Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Tyler Schwendiman building Hitt Road insurance office

Tyler Schwendiman anticipates having his Insure It All building on Hitt Road finished by November.
I've gotten a few questions about the project happening on Hitt Road just north of Chuck-O-Rama. No it is not a new restaurant, it is the new 7,973-square-foot office Tyler Schwendiman is building for his Insure It All agency.

In business for 12 years, Schwendiman and his 15 employees are under two separate roofs and running out of room at that. The building, which he anticipates having finished by November, will put everybody under one roof with room to expand. Schwendiman said he anticipates adding seven more employees after the building is finished.

The new location, at 919 S. 25th East, will also give him better visibility on a more-traveled road, and he said he plans to have a sign that will attract attention.

Schwendiman is an independent insurance agent dealing in property, auto, health and life insurance. His Web site is www.coveryourstuff.com.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Double Down Bar and Grill offers simulcast horse racing

Danielle Wilde, Steve Laflin and Rachelle Hunter at the Double Down Betting Bar and Grill, 3078 Outlet Boulevard.
Horse racing enthusiasts in the Idaho Falls area don't have to go to Sandy Downs anymore for simulcast betting. Double Down, which opened in July at 3078 Outlet Boulevard, is offering live simulcast betting in a facility that serves food and alcohol.

The business, formerly the One 16 Sports Bar and Grill, is being run by Steve and Dottie Laflin and their daughters, Rachelle Hunter and Danielle Wilde. The betting side is being run by Jim and Melissa Bernard, owners of Intermountain Racing and Entertainment.

Laflin, CEO of International Isotopes, said they had no interest in running a regular restaurant, but that the simulcast element made the proposal attractive to them.

Betting on horses in Idaho has been legal since 1963, and the Legislature authorized simulcasting in 1990. Before July 2011, however, simulcasting was only allowed at live horse racing facilities -- Sandy Downs in Bonneville County's case. That year, the Legislature passed a bill allowing simulcast horse betting from other venues, supporters arguing that off-track locations could provide a better atmosphere, food and other incentives to attract paying customers. The 2011 bill did not allow new simulcast betting venues to be set up, but instead allowed operations like the Bernards' to move.

Pari-mutuel betting is a system under which all bets are pooled together. Once the outcome of an event is determined, winning betters are paid out of the pool. The idea is that a wagerer has a better chance of getting a better return.

This past session, the Legislature approved HB220, allowing pari-mutuel betting on historical horse races. Laflin said they anticipate having 50 historical race machines installed by November. So if you want to bet on a race at Aqueduct that happened in 1996, this will allow you to.

In Idaho, proceeds from simulcast pari-mutuel betting go to youth programs run by the Idaho Horse Board and the Robert R. Lee Promise Scholarship program, which annually awards 25 scholarships to students attending state colleges and universities. The remaining funds are distributed by the Idaho State Racing Commission to improve horse racing in the state.

Idaho Falls firm makes CNBC's top 100 list for fee-only wealth management

Onyx Financial Advisors (from left): John Parry, Aaron Sautter, Lyndsay Goody, Ken Simpson and Terry Roe.
Onyx Financial Advisors, an Idaho Falls company that was started in 2005 by Ken Simpson, John Parry and Terry Roe, has been recognized by CNBC as one to the top 100 fee-only wealth management companies in the United States.

Coming  in at No. 99, Onyx was the only Idaho company to make the cut. Companies were chosen based on a number of criteria, including:

Professional designations on staff (CFP, CFA, CPA or PFS)
Relations with third-party professionals such as attorneys or CPAs
Growth of assets
Years in business
Assets under management

Firms were also evaluated based on any regulatory actions by the SEC, FINRA, state regulators, and state insurance commissioners, and could not have had any reported complaints, actions or disclosures.

Here is a link to the full CNBC story: http://www.cnbc.com/id/101619698

Friday, August 1, 2014

Downtown Shabby opens on B Street

Jamie Casella, left, and Aubree Gardner, owners of Downtown Shabby.
Downtown's newest addition is Downtown Shabby, 348 B Street, specializing in refinished furniture, picture frames, and decorative items too unique and funky to describe.

The store is being run by Jamie Casella and Aubree Gardner, who were at Morgan's Emporium until about a month ago, when they decided they wanted to be downtown.

The store features items from 14 different vendors. Although it's mostly furniture, the merchandise ranges all the way to kids' clothing.

Everything is tied together by Casella and Gardner's gift for presentation. The inside, formerly an accounting office, has been done up in a very Pinterest way. "We dated a cohesive, boutique feel," Casella said. "A lot of people like this kind of stuff."

Hours are Wednesday from 1 to 7 p.m. and Thursday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, call Casella at 206-7268 or Gardner at 201-2823. And of course you can check them out -- even like them -- on Facebook right here.

Holding back the money: Are employers paying employees what they're worth?

Interviews are so much fun aren’t they? Aside from all the grueling questions designed to determine your skill set, personality, knowledge, education and behavior patterns, one remaining question always seems to be the hardest to answer.

This question makes candidates tense up, breath harder, stammer barely audible responses and maybe even break out into a sweat. What question could be so terrifying it encourages such awkward and tense responses?

Pretty simple: How much would you like to get paid?

In defense of anyone who has ever applied for a job, this is one of the worst questions to navigate an intelligent and fair response to – ensuring you don’t respond with too high or too low a figure
without knowledge of what the position pays.

From an employer’s side, if candidates respond with a figure lower than what the position typically pays, most employers feel this is a rare treat to be able to pay someone under budget for a position. On the other hand, if a candidate asks for a figure too high usually this means there will be some serious negotiations or the candidate will not be considered.

So if this question has ever stumped you, coming from the other side, you aren’t alone and there are many others who share your pain, including employers trying to negotiate fair rates in many cases.

Anyone who has successfully completed an interview and landed a job more than likely succeeded in answering this question, or possibly was told the starting rate and you agreed to it.

However, after a few conversations with your co-workers who have inappropriately shared what they make every other week. So now you know what your co-worker makes. Maybe it’s more than you or maybe it’s less, but nevertheless it has you wondering whether you getting paid what you are worth.

A word to the wise on sharing salary information. Most companies have policies regarding confidentiality of wages, so this would not be a practice I would recommend ever.

Over the years as an employee I wondered and watched as the economy took its roller coaster of a ride to get to 2014. I have watched salary analysis through different Web sites, read statistics
through state agencies, and predicted at one time shortly after I relocated to Idaho Falls, that
I may have moved to the most underpaid city in the United States.

Then I read this great article by MSN Money this week identifying Idaho Falls as No. 1 in wage growth. Here’s the link http://t.money.msn.com/investing/5-cities-where-wages-are-
soaring#tscptmf. This is no joke.

Keep in mind this article specifically cites statistics related to increase of weekly earnings in conjunction to unemployment rates locally – so there isn’t an MSN Money investigative reporter actually working with local employers to determine who makes this list.

Does this mean employers are paying “market worth” to their employees in Idaho Falls and beyond? There’s not a simple answer to that question.

Economically, you have to remember that employees are resources for a company, subject to basic economic principles such as supply and demand and averaging pricing (wages). If an employer is not paying fairly or at least “market value” for the positions they have they are 1.) less likely to attract solid job applicants – in fact recruiting and hiring is probably a challenge for them -- and 2.) less likely to retain employees.

If there is less “supply” of a certain position or specialty in an area there is more “demand” for
people to fill those positions, which in turn means that market pricing doesn’t likely apply to these positions.

This is in turn means they can’t find people to perform the work that needs to be done and they can’t keep people in the company doing the work that needs to be done. This is a very costly way to operate, and most successful businesses see the financial feasibility and and value of paying market rates (or even above market rates) for their positions.

It also means that if you have a specialized skill set or education within certain industries, you are going to be making money like it is going out of style in contrast with your friends and family that don’t have that same education or skill set (think brain surgeons). Now this doesn’t necessarily mean that your employer is paying you fairly. If you question whether you are being paid fairly, I'll have more to say about it next week.

Monica Bitrick is the owner of Bitrick Consulting Group, a human resources consulting company in Idaho Falls.