You’ve just taken out your only other global competitor, through a $2 billion acquisition. Now what are you going to do to expand?
It’s a question that’s on Iron Mountain chief executive Bill Meaney’s mind a lot these days. Yes, he still needs to integrate two former rivals — in this case, Boston’s Iron Mountain, and Australia-based Recall Holdings. The deal between the two document storage and management companies closed in May, bringing more than 5,000 new employees into Iron Mountain’s roughly 20,000-person workforce.
But there are still thorny details to be ironed out, including who gets to stay and who leaves from the two groups. Meaney’s ambitions don’t end there, though. The executive says he’s partly banking on emerging markets in underdeveloped countries for sales growth.
Meaney’s most intriguing expansions could come amid two businesses his firm has already acquired: Art storage business Crozier Fine Arts and Box Butler’s “valet storage,” both based in New York.
Meaney sees Crozier as a launching pad to grow a large corporate art storage business. Since buying the firm from Bob Crozier, he says a number of other owners of similar operations have called and essentially said, what about me? “They see us as their retirement plan,” Meaney says.
Then there’s Box Butler, a valet business that Meaney’s team is looking to replicate in other dense cities. Box Butler picks up items like golf clubs or skis for storage so its customers don’t have schlep to a self-storage locker. It’s the first time Iron Mountain entered into a consumer-oriented business, Meaney says, and can help the firm relate to small businesses.
“The way you have to speak to those folks is very different than the way you speak at IBM,” Meaney says.
Shark Tank with a heart
Think of it as a mash-up of the ABC television competition “Shark Tank” and the PBS confectionery series “The Great British Baking Show.”
That’s how Donna Fitzgerald, the owner of Boston staffing agency Contemporaries, Inc. envisioned the small business financing competition that she launched this month.
Heartank, billed as Shark Tank with a heart, plans to give budding entrepreneurs and those who have been in business for a year, $10,000 in seed money. Contestants will pitch their plans to a panel of judges, much like Shark Tank, but will also get some friendly advice and recommendations from the experts, modeled on the baking show, Fitzgerald said.
Heartank, a nonprofit, plans to hold the competition four times a year, with the deadline for applications in the first round set for Sept. 16. For this round, businesses in Jamaica Plain and Roxbury are invited to apply, but Fitzgerald said she plans to focus on different neighborhoods throughout the year.
Fitzgerald knows the challenges of getting bank financing to open a hair salon or small restaurant. When she started her staffing agency in 1998, she had to rely on her sister’s credit card and friends who offered her small loans, because banks said ‘no.’
The program judges? Erin Moran McCormick, the director of the Entrepreneurship Center at the University of Massachusetts Boston, public relations executive Colette Phillips, and David Flanagan, who has worked on Boston neighborhood issues and for nonprofits.
When the professor says it’s OK to use Wikipedia
College professors reading through their students’ essays often have to determine if they pass the sniff test: Does the paper seem authentic, or does it rely a bit too heavily on Wikipedia?
But for Cecelia Musselman, an English professor at Northeastern University, writing a Wikipedia entry was the entire point. Over the past year, she’s had dozens of her students write articles for the online encyclopedia, as part of a push to increase the number of science-related entries on the site. In all, 141 articles were written by Northeastern students, who wrote on topics ranging as varied as dolphin feeding techniques to gyrification. The effort was part of the “Year of Science” program that has been hosted by the Wiki Education Foundation.
Musselman said that she’s been using Wikipedia as a teaching tool for over a decade, having her students write articles as a class assignment without ever actually having them published. But in the past few years, she’s been emboldened by the Wikimedia’s foundation efforts to diversify its ranks — in 2011 report found only 13 percent of the site’s authors were women, and an MIT study last year found that the language used in many of the postings tends to show gender bias.
Musselman said the Wikipedia project upped the stakes for the students. “It becomes very real to know that there is an active audience out there,” she said.
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Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated the name of the foundation that is working with students at Northeastern University. It is the Wiki Education Foundation.