Issuu on Google+

legalbiz

|

consultingbiz

|

webbiz

|

accountingbiz

|

employersbiz

september 2011

transformational    Larner’s Office Furniture    Birdsong Gregory    Anvil Prototype & Design    The Baldwin Company    Handshaw Dr. Daniel Murrey Executive Director Committee for Charlotte 2012, Inc.

Queen City Welcomes National Stage

Scan to view greatercharlottebiz.com

Change Service Requested 7300 Carmel Executive Park Dr., Ste. 115, Charlotte, N.C. 28226-1310

PRSRT STD U.S. Postage PAID Permit No. 505 Charlotte, NC

Internet | Phone | Cable TV | Ethernet

You don’t just run your business, you live and breathe it. You built it from the ground up — and you will never stop giving it your all. That is why you work with a communications partner who really gets what entrepreneurs want. A partner who is always bringing new ideas to make your business more productive. Time warner Cable business Class. You first. The technology follows.

TwCbC.Com

|

1.866.TwC.4bIZ

Some restrictions apply. Time Warner Cable Business Class is a trademark of Time Warner Inc. Used under license. ©2011 Time Warner Cable. All rights reserved.

in this issue

f

2

e

a

t

22

u

r

e

s

cover story

Committee for Charlotte 2012

What does it take to host the quadrennial Democratic National Convention? According to Committee for Charlotte 2012, Inc. Executive Director Dan Murrey, it takes hospitality, opportunity and a whole lot of inclusiveness…exactly what Charlotte has to offer. That unique and refreshing combination of hospitality and opportunity, says Murrey, distinguishes Charlotte as the ideal host for the Democratic National Convention in 2012.

12

Larner’s Office Furniture Relationships factor heavily in the business of Larner’s Office Furniture, owned and run by brothers, Dan and Daryl Larner. In addition to quality products and services, their attention to detail, level of communication and dependable followup make them exceptional. Customers describe them as “top of the line” and say they “can’t imagine doing business with anyone else.”

16 Birdsong Gregory If you’re familiar with the grilled steak scent of a ShopBloom billboard, been in a Bloom Grocery Store and thought, “Wow, this is different,” or heard auto enthusiasts wax on about Croftgate products, you can appreciate Birdsong Gregory’s expertise. Early on they decided to specialize in one niche—Shopper Marketing—and become the regional market leader.

departments publisher’spost

4

legalbiz

5

Transforming the Business of Law to Meet the Needs of Business

consultingbiz

7

Managing and Delivering Change to Optimize Business Value

webbiz

9

New Media Strategies, Secrets and Solutions

accountingbiz

11

Accounting, Tax and Consulting Solutions

employersbiz

21

Legislative and Regulatory Highlights for Area Employers

biznetwork

28 Anvil Prototype & Design A 3D printer is exactly what it sounds like. In simple terms, it takes a digital image and prints out a physical, 3-dimensional double that you can hold in your hand. Anvil Prototype & Design Managing Partner Bill Watson is doing what he can to ensure Charlotte remains on the cutting edge by distributing the latest 3D technologies and introducing them to new industries.

34 The Baldwin Company “People confuse public adjusters with independent adjusters,” says owner Wes Baldwin. As a public adjuster, he points out that their allegiance is with the policy holder. Baldwin believes his firm distinguishes itself through its attitude and describes himself as “no shrinking violet.” They want the property loss victim to come out of the situation as best they can.

s e p t e m b e r 2 0 1 1

44

on the cover: Dr. Daniel Murrey Executive Director Committee for Charlotte 2012, Inc.

legalbiz

|

consultingbiz

|

webbiz

|

accountingbiz

|

employersbiz

september 2011

   Larner’s Office Furniture    Birdsong Gregory    Anvil Prototype & Design    The Baldwin Company    Handshaw Dr. Daniel Murrey Executive Director Committee for Charlotte 2012, Inc.

Photo by Wayne Morris

QUEEN CITY WELCOMES NATIONAL STAGE

Scan to view greatercharlottebiz.com

40

Handshaw Evolving from a company selling e-learning solutions, to one offering diversified services, Dick Handshaw says, “For us it is all about results and the client relationship. We spend the time to understand the client’s business. Together, we help our client craft a custom solution that will meet a business need. We look for clients where we can make a difference.”

w w w. g re a t e rc h a r l o t t e b i z . c o m

[publisher’spost] 704-676-5850

An Opportunity Not To Miss— Charlotte in 2012 When the Democratic National Committee chose Charlotte, North Carolina, as its site for the Democratic National Convention the week of September 3rd, 2012, that decision was based on much more than Charlotte being a charming and attractive city. John Paul Galles Strategically, President Obama won North Carolina by the slim margin of 14,177 votes in 2008. He wants to win it again. North Carolina has a democratic governor, Beverly Perdue. Charlotte has a democratic mayor, Anthony Foxx. North Carolina became a “swing” state in 2008 with its changing demographics. North Carolina is known as a southern state. In addition, Charlotte has an excellent airport with direct connections to many major airports around the country. Charlotte has the Time Warner Cable arena and Bank of America Stadium and the Charlotte Motor Speedway. It is the second largest banking city in the nation with a burgeoning energy industry in addition to entrepreneurial activities. Add the fact that Mayor Foxx lobbied to have it in the Queen City on numerous occasions, and it becomes more evident that Charlotte’s got a lot going for it. All of these factors played a role in the decision to hold the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte. Democrats want to reelect President Obama and Charlotte is the official launching pad for the reelection campaign. With 30,000 to 35,000 delegates, national and international media, key policy and political decision-makers and other visitors patronizing area hotels, restaurants, entertainment and other businesses, what is most important to pulling off a successful convention are the volunteers. The Committee for Charlotte 2012, Inc. will be recruiting over 7,000 people to participate and support this event. They want all types of people, democrats, republicans, independents, younger people, older people, experienced people and inexperienced people. Volunteers will work events and activities and support delegates and media as well as VIPs, policy people and decision-makers who need to be greeted, welcomed to Charlotte, escorted, ushered, assisted and supported in so many different ways. Over the course of the next year, the Charlotte in 2012 host committee will hold numerous meetings for gathering volunteers, organizing and educating them to the multitude of tasks and activities. As a reference, when the convention was held in Denver in 2008, that convention used about 14,000 volunteers for jobs ranging from assembling delegate welcome bags to drivers to hospitality and informational personnel. Volunteers also hosted delegations from each state as well as media and VIPs visiting the city. They held at least 1,500 events on the master event calendar, ranging from small state delegation breakfasts at local hotels to large concerts. Sponsoring businesses and private individuals paid for the majority of the events. Visitor spending in Denver reached about $26.4 million on lodging and accommodations, approximately $3.5 million on transportation, over $19.1 million on food and beverages, and $3.9 million on entertainment, souvenirs and other merchandise. Charlotte in 2012 outreach will be to individuals and to businesses of all types and sizes. Diversity and opportunity are especially important to their efforts. They seek to be extremely inclusive and broadly collaborative at the same time. You may sign up and/or get involved by going to their website, www.charlottein2012.com. Simply complete the information requested in the boxes under “Get Involved.” They will keep you informed about their progress and their needs. This event can be a transformational opportunity for Charlotte. We have an opportunity on the national stage, but also the global stage. We can exhibit and demonstrate the quality of our people and our location to people around the globe. We will certainly feel the economic benefits for the event itself, but we want to make an impression that brings benefits for many years to come. Get involved! Sign up today! Become an ambassador within our own city to thousands of people visiting Charlotte for the first time. We want them to know about Charlotte’s hospitality and charm and gracious nature so they come back time after time after time. They may even choose to relocate and become part of our community. Get connected now so you can participate in this watershed event. biz

Let me know what you think - jgalles@greatercharlottebiz.com

4

s e p t e m b e r 2 0 1 1

September 2011 Volume 12 • Issue 09 Publisher John Paul Galles x102 jgalles@greatercharlottebiz.com

Associate Publisher/Editor Maryl A. Lane x104 mlane@greatercharlottebiz.com

Creative Director Trevor Adams x107 tadams@greatercharlottebiz.com

Sales Manager Chris Sessions x106 cell: 704.816.0605 csessions@greatercharlottebiz.com

partners CC Communications, Inc. Central Piedmont Community College hiSoft Technology International Limited Potter & Company, P.A. The Employers Association Wishart, Norris, Henninger & Pittman, P.A.

Contributing Writers Zenda Douglas Barbara Fagan Heather Head Casey Jacobus Sheila Neisler

Contributing Photographers Trevor Adams Wayne Morris Galles Communications Group, Inc. 7300 Carmel Executive Park Dr., Ste. 115 Charlotte, NC 28226-1310 704-676-5850 Phone • 704-676-5853 Fax www.greatercharlottebiz.com • Press releases and other news-related information: editor@greatercharlottebiz.com. • Editorial: mlane@greatercharlottebiz.com. • Advertising: jgalles@greatercharlottebiz.com. • Subscription inquiries or change of address: subscriptions@greatercharlottebiz.com. • Other inquiries: please call or fax at the numbers above or visit our website www.greatercharlottebiz.com. © Copyright 2011 by Galles Communications Group, Inc. All rights reserved. The information contained herein has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable. However, Galles Communications Group, Inc. makes no warranty to the accuracy or reliability of this information. Products named in these pages are trade names or trademarks of their respective companies. Views expressed herein are not necessarily those of Greater Charlotte Biz or Galles Communications Group, Inc. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without written permission from the publisher. For reprints call 704-676-5850 x102. Greater Charlotte Biz (ISSN 1554-6551) is published monthly by Galles Communications Group, Inc., 7300 Carmel Executive Park Dr., Ste. 115, Charlotte, NC 28226-1310. Telephone: 704-676-5850. Fax: 704-676-5853. Subscription rate is $24 for one year. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Greater Charlotte Biz, 7300 Carmel Executive Park Dr., Ste. 115, Charlotte, NC 28226-1310.

w w w. g re a t e rc h a r l o t t e b i z . c o m

[legalbiz]

In light of several cases where the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has found that employers’ social media policies violate federal law, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has surveyed current cases before the NLRB regarding these policies. There are currently 129 cases that have come before the NLRB that involve social media in some way. (See: w w w. u s c h a m b e r. c o m / reports/survey-socialmedia-issues-nlrb) The base questions involved include: whether there is a policy, whether the action prohibited by the policy is protected by federal law, and whether the employer unlawfully interrogated, threatened or surveilled employees. For example, is a statement of one supervisor to one or more employees about what they can and cannot say on Facebook an “employer policy”? Maybe. Is expressing the desire that a building collapse and kill the management of a company protected? Probably not. Is firing a person who complained about the quality of the food served at an event unlawful? Maybe. It is important to remember that the issues

A recent survey of 1,409 small business owners (businesses with annual revenues of less than $25 million) by Harris Interactive found that many (84%) of the owners believe the national economy is on the wrong track. Interestingly, a majority of owners (61%) thought their business was on the right track. The top five challenges for their businesses expressed by the owners were: • economic uncertainty, • the growth of U.S. debt and deficit, • the 2010 healthcare bill, • over-regulation, and • high taxes. The uncertainty felt by owners showed glaringly when business owners talked about the future of their business: 39% thought their best days were ahead; 23% thought their best days were behind; and 38% just don’t know if the

regarding employees’ use of social media are the same for employees’ use of any media. The media used can be T-shirts employees wear to work, posters they hold on the sidewalk, letters they write to customers, and meetings they hold during working hours. If the action is designed to get more than one employee involved in addressing an issue related to the terms or conditions of their employment, it is most likely protected by federal law. In adopting any social media or other policy, employers must make certain that they do not have policies that restrict employees’ ability to discuss and organize about any concerns they have related to their employment. Further, employers must not engage in actions, like monitoring employee communications, in a way that could restrict or discourage employees from discussing issues they have with their employment. What is and is not acceptable under federal law is getting harder to predict, and employers need to have experienced advice to make certain they don’t end up being the next headline.

future will be better or worse for them. Of the owners surveyed, 41% of them don’t know if America’s future will be better or worse overall. The survey also revealed that the owners want the federal government to provide certainty (85%), not assistance (8%), and to otherwise get out of the way (79%). Eighty percent of the owners view the debt and deficit as definitely impacting their business’ ability to survive. The bottom line for most owners in the survey is that they aren’t hiring and don’t know how to plan based on what they have experienced so far in 2011 in terms of the economy overall and what the government has or has not been doing. They are looking for some level of certainty about the future they can build on.

c o n s t r u c t i ve c a t a ly s t fo r c re a t i ve c o n s c i o u s n e s s

Entrepreneurship and Economic

Strength

The University of Nebraska—Lincoln Bureau of Business Research has released its 2010 rankings of states based on their relative economic strength. The study focuses on 5 factors. Those factors are: • Percent growth in employer establishments • Percent growth in employer establishments per capita • Business formation rate • Patents per thousand residents; and • Gross receipts from sole proprietorships and partnerships per capita. In 2010, North Carolina fell from 29 in 2008 to 41 in 2010. South Carolina fell from 43 in 2008 to 50 in 2010. The top five states were New York, Washington, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Oregon. In another more comprehensive study by the U. S. Chamber of Commerce released this year, North Carolina and South Carolina earned the following rankings: › North Carolina  9th in Small Business Lending  10th in College Affordability  11th in Business Birth Rate  19th in High Tech Share of All Businesses  22nd in Economic Output per Job › South Carolina  3rd in Export Intensity  7th in Growth in Share of National Exports  8th in Small Business Survival Index 15th in Business Birth Rate 24th in Business Tax Climate

Content contributed by Wishart, Norris, Henninger & Pittman, P.A., which partners with owners of closely-held businesses to provide comprehensive legal services in all areas of business, tax, estate planning, succession planning, purchases and sales of businesses, real estate, family law, and litigation. For more information, contact Gary Smith at 704-364-0010, follow on Twitter @ glawnews, or visit www.wnhplaw.com.

september 2011

5

6225 Blakeney Park Drive Charlotte, NC 28277 704.752.9292 carolinapremierbank.com

Dear Neighbors and Friends: STEP INTO OUR TIME MACHINE AND JOIN US ON OUR FRONT PORCH… DESTINATION: THE AMERICAN DREAM OF OWNING A HOME. It was a time when you met with an old-fashioned banker and you talked about your life’s dreams and plans. Your banker really took the time to listen and you respected and trusted the advice you were given. DESTINATION: THE PRESENT. Phew! What a trip is had been over the past ve years. Home ownership has turned into a nightmare with sleepless nights and difcult decisions for many families across our nation that are now losing their homes through foreclosure, or making their ways through a labyrinth of negotiations while trying to save their American Dream. We passed unknowingly into an unchartered universe, what I call the twilight zone of the banking industry mortgage mess….a period when consumers were often victimized by predatory lenders. A period when the banker cared little about the dreams and plans but more about just getting the deal done and collecting a nice incentive and a myriad of fees through an impersonal assembly line process. This often led to aggressive and sloppy underwriting which steered the borrower to a mortgage that was barely affordable. O.K., BACK TO OUR FRONT PORCH. ric ican an We are honored to include an invitation to a new, yet old-fashioned experience in the American nal Dream of owning a home…creating Charlotte’s newest landmark. We have built a traditional front porch with rocking chairs, and a table where you could relax with a tall glass of lemonade nade na de or Cheerwine and a cookie, overlooking a well manicured yard complete with a tree swing.. As with all our dreams it is always sunny and the temperature is comfortable year round. From m its inception our mortgage division was designed to create an experience that will restore condence in home ownership. We are committed to having our neighbors, friends, and families pursue their American n dream, by extending credit safely and soundly… and in a way that evokes fond memories iess of ie better days. There is so much to be said about how important porches were to families, a gathering place lac acee for folks to share their thoughts, dreams, and even an occasional ‘tall-tale’ with families, friends and passersby. We would be delighted to listen to your thoughts and dreams on ou ourr front porch. Please join us at our ofce….We think the world would be a better place for everyone iff every bank had a large front porch and the family of customers used it like they did in years go gone ne b by. y. Sincerely,

John S. Kreighbaum President and Chief Executive Ofcer

hiSoft Technology International Limited

[consultingbiz]

Global Partner for Success

- verb – from Middle Change \'chanj\ English to make radically different

L

isten to most business conversations today and you’ll hear a discussion of some type of change. These “changes” could be major transformations such as mergers, new hardware or software integrations or re-organizations/alignments of critical business processes. Alternatively, the changes could be minor, such as the retirement of a manager or a move from one building to another. Regardless of the size, change is happening within organizations. When asked about change, leaders generally believe their organizations are agile and change-ready. However, a majority of employees report feeling unsure of multiple, simultaneous organizational changes, the business reasons behind the changes and how the changes are impacting them and their jobs. Leaders generally understand the importance of changing and keeping up with the trends but few understand the true value in professionally managing the change. The Impacts of Change Change is natural and beneficial to a company. Yet, while change may be beneficial, a change to a process not only impacts the process, but the people and technology behind the process as well. This ripple effect can disrupt ongoing work as well as delay or impact customer accounts. Most individuals would never think of planning a trip without a map and strategy. Similarly, organizations should plan the logistics of a new initiative through project management (the map) and Change Management (the strategy). These provide the analysis and the necessary people and process support of a change, thereby increasing the success of the transition within the organization. Together these components provide an integrated roadmap for successful change—or the “management” of a change. Consider the example of a major Southeastern utility, which was required to implement a set of software and business processes to comply with a new federal regulation limiting the number of hours employees could work in nuclear plants. The change itself was relatively straightforward—employees could no longer work more than a certain number of hours. However, the people, process and technology impacts were significant. Many long-term employees stood to lose overtime and other financial benefits. Other employees gained duties with no additional pay, including learning how to track, manage and report hours through a new system. Finally, managers and leaders had to develop new work plans based on the reduction of work hours. Working as part of a project management team, this utility created a stakeholder plan to identify everyone who may be impacted and how he or she would be impacted. These impacts extended beyond the first level. For example, while front line employees were an obvious audience, the managers and supervisors of these employees were impacted as well. Using the stakeholder plan, the team developed a current state, future state and gap analysis to determine the many levels of impact across the organization. Next, the team developed a Change Management Plan that included focused activities to move the stakeholders through the project and change stages. Kathleen Kraft, Senior Managing Consultant and Organizational Change Management Knowledge Domain Leader for the U.S. IT Services Division

c o n s t r u c t i ve c a t a ly s t fo r c re a t i ve c o n s c i o u s n e s s

These activities focused on: • Awareness—helping stakeholders be aware of the change • Desire—learning the impact on them as individuals, managers and employees and why the change was important to them • Knowledge—training, communications, and information to prepare stakeholders for the change • Ability—supporting stakeholders in understanding the change on their roles and behaviors, including coaching, role playing, and support • Reinforcement—measuring the success and adapting the plan with new messages, activities, rewards as the new behaviors and tools become part of the work culture Model courtesy of Prosci ADKAR Model The only difference in this project deployment—and a key contributor to a nearly 98 percent project success rate at the utility—was a formal Change Management program. In fact, two years after implementation, this utility reported fewer than 200 instances of non-compliance over a three-year period compared to more than 3,000 at a competing utility. Non-compliance is linked to thousands of dollars in fines. The Value of Change Management This example is hardly an isolated incident. In a biannual survey by Prosci— the leading Change Management learning and research organization—of more than 5,000 Fortune 500 companies and consultants, projects that included Change Management programs are four times more successful than those without formal Change Management programs. Major, complex changes require a great deal of planning and project management. Change Management is actually a crucial component of project management, ensuring stakeholders are identified, fully understand the changes, have the tools to work in the new environment and are supporting the success of these activities through progress measures and team celebrations. While change may be a natural part of our lives, the execution of a successful change requires a planned, thoughtful change management plan. What’s the next change adventure on your horizon? Consider calling your Change Agent and working up a Change Map—you’ll have a more successful journey! Content contributed by hiSoft Technology International Limited, a consulting services firm. For more information, contact Kathleen Kraft, Senior Managing Consultant and Organizational Change Management Knowledge Domain Leader for the U.S. Consulting Division, at kathleen.kraft@hisoft.com or 704-944-3155 or visit www.hisoft.com.

september 2011

7

skyrocketing health care costs! Knauff can help.

We have creative cost-saving strategies. your trusted advisors at knauff are here to help you.

workers’ compensation | property - liability | surety bonds | employee benefits | safety | 401-k | homeowners - auto

1001 Morehead Square Drive, Suite 400 Charlotte, NC 28203-0013 800.849.8008 | knauffins.com

Leadership Insights 2011 Fall Session | By Invitation Only

Networking 3:30-4:00 PM | Program 4:00-6:00 PM These times are especially challenging for business leaders like you, trying to deliver revenue growth in a down economy—a tough situation requiring the full engagement of your knowledge and skills.

October 19, 2011

Join us for the fall series of Leadership Insights to learn how to better deliver your results.

Democratic National Convention

This executive roundtable will provide a forum for CEOs, CFOs and business owners to seek advice and share experiences, just as you would with a corporate board of directors. Come build relationships with each other that will help you grow.

Dan Murrey | Executive Director, Charlotte in 2012 DNC Host Committee

September 21, 2011

November 16, 2011

Creating an Intentional Culture: Winning at Work and at Home

Creating Your Best Future

Tom Lane | Primary Consultant and COO, Center for Intentional Leadership

Dave Zerfoss | Chair, Vistage International

Please contact Joan Haber of Knauff Insurance at (704) 405-0076 or jhaber@knauffins.com for more information.

8

s e p t e m b e r 2 0 1 1

w w w. g re a t e rc h a r l o t t e b i z . c o m

CC Communications, Inc.

[webbiz]

New Media Strategies, Secrets and Solutions

Building Trust Online According to a recent 2010 Pew Research Center survey, over 21 percent of adults in America typically search online for product information in a given day, and nearly six in ten adults (60 percent) at least occasionally search the Web to make important product and service purchase decisions. While there is certainly no shortage of information available online, many consumers remain nervous and skeptical about encountering potential false claims, misleading offers, and dangerous scams that might rob them of their cash and credit identities when first connecting to an unknown company. As a business competing over the Web, how do you successfully convert increasing online shopper activity into actual sales? How do you inspire confidence in your products and encourage potential new customers to safely engage with you for the first time? Think “Trust Assurance.” Prove your worthiness with a Better Business Bureau trust seal… As an accredited business, displaying the BBB logo on your website provides instant recognition and clear consumer assurance that your company has agreed to follow proper business standards and practices that ensure the responsible and ethical treatment of your customers. Even if consumers are unfamiliar with your specific business, they know that a BBB-accredited business can be trusted because it adheres to strict codes of conduct and truthful advertising guidelines. Online BBB seals link directly to an up-to-date review of your accredited business which is posted independently on the BBB website, providing company history, address and contact information, professional licensing information, as well as a record of any consumer BBB complaints and if those complaints were resolved. Businesses are also graded on a simple reliability rating scale, ranging from “A+” to “F.” A good accredited business report can be verified with a linkable BBB seal to offer immediate reassurance to any consumers when visiting your website. For more information about BBB accreditation, visit www.bbb.org. There are other supplemental security certifications available that may be purchased from reputable vendors that can further promote consumer confidence online. Companies like BizRate.com, buySafe.com, McAfeeSECURE.com, InternetConsumerGuard.com, TrustGuard.com and others offer useful paid verification programs. Ecommerce websites that collect sensitive credit card information must offer greater assurance by displaying trust seals from a well-known online transaction agency, such as Verisign.com TRUSTe. com, Authorize.net, Google Checkout and PayPal.com. Strengthen your online presence by identifying your physical location using Google Places… Creating a Google Places listing for your business and embedding an interactive map and link within your website provides instant, visual proof that your business operates from an established physical location. It is especially important to counter consumer fear that an unknown online business may be operating from overseas and thus is not necessarily subject to U.S. law and banking regulations. Setup of a Google Places listing is free and may contain an uploaded image of your storefront or products. The Google Maps interface also offers a satellite view of your location, further confirming your physical location. Reinforce customer trust within the “fine print” in your website... You will encourage greater confidence and generate more sales simply by presenting clear customer service details. Make sure to include prominent, upfront content about your sales and service policies, guarantees, as well as your privacy and data security practices. Incorporate photos of actual customer service team members, adding a degree of friendly and approachable familiarity to your Web presentation. Consider posting unedited customer reviews and satisfaction rankings within your website, demonstrating your willingness to stand behind the quality of your products. And, include an easy way for customers to directly contact key company representatives so that any potential service issues can be easily addressed ~Kip Cozart and resolved.

c o n s t r u c t i ve c a t a ly s t fo r c re a t i ve c o n s c i o u s n e s s

QUESTION

&

ANSWER (“Plus”) better Q: IsthanGoogle+ Facebook? - Matthews, N.C.

A:

Some say yes. Some say no. PCMag.com reports that Google+ is already at 25 million users and growing. It took Facebook and Twitter more than two years to reach that level. Google’s established infrastructure and market share make switching to Google+ an easy transition for most. Google is now used for 65.5 percent of searches. Gmail boasts almost 195 million users. Google Analytics is the most widely used Web statistics service, and Google’s Android commands a 40 percent share of the smartphone market. On the other hand, Facebook is firmly entrenched as the dominant social network with over 750 million active users, 50 percent logging in every day and averaging 130 friends. As the competition ensues, watch both platforms for new features, usability upgrades, and improvements in lifestyle integration. Have a question about Web design or online marketing? Submit your question to www.greatercharlottebiz.com/webbiz. Questions & Answers may be reprinted here in upcoming editions of Greater Charlotte Biz!

work Data Systems Simplifies Data Security › Privacy Every day there seems to be another news story about a bank, hospital or business falling victim to a data security breach. Yet the fact remains—sensitive, private data must be organized, stored, shared and communicated through the Internet, making it increasingly more important to have robust security measures in place. Enter Privacy Data Systems. Their innovative website at www.privacydatasystems.com makes understanding data security very simple. Clear-cut visual navigation directs visitors to the right services quickly and efficiently. Education and product details are available within one to two clicks. And action steps abound to lead visitors to the next steps for many types of conversions. Content contributed by CC Communications, a Web design, programming and Internet media company providing a full array of services to businesses and organizations to enhance and produce effective Web, email, multimedia marketing initiatives and business process improvements. For more information, contact Kip Cozart at 704-543-1171 or visit www.cccommunications.com/resources_articles.cfm.

september 2011

9

ettain group is a nationally renowned IT solutions company that’s been headquartered in the Design Center for more than a decade. ettain needed additional office space, but didn’t want to leave their uniquely inspiring work environment, so we created 3,000 square feet of additional, customized space to meet their needs. We have a community of thriving businesses like ettain at the Design Center. If you’re interested in exploring Charlotte’s most unique address, call Meredith Dickerson at 704-971-6517.

Thousands Are Searching...

WILL YOU BE SEEN?

G et In sp ire d :

designcentercarolinas.com

the visibility of your business with imapCharlotte.com 3D Online Interactive Map! With all the advantages of Google Maps and more, imapCharlotte.com is the Charlotte region’s premier 3D online and mobile interactive map, raising your business’ visibility and showing it off exclusively, putting you in charge of the way it is seen and found! Comprehensive interactive map allows browsing by category or business name. Prominently display your logo or use a billboard to announce your company location. Banner ads help your business get noticed!  Popup screen displays your company information exclusively. Add coupons and manage your promotional campaigns online quickly and easily. Easy-to-use user interface; listing can be edited 24/7 for immediate impact. Upload company content at the click of a button: logo, website link, social media links, coupons, images, slideshows, videos, and more, with dashboardtracking of ROI and lead generation sent directly to your email. Add-ons available including 3D building presentation and video tour of city.

1-877-823-4123 Welcome Screen + Top Banner + Billboard or Large Logo $3499 6 Spots Available

imapCharlotte.com an

imapCities.com affiliate

Face it — Your business prospects will check you out online first! Elevate the visibility of your business above your competition!

imapCharlotte.com an

10

imapCities.com affiliate

s e p t e m b e r 2 0 1 1

w w w. g re a t e rc h a r l o t t e b i z . c o m

Potter & Company, P.A.

[accountingbiz]

Accounting, Tax and Consulting Solutions

Choosing a Retirement Plan for Your Business

B

usiness owners primarily use retirement plans to reward employees, save income taxes, and accumulate retirement funds for themselves. Offering a retirement plan provides a competitive advantage and improves the ability to attract and retain employees. Retirement plans offer valuable tax deductions and allow investment earnings to grow tax-deferred. Many options are available and selecting the right plan for your business can be a confusing process. Simplifying your choices can help make the decision more clear. Retirement plans can be broken into two broad categories: IRA-based plans and qualified retirement plans. IRA-based plans are typically more suitable for businesses with a small number of employees. Qualified retirement plans are regulated by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) and are more complex, but offer benefits not available in IRA-based plans. A few of the more common retirement plan options are listed below.

Employer-Funded

IRA-Based

Qualified Retirement Plan

employer contributions. Also, under a qualified plan, business owners are often able to contribute more for themselves than would be available under an IRA-based plan. Two categories of qualified retirement plans exist: defined benefit plans and defined contribution plans, and specific types of plans are allowed under these categories. The use of defined benefit plans has declined in recent years due to the complexity and cost required to maintain these plans. Defined contribution plans are generally less complex and less expensive to administer than defined benefit plans. The employer bears no risk for paying a specified benefit at retirement, rather, the amount of the contribution into the plan is defined each year. The ultimate benefit to be received at retirement is limited to the amount in the employee’s account. Commonly utilized defined contribution plans include profit sharing and 401(k) plans. Both of these types of retirement plans are available to any size business and allow a business to have other retirement plans—frequently a profit sharing plan is used in combination with a 401(k) plan.

SEP-IRA (Simplified Employee Pension Plan)

Defined Benefit Plan Profit Sharing Plan

Profit Sharing Plans

SIMPLE-IRA

Traditional 401(k) ROTH 401(k) feature

Employer AND Employee Funded

IRA-Based Plans IRA-based plans are relatively inexpensive to maintain and are easy to start and administer. A summary of the features of IRA-based retirement plans follows.

Employer Contributions

Discretionary

Discretionary

Employee Contributions

Not Allowed

Optional

Individual Accounts

maintained for each participant

maintained for each participant

Vesting

Employees vest in employer contribution

Employees vest in employer contribution

Annual Filing Requirements

Form 5500

Form 5500

The lesser of 25% of compensation or $49,000

Up to $49,000

SEP IRA

Simple IRA

Business Size

Any size – most frequently used by businesses with only a few employees

Any business with 100 or fewer employees

Contribution Limit for 2011

Employer Contributions

Discretionary – contribute equally for all eligible employees

Required minimum contributions

Employee Contribution Limit for 2011 (salary reduction contributions)

Employee Contributions

Not allowed

Optional

Vesting

Employee is always 100% vested in all SEP-IRA money

Employee is always 100% vested in all Simple-IRA money

Annual Filing Requirements

None

None

Contribution Limit for 2011

The lesser of 25% of compensation or $49,000

Up to $49,000

Employee Contribution Limit for 2011 (salary reduction contributions)

No employee contributions allowed

$11,500 $2,500 catch-up contributions for employees age 50 or older

Qualified Retirement Plans Qualified retirement plans provide options not available in IRA-based plans, and allow business owners choices in plan benefits. Commonly utilized choices allowed include participant loans and a vesting schedule for

c o n s t r u c t i ve c a t a ly s t fo r c re a t i ve c o n s c i o u s n e s s

401(k) Plans All Types

No employee contributions allowed

$16,500 $5,500 catch-up contributions for employees age 50 or older

Plan discrimination testing is required in defined contribution plans because contributions can not unfairly benefit the owner or highly compensated employees. The testing is performed to make sure contributions and /or deferrals are not too highly weighted to senior management. Deciding What is Best for You Knowing a little bit more about the types of retirement plans available should make choosing a retirement plan more clear. Basically you need to prioritize your goals and find the plan that best meets your needs. Qualified plans are highly regulated but offer features not available in IRA based plans. The retirement saving opportunities provided by qualified plans usually justify the cost and administrative expenses. There are many retirement plan choices available to you as a business owner, so after evaluating your retirement goals choose the plan that suits your retirement plan needs and objectives. Content contributed by Potter & Company, a locally based certified public accounting firm offering core services of professional accounting, business consulting, and financial analysis. For more information, contact Bucky Glover at 704-283-8189 or visit www.gotopotter.com.

september 2011

11

(l to r) Daryl Larner Dan Larner Owners/Managers Larner’s Office Furniture

12

s e p t e m b e r 2 0 1 1

w w w. g re a t e rc h a r l o t t e b i z . c o m

by barbara fagan

[bizprofile]

Larner’s Office Furniture Delivers Executive Looks at Exceptional Prices

Building Business on Relationships

R

elationships factor heavily in the business of Larner’s Office Furniture, and not just because the successful office furniture company is owned and run by brothers. When Dan and Daryl Larner talk about their company, relationships are mentioned often: relationships with customers, with manufacturers and with the wide network of vendors that complement their business. “It takes years and years to develop contacts and relationships,” says Dan Larner, who manages the project scheduling, finance and other internal nuts and bolts needed to run a company. “Our goal is to take care of our customer and build trust and confidence with them and with our vendors.” The sales, marketing and purchasing responsibilities are handled by younger brother Daryl, who credits some of his most recent sales successes to the relationships he’s built in local networking groups such as the Hood Hargett Breakfast Club and Midweek Business Connections (MBC). “Joining the Hood Hargett Breakfast Club last year was a big step for us,” Daryl Larner explains. “Now we’re meeting all the right people.”

c o n s t r u c t i ve c a t a ly s t fo r c re a t i ve c o n s c i o u s n e s s

Projects Big and Small And the current bottom line supports this. Larner’s Office Furniture is enjoying their best year yet. Revenue for the first eight months of 2011 already exceeds revenues for any calendar year they’ve had since opening in 2005. “US Airways is redoing their executive offices here in Charlotte,” says Daryl, “and we’re supplying all the new product. Also, we were just awarded a project with MacLean Power Systems. The main job starts in October, but they’ve already added to it.” Dan mentions other large past projects: Radiator Specialty Company when they moved their offices from Wilkinson Boulevard to Indian Trail, and Senior Living Communities, one of their first customers which has become a continual customer, with projects in their corporate office, other offices and senior living facilities all over the country. “Our biggest customers keep coming back to us,” Dan adds. “We’re not the type of company that just wants a big grand slam with a customer. We want them to come back again and again and again.” And while the Larners are proud of their large projects, they are equally enthusiastic about their smaller jobs. Many of their customers are small businesses: law firms, mortgage companies and even ➤ home offices.

september 2011

13

“It takes years and years to develop contacts and relationships. Our goal is to take care of our customer and build trust and confidence with them and with our vendors.” ~Dan Larner Owner/Manager

“The person setting up a home office should thinks of us,” says Daryl. “It would save them money. We have better quality than the box stores.” Executive Looks. Exceptional Prices. “When we first opened we offered only two product lines,” Daryl explains, “but because so many furniture manufacturers struggled in the recession we had to reach out to other suppliers in order to be able take care of our customers.” Larner’s Office Furniture now represents 37

14

manufacturers giving customers an extensive and varied selection from which to choose. A generous sampling of new product, spanning a broad range of styles and budgets, is on display at their showroom on Freedom Drive. In addition, the Larners have applied their extensive experience and contacts in the industry to acquire a large selection of high-end used furniture. Around a thousand used items that could easily be mistaken for new occupy their 10,000-square-foot outlet showroom, which is also part of their Freedom Drive location. “There’s significant savings in buying our refurbished used furniture,” Daryl advises. “On average, customers pay 15 to 20 percent of what they’d pay for new and they can get a higher quality product for their dollar.” Jim Abbott, chairman of American Security Mortgage, agrees on the cost savings. He purchased 50 work cubes from Larner’s Office Furniture. “They were all reupholstered and looked great,” he says, “and the price was incredibly good. I’ve been impressed with the selection of high-quality, gently-used furniture they offer.” Talking about their used furniture inventory, Dan says, “We set ourselves apart from the competition in our attention to detail. We touch up the wood, reupholster or shampoo upholstered items and make sure everything is clean, has all its parts and functions properly.” “We’ve had customers who’ve bought a file cabinet from somewhere else,” adds Daryl, “and

s e p t e m b e r 2 0 1 1

when they get it back to their office they realize it doesn’t have a key or rails. So they come to us to buy the missing parts and we’re happy to help them but they end up paying more for the item. They should have just come here first.” But anyone who has purchased office furniture knows that the good product alone is only part of the story. Lenita Woodruff, of Fleetnet America, Inc., has worked with Larner’s for the past five years and says that Larner’s emphasis on communication is one of the qualities that makes them exceptional. “They follow up when the order has been placed and again about delivery dates,” she says. “I usually work with Mary Kegley at Larner’s and I was very impressed when Mary interrupted her vacation to call and take care of an issue for us.” Jim Abbott mentions timely delivery and prompt installation as a few of the qualities he most values in his dealings with the company. “We had a 50-cubicle project to set up but didn’t want to interrupt our business,” he remembers. “The installers arrived on Friday night, worked late and came in all day Saturday and part of Sunday to finish. Not only was it ready and functional for our employees on Monday at 8 a.m., it was available for workers Sunday afternoon.” Abbott has also used Larner’s Office Furniture to furnish American Security Mortgage offices in Wilmington, Virginia Beach and Fayetteville. “I can’t imagine doing business with anyone else,” he says. It seems other customers feel that way as well. Daryl tells of how Central Piedmont Community College pulled strings to go outside of their contract and purchase from Larner’s Office Furniture. Daryl was told doing so saved almost half of the college’s allotted budget which could then be used for other pressing school needs. Lenita Woodruff is so loyal to Larner’s Office Furniture that in anticipation of her retirement

w w w. g re a t e rc h a r l o t t e b i z . c o m

this December, she has already passed on Larner’s information to her successor with explicit instructions that all future business be booked with them. “Charlotte is very lucky to have them,” says Woodruff. “They are ‘top of the line.’” Local with a National Network “We’re here for the long term,” says Dan, when speaking of Charlotte. “We are investing in this community. Our labor is the people who live here. We outsource to quality local companies.” But even with an emphasis on the local, Dan is quick to add that the network of vendor relationships they’ve carefully developed over the years allows them to assist a customer anywhere in the country. “It’s not cost effective to service everything from Charlotte,” he explains, “but we have partnerships with installers, brokers and delivery people nationwide. This way we can keep costs down.” Daryl mentions their membership in the OFR Clubhouse, an exclusive interactive online marketplace for the office furniture industry. “We have good confidence in OFR members,” he says. “I know most of them, so I have exactly who I need in the right area. We’ve handled projects in Minnesota, Tennessee, Florida, Georgia and Pennsylvania and we have particularly strong partnerships and presence in the D.C. area and Virginia.” “We can service anywhere,” Dan adds. One-Stop-Shopping A glance at their sales brochure or a click on their website reveals another reason why Larner’s Office Furniture is having a record year. In addition to furniture sales, the company offers 12 other complementary products and services that include furniture rentals, brokering and repair, as well as space planning and design. “Both of us can help with office design,” says Dan. “We’re happy to give our input. For larger projects we have a designer who can assist the customer. Sometimes even a manufacturer can help with the layout.” “We had a customer,” Daryl remembers, “who wanted to put two workstations in what was basically a closet. So I asked her what her goals were and she said she wanted to grow the office to 10 people. That’s when I suggested she talk to the design person that works with us. The designer came in and now they have space for 13 more people, and it’s good space.” When asked about advice on setting up a home office, Dan notes space, budget and visibility as key factors.

“They will be much more budget-minded in their future purchases. The companies that can give the customer the most for their money will be the winners. We’re positioned perfectly for that.” ~Daryl Larner Owner/Manager

“It’s a very personal thing, but if your home office is say, right across from the dining room and one of the first rooms someone sees when they walk in the door, you’ll need to furnish it very differently than if it were in your basement.” Custom furniture is another service offered and can be handled two ways. “We have a woodworker who can custom build what a customer wants,” explains Dan. “We also represent a manufacturer named Colecraft that makes furniture to order.” “We have a pending order now for a judges’ bench for the Charlotte School of Law,” Daryl says. “We’re hoping our new website will help people know that we do everything having to do with offices,” says Dan. Common Sense Approach When asked about the success of the business and his customers’ loyalty, Dan is quick to respond: “The biggest thing is serving the customer.” But it’s obvious that any company which has

c o n s t r u c t i ve c a t a ly s t fo r c re a t i ve c o n s c i o u s n e s s

survived and thrived in the recent economic climate must have a smart business strategy. “Our plans have changed some since we first opened,” Dan shares, “but the basic way our business works is the same. We keep overhead low. We don’t sit on an excessive amount of inventory. We want to go long term. We’re not going to pop into someplace, make some money and then disappear. I say, let’s do it right.” Dan credits this strategy with how Larner’s, a fairly new company when the recession began, made it financially through difficult times. “The end of 2008 to 2009 were tight for us,” Dan says, “but during that time we didn’t cut back; we invested. We started work on our website, increased marketing, hired an outside sales person and increased our product lines. We were trying to build so that when we came off the recession we were ready.” And Daryl believes that as companies come out of the recession their mindsets will be very different. “They will be much more budget-minded in their future purchases,” he says. “The companies that can give the customer the most for their money will be the winners. We’re positioned perfectly for that.” When asked about the future, Dan answers simply, “More people. We just offered a job to a sales and marketing person this morning. The focus is on more people to go out and build relationships.” “And of course, as they succeed, we’ll need more people internally to support those new relationships,” adds Daryl. An emphasis on relationships; it’s key to the ongoing success of Larner’s Office Furniture. biz Barbara Fagan is a Charlotte-based freelance writer.

Larner’s Office Furniture Outlet LLC dba

Larner’s Office Furniture 3111 Freedom Drive Charlotte, N.C. 28208 Phone: 704-399-1948 Principals: Dan D. Larner, Owner/ Manager; Daryl D. Larner, Owner/Manager Employees: 5 Established: 2005 Memberships: Hood Hargett Breakfast Club, Midweek Business Connections Business: Affordable new, used and pre-owned office furniture; approved distributor for many top-line national manufacturers; serving Charlotte and the Southeast. www.larnersoffice.com

september 2011

15

(l to r) Leslie Birdsong Kraemer Creative Director/Partner Jim Gregory Cusson Strategic Director/Partner Birdsong Gregory, LLC

different

thinking yields different 16

results

s e p t e m b e r 2 0 1 1

w w w. g re a t e rc h a r l o t t e b i z . c o m

by sheila neisler

[bizprofile]

manifesto: Another word for creativity? Courage.

at birdsong gregory, specialization drives success pple’s iconic “1984” commercial: A woman, dressed in an orange and white runner’s uniform, hurls a sledgehammer at a screen in a dismally lit theater filled with a gray-looking audience. The screen explodes into a bright light giving the connotation she has saved all of humanity from conformity and sameness. That’s the mental imagery that comes to mind when you see the work and meet the team at Birdsong Gregory. If you remember hearing about, reading about—or even smelling—the grilled steak scent wafting from a ShopBloom billboard, if you’ve wandered into a Bloom Grocery Store and thought, “Wow, this is different,” if you’ve attended a car show and heard auto enthusiasts wax on and on about their car care, you’ve experienced the impact of Birdsong Gregory. Different thinking yields different results. In only 10 years, the twoperson startup has gone from a spare bedroom to a burgeoning office with nine employees and over $3 million in annual billings. Revenues “We realized, like last year were up 90 percent from the prior year and, through August many small businesses, we 2011, revenue has exceeded that pinnacle by some $500,000. were spending more time working Clearly Birdsong Gregory is doing many things right: ‘in’ the business versus working ‘on’ Entrenching in a niche market with laser focus on the consumer. the business. We decided a smart move Approaching clients as partners. And developing a forwardwould be to specialize in one niche in which looking talented infrastructure.

we had been very successful—Shopper Marketing—and become the regional market leader in that niche.”

Looking Through a Different Lens Leslie Birdsong Kraemer and Jim Gregory Cusson meld their business and life experiences and take a yin/yang approach to run~Leslie Birdsong Kraemer ning their company. Creative Director/Partner Kraemer’s early interest in fine arts at Davidson College sent her along a path of an internship at Creative Loafing with stints on both sides of the advertising world, agency and corporate. Cusson’s education at Rutgers in New Jersey led him to his first job crawling through grocery stores to stock Keebler cookies, on to various stints in the corporate financial world, and eventually on to Charlotte with ad agency experiences. After working together and making money for other people, the duo decided to team up and hang their own shingle. Naturally, these diverse backgrounds manifest themselves in how the agency operates: Cusson handles the account management and relationship side of the business while Kraemer brings out the best in their collaborating design team. And this is a ‘marriage’ of business talents only, the answer to a question they get asked often. “We named the company using both our middle names, thinking ‘Birdsong Gregory’ had a more memorable ring to it than Cusson Kraemer,” notes Kraemer, “and when you stylize the lower cases of our initials b and g, the design takes on the appearance of glasses. In reality, that’s who we are. We look at our clients’ business through a different lens.” It was a different lens that became the catalyst for their exponential growth. In the early years of their business, sales were steadily rising and they hired one employee and then another, as business came through the door. However, the team ➤ began to heed the advice of a business coach who provided them with an outside perspective.

c o n s t r u c t i ve c a t a ly s t fo r c re a t i ve c o n s c i o u s n e s s

september 2011

17

■■■■■ ■■■■ ■■■ ■■ ■

“We realized, like many small businesses, we were spending more time working ‘in’ the business versus working ‘on’ the business. We decided a smart move would be to specialize in one niche in which we had been very successful—Shopper Marketing—and become the regional market leader in that niche. “We then used that skill as leverage to get into larger accounts,” reflects Cusson. “There are lots of general agencies offering the same broad range of services and they all end up going after the same clients. When I used to make a call and introduce myself as a small ad agency in Charlotte, I would get a uniformly lukewarm response. Calling with an introduction of ‘I run an agency which delivers top-line results and specializes in Shopper Marketing,’ I get a markedly different reaction.” Specialization has also provided an unexpected bounce in uncertain times. “In the early days of our firm, we could never go head-to-head with the bigger shops,” explains Kraemer. “In lean times, marketing budgets are tighter and many companies are looking to purchase marketing services a la carte. Because our track record shows we’re working to own this niche, we no longer have to prove ourselves as a smaller shop.” Focusing on the Shopper The goal of Shopper Marketing is to drive sales in an increasingly competitive, economically disruptive marketplace which is overwhelmed by both traditional and digital media. The solution is to improve the shopping experience by focusing on the shopper, first. Careful differentiation between the shopper insight and consumer insight is important: you buy the dog food, you don’t consume it. Notes Cusson, “We dust off a lot of companies’ marketing research reports and use them to better understand the consumer from a holistic perspective. The who, why, when and where that person is, determines the ‘what’ decision in purchasing. We are less concentrated on the brand or product

18

and more concentrated on the shopper’s habits and lifestyles.” One of Birdsong Gregory’s early successes was Bloom Grocery Stores, division of Delhaize America. Though Bloom is no longer in the Carolinas, the store which prides itself on being “A Different Kind of Grocery Store” is showing bar-raising results in the mid-Atlantic market. Refurbishing former Food Lion’s and Bi-Lo’s, the store met with some pushback: shoppers didn’t think it was so different and their sales didn’t show so either. Enter Birdsong Gregory. Marketing, merchandising and research divisions came together and realized that the needs of their target market— young moms—were not being met. Young moms really wanted a difference: more organic options, locally grown food, chef-inspired ‘foodie’ choices (code for easy meal preparations to enhance their in-home dining). Based upon their research, they recreated the store from the ground up and amplified these innovations visually and experientially. “We executed by integrating a traditional approach of direct mail, radio, billboard and print media.” Their strategy took a few nontraditional turns, too. For example, they employed an oversized grocery cart, large enough that their entire staff could fit in, called the “Bloom Mobile,” which travelled around Bloom’s markets bringing smiles and savings to harried and hurried mothers. And yes, the smelling billboard. Last year, Bloom introduced its private-label beef line using a Mooresville billboard equipped with a fan blowing a reproduced smell of a charcoal grilled steak. The novel experiment got mixed reviews locally with consumers barely able to catch the

s e p t e m b e r 2 0 1 1

scent within the 30 to 50 yards promised, especially going 45 miles an hour. However, the smell actually wafted throughout the country with mentions on Good Morning America, CNN, Nickelodeon, Blondie Comics, CSI and even a question on “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?” The nose knows good public relations, too! While delivering budget-busting sales, they also earned some big fans with the Bloom marketing team. Senior Marketer Angie Hunter readily sings their praises: “In working with Birdsong Gregory, we’ve evolved as more of a business partnership versus a more traditional agency/client arrangement. This is their strength in my opinion. “Birdsong’s approach comes from not trying to change my brand but working closely to understand it and using solid research and market insight to help make sound decisions…not just award winning creative.” More Shopper Marketing When Husqvarna, the world’s largest producer of outdoor power products including chainsaws, trimmers, mowers and garden tractors, was introducing a new riding mower platform, they tapped Birdsong Gregory to help shepherd the project from great idea to green lawns. H u s q v a r n a ’s research showed a significant gap between the high-end hand-pushed mower and the farmerfocused tractor. They also noted that many people enjoyed mowing their lawns, they just didn’t want to spend all day doing it. Utilizing a Shopper Marketing approach, they literally created a new category for the products: the Crossmower and the Weed Eater Smartcut. “With a global company, you may have

w w w. g re a t e rc h a r l o t t e b i z . c o m

access to big agencies and big resources, but you also have big layers to navigate to get the product into the stores,” notes Jim Parello, marketing manager for the company’s U.S. and Latin American headquarters in Charlotte. “The Birdsong Gregory team brought the same quality of a big agency’s well-educated, well-skilled and well-trained team with added benefits of close proximity, the nimble culture of a small agency and a great sense for our business. With their hands-on corporate culture, we were able to create solutions together which allowed us to achieve our targets and timelines. We got ‘big agency’ results using Birdsong Gregory. It was a win/win strategy and execution,” he says. Car aficionados have had a long, and sometimes expensive, bond with their cars. However, few national car care brands ever embraced the opportunity to appeal to that niche. Take an unmet market segment, mix with research and creative from Birdsong Gregory and some chemicals from a British company, and you have a whole new category.

close-knit group of overachievers. As part of the Croftgate campaign, they literally went shopping themselves for the best and brightest in the Shopper Marketing industry. They landed a pedigreed professional, Jared Meisel, now the agency’s director of Shopper Marketing. With tours at such industry names as Draft FCB and Saatchi & Saatchi X (the latter considered the pioneer and now world leader in Shopper Marketing), Meisel brings a larger view to the collaborative and intimate organization. Birdsong Gregory’s hiring strategy is focused similarly. “We look for people with a passionate curiosity. We pride ourselves on being an agile

manifesto: We have killed the Golden Age of Advertising with our smart phones, TiVo, pop-up blockers, and a hundred other new disintermediary tools.

The company Croftgate, which primarily produces chemicals for the printing industry, had an intriguing past. The Queen of England had granted it the Royal Seal as the official polishing and cleaning product for the Royal Stables. The owner immigrated to the states with an entirely new idea: a revolutionary waterless wash and wax solution that delivers superior performance, saves time, and is eco-friendly. Birdsong Gregory met with car enthusiasts and learned that owners viewed their cars as investments as well as brand extensions of their personality. “Owners of luxury or high-performance vehicles are passionate about preserving these investments,” explains Cusson. “We were able to translate a ‘royal relationship’ into a brand which resonated with their interest in heritage and using only the highest quality of car care products. Now when you go to car shows, you’ll see their pride reflected in the shine of their cars.” Yielding Success Birdsong Gregory prides itself on its

c o n s t r u c t i ve c a t a ly s t fo r c re a t i ve c o n sBiz.indd c i o u s1 n e s s

s e p t e m b e r 6/10/11 2 0 1 111:35 AM 19

Use BusinessWise

...to grow business.

“The Birdsong Gregory team brought the same quality of a big agency’s well-educated, well-skilled and well-trained team with added benefits of close proximity, the nimble culture of a small agency and a great sense for our business. With their hands-on corporate culture, we were able to create solutions together which allowed us to achieve our targets and timelines. We got ‘big agency’ results using Birdsong Gregory. It was a win/ win strategy and execution.” ~Jim Parello Marketing Manager, Husqvarna U.S. and Latin America

www.businesswise.com Charlotte 6100 Fairview Rd. Suite 330 Charlotte, NC 28210 Phone: 704.554.4112

Atlanta 6190 Powers Ferry Rd. Suite 190 Atlanta, GA 30339 Phone: 770.956.1955

Dallas 15851 Dallas Pkwy Suite 600 Addison, TX 75001 Phone: 214.561.8692

VoIP

shop that recognizes that change is always happening in the marketplace. We look to bring in the ‘best in class’ partners to execute in a dynamic environment.” Although still an intimate group, gone are the days of Kraemer and Cusson hollering across the room to bounce ideas off each other. In its place is a Birdsong Gregory team executing a deliberate strategy to position themselves as the go-to shop for Shopper Marketing throughout the Carolinas and a market leader throughout the country. Cusson voices his optimism about Birdsong Gregory’s prospects, “We’re just getting started!” biz Sheila Neisler is a Charlotte-based freelance writer.

one company | one call

Unified Communications ›Business Telephone Systems ›Structured Cabling Systems ›Office & Warehouse Paging ›Data Networking Build & Design ›Telecom Management & Consulting 1824 I NDUSTRIAL C ENTER C IRCLE C HARLOTTE , NC 28213 704.598.4700 W W W . T E LWA R E . C O M

20

s e p t e m b e r 2 0 1 1

Birdsong Gregory, LLC 715 North Church St., Ste. 101 Charlotte, N.C. 28202 Phone: 704-332-2299 Principals: Jim Gregory Cusson, President and Partner; Leslie Birdsong Kraemer, Creative Director and Partner Employees: 9 Established: 2001 Billings: $3,114,182 (local 2009 capitalized billings) Representative Clients: Bloom Supermarket, Food Lion, Lowe’s Home Improvement, Integra Employer Health Business: Advertising agency which specializes in Shopper Marketing, advertising, branding and design services. www.birdsonggregory.com

w w w. g re a t e rc h a r l o t t e b i z . c o m

THE EMPLOYERS ASSOCIATION

The Employers Association

Trusted HR Advice, Tools & Training

[employersbiz]

Legislative and Regulatory Highlights for Area Employers

LEADERS MAKE IN PERFORMANCE APPRAISALS The performance appraisal process serves three important functions. It helps companies encourage good performance, identifies and discourages poor performance, and allows employees to see how they contribute to the company’s overall progress. For most people, having their performance appraised is not a favorite activity. If this important process is not done well, it can actually destroy morale and do more damage than good. Leaders should be careful to avoid these common appraisal mistakes.

Mistake #1 – Not doing the appraisal at all or giving it little attention Appraisal is about improving future performance. Not doing it assures that things will not improve. Doing it late sends the message that performance improvement is not important. Mistake #2 – Letting bias creep into the appraisal or being less than truthful The value of appraisal is diminished by rating everyone average, believing some people can do no wrong, believing that some people can do no right, or being less than truthful to avoid conflict. Mistake #3 – Believing appraisal is an event and not a process Without feedback on an ongoing basis, appraisal will do no good at all. Mistake #4 – Blaming Appraisal should not assess blame, but should encourage a two-way exchange in a safe environment with improvement as the goal. Mistake # 5 – Ranking Comparing people with one another causes dissent. Rating against a standard or agreed-to goals is a much better alternative.

Mistake #6 – Thinking appraisals are only about salary Appraisals should help drive better performance. Some organizations plan salary increases off cycle from appraisals to avoid this problem.

Mistake #7 – Doing appraisals without help from others With today’s diverse technology and matrix organizations, leaders may not have complete knowledge of their subordinates’ work. It may be necessary to get input from others.

Mistake #8 – Assuming there must be negatives in every review If performance is outstanding, there is no need to think of something negative to say. Mistake #9 – Failure to set goals Performance appraisals should always include goal setting and a review of performance against goals. This assures accountability and responsibility. Accomplishment should be rewarded, not just effort toward accomplishment. c o n s t r u c t i ve c a t a ly s t fo r c re a t i ve c o n s c i o u s n e s s

10

MOST COMMON WAGE AND HOUR VIOLATIONS

According to a Commerce Clearinghouse report, the most common wage and hour violations are:

1. Not maintaining accurate records of all hours worked by employees. 2. Failure to pay employees for all time that is recorded and worked. 3. Failure to calculate non-discretionary bonuses into the regular rate of pay for overtime calculations. 4. Not compensating employees for unauthorized overtime. 5. Failure to pay employees properly for compensable travel time. 6. Improperly administering compensable time off programs that substitute time off for overtime. 7. Not paying employees for training or meeting time. 8. Improperly compensating employees with respect to “on-call” time. 9. Failure to compensate appropriately with respect to meal and break periods. 10. Improper classification of salaried employees as exempt from overtime and minimum wage rules. (The Management Association)

EMPLOYER’S RIGHT TO DESIGNATE FMLA A question that comes up sometimes with the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) involves employees who are going to be out for an FMLA qualifying reason but don’t want the time off counted as FMLA. In some instances, employees want to take their paid time off (vacation, sick or PTO) before the employer starts counting their FMLA. How should you respond? The FMLA regulations state that in all cases it is the employer’s responsibility to designate FMLA leave when informed by the employee or the employee’s spokesperson that the need for leave is FMLA qualifying. Once you are on notice and have sufficient documentation under your policy to designate FMLA, you must do so. Your policy should state that if the employee fails to provide the required certification, the FMLA leave will be delayed or denied. In addition, you should make certain that supervisors are trained to recognize absences that may fall under FMLA so that they can notify Human Resources to make further inquiries with the employee for FMLA purposes. With regards to the substitution of paid leave, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (USDOL) offers this guidance: Employees may choose to use, or employers may require the employee to use, accrued paid leave to cover some or all of the FMLA leave taken. Employees may choose, or employers may require, the substitution of accrued paid vacation or personal leave for any of the situations covered by FMLA. The substitution of accrued sick or family leave is limited by the employer’s policies governing the use of such leave. (Source:CAI; http://www.dol.gov/dol/topic/benefits-leave/fmla.htm)

A L FM

Content contributed by The Employers Association, providing comprehensive human resources and training services to a membership of over 860 companies in the greater Charlotte region. For more information, contact Laura Hampton at 704-522-8011 or visit www.employersassoc.com.

september 2011

21

Photo: Wayne Morris

Dr. Daniel Murrey Executive Director Committee for Charlotte 2012, Inc.

“It is timely for the Convention to be held in a city that has grown over many decades to become a substantial economic force and leader in the State and the Southeastern U.S.” ~Bev Perdue North Carolina Governor

 “Hosting the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte will be a game changer, bringing new jobs, new spending and new businesses to our city, region and state.” ~Anthony Foxx Charlotte Mayor

22

s e p t e m b e r 2 0 1 1

w w w. g re a t e rc h a r l o t t e b i z . c o m

by heather head

[bizprofile]

Queen City Welcomes National Stage

W

hat does it take to host the quadrennial Democratic National Convention? According to Committee for Charlotte 2012, Inc. Executive Director Dan Murrey, it takes hospitality, opportunity and a whole lot of inclusiveness…exactly what Charlotte has to offer. In 1997, when Murrey and his wife moved to Charlotte, they were overwhelmed by the community’s open-armed welcome. Within a month, he was immersed in a task force for bio-ethics on the N.C. Medical Board, and his wife founded an active theater group with new friends. That unique and refreshing combination of hospitality and opportunity, says Murrey, distinguishes Charlotte as the ideal host for the Democratic National Convention (DNC) in 2012. Murrey, CEO of one of Charlotte’s best-known physician institutions—OrthoCarolina—and a practicing orthopedic surgeon, has enough to keep him busy without also heading up one of the largest and highest-profile events in the history of the city. However, after receiving Mayor Foxx’s entreaty, and thinking about how the grass-roots fundraising could change the flavor and meaning of the entire convention, he saw how the mayor’s vision for diversity in participation could set a new standard for inclusiveness across the nation. And, perhaps most of all, he realized that this was an opportunity to help show off the incredible hospitality and quest for opportunity that make Charlotte’s people extraordinary. “I’m humbled and excited about the opportunity to show the rest of the world why we love living and working in this city, state and region,” says Murrey. “We’re a city of people who’ve chosen to live here; now it’s time to show off what we’ve built.” “My job is twofold: to work closely with the Democratic National Committee and our local partners to host a successful convention, and to create an inclusive and interactive environment so all residents of our region have an opportunity to play host to visitors from around the world.” Murrey’s degree from Harvard Kennedy School of Government and a stint as commissioner-at-large for Mecklenburg County provided him with experience in the political arena, and his role as CEO at OrthoCarolina has taught him how to build strong organizations. As one of his first tasks, he has assembled a team including Torre Jessup as deputy executive director of external relations, Dockery Clark as chief of staff, Mary Tribble as chief of event planning, Katy Cutright as COO, Melissa Schwartz as finance director, Leah Chandler as deputy finance director, Bobby Martin as CFO, ➤ and Joe Sandler as legal counsel.

OPPORTUNITY c o n s t r u c t i ve c a t a ly s t fo r c re a t i ve c o n s c i o u s n e s s

september 2011

23

“We feel really fortunate to have such a strong talented team that includes both extensive experience organizing major national events and a deep understanding of the Charlotte region,” says Murrey. “Now I just need to stay out of their way and keep my eye on the horizon, to ensure we stay on track to achieve our vision.”

Why the Democratic National Convention is Right for Charlotte Sept. 3 - Sept. 6, 2012 Hosting the 2012 convention will be a home run for our community and economy:  30,000 to 35,000 delegates, national and international media, key policy and political leaders and other visitors to area hotels, restaurants, entertainment and other businesses  New construction and other jobs for two years leading up to and during convention week  National and international exposure to help recruit new businesses, jobs and families to Charlotte  Estimate of $150-$200 million potential economic impact for an estimated $40-$45 million investment – to help support libraries, schools, parks, public safety and other services crucial to our quality of life

24

Host Committee Activities The Democratic National Convention host committee is a separate, but closely coordinated, organization from the DNC Committee (DNCC), which is headed by Steve Kerrigan and responsible for organizing the official events of the DNC. The DNC host committee’s two legal entities, a 501(c)(3) and a 501(c)(6), are respectively responsible for two primary goals: meeting contractual obligations with the DNCC, and marketing Charlotte to the world. Among other things, the contract with the DNCC includes a provision for raising $36.5 million dollars, as well as recruiting and organizing at least 7,000 volunteers. In order to market and sell Charlotte effectively, Murrey says they expect to raise an additional $10 million, and hope to recruit another 3,000 to 5,000 additional volunteers. Under any circumstances, raising more than $36 million is no small feat. But for this event, the challenge is even greater: all funds for the DNCC will be raised directly from individuals—no corporate financial donations allowed. “It’s different and in some ways more challenging,” says Murrey. “But I think the outcome will put us in a really unique and exciting place. We see the potential for this to change the way that conventions are funded in the future. And, in fact, it creates a different feel and a different meaning for the convention if it’s funded and supported by individuals. It engages the public in a much different way.” That’s not to say that corporations are not encouraged to participate. In-kind contributions from companies are welcomed for contractually required items including computers, meeting space, and furniture, construction materials and transportation. Plus, both corporations and individuals may contribute to the separate host committee budget

s e p t e m b e r 2 0 1 1

that will fuel the marketing and administrative efforts of the local committee. Perhaps equally challenging will be recruiting, organizing and training at least 7,000 volunteers, which Murrey cites as critical to showcasing Charlotte’s tremendous hospitality. “Many of the estimated 35,000 people coming to Charlotte for the DNC will never have been here before,” he says. “And Charlotte’s going to be full of activity. We want to minimize confusion and make it a great experience for everyone who comes.” He compares the experience to that of visiting a top-tier venue such as a Nordstrom’s or a RitzCarlton. To offer that level of hospitality, you must have enough personnel available to find ways to truly delight visitors. Volunteers will greet travelers at the airport, assist them in reaching their destinations, answer questions, and direct foot traffic. Others may host events, organize teams of volunteers, staff booths, or provide services to delegates and media personnel. “We have a very inviting city,” says Murrey. “One that welcomes outsiders and wants people to feel welcome and warm being here, and that’s one of the key things that we can show off.” Community Engagement Murrey says that when he agreed to direct the DNC host committee, Mayor Foxx charged him to showcase Charlotte’s inclusiveness. “He wants to make sure we carry out the convention in a way that is authentic to Charlotte,” explains Murrey, “that we show the rest of the world who we are. And he wants this to be the most inclusive convention that’s ever been held, including all parts of the city, both from a community engagement standpoint and from a business development standpoint.” The committee has begun work toward creating a directory that will contain detailed information on which to evaluate potential vendors, including capabilities, company structure, size, and whether the company is minority-, women-, or disabled-owned. Murrey hopes the directory will help to build a transparent, fair and equal process for choosing vendors, and lead to a more diverse and inclusive

w w w. g re a t e rc h a r l o t t e b i z . c o m

S T R E A M L I N I N G S O LU T I O N S

AUDIT & ATTEST SERVICES ACCOUNTING SERVICES GOVERNMENTAL & A-133 AUDITS representation of all Charlotte has to offer. He expects the directory to outlive the convention itself, providing benefits to the community for years to come.

MERGER & ACQUISITION PLANNING TAX COMPLIANCE & PLANNING MULTI-STATE TAX PLANNING ESTATE & TRUST TAX PLANNING

“I think we can show people that a community can have differences and still not be polarized. To me that’s a part of hospitality. Creating a space to hear the other side, and to be welcoming toward the other side. That’s a part of what we are going to do here.”

REAL ESTATE CONSULTING SERVICES

10815 Sikes Place, Suite 100 Charlotte, NC 28277 704-841-9800 (fax) 704-841-9802 www.bbwpllc.com

Accountants First, Advisors Foremost

~Dr. Daniel Murrey Executive Director

The vendor directory represents only a part of the legacy he hopes the DNC will leave in Charlotte. Some of the other benefits are already becoming apparent. For example, the Charlotte Regional Visitor’s Authority reports that some organizations are investigating Charlotte as a convention destination for the express reason that any city worthy of the DNC is worth considering for their own events. Additionally, Murrey says that many of the new business partnerships that arise out of the DNC hosting effort will continue into the future, and that most of the revenue spent for the event both by the DNCC itself and by related businesses and organizations will be spent locally, providing a valuable injection into the economy that will outlast the actual event. As for other details of the event’s legacy, Murrey says it’s critical that the people help create that. The committee is currently engaging the community in determining what Charlotteans want those specifics to look like. And he strongly encourages citizens of all political alignments to ➤ contribute to the conversation.

c o n s t r u c t i ve c a t a ly s t fo r c re a t i ve c o n s c i o u s n e s s

?

704-540-2255

www.ballantynedentistry.com september 2011

25

“I think we can show people that a community can have differences and still not be polarized,” he says. “To me that’s a part of hospitality. Creating a space to hear the other side, and to be welcoming toward the other side. That’s a part of what we are going to do here.” Getting Involved As passionate as Murrey is about the effort, he admits that there’s risk involved. “If we do it wrong, then it will be a long time before we have another opportunity here,” he says. “And that’s why we’ve really called upon the broader community, the business community and local leaders of all types

to pitch in and really do what they can to support Charlotte in this.” To ensure that the DNC hosting effort is successful, Murrey’s staff has identified benchmarks and metrics for success. The metrics cover every facet of the preparations including fund-raising, budgeting, outreach, vendor process and inclusiveness. Among the organization’s goals are those regarding volunteers and community involvement. Murrey says that whenever a city hosts a large event, some residents wonder whether they will have trouble getting around the city, and whether they should just leave. His answer is emphatic: “Absolutely not!”

Today, more and more business owners are looking for ways to cut costs and boost their bottom line. With utility rates on a constant rise, reduce your monthly utility bills and “go green” with your solar and efficiency partner, Greenspring Energy. Greenspring Energy is one of the most experienced and trusted solar providers in the Carolinas’ region, specializing in custom solar energy design, installation and efficiency products for business and home. There has never been a better time than now to go solar, with countless financial incentives available for business and home owners in the Carolinas: • Up to 100% depreciation in 2011 • 30% Federal tax credit • Up to 35% State tax credit of the installed cost • Renewable energy incentives and recurring rebate payments • Increase the value of your property For more information on solar solutions for your business or home, contact Greenspring Energy at (704) 525-6767 or visit us online at www.greenspringenergy.com.

NAT I

AL TI

AL RESIDE N ON

Dealer 2009 & 2010 OF

SOLAR AND EFFICIENCY SOLUTIONS

R T HE YEA

4324 Barringer Drive Suite 108 • Charlotte, NC 28218 | (704) 525-6767 | www.greenspringenergy.com 1 8/22/11 11:25 AM 2 6Greater s eCharlotte p t e mBizb 4.75x7.25 e r 2 0 1Ad-Final.indd 1

“Redefining the way that funding is approached, inviting the participation of a broader spectrum of individuals and businesses than ever before, and welcoming the world with warm Charlotte hospitality— that, is an opportunity you won’t want to miss.” ~Dr. Daniel Murrey Executive Director

“This is going to be the most exciting thing that’s happened to the city in a long time. You want to be here for this,” he says. “In fact,” he adds, “you want to be a part of it.” He wants to see people from many different backgrounds, including those who disagree on partisan issues, come together in civil discourse and be kind and welcoming to each other. Individuals and companies can sign up to participate in preparations through the committee’s website at Charlottein2012.com. As plans and teams ramp up this fall, volunteers will be contacted with more information regarding opportunities and training. Companies interested in bidding for work before and during the convention are encouraged to sign up in the vendor directory. Any Charlotte business is welcome to place a listing, and while the committee obviously can’t guarantee work to everyone in the directory, those who sign up and provide all the requested information will have fair and equal opportunity for consideration. In particular, Murrey says businesses offering

w w w. g re a t e rc h a r l o t t e b i z . c o m

services and products associated with conventions will be in high demand. Construction, production activities, security, transportation, catering, cleaning, and entertainment will all be important. He is careful to add that no one should expect the week of convention activities to fill their docket for the entire year. But many organizations will find work that they may not otherwise have found, and they’ll have the potential to build ongoing relationships and business. Looking Forward There is no question that Charlotte and the rest of the nation face difficult times right now. With turmoil in the stock markets, high unemployment and uncertain financial forecasts, it’s easy to focus on negatives. But Murrey believes we have a great deal to be excited about and look forward to in the DNC and beyond, and believes Charlotte is the place to be now and in the future. “Charlotte is a community that strives,” he says. “And we strive regardless of what we’re faced with. This is a city where, when times get tough, people start to pitch in even more than they did before, and take the position that we’re going to come through this, and we are going to find a way to reinvent ourselves.” While it may not be a panacea, Murrey believes that hosting the DNC will be a key component in Charlotte’s success. “Redefining the way that funding is approached, inviting the participation of a broader spectrum of individuals and businesses than ever before, and welcoming the world with warm Charlotte hospitality—that,” says Murrey, “is an opportunity you won’t want to miss.” biz

WORLD CLASS CUSTOMER SERVICE

Heather Head is a Charlotte-based freelance writer.

Committee for Charlotte 2012, Inc. 400 N. Tryon St., Ste. 5D Charlotte, N.C. 28202 Phone: 704-330-2012 Principal: Dr. Daniel Murrey, Executive Director Convention: Sept. 3 - 6, 2012 Attendance: 30,000 to 35,000 projected Economic Impact: Potential $150 million to $200 million potential economic impact for an estimated $40 million to $45 million investment Business: Raising funds, recruiting volunteers, and preparing Charlotte to host the 2012 Democratic National Convention www.CharlotteIn2012.com

Daniel, Ratliff & Company has been providing our audit services for a number of years. We have always found them to be professional, responsive, timely and customer-focused. Their assistance has been invaluable as we have grown our business capacity and sophistication over the years. ~Bruce LaRowe, Executive Director The Children’s Theatre of Charlotte

trust+strategy+integrity+planning+insight+experience

it all adds up! We’re not your typical CPA firm. Instead, we go beyond traditional accounting services, adding valuable insight and guidance to your growth process.

c o n s t r u c t i ve c a t a ly s t fo r c re a t i ve c o n s c i o u s n e s s

Daniel, Ratliff & Company 301 S. McDowell St., Ste. 502, Charlotte, NC 28204 704.371.5000 www.danielratliff.com

september 2011

27

[bizprofile]

by heather head

Anvil Creates Prototypes and Designs in 3D

IFORGING REAL LIFE

n our world, music, books, blueprints, retail stores, games, and even our identities are routinely lifted out of the tangible world and reproduced in a digital environment. Virtual pets, online farms, digital aquariums, cyber coffee shops, Internet social networking—there appears to be no limit to the digitization of our lives. Quietly, however, the technology sways the other direction too: the digital world taking on physical form. Thanks to advances in 3D printing, we can at last, quite literally, sink our teeth into all those ideas and concepts rattling around inside our heads. Bill Watson and his company, Anvil Prototype & Design, are making it real for Charlotte by bringing the latest in 3D printing technology to our city. What is 3D Printing? A 3D printer is exactly what it sounds like. In simple terms, it takes a digital image and prints out a physical, 3-dimensional double that you can hold in your hand. Printing technology varies, but all printers begin with an image and employ an additive process. Printing begins with a thin

layer of solid material that is gradually built upon to create the completed item. In some printers, binder is sprayed onto a substrate and in others beams of light are used to harden heat-sensitive plastic. Some printers lay material down in a thin stream. The technology can be modified to accommodate almost any material: resin, plastic, metal, sugar, even living human cells. The ZPrinter 450 in the Anvil Prototype office looks like a larger version of a standard office copier, with a domed lid and a window for watching the action. It begins printing a set of writing pens by smoothing a thin deposit of powdery substrate inside an 8” x 10” square. The print heads move steadily across the square, making a sound similar to that of a flatbed scanner. They spray the substrate with special binding material, plus color from an inkjet print cartridge, to produce the first layer of material. Next, the powdered square moves downward by a fraction of an inch, a second layer of powder is smoothed over the first, and the process is repeated. Approximately one and a half hours later, the powder is 8 inches deep, with a set of four ink pens nestled in place below the surface. To use, simply remove the pens, vacuum the powder off, and put the parts together with an ink cartridge. Another printer in Anvil’s showroom uses a slightly different technology, in ➤ which a bath of heat-activated

Bill Watson Managing Partner Anvil Prototype & Design

28

s e p t e m b e r 2 0 1 1

w w w. g re a t e rc h a r l o t t e b i z . c o m

3D Printing of prototypes

c o n s t r u c t i ve c a t a ly s t fo r c re a t i ve c o n s c i o u s n e s s

september 2011

29

How It's Done liquid plastic lies below an LED projector, and the image is literally projected onto the liquid like a lesson plan onto a wall. The plastic responds by hardening where the image shines, producing each layer of a solid plastic piece. In all cases, the printer must begin with an image from which to print the model, and usually the image originates in an engineer’s CAD file. Occasionally, the image begins its life in animation or gaming software, is converted to CAD format, cleaned up, and then sent to the printer. Scanning technology can take it a step further to create a virtual version of something physical, and then print a physical double from the virtual version. If your head is spinning, hang on tight—the ride is far from over. 3D Printing Applications The world of 3D printing, and its potentially mind-blowing implications for our future, only hit the mainstream consciousness relatively recently, fueled by media coverage including a February 2011 piece in The Economist with the tantalizing title, “Print Me a Stradivarius.” But industrial and mechanical engineers have been using similar technologies since the late 1980s to produce rapid prototypes, which is still its most common application. “Mechanical and industrial engineers really get this technology,” says Watson. “Before you order a container full of an item from China, you want to know it’s right. When you hold something in your hands, versus a picture, it really comes together.” Now, architects use 3D printing to create models for public comment or to work out potential pitfalls that may not be obvious in two dimensions. 3D models of piping and electrical plans can be useful in identifying parts for repair long after installation. Site engineers can download GIS information about a site and

Spread Layer of Powder

have a three-dimensional model printed, including gradients and existing structures, for use during the conceptual phase of planning. Later, entire city blocks or complex constructions can be physically modeled before the first brick is laid. Some industries are even printing parts for consumer use, from customized doll heads to match the owner’s face, to full-color avatar figures from online gaming worlds. Researchers and innovative engineers have created a wild variety of interesting applications such as the French Culinary Institute in Manhattan’s printer that uses raw liquid foods (such as chocolate) to create culinary delights you may literally want to sink your teeth into. The potential implications of 3D printing are heady, far-reaching, and highly debatable. Could 3D printing take the place of traditional manufacturing? Will we someday download physical products from the Internet and print them at home, much the way we currently download digital products such as music and books? Watson says we’re still a long way out from science-fiction-style replicators, and he hesitates to guess whether we’ll ever get there. For one thing, the cost of printing is still higher than the cost of large-scale manufacturing such as is available in China. Further, he points out that the range of materials may be almost unlimited, but each type of printer does have limitations. For instance, we have not yet figured out how to print an object that requires more than one type of material at a time. But some industries are embracing the technology for small-scale manufacturing. Anvil offers printers that can produce items as large as a lawnmower seat, some of which are currently in use in our area. A few large retailers are beginning to stock CAD images of appliance replacement parts for print-on-demand instead of stocking thousands of

Print Cross-Section

Repeat

How It Works 30

s e p t e m b e r 2 0 1 1

w w w. g re a t e rc h a r l o t t e b i z . c o m

actual parts that may never be needed. Other companies are using clear urethane to print replacement tail lights and similar car parts. Furthermore, 3D printing is making inroads into medical technology in astonishingly futuristic ways. For instance, using scanning technology and silicone, doctors recently printed a prosthetic ear for a burn victim, based on the shape of her daughter’s ear. Perhaps even more remarkably, researchers at Wake Forest University and other major facilities are experimenting with printing human organs. In one method, tissue about the size of a postage stamp is taken from an organ recipient’s body and then cultured in the laboratory to create a large bank of cells containing the recipient’s own DNA. A printer is then loaded with the cells plus a scaffolding material, and a new organ is quite literally printed for implantation. In at least one approach, the organ can even be printed directly into the recipient’s body. Anvil History Many of 3D printing’s most whizz-bang applications are still years in the future, but Watson is doing what he can to ensure Charlotte remains on the cutting edge by distributing the latest 3D technologies and introducing them to new industries. The company operates, sells, and leases Z Corporation color 3D printers, high-resolution plastic prototype printers, and 3D scan➤ ners, in addition to

CANON BUSINESS SOLUTIONS TERECK Inc.

(704) 525-5390

Canon Business Solutions: Now in Charlotte!

Canon Business Solutions, offering award-winning equipment and support, has expanded our operations in the Charlotte area. Call us today to find out how our unique business analysis can substantially reduce your overall costs!

Multifunction Copiers Production Systems Wide Format Printers HP Printers Document Management Supplies and Media

Hampton Inn & Suites SouthPark at Phillips Place

Printing technology varies, but all printers begin with an image and employ an additive process. Printing begins with a thin layer of solid material that is gradually built upon to create the completed item. In some printers, binder is sprayed onto a substrate and in others beams of light are used to harden heat-sensitive plastic. Some printers lay material down in a thin stream. The technology can be modified to accommodate almost any material: resin, plastic, metal, sugar, even living human cells. c o n s t r u c t i ve c a t a ly s t fo r c re a t i ve c o n s c i o u s n e s s

SouthPark’s most prestigious hotel. Surrounded by retail shopping, dining, and entertainment venues. Features 124 beautifully decorated guest rooms and suites. We offer special Bridal, Shopping, and Couple’s Night Out Packages. Select rooms feature balconies, patios, mini refrigerators, microwaves, whirpools, and garden bathtubs. Two room suites feature full refrigerators, microwaves, sofa, recliner, end tables, and select suites have a whirlpool spa and replace.

›704.319.5700 www.hamptonsouthpark.com

“A SouthPark Tradition of Execellance”

september 2011

31

NAVIGATING THE SEA OF TECHNOLOGY

e Companies

wing Privat

Fastest-gro

REAL SUPPORT Regardless of your business's needs, basic or complex, Waypoint Solutions Group is the IT consulting firm that can help you. Whether you need to build your IT network from the ground up, are ready to refresh your existing network, or just need reliable IT support, Waypoint Solutions Group can help you.

////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// Learn how Waypoint Solutions Group can cut your IT costs and improve computer uptime

9305 Monroe Road Suite L Charlotte, NC 28270

Phone: 704-246-1717 Toll Free: 877-4U-EASYIT

Global markets, co-dependent economies, technologies that truly change the way business is done—all of these and more are offering challenges of a magnitude we haven’t faced before. Business as usual won’t get the job done.

www.waypointsg.com

2011 is the Year for Business-Savvy Innovators to Revive and Thrive! Join Us!

“INNOVATE” isn’t just a buzz-word, it’s a mandate! The 2011 season of BSI will focus on new ideas, new ways of doing business, and new technologies—these will drive your future success.

October 25 | Risks, rules and regulations; find out how changes in technology, privacy issues, and on-going legislative changes impact your business and the risks you face!

BSI is an organization designed for business owners. Members meet ve times each year to address problems and opportunities specic to closelyheld businesses. They receive insight, information and encouragement as they address their companies’ challenges.

For times, locations and membership information visit www.business-success-institute.com or call Denise Altman at 704-315-9090

32

s e p t e m b e r 2 0 1 1

offering 3D printing services and the latest in CAD software innovations. The Anvil Prototype showroom, located at the back of an unassuming one-story office building complex, holds very little of monetary value other than a few slightly over-sized printing contraptions. Yet stepping in the door places visitors in front of a dazzling display of fascinating goodies, all produced in-house on the printers standing by the wall. Among the assortment there’s a toy with gears that work, a Nestlé chocolate milk carton prototype, doll heads with the features of Penn and Teller, a model of ground zero in NYC complete with the new One World Trade Center building, a giant red “Panic!” button, and a collection of gears and connectors and unidentified engineering components.

The world of 3D printing, and its potentially mind-blowing implications for our future, only hit the mainstream consciousness relatively recently, fueled by media coverage including a February 2011 piece in The Economist with the tantalizing title, “Print Me a Stradivarius.” But industrial and mechanical engineers have been using similar technologies since the late 1980s to produce rapid prototypes, which is still its most common application. Watson oversees the display with quiet pride, enthusiasm sparking in his friendly smile. He says this business is a natural for him. Like many young men, his first car was an “old beater,” and he fell in love with tinkering on it. From high school, he went to Georgia Tech to study mechanical engineering while also working on diesel engines at Cummins Engine Company. A Charlotte native, he might have gone to work in the NASCAR industry, but he says he wanted to do something more innovative and design-oriented. So he moved on from school to work for Caterpillar in the late 1990s, which is where he first saw rapid prototyping at work. He loved the wheel loaders and the backhoes and the design component of his job there, but by the early 2000s he had developed an interest in the marketing and business end of engineering, and headed to Wake Forest where he completed his MBA in 2004. At Wake Forest, he says he “caught the entrepreneurship bug.” He worked for a while for IBM, but at the same time was developing a business plan and looking for his opportunity. In 2005, a friend told him to check out Z Corporation, and he recognized his moment.

w w w. g re a t e rc h a r l o t t e b i z . c o m

“There was no full-color 3D printing anywhere in the Carolinas at the time, and we wanted to be the first people to do it,� he says. “We started with a reprographics model, and after a year, Z Corporation asked us to help sell printers too.� The 3D printing industry is growing at close to 25 percent per year, so it’s not surprising that Anvil has posted growth every quarter since inception, despite the tough economy. Anvil Present The largest portion of Anvil’s business involves selling and leasing Z Corporation equipment throughout the Southeast from Washington, D.C. to Atlanta. Anvil also offers printing services to businesses, including small engineering and architecture firms and companies that print for a retail market such as Thatsyourface.com, which makes custom action figures and dolls. Watson says that although Anvil is the only company in the area offering Z Corporation technology, and only a very few others offer any sort of 3 dimensional printing, the 3D printing industry is highly competitive. But at least in Charlotte, the competition is friendly.

Watson explains that each type of printer offers different features: Some print in color, but not at a high resolution; others can offer large sizes but no color; some are quick and cheap; others provide a high level of resolution but no color. No single printer, yet, does it all. So his job, and that of his competitors, is to determine which type of printer best meets their needs and then to sell them that—or to send them to a competitor who has something more appropriate. In addition, he often works as a consulting partner, advocating between engineers and upper management to understand and communicate the value of new 3D technology in firm business productivity terms.

And he’s certain that Charlotte is where it will be for him. The incredibly rich and vibrant design community here serves as a powerful backdrop for innovation and entrepreneurship. “I’m a Charlotte boy and I love Charlotte. I just love being in North Carolina,� he grins. “I want to see Charlotte become known as the design and innovation center that it is.� Now that’s an idea worth replicating! biz

Anvil Future No one knows where 3D printing may take us, but Watson has firm ideas on how it will take his company into the future. He is heavily involved in promoting the technology in new industries with a current focus on placing printers with reprographics companies. He also sees a strong future for the company in CAD software innovations.

Heather Head is a Charlotte-based freelance writer.

Atlantic Avenues, LLC dba

Anvil Prototype & Design 4209 Stuart Andrew Blvd., Ste. B Charlotte, N.C. 28217 Phone: 704-527-8171 Principal: Bill Watson, Managing Partner Employees: 4 In Business: 6 years Business: A Z Corporation and SpaceClaim partner for the sale of 3D printers, CAD software solutions and prototyping services with expertise in mass customization manufacturing and logistics. www.anvilprototype.com PROTOTYPE & DESIGN

8FCÀ1BDLBHJOHÀ4IFFUGFEÀ%JHJUBMÀ.BJMJOHÀ'VMGJMMNFOUÀ101À(SBOE'PSNBU Web • Packaging • Sheetfed • Digital • Mailing • Fulfillment • POP • Grand Format 8PSL4NBSU4VJUF WorkSmart Suite: FOEUPFOEUFDIOPMPHZGPSDSFBUJOH EJTUSVCVUJOHNBOBHJOH end-to-end technology for creating, distributing & managing CSFBLUISPVHINBSLFUJOHDBNQBJHOT break-through marketing campaigns

Breaking the mold of traditional traditional printing printing by offering customer-driven solutions solutions to transform your marketing dreams dreams into a reality.

www.hickoryprinting.com | 1-800-Hickory c o n s t r u c t i ve c a t a ly s t fo r c re a t i ve c o n s c i o u s n e s s

725 Reese Dr Dr SW SW Conover, NC 28613 28613

308 308 Friendship Friendship Drive Drive Greensboro, Greensboro,NC NC27409 27409 september 2011

33

“We treat losses as if they were our own. We just happen to know a lot about property insurance and have a great deal of experience in successfully facilitating claims for the insured.� ~Wes Baldwin President

by zenda douglas

Equalizer The

I

t’s a good time for people to review their property insurance policies and coverage needs. That’s certainly the professional opinion of public insurance adjuster Wes Baldwin, who knows that the frequency of property loss is cyclical. “We had been going through a down cycle,” says Baldwin, who goes on to explain that Hurricane Katrina notwithstanding, there had been relatively few storms of any magnitude in recent years. The day-in/ day-out business of property loss adjustment, notably fire and water damage, had also been down during the past several years. “Hurricane Hugo was 22 years ago. We were overdue,” he notes ruefully, citing the substantial property losses from recent Hurricane Irene and the isolated tornados in eastern North Carolina and Joplin, Missouri. Although figures for Hurricane Irene are not yet tallied, preliminary estimates put property loss at $10 billion or more. This year has already been the most expensive for natural disasters in the history of the world, mostly because of the costs of the March earthquake in Japan. Measuring property loss and maximizing recovery has just taken an upturn!

[bizprofile]

The Baldwin Company focuses on measuring loss— maximizing recovery

Independent vs. Public Adjusters “A lot of times people confuse public adjusters with independent adjusters,” says Baldwin, who started The Baldwin Company in 1976 in Columbia, S.C. “Independent adjusters are contracted by insurance companies and do the same work as the company’s own staff adjusters. Their allegiance resides with the insurance company. Our allegiance is to the policyholder,” he clarifies. Public insurance adjusters, also known as property-loss recovery consultants, work exclusively for the policyholder. Employed in an advocacy role by the insured, the public adjuster assists with every aspect of preparing and presenting loss claims and works towards the optimal settlement, or adjustment, made possible by the entitlements of the insurance policy. Most people are only minimally aware of the provisions of their property insurance policy; most are completely unaware of requirements made of the policyholder in time of loss, according to Baldwin. They often don’t realize that they have to prove the damage or loss they are claiming. Very few know about the appraisal clause in a property insurance policy—a clause that allows either party to call in an appraiser when the parties cannot come to an agreement. ➤

c o n s t r u c t i ve c a t a ly s t fo r c re a t i ve c o n s c i o u s n e s s

september 2011

35

“Policies are hard to read and even harder to understand, filled with complex legal language,” says Baldwin. Plus, there is a reluctance to spend time on it; most people gloss over their policies or tell themselves they will read it carefully, later. When called to action, The Baldwin Company starts with a thorough physical inventory, analyzing the insured’s loss, and conducts a word-by-word evaluation of the insurance Do You policy. Baldwin’s adjusters provide all ReallY Have necessary documentation of the loss, replete with values coverTime To Deal ing physical damage to the With All Of building, business interThis Now ruption, additional living expenses and other expenses or losses. Once approved by the policy holder, The Baldwin Company presents the claim to the insurance company and begins to negotiate relief on behalf of the insured. But any decision regarding final settlement figures is always made by the loss victim, the policyholder. Timing is Everything In the case of a loss, it is important for the policy holder to do the things required by the policy in a timely manner so as not to inadvertently negate benefits of the policy. Beyond giving immediate notice of the loss and furnishing a detailed inventory, many policies require the insured to separate damaged property from the undamaged, for example. Still, most loss victims won’t automatically hire a public adjuster, waiting for a problem to surface. “A lot of times people bring us in late in the process when they’ve already gone through a lot of work, lots of estimates, and the adjuster and the insured are at odds with each other,” says Baldwin. “We can’t always start over, but we take what they’ve got and document it so the insurance company will revisit their decision.” Baldwin forewarns that once a commercial enterprise or individual files a property claim, they are generally inundated with calls and letters from contractors, cleaning services, inventory specialists, as well as public adjusters. “There’s a whole economic culture out there involved in property loss.” Baldwin advises victims to not sign anything or hire anybody unless they know and trust them, and to do their homework, vet the person or company and get references. In the case of a public adjuster, Baldwin strongly recommends confirming that the adjuster is a member of the National Association of Public Insurance Adjusters (NAPIA). Baldwin also points to the stress involved with loss of one’s home or business to such things as a hurricane or a fire, sometimes

36

accompanied by the loss of life. “You don’t want to make any financial decisions until you are able to get your head turned back around,” cautions Baldwin. Baldwin believes his firm distinguishes itself through its attitude. Baldwin wants the property loss victim to come out of the situation as best they can. “I learned a long time ago, if we work for the client, the business will take care of itself.” Most clients find Baldwin via the website or Internet search. The Baldwin Company does not advertise. On a rare occasion, when they approach a recent loss victim, it can make a misimpression. “Sometimes, it hits people the wrong w a y , Baldwin explains. “If that happens, we back up and apologize. We want people to know that we Who Is Looking Out realize they’ve just had one For Your Interests loss; we want to help them prevent having another. We are simply trying to help members of the public receive the benefits they are already entitled to by virtue of an existing contract— their insurance policy.” Baldwin says he strives to maintain collegial relationships with insurance adjusters, but that it doesn’t always end up that way. Some adjusters feel that they have to create an adversarial relationship just because a public adjuster is involved. “I’m no shrinking violet,” says Baldwin. “We know what we need to do and what we can do. If the insurance company has offered $200,000 and the insured wants $600,000, the insurance company isn’t going to roll over just because we show up.” When the stakes are particularly high, each party is allowed to obtain a separate appraisal of the loss and submit differences to an umpire, a court-appointed official. “This process allows some new players, some new blood, into the debate,” says Baldwin who has acted as appraiser in some situations; umpire in others. Shouldn’t fair-minded, competent professionals come up with pretty similar appraisals? Often not, says Baldwin. It’s natural for an insurance company adjuster to lean towards the minimum and the public adjuster to pursue the maximum, and in any claim, much support can be found in the wide range of loss treatments. “Many policies say they will ‘repair or replace with like kind and quality’ or ‘return to functionality.’ It seems simple—it’s not,” says Baldwin. “If you want to get the thing put back together as it was the day before the loss, prepare to negotiate.” Appraisal of Charlotte Baldwin hails from South Carolina, having graduated in 1971

s e p t e m b e r 2 0 1 1

w w w. g re a t e rc h a r l o t t e b i z . c o m

from the University of South Carolina following a tour of duty in the Navy. Majoring in finance, he primarily took insurance courses. One of his favorite professors became a mentor and good friend and was helpful in guiding Baldwin to his ultimate career. • Corporate • Advertising • Industrial • Editorial

• Web Images • Architectural Interiors & Exteriors • Professional Portraits

wayne@wmphoto.biz www.wmphoto.biz

704.545.7001

Professional Portrait Services Featured are David V. Singer, President and CEO of Lance and Winston Kelley, Executive Director of NASCAR Hall of Fame

THE EMPLOYERS ASSOCIATION Trusted HR Advice, Tools & Training

Wes Baldwin President The Baldwin Company, Inc.

›Benchmarking for Success Are you competitive?

“A lot of times people confuse public adjusters with independent adjusters. Independent adjusters are contracted by insurance companies and do the same work as the company’s own staff adjusters. Their allegiance resides with the insurance company. Our allegiance is to the policyholder.”

Are your employees engaged? Will they stay as business improves? Tools to compare on a local and national basis. ■ Wage & Salary Surveys

~Wes Baldwin President “I had tried selling insurance and found that I didn’t like the agency business at all,” recalls Baldwin. His former professor tipped him off about an open job for a risk manager with a development firm. As part of that process, a public insurance adjuster was brought on board. The experience worked out well and led Baldwin to be convinced that he wanted to get into the public insurance adjuster business. So Baldwin started out on his own in ➤

■ Employee Engagement Surveys ■ Benefits Survey ■ Policies & Practices Survey ■ Focus Groups

For more information on The Employers Association please visit us at www.employersassoc.com or call 704-522-8011. Your Trusted HR Resource Since 1958 with 865 Local Member Companies

c o n s t r u c t i ve c a t a ly s t fo r c re a t i ve c o n s c i o u s n e s s

september 2011

37

Columbia, S.C., but his research soon led him to Charlotte. “We kept records of where losses were occurring and found that most of the commercial losses were happening between Hickory and Raleigh.” This was due to the concentration of commercial enterprise, such as textile mills, manufacturing plants and the North Carolina furniture industry, along the I-85 corridor, according to Baldwin. “In time, there wasn’t a knitting mill fire that we didn’t get hired on,” says Baldwin. In one of his early cases, an insurance company had offered $300,000 for damage to a Myrtle Beach hotel resulting from Hurricane David, and it ended up settling for $1.1 million. “Everyone was ecstatic and it really started us off,” says Baldwin. The Baldwin Company’s biggest settlement to date came from a $130 million claim from Hurricane Katrina which settled for $100 million. The Baldwin Company accepts clients with claims of $50,000 and up. Fees are determined as a percentage of the claim and usually start at 10 percent, or lower for million-dollar-plus claims. “I want the best for you. If it’s been a battle and things haven’t turned out the way you hoped they would, I’ve been known to change fees so that everybody can walk away in the

“Many policies say they will ‘repair or replace with like kind and quality’ or ‘return to functionality.’ It seems simple—it’s not. If you want to get the thing put back together as it was the day before the loss, prepare to negotiate.” ~Wes Baldwin President most favorable way possible,” says Baldwin. Over the years, things have changed. “I can’t tell you how long it’s been since we’ve worked on a knitting mill. They are just gone— to Costa Rica and other places,” he laments. Baldwin says he hasn’t really replaced that business but referral business is higher due to the Internet. The business has also changed to include more residential claims which now make up 50 percent of contracts. The Baldwin Company has clients across the country as well as clients who have property

SPECIALISTS IN VOICE NETWORKS FOR 32 YEARS.

across the country. “I’m going anywhere someone’s got something for me to do,” he says, adding, “I like to look people in the eye.” Baldwin also travels to fulfill his roles with NAPIA. A past President, he currently heads up the legislative committee and serves on the ethics committee. Currently, work is going on to institute public adjuster licensing requirements and standards in states that do not have them. Retirement is not on the horizon, according to Baldwin who just turned 65. “I’m too active not to be doing something and for the most part, I enjoy this business.” Baldwin admits that many changes have occurred in the insurance industry and he, along with many of his contemporaries, are frustrated by some of the trends. “It’s a lot harder than it used to be. Claims are harder to prove due to increasingly stringent documentation levels,” he says. “The theory today is that if you have a claim in excess of $10 million, you need an attorney, a forensic accountant and a good public adjuster—a team working on your behalf to get what you are entitled to.” Partially because of this, Baldwin tries to build long-term relationships with companies and individuals who own significant property so that he can help them design and maintain their property coverage. “We treat losses as if they were our own,” shares Baldwin. “We just happen to know a lot about property insurance and have a great deal of experience in successfully facilitating claims for the insured.” biz Zenda Douglas is a Charlotte-based freelance writer.

The Baldwin Company, Inc. 222 Baldwin Avenue Charlotte, N.C. 28204 Phone: 704-335-1111; 800-336-1116 Principal: William Wesley Baldwin, President Established: 1976 Employees: 8 in Charlotte office; 1 in Raleigh office Business: Public insurance adjuster retained to assist property owners in the measurement, preparation, presentation, and adjustment of property loss claims in order to assure that the policyholder receives, in a timely manner, all the benefits he is entitled to through the terms of his insurance policy. www.thebaldwinco.com

38

s e p t e m b e r 2 0 1 1

w w w. g re a t e rc h a r l o t t e b i z . c o m

ÂťCome Visit Our Showroom

3111 Freedom Drive, Charlotte NC 28208 704.399.1948 | www.larnersoffice.com

Executive Looks. Exceptional Prices

SERVICES OFFERED New & Used Office Furniture Competitive Rental Rates Space Planning & Design Upholstery File & Storage Cabinet Painting Custom Furniture Chair, Carpet and Cubicle Cleaning Moving & Installation Furniture Repair, Touch up and Refinishing Brokering New, Remanufactured and Used Cubicles Used Artwork, Lamps, Rugs, Etc. New & Refurbished Carpet Squares

WE PROMISE OUR CUSTOMERS OUTSTANDING

SERVICE WHILE PROVIDING QUALITY NEW AND USED OFFICE FURNITURE AT AFFORDABLE PRICES .

PLEASE CHECK OUT ALL WE HAVE TO OFFER:

c o n s t r u c t i ve c a t a ly s t fo r c re a t i ve c o n s c i o u s n e s s

scan our QR code for a virtual showroom tour

september 2011

39

[bizprofile]

by casey jacobus

H

andshaw, Inc. has evolved over its 27 years from a company which primarily sold e-learning solutions to a company which offers more diversified services. Under the guiding hand of Dick Handshaw, a pioneer in the e-learning industry, the company has become a consultant to businesses, offering them a full range of training services, from performance consulting to technology solutions. “The typical vendor / provider business model is the vendor asks the client what they want and then gives it to them. For us it is all about results and the client relationship. We spend the time to ask questions and understand the client’s business. Together, we help our client craft a custom solution that will meet a business need,” says Handshaw. “We look for clients where we can make a difference in their business.” Handshaw says the company builds its personal relationship with clients by asking the right questions and understanding the client’s needs before making any recommendation. Handshaw has to understand the client’s overall business goals and how the project objectives might impact those goals before offering a solution. Real Learning Dick Handshaw was an entrepreneur from an early age. Growing up in western New York, he had a paper route and cut lawns while attending Elmira Free Academy. After graduating from Alford University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1972, he relocated to Atlanta where he worked as a freelance photographer, eventually learning video and graphics as well. He went back to school and earned a Masters in Instructional Systems Technology from Indiana University. “I was there when the Blizzard of ’78 buried a freight car,” jokes Handshaw. When his first wife got a job with NCNB in 1979, they moved to Charlotte and Handshaw got a job with First Union. There he developed one of the first interactive, computer video-learning applications for employees at over 100 First Union branches. “It brought me a lot of recognition,” says Handshaw. “I was invited to a lot of international conferences.” After two and a half years with First Union, Handshaw left to help found Educational Technologies, Inc. where he led instructional design engagements. That lasted another two and a half years before Handshaw decided to start his own company. “I’m not a corporate guy,” says Handshaw. “I don’t like having anybody else between me and the customer. I love owning my own business.” Actually, Handshaw had calls from prospective customers before he even opened the doors of Handshaw, Inc. in October of 1985. His reputation had preceded him. He was sitting in his living room when a former client from Bojangles called. Then, United Carolina Bank was making his phone ring. And, finally, NCNB offered him a big project ➤ they wanted done by the end of March 1986.

40

s e p t e m b e r 2 0 1 1

“For us it is all about results and the client relationship. We spend the time to ask questions and understand the client’s business. Together, we help our client craft a custom solution that will meet a business need. We look for clients where we can make a difference in their business.” ~Dick Handshaw President

Straightening the

Dick Handshaw President Handshaw, Inc.

c o n s t r u c t i ve c a t a ly s t fo r c re a t i ve c o n s c i o u s n e s s

september 2011

41

“It’s all about being good at what we do. We’re not interested in being the biggest. We’re interested in having good clients and making a difference in their businesses.” ~Dick Handshaw President “We want you involved,” said NCNB officials. So Handshaw hired his first three employees and completed the project. Since then, his company has done over 100 more projects with NCNB, now Bank of America. “It’s all about reputation,” says Handshaw. “It’s all about being good at what we do. We’re not interested in being the biggest. We’re interested in having good clients and making a difference in their businesses.” Handshaw has also brought his training experience to the academic arena, holding adjunct teaching positions at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and the University of South Carolina at Columbia. Real Lessons Charlotte was a good place for a young entrepreneur in the 1990s. The business climate was focused on growth and there was plenty of encouragement for young business owners. Handshaw was the first tenant in the Ben Craig Center, which opened in 1986. The University of

42

North Carolina at Charlotte, First Union National Bank and other business leaders had collaborated to create the center as a non-profit organization. It was to operate as an incubator for encouraging small businesses, providing resources such as office space and equipment, a network of mentors and advisors, educational opportunities and capital access. “I got an education in running a business at the Ben Craig Center,” asserts Handshaw. He also joined the Metrolina Entrepreneurial Council, which is now known as Business Innovation and Growth Council or BIG. Dana and Jim Robinson, heads of Partners in Change and coauthors of six books, including Performance Consulting: Moving Beyond Training, served as Handshaw’s mentors. Handshaw also got advice from Ken Iverson, CEO of Nucor Corporation and an innovator in corporate management, as well as making steel. “You can’t be in business by yourself; you have to have some help,” Iverson told Handshaw. Handshaw found a good banker in Wes Sturges at United Carolina Bank and soon added a good attorney and a good accountant to the mix. He also met Carla, his wife of the past 23 years, six months after starting his business. He took her out to dinner on the very last money in his savings account and claims it was worth the investment. “It really helps to have a spouse who supports you when no one else does and in the tough times,” says Handshaw. Not only was the Charlotte

s e p t e m b e r 2 0 1 1

business climate of the 1990s supportive of new young companies, it was a period in which the big banks were gobbling up smaller banks and every day seemed to bring news or rumors of a potential merger or take-over. As the banks merged, they had to consolidate the ways they did business, mesh new operations with old ones, and retrain hundreds of employees. Handshaw led the way in helping the banks find solutions for all these problems. This was both a perfect opportunity and a potential danger for the young company. Despite the business the bank mergers generated, Handshaw recognized the need to diversify his client base. In 2000 he landed the contract for a store managers training program for Krispy Kreme. Later this program was adopted for frontline executives. Then came another training program for Electric Power Research Institute. “Diversifying is very important,” says Handshaw, “but you have to keep a focus even as you diversify. However, diversifying lets you play in different markets and change your service offerings.” Real Value Handshaw, Inc. provides training services, performance consulting, and technology solutions to its clients. The core to its training services is instructional design, as with the program it developed in partnership with Cleveland-based KeyBank. KeyBank is one of the nation’s largest bank-based financial service companies. Handshaw worked with Key’s Community Banking training for over a year to refresh its Teller School

w w w. g re a t e rc h a r l o t t e b i z . c o m

Daddy_CUP_Ad.pdf

1

4/19/11

4:20 PM

curriculum. Handshaw leveraged and updated portions of the existing program while developing new course content. “Handshaw has the right mix of experience and expertise in e-learning design, development and consulting to partner with us to bring this training to a new level,” says Donna J. Burrer, Key Community Banking training director and senior vice president.

“We have to reinvent ourselves about every five years. The challenge is to keep looking ahead and to see where the market is going. You want to be there when it gets there.” ~Dick Handshaw President

When Handshaw does performance consulting for a client, it first analyzes the gap between the company’s goals and its results. Then it develops various interventions and processes to improve the result, and provides an evaluation at the end of the project. For the North Carolina State Employee’s Credit Union (SECU), which serves 1.3 million members with over 200 branches in the state, Handshaw developed a learning management system in which designers can rapidly create and deploy e-leaning courses that can be easily updated and maintained. The same content can be reused for both paper-based and classroom courses representing savings of time and money. The system is used by employees to register for courses, instructors to schedule classes, and managers to track progress. By offering an integrated approach, Handshaw helped SECU reduce their time to develop, deliver and manage all learning, resulting in significant cost savings. “We spoke with numerous vendors of traditional learning management systems over the past two years, but felt Handshaw offered the best system for us,” says Leigh Brady, SECU’s senior vice president for education services. “Their ability to listen and respond to our needs was a big factor ➤ in our decision to go with this group.”

c o n s t r u c t i ve c a t a ly s t fo r c re a t i ve c o n s c i o u s n e s s

september 2011

43

HanDshaw Capabilities

[biznetwork] Thank you to our advertisers who make this publication and its distribution to over 100,000 readers possible! Enjoy their products and services as Charlotte’s leading business-to-business suppliers. 38

ATCOM atcombts.com

25

Ballantyne Center for Dentistry ballantynedentistry.com

25

Blair, Bohlé & Whitsett PLLC bbwpllc.com

32

Business Success Institute business-success-institute.com

20

BusinessWise businesswise.com

31

Canon Business Solutions/Tereck, Inc. tereckoffice.com

06

Carolina Premier Bank carolinapremierbank.com

43

Carolina Urology Partners carolinaurologypartners.com

27

Daniel, Ratliff & Company danielratliff.com

10

Design Center Carolinas designcentercarolinas.com

BC

Diamonds Direct SouthPark diamondsdirectsouthpark.com

19

Gardner-Webb University gardner-webb.edu/gsb

26

Greenspring Energy greenspringenergy.com

39

Group Benefit Solutions gbs-benefits.com

31

Hampton Inn SouthPark hamptonsouthpark.com

33

Hickory Printing hickoryprinting.com

Real Results Handshaw, Inc. has survived two economic downturns in the past decade. The first, the bursting of the technology bubble in 2002, had perhaps more impact on the company than the more recent meltdown of the country’s financial institutions. The biggest challenge for the company continues to be the rapid changes in technology. “We have to reinvent ourselves about every five years,” says Handshaw. “The challenge is to keep looking ahead and to see where the market is going. You want to be there when it gets there.” Handshaw credits his employees with the company’s continuing success. All of Handshaw employees have master’s degrees and, because of their depth of experience, the company has been able to diversify both its client base and its services. There has been very little turnover among the company’s employees during its 27-year history. “When you get good employees, you want to keep them, “says Handshaw. “When we get the good ones, we take care of them.” The Handshaw team has recently created a new Speaking, Consulting and Workshop program for its patriarch with the tagline “Real Learning. Real Results.” Drawing on his 30 years of experience as a learning performance improvement professional, Handshaw is traveling around the country, speaking at international conferences such as the American Society for Training and Development and International Society for Performance Improvement. He also gives Performance Technology Workshops for groups like Bank of America and Hilton World Wide. “The ‘Real Learning. Real Results.’ program has exceeded our goals and expectations for 2011.” says Handshaw. “We originally intended to do six to eight events, but we’ve actually hit two times that number of venues.” What’s more, Handshaw enjoys it. “I love it; I thrive on it,” he exclaims. “It puts me out there with my customers.” Handshaw regards highly two particularly valuable employees, Brent Jennings, vice president of sales/marketing and David Carmichael,

44

vice president of operations. Jennings, who joined the company in 2006, has over 20 years’ experience in the software and service industry. He spent 10 of those years in the learning market with Pathlore Software and market leader Legent/ Goal Systems. He has held a variety of senior sales management positions at the corporate, divisional and regional levels. At Handshaw, Jennings leads the sales and marketing efforts. “I have always admired his passion for client satisfaction and his personal integrity,” explains Handshaw. As vice president of operations, Carmichael manages the allocation of Handshaw’s production resources across as many as 20 concurrent projects. He also oversees the operations budget and works daily with the Handshaw executive committee to direct strategic initiatives and company goals. “We are fortunate to have good people with a great depth of experience.” says Handshaw. “Handshaw is a very harmonious place; everyone is good at what they do and happy to be here.” biz

Casey Jacobus is a Charlotte-based freelance writer.

IBC 10

imapCharlotte.com/imapCities.com imapcharlotte.com/imapcities.com

27

Killingsworth Environmental thebiggreenk.com

08

Knauff Insurance knauffins.com

39

Larner’s Office Furniture Outlet larnersoffice.com

08

Leadership Insights knauffins.com

01

Linville Ridge linvilleridge.com

20

TelWare Corporation telware.com

37

The Employers Association employersassoc.com

IFC

Time Warner Cable - Business Class carolinas.twcbc.com

03

Wake Forest University business.wfu.edu/charlotte

37

Wayne Morris Photography wmphoto.biz

32

Waypoint Solutions Group waypointsg.com

Handshaw, Inc. 8801 J.M. Keynes Dr., Ste. 320 Charlotte, N.C. 28262 Phone: 704-731-5300 Principal: G. Dixon ("Dick") Handshaw, President Employees/Contractors: 25 Founded: 1985 Representative Clients: Bank of America, Electric Power Research Institute, First Tennessee Bank, KeyBank, Lowe’s Home Improvement, N.C. State Employees’ Credit Union, Sunbelt Rentals, TIAA-CREF Business: A training services, performance consulting, and technology solutions company; capabilities include analysis, instructional design, development, and consulting with a focus on improved business results. www.handshaw.com

s e p t e m b e r 2 0 1 1

Hood Hargett Breakfast Club hoodhargettbreakfastclub.com

w w w. g re a t e rc h a r l o t t e b i z . c o m

2011 SPEAKER LINEUP Join us at Hood Hargett Breakfast Club for Charlotte’s premier networking experience NEXT MEETING

Carmel Country Club by invitation only

09 2011

SEPT

The Hood Hargett Breakfast Club

is a ‘category exclusive’ business development organization that develops and hosts some 36 events throughout the year for its members and guests. The goal of these events: to provide success-minded business owners with first-class venues to entertain clients and prospects.

Tobin Smith Fox Business Analyst and Co-host of FNCs “Bulls and Bears”

Jerry Richardson Owner Carolina Panthers

Sept. 9, 2011

Accepting New Members

Oct. 14, 2011

Matt Eversmann Hero of Black Hawk Down and the Battle of Mogadishu

Nov. 11, 2011

WELCOME NEW MEMBERS CPI Security Compass Group Conrad Trosch & Kemmy, P.A. Griffin Brothers Companies Nexcom

“Prime-time is the best word that describes Hood Hargett Breakfast Club. It’s a networking and business development group that puts you at the right place, at the right time, every time. Run by quality leadership, the members of the group are all top quality people and businesses.” ~Daryl Larner, Larner’s Office Furniture Outlet

“The Hood Hargett Breakfast Club is the premier business development group in Charlotte. They helped me launch my business when I came to Charlotte and continue to help me grow it through access to and relationships with top Charlotte business leaders.” ~ Lou Amico, L.A. Management Company, LLC

“Hood Hargett Breakfast Club has been instrumental in developing new business relationships and strengthening existing ones. It is respected among business leaders and serves as a valuable resource for philanthropic initiatives throughout the community.” ~ Gary LaBrosse, LaBrosse/Byerley Group, Merrill Lynch

Call For More Information Call Jenn Snyder at 704-602-9529 • jenn@hoodhargett.com www.hoodhargettbreakfastclub.com

4521 Sharon Road, Charlotte NC 28211 • 704.532.9041 or 888.400.4447 (Located across from SouthPark Mall) Hours: Monday-Friday 10:00-7:00, Saturday 10:00-6:00 www.Diamonds-Direct.com Diamonds Direct Birmingham | Mountain Brook, AL | 205-201-7400 • Diamonds Direct Crabtree | Raleigh, NC | 919-571-2881


Greater Charlotte Biz 2011.09