By LINDA HARRIS
WINTERSVILLE - Joe Barone's advice to local companies hoping to cash in on the shale energy boom: take advantage of every opportunity to meet the decision makers
Barone, founder of ShaleDirectories.com, said the most effective way to get contracts with companies like Chesapeake Energy and Hess Corp. is to get to know the people working in the field. That means going to venues where industry decision-makers are likely to be found at expos and industry events, hotels, even convenience stores.
"Your whole perspective is going to change," Barone said. "What's going to be happening here in Ohio, and what's happening in West Virginia and Pennsylvania is going to affect the whole world."
Barone was the guest speaker Tuesday at a luncheon at St. Florian Hall, prior to the opening of the Business-to-Business Networking Event. Both were sponsored by Progress Alliance and the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce.
He advised local business leaders to "get out of their comfort zone."
"Be able to staff up quickly," he said, pointing out existing businesses will have trouble retaining employees in the face of higher-pay jobs in shale-related industries.
Barone said businesses need to "know your skills and your message," and be consistent.
"Find your niche and do it well," Barone said. "If you know your niche, you can make a lot of money."
He said an Internet presence is a must.
"If you don't have a website, get one," he advised. "Everyone in the industry is strapped for time. Time is their dearest commodity. You want your name out there, you want them to think of your company's name (when they need something)."
He also advises having "a great relationship with your attorney, your accountant, your insurance agent and your bank," so you're positioned to react immediately when someone in the shale or shale-related industries calls and needs equipment, materials or services with a slim turnaround time.
"You have to realize, the numbers are staggering," Barone said. "Chesapeake is giving out billions of dollars in lease payments in Ohio ... these companies have tremendous cash flow. I've never heard one business say someone in the gas industry beat me down on price. They'll pay but they want service."