Sunday, September 03, 2000

Small-business diary

Federal court enters fight to the death

By Jerry Langdon
Gannett News Service

        A federal court has ruled that entrepreneurs may once again sell discounted caskets to Tennessee consumers without having to secure a state-issued funeral director's license.

        Such sales were a crime in Tennessee and are still outlawed in at least 11 other states, according to the public interest law firm Institute for Justice in Washington, D.C.

        Last year it said the Tennessee Board of Funeral Directors and Embalmers (comprised of seven members, six of them licensed funeral directors) threatened two companies, Craigmiles Wilson Casket Supply in Chattanooga and The Casket Store in Knoxville, with fines and jail for selling caskets without a funeral director's license.

        “All we every wanted to do from the beginning was save consumers money by providing good service and good products,” said Angela Brent, one of the Knoxville firm's owners.

        Chief Judge R. Allen Edgar, ruling on a suit brought by the businessmen and the institute, said requiring individuals who sell caskets from retail locations to obtain a funeral director's license — which requires two years of training and the passage of a licensing exam — violated due process and equal protection clauses of the 14th Amendment.

        “There is no reason to require someone who sells what is essentially a box to undergo the time and expense of training and testing that has nothing to do with the state's asserted goals of consumer protection and health and safety,” he wrote in his opinion.

Got to work at finding workers
               With the strong competition for talent in today's marketplace, just placing an ad in the classifieds isn't sufficient anymore, says Susan H. Gebelein, senior vice president at Personnel Decisions International and author of the Successful Manager's Handbook.

        “Many of the most talented candidates aren't even looking for jobs,” she said.

        Among her tips for small businesses to identify new sources of talent:

        • Encourage employees to identify job candidates. Recognize and reward them when they offer a lead.

        • Sponsor research, speak at conferences, and involve yourself in standard-setting groups in your field to gain exposure to a wider field of potential employees.

        • Increase your organization's visibility as a top employer. Make sure the organization's products, advertising, employees and community involvement demonstrate the organization's values and culture to potential employees.

        • Identify colleges and universities that produce quality graduates in your field. Build relationships with alumni groups and placement officers at the institutions.

        • Actively participate in professional organizations that provide opportunities for you to meet talented professionals.


Shoppers grow weary of city's retail deficiency
Businessmen lack suitable quality, prices
Colorful fabrics hard to find
Selection miniscule in plus-size clothing
Be suspicious of work-at-home offers
Carving out a niche
Credit can be key to keeping, drawing customers
Information thefts create demand for investigators
Online security checkpoints prospering
- Small-business diary
Software opens Internet to the blind
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