy systems are on churches, medical buildings, schools, and office buildings. We offer low cost solutions as well as highly decorative varieties for larger budgets.The skylights can absorb a 1200 foot-pound impact. It could be higher but we stopped testing at that point since that rated well above the industry standard.Q: That’s huge! What kinds of clients buy your products?A: We typically work with architects, building developers, or contractors. We work with general contractors a lot because our products are easy to install so they can self-perform the installation.We work with metal building manufacturers and contractors as well. Our window system fits in perfectly with their structural steel framing and is simple in the way it prevents water infiltration. It can be linked to lighting controls in order to take advantage of free daylight harvesting. Most contractors like how easy the system is to install.Q: That seems unexpected. With a product like this, I would think it was complicated to install. Is that typical in your industry?A: Actually, it is not. That is something unique to our company. Most of our competitors have complicated systems requiring specialists to install. We simplified our products so components are the same across the different product lines and contractors can handle it in house. It keeps our customers coming back because they know our products and know our commitment to partnering with them.Q: That sounds like the answer, but to what do you attribute your success?A: Our adaptability has been key. Our product ideas come out of developing solutions for clients in real time. We always like to say, can’t find it? We’ll design it!Also, we have a really strong team. They are very comfortable speaking up and walking through solutions that may be different than my ideas.And finally, the longevity of our products. These products just LAST. And maintain their energy efficiency.Q: How did you come to Medina County?A: Many years ago I was in Pittsburgh. As we looked at creating a business, when officials asked for the number of employees we were planning on, they weren’t interested in 20 employees as a startup. It was considered too small for them to care. Tom Kruger was a friend and the economic development director in the city of Medina at the time. Sharing with him what we were planning, he put together a package. When we came to visit we met with the mayor, the economic development team, and were generally made to feel welcome.Then, not being familiar with Medina, we started looking at the geography. Being in the center of everything with access to highways meant we are regularly within the radius used when building LEAD projects which require products be sourced close by. It was a win both professionally and personally.Q: We love to hear that! Has there been any other ways the cities or county has helped?A: Tom was a great resource. Then at a conference I met a woman named Kimberly Marshall. She listened to a problem I was having with state funding and she jumped right in and fixed it. So I was thrilled when she joined the team at the city!The Made in Medina County effort is really unique. We love learning about manufacturing in the county and sourcing products locally. We use vendors in Medina, Copley, Cleveland, Columbus and other areas of the state. But we love getting them from our own county the most.We also love the local assets like the Medina County Career Center. We can access interns thru their programs and help train up a new generation of employees. Those that spend time with us can see what the career field they have chosen is like, and if they continue, we provide the opportunity to grow with us.Q: What do you see in the future?A: People want more daylight in their spaces and glazing systems to harvest natural daylighting to offset some of their energy costs. Our products will support the new energy efficiency initiatives we believe will coming in the near future and will help older buildings get the lift they need without replacing all the windows. We feel we are positioned for a bright future!For more information about Solutions in Polycarbonate, please visit: http://www.solutionsinpc.com
Cameron Haring is the owner of DECA Manufacturing a current member of the Braintree board of directors. WMAN's Aaron Hines interviewed him for the podcast "A CEO You Should Know" on iHeart Radio.
DECA Manufacturing was started in 1976 and is a leading supplier of wire harnesses and automotive parts. Cameron took over the firm in 2018.
Read more: Braintree board member Cameron Haring featured on "CEOs You Should Know," on iHeart Radio. URL: https://wmanfm.iheart.com/featured/ceos-you-should-know-mansfield/content/2021-02-20-ceo-you-should-know-cameron-haring
Because Robinhood makes money by selling order flow, it will always place the needs and priorities of the companies that pay for that order flow over the needs and wants of its users. Addressing this problems will give rise to a new batch of fintechs who will position themselves as “anti-Robinhoods”—firms dedicated to improving everyday retail investors’ knowledge of (and experience with) investing, and with business models that avoid the conflicts inherent in Robinhood’s model.
A good example of an anti-Robinhood is Wizest. The app enables investors to copy the portfolios of investment experts, and use a free simulator to virtually invest risk-free. As the platform attracts more investors, it will attract more experts, improving the portfolios available to investors.
Commenting on the recent GameStop frenzy—in which traders belonging to Reddit sub-user group called WallStreetBets bid up the retailer’s stock price to of the retailer to spite a hedge fund that was shorting the stock—Jennifer Tescher, CEO of Financial Health Network, recently wrote:“ When a crusading group of retail traders bid up the price of GameStop shares, the target was Wall Street. They also unknowingly squeezed Robinhood. The volatility of GameStop trading led [Robinhood’s] clearinghouse to increase deposit requirements tenfold, and Robinhood blocked trading of GameStop stock while it scrambled to raise additional capital from its venture capital backers.” The squeeze on Robinhood was unintentional—but it wasn’t unpredictable. Investors with a strong understanding of the financial system could (and should) have put the links in the chain together and foreseen the situation that Robinhood found itself in.
Follow the Money
In the movie All The President's Men, Woodward and Bernstein meet their informant in a parking garage who tells them: "Follow the money." In Robinhood’s case the money flows from Citadel Management to Robinhood, not from Robinhood users to Robinhood. It’s popular to say that its users are Robinhood’s product, but that’s not really accurate. Users’ data is the product. Citadel doesn’t care who’s trading, it cares about what they trade, so they can front-run those trades.
You Get The Behavior You Pay For
I had a colleague who used to say, “you get the behavior you pay for.” Translation: Look at how people get paid and you’ll have a good idea how they’ll behave. It’s no different with organizations. In the first half of 2020, Robinhood reaped $271 million in revenue for selling its order flow, more than twice as much as Charles Schwab and 40% more than E-Trade.
Payment for Order Flow
This is no secret. So then why would so many Robinhood users use the platform if they knew the company was selling their data in a way in which it could hurt them? There’s only one answer: Ignorance.
The Two Problems That Need to Be Fixed
Successfully addressing this “situation” needs to start with a clear—and agreed upon—definition of the problem (it’s that “agreed upon” part that will end up prohibiting any proposed solutions or actions from ultimately being successful).If you define the problem as “greed,” then good luck fixing that. If you define the problem as “power,” you’re not going to get a satisfactory solution, either. I’ll propose two other “problems” to solve for: 1) Retail investor knowledge; and 2) Business model alignment.
Problem #1: Amateurs vs. Professionals
It’s easy to place the blame for the debacle on greedy hedge funds and institutional traders. But how many Robinhood users: Understand the implications of having a margin account? Know who the DTCC and OCC are and what they do? Can explain what T+2 settlement means? You could argue that the majority of retail investors don’t need to know this and you’d be right. But Robinhood users—and others who trade on margin accounts—need to know. The GameStop/Reddit situation started as a contest of semi-pros vs. professionals. It’s hard to characterize as “everyday retail investors.” Their experience and level of knowledge far exceeds the average retail investor. When those “average retail investors” glom on to a gold rush, someone is bound to come up empty-handed, and it’s going to be those everyday retail investors. This isn’t about the “power” of big bad firms. It’s about the knowledge they have as professionals. My proposal: There needs to be a “speed bump” before everyday investors get into these situations. Retail investors trading options or opening margin accounts should be required to pass (and pay for) a certification test to prove they understand the “system.”
Problem #2: Alignment
The other side of the problem coin is alignment—namely, stakeholder alignment and alignment between what a company says and what it does. Robinhood has been on my list of losers in fintech for the past two years, in part because there’s no alignment in its business model and advertising. The digital brokerage talks about “democratizing finance for all.” If it’s actually doing that, then I need to re-learn the definition of “democratize.” Because Robinhood makes money by selling order flow, it will always place the needs and priorities of the companies that pay for that order flow over the needs and wants of its users.And in today’s society, it’s not good enough to satisfy shareholders—companies needs to satisfy stakeholders. Robinhood clearly didn’t do that during the GameStop debacle. Some people think it took Robinhood 24 hours to ruin its brand. I’d argue it’s been shooting its brand in the foot for the past three years. These problems won’t result in Robinhood going away. They should, however, help shrink Robinhood’s active user base down to investors who understand the system and are willing (and able) to tolerate the risks inherent in the firm’s business model.
The Rise of the Anti-Robinhoods
Addressing these problems will give rise to a new batch of fintechs who will position themselves as “anti-Robinhoods”—firms dedicated to improving everyday retail investors’ knowledge of (and experience with) investing, and with business models that avoid the conflicts inherent in Robinhood’s model. You might argue that many of the robo-advisors that have emerged over the past decade are doing that. I’d argue against you. Robo-advisors cater to newer investors who want to turn over the decision-making of their portfolio to an “expert.” In the case of robo-advisors, the algorithm is the expert. There are really three segments of retail investors: 1) Do-It-Yourselfers (DIYers e.g., Robinhood users); 2) Delegators (e.g., robo-advisor users); and 3) Collaborators.Collaborators are investors who want input and guidance on making investment decisions, can’t (or won’t) do it all themselves, and don’t want to delegate decisions to a black box. This will open the door to anti-Robinhood fintechs to fill the void in serving the Collaborators.
An Example of an Anti-Robinhood
A good example of an anti-Robinhood is Wizest.The app enables investors to copy the portfolios of investment experts, and use a free simulator to virtually invest risk-free. As the platform attracts more investors, it will attract more experts, improving the portfolios available to investors. Another interesting feature of the app is its financial feed, which creates an ongoing discussion between users on the same expert’s team, or between users and experts with similar investing interests.For investors with $25,000 in their portfolio, trading $10,000 over the course of the year, total fees (paid to Wizest) would come to less than $15 a month. Clearing the Ethics BarJen Tescher states in her article:“Fintechs pride themselves on putting the customer at the center when designing products and building experiences, and relative to traditional banks they do this extremely well. But great UX doesn’t guarantee great customer outcomes. ”Nor does it guarantee superior ethics. The anti-Robinhoods have an opportunity to wake us up.
Mark Hess is the owner of Hess Industries, a 2016 graduate of Braintree, and current member of the board of directors. WMAN's Aaron Hines interviewed him for the podcast "A CEO You Should Know."
Hess Industries has now been in business for more than 20 years and has recently begun an expansion.
Read more: Braintree graduate and board member Mark Hess featured on "CEOs You Should Know," on iHeart Radio. URL: https://www.iheart.com/podcast/269-ceos-you-should-know-mansf-71468740/?keyid%5B0%5D=CEOs%20You%20Should%20Know%20-%20Mansfield&pname=podcast_profile&sc=widget_share
Richland Area Chamber & Economic Development has announced DRM Productions 2020 Small Business of the Year Award winner in the 14-and-under employees category. DRM has been a client in Braintree's Scaleup Assistance Program funded by the Richland County Foundation, and CEO Jay Miller is a current Braintree board member.
Debt Recovery Solutions of Ohio won the honor of the 15-and-more employee category on Wednesday. The winner for the 14-and-less employee category was DRM Productions Inc. The awards ceremony was hosted by the Richland Area Chamber and Economic Development and live-streamed on its Facebook page due to the pandemic. Chamber President and CEO Jodie Perry said DRS of Ohio takes great care of its employees and is actively involved in the community. The company has prospered in the area for nearly 20 years and “shown no signs of slowing down.” Shambre, president of DRS of Ohio, had tears in her eyes while accepting the award. Shambre said said she and Bethany Robertson, the company’s vice president, and have worked hard to build the business. It took them seven years to begin making a profit.“It's not easy to start a small business. But you know what? My mother always told me: reach for the stars … Today, we became a star,” Shambre said.The debt collection agency trains employees daily to make sure they have the knowledge to do the work correctly and in a diplomatic way, Shambre said. They also have game days during the week to motivate the collectors to stay on task.
DRM is a communications company that provides digital services ranging from video production to virtual reality. Chief executive officer Jay Miller said clients come in with new ideas and the team takes on the challenge to figure out the best solution. Jay Miller, CEO of DRM Productions Inc. The office environment at DRM is full of fun. Miller said there are board game days and Ping-Pong tournaments to help everyone relax. Some staff members take their dogs to work, too. The pandemic dramatically changed clients’ needs, Miller said, pushing the 14-person team to its limit. But they have managed it and produced 22 videos about local nonprofits’ efforts in the global crisis. He also said it's DRM’s honor to “scream from the mountaintops all the good things going on in this community. ”“If you guys keep being awesome, we'll keep yelling from the mountaintops and we'll eventually let the whole world know,” Miller said. Perry said the chamber received a record 92 nominations of small businesses and nonprofits this year.
Read more: DRM Productions, a Braintree Scale-up client, wins Small Business of the Year Award URL: https://www.richlandsource.com/business/debt-recovery-solutions-of-ohio-drm-productions-inc-win-small-business-of-the-year-awards/article_63affc0a-3fe6-11eb-ac5e-6be8570a309e.html
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