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Unemployment classes

Classes were held April- May 2009

Feature Articles

"Local business offers free classes to unemployed"

BEDFORD -- In just about every business, the objective is to provide a product and make a profit. When times are tough economically, every penny counts. But what happens when a business considers people more important than money?

We found one in Bedford "returning the favor" to the community.

"I'm a 2003 person, so 2007 there's a lot of changes." John Schindler lost his job as a chief information officer and found that he wasn't as qualified when applying for another position. "What I'm finding is that there's typically a 10 point check list that they're looking for and now a days all 10 have to be filled in if you want to be considered. Any thing less and you're not in the running."

"I have two bachelors and an MBA as well. I have a Business Management degree with a concentration in Human Resources," says Lori Brown Bougess.

She thought her qualifications would open doors, but the competition for jobs is tough. "We're seeing a range from clerical, administrative, management, to executives to owners of firms who have closed," says Lori DeVore, CEO of DeVore Technologies.

It's people who inspired DeVore. "This is more mission critical for helping and supporting others and their lives."

As owner of DeVore technologies, she decided the best way to get Northeast Ohio up and running again is to get the workforce proficient in new technology. And do it for free.

"This will all come back to us whether or not they're employed or not employed I think it's a way of giving back to the community. We're in this city together and we'll see them at some other company, that's the way I look at it."

For the DeVore team, it's not about turning a profit, but helping a neighbor. "We all know someone who is unemployed and literally the people who came through the doors were so phenomenal, so grateful, were so receptive," says DeVore's Jennifer Cicero.

Helping someone else, might be the biggest lesson these students learn from this experience. "We are all emailing each other about different positions we're aware of or different websites to look at. So it is a great networking opportunity," says Lori Brown Bougess.

DeVore Technologies was only offering classes through April, but because of the demand and because we are passing the word along, DeVore will offer more complimentary classes through May 15.

2009 WKYC-TV
Be sure to view the video at the following URL:


"Lori DeVore - Owner DeVore Technologies"

Rumbling through the suburbs in a giant white Hummer emblazoned with the words "DeVore Tech," Lori DeVore is anything but subtle.

But it's taken that kind of audacity to transform her information technology firm, DeVore Technologies of Bedford, from a startup in her dining room to a company that employs nearly 70 workers.

"I'm persistent," Ms. DeVore said. "Nothing stops me." "People can call me ugly, old and fat and my feelings don't get hurt," the 43-yearold business owner continued.

That thick skin evidently has served Ms. DeVore well. Her company has weathered the tech bust near the beginning of the millennium and is back on the upswing. DeVore Technologies, which provides training, web hosting and custom application development, could hire 30 to 40 people by the end of the year, Ms. DeVore said. Earlier this year, the company started up a Spanish translation group, which Ms. DeVore expects to be a big area of growth. The group translates medical records, legal documents and web sites.

Ms. DeVore got her start in information technology while at the University of Florida in the 1980s. She toiled on projects that involved developing accounting software for a local hospital, and realized she had talent for IT work.

Fast forward to 1991, when Ms. DeVore started DeVore Technologies. In the early days, Ms. DeVore said she worked three other jobs - as a sales representative at an electronics store, an administrator at a temp agency and a teacher of adult education courses.

The company grew as large as 200 employees, but when the recession hit earlier this decade, Ms. DeVore had to slash her work force, as large clients no longer could her afford her company's services.

"Next thing I know, I was down to 12 employees," she said. "I had to reinvent my company."

Ms. DeVore decided the company desperately needed to find sources of "reoccurring revenue." To that end, she borrowed about $500,000, bought some servers and began hosting web sites.

Clients have included University Hospitals and medical sterilization products maker Steris Corp., Ms. DeVore said. For clients that use DeVore's "shopping cart" software on their sites, the company usually collects 0.1% of sales, another piece of reoccurring revenue.

The best part of being an entrepreneur is the freedom to live and die by her own decisions, Ms. DeVore said.

"I have no one who can stop me from dreaming," she said. "They can express their opinions, but if I'm determined, no one can stop me."

Owning one's own business apparently comes with a price, however. Ms. DeVore said she generally works 75-hour weeks. Few American workers bathe at their offices, but count Ms. DeVore among those who do. A full bathroom connected to her office suggests she has little free time to spare.

Asked her greatest challenge, Ms. DeVore candidly said, "To stay above water." With low-cost overseas competition and falling margins, the IT business isn't an easy place to be. But Carol Rivchun, president of Youth Opportunities Unlimited, a nonprofit that aims to teach job skills to low-income youths, doesn't seem worried about Ms. DeVore.

Ms. Rivchun lauded Ms. DeVore, who donated her company's old computers to the nonprofit, as "having more enthusiasm, brains and success than most of the women entrepreneurs I've met in many years."