Alber Enterprise Center (2016)

2016 County Highlights
Alber Enterprise Center
1461 Mt Vernon Ave 200 Maynard Hall Marion, OH 43302
Phone: 740-725-6325
Job Skills and Careers

Ohioans are becoming more effective leaders, thanks to the Alber Enterprise Center in collaboration with five other departments at The Ohio State University. The Inaugural Leadership Summit was held in October 2016, with Jim Kouzes as the featured speaker. Kouzes, co-author of The Leadership Challenge, is noted by the Wall Street Journal as “one of the 12 best executive educators in the United States.” Community members joined Ohio State students, faculty, staff and administrators in sessions on the concept of leadership, providing knowledge, tools and insights into becoming a more effective leader. A leadership panel, comprised of both university and community leaders, shared their insights and expertise about leadership and the importance of applying leadership skills every day, on and off the job. Dr. Roger Rennekamp, director of OSU Extension, said, “The leadership lessons shared by Jim Kouzes were fantastic, and the panel discussion after lunch truly helped round out the day with real-life insights from several local key leaders. It was quite the panel of experts.” Feedback from the day-long program was extremely positive. One attendee wrote, “The level of learning leadership was very high, in my opinion. Both Jim in the morning session and the leadership panel in the afternoon provided great insights.” Plans are under way for a Leadership Summit 2.0 in 2017.

Leadership was also the focus of the LEADS (Leadership, Education, Achievement, Development, Success) program, which was developed and delivered by Alber Enterprise Center for United Church Homes, which serves 4,000 long-term care residents (including Ohio), and has its national headquarters in Marion Ohio.

The long-term goal of LEADS is to help build “career ladder opportunities” within United Church Homes, so employees find long, satisfying and rewarding careers within the organization. A second LEADS goal is to increase job satisfaction and improve employee retention – two factors which also impact an organization’s bottom line. A Gallup poll of more than 1 million employed U.S. workers concluded that the number one reason people quit their jobs is a bad boss or immediate supervisor. Gallup also determined that poorly managed work groups are, on average, 50 percent less productive and 44 percent less profitable than well-managed groups.

By improving leadership and other skills among mid-level managers, employee satisfaction and retention should improve, ultimately improving the care provided to long-term care residents not only in Ohio, but the other 13 states that United Church Homes serves. “The long-term care services and support industry isn’t necessarily attractive to younger professionals,” explains Rev. Kenneth Daniel, president and CEO of United Church Homes. “LEADS is enabling us to talk about things like values and skills development so new managers coming up through the ranks can find a home in our industry. It’s a way for us to groom talent internally – and it is working. We are so fortunate to be partnering with the Alber Enterprise Center.”

Ver-Mac Industries, Inc., a central Ohio (Knox County) manufacturer of sign wire products, credits the Alber Enterprise Center for helping it move from a “higher purpose” industry to “higher performance.” After Ver-Mac adopted the higher performance initiative, its executive leadership partnered with Alber Enterprise Center to help implement the initiative within the entire organization.

Ver-Mac’s vice president/general manager served as the main influencer of the initiative’s success and partnered with Alber Enterprise Center to help implement it his leadership team. Goals included: enhancing decision making through an objective sounding board, influencing higher levels of employee performance and developing key personnel, planning for business objectives/key performance indicators (KPIs), and communicating KPIs to employees with appropriate follow-up.

To achieve these goals, Ver-Mac’s vice president/general manager participated in confidential coaching sessions for 12 months, monthly observations, as well as the Gallup StrengthsFinder assessment, provided by solution partners of the Alber Enterprise Center. Following successful completion, Ver-Mac’s leadership requested that the Center use the same process involving two of his direct reports to continue the process of moving toward a “higher performance” organization and successfully grow into the 21st century.

Thriving Across the Life Span

The need to develop and retain effective frontline supervisors in Ohio’s ever-growing long-term care industry is more critical than ever. The U.S. Census Bureau states, “By 2030, the number of Americans aged 65 years and older is projected to exceed 70 million, representing 20 percent of the population” (2012). The Institute of Medicine projects that the United States will need an additional 3.5 million long-term health care workers by 2030 to simply maintain the ratio of workers per older U.S. resident (2008). By 2050, there is a 40 percent chance that someone who is 65 years old will likely live to age 90 (Experience Corps, 2010).

To avoid a workplace shortage and encourage Ohioans to obtain careers and/or advance their profession in this industry, Alber Enterprise Center developed a frontline supervisor leadership workshop, followed by three team coaching sessions. The pilot program was conducted with a group of 40 frontline supervisors from United Church Homes, an organization which serves more than 4,000 long-term care residents in 14 states, including Ohio. United Church Homes’ national headquarters are based in Marion, Ohio. This group also completed the Gallup StrengthsFinder® assessment, which measures an individual’s top five strengths, from a list of 34 strengths. Completing this assessment offered these frontline supervisors the ability to identify their top five strengths, gain a greater understanding of them and maximize the use of their strengths working with their staff, thus making them more effective leaders.

Post-workshop surveys indicate that this group integrated their top five strengths into their work on a regular basis (average ranking of 7.3 on a scale of 1-10, with 10 high). Similar positive results were also reported in improved communication with their team members, encouraging innovation, treating others with dignity and respect, follow-through and recognizing accomplishments. According to Rev. Kenneth Daniel, president and CEO of United Church Homes, “The Alber Enterprise Center is the perfect partner for this project. They have great resources for workforce development and are a strategic talent development partner for this project.”

Alber Enterprise Center continues to focus on long-term care; and as a result, the Center was awarded an OSU Cares seed grant beginning in fall 2016. This grant will provide funding that will enable the development of an Elder Care Certificate (E.C.C.). This will create a pathway for direct-care employees (e.g. dining, housekeeping, maintenance) to gain certification of their expertise in working with elders. A specific set of courses will be offered to a pilot group of 20 employees from four long-term care organizations over the next eight months. Collaboration with Ohio State’s Office of Geriatrics and Interprofessional Aging Studies, along with LeadingAge Ohio, the not-for-profit trade assocation for long-term services and supports, will ensure that the grant is offering the necessary training and skills that will assist frontline workers in caring for Ohio’s elders.

Engaged Ohioans, Vibrant Communities

A small, yet vital Ashland County employer and community pillar will “keep on truckin’” for years to come, thanks to the Alber Enterprise Center. Founded in 1972, Cowen Truck Line, Inc. is an independently owned and operated carrier serving 48 states and Canada. Earlier this year, Cowen officials approached the Alber Enterprise Center with a challenge: “In this highly competitive industry, where will we be in the next 40 years and how will we get there?”

To begin the process of developing an effective strategic plan, the Alber Enterprise Center used its proprietary program, The BRIDGE: Begin→ Reflect→ Identify→ Design→ Go→ Evaluate. This systematic, issue management process is used to point to hidden challenges, provide a clear vision for complex issues, build problem-solving/teamwork skills/cultural thinking, and engage all stakeholders, while providing direction in a short timeframe. As a result, Cowen was able to create the foundation to craft a strategic plan to move into the next 40 years.

Later in 2016, Cowen partnered again with Alber Enterprise Center to develop an organization-wide culture assessment. This time, Alber used another of its proprietary programs, LEADin, to discover Cowen’s leadership strengths and level of organization excellence. LEADin involves: 1) utilizing Gallup’s StrengthsFinder®, 2) implementation of the Denison Organizational Culture Model to determine Cowen’s level of adaptability, mission, consistency, and involvement; and 3) a workshop to share results and develop a plan to move the organization toward even higher levels of excellence. Cowen Truck Line touted the results of the partnership with Alber Enterprise Center: “They gave us another tool to seek the competitive advantage,” said Anne Cowen, special projects coordinator. “They helped us be creative in our thinking, look honestly and in-depth at our company, and really define where we wanted to go in the next 40 years. I’d certainly recommend them.” Since its partnership with Alber, Cowen Truck Line has experienced a 3 percent increase in sales (year-to-year), the hiring of 19 truck drivers (79 percent of goal), and improved driver communication.

Alber Enterprise Center receives $5,000 in gifts and grants to magnify the impact of federal, state and local funding and partner with citizens, families and business owners to strengthen the lives and communities of all Ohioans. Visit for information about opportunities to support OSU Extension.