November 1, 2012

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Best of Business 2012

The Lighter Side of Business

Peri Kinder

November 1, 2012

It’s been an interesting year in the Beehive State, to say the least. Each year, Utah Business highlights some of the state’s biggest news stories that have affected local businesses. With frustrated voters, a slow economic rebound and record heat across the country, it would seem there should be little good news to report. But, with a little creativity, we can make lemon meringue pie out of lemons. So enjoy the Best of Business 2012.

Best Job Security for Meteorologists
Whether it’s due to global warming or normal, variable weather patterns, it’s been hot and dry this year. Speaking as someone who has an allergic reaction to snow shovels, the last winter was perfect: a few, lovely snowstorms (wonderful for snuggling up with hot chocolate and a book), followed by long periods of no snowstorms.   

But as a result, half of the state was on fire this summer and the other half was checking their fire insurance policies. A record-breaking number of wildfires torched Utah’s mountains, causing evacuations, talk of the Apocalypse and a run on American Red Cross supplies.

In 2011, record snowfall had skiers hitting the slopes until July, but during the past winter, man-made snow bailed out what could have been a disastrous season for the ski industry. Top-notch snow-making crews created ski-worthy snow out of, well, out of nothing, which is what the resorts had this year.

In other weather-related headlines, the state is either experiencing a devastating drought or farmers are harvesting bumper crops; we’re going to have an extra-wet winter this year or the drought will continue. At least meteorologists will still have jobs.

Best National Missionary Discussion
Mormonism has never been more talked about. Even when generations of Osmonds danced, grinned and sang endlessly through the ‘70s, the family’s religion was never discussed in depth. Most people thought Mormons were just extremely talented people with big hair and good dental hygiene.

Enter the well-coiffed Mitt Romney announcing his bid for the U.S. presidency, and suddenly Mormons are in the headlines. Usually when Mormons end up in the news, it’s for a high-profile polygamy case or someone studying the state’s indecipherable liquor laws. But this time, people just wanted to understand what the religion was all about.

Mormons across the country went berserk, excited about the chance to share their faith with the masses, and missionary referrals jumped one-gazillion percent. The only person not talking about his faith was Romney. Instead of having an intimate missionary moment with the media (complete with the Plan of Salvation flannel-board figures), Romney chose to deftly avoid the discussion.

Best Doomed Lawsuit
It was intense in the federal courtroom as software giants Novell and Microsoft came face-to-face to decide the future of the universe…yaaawn. I’m sorry. What was I talking about? Oh, right. The ongoing antitrust suit stemming from Novell’s claim that Microsoft violated antitrust laws by withholding interoperability information...snoooore. Whoops! Sorry again.

Even the appearance of Microsoft uber-genius and philanthropist Bill Gates couldn’t drum up any interest in this boring, not-really-a-trial lawsuit that ended up in a mistrial due to a deadlocked jury. (The jurors probably fell asleep, missing most of the riveting testimony. One jury member was actually in tears.) And, so far, no one can actually prove that Gates waved his hand Jedi-master-like in front of the jury and repeated, “This is not a case. This is not a case” before the jury left for deliberation.

The Utah-founded Novell Corporation vows to fight on, hoping to regain the $1 billion lost after purchasing WordPerfect and Quattro Pro in 1994 for $1.5 billion, only to sell the products two years later for less than $150 million. Microsoft claims Novell made a poor decision to purchase the products and just wants these expensive lawsuits to go away. Much like everyone else in the world.

Best Use of Traffic Barrels in a Supporting Role
What’s the difference between UDOT construction in Utah County and a sloth on Quaaludes? The sloth is faster.

Whoever invented the orange traffic cone should be rolling in dough, thanks to the Utah Department of Transportation and road construction in Utah County. The I-15 CORE project, which began soon after the pioneers entered the Salt Lake Valley, will have rebuilt 10 freeway interchanges and replaced more than 60 bridges when it is finally completed in December. It also added lanes between Lehi and Spanish Fork, and extended the express lane through Spanish Fork.

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