Office Etiquette: Halloween

As we reach the end of October things are starting to get spooky. Halloween is approaching and many of your coworkers may be ready to get into the holiday spirit. Halloween in the workplace can get a bit frightening if you’re not sure of Halloween office etiquette. Whether your workplace has an official Halloween celebration, or you like to bring the celebration to your own workspace, you should probably switch out your sexy pizza costume, for a more work appropriate peanut butter and jelly costume this year.

Halloween costumes for work

Since sexy costumes are out of the question, you may be asking yourself if it’s okay to put together something scarier. Experts suggest that a good rule of thumb is to skip the mask, excessive fake blood, or anything exceptionally gory in the workplace. This is mainly for safety purposes. It is best for the working environment if your coworkers can see your face, and know that you aren’t really hurt or in danger at work.

So you want to try out a new recipe you saw on Pinterest and bring some creepy treats into the office this year? Keep in mind regular office etiquette when it comes to bringing food into your workplace. Do you have a place to store the food safely? Also, try to be considerate of those with allergies by either avoiding the reaction causing ingredients or, at least, by adding a warning to your dish so that they can avoid it if necessary.

Most importantly, remember that you are at work! Unfortunately, a celebration isn’t a reason to avoid your work for the day. Don’t ignore your phone, e-mail, or other responsibilities just because you’re feeling spirited. You’re boss will still know which witch, ghost, or werewolf was responsible for your work, and why it didn’t get done. This could jeopardize future holiday celebrations for everyone!


Does your workplace have a Halloween party? Do you have a costume chosen for this year? Let us know in the comments!

ABG Capital to Participate in Strategic Planning Session

ABG Capital

ABG Capital

December brings us many things.  The hustle and bustle of the holiday season is among us, the final quarter draws to a close, many businesses are preparing year-end reports, and thoughts of the upcoming New Year are in our heads.  Many people take the time to reflect, both personally and professionally, on the past year and look forward to 2013.  On a personal level, many look at what they have accomplished over the year and make new resolutions for 2013.  Corporately, businesses may draw up year-end reports and analyze numbers to determine their goals for the upcoming year.  At ABG Capital, we do all of those things.  We utilize our ideals to enhance our work and personal lives.  Our ideals are to cultivate ideas and people through our C.O.R.E. (Cultivate, Overcome, Respect, and Evolve) Values for the purpose of Giving Back.

Employees of ABG Capital utilize these ideals personally in many ways.  We participate in various activities throughout the year, where we are given an opportunity to Give Back to our community.  These activities include working at the food bank, fundraising for Make-A-Wish, and cleaning headstones at the National Cemetery of the Alleghenies.  In addition to Giving Back, employees also are encouraged to live healthy lifestyles.  We do an annual Biggest Loser contest, where interested employees weigh-in on Fridays, and the biggest loser receives a cash reward.  Also, we bring in an inspirational speaker/author in on a regular basis to educate our team about healthy eating habits.

In terms of business, we take our goals, or New Year’s resolutions, very seriously.  Every year around this time, our companies participate in Strategic Planning Sessions, where goals for the upcoming quarters are brainstormed and strategized.  These 2-day sessions employ strategic planning and executive education adopted from the Gazelles Growth and Leadership Summits.  As discussed in this earlier post,, ABG Capital sends key employees to these Gazelles Summits to gain valuable training on how to lead and grow their companies.  This education, along with a Gazelles coach, enables each of ABG Capital’s portfolio companies to evolve solid annual strategic plans.

As 2012 draws to a close, employees at ABG Capital are busy preparing for holiday festivities, gathering gifts and monies for Giving Back causes, and focusing their energies on having a productive 2013.

ABG Capital is 14th Among the Best Places to Work in Pennsylvania

ABG Capital

ABG Capital

What makes a workplace outstanding?  Ranking on Pennsylvania’s Best Places to Work list 5 out of the past 7 years, perhaps ABG Capital has the answer.  The focus at ABG Capital is on people and culture, which creates a work environment in which both businesses and individuals thrive.

ABG Capital is pleased to announce that it is ranked 14th among the top 71 small/medium employers in the state, according to the thirteenth annual Best Places to Work in PA awards program.  In addition to this honor, ABG Capital was also recognized locally by the Pittsburgh Business Times, ranking 41st on their list of Best Places to Work in Western Pennsylvania.  This was their 6th showing in the past 8 years.

The Best Places to Work in Pennsylvania program was created by four companies: Central Penn Business Journal, Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, Team Pennsylvania Foundation, and Best Companies Group.  These organizations developed this program for several reasons.  The organizations were interested in helping Pennsylvanian companies retain their current workforce, attract new workers, and to distinguish the businesses in the state that attract and retain Pennsylvania’s talented workforce.

This program evaluates and ranks the best places of employment in the State based on employee satisfaction and engagement, as well as workplace practices and policies.  To be considered for this award, companies are required to complete the assessment process, where employers complete Benefits and Policies Questionnaires and employees complete Engagement and Satisfaction Surveys.  Once this information is collected, Best Companies Group then sorts and interprets the data to determine company rankings.

“It is such an honor to once again be ranked with an elite group of outstanding companies in PA,” stated Sharon Kolesar, Human Resources Manager at ABG Capital.  “Here at ABG Capital, we create values to foster a healthy life balance for our employees.  To know that 75% of our ranking is based on our employees’ responses and feedback exhibits that our culture is effective.”

The winners’ rankings were announced Thursday evening, November 29, 2012, at an awards ceremony at the Lancaster County Convention Center.  Additionally, the ranked companies will be profiled in a supplement to the Central Penn Business Journal and other business journals across the state.

Located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, ABG Capital leverages its unique business management model to reduce costs through the consolidation of back office operations for its portfolio companies. By consolidating services like accounting, legal, IT, software development, employee administration and HR, we are able to eliminate redundancy among, increase efficiency and be very nimble to the changes that occur in the market.  To learn more, visit

Happy Thanksgiving from ABG Capital

Turkey Bowl

5th Annual ABG Capital Turkey Bowl

In 2008, ABG Capital started a popular Thanksgiving tradition, their 1st Annual Turkey Bowl.  Employees wanting to participate were put into teams, and spent an afternoon playing flag football games.  This activity quickly became a favorite among the ABG Capital team.

This year, the team carried on the tradition and hosted their 5th Annual Turkey Bowl last Friday.  Four teams played until there was a champion.  Afterwards, the participating employees chose an MVP and Hands of Stone award.  Those winners will be announced at the ABG Capital Holiday Party next month.

ABG Capital would like to take the opportunity to wish you and your family a Happy Thanksgiving.  We are truly grateful our valued customers and dedicated employees.

To see more pictures from our Turkey Bowl visit:

ABG Capital Employee Brings Aid to Hurricane Affected Areas

Hurricane Sandy

ABG Capital employee and husband with family affected by Hurricane Sandy

Those of us unaffected by Hurricane Sandy may be unaware of the devastation caused by this media-named super storm.  This huge storm affected 24 states, caused billions of dollars in damage, destroyed thousands of homes, left millions without electricity, and killed over a hundred people.  Even today, three weeks after the storm hit the US, there are still over a hundred thousand people without power in New York and New Jersey.

Denise Breide, the Provisioning Project Specialist for ABG Capital’s portfolio company, VoIP Innovations, was anxious to help out.  She and her husband, Ron, decided to take a trip to the East Coast to volunteer their time to those in need.  Prior to leaving, Denise collected various household items and cleaning supplies from her friends, family, and coworkers.  ABG Capital’s CEO, Jeff Tapolci, sent along a company donation as well.

Last Friday, Denise and Ron took their full trailer to the coast to distribute their collected items to those in need.  What they found was shocking, heartbreaking, and scary.

“I couldn’t believe the devastation in these hard-hit areas, “stated Denise Breide.  “The media could never portray how much loss these people have experienced.  It was truly heartbreaking to see these families have absolutely nothing left.”

Denise and her husband were so moved by their experience last weekend helping out those affected by this severely distressing hurricane that they have decided to repeat the trip.  This weekend, they will again drive over to the East Coast, trailer full or supplies, to help those in need.  They have another trip planned to December as well.

See pictures of Denise’s trip here:

ABG Capital Employees Attend Health and Wellness Presentation

ABG Capital Health and Wellness Event

ABG Capital Health and Wellness Event

Yesterday, ABG Capital employees had the opportunity to listen to a presentation by Lindsey Smith, Certified Health Coach from The Real You Nutrition.  Smith talked to the employees about staying nutritionally aware, not just during the holidays, but in their everyday lives.  She also explained how oftentimes people choose their eating habits based on their moods.  Along with her helpful healthy eating tips, she also provided samples of smoothies for all to try.  Smith brought along a few copies of her recent book, Junk Foods & Junk Moods: Stop Craving and Start Living!, which she raffled off to employees.

Check out Lindsey Smith’s websites at and

For pictures of this event, please visit:

ABG Capital Team Volunteers at Area Food Bank

On Friday, November 2, 2012, nearly 20 employees from ABG Capital spent the afternoon at The Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank.  This particular Food Bank distributes 2.2 million pounds of groceries a month, so they rely heavily on volunteers to help with packaging.  The ABG Capital team worked in the Repack Center of the Food Bank and helped package up hundreds of pounds of frozen meat, poultry, and seafood items that were donated from local grocery stores.

“It’s always nice to get away from the daily grind and give back to the community that has given us so much, stated Jason Tapolci, who along with his brother, Jeff, own ABG Capital.  “Activities like these provide us all with a little more perspective on what is truly important in life.”

“Our employees had a blast,” said Jeff Tapolci, CEO of ABG Capital.  “I always enjoy giving back, and to work side-by-side with employees that I don’t normally interact with was very special.”

Located in Pittsburgh, PA, ABG Capital leverages its unique business management model to reduce costs through the consolidation of back office operations for its portfolio companies. By consolidating services like accounting, legal, IT, software development, Employees administration and HR, ABG Capital is able to eliminate redundancy among our portfolio companies and increase efficiency.

See more pictures from this giving back activity here:

Giving Back

ABG Capital Giving Back



ABG Capital Employee Update

Atta Boy! Board

ABG Capital’s Atta Boy! Board

Over the past few months ABG Capital’s portfolio companies have received positive feedback from many customers.  To encourage a motivating workspace, ABG Capital employees created an “Atta Boy” board where they will showcase these reviews and the employees providing the exceptional service.  Recently, Jessica Young, Provisioning Manager at VoIP Innovations, was recognized for her excellent customer service skills.  Steven V. Jackson from InterQOS, Inc wrote:

“I don’t have much time for this kind of thing, so I hope you realize how sincere I am when I take the time to write a note in praise of a trade partner’s personnel. With a recent problem, I contacted Jessica Young as the LNP manager for VI. She listened with real interest as I recounted the bizarre situation and stepped up on behalf of VI to get the problem solved. I would guess she in fact furthered our joint cause by documenting an improved means of handling these types of future port-ins which will bring less work to us all and a better end user impression. She presented herself in a very professional manner in the midst of an obviously frustrating situation making a very good impression on behalf of all of VI.

A business is really nothing more than a collection of agreements. Stake holders agree to certain objectives leading to a profit. Employees agree to perform certain defined duties leading to a pay check. The chasm between these two types of agreements often presents the root of a business’s failures or successes. Jessica Young presented herself in this situation as a true stake holder who understood the broader scope of our issue. She protected our joint interests at the business objective level rather than the “how do I have the easiest job” level of a simple employee and that is worthy of our admiration. My sincere compliments to Jessica; and to VoIP Innovations for having her on your side.”

Also in the VoIP Innovations’ porting department, Heather Halpern, Provisioning Specialist, and Denise Breide, Provisioning Project Specialist, were both recently acknowledged for their hard work.  Matt Collins from CCD Service, LLC wrote:

“I just wanted to take a moment to let you know how grateful I am for Heather & Denise in the LNP department. There was a small wholesaler who closed their doors last week with a couple numbers. We know that the emergency ports are never fun but they went the extra mile to make sure that everything went as smoothly as it could.”

In addition to be spotlighted internally, these positive reviews, along with a caricature of these three employees drawn by our Graphic Designer, Ryan Rice, were added to our employee recognition “Atta Boy!” board.  Last month, Dave Smith, Provisioning Specialist who is also in the porting department for VoIP Innovations, was in the spotlight for excellent customer service.  See that post here:

GuideChoice Introduces New Individual Retirement Account Program with Inspira



GuidedChoice™, an industry leader in investment advice, managed account services, and strategic solutions for retirement plans and individuals, is launching a new individual retirement account (IRA) savings option that will utilize the Inspira® IRA platform. The new program will give current retirement plan participants, who access advice through the GuidedChoice platform, the ability to easily rollover assets into a GuidedChoice IRA. Additionally, individuals not currently using GuidedChoice will be able to open a GuidedChoice IRA and receive the same quality advice and affordable managed investments as plan participants.

“As defined contribution plans such as 401(k)s have grown to become the primary retirement tool for many Americans, the industry has responded with an impressive range of investment, advice, and management account solutions to help people make the most of them. But there is a gap for investors who leave their employer’s retirement plan – or who don’t have access to one in the first place,” explained David Bernard, Chief Client Officer for GuidedChoice.

Bernard continued, “To help meet this need, we created the GuidedChoice IRA. This innovative solution runs on the same GuidedChoice platform that powers our offerings for 401(k) and other employer sponsored retirement plans. With the introduction of this new service, IRA investors can enjoy the same professional, independent investment advice that we give participants in thousands of employer plans. They can take advantage of everything GuidedChoice has to offer – including our easy-to-use, behaviorally-based online interface, expert customer service, and integration with our unique GuidedSpending retirement income solution.”

The GuidedChoice IRA program represents an alliance between two industry innovators. GuidedChoice is an independent investment advisory firm dedicated to showing everyday investors the way to financial freedom. Inspira, an ABG Capital portfolio company, has created an open-architecture IRA platform with eSignature account sign-up process, online servicing and accountholder support that brings down costs associated with IRA administration.

“We are delighted GuideChoice selected Inspira to deliver the GuideChoice IRA,” said Lowell Smith, President of Inspira. “We believe our partnership gives individuals the right balance of affordable managed investments and advice that is missing in the marketplace. With GuidedChoice providing advice and investment management and Inspira facilitating the IRA process, retirement savers can be sure their investments are optimized to meet their unique financial goals – with the same high levels of expertise, service, and support found in retirement plans at many of the nation’s most progressive companies.”

GuidedChoice IRA will be made available in the first quarter of 2013. For more details about the program, contact Ashley Avaregan, SVP of Sales at or 888-675-4532 x101

GuidedChoice is an independent investment advisory firm specializing in investment advice, managed account services and strategic solutions for corporate and public retirement plans, advisors and individual retirement plan participants in many of the largest defined contribution plans in the U.S. They are also the creators of the award-winning Financial Guidance Theory (FGT), developed for retirement income planning. For more information, visit

Inspira is based in Pittsburgh, PA and is owned by ABG Capital.  Inspira was founded in 2002 and provides bundled providers, recordkeepers, third party administrators, financial advisors, affinity groups, broker dealers, CPAs and payroll companies with turnkey, cost-eliminating IRA solutions. For more information about Inspira, visit

ABG Capital Team Attends Gazelles 2012 Fortune Growth Summit

ABG Capital

ABG Capital

Two weeks, a team from ABG Capital was traveling to the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort & Spa in Phoenix, Arizona for the Gazelles Fortune Growth Summit.  There, the team spent two full days listening to talks by bestselling authors and business leaders whose expertise ranged from management to marketing while soaking in the beautiful Arizona landscape.

Some of the speakers they heard from were Jim Kouzes, Executive Professor of Leadership at the Leavey School of Business and Author of The Leadership Challenge; Chip Conley, Founder of Joie de Vivre Hotels and Author of Emotional Equations: Simple Truths for Creating Happiness & Success; and Vijay Govindarajan, Professor at Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth and Author of Power of Reverse Innovation. 

Pictures from the Summit can be seen here: