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Business Black Box

Quarter 1 • 2012

U.S. $5.95



I S S U E . . .


Come On In


The Hub City: How Spartanburg’s growth will change the Upstate


From Broken To Breakthrough



BOX For more from Business Black Box visit




Top 8 Things To Expect In The 2012 Statehouse

Q1 2012 // Business Black Box



I S S U E . . .



Status Check: Public Relations

11 Questions: Merl Code

10 13 15 21 54 82 90



Q1 2012 // Business Black Box

Next Gen: Ben Riddle


Trail Blazer: Frank Mobley

68 T H I N K



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24 36 40 50 57 66 77 80 89 93


What Matters: Katie & Brad Searls






Jordana Megonigal


OUR STORY... Whether planes crash or crews overcome obstacles to successfully complete flights, airlines go to the black box to discover secrets, answers, and missing information to explain what happened and learn for the future. That’s the mission of our magazine, our connect events, and our interactive platform. News of businesses succeeding, failing, merging, hiring, firing and more are reported everyday, all over the Upstate. But in business, the real power is not just hearing the news, but about going behind the scenes, discovering, connecting, and learning from those that made it happen. At the heart of every event, every blog, every magazine issue, and every documentary Business Black Box produces, you’ll find a relentless passion for connecting, advising and growing Upstate business.

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Julie Godshall Brown Andy Coburn John DeWorken Todd Korahais Evelyn Lugo Chad McMillan Ravi Sastry Tony Snipes Alison Storm Steven Tingle Geoff Wasserman Terry Weaver DESIGN ART DIRECTOR Lisa Worsham SENIOR DESIGNER Chris Heuvel PHOTOGRAPHY Wayne Culpepper, Fisheye Studios





Julie Acetta Mary Wray Conner Shannon Harris Charles Richardson Amy Smith Business Black Box (Vol.4, Issue 1) is published four times per year by ShowCase Publishing, 1200 Woodruff Rd. Suite A8, Greenville, SC 29607; phone (864) 281-1323; fax (864) 281-1310. Business Black Box is a registered trademark of ShowCase Publishing 2012. Content may not be reproduced without written permission of Business Black Box. Excerpts may be reprinted, provided that credit is given to the author and to Business Black Box magazine.


Geoff Wasserman



Chad McMillan



Annual Subscriptions are $18 and include four issues of Business Black Box, as well as one year of full access to our website, Think someone you know would like to receive Business Black Box? A complimentary gift card will be sent with each order indicating who the gift is from and when the recipient will receive their first issue. If you have a question about your subscription, call us at (864) 281-1323, ext. 1010, or reach us via email at C HANGE OF ADDRESS

When contacting us about changing your address, please provide us with both the old and the new addresses, as well as any other informational changes. The post office will only forward Business Black Box for 60 days, so make sure you let us know as soon as you have your information ready.


When available, back issues of Business Black Box are available for $9 by mail or for $7 for pick-up through our office.


Printed with



Local talent is what keeps us moving. If you’d like to write or photograph for Business Black Box, please contact the editor at or by mail to Business Black Box, c/o Freelance Opportunities, 1200 Woodruff Rd., Suite A8, Greenville, SC 29607. REPRINT / PHOTO / VIDEO REQUESTS

If you’d like to request a copy or a reprint of a photo or an article you’ve seen in Business Black Box, or of a Fly On The Wall video we’ve done for your event, please contact us for info and pricing at or by mail to 1200 Woodruff Rd., Suite A8, Greenville, SC 29607. EVENT MANAGEMENT / SPONSORSHIP

Business Black Box hosts events monthly from Business Connect networking held at local businesses to sponsoring events for other local organizations. If you’d like to find out more about hosting an event with Business Black Box, or about working with us to sponsor your event, please call our sales team at (864) 2811323, ext. 1018, or email







For complete bios on our advisory council visit


1 2 4 5


6 10

7 8 12



13 14 15



amy wood, anchor, wspa


10. jil littlejohn, executive director, ymca

chip felkel, ceo, the felkel group



tony snipes, business coach & entrepreneur

julie godshall-brown, president, godshall staffing



kimberly kent, principal, mg&c consulting, llc

andy coburn, attorney, wyche law firm


13. todd korahais, operating partner, keller williams realty

maxim williams, director of community relationships, bon secours st. francis


14. terry weaver, ceo, chief executive boards international

tiffany hughes, marketing director, hallelujah acres


15. sam patrick, ceo, patrick marketing & communications

michael bolick, president, lab 21


16. david barnett, president, pinnacle bank

greg hillman, upstate director, scra/sclaunch



ravi sastry, vp of sales & marketing, immedion


john deworken, partner, sunnie & deworken



A Simpler Look


t’s the first column of a new year, and so it’s typical that I would spend these few inches of paper talking about how exciting a new year is and how great it is that we can leave all the mistakes of last year behind.

So, atypically, I’m not going to do that. Because one of the biggest challenges of the last year, for me, was learning how to realize 1) how blessed I am, and 2) how often I complain about things that are, quite frankly, nothing to complain about. I’m gonna go a little easy on myself here, because we all do it. We all complain about the computer that crashed and put us out of a few hours’ work.We all gripe about the guy who cut us off in traffic or how we got charged wrong at lunch. Some of us do it more than others (this girl!) but it’s something that being lucky enough to be born and raised in the U.S. can breed into us. We can have anything we want in the U.S. We have grown up in the culture that tells us that we can achieve anything, if we work hard or are smart enough. And while many of us are realizing that there is a lot of smoke and mirrors in all that we’ve been raised to believe, I have also realized that interestingly, we can’t buy—or earn—happiness. And in 2011, I found that happiness is most often bred through two things: contentment and gratitude. Contentment means being satisfied with what you have and what you’ve been given (maybe that rough project assignment was given to you because someone trusts your instincts in a dire situation!) And gratitude means that you are thankful for everything, even the yucky why-didthis-have-to-happen parts. (A Great book—One Thousand Gifts, by Ann Voskamp—helped me get to this point this year.)

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Now I don’t wanna get preachy here—we’ve all heard this before and like me, until it’s a journey we each individually embark on, we’ll probably just keep hearing it. But, by the same token, I’m no longer gonna complain about how bad last year was and how great this year will be. Last year had it’s own challenges, and this one will, too. Some seem debilitating, and others easily overcome. But it’s not the challenges themselves that make a year good or bad—it’s really how we deal with each and every one of them. So, in your next challenge, regardless of what year the calendar says it is, how will you react to it? Can you approach it knowing that your chances of overcoming it are very high? Can you see it for another opportunity for another blessing in your life? Will your 2012 end up as good as you think it will be? And how much of it actually being that good will you play a part in?

Editor, Business Black Box | 864/281-1323 x.1010 | megonigal Photo by Wayne Culpepper/FishEye Studios


Q1 2012 // Business Black Box


at Furman University

S E R V I C E , V E R S AT I L I T Y, A N D E L E G A N C E COMPLIMENTARY AMENITIES • Free wireless internet • Event planning staff • Built-in projector and screens for audio, video, and presentation support • Flexible sound system, podiums, and conference calling • Business center • Abundant free parking

Bell Tower Catering offers custom menu planning and flexible service options. Corporate meeting packages also available.





For more Layers of Thought visit


Production Hours


This was probably one of our most difficult covers to capture the essence and meaning of the article.

Individual Photographs Used

We set out to capture an almost superhero-like represenation of Sam with all the energy of breaking through the glass.


Photoshop Layers

original photo

The design has a double meaning. 1) To symbolize the circumstances that seemingly shattered their lives. 2) To represent the breakthrough that occurred in both Sam and Aphrodite as they learned to overcome the circumstances that created their brokeness.

highlights and shadows added

contrast filters applied third layer

final filter edits applied




Chad McMillan

Wayne Culpepper Fisheye Studios

Sam Konduros




ON . . .

Meeting Street Academy.



At Business Black Box, we’re big on early childhood education (did you see our Q4 2011 issue?), and that’s why we are really excited to see Meeting Street coming into Spartanburg. It won’t be finished until July 2012, but the first year, the school will open its doors to three- and four-year-olds in the Spartanburg area. Each year, they will add another age level, rounding out at fifth grade. But it gets better than that: Meeting Street helps students who are zoned for low-performing schools, but whose families lack the financial means to pay for private education. Registration applications are due by Jan.20. If you know someone who might qualify or be interested in the MSA program, have them visit for more info.


WHAT: Brown Bag Lunch Workshop: Goal Setting WHERE: Spartanburg Area Chamber of Commerce WHEN: January 10, 9 a.m. New years mean new goals, and Sharon Day, owner of Sales Activation Group, will lead this morning workshop on how to set yours. The hands-on workshop will be offered one time only, and will cover b.h.a.g.s., team involvement, and creating action plans.

FOR MORE INFO: Cindy Teaster at (864) 594-5022 or



WHAT: Upstate Vision Forum WHERE: BMW Zentrum WHEN: January 31, 2012, 3 p.m. Hosted by Ten at the Top, this forum is part of a larger series designed to continue discussions about planning for the future of the Upstate. The topic for this event is will be “Communicating Information across the Upstate.” Forum is free and open to the public; a networking reception will follow the forum.

FOR MORE INFO: (864) 283-2315 or visit the website:


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WHAT: TEDx Greenville 2012 WHERE: Peace Center’s Gunter Theatre, downtown Greenville WHEN: Friday, March 30 TEDx Greenville is back in its third year, this year under the theme “Breakthrough”, designed to be “big, inspirational, and aspirational.” The day-long event will feature speakers from all over that will share their ideas, discoveries, technologies and talents.


Q1 2012 // Business Black Box





Between the Lines


Discover Upcountry South Carolina

What we read: Political Golf, by Hollis “Chip” Felkel and Jason Zacher

A great place for a holistic look at the goings-on, attractions, festivals and meetings of the Upstate.

The Gist: Many business owners play golf, but far fewer understand the game of politics. Surprisingly, the “games” are very similar—in time, cost and skill—and using one to learn the other can make it quite easy to understand.

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How it’s Written: Short, easy-to-read chapters with “gimmes” at the end—tidbits that you can easy adopt as tools for learning the game. Great if: You’re a business person that is interested in golf and politics. Even better if you love the sport, but don’t understand the latter.

Don’t miss: Chapter 5 “The Rules of the Game.” An easy

Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.

look at standards and rules that politicians must follow, protocol, and how to make the game work for you.

Our Read: Great way to introduce yourself to the

political world. After all, every business has one thing in common—government.


Q1 2012 // Business Black Box






A study released by the Troops to Teachers program recently showed that South Carolina was ranked eighth (yes, eighth!) in putting military veterans to work in the educational sector, as teachers. In one year, schools across S.C. put 47 of our most honored leaders to work in seven different subject areas. If you know a veteran who wants to teach, they can visit (registration required but free) for job postings. For more on the Troops to Teachers program, visit

Did you know? Health problems cost corporate America nearly $226 billion annually in productivity losses. Every $1 invested in building bike and pedestrian trails brings nearly $3 in medical cost savings 80 percent of cardiovascular disease is preventable. Obesity is more expensive to the healthcare system than smoking and problem drinking. Research shows that for each one hour of exercise, you can gain two hours of life expectancy. Some experts predict that today’s children are not expected to live as long as their parents, which would be the first time in history that an entire generation’s life expectancy actually drops.

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*information provided by the American Heart Association

We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day. STEVE JOBS



Q1 2012 // Business Black Box

The Numbers:


of Cardiovascular Disease is Preventable

Below are several of the preventable causes on heart disease.

Inactivity Obesity High Blood Pressure Cigarette Smoking High Cholestoral Diabetes


TURBINE IMPELLER manufactured by adex machinging technologies greenville, sc

for more visit

From S.C. to the World



The Case for Public Relations

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Many consider an active Public Relations unit an integral part of a solid marketing plan. But if a company is doing their job as it should be done (meaning, the customers are taken care of and there are few complaints), how important is it that consumers and networks surrounding a company or organization see a deeper or more personable side of the company through public relations?


Q1 2012 // Business Black Box

S TAT U S It really depends on the type of business that they are in and the size of the company. The bigger the business the more problems they will have, as they will never satisfy every customer. The smaller companies cannot afford a PR luxury and usually do it themselves, whether they realize it or not. Positive PR is critical to large companies, especially in a day when information travels at light speed. Many large companies do a lot of great things for their communities, and it is important for them to share with others to let them know. For example, I just read about the record amounts raised by United Way with the support from 36,000 but huge support from Michelin and Flour along with GHS and Greenville County Schools. They all deserve to have that positive PR.


I think there is a distinction within the PR realm between “reputation management/damage control” and “earned media.” In the earned media space, when someone else publishes information about you, it’s essentially an endorsement. A company should therefore make its PR strategy about putting forth sharable, interesting information that inspires writers to want to write. If something goes wrong, you switch to reputation management mode. That’s another post.

Jess Robertson

Creative Services Manager, Smith Moore Leatherwood

Patrick Van Every

Senior Acccount Executive, Wastequip

Trevor Gordon CEO, Sandlapper Securities

I feel it is extremely important for a company to have a strong PR presence in their local market as well as in the vertical market they are in. The more a market knows about and hears from a company the more ingrained they become in the customer’s mind. PR, if done correctly, costs little money to do but needs to be deliberate and consistent with everything else the company is doing.

Especially when customers are getting taken care of, the PR needs to reflect that via case studies and news releases that only help reinforce the value the company has in their market. I feel that, as social media continues to go, you need to embrace both traditional PR as well as social media to make sure your consistent message is getting out to as many eyes as possible.

Many people confuse “Publicity” and “Public Relations” and that is one of the barriers to success in this arena. Every business should have a viable “Publicity” campaign at all times because that is an effective way for new prospects to discover them. A key role of the media is to tell interesting things about interesting people (or businesses), so a wise business leader should seeks ways to be interesting to the media audience that serves their market. A “Public Relations” unit is often more sedate in their objectives. They might be considering investor relations, and/or community relations rather than market development issues.

Joe Milam

Technology Sales, ScanSource

Gil Gerretsen President, Biztrek

Q1 2012 // Business Black Box


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PR is not just for the “atta boys” but also as a tool to educate and enrich. What is important to me may not be important to you, but neither you or I will know that until an impartial 3rd party best lays it out for us.

“PR, if done correctly, costs little money to do but needs to be deliberate and consistent with everything else the company is doing.”



hen I moved to Greenville in 1990, the plan (well, my plan) was to stay a year or two, and move on. A great place to visit, but not home. I was a thousand miles from home in Montreal, and I felt like a (frozen) fish out of water.


As a 21-year old G-Braves Marketing Director, I assembled an Advisory Board, asking strangers for time, a precious commodity for leaders. At our first meeting, I was in way over my head in that room on the “clout” meter, but welcomed by each because they loved the Braves…and then I met C. Dan Joyner, and was shocked that he knew my name! In fact, he belted out,“Heyyy Geoffers! Great to meet you!” Suddenly, I felt like my presence in the room mattered…like I belonged. Business acquaintances for the next 20 years, anytime I walked in a room, no matter who he was with, he’d stop, and belt out, “Heyyy Geoffers,” and actually care. He knew how to build a first-class organization and dominate market share for decades. His legacy in Greenville is undeniable, different for different people for sure—his peers, employees, charities, family. But the legacy he left to me was a gift, a gift he gave to thousands throughout his life. The gift was simple: The gift of making you feel like your presence mattered; the gift of feeling you were at home.

C.DAN JOYNER’S LEGACY: HE GAVE ME MY FIRST ‘HOME’ FOR FREE Building a real estate empire was what he “did” for a living. Helping you feel at “home”, whether for a lifetime or for 15 seconds at a business function, was who he was. About the author...

A native of Montreal, Canada, Geoff started the company in 1999. A successful entrepreneur with a heart to help others grow and succeed, Geoff’s career includes seven years of sports marketing with the Montreal Expos and Atlanta Braves, as well as seven years as a Managing Director in the financial services industry with two fortune 500 companies. Geoff spends the majority of his business time advising and consulting business owners and leaders to develop strategies and practical marketing, operational and leadership solutions to help organizations grow and reach their full potential. Geoff resides in Greenville with his three children: Noah, Rebecca, and Alana.


Years later, he agreed to be my corporate spokesperson when I chaired a major Make-A-Wish Foundation campaign, and he did it wholeheartedly. Over 20 years, C. Dan said yes and no to things I brought him among the thousands of others’ requests. The amazing thing was his “how.” When C. Dan said yes, he was all in.When he said no, he explained, with caring and conviction. Not through his assistant, or behind email. When leaders look back on life, I believe if we’re honest, it’s not the things we built or brought to market that we cherish or regret. In the end, it’s how we treated people and how they treated us that bring us peace, joy, or regret. The unique way we honored the privilege of interacting with each other, refused to settle for less than our own personal best for each other, or, in some cases, simply the way we recognized each others’ presence. When I come home and I open the door and my three kids rush from the babysitter to me screaming “Daddy! Daddy” with their arms open, there’s no greater feeling than home. Maybe we can’t do that with everyone in our lives, but perhaps there’s a middle ground somewhere between a mad dash into someone’s arms, and the impersonal “hey” with no eye contact we all admittedly sometimes give someone interrupting our train of thought. When we enter “rooms” of life, deep down, we all want to know our presence matters. Home is where the heart is…What a tired cliche—or, perhaps, a lifechanging paradigm if we stop a conversation, hit pause on the laptop, iPad, iPod, iPhone, just for that brief moment, and care enough to make them feel valued when they enter the room. If their presence matters to you, what would it look like if you let them know? It’s the silent secret people crave in relationships, marriages, and certainly at work.Who knows…for leaders, developing a new habit in this area might be the very thing that turns their day—and your corporate culture—around. When you walked in a room and C. Dan Joyner was there, you knew your presence genuinely mattered to someone. What a gift, what a legacy, and what a life lesson. Thanks, C. Dan.

Q1 2012 // Business Black Box

For more on this topic visit

2012 Last call for Speakers and Performers for TEDxGreenville 2012: Breakthrough! Nomimate at



Photography by Wayne Culpepper/FishEye Studios

It was through the misted glass of a shower door that

Sam Konduros first heard his wife murmur the words that would change their lives.

“It’sProfi cancer.” le For more from Business Black Box visit

The big C-word. A fear that had subconsciously haunted Sam for his whole life had become instantly real— his wife of sixteen years, Aphrodite, had been diagnosed with breast cancer. The reaction was chaotic. In only one hour, Sam was to be on a flight to London where he would represent Clemson University on an international stage. To miss that obligation seemed impossible. To leave his wife at such a time was just as unthinkable.


Q1 2012 // Business Black Box


From the time they met, at Columbia’s Greek Orthodox Church, there was something that drove their relationship—even though at the time, Aphrodite was only 15 years old and Sam, a mere 11. But as they grew up, their lives drifted together and then back apart, and in law school they reacquainted after running into each other at a Columbia restaurant. Best friends for years, they could never understand why their respective boy- and girl- friends didn’t care too much for the other. It wasn’t until five years later that they started dating, finally realizing that true love had been right alongside them the entire time. At the time,Aphrodite was a lawyer with an extraordinary amount of potential, and Sam—having gone to law school and deciding he “didn’t want to practice law”—worked in the International Business Division of the S.C. Department of Commerce under then-Governor Carroll Campbell. But in 1994, everything shifted. BMW had moved to the Upstate, bringing with it many European suppliers, and because of his work with many of them, Sam was offered a job with Alfmeier Corporation in Greenville, where he would lead the German supplier’s U.S. Operations. Back in Columbia, “Aphrodite was so sure that I was leaving forever, that she threw a going-away party for me—even had a painting commissioned for me,” Sam remembers. “But instead, I asked her to marry me. I was taking her with me.” Sam began moving mountains with his new job at Alfmeier, while Aphrodite managed to pull together a wedding and a move to the Upstate. The months would mark what became typical for the couple—a lot of travel, a lot of work, and business that would take them apart from each other—sometimes across the state, and others, across the globe.

Q1 2012 // Business Black Box


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It wouldn’t be the first time they’d been apart — not by any stretch of the imagination.

“I’m a total immersion kind of guy,” Sam says, noting that while he was launching operations, hiring, and dealing with every business hurdle imaginable with Alfmeier, Aphrodite managed bridal showers and personal moves. “I pretty much just showed up for the wedding.” The years passed, seeing Aphrodite into the judicial system— as an attorney, assistant General Counsel for the SC Department of Disabilities and Special Needs, director of Greenville Department of Social Services, and into the family court system, and Sam into a position as first President/CEO of the Upstate Alliance, and eventually at SK Strategies, a self-owned company that advised large clients like CU-ICAR and Greenville Hospital System. By January 2010, the Konduros’ became a statewide power couple—Aphrodite had been elected to the S.C. Court of Appeals, while Sam was chairman-elect of the Greenville Chamber and had signed on to lead ITOR’s business development efforts, Greenville’s budding Cancer Research Institute housed at Greenville Hospital System. And then, irony came, in its purest form— in the same year as Sam’s focus turned to Cancer research and growing a Cancer Research facility, that same disease would impede upon their lives in ways they never dreamed. That day still rings vividly in their memories. Aphrodite hung up the phone after hearing the words. She knew it wasn’t the best time to tell Sam the news. “I wasn’t going to tell him. I knew this would be a rough overseas trip for him,” Aphrodite remembers. “But it was like this compulsion…I couldn’t wait.” She motioned to him as he showered, and as he wiped fog away, shattered silence with her words. Knowing there was little option for Sam not to leave, they did the only thing they could—drove to Charlotte Airport together, with little more than an hour before Sam would take flight for London. It shouldn’t have been surprising. After all, she had known it was coming. After a mammogram in mid-December, she had a “sixth sense that something wasn’t right.” But even though it was something long suspected, it was also something that became easy for her to deny in reality. “Your life changes at that moment of diagnosis…you’re immediately thrust into this new zone where you now have a whole series of appointments being made and a team is being selected for you,” Sam remembers. “It was beyond interesting—one of my two most significant roles at the time was serving as business

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development director for the Institute for Transitional Oncology Instead, she “completely compartmentalized,” going to the Research, so I’d been working, shoulder-to-shoulder with some beach, and then a fellow judge’s swearing in ceremony, but in the brilliant oncologists for several months end, she couldn’t hide from it. “It was in developing a strategy for developing probably within about 48 hours of that this institute. Lo and behold, the that I admitted to myself that I had medical director for this GHS Cancer cancer,” she says. Center, who I’d worked with on In what became a whirlwind of almost a daily basis, is suddenly my time, Aphrodite had a lumpectomy, and wife’s medical oncologist. soon, radiation treatments, in an effort “One of the hardest things ever for to eradicate the disease. Fortunately, me, was to fly away, leaving her with because she had a tiny but aggressive that diagnosis, and I’m literally over Grade 3 tumor, had she not caught it there in England with a very bad cell when they did, it could have been much phone connection at an English pub worse. To Sam, she became a “poster where I’m trying to have dinner, six child” for early detection. hours ahead, while she is in an office Through all the treatment, with Dr. Larry Gluck and about three Aphrodite found her own comforts. other physicians that her team has put An avid New York Yankees fan, together…and I’m only hearing about she wore a different t-shirt to each one of every three words.” radiation treatment, including those of Aphrodite chimes in, with a stab of family friend and Hall of Famer Bobby humor, “Well, that makes two of us.” Richardson and Yankees captain Derek But even as she met with her newlyJeter. She carried the same seashell formed cancer team, which consisted of from Seabrook Island to each session, an oncologist, breast surgeon, radiology adding “it probably glows in the dark oncologist, and breast cancer “navigator,” now.” She developed friendships Aphrodite sat in a state of denial. with the others who would sit in the “I read and process information for waiting room at the same time every a living,” she says,“but I would no more day, cultivating relationships into what have told you that that meeting was she now refers to as “a brotherhood,” about me than the man on the moon. with both patients and other staff. I sat there and listened to these people, But it was an unlikely relationship— who I really like… and asked them one with a racehorse she’s never questions, but I walked out thinking, met—that served as one of her biggest ‘Now I wonder who are they talking encouragements. about?’ Zenyatta is a champion racehorse, said Aphrodite “There was a complete air of known for winning 19 races in a row.

“There was a complete air of unreality that me, in my suit, with my Blackberry, sitting on the end of that table— it most certainly was not me that they were discussing,”

unreality that me, in my suit, with my Blackberry, sitting on the end of that table—it most certainly was not me that they were discussing,” she adds. “I remember walking out without remotely realizing that those nice people would eventually save my life.”


Q1 2012 // Business Black Box

Her races are breathtaking, partly because of her status as a “mare” and partly because of her style— coming from the back of the pack each time to win within feet of the finish line. She’s so impressive that she became one of only two athletes to be on 60 Minutes, with the other being Mohammed Ali.

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In 2009, Zenyatta was retired, but came back in 2010 to run one more season. That season—Zenyatta’s sixth—happened to correspond with Aphrodite’s radiation treatments, and served as a stronghold for her persistence to beat cancer. “To me it was like there was always something on the horizon, something that made me happy. I always knew that in two or three weeks there would be another race,” Aphrodite remembers, holding back tears.Today, she has framed photos, ornaments, bumper stickers and t-shirts of the horse that means so much to her. Aphrodite remembers, “The hardest thing for me was the drive to Columbia for court and then the drive back for radiation in the morning. Usually I would stay Tuesday and Wednesday night and come back on Thursday morning, but because I had to have radiation every day I would drive, hold court, and then drive back.” Through it all, Zenyatta became something solid in a chaotic world. Still, Sam quietly worried about Aphrodite constantly. “The spouse experience is really different in this. You are trying to be a rock and be really strong, but you are torn up inside and it is really stressful, and you are trying to manage that stress,” he says. “Watching her climb into this space capsule of a chair and witnessing the radiation process is stressful…but she took comfort in it. “I still have her emotional message saved on my phone from when she called me right after her last radiation treatment. It was one of the best messages that I have ever gotten from her, and I will never erase it,” he says. But even as Aphrodite’s radiation treatments came to an end, another unexpected obstacle would soon show itself. At the beginning of summer that same year, Sam noticed a skin rash that wouldn’t go away. After trips to the dermatologist, creams, and antibiotics, the doctor requested a biopsy. Amazingly, the first and second pathology reports came back with a preliminary diagnosis of a rare form of lymphoma. For Sam, another ominous cloud had just rolled in. Having one

grandfather die of leukemia and another, along with his dad, suffer prostate cancer, he was shaken. “I have always had an inordinate fear of cancer…to me cancer represents one of those things in your life that you feel you have little control over, an insidious force within your own body,” he says. “People are seemingly victimized as if they were in a drive by shooting. Even as a child I remember fearing it. “ Now the thing that had haunted him for years was the thing his career was most focused on, and also became the center of his personal life. “It was surreal. Now, I was personally experiencing the expertise and bedside manner of the very team of oncologists I have been promoting,” he recalls. “They are used to ‘Sam’ as this big guy in a suit who is good at economic development and business planning and now, I walk into the waiting room at Cancer Center of the Carolinas in my gym shorts waiting for my appointment and my results… jaws were dropping a little bit.” “Having the unique opportunity to feel everything a cancer patient goes through in the beginning, I have gained even more respect for what they do and how they do it. In the meantime I am still having business meetings and having to compartmentalize everything that is going on with my health. Then, the word got out and when people call and ask about it, it does zap your energy after a while.You get to where you finally just want to get away from all of that.” As a molecular test was ordered to finalize the diagnosis, Sam wrestled with his emotions, his habits and his faith. “You find out a lot about who you are and what you have become, but as you get through it you really focus on what you want to become,” he says. “I had never slowed down in 20 years… the doctor told me that it was necessary to find some balance because I was burning a candle from four different sides. But my work habit had become writing memorandums on Saturdays and doing administrative catch up on Sundays. Church got put aside because Sunday mornings were used for administrative work.”

“Cancer will either make you bitter or better, but you will not stay the same.”


Q1 2012 // Business Black Box

“So often the term seems to be ‘cancer survivors.’ Or ‘cancer victims.’ But it’s really about being a cancer ‘warrior’,” she says.

“’Survivor’ sounds like hanging on a log in a river, heading for the falls. But [in reality] it’s about fighting and battling. The warrior image for us is a lot more appropriate.” After one full year of challenges and setbacks, the Konduros’ began to see the victories of their long battle. Today, both cancerfree, they remain diligent and grateful, testing as necessary to prevent the surprises they have both become so familiar with. Nothing is taken for granted. Meanwhile, ITOR, with Sam leading business development, has grown as well, launching formally in October 2010 and continuing to grow above four major pillars: a clinical research unit, an innovation zone, a biorepository (or tissue bank), and a future clinical genomics center, which would help very sick cancer patients receive the right experimental drug for their unique cancer. Passionate about the possibilities for ITOR, and fueled now by a personal desire to beat cancer on every front, Sam is determined to help grow ITOR into one of the leading Cancer Research institutes in the nation, and to help others, like he and his wife, who find themselves facing seemingly insurmountable challenges. “[When you are diagnosed with cancer,] you become members of a club, whether you want to or not. This is not a journey that you would choose for yourself no matter what positives may come out of it,” he says. “The good news is that there can be blessings through the experience,” he says. “Cancer will either make you bitter or better, but you will not stay the same.”

Q1 2012 // Business Black Box


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But one Sunday morning in the midst of the turmoil, while working downtown, Sam felt pulled, and ended up at Grace Church Downtown. He found that a turning point in a re-established faith that could carry him through the many challenges he and Aphrodite were facing. “That was such an important moment in my life and not to acknowledge it would not be authentic,” he says. “For me, there was absolutely no breakthrough without God. It is the ultimate life lesson.” Three weeks later, the frightening molecular test came back with earth-shaking results for Sam. The verdict: no cancer. “I didn’t expect the news, but I knew that it was a gift. I was to accept it, not waste it, and honor it by making some changes,” he said. Those changes included less clients and not sweating the little stuff, UV treatments, changing his diet and lifestyle, consolidating homes across the state, and even giving up coffee for tea—which Aphrodite thought was most remarkable based on Sam’s passion for java. But the challenges didn’t end there. A medication that Aphrodite was on after radiation caused uterine tumors, and in December, she ended up having a hysterectomy and removal of both ovaries. Still, both Sam and Aphrodite’s outlook remained positive, and they kept a united front. “It was almost like the second half of our lives started at that point,” Sam says. “We have never been closer and it armed us for battle as we moved forward.” Aphrodite agrees, noting that she believes the mentality surrounding cancer patients to be unintentionally misleading.



his is a series of articles on the critical success factor in growing your business – having a selling system in place that ensures enough inbound revenue to keep the business growing. Here’s an overview of a selling system: If a prospect doesn’t buy, forget him, right? Wrong.


Not everyone buys on the first pass through your selling system. That doesn’t mean they won’t ever buy. If your prospecting and qualification processes are working right, you’ll have a list of prospects who may have the prerequisites for a sale—money, authority, and need—sometime in the future. They may really want what you have and just can’t afford it. They may really like what you have and just don’t need it right now. That’s where your farming process pays off. Most companies don’t have this critical piece of their selling system working well, which means they spend the time and money creating lead flow, then completely miss the return on that lead generation investment.


Terry Weaver is the former President and COO of Kemet, the founder of Metaprise computing, the founder of Delta Resource Group, and presently owns and operates a national CEO membership organization. His experience as a Fortune 100 Vice President, mid-cap NASDAQ company President/COO and round-trip (startup, growth, sale) entrepreneur provides unique perspective.

Real farmers cultivate, then harvest. That’s what you want to do with your qualified leads who didn’t buy yet. You need a cultivation process that keeps your message in front of a prospect. You have no idea when they might have either the money or the need, so this process needs to be frequent enough that they don’t forget you. Most businesses think that’s perhaps once a month.Twice a month probably isn’t too often. Quarterly is not often enough. What you want is your brand and your message in front of the prospect, somehow. In today’s world, the simplest and cheapest is an Email broadcast, usually of something like an E-newsletter. The key to that piece is that it’s informative and brings them ideas they can use. They’ll get the commercial message part by themselves. Stories and case studies help bring your message through while meeting the “informative and useful” test. For example, “Here’s what we did for a customer who needed…..” There are other ways of cultivating prospects. You can call them. You can visit them. Both of those have limitations of time, distance and cost. It’s hard to call or visit hundreds or thousands of prospects a month. You can also mail them. I have a friend who swears by a paper newsletter, sent once a month. You’ll be amazed at how this works. It has changed my business. We send out an email newsletter each month, and every single month a prospect responds with a renewed interest, says it’s now the right time, or, in some cases just emails and says, “I think it’s time I joined your organization.” Can’t beat that—fish jumping into your boat! Examine your farming process. Does it touch all your prospects, at least once a month? Don’t hesitate to contact me if you have more questions about your lead farming process. It’s your most important strategy to get the full value you paid for from the leads you’ve generated.


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Four years ago, there was no such thing as a data center in South Carolina. Then Frank Mobley stepped on the scene.

Photo by Wayne Studios Black Box Q1 2012 // Business 38 Culpepper/FishEye


Four years ago, there was no such thing as a data center in South Carolina. The hulking companies who provided servers, support and cloud services to companies from all over were known around the world, but the closest one was in Charlotte, N.C. But when an RFP came from the Greenville County School district, requesting such a service, Frank Mobley saw the opportunity that would change his life, and the state of South Carolina, for the better. “I thought, ‘Well, I think we can make one of these [data centers] work in the Greenville market,’” Mobley remembers. “The Greenville School System had put out an RFP for a data center, and it had to be in Greenville County…so that’s when I decided that maybe this would work.” So, he left his previous job as VP of Operations at Peak10 in Charlotte, and began the process of knocking on doors and raising money. He connected with Rob Moser, a childhood friend from his hometown of Chester, S.C., and, in Mobley’s words,“he decided to jump off the cliff with me.” They began cultivating a company—one that offered solutions to companies who had critical data that needed to be secure and accessible all the time. “In the old days, if the computers went down for a while it wasn’t a big deal; usually they were used to run batch jobs and that was done at night,” Mobley explains. “But now, if computers go down, business is essentially shut down and can’t

continue. So the old computer closet doesn’t work anymore because you have internet interruptions, you have power interruptions, there are security issues with having a server in a closet or stuck in a corner. “We have redundant connections to the internet that minimize the opportunity for that to fail. We have power supplies that condition in power as well as diesel generators that return power in the case of a longer term power outage, we have people on staff around the clock 24 hours a

“If computers go down, business is essentially shut down and can’t continue.” day, both to keep an eye on things from the security perspective, as well as to help if you have a server that goes down on Christmas day—instead of having to go in, you can call and say ‘I need help, I need you to reboot this server.’” Fast-forward to the present, and the company that became Immedion has flourished in South Carolina—and beyond. Now with data centers in Greenville, Columbia, Asheville, and a newlyannounced build in Charleston (scheduled to open May 2012), and with accolades like

“Small Business of theYear” from Greenville Chamber or the 2011 “Business of Integrity Award” from the Better Business Bureau— Immedion has become a force in the state that other companies find it hard to compete with. “Our goal was to cover South Carolina,” Mobley says. “Once you do that, its very difficult for a competitor to come in an build…it’s a very sticky business. As long as we’re doing the things we tell our customers we’re gonna do, it’s very hard for a competitor to come take our business.” But for Mobley, his true success—while partly due to timing—comes from just being local to the area. “It’s certainly about the local proposition, and it’s about knowing where your data is,” he says. “In some of the major cloud companies, you don’t know where your data physically resides, and you don’t know how hard it will ever be to get it back.” What’s more, Mobley says, is the sense of energy and urgency that comes only with being in the same area.“They don’t care that the Clemson-Carolina game is on and the cable is out,” he jokes. “But we understand the local drivers. We understand that when people come to us with a problem and we put people on it.” But even apart from that is the sense of being a part of the community they are located in; not just residing in it. “For each data center, our ‘market’ is essentially 100 miles around that data center,” he notes, with a smile. “A big part of what I do is focus on customer service, because when I go out to a restaurant, I don’t want to have someone come up to me and tell me that we did something wrong.”

Q1 2012 // Business Black Box


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ow that we’re in a new year, we are getting closer to seeing another wave of business tools, products and gadgets go the way of the dinosaur. So why do I bring this up? Two reasons. It serves as a reminder that time is moving on, and we need to move our business along with it. If not, we will continuously play catch up, or worse, “pack up.”


So, I’d like to share with you seven business tools, products or gadgets that will be obsolete by the end of the decade. First, let’s start with a couple of things you probably have on, in or near your desk now that you hardly ever use: White Out- With so many documents being created or distributed electronically, painting over typos has become a thing of he past. Yellow Page Directories- Already a thing of the past.When was the last time you actually searched for a phone number by using one of these?

7 SMALL BIZ TOOLS THAT WILL SOON BE GONE Now, let’s move to the gadgets and items that we probably still use just because they are there, almost a part of the furniture: About the author...

As Director of Redemption Marketplace Alliance, a Greenville-based entrepreneurship training program, Tony utilizes a unique combination of years of leadership experience in the corporate arena with ministry experience in the community. His impact in the lives of entrepreneurs has been as an internet publishing and advertising expert helping small to large business clients for News media companies such as the Greenville News, The St. Petersburg Times, and News Channel 7 WSPA. He also utilizes his first-hand knowledge as an entrepreneur from years of retailing, designing and marketing his own art and design work.


Fax Machines- PDF documents or, better yet, email have this device on it’s way out. Paper Folders and Files- It’s much easier and more efficient to use electronic folders to track, store and access records and documents. And last, gadgets that had value even last year, but have or will have limited value this year: Recordable CD’s and DVD’s- Everything is moving to pure digital distribution, making these resources a fast approaching thing of the past. Digital Cameras- Stand alone point and shoot cameras for the non-pro photographer are already gathering dust because of the increase in quality of photos taken by smart phones. GPS- If your business calls for using a GPS to aid in local or not so local travel, smart phones are taking over that business as well. I posted this as a wake up call to show you that time is moving, things are changing and if you don’t have a strategy in mind, your business could become the way of these items, too.

Q1 2012 // Business Black Box

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ow that we’re in a new year, we are getting closer to seeing another wave of business tools, products and gadgets go the way of the dinosaur. So why do I bring this up? Two reasons. It serves as a reminder that time is moving on, and we need to move our business along with it. If not, we will continuously play catch up, or worse, “pack up.”

So, I’d like to share with you seven business tools, products or gadgets that will be obsolete by the end of the decade.


First, let’s start with a couple of things you probably have on, in or near your desk now that you hardly ever use: White Out- With so many documents being created or distributed electronically, painting over typos has become a thing of he past. Yellow Page Directories- Already a thing of the past.When was the last time you actually searched for a phone number by using one of these?

7 SMALL BIZ TOOLS THAT WILL SOON BE GONE Now, let’s move to the gadgets and items that we probably still use just because they are there, almost a part of the furniture: Fax Machines- PDF documents or, better yet, email have this device on it’s way out.

About the author...

Paper Folders and Files- It’s much easier and more efficient to use electronic folders to track, store and access records and documents.

As Director of Redemption Marketplace Alliance, a Greenville-based entrepreneurship training program, Tony utilizes a unique combination of years of leadership experience in the corporate arena with ministry experience in the community. His impact in the lives of entrepreneurs has been as an internet publishing and advertising expert helping small to large business clients for News media companies such as the Greenville News, The St. Petersburg Times, and News Channel 7 WSPA. He also utilizes his first-hand knowledge as an entrepreneur from years of retailing, designing and marketing his own art and design work.

And last, gadgets that had value even last year, but have or will have limited value this year: Recordable CD’s and DVD’s- Everything is moving to pure digital distribution, making these resources a fast approaching thing of the past. Digital Cameras- Stand alone point and shoot cameras for the non-pro photographer are already gathering dust because of the increase in quality of photos taken by smart phones. GPS- If your business calls for using a GPS to aid in local or not so local travel, smart phones are taking over that business as well. I posted this as a wake up call to show you that time is moving, things are changing and if you don’t have a strategy in mind, your business could become the way of these items, too.

For more on this topic visit


he travel and tourism industry is becoming a huge economic force in the Upstate, responsible for 9,000 jobs in Greenville County and $48 million in tax revenues. In Spartanburg County, 2,370 jobs and $5.42 million in tax receipts are directly related to tourism. So while statewide attention for tourism usually focuses on the coast and the Lowcountry, the numbers offer a more holistic point-of-view: that the Upstate’s hospitality industry is nothing to be ignored.

It’s All Business

Made up of 10 employees with an annual budget of slightly more than $2 million, the Greenville Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) pours between 70 to 75 percent of their resources into convention and group sales, while the rest supports leisure tourism, according to Chief Marketing Officer Jennifer Stilwell.

After all, convention and group sales are opportunities that bring in hundreds—even thousands—of room nights at a time which each generate hundreds of thousands of dollars in direct spending. The sales team then builds relationships with organizations like the South Carolina Association of Educational Technology or the American Bicycle Association, which both scheduled events here for the fall of 2012.The CVB sells Greenville as a destination for their event, conference or competition. “It can take, on the short term, six months to work a lead,” says Stilwell. “It can also take a year and a half to work a lead [that’s] four years out.” As an example, right now the sales team is working to fill rooms for 2013 and numbers show they’re only halfway to their annual goal of 40,000 room nights. Once the CVB secures a lead, they give the details to their member hotels and ask for rate quotes. If the quotes come in high, there’s a risk of losing that business. “One of the things we’re starting to see is that downtown is commanding a much higher rate,” explains Stilwell. “It’s a good thing for the destination overall, but can be challenging in the future for groups who may be looking for more discounted room rates with an emphasis on downtown properties.” The Greenville CVB says they’ve already lost 55,452 room nights in 2012 and 33,197 in 2013; reasons range from high room rates to a lack of awareness of what Greenville has to offer. “There have been several recently that we have ended up not moving forward with—where it has been a lead with a good amount of room nights coming in for our lower demand periods but ended up passing because of not being able to give the room rate that the group is looking for,” says Stilwell. Stilwell says that while the CVB can’t force a hotel

Q1 2012 // Business Black Box

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As a matter of fact, money invested in tourism is returned several times over in the form of tax revenue, in general. According to a 2009 report from the U.S. Travel Association, for every dollar in public operational expenditures related to travel and tourism, $2.67 is generated in state and local tax revenues in South Carolina. “We’re one of the few things in any government budget that generates return on investment,” says Tim Todd. As Executive Director of Discover Upcountry Carolina Association, his primary focus is on leisure tourism, selling the area’s natural beauty, historic landmarks and unique attributes. For 22 years, he’s led the organization in selling Anderson, Cherokee, Greenville, Oconee, Pickens and Spartanburg counties as a tourist destination. “It’s not the biggest industry in the area, but it’s an integral part of it,” he says of the economics behind tourism and hospitality. He and just two other staff members handle a $350,000 annual budget that comes from state allocations, accommodation tax dollars, member fees and advertising sales. In stark contrast to Todd’s efforts to generate leisure tourism—that is, tourism by attraction, rather than by business or conventions—is the work of the Greenville Convention and Visitors’ Bureau.


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Q1 2012 // Business Black Box

he says. “Everyone wants to see some of that hospitality tax put back into marketing and advertising Greenville.” Sponseller adds that traditionally, business travelers and salesmen are more likely to visit the area, not vacationers. “You put your resources where you can influence the decision maker,” he explains. “That’s the market [the CVBs] can influence.”

Take It Easy

But while the business travel market is the one most influenced in Greenville, in other locations like Spartanburg—without a large meeting facility comparable to the TD Convention Center—the ability to market to groups is somewhat limited. Still, when Spartanburg CVB’s Executive Director Chris Jennings accepted the job two years ago, tourism funding was at about $300,000. Now it’s up to around half a million dollars. “The [Spartanburg] county council has been very supportive of our efforts,” he says, but notes that the general public may be more hesitant to support additional tourism spending. “From the resident standpoint I think there’s disconnect.” But new data may help communicate the value of tourism for Spartanburg. For the first time ever, the CVB commissioned research into the economic impact of the Carolina Panthers’ Training Camp and discovered that more than 34,000 people visited Spartanburg because of the camp—generating nearly $2 million in tourism revenues for Spartanburg.

I think success breeds more acceptance,” says Jennings. “As our visitors’ economy grows, and as our residents say ‘wow, this is an impressive industry,’ I’m a firm believer that funding will come with it.

to be more competitive with rates, what they can do is continue to develop leads. “We’re a facilitator, or a broker, of the business,” Stilwell explains. “It’s up to [the hotels] to make those decisions.” But for those like Jacqui Rose, that’s putting too much power into the hands of hotels. “A piece of business determines whether it comes to Greenville by the rates that hotels quote,” she says.“The shops downtown and the restaurants, they don’t get any vote in that whatsoever.” Essentially, the entire hospitality industry is controlled by the rates that the hotels set. Rose entered the industry by accident, but over the course of two decades she worked her way up the ladder, and now serves as Corporate Director of Sales & Marketing for the Sycamore Group, which manages four hotel properties, including the Hilton Garden Inn off Woodruff Road and the Holiday Inn Express and Suites downtown. With her responsibility comes extra interest in the workings of the hospitality industry and making sure it continues its streak of success. Rose worries about the way tourism is approached, believing it is outdated and leaves too much power in the hands of a few decision makers. “I’ve really come to realize the industry as a whole has to be successful in order for my hotel to be successful,” says Rose. “[Right now], one person can make a decision that a citywide event isn’t in the best interest of a particular property, making that proposal dead on arrival.” Tom Sponseller, President of the South Carolina Hospitality Association agrees, but notes that’s just the way business is done. “The hotel has to control the final price,” he says. But while hotels are given the power to affect incoming business by the rates they set, it leaves out another large part of the industry—the restaurants. According to the U.S.Travel Association, nearly a third of food and beverage business comes from tourism in South Carolina. It explains Table 301 restaurateur Carl Sobocinski’s newest project—heading up a request for elected officials to dedicate three percent of annual hospitality tax collections toward leisure travel marketing, advertising and public relations. While the tax isn’t new—it has been collected since 2005—none of the money has ever been used in this way, even though Sobocinski says tax code allows for funds to be spent on marketing and advertising. If approved by the Greenville City Council, the Greenville CVB would be charged with creating a plan to brand and market Greenville. He’s garnered support; Sobocinski says he’s personally discussed this plan with at least two dozen local restaurant operators and all are in support. “The fact of the matter is that the operators are the ones that have made significant investments into this market and it is our business that is collecting this hospitality tax,”

While Spartanburg’s focus on the attractions has helped renew economic interest in the camp, some Greenville leaders are hoping that a new attraction will do the same in their town. Area leaders point to the new Reedy Square visitor’s center as a forward-thinking project promoting regional tourism. Non-profit Dream Big Greenville

Bill Watch Restaurants are hoping to impact an upcoming vote on Senate Bill 461, legislation that would require establishments that hold alcohol permits to implement a rigid recycling program. The S.C. Chapter of the Sierra Club says in 2009 400,000 tons of recyclable material went into South Carolina’s landfills, but Sponseller says restaurant and bar owners are being unfairly targeted. “For the government to just say only this small segment of the business world needs to do it in our mind is not fair,” he says. North Carolina passed similar legislation—it costs the average bar or restaurant between $800 and $4,000 annually.

is spearheading the $35 million facility, which includes concierge travel services, bike rentals and a café. They’re also behind The Blue Wall Center, an interpretive center planned for Highway 11 in Greenville County to help visitors discover the area’s outdoor highlights. Still, big projects carry big price tags, which makes some wonder if it’s a good focus for limited resources. Virginia Simpson, Chairman of consulting firm Simpson and Partners is against Reedy Square. “I think they’re looking backward rather than forward,” she says. “For whom are you building that visitor’s center? Anyone who happens to show up?” Instead, she says, there needs to be a more clear vision for the future. “I think Greenville is a knock-it-out-of-the-park place,” she says, “but most of what we do is bunting.” Rose agrees, noting evidence of an outdated marketing plan. “The way we’re thinking about promoting the hospitality industry today seems to be the way we thought about it 10 years ago,” she says. “You can’t do that. You have to evolve.”

Bureau’s Facebook page has about 1,750 fans, and just over 400 people “like” Greenville CVB on Facebook. “The focus hasn’t been there,” Stilwell says, adding that social media will receive more attention from the Greenville CVB in 2012. “It’s on the radar and will be a priority.” Spartanburg’s CVB is also putting more focus on Twitter and Facebook, and Jennings notes that Spartanburg had an iPhone app available for about a year until the developer went out of business and the organization had no way to update it. “There are so many opportunities for mobile apps and social media that the tourism industry is just scratching the surface on that,” he says. “I think all of us have to think very much out of the box.” So while there is debate on how to best spend (and generate) money through tourism efforts in the Upstate, Jennings says it’s important for the entire area to work together to promote the Upstate. “I think the challenge is going to be for all of us that we can compete with the beach,” he says of destinations like Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head and Charleston.“I think if we can get some recognition and success behind us we can match some of what they have at the beaches.”

Taking It Online But while many CVBs and other tourism organizations make hard decisions on what money will go where, interestingly enough, one of the cheapest marketing tactics around—social media—has gotten mixed reviews. Some are like Todd, who can’t measure the performance of Discover Upcountry in typical ways, so he relies on monitoring web traffic, brochure requests and Facebook fans. “We don’t have a cash register here in our office that rings,” Todd says. “We have to judge ourselves on several other factors.” In March of 2010, they launched, which receives 8,000 unique visits a month.The revamped website also includes a digital version of their guide book, which Todd thought would reduce the number of requests his office receives for a printed version. He was wrong. “What’s happening is through increased interest more people want the guide,” he says. “We may have to print more rather than less.” Discover Upcountry also funded a marketing campaign to highlight their Facebook page, which now has more than 61,000 fans. Todd says those fans have the ability to help him promote the area. “The big game changer for us has been not only our website, but what we’re doing through social media,” he says. “Any research you see on tourism is that word of mouth is the best advertising. That’s why we’ve put resources into Facebook.” He hopes to reach 100,000 Facebook fans in 2012. By comparison, Spartanburg’s Convention and Visitor

Who’s Marketing Through Discover Upcountry: 61,182 fans Asheville CVB: 26,772 fans Greenville CVB: 409 fans Charleston CVB: 4,194 fans Spartanburg CVB: 1,751 fans

Budgets and Staff at a Glance Greenville CVB: $2 million, 10 employees Discover Upcountry: $350,000, 3 employees Spartanburg CVB: $500,000, 3 employees Asheville CVB: $5.3 million, 18.5 employees

Q1 2012 // Business Black Box




ompanies often turn to third parties—investment bankers, business brokers and other financial advisors—for help raising money or selling a business. As with lawyers, accountants and other professionals, the best of these are a joy to work with, make your life easy and add real value to the process to maximize the chances of a good result. Some, however, just leave their clients a lot poorer and with deals that they later regret. Here are some key considerations to reduce the risk of an unhappy outcome:


1. Pay for performance. If you are paying someone to help you raise money or sell a business, they should be paid only if and when you get paid. Not infrequently you will see agreements where a financial adviser asks for both a success fee (a fee payable only when the deal actually occurs equal to a percentage of the money raised) and a monthly fee. A monthly fee is a red flag and generally means one of two things. If you are unlucky, it means your financial adviser is a con man and is going to run around making calls, having meetings and not really doing anything for you other than collecting your monthly fee until you run out of money to pay or finally realize that you hired the wrong person. If the financial adviser is honest, a monthly fee generally means that the adviser is not confident that they can raise the funds or sell your business and therefore they need a monthly fee to compensate them

INVESTMENT BANKERS & OTHER FINANCIAL ADVISERS for the time spent on your transaction. If you have a good company, there are plenty of good advisers that would be happy to help you solely for a success fee. About the author...

As an attorney with Wyche, Burgess, Freeman & Parham, Andy regularly represents clients in mergers and acquisitions, reorganizations, structuring of joint ventures, securities offerings and other financing transactions. He has extensive experience with growing companies and private placements of securities.Andy also advises and assists public and private company clients in the design and implementation of executive compensation arrangements, equity compensation plans and broad-based employee benefits. Outside of his legal profession, Andy is on the board of the Greenville Little Theatre, a project leader for Habitat for Humanity, and serves as a Business Black Box advisor in law.


2. Advisers are paid to do deals, not to make you happy. For a financial advisor, their financial incentive is to get a deal done. A good deal for you is better for the adviser because it involves more money and a higher success fee. A bad deal for you, however, is much better for the adviser financially than no deal. Despite this financial incentive, the best advisers will actively advise you against doing a bad deal, but many advisers will not.This often is not a problem at the beginning of the process when a company is considering different transaction options. However, it can be a major issue later on, for example, if the deal is supposed to close in a few weeks and significant accounting problems are discovered that undermine the economics of the deal. 3. It’s the company, not the adviser. No matter how good, how experienced and how well connected your financial adviser is, you generally are not going to get a good deal unless you have a good business. There are financial bubbles where investors and buyers run around throwing money at weak companies, but that is not something you can rely on. Fundamentally sound and growing companies are always in demand, even during tough economic times like the recent recession. 4. Unregistered broker-dealers. You should consult with a securities law attorney if you are considering using a financial adviser that is not a broker-dealer properly registered in accordance with securities laws. The Securities and Exchange Commission generally takes the position that someone that is paid a success fee for assisting with a sale of securities must be registered as a broker-dealer. Debt financing deals (such as convertible note offerings) often involve “securities” within the meaning of federal and state securities laws, and the sale of a company is a sale of securities if it involves a stock purchase or a merger. If a company uses an unregistered broker-dealer, the company is potentially liable for aiding and abetting the unregistered broker-dealer’s violation of securities law, which means that the transaction can be undone and the company could face additional penalties and sanctions.

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n medio de los tumultuosos informes de prensa sobre las tasas de desempleo y la inestable economía extranjera, sería fácil para el dueño de pequeños negocios llegar a la conclusión de que la proverbial luz al final del túnel no es más que un espejismo. Sin embargo, en esta reciente ola de noticias negativas es un atisbo de oportunidad que debe despertar el interés de cualquier empresario y/o emprendedor. En lo que pareció ser un día común a mediados de octubre, el Congreso aprobó los acuerdos comerciales con Panamá, Colombia y Corea del Sur. Estos acuerdos comerciales tienen el potencial de impactar sustancialmente nuestra economía de una manera positiva. Aún más que nuestra vida diaria, estos acuerdos pueden tener un fuerte impacto positivo en la economía de Carolina del Sur. Además, con la perspectiva de más negocios de estos países en nuestro estado viene la posibilidad de crear y sostener un recurso muy preciado: puestos de trabajo.


En realidad hay muchas oportunidades para que las empresas, aún las más pequeñas puedan aprovechar la firma de estos pactos. De acuerdo con la Administración de Comercio Internacional (ITA) los Estados Unidos exportó US $ 12 mil millones en bienes a Colombia y otros $ 6 mil millones en bienes a Panamá. Carolina del Sur sólo exportó $ 145 millones a Colombia, mientras que Panamá recibió $ 46 millones en bienes el año pasado. En comparación con el monto total de las exportaciones del

LA IMPORTANCIA DE LOS TRATATOS DE LIBRE COMERCIO Estado del Palmetto (20.3 mil millones de dólares en 2010) estas cifras son relativamente pequeñas. Con los acuerdos comerciales que se han firmado recientemente, sin embargo, es probable que cambien los números de manera sustancial. En el caso de Colombia, el pacto comercial reduce en un 80% los aranceles aplicados a los productos objeto de comercio entre los dos países. El acuerdo de Panamá ha incluido medidas similares. La reducción de estas tarifas al menos debería alentar a las empresas a considerar más seriamente la posibilidad de comerciar con estas dos naciones. Otro aspecto a considerar es el tipo de exportaciones de alta demanda que tienen Colombia y Panamá. En esta área es donde los negocios en Carolina del Sur pueden beneficiarse. Las importaciones más importantes de los Estados Unidos incluyen productos químicos, plásticos, maíz, accesorios de computadora y equipos de telecomunicaciones. Equipo de transporte, incluyendo motores para usos civiles y militares es uno de los de más rápido crecimiento de las importaciones hacia Colombia. Panamá por su parte importa mayormente computadoras, cosméticos, equipos farmacéuticos, y aviones de los Estados Unidos. Estas categorías de exportación deben sonar familiares para nosotros. Los datos de la ITA establecen que las principales exportaciones de Carolina del Sur están en el equipo de transporte, plásticos, productos químicos, maquinaria y manufactura. Pero ¿cuál es la conexión con los puestos de trabajo? De los 3,793 empresas que han participado en actividades de exportación el año pasado el 84% eran pequeñas y medianas empresas de menos de 500 empleados. En tercer lugar, la inversión extranjera juega un papel crucial en nuestra economía local. En 2008, las empresas extranjeras emplearon a casi 110,000 empleados en Carolina del Sur. Estas cifras no toman en cuenta el importante número de trabajos indirectos que generan las compañías que sirven estas empresas extranjeras. Las pequeñas empresas prosperan cuando exploran nuevas oportunidades. Cada nuevo cliente, venta, expansión o fusión representa una nueva oportunidad que puede abrir la puerta al “siguiente paso” que los dueños de negocios buscan constantemente.

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About the author...

Evelyn Lugo is the founder and President of the South Carolina Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (SCHCC). With a background in business administration, Ms. Lugo obtained additional experience in working with corporations such as Eastman Kodak, Abbot Pharmaceutical and 3M. Her motivation is to help entrepreneurs, identify business growth opportunities, and help others to overcome challenges during their business development. The South Carolina Hispanic Chamber of Commerce was incorporated in August 2007 and designated a 501(c)6 non-profi organization in June 2009 by the IRS.

Q1 2012 // Business Black Box


This year—the 119th Session—will open on Tuesday, January 10. In only a few short months, they will look at some of the most pressing—and many not-so-pressing— matters facing our state right now. As a pre-cursor to this session, here are what some local experts deem this session’s “Hot Topics”; things we hope, as a fundamental part of South Carolina’s business economy, that you will take a part in. Of course, as we all know, anything could happen, but you can expect to hear more about these topics in the coming months.

Of course, we jest, but only a little. Election years are historically bad for great progress—at least on matters that include any amount of controversy. With the entire General Assembly—both House and Senate—up for election this year, don’t expect much action on big issues to happen…until, of course, after March 31, the filing date for anyone who will run in the election to step forward.

Chip Felkel, CEO of the Felkel Group, agrees. “Substantial things can get done in an election year, but controversial things don’t usually get done in an election year.” Still, some inside the Statehouse walls are more hopeful. “I am actually optimistic that a lot more will get done this year since its an election year,” House Representative (District 20) Dan Hamilton says. “In particular, I hope the Senate feels some heat to move legislation that has already been passed by the House. “As I talk to people throughout the Upstate, I hear frustration with all levels of government and the seeming inability to get things done,” he adds. “Education funding reform, charter school funding reform, agency restructuring, regulatory reform, and taxpayer fairness reform (just to name a few) all remain stuck in the Senate.” There’s a lot to be done. So, here’s to hoping we’re wrong about this. Really, really wrong.

In 2007, Act 388 gave S.C. homeowners property tax breaks—something welcomed by anyone writing out that check every year—expecting to make up the reduced revenue with a higher state sales tax. But the sales tax didn’t really come through, and in each year since 2007, the state has increased its deficits—to an $80 million shortfall in 2010, according to the Office of the State Budget. According to Felkel, the possible repeal or reform of Act 388 is closely tied to Comprehensive Tax Reform. “We’ve got the seventh highest business property taxes in the country, we’ve got the sixth highest sales tax, and top income tax rates in the country,” he says. “The argument is that if you did away with some of these exemptions, you wouldn’t have to have such a high business property tax.” Others note that it may not be probable. “Some of the issues in Act 388 should be addressed in tax reform, but a wholesale repeal just won’t happen,” says Hamilton.“That would mean an increase in owner-occupied property tax bills. I’d personally like to see us address the six percent property tax payers (non-owner occupied properties such as rental properties or second homes). They are the taxpayers that have borne the brunt of the increase over the last few years.”

Q1 2012 // Business Black Box


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“Not a whole lot happens in an election year where both House and Senate are up for election,” says Mark Cothran, lobbyist for the Upstate Chamber Coalition.

With such high deficits in the state budget, expect to see some movement on this issue this year. Especially since a S.C. House Republican committee has been formed, chaired by Rep. Tommy Stringer, to focus on the topic and introduce specific legislation in January. And while the state makes money in three forms of taxes — income, property, and sales, there are many exemptions that create not only a complicated tax code, but also a loss of revenue. For example, in South Carolina, sales tax on a vehicle caps at $300. So, buy a Dodge truck, and you’re in pretty good standing, as a consumer. But when you look at the logic of the exemption itself—you’ll pay that same $300 on a million-dollar LEAR jet.—at a certain price point, money begins to fly out the window—in this scenario, to the tune of $59,700. “There needs to be some logic,” Felkel says. “If you got rid of a lot of these exemptions, you’d have money to do stuff like roads, and schools. But the conservative viewpoint is ‘I’m not gonna get rid of my exemptions until you show me there’s gonna be some prudence in how that money is spent.’ And that’s where they’ve got to meet in the middle.”

The best question to start with, Felkel adds, is:What exactly IS comprehensive tax reform? “A lot of people think that comprehensive tax reform is a great thing, as long it doesn’t take their exemptions,” he says. “A lot of these exemptions help a special interest, but how that trickles down to the lack of revenue that comes into the state, and how that affects the smaller business people who don’t have the power to get those exemptions—should it be considered an issue? “[Tax Reform] needs to be business friendly—to both big business and small business.” But with everyone from the S.C. Manufacturers Alliance to Automotive lobbyists and everyone in between throwing in their two cents (if only!) an already controversial subject could be even more controversial right out of the gate. “There’s definitely a desire to start talking about it,” says Cothran. “But as it’s an election year, there’s little chance of that happening. I think 2013 might be the best chance to take that on.”

Two state agencies will likely face scrutiny this year in efforts to streamline efforts and money and nix some of the scandal that has been recurring lately. First, expect the S.C. Department of Transportation to be high on the list this year—after a tumultuous year of scandal that includes everything from allegedly fudging budget numbers (to look like they weren’t in severe deficit, even as Governor Haley requested $52 million as a federal loan to keep the agency afloat) to stiffing contractors on payment and almost forcing a handful of South Carolina businesses to close because of it.

“SCDOT reform will be high on the agenda this year,” says Hamilton. “There is increasing pressure to increase revenue to the agency but any additional revenue will most likely be tied to structural reform and more accountability.”

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In addition, the Department of Administration bill (H.3066), which is currently on the Senate calendar after being passed last year by the House, will likely be addressed early in the session. The bill is touted to improve efficiency through a number of measures: establishing a cabinet-level Executive Budget office; develop a more strategic sourcing initiative to leverage the state’s buying power; and to optimize use of state-owned space, cancelling leases and streamlining the property owned by the state. Cothran notes that the restructuring (and the Department of Administration) was high on the list last year, and should continue to be this year. “Four bills that passed the House [in 2011] dealt with the component of restructuring,” he says. “The Department of Administration could take up the first month of the session in the Senate.” There seems to be agreement that this may be one of the first issues to come through the Senate. “When you get into streamlining and combining agencies, you could see some movement on that, as a costsaving move,” Felkel adds.

Q1 2012 // Business Black Box


In early December, the National Labor and Relations Board dropped charges against Boeing—the charges that earlier in the year had ignited a veritable firestorm on the “Union v. Right to Work” front. But even as the NLRB dropped their charges, the House Oversight Committee informed them that the investigation into the NLRB will continue. Now granted, at this point, this is a federal issue, not one for the state, but we can assume that the leaders of the state of South Carolina aren’t likely to back off so easily. After all, 69 percent of respondents to the Upstate Chamber Coalition’s 2012 Legislative survey deemed continued efforts to ensure S.C. remains a right-to-work state were “extremely important.” So while the NLRB seems to have resolved itself as much as can be at the moment, you can expect that the “Right to Work” fight will be one that—whether due to media coverage of the NLRB investigation, or simply a bunch of ticked-off South Carolinians—will continue.

In 2011, South Carolina received the money and support to begin a study on deepening the Charleston Port—a huge step to increasing our potential as a hub of transport. But although it seems like a done deal (for at least a few years, until we see federal funding come through) South Carolina is in what has become a race with Savannah to see who can deepen their port the fastest, to gain a foothold on port traffic in the Southeast. Both are considered, already, to be two of the busiest ports in America, so the stakes are high. Add to that the controversy the alleged support that Gov. Haley gave the port of Savannah—tied, of course, to her possible campaigning in Georgia—and the subject is one that, while not legislatively heavy, will still be dark on the radar this year. In fact, 51 percent of survey responses to the Upstate Chamber Coalition regarding 2012 Legislative Agenda considered support of the Charleston Port and Harbor deepening projects “extremely important”, and 34 percent support dual rail access to and from S.C. ports, which will also stay close to the surface this year. In summary, Cothran notes, “We got the money to get the deepening study started, and it will be three or four years until the Port has to ask the State for money. But along with issues on whether or not the Governor is protecting the interests of South Carolina over those of Savannah, it comes down to who can do it faster.”

First, take a look at some of the potential players this session, especially in the House of Representatives: Rep. Dan Hamilton; Rep. Brian White (the new House & Means Chairman-District 6); Rep. Phil Owens (Chairman of Education–District 5); Rep. Bill Sandifer (Chairman, House Labor, Commerce and Industry Committee–District 2); Bruce Bannister (District 24). Add to that the further development of an Upstate Caucus—though informal—which will serve as a platform for Upstate representatives to communicate and collaborate. For Hamilton, Chairman of the Upstate Caucus, the benefits are great.

In 2011, the members of the House introduced H.3779, the “Bill Wylie Entrepreneurship Act of 2011.” Designed to encourage investments in South Carolina start-ups from angel investors, the bill provided “legislation that [would] help attract private capital for promising start-ups while putting S.C. on an even, competitive footing with 25 other states, including N.C. and Georgia.” The bill passed the House in 2011, and we expect to see the Senate pick it up this session.

“I think the formation of the Upstate Caucus was just a recognition of the necessity for us to work on issues we have in common here in the Upstate,” he says. “We are the manufacturing hub of the state and our businesses are among the largest users of the port. We have a strong block of votes if we stick together on the important issues. We became accustomed to having a Speaker of the House, Governor or long time Senator looking out for us—now we have to use our numbers to our advantage.” For Hamilton, the Upstate Caucus has just begun to realize its power in the state legislature. “We are still at the beginning stages of seeing the effectiveness of the Caucus. The Upstate business leaders I talk to are extremely supportive of the idea and are willing to assist us. Its up to us to continue to take it to the next level,” he says. “I see us being involved in the debate next year on comprehensive tax reform, making sure we’re looking out for our manufacturers and small businesses in the Upstate.”

“I’m also very interested in seeing how we can tie together what Michelin is doing with their small business development, funding or mentoring, the SC Dept. of Commerce and the Small Business Development Council (SBDC’s). They each have strengths and working together I think there is a lot of potential to help foster and grow small business in our state which account for a majority of net new jobs,” he adds.

“I remain hopeful it will pass by the end of the session,” Hamilton says of the bill (of which he played a part in helping garner support). Q1 2012 // Business Black Box


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It’s always been a challenge for the Upstate to hold key positions—especially in the S.C. statehouse. But even after losing Dan Cooper last year (former House Ways & Means chair, from Easley), it looks like the Upstate may be gaining strength once again.



eady or not, here they come! Raised with internet, cell phone, MP3, texting and social media, the group known as Gen Z (arguably 1991 to 2011) is growing up! The group brings an unusual mix of skills. They can read “text,” but struggle with facial expressions. Unless information moves quickly and uses multimedia, it is tough to get them to pay attention; yet in 10 days, thousands of online video gamers mapped out a key protein structure for HIV research, something scientists had been attempting for over 10 years. Gen Z’ers build internet “friend” networks to share every thought but have trouble holding a ten-minute conversation in person.


What to expect? Gen Z’ers (like Gen Y’ers) value impacting results and like rewards and recognition. They’ve been overprotected, over-socialized and over-stimulated, so create


About the author...

Professional Coach, Workplace Educator, HR Consultant and Author, Leslie Hayes has used her Psychology degree from Harvard University to spark a diverse career. Beginning as an abuse investigator and counselor, Leslie transitioned into Corporate HR, building HR teams from the ground up. The Hayes Approach, formed in 2007, provides a platform to assist clients large and small in all areas of workplace effectiveness and productivity.


opportunities for frequent task changes, chances to show expertise and gently stretch skills, and constructive social networking options. Expect to direct work in bite-sized pieces and to specify results. Expect to repeat directions. Expect parallel careers and multiple, simultaneous jobs. Expect to teach soft skills and be astounded by technology skills. Expect to create new career growth avenues. Expect to be challenged—and expect to be better for it!

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Ben Riddle is many things to the Upstate Community. He’s a movement generator. A community activist. An advocate for better foods, stronger communities, and business innovation. And, a high school student. Photo by Wayne Culpepper/FishEye Studios

In high school, Riddle found his voice when he blogged about the lack of healthy food options in the public school system. Word spread, and soon he was called into a meeting with Greenville County School District officials to discuss possible options for change. Soon after, A.J.Whittenberg started a test program with healthier food options. Riddle realized, then, the power of his voice, just by being willing to speak out. “All that was just through voicing my interests, and this was real change that was really happening,” he says.

began to integrate himself into the community more and more. It was on Twitter that he first saw Aaron Von Frank, who was instrumental in Google on Main and TEDx Greenville. “I thought, ‘He’s right there…all I have to do is say something,” Riddle remembers of the first contact he made with Von Frank, online. “We began to talk, and I shared some of my ideas for community, ideas for Project Hope, and asked for his input.” Riddle soon became involved with TEDx, volunteering at the March event, but it was his interest in Urban Planning that prompted his next step. In school, Riddle pitched Greenville Forward’s Vision 2025 as part of a class project. From there, Greenville Forward found out, and brought him on as an intern in Summer 2011, to help develop the Headstrong program, geared toward high school students.

“Headstrong really just asks high school students, ‘How will you make your mark in the community? How will you This realization created boldness, find your spark? How will you and as Riddle became more translate those passions into involved in social media, he action,’” he says.“And then, to say,

“Do it now, and don’t wait ‘til you go off to college and wait until you have a degree to do something.” Riddle acknowledges one of the Upstate’s major challenges—the exodus of college-age students who likely don’t return—is an opportunity for Headstrong. “You can’t have a movement that truly defines the face of a generation —every make and model—and say ‘we’re gonna go out there and have fun with education,’” he says. “But, if a student has a physical tie to a community—they can say ‘I actually did something, I had friends who supported me, I had good ideas,’ they’ll be more inclined to come back. So it does play into that part of what Greenville Forward is all about.” His influence has already been proven—at an initial casting call that “kicked off ” the Headstrong program, 105 high school students

came out, many of them staying around long after the casting call had ended. To those teens, he had a simple message: “However you express who you are, if we can develop that and encourage that, and inspire and instill that, and push it forward and say ‘GO, this network supports you in whatever you are doing,’ then I can’t wait to see where those kids will be in the future because of that,” he says. So although Furman or Stanford will call him away next year, Riddle is encouraged by the time he has to influence the community while he’s here. “I get really frustrated sometimes when I can’t just do, and I know I’m just laying the groundwork for what is coming,” he says. “I’m graduating in May. This is not what Ben Riddle is doing forever. But just knowing that I’m laying the groundwork for something that will come to fruition over time, that will develop and continue over time, it will become something that I can confidently say will bring great thoughts to Greenville, and harbor and really take these thoughts from the clouds into action….that’s really gratifying.”

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The Senior at Mauldin High is making waves—not only for what he’s done, but for what he will do next. He’s become a staple in conversation where Millennial-retention is concerned, and you’re likely to find him around events like Carolina Dancing with the Stars (where he was on stage), TEDx (where he volunteered) and Headstrong casting calls (which he organized).


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n the brisk early morning of Wednesday, January 17, 1781, Brigadier General Daniel Morgan eagerly awaited the coming British. Morgan and his troops had taken position in a cattle-grazing area between the Pacolet and Broad rivers in northwestern South Carolina called Cowpens. His force had been ordered to the area to protect civilians and harass the redcoats at every available opportunity. The British, aware of Morgan’s presence, were marching north from the town of Ninety Six under the command of Lt. Col. Banastre Tarleton. By all standards,Tarleton was young to be in command of the British Legion, but he was by no means untested. Fresh from the successful siege of Charleston and victory at the Battle of Camden, Tarleton marched toward Cowpens with an air of conceit typical of the young and undefeated. Morgan knew Tarleton’s reputation; news had traveled of victories and captures, sieges and surrenders. Morgan also knew the British Legion comprised some of the most welltrained troops in the Carolinas. But most importantly, Morgan knew his surroundings, his men and his opponent, and used this knowledge to his advantage. He defied convention and placed his troops where they were unable to turn and run at the first signs of battle, as untrained militiamen were known to do. Figuring Tarleton anticipated victory and would attack from the front, Morgan set up multiple lines of soldiers with advancing degrees of skill. Morgan’s strategy and preparation worked perfectly. As expected, the British attacked head on, expending their energy and suffering casualties only to encounter another, stronger line of American soldiers. In about an hour, Morgan’s men had defeated the British force. His knowledge of his troops’ strengths and his opponent’s weaknesses secured victory and the battle of Cowpens became known as one of the turning points of the American Revolution.


Q1 2012 // Business Black Box

Today, inside an unassuming brick building just a few miles southwest of the Cowpens battlefield and a musket’s shot away from a towering statue of General Morgan himself, the flags of several foreign countries wave in the breeze as leaders of a different ilk continue to talk strategy and preparedness. But this time the aim is not to expel foreign forces; it’s to attract them—enticing them to invest capital and resources to start new businesses and grow existing ones.The ultimate goal: to draw and welcome companies from all over the world to an area that is the crossroads of two major interstates and two major southeastern railroad lines—a placed steeped in revolutionary history and famous for it’s sweet tea. A town nicknamed Hub City, for its history and its newly-designed future, but formally known as Spartanburg. While it doesn’t get the attention of Greenville, with its Reedy Park and hopping downtown, or its close neighbor Asheville with a bohemian attitude, Spartanburg is quietly doing what other cities—not only in the South but all over the country—are currently failing to do: grow in a stagnant economy. “This community isn’t an ego community,” says David Cordeau, president of the Spartanburg Chamber of Commerce, “we are real here; these are good authentic people.” As a long time textile and manufacturing town, Spartanburg suffered in late ‘80s as manufacturing growth slowed and jobs were outsourced. Left was an area with a strong, well-trained workforce and quality product (in terms of buildings and infrastructure) but one without enough jobs. Then the Germans came. “It really started with BMW,” says Carter Smith. “That really put us on the global stage.” Smith, with a southern accent as thick as sausage gravy, is a 20-year chamber veteran, and head of the Chamber’s Economic Futures Group. “Once BMW announced their plans, their global suppliers came to town and that opened the door for other companies.” And come they did. BMW’s move to the Upstate in 1993 marked a surge of international and domestic companies

alike, that has continued through the years.Today, Spartanburg county is home to over 80 international firms representing 18 countries. “Prior to ‘91 we had somewhere around 30 international companies here,” says Smith, “and by the end of the ‘90s we had a little over 100.” While that number dropped during the recession, it is steadily climbing back up, and hints of Spartanburg’s diversity can be seen all over.A trip to the grocery store or dry cleaners can easily become an advertisement for Rosetta Stone language lessons as one encounters German, French, Italian, Greek, all spoken comfortably and heard without the slightest raising of eyebrows. But the business hasn’t all been international—many domestic companies call Spartanburg home, as well. “For a community this size to have the corporate headquarters that we have is absolutely amazing,” says Cordeau. “We have Milliken, Dennys, BMW Manufacturing, Cryovac, Advance America, AFL Communications and the North American headquarters of Draexlmaier. Plus Adidas has its largest distribution center in the world right here, 2.1 million square feet.” Even homegrown corporate giants like JM Smith Co. (parent to companies like Q/S1, Smith Drug, and Integral Solutions) have stayed local, and made Spartanburg their home. But look at the strengths of the area, and it’s not surprising why so many choose the Upstate.

“One, we are really good at manufacturing,” says Cordeau, “and two, we are really good at working with foreign companies.” Obviously, the Chamber’s strategies to attract business and investments are working. “For the last eleven quarters,” says Smith, “we’ve averaged $3.5 million a week in commitments from companies to invest or grow in Spartanburg county.” The news about Hub City continues to spread, and this past May, Site Selection magazine, the official publication of the Industrial Asset Management Council, named the Spartanburg county’s Economic Futures Group one of the top 10 economic development groups in the country. However even with it’s continued growth, Spartanburg, like much of the country, is not immune to the slowdown of the global economy— especially in the realm of small business. “It’s been a tough three or four years for small businesses,” Cordeau concedes. New construction and ribbon cuttings intertwine with vacant lots and shuttered storefronts. Signs claiming “everything must go” outnumber those reading “help wanted.”

“We’re just not seeing the speculative investing we enjoyed a few years ago,” says Ben Hines of SpencerHines commercial real estate. “We’ve got entrepreneurs and deals right now—the challenge is getting banks to fund them.” While in the past banks were willing to finance 90 to 100 percent of a project, that number has now rolled back to 60 to 80 percent. “Every bank wants to do an owner-occupied building right now,” says Hines, “there’s a real hesitancy in commercial lending.” Once the banks loosen their purse strings Hines is “cautiously optimistic” that things will change. But unlike many communities that are slashing services and attempting to cut their way to prosperity, Spartanburg continues to invest in its future. “We are constantly working on how we reach out so the companies who come here find not only a welcoming community but also a prepared community,” says Cordeau. As the manufacturers have changes, so have the skill sets required. Still, Spartanburg is committed to creating an educated and prepared workforce, and a new non-profit program called College Hub promotes the importance of higher education to the community.The fact that less than

20 percent of adults in Spartanburg county hold a bachelors degree was found to be holding back the economic growth of the area. The number falls well below the U.S. average of 27 percent and the state average of 23 percent. Initially funded through a “lead gift” from the Spartanburg County Foundation, College Hub seeks to increase the percentage of county residents with a baccalaureate degree from 19 percent to 40 percent by 2030. “There was a lot of change happening in our community with the textile mills closing down,” says Dr. Carrie Dupree of College Hub. “We are becoming a knowledge based society, and we need to show employers we have an educated, skilled and committed workforce.” “We want to make sure Spartanburg is not only a place where businesses want to set up shop but where people want to come and raise their families and get the skills they need to get the jobs they want,” she adds. Dr. Dupree spends her time visiting middle schools and high schools discussing the importance of higher education. She also works with adults who are interested in returning to school, helping them determine their goals and create a plan of action. “The bottom line is to make our community one that not only embraces education but demands it.” Still, when most people think of Spartanburg they think of a sleepy mill town that shuts down just after dusk, when in fact, the community is home to seven colleges, Wofford,

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Converse, USC-Upstate, Spartanburg Community College, Spartanburg Methodist College, Sherman College of Chiropractic and the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine. Not surprisingly, economies grow through entrepreneurship and students graduating from these colleges have ample resources available to follow their dreams in Spartanburg County. But unseen to most is the more direct effect that some schools in Spartanburg have on the workforce already in place. For example, Spartanburg Community College, which plans on opening a new downtown campus in the historic Evans building in the fall of 2013, offers many resources to assist new and existing businesses looking to grow. “We actually offer four services,” says Mike Forrester, head of economic development for SCC, who oversees the 363,000 square foot facility. The center, located along the I-85 corridor in a foreign trade zone (which allows companies to offset customs advantages available to overseas manufacturers through duty free and duty deferred treatment), includes a soft landing service that provides companies with space, as well as assistance in finding legal and administrative services. As a second option, a traditional small business incubator provides support until a business is ready to leave the nest.

Also found at SCC is a sector called “workforce services” for relocating companies whose space is not quite ready or just need assistance in the hiring and pre-employment training process. “Our first customer for workforce services was Echo Star,” says Forrester.“When they came in 2006 their facility wasn’t quite ready, so we trained 400 people on their jobs prior to them going into their facility.” As a result, EchoStar saw no downtime and training costs. Adidas and Wal-Mart also utilized the “workforce services” resource prior to opening their facilities in the county. The fourth sector is called “special services”, says Forrester, and allows companies to beta test products and utilize space at no cost to the company. The facility’s top success story is the British company Jankel Tactical Systems, maker of a blast attenuation seat for militarized Humvees. “They started in our facility just trying to grow the company,” says Forrester, “they were with us nine months before moving into their own facility and this year they have over $130 million in contracts.” Keeping in mind that SCC is only one of the schools represented, it’s important to also note that manufacturing and job training are only one part of the whole where Spartanburg’s future is concerned. The medical field is important, to provide employees for Spartanburg Regional, Mary Black and other local medical campuses, as well. “We now have a full-fledged medical school,” notes Cordeau. “The first class of 162 students representing 36 states just entered their first year.” With all the students comes a revitalization of the downtown scenes, including arts and music venues. “We’re seeing a lot of young new faces downtown,” says Celia Cooksey Executive Director of Hub-Bub, a nonprofit arts organization with a downtown showroom and performance hall. Partially funded by a forward-thinking Spartanburg City Council, Hub-Bub offers more than 100 nights of entertainment a year including concerts, poetry readings, theatre and film and is located on the infamous Daniel Morgan Avenue. Back in the Offices of the Chamber of Commerce, Smith and Cordeau dodge painters and electricians as remodeling takes place, marking more change, more growth. Cordeau refers the flags flying outside the building. “We try to keep a flag for every country represented here,” he says, “we recently had to buy a Greek flag and a Malaysian Flag.” But when asked to predict what they see in the future for Spartanburg county, Smith leans back in his chair and announces, casually, “We’re going to be buying more flags.”


I N S I D E B L A C K B O X . C O M


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ave you ever noticed that two people who don’t speak the same language have a tendency to raise their speaking volume when trying to communicate? This is a mystery to me— it’s as if they believe that by speaking more loudly, grasping a foreign language can be achieved.

As sales people we do this all the time.When we don’t speak someone’s language, we may not increase the volume, but we tend to act more gregarious, friendly, charming and charismatic. Increasing this type of behavior, like increasing volume of speech, does not create more understanding for the listener.


People come in four basic types when it comes to communication styles and speech patterns. Even though we both may be speaking English, there can often be a breakdown of communication between us. Allow me to elaborate: If I communicate to you that I “see your point,” I am speaking in visual terms. However, if your sales prospect says to you that they “hear what you’re saying,” then they are replying in auditory terminology. This may seem like subtle nuance, and it is. However, it can often determine whether or not you or your sales prospect will have to SHOUT.

QUIT SHOUTING AT YOUR PROSPECTS The four basic types of communication are these: VISUAL— I see your point. AUDITORY—I hear what you’re saying. KINESTHETIC—That feels right to me. DIGITAL—This is STEP ONE in the process.

About the author...

Political candidates spend an inordinate amount of money field-testing every word through focus groups and consultants to makes sure that their message is tailored to specific constituencies. As a sales professional, you don’t need to do any of that. Simply ask your spouse which of these four styles of communication you use the most. It may shock you to learn that it may be a different style in the work place, as opposed to at home.Your challenge is to differentiate between the two and know which style you use at work and, more specifically, on sales calls. Now, on each and every sales call, stop promoting yourself, your company and/or your services, and simply listen to the style of communication your sales prospect uses, and then match it. This builds rapport, trust and comfort with prospects and increases your conversion ratio of them into customers.

Todd has successfully built three different businesses and at age 31 sold his first business to a publicly-traded company. His community involvement includes several board positions and leadership roles in civic, business, and philanthropic organizations most specifically, the Greenville Chamber of Commerce and Clemson University.

Whether you are using this skill for conflict resolution or closing a sales presentation, the mere act of being more aware of how people communicate by listening to their particular word-usage and language will hone your skills at an alarming rate and enable you to communicate—and hopefully sell—much better. We’ll expound on each of these communication styles in coming issues. Until then take time to listen, and quit shouting at your clients—whether it be over-enthusiastic selling or increased volume.They’ll appreciate it (and so will your wallet).

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MERL CODE Attorney

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[1]What was your first job?

Delivering the Grit newspaper and cutting grass in my neighborhood.


are some of the skills you developed early, that you’ve found to be beneficial or essential to your practices now?


[7]What do you struggle with?



was your biggest failure as a professional and how did you recover?

I failed as a mentor to a young attorney, and unfortunately, I had to separate him from my firm.

Importance of pride in your work, no matter how menial.

[3]How do you strike a balance between your personal and professional lives?

I enjoy what I do and the people I do it with. My nuclear family is always involved.

[9]You’ve become quite an

advocate for heart health, due to your own experiences with a heart attack. What do you feel is the most important thing to walk away with, in regards to this subject?

Exercise, diet, and regular medical check-ups.

[4]What are some strategies you

[5]What vision do you promote for

your employees, and how do you get your employees to buy into or tap into that vision?

The vision is to be the First Choice for our customers for more reasons than the quality of product or service performed. We try to accomplish this by empowering our workforce to accept responsibility for our company’s success or lack thereof. We engage them as decision makers with responsibility for the decisions made.

[6]What’s your most difficult

[10]You played professional football

in Canada? Why didn’t you stay in the game?

A series of physical injuries accelerated the end of an eightyear career.

[11]You have a distinctive

background in the community (Phyllis Wheatley, United Way, Palmetto Institute) What do you feel is your most important cause, and why?

My primary focus has been on education and the development of young people.

responsibility, and how do you deal with it?

Leading my workforce, and I try to constantly remind myself that there is a different between managing people and leading people.

Q1 2012 // Business Black Box


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use to do so/keep yourself in check?

My true friends will bust my chops at every opportunity to keep me grounded.



n these economically distressed times, there are very few companies that are not facing uncertainty in how they will move their business forward. One thing is clear, we are all emotionally tattered trying to increase the top line and optimize the bottom line.


A quality axiom states that if you increase the level of quality you “Hold the Gain”. This is also true for the sales professionals that are on the front line for your global accounts.They need to get the sale and “Hold the Gain”. In order to do so, they need to understand what the European, Asian and or Latin based customers really want. Don’t let your sales team “hide behind the culture”; in the end it’s all the same. 1.You Don’t Listen: The number one reason and the number one point that is taught in every sales program. Lack of attention to what the customer wants means a failure to address the key issues and/ or needs. Time is not on your side, listen to what the customer wants, repeat it in your words, and provide a solution or action plan on what will be done. In the end, if the customer’s answer is “no”, then there is nothing to gain by pressuring them. Find another value premise that will allow you to get their attention, i.e. ask the same in a different way.


Ravi Sastry leads the marketing and sales planning for Immedion’s state-wide business strategy. Sastry has over 25 years of successful sales and marketing experience. Most recently he was the General Manger of the Americas with AVX Corp out of Fountain Inn, SC. Before that, he was the president of CenturaTek LLC, an independent consulting firm specializing in American and Asian business commerce. He has lived and worked in 14 countries on three continents and is a graduate of Lander University.


2. You Talk Too Much: This goes hand-in-hand with point one. Ask open-ended questions and let the customer do the work. The key is to provide a solution to the issues, not to give information on how much you know, whom you know, and experience you have…no one cares. 3. You Lack The Knowledge: In today’s real time, data rich, hyperactive environment, information is only a few clicks away.You must know about your company, products, competitors, and applications. You need to know about your customers, their competitors, their markets, and their applications.You might know the economy, political impact and the national/global issues. Come to the meeting with more information than your customer and give them “free” information throughout the discussion where it is appropriate. 4.You Don’t Follow-up: No news is worse than any news, good or bad.The customer should never have to call you to ask for a follow-up. If they do, then you have failed on your commitment.The lack of response is 10 times as critical prior to any sale being made than with an existing customer. Why? If you don’t respond before a sale, then the customer will have serious questions about what the level of service will be after the orders are booked. 5. You Lied To Me: The reputation and trust of a sales person is completely destroyed if the customer finds out through their own channels that you lied to them. Depending on the severity of the situation, the only option is to apologize to the customer, tell them someone else will handle the account, and hope your boss does not fire you. In addition, if you do not get fired then seek management help on how you can prevent this from ever happing again. Walk the walk or don’t talk.

Q1 2012 // Business Black Box

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Ed Lominack, MD Greenville Hospital System

David Lominack TD Bank

Velda elda Hughes

Dan Joyner, Sr. Prudential, C Dan Joyner Co.

Debbie Harris Michelin

Hughes Agency

Upstate Heart Walk • Greer • April 14 To register for the Heart Walk call 864.627.4158

Special Thank You to our top level sponsors:

Bon Secours St. Francis Health System Greenville Hospital System Michelin Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System Sunbrella St. Jude Medical Womble Carlyle Sandrige & Rice, PLLC

Please call 864.627.4158 to sign your company up for the 2012 Heart Walk

Upstate Sponsored nationally by:

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M I NU T E S .



101 DAYS

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The Purpose

A stunning 56 percent of people in the Southeast U.S. are obese or overweight—a statistic that does not go unnoticed by many CEOs and business leaders. Medical costs and insurance premiums continue to rise, and companies with strong benefits packages struggle under the weight of the financial requirements. Still, the challenge is this: healthy employees make better employees. And when you’re looking at insurance, they also make cheaper employees. But even when a company has made a commitment to help its employees get healthier, there’s still the challenge of putting programs in place that support a healthier lifestyle. And that’s just what David Sewell, Vice President at Human Technologies, Inc. (HTI), attempts to do, after becoming a board member with the American Heart Association, and attending the AHA’s Wellness Symposium at the Bon Secours St. Francis Millennium campus earlier in the year.


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The Plan

To create and implement a comprehensive wellness plan for more than 80 employees with HTI. The plan should be generic enough to serve all employees well, but also challenging enough that those with their own diet or exercise plans already in place can participate, as well. The vision, per Sewell, is to increase awareness and have a measurable impact on the health of HTI’s employees. The team understands the importance of involving our employees in wellness-focused community activities, such as the HeartWalk, as well as the benefits of a corporate focus— teambuilding, challenges, incentives that employees could receive from participation in charitable fund-raising events. As a first step, Lori Braswell, Manager of Human Resources Services, sends out invites to HTI salaried employees to join the Wellness Team, the team tasked with designing and implementing a wellness program over the next year. Twelve respond, and as a result, the first HTI-Wellness team is put into place, with the focus of employee health and wellness, in all aspects.

The People

Sewell, who has become more involved with the American Heart Association over the past year, hosting teams in the HeartWalk and even going with representatives to meet with other Upstate companies, has partnered with the local affiliate of the American Heart Association, Luci Givens, who knows Sewell through his service on the board of directors of AHA. The partnership with the AHA allows a comprehensive look at wellness, a source of encouragement and advice, as well as statistical information to back up the program. Additionally, Braswell continually keeps an eye on progress and developments within the team, and serves as the lead coordinator for the program as a whole, while the 12 team members are divided into departments like Fitness, Communication and Nutrition.

Photo by Wayne Culpepper/FishEye Studios

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Vice President, Human Technologies, Inc.

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Day 3

Sewell and Braswell meet to plan the first meeting with the Wellness Team, and create an agenda and goals: to establish a name for the program, organize the team into groups based on team member interests, and to establish a meeting schedule and developing timeline for implementation. “We asked who’d be interested in being involved, but we didn’t know who would be up for it,” Sewell says. “We had more involvement than I initially thought we would—it’s good to have a staff with opinions.”


Day 4

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Sewell goes with American Heart Associations’ Luci Givens to meet with Jennifer Lackey and Randy Cooper at Leigh Fibers (a HTI Client) in Spartanburg, to share the mission of the AHA and how the organization works with companies. Sewell spends quite some time in meetings with Givens, convincing other companies of the need to be involved in employee health at both macro and micro levels. “I’m a part of the executive leadership team of the American Heart Association, and I’ve had parents and grandparents affected by heart disease and stroke,” Sewell says. “[Visiting other companies] is something [the AHA] encourages, and with the base of customers we already have, it is a natural fit for us.”

Seneca, Sewell comes back for the first meeting of the HTI Wellness Team. Organized into four groups—Wellness and Nutrition, Fitness, Events and Marketing/Communications—the team identifies team captains and establishes responsibilities for each group. Because interests vary—some team members really interested in group fitness activities, others interested in weight-loss challenges, others more wellness-focused (avoiding/lessening stress, spending more quality time with friends and family, learning about living healthier lifestyles), Sewell and the team are careful to make sure they create a plan that everyone can fit into. “The thing about our organization is that we have a combination of different types of employees—some are big marathon runners or do Mud Runs, and others are just starting a walking program,” Sewell says. “We wanted to have activities that spoke to both.” The meeting is intensive—the vision is cast for where the team wants the program to be in one year, five years. They also discuss how to present it to employees internally, ways to involve associates at other sites outside of Greenville’s headquarters, and a calendar of events including events to help people get involved. But it’s not all talk. “We often provide snacks for employee meetings—typically cookies, soft drinks and other sweets,” Braswell says. “It’s important to Sewell that we provide healthy alternatives— this was a first step in making some of those changes. We had fruit, granola bars and bottled water instead of usual meeting snacks, and it was very well received by the meeting attendees. We really are living what we’re saying.”


Day 9

After another meeting with Givens— this time meeting with Dave Baker at Borg Warner (another HTI Client) in


Q1 2012 // Business Black Box

“We try to have healthy alternatives,” Sewell adds. “It’s an easy place to start. When we move into the new building we also will have vending machines, so we’ve considered how to get healthy alternatives there, too. We’ve even considered putting the nutritional info

of the items on the front of the vending machine—it makes you look at that candy bar a lot differently.”


Day 10

Together, Braswell and Sewell review the first meeting. They agree that they walked away from meeting believing the team is off to a great start.

“WE SAW AMAZING LEVELS OF INTEREST, PARTICIPATION AND ENTHUSIASM FOR PROGRAM,” BRASWELL SAYS. “WE ARE REALLY PLEASED AND EXCITED ABOUT WHERE THIS WILL GO.” Meanwhile, the American Heart Association delivers a walking kit to Leigh Fibers, one of the HTI clients who was introduced to the program by Sewell, in hopes that they will begin an employee wellness plan, as well. 1010101010101010101010101010101

Day 12

Braswell sends an email to members of the Wellness Team to remind them to submit names for the new wellness program. “I think it is important to us to have a name and a logo that we can use to promote the program and to engage people, and tie it into the business that we’re in,” she says.

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Day 17

Sewell hosts a table of 10 at the annual AHA Leadership Breakfast, to share the mission of the AHA and why company leaders should get involved in promoting and supporting wellness. “When you’re in a leadership position of any type, it’s a responsibility of yours to take care of your employees,” Sewell says, realizing that HTI is somewhat unique in their view of wellness. “Our approach is this—we were voted fourth best place to work in S.C.—this is just an extension of that employee-centric focus that we’ve always had.”


Day 23

Braswell coordinates the selection of a wellness rewards program through HTI’s medical insurance provider for full-time employees who elect to enroll in health care coverage for the new plan year. This is an additional benefit purchased by HTI, but it allows employees to submit health screening information in order to receive assistance in managing their health. “It’s all about prevention—hopefully, participation in this can help people avoid serious illness or the development of a serious health condition,” Braswell says. The response is great: covered employees are very excited when the concept is rolled out in the annual open enrollment meetings for benefits. The benefits to the employees are twofold: they can receive assistance and guidance on issues related to their own health, while at the same time earn rewards in the forms of gift cards. At the same time, the company can see trends among their own employee base and focus on those

issues specifically, while at the same time end up saving money in insurance premiums, as their employees get healthier. It’s a win-win situation.


Day 24

It’s the day of the second HTI Wellness Team meeting, and with the new name finalized, the team asks Anna Rowe, HTI’s Marketing and Public Relations Manager, to design a logo for for use in all promotional communications. Conversation turns to discussion of the kickoff of the wellness program, which becomes based on the company move into a new building in downtown Greenville. “We have grown so much that we were having to rent offsite meeting space for our company-wide meetings,” Braswell notes.“And, we want to have meeting in our brand new, beautiful, huge, state-ofthe-art training room.” The team also discusses using the strength they have in numbers—there are upwards of 80 HTI employees in the Upstate, from Spartanburg to Seneca— to involve other companies in their Wellness focus. The communications team is tasked with making contact to potential partners, and the full team will focus on incentivizing a plan of action for other companies to join in.

Day 41

The annual open enrollment period for benefits for HTI full-time associates begins. Braswell plans to discuss the new emphasis on Wellness, a new rewards program and additional wellness benefits available through their providers during enrollment meetings throughout the month. Fortunately, there are lots of questions, enthusiasm and demonstrated excitement for these programs.


Day 45 1010101010101010101010101010101

Day 40

The new HTI Wellness logo is finished, and Braswell sends it out to everyone on the team so that they can start using it.


At the third HTI Wellness Team meeting, the team discusses the kickoff of the wellness program at the next company meeting. In progress are walking/ running/biking maps for HTI offices and client sites, as well as possible discounts for group fitness at local YMCAs. Meanwhile, the Communication team is pulling together information for the first Wellness newsletter, and progress is being made on a Wellness page on the HTI website.

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The new name: HTI Wellness-Healthy Works.


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The team has also been working hard to involved other companies around the Upstate—they have talked with several—Spinx, Whole Foods, and others—to partner with, as well as looked at ways to involve HTI hourly, full-time associates located in client facilities. Much of the planning for the new wellness plan is being done by employees after hours—a sign of the level of commitment each of the team has to the program.


teasers about some of the upcoming events and goals of the wellness program, as well as a special “tease” for a special presentation at the companywide meeting in November.

companies to join HTI and AHA in forming HeartWalk teams.


Day 71

Day 51

Sewell works with Braswell and Herb Dew, the President of HTI, to approve the first official Wellness event— health assessments for HTI full-time employees in Greenville, and at client sites in Anderson and Duncan. 1010101010101010101010101010101


Day 54

The quarterly meeting is scheduled, and the Wellness Team will kickoff the wellness program with a presentation. Braswell works with the health care provider to coordinate giveaways for kickoff.



Sewell assigns leadership of the quarterly meeting presentation to two of the Wellness team captains—Jill Kozak for Communications and Rob Johnson in Fitness.


Day 72

Things are getting very busy at HTI— wellness team members are packing for the move to the new office at 105 N. Spring Street, in downtown Greenville. At the same time, many are working through the open enrollment process, and planning wellness events and the company wide presentation. There is much to do. 1010101010101010101010101010101

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Day 50

The Communications team sends out the first Wellness-Healthy Works email to internal employees. In it, they provide 86

Q1 2012 // Business Black Box

Day 57

Braswell finalizes dates for wellness events for Greenville office and Anderson site. Providers will take stats like blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, and BMI—which they can then use to receive more detailed information from their online health assessment (part of the wellness rewards program) from our health insurance provider. An added bonus at the event? Flu shots.

Day 74

Pedometers, the giveaway for the kickoff, arrive. Immediately, Sewell grabs one and puts it on. It’s a testament to Sewell’s desire to lead by example in this area. “I wanted to go ahead and get the ball rolling,” Sewell says. “I wanted to be educated on how to use them and have actually done it.”



Day 59

Day 81

Sewell attends an AHA Executive Team Leadership meeting at TD Bank, where they discuss the recruitment of

Braswell sends out announcement and flyers regarding HTI Greenville office wellness event to all salaried HTI

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activities and events, and announces that the program begins with the wellness event to be held in just a matter of a few weeks. Employees win prizes during a wellness Q&A, and everyone receives their own pedometer!

1010101010101010101010101010101 1010101010101010101010101010101

Day 88

When sign up times for health assessments and flu shots are posted in the new breakroom, slots start filling up immediately. It’s encouraging, for a team who has worked so hard.


MOTIVATES ME TO DO THE SAME,” SHE SAYS. 1010101010101010101010101010101

Day 86

It’s the HTI Quarterly Meeting day! The Wellness Team presents information on the new wellness program—goals,

Day 101

It’s the first day of a new lifestyle for HTI wellness, and after all the hard work and dedication already put in place, it’s encouraging to see it embraced by the employees so fully.


Day 92

Braswell sees pedometers on a lot of employees in the HTI Greenville office, and begins hearing talk about walking during lunch. Most wellness recommendations are for 10,000 per day, and the number of steps employees are taking becomes a hot topic around the office. “It really reaffirms what you’re trying to do,” Sewell says. “I had people coming up to me within a week showing me how many steps they walked.”


“It was interesting…employees walked away talking about their numbers and talking about the coaching they received from the representative from the clinic provider who reviewed their numbers/explained numbers with them,” Braswell notes.


Day 100

The big event—the HTI Wellness kickoff in the new corporate offices. Sewell and Braswell join other HTI associates to sign up for health screenings including high blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes; Body Mass Index (BMI) scores, and flu shots. Some spouses come in for this, too, which hopefully signals healthy lifestyles that will continue at home, as well.

Do you have a business you’d like us to follow for 101 Days? Mergers, start-ups, new events and big changes always make for a great story, and we want to hear yours. Email us at and give us a look into what you and your company is about to do. We’d love to spend the next 101 Days with you.

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employees, and distributes information regarding the Anderson and Duncan events to HR staff at both sites.




he South Carolina Supreme Court could soon arrive at a critical decision in its deliberations whether to change the way in which South Carolina businesses and citizens are taxed.This decision could impact sales taxes in the tune of a $2.7 billion increase.

Unlike the South Carolina Legislature, which is elected by the citizens of South Carolina and who typically create the state’s tax policy, the South Carolina Supreme Court, which is not elected by the people of this state, could impact how much more senior citizens, children, farmers, manufacturers, the poor and diabetics pay in sales taxes.


The South Carolina Supreme Court has before it a case that claims all $2.7 billion worth of state tax exemptions are unconstitutional and should be eliminated, because, according to the lawyers that brought forth this case, “the 85 exemptions found in the South Carolina Code…amount to an arbitrary classification of different entities for tax purposes…” The case may bring with it million dollar sales tax increases on life’s necessities for the most vulnerable

SALES TAX INCREASES COMING SOON? citizens; It could mean millions more in sales taxes to businesses at a time when they are finally coming out of the Great Recession; And, it could mean more tax burden to the very backbone of the state’s economy: Manufacturing and agriculture. According to Senate President Glenn McConnell and House Speaker Bobby Harrell, “The lawsuit would raise taxes by six percent across the board on many everyday items such as residential electricity and water bill, prescription drugs, groceries, newspapers, and diabetic supplies, just to name a few. It would abolish all o f our state’s sales tax exemptions, resulting in the largest tax increase in our state’s history.” What if the court rules that these tax exemptions are, in fact, unconstitutional? What does that mean to you? What does that mean to businesses, seniors, farmers, and manufacturers? Senator McConnell and Speaker Harrell concluded their commentary on this issue by reasserting that “major tax reform is a top priority ….and have already put forward several ideas with other initiatives being worked on during this past summer and fall.” They continued, “To be effective, and to make our tax structure more competitive and fair, our efforts must translate into legislation, rather than a lawsuit brought before the S.C. Supreme Court designed to bring about the largest tax increase in the history of our state. Following through with legislative action is the only way real comprehensive reform will ever happen.”

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About the author...

A graduate of Clemson University, he began his professional career as the manager of public policy at the Greenville Chamber of Commerce. He spent two years with SC Senator Greg Ryberg (Aiken) as his assistant campaign manager for “Ryberg for SC State Treasurer” in 2002 then as a South Carolina State Senate research director for the Senate Transportation Committee. John then moved on to the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce, where he was an associate vice president. Now, as a partner with Sunnie & DeWorken group, John is a member of the advisory council for Business Black Box, advising on topics pertaining to politics and public policy.

Q1 2012 // Business Black Box






THE PITCH: Did you know that over 1,200 children are reported missing in the United States every day? That is one child almost every minute of every day. A vulnerable part of the day for the child is in the afternoon, during school dismissal. So what if there was a solution that could help prevent missing children from schools? What if we actually saw the amount of missing children decrease? That is the goal and the mission of KidGopher. KidGopher is a secure child pick-up system that utilizes technology and photo identification to ensure that students are getting into the right vehicle with an authorized guardian at the end of the school day. Guardians, or “Gophers�, will have an account created with all of their contact information and photo ID that is associated with an RFID card. Each gopher card will be associated with the student(s) that gopher is permitted to pick up. Educators will scan the Gopher Cards during pick up to verify the identity of the guardian. Once approved, this information is then displayed in real-time at the designated pick up location(s) using Hypersign Digital Signage. This information is also displayed on an Apple iPad or other tablet device that the faculty/staff use to securely place each child in the proper vehicle. All of this information is archived so that administration can later retrieve the records. Elements including an Endangered Child Notification and disabling guardians for pick-up are also built into the system for added security in the event of a kidnapping or custody battle. CQ Media Networks built the software with a team of school officials from Columbia, S.C., to ensure that all administrative elements were considered. These considerations included items such as traffic patterns, dismissal area(s), visability of the television display(s) for the children, the amount of teachers involved during dismissal, integrating with existing software to pull parent and student information and records, wireless signal, suggested hardware components and coordination with local law enforcement in the event of an emergency.

Photo by Wayne Culpepper/FishEye Studios




With many potential investors having personal experience with picking up children from school and the critical issues surrounding proper procedures to guarantee the safe and proper care for the children, KidGopher will have no shortage of critical and practical review of their procedures. For example, they will need to address how they propose handling emergency situations that arise daily with last-minute changes to drivers; as well as children’s after-school activities that may require different carpools throughout the week! Lastly, they need to specifically reference the names of the schools and school officials in Columbia that were part of the development of the software, and what degree of endorsement they give KidGopher. Good start, but more work needed!


I believe that an idea such as KidGopher could definitely take off and be an effective tool in protecting children from unauthorized pickups or wouldbe kidnappers. I could see this being effective in other industries as well. I think that the background and information regarding the product is a HUGE selling point and should certainly stay at the forefront of any future messaging/marketing initiatives. In terms of the product and service itself, however, I have seen and experienced several products that do (or claim to do) some of the same things. This is where potential investors are going to want to see the differentiator. They would want to know why KidGopher should own the market, as opposed to the other products that offer some of the same features. Outside of the pitch, KidGopher seems to be gaining significant ground with PR and search engines. Even though they may not be the only one to market, it appears as if they have captured the conversation in regards to “secure child pick-up systems.” I have no doubt that once it catches on it’ll be strong and yield significant profits. I would even suggest that the creators try align themselves with other national organizatins and people (John Walsh comes to mind) with the same passion for the security of our children. Even partnering with the Ambert Alert system might go far in gaining national awareness.

This pitch starts off with a great “hook” translating a very serious but underestimated problem into a tangible, emotional datapoint that’s easy to process and startling to consider. The proposed solution to this problem sounds like a robust one from a technology standpoint, and its good to know that the system was developed in consultation with a large school system. However, potential investors would likely have several key questions about the system and its application. How many pilot projects/sales have been completed? What practical challenges does the system face when in use (e.g., impact on traffic flow, ability to handle contingencies, training required of staff, etc.)? How much customization and support is required for each customer? What are the up front and ongoing costs to schools, and what’s their ability to pay? I would also be curious to know if the company has explored other verticals in which the system might be applied to solve other queuing and credentialing problems. In the end though, if the system works and can really help reduce the number of missing children, I hope KidGopher will be a huge success


Managing Director, UCAN*

Three suggestions to stay out in front. Continue to innovate. Continue adding features with emerging technology. Build relationships that are nationally recognized in and around child safety and security.

CHARLES RICHARDSON Business Advisor, Showcase Marketing

*Speed Pitch feedback is provided by investors and members of the Upstate Carolina Angel Network (UCAN). Q1 2012 // Business Black Box


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KidGopher has done an excellent job describing this very important issue and their proposed system for solutions.

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ecently I met with a local restaurant owner to discuss a few business ideas. We were politely interrupted by what looked to be a nine-year-old little girl talking to her dad, the business owner.

I was pleasantly surprised to hear that this nine year old was talking to her dad about the project he had set up for her that “piggy backed” off of his main business.


Like many local restaurants, there’s always a gumball machine in the lobby. This business owner gave the gumball machine to his daughter and her friend so they can make money from it and experience owning their own business. Her business came from a “piggy-back” ride with her dad’s business. What opportunities might you have within your business or your workplace where

GIVE YOUR ENTREPRENEUR A PIGGY-BACK RIDE your young entrepreneur can explore owning their own business? Some parents have set up simple candy or snack boxes on their desks, or in the break room of their son or daughter to manage. Take some time out and see if there is a service or product that you or your young business owner wishes to access. Sometimes the simplest of ideas turn out to have the largest impact on your young business owner.

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About the author...

As Director of Redemption Marketplace Alliance, a Greenville-based entrepreneurship training program, Tony utilizes a unique combination of years of leadership experience in the corporate arena with ministry experience in the community. His impact in the lives of entrepreneurs has been as an internet publishing and advertising expert helping small to large business clients for News media companies such as the Greenville News, The St. Petersburg Times, and News Channel 7 WSPA. He also utilizes his first-hand knowledge as an entrepreneur from years of retailing, designing and marketing his own art and design work.

Q1 2012 // Business Black Box


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hen doctors told Katie Searls, an Upstate graphic designer, that she’d never get pregnant, she instantly moved on. For her and her husband, Brad, a local pilot for Special Services Corporation, adoption had always been part of the plan, anyway. “Okay, closed book, time to move on. It really didn’t take me long to move on…I always wanted to adopt anyway.” But even as they began the adoption process, there was no predicting what was in store. First, they filed for a dual adoption—verifying their intent with two countries in hopes of speeding along the process. But within a day after finishing the homestudy, the Searls’ got a referral—a seven-month-old girl from Korea. Instantly in love, they agreed, and began getting updates on the little girl they would name Zoey. But that wasn’t all. Only two months later, Katie found out she was pregnant. Of the pregnancy, Katie says, “That was the farthest thing from my mind — that just wasn’t going to happen.” But what might have been exciting news for anyone else, was terrifying for them. “One of [the adoption agency’s] policies is that if you get pregnant, they’re gonna stop the adoption right away.” But it was through the support of friends— one who Katie notes was “on the warpath” that they pulled together a plan to fight the policies that would keep them from their daughter. They found out names of the executives at the agency. They collected 60 letters of reference from friends and family. A binder full of information was sent to the agency, including the president, who was himself adopted from Korea. “Thank goodness I didn’t have any morning sickness early on, because I was working 24/7 to get everything together,” Katie remembers. After mailing off the binder, and waiting with excruciating patience for weeks, they finally got the call—they would be allowed to continue their adoption of Zoey. So now, the Searls family will grow, with one birth, a Korean adoption, and hopefully soon to follow, a Chinese adoption (thanks to the dual adoption process). “The way it’s looking, I’m due the end of February, and it’ll probably be next spring for Zoey,” although Katie adds that Zoey could end up at home by the end of the year. But that family—diverse as it will be—is exactly what matters to this young couple. “We believe that our calling in life is to adopt our children and to encourage and motivate others to do the same.”


Q1 2012 // Business Black Box

Photo by Wayne Culpepper/FishEye Studios

Business Black Box - Q1 - 2012  

First quarter 2012 Issue of Business Black Box

Business Black Box - Q1 - 2012  

First quarter 2012 Issue of Business Black Box