This month, PAR was honored to be named as a recipient of the “Spirit of Tampa Bay” award from United Way’s Suncoast Chapter. United Way explains that the award is their way of recognizing companies that go “above and beyond” in organizing and energizing fundraising, volunteerism, and community engagement at their workplaces.

Cathy Smith, PAR’s Vice President of Community Relations, was thrilled to accept the award at a special half-time ceremony during a recent Tampa Bay Lightning game. For this honor, however, she credits PAR employees for their commitment and enthusiasm for helping others.

“From our beginning more than 35 years ago, PAR’s mission has included giving back to the community,” Cathy explains. Helping children and families in Tampa Bay is a special priority, and PAR employees have participated in a wide range of United Way Suncoast programs that support literacy, mental health, nutrition, and much more. “Staff participation was always strong,” says Cathy, “but about 15 years ago, we reached the milestone of 100% employee participation—and we’ve maintained that every year since.”

Each year, a large contingent from PAR participates in United Way’s annual Day of Caring, which brings together volunteer teams to tackle various projects that most agencies could never undertake on their own. Last fall, PAR staff helped organize supplies and donations at the Family Resource Center, a wonderful organization that helped more than 11,000 low-income and at-risk families in Hillsborough County last year.

United Way Pledge Week is one of the most fun weeks of the year at PAR. The week includes a series of games (with treats and prizes), from the hotly contested annual Scrabble competition to a ride-like-there’s-no-tomorrow tricycle race through our Distribution Center! The culmination of the week is a luncheon featuring speakers from local organizations who have benefited from PAR’s support through United Way—a wonderful way to end pledge week on a high note.

To learn more about PAR’s ongoing commitment to United Way and to other community service projects, visit our Community PARtners Web page.
Last week, PAR staff delivered gifts to a deserving local veteran's family.

All of us here at PAR want to send you our warmest wishes for a very happy holiday season. We look forward to helping you and those you serve in 2014. May your New Year be filled with peace, love, and joy!

This year, PAR staff worked with two organizations to spread holiday joy to those in need, by fulfilling the wishes from an Angel Tree for the children and teens served by the Joshua House and by adopting a veteran's family through Service Source, part of Abilities Foundation. Click on the attached links to learn more about these incredible organizations and learn how you can get involved.
The staff at PAR wishes you and your family an enjoyable, relaxing, and warm Thanksgiving holiday. We feel fortunate for you, our Customers, and are thankful that we can help with the important work you do all year long.
2013 has been a very busy year so far for PAR’s volunteer team!

PAR staff members and their families kicked off a chilly January with a children’s clothing drive for the Redland’s Christian Migrant Association, a group that serves migrant farm workers and their families here in Florida.

In February, PAR staff members helped organize the annual “Stars and Pars” golf tournament and auction to benefit The Children’s Home in Tampa. The Children’s Home provides a spectrum of social services for families in crisis including foster care, adoption, emergency shelters, child abuse prevention, and more.

What’s a corn-hole toss? Here at PAR, it’s an excuse to come together, test our pitching arms, laugh a lot—and raise funds to support Suncoast Hospice. A not-for-profit organization that serves local families, Suncoast Hospice helps those living with chronic and terminal illnesses, nearing the end of life, or experiencing grief. This year’s “toss,” held in February, helped raise funds—and awareness—for this vital community resource.

In March, several members of the PAR team gathered for a special breakfast in support of the PACE Center for at-risk girls. At the breakfast, recent PACE graduates described how their lives have been truly turned around by the caring, supportive environment at PACE. PAR is delighted to support this wonderful organization.

And let it be known throughout the kingdom (the animal kingdom, that is!) that the Tampa Bay Humane Society “Bark in the Park” trophy has been returned to its rightful place, here in the lobby at PAR! Once again this year, PAR claimed the title of top fundraising team at this annual Humane Society event.

Every April, a team from PAR dedicates one Saturday to Paint Your Heart Out, an organization that helps our elderly neighbors to maintain their homes with a fresh coat of paint. The PAR team takes things a step further, planting shrubs and doing some light landscaping chores to help spruce up the homes even more.

And while one part of the PAR team was painting houses…another team was heading out for the annual Walk for Autism Speaks! This year’s event was a huge success, raising thousands of dollars for autism research.

If you happened to drive past PAR headquarters in April, you would have been greeted by a gorgeous blue “pinwheel garden.” Each pinwheel in the garden represented a person who provided a voice and advocated for children who have been abused or neglected. PAR was proud to be a 2013 Hillsborough County Partner in Prevention during Child Abuse Prevention Month.

Several staff members also volunteered this spring at the Dress for Success (DFS) annual sale. Dress for Success helps women who are re-entering the workforce by providing appropriate professional clothing. Later this summer, the PAR team will be heading up a clothing drive for DFS.

In May, PAR recognized Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day by co-sponsoring the “Breakfast of Champions” for the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County, a leading advocate for children and families in the Tampa area. On the national level, PAR partnered with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) on a virtual event for children’s mental health awareness; this year, the event focused on resiliency and social connectedness as important factors in children’s mental health.

Several members of the PAR team also attended and supported the Hillsborough Family Justice Center fundraising luncheon. The Family Justice Center provides hope and support to victims of domestic violence.

Throughout the year, a growing team of volunteers from PAR deliver Meals on Wheels (MOW) to some of our elderly, house-bound neighbors. For many MOW recipients, the smiling faces that accompany their lunch may be the only visitors they receive during the day, so we all try to spend a few minutes checking in with each our MOW friends.

Florida Blood Services continues to send the Bloodmobile to the PAR headquarters parking lot every eight weeks because they know that the PAR team is a regular source of “the good stuff” that saves lives every day. We are particularly proud of several staff members who were first-time donors in 2013!

These are just a few of the many Community Service projects that PAR is honored to support. For more information, photos, and a list of organizations and activities that PAR supports throughout the year, visit the Community PARtners page on the PAR Web site.

PAR’s Customers clearly understand what “Creating Connections and Changing Lives” means—our 2012 “Capture the Connection” photography contest solicited 178 entries! Narrowing our choices to just three was a difficult task conducted by two professional photographers and our in-house marketing team.


The efforts and talent of all those who entered are greatly appreciated. The full gallery is available at http://www.parinc.com/capture/Gallery.aspx.


And now, on to our winners!


First Place
Aloha C. Romay, MS
Clinical Psychology
Paducah, KY


When I think of the word "Connection," I think of Family. Everything that we are and we will be begins at home. This photo to me describes how, even before we are born, we create a bond with those around us, those who love us unconditionally. A life that is about to begin has already changed the lives of those who have already started one.

Thank you PAR, Inc. for not only providing us therapists with the tools and resources we need to do our jobs more efficiently, but also for the amazing opportunity to be a part of this contest. For the latter one, I feel very grateful.

Second Place
Bonnie Voegeli, PsyD
School Psychologist
Brookfield, CT


My sons had spent an afternoon last summer playing in the sprinkler and on their swing set. In an effort to get all three kids into one picture, I spontaneously hung my youngest from the chains and had each brother grab him around the waist. They were so surprised and they stayed this way just long enough for me to capture this shot.

As I considered the theme of “Creating Connections, Changing Lives” this photo instantly came to mind, for the obvious reason of my youngest connecting to his two older brothers. Beyond that, however, is the life-changing connection that occurs from growing up with siblings. The bonds that are formed from simple joys such as a sprinkler, a swing set, and a warm summer day are as life-changing as you can get!

When PAR called to tell me that my photo had won second place, it was three days after my hometown of Newtown, CT had been devastated by the horrific school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Needless to say, our community is heartbroken over the loss of our town’s babies, teachers, administrator, and a fellow school psychologist. The news from PAR was such a welcomed surprise, and I told PAR that it was the first time I had smiled in three days. Thank you, PAR!


Third Place
Terri Sisson
School Psychologist
Madison County, VA


My name is Terri Sisson and I’m the one-and-only school psychologist in my small hometown, Madison County, Virginia. I love taking photos… and the photo session in Virginia Beach was no exception! This picture is one of my favorites because it is truly about “creating connections, changing lives.” Every year, my family goes camping in Virginia Beach with several families from our community. We spend lots of time at the beach, riding bikes, and bonding around the campfire. We are truly making connections and creating memories that I hope our children will cherish for a lifetime. I cannot express my excitement over the fact that my photo won the third-place prize. I am so happy that the judges saw the potential in a photo that is so near and dear to my heart. Thank you to PAR for this opportunity… What a wonderful Christmas present!
PAR is proud to support United Way! Last week, PAR employees took part in our annual fundraising campaign. For the 19th consecutive year, 100% of PAR staff participated in our annual United Way drive. We exceeded our fundraising goal, resulting in $105,993 being donated to help United Way continue its mission of helping others in our community.


For more information on how you can help United Way in your community, visit www.liveunited.org.

Our January catalog is now available!
Download a PDF of our latest catalog by clicking here.


By: James Swain (www.jimswain.com)

Question: It sounds like security is important issue.
Bob Smith: Absolutely. There has always been an issue of test security. People who steal tests are not only costing us money, but they’re also harming the industry and depriving the test authors of royalties. Having a stolen test floating around is potentially quite harmful.

Question: It’s not easy to stop people from stealing, especially in the Internet age. What steps are you taking to stop people from pirating your company’s material?
Cathy Smith: We have two employees who regularly surf the web, looking for people who are reproducing our content without permission. They’ve gotten very good at catching these folks and getting them to delete any of our content off their Web sites.

Bob Smith: On every order we send out, there’s a statement on our Order Form that says the Customer agrees to abide by the rules and not reproduce our products without written permission. 

Question:
How do you deal with someone who you catch stealing PAR products?
Bob Smith: Usually, a letter or phone call asking them to stop will do. Most people ultimately want to do the right thing.

Question: What if it doesn’t?
Bob Smith: We have hired attorneys in numerous situations to protect our copyrights, and we will continue to do so.

Question: Recently, a student at Harvard was prosecuted for downloading and sharing music files. A noted law professor at Harvard defended him in court and used the argument that the Internet is meant to be a free medium, and therefore cannot be controlled. The student lost the case, and is now on the hook for $400,000 in damages. How do you feel about that?
Bob Smith: I agree with the verdict. The student was stealing.

Question: What would you say to someone who was thinking of pirating your company’s material or tests?
Bob Smith: Don’t do it. Our products are very useful and they are valuable products that are used to help people make better decisions. By infringing on the copyright, you could help to invalidate the measure, causing harm not only to the instrument, but to the test publishing industry, the authors, and most importantly, to the client/patient.

PAR’s position is that Customers may not release copyrighted and confidential material to individuals not professionally qualified to obtain, review, or interpret them. PAR’s instruments are trade secrets protected by intellectual property laws, including copyright and trade secret laws. Their usefulness and validity would be greatly compromised if they were available to the general public.

Cathy Smith: All materials in our catalog and on our Web site are protected by copyright. This applies to all Web site information, testing products, and everything associated with them.

Submitting a completed PAR Qualification Form and/or placing an order to purchase materials from PAR implies your acceptance of these terms and conditions.

Question: Do you allow your tests to be rented?
Bob Smith: No, our products are not for rent. We do encourage the use of our proprietary tests in research projects. However, we require that a formal written permission agreement be obtained from PAR prior to beginning the work if a modified version or only a portion of test is needed.

Question: It sounds like you run a pretty tight ship.
Bob Smith: It has always been this way in this industry. Test products must be kept secure. Our products are highly restricted and will stay that way.
By: James Swain (www.jimswain.com)

Every business that produces copyrighted material–from movies to TV to books–is facing the issue of intellectual piracy of its products. I sat down to discuss this topic with Bob and Cathy Smith to see how PAR is dealing with the important issues of copyright infringement and test security.

Question: A couple of basic questions first. When did PAR start creating its own products?
Bob Smith: When PAR first got started, the majority of the products we sold were developed externally by authors and sent to us for publication consideration. If we accepted a product, we would provide editorial and production assistance and then market the product. As the company grew, so did our ability to provide a collaborative, internal system of developing products. Today, we internally develop most of our test products in collaboration with outside authors.

Question: What do you see as being the big difference between developing tests now versus when you got started?
Bob Smith: It’s much more expensive now to develop tests than it was in 1977. Unfortunately, the potential revenue doesn’t support the development of some good products today. And because it is so expensive to develop most new tests and because our staff has great test development expertise, we most often develop tests in collaboration with external authors.

Question: Is there an average length of time for creating a test?
Bob Smith: Typically, it takes 3-5 years to develop a test from its conceptual stage to a finished product.

Question: Can you tell me how many tests are presently in the development stages?
Cathy Smith: We presently have over 40 tests and new software products in development.

Question: There is presently in our culture a philosophy among certain individuals that the Internet was intended to be free, and therefore it is not a crime to download books, music, and movies, and then share them with other people. How do you feel about that?
Bob Smith: I strongly disagree with the current philosophy that all information on the Internet was intended to be free to share. It costs a significant amount of money to develop a product.

Question:  People who steal copyrighted material often don’t understand the ramifications of their crimes. For example, the music industry has seen an enormous decrease in new music being released. At the same time, the price of tickets to live music events is skyrocketing. As a result, going to concerts is becoming something that only a small portion of our society can now do because of cost.

The same thing is happening with books. Last year, Publisher’s Weekly reported that $3 billion dollars in books were stolen over the Internet. As a result, the industry has raised prices on books a whopping 15-25%, making it difficult for many people to buy books.

Do you see the same thing happening in your industry?
Bob Smith: Thankfully, no. We’re in an industry where the sale of our products is restricted to those who have certain qualifications as well as the training to use our tests. In addition, the tests are supposed to be kept secure. People in our industry understand that a stolen test could completely invalidate its use. So stealing is not nearly as prevalent as it is in other industries, at least not yet.

Cathy Smith: We are very careful about whom we sell our tests to and how our tests are distributed.

Question: What about people who try the old-fashioned approach and illegally Xerox your tests?
Bob Smith: In addition to having the copyright notice on all our tests, we also print a warning on our tests that states that if this test is not printed in a specific color of ink on white paper, then it’s an illegal copy.

Question: Has anyone ever reported illegal use of your tests?
Bob Smith: Yes. And we follow up on every one that is reported to us. Sometimes we even have to notify the head of an organization that one of their employees is illegally reproducing our tests.

Visit our blog Thursday, May 27th for the conclusion of this blog on the topic of intellectual piracy.
By: James Swain (www.jimswain.com)

Question: There are signs all throughout the PAR buildings that say, “Customer Service Is Our Most Important Product.” That’s not just a slogan, is it?
Cathy Smith: No, it’s a way of life here at PAR. The difference between PAR and other companies is our service. PAR employees live and breathe Customer Service.

Bob Smith: I was determined that regular communication with our Customers and outstanding Customer Service would be two qualities that would distinguish PAR from competitors. Excellent Customer Service has long been a core value of the company, from answering the phones with a live person to fulfilling orders on the day of receipt, responding to Customer e-mail inquiries within 24 hours, and providing error-free shipments.

Years ago, a Customer named David Nichols wrote me a letter when a product he’d purchased was delayed in shipping. He said that “... it was not right to promote your products, take Customers’ money, and then not deliver the product... delaying product delivery is not right.” I’ve never forgotten that. And, since David wrote that letter, he and I became good friends and we remain so today.

Question: What does that mean for your Customers?
Cathy Smith: Every year we ship tens of thousands of packages with an amazingly small number of shipping errors. Our distribution staff prides itself on making sure that our Customers receive exactly what they ordered as quickly as possible. We get thank you notes from our Customers all the time, telling us how much they appreciate our Customer Service and outstanding delivery and shipping.

Question: Having once run a business myself, I learned that happy employees lead to a high degree of Customer satisfaction. Do you find the same to be true?
Bob Smith: Yes! We measure Customer satisfaction in many ways. We send comment cards in every order, which all management staff read when they are filled out and returned by the Customer. We also do Customer surveys and talk to our Customers. We also offer an excellent return policy. If a Customer is not satisfied with a purchase, we will accept the return of any item—no questions asked.

Question: Three of your competitors recently merged. How do you see that affecting your business?
Bob Smith: The merger has helped us differentiate ourselves from our competition, and enabled us to be responsive to Customer needs by continuing to deliver outstanding Customer Service and innovative new products to our Customers.

Question: PAR has come a long way since 1978. What do you see the future holding?
Bob Smith: We will continue to innovate, grow, and evolve, and we will continue to take care of our Customers. Our company is not for sale, and PAR will remain family owned.

Question: I first became aware of you and Cathy through your philanthropic work in the Tampa area. Can you tell me more about the causes you’re involved in, and why you feel it’s important to give back to the community?
Cathy Smith: Twenty years ago, Bob and I decided that it was our corporate responsibility to give back to the community in which we lived. Over the years, that commitment has grown, and last year we donated to more than 80 organizations in the Tampa Bay area, including the Humane Society, Meals on Wheels, United Way, and a scholarship program at the University of South Florida, to name just a few. We also encourage our staff to participate in community activities and to support local charities.

Question: One final question. You recently adopted a new slogan. Why?
Bob Smith: We shortened our name from Psychological Assessment Resources to PAR, because that’s what our Customers called us. We changed our slogan to “Creating Connections. Changing Lives.” It sums up not only what we do every day, but it captures what we aspire to do as well.