Muransky: Future of Business, Valley Relies on Analytics

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – There are more than 20,000 jobs that need filled in Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties. And, Ed Muransky, CEO of The Muransky Companies, says that number only includes the ones that exist today. 

For economics students who graduate from Youngstown State University, he told them, their careers don’t have to take them to the Federal Reserve or large financial institutions in cities like New York or Cleveland. 

“There’s more to it than paying you, liking you and making you feel good. There are other things that are real between those generations that, with your analytical minds, you might be able to help companies like mine or Covelli Enterprises,” Muransky told students in a lecture Thursday. “There’s a different metric to the 20-year-old, 18-year-old, 35-year-old that I don’t thoroughly understand. There’s a whole job set out there in the analytics of the workplace.”

And connecting those coming out of YSU to the companies in need of those services is an area that hasn’t yet been tapped into.

“We have JobsOhio and this group and that organization, but there’s nobody bridging the gap,” he said. “If you look at the econ school at YSU, there’s no one saying, ‘How do we get all of you to stay in our area and get your piece of that 20,000?’ “

Having Muransky on campus, said Ou Hu, chairman of YSU’s economics department, is part of an effort to do just that.

“Most of our YSU graduates flee from this area. I’m curious to find out why and know what better work we can do to be better in student retention and talent retention,” Hu said. “Bringing the real world and businesses to campus having a direct communication between businesses and higher education provides opportunity to introduce what’s in-demand.”

Next year, The Muransky Companies has an IT budget of $11 million, its founder and chairman said, a far cry from the roughly $500 per store it spent in the 1980s on cash registers. With that growth has come massive amounts of data. 

From his phone, Muransky said, he can pull up data on the individual Auntie Anne’s Pretzels stores his company operates and see which employees are working, daily sales, how often discount codes are being used and plenty more. For his health-care company, Southwoods Health, the information goes even deeper. 

The trick, he told the economics students, is to turn that data into something useful. For The Muransky Companies, what’s most useful is bridging the generation gap. It isn’t enough anymore to simply pay a good wage and develop a caring culture in the workplace. As more millennials and Gen Z employees come into the workforce, they want different things out of work than their parents and grandparents. 

“My generation graduated college, got a job, got married, bought a house. … Millennials are 11 years back. What we did at 22, they’re doing at 33,” he said. “It changed the whole economy. You like food. You want delivery. You like craft beer. You want to travel. And it changed the world.”

He challenged students in attendance to use their analytic skill set to come up with answers to the problem of turnover, as younger people tend to switch between jobs more frequently than their older counterparts. Annually, Muransky said his Auntie Anne’s stores see 34% turnover among managers, and training workers that leave is revenue that is permanently lost.

While many think of the study of economics as looking at large, nationwide trends such as GDP, there are many microeconomic applications, Hu explained.

“There’s a ton of data that’s hidden with business opportunities yet to be revealed. We train our students in analytical skills and problem-solving skills. Our students can process the data and try to reveal patterns in the data,” he said. “They can find if certain types of employees are more productive and why. We can pull that information from chaotic data. That’s what an economist does.”

While not an overly complex problem, Muransky pointed to an experiment at 15 Auntie Anne’s stores last year. The average time to process a transaction with a pin-and-chip card was 10 seconds. It isn’t long, he acknowledged, but with lines 30 customers deep and Black Friday approaching, he wanted to know if it could be quicker. The company looked into point of service machines equipped to handle tap-to-pay cards, which could process transactions in about two seconds. On Black Friday, he said, that reduced wait time translated to thousands of dollars in extra income.

It was successful enough that tap-to-pay machines were installed at other stores in the year that followed.

Muransky also offered insights into business operations he’s gathered over his 30-plus years in business. While he’s always looking for new business insights, he said his top concerns when running a business are decidedly old-school: customer service and a constant drive to stay on top.

Pointing to Southwoods’ recognition as one of the country’s top hospitals for patient satisfaction, he referred to words of wisdom from his college football coach, Bo Schembecler.

“ ‘If it ain’t broke, break it.’ That’s in every one of my thought process in all my businesses every day,” he said. “We’re the No. 1 hospital in the country [for patient satisfaction] and earlier this week I had my longest meeting ever about patient satisfaction. My people think I’m crazy, but if we don’t hold that standard, we won’t stay where we’re at.”

As he looks into the future of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley, he sees connections between businesses like his and the area’s development institutions – YSU, the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber and others across all industries – lies in cooperation and getting the next generation to stay here.

“The good news is the older generations and baby boomers that think Youngstown should still have steel, that are bitter waiting for the last furnaces to fire up, are dying off,” he said.

“I personally see a bright, bright view. I see people moving back, including my kids. I believe that as we speak, Youngstown is reinventing itself.”

Pictured: Ed Muransky, founder and chairman of The Muransky Companies, spoke to economics and business students at Youngstown State University Thursday.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.