ActivePaper Archive THE BOTTOM LINE - DDNT, 6/20/1993


Hard-working Hartley: If Milton Hartley, the boss at Elder-Beerman, looks frazzled around Halloween, hand him a candy apple, pat him on back, and tell him he's doing a fine job.

By that time Hartley will be getting ready to snip the ribbon at the fourth new Elder-Beerman department store opening within 45 days across four states. The late Sam Walton did stuff like that, but Sam is a tough act to follow, and of course he and his baseball cap are no longer among us. Sam was a legend who drove an old red pickup truck, flew his own plane to Wal-Mart openings and took along his hunting dogs.

But we're talking about Elder-Beerman here, a family-owned chain of 47 department stores making a big success at a time when discounters like Wal-Mart are clobbering conventional department store chains across the country.

Hartley keeps Elder-Beerman robust and growing ($600 million-plus in sales) by using one of Sam's old secrets: Smaller towns. Wal-Mart's explosive growth was in county seats where there was less competition.

Hartley is using a similar formula with a department store twist: He is selling more upscale clothing and household goods to ordinary folks who'd rather not be caught in Wal-Mart fashions.

Here's Milton's feverish fall agenda:

Sept. 15: Open a 71,500-square-foot Elder-Beerman department store in the Westwood Mall, Jackson, Mich.

Oct. 15: Cut the ribbon on a 134,000-square-foot Elder-Beerman in Evansville, Ind.

Oct. 27: Big, big day in suburban Beavercreek. Milton opens the doors to Elder-Beerman's new "flagship" showplace, the 150,000-square-foot department store, one of five anchors in the new Mall at Fairfield Commons.

Nov. 1, Milton summons his remaining energy and opens the 60,000-square-foot Elder-Beerman in the Beloit Mall, Beloit, Wis. This is important because it is Beerman's first venture into Wisconsin.

One suspects that more Wisconsin stores are in the works.\ \ Computer nerds get all the breaks: Thousands of college graduates are wondering why they can't find a decent job. Or any job.

Maybe they ought to be in computers?

Despite headlines about massive layoffs at computer giants such as IBM, placement rates for graduates from Miami University's computer systems analysis program are excellent, the university says in a handout.

Miami says 62 of 65 systems majors responding to a survey taken six months after graduation reported being employed. Starting salaries averaged $30,031. (No, they aren't flipping burgers at McDonald's).

So why is enrollment down in computer classes? Where 10 years ago Miami had 300 first-year systems majors, last fall only 61 entering students were enrolled in computer systems. "Students may be scared away by headlines about the slump in the computer industry," says Alton Sanders, chair of Miami's systems analysis department, "but they should be reading the want-ads."

Need more encouragement? The government predicts a 79 percent increase in the need for systems analysts and computer scientists by 2005, making it the fastest-growing occupation requiring a bachelor's degree, Sanders said.

Next problem: Getting into Miami. School has high standards and an Ivy League attitude.\ \ Dayton - home of the big bucks: Listed again this year among the world's richest folks is a man with important Dayton ties - John Werner Kluge, owner of Metromedia Steakhouses and Ponderosa Inc. We claim John, a Charlottesville, Va., resident because his steakhouse empire of 1,100 Ponderosa and Bonanza units is based at Dayton International Airport. Headquarters is in that glass building commissioned by former chairman Jerry Office to look like slab of steak on a grill.

Kluge, 78, with a fortune estimated by Fortune at $8.8 billion, is seventh on the list. That's ahead of Queen Elizabeth II, 67, ($7.8 billion), ranking 9th, and William Gates III, 37, co-founder of Microsoft ($6.7 billion), 12th.

Not far down the list are the owners of this and other Cox publications, broadcasting units, cable TV systems and auto auctions - Anne Cox Chambers, and Barbara Cox Anthony, daughters of the late Gov. James M. Cox of Dayton. Fortune says the sisters are worth $5.8 billion. That ranks them 15th on the list.

After all the money he spent on political advertising, poor old Ross Perot hardly has anything left. He ranks 55th with a measly $3.3 billion.\ \ Ponderosa hits a homer: No doubt your hearts have been tugged by Ponderosa's new TV advertisements in which the pint-sized kid is called off the bench late in the Little League game and he hits a home run in slow-motion that wins the big game, much to the disgust of the kid in the other commercial who didn't swing and begins losing his hair to pattern baldness because he forgot to use Rogaine . . . or something like that.

The very slick, very cute, very effective TV spot was created for Ponderosa by the Cleveland office of the W.B. Doner Advertising Agency. It ought to sell lots of steaks.

Ponderosa, meanwhile, has been named the "Official Training Table of Little League Baseball." Guess that mean Ponderosas around the U.S. now will be packed with little kids in uniforms chowing down on rib eyes before the big game.

Ponderosa says it has a three-year contract with Little League Baseball "to develop numerous promotional opportunities." One assumes some major coin changed hands for that honor.

In addition to national sponsorship events, Ponderosa is sponsoring more than 300 Little League teams across the U.S.

Pretty slick.\

[ILLUSTRATION] PHOTO: (Milton) Hartley