The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY - otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports

December 14, 2009

My Turn: Executive Service Corps helps area businesses

This week's "My turn" column is by Douglas Fielder, secretary of the Board of Directors of Executive Service Corps of Otsego and Delaware counties.

Next year, 2010, will be the 20th anniversary of Executive Service Corps of Otsego and Delaware counties.

ESC is a not-for-profit that has been providing low-cost consulting services, workshops and mentoring for small businesses and not-for-profits in Delaware and Otsego counties since 1990.

It is part of the national organization, Executive Service Corps, which assists primarily not-for-profits.

The development of a local chapter was conceived by Joanne Rasmussen after she moved to the Walton area from Chicago. In order to better meet the needs of our area, our local chapter is one of only two in the country that serve both for-profit businesses and not-for-profits.

The primary work of ESC is done by volunteers with diverse backgrounds and experience. Our volunteers _ both working and retired _ are drawn from a variety of business, professional and academic backgrounds.

These include individuals with experience in businesses of all sizes, administrators and employees of not-for-profits, school and college administrators and teachers, small-business owners, bankers and many others.

There is a good mix of retired and semi-retired people with those who are employed full time. Retirees bring perspective and availability of time, which nicely complement the up-to-date knowledge brought by those who are currently employed.

The ESC volunteers work in teams, starting with the initial discussions with clients to assess their needs and the ways ESC can help them, and continuing through the assignment of a project team, which usually consults with or mentors the clients.

The project team may assist with the development of a business plan, financial plan or analysis, marketing plan and strategic planning. We assist both start-ups and existing businesses.

For not-for-profits, the former areas are frequently addressed, together with development of by-laws, board of directors' responsibilities and fundraising. We make every effort to help clients even when their needs do not fit into any well-defined area.

After a project is completed, the client receives an initial satisfaction survey, which is followed in about six months with an in-depth evaluation by members of ESC's Evaluation Committee. The results of these are carefully reviewed by the Evaluation Committee and then shared with the members of the project team. Our goal is to improve our services and client satisfaction.

Our volunteers have many reasons for joining ESC. Many retirees want to share their expertise and experience with others and have the stimulation of working with other volunteers and clients. Every experience with clients and other volunteers is a learning experience.

In my case, I was a physics professor at the State University College at Oneonta for more than 30 years who had no direct experience in working with small businesses and not-for-profits.

Soon after retirement, I joined ESC, wondering how I could be useful. I learned quickly that my analytical background and experience in working with others were useful to ESC. I met many new people and made new friends.

I have worked directly with clients, worked on the team that manages all ESC projects, served on the Board of Directors and I am a member of the evaluation committee.

If you are interested in learning more about ESC as a potential client or volunteer, call the ESC office at 433-1700, or e-mail our office manager at

Fielder may be reached at 433-2727.

To write for "My turn," contact Daily Star Publisher Tanya Shalor at or 432-1000, ext. 214.