Wanted: leaders One person can make an impact in this unique state, says Leadership New Hampshire, a statewide organization that promotes volunteerism and community involvement through connecting and educating a diverse pool of engaged or emerging leaders about the state of New Hampshire. Entering its 13th year, Leadership New Hampshire has begun accepting applications for participants in the 2005-2006 class. Leadership New Hampshire seeks candidates who have a passionate commitment to New Hampshire’s future, are accomplished in their field, and are involved in community activities. Each year’s class attends 12 seminar days held across the state and explores topics such as business and industry, community stewardship, the arts and humanities, environment and politics. For applications and further information, call Leadership New Hampshire at 226-2265 or visit leadershipnh.org. On trial American Tissue exec accused of swindling banks, investors The federal trial of Mehdi Gabayzadeh, former president and CEO of American Tissue, began Feb. 9, with prosecutors alleging that the 60-year-old executive “juiced” sales figures and created fictitious sales to defraud creditors. Gabayzadeh, 60, of Great Neck, is accused of swindling banks, financial institutions and investors of nearly $300 million while he was CEO of the company, which once the nation’s fourth-largest maker of toilet tissue and other paper products. American Tissue once employed 4,700 workers in 15 states, including New Hampshire. The company’s financial collapse took as a victim the pulp and paper mills in Berlin and Gorham, which were forced to close in September 2001, leaving more than 850 workers out of work. Nexfor Fraser later bought the mills, which reopened in June 2002 and now employs about 600 people. In opening arguments in the trial, Gabayzadeh’s lawyer, Raymond G. Perini, said his client did not know about accounting and U.S. business practices and instead blamed other executives. Perini described Gabayzadeh as an Iranian Jew who was forced from his homeland in 1979 after the paper company he ran was seized in the Islamic revolution. “He didn’t understand our business ways; he’s from another country,” Perini said. “He doesn’t have a college degree in accounting or an MBA.” In testimony, American Tissue’s former chief financial officer Edward I. Stein testified that Gabayzadeh was aware of all the financial maneuvers taking place, noting that in several conversations, the CEO used the financial acronym “EBITDA,” which stands for “earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization.” Stein did concede that Gabayzadeh initially balked when told of a scheme to “juice” the company’s books. “It’s against our contract with the bank. It’s wrong,” Stein said Gabayzadeh initially told him. However, Stein said when he pressed Gabayzadeh, saying there was no other choice, the defendant allegedly told him, “I understand. It’s OK.” Stein also said Gabayzadeh was the driving force behind allegedly falsifying some of the records, reportedly telling subordinates, “I’m the boss,” and ordering them to proceed with questionable practices. Stein, 59, pleaded guilty to two federal charges of securities and bank fraud in 2003 and faces up to 30 years in prison when he is sentenced. On the fly Entrepreneurs can hit the slopes and make their pitch The folks behind the Start-Up NH Business Plan Competition have launched a companion event - called Peak Pitch ‘05, a New Hampshire version of a business “elevator pitch.” According to Jesse Devitte of Borealis Ventures, a member of the Start-Up NH steering committee, “Peak Pitch ‘05 gives participants the opportunity to pitch their business ideas to a variety of venture investors as they ride together up the mountain on a high-speed chair lift. They’ve got six minutes and 1,400 vertical feet to convince potential investors that their idea is worth chancing hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars on. Participants could potentially come away with a new business partner or at the very least get valuable tips to refine their plans, so that they are more attractive to venture capitalists, banks and other financiers in the long run.” The event - which will take place on March 10 at the Mount Sunapee Resort in Newbury — is open to start-up entrepreneurs as well as established businesses in need of additional capital investment. Meanwhile, the deadline is March 31 for entrepreneurs to enter the Start-Up NH Business Plan Competition 2005. The event, run by NH Advantage Foundation, a non-profit organization founded by former Gov. Craig Benson, offers the largest business plan cash prizes in the United States — $250,000. Innovation 2004 Bar survey lists state’s most innovative organizations BAE Systems tops the list of the top 10 most innovative New Hampshire organizations, based on the number of patents issued in 2004, according to a tally by the New Hampshire Bar Association’s Intellectual Property Law Section. BAE Systems, which has two divisions based in Nashua, more than doubled the number of patents it received in 2004 over 2003, according to the survey. It’s the third year in a row that BAE Systems has led the state in the number of patents issued. Thermal Dynamics, based in West Lebanon, made its top 10 debut this year at No. 2. In order, the top 10 organizations are: 1. BAE Systems 2. Thermal Dynamics 3. Xanoptix 4. DEKA Products 5. AmberWave Systems -TIED - Dartmouth College 7. Segway 8. FlashPoint Technology 9. Brookstone 10. Onux Medical, Spectra, and Terraconnect (all tied for 10th place) All told, the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office granted 358 utility, design and plant patents to New Hampshire companies, colleges and universities in 2003 — a 2 percent increase from 2003. Patents issued to independent inventors and not to corporations or schools were not counted in this tally. “New Hampshire has long been strong in electronics and medical products,” said attorney Phil Decker, immediate past chair of the bar’s Intellectual Property Law Section. “We are also strong in the bedrock inventions that defy easy categorization. Just look at our plasma torches, Segway transporters and Brookstone consumer products. We have a strong base.” For more information call Decker at 766-1910 or visit the New Hampshire Bar Association’s Intellectual Property Section Web site at nhiplaw.org. Life savers Nationwide effort targets preventable deaths The Foundation for Healthy Communities is asking New Hampshire hospitals to join a nationwide effort aimed at saving 100,000 lives over the next 18 months. The Institute for Healthcare Improvement, a Boston-based non-profit organization that develops quality improvement standards for the health-care industry, has created the “100,000 Lives” campaign, a program based on quality practices that have been proven to prevent avoidable deaths. The Institute of Medicine has estimated that 100,000 preventable deaths occur every year as the result of medical errors or injuries. “The goal of the campaign is to create safer, more effective care by making hospitals commit to standards of care that have been proven in practice,” said Rachel Rowe, associate executive director for the FHC. The six quality improvement measures that comprise the program include specific interventions used to prevent deaths due to heart attacks, medication errors and certain types of infections as well as instituting specially trained teams that respond to patients showing sudden adverse changes in their condition. Rowe said the FHC’s role will be to work with hospitals and assist them in measuring and collecting admissions data that correlate to the six measures. “We’ve had several hospitals already sign up so far and we are expecting that most will,” said Rowe. The results of the campaign are expected to be available in June 2006.