Study: Businesses Loosen the Purse Strings to Cover Travel Expenses

expensesThe new Business Travel Expense Trends survey has revealed some interesting insights about the spending habits of many U.S.-based organizations.

Certify, the world’s leading cloud-based expense report management software provider,  developed this survey featuring 137 North American companies. Fifty-eight percent of respondents spent more on travel in 2013 compared with their 2012 spending.

Travel expenses are known as one of the most common work-related tax deductions.  The Business Travel Expense Trends survey shows that businesses are demonstrating a little more flexibility in terms of their operational expenses. In 2014, 49 percent of all survey respondents said they plan to spend slightly more on travel expenses. Thirty percent said their expenses will remain the same. [Read more…]

Weathershield Reviews Impact Resistant Glass

Weathershield ReviewsThe Eastern Pacific and Atlantic hurricane seasons run from approximately the middle of May to the end of November every year. During this time, hundreds of thousands of homes are vulnerable to the effects of high winds and blowing debris. In this interview, Weathershield reviews the safety benefits of impact resistant glass and offers practical tips to keep your home safe.

A Gathering Of Experts: Thank you for joining us today.

Weathershield Reviews Team: We are glad to be here.

A Gathering Of Experts: Let’s get started. First, what are impact resistant windows?

Weathershield Reviews Team: Basically what the name implies – these are windows that are built with impact-resistant glass. In addition, a heavy duty frame keeps the window in place better than a standard frame. [Read more…]

Medical Reviews and Ratings Sites Expect Major Increases in 2014

Medical ReviewsThe Internet is transforming how medical practices go about their business.

In 2005, a mere 6 percent of physicians offered appointment scheduling online. Moving into 2014, approximately 20 percent of doctors’ offices provide the opportunity for patients to make appointment requests through online scheduling services or patient portal. However, 80 percent of consumers prefer booking their appointments over the phone, according to a recent Vitals Index report.

The increased availability of technology has made online scheduling an important element of consumer behavior. Just as the travel and entertainment industry has slowly moved towards online reservations, physicians will begin to do the same. The Internet offers patients the opportunity to schedule appointments at their convenience. Before people select a restaurant or hair salon, many access the Internet to read ratings and reviews in order to make a buying decision. That trend will continue in the medical industry for 2014. Physician ratings and reviews are expected to gain even more visibility over the next 12 months. In the same Vitals Index report, a majority of respondents said that 5-6 reviews can give an accurate assessment about quality of service. The most popular site for today’s online consumers is, with more than 3 million reviews to date. [Read more…]

Sandra Dyche Kim on the Benefits of Membership in AWIB

Sandra Dyche KimSandra Dyche Kim has personally experienced the many benefits of membership in Asian Women in Business (AWIB). Sandra Dyche Kim believes it’s a great resource for both networking and education for the Asian business community. Sandra Dyche Kim is frequently asked whether the organization is a valuable tool for Asian women in the New York City area. To help facilitate these questions, Sandra Dyche Kim recently spoke with A Gathering of Experts about AWIB membership.

A Gathering of Experts: Why should I join AWIB?

Sandra Dyche Kim: There are numerous benefits, including regular workshops and other opportunities to meet others in the business community. Whether you’re a small business owner or a working professional who simply wants to make valuable connections in the community, it’s a great way to accomplish those goals.

A Gathering of Experts: What if networking isn’t my goal?

Sandra Dyche Kim: AWIB has plenty of educational benefits for business professionals, including informational workshops. Some people attend simply to be around other Asian businesswomen in a supportive environment. We have an extensive resource library on our website geared toward helping female entrepreneurs succeed. [Read more…]

Robert Rehak of Rehak Creative Services on His Book of Chicago Uptown Photos

Rehak Creative ServicesRobert Rehak, founder of Rehak Creative Services, received an unexpected surprise recently when photos from the 1970s that he recently published online went viral. Before establishing Rehak Creative Services, Robert Rehak worked as a creative director at agencies in Chicago, Dallas and Houston. Below, he shares the unlikely story of how these compelling photos were “rediscovered.”

A Gathering of Experts: When did these photos gain a new life?

Robert Rehak, Rehak Creative Services: A woman named Joanne Asala, who resides in Chicago, is the editor of She stumbled across these photos when she Googled “Uptown images” and then requested permission to post a couple of them on her blog earlier this summer.

A Gathering of Experts: What drew her to these images?

Robert Rehak, Rehak Creative Services: Her blog focuses on the history of Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood. After she published a story about the images, other blogs like also found them. News of the images spread from there.

A Gathering of Experts: How would one describe the Uptown neighborhood?

Robert Rehak, Rehak Creative Services: In the 1920s, Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood had been a popular entertainment district for the city’s rich and famous. However, things had changed dramatically by the 1970s.

A Gathering of Experts: How so?

Robert Rehak, Rehak Creative Services: Uptown had become a crumbling ghetto for poverty- stricken residents of Chicago.

A Gathering of Experts: What’s the title of this book?

Robert Rehak, Rehak Creative Services: The working title is Uptown: Portrait of a Chicago Neighborhood in the Mid-1970s.

A Gathering of Experts: How will the book be structured?

Robert Rehak, Rehak Creative Services: The book will focus on the images from the 1970s, along with an introduction and captions that will put them into a historical perspective.

A Gathering of Experts: What’s the impetus behind publishing this book?

Robert Rehak, Rehak Creative Services: These photos depict a once-proud neighborhood that had hit rock bottom.

A Gathering of Experts: What’s the current status of the Uptown neighborhood?

Robert Rehak, Rehak Creative Services: It appears that Uptown is slowly bouncing back and once again developing into a more attractive area.

A Gathering of Experts: How much traffic was driven to your website?

Robert Rehak, Rehak Creative Services: Before this blog post, had welcomed around 100 visitors each day. Within 24 hours of this CompassRose post, traffic exploded to nearly 10,000 visitors.

A Gathering of Experts: Remarkable numbers.

Robert Rehak, Rehak Creative Services: Exactly. That’s more than 100 times the regular rate just from this one link.

A Gathering of Experts: Were there messages from former residents of Uptown?

Robert Rehak, Rehak Creative Services: Many site visitors who once lived in Uptown emailed to say how this photo portfolio brought back bittersweet memories of their time in the area. Some even inquired about purchasing prints.

A Gathering of Experts: Are they the main audience for this book?

Robert Rehak, Rehak Creative Services: They’re one of the main audiences. But the images have also interested people who live in Uptown today and want to learn more about its past.

A Gathering of Experts: Are there others?

Robert Rehak, Rehak Creative Services: Photographers, especially those who appreciate documentary photography, social activists, artists, urban planners. And people who are just plain interested in how such a great neighborhood could sink so low and defy the normal process of redevelopment.

A Gathering of Experts: Have readers of your blog volunteered any answers to that question?

Robert Rehak, Rehak Creative Services: Yes, the project has turned into sort of a collaborative history. Since word of the collection has spread, I get emails daily from people in the photographs.  They are providing information about how they came to Uptown and how Uptown affected their lives. They’re also helping to define the locations in the photos.

A Gathering of Experts: Why is that important?

Robert Rehak, Rehak Creative Services: There’s tremendous interest in seeing how things have changed. With precise locations, I’m able to link to Google Maps Street View in my blog.

A Gathering of Experts: Has your website sustained that initial interest?

Robert Rehak, Rehak Creative Services: Yes. Through daily updates we attracted more than 1.5 million hits in the first month since going viral.

A Gathering of Experts: What other lessons did you learn that might be applicable for Rehak Creative Services?

Robert Rehak, Rehak Creative Services: Content is king. Marketing communications professionals need to devote more time to creating quality content…

A Gathering of Experts: That makes sense.

Robert Rehak, Rehak Creative Services: Fresh and relevant content is what makes viral communication happen.

Based in Houston, Rehak Creative Services is an award-winning advertising agency. Rehak Creative Services produces effective communications to help clients build sales. Rehak Creative Services roster of local and international clients includes Halliburton, TransCanada and ChevronPhillips.



All State Van Lines Relocation Identifies Moving Trends

All-State-Van-Lines-Relocation-familyAll State Van Lines Relocation is a moving brokerage firm based in Margate, Fla., that coordinates residential and corporate moves and relocations nationwide. In the following interview with A Gathering of Experts, All State Van Lines Relocation discusses moving trends around the U.S.

A Gathering of Experts: Why is it important for a company like All State Van Lines Relocation to research moving trends?

All State Van Lines Relocation: We’re a service company. We must stay in touch with moving trends to ensure that we have access to those who want to be connected to moving help. All State Van Lines Relocation needs to have a presence in high volume markets to find and serve customers.

A Gathering of Experts: Let’s start with trends for last year. How many people moved in the U.S. in 2012?

All State Van Lines Relocation: The U.S. Census Bureau’s most recent figures show that the nation’s overall moving rate increased from a record low of 11.6 percent of the U.S. population in 2011 to 12 percent in 2012.

A Gathering of Experts: How many people does that represent?

All State Van Lines Relocation: About 36.5 million people on the move in 2012, compared to 35.1 million in 2011.

A Gathering of Experts: Why the record low?

All State Van Lines Relocation: It’s hard to be precise, but it’s clear the economy was still bad in 2011. The major reason people move long distance is job related, either to find a new job or relocate for a job.

A Gathering of Experts: Does this mean that the economy improved in 2012?

All State Van Lines Relocation: By that calculation, perhaps so. All State Van Lines Relocation is optimistic on that score.

A Gathering of Experts: Are most of these moves local?

All State Van Lines Relocation: Yes. 64.4 percent of people moved within the same county. Of those who left their previous county, either to another county within the same state or to another state, the average distance moved was less than 50 miles.

A Gathering of Experts: So most moving business is local?

All State Van Lines Relocation: Yes. All State Van Lines Relocation movers generally spend much more time packing and loading than driving. We specialize in arranging long-distance moves, not local moves.

A Gathering of Experts: How do you gauge the top regions of the nation for moving?

All State Van Lines Relocation: The Census Bureau measures it state-to-state. All State Van Lines Relocation pays special attention to those statistics.

A Gathering of Experts: What are the top state-to-state moves?

All State Van Lines Relocation: New York to Florida and California to Texas are the top two with about 59,000 relocating people each. California to Arizona and Florida to Georgia are next. New York and New Jersey swapped just about the same amount of residents, about 41,000 each.

A Gathering of Experts: That’s interesting.

All State Van Lines Relocation: Research shows that is a lot of business people moving around the New York City metropolitan area. They’re short distances but often big lifestyle differences.

A Gathering of Experts: Can you name some other top state-to-state statistics?

All State Van Lines Relocation: California to Nevada, Georgia to Florida, and California to Washington are numbers 7, 8 and 9 on the Top 10.

A Gathering of Experts: Which is last?

All State Van Lines Relocation: Texas to California rounds out the Top 10 with approximately 37,000 people moving.

A Gathering of Experts: By comparison, in the middle of the country, people are staying put.

All State Van Lines Relocation: That’s about right.


Dollar Loan Center CEO Chuck Brennan on Security Measures

Charles-Brennan-Dollar-Loan-Center2Dollar Loan Center CEO Chuck Brennan was recently profiled in the security magazine Currents for his efforts toward customer safety. Chuck Brennan and his Dollar Loan Center staff have utilized a series of technological tools that ensure the security of his employees and his customers. For customers who seek a short-term financial solution, Chuck Brennan explains the security procedures at Dollar Loan Center.

A Gathering of Experts: In your opinion, Chuck Brennan, what’s the overall objective of Dollar Loan Center?

Chuck Brennan: Dollar Loan Center improves the lives of many Americans by providing small short-term loans for accepted applicants.

A Gathering of Experts: How many Dollar Loan Center locations are there?

Chuck Brennan: There are currently more than 80 locations in four states—Utah, California, South Dakota and Nevada.

A Gathering of Experts: Which region has garnered the most customer traffic?

Chuck Brennan: Las Vegas, NV is the most popular location.

A Gathering of Experts: Where is Dollar Loan Center based?

Chuck Brennan: Dollar Loan Center is based in Las Vegas, NV, a town known so well for its gambling casinos. However, there’s no sense in taking risks in terms of customers’ hard-earned money.

A Gathering of Experts: How are stores monitored?

Chuck Brennan: The surveillance unit monitors each location from a centralized spot. This way, the security team has the ability to see everything that occurs within the store.

A Gathering of Experts: The lending industry must be rampant with theft.

Chuck Brennan: In my cases, that’s true. Dollar Loan Center, however, uses cutting edge technology to curb theft and destruction of property.

A Gathering of Experts: How are customers cash protected?

Chuck Brennan: Each branch of Dollar Loan Center—from Las Vegas, NV to Sioux Falls, S.D.—contains a cash recycler that sorts and counts all customer deposits within a secure apparatus.

A Gathering of Experts: What happens to money deposited by customers?

Chuck Brennan: Once the customers’ money is placed into these machines, it is kept within a safe only accessible to the security team.

A Gathering of Experts: What if the safe is stolen?

Chuck Brennan: This apparatus has built-in security cameras, tracking devices and alarms.  This technology was created just for Dollar Loan Center and is cutting edge.

A Gathering of Experts: How can prospective customers find out more about Dollar Loan Center?

Chuck Brennan: For more information, visit us online at People can also call (866) 550-4352 to speak with a company representative.

A Gathering of Experts: Thank you for your time.

Chuck Brennan: My pleasure. Thank you for having me.

Moving Squad Founder Aldo Disorbo Considers a Move of His Own

Aldo-Disorbo-Restaurant-Gathering of ExpertsAfter three decades in the industry, Aldo Disorbo says his future may hold more cultural endeavors than his past. Today, this moving industry veteran speaks with A Gathering of Experts about his plans to open an Italian restaurant when he retires from Moving Squad.

A Gathering of Experts: Thank you for taking the time to speak with us today.

Aldo Disorbo: My pleasure.

A Gathering of Experts: Can you tell us a bit about your business?

Aldo Disorbo: I own a company called Moving Squad. We are based in Fort Lauderdale. We offer local moving services at an affordable price.

A Gathering of Experts: You have been a major player in the moving industry for nearly 30 years. Why might you want to change career paths at this point?

Aldo Disorbo: I have always identified strongly with my Italian heritage. And, I love to cook. I think that opening my own Italian diner/bistro would be a dream come true. I’m not ready to retire from moving just yet, just thinking ahead.

A Gathering of Experts: That is a significant transition.

Aldo Disorbo: Not really. There are many similarities, I think, between the two industries.

A Gathering of Experts: How so?

Aldo Disorbo: When you own a moving company—or any business really—you have to organize people, places and things. You have to make sure that everything fits together like a well-oiled machine.

A Gathering of Experts: Like a restaurant’s wait staff, chefs and servers must work together to create happy customers?

Aldo Disorbo: Exactly—if any part of the dining experience is unpleasant, a meal can be ruined.

A Gathering of Experts: And so it goes with the moving industry?

Aldo Disorbo: At Moving Squad, we have sales staff, customer service reps, and movers. A deficiency in any of these departments reflects poorly on the entire company, effectively leaving a bad taste in the mouths of our customers.

A Gathering of Experts: Do you like to cook?

Aldo Disorbo: I’m Italian; of course I like to cook!

A Gathering of Experts: What are some of your favorite Italian dishes?

Aldo Disorbo: I don’t know that I could pinpoint just a few.

A Gathering of Experts: Italy is known mostly for pasta—let’s talk about lesser-known indigenous dishes. What does a typical Italian breakfast consist of?

Aldo Disorbo: Like many European countries, breakfast is usually served continental-style.

A Gathering of Experts: Like a hotel?

Aldo Disorbo: Not exactly. Italian breakfast is usually homemade and consists of café latte and buttered bread or rolls. Most coffee shops serve simple pastries, though cereals and yogurts are becoming more common.

A Gathering of Experts: What is the largest meal of the day?

Aldo Disorbo: In Italian culture it’s usually lunch. Europeans typically make lunch a more intimate affair than Americans. Pranzo (the midday meal) usually lasts at least an hour and a half and consist of several different courses.

A Gathering of Experts: How is that adapted for American culture?

Aldo Disorbo: For a restaurant, I would shorten the dining options to a simple salad and bread sticks with a small main course of pasta. One popular pre-meal food in Italy is finger sandwiches. You could also serve these as an entrée.

A Gathering of Experts: It seems that Italian food is more formal overall than what we have here in Western society.

Aldo Disorbo: Yes, but coming from a large Italian family, I can tell you that there’s nothing in the world that helps families bond like sitting down over a well-prepared meal. That is one reason that I want to open my own restaurant when I leave the moving business.

A Gathering of Experts: If you run your restaurant the way that you operate your moving services companies, you will no doubt be quite successful.

Aldo Disorbo: I appreciate the vote of confidence and I’m definitely looking forward to the challenge.

A Gathering of Experts: In a few more years we may look back on your many successes as evidence that you don’t have to stick with what you’re comfortable with.

Aldo Disorbo: I certainly hope so.

A Gathering of Experts: That’s all the time that we have for today. Thank you for chatting with us.

Aldo Disorbo: My pleasure.

Aldo Disorbo has spent the last two and a half decades building a clientele throughout southern Florida. Since his early days hauling friends’ and neighbors’ household goods in an old truck, Aldo Disorbo has made customer service his No. 1 priority. For more information, visit


Entrepreneur Sandra Dyche on Attracting EB-5 Investors

Sandra-Dyche-InvestAccording to entrepreneur Sandra Dyche, certain types of projects are most likely to attain EB-5 financing. Sandra Dyche outlines a few significant project qualities and explains how entrepreneurs can make the most of this unique opportunity.

A Gathering of Experts: What is the most attractive quality in a project?

Sandra Dyche: A number of key qualities appeal to EB-5 investors. Generally, EB-5 investors prefer projects that will create a significant number of excess jobs than required by the USCIS.

A Gathering of Experts: What role does a regional center play?

Sandra Dyche: Regional Center is the fulcrum for the EB-5 program and throughout its process. Projects that have received sponsorship from a regional center, or from financing centers such as CapSpan, get pushed to the top of the page. Regional centers have gained in popularity and success in the last five years.

A Gathering of Experts: Are there other factors involved?

Sandra Dyche: The process runs a lot more seamlessly if the project developer possesses an excellent track record. He or she should have been proven to be able to finish the project successfully until the EB-5 investor receives a permanent green card and the original investment is repaid fully at maturity.

A Gathering of Experts: What are the best types of projects?

Sandra Dyche: Typically, a real estate project is the most attractive option while investors seek a hard asset. In most cases, an investment is hard to finance unless one of two things exists: firm contracts that demonstrate profitability, or real estate assets with various possible purposes.

A Gathering of Experts: Do the projects produce a good number of jobs?

Sandra Dyche: Very much so. Projects that can produce a greater number of jobs than the minimum requirement are viewed favorably. Projects that must have significant construction, or ones with a construction period lasting more than two years, are the most likely base for these jobs.

A Gathering of Experts: Why are these particular factors important?

Sandra Dyche: It’s smart to underestimate the number of jobs that a project will produce. USCIS holds an inconsistent standard in terms of counting tenant jobs. Often job reductions will take place during the term due to manufacturing and operating services being outsourced. The more jobs produced in the project, the better.

A Gathering of Experts: In your opinion, Sandra Dyche, is there anything else to note?

Sandra Dyche: Most of all, projects will get a green light if they have a better possibility that the principal will be repaid by the close of the EB-5 term, which is bolstered by a private investor’s or developer’s guarantee.


Rabbi Binyomin Lisbon on the Advantages of Kosher Certification

KSA-Kosher-FoodsRabbi Binyomin Lisbon of KSA Kosher notes that kosher certification is a growing trend in the food industry. In this interview, Rabbi Binyomin Lisbon explains how kosher certification improves food sales and encourages healthy eating for Americans.

Q: Are kosher foods truly that popular with consumers?

Rabbi Binyomin Lisbon: Most people eat some type of kosher food each day, even if they may not be aware of it.

Q: What are the average sales of kosher-certified products each year?

Rabbi Binyomin Lisbon: More than $150 billion of kosher-certified products are consumed annually, and consumer spending continues to increase dramatically.

Q: How has kosher certification influenced the food industry?

Rabbi Binyomin Lisbon: Kosher certification has prompted an increase in sales while promoting a company’s private label business.

Q: In particular, what does the KSA logo indicate?

Rabbi Binyomin Lisbon: As a marketing device, the KSA logo has generated more revenue and expanded the scope of the market. More importantly, it signifies food quality to the consumer.

Q: Where can the KSA logo be found?

Rabbi Binyomin Lisbon: The KSA logo is a prominent feature on products sold in restaurants, supermarket chains, food distributors and food manufacturers.

Q: Why do these businesses favor kosher foods?

Rabbi Binyomin Lisbon: In a recent survey, consumers said that they favored kosher products over regular products by approximately 25 percent.

Q: Aren’t most kosher consumers from the Jewish community?

Rabbi Binyomin Lisbon: Only 8 percent of kosher consumers are religious Jews.

Q: How do kosher certification practices improve overall food safety?

Rabbi Binyomin Lisbon: Regular kosher inspections performed at production facilities will often increase attention to preventing insect infestation. In these cases, it’s more likely that inspectors will detect non-kosher remnants.

Q: Are kosher standards more stringent than general food industry regulations?

Rabbi Binyomin Lisbon: Kosher inspectors are not health professionals, of course. However, many times they hold higher standards than industry regulations.

Q: Such as? 

Rabbi Binyomin Lisbon: Government regulations allow trace amounts of contamination in produced foods before they are deemed unsafe. However, kosher certification carries a no-tolerance policy.

Q: How do kosher inspectors monitor food production?

Rabbi Binyomin Lisbon: Kosher inspectors are extremely vigilant in monitoring bugs or any other impurities related to the food.

Q: How are kosher inspectors qualified for this task?

Rabbi Binyomin Lisbon: These inspectors are trained in the areas of food technology, food chemistry and Jewish dietary law.

Q: Have food safety reforms been successfully enacted?

Rabbi Binyomin Lisbon: The government has made significant progress in promoting food safety, but outcomes are still short of expectations.

Q: Why?

Rabbi Binyomin Lisbon: Administrative delays and inadequate funding have both contributed to the lessened impact of these reforms.

Q: What is the key to success of kosher products?

Rabbi Binyomin Lisbon: Quite simply, market demand. The more consumers request kosher food, the more products are introduced to the public.

Rabbi Binyomin Lisbon leads all certification efforts for Kosher Supervision of America (KSA), located in Los Angeles, Calif. KSA is the most prominent kosher certification agency based in the Western United States.