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U.S. $5.95

The Soul of a City In the Heart of Downtown There’s a buzz on the streets of Greenville. An excitement for the new hotel in the heart of Greenville’s thriving downtown, the center of the city’s business, culture and entertainment. Combining historical architectural and chic design elements with high tech amenities such as the Courtyard Go Board and free high speed internet access, the Courtyard by Marriott Greenville Downtown hotel is the soul of the city.

Small Meetings No Small Matter

Meeting rooms featuring state-of-the-art presentation equipment.

Corporate R ate Packages Now Available

For more information or to make reservations call 864.451.5700 or visit Business Black Box

Courtyard by Marriott® Greenville Downtown 50 West Broad Street Greenville, SC 29601 T 864-451-5700

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The Measure of OUR Success... ...Is YOUR Trust.

Named one of the “Top 25 Fastest-Growing Companies in South Carolina” in 2009 Oustanding Broker of the Year Award 2002 by Registered Rep Magazine First Allied Advisor of the Year 2008 Award

Giving Upstate CEOs, executives, and investors access to potential

Investment Opportunities from around

the world.

Weir Capital’s Goal is to:

Call today.

(864) 967-9838 Securities and advisory services offered through Matrix Capital Group, Inc. Member FINRA/SIPC/MSRB and a Registered Investment Advisor. Matrix Capital Group, Inc. and Weir Capital Management, LLC, are separate and unrelated companies. Q4 2010

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• Help individual investors in striving to reach personal financial objectives • Make complicated financial decisions simple • Take only the necessary amount of risk to help clients reach goals • Give our clients access to relationships, opportunities, and products • Implement intelligent strategies that may help you preserve your principal and seek to multiply your assets


Q4 ‘ 10 every issue



36 &62 Trail Blazers: Von Frank & Nasim

KIdBiz: Useful Websites



11 12 15 80 84 96


September/October Q4 2010 2009

What Matters: Rob Dempsey

the think tank

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Big Picture: Michelin on Main


23 35 38 50 61 64 76 82 93


101 Days: SPEER Operational Technologies

CATERING...OUR PLACE OR YOURS? Holiday entertaining, business meetings and luncheons, employee recognition events, team building functions, in-home dinners, wedding receptions, cocktail parties and fundraising events for two to 2,000. We’ve done ‘em all…and more. In our restaurnats, at your homes and offices, an and lots of other cool spaces. We have the staff, experience and sheer love of entertaining to help you create a unique event. Anytime. Anywhere.

It’s never too early to start thinking about holiday parties and entertaining. Call us for ideas and menus: 232-7007. soby’s


the lazy goat

soby’s on the side

the loft at soby’s

table 301 catering

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. That’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 Managing Editor Contributing Writers

Jordana Megonigal Andrew Brandenburg Julie Godshall Brown Andy Coburn John DeWorken Todd Korahais Ravi Sastry Simone Shahdadi Tony Snipes James Thryselius Geoff Wasserman Terry Weaver


Bethany Leggett


Bethany Leggett Kelly Smith

DESIGN Creative Director Art Director Graphic Design Traffic Coordinator Photography

Chad McMillan Lisa Worsham Chris Heuvel Kaylee Seppala Lisa Worsham Wayne Culpepper/ Fish Eye Studios Brad Forth

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At the heart of every event, every blog, every magazine issue, and every documentary Business Black Box produces, you’ll find a relentless passion for connecting, advising and growing Upstate business.

Interactive Video

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BUSINESS Publisher Account Executives Accounting

Geoff Wasserman Mary Wray Conner Amy Smith Mike Zablowski



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his chest. He laughed and stated,“Well, we don’t use circuits yet, but I’m sure we will in the near future.” It seems that every year that passes brings a new or more efficient piece of technology with it. Why is it that technology always seems to be improving? I believe it is our unsatisfied desire for more. Each human is instilled with a desire to become the greatest person he can be. Ask any child what they want to be when they grow up.Although their answers may vary, most children say they want to be a policeman, firefighter, start athlete, or successful businessman. Everybody wants to be the best. I want to be the best graphic designer in the country. Granted, I have a long way to go, but I have to constantly push myself to be better.

What do you want to be when you “grow up”? What’s stopping you now? This is where you have to dig deep. Not only do I believe that we all have innate compulsions to be the best, but I firmly believe each of us has the abilities we need to accomplish our best. In order to become the best, we need aspiration, determination, and dedication. Humans are born with an incredible sense of willpower. That’s the reason we see so many new advancements in technology every day. Someone wants to be better, build better, make life better. Technology, in general, is a great example of how that drive can change the world. So what are your goals in your life? Do you have what it takes to accomplish them? Find out what you’re made of.

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When I began concepting the cover design for this issue, words like “cyborg” and “robot” ran through my mind.With the article being about S.C.’s growing Medical Technologies sector, we wanted to be able to show what was inside of someone—something you may not be able to see, but changes who they are, or the life they lead. As I spoke with Matt (our cover model, and chair of SC MedTech) during the photoshoot, he told me about various technologies used by surgeons and doctors to improve the lives of patients. I was amazed by the complexity and practicality of these “modern-day” mechanisms. I explained to him my thoughts on how I would photoshop gears, wires, and circuits into

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y son started K5 this year, entering into the South Carolina public school system. Now for me—someone who grew up in private schools—the sheer size of the public school system was amazing. More than 1,000 students (in elementary!), a school built like a maze, more papers than I could count just to get registered and figure out where he belonged—it was organized chaos at its finest. But me? I was worried about the teacher. How would she make sure my child got the best education possible? How could she help him grow up without throwing him into the world on his own? How could she ensure he wasn’t left behind somehow? How could she juggle so many students? The answer soon became clear—Incentives. Incentives. Incentives. My son gets stars when he has a good day. He knows he gets to be some-kind-of-leader when he has a great day. He knows that if he brings back the paper he’s supposed to, that he’ll get some kind of reward. Basically, the teacher knows that he’s old enough, in essence, to reward himself by good behavior. He’s old enough to know what’s right and get rewards for doing what he should. Great concept for handling students. But she doesn’t know I’m working against her.

Okay, not really. But I am, on the flip side, trying to teach him that not everything has a reward. I’m trying to teach him that You Can’t Expect Something Every Time You Do Something. Sometimes, you have to just do. Sometimes, you have to just be nice and be good because you’re supposed to. Sometimes, no one will stand there and cheer you on. Sometimes, you have to be your own cheerleader, or your own disciplinarian. Sometimes, after doing it for so long, you don’t remember that it was something you were “supposed” to do it, at all. Sometimes, life is its own reward. Sometimes, you just have to suck it up. Sometimes, no one will even notice. Sometimes, someone will. I was reminded of this as we hosted a few local restaurant owners for one of our feature articles for this issue. I watched as each of them—each a leader in their own right—made true efforts to pull out a chair for one another, pour each other some water, make each other comfortable. It was inspiring to see how they were generous and kind and considerate to each other, just as they would be for a paying customer. And I don’t even think they noticed they were doing it. But I did.

Editor, Business Black Box

Business Black Box 864/281-1323 x.1010 megonigal

Photo by Wayne Culpepper/FishEye Studios 12

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what’s happening?

Here are just a couple of things going on around the Upstate for business owners, networkers, or entrepreneurs.

• WHAT - Diversity Connections Luncheon • WHEN - November 10, 2010, from noon to 1 p.m. • WHERE - City Range Steakhouse Grill, 774 Spartan Boulevard, Spartanburg • DETAILS - Held the second Wednesday of every month, Diversity Connections luncheon is sponsored by the Chamber’s Diversity Committee. Each luncheon features a guest speaker on a variety of different topics aimed at educating professionals.  Diversity Connections also provides an opportunity for networking in a relaxed luncheon setting.  November’s guest speaker is DeLisa Dawkins with Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System discussing Image and Perception. Please contact Lee Blair at lblair@ or (864) 594-5030. • WHAT - Electronics Recycling Day • WHEN - November 20, 2010 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. • WHERE - Public Works Department, 360 S. Hudson St., Greenville


•DETAILS-TheClemsonSmallBusinessDevelopment Center is presenting a FREE tax workshop for prospective and new small business owners. The Small Business Tax Workshop contains general information about different types of business organizations, record-keeping requirements and business tax returns. This workshop is a taxpayer education program sponsored by the Clemson Small Business Development Center, the SC Business Initiative (formerly SC Women’s Business Center), the IRS, South Carolina Enrolled Agents and the SC Department of Revenue. It is directed toward the small businessperson who is starting a business or has recently started a small business in the service, retail or manufacturing area. To register for the workshop or for more information, please contact the Small Business Development Center at or (864) 370-1545.

The Best We’ve Heard... “I like w me. ork; it fa I can scina tes s i t a at it n d lo for h ours. ok - Jer ” om e K.



Get connected by listing your event for FREE on our Business Black Box master business calendar:

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• DETAILS - The Electronics and Fluorescent Tube/ Bulb Recycling Event is sponsored by the City of Greenville Solid Waste Division at 360 S. Hudson Street. The event is set for Sat., Nov. 20, free to city residents and businesses. Items accepted: computer monitors, keyboards, mice, CPUs, etc. (all things that plug into a computer), fluorescent bulbs, tubes, ballasts, etc. For more information, call (864) 467-8300.


• WHAT - IRS SMALL BUSINESS TAX WORKSHOP • WHEN - November 4, 2010 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. • WHERE - Greenville Technical College Admissions Office (McAlister Square)Room 2, 225 South Pleasantburg Drive, Greenville

Lots more to see at

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Simply fill out the form and we’ll get your event posted to the calendar.

Q4 2010



Between the Pages


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What we read: Making Ideas Happen, by Scott Belsky, 2010 The Gist: Making Ideas Happen is based on the idea that creative people have a hard time actually getting anything done. Created by the same guy who created Behance (one of our favorite sites—, the book is a black-and-white form of the same stuff they teach all the time. The theory is this: Because it takes process to take a great idea to full execution, and many creatives see process as too restrictive. This book helps a creative person create a process that works with their workstyle and creative flow—one that actually helps them take their ideas off the board and into real life.

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Business directory

How it’s Written: The book is easy to read and captivating once you get into it, but we found it hard to pick back up again if you put it down. Our suggestion: take a day to read it cover to cover—it can change your entire workstyle and productivity level once you finish.

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Great if: You have a lot of great ideas, but they are all in your head. Or in a giant pile of papers and notes on your desk.


Don’t miss: “TheTao of the Follow Up,” which takes a look at how to keep projects moving, even when they are off your mental plate. Our Read: Whether you consider yourself a “creative” or not, this book has a great way of helping everyone devise a system that works and helps them get their innovative ideas into a workable place.

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Native Meats

Native Meats partners with small South Carolina farmers to raise and sell 100% grass-fed beef and lamb and pastureraised pork and poultry. Our meat is free of antibiotics, steroids, growth hormones and animal by-products. Not only is Native Meats a healthy choice, but an economically wise choice, as it gives small farmers a chance to get their product to market and stimulates the local economy.





Put it on the Calendar… ER



November 2, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. S.C. General Election

Offices on the Ticket: Governor Lt. Governor Secretary of State State Treasurer Attorney General Comptroller General State Superintendant of Education Adjutant General Commissioner of Agriculture U.S. Senate U.S. House of Representatives, all districts State House of Representateives, all districts

SAY WHAT? It seems, these days, that a lot of people are talking about small businesses—whether it’s regarding legislation, policy, or even the claim to “fight for small businesses.” But what does being a “small business” really mean? Well, if you look at the Small Business Administration’s definition of a small business (which just so happens to be the definition that most speakers and politicians use), you’ll find that it is defined as a company under 500 employees. Say what? Here in South Carolina, we have businesses WAY smaller than that! It seemed a little off, so we pulled the numbers. According to 2007 Census data, 99 percent of the businesses in South Carolina are “small.”

# of employees

Check for more information on candidates, polling locations, and more.

The Best We’ve Seen... Kudos to Fairway Outdoor Advertising

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(@FairwayOutdoor) for their use of their digital boards for service in times of local Amber Alerts. In case you haven’t seen them, Fairway suspends advertising in times of a local child abduction alert, replacing the ad with stats and a photo of the child. This definitely caught our attention!


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These days, being innovative and fresh is the best way to get customers to notice you. So tell us: what’s the most innovative thing you’ve ever seen a business or an organization do? How did they get your attention?


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Two full length canoes strapped on top of a smart car.These I remember several years ago, a local manufacturer canoes were hanging three feet off the little car from bumper to bumper.The smart car belonged to a gentleman named Jeff Bannister and his company logo was on the car, I personally witnessed over 25 people stopping and staring. Many even took pictures. This phenomenon definitely caused broca, the part of your brain to do a double take.

of kayaks and personal watercraft bought a stretch limo and mounted a couple of their products on top. It was a very eye-catching mobile billboard. If memory serves, that same year I saw a news report that had named them one of the top 10 companies to work for in the Upstate. James Holloway South East Installation Service

Ken Flournoy Ken’s Plumbing

A few years back, a bass fishing tournament in New England used a huge realistic fiberglass fish head that was mounted on a spring base in the back of a pick-up... as the truck moved along the road, the fish jolted back/forth and looked like it was fighting on a line... too realistic.... and very cool... totally captured the excitement of the event! Matt Stocking

I was given a koozie by a insurance salesman once and that just blew me away!

Darron Meares Meares Auction Group

“So here are some of the things I think of as innovative— they were big ideas, and they’ve had big results.”

Seriously though, the Nestle Crunch Hotline was great fun when it was up. They had the normal automated attendant, but they added other options. “Press 5 for Pig Latin”,“Press 6 for a joke”... I called it a few times, gave out the number to friends, posted it to social media. That is my idea of cool, when customers are talking about you and giving your number out! Come to think of it, I would like a Nestle Crunch bar now... John Hoyt Homeland Secure IT

It’s not always the big things that get my eye. Domino’s

C-SPAN, created by Brian Lamb as

a cooperatively funded service to the public, was and still is the only window on whatreally happens in government —not opinion or analysis, not news, but eyes on the process —the public’s only real chance to see Congress in action and decide for itself what they like and don’t— no spin, ever! Another example—osseointegration—laid the foundation for titanium dental implants, and once again, an assault on the status quo. Here, in order to circumvent the old way, a new approach to referrals was created, and for the first time oral surgeons gained referrals from gastroenterologists (implants aid diet and digestion), gerontologists ( no teeth is aging and demoralizing), psychologists and psychiatrists ( lost teeth = lower self esteem). I know that for some folks innovation is as simple as painting their boy baby’s room yellow instead of blue—but if we do not start holding ourselves to a higher standard soon, South Carolina will have missed an all too small window of opportunity. We seem to make fitful starts toward realizing our potential, then slip back into a comfort zone of mediocrity, congratulating ourselves that we at least considered moving an inch toward greatness.   Virginia Simpson Simpson & Partners Join the discussion! Join our group— Business Black Box—on LinkedIn to give us your feedback on this and many other subjects! Q4 2010

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stole my business the first time I ordered online with them. They have a status bar that shows you each stage of your pizza’s creation, along with the crew member that is preparing it. Silly maybe, but it makes it personal and engaging. TJ Rumler AutoBank

It was in Kentucky... a breast cancer group had a billboard with a little girl and the phone number of the group. The thought bubble over the little girl read,“find a cure before I get boobs!”


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Q4 2010

LAW health care reform and you


by andy coburn

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.


This column is for those of you who so fear and/or detest health care reform that merely hearing or seeing those words makes you change the channel or turn the page. Since the most basic summaries of health care reform are 10 to 20 pages long, we can’t make you an expert in one column, but we can highlight some key points for employers. Changes that you have to accept. For employers who have health insurance policies (vs. being self-insured), many of the new requirements will be implemented by your insurance carrier. They will simply present you with a revised policy that reflects the new health care reform requirements, such as the new prohibition on requiring participants to pay anything for basic preventative care.

who fail to offer certain minimum coverage, the “Cadillac” tax on expensive health coverage and state health care exchanges. 2014 is after the next Presidential election. I would not count on outright repeal of health care reform, but substantial changes are possible depending on election results and other factors, so stay tuned. Cost. The national consulting firm Mercer estimates that in the near term, health care reform will increase employer health care costs by four to six percent above the “normal” increases that employers would otherwise suffer. Cost containment was the health reform goal that got kicked to the curb in the political struggle to get a health reform bill passed. Over the longer run, estimates are all over the place. Many are concerned that health reform as enacted requires Congress to approve significant Medicare cuts, cuts of a magnitude that Congress has historically refused to make, and that the mandate for healthy individuals to get health insurance has such weak penalties that they will just pay the penalties and simply get health coverage when they become sick.

Changes that you have to implement. Some of the new requirements require action by employers. For example, you are generally required to give employees notice in writing 60 days in advance of any material changes to their health insurance coverage, including changes to the employee cost of coverage. To accomplish that, employers will, for example, need to get renewal notices from insurance carriers much earlier so that if employees will have to pay more, the employer can issue the notice 60 days prior to the new plan year. Another example is that employers will have to report the value of health coverage on employee W-2 forms (although this will not make health coverage taxable income). “Grandfathered” plans. You may have heard that existing health plans can be “grandfathered” and thereby avoid health reform requirements. If you are interested in claiming grandfather status, you need to understand the following: First, you obviously need to check with an expert and make sure your plan can qualify as a grandfathered plan. Second, a grandfathered plan is not exempt from all health reform requirements, so you better understand which apply and which don’t.Third, there are a lot of ways that you can lose grandfather status. Again, you need expert advice if you want to maintain grandfather status. Many changes apply now. Many health reform changes apply for health plan years beginning after Sept. 23, 2010. For calendar year plans, that means changes are effective for 2011, but that means employers need to prepare now to ensure that they will be in compliance when 2011 arrives. Certain major changes do not apply until at least 2014. Fortunately, some of the most significant changes do not take effect until 2014 or later. This includes the excise tax on larger employers

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By Andrew Brandenburg Q4 2010


Looking at Bernell King Ingram’s resume, you see many pieces that may not, at first, seem like they fit together. She’s an entrepreneur. Her business, Visions International, is turning 10 years old this year. What does she do? She’s a career and life coach, and she also teaches Japanese and works with businesses in diversity training. The purpose for both of these focuses, though, is much deeper for Ingram.“My company has two divisions: small business development and language and intercultural services,” she explains. “The company as a whole offers coaching, consulting and training, and our goal is to help people become the person their vision requires. So whether that’s their personal vision or business vision, we help people develop themselves.” Ingram’s passion lies there, in helping people actuate their ideas and dreams, so they can build a better career and life for themselves.

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The Unexpected Path


Ingram admits that her first steps toward entrepreneurship and her life today was unplanned, but even more random were her first steps into studies of Japanese. “It was very arbitrary on my part—it wasn’t planned or logical,” she says. “During my junior year in high school, one of our English teachers was fluent in Japanese and wanted to offer it as a class, so she went through the process to get it certified in Greenville County.” The ironic part, though, is that it wasn’t Ingram’s first choice to begin studying Japanese. It was just a simple idea, branching back to fond memories from earlier in her childhood when her family would long-term host a sailor who used to travel to Japan. “He’d come home once a year for about a month, bringing these strange artifacts and this strange food, and all I thought was that it was strange,” Ingram remembers. “I never thought about Japan after that—I never had an interest for it.” Fast-forward back to high school, where she sealed her fate by bringing up the upcoming Japanese classes to one of her teachers. “I made the mistake of mentioning this to my keyboarding teacher,” Ingram says. “I mentioned to her that I might take Japanese, and she said I should take the class.” Ingram says she wasn’t driven in high school, though, so she wasn’t initially sold on the idea of taking an extra class—especially a foreign language—during her senior year of high school. “I was an apathetic student,” she explains. “I didn’t like to challenge myself—I preferred to stay in the regular classes and make my A, and all I needed to graduate was English so I said, ‘I’m taking English and I’m getting out of here; I don’t need anything to stress me out or perplex me this last year of high school.’” Ingram’s teacher didn’t let her off the hook quite so easily, though. “She got so sick of my apathy,” she says. “One day she looked at me and said, ‘Ingram, just take the class.’ And it put fear in me. I said, ‘Okay.’ Because she had never responded to me that way. She always was the model teacher trying to challenge and encourage students, and she was always pushing me to go further, but she saw what I didn’t see.” The decision changed the direction of Ingram’s life, even though she didn’t see it right away. For the meantime, though, Ingram did enjoy learning the language. “I enrolled, and I loved it,” she says. “I Q4 2010

fell in love with the language and culture, and really it was my first true introduction—to what, I had no idea.”

Next Steps In similar fashion to her jump into Japanese studies, Ingram hadn’t initially planned to study business. “I was accepted into Clemson for computer science, and during the summer orientation I found out how much calculus I was going to have to take, and I hate calculus,” she says. “I hate math, period, when it gets beyond the basics.” Her lack of passion for advanced mathematics led her down the hall to her advisor’s office in search of a change in major, and while Ingram she knew she didn’t want to take math, she hadn’t decided what she did want to study in its place. “One of the counselors asked, ‘What are you interested in doing?’” Ingram says. “I said, ‘I’ve thought about business.’ But my whole reference to business was dreams from middle school with my friend of being a business woman and wearing a business suit and having my corner office—which I’m still working on.” Ingram and the adviser begin sifting through potential business majors, finally landing on one that catches Ingram’s attention. “She started telling me about all of their business programs, including their international business program,” Ingram remembers. “She started talking about all of the languages, and she mentioned Japanese, and I said, ‘I just took that—sign me up for that one!’” After that, Ingram followed the same four-year process most college students follow. “I enrolled and took Japanese every semester,” she says. “It was synonymous to a double major, since I had to take all of the business classes, as well as those in international business and Japanese.” Ingram did distinguish herself though the process, however, becoming the first student to graduate from Clemson with that degree. “I became a Clemson Women’s First,” she says.

Staying on Track She had the right idea in mind: get through high school, go to college, graduate with a degree, get a job and live happily ever after. Right? Not exactly. “No one would hire me out of college,” Ingram says. “They said I was either over-qualified, or they were looking for more traditional majors, or they thought that I would not be committed to their company long-term, if I found an opportunity to use my language in an international background.” So the job search continued for Ingram. She applied for job after job after job, hitting brick walls, receiving “No” after “No.” Through an unlikely chain of events, though, Ingram struck gold, although she didn’t realize it right away. During this time, Ingram’s father came into contact with a local minister who recommended that Ingram meet with a local professional he said was “just a woman of wisdom.” “I was very hesitant to meet this lady,” Ingram admits. “And this

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on vision

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“ 30

A force, strength or energy, especially of an exceptional degree, that forces you onward, carries you through strongly, drives, urges and pushes your actions toward or to a predestined purpose.


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9-to-5 job. “What has kept me with being an entrepreneur is I don’t think there’s anything else I do well,” she says. And it’s that inspiration that fuels her work to help her clients grow and develop their careers and businesses. “With my clients, I experience so much success. I love this quote by Dr. Martin Luther King: ‘I have not become who I am until you have become you are.’”

Eyes on the Road Ingram’s business and passion features an entirely separate facet, in addition to career coaching and development: language studies and culture studies. And she offers these to both local individuals and companies, as well as to expatriates and their families. “That’s something I’ve really developed my company around: not only teaching the language skills they need, but also supporting them throughout their expatriation and really developing a relationship with them and being what I like to call a good citizen,” Ingram explains. “They are in our country, and when they haven’t had experience or speak the language, it can be very challenging day to day, and I’ve seen severe situations that have almost lead to being suicidal or having to be repatriated because they were a danger to themselves or other people.” Much of the passion Ingram has for this part of her business she has gleaned from her time overseas. While she was studying for her undergrad at Clemson, her program took her to Japan for the first semester of her senior year, where she experienced her own form of expatriation. Her time with clients far exceeds mere language and culture studies. “That’s one of the focuses that I take: I’m also here to support you if you need a dentist or don’t know how to go to Walmart,” she explains. “I’m there to support them as a good citizen and neighbor.” Ingram shares story after story of the, not only the impact that she’s had on the lives of clients and their family members, but of the impact that they, in turn, have on her and her business. “It’s not just language training,” she continues. “It’s about that person and the reason that they have that goal and the challenges they face and the expectations they have placed upon them.”

The Continued Journey Visions International celebrates its 10th year in business this year. This milestone marks a special change for Ingram, though, in addition to the business itself. Seeing her business grow and succeed for this long has solidified her decisions and her future. “I have grown to love entrepreneurship,” she says. “I really got to the point this year that it became reality and truth for me that this is me. I’m not going back.” And as Ingram and her business continue to move forward, there are new offering on the horizon for the Upstate—and possibly the world. “We’re entering a new season of offering more language courses and hiring teachers for that,” she says. “I still enjoy teaching my students: professionals and executives all the way down to middle Q4 2010

Business Black Box

minister actually called her on my behalf and set up an appointment for me.” So Ingram took the opportunity to meet Dr. Debra King, PhD, LPC/S, a licensed professional counselor, psycology professor and now interim CEO of Foothills Community Health Center. King advised her to update her resume, find a mentor and pursue an apprenticeship, and then took Ingram to a group of professionals where she could hopefully meet a potential mentor. It was also during this time—and before Ingram could put into action King’s advise—that Ingram’s faith was both tested and strengthened. “Through prayer when I was down to my last $100, I said, ‘Lord, I have nothing left. What am I supposed to do?’ And He said, ‘Call Dr. King and ask her to be your mentor,’” Ingram recalls. “So I did, and she said she’d be delighted.” Following even more nos and letdowns, Dr. King mentioned a different opportunity with potential. “I met with my mentor, who talked to me about entrepreneurship, and I didn’t give it any thought at that time,” she says. “I went back to the computer lab and did what she told me to do: applying for jobs until 11 p.m.” It was this time that Ingram began considering starting her own business, since she kept meeting closed door after closed door. Although she had not considered it previously, one of the key things King had shared with Ingram related to entrepreneurism: if you can’t find it the job you’re searching for, create it. “That night I was thinking about ideas, and I heard the Lord say, ‘Write it down,’” Ingram says. “I was writing from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m., and everything that I wrote became my business plan I’m living today.” That’s not to imply everything that followed was smooth sailing, though. “Every door was closed and slammed in my face, so I had to create a job for myself,” Ingram says. “I had no money, no resources—nothing but a vision and some skills that I could assemble to make it happen. And also, I had a mentor and other people who have supported me along the way.” Working to develop the ideas she wrote that night, Ingram began to build her business. “What I wrote that night was professional and career development and Japanese teacher,” she says. “I didn’t know what coaching was—many people didn’t at that time—and that was the direction I started to take, but the doors were just not opening.” Ingram kept pursuing this new idea, though. “I didn’t know what to call myself—I’m not a consultant, and I’m not a mentor, but I was doing coaching and not even knowing it,” she says. And then she struck gold. “I read an article in the Greenville News, and it talked about professional coaching and gave a reference to one of the governing boards that was trying to bring shape and regulations,” she recalls. “It talked about a training school, and I said, ‘That’s what I am!’ So I began researching and studying, and when the timing was right, I invested in a formal training program at an accredited school working toward certification.” From that discovery, Ingram’s business grew and took shape, and clients began to follow—many of them similar to her. “I noticed that the people that were attracted to me during that time were entrepreneurs,” she explains. She began to help people build careers the way she did—through discovering how to turn passion into a business and utilizing the proper inherent and transferable skills to make it a reality. “I know somebody says along the way—although we never quite seem to get it—to think about what you have, because skills are so transferable,” she says. “Ask yourself, ‘What do I love to do? What am I good at? What do people say I’m good at?’” Since beginning her business, it has continued to grow, and she’s never taken an opportunity to leave—even for a convenient, secure


school students.” The new language offerings Ingram is currently pursuing are Chinese and Spanish, with the possibility to expand further in the future. Additionally, Ingram is currently in the works to help her entrepreneurial clients bring their dreams to light from a financial perspective. “I’m working with some clients on the development of the start of a microloan program that will serve the six-county Upstate region, helping clients expand their capacity to reach their vision,” she explains. “I’m working to help small businesses get access to the financing and expertise they need to start their businesses.” It’s Ingram’s mission to give her clients the means and the path to make their dreams possible—to give them vision. Fueled by her own past and successes, she’s more than qualified.

Milestones August 2000 Visions International started with zero capital August 2000 Mentoring relationship began with Debra A. King, PhD, LPC/S June 2002 Relocated business to Greenville, SC July 2003 Began Microenterprise Development Consulting and Training for city governments and non-profits August 2003 Expanded to offer language and intercultural coaching and training services October 2003 Licensed in Christian Ministry 2005 Published TheVisionary’s Guide to Small Business Development 2005 Clemson Women Firsts: The First Clemson Student to Graduate in Japanese and International Trade May 2006 U.S. Small Business Administration Certified Technical Assistance Provider for Community Express Loan Program. To date over $518K secured in working capital microloans for SC entrepreneurs December 2006 Graduate of Coach U Inc.’s Professional Coach Training Program 2003-2007 Company grew by 45% each year February 2007 Upstate Black History Maker by WJMZ Radio Station August 2007 Greenville Magazine and Greenville First’s Best & Brightest 35 and Under Class of 2007 October 2007 Expanded support and services for women entrepreneurs with SC Women’s Business Center October 2008 Gone the Distance Clemson University Women’s Leadership Award December 2008 Company grew by 32% February 2009 Implemented environmental solutions with implementation of online business training July 2009 Acquired International American English Programs ( October 2009 Lead the SC Women’s Business Center Upstate Office to be the top producing office of the statewide operation for two years with over 200 clients consulted resulting in over 37 new businesses started, over 56 jobs created, over $5.6 Million change in sales, over $433K existing business growth in sales, over $189K SBA and bank loans received, over $269K owners investments and over $3K other investments.

Business Black Box

December 2009 Japanese Level 3 Certification


December 2009 Company grew by 13% January 2010 Created 1st job August 2010 Created 1 additional job April 2010 Clemson University’s 2010 Young Alumnus of Merit

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October 2010 Rotary International Group Study Exchange Scholar – Kanagawa, Japan

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6 steps for steadily increasing orders

Terry Weaver is the owner and CEO of Chief Executive Boards International, a peer advisory community for successful business owners and CEO’s. He is also the national CEO of Peer Advisory organization. Terry has held many leadership positions, such as Divisional VP for Johnson Controls, Inc., President/COO, of KEMET Corporation, and director of two Japanese Joint Ventures. He is also founder of Metaprise Consulting and Delta Resource Group.

If your plan is to grow your business, you’ve probably asked,“How am I going to steadily increase my incoming orders year after year?” Chances are, what you need is a selling system­ —a repeatable process for producing a steadily increasing flow of orders, quarter after quarter, year after year. Most companies don’t have such a system— they get lazy when orders are plentiful and then when orders are scarce they scramble to close on an insufficient number of proposals. The alternative? A disciplined, proactive, pipeline-style process that keeps delivering new business. What are the major sections of that pipeline?

1. Lead Generation

A repeatable process for finding those who might need your product or service. Identifying “suspects” is the “weakest link” in most selling systems. Think website, networking, direct mail, telemarketing, advertising, , industry events, speaking opportunities, referral sources, social networking, door-to-door discovery calls— whatever works for you.You need to keep this pump primed every month to ensure a steady flow of potential clients.

by terry weaver

5. Closing

Getting a prospect to say “yes,” “no,” or “not now.” While you’d like a “yes,” a “no” saves you a lot of potentially wasted time.

6. Farming

Maintaining and renewing your company’s visibility with the “not now’s.” Some orders are gone for good and someone else gets the business. Most lose out to alternatives— the most prevalent being the status quo when the prospect does nothing. An effective reminder process keeps your proposal in play with the “not now’s.” This is where your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system pays for itself. How does your selling system work? What you’re looking for is the “weakest link” in this process—the bucket that often goes dry and then results in a slack month of new orders. Work on only that part, and then look for the next weakest link. Stay tuned— we’ll visit these one or two at a time in future issues.

2. Opportunity Development

When suspects turn themselves in and agree to hear more about what you have to sell, the fun begins.Your lead generation process, if it’s working right, provides a steady flow of leads where you can look for a fit between a need or a want and your product or service. Once you spot a match, you have a prospect.

3. Qualification

4. Proposal

A specific selling proposition to which a prospect can say “yes.” When done right, a proposal is just a formalization of an alreadydone deal. Rookie sales people generate a lot of proposals. Pros don’t bother, until they’re close to a “yes”.

ck a b d Fee m, advise andisit

th ou v stor Brain in when y om/Grow c . h x ig we kBo eBlac Insid Q4 2010

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This process means sorting out the “best few” prospects from the many suspects. Perhaps better described as disqualification, you must identify non-prospects and waste no time on them. Most sales people try to get everyone to buy; the really good ones figure out quickly how to spot people who won’t buy, leaving valuable time for those who will. Define your “ideal customer” and pursue only the leads that match.


Business Black Box


Photo by Wayne Culpepper/FishEye Studios Q4 2010


aron von Frank and his fiancée, Susan Sebotnick, didn’t know what to expect when they chose to pass through Greenville while vacationing a few years back. Plenty of changes and renovations had occurred since they had lived here—Sebotnick as a resident growing up and von Frank as a Furman student. “We went to Falls Park and 2000 Aaron graduates from Furman were walking down Main Street and around downtown, and the University with a B.A. in Political energy and enthusiasm—the culture—took us in,” he recalls. Science The changes that came with downtown’s recent renovations were compelling enough to lure the couple from sunny Charleston, bringing changes of their own. 2002 Aaron begins REQuest Real Estate Agency with his brother Jared, “If you love some place, it really makes you want to see it get better and improve,” which continues for four years von Frank explains. “We also understand that all the work the went into a place like Falls Park, in comparison to what it used to be, gives you an appreciation for all the 2006 Aaron moves to Charleston, S.C. work and love that people put into something.You sort of feel like you’re a steward and have a responsibility as a citizen to help take that talent and run it forward and pass it on to the next person coming along.” 2008 Aaron and Susan move back to Greenville Von Frank’s role as community cultivator started with a simple but powerful website: Home to an impressive variety of “ideas worth spreading,” TED provides information and inspiration to the online community, and both von 2010 Aaron is involved in several community events, including: Frank and Sebotnick took part. “TEDx sort of kicked it off,” von Frank recalls. TedxGreenville and Google on TEDx events offer communities the opportunity to create TED-like local, Main in March, a flash mob in live events. “It showcases all the people doing interesting things here,” von Frank Falls Park, and, most recently, explains. “If we can bring these people to the surface and bring national people the Social Story Conference. along side them, it’s sort of showing Greenville to itself and showing the world what Also, Aaron joins Susan’s business Greenville is like too.” Both von Frank and Sebotnick took part in the local effort to BitTyrant, a company for “brand make TEDx a reality for Greenville, which took place on March 5, 2010, now with strategy and implementation,” as another event for 2011 on the way. president TEDx Greenville was only the first step. Following that came Google Fiber— Google’s opportunity to the US to equip one US city with ultra-high speed broadband networks for testing. One of the main criteria Google would be looking 2011 Aaron is planning the 2nd TedxGreenville event for March for was community involvement, sparking the idea for “Google on Main,” Greenville’s 18 at the Peace Center offering. “We were a few days from having the TEDx event,” von Franks says, which added to the intensity of the situation. “We saw the potential to be recognized on a national level. It was something we thought would be really cool.” Taking part in the planning, von Frank helped the city pull together this feat, involving more than 2,000 participants and appropriately-colored glow sticks. More recent endeavors include a flash mob water gun fight earlier this summer at Falls Park, as well as something new the pair has in the works. “We’re planning this thing called Social Story Conference, which is a series of conferences around the country. It’s basically master story tellers, marketing Profile by Andrew Brandenburg professionals and social media practitioners creating movement around these events.” The brain child of local social media personality Trey Pennington, the aim of these events is to harness the power of real-life stories in order to produce real marketing on a social level, rather than solely seeking the impersonal instant RIO. Whimsically named the “Cat Herder” by Sebotnick for his ability to garner friendships between the most unlikely of personalities, von Frank’s strength lies in his relationship building; his mission lies in his love for Greenville and working to make it a better, more well-known and diverse community to live in and enjoy. “People are thrilling,” von Frank says. “Understanding where everyone is coming from and ultimately getting them to connect and go in the same direction is what I work to do.”


2,200 20 3

Number of people (accompanied with glow sticks) who appeared downtown for Google on Main in March Number of speakers and performers for TedxGreenville The early-morning hour one Friday when Susan thought of the Flash Mob idea that took place three days later


Number of people in the sold-out Warehouse Theater for the Social Story Conference


Number of Twitter followers for @aaronvonfrank


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The facts:

Days of planning for Google on Main Q4 2010



how to stop the noise

Geoff Wasserman, CEO and president of Showcase Marketing and Publisher of Business Black Box, spends most of his business time advising and consulting with business and ministry leaders developing growth strategies. Before starting Showcase Marketing in 1999, Geoff spent seven years in sports marketing with the Montreal Expos and the Atlanta Braves, and seven years as managing director in the financial service industry with two Fortune 500 Companies.

Business Black Box

A crazy thing happened a couple weeks ago. My SUV decided, periodically, to randomly blow its horn. Yes, you heard me correctly. The SUV decided, on its own. Not me...I promise, I never touched it. Now, I’m not the most mechanically inclined person, nor have I spent a lot of time under the hood of a car, but I’m quite sure the horn’s not supposed to randomly start blowing the way it did that week. The first time it happened was during rush hour outside our studios, at the light, with hundreds of cars waiting as I made the turn. And watching. I was sitting at a red light at a crowded intersection, with a car in front of me. Off went the horn, for no apparent reason other than to draw humilating attention to me. The next day, at another intersection two miles away, as I was driving through, the horn starts blowing again. Imagine the looks I got (and a few gestures!). Over a period of two weeks, this continued to happen over a dozen random, unpredictable times. It seemed as if the SUV had a mind of its own, and chose the busiest intersections, sounding off just long enough for people to let me know their feelings toward me in their own delightful way, as if I was intentionally blowing the horn to let them know I was coming through and they should let me through. Here’s the irony—my car’s a critical part of me functioning throughout my day, to fulfill both personal and


by geoff wasserman

professional responsibilities. However, I began feeling a hesitation to even want to drive the very thing designed to help me accomplish my goals. Finally, I stopped my hectic week and pulled into the dealership’s service department. As is with most auto repairs, the conversation went a little like this: “Blah blah blah, we need a day to look into it, hundreds of dollars to explore the problem before we even fix it. “Or…the other option, for now, Mr. Wasserman…see this fuse? I can disconnect it for free until you have a full day to bring it in.” Yep, you guessed it. Problem solved. Ten minutes, zero dollars. Opportunity to temporarily disconnect from a noise that had begun to tear at the very fiber of my soul...priceless. I didn’t drive the car off a cliff (although the thought crossed my mind!)…I didn’t stop driving. I didn’t stop staying focused and running full speed ahead, and I didn’t let it shut my life down or rob my joy…but I did temporarily unhook the minor that had become a major. I love driving again. No random, disturbing noise. No hesitation to drive for fear of the noise. No anxiety. No people staring at me judging me by the noise they randomly heard as I passed by them. Sure, I can’t honk reactively at people who cut me off to express my concern. A small price to pay for peace. That got me thinking…for anyone, but especially for leaders: What disruptive “minor” has mushroomed into a major noise, anxiety creator in your life that’s become a disruptive force in the middle of your purpose, relationships, and vision? Maybe temporarily unhooking from it…not permanently, but long enough to remember the peace you had prior to it…can give you a new perspective, and renew your passion for what you’re doing.

ck a b d Fee advise and Q4 2010

it , ou vis s storm Brain in when y om/CEO c . h x ig o e w kB eBlac Insid

A “With ITOR, the future of cancer care is now.” Joe J. Stephenson Jr., M.D. ITOR Medical Director

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Majestic Lighting Design, Greenville, SC


York Constructors, Inc., Greenville, SC


Eventscape, Toronto, Ontario

Merchandise Displays:

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Opto, Chicago, Ill.


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Michelin on Main Architect:

Neal Prince Architects, Greenville, SC



550 S. Main St. #102 Greenville, SC 29601 (864) 241-4450 Open Mon to Thurs 10 to 5 Fri and Sat 10 to 7 Sun 12 to 5 Interesting Info: •With few exceptions, Michelin on Main’s components were all made locally.


D & B Glass, Inc., Greenville, SC

• The store also serves as event space; it can hold up to 100 people comfortably for receptions or business meetings. • Michelin on Main is also the home of WSPA 7’s “Scene on 7” with Kimberly Kelly as well as “Your Carolina” with Jack Roper and Kimberly Kelly.

Display Wall:

Eventscape, Toronto, Ontario

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Photos by Wayne Culpepper/ FishEye Studios Q4 2010


And while South Carolina is nowhere near Massachusetts or Minnesota in terms of that population of medical technologies, activity like St. Jude Medical’s $60 million purchase of 19 percent of Atlanta-based medical device company CardioMEMS (with the potential to purchase the rest for $375 million more), shines a very distinct light on the Southeast. Business Black Box

Yet as the region begins to define itself as an emerging hub, the Upstate, if not the entire state of South Carolina, has recently reached a point of critical mass. The collection of industryspecific businesses in the Upstate has created a community of organizations who can both partner and compete with each other, and can challenge and grow each other simultaneously.


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The definitions of medical technology and its devices are both vague and specific. While they fall under the larger umbrella of the life sciences industry—represented in South Carolina by the organization SC BIO—the term “medical technology” more specifically relates to those life sciences related to the medical realm. By that same token, while the life sciences industry receives representation and advocacy from SC BIO, the medical device and technology field in South Carolina is further represented by South Carolina’s Medical Device Cluster, also known as SC MedTech.

must be attained for production, and those materials processed into a useable form. Subcomponents of the device or product must be manufactured, then the device itself. Finally, the final product must be packaged, processed (usually sterilized) and distributed. It’s through this supply chain that medical devices go from being mere ideas to products available on the market. Take a close look at this chain in its entirety, and you’ll see that it offers the first sign that the Upstate, as well as all of South Carolina, has reached this point of critical mass in the industry.After all, each of the steps within this supply

“The first thing you want to think about regarding medical technologies in South Carolina is manufacturing—South Carolina has always been good at manufacturing things.” chain must be provided for, and many times, they include a number of different companies within the medical technologies sector. “The great thing about this area and this state is that you can find examples of excellence at every step in this chain here, and they’re there because they grew up organically and were competitive,”

Information provided by SC MedTech

Gevaert says. “If there are enough of those in an area, they create a kind of synergy, and as a whole they become more effective because they can partner or collaborate.” The growing numbers of companies involved in each of the steps of the supply chain offer multiple benefits to the local industry. As numbers grow, companies are able to more often work together to solve problems and develop public awareness. This opportunity for local companies to collaborate offers them the opportunity to Q4 2010

Business Black Box

“Under the broad umbrella of Bio-Med, are multiple, smaller umbrellas,” says Matt Gevaert, CEO and co-founder of local medical device company KIYATEC. “The medical devices industry is its own entity, and SC MedTech captures this level of specificity.” The SC MedTech effort has been alive and growing over the past six years, as the medical technologies industry has begun to develop in this region. Recently, though, the organization has taken even greater strides to grow and be an advocate for the industry in the state. “Within the past six months, SC MedTech has formalized into an official industry organization with an executive committee,” Gevaert, who also serves as the Cluster’s chair, says. “It’s a state-wide organization with predetermined slots for each region, so we institutionalize state-wide representation.” While it may be ironic to draw a connection initially, one of the initial facilitators for the beginning of this industry growth is South Carolina’s early experience in manufacturing. “The first thing you want to think about regarding medical technologies in South Carolina is manufacturing— South Carolina has always been good at manufacturing things,” Gevaert says. “The skills for manufacturing a medical device are very specific.” Of course, the growth of this industry locally has progressed due to more than just South Carolina’s manufacturing experience. The puzzle of growth has many varied pieces, but the local economy has done a very good job of assembling them appropriately. In the realm of medical technologies and devices, SC MedTech lists an industry supply chain, detailing the six main facets of the industry from beginning to end of production: first, raw materials


solicit and give help on industry-specific matters, both making them more competitive and facilitating growth. On that front, SC MedTech is working to make the region even more suitable for collaboration and strengthen this synergy—as it grows, additional relationships are able to develop, leading to new products. “We talk with a lot of companies that are considering launching, sharing with them a lot of the information we’ve come to gain from our own startup,” says Steve Johnson, a fellow executive committee member of SC MedTech. In addition to nurturing local businesses and ideas, though, this growth is attracting awareness from outside the region. As president and CEO of CreatiVasc, Johnson says he is often approached by companies outside the state who ask about the Upstate. “We have inventors that are contacting us saying, ‘I have other ideas,’” he says. Having peers in the same industry offers stability, though, as well as opportunities to impact and instruct. “It means you’re not in the wilderness,” Johnson adds. “You can exchange ideas and experience—everything from regulatory issues to production and manufacturing. We’re a cluster of people that can face unique challenges together. “This growth and collaboration creates a critical mass that attracts others,” he adds. “We’re building the knowledge economy in South Carolina—we’re not just an assembly point that could be moved to Mexico or Thailand. And, we’re producing homegrown businesses.” In addition to the collaborative opportunities that having a regional powerhouse affords, businesses from different points of the supply chain can share business.“We’ve seen companies who were using a supplier that was really far away swap to someone who was much closer and maybe more cost competitive,” Gevaert says. “As we get the message out, you can expect more of that to happen.” While it is important to note that this collaboration does not specifically emphasize keeping business local to support the industry as a whole; instead, it offers businesses the opportunity to outsource locally, rather than across the nation or overseas, and gives them greater control over the products and services they’re receiving. “We have a supplier that makes our plastic parts, as well as our trays,” Gevaert explains. “We have a supplier that makes the gasket, and a supplier who assembles everything. We have a supplier who then sterilizes everything, and four of those five companies are within a 60-mile radius of Greenville. If we were anywhere else and wanted to get that expertise, we’d probably have to go a lot farther. As it is now, I can drive and visit all the component companies that are involved in our production in a single day. “That has enabled us to do things a lot more quickly than we could have in another area,” he continues. “I feel we’re getting very competitive costs because of the relationships here and synergy of this area, and as a business owner, I have a higher level of comfort.” Through natural business and local competition, the industry naturally strengthens itself and in turn makes itself more viable by

offering more services locally where businesses can leverage off of the existing infrastructure. “To me, it’s absolutely a no-brainer to be in Greenville,” says Craig Walker, MHA for VidiStar, a local company that offers medical imaging software. “You have so many synergies and so many opportunities that foster the kind of growth initiative a small business wants to achieve in a limited timeframe.” The story of South Carolina’s medical technology industry over the past few years lends credit to more businesses than those specifically involved in the industry from a production or development standpoint. In addition to businesses that operate directly within the industry are other businesses that Gevaert refers to as “feeder” businesses. These feeder businesses help further develop specific industries by offering key products and services that help other companies excel. These companies include research universities, which provide both local talent and research opportunities; entrepreneurial resources, which make it more economically feasible for new businesses to start and continue to grow the cluster; and, of course, research parks. Probably the most exciting thing for the Upstate, though, is the fact that it features both a comprehensive offering from the supply chain as well as a strong lineup of feeder entities. “These factors, combined with the medical supply chain, make a really powerful story,” Gevaert says. But one of the most important facets of the feeder base are capital investors that allow companies in this industry—like so many others—to get a foothold in the local market and begin to grow. SC Launch, an entity formed by SCRA and the state’s university research foundations (Clemson University, USC, and the Medical University of South Carolina), has taken a major role in growing the MedTech sector in the Upstate. “I think, specifically, SC Launch and SCRA are continuing to show their support by funding institutions like Vidistar, and we’re proud to be part of their cluster of portfolio companies that are doing well, despite the economic downturn,” Walker says. It’s through a strong feeder base that those in a cluster can interact on a more significant level. For example, there are opportunities for cluster companies to share intellectual property in a climate where they have low liability, making it beneficial for the industry, as well as those specifically involved. “There will be some intellectual property sharing and obviously sometimes not, in order to preserve competition,” Gevaert says. “I think the trick is actually doing that in a climate where there is some trust—which is achieved by relationship-building and networking, as well as through the feeder groups like contract law and intellectual property lawyers—to help make sure an agreement is going to be successful—and lastly, through quality work and doing things well.” Contract attorneys and intellectual property lawyers are only two of the ways that feeder businesses can grow cluster operations,

Business Black Box

“This growth and collaboration creates a critical mass that attracts others. We’re building the knowledge economy in South Carolina...And, we’re producing homegrown businesses.”


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though. As the local economy and industry continue to develop, the potential begins to grow exponentially. The huge impact comes because, through careful growth and economic development on a general level, a feeder base conducive to the medical devices has developed naturally. “For organizations like Vidistar, we see the opportunity for significant growth in the Upstate specifically because you’ve got this dynamic in healthcare where hospitals are aligning themselves with physicians more and more, and our product helps them do that,” Walker adds. He also keys in on another unique feature the Upstate has to offer: the international community. “You want to encourage global intellectual sharing, and being in a global economy definitely helps people think outside of their communities, to generate thinking that crosses boundaries,” he says. “This happened organically here, it then got organized, and we began to put the pieces together and tell the story,” Gevaert says.

university with strengths in engineering, while Charleston has a medical research university, offering different forms of education that the other region can utilize. All of this growth and development in the medical devices industry is certainly exciting, but Gevaert is careful to maintain a realistic outlook on the local industry growth. “There are mega centers like Boston and Minneapolis, and no one is going to argue that [the Upstate] is as big as that,” Gevaert explains. “It’s not one of the mega centers, but outside of those few, it’s very competitive as an emerging place to do business. There are only a handful of cities across the country who can objectively say they have all of these factors.” There’s a rather significant silver lining to the fact that the Upstate isn’t one of medical technology’s “mega centers,” because in some ways, it actually makes us more competitive. “There are some factors that make doing business here better, like cost of living, cost of doing business—we’re very cost-competitive,” Gevaert says. “You

Business Black Box

Information provided by SC MedTech


“There’s a parallel story that takes place in and around Charleston, so for reasons independent of Greenville’s, they also have that critical mass. This led us to realize we could grow faster if we had statewide collaboration.” It’s through this collaboration between the Upstate medical devices industry and the Charleston medical device industry that SC MedTech shifted from an Upstate organization to a statewide organization. Further, Gevaert also highlights the fact that the Upstate and Charleston actually feature unique, key facets that the other can benefit from. For example, the Upstate features a research Q4 2010

have to weigh in everything from real estate to labor.” Still, the Upstate hasn’t reached its industry nirvana. “There is a valley of death in the process right now: you can get early stage financing from local investors—whether it’s UCAN or the Charleston Angel Partnership—and further out, when you get more mature and have clinical trials done and are about to enter the market, you can venture capital support,” Johnson explains. “In the middle is this huge wasteland where the state has very little seed capital, and that is a tremendous need.” SC Launch does offer second stage financing to companies that

show promise, but there still remains a large gap between startup and market launch void of funding. “About a year and a half ago, we began providing second stage financing to certain deserving companies that show promise and growth after their first infusion,” Dave McNamara, SCRA’s executive vice president of public interest sector, says. “However, there’s still a later gap for funding.” Both Johnson and McNamara both make note that the need for funding for many of these companies is still great, though. “We have the same amount of program funding as when we began, while demand has increased significantly,” McNamara explains. As new businesses continue to come forward, the selection process has become much more competitive. “We’re really needing to weed out and narrow the aperture,” he continues. “We need to focus our assets while being sensitive to the needs of raw start-ups at the same time.” Johnson explains that the local industry and state government need to work together to bring in the funding needed to strengthen growth.“We need to begin to market our innovation to attract that kind of capital,” Johnson says. McNamara echoes that same point.“Revenue constraint has been a problem for South Carolina, as with many other states, but there are opportunities and resources our there,” he says. “As a state, we’re already pulling together better than we have historically. I think we’re doing all the right things, it just takes persistence and time.”

What they do

A Pendleton, S.C., company, KIYATEC works to provide 3D cell culturing equipment commercially, providing pharmaceutical, life science and biomedical companies with a more life-like environment (than the antiquated, 2D Petri dish) for their experiments.

Why it’s important

By giving cells a more true-to-life environment to be tested in, scientists can more accurately predict how medications and other test subjects with react in clinical test and real-life scenarios, saving time and offering the opportunity for better innovation. KIYATEC was named a finalist by The InnoVision Technology Awards Advisory Board for their 2010 InnoVision Technology Awards in the Technology Development category. Winners will be announced Nov. 17, 2010.


What they do

VidiStar, based in Greenville, S.C., created a patent-pending, web-based Vidi PACS (picture archiving and communications system) and DICOM (Digital Imaging and Communication in Medicine) reporting solution, and medical imaging software products. Their products allow clinicians instant access to highquality images and data for improved patient diagnosis.

Why it’s important

Specializing in cardiology, vascular, OBGYN, orthopaedics, and general diagnostic medicine, technology offered by VidiStar’s offer physicians to access range of diagnostic imaging systems over the Internet, as well as the ability to create DICOM structured reports over the Web. These services are offered both server-based and standalone packages to meet the needs of businesses of all sizes. VidiStar received both the 2009 and 2010 Best of Greenville Awards.

CreatiVasc What they do

A privately-held Greenville, S.C., company, CreatiVasc works to create innovative products specifically in the field of dialysis. Current offerings include the FistulaFinder and the Hemoaccess Valve System, with more in the works.

Why it’s important

With little innovation present in the dialysis field for the many years, CreatiVasc takes advantage of the opportunity to both excel in a field where the potential is high, as well as raise the quality of life for medical patients undergoing dialysis treatments. Their innovations have led to multiple awards, including the 2006 History Channel “Invent Now” Innovation Award.

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One of the most important facets of SC MedTech is the organization’s yearly conference. As the organization looks forward toward their sixth meeting this November, there’s been much growth already and much more to come. “The story of this conference is exciting because it started locally and has grown over time,” Gevaert says. “At the meeting now, we have regional visitors—people who come from Florida, North Carolina and Georgia—and they know what they’re getting and come back every year.” Through this banding together, the medical devices community is ably to collaborate on an even larger level, which offers even more benefits to a specialized industry. With regulatory burdens and expenses brought on by clinical trials, these meetings enable information sharing that would not be available on a smaller level. “Because of the energy that you have to put into specific things, it makes sense to network with other people who are also putting that same effort in,” Gevaert says. Outlooks are positive as the medical devices industry continues to grow in the Upstate, South Carolina and the Southeastern United States. While the industry has been slowly growing for 20 years, a mix of older, well-established companies, along with the new wave of companies with an emphasis on entrepreneurial activity, continues to strengthen the industry locally. “SC MedTech has gone from something that was good but was a grassroots organization, to a higher-impact effort that is now industry-backed,” Gevaert concludes. “And because of that, you can expect growth in a whole different way, created by unifying the voice of the medical device and technology industry.”






apples to oranges: evaluating job offers by julie godshall brown

Julie Godshall Brown is President of Godshall Professional Recruiting and Staffing, a firm specializing in direct hire and contract staffing solutions in professional, healthcare, manufacturing, legal, financial, accounting, and technical markets. Julie has been in the human resources field for 17 years and is very involved in the Upstate community, currently serving in leadership roles on several business, civic, and university boards.

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Studies indicate that over half of the American workforce may be looking for a job change as the economy becomes more stable. I have witnessed situations in which a single job change was a tremendous springboard for a fabulous career. Unfortunately, many professionals also make poor decisions, derailing the future of their career. How can you properly evaluate alternatives regarding a decision as emotional as a job change? Surprisingly, yet most importantly, you must weigh the opportunity based on non-monetary attributes. It may seem funny that I would begin with this; however, money is the easiest part of the puzzle to examine. Peeling back the proverbial onion is not always a simple task. 1. When evaluating a company, consider your own personal attributes compared to those of key employees in higher level roles. For example, if you hope to move into senior management with a prospective employer, consider the backgrounds of their senior management? If all senior managers have been relocated from the home office overseas, are family members, or hold a Chemical Engineering degree from Clemson University, how does your background compare? How might the differences affect your ability to be promoted, assuming upper management is your long term goal? 2. Is the culture of the prospective employer a fit for you? If you have a strong personal value system, you will not fit into just any environment.Talk to the company’s vendors, customers, current and former employees. Ask questions during the interview process to uncover this information.Take note of the physical environment, the employees’ respect for one another during your visit, management’s respect for their business partners, and the perceived importance of their clients, among other things. 3. Where do you geographically want to reside in the long term? If Greenville, S.C. has been your family home for generations, you own a family farm, and you never want to leave, make sure that you can grow as far as you desire with the prospective employer in Greenville (or that you are willing to conduct another job search in a few years in order to advance your career). In many cases, only limited career progression is possible without relocation to a headquarters or other facility. Carefully consider well-meaning promises made by managers who may not be in place five years from now to keep those promises. Many career-minded individuals are happy to relocate as their career progresses—just make sure it is a match with your personal goals. Q4 2010

4. The most obvious of all: will you work well with your new team of managers and coworkers? If appropriate, request a meeting with the team as part of the interview process. Ask questions regarding their understanding of the company direction or their perception of barriers, as well as their likes and dislikes. 5. Finally, the money! When evaluating the financial side of the equation, carefully consider the entire value of the offer, including cost of benefits, consistency of bonuses/commission (ask for historical data), 401K including possible match, stock options, car vs. car allowance, club memberships, fitness center access or discounts, parking, and executive benefits.These things add up, so don’t forget that your new salary is also your new starting point. Salary structures are based on the market as well as the value of the position to the organization. If you have earned a higher salary in the past than you will earn in your new position, understand that you aren’t likely to make a quick leap up to your former salary. 6. As obvious as it might seem, take time to truly evaluate your reason for making a change. If your motivation is career direction, financial, location, etc., then make sure that you clearly evaluate the new opportunity in relationship to what is important to you. Don’t allow yourself to be sidetracked by perks or incentives that aren’t really the basis behind your desire to move. Many firms have struggled during the past few years, yet those who have survived the recession may fare extremely well in the future. If you have been employed by a firm who is coming out of a difficult time, the best may be yet to come. Remember, you are judging “the inside” of your current employer against “the outside” of another. The grass may actually be greener on your side of the fence; however, you will only determine your best option by going through a methodical decision-making process. Best wishes for an outstanding second half of 2010!

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Budget cuts.

The words themselves make you cringe. Imagine an endless puzzle of numbers that you toil over, stress upon, pray about, but always manage to come up short. Business these days is survival of the fittest, and those who persevere are those who have conquered their budgets—thinking outside of the box, utilizing every resource possible, and making some tough decisions.

Outsourcing: It's Not Just For Customer Service Anymore

Business Black Box

Forego that expansion, skip this year's bonuses, reconsider all of your business expenses— you're doing all you can to keep your business afloat and your budget under control. But what do you do when that's not enough?


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When you hear the word “outsourcing,” what do you think of? A third-party, possibly third-world company taking on your less desirable tasks? If this is your opinion of outsourcing, you are missing out on one of the biggest trends in business­—an industry that has been maturing nationally for the last 20 years. A lot of businesses outsource their customer service or accounting, but that is just scratching the surface on all of the activities you can outsource, and the benefits you could receive from doing so. Cutting your budget is more than just dollars and cents, it’s evaluating your time and energy, making sure there is enough time in the day to perform all business functions and that everyone is able to be productive with their time. If you run into the dilemma that you don’t have enough time to perform the tasks you need to, but it’s not still not enough to hire someone fulltime, an appropriate option is to outsource. Wendi Hill, better know as the Virtual Sidekick, has been an outsourced assistant to her clients for more than three years—performing administrative functions such as maintaining email campaigns, setting up social media, or keeping up with a company’s website. “If you only need someone for five hours a week, why pay someone for twenty?” Hill asks. “I am able to take that time off of their hands without them having to pay for an employee full-time, plus benefits.” “It’s all about taking away your non-profitgenerating task, and freeing up your time to be able to perform a profit-generating task,” explains Michael Murray, chief challenge changer for First Place Employer, an outsourced provider for administrative relief, worker’s compensation, pay roll, human resources management, and benefits. Murray sees the services he provides as time-saving for both parties involved—he, an expert in his field, can sift through the legal jargon of South Carolinian worker’s compensation much faster than your everyday employer, and the time it would normally take that employer, he or she can now use that time for an

activity that can generate profits for his business—making sales calls, following up on leads, working on that huge proposal for Monday morning. While you use that time to generate profits for your business, outsourced partners like Murray can evaluate your costs on payroll or worker’s compensation, release unnecessary expenses, and allow you to reinvest that money back into your business. “The system of worker’s comp in South Carolina is a necessary evil, and is extremely broken,” Murray explains. “It’s constantly putting a strangle on South Carolinian companies.” By outsourcing this activity, you let an expert navigate this unknown world and spend your time doing what you do best—making money for your business. While outsourcing offers impactful solutions for your business, you should still be careful that your third-party partner is upholding the same business standards that you are. “Outsourcing can be a great benefit to your business—if you’re not great at something, then it’s a necessity,” says Melissa Thomas, consultant for the Clemson University Small Business Development Center, who provides confidential, one-on-one counseling to developing businesses. “However,” Thomas warns, “you have to make sure you’re staying involved in that aspect of your business, since it is still your business. “If you are outsourcing your accounting, you still need to know your numbers, and have the knowledge to hold that thirdparty outsourcer accountable for what they do,” she adds. In order to successfully outsource portions of your operations, you as a business owner need to ensure the same ethics and standards are being upheld in every aspect of your business.

Partnerships: A Friend In Need Is A Friend Indeed

Can’t we all just get along? Not for the sake of politics or friendly competition, but for the sake of your budget! No business is an island, sometimes you may need resources that another company has, insight that your competition may possess, or the authority that can only come from a large number of companies. Sharing resources can be extremely beneficial for a company, and it is the best way to utilize what you have to it’s full potential. “Say you’re a smaller company, and you need a bookkeeper a couple of hours a week,” explains Kathy Barrett, president and CEO of the

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"Partnerships can lessen the financial burden of a lot of business practices.

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Be Resourceful

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With Your Resources


In order to properly investigate your budget, you need to analyze absolutely everything—the number of employees you have, the number of phones lines you have, the number of copies you make a day—every aspect of your operations should be examined and determined what is absolutely necessary. You’ll probably find you pay for a lot more than you need to. A new trend seen in businesses in the realm of cutting-corners is the use of free applications in lieu of paid software. If you take the time to look, you can find an “in-the-cloud,” or online-based application for free, that does the work of a program that costs your business a lot of money. Laura Haight, managing partner of Portfolio Collective Business Solutions, is an expert at finding these applications. “As a small business owner, you have to spend money on the things you really need to spend your money on, and you need to decide what has got to go,” Haight explains. “A small business always wants to look like a big business.” Instead of using Microsoft Office, she recommend the free alternative of Google Apps, which can create documents, spreadsheets, and presentations online, and can be accessed from any computer with Internet access. For web and video conferencing, she suggests free applications like Skype or DimDim. Applications for transferring large files, online surveys, email marketing, and meeting management can all be found online and are free, yet limited. Most are these applications are set up to offer a limited amount of free use, and a small price to be paid if it is used more than sparingly. “The truth is, with Microsoft Office, the average user only utilizes about 10 perecent of what the program is capable of, and you have to purchase an additional license for every computer in your office that is running it,” Haight says. “Why pay for 100 percent if you can get it for free, or at least only pay for the 10 percent you’re actually using?” Another advocate of in-the-cloud resources is John Schultz, principal creative at Enkindle, a creative/interactive design firm based in Greenville, S.C. Instead of paying for landlines in his offices, his entire business is operated through email, online chat, and Skype. “You don’t have to sacrifice expense for quality, either,” he explains. Q4 2010

"You really have to analyze everything, not only if what you are doing needs to be done, but if there is a cheaper way of doing it, too.


Better Business Bureau of Upstate South Carolina.“If you know a company that has a bookkeeper that they can spare for a couple of hours a week, you can use this partnership to share that employee.” Another example is a large company renting out a conference room to a smaller business that may not have a corporate meeting place. “This is a great way for the large company to make a little money on the side, renting out an otherwise empty meeting space, while the smaller business is able to fulfill the function they need to even if their own space doesn’t provide it.” Barrett says. She also suggests keeping your ear out for cost-saving opportunities, while this may mean asking your competitor for ideas. “When cutting costs, you have to explore all the possibilities, and you can get a lot of insight from businesses in your industry, or other industries of the same size,” Barrett suggests. “Partnerships can lessen the financial burden of a lot of business practices,” Thomas explains. She suggests joining a consortium, which is a grouping of multiple companies or organizations, pooling the resources of these companies to gain buying power, allowing them to approach distributors and suppliers and to form partnerships and garner discounts with them. Another option is group or co-op advertising: piggybacking your advertising efforts with another company. This idea may be an option for your business if you are located in a strip mall or business park. The businesses located around you can go in on advertisements, sharing that expense with the companies you partner with. Whether you form a long-lasting partnership or merely exchange ideas, a company needs the assistance and insight of others in order to get your budget to where it needs to be.

“Google Mail is not only cheaper than other servers, but also employs some of the best security and anti-spamming features in the industry.” Schultz also recommends using trade to your advantage; trading your services for something your business would be spending their money on either way. “You really have to analyze everything—not only if what you are doing needs to be done, but if there is a cheaper way of doing it, too,” he says. So why pay cash when you can get what you need in exchange for what you do best? Barter is a viable way of reducing many of the day-today expenses of running a business. Brian Smith, regional operator for Tradebank of Greenville,

Laura Haight from Portfolio provides a list of free applications, that can help you (and your business) discover "how to stop being $19.99ed to death." Google Apps

– a full suite (documents, spreadsheets, and presentations), branded with your own domain, and is free or up to a level of $50 per year per user for more storage.

Zoho – suite includes documents, presentations, mail, calendar, chat, and an almost Excel-identical spreadsheet.

Time Bridge – a free meeting management

application, finds open time for meetings with your contacts.

DimDim – web conferencing application, that provides video, desktop sharing, and passing desktop control.


– creates forms and surveys and provides an advanced database management, free up to three, and a small charge is added after that.

Send Big Files – does just what you think it does, compacts larger files to make it easier to go through email, for free.

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knows a lot about how vital trade is to your business. “Tradebank is essentially a bank that you deposit trade into, in exchange for trade dollars,” Smith explains. “A traditional barter is limited between the two business owners, and you often see one side providing more than value than the other.” In a transaction between two Tradebank members, trade dollars are used as an alternative form of currency—one you can save, use eating out at a restaurant, or even for travel. “Best of all, every transaction takes place without touching the operational cash of your business,” Smith adds. Tradebank International is one of the world’s largest barter exchanges, with offices in more than 70 cities across the United States, Canada, and Europe. More than 8,000 U.S. businesses are involved with Tradebank, 300 of which are located in the Greater Greenville area.“Anyone can become a member— with categories ranging from restaurants, advertising, auto repair, travel, home improvement, medical, and recreation, you can contribute what you do best and get so much out of it from so many businesses in your area,” Smith says. Whatever your business woes, there is always a solution. It might be something you hadn’t thought of before, or maybe something that you don’t want to do—like take your office virtual, or let an employee go. Nobody said it would be easy to survive in this economy. But to those who can cut corners, think outside of the box, and even be a little crafty when they need to be, the victory of a balanced budget is that much more rewarding.



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spending versus investing: the science behind retaining sales by todd korahais

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 today’s challenging economic times, many people in business tend to cut their budgets, which results in purchasing less. Oftentimes they receive a mandate from someone that they report to that says, “Cut your budget by 20 percent.” The question you need to consider is, “Will my business’s products or services be part of the 20 percent budget reduction?” If that is the case, your customer evidently doesn’t see what you offer as a must-have product or service. Another way to look at it is, if you are in that 20 percent that gets eliminated, your client sees you as something or someone that he or she spends money on instead of seeing you as an investment from whom they net a return that is vital to the success of their business. In business, your products and/or services truly are a niceto-have for some of your clients but aren’t truly crucial for their success. If they happen to cut you from their budget, don’t take it personally, and just recognize that economies always go in cycles, and there’s a good chance that they’ll be back, as long as you stay in touch with them and maintain a positive relationship. The real tragedy is when your products and/or services truly do net a positive ROI for your client, and they are unaware that by cutting you, they are reducing their own profit margin. We call that, tripping over dollars to cut pennies and nickels. So the question is, how do your clients and prospective clients view your services? Typically, the cost of getting new business far outweighs the cost of retaining existing business—does your existing book of business know the exact ROI of using you? Simply put, what is your “quantifiable value proposition?” In order to make sure that you are not in the 20 percent that gets eliminated or passed over for a purchase, you have a homework assignment. Can everyone in your organization articulate and quantify, either in a dollar amount or by percentage, what the clients of your particular company receive by investing their hard-earned dollars with you? The harsh reality is that after the election this November, everyone will freely admit that a double-dip recession is imminent. When that occurs, a mandate to cut budgets usually follows. The second part

of your homework assignment is to make sure your clients know in dollar amount or by percentage what they receive by investing their hard-earned dollars with you. The truth is, this is a habit that we should all be doing in business, whether or not there’s a recession or a double-dip recession looming. This is a valuable exercise because if your client base can articulate and quantify what the ROI of doing business with you is, you can rest assured that they can articulate it with whomever gave them the mandate to cut the budget in the first place

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Photo by Wayne Culpepper/FishEye Studios Q4 2010


urious eyes and numerous questions sparked an idea in Susan Nasim’s mind a few years ago. Since then she’s worked to build a business that not only serves the consumers and herself, but also the women in a tribe half a world away. An avid hunter and safari enthusiast, Nasim’s husband has taken frequent trips to South Africa over the past 10 years, and he wanted to share this passion with his daughters; now 14, 19 and 21. “He decided to take each of them to Africa on their 13th birthday,” Nasim recalls. “When he took our middle child, she received a gift—a purse that some of the ladies from the Xhosa tribe make by hand.” (The Xhosa tribe is the second largest tribe in Africa, following after Zulus.) “She brought one home from her sister who loved the bag and carried it to everything,” Nasim remembers. “She carried it for four straight years, which let me know how durable they are—she would take it with her everywhere.” That’s where an idea came to light for Nasim. “Everybody who sees the bag would ask about it,” Nasim says. And it wasn’t solely the bag itself that caught peoples’ attention. “You tell them the story, and they get so excited,” Nasim explains. “When we started being followed out of designer stores by people who work there, we thought we could market this, making it a win-win for everyone.” Nasim explains that it truly is the story of these bags that makes them a hit. The bags Nasim built her business on are hand-made by Xhosa woman from stray plastic bags. “These women—a lot of them are AIDS widows—need a way to support their families,” Nasim explains. “They crochet things and do bead work in this remote little village, but there’s no way to get them out into the formal economy.” Nasim took this opportunity to meet consumer demand stateside, while changing the lives of these women overseas, by forming a business to market and sell these bags. “We spent about a year and a half on quality control,” she says. “They are now lined with recycled uniform material, which helps make them very durable—the ladies croquet the bags and then add the material liner.” The plastic bags that the ladies use are also from Africa. “There’s such an issue with bags and trash,” Nasim says. “We found a guy that recycles and cleans the bags, and the woman are able to use the clippings from the recycled bags—that way we can choose the colors.” From the Xhosa ladies’ perspective, this provides them with a means to make a living. “We found the average wage for the area and doubled it, and we pay them up front,” she continues.“It’s a way to empower them so they can support their families.” Back stateside, Nasim faces challenges of her own on her maiden voyage into entrepreneurism. Working as a psychologist at the Mental Health Center and the Continuum of Care in Spartanburg, as well as the Medical University in Charleston prior to starting a family, the field of retail offers new challenges, as well. “I have to say that I’m taking baby steps and still learning my way with marketing,” she says.


Susan graduates from Columbia College with a B.A. in Psychology and a minor in Business


Susan graduates with a Masters in Applied Psychology from Francis Marion University


Susan and her family move to Spartanburg, where she begins working with the Mental Health Center


After having her first child, Susan becomes a stay-at-home mom


Susan visits South Africa for the first time with her husband who regularly travels there. That year, on a separate trip to South Africa, Susan’s daughter Alexandra receives a purse as a gift from a Xhosa woman


Susan begins a two-year production schedule to create NK Bags, after four years of people asking her about her daughter’s Xhosa-made bag


NK Bags is launched at the “Accessories for Show” trade show

Profile by Andrew Brandenburg

As the Nasim’s searched for opportunities to showcase their product they’ve looked toward shows to not only display the product but convey they story behind each bag. The bags debuted earlier this year in Las Vegas at an event called “Accessories: the Show,” and the Nasims plan on showing the bags at additional events, including the “Natural Awakening’s Natural Living Fair!” in Greenville, as well as the “NY International Gift Show” at the end of this coming January. As the business continues to grow, Nasim is looking for additional boutique-type shops to retail the story. She’s found that these type of stores are most easily able to share the bags’ story with customers, which holds their most significant appeal.

1 - 1.5 10 1 Trillion

Days it takes for a Xhosa woman to make one NK bag Number of Xhosa women employed to make NK bags Approximate number of plastic bags used worldwide each year

38 7.9 180

Retail price for one NK bag Estimated number (in millions) of Xhosa tribe members in Africa Number of bags in each shipment from South Africa

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The facts:




how to launch your small business’ product or event

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.


When recently asked about the most effective way for a small business to launch either a product or an event, I directed the person to consider an industry that has mastered the technique: Hollywood. Movie makers are the best at getting their target audience excited about an event that they can’t even attend yet, and when they finally can, they are willing to pay for it the very day it’s available because of the anticipation their marketing strategy has built up. Want to make your event or product launch like that?

by tony snipes

businesses also touch those on “The List” Reach out and partner with them.


Notice how movies always have critics’ reviews prior to launch and even interview movie goers afterward. Use brief quotes or even videos of those that attended last year’s event, bought the pastor’s book or whatever the product or event may be. Word of mouth is a powerful tool—use testimonials to harness it.


Launch day is the day that you make sure all methods of connecting with buyers/attendees are in place. Be prepared to fix links, sign up pages and anything else you’ve been using. So the next time you want to launch the latest project, event or anything that your business produces, the model to get the word out (and your prospects excited) is as close as the nearest movie trailer.

Here’s how:

To make this work effectively, the most important thing that you will need is “The List.” This is a list of customers, members, followers, subscribers, etc. People that your business has already established contact relationships with. Building your list is one of the best ways to use social media. Your existing email list or even the “old school” newsletter mailing list help to build this as well. Using The List, let’s approach the launch of one of your products or one of your events like Hollywood would handle it:

Create the Buzz

Long before the event or product launch is close to being live, create anticipation within The List with teasers, like the movie industry does. Get the folks on The List talking about the event or product months—or at least weeks—in advance. For example, this summer I’ve seen promos of movies that don’t open until Christmas. I even saw promos this summer for movies not due until early next year.

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Get the Response Tools in Place

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Make sure that people can respond to pre-launch and follow up marketing. For an event, Facebook’s event tools are great because people can select “Attending,” “Maybe,” etc. No need to promote if they can’t sign up on the website or on Facebook.

Partner with Those That Also Touch Your Target Audience

Why did the most recent Twilight film have branding all over Burger King? Event the animated Despicable Me had it’s little “minion” characters connected with Best Buy and IHOP! You can do the same: What other Facebook groups or other Q4 2010

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Jimmy Rogers Founder, Fatz Café Partner, Copper River Grill

First job in the industry: Selling produce with his parents at a stand in Spartanburg County. “My first day I had on a little sport coat and nice shoes. I thought I would greet people at the door and seat them. Well, that lasted about 10 minutes. So, I went back to the kitchen and spent the day there. Right after lunch, I went down [to Waccamaw] and bought a pair of tennis shoes. I basically spent the rest of the day trying to survive.”

Dan Angell Partner, Copper River Grill

First job in the industry: Shucking oysters at a restaurant, as a freshman in college.

“Boy, I could shuck them oysters...but the bar was right next to the oysters, and I couldn’t wait to tend bar. So, I ended up going from station to station and really enjoying each one. I have since worked for a large, national, successful chain that had a great training program. That’s where I cut my teeth as a very young general manager for them. I thought I knew what I was doing, but I really had no idea. I learned along the way.”

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Larkin Hammond Owner, Larkins on the Lake, Lake Lure, N.C. Larkins on the River, Greenville, S.C.

First job in the industry: Cleaning beer coolers and ovens in her grandmother’s restaurant in West Virginia. “One day, [my husband, Mark] came home and said ‘I’m really tired of this. I don’t want to do this anymore.’ And I said, ‘Fine, let’s quit. What do you want to do?’ He said he wanted own a restaurant on a lake and he wanted to ski to work…to this day, we are still waterskiing to work all summer long.”

Carl Sobocinski Owner, Table 301, Greenville, S.C.

First job in the industry: busing and waiting tables (unless you count working the register at his grandfather’s Polish market at the age of six)

“As a Clemson student, I realized that I was running out of money and needed to find a job...I found a job busing tables and waiting tables. All along, I was studying architecture, thinking I would get out of school and become an architect. But...the business gets in your blood and is very rewarding…after college, I realized this was the career path I wanted to take.”

Rick Erwin Business Black Box

Owner, Rick Erwin’s West End Grille Nantucket Seafood Grill, Greenville, S.C.


First job in the industry: a dishwasher.

“This thing I remember most about my first job was how hard the work was, but how much fun it was. To see the satisfaction from the guest, to see the management and staff so successful and create that success is very, very satisfying.” Q4 2010


Business Black Box: Remember back, if you will, to when you were ready to take the plunge. Whether your very first restaurant, or any more recent opening, was the point that you decided to open a restaurant?

Larkin: One thing I have learned in the restaurant business is that you don’t want to strangle your manager. You want to give them their own legs to stand on. It’s hard as the owner to do that because the restaurant is your baby and you want to hold on to it as long as you can. But holding on to a restaurant too long can strangle it. I had managers for five years that were running it, numbers were great, and everybody loved them. It was getting to the point where nobody knew my name, and I liked that. I didn’t have to go in there anymore.They thought the manager was Larkin, and that was the best compliment that I could have ever had. That’s when I looked at it and said, okay. Now we can move on. And it was a great decision because that is when we decided to buy [the location in] Greenville.

Larkin: Everyone says to me, “Oh, another restaurant’s opening. Are you scared?” Oh, no. It’s so exciting to see because if you go to any big city, if you go to Charleston, there is a restaurant on every inch, and that’s okay.You want the masses to come to Greenville, and you want to help create that.We don’t want people to go elsewhere. The more the merrier. Then all of our businesses grow.

Jimmy: We’ve come beyond and will probably never franchise. What Dan and I talked about is that it will stay company-owned. Dan: When we developed Copper River Grill, we had the intention of creating a national chain. We wanted to make sure that every step of the way we did it in a manner that didn’t dilute the quality of service and people.You have to have the personnel, you have to have the best talent, and we have worked hard to try and attract the motivated people component.You have to pay them a lot, without question, but that is one of the most important things. You have to give them an ownership piece. When I met Jimmy and had the opportunity to start something and be owner, that was real important to me, even to the point of risking a lot of money and taking a big chance out of my comfort level. Jimmy and I believe there are a lot of people out there like that, and we sort of incorporated that into our program.This allows them to shake hands with a customer and look them in the eye because they are part owner.


So, how do you decide when to expand, and how to expand?

Jimmy: There are not a lot of fresh concepts in the market right now. Concepts usually die down once they are 20 or 21 years old.There is a time clock on any business, whether you are in the restaurant industry or doing something else. [You have to be sure] it can grow safely, and what we were talking about earlier about making the right deal going in and not killing yourself with the lease. One store can break you down—two, especially.You have to go in and negotiate the right kind of deal. Carl: Probably in the room, there are five different trains of thought.We are all individuals, and if you look at the various concepts, a lot of them have characteristics of ourselves. I had a discomfort with taking this concept and putting it in different markets. I wanted to make sure I was in the right spot and then the concepts evolved from there. It’s a different train of thought, but this works for me and is what I enjoy doing. Larkin: We have really diversified, but if you look at our locations, they are only an hour from each other. One thing that I have to stress is that my management makes my life. That is why I can have different restaurants in different locations an hour apart. All I have to do is take a deep breath and know that I can be in constant contact with them when things are going well. And when they are not, they know that if it is four in the morning, I will be there for them. It makes it easy. Rick: When I bought the building on South Main, I spent some time looking at what didn’t exist, what this market really needed, and what I was good at. Well, I am good at beef. I had been in the beef business for 23 years, so it didn’t take long to put one and one together and come up with two. We are what our management is. And I can assure you that everyone on this panel is where they are today because of the mistakes that we have made. We learn from them and move on. Q4 2010

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Carl: Part of our growth from Soby’s to Restaurant O and Lazy Goat and other concepts came from the fact that we had a lot of people who had developed over the years.They were either going to go out and open their own places and be our competition or we could open up something with them and give them an opportunity with managing partnerships and partial ownership. So, that is definitely part of the trigger that says, it’s time to go do something else.


Jimmy and Dan, you’re a little different in that you have a larger chain of restaurants. How was that decision made whether to go with a single entity or a larger chain?



So, in light of that, what has been the biggest failure you have had to deal with?

So we got into the catering market with Restaurant O. I wanted the new restaurant to have the personality of the people running it, the managing partners. At the same time, I didn’t want to, because one of our biggest concerns since we were across the street from ourselves, was that we were just going to take the same crowd and move them over to a newer, fresher, more elegant place. So, I made a conscious effort to stay at Soby’s and not have people think that we had forgotten about that. I also made some rules that we put in

Larkin: I call it my missed opportunity, because I wasn’t the right person for the place. I decided I wanted to get into the bar business. Well, I go to bed at 10 p.m. at night, so staying up until three or four in the morning and all the loud music and the bands, it’s that type of crowd. I am winding down while they are winding up. I thought it was the right thing to do because it was on the other side of town and there was nothing to do in the little town that we were in and thought okay, this is perfect, I will do this. Well, about six months into this, I think, “Oh, my gosh! How do I get out of this one?” I did, I still came out with all the hair on my head, but I learned that you have to find your niche. Jimmy: This is a story with two or three parts...I wasn’t an equal partner of [the restaurant]—I only owned about 25 percent of it, and that was the first mistake, because you don’t have any control of your destiny...and that’s a bad thing. So anyway, we opened this thing, and it was called Saturday Night Prime Rib Disco. We were working our cans get it running. So it was 1979 or ‘80 and it was supposed to [cost] about $175,000. So I go in... and they’re putting this fabric and these plate glass bridges and stuff in it, and I said “Is this thing running $175,000? And they say “Yes, no problem.” So we get it open, and I call in this guy who’s running it and say “How’s it going?” and he says, “About like a forest fire.” And I don’t know if you remember but at that time the interest rates jumped to 21 percent.Then, it became not about making money but how much money we were going to lose, no matter how many investments. When it was all over, I asked how much. And, they said it ran $425,000. I knew we were going to lose because there was no way. So everyone took a little beating. It was a good experience. It was a good lesson.

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Rick: Mine was where I didn’t cross the t’s or dot the i’s. It was a similar situation where I was with a partner and we just weren’t on the same page, and it became very apparent right after opening that he and I were not on the same page. Thank goodness that loss was a very small loss and was a very valuable lesson.


Carl: We thought that we needed a bakery downtown. We listened to customers and did some focus groups and we thought that we needed a place that made great artisan bread and pastries and stuff. We thought we could sell them to the consumer out the front door and then wholesale out the back door to our restaurants and hopefully to some other restaurants. I learned quickly that as much as Rick and I and other restaurateurs get along, I wasn’t finding many restaurateurs who were wanting to buy their desserts from Soby’s and then tell people around town that they were buying homemade desserts and putting them on their menu. Needless to say, it was a cash drain. Soby’s kept it going for several months, but we finally figured out that there was a need for catering. Q4 2010

place, that I since learned that it is not my job or anybody’s job in the restaurant industry to tell people how to run things, how they should dress, or how they should act. All of these things were well thought out but you don’t have time to explain all of them to the customer when you are telling them, “I’m sorry but you can’t dine with us tonight because you are wearing shorts,” or kindly reminding them to remove their baseball cap while they dine. And, I know there are a number of factors why we eventually wound up closing Restaurant O, but some of them were the mistakes that I made as the operator and some decisions that I made early on...we realized that we couldn’t tell people no. So some of those mistakes eventually ended up…we could have spent a lot of marketing on restaurant ads that we were welcoming a change. Or, and what we ended up doing, was closing it down. It was a tough time in 2008. And we felt that it was best to shut that down and focus on the other restaurants that we had and hopefully come back and rebrand.


What about diversification? Do any of you worry about another economic turn? Does that affect your plans for future business?

Rick: That is a great point. There could be an event when something could happen that would really devastate the three of us, as far as being in the downtown area. We thought about that. But we don’t run our businesses thinking about the negative. The diversification for my restaurants is basically that one is a steakhouse

and the other serves seafood. As far as future growth, I can tell you my next growth will not be in Greenville. It will be somewhere outside this market and hopefully continue to grow concepts that may end up being similar or they may not. Carl: I can tell you that something that is always in the back of my mind is that Greenville was the place to be in the ‘60s and then the ‘70s, when everything went out to the suburbs and everything went out to the malls, and then started revitalizing recently. I know that just like the economy, everything is cyclical and that be aware that this could come about. I wouldn’t say that this is the reason for any. We created Shop Table 301, which had a whole line of products, gift certificates, t-shirts, chef for a day, cookbooks, and things like that. We tripled our online business in the last nine months since getting into that e-commerce area. So, diversification has helped in a tougher economy and in a newer economy where people aren’t just looking for a place to go sit and have dinner, but they want to take something away or they want to make their reservations online. Rick: We are not recession proof by any stretch of the imagination. But what we have in the Upstate is very, very good. I certainly hope that, in my lifetime, we continue to see everyone, not only at this panel and not only these restaurants, I hope that every one of these restaurants continues to grow, continue to flourish, and continue to be very successful. I can tell you that this panel is also interested in all businesses in the upstate of S.C. and hopes that they continue to grow and continue to flourish and continue to build. We like that because it gives us more mouths to feed.


In business, the best of the best know that sometimes success is just as much about “when to quit” as when to push through; Seth Godin addresses this in his book The Dip. How do you know when it’s time to quit and move on? Jimmy:You have to love it to be in [the restaurant industry]. I have seen a lot of people over the years who have gotten in it, gotten back out, and gotten in it again.You have to truly love the restaurant business and hospitality, whether it is a bar or restaurant. You just have to love it and love entertaining people and taking care of the customer, knowing that just one person makes you and that is the person who walks through your door.

Dan: I think that the 20-year rule tends to apply to national chains or theme restaurants. Because, restaurants like yours are timeless and will always be there. Carl: There are five entrepreneurs here and I don’t think that any of us know the meaning of the word quit, but to answer your question, that is something we faced.

Rick: I want to see a clear, clear business plan that is not just about the number of pages that you have. I’m looking for the content—realistic projections and a realistic financial picture of exactly what you’re planning. Carl: Generally, the first question I ask them is why do they want to [open a restaurant]? And if it’s because they have been told other family and friends that they are a great cook or a good host or hostess, then I send them back to the drawing board and, as Rick said, they need to come back with a business plan. But, for the people who say that it’s in their blood and it is something they are passionate about it, I will encourage them all day long and help them to write a business plan or get in front of the right people to do it. Probably, in any business, it is that way it seems more so in this business.You have to be passionate about it. If you have passion for what you’re doing, hospitality or all that, then you will be successful. Larkin: After I have done my business plan and have my passion, I go with the four P’s: persistence, patience, prayer, and pocketbook. That’s how you open restaurant. If you have your business plan then you better have those because that’s what you are going to need. Jimmy: I think a big thing is for people to really look at, and I will probably over-exaggerate this because I have been around so long, the bad things that can happen. I have seen it cost marriages where couples who have gotten into the restaurant business, didn’t know what they were doing, and got into financial trouble and the split up. I have seen some bad things and I have seen some great things. There’s Melehes at the Open Hearth, that has been open for over 50 years. I used to go up and talk to him a lot and the thing that made him was consistency. And anybody that I saw that was getting into the restaurant business, I would send them to the Open Hearth and you look at it. That is the epitome of what success is. He greets you at the door, goes to the back to look at the steak, goes to the table and really makes it an experience. He does a great job. I probably lay out too many bad things that I have seen happen but there are great stories, too.The mortality rate, I think, of restaurants is that nine out of every 10 go defunct. So, be cautious to get into it. Dan: You need to have a good idea. What kind of restaurant do you want to open? Where do you want to put it? An idea isn’t good just because you think it is a good idea. Bounce your ideas off people that will tell you the truth. Happens to me all the time. They tell me it is not a good idea, But that keeps you from making mistakes. In addition, the operation is everything. If you can’t execute, it doesn’t matter how great an idea is or how good your location is. I agree with Larkin almost completely with the location thing but if you have a great location and you don’t do a good job with it, then you are going to blow it. If you don’t know what sound operations are, or what good execution is, then don’t get into the restaurant business because you will have to learn what it is and you will probably go out of business.

Want to see the entire interview with our five restauranteurs?

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Larkin: You made a point earlier that 20 years is about what a restaurant can make it. So that is not going to work anymore because that is 20 years old so we go over here.


If I came to you and told you I wanted to start a restaurant, what advice would you give me?

Visit for the full version. Q4 2010




the evolution of the expat

part 4 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 25year 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.


In the final installment of The Evolution of the Expat, we would like to discuss repatriation, or whether to bring the expat home or not. A critical, but frequently overlooked step of the expat process is proper repatriation provided by the company. In many cases, expats have grown apart from their home country and the culture, so the challenge of repatriating is difficult, especially when one has to go it alone. It is not uncommon for companies to bring expats back without any real position for them. The responsibility is placed on the employee to find his/her place in the organization. Why do so many expats have such a difficult time repatriating? There are practical, concrete reasons listed below. However, psychologically, there are hidden, repressed reasons that add to the complexity of this process. The expat needs to ask the questions: What set him into motion? Made him act? Compelled him to undertake the hardships of travel, to subject himself to the cultures and business practices far beyond his comfort zone? While expat packages are much higher than what is offered back home, few executives are anywhere near the poverty line, so they aren’t going overseas as a means of economic survival. Recall the characteristic of an expat: these people are self-driven for success, have the desire to manage complex issues and they are simply curious about world culture. In the end, they know that having the global executive experience will advance their career in the long run. While “in country” and on assignment, there are some fundamental areas that one must ensure they keep on the radar regardless of whether they plan to move back to the U.S., stay for more challenging assignments, or start their own business. Some options for the expat include the following:

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This is the most common situation, where the expat has done their job and now will be given a role that could be at the same level or a promotion. Some questions to consider are: • How do you keep in contact with your Asian network— both business and social? • Do you have the “right stuff ” to move to the next level within your company? • How are you going to manage yourself at HQ, under a boss that will be right down the hall, with a team that could be smaller to manage, under consensus management? • How will you transition your job?


Many expats like the complexity, challenge, and lifestyle for


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the long-term. They are willing to stay in the same company with more responsibilities or just keep doing the same function. Others leave to join U.S.-based companies with expat responsibilities that may be better than their current position. Most do this for the following reasons: • Perceived to have greater power in Asia; freedom to call the shots. • There could be a serious lack of freedom and power in U.S. • Routine life in home country can be less stimulating. • American culture has a lack of subservience, which makes it more difficult to manage egos. In some cases, expats join local companies where they bring the Western business strategies and objectives that are lacking in many Asia-based businesses.


The dream of many that is implemented successfully by only a few is to reinvent oneself. How do you reinvent yourself? You spend much of your first 25 to 30 years of life finding yourself, and then the next 30 to 40 years balancing between work and life until retirement. Is it really such a wise decision? • Magic Formula. Having written goals or reasons for change is critical.

• Existing Skills.The mid to late 1970s were a tumultuous time for the U.S. The Vietnam War had just ended, there was an oil crisis and the economy was not strong. Add to that the Iran Hostage situation that was resolved only after Ronald Reagan came into office and the picture of Jimmy Carter’s Presidency is not complimentary. (In fact, many believe him to be one of the worst presidents in U.S. history.) However, 20 years later, Carter emerged as a leading diplomat, and has been instrumental in peace and financial aid projects in Africa and The Middle East. The skills of diplomacy were always there, they just needed the right venue. Regardless of political affiliation, Carter is a great modern-day example of succesful reinvention. • Business ID. One must identify an industry where they can fill a need or ride the momentum of a movement that has meaning to the particular society in which they are stationed.What industries are hot? What are the trends within industries or movements in specific countries? How can you re-create the role of water salesman in the desert for yourself? These are the questions you need to ask yourself as well those you respect professionally around you. You may be surprised with what you discover. Take advantage of all that is given to you as an expat. Embrace as much of the culture, the business environment, and the network of people that you will meet. Learn as much as you can for as long as you can. This will be very important for your success in any of the three scenarios you choose once your assignment and advise visit comes to an end. , m r o t Brains when you /Global. in h .com ig e w kBox c a l B Inside

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According to projections by the U.S. Census, the Upstate population is increasing at an amazing rate. In fact, estimates say that by the year 2030, more than 1.6 million people will call the 10-county region their home. Because of this growth,Ten at the Top, a local organization focused on the Upstate’s growth, conservation, and economic development, has been conducting surveys and holding meetings across the region, looking for input on what focuses we, as a region, want to take for our future. Here is what they found. (More can be found at


* information provided by U.S. Bureau of the Census ** projections based on 2003 Census Bureau population estimates Q4 2010

Survey information provided by Ten at the Top

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1.What was your first job? From the time I was 11 I delivered the afternoon newspaper, for about six years.The first job for my profession was a fulltime position at Hampden-Sydney College in Sydney,Va., as their sports information director. 2. How did you get involved in your line of work? My choices were to go into the newspaper industry or work in sports public relations. My first offer was from the Culpepper Daily Newspaper in Culpepper,Va., for $11,000 a year, and that made my decision pretty easy. I went down the path of sports public and media relations; I did two internships— one with the Philadelphia Eagles and one with the Richmond Braves. I did those internships and then received my first, fulltime position. 3.What are some of the skills you developed early that you’ve found to be beneficial or essential to your practices now? I think my background in journalism and communications in college has really propelled me through all my different career fields and paths. If you can articulate material through the written word, you can have great success, and it also helps you get in front of audiences and articulate what you want to say. 4. How do you strike a balance between your personal and professional lives? I think if you asked my wife, some days are good and some are bad. It’s hard especially when working with a small staff or start up businesses.The thing that helps me strike the balance is having kids—they are the equalizer. They make sure you give them enough attention. It also changes your priorities to spending that time with your kids and family, because you only get so many chances at those. 5.What are some strategies you use to do so/keep yourself in check? If I’m working at home, my rule is, if my kids say they want to do something, I go do it.There’s going to be a time when they don’t ask anymore.Time is the one precious resource, and people know when you’re giving them your time.

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6. 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? Paying attention to the people. No matter what you’re doing, it’s important to do the best you can and pay attention to what the task is in what you’re doing. There are no small issues.When you’re talking to someone about what’s important to them, it may seem to be trivial or doesn’t seem to be all that important, but one of the things I’ve learned over time is, if it’s important to it’s important. Q4 2010 80 somebody,

7.What vision do you promote for the Upstate, and how do you get people to buy into or tap into that vision from a regional perspective? The ultimate goal is to enhance the Upstate for all residents as we add to the population over the next 20 years and to make sure people know that everybody’s voice matters.We can work with business leaders and community leaders to make sure that things are done in a way that the Upstate is still great.We’re working to get regional champions so we can fix the things bigger than any one of us collectively to ensure that the Upstate continues to be a place people want to come.This is a special place not because it just happened but because people did what needed to be done to make it this way. 8. If you retired tomorrow and could change to any field except the one you are in now, what would you pick? My side interest has always been sports, and I actually started, almost two years ago, a website called “Sports:Then and Now.”We look at current sports and also sports history and how things that are happening today correlate with the history of sports. I started it as a side because I wanted to get back into sports, and then got with some other folks and created a whole website. More than likely, I would do that on a more regular basis. 9. What has been your biggest failure as a professional? The only thing that was a disappointment or a surprise was when I left my region briefly to work for a private PR firm in Orlando because I thought that was eventually what I would get back into. It was a struggle. They are focused on billable hours and working for the client’s goal within the client’s budget. It was a different world, and did it for almost a year, but economy was tanking, so I went back to working with my region. 10. How do you avoid similar failures today? I don’t consider it a failure because I learned a lot, but it was a big surprise because I didn’t like working in the private public relations area like I thought I would. 11.What made you want to move to the Upstate to continue your career? I lived in Southern Virginia and then Orlando.We liked Orlando, but it wasn’t a place we knew we wanted to raise a home.We wanted to get closer to family and find a place with the feel of where we grew up.When we came here, we thought it could be a nice place to have a home. One thing we learned about people here is that most people believe it’s a great place to raise a family. People take responsibility for their community and care about the people in the community, and we hope this is a place we can call home for a long time. Photo by Wayne Culpepper/FishEye Studios

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what you don’t know may hurt you John DeWorken is partner in The Sunnie Harmon and John DeWorken Group, a government relations and advocacy firm. He can be reached at deworken@

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......................................................... This year, the Legislature is poised to take major steps to prevent TV’s personal injury lawyers from gaming the state’s tort and workers’ compensation system. Legislative leadership believe that there is an opportunity to cap punitive damages and non-economic damages, curb frivolous lawsuits and complete the reformation of the workers’ compensation system. To be fair, trial lawyers and TV personal injury lawyers are different. Trial lawyers play an important role in the judicial system by representing individuals who otherwise wouldn’t have a voice. Business leaders say TV personal injury lawyers are a small fraction of trial lawyers who game the system for their own financial benefit. They drain the state’s economy and burden its ability to generate jobs and grow the economy. Towers Perrin, a leading source of U.S. tort cost analyses, estimates that because of personal injury lawyers, every man, woman, and child in the U.S. paid over $800 to cover tort costs in 2008. Expenses are passed down through insurance premiums and costs of services and goods. A family of four can expect to pay an extra $3,200 per year. To give this context, 60 years ago, only $12 in tort costs were passed off to each U.S. citizen. In terms of today’s money, considering inflation, that cost should only be $87 per person, not the current $800. With an average of eight to 10 percent increase per year, the total cost in tort claims surpassed $250 billion in 2008 in the U.S. That is nearly a $2 billion increase from the previous year, according to Towers Perrin. In fact, in the same report, tort costs accounted for two percent of this country’s GDP­ —double that of other industrialized nations. Businesses, also, carry a heavy burden because of this country’s toleration for lawsuit abuse. Tort costs mostly affect small businesses, carrying a price tag well over $100 billion to those small businesses each year. A study conducted by the U.S. Chamber found that small businesses pay, collectively, $35 billion of these costs out-of-pocket each year rather than through insurance. Keep in mind that small businesses create nearly two-thirds of all new jobs. Lisa Rickard, an official with the U.S. Chamber said, “As America struggles out of this current economic downturn, our lawsuit system continues to be a drag on job-creating small businesses.” The S.C. Legislature will have opportunities come January to reduce lawsuit abuse even more by placing reasonable caps on noneconomic and punitive damages, as well as curb frivolous lawsuits. Frivolous lawsuits cost small business owners time and money to defend. On the health care front, they raise the costs in defensive


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by john deworken

medicine, which is the dynamic by which health care professionals practice diagnostic or therapeutic measures as a safeguard against malpractice liability. These practices are not typically practiced to ensure the well-being of patients. In other words, health care professionals say they run extra tests on patients to make sure they are not liable to personal injury lawyers. Health care professionals say the primary reason for defensive medicine is to protect themselves and their health care institutions against malpractice liability. Further research concludes that defensive medicine is particularly practiced in emergency medicine and obstetrics, as well as other high risk medicine. Towers Perrin says in its most recent report that medical malpractice costs in 2008 totaled $29.8 billion. According to a Kessler-McClellan study, defensive medicine costs in 2005 totaled anywhere between $100 billion and $178 billion— costs that are passed on to patients. In addition to tort issues, business leaders say the state’s workers’ comp system needs reform. They assert that personal injury lawyers feed off of the state’s distorted workers’ compensation system—a problem the state Legislature could tackle this year. In South Carolina, many workers’ compensation plaintiff attorneys are accused of gaming a system that is designed to be a no-fault system—that is, the way the South Carolina workers’ compensation system is designed, attorneys are not intended to be a part of the process. Unfortunately, South Carolina has allowed this parasitic system to thrive, driving awards up at the cost of business. Simply look at a local phone book. For instance, on the front cover of the Greater Greenville phone book is a workers’ comp attorney advertisement with these words in bold: “INJURED?” The two inside pages of the phone book cover has full page ads with the words, “INJURED?” Count the number of phone book pages that list workers’ comp attorneys.There are 56 pages dedicated to attorneys that deal with workers’ comp cases in the Greenville phone book alone. It is a thriving industry for attorneys in what is supposed to be a system that needs no attorneys. Until recently, workers’ comp rates have doubled for S.C. businesses year after year. It wasn’t until the S.C. Legislature passed a solid workers’ comp reform law two years ago that rates began to stabilize to a point. The business community believes there is more that the state can do. The legislature agrees. Look for the legislature to work on a bill that implements objective standards on awards for plaintiffs. The state legislature convenes January 2011.

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101 101 DAYS


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An army wife and her husband see a unique opportunity to provide tactical and operational equipment to the military and civilian operational personnel. Starting out, they have his military experience, passion and some entrepreneurial experience. Here’s their story.

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Hurdling towards disaster OR conquering the mighty competition.




Amanda Westmoreland is a mother of two and an army wife, and now she is ready to add business manager to the equation. Over the years, she’s had the opportunity to work with her husband on other entrepreneurial endeavors, and now she looks to take the helm of this new company, so that her husband, Ted, can focus on product and business development Amanda, who has a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from N.C. State, and her husband are working to develop a start-up company that sells operational equipment to military and governmental agencies. Much of the inspiration for this endeavor stems from the 23 years Ted has spent in the U.S. Army where he was deployed multiple times to combat zones. Ted holds a Bachelor of Health Sciences from Campbell University.

It’s the goal of Amanda and Ted to officially launch SPEER Operational Technologies. There’s no shortage of work to be done, though. Initial plans include calculating product and retail costs, creating and launching the company’s website and developing a comprehensive customer service plan—all on a tight budget. The goal of SPEER is to combine science with realistic practical applications in order to provide tactical and operational rescue products that people can trust. They’re striving to offer excellence in products and service from the get-go, rather than racing for high volume sales and distribution. In addition, SPEER also wants to be a cutting edge company where others can contribute ideas and concepts for development into capabilities-based products and be honored for their contributions.

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THE PURPOSE From 2003 until the end of 2004, Amanda worked with the Combat Application Tourniquet project (CAT) where she managed the ordering, manufacturing, packaging and shipping for all of the tourniquets made during that time frame. She did this from her family’s house near Ft. Bragg, N.C. The CAT ended up being adopted by the entire U.S. military, as well as many foreign militaries, as the standard of care. In 2006, it was named one of the Army’s top 10 inventions. Last year Amanda received a fruit basket with a note that read: “Amanda, I was injured in Iraq on 9/11/04 and was saved when I applied my own CAT…one that you made…Thank you for saving my life…I will never forget.” Impacted by this experience as well as having the opportunity to have played a small role in aiding the soldiers fighting for America’s freedoms overseas. Amanda looks forward to this new opportunity to build a new business, as well as continue to develop innovative products to aid operational personnel.

Day 1: Amanda meets with her husband Ted to map out the business plan for a new company they’ve been planning. “I’m a little overwhelmed with all the forms and legislation of small business,” she says. Step No. 1 for Amanda: start building a checklist of things to do, in order to get this new business up and running.

101 DAYS For us, honoring



a fallen soldier who routinely risked his life

“I don’t know why or how, but I threw out “SPEER Operational Technologies,” Amanda says. “This is the name of a family friend, Chris Speer, who died serving his country and is therefore very meaningful to us, and, for us, honoring a fallen soldier who routinely risked his life to save others seems like a great idea.”

to save others seems like a great idea.

Day 2: Amanda and Ted spend time working on initial branding for the company. They both agree that the company needs a name as significant as their mission. After some initial word play and brainstorming they hover around the words “combat, operations, technologies, and tactical” and eventually land on “Operational Technologies.”

Day 3: Ted spends time with consultants from Nexsen Pruet regarding drafting the operating agreement for SPEER, as well as who will be handling all intellectual property matters for the company. “This firm is excellent and will service all of our small business legal needs to include employment law and other issues,” Amanda says. Business Black Box

Day 4: Today’s highlight is a conversation Ted has with Tabitha Speer over the phone. She is overjoyed that her husband’s name will be used as part of the company’s name and gives her permission for things to proceed.

Photo by Wayne Culpepper/FishEye Studios Q4 2010




101 DAYS


Day 5: Amanda decides to officially brand the company SPEER Operational Technologies!

reconciliation process—I have an innate aversion to anything to do with ‘reports.’”

“I am excited and proud to stand behind this name,” Amanda says.

Day 6: Amanda begins to set up SPEER on her QuickBooks accounting software. As the pieces come together, Amanda is able to have a more tangible, bird’s eye view of how the company will come together, helping to put her at ease regarding the financial aspect of the company. “I am not a fan of bookkeeping, and I’m afraid to make a mistake,” she admits. “But it seems like everything is easy enough and fixable.”

Day 7: Amanda receives a call before SPEER’s official launch. Word of mouth has already generated an order. Amanda processes the order using BB&T’s online Merchant Services. “It’s very easy to take payment this way, and we made a sale,” she says. “I’m so excited!”

Day 8: After realizing she needs to rent a conference space for a meeting with a CPA that has been recommended to her, Amanda spends time calling around and discovers that meeting space rentals are quiet costly. She has the opportunity to negotiate a corporate rate with LivN Nsidout, a local wellness facility.The facility also features a health-based restaurant called Inergy that hosts special events and conferences.

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“The room is very comfortable and professional,” Amanda says. “We can’t beat it since childcare is included in the price!”


Day 9: Amanda meets with a CPA from Martin & Starnes to discuss SPEER’s business plan. Martin & Starnes will be managing SPEER’s taxes, and the CPA advises Amanda to schedule QuickBooks training with one of their accountants. Overall, it’s a great meeting.

Day 10: As a follow up to yesterday’s meeting, Amanda meets with a representative from Martin & Starnes for Quickbooks training. “It was very helpful to have her review and correct what I’m doing,” Amanda says. “I tried to fight the Q4 2010

Day 11: The identity of SPEER is taking shape, and Amanda continues to work on the logo for SPEER with a friend. It currently features a spear, and under the spear is the quote “Outracing the Storm Winds,” which is taken from something written after Chris’s death. “Outracing the storm winds you went; No thought, save duty, to spur you on…”

Day 12: Amanda utilizes the free website plan that came with QuickBooks. She downloads the software to her computer, which turns out to be easy but very time-consuming. As he is now part of their new identity, Amanda sends an email to Tabitha requesting photos of Chris for the company’s website.

Day 13: More website construction today for Amanda—a sometimes stressful job. On a separate note, the photos of Chris arrive. “This is an emotional moment for us,” Amanda says. “We feel honored to have an opportunity to represent Chris and his family by preserving the memory of a fallen soldier.”

Day 17: Amanda composes a proposal for LivN Nsidout for a package membership and conference space rental agreement contract. “I talked with management, and they offered us a great rate for our company,” Amanda says. “We can utilize the gym, the conference space, and have access to childcare, which is a huge deal since the kids are home with us for the summer.”

101 DAYS



Day 20: The website is finished and published.

It does not have a Flash intro, and it is not going to knock anyone’s socks off, but I realize that this is going to be a tweaking process,” Amanda says. “We want to have a good brand, and we believe in the power of marketing, but what is really going to sell our gear is our gear.

Day 24: Amanda speaks with a representative from Martin & Starnes on the phone today while at the pool watching the kids with their swim team. He refers Amanda to a payroll company called PayChex, a one-stop shop for all things payroll, including all of the insurance and taxes.

Day 25: Taking her representative’s advice, Amanda meets with a PayChex representative today. “We are now set up with a package deal including payroll, health insurance and workman’s comp,” Amanda says. “Health insurance for us has turned out to be extremely costly for a small business.”

Day 30: A friend introduces Amanda to a product being sold via network marketing called the cPrime Band. The band holds a microchip that works as a bio-antenna to optimize the conduction of electrical impulses through the body, which directly increases strength, balance and flexibility. “More than a little skeptical at first, yet not being one to turn down an opportunity, I agreed to try out the bands,” Amanda says. Business Black Box

Day 39: “I’m not happy with how the website is functioning,” Amanda says. “I am also having problems with the email plan attached to the domains I have purchased.” After going back and forth with web support, Amanda finally decides to cancel her website with Intuit and go with Website Q4 2010




101 DAYS

Tonight, affiliated with GoDaddy.

“I’m not sure if this band will have a role corporately, but it sure is fun to demonstrate to people and see the effects,” Amanda says.


Day 45: Amanda looks into the benefits of cloud computing in an attempt to be better organized. She signs up for free trials with and

Day 50: After working with the trials, Amanda decides to go with the “Backpack” service through 37signals. “Salesforce. com and had more functionality, but did not warrant the cost difference for us,” Amanda explains. “I love the common calendar and ability to collaborate and organize the business from anywhere on Backpack.”

Day 63: “I am loving the website tonight!” Amanda says. “The quality is so much better, and it loads faster and looks clean and professional—I can’t wait to get product pictures and descriptions up.“

Day 67:Amanda meets with the manufacturers today.“We finally have some semblance of a clear plan for the launch,” Amanda explains. “We have a bunch of projects going at once, but I know what products to focus my energy on for the launch.”

Day 72: Still waiting for photos and specs of products to come in, Amanda spends time creating spreadsheets to manage all of the product information.

Day 76:“It turns out the cPrime band works!” Amanda says.“It helped improve Ted’s quality of life after numerous orthopedic injuries, and even his mother has seen an enormous effect on her strength and ability to continue her activities of daily living.” Amanda enlists some people in the cPrime marketing plan and Ted shows it to many friends who also have numerous injuries from military service. After putting on the band, one friend is able to bend over and touch his toes for the first time in 10 years.


Q4 2010

Day 81: “One of our IP (intellectual property) contributors has blown me away with the products he is developing,” Amanda says. “His positive attitude is contagious, and I am really encouraged by his excitement.” Working in a specialized industry can have its challenges, though.“I feel a little sorry for the guys I work with sometimes, because they have to repeat things over and over to me,” she explains “I don’t feel like I have all of the expertise that I need in this specialized field. Sometimes, I have to say, ‘What? You lost me at carabineer.’ I am thankful for their patience.”

Day 87: Amanda decides to revisit logo design. “With two weeks left till the actual launch, I am disappointed; we probably will not be able to launch with the new logo,” she admits. “I remind myself every company goes through a tweaking process and evolves over time.”

Day 88: SPEER has another order come in today—this time from a valuable friend who also wants to share SPEER’s URL on his website. “I am very thankful for good friends,” Amanda says.

Day 90: Although SPEER is her main focus, cPrime is turning out to be a big seller for Amanda. “I cannot hold on to these cPrime Bands!” she says. “I just sold one to a professional football coach in the NFL!”

Day 91: Amanda receives and processes another order today! “I think I’m getting this customer service thing down!” Amanda says.



Day 100: Costing comes in from the manufacturer. There’s still one problem, though: “We launch tomorrow, and there are still no photos or product descriptions,” Amanda says. To add to the stress, Amanda receives word later in the day that photos will not be in until the next morning and the logo revision is still in the works.

Day 93: Ted and Amanda discuss their philosophy on customers and their products for their company. “From Ted’s business standpoint, the people are the process,” she explains. “Often the people in a company are treated as simply participants in the process who are, on the basis of their presence at work, either viewed as helping or hindering progress on any given project. “At SPEER we want the people to be the process,” she continues. “Whether it is how we structure our business relationships, how we invest in our employees so that they can pursue excellence in all things, or how we respond to a customer with an idea or a complaint: the people are the point of this entire endeavor.”

Day 101: Today is launch day, and the company website continues to pull together piece by piece. “It’s not how I imagined it,” Amanda says. “The photos, product descriptions and product specifications slowly made their way to me. It was frustrating to put it together on the last day. Building the website is a pain and simple things take forever because I am not a web designer—I have to learn as I go.” “Even with things not going as planned in the time frame allotted, I don’t feel anxious,” she says. “I take comfort in Philippians 4:6 ‘Do not be anxious for anything.’”

Day 97: Amanda has four days until the product listings are due on the website. It’s looking like deadline completion will be down to the wire here. Today Amanda also meets with a potential customer service manager.

Day 98: Amanda hires Michelle, and she is on board to handle customer service. “We have her set up with toll free calling, QuickBooks online and BB&T Merchant Services,” Amanda says. “What a relief! Now I can focus on costing, insurance, licensing, tradeshows and other details that require my attention.”

Despite continued website development, though, SPEER Operational Technologies is up and running.


Following SPEER’s launch, Amanda and Ted work to build both their clientele, as well as recognition for the new brand. One of the first opportunities they take is to attend the Infantry Warfighters Conference at Fort Benning, Ga., where they are able to get SPEER’s name out and also make a large number of contacts. “We also generated orders,” Amanda says. “Mostly I came away with an even greater appreciation of what our soldiers overseas go through to ensure freedom on our behalf, and meeting the infantry guys and hearing their stories really motivated me to do whatever I can to help them.” Amanda and Ted are now planning and looking forward to being a part of the Special Operations Medical Association Conference in Tampa, Fla. this December. Q4 2010

Business Black Box

Day 99: Amanda and Ted discuss their benefits package with Michelle, which is exciting for them. She had been out of work and has a small child without an insurance plan. “Now she has health insurance through our company and steady work,” Amanda says. “Having a plan to build a profitable business is part of our goal as corporation, but only focusing on making money could cause us to miss important opportunities to honor God by helping people. The people are the process, and because of that mindset we are able to commit to hiring her and to providing our employees with a benefits package during a recession.”

The launch date has sentimental value to both the business, as well as Amanda and Ted. “We picked this day because it is the anniversary of Chris’s passing from wounds he received in Afghanistan,” she explains. “I pray that we can honor him and his family with all of our efforts as SPEER Operational Technologies.”

Do you have a business venture that you would like us to track? Drop us a note and let us know more:

101 DAYS



B O X SPEED PITCH An architect took a long, hard look at her life and decided to start out on her own. Her plan for her customers isn’t too different from that of her own —to improve quality of life. But does


Smith’s pitch have what it takes to get her in front of her new customer base? Catherine Smith (& Tess) Architect, LLC

The Pitch:

Catherine Smith Architect, LLC (CSA) provides professional residential architectural services to middle income homeowners. Catherine Smith, a Spartanburg native and two-time Clemson Graduate, has over a dozen years of architectural experience ranging from large scale historic preservation to weekend getaway cottages from Virginia to New Orleans. In November 2009, Catherine began CSA to focus on what matters most to her and to many homeowners: home and family. CSA offers a full spectrum of services from assistance with site/house selection and architectural design phase services to the selection of colors, finishes and accessories. We will utilize your budget resourcefully to generate a healthy and efficient designed solution. As the homeowner, you will be engaged as much as you desire, or require, with personalized attention. While very detail oriented, CSA uses a holistic approach to generate a plan that improves the quality of life by providing the best fit for a family’s lifestyle. The added value is a creative, integrated design best described as crafted, simple and honest.

Photo by Wayne Culpepper/FishEye Studios

Brainstorm, advise, weigh in.

Wanna offer your advice? Log on to

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What They Say...


Offering a full spectrum of services is really the unique aspect that CSA is offering its clients over other competitors and could be highlighted more effectively in the pitch. I think the most successful pitches are ones in which the personality of the firm shines through—and while there are some personal touches to her pitch with regard to home and family, I don’t get a real sense of who Catherine is. I found one of the most interesting aspects of the pitch was the idea that her approach is “best described as crafted, simple and Q4 2010

honest.”This idea is something that could help build the foundation of her holistic approach—and its resulting full spectrum of services—and really set her apart from the stiff competition in architectural services. Pernille Christensen Research Associate, Richard H. Pennell Center for Real Estate Development, Clemson University My first thought was, “Wow, you’ve chosen a target market (middle income homeowners) that understands little of the

value of architectural services and is the least capable of paying for them.” You will have to clearly set yourself apart from the nonarchitect home designers that compete for the same clients but typically offer less design at a lower cost. You may want to talk about helping your clients make informed decisions about products and materials to get more value for their construction dollars. Targeting middle income clients may require you to price your services as a “menu of services” so your potential clients can clearly understand

what professional services they are paying for. Explain your “holistic approach” and how it will “improve the quality of life.” Your terminology is meaningful to people familiar with an architect’s services, but remember who your audience is­—most people don’t understand the value that the architect brings to the building process. Your challenge is to educate them, then convert them to clients. Joel VanDyke Partner, Freeman & Major Architects

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Q4 2010

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Q4 2010



useful websites for young entrepreneurs 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.

.............................................................................. Solving the mystery of finding resources for your child, teenager or young adult entrepreneur is as close as your computer. There are a few sites out there that not only provide information and tools for entrepreneurs online, but some provide content designed specifically for the young entrepreneur. Here are three that I think you’ll find useful:

.............................................................................. Sba.go/teens:

by tony snipes

What I really liked about it: This site is big on bringing useful resources together, all on one website.


What’s the site all about? This website was originally launched to teach students how to make money from their dorm rooms. It has turned into much more than that. It’s a blog about the web, business, and entrepreneurship. What I really liked about it: Although it’s basically a blog, it still has a lot of useful links and information perfect for the young entrpreneur


What’s the site all about? This website is actually a part of’s youth channel. It has articles on launching and sustaining a business with the college and young entrepreneur in mind. What I really liked about it: This site’s tools and resources are helpful for entrpreneurs of any age, but the articles in this section speak directly to the young entrepreneur.

What’s the site all about? This site is a part the Small Business Association, an independent agency of the federal government that works to aid, counsel, assist and protect the interests of small business concerns. This site takes the information and resources that the main SBA has for adult entrepreneurs (such as creating a plan, avoiding legal trouble and business launch basics), and makes those resources and information available in a format designed just for teens.

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ck a b d Fee m, advise andisit

ou v stor iz. Brain in when y om/KidB c . h x ig we kBo eBlac 93 Insid Q4 2010

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ob Dempsey didn’t always have the life that he has today. Only six years ago, he couldn’t play with his kids. The host of “Rob and Kristin” on His Radio WLFJ worked 14-hour days constantly. He never went to the pool. Weighing in at more than 308 pounds, Rob says he had been “uncomfortable in his own skin” for a while, but the wakeup call came on a trip to Carowinds amusement park. When it took three amusement park workers to buckle him into a ride at Carowinds—Rob gave up after a twohour wait with his daughter. The embarrasment, and his daughter’s gracious disappointment, prodded him to action. “I realized that I wanted to be around for my kids,” he says, noting that time just over five years ago when he decided to make a change. In 2005, he started “Rob’s Big Losers” team as part of what was then the Greater Greenville ShrinkDown (now Activate Greenville). He found a wellness coach and dedicated six days a week to exercise. In nine months he had lost 100 pounds, but he hasn’t stopped. Since that beginning, Rob has completed five marathons, four triathalons, and countless other runs or cycling events. He’s a strong advocate for Miracle Hill Ministries’ Cycling challenge, and has ridden (on a bike, remember!) cross-country with Christian recording artist Mark Schultz, as well as a trip from the Upstate to Austin,Tex., to benefit cancer research. The life that Rob lives now — much different than it used to be — allows far more quality time with his children (aged 25, 15, 9, and 2), his wife,Amy, and the foster children they’ve chosen to bring into their home. “Being healthy gives me the ability to help these children who are in our care,” he says, noting that over the past two years they have fostered nine children—one of which, they adopted as their youngest son. But most important, Dempsey says, is the inspiration he can provide to others. “The thing that matters to me is trying to help others gain this freedom of being healthy, so that they can achieve the things that they want to do in life, and feel called to do in life.” Because of that, Rob has become a mentor and advocate for many others, including fellow radio hosts or DJs. “I get emails—and I see that my story has been inspiring to others,” he says.“People who are going on a mission trip and want to fit on the plane. Others in my profession who want to just be healthier.” That position, as an advocate for a healthy lifestyle, is something that Rob lives to the fullest—every day. I realize that God gave me a life,” he says. “For a long time I abused that gift, and it affected every area of my life.And so now that I’ve become healthy, I feel like I’ve been honoring the gift that God gave me.”


Q4 2010

Businesss Black Box - Q4 - 2010  

Q4 2010 issue of Business Black Box

Businesss Black Box - Q4 - 2010  

Q4 2010 issue of Business Black Box