May was Small Business Month. Dell celebrated with a four-part small business series. Check out the other three posts here:How to Know When Your Small Business is Ready for a ServerVirtual Reality Revolutionizes Small Business LandscapeWhat is Stumping Small Businesses in their IT JourneyWelcome back for my last installment in our Small Business Month series.After months and months of planning, this May the Dell for Small Business team unveiled our “More than a PC” campaign. This campaign has a new focus!The ads feature real-life small biz customer, Skai Blue Media, with founder/ CEO, Rakia Reynolds at the helm of her fourteen-person team.Co-starring in the new campaign is Mario Delapena, a real-life Dell employee. In fact, Delapena manages Reynolds’ companies account. In her words, “Mario has become like an extension of our Skai Blue Media team.”Me, Erik Day (left) with Mario Delapena (right) – one of my team members who is featured in the latest Dell for Small Business ad campaign.As the VP of Small Business, I oversee two hubs of small business sales advisors – one in Nashville, TN and one in Austin, TX. It is exciting to hear stories like that of Skai Blue Media and Mario.If you know me, you also know I am somewhat of a politics aficionado. Because of my affinity for public policy, I know small businesses are our countries economic backbone. We NEED small businesses to succeed so that ultimately our economy can prosper. One of the biggest challenges to small business success is picking the right IT. I am going to solve that challenge!That is why relationships like Skai Blue Media and Delapena are important. I want more small businesses to have dedicated technology sales advisors like Delapena to help them overcome or avoid altogether one of the most common impediments to small business success.Click here or call 1-800-BUY-DELL to find out how to get an IT sales advisor like Delapena.“…relationships like Skai Blue Media and Delapena are so important.ShareI did a Q&A with Delapena to find out about his newfound fame and see if that fame is going to his head!Mario DeLapena posing next to a poster of himself in the new Dell for Small Business national ad campaign.Erik: What did you think when you were picked to be in the national ad campaign?Mario: I thought, “It’s about time!” Just kidding! I felt honored. So many people attended the internal casting call on Dell’s campus. I didn’t think I would be the “chosen one”.When they told me it was going to be EVERYWHERE, I thought I had better call my family. I have been the first in my family to do many things. I called my mom and, sure enough, she was definitely more excited than I was.“My mom was more excited than me.ShareE: How long have you worked for Dell? Ok. I know how long you’ve worked here but for your fans…M: Just over two years. I was a university recruit from Texas Tech University.E: Why are you passionate about small businesses?M: It’s pretty cool to work with startups and small companies. You get involved with the people and build relationships and really friendships.“You get involved with the people and build relationships and really friendships.ShareIt’s also pretty cool to watch those friends as they build and grow their companies. I see transformations from when I first start working with a small business to where they are now.The small business team at Dell has an infectious passion for bettering the small business world. As a leader on our team, I treat my job as if I am running my own SB, which, as any small business owner (SBO) will tell you, means I wear many hats. It also means I’m close to the action and the daily highs and lows of a business’s journey.E: What is your favorite part of your job? Besides working for me of course?M: I love the people I work with! There’s an idea that working in a corporate environment is stuffy and means you won’t like who you work with or can’t have fun at work. My experience is the exact opposite.My teammates here in the Austin, Texas office love to have fun. They also love to succeed, which makes for great competition (mostly friendly – HA!) and a readiness to celebrate each other’s victories.E: I know you are not forgetting the Nashville, TN teammates, right (nudge nudge)?M: Right! The Nashville team is awesome. I should visit them more. Will you send me to Nashville?E: NEXT QUESTION! What is the biggest IT challenge for small biz that your clients are telling you about right now?M: Preparing or reacting to this new age of technology, namely ransomware and cloud storage. Most SB’s do not have a dedicated IT department – and sometimes not even a dedicated IT PERSON. Therefore, IT decision making can be a side thought (or worse, an afterthought).Technology in this new age can be overwhelming. When you have no IT department, you’re hearing words like “ransomware” and “cloud storage” and you’re strapped for time because… DUH, you’re running a business. This causes some SBOs to dive into data security and cloud and more without a complete knowledge of what will work for their unique business.That’s where I come in. With Rakia and her team for example, I not only advise them on tech to buy, I help educate them on the best pathways to improve their IT space. Rakia and the rest of Skai Blue Media are fun to work with and it’s fulfilling to see how far their IT acumen has come over their years as a Dell customer.E: So, Is it weird seeing yourself on TV and in magazines?M: I have never been on TV before, but in my daydreams, I’ve always felt I might end up doing something like this. Not that I am destined for stardom and don’t look for me on the Hollywood walk of fame.Of course, the age of the meme makes it even better. My friends send me pictures of myself on TV or screenshots of the ads with hilarious captions so they are making memes of me. I get at least one per day. It’s become a thing.“My friends send me pictures of myself on TV or screenshots of the ads with hilarious captions so basically they are making memes of me.ShareE: If you could give one piece of advice to small businesses making IT decisions, what would it be?M: Even when it’s hard and you have a million other things on your plate, be proactive about IT. Rakia will tell you that I preach that to my customers all the time.I don’t want you to be the client who comes to me completely frazzled because something broke or something bad happened at a critical moment for his/her business (though I will still be glad to help you then).You want to be thinking about what comes next– or having your Dell small business sales advisor think about that for you – that’s where you want to be. Many people think it’s pricey to be proactive about IT. It’s true that it can require more of an initial investment than if you fly by the seat of your pants in IT decision making. But I have seen time and again, that those dollars come back around in the long term.Delapena appears in the new Dell for Small Business ad campaign, which includes video, print, billboards and more!You can get your own small business IT sales advisor by going to our website here or by calling 1-800-BUY-DELL.
Vermont s largest electric company has won the industry s highest honor for storm recovery for the second time.CVPS President Bob Young today was presented the Edison Electric Institute s 2008 Emergency Recovery Award for the company s response to an historic ice storm in December. The company s preemptive planning led to the restoration of service to more than 70 percent of affected customers after just one day, and complete restoration within a week. CVPS is the smallest company to ever receive the honor which it won for the second straight year. This is a tribute to the selflessness of our employees, the quality of our planning and the urgency of our response, Young said. After we won the award for our response to the 2007 Nor icane, we never expected to face such devastation again, but December s ice storm brought tremendous challenges. Employees single-minded focus on our customers turned what could have been one of our darkest hours into one of our finest, Young said. Many employees lives were relegated to working, sleeping and eating throughout our recovery and then many of them volunteered to go to New Hampshire to help out there. We are blessed to have some of the finest workers in the industry.The ice storm wreaked unprecedented damage in southern and eastern Vermont, knocking down thousands of trees and power lines, along with cell service and radio communications. CVPS marshaled all of its resources and brought in contractors and mutual aid from Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and Ontario, Canada.CVPS, which has 95 line workers, nearly tripled the number of line crews, bringing in 170 outside line workers, 150 tree workers and 75 other outside workers. It required a massive logistics effort to supply, feed, supervise, organize and house them. Hundreds of other CVPS employees provided support.John teRiele, CVPS s director of transmission and distribution, praised other utilities and state and local officials for their assistance, which he called invaluable. Everyone we asked for help provided it, he said. Vermont Electric Cooperative was particularly helpful, sending some of their crews, procuring staff from northern municipal utilities that were unaffected, and covering for them with skeleton crews left behind.Scott Massie, who manages CVPS s central scheduling office, said the restoration effort, though complex and difficult, was made easier by an outpouring of support from customers. The amount of damage and the rural nature of the hardest-hit areas were daunting, Massie said. But customers, through calls, letters and personal support, reminded us why we do what we do for a living.Dave Miller, operations supervisor for CVPS s Brattleboro District, which includes the rural towns of Readsboro, Marlboro, Dover and surrounding towns which were among the hardest hit welcomed the storm award, but hopes its CVPS s last. I m proud of how we responded, but I hope I never see such devastation again, Miller said. It is really no surprise that CVPS earned accolades from the Edison Electric Institute for a second year in a row. With its exemplary storm response and safety record, Vermont s largest electric utility has long been the envy of the industry, said International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 300 Business Manager Jeffrey Wimette. Our union is very proud to have 216 members working for CVPS. This award is a wonderful example of labor and management cooperatively fostering a workforce that takes customer service and the success of the company very seriously.The EEI Emergency Recovery Award is presented annually. Winners are selected based on the ability to respond swiftly and efficiently, overcome difficult circumstances, utilize unique or innovative techniques, communicate effectively with customers, and restore service promptly. A panel of judges selected CVPS following an international nomination process.Final statistics from the December storm include:CVPS s repair costs totaled an estimated $5.1 million, a CVPS record, surpassing the 2007 nor icane.49,100 customers were affected.42.7 percent of CVPS customers lost service in the Royalton District, 62.7 percent in the Brattleboro District and 70 percent in the Springfield District.60 of 105 distribution feeders were affected.120 poles were broken.Employees and contractors worked an estimated 75,000 man-hours to restore service.
The USC baseball team will continue its quest for a Pac-12 title this weekend when it travels to Oregon State to face the Beavers.The Trojans (29-10, 10-5 Pac-12) will be well-rested going into the series, as they did not have a game on Tuesday after facing the Oregon Ducks last weekend.Though the Ducks gave USC some trouble, the Trojans were able to win the series in convincing fashion.On Friday, starting pitcher Brent Wheatley put the team in an early hole, allowing four runs in the first inning.USC responded quickly, however, by putting up three runs of their own in the bottom half of the frame.Wheatley settled down after his rough first inning and did not allow another run until he was pulled with two outs in the top of the fourth.The Trojan offense exploded in the bottom of the fourth, forcing a bases-loaded walk to tie the game.With the game tied at four runs apiece, junior Timmy Robinson put the Trojans ahead for good with his first collegiate grand slam.The Ducks went on to score one more run, but the Trojans tacked on five more of their own and won the contest 13-5.Saturday did not go quite so well for the Trojans, however, as they were unable to climb out of another early deficit.After only two innings, USC was down 7-0 as starter Kyle Twomey and the defense behind him were uncharacteristically shaky.Before the Trojans could even get on the board, the Ducks added two more runs to lead 9-0 going into the bottom of the sixth inning.By then, the game was in hand for Oregon, and the Ducks went on to tie the series with a 15-4 victory.But USC would not let Oregon leave Los Angeles with a series victory, as starter Mitch Hart dominated the Ducks in the rubber match of the weekend series.The freshman pitcher hurled six innings and gave up only one run.Oregon got ahead early yet again, as Jakob Goldfarb jumped on Hart’s first pitch of the ball game, sending it over the outfield fence for a lead-off home run. Hart settled in nicely, however, striking out eight over the next six innings.The Trojans backed Hart with four runs in the first four innings, providing more than enough support for the young right-hander.After Hart left the game, though, reliever Marc Huberman gave up two runs in the top of the seventh to bring the Ducks within striking distance, 4-3. But USC responded quickly, adding two runs in the seventh and another in the eighth to put the game out of reach for the Ducks.Head coach Dan Hubbs said the series was a testament to his team’s ability to overcome adversity.“We know every team in our league is good and every game is going to be a dogfight,” Hubbs said.“We’ve shown the ability to win a game 2-0, and we’ve shown the ability to win a game 10-8. Whatever we have to do to win the game that day is what we have to do, and the kids have been real resilient with that. And they’ve been relentless at trying to win every game, and I don’t expect that to change.”Looking ahead, the Trojans face yet another tough test as they travel to Corvallis, Oregon, to play the Beavers at Goss Stadium. Oregon State (25-12, 8-7 Pac-12) has struggled a bit through conference play but has dominated at home, boasting a 16-3 record there this season.Hubbs said that the typically wet weather in Oregon is especially hard to hit in, and he attributes the Beavers’ success at home to both their ability to adapt to the cold and their strong fan support.“They get good crowds, so it’s hard to lay an egg when you’re at home … but it’s a tougher place to hit, and they can really pitch,” Hubbs said.“We’re going to have to have good at bats, and we’re going to have to pitch well because they always have good energy in the stadium, and it’s supposed to be a little wet this weekend, so it’ll be tougher hitting conditions,” Hubbs said. “We’ll just have to overcome it, kind of like we did in Seattle. I’m confident if we do what we’re capable of doing, we’ll find ways to win ballgames.”The Beavers have had a rough stretch of late — losing five of their last nine games -— but they are coming off a series win against Arizona last weekend. With some momentum going into the series against the Trojans, the Beavers may have some added confidence against one of the best teams in the conference.Hubbs said his team doesn’t worry about what other teams are doing, however, as they’re focused on playing their best every day to get this program back to being a perennial national title contender.“We really turned a corner in the second half of last year where they really started to believe they could win, and win big. But when we didn’t make it into the tournament last year, it lit another fire under them,” Hubbs said.“They really came out this season with a sense of, ‘Hey, we’re not going to let that happen again, we’re not going to leave it up to chance, and we’ll just pound our way through’.”Nevertheless, wins will not come easy this weekend. Oregon State has a solid offense this season, but their best player may very well be one of their pitchers, right-handed starter Andrew Moore, who has dazzled this season.Moore has a 4-1 record with a 1.40 ERA, and he has gotten better as the season has progressed, posting an otherworldly 3-0 record with a 0.68 ERA in 40 innings of conference play. He is set to start the series opener on Friday.Hubbs said the series might come down to the Trojans’ ability to beat the other two starters in the Beavers’ rotation, but he believes USC is still more than capable of beating Moore.“We’re going to go out and give our best effort to beat Moore, but we have to pitch really well because if we give up a bunch of runs, we’ll lose that game,” Hubbs said.“I think winning whatever games we’re capable of winning is what we need to focus on. I don’t think we’ll focus on [the other two starters] until we get through [Moore] on Friday. From now on, every win is important, so I think we’re just going out there and focusing on that.”