Smethport Web — by Nathan Muller
Jeff Andrulonis, president and CEO of Colonial Radio Group, was the featured speaker at the 10th Annual Business Dinner held Thursday by the Smethport Area Chamber of Commerce. He encouraged business owners, government officials and community volunteers gathered at the American Legion hall to think differently to survive and grow during this slow economy.
Andrulonis cited a tendency that could spell trouble for businesses in Smethport and the rest of McKean County if carried to an extreme — saving rather than investing. “We can’t be so frugal that we save ourselves into bankruptcy and mediocrity.”
To help avoid this scenario, Andrulonis advised building value to stay competitive. This can be done by applying a SWOT analysis – Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats – so a business can learn where to focus its efforts to achieve the greatest impact.
“It is better to focus on your strengths and not worry so much about your weaknesses,” he said. “If you improve on your weaknesses, you still have mediocrity.”
He cited Kane Community Hospital as an example of a small rural medical facility that played to its strengths by investing in itself in recent years to offer “city medicine in the country”.
With the addition of new computer technology and high speed fiber optic connections, KCH has expanded its reach to more communities and to the medical expertise it needs. Now, the hospital can transmit huge CAT scan files in mere seconds to radiologists at larger hospitals, who are available 24 by 7, instead of forcing patients to drive 70 to 100 miles away for a time-critical diagnosis of heart attacks and strokes.
Andrulonis also outlined a “40 Under 40”program that he intends to launch that would identify 40 young entrepreneurs in McKean, Potter and Cattaraugus counties and matching them with mentors as they carry out their business plans. The mentoring program would greatly increase an entrepreneur’s chance for being funded by a “Junior Venture Capitalist” loan program in amounts of $1,000 to $5,000, and possibly more as key milestones are met.
With regard to attracting more businesses into the area, Andrulonis advised community leaders to get their “sales pitch” ready, which should include a discussion of local resources, including quality of life attributes that would lure potential employees to work here for those businesses. “If we do not promote our area, other competitors out there are ready to promote theirs.”