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NOV09 every issue
Status Check: Good To Know
11 Questions with Reid Lehman
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LETTERS LAYERS OF THOUGHT GUT CHECK RANDOM & RELEVANT MEASURE OF SUCCESS SPEED PITCH WHAT MATTERS
September/October 2009 November/December 2009
101 Days: Calicaro Wine
the think tank
Big Picture: Greer Memorial, Greer, S.C.
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CEOs & LEADERS LAW SMALL BIZ KID BIZ GLOBAL POLITICS HR SALES
Trailblazers: Mitchell & Muldrow
9 Business Black Box
Why Business Black Box? 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. Thatâ€™s the mission of our magazine, our connect events, and our interactive platform.Newsofbusinesses 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.
BE 1/2 V
EDITORIAL Editor-in-Chief Editorial Assistant Contributing Writers
DESIGN Creative Director Art Director Graphic Design Traffic Coordinator Photography
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Chad McMillan Lisa Worsham Chris Heuvel Conrad LaRosa Image to Impact Beth Boos Conrad LaRosa Wayne Culpepper/Fish Eye Studios
VIDEO & INTERACTIVE Interactive Video Services Director
At the heart of every event, every blog, every magazine issue, and every documentary Business Black Box produces, youâ€™ll find a relentless passion for connecting, advising and growing Upstate business.
Jordana Megonigal Andrew Brandenburg Marc Bolick Julie Godshall Brown Andy Coburn Noelle Coyle John DeWorken Lydia Dishman Todd Korahais Heather Magruder Missy Nowack Ravi Sastry Tony Snipes Alison Storm Lisa Forrester
Chad McMillan Conrad LaRosa Jonathan Shuler
BUSINESS Publisher Director of Client Services Account Executives Accounting
Geoff Wasserman Missy Nowack Mary Wray Conner Robbie Lynn Robertson Danny Shelton Melissa Sample
www.insideblackbox.com/Genesis November/December 2009
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“The SC TAC article was incredibly wellwritten and right on the mark. You obviously did your homework. My deepest congratulations and thanks—
Black Box rocks!” Jody Bryson President/CEO SC TAC
Feedback Your out of the box business publication is a refreshing, much needed addition to the business landscape of Upstate SC. And I should know, I have been working for or in businesses in the Upstate for 30+ years. Your realistic approach is terrific!
Wow! thank you so much for the privilege to be in Business Black Box! I have received so many emails from folks who say things like, “I just read your story in a new edgy business magazine and it was great!” I like the “edgy” quote the best. This has allowed us to get the word out about Amputee in Action to a lot of people that we would never thought we could reach. Very humbling for us to get this type of exposure and we are truly grateful.
The latest edition of Black Box is really well done!! Loved your editor’s article! Thanks for sharing your perspective and saying it SO well!
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Tweets from Tweeps
@PresslyM: Thanks for the lovely video spread on Greenville. I’m a big Falls Park fan. Often lunch there in the milder seasons. :-9
@Retroloco: WOW! Just WOW! You guys always delve into what noone else wants to get involved with! Your feature story was amazing!
@swagclub: Editorial vs. design? You choose.> @just_ duchess & I just spoke about this- ya gotta have both! you guys strike the balance.
@liquidhighway: great issue out on the stands! We’re so happy to see you guys doing so well!
Let us know... Do you have ideas you’d like to see in Business Black Box? Send us your input through our website, by email to email@example.com, or by mail to 1200 Woodruff Rd., Suite A8, Greenville, SC 29607. November/December 2009
LAYERS OF THOUGHT BLACK B OX
With unemployment rates hitting an all-time high, companies are forced to cut costs, opting to replace their superstars with average employees or send the job out to cheaper sources. Efficiency is chosen over effectiveness; quantity over quality. Now, the superstars are forced to work cheaper and faster or risk being replaced. However, out of the ashes is emerging a newer, greater superstar. This type of superstar is the person that can use technology effectively
to collaborate on an entirely different level than before. And best of all, most of this technology is cheap and available to everyone. Whether it’s an iPhone or BlackBerry, Facebook or Twitter, technology is becoming the great equalizer. Technology isn’t a fad anymore. It isn’t going away. It’s breathing new life into a breed of business superstar like the world has never seen. Embrace it. It could very well be your survival.
*Special thanks to Tiffany Morton (Halton Hair) and to Clothing Warehouse for allowing us the use of the vintage outfit.
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In this issue, one of our own, Beth Boos, plays a ‘60s secretary for an article entitled “Revolution of the Gatekeeper” that reveals how technology has leveled the playing field between the superstars of the industry and the average Joes. As technology makes things easier, faster and cheaper, the oncerevered superstars slowly fade into the distance. The marketplace is becoming saturated with mediocrity. The superstars are dying.
B O X GUT CHECK Change or Die. (Or, get comfortable and get a new job.)
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ome jobs are designed to make others comfortable. Mine is not one of them. After our last issue in September, I realized this even more. My job is not to make people feel safe, or happy, or content with where things are. My job is not to provide “safe” content that makes you smile and say “everything is okay.” Especially when it’s not. Likewise, my job is not to turn everything into a doom-and-gloom scenario, or leave you feeling depressed that you even decided to stick a foot out of bed today. I am not responsible for terror or worry or panic. My job is to take a story—whatever the topic may be—and make it as informative and relevant to our readers as possible. If that happens to make people uncomfortable, then so be it. In fact, maybe it will do us all some good. Because you see, the main problem I have with businesses getting comfortable is that we don’t see the need for change; sometimes, until it’s too late. The field of journalism is ripe with these stories right now. What papers or publications haven’t closed their doors already now find themselves in one of two places: sitting still and accepting their inevitable fate, or quickly trying to determine trends and consumer desires that changed months, or even years, ago. Behind. Lagging. Stale. Scrambling. I personally think a lot of this came about because we in the media got comfortable. I remember (not too long ago), sitting in a large lecture hall in my very first journalism class and discussing the question: will newspapers ever die? Our answer then: no. People needed them. They were part of life. They would (eventually) have to change, but would be around forever. After all, having words printed on paper was a necessity of life, right? Now, just over 10 years later, I find myself saying,“Can I change my answer?” I don’t know that newspapers are invincible. In fact, I think they are definitely not, and are quite like the rest of us in that they, like any other business, must grow or die. A lot of times, that means changing or adapting to what those around you want. And if you don’t, you become obsolete. Now, I don’t know where papers and publications will end up in the long run, but if they run as a business (which most of them do), I know some basics that will help keep them alive, or will finish them off. Stay on your toes, stay ahead of the pack, always be reading your customer and anticipating their needs and moves, and you’ll have a great chance of success. Sit quietly and comfortably in the background and allow them to come to you, and you better have a Plan B. (But hey, it’s easy to study for your next career path while you wait.) Ultimately, it’s your choice. At Business Black Box, our last issue really tested us on this.We took on a topic that could have resulted in a lot of negative reaction (it didn’t), a lot of P.O.ed customers (actually, the opposite), and backlash from our sources, our legislature, and large organizations (umm…nope). We’re still braced for it, but until then, we have realized what that issue did for us. What it did do was force us to look at who we were and what we wanted to be. Did we want to give you happy, comfy (but overall, irrelevant) information? Did we want to pad our pockets with advertising dollars? Or did we want to have a chance to possibly, somewhere, invoke change, even with the risk of making people uncomfortable? Yes, the ad dollars would be nice, and yes, we like printing the positive, but in the long run, would we end up like so many others—shiny, happy and...obsolete? We determined that if this area is to grow, and if we are to grow (yes, we are a business), then we can’t fear change.We can’t fear controversy.We can’t get comfortable, and we can’t give you tepid content that makes you comfortable.We have to, if necessary, be willing to shake things up and take the hits that come. You, business owner, should probably brace to do the same. In our January issue, you’ll get to see more and more about this topic. Until then, I am hoping that 2010 will come quickly, bringing us all the welcome relief that I know is on the horizon, and that we will all get a little more used to the changes that we must all make in the future. Happy Holidays to you all, and we’ll see you all in a new year.
Editor, Business Black Box firstname.lastname@example.org twitter.com/jmegonigal 864/281-1323 x.1010 facebook.com/jordana megonigal linkedin.com/in/jordanam November/December 2009
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Random&Rele 140≥ RANDOM & RELEVANT BLACK B OX
Getting Keyed In
In 140 characters or less, give us your feedback...
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On October 5, the Greenville Chamber of Commerce launched a campaign that, if successful, may just revolutionize the business community in the region. Called “Grow Greenville—Grow U,” the campaign is focused on doubling the Chamber membership in 2010. Yes, one year.Yes, double. See, for all its accolades, an economic scorecard released in 2008 by Clemson shows some startling statistics about Greenville—mainly, the loss of approximately $1.35 billion in spendable income each year, due to not being able to maintain the per capita income on par with its peer communities. So, after focus groups and many surveys and discussions, the Chamber decided to address the issue of market penetration in a new way. Where the national average of memberships for Chambers is 25 percent of the business population, the Greenville Chamber currently sits at 12 percent. Which brings us to the car. A BMW. Actually, two. Provided by Century BMW. And here’s how you get one:
@InsideBlackBox: Holiday B2B giving: What are your thoughts on it? Will you be doing so this year? (Be sure to include #BB140 in reply!)
RANDOM & RELEVANT
• If you join the Chamber as a new member, you get a key. • If you refer a new member, you get a key. • If you increase your membership investment by $400, you get a key.
Next year, try the keys out. They might just start your brand new car. You have to admit, it’s one cool way to get more players on the field.Without more businesses joining in the overall discussion, we stand to lose our voice in Columbia when it comes to matters that affect the Upstate—the business “hub” of South Carolina. Without more businesses joining in, we stand to miss important issues that crop up, simply because no one talks about them. So, you can join in to help Grow Greenville, and place your bets on a new BMW at the same time. Not too shabby.
@lbstewart: we’ll be baking Argentinashaped cookies here in our office as client gifts @swagclub: We are working on several dif sexxy items topull our clients to ‘WOW!’ @biztrek: We are not planning on holiday gifts this year. We used to give custom CD’s , but who needs more superfluous stuff now?
what Jim said...
, trees n o grew work to t i h s rd “I wi takes ha r t but i money.” im Crame -J e mak
what we said...
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By eah... y , h a ur , ye re’s o “Yeah e h w t ay, b a il o u the w t n e m govern heck?” c ox Black B s s e in s - Bu
B O X RANDOM & RELEVANT
Between the Pages
What we read: “The Girls’ Guide to Building a Million-Dollar Business” by Susan Wilson Solovic.Amacom,2008. The Gist: Directly from the book’s back: “In the past several years, women have taken the small-business world by storm…[they] now own more than half the privately held companies in the U.S. But…less than three percent of women-owned businesses in the U.S. gross a million or more in revenue!” Solovic’s approach to these statistics reveals quite a lot about how women approach their businesses, while at the same time helps encourage and empower them to build a role in business. And, because it’s not written from a “feminist” point-of-view, it’s a book that even your average guy might find useful (or at least, the ones who want to associate with successful, powerful women!)
RANDOM & RELEVANT
How it’s Written: Medium-sized chapters, but easy-to-read. The book contains a lot of resources, and a lot of inspirational stories about women—both tools that can help women take their business to the next level.
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Great if: you’re a woman. Or, if you own a business. Or, if you’re a woman who owns a business. Or wants to. Or, if you just want some practical information on getting your business into million-dollar earnings.
Don’t miss: Chapter five in Part II— “Developing the Right Team,” which explores who you surround yourself with and how they help or hurt you. It starts out with:“One of the most difficult transitions for a growing business is morphing from a fledgling startup to a more established, mature organization.” The rest of the chapter walks you through dealing with conflict, how to handle resignations, and finding hidden talents. Our Read: Great book, no matter who you are. (Yes, even if you’re not a woman.) November/December 2009
Business Black Box Spotlight: ASTD American Society for Training and Development The Upstate South Carolina Chapter of the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) is an association for training professionals. Members enjoy fun and educational meetings, learning the latest industry trends, opportunity to share knowledge, networking with business contacts working in the training and development fields, professional recognition and much more. Regular meetings are held at the University Center. In addition we have an active Breakfast Club and Technology Special Interest Group. Check out our website for additional information. http://www.upstatescastd.org/ 864-331-7515
Get Connected: Connect with other business owners and tons of potential customers. Submit your business to our online directory for free at http://www.insideblackbox.com/directory
New DOL Secretary Intensifies Enforcement of Labor Laws, including FLSA Ledbetter Fair Pay Act Signed into Law Dept of Labor Issues Model COBRA Subsidy Notices and Forms Fines for I-9 Violations Raised Calls for More Action Against Misclassifying Independent Contractors Reductions in Force Present One Gotcha after Another Employee Free Choice Act Would Apply to Small Businesses
What happens if you get ANY of these rules
Pending Legislation Would Mandate Seven Days Paid Sick Leave
To make sure you get it call
Featuring HR Director On Call
HRExpertsOnDemand.com | (864) 527-0490
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Legal Compliance • Recruiting & Selection • Employee Relations • Compensation • Performance Management • Training 17
B O X RANDOM & RELEVANT
Business Black Box
Lee R. Luff
Here are just a couple of things going on around the Upstate for business owners, networkers, or entrepreneurs.
Who he is: President of the
• WHAT - Business Networking • WHEN - Thursday, November 12, 6 p.m. – 7 p.m. • WHERE - The Commerce Club, 55 Beattie Place, 17th Floor • DETAILS- Hosted by The Commerce Club. Come network with other business professionals in the Upstate! Upscale cocktails and fabulous hors d’oeuvres. $5.00 inclusive per Member $15.00 per Guest. For more information, visit www. clubcorp.com.
What you need to know:
• WHAT - Business Connect • WHEN - Thursday, November 19 • WHERE - The Hilton Garden Inn, 108 Carolina Point Parkway, Greenville, SC • DETAILS- Come join Business Black Box and the Hilton Garden Inn for a Business Connect event you won’t want to miss! Meet the staff of Business Black Box, and come hang out with other business men and women just like you for informal networking. FREE. For more information, see www.insideblackbox.com/events.
• WHAT - Toast ‘N’ Topics • WHEN - Thursday, December 3, 7:30 a.m. • WHERE - Tucker’s Restaurant, Anderson, SC • DETAILS- Sponsored by the Anderson Chamber of Commerce, a morning of discussions and networking. Get connected by listing your event for FREE on our Business Black Box master business calendar:
Simply fill out the form and we’ll get your event posted to the calendar. November/December 2009
Anderson Chamber of Commerce
How to find him: (864)-226-3454, email@example.com
To join Anderson Chamber of Commerce log onto andersonscchamber.com/chamber/ join.asp What to talk to him about: How to start or grow a business, business-tobusiness networking and marketing. More details: The Anderson Area Chamber of Commerce boasts a membership of 830 businesses and professional firms, making it the largest business and professional association in Anderson County. For more information visit: www.andersonscchamber.com
S.C. Federal Stimulus Expenditures (where’d the money go?)
N D ES O L NG OR VIC ATI O I T O R I N O R N SIO PR NT AG C SE BIL S E N ICE TIO IS L & O ON ION IAL HA C IO V A M C E T C E E RD R M O R R IC OA ME TAT SE UC O E P ON FIC CU F SO L F C F B M R N ED Y IV IR F SE O NA O L O PO A F IT T V O O T O L’S RO F C NS UM O UR ECU EN RS PR EP ATI A T & NO N D C O A H PT C X E E ER N T TR & O D T S F E LTH ER M O EN CO DEP OF TH V FV G D N E O EA O M L O E T A O Y C H G C T E AN EP E YM FI F T EP D FH O OF O L SC RN ET D L T O O P S P T DG T EM OR DE AT BU EP N D R VE O G G
• information provided by Comptroller Richard Eckstrom and the S.C. Stimulus Oversight Task Force website. (www.Stimulus.SC.gov)
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B O X RANDOM & RELEVANT
10 Tips: Finding Culture L
ooking for a new job in today’s economy can be daunting on a number of fronts. No matter how desperate you are to find a job, here are some tips to recognizing a strong company culture that’s a right fit for you.
How were you treated during the interview process? Did the employer value your time? Did they drag the process on?
“Recognize the atmosphere. Does the work environment seem hostile or friendly?”
Don’t get so caught up in the interview trying to impress the employer that you forget to assess signs that the company may not be a fit for you.
Asking good questions about company culture in an interview shows that you care about where you work. Being loyal to a company’s culture is important to most good employers and will make an impression.
Most companies can’t offer the pay you’re worth, (actually NO company can pay what you’re worth) but they may make it worth your while to work for them if they offer perks other companies don’t.
7. Will this company help develop
your skills and will they invest in you as a person? What kind of career development tracks do they offer?
8. Ask about the person that had the job before you. Did they fit the company culture? Ask the employer why or why not. 9. Recognize that a strong culture is always changing, growing and adapting. Check yourself. Are you willing to change, grow and adapt?
3. Ask yourself some questions regarding your first impressions. What is the office environment like? How do the employees dress? Do the employees seem happy?
5. Recognize the atmosphere.
Does the work environment seem hostile or friendly?
What kinds of perks or additional benefits will you receive with this company?
10. Be aware that a culture fit will ultimately make you more successful and productive – therefore it will help secure your job and open up opportunities for your growth within that company in the long run.
B O X STATUS CHECK
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What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve ever received?
From the clichéd to the obscure, all of us have gotten that one piece of advice that we find invaluable to our day-to-day working lives. What is the one message, quote or tidbit that most speaks to you?
The best boss I ever had
once told me that my greatest strength was also my greatest weakness. He suggested I find a way to maximize the good it does, and minimize the bad it can do. He was right—and I quit a few weeks later, to do just that. Kamran Popkin Creative Director, Swagclub
Brand Yourself! ...Every Job Is Temporary. I have learned and put into action the art of Branding ME. I am the only thing I can take with me to every job and from every job. I have complete control over the message I give off so I have learned to make myself the one resource and asset that I can offer to any person, company or organization that they can’t get anywhere else.
Don’t over think it, just do it!
Danielle Cuddie Marketing Design, with a focus on Small to Medium Businesses and Affordability.
Amy Wood Interactive News Anchor/ Creator, www.TheRibbit.com
All businesses fail for the same reason—they stop working on
The world is not the way they tell you it is.
their business at some point and mentally walk away. Your business is alive so long as you keep pouring energy into it. Never give up, never surrender!
Allen Gillespie Vice Chairman, South Carolina Retirement Investment Commission
Tom Strange Sr. Director, St. Jude Medical
Focus is a force multiplier.
We all know this one and if I stray, this brings me back!
If you think you smell smoke, look for
Paul Pickhardt Business Development Officer, SBA
Always be of good character in whatever
you do. It takes a lifetime to build one’s character, but only one incident can tear it to shreds.
“You can get everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.” – Zig Ziglar, “Secrets of Closing the Sale”, 1984
is a force multiplier.
Janet Helling Entrepreneur, Send Out Cards
Enjoy what you do! Nancy Hellams Volunteer, Pendleton, S.C.
Although a bit cliche, this quote has always stuck with me: “The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10 percent what happens to me and 90 percent of how I react to it.”
Seek out every source possible
for information. Talk to everyone regardless of their station in life or the workplace; what you learn may be surprising. And don’t promise what you can’t deliver. Laura Harrigan-Haight Management and Communications Professional
By the way - it works! Hank Merkle Market Sales Engineer, ITW Shakeproof
Never assume! The more information you can provide, the better. Janet Herrera-Gantt Director, Client Relations, Foreign Translations, Inc.
My father was giving me advice for life and it certainly applies to business. He told me repeatedly that “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right.” Janet Christy Consultant/Author
It’s amazing how something as simple as returning a phone call promptly can effect your reputation and increase your business. Silas Lewis President, Samson Stone, LLC.
It is not so important what happens to me but it is of critical importance how I react to and deal with it. Manfred Gollent Executive Coach, QLI International Join the discussion! Join our group— Business Black Box—on LinkedIn to give us your feedback on this and many other subjects!
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Spencer Spellman Freelance Writer/Web Consultant
Phil Yanov Founder, GSA Technology Council
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CEOs & LEA CEOs & LEADERS BLACK B OX
leadership in adversity
by ravi sastry
Ravi Sastry is president of International Innovations, a consulting firm specializing in American and Asian business and commerce. He has held senior management positions in international sales, marketing, logistics, and operations. During his 25-year career, he has lived and worked in 14 countries on three continents, forging strategic relationships with industry leaders like Bosch, IBM, McKinsey, Samsung and others. “Greed is right. Greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. “Greed, in all of its forms; greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge has marked the upward surge of mankind, and greed— you mark my words—will not only save Teldar Paper, but that other malfunctioning corporation called the U.S.A.” The above was said by Gordon Gekko (played by Michael Douglas) to shareholders of Teldar Paper in a very famous scene of the movie “Wall Street” (1987).We have become Gordon Gekko as a global economic society and are suffering the consequences. Life preservers are being thrown out in the form of articles, books, congressional hearings and the media about leadership, who’s to blame, and how to fix the mess. From the presidents of nations to the entrepreneurs running a one-man shop, true leadership in adversity needs to be sealed with a K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple, Stupid).
Greed Is Not Good Whenever there is an approaching hurricane, the local price of building material, gas, and other necessities go up 10 times.There are countless articles about all the unfair business practices after Hurricane Katrina where a number of companies were fined for this behavior. In the short run, companies that exploit a natural tragedy may profit financially, but in the long-term, negative consequences are significant. Credit card companies are notorious for this behavior, with limited laws to protect the customer.The very high interest rates charged and the changes in customer fees with no warning are all in the defense of competitiveness.This short-term gain and long term pain is not consistent with good leadership.There will be more damage to the company and the people due to poor self-regulation which leads to federal oversight. It is amazing how many leaders forget the very idea of why they are in business: provide a reliable product to better the lives of people at a fair price.
Walk The Talk
Know What You Are Selling One of the primary reasons for the current economic conditions that started in the U.S. and infected the globe was the exuberance of investors
Protect Your Assets We all know the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would wish them do unto you.”People are your assets,whether they are your employees, vendors, customers, or investors. That’s what makes or breaks a business. When a leader can foresee that a decision is likely to do harm and he makes it anyway, he is being irresponsible.The continuing pursuit to be No.1 can give a myopic view of what is really important; respect for others. Look at what the sub-prime mortgage lenders did; they manipulated people into borrowing money that had a high probability of default, and enriched themselves at the expense of others.A good leader recognizes that avoiding harm to people and company is responsible business policy.
I Made A Mistake How many times have you heard the words transparency, accountability, and oversight in the past 12 months from people that were not in leadership positions. Classic obfuscation was seen during the dot com bust. Enron (Ken Lay), WorldCom (Bernie Ebers), Tyco (Dennis Kozlowski) are examples of never admitting, “I made a mistake” due to blind greed and arrogance. All three were sentenced to jail, although unfortunately, Lay died of a heart attack during his trial. Now we are going through the same cycle, except this time it is the financial sectors and on a much grander scale. If something goes wrong on “your watch,” it is you who is responsible to fix the problem. When a business leader makes a mistake that has an adverse effect on the enterprise, they must apologize to the investors and do what is necessary to rectify the situation. This is part of the business culture in Japan and other Asian nations, from which leaders in America can learn. Passion is what drives any business. It is also what causes it to fail when it transforms into an obsession. As Peter Drucker stated, “it is not enough to do things right; we must also do the right things.”
ck a b d Fee m, advise andisit
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Today the media is full of news of companies reducing their labor forces, freezing/lowering salaries,or cutting back on spending. If a company or an individual is required to cut back, modify behavior, or hold to the promises that were made, then so also should the leadership.This raises the issue of ethics associated with leaders who expect and retain exorbitant compensation packages and astronomical bonuses. First, you should not take it, and if you did, give it back. Never make a promise you can’t deliver. If some unusual circumstances do come up, you may have to break the promise; but in most cases, you should have the moral duty to be true to your word. A leader has an obligation to tell the truth and be honest with their stakeholders that directly affect the enterprise.
to buy and sell financial products whose complexity they didn’t fully understand. It is unimaginable that “experts” were involved in thousands of transactions with so much at stake.And, at the same time, these experts were ignorant about what they were buying or selling. Due to the fact that huge amounts of money were being made, no one questioned the deals or had the fortitude to raise the issues to investors, board members, or the public. Product knowledge is no small detail for doing business. It is a responsibility you owe to your customers, board members, and your investors.
ou v s stor Brain in when y om/CEO c . h x ig we kBo eBlac November/December 2009 25 Insid
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Even more recently, the state announced the 20092010 school year would start off with a four percent
reduction in funding, but Eidson says the school has oel Neuder is not your typical college student.
no current plans to follow a similar path to the previous
The 41-year-old has already spent more than 20
budget year’s repercussions.
years in the working world. But a few years ago, he recognized the signs of a faltering economy and
she says. “Our state funding has declined, but we’re doing the
college degree, and he followed up on his instincts by enrolling
best we can to service the students in this area. We have a solid
at Spartanburg Community College. Neuder’s sixth sense proved
budget moving forward, thanks to us tightening our belts and
itself even more when, after 16 years with the company, he was
getting additional enrollment.”
“I knew I was very marketable because of my experience, but I started
Likewise, Spartanburg Community College, which had an eight percent growth rate in 2008, experienced an even
to become less marketable because I didn’t have a degree,” he says.“When
larger jump this year with an 18 percent increase.
I lost my job, that just hit home and confirmed my suspicions.”
Kelley Jones, executive assistant to the president, says
Neuder is not alone. In fact, this trend is occurring at technical schools across the Upstate, leading to record enrollment. But as the
this increase is unprecedented. “Our business is definitely related to the economy,”
schools welcome the influx of students to campus, they must also
Jones says. “If it declines, our enrollment increases
deal with continuing budget cuts from the state.
because people lose their jobs, they need to be trained in
Tri-County Technical College has seen an 18.3 percent increase in enrollment from last year, which represents about 1,000
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thanks to solid enrollment increases this fall, we’re doing fine,”
knew that if he wanted to continue to be successful, he’d need a
laid off from his job as an account manager at Seton Company.
“We had a tough year last year, but weathered it and
a new field and be flexible in getting (another) job.” SCC’s state funding was cut by nearly $2.5 million, or 23.4
students, and brings their total enrollment to 6,763. According to
percent, in 2008-2009. The college dealt with the blow with as
Rebecca Eidson, director of public relations and communications,
little effect on the livelihood of those involved as possible, Jones
the age group with the largest enrollment rate is 18-19 (up 35
says. Their goal, she explains, was to “cut expenses while still
percent) followed by students aged 40-49 (up 32 percent).
providing good service to students.”
But as enrollment rose during the 2008-2009 school year, TCTC’s funding from the state saw a 22 percent reduction. In response to its lack of funding, the school issued a travel and hiring freeze, Eidson says. November/December 2009
“We were able to make significant cost reductions and able to do it without a furlough.” At Greenville Technical College, Tim Martin looks at the enrollment growth on a daily basis as dean of enrollment
management. His findings show the college’s enrollment is eight
have seen a large increase in enrollment at both Tri-County and
percent ahead from the previous year, translating into more than
Spartanburg Community College, while enrollment numbers in
1,000 students. As of mid-September, the college had a total
health sciences classes, such as nursing, are surging at Greenville
enrollment of 14,549.
Technical College and Spartanburg Community College.
“We expected big numbers, and given that Greenville Tech
The faculty and staff at these schools have also been affected by
is the third largest public institution in the state, that’s pretty
the lower budgets and increasing enrollment. Many of them are
substantial,” Martin says.
teaching more classes than usual or picking up extra duties that
But during the major cuts instituted in 2008-2009, GTC lost
normally would have been given to another position. This can lead
$5.6 million in state funding. Cuts this year have taken another
to a lot of stress on their end, something Jones says SCC is taking
$750,000. Dr. Keith Miller, president of GTC, says during the
steps to prevent.
height of the budget cuts, they worked hard to avoid changing the
“Faculty and staff are encouraged to take time management courses and stress management,” she explains. “The school is
classroom dynamics. “My priority was to not impact or have very little impact on direct services to students…and I feel like we were able to
focused on lifelong learning and we encourage that among our faculty and staff as well. “We’re all in the same boat,” she adds. “Everyone is working
accomplish that,” Miller says. The college was forced to resort to layoffs, a decision that can be very cost effective but at the expense of a student’s success. However, Miller says they concentrated the layoffs on positions that would have the least effect on the classroom, including administration and support staff. In addition, they combined positions, froze new positions and limited supplies and travel. “Couple the fact of reduction in state support with growth in enrollment, that means we have fewer dollars to educate each student,” he explains. “So that means colleges are having to find other means to not just maintain services but different means of how to increase those services. There’s not one answer and not one method. It’s how we’ve been able to put that together and make things happen.” There are common trends
the tunnel but realize that this might not change. Chances are higher education is not going to get [their state budget] back.You have to be creative and innovative and work more with less.” Jenny Williams, an English instructor at Spartanburg Community College, says her first reaction to the state budget cuts was one of panic. “I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, what are we going to do? How do they think we’re going to manage?’” Those thoughts didn’t last long, however, as the faculty and staff began looking for solutions. “Very quickly we said, ‘All right, this is the card we’ve been dealt, let’s move along with it,’” Williams recalls. Williams began working with the college as adjunct professor in 1998 and was hired full-time in 2003, which places her in a unique position of being part of the growth at the college and getting to watch it continue firsthand. She says she is enjoying the influx of people now present on
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among the three schools’
harder and longer. We’re hoping that we see a light at the end of
most popular programs, as well. Welding classes
campus. Clubs and organizations that used to be practically nonexistent are experiencing a revival. In response to the budget cuts, Williams has taken personal steps in her classrooms to meet the new budgetary constraints, including shifting from paper to technology. Paperwork that used to be passed out in class is now accessible online. She has had to pick up an extra
nursing,” he says. GHS has even developed a partnership with Greenville Technical College to help advance the evolution of the school’s program. “Many of our employees serve on their advisory committees to help with things such as curriculum, future directions for programs
“it’s better to have too many to teach than too few.”
and strong clinical training opportunities,” Dorman says. The partnership is highly beneficial to the students in a hands-
the long run is going to outweigh the bad,” Williams says. “(Our
on capacity as well, as they each have the opportunity to study on
success) says a lot about us being able to morph where we’ve
the hospital’s campus. For many of the students, this leads to future
employment within GHS. In fact, Dorman says, they hire more
So does all this mean the working world is more accepting Business Black Box
and walk in the door, whether it’s in the lab doing testing … or in
class, but she says she doesn’t mind the added responsibility, saying “It’s definitely been a challenge, but I think that the good in
students from Greenville Tech than any other college. He stresses,
of a two-year college degree? In times past, an associate’s degree
however, that they are beginning to put more emphasis on the
was accompanied by a negative connotation in comparison
importance of a bachelor’s degree, especially for nurses. In order
to a bachelor’s degree. But trends both on campus and in the
for a future nurse to develop the highest level of skills, he says, a
workplace suggest the wind may be shifting.
bachelor’s degree is recommended and GHS will assist employees
Doug Dorman, vice president of human resources for Greenville Hospital System, says he places tremendous value on the skills of the technical college graduate.
“They have very strong technical skills when they leave school
in that endeavor. All three schools are working hard to provide Upstate students a quality education with fewer resources from the state. But many
would agree that it’s important for the state, however, to put a greater emphasis on higher education due to its impact on the livelihood of individuals and the state as a whole, Miller says. “If you look at the individual pieces of everything, with the enrollment growth, with the downturn in the economy, and the increasing needs of businesses and industry for highly skilled workers, the reason business and industry and individual students are turning to our colleges is because of our historical impact on workforce development and therefore the economy, too,” Miller says. “During times like this, the evidence of that comes out. [It provides] a reason for a state to invest in the two-year colleges because we do have that direct impact on workforce development.” This is a factor Neuder acknowledged in his quest for a college degree. He chose to enroll in SCC’s radiation protection program. He says the program, which is affiliated with Duke Energy, will provide him footing in a more stable environment, working in the field of alternative energy. “I really encourage young kids now, in today’s world, to have a higher education. When I came out of [high] school, I was very fortunate to get a job,” he says. Knowing what he knows now, Neuder explains, “I’m much more focused, much more determined to do well.”
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us. amp c n ow o en n m h s e 75 fr ly 3,3 nt. h g u ith ro perce ng ear, w r, or 14.4 y ringi l b o , o a n e h e y ool 10 sc eshm 9-20 vious sch ing fr 0 0 y m t 2 i o e ers e pr r the 0 inc Univ s to date fo nts from th an 45 h t n e o s las de mor Clem freshman c of 425 stu , with r a e y e as est last Larg s an incre rsity rcent from e i v s i i Th Un 4 pe rson creased 13. . e d An ent in to 2,280 t llm Enro nrollmen e l tota
What were you doing
We were helping our clients promote their brand, showcase their products, and meet new customers face to face.
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LAW BLACK B OX
selling a business: eight obvious points that sellers sometimes forget As an attorney with Wyche, Burgess, Freeman & Parham, Andy Coburn regularly represents clients in mergers and acquisitions, corporate reorganizations, structuring of joint ventures, securities offerings and other financing transactions. 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.
1. Use good advisers. If you are experienced in selling businesses, you already know this. If you are not, be advised that selling a business without good advisers is like walking through a minefield blindfolded—it is possible to avoid a catastrophe, but the risk is generally not worth it. The basic lineup typically includes a corporate attorney, a tax attorney and/or accountant, a financial accountant and an investment banker.
by andy coburn
4. Sell when you don’t need to. Try to sell at a time when not doing a deal is a comfortable option for you. The ideal business to sell is a very profitable, growing company, but a company that is generally stable and profitable can certainly do a respectable deal. Waiting to sell after the business founder with all of the key customer relationships dies is a recipe for disappointment.
5. Term sheets are your friend. Relatively early in the selling process, you usually want to sign a term sheet that covers the material terms of the deal. If you and the buyer can’t agree on a term sheet, there is no reason to waste time on full due diligence and negotiation of deal documents.
6. Know when to walk. Some buyers will try to renegotiate deal terms based on problems later uncovered in due diligence or issues with their financing. This may be entirely legitimate. On the other hand, attempts to renegotiate can be a red flag that you have a buyer likely to cause you other problems. The buyer who insists on putting a lot of the purchase price in escrow 2. Make a plan before you get started. Talk to your advisers due to minor due diligence issues may be a buyer who will drag before you talk with potential buyers. If you are not experienced you into litigation over questionable indemnification claims after with selling a business, you need to understand what you are getting closing. Even if the buyer is being reasonable, you need to consider into—the time required, the distraction in operating your business, whether the proposed revisions make the deal unacceptable. Do not costs such as valuation fees, etc. In any event, you need a plan of get caught up in “deal fever.” No deal can definitely be better than attack outlining the desired terms of the deal, identifying key issues a bad deal. to be addressed and mapping out action items and timing. This usually will change over time, but failure to plan can have nasty consequences, such as realizing just before closing that you failed to 7. Don’t forget taxes. Rarely do sellers actually forget the issue consider a tax issue that will significantly reduce what you are going of taxes, but timing can be a key issue. Different deal structures can to get paid. Initial planning can involve as little as an hour or two dramatically affect the tax consequences to the seller.You don’t want to try to renegotiate the purchase price after you sign the term sheet with your advisers. because you failed to analyze tax issues before you signed. 3. Know what price you want and 8. Beware delayed or contingent payment. Consult whether it is justified. Don’t bother to with your advisers before agreeing to any delayed or contingent payment of the purchase price. Delayed payments are only as good as the credit of the person who is promising to pay. If the buyer loads your company up with debt and the company is supposed to pay you 50 percent of the purchase price over two years, you may never see that 50 percent if the extra debt causes the company to fail. Contingent payments—such as an “earnout” where payments are made based on the earnings of the company after the sale—can be a nightmare for the seller. They are often very difficult to structure and enforce. Buyers may accelerate expenses to reduce earnings, and it is often very difficult for the seller to ensure that the buyer is reporting accurate performance numbers. A seller may have to resort to litigation to determine whether the buyer is cheating and/or to enforce nd vise a it d a , the earnout. m stor en you vis w. Brain a in wh om/L weigh lackBox.c B Inside November/December 2009 33
ack b d e Fe
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get into the selling process unless you have a good idea of what you are willing to sell your business for and whether or not that is a reasonable price to expect. Advisers can help you determine what a third party might pay. There is no use going further if you determine that the minimum price you will accept is significantly higher than what others will pay. Either your expectations are unrealistic, or you need to wait until the market for your company improves.
B O X TRAILBLAZERS
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TRAIL BLAZERS 21
or Harold Mitchell, blazing a trail in politics meant starting from within a perfect storm. House Representative Mitchell [D]-(Dist. No. 31, Spartanburg Co.) grew up in a house whose front door was just 75 feet from a 40-acre manufacturing site that housed the largest fertilizer producer in the world. The small community, better known as Arkwright to natives of Spartanburg, was close to downtown but a world away from a healthy 1984- South Carolina State University 1985 environment. Although the plant was abandoned in the 1980s, the damage to the site and the residents had been done. 1985- University of South Carolina Furnace dust shipped from Georgia as a recyclable had been used as an ingredient 1988 in the fertilizer—hazardous waste made even more toxic in the processing. Added to that, there were no working fire hydrants on site, yet three transformers were still 1998- Executive Director,ReGenesis operational—surrounded by dry brush. Adjacent to the site was a chemical facility Present Economic Development Organization that produced ethylene oxide, 30 acres of a methane-producing landfill, and the tracks of the busy CSX train line. The abandoned site became a magnet for illegal 2005 South Carolina State House activity and as a result, drove off business and homeowners. Most residents shrugged and looked the other way. But when Mitchell’s own life was threatened, he said “enough.” Member of: “I was sick for nine months,” says Mitchell, recalling the time spent bedridden, • Environmental Protection Agency; passing blood and losing an alarming amount of weight. Repeated tests yielded no diagnosis, so Mitchell took matters into his own hands and began researching the • National Environmental Justice chemicals infiltrating the neighborhood. Advisory Council; Starting with local agencies, Mitchell discovered the cause was indeed • BMW Community Advisory Council; environmentally-triggered. “It was like peeling an onion,” he says, adding that when his father came down with similar complaints and died of lymphoma shortly after, • State Competitive Initiative Task Mitchell was further motivated to soldier on. Force on Distressed Communities; Besides working “the Hill” in Washington D.C., Mitchell had the tough task of • Board of Governors, Spartanburg convincing friends and neighbors that the grant proposals and community partnerships were worth the effort. “They said leave it alone, you’re chasing a ghost,” he recalls. Chamber of Commerce; By now, the project had a name: ReGenesis, and Mitchell was at the helm. Slowly • Chairman, Spartanburg Housing he began to attract the attention of agencies such as the EPA, who initially reported Development there was no toxicity at the site, to the Ford Foundation, and Hope VI. The issue grew beyond addressing the environmental impact of the health of a disadvantaged community and into economic development.To date, they’ve raised $230 million for clean-up and development. Mitchell says he made a bet with the Mayor of Spartanburg that once the site was cleaned up and affordable housing started to go in, the residents could be trained for jobs to sustain the community. “We had high school dropouts and those coming out of drug rehab,” says Mitchell, noting their collective success as well as the drop in crime rate. Through it all, Mitchell says he got an education in the political process and Profile by Lydia Dishman how it worked—or didn’t. Though he had plenty of experience telling the story of ReGenesis’ success across the county and even to foreign delegations, when the time came for a special House election in 2005, Mitchell says he couldn’t imagine someone else being as able as he to continue the good fight for environmental justice. Mitchell was able to take what he’d accomplished and create legislation on housing and health care. And he’ll run again to ensure something else. “All the people that [I worked with years ago] died of lymphoma or rare lung disease. I regret they weren’t able to see the fruits of their labor,” Mitchell says. “It’s not about money or power. You know you are doing what’s right.”
Watch the full interview at www.InsideBlackBox.tv
TRAIL BLAZERS BLAZERS 12
$300,000 $300,000 $100,000 $56,323 $50,000 $250,000
Children’s Advocacy Center Spartanburg Children’s Shelter C. C.Woodson Community Center Senior Centers of Spartanburg Children’s Behavior/Mental Health Community Outreach Partnership (with USC Upstate)
$250,000 $400,000 $50,000 $100,000 $42,000
Establishing new 340B Pharmacy Breast Cancer/Colon Cancer Screening Bomar Avenue Road Improvement/Emergency Access
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Spreading the Wealth (funds raised with Mitchell’s assistance):
Local Community Health Center
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by Heather Magruder | photos by Wayne Culpepper with Fish Eye Studios
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Panasko was a college student at the time, at the University of Pittsburgh. He’d come south for the summer, visiting an uncle who lived in the Upstate. He had a job washing dishes. It might have just been one hot summer that faded into memory had it not been for one of the hostesses at the restaurant, a University of Georgia student with a summer job. As it was, the two went back to their respective colleges at the end of the summer, but they kept in touch. Suffice it to say, Panasko felt compelled to move south after graduation. It didn’t take too many years before Panasko had a wife, an MBA—which he claims he got more out of a competitive urge to keep up with his wife—and a career in the bar coding and data collection industry. “If you want to know what happens when you scan your Campbell’s soup label, I can tell you exactly,” he says. Panasko worked in business development and he wasn’t looking to make a switch the day a colleague came in and said he knew of an opportunity that he felt would suit Mike. He didn’t have a whole lot of details and Panasko was skeptical at first, but later decided to investigate. The group turned out to be the Upstate Alliance, a public/ private regional economic development organization designed to market the 10-county Upstate region to the world. “They rolled the dice on me,” Panasko says. “I cut my teeth there and learned from great folks.” Panasko jumped right into the work, heading out on the road, promoting the ten Upstate counties that form the Alliance.
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ONWARD & UPWARD
Fast forward a few years and Panasko felt ready to spread his wings. He went to Sam Konduros, who had hired him. Konduros pointed him to what would become Innovate Anderson—then Anderson County Development—and offered his recommendation. Innovate Anderson is a public/private economic development organization formed by Anderson County, the City of Anderson, Anderson Area Chamber of Commerce and private businesses. The organization is similar in structure and mission to Upstate Alliance, but solely focused on Anderson County.
“You do a good job and people recognize it,” Panasko says. It doesn’t hurt to have the kinds of easy-going demeanor that is noted by almost everyone he encounters, including people like Lee Luff, President of the Anderson Area Chamber of Commerce. “Mike also has a calm approach to problem solving and intuitive thinking through the process.” Luff notes that Panasko is a great fit for Innovate Anderson because not only is he well-known throughout the Upstate but also he has the ability to work with people. Although his position with Innovate Anderson requires that he concentrate on just one portion of the Upstate, Panasko and his family still have connections across the region. His wife’s work is in Spartanburg, so the family lives between there and Anderson, in Powdersville. The size of the family varies, staying steady on the human end, with two parents and two children, and on the dog front at a count of one. Other pets come and go, though. There was Spike, the class guinea pig on the first week of school. There was a frog, who Panasko dubbed pet of the week, captured by his son in mid-September. Amid the children and the pets, Panasko still finds time to enjoy the one part of Pittsburgh he just hasn’t found a replacement for in the Upstate: the Steelers. “I pull for the Panthers down here, but I’ll always be a Steelers fan,” he says, noting that, lucky for him, the two teams are in separate leagues.
THE NEXT LEVEL
When he’s not pulling for the Steelers, Panasko loves being able to focus 100 percent on Anderson County. “I had the chance to work with nine other counties,” Panasko says. He thought Anderson had the most upside, which, for him means that it had a combination of positive attributes and room for improvement.What drives Panasko is helping the community obtain a better quality of place.That work might mean forming some unconventional partnerships; it might mean doing things that normally wouldn’t fall under an umbrella like that of Innovate Anderson; it might mean looking not only at economic development but also helping with product development, tourism, partnerships.
“What I love most is bringing people together.” “What I love most is bringing people together,” he says. Panasko also finds his passion in bringing people together with meaningful work, and in bringing jobs into a community. Panasko wants to see Innovate Anderson continue to go after, “new adventurous initiatives.” He likes taking risks and sees these as the things that will vault Anderson into the kind of area that is a model for other counties.
“We hear people refer to Charleston. We hear people ask how downtown Greenville came to be. I want people to say, ‘Have you seen what Anderson has done?’” Some of the jewels of Anderson are already present and obvious, Panasko says, noting the lakes, for instance. “We also have the Clemson University Advanced Materials Center. It’s still very raw, but to me, that’s our gem.” Panasko says the Advanced Materials Center represents Anderson well. “Everyone recognizes ICAR. This is the same type of Research and Development—just as focused.” It also happens to be four miles off the interstate, on the shores of Lake Hartwell. This is part of why it’s so typically Anderson—the technology mixed with the beautiful natural environment. “We [Anderson] want to maintain integrity and lifestyle, and grow.”
“We hear people refer to Charleston. We hear people ask how downtown Greenville came to be. I want people to say, ‘Have you seen what Anderson has done?’”
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â€œYou do a good job and people recognize it.â€?
“Everyone should strive to be a leader in their community.” This goal for Anderson County is also what Panasko would advise anyone who wants to follow in his footsteps to do. Or, for that matter, anyone who wants to do well. “Find the one person who does it [what you want to do] well and get them to mentor you. Whether they know it or not, watch what they do right—how they act, how they speak to others—and make it your own.” “Everyone should strive to be a leader in their community,” says Panasko.
Even when it means starting with the dirty dishes.
DID YOU KNOW? Anderson is known as the “Electric City.” City Population: 25,514 Labor Force 87,785 Unemployment Rate: 12.5% Median Household Income: $27,716 (National Median Household Income: $41,994)
Economy consists of over 230 manufacturers and 22 international companies.
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Manufacturing (automotive) Metal products Industrial machinery Plastics Publishing Textiles
Major Colleges in 30-mile Radius: Anderson University Forrest Junior College Clemson University Southern Wesleyan University Tri-County Technical College. November/December 2009
SMALL BIZ BLACK
the entrepreneur's wish list
Tony Snipes is director of Redemption Marketplace Alliance, a Greenville-based entrepreneurship training program, where he utilizes a unique combination of years of leadership experience in the corporate arena with ministry experience in the community. Tony has spent over a decade as an internet publishing and advertising expert, helping clients for news media companies such as the Greenville News, The St. Petersburg Times, and News Channel 7 WSPA.
by tony snipes
registries. It makes it easier for your family to shop for you while also taking your business to another level. Another cool thing about making an entrepreneur’s wish list for yourself is that the item(s) doesn’t have to be expensive. Sure, technical gifts can be expected to be on the higher-cost end of any list, but sometimes I’ve asked for inexpensive things like a business magazine subscription. Not a lot of money, but something relative and impactful to my business knowledge. To get started, ask yourself what are the things you need to add to your
.............................................................................. business’ growth? What are things that you’ve wanted but have either done
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During the upcoming gift-giving season, when you are asked “What would you like me to get you this year?” don’t go for the generic answer of “Oh, surprise me,” or “Oh, it doesn’t matter.” Give your loved ones’ generosity an opportunity to really make a difference by letting that gift to you be something that will advance your new business start-up.
Each year, I have a mental wish list of the things that would really be of significance to me if I received them as gifts from my wife. Since I am passionate about my entrepreneurial endeavors, the presents she’s given me that I found useful in my business were always the gifts that I enjoyed the most. From tech equipment that made my home office life easier to gift cards used to purchase services, these special items have made both my wife and I happy during the season—me, because of having another tool to advance the business, and my wife, because she saw that her gift to me was truly appreciated. This is not a new idea. Brides and grooms do this all of the time with wedding November/December 2009
without or just haven’t taken the time to get?
Here are a few ideas: Gadgets and gizmos are always the first items that come to mind. Determine what technology tools are needed most for your business, and consider your loved one’s budget. It actually doesn’t have to be pricey, but it should make an impact in your business growth. Last year I received an inexpensive mp3 voice recorder. Nowhere near the price of a laptop, but able to launch me on my way toward creating audio podcasts for my blog. Big step. Small price. Great gift! Gift cards, especially Visa or American Express, can be used to pay for basic services that will get your start-up in the game. Use for business basics like printing your business cards or giving your first logo a facelift. I once received a Visa gift card as a thank-you gift and immediately used it to launch a new website project of mine. That gift went so much further than a tie or pair of socks! That trade or business magazine subscription that you know you’ve been wanting. Classes or workshops that are relative to your industry. Books that speak to your industry or your growth as an entrepreneur. Gifts that are relative to a person’s passion are usually gifts that get put to use and are most memorable. Your loved ones will smile.
acknd b d e Fe m, advise a isit
ou v stor lBiz. Brain in when y om/Smal .c weigh lackBox B e d Insi
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B O X BIG PICTURE Architect:
Design Strategies, LLC
Leased from Greer Commission of Public Works
Manufactured by Dura Art Stone of Atlanta Installed by W.P. Law in Lexington, S.C.
Ashmore Bros. Inc
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Greer Medical Campus
Harper Construction Co. & BE&K Building
Security Systems: Benches:
Manufactured by Country Casual Purchased from Young Office
Installed by Tech Systems
830 S. Buncombe Rd Greer, SC 29650 www.ghs.org
Opened: August 24, 2008 Employed: 441 (Greer Memorial Hospital) 206 (Cottages at Brushy Creek) People served: 3,557 (from Sept. ‘08 to August ‘09) Total investment worth: approximately $100 million A Little More Info: • Greer Memorial Hospital includes more than 1 million square feet of sheetrock, around 860 tons of steel, and 11.5 miles of piping—all in 151,200 square feet of space. • Seven-foot roof overhangs provide substantial energy savings with their shade. • The campus holds 400 pine trees, 2,100 shade trees, 50 fruit trees, and 2,300 shrubs. • The central fountain pumps approximately 90 gallons of water each minute.
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Whether you watch CBS, NBC or FOX, Mark Johnson’s face may look familiar. Over the years the seasoned weatherman has delivered forecasts on every network. These days his full-time job is with LifePoint, Inc, an organ and tissue donation organization in South Carolina, but babies keep him in front of the camera as a fill-in weather anchor when female counterparts go on maternity leave.
“There has been a reasonable demand for freelance weather,” explains Johnson. When he left CBS affiliate WSPA in January of 2007, a one-year non-compete agreement prevented him from working for another Upstate television station. “[WYFF] wanted me earlier. I could not work for [channel] four prior to the end of that one-year non-compete,” says Johnson of his commitment. “I wanted to make sure everything was up and up.” So Johnson went to work in the Charlotte market filling in for weather anchors there, but his ultimate goal was to return to the Upstate. And that’s exactly what he did, as soon as his non-compete agreement expired. “I started working at [WYFF] a year and a day after working at [WSPA],” says Johnson. “The noncompete ended on Friday and I started on Saturday.” Johnson never attempted to fight his contract or break it, but always took signing non-compete agreements very seriously and thinks other people asked to sign them should as well. “If someone is working a full-time gig it’s something especially in this job market you need to be careful of,” says Johnson. What happens if you’re downsized? Would someone hold you to a non-compete then? Ask just about any employment attorney and the answer to Johnson’s question is “yes,” which, for unemployed South Carolinians, makes non-compete agreements feel like one more hurdle in the harrowing hunt for a job. Non-compete agreements haven’t always been enforceable, or even legal. According to Greenville employment attorney Andy Arnold, they were illegal in 15th century England, when labor shortages made being jobless against the law and any agreements that prevented someone from working were banned, too. November/December 2009
But the 1400s are long gone, and non-compete agreements are common in many industries in just about every state. South Carolina’s law regarding non-competes is almost identical to North Carolina law, and similar to many other states. Arnold has practiced employment law for 17 years and says more employers are requiring their workers to sign non-compete agreements. “There was a fellow that worked as a mechanic at a Kia dealership that had one,” says Arnold. Over the past 18 months he’s seen a big increase in laid-off clients hoping to fight their noncompete agreements. Workers often sign them thinking they’re unenforceable and not worth the paper they’re printed on, which is just not true, according to Arnold. “Employers have employees sign them because a good bit of the time they are enforced,” says Arnold. The explosion in non-compete issues and inquiries prompted Arnold to launch SCNoncompeteLawyer. com about a year ago. The site hosts a blog he dubbed “Beat Your Non-Compete” where posts cover everything from non-compete basics to strategies for defeating them. Arnold adamantly defends employees and says even a poorly drafted noncompete—one that likely would be thrown out by a judge—can keep a person from finding a job. “Even an unenforceable agreement may scare off perspective employers,” explains Arnold. “If you’re hired, [your new employer] can be sued for interfering with your non-compete. Most employees can’t afford to fight them and most employers are going to be restrained because they don’t want to go to the trouble or take the risk.” And many times the question comes down to money—“Do you want to spend $10,000 on that [legal] advice so you can get a job and make $2 more an hour?” asks Arnold.
Avoid signing non-competes that are potentially too binding to be worth the job. Here are a few principles to keep in mind:
Look at the terms of the non-compete and figure out
what types of new jobs you could get and with whom if you left the company. If the non-compete effectively would require you to move out of the country, completely retrain or get a job in a field or industry where you have no real experience, those are red flags.
If a company wants to impose a non-compete in the
event of firing you without cause, they should be willing to pay you your salary during the non-compete period.
You do not want to ever sign a non-compete
that you are not comfortable with. If you feel that you have to, there is a potential silver lining—the more unreasonable and burdensome the non-compete, the greater the likelihood that it will not be enforceable. It’s still better not to sign in the first place, because, if you do sign it and a former employer threatens to enforce it, new employers may not hire you out of fear of litigation and you may face the prospect of having to hire an attorney to prove that the agreement is unenforceable.
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Upstate entrepreneur Brian Morin signed a non-compete his first day on the job as a research scientist at Milliken. “Honestly, I had no choice,” he says. “It was a down economy and a good job offer, so I signed the whole stack of what they put in front of me.” Little did he know that more than a decade down the road that signature would lead to years of legal battles and thousands of dollars in lawyer fees. After nine years with Milliken, Morin left to start his own company, Innegrity, with the goal to design a new fiber that Innegrity would manufacture for the composites industry. But Milliken claimed that it owned the rights to Morin’s invention because of the non-compete he signed on his first day of work. “Since Milliken neither made fibers, nor participated in the composites industry, and I didn’t start until after I left, I felt the spirit and letter of the agreement were being obeyed,” explains Morin. According to reports, in 2007, a jury ordered Morin to pay Milliken about $25,000 in damages, and Morin says it’s been an expensive experience that drives home the importance of open communication. Morin says that if you do have a disagreement over a noncompete agreement with a former employer, try to discuss things before taking legal action. “Avoid litigation at all costs—it’s way too expensive,” says Morin, “and you could end up spending $500,000 to defend what turns out to be a $25,000 award.” Still, he does have his employees at Innegrity sign non-compete agreements and believes they can help both the employee and the employer avoid unwanted complications. “They set expectations, and that is the most important thing— both sides need to know what is agreed and what is outside their employment agreement,” says Morin. “The difficulty comes when an agreement is not used responsibly.” The situation gets even more difficult when you consider South Carolina’s double-digit unemployment rate that currently ranks among the top 10 worst states in the country, as non-competes can make a historically difficult job market even more challenging. “During the last 18 months I’ve seen more and more people terminated and kept from earning a living in the worst economy I’ve ever seen,” says Arnold. Three-fourths of his clients over the past year have been fired, only to be restrained by a one, two or even three-year non-compete agreement that restricts their job search parameters even more. At that point, paying your mortgage becomes more of a priority than hiring an attorney to challenge the non-compete agreement. “I really think non-competes harm our economy,” says Arnold. On the other side of the courtroom are attorneys like Andy Satterfield of Jackson Lewis, a firm with 560 lawyers in 41 offices from coast-to-coast, including one in Greenville. Satterfield has spent
more than two decades practicing labor law by representing employers in various industries including manufacturing, health care, retail, and banking. Lately, he’s seen more employees violating non-compete agreements and more employers fighting to have them enforced. “I think a lot of times you will hear people say that non-competes are not enforceable,” says Satterfield. “That is not true. A properly drafted non-compete is enforceable.” According to the law, the non-compete should be drafted as narrowly as possible in terms of the length of contract and the geographical area encompassed by it. “If a sales rep is assigned to Greenville County, draw the non-compete agreement to limit his activities for 12 months just to Greenville County,” explains Satterfield. “Don’t make it the entire state of South Carolina.” Phil Radford, President and COO of CRI, a Fountain Inn-based company that makes colorants and chemicals for large chemical groups, says his company typically uses two-year non-compete agreements that limit former employees from working with direct competitors. “It’s not that it’s top secret,” says Radford. “It’s just that if the formulas were to get out and people started to use them they would put our customers in a position where they couldn’t be as stable and secure.” Radford, also a former Milliken employee, says beyond simply obeying the signed legal document, he believes it’s an ethical issue. “Regardless of what an agreement says, you’ve got to make sure you’re protecting the interests of the employer you work for today as well as the ones you’ve worked for in the past.” Satterfield admits that often non-competes are seen as a restraint on an individual’s ability to earn a living, but they are also a tool for companies looking to protect their assets. “That’s like saying it’s more important for the employee to go to work than it is for the employer to protect the jobs of the employees that remain there,” argues Satterfield. “It affects more
than [the employee’s] livelihood if they violate the agreement.” For example, if a member of the sales team is fired and immediately starts working for a competitor, selling similar products to the same customer base, a lot of damage can be done. “The company’s customers are just as much an asset as the products they manufacture or the services they provide,” says Satterfield. “It would be like building a building and not having insurance on it. You wouldn’t do that.” According to Satterfield, an employee’s best option is to know what you’re getting into before signing a non-compete, but even seasoned headhunters say that’s not always how it works. Kimi Husse with Meridian Corporate Solutions places people in engineering and banking positions and says non-competes rarely come up in negotiations. “Only once you were a physical employee then those types of topics arise, but not when you’re interviewing,” says Husse. Husse, a former mechanical engineer in the electronics industry had to sign noncompete agreements, but never worried about them. “Any work I had done was in the development phase with Texas Instruments,” says Husse. “I had to sign that kind of [agreement].” If you’re interviewing, it’s a good idea to ask your new employer for written confirmation of all terms and conditions up front, otherwise you could get surprised on the first day on the job, says Arnold. “I have had [a client] move from Michigan to accept a job and after moving his family was presented with a non-compete,” says Arnold. “You’ve got a week, you’ve got a day, you sign this or you’re gone. So what do you do?” Still, Satterfield says many times companies are open for negotiations when it comes to non-competes. “I think companies can be open-minded about it on the front end,” he says. “It depends on the person they are hiring and how valuable they would be.” But to avoid legal action, attorney’s fees and one big headache, workers may end up biding time like Johnson was forced to. “I did have to wait that out before I could work in this market,” says the TV weatherman. And if you’re not willing to wait, Arnold says just make sure you know what you’re agreeing to. “I tell people it’s kind of like marriage,” says Arnold. “You usually don’t know what you got into until it’s too late.”
One major misconception in South Carolina is the seeming contradiction between South Carolina’s status as a “right to work” state in contrast to the legality of non-compete clauses that limit employees’ ability to work for other companies after termination of employment. Could it really be legal for an employer to limit an individual’s ability to work by having them sign a non-compete agreement in a state that guarantees its citizens a right to work? Here’s the lowdown (from lawyer Andrew Coburn’s perspective):
South Carolina is one of 22 states in the United States
Non-compete clauses are agreements that some
classified as a“right to work”state.UnderTitle 41,Chapter
employers require employees to sign – usually when
7 of the South Carolina Code, it is illegal for an employer
the employee is hired -- that are meant to protect
to require an employee, as a condition of employment, or
of continuance of employment to “(1) be or become or
employees who leave or are terminated from working
remain a member or affiliate of a labor organization or
for a competitor in the same market for a set period
agency; (2) abstain or refrain from membership in a labor
of time (usually a year or two) or leaking trade secrets
organization; or (3) pay any fees, dues, assessments,
or other important information to a competitor.
or other charges or sums of money to a person or organization.” It is also “unlawful for a person or a labor organization to
The legality of non-compete agreeements generally depends on (a) how broad the terms of the noncompete are in duration,
directly or indirectly participate in an
geographic scope and the definition
agreement, arrangement, or practice
of who is a “competitor” and (b)
that has the effect of requiring, as a
the applicable state legal standards
condition of employment, that an
as to what noncompete terms are
employee be, become, or remain a
reasonable and enforceable in that state.
member of a labor organization or pay to a labor organization any dues, fees, or any other charges; such an agreement is unenforceable.”
are used to protect companies from losing business and trade secrets to former employees who leave and share what they know with their competition. Non-competes
Carolina can force employees to join or not to join a
thus serve legitimate purposes, but they become
labor union either to get a job or to avoid getting fired.
problematic when their terms become unreasonable
Nor can an employer force employees to pay labor
and effectively prevent an employee from being able
union wages, dues, or fees.
to earn a living.
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Essentially, no employer in the state of South
Essentially, non-compete clauses
B O X KIDBIZ
holiday money making ideas for kids Tony Snipes is director of Redemption Marketplace Alliance, a Greenville-based entrepreneurship training program, where he utilizes a unique combination of years of leadership experience in the corporate arena with ministry experience in the community. Tony has spent over a decade as an internet publishing and advertising expert, helping clients for news media companies such as the Greenville News, The St. Petersburg Times, and News Channel 7 WSPA.Tony’s three daughters offer him a unique perspective that he brings to KidBiz.
s the Christmas season approaches, the hustle and bustle of time-starved adults creates great moneymaking ideas for your young entrepreneur. As with any time of year, the key to a successful business idea—no matter the age of the entrepreneur—is uncovering a need and creating the solution to that need. This time of year, the thing that many people “need” is convenience.
by tony snipes
Provide convenience for the gift-giver Here are a few services your young entrepreneur can provide that will make life easier for their customers and put a little money in their pockets: • Baking. This is always a winner during the holidays. If your young business person has a talent for making great cookies or other baked goods, this is their time to sell them to friends and neighbors. If they can’t make the goods themselves, no problem! A partnership with mom, dad or grandparents who bake is an excellent way to learn more about business and still sell great Christmas cookies, cakes, etc. (Tip: Have your young entrepreneur promote the baked goods as potential gifts their customers can give to others.) • Gift Wrapping. After battling crowds in stores and malls, who has the desire to wrap gifts? Your young person can wrap gifts for friends and neighbors and take that chore off of the shoulders of their customers. • Gift Buying Service. Partnering with mom or dad can position any young entrepreneur to take care of the Christmas shopping for those willing to pay for the convenience of not having to fight crowds to the stores. With the guidance of parental “business partners,” shopping can also be done on the Internet as well. • Parents Shopping Night Out. Teens or younger entrepreneurs that partner with their parents can provide a twist on traditional baby sitting and brand their service as one that watches the kids while parents shop for their gifts. Daycare services have found great success with this each year.
Provide convenience because of the weather Other money-making ideas can be provided simply because they eliminate the customer from having to step out of their warm and cozy homes during the cooler months. • Trash Takeout Service.Your young entrepreneur can service customers in the neighborhood by setting their trash can out prior to trash day and returning the cans after pickup is complete. • Dog Walking. A good idea anytime of the year, but an even better idea as temperatures get cooler. As people get busier and busier and as temperatures make staying indoors more desirable, this time of year can create good money making opportunities for your young entrepreneur.
ck a b d Fee advise and
it , ou vis storm iz. Brain in when y om/KidB c . h x ig we kBo eBlac Insid
B O X MEASURE OF SUCCESS
With a charitable season approaching, we at Business Black Box wondered about our local Non-Profit organizations and their operations. In this issue, we looked at the number of non-profits represented in the Upstate, as well as a few specific organizations who are changing the world.
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* Data taken from SCANPO.org
United Way is a worldwide network in 45 countries and territories, including nearly 1,300 local organizations in the U.S. It advances the common good, creating opportunities for a better life for all, by focusing on the three key building blocks of education, income and health. * Graph does not include United Way of Anderson County * # served may include people counted more than once if they have received services from more than one United Way program.
The Anderson Free Clinicâ€™s goal is to provide essential healthcare services to the indigent and uninsured of Anderson County. The clinic founders and staff believe that all people have the right to high quality healthcare regardless of socioeconomic or health status.
Miracle Hill Ministries is a non-profit organization in the Upstate of South Carolina dedicated to providing food, shelter and hope for those in need. Our doors are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year to fight homelessness, hunger and addiction. Our mission is to ensure that persons most in need receive food, shelter, and compassion, while hearing the gospel of Jesus Christ and becoming productive members of society
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Each weekday approximately 150 generous members of our community dedicate their time to deliver a nutritious, hot meal to hundreds of frail and homebound throughout the Spartanburg region. Mobile Meals is much more than a meal. We provide nourishment for the mind, body and soul. Mobile Meals delivers love, compassion, and hope to those in need. * All information provided to Business Black Box by organization representatives. November/December 2009
101 101 DAYS
There’s a giant leap to be made for those who want to transition from mere enthusiast to active participant. Subsequently, few make that jump. Dave Ball is one of those few—moving from wine enthusiast to wine maker. Here’s his story.
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Hurdling towards disaster OR conquering the mighty competition.
Ironically enough, Dave Ball is not new to winemaking. Thanks to his father’s encouragement to get involved for its scientific value, Dave began making wine in the 8th grade using a winemaking kit. Being fascinated with the process (and the result), Dave began searching the family refrigerator for every type of juice imaginable to make into wine—although some juices yielded better results that others. Since then, Dave has developed his career as a healthcare business attorney in Greenville, S.C., and was a dealer of fine art photographs and prints with a virtual gallery and online sales. He also has grown in his love of wine—leading him to connect with others of similar interest in the community and ultimately begin making his own wine.
In the next 101 days,Dave plans to take his budding startup enterprise, Calicaro Wine, and create a business that is stable, profitable, and, most important, well-received by wine enthusiasts. Along the way, obstacles will include everything from actual wine making—selecting grapes, topping off barrels, and mixing blends—to matters of business and financials to other, more behindthe-scenes tasks like designing labels and choosing corks. But that’s only the beginning. Once the wine is made and bottled and ready for sale, Dave will have to line up people to distribute the wine to, as well as restaurants and wine shops to carry it. And then, there’s still the question of reception. While Dave is pleased with his initial wines, what will other wine drinkers think?
Dave’s true purpose in starting Calicaro Wine is twofold. His first drive is his passion—Pinot Noir. While he’s enjoyed tasting and researching and becoming a connoisseur for many years, he’s come to the point where he’s ready to take the plunge and begin creating his own wine. His second purpose in creating Calicaro wine is regional. Through his company, Dave wants to give the Upstate of South Carolina a wine that it can be proud of and claim as its own. (The name Calicaro is taken from Cali, of California, and Caro, for Carolina).
“ Wine is
so much more than a beverage to many people...
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Day 6: One way Dave markets his company and his wine is through regular updates to his blog focusing on his wine. “Wine is so much more than a beverage to many people,” he explains. “It can be a metaphor for life, where I can take the opportunity to wax poetic or philosophic at times.” He refers to this process as “guerilla” marketing, also referred to as Wine 2.0, which makes use of technology today, specifically social media and the Internet. In today’s post, Dave shares details about the barrel tasting he had at Soby’s in downtown Greenville with the Soby’s and Devereaux’s management as well as with a possible wine distributor.
Day 1: After one patient year, Dave’s first vintage is maturing. The first barrel samples of “Paris Mountain” and “Liberty Bridge” Pinot Noir arrived in Greenville from the California vineyards. It’s his first opportunity to taste the finished samples. This being his first significant vintage, Dave’s biggest question is “How is this going to taste?” There’s the initial excitement in opening bottles and tasting the first sip. “You just kind of hold your breath and hope,” he explains. But after the first few sips, Dave’s friend says to him, “I think you can breathe now.” Aging both Cabernet and Pinot Noir from his ’08 vintage, Dave is especially pleased with his “Paris Mountain” Pinot Noir, which tasted like a finished wine even though it was a barrel sample. The “Liberty Bridge” is good but still needs more time to mature. “Both had tons of fruit and intense flavors,” Dave says. Both wines reflect the ‘08 year—a dry year, yielding small crops with small berries that yield stronger flavors. Also important to note, Dave’s Pinot Noirs will be aged for one year, while his Cabernets will be aged for two.
Day 9: Dave updates his blog post today with thoughts not directly relating to his own wine in order to connect with other wine enthusiasts. In this post, Dave shares his thoughts regarding New York Times chief wine critic Eric Asimov’s recent article. In the article, Asimov begins to “cast some aspersions toward the richer, riper, more robust, dark fruit style that Calicaro and many other Pinot vintners often like to make,” according to Dave’s blog. And while each critic is, of course, allowed his or her own point of view, Dave raises a great counterpoint: “So here’s the question: should a critic judge subjectively according to his or her palate? And if so, should the critic provide full and frequent disclosure of his or her palate preference so the consumer can tell whether their palates match up?”
Day 12: Today Dave makes his ver y first wine sale on the Calicaro website: one bottle of “Liber ty Bridge” and one bottle of “Paris Mountain,” totaling close to $90. Dave is ecstatic to have made his first sale and glad to see that the online store works properly.
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Day 13: An exciting day for decisions, the name “Poinsett” is finalized for one of Dave’s Pinot Noir from his ’07 vintage. While his first major vintage is from ’08, Dave started with a small vintage in ’07 to test the waters in the winemaking process. Now that a name has been selected, the labels for the bottles as well as the cork design are able to be finalized and ordered. Jenny Doll, an experienced designer from San Francisco, has worked with Dave on the labels for his bottles of wine as well as Calicaro’s brand through many revisions. The original design inspiration came from Dave’s Swiss wristwatch. “I wanted to communicate a message of quality, luxury, precision, understated elegance, and long life—what would be better than a fine watch face design to do this?” Dave says.
Day 16: Today, Dave spends much of his time working on the Internet: he adds the Nat Decants widget to his blog and sends out an email announcing the addition. Dave also adds Calicaro to Snooth website of wine reviews. Both the “Liberty Bridge” and the “Paris Mountain” Pinot Noirs— both vintage 2008—have been added. Neither has been rated yet. November/December 2009
“Since then, people have expressed their amazement at my ability to walk away from an eight to five, benefits, an office and job security, when I have a mortgage and a child at home,” Erika says. Day 17: Dave announces on Calicaro’s blog that in addition to the two ’08 Pinots, one from Sonoma Coast and one from Santa Lucia Highlands, a small amount of ’07 “Hayley” Pinot Noir will be available as well. Day 18: Dave sends out some initial emails today regarding an upcoming Pinot Noir tasting he will be hosting. Day 21: Marketing emails keep Dave busy this morning, but later he attends an event hosted by the wine meetup called “Location, Location, Location!” Each attendee to this event brings a bottle of wine to share, while they discuss “what ‘location’ means—and how important it is— in the world of wine.” Day 22: Dave adds his ’07 “Poinsett” Pinot Noir to his online store. He also spends time corresponding with both his website designer, Dave Wilder, as well as label designer Jenny Doll regarding upcoming decisions that need to be made. No tangible decisions are finalized, but progress is made on both counts. Day 23: Today Dave emails a wine broker in Los Angeles regarding becoming a possible wine distributor for Calicaro. He also places an order for wine he plans on featuring at an upcoming tasting he plans on hosting. Day 24: Thus far one of the most challenging tasks has been finding a distributor due to the down economy. Dave spends time corresponding through emails with a possible South Carolina distributor for his wine. South Carolina is a three tier distribution state, meaning all wine sales in state have to go through a licensed bonded warehouse. Consequently, it is necessary for a winery to have a distributor to sell wine. It is very difficult for a small startup brand to obtain a distributor in this weak economy. In the evening, Dave attends Clive Coates’ Burgundy Wine Dinner at Devereaux’s. According to Dave’s blog, “Mr. Coates … is a renowned wine critic and writer who focuses on France. He has spent much of the last 30 years living in Burgundy and has written the definitive volumes on this complex and sublime wine region.” Day 25:An exciting day, Dave orders a case of his’07 “Poinsett” Pinot Noir—with completed labels and corks—to show
distributors and allow them to sample. He has bottles sent to one distributor in Charleston and saves others to show to local restaurants. “My strategy is to create the demand by restaurants to help convince a distributor to sign up to carry Calicaro,” Dave says. “If I have solid demand, then it will be possible to convince a distributor to buy my wine to fill preexisting orders. A distributor does not want to be stuck with wine that they cannot sell—it then gets sold at closeout prices.” He also posts on his blog his notes from the previous evening’s dinner. He recounts the “wonderful meal, great wines—an incredible evening, one I will never forget.” Day 29: While searching for a distributor in South Carolina, Dave is also spending time finding a broker in Los Angeles. and working on a possible contract. Dave needs a broker because California is a two tier state, versus most other states like South Carolina that are three tier states. In California, a broker can simply take orders without going through a distributor, allowing wineries to ship directly to restaurants and other outlets.
Day 30: Following their fermentation, Dave’s ’08 Pinots are topped off in barrels at winery. This process happens about once every three weeks as the wine ages in its barrel. “Topping off is hugely important to wine development,” Dave says. The barrel environment allows for a slight amount of evaporation and very limited exposure to oxygen. Topping off is simply filling the barrel back up to replace wine lost through evaporation and to allow for more limited oxygen contact. The wine lost to evaporation is poetically called “the angels’ share.”
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Day 36: Dave spends time today working and coordinating with his publicist,Taryn Scher, president of TK PR, regarding the logistics for featuring Calicaro at Euphoria, a weekendlong event including exclusive tasting events, cooking demonstrations and wine seminars, multi-course dinners, and live musical performances. One possibility they discuss is pouring Calicaro wine for the welcoming media event.
Day 37: Dave’s ’08 Cabernets are topped off at the winery today. Day 39: Dave attends a wine tasting at Soby’s Loft and shows his wine to Christine English of Grapevine Distributors; he also provides her with wine to show to others at Grapevine and elsewhere. “She nodded her head with approval and said she really liked the wine,” Dave says. Some of the staff from Soby’s and other Table 301 restaurants also sampled Dave’s wine and really enjoyed it. Day 43: Christine shows “Poinsett” Pinot to a potential retailer—unfortunately, they decline to carry it in the down economy although they like the wine very much. Dave is disappointed, of course, but also recognizes that Calicaro is a new brand without an established reputation. Since Calicaro hasn’t had a chance to develop demand yet, it raises the potential risk of carrying the wine. “It will take time to develop recognition and demand for Calicaro,” Dave says.
This is not a business for the faint of heart ...
Day 48: Dave sends out his “Late Spring Newsletter” to his friends, customers and family, keeping them up to date with what’s going on with Calicaro. “Many folks are very supportive,” Dave says. “We are beginning to receive a few orders.”
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Day 49: Emails today focus on labeling and corking his “Poinsett” Pinot Noir. “We want to have corks branded with our name and our website address,” Dave says. This work has been contracted out from the winery, and, unfortunately, the corks have mistakes and need to be redone, causing delays on printing. Dave and his team decide to use unbranded corks for the initial release of the ’07 Poinsett in order to avoid any more delay.
Day 53: An important day for Dave. as he hosts about 25 people at his personal Pinot Noir tasting. Guests sample 11 different brown-bagged wines in order to select their top five picks. Dave includes his “Poinsett” in the tasting. Many people really enjoy it, and several select it as their first or second favorite pick. Branching into the digital world even further, Dave signs November/December 2009
up for an account on Facebook. “Initially I kept my account personal, rather than gearing it solely toward Calicaro, but as time has gone on I begun talking more about Calicaro,” Dave says. He also considers setting up a business page specifically for Calicaro. Day 58: Dave’s ’08 Pinots are topped off once again. Day 59: Dave’s ’08 Cabernets are topped off again. Day 64: Dave orders two more cases of “Poinsett” Pinot Noir for samples for possible carriers and distributors. It’s important for potential distributors to be able to taste the wine, since flavor, of course, is a key factor in the decision. Day 72: Dave plans his trip to California for wine blending and bottling in August.The trip needs to be made prior to the ’09 harvest, since blending is a labor-intensive process and all available manpower and space is needed. He also takes time to review Calicaro financials. In the winemaking industry, much investment is made up front, while return can take time to be seen. “This is not a business for the faint of heart,” Dave says. “There is significant lead time on any return on investment, and the general financial market conditions are outside of the winemaker’s control as is the weather and the size and quality of the harvest year to year. If that is not enough, making really good wine involves taking some risks and therefore is a bit of a high wire act, but show me another business with the history, romance and richness of wine.” Day 78: The ’09 Pinot Noir barrels are topped off again. Dave helps plan a Pinot Smackdown hosted by the meetup group by writing handouts that the guests will receive.The Smackdown is an event that will be hosted by Greenville’s wine meetup group. This event will consist of a debate between Dave and the meetup’s leader, Richard Peck regarding “the merits of the new-world, ultra-ripe wines versus more restrained, traditional old-world styles.” Both Dave and Richard will be hosting wines, each from their sides of the debate. Day 79: Dave approaches Vino 100, a local wine store in Simpsonville, S.C., regarding carrying Calicaro wine—no results yet, but Dave is planning to follow up. Day 80: The ’08 Cabernet barrels are topped off again. Dave also finalizes a distributor relationship with Grapevine Distributors. “I’m absolutely thrilled to have a distributor finally established,” Dave says. “Grapevine is a top-of-theline distribution company that specializes in smaller boutique brands, and I have heard so many good things about the local rep, Christine English.”
Day 86: Dave coordinates with Poinsett Club on their wine order. They order a few cases of ’07 “Poinsett” Pinot Noir and are actively selling it. “I hear it is being very well received,” Dave says.
Day 88: Dave works on selecting wines and writing handout materials for the upcoming Pinot Smackdown. Day 91: The ’08 Pinot barrels are topped off again.
Day 93: Dave coordinates with Grapevine on the initial distributor order regarding quantities and pricing as well as allowances for samples.
Day 94: The North Carolina and South Carolina state distribution registration forms are completed and sent, in order to make it legal for Calicaro to be sold in both states. Dave reviews Calicaro financials. Unfortunately, there’s a hold on shipping for bottles of wine due to the heat, which means no shipping will be made until fall unless it’s upgraded to overnight. Wine in the shipping process for longer than a day at high temperatures won’t keep.
Day 100: Dave finalizes bottling plans—details on bottle shape, design, colors of the foil over the cork—for early fall. He also plans to travel to the winery in August to blend the wine. Day 101: Looking back at Calicaro’s short history, the company has come so far so fast: learning to make fine wine at a commercially viable level, identifying and sourcing vineyards for fruit, harvesting and making wine with their professional winemaker in California, developing names and label designs, designing and building a website as well as a blog site, finding and building restaurant, distributor and broker relationships, and nurturing direct-to-consumer website sales. But looking ahead, there’s still much to do, including building a presence and customer base in the Upstate primarily, as well as the rest of South Carolina and North Carolina. It’s Calicaro’s goal to establish itself as Greenville’s fine winery. Calicaro hopes to grow into a 500-case-per-year winery within a few years.
UPDATE: Follow Dave and Calicaro Day 99: The North Carolina and South Carolina state distribution registration forms are completed and sent, in order to make it legal for Calicaro to be sold in both states. Dave reviews Calicaro financials. Unfortunately, there’s a hold on shipping for bottles of wine due to the heat, which means no shipping will be made until fall unless it’s upgraded to overnight. Wine in the shipping process for longer than a day at high temperatures won’t keep.
through their journey. Calicaro’s blog can be found at www.calicaro.blogspot. com. Calicaro’s website can be found at www.calicaro.com.
Do you have a business venture that you would like us to track? Drop us a note and let us know more: www.insideblackbox.com
Day 84: Dave works on coordinating wine orders with both Soby’s and Devereaux’s. Both are still in process.
I’m absolutely thrilled to have a distributor finally established,” Dave says. “Grapevine is a topof-the-line distribution company that specializes in smaller boutique brands, and I have heard so many good things about the local rep, Christine English.
Dave also approaches two other local restaurants about carrying Calicaro wines. Work is still in progress with both.
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Our facilities are fully equipped with the latest technology including complimentary Wi-Fi and a 24-hour Business Center; meeting rooms with abundant natural light and wall mounted HD LCD Monitors with data connections, plus guest rooms that help your attendees stay productive while away from the office. And, when your meeting happens here, it’s most likely the only one happening here. So we can be more focused on your meeting, and you can stay focused on it’s success. Everything. Right where you need it®. Located between CU/ICAR and The Shops at Greenridge. When tomorrow’s a big day, stay HGI tonight. 108 Carolina Point Parkway Greenville, SC 29605 864-284-0111
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GLOBAL GLOBAL BLACK B OX
global recession? yes. global recovery? not so fast. by marc bolick
Marc Bolick is a guest columnist in this issue of Business Black Box. Bolick replanted his native roots in Greenville after living in Europe for 13 years. He has worked for Fortune Global 500 companies, midsized European firms and co-founded startups. For the past seven years he has run a consulting firm that helps clients on both sides of the Atlantic to qualify, plan and implement growth strategies.
Although Chinese unemployment data is notoriously unreliable, they have felt the pinch of the downturn, as government officials have stated that unemployment jumped at the end of 2008. South Korea is a notable exception, showing only a slight increase in unemployment over last year.
Case for optimism, but proceed cautiously Lots of statistics—but what to make of all this data? Clearly, the recession is a global phenomenon that has affected almost every economy. The impact has been felt differently in A conversation with a taxi driver during a trip to Europe different countries. The Asian economies, and China in particular, early this year caught me a bit off guard. I asked if people were continue to be export driven, with increasing trade within the suffering because of the economic crisis, and, to my surprise, the region. Europe is showing signs of recovery in some markets, but answer was ‘not really.’ At a time when we in the U.S. were reeling unemployment is chronic and growth stagnant. from a constant stream of news of ‘the worst economic crisis in a There are early signs of a recovery, not only in the GDP data but generation,’ the Dutch economy was doing just fine, thank you. also business sentiment, credit loosening and fairly robust recovery As it turns out, the recession truly is a global phenomenon, of most stock markets. but its impact has varied around the world. Two good For businesses considering expansion into other markets, there indicators of economic health are gross domestic product is a clear indication that it may be time to have a peek overseas for (GDP) and unemployment. opportunity. While it may take several more quarters for the U.S. to emerge from its deeper recession, several European and Asian EUROPE ASIA USA markets could be fertile ground for new products and services.
.............................................................................. UK GDP Quarterly
(versus previous quarter)
+0.9% +15% estimate
(versus same quarter in previous year)
1. Estimate (Wall Street Journal, Thursday, July 16, 2009) 2. Chinese Bureau of Statistics
Note: All data are from OECD except for China data. GDP data are based on Q2 2009/2008.
.............................................................................. Unemployment hits Europe, U.S. and Japan hard Europe and the U.S. have seen significant rises in unemployment. But the increase has been particularly fast in the U.S. due to much looser employment laws and the sheer number of high profile bankruptcies. Japan recorded the highest rate of unemployment since records began in 1953, something that may have contributed to the historical change of government there.
backand d e e F rm, advise isit
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GDP is picking up in parts of Europe and Asia; China recovers There are signs of recovery on the horizon. France, Germany, Japan and South Korea all saw slight GDP growth in the second quarter, hinting that they may be moving out of recession. Those lagging behind include the US and the UK with slight declines, reflecting both economies’ greater exposure to the banking and real estate crises. Contrast this with China. As if on another planet, GDP there rose 7.9 percent in the second quarter.This growth reflects the government’s investments in infrastructure, and increased access to credit. Most pundits are claiming the recovery is well underway in China.
v to Brains when you /Global. in m weigh lackBox.co B Inside November/December 2009 65
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Wanted: articulate and
self-motivated individual who excels at multi-tasking to plan meetings, manage projects, organize data using spreadsheet and database management software, interact with clients, vendors, and the general public, supervise the office and other staff, handle purchasing, and train other workers. Must have excellent verbal and written communications skills and ability to pitch products and services as well as provide courteous customer service. Knowledge of desktop publishing and Web site maintenance a plus.
#2 Wanted: articulate and
self-motivated individual who excels at multi-tasking to maintain direct contact with clients, prepare all correspondence, keep records, pay bills, and answer all inquiries from government agencies. Must also be familiar with payroll entry, employer tax depositing and workersâ€™ compensation policies, insurance benefits, compliance, and 401k administration. Experience with banking and fulfilling business licensing requirements a plus.
If you guessed “manager” for both, you’d only be partially correct. The first is a job description compiled from a list of skills any qualified administrative assistant should have, according to the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP). The second is the list of responsibilities currently being juggled by MaryEllen Anderson as operations manager of Sikora & Associates, Inc., a professional employer organization that provides services such as payroll, tax filing, benefit administration, (401k), Workers Compensation and personnel record-keeping to small companies.
The Gatekeeper is Dead Thanks to Mad Men—the television series that prides itself on accurately portraying office life at an advertising agency in the early 1960s—we can see that it was customary for suave Don Draper-ish execs to push an intercom button and summon a capable secretary, who would trot in with steno pad and pen, to “take a letter.” But while the global organization, now known as the International Association of Administrative Professionals created National Secretaries Week in 1952 to recognize “the secretary, upon whose skills, loyalty, and efficiency the functions of business and government offices depend,” and to call attention “to the tremendous potential of the secretarial career,” it took until 2000 to get the job title changed. Now, these job descriptions are proof that a “manager” and an “admin” could go toe-to-toe in their scope of work. Just as technology has changed the way we work, it’s leveled the playing field and blurred the boundaries of the roles within the workplace. So while you have CEOs picking up their own calls to deal with clients directly, you also have admins/coordinators/office managers handling much more complex tasks than copying and filing. (But they are still responsible for that, too.)
Now, these job descriptions are proof that a “manager” and an “admin” could go toe-to-toe in their scope of work.
Long Live the Gatekeeper
“Even before all of this technology, I was in a gatekeeper position.”
1. Open clear communication.Your
assistant or co-worker isn’t a mind reader. Make sure you are clear with expectations and open to discussions, to avoid conflict.
2. Set deadlines.Without them, things get lost. And again, see number one.
3. Deliver adequate directions.Without
them, expectation and results can be very different. Be up front, and reduce the chances of frustration or missed deadlines.
.Establish a trusting relationship. Gatekeepers can be your best source of protection and efficiency.They can also serve as the source of your downfall. Build a true relationship, and much will fall into place.
5. Empower your gatekeeper. If you want them to do the job, let them. It may mean you’ll have to give up a little control, but without a level of responsibility, they’re just playing sheep to your shepherd.
Don’t Have a Gatekeeper?
1. Keep your lines of communication open (email, cell phone,Twitter, Facebook, etc). If you can’t keep up with it all, maybe you need help (or a gatekeeper!) Without them, you are unreachable, and unknowable.
2. Get organized. Getting behind is a major source of stress when you’re on your own. Setting—and keeping—deadlines and rules can help you stay on track.
3. Get real. If your customer’s biggest
complaint is not hearing from you, take it to heart.Without the relationship, you can bet they won’t be a customer for long. By knowing your strengths and weaknesses (“I hate the phone, so I’ll be primarily accessible via email”) you can provide great service and availability to all your clients.
4. Get out there. Evaluate how your
customers—past, present and future—get in touch with you. If they all want to use email, make sure you check your inbox constantly. If they are moving toward social media, consider getting online and visible there.
5. Keep a disciplined schedule. Setting
specific times for checking (and answering!) emails, voicemails, and social media messages may be a help. Schedule your day to make sure your customers (current and potential) don’t get stuck on the backburner. November/December 2009
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Anderson considers herself a “gatekeeper,” better known as the person you need to get through in order to get to someone else (ie: the director, CEO, owner). Gatekeepers can act as a buffer, organizer, triage nurse, and in Anderson’s case, all of the above for their supervisors. “He does not want to deal with the day-to-day so I do it for him,” says Anderson, noting that as her boss is somewhat averse to technology, she manages his email and calendar. Still, she is quick to point out, “Even before all this technology, I was in a gatekeeper position.” Though technology has facilitated many office processes, from accounting to word processing, the telephone is still the communications hub for businesses. It’s one that Steve Hoffman is decidedly old-school about. Sure he’s got a BlackBerry, but the president of Skyline Exhibits and Design says if their main office line rings more than once, he’ll answer it personally. “Even if it is a junk call, I can still learn something,” he quips.
Got a Gatekeeper?
He believes most businesses today, small or large, don’t have the luxury of having a dedicated receptionist, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. At Skyline, all 15 employees are responsible for answering the phone, says Hoffman, which may lead to teaching moments for whomever answers. Even though Microsoft’s Small Business Center reports that “it costs $50 or more for a human being to answer each call, but only a few dollars for a combination of technology and human being, and pennies for self-service on the web,” Anderson agrees that a live voice is just better for the client. “People seem much happier dealing with a real person. If it’s a problem, they feel more assured of a solution when they hear it from a real person. We also have a very limited phone menu that our clients seldom even have to use, since we are vigilant about answering the phone,” she says. But it’s a fine balance between jumping for the call and letting it ring. Hannah Rogers Metcalfe, an associate with the Wyche firm, says that the legal profession is one that historically maintained gatekeepers to screen all calls. Now, accessibility to direct desk lines and cell phones has created a high level of expectation that she says can lead to headaches.
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“I like to brainstorm and rely on my network to do it. That’s how I show them I’m connected to their work and lives as well.”
“Clients expect an attorney to be accessible at all times and may not understand when they are unable to respond right away.” Metcalfe observes that attorneys are constantly juggling the immediate needs of clients while trying to resolve other work demands. For those with families and children, she says, “This can create tensions at home when mommy or daddy feels compelled to interrupt dinner or bath time to take a client call or respond to an email.”
Owners as Gatekeepers Gil Gerretsen says he’s in the “open access” camp, as much as possible. When he started BizTrek in 1994 to help small business owners master the art of competition and marketing, he didn’t have an assistant. As demand grew over the years he found he needed help.“The day before my first assistant started, I had a backlog of 170 phone calls to return. My wife said I was acting as the highest paid secretary in Greenville, doing things that could easily be delegated.” His assistant managed Gerretsen’s calendar, and fielded basic calls and inquiries, but he could add appointments and activities, as well. “I stopped using a secretary this past June, because our new technologies and program changes had eliminated the need for that role anymore. I am once again universally available,” he states. Still, Gerretsen does admit that he will outsource special tasks to virtual assistants when the need develops and that he unplugs after business hours. Christa Miller, whose small company provides web services to law enforcement agencies, can’t imagine not doing it all herself. “I started as a freelance writer, so I got used to having multiple sources or contacts and keeping in touch with them,” she says. “I wouldn’t feel comfortable handing it off to someone else—I feel like I need to represent myself and my ideas at all times.” Miller also employs social media to provide even more access to her expertise. Using her blog, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts she stays connected to existing and potential clients. “I like to brainstorm and rely on my network to do it. That’s how I show them I’m connected to their work and lives as well.” Miller says she’s observed a similar trend with the small businesses she represents. “To grow their companies, they have to learn how to respond to needs. Once they grow, they’ll be able to hand that off to employees they trust.”
On a national level, nine out of 10 of these administrative assistants are employed in service providing industries, ranging from education and health care to government and retail. Most of the rest work for firms engaged in manufacturing or construction. Even more, a quick scan of current job postings on CareerBuilder.com confirms that 19 positions are waiting to be filled within 30 miles of Greenville.With the exception of one, they are full-time spots in those same industries. So what it seems to boil down to is a matter of personal preference. Some CEOs prefer to hold court in the boardroom while their hired gatekeeper manages their appointments, answers the phone, and coordinates other projects. Others roll up their sleeves and mix it up with the rest of the staff. You are more likely to catch Gil Gerretsen with a Direct Message on Twitter, and depending on the day, you’re just as likely to catch Hannah Rogers Metcalfe by calling her direct number.
Whose Line is it Anyway? Business Black Box
Is it safe to assume the boundaries between executives and admins are so blurred, they no longer exist? Not necessarily.The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that before the economy slumped late last year, secretaries and administrative assistants held more than 4.2 million jobs in 2006, ranking it among the largest occupations in the U.S. economy. Though some may have been downsized during the latest rounds of cutbacks, it’s still a rapidly growing sector. In fact, the BLS estimates that admins will have among the largest numbers of new jobs arise—about 362,000—through 2016. They add that even more opportunities will come as workers transfer to other jobs or leave. November/December 2009
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You want to talk to whom? With today’s advances in technology, there are more ways to communicate than ever. But how do you know if you’re getting in touch with a human—or a machine? No, this isn’t I, Robot or The Matrix, but technology has taken over many of the roles traditionally held by human gatekeepers. On the flip side, other technology has also made it easier to get in touch with people who were formerly considered unreachable. So, here’s our list of some of the most common electronic gatekeepers— and “gate-jumpers.”
Electronic “Gate-jumpers” Twitter– Who are you following? Twitter is a great tool for a few different reasons. First, it’s concise, since each post is limited to 140 characters or fewer. In other words, even the longwinded have to keep it short. This micro-blogging tool also allows its users to take a “peek” into the lives of those they follow, whether those people be friends, celebrities, or people hiding behind gates!
jumper” for a few reasons, but the two most obvious are these: You can send messages directly to anyone who has an account as long as you have one too. Also, you can write on others’ walls, use Facebook chat, and connect on other levels with those who approve you as their “friend.” LinkedIn – Get ready to connect The final electronic “gate-jumper” to make our list, LinkedIn is truly the online resource for business people. Create a profile, upload your digital resume, and connect with other people for references and job opportunities. Uses: LinkedIn offers features not available from other social media geared more toward personal use versus professional “gatejumping.” Build contacts through phonebook and sources. and access personal business information for people you want to know.
Electronic “Gate-keepers” Voice Mail –I can’t get to my phone right now… You know the drill: three to five rings, no one picks up, and then,“You’ve reached the voicemail of… Please leave a message after the beep.” Uses: Thanks to “Caller ID,” people can screen their own calls and let their voice mail take calls they’re not able to take at the time. It’s a very convenient service for both the caller and the receiver, but only if the receiver listens to his or her messages and follows up accordingly. Be sure to check your voice mail periodically. Email – !, FWD:, and RE: When the U.S. Postal Service just can’t do the job, send information over the World Wide Web!
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Uses: Find out what people or businesses are up to (hint: this includes your competition!). Build relationships with clients or people you could potentially do business with. As Uses: Due to its nature, email can be considered both a for getting past the gate, the Direct Message feature is really gatekeeper and a “gate-jumper.” Since many email addresses handy for connecting with individuals! are readily available, it makes it easier for more people to get in contact with those who were once thought to be hiding behind the gates. Email is also a gatekeeper since it allows the Facebook – You’ve just been poked Another “Gate-jumper” of sorts, Facebook has recipient to check incoming messages at his or her convenience. taken the world by storm since its conception. A word to the wise: if you provide your email address to the Actually, that may be an understatement. Either public (implying they can use it), be sure to check and respond way, this online social networking directory helps to messages you receive promptly. people connect with each other, whether they are age-old friends or possible business contacts. Upload pictures, share Automated Phone System – Press one, if… links, post personal information, update your profile, send The automated phone system is probably the messages, and let everyone know exactly what you’re doing most well-known and dreaded electronic via your “status.” gatekeeper of all time. Rather than a real human answering the phone, an automated system Uses: Businesses, celebrities, and other people of relative gives callers options they may or may not want. importance can create fan pages where people can follow, comment, and receive updates—a great way to connect with Uses: Only use the automated system if no one can answer others and receive feedback as well. Personal profile pages allow the phone—make it the backup rather than the standard. Offer people to take a glance into the lives of others. Keep it as private only common needs on the automated menu, and make the or as public as desired, but keep in mind that certain things should option to talk to an individual readily available. never be made public. Facebook can be considered a “gate-
state legislature is key to your businesses success...or failure by john deworken
John DeWorken is the vice president of public policy and lobbyist for the Greenville, Spartanburg, Greer, Cherokee, Greenwood and Anderson Chambers of Commerce, serving 6,300 members through these Upstate Chambers. John is a member of the advisory council for Business Black Box, advising on topics pertaining to politics and public policy. //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
According to the National Coalition on Health Care, “The cumulative increase in employer-sponsored health insurance premiums have increased at four times the rate of inflation and wages during last decade.” Employers are faced with the crisis of using a higher percentage of its available expenditures to cover their employees with health care. Conversely, because of rising healthcare costs, some employers simply reduce its coverage of healthcare or eliminate it altogether. Regardless of which route employers take, rising healthcare costs are inhibiting job creation and capital investment. That same coalition reports that employer-sponsored healthcare has increased 119 percent over the last decade. As a result, every year, when the Upstate chambers send out their annual legislative survey to its memberships (8,000 businesses located in the Upstate), the inability of small businesses to afford healthcare is by far the number one issue they face. Both the federal and state governments have attempted to solve ailments facing the unprecedented rising healthcare costs. On the covers of newspapers, in influential blogs, and in the town hall meetings of small-town America, citizens have been extraordinarily vocal about their opposition or support of the current administration and Congress’ healthcare plan. Additionally, South Carolina’s Legislature has, in the past few years, tried to address rising healthcare costs. Some ideas promulgated by federal and state legislators will support job creation and some will not. What will be detailed in this commentary are some major legislative proposals that affect job creation. //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
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Employer mandates are a tricky proposition for employers and for the business community to evaluate. There are some that are necessary and common sense, such as making sure the workplace is safe. There are some that are divisive, such as mandating that insurance companies cover certain procedures. Knowing that the business community is usually leery of government-generated mandates (that is, there are already too many), the federal healthcare plan has in it some provisions that would make any business nervous. Though the chambers have not at this point taken a position on these mandates (the federal healthcare bill is a moving target, changing constantly), the federal plan includes mandates that employers with a certain level of payroll November/December 2009
pay up to 70 percent of the healthcare premium costs for employees. For those employers that do not cover healthcare premiums, they are penalized for not doing so by paying a percentage of its payroll tax or a flat fee. Though Congress’ intent is to increase individual healthcare coverage, most in the business community would argue that these mandates hurt job and economic growth. //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
The South Carolina Legislature took a tremendous step in 2007 by passing a bill that would allow small businesses to join together or pool to obtain more affordable healthcare.
As responsive as the South Carolina Legislature has been on tort reform, Congress has been as ineffective. Backed by the Chamber and by the National Federation of Independent Businesses, this bill allows employers with two employees or more to join together with one common insurance administrator, such as a chamber of commerce. The intent of the bill is to (1) lower administrative costs to small businesses and (2) allow small businesses to increase their negotiating powers with insurance companies. On the federal level, the chambers and the business community would agree that any national healthcare plan must include provisions that further empowers small businesses to pool together. //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
For those who are unfamiliar with tort reform, tort reform is a group of laws that works to change the civil justice system,
POLITICS B O X by bringing predictability to the way in which injured people sue and the compensation they receive. According to the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform, “the cost of the tort system to individual small businesses is $20 per $1,000 of revenue. In other words, a small company with $1 million in annual revenues will pay, on average, $20,000 in annual tort-related costs.” And collectively, “small businesses pay $20 billion of their tort costs out of pocket.” South Carolina is not unlike the rest of the United States in that tort reform is a very contentious issue, usually with the business community and the trial bar on opposite sides. Those contentious issues include reasonably capping medical malpractice, non-economic damages, and punitive damages, as well as reducing statute of repose. From the Chambers’ perspective, tort reform is necessary to advance reliability and credibility to a system that is often gamed by the personal injury lawyers who typically receive 30 percent of the plaintiff awards. Six years ago, the South Carolina Legislature passed a bill that addressed some tort issues. The Legislature reduced statute of repose from 13 years to eight, and it leveled the playing field on joint and several liability to 50 percent, it reformed provisions on venue, and capped medical malpractice. Interestingly, this year, the business community is asking the Legislature to revisit tort issues by placing caps on non-economic and punitive damages. As responsive as the South Carolina Legislature has been on tort reform, Congress has been as ineffective. Notwithstanding most of the S.C. Legislative Delegation (Sen. DeMint led the fight on tort reform every year as a Congressman and now a Senator), Congress has failed to pass any meaningful tort provisions in the last decade. With the federal healthcare plan on the table in Congress, Congress should take this opportunity to address much needed tort issues on the federal level. Many in the business community believe that any national healthcare reform plan should include tort reform. Unfortunately, so far the current administration and the current majority party in Congress has not included in its healthcare plan any tort reform measures. //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
Backs of Business
The business community, which is made up of 90 percent of small businesses, certainly contends that more individuals need to be covered by health insurance. Saying that, the business community also would contend that any healthcare plan, whether comprehensive at the national level or incrementally at the state level, should not be done so on the backs of business. Any healthcare plan should fall on the backs of every entity involved in the complex healthcare arena, spreading responsibility nd around the table. vise a isit d a , storm you v itics. Brain in when com/Pol . h weig BlackBox e d i s In November/December 2009 75
ck a b d Fee
B O X TRAILBLAZERS
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TRAIL BLAZERS 21
here is a lot of difference between theory and practice in any industry, but Tripp Muldrow found it to be especially true with city planning. On one hand, getting a masters degree in city and regional planning from Clemson meant that Muldrow, now owner of Arnett, Muldrow & Associates, got schooled in a variety of disciplines including traffic Clemson University, planning, zoning, and countywide land use. On the other, it landed him an internship 1994 Bachelor of Arts in English with the City of Greenville that allowed him to focus on what he loved most— community revitalization. City and Regional “It was the best place to cut your teeth,” says Muldrow, “because  was back 1996 Masters Planning when the West End was not quite the kind of place it is today.”That internship led to a three-year stint with the city and laid the groundwork for the practice of bringing 1995- City of Greenville, Economic economic vitality back to abandoned downtowns. 1998 Development Office “There’s no better laboratory for learning revitalization in the country than Greenville. We are the best medium-sized city in the Southeast,” Muldrow states, 1998- LDR International (Columbus, adding that it would still be a challenge to find a better example of a city with 2000 MD), Economic Development continuing development, despite the economic slump. Specialist Muldrow further honed his planning and branding skills while working for other private firms until 2002. That’s when he partnered with his brother Ben, and fellow 2000- MCA Architecture, Project Clemson alum Aaron Arnett, to create their own company specifically geared to 2002 Manager work with small- to mid-sized communities embarking on the revitalization and rebranding process. 2003- Arnett, Muldrow & Associates, Though many cities aren’t shy about expressing their desire to breathe life back Present Owner/Partner into their downtowns, Muldrow says he still has to work to change mindsets. Some still don’t believe that public money should be spent investing in a downtown ghost town.While the success of so many small town efforts what makes the concept easier to sell, Muldrow admits there is still the issue of convincing a community that a rebranding effort is worth the cost. “I tell them it is like throwing a party.You book the band, the tables are set, it’s all decorated, and then you forget to send out invitations,” he explains. By comparing rebranding to telling the community’s story in a unique and meaningful way, the invitation to create an economically viable town is signed, sealed and delivered. So far, Muldrow and company have successfully employed their techniques across 18 states and in more than 150 communities. He believes that the more steeped in history the community is, the better. Working an historical angle alongside modern development is where the creative reimagining comes in, but even so, Muldrow notes the process doesn’t take that long. “We do it in three to five days,” he says. Taking a page from the architects’ playbook, the team employs a charrette method that allows community input and creates an historical context to tap into future potential. “We think this is unique and Profile by Lydia Dishman provides instant gratification for the community to see their input transformed into product.” From there, Muldrow and partners equip the city officials with the tools to get the new brand on the street, and may even embark on creating a future plan for development. But no matter what part of the process he’s signed on to do, the driver for Muldrow is to restore economic viability to those small towns. “We use historic resources to help craft a future and create economic opportunity for the citizens. If we do that, we are succeeding in a whole form of economic development that’s innovative and unique. The small towns make America tick.”
Watch the full interview at www.InsideBlackBox.tv
TRAIL BLAZERS BLAZERS 12
Spreading the Wealth (of Expertise) Served on the faculty of the South Carolina Mayor’s Institute for Community Design Guest lecturer at Clemson University, Pfeiffer University, and the South Carolina Planning Academy Selected as part of an 18-person Kellogg Foundation Grant delegation to County Mayo, Ireland, to study sustainable tourism and community development President-Elect of the South Carolina American Planning Association Board member of Community Builders (formerly the S.C. Downtown Development Association)
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Faculty Lecturer Delegator President-Elect Board Member Commissioner Board Member
Commissioner for the Greenville Housing Authority Member of Board of Regents for Leadership Greenville November/December 2009
B O X 11 QUESTIONS 1. What was your first job?
After college, my first job was selling lumber in Miami with the 84 Lumber company. That was an interesting place to start since all of the houses were made out of concrete.
2. How did you get involved in your line of work?
My parents moved onto the campus of Miracle Hill Children’s home when I was four-years-old, and I was always attracted to it and believed I’d be involved in it. But after college I was working in the business world and three years after that, my wife really noticed the depth of the need at Miracle Hill and suggested that I go back to help.
3. What are some of the skills you developed early that you’ve found to be beneficial or essential to your practices now? One of the early ones that I probably should have learned even earlier was not burning your bridges. You encounter somebody at the store, they give you bad service, and you tell them off or you shortcut somebody because you think you’ll never see them again. Well, they don’t die after that encounter and you’re going to run into them five years down the road, 10 years down the road, 20 years down the road.
How do you strike a balance between your personal and professional lives?
I’m married to a strong woman who says, “That’s enough.” I’m a natural workaholic. Barbara’s strong and she puts her foot down, and the smartest thing I’ve ever done is listen to her. The work’s never done, but I don’t take work home at night, and I try not to stay late everyday. What I often do when I’m behind is I’ll take one night and work as late as I need to pick up the details. Then I can be home at a reasonable time the next three or four nights after that.
5. What are some strategies you use to keep yourself in check?
One strategy is that I have an accountability partner—a friend from church. We meet together once a month and hold ourselves accountable for bents in our
spiritual life, our work life, our ethical life, our family life, our physical health. We ask each other very focused questions in these areas, and I think that’s been a huge help for me.
6. What vision do you promote for your employees, and how do you get your employees to buy into or tap into that vision?
Miracle Hill has a history of stepping into new areas of service to fill compelling needs, prior to resources being available to pay for those needs because we feel God wants us to. The vision I try to convey is that if we’re sure we’ve heard from God about some service we are to provide, the funds will come as needed. I try to get them to buy into that through Miracle Hill’s leadership. When there’s a significant financial gap, we pray, we re-examine our assumptions, we look to see if we’re doing anything wrong. We clean up anything that’s inappropriate and then we hang on and wait—that often involves skipping paychecks or taking voluntary reductions in pay. But God always comes through—as He has since 1937.
7. If you could choose one principle or piece of knowledge
you know now that you wish you had known early on in your career, what would that be? I think that would be pursue the right solution rather than the one you think you can afford. And pray and work toward it rather than borrowing money and going into debt for it.
8. If you retired tomorrow and could change to any
field except the one you are in now, what would you pick?
Writing. I love writing and I’ve written one book about some answered prayer experiences called “God Works, Some Watch.” But I think I could write full-time and be completely fulfilled and revel in it. I don’t know if I could survive or make a living out of it.
9. What was your biggest failure as a professional?
I tried to put a teenage boys transitional home in a subdivision on the east side [of Greenville] and it was a total swamp and a terrible mess. In the end, we got the home open, and it closed a couple months later, but I think it did great damage with many of our contributors and with the media, and damaged the kids we were trying to serve there as well.
10. What did you do to recover from that failure?
A lot of that you just recover over time. That was late ‘90s and you just go back to doing what you do well and what you’re supposed to be doing and being consistent and living with integrity.
How do you avoid those similar failures today?
I think I’d do a lot more planning. I just believed we could just make anything work. I think I also realized even if you know what you’re doing is a very neutral thing or you know in your heart it will cause no harm, there’s some places where it’s just not worth the battle to make it happen.
B O X SPEED PITCH
Steve Gonzalez and Cutter Mitchell have a plan to usher the business card into the digital world. Does their plan have what it takes to make it big? Steve Gonzalez/ Cutter Mitchell Co-Founders, SpartX Inc.
SpartX, Inc., founded in August 2008 and launched in March of 2009, offers a sophisticated networking tool for professionals, being the first company to truly virtualize the business card. The virtual business card is just as it sounds; a business card, only online. Members, using the SpartX virtual business card designer on the SpartX website, are able to build a completely customized virtual business card, pair it with a tangible counterpart, and put it to work in the real world, networking inperson, and enhancing their business relationships through technology. With a SpartX Virtual Business Card, users are able to literally do everything they can do now with their tangible (paper) business cards. Forgoing the handshake, the standard card exchange is still possible, only now it is done digitally! Among other features, users are also able to leave their virtual business card on any website across the Web. SpartX is reviewing its technology in order to pursue patents and secure its trade secrets. Currently, SpartX has the only clickable, fully dynamic, virtual business card that successfully navigates 98 percent of all spam ﬁlters. SpartX.com offers three main virtual networking tools: The SpartX Virtual Business Card, the SpartX Card Slider, and a search feature that allows members to search for jobs and events. Both the SpartX Virtual Business Card and the SpartX Card Slider are supported by member-generated presentation information (i.e. resumes, credentials, sales sheets, and company overviews). By combining these features, SpartX provides members with all the tools they need to network effectively in the 21st century!
Brainstorm, advise, weigh in.
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What They Say... In a world going relentlessly virtual, there is certainly value in an effective and efficient way of networking and exchanging contact information, company briefs, event information, bios and resumes, and the like—so SpartX grabbed my attention right off the bat. However, I immediately ran into trouble distinguishing the proposed benefits from far more established competitors with similar purposes in mind— LinkedIn, Plaxo and the host of competitors that offer similar types of features, from Ryze to BoardEx to Spoke—all of whom are competing in roughly the same space and seeking the same type of person. And all of whom offer a free basic service with optional upgrades for nominal ongoing fees.
Couple the competitive onslaught with a growing number of users of such technologies who are increasingly upset about receiving unsolicited information and contact requests from users to add or update their contact information, and— while there is certainly interest and opportunity for a quality new entrant in this arena— it is likely to be a long haul and expensive investment to realize the summit of this space. Perhaps more of a vertical focus to targeted user groups might help SpartX gain traction and work out kinks before trying to compete with the big boys? Sam Patrick Patrick Marketing & Communications, Inc.
The digital business card is an interesting idea. However, the value is in the execution. One question that I don’t think is answered is... Why would I need a digital business card? What real world problem does it solve that a physical card doesn’t? Better organization? Quick and error-free information transfer? In my mind this leaves more questions than answers. How does it work with email? What about vCards? Does it work with Plaxo? Linked In? Facebook? my blog? How does it simplify the task of managing my contact information? The business model is not entirely clear from this pitch, but this is definitely a mass-market idea. The value of the card grows exponentially with the number of people using it. I’d suggest making it free and extremely simple for
someone to get a card by registering on your website. You can gain revenue by adding additional feebased services such as graphic design, online file storage, additional web pages, custom domains & email addresses—since most of the world still uses paper business cards, you could have a hybrid approach that provides a professionally designed paper card that includes the online business card address so that people can use whatever contact method works best for them. Also, it’s not clear what the business card slider is, or why I would want one. Is it a piece of hardware? How much does it cost, and what value does it bring? Peter Waldschmidt Gnoso, Inc.
On October 15, eighteen agents picked up a sealed envelope that contained an undetermined amount of money, and only three rules: 1. No illegal activity. 2. All participants must journal their activity. 3. Something must be returned in the envelope at the end of 30 days.
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The agents—participants of Business Black Box’s Great American Success Experiment—are part of an exclusive group; one that is being endowed with a little bit of money and a big challenge: to make something happen in 30 days or less. The winner stands to win a $15,000 marketing package to “jumpstart” their venture. They are allowed a few resources; primarily, access to a coach, who will serve as an advisor for many of their questions that naturally arise during a start-up venture. They also have access to a private group forum that allows them to collaborate with each other, as well as the staff of Business Black Box and the advisor. What they will come up with is anyone’s guess. Now, meet our “agents,” as well as the “coach” and “investor,” and make your bets on who will accomplish what. Join the discussion online in our Facebook or LinkedIn groups to chat about your perceptions or ask them questions. Then, join us in January to find out how they all did—who made it, who blew it, and who is going to change their life through it.
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HR BLACK B OX get ready, get set, hire! becoming an employer of choice
Julie Godshall Brown has spent the last 14 years running her family business, Godshall and Godshall Personnel Consultants, Inc., which specializes in direct hire and contract staffing solutions in healthcare, legal, financial, accounting, technical, and other professional markets. Julie holds a Masters in Personnel and Employee Relations from USC and a Bachelor’s in Marketing from Clemson University.
After many months of holding onto our wallets, most economists agree that businesses will soon begin hiring again. The American Staffing Association recently reported the longest upward trend in temporary employment since 2007. (Temporary employment figures have long been considered a leading economic indicator.) Additionally, other major economic indicators consistently point to a recovery. Now that the pendulum is swinging back in the other direction, it is a logical time to consider a few questions regarding how your company is perceived by top talent—the talent that your business needs to be successful in the future.
1. Does your hiring process mirror your best business practices? We tell candidates that they only have one chance to make a first impression. In a “candidate’s market” it is also important that your company makes the best first impression to the candidate. Even the most complex, multi-step hiring process can be perceived as professional and efficient, whereas, an inefficient, unresponsive hiring manager is also the face of your company to top candidates who apply. Consider ways to improve your first impression to candidates.
2. Is your company’s brand, including your core values, communicated to your target candidates? Small businesses can take notes from larger ones—the same brand that supports sales of your product or service to your customers can also sell your company to top candidates. If you have a strong brand— even locally—use it.
by julie godshall brown
Everyone wants to work for the best, and the best may not be the biggest. How do your target candidates perceive your firm?
3. How do your employees feel about your company? Are they eager to tell others about the place they work? Top talent knows top talent, and they can also help you recruit top talent. With the advent of social media, word travels fast. Your current employees are the key to your reputation as an employer of choice!
4. How is your PR? Take advantage of every opportunity to toot your own horn! If your firm wins an award, sponsors an event, if an employee receives a certification, or you land a new contract, get the word out. Prospective employees want to work for a company that is experiencing exciting things. Consider the impact of PR not only on prospective clients, but on prospective employees. Is your firm known as an expert in the field? Many opportunities exist to speak at community events and industry forums. Not only will your firm benefit from the goodwill you are providing to others, but your team will also be considered as the experts in your field—priceless! Remember: “A” players want to play on an “A” team! 5. Are you doing everything you can to ensure the success of your new hires once they sign on? Make sure that your goals for the new employee are clear. Do they understand what it takes to be successful in your company’s unique culture? Little things count: have their office space ready, order business cards ahead of time, pair them with a mentor for the first weeks or months, assign someone to take them to lunch the first day. Make sure that your company allows them every opportunity to be successful. Top talent is hard to find and hard to keep regardless of economic conditions. Given the inevitable shift to a “candidate’s market,” prepare your company to be the employer of choice for top talent.
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it's time: finally the sales appointment part 3 of 3 part series
Todd Korahais currently serves as Operating Partner for Keller Williams Realty. He 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.
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In my first column we discussed your Unique Value Proposition, which can be defined as “what sets you apart from the competition.” We also discussed the principles of Brand, which simply put is “who knows you,” as well your Position, which can be defined as “what people know you for.” In my second column, we discussed the principle of Consistently Communicating to build relationships. Above all else, make sure your communication is Valuable and interesting to your Target Market. Use that communication to pull them in, never push on them to meet or make a decision. So, if you can’t remember these last two articles, the “cliff notes” above are your cheat sheets for now. We start this column on the heels of consistent communication, in order to generate sales appointments. Now let’s discuss the best way to land an actual sales appointment. By sending marketing materials in advance, you can pique the interest potential clients by letting them evaluate your information on their schedule. After sending your materials, follow up to confirm they received them and make sure you remind them of the person who referred you to them to solidify the relationship. At that point, if they blow you off, they’re really blowing off the friend that referred you. During your follow up conversation, ask them if they like to meet during the morning or afternoon (rather than whether or not they’d like to meet at all), and let them know in advance how long the meeting will take. This lets the potential client feel like he or she is in control and prevents you from receiving a “no” right off the bat.
by todd korahais
You can control the outcome of many situations by giving contacts an “either/or” option rather than a “yes or no.” And this way they feel like they’re in control of the situation. When you arrive for the appointment, don’t “show up and throw up.” Ask questions to uncover needs; don’t promote your product or service. Remember, your job is to help uncover and solve problems people may or may not be aware and solve them with your product or service. Make sure you’ve done your homework by researching their company. Remember: “He who talks least is in control of the conversation.” Also, be sure to use the words “you” and “your” twice for every time you use the words “I” or “me.” By using these principles and knowing your product or service as well as knowing potential clients and their organization, your odds of doing business with them increase dramatically. We can summarize this column like the previous two columns with three main points: 1) Convert follow up phone calls and/or referrals into appointments, 2) Uncover needs to solve problems in order to gain market share, and 3) Provide lifelong follow up service to gain lifelong respect and more referrals. Congratulations, with the implementation of these three columns, you’ve successfully completed the sales cycle. See you in 2010.
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B O X WHAT MATTERS
avid and Stephanie Dodd have five kids—unusual, by most standards. But even more unsusual is the fact that only one (the youngest) is their biological child. The Dodds—David a past-loan processor-turned-stay-at-homedad, and Stephanie, a paralegal with Welch law firm—have been making local news since the fight in August to save Alvin, a boy in Liberia faced with a life-threatening illness. Still, the addition of Alvin to the Dodd clan is only a plus-one in a growing family whose roots grow three continents wide. Their first adoption was Maiale, from Guatemala, in 2004. Then Bo, from Liberia, in 2006. Then Laney, in 2007, again from Guatemala. Eli was born in 2008, and Alvin joined the family this year after a huge local campaign was fought to get him from Liberia to the U.S. safely. The adoptions have led to the building of a family that wouldn’t exist by traditional standards, and one that still defies logic for most people. “Most people think that we adopted out of necessity,” Stephanie says. “People honestly think ‘oh, you must have tried and tried and tried.’ But we adopted first because that’s where our hearts were.” For the Dodds, the meaning of having a blended family is, well, “nothing.” What matters to the Dodds is simple: “Family matters. Color doesn’t matter; race doesn’t matter. Whatever happens, God will help us through it.”
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The Dodds are still in need of funding for Alvin’s flight to the U.S. Visit www.savealvin.com for more information, or to help.
MATTERS Top: Stephanie and David Dodd, with Alvin, who came to the U.S. in August. Right:The entire Dodd family—Bo, David, Alvin, Laney, Stephanie, Eli and Maiale. Right bottom: A moment between Alvin and Stephanie.
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